“Where the dickens are you a-goin’?” wheezed the marshal, kicking up a great dust in the rear. The other did not answer. His whole soul was enveloped in the hope that the washout had trapped the robbers. He was almost praying that it might be so. The reward could be divided with the poor old marshal if—
He gave a yell of delight, an instant later, and then began jumping straight up and down like one demented. Anderson Crow stopped so abruptly that his knees were stiff for weeks. Jackie Blake’s wild dream had come true. The huge automobile had struck the washout, and it was now lying at the base of the bluff, smashed to pieces on the rocks! By the dim light from the heavens, Blake could see the black hulk down there, but it was too dark to distinguish other objects. He was about to descend to the river bank when Anderson Crow came up.
“What’s the matter, man?” panted he.
“They’re down there, don’t you see it? They went over the bluff right here—come on. We’ve got ’em!”
“Hold on!” exclaimed Anderson, grasping his arm. “Don’t rush down there like a danged fool. If they’re alive they can plug you full of bullets in no time. Let’s be careful.”
“By thunder, you’re right. You’re a wise old owl, after all. I never thought of that. Let’s reconnoitre.”
Tingling with excitement, the two oddly mated pursuers descended stealthily by a roundabout way. They climbed over rocks and crept through underbrush until finally they came to a clear spot not twenty feet from where the great machine was lying, at the very edge of the swift, deep current. They heard groans and faint cries, with now and then a piteous oath. From their hiding place they counted the forms of four men lying upon the rocks, as if dead. The two held a whispered consultation of war, a plan of action resulting.
“Surrender!” shouted Jackie Blake, standing forth. He and Anderson had their pistols levelled upon the prostrate robbers. For answer there were louder groans, a fiercer oath or two and then a weak, pain-struck voice came out to them:
“For God’s sake, get this machine off my legs. I’m dying. Help! Help! We surrender!”
Ten minutes later, the jubilant captors had released the miserable Andrew Gregory from his position beneath the machine, and had successfully bound the hands and feet of five half-unconscious men. Gregory’s legs were crushed and one other’s skull was cracked. The sixth man was nowhere to be found. The disaster had been complete, the downfall of the great train robbers inglorious. Looking up into the face of Anderson Crow, Gregory smiled through his pain and said hoarsely:
“Damned rotten luck; but if we had to be taken, I’m glad you did it, Crow. You’re a good fool, anyway. But for God’s sake, get me to a doctor.”
“Dang it! I’m sorry fer you, Mr. Gregory—” began Anderson, ready to cry.
“Don’t waste your time, old man. I need the doctor. Are the others dead?” he groaned.