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Chapter 3

  • ### I
  • With all his outward candor the Governor had, Archie found, reserves that wer_uite unaccountable. He let fall allusions to his past in the most natura_ashion, with an incidental air that added to their plausibility, without eve_earing aside the veil that concealed his origin or the manner of his fall, if, indeed, a man who so jubilantly boasted of his crimes and seemed to fin_n infinite satisfaction and delight in his turpitude, could be said to hav_allen. Having mentioned Brattleboro as the point at which they were t_oregather with Red Leary, the Governor did not refer to the matter again, bu_hose routes and made detours without explanation.
  • As a matter of fact they swung round Brattleboro and saw only the faint blu_f its smoke from the western side. It was on the second afternoon out o_ornford that the Governor suddenly bade Archie, whom he encouraged to driv_uch of the time, pause at a gate.
  • "We linger here, son. May I suggest that you take your cue from me? Bil_alker is an honest dairyman to all intents and purposes, but really an ol_rook who got tired of dodging sheriffs and bloodhounds and bought this farm.
  • A sober, industrious family man, you will find him, with a wife and on_aughter. This is one of the best stations of the underground railroad; saf_s a mother's arms, and you will never believe you're not the favored guest o_ week-end party. Walker's an old chum of Leary's. They used to cut up in th_ost reprehensible fashion out West in old times. You've probably wondere_hat becomes of old crooks. Walker is of course an unusual specimen, for h_new when the quitting was good, and having salted away a nice little fortun_ccumulated in express hold-ups, he dwells here in peace and passes the hat a_he meeting house every Sunday. You may be dead sure that only the aristocrac_f our profession have the entrée at Walker's. His herd on the hillside yonde_akes a pretty picture of tranquillity. The house is an old timer, but he'_ade a comfortable place of it, and the wife and daughter set a wonderfu_able. Here's the old boy now."
  • A gray-bearded man with a pronounced stoop, clad in faded blue overalls, wa_aiting for them at the barn.
  • "Just run the machine right in," he called.
  • The car disposed of, the Governor introduced Archie as one of his deares_riends, and the hand Archie clasped was undeniably roughened by toil. Walke_umbled a "glad-to-see-ye," and lazily looked him over.
  • "Always glad to meet any friend of Mr. Saulsbury's," he drawled with _ournful twang. "We've got plenty o' bread and milk for strangers. Somebody'_pread the idea we run a hotel here and we're pestered a good deal with folk_hat want to stop for a meal. We take care o' 'em mostly. The wife and littl_al sort o' like havin' folks stop; takes away the lonesomeness."
  • There was nothing in his speech or manner to suggest that he had ever been _oad agent. He assisted them in carrying their traps to the house, talkin_armer fashion of the weather, crops and the state of the roads. The house wa_onnected with the barn in the usual New England style. In the kitchen a gir_ang cheerily and hearing her the Governor paused and struck an attitude.
  • "O divinity! O Deity of the Green Hills! O Lovely Daughter of the Stars! _phigenia!"
  • The girl appeared at a window, rested her bare arms on the sill and smilingl_aluted them with a cheery "Hello there!"
  • "Look upon that picture!" exclaimed the Governor, seizing Archie's arm. "I_ld times upon Olympus she was cup-bearer to the gods, but here she is Sall_alker, and never so charming as when she sits enthroned upon the milkin_tool. Miss Walker, my old friend, Mr. Comly, or Achilles, as you will!"
  • A very pretty picture Miss Walker made in the kitchen window, a vivid portrai_hat immediately enhanced Archie's pleasurable sensations in finding a have_hat promised rest and security. Her black hair was swept back smoothly fro_er forehead and there was the glow of perfect health in her rounded cheeks.
  • Archie noted her dimples and the white even teeth that made somethin_oteworthy and memorable of her smile.
  • "Well, Mr. Saulsbury, I've read all those books you sent me, and the candy wa_he finest I ever tasted."
  • "She remembers! Amid all her domestic cares, she remembers! My dear lad, th_irl is one in a million!"
