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Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XIII" id="CHAPTER_XIII"></SPAN>CHAPTER XIII</h2> <h3>A LESSON IN POLITENESS</h3> </div> <p>Within five minutes we had a big surprise, for the sheriff and Mr. Baldwin came back, and the former announced that Fred and Lord Ralles were free, having been released on bail. When we found that Baldwin had gone on the bond, I knew that there was a scheme of some sort in the move, and, taking Fred aside, I warned him against trying to recover the proxies.</p> <p>"They probably think that one or the other of you knows where the letters are hidden," I whispered, "and they'll keep a watch on you; so go slow."</p> <p>He nodded, and followed the sheriff and Lord Ralles out.</p> <p>The moment they were gone, Mr. Camp said, "I came back to give you a last chance."<!-- Page 154 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_154" id="Page_154">[Pg 154]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"That's very good of you," I said.</p> <p>"I warn you," he muttered threateningly, "we are not men to be beaten. There are fifty cowboys of Baldwin's in this town, who think you were concerned in the holding up. By merely tipping them the wink, they'll have you out of this, and after they've got you outside I wouldn't give the toss of a nickel for your life. Now, then, will you hand over those letters, or will you go to &mdash;&mdash; inside of ten minutes?"</p> <p>I lost my temper in turn. "I'd much prefer going to some place where I was less sure of meeting you," I retorted; "and as for the cowboys, you'll have to be as tricky with them as you want to be with me before you'll get them to back you up in your dirty work."</p> <p>At this point the sheriff called back to ask Camp if he was coming.</p> <p>"All right," cried Camp, and went to the door. "This is the last call," he snarled, pausing for a moment on the threshold.</p> <p>"I hope so," said I, more calmly in<!-- Page 155 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_155" id="Page_155">[Pg 155]</SPAN></span> manner than in feeling, I have to acknowledge, for I didn't like the look of things. That they were in earnest I felt pretty certain, for I understood now why they had let my companions out of jail. They knew that angry cowboys were a trifle undiscriminating, and didn't care to risk hanging more than was necessary.</p> <p>A long time seemed to pass after they were gone, but in reality it wasn't more than fifteen minutes before I heard some one steal up and softly unlock the door. I confess the evident endeavor to do it quietly gave me a scare, for it seemed to me it couldn't be an above-board movement. Thinking this, I picked up the box on which I had been sitting and prepared to make the best fight I could. It was a good deal of relief, therefore, when the door opened just wide enough for a man to put in his head, and I heard the sheriff's voice say, softly,&mdash;</p> <p>"Hi, Gordon!"</p> <p>I was at the door in an instant, and asked,<!-- Page 156 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_156" id="Page_156">[Pg 156]</SPAN></span>&mdash;</p> <p>"What's up?"</p> <p>"They're gettin' the fellers together, and sayin' that yer shot a woman in the hold-up."</p> <p>"It's an infernal lie," I said.</p> <p>"Sounds that way to me," assented the sheriff; "but two-thirds of the boys are drunk, and it's a long time since they've had any fun."</p> <p>"Well," I said, as calmly as I could, "are you going to stand by me?"</p> <p>"I would, Mr. Gordon," he replied, "if there was any good, but there ain't time to get a posse, and what's one Winchester against a mob of cowboys like them?"</p> <p>"If you'll lend me your gun," I said, "I'll show just what it is worth, without troubling you."</p> <p>"I'll do better than that," offered the sheriff, "and that's what I'm here for. Just sneak, while there's time."</p> <p>"You mean&mdash;?" I exclaimed.</p> <p>"That's it. I'm goin' away, and I'll leave the door unlocked. If yer get clear let me know yer address, and later, if I want<!-- Page 157 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_157" id="Page_157">[Pg 157]</SPAN></span> yer, I'll send yer word." He took a grip on my fingers that numbed them as if they had been caught in an air-brake, and disappeared.</p> <p>I slipped out after the sheriff without loss of time. That there wasn't much to spare was shown by a crowd with some torches down the street, collected in front of a saloon. They were making a good deal of noise, even for the West; evidently the flame was being fanned. Not wasting time, I struck for the railroad, because I knew the geography of that best, but still more because I wanted to get to the station. It was a big risk to go there, but it was one I was willing to take for the object I had in view, and, since I had to take it, it was safest to get through with the job before the discovery was made that I was no longer in jail.</p> <p>It didn't take me three minutes to reach the station. The whole place was black as a coal-dumper, except for the slices of light which shone through the cracks of the curtained windows in the specials, the dim light of the lamp in the station, and the glow of<!-- Page 158 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_158" id="Page_158">[Pg 158]</SPAN></span> the row of saloons two hundred feet away. I was afraid, however, that there might be a spy lurking somewhere, for it was likely that Camp would hope to get some clue of the letters by keeping a watch on the station and the cars. Thinking boldness the safest course, I walked on to the platform without hesitation, and went into the station. The "night man" was sitting in his chair, nodding, but he waked up the moment I spoke.</p> <p>"Don't speak my name," I said, warningly, as he struggled to his feet; and then in the fewest possible words I told him what I wanted of him,&mdash;to find if the pony I had ridden (Camp's or Baldwin's) was in town and, if so, to learn where it was, and to get the letters on the quiet from under the saddle-flap. I chose this man, first, because I could trust him, and next, because I had only one of the Cullens as an alternative, and if any of them went sneaking round, it would be sure to attract attention. "The moment you have the letters, put them in<!