INSIDE the freight-house, meanwhile, Allan had called the men together
and was giving them a little talk.

“I want you men to understand,” he said, “that you are in no sense
confined here. You’re free to go at any time. But if you do go, you
can’t come back. And I think all of you will understand the necessity
for that rule. We are keeping you here, at considerable expense to
ourselves, in order to protect you from interference by the strikers. We
are trying to see that you are well fed and comfortably lodged, and we
are giving you this board and lodging without charge. Of course, this
isn’t all pure philanthropy on our part. We are doing it because we
believe that it is only in this way we can keep you together. If we
permitted you to board and lodge out in the town, we would never know
when you were going to show up for your run. There would always be the
danger that you would be prevented from coming, either by force or
persuasion. It would be impossible for us to run the road in that way.
The only way we can run it is to know certainly that you will be on hand
when needed, and the only way we can be certain of that is to keep you
together. When the strike is ended, there will be no further need of
doing that, and a permanent place will be offered every one of you who
makes good. If there are any of you who aren’t willing to work for the
present under those conditions, now is the time to say so. If you want
to quit, you are free to do so.”

He looked around over the circle of faces, and waited a moment to see if
there was any response.

“That’s fair enough,” said one of the men at last. “I ain’t got no kick
comin’,” and he walked over toward his cot, and began to make
preparations to turn in. Two or three others followed his example, and
finally the whole group broke up quietly.

“And _that’s_ all right,” said Stanley, with a sigh of relief. “I’m glad
we got rid of that other duck. He meant trouble—an’ he means it yet. You
look out for him, Mr. West.”

“All right,” answered Allan, with a laugh. “I guess I can look out for

“You’ll need an eye in the back of your head t’ do it,” commented
Stanley. “He’s the style that hits from behind.”

“Well, I’ll keep my eyes open—and you keep yours open, too.”

“Trust me for that,” said the detective. “Good night, sir.”

“Good-night,” said Allan and stepped out into the darkness.

As his feet touched the platform outside the door he felt that it was
covered with sleet, and by the glint of a distant street lamp, he could
see that the sleet was still falling. He hesitated an instant, looking
up and down the street.

“Bad night for railroading,” he said to himself. “I guess I’d better see
how things are going,” and instead of descending the steps to the
street, he followed the platform around the building and started across
the tracks toward his office.

Jack Welsh, sitting under the platform where Reddy had left him, smoked
his pipe placidly and stared out across the maze of tracks which
separated him from the depot building across the yards. A sputtering arc
light hung before the station, revealing the groups of figures picking
their way carefully along the icy station platform. The rails gleamed
white with their coating of ice, and the storm of sleet fell
incessantly. Overhead Jack could hear the burdened wires creaking under
their load of ice. Occasionally the yard engine came slipping along,
vomiting sand on both rails in its effort to grip them, but freight was
light, and after awhile, its work ended for a time, it retired to the
lower yards, where it stood puffing on a siding. The east-bound flyer,
Number Two, was past due, but its failure to arrive caused Jack no
uneasiness, for he knew that it was impossible for any train to keep to
its schedule on such a night. Occasionally he heard overhead the tramp
of the guard going his rounds; far down the yards gleamed the red and
yellow lamps guarding the switches; a switchman’s lantern waved from
time to time. Jack, sitting cosily in his shelter, watched and
understood and revelled in all this; for your old railroad man—born and
bred amid these surroundings—finds his work grow more interesting, more
fascinating, from year to year, until any other employment seems pale
and savourless by comparison.

As Welsh sat there musing, a quick step sounded on the platform over his
head, and a lithe figure jumped to the ground and started across the
tracks toward the offices.

“O’ course he’d be goin’ back there instead o’ goin’ home,” Jack
muttered to himself. “Now, what’d I better do? Hello, what’s that?”

He had caught the sound of a stealthy step overhead, and an instant
later, a slim form leaped to the ground and sprang after Allan as swift
and noiseless as a panther.

There was a menace in that crouched figure which brought Jack out from
under the platform with a jerk. Staring with startled eyes, he fancied
he caught a gleam as of a knife-blade in the air and a warning cry
leaped involuntarily to his lips.

“Hey, Allan. Look out!” he shouted.

