The Red Cloud chief. (Red Cloud, Webster Co., Neb.) 1873-1923, March 24, 1905, Image 3
' WffiWI: ti r ""-Htwv i"xito-' .,ufjV.. .t. .. v- v.w4wiJlhiwii SIMRSRSiWRKSK?' TWVa' II- i i 4. -!. A J. lohe Gentleman From Indiana t Copyright, 1890. by Doabtcday Copyright, 1002, 'X.; (CONTIMT.I) rilO.M LAST WEIIK.) "Sweetheart, you mustn't fret," she soothed in motherly fashion. "Don't you worry, dear. m,.s ,,n ,.Ki,t, u Isn't yom- fault, dear. They wouldn't come on 11 night like thK" I'.ut Helen drew nwny and went to the window, flattening her arm against the pane, her forehead pressed against lior arm. She had lot him go; she had let him s alone. She hiufforgotton the danger that always beset hlim she had been so crazy; she had seen nothing thought of nothing. She had let him go Into that and Into the storm alone. Who knew better than she how cruel they were. She had seen the lire leap from the white blossom and heard the bnll whNtle. the hall they had meant for his heart that good, -rent heart. She had run to him the night before. Why had she let him so Into the un known and the storm tonight? itut how could she have stopped him? How could she have kept him after what lie had said? He had put it out of her power to speak the word "Stay!" She peered into the night through distort ing tears. The wind had gone down a little, but only a little, and the electrical Hashes tinnccd all round the horizon in mag nificent display, sometimes far away, sometimes dazlngly near, the darkness doubly deep between the intervals when the long sweep of Hat lands lay In dazzling clearness, clean cut in the washed air to the finest detail of strick en Hold and heaving woodland. A staggering llame clove earth and Bky. and sheets of light echoed it, and a frightful uproar shook the house and rattled the casements, but over the crash of thunder Minnie heard her friend's loud scream and saw her spring back from the window with both hands, palms outward, pressed to her face. She leaped to her and threw Iier aniH about her. "What Is It?" Look!" Helen dragged her to the 'Window. "At the next flash! Tue fence beyond the meadow." "What was it? What was it like?" The lightning flashed incessantly. Helen tried to point. Her hand only Jerked from side to side. "Look:" she cried. "I see nothing but the lightning," Winnie answered breathlessly. "Oh, the fence! The fence! And In the Held!" "Helen: What was it like?" "Ah. ah!" she panted. "A long line of white looking things horrible while" "What like?" Minnie turned from the window and caught the other's wrist in a strong clasp. "Minnie, Minnie! Like long white gowns and cowls crossing the fence!" Helen released her wrist from her companion's grasp and put botli hands on Minnie's cheeks, forcing her around to face the flickering pane. "You must look! You must look!" she cried. "They wouldn't do it! They wouldn't It Isn't!" Minnie shuddered. "They couldn't come In the storm. They wouldn't do it In the pouring rain." "Yes! Such tilings would mind the rain!" She burst Into hysterical laugh ter, and Minnie seized her round the waist, almost as unnerved as Helen, yet trying to soothe her. "They would mind the rain," Helen whispered. "They would fear a storm. Yes, yes! And I let him go; I let him go!" Pressing close together, clasping aeh other's waist, the two girls peer ed out at the landscape. "Look!" Up from the dlstnnt fence that bor dered the northern side of Jones' field a pale, pelfld, flapping thlilg reared itself, poised and seemed, just as the blackness came again, to drop to the ground. "Did you see?" But Minnie had thrown herself Into a deep chair with n laugh of wild re lief. "My darling girl!" Bho cried. "Not n line of white things Just one Mr. Jones' scarecrow! And we saw It blown down!" "No, no, no! I saw the others. They were In the Held beyond. I saw them. When I looked the first tlrao they wero nearly all on the fence. This tirao wo saw the last man crossing. Ah, I let bini go alone!" Minnie sprang up and infolded her. "No; you dear, imagining child, you're 'upset and nervous, that's all the mat ter In the world. Don't worry; don't, child; it's all right. Mr. Harkless Is homo and safe in bed long ago. I know that old scarecrow on the fence like a book, and you're ho unstrung you fancied the vest. He all right. Don't you bother, dear." The big, motherly girl took her com panion in her arms and rocked her, back and forth soothingly and petted, and reassured her uudthon cried a lit "By Booth Tatucimgtos Si McClure Co. by McClure. Thittipj &. Co. tle with her, as a good hearted girl al ways will with a friend. Then who left her for the night, with many a cheer ing word and tender caress. "CJet to sleep, my dear," she called through the door when she had closed It behind her. "You must if you have to go in the morning. It Just breaks my heart. 