“Heavens! what a night!” he exclaimed. “What time does your train pass? Ten? Just three minutes. I guess I’ll stay; but we will have that young damsel floating down here if she doesn’t hear pretty soon.”
“Hello, Cato, what’s the matter?” as the dog gave a low growl, “what’s that in the corner, Bowen?”
The dog continued to growl and look suspiciously as the young fellow rattled on. “That,” I said, “is a dead man.”
“Humph!” he laughed. “Jolly good company for such a night. I say, Bowen, you’ve got a nice toy there,” and he took up the pistol that lay on the table. In the meanwhile I had scrawled on piece of paper, which I had quietly placed near the pistol: “The man in the box is a burglar. Be ready for an attack.”
“Oh that’s the game!” he said aloud, and instantly strode across the room, as Cato sprang up and barked furiously at the box. Simultaneously the top of the box flew up, and uttering a shrill whistle, the man sprang to a sitting posture, while through the wide-flung door the other two ruffians appeared with pistols cocked, At once there began a deadly struggle. The dog had leaped upon the box and knocked the “dead” man’s pistol out of his hand, as Frank shouted, “Toho Cato!” unwilling that the dog should tear him to pieces, but wishing to keep him at bay.
“Your keys!” yelled the other men; “or by heavens, you’ll drop!”
Instantly closing in, man to man, the fierce struggle went on amid shouts, oaths and pistol shots.
“Call off your cursed dog!” screamed the “dead” man continually.
The encounter, which had occupied scarcely a minute, was at its deadliest, both Frank and I endeavoring to disarm rather than kill, when the whistle of the train sounded, and in another moment the conductor and his men were among us, “Seize that scoundrel!” shouted Frank breathlessly, indicating the man in the box. “Here Cato!” and the obedient animal unwillingly retired, but continued his savage growl.
At this juncture my man fell to the floor, badly wounded in the leg, and uttering groans and imprecations. It was quick work to secure the men, and Jake, who opportunely reappeared, was sent to summon the village police. Some of the passengers, impatient at the delay, had got wind of the adventure, and now crowded into the station in no little excitement. The box was found to have a false side-piece next to the wall, which was easily pushed down by the man inside, for greater comfort in his cramped position; and there were besides a number of air holes. It was the moving of the side-panel that caused the muffled noise I had heard.
I was questioned in all possible ways, and the curiosity of the passengers was fully gratified amid the clamor of the prisoners, who continually swore at each other. “What did you wait so infernal long for?” said one of them, glaring at the “dead” man.
“What was your infernal hurry?” retorted the other, sarcastically.