And Allan, starting sharp around at the cry, found himself face to face
with Hummel.

The latter, stopping short in his swift career by a mighty effort, stood
for an instant, his face convulsed, one hand behind him.

“Well, what is it?” Allan asked, sharply, surveying him with

“I—I wanted t’ see you,” answered Hummel, thickly. “I—I—”

“Well, go on,” said Allan, impatiently, as the latter stopped.

“I was hurryin’,” Hummel gasped. “I’m out o’ breath. I wants me job

“You can’t have it. Now get out of these yards. If I catch you here
again, I’ll have you run in.”

Hummel’s face flushed, and he made a convulsive movement forward, but
stopped, as he heard rapid steps drawing near.

“Why, was it you who shouted, Jack?” asked Allan, in surprise, as the
latter came running up. “What was the matter?”

“I seen this feller sneakin’ acrost the yards after you,” Jack
explained, apologetically, “an’ I thought he meant trouble. I didn’t
know he was a friend o’ yours.”

“I jest wanted t’ speak t’ him,” said Hummel, gruffly, and started to
turn away.

But Jack caught him by the arm.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “Let’s look into this. Is he a friend o’

“No,” Allan answered. “Quite the contrary. He’s a fellow I fired a while

“Oh,” said Jack, and looked at Hummel more closely. “What’re ye holdin’
one hand behind your back for?” he demanded. “Let’s see it!”

He grabbed at the hidden hand, but at the same instant Hummel, supple as
an eel, slipped from his grasp, ducked, and sped down the yards like a

Jack and Allan stood for an instant staring after him. Then the former,
with a sudden exclamation, raised his hand and looked at it. It was
covered with blood.

“I thought so!” he cried. “He had a knife! I saw it when he was runnin’
after you.”

“Are you hurt?” and Allan, snatching out his handkerchief, wiped away
the blood.

“Only a scratch. The knife got me when I grabbed at him. It’s nothin’.
You go ahead, an’ I’ll see if I can find him.”

Allan, examining the wound, saw that it was not a deep one.

“All right,” he said, wrapping his handkerchief about it. “I’ll wait for
you at the office.”

Jack nodded and hastened away down the yards in the direction Hummel had
taken. But search as he might, he found no trace of that worthy, who had
dived in among a lot of box cars stored on the sidings, and made good
his escape.

* * * * *

Allan, meanwhile, continued on to his office, and sat thoughtfully down
before his desk. The incident of the evening, his own narrow escape,
enlightened him as to the danger of the situation. Calm as it appeared
on the surface, it was perilous enough underneath, like a vast bed of
lava, apparently cool and firm, but ready, at any pin-prick, to burst
forth into white-hot flame. He shivered a little at thought of the days
to follow and the problems they would present.

But after a moment he shook such thoughts impatiently away. Time enough
to cross a bridge when he came to it. Now there were other matters
demanding his attention. For, as the night progressed, the load of sleet
burdened the wires more and more heavily, until some gave way and the
others sputtered and stuttered and sent operators and dispatchers alike
to the verge of frenzy.

Nothing disorganizes a railroad more quickly than impeded or inefficient
wires, for the reason that its operation depends wholly upon its
telegraph system. To interfere with that means inevitably to interfere
with traffic, to obstruct it is to obstruct traffic, and to stop it is
to stop traffic, or to compel it, at best, to creep painfully along from
station to station with one flagman walking in front of every train and
another following it a hundred yards in the rear. It may be added that
it was the telegraph which made modern railroading possible; and that it
becomes impossible at the moment when the dispatcher at headquarters
cannot, in some way, keep informed of the position of every train.

So to-night with the wires chattering unintelligible nonsense instead of
the usual crisp orders and reports, operators and dispatchers were at
their wits’ ends, traffic was delayed, the schedule abandoned and the
only hope was that some way, somehow, they would get through the night
without accident.

Allan stood for a moment at the door of the dispatchers’ office
listening to the crazy instruments.

“I’ve only got one wire left,” announced the dispatcher in charge of the
Parkersburg division, “and I might as well try to send a message over a
piece of clothes line as over it. I haven’t any idea where that extra
west is. It left Vigo half an hour ago, and hasn’t been seen since.”

