The express messenger had received a signal from Mr. Carter, and now said:
“I tell you what it is, Mr. Bulson; I can’t help you out. The matter is entirely out of my hands. Just before you came in the conductor levied on all my goods in transit and claimed the right to seize your case of milk for the benefit of the passengers. You’ll have to send in your claim to our company, and it will get the value of the milk from the railroad people for you. That’s all there is to it.”
“What?” roared Mr. Bulson, aghast at these words.
“You heard me,” responded the expressman, handing Mr. Carter a hammer and nail puller.
The conductor kneeled down and proceeded to open the box. The fat man would have torn his hair only he was bald and there was none he could spare.
“Get away from that box! get away!” he commanded, fairly dancing about the car. “Do you know what I’ll do? I’ll sue the company.”
“All right. Begin suit at once,” growled Mr. Carter. “Get out an injunction right away. Don’t fret; you’ll get your share of the milk with the rest of us.”
“Why, it’s all mine,” croaked the fat man, hoarse with wrath. “I’ll show you—”
“Go ’way,” ordered a burly brakeman, pushing him aside, and stooping to help pull off the cover of the box. “You ought to be taken out and dumped in the snow, mister. It would cool you off.”
“Come, Bess!” urged Nan, anxiously. “Let’s go away. We’ll get the milk for the puppy afterward. I’m afraid there will be trouble.”
“I wish they would throw that mean old Bulson into the snow. He deserves it,” Bess returned bitterly.
“Do let’s go away,” Nan said again, as the men’s voices became louder.
“Oh, dear me! you never will let me have any fun,” declared Bess, her eyes sparkling.
“Do you call a public brawl, fun?” demanded Nan, as they opened the door of the car.
At that moment, just as the two girls with the squirming, shivering puppy, were about to step out upon the platform between the baggage cars, they were startled by a muffled shout from overhead.
“Oh! what’s that?” gasped Bess.
Both she and Nan looked up. Lumps of snow from the roof of the tunnel began to fall. Then came a louder shout and a pair of booted legs burst through the roof.
“Goodness—gracious—me!” cried Nan. “Here comes—”
“An angelic visitor!” squealed Bess.
With another shout of alarm, a snow-covered figure plunged to the platform. The cowhide boots landed first, so the man remained upright. He carried a can in each hand, and all around the covers was frozen milk, betraying at once the nature of his load.
He was a slim, wiry man, in a ragged greatcoat, a cap pulled over his ears, sparkling, little, light-blue eyes of phenomenal shrewdness, and a sparse, strawcolor chin-whisker.
“Wall, I vow to Maria!” gasped the newcomer. “What’s this I’ve dropped into?”