What The Gods Send

Hopkins Moorhouse October 1 1916

What The Gods Send

Hopkins Moorhouse October 1 1916

What The Gods Send

Hopkins Moorhouse

Who wrote “The Years of the Wicked” and “1,000 Per Cent.—Net!”

I.

CONCERNING THE STRANGE BEHAVIOR OF SOME SECTION MEN.

THE heart of the Algoma country is a region of solitude for the most part and Lockwood’s siding on the Canadian Midland Railway is nothing but a rusty switch between flag-stations. Freight van No. 13542, standing there by itself, had a lonesome look which was emphasized by the thin spiral of blue smoke that curled lazily from its tiny chimney and wandered upward against the dark background of spruce that clothed the neighboring hill to lose itself in the bright amber of the evening sky.

Inside the dingy old caboose the four members of Topographical Survey Party Number Two were very busy taking the measurements of their supper and recording the same with that relish which alone can be figured from axioms of animal fitness and twenty-miles-per-day in the open air. Four granite plates, large size, stuck to the oil-cloth table covering, each plate steaming with a heap of boiled beans from the • pale smother of which

“Yuh went an’ fried all the juice out o’ the bacon again, Mack,” growled Anderson. “Thought I told yuh not to do it that way! An’ say, ain’t that tea steeped yet?”

peeped brown strips of bacon, done to a crisp.

To trace a given chain of unusual and exciting events to the rivulets of its beginning is often to uncover sources which are amusing in their commonplace cha racter. So that in considering the adventure which befell young Horace P. Macklin, marker for Topographical Survey Party No. 2, on this particular summer night one is inclined to smile at Anderson’s complaint. TN reply to it Macklin said nothing. To say little was a habit in which he very often indulged ; for he was a nephew of the Honorable William J. Power, M.P.P., whose favorite advice was: “Keep your mouth shut, your eyes and ears open, and saw wood.”

“What’s the matter with yuh, any-’ ways? Got a grouch on?”’ pursued Anderson, who had made a special study of grouches himself on this trip.

“Leave ’m alone, Andy,” munched “Spud” Bayley. “Can’t you see the boy’s hungry. Empty stomach, empty head. Besides, he’s lost his purse, containing five coppers-”

“Yes, an’ he’s been sore ’bout that darn pocketbook all day!”

“An’ you’d be sore too, Andy, if you’d lost it,” soothed Spud. “ 'Taint the money nor his pass that’s bothering little Horace. It’s the love-letter from his girl back

“Shut up, Spud!” warned Rutland.

“Just what I was telling Anderson, Boss. You’d be worried yourself about that letter, if ’twas yours. There it is, lying back there on Halldorson’s siding and just supposing Halldorson or his men found it and laughed over it? -I’ll leave it to you, Boss, would it be any of their blooming business whether she called you ‘Hory dear’ or not?”

Macklin grinned appreciation. Nevertheless, his legging boot shot under the table with some force.

D UT it was Anderson instead of Bay■*"* ley, who let out a howl and grabbed for his shin with a suddenness that sent his nose into his beans. His first expression of pained surprise melted like the daub of butter on Spud’s plate and it was with genuine intent to do bodily injury of a severe sort that he leaped to his feet, eyes blazing, heedless alike of Macklin’s quick apology and Rutland’s growl of warning. Not until the latter had shoved him back into his seat with a jolt that compelled was trouble averted.

“None of the rough stuff around here, now, Anderson ! I’ve told you that before. The kid didn’t mean that for you and he’s apologized.”

“He meant it for me, Andy. Didn’t you, Mack?” cried Spud, anxious to smooth matters.

“I know a man who made a million dollars b y keeping his mouth shut, Bayley!” admonished Rutland significantly.

“I get you, Steve,” grinned Spud, once more entering into negotiations with the eatables.

“I want this car scrubbed out tonight and the place made half way decent,” Rutland asserted, returning to his place at the table. “We’re liable to have visitors tomorrow,” he added by way of relieving the situa-

Spud’s fork halted on its way to his mouth. Rutland nodded.

