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A Captain in the Ranks - A Romance of Affairs
by George Cary Eggleston
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"I have taken an oath," answered Duncan, "to obey and enforce the strict letter of the law in the administration of this bank's affairs—just as you did when you were president here. I, at least, intend to respect my oath."

"What do you require of me?"

"For one thing, that you shall put your account into a shape permitted by law and warranted by prudence. In doing that, you shall have all the help the bank can properly lend you."

"Tell me your exact terms," said Tandy, "and I will endeavor to comply with them."

"You must comply with them, as they will be only such as it is my duty to insist upon."

"What are they?"

"First of all, you must to-day deposit fifteen thousand dollars, in cash or securities, to make good that bit of paper," said Duncan, holding up the three-cornered fragment of a letter sheet, on which there was written in Tandy's hand:

Good for $15,000—count this as cash. N. T., Pres't.

"I found that in our cash assets only this morning, Mr. Tandy. Until it turned up I had cherished the belief that your irregularities were only such as you say are customary with bank officers. I believe it is not customary, however, for the president of a bank to abstract fifteen thousand dollars of the bank's cash and substitute for it a mere pencil scribbling on a scrap of paper, signed with initials."

Tandy sat gazing vacantly at Duncan, with livid lips and contorted features. He had so long been accustomed to administer the bank's affairs as suited his personal convenience that he had quite forgotten this little transaction. Recovering himself, he said presently:

"That was an oversight on my part, Mr. Duncan. It was merely a matter of temporary convenience. You see, one evening after hours, I happened suddenly to need that amount in currency. I came here to the bank and got it, putting the mem. into the cash box in its stead, as there were none of the bank's officers or clerks here to take my check. Besides, I hadn't my check-book with me. I fully intended to arrange the matter before the bank opened the next morning, but somehow I forgot it. It was only an oversight, I assure you."

"It was a felony," answered Duncan, in a tone as free from stress as if he had merely said, "It is raining." Then he added:

"Will you make a deposit now to clear that matter up? After you do so we can go on and adjust the other matters."

"Have mercy on me, Duncan! Give me a day or two to look about me! I've been investing very heavily of late, and really I can't raise fifteen thousand at a moment's notice. You know I am good for ten times the sum. Why not let it rest for a week, say?"

"Mr. Tandy," replied Duncan, enunciating every syllable as precisely as if he had been reciting a lesson in a foreign tongue, "let me remind you of something. Some time ago you offered to pay me a high price to commit a crime. You remember the circumstance, I have no doubt. You remember that I refused, and that you sought revenge by lying to the men who were then employing me. You told an infamous lie that, if it had been believed, would have blasted my good name forever. No, don't interrupt. I had not intended to mention this matter, especially in Mr. Leftwich's presence," bowing toward the bookkeeper, whose jaw had relaxed in astonishment. "I had not intended to mention that matter, but you have forced me to remind you of it, by trying now to persuade me to commit a crime without any inducement whatever except such as may be implied in my concern for your convenience. Until now I have been prepared to consider your convenience so far as I could do so consistently with my duty to the bank. I am now not disposed to consider it at all. You must bring fifteen thousand dollars here within an hour, and redeem that piece of paper, or I shall proceed against you criminally. After you shall have done that, you must make such other deposits of cash or acceptable securities as may be necessary to set your general account in order. That is all I have to say. I give you one hour in which to take up this paper, and I give you the rest of the day in which to adjust the other matter. That ends our conference, and I must excuse myself. You know your way out."



XXX

THE MYSTERY OF TANDY

Tandy quitted the bank in very serious distress of mind. He was a capitalist of large means, but even a great capitalist—and he could not be reckoned as quite that—may sometimes find it inconvenient to raise money in considerable sums upon the instant. It so happened that just at this time Tandy's means were all employed and his credit stretched almost to the point of breaking, by reason of his excessive and largely concealed investments in a number of enterprises.

On the moral side, it would have been difficult even for Tandy himself to say just what measure of suffering he endured. His conscience was casehardened, but his financial reputation was not only a valuable, but an absolutely necessary part of his equipment for the businesses in which he was engaged. That reputation was now in great danger. He wondered if Duncan would tell the story of that scrap of paper. He wondered still more, whether Duncan might not report the matter to the comptroller of the currency at Washington, and thus bring about a criminal prosecution, even after the sum irregularly borrowed had been repaid. Then he remembered, with something like a spasm round his heart, that the bookkeeper, Leftwich, had heard the whole conversation, and he remembered also that he had been, as he put it, "rather hard on Leftwich" upon several occasions in the past. If Leftwich cherished resentment on that account, his malice now had its opportunity.

On the whole, Napper Tandy could not recall another day in all his life on which he had suffered so much in spirit as he did now. But there was no time for brooding or lamenting. He felt that he was in Guilford Duncan's clutches, and, while he knew little of conscientious scruples by virtue of any soul experiences of that kind on his own part, he had so far learned to understand Duncan as to know that he would, as a matter of conscience alone, enforce the strict letter of his demand.

He hastened to find Captain Will Hallam, and to him he made almost a piteous appeal for a loan of fifteen thousand dollars through the Hallam bank.

"So Duncan carries too many guns for you, eh?" was the flippant remark with which Captain Hallam received the appeal.

"Will you let me have the money?" almost frantically pleaded the now thoroughly frightened man. "You see time is precious. I've less than an hour in which to raise the sum. You must help me out, Hallam."

"I really don't know whether I can arrange it or not. I'll see Stafford and find out how far our loans are extended. What security can you give? You know Stafford is very exacting as to the character of the security on which he lends the bank's funds."

"Yes, I know—and that is very awkward just now. I'm a good deal tied up, you know. I've been buying property along the line of our proposed railroad. I've bought rather heavily, and as I hadn't expected to be called upon to raise money just now, I have gone in pretty deep on credit. You know how impossible it is to realize on such property, even at a loss, when a man must have money at once."

"Then what can you offer?"

"Well, I've a pretty large block of stock in the Memphis and Ohio River Railroad——"

"Not good collateral till the road is finished. You know we couldn't touch that."

Tandy mentioned some other securities that Hallam deemed insecure, and by this time Hallam had begun to wonder what was the matter with Tandy. He knew, or thought he knew, that the man must have greatly more money invested somewhere than these things represented. He had a great curiosity to know what the other investments were, but he did not find out, for at last, within a brief while of the end of his hour of grace, the troubled man said:

"There is nothing for it but to hypothecate a part of my stock in the X National. You know that is good."

"Oh, yes, that's good. Stafford will accept that as collateral if the bank is in a position to extend its loans. I'll go and see."

When he told Stafford what the situation was, that astute banker—who had been in many a financial fisticuff with Tandy—quietly said:

"I don't see why we should make the loan. Why not refuse it, and then have you offer to buy the stock outright at about par? He must sell, for if I have correctly sized up our friend Duncan, he'll never let up on his demand in this case. A man with a conscience like his simply can't let up in such a matter."

"That's the way we'll fix it," answered Hallam, with an amused twinkle in his eye. "He's obviously in need of a little more education at my hands, and he can afford to pay for it. I'll buy the stock at par—not a cent more. I suppose it's worth a hundred and three?"

"Yes—all of that, and it will be worth more presently under Duncan's management. What a fellow that is, anyhow!"

"I imagine Tandy thinks so by this time."

As there was no other bank in Cairo, and nobody else who could make a loan such as Tandy must have on the instant, he was simply compelled to make the sale on Hallam's own terms.

With Hallam's check in hand, he hurried to the X National, arriving there just in time to meet Guilford Duncan's demand.

Duncan received the check in the bank parlor, again insisting that Leftwich should be present at the interview.

"I'll take that paper, if you please," Tandy said, holding out his hand for it.

"Not until you shall have adjusted the other matter. The bank's books show that, while you were still president of the institution, you made a loan of thirty thousand dollars to yourself, on your unsecured note, without even an endorsement. You know that in doing so, you violated the law you were sworn to obey and enforce. With that I do not now concern myself. What I ask is that you secure the bank for that loan, which still stands. When that is done, Mr. Leftwich will return this paper to you. In the meanwhile, I place it in his hands."

