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   Chapter 1 TWO TRAVELERS.

Frank Merriwell's Bravery By Burt L. Standish Characters: 10123

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


"Well, that's a pretty nervy piece of business!"

It was Frank Merriwell who spoke the words, more to himself than to any one else.

Frank was westbound, from Oklahoma City at the time, continuing the extensive tour mapped out after his Uncle Asher had died and left him so much money.

As readers of former books in this series know, Frank was not making the tour alone. Professor Scotch, his guardian, was with him as was also Barney Mulloy, his old schoolmate from Fardale. But, as the professor and Barney had not wanted to stop at Oklahoma, they had gone on ahead, leaving Frank to catch up with them later.

The "nervy piece of business" to which Frank referred was the following account of a hold-up published in a leading Oklahoma newspaper:

"BLACK HARRY'S LATEST STROKE.

"HE HOLDS UP AN EXPRESS TRAIN, AND SHOOTS AN EASTERN BANKER.

"As we go to press, an imperfect account of Black Harry's latest outrage reaches us from Elreno. Ten days ago this youthful desperado was unknown to fame, but within that number of days he has left a red trail from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian River. He began by raiding Moore's ranch, and killing a cowboy, and he and his band of desperadoes, which he calls his 'Braves,' have robbed and plundered and burned and murdered at their own sweet will, till the climax was capped last night by the holding up of the northbound express on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, shortly after leaving Chickasha and crossing the Washita. Between Chickasha and Minco is a twenty-mile stretch of desolate track, and a better place for a train hold-up could not be found.

"Just how the express was stopped we do not know at present, but the trick was accomplished, and Black Harry and his Braves boarded the cars. Strangely enough, they did not attempt to enter the express car, but were satisfied to go through the train hastily and relieve the passengers of their valuables. In this work, Black Harry took the lead; but Mr. Robert Dawson, an Eastern banker, who happened to have quite a sum on his person, objected, and snatched the mask from the young ruffian's face. Before the eyes of Miss Lona Dawson, who was traveling with her father, Black Harry deliberately shot the banker down, and then relieved him of his watch, diamond pin, and pocketbook, having first re-covered his face with the mask.

"The robbers made a hasty but very thorough job of it, leaping from the train at a signal from their boy leader, and quickly disappearing in the darkness. But Black Harry's face was seen fairly by the banker's horrified daughter, and by several other passengers, so there will be no trouble in identifying him if he is captured. Sheriff Kildare, of Canadian County, is aroused, and Burchel Jones, an Eastern detective, has promised to round up Black Harry within a very short time. Let us hope, for the good of the Territory, that the young ruffian's career may be quickly terminated, and that he may receive his just due at the hands of the law.

"Mr. Dawson was taken to Elreno, where a surgical operation was performed. He is still alive, but his chance of recovery is small. His daughter, who seems to be a girl of spirit, has stated that, if her father dies, she will know no rest nor spare no expense till Black Harry is run to earth."

The article terminated abruptly, showing it had been hastily written, and had been inserted at the last moment before publication.

"Truly an outrage!" Frank continued. "It would be a good scheme to organize a hunting party, and give this Black Harry a run for it."

"Just my idea," said an oily voice, as a man slipped into the seat beside the young traveler, without as much as saying "by your leave." "The people out here do not seem to mind these things. I suppose they are used to them."

Frank glanced the speaker over, with a pair of searching, brown eyes. He saw a slender figure in a well-worn suit of gray. The striking features of the man's face were his eyes and his nose. His eyes were too near together, and his nose was long and pointed. He was smooth-shaved, and there was a cunning, foxy look about his face.

Frank did not seem in any hurry about speaking; he continued to inspect the man, who moved restlessly beneath the scrutiny, and said:

"I have not been very long in this country, but I have noted the peculiarities of the people. They do not seem to have time to bother much about an affair like this train hold-up, and the shooting of an occasional tenderfoot, as they call all Easterners. If they should happen to capture Black Harry, they would give him their full attention for a short time-a very short time. They would be pretty sure to lynch him, as they would consider that the easiest way of disposing of him, and they would not consider it worth while to spend time in giving him a regular trial. To be sure, this train robbery and tragedy occurred in Indian Territory, but I understand that Hank Kildare, the sheriff at Elreno, has offered three hundred dollars reward for the capture of Black Harry himsel

f, and fifty dollars each for his men. Er-ah-ahem! My name is-Walker. I am from Jersey."

