“As I told you yesterday—that is one of the things for which I draw my salary. Don’t mistake me; there is nothing heroic about it—the heroics are due to come to-night. That is another thing, Eleanor—another reason why I want you to go away. When the real pinch comes, I shall probably disgrace myself and everybody remotely connected with me. I’d a good bit rather be torn into little pieces, privately, than have you here to be made ashamed—again.”
She turned away.
“Tell me, in so many words, what you think will be done to-night—what are you expecting?”
“I told you a few moments ago, in the words of the Prayer Book: battle, and murder, and sudden death. A strike has been planned, and it will fail. Five minutes after the first strike-abandoned train arrives, the town will go mad.”
She had come close to him again.
“Mother won’t go and leave father; that is settled. You must do the best you can, with us for a handicap. What will you do with us, Howard?”
“I have been thinking about that. The farther you can get away from the shops and the yard, which will be the storm-centre, the safer you will be. I can have the Nadia set out on the Copperette switch, which is a good half-mile below the town, with Van Lew and Jefferis to stand guard——”
“They will both be here, with you,” she interrupted.
“Then the alternative is to place the car as near as possible to this building, which will be defended. If there is a riot, you can all come up here and be out of the way of chance pistol-shots, at least.”
“Ugh!” she shivered. “Is this really civilized America?”
“It’s America—without much of the civilization. Now, will you go and tell the others what to expect, and send Van Lew to me? I want to tell him just what to do and how to do it, while there is time and an undisturbed chance.”
THE BOSS MACHINIST
Miss Brewster evidently obeyed her instructions precisely, since Van Lew came almost immediately to tap on the door of the superintendent’s private room.
“Miss Eleanor said you wanted to see me,” he began, when Lidgerwood had admitted him; adding: “I was just about to chase out to see what had become of her.”
The frank confession of solicitude was not thrown away upon Lidgerwood, and it cost him an effort to put the athlete on a plane of brotherly equality as a comrade in arms. But he compassed it.
“Yes, I asked her to send you up,” he replied. Then: “I suppose you know what we are confronting, Mr. Van Lew?”
“Mrs. Brewster told us as soon as we came back from the hills. Is it likely to be serious?”
“Yes. I wish I could have persuaded Mrs. Brewster to order the Nadia out of it. But she has refused to go and leave Mr. Brewster behind.”