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ro-Day's Short St&ry.;

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ro-Day's Short St&ry.; I StGNALMAN HOBBES'S DEVOTMN. Ha-d yo'u. one eveniT].g MAOY yeaj-s a.?o. teen in one of the little cafes which abound tn Soh.o and ite. neis&hbourhood. you wO",Ild, Mye seen a. strange ight. Two men were ;efted a.t a dirty table, on which &tood two cugs of Hquor a.nd dice. YOl1 smile! That. you thTnk. is a. very commoTi sight. Yes, but bad you waited and noticed -:you would ha,e seen that they drank but lit ',ie, am<l a.a for the dice. they lay unheeded—and that is a stm,nge thing: there! One gla-nce worlild h3.ire told youlzthat they were viiia.m8. He who 8>eenwd to do most. of the taking was a ta.)I, powerfuSy-buiLt iKan, with bushy, eyebrowb that ger'eed to ccn,ceal a. pair of remark&bly sharp eyes. The other was much less powerful) y made, and in strong contrast to his companion. Whcjea.8 the nrst was showily, if not we!) dressed, hia whole app&ara-nce was draggled a<nd untidy. They talked much. in. low, guarded tones; but occasionally their intm-cat in the subject overca,me discretion, and ?. few wor<i.. were uttet-ed in a I'.uder key, to be instantly dm carded when noticed. If you had been obatrvart, you wo'lLi have t-oOTi come to the oor'ciusion that th-: subject of the'ir colloquy was a eprtain item in the big man. every now and theM pulted out ..f his pocket. ajMt poirted to with a griI1&Y, con- vincing nng&r Oc<-asion'a,IIy he vanêd t.lns performanoe by bring'ing his n&t down on the table with a. thump which made the mugs rattle amd jing-te musically The para.g-ra.ph which engaged their atten- tion was this: "Count Mouronsky'& mission to this ccuntry having ended, he will return to Russia by the nig;ht sertioe on Friday. travelling by the overland route." ''Friday night. Jacob—ar-d now it is but Tuesday! \Vba.t sa.y you—shait we strike a blow for freedom? Think over what har- gOl1oe-thŒe blows from the knout tha,t have left their soars in your back." "Yes. yee. I do not need reminding of th em," came the aa-rage snarl, in reply. "Wh&t i.6 your pla-n?" "Listen!" He bent down a. minute and trhittpered in the other's ear. A gle<n'n r, f ecnprebending malice shot across the lis- tener's face. "Ah! what say you to thr'.t. friend Jaco'b—' 'ha.ve I thought it all out? But to w<kk! Whai. shaU we require? A wrertch and a plateia.yer's key. ATr.nn; your extensive s,equaimtan,ce there shon)d be no dimculty in procuring tho'?e useful implements. Jaco'b. Then, when it i8 aeco-n- piisbed: we can put thr--e on ard slip away uno-baerved..One or two s!'lull attictps—a. eh, r coil of thh rope, and a ?<€<*€ of green gla;an.d we a.re equipped." For no Jacob was in peecli- Teas ad.!iira.tioTL of his fri?r.d. bnt he waB quickly re-oa.Ued to the subject by the ether's ra,pid "Miltown Junction M the The line ts on a aharp curve, and d'}wn]liJl; and there are plrny of dark i>ti-ii,-s p.bj.ut there which will to us. I w11] go d&wn to recontoitra tomorrow; f-Hd do yon ge-, the re¿>.dy mcinwliilc. Is It asreed? Then we will proceed there on Friday aftemo'on—not together, miad— Mtd——' "ATMl on Friday n-;gl,.t Monrotfrky will b? de<ad'' He hi-ed out the words with mur dmous emphis. "Ka,uH'mann, I oolive you're descended from the Evil One hio!- ielf You will hav) gathered ere this the inten- tion of the,-e two wretches, which wae to vreck the Don.r boat tra-in, and thus oo'm- pa=s the destruction of their aim-enemy. Jount Jfour,}ff".ky. A more daatapdiy, de- (Lberately co.n<-eived plot it would be diSi- quit to itnagTne. This Mouro.ffsky, who had bee-n f-ome time in on a politioal mission, was an 4hiTteial favourite with his Jrnix-i-ia.] ma<ster. Ho was krown throughout Russia, at! a hard, -D-.erbmring mm; snd Ja(-db Kc'robiniski. the lESSer of the two had been one of hie ata-vt-a jntil he had ef.ca.ped and ned to this country. It w-ai by Mouroff&ky's orders, as his fellow-rogue reminded him, tha.t he had been knouted. and. althous-h the intense physie.a.l s'un'ering was a memory of the long'-dead past. it had left in. his aou.! an undying ha.te of the man who had caused it. "And on Friday ni!?ht Mouron'sky will be dead!" h3 repeated to himself s.oft)y. almost Mr055ingly. "Au revoir. comrade' Till Friday, and may the fa-tes be with us!" "FLiet! What was that?" The &m'a.ner of two ftgures crouching over the glaming ir.eta.ls started