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KI SING IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY.
Ki Sing turned when he heard the sound of horses' feet, for in that mountain-solitude such a sound was unusual. He was not reassured by the appearance of the two men, whose intention seemed to be to overtake him, and he turned aside from the path with the intention of getting out of the way.
"Stop there, you heathen!" called Bill Mosely in his fiercest tone.
Ki Sing halted, and an expression of uneasiness came over his broad, flat face.
"What are you doing here, you Chinese loafer?"
Ki Sing did not exactly comprehend this speech, but answered mildly, "How do, Melican man?"
"How do?" echoed Bill Mosely, laughing rather boisterously.--"Tom, the heathen wants to know how I do.--Well, heathen, I'm so's to be around, and wouldn't mind chawing up a dozen Chinamen. Where do you live?"
"Up mountain," answered Ki Sing.
The Chinaman pointed in the right direction.
"What do you do for a living?"
"Wait on Melican man--cookee, washee."
"So you are a servant to a white man, John?"
"Don't you call me John, you yellow mummy! I'm not one of your countrymen, I reckon.--What do you say to that, Tom? The fellow's gettin' familiar."
"I should say so," remarked Tom Hadley, with his usual originality.
"What's the name of the Melican man you work for?" continued Mosely, after a slight pause.
"Dickee Dewee," answered Ki Sing, repeating the familiar name applied by Bradley to the invalid. The name seemed still more odd as the Chinaman pronounced it.
"Well, he's got a queer name, that's all I can say," continued Mosely. "What's your name?"
"Ki Sing? How's Mrs. Ki Sing?" asked Mosely, who was disposed, like the cat, to play with his victim before turning and rending him.
"Me got no wifee," said the Chinaman, stolidly.
"Then you're in the market. Do you want to marry?"
"Me no want to mally?"
"So much the worse for the ladies. Well, as to this Dickee, as you call him? What does he do?"
"He sick--lie down on bedee."
"He's sick, is he? What's the matter with him?"
"Fall down and hurt leggee."
"Oh, that was it? What did he do before he hurt himself?"
Bill Mosely became more interested. "Did he find much gold?" he asked eagerly.
"Yes, muchee," answered Ki Sing, unsuspiciously.
"Does he keep it with him?"
Bill Mosely betrayed a little too much interest when he asked this question, and the Chinaman, hitherto unsuspicious, became on his guard.
"Why you wantee know?" he asked shrewdly.
"Do you dare give me any of your back talk, you yellow heathen?" exclaimed Mosely, angrily. "Answer my question, or I'll chaw you up in less'n a minute."
"What you ask?" said Ki Sing, innocently.
"You know well enough. Where does this Dickee keep the gold he found before he met with an accident?"
"He no tellee me," answered Ki Sing.
This might be true, so that Mosely did not feel sure that the Chinaman's ignorance was feigned. Still, he resolved to push the inquiry, in the hope of eliciting some information that might be of value, for already a plan had come into his mind which was in accordance with his general character and reputation--that of relieving the invalid of his hoard of gold-dust.
"Where do you think he keeps the gold, John?" he asked mildly.
Ki Sing looked particularly vacant as he expressed his ignorance on this subject.
"Has he got a cabin up there?" asked Mosely.
"And how far might it be?"
"Long way," answered Ki Sing, who wished to divert Mosely from the plan which the faithful servant could see he had in view.
Bill Mosely was keen enough to understand the Chinaman's meaning, and answered, "Long or not, I will go and see your master. I am a doctor," he added, winking to Hadley, "and perhaps I can help him.--Ain't I a doctor, Tom?"
"I should say so," answered Hadley, whose respect for truth did not interfere with his corroborating in his usual style anything which his companion saw fit to assert.
Ki Sing did not express any opinion on the subject of Bill Mosely's medical pretensions, though he was quite incredulous.
"Lead the way, John," said Mosely.
"Where me go?" asked the Chinaman innocently.
"Go? Go to the cabin where your master lives, and that by the shortest path. Do you hear?"
Ki Sing, however, still faithful to the man who had befriended him in the hour of danger, did not direct his course toward Richard Dewey's cabin, but guided the two adventurers in a different direction. The course he took was a circuitous one, taking him no farther away from the cabin, but encircling the summit and drawing no nearer to it. He hoped that the two men, whose purpose he suspected was not honest nor friendly, would become tired and would give up the quest.
He did not, however, understand the perseverance of Mosely when he felt that he was on the scent of gold.
Finally, Mosely spoke. "John," he said, "is the cabin near by?"
Ki Sing shook his head. "Long way," he answered.
"How did you happen to get so far away from it, then, I should like to know?" and he examined the face of his guide sharply.
But Ki Sing's broad face seemed utterly void of expression as, neglecting to answer the question, he reiterated his statement, "Housee long way."
"The man's a fool, Tom," said Mosely, turning to his companion.
"I should say so," was all the help he got from Hadley.
"Do you know what I mean to do, Hadley?--Here, you yellow mummy, go a little ahead." (The Chinaman did so.)--"There's a bonanza up there in that cabin, wherever it is. The Chinaman says that this man with the queer name had got out a good deal of gold before he met with an accident--broke his leg, likely. Well, it stands to reason he's got the gold now. There ain't no chance here of sendin' off the dust, and of course he's got it hid somewhere in his cabin. Do you see the point, Tom?"
"I should say so."
"And I should say so too. It strikes me as a particularly good chance. This man is disabled and helpless. He can't prevent us walking off with his gold, can he?"
"Suppose he won't tell us where it is?" suggested Tom Hadley with extraordinary mental acuteness.
"Why, we'll knock him on the head or put a bullet in him, Hadley. It's a pity if two fire-eaters like us can't tackle a man with a broken leg. What do you say?"
"I should say so."
Fifteen minutes more passed, and they seemed to be getting no nearer their destination. At any rate, no cabin was in sight. Ki Sing only answered, when interrogated, "Long way."
"Hadley," said Bill Mosely, "I begin to believe that heathen's misleading us. What do you say?"
"I should say so."
"Then I'll attend to his case.--Here, you heathen!"
Bill Mosely sprang from his mustang, seized Ki Sing, and, in spite of howls, with Hadley's assistance tied him to a small tree with a strong cord he had in his pocket.
"That disposes of you, my friend," he said, mounting his mustang. "I think we shall find the cabin better without you."
The two men rode off, leaving poor Ki Sing in what appeared, considering the loneliness of the spot, to be hopeless captivity.
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