As its scarred and battle-torn colors are the glory of a regiment, brave testimony of hard-fought fields where men were men, so to the Hill Division is its tradition. And there are names there, too, on the honor roll—not famous, not world-wide, not on every tongue, but names that in railroading will never die. The years have gone since men fought and conquered the sullen gray-walled Rockies and shackled them with steel and iron, and laid their lives on the altar of one of the mightiest engineering triumphs the world has ever known; but the years have dimmed no memory, have only brought achievement into clearer focus, and honor to its fullness where honor is due. They tell the stories of those days yet, as they always will tell them—at night in the round-house over the soft pur of steam, with the yellow flicker of the oil lamps on the group clustered around the pilot of a 1600-class mountain greyhound—and the telling is as though men stood erect, bareheaded, at "salute" to the passing of the Old Guard.

Heroes? They never called themselves that—never thought of themselves in that way, those old fellows who have left their stories. Their uniform was a suit of overalls, their "decorations" the grime that came with the day's work—just railroad men, hard-tongued, hard-fisted, hard-faced, rough, without much polish, perhaps, as some rank polish, with hearts that were right and big as a woman's—that was all.

MacCaffery, Dan MacCaffery, was one of these. This is old Dan MacCaffery's story.

MacCaffery? Dan was an engineer, one of the old-timers, blue-eyed, thin—but you'd never get old Dan that way, he wouldn't look natural! You've got to put him in the cab of the 304, leaning out of the window, way out, thin as a bent toothpick, and pounding down the gorge and around into the straight making for the Big Cloud yards, with a string of buff-colored coaches jouncing after him, and himself bouncing up and down in his seat like an animated piece of rubber. Nobody ever saw old Dan inside the cab, that is, all in—he always had his head out of the window—said he could see better, though the wind used to send the water trickling down from the old blue eyes, and generally there were two little white streaks on his cheeks where no grime or coal dust ever got a chance at a strangle hold on the skin crevices. For the rest, what you could see sticking out of the cab over the whirling rod as he came down the straight, was just a black, greasy peaked cap surmounting a scanty fringe of gray hair, and a wizened face, with a round little knob in the center of it for a nose.

But that isn't altogether old Dan MacCaffery, either—there was Mrs. MacCaffery. Everybody liked Dan, with his smile, and the cheery way he had of puckering up his lips sympathetically and pushing back his cap and scratching near his ear where the hair was, as he listened maybe to a hard-luck story; everybody liked Dan—but they swore by Mrs. MacCaffery. Leaving out the railroaders who worshipped her anyway, even the worst characters in Big Cloud, and there were some pretty bad ones in those early days, hangers-on and touts for the gambling hells and dives, used to speak of the little old lady in the lace cap with a sort of veneration.

Lace cap? Yes. Sounds queer, doesn't it? An engineer's wife, keeping his shanty in a rough and ready, half baked bit of an uncivilized town in the shadow of the Rockies, and a lace cap don't go together very often, that's a fact. But it is equally a fact that Mrs. MacCaffery wore a lace cap—and somehow none of the other women ever had a word to say about her being "stuck up" either. There was something patrician about Mrs. MacCaffery—not the cold, stand-offish effect that's only make-believe, but the real thing. The Lord knows, she had to work hard enough, but you never saw her rinsing the washtub suds from her hands and coming to the door with her sleeves rolled up—not at all. The last thing you'd ever think there was in the house was a washtub. Little lace cap over smoothly-parted gray hair, little black dress with a little white frill around the throat, and just a glad look on her face whether she'd ever seen you before or not—that was Mrs. MacCaffery.

As far back as any one could remember she had always looked like that, always a little old lady—never a young woman, although she and Dan had come there years before, even before the operating department had got the steel shaken down into anything that might with justice be called a permanent right of way. Perhaps it was the gray hair—Mrs. MacCaffery's hair had been gray then, when it ought to have been the glossy, luxuriant brown that the old-fashioned daguerreotype, hanging in the shanty's combination dining and silting room, proclaimed that it once was.

Big Cloud, of course, didn't call her patrician—because they didn't talk that way out there. They said there was "some class" to Mrs. MacCaffery—and if their expression was inelegant, what they meant by it wasn't. Not that they ranked her any finer than Dan, for the last one of them ranked Dan as one of God's own noblemen, and there's nothing finer than that, only they figured, at least the women did, that back in the Old Country she'd been brought up to things that Dan MacCaffery hadn't.

Maybe that accounted for their sending young Dan East, and pinching themselves pretty near down to bed rock to give the boy an education and a start. Not that Mrs. MacCaffery had any notions that railroading and overalls and dirt was plebeian and beneath her—far from it! She was proud of old Dan, proud of his work, proud of his record; she'd talk about Dan's engine to you by the hour just as though it were alive, just as Dan would, and she would have hung chintz curtains on the cab windows and put flower pots on the running boards if they had let her. It wasn't that—Mrs. MacCaffery wasn't that kind. Only there were limitations to a cab, and she didn't want the boy, he was the only one they had, to start out with limitations of any kind that would put a slow order on his reaching the goal her mother's heart dreamed of. What goal? Who knows? Mothers always dream of their boy's future in that gentle, loving, all-conquering, up-in-the-clouds kind of a way, don't they? She wanted young Dan to do something, make a name for himself some day.

And young Dan did. He handed a jolt to the theory of heredity that should, if it didn't, have sent the disciples of that creed to the mat for the full count. When he got through his education, he got into a bank and backed the brain development, the old couple had scrimped to the bone to give him, against the market—with five thousand dollars of the bank's money. Old Dan and Mrs. MacCaffery got him off—Mrs. MacCaffery with her sweet old face, and Dan with his grim old honesty. The bank didn't prosecute. The boy was drowned in a ferryboat accident the year after. And old Dan had been paying up ever since.

He was always paying up. Five thousand dollars, even in instalments for a whole lot of years, didn't leave much to come and go on from his monthly pay check. He talked some of dropping the benefit orders he belonged to, and he belonged to most of them, but Mrs. MacCaffery talked him out of that on account of the insurance, she said, but really because she knew that Dan and his lodge rooms and his regalias and his worshipful titles were just part and parcel of each other, and that he either was, or was just going to be, Supreme High Chief Illustrious Something-or-other of every Order in town. Besides, after all, it didn't cost much compared with the other, just meant pinching a tiny bit harder—and so they pinched.

