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Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

1 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

10 1f-— (ALL RIGHTS BEmTJD.].1

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Rhannu

10 1f — (ALL RIGHTS BEmTJD.] 1 NO ROBBERY. BY HENRY FRITH; r- JLuthoT of The Mystery of Moor Faryn," On the Wings of the Wind," Through Flood, Through Firefyc., &c. CHAPTER XVII. GEORGE COLLIER'S STORY. »« IT isn't so very long ago," said Collier, that me and Sandy Sam met un er rather peculiar circumstances. )lind I'm not saying as he is a desp'rate character by any means (he e the speaker glanced nervously over his shoulder), but it's as well to mind what you are about with S. S. "You won't remember Miss Ayrton's wedding, for the reason as you were in India on your own hook-" "Oh, George, say no more about me," interrupted the woman. -.If fi-(,u Iteg your pardon i,nd go on with your story if you want me to rema n here. Very well," said Collier. "it was the evening before Miss Ayrton's wedding day, for she was to be married from Sir Walter Watson's the very next morning, when I Wél- oft duty and bad f {rolled with my pipe along the beach yonder, was where people to bathing TL summer time." "I know it," said Lucy, "Near the Puffin Rock." Aye, that's it. Well, the night was dark as a wolf's mouth and I dit, estlv dat Jeer, and there was a curious dull, heavy feeling Ike thunder, though the sky was not lieavy-lovking enough for that, and the boats were all hauled upon the beach, ready for the :Wal,es that were expected. All of a sudd' n it began to rain, and so thought I to myself, jest t:d;:ü the first sbeitcr, and in I popped into a bathing xnaeh ne which had been hauled up high «nd dry ready for the young ladies next morni g It was e mf, rt able enough in the machine, and I sat down and smoked my pipe, and wished for something stronger then the of sea-water anI hand. Then I began to think, and from thinking I took to dozing, and so right oif to sleep in as regular a suc- cession of cha ges a, a man on horseback in the circus-tent." I've seen him," remarked Lucy, by way of hinting that tho signalman's simile had been under- stood and appreciated. Well, t' en," continued Collier, there I lay all the time—at leas; I don t now how' long-until I was awaken d by a murmuring sound, and when I Stirred myself to listen -for 1 was curious, I can toll ye—I made out one of the voices was I "o'andy ■"ain's," jntlTupted Lucy, hastily and injudiciously. Trust a woman for rashing to a conclusion. The voice, I kne v, was the tones of the butler at the Towers Sir Walter's place, ye know—and ho was speaking in a very quiet voice to somebody beside him. And this is what he said "'I tell ye bow to manage it, mate.' He said mate,' because I roticed it as queer a respec- table butler would stoop to such words with r,trad -,e, s It mightn't have been str:mge: to the man," hazarded Lucy. "No; but I think so all the same. Well, any- ho-v, h, t(-ll v to it. Do you corns to the pantry window at eleven O'clock to-morrow, and be church. Then all you've to do is to just walk up stairs and Collar the lot. But mind, I'm not in it.' Certainly not. Have ye got the fifty pounds safe VeryweU, that's all right. The presents and all is there, isn't there r' said the man I Cou'dn't see. as nincpeuce,' sud the butler and then, after some mo:e com ersati n, all of whch I could not catch, he said, I'll he oft now; mind, ele en o'clock, and no 1« 1.0 about i+.' So they said goof and when the sound of their hods on the u1 el had -:ul(e died away, I came out of been d, li 1 e Cl b •• 1 1 na-j at hijh water. "Now i 1 o sail his companion. "I am surprised ou k pt yo r presence of mind." Tin t 'i h t<> h v icphed th 5 f 1 man, v i.. x<r c > s >>th cim ss •• Tnere weren't so ma. h ..m.-l ,s • oho tit. The thing was what «ufc to b- ,<> ,«•. TLerü was no time to lose, and delays is, as:we know, dangerous, on the railway inore especially. So, I says to myself, Til go and tell the family. But the family p in bed, and no use. Lesides, what could I prove P I couldn't swear to the men) a> d v > er are not always truthful—not in many ways," h »1 I Idterly If Lucy ,he of this back atroke. no notice of -It. She only said as Collier pan < 1 v And wli t did you do, G. o oX ell. fto w r:, and m ih up my mind fo go and s e '-ir. Wnlcu tin very fir t thing in the minting, and inquire about the plare and finery for the bride and the young man who had, perhaps, left a change of things th' re for the Next morning, about nine o'clock, I was off duty, having gone on at midnight, and I went up to the I' ♦ Towers,' and*asked to see the mast r of the house. A woman open d the door to me, and, as the butler was not ju-t t> n in S,C, Look my message ipte, the "He carne into the hall."and inquired my business. I told him s well as I could what I suspected, and likewise that the robbery would take place, by the pantry window. 