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Taxation Without Representation








From: Bucky O'connor

"Hands up!"

There was a ring of crisp menace in the sinister voice that was a spur
to obedience. The unanimous show of hands voted "Aye" with a hasty
precision that no amount of drill could have compassed.

It was a situation that might have made for laughter had there been
spectators to appreciate. But of whatever amusement was to be had one
of the victims seemed to hold a monopoly. Collins, his arm around the
English children by way of comfort, offered a sardonic smile at the
consternation his announcement and its fulfillment had created, but none
of his fellow passengers were in the humor to respond.

The shock of an earthquake could not have blanched ruddy faces more
surely. The Chicago drummer, fat and florid, had disappeared completely
behind a buttress of the company's upholstery.

"God bless my soul!" gasped the Pekin-Bostonian, dropping his eyeglass
and his accent at the same moment. The dismay in his face found a
reflection all over the car. Miss Wainwright's hand clutched at her
breast for an instant, and her color ebbed till her lips were ashen, but
her neighbor across the aisle noticed that her eyes were steady and her
figure tense.

"Scared stiff, but game," was his mental comment.

"Gents to the right and ladies to the left; line up against the walls;
everybody waltz." called the man behind the guns, with grim humor.

The passengers fell into line as directed, Collins with the rest.

"You're calling this dance, son; it's your say-so, I guess," he
conceded.

"Keep still, or I'll shoot you full of holes," growled the autocrat of
the artillery.

"Why, sure! Ain't you the real thing in Jesse Jameses?" soothed the
sheriff.

At the sound of Collins' voice, the masked man had started perceptibly,
and his right hand had jumped forward an inch or two to cover the
speaker more definitely. Thereafter, no matter what else engaged his
attention, the gleaming eyes behind the red bandanna never wandered
for a moment from the big plainsman. He was taking no risks, for he
remembered the saying current in Arizona, that after Collins' hardware
got into action there was nothing left to do but plant the deceased and
collect the insurance. He had personal reasons to know the fundamental
accuracy of the colloquialism.

The train-conductor fussed up to the masked outlaw with a ludicrous
attempt at authority. "You can't rob the passengers on this train. I'm
not responsible for the express-car, but the coaches--"

A bullet almost grazed his ear and shattered a window on its way to the
desert.

"Drift, you red-haired son of a Mexican?" ordered the man behind the
red bandanna. "Git back to that seat real prompt. This here's taxation
without representation."

The conductor drifted as per suggestion.

The minutes ticked themselves away in a tense strain marked by pounding
hearts. The outlaw stood at the end of the aisle, watching the sheriff
alertly.

"Why doesn't the music begin?" volunteered Collins, by way of
conversation, and quoted: "On with the dance. Let joy be unconfined."

A dull explosion answered his question. The bandits were blowing open
the safe in the express-car with dynamite, pending which the looting of
the passengers was at a standstill.

A second masked figure joined his companion at the end of the passage
and held a hurried conversation with him. Fragments of their low-voiced
talk came to Collins.

"Only thirty thousand in the express-car. Not a red cent on the old man
himself."

"Where's the rest?" The irritation in the newcomer's voice was
pronounced.

Collins slewed his head and raked him with keen eyes that missed not
a detail. He was certain that he had never seen the man before, yet
he knew at once that the trim, wiry figure, so clean of build and so
gallant of bearing, could belong only to Wolf Leroy, the most ruthless
outlaw of the Southwest. It was written in his jaunty insolence, in the
flashing eyes. He was a handsome fellow, white-toothed, black-haired,
lithely tigerish, with masterful mouth and eyes of steel, so far as one
might judge behind the white mask he wore. Alert, cruel, fearless
from the head to the heel of him, he looked the very devil to lead an
enterprise so lawless and so desperate as this. His vigilant eyes swept
contemptuously up and down the car, rested for a moment on the young
woman in Section 3, and came back to his partner.

"Bah! A flock of sheep--tamest bunch of spring lambs we ever struck.
I'll send Scott in to go through them. If anybody gets gay, drop him."
And the outlaw turned on his heel.

