HE November sunshine came in through
the grimy panes,
where a belated fly
was buzzing drearily.
The jury, worn out
with their three days'
service in the case, were half-dozing in
the box. The deputy sheriff, a little man
with a big mustache and a fierce manner
walked down from his seat on the platform near the clerk's desk, and opened
the door of the iron stove. Then he
stirred the embers with a stout hickory-pole, and pitched in the butt-cut of an
oak-log; the sparks flew in showers the
stove-door was shut with a bang; the
deputy climbed into that elevated seat of
torture, the witness-stand, which was
reached by a narrow flight of steps, and
surveyed the court-room. The only
noise audible was the loud hum of the
replenished fire and the monotonous
voice of the portly lawyer for the railroad-company, as he read from the slips
of paper which he held in his hands.
The dust was thick upon the three
portraits of eminent legal functionaries
of the local bar, long since departed this
life, that hung from precarious nails
above the judge's head. The furniture
of the room was primitive and worn, and
the clerk's desk and sheriff's box alike
were scarred with the carvings of idle
jack-knives. The atmosphere was close
and unpleasant, and yet there was a
crowd congregated there, for the case
was one that had excited peculiar interest
in the little country-town.
The deputy-sheriff, whose mind was
never perfectly at rest except when his
body was actively engaged, moved down
from the witness-chair at an inopportune
moment, and, seeing Mr. Bamford, the
railroad lawyer, pause and look at him
over his spectacles, called out, as if in
"Silence in co'te!"
Bamford, who, in spite of his stalwart
form and ample girth, was nervous and
easily thrown off his balance, glared
fiercely at the little deputy, looked at the
judge with an expression of despair, took
off his spectacles and laid them upon the
written memoranda be had placed before
him on the bar, and pulled out a huge
white handkerchief, like a flag of truce, as
though to say:
"Well, what's the use? I give it up!"
The judge, however, had no sympathy
with nervousness, and these dramatic
performances on the part of counsel only
served to anger him. He said, impatiently, "Oh! go on."
And Mr. Bamford, dropping his handkerchief, picked up his spectacles and his
notes, and proceeded.
The deputy in the meanwhile, considerably abashed, crept back to his seat near
the desk of his friend the clerk, and
queried of that worthy over the intervening railing, "Ain't old Bamford a durned
The clerk, to whom the prolonged examination of witnesses had brought an
agreeable respite from work, acquiesced
with a nod of his head, and went on rolling and unrolling a sheet of legal-cap
paper, through which, in its telescopic
shape, he looked now and then at Mr.
Bamford, with the malicious purpose of
attracting his attention and exciting his
nervous ire. But he was out of the focus of the lawyer's spectacles; and Mr.
Bamford continued to read his instructions prosily and deliberately. Mr. Hyke,
the counsel for the plaintiff, had already
taken occasion to express his fine scorn
of the idea of "instructing" such a jury
as the one he saw before him. He was
"perfectly willing to commit the case as
it stood, without a word from the court,
and even without argument, to the untrammelled judgment of so intelligent a
body of men; whose superiors, in fact,
in his four years' practice he had never
yet seen in that box."
His wily adversary, recognizing Hyke's
transparent trick, had exposed it with
much ridicule to the jury - one of whom
had been observed to smile broadly.
"Gentlemen," Mr. Bamford had said,
"you have all heard the story of the boy
in the big road, with his wagon-load of
hay upset, and making a great outcry
for help. He didn't care a cent about
the hay, gentlemen - oh, no! But the
reason be hollered was, his dad was under it. Mr. Hyke don't care about instructions, gentlemen of the jury - but
he's hollering all the same. Gentlemen
of the jury" - leaning forward confidentially, and speaking in a stage-whisper,
"Hyke's dad is under the hay."
Mr. Hyke, who was taking notes in a
tablet on his knee, regarded his adversary with a twinkle in his eye and a
good-humored smile on his lips. There
was one thing about Hyke which always
gave him a great advantage in a fight
before a jury, and that was, be never got
mad. This equanimity and easy composure were woefully lacking in the tall and
rotund and pompous Bamford, who regarded Hyke at all times with a decided
The judge yawned wearily as Mr. Bamford proceeded with his reading, and
gazed now and then through the grimy
window-panes into the street beyond.