  • "You'd think Mr. Saulsbury was crazy about me!" she laughed. "But he makes th_ame speeches to every girl he sees, doesn't he, Mr. Comly?"
  • "Indeed not," protested Archie, rallying bravely to the Governor's support.
  • "He's been raving about you for days and my only surprise is that he s_ompletely failed to give me the faintest idea—idea—"
  • "Of your charm, your ineffable beauty!" the Governor supplied. "You see, Sally, my friend is shy with the shyness of youth and inexperience and he i_nable to utter the thoughts that do in him rise! I can see that he is you_aptive, your meekest slave. By the way, will there be cottage cheese prepare_y your own adorable hand for supper? Are golden waffles likely to confront u_n the breakfast table tomorrow at the hideous hour of five-thirty? Will ther_e maple syrup from yonder hillside grove?"
  • "You have said it!" Sally answered. "But you'd better chase yourselves int_he house now or pop'll be peeved at having to wait for you."
  • On the veranda a tall elderly man rose from a hammock in which he had bee_eading a newspaper and stretched himself. His tanned face was deeply line_ut he gave the impression of health and vigor.
  • "Leary," whispered the Governor in an aside and immediately introduced him.
  • "The road has been smooth and the sky is high," said the Governor in respons_o a quick anxious questioning of Leary's small restless eyes.
  • "Did you find peace in the churches by the way?" asked Leary.
  • "In one of the temples we found peace and plenty," answered the Governor a_hough reciting from a ritual.
  • Leary nodded and gave a hitch to his trousers.
  • "You found the waters of Champlain tranquil, and no hawks followed th_andward passage?"
  • "The robin and the bluebird sang over all the road," he answered; then with _lance at Archie: "You gave no warning of the second pilgrim."
  • "The brother is young and innocent, but I find him an apt pupil," the Governo_xplained.
  • "The brother will learn first the wisdom of silence," remarked Leary, and the_s though by an afterthought he shook Archie warmly by the hand.
  • They went into the house where Mrs. Walker, a stout middle-aged woman, greete_hem effusively.
  • "We've got to put you both in one room, if you don't mind," she explained,
  • "but there's two beds in it. I guess you can make out."
  • "Make out!" cried the Governor with a deprecatory wave of his hand. "We shoul_e proud to be permitted to sleep on the porch! You do us much honor, my dea_rs. Walker."
  • "Oh, you always cheer us up, Mr. Saulsbury. And Mr. Comly is just as welcome."
  • The second floor room to which Walker led them was plainly but neatl_urnished and the windows looked out upon rolling pastures. The Governo_bandoned his high-flown talk and asked blunt questions as to recent visitors, apparently referring to criminals who had lodged at the farm. They talke_uite openly while Archie unpacked his bag. The restless activity of the fol_f the underworld, their methods of communication and points of rendezvou_eemed part of a vast system and he was ashamed of his enormous interest i_ll he saw and heard. The Governor's cool fashion of talking of the world o_rime and its denizens almost legitimatized it, made it appear a recognize_art of the accepted scheme of things. Walker aroused the Governor's deepes_nterest by telling of the visit of Pete Barney, a diamond thief, who ha_ately made a big haul in Chicago, and had been passed along from one point o_efuge to another. The Governor asked particularly as to the man's experience_nd treatment on the road, and whether he had complained of the hospitalit_xtended by any of the agents of the underground.
  • "You needn't worry about him," said Walker, with a shrug. "He asks for what h_ants."
  • "Sorry if he made himself a nuisance. I'll give warning to chain the gate_oward the North. Is he carrying the sparks with him?"
  • "Lets 'em shine like a fool. I told 'im to clear out with 'em."
  • "You did right. The brothers in the West must be more careful about handin_ut tickets. Now trot Red up here and we'll transact a little business."
  • Leary appeared a moment later and Archie was about to leave the room, but th_overnor insisted stoutly that he remain.
  • "I'm anxious for you and Red to know that I trust both of you fully."
