Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XII" id="CHAPTER_XII"></SPAN>CHAPTER XII</h2> <h3>AN EVENING IN JAIL</h3> </div> <p>Before my ideas had had time to straighten themselves out, I was lifted to my feet, and half pushed, half lifted to the station platform. Camp was already there, and as I took this fact in I saw Frederic and his lordship pulled through the <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'doorway'"><SPAN name="dway" id="dway">door-way</SPAN></ins> of my car by the cowboys and dragged out on the platform beside me. The reports were now in Lord Ralles's hands.</p> <p>"That's what we want, boys," cried Camp. "Those letters."</p> <p>"Take your hands off me," said Lord Ralles, coolly, "and I'll give them to you."</p> <p>The men who had hold of his arms let go of him, and quick as a flash Ralles tore the papers in two. He tried to tear them once more, but, before he could do<!-- Page 141 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_141" id="Page_141">[Pg 141]</SPAN></span> so, half a dozen men were holding him, and the papers were forced out of his hands.</p> <p>Albert Cullen&mdash;for all of them were on the platform of 218 by this time&mdash;shouted, "Well done, Ralles!" quite forgetting in the excitement of the moment his English accent and drawl.</p> <p>Apparently Camp didn't agree with him, for he ripped out a string of oaths which he impartially divided among Ralles, the cowboys, and myself. I was decidedly sorry that I hadn't given the real letters, for his lordship clearly had no scruple about destroying them, and I knew few men whom I would have seen behind prison-bars with as little personal regret. However, no one had, so far as I could see, paid the slightest attention to the pony, and the probabilities were that he was already headed for Baldwin's ranch, with no likelihood of his stopping till he reached home. At least that was what I hoped; but there were a lot of ponies standing about, and, not knowing the<!-- Page 142 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_142" id="Page_142">[Pg 142]</SPAN></span> markings of the one I had ridden, I wasn't able to tell whether he might not be among them.</p> <p>Just as the fragments of the papers were passed over to Mr. Camp, he was joined by Baldwin and the judge, and Camp held the torn pieces up to them, saying,&mdash;</p> <p>"They've torn the proxies in two."</p> <p>"Don't let that trouble you," said the judge. "Make an affidavit before me, reciting the manner in which they were destroyed, and I'll grant you a mandamus compelling the directors to accept them as bona-fide proxies. Let me see how much injured they are."</p> <p>Camp unfolded the papers, and I chuckled to myself at the look of surprise that overspread his face as he took in the fact that they were nothing but section reports. And, though I don't like cuss-words, I have to acknowledge that I enjoyed the two or three that he promptly ejaculated.</p> <p>When the first surprise of the trio was over, they called on the sheriff, who arrived<!-- Page 143 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_143" id="Page_143">[Pg 143]</SPAN></span> opportunely, to take us into 97 and search the three of us,&mdash;a proceeding that puzzled Fred and his lordship not a little, for they weren't on to the fact that the letters hadn't been recovered. I presume the latter will some day write a book dwelling on the favorite theme of the foreigner, that there is no personal privacy in America, and I don't know but his experiences justify the view. The running remarks as the search was made seemed to open Fred's eyes, for he looked at me with a puzzled air, but I winked and frowned at him, and he put his face in order.</p> <p>When the papers were not found on any of us, Camp and Baldwin both nearly went demented. Baldwin suggested that I had never had the papers, but Camp argued that Fred or Lord Ralles must have hidden them in the car, in spite of the fact that the cowboys who had caught them insisted that they couldn't have had time to hide the papers. Anyway, they spent an hour in ferreting about in my car, and even searched my two<!-- Page 144 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_144" id="Page_144">[Pg 144]</SPAN></span> darkies, on the possibility that the true letters had been passed on to them.