The only point the Hill Division, from Carleton, the super, to the last car tink, would admit it was at all hazy on as far as Sammy Durgan was concerned, was why in the everlasting name of everything the man stuck to railroading. When the Hill Division got up against that point it was floored and took the count.

Sammy Durgan wore the belt. He held a record never equalled before or since. Tommy Regan, the master mechanic, who had a warped gift for metaphor, said the man was as migratory on jobs as a flock of crows in a poor year for corn, only a blamed sight harder to get rid of.

As far back as anybody could remember they remembered Sammy Durgan. Somewhere on the division you were bound to bump up against him—but rarely twice in the same place. There wasn't any one in authority, even so mild an authority as a section boss, who hadn't fired Sammy Durgan so often that it had grown on them like a habit. Not that it made much difference, however; for, ejected from the roundhouse, Sammy Durgan's name would be found decorating the pay roll next month in the capacity of baggage master, possibly, at some obscure spot up the line; and here, for example, a slight mix-up of checks in the baggage of a tourist family, that divided the family against itself and its baggage as far as the East is from the West—and Sammy Durgan moved on again. What the Hill Division said about him would have been complimentary if it hadn't been for the grin; they said he was an all-round railroad man. Shops, roundhouse, train crews, station work and construction gangs, Sammy Durgan knew them all; and they knew Sammy Durgan. Eternally and everlastingly in trouble—that was Sammy Durgan.

Nothing much else the matter with him—just trouble. Brains all right; only, as far as the Hill Division could make out, the last thing Sammy Durgan ever thought of doing was to give his brains a little exercise to keep them in condition. But, if appalling in his irresponsibility, Sammy Durgan nevertheless had a saving grace—no cork ever bobbed more buoyantly on troubled waters than Sammy Durgan did on his sea of adversity. Sammy Durgan always came up smiling. He had a perennial sort of cheerfulness on his leathery face that infected his guileless blue eyes, while a mop of fiery red hair like a flaming halo kind of guaranteed the effect to be genuine. One half of you felt like kicking the man violently, and the other half was obsessed with an insane desire to hobnob with him just as violently. Sammy Durgan, to say the least of it, was a contradictory proposition. He had an ambition—he wanted a steady job.

He mentioned the matter to Regan one day immediately following that period in his career when, doing odd jobs over at the station, he had, in filling up the fire buckets upstairs, inadvertently left the tap running. The sink being small and the flooring none too good, a cherished collection of Regan's blue-prints in the room below were reduced to a woebegone mass of sticky pulp. Sammy Durgan mentioned his ambition as a sort of corollary, as it were, to the bitter and concise remarks in which the fat little master mechanic had just couched Sammy Durgan's ubiquitous discharge.

Regan didn't stop breathing—he had dealt with Sammy Durgan before. Regan smiled as though it hurt him.

"A steady job, is it?" said Regan softly. "I've been thinking so hard daytimes trying to place you in a railroad job and still keep railroading safe out in this part of the world that I've got to dreaming about it at nights. Last night I dreamt I was in a foundry and there was an enormous vat of red, bubbling, liquid iron they'd just drawn off the furnace, and you came down from the ceiling on a spider web and hung over it. And then I woke up, and I was covered with cold sweat—for fear the web wouldn't break."

"Regan," said Sammy Durgan, blinking fast, "you don't know a man when you see one. You're where you are because you've had the chance to get there. Mind that! I've never had a chance. But it'll come, Regan. And the day'll come, Regan, when you'll be down on your knees begging me to take what I'm asking for now, a steady job on your blessed railroad."

"Mabbe," said Regan, chewing absently on his blackstrap; and then, as a sort of afterthought: "What kind of a job?"

"A steady one," said Sammy Durgan doggedly. "I dunno just what, but——"

"H'm!" said Regan solicitously. "Well, don't make up your mind in a hurry, Durgan—I don't want to press you. When you've had a chance to look around a little more, mabbe you'll be able to decide better—what? Get out!"

Sammy Durgan backed to the door. There he paused, blinking fast again:

"Some day I'll show you, Regan, you and all the rest of 'em, and——"

"Get out!" said the little master mechanic peremptorily.

And Sammy Durgan got out. He was always getting out. That was his forte. When he got in, it was only to get out.

"Some day," said Sammy Durgan—and the Hill Division stuck its tongue in its cheek. But Sammy Durgan had his answer to the blunt refusal that invariably greeted his modest request for a fresh job.

"Listen here," said Sammy Durgan, with a firm hold on the overalls' strap of, it might be, the bridge foreman he was trying to wheedle a time check out of. "'Twas Regan fired me first, but he was in a bad humor at the time; 'twas the steam hose I was washing out boiler tubes with in the roundhouse got away from me, and it was accidental, though mabbe for the moment it was painful for him. It just shows that if you get fired once it sticks to you. And as for them baggage checks out to Moose Peak, they weren't no family, they was a tribe, about eighteen kids besides the pa and ma, and fourteen baggage cars full of trunks. He was a little bow-legged fellow with a scared look, and he whispers where he wants the checks for about three minutes before train time, then she comes in, bigger'n two elephants, scorches him through a pair of glasses she carries on a handle, and orders 'em checked somewhere else. Say, was I to blame if some of them checks in the hurry didn't get the first name I'd written on 'em scratched out? And over there to the station the time Regan's office got flooded 'twasn't my fault. If you get fired once, you keep on getting fired no matter what you do. I turned the tap off. It was one of them little devils of call boys turned it on again. But do you think any one would believe that? They would not—or I'd have mentioned it at the time. If there's any trouble anywhere and I'm around it's put onto me. And there's Mrs. Durgan back there to Big Cloud. She ain't very well. Cough's troubling her more'n usual lately, and worrying about the rent not being paid ain't helping her any. Say, you'll give me a job, won't you?"

Sammy Durgan got the job.

Now, as may be inferred, Sammy Durgan did not always adhere strictly to the truth—not that he swerved from it with vicious intent, but that, like some other things, trouble for instance, the swerving had grown, as it were, to be a habit. Mrs. Durgan did not have a cough, neither was she worrying about the unpaid rent. Mrs. Durgan, speaking strictly in a physical sense, was mightiest among women in Big Cloud, and on the night the story proper opens—a very black night for Sammy Durgan—Sammy Durgan was sitting on Mrs. Durgan's front door step, and the door was locked upon him. Sammy Durgan, paradoxical as it may sound, though temporarily out of a job again and with no job to be fired from, was being fired at that moment harder than he had ever been fired before in his life—and the firing was being done by Mrs. Durgan. It had been threatening for quite a while, quite a long while, two or three years, but it none the less came to Sammy Durgan with something of a shock, and he gasped.