Old Dan and Mrs. MacCaffery didn't talk about their troubles. You'd never get the blues on their account, no matter how intimate you got with them. But everybody knew the story, of course, for everybody knows a thing like that; and everybody knew that dollars were scarce up at the MacCafferys' shanty for, though they didn't know how much old Dan sent East each year, they knew it had to be a pretty big slice of what was coming to him to make much impression on that five thousand dollars at the other end—and they wondered, naturally enough, how the MacCafferys got along at all. But the MacCafferys got along somehow, outwardly without a sign of the hurt that was deeper than a mere matter of dollars and cents, got along through the years—and Mrs. MacCaffery got a little grayer, a little more gentle and patient and sweet-faced, and old Dan's hair narrowed to a fringe like a broken tonsure above his ears, and—but there's our "clearance" now, and we're off with a clean-swept track and "rights through" into division.

Dan was handling the cab end of one of the local passenger runs when things broke loose in the East—a flurry in Wall Street. But Wall Street was a long, long way from the Rockies, and, though the papers were full of it, there didn't seem to be anything intimate enough in a battle of brokers and magnates, bitter, prolonged, and to the death though it might be, to stir up any excitement or enthusiasm on the Hill Division. The Hill Division, generally speaking, had about all it could do to mind its own affairs without bothering about those of others', for the Rockies, if conquered, took their subjection with bad grace and were always in an incipient state of insurrection that kept the operating, the motive power and the maintenance-of-way departments close to the verge of nervous prostration without much let-up to speak of. But when the smoke cleared away down East, the Hill Division and Big Cloud forgot their bridge troubles and their washouts and their slides long enough to stick their tongues in their cheeks and look askance at each other; and Carleton, in his swivel chair, pulled on the amber mouthpiece of his brier and looked at Regan, who, in turn, pulled on his scraggly brown mustache and reached for his hip pocket and his plug. The system was under new control.

"Who's H. Herrington Campbell when he's at home?" spluttered Regan.

"Our new general manager, Tommy," Carleton told him for the second time.

Regan grunted.

"I ain't blind! I've read that much. Who is he—h'm? Know him?"

Carleton took the pipe from his mouth—a little seriously.

"It's the P. M. & K. crowd, Tommy. Makes quite an amalgamation, doesn't it—direct eastern tidewater connection—what? They're a younger lot, pretty progressive, too, and sharp as they make them."

"I don't care a hoot who owns the stock," observed Regan, biting deeply at his blackstrap. "It's the bucko with the overgrown name in the center that interests me—who's he? Do you know him?"

"Yes," said Carleton slowly. "I know him." He got up suddenly and walked over to the window, looked out into the yards for a moment, then turned to face the master mechanic. "I know him, and I know most of the others; and I'll say, between you and me, Tommy, that I'm blamed sorry they've got their fingers on the old road. They're a cold, money-grabbing crew, and Campbell's about as human as a snow man, only not so warm-blooded. I fancy you'll see some changes out here."

"I turned down an offer from the Penn last week," said the fat little master mechanic reminiscently, "mabbe I——"

Carleton laughed—he could afford to. There was hardly a road in the country but had made covetous offers for the services of the cool-eyed master of the Hill Division, who was the idol of his men down to the last car tink.

"No; I guess not, Tommy. Our heads are safe enough, I think. When I go, you go—and as the P. M. & K. have been after me before, I guess they'll let me alone now I'm on their pay roll."

"What kind of changes, then?" inquired Regan gruffly.

"I don't know," said Carleton. "I don't know, Tommy—new crowd, new ways. We'll see."

And, in time, Regan saw. Perhaps Regan himself, together with Riley, the trainmaster, were unwittingly the means of bringing it about a little sooner than it might otherwise have come—perhaps not. Ultimately it would have been all the same. Sentiment and H. Herrington Campbell were not on speaking terms. However, one way or the other, in results, it makes little difference.

It was natural enough that about the first official act of the new directors should be a trip to look over the new property they had acquired; and if there was any resentment on the Hill Division at the change in ownership, there was no sign of it in Big Cloud when the word went out of what was coming. On the contrary, everybody sort of figured to make a kind of holiday affair of it, for the special was to lay off there until afternoon to give the Big Fellows a chance to see the shops. Anyway, it was more or less mutually understood that they were to be given the best the Hill Division had to offer.

Regan kept his pet flyer, the 1608, in the roundhouse, and tinkered over her for two days, and sent for Dan MacCaffery—there'd been a good deal of speculation amongst the engine crews as to who would get the run, and the men were hot for the honor.

Regan squinted at old Dan—and squinted at the 1608 on the pit beside him.

"How'd you think she looks, Dan?" he inquired casually.

The old engineer ran his eyes wistfully over the big racer, groomed to the minute, like the thoroughbred it was.

"She'll do you proud, Regan," he said simply.

And then Regan's fat little hand came down with a bang on the other's overalled shoulder—that was Regan's way.

"And you, too, Dan," he grinned. "I got you slated for the run."

"Me!" said MacCaffery, his wizened face lighting up.

"You—sure!" Regan's grin expanded. "It's coming to you, ain't it? You're the senior engineer on the division, ain't you? Well, then, what's the matter with you? Riley's doing the same for Pete Chartrand—he's putting Pete in the aisles. What?"

Old Dan looked at Regan, then at the 1608, and back at Regan again.

"Say," he said a little huskily, "the missus 'll be pleased when I tell her. We was talking it over last night, and hoping—just hoping, mind you, that mabbe——"

"Go tell her, then," said the little master mechanic, who didn't need any word picture to make him see Mrs. MacCaffery's face when she heard the news—and he gave the engineer a friendly push doorwards.

Not a very big thing—to pull the latch of the Directors' Special? Nothing to make a fuss over? Well no, perhaps not—not unless you were a railroad man. It meant quite a bit to Dan MacCaffery, though, and quite a bit to Mrs. MacCaffery because it was an honor coming to Dan; and it meant something to Regan, too. Call it a little thing—but little things count a whole lot, too, sometimes in this old world of ours, don't they?