There was nothing to interest him in
that quarter, however, for the two canvas-covered wagons that went by, laden with
back-country produce, were no unusual
sight, and the people on the plank sidewalks drifted rapidly past in the whirlwind of dust that a stiff November breeze
was raising and shaking over everything.
"Let me see your instructions, Mr.
Bamford," he said at length. Then, turning to the jury:
"Gentlemen of the jury, you are adjourned until ten o'clock to-morrow
morning. Be prompt in your attendance
at that hour. In the meantime, do not
speak to anyone, and do not allow anyone to speak to you, about this case."
He glanced over the written slips
which the deputy-sheriff had handed him,
returned them to the older lawyer, leaned
back in his chair with another yawn, and
gazed once more wearily out the window.
The jury filed through the room, and
when they were gone, he said:
Taking up the knotty legal points suggested by the memoranda of the defendant's counsel, the two lawyers in turn besieged the bench with quibble and quirk,
until the audience of whites down-stairs
became bored and gradually melted
away, to gather in little groups in the
court-house yard and discuss the testimony and speculate on the result.
"It's a-gwine ter be a hung jury," said
a man with a late straw-hat and a big
nose. "Jim Rogerson ain't a-gwine
ter give no verdic' 'gin' a railroad-copperation. I've heerd him allow as copperations nuvver gits jestis fom farmers
on a jury, nohow. He'll stay up thar in
that jury-room fur a week, afo' he'll give
in. Thar ain't no bull-headeder man in
the county than Jim Rogerson."
"I dunno 'bout Jim Rogerson, but ef
I war on that jury I'd give that man
every cent he claims, an' mo', too," said
a younger man, who was braving the
November gusts in a linen jacket and
corduroy pantaloons, "an' I ain't no farmer, nuther. I don't blame the farmers
fur bein' agin' the railroads, thet's al'ays
a-killin' of thar stohck, an' nuvver pays
'ceptin' at the p'int
o' the law - an' al'ays
wants the bigges'
price fur haulin' of
thar wheat an' truck
ter market, beca'se
they've got the monopoly. I'm with the
people agin' the copperations."
The speaker was
president of the local
debating society, and had political aspirations.
"I cudden give no verdict agin' the
comp'ny on that feller Horgan's evidence," chimed in a third; "he conterdicted Flandroe flat-footed on the witness-stan'."
And so the battle was waged outside
the court-room, while within Bamford
read, for the tenth time:
"If the jury believe from the evidence
until even the negroes, who
thronged the galleries through love of
forensic contest and with a keen appreciation of the grateful warmth of the
place, could stand the tedium of the
legal argument no longer, and ebbed outward, too, to hang about the steps, or
listen open-mouthed to the debaters in
"Dat ar man gwi' talk dat jedge ter
death in dar, sho!" said one of them, as
they emerged into the outer air. "I
ain't nuvver heard nothin', 'scusin' of a
thrashin'-machine, as cud keep up wid
dat Mr. Bamford."
Still, here and there in the galleries a
man and brother lingered, overtaken by a
not unwelcome somnolence, and sleeping
bolt upright on the hard bench, with nodding and wavering head. Occasionally a
gentle snore, that grew gradually into a
series of startling snorts, came down to
the seat of justice, incongruously breaking in upon some microscopical distinction which the lawyers were drawing between the meanings of words. The
deputy-sheriff - who was munching an
apple, again stalked down from his elevation at the sound from the sleeper.
twirled his big mustache, looked up
fiercely into the gallery, tapped vigorously with the haft of his knife upon the iron
stove, and in a sharp treble gave utterance to the seemingly irrelevant command:
"Walk light, upsta'rs, thar!"
The drowsy snorer opened his eyes
with a start, blinked solemnly down at
the deputy, and in a few moments was
THE clerk had begun to enter a decree
in his chancery order-book. The dozen
or more spectators who yet lingered in
the warm atmosphere of the room were
either asleep or drowsily indifferent to
what was passing. Beyond the judge,
and the two lawyers, Bamford and Hyke,
behind the bar, backed up by a sprinkling of idle young barristers who chewed
tobacco languidly and gave indifferent attention to the discussion, there was only
one man who seemed to be interested in
the present phase of the case. He sat
near Mr. Hyke's chair, and at intervals
looked at that gentleman with an expression that betokened anxiety to ascertain
what impression Bamford's speech was
making on him.
