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   Chapter 10 THE ASTONISHED OUTLAW.

The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8836

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The pedestrian's next move was a bold one.

"I am tired," he said. "Give me a ride."

"Will thee excuse us?" said the Quaker meekly.

"Oh, shut up!" cried the assumed pedestrian. "Quakers should be seen and not heard."

Then, to the farmer, "I am tired. Let me into your carriage."

"There is no room," said the farmer nervously.

"Then tell the Quaker to get out, and I will take his place."

Ezekiel Mason was by no means a brave man, and he did not know what to say to this impudent proposal.

He looked appealingly at Luke.

"I will accommodate the gentleman," said the latter meekly. With the words he rose from his seat and jumped to the ground.

"Shall I assist thee?" he asked the stranger in a mild voice.

"No; I am quite capable of getting into the carriage without help from a meddlesome Quaker."

"Indeed, thee does me injustice."

The stranger did not immediately get into the buggy.

"I don't care to ride, after all," he said coolly. "Just hand me your money, you old clodhopper."

The worst had come. The new arrival was evidently one of the Fox brothers, after all.

"Indeed, I have no money," said the terrified farmer.

This was true, for he had put the wallet, containing the five hundred dollars, into the hands of Luke.

"You lie! You have just come from the Emmonsville bank, where you drew a large amount."

At this proof of knowledge on the part of the outlaw the farmer was almost paralyzed.

It appeared to him that the robber must be supernaturally gifted.

"I haven't got it now," he said.

"You lie!" cried the outlaw sternly. "Come down here and give up the money, or I'll shoot you."

"You can search me," said Mason desperately.

"Come down, then."

"Thee is very unkind," observed Luke.

"Shut up, you meddlesome Quaker! It none of your business."

"Thee had better come down and let the man search thee," said Luke to the farmer.

Ezekiel Mason had been waiting for a hint from Luke, in whom he recognized a master spirit. His only hope was in his companion.

"Art thee Mr. Fox?" asked Luke in a tone of mild inquiry.

"I'll let you know who I am," was the swaggering reply.

Though he was but one man opposed to two, he had no fears. The farmer was evidently cowed and terrified, while the Quaker seemed, though large, to be peaceable and harmless.

But in his judgment of Luke the outlaw was very much at fault. When threatening the farmer he had covered him with his revolver, but as he was preparing to leave the buggy he carelessly lowered it. Luke, who was aching to attack him, noticed this.

While Fox, for it was one of the notorious brothers, was standing in careless security the Quaker sprang upon him like a panther upon his prey. He knocked the revolver from his hand with one powerful blow, felled him to the ground, and placed his foot upon his prostrate form.

Never, perhaps, in a career crowded with exciting adventures had the outlaw been so thoroughly surprised.

"What the mischief does this mean?" he ejaculated, struggling to rise.

"It means that thee has mistaken thy man," answered Luke coolly.

"Let me go or I'll kill you!" shrieked the outlaw fiercely.

"If you try to get up I'll put a bullet through your head," replied Luke, pointing at him with his own revolver.

In his excitement he had dropped his Quaker speech, and this the outlaw noted.

"Are you a Quaker? he asked abruptly.

"No more than you are," answered Luke. "Farmer, bring out the rope."

Ezekiel Mason, from the bottom of the buggy, produced a long and stout piece of clothes-line.

"What do you mean to do?" inquired the outlaw uneasily.

"You will see soon enough. No, don't try to get up, as you value your life. Now tie him, Mason, while I keep him covered with the revolver."

"Now tie him, Mason, while I keep him covered with the revolver."

"We've had enough of this," said the outlaw sullenly. "Let me go, and I'll do you no harm."

"I don't mean that you shall, my honest friend."

"But if you persist in this outrage, I swear that you will be a dead man within thirty days."

"Be careful how you talk, or you may be a dead man within thirty minutes," answered Luke.

