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   Chapter 9 AN ARMED ESCORT.

The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 4885

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Luke Robbins entered at once upon his duties as janitor of the Emmonsville bank. It was rather difficult, however, to supply him with employment enough to account for his being in constant attendance.

He was provided with a broom, and in the morning swept the bank. Sometimes he washed the windows; at other times he sat on a bench in the rear of the bank, ready for any call upon his services. So far as garb went, he resembled a Quaker, but his brown face and sharp eyes hardly harmonized with his assumed character. Still less did the revolver which he carried in an inside pocket.

Several days passed, and though Luke kept a sharp lookout for the Fox brothers, he did not catch a glimpse of anyone who suggested or resembled them.

Then one morning Luke went to the bank as usual and put on his Quaker garb.

About eleven o'clock an elderly man appeared and presented a check for five hundred dollars. The money was paid him, and then he lingered a moment, ill at ease.

"I don't like to have so much money about me," he said, in a tone that betrayed anxiety.

"No doubt you will find plenty who would be willing to relieve you of it," rejoined the paying teller, with a smile.

"That's what I am afraid of. They do say that the Fox brothers have been seen not far away."

"Is it absolutely necessary that you should have the money in your possession? You could leave it in the bank, or most of it."

"I shall want to use some of it to-morrow, and I live ten miles away--in Claremont."

"How are you going back?"

"I have a buggy outside."

"The road to Claremont is rather lonely, I believe."

"Yes."

"Why don't you get some one to go with you?"

"I don't know any one I could get."

"I can find you a companion, but he would want to be paid."

"I'll pay him if he'll see me through all right."

"I have the very man for you. Here, Luke!"

Luke Robbins heard the call and approached.

"The farmer looked at him doubtfully.

"A Quaker?" he said, in a disappointed tone.

"He is no more a Quaker than you are. He is a detective, and very anxious to meet either of the Fox brothers."

The farmer brightened up.

"He's the man I'm after, then."

A bargain was struck between Luke and Ezekiel Mason, whereby the farmer promised to pay him five dollars to accompany him home and remain over night at the farm-house until he had disposed of the money the way he intended.

Luke was glad to

accept the proposal. It promised variety, and possibly adventure. The farmer climbed into the buggy, and the Quaker detective, following, took a seat by his side.

After they had driven some time they reached a part of the road where for a clear mile in advance there was not a house or building of any kind to be seen.

"This is the place I was most afraid of," said the farmer.

"Yes, it seems to be lonely. I wish one of the Fox brothers would happen along."

"Why?" asked the farmer, in a tone of alarm.

"Because I would like to tackle him."

"Why are you so anxious to tackle him? I cannot understand."

"Then I'll tell you, my honest friend. There is a reward of a thousand dollars offered for the capture of one of these famous outlaws, dead or alive."

Ezekiel Mason shrugged his shoulders.

"I'd rather earn the money some other way!" he said.

"You are only a peaceful farmer, while I am a fighting Quaker," responded Luke.

As he spoke he looked up the road, and his glance fell upon a short, compactly built man, in a gray suit, who was walking towards them. He seemed a quiet, commonplace person, but there was something about him that attracted Luke's attention.

"Do you know that man?" he asked abruptly.

"No," answered Mason, after a rapid glance.

"Are the Fox brothers tall men?" asked Luke.

"One only."

"The other?"

"Is about the size of the man who is approaching."

Luke did not reply, but examined still more critically the advancing pedestrian.

"If this should be one of the Foxes," he began.

"Do you think it is?" asked the farmer in a terrified tone.

"I can't tell. If it proves to be, do exactly as I tell you."

"Yes," replied the farmer, now thoroughly alarmed.

By this time the new-comer was but twenty feet distant. Though his appearance and dress were commonplace, his eyes, as they could see, were dark and glittering.

He made a halt.

"Friends," he said, "can you oblige me with the time?"

The farmer was about to produce his big, old-fashioned, silver watch, when Luke nudged him sharply.

"Leave him to me," he whispered, in a tone audible only to the farmer.

"Thee has asked the wrong party," he said aloud. "We don't carry watches."

The pedestrian regarded him with contempt. Whoever he might be, he looked upon a Quaker as a mild, inoffensive person, hardly deserving the name of man.

"I didn't speak to you," he said scornfully.

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