There had been a sort of little programme mapped out. Regan, as naturally fell to his lot, being master mechanic, was to do the honors of the shops, and Carleton was to make the run up through the Rockies and over the division with the new directors: but at the last moment a telegram sent the superintendent flying East to a brother's sick bed, and the whole kit and caboodle of the honors, to his inward consternation and dismay, fell to Regan.

Regan, however, did the best he could. He fished out the black Sunday suit he wore on the rare occasions when he had time to know one day of the week from the other, wriggled into a boiled shirt and a stiff collar that was yellow for want of daylight, and, nervous as a galvanic battery, was down on the platform an hour before the train was due. Also, by the time the train rolled in, Regan's handkerchief was wringing wet from the sweat he mopped off his forehead—but five minutes after that the earnest little master mechanic, as he afterwards confided to Carleton, "wouldn't have given a whoop for two trainloads of 'em, let alone the measly lot you could crowd into one private car." Somehow, Regan had got it into his head that he was going on his mettle before a crowd of up-to-the-minute, way-up railroaders; but when he found there wasn't a practical railroad man amongst them, bar H. Herrington Campbell, to whom he promptly and whole-heartedly took a dislike, Regan experienced a sort of pitying contempt, which, if it passed over the nabobs' heads without doing them any harm, had at least the effect of putting the fat little master mechanic almost superciliously at his ease.

Inspect the shops? Not at all. They were out for a joy ride across the continent and the fun there was in it.

"How long we got here? Three hours? Wow!" boomed a big fellow, stretching his arms lazily as he gazed about him.

"Let's paint the town, boys," wheezed an asthmatic, bowlegged little man of fifty, who sported an enormous gold watch chain. "Come on and look the natives over!"

Regan, who had been a little hazy on the etiquette of chewing in select company, reached openly for his plug—and kind of squinted over it non-committingly, as he bit in, at H. Herrington Campbell, who stood beside him. Carleton had sized the new general manager up pretty well—cold as a snow man—and he looked it. H. Herrington Campbell was a spare-built man, with sharp, quick, black eyes, a face like a hawk, and lips so thin you wouldn't know he had any if one corner of his mouth hadn't been pried kind of open, so to speak, with the stub of a cigar.

"Go ahead and amuse yourselves, boys." H. Herrington Campbell talked out of the corner of his mouth where the cigar was. "We pull out at twelve-thirty sharp." Then to Regan, curtly: "We'll look the equipment and shops over, Mr. Regan."

"Yes—sure," agreed Regan, without much enthusiasm, and led the way across the tracks toward the roundhouse as a starting point for the inspection tour.

The whole blamed thing was different from the way Regan had figured it out in his mind beforehand; but Regan set out to make himself agreeable—and H. Herrington Campbell listened. H. Herrington Campbell was the greatest listener Regan had ever met, and Regan froze—and then Regan thawed out again, but not on account of H. Herrington Campbell. Regan might have an unresponsive audience, but then Regan didn't require an audience at all to warm him up when it came to his roundhouse, and his big mountain racers, and the shops he lay awake at night planning and thinking about. Here and there, H. Herrington Campbell shot out a question, crisp, incisive, unexpected, and lapsed into silence again—that was all.

They inspected everything, everything there was to inspect; but when they got through Regan had about as good an idea of what impression it had made on H. Herrington Campbell as he had when he started out, which is to say none at all. The new general manager just listened. Regan had done all the talking.

Not that H. Herrington Campbell sized up as a misfit, not by any means, far from it! Regan didn't make that mistake for a minute. He didn't need to be told that the other knew railroading from the ground up, he could feel it; but he didn't need to be told, either, that the other was more a high-geared efficiency machine than he was a man, he could feel that, too.

One word of praise Regan wanted, not for himself, but for the things he loved and worked over and into which he put his soul. And the one word, where a thousand were due, Regan did not get. The new general manager had the emotional instincts of a wooden Indian. Regan, toward the end of the morning, got to talking a little less himself, that is, aloud—inwardly he grew more eloquent than ever, cholerically so.

It was train time when they had finished, and the 1608, with old Dan MacCaffery, half out of the cab window as usual, had just backed down and coupled on the special, as Regan and the new general manager came along the platform from the upper freight sheds. And Regan, for all his inward spleen, couldn't help it, as they reached the big, powerful racer, spick and span from the guard-plates up.

"I dunno where you'll beat that, East or West," said Regan proudly, with a wave of his hand at the 1608. "Wish we had more of that type out here—we could use 'em. What do you think of her, Mr. Campbell—h'm?"

H. Herrington Campbell didn't appear to take any notice of the masterpiece of machine design to speak of. His eyes travelled over the engine, and fixed on Dan MacCaffery in the cab window. Dan had an old, but spotless, suit of overalls on, spotless because Mrs. MacCaffery, who was even then modestly sharing her husband's honors from the back of the crowd by the ticket-office window, had made them spotless with a good many hours' work the day before, for grease sticks hard even in a washtub; and on old Dan's wizened face was a genial smile that would have got an instant response from anybody—except H. Herrington Campbell. H. Herrington Campbell didn't smile, neither did he answer Regan's question.

"How old are you?" said he bluntly to Dan MacCaffery.

"Me?" said old Dan, taken aback for a moment. Then he laughed: "Blest if I know, sir, it's so long since I've kept track of birthdays. Sixty-one, I guess—no, sixty-two."

H. Herrington Campbell didn't appear to hear the old engineer's answer, any more than he had appeared to take any notice of the 1608. He had barely paused in his walk, and he was pulling out his watch now and looking at it as he continued along the platform—only to glance up again as Pete Chartrand, the senior conductor, gray-haired, gray-bearded, but dapper as you please in his blue uniform and brass buttons, hurried by toward the cab with the green tissue copy of the engineer's orders in his hand.

Regan opened his mouth to say something—and, instead, snapped his jaws shut like a steel trap. The last little bit of enthusiasm had oozed out of the usually good-natured little master mechanic. Two days' tinkering with the 1608, the division all keyed up to a smile, everybody trying to do his best to please, a dozen little intimate plans and arrangements talked over and worked out, were all now a matter of earnest and savage regret to Regan.

