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Great K. and A. Train-Robbery, The

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_IX" id="CHAPTER_IX"></SPAN>CHAPTER IX</h2> <h3>A TALK BEFORE BREAKFAST</h3> </div> <p>Looking at my watch, I found it was a little after three, which meant six in Washington: allowing for transmission, a telegram would reach there in time to be on hand with the opening of the Departments. I therefore wired at once to the following effect:&mdash;</p> <p>"Postmaster-General, Washington, <ins class="TNsilent" title="Transcriber's note: original reads 'D.C.'">D. C.</ins> A peremptory mandamus has been issued by Territorial judge to compel me to deliver to addressee the three registered letters which by your directions, issued October sixteenth, I was to hold pending arrival of special agent Jackson. Service of writ will be made at three forty-five to-day unless prevented. Telegraph me instructions how to act."</p> <p>That done I had a good tub, took a brisk walk down the track, and felt so freshened<!-- Page 108 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_108" id="Page_108">[Pg 108]</SPAN></span> up as to be none the worse for my sleepless night. I returned to the station a little after six, and, to my surprise, found Miss Cullen walking up and down the platform.</p> <p>"You are up early!" we both said together.</p> <p>"Yes," she sighed. "I couldn't sleep last night."</p> <p>"You're not unwell, I hope?"</p> <p>"No,&mdash;except mentally."</p> <p>I looked a question, and she went on: "I have some worries, and then last night I saw you were all keeping some bad news from me, and so I couldn't sleep."</p> <p>"Then we did wrong to make a mystery of it, Miss Cullen," I said, "for it really isn't anything to trouble about. Mr. Camp is simply taking legal steps to try to force me to deliver those letters to him."</p> <p>"And can he succeed?"</p> <p>"No."</p> <p>"How will you stop him?"</p> <p>"I don't know yet just what we shall do, but if worse comes to worse I will allow<!-- Page 109 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_109" id="Page_109">[Pg 109]</SPAN></span> myself to be committed for contempt of court."</p> <p>"What would they do with you?"</p> <p>"Give me free board for a time."</p> <p>"Not send you to prison?"</p> <p>"Yes."</p> <p>"Oh!" she cried, "that mustn't be. You must not make such a sacrifice for us."</p> <p>"I'd do more than that for <i>you</i>," I said, and I couldn't help putting a little emphasis on the last word, though I knew I had no right to do it.</p> <p>She understood me, and blushed rosily, even while she protested, "It is too much&mdash;"</p> <p>"There's really no likelihood," I interrupted, "of my being able to assume a martyr's crown, Miss Cullen; so don't begin to pity me till I'm behind the bars."</p> <p>"But I can't bear to think&mdash;"</p> <p>"Don't," I interrupted again, rejoicing all the time at her evident anxiety, and blessing my stars for the luck they had brought me. "Why, Miss Cullen," I went on, "I've become so interested in your success<!-- Page 110 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_110" id="Page_110">[Pg 110]</SPAN></span> and the licking of those fellows that I really think I'd stand about anything rather than that they should win. Yesterday, when Mr. Camp threatened to&mdash;" Then I stopped, as it suddenly occurred to me that it was best not to tell Madge that I might lose my position, for it would look like a kind of bid for her favor, and, besides, would only add to her worries.</p> <p>"Threatened what?" asked Miss Cullen.</p> <p>"Threatened to lose his temper," I answered.</p> <p>"You know that wasn't what you were going to say," Madge said reproachfully.</p> <p>"No, it wasn't," I laughed.</p> <p>"Then what was it?"</p> <p>"Nothing worth speaking about."</p> <p>"But I want to know what he threatened."</p> <p>"Really, Miss Cullen," I began; but she interrupted me by saying anxiously,&mdash;</p> <p>"He can't hurt papa, can he?"</p> <p>"No," I replied.</p> <p>"Or my brothers?"</p> <p>"He can't touch any of them without<!-- Page 111 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_111" id="Page_111">[Pg 111]</SPAN></span> my help. And he'll have work to get that, I suspect."</p> <p>"Then why can't you tell me?" demanded Miss Cullen. "Your refusal makes me think you are keeping back some danger to them."</p> <p>"Why, Miss Cullen," I said, "I didn't like to tell his threat, because it seemed&mdash;well, I may be wrong, but I thought it might look like an attempt&mdash;an appeal&mdash;Oh, pshaw!" I faltered, like a donkey,&mdash;"I can't say it as I want to put it."</p> <p>"Then tell me right out what he threatened," begged Madge.</p> <p>"He threatened to get me discharged."</p> <p>That made Madge look very sober, and for a moment there was silence. Then she said,&mdash;</p> <p>"I never thought of what you were risking to help us, Mr. Gordon. And I'm afraid it's too late to&mdash;"</p> <p>"Don't worry about me," I hastened to interject. "I'm a long way from being discharged, and, even if I should be, Miss<!-- Page 112 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_112" id="Page_112">[Pg 112]</SPAN></span> Cullen, I know my business, and it won't be long before I have another place."</p> <p>"But it's terrible to think of the injury we may have caused you," sighed Madge, sadly. "It makes me hate the thought of money."</p> <p>"That's a very poor thing to hate," I said, "except the lack of it."</p> <p>"Are you so anxious to get rich?" asked Madge, looking up at me quickly, as we walked,&mdash;for we had been pacing up and down the platform during our chat.