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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Iron Trail - Chapter 10. In Which The Doctor Shows His Wit
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The Iron Trail - Chapter 10. In Which The Doctor Shows His Wit Post by :rvlawrence Category :Long Stories Author :Rex Beach Date :May 2012 Read :1364

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The Iron Trail - Chapter 10. In Which The Doctor Shows His Wit


O'Neil's talk with Mrs. Gerard upon her arrival from Hope was short and businesslike. Neither by word nor look did he show that he knew or suspected anything of the real reason of her break with Gordon. Toward both her and Natalie he preserved his customary heartiness, and their first constraint soon disappeared. Mrs. Gerard had been plunged in one of those black moods in which it seems that no possible event can bring even a semblance of happiness, but it was remarkable how soon this state of mind began to give way before O'Neil's matter-of-fact cheerfulness. He refused to listen to their thanks and made them believe that they were conferring a real favor upon him by accepting the responsibility of the new hotel. Pending the completion of that structure he was hard pressed to find a lodging-place for them until Eliza and her brother insisted that they share the bungalow with them--a thing O'Neil had not felt at liberty to ask under the circumstances. Nor was the tact of the brother and sister less than his; they received the two unfortunates as honored guests.

Gradually the visitors began to feel that they were welcome, that they were needed, that they had an important task to fulfil, and the sense that they were really of service drove away depression. Night after night they lay awake, discussing the wonderful change in their fortunes and planning their future. Natalie at least had not the slightest doubt that all their troubles were at an end.

One morning they awoke to learn that O'Neil had gone to the States, leaving Dr. Gray in charge of affairs at Omar during his absence. The physician, who was fully in his chief's confidence, gravely discussed their duties with them, and so discreet was he that they had no faintest suspicion that he knew their secret. It was typical of O'Neil and his "boys" that they should show this chivalry toward two friendless outcasts; it was typical of them, also, that they one and all constituted themselves protectors of Natalie and her mother, letting it be known through the town that the slightest rudeness toward the women would be promptly punished.

While O'Neil's unexpected departure caused some comment, no one except his trusted lieutenants dreamed of the grave importance of his mission. They knew the necessities that hounded him, they were well aware of the trembling insecurity in which affairs now stood, but they maintained their cheerful industry, they pressed the work with unabated energy, and the road crept forward foot by foot, as steadily and as smoothly as if he himself were on the ground to direct it.

Many disappointments had arisen since the birth of the Salmon River & Northwestern; many misfortunes had united to retard the development of its builder's plans. The first obstacle O'Neil encountered was that of climate. During the summer, unceasing rains, mists, and fogs dispirited his workmen and actually cut their efficiency in half. He had made certain allowances for this, of course, but no one could have foreseen so great a percentage of inefficiency as later developed. In winter, the cold was intense and the snows were of prodigious depth, while outside the shelter of the Omar hills the winds howled and rioted over the frozen delta, chilling men and animals and paralyzing human effort. Under these conditions it was hard to get workmen, and thrice harder to keep them; so that progress was much slower than had been anticipated.

Then, too, the physical difficulties of the country were almost insurmountable. The morass which comprised the Salmon River plain was in summer a bottomless ooze, over which nothing could be transported, yet in winter it became sheathed with a steel-hard armor against which piling splintered. It could be penetrated at that season only by the assistance of steam thawers, which involved delay and heavy expense. These were but samples of the obstacles that had to be met, and every one realized that the work thus far had been merely preparatory. The great obstruction, upon the conquest of which the success of the whole undertaking hinged, still lay before them.

But of all handicaps the most serious by far was the lack of capital. Murray had foreseen as inevitable the abandonment by the Trust of its Cortez route, but its change of base to Kyak had come as a startling surprise and as an almost crushing blow. Personally, he believed its present plan to be even more impracticable than its former one, but its refusal to buy him out had disheartened his financial associates and tightened their purse-strings into a knot which no argument of his could loose. He had long since exhausted his own liquid capital, he had realized upon his every available asset, and his personal credit was tottering. He was obliged to finance his operations upon new money--a task which became ever more difficult as the months passed and the Trust continued its work at Kyak. Yet he knew that the briefest flagging, even a temporary abandonment of work, meant swift and utter ruin. His track must go forward, his labor must be paid, his supplies must not be interrupted. He set his jaws and fought on stubbornly, certain of his ultimate triumph if only he could hold out.