guiltiiy, and raised itaelf to an erect "Only the wind whiatiin? through thope trees. You are as nervous as a kitten. Jetcob. I tell you, man. we are bound tc 'tucceed: the luck ia with us all along. Who do you think is on doty at the box to- "How fhould I know?" answered the other, querulously. "I am not acquainted with a,I) the eigna-hnen from London to Dover." "No; but yo<u are with this MM*. What if it should be that youn:? fool who joined us la.st year. and then turne'd booby, and-" "And tried to i'prmg the poli.ce on ns. His name wae Iiobbf«; go on." "Well. that's thf man who presides <wc(r <h€ destinies of the Dover at Miltown tmiction. Jacob, my friend, to quote the anguage of th<iae barbarous islanders, I link we aha.11 prooobly kill two birds with HM atone to-Diisht. Or shati we be fùrgivin!f, tad overtook Hobbea's httle pe<wadillo. eh?" He smiled evilly; a.nd mbbed his hands iogpther, with a lonsr-drawn aig:h of sa.tisfac- Uon. "Ah—h'" It was KoTobmeki'a only com- ment at this mece of intelligence: but the! tome was expreattive of a good dea.i. ."But push on. comrade; we have much to do. It's exceedingly fortunate for us that the line is cfea.r a full thirty-nve minutes before the passage of the boa,t-train." The conversation. which had been conducted 'n low whispers, then dropped for a short time. and only Kaufman.n's heavy breathing, a-a he tugged a.nd tugged at the woll-tight-ened bolts, disturbed the silence. The conditions could not ha,v&, been more favoura-ble to their scheme. The sky Was overceLSt with dark cloudt5, which coin plet.ely shut off the light of the moon, and rendered observation of a-ny object more than a, few paces oil n. matter of dimculty. Â more tha,n usually laboured grunt from l'al1fmann aI1il1oullc,t..xl that his ta.sk was Kaufmann anai-ouiiec,(i that his task was "N&w. Jacob—lift'" Together they strained 1tnd pailed; and two bright raila were lifted ,)Qdily out and concealed under aome bushea, leaving a dar' ugiy gap in the long stretch of metaJ which would form a. terrible å.ani&r to Miy trr'.in that mi?ht be fa,ted to el-counter it. "Now for the -ngnal! Quif'k! man—the g-lasa ar.,d putty!" Iri aYJ. incredibly short space of,-time he had MQLUnt.Cli the iron-runted ,la4d,or, and. removed the red "tspsctaele." 1nt.ot-r-tillg a. disc of gre<rn glas2 in its p.ace. "A quarter of an "-our -till. Good—we will tc'terview our friend yoadcr. Wh<Te did you hide titc oc-d.ta. Jacob?' With ste"a,Ithy fcotsteiM they proceeded down the line to the .,ign,1l-b0x. "Miltown JtMction -Xo. 1. was its oni<ial name; and t drea.ner, more de:!lOla-te-looking spot it Pould be dimcult to nnd. A solitary oi)- lamp was the o'ni[y ilIiumiTiation inside; ant it just ga-ve gufScient M?Mt for them to see the tctlegra-ph instruments and the codes of insti'uotic'ns on the sideR of Hie cabin, as they a.pproa<"hed. Crea-k! SigTiaIman Jajnes IIobbes, cm duty from 9 p.m. until 5 a-.m.. and just then. thirkj,,Pg of nothing' in pa.rticuia.r. v.as Middemly startled to eee tite door of his ca/bin open, a.nd two dark figures enter. "G&od evening, Mr. 1-obbts; I t3,2,e that yoTi reE'erahpr me." It wa?t Ka.ufmajui who' ? stroke. and the other's- face. benched with a til,dden terror, was eloquent testimony to the t-ritt.11 of his word; "You look ill. if I may say eo; but do not Jot a-ny rp'co'UectioYi of c<rtam littile incidents of the past p-ut you Abc-ut I beg-. Our visit is puT,,Iy forma.1. -ll this time the other had not uttered a. w.orá. He .simply stood spellbound, gazing- at the' man whc confronted him. "W-what d-, you: want?" he gasped out, at last. d? U-h. we're rather interested in the Dover mail to-night. :Mr. Ho.bbes. It's a.bout due, isn t it? To .?11 yo.u the truth, there's a corple of ra.ita out a few yarda higher up: an(! we'Ee anxious—merely as a matter of curiosity, of course—to see the effect cm the train." You Send' With a burst of comprehc.n- sipn; the young signalman divined the hideous mea.niag' hic.'h underlay the words; and he made a sudden dzlsh for one of the levers. Ka<u.fma,!m was too qoiek for him, however. An. no; I wouldn't do that if I were you. -Not that it could do much good, for it would etUI show gre&a. You see. we antioipa.ted t.T.a.t contin.gency. And let me advMe y.j.n not to pla.y any tricks," he con.tinued. ? '? ?? slight ta.p which he ?avc the butt of hjs revolver <wm'pj€ft<'d the sen- tence with adequate emphasis. "The train M