"Really, Mr. Duncan"—for since the early part of that morning's interview, Tandy had not ventured again upon the familiarity of addressing Duncan without the "Mr."—"really, Mr. Duncan, you are pressing me too hard. You must give me a few days——"

"How can I? The law would hold me at fault if I should allow the bank to close to-day with that loan unsecured. I have no right to give you time."

"You are persecuting me!"

"No, I am not. If I were minded to do that, I should call the loan in at once. As it is, I only ask you—as I must—to secure it as the law requires. I will accept any fairly good collateral you may have to offer. There is surely no hardship in that—no persecution in demanding that you shall temporarily leave with the bank enough of the bonds or stock certificates that you hold in plenty, to comply with the law concerning loans by national banks. I have simply no choice but to insist upon that."

"But I tell you," answered Tandy, "that at present I have no bonds or stocks conveniently available for such a purpose."

"I will accept your insurance stock."

"I've parted with that."

"Well, as I certainly have no disposition to be hard upon you, I'll accept your stock in the Atlantic and Mississippi Steamship Company, or even your Mississippi Valley Transportation Company stock, though neither can be reckoned a first-class security."

"I've sold out of both companies," answered Tandy.

By this time Duncan began to wonder what had happened to Tandy, in a financial way, just as Hallam had done.

"Wonder where he has been putting his money," he thought. "For surely he had plenty of it a little while ago. He's been buying property along the new railroad, but that isn't sufficient to tie up a man of Tandy's wealth. Something must be the matter. I must be cautious."

"I'll put up a hundred thousand in Memphis and Ohio River stock——" began Tandy.

"You know I can't consider that," said Duncan; "no sane banker could. But if you choose, the bank will accept stock in your coal mine—reckoned at fifty cents on the dollar—as security."

"That's out of the question. I'm negotiating a sale of my interests there, and it would embarrass me to have the stock hypothecated just now."

"Very well, then. What do you propose to do? Of course you have a large block of stock in this bank. Why not put that up as security, and give yourself all the time you need? Or if you don't want to hypothecate the stock with this bank, you can arrange a loan on it with Stafford or Hallam."

Tandy hesitated for a time before answering. At last he said:

"I've only thirty-three shares left. Why shouldn't the bank buy it outright, putting the loan in as a principal part of the purchase money?"

"At what price will you sell?"

"At 103. It's worth that and more."

"I'll consider the offer. Come back in an hour for your answer."

Duncan sent at once for Hallam and Stafford, as the principal stockholders in the bank, other than Tandy, and told them all that had happened. They advised the purchase, but suggested 102 as the price, and an hour later Napper Tandy ceased to be a stockholder in the X National Bank.

A day or two later Stafford learned that by this sale of his bank stock, Tandy had practically parted with the last investment he had in any Cairo enterprise.

He greatly wondered at that, and as he sat with Duncan and Hallam in Hallam's parlor that night, the three indulged in many conjectures concerning Tandy and his plans. The only conclusion they arrived at was expressed by Captain Will:

"He's up to mischief of some sort. We must watch him."



XXXI

ONLY A WOMAN

In accordance with his custom, Duncan told Barbara the whole story of the bank's dealings with Tandy, and explained to her his reasons for suspecting, as Captain Hallam had said, that Tandy was "up to mischief" of some kind and needed close watching.

"Perhaps he has lost money heavily," suggested Barbara, "and is struggling to keep his head above water."

"That is extremely unlikely," answered Duncan, "particularly as his standing at Bradstreet's is unimpaired. I asked Bradstreet's yesterday for a special report on him, and they gave him four A's. That means that he has ample capital and abundant resources somewhere within the knowledge of Bradstreet's agents. I imagine that he is going quietly into some big enterprise, and has so far invested his capital in it that he was sorely embarrassed for ready money when suddenly called upon to raise it. I would give a tidy little sum to find out what he is up to."

But neither Duncan nor Hallam was destined to make that discovery as yet. Soon after the bank matter was settled, Tandy seemed quite at ease again financially. He resumed his purchases of property along the line of the proposed railway, but only along the eastern half of it. He bought none in Cairo or within fifty miles of that city.

Two months later, after Duncan's campaign was over, and the elections had been held, he and Barbara came back to the subject. Duncan told Barbara of the queer provision that Tandy had persuaded the authorities of two counties to put into their bond appropriation, and expressed his curiosity to know the motive.

"He didn't do that thing just for fun, Guilford," the girl said, after she had thought the matter over for twenty-four hours. "He has some interest to serve."

"Of course. I'm very sure of that."

"We must find out what it is," said the girl, whose apprehension was strongly aroused.

"But how, Barbara?"

"I don't know how, at present, but I'm trying to find out a way. I don't know enough about the facts as yet to make a good guess. You must tell me some things."

"Anything you like."

"Is there any other railroad that might be injured by this one? Any road, I mean, that he might be interested in enough to make him want this project defeated?"

"No, certainly not. On the contrary, he has a tremendous interest in the building of our road. Of course his interests here in Cairo are comparatively small, now that he is out of the bank, but as you know, he has been buying property very heavily along our proposed line. Of course, when the road is finished the towns along the line will grow, and property there will go up. In view of that, he has been buying lots, houses, and business buildings at all the places where principal stations are likely to be located."

It was two or three days later when Barbara returned to the subject by a somewhat indirect route.

"Tell me about Paducah, Guilford," she said to him suddenly.

He laughingly answered:

"Paducah is a thriving town in northwestern Kentucky. It lies on the Ohio River about fifty miles above the mouth of that stream. It has a small but ambitious population, and is a considerable market for the sale of tobacco. That's about all I remember of what the gazeteer says about the interesting burg."

"And you know that isn't what I want you to tell me. Are there any railroads there?"

"One small one, running from the south, ends there, I believe, and the Paducah people are trying to induce the company which is building the Memphis and Ohio River Railroad to make its northern terminus there instead of at Cairo. They are trying, too, to get a bridge built across the Ohio at that point. They are unlikely to succeed in either project, for the reason that they have no railroad connection north or east. Railroads from the south running into Paducah would find no outlet except by the river."

Barbara was silent for some time. Then she asked: "Is Mr. Tandy interested in any business at Paducah?"

"I really don't know. He's in all sorts of things, you know. But why do you ask?"

Instead of answering, she asked another question:

"Is he interested in the company you spoke of, that is building a line from Memphis to the Ohio River?"

"Yes. He's heavily in that. Indeed, he is president of it, I believe, or something like that, just as he is of our company—well, no, the parallel doesn't hold, for ours is only a projecting company, as yet, while that is a full-fledged railroad company actually engaged in building. I suppose that is one of the things that tied Tandy up at the time of the bank trouble. He had put a pot of money into it, and he could neither sell his stock nor raise money on it till the road should be finished and in operation. But why do you ask about that, Barbara?"

For answer, she crossed the room, and returning, spread out a map on a table.

"Look!" she said, putting her finger on the map. "At a point only a little east of that county line concerning which Tandy got the strange stipulation made, our proposed line will be much nearer to Paducah than the distance from that point to Cairo. May it not be possible——"

"By Jove, Barbara!" Duncan exclaimed, as he bent over the map, "you've solved the riddle. What a splendid combination it is! And how we must hustle to defeat it!"

"You must be calm, then, and let us work it all out, and be sure of everything before you tell Captain Will about it. I want you to have full credit for the timely discovery."

"Me? Why, it is all yours, Barbara, and you are to have all the credit of it."

"Oh, no. You told me the things that enabled me to guess it out, and I've only been trying to help you. I'm glad if I have helped, but positively my name mustn't be mentioned. I'm only a woman!"

"Only a woman!" Duncan echoed. "Only a woman! Barbara, God's wisdom was never so wise as when he created 'only a woman' to be a 'helpmeet for man.'"



XXXII

THE RIDDLE EXPLAINED

The next half hour was spent, as Barbara expressed it, in "perfecting the guess" she had made.

"Tandy has gone into that Memphis and Ohio River enterprise up to his eyes," said Duncan. "Naturally, he has got his controlling interest in it at an extremely low price, as compared with the face value of the stock and bonds, for the reason that the road ends at Paducah, which is much the same thing as ending nowhere.

