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. .
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
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,
( 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."
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
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.
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
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.
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
\"" 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.
-...,. 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
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."
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'
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.
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
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
\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,