"By Christmas," growled Regan to himself, as he elbowed his way through the crowd on the platform—for the town, to the last squaw with a papoose strapped on her back, had turned out to see the Directors' Special off—"by Christmas, if 'twere not for Carleton's sake, I'd tell him, the little tin god that he thinks he is, what I think of him! And mabbe," added Regan viciously, as he swung aboard the observation car behind H. Herrington Campbell, "and mabbe I will yet!"

But Regan's cup, brimming as he held it to be, was not yet full. It was a pretty swell train, the Directors' Special, that the crowd sent off with a burst of cheering that lasted until the markers were lost to view around a butte; a pretty swell train, about the swellest that had ever decorated the train sheet of the Hill Division—two sleepers, a diner and observation, mostly mahogany, and the baggage car a good enough imitation to fit into the color scheme without outraging even the most esthetic taste, and the 1608 on the front end, gold-leafed, and shining like a mirror from polished steel and brass. As far as looks went there wasn't a thing the matter with it, not a thing; it would have pulled a grin of pride out of a Polack section hand—which is pulling some. And there wasn't anything the matter with the send-off, either, that was propitious enough to satisfy anybody; but, for all that, barring the first hour or so out of Big Cloud, trouble and the Directors' Special that afternoon were as near akin as twin brothers. Nothing went right; everything went wrong—except the 1608, that ran as smooth as a full-jewelled watch, when old Dan, for the mix-up behind him, could run her at all. The coupling on the diner broke—that started it. When they got that fixed, something else happened; and then the forward truck of the baggage car developed a virulent attack of hot box.

The special had the track swept for her clean to the Western foothills, and rights through. But she didn't need them. Her progress was a crawl. The directors, in spite of their dollar-ante and the roof of the observation car for the limit, began to lose interest in their game.

"What is this new toy we've bought?" inquired one of them plaintively. "A funeral procession?"

Even H. Herrington Campbell began to show emotion—he shifted his cigar stub at intervals from one corner of his mouth to the other. Regan was hot—both ways—inside and out; hotter a whole lot than the hot box he took his coat off to, and helped old Pete Chartrand and the train crew slosh buckets of water over every time the Directors' Special stopped, which was frequently.

It wasn't old Pete's fault. It wasn't anybody's fault. It was just blamed hard luck, and it lasted through the whole blamed afternoon. And by the time they pulled into Elk River, where Regan had wired for another car, and had transferred the baggage, the Directors' Special, as far as temper went, was as touchy as a man with a bad case of gout. As they coupled on the new car, Regan spoke to old Dan in the cab—spoke from his heart.

"We're two hours late, Dan—h'm? For the love of Mike, let her out and do something. That bunch back there's getting so damned polite to me you'd think the words would melt in their mouths—what?"

Old Dan puckered his face into a reassuring smile under the peak of his greasy cap.

"I guess we're all right now we've got rid of that car," he said. "You leave it to me. You leave it to me, Regan."

Pete Chartrand, savage as though the whole matter were a personal and direct affront, reached up with a new tissue to the cab window.

"Two hours and ten minutes late!" he snapped out. "Nice, ain't it! Directors' Special, all the swells, we're doing ourselves proud! Oh, hell!"

"Keep your shirt on, Pete," said Regan, somewhat inconsistently. "Losing your hair over it won't do any good. You're not to blame, are you? Well then, forget it!"

Two hours and ten minutes late! Bad enough; but, in itself, nothing disastrous. It wasn't the first time in railroading that schedules had gone aglimmering. Only there was more to it than that. There were not a few other trains, fast freights, passengers, locals and work trains, whose movements and the movements of the Directors' Special were intimately connected one with the other. Two hours and ten minutes was sufficient, a whole lot more than sufficient, to play havoc with a despatcher's carefully planned meeting points over a hundred miles of right of way, and all afternoon Donkin had been chewing his lips over his train sheet back in the despatcher's office at Big Cloud, until the Directors' Special, officially Special 117, had become a nightmare to him. Orders, counter orders, cancellations, new orders had followed each other all afternoon—and now a new batch went out, as the rehabilitated Special went out of Elk River, and Bob Donkin, with a sigh of relief at the prospect of clear sailing ahead, pushed the hair out of his eyes and relaxed a little as he began to give back the "completes."

It wasn't Donkin's fault; there was never so much as a hint that it was. The day man at Mitre Peak—forgot. That's all—but it's a hard word, the hardest there is in railroading. There was a lot of traffic moving that afternoon, and with sections, regulars, and extras all trying to dodge Special 117, they were crowding each other pretty hard—and the day man at Mitre Peak forgot.

It was edging dusk as old Pete Chartrand, from the Elk River platform, lifted a finger to old Dan MacCaffery in the cab, and old Dan, with a sort of grim smile at the knowledge that the honor of the Hill Division, what there was left of it as far as Special 117 was concerned, was up to him, opened out the 1608 to take the "rights" they'd given him afresh for all there was in it.

From Elk River to Mitre Peak, where the right of way crosses the Divide, it is a fairly stiff climb—from Mitre Peak to Eagle Pass, at the cañon bed, it is an equally emphatic drop; and the track in its gyrations around the base of the towering, jutting peaks, where it clings as a fly clings to a wall, is an endless succession of short tangents and shorter curves. The Rockies, as has been said, had been harnessed, but they had never been tamed—nor never will be. Silent, brooding always, there seems a sullen patience about them, as though they were waiting warily—to strike. There are stretches, many of them, where no more than a hundred yards will blot utterly one train from the sight of another; where the thundering reverberations of the one, flung echoing back and forth from peak to peak, drown utterly the sounds of the other. And west of Mitre Peak it is like this—and the operator at Mitre Peak forgot the holding order for Extra Freight No. 69.

It came quick, quick as the winking of an eye, sudden as the crack of doom. Extra Freight No. 69 was running west, too, in the same direction as the Directors' Special; only Extra No. 69 was a heavy train and she was feeling her way down the grade like a snail, while the Directors' Special, with the spur and prod of her own delinquency and misbehavior, was hitting up the fastest clip that old Dan, who knew every inch of the road with his eyes shut, dared to give within the limits of safety on that particular piece of track.

