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- Jim Cummings - 10/26 -
Another second and the face had disappeared.
Cummings stopped abruptly at the sight of the apparition, his face became livid, and a shade of terror flashed across his countenance. It was but an instant, though, that he stood thus, and calling to Moriarity to follow, he dashed through the door, drawing his ready revolver from his side coat-pocket at the same time, and catching a fleeting glimpse of a flying shadow, sped after it.
Moriarity, somewhat dazed at the unexpected turn of affairs, had risen to his feet, and stood blankly gazing at the open door, not comprehending what had occurred. A movement made by the pseudo tramp, caused him to turn around, and he was gazing straight into the open barrel of a dangerous-looking revolver, held by a steady hand, and cool daring eyes were glancing over the shining barrel, as a voice, decided and commanding, said:
"Hands out, Dan Moriarity, I want you."
Chip, as he was stretched on the floor feigning drunkenness, had kept his ears open, although obliged to keep his eyes closed.
The single candle which lit the room, furnished light too indistinct for him to see the faces of the two visitors, and as he acted his character of the drunken man, he cudgeled his brains to account for their visit.
The sudden disappearance of Cummings, and his calling out, "Moriarity, follow me," cleared the mystery.
He comprehended the situation at once.
While he did not know it was Jim Cummings that had been in the room, his mind with lightning speed grouped the torn express tag, the words "it to Cook," the man Cook, who lay beside him drunk, the fifty-dollar bill which he had changed at the bar-room, together with Dan Moriarity, and quick to reach his conclusions, he saw that it was the Moriarity he wanted, accompanied by some one who had come to see Cook.
Half opening his eyes he saw that Moriarity was standing up, nonplussed at something, and instantly he drew his revolver, and as Moriarity turned around covered him and ordered him to hold out his hands.
Staggered again the second time by seeing a ragged tramp, who a few seconds before was stretched at his feet in a drunken slumber, now erect, perfectly sober, and having the drop on him, Moriarity became more bewildered, and passively held out his hands.
The sharp click of steel handcuffs brought the dazed man to his senses, but too late.
He opened his mouth to cry for aid, but a strong hand was laid on his wind-pipe and the cry died before it was born.
The cold barrel of the revolver against his ear, and the detective's "shut up or I'll shoot," was too strong an argument to combat, and Moriarity submitted to being pushed hurriedly from the room into the open air and dark night.
Chip was beginning to congratulate himself on the important capture he had made, and with his hand on his captive's collar, and his revolver to his ear, was moving towards the center of the street, when a whistling "swish" was heard, the dull thud of a slung shot on the detective's head followed, and, every muscle relaxed, he sank a senseless man in the dust of the road.
"Help me pick him up," said Cummings, "and be quick about it, there's another beak around."
"I can't. I've got his darbies on."
Cummings stooped down, and lifting Chip in his arms, walked rapidly down the road toward the river.
"What are you going to do with him, Jim?"
"Chuck him through the ice. He knows too much."
With the senseless man in his arms, Cummings hurried forward, nor paused until he reached the river bank.
The weather had been piercingly cold for a week, although no snow had fallen, and the river was frozen solid from bank to bank.
To this fact Chip owed his life. When the train robber came to the ice, he sounded it with his heel. It was solid and firm, not even an air hole to be seen.
Baffled in his murderous designs, he debated for a second whether it would not be the best thing to leave the detective on the ice, and let him freeze to death, but the publicity of the place, its proximity to the city, and the risk of having been shadowed by the man whom he had caught gazing through the window, caused him to think of some secure place wherein to put the senseless Chip. He first searched the wounded man's pockets, and, finding the key, released the handcuffs from Moriarity.
The latter, seeing Cummings hesitate, and divining the cause, said in a questioning voice:
"Why not take him to the widow's, Jim?"
"I would a damned sight rather put him through the ice, but its too thick for me. Do you think we can carry him between us?"
"It would never do to let people see us two with a dead man between us."
"Then you must go up town and get a hack."
Moriarity turned back to the shore, and climbing the bank, hurried in the direction of the city.
Left alone with his victim, the desperado bent over him, placing his hand on Chip's heart. It beat steadily, though not strongly, and Cummings experienced a feeling of relief when he felt the regular pulsations,
He had never yet shed blood, and his first passion having died out, he was glad that the thick ice had defeated his first purpose.
The stunned detective stirred, the cold, crisp air was reviving him, and Cummings, his better nature asserting itself, hastily doffed his overcoat and threw it over the recumbent form of his captive.
It was not very long before the noise of carriage wheels were heard, and Moriarity running out on the ice assisted Cummings in carrying Chip to the land and placed him in the carriage, which he had caught on the way to town.
The driver, who had been told that "one of the boys had got more than he could carry," did not concern himself to investigate too closely, and having received his order, drove briskly from the scene.
The darkness and open country gave way to gas-lights and paved streets, over which the carriage rattled at a lively pace. Turning into a side street, Dan pulled the check-strap, and the carriage turned to the curb and stopped.
The detective, still unconscious, was lifted out, the driver paid and dismissed, and the two men, bearing Chip between them, entered a dark, narrow alley.
Proceeding up this for some distance, they entered the low door of a basement and placed their still insensible burden on the floor.
The damp, moldy smell of an underground room filled the air, and but for a slender beam of light which flashed beneath an adjoining door the place was dark as night.
Softly stealing to the door, Moriarity applied his ear to the key-hole, and hearing no sounds within, gave a peculiar double rap on the panel.
Receiving no answer, he cautiously opened the door and disclosed a small, square room, having a low ceiling, and lighted by a single low- burning gas jet.
On the walls hung a large astronomical map, showing the solar system, and divided with the girdle of the zodiac into its various constellations.
A grinning skull, mounted on a black pedestal, stood on a small table in the center of the room, and on shelves against the wall were ranged a number of curiously-shaped bottles.
It was, in fact, the divining-room of a professional fortune-teller.
The room was vacant when Moriarity opened the door, but as he threw it back, a small bell was sounded.
Almost instantly heavy curtains which hung opposite the door were pushed aside, and the fortune-teller appeared.
Advancing with stately strides, her tall form erect and her hands clasped before her, she fastened a pair of cruel, glittering eyes on Moriarity and in a deep voice asked:
"Why this intrusion at this late hour?"
"Oh! drop that stuff, Nance; it won't go down with us; we're no gulls to have pretty things told us by giving you a dollar."
Recognizing her visitor, Nance, in her natural tone, inquired sharply:
"What do you want at this time of night?"
"In the first place we want you to keep your mouth shut. In the next place you must find a place for a man we've got here, and keep him for a while."
"You're a loving nephew, you are, Dan Moriarity, Oh! you come around and see your old aunt when you're up to some devilment, I'm bound."
Moriarity, not deigning to reply to this speech, had gone back to his companion, and now returned with the form of the detective between them.
"My God! you haven't killed him, Dan?"
"He has a pretty sore head, I reckon, but nothing worse. Take us up- stairs."
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