Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="CHAPTER_IV" id="CHAPTER_IV"></SPAN>CHAPTER IV</h2> <h3>SOME RATHER QUEER ROAD AGENTS</h3> </div> <p>"You had better come back to the car, Miss Cullen," remarked Lord Ralles, after a pause.</p> <p>But she declined to do so, saying she wanted to know what I was going to telegraph; and he left us, for which I wasn't sorry. I told her of the good news I had to send, and she wanted to know if now we would try to catch the road agents. I set her mind at rest on that score.</p> <p>"I think they'll give us very little trouble to bag," I added, "for they are so green that it's almost pitiful."</p> <p>"In not cutting the wires?" she asked.</p> <p>"In everything," I replied. "But the worst botch is their waiting till we had just passed the Arizona line. If they had held<!-- Page 44 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_44" id="Page_44">[Pg 44]</SPAN></span> us up an hour earlier, it would only have been State's prison."</p> <p>"And what will it be now?"</p> <p>"Hanging."</p> <p>"What?" cried Miss Cullen.</p> <p>"In New Mexico train-robbing is not capital, but in Arizona it is," I told her.</p> <p>"And if you catch them they'll be hung?" she asked.</p> <p>"Yes."</p> <p>"That seems very hard."</p> <p>The first signs of dawn were beginning to show by this time, and as the sky brightened I told Miss Cullen that I was going to look for the trail of the fugitives. She said she would walk with me, if not in the way, and my assurance was very positive on that point. And here I want to remark that it's saying a good deal if a girl can be up all night in such excitement and still look fresh and pretty, and that she did.</p> <p>I ordered the crew to look about, and then began a big circle around the train. Finding nothing, I swung a bigger one. That being<!-- Page 45 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_45" id="Page_45">[Pg 45]</SPAN></span> equally unavailing, I did a larger third. Not a trace of foot or hoof within a half-mile of the cars! I had heard of blankets laid down to conceal a trail, of swathed feet, even of leathern horse-boots with cattle-hoofs on the bottom, but none of these could have been used for such a distance, let alone the entire absence of any signs of a place where the horses had been hobbled. Returning to the train, the report of the men was the same.</p> <p>"We've ghost road agents to deal with, Miss Cullen," I laughed. "They come from nowhere, bullets touch them not, their lead hurts nobody, they take nothing, and they disappear without touching the ground."</p> <p>"How curious it is!" she exclaimed. "One would almost suppose it a dream."</p> <p>"Hold on," I said. "We do have something tangible, for if they disappeared they left their shells behind them." And I pointed to some cartridge-shells that lay on the ground beside the mail-car. "My theory of aerial bullets won't do."<!-- Page 46 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_46" id="Page_46">[Pg 46]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"The shells are as hollow as I feel," laughed Miss Cullen.</p> <p>"Your suggestion reminds me that I am desperately hungry," I said. "Suppose we go back and end the famine."</p> <p>Most of the passengers had long since returned to their seats or berths, and Mr. Cullen's party had apparently done the same, for 218 showed no signs of life. One of my darkies was awake, and he broiled a steak and made us some coffee in no time, and just as they were ready Albert Cullen appeared, so we made a very jolly little breakfast. He told me at length the part he and the Britishers had borne, and only made me marvel the more that any one of them was alive, for apparently they had jumped off the car without the slightest precaution, and had stood grouped together, even after they had called attention to themselves by Lord Ralles's shots. Cullen had to confess that he heard the whistle of the four bullets unpleasantly close.</p> <p>"You have a right to be proud, Mr.<!-- Page 47 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_47" id="Page_47">[Pg 47]</SPAN></span> Cullen," I said. "You fellows did a tremendously plucky thing, and, thanks to you, we didn't lose anything."</p> <p>"But you went to help too, Mr. Gordon," added Miss Cullen.</p> <p>That made me color up, and, after a moment's hesitation, I said,&mdash;</p> <p>"I'm not going to sail under false colors, Miss Cullen. When I went forward I didn't think I could do anything. I supposed whoever had pitched into the robbers was dead, and I expected to be the same inside of ten minutes."</p> <p>"Then why did you risk your life," she asked, "if you thought it was useless?"</p> <p>I laughed, and, though ashamed to tell it, replied, "I didn't want you to think that the Britishers had more pluck than I had."</p> <p>She took my confession better than I hoped she would, laughing with me, and then said, "Well, that was courageous, after all."</p> <p>"Yes," I confessed, "I was frightened into bravery."<!-- Page 48 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_48" id="Page_48">[Pg 48]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Perhaps if they had known the danger as well as you, they would have been less courageous," she continued; and I could have blessed her for the speech.</p> <p>While we were still eating, the mail clerk came to my car and reported that the most careful search had failed to discover the three registered letters, and they had evidently been taken. This made me feel sober, slight as the probable loss was. He told me that his list showed they were all addressed to Ash Forks, Arizona, making it improbable that their contents could be of any real value. If possible, I was more puzzled than ever.</p> <p>At six-ten the runner whistled to show he had steam up. I told one of the brakemen to stay behind, and then went into 218. Mr. Cullen was still dressing, but I expressed my regrets through the door that I could not go with his party to the Grand Ca&ntilde;on, told him that all the stage arrangements had been completed, and promised to join him there in case my luck was good. Then I saw Frederic for a moment, to see how he was<!