“Where’s Number Two?” asked Allan.

“Number Two will be here in four or five minutes,” answered the other

“And that freight ought to have been here ten minutes ago!” wailed the
first speaker. “Oh, its enough to drive a man crazy,” and he went on
calling Schooley’s.

The east bound flyer could not, of course, be permitted to leave
Wadsworth until the west-bound freight had pulled in, or had been
definitely located. It was lost as completely as though it had wandered
away to the farthest corner of the globe.

Allan stood for a moment with a line of perplexity between his eyebrows.
Then he looked up with a sudden interest as he heard the faint
click-click, click-click which told that the operator at Schooley’s had
answered at last.

“How about extra west?” clicked the dispatcher.

“Passed here at 9.22,” came the answer.

Allan glanced at the clock. It was 9.47; in other words, the train had
passed Schooley’s twenty-five minutes previously, and Schooley’s was
only seven miles out. That seven miles should have been covered in
fifteen minutes at the outside. What, then, had happened to delay the

A long whistle in the distance told of the approach of the flyer, and a
minute later, it rumbled into the station and came wheezing to a stop.
The train would stop for five minutes to change engines. That it should
be held up longer than that by a freight train was heartrending. It was
over half an hour late already, and Allan had hoped that some of this
lost time might be made up on the run east to Parkersburg.

“There’s only one thing to be done,” he said, “and that’s to flag out
till we find that freight train,” and he hurried down the stairs to give
the necessary orders.

Already the new engine had been backed up and coupled onto the train.
Engineer and fireman were in their places, having been convoyed safely
across the yards by two of Stanley’s men, who remained in the cab to see
that they were not interfered with until the train should pull out.


At the foot of the stairs, Allan met the conductor, Andy Leaveland, one
of the oldest on the road. He was on his way up to register and get his
orders, when Allan stopped him.

“I’ve got the orders, Mr. Leaveland,” he said. “We’ll have to flag out.”

“_Flag_ out!” cried the veteran. “What’s the matter? Wires down?”

“There’s a freight lost somewhere between here and Schooley’s. We’ve got
to find it. You’d better start your brakeman out right away.”

“All right,” said Leaveland, and hurried away, while Allan walked
forward to the engine.

He explained the difficulty to the engineer, and a minute later, the
brakeman, armed with lantern, torpedoes and fusee, hurried past.
Leaveland gave him time to get two or three hundred yards ahead, and
then gave the signal to start.

The train crawled slowly out through the yards, past the shops and the
great coal chute, and finally emerged upon the main track. Far ahead,
Allan could see the brakeman’s lantern bobbing along. The ice on the
track rendered rapid walking impossible and more than once, the train
was brought to a stop to give the brakeman a chance to maintain his
distance. Back in the coaches, the passengers were fuming and fretting,
while the conductor was doing his best to pacify them.

“We’re going mighty slow,” he said. “Most roads would go faster. But
this road don’t take any chances. We won’t get you through on time, but
we’ll get you through safe and sound, without the slightest chance of
accident. I guess if we put it to a vote, most of you would vote for
safety rather than speed,” and he looked around at the passengers with a

“You bet we would,” assented one of the men, and there was less
grumbling after that.

And yet there are few things more trying to the nerves than to ride in a
train which may proceed no faster than a man can walk. An hour was
consumed in covering five miles, and not a trace of the missing freight
had been discovered. Another mile—and then Allan, staring forward
through the night, saw the brakeman’s lantern waving violently.

“He’s found something,” he said, and the engineer nodded.

The next moment, a fusee flared redly through the darkness, lighting up
the brakeman—and something on the track back of him—a dim shape—

“Why, it’s the train!” cried Allan. “And with its headlight out! And
with no brakeman out to protect it! I don’t understand it!” And he sat
with his brows knitted in thought as the train rolled slowly forward.

It stopped within thirty feet of the other train, and Allan swung
himself to the ground and ran forward.

“What’s happened?” he asked the brakeman, who came to meet him. “Where’s
the crew?”

“Blamed if I know,” answered the brakeman, in an awed voice. “There’s
the train, but nary a trace of her crew could I find. She’s deserted!”

