Chapter LXIII

Casey was safely in custody. Cora also had been taken on a second trip to the jail. They had been escorted into the headquarters, the doors of which had closed behind them and behind the armed men who guarded them. The streets were filled with an orderly crowd. They waited with that same absence of excitement, impatience, or tumult so characteristic of all the popular gatherings of that earnest time, save when the upholders of the law were gathered. After a long interval one of the committeemen, Dows by name, appeared at an upper window. He did not have to appeal for attention, and had barely to raise his voice.

"It is not the intention of the committee to be hasty," he announced. "Nothing more will be done to-day."

Silence greeted this statement. At last some one spoke up:

"Where are Casey and Cora?" he asked.

"The committee holds possession of the jail; all are safe," replied Dows.

With this assurance the crowd was completely satisfied, as it proved by dispersing quietly and at once.

Of the three thousand enrolled men, three hundred were retained under arms at headquarters; a hundred surrounded and watched the jail; the rest were dismissed. About midnight a dense fog descended on the city. The streets were deserted. But on the roofs of the jail and the adjacent buildings indistinct figures stalked to and fro in the misty moonlight.

All next day, which was Monday, headquarters remained inscrutable. Small activities went forward. Guards and patrols were changed. The cannon was brought from before the jail. Early in the day a huge crowd gathered, packing the adjacent streets, watching patiently far into the night to see what would happen. Nothing happened.

But about the city at large patrols of armed men moved on mysterious business. Gun shops were picketed, and their owners forbidden to sell weapons. Evidently the committee was carrying out a considered plan.

Toward evening the weather thickened and a rain came on. It turned colder. Still the crowd did not disperse. It stood in its sodden shoes, hugging its sodden cloaks to its shoulders, humped over, waiting. About eight o'clock several companies in rigid marching formation appeared. A stir of interest, shivered through the crowd, but died as it became evident that this was only a general relief for those on duty during the day. At midnight, or thereabouts, the crowd went home; but again by first daylight the streets for blocks were jammed full. Still it rained with a sullen, persistence. Still nothing happened.

And all over the city business was practically at a stand. Knots of men stood conferring on every corner. Conversation in mixed company was very wary indeed. No man dared express himself too openly. The courts were empty. Some actually closed, on one excuse or another, but most went through a form of business. Some judges took the occasion to go to White Sulphur Springs on vacations, long contemplated, they said. These things occasioned lively comment. It was generally known that the Sacramento steamer of the evening before had carried several hundred passengers, all with pressing business at the capitol, or somewhere else. As our chronicler tells it: "A good many who had things on their minds left for the country." Still it rained; still the crowd waited; still the headquarters of the Committee of Vigilance remained closed and inscrutable.