</p> <p>While they were engaged in this, I was trying to think out some way of letting Mr. Cullen and Albert know where the letters were. The problem was to suggest the saddle to them, without letting the cowboys understand, and by good luck I thought I had the means. Albert had complained to me the day we had ridden out to the Indian dwellings at Flagstaff that his saddle fretted some galled spots which he had chafed on his trip to Moran's Point. Hoping he would "catch on," I shouted to him,&mdash;</p> <p>"How are your sore spots, Albert?"</p> <p>He looked at me in a puzzled way, and called, "Aw, I don't understand you."</p> <p>"Those sore spots you complained about to me the day before yesterday," I explained.</p> <p>He didn't seem any the less befogged as he replied, "I had forgotten all about them."</p> <p>"I've got a touch of the same trouble,"<!-- Page 145 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_145" id="Page_145">[Pg 145]</SPAN></span> I went on; "and, if I were you, I'd look into the cause."</p> <p>Albert only looked very much mystified, and I didn't dare say more, for at this point the trio, with the sheriff, came out of my car. If I hadn't known that the letters were safe, I could have read the story in their faces, for more disgusted and angry-looking men I have rarely seen.</p> <p>They had a talk with the sheriff, and then Fred, Lord Ralles, and I were marched off by the official, his lordship loudly demanding sight of a warrant, and protesting against the illegality of his arrest, varied at moments by threats to appeal to the British consul, minister plenipo., <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'her Majesty's'"><SPAN name="hmajesty" id="hmajesty">Her Majesty's</SPAN></ins> Foreign Office, etc., all of which had about as much influence on the sheriff and his cowboy assistants as a Moqui Indian snake-dance would have in stopping a runaway engine. I confess to feeling a certain grim satisfaction in the fact that if I was to be shut off from seeing Madge, the Britisher was in the same box with me.<!-- Page 146 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_146" id="Page_146">[Pg 146]</SPAN></span></p> <p>Ash Forks, though only six years old, had advanced far enough towards civilization to have a small jail, and into that we were shoved. Night was come by the time we were lodged there, and, being in pretty good appetite, I struck the sheriff for some grub.</p> <p>"I'll git yer somethin'," he said, good-naturedly; "but next time yer shove people, Mr. Gordon, just quit shovin' yer friends. My shoulder feels like&mdash;" perhaps it's just as well not to say what his shoulder felt like. The Western vocabulary is expressive, but at times not quite fit for publication.</p> <p>The moment the sheriff was gone, Fred wanted the mystery of the letters explained, and I told him all there was to tell, including as good a description of the pony as I could give him. We tried to hit on some plan to get word to those outside, but it wasn't to be done. At least it was a point gained that some one of our party besides myself knew where the letters were.</p> <p>The sheriff returned presently with a loaf<!-- Page 147 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_147" id="Page_147">[Pg 147]</SPAN></span> of canned bread and a tin of beans. If I had been alone, I should have kicked at the food and got permission for my darkies to send me up something from 97; but I thought I'd see how Lord Ralles would like genuine Western fare, so I said nothing. That, I have to state, is more&mdash;or rather less&mdash;than the Britisher did, after he had sampled the stuff; and really I don't blame him, much as I enjoyed his rage and disgust.</p> <p>It didn't take long to finish our supper, and then Fred, who hadn't slept much the night before, stretched out on the floor and went to sleep. Lord Ralles and I sat on boxes&mdash;the only furniture the room contained&mdash;about as far apart as we could get, he in the sulks, and I whistling cheerfully. I should have liked to be with Madge, but he wasn't; so there was some compensation, and I knew that time was playing the cards in our favor: so long as they hadn't found the letters we had only to sit still to win.<!