* * * * *
At ten o’clock that night Engine 266, Williams, engineer, and Blackmar, fireman, was chalked up on the Red Butte Western roundhouse bulletin-board to go west at midnight with the new superintendent’s service-car, running as a special train.
Svenson, the caller, who brought the order from the Copah sub-despatcher’s office, unloaded his news upon the circle of R.B.W. engineers, firemen, and roundhouse roustabouts lounging on the benches in the tool-room and speculating morosely upon the probable changes which the new management would bring to pass.
“Ve bane got dem new boss, Ay vant to tal you fallers,” he drawled.
“Who is he?” demanded Williams, who had been looking on sourly while the engine-despatcher chalked his name on the board for the night run with the service-car.
“Ay couldn’t tal you his name. Bote he is dem young faller bane goin’ ‘round hare dees two, t’ree days, lukin’ lak preacher out of a yob. Vouldn’d dat yar you?”
Williams rose up to his full height of six-feet-two, and flung his hands upward in a gesture that was more expressive than many oaths.
“Collars-and-Cuffs, by God!” he said.
THE RED DESERT
In the beginning the Red Desert, figuring unpronounceably under its Navajo name of Tse-nastci—Circle-of-Red-Stones—was shunned alike by man and beast, and the bravest of the gold-hunters, seeking to penetrate to the placer ground in the hill gulches between the twin Timanyoni ranges, made a hundred-mile detour to avoid it.
Later, the discoveries of rich “pocket” deposits in the Red Butte district lifted the intermontane hill country temporarily to the high plane of a bonanza field. In the rush that followed, a few prudent ones chose the longer detour; others, hardier and more temerarious, outfitted at Copah, and assaulting the hill barrier of the Little Pinons at Crosswater Gap, faced the jornada through the Land of Thirst.
Of these earliest of the desert caravans, the railroad builders, following the same trail and pointing toward the same destination in the gold gulches, found dismal reminders. In the longest of the thirsty stretches there were clean-picked skeletons, and they were not always the relics of the patient pack-animals. In which event Chandler, chief of the Red Butte Western construction, proclaimed himself Eastern-bred and a tenderfoot by compelling the grade contractors to stop and bury them.
Why the railroad builders, with Copah for a starting-point and Red Butte for a terminus, had elected to pitch their head-quarters camp in the western edge of the desert, no later comer could ever determine. Lost, also, is the identity of the camp’s sponsor who, visioning the things that were to be, borrowed from the California pioneers and named the halting-place on the desert’s edge “Angels.” But for the more material details Chandler was responsible. It was he who laid out the division yards on the bald plain at the foot of the first mesa, planting the “Crow’s Nest” head-quarters building on the mesa side of the gridironing tracks, and scattering the shops and repair plant along the opposite boundary of the wide right-of-way.