Frank bowed.

"How do you do, Mr.-er-ah-Walker. I presume that what you say about Black Harry's chances, if he is captured, is quite true-he will be lynched."

"Oh, it is not certain, of course; he might obtain protection by officers of the law. But he would stand a good show of being lynched. And Elreno is the worst place in Oklahoma for him to show his face in at present."

"I should presume it might be. Dawson, the wounded banker, is there?"

"And his daughter-can she identify this young desperado the moment she sees him?"

"Without doubt."

"Black Harry will be very foolish if he goes to Elreno."

"He is not likely to go there, I fancy."

"I don't know about that. He is a dare-devil fellow."

"So it seems."

"And he might take a fancy that Elreno would be the last place where he would be expected to appear, and so he would go there."

"He might do that."

"Now, in your own case, if you were Black Harry, for instance, you might put on a bold face, and show yourself in Elreno, while everybody outside that town would be on the lookout for you."

"Possibly, you are right."

"I think such a trick would be very like Black Harry. He might go so far as to take the train to Elreno from some place that would make it seem that he could not have been in the locality where the hold-up was committed. If he were to come into Elreno on this train, for instance, it would be a blind."

"How far is Oklahoma City from the place where the train was robbed?"

"Between thirty and forty miles, direct."

"That distance could be made on horseback between the time of the robbery and this morning-do you think so?"

"Well, it is very likely. What do you think, Mr.-ah-er-I beg your pardon?"

"My name is Frank Merriwell."

"Really?"

Walker lifted his eyebrows in a very odd manner, which Frank did not fail to observe.

"You appear as if you doubted me," came a trifle warmly from the lad's lips, while the color rushed to his cheeks.

"Oh, not at all-not at all! You are in Oklahoma on business?"

"No, sir."

"Not?"

"No."

"Pleasure?"

"Yes, sir."

"How? Traveling?"

"I am."

"Alone?"

"No."

"Didn't notice you had company."

"I have not, at present."

"H'm! Ha! Your friends-are they on this train?"

"No, sir."

Walker elevated his eyebrows again. His nose seemed longer and more pointed than ever. It was a nose that reminded the boy of an interrogation point. It seemed built to thrust itself into other people's business.

"Ha! Not on the train?"

"No."

"You expect to meet them?"

"Yes."

"Where?"

"In Elreno."

"How many of them?"

"Two."

"No more?"

"No."

Frank was answering curtly, and his manner announced his dislike for his inquisitive companion. Still, he was courteous and cool, holding himself in check.

"I presume your companions are older than yourself?" questioned the prying Jerseyite, his small eyes glistening.

"One is; the other is a boy about my age."

"Ha! H'm! Just so. You are from the East, I presume?"

"Yes, sir."

"It seems to me that I have seen you before, but I cannot remember where it was. And I do not remember your name. Do you mind giving me the names of your traveling companions?"

"Not at all. They are Professor Horace Orman Tyler Scotch, of Fardale Military Academy, sometimes known as 'Hot' Scotch, as he has a peppery temper, and the initials of his first three names form the word 'hot.' The other is Barney Mulloy, a youth who was born in Ireland, and has not recovered from it yet. The latter was a classmate of mine at Fardale, and he is traveling with me as a friendly companion, which he can afford to do, as I pay all the bills."

"Haw!" exclaimed Walker. "You must have money to burn!"

"No, I have not. My uncle left me a comfortable fortune, and his will provided that, in order to broaden my knowledge of the world, I should travel in company with my guardian. He selected Professor Scotch as a proper man to become my guardian, and specified that I might take along a schoolmate as a companion, if I so desired."

"Re-e-markable!" cried Walker. "A most astonishing will! And how does it happen that you have become separated from your guardian and friend?"

"We were going through to Texas on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific. I wished to visit Guthrie, the capital of Oklahoma, and they did not care to do so. I left them at Caldwell, in Kansas, with the understanding that they were to proceed to Elreno, and wait for me there."

"H'm!"

Walker's nose seemed pointing at the boy like an accusing finger. Doubt was expressed all over that foxy face.

"You tell it well," said the man, with another queer lifting of his thin eyebrows.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded the youth, sharply, wheeling squarely toward Walker. "Do you insinuate that I am not telling the truth?"

Before Walker could reply, a commotion arose in the seat directly behind them.

* * *

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