“—with you,” he said. “But I still do not see what I can do, however much I may wish to serve you.”
“Can’t you go to him and insist that he—or tell him what I really feel toward him—or anything, in fact, to shame him? I really can’t go on acting longer.”
That reached the limit of my endurance, and I crawled from my burrow, intending to get out from under that platform, whether I was caught or not. I know it was a foolish move; after having heard what I had, a little more or less was quite immaterial. But I entirely forgot my danger, in the sting of what Madge had said, and my one thought was to stand face to face with her long enough to—I’m sure I don’t know what I intended to say.
Just as I reached the plank, however, I heard Lord Ralles ask—
“It’s me,” said a voice,—“the station agent.” Then I heard a door close. Some one walked out to the centre of the platform and remarked—
“That ’ere way freight is late.”
At least the letters were recovered.
THE SURRENDER OF THE LETTERS
If the letters were safe, that was a good deal more than I was. The moment the station-master had made his agreed-upon announcement, he said to the walkers—
“Had any news of Mr. Gordon?”
“No,” replied Lord Ralles. “And, as the lights keep moving in the town, they must still be hunting for him.”
“I reckon they’ll do considerable more huntin’ before they find him up there,” chuckled the man, with a self-important manner. “He’s hidden away under this ere platform.”
“Not right here?” I heard Madge cry, but I had too much to do to take in what followed. I was lying close to the loose plank, and even before the station-master had completed his sentence I was squirming through the crack. As I freed my legs I heard two shots, which I knew was the signal given by the cowboys, followed by a shriek of fright from Madge, for which she was hardly to be blamed. I was on my feet in an instant and ran down the tracks at my best speed. It wasn’t with much hope of escape, for once out from under the planking I found, what I had not before realized, that day was dawning, and already outlines at a distance could be seen. However, I was bound to do my best, and I did it.
Before I had run a hundred feet I could hear pursuers, and a moment later a revolver cracked, ploughing up the dust in front of me. Another bullet followed, and, seeing that affairs were getting desperate, I dodged round the end of some cars, only to plump into a man running at full speed. The collision was so unexpected that we both fell, and before I could get on my feet one of my pursuers plumped down on top of me and I felt something cold on the back of my neck.
“Lie still, yer sneakin’ coyote of a road agent,” said the man, “or I’ll blow yer so full of lead that yer couldn’t float in Salt Lake.”