  • "What's the young brother,—a con?" asked Leary with a glance at Archie.
  • To be referred to as a confidence man by a gentleman of Leary's professiona_minence gave Archie a thrill. The Governor answered by drawing up his sleeve_nd going through the motions of washing his hands.
  • "Does the hawk follow fast?" Leary asked, as he proceeded to fill his pipe.
  • "The shadow hasn't fallen, but we watch the sky," returned the Governor.
  • The brushing of the hands together Archie interpreted as a code sig_ignifying murder and the subsequent interchange of words he took to b_nquiry and answer as to the danger of apprehension. He felt that Leary'_ttitude toward him became friendlier from that moment. There was somethin_hastly in the thought that as the slayer of a human being he attained _ertain dignity in the eyes of men like Leary. But he became interested in th_ransaction that was now taking place between the thief and the Governor. Th_overnor extracted the sixty one-thousand-dollar bills from his bag, and lai_hem out on the bed. He rapidly explained just how Leary's hidden booty ha_een recovered, and the manner in which the smaller denominations had bee_onverted into bills that could be passed without arousing suspicion.
  • "Too big for one bite, but old Dan Sheedy will change 'em all for you in Bea_enter. You know his place? You see him alone and ask him to chop some fee_or your cattle. He makes a good front and stands well at his bank."
  • Leary picked up ten of the bills and held them out to the Governor.
  • "If that ain't right we'll make it right," he said.
  • "Not a cent, Red! I haven't got to a point yet where I charge a fee for m_ervices. But our young brother here is entitled to anything he wants."
  • Archie grasped with difficulty the idea that he was invited to share in th_oot. His insistence that he couldn't think for a moment of accepting any o_he money puzzled Leary.
  • "It's all right about you, Governor, but the kid had better shake the tree. I_is hands are wet he's likely to need a towel."
  • "Don't be an ass, Comly," said the Governor. "Leary's ahead of the game te_housand good plunks and what he offers is a ridiculously modest honorarium.
  • Recovering such property and getting it into shape for the market is wort_omething handsome."
  • "Really," began Archie, and then as the "really" seemed an absurdly bana_eginning for a rejection of an offer of stolen money, he said with a curl o_he lip and a swagger, "Oh, hell! I'd feel pretty rotten to take money fro_ne of the good pals. And besides, I didn't do anything anyhow."
  • The Governor passed his hand over his face to conceal a smile, but Lear_eemed sincerely grieved by Archie's conduct and remarked dolefully that ther_ust be something wrong with the money. The Governor hastily vouched for it_mpeccable quality and excused Archie as a person hardly second to himself fo_ccentricity.
  • "No hard feeling; most certainly not! My young friend is only proud to serve _an of your standing in the profession. It is possible that later on you ma_e able to render us a service. You never can tell, you know, Red."
  • Leary philosophically stowed the bills in his clothing.
  • "You're done, are you?" asked the Governor; "out of the game?"
  • "I sure have quit the road," Leary answered. "The old girl has got a fe_housands tucked away and I'm goin' to pick her up and buy a motion pictur_oint or a candy and soda shop somewhere in the big lakes—one of those place_hat freeze up all winter, so I can have a chance to rest. The old girl has _lace in mind. The climate will be good for my asthma. She knows how to run _izz shop and I'll be the scenery and just set round."
  • "On the whole it doesn't sound exciting," the Governor commented, inspecting _lean shirt. "Did your admirable wife get rid of those pearls she pinched las_inter? They were a handsome string, as I remember, too handsome to marke_eadily. Mrs. Leary has a passion for precious baubles, Archie," the Governo_xplained. "A brilliant career in picking up such trifles; a star performer, Red, if you don't mind my bragging of your wife."
  • Leary seemed not at all disturbed by this revelation of his wife's larcenou_ffection for pearls. That a train robber's wife should be a thief seeme_erfectly natural; indeed it seemed quite fitting that thieves should mat_ith thieves. Archie further gathered that Mrs. Leary operated in Chicago, under the guise of a confectionery shop, one of the stations of th_nderground railroad, and assisted the brotherhood in disposing of their ill- gotten wares. A recent reform wave in Chicago had caused a shake-up in th_olice department, most disturbing to the preying powers.
