“Yes,” Buck agreed, “I think he would.”
“There is a slight grade at our log-landing. I know that, because the air leaked out of the brakes on a log-train I was on a short time ago, and the train ran away with me. Now, the engine-crew will set the airbrakes on the mogul and leave her with steam up to throb all night; they’ll not blow her down, for that would mean work firing her in the morning. Our task, Buck, will be to throw off the airbrakes and let her glide silently out of our log-landing. About a mile down the road we’ll stop, get up steam, run down to the junction with the main line, back in on the Laurel Creek spur, couple on to those flat-cars and breeze merrily down to Sequoia with them. They’ll be loaded waiting for us; our men will be congregated in our dry-yard just off Water Street near B, waiting for us to arrive with the rails—and bingo—we go to it. After we drop the flats, we’ll run the engine back to the woods, leave it where we found it, return a-flying on the velocipede, if it’s there, or in my automobile, if it isn’t there. You can get back in ample time to superintend the cutting of the crossing!”
“Spoken like a man!” quoth Buck Ogilvy. “You’re the one man in this world for whom I’d steal a locomotive. ’At-a boy!”
Had either of the conspirators known of Pennington’s plans to entertain Mayor Poundstone at dinner on Thursday night, it is probable they would not have cheered until those flat-cars were out of the woods.
Mayor Poundstone and his wife arrived at the Pennington home in Redwood Boulevard at six forty-five Thursday evening. It was with a profound feeling of relief that His Honour lifted the lady from their modest little “flivver,” for once inside the Pennington house, he felt, he would be free from a peculiarly devilish brand of persecution inaugurated by his wife about three months previously. Mrs. Poundstone wanted a new automobile. And she had entered upon a campaign of nagging and complaint; hoping to wear Poundstone’s resistance down to the point where he would be willing to barter his hope of salvation in return for a guarantee of peace on earth.
“I feel like a perfect fool, calling upon these people in this filthy little rattletrap,” Mrs. Poundstone protested as they passed up the cement walk toward the Pennington portal.
Mayor Poundstone paused. Had he been Medusa, the glance he bent upon his spouse would have transformed her instantly into a not particularly symmetrical statue of concrete. He had reached the breaking-point.
“In pity’s name, woman,” he growled, “talk about something else. Give me one night of peace. Let me enjoy my dinner and this visit.”
“I can’t help it,” Mrs. P. retorted with asperity. She pointed to Shirley Sumner’s car parked under the porte-cochere. “If I had a sedan like that, I could die happy. And it only cost thirty-two hundred and fifty dollars.”