A hundred miles to the westward was a melancholy example of failure in railroad-building, in the form of two rows of rust upon a weed-grown embankment. It was all that remained of another enterprise which had succumbed to financial starvation, and the wasted millions it represented was depressing to consider.

Thus far O'Neil's rivalry with the Trust had been friendly, if spirited, but his action in coming to the assistance of Mrs. Gerard and her daughter raised up a new and vigorous enemy whose methods were not as scrupulous as those of the Heidlemanns.

Gordon was a strangely unbalanced man. He was magnetic, his geniality was really heart-warming, yet he was perfectly cold- blooded in his selfishness. He was cool and calculating, but interference roused him to an almost insane pitch of passion. Fickle in most things, he was uncompromising in his hatreds. O'Neil's generosity in affording sanctuary to his defiant mistress struck him as a personal affront, it fanned his dislike of his rival into a consuming rage. It was with no thought of profit that he cast about for a means of crippling O'Neil. He was quite capable of ruining himself, not to speak of incidental harm to others, if only he could gratify his spleen.

Denny, his trusted jackal, resisted stoutly any move against "The Irish Prince," but his employer would not listen to him or consent to any delay. Therefore, a certain plausible, shifty-eyed individual by the name of Linn was despatched to Omar on the first steamer. Landing at his destination, Mr. Linn quietly effaced himself, disappearing out the right-of-way, where he began moving from camp to camp, ostensibly in search of employment.

It was a few days later, perhaps a week after O'Neil's departure, that Eliza Appleton entered the hospital and informed Dr. Gray:

"I've finished my first story for The Review."

The big physician had a rapid, forceful habit of speech. "Well, I suppose you uncorked the vitriol bottle," he said, brusquely.

"No! Since you are now the fount of authority here, I thought I'd tell you that I have reserved my treachery for another time. I haven't learned enough yet to warrant real fireworks. As a matter of fact, I've been very kind to Mr. O'Neil in my story."

"Let me thank you for him."

"Now don't be sarcastic! I could have said a lot of nasty things, if he hadn't been so nice to me. I suppose it is the corrupting influence of his kindness."

"He really will be grateful," the doctor assured her, seriously. "Newspaper publicity of the wrong sort might hurt him a great deal just now. In every big enterprise there comes a critical time, when everything depends upon one man; strong as the structure seems, he's really supporting it. You see, the whole thing rests ultimately on credit and confidence. An ill- considered word, a little unfriendly shove, and down comes the whole works. Then some financial power steps in, reorganizes the wreckage, and gets the result of all the other fellow's efforts, for nothing."

"Dan tells me the affairs of the S. R. & N. are in just such a tottering condition."

"Yes. We're up against it, for the time being. Our cards are on the table, and you have it in your power to do us a lot of harm."

"Don't put it that way!" said Eliza, resentfully. "You and Mr. O'Neil and even Dan make it hard for me to do my duty. I won't let you rob me of my liberty. I'll get out and 'Siwash' it in a tent first."

The physician laughed. "Don't mistake leaf-mold for muck, that's all we ask. O'Neil is perfectly willing to let you investigate him."

"Exactly! And I could bite off his head for being so nice about it. Not that I've discovered anything against him, for I haven't --I think he's fine--but I object to the principle of the thing."

"He'll never peep, no matter what you do or say."

"It makes me furious to know how superior he is. I never detested a man's virtues as I do his. Gordon is the sort I like, for he needs exposing, and expects it. Wait until I get at him and the Trust."

"The Trust, too, eh?"

"Of course."

"Now what have the Heidlemanns done?"

"It's not what they have done; it's what they're going to do. They're trying to grab Alaska."

