“When the train had coupled up again, they pulled on up to the next station, where the conductor reported the cause of delay, and from which station the account of the attempted robbery had been wired.
“I put the paper down and walked over to a window that overlooked the yards. The second section of the White Mail was coming in. As the engine rolled past, Yank looked up; and there was a devilish grin on his black face. The fireman was sitting on the fireman’s seat, the gun across his lap. A young fellow, wearing a long black coat, a bell-rope, and a scared look, was sweeping up the deck.
“When I returned to my desk, the Superintendent of Motive Power was standing near it. When I sat down, he spread a paper before me. I glanced at it and recognized Yank Hubbard’s appointment to the post of master-mechanic at Effingham.
“I dipped a pen in the ink-well and wrote across it in red, ‘O—K.’”
“Is this the President’s office?”
“Can I see the President?”
“Yes,—I’m the President.”
The visitor placed one big boot in a chair, hung his soft hat on his knee, dropped his elbow on the hat, let his chin fall in the hollow of his hand, and waited.
The President of the Santa Fe, leaning over a flat-topped table, wrote leisurely. When he had finished, he turned a kindly face to the visitor and asked what could be done.
“My name’s Jones.”
“I presume you know about me,—Buffalo Jones, of Garden City.”
“Well,” began the President, “I know a lot of Joneses, but where is Garden City?”
“Down the road a piece, ’bout half-way between Wakefield and Turner’s Tank. I want you folks to put in a switch there,—that’s what I’ve come about. I’d like to have it in this week.”
“Anybody living at Garden City?”
“Yes, all that’s there’s livin’.”
“About how many?”
“One and a half when I’m away,—Swede and Injin.”
The President of the Santa Fe smiled and rolled his lead pencil between the palms of his hands. Mr. Jones watched him and pitied him, as one watches and pities a child who is fooling with firearms. “He don’t know I’m loaded,” thought Jones.
“Well,” said the President, “when you get your town started so that there will be some prospect of getting a little business, we shall be only too glad to put in a spur for you.”
Jones had been looking out through an open window, watching the law-makers of Kansas going up the wide steps of the State House. The fellows from the farm climbed, the town fellows ran up the steps.
“Spur!” said Jones, wheeling around from the window and walking toward the President’s desk, “I don’t want no spur; I want a side track that’ll hold fifty cars, and I want it this week,—see?”