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Man-Hunting in the Pound Man-Hunting in the Pound T HE pale lad from the Pound was telling news to an eager circle of men just outside the open window of the little mountain-hotel, and, inside , I dropped knife and fork to listen. The wily old " Daddy" of the Fleming boys had been captured; the sons were being hemmed in that very day, and a fight between sheriff's posse and outlaws was likely any hour. Ten minutes later I was astride a gray mule, and with an absurd little .32 Smith & Wesson popgun on my hip-the only weapon I could find in town-was on my way to the Pound. Our volunteer police-guard down at "The Gap," twenty miles away, was very anxious to capture those Fleming boys. Talton Hall, feud-leader and desperado , had already been hanged, and so had his bitter enemy, the Red Fox of the Mountains. With the Fleming outlaws brought to justice, the fight of the guard for law and order was about won. And so, as 239 Blue-grass and Rhododendron I was a member of that guard, it behooved me to hurry-which I did. The Gap is in the southwestern corner of old Virginia , and is a ragged gash down through the Cumberland Mountains to the water level of a swift stream that there runs through a mountain of limestone and between beds of iron ore and beds of coking coal. That is why some threescore young fellows gathered there from Blue-grass Kentucky and Tide-water Virginia not many years ago, to dig their fortunes out of the earth. Nearly all were college graduates, and all were high-spirited, adventurous and well-born. They proposed to build a town and, incidentally, to make cheaper and better iron there than was made anywhere else on the discovered earth. A "boom" came. The labor and capital question was solved instantly, for every man in town was straightway a capitalist. You couldn't get a door hung-every carpenter was a meteoric Napoleon of finance. Every young blood in town rode Blue-grass saddle-horses and ate eight-o'clock dinners--making many dollars each day and having high jinks 0' nights at the club, which, if you please, entertained, besides others of distinction, a duke and duchess who had wearily eluded the hospitality of New York. The 24° Man-Hunting in the Pound woods were full of aristocrats and plutocrats-American and English. The world itself seemed to be moving that way, and the Gap stretched its jaws wide with a grin of welcome. Later, you could get a door hung, but here I draw the veil. It was magnificent, but it was not business. At the high tide, even, the Gap was, however, something of a hell-hole for several reasons; and the clash of contrasts was striking. The Kentucky feudsmen would chase each other there, now and then, from over Black Mountain; and the toughs on the Virginia side would meet there on Saturdays to settle little differences of opinion and sentiment. They would quite take the town sometimes-riding through the streets, yelling and punctuating the sign of our one hotel with pistol-bullet periods to this refrain: G.r.a.n.d C.e.n.t.r.a.l H.o.t.e.l Hell! Hell! Hell! -keeping time, meanwhile, like darkies III a hoedown . Or, a single horseman might gallop down one of our wooden sidewalks, with his reins between his teeth, and firing into the ground with a revolver in each hand. All that, too, was magnificent, but it was not business. The people who kept store would have to close up and take to the woods. 241 Blue-grass and Rhododendron And thus arose a unique organization-a volunteer police-guard of gentlemen, who carried pistol, billy, and whistle, and did a policeman's work-hewing always strictly to the line of the law. The result was rather extraordinary. The Gap soon became the only place south of Mason and Dixon's line, perhaps, where a street fight of five minutes' duration, or a lynching, was impossible. A yell, a pistol-shot, or the sight of a drunken man, became a rare occurrence. Local lawlessness thus subdued , the guard extended its benign influence-creating in time a public sentiment fearless enough to convict a desperado, named Talt Hall; and, guarding him from rescue by his Kentucky clansmen for one month at...


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