It came quick. Ten yards clear on the right of way, then a gray wall of rock, a short, right-angled dive of the track around it—and, as the pilot of the 1608 swung the curve, old Dan's heart for an instant stopped its beat—three red lights focussed themselves before his eyes, the tail lights on the caboose of Extra No. 69. There was a yell from little Billy Dawes, his fireman.

"My God, Dan, we're into her!" Dawes yelled. "We're into her!"

Cool old veteran, one of the best that ever pulled a throttle in any cab, there was a queer smile on old Dan MacCaffery's lips. He needed no telling that disaster he could not avert, could only in a measure mitigate, perhaps, was upon them; but even as he checked, checked hard, and checked again, the thought of others was uppermost in his mind—the train crew of the freight, some of them, anyway, in the caboose. Dawes was beside him now, almost at his elbow, as nervy and as full of grit as the engineer he'd shovelled for for five years and thought more of than he did of any other man on earth—and for the fraction of a second old Dan MacCaffery looked into the other's eyes.

"Give the boys in the caboose a chance for their lives, Billy, in case they ain't seen or heard us," he shouted in his fireman's ear. "Hold that whistle lever down."

Twenty yards, fifteen between them—the 1608 in the reverse bucking like a maddened bronco, old Dan working with all the craft he knew at his levers—ten yards—and two men, scurrying like rats from a sinking ship, leaped from the tail of the caboose to the right of way.

"Jump!" The word came like a half sob from old Dan. There was nothing more that any man could do. And he followed his fireman through the gangway.

It made a mess—a nasty mess. From the standpoint of traffic, as nasty a mess as the Hill Division had ever faced. The rear of the freight went to matchwood, the 1608, the baggage and two Pullmans turned turtle, derailing the remaining cars behind; but, by a miracle, it seemed, there wasn't any one seriously hurt.

Scared? Yes—pretty badly. The directors, a shaken, white-lipped crowd, poured out of the observation car to the track side. There was no cigar in H. Herrington Campbell's mouth.

It was dark by then, but the wreckage caught fire and flung a yellow glow far across the cañon, and in a shadowy way lighted up the immediate surroundings. Train crews and engine crews of both trains hurried here and there, torches and lanterns began to splutter and wink, hoarse shouts began to echo back and forth, adding their quota to a weird medley of escaping steam and crackling flame.

Regan, from a hasty consultation with old Dan MacCaffery and old Pete Chartrand, that sent the two men on the jump to carry out his orders, turned—to face H. Herrington Campbell.

"Nobody hurt, sir—thank God!" puffed the fat little master mechanic, in honest relief.

H. Herrington Campbell's eyes were on the retreating forms of the engineer and conductor.

"Oh, indeed!" he said coldly. "And the whole affair is hardly worth mentioning, I take it—quite a common occurrence. You've got some pretty old men handling your trains out here, haven't you?"

Regan's face went hard.

"They're pretty good men," he said shortly. "And there's no blame coming to them for this, Mr. Campbell, if that's what you mean."

H. Herrington Campbell's fingers went tentatively to his vest pocket for a cigar, extracted the broken remains of one—the relic of his own collision with the back of a car seat where the smash had hurled him—and threw it away with an icy smile.

"Blame?" expostulated H. Herrington Campbell ironically. "I don't want to blame any one; I'm looking for some one to congratulate—on the worst run division and the most pitiful exemplification of near-railroading I've had any experience with in twenty years—Mr. Regan."

For a full minute Regan did not speak. He couldn't. And then the words came away with a roar from the bluff little master mechanic.

"By glory!" he exploded. "We don't take that kind of talk out here even from general managers—we don't have to! That's straight enough, ain't it? Well, I'll give you some more of it, now I've started. I don't like you. I don't like that pained look on your face. I've been filling up on you all morning, and you don't digest well. We don't stand for anything as raw as that from any man on earth. And you needn't hunt around for any greased words, as far as I'm concerned, to do your firing with—you can have my resignation as master mechanic of the worst run division you've seen in twenty years right now, if you want it—h'm?"

H. Herrington Campbell was gallingly preoccupied.

"How long are we stalled here for—the rest of the night?" he inquired irrelevantly.

Regan stared at him a moment—still apoplectic.

"I've ordered them to run the forward end of the freight to Eagle Pass, and take you down," he said, choking a little. "There's a couple of flats left whole that you can pile yourselves and your baggage on, and down there they'll make up a new train for you."

"Oh, very good," said H. Herrington Campbell curtly.

And ten minutes later, the Directors' Special, metamorphosed into a string of box cars with two flats trailing on the rear, on which the newly elected board of the Transcontinental sat, some on their baggage, and some with their legs hanging over the sides, pulled away from the wreck and headed down the grade for Eagle Pass. Funny, the transition from the luxurious leather upholstery of the observation to an angry, chattering mob of magnates, clinging to each others' necks as they jounced on the flooring of an old flat? Well perhaps—it depends on how you look at it. Regan looked at it—and Regan grinned for the pure savagery that was in him.

"But I guess," said Regan to himself, as he watched them go, "I guess mabbe I'll be looking for that job on the Penn after all—h'm?"

Everybody talked about the Directors' Special run—naturally. And, naturally, everybody wondered what was going to come from it. It was an open secret that Regan had handed one to the general manager without any candy coating on the pill, and the Hill Division sort of looked to see the master mechanic's head fall and Regan go. But Regan did not go; and, for that matter, nothing else happened—for a while.

Carleton came back and got the rights of it from Regan—and said nothing to Regan about his reply to H. Herrington Campbell's letter, in which he had stated that if they were looking for a new master mechanic there would be a division superintendency vacant at the same time. The day man at Mitre Peak quit railroading—without waiting for an investigation. Old Dan MacCaffery and Billy Dawes went back to their regular run with the 304. And the division generally settled down again to its daily routine—and from the perspective of distance, if the truth be told, got to grinning reminiscently at the run the Big Bugs had had for their money.

Only the grin came too soon.

A week or so passed, pay day came and went—and the day after that a general order from the East hit the Hill Division like a landslide.

