“Oh, no, my friend,” said the cooler voice. “I haven’t been stealing in car-load lots from the company that hires me; I have merely been buying a little disused scrap from you. You may say that I have planned a few of the adverse happenings which have been running the loss-and-damage account of the road up into the pictures during the past few weeks—possibly I have; but you are the man who has been carrying out the plans, and you are the man the courts will recognize. But we’re wasting time sitting here jawing at each other like a pair of old women. It’s up to us to obliterate Lidgerwood; after which it will be up to you to get his job and cover up your tracks as you can. If he lives, he’ll dig; and if he digs, he’ll turn up things that neither of us can stand for. See how he hangs onto that building-and-loan ghost. He’ll tree somebody on that before he’s through, you mark my words! And it runs in my mind that the somebody will be you.”
“But this trap scheme of yours,” protested the other man; “it’s a frost, I tell you! You say the night passenger from Red Butte is late. I know it’s late, now; but Cranford’s running it, and it is all down-hill from Red Butte to the bridge. Cranford will make up his thirty minutes, and that will put his train right here in the thick of things. Call it off for to-night, Flemister. Meet Lidgerwood when he comes and tell him an easy lie about your not being able to hold Grofield for the right-of-way talk.”
Judson heard the creak and snap of a swing-chair suddenly righted, and the floor dust jarred through the cracks upon him when the mine-owner sprang to his feet.
“Call it off and let you drop out of it? Not by a thousand miles, my cautious friend! Want to stay here and keep your feet warm while I go and do it? Not on your tintype, you yapping hound! I’m about ready to freeze you, anyway, for the second time—mark that, will you?—for the second time. No, keep your hands where I can see ’em, or I’ll knife you right where you sit! You can bully and browbeat a lot of railroad buckies when you’re playing the boss act, but I know you! You come with me or I’ll give the whole snap away to Vice-President Ford. I’ll tell him how you built a street of houses in Red Butte out of company material and with company labor. I’ll prove to him that you’ve scrapped first one thing and then another—condemned them so you might sell them for your own pocket. I’ll——”
“Shut up!” shouted the other man hoarsely. And then, after a moment that Judson felt was crammed to the bursting point with murderous possibilities: “Get your tools and come on. We’ll see who’s got the yellows before we’re through with this!”
There are moments when the primal instincts assert themselves with a sort of blind ferocity, and to Judson, jammed under the floor timbers of Flemister’s head-quarters office, came one of these moments when he heard the two men in the room above moving to depart, and found himself caught between the timbers so that he could not retreat.