Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XI" id="CHAPTER_XI"></SPAN>CHAPTER XI</h2> <h3>THE LETTERS CHANGE HANDS AGAIN</h3> </div> <p>What seemed at the moment an incomprehensible puzzle had, as we afterwards learned, a very simple explanation. One of the G. S. directors, Mr. Baldwin, who had come in on Mr. Camp's car, was the owner of a great cattle-ranch near Rock Butte. When the train had been held at that station for a few minutes, Camp went to the conductor, demanded the cause for the delay, and was shown my telegram. Seeing through the device, the party had at once gone to this ranch, where the owner, Baldwin, mounted them, and it was their dust-cloud we had seen as they rode up to Ash Forks. To make matters more serious, Baldwin had rounded up his cowboys and brought them along with him, in order to make any resistance impossible.<!-- Page 131 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_131" id="Page_131">[Pg 131]</SPAN></span></p> <p>I made no objection to the sheriff serving the paper, though it nearly broke my heart to see Madge's face. To cheer her I said, suggestively, "They've got me, but they haven't got the letters, Miss Cullen. And, remember, it's always darkest before the dawn, and the stars in their courses are against Sisera."</p> <p>With the sheriff and Mr. Camp I then walked over to the saloon, where Judge Wilson was waiting to dispose of my case. Mr. Cullen and Albert tried to come too, but all outsiders were excluded by order of the "court." I was told to show cause why I should not forthwith produce the letters, and answered that I asked an adjournment of the case so that I might be heard by counsel. It was denied, as was to have been expected; indeed, why they took the trouble to go through the forms was beyond me. I told Wilson I should not produce the letters, and he asked if I knew what that meant. I couldn't help laughing and retorting,<!-- Page 132 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_132" id="Page_132">[Pg 132]</SPAN></span>&mdash;</p> <p>"It very appropriately means 'contempt of the court,' your honor."</p> <p>"I'll give you a stiff term, young man," he said.</p> <p>"It will take just one day to have habeas corpus proceedings in a United States court, and one more to get the papers here," I rejoined pleasantly.</p> <p>Seeing that I understood the moves too well to be bluffed, the judge, Mr. Camp, and the lawyer held a whispered consultation. My surprise can be imagined when, at its conclusion, Mr. Camp said,&mdash;</p> <p>"Your honor, I charge Richard Gordon with being concerned in the holding up of the Missouri Western Overland No. 3 on the night of October 14, and ask that he be taken into custody on that charge."</p> <p>I couldn't make out this new move, and puzzled over it, while Judge Wilson ordered my commitment. But the next step revealed the object, for the lawyer then asked for a search-warrant to look for stolen property.<!-- Page 133 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_133" id="Page_133">[Pg 133]</SPAN></span> The judge was equally obliging, and began to fill one out on the instant.</p> <p>This made me feel pretty serious, for the letters were in my breast-pocket, and I swore at my own stupidity in not having put them in the station safe when I had first arrived at Ash Forks. There weren't many moments in which to think while the judge scribbled away at the warrant, but in what time there was I did a lot of head-work, without, however, finding more than one way out of the snarl. And when I saw the judge finish off his signature with a flourish, I played a pretty desperate card.</p> <p>"You're just too late, gentlemen," I said, pointing out the side window of the saloon. "There come the cavalry."</p> <p>The three conspirators jumped to their feet and bolted for the window; even the sheriff turned to look. As he did so I gave him a shove towards the three which sent them all sprawling on the floor in a pretty badly mixed-up condition. I made a dash for the door, and as I went through it I grabbed the<!-- Page 134 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_134" id="Page_134">[Pg 134]</SPAN></span> key and locked them in. When I turned to do so I saw the lot struggling up from the floor, and, knowing that it wouldn't take them many seconds to find their way out through the window, I didn't waste much time in watching them.</p> <p>Camp, Baldwin, and the judge had left their horses just outside the saloon, and there they were still patiently standing, with their bridles thrown over their heads, as only Western horses will stand. It didn't take me long to have those bridles back in place, and as I tossed each over the peak of the Mexican saddle I gave two of the ponies slaps which started them off at a lope across the railroad tracks. I swung myself into the saddle of the third, and flicked him with the loose ends of the bridle in a way which made him understand that I meant business.</p> <p>Baldwin's cowboys had most of them scattered to the various saloons of the place, but two of them were standing in the door-way of a store. I acted so quickly, however, that they didn't seem to take in what I was<!-- Page 135 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_135" id="Page_135">[Pg 135]</SPAN></span> about till I was well mounted. Then I heard a yell, and fearing that they might shoot,&mdash;for the cowboy does love to use his gun,&mdash;I turned sharp at the saloon corner and rode up the side street, just in time to see Camp climbing through the window, with Baldwin's head in view behind him.