Dr. Gray shook his head impatiently, but before he could make answer Tom Slater entered and broke into the conversation by announcing:

"I've spotted him, Doc. His name is Linn, and he's Gordon's hand. He's at mile 24 and fifty men are quitting from that camp."

"That makes two hundred, so far," said the doctor.

"He's offering a raise of fifty cents a day and transportation to Hope."

Gray scowled and Eliza inquired quickly:

"What's wrong, Uncle Tom?"

"Don't call me 'Uncle Tom,'" Slater exclaimed, irritably; "I ain't related to you."

Miss Appleton smiled at him sweetly. "I had a dear friend once-- you remind me of him, he was such a splendid big man," she said.

Tom eyed her suspiciously.

"He chewed gum incessantly, too, and declared that it never hurt anybody."

"It never did," asserted Slater.

"We pleaded, we argued, we did our best to save him, but--" She shook her blond head sadly.

"What happened to him?"

"What always happens? He lingered along for a time, stubborn to the last, then--" Turning abruptly to Dr. Gray, she asked, "Who is this man Linn, and what is he doing?"

"He's an emissary of Curtis Gordon and he's hiring our men away from us," snapped the physician.

"Why, Dan tells me Mr. O'Neil pays higher wages than anybody!"

"So he does, but Linn offers a raise. We didn't know what the trouble was till over a hundred men had quit. The town is full of them, now, and it's becoming a stampede."

"Can't you meet the raise?"

"That wouldn't do any good."

Tom agreed. "Gordon don't want these fellows. He's doing it to get even with Murray for those wo--" He bit his words in two at a glance from Gray. "What happened to the man that chewed gum?" he demanded abruptly.

"Oh yes! Poor fellow! We warned him time and again, but he was a sullen brute, he wouldn't heed advice. Why don't you bounce this man Linn? Why don't you run him out of camp?"

"Fine counsel from a champion of equal rights!" smiled Gray. "You forget we have laws and Gordon has a press bureau. It would antagonize the men and cause a lot of trouble in the end. What O'Neil could do personally, he can't do as the president of the S. R. & N. It would give us a black eye.

"We've go to do something dam' quick," said Slater, "or else the work will be tied up. That would 'crab' Murray's deal. I've got a pick-handle that's itching for Linn's head." The speaker coughed hollowly and complained: "I've got a bad cold on my chest--feels like pneumonia, to me. Wouldn't that just be my luck?"

"Do you have pains in your chest?" inquired the girl, solicitously.

"Terrible! But I'm so full of pains that I get used to 'em".

"It isn't pneumonia."

Slater flared up at this, for he was jealous of his sufferings.

"It's gumbago!" Eliza declared.

Dr. Gray's troubled countenance relaxed into a grin as he said:

"I'll give you something to rub on those leather lungs--harness- oil, perhaps."

"Is this labor trouble really serious?" asked the girl.

"Serious! It may knock us out completely. Go away now and let me think. Pardon my rudeness, Miss Appleton, but--"

Slater paused at the door.

"Don't think too long, Doc," he admonished him, "for there's a ship due in three days, and by that time there won't be a 'rough- neck' left on the job. It'll take a month to get a new crew from the States, and then it wouldn't be any good till it was broke in."

When he was alone the doctor sat down to weigh the news "Happy Tom" had brought, but the more squarely he considered the matter the more alarming it appeared. Thus far the S. R. & N. had been remarkably free from labor troubles. To permit them to creep in at this stage would be extremely perilous: the briefest cessation of work might, and probably would, have a serious bearing upon O'Neil's efforts to raise money. Gray felt the responsibility of his position with extraordinary force, for his chief's fortunes had never suffered in his hands and he could not permit them to do so now. But how to meet this move of Gordon's he did not know; he could think of no means of keeping these men at Omar. As he had to Eliza, to meet the raise would be useless, and a new scale of wages once adopted would be hard to reduce. Successful or unsuccessful in its effect, it would run into many thousands of dollars. The physician acknowledged himself dreadfully perplexed; he racked his brain uselessly, yearning meanwhile for the autocratic power to compel obedience among his men. He would have forced them back to their jobs had there been a way, and the fact that they were duped only added to his anger.