"But if he can succeed in diverting our line to Paducah instead of Cairo, thus securing an entirely satisfactory connection north and east, his Memphis and Ohio road will become part of one of the greatest trunk lines in this part of the country, and the advance in his stock and bond holdings will make him one of the richest men in the West."

"That is what I was thinking, Guilford, but I hardly dared suggest it—I know so little. I didn't know that it would be possible to change our line. I thought that maybe its charter compelled it to run to Cairo."

"No, unfortunately, it doesn't. Tandy secured the charter in the first place, before Hallam and Stafford went into the project. I wonder," he added with a puzzled look, "I wonder if the old schemer was looking this far ahead. At any rate, the charter, as Tandy had it drawn, requires only that the line shall be so located and constructed as to connect the railroads running east from its eastern terminus with the Mississippi River—it doesn't say at what point. That requirement would be fully met, of course, if the road should be diverted to Paducah, connecting there with the line to Memphis."

"But why did Tandy want that county line provision put into the bond subscription?"

"Look at the map again. Those two counties lie west of the point at which the road must be turned south if it is to be diverted to Paducah. If we fail to build across that county line by noon of the fifteenth of next March, the subscriptions of both those counties will be forfeited. Then Tandy will step in and offer the company that is building the line a much larger subscription of some sort from Paducah and from his Memphis road, as an inducement to shorten the line by taking it to Paducah instead of Cairo."

"That would ruin Cairo?" the girl asked, anxiously.

"It would be a terrible blow to the city's prosperity. But," looking at his watch, "I must lay this matter before Hallam and Stafford to-night, late as it is."

Then, going to the little telegraph instrument which, for his own convenience, he had installed in Barbara's house, he called Captain Hallam out of bed and clicked off the message:

The milk in the cocoanut is accounted for. I must see you and Stafford to-night, without fail. Summon him. I'll go up to your house at once.

It did not require much time or many words for Duncan to explain the situation as he now understood it. Nor was there the slightest ground for doubt that the solution reached was altogether the correct one.

"It's a deep game he's been playing," said Hallam.

"It is one of the finest combinations I ever heard of," responded Stafford. "You've a mighty long head, Duncan, to work out such a puzzle."

"Don't be too complimentary to my head. I didn't work it out," responded the younger man.

"You didn't? Who did, then?"

"Barbara Verne! She forbade me to mention her name, but I will not sail under false colors."

"Well, now, I want to say," said Stafford, "that you've a mighty long head, anyhow, to make a counselor of such a girl as Barbara Verne. It's the very wisest thing you ever did in your life, and the wisest you ever will do till you make her your wife. Of course, that will come in due time?"

"I hope so, but I am not sure I can accomplish that."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Why, I had supposed it was all arranged. Why haven't you——"

"Perhaps I have. At any rate, the doubt I spoke of is not due to any neglect of opportunity on my part. But we must get to business. It is two o'clock in the morning. We've found out old Napper's game. Now, what are we going to do about it?"

During this little side conversation, Hallam had been pacing the floor, thinking. He now began issuing his orders, like shots from a rapid-fire gun.

"Go to the instrument there, Duncan, and telegraph Temple to come to Cairo by the first train. Tell him to give instructions to his assistant as to the running of the mine during a long absence on his part."

When Duncan had finished the work of telegraphing, Hallam turned to him, saying:

"You, Duncan, are to start for New York on the seven o'clock train this morning. Leave your proxy with Stafford to vote your stock in the present company, and——"

"What's your plan, Hallam?" interrupted Stafford.

"To give old Napper Tandy the very hardest lesson he's ever had to learn at my hands. You and I will call a meeting of the company immediately, and make Duncan president."

"But how are we to get rid of Tandy?"

"Ask him to resign, and kick him out if he doesn't. But listen! We've no time to waste. We'll reorganize this company—making it a real railroad company to build the road, instead of being the mere projecting company it is now. You and I and Duncan will put all the money we can spare into it, and we'll make every man in Cairo who's got anything beyond funeral expenses put it in. All the subscriptions already made to the inducement fund we'll convert into permanent stock subscriptions. Then, with the county, city, and town subscriptions in hand, we'll have about four millions of our stock subscribed. We must have twelve millions of stock in all. It is for you, Duncan, to find the rest in New York. You must see capitalists and persuade them to go in with us, as subscribers, either to the stock or to the construction bonds that we'll issue. You are to use your own judgment and we'll back you up."

"What are you going to do with Temple?"

"Make him chief engineer to the company, and set him at work surveying and locating the line at once. It's now three o'clock. You must go and pack your trunk, Duncan. I'll telegraph you in New York, telling you everything you need to know. Take your copy of our private cipher code with you, in case we should have confidential communications to make. Go, now. I'll smooth your way by telegraphing our correspondents in New York, and the officers of the Fourth National, asking them to help you. Stafford, you'd better go home, now. You're getting along in life, you know, and need your sleep." Stafford was about ten years younger than Hallam.

So ended a conference that was destined, by the success or failure of its purpose, to decide the fate of a great enterprise and the future of a thriving city—to say nothing of the career of a brilliant young man.



XXXIII

AT CRISIS

It was December now, and winter had set in early. Temple found it exceedingly difficult to secure the assistant surveyors, rodmen, chainmen, and the rest, whose services were absolutely necessary, but by dint of hard work, he at last completed the organization of his several engineering corps, and set to work surveying the line, locating it, establishing grades, and the like.

Hurry it as he might, the work was very slow, because of the bad weather, but at least it went forward, and early in January gangs of men were sent into each county to make a show, at least, of construction work, and thus to avoid all possibility of the forfeiture of the county and town subscriptions.

The greatest difficulty encountered was in meeting the requirement that a car should actually cross the line between the two counties by noon of the fifteenth of March. That part of the line was peculiarly difficult of access. It could be reached only by a twenty-five mile journey across country, over roads which, in the winter, were well-nigh impassable. In order to build any sort of railroad line at the point involved, it was necessary to carry across country all the tools, earth cars, and construction materials, together with a large company of workmen. Huts must be built to shield the men from the severity of the weather, and provisions for them must be hauled over twenty-five miles of swamp roads. In order to do so, streams must be bridged for the wagons, and in many places the road must be "corduroyed" for many miles of its extent. That is to say, it must be paved with unhewn logs, laid side by side across it.

It was near the end of February, therefore, before anything like systematic construction at that point could be got under way.

Meanwhile, Duncan's mission to New York had been successful, though it was attended by much of difficulty. He had secured the necessary stock subscriptions, and better still, he had succeeded in inducing one of the great trunk lines of the East to guarantee a considerable bond issue on the part of the new road, under an agreement that when completed it should be made, in effect, an extension of the eastern company's lines.

The only problem now was to prevent that diversion of the proposed line which Tandy was openly trying to bring about. The New York capitalists whom Duncan had secured as stockholders in the enterprise, were, many of them, disposed to look upon the proposed change of terminus from Cairo to the rival city with a good deal of favor. Such a change would considerably shorten the line to be built, and the connection southwest from Paducah to Memphis was in some respects a more desirable one than that from Cairo.

But Duncan had secured from the capitalists a trustworthy promise that the line should be built to Cairo, as originally planned, provided the Cairo people, with Duncan, Hallam, and Stafford at their head, should protect the subscriptions of the two hesitating counties by meeting the requirement imposed at Tandy's suggestion. Thus everything depended upon the completion of a track across that county line before noon on the fifteenth day of March.

Temple had succeeded in getting the work started, but the task was a Herculean one. Duncan hurried to the scene of action as soon as he returned from New York to Cairo. He found that the space to be built over was very low-lying, and that the nearest source of supply for earth with which to build the high embankment required was nearly two miles distant.

Temple had begun work at that point. He was extending an embankment thence toward the point where the county line must be crossed. On this he was laying a temporary track as fast as it was extended, in order that his earth cars might be pushed over it with their loads of filling material.

Duncan's first look at the progress of the work convinced him that it could not be completed within the time allowed, unless a much larger working force could be secured.

He instantly telegraphed to Hallam:

Must have more men immediately. If you can send two hundred at once there is a bare possibility of success, provided weather conditions do not grow worse. But without that many men failure is inevitable. Why not send all your miners here?

