“Quick, quick! jerk him out of bed and get him into his clothes. I won’t permit one false move.”
Jack now believed that his only means of safety was to be as expeditious as possible, and that if Bute was taken safely he would be left unmolested. People of their class rarely keep faith with one another when it is wholly against their interests to do so. Therefore, in spite of the wounded man’s groans, he was quickly dressed and his hands tied behind him. As he opened his mouth to give expression to his protests, he found himself suddenly gagged by Brandt, who stood behind him. Then a strap was buckled about his feet, and he lay on the floor helpless and incapable of making a sound.
“Now, Jack,” said Brandt, “go before me and bridle and saddle the pony; then bring him to the door.”
“Now put Bute upon him. I’ll hold his head; but remember I’m covering you with a dead bead all the time.”
“No need of that. I’m civil enough now.”
“Well, you know we’re sort of strangers, and it’s no more than prudent for me to be on the safe side till we part company. That’s right, strap his feet underneath. Now lead the pony in such directions as I say. Don’t try to make off till I’m through with you, or you’ll be shot instantly. I shall keep within a yard of you all the time.”
They were not long in reaching the horse that Brandt had borrowed, and Jack said, “I s’pose I kin go now.”
“First untie Bute’s hands so he can guide the pony.”
As the fellow attempted to do this, and his two hands were close together, Brandt slipped a pair of light steel handcuffs over his wrists, and the man was in his power. Almost before the new prisoner could recover from his surprise, he was lifted on the borrowed horse, and his legs also tied underneath.
“This ain’t fa’r. You promised ter let me go when you got Bute off.”
“I haven’t got him off yet. Of course I can’t let you go right back and bring a dozen men after us. You must be reasonable.”
The fellow yelled for help; but the wind swept the sound away.
“If you do that again, I’ll gag you too,” said Brandt. “I tell you both once more, and I won’t repeat the caution, that your lives depend on obedience.” Then he mounted, and added, “Bute, I’m going to untie your hands, and you must ride on ahead of me. I’ll lead Jack’s horse.”
In a moment he had his prisoners in the road, and was leaving the mine at a sharp pace. Bute was so cowed and dazed with terror that he obeyed mechanically. The stream was no longer a shallow brook, but a raging torrent which almost swept them away as Brandt urged them relentlessly through it. The tavern was dark and silent as they passed quickly by it. Then Brandt took the gag from Bute’s mouth, and he groaned, cursed, and pleaded by turns. Hour after hour he urged them forward, until at last Bute gave out and fell forward on the pony’s neck. Brandt dismounted and gave the exhausted man a draught from his flask.