“I hold those letters by virtue of an order—” Camp began.
“Give me those letters,” the captain interrupted.
“Do you intend a high-handed interference with the civil authorities?” Judge Wilson demanded.
“Come, come,” said the captain, sternly. “You have taken forcible possession of United States property. Any talk about civil authorities is rubbish, and you know it.”
“I will never—” cried Mr. Camp.
“Corporal Jackson, dismount a guard of six men,” rang the captain’s voice, interrupting him.
Evidently something in the voice or order convinced Mr. Camp, for the letters were hastily produced and given to Singer, who at once handed them to me. I turned with them to the Cullens, and, laughing, quoted, “‘All’s well that ends well.’”
But they didn’t seem to care a bit about the recovery of the letters, and only wanted to have a hand-shake all round over my escape. Even Lord Ralles said, “Glad we could be of a little service,” and didn’t refuse my thanks, though the deuce knows they were badly enough expressed, in my consciousness that I had done an ungentlemanly trick over those trousers of his, and that he had been above remembering it when I was in real danger. I’m ashamed enough to confess that when Miss Cullen held out her hand I made believe not to see it. I’m a bad hand at pretending, and I saw Madge color up at my act.
The captain finally called me off to consult about our proceedings. I felt no very strong love for Camp, Baldwin, or Wilson, but I didn’t see that a military arrest would accomplish anything, and after a little discussion it was decided to let them alone, as we could well afford to do, having won.
This matter decided, I said to the captain, “I’ll be obliged if you’ll put a guard round my car. And then, if you and your officers will come inside it, I have a—something in a bottle, recommended for removing alkali dust from the tonsils.”
“Very happy to test your prescription,” responded Singer, genially.
I started to go with him, but I couldn’t resist turning to Mr. Camp and his friends and saying—
“Gentlemen, the G.S. is a big affair, but it isn’t quite big enough to fight the U.S.”
A GLOOMY GOOD-BY
At that point my importance ceased. Apparently seeing that the game was up, Mr. Camp later in the morning asked Mr. Cullen to give him an interview, and when he was allowed to pass the sentry he came to the steps and suggested—
“Perhaps we can arrange a compromise between the Missouri Western and the Great Southern?”
“We can try,” Mr. Cullen assented. “Come into my car.” He made way for Mr. Camp, and was about to follow him, when Madge took hold of her father’s arm, and, making him stoop, whispered something to him.
“What kind of a place?” asked Mr. Cullen, laughing.