“Now, I demand an explanation of this outrage,” said Jack Barnes savagely. “What do you mean by shooting at me and my—my wife and arresting us, and all that?”
“You’ll find out soon enough when you’re strung up fer it,” snarled Anderson Crow. “An’ you’ll please hand over that money I paid fer the hoss and buggy. I’ll learn you how to sell stolen property to me.”
“Oh, I’m a horse-thief, am I? This is rich. And they’ll string me up, eh? Next thing you’ll be accusing me of killing that farmer up near Boggs City.”
“Well, by gosh! you’re a cool one!” ejaculated Anderson Crow. “I s’pose you’re goin’ ter try the insanity dodge.”
“It’s lucky for me that they caught him,” said Barnes as the herd of prisoners moved off toward the string of boats tied to Mr. Bracken’s wharf.
“Come off!” exclaimed Squires, the reporter, scornfully. “We’re onto you, all right, all right.”
“What! Do you think I’m the man who—well, holy mackerel! Say, you gravestones, don’t you ever hear any news out here? Wake up! They caught the murderer at Billsport, not more than five miles from your jay burg. I was driving through the town when they brought him in. That’s what made me late, dear,” turning to Marjory.
“Yes, and I’ll bet my soul that here comes some one with the news,” cried George Crosby, who had heard nothing of the tragedy until this instant.
A rowboat containing three men was making for the landing. Somehow, Anderson Crow and his posse felt the ground sinking beneath them. Not a man uttered a sound until one of the newcomers called out from the boat:
“Is Anderson Crow there?”
“Yes, sir; what is it?” demanded Crow in a wobbly voice.
“Your wife wants to know when in thunder you’re comin’ home.” By this time the skiff was bumping against the landing.
“You tell her to go to Halifax!” retorted Anderson Crow. “Is that all you want?”
“They nabbed that murderer up to Billsport long ’bout ’leven o’clock,” said Alf Reesling, the town drunkard. “We thought we’d row down and tell you so’s you wouldn’t be huntin’ all night for the feller who—hello, you got him, eh?”
“Are you fellers lyin’?” cried poor Anderson Crow.
“Not on your life. We knowed about the captcher over in town just about half an hour after you started ’cross the river this afternoon.”
“You—four hours ago? You—you—” sputtered the marshal. “An’ why didn’t you let us know afore this?”
“There was a game o’ baseball in Hasty’s lot, an’—” began one of the newcomers sheepishly.
“Well, I’ll be gosh-whizzled!” gasped Anderson Crow, sitting down suddenly.
* * * * *
An hour and a half later Mr. and Mrs. John Ethelbert Barnes were driven up to Judge Brewster’s country place in Mr. David Bracken’s brake. They were accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. George Crosby, and were carrying out the plans as outlined in the original programme.