1 don't know how we'll bear It without you. Father will miss you almost as much as I will. Good night. Don't bother about that old white scarecrow; that's all It was. Good night, dear; good night." "Good night, dear," answered n plain tive little voice. Helen's cheek pressed the pillow and tossed from side to side. By and by she turned the pillow over; It had grown wet. The wind blew about the eaves and blew itself out. Sleep would not come. She got up and laved her burning eyes; then she sat by the window. The storm's strength was spent at last. The rain grew light er nnd lighter until there was but the sound of running water and the drip, drip on the tin roof of the porch. Only the thunder rumbling in the distance marked the storm's course, the chariots ' of the gods rolling farther and farther away till they finally ceased to be heard altogether. The clouds parted "Look!" bhc cried. majestically, and then, between great curtains of mist, the day star was seen shining In the east. The night was hushed, nnd the peace thnt falls before dawn was upon the Jvet, flat lands. Somewhere in the sod den grass a swamped cricket chirped; from an outlying flange of the village a dog's howl rose mournfully; it was answered by another far away and by another and another. The sonorous chorus rose above the village, died away, and quiet fell again. Helen sat by the window, no comfort touching her heart. Tears coursed her cheeks no longer, but her eyes were wide and staring, and her lips parted breathlessly, for the hush was broken by the far clamor of the courthouse bell ringing in the night. It rang and rang and rang and rang. She could hot breathe. She threw open the win dow. The bell stopped. All was quiet flnce more. The east was gray. Suddenly out of the stillness there came the sound of a horse galloping over a wet road. Ho was coming like mad. Som one for n doctor? No; the hoof beats grow louder, coming out from the town, coming faster and faster, coming here. There was a plashing and trampling In front of the house and a sharp "Whoa!" In the dim light of first dawn she made out a man on a foam flecked horse. He drew up at the gate. A window to the right of hers went screeching up. She heard the Judge clear hl throat before ho spoke. "What: Is it? That's you, Isn't It, Wiley? What Is it?" He took u good deal of time and coughed between tho sentences. Ilia voice wns more thnn ordinarily quiet, nnd it Bounded husky. "What is It, Wiley?" "Judge, what time did Mr. nnrklesa leave here last night, nnd which way did he go?" There wns a silence. The Judge turn ed away from tho window. Minnie was Binninng just outside ills door. "It must have been nbout half past 0, wasn't It, father?" slio called In a choked voice. "And you know Helen thought lie went west." "Wiley 1" Tho old man leaned from the sill again. "Yes," answered tho man on horse back. "Wiley, ho left about half past 0 JUHt beforo the storm. They think ho went west." . "Much obliged, Wllletts la so upset ( II 1 1 v he Isn't sure of anything." "Wiley!" The old man's voice shook. Minnie began to cry aloud. Tho horse man wheeled about and turned his mil mal's head toward town. "Wiley!" "Yes." "Wiley, they haven't you don't think they've got him?" Said the man 011 horseback, "Judge, I'm afraid they have." I'HAl'THU VIII. UK courthouse bell ringing In tho night! No hesitating stroke of Schollelds' Henry, no uncertain touch, was on ZM the rope. A loud, wild, hurried clamor pealing out to wake the countryside, a rapid clang! clang! clang! that struck clear In to the spine. The courthouse bell bad tolled for the death of Mor ton, of Garfield, of Hendricks; had rung joy peals of peace after the war and after political campaigns, but It had rung as It was ringing now only three times once when milliard's mill