“When I called in for the mail back at Indian Creek to-day the agent told me they were expecting the Old Man up the line to-

“Go on! Waring himself? What the mischief’s he doing ’way up here in the woods?” Spud’s astonishment was by no means feigned. “Why, that was his car came down from the West on No. 2 last night, Boss. Don’t you remember? It

passed us when we were-”

“Well, anything to prevent him turning around and coming back again? Pass the punk, Mack. All I know is, the President’s private car’s coming up at the tail of No. 1 to-night,” frowned Rutland, who already regretted having introduced a subject which he had made up his mind to say nothing about, for certain reasons. “I’m not going to take any chances of anybody finding this place like a pig-pen.”

“But, Boss, ain’t it kind o’ funny-?”

“I said pig-pen! Don’t you get that? Isn’t there some of the best speckled trout in the world hereabout? You make me tired, Bayley! You ought to apply to the company’s chief detective; Bob Cranston might be persuaded to give you a job detecting catsup stains in Murphy’s restaurant at North Bay!”

“Waring’s a queer old beggar,” mused Spud, ignoring the laugh. “Now, for all we know-”

“Look here, Bayley, if you don’t check that everlasting tendency to poke your nose into things that don’t concern you, first thing you know you’ll find yourself breathing through your mouth and then you won’t be able to talk all the time!” There was a hint of anger in Rutland’s rebuke.

“They say,” persisted Spud, unabashed, “he took his holidays once, acting as timekeeper when they were building the Temagami branch, Waring did. Nobody knew who he was.”

“That’s right. And he found out a few things that were going on up there,” nodded Rutland in an effort to steer the conversation. “Takes a man with brains to come up from the ranks the way he has. He knows the game, from overalls to dress suit.”

“Then it wasn’t Hughey Pomeroy who pulled off that Temagami stunt, Boss?” Rutland shook his head. “Pomeroy’s about a9 smooth as they make private secretaries these days,” he admitted, “but when it comes right down to cases the Old Man holds the pointer while Hughey sharpens his pencil and gets ready to learn how it’s done.”

C PUD drained his tin cup, spat an am^ bitious tea-leaf from the tip of his tongue and proceeded leisurely to scoop up the little lake of wet sugar at the bottom.

“Well,” he announced, bestowing a final lick on the spoon, “whether the President of this road is coming up this way to fish or to snoop around here in disguise to-morrow to find out if we clean our teeth every morning, it’s me for a comfortable drag on me little nut-brown pipe.”

“Huh!” scoffed Macklin, unexpectedly breaking silence for the first time. “He’ll be along alright, Spuddy. Railway presidents with political ambitions often travel over their lines disguised as tramps and call at every old car they see on deserted sidings, especially on the loneliest divisions!”

“Egbert, the Silent, speaketh. At last we are to know the truth ! What do they do that for?”

“Merely hunting for splinters from wooden heads to use as tooth-picks!” “By George, Mack, I hadn’t thought of that! But keep up your courage, old man. We’ll protect you !”

“You fellows know as well as I do that about the only visitors we’re liable to have to-morrow will be swimming in our tea!”

, “Don’t be too sure, Mack,” laughed Rutland. “Waring might not plan to give us a call; but when he sees the way you’ve wasted that white paint of yours, plastering ‘Engineering Department’ on the side of this rolling palace in which we dwell, he might take it into his head to investigate. He’d just about do any old thing he blame well wanted to. He’s like that. Why, the mere matter of a pail of water and a cake of soap might mean an increase of salary for the bunch of us!”

“Andy, better cut out the sulks and go down to the spring for the water. Take both pails. Get busy! All of you!” Rutland snapped his fingers.

