The Last Spike eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 167 pages of information about The Last Spike.

He related, also, that a man wearing high-cut trousers and milk on his boot had entered his office when he had got to his first position as master-mechanic and held out a hand, smiling, “Vell, you don’t know me yet, ain’t it?  I’m Martin the fireman; I quit ranchin’ already, an’ I want a jobs.”

Martin got a job at once.  He got killed, also, in a little while; but that is part of the business on a new road.

Near the shops at Topeka stands the railroad Young Men’s Christian Association building.  They were enlarging it when I was there.  There are no “saloons” in Kansas, so Player and his company help the men to provide other amusements.


One Sabbath evening, not long ago, I went down to the depot in an Ontario town to take the International Limited for Montreal.  She was on the blackboard five minutes in disgrace.  “Huh!” grunted a commercial traveller.  It was Sunday in the aforesaid Ontario town, and would be Sunday in Toronto, toward which he was travelling.  Even if we were on time we should not arrive until 9.30—­too late for church, too early to go to bed, and the saloons all closed and barred.  And yet this restless traveller fretted and grieved because we promised to get into Toronto five minutes late.  Alas for the calculation of the train despatchers, she was seven minutes overdue when she swept in and stood for us to mount.  The get-away was good, but at the eastern yard limits we lost again.  The people from the Pullmans piled into the cafe car and overflowed into the library and parlor cars.  The restless traveller snapped his watch again, caught the sleeve of a passing trainman, and asked “’S matter?” and the conductor answered, “Waiting for No. 5.”  Five minutes passed and not a wheel turned; six, eight, ten minutes, and no sound of the coming west-bound express.  Up ahead we could hear the flutter and flap of the blow-off; for the black flier was as restless as the fat drummer who was snapping his watch, grunting “Huh,” and washing suppressed profanity down with cafe noir.

Eighteen minutes and No. 5 passed.  When the great black steed of steam got them swinging again we were twenty-five minutes to the bad.  And how that driver did hit the curves!  The impatient traveller snapped his watch again and said, refusing to be comforted, “She’ll never make it.”

Mayhap the fat and fretful drummer managed to communicate with the engine-driver, or maybe the latter was unhappily married or had an insurance policy; and it is also possible that he is just the devil to drive.  Anyway, he whipped that fine train of Pullmans, cafe, and parlor cars through those peaceful, lamplighted, Sabbath-keeping Ontario towns as though the whole show had cost not more than seven dollars, and his own life less.

Project Gutenberg
The Last Spike from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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