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   Chapter 5 HURRIED TO JAIL.

Frank Merriwell's Bravery By Burt L. Standish Characters: 11737

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


At this moment another wild roar rose outside the station, telling that something had again aroused the mob:

Hank Kildare was in the doorway, blocking it with his gigantic form, his long-barreled revolvers holding the crowd at bay, while he hoarsely cried:

"You galoots know me! Ef yer crowd me, some o' yer will take his everlastin' dose o' lead!"

They dared not crowd him. He could hold them back at that point, but there were other ways of reaching the interior of the waiting-room, where the prisoner was.

"Ther back door!" howled a voice. "We kin git at him thet way!"

"Hear that?" fluttered Professor Scotch. "They're coming, Frank! We must get out before they get in that way! Quick!"

He caught hold of the boy, and started to urge him toward the rear door; but Lona Dawson placed herself squarely in their path, flinging up one hand.

"Stop!" she cried, her eyes flashing. "You cannot pass! You shall not escape!"

A look of admiration came into Frank's eyes, for she was very beautiful at that moment.

"As you will," he bowed, gallantly. "I may get my neck stretched by remaining, but your wish is law."

"Well, I like that!" roared the professor, in a manner that plainly indicated he did not like it.

"Av ye choose ter make a fool av yersilf, Frank, it's not yer friends thot will see ye do it in this case!" cried Barney.

The Irish lad grasped Frank by one arm, while the professor clutched the other, and they were about to rush him toward the door, for all of any opposition, when the door flew open with a bang, and a man pitched headlong into the room. This person carried a bundle, which burst open as he struck the floor, scattering its contents in all directions.

"Moses in der pulrushes!" exclaimed the nasal voice of Solomon Rosenbum, and the Jew sat up in the midst of the wreck. "Dat vas vat I call comin' in lifely, vid der accent on der lifely!"

"The dure!" shouted Barney. "They're coming round to get in thot way!"

The frightened station agent thrust his head out of an inner office, and said:

"The door can be braced. The brace is just behind it."

Not a moment was to be lost, for the mob was at the very door, and would be pouring into the station in a moment. Barney sprang for the heavy brace, but he would have been too late if it had not been for the singular Jew.

Solomon leaped to his feet, sprang for the door, and planted his foot with terrific force in the stomach of the first man who was trying to enter, hurling that individual back against those immediately behind.

"Good-tay!" cried the Jew. "Uf I don'd see you some more, vat vos der tifference!"

Slam! The door went to solidly. Bang! The bar went against it, being held in position by heavy cleats on both door and floor.

"Holdt der vort!" rasped Solomon, with great satisfaction. "Dot was very well tone. I didn't vant dose beople comin' und drampin' all ofer mine goots. Id vould haf ruint me."

The mob beat against the door, howling with baffled rage.

"Thot wur a narrow escape, Frankie, me b'y!" said Barney.

"That's what it was," admitted Frank, who realized that his chance for life would have been less than one in a thousand if the crowd had burst into the room.

"Vell, I don'd sharge nodding vor dat, uf you puy a goot pill uf goots vrom me," said the Jew.

"The window!" came from Professor Scotch. "They are about to come through the window!"

Crash! Jingle! Jangle! The window was smashed, and the mob was seen swarming toward it.

Suddenly, Solomon Rosenbum sprang toward the opening, a revolver in his hand.

"Holdt on, mine friendts!" he cried, waving the weapon. "Uf anypody dried to get in py dis vindow, he vill ged shot, vid der accent on der shot!"

"Begobs, thot is roight!" shouted Barney Mulloy, as he suddenly produced a "gun," and took his place at Solomon's side. "Kape off, me jools, av ye want ter kape whole skins!"

The mob hesitated. Thus it had been baffled at every turn, and the mad heat of the moment was beginning to subside. Still, it could be aroused again in a twinkling.

Hank Kildare alone could not have protected his prisoner from the crowd, but he had done all one man could possibly do. Now, of a sudden, he retreated into the station, closing and bolting the door.

"That," he said, with a breath of satisfaction, "so fur, everything is all right. An' now it is ter see ef--"

He was interrupted by pistol shots outside, and bullets began whistling in at the broken window.

With an exclamation of anger, the fearless sheriff flung his massive body into the window, roaring:

"Hold up thar, you critters! Don't you know anything a tall? Thar is ladies in hyar, an' yer might shoot 'em ef yer keep flingin' lead round so promiscuous like!"

"We want Black Harry!" yelled a voice.

"Wa-al, ye'll hev ter want!" returned the sheriff. "You galoots know me purty well, an' ye know I ain't in ther habit o' talkin' crooked. I tells yer right yar an' now thet ye can't hev Black Harry. I offered ther reward fer ther critter, an' I'm goin' ter hold him, you bet! He'll be lodged in jail, ur Canadian County will be minus a sheriff!"

It was plain that his words impressed them, but they were reluctant to give over the hope of lynching the boy prisoner.

"Look yere, Kildare," said a thin, wiry, iron-jawed man, who wore a huge sombrero and leather breeches, "I'm Bill Buckhorn, o' 'Rapahoe, an' thet's a place whar we don't 'low no critter like this yere Black Harry ter go waltzin' round more then sixteen brief second by ther clock. We ketches such cusses, an' then we takes 'em out an' shows 'em how ter do a jog on empty air. Over in 'Rapahoe we allows thet thar is ther way ter dispose o' sech cases, and I'm ready ter show you people o' Elreno ther purtiest way ter tie a runnin' knot in a hemp necktie. Whatever is ther use

o' foolin' around an' dallyin' with ther law when it's right easy ter git rid o' critters like this yere Black Harry without no trouble a tall, an' make things lively in ther town at ther same time? Pass him out, sheriff, an' I'll agree not ter do ye ary bit o' damage!"

"Wa-al, you are kind!" returned Kildare, contemptuously. "You're mighty kind, an' I allows thet I 'preciates it. I reckons you galoots over in thet forsaken, 'way-back, never-heard-of hole called 'Rapahoe sets yerselves up fer a law unto ther rest o' Oklahoma an' all other parts o' creation! You allows thar don't nobody else but you critters know what is right an' proper, an' so you has ther cheek ter come over hyar an' tell us what ter do! You even offers ter show me how ter tie a runnin' knot in a rope, an' I will admit thet I've tied more knots o' thet kind then you ever heard of! Take my advice, my gentle stranger frum 'Rapahoe, an' go get right off ther earth, afore something happens ter yer which yer won't like none whatever!"

This bit of sarcasm was appreciated by the assembled citizens of Elreno, and they raised a howl at Bill Buckhorn, scores of voices hurling derisive epithets at the lank stranger.

Buckhorn grew intensely angry, and he howled:

"You galoots make me sick! You're short on fer hawse sense, an' thet's plain enough!"

"Take a tumble!"

"Puckachee!"

"All right! All right!" cried the man from 'Rapahoe, waving his hands, each of which clutched a huge revolver. "You kin run yer blamed old town ter suit yerselves, an' I allows thet Black Harry fools yer all an' gits erway! I hopes he does, an' I draws out o' this yere game right now."

He thrust his revolvers into leather holsters made to receive them, and strode away, forcing a passage through the crowd, and pretending not to hear the derisive epithets hurled at him.

Hank Kildare smiled, with grim satisfaction.

"Thet wuz ther best thing could hev happened," he muttered. "It took their 'tention erway fer a minute, an' now it's likely I kin talk them inter reason."

He tried it, without delay. He urged them to disperse, promising that Black Harry should be lodged in Elreno jail, and properly tried for his life.

"This yar lynchin' is bad business," concluded the sheriff. "I will allow thet I hev taken a hand in more than one lynchin' party, but I'm derned 'shamed o' it. Law is law, an' no gang o' human critters has a right ter take ther law in their han's. I hev swore never ter let one o' my prisoners be lynched, ef I kin help it, an' I'll set 'em free, an' furnish 'em with guns ter fight fer their lives, afore I'll see 'em strung up by a mob. At ther same time, I'd ruther be shot then forced ter do such a thing."

Kildare was so well known that every one who heard him felt sure he was not "talking wind," that being something he never did.

There was muttering in the crowd. The worst passions of the mob had been aroused, and now it hated to be robbed of its prey.

"Hank Kildare means whatever he says," declared more than one. "He'll fight ter hold Black Harry."

Some cursed Kildare, and that aroused the anger of the sheriff's friends, so it seemed at one time as if the mob would fall into a pitched battle among themselves.

"Let 'em fight," muttered the giant, who still held the broken window. "Ef they git at it, I'll find some way ter slip 'em and put my man inter ther jail."

But they did not fight. Kildare called on them to disperse, and a few went away; but a great crowd lingered in sullen silence outside the station, waiting and watching.

"They want ter git another look at Black Harry," muttered the sheriff, knitting his brows. "Ef they do thet, they're likely ter break loose again, like a lot o' wild tigers. How kin I make 'em disperse, so I kin kerry him ter ther jail?"

"I will appeal to them," said a musical voice at his elbow.

He turned, and saw Lona Dawson there.

"You?"

"Yes. It is possible they will listen to me."

"They mought. I'd clean forgot you wuz hyar. Go ahead an' try yer luck, little one."

He stepped aside, and she appeared in the window. The moment she was seen, all muttering ceased in the crowd, and every one gave her attention.

"Gentlemen," she began, speaking clearly and loud enough for all to hear, "you must confess that I have as much interest as any one here in seeing this youthful ruffian brought to justice. I do not wish to see him lynched, but I wish him to receive such punishment as the law may give him."

"Ther law is slow!" cried a voice.

"An' it often fails!" came from another direction.

"In this case there is no reason why it should fail, for there is proof enough to convict Black Harry. It will not fail."

"He may escape from jail."

"That is not likely. Now, for my sake, I ask you all to disperse-to allow the officers to take Black Harry to jail. If you do not disperse, I shall remain here, and I will protect the prisoner with my own body and my life, for I am determined that he shall be legally tried and properly punished."

There was a moment of silence, and then a voice shouted:

"Thar's stuff fer yer, pards! Ther leetle gal has clean grit, an' I'm fer doin' as she asks. Who's with me?"

"I am!" a hundred voices seemed to roar.

"Then come on. Good-by, leetle gal; we're goin'."

Every head was bared, and the crowd began to disperse with swiftness, so that, in a very few minutes, all had departed.

Then came the deputy sheriffs, with horses, and arrangements for conveying the prisoner to the jail were swiftly completed.

Frank had advised the professor and Barney not to be too outspoken, for fear they might also be arrested. He advised them to keep quiet, but to work for him to the best of their ability, and lose no time.

A handshake, a hurried parting, and the boy was borne away to jail.

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