“They found you so well prepared here,” suggested President Newnham, “that the rascals have an idea that the construction camp is also well guarded. I imagine we’ve heard the last of the opposition.”
“Then you’re going to be fooled, sir,” Tom answered, very decisively. “For my part, I believe that the tactics of the gloom department of the W.C. & A. have just been commenced. Fighting men of a sort are to be had cheap in these mountains, and the W.C. & A. railroad is playing a game that it’s worth millions to win. They’re resolved that we shan’t win. And I, Mr. Newnham, am determined that we shall win!”
SHERIFF GREASE DROPS DAVE
Tom’s prediction came swiftly true in a score of ways.
The gloom department of the W.C. & A. immediately busied itself with the public.
The “gloom department” is a comparatively new institution in some kinds of high finance circles. Its mission is to throw gloom over the undertakings of a rival concern. At the same time, through such matter as it can manage to have printed in some sorts of newspapers the gloom department seeks to turn the public against its business rivals.
That same day news was flashed all over the country that a party of railway engineers, led by a mad deputy sheriff had wantonly fired on a party of travelers who had had the misfortune to get upon the building railway’s right of way.
In many parts of Colorado a genuine indignation was aroused against the S.B. & L. President Newnham sought to correct the wrong impression, but even his carefully thought out statements were misconstrued.
The W.C. & A., though owned mainly abroad, had some clever American politicians of the worst sort in its service. Many of these men were influential to some extent in Colorado.
The sheriff of the county was approached and inflamed by some of these politicians, with the result that the sheriff hastened to the field camp, where he publicly dismissed Dave Fulsbee from his force of deputies. The sheriff solemnly closed his fiery speech by demanding Dave’s official badge.
“That’s funny, but don’t mind, Dave,” laughed Tom, as he witnessed the handing over of the badge. “You won’t be out of work.”
“Won’t be out of work, eh?” demanded Sheriff Grease hotly. “Just let him wait and see. There isn’t a man in the county who wants Dave Fulsbee about now.”
“Then what a disappointed crowd they’re going to be,” remarked Tom pleasantly, “for Mr. Newnham is going to make Dave chief of detectives for the company, at a salary of something like six thousand a year.
“He is, oh?” gulped down Sheriff Grease. “I’ll bet he won’t. I’ll protest against that, right from the start.”
“Dave will be our chief of detectives, if you protest all night and some more in the morning,” returned Tom Reade. “And Dave, I reckon, is going to need a force of at least forty men under him. Dave will be rather important in the county, won’t he, sheriff, if he has forty men under him who feel a good deal like voting the way that Dave believes? A forty-man boss is quite a little figure in politics, isn’t he, sheriff?”