4 How do know that you are not in this plan yourself, and want to put me off the scent. I ask Marsdcn.' Å, Marsden was the butter, and would, of course, deny everything, so I said— SiT. You may depend upon it it's meant. I hutrcl j Ye-, and intend to share in the job,' sa^sth ) i n. Old birds are not caught with 1 N t e plenty of corn,'I says, impu- d(-,ntoSir. Keep me bere if f like, i> .t mind the plate I'll swear it's I all I Ih 1 you,' he savs, hot I'll lock ye up J 'till if to t nony, will that do ? If you are I wrong nicomiuityc. If ye are right I'll give yo > ;CIO. I., T)" "'>uii"h ,\UY1"'t '1; '1" 4 T ¥'l ^& ?'c*' f | '» ye irive, otay ifeareiffBer, •ntariftr aaty at-fotcr o^csisefe on the railway.' Very well,' he says, you shall have the money and your dinner before that. But mind if there's any deception- There ain't, sir,' I says. 'I declare I have told you the truth.' "He slid no more, then but touched a bell, and up came his men. "'Take care of this man for me until after the wed- ding party returns from the church. Don't do him any harm, but let him earn his dinner in the stables and, Robert—I can depend upon you-do you look after him, and say not a word to anyone. Do you understand me' I touched my cap, and the] gentleman nodded and went upstairs. Mr. Robert, who was a great big fellow, called me out and handed me into the:' care of the stable- men, some of whom I knew. ,I Come for a jib and a bit, George ?' says they. Well, come along; there's plenty to do. We'll look after him, Mr. Robert.' r u The big servant was glad to get away, and after whispering to one or two that I was to be minded, at which my friends all laughed, for I was trusty, I hope, the great servant in stockings went inside and told. his master I was in good hands. Well, there I remained all right, and turned my hand to anything, and it came near eleven o'clock. I was getting very nervous and excited, for all the family had gone to church, and I couldn't tell what the gentleman had done. But there was no alarm, and the married couple came back from church. The men who had been left to watch declared they had heard nothing,and when the party had come home-for I saw them coming up the avenue-I went down to the house, expecting my ten pounds and my share of the good things as according to promise. As soon as ever I had appeared in the back pre- mises the butler runs out at me cryin' out as loud as he could- Here's one of them; this is the man Wilu tried the window at first.' In a minute I was surrounded and caught like an escaped lunatic, and hurried upstairs, where all the ladies and gentlemen in white waistcoats and grand dresses were waiting for their food after the churching-" Wedding, George," said Lucy, by way of paren- thesis and correction. u. APt ¡ Well, they went to church,"didn't they ? How- somdever," continued the signalman, "I vms dragged up,"and Sir Walter"„he came up and said-- So he's one of them, is he?' II" Yes, Sir Walter,' replied the butler, steady as you please; yes, sir. I was just finishing putting out the plate when I noticed this man and another coming up to the window, which was, as I told you, accidentally open. I was standing by it close, when, all of a sudden, the other man hit me a blow and knocked me down plump. I was stunned like.' Well,' said his master. Go on,' he says. In a minute, sir, the other man was through the top of the window, and taking out a pistol he held it at me. Then he cleared the silver right off, and handed it to this one; and then, still pointing the pistol— and I was afraid to stir-they got away with the plunder.' 'What was the other manlike ?