Mrs. Durgan was intensely Irish, from purer stock than Sammy Durgan, and through the window Mrs. Durgan spoke barbed words:

"'Tis shame yez should take to yersilf, Sammy Durgan, if yez had the sinse to take annything—the loikes av yez, a big strong man! 'Tis years I've put up wid yez, whin another woman would not, but I'll put up wid yez no more! 'Tis the ind this night, Sammy Durgan, an' the Holy Mither be praised there's no children to blush fer the disgrace yez are!"

"Maria," said Sammy Durgan craftily, for this had worked before, "do I drink?"

Mrs. Durgan choked in her rage.

"I do not," said Sammy Durgan soothingly. "And who but me lays the pay envelopes on your lap without so much as tearing 'em to count the insides of 'em? Listen here, Maria, listen——"

"Is ut mocking me, yez are!" shrieked Mrs. Durgan. "'Tis little good the opening av 'em would do! Listen, is ut, to the smooth tongue av yez! I've listened till me fingers are bare to the bone wid the washtubs to kape a roof over me head. I'll listen no more, Sammy Durgan, moind thot!"

"Maria," said Sammy Durgan, with a softness that was meant to turn away wrath, "Maria, open the door."

"I will not," said Mrs. Durgan, with a truculent gasp. "Niver! Not while yez live, Sammy Durgan—fer yez funeral mabbe, but fer no less than thot, an' thin only fer the joy av bein' a widdy!"

It sounded inevitable. There was a sort of cold uncompromise even in the fire of Mrs. Durgan's voice. Sammy Durgan rose heavily from the doorstep.

"Some day," said Sammy Durgan sadly, "some day, Maria, you'll be sorry for this. You'll break your heart for it, Maria! You wait! 'Tis no fault of mine, the trouble. Everybody's against me—and now my wife. But you wait. Once in the life of every man he gets his chance. Mine ain't come yet. But you wait! It's the man who rises to an emergency that counts, and——"

There was a gurgling sound from Mrs. Durgan's throat. Then the window slammed down—hard.

Sammy Durgan stared, stared a little blankly as the lamp retreated from the window and the front of the house grew black.

"I guess," said Sammy Durgan a little wistfully to himself, "I guess I'm fired all around for fair." He turned and walked slowly out to the street and headed downtown toward the railroad yards. And as he walked he communed with himself somewhat bitterly: "Any blamed little thing that comes up, that, if 'twere anybody else, nobody'd pay any attention to it, and everybody yells 'fire Sammy Durgan.' That's me——'fire Sammy Durgan.' And why? Because I never get a chance—that's why!" Sammy Durgan grew earnest in his soliloquy. "Some day," said he, as he reached the station platform, "I'll show 'em—I'll show Maria! It'll come, every man gets his chance. Give me the chance to rise to an emergency, that's all I ask—just give me that and I'll show 'em!"

Sammy Durgan walked up the deserted platform with no very definite destination in view, and stopped abruptly in front of the freight shed as he suddenly remembered that it was very late. He sat down on the edge of the platform, and kicked at the main-line rail with the toe of his boot. Sammy Durgan was bedless, penniless, wifeless and jobless. It was a very black night indeed for Sammy Durgan.

Sammy Durgan's mind catalogued those in authority in Big Cloud in whose gift a job was, and he went over the list—but it did not take him long, as he had need to hesitate over no single name. Big Cloud and a job for Sammy Durgan were separated by a great gulf. Sammy Durgan, however, his perennial optimism gaining the ascendancy again, found solace even in that fact. In view of his present marital difficulties a job in Big Cloud would be an awkward thing anyhow. In fact, for the first time in his life, he would have refused a job in Big Cloud. Sammy Durgan had a certain pride about him. Given the opportunity, the roundhouse, the shops, the yards, and the train crews, once they discovered the little impasse that had arisen in the Durgan family, might be safely trusted to make capital out of it—at his expense.

Sammy Durgan's mind in search of a job went further afield. This was quite a different proposition, for the mileage of the Hill Division was big. For an hour Sammy Durgan sat there, scratching at his red hair, puckering his leathery face, and kicking at the rail to the detriment of the toe-cap of his boot. He knew the division well, very well—too well. At the moment, he could not place any spot upon it that he did not know, or, perhaps what was more to the point, that was not intimately acquainted with him. Road work, bridge work, yard work, station work passed in review before him, but always and with each one arose a certain well-remembered face whose expression, Biblically speaking, was not like unto a father's on the prodigal's return.

And then at last Sammy Durgan sighed in relief. There was Pat Donovan! True, he and Pat Donovan had had a little misunderstanding incident to the premature explosion of a keg of blasting powder that had wrecked the construction shanty, but that was two years ago and under quite different conditions. Pat Donovan now was a section boss on a desolate stretch of track about five stations up the line, and his only companions were a few Polacks who spoke English like parrots—voluble enough as far as it went, but not entirely soul-filling to an Irishman of the sociable tendencies of Pat Donovan. He could certainly get a job out of Pat Donovan.

The matter ultimately settled, Sammy Durgan stood up. Across the yards they were making up the early morning freight. That solved the transportation question. A railroad man, whether he was out of a job or not, could always get a lift in any caboose that carried the markers or the tail lights of old Bill Wallis' train. Sammy Durgan got a lift that morning up to Dam River; and there, a little further along the line, he ran Pat Donovan and his Polacks to earth where they were putting in some new ties.

Donovan, a squat, wizened, red eye-lidded little man, with a short, bristling crop of sandy whiskers circling his jaws like an ill-trimmed hedge, hurriedly drew back the hand he had extended as he caught the tail end of Sammy Durgan's greeting.

"Oh, a job is ut?" he inquired without enthusiasm, from his seat on a pile of ties beside the track.

"Listen, here, Pat," said Sammy Durgan brightly. "Listen to——"

"Yez have yer nerve wid yez!" observed the section boss caustically. "Yez put me in moind av a felley I had workin' fer me wance, for yez are the dead spit av him, Sammy Durgan, that blew the roof off av the construction shanty, an'——"

"That was two years ago, Donovan," interposed Sammy Durgan hurriedly, "and you've no blasting powder on this job, and it was no fault of mine. I would have explained it at the time, but you were a bit hot under the collar, Pat, and you would not listen. I was but testing the detonator box, and 'twas yourself told me the connections were not made."

"Did I?"—the section boss was watching his chattering gang of foreigners with gradually narrowing eyes.

"You did," asserted Sammy Durgan earnestly, "and——"

Sammy Durgan stopped. Donovan had leaped from his seat, and was gesticulating fiercely at his gold-earringed, greasy-haired laboring crew.