It occurred to him to quarantine the town, a thing he could easily do as port physician in case of an epidemic, but Omar was unusually healthy, and beyond a few surgical cases his hospital was empty.

His meditations were interrupted by Tom Slater, who returned to say:

"Give me that dope, Doc; I'm coughing like a switch engine." Gray rose and went to the shelves upon which his drugs were arranged, while the fat man continued, "That Appleton girl has got me worried with her foolishness. Maybe I AM sick; anyhow, I feel rotten. What I need is a good rest and a nurse to wait on me."

The physician's eyes in running along the rows of bottles encountered one labeled "Oleum Tiglii," and paused there. "You need a rest, eh?" he inquired, mechanically.

"If I don't get one I'll wing my way to realms eternal. I ain't been dried off for three months." Gray turned to regard his caller with a speculative stare, his fingers toyed with the bottle. "If it wasn't for this man Linn I'd lay off--I'd go to jail for him. But I can't do anything, with one foot always in the grave."

The doctor's face lightened with determination.

"Tom, you've been sent from heaven!"

"D'you mean I've been sent for, from heaven?" The invalid's red cheeks blanched, into his mournful eyes leaped a look of quick concern. "Say! Am I as sick as all that?"

"This will make you feel better." Gray uncorked the bottle and said, shortly, "Take off your shirt."

"What for?"

"I'm going to rub your chest and arms."

Slater obeyed, with some reluctance, pausing to inquire, doubtfully:

"You ain't stripping me down so you can operate?"


"I'm feeling pretty good again."

"It's well to take these things early. They all look alike at the beginning."

"What things?"

"Grippe, gumbago, smallpox--"

"God'lmighty!" exclaimed Slater with a start. "I haven't got anything but a light cold."

"Then this liniment ought to be just the thing."

"Humph! It don't smell like liniment," Tom declared, after a moment, but the doctor had fallen to work on him and he submitted with resignation.

Perhaps an hour later Dr. Gray appeared at the Appleton bungalow and surprised Eliza by saying:

"I've come to you for some help. You're the only soul in Omar that I can trust."

"Have you gone raving mad?" she inquired.

"No. I must put an end to Linn's activity or we'll be ruined. These workmen must be held in Omar, and you must help me do it."

"They have the right to go where they please."

"Of course, but Gordon will let them out as soon as he has crippled us. Tell me, would you like to be a trained nurse?"

"No, I would not," declared Eliza, vehemently. "I'm neither antiseptic nor prophylactic."

"Nevertheless, you're going to be one--Tom needs you."

"Tom? What ails him?"

"Nothing at this moment, but--wait until to-morrow." The physician's eyes were twinkling, and when he had explained the cause of his amusement Eliza laughed.

"Of course I'll help," she said. "But it won't hurt the poor fellow, will it?"

"Not in the least, unless it frightens him to death. Tom's an awful coward about sickness; that's why I need some one like you to take care of him. He'll be at the hospital to-morrow at three. If you'll arrange to be there we'll break the news to him gently. I daren't tackle it alone."

Tom was a trifle embarrassed at finding Eliza in Dr. Gray's office when he entered, on the next afternoon. The boss packer seemed different than usual; he was much subdued. His cough had disappeared, but in its place he suffered a nervous apprehension; his cheeks were pale, the gloom in his eyes had changed to a lurking uneasiness.

"Just dropped in to say I'm all right again," he announced in an offhand tone.

"That's good!" said Gray. "You don't look well, however."

"I'm feeling fine!" Mr. Slater hunched his shoulders as if the contact of his shirt was irksome to the flesh.

"You'd better let me rub you. Why are you scratching yourself?"

"I ain't scratching."

"You were!" The doctor was sternly curious; he had assumed his coldest and most professional air.

"Well, if I scratched, I probably itched. That's why people scratch, ain't it?"

