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   Chapter 7 ON THE ROAD.

The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 6507

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Nothing could have pleased Ernest better than to travel with the companionship of Luke Robbins. He felt that he should be safe with the sturdy hunter, who was strong, resolute, and reliable.

True, he was not a man who had succeeded, as men reckon success. He had lived comfortably, but it had never occurred to him to lay up money, nor indeed had he had any opportunity to do so. He mentioned this as an objection to the trip which he had himself proposed.

"My lad," he said, "I am afraid I can't go with you, after all."

"Why not, Luke?"

"Because you're rich, compared with me."

"I have but a hundred dollars."

"And I well, lad, I'm ashamed to say so, but I have only fifteen."

"We'll share and share alike, Luke."

"No, lad. Luke Robbins is too proud to live upon a boy. I reckon I'd better stay at home."

"But I want you to go and take care of me, Luke. How can I travel alone?"

Luke brightened up.

"That puts a different face on it, Ernest. If you think you need me, I'll go."

"I do need you."

"Then go I will; but one thing is understood--I won't take any of your money."

"There won't be any trouble on that score, Luke."

So the two prepared for their trip. Ernest, with Luke's help, purchased an outfit, and on the morning of the third day the two started out together, neither having a very definite idea where they were going except that their course was westward.

Luke knew very little of the States and Territories that lay between Oak Forks and the Pacific coast. Ernest, whose education was decidedly superior to his companion's, was able to give him some information. So they plodded on, making slow progress, but enjoying the unconventional life, and the scenery on the way.

They were in no hurry. They stopped to hunt and fish, and when the weather was unfavorable they stayed overnight at some wayside cabin. When the nights were fine they camped out, and enjoyed a sound rest under the open canopy of heaven.

Part of their way led through woods and over prairies, but here and there they came to a thriving village. There was little occasion to spend money, but still they were compelled to use some.

One day--it was some weeks from the time when they started--Luke turned to Ernest with a sober face.

"Ernest," he said, "I think you'll have to leave me at the next poor-house."

"Why, Luke?"

"Because my money is nearly all gone. I started with fifteen dollars. Now I have but one."

"But I have plenty left."

"That doesn't help me."

"I want to share it with you, Luke."

"Don't you remember what I said when we set out, lad?"

"What was it?"

"That I would not touch a dollar of your money."

"Then do you mean to leave me alone, Luke?" pleaded Ernest reproachfully.

"You are a boy and I am a man. I'm forty years old, Ernest. Is it right that I should live on a boy less than half my age?"

Ernest looked at him in perplexity.

"Is there no way of getting more money?" he asked.

"If we were in California now, and at the mines, I might make shift to fill my purse; but there are no mines hereabouts."

"Let us keep on, and something may turn up."

When this conversation took place they were approaching Emmonsville, a thriving town in Nebr

aska. As they walked through the principal street, it was clear that something had happened which had created general excitement. Groups of people were talking earnestly, and their faces wore a perturbed and anxious look.

"What's the matter?" asked Luke, addressing a well-to-do appearing man.

"Haven't you heard of the bank robbery over at Lee's Falls?"


"Two men, fully armed, rode up to the door, and, dismounting, entered the bank. One stepped up to the window of the paying teller, and covering him with his revolver, demanded five thousand dollars. At the same time the other stood in the doorway, also with a loaded revolver."

"Why didn't the teller shoot him down?" asked Luke.

"My friend, bank officers are not provided with loaded revolvers when on duty. Besides, the ruffian had the drop on him."

"Well?" asked Luke.

"What could the teller do? Life is more than money, and he had no alternative. The fellow got the money."

"Did he get away with it?"

"Yes; they both mounted their horses and rode off, no one daring to interfere. Each held his revolver in readiness to shoot the first man that barred his way."

"Where did you say this happened?"

"At Lee's Falls."

"Is it near at hand?"

"It is fifteen miles away."

"But why should that robbery create excitement here?"

"Because we have a bank here, and we are expecting a visit from the same parties."

"Who are they?"

"They are supposed to be the Fox brothers, two of the most notorious criminals in the West. Numberless stories are told of their bold robberies, both from individuals and from banks."

"How long have these fellows been preying upon the community?"

"We have heard of them hereabouts for three years. It is said they came from Missouri."

"Is there no one brave enough or bold enough to interfere with them?"

"More than one has tried it, but no one has succeeded. Twice they were captured by a posse of men, but in each case they broke jail before it was time for the trial.

"It seems to me you haven't many men of spirit in Nebraska."

"Perhaps you think you would be a match for them," said the citizen in a sarcastic tone.

Luke Robbins smiled and handled his revolver in a significant way.

"If you think you can kill or capture them, stranger, there's a chance to make a good sum of money."

"How is that?"

"A thousand dollars is offered for either, dead or alive."

"A thousand dollars!" repeated Luke, his face glowing with excitement. "Is that straight?"

"It will be paid cheerfully. You can bet on that."

"Who offers it?"

"The Governor of the State."

Luke Robbins became thoughtful and remained silent.

"Did you hear that, lad?" he asked, when he and Ernest were alone.

"Yes, Luke."

"A thousand dollars would do us a great deal of good."

"That is true, Luke, but it would be as much as your life is worth to hunt the rascals."

"Don't try to make a coward of me, Ernest."

"I couldn't do that, Luke. I only want you to be prudent."

"Listen, lad. I want that thousand dollars, and I'm going to make a try for it. Come along with me."

"Where are you going?"

"To the bank. I'm going to have a talk with the officers, and then I'll decide what to do."

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