Jesse James at bay; or, The train robber's trail

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Jesse James at bay; or, The train robber's trail

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Title:
Jesse James at bay; or, The train robber's trail
Series Title:
Jesse James Stories
Creator:
Lawson, W. B.
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
32 p. ; 26 cm.

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Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
028819208 ( ALEPH )
07356699 ( OCLC )
J14-00019 ( USF DOI )
j14.19 ( USF Handle )

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serial

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issued Weekly. By Suhsc r iptzim $2.50 pe r year. Entered as Second Class Matter at New York Pust Office by STREET & SMI T H zy8 William St., N. Y. No. 19. Pri ce Fi v e Cents. "STOP THAT, MY FRIEND, AND IIAND OVE R TIIAT +SSA G E T O lUEI" SAID TIIE STERN VOICE OF JESSE JAMES. .

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Issued fVeekly. .By Subscrip t ion $2.JO per year. E11tered as Seco n d Class Matter at the N. Y. Post Office, by STREE T & SMITH, 238 William St., N. Y. Entered according t o Act of Conpess in the year 1qo1, i n the Office of the Librarian of Congress, W a s llington, D C. No. 19. NEW YORK S eptember 14, 1901. Price Five Cents. JESSE JAMES AT BAY; OR, THE TR1\IN By W B. LAWSON. CHAPTER I. THE :MAN WHO SJ:OOD BETWEEN. "2\fa d dog! mad dog t This terrible cry sounded through a s mall village in the mountai n ou s region of l\Iisso uri one sultry afternoon. It s e nt a n ele ctric thrill through many a woman's heart, for c hil dren played upon the street, unconscious of their deadly peril. A it h appened, men were away: hardly one s eemed to be in sight. Down the street cam e the savage bea s t. s napping right and l eft, in the manner pecnliar to anim a l s in his terrible condit ion. The brute presented a sight that would fill o n e with awe. The foa m dribbled from his gaun t jaws a nd lath ered his che s t. There was somet hin g in his appeara n ce that mu t have caused the trongest man to s hiver. Playing in the stre e t was a group of children They saw the dog, bu t, w i th that peculiar trust t ha t ch ild ren e x h ibit, saw nothing in his appearance to excite al arm. Many a time they ma y hav e pla yed wit h this same a n i mal. When the wild cries reach ed their ears they l ooked around to see the ca u se. The dog advanced directly upon them Nothing could make him diverge from the straight l ine upon which he moved. In a dozen seconds or more the mad beast would b e in the mid s t of the innocents. biting them right and left. The s i tuation was so s train e d that more than one poor m other lost her voice, a nd, unabl e to sh ri ek longer, clasped her hands, while her lips moved in silent prayers. They were h e ard. A n answer came. On the sidewalk stoo d a man who was carryi n g a small bag. He seemed dus ty and travelsta ined, and had the appearance of a peddler, for s uch gentry sometimes found

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2 THE JESSE JAMES S TORiES. their way to tl?e village, and drove bargains with the peo-v\Tild cries arose. pie of the neighborhood. They were no long er filled with terror, but shouts of The p edd l e r had not noticed the clamor at first, but, thanksgiving rang through the relieved villagers. when the significant words of "mad dog" r eac hed his As for the peddler, giving the still quivering b o dy of ears, he l ooked around. the fallen brute a contemptuous kick with his foot, he There was the gaunt, ferocious beast bearing down concealed the weap o n with \vhich h e had done the brave up o n the group gf children. deed, turned on his heel, and walked ove r to where he It was like an eagle swo oping a flock of ducks in had left his small pa ck. the open water Thi s he picked up, tossed over his back, and resumed It was fortunate, inde ed, that the peddler chanced to be hi s walk along the village street, as though nothing unarmed. usual had happened. Perhaps it was even more fortunate that he proved to Around the fallen clog many women 1 gatherecl, to view be a man of decision. hi s terrible shape. The s itu ation was so critical that any hesitati on meant ''\!\There is he?' the cry arose. a terribl e fate for the children, who must immediately fall They had b een so much engrossed with the clog and in beneath the teeth of the ravenou-s b east. hugging the now frightened young ones, that po person Like a flash tl1e peddler dropped his pack. seemed to have paid any attention to the stranger. He ran out into the street. Up and clown the street they l ooked, but h e was not in As he s prang, his hand seemed to seek some pocket, for sight. i t instantly grasped a r evo lver. Truth to tell the peddler had quietly entered the village The shuddering women still held their breath and mentavern n ear by. tally pray ed, but a se ns e of relief had swept over them Evening was near at hand. when the y saw the figure of a man b etwee n the mad The clay had been exceedi ngly hot, and a summer animal and their b e loved children. storm, so commo n in this region, was pushing up from No sooner did the p edd l e r r each his position than he the west. dropped on one knee. Already th e thunder grumbled in the distance, and the His intention was to b e more on a l eve l with the adbank of dark clouds hurried on. varn;ing brute. Lightning played hither and yon, as the air was charged Brief thong)"! this time had been, it brought the mad with electricity. clog close upon him. The p e ddler sat upon the porch in front of the tavern The terror seeme d to recogniz e the fact that hi right to see the storm. of way was barred, for his aspect became even more The first spatte r of large raindrops alarmed the women ferocious as he swept clown upon the crouching figure. and sent th em scurrying in all directions, but the story Perhaps the revolver might miss fire-such things had o f that clay s doings would b e carri ed far and near. happened b efo re After the first littl e rush of rain there was a short lull. This \.vould leave the peddl e r in a bad situation, as he It was only the hush that generally precedes the rush must sac rifice his own life in order to save the children. of the tempest. He was made of true stuff, and did not flinch A clattering of ho ofs down the village street herald the The hand that h e ld out the revolver was as steady as corning of horsemen and prese ntly they burst into view, a rock. looming up like phantom ricle1's in the gloom that was Already his intended victim was within ten feet of him. qui ckly being spread over the scene b y the onward rush This was reduc ed to six. of the black storm clouds. Fire, brave man, or you are lost! This was the thought There were three of them. that passed through many an anxious mind as the slrnclAll were mounted on fine horses-regular Kentucky dering spectators wat c hed the scene transpiring b e fore thoroughbreds-and sat in their saddles with the ease of their eyes. veterans. Ah! there was a throb a puff of smoke. The storm was now howling clown thro ugh the valley, He had fired. and, with the ,,incl, a commot i on was cPcated in the vil-The brute rolled over in a little cloud o f dust, kicked lage. spa smodic ally, struggled to his feet, advanced tovvarcl his Signs creaked ancl S\n111g wilcliy, doors banged. clouds enemy, snapping like a demon, r eceived a second shot, of dust swept aiong the street. and then tame the rain. an.cl th i s time fell in a shuddering heap a t the very feet of In three minute s the water descended in sheets, electric t h e man who had slain him. flashes cut the darkness i;i twain, as the b olts de scen ded,

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( I THE JESSE JAME S STORIES. 3 and the very earth quaked under th e tumultuous throbbing o f the thunder. It was a wild scene. Secure from the descending rain unde r the roof of the porch the p ed dler watched the scene. He saw the three horsemen dash up in the first rush of rain spring from their sad dles give their steeds to sev eral darkies who ran o ut t o receive them, and scurry under the shelter of the porch. ''Narrow escape, boys,'' laughed the tall man, who wore a slouch hat over his eyes. "You bet. I'm always read y to escape a ducking. Seems to me I'd rather face a re vo lver in the hand of a sheriff than--" ''Hist!'' The tall man gave thi s \\'arning, and accompanied with it a glance in the direction of the peddler, who sat there appar ently taking no stock in anything but the s torm, but who must have heard all that was sa id. The three stood in th e porch for a few minut es watch ing the tempest whirl down the street. 'A screecher, e h J esse?" remarked one. "Rather, Dick." Turning on hi s heel, the tall man passed on through the door, and entered the h ouse, where lights had already sprung up The peddle r remain ed. Although watching the summer s t o rm in i ts pass.age through th e village, his thoughts appeared to be in an other quarter, for he wa s muttering to himself: "It's him, sure enough Fortune i s playing the game into my hand." Presently he, too, see med1 to have had enough of the storm. Perhaps it wa the odor of beef stea k and fried onions that c lre\1 him in, for supper was being prepared, and the inner man could not d etect these symptoms unm o ved. The interi o r of the tavern did not differ in any material manner the wid e world over. There was a taproom, aucl adjoining it a drawing room, smal l but serving the purpose of the farnily and \;hat guests they might happen to have. In this region only belat ed traveler s were apt to stop over. Four at a time was an unu s ual event, and mine host showed some little excitement oYer the pro s p ect ahead. vVben the p edd ler entered the taproom th e landlord was engaged i n conv ersat ion with the tallest of the three hor semen. The other t\rn were chatting socially over their drinks with several loungers, for a tavern in a Missouri v i llage is always a rendezv o us for the odd characters of the place. "vVho's that chap, J\.Iac ?"asked the traveler, addressing the l andlord. "Don't know-peddler, I reckon, for thar's his pack over yonder. He is an interesting character in my eyes, though, Jesse." "How's that?" "My woman just told me-she was out o n the street, and seen the whole business. That man Kill be remem bered in the prayers of many a mother this night." ''Why so, Mac?" "Thar was a big, mad clog do\\'n the street just b efo re the storm came up, a rushin' on a l ot of children. "The critter wou l d have torn em right an' left on l y for this man. He jumped atween an' let the critter have it dead certain. ''My woma n says the dog fell at h i s feet, and w h e n they got ove r huggin' the children and t u rned to look for th e p e ddler, he was gone." The man in the slouch hat eyed the party under dis cussion again with a more decided interest than he had yet shown. "Jove! he don't look it, and yet thar's something about hi$ sleepy eye that makes a man feel nneasy. I've an idea h e s a devil when aroused . "You're ju st' sqnare on that, old hoss ." He u sed a pistol?'' "Yes." "Peddlers don't generall y go armed, or, if they do, you don't see 'em risk their lives b efo re a mad dog. Mac, I've an idea ." "What i s it, Jesse?" "This chaps; one of 'em; you know they hunt for me in all disguis es. Why not as a peddler?" "Anyho\\'," muttered the landlord, he's a brave man." CHAPTER II. PEDDLER OR WHAT? The traveler caught his words. "A brave man! I don't doubt it Mac. None but such dare prowl about these mountains seeking to capture Jesse James. A brave man! \!Veil, what you've told me convi nces me of that, and at the same time gives me a strong idea that my guess is a right one." The landlo r d moved u neasily. "What will you do about it?" ' Noth ing until I prove it." "How can you do that?" The other shrugged his shoulde r s "Some one must examine his pack." ''I suppose so." "That may tell the tale, Mac. Hello, there's the bell fo r s u pper. Let's ad j ou rn."

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THE J ESSE. STORIES. There was a like movement from the others, and pres ently they sat at the table. Mac presided and hi s good wife poured the tea She pressed everything o n the peddler, and seemed to confuse him a trifle. Having seen the way in which this man stood between the innocents and the mad d og, she f e lt as th o ugh there was nothing too good for him J esse Jam es sat oppos ite the p e ddl e r. A lthou g h pretending n o t to pay any pa rticular attention t o him, h e watched the man His knowledge of human nature was wond erful and had been acquired b y mean s of the rough lif e h e had led since b oyhood P l ain ly, in his eyes, th e man was no fool. He seemed r eserved, and only spoke when addressed, bL!t there was a p owe r back of all this that impr essed t h e other. A man who has b e e n hunted for yea r s wit h a price set u pon hi s : head i s apt to b e suspicious. The. meal was n ear l y finished Outside the e l ements had calmed d ow n as s uddenly as they had arisen; the s t orm was ove r, it seeme d Lights fla shed throu g h the village. L a n terns passed the windows. A number of p eop l e en t eied the taproom, and the ir voice s could be pla inl y heard. "Whe r e is he?" W e want to see him." "Hello, Mac Where's th e man?" Jes se James half started from his chair, and a h an d in v o luntaril y crep t t o b i s pocket. It seemed to strike him that thi s was m eant for himp erh aps a s urpri se party. Through the doorway came a s trin g of people-men, women and children. This did not l ook lik e a pos se sent to effect his capture or death ; besides, they seemed to pay no attention to hini. "There he is! they cried A rush was made for the peddler. He endeavored to escape, but a band of women blocked t he way of retreat. "Mister Peddler," said o ne man, who may hav e a s sumed the office of spokesma n or been appointed such, "we've come to thank ye for s avin g our children. Thar ain t a woman in town as don't want to show her g r ati tude and they'll buy ye o u t t o-morrow, to prove it. Now we want to thank you, and sha k e the hand of a brave man ." The peddler saw he was caught. There wa s no escape, and, air of a marty r, h e held out his hand. Like a flash, Jesse James eyed that palm Then, bending his head he smiled. I "A peddl e r and u sed to rough t imes, with such a palm as that! \i\T ell, I d o n t b elieve it," he mutter ed The r ecep tion was soo n through with, when the good souls r e tir ed as t h ey came, l eaving their men t o sit about in th e t ap r oom; but, during the entire evening, it was the thing for severa l women to stea l up to the door of the tavern and loo k in u po n the peddl e r. He was an odd-looking genius, t oo, and wore a pair of s p ectac l es. Seldom speaking, th ey could hardly tell what his nationality was, but he had a German o r Bohemian cast. A d oze n m e n or more sat about the taproom, or stood in gr.oups. Reminiscences were indul ged in. Most of them s e emed to know Jes s e James and his two companions, and greeted them in a neighborly way. The notorious mttlaw of M i s s o uri never had any fear of being b etraye d b y such people, for he did them no in jury. He was no common thief, roblbing indiscrimi naitely right and left. Those who s u ffer e d at hi s hands were railroads, express companies, and banks True, in order to accomplish his work with these cor porations, h e was often obliged to murder some trusted employee of the company, but th a t was a mere incident in the w hole. The se men were hi s friends for a variety of reasons; although no t ready to take his part, they n ever tried to betra y him. First, fear made them s u ch, for the des perado had a way of exciting this feeling in the breasts of those with whom he came in contact Then, again, th ey were in sympathy with him, for he made war o n Northern capita l and they were almost to a man ex-Confedera t es The peddler soo n tired of t h e scene. He went off with Mac and was s h own to a room in the second story. Grad u ally t!he villag e rs departed to the ir homes, and things began to settle back to what they might ordin a ri ly he "Now i s t h e time, Mar c," said J esse James. "You're anxious abo ut that pack. "I c o nf.ess it, man." He bent over the p e ddler s small bundle-that is sma11 for one of h i s bus iness, t houg: 1 conside red in any other light, it was of quite a r espectable size This h e unstrapped. His companions and the l and l ord watched him m sil e n ce. and yet with some interest The pack came open. There was disclosed to view a s mall variety of w _ares