With a brain unaccustomed to active
execution outside of a fixed routine, this
man had been striving to follow the legal
subtleties of the learned counsel for the
defendant company, that ran like tangled
threads through his ingenious argument,
and taxed the trained mind of the judge
himself. He very soon felt that the effort
was more than futile, and so he gave it
up. contenting himself with eying in turn
the court, Mr. Bamford, and Mr. Hyke.
He was a striking figure, standing, when
erect, some six feet in his stockings; and
his build was massive and vigorous.
From under the weather-beaten forehead
keen, though kindly, black eyes looked
out beneath shaggy brows, and the lines
about the mouth, half-hidden in a fringe
of thin iron-gray mustache and heavier
beard, indicated resolute firmness and decision.
He was a lieutenant of cavalry in
the great rebellion, promoted from the
ranks for gallantry in battle, and in his day
had faced danger in many forms. That
scar on the side of his bronzed check was
made there by a Federal sabre years ago,
but the lost right arm where the empty
sleeve hung did not lie
on any battle-field. He
was James Flandroe, plaintiff
in the pending
cause that stood on
the docket in the style
of "Flandroe vs. The
Southern Railroad Company."
As he sat there, his
mind wandered from
the scene before him to
a cabin in the pine-flats
of a county two hundred
miles to the South, where his wife and
children were waiting for news of the verdict, and wondering if the railroad company could ever be made to pay even a
pittance for the loss of that strong arm,
without which the future offered them but
a barren prospect.
"Mr. Rife 'lows ye'd better see ef ye
can t settle it outside'n the law, daddy,"
his oldest son had said to him before he
brought his suit; "he 'lows that mebbe
the comp'ny'll give ye a place whar ye
kin use yer arm that's soun', an whar ye
won't be in no danger no mo'. Ef they'd
make a job fur George Horgan 'long o'
his hurt foot, Mr. Rife says he reck'ns
they mought do sump'n 'nuther fur you.
He says as he's heern tell as it don't pay
fur ter fight railroads in law; an' he
'lowed at the post-office. Saturday, ter Jim
Dollins, that even ef ye didn't git casted
in the suit, yer lieyers 'ud chowzle ye
out a what the law gin ye. He says ye
better see ef you can't fix it up, outside'n
the lau', 'thout feein' of a lieyer."
Wherefore Flandroe went up to the
Cross Roads Store, where Jamison dispensed the scanty mail-matter of the
neighborhood over the same counter on
which he sold his groceries and drygoods.
It was the scene of Squire Rife's warrant-trials on every alternate Saturday - and
that worthy's office on other days for the
writing of deeds and wills, the judicial determination of whose meaning and legal
effect made many a case for the lawyers
at the court-house. But in spite of the
fact that Squire Rife was the involuntary
author of so much litigation in the county-side, his reputation as "a judge o' the
law" was wide-spread, and his advice
was sought on "law-p'ints" by many
who, with strong scruples against "a-feein' of a lieyer," often had subsequent
reason to regret it.
He heard Flandroe through, and then,
with grave deliberation, delivered himself
of his opinion in the premises, from the
dry-goods box where he sat whittling a
bit of white-pine:
"I wudden give it to no lieyer. Jim.
The lieyers'll chowzle ye. Ye'd better go
down ter the headquarters, an' see ef yer
can't get 'em ter compermise it. I've seed
a heap o' the workin's o' these yer copperations in tryin' of cow-cases in my
co'te. Ef ye gits ter lawin' with 'em,
they al'ays fights it up ter the last place.
A po' man don't stan' no mo' chance a-lawin' of a railroad-comp'ny than a
bumble-bee stan's in a tarbucket."
The assembled crowd, waiting for the
distribution of the mail, greeted the simile with applause. and nodded and smiled
at each other in approval of the squire's
sage advice. And so Flandroe made a
journey to the office of the general superintendent in the city of W -, which is
the company's southern terminus. But
the corporation that he had served for
thirty-six consecutive years. barring the
four when be rode with Jeb Stuart, had
turned a deaf ear to him. His skill and
experience as an engineer were worthless
to it without the right arm which enforced
them; and there were plenty of younger
men with whole limbs who were ready
and eager to take the vacant place. The
corporation had no position to offer him,
unless he was willing to take the post of
watchman in the yard at Tyron; and the
salary connected with it was very small.
