From: Red Butte Western
The president's private car was side-tracked on the short spur at the
eastern end of the Crow's Nest, and when Lidgerwood reached it he found
the observation platform fully occupied. The night was no more than
pleasantly cool, and the half-grown moon, which was already dipping to
its early extinguishment behind the upreared bulk of the Timanyonis,
struck out stark etchings in silver and blackest shadow upon a ground of
fallow dun and vanishing grays. On such nights the mountain desert hides
its forbidding face, and the potent spell of the silent wilderness had
drawn the young people of the Nadia's party to the out-door
"Hello, Mr. Lidgerwood, is that you?" called Van Lew, when the
superintendent came across to the spur track. "I thought you said this
was a bad man's country. We have been out here for a solid hour, and
nobody has shot up the town or even whooped a single lonesome war-whoop;
in fact, I think your village with the heavenly name has gone
ingloriously to bed. We're defrauded."
"It does go to bed pretty early--that part of it which doesn't stay up
pretty late," laughed Lidgerwood. Then he came closer and spoke to Miss
Brewster. "I am going west in my car, and I don't know just when I shall
return. Please tell your father that everything we have here is entirely
at his service. If you don't see what you want, you are to ask for it."
"Will there be any one to ask when you are gone?" she inquired, neither
sorrowing nor rejoicing, so far as he could determine.
"Oh, yes; McCloskey, my trainmaster, will be in from the wreck before
morning, and he will turn flip-flaps trying to make things pleasant for
you, if you will give him the chance."
She made the adorable little grimace which always carried him swiftly
back to a certain summer of ecstatic memories; to a time when her
keenest retort had been no more than a playful love-thrust and there had
been no bitterness in her mockery.
"Will he make dreadful faces at me, as he did at you this morning when
you went down among the smashed cars at the wreck to speak to him?" she
"So you were looking out of the window, too, were you? You are a close
observer and a good guesser. That was Mac, and--yes, he will probably
make faces at you. He can't help it any more than he can help
Miss Brewster was running her fingers along the hand-rail as if it were
the key-board of a piano. "You say you don't know how long you will be
away?" she asked.
"No; but probably not more than the night. I was only providing for the
unexpected, which some people say is what always happens."
"Will your run take you as far as the Timanyoni Canyon?"
"Yes; through it, and some little distance beyond."
"You have just said that we are to ask for what we want. Did you mean
"Surely," he replied unguardedly.
"Then we may as well begin at once," she said coolly; and turning
quickly to the others: "O all you people; listen a minute, will you?
Hush, Carolyn! What do you say to a moonlight ride through one of the
grandest canyons in the West in Mr. Lidgerwood's car? It will be
something to talk about as long as you live. Don't all speak at once,
But they did. There was an instant and enthusiastic chorus of approval,
winding up rather dolefully, however, with Miss Doty's, "But your mother
will never consent to it, Eleanor!"
"Mr. Lidgerwood will never consent, you mean," put in Miriam Holcombe
Lidgerwood said what he might without being too crudely inhospitable.
His car was entirely at the service of the president's party, of course,
but it was not very commodious compared with the Nadia. Moreover, he
was going on a business trip, and at the end of it he would have to
leave them for an hour or two, or maybe longer. Moreover, again, if they
got tired they would have to sleep as they could, though possibly his
state-room in the service-car might be made to accommodate the three
young women. All this he said, hoping and believing that Mrs. Brewster
would not only refuse to go herself but would promptly veto an
But this was one time when his distantly related kinswoman disappointed
him. Mrs. Brewster, cajoled by her daughter, yielded a reluctant
consent, going to the car door to tell Lidgerwood that she would hold
him responsible for the safe return of the trippers.
"See, now, how fatally easy it is for one to promise more--oh, so very
much more!--than one has any idea of performing," murmured the
president's daughter, dropping out to walk beside the victim when the
party trooped down the long platform of the Crow's Nest to the
service-car. And when he did not reply: "Please don't be grumpy."
"It was the maddest notion!" he protested. "Whatever made you suggest
"More churlishness?" she said reproachfully. And then, with ironical
sentiment: "There was a time when you would have moved heaven and earth
for a chance to take me somewhere with you, Howard."
"To be with you; yes, that is true. But----"
Her rippling laugh was too sweet to be shrill; none the less it held in
it a little flick of the whip of malice.
"Listen," she said. "I did it out of pure hatefulness. You showed so
plainly this afternoon that you wished to be quit of me--of the entire
party--that I couldn't resist the temptation to pay you back with good,
liberal interest. Possibly you will think twice before you snub me
again, Howard, dear."
Quickly he stopped and faced her. The others were a few steps in
advance; were already boarding the service-car.
"One word, Eleanor--and for Heaven's sake let us make it final. There
are some things that I can endure and some others that I cannot--will
not. I love you; what you said to me the last time we were together made
no difference; nothing you can ever say will make any difference. You
must take that fact into consideration while you are here and we are
obliged to meet."