"Yez are apes!" he yelled, dancing frantically up and down. "Yez are oorang-ootangs! An' yez talk like a cageful av monkeys! Yez look loike men, but yez are not! Yez are annything that has no brains! Have I not told yez till me throat's cracked doin' ut thot yez are not rayquired to lift the whole dombed right av way to put in a single measly tie? Is ut a hump loike a camel's back yez are try in' to make in the rail? Here! Dig—here!"—the little section boss, with wrathful precision, indicated the exact spot with the toe of his boot.

He returned to his seat, and regarded Sammy Durgan helplessly.

"'Tis a new lot," said he sadly, "an' the worst, bar none, that iver I had."

"But an Irishman, and one that can talk your own tongue, you won't hire when he's out of a job," insinuated Sammy Durgan reproachfully.

The section boss scrubbed reflectively at his chin whiskers.

"An' how's Mrs. Durgan?" he asked, with some cordiality.

"She's bad," said Sammy Durgan, suddenly mournful and shaking his head. "She's worse than ever she's been, Donovan. I felt bad at leaving her last night, Donovan—I did that. But what could I do? 'Twas a job I had to get, Donovan, bad as I felt at leaving her, Donovan."

"Sure now, is thot so?" said the little section boss sympathetically. "'Tis cruel harrd luck yez have, Durgan. But yez'll moind I've not much in the way av jobs—'tis a desolate bit av country, an' mostly track-walkin' at a dollar-tin a day."

"Donovan," said Sammy Durgan from a full heart, "the day'll come, Donovan, when I'll keep the grass green on your grave for this. I knew you'd not throw an old friend down."

"'Tis glad I am to do ut," said Donovan, waving his hand royally. "An' yez can start in at wance."

And Sammy Durgan started. And for a week Sammy Durgan assiduously tramped his allotted mileage out and back to the section shanty each day—and for a week Sammy Durgan and trouble were asunder.

Trouble? Where, from what possible source, could there be any trouble? Not a soul for miles around the section shanty, just mountains and track and cuts and fills, and nothing on earth for Sammy Durgan to do but keep a paternal eye generally on the roadbed. Trouble? It even got monotonous for Sammy Durgan himself.

"'Tis not," confided Sammy Durgan to himself one morning, after a week of this, that found him plodding along the track some two miles east of the section shanty, "'tis not precisely the job I'd like, for it's a chance I'm looking for to show 'em, Maria, and Regan, and the rest of 'em, and there'll be no chance here—but temporarily it'll do. 'Tis not much of a job, and beneath me at that, but have I not heard that them as are faithful in little will some day be handed much? There'll be no one to say"—he glanced carefully around him in all directions—"that Sammy Durgan was not a good track-walker."

Sammy Durgan sat down on the edge of the embankment, extracted a black cutty from his pocket, charged it with very black tobacco, lit it, tamped the top of the bowl with a calloused forefinger, and from another pocket extracted a newspaper—one of a bundle that the train crew of No. 7 thoughtfully heaved at the section shanty door each morning on their way up the line.

It was a warm, bright morning; one of those comfortable summer mornings with just enough heat to lift a little simmering haze from the rails, and just enough sun to make a man feel leisurely, so to speak. Sammy Durgan, the cutty drawing well, wormed a comfortable and inviting hollow in the gravel of the embankment, propped his back against an obliging tie, and opened his paper.

"Track-walking," said Sammy Durgan, "is not much of a job, and 'tis not what I'm looking for, but there are worse jobs."

Somebody had read the paper before Sammy Durgan, hence the sheet that first presented itself to his view was a page of classified advertisements. His eye roved down the column of "Situations Vacant"—and held on one of them.

MEN WANTED for grading work at The Gap. Apply at Engineers' Office, Big Cloud, or to T. H. MacMurtrey, foreman, at The Gap.

Sammy Durgan pursed his lips.

"There's no telling," said Sammy Durgan thoughtfully, "when I'll be looking for a new job, so I'll bear it in mind. Not that they'd give me a job at the office, for they would not; but by the name of him this T. H. MacMurtrey 'll be a new man and unknown to me, which is quite another matter—and I'll keep it in mind."

Sammy Durgan turned the sheet absently—and then, forgetful of the obliging tie that propped his back, he sat bolt upright with a jerk.

"For the love of Mike!" observed Sammy Durgan breathlessly, with his eyes glued to the paper.

It leaped right out at him in the biggest type the Big Cloud Daily Sentinel had to offer, which, if it had its limitations, was not to be despised, since it had acquired a second-hand font or two from a metropolitan daily east that made no pretense at being modest in such matters.

Sammy Durgan's eyes began to pop, and his leathery face to screw up.



No Clue to Assassin

Sammy Durgan's eyes bored into the fine print of the "story." If the style was a trifle provincial and harrowing, Sammy Durgan was not fastidious enough to be disturbed thereby—it was intensely vivid. Sammy Durgan's mouth was half open, as he read.

One of the most atrocious, daring and bloody murders in the annals of the country's crime was perpetrated last night in a compartment of the sleeping car on No. 12, the eastbound through express. It is a baffling mystery, though suspicion is directed against a passenger who gave his name as Samuel Starke of New York. The details, gathered by the Sentinel staff from Conductor Hurley, and Clements, the porter, on the arrival of the train at Big Cloud, are as follows:

The car was a new-type compartment car, with the compartment doors opening off the corridor that runs along one side of the length of the car. As the train was passing Dam River, Clements, the porter, at the forward end of the car, thought he heard two revolver shots from somewhere in the rear. Clements says he thought at first he had been mistaken, for the train was travelling fast and making a great uproar, and he did not at once make any effort to investigate. Then he heard a compartment door open, and he started down the corridor. Starke was standing in the doorway of B compartment where the murdered man was, and Starke yelled at Clements. "Here, porter, quick!" is what Clements says Starke said to him: "There's a man been shot in here! My compartment's next to this, you know, and I heard two shots and rushed in."

It was a horrible and unnerving sight that greeted the porter's eyes. Mr. Clements was still visibly affected by it as he talked to the Sentinel reporter in Big Cloud. The unknown murdered man lay pitifully huddled on the floor, lifeless and dead, a great bullet wound in one temple and another along the side of his neck that must have severed the jugular vein. It was as though blood had rained upon the victim. He was literally covered with it. He was already past aid, being quite dead. Conductor Hurley was quickly summoned. But investigation only deepened the mystery. Suicide was out of the question because there was no weapon to be found. Mr. Starke, at his own request, was searched, but had no revolver. Mr. Starke, however, has been held by the police.

The Sentinel, without wishing to infringe upon the sphere of the authorities or cast aspersions upon their acumen, but in the simple furtherance of justice, offers the suggestion that, as the compartment window was open, the assassin, whoever he was, hurled the revolver out of the window after committing his dastardly and unspeakable crime; and the Sentinel hereby offers Twenty-five Dollars Reward for the recovery of the revolver. Lawlessness and crime, we had fondly believed, was stamped out of the West, and we raise our voice in protest against the return of desperadoes, bandits, and train robbers, and we solemnly warn all those of that caliber that they will not be tolerated in the new West, and we call upon all public-spirited citizens in whose veins red blood flows to rise up and put them down with an iron and merciless——

There were still three columns. Sammy Durgan read them voraciously. At the end, he sucked hard on the black cutty. The black cutty was out.

