“Why this intrusion at this late hour?”
“Oh! drop that stuff, Nance; it won’t go down with us; we’re no gulls to have pretty things told us by giving you a dollar.”
Recognizing her visitor, Nance, in her natural tone, inquired sharply:
“What do you want at this time of night?”
“In the first place we want you to keep your mouth shut. In the next place you must find a place for a man we’ve got here, and keep him for a while.”
“You’re a loving nephew, you are, Dan Moriarity, Oh! you come around and see your old aunt when you’re up to some devilment, I’m bound.”
Moriarity, not deigning to reply to this speech, had gone back to his companion, and now returned with the form of the detective between them.
“My God! you haven’t killed him, Dan?”
“He has a pretty sore head, I reckon, but nothing worse. Take us up-stairs.”
Following Nance, the men carried Chip behind the curtain, through another room, and ascended a flight of stairs.
Nance threw open a door and Chip was placed upon a bed. The room was sumptuously, even elegantly, furnished. Pictures adorned the walls, a heavy carpet deadened the sound of the feet, and rich curtains kept back the too-inquisitive light.
Chip, wounded and insensible, was in the house of the “widow,” the rendezvous of a daring band of robbers and the birth-place of many a dashing raid or successful bank robbery.
In the toils.
The dark shadow that had followed Cummings and Moriarity from the distillery to Cook’s cooper-shop was none other than the assumed Barney O’Hara, who had aired his heels so jauntily in the saloon that afternoon.
Watching on the outside while Chip was working Cook, he had spotted and shadowed the two men as they came down the road.
The careless exposure of his face to Cummings through the window was the cause of the latter’s sudden attempt to catch him.
His nimble heels again stood him in good stead, and in the darkness he easily eluded his pursuer.
Cummings gave up the chase, and returning just in time, had stopped Chip’s success by knocking him down with a slungshot and carrying him off.
When Barney, or, rather, Sam, returned to renew his investigation, he found the shop empty, save the intoxicated Cook.
Thinking his late pursuer and his companion had taken the alarm, and that Chip was now doubtless shadowing them, he walked into the shop, and, true to his detective instincts and education, began a diligent search of the place.
He was actively engaged in this work when the sound of hasty footsteps reached his ears. Throwing himself flat on the floor, behind a pile of barrel staves, he drew his revolver and waited. The steps passed by, however, and Sam quickly but quietly left the shop.