“Tell him who we are, Brad,” growled the shorter of the twain, who looked angry enough to devour the unfortunate Ted.
So the one called Brad took something out of his coat pocket that made a peculiar jingling noise, and held it up before the boy.
“D’ye see them, son? We call ’em bracelets, and they’re meant to go on the wrists of criminals. D’ye understand now? We’re officers of the law, and we’ve just made a grand haul. But some of the evidence has slipped away from us. It’s in that same bag you picked up on this here road. Now, don’t you dare deny it again, or we’ll take you into town with these pretty toys clasped on your wrists. I’m going to give you another chance to tell us, son. Where did you put that bag?”
Ted winced and whined. He showed all the signs of injured innocence. Surely he must have made up his mind quickly that the contents of the bag were well worth taking all sorts of chances for.
“Ain’t seen no bag. Sure I’d be on’y too glad to tell you, mister, if I had. All I wants to do is to go home. I’m tired, an’ nigh sick with all this huntin’ for that kid,” he whimpered.
The man suddenly pounced on him, and despite Ted’s struggles and entreaties, he seemed to succeed in accomplishing his purpose. At any rate the concealed scouts heard a snap; and when Ted reeled back he was holding his two hands close together in a suspicious way, and staring at something that seemed to be in the nature of a connecting link.
“Now you are in for it,” said the tall man, shaking his head threateningly as he stood over the prisoner; “we’ll have to take you to town, and put you in the lockup as an accessory after the fact. D’ye hear that, you young fool? And all because you refuse to help honest officers of the law in their legitimate business. Why, you may get ten years at hard labor, yes, twenty. Better tell all you know, and perhaps we’ll let you off.”
“You can do anything you like to me, mister, but I ain’t agoin’ to say what I don’t know. Ain’t seen any bag of no kind. Cross my heart if I have. I’m willin’ to help you hunt for it, even if I am dog tired. Don’t you believe me, mister? Sure, I wouldn’t lie to you. What would I be wantin’ with a bag; we got plenty at my house. Ted Slavin’s my name, and I live in Stanhope. Gimme a ride, mister, if you’re goin’ that way, won’t you?”
Again the two men talked together, while Ted watched them out of the corner of his eye. He might even have tried to run but the fact that his hands were fastened together with that steel chain prevented such a thing.
Once more they turned upon him, and the tall man pointing down, thundered:
“You’ve been kneeling in the dirt!”
Ted glanced down at his trousers involuntarily; but even then he was not taken off his guard.
“I fell ever so many times after my lantern went out. See here, mister, how I scraped the skin off my hand. That’s the honest truth I’m givin’ you!” he cried.