“A slip of the memory, that’s all. He was probably thinkin’ of his wife, if he has one.”
At a public meeting the town board was condemned for its failure to strengthen the jail at the time Anderson made his demand three years before.
“What’s the use in me catchin’ thieves, and so forth, if the jail won’t hold ’em?” Anderson declared. “I cain’t afford to waste time in runnin’ desperite characters down if the town board ain’t goin’ to obstruct ’em from gittin’ away as soon as the sun sits. What’s the use, I’d like to know? Where’s the justice? I don’t want it to git noised aroun’ that the on’y way we c’n hold a prisoner is to have him commit suicide as soon as he’s arrested. Fer two cents I’d resign right now.”
Of course no one would hear to that. As a result, nearly five hundred dollars was voted from the corporation funds to strengthen and modernise the “calaboose.” It was the sense of the meeting that a “sweat box” should be installed under Mr. Crow’s supervision, and that the marshal’s salary should be increased fifty dollars a year. After the adoption of this popular resolution Mr. Crow arose and solemnly informed the people that their faith in him was not misplaced. He threw the meeting into a state of great excitement by announcing that the kidnapers would soon be in the toils once more. In response to eager queries he merely stated that he had a valuable clew, which could not be divulged without detriment to the cause. Everybody went home that night with the assurance that the fugitives would soon be taken. Anderson promised the town board that he would not take them until the jail was repaired.
It was almost a fortnight before Wicker Bonner was able to walk about with crutches. The wound in his leg was an ugly one and healed slowly. His uncle, the Congressman, sent up a surgeon from New York, but that worthy approved of “Doc” Smith’s methods, and abruptly left the young man to the care of an excellent nurse, Rosalie Gray. Congressman Bonner’s servants came over every day or two with books, newspapers, sweetmeats, and fresh supplies from the city, but it was impossible for them to get any satisfaction from the young man in reply to their inquiries as to when he expected to return to the big house across the river. Bonner was beginning to hate the thought of giving up Rosalie’s readings, her ministrations, and the no uncertain development of his own opinions as to her personal attractiveness.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to walk, Watkins,” he said to the caretaker. “I’m afraid my heart is affected.”
Bonner’s enforced presence at Anderson Crow’s home was the source of extreme annoyance to the young men of the town. “Blootch” Peabody created a frightful scandal by getting boiling drunk toward the end of the week, so great was his dejection. As it was his first real spree, he did not recover from the effect for three days. He then took the pledge, and talked about the evils of strong drink with so much feeling at prayer meeting that the women of the town inaugurated a movement to stop the sale of liquor in the town. As Peabody’s drug store was the only place where whiskey could be obtained, “Blootch” soon saw the error of his ways and came down from his pedestal to mend them.