One wire was addressed to Dave, the other to the conductor. Dave read:
Am instructing conductor to put you on siding and place train crew under your orders to reload.
Beneath was the signature of the superintendent.
The conductor flushed purple as he read the orders sent by his superior.
“Well,” he stormed at Dave. “What do you want? Spit it out!”
“Run me on the siding. I’m gonna take the calves out of the cars and tie ’em on the feed-racks above.”
“How’re you goin’ to get ’em up?”
“If you think I’ll turn my crew into freight elevators because some fool cattleman didn’t know how to load right—”
“Maybe you’ve got a kick comin’. I’ll not say you haven’t. But this is an emergency. I’m willin’ to pay good money for the time they help me.” Dave made no reference to the telegram in his hand. He was giving the conductor a chance to save his face.
“Oh, well, that’s different. I’ll put it up to the boys.”
Three hours later the wheels were once more moving eastward. Dave had had the calves roped down to the feed-racks above the cars.
THE NIGHT CLERK GETS BUSY PRONTO
The stars were out long before Dave’s train drew into the suburbs of Denver. It crawled interminably through squalid residence sections, warehouses, and small manufactories, coming to a halt at last in a wilderness of tracks on the border of a small, narrow stream flowing sluggishly between wide banks cut in the clay.
Dave swung down from the caboose and looked round in the dim light for the stockyards engine that was to pick up his cars and run them to the unloading pens. He moved forward through the mud, searching the semi-darkness for the switch engine. It was nowhere to be seen.
He returned to the caboose. The conductor and brakemen were just leaving.
“My engine’s not here. Some one must ‘a’ slipped up on his job, looks like. Where are the stockyards?” Sanders asked.
The conductor was a small, middle-aged man who made it his business to get along with everybody he could. He had distinctly refused to pick up his predecessor’s quarrel with Dave. Now he stopped and scratched his head.
“Too bad. Can’t you go uptown and ’phone out to the stockyards? Or if you want to take a street-car out there you’ll have time to hop one at Stout Street. Last one goes about midnight.”
In those days the telephone was not a universal necessity. Dave had never used one and did not know how to get his connection. He spent several minutes ringing up, shouting at the operator, and trying to understand what she told him. He did not shout at the girl because he was annoyed. His idea was that he would have to speak loud to have his voice carry. At last he gave up, hot and perspiring from the mental exertion.