HELPING THE DOCTOR
3y Walter James Delaney.
"You did us a good turn once, Doc.
We intend to return the compliment."
Young Dr. HectonJS'airbanks smil
ed pleasantly but mqulringly in
fact, almost-suspiciously. The speak
er was Dan Babbitt. As he stood
garbed in "his rude Tennessee moun
- taine'er's costume, two holsters at his
belt, strength independence and grit
showing in every strong lineament of
t ' c"-'
"That Ought to Please You."
tface, the doctor did not marvel
t hfi- had 'been made the leader of
the famous "Midnight Riders.''
It was a raw district, that of which
the young physician had been a resi
dent for about a -year. There were
two principal points In the county
Ridgeford. and Princeville. It was at
tie former town that Dr. Fairbanks
h'ad taken up his abode. The two
places were only five miles apart, and
the .-'safety zone," as It was. called,
encircled them for- an eareq of about
twenty milet Thence to.thesouth o(
Princeville was a mountainous
stretch. Infested by xough moonshin
ers known as the Breckitt clan. The
same condition prevailed south of
Ridgeford, where Dan Babbitt and
his-"Midnight Riders" held full sway,.
A. broken ridge divided the two dis
tricts, the respective Tights and privi
leges of which were jealously guard
ed by either community.
For years a small but solidly huilt
structure located just on the town
ship line at a little settlement called
Bryan had been the, register's office
of the county. All the official business
of the district was carried on there,
and there the county Tecords were
kept One night the Breckitt raiders,
wiping out a fancied insult frorif the
main residents of the place, "shot up"
the settlement, set fire to what little
there was of it, and every structure
in Bryan was consumed except. the
The state authorities were advised
of this-outrage and ordered a special
election. The votes of the county
were to decide upqn a new site for the
register's office, with a view to locat
ing it in a less isolated locality where
its Tecords could be protected. A cen
tral point was necessary, and the
choice designated was between
Ridgeford and Princeville..
It was an uproarious occasion. The
election was held at Bryan. The
Breckitts appeared en masse,-mounted
and armed. So did the "Midnight
Riders." Their leaders grouped their
men 'near the office to '"protect" it
and prevent fraud. About noon the
indications were that the votes were
favoring Princeville. At the close of
the polls, however, it was announced
that Ridgeford harf""carried the day
by just three votes. Then pande
monium broke loose.
Jed Breckitt declared that the bal
lot box had been stuffed. Dan Bab-
bitt proceeded to seal it and hand it
over to the sheriff for safekeeping.
Some one started a row. There was;
hjJtL-ay; jw, "".frt -i J-tr .
b'j tdj?2s ?L
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