Hallam, in his habitual way, acted promptly and with vigor. Leaving Stafford to hire all the men who could be secured in Cairo, he himself hurried to the mines, and by promising double wages, induced most of the men there to go for the time being into the work of railroad construction. Within two or three days the total force at Duncan's command numbered somewhat more than two hundred men.

"We ought to have fifty or a hundred more," he said, "particularly as the miners are new to this sort of work; but, as we can't get them, we must do our best with the force we have."

After consultation with Temple, he divided the force into three shifts, and kept the work going night and day, without cessation. For a time the rapid progress made gave Duncan confidence in his ultimate success. In that confidence Temple shared, but with a reservation.

"I'm afraid we're in for a freshet," he said. "The rivers are all rising, and the rain is almost continuous now. All this region, except a hill here and there, lies lower than the flood levels of the Ohio River on one side, and the Mississippi on the other. If the rise continues, we shall have both rivers on us within a few days."

"Is there any way in which to meet that difficulty?" asked Duncan anxiously.

"Yes—possibly," Temple responded, slowly and hesitatingly. "We might build a crib across the space still to be filled in, and make it serve the purposes of a coffer dam in some degree. By doing that, we can keep the work going, even if the overflow from the rivers comes upon us. But the building of the crib will take time, and we've no time to waste, you know."

"Yes, I know that. Still, if it becomes necessary, we must build it. I'll tell you this evening what is to be done."

For convenience and quickness of communication, Duncan had strung a telegraph wire from tree to tree through the woods to the point where the work was in progress. He instantly telegraphed Hallam, saying:

Find out and telegraph flood prospect. How long before the rise in rivers will drown us out here? Everything depends on early and accurate information as to that.

The answer came back within half an hour. Hallam telegraphed:

Have already made telegraphic inquiries at all points on all the rivers. Reports very discouraging. Probability is you'll be flooded within three days. I'll be with you to-morrow.

The space to be cribbed, so that the work of filling might go on in spite of floods, was comparatively small, but the task of cribbing it, even in the rudest fashion, occupied nearly the whole working force during three precious days and nights. Worse still, in order to hurry it, Temple made the mistake of working the men overtime. As an inducement, Hallam promised to increase the double wage per hour, which the men were already receiving, to triple wages, on condition that they should work in two, instead of three shifts. As the work was exhausting in its nature, and must be done under a deluge of bone-chilling rain, this overtasking of the men quickly showed itself in their loss of energy and courage. Some of them threw up the employment and made their way homeward. All of them were suffering and discouraged. But at the end of the three days, the rude crib was so far finished that even should the floods come, it would still be possible to continue the work of filling in by running the dirt cars to the slowly advancing end of the temporary track and dropping their contents into the crib.

Thus the work went slowly on. The men daily showed, more and more, the effects of their overwork—for each was working for twelve hours of each twenty-four now. They grew sullen and moody of mind, and slow of movement and of response. Every day a few more of them gave up the task and Duncan began seriously to fear that a wholesale quitting would occur in spite of the enormous wages he was paying.

With his soldier experience, he knew the symptoms of demoralization from overstrain, and he began now to recognize them in the conduct and countenances of the men. His soldier life had taught him, also, how large a part feeding plays in such a case as this. He, therefore, minutely inspected the out-of-door mess kitchen, and found it in charge of careless and incompetent negro women, who knew neither how to cook nor how to make food attractive in appearance.

"The men eat a good deal," he said to Temple, "but they are not properly nourished. I must remedy that. We simply must win this struggle, Dick, and we've only six days more. If we can keep the men at work for six days and nights more, we'll either finish or finally fail."

It was Duncan's habit every evening to call up Barbara's house on the telegraph and hold a little conversation with her over the wire. She was thus kept minutely informed of how matters were going with him, and she was well-nigh sleepless with anxiety lest he fail in this crowning undertaking of his career.

Turning away from Temple, he went to the telegraphic instrument, opened the circuit and called Barbara. He explained his new difficulty to her, and the vital importance of providing better and more abundant food, better cooked.

"The men have been living on mess pork and 'salt-horse' for weeks, and both the meat and the half-baked dough served to them for bread are enough to break the spirit even of veteran soldiers. Now, I want your help in earnest. If we can keep the men at work for six days more, we shall have a chance, at least, of success. If we can't, failure is inevitable. I want you to buy a lot of the best fresh provisions you can get in Cairo, and send them here early to-morrow morning, in charge of somebody who knows how to hustle. Send one of my bank clerks if you can't do better. Send some molasses, too, in kegs, not barrels—barrels take too long to handle. Send eggs, butter, rice, macaroni, onions, turnips, cheese, and above all, some really good coffee. The calcined peas we've been using for coffee would discourage even Captain Hallam if he dared drink the decoction.

"Then, if possible, I want you to send me one or two cooks who really know what cooking means. Don't hesitate about wages. We'll pay any price if you can only find two cooks who know the difference between broiling beef and burning it. Till your cooks come, I'm going to take charge of the cooking myself. I have at least such culinary skill as we old rebel soldiers could acquire when we had next to nothing to cook."

And he did. Guilford Duncan, distinguished man of affairs, associate of financial nabobs, bank president, and president of this railroad company, sat hour after hour on a log, or squatted before an out-door fire, doing his best to make palatable such food-stuffs as were to be found in the camp.

"It's a sorry task," he said to Temple. "The stuff isn't fit to eat at best. I wonder who bought it. God help the commissary who should have issued it as rations, even in the starvation days of the Army of Northern Virginia. The men would have made meat of him. But I can at least make it look a little more palatable, and perhaps improve its flavor a little in the cooking, till Barbara sends fresh supplies and some capable cooks."

"What answer did she make to you when you telegraphed?"

"Hardly any at all," he answered. "She clicked out—'I'll do my best,' and then shut off the circuit, without even a word of encouragement or sympathy. I'm seriously afraid she is ill. You know she shares our anxiety, and she hasn't been sleeping much, I imagine, since our troubles here reached a crisis."

"That's your fault," said Temple. "You've told her too much of detail. My Mary would be sleepless, too, if I had kept her minutely informed of matters here. So I've only telegraphed her now and then, saying: 'Doing our best, and hopeful. Love to the baby,' and she has responded: 'Your best is always good. Go on doing it. Baby well,' or something like that. If you ever get married, Duncan, you'll learn to practice certain reserves with your wife—for her sake."

"No I won't."

"But why so sure?"

"Because, if I ever marry, my wife will be a certain little woman whose fixed determination it will be to share both my triumphs and my perplexities—especially the perplexities. She will permit no reserves—God bless her for the most supremely unselfish and heroically helpful woman that He ever made!"

"How women do differ in their ways!" said Temple, half musingly.

"Yes, and how stupidly men blunder in not adequately recognizing and respecting their varying attitudes and temperaments! Do you know, Dick, I think life is fearfully hard upon women and very unjust to them, even at its best; and it is my conviction that the hardship might be very largely relieved and the injustice remedied, if men only had sense enough to discover and grace enough to recognize the individualities and idiosyncracies of the women with whom they are associated?"

"I think the trouble is not there," responded Temple. "Most men understand their womankind fairly well. The trouble is that instead of respecting the individualities of women as something to which they have a right, most men conceitedly assume that it is their duty to repress those individualities, to mould their wives and daughters to a model of their own shaping. The process is a cruel one when it succeeds. When it fails, it means wretchedness all around. Indeed, I think that absolutely all there is of human disagreement of an unpleasant sort, whether between men and women, or between persons of the same sex, is ultimately traceable to a failure duly to recognize and respect the rights of individuality."

"I'm inclined to agree with you," answered Duncan; "but now I've got to dish up and carve this kettleful of corned beef, and you, I imagine, might somewhat expedite the work of the earth shovelers by lending them the light of your countenance for a time."

Duncan had scarcely finished the dishing up of the unsavory corned beef, the only merit of which was that it was sufficiently cooked, when a dispatch came to him from the New York bankers whom he had left in charge of the company's interests in the financial capital. They telegraphed:

Tandy reports that you have completely failed to build across county line. The others give notice that if so, they will deflect road to Paducah. Tandy offers subscriptions of vast sum from counties, towns, Paducah, and his Memphis and Ohio road. What answer shall we give? Answer by telegraph.