Carleton slit the innocent-looking official manila open with his paper knife, chucked the envelope in the wastebasket, read the communication, read it again with gathering brows—and sent for Regan. He handed the form to the master mechanic without a word, as the latter entered the office.

Regan read it—read it again, as his chief had—and two hectic spots grew bright on his cheeks. It was brief, curt, cold—for the good of the service, safety, and operating efficiency, it stated. In a word, on and after the first of the month the services of employees over the age of sixty years would no longer be required. Those were early days in railroading; not a word about pensions, not a word about half-pay; just sixty years and—out!

The paper crackled in Regan's clenched fists; Carleton was beating a tattoo on his teeth with the mouthpiece of his pipe—there wasn't another sound in the office for a moment. Then Regan spoke—and his voice broke a little.

"It's a damned shame!" he said, through his teeth. "It's that skunk Campbell."

"How many men does it affect?" asked Carleton, looking through the window.

"I don't know," said the little master mechanic bitterly; "but I know one that it'll hit harder than all the rest put together—and that's old Dan MacCaffery."

There was hurt in the super's gray eyes, as he looked at the big-hearted little master mechanic's working face.

"I was thinking of old Dan myself," he said, in his low, quiet way.

"He hasn't a cent!" stormed Regan. "Not a cent—not a thing on earth to fall back on. Think of it! Him and that little old missus of his, God bless her sweet old face, that have been scrimping all these years to pay back what that blasted kid robbed out of the bank. It ain't right, Carleton—it ain't right—it's hell, that's what it is! Sixty years! There ain't a better man ever pulled a latch in a cab, there ain't a better one pulling one anywhere to-day than old Dan MacCaffery. And—and I kind of feel as though I were to blame for this, in a way."

"To blame?" repeated Carleton.

"I put him on that run, and Riley put old Pete Chartrand on. It kind of stuck them under Campbell's nose. The two of them together, the two oldest men—and the blamedest luck that ever happened on a run! H'm?"

Carleton shook his head.

"I don't think it would have made any difference in the long run, Tommy. I told you there'd be changes as soon as the new board got settled in the saddle."

Regan tugged viciously at his scraggly brown mustache.

"Mabbe," he growled fiercely; "but Campbell's seen old Dan now, or I'd put one over on the pup—I would that! There ain't any birth register that I ever heard of out here in the mountains, and if Dan said he was fifty I'd take his word for it."

"Dan wouldn't say that," said Carleton quietly, "not even to hold his job."

"No, of course he wouldn't!" spluttered the fat little master mechanic, belligerently inconsistent. "Who said he would? And, anyway, it wouldn't do any good. Campbell asked him his age, and Dan told him. And—and—oh, what's the use! I know it, I know I'm only talking, Carleton."

Neither of them said anything for a minute; then Regan, pacing up and down the room, spoke again:

"It's a clean sweep, eh? Train crews, engine crews, everything—there ain't any other job for him. Over sixty is out everywhere. A white man—one of the whitest"—Regan sort of said it to himself—"old Dan MacCaffery. Who's to tell him?"

Carleton drew a match, with a long crackling noise, under the arm of his chair.

"Me?" said Regan, and his voice broke again. He stopped before the desk, and, leaning, over, stretched out his arm impulsively across it. "I'd rather have that arm cut off than tell him, Carleton," he said huskily. "I don't know what he'll say, I don't know what he'll do, but I know it will break his heart, and break Mrs. MacCaffery's heart—Carleton." He took another turn the length of the room and back again. "But I guess it had better be me," said the little master mechanic, more to himself than to Carleton. "I guess it had—I'd hate to think of his getting it so's it would hurt any more than it had to, h'm?"

And so Tommy Regan told old Dan MacCaffery—that afternoon—the day after pay day.

Regan didn't mean to exactly, not then—he was kind of putting it off, as it were—until next day—and fretting himself sick over it. But that afternoon old Dan, on his way down to the roundhouse—Dan took out the regular passenger local that left Big Cloud at 6.55 every evening, and to spend an hour ahead of running time with the 304 was as much a habit with Dan as breathing was—hunted Regan up in the latter's office just before the six o'clock whistle blew. For an instant Regan thought the engineer had somehow or other already heard the news, but a glance at Dan's face dispelled that idea as quickly as it had come. Dan was always smiling, but there was a smile on the wizened, puckered, honest old face now that seemed to bubble out all over it.

"Regan," said old Dan, bursting with happy excitement, "I just had to drop in and tell you on the way over to the roundhouse, and the missus, she says, 'You tell Mr. Regan, Dan; he'll be rightdown glad.'"

Regan got up out of his chair. There seemed a sense of disaster coming somehow that set him to breathing heavily.

"Sure, Dan—sure," he said weakly. "What is it?"

"Well," said Dan, "you know that—that trouble the boy got into back—back——'

"Yes, I know," said Regan hastily.

"Well," said Dan, "it's taken a long time, a good many years, but yesterday, you know, was pay day; and to-day, Regan, we, the missus and me, Regan, sent the last of that money East, interest and all, the last cent of it, cleaned it all up. Say, Regan, I feel like I was walking on air, and you'd ought to have seen the missus sitting up there in the cottage and smiling through the tears. 'Oh, Dan!' she says, and then she gets up and puts her two hands on my shoulders, and I felt blamed near like crying myself. 'We can start in now, Dan, to save up for old age,' she says, smiling. Say, Regan, ain't it—ain't it fine? We're going to start in now and save up for old age."

Regan didn't say a word. It came with a rush, choking him up in his throat, and something misty in front of his eyes so he couldn't see—and he turned his back, searching for his hat on the peg behind his desk. He jammed his hat on his head, and jerked it low down over his forehead.

"Ain't you—glad?" said old Dan, a sort of puzzled hurt in his eyes.

"I'll walk over a bit of the way to the roundhouse with you, Dan," said Regan gruffly. "Come on."

They stepped out of the shops, and across a spur—old Dan, still puzzled, striding along beside the master mechanic.

"What's the matter, Regan?" he asked reproachfully. "I thought you'd be——"

And then Regan stopped—and his hand fell in a tight grip on the other's shoulder.

