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   Chapter 22 A FRIEND IN NEED.

The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7778

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Bewildered and angry, John Fox looked to see who was his assailant. He found himself confronted by a tall, muscular Indian, whom Ernest also recognized as the man whose child he had saved from a watery grave.

"What do you mean by this outrage?" demanded the outlaw angrily.

"Why are you hurting him?" said the Indian, pointing to Ernest.

"Because I choose to. What have you got to say about it?"

"Me stop you," said the Indian calmly.

"I have a great mind to shoot you."

This was an empty threat, for his weapon had been taken by the Quaker detective.

The only answer made by the Indian was to produce a revolver, which he pointed at the breast of the outlaw.

"Two play at that game," he answered.

John Fox shrank back, for it takes a man of nerve to face a revolver. He began to remonstrate.

"What interest have you in that boy?" he asked.

"He save my little boy from drowning," answered the Indian. "Will you go, or shall me shoot?"

There was but one answer to make to this question. John Fox turned about, and walked quietly away without a word.

Ernest grasped the Indian's hand gratefully.

"I can't thank you enough," he said. "You have perhaps saved my life."

"You saved my little boy."

"Do you know that man?"

"No."

"It was John Fox, one of the Fox brothers, the famous outlaws."

"Humph! I have heard of him. How did he catch you?"

Ernest told the story. He also told of the commission he had from the Emmonsville bank.

"I am going to ask you a favor," he asked.

"What is it?"

"I want you to go with me to the bank at Lee's Falls. I have a package of bonds to carry there, and I don't think it safe to go alone. I will see that you are paid for your time and trouble."

"I will go."

Under the guidance of his Indian friend, Ernest reached Lee's Falls. The bank was closed, but the cashier was still in the bank building, having been detained after hours. Seeing him through the window, Ernest knocked and obtained admission.

"The bank is closed, young man," said the bank officer.

"I know it, but I have a package of bonds from the bank in Emmonsville. I hope you will take them from me, for I don't want the responsibility of them any longer."

"Oh, you are the young messenger. We had advice that you would be here yesterday."

"So I should have been, but for my capture by one of the Fox brothers."

"And how did you escape?" asked the wondering cashier.

"Please take the bonds, and I will tell you. I spent two nights in the outlaws' cave. This afternoon I managed to get away."

"But were not the bonds taken from you?"

"Yes, but I recovered them."

Ernest, without waiting for further questions, told the story as briefly as possible.

"So, after all," he concluded, "I should have been taken again but for my friend here," laying his hand upon the Indian's shoulder.

"I told him you would pay him for his trouble in accompanying me."

"So I will," said the cashier, and he took a five-dollar bill and tendered it to the Indian.

The latter objected to taking it, alleging that Ernest had saved his boy's life, but the cashier overruled his objections, and he accepted it.

They were going out of the bank when the familiar figure of Luke Robbins came up the street. His face was overspread by an expression of anxiety, and he seemed troubled. He had searched everywhere for Ernest, and thus far had failed to find him.

When he saw the boy emerging from the bank his face changed at once.

"So you are safe, Ernest? I thought I had lost you," he exclaimed. "Did you see anything of the outlaws?"

"I should say that I did. I was captured by James Fox, and confined two nights in the underground haunt of the robbers. When I escaped this afternoon I fell into the clutches of the other brother."

"What! John Fox?"

"Yes."

"This cannot be, Ernest. I lodged

him myself in Crampton jail."

"All I can tell you is that he is at liberty now. He must have escaped."

"Then I am afraid I shan't receive the reward offered for his capture."

"You ought to get it. You delivered him over to the authorities. If they could not keep him, that was their lookout."

"You ought to be right, lad. I hope you are. Who is this man?"

"My Indian friend, who proved to be a friend in need. It was he who saved me from John Fox."

"I am proud to know you," said Luke, grasping the hand of the red warrior. "If you have helped Ernest, you are my friend."

"He save my little boy; I will always be his friend."

"You have saved my boy, my Indian friend, and you will always be my friend," returned Luke.

"Well, Luke, what shall we do? I have done my errand and delivered the bonds. I suppose I ought to go back to Emmonsville."

"We will go back. I have found you, and have no more to do here."

"Shall we walk?"

"No, it is too far. There is a stable a little way from here; I will hire a conveyance, and our Indian friend will perhaps be willing to drive us over."

The Indian expressed his willingness, and the three were soon on their way through the woods. They met with no adventure, nor did they fear any, for it would have required a brave man to attack two such stalwart persons as the Indian and the Quaker detective.

Leaving them for the present, we will go back to the cave from which Ernest had made so unceremonious a departure.

Frank slept for two hours, but at length opened his eyes, expecting to see Ernest sitting at his bedside.

He looked in vain. There was no one in the room. This did not surprise him much, however. He thought Ernest might have gone into the next apartment.

"Ernest!" he cried, but his call received no response.

The little boy got out of bed and looked about, but his search was vain.

So he went into the kitchen, where he found Juba engaged in some domestic work.

"Juba," he said, "where is Ernest."

"I don't know, chile. Isn't he in the big room?"

"No, Juba. I went to sleep, and when I woke up he was gone."

"Lor', chile, he round somewhere. You look round, and maybe you find him."

But Frank was doomed to disappointment. He sat down ready to cry. He felt very lonely. He had not realized how much he enjoyed Ernest's company.

"I don't know where he can have gone, Juba. Do you think he's gone and left me?"

"I can't tell, chile. Wait till your papa comes home. He will find him."

Frank had to wait an hour and a half before his father's return. All this time he was buoyed up by the hope that Ernest would come back. He was continually watching the portal to see if the runaway would not come, but in vain.

James Fox entered the room with grave face and heavy step. He had not heard of his brother's escape, and thought him still an inmate of Crampton jail.

He looked about for his young captive.

"Where is Ernest, Frank?" he asked.

"I don't know, papa. I miss him ever so much," said the little boy tearfully.

"But he must be somewhere about. When did you miss him?"

"He went away when I was asleep."

The outlaw's suspicions were aroused.

"I will look for him," he said.

But Ernest was in none of the rooms, nor could Juba give any account of him.

"Did you walk with him into the interior of the cave, Frank?" he asked.

"Yes, papa."

"Ha, that explains it. Go with me, and tell me just where you went."

The little boy led the way through the vacant apartments till he reached the one through which the light came from above.

The rope was still hanging from the projection, and this explained Ernest's escape. James Fox went up and examined it.

"He must have got out this way," said the outlaw.

"Won't he come back, papa?" said Frank, sadly.

"Yes," said his father, resolutely. "I will bring him back."

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