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- Jim Cummings - 20/26 -


in each hand, Swanson appeared before the surprised robbers.

The dim light of the fire showed the picture open, and befogged as his brain was by the whisky, he realized he was being robbed, and with a roar like a mad bull he sprang upon Cummings.

Swift as a flash Cummings' fist, sent forward with all the force of his powerful frame, struck the ranchman under the ear, and tossing his arms above his head he fell like a dead man on the floor.

The sound of many feet hurrying to the scene was heard and, leaving the bag which he was about to take when Swanson sprang on him, Cummings bolted through the door, vaulted on his horse and followed closely by his companions, rushed swiftly into the darkness. It was none too soon, for at once a half score of men poured from the house, and the vicious snap of the rifles, followed by the pin-n-n-g of the bullets, as they cut the air close to their heads, caused the four men to drive their spurs into their ponies until the blood dropped from their lacerated flanks.

Galloping swiftly to where the herding ponies were tethered, Cummings sprang from his horse and, whipping out his keen bowie knife, cut lariat after lariat, stampeding the whole herd. This done he remounted his horse, saying,

"NOW, we can take our time. They won't get a horse to saddle under an hour," cantered off with an easy, strength-saving gait.

"Curse that Swanson," broke in Cummings, after riding in silence a few moments. "Curse him, he kept me from making an extra ten thousand by his cursed appearance."

Neither the Doctor nor Scip replied to this outburst from the disappointed outlaw. The time for action was coming, and as fast as their horses could gallop, the two outlaws were riding toward the trap laid for them. Leaning forward, with the skill of an expert pickpocket, Scip drew the revolver from the holster on Cummings' saddle, and dropped it in the dry grass which bordered the trail. Watching his opportunity, he pushed his horse against Moriarity, and in the slight confusion caused by the collision, he managed to obtain Dan's revolver in the same way. A whisper told the doctor that this had been done, and the disguised detectives each rode beside the man which they were to capture, the Doctor keeping his eye on Cummings and Scip ready to pull Moriarity off his horse at the proper time.

On the other side of the river, or divide, dark shadows stood under the few cottonwood trees, motionless and quiet as the grave, their ears strained to catch the first sound of their quarry, and their hands grasping the ready revolver.

The far-off sound of galloping horses warned them that the time to act had come, and soon the splashing of the water in the creek told them to stand ready.

The voice of Scip was heard saying in loud tones:

"Heah's de trail, gemmen, ovah dis yah way."

The scurry of hoofs as the horses clambered up the steep banks, the low- spoken words of encouragement which were given their steeds by the robbers, and suddenly the shrill whistle giving the long-looked-for signal rang out on the still air.

As Scip gave the whistle he passed his arm around Moriarity, saying:

"Dan Moriarity, you are my prisoner."

His words were instantly followed by the rush of the detectives who had been lying in ambush, and Moriarity, taken completely by surprise, threw his hands above his head in token of surrender, and then passively submitted to having the darbies snapped on his wrists.

Cummings, at the first note of the vibrating signal, had his eyes opened. His hand flew to his holster, and the mocking laugh of the detective followed the discovery that his revolver was gone.

Sam laid his hand on the outlaw's shoulder, and pressing his revolver against his head, called on him to surrender.

Throwing his hands over his head as Moriarity had done, he suddenly brought his clinched fists full against Sam's temple, putting into the blow the strength of three men. Without a groan the detective's head sank forward, his revolver dropped from his nerveless grasp, and he lay unconscious on his horse's back.

A yell of exultation, and Cummings, turning his horse, dashed down the bank, through the stream, and disappeared in the darkness on the other side.

Instantly the detectives followed, leaving two men to guard Moriarity, for in the darkness Sam's condition was not noticed, but seeing the folly of attempting a pursuit in so dark a night, Chip's whistle recalled them, and the chagrined and disappointed operatives gathered around the cottonwood trees.

Sam, who had merely been stunned, soon recovered, and with the aid of some brandy Richard was himself once more.

The notorious Jim Cummings had escaped, but two of his accomplices, Cook and Moriarity, were in the clutches of the law.

Dan maintained a dogged silence as the cavalcade cantered toward Kansas City, nor did he speak a word until he was safe behind the bars in that city.

"You have caught me by a dirty, shabby trick, but you will never lay your hands on Jim Cummings," he boasted.

To this Chip replied with a smile, "We'll see, Daniel, we'll see. Make yourself comfortable, for you will stay here a good long time, my cock robin."

A growl and a curse was all that Dan deigned to answer, and turning on his heel Chip left the prison.

Mr. Pinkerton, who had received almost daily reports of what had occurred, which reports Chip had contrived to mail through some one of the detectives disguised as cowboys, now telegraphed that he would be in Kansas City the following night. Chip and Sam met him at the railway station and he accompanied them to Chip's room.

A full and detailed recital of all that occurred was given him by his subordinates, who then put the case in his hands.

"Boys," he said, "we must get one of these men, either Cook or Moriarity, to squeal."

"They are both afraid of Jim Cummings, I can see that in every word they speak," said Chip, "they would rather go to Jefferson City than to turn State's evidence."

"We must work on them in some other manner, then. Sam," turning to the detective, "are you a good hand at forgery?"

"I can imitate most any one's handwriting," said Sam. "Sit down and I will dictate a letter to you."

Sam, taking some paper from the table, wrote as Mr. Pinkerton dictated.

MR. WILLIAM PINKERTON:

DEAR SIR--The letter I wrote to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat is all correct, excepting that I did not tell who plugged the bell-cord. The man, Dan Moriarity, who is now under arrest in Kansas City, was the man who did it. He also forged the order which I gave to the messenger Fotheringham, and was the one who planned the robbery. I make this statement, relying on your word of honor to secure me a light sentence if I turn State's evidence and give information leading to the recovery of the money which I secured.

Yours truly, JIM CUMMINGS.

Mr. Pinkerton, taking from his pocket-book the train robber's letter which he wrote to the St. Louis newspaper, handed it to Sam.

"There is a letter in Jim's handwriting. Now sit down and write this letter in the same hand."

In an hour the detective had completed his work and laid the forged letter before his superior. It was cleverly done, and Mr. Pinkerton felt satisfied.

"Now for the jail," he said, and accompanied by his two "bowers," as he often called them, he left the room and walked to the Kansas City jail.

CHAPTER XVI.

MORIARITY IN THE SWEAT-BOX--THE SUCCESS OF THE FORGED LETTER--MORIARITY CONFESSES.

Dan Moriarity, seated on a bare plank bench in his cell, was passing away the weary hours in figuring how he was to get out of the bad scrape into which he had plunged. He was now fully satisfied that the detectives were very certain that he had a hand in the express-car robbery--but how did they get hold of that dangerous fact? Not through Cook, for since his incarceration in the jail Dan had talked with Cook in the corridors, and Cook had sworn by all that was good and holy that he had not divulged a single word, and knowing that Cook stood in mortal fear of Cummings, as did he himself, Dan believed him.

It was not at all probable that either Haight or Weaver had given the thing away in Chicago, for Dan knew from Cummings that they had not been disturbed, and Cummings had not, or would not have given any information. Then how did the cursed "man-hunters" find out that he had helped in the affair?

Dan was busily engaged in trying to solve this knotty question when the bailiff in charge entered the door and told Dan to follow him to the office.

When Dan reached the room he found three gentlemen awaiting him, all strange faces to the robber. The eldest of the three, as he came in, pointed to a chair, and with commanding brevity and in a tone which indicated that he was used to being obeyed, told him to sit down.

The full glare of the light streaming in through the window fell full


Jim Cummings - 20/26

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