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Teenage Rory travels with Cheyenne to recover lost gold in treacherous country with bandits on their heels.

Notes

  • Author Steve Frazee also wrote the scripts to the Cheyenne TV episodes Big Ghost Basin and The Bounty Killers, plus four episodes of the sister series Bronco.
  • Artist Toni Sgroi also illustrated the Cheyenne Coloring Book.
  • The edition released in England featured an alternate cover with a photo of Clint Walker that appeared on the cover of Cheyenne Comic No. 14. The back cover of the book listed it as part of the "Television Favourites Library" including other titles based on Maverick, Wagon Train, The Rifleman, and more popular western shows of the time.

Plot

Rory Ballantine is a 15-year-old towner helping his father operate the livery stable in Shavano. Rory’s favorite past times are fishing and exploring a wilderness area not far from town known as Lion Park, a place of dangerous bogs, twisting canyons and mystery. When a stranger named Cheyenne Bodie rides into town inquiring about the park and a prospector he’s looking for named Jason Fleet, Rory knows he’s the natural candidate to guide the tall cowboy into the wilderness. But first, Rory has to get his chores done and convince his father, the former sheriff, that he can help. He’s successful at both.

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Cheyenne and Rory look for clues to the fate of the old prospector.

Cheyenne and Rory ride into the wilderness, the boy learns Cheyenne is an agent of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad on a mission to recoup $29,000 in gold stolen by the Braswell Brothers two decades ago. The robbers escaped into the park, but they and the gold were never seen again. Fleet was the only other person who knew of the brothers' hideout. After serving time for cattle rustling, Fleet was released and he returned to the area. Bodie suspects he’s snooping around for the hidden fortune.
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Rory is spotted by one of the "plug uglies".

Unfortunately, loose tongues have let some of these vital details slip. The pair are being followed by two tough customers, Jim Bohrman who served time with Fleet, and Stan Fenwick, another no-good from town who has been fired from nearly every ranch in the territory. The men are dangerous and Rory frets that Cheyenne will send him back to town to avoid trouble. He wants to stay and be part of the adventure.

Cheyenne picks up Fleet’s trail soon enough and they come across his camp. But he is a suspicious sort and doesn’t want guests or partners. He eludes Cheyenne and Rory and disappears into a bog.

Why are they following Fleet, anyway? Well, the old man made a cryptic map to the gold’s location and the two “plug-uglies” prove they are willing to kill to get it. Cheyenne and Rory find Fleet shot and dying. However, he creatively found a way to keep the map out of everyone's hands. Cheyenne tracks down the crude document. It is vague, but he and the boy manage to match Fleet’s symbols with landmarks in the park. Bohrman and Fenwick corner them and they have to trade their lives for the map. Luckily, they have committed it to memory.

Our heroes make their way along the map’s landmarks and discover an abandoned cabin and corral with mounds of horse bones dotting the yard. The Braswells’ hideout has long since gone to seed. There’s no sign of hidden gold or the brothers until Cheyenne walks out to the rock face. There he finds the skeletal remains of the outlaws partially buried under a rock slide. It appears the men were trying to escape this sudden act of nature but it claimed their lives.  

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Cheyenne and Rory discover what happened to the brother bandits.

With half the mystery solved, Cheyenne enlists Rory’s help in making a deadfall trap along the trail if the plug-uglies decide to follow them. While the tall cowboy keeps a lookout, Rory searches for signs of the stolen gold. He finds a tell-tale pry bar in the cabin and after searching around, sees ground that was once disturbed. He moves the rocks using the bar and the glint of gold catches his eye. He’s uncovered a sizable stash of gold, more than just the $29,000 that Cheyenne is to return to the railroad company!  

With typical bad timing, Bohrman and Fenwick are coming up the trail to the cabin. Cheyenne looses the deadfall and Bohrman is clobbered by the falling tree. Fenwick draws but Cheyenne shoots a well-placed bullet into his gun hand that disarms him. Both men are subdued and tied up. 

Cheyenne and Rory head back to their campsite with the outlaws tied up and in tow. Jed Ballantine is there waiting for them. Rory shares the story of their successful mission with his father. He has a reward to look forward to and a collection of outlaw guns formerly owned by the Braswells to carry home. 

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