Chapter V At the Railroad Station - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

"See anybody, Sam?"

"Nobody that looks like that man, Spud, but there is Mr. Sanderson's horse with the cutter."

"Yes, I spotted those right away. Look how the poor nag is heaving. He must have been driven almost to death."

"That may be. Although we got here almost as quickly as he did. But he may have been used quite some before this trip," returned Sam; and this surmise was correct.

The two boys, with the policeman, had done their best to catch the departing train and have it stop, but without avail. When they had reached the depot the last of the cars was well down the line, and soon the train had disappeared around a curve of the roadbed.

"What's the matter, Ike? What are you after?" queried the freight agent, as he came up to the policeman.

"We are after the man who was driving that cutter yonder," explained Sam. "Did you see him--a big fellow with a heavy overcoat and with a fur cap pulled down over his forehead?"

"Why yes, I saw that fellow get aboard," answered the freight agent. "I was wondering what he was going to do with his horse. He didn't even stop to put a blanket over the animal."

"That fellow was a thief," explained Sam. "I wonder if we can't have him captured in some way? What is the next station the train will stop at?"


"How far is that from here?"

"About six miles."

"And after that?"

"She'll stop at Leadenfield, which is about six miles farther."

"Then I'll send a telegram to Penton and another to Leadenfield to have the train searched and the man arrested if he can be spotted," said Sam; and a few minutes later he was in the telegraph office writing out the messages. He described the man as well as he could, but realized that his efforts were rather hopeless.

"Maybe Songbird could give us a better description," he said to his chum; "but as Songbird isn't here, and as we can't get him on the telephone, we'll have to do the best we can."

The policeman was, of course, anxious to know some of the details of what had occurred, and when the boys told him that their college chum had been knocked senseless and robbed of four thousand dollars he was greatly surprised.

"It's too bad you didn't get here before the train started," he observed. "If you had we might have nabbed that rascal and maybe got a reward," and he smiled grimly.

"We don't want any reward. We simply want to get that four thousand dollars back," returned Sam. "And we would like to put that fellow in prison for the way he treated our college chum."

"What will you do with the horse and cutter?"

"If there is a livery stable handy, I think I'll put the horse up there," answered Sam. "He is evidently in no condition to be driven farther at present. I'll notify Mr. Sanderson about it." And so it was arranged.

A little while later, after the two boys had walked around to the police station with the officer and given such particulars as they were able concerning the assault and robbery, Sam and Spud started on the return to the Bray farmhouse. When they arrived there, they found that Dr.

Havens and Dr. Wallington had come in some time before. By the directions of the head of Brill the physician from Ashton had given Songbird a thorough examination and had treated him with some medicine from his case.

"The cut on his head is rather a deep one," said the doctor to the boys, "but fortunately it is not serious, nor will there be any bad effects from the blow on his chin. He can thank his stars though that the crack on his head did not fracture his skull."

"We are going to take him back to Brill in a large sleigh," said Dr.

Wallington, "and then I think the best he can do will be to go to bed."

"Oh, I can't do that!" broke in Songbird, who was still on the couch, propped up by pillows. "I've got to get to Mr. Sanderson's and explain how the thing happened."

"You had better let me do that, Songbird," answered Sam, kindly. "I can drive over there and Spud can go with me. You just let us know exactly how it occurred." This, of course, was after the boys had related the particulars of their failure to catch the fleeing criminal at Dentonville.

"It happened so quickly that I hardly realized what was taking place,"

answered the would-be poet of Brill. "I was driving along from Knoxbury, where I had been to the bank for Mr. Sanderson, when I came to the spot where I suppose you found me. Just as I reached there a man in a heavy overcoat, and with a thick fur cap pulled over his face so that I could hardly see him, stepped in front of the cutter.

"'Say! can you tell me where these people live?' he asked me, and thrust a sheet of paper towards me. 'I've lost my eye-glasses, and I can't see to read without them.'

"I took the paper he handed out and started to look at some writing on it which was very indistinct. As I bent over the paper the man swung a club or something in the air and struck me on the head. Then, as I tried to leap up and defend myself, he hit me another blow on the chin. That seemed to knock me clean out of the cutter; and that is all I know about it."

"Then you don't know where that fellow came from?" queried Spud.

"No more than that he came from the bushes beside the road." Songbird seemed to meditate for a moment. "Now I come to think of it though, maybe that's the same fellow that watched me go into the bank at Knoxbury and get the money for Mr. Sanderson!" he cried, suddenly.

"It was a very unwise move on Mr. Sanderson's part to have you get that money for him in cash," observed Dr. Wallington. "I do not understand why he could not have transacted his business with a check, especially if it was certified."

"I don't know much about that part of it," answered Songbird, "excepting he told me that the old man with whom he was doing business was something of a crank and didn't believe in banks or checks, and said he wanted nothing but solid cash. It's a pity now that Mr. Sanderson didn't use a check," and Songbird heaved a deep sigh.

"But what did you just say about a man watching you when you went into the bank?" questioned Sam.