As Anderson slouched to the door he threw a look of resentment at Macklin, which did not escape Rutland’s eye. Over behind the hills to the west could be heard the rumble of an approaching freight train and, with the idea of getting “the kid” out of the way for a time, the Boss suggested that it was a good chance to get back down the line to Halldorson’s section to look for the missing pocketbook.

AA ACKLIN grabbed the red lantern and lighted it with alacrity enough. Maud’s letter was lying down there somewhere, he felt sure, on the Halldorson siding, nine miles away. It had dropped out of his hip pocket beside the stove probably ; he remembered that the chair, over the back of which he had hung his clothes, had stood close to the stove and the lost articles might have been thrown out with the ashes somehow by the careless Spud when their van stood sidetracked early that morning.

So, when the freight came jolting to a reluctant stop, he ignored the swearing engineer and lost no time, in climbing aboard the caboose and squaring things with the conductor.. Half an hour later he was hanging by one hand and foot to the back step, peering into the dusk for a soft spot on which to alight when the train slowed on the grade just west of his destination.

Picking himself up cheerfully from the stumble of his jump into a stretch of sand ballast, he waved to the conductor, although it had grown too dark to see for more than a few feet. He watched the green tail lights of the freight receding steadily till they disappeared around a curve at the head of the grade; then with a laugh at nothing in particular, he walked briskly after them.

ONE of those patient beings who are born ever so-often with the gift of interpreting railway schedules would have no great difficulty in locating “Halldorson” in the main-line time-table of the Canadian Midland Railway. It takes the form of a little dagger mark which, pursued into the fine print at the “Explanatory” notes, yields the information that “Halldorson” is a flag-station.

Halldorson himself must be credited With being one of the oldest and most conscientious section foremen on the division. He, his men, his wife, his children and everything that was his, abode in a log shanty on a rise of ground close to the track. The rest of the place consisted of a long switch, a short wooden platform, a tall new standard enclosed water-tank and a little whitewashed tool-shed where the handcar was stored.

When Macklin rounded the curve he noted that a light was burning in this tool-shed, the yellow of it glowing here and there through the chinks, and it was with the idea of borrowing the lantern or its mate to aid him in the search for his missing property that he made the tool-shed his objective point. Some of the men were sure to be about. In fact, as he looked, one or two dark forms seemed to flit across the track between him and the yellow glow.

“Hello, there!” he called out as he approached. “How’s chances for the loan of a lan-?”

THE door was standing wide open and the shed was quite deserted. Macklin stopped short with a mutter of surprise and it was then that his quick ear first caught the sound of a footstep behind him. There was a certain clumsy stealth about it that made Macklin whirl around with quick suspicion. Halldorson’s section gang consisted of three men besides himself—a Swede and two Norwegians, and it was with no little astonishment that Macklin saw one of the latter making for him with the evident intention of smiting him to the earth.

Altogether unreasonable as this might be, there was no mistake about it. There was no time to puzzle over it. There was just time enough to meet the man halfway. And inasmuch as young Mr. Macklin knew that there was neither pleasure nor profit in being smitten to the earth, he himself smote without hesitation, greeting the Norwegian’s spring with a swift upper-cut t,hat laid the gentleman almost as flat as tne Scandinavian peninsula on a school map.

With a wild Norse yell the second Norwegian came from the shadows to the rescue of his fellow countryman. He came with a speed that enabled him to carry out his purpose of running in from behind, sweeping his arms about the enemy’s neck and dragging him down.

It was true that, back home, Horace P. Macklin had devoted much successful effort to the acquisition of book knowledge and so forth, even becoming very proficient in shorthand and typewriting to satisfy a whim of his aunt, with whom he lived. But Aunt Polly had also been a firm believer in sports for boys; with the result that her nephew could swim as do the fishes, run with the rabbits, kick like a steer, twist like a wriggling worm—in short, fight like a wild beast of Ephesus.

CO he knew better than to lie still and ^ reduce the present issue to a straining test of strength when the only rules were rough-and-tumble. They seemed no sooner to have struck the ground, therefore, than he had this fresh assailant rolling over and over, hob-nailed feet flopping.