"Well?" she said, and there was nothing in her tone to indicate that she
felt more than a passing interest in his declaration.
"That is all," he ended shortly. "I am, as I told you this afternoon,
the same man that I was a year ago last spring, as deeply infatuated
and, unhappily, just as far below your ideal of what your lover should
be. In justice to me, in justice to Van Lew--"
"I think your conductor is waiting to speak to you," she broke in
sweetly, and he gave it up, putting her on the car and turning to
confront the man with the green-shaded lantern who proved to be
"Any special orders, Mr. Lidgerwood?" inquired the reformed
cattle-herder, looking stiff and uncomfortable in his new service
uniform--one of Lidgerwood's earliest requirements for men on duty in
the train service.
"Yes. Run without stop to Little Butte, unless the despatcher calls you
down. Time yourself to make Little Butte by eleven o'clock, or a little
later. Who is on the engine?"
"Williams? How does it come that he is doubling out with me? He has just
made the run over the Desert Division with the president's car."
"So have I, for that matter," said Bradford calmly; "but we both got a
hurry call about fifteen minutes ago."
Lidgerwood held his watch to the light of the green-shaded lantern. If
he meant to keep the wire appointment with Flemister, there was no time
to call out another crew.
"I don't like to ask you and Williams to double out of your turn,
especially when I know of no necessity for it. But I'm in a rush. Can
you two stand it?"
"Sure," said the ex-cow-man. Then he ventured a word of his own. "I'll
ride up ahead with Williams--you're pretty full up, back here in the
car, anyway--and then you'll know that two of your own men are keepin'
tab on the run. With the wrecks we're enjoying----"
Lidgerwood was impatient of mysteries.
"What do you mean, Andy?" he broke in. "Anything new?"
"Oh, nothing you could put your finger on. Same old rag-chewin' going on
up at Cat Biggs's and the other waterin' troughs about how you've got to
be done up, if it costs money."
"That isn't new," objected Lidgerwood irritably.
"Tumble-weeds," said Bradford, "rollin' round over the short-grass. But
they show which way the wind's comin' from, and give you the jumps when
you wouldn't have 'em natural. Williams had a spell of 'em a few minutes
ago when he went over to take the 266 out o' the roundhouse and found
one of the back-shop men down under her tinkerin' with her trucks."
"What's that?" was the sharp query.
"That's all there was to it," Bradford went on imperturbably. "Williams
asked the shopman politely what in hell he was doing under there, and
the fellow crawled out and said he was just lookin' her over to see if
she was all right for the night run. Now, you wouldn't think there was
any tumble-weed in that to give a man the jumps, but Williams had 'em,
all the same. Says he to me, tellin' me about it just now: 'That's all
right, Andy, but how in blue blazes did he, or anybody else except
Matthews and the caller, know that the 266 was goin' out? that's what
I'd like to know.' And I had to pass it up."
Lidgerwood asked a single question.
"Did Williams find that anything had been tampered with?"
"Nothing that you could shoot up the back-shop man for. One of the truck
safety-chains--the one on the left side, back--was loose. But it
couldn't have hurt anything if it had been taken off. We ain't runnin'
on safety-chains these days."
"Safety-chain loose, you say?--so if the truck should jump and swing it
would keep on swinging? You tell Williams when you go up ahead that I
want that machinist's name."
"H'm," said Bradford; "reckon it was meant to do that?"
"God only knows what isn't meant, these times, Andy. Hold on a minute
before you give Williams the word to go." Then he turned to young
Jefferis, who had come out on the car platform to light a cigarette.
"Will you ask Miss Brewster to step out here for a moment?"
Eleanor came at the summons, and Jefferis gave the superintendent a
clear field by dropping off to ask Bradford for a match.
"You sent for me, Howard?" said the president's daughter, and honey
could not have matched her tone for sweetness.
"Yes. I shall have to anticipate the Angels gossips a little by telling
you that we are in the midst of a pretty bitter labor fight. That is why
people go gunning for me. I can't take you and your friends over the
"Why not?" she inquired.
"Because it may not be entirely safe."
"Nonsense!" she flashed back. "What could happen to us on a little
excursion like this?"
"I don't know, but I wish you would reconsider and go back to the
"I shall do nothing of the sort," she said, wilfully. And then, with
totally unnecessary cruelty, she added: "Is it a return of the old
malady? Are you afraid again, Howard?"
The taunt was too much. Wheeling suddenly, Lidgerwood snapped out a
summons to Jefferis: "Get aboard, Mr. Jefferis; we are going."
At the word Bradford ran forward, swinging his lantern, and a moment
later the special train shot away from the Crow's Nest platform and out
over the yard switches, and began to bore its way into the westward
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