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Matt Cordell has been noticed before for his outstanding recoveries. He had received a telegram from a woman, Elizabeth Talbert, who requested him to meet her at the Interocean Hotel. She had something important to ask him. When he got there, Mrs. Talbert told Cordell what was so important. She wanted Cordell to find her son, who had left a month ago to paint. She had money stored in a bank in Tucson, but it was never withdrawn. Cordell did not agree with it right away, but with Mrs. Talbert’s persuasive talking, he ended up taking the job. The catch was that Mrs. Talbert would go along, Cordell did not agree with this. The next day, they headed out.
While riding, they came upon a dead man. He had a bullet hole in his chest, and all of his pockets were turned inside out. The body had not been lying there long, and there were still tracks around the body and hoof prints from the horses. Cordell loaded the body onto the horse, and they rode to Benson.
When they got to Benson, they headed to the office of Sam Keaton, the sheriff. Sam was not a nice guy, and Cordell could tell from the beginning that there was something bad about him. Cordell talked to Sam about the killing and asked if Sam would arrange a proper burial.
When Mrs. Talbert and Cordell left, they went to the stable and met Jamie Kilcannon. Later, they went to the hotel and checked in. Cordell told Mrs. Talbert to meet him in an hour, and they would go get something to eat. But instead, Mrs. Talbert snuck out. When Cordell noticed that she was gone, it was already too late. She was in a bar with a bunch of rough men, and Cordell had to fight them to save her. They barely escaped and went back to the motel room.
Late that night when Cordell was sleeping, he heard the scraping of a key in the lock of his door. The person at the door was Meg Demsey, a saloon girl. She told Cordell that she had some information on Paul. She had a drawing of her signed by Paul.
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The next day when Cordell went down in the lobby, Mrs. Talbert and a big burly man were talking. The man she was talking to was Ben Fieldhouse, the brother of the guy they found dead. When talking, he told Cordell about the Danby Gang, Wes and Sam Danby. They were raiding their mineshaft and were trying to scare them off. They had done this before to other miners; then, when they were gone, a company out of Denver, Colorado, would buy the mines. After a while, Ben left.
Cordell went to the store to buy some food and other supplies. While he was there, a man came in and asked if his order came in yet. It was an order of paint supplies. Cordell walked up to the man and said that he did not look like a painter. Then, all of a sudden, Cordell was unconscious. When he woke up, his head hurt, and it was bleeding. The storeowner said he fainted, but Cordell did not believe him. When Cordell left, he went to the stable and asked Jamie if he knew who the guy was. Jamie said it was Wes Danby, and he had a camp somewhere up in the Dragoon Mountains.
Later that night when Mrs. Talbert and Cordell were eating, a messenger came up to them and asked Cordell to follow him to Ben’s mine. Cordell did so, and when they got there, Ben told Cordell that Wes and the others have planned an attack for tonight. Ben, Cordell, and the boy set up trip wires around camp. When the riders came, Ben and Cordell got the best of them and killed at least a half dozen, but Cordell took a bullet right in the leg. When they got Cordell fixed up, they went out to see if any of the other guys were still alive. One man was, and Cordell forced the answers out him. Now, he knew where Paul was and that he was all right. Cordell went back into town that night.
Cordell went up to his room, and when he opened his door, a chair clattered to the floor. Cordell lit the light and saw that Meg was lying on his bed dead. She had bruises and a little green spot on her neck, but Cordell did not know what it was. Then, Sam Keaton walked in and arrested Cordell with a smirk on his face.
Ben had heard about all this and knew it could not be true. Cordell was injured and would never kill anyone. Ben and Mrs. Talbert thought of a plan. Mrs. Talbert would distract the deputy by talking to him. Then, all of a sudden, a masked man, Ben, would enter the office and knock out the deputy. Ben searched through the drawers and found keys, Cordell’s gun, and some important looking papers that he decided to keep. Cordell and Ben rode off to find Paul in the mountains, while Mrs. Talbert stayed in town with the deputy.
When they rode to the Danby’s camp, someone was following them. It was Jamie Kilcannon who wanted to help. Cordell told Jamie to ride to Tucson with some papers. The papers that Ben picked up were for the mines that where bought by the company in Denver, owned by Sam Keaton and Wes Danby. Jamie was to get the Marshall and come back to Benson. Later that night, Ben and Cordell attacked the camp. They killed everyone except one guy who was running away with Paul. Cordell yelled and pretty soon Paul came back. When sitting around the fire, Ben tossed Cordell a locket and told him he had found it below. When he opened it, there was a picture of Mrs. Talbert and Sam Danby. This is when Cordell figures out that Paul is Sam and Elizabeth’s son.
The next day, they rode back into town and the Marshall, John Towers, was waiting for them. Cordell had to prove that he did not commit the murder. When Cordell was talking to Sam Keaton, about the night of the arrest, Cordell noticed an Indian bracelet that Sam was wearing. Cordell requested to talk to the undertaker. Cordell asked the undertaker if he noticed a green spot on Meg’s neck, when he was preparing the body. The undertaker replied yes. It was the same color of green that was on the inside of the bracelet. It was copper corroded from the warm climate that Sam lived in. This little bit of evidence got Cordell off the hook, and Sam was locked away for a long time.
The next day, Cordell, Mrs. Talbert, and Paul were getting ready to go home when John Towers stopped them. He asked Paul if he had a drawing of the man that escaped. Paul replied no; he must of lost it. Cordell really knew that Paul figured out that Sam Danby was his father.
In the story, there are many examples that show Cordell is a risky man. Cordell uses his smarts and his skills to find Paul and return him to St. Louis.