This message acted like an electric shock. It quickened every pulse of Duncan's being. It nerved him to new endeavor and renewed determination. He promptly replied:

Tell them to wait till time is up. They have given their promise and I have given mine. I will keep mine. They must keep theirs. Remind them I'm not dead yet.

Then Duncan went to inspect the progress of the work.



XXXIV

A CHEER FOR LITTLE MISSIE

It was after seven o'clock, and darkness had completely fallen, when Barbara received Guilford Duncan's telegraphic appeal for help "in earnest." She wasted no time—slow operator that she was on the telegraph—in sending messages of sympathy and reassurance. She laboriously spelled out the words: "I'll do my best," and closed the instrument in order that she might attend to more pressing things than telegraphic chatting.

She summoned Bob to serve as her protector, and promptly sallied forth into the night. The great groceries, known as "boat stores," were accustomed to be open very late at night, and often all night, for the accommodation of the stewards of steamboats landing at the levee. At seven or eight in the evening they were sure to be open, with business in unabated activity. But the clerks were full of curiosity when Barbara, escorted only by the negro serving boy, presented herself and began rattling off orders greater in volume than any they had ever received, even from the steward of an overcrowded passenger steamer. She began by ordering forty sugar cured hams and four hindquarters of beef. She followed up these purchases with orders for four kegs of molasses, six boxes of macaroni, a barrel of rice, and so on through her list. Still more to the astonishment of the clerks, she gave scarcely a moment to the pricing of the several articles, and seemed to treat her purchases as matters of ordinary detail. They began to understand, however, when she ordered the goods sent that night by express, to that station on the Illinois Central Railroad which lay nearest the scene of Guilford Duncan's operations, and directed that the bill be sent to him at the X National Bank for payment.

Barbara made short work of her buying. When it was done she hurried home and packed a small trunk with some simple belongings of her own. At seven o'clock the next morning, accompanied by the negro boy Robert, she took the train and before noon found herself at the little station to which she had ordered the freight sent. She was disappointed to find that although she had ordered the goods sent by express, they had not come by the train on which she had traveled.

The railroad was run by telegraphic orders in those days, and so, even at this small station, there was an instrument and an operator. Making use of these, Barbara inquired concerning the freight, and was assured of its arrival by a train due at four o'clock.

She spent the intervening time in securing two wagons with four stout horses to each, and when the freight came it was loaded upon these with particular care, so that no accidents might occur to delay the journey. If the roads had been even tolerably good, one of the wagons might have carried the load, perhaps, but the roads were execrably bad and Barbara was not minded to take any risks.

When the loading was done, it was nearly nightfall, but the eager girl insisted upon starting immediately, to the profound disgust of her drivers. The first ten miles of road was the best ten miles, as the drivers assured her, and by insisting upon a start that evening instead of waiting for morning, she managed to cover that part of the distance by eleven o'clock. Then she established a camp, saw the horses fed, gave the drivers a hot and savory supper, and ordered them to be ready to start again at sunrise.

On resuming the journey in the morning, Barbara urged the teamsters to their best endeavors, reinforcing her plea for haste with a promise of a tempting money reward for each of them if they should complete the journey that day.

The drivers did their mightiest to earn the reward, but the difficulties in the way proved to be much greater than even they had anticipated. For the two great rivers had at last broken over their banks and their waters were already spreading over the face of the land. The country through which the road ran was slightly rolling. The small hillocks were secure from overflow at any time, but the low-lying spaces between them were already under water, the depth of which varied from a few inches to two or three feet. The soft earth of the roadbed was now a mere quagmire, through which the horses laboriously dragged the wagons hub deep in mud.

Worse still were those stretches of road which had been corduroyed with logs. For there some of the logs were floating out of place, and some were piled on top of those that were still held fast in the mud.

In dragging the wagons through the mud reaches, it was necessary to stop every few minutes to give the horses a breathing spell. On the corduroy stretches it was often necessary to stop for half an hour or more at a time, while the drivers and Bob, wading knee deep, made such repairs as were possible and absolutely necessary.

Bob, with his habitual exuberance of spirit, enjoyed all this mightily. The drivers did not enjoy it at all. Several times, indeed, they wanted to abandon the attempt, declaring that it was impossible to go farther. But for Barbara's persuasive urgency, they would have unhitched the horses and gone home, leaving the wagons to such fate as might overtake them. As it was, the caravan moved slowly onward, with many haltings and much of weariness.

It was midnight when, at last, the flare of the torches told Barbara that the journey was done. Not knowing whither the wagons should be taken, Barbara bade Bob go and find Duncan.

When the young man heard of Barbara's arrival, he and Dick Temple hurried to her, full of apprehension lest the journey and the exposure should have made her ill, and fuller still of fear that the conditions of life in the camp might prove to involve more of hardship than she could bear. For the first time in his life, Guilford Duncan felt like scolding.

"What on earth are you doing here, Barbara?" he asked, and before he could add anything to the question, she playfully answered:

"Just now, I'm waiting for you to tell the teamsters where to drive the wagons."

"But Barbara——"

"Never mind the rest of your scolding. I've already rehearsed it in my imagination till I know it all by heart—forwards and backwards. Tell the men where the cooking place is."

"But what are we to do with you, in all this flood and mud, and in the incessant rain?"

"Just let me alone while I 'help in earnest,' as you said in your dispatch that you wanted me to do. You telegraphed me that you wanted two good cooks, so here we are, Bob and I. For, really, Bob has learned to cook as well as I can. I only wonder you didn't send for us sooner. Now, we mustn't waste any more time talking. I've got to set to work if the men are to have their breakfast on time, and there's a lot of unloading to do before I can get at the things."

The girl's voice was strained and her manner not quite natural. The long anxiety and the cold and the weariness had begun to tell upon her. She was strong and resolute still, and ready for any physical effort or endurance that might be required of her. But she felt that she could stand no more of emotional strain. So, speaking low to Duncan, in order that his friend might not hear, she said:

"Please, Guilford, don't say anything more that your tenderness suggests. I can't stand it. Be just commonplace and practical. Show the teamsters the way and let me get to work. I'll be happier then and better."

Duncan understood and was wise enough to obey. Half an hour later he and Temple had gone back to the crib, leaving Barbara to direct the unloading of the wagons. A little later still, Bob and the two negro women who had hitherto done the cooking went out among the men at work, bearing great kettles of steaming coffee for the refreshment of the well-nigh exhausted toilers. Bob accompanied his share of the coffee distribution by a little speech of his own devising:

"Dar, now! Dat's coffee as is, an' it's hot an' strong, too. Little Missie done mek it wif her own han's and she's de lady wot sen's it to you. She's done come out inter de wilderness, jes to cook victuals fer you men, and you jes bet yer bottom dollar you'll git a breakfas' in the mawnin'."

Realizing the situation, and stimulated by their deep draughts of coffee, the men set up a cheer for "Little Missie," though they knew not who she was, and thought of her chiefly as a source of food supply. But they worked the better for the coffee, and for the promise it held out of good things to come.



XXXV

THE END OF A STRUGGLE

When Duncan and Temple went to Barbara's fire for their breakfast, after the workmen had been served, both were quick-witted enough to see that the little lady was in no condition to endure emotion of any kind. She had slept little on the night before leaving Cairo, very little more at the night camp during the journey, and not at all on the night of her arrival. Her first words indicated a purpose on her part to fend off all talk that might touch upon personal matters.

"Good-morning, gentlemen," she said. "I'm very well, thank you, so you needn't ask me about that, especially as there are more important things to be discussed. I brought all the supplies I could, but after seeing the men eat, I realize that we shall run short of food very soon. How many more days are there?"

"Four more—including to-day."

"Then you must telegraph at once to Cairo for more beef, or we shall run short. Please go and telegraph at once, Guilford. Then come back and your breakfast will be ready."

When he had gone, the girl turned to Temple and said:

"Everything is ready for you two. Bob will serve it. I think I'll go and sleep a little, now. Don't fail to wake me at ten o'clock, Bob, and have the roasts cut and ready to hang over the fire when I get up."

