Walter Sherwood's Probation by Horatio Alger
Chapter XXVII. Walter Becomes a Capitalist
Professor Robinson slumbered on, blissfully unconscious of the events that had made the night an exciting one. When he came downstairs early in the morning he strayed accidentally into the room where Dick Ranney was confined under guard. Being short-sighted, he did not see the captive until Ranney hailed him.
"Good morning, professor!"
The professor skipped nimbly back and gazed at the prisoner in alarm.
"You here?" he exclaimed.
"Yes," answered Dick, grimly.
"But how did it happen?"
"I came to the hotel a little after midnight to make you a call, but went first to the room of your assistant."
"What, after midnight?"
"Yes. It is hardly necessary to explain what happened. Here I am!"
"Ah, my friend," said the professor, "this may be fortunate for you, if it leads you to consider and reflect upon the errors of your life."
"Oh, stow that!" exclaimed Ranney, in disgust. "I'm not that kind of a man. I follow my own course and take the consequences."
The professor shook his head sadly and went out. Later, when he heard what had happened, he said to Walter: "If that man had come into my room at midnight I should have died of fright."
"There was no occasion to be alarmed," returned Walter, "We were prepared for him."
"I--I am afraid I was never cut out for a hero," said the professor. "My nervous system is easily upset."
The plain truth was that Professor Robinson was a born coward, though he was stronger and more muscular, probably, than Grant, Sherman or Sheridan. But it is not brawn and muscle that make a hero, but the spirit that animates the man, and of this spirit the professor had very little. Yet in after years when he had retired from business and was at leisure to live over again his past life, he used to tell with thrilling effect how he and Walter had trapped and captured the daring outlaw, Dick Ranney, and received admiring compliments upon his courage and prowess, which he complacently accepted, though he knew how little he deserved them.
It so chanced that Stilwell was the county seat and court was in session at that time, and nearly ready to wind up its business. It was owing to this circumstance that the trial of Dick Ranney was held at once. By request Walter and the professor remained to bear testimony against the prisoner, and Manning also strengthened the case against him. Within less than a week the trial was concluded, a verdict of guilty was brought in, and the prisoner sentenced to a ten years' term of imprisonment.
Dick Ranney heard the sentence with philosophical calmness.
"My good friend," said the professor, "I trust that in your long years of confinement you will reflect upon--"
"Don't worry about that," interrupted Dick. "I sha'n't be in prison three months."
"But I thought--"
"Bolts and bars can be broken, professor. When I do get out I will inquire what part of the country you are in and will make you a visit."
This promise, so far from cheering Professor Robinson, seemed to disconcert him extremely, and he shortened his talk with his road acquaintance.
After the trial was over Walter was waited upon by an official, who tendered him the reward of one thousand dollars offered for the capture of Dick Ranney.
"Mr. Manning has waived his claim in your favor," explained the official, "and therefore there is no question that to you belongs the reward."
"There are two others whose services deserve recognition," said Walter; "the two constables who made the arrest."
"There is no additional sum at our command," explained the official.
"None is needed," returned Walter. "I shall pay each a hundred dollars out of the reward which has been awarded to me."
It is needless to say that the two constables, both of whom were poor men with large families, were very grateful for this substantial recognition of their services.