-- Page 49 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_49" id="Page_49">[Pg 49]</SPAN></span> (for I had nearly forgotten him in the excitement), to find that he was gaining all the time, and preparing even to get up. When I returned to the saloon, the rest of the party were there, and I bade <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'good-bye'"><SPAN name="goodby1" id="goodby1"></SPAN>good-by</ins> to the captain and Albert. Then I turned to Lord Ralles, and, holding out my hand, said,&mdash;</p> <p>"Lord Ralles, I joked a little the other morning about the way you thought road agents ought to be treated. You have turned the joke very neatly and pluckily, and I want to apologize for myself and thank you for the railroad."</p> <p>"Neither is necessary," he retorted airily, pretending not to see my hand.</p> <p>I never claimed to have a good temper, and it was all I could do to hold myself in. I turned to Miss Cullen to wish her a pleasant trip, and the thought that this might be our last meeting made me forget even Lord Ralles.</p> <p>"I hope it isn't <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'good-bye'"><SPAN name="goodby2" id="goodby2"></SPAN>good-by</ins>, but only <i>au revoir</i>," she said. "Whether or no, you<!-- Page 50 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_50" id="Page_50">[Pg 50]</SPAN></span> must let us see you some time in Chicago, so that I may show you how grateful I am for all the pleasure you have added to our trip." Then, as I stepped down off my platform, she leaned over the rail of 218, and added, in a low voice, "I thought you were just as brave as the rest, Mr. Gordon, and now I think you are braver."</p> <p>I turned impulsively, and said, "You would think so, Miss Cullen, if you knew the sacrifice I am making." Then, without looking at her, I gave the signal, the bell rang, and No. 3 pulled off. The last thing I saw was a handkerchief waving off the platform of 218.</p> <p>When the train dropped out of sight over a grade, I swallowed the lump in my throat and went to the telegraph instrument. I wired Coolidge to give the alarm to Fort Wingate, Fort Apache, Fort Thomas, Fort Grant, Fort Bayard, and Fort Whipple, though I thought the precaution a mere waste of energy. Then I sent the brakeman up to connect the cut wire.<!-- Page 51 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_51" id="Page_51">[Pg 51]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Two of the bullets struck up here, Mr. Gordon," the man called from the top of the pole.</p> <p>"Surely not!" I exclaimed.</p> <p>"Yes, sir," he responded. "The bullet-holes are brand-new."</p> <p>I took in the lay of the land, the embers of the fire showing me how the train had lain. "I don't wonder nobody was hit," I exclaimed, "if that's a sample of their shooting. Some one was a worse rattled man than I ever expect to be. Dig the bullets out, Douglas, so that we can have a look at them."</p> <p>He brought them down in a minute. They proved to be Winchesters, as I had expected, for they were on the side from which the robbers must have fired.</p> <p>"That chap must have been full of Arizona tangle-foot, to have fired as wild as he did," I ejaculated, and walked over to where the mail-car had stood, to see just how bad the shooting was. When I got there and faced about, it was really impossible to<!-- Page 52 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_52" id="Page_52">[Pg 52]</SPAN></span> believe any man could have done so badly, for raising my own Winchester to the pole put it twenty degrees out of range and nearly forty degrees in the air. Yet there were the cartridge-shells on the ground, to show that I was in the place from which the shots had been fired.</p> <p>While I was still cogitating over this, the special train I had ordered out from Flagstaff came in sight, and in a few moments was stopped where I was. It consisted of a string of three flats and a box car, and brought the sheriff, a dozen cowboys whom he had sworn in as deputies, and their horses. I was hopeful that with these fellows' greater skill in such matters they could find what I had not, but after a thorough examination of the ground within a mile of the robbery they were as much at fault as I had been.</p> <p>"Them cusses must have a dugout nigh abouts, for they couldn't 'a' got away without wings," the sheriff surmised.</p> <p>I didn't put much stock in that idea, and told the sheriff so.<!-- Page 53 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_53" id="Page_53">[Pg 53]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Waal, round up a better one," was his retort.</p> <p>Not being able to do that, I told him of the bullets in the telegraph pole, and took him over to where the mail car had stood.</p> <p>"Jerusalem crickets!" was his comment as he measured the aim. "If that's where they put two of their pills, they must have pumped the other four inter the moon."</p> <p>"What other four?" I asked.</p> <p>"Shots," he replied sententiously.</p> <p>"The road agents only fired four times," I told him.</p> <p>"Them and your pards must have been pretty nigh together for a minute, then," he said, pointing to the ground.</p> <p>I glanced down, and sure enough, there were six empty cartridge-shells. I stood looking blankly at them, hardly able to believe what I saw; for Albert Cullen had said distinctly that the train-robbers had fired only four times, and that the last three Winchester shots I had heard had been fired by himself. Then, without speaking, I walked<!-- Page 54 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_54" id="Page_54">[Pg 54]</SPAN></span> slowly back, searching along the edge of the road-bed for more shells; but, though I went beyond the point where the last car had stood, not one did I find. Any man who has fired a Winchester knows that it drops its empty shell in loading, and I could therefore draw only one conclusion,&mdash;namely, that all seven discharges of the Winchesters had occurred up by the mail-car. I had heard of men supposing they had fired their guns through hearing another go off; but with a repeating rifle one has to fire before one can reload. The fact was evident that Albert Cullen either had fired his Winchester up by the mail-car, or else had not fired it at all. In either case he had lied, and Lord Ralles and Captain Ackland had backed him up in it.</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_55" id="Page_55">[Pg 55]</SPAN></span> <h2>
SPONSORED LINKS