DRIFTING along the ocean currents of the world are scores of abandoned,
water-logged ships, washed by the waves and buffeted by the winds, yet
still, by some miracle, keeping afloat. Every one of them tells of some
tragedy of the sea—of some supreme moment of peril, when, thinking the
end at hand, the crew has taken to the boats and left their ship to its
fate. And there is no peril of the deep more dreaded by mariners, for it
is one that can not be foreseen nor guarded against. Lying low in the
waves, heavy and water-logged, these hulks drift down upon a ship unseen
in the watches of the night; there is a crash, a rush of water—and
another tragedy has been enacted.

Another tragedy which, only a few short years ago, too frequently meant
the loss of the ship and every soul on board. How often has some stately
vessel, thronged with happy people, set sail from a crowded harbour over
a fair summer sea, upon a voyage seemingly certain to prove prosperous
and pleasant—never to be seen again! How agonized those first days of
uncertainty when the ship did not appear at the port for which it had
set sail. Days passed, and still no word from it; days and days, during
which hope changed to doubt and doubt to despair; days and days, until
finally men knew that it would never appear—that it had vanished into
the deep—that it had struck an iceberg or a derelict and sunk with all
on board.

But science, with its giant strides, has changed all that. The ship may
go down, but at least she can give warning of her danger. For in a
little cubby-hole on the upper deck, his hand upon his instrument, sits
the wireless operator, flashing to the four winds of heaven the “C. Q.
D., C. Q. D.,” which tells of deadly peril and the need of instant aid.
And every ship within a hundred miles, catching that signal, turns in
her tracks and speeds, full steam ahead, to render what aid she can.
Truly, a fearful and wonderful thing, this wireless, with its slender
filaments and lofty masts and bursts of ether-compelling flame, yoking
to man’s service something more impalpable than the air itself, binding
ocean to ocean around the whole face of the earth. An accident may
happen—that ship may go down—the derelict may do its deadly work—but at
least the world will know. And if there is any vessel within reaching
distance, the passengers will be saved! Ill-fated _Bourgogne_, slowly
settling beneath the icy waters off the Grand Banks, with aid just
beyond the horizon, but all unconscious of her desperate need; ill-fated
_Naronic_, lost with all on board, how or where for all time unsolved
and unsolvable; ill-fated _Republic_, sending forth her cry for aid
through the night and through the fog, lost, indeed, but with every
living soul saved uninjured—a new tale and a new wonder on history’s

* * * * *

But here was a derelict of a new kind—a derelict on land—no less deadly
than the derelict on sea; standing four-square in the way of traffic, a
threat and a mystery.

Some such thought as this ran through Allan’s mind, as he stood for an
instant staring in astonishment at the deserted train. Why was it here?
Why had it been abandoned? What stress of peril was it had compelled its
crew to leave it? What peril could there be to drive them not only from
the train, but from the neighbourhood? The question staggered the
reason. Above all, why had its headlight been extinguished? That seemed
to argue design—seemed to argue malicious intent—seemed to argue that
the missing crew were deserters, traitors—as much a traitor as the
soldier who deserts in the face of the enemy.

And then, as the steam popped off from the abandoned locomotive, he
awoke with a start to the necessity for instant action.

“We’ve got to get that train in on a siding,” he said to the brakeman.
“We’ll have to back up to Schooley’s. It’s only a mile. Ask Leaveland
and his engineer to come here right away.”

As the fireman hurried away, Allan ran forward and swung himself up into
the cab of the deserted engine. He glanced at the water gauge and saw
that there was plenty of water in the boiler, but he opened the door of
the fire-box as an extra precaution. Evidently the engine had been
abandoned only a short time before, for the fire was burning briskly. He
saw that the brakes had been applied and the throttle closed—

“What’s the matter?” asked Leaveland’s voice. “Is this the train?”

“Yes, this is the train, all right,” Allan answered, “but I don’t see
anything of the crew.”

“Well, I’ll be hanged!” and Leaveland scratched his head in perplexity.
“What do you suppose happened?”

“I don’t know. Let’s take a look at the caboose,” and jumping to the
ground, he started back along the train.