They rolled onto the track. The light from the lantern shone for an instant on a tangle of arms and legs before the struggle vanished into the dark, only the scuffle of it and the queer oaths of the foreigner ii>dicating the progress of the fight.

Letting loose a flow of mixed profanity, Halldorson himself rose from the grass beside the track and started for the lantern.

It could not last long. Macklin knew that and fought to loosen the man’s hold on his neck. The fellow’s calloused fingers were fastened tight and his breath came in hot gusts against the younger man’s cheek. A sudden wrench freed the latter’s right arm and then they bumped over the ties in grim earnest. A real oldfashioned fight is never a gentlemanly and courteous affair and it wasn’t long before mere indignation at the unwarranted attack had waxed to savage rage, so that at every other turn Macklin jammed the Norwegian’s face into the cinders.

Put Halldorson had hold of the lantern by now and was running towards them. About the same time Macklin became conscious of something jabbing him in the side as he rolled; he had quite forgotten the little .22 revolver which he had slipped into his pocket before boarding the freight. If he could only get at it-!

A mighty heave and he had thrown his antagonist hard against the rail, at the same time ducking away his head; a light spring to one ride and he was on his feet, the lantern rays streaking along the barrel of the weapon in his hand.

The foreman drew back, swearing.

“Just one more step, friend,” panted Macklin hoarsely, “and you’ll have a bullet in you! You will, by heaven! You blanked scoundrels! What d’you think you’re doing? What-?”

CPEECH stopped right there. In a space only as long as might be required to mention the name of Mr. John Robinson, the hand that held the revolver had jerked spasmodically upward, pointing it harmlessly at the stars ; a tremendous hairy first had closed like a vise on his wrist; the other hand had been instantaneously gripped in like manner and both arms doubled in tight against his chest. He was in the immovable embrace of the big Swede, who had chosen this good-natured way of manifesting his interest in the affair.

“Votch out, Svenson! Hold him!” cried Halldorson excitedly; for Macklin was struggling desperately and kicking the big fellow’s shins.

But young and strong though he was, it was scarcely to be expected that Macklin could match this flanneled giant; anything caught in that bear-hug stayed there. He stopped kicking, partly because he saw the futility of further resistance and partly because the Swede had twined one leg about him ; and thus kicking with any degree of success was difficult

The foreman doubled over and laughed loudly while the Norwegian who had opened the proceedings, unable to speak because he had bitten a piece out of his tongue, cut a caper to evince his approval.

“Well!” glared Macklin. “Now you’ve got me, what do you want?”

' I 'HE second Norwegian came from the tool-shed with several lengths of small rope. Macklin smiled grimly as he saw the fellow’s face. He could feel a warm trickle down one of his own cheeks from a gash in his head, but his late antagonist was bleeding in a dozen places and there was no skin whatever on the end of his

Two minutes later the marker for Topographical Survey Party Number Two was lying on the roadbed, hands and feet securely tied. As soon as this helpless condition was insured, the Norwegian in a sudden fit of rage, sat down on him and began viciously to slap his face, right hand and left.

At that the big Swede took three strides forward and with a guttural growl seized the coward by the neck and the seat of his overalls and literally flung him into the ditch.

“Thank—thank you, Svenson,” gasped Macklin gratefully.

“Ve’ll put the skunk in the tank,” came Halldorson’s gruff command.

They carried him across the track, opened the little wooden door of the octagonal store-room beneath the water-tank and pitched him into the darkness of the interior.

The door shut with a bang. The padlock rattled into place.

II.

THE SECOND SURPRISE.

XT' OR a short time young Macklin of the Engineering Department lay like a log where he had been thrown, half stunned by the fall itself, half stupefied by the rush of eventsT He was in the semiconscious condition of one who has been ill for a long time and returns to reason through a maze of half-realities. His eyes were open but stared into blackness and for a little he could recall nothing that had happened. When he tried to move he found that something robbed his muscles of response and he wondered dreamily what was the matter with him. Miles away somewhere he thought he detected the drip-drip of water, reminding him indefinitely of water-drops falling from eaves after a summer shower. He was at a loss to account for the pungent musty smell that seemed to be in the air as if lying around somewhere were heaps of old hempen rope.

