“Not do us any good?” echoed the other, aghast. “What nonsense are you talking, Reade? If we are hindered the feet of our having wired to the governor of the state will be our first proof of having appealed to the state for protection. Can’t you see that, Reade?”
The pair now turned in at the operator’s tent.
“Operator,” said Reade, to the young man seated before the keys on a table, “this gentleman man is President Newnham, of the S.B. & L. Send any messages that he dictates.”
“Get Denver on the wire,” commanded Mr. Newnham. “Hustle!”
Click-click-click! rattled the sounder.
“It won’t do a particle of good,” Tom uttered calmly. “’Gene Black, the engineer discharged from this camp, is serving the enemy. Black has brains enough to see that our wire was cut before he started a thing moving.”
Click-click-click! spoke the sounder again.
“I can’t get a thing,” explained the operator. “I can’t even get a response from the construction camp. Mr. Reade must be right—–our wire has been cut and we’re shut off from the outside world.”
THE REAL ATTACK BEGINS
Hearing the moving wheels of a wagon on the trail, Tom looked outside, then seized Mr. Newnham’s arm rather roughly.
“Come along, sir, and come quickly, if you want to see something that will beat a carload of telegrams,” urged the cub engineer.
Having gotten the president of the road outside, Tom let go of his arm and raced on before that astonished man from Broadway.
“Here, you fellows,” called Tom, almost gayly, as he ran to where engineers and chainmen men were standing in little groups, talking gloomily over the forenoon’s work. “Get in line, here—–a whole crowd of you!”
Dave Fulsbee was now riding briskly toward the centre of the camp, ahead of the wagon for which he had gone down the trail. Laughing quietly, Tom hustled group after group of young men into one long line.
“Hold up your right hands!” called out the young cub engineer.
Wondering, his subordinates obeyed. Fulsbee reined up, dismounting before the line.
“They’re all ready for you, friend,” called Tom gayly.
“Listen, boys!” commanded Dave Fulsbee, as he faced the line on foot. “You do each and all of you, singly and severally, hereby swear that you will serve truly and well as special deputy sheriffs, and obey all lawful orders, so help you God?”
Almost in complete silence the hands fell as their owners nodded. Both the engineers and rodmen felt a trifle dazed. Why was this solitary deputy sheriff before them, and with what did he expect them to fight! Were they to stand and throw rocks at an enemy armed with rifles?
But just then the wagon was driven in front of them.
“Hustle the cases out, boys! Get ’em open!” commanded Dave, though he spoke without excitement. “Forty rifles and ten thousand cartridges, all borrowed from the National Guard of the State. Get busy! If the coyotes down to the westward try to get busy around here we will talk back to them!”