The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 5 (August 1, 1938)
“May I show you two photographs to see if you can recognise them?” asked Lynn.
It was late when Lynn came in. He found Mr. Kay and Cushla still in the sitting-room.
“You are a nice one, Lynn, to stop out all the evening,” said Cushla.
“Couldn't help it. I know I should have asked permission to be excused, instead of vanishing away. Have Mr. Jasper and Wynder gone to bed?”
“I think so,” replied Cushla.
Lynn went over to Mr. Kay. “Do you mind my speaking before Miss Cushla, Mr. Kay?”
“Not at all, Lynn.”
“Well, I want to go with you the day after to-morrow, along the train line, and through the bush to meet Martin at the gate and go the trip with him. I don't want to be seen, and I don't want anyone to know, except your good selves and Mr. Jasper.”
“What's in the wind, Lynn?” asked Kay.
“I may be able to tell you later on, but at present I am contenting myself with precautions.”
“You don't mean to say you are suspicious of any of the men, Lynn?”
The names of people in this story are wholly imaginary, though the incidents referring to some of the employees as being refugees from the Law are true. In the early days the remoteness of some of the mills made it quite possible for “wanteds” to hide in seclusion for many months.
“Don't ask any more, Mr. Kay, but be content that I am doing what I think right in your interests, and remember I may be entirely wrong.”
“This is a bit of a bombshell, Lynn.”
“It hasn't exploded yet, and may be just a dud,” replied Lynn.
Cushla had been listening to all Lynn had said. She admired this stalwart, athletic young man with the open, fresh face and honest eyes—eyes which looked straight at one.
“Don't you go and get into any trouble on our account, Lynn,” said Cushla, “but Dad and I know what has brought you here, and my greatest wish is that you and your father are quite wrong and that every man in the outfit is loyal to the backbone.”
“So soon as I've proved this, Cushla, I'll settle down and be your father's right-hand man. That is, of course, if he will have me.”
“I'll have you all right, Lynn.”
When Lynn had departed, Kay turned to his daughter.
“What do you think of him, Cushla?”
“A little too early to say, Dad, but I like him so far.” And that is all Mr. Kay got out of his daughter.
Lynn was up a little earlier than usual. He wanted to see Mr. Kay by himself. He knew that gentleman went for a dip every morning, so he took his towel and went to the swimming pool. Mr. Kay was just drying himself when Lynn arrived.
“Sorry to bother you so early, but in Miss Cushla's presence last night I did not like to mention that I think it necessary to treble the night watch.”
“Good Lord, Lynn, it's not come to that, has it?”
“Well, the way I look at it is that by the time one man did the round, half the timber could be fired, and if my suspicions are correct a good fire would be a cover to divert attention. page 37 Please give your permission for this to be done. Mr. Hawkins knows the men and you could ask him this morning. There is just one thing. Is it usual for any of your hands to carry loaded revolvers?”
“Not that I know of, though I expect you do, Lynn.”
“You will instruct Hawkins, then, Mr. Kay?”
“Yes, Lynn, I'll tell Jasper to inform him.”
“That's one load off my mind. Now for a swim and after that I'll eat you out of house and home, Mr. Kay.”
Jasper and Lynn went to the office together.
“Don't you forget to point out Higgins to me when the men come for their wages,” said Lynn. Then: “Are these like them at all,” as he placed two photos, on the sloping desk.
“Both have whiskers and these photos, show two clean-shaved, Mr. Kingswell.”
“Now suppose we drew the contour of the face on a piece of white paper and laid it over the lower part of the face—that doesn't alter the photo, much—now suppose I fill in whiskers with ink.”
“By jove! that's clever, Mr. Kingswell.” For without damaging the photo, at all Lynn had transposed it into a face with whiskers.
“Now tell me is that at all like Higgins or Holt?”
“Not like Holt, Mr. Kingswell, but by Jove! it does, in great measure, resemble Higgins.”
After Jasper had described Holt's hirsute appendage, Lynn treated it in the same manner as the other, which produced a marked similarity to Holt.
“You couldn't swear to them, Mr. Jasper?”
“Not beyond a likeness, Mr. Kingswell.”
“Are there any other two men in the outfit that these photos., with my addition, would resemble?”
“Are there any others you could recognise from the unaltered photos.?”
“No, I don't think so, but I've never made a study of them.”
“Well,” said Lynn, “We'll both make a study of Higgins and Holt when they come for their pay to-day.”
Jasper knew his job and there was no confusion.
So the hours passed by and at last Higgins and Holt appeared. They were treated exactly like the others, but Jasper kept Higgins talking as long as he dared, giving Lynn plenty of time unobserved to study their faces. After the business was over both had come to the conclusion they were the wanted men. However, Mr. Kay had said, if they were doing their job all right, and not playing any funny business, they were to be given a chance. Anyhow, Lynn thought that, as now he knew, or was almost certain, an eye could be kept on them.
In the evening Cushla, Mr. Kay and Lynn were left to their own devices.
“Cushla, I suppose you know most of the mill hands better than anyone but Desmond; may I show you two photographs to see if you can recognise them?” asked Lynn.
Cushla looked at them carefully and confessed she did not.
