On the evening of the second day of their pursuit, Dick and Bill found themselves in the immediate presence of their victim, they having reached the same inn at which he had already put up for the night. The meeting was unexpected to them, and at first they feared it might frustrate their designs; but as they had taken the precaution to throw off their usual habiliments and character, and to assume the dress and address of gentlemen, Hadley did not recognize them, though the impression fastened itself on his mind, that he must have seen them and heard their voices before, but where and when he could not remember.
The villains, from his musing manner, half suspected that he was trying to call to mind who they were, and one remarked to the other that they had better go out and see after their horses; but it was more for the purpose of consulting about the affair they had in hand than for the good of their beasts, that they wished to leave the house. When assured that they were beyond hearing distance, said Bill to Dick:
“Well, we have treed the game at any rate.”
“Yes, but I don’t see as it signifies much if we have, for we can’t keep him treed, nor bring him down neither, in this place.”
“But we know where he is, and that is something.”
“I take it, it’s but little. What can we do with him?”
“Why, we can get ahead of him and select our place for the next meeting, and then—”
“How do you know that? We can’t tell which road he will take.”
“We’ll find out, though.”
“By asking him.”
“And exciting his suspicions. Yes, a pretty way of doing, certain.”
“Never do you mind; leave that to me; and if we don’t know all we want to know by morning, you may call Bill Mitchel a fool; and the fellow won’t suspect anything, either.”
“Well, go ahead, but don’t make a fool of yourself, nor spoil the job we have in hand, neither.”
“I’ll take care for that; only you be cautious, and don’t say too much, and when you do speak, throw off your rough manners and talk and act like a gentleman. I am afraid you will forget yourself, and instead of being Mr. Richard, will act the part of ruffian Dick.”
“Never do you fear; ‘ruffian Dick’ knows what he’s about, and you’ll see how handsomely he can act ‘Mr. Richard’ to-night.”
With this understanding between them, they returned to the inn, which, by the way, was a very primitive establishment, not only in construction, but also in the character of the entertainment.
Bill worked his card so as to draw Hadley into conversation, and incidentally, but designedly, remarked that they (himself and his companion) had passed through C—— two days before.
“Indeed!” said Hadley; “I am well acquainted in C——. Did you hear any news there?”