But when he saw the muzzle of the young road-agent’s revolver gazing in through the window, he suddenly changed his mind, and laid a plethoric pocketbook into McGucken’s already well-filled hat.
The time occupied in making the collection was short, and in a few moments the Jehu handed up his battered “plug” to the Prince of the Road for inspection.
Coolly Deadwood Dick went over the treasure, as if it were all rightfully his own; then he chucked hat and all into one of his saddle-bags, after which he turned his attention toward the stage. As he did so he saw for the first time the two passengers on top, and as he gazed at them a gleam of fire shot into his eyes and his hands nervously griped at his weapon.
“Alexander Filmore, you here!” he ejaculated, his voice betraying his surprise.
“Yes,” replied the elder Filmore, coldly—“here to shoot you, you dastardly dog,” and quickly raising a pistol, he took rapid and deadly aim, and fired.
[Footnote B: A fact.]
With a groan Deadwood Dick fell to the ground, blood spurting from a wound in his breast. The bullet of the elder Filmore had indeed struck home.
Loud then were the cries of rage and vengeance, as a score of masked men poured out from the thickets, and surrounded the stage.
“Shoot the accursed nigger!” cried one. “He’s killed our leader, an’ by all the saints in ther calendur he shall pay the penalty!”
“No! no!” yelled another, “well do no such a thing. He shall swing in mid-air!”
“Hey!” cried a third, rising from the side of the prostrate load-agent, “don’ ye be so fast, boys. The capt’in still lives. He is not seriously wounded even!”
A loud huzza went up from the score of throats, that caused a thousand echoing reverberations along the mountain side.
“Better let ther capt’in say what we shall do wi’ yon cuss o’ creashun!” suggested one who was apparently a leading spirit; “it’s his funeral, ain’t it?”
“Yas, yas, it’s his funeral!”
“Then let him do ther undertakin’.”
Robber Dick was accordingly supported to a sitting posture, and the blood that flowed freely from his wound was stanched. In the operation his mask became loosened and slipped to the ground, but so quickly did he snatch it up and replace it, that no one caught even a glimpse of his face.
In the meantime Clarence Filmore had discharged every load in his two six-shooters into the air. He had an object in doing this; he thought that the reports of fire-arms would reach Deadwood (which was only a short mile distant, around the bend), and arouse the military, who would come to his rescue.
Dick’s wound dressed, he stood once more upon his feet, and glared up at the two men on the box. They were plainly revealed in the ghostly moonlight, and their features easily studied.