"I got to tell you, Dan," he blurted out. "But I don't need to tell you what I think of it. It's a damned shame! The new crowd that's running this road don't want anybody helping 'em to do it after the first of the month that's over sixty years of age. You're—you're out."

Old Dan didn't seem to get it for a minute; then a whiteness kind of crept around his lips, and his eyes, from Regan, seemed to circuit in a queer, wistful way about the yards, and fix finally on the roundhouse in front of him; and then he lifted his peaked cap, in the way he had of doing, and scratched near his ear where the hair was. He hit Regan pretty hard with what he said.

"Regan," he said, "there's two weeks yet to the end of the month. Don't tell her, Regan, and don't you let the boys tell her—there's two weeks she don't need to worry. I'd kind of like to have her have them two weeks."

Regan nodded—there weren't any words that would come, and he couldn't have spoken them if there had.

"Yes," said old Dan, sort of whispering to himself, "I'd kind of like to have her have them two weeks."

Regan cleared his throat, pulled at his mustache, swore under his breath, and cleared his throat again.

"What'll you do, Dan—afterwards?"

Old Dan straightened up, looked at Regan—and smiled.

"I dunno," he said, shaking his head and smiling. "I dunno; but it'll be all right. We'll get along somehow." His eyes shifted to the roundhouse again. "I guess I'd better be getting over to the 304," he said—and turned abruptly away.

Regan watched him go, watched the overalled figure with a slight shoulder stoop cross the turntable, watched until the other disappeared inside the roundhouse doors; and then he turned and walked slowly across the tracks and uptown toward his boarding house. "Don't tell her"—the words kept reiterating themselves insistently—"don't let the boys tell her."

"I guess they won't," said Regan, muttering fiercely to himself. "I guess they won't."

Nor did they. The division and Big Cloud kept the secret for those two weeks—and they kept it for long after that. The little old lady in the lace cap never knew—they ranked her high, those pioneering women kind of hers in that little mountain town, those rough-and-ready toilers who had been her husband's mates—she never knew.

But everybody else knew, and they watched old Dan as the days went by, watched him somehow with a tight feeling in their throats, and kept aloof a little—because they didn't know what to say—kept aloof a little awkwardly, as it were. Not that there seemed much of any difference in the old engineer; it was more a something that they sensed. Old Dan came down to the roundhouse in the late afternoon an hour before train time, just as he always did, puttered and oiled around and coddled the 304 for an hour, just as he always did, just as though he was always going to do it, took his train out, came back on the early morning run, backed the 304 into the roundhouse, and trudged up Main Street to where it began to straggle into the buttes, to where his cottage and the little old lady were—just as he always did. And the little old lady, with the debt paid, went about the town for those two weeks happier-looking, younger-looking than Big Cloud had ever seen her before. That was all.

But Regan, worrying, pulling at his mustache, put it up to little Billy Dawes, old Dan's fireman, one day in the roundhouse near the end of the two weeks.

"How's Dan take it in the cab, Billy?" he asked.

The little fireman rolled the hunk of greasy waste in his hands, and swabbed at his fingers with it for a moment before he answered; then he sent a stream of blackstrap juice viciously into the pit, and with a savage jerk hurled the hunk of waste after it.

"By God!" he said fiercely.

Regan blinked—and waited.

"Just the same as ever he was," said Billy Dawes huskily, after a silence. "Just the same—when he thinks you're not looking. I've seen him sometimes when he didn't know I was looking."

Regan said: "H'm!"—kind of coughed it out, reached for his plug, as was usual with him in times of stress, bit into it deeply, sputtered something hurriedly about new piston rings for the left-hand head, and, muttering to himself, left the roundhouse.

And that night old Dan MacCaffery took out the 304 and the local passenger for the run west and the run back east—just as he always did. And the next night, and for two nights after that he did the same.

Came then the night of the 31st.

It was the fall of the year and the dusk fell early; and by a little after six, with the oil lamps lighted, that at best only filtered spasmodic yellow streaks of gloom about the roundhouse, the engines back on the pits were beginning to loom up through the murk in big, grotesque, shadowy shapes, as Regan, crossing the turntable, paused for a moment hesitantly. Why he was there, he didn't know. He hadn't meant to be there. He was just a little early for his nightly game of pedro with Carleton over in the super's office—it wasn't much more than half past six—so he had had some time to put in—that must be about the size of it. He hadn't meant to come. There wasn't any use in it, none at all, nothing he could do; better, in fact, if he stayed away—only he had left the boarding house early—and he was down there now, standing on the turntable—and it was old Dan's last run.

"I guess," mumbled Regan, "I'll go back over to the station. Carleton 'll be along in a few minutes. I guess I will, h'm?"—only Regan didn't. He started on again slowly over the turntable, and entered the roundhouse.

There wasn't anybody in sight around the pit on which the 304 stood, nobody puttering over the links and motion-gear, poking here and there solicitously with a long-spouted oil can, as he had half, more than half, expected to find old Dan doing; but he heard some one moving about in the cab, and caught the flare of a torch. Regan walked down the length of the engine, and peered into the cab. It was Billy Dawes.

"Where's Dan, Billy? Ain't he about?" inquired Regan.

The fireman came out into the gangway.

"Yes," he answered; "he's down there back of the tender by the fitters' benches. He's looking for some washers he said he wanted for a loose stud nut. I'll get him for you."

"No; never mind," said Regan. "I'll find him."

It was pretty dark at the rear of the roundhouse in the narrow space between the engine tenders on the various pits and the row of workbenches that flanked the wall, and for a moment, as Regan reached the end of the 304's tender, he could not see any one—and then he stopped short, as he made out old Dan's form down on the floor by the end bench as though he were groping for something underneath it.

For a minute, two perhaps, Regan stood there motionless, watching old Dan MacCaffery. Then he drew back, tiptoed softly away, went out through the engine doors, and, as he crossed the tracks to the station platform, brushed his hand hurriedly across his eyes.

Regan didn't play much of a game of pedro that night—his heart wasn't in it. Carleton had barely dealt the first hand when Regan heard the 304 backing down and coupling on the local, and he got up from his chair and walked to the window, and stood there watching until the local pulled out.