With a shock came the metallic ’clink of iron on iron and the muffled sqund of voices.

At once the whole thing was back on* him. As near as could be judged from the sounds, they were getting the hand-car out onto the rails. He could hear them talking and laughing and presently Halldorson’s voice rose above the others, calling to Svenson some emphatic instruction in his own language. Immediately following that — the muffled rumble of the hand-car as it rolled away from the watertank westward up the track.

Macklin listened till all sound of it died out, then became conscious of footsteps crunching about on the cinders just outside. The steps circled once around the tank as if the big Swede was making an inspection; but apparently having satisfied himself that there was no opening by which a man could crawl out, he began to pace up and down near the little door and the prisoner could hear him whistling to himself. A UNT POLLY’S nephew lay still, thinking. There was no question about his being a prisoner, just as it was equally patent that the capture had been planned. It was this that made the thing worth thinking about at all; otherwise it would take its place merely as the clumsy joke of dull-witted navvies, an unparalleled bit of tomfoolery, ending all at once in them freeing him and pointing the finger of mirth at him. It did occur to him, for the briefest of moments, that

Continued on page 96

What The Gods Send

Continued, from page 16

perhaps Spud-. But the face of Hall-

dorson, dark with anger, jaw set, obtruded on the lighter aspects of possibility and obliterated them completely.

No, the thing was in earnest, not in jest. They meant trouble. Perhaps they had mistaken him for a “spotter” or something like that. Macklin had seen enough of the section gangs on this trip to appreciate their viewpoint and the prospect was none too reassuring. Halldorson hadn’t been near them the day before and there was no chance of him identifying his prisoner as one of Rutland’s small party. Explanations would not be assisted to any extent by the fact that these foreigners might not understand English very well. He wondered if they had gone off on the handcar to notify the gang on the neighboring section in order to let them in on the fun —and just what particular form of cruelty that “fun” would take. Perhaps they would tar-and-feather him!

Macklin yanked at the cords angrily. As he had been turning over the puzzle in his mind, seeking for some clue to the situation or a motive that might apply, he had been working without success to loosen the knots. His hands were tied behind his back, so that he could not get at them with his teeth and the task of freeing them was a slow one. The cords cut into his wrists unmercifully; but he kept at it determinedly, listening between whiles to the constant drip of water from the tank overhead and the restless movements of the Swede outside. The big fellow seemed to be rather a decent sort and it occurred to the captive that he might be able to persuade Svenson to free him; several times he was on the point of calling out, but the uselessness of it was apparent on second thoughts.

He wondered what the Hon. William J. Power, M.P.P., would say in an emergency like this—what he would do. “Keep your mouth shut, your eyes and ears open, and saw wood!” eh? He’d see a fat lot in pitch blackness; he’d hear his own heart beat; it wouldn’t matter much whether he kept his mouth shut or hollered his head off! Thi9 was one time when his worthy uncle would talk—extemporaneously, with nobody to rule him “out of order!” His language would be as unparliamentary as it was on the night he quarrelled with his nephew Horace.

And that had been some quarrel ! Macklin grinned as he recalled it. He prided himself that he had carried off his end of it with dignity; when he had been called a “good-for-nothing ‘Rah-Rah’ boy who would never amount to shucks,” he had very properly walked out — into the world. That determination to “get somewhere without any help from his uncle” still held good, you bet! This job he had now was more of a holiday to think things over quietly and plan his future?

Holiday? It might be a sorry kind of holiday by the time these roughnecks got through with him ! The whole thing was as crazy as that magazine yarn he’d been reading only the other night and that was some story.

