The big wheels had scarcely stopped revolving when the men began to get on. They had barely begun to turn again when the trolley dashed into Hillier. The sheriff leaped to the ground and came running for the engine. The wheels slipped; and each passing second brought the mighty hand of the law, now outstretched, still nearer to the tail of the tank. She was moving now, but the sheriff was doing better. Ten feet separated the pursued and the pursuer. She slipped again, and the sheriff caught the corner of the engine-tank. By this time the driver had got the sand running; and now, as the wheels held the rail, the big engine bounded forward, almost shaking the sheriff loose. With each turn of the wheels the speed was increasing. The sheriff held on; and in three or four seconds he was taking only about two steps between telegraph poles, and then—he let go.
While the locomotive and the trolley were racing across the country the Governor, who was engineering it all, invested another thousand. He ordered another engine, and when she backed onto the coach the deputy sheriff told the driver that he must not leave the station. The engineer held his torch high above his head, looked the deputy over, and then went on oiling his engine. In the meantime the Governor had stored his friends away in the dark coach, including the secretary with the company’s great seal. Now the deputy became uneasy.
He dared not leave the train to send a wire to his chief at Hillier, for the sheriff had said, “Keep your eye on the car.”
The despatcher, whose only interest in the matter was to run the trains and earn money for his employer, having given written and verbal orders to the engineer, watched his chance and, when the sheriff was pounding on the rear door, dodged in at the front, signalling with the bell-rope to the driver to go. Frantically now the deputy beat upon the rear door of the car, but the men within only laughed as the wheels rattled over the last switch and left the lights of Spokane far behind.
Away they went over a new and crooked track, the sand and cinders sucking in round the tail of the train to torment the luckless deputy. Away over hills and rills, past Hillier, where the sheriff still stood staring down the darkness after the vanishing engine; over switches and through the Seven Devils, while the unhappy deputy hung to the rear railing with one hand and crossed himself.
Each passing moment brought the racing train still nearer the border,—to that invisible line that marks the end of Yankeeland and the beginning of the British possessions. The sheriff knew this and beat loudly upon the car door with an iron gun. The Governor let the sash fall at the top of the door and spoke, or rather yelled, to the deputy.
To the Governor’s amazement, the sheriff pushed the bottle aside. Dry and dusty as he was, he would not drink. He was too mad to swallow. He poked his head into the dark coach and ordered the whole party to surrender.