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Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_VIII" id="CHAPTER_VIII"></SPAN>CHAPTER VIII</h2> <h3>HOW DID THE SECRET LEAK OUT?</h3> </div> <p>I made up for my three nights' lack of sleep by not waking the next morning till after ten. When I went to 218, I found only the <i>chef</i>, and he told me the party had gone for a ride. Since I couldn't talk to Madge, I went to work at my desk, for I had been rather neglecting my routine work. While I still wrote, I heard horses' hoofs, and, looking up, saw the Cullens returning. I went out on the platform to wish them good-morning, arriving just in time to see Lord Ralles help Miss Cullen out of her saddle; and the way he did it, and the way he continued to hold her hand after she was down, while he said something to her, made me grit my teeth and look the<!-- Page 94 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_94" id="Page_94">[Pg 94]</SPAN></span> other way. None of the riders had seen me, so I slipped into my car and went back to work. Fred came in presently to see if I was up yet, and to ask me to lunch, but I felt so miserable and down-hearted that I made an excuse of my late breakfast for not joining them.</p> <p>After luncheon the party in the other special all came out and walked up and down the platform, the sound of their voices and laughter only making me feel the bluer. Before long I heard a rap on one of my windows, and there was Miss Cullen peering in at me. The moment I looked up, she called,&mdash;</p> <p>"Won't you make one of us, Mr. Misanthrope?"</p> <p>I called myself all sorts of a fool, but out I went as eagerly as if there had been some hope. Miss Cullen began to tease me over my sudden access of energy, declaring that she was sure it was a pose for their benefit, or else due to a guilty conscience over having slept so late.</p> <p>"I hoped you would ride with us, though<!-- Page 95 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_95" id="Page_95">[Pg 95]</SPAN></span> perhaps it wouldn't have paid you. Apparently there is nothing to see in Ash Forks."</p> <p>"There is something that may interest you all," I suggested, pointing to a special that had been dropped off No. 2 that morning.</p> <p>"What is it?" asked Madge.</p> <p>"It's a G. S. special," I said, "and Mr. Camp and Mr. Baldwin and two G. S. officials came in on it."</p> <p>"What do you think he'd give for those letters?" laughed Fred.</p> <p>"If they were worth so much to you, I suppose they can't be worth any less to the G. S.," I replied.</p> <p>"Fortunately, there is no way that he can learn where they are," said Mr. Cullen.</p> <p>"Don't let's stand still," cried Miss Cullen. "Mr. Gordon, I'll run you a race to the end of the platform." She said this only after getting a big lead, and she got there about eight inches ahead of me, which pleased her mightily. "It takes men so<!-- Page 96 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_96" id="Page_96">[Pg 96]</SPAN></span> long to get started," was the way she explained her victory. Then she walked me beyond the end of the boarding to explain the workings of a switch to her. That it was only a pretext she proved to me the moment I had relocked the bar, by saying,&mdash;</p> <p>"Mr. Gordon, may I ask you a question?"</p> <p>"Certainly," I assented.</p> <p>"It is one I should ask papa or Fred, but I am afraid they might not tell me the truth. You will, won't you?" she begged, very earnestly.</p> <p>"I will," I promised.</p> <p>"Supposing," she continued, "that it became known that you have those letters? Would it do our side any harm?"</p> <p>I thought for a moment, and then shook my head. "No new proxies could arrive here in time for the election," I said, "and the ones I have will not be voted."</p> <p>She still looked doubtful, and asked, "Then why did papa say just now, 'Fortunately'?"<!-- Page 97 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_97" id="Page_97">[Pg 97]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"He merely meant that it was safer they shouldn't know."</p> <p>"Then it is better to keep it a secret?" she asked, anxiously.</p> <p>"I suppose so," I said, and then added, "Why should you be afraid of asking your father?"</p> <p>"Because he might&mdash;well, if he knew, I'm sure he would sacrifice himself; and I couldn't run the risk."</p> <p>"I am afraid I don't understand?" I questioned.</p> <p>"I would rather not explain," she said, and of course that ended the subject.</p> <p>Our exercise taken, we went back to the Cullens' car, and Madge left us to write some letters. A moment later Lord Ralles remembered he had not written home recently, and he too went forward to the dining-room. That made me call myself&mdash;something, for not having offered Miss Cullen the use of my desk in 97. Owing to this the two missed part of the big game we were playing; for barely were they gone when one of the<!