A NEW note, growing rapidly on the minor sounds about him, focused Macklin’s attention. The outside world was muffled from him in the hollow compass of the small room beneath the tank and it took him a little while to recognize the approach of a train. He lay quiet and listened to the crescendo until it became a deafening roar. For a space the tank quivered. Then, as suddenly as it came, the roar swept away into the night and drifted into distance; the silence closed in again, more lonesomely complete‘in contrast, with only the slow monotonous drip —drip—drip and the occasional scrape of a boot outside.

That would be Number 1, westbound express, the train the Boss had said was bringing the President’s private car back up the line. A sudden appreciation of what the Boss would say if somebody told him what had happened to his custodian of white paint made Macklin grin in spite of the pain in his wrists. Back there in the old freight van a friendly game of Polish Bank would be in progress or maybe the Boss would be making out his reports with Andy growling because the Boss had grabbed both the bracket lamps and spoiled the light for reading. Macklin could see the expression on their faces as they—

Good ! He had managed to pull his right hand free! There was scarcely any skin left on his knuckles; but that was a small matter. With one hand free the rest was easy and Macklin tackled his bonds with a thrill of elation.

D IGHT then he faced the night’s second surprise. He was sitting up, bending forward and feeling the knots at his ankles when, without warning of any kind, a heavy groan emanated from the blackness about him and stiffened every muscle in his body. The absolute unexpectedness of it so startled him that he scarcely breathed, but sat there with the blood pounding in his ears and cold moisture breaking out on his forehead. The mere fact that it was a groan was nothing. But it was inside the tank store-room!

He waited anxiously, breathlessly, for the sound to repeat itself. Was there somebody else here in the dark? Speculation was cut short by a low moan, a longdrawn sigh.

It must be said for Macklin that he had a certain precocity. He was very young, but he didn’t believe in ghosts. He sat perfectly still, half impatiently perplexed. What further nonsense was this, anyway? He wondered what he had better do. A few feet away in the dark was somebody or something that had been there all the time without his knowledge, a situation which he resented. It was just possible it might be an animal, though he scarcely thought this probable. Whatever it was had evidently been asleep, very soundly asleep not to have been awakened by his unceremonious entry.

It was with no uncertain tingle of excitement, borrowed from the hazard, that Macklin ventured a cautious:

“Hello there!”

A faint shuffle responded from the other side of the tank room—that and the sound of heavy breathing.

“Hello there, you in the dark!” he whispered again, “Who are you?”

“Oh, Lord!” gasped a weak voice in evident terror.

Human anyway! That was something. Halldorson must have gone crazy and started in to make a collection of prisoners !

“Don’t be scared,” Macklin reassured.

l_J E fumbled for a match and struck it. * *• As he held it above his head there was a faint cry.

The match flickered for an instant, then went out in the draught. But not before he had caught a glimpse of a wfflite face peering wildly from behind a pile of hoisting tackle over against the opposite wall. Macklin gasped in astonishment.

“Say, over there, don’t make any more noise than you can help. Nobody’s going to hurt you. Who are you, anyway? Wait till I strike another light.”

As soon as he could get out his pocketknife and sever the cords about his ankles he crawled quickly across the flooring till his hands came in contact with the ropes in the corner. Then he sat back and scratched a second match. It flared up brightly, shining fitfully on a white haggard face with gaunt eyes and a mouth twisted with pain. Macklin fairly gaped in amazement.

“Wh-why-!” he stammered in dis-

belief.

The match burned it9elf out till only the coal of it was left glowing in his fingers. Feverishly he struck another.

“Why, say—Ain’t you Mr. Pomeroy?— the—the President’s private secretary?— Mr. Hugh Pomeroy?”

“I don’t—se.em—to remember you, kid,” faltered the other. He tried to peer recognition, but the effort made him sag back weakly against the wall. They were in the dark once more.

