Page:Ralph on the Railroad.djvu/208

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"Cut off the two last cars," he ordered to his brakeman, turning his back on Bardon and starting back for his engine to pull out.

"Hold on," ordered the inspector.

The engineer halted with a sullen, disrespectful face.

"Well?" he projected.

"Who's to blame in this smash up?"

"Tain't me, that's dead sure," retorted the engineer, with a careless shrug of his shoulders, "and we'll leave it to the yardmaster to find out."

"I want to find out," spoke Bardon incisively—"I am here to do just this kind of thing. Can't you read a signal right?" he demanded of the brakeman.

The latter smiled a lazy smile, lurched amusedly from side to side, took a chew of tobacco, and counter-questioned:

"Can't you?"

Mr. Bardon, inspector, was getting scant courtesy shown him all around, and his eyes flashed. He deigned to glance at the first switch. It was set wrong, he could detect that at a glance.

"How's this?" he called to the one-armed switchman sharply. "You're responsible here."

"I reckon not, cap'n," answered the man lightly. "The switch is set on rule. I got no signal to change it."