The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)


Previous Page
Next Page

Chapter 2

When the Brock-Harrison party, familiarly known--among those with whom
they were by no means familiar--as the Steel Crowd, bought the
transcontinental lines that J. S. Bucks, the second vice-president and
general manager, had built up into a system, their first visit to the
West End was awaited with some uneasiness. An impression prevailed that
the new owners might take decided liberties with what Conductor O'Brien
termed the "personal" of the operating department.

But week after week followed the widely heralded announcement of the
purchase without the looked-for visit from the new owners. During the
interval West End men from the general superintendent down were
admittedly on edge--with the exception of Conductor O'Brien. "If I go, I
go," was all he said, and in making the statement in his even,
significant way it was generally understood that the trainman that ran
the pay-cars and the swell mountain specials had in view a
superintendency on the New York Central. On what he rested his
confidence in the opening no one certainly knew, though Pat Francis
claimed it was based wholly on a cigar in a glass case once given to the
genial conductor by Chauncey M. Depew when travelling special to the
coast under his charge.

Be that as it may, when the West End was at last electrified by the
announcement that the Brock-Harrison syndicate train had already crossed
the Missouri and might be expected any day, O'Brien with his usual luck
was detailed as one of the conductors to take charge of the visitors.

The pang in the operating department was that the long-delayed inspection
tour should have come just at a time when the water had softened things
until every train on the mountain division was run under slow-orders.

At McCloud Vice-president Bucks, a very old campaigner, had held the
party for two days to avoid the adverse conditions in the west and turned
the financiers of the party south to inspect branches while the road was
drying in the hills. But the party of visitors contained two distinct
elements, the money-makers and the money-spenders--the generation that
made the investment and the generation that distributed the dividends.
The young people rebelled at branch line trips and insisted on heading
for sightseeing and hunting straight into the mountains. Accordingly, at
McCloud the party split, and while Henry S. Brock and his business
associates looked over the branches, his private cars containing his
family and certain of their friends were headed for the headquarters of
the mountain division, Medicine Bend.

Medicine Bend is not quite the same town it used to be, and
disappointment must necessarily attend efforts to identify the once
familiar landmarks of the mountain division. Improvement, implacable
priestess of American industry, has well-nigh obliterated the picturesque
features of pioneer days. The very right of way of the earliest overland
line, abandoned for miles and miles, is seen now from the car windows
bleaching on the desert. So once its own rails, vigorous and aggressive,
skirted grinning heaps of buffalo bones, and its own tangents were spiked
across the grave of pony rider and Indian brave--the king was: the king
is.

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.6/5 (245 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment