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Buck Minor was the most detested man in Wolf Hollow, partly because he was quarrelsome and treacherous, partly because he abused and neglected his little wife, Molly, whom all the camp adored, and for whose sake it tolerated Buck. A bright baby girl was Molly's only comfort and gave her courage to endure the hardships which otherwise must have crushed her. The opening scene of the story shows a street in Wolf Hollow. Buck is on one of his usual rampages, and running into an athletic cowpuncher who is in town to spend his money, he makes an insulting remark and is soundly drubbed by the younger Hercules of the plains. Buck is proud of his fistic ability, and his defeat by a stranger before the denizens of the camp is more than he can stand, so he determines to pull up stakes and migrate to other parts. Stumbling along home to his cabin, he bursts into the one little room where his patient wife is rocking the little child to sleep, and with an angry growl informs her that he is going to "pull his freight" out of Wolf Hollow forever, and that she must accompany him, but leave the baby behind. Molly clasps the child wildly to her breast and begs piteously to be allowed to take her little one, but Buck is obdurate and gains his point by threatening to kill the infant unless she consents to leave it. Scrawling a note which he intends to leave, offering the child to anyone who may find it, he makes preparations for his immediate departure. Clinging wildly to her little one, the distracted mother is soon dragged from the house and told to mount one of the horses waiting without. Thus we see them riding away toward the setting sun, an inhuman father rejoicing in the prospects of shaking the dust of the hater camp from off his boots, a broken-hearted mother choking with sobs, thinking only of the helpless baby alone and deserted in the little cabin on the hill. Slippery Ann, a half-witted girl of the camp, meets Buck and his wife while on her return from a journey into the foothills, and is entrusted with the note Buck has written regarding the child. Hurrying on to Wolf Hollow. Ann turns the note over to Judge Honk, the father of the camp and dispenser of law and justice. The Judge is greatly exercised over the heartlessness of Buck, and calling the inhabitants of the camp about him, soon organizes a rescue party to repair to the deserted cabin of the Minors' and ascertains what truth there was in the strange letter. No time is lost in reaching the shack on the hill, and there, sure enough, lying on the bed is the infant. Taking it up rather gingerly in his arms, as though he were afraid of breaking it. Judge Honk heads the procession out the door and down the hill to the camp where a mass meeting is at once held to discuss ways and means of taking care of the kid. Cherokee Jim, the bartender of the "thirst emporium," suggests that they raffle off the youngster and whoever draws the winning card shall be the kid's adopted daddy. The raffle is quickly pulled off, and Ben Brooks, a good-natured, big-hearted cowpuncher, draws the lucky number. Ben almost reneges when he realizes what he has on his hands, but the cheers of good wishes of the rest of the bunch brace him up and they all retire to the "thirst parlor" to have one on the new daddy. After that "Ben's Kid" (as the baby is christened) becomes the one absorbing topic of conversation. Around the camp that night in the bunk house, a half-dozen sleepy punchers are trying to get some rest, while Ben in his bare feet is prancing around the room, jolting the baby up and down, while the youngster, terrified at its new surroundings, is making the welkin ring with its screams. "Fatty Carter," the heaviest weight on the range, does an Indian war dance, but to no avail. At last they all agree that the kid is sick, and a puncher is at once dispatched on the fastest bronco on the ranch to bring Judge Honk to the scene of battle at once (every one, of course, having absolute faith in the ability and knowledge of the Judge in all matters) to bring them out of the difficulty. The Judge soon arrives loaded down with mustard, and old-fashioned remedies of all kinds, and at once starts in to bring order out of chaos. Now, to return to Buck and his heartbroken wife. All afternoon they have traveled until near nightfall. The horses are unsaddled, the pack removed from the lead animal, and preparations are made to camp till morning. Now Molly has been turning over in her mind a plan, although a desperate one, it seems, the only loophole out of her present misery. Waiting until Buck has fallen into a sound slumber, she cautiously steals away from the camp fire and makes for a clump of trees in which are fettered the horses. Releasing her pony, she springs on his back and dashes away in the black night over the homeward trail. Aroused by the sound of her horses' hoofs. Buck awakes, and with a terrible oath upon realizing that Molly has outwitted him, goes crashing through the brush to his horse, and quickly saddling him, gallops away in pursuit of the fleeing woman, determined to overtake and kill her rather than let her escape from him for good. But he does not reckon on the swiftness of Molly's mount, and though he plies both whip and spur, his jaded horse is unable to gain a foot on the game little sorrel. On over rocks, through the stream, now down the slope of the mountain and across the gulch speeds the desperate woman, every nerve pounding on her brain, and every muscle strained to its utmost tension, her lips moving in silent prayer that she might outstrip the dread pursuer and regain the child fur whom her mother's heart cries out in bitter anguish. At last, brave girl, the goal is reached. Her way leads past the ranch on which Ben Brooks and the U.X. outfit are quartered, and seeing a light in the bunk house, the terrified woman heads her horse toward the beacon ray of hope. She barely reaches the door when the infuriated husband dashes up, bursting into the room. Molly startles the boys and the Judge into action. Buck, losing his head beyond control, follows her. "Save me," shrieks the terrified Molly. In an instant Buck finds himself in the grasp of a dozen willing hands. With a strength born of frenzy, he dashes them aside and draws his gun to shoot the cowering girl, when his aim is spoiled by quick action on Ben's part, and the Judge gets the bullet in his arm. Howling with pain, he yells to the punchers to hang the "varmint." But Buck is too quick for them, and knocking down a couple of the buys, he rushes his way out the door, and throwing himself into the saddle, plunges away into the night. No time is lost in going after him. Twenty swift riders are in the saddle before ten minutes have elapsed and they are off after the hated Buck, whose horse, already worn out from the other chase, is soon overtaken. A lariat hurls through the air and settles down about his neck, thus ending all hopes of escape for the fugitive. A letter written a year later to the Judge tells us what they did to Buck, while Molly, the pretty widow, is persuaded to let Ben retain his title to the kid by allowing Judge Honk to tie the knot, and Mr. and Mrs. Brooks start out on life's journey together, taking with them the good will and well wishes of the entire camp. -- The Moving Picture World, June 26, 1909


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