</p> <p>"I haven't been till lately."</p> <p>"And what made you change?" she questioned.</p> <p>"Well," I said, fishing round for some reason other than the true one, "perhaps I want to take a rest."</p> <p>"You are the worst man for fibs I ever knew," she laughed.</p> <p>I felt myself getting red, while I exclaimed, "Why, Miss Cullen, I never set up for a George Washington, but I don't think I'm a bit worse liar than nine men in&mdash;"<!-- Page 113 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_113" id="Page_113">[Pg 113]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Oh," she cried, interrupting me, "I didn't mean that way. I meant that when you try to fib you always do it so badly that one sees right through you. Now, acknowledge that you wouldn't stop work if you could?"</p> <p>"Well, no, I wouldn't," I owned up. "The truth is, Miss Cullen, that I'd like to be rich, because&mdash;well, hang it, I don't care if I do say it&mdash;because I'm in love."</p> <p>Madge laughed at my confusion, and asked, "With money?"</p> <p>"No," I said. "With just the nicest, sweetest, prettiest girl in the world."</p> <p>Madge took a look at me out of the corner of her eye, and remarked, "It must be breakfast time."</p> <p>Considering that it was about six-thirty, I wanted to ask who was telling a taradiddle now; but I resisted the temptation, and replied,&mdash;</p> <p>"No. And I promise not to bother you about my private affairs any more."</p> <p>Madge laughed again merrily, saying,<!-- Page 114 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_114" id="Page_114">[Pg 114]</SPAN></span> "You are the most obvious man I ever met. Now why did you say that?"</p> <p>"I thought you were making breakfast an excuse," I said, "because you didn't like the subject."</p> <p>"Yes, I was," said Madge, frankly. "Tell me about the girl you are engaged to."</p> <p>I was so taken aback that I stopped in my walk, and merely looked at her.</p> <p>"For instance," she asked coolly, when she saw that I was speechless, "what does she look like?"</p> <p>"Like, like&mdash;" I stammered, still embarrassed by this bold carrying of the war into my own camp,&mdash;"like an angel."</p> <p>"Oh," said Madge, eagerly, "I've always wanted to know what angels were like. Describe her to me."</p> <p>"Well," I said, getting my second wind, so to speak, "she has the bluest eyes I've ever seen. Why, Miss Cullen, you said you'd never seen anything so blue as the sky yesterday; but even the atmosphere of 'rainless Arizona' has to take a back seat<!-- Page 115 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_115" id="Page_115">[Pg 115]</SPAN></span> when her eyes are round. And they are just like the atmosphere out here. You can look into them for a hundred miles, but you can't get to the bottom."</p> <p>"The Arizona sky is wonderful," said Madge. "How do the scientists account for it?"</p> <p>I wasn't going to have my description of Miss Cullen side-tracked, for, since she had given me the chance, I wanted her to know just what I thought of her. Therefore I didn't follow lead on the Arizona skies, but went on,&mdash;</p> <p>"And I really think her hair is just as beautiful as her eyes. It's light brown, very curly, and&mdash;"</p> <p>"Her complexion!" exclaimed Madge. "Is she a mulatto? And, if so, how can a complexion be curly?"</p> <p>"Her complexion," I said, not a bit rattled, "is another great beauty of hers. She has one of those skins&mdash;"</p> <p>"Furs are out of fashion at present," she interjected, laughing wickedly.<!-- Page 116 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_116" id="Page_116">[Pg 116]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Now look here, Miss Cullen," I cried, indignantly, "I'm not going to let even you make fun of her."</p> <p>"I can't help it," she laughed, "when you look so serious and intense."</p> <p>"It's something I feel intense about, Miss Cullen," I said, not a little pained, I confess, at the way she was joking. I don't mind a bit being laughed at, but Miss Cullen knew, about as well as I, whom I was talking about, and it seemed to me she was laughing at my love for her. Under this impression I went on, "I suppose it is funny to you; probably so many men have been in love with you that a man's love for a woman has come to mean very little in your eyes. But out here we don't make a joke of love, and when we care for a woman we care&mdash;well, it's not to be put in words, Miss Cullen."</p> <p>"I really didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Mr. Gordon," said Madge, gently, and quite serious now. "I ought not to have tried to tease you."</p> <p>"There!" I said, my irritation entirely<!-- Page 117 --><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_117" id="Page_117">[Pg 117]</SPAN></span> gone. "I had no right to lose my temper, and I'm sorry I spoke so unkindly. The truth is, Miss Cullen, the girl I care for is in love with another man, and so I'm bitter and ill-natured in these days."</p> <p>My companion stopped walking at the steps of 218, and asked, "Has she told you so?"</p> <p>"No," I answered. "But it's as plain as she's pretty."</p> <p>Madge ran up the steps and opened the door of the car. As she turned to close it, she looked down at me with the oddest of expressions, and said,&mdash;</p> <p>"How dreadfully ugly she must be!"</p> <hr /> <div class="chapter"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_118" id="Page_118">[Pg 118]</SPAN></span> <h2>
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