The morning after the “great pavilion robbery,” as it was called in the Banner, Anderson Crow and Bonner fared forth early to have a look at the injured desperadoes, all of whom were safely under guard at the reincarnated calaboose. Fifty armed men had stood guard all night long, notwithstanding the fact that one robber was dead and the others so badly injured that they were not expected to survive the day.
A horseman passed the marshal and his friend near the post-office, riding rapidly to the north. He waved his crop pleasantly to them and Bonner responded. Anderson stopped stock still and tried to speak, but did not succeed for a full minute; he was dumb with excitement.
“That’s him!” he managed to gasp. “The feller I saw the other day—the man on horseback!”
“That?” cried Bonner, laughing heartily. “Why, that is John E. Barnes, the lawyer and probably a United States Senator some day. Good heavens, Mr. Crow, you’ve made a bad guess of it this time! He is staying with Judge Brewster, his father-in-law.”
“What! Well, by Geminy! I thought I knowed him,” cried Anderson. “They cain’t fool me long, Wick—none of ’em. He’s the same feller ’at run away with Judge Brewster’s daughter more’n twenty year ago. ’y Gosh, I was standin’ right on this very spot the first time I ever see him. He sold me a hoss and buggy—but I got the money back. I arrested him the same day.”
“Arrested John Barnes?” in amazement.
“Yep—fer murder—only he wasn’t the murderer. We follered him down the river—him an’ the girl—to Bracken’s place, but they were married afore we got there. Doggone, that was a busy day! Some blamed good detective work was did, too. I—”
“And Mr. Barnes was interested in Rosalie?” asked Bonner suddenly. “How could he have known anything about her?”
“That’s what puzzles me. She came here about two years after the elopement more er less, but I don’t remember ever seein’ him after that time.”
“It’s very strange, Mr. Crow,” reflected Bonner soberly. “He has a son, I know. His wife died a year or so after the boy’s birth. Young Barnes is about twenty-one, I think at this time. By George! I’ve heard it said that Barnes and his wife were not hitting it off very well. They say she died of a broken heart. I’ve heard mother speak of it often. I wonder—great heavens, it isn’t possible that Rosalie can be connected in any way with John Barnes? Anderson Crow, I—I wonder if there is a possibility?” Bonner was quivering with excitement, wonder—and—unbelief.
“I’m workin’ on that clew,” said Anderson as calmly as his tremors would permit. He was thrilled by the mere suggestion, but it was second nature for him to act as if every discovery were his own. “Ever sence I saw him on the road up there, I’ve been trackin’ him. I tell you, Wick, he’s my man. I’ve got it almost worked out. Just as soon as these blamed robbers are moved to Boggs City, er buried, I’m goin’ over an’ git the truth out of Mr. Barnes. I’ve been huntin’ him fer twenty-one years.” Anderson, of course, was forgetting that Barnes had slipped from his mind completely until Bonner nudged his memory into life.