The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 6, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 6

At five o'clock that evening, snow was falling at Medicine Bend, but
Callahan, as he studied the weather bulletins, found consolation in the
fact that it was not raining, and resting his heels on a table littered
with train-sheets he forced the draft on a shabby brier and meditated.

There were times when snow had been received with strong words at the
Wickiup: but when summer fairly opened Callahan preferred snow to rain
as strongly as he preferred genuine Lone Jack to the spurious compounds
that flooded the Western market.

The chief element of speculation in his evening reflections was as to
what was going on west of the range, for Callahan knew through cloudy
experience that what happens on one side of a mountain chain is no
evidence as to what is doing on the other--and by species of warm
weather depravity that night something was happening west of the range.

"It is curious," mused Callahan, as Morrison, the head operator, handed
him some McCloud messages--"curious, that we get nothing from Sleepy

Sleepy Cat, it should be explained, is a new town on the West End; not
only that, but a division town, and though one may know something about
the Mountain Division he may yet be puzzled at Callahan's mention of
Sleepy Cat. When gold was found in the Pilot range and camps grew up
and down Devil's Gap like mushrooms, a branch was run from Sleepy Cat
through the Pilot country, and the tortoise-like way station became at
once a place of importance. It takes its name from the neighboring
mountain around the base of which winds the swift Rat River. At Sleepy
Cat town the main line leaves the Rat, and if a tenderfoot brakeman ask
a reservation buck why the mountain is called Sleepy Cat the Indian
will answer, always the same, "It lets the Rat run away."

"Now it's possible," suggested Hughie Morrison, looking vaguely at the
stove, "that the wires are down."

"Nonsense," objected Callahan.

"It is raining at Soda Sink," persisted Morrison, mildly.

"What?" demanded the general superintendent, pulling his pipe from his
mouth. Hughie Morrison kept cool. His straight, black hair lay
boyishly smooth across his brow. There was no guile in his expression
even though he had stunned Callahan, which was precisely what he had
intended. "It is raining at Soda Sink," he repeated.

Now there is no day in the mountains that goes back of the awful
tradition concerning rain at Soda Sink. Before Tom Porter, first
manager; before Brodie, who built the bridges; before Sikes, longest in
the cab; before Pat Francis, oldest of conductors, runs that tradition
about rain at the Sink--which is desert absolute--where it never does
rain and never should. When it rains at Soda Sink, this say the
Medicine men, the Cat will fall on the Rat. It is Indian talk as old
as the foothills.

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