"Oh, I noticed that fellow hanging around the building just as I went in," returned Songbird. "He was asking the janitor about the trains out of town, and the reason I noticed him was because he had a peculiar stutter and whistle when he talked. He went like this," and Songbird imitated a man who was stuttering badly, ending in a faint whistle.

"Great Scott! A fellow ought to know a man who talked like that anywhere," was Spud's comment. "Should be able to pick him out in the dark," and at this sally even Dr. Wallington smiled faintly.

"Of course I'm not sure that that man had anything to do with it," went on Songbird. "But he was the only fellow around who seemed to notice me when I got the money. When the bills were passed over to me, there were forty one-hundred-dollar bills. I took them to a little side stand, to place them in a wallet Mr. Sanderson had lent me, and then I wrapped the wallet in a piece of paper with a stout string around it. As I did this I noticed the man who stuttered and whistled peering at me hungrily through a side window of the bank."

"And the fellow wore a heavy overcoat and a fur cap?" questioned Sam.

"Yes, I am sure of that."

"Then it is more than likely he was the guilty party," remarked Spud.

"But hold on a minute!" broke in Sam. "You got the money at Knoxbury, and this attack took place on the road above here, which is at least seven miles from that place. Now, if the man who did the deed was at the bank when you drew the money, how did he get here in time to hold you up?"

"I don't know about that, Sam; but I didn't leave Knoxbury immediately after getting the money. I had an errand to do for Minnie. She wanted me to pick out a--er--a necktie for my birthday, and I--well, I looked around two or three stores, trying to find something nice to take back to her. I bought two books of poetry, but I don't know where they are now."

"We found them on the road, and they are out in the cutter," answered Sam. "Spud, you might bring them in and give them to Songbird."

"The errands kept me in town for about half an hour after I was at the bank," continued the youth who had been attacked.
"And where had you left Mr. Sanderson's cutter in the meantime?"

"Right in front of the bank building, the horse tied to a post."

"That would give the man time to get another turnout in which to follow you," said Sam.

"But if he did that, I don't see how he got ahead of you."

"Well, maybe he didn't, and maybe it was some one else who did the deed," returned Sam.

"You had better not worry your head too much about this affair, Mr.

Powell," said Dr. Havens. "That crack on the head might have been more serious, but at the same time you ought to take care of yourself for a day or two at least."

"Then you don't think I ought to go to Mr. Sanderson's?" queried the would-be poet of the college.

"Not just yet. If you feel stronger you might go there to-morrow, or the day after."

"Then will you go, Sam, and try to explain matters?" questioned Songbird, eagerly.

"Of course I'll go, Songbird."

"And I'll go with him," added Spud.

A large sleigh had been brought to the farmhouse by Dr. Wallington, and Songbird was placed in this and made as comfortable as possible among the robes and blankets which it contained. Mr. Bray, the owner of the farm, had been up in the timber bringing down some firewood, and now, when he approached, the others saw that he had tied behind his sled an extra horse.

"Hello! Where did that horse come from?" cried Sam. "Is it yours?"

"No, 'tain't mine," said Timothy Bray. "I found it up in the woods right near the road yonder," and he pointed with his hand as he spoke.

"Found that horse in the woods!" cried Spud. "Then that explains it."

"It sure does," returned Sam.

"Explains what?" demanded Timothy Bray. "What's goin' on down here anyway?" he continued, looking at his wife and then at the others.

"Oh, Timothy! an awful thing has happened!" cried Mrs. Bray, and then she and the others gave the farmer a few of the particulars. He listened with mouth wide open, and then looked at the horse which he had found.

"I guess you are right!" he exclaimed. "That feller got this horse in Knoxbury. It's one that belongs to Hoover, the livery stable man. I know him on account of this brand on his left flank. It's a horse Cy Tamen used to own and swapped for a bay mare."

"Then I think that explains it," declared Sam. "That rascal saw Songbird get the money, and he at once went to the livery stable and hired the horse and followed Songbird to the spot where the attack was made. More than likely he passed Songbird on the road."

"That's just what he did!" cried the youth who had been struck down. "I remember now! I was busy composing some poetry when I noticed a fellow on horseback go past me and disappear around a turn in the road, and that was just a few minutes before that fellow came up with a sheet of paper, and knocked me senseless."

"I believe you have made out a pretty clear case," was Dr. Wallington's comment. "Now if we can only reach that man who stuttered and whistled, I think we shall have the culprit."

"We telephoned ahead from Dentonville. If they can only locate him on the train it will be all right," answered Sam. "But you must remember we didn't have very much of a description to go by."

"Yes, and that fellow may be fixed to change his appearance a good deal," added Spud. "A man isn't going to get his hands on four thousand dollars without doing all he possibly can to get away with it, especially when he knows that if he is caught he will be sent to prison."

"What am I going to do with this horse?" questioned Timothy Bray.

"You had better keep that animal in your stable until the livery man from Knoxbury calls for him," answered Dr. Wallington.

"He'll have to pay me for doing it," was Mr. Bray's reply. "Every time I go to Knoxbury, Hoover charges me an outrageous price for putting up at his stable, and now I can get even with him," and he chuckled over the thought.