"To think of the likes of that!" muttered Sammy Durgan heavily, as he dug for a match. "The fellow that wrote the piece—'twill be that little squint-eyed runt Labatt—is not the fool I thought him. It's right, he is; what with murders and desperadoes no man's life's safe—it is not! And to think of it right on this same railroad! And who knows"—Sammy Durgan rose with sudden haste—"but 'twas right on this same spot where I am this blessed minute, for the paper says it was close to Dam River, that the poor devil was shot dead and foully killed! And—" The match flamed over the bowl of the cutty, but Sammy Durgan's attention was not on it.

Sammy Durgan, in a sort of strained way, descended the embankment. The match burned his fingers, and Sammy Durgan dropped it. Sammy Durgan rubbed his eyes—yes, it was still glistening away there in the sunlight. He stooped, and from the grass, trembling a little with excitement, picked up a heavy-calibered, nickel-trimmed revolver.

"Holy Christmas!" whispered Sammy Durgan, blinking fast. "'Tis the same! There's no doubt of it—'tis the same that done the bloody deed! And 'tis the first bit of luck I've had since I was born! Twenty-five dollars reward!" He said it over very softly again: "Twenty-five dollars reward!"

Sammy Durgan returned to the track, and resumed his way along it; though, as far as his services to the road were concerned, he might just as well have remained where he was. Sammy Durgan's thoughts were not of loosened spikes and erring fishplates, and neither were his eyes intent on their discovery—his mind, thanks to Labatt, of the Big Cloud Daily Sentinel, teemed with scenes of violence vividly portrayed, midnight murders, corpses in grotesque attitudes on gore-bespattered compartment floors, desperadoes of all descriptions, train bandits and train robbers in masks holding up trains.

"'Tis true," said Sammy Durgan to himself. "'Tis a lawless country, these same Rockies. I mind 'twas only a year ago that Black Dempsey and his gang tried to wreck Number Two in the Cut near Coyote Bend—I mind it well."

Sammy Durgan walked on down the track. At intervals he took the revolver from his pocket and put it back again, as though to assure himself beyond peradventure of doubt that it was in his possession.

"Twenty-five dollars reward!" communed Sammy Durgan, grown arrogant with wealth. "'Tis near a month's pay at a dollar-ten—and all for the picking of it up. I called it luck—but it is not luck. An ordinary track-walker would have walked it by and not seen it. 'Tis what you get for keeping your eyes about you, and besides the twenty-five 'tis promotion, too, mabbe I'll get. 'Twill show 'em that there's track-walkers and track-walkers. I'll say to Regan: 'Regan,' I'll say, 'you've said hard words to me, Regan, but I ask you, Regan, how many track-walkers would have brought a bloody murderer to justice by keeping their eyes about them in the faithful performance of their duty, Regan? 'Tis but the chance I ask. 'Tis the man in an emergency that counts, and if ever I get a chance at an emergency I'll show you.' And Regan'll say: 'Sammy,' he'll say, 'you——'"

Sammy Durgan paused in his engrossing soliloquy as the roar of an approaching train fell on his ears, and he scrambled quickly down from the right of way to the bottom of the embankment. Just ahead of him was a short, narrow, high-walled rock cut, and at the farther end the track swerved sharply to the right, side-stepping, as it were, the twist of the Dam River that swung in, steep-banked, to the right of way.

"I'll wait here," said Sammy Durgan, "'till she's through the cut."

Sammy Durgan waited. The train came nearer and nearer—and then Sammy Durgan cocked his head in a puzzled way and stared through the cut. He couldn't see anything, of course, for the curve, but from the sound she had stopped just beyond the cut.

"Now, what the devil is she stopping there for?" inquired Sammy Durgan of the universe in an injured tone.

He started along through the cut. And then Sammy Durgan stopped himself—as though he were rooted to the earth—and a sort of grayish white began to creep over his face. Came echoing through the cut a shout, a yell, another, a chorus of them—then a shot, another shot, a fusilade of them—and then a din mingling the oaths, the yells, and the shots into a hideous babel that rang terror in Sammy Durgan's ears.

Sammy Durgan promptly sidled in and hugged up against the rock wall that towered above him. Here he hesitated an instant, then he crept cautiously forward. Where he could not see, it was axiomatic that he could not be seen; and where he could not be seen, it was equally logical that he would be safe.

Sammy Durgan's face, quite white now, was puckered as it had never been puckered before, and his lips moved in a kind of twitching, jerky way as he crept along. Then suddenly, a voice, that seemed nearer than the others, but which from the acoustic properties of the cut he could not quite locate, bawled out fiercely over the confusion, prefaced with an oath:

"Get that express car door open, and be damned quick about it! Go on, shoot along the side of the train every time you see a head in a window!"

Sammy Durgan's mouth went dry, and his heart lost a beat, then went to pounding like a trip-hammer. Labatt and the Big Cloud Daily Sentinel hadn't drawn any exaggerated picture. A hold-up—in broad daylight!

"Holy Mither!" whispered Sammy Durgan.

He crept farther forward, very cautiously—still farther—and then he lay full length, crouched against the rock wall at the end of the cut. He could see now, and the red hair of Sammy Durgan kind of straggled down damp over his forehead, and his little black eyes lost their pupils.

It was a passenger train; one side of it quite hidden by the sharp curve of the track, the other side presented almost full on to Sammy Durgan's view—the whole length of it. And Sammy Durgan, gasping, stared. Not ten yards away from the mouth of the cut a huge pile of ties were laid across the rails, with the pilot of the stalled engine almost nosing them. Down the embankment, a very steep embankment where the Dam River swirled along, marched there evidently at the revolver's point, the engine crew stood with their hands up in the air—at the revolver's point with a masked man behind it. Along the length of the train, two or three more masked men were shooting past the windows in curt intimation to the passengers that the safest thing they could do was to stay where they were; and farther down, by the rear coach, the conductor and two brakemen, like their mates of the engine crew, held their hands steadfastly above their heads as another bandit covered them with his weapon. And through the open door of the express car Sammy Durgan could see bobbing heads and straining backs, and the express company's safe being worked across the floor preparatory to heaving it out on the ground.

It takes long to tell it—Sammy Durgan got it all as a second flies. And something, a bitter something, seemed to be gnawing at Sammy Durgan's vitals.

