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Flandroe's Mogul

By A. C. Gordon

I.


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 self-defence:

"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 fool?"

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 disapprobation.

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:

"Proceed, gentlemen."

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 the yard.

"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 nodding again.

II.

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 onter 'em."

"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 blurted out:

"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:

"George!"

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."

III.

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 his family.

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 o' nights."

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."

IV.

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 tunnel."

"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 van.

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 now?"

The reply was a contra-query from Horgan:

"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' Thirteen."

"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 said:

"Ye seen it, didn' ye, Jo?"

"Thar ain't no train been by here sence Number Seven," was the half-whispered answer.

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 see, George?" 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. Then:

"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.

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