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   Chapter 12 No.12

What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 5461

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

Tony on the War-path.

"She did it all," said Harry, when they had told the tale to half the village, on the store-porch.

"I!" exclaimed Kate. "Rob, you mean."

"That's a good dog," said Mr. Darby, the storekeeper; "what'll you take for him?"

"Not for sale," said Harry.

"Rob's all very well," remarked Tony Kirk; "but it won't do to have a feller like that in the woods, a fright'nin' the children. I'd like to know who he is."

Just at this moment Uncle Braddock made his appearance, hurrying along much faster than he usually walked, with his eyes and teeth glistening in the sunshine.

"I seed him!" he cried, as soon as he came up.

"Who'd you see?" cried several persons.

"Oh! I seed de dog after him, and I come along as fas' as I could, but couldn't come very fas'. De ole wrapper cotch de wind."

"Who was it?" asked Tony.

"I seed him a-runnin'. Bress my soul! de dog like to got him!"

"But who was he, Uncle Braddock?" said Mr. Loudon, who had just reached the store from his house, where Kate, who had run home, had told the story. "Do you know him?"

"Know him? Reckon I does?" said Uncle Braddock, "an' de dog ud a knowed him too, ef he'd a cotched him! Dat's so, Mah'sr John."

"Well, tell us his name, if you know him," said Mr. Darby.

"Ob course, I knows him," said Uncle Braddock. "I'se done knowed him fur twenty or fifty years. He's George Mason."

The announcement of this name caused quite a sensation in the party.

"I thought he was down in Mississippi," said one man.

"So he was; I reckons," said Uncle Braddock, "but he's done come back now. I'se seed him afore to-day, and Aunt Matilda's seed him, too. Yah, ha! Dat dere dog come mighty nigh cotchin' him!"

George Mason had been quite a noted character in that neighborhood five or six years before. He belonged to a good family, but was of a lawless disposition and was generally disliked by the decent people of the county. Just before he left for the extreme Southern States, it was discovered that he had been concerned in a series of horse-thefts, for which he would have been arrested had he not taken his departure from the State.

Few people, excepting Mr. Loudon and one or two others, knew the extent of his misdemeanors; and out of regard to his family, these had not been made public. But he had the reputation of being a wild, disorderly man, and now that it was known that he had contemplated boxing Kate Loudon's ears and whipping Harry, the indignation was very great.

Harry and Kate were favorites with everybody-white and black.

"I tell ye what I'm goin' to do," said Tony Kirk; "I'm goin' after that feller."

At this, half a dozen men offered to go along with Tony.

"What wi

ll you do, if you find him?" asked Mr. Loudon.

"That depends on circumstances," replied Tony.

"I am willing to have you go," said Mr. Loudon, who was a magistrate and a gentleman of much influence in the village, "on condition that if you find him you offer him no violence. Tell him to leave the county, and say to him, from me, that if he is found here again he shall be arrested."

"All right," said Tony; and he proceeded to make up his party.

There were plenty of volunteers; and for a while it was thought that Uncle Braddock intended to offer to go. But, if so, he must have changed his mind, for he soon left the village and went over to Aunt Matilda's and had a good talk with her. The old woman was furiously angry when she heard of the affair.

"I wish I'd been a little quicker," she said, "and dere wouldn't a been a red spot on him."

Uncle Braddock didn't know exactly what she meant; but he wished so, too.

Tony didn't want a large party. He chose four men who could be depended upon, and they started out that evening.

It was evident that Mason knew how to keep himself out of sight, for he had been in the vicinity a week or more-as Tony discovered, after a visit to Aunt Matilda-and no white person had seen him.

But Tony thought he knew the country quite as well as George Mason did, and he felt sure he should find him.

His party searched the vicinity quite thoroughly that night, starting from Tom Riley's tobacco barn; but they saw nothing of their man; and in the morning they made the discovery that Mason had borrowed one of Riley's horses, without the knowledge of its owner, and had gone off, north of the mica mine. Some negroes had seen him riding away.

So Tony and his men took horses and rode away after him. Each of them carried his gun, for they did not know in what company they might find Mason. A man who steals horses is generally considered, especially in the country, to be wicked enough to do anything.

At a little place called Jordan's cross-roads, they were sure they had come upon him. Tom Riley's horse was found at the blacksmith's shop at the cross-roads, and the blacksmith said that he had been left there to have a shoe put on, and that the man who had ridden him had gone on over the fields toward a house on the edge of the woods, about a mile away.

So Tony and his men rode up to within a half-mile of the house, and then they dismounted, tied their horses, and proceeded on foot. They kept, as far as possible, under cover of the tall weeds and bushes, and hurried along silently and in single file, Tony in the lead. Thus they soon reached the house, when they quietly surrounded it.

But George Mason played them a pretty trick.

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