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THE JESSE JAMES such as a shrewd peddler in these parts might readily expect a sale fur J esse James was evidentl y surprised, and perhaps a littl e disappointed. He had expected to fasten upon something that would betray th e other. ?\ow he hardl. v knew \rliat to think. "Perhaps I can i1elp t o se lect," said a quiet voice just behind him. Turning his head, hie saw the peddler standing in the doorway leading to the stairs. For once in his life Jesse James felt cheap; but he was at l east partially equal to r :he emergency. "Stranger you must pardon me, hut I used to be in your business myself, and I thought here was a good chance for a trade. I wanted to make a Jumo offer for the whole pack, and then ell the things to .the people here. They'd )1ave p:::id a good price for anything that came from you.' It \\as rat1her an ingenious expianation, and the peddler appeared to accept it. ay no more, stranger. I reckon I might as well have that profit as you. \Vitb your permiss ion I'll close tie pack." This he procccdccl to do, shouldering it as if his object in coming clown s t:::irs had been to bring his stock i n trade 'up to his room. "Good-night, gentlemen." Saying whic h the peddler withdrew. "'Nell," spoke up the landlord, when the four were alone again, 'arc yo u satisfied?" "Y cs." "He's w1hrat he seems.''. The other looked keenly at him. "Mac, my suspicions are confirmed-that is what I am satisfied about." "The deuce you say; then our peclcller-" "Is a man-hunter on t11c track." The landlord whistled. Doth the other men frowned. "'Why, I tli1ought from his pack he was all right." '"Well, yes, it was selected with some judgment, I ad-mit; but sometimes a little thing gives a man a\\ ay." "What did you see, Jesse?" "\iV}hen he bent forward I got a chance to make a discovery. Ordinary peddlers don't go about the country wearing a wig, do they?" 'I reckon not." "Well, this man's got one on. So you see he has some reaso n for concealment." "Perhaps he's laid out some man and has to keep s!hady," proposed the man called Dick. "I choo e to be1ieve anothc! thing. \;y"t:''.l sec oi that man before we've done thi3 job.'' His words seeme d to make hi s c ompanions a little uneasy. "\;Ve' cl best skip when the rest of the b oys get Ii ere," said Dick. "Agreed. I hope--" "Listen!" "Horses' hoofs, by Geo;-gc." A party had arrived at the tavern. The peclcll e r. friom b ehind th e shutters of his fro n : t \vin dow, looked o ut, and could sec them clra w up before the lon g porC'11. From the ta v crn its e lf came light e nough to dispel the darkness on the road and reveal the figures of the new comers. The y \1cre monntecl en good horses, and app;ared to be a quartet of good-natured fellows, ready to laugh and joke. Dismounting, they entered t'hic tavern. The pe Idler had made no move to retire, but his room was wrapped in darknes s He bcliC'ved Jesse James s u s pected h:m, and that there was clan g r of discovery unles he l e ft the n eighborhood, or a ssumed a new character. The latt e r was more to his notion. Leaving his room in '.1is s toC'king feet, he made his wa y to a little loft jus t above the Laproom The r e were cracks in the flo or. He could see fairly well, :md hear beautifully. In this cramped position he lay for almost an hour, taking in a11 that occurred b e low. Such an .occupation betrayed one fact; Jesse Jarnes made no mistake when he said he believed the peddler to be a detective sent by Pinkerton or the railroad autho riti es to run him clown This was his mission. A determined effort was about to be made to rid the country of these desperate men, whose v<-ork for year. s past had given tne State of Missouri an unenviable reputation. He was the advance courier. When his signal lighted the sky such a posse of men as had not been seen in this section since the war w o uld en:ter among the foot hills of the Ozarks, and if Jesse Jam es escaped it woul d only be after the mos t severe tussle of his lif e. His s'harp ears caught much that was said, and the plans of the James gang were a s ecret no longer. They had been called together to make a raid upon a train which was to carry an unusual amount of cash in the express car. Their plans were well la i d.

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6 THE JESSE J AMES STORIES. J esse James originated t'he rn, as u s u a l and the others readil y fell -into his way of thinking. By and by the pe dd ler h ea rd o melhing that gave him a f:hook. He had no time to l ose if h e would baffle the express robbers. \i\Then m id night arrived they w o uld b e gone, rnounrted on their swift h o rs es Should he b e left b ehind? I t was not like the man. Accustomed to grappling \\'ith s u o h e mergen c i es, he could think quickly. Jn five minutes he had made up hi s mind what his plan oi campaign s h o uld b e CHAPTER III. CHASED THROUGH TIIE NIGHT. He could not ptss do\Yn a n d out by way o f t'he stairs because thes e J ed directly to the taproom. H sec r ecy was desired, h e must go abou t th e busin ess in another way. He looked o ut of the window. All w as darkness b e low ; but his eyes, being accus tomed to the gloom, soon discovered that th e r e was a ledge underneath. A tree grew beside th e house, and o n e of the li mbs passed near his window: op another was fastened th e sign that swung to and fro in the ni g h t wind out in front of th e i n n. Between these t1Yo J1e must be able to r eac h the ground, if he prove d himself possessed of any agi lity at all At any rate. he was 11'0l a hesitating !'!!an. Leaving hi.s pack whe r e it l ay, he clamb':!recl over the window sii!. His f e et reste l up o n the ledge. The branches of t h e tre e touched hi s face, and he had no difficulty i n f'ecuring a h old. In three minutes hi'S fe et were on the ground, and tha t part of the business was done. This was only a beginning, however. Other things were t o follow. He must secure a moun t, a n d at this hour of the it would seem a rather Clifficult if not wholly i m possible, t hing to do. Wit'hout h es itation, h e walked hasti l y down the mai n village street. "This must b e the place," he said, stopping in front of a pecHliarly-built house. He boldly up and knocked loudly on the fronrt door. Presentl y a windo w above was o p ened. A h ead, armed with a niglhtcap was thrust out, and a d eep voice growled: "\Vhat th e devil do you want, rousing. a man fro m sleep at this uneart1hly hour?'' "Stonewa ll J a ck son!" returned the other. It was a strange answer, but it seemed t o b e very in telligible to the party at the window. ''Eh? Bless m y soul-hold o n there. Ill be down in a jiff y." The head vanished. vVhateve; a jiffy might b e, the man of th e h o u se certainly lost littl e time in getting downstairs and o p ening th e door. He carried n o light, \\ hich seemed a l ittl e singu lar, con sidering the fact that it was in th e middl e of th e nig'ht when h e was thus unce remonion ly aroused. "Walk i nwho the deuce are you?" L et m e as k that question." "Mv name i s Bob l\!IcKee." ''You're the man I m looking for. Colonel Ridgway gave me your name." It was a word to conjure with1--Pinkerton's right-hand man, his chief o f s taff. Every cr iminal o f note knew an d feared Ridgway. 'It's all right. Tell m e what I can do for you." ''You h ave a horse, McKee?" ".'\n excellent o n e." "l wish to b orrO\r "He is at your serv i ce ." "l'liow-at once." "Come with m e to the s ta ble." He picked up a lante rn struck a match and lighted th:: wick. Together they walked back of the house to where a stabl e stood, the door of which tb e owner o p ened wit'h hi s key. T h e animal within was a fine f ello w and, h aving an eye for good h o rsefl es h, the detective c o u l d not conceal h i s admiration. Quickly saddle and bridle were plac ed in position, and all was r eady. He had a f ew questions to ask, and these were now fonhcoming. They seemed to concern the shortes t route to the nearest telegraph stati o n on the rai lroad. \i\Th e n h e had learned this, the detective started a way, m ounte d o n the horse. Just' as h e parted from :McK eee, a man mounted th e stairs of the tavern al)d knocked on th e door of the room th e detec tive h a d occupied. Tnis was J esse James Upon reflec t ion he had determined that it would be

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THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. wiser to p1,1t it directly to the man and have the matter settled. Their hqrses were at t'he door ready saddled, and his companions stood at the foot of the stairs. If he needed ao;sistace a call wo.uld bring !!hem to his side. There was no r esponse to his summon!';. He repeated it. Silence only reigned. "Mister Peddler, are you awicl pounding o f a horse's hoof s Tihe men looked each other in the f;i..Ge. Something seemed t6 tell them the truth. In this quiet Missouri village men did not go galloping madly around in the middle of the night unless some extraordinary occasion warranted suc'h a course. "That's 'hiim, Jesse!" ejaculated Djck. "And he's gone to ruin our plans." "To hors e W e rnust run the varmint down and string bim to a telegraph pole." Then there was mounting in hot haste, with not a second to spar e. When the good people heard a wild clattering of many horses past ti11eir dG. o r s, as the cavalcade svvept by, they understood then, if they had not known it before, that Jesse James and his gang ha cl come to town. It was easy enough to locate the single horseman as he_ left the place. One main roac) entered and left the vi1lage, heading almost north and south. Their horses were urged on. It \ vas impossi ble to tell whether they gained, or even whether they were overhauling the man, on account o the no ise made by their own steeds. J esse Jam es recognized this fact. v\rhen t1hey had gon e several miles he ordered a sud-den stoppage Drawing r ein, th.ey sa t in the saddl e, !istening. The gentle nig'ht breeze favo red them. They could hear the regular and r q.pid beat of a horse' hoofs on the road ahead. "Good 1 Away we go. again," They fairly skimmed along, so rapid was their prog r ess. It seemed almost incredib l e that the man they pur sued could have a horse equal to t11e splendid Kentuck) thoroughbreds they bestrode, Only one man in th e village possessed a better s t eed and this was Dpb McKee, the )1orse trader. Although their reasoning was so sound and their lpgi so clear, when t'hiey came to take anotiher reckoni n about three miles fart'her on, the sounds ahead seemec just about as far away as before. This was aggravating. It was ever/ more--c)isappointing. "Faster JI' gri. tted J ?tpes. "\fi/e must get him," said another. Again they fl.ew along. In a short time they came to where the road forke and here a question arose. Wihic 'h way had the other gone? T11ey list ened.

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8 THE JES S E JAMES S T ORIES. w r e r e poss e ssed 1 of remarkabl y keen ears but t h ey failed to h ea r any sound that cou l d be s e t down a s the one they looked foL CHAPTER IV. THE SOUTHBOUND EXPRES S The te legraph o p e ra tor lo o k e d u p to s ee a head thrus t in at the o p e ni n g and t o find hi mself cove r ed b y a h eavy r e v o lv er. Wha t w a s t o b e clone? Had th e ir m a n c om e to a h alt? P erhap s h e might have abandoned hi s !horse? Bofi 1 of th ese g u esse s w e re far out of the way, a s 1 J esse J a m es well kn e w H ere h i s sagacity ca m e into play H e j u m pe d from his horse to se e if he co u ld find the trail. The breez e b l e w too hard1 for a m a tch t o P e mam lighte d and n o o n e amon g th e m had a lant e rn. So h e w as r e du ce d t o an o th e r plan. This se em e d s imple e n o u g h O n e roatl w as t'h e pike T h e other w a s a plain d i r t road. A h o r se, gall opi n g al ong th e latter, woul d hardl y mak e a so und. Ther e co uld b e n o mistaki n g th e manne r o f t h e m a n b ehin d t hat wea p c m. His eyes s aid 's h oot"' eve r y t i m e The o p era t o r w as n o fool. He knew t h a t i t wo u l d probabl y cost hi m his lif e to r efuse, a n d h e still h a d so m e desi r e to live The r ailroad o r t e legraph co mp a n y d id n o t p ay him for bravin g the fur y of desp e r adoes H e wou l d n o t do it. Co n se qu e ntl y he hande d up the paper. J ess e Jam e s g l u e d his eye to it. A l t h o u g h t h e w ritin g w as hastily d o ne, h e co uld e a sily m ake i t o:ut. I t wa s pate n t in t'he mind o f th e d esperado t h at the D etain No. 7. J esse J a m es a nd ga ng waiti n g a t wate r ta nk, Dutch C r eek, t o r o b t h e exp1ess h o r se m a n must h ave take n th e dirt road H e did n ot m ea n to l et an y ch a n ce e sca p e him, horwThat w as all. e v e r bu t h astil y divid e d his for ce. "Who was th is to be sent to ?" h e aske d sharp ly. F rank wa s to l ea d tho s e w h o had k e pt up t he mad The o p erato r might h a v e lie d t o an ordinary man bu t c ha se alo n g th e p i k e h e knew to wh o m h e w a s spea kin g. J esse J a m es was nO't t o be trifl e d with. "If yo u can catch foe s py, hang him up," was the T o foe o p e r ator a t th e ju nct ion p arting i njun ct i o n o f t h e l ea d er. "Whe n i s th e express clue th e r e ?" L e av e t h a t to m e "At t t onewe n y. They we r e off. A g l a n ce at t he cl oc k s h o w e d that it l ack e d h a l f an Down p ike clat t e r e d F r a nk J a m es a nd sever a l of h our of tha t t im e t h e des p e ra d o e s while t h e ro b b e r l e d t h e balan c e o f "Poes it s t o p b e r t wee n h e r e and t h e r e?" the wil d gan g over t h e d irt roa d 'No." The rai l road was not ve r y iar away "Bu t co m es to a h a l t h e re ?'' Both roads wo ul d cross i t w ithin a mil e of e a ch other, "Y. es, for wa t e r. as J esse J ames w ell k n ew , "Is the r e a ny t e l egraph station b e t wee n ?" T h e r e w-a s hardl y a foot o f l a nd in t hi s vicinity with \ "No. w hic h he w as not famil i a r. "That do Di ck, pi c k out a man and s et him He ma d e i t hi s busi n ess 1to stud y t h es e th ings in ord e r to wa t c h t'hi s fellow. Kill him if h e tri es to b e tra y tlS to be s u ccess ful i n his sch emes. ''I've gO't an old ope r a t o r ca n t ell if th e man lt paid. !. tri es t o se nd a message a b out u s." He b elieve d h e ha d t h e bes t c h a n ce o f runnin g ac ro ss ' B rin g him alon g .'' t h e t11ey d esi r ed t o tak e for it w as a lmost c erta in I n a n o th e r mi nute a man sa t in th e lit tle te l egra ph that h e had c h osen th e dirt road a t th e f m k s office with th e o perat o r. As t heir success th u s far i n over1taking him h a d b e en He h e ld a r evo l ver. of suc h a dis a p p o i nti n g charac t er, it could hardl y b e Wh e n the man at th e juncti o n dem a n de d t h e r ea s o n ex p ec t e d tha t t his wou l d change. why h e had b ee n calle d up the opera t o r w a s co mpelle d Nev e r t hel ess t h ey clas h ed on at h eadlong speed. to make so m e foolis h r e pl y The railro a d w as in s ight. He sat th e r e s ull e nl y T h e r e w a s a stat i o n a t this p o int for a wate r tank .,, M inu tes pa ssed. s t o o d near b y, a nd t rai n s stopp e d in ord e r ro su ppl y th e Frank James a nd th e r est o f th e g an g ca m e ridi n g e n gi n e w ith wate r. a l o n g t h e railroad t r ac k D p t o th e stati o n clas h e d t h e g an g P r e paration s were at once m ade for t h e work i n hand. The m et h ods of J esse J a mes wer e original i n t heir T h e t eleg raph o p erato r sat th e r e w i t h a pi ece o f way-oth er t rai n ro bber s cop i e d th e m a n d profit e d b y p a pe r in one band a:ncl hi s finger o n the k ey o f t h e inthe m. stru m ent read y t o se nd a m essage whe n h e r ece i ved a n Ge n erally some water-tank statio n was se l ected, an d ans werin g si gnal. n 1 e mb e r s o f t h e gan g got a.board. His fing e r began to work on the sounder, and th e A t a c erta in s p o t one o f t he m c r awle d int o th e e n reg-ul'ar drone started up. g i ne and mad e the e n gineer at th e m u zzJe of the re "Stop t h at m y friend and h a n d t hat mes sage over to v o lv e r bring his t r ain t o a st an d me," said a stern voice. Then th e othe r s b oa r de d it a nd t h e express ca r wa s The op erator g l anc e d up. broken 'Open-if the m essenge r r e si s t ed h e did so o n

