“Bully!” exclaimed the conductor. “That’s condensed milk in glass jars, I bet. A number-one product. I’ve seen it. Anything else eatable on your list?”
“Not a thing, Carter.”
“How far will twenty-four cans of condensed milk go among this gang of starving people?” growled a man in overalls and a greasy cap, whom the girls knew must be the engineer.
“You keep the fire up, Horace, so’s we can melt snow,” said the conductor, “and we can dilute the milk all right. It’s good stuff.”
“Fire!” exclaimed the engineer. “How do you expect my fireman to keep up a blaze under that boiler on the shag-end of nothing? I tell you the fire’s going out in less than an hour. She ain’t making a pound of steam right now.”
“Great Peter, Horace!” ejaculated Mr. Carter, “don’t say that. We have got to have fire!”
“Well, you show me how to keep one going,” said the engineer. “Unless you know some way of burning snow, I don’t see how you’re going to do it.”
“Take it from me, we must find a way to keep steam up in these cars,” said Mr. Carter. “We’ve shut off the last two cars. The smoker’s packed with passengers as tight as a can of sardines.”
“Oh! I wish he wouldn’t talk about things eatable,” groaned Bess, in Nan’s ear.
“Better put the women and the children in the Pullman,” suggested the baggage-man.
“Can’t. Their tickets don’t call for first-class accommodations,” said the conductor, stubbornly, “and none of them wants to pay the difference in tariff.”
“You’ve got your hands full, Carter,” said the express messenger. “How about the case of milk?” and he dragged a box into the middle of the floor.
“Say! you fellows let that case alone,” exclaimed an unpleasant voice. “That’s mine. You the conductor? I have been hunting all over for you.”
Nan and Bess had both turned, startled, when this speech began. It came from the fat man whom they had seen asleep in the smoking car. And, now that his face was revealed, the chums recognized Mr. Ravell Bulson, the man who had spoken so harshly of Nan’s father the day of the collision on Pendragon Hill.
“Say! this is the expressman, I guess,” pursued Mr. Bulson. “You’re the man I really want to see. You’ll see my name on that box—’R. Bulson, Owneyville, Illinois.’ That’s me. And I want to open that box and get something out of it.”
SI SNUBBINS DROPS IN
“Do let’s get out of here before he sees us,” whispered Nan to her chum.
“No, I won’t,” returned Bess, in the same tone. “I want to hear how it comes out.”
“Of course that horrid man won’t let them use the milk for the poor little children on the train. And, goodness, Bess! you’ve got his dog right in your arms this moment.”
“Well,” said the stubborn Bess, “if that fat man takes a jar of condensed milk out of that box for himself, I’ll make him give this poor little puppy some of it. Now you see if I don’t!”