"Holy Mither!" he mumbled miserably. "'Tis an emergency, all right—but 'tis not the right kind of an emergency. What could any one man do against a lot of bloodthirsty, desperate devils like that, that'd sooner cut your throat than look at you!"

Sammy Durgan's hand inadvertently rubbed against his right-hand coat pocket—and his revolver. He drew it out mechanically, and it seemed to put new life into Sammy Durgan, for, as he stared again at the scene before him, Sammy Durgan quivered with a sudden, fierce elation.

"I was wrong," said Sammy Durgan grimly. "'Tis the right kind of an emergency, after all—and 'tis the man that uses his head and rises to one that counts. I'll show 'em, Maria, and Regan, and the rest of 'em! Begorra, it can be done! 'Tis no one 'll notice me while I'm getting to the engine and climbing in on the other side, and, by glory, if I back her out quick enough them thieving hellions in the express car can either jump for it or ride back to the arms of authority at the next station—but the safe 'll be there, and 'twill be Sammy Durgan that kept it there!"

But Sammy Durgan still lay on the ground and stared—while the safe was being pushed to the express car door, and one edge of it already protruded out from the car.

"Go on, Sammy Durgan!" urged Sammy Durgan anxiously to himself. "Don't you be skeered, Sammy, you got a revolver. 'Tis yourself, and not Maria, that'll do the locking of the doors hereafter, and 'tis Regan you can pass with fine contempt. Think of that, Sammy Durgan! And all for a bit of a run that'll not take the time of a batting of an eyelash, and with no one to notice you doing it. 'Tis a clever plan you've devised, Sammy Durgan—it is that. Go on, Sammy; go on!"

Sammy Durgan wriggled a little on the ground, cocked his revolver—and wriggled a little more.

"I will!" said Sammy Durgan with a sudden pinnacling of determination—and he sprang to his feet.

Some loosened shale rattled down behind him. Sammy Durgan dashed through the mouth of the cut—and then for a moment all was a sort of chaos to Sammy Durgan. From the narrow edge of the embankment, just clear of the cut, a man stepped suddenly out. Sammy Durgan collided with him, his cocked revolver went off, and, jerked from his grasp by the shock, sailed riverwards through the air, while, echoing its report from the express car door, a man screamed wildly and grabbed at a bullet-shattered wrist; and the man with whom Sammy Durgan had collided, having but precarious footing at best, reeled back from the impact, smashed into another man behind him, and with a crash both rolled down the almost perpendicular embankment. Followed a splash and a spout of water as they struck the river—and from every side a tornado of yells and curses.

"'Tis my finish!" moaned Sammy Durgan—but his feet were flying. "I—I've done it now! If I ran back up the cut they'd chase me and finish me—'tis my finish, anyway, but the engine 'll be the only chance I got."

Sammy Durgan streaked across the track, hurdled, tumbled, fell, and sprawled over the pile of ties, recovered himself, regained his feet, and made a frantic spring through the gangway and into the cab.

With a sweep Sammy Durgan shot the reversing lever over into the back notch, and with a single yank he wrenched the throttle wide. There was nothing of the craftsman in engine-handling about Sammy Durgan at that instant—only hurry. The engine, from a passive, indolent and inanimate thing, seemed to rise straight up in the air like an aroused and infuriated beast that had been stung. With one mad plunge it backed crashing into the buffer plates of the express car behind it, backed again, and once again, and the tinkle of breaking glass sort of ricochetted along the train as one car after another added its quota of shattered window panes, while the drivers, slipping on the rails, roared around like gigantic and insensate pinwheels.

Sammy Durgan snatched at the cab frame for support—and then with a yell he snatched at a shovel. A masked face showed in the gangway. Sammy Durgan brought the flat of the shovel down on the top of the man's head.

The gangway was clear again. There was life for it yet! The train was backing quickly now under the urgent, prodding bucks of the engine. Sammy Durgan mopped at his face, his eyes warily on the gangways. Another man made a running jump for it—again Sammy Durgan's shovel swung—and again the gangway was clear.

Shovel poised, lurching with the lurch of the cab, red hair flaming, half terrified and half defiant, eyes shooting first to one gangway and then the other, Sammy Durgan held the cab. A minute passed with no renewal of attack. Sammy Durgan stole a quick glance over his shoulder through the cab glass up the track—and, with a triumphant shout, he flung the shovel clanging to the iron floor-plates, and, leaning far out of the gangway, shook his fist. Strewn out along the right of way masked men yelled and shouted and cursed, but Sammy Durgan was beyond their reach—and so was the express company's safe.

"Yah!" screamed Sammy Durgan, wildly derisive and also belligerent in the knowledge of his own safety. "Yah! Yah! Yah! 'Twas me, ye bloody hellions, that turned the trick on ye! 'Twas me, Sammy Durgan, and I'll have you know it! 'Twas——"

Sammy Durgan turned, as the express car opened, and Macy, the conductor, hatless and wild-eyed, appeared on the platform.

"'S'all right, Macy!" Sammy Durgan screeched reassuringly. "'S'all right—it's me, Sammy Durgan."

Macy jumped from the platform to the tender, jumped over the water tank, and came down into the cab with an avalanche of coal. His mouth was twitching and jerking, but for a moment he could not speak—and then the words came like an explosion, and he shook his fist under Sammy Durgan's nose.

"You—you damned fathead!" he roared. "What in the double-blanked, blankety-blanked son of blazes are you doing!"

"Fathead, yourself!" retorted Sammy Durgan promptly—and there was spice in the way Sammy Durgan said it. "I'm doing what you hadn't the nerve or the head to do, Macy—unless mabbe you're in the gang yourself! I'm saving that safe back there in the express car, that's what I'm doing."

"Saving nothing!" bellowed Macy crazily, as he slammed the throttle shut. "There! Look there!" He reached for Sammy Durgan's head, and with both hands twisted it around, and fairly flattened Sammy Durgan's nose against the cab glass.

"What—what is it?" faltered Sammy Durgan, a little less assertively.

Macy was excitable. He danced upon the cab floor as though it were a hornets' nest.

"What is it!" he echoed in a scream. "What is it! It's moving pictures, you tangle-brained, rusty-headed idiot! That's what it is!"

A sort of dull gray film seemed to spread itself over Sammy Durgan's face. Sammy Durgan stared through the cab glass. The track ahead was just disappearing from view as the engine backed around a curve, but what Sammy Durgan saw was enough—two dripping figures were salvaging a wrecked and bedragged photographic outfit on the river bank, close to the entrance of the cut where he had been in collision with them; an excited group of train bandits, without any masks now, were gesticulating around the marooned engineer and fireman; and in the middle distance, squatting on a rail, a man, coatless, his shirt sleeve rolled up, was making horrible grimaces as a companion bandaged his wrist.

Macy's laugh rang hollow—it wasn't exactly a laugh.

