Bart ran on, with a last glance at the lone distant figure. He could not afford to wait to see if the Tollivers joined it. Every minute was precious.
“Where is the horse?” exclaimed Bart.
Dobbin had “got up.” While Bart was surveying the landscape, the old animal had plodded on, and was now out of sight.
Bart ran along the road. It turned between two walls of slate. Then came the open again. Here the road descended somewhat. The horse stood at a halt. He had run easily a few rods, one wheel had struck a deep rut, and the wagon had broken down. It lay tilted over on one side, one wheel completely caved in.
Bart was dismayed. He reflected for a moment, and then followed the road ahead for about a hundred feet.
It turned through some slate heaps, lined the side of a deep excavation, and came to an abrupt end where some boards, placed crosswise, barred the sheer descent.
Just such a valley spread out beyond the barrier as on the other edge of the hill whence Bart had seen the man he believed to be Lem Wacker.
Here, however, the landscape was barren in the extreme. There was not a house visible.
Bart was in a dilemma, but he decided how he would act. He first ran back to the spot whence he had last viewed the break in the woods.
A glance stirred him up to prompt and decisive action.
Three men were now in view. They were running at their top bent of speed up the road he had taken.
“Lem Wacker and the Tollivers, sure!” murmured Bart. “They know the wagon is up here somewhere, and they will be here in less than half an hour.”
Bart’s one idea now was to locate some pit or cranny where he could stow the trunk where it could not be readily found.
This done, he would start on foot in the direction of Clyde Station to get assistance and return before his enemies discovered it.
There were all kinds of holes and heaps around him, but too open and public to his way of thinking. Exploring, he came to the board barrier again, climbed over it, and more critically than before scanned the fifty-foot descent, and what lay at the bottom.
“Why!” said Bart, in some astonishment, “there’s a railroad track—”
He leaned over, and scrutinizingly ran his eye along the dull brown stretch of raised rails.
“And a hand car!” shouted the young express agent joyfully.
A LIMB OF THE LAW
The single track which Bart had discovered lined the bottom of the hill, followed it for a distance, and then running across the valley disappeared in among other hills and the timber.
It was a rickety concern, was unballasted, and looked as if, loosely thrown together, it had never filled its original mission and had been practically abandoned.
“I don’t know of any branch of the B. & M. hereabouts,” ruminated the young express agent—“certainly none corresponding to this is on the map. It is not in regular use, but that hand car looks as if it was doing service right along.”