With that, she tripped away to the canvas-covered wagon, which Duncan had detained at the camp to serve her as sleeping quarters.

Late in the evening of that day, the two teamsters, who had started early in the morning on their return journey with the other wagon, rode back into camp on their horses. They reported the water as rising everywhere. In addition to the incoming flood from the swollen rivers, the nearly ceaseless rain had made raging torrents of all the creeks, and lakes of all the valleys. The teamsters had been obliged to abandon their wagon, wholly unable to make their way further.

"Then we shall get no more provisions," said Barbara, in a sadly troubled voice.

"And that's a pity," answered Temple. "For the men's spirits have greatly revived under the stimulus of your improved commissariat, Miss Barbara. How long will your supplies last?"

"I've enough coffee, flour, and molasses," she answered, "to last through. But the fresh meat will be exhausted by to-morrow night. The hams will help out, for breakfasts, but they won't go far among two hundred men. I'm sorry I couldn't have brought more."

"You could not have got through at all if your loads had been heavier," said Duncan. "We must simply do the best we can with what we've got. The coffee alone will go far to sustain the men, and the molasses will be a valuable substitute for meat. I still have hopes that we shall win."

"Oh, we must win, you know. You mustn't allow yourself to think of anything else."

"We'll try, at any rate, and with your superb courage to help us, I think we shall win."

* * * * *

It was six o'clock on the morning of the last day, when the night gave its first intimation of a purpose to come to an end. In the slow-coming gray of the dawn, the torches still flared, casting long and distorted shadows of the work-weary men, as they continued their toil. During that last night the entire company had been kept at work in a last desperate effort to accomplish the end so vitally necessary. All night long Duncan had done what he could to encourage the toilers, while Temple had given his attention to such devices as might shorten the task, or otherwise facilitate its doing. All night long Barbara had busied herself furnishing limitless coffee as an atonement for the insufficient food the men had had since her supplies of meat ran out, two days before.

During the last half hour the rain had almost ceased, and Guilford Duncan had indulged an anxious hope that the skies might clear away with the sunrise, but just as the gray of morning began to give light enough for the workmen to see without the aid of the torches, the downpour began again, more pitilessly than ever.

Its discouraging effect upon the already exhausted men was instantly apparent. A dozen of them at once quitted work and doggedly sat down in the mud of the embankment. Two or three others, reckless of everything but their own suffering, stretched themselves at full length to sleep where they were—too weary and hopeless, now, even to seek the less uncomfortable spots in which to rest their worn-out bodies.

"Six hours more," said Duncan, looking at his watch. "Only six hours between us and triumph. Only six hours—and we must lose all, simply because the men are done up."

"We'll do it yet," answered young Temple.

"We never can. Those fellows are done for, I tell you. I know the symptoms. They've lost their morale, lost the ambition for success. I've seen soldiers fall in precisely that way, too far gone even to shelter themselves from a cannonade."

For the first time in his life, Guilford Duncan realized that there is such a thing as the Impossible. For the first time, he recognized the fact that there may be things which even courage and determination cannot achieve.

The simple fact was that the long strain had at last begun to tell, even upon his resolute spirit. For three days and nights now he had not slept. For three days and nights he had not sat down. For three days and nights he had been wading in water and struggling in mud, and exhausting all his resources of mind and character in efforts to stimulate the men to continued endeavor.

He was playing for a tremendous stake, as we know. His career, his future, all that he had ever dreamed of of ambition, hung upon success or failure in this undertaking, and now at last, and in spite of his heroic struggle, failure stared him in the face.

And apart from these considerations of self-interest, there were other and higher things to be thought of. If he failed now, an enterprise must be lost in which he had labored for a year to induce others to invest millions. If he failed, the diversion of this railroad from its original course must become an accomplished fact, to the ruin of his adopted city and the paralysis of growth in all that region, for perhaps ten years to come. Thus his own career, the millions of other men's money, which had been risked upon faith in his power to achieve, and, worst of all, the development of all this fair, but very backward region—all of good to others, of which he had dreamed, and for which he had hoped and toiled—depended upon his success or failure in keeping two hundred utterly worn-out men at work in the rain, the water, and the mud, for six hours more.

At last, this resolute man, whose courage had seemed unconquerable, was discouraged.

"Might as well give it up," said Will Hallam. "The men simply will not work any longer."

"It isn't a case of will not, but of cannot," answered Duncan.

Barbara heard all, as she hovered over the fire of logs, and busied herself with her tasks, regardless of rain and weariness, regardless of every consideration of self. She wore no wraps or protection of any kind against the torrents of rain. "They would simply bother me," she said, when urged to protect her person. Her face was flushed by the heat of the fire, but otherwise she was very pale, and her tightly compressed lips were livid as she straightened herself up to answer Duncan's despairing words.

"You are wrong," she said. "They can work a little longer if they will. It is for us to put will into them. Call them to the fire, a dozen or twenty at a time, for breakfast. I've something new and tempting for them—something that will renew their strength. You and Captain Hallam and Mr. Temple must do the rest."

A dozen of the men had already come with their tin cups to drink again of the strong coffee that Barbara had been serving to them at intervals throughout the night. She had something more substantial for them now.

She had by her a barrel full of batter, and she and the negro boy, Bob, each with two large frying pans, were making griddle cakes with astonishing rapidity. To each of the men she gave one of the tin plates, with half a dozen of the hot cakes upon it, bidding each help himself to molasses from the half barrel, from which, for convenience of ladling, Bob had removed the head.

"This is breakfast," she said to the men, as they refreshed themselves. "There'll be dinner, and a good one, ready for all of you at noon, when the work is done."

The men were too far exhausted to greet her suggestion with enthusiasm. The few words they spoke in response were words of discouragement, and even of despair. They did not tell her that they had decided to work no more, but she saw clearly that they were on the point of such decision. The breakfast she was serving comforted them and gave them some small measure of fresh strength, but it did not give them courage enough to overcome their weariness. The girl saw clearly that something more effective must be devised and done.

She puckered her forehead quizzically—after her manner when working out a problem in arithmetic. After a little the wrinkles passed away, and lifting her eyes for a moment from her frying pans, she called to Captain Hallam:

"Would you mind coming here a minute?" she asked.

The man of affairs responded, wearily, but promptly.

"What is it, Barbara?"

"May I spend two thousand dollars, if I get this job done by noon?—that's the last minute, Mr. Duncan tells me."

"But how can you——"

"Never mind how. May I have the two thousand dollars?"

"Yes—twenty thousand—any amount, if only we succeed in pushing that car on rails across the county line before the clock strikes twelve."

"Very well. I'll see what I can do. Mr. Duncan, can you cook griddle cakes?"

"Happily, yes," answered he. "I'm an old soldier, you know."

"Very well, then. Please come here and cook for a little while—just till I get back. I won't be long."

Duncan took command of her two frying pans. A little amused smile appeared on his face as he did so, in spite of his discouragement and melancholy. But to the common sense and sincerity of the girl, there seemed nothing ludicrous in setting him thus to the undignified work. Intent upon her scheme, she darted away to where the several gangs of men were still making some pretense of working. To each gang, she said:

"I've got two thousand dollars for you men, if you stick to your work and finish it before noon to-day. I'll divide the money equally among all the men who stick. It will be ten dollars apiece, or more. Of course, you'll get your triple wages besides. Will you keep it up? It's only for a few hours more."

Her tone was eager, and her manner almost piteously pleading. Without the persuasiveness of her personal appeal, it is doubtful that the men would have yielded to the temptation of the extra earning. Even with her influence added, more than a third of them—those who had already cast their tools aside and surrendered to exhaustion—refused to go on again with a task to which they felt themselves hopelessly unequal. But in every gang she addressed, there was a majority of men who braced themselves anew, and responded. The very last of the gangs to whom she made her appeal put their response into the form of a cheer, and instantly the other gangs echoed it.

"What on earth has that girl said or done to the men to fetch a cheer from them!" ejaculated Will Hallam.

"Reckon Little Missie's jest done bewitched 'em," responded Bob, as he poured batter into his pans.

A moment later Barbara, with a face that had not yet relaxed its look of intense earnestness, returned to the fire, and resumed her work over the frying pans.