"Let me look you over." "I can't spare the time, Doc--"

"Wait!" Gray's tone halted the speaker as he turned to leave. "I'm not going to let you out in this weather until I rub you."

This time there was no mistaking "Happy Tom's" pallor. "I tell you I feel great," he declared in a shaking voice. "I--haven't felt so good for years."

"Come, come! Step into the other room and take off your shirt."

"Not on your life."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't want no more of your dam' liniment."


"Because I'm--because I don't."

"Then I suppose I'll have to throw and hog-tie you." The physician rose and laid a heavy hand upon his patient's arm, at which Tom exclaimed:

"Ouch! Leggo! Gimme the stuff and I'll rub myself."

"Tom!" The very gravity of the speaker's voice was portentous, alarming. Mr. Slater hesitated, his gaze wavered, he scratched his chest unconsciously.

Eliza shook her head pityingly; she uttered an inarticulate murmur of concern.

"You couldn't get my shirt off with a steam-winch. I tell you I'm feeling grand."

"Why WILL you chew the horrid stuff?" Miss Appleton inquired sadly.

"I'm just a little broke out, that's all."

"Ah! You're broken out. I feared so," said the doctor.

The grave concern in those two faces was too much for Slater's sensitive nature; his stubbornness gave way, his self-control vanished, and he confessed wretchedly:

"I spent an awful night, Doc. I'll bust into flame if this keeps up. What is it, anyhow?"

"Is there an eruption of the arms and chest?"

"They're all erupted to hell."

Dr. Gray silently parted the shirt over Slater's bosom. "Hm-m!" said he.

"Tell him what it is," urged Eliza, in whom mirth and pity were struggling for mastery.

"It has every appearance of-smallpox!"

The victim uttered a choking cry and sat down limply. Sweat leaped out upon his face, beads appeared upon his round bald head.

"I knew I was a sick man. I've felt it coming on for three months, but I fought it off for Murray's sake. Say it's chicken- pox," he pleaded.

"Never mind; it's seldom serious," Eliza endeavored to comfort the stricken man.

"You wanted a good rest-"

"I don't. I want to work."

"I'll have to quarantine you, Tom."

Slater was in no condition for further resistance; a complete collapse of body and mind had followed the intelligence of his illness. He began to complain of many symptoms, none of which were in any way connected with his fancied disease. He was racked with pains, he suffered a terrible nausea, his head swam; he spoke bravely of his destitute family and prepared to make his will. When he left the hospital, an hour later, it was on a stretcher between four straining bearers.

That evening a disturbing rumor crept through the town of Omar. It penetrated the crowded saloons where the laborers who had quit work were squandering their pay, and it caused a brief lull in the ribaldry; but the mere fact that Tom Slater had come down with smallpox and had been isolated upon a fishing-boat anchored in the creek seemed, after all, of little consequence. Some of the idlers strolled down the street to stare at the boat, and upon their return verified the report. They also announced that they had seen the yellow-haired newspaper woman aboard, all dressed in white. It was considered high time by the majority to leave Omar, for an epidemic was a thing to be avoided, and a wager was made that the whole force would quit in a body as soon as the truth became known.

On the second day Dr. Gray undertook to allay the general uneasiness, but, upon being pressed, reluctantly acknowledged that his patient showed all the signs of the dread disease. This hastened the general preparations for departure, and when the incoming steamer hove in sight every laborer was at the dock with his kit-bag. It excited some idle comment among them to note that Dr. Gray had gone down the bay a short distance to meet the ship, and his efforts to speak it were watched with interest and amusement. Obviously it would have been much easier for him to wait until she landed, for she came right on and drew in toward the wharf. It was not until her bow line was made fast that the physician succeeded in hailing the captain. Then the deserters were amazed to hear the following conversation:

"I can't let you land, Captain Johnny," came from Dr. Gray's launch.

"And why can't you?" demanded Brennan from the bridge of his new ship. "Have you some prejudice against the Irish?" The stern hawser was already being run out, and the crowd was edging closer, waiting for the gangplank.