-- Page 159 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_159" id="Page_159">[Pg 159]</SPAN></span> the station safe," I ended, "and then get word to me."</p> <p>"And where'll you be, Mr. Gordon?" asked the man.</p> <p>"Is there any place about here that's a safe hiding spot for a few hours?" I asked. "I want to stay till I'm sure those letters are safe, and after that I'll steal on board the first train that comes along."</p> <p>"Then you'll want to be near here," said the man. "I'll tell you, I've got just the place for you. The platform's boarded in all round, but I noticed one plank that's loose at one end, right at this nigh corner, and if you just pry it open enough to get in, and then pull the board in place, they'll never find you."</p> <p>"That will do," I said; "and when the letters are safe, come out on the platform, walk up and down once, bang the door twice, and then say, 'That way freight is late.' And if you get a chance, tell one of the Cullens where I'm hidden."</p> <p>I crossed the platform boldly, jumped<!-- Page 160 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_160" id="Page_160">[Pg 160]</SPAN></span> down, and walked away. But after going fifty feet I dropped down on my hands and knees and crawled back. Inside of two minutes I was safely stowed away under the platform, in about as neat a hiding-place as a man could ask. In fact, if I had only had my wits enough about me to borrow a revolver of the man, I could have made a pretty good defence, even if discovered.</p> <p>Underneath the platform was loose gravel, and, as an additional precaution, I scooped out, close to the side-boarding, a trough long enough for me to lie in. Then I got into the hole, shovelled the sand over my legs, and piled the rest up in a heap close to me, so that by a few sweeps of my arm I could cover my whole body, leaving only my mouth and nose exposed, and those below the level. That made me feel pretty safe, for, even if the cowboys found the loose plank and crawled in, it would take uncommon good eyesight, in the darkness, to find me. I had hollowed out my living grave to fit, and if I could have smoked, I<!-- Page 161 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_161" id="Page_161">[Pg 161]</SPAN></span> should have been decidedly comfortable. Sleep I dared not indulge in, and the sequel showed that I was right in not allowing myself that luxury.</p> <p>I hadn't much more than comfortably settled myself, and let thoughts of a cigar and a nap flit through my mind, when a row up the street showed that the jail-breaking had been discovered. Then followed shouts and confusion for a few moments, while a search was being organized. I heard some horsemen ride over the tracks, and also down the street, followed by the hurried footsteps of half a dozen men. Some banged at the doors of the specials, while others knocked at the station door.</p> <p>One of the Cullens' servants opened the door of 218, and I heard the sheriff's voice telling him he'd got to search the car. The darky protested, saying that the "gentmun was all away, and only de miss inside." The row brought Miss Cullen to the door, and I heard her ask what was the matter.<!-- Page 162 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_162" id="Page_162">[Pg 162]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Sorry to trouble yer, miss," said the sheriff, "but a prisoner has broken jail, and we've got to look for him."</p> <p>"Escaped!" cried Madge, joyfully. "How?"</p> <p>"That's just what gits away with me," marvelled the sheriff. "My idee is&mdash;"</p> <p>"Don't waste time on theories," said Camp's voice, angrily. "Search the car."</p> <p>"Sorry to discommode a lady," apologized the sheriff, gallantly, "but if we may just look around a little?"</p> <p>"My father and brothers went out a few minutes ago," said Madge, hesitatingly, "and I don't know if they would be willing."</p> <p>Camp laughed angrily, and ordered, "Stand aside, there."</p> <p>"Don't yer worry," said the sheriff. "If he's on the car, he can't git away. We'll send a feller up for Mr. Cullen, while we search Mr. Gordon's car and the station."</p> <p>They set about it at once, and used up ten<!-- Page 163 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_163" id="Page_163">[Pg 163]</SPAN></span> minutes in the task. Then I heard Camp say,&mdash;</p> <p>"Come, we can't wait all night for permission to search this car. Go ahead."</p> <p>"I hope you'll wait till my father comes," begged Madge.</p> <p>"Now go slow, Mr. Camp," said the sheriff. "We mustn't discomfort the lady if we can avoid it."</p> <p>"I believe you're wasting time in order to help him escape," snapped Camp.</p> <p>"Nothin' of the kind," denied the sheriff.</p> <p>"If you won't do your duty, I'll take the law into my own hands, and order the car searched," sputtered Camp, so angry as hardly to be able to articulate.</p> <p>"Look a here," growled the sheriff, "who are yer sayin' all this to anyway? If yer talkin' to me, say so right off."</p> <p>"All I mean," hastily said Camp, "is that it's your duty, in your honorable position, to search this car."</p> <p>"I don't need no instructin' in my dooty as sheriff," retorted the official. "But a bigger<!-- Page 164 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_164" id="Page_164">[Pg 164]</SPAN></span> dooty is what is owin' to the feminine sex. When a female is in question, a gentleman, Mr. Camp,&mdash;yes, sir, a gentleman,&mdash;is in dooty bound to be perlite."</p> <p>"Politeness be &mdash;&mdash; &mdash;&mdash;!" swore Camp.</p> <p>"Git as angry as yer &mdash;&mdash; please," roared the sheriff, wrathfully, "but &mdash;&mdash; me if any &mdash;&mdash; &mdash;&mdash; cuss has a right to use such &mdash;&mdash; &mdash;&mdash; talk in the presence of a lady!"</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_165" id="Page_165">[Pg 165]</SPAN></span> <h2>
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