  • "They're clean off me, I reckon," said Leary a little pathetically, th_eference being presumably to the pestiferous police. "That was a good idea o_ours for me to go up into Canada and work at a real job for a while. Must _orked hard enough to change my finger prints. Some bloke died in Kansa_while back and got all the credit for being the old original Red Leary."
  • This error of the press in recording Leary's death tickled the Governo_ightily, and Leary laughed until he was obliged to wipe the tears from hi_yes.
  • "I'm going to pull my freight after supper," he said. "Walker's goin' to tak_e into town and I'll slip out to Detroit where the old girl's waitin' fo_e."
  • The Governor mused upon this a moment, drew a small note-book from his pocke_nd verified his recollection of the address of one of the outposts of th_nderground which Leary mentioned.
  • "Avoid icy pavements!" he admonished. "There's danger in all those borde_owns."
  • Walker called them to supper and they went down to a meal that met all th_xpectations aroused by the Governor's boast of the Walker cuisine. Not onl_ere the fried chicken and hot biscuits excellent, but Archie found Mis_alker's society highly agreeable and stimulating. She wore a snowy whit_pron over a blue gingham dress, and rose from time to time to replenish th_latters. The Governor chaffed her familiarly, and Archie edged into the tal_ith an ease that surprised him. His speculative faculties, all but benumbe_y the violent exercise to which they had been subjected since he joined th_rmy of the hunted, found new employment in an attempt to determine just ho_uch this cheery, handsome girl knew of the history of the company that met a_er father's table. She was the daughter of a retired crook, and it had neve_ccurred to him that crooks had daughters, or if they were so blessed he ha_ssumed that they were defectives, turned over for rearing to disagreeabl_ublic institutions.
  • The Governor had said that they were to spend a day or two at Walker's bu_rchie was now hoping that he would prolong the visit. When next he saw Isabe_e would relate, quite calmly and incidentally, his meteoric nights throug_he underworld, and Sally, the incomparable dairy maid, should dance merril_n his narrative. In a pleasant drawing-room somewhere or other he would mee_sabel and rehabilitate himself in her eyes by the very modesty with which h_ould relate his amazing tale. It pleased him to reflect that if she could se_im at the Walker table with Red Leary and the Governor, that mos_ccomplished of villains, eating hot biscuits which had been speciall_orbidden by his physician, she would undoubtedly decide that he had made _retty literal interpretation of her injunction to throw a challenge in th_eeth of fate.
  • Walker ate greedily, shoveling his food into his mouth with his knife; an_rchie had never before sat at meat with a man who used this means of urgin_ood into his vitals. The Governor magnanimously ignored his friend's socia_rrors, praising the chicken and delivering so beautiful an oration on th_ome-made pickled peaches that Sally must needs dart into the pantry and brin_ack a fresh jar which she placed with a spoon by the Governor's plate.
  • At the end of the meal Walker left for town to put Leary on a train fo_oston. The veteran train robber shook hands all round and waved a las_arewell from the gate. Archie was sorry to lose him, for Leary was a_ppealing old fellow, and he had hoped for a chance to coax from him som_eminiscences of his experiences.
  • Leary vanished into the starlit dusk as placidly as though he hadn't tucke_way in his clothing sixty thousand dollars to which he had no lawful right o_itle. There was something ludicrous in the whole proceeding. While Archie ha_n income of fifty thousand dollars a year from investments, he had alway_xperienced a pleasurable thrill at receiving the statement of his dividend_rom his personal clerk in the broker's office, where he drew an additiona_en thousand as a silent partner. Leary's method of dipping into the world'_apital seemed quite as honorable as his own. Neither really did any work fo_he money. This he reflected was both morally and economically unsound, an_et Archie found himself envying Leary the callousness that made it possibl_or him to pocket sixty thousand stolen dollars without the quiver of a_yelash.