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- The Treasure-Train - 3/54 -


crew had been got ashore--and the Sea Gull is gone--stolen! Some men in a small boat must have overpowered the engineer. Anyhow, she has disappeared. I know that no one could expect to steal a yacht--at least for very long. She'd be recognized soon. But they must know that, too."

Kennedy looked at his watch.

"It is only a few hours since the train started from Halifax," he considered. "It will be due in New York early to-morrow morning-- twenty million dollars in gold and thirty millions in securities-- a seven-car steel train, with forty armed guards!"

"I know it," she said, anxiously, "and I am so afraid something is going to happen--ever since I had to play the spy. But what could any one want with a yacht?"

Kennedy shrugged his shoulders non-committally.

"It is one of the things that Mr. Lane must guard against," he remarked, simply. She looked up quickly.

"Mr. Lane?" she repeated.

"Yes," replied Kennedy; "the protection of the train has fallen on him. I shall meet the train myself when it gets to Worcester and come in on it. I don't think there can be any danger before it reaches that point."

"Will Mr. Lane go with you?"

"He must," decided Kennedy. "That train must be delivered safely here in this city."

Maude Euston gave Craig one of her penetrating, direct looks.

"You think there is danger, then?"

"I cannot say," he replied.

"Then I am going with you!" she exclaimed.

Kennedy paused and met her eyes. I do not know whether he read what was back of her sudden decision. At least I could not, unless there was something about Rodman Lane which she wished to have cleared up. Kennedy seemed to read her character and know that a girl like Maude Euston would be a help in any emergency.

"Very well," he agreed; "meet us at Mr. Lane's office in half an hour. Walter, see whether you can find Whiting."

Whiting was one of Kennedy's students with whom he had been lately conducting some experiments. I hurried out and managed to locate him.

"What is it you suspect?" I asked, when we returned. "A wreck-- some spectacular stroke at the nations that are shipping the gold?"

"Perhaps," he replied, absently, as he and Whiting hurriedly assembled some parts of instruments that were on a table in an adjoining room.

"Perhaps?" I repeated. "What else might there be?"

"Robbery."

"Robbery!" I exclaimed. "Of twenty million dollars? Why, man, just consider the mere weight of the metal!"

"That's all very well," he replied, warming up a bit as he saw that Whiting was getting things together quickly. "But it needs only a bit of twenty millions to make a snug fortune--"He paused and straightened up as the gathering of the peculiar electrical apparatus, whatever it was, was completed. "And," he went on quickly, "consider the effect on the stock-market of the news. That's the big thing."

I could only gasp.

"A modern train-robbery, planned in the heart of dense traffic!"

"Why not?" he queried. "Nothing is impossible if you can only take the other fellow unawares. Our job is not to be taken unawares. Are you ready, Whiting?"

"Yes, sir," replied the student, shouldering the apparatus, for which I was very thankful, for my arms had frequently ached carrying about some of Kennedy's weird but often weighty apparatus.

We piled into a taxicab and made a quick journey to the office of the Continental Express. Maude Euston had already preceded us, and we found her standing by Lane's desk as he paced the floor.

"Please, Miss Euston, don't go," he was saying as we entered.

"But I want to go," she persisted, more than ever determined, apparently.

"I have engaged Professor Kennedy just for the purpose of foreseeing what new attack can be made on us," he said.

"You have engaged Professor Kennedy?" she asked. "I think I have a prior claim there, haven't I?" she appealed.

Kennedy stood for a moment looking from one to the other. What was there in the motives that actuated them? Was it fear, hate, love, jealousy?

"I can serve my two clients only if they yield to me," Craig remarked, quietly. "Don't set that down, Whiting. Which is it--yes or no?"

Neither Lane nor Miss Euston looked at each other for a moment.

"Is it in my hands?" repeated Craig.

"Yes," bit off Lane, sourly.

"And you, Miss Euston?"

"Of course," she answered.

"Then we all go," decided Craig. "Lane, may I install this thing in your telegraph-room outside?"

"Anything you say," Lane returned, unmollified.

Whiting set to work immediately, while Kennedy gave him the final instructions.

Neither Lane nor Miss Euston spoke a word, even when I left the room for a moment, fearing that three was a crowd. I could not help wondering whether she might not have heard something more from the woman in the tea-room conversation than she had told us. If she had, she had been more frank with Lane than with us. She must have told him. Certainly she had not told us. It was the only way I could account for the armed truce that seemed to exist as, hour after hour, our train carried us nearer the point where we were to meet the treasure-train.

At Worcester we had still a long wait for the argosy that was causing so much anxiety and danger. It was long after the time scheduled that we left finally, on our return journey, late at night.

Ahead of us went a dummy pilot-train to be sacrificed if any bridges or trestles were blown up or if any new attempts were made at producing artificially broken rails. We four established ourselves as best we could in a car in the center of the treasure- train, with one of the armed guards as company. Mile after mile we reeled off, ever southward and westward.

We must have crossed the State of Connecticut and have been approaching Long Island Sound, when suddenly the train stopped with a jerk. Ordinarily there is nothing to grow alarmed about at the mere stopping of a train. But this was an unusual train under unusual circumstances.

No one said a word as we peered out. Down the track the signals seemed to show a clear road. What was the matter?

"Look!" exclaimed Kennedy, suddenly.

Off a distance ahead I could see what looked like a long row of white fuses sticking up in the faint starlight. From them the fresh west wind seemed to blow a thick curtain of greenish-yellow smoke which swept across the track, enveloping the engine and the forward cars and now advancing toward us like the "yellow wind" of northern China. It seemed to spread thickly on the ground, rising scarcely more than sixteen or eighteen feet.

A moment and the cloud began to fill the air about us. There was a paralyzing odor. I looked about at the others, gasping and coughing. As the cloud rolled on, inexorably increasing in density, it seemed literally to grip the lungs.

It flashed over me that already the engineer and fireman had been overcome, though not before the engineer had been able to stop the train.

As the cloud advanced, the armed guards ran from it, shouting, one now and then falling, overcome. For the moment none of us knew what to do. Should we run and desert the train for which we had dared so much? To stay was death.

Quickly Kennedy pulled from his pocket the gauze arrangements he had had in his hand that morning just as Miss Euston's knock had interrupted his conversation with me. Hurriedly he shoved one into Miss Euston's hands, then to Lane, then to me, and to the guard who was with us.

"Wet them!" he cried, as he fitted his own over his nose and staggered to a water-cooler.

"What is it?" I gasped, hoarsely, as we all imitated his every action.

"Chlorin gas," he rasped back, "the same gas that overcame


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