Lynn extracted two drawings from his pocket, laid the photos, on the table and fitted the whiskers in. “Can you tell who they are now?” he asked.
In a moment she recognised them. “Why, Higgins and Holt, Lynn.”
“Mr. Jasper and I are of the same opinion. These men need watching. They won't keep out of mischief long if they are the two beauties I think them to be. To-morrow, I am supposed to be at the bush with your father, but in reality I'm going with Martin. Mr. Kay will agree with me that it's a pretty lonely journey for one man, so I'm going as escort. I don't want anyone else to know.”
“Not Mr. Wynder, Lynn?” asked Cushla.
“No, please, don't even suggest it.”
“You are very mysterious.”
“I've got to be for a little while, Cushla.”
Mr. Kay had said nothing during Lynn's discussion with Cushla. He now turned to Lynn and said: “I sincerely trust you are wrong, but at the same time I believe there are possibilities, and I must say your father could not have sent a better man, but I don't want you to run any risks.”
“Not more than I can possibly help, you may depend, and many thanks for your opinion of me, which I hope Cushla shares.”
“If what we have tried to find out to-night is true there is danger, and I shall be anxious about you, Lynn, until those two gentlemen are removed far from here,” said Cushla.
“I don't think there is the slightest danger in the immediate present,' replied Lynn.
Lynn did not think he had lost anything by doing the trip with Martin, for he made a study of the bad places where the car had to crawl and noted what shelter there was for ambush. He was positive that if any attempt were made to rob, it would be during transport.
Next day at smoko, Lynn sought Desmond.
“So you've come for a smoke, take a seat—at least I could get you a box, Mr. Kingswell.”
“I didn't come only for a smoke. I want you to put me on to some work with or near Higgins or Holt.”
“What's in the wind?” asked Desmond.
“Nothing so far,” replied Lynn. “I want to find out what those two gentlemen are like and cultivate their acquaintance, so to speak, and that is between ourselves.”
“Certainly, Mr. Kingswell. They certainly are a rough looking pair. Most of the hands have nothing to do with them. Anyhow, I'll go with you. There's a stack of 18 ft. 9 in. by 3 in. You will want about five trucks. I'll tell Holt to run them up and Higgins can help load.”
“That's very decent of you, Desmond,” replied Lynn.
The stack in question was about 300 yards away, within five yards of the tram line.page 38 page 39
Not very far away Desmond found the pair of worthies. “Come along. I want you two to help Mr. Kingswell load some timber on the trucks.”
Higgins and Holt came over to the stack.
“It's about the heaviest stack in the yard,” said Higgins.
“Holt, you go down and bring up five trucks. Mr. Kingswell may be a bit new at the game so give him all the help you can with the timber, Higgins. It's pretty heavy stuff.”
With this Desmond departed.
“I'll go up above and pass down, Higgins. I suppose we can make a start on this truck,” said Lynn.
With this he clambered up to the top of the stack.
The first plank came sliding down.
In no time a truck was loaded and another put in its place.
“Holt, if you will help Higgins, I'll stop on the stack,” said Lynn.
A grunt from Holt indicating agreement.
After a while the stack was so reduced that the planks could be pulled off the stack from the ground.
“I say, governor, it's time we had a spell, eh, Holt?”
“You bet, Higgins. This man would work us off our legs. We would soon work ourselves out of a job.”
“You should be much better than I am,” he said. “Don't you think you are lucky to strike a job like this?” continued Lynn.
“Lucky, did you say? I haven't saved a fiver since I've been in the blarmed hole,” returned Higgins.
“Well, I suppose you gamble it away,” said Lynn.
“That's the worst of it. Me and Holt here thought we could take these blighters down, but a fellow never even gets a chance to stack an ace.”
“Cheating is no good, anyhow,” replied Lynn.
“You must be a good boy. You don't look like one—more like a blooming cop.”
“That shouldn't worry you, even if that were true. In any case, I can't imagine men working out here for any criminal purpose.”
“Where do you hail from?” asked Lynn.
“What has that to do with you?” queried Higgins.
“I'm sorry if it's a delicate question, because I've been in places I would not like anyone to know about, and I sympathise.” Then: “Let's get on with the job. Desmond will think we are a great set of loafers,” said Lynn.
“I don't care what he thinks,” ejaculated Higgins.
“Don't you put any value on good opinion?” asked Lynn.
“Very little, so long as we get the boodle.”
They finished loading the stack of timber and Lynn went back to the office. Higgins and Holt remained. They were not anxious to do any more work until after dinner.
“You'd better watch that man,” said Holt. “I'll report to the colonel tonight,” and sure enough he did.
“You are getting jumpy,” said Wynder. “We have just to lie low till Thursday night. You and Holt go on with your work, even reform slightly, if you can. By the way, have you or Holt got any barkers? We may want them. Martin is a bit of a rough customer. He must not get in first. Holt is to get in front of the car and try and halt Martin. You and I will close in from each side; if he puts his hands up, all right. If not, we must not be particular. Have you two got the barkers?”
“Yes, colonel,” replied Higgins.
“Good. To-morrow night, same place.”
(To be continued.)page 40