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- Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective - 3/44 -


"I've a right to be. I---"

Then the young man ceased to speak suddenly, and his face became deeply suffused.

The woman sprang up then and went to the young man's side, laying her hand on his shoulder.

"Watson, tell me truly that you don't know who committed this crime."

"Bother!" and he flung her hand from his shoulder with an impatient movement. "I hope you ain't going to turn good all to once, Madge Scarlet. I tell you, thirty thousand dollars ain't to be sneezed at, and I do need money--but of course _I_ don't know a thing about who did it, of course not; but I can tell you one thing, old lady, Dyke Barrel is on the trail, and he is even now in Chicago."

"Dyke Darrel!"

"That's who, Madam."

For some moments a silence fell over the two that was absolutely painful. At length the woman found her voice.

"Dyke Barrel! Ah! fiend of Missouri, I have good cause to remember you and your work. Do you know, Watson, the fate of your poor uncle?"

"Well, I should smile if I didn't," answered the young man. "He died in a Missouri dungeon, sent there by this same Dyke Darrel, the railroad man-tracker. Hate him? Of course you do, but not as I do. I have sworn to have revenge for the five years I laid in a dungeon for shoving the queer."

"And Dyke Darrel is now in Chicago?"

"Yes. I parted from him not an hour since."

"What is he here for?"

"The crime on the midnight express brings him here."

"And you saw and talked with him?"

"I did."

"He recognized you of course?"

"No, he did not; that is the best of it. I am to meet him again to- night. It won't be long before the man who sent Uncle Dan to a Missouri dungeon is in your presence, and you shall do with him as you like, Madge Scarlet."

"As I like?"

"I have said it."

"Then Dyke Darrel shall die!"

"That's the talk," Madge. "THAT sounds like your old self; I am glad you have come to your senses. If Nick and Sam come in, tell them to be in readiness to receive a visitor."

Then the young man turned on his heel and abruptly left the room. Just as the shades of night were falling Watson Wilks peered into the saloon and restaurant where he had parted from Dyke Darrel earlier in the day.

He saw nothing of the detective.

"It is time he was here," muttered the young man. "Dyke Darrel is generally prompt in filling engagements."

"Always prompt, MARTIN SKIDWAY!"

The young villain staggered back against the iron railing near, as though stricken a blow in the face.

Unconsciously he had uttered his thoughts aloud, and the voice that uttered the reply was hissed almost in his ear.

Dyke Darrel stood before him.

The detective's face wore a stern look, which was suddenly discarded for a smile.

"I am prompt in filling engagements," said Darrel, after a moment. "You see I have at last recognized you, and the walls of the prison from which you escaped shall again envelop you."

And then a sharp click was heard. The fraudulent brakeman held up his arms helplessly--they were safely secured with handcuffs!

CHAPTER III.

PROFESSOR DARLINGTON RUGGLES.

It would be hard to find a more completely astounded person than the one calling himself Watson Wilks at that moment.

The noted detective had outwitted him completely.

It was humiliating, to say the least.

"This is an outrage!" at length the young villain found voice to utter. "I will call on the police for assistance if you do not at once remove these bracelets."

"Do so if you like," answered Dyke Darrel, coolly; so icily in fact as to deter the young man from carrying out his threat. It might be that the detective would delight in turning him over to the Chicago police, a consummation that the fellow dreaded more than aught else.

"Come with me, and make no trouble. You will do so, if you know when you are well off," said Dyke Darrel significantly.

And Wilks walked along peacefully, allowing the sleeves of his coat to hide the handcuffs. After going a few blocks, the detective hailed a hack, and pushing his prisoner before him, entered and ordered the driver to make all speed for the Union depot.

"What does this mean?" demanded the prisoner, with assumed indignation.

"It means that you will take a trip South for your health, my friend."

"To St. Louis?"

"You have guessed it, Skidway."

A troubled look touched the face of the escaped prisoner.

"Why do you call me by that name, Dyke Darrel?"

"Because that IS your name. You have five years unexpired term yet to serve in the Missouri penitentiary, and I conceive it my duty to see that you keep the contract."

"A contract necessarily requires two parties. I never agreed to serve the State."

"Well, we won't argue the point."

"But I am in the employ of the railroad company, and will lose my place---"

"You gain another one, so it doesn't matter," retorted the detective. "No use making a fuss, Mr. Skidway; you cannot evade the punishment which awaits you. Any confession you choose to make I am willing to hear. The late tragedy, for instance?"

"You'll get nothing out of me."

"I am sorry,"

"Of course you are. Did you recognize me when we first met?"

"No. It was an afterthought."

"I thought so. You shall suffer for this. You've got the wrong man, Mr. Darrel."

"You seem to know me."

"Everybody does."

"You flatter me."

"My name isn't Skidway, but Wilks, and I can prove it."

"Do so."

"Release me and I will."

"I'm not that green."

The prisoner muttered angrily. He realized that he was fairly caught, and that it was too late now to think of deceiving the famous detective.

Dyke Darrel had recognized in the young man calling himself Watson Wilks an old offender, who had made his escape from the Missouri State prison three months before, and he at once surmised that the young counterfeiter, who was a hard case, might have had a hand in the murder and robbery of the express messenger. Reasoning thus, the detective decided upon promptly arresting the fellow before proceeding to search further. It would be safer to have Skidway in prison than at large in any event.

More than one pair of eyes had watched the departure of Dyke Darrel and his prisoner from Chicago, and a little later a bearded man, with deep-set, twinkling eyes, and the general look of a hard pet, thrust his head into Madge Scarlet's little room, and said:

"It are all up with the kid, Mrs. Scarlet."

"What's that you say?"


Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective - 3/44

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