/ asked a gentle- man. "'Well, I can't for certain my,' replied the butler, but he had a grey coat on, and a black piece of cloth on his face. This fellow had nothing but a cap pulled down over his eyes, and lie scuttled away across the park as quick as he could. The other man went off by the wall and up on the hill.' "'Why didn't you give the alarm?' said the gentleman. were plenty of men in the stables and in the grounds.' Have you any idea where the plate has been taken to? asiced Sir Walter, with a look in' his eyes wh'ch the man did not like. "'I can't tell, sir,' replied the butler, 'and it's very unpleasant having insinuations made at me. I will go downs airs,, it you please. Perhaps the accomplice can ten.' 'Very likely it's in the bathing box where you and your friend tho thief planned the robbery .last night,' I said. Try there, sir! "Ye never in all your days saw a man so flabbergastod' as the butler was when I said this om among aU the people. NVIIO are you he says, pushing his way I toward the door. But he was prevented going out by some of the men and the gentlemen of, the I house. 'You saw me, did you,' I said. '\V ell, then, I have witnesses to prove where I was. Now tell the I truth, if ye can.' He was quite kno ked up, and when he saw the police. o ( i who had tracked the robber, but never caugh h only he got the plate back. When he eaw.he p h eman roaie in, I declare he fell on his n* nfessed it all, '.rying like a great girl. knees and confessed it all, ,I-yirig like a great girl. It was a very pretty plant/ I can tell ye," con- ] tinued the signalman, "and I got my ten pounds and more. Many of the ladies and gentlemen sub- ? scribf d money and gan it to me, and I have it safe I aga'nst day; hid away in the corner of the signal-box, where no one ever can find it." "That's right, George; but suppose anything hap- pened to you, and you wanted it, what would ya do?" I'd tell someone then, and I don't mind telling you. It's up near the levers, on the left side, buried near the box in the woodwork. What's that noise ?" "What noise?", she said. "I heard nothing." A creak," he said, anxiously. "I wouldn't have anyone to know of my hiding-places for all the fn u he replied, looking out ,a nd rtt ur n v1, But you didn't your ctdrv did 1 that the man who took tl i ) which I can swear to^ and parUy I 1 up somgthing belonging to him which i ten with ^0 j thing he ha.3 now. If ever I f t1- i io f it will he bad for him. He has t n i ill turn more than once, and I'll even lum." George, I must go down to the village. '[ ye for your story. I will keep your secret quite And I nr^t if r ui> ic h for my tusn to- il > t < n 1 tl mil > r > 1 b^ T rcy 411 that 1 ii will be } jurs, my n 1 :■ :• r "I hkt that, George; I'm sure I don't want jjienr. But I'm glad you"ve confidence in hie. j I thîÎlk I take Bridget's cottage, and save you mv j j 's JX tea at the Chronicle Office, Fenarth. 1 rthinkye had better, Lucy. We can't live here together. If ye want anything I will let ye. have it if I can but never mind me—good-bye; I'll be out all night." "ril call to-morrow and tell you my plans. I may remain here to-night, I suppose, with the child?" "0' course, o' course," was the answer; "you'll have it all to yourself." She went away in the direction of the village. The signalman went for his coat and lamp, and busied himself about tea: and Sandy Sam crept under the hedge from the window where he had been listening, and with stealthy steps and a murderous expression in his face, took his way unseen along the railway cutting. CHAPTER XVIII. FACE TO ',IACP, NIGHT has fallen upon the neighbourhood, and save for the occasional barking of a dog, and-nearer the town—the never-ceasing hum of movement con- nected with the canal and the railway, we may say that Landstone is silent. I But unseen and unheard a great struggle- is going on, not only in the town in the hearts of men, but in the workshops, which are almost silent too. "Sandy" Sam, a lazy, idle good-for-nothing fellow, who never did any work that he could help, and yet who had brain sufficient to do the right thing at the right time, and who also possessed the art of commanding men—making them work—"Sandy" Sam was busy. Very busy—as well employed as the devil is said to be in a gale of wind. He had been idle long enough, and now his evil genius prompted him to turn upon his employer, for he had long been waiting an opportunity to "spite" Sir Walter, and to obtain rev* nge for the disappointment he had experienced at the wedding of Lady Watson's sister. But he had miscalculated his influence. What- ever may have been the chairman's faults of temper and manner, he was just and straightforward, honest, and true to his men. He only employed those who rightly carried out