“You seem to know enough not to answer questions about yourself,” observed Buck—“try and be as clever if anybody quizzes you about this wagon.”
“Why should they?”
“Oh, they may. If they do, you’re from—let me see—Blackberry Hill, remember?”
“All right—with a load of garden truck, eh?” propounded Bart ingeniously.
“You hit it correct. What we want you to do is this: Drive down to the main road, and turn west. Keep on straight ahead, and don’t turn anywhere. About nine miles west you’ll hit Hamilton. Drive right through the town, but as soon as you get out of it take the first branch south from the turnpike, and keep on till you reach an old mill on the river. Wait for us there.”
“Why,” said Bart, “aren’t you going with me?”
“No,” answered Buck Tolliver definitely.
“None of your business,” snapped out Hank.
“You mind yours, strictly, or there will be trouble,” warned Buck, and Bart saw from the look in his hard face that he was a dangerous man, once aroused. “You do this job with neatness and dispatch, and it will mean a good deal more than a dollar.”
“Crackey!” cried Bart, snapping the whip hilariously—“maybe this is one of those story-book happenings where a fellow strikes fame and fortune!”
“Maybe it is,” assented Buck drily.
Bart climbed up to the seat. He started up the horse, the Tollivers following after the wagon till they reached the main road.
“When I get to the mill—” began Bart.
“We’ll be there to meet you,” announced Buck Tolliver.
“I don’t see,” growled Hank in an undertone to his brother, “why we would take any risk riding under that grass.”
“You leave this affair to me,” retorted Buck. “If the kid gets through all right, then we’re all right, aren’t we?”
“I suppose so.”
“And we’ve got to wait as we agreed—for Wacker.”
Bart had just turned into the main road. At the mention of that ominous name, the young express agent brought the whip down upon the horse’s flanks with a sharp snap.
BART ON THE ROAD
The rig that Bart was driving sped along the dusty country road at a good sharp pace.
The young express agent was undergoing the most vivid mental perturbation of his career.
He kept whistling a jolly air, with a sidelong glance observed that his recent companions had turned back towards their camp in the clearing, and then, dropping his assumption of the reckless young adventurer, stared seriously ahead and began to figure out the situation in all its details.
What had come about was quite natural and ordinary: the Tollivers were anxious to get further away from the scene of their recent crime, to a safer and more obscure haunt than the open camp in the woods.