This is a matter of business with us,"
the superintendent had told him; "railroads can indulge in no foolish sentimentality, you know. Of course, we are
sorry for you, but past services don't
make new dividends, and that's what we
are working for. The man we employ
must give a full equivalent for his wages;
and his worth to us is measured solely in
dollars and cents. An engineer with his
right arm gone isn't of much account as
an engineer, Mr. Flandroe. The only
thing that he can do is to take some such
position as the one the company is willing
to give you, on a release by you of all
claim for damages."
This cool alternative of a summary dismissal, without compensation for his
great loss, or else a job at starvation-wages, staggered Flandroe for a moment. He had not looked for such treatment at the hands of his employers. It
was no matter of sentiment with him,
either; but one of simple justice. He bad
served this company a lifetime, and now
that it had maimed him and destroyed
his usefulness, it proposed to turn him
off to die like a dog in a ditch. His eyes
blazed, and be shook his left hand fiercely
at the superintendent, who leaned back in
his cushioned chair and smiled at the indignant old man's threat "ter put the law
"Crack your whip, then," he said in
reply, and waved his hand to Flandroe in
token that the interview was at an end.
The mutilated old man went back to
the little town near the scene of his misfortune, and consulted Lawyer Hyke.
who, after telling him that a corporation
is a creature of the law which has neither
a soul to be damned nor a body to be
kicked, and is worthy of the contempt and
hatred of all mankind, proceeded to
make copious memoranda of Flandroe's
narrative of the accident. Then he
looked into a number of books, and said
to the would-be suitor that he had "a
fighting chance," with the odds against
him; and advised him to see if he could
compromise the case.
"Find out what's the best they'll do for
you. They've got a way of making black
look white with their evidence; and they
can prove anything. You understand
what I mean? In your case, for example, all the testimony as to the accident must necessarily be that of men in
the company's service, except, of course,
your own. Nobody else knows anything
about it, you know. Now, how many of
those men have got families? Where do
they, get their bread and meat? How
many others, capable and efficient, are
waiting to slip into their places as soon as
they become vacant? And don't the
railroad-employee know it? And don't
the company know that he knows it?"
Flandroe was half-dazed with the lawyer's volubility; but be saw the point,
and nodded his head despondingly.
"It's human nature," Hyke went on,
"and I reckon we can't blame 'em. But,
understand me - and I always like to
make this point clear when I discuss
a railroad-case with a client - I don't
mean to say that witnesses in these cases
are always, or even usually, directly coerced. I don't mean to charge that; the
bosses are too sharp for that. But I do
say that these fellows feel the pressure
behind them in a way that makes them
regard things from a different stand-point than that from which, under ordinary circumstances, they would look at
them. You understand me?"
Flandroe nodded again. Then he
"But thar ain't no use a-foolin' 'bout
a compermise, lieyer; I've done tried 'em
on that, an' they've done tried me, an'
we can't come tergether. I went down
thar an' I seen the sup'intendent, an' he
offered me a job that 'ud skasely do ter
starve on by myse'f, let alone my wife an
child'n. I tole him it looked ter me like
the wuss a fellow gits hurt the slacker
the job the company wants him ter take.
George Horgan got a heap better place
than they was a-willin' ter give me - an'
him jes' a fireman with a mashed foot."
"If they hadn't given Horgan that
place we would have had a dead open-and-shut case on 'em," said the lawyer.
"Oh, we could have smoked 'em! We'd
have gotten big damages. But they are
smart, those fellows. Horgan's got all
the points about that switchman as
clearly as you have. They gave him
that place to shut his mouth. He knows
the whole truth, if he'd only tell it."
"George'll tell it! he'll tell the truth,
lieyer; thar ain't no manner o' doubt o'
that. He'll sing it out, an' thar won't be
no more' stoppin' o' him than stoppin' o'
the pop-valve on that old Mogul o' mine
'twel she stops berse'f. I knows him."
"I don't," said the lawyer. with a sneer,
"but I'll agree to take down my shingle
if, when be comes to tell the truth in this
case, the truth's most intimate friend
can recognize it. I tell you, it's human
nature for him to save his own hide, and
he's going to do it."
The next day the suit was entered.