"I don't know how much it costs," stuttered the conductor demoniacally, "but there's about four million dollars' worth of film they're fishing out of the river there, and they paid a thousand dollars for the train and thirty-five minutes between stations to clear Number Forty, and there's about eight thousand car windows gone, and one vestibule and two platforms in splinters, and a man shot through the wrist, and if that crowd up there ever get their hands on you they'll——"

"I think," said Sammy Durgan hurriedly, "that I'll get off."

He edged back to the gangway and peered out. The friendly bend of the road hid the "outlaws." The train was almost at a standstill—and Sammy Durgan jumped. Not on the river side—on the other side. Sammy Durgan's destination was somewhere deep in the wooded growth that clothed the towering mountain before him.

There is an official record for cross-country mileage registered in the name of some one whose name is not Sammy Durgan—but it is not accurate. Sammy Durgan holds it. And it was far up on the mountain side that he finally crossed the tape and collapsed, breathless and gasping, on a tree stump. He sat there for quite a while, jabbing at his streaming face with the sleeve of his jumper; and there was trouble in Sammy Durgan's eyes, and plaint in his voice when at last he spoke.

"Twenty-five dollars reward," said Sammy Durgan wistfully. "And 'twas as good as in my pocket, and now 'tis gone. 'Tis hard luck, cruel hard luck. It is that!"

Sammy Durgan's eyes roved around the woods about him and grew thoughtful.

"I was minded at the time," said Sammy Durgan, "that 'twas not the right kind of an emergency, and when he hears of it Regan will be displeased. And now what'll I do? 'Twill do no good to return to the section shanty, for they'll be telegraphing Donovan to fire Sammy Durgan. That's me—fire Sammy Durgan. 'Tis trouble dogs me and cruel hard luck—and all I'm asking for is a steady job and a chance."

Sammy Durgan relapsed into mournful silence and contemplation for a spell—and then his face began to clear. Sammy Durgan's optimism was like the bobbing cork.

"'Tis another streak of cruel hard luck, of bitter, cruel hard luck I've had this day, but am I down and out for the likes of that?" inquired Sammy Durgan defiantly of himself.

"I am not!" replied Sammy Durgan buoyantly to Sammy Durgan. "'Tis not the first time I've been fired, and did I not read that there's MacMurtrey begging for men up at The Gap? And him being a new man and unknown to me, 'tis a job sure. 'Tis only my name might stand in the way, for 'tis likely 'twill be mentioned in his hearing on account of the bit of trouble down yonder. But 'tis the job I care for and not the name. I'll be working for MacMurtrey to-morrow morning—I will that! And what's more," added Sammy Durgan, beginning to blink fast, "I'll show 'em yet, Maria, and Regan, and the rest of 'em. Once in every man's life he gets his chance. Mine ain't come yet. I thought it had to-day, but I was wrong. But it'll come. You wait! I'll show 'em some day!"

Sammy Durgan lost himself in meditation. After a little, he spoke again.

"I'm not sure about the law," said Sammy Durgan, "but on account of the fellow that the bullet hit, apart from MacMurtrey taking note of it, 'twould be as well, anyway, if I changed my name temporarily till the temper of all concerned is cooled down a bit." Sammy Durgan rose from the stump. "I'll start West," said Sammy Durgan, "and get a lift on the first way-freight before the word is out. I'm thinking they'll be asking for Sammy Durgan down at Big Cloud."

And they were. It was quite true. Down at headquarters they were earnestly concerned about Sammy Durgan. Sammy Durgan had made no mistake in that respect.

"Fire Sammy Durgan," wired the roadmaster to the nearest station for transmission by first train to Pat Donovan, the section boss—and he got this answer back the next morning:

I. P. SPEARS, Roadmaster, Big Cloud:
    Sammy Durgan missing.
        P. DONOVAN."

Missing—that was it. Just that, nothing more—as though the earth had opened and swallowed him up, Sammy Durgan had disappeared. And while Carleton grew red and apoplectic over the claim sheet for damages presented by the moving-picture company, and Regan fumed and tugged at his scraggly brown mustache at thought of the damage to his rolling stock—Sammy Durgan was just missing, that was all—just missing. Nobody knew where Sammy Durgan had gone. Nobody had seen him. Station agents, operators, road bosses, section bosses, construction bosses and everybody else were instructed to report—and they did. They reported—nothing. Regan even went so far as to ask Mrs. Durgan.

"Is ut here to taunt me, yez are!" screamed Mrs. Durgan bitterly—and slammed the door in the little master mechanic's face.

"I guess," observed Regan to himself, as he gazed at the uncommunicative door panels, "I guess mabbe the neighbors have been neighborly—h'm? But I guess, too, we're rid of Sammy Durgan at last; and I dunno but what that comes pretty near squaring accounts for window glass and about a million other incidentals. Only," added the little master mechanic, screwing up his eyes, as he walked back to the station, "only it would have been more to my liking to have got my hands on him first—and got rid of him after!"

But Regan, and Carleton, and Mrs. Durgan, and the Hill Division generally were not rid of Sammy Durgan—far from it. For a week he was missing, and then one afternoon young Hinton, of the division engineer's staff, strolled into the office, nodded at Carleton, and grinned at the master mechanic, who was tilted back in a chair with his feet on the window sill.

"I dropped off this morning to look over the new grading work at The Gap," said Hinton casually. "And I thought you might be interested to know that MacMurtrey's got a man working for him up there by the name of Timmy O'Toole."

"Doesn't interest me," said Regan blandly, chewing steadily on his blackstrap. "Try and spring it on the super, Hinton. He always bites."

"Who's Timmy O'Toole?" smiled Carleton.

Hinton squinted at the ceiling.

"Sammy Durgan," said Hinton—casually.

There wasn't a word spoken for a minute. Regan lifted his feet from the window sill and lowered his chair legs softly down to the floor as though he were afraid of making a noise, and the smile on Carleton's face sort of faded away as though a blight had withered it.

"What was the name?" said Carleton presently, in a velvet voice.

"Timmy O'Toole," said Hinton.

Carleton's hand reached out, kind of as though of its own initiative, kind of as though it were just habit, for a telegraph blank—but Regan stopped him. It wasn't often that the fat, good-natured little master mechanic was vindictive, but there were times when even Regan's soul was overburdened.

"Wait!" said Regan, with ferocious grimness. "Wait! I'll make a better job of it than that, Carleton. I'm going up the line myself to-morrow morning on Number Three—and I'll drop off at The Gap. Timmy O'Toole now, is it? I'll make him sick!" Regan clenched his pudgy fist. "When I'm through with him he'll never have to be fired again—not on this division. Still looking for an emergency to rise to, eh? Well, I'll accommodate him! He'll run up against the hottest emergency to-morrow morning he ever heard of!"

