“He has been simply boring me to death, mamma, until just a few minutes ago. I shall tell Carolyn that she is too easily pleased.”
Mrs. Brewster, being well used to Eleanor’s flippancies, paid no attention to her daughter.
“You will come to us whenever you can, Howard; that is understood,” she said. And so the social matter rested.
Lidgerwood was half-way down the platform of the Crow’s Nest, heading for his office and the neglected desk, when Williams’s engine came backing through one of the yard tracks on its way to the roundhouse. At the moment of its passing, a little man with his cap pulled over his eyes dropped from the gangway step and lounged across to the head-quarters building.
It was Judson; and having seen him last toiling away man-fashion at the wreck in the Crosswater Hills, Lidgerwood hailed him.
“Hello, Judson! How did you get here? I thought you were doing a turn with McCloskey.”
The small man’s grin was ferocious.
“I was, but Mac said he didn’t have any further use for me—said I was too much of a runt to be liftin’ and pullin’ along with growed-up men. I came down with Williams on the ’66.”
Lidgerwood turned away. He remembered his reluctant consent to McCloskey’s proposal touching the espial upon Hallock, and was sorry he had given it. It was too late to recall it now; but neither by word nor look did the superintendent intimate to the discharged engineer that he knew why McCloskey had sent him back to Angels on the engine of the president’s special.
Lidgerwood was not making the conventional excuse when he gave the deskful of work as a reason for not accepting the invitation to dine with the president’s party in the Nadia. Being the practical as well as the nominal head of the Red Butte line, and the only official with complete authority west of Copah, his daily mail was always heavy, and during his frequent absences the accumulations stored up work for every spare hour he could devote to it.
It was this increasing clerical burden which had led him to ask the general manager for a stenographer, and during one of the later absences the young man had come—a rapid, capable young fellow with the gift of knowing how to make himself indispensable to a superior, coupled with the ability to take care of much of the routine correspondence without specific instructions, and with a disposition to be loyal to his salt.
Climbing the stair to his office on the second floor of the Crow’s Nest after the brief exchange of question and answer with Judson, Lidgerwood found his new helper hard at work grinding through the day’s train mail.
“Don’t scamp your meals, Grady,” was his greeting to the stenographer, as he opened his own desk. “This is a pretty busy shop, but it is well to remember that there is always another day coming, and if there isn’t, it won’t make any difference how much or how little is left undone.”