Dick merriwell abroad; o.., p.13
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       Dick Merriwell Abroad; Or, The Ban of the Terrible Ten, p.13
 

          
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  CHAPTER XIII.

  PROFESSOR GUNN'S WILD RIDE.

  Strange and unusual things were happening at Robin Hood Tavern thatnight. Perhaps not since the days of the famous outlaw himself had suchblood-stirring events happened on that particular spot.

  Professor Gunn held up his hands in consternation as the impetuous youngTexas hurled himself crashing through the door.

  "Dear me! dear me!" gasped Zenas. "What a boy! what a boy! Impossible torestrain him! Impossible to refine him! Sometimes he acts like otherpeople, but at other times----Eh? What's that?"

  The old pedagogue heard the cry that caused Brad to gather himself andgo bounding recklessly down the dark stairs.

  "Sounded peculiar!" whispered Zenas, listening at the door. "I don'tlike it! I fear something is wrong!"

  Then he heard excited voices rising from below and distinctly understoodBuckhart to shout the name of Bunol.

  "Bunol!" gurgled the old man. "That scoundrel! That miserable villain!Is he here? Can it be possible?"

  Something stirred in a dark corner of the hall. He saw the thing moveand cried out:

  "Who's there? What are you doing? What do you want?"

  There were two of them. They came out of the darkness swiftly and wereupon him in a moment. Over their faces they wore masks, and theprofessor gave a cry of dismay as he saw a pistol in the hand of one ofthem. The weapon was pointed at Zenas, and the man who held it growled:

  "Better keep still, guvner! If you raise a noise we'll 'ave to shootyou, and we don't want to do hanything like that."

  "Robbers!" whispered the old man. "This place is a den of thieves! We'llall be robbed and murdered here!"

  Had the door not been broken he might have tried to close and hold itagainst them, but now he was totally defenseless.

  "Don't shout, don't speak, don't heven whisper!" commanded the man withthe pistol.

  "All right," said Zenas, disobeying the order. "I won't make a noise.Take my money! I haven't much. Be careful with that deadly weapon! Itmight go off by accident!"

  They entered the room, while the commotion below continued.

  "Hif you're sensible, guvner," said the one with the pistol, "you'll getoff with an 'ole skin; but hif you're foolish Hi'm afraid you'll get'urt."

  "Don't waste time in talk, pal!" growled the other fellow. "We've got tomove lively."

  "Here's my purse," said Zenas, holding it out. "Take it--take it and go!"

  One of the men took it, but at the same time he said:

  "We wants you to take a little walk with us, guvner. Now you 'adn'tbetter refuse, for we'll 'ave to shoot you hif you do. Don't hask hanyquestions, but move and move in a 'urry. Right out of the door, guvner.March!"

  They grasped him by the arms and he was unceremoniously hustled throughthe broken door. He thought they were going to take him toward the frontstairs, but they forced him falteringly along a dark and narrow passage,coming to another flight of stairs at the back of the house, which theydescended.

  "What are you going to do?" whispered the agitated old man.

  "Shut hup!" growled the fellow with the pistol. "Hif you hopen your 'eadhagain Hi'll 'ave to shoot you."

  In the darkness they passed through a room at the back of the house andcame to a door that let them out into the open air. The stars wereshining brightly through the leaf-denuded branches of the trees.

  Just as they reached the open air there was a crashing and jangling ofbroken glass at the front of the house.

  The starlight showed Zenas that a pair of horses had been attached tothe closed carriage he had observed standing near the building. A manwas standing at the head of the horses. Another man was perched on thedriver's seat, holding the reins.

  The man who had hold of Gunn now rushed him without loss of time to thecarriage, the door of which was standing open. Without regard for hisfeelings, they lifted him bodily and pitched him into the vehicle.

  He bumped his head and uttered a cry of pain and fear.

  One of the men sprang in and perched upon his body. The other manfollowed. A whip cracked like a pistol, and with a jerk the carriagestarted.

  "Pull in his legs, pal!" exclaimed the man astride Zenas. "You can'tclose the door unless you pull in his legs."

  "Blawst 'is blooming legs!" came from the other man. "Make 'im pull 'emhup."

  "Pull up your feet, old man!" commanded the one who was holdingZenas--"pull them up, if you don't want to lose the top of your head!"

  "I'm a dead man!" groaned the old professor. "This is the end of me!"

  He pulled up his legs, and the carriage door was closed at last.

