6th Excerpt from “WESTERN LEGEND”

UPDATE: the editing/revision stage is done; check edits have been completed; the book is soon to be typeset for e-book. Right on schedule for publication next month. (July)

(For those who came in late, please click synopsis at top of blog “before” reading.)

Within the Nacogdoches saloon, eleven-year-old boys have asked former desperado Frank James about the James-Younger Gang’s foiled bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1876.  Within the context of his recollection, the author has established a definitive account of this historical incident. The following has been heavily researched for accuracy.

This “selected” text has been taken from …  CHAPTER NINE – NORTHFIELD

*****

Out on the noisy street, Cole and Clell had dismounted and were tying up their horses near the bank, while also watching traffic in the eighty-foot-wide thoroughfare. Younger was on the lookout for trouble. While Clell, sporting a white linen handkerchief around his neck, a new shirt with gold sleeve-buttons, a matching gold ring, and a John Hancock felt hat, began to pack his pipe, completely unconcerned.

On the porch of a drugstore not far away, twenty-two year old Dr. Henry M. Wheeler was seated in his father’s rocking chair, talking to a couple of friends. As his eyes fell upon the street, they locked on Cole and Clell, both of whom were suspiciously standing near their horses, ranging the street around them. Without saying a word, Wheeler stood and stepped into the street — and soon spotted J.S. Allen moving closer to the bank, evaluating the bank’s closed doors with profound interest.

Inside the bank, there was only chaos.

The three robbers were repeatedly accosting the three bank employees with, “You are the cashier,” each time provoking a denial out of Heywood, Bunker, and Wilcox.

Bob Younger ordered Bunker and Wilcox on their knees and demanded the location of the cash drawer. Wilcox pointed and Younger opened the drawer, finding only a roll of nickels; which he promptly removed and dropped with a clunk to the floor.

Back outside, Wheeler continued moving slowly across the street, glaring at Cole and Clell. Cole instantly turned his back to him, so he focused on Clell. Anyone could see that Clell Miller needed a shave. But many initially missed that in spite of Miller’s finer clothes, he was wearing two different types of boot — one of finer leather, the other a cheap brand. Wheeler was starting to put it all together now. Clell spotted Wheeler staring at him, and spun around. Wheeler continued walking. He wanted to see inside that bank.

J.S. Allen arrived at the bank doors, reached out and opened them — and Clell Miller’s gloved hand reached out and closed them again, softly. Instantly, Clell grabbed Allen by his collar, pulling him close. Allen’s gaze was filled with Clell’s blue eyes. Then it was filled with the muzzle of the bandit’s .44 caliber pistol.

“What’s happening here?” Allen demanded.

“Don’t you holler,” Clell said in heavy whisper past his pipe, “If you do, I’ll blow your damned head off.”

Allen caught his breath and backed off quickly.

At that instant Wheeler’s voice was heard among street traffic, shouting, “Get your guns, boys, they’re robbin’ the bank!”

Cole reeled. He drew and pointed his pistol point blank at Wheeler.

“Get out of here, dingus!” Cole shouted.

Wheeler began running to the Dampier Hotel at the near opposite side of the street, screaming, “ROBBERY!”

J.S. Allen began running back toward his store, dodging at least two shots along the way.

Several citizens were now in the street with shovels, boards, and anything else they could find handy, shouting and making a lot of racket. It was a futile attempt to drive the robbers away.

Cole and Clell looked at each other, mounted their horses, and in-tandem fired their pistols into the air.

Citizens in the street scattered. And fast.

The last three men at the Bridge heard the dual gunshots, pulled their revolvers, and galloped into Mill Square.

At the exterior bank entrance, Clell stepped his horse close to the doors and pleaded through the glass, “Hurry up, boys — they’ve given the alarm!”

Back inside the bank, the initial three men were still getting nowhere. After hearing Clell’s message, they glanced around at one another, before all gazes landed on Joseph Lee Heywood, still upon the cashier’s seat. Charlie Pitts leveled a long-barreled pistol at Heywood’s head, and in a harsh voice said, “You are the cashier. Now open the safe you goddamn son-of-a-bitch.”

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