“I hope you’ll wait till my father comes,” begged Madge.
“Now go slow, Mr. Camp,” said the sheriff: “We mustn’t discomfort the lady if we can avoid it.”
“I believe you’re wasting time in order to help him escape,” snapped Camp.
“Nothin’ of the kind,” denied the sheriff.
“If you won’t do your duty, I’ll take the law into my own hands, and order the car searched,” sputtered Camp, so angry as hardly to be able to articulate.
“Look a here,” growled the sheriff, “who are yer sayin’ all this to anyway? If yer talkin’ to me, say so right off.”
“All I mean,” hastily said Camp, “is that it’s your duty, in your honorable position, to search this car.”
“I don’t need no instructing in my dooty as sheriff,” retorted the official. “But a bigger dooty is what is owin’ to the feminine sex. When a female is in question, a gentleman, Mr. Camp—yes, sir, a gentleman—is in dooty bound to be perlite.”
“Politeness be —— ——!” swore Camp.
“Git as angry as yer —— please,” roared the sheriff wrathfully, “but —— my soul to —— if any —— —— cuss has a right to use such —— —— talk in the presence of a lady!”
“LISTENERS NEVER HEAR ANYTHING GOOD”
Before I had ceased chuckling over the sheriff’s indignant declaration of the canons of etiquette, I heard Mr. Cullen’s voice demanding to know what the trouble was, and it was quickly explained to him that I had escaped. He at once gave them permission to search his car, and went in with the sheriff and the cowboys. Apparently Madge went in too, for in a moment I heard Camp say, in a low voice—
“Two of you fellows get down below the car and crawl in under the truck where you can’t be seen. Evidently that cuss isn’t here, but he’s likely to come by and by. If so, nab him if you can, and if you can’t, fire two shots. Mosely, are you heeled?”
“Do I chaw terbaccy?” asked Mosely, ironically, clearly insulted at the suggestion that he would travel without a gun.
“Then keep a sharp lookout, and listen to everything you hear, especially the whereabouts of some letters. If you can spot their lay, crawl out and get word to me at once. Now, under you go before they come out.”
I heard two men drop into the gravel close alongside of where I lay, and then crawl under the truck of 218. They weren’t a moment too soon, for the next instant I heard two or three people jump on to the platform, and Albert Cullen’s voice drawl, “Aw, by Jove, what’s the row?” Camp not enlightening them, Lord Ralles suggested that they get on the car to find out, and the three did so. A moment later the sheriff came to the door and told Camp that I was not to be found.
“I told yer this was the last place to look for the cuss, Mr. Camp,” he said. “We’ve just discomforted the lady for nothin’.”