Another of the highwaymen took his place, a stout, squat figure in the
flannel shirt, spurs, and chaps of a cow-puncher. It took no second
glance to tell Collins this bandy-legged fellow had been a rider of the
range.

"Come, gentlemen, get a move on you," Collins implored. "This train's
due at Tucson by eight o'clock. We're more than an hour late now. I'm
holding down the job of sheriff in that same town, and I'm awful anxious
to get a posse out after a bunch of train-robbers. So burn the wind, and
go through the car on the jump. Help yourself to anything you find. Who
steals my purse takes trash. 'Tis something, nothing. 'Twas mine; 'tis
his. That's right, you'll find my roll in that left-hand pocket. I hate
to have you take that gun, though. I meant to run you down with that
same old Colt's reliable. Oh, well, just as you say. No, those kids get
a free pass. They're going out to meet papa at Los Angeles, boys. See?"

Collins' running fire of comment had at least the effect of restoring
the color to some cheeks that had been washed white and of snatching
from the outlaws some portion of their sense of dominating the
situation. But there was a veiled vigilance in his eyes that belied his
easy impudence.

"That lady across the aisle gets a pass, too, boys," continued the
sheriff. "She's scared stiff now, and you won't bother her, if you're
white men. Her watch and purse are on the seat. Take them, if you want
them, and let it go at that."

Miss Wainwright listened to this dialogue silently. She stood before
them cool and imperious and unwavering, but her face was bloodless and
the pulse in her beautiful soft throat fluttered like a caged bird.

"Who's doing this job?" demanded one of the hold-ups, wheeling savagely
on the impassive officer "Did I say we were going to bother the lady?
Who's doing this job, Mr. Sheriff?"

"You are. I'd hate to be messing the job like you--holding up the wrong
train by mistake." This was a shot in the dark, and it did not quite
hit the bull's-eye. "I wouldn't trust you boys to rob a hen-roost,
the amateur way you go at it. When you get through, you'll all go to
drinking like blue blotters. I know your kind--hell-bent to spend what
you cash in, and every mother's son of you in the pen or with his toes
turned up inside of a month."

"Who'll put us there?" gruffly demanded the bowlegged one.

Collins smiled at him with confidence superb "Mebbe I will--and if I
don't Bucky O'Connor will--those of you that are left alive when you
go through shooting each other in the back. Oh, I see your finish to a
fare-you-well."

"Cheese it, or I'll bump you off." The first out law drove his gun into
the sheriff's ribs.

"That's all right. You don't need to punctuate that remark. I line up
with the sky-pilot and chew the cud of silence. I merely wanted to frame
up to you how this thing's going to turn out. Don't come back at me and
say I didn't warn you, sonnie."

"You make my head ache," snarled the bandy-legged outlaw sourly, as he
passed down with his sack, accumulating tribute as he passed down the
aisle with his sack, accumulating tribute as he went.

The red-kerchiefed robber whooped when they came to the car conductor.
"Dig up, Mr. Pullman. Go way down into your jeans. It's a right smart
pleasure to divert the plunder of your bloated corporation back to the
people. What! Only fifty-seven dollars. Oh, dig deeper, Mr. Pullman."

The drummer contributed to the sack eighty-four dollars, a diamond ring,
and a gold watch. His hands were trembling so that they played a tattoo
on the sloping ceiling above him.

"What's the matter, Fatty? Got a chill?" inquired one of the robbers, as
he deftly swept the plunder into the sack.

"For--God's sake--don't shoot. I have--a wife--and five children," he
stammered, with chattering teeth.

"No race suicide for Fatty. But whyfor do they let a sick man like you
travel all by his lone?"

"I don't know--I--Please turn that weapon another way."

"Plumb chuck full of malaria," soliloquized the owner of the weapon,
playfully running its business end over the Chicago man's anatomy.
"Shakes worse'n a pair of dice. Here, Fatty. Load up with quinine and
whisky. It's sure good for chills." The man behind the bandanna gravely
handed his victim back a dollar. "Write me if it cures you. Now for the
sky-pilot. No white chips on this plate, parson. It's a contribution to
the needy heathen. You want to be generous. How much do you say?"