The term of the trial-court came on
rapidly. The issue was made up, the
jury drawn and empanelled. and the evidence heard. Employee after employee
of the company took the stand for the
defendant; and, in spite of Hyke's ingenious cross-examination, Flandroe's faith
that law always means justice continued to waver in the balance. During
the argument on the instructions to the
jury. his spirits sank as he heard Mr.
Bamford read from his books case after
case to show that servants of a railway-corporation, injured by default of a
fellow - servant, ought not to recover
damages. But they were correspondingly elevated when Hyke flatly contradicted the statement of his adversary
that the cases be had cited were applicable to the one at bar; and in turn
hurled precedent and citation at the
court's head, in quick succession, in support of his own theory and position.
Perplexed with these subtle matters of
the law, he was stricken with an involuntary and sudden pang at the recollection of how his fireman had "gone
back" on him from the witness-stand.
"The lieyer was right, though I hadn'
thought it. He run with me two year,
an' I larnt him as much as mos' fus'-class
engine-eers knows, all' thar warn't nothin'
I wudden ha' done fer George Horgan.
Now what do I git fur it?"
Stern in his devotion to truth and
honesty, the grim old man could not adjust the fireman's story of the accident
to the requirements of the oath which
he saw him take on the greasy-backed
little Bible there on the clerk's desk;
and even his extended charity was lacking in breadth to cover the transgression of Horgan's narrative.
"He didn' tell the whole truth an'
nothin' but it, fyar an' squar', by no manner o' means," he said to himself. "He
didn' let it all out, like a man; but he
kep' back what would 'a' holp me. I
wudden 'a' helt nothin' back, ef he hed
been a-lawin' the road fer that hurt leg
o' his'n, even ef it bad cost me ten jobs
like that they gin him, an' the old 'ooman
an' the chaps ter boot, let alone a gal I
was a-courtin'. I cudden ha' kissed thet
book an' tole thet tale, an' uvver looked
fur the Almighty ter smile on me no mo'.
I cudden ha' done it. I'd 'a' out with it,
no matter whar it hit. But I dunno.
Mebbe them thar lieyers side-tracked him
with their everlastin' queshtuns, an' ef so,
he warn't so pow'ful much ter blame."
As they left the court-room. when the
adjournment came for the day, Flandroe
walked out behind his lawyer, who staggered under a load of books.
"I think we've got 'em. Jim." Hyke
said, exultingly, "even though that d----d
rascal of a Horgan did go back on you.
If the judge don't kick those instructions out to-morrow I'll take down that
shingle of mine, sure enough."
And away he went, to delve into his
notes of the evidence, and get up his
appeal to the jury on the next day.
Flandroe observed George Horgan
standing near the door, and approached
him. His late fireman started to hobble
off as be saw him coming. but the old
man stopped him:
Horgan glanced nervously up, then
averted his face and hung his head.
Two or three by-standers drew near, with
eager curiosity. Flandroe said:
"I hadn' 'a' thought ye'd 'a' evidenced
agin me that-a-way."
The man winced, and answered in a
low voice, without looking up:
"I didn't want fur ter do ye no harm,
Jim; but the comp'ny summonsed me,
an' I was 'bleest fur ter come."
IN front of his cabin among the pines,
two hundred miles away from the little
town in whose court-house the case
Flandroe vs. The Southern Railroad
Company had been strenuously fought
by both sides, and won at last by Hyke,
the plaintifs energetic little red-haired,
bullet-headed, snub-nosed attorney, Jim
Flandroe was sitting in the sunshine.
His robust strength bad left him; the
bronzed face had grown pale and haggard, and the iron-gray of his beard
bad faded to a rusty white. The loss of
his arm had diminished his vitality; and
his mind had been for months past tormented with apprehension lest his case
should go against him in the appellate
court, to which his defeated adversary
had taken it.
His lawyer had told him that the
judges of the Supreme Court would not
hear the oral evidence of the witnesses,
but would make up their opinion from
the record which the trial-court had certified up to them. This information had
increased his fear of an adverse decision.
"They can't tell nothin' 'bout it,
'thouten they see me with this yer stump,
an' let me show 'em bow the whole thing
happened. An' they can't jedge how it's
sapped my strent', 'theuten they cud
look at me, an' have somebody that
knowed tell 'em the difference 'twix' the
machine that I used ter be an' this yer
old wreck tbat'll nuvver be out on the
run no mo'."