And Regan was right—that was exactly what Sammy Durgan did. Only it wasn't quite the sort of emergency that Regan——But just a moment till the line's clear, there go the cautionaries against us.

If it had been any other kind of a switch it would never have happened—let that be understood from the start. And how it ever came to be left on the main line when modern equipment was installed is a mystery, except perhaps that as it was never used it was therefore never remembered by anybody. Nevertheless, there it stood, an old weather-beaten, two-throw, stub switch of the vintage of the ark. Two-throw, mind you, when a one-throw switch, even in the days of its usefulness, would have answered the purpose just as well, better for that matter. No modern drop-handle, interlocking safety device about it. Not at all! A handle sticking straight out like a sore thumb that could creak around on a semi-circular guide, with a rusty pin dangling from a rusty chain to lock it—if some itinerant section hand didn't forget to jab the pin back into the hole it had the habit of worming its way out of! It stood about a quarter of the way down the grade of The Gap, which is to say about half a mile from the summit, a deserted sentinel on guard over a deserted spur that, in the old construction days, had been built in a few hundred yards through a soft spot in the mountain side for camp and material stores.

As for The Gap itself, it was not exactly what might be called a nice piece of track. Officially, the grade is an average of 4.2; practically, it is likened to a balloon descension by means of a parachute. It begins at the east end and climbs up in a wriggling, twisting way, hugging gray rock walls on one side, and opening a cañon on the other that, as you near the summit, would make you catch your breath even to look at over the edge—it is a sheer drop. And also the right of way is narrow, very narrow; just clearance on one side against the rock walls, and a whole cañon full of nothingness at the edge of the other rail, and——But there's our "clearance" now.

MacMurtrey's camp was at the summit; and MacMurtrey's work, once the camp was fairly established and stores in, was to shave the pate of the summit, looking to an amelioration in The Gap's grade average—that is, its official grade average. But on the morning that Regan left Big Cloud on No. 3, the work was not very far along—only the preliminaries accomplished, so to speak, which were a siding at the top of the grade, with storehouse and camp shanties flanking it.

And on the siding, that morning, just opposite the storehouse which, it might be remarked in passing, had already received its first requisition of blasting materials for the barbering of the grade that was to come, a hybrid collection of Polacks, Swedes, and Hungarians were emptying an oil-tank car and discharging supplies from some flats and box cars; while on the main line track a red-haired man, with leathery face, was loading some grade stakes on a handcar.

MacMurtrey, tall, lanky and irascible, shouted at the red-haired man from a little distance up the line.

"Hey, O'Toole!"

The red-haired man paid no attention.

"O'Toole!" It came in a bellow from the road boss. "You, there, O'Toole, you wooden-headed mud-picker, are you deaf!"

Sammy Durgan looked up to get a line on the disturbance—and caught his breath.

"By glory!" whispered Sammy Durgan to himself. "I was near forgetting—'tis me he's yelling at."


"Yes, sir!" shouted Sammy Durgan hurriedly.

"Oh, you woke up, have you?" shrilled MacMurtrey. "Well, when you've got those stakes loaded, take 'em down the grade and leave 'em by the old spur. And take it easy on the grade, and mind your brakes going down—understand?"

"Yes, sir," said Sammy Durgan.

Sammy Durgan finished loading his handcar, and, hopping aboard, started to pump it along. At the brow of the grade he passed the oil-tank car, and nodded sympathetically at a round-faced, tow-headed Swede who was snatching a surreptitious drag at his pipe in the lee of the car.

Like one other memorable morning in Sammy Durgan's career, it was sultry and warm with that same leisurely feeling in the air. Sammy Durgan and his handcar slid down the grade—for about an eighth of a mile—rounded a curve that hid Sammy Durgan and the construction camp one from the other, continued on for another hundred yards—and came to a stop.

Sammy Durgan got off. On the cañon side there was perhaps room for an agile mountain goat to stretch its legs without falling off; but on the other side, if a man squeezed in tight enough and curled his legs Turk fashion, the rock wall made a fairly comfortable backrest.

"'Twas easy, he said, to take it on the grade," said Sammy Durgan reminiscently. "And why not?"

Sammy Durgan composed himself against the rock wall, and produced his black cutty.

"'Tis a better job than track-walking," said Sammy Durgan judicially, "though more arduous."

Sammy Durgan smoked on.

"But some day," said Sammy Durgan momentously, "I'll have a better one. I will that! It's a long time in coming mabbe, but it'll come. Once in every man's life a chance comes to him. 'Tis patience that counts, that and rising to the emergency that proves the kind of a man you are, as some day I'll prove to Maria, and Regan, and the rest of 'em."

Sammy Durgan smoked on. It was a warm summer morning, sultry even, as has been said, but it was cool and shady against the rock ledge. Peace fell upon Sammy Durgan—drowsily. Also, presently, the black cutty fell, or, rather, slipped down into Sammy Durgan's lap—without disturbing Sammy Durgan.

A half hour, three-quarters of an hour passed—and MacMurtrey, far up at the extreme end of the construction camp, let a sudden yell out of him and started on a mad run toward the tank-car and the summit of the grade, as a series of screeches in seven different varieties of language smote his ears, and a great burst of black smoke rolling skyward met his startled gaze. But fast as he ran, the Polacks, Swedes and Hungarians were faster—pipe smoking under discharging oil-tank cars and in the shadow of a dynamite storage shed they were accustomed to, but to the result, a blazing oil-tank car shooting a flame against the walls of the dynamite shed, they were not—they were only aroused to action with their lives in peril, and they acted promptly and earnestly—too earnestly. Some one threw the main line open, and the others crowbarred the blazing car like mad along the few feet of siding to get it away from the storage shed, bumped it on the main line, and then their bars began to lose their purchase under the wheels—the grade accommodatingly took a hand.

MacMurtrey, tearing along toward the scene, yelled like a crazy man:

"Block her! Block the wheels! You—you——" His voice died in a gasp. "D'ye hear!" he screamed, as he got his breath again. "Block the wheels!"

And the Polacks, the Swedes, the Hungarians and the What-Nots, scared stiff, screeched and jabbered, as they watched the tank-car, gaining speed with every foot it travelled, sail down the grade. And MacMurtrey, too late to do anything, stopped dead in his tracks—his face ashen. He pulled his watch, licked dry lips, and kind of whispered to himself.

"Number Three 'll be on the foot of the grade now," whispered MacMurtrey, and licked his lips again. "Oh, my God!"

Meanwhile, down the grade around the bend, Sammy Durgan yawned, sat up, and cocked his ear summitwards.