-- Page 98 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_98" id="Page_98">[Pg 98]</SPAN></span> servants brought a card to Mr. Cullen, who looked at it and exclaimed, "Mr. Camp!" Then, after a speaking pause, in which we all exchanged glances, he said, "Bring him in."</p> <p>On Mr. Camp's entrance he looked as much surprised as we had all done a moment before. "I beg your pardon for intruding, Mr. Cullen," he said. "I was told that this was Mr. Gordon's car, and I wish to see him."</p> <p>"I am Mr. Gordon."</p> <p>"You are travelling with Mr. Cullen?" he inquired, with a touch of suspicion in his manner.</p> <p>"No," I answered. "My special is the next car, and I was merely enjoying a cigar here."</p> <p>"Ah!" said Mr. Camp. "Then I won't interrupt your smoke, and will only relieve you of those letters of mine."</p> <p>I took a good pull at my cigar, and blew the smoke out in a cloud slowly to gain time. "I don't think I follow you," I said.<!-- Page 99 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_99" id="Page_99">[Pg 99]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"I understand that you have in your possession three letters addressed to me."</p> <p>"I have," I assented.</p> <p>"Then I will ask you to deliver them to me."</p> <p>"I can't do that."</p> <p>"Why not?" he challenged. "They're my property."</p> <p>I produced the Postmaster-General's telegram and read it to him.</p> <p>"Why, this is infamous!" Mr. Camp cried. "What use will those letters be after the eighteenth? It's a conspiracy."</p> <p>"I can only obey instructions," I said.</p> <p>"It shall cost you your position if you do," Mr. Camp threatened.</p> <p>As I've already said, I haven't a good temper, and when he told me that I couldn't help retorting,&mdash;</p> <p>"That's quite on a par with most G. S. methods."</p> <p>"I'm not speaking for the G. S., young man," roared Mr. Camp. "I speak as a director of the Kansas &amp; Arizona. What is<!-- Page 100 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_100" id="Page_100">[Pg 100]</SPAN></span> more, I will have those letters inside of twenty-four hours."</p> <p>He made an angry exit, and I said to Fred, "I wish you would stroll about and spy out the proceedings of the enemy's camp. He may telegraph to Washington, and if there's any chance of the Postmaster-General revoking his order I must go back to Flagstaff on No. 4 this afternoon."</p> <p>"He sha'n't do anything that I don't know about till he goes to bed," Fred promised. "But how the deuce did he know that you had those letters?"</p> <p>That was just what we were all puzzling over, for only the occupants of No. 218 and myself, so far as I knew, were in a position to let Mr. Camp hear of that fact.</p> <p>As Fred made his exit he said, "Don't tell Madge that there is a new complication, for the dear girl has had worries enough already."</p> <p>Miss Cullen not rejoining us, and Lord Ralles presently doing so, I went to my own car, for he and I were not good furniture for<!-- Page 101 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_101" id="Page_101">[Pg 101]</SPAN></span> the same room. Before I had been there long, Fred came rushing in.</p> <p>"Camp and Baldwin have been in consultation with a lawyer," he said, "and now the three have just boarded those cars," pointing out the window at the branch-line train that was to leave for Ph&oelig;nix in two minutes.</p> <p>"You must go with them," I urged, "and keep us informed as to what they do, for they evidently are going to set the law on us, and the G. S. has always owned the Territorial judges, so they'll stretch a point to oblige them."</p> <p>"Have I time to fill a bag?"</p> <p>"Plenty," I assured him, and, going out, I ordered the train held till I should give the word.</p> <p>"What does it all mean?" asked Miss Cullen, joining me.</p> <p>I laughed, and replied, "I'm doing a braver thing even than your party did; I'm holding up a train all by my lonesome."</p> <p>"But my brother came dashing in just now and said he was starting for Ph&oelig;nix."<!-- Page 102 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_102" id="Page_102">[Pg 102]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Let her go," I called to the conductor, as Fred jumped aboard; and the train pulled out.</p> <p>"I hope there's nothing wrong?" Madge questioned, anxiously.</p> <p>"Nothing to worry over," I laughed. "Only a little more fun for our money. By the way, Miss Cullen," I went on, to avoid her questions, "if you have your letters ready, and will let me have them at once, I can get them on No. 4, so that they'll go East to-night."</p> <p>Miss Cullen blushed as if I had said something I ought not to have, and stammered, "I&mdash;I changed my mind, and&mdash;that is&mdash;I didn't write them, after all."