Chapter XXX. Walter Finds Himself in a Tight Place

Walter had hardly time to consider what to do in the light of the discovery he had made before the matter was taken out of his hands.

"Young feller, you'd better get off that hoss!" fell on his ears in a rough voice.

He turned, and saw two stalwart men eyeing him suspiciously.

"Gentlemen," said Walter earnestly, "till I read this notice I had no idea that the horse was stolen."

"That's neither here nor there. You'd better get off the hoss."

Walter felt that this was a command, and obeyed at once.

"Very well, gentlemen," he said. "I will leave the horse in your hands, and depend upon you to return it to the owner."

As Walter spoke he turned to walk off, but the man who had first accosted him got in his way.

"I don't want to have any trouble with you, sir. Please get out of my way, and let me go."

"Not by a long shot."

"What do you propose to do with me?"

"Take you to the lockup."

Walter was now really alarmed.

"You'll have to go with us, young feller!" said Crane.

"And leave the hoss?" asked Penton. "We'd ought to take charge of it, and get the reward."

"That's so, Penton. You go and get a constable. We'll stand by the hoss."

Penton hurried off, and returned shortly with a constable in uniform.

"What's up?" he asked.

"This young feller's rid into town with Colonel Richard Owen's hoss."

"But I'd ought to secure the hoss," said the constable, who felt that perhaps he might be entitled to the reward offered.

"Look here, Cyrus Stokes, you secure the thief--that's your lookout."

"Gentlemen," said Walter, "I object to being called a thief. I have already told you I did not steal the horse."

The constable seized Walter by the arm and walked off with him. To add to his mortification, people whom they met on the street looked at him curiously.