The shout startled her. Looking out she saw a group of passengers grinning, and Yerkes running hard for the car, holding something in his hand, and pursued by a man in a slouch hat, who seemed to be swearing. Yerkes dashed into the car, deposited his booty in the kitchen, and standing in the doorway faced the enemy. A terrific babel arose.
Elizabeth appeared in the passage and demanded to know what had happened.
“All right, my lady,” said Yerkes, mopping his forehead. “I’ve only been and milked his cow. No saying where I’d have got any milk this side of Winnipeg if I hadn’t.”
“But, Yerkes, he doesn’t seem to like it.”
“Oh, that’s all right, my lady.”
But the settler was now on the steps of the car gesticulating and scolding, in what Elizabeth guessed to be a Scandinavian tongue. He was indeed a gigantic Swede, furiously angry, and Elizabeth had thoughts of bearding him herself and restoring the milk, when some mysterious transaction involving coin passed suddenly between the two men. The Swede stopped short in the midst of a sentence, pocketed something, and made off sulkily for the log hut. Yerkes, with a smile, and a wink to the bystanders, retired triumphant on his prey.
Elizabeth, standing at the door of the kitchen, inquired if supplies were likely to run short.
“Not in this car,” said Yerkes, with emphasis. “What they’ll do”—a jerk of his thumb towards the rest of the train in front—“can’t say.”
“Of course we shall have to give them food!” cried Lady Merton, delighted at the thought of getting rid of some of their superfluities.
Yerkes showed a stolid face.
“The C.P.R.’ll have to feed ’em—must. That’s the regulation. Accident—free meals. That hasn’t nothing to do with me. They don’t come poaching on my ground. I say, look out! Do yer call that bacon, or buffaler steaks?”
And Yerkes rushed upon his subordinate, Bettany, who was cutting the breakfast bacon with undue thickness, and took the thing in hand himself. The crushed Bettany, who was never allowed to finish anything, disappeared hastily in order to answer the electric bell which was ringing madly from Philip Gaddesden’s berth.
“Conductor!” cried a voice from the inner platform outside the dining-room and next the train.
“And what might you be wanting, sir?” said Bettany jauntily, opening the door to the visitor. Bettany was a small man, with thin harrassed features and a fragment of beard, glib of speech towards everybody but Yerkes.
“Your conductor got some milk, I think, from that cabin.”
“He did—but only enough for ourselves. Sorry we can’t oblige you.”
“All the same, I am going to beg some of it. May I speak to the gentleman?”
“Mr. Gaddesden, sir, is dressing. The steward will attend to you.”
And Bettany retired ceremoniously in favour of Yerkes, who hearing voices had come out of his den.