The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 10, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 10

The court-house bell ringing in the night! No hesitating stroke of
Schofields' Henry, no uncertain touch, was on the rope. A loud, wild,
hurried clamor pealing out to wake the country-side, a rapid clang!
clang! clang! that struck clear in to the spine.

The court-house bell had tolled for the death of Morton, of Garfield, of
Hendricks; had rung joy-peals of peace after the war and after political
campaigns; but it had rung as it was ringing now only three times; once
when Hibbard's mill burned, once when Webb Landis killed Sep Bardlock and
intrenched himself in the lumber-yard and would not be taken till he was
shot through and through, and once when the Rouen accommodation was
wrecked within twenty yards of the station.

Why was the bell ringing now? Men and women, startled into wide
wakefulness, groped to windows--no red mist hung over town or country.
What was it? The bell rang on. Its loud alarm beat increasingly into men's
hearts and quickened their throbbing to the rapid measure of its own.
Vague forms loomed in the gloaming. A horse, wildly ridden, splashed
through the town. There were shouts; voices called hoarsely. Lamps began
to gleam in the windows. Half-clad people emerged from their houses, men
slapping their braces on their shoulders as they ran out of doors.
Questions were shouted into the dimness.

Then the news went over the town.

It was cried from yard to yard, from group to group, from gate to gate,
and reached the furthermost confines. Runners shouted it as they sped by;
boys panted it, breathless; women with loosened hair stumbled into
darkling chambers and faltered it out to new-wakened sleepers; pale girls
clutching wraps at their throats whispered it across fences; the sick,
tossing on their hard beds, heard it. The bell clamored it far and near;
it spread over the country-side; it flew over the wires to distant cities.
The White-Caps had got Mr. Harkless!

Lige Willetts had lost track of him out near Briscoes', it was said, and
had come in at midnight seeking him. He had found Parker, the "Herald"
foreman, and Ross Schofield, the typesetter, and Bud Tipworthy, the devil,
at work in the printing-room, but no sign of Harkless, there or in the
cottage. Together these had sought for him and had roused others, who had
inquired at every house where he might have gone for shelter, and they had
heard nothing. They had watched for his coming during the slackening of
the storm and he had not come, and there was nowhere he could have gone.
He was missing; only one thing could have happened.

They had roused up Warren Smith, the prosecutor, the missing editor's most
intimate friend in Carlow, and Homer, the sheriff, and Jared Wiley, the
deputy. William Todd had rung the alarm. The first thing to do was to find
him. After that there would be trouble--if not before. It looked as if
there would be trouble before. The men tramping up to the muddy Square in
their shirt-sleeves were bulgy about the right hips; and when Homer Tibbs
joined Lum Landis at the hotel corner, and Landis saw that Homer was
carrying a shot-gun, Landis went back for his. A hastily sworn posse
galloped out Main Street. Women and children ran into neighbors' yards and
began to cry. Day was coming; and, as the light grew, men swore and
savagely kicked at the palings of fences that they passed.

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