The successful issue of his case in the
trial-court had mitigated whatever soreness Horgan's testimony had caused, and
in its present aspect be took comfort in
the knowledge that his former fireman
would not be compelled to repeat his unfair evidence.
"George was al'ays a tender-earted
sort of a boy," be said, "an' I reck'n he
meant right, only he didn' have the sand
in the box to run on orders. I'm really
down glad the comp'ny ain't a-gwine ter
call on him fur ter lie fur 'em twicet ter
pay fur that slack job o' night-watchman
at Smoky Tunnel. I'm sorry fur George,
bein' as how I've heern tell that the gal
wudden marry him arter all he'd done
fur ter keep a job on the road. Some
'lowed that she got mad at him 'ca'se he
lied on the trial; but t'others says she
didn' want ter hitch onter no cripple."
His mind was constantly upon the
case, and the details of it had grown to
be more than familiar to the members of
It's been two year sence I got hurt,
come June," he one day said, "an' the
case is still a-hangin' on - al'ays put off
an put off, 'long o' the railroad, fur
sump'n or 'nuther. Gittin out o' law
ain't as easy as gittin' inter it - leastways
ef you're agin' a railroad-copperation.
"Two year, an' thar's skasely a night
in all that time that I bain't dreamed o'
runnin' on the Northern Division. Sometimes it's one lay o' the track, an' then
ag'in another. But it seems like I'm on
the old Mogul, all the while, a-feelin' of
her shakin' an' a-quiverin' from whar I
sets in the cab, like a race-boss under the
line. An' George is al'ays with me, up
thar on his box on t'other side. when she's
on the level or a~rollin' on the down-grade,
an' a-heavin' in coal when she's on the up
an' the smoke's a-flyin'. I reck'n it's all
in my mind so much endurin' o' the day,
that I'm beholden fur ter dream 'bout it
Shading his face with his hand, as
though peering at some object in the distance, be continued:
"The track's al'ays afo' me, an' I'm
constant a-lookin' out fur sump'n on it.
I used ter cud see a pig betwixt the rails
as fur as the next one, but, somehow,
these old eyes are gittin' dimmer. I tell
ye, it takes a power o' nerve fur ter run a
ingine, ef I do say it, that run one these
thirty year. I don't mean ter brag, for I
kep' the fear o' God afo' me, an' jes' done
the best I cud for the comp'ny, come
what would. But it was a ticklish business, an' it skeers me sometimes now,
when I looks back at it.
"Ye've got ter have faith in Goddle-mighty then, sure, a-swingin' up an' down
them mount'n-sides, dark nights or bright,
when a rock on the track f'om a landslide
'u'd fling the whole caboodle down the
mount'n an' inter kingdom come afo' you'd
know it. Ye're 'bleest ter keep a steady
han' an' a keen eye; but mo'n that, ye're
'bleesten ter b'lieve thar's somebody bigger'n the president o' the road or the
gen'al supe'intendent a-backin' of ye up.
Ef ye don't, ye ain't no fittin' man fur ter
run a lightnin'-express on that division,
that's all; though thar's many a one that
ain't nuvver looked at it that-a-way. God
he'p 'em, when thar time comes.
"I kep' that notion fo'mos' in my head
all the years I druv an ingine, an' most of
all when I had that passenger Mogul. I
reck'n I cuden a' shet it out ef I had tried,
which I didn't. It was strong on me las'
night, strong as it al'ays used ter be on
me in them times when I run through
Smoky Tunnel. That thar hole in the
muunt'n is nigh onter a mile long; an' on
the up-grade, goin' South, as ye start
inter the mouth of it, the man in the cab
that can fergit the Lord that made him
mus be built en a cur'us patent Overhead an' all aroun' an' about ye thar's
darkness an' furss; an' coal-smoke gits in
yer eyes, an' in yer nose an' in yer mouf;
an' fur off at the een' thar's a leetle teenchy speck o' light like the p'int of a
needle. Ye can't see the track, ye can't
hear yerse'f talk; thar ain't nothin' fur ye
ter do, 'thouten it is ter have faith an' let
her go. An' then, that thar speck o' light
grows on ye, an keeps gittin' bigger'n
bigger; an' the smoke an' the racket
don't bother ye so much as they did at
fust. Then ye begin ter ree-collec' thar's
a 'een' ter the Smoky Tunnel out thar beyant. that ye'll git ter bimeby. An' it
comes acrost yer mind that thar ain't no
purtier valley in the worrul than the one
jes' ter the tunnel's foot at t'otber side,
whether ye glimge it by night, when the
moon is shinin' on the fogs that half-way
hides it, or whether ye see it in the daylight, when ye can feller the windin' roads
like cow-paths, an' the creeks, an' the
branches that leek like slips o' silver ribbens in the sun.
