These three men were on the eve of a desperate enterprise. For months they had been planning and working together, and the time for action was rapidly approaching. The one called "Cummings," the leader, was apparently, the youngest one of the three. There was nothing in his face to denote the criminal. A stranger looking at him, would imagine him to be a good-natured, jovial chap, a little shrewd perhaps, but fond of a good dinner, a good ...
These three men were on the eve of a desperate enterprise. For months they had been planning and working together, and the time for action was rapidly approaching.
The one called "Cummings," the leader, was apparently, the youngest one of the three. There was nothing in his face to denote the criminal. A stranger looking at him, would imagine him to be a good-natured, jovial chap, a little shrewd perhaps, but fond of a good dinner, a good drink, a good cigar, and nothing else.
One of his colleagues, whom he called "Roe," evidently an alias, was smaller in size, but had a determined expression on his face, that showed him to be a man who would take a desperate chance if necessary.
The third man, called sometimes Weaver, and sometimes Williams, was the smallest one of the conspirators, and also the eldest. His frame, though small, was compact and muscular, but his face lacked both the determination of Roe and the frank, open expression of Cummings.
After scrutinizing the forgery for a time, Roe returned it to Cummings and said, "Jim, who has the run out on the Frisco when you make the plant?"
"A fellow named Fotheringham, a big chap, too. I was going to lay for the other messenger, Hart, who is a small man, and could be easily handled, but he has the day run now."
"This Fotheringham will have to be a dandy if he can tell whether
Barrett has written this or not, eh, Jim?"
"Aye, that he will. Let me once get in that car, and if the letter don't work, I'll give him a taste of the barker."
"No shooting, Jim, no shooting, I swear to God I'll back out if you spill a drop of blood."
Jim's eyes glittered, and he hissed between his teeth:
"You back out, Roe, and you'll see some shooting."
Roe laughed a nervous laugh, and said, as he pushed some blank letter-heads toward Cummings, "Who's goin' to back out, only I don't like the idea of shooting a man, even to get the plunder. Here's the Adam's Express letter-heads I got to-day. Try your hand on the letter."
Cummings, somewhat pacified, with careful and laborious strokes of the pen, wrote as follows:
"SPRINGFIELD, Mo., October 24th, '86.
MESSENGER, TRAIN No. 3, ST. L & ST. F. RTE:
DR. SIR: You will let the bearer, John Broson, Ride in your car to
Peirce, and give him all the Instructions that you can. Yours,
J.B. Barrett, R.A."
"Hit it the first time. Look at that Roe; cast your eye on that elegant bit of literature, Weaver," and Cummings, greatly excited, paced up and down the room, whistling, and indulging in other signs of huge gratification.
"Well done, Jim, well done. Now write the other one, and we'll go and licker up."
Again Cummings picked up his facile pen, and was soon successful in writing the following letter, purporting to be from this same J. B. Barrett.
"SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 21, '86.
"JOHN BRONSON, Esq., St. Louis, Mo.
"DR. SIR: Come at once to Peirce City by train No. 3, leaving St. Louis 8:25 p.m. Inclosed find note to messenger on the train, which you can use for a pass in case you see Mr. Damsel in time. Agent at Peirce City will instruct you further.
"Respectfully, J. B. BARRETT, R. A."
Jim drew a long, deep sigh of relief as he muttered:
"Half the work is done; half the work is done."
Drawing the railroad map of the Chicago & Alton road toward him, he put the pen point on St. Louis, and slowing following the St. L. & S. F. Division, paused at Kirkwood.
"Roe, here's the place I shall tackle this messenger. It is rather close to St. Louis, but it's down grade and the train will be making fast time. She stops at Pacific-here, and we will jump the train there, strike for the river, and paddle down to the K. & S. W. You must jump on at the crossing near the limits, plug the bell cord so the damned messenger can't pull the rope on me, and I will have him foul."