When he could control his emotions, Mr. Ogilvy gazed approvingly upon Henry Poundstone. “Mr. Poundstone,” he said solemnly, “I have met some meteoric young attorneys in my day, but you’re the first genuine comet I have seen in the legal firmament. Do you mind telling me exactly how you procured this franchise—and why you procured it without explicit orders from me?”
Henry did his best to look puzzled. “Why,” he said, “you left that telegram with me, and I concluded that you regarded it as self-explanatory or else had forgotten to mention it. I knew you were busy, and I didn’t want to bother you with details, so I just went ahead and filled the order for you. Anything wrong about that?”
“Certainly not. It’s perfectly wonderful. But how did you put it over?”
Henry smirked. “My dad’s the engineer,” he said bluntly. “If thirty days ain’t enough time, see me and I’ll get you thirty days more. And in the meantime nobody knows a thing about this little deal. What’s more, they won’t know. I figured Colonel Pennington might try to block you at that crossing so I—”
Buck Ogilvy extended his hand in benediction and let it drop lightly on Henry Poundstone’s thin shoulder. Henry quivered with anticipation under that gentle accolade and swallowed his heart while the great Ogilvy made a portentous announcement.
“My dear Poundstone,” he said earnestly, “I am not a man to forget clever work. At the proper time I shall—” He smiled his radiant smile. “You understand, of course, that I am speaking for and can make you no firm promises. However—” He smiled again. “All I have to say is that you’ll do!”
“Thank you,” said Henry Poundstone, Junior. “Thank you ever so much.”
An experience extending over a very active business career of thirty years had convinced Colonel Seth Pennington of the futility of wracking his brains in vain speculation over mysteries. In his day he had been interested in some small public-service corporations, which is tantamount to saying that he knew peanut politics and had learned that the very best way to fight the devil is with fire. Frequently he had found it of great interest and profit to him to know exactly how certain men spent their time and his money, and since he was a very busy man himself, naturally he had to delegate somebody else, to procure this information for him. When, therefore, the Northern California Oregon Railroad commenced to encroach on the Colonel’s time-appropriation for sleep, he realized that there was but one way in which to conserve his rest and that was by engaging to fathom the mystery for him a specialist in the unravelling of mysteries. In times gone by, the Colonel had found a certain national detective-agency an extremely efficient aid to well-known commercial agencies, and to these tried and true subordinates he turned now for explicit and satisfying information anent the Northern California Outrage!