“Like ready money. And if he had seen me shaking hands with you, he’d have suspected a connection between us later on. Buck, you have a good job—about five hundred a month.”
“Thanks, old man. I’d work for you for nothing. What are we going to do?”
“Build twelve miles of logging railroad and parallel the line of the old wolf I spoke of a moment ago.”
“Good news! We’ll do it. How soon do you want it done?”
“As soon as possible. You’re the vice-president and general manager.”
“I accept the nomination. What do I do first?”
“Listen carefully to my story, analyze my plan for possible weak spots, and then get busy, because after I have provided the funds and given the word ‘Go!’ the rest is up to you. I must not be known in the transaction at all, because that would be fatal. And I miss my guess if, once we start building or advertising the building of the road, you and I and everybody connected with the enterprise will not be shadowed day and night by an army of Pinkertons.”
“I listen,” said Buck Ogilvy, and he inclined a large speckled ear in Bryce’s direction, the while his large speckled hand drew a scratch-pad toward him.
Three hours later Ogilvy was in possession of the most minute details of the situation in Sequoia, had tabulated, indexed, and cross-indexed them in his ingenious brain and was ready for business—and so announced himself. “And inasmuch as that hundred you sent me has been pretty well shattered,” he concluded, “suppose you call in your cold-hearted manager who refused me alms on your credit, and give him orders to honour my sight-drafts. If I’m to light in Sequoia looking like ready money, I’ve got to have some high-class, tailor-made clothes, and a shine and a shave and a shampoo and a trunk and a private secretary. If there was a railroad running into Sequoia, I’d insist on a private car.”
This final detail having been attended to, Mr. Ogilvy promptly proceeded to forget business and launched forth into a recital of his manifold adventures since leaving Princeton; and when at length all of their classmates had been accounted for and listed as dead, married, prosperous, or pauperized, the amiable and highly entertaining Buck took his departure with the announcement that he would look around a little and try to buy some good second-hand grading equipment and a locomotive, in addition to casting an eye over the labour situation and sending a few wires East for the purpose of sounding the market on steel rails. Always an enthusiast in all things, in his mind’s eye Mr. Ogilvy could already see a long trainload of logs coming down the Northern California & Oregon Railroad, as he and Bryce had decided to christen the venture.
“N. C. & O.,” Mr. Ogilvy murmured. “Sounds brisk and snappy. I like it. Hope that old hunks Pennington likes it, too. He’ll probably feel that N. C. & O. stands for Northern California Outrage”