burned, once when Webb l.iidls killed Sep Bardlock and Intrench himself In the lumber yard and would not be taken until he was shot through and through, and once when the Itoueu ac commodation, crowded with children and women nnd men, was wrecked within twenty yards of the station. Why was the bell ringing now? Men and women, startled into wide wake fulness, groped to windows. No red mist hung over town or country. What was It? The bell rang on. Its loud alarm beat Increasingly Into men's hearts and quickened their throbbing to the rapid measure of Its own. Vague forms loomed In the gloaming. A horse, madly ridden, splashed through the town. There were shouts; voices called hoarsely; lamps began to gleam In the windows; half clad people emerged from their houses, men slapping their braces on their shoulders as they ran out of doors; questions were shouted Into the dimness. Then the news went over the town. It was cried from yard to yard, from group to group, from gate to gale, and reached the furthermost confines. Run ners shouted It as they sped by, and boys panted It, breathless; women with loosened hair stumbled into darkling chambers and faltered It out to new wnkencd sleepers, and pale girls, clutch ing wraps at their throats, whispered It across fences. The sick, tossing on their hard beds, heard It. Tho bell clamored It far and near; It spread over the countryside, and it flew over tho wires to distant cities. The White Caps had got Mr. Harkless! Llgo Wllletts had lost track of him out near Briscoe's, It was said, and had come into town at midnight seeking him. He had found Parker, the Herald foreman, and Ross Schofleld, the type setter, and Hud Tlpworthy, the devil, at work in the printing office, but no sign of Harkless there or In the cot tage. Together these had sought for bun and had roused others who had In quired at every house where he might have gone for shelter, and they had heard nothing. They had watched for his coming during the slackening of the storm. He had not come, and there was no place he could have gone. Ho wns missing. Only one thing could have happened. They had roused up Warren Smith, the prosecutor, and Horner, the sher iff, and .lured Wiley, the deputy. Wil liam Todd had rung the alarm. It was agreed that the first thing to do was to find him. After that there would be trouble, If not before. It looked ns If there would bo trouble before. The men tramping up to the muddy square In their shirt sleeves wero bulgy about the right hips, and when Homer Tlbbs Joined Columbus Lundis at the hotel corner and Landls saw that Homer Was carrying a shotgun Landls wont tack for his. A hastily sworn posse galloped out Main street. Women and children ran Into neighbors' yards and bognn to cry. Day was coming, and ns the light grew men swore and sav agely kicked at the palings of fences as they ran by them. In the foreglow of dawn they gather ed In the square and listened to War ren Smith, who made a speech from tho courthouse fence and warned them to go slow. They answered him with angry shouts and hootlngs. But he made his big bass voice heard and lade them do nothing rash. No facta tvere known, ho said. It wiih fur from certain that harm had been done, and no one knew that the Six Crossroads people had done it, even if .something had happened to Mr. Hnrklcss. He de clared that he sjwke in Harkless' name. Nothing could distress him so much ns for them to defy the law, to take It out of the proper hands. Justice would be done. "Yes, It will!" shouted n mnn below him, brandishing tho butt of a ruwhldo whip above his head. "And whllo you Jaw on about It hero he may be tied up like a dog In the woods, shot full of boles by the men you never lifted a finger to bender, because you want their votes when you run for circuit Judge. What are we doin' hero? What's tho good of listening to you?" TJiero was a yell at this, and those who heard the speaker would probably have started for tho Crossroads had not n rumor sprung up which passed rapidly from mnn to man and in a few momentB had reached every person In tho crowd. Tho news came that tho two shell gamblers had wrenched a bar out of a window Jiudej; cover of the sforn'iT h"ndlroken Ja'if nnd 'were at large. Their threats of the day before were remembered now with convincing vividness. They had sworn