"There is smallpox here, and as health officer I've quarantined the port."

There came a burst of Elizabethan profanity from the little skipper, but it was drowned by the shout from shore as the full meaning of the situation finally came home. Then the waiting men made a rush for the ship. She had not touched as yet, however, and the distance between her and the pier was too great to leap. Above the confusion came Brennan's voice, through a megaphone, commanding them to stand back. Some one traitorously cast off the loop of the bow line, the ship's propellers began to thrash, and the big steel hull backed away inch by inch, foot by foot, until, amid curses and cries of rage, she described a majestic circle and plowed off up the sound toward Hope.

By a narrow margin the physician reached his hospital ahead of the infuriated mob, and it was well that he did so, for they were in a lynching mood. But, once within his own premises, he made a show of determined resistance that daunted them, and they sullenly retired. That night Omar rang with threats and deep- breathed curses, and Eliza Appleton, in the garb of a nurse, tended her patient cheerfully.

To the delegation which waited upon him the next morning, Dr. Gray explained the nature of his duties as health officer, informing them coolly that no living soul could leave Omar without incurring legal penalties. Since he could prevent any ships from landing, and inasmuch as the United States marshal was present to enforce the quarantine, he seemed to be master of the situation.

"How long will we be tied up?" demanded the spokesman of the party.

"That is hard to say."

"Well, we're going to leave this camp!" the man declared, darkly.

"Indeed? Where are you going?"

"We're going to Hope. You might as well let us go. We won't stand for this."

The physician eyed him coldly. "You won't? May I ask how you are going to help yourselves?"

"We're going to leave on the next steamer."

"Oh, no you're not!" the marshal spoke up.

"See here, Doc! There's over two hundred of us and we can't stay here; we'll go broke."

Gray shrugged his broad shoulders. "Sorry," he said, "but you see I've no choice in the matter. I never saw a case of smallpox that looked worse."

"It's a frame-up," growled the spokesman. "Tom hasn't got smallpox any more than I have. You cooked it to keep us here." There was an angry second to this, whereupon the doctor exclaimed:

"You think so, eh? Then just come with me."


"Out to the boat where he is. I'll show you."

"You won't show me no smallpox," asserted one of the committee.

"Then YOU come with me," the physician urged the leader.

"So you can bottle me up, too? No, thank you!"

"Get the town photographer with his flashlight. We'll help him make a picture; then you can show it to the others. I promise not to quarantine you."

After some hesitation the men agreed to this; the photographer was summoned and joined the party on its way to the floating pest-house.

It was not a pleasant place in which they found Tom Slater, for the cabin of the fishing-boat was neither light nor airy, but Eliza had done much to make it agreeable. The sick man was propped up in his bunk and playing solitaire, but he left off his occupation to groan as the new-comers came alongside.

When the cause of the visit had been made known, however, he rebelled.

"I won't pose for no camera fiend," he declared, loudly. "It ain't decent and I'm too sick. D'you take me for a bearded lady or a living skeleton?"

"These men think you're stalling," Dr. Gray told him.

"Who? Me?" Slater rolled an angry eye upon the delegation. "I ain't sick, eh? I s'pose I'm doing this for fun? I wish you had it, that's all."

The three members of the committee of investigation wisely halted at the foot of the companionway stairs where the fresh air fanned them; they were nervous and ill at ease.

Drawing his covers closer, Slater shouted:

"Close that hatch, you bone-heads! I'm blowing away!"

The photographer ventured to remonstrate.

"It's mighty close in here, Doc. Is it safe to breathe the bugs?"

"Perfectly safe," Gray assured him. "At least Miss Appleton hasn't suffered yet."

As a matter of fact the patient betrayed no symptoms of a wasting illness, for his cheeks were ruddy, he had eaten three hearty meals each day, and the enforced rest had done him good, so the committee saw nothing about him to satisfy their suspicions. But when Tom weakly called upon them for assistance in rising they shrank back and one of them exclaimed:

"I wouldn't touch you with a fish-pole."

