Southward, with low funnel belching
forth fire and smoke into the
blackness of the night, the huge
engine, with its solitary saloon
carriage and guard's brake, thundered
its way through the night towards
the great metropolis. Across
the desolate plain, stripped
bare of all vegetation, and made
hideous forever by the growth
of a mighty industry, where the
furnace fires reddened the sky,
and only the unbroken line of
ceaseless lights showed where
town dwindled into village and
suburbs led back again into town.
An ugly, thickly populated neighborhood,
whose area of twinkling lights
seemed to reach almost to the
murky skies; hideous, indeed
by day, not altogether devoid
now of a certain weird attractiveness
by reason of low-hung stars.
On, through many tunnels into
the black country itself, where
the furnace fires burned oftener,
but the signs of habitation were
fewer. Down the great iron way
the huge locomotive rushed onward,
leaping and bounding across the
maze of metals, tearing past
the dazzling signal lights, through
crowded stations where its passing
was like the roar of some earth-shaking
monster. The station-master at
Crewe unhooked his telephone
receiver and rang up Liverpool.
"What about this special?" he
brought off from the Lusitania
in a private tug.
Orders are to let her through
all the way to London."
"I know all about that," the
station-master grumbled. "I have
three locals on my hands already,--been
held up for half an hour. Old
Glynn, the director's, in one
of them too. Might be General
Manager to hear him swear."
"Is she signalled yet?" Liverpool
"Just gone through at sixty
miles an hour," was the reply. "She
made our old wooden sheds shake,
I can tell you. Who's driving
"Jim Poynton," Liverpool answered. "The
guvnor took him off the mail
"What's the fellow's name on
board, anyhow?" Crewe asked. "Is
it a millionaire from the other
side, trying to make records,
or a member of our bloated aristocracy?"
"The name's Fynes, or something
like it," was the reply. "He
didn't look much like a millionaire.
Came into the office carrying
a small handbag and asked for
a special to London. Guvnor told
him it would take two hours and
cost a hundred and eighty pounds.
Told him he'd better wait for
the mail. He produced a note
from some one or other, and you
should have seen the old man
bustle round. We started him
off in twenty minutes."
The station-master at Crewe
was interested. He knew very
well that it is not the easiest
thing in the world to bring influence
to bear upon a great railway
"Seems as though he was some
one out of the common, anyway," he
remarked. "The guvnor didn't
let on who the note was from,
"Not he," Liverpool answered. "The
first thing he did when he came
back into the office was to tear
it into small pieces and throw
them on the fire. Young Jenkins
did ask him a question, and he
shut him up pretty quick."
"Well, I suppose we shall read
all about it in the papers tomorrow," Crewe
remarked. "There isn't much that
these reporters don't get hold
of. He must be some one out of
the common--some one with a pull,
I mean,--or the captain of the
Lusitania would never have let
him off before the other passengers.
When are the rest of them coming
"Three specials leave here
at nine o'clock tomorrow morning," was
the reply. "Good night."
The station-master at Crewe
hung up his receiver and went
about his duties. Twenty miles
southward by now, the special
was still tearing its way into
the darkness. Its solitary passenger
had suddenly developed a fit
of restlessness. He left his
seat and walked once or twice
up and down the saloon. Then
he opened the rear door, crossed
the little open space between,
and looked into the guard's brake.
The guard was sitting upon a
stool, reading a newspaper. He
was quite alone, and so absorbed
that he did not notice the intruder.
Mr. Hamilton Fynes quietly retreated,
closing the door behind him.
He made his way once more through
the saloon, passed the attendant,
who was fast asleep in his pantry,
and was met by a locked door.
He let down the window and looked
out. He was within a few feet
of the engine, which was obviously
attached direct to the saloon.
Mr. Hamilton Fynes resumed his
seat, having disturbed nobody.
He produced some papers from
his breast pocket, and spread
them out on the table before
him. One, a sealed envelope,
he immediately returned, slipping
it down into a carefully prepared
place between the lining and
the material of his coat. Of
the others he commenced to make
a close and minute investigation.
It was a curious fact, however,
that notwithstanding his recent
searching examination, he looked
once more nervously around the
saloon before he settled down
to his task. For some reason
or other, there was not the slightest
doubt that for the present, at
any rate, Mr. Hamilton Fynes
was exceedingly anxious to keep
his own company. As he drew nearer
to his journey's end, indeed,
his manner seemed to lose something
of that composure of which, during
the earlier part of the evening,
he had certainly been possessed.
Scarcely a minute passed that
he did not lean sideways from
his seat and look up and down
the saloon. He sat like a man
who is perpetually on the qui
vive. A furtive light shone in
his eyes, he was manifestly uncomfortable.
Yet how could a man be safer
from espionage than he!
Rugby telephoned to Liverpool,
and received very much the same
answer as Crewe. Euston followed
"Who's this you're sending
up tonight?" the station-master
asked. "Special's at Willington
now, come through without a stop.
Is some one trying to make a
record round the world?"
Liverpool was a little tired
of answering questions, and more
than a little tired of this mysterious
client. The station-master at
Euston, however, was a person
to be treated with respect.
"His name is Mr. Hamilton Fynes,
sir," was the reply. "That is
all we know about him. They have
been ringing us up all down the
line, ever since the special
"Hamilton Fynes," Euston repeated. "Don't
know the name. Where did he come
"Off the Lusitania,
"But we had a message three
hours ago that the Lusitania
was not landing her passengers
until tomorrow morning," Euston
"They let our man off in a
tug, sir," was the reply.
"It went down
the river to fetch him. The
want to give him a special at
this time of night, but he just
handed him a note, and we made
things hum up here. He was on
his way in half an hour. We have
had to upset the whole of the
night traffic to let him through
without a stop."
Such a client was, at any rate,
worth meeting. The station-master
brushed his coat, put on his
silk hat, and stepped out on
to the platform.