"Thank you, Mr. Duncan," was all she said in recognition of his service as a maker of griddle cakes. But she added:

"The men will stick to work, now, I think—or most of them, at any rate. Perhaps you and Mr. Temple can do something to shorten it—to lessen the amount."

Then, turning to Bob, she issued her orders:

"Bring the hog, Bob, as quickly as you can. There's barely time to roast it, before noon."

The men had nearly all had their breakfasts now, so that the making of griddle cakes had about ceased. Hallam, Duncan, and the young engineer, Temple, taking new courage from Barbara's report concerning the disposition of the men, were going about among the gangs, wading knee deep in water and mud, and giving such directions as were needed.

Duncan, especially, was rendering service. As an old soldier, who had had varied experience in the hurried construction of earthworks under difficulties, he was able in many ways to hasten the present work. One thing he hit upon which went far to make success possible. That end of the crib which reached and crossed the county line offered a cavernous space to be filled in. It was thickly surrounded by trees, and Duncan ordered all these felled, directing the chopping so that the trunks and branches should fall into the crib. Then setting men to chop off such of the branches as protruded above the proposed embankment level, and let them fall into the unoccupied spaces, he presently had that part of the crib loosely filled in with a tangled mass of timber and tree tops.

Gangs of men were meanwhile pushing cars along the temporary track, and dumping their loads of earth among the felled trees. Duncan, with a small gang, was extending these temporary tracks along the crib as fast as the earth dumped in provided a sufficient bed.

This work of filling was very slow, of course, and when Duncan's watch showed ten o'clock, he was well-nigh ready to despair. Under the strain of his anxiety he had forgotten to take any breakfast, and the prolonged exposure to water and rain had so far depressed his vitality that he now found a chill creeping over him. He hurried to Barbara's fire for some coffee and a few mouthfuls of greatly needed food. There for the first time he saw what Barbara's promised dinner was to be. The two separated halves of a dressed hog hung before and partly over the fire, roasting.

"Where on earth did you get that?" he asked in astonishment.

"Bob got it last night," she answered, "and dressed it himself."

"But where, and how?"

"I don't know yet. He laughs when I ask questions. I'm sorely afraid Bob stole the hog from some farmer. I sent him out with some money to buy whatever meat he could find, for I saw that the men must have substantial food. He came back about daylight, and told me he had a dressed hog 'out dar in de bushes.' He gave me back all the money I had given him, and, as I say, he simply laughs when I ask questions. I'll make him tell me all about it this afternoon. If he stole the hog, we can pay for it. And meanwhile the men shall have their dinner. How is the work getting on?"

"Rapidly—but not rapidly enough, I fear. I must hurry back now."

"I'll go with you," said the girl. "Bob can watch the roasting," for Bob had reappeared at the fire.

"But you can't go with me," replied Duncan. "The water's knee deep, and more, between here and the crib."

"It can't make me any wetter than I am now," replied the resolute girl, as she set off in Duncan's company.

At the crib she studied the situation critically. She knew nothing of engineering, of course, but she had an abundance of practical common sense, and in most of the affairs of this life, common sense goes a long way as a substitute for skill.

"What time is it now?" she asked, after she had watched the slow progress of the work long enough to estimate the prospect.

"Half past ten."

"Then we've only an hour and a half more. It isn't enough. You can never fill that hole in time."

"I'm afraid we can't. I'm afraid we've lost in the struggle."

"Oh, no, you mustn't feel that way. We simply must win this battle. If we can't do it in one way, we must find another."

Duncan made no answer. There seemed to him no answer to be made. The girl continued to look about her. After a while she asked:

"Is the end of the crib at the county line?"

"Yes—or rather the line lies a little way this side of the end of the crib."

Again she remained silent for a time, before saying:

"There are two big tree trunks lying longways there in the crib. They extend across the county line. Why can't you jack them up into place, and lay your rails along them, without filling the space, and without using any ties?"

For half a minute the young man did not answer. At last he exclaimed:

"That's an inspiration!"

Without pausing to say another word Duncan started at a run through the water till he reached the mud embankment. Then he ran along that to the point where Temple was superintending the earth-diggers.

"Quit this quick!" he cried, "and hurry the whole force to the crib. I see a way out. Order all the jack-screws brought, Dick, and come yourself in a hurry!"

The two great tree trunks were quickly cleared of their remaining branches by the axmen. Then Temple placed the jack-screws under them, and set to work to raise them into the desired position, so that they should lie parallel with each other, at the track level, with a space of about four and a half feet between their centers.

As the jack-screws slowly brought them into position, Will Hallam and Duncan, one at either end of the logs—directed men in the work of placing log supports under them.

At half past eleven Temple announced that the great tree trunks were in place. Instantly twenty axmen were set at work hewing a flat place for rails along the top of each log, while other men, as fast as the hewing advanced, laid and spiked down the iron rails.

At five minutes before noon, a gang of men, with shouts of enthusiastic triumph, seized upon the dumping car, which stood waiting, and pushed it across the line! As this last act in the drama began, Guilford Duncan seized Barbara by the elbows, kissed her in the presence of all, lifted her off her feet, and placed her in the moving car.

"You have saved the railroad!" he said with emotion in his voice, "and you shall be its first passenger."

* * * * *

It was ten days later when Barbara reached home again, after a wearisome journey through the flooded district, under the escort of Duncan and Captain Will Hallam, and with the assistance of Temple, at the head of a gang of his ready-witted miners.

That evening Duncan stood face to face with her in the little parlor. Without preface, he asked:

"Will you now say 'yes,' Barbara, to the question I asked you so long ago?"

"I suppose I must," she answered, "after—after what you did when you set me in the car that last day of the struggle."

THE END



Good Fiction Worth Reading.

A series of romances containing several of the old favorites in the field of historical fiction, replete with powerful romances of love and diplomacy that excel in thrilling and absorbing interest.

A COLONIAL FREE-LANCE. A story of American Colonial Times. By Chauncey C. Hotchkiss. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

A book that appeals to Americans as a vivid picture of Revolutionary scenes. The story is a strong one, a thrilling one. It causes the true American to flush with excitement, to devour chapter after chapter, until the eyes smart, and it fairly smokes with patriotism. The love story is a singularly charming idyl.

THE TOWER OF LONDON. A Historical Romance of the Times of Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

This romance of the "Tower of London" depicts the Tower as palace, prison and fortress, with many historical associations. The era is the middle of the sixteenth century.

The story is divided into two parts, one dealing with Lady Jane Grey, and the other with Mary Tudor as Queen, introducing other notable characters of the era. Throughout the story holds the interest of the reader in the midst of intrigue and conspiracy, extending considerably over a half a century.

IN DEFIANCE OF THE KING. A Romance of the American Revolution. By Chauncey C. Hotchkiss. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis, Price, $1.00.

Mr. Hotchkiss has etched in burning words a story of Yankee bravery, and true love that thrills from beginning to end, with the spirit of the Revolution. The heart beats quickly, and we feel ourselves taking a part in the exciting scenes described. His whole story is so absorbing that you will sit up far into the night to finish it. As a love romance it is charming.

GARTHOWEN. A story of a Welsh Homestead. By Allen Raine. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

"This is a little idyl of humble life and enduring love, laid bare before us, very real and pure, which in its telling shows us some strong points of Welsh character—the pride, the hasty temper, the quick dying out of wrath.... We call this a well-written story, interesting alike through its romance and its glimpses into another life than ours. A delightful and clever picture of Welsh village life. The result is excellent."—Detroit Free Press.

MIFANWY. The story of a Welsh Singer. By Allan Raine. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

"This is a love story, simple, tender and pretty as one would care to read. The action throughout is brisk and pleasing; the characters, it is apparent at once, are as true to life as though the author had known them all personally. Simple in all its situations, the story is worked up in that touching and quaint strain which never grows wearisome, no matter how often the lights and shadows of love are introduced. It rings true, and does not tax the imagination."—Boston Herald.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publishers, A. L. BURT COMPANY, 52-58 Duane St., New York.



Good Fiction Worth Reading.

A series of romances containing several of the old favorites in the field of historical fiction, replete with powerful romances of love and diplomacy that excel in thrilling and absorbing interest.