Eliza came forward, however; she permitted her charge to lean upon her while she adjusted the pillows at his back; but when Dr. Gray ordered him to bare his breast and arms Slater refused positively. He blushed, he stammered, he clutched his nightrobe with a horny hand which would have required a cold chisel to loosen, and not until Eliza had gone upon deck would he consent to expose his bulging chest.

But Miss Appleton had barely left the cabin when she was followed by the most timid member of the delegation. He plunged up the stairs, gasping:

"I've saw enough! He's got it, and got it bad."

A moment later came the dull sound of the exploding flashlight, then a yell, and out of the smoke stumbled his two companions. The spokesman, it appeared, had also seen enough--too much--for with another yell he leaped the rail and made for shore. Fortunately the tide was out and the water low; he left a trail across the mud flat like that of a frightened hippopotamus.

When the two conspirators were finally alone upon the deck they rocked in each other's arms, striving to stifle their laughter. Meanwhile from the interior of the cabin came the feeble moans of the invalid.

That evening hastily made photographs of the sick man were shown upon the streets. Nor could the most skeptical deny that he presented a revolting sight and one warranting Dr. Gray's precautions. In spite of this evidence, however, threats against the physician continued to be made freely; but when Eliza expressed fears for his safety he only smiled grimly, and he stalked through the streets with such defiance written on his heavy features that no man dared raise a hand against him.

Day after day the quarantine continued, and at length some of the men went back to work. As others exhausted their wages they followed. In a fortnight Omar was once more free of its floating population and work at the front was going forward as usual. Meanwhile the patient recovered in marvelous fashion and was loud in his thanks to the physician who had brought him through so speedily. Yet Gray stubbornly refused to raise the embargo.

Finally the cause of the whole trouble appeared at the hospital and begged to be released.

"You put it over me," said Mr. Linn. "I've had enough and I want to get out."

"I don't know what you're talking about," answered the doctor. "No one can leave here now."

"I know it wasn't smallpox at all, but it worked just the same, I'll leave your men alone if you'll let me go out on the next Seattle steamer."

"But--I thought you came from Hope?" Gray said, blandly.

Mr. Linn shifted his eyes and laughed uneasily. "I did, and I'm going to keep coming from Hope. You don't think I'd dare to go back after this, do you?"

"Why not?"

"Gordon would kill me."

"So! Mr. Gordon sent you?"

"You know he did. But--I've got to get out now. I'm broke."

"I didn't think it of Gordon!" The doctor shook his head sadly. "How underhanded of him!"

Linn exploded desperately: "Don't let's four-flush. You were too slick for him, and you sewed me up. I've spent the money he gave me and now I'm flat."

"You look strong. We need men."

Gordon's emissary turned pale. "Say! You wouldn't set me to work? Why, those men would string me up."

"I think not. I've spoken to the shift boss at mile 30, and he'll take care you're not hurt so long as you work hard and keep your mouth shut."

An hour later Mr. Linn, cursing deeply, shouldered his pack and tramped out the grade, nor could he obtain food or shelter until he had covered those thirty weary miles. Once at his destination, he was only too glad to draw a numbered tag and fall to work with pick and shovel, but at his leisure he estimated that it would take him until late the following month to earn his fare to the States.

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The Iron Trail - Chapter 9. Wherein Gordon Shows His Teeth The Iron Trail - Chapter 9. Wherein Gordon Shows His Teeth

The Iron Trail - Chapter 9. Wherein Gordon Shows His Teeth
CHAPTER IX. WHEREIN GORDON SHOWS HIS TEETHAffairs at Hope were nearly, if not quite, as prosperous as those at Omar, for Curtis Gordon's advertising had yielded large and quick returns. His experiment, during the previous summer, of bringing his richest stockholders north, had been a great success. They had come, ostensibly at his expense, and once on the ground had allowed themselves to be fairly hypnotized. They had gone where he led, had seen what he pointed out, had believed what he told them. Their imaginations were fired with the grandeur of an undertaking which would develop the vast resources of