"I used ter al'ays think o' heaven when
I seen Los' Gap Valley, beca'se comin'
through Smoky Tunnel 'peared somehow
ter fetch up ter my mind the dark and
onsartin way o' life."
IT was half-past nine o'clock of an evening in June, and the first section of Number Thirteen was due at Kayten Station,
one mile south of Smoky Tunnel and
overlooking the beautiful valley of Lost
Gap. In the telegraph office up-stairs
the instruments were ticking rapidly;
while in the depot below were seated some
half-dozen men, dressed in blue jean
blouses and overalls, with picks and
shovels and tool-kits and lanterns at their
feet. They were railroad-hands who had
been at work in the tunnel, and were now
waiting for the incoming freight-train to
take them home.
"I heerd as how Flandroe los' his case,"
said one. "What makes me think of it
is, 'twas jes' about this time a year that
Fifty-seven was wrecked out thar by the
"Los' his case? That can't he," said
another. who was known to his comrades
as Long Tim. "I ree-collec' how old
man Bamford snorted when the jury
come in. They gin him six thousan' dollars. I war thar at the trial an' heern it
all. The comp'ny summonsed me, but
they didn' put me on. I knowed nothin'
mo' 'bout it than what Mike Dunlap tole
me afe' the comp'ny run him off down
South; an' Bamford 'lowed that they
didn' want that, an' cudden have it ef
they did, bein' as it was hearsay."
"Yes, but they tells me the comp'ny tuk
the case up higher; an' that the big court
down ter Richmon' busted old Jim up
wusser'n uvver Mike Dunlap done when
he opened the switch that night, like a
sleepy-head fool that he was. They tuk'n
tuk the las' cent away fom him. I got it
f'om George Horgan. He says Cap'n
Hemstone fotch the news up fom the junction ter-day en Number One. He 'lows
they say Flandroe got hurt 'long of a fellow-sarvant, or some sich foolishness, an'
that it ain't law fer the comp'ny ter pay."
"Well I'm sorry for old Jim," said one
of the men who had not before spoken;
"I seen a heap of him when I war in the
yard at Tyron; an' it's my jedgmen' thar
warn't no better man to han'le a ingine on
the road. That's what they all said -
Cap'n Bigby, an' all on 'em thar."
"I reck'n George Horgan feels sorter
put out 'bout his evi-dence," said Long
Tim. "I've heerd tell that the lieyers all
'lowed that what George said at the trial
hurt Jim's case wusser'n anything else."
"I dunno," replied the man who had
first spoken, a low, thick-set fellow with
a bushy brown beard, whose name was
Brand; "he's al'ays a-comin' over the
case; 'pears like he can't let up on it.
He was pew'ful cut up t'other day when
somebody tole him bow low-down an'
feeble the old man was a-gittin'."
"Yes, he's talked ter me 'bout the old
man failin'. It 'pears ter sorter lay onter
his mind. He can't be alongside o' ye
five minutes afo' he's a-tellin' ye that he's
l'arnt that Jim Flandroe's purty po'ly,
and pow'ful hard run for money ter live
en. He axed me this mornin' ef I hadn'
heerd it," said another one of the men.
Who's runnin' Fifty-seven now, anyhow?" queried Brand.
"She ain't nuvver come out o' the
shops sence the last accident ter her.
Thar ain't no wages 'u'd make me run on
that old Mogul, gen'lemen, ef I war an ingine-driver. No, sirree! John Brice get
his leg bruk en her at Payson's Bridge,
an' Henry Dexter was hurt in the back
the night she smashed inter Number One
at Stapleses. The boys is all a-gittin'
mistrus'ful of her, they tell me; an they're
mighty right. She's onlucky, an' I've
heern a heap on 'em say they wudden
travel behine her, not for no pay."
"I reck'n the comp'ny better keep her
in the shops," said Brand. "They ain't
a-gwine ter fine no ingineer on this yer
division fur ter drive her no mo'."