repeatedly to Hardlock and to the sheriff and In the hearing of others that they would "do" for the man who had taken their mon ey from them and had them arrested. The prosecuting attorney, quickly per 1 celvlng the value of this complication I In holding back the mob that was al ready forming, called Horner from the crowd and made him get up on the fence and confess that his prisoners had escaped, at what time ho did not know, probably toward the beginning of the storm, when It was noisiest. "You see," cried the attorney, "there Is nothing as yet of which we can ac cuse the Crossroads. If our friend has been hurt It Is much more likely that these crooks did it. They escaped In time to do It, and we nit know they were laying for him. You want to be mighty careful, fellow citizens. Hor ner Is already In telegraphic communi cation with every town around here, and he'll have those men before night. All you've got to do Is to control your selves a little and go home quietly." Ho could see that his words (except those In reference to returning home no one was going home) made an im pression. There was a babble of shout ing and argument and swearing that grew louder and louder. Mr. Kphralm Walts, In spite of all confusion, dad us carefully as upon the preceding day, deliberately climbed the fence and stood by the lawyer and made a single steady gesture with his hand. He was listened to at once, as his respect for the law was less noto rious than his Irreverence for It, and he had been known In Carlow as ens tomailly a reckless man. They want ed Illegal and desperate advice and quieted down to hear It. He spoke In his professionally calm voice. "Gentlemen, It seems to mo that Mr. Smith and .Mr. Rlbshuw," nodding to tho man with the rawhide whip, "are both right. What good are we doing here? What we want to know is what's happened to Mr. Harkless. It looks Just now like the shell men might havo done It. Let's find out what they done. Scatter and hunt for him. Soon ns any thing's known for certain Illbbnrd's mill whistle will blow three times. Keep on looking till it does; then," ho finished, with n barely perceptible scornful smllo at the attorney "then wo can decide on what had ought be done." Six Crossroads lay dark and steam ing In the sun thnt morning. The forgo wns silent, the saloon locked up, the roadway deserted even by the pigs. The broken old buggy stood rotting in the mud without a single lean little old man or woman such were the chil dren of the Crossroads to play about It. Once, when the deputy sheriff rode through alone, a tattered black hound, more wolf than dog, half emerged, growling, from beneath one of the tumbledown barns and was Jerked back into the darkness by his tall, with a snarl flercwr than his own, whllo n gun barrel shone for a second as It swung for a stroke on tho brute's head. The hound did not yelp or whine when the blow fell. Ho shut his eyes twlco Und slunk sullenly back to his place. The shanties might have received a volley or two from some of the mount ed bands, exasperated by futile search ing, bad not the escape of Horner's, prisoners made tho guilt of tho Cross roads appear doubtful in the minds of many. As the morning waned tho nd-j vocates of the theory that the gam blers had made away with Harkless grew In number. There came a tele gram from the Itoueu chief of police that he had a clow to their whereabouts. He thought they had succeeded In reaching Rouen, nnd It. began to bo generally believed that they had es- They answered hm with anyril sho)iUs. enped by the 1 o'clock freight train which had stopped to take on some empty cars at a side track a mile north west of town, across the fields from tho Briscoe house. Toward noon n party wont out to examine tho rail road embankment. Men began to come back Into the vil lage for breakfast by twos and threes, but many kept on searching the woods, not feeling the need of food or caring If they did. Hvory grove nnd clump of underbrush, every thicket, was ran sacked. Tho waters of the creek, shal low .fop, tho most part, but swollen MMHMMWiMMMBWMNMM Bvornlght,' were H'fagged at'every pool. Nothing was found. There was not a sign. The bar of the hotel was thronged all morning as the returning citizens rapidly made their way thither, nnd those who had breakfasted and wero going out