“All right, boss,” said George simply as he joined Bryce and Ogilvy under the lee of the locomotive. “Now we get busy again.”
“Safe-o, men,” Ogilvy called. “Back to the job.” And while Bryce, followed by the careless George Sea Otter, went into the lumber-yard to succour the enemy, Ogilvy set an example to the men by stepping into the open and starting briskly to work with a shovel.
At the bottom of the pile of lumber the Black Minorca was discovered with a severe flesh-wound in his right hip; also he was suffering from numerous bruises and contusions. George Sea Otter possessed himself of the fallen cholo’s rifle, while Bryce picked the wretch up and carried him to his automobile.
“Take the swine over to the Laguna Grande Lumber Company’s hospital and tell them to patch him up,” he ordered George Sea Otter. “I’ll keep both rifles and the ammunition here for Jules Rondeau and his woods-gang. They’ll probably be dropping in on us about two a.m., if I know anything about Colonel Pennington’s way of doing things.”
Having dispatched the Black Minorca to hold up the work until the arrival of reinforcements, Colonel Pennington fairly burned the streets en route to his home. He realized that there would be no more sleep for him that night, and he was desirous of getting into a heavy ulster before venturing forth again into the night air.
The violent slam with which he closed the front door after him brought Shirley, in dressing-gown and slippers, to the staircase.
“Uncle Seth!” she called.
“Here!” he replied from the hall below.
“What’s the matter?”
“There’s the devil to pay,” he answered. “That fellow Cardigan is back of the N.C.O., after all, and he and Ogilvy have a gang of fifty men down at the intersection of Water and B streets, cutting in a jump-crossing of our line.”
He dashed into the living room, and she heard him calling frantically into the telephone.
“At last!” she murmured, and crept down the stairs, pausing behind the heavy portieres at the entrance to the living room.
“That you, Poundstone?” she heard him saying rapidly into the transmitter. “Pennington speaking. Young Bryce Cardigan is behind that N.C.O. outfit, and it’s a logging-road and not intended to build through to Grant’s Pass at all. Cardigan and Ogilvy are at Water and B streets this very instant with a gang of fifty men cutting in a jump-crossing of my line, curse them! They’ll have it in by six o’clock to-morrow morning if something isn’t done—and once they get it in, the fat’s in the fire.
“Telephone the chief of police and order him to take his entire force down there, if necessary, and stop that work. To blazes with that temporary franchise! You stop that work for two hours, and I’ll do the rest. Tell the chief of police not to recognize that temporary franchise. He can be suspicious of it, can’t he, and refuse to let the work go on until he finds you? And you can be hard to find for two hours, can you not? Delay, delay, man! That’s all I want... Yes, yes, I understand. You get down about daylight and roast the chief of police for interfering, but in the meantime!... Thank you, Poundstone, thank you. Good-bye.”