There was scarcely any excitement among the passengers, so quickly was it over. While the robbery was in progress the wires from this station were flashing the news to headquarters. At a division of the railroad one hundred and fifty-six miles distant from the scene of the robbery, lived United States Marshal Bob Banks, whose success in pursuing criminals was not bounded by the State in which he lived. His reputation was in a large measure due to the successful use of bloodhounds. This officer’s calling compelled him to be both plainsman and mountaineer. He had the well-deserved reputation of being as unrelenting in the pursuit of criminals as death is in marking its victims.
Within half an hour after the robbery was reported at headquarters, an engine had coupled to a caboose at the division where the marshal lived. He was equally hasty. To gather his arms and get his dogs aboard the caboose required but a few moments’ time.
Everything ready, they pulled out with a clear track to their destination. Heavy traffic in coal had almost ruined the road-bed, but engine and caboose flew over it regardless of its condition. Halfway to their destination the marshal was joined by several officials, both railway and express. From there the train turned westward, up the valley of the Arkansas. Here was a track and an occasion that gave the most daring engineer license to throw the throttle wide open.
The climax of this night’s run was through the Grand Canon of the Arkansas. Into this gash in the earth’s surface plunged the engineer, as though it were an easy stretch of down-grade prairie. As the engine rounded turns, the headlight threw its rays up serried columns of granite half a mile high,—columns that rear their height in grotesque form and Gothic arch, polished by the waters of ages.
As the officials agreed, after a full discussion with the marshal of every phase and possibility of capture, the hope of this night’s work and the punishment of the robbers rested almost entirely on three dogs lying on the floor, and, as the rocking of the car disturbed them, growling in their dreams. In their helplessness to cope with this outrage, they turned to these dumb animals as a welcome ally. Under the guidance of their master they were an aid whose value he well understood. Their sense of smell was more reliable than the sense of seeing in man. You can believe the dog when you doubt your own eyes. His opinion is unquestionably correct.
As the train left the canon it was but a short run to the scene of the depredation. During the night the few people who resided at this station were kept busy getting together saddle-horses for the officer’s posse. This was not easily done, as there were few horses at the station, while the horses of near-by ranches were turned loose in the open range for the night. However, upon the arrival of the train, Banks and the express people found mounts awaiting them to carry them to the place of the hold-up.