again paused for Internal as well as exl'M'tial re-enforcement. The landlord, himself returned from a long hunt, set out his whisky with a lavjsh hand, "He was the best man we had, boys," on Id Landls as he poured the litilo glasses full. "We'd ort of sent htm to the legislative halls of Washington long ago. He'd of done us honor there. But we never thought of doln' any thing for him. Jest set round und left him build up the town and give htm empty thankyes. Drink hearty, gen tlemen," ho finished gloomily. "I don't grudge 110 liquor today-except to Llgo Wllletts." "lie was u good man," said young William Todd, whose nose wns red, not rrom the whisky. "I've about give up." "It's golu' to seem mighty empty around here," said Ross ScholWd. "What's golu' to become o the Herald nnd the parly In this district? Whore's the man to run either of 'cm no.vV Like ns not," ho continued desperately, "It'll go against us In the fall." Dlbb Znno choked over his four flu gers. "We might's well bust up the dab dustul ole town ef bo's gone." "1 don't know what's come over that Cynthy Tlpworthy," said the landlord. "She's waited table on him last two years, and her brother Bud works at tho Herald office, she didn't say a word, only looked nnd looked nnd looked, like a crazy woman; then her nnd Hud went off together to hunt In the wootls. They Jest tuck hold of each other's hands, like" "I reckon there nln't many crnzler than them two Bowlders, father nnd son," Interrupted a patron, wiping tho drops from his beard as he sot his glass on the bar. "They rid Into town like a couple or wild Indians, tho old man beatln' that gray maro o thelrn till she was one big wait, nnd he nln't natcherly no cruel man cither. 1 ex pect Llgo Wllletts bettor keep out of Hartley's way." "I keep out of no man's way!" cried a voice behind him. Turning, they saw Llgo standing on the threshold of tho door that led to the street. In his hand ho held the bridle of the horse ho had ridden across the sidewalk and that now stood panting, with lowered head half through the doorway, besldo his master. Llgo was hatless, splashed with mud from head to foot; his Jaw was set, his teeth ground together, his eyes burned under red lids, und his hair lay tossed and damp on his brow. "I keep out of no man's way," ho re peated hoarsely. "I hoard you, Mr. Tlbbs. but I've got too much to do, while you loaf and gas and drink over Landls' bar. Pvo got other business than keepln' out of. Hart Bowlder's way. I'm lookln' for John Harkless. He wns tho best man wo hnd In this ornery hole, and he was too good for us, and so we've maybe let him got killed, und maybe I'm to blame. But I'm goln' to find htm, nnd if he's hurt I'm goln' to have a hand on the ropo that lifts the men that did it If I havo to go to Rouen to put It there. After that I'll answer for my fault, not be fore." He thrcwf himself on his horse nnd was gone. Soon the room emptied, as tho patrons of the bur returned to the search, and only Mr. Wllkerson nnd the landlord remained, tho bnr being tho professional office, so to speak, o both. At 11 o'clock Judge Brlscoo dropped wearily from his horse at his own gato and said to a wan girl who camo run ning down tho walk to meet hlnrn "There is nothing yet. I sent tho tel egram to your mother to Mrs. Sher wood." Helen turned away without answer ing. Her fa co was very white and looked pinched about the mouth. She went back to where old FIsbeo sat on the porch, his white head held between, his two hands. Ho was rocking hlm-i self to and fro. She touched him gen tly, but he did not look up. She spoko' to him. "Father," she said. He did not seem to hear her. "There Isn't anything yet. no sent the telegram. I shall stay with you now, no matter what you say." Sua sat beside him nnd put her head down on his shoulder, and, though for a mo ment lie appeared not to notlco it, when! Minnie came out on the porch, hearing, her father nt tho door, tho old man, had put his arm about tho girl and waa Stroking her fair hair softly. Brlscoo glanced at them nnd raised' n warning finger to his daughter, andl Ihey went tiptoeing Into tho house,! therc the judge dropped heavily upon1 h Hum. aiiiuiiu moon uuioro 111m wiiin a look of palo Inquiry, and ho shook niajjcau. (to he continued.) 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