The third passenger in question had just been in conversation with Sinclair and the latter was telling his wife of their curious meeting. Entering the toilet-room at the rear of the car, he said, he had begun his ablutions by the side of another man, and it was as they were sluicing their faces with water that he heard the cry:
“Why, Major, is that you? Just to think of meeting you here!”
A man of about tweny-eight years of age, slight, muscular, wiry, had seized his wet hand and was wringing it. He had black eyes, keen and bright, swarthy complexion, black hair and mustache. A keen observer might have seen about him some signs of a jeunesse orageuse, but his manner was frank and pleasing. Sinclair looked him in the face, puzzled for a moment.
“Don’t you remember Foster?” asked the man.
“Of course I do,” replied Sinclair. “For a moment I could not place you. Where have you been and what have you been doing?”
“Oh,” replied Foster, laughing, “I’ve braced up and turned over a new leaf. I’m a respectable member of society, have a place in the express company, and am going to Denver to take charge.”
“I am very glad to hear it, and you must tell me your story when we have had our breakfast.”
The pretty young woman was just about to ask who Foster was, when the speed of the train slackened, and the brakeman opened the door of the car and cried out in stentorian tones:
“Pawnee Junction; twenty minutes for refreshments!”
When the celebrated Rocky Mountain gold excitement broke out, more than twenty years ago, and people painted “PIKE’S PEAK OR BUST” on the canvas covers of their wagons and started for the diggings, they established a “trail” or “trace” leading in a southwesterly direction from the old one to California.
At a certain point on this trail a frontiersman named Barker built a forlorn ranch-house and corral, and offered what is conventionally called “entertainment for man and beast.”
For years he lived there, dividing his time between fighting the Indians and feeding the passing emigrants and their stock. Then the first railroad to Denver was built, taking another route from the Missouri, and Barker’s occupation was gone. He retired with his gains to St. Louis and lived in comfort.
Years passed on, and the “extension” over which our train is to pass was planned. The old pioneers were excellent natural engineers and their successors could find no better route than they had chosen. Thus it was that “Barker’s” became, during the construction period, an important point, and the frontiersman’s name came to figure on time-tables. Meanwhile the place passed through a process of evolution which would have delighted Darwin. In the party of engineers which first camped there was Sinclair and it was by his advice that the contractors selected it for division headquarters.