While the outlaw was covered by Luke's revolver, farmer Mason, though his tremulous hands showed that he was nervous, managed to tie him securely. Fox began to under stand the sort of man with whom he was

dealing and remained silent, but his brain was busy trying to devise some method of escape.

At length the dangerous prisoner was securely tied.

"What shall we do with him?" asked Ezekiel.

"Where's the nearest prison?

"At Crampton."

"How far away?"

"Twelve miles."

"In what direction?"

"It is four miles beyond Claremont," answered the farmer.

"Where you live?"

"Yes."

"Then we will go there first."

"But how shall we carry this gentleman?" asked the farmer, who could not get over a feeling of deference for the celebrated outlaw.

[Illustration: "NOW TIE HIM, MASON, WHILE I KEEP HIM COVERED WITH THE REVOLVER."]

"We'll put him into the back part of the buggy."

By the united efforts of both, the outlaw, like a trussed fowl, was deposited bodily in the rear of the carriage, where he lay in a most uncomfortable position, jolted and shaken whenever the road was rough or uneven. It was a humiliating position, and he felt it.

"You'll repent this outrage," he said fiercely.

"Doesn't thee like it?" asked Luke, relapsing into his Quaker dialect.

"Curse you and your Quaker lingo!" retorted Fox, his black eyes sparkling vindictively.

"It wouldn't do thee any harm to turn Quaker thyself," suggested Luke.

"I'll be bruised to death before the ride is over," growled the outlaw.

"There is one way of saving you the discomfort of the ride."

"What is that?"

"I might shoot you through the head. As the reward is the same whether I deliver you alive or dead, I have almost determined to do it."

The outlaw was made still more uncomfortable by these words. He had wholly misunderstood Luke at first, and the revelation of his real character had impressed him not only with respect, but with fear. He did not know of what this pseudo Quaker might be capable. He longed in some way to get out of his power. Force was impracticable, and he resolved to resort to finesse.

"Look here, my friend," he began.

"So you regard me as a friend? Thank you, brother Fox; I won't forget it."

"Oh, bother your nonsense! I suppose you are after the thousand dollars offered for my apprehension."

"You have guessed right the first time. I am not a rich man, and I don't mind telling you that a thousand dollars will be particularly acceptable just about now."

"So I supposed. You don't feel particularly unfriendly to me?"

"Oh, no. I might under different circumstances come to love you like a brother."

"Or join my band?"

"Well, no; I draw the line there. As a Quaker I could not consistently join a band of robbers."

"Who are you?" asked Fox abruptly. "You weren't raised around here."

"No."

"Where, then?"

"I come from Iowa."

"What is your name?"

"My friend, I haven't any visiting cards with me. You can think of me as the Quaker detective."

"Then I will come to business. You want a thousand dollars?"

"You are correct there."

"Then I will show you a way to get it."

"I know one way already."

"You mean by delivering me up?"

"Yes."

"That would not suit me. Let me go, and I will give you a thousand dollars."

"Have you got it with you?"

"No, but I can arrange to give it to you within a week. You see," added the outlaw dryly, "I have been prosperous in my business, and can snare that sum in return for the favor you are going to do me in giving me my liberty."

"I am afraid, friend Fox, that my chance of securing the money in that way would be very slender."

"I am a man of my word. What I promise, that I will do."

"If you have so much money, why did you want to take the five hundred dollars of my friend here?"

"It was all in the way of business. Well, what do you say?"

"That I won't trust you. If I should take your thousand dollars for releasing you I should be as bad as you are."

"Very well; drive on, then," said the outlaw sullenly.

In less than an hour Ezekiel Mason's home was reached. When they drove into the yard it made quite a sensation. Mrs. Mason and the hired man stood staring at them with mouths agape.

"Who have you got there, Ezekiel?" asked his wife.

"One of the Fox brothers!" answered the farmer in an important tone. "Me and my friend here took him."

Luke smiled, and so did the prisoner, uncomfortable though he was.

"It would have taken a dozen like that fool to have captured me," he said in a low voice, but only Luke heard him.

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