his orders, and more than once Sandy Sam had got hauled over the coals for inattention or self-will when the chair- man came poking his long nose into the shops," as Mr. Sam chose to phrase it. There are some natures which will, when re- proved, imagine themselves slighted and ill-treated they cannot brook reproof, and so sulk, not daring to rebel, but with all the will and intention to be revened, Sandy Sam, who had gained his title from his pale, freckled face and sandy hair, was a most unpleasant customer to deal with. He stored up every little slight, and by degrees built up his mole hills into quite a formidable range of mountains of offence. The last difficulty had caused him to set the new locomotive along the jails; and when this dia- bolical act had been nearly traced to him, and with it his supposed complicity in the presence on it of young Edward 'Watson, who might have thereby lost his life. As acting foreman, Sam knew quite well that the engine had steam in her. He knew or guessed that young Edward had intended to sleep in the shops, so as to be ready early in the morning, as he had done before. He knew all these things, and had put him on the engine. It was deliberate and -intended murder, but Sandy" Sam kept his own couiKjel, and was only dismissed without ceremony. Unfortunately all this tended to make his revenge the more deliberate and sure. There were thus some slight resemblances between him and Lucy Layton, but she had acted from a feeling that she had been deceived, and became thereby em- bittered. Sandy Sam was wicked, and delighted in mischief for its own sake. The "shops were silent; the men had gone home. A few cleaners and other assistants were employed in the engine stables and sheds, but many men had left that evening with the avowed determination not to go to work again in the immediate future. A strike was imminent, and Sandy Sam had been undermining the men. x Meanwhile George Collier had left his cottage, gad IsijcMng it up, had put the key where Lucy could find it if she had not been successful in finding lodgings for herself and child. The signalman soon reached his box, and after a. few minutes' conversa- tion, he took over the duties from the man in charge. _o,B_AP He was rather uneasy in his mind still concerning the confidence he had placed in Lucy concerning his hidden treasure, and knowing that about mid- night he would, in all probability, have somo moments to spare from the signals, he made up his mind to transfer his hoarded wealth to an equally safe but not so easily an available hiding place. When the mail and fast goods had both gone by, he would make the change. There they go. Both trains 'passed rapidly, all safe and well,but at the same time a desperate man was advancing cautiously along the embankment to take the signalman by surprise, and seize upon his little store. All is quiet. George Collier advances to the well- known hiding-place, near the heavy lever, worked with a spring-catch, and pulled off with much difficulty, for the wire to the signal post extended some hundreds of yards, and was not easy to move, while the rebound was tremendous when the signal was let go. The signal was pulled back, and George Collier went upon his hands and lcneos to see whether the little hoarded wealth was still untouched. Yes, there it was quite safe. A goodish help unsuspected in the "knotted" piece of timber which had been hollowed out to make room for it. A piece of a gilt button, a common ornament enough, lay hidden with the money. "That piece of metal had belonged to the man who had committed the robbery, and for whose appre- hensicn Sir Walter had offered a handsome reward -that, is, a handsome reward, when we consider, as he did, that every man in the neighbourhood was more or less dependent upon him, and that it was extremely generous of him to offer any reward at all under the circumstances to men who only did their duty." George Collier gazed at the token. He had become aware that this link in the chum of evidence would, if properly used, forge the tetters of Sandy Sam, who had made unkind remarks, and who had done many bad things, and stirred up strife in the district. That Sam deserved hanging Collier never doubted—the difficulty was to prove the facts. "Well, this is all right; but I think I'll put the stuff a little higher up. There's a capital place behind the instrument out of everybody's way, and I can have it under my eye. Nobody would ever