DEEP-LAID PLANS. 27
waymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money."
" Must we always kill the people ?"
" Oh, certainly. It's best. Some authorities think different, but mostly it's considered best to kill them. Except some that you bring to the cave here and keep them till they're ransomed."
" Ransomed ? What's that ? "
" I don't know. But that's what they do. I've seen it in books ; and so of course that's what we've got to do."
" But how can we do it if we don't know what it is ? "
" Why blame it all, we've got to do it. Don't I tell you it's in the books ? Do you want to go to doing different from what's in the books, and get things all muddled up ?"
" Oh, that's all very fine to say, Tom Sawyer, but how in the nation are these fellows going to be ransomed if we don't know how to do it to them ? that's the thing / want to get at. Now what do you reckon it is ? "
"Well 1 don't know. But per'aps if we keep them till they're ransomed, it means that we keep them till they're dead."
" Now, that's something like. That'll answer. Why couldn't you said that before ? We'll keep them till they're ransomed to death—and a bothersome lot they'll be, too, eating up everything and always trying to get loose."
"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get loose when there's a guard over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a peg ?"
"A guard. Well, that is good. So somebody's got to set up all night and never get any sleep, just so as to watch them. I think that's foolishness. Why can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they get here ? "
" Because it ain't in the books so—that's why. Now Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular, or don't you ?—that's the idea. Don't you reckon that the people that made the books knows what's the correct thing to do ? Do you reckon you can learn 'em anything ? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll just go on and ransom them in the regular way."
"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool way, anyhow. Say—do we kill the women, too ? "