DARNLEY. A Romance of the times of Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey. By G. P. R. James. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

In point of publication, "Darnley" is that work by Mr. James which follows "Richelieu," and, if rumor can be credited, it was owing to the advice and insistence of our own Washington Irving that we are indebted primarily for the story, the young author questioning whether he could properly paint the difference in the characters of the two great cardinals. And it is not surprising that James should have hesitated; he had been eminently successful in giving to the world the portrait of Richelieu as a man, and by attempting a similar task with Wolsey as the theme, was much like tempting fortune. Irving insisted that "Darnley" came naturally in sequence, and this opinion being supported by Sir Walter Scott, the author set about the work.

As a historical romance "Darnley" is a book that can be taken up pleasurably again and again, for there is about it that subtle charm which those who are strangers to the works of G. P. R. James have claimed was only to be imparted by Dumas.

If there was nothing more about the work to attract especial attention, the account of the meeting of the kings on the historic "field of the cloth of gold" would entitle the story to the most favorable consideration of every reader.

There is really but little pure romance in this story, for the author has taken care to imagine love passages only between those whom history has credited with having entertained the tender passion one for another, and he succeeds in making such lovers as all the world must love.

CAPTAIN BRAND, OF THE SCHOONER CENTIPEDE. By Lieut. Henry A. Wise, U.S.N. (Harry Gringo). Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

The re-publication of this story will please those lovers of sea yarns who delight in so much of the salty flavor of the ocean as can come through the medium of a printed page, for never has a story of the sea and those "who go down in ships" been written by one more familiar with the scenes depicted.

The one book of this gifted author which is best remembered, and which will be read with pleasure for many years to come, is "Captain Brand," who, as the author states on his title page, was a "pirate of eminence in the West Indies." As a sea story pure and simple, "Captain Brand" has never been excelled, and as a story of piratical life, told without the usual embellishments of blood and thunder, it has no equal.

NICK OF THE WOODS. A story of the Early Settlers of Kentucky. By Robert Montgomery Bird. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

This most popular novel and thrilling story of early frontier life in Kentucky was originally published in the year 1837. The novel, long out of print, had in its day a phenomenal sale, for its realistic presentation of Indian and frontier life in the early days of settlement in the South, narrated in the tale with all the art of a practiced writer. A very charming love romance runs through the story. This new and tasteful edition of "Nick of the Woods" will be certain to make many new admirers for this enchanting story from Dr. Bird's clever and versatile pen.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publishers, A. L. BURT COMPANY, 52-58 Duane St., New York.



Good Fiction Worth Reading.

A series of romances containing several of the old favorites in the field of historical fiction, replete with powerful romances of love and diplomacy that excel in thrilling and absorbing interest.

GUY FAWKES. A Romance of the Gunpowder Treason. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

The "Gunpowder Plot" was a modest attempt to blow up Parliament, the King and his Counsellors. James of Scotland, then King of England, was weak-minded and extravagant. He hit upon the efficient scheme of extorting money from the people by imposing taxes on the Catholics. In their natural resentment to this extortion, a handful of bold spirits concluded to overthrow the government. Finally the plotters were arrested, and the King put to torture Guy Fawkes and the other prisoners with royal vigor. A very intense love story runs through the entire romance.

THE SPIRIT OF THE BORDER. A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley. By Zane Grey. Cloth. 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

A book rather out of the ordinary is this "Spirit of the Border." The main thread of the story has to do with the work of the Moravian missionaries in the Ohio Valley. Incidentally the reader is given details of the frontier life of those hardy pioneers who broke the wilderness for the planting of this great nation. Chief among these, as a matter of course, is Lewis Wetzel, one of the most peculiar, and at the same time the most admirable of all the brave men who spent their lives battling with the savage foe, that others might dwell in comparative security.

Details of the establishment and destruction of the Moravian "Village of Peace" are given at some length, and with minute description. The efforts to Christianize the Indians are described as they never have been before, and the author has depicted the characters of the leaders of the several Indian tribes with great care, which of itself will be of interest to the student.

By no means least among the charms of the story are the vivid word-pictures of the thrilling adventures, and the intense paintings of the beauties of nature, as seen in the almost unbroken forests.

It is the spirit of the frontier which is described, and one can by it, perhaps, the better understand why men, and women, too, willingly braved every privation and danger that the westward progress of the star of empire might be the more certain and rapid. A love story, simple and tender, runs through the book.

RICHELIEU. A tale of France in the reign of King Louis XIII. By G. P. R. James. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

In 1829 Mr. James published his first romance, "Richelieu," and was recognized at once as one of the masters of the craft.

In this book he laid the story during those later days of the great cardinal's life, when his power was beginning to wane, but while it was yet sufficiently strong to permit now and then of volcanic outbursts which overwhelmed foes and carried friends to the topmost wave of prosperity. One of the most striking portions of the story is that of Cinq Mar's conspiracy; the method of conducting criminal cases, and the political trickery resorted to by royal favorites, affording a better insight into the statecraft of that day than can be had even by an exhaustive study of history. It is a powerful romance of love and diplomacy, and in point of thrilling and absorbing interest has never been excelled.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publishers, A. L. BURT COMPANY, 52-58 Duane St., New York.



Good Fiction Worth Reading.

A series of romances containing several of the old favorites in the field of historical fiction, replete with powerful romances of love and diplomacy that excel in thrilling and absorbing interest.

WINDSOR CASTLE. A Historical Romance of the Reign of Henry VIII., Catharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

"Windsor Castle" is the story of Henry VIII., Catharine, and Anne Boleyn. "Bluff King Hal," although a well-loved monarch, was none too good a one in many ways. Of all his selfishness and unwarrantable acts, none was more discreditable than his divorce from Catharine, and his marriage to the beautiful Anne Boleyn. The King's love was as brief as it was vehement. Jane Seymour, waiting maid on the Queen, attracted him, and Anne Boleyn was forced to the block to make room for her successor. This romance is one of extreme interest to all readers.

HORSESHOE ROBINSON. A tale of the Tory Ascendency in South Carolina in 1780. By John P. Kennedy. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

Among the old favorites in the field of what is known as historical fiction, there are none which appeal to a larger number of Americans than Horseshoe Robinson, and this because it is the only story which depicts with fidelity to the facts the heroic efforts of the colonists in South Carolina to defend their homes against the brutal oppression of the British under such leaders as Cornwallis and Tarleton.

The reader is charmed with the story of love which forms the thread of the tale, and then impressed with the wealth of detail concerning those times. The picture of the manifold sufferings of the people, is never overdrawn, but painted faithfully and honestly by one who spared neither time nor labor in his efforts to present in this charming love story all that price in blood and tears which the Carolinians paid as their share in the winning of the republic.

Take it all in all, "Horseshoe Robinson" is a work which should be found on every book-shelf, not only because it is a most entertaining story, but because of the wealth of valuable information concerning the colonists which it contains. That it has been brought out once more, well illustrated, is something which will give pleasure to thousands who have long desired an opportunity to read the story again, and to the many who have tried vainly in these latter days to procure a copy that they might read it for the first time.

THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND. A story of the Coast of Maine. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. Cloth, 12mo. Illustrated. Price, $1.00.

Written prior to 1862, the "Pearl of Orr's Island" is ever new; a book filled with delicate fancies, such as seemingly array themselves anew each time one reads them. One sees the "sea like an unbroken mirror all around the pine-girt, lonely shores of Orr's Island," and straightway comes "the heavy, hollow moan of the surf on the beach, like the wild angry howl of some savage animal."

Who can read of the beginning of that sweet life, named Mara, which came into this world under the very shadow of the Death angel's wings, without having an intense desire to know how the premature bud blossomed? Again and again one lingers over the descriptions of the character of that baby boy Moses, who came through the tempest, amid the angry billows, pillowed on his dead mother's breast.

There is no more faithful portrayal of New England life than that which Mrs. Stowe gives in "The Pearl of Orr's Island."

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publishers, A. L. BURT COMPANY, 52-58 Duane St., New York.



*********************************************************************** * Transcriber's Note: Dialect, and unusual and alternative spellings * * have been retained as they appear in the original. * ***********************************************************************

THE END

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