The door of the caboose was swinging open, and a glare of yellow light
came through it from the oil lamp, with polished tin reflector back of
it, which was attached to the front wall. Allan sprang up the steps,
with Leaveland after him, and both of them stopped in astonishment at
the open door. The caboose was empty, but two stools stood on the floor
before the stove, and between them a box on which was a checker-board
and checkers. Evidently the conductor and rear brakeman had been playing
together, but had been interrupted in their game and had left the board
just as it was, expecting to return to it. They had not returned,
however, but had vanished as completely as though the earth had opened
and swallowed them.

“Well, I’ll be hanged!” said Leaveland again. “There’s something mighty
queer about this. If I believed in ghosts, now—”

“No, I don’t think it’s ghosts,” laughed Allan. “But we can’t stop to
investigate. We’d better couple the two engines together, and let Number
Two push this train back to Schooley’s. You go ahead and have that done,
and I’ll stay here. I’ll burn a fusee if I want you to stop, but I don’t
think there’s any danger, because nothing will get past Schooley’s till
this train has been accounted for.”

“All right, sir,” assented Leaveland, and hurried back toward the

Allan, left to himself, made a careful inspection of the caboose, but
search as he might, he could find nothing that shed the slightest light
upon the disappearance of the train crew. It was evident that there had
been no struggle of any kind. He found the conductor’s report made up
ready to turn in at the end of the trip, and his lantern and dinner-pail
on the floor near the door. The more he examined the surroundings the
plainer it was that when the conductor and brakeman left the caboose,
they had expected to return to it in a minute or two. And that they had
left it only a short time before was evident from the fact that the fire
in their stove had just been renewed and was burning briskly.

He gave up the problem, at last, and getting a fusee out of the box
where they were kept, he stepped out upon the rear platform. As he did
so, he heard the cars of the train buckling toward him, and an instant
later the caboose caught the motion and started slowly up the track
toward Schooley’s. The mile was soon covered, and the train, coming to a
stop just outside the little town, was run in on a siding, while the
flyer proceeded on to the station. There Allan reported it, secured
orders for it, and sent it on its way. Then he proceeded to try to solve
the mystery of the abandoned freight train.

But there was little or nothing to be learned concerning it more than he
already knew. It had passed through Schooley’s without stopping, and the
operator there had observed nothing wrong with it. After half an hour’s
inquiry, Allan gave it up, ordered another crew sent out from Wadsworth,
and finally, after reporting the occurrence to Stanley, turned in at his
own gate about midnight, very tired and not a little worried.

As he entered the house, he was surprised to see a light burning in the
dining-room, and he opened the door softly and looked in. For a moment,
he saw no one, and thinking that the room was empty and that the light
had simply been left burning for him, he was about to turn it out, when
his eyes fell upon a figure curled up on the lounge which stood against
the wall under the windows.

“Why, it’s Mamie!” he said, half to himself, and took a step toward her.
“I wonder—”

And then he stopped suddenly, for, awakened by the noise of his entrance
or by the consciousness of his presence, she opened her eyes and looked
at him.

For a moment, she lay so, looking up, her lips parted in a smile. Then,
with a quick movement, she brushed her hand over her eyes and sat
upright, her cheeks crimson with a strange confusion.

“Why, Allan!” she cried. “Do you know, I—I must have been asleep!”

“Yes,” he agreed, laughing. “I don’t think there’s any doubt of it.
Since when have you taken to sleeping on this lounge?”

“I wasn’t at all sleepy to-night,” Mamie explained, “and I knew it
wasn’t any use to go to bed, so I thought I’d read awhile till I got
sleepy or till you—till you—”

“Or till I got home,” said Allan, finishing the sentence for her.
“Admit, Mamie, that you were sitting up for me!”

“Yes, I was!” confessed the girl, raising her eyes for one swift glance
at him. “Dad came home and told about that horrid man trying to kill
you, and I—I just couldn’t stand it to go to bed without seeing you.”

Allan took a quick turn up and down the room. That shy and timorous
glance had moved him strangely, as did the faltering words which
followed it.

“Suppose he had killed you!” she added, with a little gasp of horror at
the thought.

“But he didn’t,” said Allan, coming back to her. “So what’s the use of
supposing anything of the sort?”

