“Go ahead,” said Peterson; “you was telling about Murphy.”
“Well, that was the situation. I could see that Brown was up on his hind legs about it, but it made me tired, all the same. Of course the job had to be done, but I wasn’t letting him have any satisfaction. I told him he ought to give it to somebody else, and he handed me a lot of stuff about my experience. Finally I said: ’You come around in the morning, Mr. Brown. I ain’t had any sleep to speak of for three weeks. I lost thirty-two pounds,’ I said, ‘and I ain’t going to be bothered tonight.’ Well, sir, he kind of shook his head, but he went away, and I got to thinking about it. Long about half-past seven I went down and got a time-table. There was a train to Stillwater at eight-forty-two.”
“Sure. I went over to the shops with an express wagon and got a thousand feet of rope—had it in two coils so I could handle it—and just made the train. It was a mean night. There was some rain when I started, but you ought to have seen it when I got to Stillwater—it was coming down in layers, and mud that sucked your feet down halfway to your knees. There wasn’t a wagon anywhere around the station, and the agent wouldn’t lift a finger. It was blind dark. I walked off the end of the platform, and went plump into a mudhole. I waded up as far as the street crossing, where there was an electric light, and ran across a big lumber yard, and hung around until I found the night watchman. He was pretty near as mean as the station agent, but he finally let me have a wheelbarrow for half a dollar, and told me how to get to the job.
“He called it fifty rods, but it was a clean mile if it was a step, and most of the way down the track, I wheeled her back to the station, got the rope, and started out. Did you ever try to shove two five hundred foot coils over a mile of crossties? Well, that’s what I did. I scraped off as much mud as I could, so I could lift my feet, and bumped over those ties till I thought the teeth were going to be jarred clean out of me. After I got off the track there was a stretch of mud that left the road by the station up on dry land.
“There was a fool of a night watchman at the power plant—I reckon he thought I was going to steal the turbines, but he finally let me in, and I set him to starting up the power while I cleaned up Murphy’s job and put in the new rope.”
“All by yourself?” asked Peterson.
“Sure thing. Then I got her going and she worked smooth as grease. When we shut down and I came up to wash my hands, it was five minutes of three. I said, ‘Is there a train back to Minneapolis before very long?’ ‘Yes,’ says the watchman, ‘the fast freight goes through a little after three.’ ’How much after?’ I said. ‘Oh,’ he says, ’I couldn’t say exactly. Five or eight minutes, I guess.’ I asked when the next train went, and he said there wasn’t a regular passenger till six-fifty-five. Well, sir, maybe