  While this was taking place the carriage had whirled out from the forestinn into the highway, with the horses at a dead run. Persons rushingfrom the inn were startled and astonished, but they gave their attentionto the search for Miguel Bunol, who had lately leaped through one of thewindows of Robin Hood's Tavern.

  Zenas Gunn gave himself up for lost.

  "Never thought I'd come to such an untimely end," he moaned. "Why did weever visit Sherwood Forest?"

  Suddenly he became frantic and began to shout for help. Three times hedid this before the man astride of him could do anything to prevent it.

  "For 'Eaven's sake smother 'im!" burst from the other man.

  The fellow holding Gunn down got him by the throat and quickly checkedthe cries.

  But those cries had been heard by both Dick Merriwell and Brad Buckhart.

  The carriage bounced, and swayed, and rumbled over the forest road.

  It was a terrible experience for Professor Gunn. The old fellow believedhe had fallen into the hands of robbers, who were carrying him off withthe idea of holding him for ransom.

  Suddenly something happened. Some portion of the harness on one of thehorses became unfastened, and the driver was compelled to pull up assoon as possible. He sprang down from the seat and made haste to fix theharness.

  The horses had been excited and fretted by the manner in which they werewhipped at the very outset. As the driver came alongside one of them theanimal snorted, shied and sprang against its mate. The other horse gavea leap, and a second later both animals were running away.

  The driver was jerked off his feet and dragged some distance. He clungto the reins, vainly endeavoring to hold the terrified creatures, butfinally his hold relaxed and the animals raced on unguided, their fearsseeming to increase as they ran.

  At first the two ruffians inside did not realize what had happened, butsoon they began to suspect that everything was not quite right.

  "'E's drivin' 'orrid reckless, pal," said the one with the cockneydialect. "'E'll 'ave us hupset hif 'e don't look hout."

  The carriage rocked and swayed, flinging its three occupants from sideto side. At a sharp turn of the road it snapped round on two wheels,threatening to go over. Once the hub of a rear wheel struck the trunk ofa tree and the carriage was flung violently to one side.

  It was now the turn of Professor Gunn's captors to be alarmed.

  "What's he trying to do, get us all killed?" palpitated the one who hadbeen holding the old pedagogue, but who was now occupied in taking careof himself, which was no small matter.

  "Hi believe the 'orses are running haway," said the other.

  "Can't the thundering fool hold them?"

  "'E don't seem hable to."

  Then they began shouting to the driver, but as there was no driver onthe seat, they received no reply.

  Down a hill and over a stone bridge went the runaway team. The hoofs ofthe horses clattered on the frozen ground and the wheels made a rumblingroar like sullen thunder. The woods echoed with these sounds.

  Professor Gunn managed to sit up and drag himself upon a cushioned seatin a corner of the carriage. The curtain at the glass window was up, andoutside the old man saw the trees flying past.

  With his heart in his mouth, Zenas waited for the termination of thatwild night ride, yet dreaded what it might be.

  The ruffians were frighten
ed indeed now. One of them succeeded inopening the door and shouted again and again to the man he supposed washolding the reins. The carriage swept close to a tree, the trunk ofwhich struck the door and slammed it shut, driving the man's headthrough the glass, which was shattered, and cut him in a manner thatbrought blood copiously.

  The man was dazed. He fell back on Zenas, who thrust him off.

  "The 'orses hare running haway and there is no driver!" cried thecockney.

  Suddenly Professor Gunn was seized with a feeling of revengeful joy. Heknew the men were frightened, and a singular sort of courage came uponhim.

  "Serves you right, you villains!" he shrilly shouted. "I'm glad of it! Ihope they run until they smash everything into a million pieces!"

  "Ain't there any way of stoppin' them, pal?" questioned one of theruffians.

  "No, Hi don't believe there is."

  "Let them run! let them run!" laughed Zenas wildly. "You brought it onyourselves! It's good enough for you! Going to carry me off and hold mefor ransom, were you? This is what you get! I hope you enjoy it!"

  "Shut up, you old fool!"

  "I won't shut up! You can't shut me up! Ha! ha! ha! Let them run! letthem run!"

  Suddenly, with a fearful shock, one of the forward wheels struck someobstruction. The carriage careened into the air and over it went, beingflung from the road and fairly against a sturdy tree. The horses torethemselves free from the ruined vehicle and continued their mad flightalong the forest road.

  The wrecked carriage lay overturned by the roadside, and from itsshattered ruins came no sound to tell whether its occupants were livingor dead.

 
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