“I know what your plan is,” Ogilvy interrupted. “You’re going to ask Duncan McTavish to waylay Pennington on the road at some point where it runs through the timber, kidnap him, and hold him until we have had time to clear the crossing and cut Pennington’s tracks.
“We will do nothing of the sort,” Buck continued seriously. “Listen, now, to Father’s words of wisdom. This railroad-game is an old one to me; I’ve fought at crossings before now, and whether successful or defeated, I have always learned something in battle. Didn’t you hear me tell that girl and her villainous avuncular relative last night that I had another ace up my kimono?”
“That was not brag, old dear. I had the ace, and this morning I played it—wherefore in my heart there is that peace that passeth understanding—particularly since I have just had a telegram informing me that my ace took the odd trick.”
He opened a drawer in Bryce’s desk and reached for the cigars he knew were there.
“Not at all a bad cigar for ten cents. However—you will recall that from the very instant we decided to cut in that jump-crossing, we commenced to plan against interference by Pennington; in consequence we kept, or tried to keep, our decision a secret. However, there existed at all times the possibility that Pennington might discover our benevolent intentions and block us with his only weapon—a restraining order issued by the judge of the United States District Court.
“Now, one of the most delightful things I know about a court is that it is open to all men seeking justice—or injustice disguised as justice. Also there is a wise old saw to the effect that battles are won by the fellow who gets there first with the most men. The situation from the start was absurdly simple. If Pennington got to the District Court first, we were lost!”
“You mean you got there first?” exclaimed Bryce.
“I did—by the very simple method of preparing to get there first in case anything slipped. Something did slip—last night! However, I was ready; so all I had to do was press the button, for as Omar Khayyam remarked: ’What shall it avail a man if he buyeth a padlock for his stable after his favourite stallion hath been lifted?’ Several days ago, my boy, I wrote a long letter to our attorney in San Francisco explaining every detail of our predicament; the instant I received that temporary franchise from the city council, I mailed a certified copy of it to our attorney also. Then, in anticipation of our discovery by Pennington, I instructed the attorney to prepare the complaint and petition for a restraining order against Seth Pennington et al. and stand by to rush the judge with it the instant he heard from me!