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\"" THE JESSE JAMES STORIESa 9 peril o f his life, for these desperate men wou ld not h esi ta te at s u c h a trifle. Another favor ite m et hod was to hold t'he train at s uch a place. This was to be the plan o n this ni ght, for t he y were out in numbers sufficiently strong to accomplish any s u ch job. l t \ra s now time ior the expr ess lo r e a c h th e junc tion, and J es s c James hung about the telegraph office as though xpecting something. Presently th e operator r eceive d a message. \\'ho \\as that fro m?., aske:d the outlaw. "Operator at the j unction." ''\Ii/hat did say?'' .. Smrthwest ern exi )res :> from SL Louis passed there at one t we nty-three-three minutes late.'' "Jack Joes h e tell the truth?" t o the m a n in the operator's den. "Yes. 'That's good. Now, you ca n do u s n o more harm. J ack. come out; we may need you. R emembe r, man, some o n e w ill be a r ou nd ail the time, so yo u d bet ter keep your own co un se l un ti l the j ob's done." Wit h that til ev withd r ew. The r e \\'as just twenty m inu tes in which to arrange ma tte r s so that the j ob cou ld be put through without trouble. Hardly had they b ee n gon e three minll't es b efo r e the operator s t arted listened eagerl y, put his l hand on t h e key. and presently was engrossed with the conversation h e was carry ing o n with a man perched in the top of a t e legraph pole some three miles o r more up the lin e and who must b e an o ld telegraph operator, judging from th e fac t that he ca rried a lin e repairer' s instruments with him, and \\'as :ibl e to transmit a message from any point. This is what he picked up: 'Ts \'Ou r office clear of those men?" 'Yo-u m ean J esse James' gang-yes. They are out side somewher e getting ready. \i\Tho are you?" "The man who gave yon the m essage, and then rode up the track." "\i\There are yon ? .. Perched on -a pol e a bout three miles nor'1:h." \Varn the train." ''That's \\'hat I'm here for Ca n it get pa s t yonr place at f ull speed ... 'Yes." 'What oi the sw it c h ? ' "H it' s turned. a r ed lig h t will \\'arn you. A w hit e lighl m eans safety ." Good J b ea r th e trai n coming. That was all. Lt ,;urel y was eniou g h. T h e ope rator by back in h i s chair again, appalled when he s aw a h ea d thrus t in Fortnn atelv it did not belono to the man who kn ew hO\\' to t ake a message. Who \YaS y o u talking to?" d emanded Dick. ''Th e fell ow at t h e juncti o n asked me if I h ad a bot tl e 1Yith me. i o r h e was su r e l was off. I told him to mind his ow n bnsiness.'' "Was that all?" "Yes." Lidd ell glared at him as though suspicious, buf he could n o t see any way in which their plans might be di vnlged, s inc e the express had passe d the junction, and there was no t elegraph sfati o n betwee n that place a n d the water-tank. So h e slunk away. All was now ready f o r the final scene. \Vhether success would come t o them or n o t depended muc h o n lu c k. Their horses were hidde n n ea r by, so that as soon as the job had b ee n made compl e t e they could leap upon the backs of the animals and fly. Every precaution wa s take n b eca ns e it meant a se ri o u s piece o f bu s in ess to be captured. A n i g n ominous death mi ght fo llow Their past was w e ll known Many crimes t hat had b ee n committee! by other parties wer e laid at their door, as is customary in such cases. It wa s n early time for t h e train. The lost th1:ee minutes might have been made up. and again i t might not; that was a s mall matter, at any rate, t o the wa itin g robbers. What they v:ere most int e r ested in was the fact o f th e express s t opping. All the information Jesse James had been able to gathe r had been t o the effec t that it was a regular bus in ess for the train to halt for a supply of water at this pl ace. U nle ss fortune pl aye d the m a trick, i t r eally looked a s tho u g h the game must be wo rking directl y into their hands. Ears wer e strained to catch the far-away rumble; but t h e breeze was blowing in the wrong direction for this. Finall y one of th e men droppe d down beside the track and plac e d his ear on a rail. S ound trave ls in this way much b etter than throug h the air, and one may catch the rumble o f a train when the same person is unable to hear the slightest noise e rect. S he's coming!" h e announced. This caused the others t o adopt the same system of tactics and they were successful, too. Yes, the train was coming. S everal mil es still la y between but this do es n o t amount to much to a fast train, and with ea c h minute the flyer wo uld b e clo se r. Jesse James w': b egan to pla ce hi s m e n. Two were sU: .,:nee! just at th e water-tank, ready t o l e ap upon t he e n gi n e a s soon as it came to a stand, and control matte rs. O thers w e r e scattere d along so as to command th e balance o f the train. A s the expres s car was t h e object of thei r special i n terest, Jesse Jam es took charge of the four who had b ee n se l ec t ed for this part of the business. All was now r ea dy T h e train had annihilated di stance, and her rumble conlcl be h eard without any particular effo rt. T h e light in front o f the iron horse loomed up far along th e track. A t first it looked like a sta. r of the fir s t magnitude, miles away, for the track was stra ight.

PAGE 11

-...,. 10 THE J E SSE J AMES STORIES. "She's s topped !" "Hang the luck! ll :s true." '"\iVhat"s wrong?"' The train-robbers were surprised and lispleased at this unexpected event. They endeavored to conceive some reason why_ it should take place, and stood there in knots, look11;ig down the track. J csse James hurried over to the
PAGE 12

It wo uld have b ee n next to imp ossib l e to ha ve found a madd e r set of me n. They were furi o u s. \i\Then th e train w hirled by t he y wer e ab solute l y speechless, but once it was gone, and th e r eel lanterns on the -rear stared them in the face like a pair of e vil eyes, a vo ll ey of curses arose. It was te 1rrible to hear. Some one mas t hav e b etr.aye d t'hem. Inst in c tiv e l y their th o ugh ts ffew to the operator. Did he have a hand in it ? J esse J a m es sp ran g in the dire ction o f the small h o use, whil e his men trooped after, under the impression that something int eres tin g was about to take place there. They would h ave en j oye d h elping to sbring th e agent up to one of the p o l es in order to make him tell the exact truth. When they reac hed the station they found it devoid of human occupa ncy. The agent had fled. He mu st have g u esse d what was coming, and made a dead break through the open windmv. The fie r ce m en c rowded in. How th ey g lar ed around. J esse James bent over' t h e o p erator's desk-his eye had b een caught by a pape r. A d ozen wo rd s had been hasti l y sc r aw l e d upon itthe ink was not yet dry. He r ead : JESSE JAMES :-Not my d o ing-th e man w h o gave r.:;;:. me ssa ge mnst have s topp ed train."' The truth burst upon him. H e was like a baffled tiger in hi s fury. As the r e was n o one at hand upon whom h e could vent this feeling, i t would hav e to be bottled up for future u se. He certai nl y owed th e d etec tive o n e. \ i\fhat h e had hit upo n was really th e trut h. and th e detective, w h o had play e d the part o f a p eddler, was o n the expr e s train as i t thunde re d by the water-tank sta-t ion. \ H e had signale d the train after his bri e f talk with t h e ope rator, a nd explained the situation to the conductor. This worthy, a n x i o u s to save hi s train fro m the hands of the robbers, r ea dil y a.greed to run past at fulJ s peed. It \\ as clone. They bad a glimpse of th e J ames gang as the train wen t by, and this wa s pirno f enough t h at th e detective had to l d the trll'th At th e next station b e l ow h e alighted The did not know what a narrow escape they Incl exper-iencecl. No r was t h e detect i ve's work clone H e had come t o this r-egion for a purpose, but that was not ye t accomplished . The saving of the trai n was but a m e r e in c ident, and until it came h e had not the l east idea con cerning it. At this stati o n he sent a telegram. It was briefly w o rded, but meant much to the man rec eiving it. T his was better than fires upon the tops of the mountains, one o f the signa l s arranged in order to bring about 1 1 th e advance of the p osse that w a s to hunt the James gang. It was silent, and gave no wa rni ng. As c hance would h ave it the operator at t his station was a friend of J esse James T n t h e message h e r ead clang e r to the Missouri out la\.\", and having long desired to do him a favor h e now saw the opp ortunity He knew where l ive d those who would get a message to t h e outlaw wit h littl e delay The detectiv e had not been gone from his office t e n minutes befo re the man slapped his thigh and d eclare d: "I'll do it sure pop. S uch a move wilJ square our old account that I ve n e ver for g o'tten. Yes, I'll do it." He hurrie dl y wrote s o m et hing. Then, as n o trains were clue i o r sever al hours, he f e lt that he could desert his post instead of taking his usual nap. Into the night h e plunged. Brought up in thi s region, the man knew every 'turn o f t h e road. He had been moving on for about half an hour, and the darkness seemed to grow blacker inst ea d of lighter, when h e heard a sound that was so singular he had to stop and listen. This was no thing more nor l ess tha n the tread of a troop of horsemen. The cavalc ad e apprn achecl. He hie! h i mself in 1:he bushes, believing these w e r e th e officers for whom the d etec tive had wired They must ha ve made good time to r eac h the scen e of action so soon : The ope rator crouched low, not caring to be di scovered and se arched, for the m essage on his person would incriminate him. 1\ ow they we re ab r e ast of him There was h eard no laughing; these men were not in t h e humor for that. One calle d o u.t just t h e n : "That's Bigelow's fire-signal, J esse. I could swear it mean s cbnger." "Danger b e hanged," g1'owled another voice. The operato r recognized it. "Is J esse James the re?" h e sang out. The cavalcade drew up "Who spo ke?" "I. The man b roke out fr o m th e bushes and appeare d o n the sce ne. 'vVbere 's Tesse?" "Here. \Vho the deuce are you?" "Strike a light, man; yo u 'll knO\v me th en." The oulla w, bending forward in his saddle, drew out a match and struck it the trees shad ing him fr o m the wine\. One glance he too k at the man's face. "It's you, J ob n, i s it ?" "Yes.'' The operq to r thrust into his han cl the paper h e had pre pared in case h e was compelled t o se nd the warning al o n g. Jesse James was able t o read its contents at a single glance. H e n o great su!"prisc. 'I ex pe cted as much. Anyhow, I'll r e m ember it of you, J ohn."