The man of the cloth reluctantly said thirty dollars, a Lincoln penny,
and a silver-plated watch inherited from his fathers. The watch was
declined with thanks, the money accepted without.

The Pullman porter came into the car under compulsion of a revolver in
the hand of a fourth outlaw, one in a black mask. His trembling finger
pointed out the satchel and suit-case of Major Mackenzie, and under
orders he carried out the baggage belonging to the irrigation engineer.
Collin observed that the bandit in the black mask was so nervous that
the revolver in his hand quivered like an aspen in the wind. He was
slenderer and much shorter than the Mexican, so that the sheriff decided
he was a mere boy.

It was just after he had left that three shots in rapid succession rang
out in the still night air.

The red-bandannaed one and his companion, who had apparently been
waiting for the signal, retreated backward to the end of the car, still
keeping the passengers covered. They flung rapidly two or three bullets
through the roof, and under cover of the smoke slipped out into the
night. A moment later came the thud of galloping horses, more shots,
and, when the patter of hoofs had died away--silence.

The sheriff was the first to break it. He thrust his brown hands deep
into his pockets and laughed--laughed with the joyous, rollicking
abandon of a tickled schoolboy.

"Hysterics?" ventured the mining engineer sympathetically.

Collins wiped his eyes. "Call 'em anything you like. What pleases me is
that the reverend gentleman should have had this diverting experience
so prompt after he was wishing for it." He turned, with concern, to
the clergyman. "Satisfied, sir? Did our little entertainment please, or
wasn't it up to the mark?"

But the transported native of Pekin was game. "I'm quite satisfied, if
you are. I think the affair cost you a hundred dollars or so more than
it did me."

"That's right," agreed the sheriff heartily. "But I don't grudge it--not
a cent of it. The show was worth the price of admission."

The car conductor had a broadside ready for him. "Seems to me you shot
off your mouth more than you did that big gun of yours, Mr. Sheriff."

Collins laughed, and clapped him on the back. "That's right. I'm a
regular phonograph, when you wind me up." He did not think it necessary
to explain that he had talked to make the outlaws talk, and that he had
noted the quality of their voices so carefully that he would know them
again among a thousand. Also he had observed--other things--the garb
of each of the men he had seen, their weapons, their manner, and their
individual peculiarities.

The clanking car took up the rhythm of the rails as the delayed train
plunged forward once more into the night. Again the clack of tongues,
set free from fear, buzzed eagerly. The glow of the afterclap of danger
was on them, and in the warm excitement each forgot the paralyzing fear
that had but now padlocked his lips. Courage came flowing back into
flabby cheeks and red blood into hearts of water.

At the next station the Limited stopped, and the conductor swung from
a car before the wheels had ceased rolling and went running into the
telegraph office.

"Fire a message through for me, Pat. The Limited has been held up," he
announced.

"Held up?" gasped the operator.

"That's right. Get this message right through to Sabin. I'm not going
to wait for an answer. Tell him I'll stop at Apache for further
instructions."

With which the conductor was out again waving his lantern as a signal
for the train to start. Sheriff Collins and Major Mackenzie had entered
the office at his heels. They too had messages to send, but it was not
until the train was already plunging into the night that the station
agent read the yellow slips they had left and observed that both of them
went to the same person.

"Lieutenant Bucky O'Connor, Douglas, Arizona," was the address he read
at the top of each. His comment serves to show the opinion generally in
the sunburned territory respecting one of its citizens.

"You're wise guys, gents, both of yez. This is shure a case for the
leftenant. It's send for Bucky quick when the band begins to play," he
grinned.

Sitting down, he gave the call for Tucson, preparatory to transmitting
the conductor's message to the division superintendent. His fingers were
just striking the first tap when a silken voice startled him.

"One moment, friend. No use being in a hurry."

The agent looked up and nearly fell from his stool. He was gazing
into the end of a revolver held carelessly in the hand of a masked man
leaning indolently on the counter.