-- Page 148 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_148" id="Page_148">[Pg 148]</SPAN></span></p> <p>About an hour after supper, the sheriff came back and told me Camp and Baldwin wanted to see me. I saw no reason to object, so in they came, accompanied by the judge. Baldwin opened the ball by saying genially,&mdash;</p> <p>"Well, Mr. Gordon, you've played a pretty cute gamble, and I suppose you think you stand to win the pot."</p> <p>"I'm not complaining," I said.</p> <p>"Still," snarled Camp, angrily, as if my contented manner fretted him, "our time will come presently, and we can make it pretty uncomfortable for you. Illegal proceedings put a man in jail in the long run."</p> <p>"I hope you take your lesson to heart," I remarked cheerfully, which made Camp scowl worse than ever.</p> <p>"Now," said Baldwin, who kept cool, "we know you are not risking loss of position and the State's prison for nothing, and we want to know what there is in it for you?"<!-- Page 149 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_149" id="Page_149">[Pg 149]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"I wouldn't stake my chance of State's prison against yours, gentlemen. And, while I may lose my position, I'll be a long way from starvation."</p> <p>"That doesn't tell us what Cullen gives you to take the risk."</p> <p>"Mr. Cullen hasn't given, or even hinted that he'll give, anything."</p> <p>"And Mr. Gordon hasn't asked, and, if I know him, wouldn't take a cent for what he has done," said Fred, rising from the floor.</p> <p>"You mean to say you are doing it for nothing?" exclaimed Camp, incredulously.</p> <p>"That's about the truth of it," I said; though I thought of Madge as I said it, and felt guilty in suggesting that she was nothing.</p> <p>"Then what is your motive?" cried Baldwin.</p> <p>If there had been any use, I should have replied, "The right;" but I knew that they would only think I was posing if I said it. Instead I replied: "Mr. Cullen's party has<!-- Page 150 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_150" id="Page_150">[Pg 150]</SPAN></span> the stock majority in their favor, and would have won a fair fight if you had played fair. Since you didn't, I'm doing my best to put things to rights."</p> <p>Camp cried, "All the more fool&mdash;" but Baldwin interrupted him by saying,&mdash;</p> <p>"That only shows what a mean cuss Cullen is. He ought to give you ten thousand, if he gives you a cent."</p> <p>"Yes," cried Camp, "those letters are worth money, whether he's offered it or not."</p> <p>"Mr. Cullen never so much as hinted paying me," said I.</p> <p>"Well, Mr. Gordon," said Baldwin, suavely, "we'll show you that we can be more liberal. Though the letters rightfully belong to Mr. Camp, if you'll deliver them to us we'll see that you don't lose your place, and we'll give you five thousand dollars."</p> <p>I glanced at Fred, whom I found looking at me anxiously, and asked him,&mdash;</p> <p>"Can't you do better than that?"<!-- Page 151 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_151" id="Page_151">[Pg 151]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"We could with any one but you," said Fred.</p> <p>I should have liked to shake hands over this compliment, but I only nodded, and turning to Mr. Camp, said,&mdash;</p> <p>"You see how mean they are."</p> <p>"You'll find we are not built that way," said Baldwin. "Five thousand isn't a bad day's work, eh?"</p> <p>"No," I said, laughing; "but you just told me I ought to get ten thousand if I got a cent."</p> <p>"It's worth ten to Mr. Cullen, but&mdash;"</p> <p>I interrupted by saying, "If it's worth ten to him, it's worth a hundred to me."</p> <p>That was too much for Camp. First he said something best omitted, and then went on, "I told you it was waste time trying to win him over."</p> <p>The three stood apart for a moment whispering, and then Judge Wilson called the sheriff over, and they all went out together. The moment we were alone, Frederic held out his hand, and said,<!-- Page 152 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_152" id="Page_152">[Pg 152]</SPAN></span>&mdash;</p> <p>"Gordon, it's no use saying anything, but if we can ever do&mdash;"</p> <p>I merely shook hands, but I wanted the worst way to say,&mdash;</p> <p>"Tell Madge what I've done, and the thing's square."</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_153" id="Page_153">[Pg 153]</SPAN></span> <h2>
SPONSORED LINKS