PAGE 13

I THE JESSE JAMES STORIES .. The op e ralo;turned and ma de his way ba ck to the sta as rapicll.' as h e couid \iVhen the outla11 leader found himself alone w ith his m en he satisfi e d their desire to kn o w what was in the wind Thev soon found ou t. that was a sig nal fire, said one. "i'\ o doubt o f it; th e ene m y is advancing." "Look-isn "t that a nother?" They h ad l e ft the s h e l ter of the trees, and were m a positi o n to sca n the mountains. The fire v v hich had been already sighted was to the east. This new lig h t s h o n e in th e south "You"re right; J e d Harkins sme lls clang e r." "Perhaips he"s see n the other fire." "He has orders to light up o nly when he sees the dange,r him self It's 1evi dent to m e that this is part o f a big at t e mpt t o corner us. E n emies are drawing in from every siclic." His m e n uttered excla mations o f a l arm :-.1any of the m believ e d the tim e would come when Jesse James' star would no l onger b e in the ascendant and a force b e s ent a igain s t him that would sure l y ove r co me t he b o ld bandit. It beg;an to l ook as thou g h that tim e was n ow about to dawn. \i\That s hall we do?" He seemed perfectly cool. In th e first pla ce, he had rro fear o f the consequ e nc es, and, again, would not hav e shown it before his m e n eve n if he h ad. "W e must separate." "Yes." "Into two or m o r e parties. I fanc y you care to go it a!One; strik e out now." "I reckon I will-." "Ver y good, Ben. You know th e o ld signal to get to ; e ther again when this blows over." ''I'll be there, cap t a in." He galloped away in the darkness, to follow out so me scheme of his own. Perhaps he had the pipes laid for ju s t s uch an occas i o n a s this, a n d knew how to escape. No one else followed his example. They had a desire to k eep together. Men differ under such circumstances, some preferring to seek saf e t y alone, while others feel better to b e in com pany. J esse J ames quickly divided his force. One part he t oo k under hi s own guidance, while one whom the y trusted was to look after the other. Good-bys were said. It was uncertain whether they would ever come to gethe r again. Brighte r grew the s ignal frres, and it was evid ent that thei r sent ries meant th eir warning t o be so broad that it could not be mistaken. The train rnbbers owed them much. They might hav:e been take n unawares orily for th e vigilance of the se men. When the two parties had separated, J esse James led hi s men toward the west. As yet there was no signal dire in rt:hat direction to m dicat e that enemies were there. / i ) There was n o positive indicat i on o f security They rnight run i nto a trap a t any minute. If i t came t o t ha t it meant fight, and! the y were as abl e t o do that as any men; it must be a bold pos se that could stop thi s gan g. There were four others with Jesse J ames when h e brok e company, a nd eac h squad sought safety in a diffe r ent cli rectio:1 when t h ey r eache d th e c r oss-ro ads, one goin g so uth, the ot h e r w est We' re in for a hard ride, b oys,' sa id the l eade r, as he rod e at th e ir head. "Here's one that d on't carie a picayune, if the h osses are in fair condit i on." The ot h ers echoed the f ellow's b old cry, and the horses w ere a.gain p u t in m otion Thev had taken a roundabout course but now hea ded for m ountains CHAPTER VI. THE DANCE A'f 'l'H.8 INN. In the meantime, Silas Cox-that was the d e tective pecldle r 's n ame-had quickly gathered hi s posse, who were re ad y and awaiting his orders. Befo r e t he nig-ht was ove r they were hot on the trail of th e train robbers. Acting under the o rd ers of th e ir chief, they w ere con stantly o n the lool.;;ou t for an amb u sh. It was a wild c ha se. T hey passed over sever al farms, and, fearful lest the fu gitives might h ave doubl ed o n t h eir trail in order to de ceive th ose w h o foll o w ed, th e m e n searc hed each barn and h_aystack, a lso question ing thos e with whom they cam e 111 contact. Then the chase kept up all night a nd far in to the next clay, the pos e l e arning the the outlaws had taken from th e farmers they pa ssed A n other night had come T h e wind st ill blew in gust s The detec tiv e and hi s posse fo r a couple of hours had lain in the wo ods hi ding. On th e r o ad th e 11 h a d m a naged t o p i ck up e nouoh to eat from o utl y in g farmh o u ses and s uch places to met with. All w e r e weary and utterl y fagged o ut. Whe n therefore, ab o ut fou r o 'cl oc k in the afternoon the guide had informed th em that they w e r e near the place where he b elieved J esse James and hi confede r ates would stop, and that n oth i n g could b e clone un til night had se t its sea l u po n the earth th e m en, o n e and a ll, w elcomed th e pleasing intelligence, and, dropping diowi;i, w e nt to sleep How sweet that sleep was! Natur e was c o mpletely tired out, and the few h ours did much to build h e r up again. They s l ept lik e logs. Silas Cox was t h e flrst to awaken. All was da rk ness arou nd him. He cou ld h ear the w ind s lashing through the t ops of the trees whi c h s i g h ed and moaned before the furious Uast. Down un de rn eat h the wind hardl y came C ox managed to light his lantern. I'

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t THE JESSE JAMES STORBES. Then he looked around. when the detective consulted a little silver watch he carried, he found that the time they had set was near at hand. They must be moving. .One by one .they were aroused. How they hated t o wake up; but the necessity was im perative, and, acting under such a man as Silas Cox, they dared not disobey order So the whole party was finally gotten into motion and started off. Throug h the darkness they went. The pace was slow As th ose t he y sought were not far away, it was just as well that they use a certain amount of cauti o n in making their ad nnce. Sudck: nl y Cox pausecl 1 He craned his n ec k as though list ening. "vVhat is that no i se? he a sked. The others lis tened. "Sounds t o m e like a cracked violin," said Cox. "That's it," said anot her. "Caiptain, you've struck it. That's a dancin' tune, and some one has got the fiddle in his hands. It means a dance." Then Je 3e James won t be there. "vVon't eh? That's jus t what he hankers after, a little excitement. Besides. thes e people are all his friend s, and wouldn't betray him." "\i\Tell, we'll adv"ance again-" Again the posse was on the move. The men understoo d something of the situation, and th a t they w ere about to engage in a rather peculiar busi ness. Anxious to mak e an end of the matter, .they were r ead, to attempt any rno v ement so long a s it was ap provedby their l ea d e r, in whom they pla ced the utmost con.ficlence. The mu ic increased in volume. There was also carried to their ears the sound of laughter, in girlish v o i ces G"ndoubtedly a m erry-m aking was in progress at old vVint erbottom's place, for such it was called, his crack ed vio lin had be en brought into play in order to keep tim e to the light flying fe e t. Silas Cox hardly knew whethi;r i to be pleased or not at this occurrence. It might serve as a blind to mas k their advance, and in this ,,;iv h e made available. He c ou ld n o t see that it w o uld harm them in any par-ticular way. Prese n tly t h e light shone through t )1e trees The tavern was in sight. A halt was called "\!Vait here, m e n. Lie low and no noise." He then went off to -reconnoitre. The h ouse wa s not far away. It was merely a cabin, a strange place, such as may only be seen in the backw oocl s of the States bordering the :r..fississippi. Here accommodations were supposed to be had for man and b east but the latter was certain to fare little better than the former, so far as provender might be c oncerned Old \i\ T int er b o ttorn was a quaint character, and so wedd>ecl to his vi ol in that whenever he had anv tr.avelers at his inn they were apt to suffer excruciating: tortu-re from hearinothe n eve r-o easing variaitions o f the "Arkansaw Traveler." S oo n the detective would look in upon the scene A dozen and a half young fellows and their best girls had come to the tavern to have a country ball. All so rts of vehicles could be seen outside, the horses ti e d t o the fence and posts S ome had come on horseback, the favorite method of traveling in certain purtion s of Missouri as we ll as in K entucky The scene was inspiring. Even the stern minion of th e law was influenced bv the music fro m the c ra oked fiddl e, and smi l ed to see the evolutions of the young country cLancers. To them g race was an unknown quantity, at least among the swai n s, who seemed to believe that the more nois e they made the better they were doing their whole duty Then Sila s Cox remembered what he had come for, and hi s eyes assumed a lo ok of business. Usin g extre me care, h e managed to get to a point \\" h ere a b ette r view could be had At the ame time he was scree n ed by the shadow of the wail s The strai ns of "Oki Dan Tucker" floated out. At times the sound of the fiddle became a mere thread, such was th e loud stamping of feet and the voices of the energetic dancers. They were happy. Laughter floate d on the air. At the sa me time, rio doubt, there we1e the usual li ttle jeal ousies and heart-lburnings among those who appeared so gay. Human nature is much the same the wicl1 e world over: custom changes th e surface, but in the heart we have th e same passions and loves that the ancients suffered. Silas Cox pro j ected his head a trifle beyond the si d e of the window. The scene was before him. His ey es, of course, surveyed it with but one object in view. This was to discover the outlaws. Three o f them he had already is, he was rea so n a bly sure of his men, judging from their actions. vVhere were the others? J esse Jam es and Frank were missing. Co u lei they be dancing? He discovered a couple of young fellows serving as wall flowers, who did not appear to be over-happy, and this gave him his cue. Their _partners had b ee n monopolized by those who were not in the original programme. Thus insipirecl, > Cox b egan to watch the dancers closely as they marched by, to the inspiring strains o f "Old Dan Tucker," and success greeted h im. First he found Frank James. His brother was last of all. The detective smiled, and 1 there was a dea l of meaning to that look. It was not the first time the James boys had been caught in a trap.

PAGE 15

T H E JESS E JAM ES STORIES. Vp to the present, however, they had always managed to escape from such holes, and it was p ossible they might do so again. Silas Cox thought he had a good thing, but he was: not dead sure. B c knew the old proverb about the "slip between the cup and the liJ?. The fun had become even more furio u s in the dance hall oi the tav e rn. vVhoever it was wieldirng the b ow, he played as though the witches that chased Tam O'Shanter across the bridge were after him. The feet of the dancers seemed never to tire, and quite a cloud of dust gradually arose du ring t h e pr.ogress of each dance. i Suddenly a man staggered into the room, and looked him. Cox thought he had seen him before somewhere, but did no t know what the circumstances were under which they had met. Nevertheless he was interested. He watched the other closely. when the man had flung that wild glance all around him, his gaze seemed to become glued upon the figure of J esse James, who lounged in o ne come\" with hi s feet crossed, picking his teeth, and watching the mad evolutions of the country dancers imitating the negro hoedown. \ i\fith a caution, bon1 of instinct, he had seated himself out of range of any of the windows. As straight as he could make his way the vanced toward the outlaw. Several times he encountered the dancers, and gave them a savage push aside. Justice overtook him. The fat couple, spreading themselves in great glee before the young people, bore down upon them like an avalanche. His arm attempted to ward off the threatened col lision, but in vain. They overwhelmed him. There \\"as a oras h that made the timbers of the floor creak, followed by shrieks of laughter. It was only by extreme good luck that the stranger was not mashed as flat as a pancake under the ponderous bodie s. He managed to fall between, so that they came down on either side. Quick to r ecog nize his chances for escape, the man crawled out from under them. He staggered, gasping for breath, and glanced around at -the merry-makers. \ i \That was fun in their eyes was serious business with him J esse James no longer maintained that easy and in different atti tude. He sprang into life and action, leaping forward and clutching t'he newcomer "Dix, where in the fiend's name d id you come from,and what brings you h e re?" The man, by an effort, shook off his fatigue. "Captain, you have been
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THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 15 It was foll.v to offer them liberty \\'hile he was doomed -they would sink or swim in the same boat with him. Of course the detective's agent had an object in all this thing. He wall'ted to keep th e attention of th e outlaws di Pectecl t owa rd tJie front of the h ous.e until OX and his five men could enter the r ear. The rapid firing of r evolvers, flashing in the darkn ess, would be a signal for t hose outside to rush in and j oin the fray, passing through doors or windows, it ma ttered not wh ich so long as they managed to effect an e ntr a nc e "Those wh. o refuse to surrender can expect no quar ter. \Ve will soon rus1h in and kill eve r y man who r esists,'' contin u ed the office r. 'Rush on, then. 'v\"ere ready for you," came the fie rce respon se Meanwhile Cox and his five men, s kirtin g the si d e of th e inn, came to a door in the rear. Enter ing, t h ey found themselvc; in t h e kitche n. where a fat negre s was engaged in making coffee for t'he
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\f, t I THE JESSE JAMES STOR!ES. Retiring from the room, he applied a ma:tch, and speedily had the tlhing arranged. Then he returned. A whispered order to his lieutenant, which was to be passed on, t h en all was r_eady. Silas Cox let his feet pass through the opening, clutched tihe rope, hung suspended in mid-air a few seconds, and then landed gently on the floor below. Here he crouched, revolver in hand, awaitin-g the coming of his companions. They soon joined him. One by one they came down the rope. lt might be they came to tlheir death, but not a man of them held hack, nor was the least sign of hesitation seen. Three, iour, five-all were down. The supreme moment was near at hand. Co x had not been idle wh11e waiting for the men to reach his side. He could not use hi s eyes because of the intense darkness, b.ut this did not prevent him from making a good u se of his ears. In this \Y:ty he learned the lay of the land, vhere back there. "Follow me." vVitlh these words the detective was through the dooa-, la;ntern in one :hand and revolver in the other; he presented a plain mark for any one who might be hidden beyond; but in hi s eagerness and enthusiasm Silas Cox did not s top to think of that. vvhen h e had passed beyond the door he stumbled over a human figure that was sprawling out in l h is way. Only w.ith a g r ea t effort did the detective keep from measuring his length on the floor. This would have been quite a disaster under the circumstances, fOJ. 'he carried the only means of light with Qrim. Quickly r ecovering himself, he clapped his revolve r at the head of the man. Then, as he held his lantern at the fellow's head, he discovered tlhat it was t'he landlord. "vVhat a r e you after?"' h e demanded. ''I was afraid the house might go-burn," stammered the fellow. "Well?" "I have a little money hidden away-a very small amount, but it is my all, and I woul d like to save it." "That's all right, but I hardly imagine anything will happen to your 1house. Hold on, you a-re just tlhe man I want to see." "'Eh?" "The men have l eft t h e danceroorn by this doorwhere will it take them?" 'Out of doors." "I don't think they've gone there-my men have the U1ouse well surr m m decl, and we've !heard no alarm. \.Vhere else can they go?"' "Well, by passing through that door yonder the cellar lies before them." 'We'll seaich the rest of the h o use first." .,< r Cox was not discouraged. It took more disappointmen' ts than this to bring down !his enti husi:ism. From room to room they flew The o nly livi n g so ul they cl iscovered wa s the terrified fiddler, who had concealed himseli underneath a b e d in a roo rn. H e was ignominious l y hauled out, un'der the impression that it was one of the others; but when t'h e mistake was t h ey had no use for the fellow. Thus the whole inn waS. peedily searched, and no traces of the Jive m e n discovered. It began to look as a certainty that they mus t 'have sought refuge in the cellar. The door was cautiously opened. To go down bearing that light would be to court death instantly. and Silas Cox would allow none of his men to attempt it any more than h e would try the same thing himself Another lantern was found.

