Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- Jim Cummings - 5/26 -
of the headlight of the approaching engine, as it shot around the curve, caused both men to lose their hold and spring from the track. The strong, clear light flooded both with its brilliancy, and in that instant mutual recognition took place.
The train swept by, and the darkness again settled around the late combatants.
Cummings was the first to speak.
"How the devil did you get here, Dan?"
"Just what I was going to ask you, Fred."
"Then you didn't get my letter?"
"I wrote you from Chicago, to be on hand at the 'plant' to-night."
"Did you send it to Leavenworth?"
"I am on my way there now. Got busted in St, Louis, couldn't make a raise, and I commenced to count ties for Leavenworth."
"Yes, then you took me for some jay, and tried to hold me up. It's lucky I met you, I need you."
"Any money in it?"
"Slathers of it."
"What's your lay?"
Cummings hesitated a minute before replying, and then said:
"Dan! you went back on me once, I don't know that I can trust you, you are too--"
"Trust me! You give Dan Moriarity a chance to cover some tin, and he's yours, body and soul."
"What's your price to help me, and keep your mouth shut?"
"It's a go," and Cummings held out his hand.
The compact was thus sealed, and lighting a match, Cummings commenced to look for his valise.
It had, fortunately, fallen outside the rails, and picking it up, Cummings led the way, followed by the somewhat surprised and still more curious Moriarity.
At this point on the Missouri river, the bluffs rise abruptly from the banks. The railroad, winding around the curves, was literally hewn from the solid rock. Deep gullies and ravines, starting from the water, Intersected all portions of the country, and the thick underbrush made this place a safe and secure hiding-place for fugitives from justice, river pirates and moonshiners.
Cummings, at a point where one of these gullies branched off from the railroad, turned into it, and with confident steps, followed closely by Moriarity, scaled the rocky precipice. Half way up the toilsome ascent, he halted, and placing his fingers in his mouth, gave three shrill whistles. Two short, and one long drawn sounds.
It was immediately answered; and in an instant, a flaming torch sprang into view, and almost as quickly was extinguished.
A short climb, and turning sharply to the right, Cummings again stopped. The signal, repeated softly, was answered by a voice asking:
"Who comes there?"
To which Cummings replied:
"It is I, be not afraid," at the same time poking Moriarity in the ribs, and chuckling:
"I haven't forgotten my Bible yet, eh, Dan?"
A blanket was lifted to one side, and disclosed to view the entrance to a natural cave, into the wall of which was stuck a naming, pitch-pine knot. Entering, the blanket was dropped, and preceded by a man, whose features the fitful glare of the torch failed to reveal, the two adventurers were ushered into the main portion of the cavern.
In one corner the copper kettle and coiled worm of a whisky still told it was the abode of an illicit distiller, or a "moonshiner."
A large fire cast a ruddy glow over the cave, and blankets and cooking utensils were scattered about. As the guide stepped into the light, he turned around, his eyes first falling on the well-stuffed valise and then upon Cummings' face, which wore such an expression of success and satisfaction that he exclaimed, as he held out his hand:
"By the ghost of Jesse James, you did it, old man."
"This looks like it, don't it?" said the successful express-car robber, holding his valise to the light. "Don't you know this man, Haight?"
"Damme, if it isn't Dan Moriarity."
"The same old penny--Haight," and Moriarity clasped his hand.
Haight, as host, did the honors. An empty flour barrel, covered by a square board, made an acceptable table. Small whisky barrels did duty as chairs, and a substantial repast of boiled fish, partridges and gray squirrels, supplemented with steaming glasses of hot toddy, satisfied the inner man, and, for a time, caused them to forget the exciting train of events through which they had just passed.
After their hunger had been appeased pipes were lit, and the fragrant glass of spirits, filled to the brim, were placed conveniently and seductively near at hand.
Cummings then related, in detail, his night's exploit and ended by opening the valise and taking out the packages of currency which it contained. It was a strange picture to gaze upon. The fire-lit cave, shrouded outside with mystery and darkness, but its heart alive with light and warmth; the rude appliances and paraphernalia for distilling the contraband "mountain dew"; the floor strewn with blankets, cooking- tins, a rifle or two, and provisions, while, bathed in the warm glow of the cheerful fire, secure from pursuit and comfortably housed from the weather, the three men, with greedy eyes, drank in the enchanting vision of luxurious wealth, which lay, bound in its neat wrappers, upon the floor of the cave.
Not one of these men could be classed with professional criminals, Moriarity, perhaps, had several times done some "fine work," but was unknown in the strata of crime, and was never seen in the society of "experts."
His attack upon Cummings could be called his debut, just as Cummings' late success could be looked on as his first definite step within the portals of outlawry and crime. Haight, as an accessory to the robbery, had hardly taken his first plunge. Some time before this these same men, with others, had planned an extensive robbery on the same line, but Moriarity weakened at the last moment and the whole thing fell through. It was this incident which caused Cummings to doubt his trustworthiness. Still Moriarity had a certain amount of bull courage, of which Cummings was aware, and if his palm was but crossed by the almighty dollar he would be a valuable ally. For this reason Cummings had taken him again into his confidence.
For some moments the three men sat silently puffing their pipes and picturing the delight of spending their ill-gotten booty, when Cummings, rising from his seat, placed the money on the table and cut the strings which bound it together.
A hasty count revealed $53,000 in currency and about $40,000 in bonds, mortgage deeds, and other unconvertible valuables.
He had evidently fully considered his plans, and without any previous beating around the bush, proceeded to execute them.
Opening a package of smaller bills he divided it into three parts, giving Haight and Moriarity each a share. The remainder of the plunder he again divided into three portions, and taking the larger one for himself, proceeded to wrap it and tie it securely; his companions, taking their cue from him, doing likewise.
"Boys," he then said, "as soon as the robbery is discovered the company will turn hell itself upside down to find it. Pinkerton will be on our trail in forty-eight hours. The first thing they will do will be to suspect the messenger. He will be arrested, and while they are monkeying with him we must get out of the way. I told the poor devil I would write a letter to some paper, I think I said the Globe-Democrat, which would clear him, but we must make ourselves safe first.
"Dan, you must get to Leavenworth, find Cook, and have him plant what you have. Haight will go to Chicago and know what to do, while I--well- -I am going south for my health."
Stopping abruptly he drew his revolver, and stepping up to Moriarity, placed the cold muzzle to his temple. His eyes, cold as steel and sharp as an arrow, were fastened upon Dan's very heart, and speaking with terrible earnestness, he said:
"Dan Moriarity, if ever you break faith with me, I'll kill you like a cur, so help me God!"
Moriarity stood the ordeal without flinching, and holding his right hand above his head, took a solemn oath never to betray, by word or deed, the trust which had been placed in him.
Without another word each man carefully placed his particular charge securely about his person. Every scrap of paper was gathered up, and, after extinguishing the fire, the three men left the cave, and in the dawn of the early morning descended to the railroad track.
Hands were shaken, the last words of advice given, and Cummings plunged
Previous Page Next Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 26
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything