Page:Ralph on the Railroad.djvu/211

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197
A NEW ENEMY

coincided in the view of the case presented. Turning his back on the free and fearless knight of the lever as if he was dirt under his feet, he took out a pencil and memorandum book.

"I'll look into this matter myself," he said severely. "You say you are a wiper, young man?"

"Yes, sir," assented Ralph.

"Name?"

"Fairbanks—Ralph Fairbanks."

"What—eh? Oh, yes! Ralph Fairbanks."

The young railroader regarded the inspector with positive astonishment as he uttered that sharp startling "What." He was manifestly roused up. Quickly, however, Bardon recovered himself, looked Ralph over with a decided show of interest, seemed secretly thinking of something, and then, fingering over the pages of his memorandum book, appeared looking for a notation, found it apparently, glanced again at Ralph in a sinister way, and said calmly:

"Very well, get your time."

"What is that, sir?" exclaimed Ralph, startled anew.

"Laid off, pending an investigation," added Bardon.

Ralph's heart beat a trifle unsteadily, but he straightened up with decision.