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THE JESSE JAMES 11 Lighting this, he tied a piece of cord to it, and t'hus lower ed away. If the outlaws were in the cellar they would speedily manif est their presence, for to have a light among them wa s about the last thing they could care to suffer. l o r was t'hi s manifestation lon g xpectecl the lantern to be l e t a lone un l ess the cellar was empty, and thi'S would have been a source of disappointment to him. The question 1\ hich arose now was quite a serious one to dispose 'Of. Bow were they to get at th e men ? It was all very well tu think of makin g a dash upon their stronghold. P erhaps they might be l aid o u t be fore the who l e po sse was k illed, but one could find a poor satisfacti o n in that. Glory is \Yell enough in its way, but it does a man little good after h e is dead. Cox prefeTr c d going about his 1 vork in another way. So l ong as the encl he had in view was accomplished, it m attered little with regard to the m ea n s to be em ploy ed. He w e nt outside to give his men a n idea regarding th e situation. Runninaacross 'vVinterbottom again he had the fat landlord tell him all was to know about the celiar, the location of it s win dows, and such small things that "ere likely to prove valuable. Then he posted men at the several small win dows, giv ing them particnlar orders 1\hat to do in case the outlaws tri ed to l e ave th e ir hiding-place. All 1ras noiw readv. If th e d etective had a n y game in view he could ope n it up He w ent l o the kitchen. There was a good fire in the ranl!e Taking out a b o ttle he poured so0me liqui d on a m11n ber of pieces o i rag. Eac11 of these he bound up 1\'ith so me cotton battirw upon which he had previously poured a little from a can. Thus he had half a d o zen fireballs a .rranged, and once lig'.1tecl they could hardly be extingui heel; at least they w oul d smould e r, an d smoke, which was just what he wanted. The liquid \YOUld create a gas that 11hile not inflam mable, would soon reduce a human being to a state o f coma, when h e wo.ulcl not rai se a h a n d to help hims e lf. This was game. If the men below co uld outwit him they would be more shrewd that he gave th e m credi t and under such circumstances another plan would ha ve t o be tried ll was read v. One of his m.e n stood at the door. Silas drew a match, ignited it, and, as the bundle o f cotton blazed up, with a dexterous cast it was sent be low. Instantly a commotion arose The outlaws recognized the fact, as they believed that they were about to b e burned o ut. A rush wa s made. Several feet trampled on the blazing cotton and in a m o m ent the fiire went out. T t was not utterly extingui shed, and in just the con dition to throw off the h e avy gas that would soon lay men out. .Ha r dly had the outlaws succeeded in accompl i shing tlu s f eat, than the door above opened, and a second fireball came saili n g down upon them, its passaa-e fan-ning th e flam es furious l v "' Again they had to juinp upon the blazing ball of cott o n and trample t h e fire to d eath. More gas escaped It began to make i tself felt. Silas Cox knew just what the men would do when the next ball was thrm.vn. He lighted it above, partly trample d it so that t'he fire was p u t out, and hurled the smoking mass clown the cellar-steps. Althotia-h no light was shown, a shot accompanied the action. The bullet buried itself in the door, close to the h ead of th e d etec tive. He made up his mind to be n10>re careful in all futme casts, f o r the prospect of a bu!let in his brain was not very alluring. Three of the gasballs had now been thrown z,nd as many r emained Cox lighted another. Then the door was gently opened. Slight though the noise was, it must ha ve reached the ea:-s of th'Ose b elow for se veral shots were fired, and but for the precautions they had taken, some o n e above must have b ee n injured. The detective chuckled. It looked as though they were a bout to accomplish their work. By th e time all the balls had been dropped into the cellar, th e gas would be overpowering. Trne, the outraws might seek r elief by smashing the small windows, but his men outside we re ready to clap boar.el s these, and thus prevent the pure air from p assmg 111. Listen! '; h e said The sound o f choking coughs came from beyond the

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t y 1 8 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES door. That terrib le, penetrating gas was getting in its fine wo'tk. Surely i t could not take long now before they wo uld b e reduced to a state of in se n s i b ility. The n their capture would be easy. Two more balls remained. They must go after others without d e lay. He took one up He struck the match. The oi l blazed up \ i\fhen it had burne d a minute o r so, anc l r eac hed the prope point, Cox put his foo t d ow n and crushed the blaze. Then the smouldering proces s b egan ''Open! The man who h ad charge of th e door gave it a swing backward. He b elieved t he action \\"Ould b e greete d b y a volley from b e l ow, as the desperate m e n r ealized that another step v;as to b e taken i n t hei r case, and which wou ld bring the m n ea rer the encl I t was n o t the ir inte n tio n t o d i e lik e rats in a trap without some so r t of effort at esc a pe. Cox sw un g tlt e smouldering fireball bac k and launche d it into space. It was h is int e nti o n o f c ourse ta dPOp it down t o the 'bottom oi the stairs, w h e r e it wo uld accomplisbi i ts work. Som ething occurred to prevent t hi s. The smoking ball left hi s hand a ll ri ght, but ere it h ad gone three f eet it met an obstruction. This v vas nothing m ore nor l ess than the fac e of a man. H e stood o n the stai r s near the top. When t h e ball struck him h e gave a c r y and d:ishecl it asid e with hi s hand. "Look out!" cri ed Cox. His r eady mind se i zed upon the situation in a minute, an d h e realized what was about to happe n Indeed, he eve n made a r each for the do o r, but it h ad unfortunatel y b ee n thrown back so far that he was unable to girasp it. But for thi s fact h e niight h ave s l ammed it shut, and still k ep t th e outlaws b e l ow. The cras h came. They burst upo n him lik e a thunderbolt, the whol e fiv e rushing in a body from the terribl e atmosphere of the cellar. Life depended on it. Silas Cox, by hi s movement in trying to close the door, pla ced him self directly in thei r way. I t was lik e gettin g in the pat h of a stampecling mule train where the animals, mad wit h terror, would trample any one to d eath. The detective was lrnocked down in a trice, and the fiv e desperadoes ru s h ed over him with the fury o f a young cyclone. CHAPTER IX. 'THE RIVER CHASE. This m ovement on the part of the train robbers was so sudden and unexpe c ted that tho se who htmted them s o keenly were not prepared to ineet it. As a co nsequence, the outlaws ri.lshed over and past them The darkness was inte nse. It preven ted them from seein g anything, and all had t o b e clone b y guesswork. Silas Cox had b ee n k noc ked clown and r ece i ve d quite a bruise on his head from a boot coming in rough contact with it. This stunned him i o r just about five seconds, and during that time the escaping men had made mighty good tim e o ut of the house. They knew where they were going-a light outsid e gave t h e m some idea whe r e the door was. One man missed it, but seeing a w indow h e made a leap and passed through it bo dily, the crash of splin t e r e d g la ss sounding appalling o n the night air . ''Look o ut, men, there they come," shouted the det ective, scrambling to his feet. It was the best b e co ul d clo. In the first round h e had be e n d e f eated, but that did not mean e v e r ything His c r y would put the m e n outside o n the al e rt, and b y good luck the y mightt s ucceed in winging some of the escaping desperadoes. ' A fter them!'" He followed the first cry with thi s second one, m eant .or those near h im. They had been in a m eas tir e paralyze d by the sudden ru s h oJ t he outlaws. The loud words o f their l ea der recalled th eir scattered senses, ;111cl brought them to time. Away th ey went, helters k e lt er. At that ve r y moment th e r e arose outside a tremend-ous cliii. Men s h outed Pistols rang o ut. It seemed as though b e dlam had broke n lo ose. Silas Cox h el d h is breath in suspense as he rushed fr.o m t h e h o u s e A lal1'tern hung from the branch of a free was the onl y means o f illl1mination but it answered all purposes v e r y well. T1he action had bee n sharp and d ecisive Shot answe red shot. It was all .ov e r w h e n the d etect iv e and his m e n dashed out of the h o use. "How many, Sam?" h e shol1ted. "Three clown, s ir! "Good!" "You mean b ad, sir." "Eh?" "It means three of o ur m e n clow n.'' "And none of t hese rascals?" I m afraid not. One fell but got up again and ran off. I l e t him have it again, and h e dropped a second time, but I think h e got away." W e' ve b ee n l e ft. What's that noise?" "Some oi the m e n tried to follow them." "Useless in the dark. Get 1a1ore lantern s : The landlord, pl ease d to find that his inn had com e thr ough the fracas without being set o n fir e, hunte d up several lanterns, whic h we r e lighted. The n a searth was made.

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THE JESS E JAMES STORI E S o In the spot where the detective had seen the outlaw drop the second time they found blood. No one was in sight, however. A trail of blood spots led from the place, and along this they went. Preset1'tly they came to the other footprints, showing that the man had joined his comrades, who were assisting him along. Hoping to overtake them, now that they wer e delayed J by a wounded man, Cox and his human bloodhounds hurried al01;1g the trail. It was a novel situation. The three lanterns flashed among t11e trees like giant fire"fiies. Darkness surrounded them as with a pall. They knew the enemy was in front, and they endeavored, as best they could, to overtake them. Every man carried his revolver ready for instant execution. These were not schoolboys or unarmed men whom the y chased, but clcspe1-adoes, who had killed many on the ir way, and who were ready to sell their liv es dearly_ "T11ey h ead f.or t'he ri veT," exclaimed ,one of the men, suddenfv. "Are there boats here?" "Yes. a number." "I can guess t h e ir object." The det ectives scanned the arch overhead. If the clouds remained they would have a dark night, and the chances or the fugitives escaping might be considered fair. The riv er was close by. lt was easy to comprehend why Jesse James and his men bad decided to take the water. Tn the first place, it leaves no trail. Then again, having a wounded man in their charge, there was no easier way of taking care of him than wit h a boat. Sure enough, the trail led them direct t o the water's edge. and here they found where a boat had been tied UP It was gone. Look! I can see the ftash of an o.ar !" "Yes. Now it i s gone. Fire in that direction," Half a-cl'ozen shots rang out. From cl0\'.'11 the little river a derisive laugh came floa t ing to tell them lmw futile had been their efforts to wing the e n enw. Can vve get a boat?"' dem:rnded Cox. '"Plenty just below.'' "Then lead us to them, man." The party who had spoken was only too willing to do this. They found that he had spoken the truth, for quite a number of boats we r e secured t o a clock. A man ran out of a house. "Here, let them boats be alone, you fellers," he called. Cox had g i v e n his men quick orders to untie three of the crait. \Ne are a sheriff's posse, chasing Jesse James and his gang. You will be paid for any damage clone. Now wh ere are the oars?" 'You can "t have 'em." \ Vhere are the o
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, r 20 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. crowd, to jud.;'e from tl:e way in wbch he poure d the shot in. From One b oat to anothe r h e directed his fire indis criminatelv. Someti1{1es the bullets sang overhead in the queerest wa y imaginable. Again they splashed in the water. Now and then a dull thud told that a bull et had struck a beat, or, worse sti ll. the b o d y of a man. G;oans arose, although these w.ere he mically sup pressed, as a general rule. "Fire o n 'cm!" r oared Cox The three m en in the bows of the 1)ursuin g boats at once opene d o n the o n e object ahead. Al.though their fire was concentrated on that one point, it did n o t see m to be nearly as effective as that which the wou nded outlaw sent b ack at th em. "Our b oat's .filling," shou ted one man. "Stnff a hand kerch i ef in the hole," called Cox. The second boat had run on a snag and stuck. Her oarsmen were frantically encle .avoring to pull the craft over, at immin ent ri s k of sp ill,ing them selves into the river. As for Cox s own boat, o n e of th e men h ad been plac ed :ors da combat by a bulJ.e t. and, as this made thin gs unev e n the craft ya wed from side to side. In sp it e o f the manv bullets se11t after Jes se James and his men, no perceptible damage had b een wrought. If any of them hac.1 been wOLmclecl, they heroically stuck to p osts the bo ot w a s on the ot her leg. The foremost b oat was drawing ahead., and at a rate that promised to soon take it b eyon d the range )f the lanterns. Cox was d esoe rate. He had empt-ied his r evo lver without making any ap preciable effect on the o utlaws. Something else must be clo1.1e. Tui-ning, he climbed into the seat of the wounded man, who la y in the bottom o f the boat. The11 he grnsped the useless oar. When his power \ V as brought into play, he managed to send the boat on as before. Again they gain ed. The other two boats had fallen behind, one b eing still stranded on a snag. It l ay with Cox and his four men wh ethe r thev could d o anyth in g, and a very short time would t ell th e story in this case CHAPTER X STANNARD GRANGE. The man' in the l eading boat must have reloaded his weapons, at l east to a certain ex,tent, during the brief in terim for he was ready to do busine s s again. Once more the bullets began to skip along the surface of the water. One struck the oar Cox worked1 Another plowed a ridge across the side of his head, burnin1 g like fire. Whoever the marksman might be, he certainly knew how to handle his firearms to a deci ded advantage. Although Cox and his men gained, it was very sl o wly, and only one thing appeared to give the detective en oouragement. This was the fact that presently the man's firearms 1 would be empty. Dy that time they would be close upon the pursued b oat, and would be able to turn aside so that v.ollev after vo!Jiey might be poured into the midst of the OUtt!
PAGE 22

