The Valley of the Giants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about The Valley of the Giants.
greasy hand grasping the whistle-cord, Zeb would wait until the clock registered exactly six-fifty-nine and a half—­whereupon the seven o’clock whistle would commence blowing, to cease instantly upon the stroke of the hour.  It was old Zeb’s pride and boast that with a single exception, during the sixteen years the clock had been in service, no man could say that Zeb had been more than a second late or early with his whistle-blowing.  That exception occurred when Bryce Cardigan, invading the engine room while Zeb was at luncheon, looped the whistle-cord until the end dangled seven feet above ground.  As a consequence Zeb, who was a short, fat little man, was forced to leap at it several times before success crowned his efforts and the whistle blew.  Thereafter for the remainder of the day his reason tottered on its throne, due to the fact that Bryce induced every mill employee to call upon the engineer and remind him that he must be growing old, since he was no longer dependable!

On the morning following Bryce Cardigan’s return to Sequoia, Zeb Curry, as per custom, started his engine at six-fifty-eight.  That gave the huge bandsaws two minutes in which to attain their proper speed and afforded Dan Kenyon, the head sawyer, ample time to run his steam log-carriage out to the end of the track; for Daniel, too, was a reliable man in the matter of starting his daily uproar on time.

At precisely six fifty-nine and a half, therefore, the engineer’s hand closed over the handle of the whistle-cord, and Dan Kenyon, standing on the steam-carriage with his hand on the lever, took a thirty-second squint through a rather grimy window that gave upon the drying-yard and the mill-office at the head of it.

The whistle ceased blowing, but still Dan Kenyon stood at his post, oblivious of the hungry saws.  Ten seconds passed; then Zeb Curry, immeasurably scandalized at Daniel’s tardiness, tooted the whistle sharply twice; whereupon Dan woke up, threw over the lever, and walked his log up to the saw.

For the next five hours Zeb Curry had no opportunity to discuss the matter with the head sawyer.  After blowing the twelve o’clock whistle, however, he hurried over to the dining-hall, where the mill hands already lined the benches, shovelling food into their mouths as only a lumberman or a miner can.  Dan Kenyon sat at the head of the table in the place of honour sacred to the head sawyer, and when his mouth would permit of some activity other than mastication, Zeb Curry caught his eye.

“Hey, you, Dan Kenyon,” he shouted across the table, “what happened to you this mornin’?  It was sixteen seconds between the tail end o’ my whistle an’ the front end o’ your whinin’.  First thing you know, you’ll be gettin’ so slack an’ careless-like some other man’ll be ridin’ that log-carriage o’ yourn.”

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The Valley of the Giants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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