But it was useless. From every side the Indians rushed upon him and bore him to the ground. Still he fought and struggled, and as he fought the air seemed full of strange, wild sounds, of shouts and shots and hoof-beating on the dry, hard earth. He seemed to see, as through a veil, scores of Indians, Indians afoot and on horseback, naked Indians and Indians in soldier clothes. Once he thought he saw a white face gleam just as he got to his feet, but at that moment the big chief stood before him, his battle-axe uplifted. The engineer’s head was whirling. Instinctively he tried to use the strong right arm, but it had lost its cunning. The roar of battle grew apace, the axe descended, the left arm went up and took the blow of the handle, but the edge of the weapon reached over and split the white man’s chin. As he fell heavily to the earth the light went out again.
* * * * *
Save for the stars that stood above him it was still dark when Bradford woke. He felt blankets beneath him, and asked in a whisper: “Who’s here?”
“Major North, me call him,” said the Pawnee scout, who was watching over the wounded man.
A moment later the gallant Major was leaning over Bradford, encouraging him, assuring him that he was all right, but warning him of the danger of making the least bit of noise.
With all his strength and pluck, it took time for Bradford to recuperate. His next work was in Washington, where, with notes and maps, his strong personality and logical arguments, he caused the Government to overrule an expert who wanted to change an important piece of road, and who had arbitrarily fixed the meeting of the mountains and plains far up in the foothills.
When Bradford returned to the West he found that the whole country had suddenly taken a great and growing interest in the transcontinental line. Many of the leading newspapers had dug up their old war correspondents and sent them out to the front.
These gifted prevaricators found the plain, unvarnished story of each day’s work as much as they cared to send in at night, for the builders were now putting down four and five miles of road every working day. Such road building the world had never seen, and news of it now ran round the earth. At night these tireless story-tellers listened to the strange tales told by the trail-makers, then stole away to their tents and wrote them out for the people at home, while the heroes of the stories slept.
The track-layers were now climbing up over the crest of the continent, the locaters were dropping down the Pacific slope, with the prowling pathfinders peeping over into the Utah Valley. Before the road reached Salt Lake City the builders were made aware of the presence, power, and opposition of Brigham Young. The head of the church had decreed that the road must pass to the south of the lake, and as the Central Pacific had surveyed a line that way, and General Dodge had declared in favor of the northern route, the Mormons threw their powerful influence to the Southern. The Union Pacific was boycotted, and all good Mormons forbidden to aid the road in any way.