Without further protest Sexton opened the safe, counted out the wages due, and took Rondeau’s receipt.
“Thank you, M’sieur,” the woods-boss growled as he swept the coin into his pocket. “Now I work for M’sieur Cardigan; so, M’sieur, I will have zee switchengine weeth two flat-cars and zee wrecking-car. Doze dam trash on zee crossing—M’sieur Cardigan does not like, and by gar, I take heem away. You onderstand, M’sieur? I am Jules Rondeau, and I work for M’sieur Cardigan. La la, M’sieur!” The great hand closed over Sexton’s collar. “Not zee pistol—no, not for Jules Rondeau.”
Quite as easily as a woman dresses a baby, he gagged Sexton with Sexton’s own handkerchief, laid him gently on the floor and departed, locking the door behind him and taking the key. At the corner of the building, where the telephone-line entered the office, he paused, jerked once at the wire, and passed on, leaving the broken ends on the ground.
In the round-house he found the switch-engine crew on duty, waiting for steam in the boiler. The withdrawal of both locomotives, brief as had been their absence, had caused a glut of logs at the Laguna Grande landings, and Sexton was catching up with the traffic by sending the switch-engine crew out for one train-load, even though it was Sunday. The crew had been used to receiving orders from Rondeau, and moreover they were not aware of his recent action; hence at his command they ran the switch-engine out of the roundhouse, coupled up the two flat-cars and the wrecking-car, and backed down to the crossing. Upon arrival, Jules Rondeau leaned out of the cab window and hailed Bryce. “M’sieur,” he said, “do not bozzer to make zee derrick. I have here zee wrecking-car—all you need; pretty soon we lift him off zee crossing, I tell you, eh, M’sieur Cardigan?”
Bryce stepped over to the switch-engine and looked up at his late enemy. “By whose orders is this train here?” he queried.
“Mine,” Rondeau answered. “M’sieur Sexton I have tie like one leetle pig and lock her in her office. I work now for M’sieur.”
And he did. He waited not for a confirmation from his new master but proceeded to direct operations like the born driver and leader of men that he was. With his late employer’s gear he fastened to the old castings and the boiler, lifted them with the derrick on the wrecking-car, and swung them up and around onto the flat-cars. By the middle of the afternoon the crossing was once more clear. Then the Cardigan crew fell upon it while Jules Rondeau ran the train back to the Laguna Grande yards, dismissed his crew, returned to the mill-office, and released the manager.
“You’ll pay through the nose for this, you scoundrel,” Sexton whimpered. “I’ll fix you, you traitor.”
“You feex nothing, M’sieur Sexton,” Rondeau replied imperturbably. “Who is witness Jules Rondeau tie you up? Somebody see you, no? I guess you don’ feex me. Sacre! I guess you don’ try.”