“I’m Macklin, marker with Rutland’s party — topographical survey. You wouldn't know me. Saw you once or twice in public—darn the matches!—Talk low! There’s a sectionman on guard outside there—got me prisoner, though for what reason you’ll have to ask the little birds in the trees !”

He said it with a thrill of importance. To be alone in this adventure was one thing, but to hob-nob through it with no less a person than the private secretary to the President of the road himself—that was very different, and that was the amazing situation !

IJ IS fingers trembled as he held aloft A A another burning match. A dozen questions crowded the tip of his tongue, but he forgot them speedily as he stared at the older man. The match went out while he looked.

“I say, Mr. Pomeroy, are you hurt? What’s wrong? What’s happened? How’n under the sun did you get in here?”

“Found door open—crawled in. Arm’9 broken,” groaned the other.

“Great Scott!” Macklin’s dismay held him silent.

“The arm’s nothing.” Pomeroy spoke wearily, as one who has been through some strength-sapping ordeal. “There’s a lantern on the wall there back of you, if I remember rightly.”

“Great!” He crept across to the other side and felt for it until he found it. Fortunately there was oil in it and he had no difficulty in lighting it.

From the centre of the little store-room the pumping shaft ascended to the ceiling. On one side a ladder led up through a hole to the tank compartment overhead. Around the girders were hanging sundry odds and ends, the hoisting tackle completing the contents of the place.

But Macklin saw none of this at the time. He was keen to know how President Waring’s secretary came to be lying beneath this siding tank in the heart of the rough country with his arm broken when the President’s private car, where he belonged, had just gone by at the rear of Number 1-.

It flashed upon him that here was the solution of that car’s sudden return westward; perhaps Pomeroy was a sleepwalker and had fallen off the car when it went east the other day and they were returning to pick him up.

“What’s happened?” ventured Macklin again.

He walked across with the lantern, eyeing the other in alarm. The secretary’s left arm hung limp at his side. His hands were swollen and bleeding. His clothes were encrusted with dry mud and torn. Collar and tie were missing and his shirt was ripped open in front where his neck and chest-!

“Black-flies! Spent—yesterday—in the swamp!” explained Pomeroy weakly.

“Good heavens! You’re bitten all

“Don’t I know it! Help me get—the coat—tear the shirt-sleeves-”

TVAACKLIN set down the lantern and

’’Iopened his jack-knife again. He muttered execrations as he worked.

“The confounded little brutes have taken whole chunks out of you!” he grumbled savagely.

“I know it ! Went up telegraph poles— to eat ’em!” smiled the secretary faintly. “See if you can get down that thin board —nailed up there. Splints, you know. Got to get this damn arm eased up a little. Bone’s broken below elbow. Don’t think it’s compound fracture, though. That’s the stuff, kid. Now—whittle ’em down a bit”

The padlock on the door rattled. The Swede thrust a thick shoulder into the opening, blinking stupidly at the light. The look on his face was one of unadulterated bewilderment. He stared, openmouthed, first at the lantern, then at his prisoner, then at Pomeroy. When his eye fell upon the latter every vestige of comprehension was wiped away. His mouth closed at intervals for spasmodic swallows, lie stood there, gulping down great draughts of astonishment and Kmkinidiotically, trying his best to believe his eyes, but scarcely succeeding.

Macklin went on with his work without looking around. So that his sudden command came with the unexpectedness of a whip-crack:

“Water, Svenson!”

The Swede made no move, so absorbed was he in watching the preparations. Macklin paused to look up angrily.

“Well? Going to stand there all night, you great big fathead! Water I said, didn’t'I?” He jerked his head at a pail that stood in the corner, then at the ladder.

The sectionman continued to watch him stupidly, reverting to what was evidently his customary grin as the iunior member of Rutland’s gang threw off his coat, pulled off his shirt and proceeded to rip it into bandages.

A moment later, chancing to glance at Pomeroy, Macklin dropped the knife with an exclamation. The President’s secretary had fainted.

He turned furiously on the sectionman.

“WATER! You blame fool!”

To be Continued.