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Five Thousand Dollars Reward   By:

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[Transcriber's note: The non standard spellings of the original text have been retained in this etext.]







"Will you give me a glass of water, please?"

A ragged, bearded tramp stood before the door of a cottage near the outskirts of a country village, and propounded this question to a pretty girl who stood in the door.

"In a moment."

The girl disappeared, soon returning with a pitcher.

She went to the pump near, and soon had the pitcher running over with sparkling water.

"I will bring a cup."

"Needn't mind."

The tramp lifted the pitcher and quaffed the water as though he enjoyed it.

His eyes were not pleasant as he turned them keenly on the pretty face of the girl.

"Folks at home?"


"All alone, eh?"

"Yes; but Ransom will be around soon my brother."

The eyes of the tramp glittered. He seemed to delight in reading the fresh young face before him.

"Nobody at home, eh?" he grunted. "Mebbe I'd better go in and rest a bit. Any objections?"

"Yes. If you are hungry I'll bring you food out here."

It was a pleasant day, and the sun was warm without being hot, a rare enjoyable day in June.

It seemed to the girl that there could be no excuse for a stout man like the one before her tramping and begging through the country.

"Why do you not work?" she said.

"I wasn't born that way," and he chuckled unpleasantly.

The girl hurried into the house.

His Trampship followed.

She was not a little alarmed at finding the ill looking fellow close at her heels. She feared and dared not anger him.

Placing a chair at a table, she bade him be seated, and then she hastened to set before him bread, milk and cold meat.

"The best the house affords, eh?" he chuckled, as he sat up to the repast. "The very best."

"And it's good enough for a king."

Then he fell to and ate ravenously.

The girl walked to the door and gazed uneasily down the road.

"Brother comin'?"

"I do not see him."

"What's your name?"

The tramp was inquisitive.


"Eh? Is that a fact?"

The stout fellow started and regarded the girl fixedly.

"Is the name a familiar one?" questioned the girl after a moment, anxious to conciliate the man. Her nearest neighbor was at least a quarter mile distant, and the house was concealed by a clump of trees, so that the girl felt that she was at the mercy of this burly, ill looking stranger, should he attempt violence.

"Vane, Vane," he muttered. "Reckon I've heard the name before. And you're Victory, I reckon?"


"Exactly. Sister to Rance Vane. I know'd that chap onct, and I found him not a man, but a scamp. I never liked the Vanes, father'n son. The old man's dead, I s'pose?"


"How long sense?"

"More than a year."

"Good 'nough. He wa'nt o' much account."

The tramp's eyes seemed to become suddenly bloodshot. He shoved from the table, and rose to his feet.

The girl hoped to see him go, but he made no move to do so.

"You live alone with your brother?" he queried, suddenly.

"Most of the time."

"Victory, did ye ever hear Rance speak of Perry Jounce?"

The man leered at her in a way that sent a chill over her.


"No? Wal, he didn't like me. I reckin I'll hev a kiss afore I go, anyhow."

He began to move toward her. She started to escape through the open door, but was not quick enough. The man's hand grasped her arm and she felt herself drawn toward him.

Then Victoria Vane uttered a piercing scream.

"Stop that yellin', you fool!" hissed the tramp. He drew her to him and bent to press his bearded lips to her cheek.

On the instant another person appeared upon the scene... Continue reading book >>

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