Carleton didn't say anything—just dealt the cards over again, and began once more as Regan resumed his seat.

An hour passed. Regan, fidgety and nervous, played in a desultory fashion; Carleton, disturbed, patiently correcting the master mechanic's mistakes. The game was a farce.

"What's the matter, Tommy?" asked Carleton gravely, as Regan made a misdeal twice in succession.

"Nothing," said Regan shortly. "Go on, play; it's your bid."

Carleton shook his head.

"You're taking it too much to heart, Tommy," he said. "It won't do you any good—either of you—you or Dan. He'll pull out of it somehow. You'll see."

There was a queer look on Regan's face as he stared for an instant at Carleton across the table, and he opened his lips as though to say something—and closed them again in a hard line instead.

Carleton bid.

"It's yours," said Regan.

Carleton led—and then Regan, with a sweep of his hand, shot his cards into the center of the table.

"It's no good," he said gruffly, getting up. "I can't play the blamed game to-night, I——" He stopped suddenly and turned his head, as a chair scraped sharply in the despatchers' room next door.

A step sounded in the hall, the super's door was flung open, and Spence put in his head.

One glance at the despatcher, and Carleton was on his feet.

"What's the matter, Spence?" he asked, quick and hard.

Regan hadn't moved—but Regan spoke now, answering the question that was addressed to the despatcher, and answering it in a strangely assertive, absolute, irrefutable way.

"The local," he said. "Number Forty-seven. Dan MacCaffery's dead."

Both men stared at him in amazement—and Spence, sort of unconsciously, nodded his head.

"Yes," said Spence, still staring at Regan. "There was some sort of engine trouble just west of Big Eddy in the Beaver Cañon. I haven't got the rights of it yet, only that somehow MacCaffery got his engine stopped just in time to keep the train from going over the bridge embankment—and went out doing it. There's no one else hurt. Dawes, the fireman, and Conductor Neale walked back to Big Eddy. I've got them on the wire now. Come into the other room."

Regan stepped to the door mechanically, and, with Carleton behind him, followed Spence into the despatchers' room. There, Carleton, tight-lipped, leaned against the table; Regan, his face like stone, took his place at Spence's elbow, as the despatcher dropped into his chair.

There wasn't a sound in the room for a moment save the clicking of the sender in a quick tattoo under Spence's fingers. Then Spence picked up a pencil and began scribbling the message on a pad, as the sounder spoke—Billy Dawes was dictating his story to the Big Eddy operator.

"It was just west of Big Eddy, just before you get to the curve at the approach to the Beaver Bridge," came Dawes' story, "and we were hitting up a fast clip, but no more than usual, when we got a jolt in the cab that spilled me into the coal and knocked Dan off his seat. It all came so quick there wasn't time to think, but I knew we'd shed a driver on Dan's side, and the rod was cutting the side of the cab like a knife through cheese. I heard Dan shout something about the train going over the embankment and into the river if we ever hit the Beaver curve, and then he jumped for the throttle and the air. There wasn't a chance in a million for him, but it was the only chance for every last one of the rest of us. He made it somehow, I don't know how; it's all a blur to me. He checked her, and then the rod caught him, and——" The sounder broke, almost with a human sob in it, it seemed, and then went on again: "We stopped just as the 304 turned turtle. None of the coaches left the rails. That's all."

Regan spoke through dry lips.

"Ask him what Dan was like in the cab to-night," he said hoarsely.

Spence looked up and around at the master mechanic, as though he had not heard aright.

"Ask him what I say," repeated Regan shortly. "What was Dan like in the cab to-night?"

Spence bent over his key again. There was a pause before the answer came.

"He says he hadn't seen Dan so cheerful for months," said Spence presently.

Regan nodded, kind of curiously, kind of as though it were the answer he expected—and then he nodded at Carleton, and the two went back to the super's room.

Regan closed the door behind him.

Carleton dropped into his chair, his gray eyes hard and full of pain.

"I don't understand, Tommy," he said heavily. "It's almost as though you knew it was going to happen."

Regan came across the floor and stood in front of the desk.

"I did," he said in a low way. "I think I was almost certain of it."

Carleton pulled himself forward with a jerk in his chair.

"Do you know what you are saying, Tommy?" he asked sharply.

"I'll tell you," Regan said, in the same low way. "I went over to the roundhouse to-night before Dan took the 304 out. I didn't see Dan anywhere about, and I asked Dawes where he was. Dawes said he had gone back to the fitters' benches to look for some washers. I walked on past the tender and I found him there down on the floor on his knees by one of the benches—but he wasn't looking for any washers. He was praying."

With a sharp exclamation, Carleton pushed back his chair, and, standing, leaned over the desk toward Regan.

Regan swallowed a lump in his throat—and shook his head.

"He didn't see me," he said brokenly, "he didn't know I was there. He was praying aloud. I heard what he said. It's been ringing in my head all night, word for word, while I was trying to play with those"—he jerked his hand toward the scattered cards on the desk between them. "I can hear him saying it now. It's the queerest prayer I ever heard; and I guess he prayed the way he lived—as though he was kind of intimate with God."

"Yes?" prompted Carleton softly, as Regan paused.

Regan turned his head away as his eyes filled suddenly—and his voice was choked.

"What he said was this, just as though he was talking to you or me: 'You know how it is, God. I wouldn't take that way myself unless You fixed it up for me, because it wouldn't be right unless You did it. But I hope, God, You'll think that's the best way out of it. You see, there ain't nothing left as it is, but if we fixed it that way there'd be the fraternal insurance to take care of the missus, and she wouldn't never know. And then, You see, God, I guess my work is all done, and—and I'd kind of like to quit while I was still on the pay roll—I'd kind of like to finish that way, and to-night's the last chance. You understand, God, don't You?'"

Regan's lips were quivering as he stopped.

There was silence for a moment, then Carleton looked up from the blotter on his desk.

"Tommy," he said in his big, quiet way, as his hand touched Regan's sleeve, "tell me why you didn't stop him, then, from going out to-night?"

Regan didn't answer at once. He went over to the window and stared out at the twinkling switch lights in the yards below—he was still staring out of the window as he spoke.

"He didn't put it up to me," said Regan. "He put it up to God."

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