As he finished speaking, the man to whom he referred said something to his companion beside him. There came a momentary lull in the noises of the depot, and the boys heard him remark in low, but clear tones:
“We can make everything look regular. Derelicts are not uncommon, and I think we’ll be able to fool him so that the cargo—”
“Hush!” cautioned the other man. “Not so loud!”
The noise in the station again drowned what the two men were saying, but the boys had heard enough. All three of them knew at once that the man who had spoken was the stranger who had acted so queerly in the Cresville freight office. If they had any doubts of it they were dispelled a moment later when the doorman called out:
“All aboard for the western express!”
As the man and his companion arose, the boys saw he was the same individual who had been so particular about the boxes of stuff he shipped to San Francisco.
Before the three chums could make any comment the man and his companion were lost in the crowd that thronged to the door.
“Come, boys,” said the professor, closing his book. “That’s our train.”
A bad break
“That was queer, wasn’t it?” said Jerry to his chums when they were seated in the train, moving swiftly toward the great west. “I wonder what he meant, and what he was doing out here?”
“And I guess you can keep on wondering, for all the good it will do,” commented Bob. “I couldn’t make anything out of what they said, except that some ship might be lost. That’s common enough.”
“I wonder what that stuff was that he shipped from the freight office?” mused Jerry.
“Rat poison, maybe,” replied Ned with a laugh. “I’ve heard there are lots of rats on ships, and maybe he has a patent stuff for getting rid of ’em.”
“It might be,” agreed Jerry. “Well, as Bob says, there’s no use wondering. Say, but this is pretty nice scenery,” and he pointed to the view from the window, as they were passing along the shores of a lake.
“Fine!” exclaimed Ned. “It ought to have some mountains around it, and it would look just like Lost Lake, where we found the hermit, that time.”
“Seems as if that was a good while ago,” commented Bob, “but it wasn’t so very.”
For several hours the boys discussed their past adventures, some of which were brought to their minds by views of the western country through which they were passing. Professor Snodgrass took no interest in anything except a big book which he was studying carefully, at times making notes on slips of paper, which had a tendency to drop into the aisle, or under the seat when he was not looking. In consequence the car, in the vicinity of where the professor sat, looked as though a theatrical snow-storm had taken place.
One morning the boys awakened to find the train making fast time over a level stretch of country, with rolling hills here and there, covered with tall grass. Occasionally glimpses could be had of herds of cattle.