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   Chapter 4 FOR LIFE AND HONOR.

Frank Merriwell's Bravery By Burt L. Standish Characters: 7799

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


A sudden, mad roar went up from the crowd on the station platform. They swayed, surged, struggled, and shouted:

"Lynch him!"

That cry was like the touching of a torch to dry prairie grass. Men climbed on each others' shoulders; men fought to get nearer the prisoner, and the mob seemed to have gone mad in a moment.

"Lynch him!"

A hundred throats took up the shout, and it became one mighty roar for blood, the most appalling sound that can issue from human lips.

The face of the menaced boy was very pale, but he did not cower before that suddenly infuriated mob. He showed that he had nerve, for he stood up and faced them boldly, helpless as he was.

Burchel Jones, the detective, looked as if he would give something to get away from that locality in a hurry.

A black scowl came to the face of Hank Kildare, and his hands dropped to his hips, reappearing from beneath the tails of his coat with a brace of heavy, long-barreled revolvers in their grasp. The muzzles of the weapons were thrust right into the faces of the men nearest, and the sheriff literally thundered:

"Git back thar, you critters, or by thunder, thar'll be dead meat round hyar! You hyar me chirp!"

Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, was badly frightened by the sudden outbreak of the mob, and, with her older companion, she retreated into the waiting-room of the station.

"Death to Black Harry!"

A man with strong lungs howled the words above all the uproar and commotion.

"Bring the rope!" screamed another.

And then, as if by magic, a man struggled to the shoulders of those about him, waved a rope in the air, and yelled:

"Hyar's ther necktie fer Black Harry!"

And then, once more, there was a roar, and a surge, and a struggle to get at the handcuffed boy.

"Stiddy!" sounded the voice of Hank Kildare. "Back! back! back! or, by the eternal skies, I'll begin ter sling lead!"

But twenty hands seemed reaching to clutch the lad and drag him away. The sheriff saw that he would not be able to retain his prisoner if he remained where he was.

"Inter ther station, boy!" came from the giant sheriff's lips. "It's yer only chance ter git clear o' this yar gang!"

"Howly shmoke!" cried a familiar voice just behind the handcuffed youth. "Pwhat are they doin' wid yez, Frankie, me b'y?"

"Yes," quavered another voice, likewise familiar, "what is this crazy mob trying to do? This is something appalling!"

"Barney! Professor!" cried the boy, joyously. "Now I can prove that I am what I claim to be!"

"I've got him!"

A big ruffian roared the words, as he fastened both hands upon the manacled lad, and tried to drag him into the midst of the swaying mob.

"Thin take thot, ye spalpane!" shouted the Irish boy, who had appeared in company with a little, red-whiskered man at the door of the station.

Out shot the hard fist of the young Irishman, and-smack!-it struck the man fairly in the left eye, knocking him backward into the arms of the one just behind him.

"It's toime ye got out av thot, me b'y," said Barney Mulloy, as he grasped the imperiled youth by the collar, and drew him into the waiting-room of the station.

"That's right, that's right!" fluttered the little man, who was Professor Scotch. "Let's hurry out by the back door, the way we came in. We were detained, so we did not arrive in time for the train, but we came as quickly as we could."

"And arrived just in time," said Frank. "I am in a most appalling position."

"Well, well!" fluttered the professor. "You can explain that later on. Let's get away from here."

"Look!"

Frank held up his hands, and, for the first time, his friends saw the irons on his wrists. They cried out in amazement.

"Pwhat th' ould b'y is th' m'anin' av thot?" demanded Barney Mulloy, in the most profound astonishment.

"It means that I have been arrested; that's all."

"Pwhat fer?"

"Robbing, shooting, murdering."

"G'wan wid yez!"

"This is no time to joke, Frank," said Professor Scotch, reprovingly. "Are you never able to restrain your propensity for making sport?"

"This is a sorry joke, professor. I am giving you the straight truth."

"But-but it is impossible-I declare it is!"

"It is the truth."

"Who arristed yez?" asked Barney, as if still doubtful that Frank really meant what he was saying.

"A private detective, known as Burchel Jones. He surrendered me to the sheriff of Canadian County, Hank Kildare. That's his voice you can hear above the howling. He is trying to beat the mob back, so he can get me to the jail before I am lynched."

"Before you are lynched!" gurgled the little professor, in a dazed way. "What have you done that they should want to lynch you?"

"Nothing."

"Pwhat do they think ye have done?" asked Barney.

"I presume you have heard of Black Harry?"

"Yes."

"Well, they say I am that very interesting young gentleman."

Small man though he was, Professor Scotch had a deep, hoarse voice, and he now let out a roar of disgust that drowned the stentorian tones of Hank Kildare.

"This is the most outrageous thing I ever heard of!" fumed the professor, in a rage. "Somebody shall suffer for it! You Black Harry! Why, it is ridiculous!"

Barney Mulloy seemed to regard it as extremely funny, for he laughed outright.

"Thot bates th' worruld!" he cried. "But it's dead aisy ye kin prove ye're not Black Harry at all, at all!"

"I don't know about that. I have been identified."

"Pwhat's thot?"

"I have been recognized by a person who has seen Black Harry's face."

"Who is that fool person?" demanded Scotch, furiously. "Show me to him, and let me give him a piece of my mind!"

"There is the person."

Frank pointed straight at Lona Dawson, who was regarding him with horrified eyes from a distant corner of the waiting-room.

"Thot girrul?"

"The young lady?"

"Yes."

"Who is she?"

"Miss Dawson, daughter of Robert Dawson, the banker, whom Black Harry shot during the train hold-up last night. Dawson tore the mask from the young robber's face, and she saw it. A few moments ago she declared that I was the wretch who shot her father."

The girl heard his words, and she started forward, panting fiercely:

"You are! You are! I will swear to it with my dying breath! I saw your face plainly last night, and I can never forget it. You are the murderous ruffian from whose face my father tore the mask!"

Professor Scotch was fairly staggered, but he quickly recovered, and swiftly said:

"My dear young lady, I assure you that you have made the greatest mistake of your life. I know this boy-I am his guardian. It is not possible that he is Black Harry, for--"

"Were you with him last night?"

"No. We were--"

"Don't talk to me, then! Black Harry or not, he shot my father!"

"But-but-why, he would not do such a thing!"

"He did!"

It seemed that nothing could shake her belief.

"Av yez plaze, miss," said Barney, lifting his hat, and bowing politely, "it's thot same b'y Oi have known a long toime. Oi went ter school with thot lad, an' a whoiter b'y nivver drew a breath. He'd foight fer ye till he died, av he didn't git killed, an' it's nivver would he shoot anybody at all, at all, onless it wur in silf-definse. Oi give ye me wurrud thot is th' truth, th' whole truth, an' nothing but th' truth."

The girl was unmoved.

"I have sworn to avenge my poor father!" she declared. "He shall not escape!"

"It is useless to talk here," said Frank. "She believes she is right, and her mind will not be changed till she sees the real Black Harry at my side. It must be that the fellow is my double, and so my life will be in peril till he is captured, and meets his just deserts. From this time on for me it is a fight for life and honor."

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