"Whe--where did you come from?" the operator gasped.

"Kaintucky, but I been here a right smart spell. Why? You takin' the
census?" came the drawling answer.

"I didn't hear youse come in."

"I didn't hear you come in, either," the man behind the mask mocked. But
even as he spoke his manner changed, and crisp menace rang in his voice.
"Have you sent those messages yet?"

"Wha--what messages?"

"Those lying on your desk. I say, have you sent them?"

"Not yet."

"Hand them over here."

The operator passed them across the counter without demur.

"Now reach for the roof."

Up shot the station agent's hands. The bandit glanced over the written
sheets and commented aloud:

"Huh! One from the conductor and one from Mackenzie. I expected those.
But this one from Collins is ce'tainly a surprise party. I didn't know
he was on the train. Lucky for him I didn't, or mebbe I'd a-put his
light for good and all. Friend, I reckon we'll suppress these messages.
Military necessity, you understand." And with that he lightly tore up
the yellow sheets and tossed them away.

"The conductor will wire when he reaches Apache," the operator
suggested, not very boldly.

The outlaw rolled a cigarette deftly and borrowed a match. "He most
surely will. But Apache is seventy miles from here. That gives us
an extra hour and a half, and with us right now time is a heap more
valuable than money. You may tell Bucky O'Connor when you see him that
that extra hour and a half cinches our escape, and we weren't on the
anxious seat any without it."

It may have been true, as the train robber had just said, that time was
more valuable to him then than money, but if so he must have held the
latter of singularly little value. For he sat him down on the counter
with his back against the wall and his legs stretched full length in
front of him and glanced over the Tucson Star in leisurely fashion,
while Pat's arms still projected roofward.

The operator, beginning to get over his natural fright, could not
withhold a reluctant admiration of this man's aplomb. There was a
certain pantherish lightness about the outlaw's movements, a trim grace
of figure which yet suggested rippling muscles perfectly under control,
and a quiet wariness of eye more potent than words at repressing
insurgent impulses. Certainly if ever there was a cool customer and one
perfectly sure of himself, this was he.

"Not a thing in the Star to-day," Pat's visitor commented, as he
flung it away with a yawn. "I'll let a thousand dollars of the express
company's money that there will be something more interesting in it
to-morrow."

"That's right," agreed the agent.

"But I won't be here to read it. My engagements take me south. I'll make
a present to the great Lieutenant O'Connor of the information. We're
headed south, tell him. And tell Mr. Sheriff Collins, too--happy to
entertain him if he happens our way. If it would rest your hands
any there's no law against putting them in your trousers pockets, my
friend."

From outside there came a short sharp whistle. The man on the counter
answered it, and slipped at once to the floor. The door opened, to let
in another masked form, but one how different from the first! Here was
no confidence almost insolent in its nonchalance. The figure was slight
and boyish, the manner deprecating, the brown eyes shy and shrinking
He was so obviously a novice at outlawry that fear sat heavy upon his
shoulders. When he spoke, almost in a whisper, his teeth chattered.

"All ready, sir."

"The wires are cut?" demanded his leader crisply.

"Yes, sir."

"On both sides?"

"On both sides."

His chief relieved the operator of the revolver in his desk, broke it,
emptied out the shells, and flung them through the window, then tossed
the weapon back to its owner.

"You'll not shoot yourself by accident now," he explained, and with that
he had followed his companion into the night.

There came to the station agent the sound of galloping horses, growing
fainter, until a heavy silence seemed to fill the night. He stole to the
door and locked it, pulled down the window blinds, and then reloaded
his revolver with feverish haste. This done, he sat down before his keys
with the weapon close at hand and frantically called for Tucson over and
over again. No answer came to him, nor from the other direction when he
tried that. The young bandit had told the truth. His companions had cut
the wires and so isolated from the world for the time the scene of the
hold-up. The agent understood now why the leader of the outlaws had
honored him with so much of his valuable time. He had stayed to hold
back the telegrams until he knew the wires were cut.





Next: The Sheriff Introduces Himself

Previous: Enter Bear-trap Collins



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