</p> <p>Before I had ridden a hundred feet I realized that I had a done-up horse under me, and, considering that he had covered over forty miles that afternoon in pretty quick time, it was not surprising that there wasn't very much go left in him. I knew that Baldwin's cowboys could get new mounts in plenty without wasting many minutes, and that then they would overhaul me in very short order. Clearly there was no use in my attempting to escape by running. And, as I wasn't armed, my only hope was to beat them by some finesse.</p> <p>Ash Forks, like all Western railroad towns, is one long line of buildings running parallel with the railway tracks. Two hundred feet, therefore, brought me to the edge of the<!-- Page 136 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_136" id="Page_136">[Pg 136]</SPAN></span> town, and I wheeled my pony and rode down behind the rear of the buildings. In turning, I looked back, and saw half a dozen mounted men already in pursuit, but I lost sight of them the next moment. As soon as I reached a street leading back to the railroad I turned again, and rode towards it, my one thought being to get back, if possible, to the station, and put the letters into the railroad agent's safe.</p> <p>When I reached the main street I saw that my hope was futile, for another batch of cowboys were coming in full gallop towards me, very thoroughly heading me off in that direction. To escape them, I headed up the street away from the station, with the pack in close pursuit. They yelled at me to hold up, and I expected every moment to hear the crack of revolvers, for the poorest shot among them would have found no difficulty in dropping my horse at that distance if they had wanted to stop me. It isn't a very nice sensation to keep your ears pricked up in expectation of hearing the shooting begin, and to know that any moment may be your<!-- Page 137 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_137" id="Page_137">[Pg 137]</SPAN></span> last. I don't suppose I was on the ragged edge more than thirty seconds, but they were enough to prove to me that to keep one's back turned to an enemy as one runs away takes a deal more pluck than to stand up and face his gun. Fortunately for me, my pursuers felt so sure of my capture that not one of them drew a bead on me.</p> <p>The moment I saw that there was no escape, I put my hand in my breast-pocket and took out the letters, intending to tear them into a hundred pieces. But as I did so I realized that to destroy United States mail not merely entailed criminal liability, but was off color morally. I faltered, balancing the outwitting of Camp against State's prison, the doing my best for Madge against the wrong of it. I think I'm as honest a fellow as the average, but I have to confess that I couldn't decide to do right till I thought that Madge wouldn't want me to be dishonest, even for her.</p> <p>I turned across the railroad tracks, and cut in behind some freight-cars that were stand<!-- Page 138 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_138" id="Page_138">[Pg 138]</SPAN></span>ing on a siding. This put me out of view of my pursuers for a moment, and in that instant I stood up in my stirrups, lifted the broad leather flap of the saddle, and tucked the letters underneath it, as far in as I could force them. It was a desperate place in which to hide them, but the game was a desperate one at best, and the very boldness of the idea might be its best chance of success.</p> <p>I was now heading for the station over the ties, and was surprised to see Fred Cullen with Lord Ralles on the tracks up by the special, for my mind had been so busy in the last hour that I had forgotten that Fred was due. The moment I saw him, I rode towards him, pressing my pony for all he was worth. My hope was that I might get time to give Fred the tip as to where the letters were; but before I was within speaking distance Baldwin came running out from behind the station, and, seeing me, turned, called back and gesticulated, evidently to summon some cowboys to head me off.<!-- Page 139 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_139" id="Page_139">[Pg 139]</SPAN></span> Afraid to shout anything which should convey the slightest clue as to the whereabouts of the letters, as the next best thing I pulled a couple of old section reports from my pocket, intending to ride up and run into my car, for I knew that the papers in my hand would be taken to be the wanted letters, and that if I could only get inside the car even for a moment the suspicion would be that I had been able to hide them. Unfortunately, the plan was no sooner thought of than I heard the whistle of a lariat, and before I could guard myself the noose settled over my head. I threw the papers towards Fred and Lord Ralles, shouting, "Hide them!" Fred was quick as a flash, and, grabbing them off the ground, sprang up the steps of my car and ran inside, just escaping a bullet from my pursuers. I tried to pull up my pony, for I did not want to be jerked off, but I was too late, and the next moment I was lying on the ground in a pretty well shaken and jarred condition, surrounded by a lot of men.</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_140" id="Page_140">[Pg 140]</SPAN></span> <h2>
SPONSORED LINKS