“Down by them willer trees, ’bout half a mile down. There’s the skift tied to a saplin’. Cain’t you see it?”
Sure enough, the stern of a small boat stuck out into the deep, broad river, the bow being hidden by the bushes.
“Both of ’em hurried up the hill over yender, an’ that’s the last I seen of ’em,” concluded the lad.
Anderson Crow and his man-hunters stared helplessly at the broad, swift river, and then looked at each other in despair. There was no boat in sight except the murderer’s, and there was no bridge within ten miles.
While they were growling a belated detachment of hunters came up to the river bank greatly agitated.
“A telephone message has just come to town sayin’ there would be a thousand dollars reward,” announced one of the late arrivals; and instantly there was an imperative demand for boats.
“There’s an old raft upstream a-ways,” said the boy, “but I don’t know how many it will kerry. They use it to pole corn over from Mr. Knoblock’s farm to them big summer places in the hills up yender.”
“Is it sound?” demanded Anderson Crow.
“Must be or they wouldn’t use it,” said Squires sarcastically. “Where is it, kid?”
The boy led the way up the river bank, the whole company trailing behind.
“Sh! Not too loud,” cautioned Anderson Crow. Fifteen minutes later a wobbly craft put out to sea, manned by a picked crew of determined citizens of Tinkletown. When they were in midstream a loud cry came from the bank they had left behind. Looking back, Anderson Crow saw excited men dashing about, most of them pointing excitedly up into the hills across the river. After a diligent search the eyes of the men on the raft saw what it was that had created such a stir at the base of Crow’s Cliff.
“There he is!” cried Anderson Crow in awed tones. There was no mistaking the identity of the coatless man on the hillside. A dozen men recognised him as the man they were after. Putting his hands to his mouth, Anderson Crow bellowed in tones that savoured more of fright than command:
There was no response.
“Will you surrender peaceably?” called the captain of the craft.
There was a moment of indecision on the part of the fugitive. He looked at his companion, and she shook her head—they all saw her do it.
Then he shouted back his reply.
[Illustration: Then he shouted back his reply]
“Ship ahoy!” shouted the coatless stranger between his palms.
“Surrender or we’ll fill you full of lead!” called Anderson Crow.
“Who are you—pirates?” responded the fugitive with a laugh that chilled the marrow of the men on the raft.
“I’ll show you who we are!” bellowed Anderson Crow. “Send her ashore, boys, fast. The derned scamp sha’n’t escape us. Dead er alive, we must have him.”