THE JESSE JJ\MES STORHES. 2 1 hough what their destination was could only be uess ecl at. ""What have we aheacl 1 of us:"' ask ;ed the detective ; hen the stream narrowing brought the three boats lose t oget her. ''There's a village near by, and o n this side some outing h ouses and grounds," replied the man in the neares t 021 t who s e po s iti o n was in the bow. "Good. I'm sure they'll leave the river soo n. Keep our eyes open, and report anythincr. that looks suspi ous." "All right. captain." The curren t was swift jus t h e re, and the three b o a t s 1ade remarkably good time as they swept a long in their assage. I H ae\ a'ny o n e b ee n on the shore 1they must have witessecl a queer s ight. One not familiar wi t h the circumstances might b e lieve t wa s a race by lantern light, with all the competitors ven. T o avoid accid 1 ent a sharp look out had t o b e k ept, but he one occas i o n whan a boat was snagge d proved t o be he only accident. A light appeared a head. It mu s t m ean that they were approaching the village p o k e n of. The riv e r w idened. At th e same time the current grew le ss violent, and av e them a better chanc e t o invesitigate th e s hor-es as hey w ent a long. H e r e t hey halted t o examin e a boat that came unde r heir observation. i\ little farther clown the stream they ound a that looked SO in viti n g that they must eeds insp ect it to make sure. More lig h ts gleamed n ea r b y. The village was jus:t b eyon d. H e re thev w ould have a serious business. for every o at h ad to b e examined nntil they found the c n e for hich they l o o k d. x chanced to be o n the other side. Glancing acros s, he aw a lante rn swingin g in a circle fter th e ma.nne1 of a freight brakeman' s s ignal. Si l as Cox knew what it m ea nt. The boa t had b e e n found-at least the man w h o h a d hus s ignal ed had run across something of s u ch importnce tha t h e desired hi s chiefs opini o n o f th e matter. Eag e rl y Cox directe d his man to row across the lit tl e tr eam. They found both boats in among the bu s h es at a small rivat e clock. H e r e's a b at with wet oar s in it. The rope at the ow i s also \\et." Cox exam ined a ll. "Looks like w e have struck it," he declared. "Herc's proof." The man w h o uttered these w ords was a pupil of ox-a young follo w with something of a record already or daring and shrewdness. As h e poke h e p o in ted clown at the boat. In tw o places there were jagged h oles above the water ine unclouhtecllv made bv bullets. Further still, in the bO:ttom of the boat, were a nurn er of empty brass she ll s, a nd the water in the place was 1 i gcd with blo o d. All d o ubt was n o w r emoved. Jesse Jam es and his men had landed here. How long ago had that bee n ? Cox figured. He finally made up his mind it could, n o t have been less than h a l f an hour, perharps more. They must foll o w, of c o u rse Land in g they secured the boats. The smallest d ock seemed to b e l ong to some private h ou e, whi c h \\"as sec r et e d among the trees that formed a nearby clump. Cox went ahead. With hi s lantern he examined the dock, ancl 1 found marks that c onvinced him that the wounded m an's cut st ill bled freely. Oh, for a d o g to follow the trail. In the abse nce of one, th ey mus t make a virtue of n eces s i ty, and do the best t h ey coulU. Cox t ri ed to follow it This he was successful in jus t so far as the planks o f th e dock went. Once the trail left there h e cou ld no l onger see the little blood marks, and this e n ded the matter. "Pu t out the lights,"' h e sa i d nuietl y Since .the lanterns c o uld do n o g o o d in s howin g th e m th e trail, i t was better that they should have no lights to b eitray thei r movements t o the watchful eyes n ear by. Obeyin g the o rders o f th eir chief, the m e n put the lante rn s o ut. Cox then marshalecl hi s fo rc es Bes i de s himself fourt ee n m e n were prese nt. Two of these h a d bee n w o un ded so se riousl y that they were hardly fit for active servi ce. T hi s br.c:iUtgh t his fo r ce clown to ithirtee n in a ll. The w ounde d were left at the clock to guard t h e boats, for th e re c ould be no telling what s l y tri c k these f e llows w o uld b e pla y ini,.. He cauti o ned them to b e vi gilant, and keep a giood watch upon tlie b o ats. If any one appeared anc\ 1 refused t o answer their chal lenge they had orders to s h oot. Thus, l eav ingth e r ear well c overed, Cox was r eady to m;i.ke his advan ce H e had a theory o f his own. Undoubte d l y J e sse James and his comrades must have h ad an object in l a nchn g at that pacrticular cloc k of all o n the ri v e r. Had t hey s impl v d e sired 1'o get ashore it was r easo n able to assume that they wo uld have chosen a larger public clock in the village at which to draw up. The y had no light that h e knew of with the m Consequ ently thi s littl e cl.ock, sequestered among the bushes. co uld n o t have ca ught their attention. P l a inl y some one among knew of its position beforehand. Thu S ila s Cox figured it o ut. He was a good hand at this ( If, then, th e s m all doc k was !mown ro the men they '.vere chasing, it became ev id en t that they mus t know the peopl e of the hon se. This was a natural conclus i o n \i\Tith such an idea in view h e started with a posse to see what t he house was like. Ther e was no trouble in finding it

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I 22 THE JESS E JAMES S TO R I ES. Among th' e trees it loomed up. Not a light could be seen. The window blinds were cl ose d and to all appearan ces the d we llin g was deserted. Cox was struck with the arppearance of these things, and oould not but r emark them. Again h e notic ed that there was a neglected air a b ou t the grounds, so far as h e could see n in the darkness. Was 1he place deserted? One of hi s ,men might know. He had them around him, and it was quite easy to find out what h e wished. In low tones h e put the question. A man answered : "I think thi s is the old Stannard place, sir." "Anythin g odd about it?" Well, yes. A ma11 was killed h e r e yea r s a igo-by his own son. You see the you n g fellow was mad in love with has father's ward'. H e wa.s away in Europe ait the time and was coming to marry h e r. They do say he thought the world and all of t h e girl." "Poor fool; but proceed." W1h en he anived h ome, filled with pleasure at the prosipect o f a happy marriag e, h e found h e r already the wife o f his father. "Hot-tempe red he quarre l ed w ith hi s father. The o ld man must have goaded him to fury, for finall y the boy struck him with a heav y paper-weight, and crushed his sku ll in. "Th e d e uc e "Just then, of oourse, the girl rus h ed m and saw the awful i ss u e." "Served her right." "He showed her th e result o f her treachery and up braided her. Then he ran from the h o u se, nor was he ev e r ".een h ere again." 'Ouite a di s mal s tory. Who lives h e r e now?" "f think th e g irl. She has gro wn o ld in these few y e a rs, and looks at lea s t fifty. Here. with a servant, she leads a l o n e l y existence. Peo pl e say the old grange i s haunted; that at midnight, in the dark of the mo o n, can be heard the S1truggle in the library, and the h ea vy fall when the o ld man goes clown unde r the bi o w of the pa per-we i ght; groans accompany th e sc ene, and the survivor upbrai d s hi s fa l se sweetheart. Then all i s s till again." Cox s hrugg-ed his s h o ulders. "A delightfu.1 place, truly. But its terrors must not daunt u s." CHAPTER XI. YOU COM E TOO LATB." This dol efu l account of the tragedy which once marked the h o u se before them did not cau se -the d e tec t ive any uneasiness. G hosts he n ever had believed in, and it was t oo la te for him to begin now. If J esse James and his men h ad t h e entree of this h ouse, it must ope n the d oors to them. How w e re th ey to know? He applied hi1i1se lf to 1 this t ask. First of all he made the circuit of the house, finding a / path that, though moss-grown and full of w e eds, l ed hi around. At one window he pause d The h eavy blinds were closed, but th e keen ey e of t detective caught a g leam of li g ht. This gave him encouragement. He C'rept u p close :to the h ouse in the endeavor to cat somet hin g that was said o r at least t o h ea r the sound voi.ces. It was im possible to see, for the shutters prevente d a, such possibility. He did catch th e murmur of voices, and one at lea seemed to be that of a man. This encouraged him. Smely the men h e sought must b e here. He walked o n A door next ca lled; for notice. Could he ODen it ? Supplied with such tools as burglars u se for the pu pose of effect in g an entr ance in to h o u ses, the dietecti &oon had the door unlocked Then he di s covered a disappointing fact. It was e ither chained o r barred o n the other si de an he could not onen it. He w ent Anothe r d10.or served him in just r t h e same way, and began t o s e e that an entranc e to the grange was bou n to be a difficult th in g for him to master. As h e never l et such a thing g e t the be s t of him. did n ot despair. Once thi s h ad been a farmhou se of rather pretentio s i ze. The r e was a ce llar und erneath--could h e find wincLo\\ i n thi s ? Although t h e h ou s e was so tightly closed, there w a ipt to b e s ome w eak point about it a n d his s e a rch w for this. Cox had made a study of human nature, and he kne the failings o f !'nan. ]n t e n minute s h e was s u ccess ful. A small c ellar window wa s unabl e to resist the for h e brought to bear up o n it, and with a c reak it s w un open. The inte rio r w as da r k a s Egypt. Cox cauti ous ly lO\\'Cr ed hims elf and find1ng s uppo on a barre l r eac hed th e g r o und floor in safety, chuckli ov e r hi s uc cess He conic! n o t grope around. It was m o r e dan ge rOll5 than lighting a match t o g hi s surroundings, for in the g l o om he was a.pt to knoc something o v e r and b et ra 1 hi s pres ence to the inmat of th e h o u se wh o would appear upo n the scene, th ghos t t{) the c ontrary, read y to give him a warm we co me. Having t h u s made up his mind, h e ignited; a mate and glan ced around him. T here were a numbe r o f things in the ce llar, princ old mu st y vine gar barrels, p e1-Jiaps so m e c o n t aini n win e \Vhat he was l ooking for princ ipally was th e s tair l ead i n g ab o v e a s hi s object was to r e ach the uppe r pa of the g -ra nge a s soo n as pO$Sible At first he failed to d is c o ver them, but turning, \\'alk

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THE JESSE JAMES STOR!ESo 23 uncl an arch, and the object o f his solic itu de wa s be e hil'n. 1 e reached the foot of them ere hi s match had fully ired. f coutse the door above was l oc k ed, but did 'it not e a chain like the others? e inve stigated. o his satisfaction he found that it did not. he door was not even l ocked. ere was a remarkabl e t o uch of good fortune, which s as Cox eagerly seized upon. e found himself in the up1)e r par!!: of the house, and with n o t the faintest idea as to his immediate surnding s hich way s h ou ld h e go SIO as to r eac h the light-this stion puzzled him. A 1 gaiii a match. I t might be dangerous, but no m ore so than s1tumbling uncl in th e darkness. What a boon a little Jig-ht can b e at times The cletectiv e made gooc]I use o f his opportuni1ty, for rnst be exceedingly brief. e was satisfie d with what h e had. done, and moved ward with an a ss urance that had oome from the one nee around. Darknes s again. I t was well. He b ent to a door, shoo k his head, passed on, tri ed other, a ncl finally r eached the encl of the h o u se where remembered the light had been. Here s ucc ess found him He discovered a small line of light l eading fro m a yhole. When he glued hi s eye to this aperature the result was t very brilliant-indeed, he could! see abs olute l y nothNext he q.pplir:!d his ear. his was better. The voices within r eac h ed him-one was that of a man, the oth e r a man. I n vain Cox endeavored rto catch other sounds-he bee convinced that ther e was but one man in the apart nt. This set him to thinkiflg. Probably they had left their wmmded behind, being able to keep him. The wretched worna : n of the grange, endeavoring in lituc\e to make up for her sin of th e pas 1 t, might deem an act of mercy to nurse the wounded man, and again, chances wer e Jesse James knew h e r. 1.'hus it was exceedi n g l y easy to figure out the whole smess. Silas Cox was sati sfied. At any rate they could: capture the wounded outlaw-1 y knew n : ot whether it was one of the James b oys or t. Should he go for his men? e shrugged hi s s houlders. One man, and wounded at that, was n o t enough to re him. 'rue, the fellow had proved him. self a remarkably o d shot with a r evo lver, but Cox did not mean to give ,a chance. e touched the doorknob. Gently turning i t he was pleased to find 1 that he could ope n the door. lnch by in ch he pu s h e d it ba.ck. Once it gave a slight squeak, which he feared must alarn those in th e room; but his ima gination was greater tha n their susoic ions. Now he hacl the door partly open-the aipera 1ture was wide enough to him a chance t o sli p thr-ough, anclJ without hesitati o n he availed himself of it. He found himself in a dimly li ghted room-the illumi-nation was softened by the shade that covered the l amp. lit seemed to be a small library. Cases of b ooks .filled three walls. One glance the detective cast around him, and the11 his gaze became fix ed upo n the moving, living fig;ures in the scene Directly across from the d oo r by means of wh ich he had entered, a woman knelt upon the floor beside a so fa Upon this latter article of furniture a man was streitched.' The voices had ceased. Only a woman's sobbing could b e h eard. Silas Cox was nuzzled Could it be p o ss ibl e that the wounded outlaw was any thing to this woman who had lived a lonely life here for yearn? She lo oked the pi ctme o f desolation and woe. Dressed in sober b lac k her hair hanging about her. face, she seemed like a nun, or a witch from the other world. Having heard her story, the d eteot ive knew just what to think. He stepped nearer. Fearing treachery, he held his revo lv e r in plain view as h e advanced. She h eeded him n o t. \i\Trapped in her grief, she cared nothing for the world around. He put out a hand and touched h e r o n th e shouldeL \i\Tith a start she threw her head around-a pair of midnight eyes l ooke d up to him from a mass of loose h air. He f e lt a cold ch ill pass ove r him. It was as though a spectre fr:om the grave had suddenly aippeaP ecl before him. "V1T ho are you-what do yo u want?" she asked, m a hollow voice. I a m a detective, madtam." "\i\T ell ?" "I have come to arrest this man," p ointing to the s i len t figure. She miled wearily. "You come boo late, sir. "Too late?" "Loo.k for yourself." H e was s1tartled by h e r words, but immediately bent over the silent form o n the bed. As soon as his eyes fell on the face, he knew iust what she meant. The man was d e ad. There could be n o mistake about it. Even t o one h ardene d b y experience the pres ence of death i s always terrible. So Si la s Cox f elt a shudclJer run through him.

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24 THE JlESSE JAMES STORIES. \i\Then did he die?' he asked. "A few minutes ago-see, hi s hands are not yet col d,' she r eplied. "I do ncit see any wound." \i\T ound ?'' "Yes; h e was sorel y hurt." "In his heart and mind-yes." "Bodily, I mean. \ Ve saw his bloo ii in t h e b oat, and trac k ed him he; e .. "Can i t be possible? When did thi s occur?'' "To-night-within the hour." "Surelv there is :;ome mistake. ''How ca n i t be?" "Robert has been in this mom, mrel y leavmg i t, a .who l e month." It was now the turn of the detective to be surpri ed, and he hardly knew what t o say. She was not deceiving him-of that he felt positive: and yet i f thi s dead man were the train robbe r left b e hi nd by J ess e James, h o w could he have been here so J o ng?'' There was a question in the very l ook h e turne d upDn her whe n changing hi s glance fro m the white, wan fac e of the dead man to her own c o unbenance, fro:11 which she h ad brushed back t h e long masses of wild black hair. uFor whom do you take him?" she asked quickl y "For a compani o n of J esse James, who m we hunted o n the riv er, and who l anded 1 at y our J oc k. Tell rnr, i s this n o t so-he is dead and can not be hanncd by what yo u say." She shook her h ead. "Ym1 arc enhrely wron g. This man i s R obert Stan nard, the son of the man w h o owned this place-my h u s band." "Ah, yes, I h ave h eard. Years ago-" "Years ago he had a terrible quarrel with l_1is father. and in the heat of pass i on killed him with a h eavy paperweight. I was the fTuiltv cau se of it a ll. For ,ears I have e n deav o red t o for my sin. ''A month ago Robert aippeared here. and said thart: h e was doomed to a speedy death. "It was hi s wish to die in the room whe r e h is awful crin! e had b ee n committed, because h e believed that hi s father's spi rit would be there and forgive him. "I kept hi s secret b eca u se they wonlc l have dragge d him away to jail. ''The e n d came peacefull y a few mint11tes ago, and his last words bring m e comfort. for they tell me he has already b een r eco ncil ed to hi s father, a n d that all is forgiven betwee n us. I th.ought, oi course, that yo u had come h e r e to arrest him for that long-ago crime, and that was why I"to ld yo u he had g o n e beyond i the reach of the law . 1J have nothin g to say about it, madam. Let m e l eave you alone wit h your grief. You must' pardo n lh e in trusion." "Do n o t m ention it, sir, but kindl y go." I wiJl, after I haye asked a question madam." CHAPTER XII. TRACKF.D TO PO'l'TF.R's CASTLE. She looked at hi m un easi l y, as though some s udd f ee lin g of a larm had fla heel through her mind. \i\That coulc11 he want to know? He was an o fficer of jtl tice: this p oo r man had be a fugitive from the law before death took him beyo the reach o f its stern arm: s h e had harbored Rob St:rnna rd for a m onth o r more in her h o use, and h thus become amenabl e t o the l a11 he had o utraged. Perhaps so m e fea r came upo n her. He c o uld see a spas m .pass over her face. '"What i s the nature of that queshon I mus t h the nature .of it before I can answer." rt does not concern anything you ca r e about .I sit ply wi s h e d 1 to know whethe r yon h::id heard any sou when the se men passed bv ?" was it-let 111e see-an h our ago?" l should j uclge so .. ''Then 1 can s a'" that l believe I heard some one our well-the bucket creaks when pulled up. My g wa s with m e at the ti me, so I am sure it must have be an otltsider. They sometimes enter the grounds to get cJ.rink, for w e have the best water for mil e s around. O n brave so uis dare thi s for. you know. fo o lish peo ple ha this h o u se to be haunted .. "Thanks. You have a1 swered me. 1 will now lea you with your dead. and. believe m e I have a v ery e al te d opini on of your womanly kind1 ness in thus cari for a poo r devi l whom fa t e must have treated very sh bil y.'' =r V.r as the unhappy cause of it all, and the leas t oo uld do was to care for Robert d 1 uri1ig his dying h o u I did more-] l et him b elieve that I guilty at tl time. wh en, in truth, it wa s all hi s father' s doings. swore t'O me that R o b ert had married abroad>; s howed a letter, that to b e in his hand, telling of his w e cling. and biddinghis father heal my wounded hea Y-ou see in ::.pite. I marrie d the old m aII in order to revenge d upo n R o bert. It was all a terrible mista ke, a Francis Stannard rui n e d three lives bv his s in .. 'The dctccti ve c ou ld not but the lady; h e s she \\"as above the average o f her sex. 'Nhat lie l:ad ::. ;;f frrecl was beyond

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[ \ T H E JESSE JAMES STORIES. 25 \>t near so much as \vould have been had he at pted t o bring hi s m en in he fir st thing he did u'Po n reaching the window was give :i signal, and, low though it was, hi s listening n heard. They w e re around him almost imme diately curious of rse, to know what he had been doing. wher, e h e had 1 n, and h o w the p ros pect stood for making a wholesale ture 1 He to do it but t h e men had t o be let down, and nee he ra p idly sketc h ed the brief adv entures that had fallen him s ince h e passed through the cellar window. The y were intereste d in the story, although, of course, appointed in not finding those they sought unde r this of. Where could th e outlaws be? The d etectiv e vvas for finding out. He imm ed i ate l y opened a court of inquiry. "Who was it told me about this h otrne ?" "Nie, caiptain." "Ah! Sackett, are you acquainted here?" "I spent a numbe r o f years in the pla c e." "Did J esse _Ta me s come here?'' "Several times." ''Then he h as f.riencl!s in th e town?" "Yes." "That' s bad I'm afraid we've l os t our grip." "Perhap s not, captain. "Wh y do you say that?" I kno w where thev liv e ." "Can yau take u s t o them?" 1 "Easily. "That's o ne point gained. Still, it's bad." "How so? ''I'm afoaid th ey' ll give u s the s lip. An hom' s time 1s [ good deal. M u ch can b e done in sixty minutes, yo u ow." "Shall we go now?" I "Without delay. "Where s hall I you first:'" 'To th e h ouse w h er.e James b es t friend lives. It to be presumed that in time o f tmuhl e h e w o uld see k t'the party for who m h e had the b est f ee lings." "Good. That w o uld b e Brose Potter-they w e re o ld urns during the war. Brose h as settled down, and i s a trades m a n t o-cJ.ay. but h e '" :ill n e v e r b e an y -ingbut a friend to Jesse James "On to the P otter mans i o n then." "Foll o w m e.' Sackeitt l ed o ff. Th e g rounds of the haunted m a nse were lef t behind d pre s ently the sq uad o f m en walked alo n g th e dusty 1 eet o f th e little l\f i r s1ouri t ow n Sila s Cox was co n vinced th a t th r i r last h op e wa s rhood l e d them straight on. H e evidently kn e w where he was goi111g. This fact encouraged Cox. P erhaps the hard luck that had followed thei r pur s u i t thus far wa s about to be broken. :Efo h oped so. It was about time something occurred to bring. the notori o u train robbers of Missouri to the bar of justice: -they had run things to suit the m se lv es ,long enough, and the laws they had outraged must soon crush them. Perhaps he was the cho se n party destined to execute th es e same laws. .Silas Cox shoo k his head at the thought. The poor success thait had met his efforts thus far was not encouraging. It did not look as though he were marke d as th e suc ces s ful man-rather tha t an unfriendly fate had doomed! him to defeat, judging from the long line of disasters that h ad marke d his trail fro m the first hour they had ran a cross the outlaw and hi s gang. He kept up a brave heart. Nature had made Silas Cox one of t h ose men whom' nothin g oo uld di s c ourage. After r.e ceivin 1 g a terrible knoc k-diown blow in th e arena of strategy h e wou l d mme up a s smiling as ever and continue 1 to lab o r on. S u c h a man mus t often s ucceed, whe r e others fail, by the s heer force o f his cha racter; n o t that he did not kn o w ; wh e n h e was whipped but it t oo k a good deal to bring ab out that poi n1t. They had t o pass dire c tly thPou g h the village in order to rea c h the hou se whe1 e Sackett b e li e ved his m e n might b e found. A few s treet lamps s hone These were w hat t h ey had see n from the river when de scending rthat str e am. O n e place 011l y ha d a light in it. and lhi s was .a saloo11, use d al so as a tav e rn ----eac h villag e and t o wn always boasts of s u c h a pla ce, w h e re th e w eary trave l e r can b e e nt ertai n e d afte r a fashion. They were n ow through the place. T h e b o u ses b eca m e m o re isola ted. Si l as Cox h ad strode along at the si d e of S ac k ett, withont a word up to thi s time. he spoke in a l o w tone. ''Arc we 1iear the plac e:'" Ye s It is just around a bed in th e road a hundred ya r ds ahead." "Good. What sort o f a .oiace i s it?" A small o n e-the h ouseis 'Peculiar in i ts build-POJtwas a lwa ys an o dd gen iu s, and fa s hi o ne d hi s clwelliirg afte r th e sty l e o f a hundred yeaors a.go. It i s ca lled the CastJ.e b y the v illage folks ., "Do-es i t l oo k like o ne?'' "Verv much. H e h as what h e calls the moat around it, a bridge t o lowe r. and a sort o f ga1 te that Potte r names th e po r tcullis. "Go o d heavens And in Missouri, too. I \ vo nder the pe o ple dont put him in an asy lum. "They laugh at h im. But Potter d on't care a rap for

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/ TliE JESSE JAMES STORIES. think:ng. He goes about his business per-CHAPTER XIIJ. renit." .L 11Gll" :>ensible of When you come t o it eve 'ry THE SKELETON AT THE FEAST. man in thi s country has a Tight to do as h e p l eases and It was a queer freak that in duced a man to build humor hi s whini 1 s as long as they don't inf:rin-ge on some a nec u)iar h ouse. oth er person's right \i\Te'Jl soo p see whether hi s cast l e There co uld b e nothin g in its surroundings to j can keep u s out." such a thing. He had n o fear of dangerous e n emies "It would be a great place in w hi ch
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THE J ES SE J A M ES STORIES. 27 the fastening. almost lost hi s balance once, and finally d what h e so ught. ntly he opened the window, and crawled through. ro o n e met him with hostile demeanor. ever, p erhaps, was a castl e ente r ed with as much ease u hi one. In o l de n clays lhey used to use battering s, and effect their obj ect amid th e g r ea test c lat te r and e of lif e ilas Cox might have g iv e n those ancient worthies a or bro worth having o n the subject of accomplishing a result. e used cunnin g instead of for ce, and the latte r ca n n er compar e w ith it in power. aving made a s u ccess of his first move, h e meant t o p it up hat of the inte ri o r of the castle? id the fr.eak of a proprie t o r include spri n g g11ns in categ o r y of ancient too ls? If so the unlucky cle-ive, wand e rin g around t h ese passages, might find him a victim of such a n invention. 1 e hoped no such death-dea lin g traps lay around procuous ly. 1 !though willing to take all t h e o r d in a r y risks that hi s ard o u s profe ss i o n called fo r Cox did not want to rifice himself on the a ltar o i a fanatic-a worshipe r II anci ent habits and c ustoms. e preferred to live and mee t n ew diffi cultie as they e along. s the lay o( the interior was entire l y un familiar to him, cou,Jcl not kJJow whic h way t o t urn, and was contem ting an advan ce in a certai n directio n when a light 1den\y flashed in fro n t of him. he object his hand had g rasped l o steady h imself, which projected from the wall. turned out to be a er working the electri c lights with wh i ch Potter's tie was supplied. ox saw what he had clone ag-hast. Vhat if the lights had, in ;'tedi e n ce to hi. magic r ugh un i ntentional touch, sprung up all over the a 1se? n conskrnation he endeavored to tnrn th e powe r off in. but not unclerntandin g t\l1e way in which the l eve r rked it to o k him almost a full minute to do so. ere was an unexpected matter. i\Tould i t betrav him? e l eft the spot and hurried along the route whic h the r ht had shown him. A.t every step he fully expected to run across some e hurr ying to see what accident had befalle n th e elec c plant. here was a peculiar fee ling-that came ove r him w he n considered the possibility of some diabolica l trap being ung upon him-it made the darkness more i ntense. e came to some stairs. D own these he wo uld have plunged h ead l ong, onl y t some frie n dly sense of intuition bade him s l acken h is ce and just in time to discove r what lay ahead of him. s yet n o one had colli d ed with him. Ie \\alkecl more s l owly, with am1s outstretched, and ping for any obstacle. Thus h e came bang up against a frgure, a n d at once sped his arms aroun d it, with an in stinct horn of long ,that the fugitive had a metal h e lmet; in fact i t was a full o utfit b elonging to a knight of the days of R ic h ard th e Third. \i\11hat mor e appropriate than that such an affair s h ou ld b e fo und in t h e castle? Cox smiled n ow when h e remembered the awful c hill that pervaded h is frame when hi s arms had first come in contact w ith the cold steel of t he armore d knight. "I wonde r i f t h e r e's any more of these gentry that I may bu
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' 2 8 T H E JES S E JAMES STORIES. v\ihat s h ou ld l:e do? What co11ld he clD? The detective's hand ,,a s o n tT1e snit o f mail, and what m ig:1t l;e liLened to ;rn inspiration came to him just th e n. Ee flirted around to th e r ear of the fi'gure, and tried tl: e fit. T!1c suit of must have been made for a man of j us t his for it filled the bill, a n d h e filled it t o a clot. Here was a r idiculous situation! Sure;y n o enc had ever fallen into s uch before. He seemed put be.ck four hundred years, and l ooking t brough the bars of the helmet-for the vizor was raised -alnw'l expected to see a troop of knights and ladi es of the clays long s!;1ce gone by come trooping in. The Y c ices grew louder. T l C ll ll1ey were n o t of hi imagination or spirit voices, bu l a recJity. \ Vho was coming to the feast? Thedetecti ve wai ted. He cou ld give a very good guess, but preferred to wait and s e e with his own eyes. :\fo,ing fignres attracted hi s attention. They ,, ere entering the dining-hall through a door at the extreme T he vo i ces appeared to be tho e of men o n ly, and S i las Cox l ooked in vain fo r t he prese nce of women, but thi s 1was nothing singul a r, since Potter was an o ld bachelor, and a woman hater. All of h is work was don e by persons o f his own sex, and yet i n a business way he was a favorite among careful to let his real kelings hide behind a mask. Potter came first. He was a quaint fig ure. VI/hen at home h e usua! ly assumed scme old sty l e manner of dress that was in keeping with his surroundings, and thus presented rather an odd appearance. \iVho were with him? Cox held his breath while he lo o ked. One, two, three, four-that was just the numbe r o f the m e n th ey were pursuing. Surely these could n o t be the o n es, and yet-the clet eot ive had high hopes. The companions of the o ld bachelor antiquarian were dressed something l ike himself in the h ab i ,Jimen t s of l o n g a go, and their best friends might have experienced a diffi culty in recognizing them. It is no trouble to get any s u c h garments in the present day-costumers have them, and they are u sed upon the stage of traged y 'Dhe four men seemed amused at their peculiar p os iti o n although it showed itself b y an occasiona l grin when Potter's attention chanced to turn in anoth e r direoti o n. T h ey stood back o f the chairs, where he placed them tmti, J h e gave the signal, which was a wave of the hand -then each man took hi s sea t. Cox was S.:1.tisfi'ed. H e h a d recognized Potter s companions as J esse James and his men. CHAPJ.'ER XIV. THE MAN ON THE STAJRS. There c o uld be no doubt u;>o n this score, for h only saw their faces, but could hear a!! that was sai Potter was not q uite a fool. He drew th e lin e somewhere, and it came t o the s of the olde n cbys-he made n o attempt to carry i t whic h was fo r t u nate indeed. The" attacked the viands on the ta:ble. A n;anservan, t, als:o dre sect i n the same olcl-fas hi l iv ery of the ti-me of the crusades, waited on them, plyin g thi s and that as cal led for. I t was a generous spr ead, e v e n if gotten up in a h O n e thing astcnishecl Cox. If these men had been in the castle all the while, came it that he had n o t seen lights? \iVere most o v v inrl o\\'s so arranged they would not s h O \\ illL1minatio n ? It was a fact that he never fully solved, but m ti me to come he would fo1d much tn v;o!:der at u mysteries of Potter's Castle. Fancy the detective's position! Here \\as his game. Within ten feet of him sat J es e James, his br Fra;ik, and ('.VO other tra!n robbers 1 1!Jo \\' ere. also \\'a bad]\ for offe n ces against the laws of the soverei g n of l\; Ii sso uri. He dared not r each ou t his hand and endeavor to a them. Why? Tn t h e first p l a ce h e was vi rtually alone, and these perate men would make c r ow's rneat of him long b hi s followers could force aE entra!lce into t h e castl e He had a force near at hand, ouite sufficient to a if he could on l y avail himself of it. How could thi s be clo ne? He paid little attenti o n to their talk, so busily eng was he in endeavoring to solve thi s question It was to leave the suit of armor and out of th e r oom. 11he electric lights were t oo brig ht. Perhaps when th e wine came o n they might get a I confused, not be ab l e to see straight-then hi s c h woul d come. H i s position was unco mforitabl e He r eally hoped they would n o t b e too long. What bond of friendship could there be between J James and the antiquarian? Hark! the latter was speaking of it It seemed that the outlaw had clone Potter some f during the war-saved his life, th e latter decla r ed, h e now s howed his gratitude by serving them. T hey feasted royally As a g r oce r Potter k e p t a stock in his house that c be drawn on in an emergency, and the four hunte d had certainly sat clown t o nothing of the kind fo r n a long day. Then came wine. Silas Cox was not e njoying hi s position a b it, s 'he found it hard to k eep so erect while occupying suit of mail. Hence he was d elighted to see the wine come, si n warned him t he end was near.

