By C. Langton Clarke (1857-1936).
First appearance: Adventure, February 1911.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
"From back of the tender came the sound of a pistol-shot and a cry of agony."Blood, they say, is thicker than water; sometimes, though, it can be even thicker than the iron-clad strictures of the law . . .
- FictionMags describes C. Langton Clarke: "Editor, journalist and engineer. Born in England; died in Toronto, Canada."
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"Although it may just look like plain ole gravel this stone [ballast] plays a vital role in acting as a support base for the railroad ties and rails as well as allowing for proper drainage of water away from the rails (which is why the stone is always sloped downward and away from track)."
The bottom line: "For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy."
― G. K. C.