</p> <p>"I beg your pardon,&mdash;I ought to have known; I mean, it's very natural," I faltered and stuttered, thinking what a dunce I had been not to understand that both hers and Lord Ralles's letters had been only a pretext to get away from the rest of us.</p> <p>My blundering apology and evident embarrassment deepened Miss Cullen's blush fivefold, and she explained, hurriedly, "I found<!-- Page 103 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_103" id="Page_103">[Pg 103]</SPAN></span> I was tired, and so, instead of writing, I went to my room and rested."</p> <p>I suppose any girl would have invented the same yarn, yet it hurt me more than the bigger one she had told on Hance's trail. Small as the incident was, it made me very blue, and led me to shut myself up in my own car for the rest of that afternoon and evening. Indeed, I couldn't sleep, but sat up working, quite forgetful of the passing hours, till a glance at my watch startled me with the fact that it was a quarter of two. Feeling like anything more than sleep, I went out on the platform, and, lighting a cigar, paced up and down, thinking of&mdash;well, thinking.</p> <p>The night agent was sitting in the station, nodding, and after I had walked for an hour I went in to ask him if the train to Ph&oelig;nix had arrived on time. Just as I opened the door, the telegraph instrument began clicking, and called Ash Forks. The man, with the curious ability that operators get of recognizing their own call, even in sleep, waked up instantly and responded, and, not wishing to<!-- Page 104 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_104" id="Page_104">[Pg 104]</SPAN></span> interrupt him, I delayed asking my question till he should be free. I stood there thinking of Madge, and listening heedlessly as the instrument ticked off the cipher signature of the sending operator, and the "twenty-four paid." But as I heard the clicks ..... .... which meant ph, I suddenly became attentive, and when it completed "Ph&oelig;nix" I concluded Fred was wiring me, and listened for what followed the date. This is what the <SPAN name="morse" id="morse">instrument ticked</SPAN>:&mdash;</p> <div class="morsecode"> ... .... . . .. .. .-. .-. .. .. .- ...- .- ..... .- ..<br /> .. . . . ..- -. - .. .. .- ... .... .-. . . . .. -.- ...<br /> .- . .. .. ... . . . -. .- -... . .- - . .. .- .. --<br /> . .. . . .- -.. ... - .- - .. . . -. - .... . .. . .<br /> .-. . . . .. - .. .. .-. .. ...- . - . . -.. .- .. .. - . .<br /> - - . . - - . .. .- .. -. .- . .. . .. .. ...- .. -. --.<br /> .-. . .. . . - - ..... .... . . . -. .. .-.. ..... . .. .<br /> ..... .- . .. . -.. - . . .. - - - - . -.. .. .- - . -- .. ..<br /> ... . . .. ...- . ..... . . .. . - - ..... - . . . .. .. ..<br /> - - .- -. -.. .- - - ..- ... .. ... ... ..- . -.. - . .<br /> -. .. --. .... - -... .. .. -.-. ..- -.. --. . .-- .. --<br /> ... . . -. ... .. --. - .... . . . -.. . . . .. . .<br /> .. . .- - - .....<br /> </div> <p><!-- Page 105 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_105" id="Page_105">[Pg 105]</SPAN></span> That may not look particularly intelligible, but if the Ph&oelig;nix operator had been talking over the 'phone to me he couldn't have said any plainer,&mdash;</p> <p>"Sheriff yavapai county ash forks arizona be at <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'rail road'"><SPAN name="rroad" id="rroad">railroad</SPAN></ins> station three forty five today to meet train arriving from ph&oelig;nix prepared to immediately serve peremptory mandamus issued tonight by judge wilson sig theodore e camp."</p> <p>My question being pretty thoroughly answered, I went back and continued my walk; but before five minutes had passed, the operator came out, and handed me a message. It was from Fred, and read thus:&mdash;</p> <p>"Camp, Baldwin, and lawyer went at once to house of Judge Wilson, where they stayed an hour. They then returned with judge to station, and after despatching a telegram have taken seats in train for Ash Forks, leaving here at three twenty-five. I shall return with them."</p> <p>A bigger idiot than I could have understood the move. I was to be hauled before<!-- Page 106 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_106" id="Page_106">[Pg 106]</SPAN></span> Judge Wilson by means of mandamus proceedings, and, as he was notoriously a G. S. judge, and was coming to Ash Forks solely to oblige Mr. Camp, he would unquestionably declare the letters the property of Mr. Camp and order their delivery.</p> <p>Apparently I had my choice of being a traitor to Madge, of going to prison for contempt of court, or of running away, which was not far off from acknowledging that I had done something wrong. I didn't like any one of the options.</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_107" id="Page_107">[Pg 107]</SPAN></span> <h2>
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