J"Aia.lJjed, I presume, as you were so a.nxiouK to throw that handle back. So! we had better proceed. Jamb, the cord!" And with that they proceeded to tie the fellow's trembling limba. fo that he was unable to move them an inch one way or the other. When. it was done. and he was securely bound and gra.gs-ed. they tamed to gro. but not be-fore Kaufma.nn had de- livered lujDself of a few more gibing sen- tences. "Au Hobb?s' Do not think that we ha.ve takcT] all this trouble simply to Equare your aeeo.unt. No: you are but an incidenta-i factor,till, if you should fee.1 any qUa.lm of conscience—but I see that 1 onjy worry y?.u. An revclr! I trust tha.t thts lit"tle <-pis?de will iK)t interfere with your chances of promotion." With this parting- shot he went, &nd Hobbes II was left to his own retlootions. They were not p-lea6ant, ae yoTj may ima.gin.e Lying prone on the floor of the oa.biji. lm.a.ble to stir hand or foot. his condition was, indeed, pitiable: the tight cords seemed to cut into his ne<,h, his throat burned with a horrible drynesf. his limbe stiffened, and his veins sweUed aa if they would burst. He g-'anced at the clock. S.ti!l se-ven -inut,es before the train wa.s d-iie, aJid allow- m? a, min.ute or two for it.? boing late. he l mig-ht count ten. Ten mimes' A good ¡ deaJ might be acco.mpii'hed in that time- and a.no.ther man tha.t night Messed the fact th.a.t the Dover expzoe,s was the only train on the tine a.t tba.t hour, whi<-h enabled it to be s,i,7nail(-d a Ion? way in advance. S.ig'na.iman James Hobbes had made up hia mind to. a (tMpera-te resolve. He inig-ht have been a youngr fool a year b2.0k, headatrong- and reckk, a-a a.)I sueh: but he knew the responsibilities of his pcsLtion now, a..nd he wa<j ?outg- to &ave tha,t tra.in if it were po'sib!é to do it. He wa.<9 a. splend-id athlete: and he had air&a.dy formed hi<! plan. The idea in his mind wae to telegrai>h to the next post. ai.d have the train, stopped before it reac-hed the junction, and if he couJd not ?et his ha.nds free. his teeth were the only a,enitis for a<-con]p.Iitihing this. But to do this it would be recc-saiT to ra.is.p himself, bound a.nd encumbered as he was. to a standing peti- tion. Thrn.€ he essayed the fea.t, only to fail with a heavy thud to the noor. The fourth effor).. wa« more Bucc('ssful; be managed to get er&et. and then. he drew a deep breath and rected. propped up by the side of the box. The seconds were nyin?. however, and he I could a.n'ord to lose none. No.w ca,me the ha-rdest t.a.k, and now it was that the signal- man at the oa,bin in the rear was a&'tonished by a, seriea of st.ran.ge. disjointed. un.ime. ligible clicks from his telegraph needle. But g-radua.Uy he made out that someone was casing hif' attention: and signalled bMk for the to proceed. AgTtm the needle click-clicked: not at all Yike it ordinarily did, bnt with many brea.ks and sto-ps. With dim- cutty he spetled out:— Then there wa.a a larger break thaji usua.I. But he had divined that was some- thing wrong, and leaped to his leTer and threw it over to danger. nobbes had taken the handle in his teeth. and was makiTLg strenuous efforts to s.igT!aJ hi? mes&age of deliverance; but it w.as a terrible bueines-?. and the strain of main- ta.inin§' his position, while impoa.rti.n.g suffi- cien.t movement to the handle, became well- nigh u'nentdnr-nb!e. It was here that his ma.gDi- I &cent physical strength served him well; but he felt that it must gi\e out before long. A demon. Glutting vertig-o seemed to have seized him, hie legs trembled as if agitated by a. g-a.i\-amc ag-ency. his he-art thum.ped wildly ag-ainst .his ribs, and there was a buzzing in hi. head ar, of a thousand bees. But stubbornness waa one of his chief ('hara-ctI"ist.iO", ajt<i he struggled on man- fully: "expre—ss and ss-nd at-sis—tamc—e .liNe." Thn, with a gurgle of relief, he fell in a. oonroleæ heaT) on the noor. IIobt-es."s bra.very had its r€.wa'rd. Not only was the express saved from an awful doo.m. but the three or four o.fficia.l;" who hurried down the line had the satis.f action, of oa.ptur- ing red-ha.nded. so to sJ>OO..k, the two infa.mous sco-undTeIs who had pla.nned the an'air. aa they lay in waiting for the catas.- tro-phe which they expected every minute. Ten years' pena,! servitude eap-h was their portion; and I think you will sa.y that never was it more richly deserved.

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