“Dad says he’ll be sure to try it again. Dad says—”

“Dad says altogether too much,” broke in Allan. “Now, see here, Mamie,
I’m not going to have you worried like this. Wait till I see your

“Oh, but I want him to tell me! If you’re in danger, I want to know it!”

“But I’m not in any danger—as for that affair with Hummel, it happened
so long ago that I’d nearly forgotten it.”

“So long ago!” cried Mamie. “Why, it was only this evening!”

“Well, so much has happened since. Mamie, I’m worried to death,” he
added, with sudden weakness. “The queerest thing happened to-night you
ever heard of.”

“Tell me about it,” said Mamie, her face glowing with pleasure at this
call for sympathy and help; and she patted the lounge invitingly. I fear
there was some instinct of the coquette in Mamie, or she would not have
done that! Some true womanly instinct, too, or she would not have so
welcomed this chance to be of help.

Allan sat down, his pulses not wholly steady, and told of the strange
disappearance of the crew of the extra west, while Mamie listened

“Well, if that doesn’t beat anything I ever heard!” she cried, when he
had finished. “What do you suppose happened?”

“I haven’t any idea. Only I’m sure the strikers must have had something
to do with it. I’m going to take Stanley out to look the place over in
the morning. Maybe we’ll discover something. Stanley is pretty shrewd,
you know.”

“But if the strikers had something to do with it,” Mamie protested,
“maybe they will be there yet! And you will walk right into them!”

“Well?” laughed Allan. “What if I do? Indeed, I hope I will!”

“Oh, but think what they will do to you!”

“They won’t do anything very bad! We’re not living in the Middle Ages,
Mamie. I believe you think we’re going to find the bloody corpses of
that train crew out there in a ditch, somewhere!”

“But if they aren’t dead, where are they?”

“Kidnapped. The strikers are taking that method of getting our men away
from us.”

Mamie thought it over a minute, and then shook her head.

“Maybe you’re right,” she said, “but it seems to me that the strikers
would be pretty foolish to do anything like that. Suppose they do take a
crew, that won’t matter much, will it?”

“No; not one crew; but suppose they keep on taking them?”

Mamie stared at him with wide-open eyes.

“Do you mean that’s what you think they’ll do?” she questioned.

“I don’t know—it’s a thought that came to me. But it seems foolish, too.
Well, we’ll find out in the morning. And now you must be getting to bed.
How about the beauty sleep?”

“Beauty sleep, indeed!” cried Mamie, tossing her head. “I don’t need any
beauty sleep!”

“No, you don’t!” agreed Allan, gazing at the piquant face. “Do you know,
Mamie, you’re growing up into the prettiest girl imaginable!”

“Growing up!” echoed Mamie. “I’ve grown up! Why, I’m nearly seventeen!”

“A tremendous age!”

“Old enough to know you’re talking nonsense!” she retorted, but with the
colour coming and going in her cheeks.

“I’m not!” he protested. “It’s true! If I was younger, Mamie, I’d be
falling in love with you!”


“I’m twenty-seven.”

“A tremendous age!” she echoed, glancing up at him.

“Ten years older than you!”

“Pooh! What’s ten years?”

“Well, it’s a good deal,” said Allan, rising with an effort. “And I feel
considerably older than twenty-seven to-night—more like forty! You can
keep on sitting up, if you want to, but I’m going to bed. Good-night.”

Mamie had risen too, a strange light in her eyes. She watched him as he
turned away, and then, when his hand was on the knob of the door, she
called him.


“Yes?” he said, turning and looking at her.

The lamplight sent little mocking shadows across her face and brought
out the glint of gold in her hair. He held on to the door-knob to keep
from going back to her.

“Promise me you’ll not run into any danger,” she said, softly.

“Of course I won’t—not unless I have to.”

“Not even if you have to!”

“What—run away?” he demanded, staring at her in astonishment. “You
wouldn’t have me do that, Mamie?”

“No,” she said, “I wouldn’t have you do that! Good-night, Allan.”

“Good-night,” he repeated, and opened the door and went resolutely up
the stair to his room.

And Mamie, standing listening until the sound of his steps died away, at
last flung herself down upon the lounge and buried her face in her arms.
Her eyes were wet with tears—but they were tears of joy.