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THE JESSE JJ\MES STORIES. 29 He had ere this been compelled to s lip his arms out om their casino-, and yet he r emained behind the figure. Now the thought occurred to him that perhaps he could op to the floor and creep to the stairs. Three of the men had their backs toward him, and the hers coul d not well see the floor-their attention was P ken up by other things at a n y rate, and they preferred t gaze upward. He dete rmin ed to try. If failu re came he would have to make a bolt for it, at was all. When he had made up his mind to do a thing, the de ctive was not th e man to stop over trifles, and in this u se, seeing his way clear, he immediately entered upon e scheme L owering hirn se l f to h is hands and knees he began back away. So long as he coul d keep the man in armor between imself and those who sat at the table, all wa well. The trouble began when this was no longer possible, d then each second was fraught with the most inten se nxie tv. he make it? Th e sta ir s do\\n which h e had come were near at hand, d in another minute he could reach the foot. His troubl es o nly began there, in reality. The light was strong. r He could on1y creep up the stairs one step at a time, nd would h ave t o watch the men with a carefu l eye, order that he might not move and attract attention houlcl o n e o f them happen to glance in that d i recti on. f Ah! his foot t o uched the heavy p o t at the foot of the t a irway. : Wat chi n g his chance, he concealed him self behind this, cl then rested. It was hi s desire to take a good observation before pro t eet!ing further. Turning; his he ad, h e lo oked up the stairs. The balustrade was heavy, and th i in a measure K ould [ creen him. He could hear th e five men oTowi n g merry ove r their i and when his eyes were turned in that direction, 1 e \\'as compelled to s mil e to see them bending ov e r the able to clink their gla sses toget her, while the owner of h e castl e gave th e toast: H ere's s ucc ess to you, b oys, in your warfare against e ankee capital, and confusion to your epemies. May ou live l ong, and when your time com es die with you r oots on." To this Lhey drank uproa riously. Their life \\' as o ne of clanger and excitement, and had ew cornpen ati ons sa ve the f ear men entertai n ed tO\\'ard hem. n Some men live upon applause-these r eckless trai n 1 obbers did upon the alarm their presence caused in the earts of all h onest men. -ow was the opportunity of Silas Cox. He hast ened to impr9ve it. while all of the men were looking ceilingwarcl. as they llo\\'ecl the rich fluid to trickl e clow n their throats, he egan creeping up the stairs It 1 yas easy enough to do, so l ong as the men were not okinfl. They soon put down their glasses, and Si.Jas Cox foun d hims e lf half-way u p the stairs Another run like that would take him to the very top. W ould so me one else propose a toast? He sincere l y trusted so. His wishes were cloornecl to d i s a ppoi ntment, for the men fe! J to talking again, and he dared n o t move for fear l est th e keen eyes turned toward him shou ld discove r his presence. This wa s growing monoton o us. He grew a li ttle impatient, and even made up his mind to take chances that were quite bey o nd his u s ual line of ta ct i cs. In d oi n g so he put his fo o t in it and brought down the house. A cry from th e tabl e was his fir s t warning. Cox stopped still and crouched low. \ iVhat is it, Frank?" "Potter, you said you r o nl y servant besides the cook was waiting on us?" "Yes." T1hen who was the man I saw creepin g up the stairs just no\\ ?" \ Vhat ?" "Just what I man was creeping up the stairs just now. He i s crouching there n ow. I could hit him from here through the railing." "Can it be p oss ible? 1 give yon permis s i on to fire, Frank, m y b oy. A n y servant of mine who tries eaves droppingkno ws the penalty." \nd 1 object." With th e w.ords Silas Cox sprang up the remaining few steps, and vanished above. Not 11ithout hearing a bullet whistle pa this ears as Frank James pulled the trigger. H is s udd en and energetic movement had bee n the means of saving his life, for the train robber would certainly have brought him to grief had he been given a dec ent shot at him. The greatest confus ion existed below. "After him!" "A s py, boys!" gasped Potter, aghast more at the thought that his castle was not so impregnable as he had believed it, than because his friends' lives we r e in daager. The five men left the table. Several in their haste, failing to push back their chairs properly, Lurnl:J,lecl o ver. This added to the racket. It did not reta rd the pursuit, however, for they scrambl1ecl t o their f ee t like fun, and rush ed pell-mell afte r tiheir comracles. Cox had time enough to reach the window, providing h e cou ld find it. He would not find a chance to ca r efu lly cross over the plank, but must run his chances of falling in the moat. Thes e things flashed through 'his mind even as he r eached the top of the stairs and prepar ed to run along the hall. The darkness settled it in his mind. He turned back. Better hold his enemies in check for the present, until his men could arrive, after rec eiving his signal, or else

PAGE 31

30 T H E JESSE JJ\MES STORIES. time be given him to grope his way al ong and find the This was the thought that came to him. In t imes of extr eme p eril th e mind moves with a rapid ity o nly eq u aled by th e flas h of e lectricity from th e h eav ens o r over the wire. Cox 1had only taken three steps when he made thi s res o lu t ion to return. Instant l y hi s progress ceased. He turned back. The fiv e men had l eft th e table and were ru shing in a f ever -h ea t of exciteme n t for th e stai rs. There was no need to tell the J ames boy s or their comr ades who this man was. It was suffic i e n t for them to unde r stand that h e was a spy. That meant their enemy. T i h ey w e r e h o t t o la y h old on him and learn what his presence meant. Of co u r se danger was in th e air-they c o uld s niff that -but in what shape. Eager, h oweve r to se ize up o n th e un know n an d make Oiim confess, th ey ru she d forw ard toward the ftight o f 5tairs. At the bottom J esse Jam es saw the flight before him -more tha n thi s h e caught a g lirnp se o f a man sta nding abo v e and aiming d ownward. Though a bold m a n J esse James was n o fool. He kn e w what di sc r e tion meant T h e r e could b e n o t e lling how m.an y foes were u p the re. If o n e co uld flnd an entrance, w h y not m o re? L ook o ut! h e s hou ted, d odging bac k At the very ins tant th e r e ca m e a flas h above and a sharp, reverbe ra ting r epo rt. The leaden m essenger to u ched th e l e ft ear o f the out l aw in its passage, and ha d it b ee n two in c hes m o re to the r ight, his ca reer wou l d have b e e n e n de d then and th e r e As i t was, th e clo se shave gave him t o under s tand t hat t he marks man a bove meant b usin ess, and a rush o f their for ces would result in the death of at l east o n e of th em. This would probably be hims e lf Officers generally pi c ked him o ut when firin g ind ivid ually-h e was u se d to it. Several t hin gs lik e t his ca u s ed hi m to be very p:ir ti cular-he rait:he r guesed he would n ot attempt to stonT 1 those ste ps. As he called to hi s compani ons to l ook out, he d o d ge d back himself T he five men found places o f 9 hel ter-two cro uched b e s id e t he stairway, another kn e lt b ehin d th e ta ble, a fourth made use o f a niche nearby while Frank James got behind the armor which had so r ece ntly concealed th d e tective. J esse J arnes and P o tt e r wer e t oge ther. Tlrns they could c o nsult. I n ab o ut a minute or so the outlaw learned that ther was anoth e r means of r eac h ing vhe second floor .and th i dea at once flashed into hi s h ead t o make the detour. P o tt e r l e d the way. They could leave the dining-hall without expo sin them selves to th e fir e of th e 1 'n;an whci h eld 1'he fort at th t o p of th e stairs CHAPTER XV. cox GIVES UP THE GAME. The owne r o f the castle l e d Jes e James along a hail until th ey came to th e r ea r o f th e h o u se-instead of a stair way suc h as might have b e en expected for the serv ants they oame up o n a ladder running aloft. It was n o time for commenti n g on the singular condi ti o n o f affai rs. The o utl aw wa s o nly too a n x i o u s t o carry out the sch eme in hand. Potter w ent up fir st. In a minute they found t h e m selves on t h e second floo r of the building. The da rkn ess was confusing t o the outl aw, b ut with P otter i t mu s t b e d iff e rent s ince he kn ew every foot of the ground. "This way," he whisp e r ed "Hold on!' "\A/hat's wrong?" "It's da rk as Egypt. Let me h ave h o ld of you." Potter put o ut hi s arm and th e othe r clutched it. "That's better-go o n n ow." They began t o creep fo r wa r d Not knowing but what they might come up on the enem y at any m oment, J esse J ames k ept his r evo lver r eady for i n stant u se. T ha t weapon had sound ed th e death-knell of many a brave man. It wou l d do n: o r e wick e d work before th e hand that aimed it \ Ya s laid low in deat h Thus they crept alon g, 111eani11g to surprise the ma n who h e ld the As luck would have it t hey themse lves were the ones surprised. Th o utlaw f e l t the o the r start Clo se t o his ea r Potter's lips said: "Look here!., A l t h ou g h t he Missour i o utlaw co u ld n o t see in whic h directi on bis co rnpan ion point ed he seemed to guess it fro m in tu iti on.

PAGE 32

THE JESSE JAMES S T O R BES. 81. Looking keenly, he could make out a window. It was inten se l y black within and ligiht e r outside, so that o n e could see the propo rti o n of the frame to the / contrast. I Stars glimmered in the sky. Even as he looked, the dark figure of a man was l ined against that s ky j He craw.led in at the window. I Not a sound was h eard. It s eemed like a pantomime. Jesse J arnes stood and gasped. out-Hard ly had this man reach e d the floor of t h e hall another figure was in sight T11en came a third and a fourth. 'By this time Jesse Jam es realized that the castle was 11 the hand s of the enemy. He lost al l faith in its qualities. T o escape the threatened doom m e ant flight, for noth ing e l se wou.Icl do it. He thought o f his comrades. They would surely be gobbl e d up, unle ss warned in tim e of the clange r. He b ent hi s h ea d to the ear of the man who own e d the castle, and who appear e d to b e almost p et rified with a s toni s hm ent at vvhait h e s aw. "Come back," he wihi.spered. The tug h e gave at th e o th e r 's arm pro bably did more than anything e l se t o convince him that th ey mus t b eat a ha sty retreat. As they came th ey went. Down the ladder, and along the ligh ted d i ning-hall. Ko doubt all this time the m e n were dropping in through the win dow above They co uld imagine it anyh ow. Jesse James g ave a signal th e o thers knew, and presently all we re w i th him. He kept nothing back. They were entitled to know all. "We can m ake a stand here and ke e p them from c o m -ing clown the stairs," said F rank. "Th e r e's no need of that." \ \That do yo u say, Potter?" "The h ouse is do ub t less surrounde d "Yes." "You want t o l eave?" "Well, the w orst kind "I'll s h ow yo u a way out, i f y o u never breathe a word of it to a liv ing soul.'' A.II readily a:;sentecl. "Yon s e e this cast l e of min e wonldn t be complete witho u t an undergro und passage "That's a fact." "And I mean to show it to yo u " \i\There d oes it come out?" "In Tom Gani o n' s liv ery stable in. town. Tom 1 s 111 my ernplov I reall y run his place." J esse J arnes chuckled. :'Potte r you may b e minus four horses whe n mo rn -. m g comes. "Ju t what I was about to s u ggest." "T1h ey'll come back to you, or doub)e their worth in d o llars-m ake sure of it. Now show u s the h ole. \l\T e may be presse d for time." ''.No hurry. They ain t r eady for business yet; bu t come on; we w ill go." "How about Nick?" "He's in a secret r oo m bey o nd the panel. 1":hey couldn't find him if th ey hunted the for a we e k." "You '11 !oa k after him? "Depend on it, till his wound is h ea l e d.'1 "Potter, you r e a trump. ''I'm just paying off that d e bt." They w e r e soon at the entrance t o t1he underground pas sage This w as a trap The room had a sto n e floor, and one of th e slabs Potter lifte d up a dark h o l e A ladd e r was in sight. "Here's a lant ern and pl enty of mat c h es Go down a nd good-b y to yo u." Frank J ames ligh ted the lan tern and descended the la d d er, in which h e was followed by two others His waited to shake hands again. "Potter, are yo u sure yo u won't get int o trouble for this night's \\ork ?" "Don't fear for me. They can't prove anything, you see. I 'll laugh at 'em. Go do w p, and l e t m e cover up the tracks. A!l is wel l." The l ast of the train r obbe r s started to descend the short lad der, his companio n s waiting be l ow Prese nt l y the sto ne fell into place. All signs of r ecent moving w e r e smoot h ed away. Then Pott e r made his way back to the dining-'hall, and seated himself at the table. At hi s order th e manS
PAGE 33

32 T H E JESSE JAMES ST O RIES. "Seats, gentlemen; I have b ee n waiting for you quite a time." Cox was a littl e surpri se d at the coolness and audac it y of the m
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