"Now what the devil are them crazy foreigners yelling about!" complained Sammy Durgan unhappily. "'Tis always the way with them, like a cageful of screeching cockatoos, they are—but being foreigners mabbe they can't help it, 'tis their nature to yell without provocation and——"

Sammy Durgan's ear caught a very strange sound, that mingled the clack of fast-revolving wheels as they pounded the fish-plates with a roar that hissed most curiously—and then Sammy Durgan's knees went loose at the joints and wobbled under him.

Trailing a dense black canopy of smoke, wrapped in a sheet of flame that spurted even from the trucks, the oil-tank car lurched around the bend and plunged for him—and for once, Sammy Durgan thought very fast. There was no room to let it pass—on one side was just nothing, barring a precipice; and on the rock side, no matter how hard he squeezed back from the right of way, there wasn't any room to escape that spurting flame that even in its passing would burn him to a crisp. And with one wild squeak of terror Sammy Durgan flung himself at his handcar, and, pushing first like a maniac to start it, sprang aboard. Then he began to pump.

There were a hundred yards between the bend and the scene of Sammy Durgan's siesta—only the tank-car had momentum, a whole lot of it, and Sammy Durgan had not. By the time Sammy Durgan had the handcar started the hundred yards was twenty-five, and the monster of flame and smoke behind him was travelling two feet to his one.

Sammy Durgan pumped—for his life. He got up a little better speed—but the tank-car still gained on him. Down the grade he went, the handcar rocking, swaying, lurching, and up and down on the handle, madly, frantically, desperately, wildly went Sammy Durgan's arms, shoulders and head—his hat blew off, and his red hair sort of stood straight up in the wind, and his face was like chalk.

Down he went, faster and faster, and the handcar, reeling like a drunken thing, took a curve with a vicious slew, and the off wheels hung in air for an instant while Sammy Durgan bellowed in panic, then found their base again and shot along the straight. And faster and faster behind him, on wings of fire it seemed, spitting flame tongues, vomiting its black clouds of smoke like an inferno, roaring like a mighty furnace in blast, came the tank-car. It was initial momentum and mass against Sammy Durgan's muscles on a handcar pump handle—and the race was not to Sammy Durgan.

He cast a wild glance behind, and squeaked again, and his teeth began to go like castanets, as the hot breath of the thing fanned his back.

"'Tis my finish," wheezed and stuttered Sammy Durgan through bursting lungs and chattering teeth. "'Tis a dead man, I am—oh, Holy Mither—'tis a dead man I am!"

Ahead and to either side swept Sammy Durgan's eyes like a hunted rat's—and they held, fascinated, on where the old spur track led off from the main line. But it was not the spur track that interested Sammy Durgan—it was that the rock wall, diverging away from his elbow, as it were, presented a wide and open space.

"It's killed I am, anyway," moaned Sammy Durgan. "But 'tis a chance. If—if mabbe I could jump far enough there where there's room to let it pass, I dunno—but 'tis killed, I'll be, anyway—oh, Holy Mither—but 'tis a chance—oh, Holy Mither!"

Hissing in its wind-swept flames, belching its cataract of smoke that lay behind it up the grade like a pall of death, roaring like some insensate demon, the tank-car leaped at him five yards away. And, screaming now in a paroxysm of terror that had his soul in clutch, crazed with it, blind with it, Sammy Durgan jumped—blindly—just before he reached the spur.

Like a stone from a catapult, Sammy Durgan went through the air, and with a sickening thud his body crashed full into the old stub switch-stand and into the switch handle, whirled around, and he ricochetted, a senseless, bleeding, shattered Sammy Durgan, three yards away.

It threw the switch. The handcar, already over it, sailed on down the main line and around the next bend, climbed up the front end of the 508 that was hauling No. 3 up the grade, smashed the headlight into battered ruin, unshipped the stack, and took final lodgment on the running board, its wheels clinging like tentacles to the 508's bell and sand-box; but the tank-car, with a screech of wrenching axles, a frightened, quivering stagger, took the spur, rushed like a Berserker amuck along its length, plowed up sand and gravel and dirt and rock where there were no longer any rails, and toppled over, a spent and buckled thing, on its side.

It was a flying switch that they talk of yet on the Hill Division. No. 3, suspicious of the handcar, sniffed her way cautiously around the curve, and there, passengers, train crew, engine crew and Tommy Regan, made an excited exodus from the train—just as MacMurtrey, near mad with fear, Swedes, Hungarians and Polacks stringing out along the right of way behind him, also arrived on the scene.

Who disclaims circumstantial evidence! Regan stared at the burning oil-tank up the spur, stared at the bleeding, senseless form of Sammy Durgan—and then he yelled for a doctor.

But a medical man amongst the passengers was already jumping for Sammy Durgan; and MacMurtrey was clawing at the master mechanic's arm, stuttering out the tale of what had happened.

"And—and if it hadn't been for Timmy O'Toole there," stuttered MacMurtrey, flirting away the sweat that stood out in great nervous beads on his face, "I—it makes me sick to think what would have happened when the tank struck Number Three. Something would have gone into the cañon sure. Timmy O'Toole's a——"

"His name's Sammy Durgan," said Regan, kind of absently.

"I don't give a blamed hoot what his name is!" declared MacMurtrey earnestly. "He's a man with grit from the soles up, and a head on him to use it with. It was three-quarters of an hour ago that I sent him down, so he must have been near the top on his way back when he saw the tank-car coming—and he took the one chance there was—to try and beat it to the spur here to save Number Three; and it was so close on him, for it's a cinch he hadn't time to stop, that he had to jump for the switch with about one chance in ten for his own life—see?"

"A blind man could see it," said Regan heavily, "but—Sammy Durgan!" He reached uncertainly toward his hip pocket for his chewing—and then, with sudden emotion, the big-hearted, fat, little master mechanic bent over Sammy Durgan.

"God bless the man!" blurted out Regan. And then, to the doctor: "Will he live?"

"Oh, yes; I think so," the doctor answered. "He's pretty badly smashed up, though."

Sammy Durgan's lips were moving. Regan leaned close to catch the words.

"A steady job," murmured Sammy Durgan. "Never get a chance. But some day it'll come. I'll show 'em, Maria, and Regan, and the rest of 'em!"

"You have, Sammy," said Regan, in a low, anxious voice. "It's all right, Sammy. It's all right, old boy. Just pull around and you can have any blamed thing you want on the Hill Division."

The doctor smiled sympathetically at Regan.

"He's delirious, you know," he explained kindly. "What he says doesn't mean anything."

Regan looked up with a kind of a grim smile.

"Don't it?" inquired Regan softly. Then he cleared his throat, and tugged at his scraggly brown mustache—both ends of it. "That's what I used to think myself," said the fat little master mechanic, sort of as though he were apostrophizing the distant peaks across the cañon, and not as though he were talking to the doctor at all. "But I guess—I guess I know Sammy Durgan better than I did. H'm?"

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