"What's the matter with George?"
asked one of the party, sitting nearest the
window, and starting up; "he's jes' went
pas' the window with his lantern like a
streak o' lightnin'. I nuvver thought he cud
git over groun' that fas' en his game leg."
"Twudden 'sprise me ef George was
a-drinkin'," Long Tim said, in an undertone, to his next neighbor. "I think he's
got sump'n 'nuther en his mine. I dunno
ef it's beca'se Sal Desper kicked him an
married Hinksley, or ef it's the old trouble
long o' his evi-dence 'g'in Jim Flandroe.
Ef it gits ter Bigby that he's a-samplin'
the bug-juice, he'll fire him out o' his job
afo' he can bat his eye."
Up above, in the telegraph-office, the
instruments continued to tick merrily.
The first section of Number Thirteen was
on time, and due in twenty minutes. The
operator was at his desk, with the fore-finger of one hand on the key and a pen
in the other, when the man who had just
passed the window came hobbling and
stumbling into the depot, and, hurrying
past the men who were waiting there,
went up-stairs toward the telegraph-office.
As he passed, he called out:
"For God's sake, boys! thar's a-gwine
ter be a cullision three mile south, ef
Thirteen's on time."
What's the matter?" they asked,
breathlessly and in chorus, and tumbled
up the steps after him, kicking over tool-kits and lanterns as they went. Long
Tim, who had just expressed a doubt of
the speaker's sobriety, was leading the
With ghastly face and shortened breath
Horgan hobbled on, and flung the door
of the telegraph-office wide open. The
gang of workmen pressed in behind him
as the operator, looking up in astonishment and anger, exclaimed:
"Well, what in the h-ll's broke loose
The reply was a contra-query from
"What train was that just went by?"
"Train? what are you talking about?"
asked the now astounded operator.
"That express train that went south
little while ago. I met her betwixt here
an' the tunnel. I signalled for her ter
stop with my lantern, but she went on
like makin' up los' time. She was fyarly
a-sailin.' She'll smash damnation out o'
"Have you got the mikes, or are you
a natural-born fool?" asked the operator, with increasing wrath. "You know
no train has gone by here for thirty minutes."
The night-watchman looked about him
in a dazed fashion, and passed his hand
over his eyes. Shadows of superstitious
awe gathered about the waiting gang of
section-hands, who gazed at him with
blanched faces. Turning to Brand, he
"Ye seen it, didn' ye, Jo?"
"Thar ain't no train been by here sence
Number Seven," was the half-whispered
Even Long Tim felt the hair bristling
on the back of his head and cold chills
creeping down his spine.
The men gathered closer about Horgan, in silent expectation.
"What did ye
queried one, more
eager than the rest.
The telegraph-operator, with a
frown on his face,
looked up from the
work which he had
resumed, to listen.
The ticking of the instrument was loudly
audible above the speaker's voice.
"I seen a passenger-express come out'n
the tunnel at sixty mile an hour. By the
light o' my lamp, it was Fifty-seven. The
ingine-man war a-lookin' down the track,
an' his lef' han' war on the lever. I cudden ketch his full face -"
He paused a moment, as if thinking.
"But his beard and his hyar - Goddle-mighty save me! it war Jim Flandroe."
"Boys," said Brand, solemnly, turning
to his companions, "do you know what
that means? It means old Jim is dead."
"It means that George Horgan's drunk,
and you all are a pack of d----d fools,"
said the disgusted telegraph-operator.
"Get out o' here, all of ye! I'll let
Bigby know about this to-morrow."
Two nights later, as he sat alone in his
office, reading a novel, a call came over
the wires from an operator at the southern terminus. The response of the novel-reader brought the message:
"I heard to-day that old Flandroe, who
was hurt at Smoky Tunnel and sued the
company, has gone out on the long run.
He died a day or two ago, and I thought
you'd like to know about it, being close to
the scene of the accident."
Back went the question:
"When did he die?"
There was an interval of waiting that
taxed the nerves of the man at the keys
in the Kayton office. The novel had
fallen unheeded to the floor. Presently
the instrument ticked out:
"Halfpast nine on Tuesday evening
last, McDonald tells me."
It was the very hour when Horgan had
met the spectral engine.
© RailroadStories, 2002.