The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 1, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 1

The train, a special, made up of a private car and a diner, was running
on a slow order and crawled between the bluffs at a snail's pace.

Ahead, the sun was sinking into the foothills and wherever the eye
could reach to the horizon barren wastes lay riotously green under the
golden blaze. The river, swollen everywhere out of its banks, spread
in a broad and placid flood of yellow over the bottoms, and a hundred
shallow lakes studded with willowed islands marked its wandering course
to the south and east. The clear, far air of the mountains, the glory
of the gold on the June hills and the illimitable stretch of waters
below, spellbound the group on the observation platform.

"It's a pity, too," declared Conductor O'Brien, who was acting as
mountain Baedeker, "that we're held back this way when we're covering
the prettiest stretch on the road for running. It is right along here
where you are riding that the speed records of the world have been
made. Fourteen and six-tenths miles were done in nine and a half
minutes just west of that curve about six months ago--of course it was
down hill."

Several of the party were listening. "Do you use speed recorders out
here?" asked Allen Harrison.

"How's that?"

"Do you use speed recorders?"

"Only on our slow trains," replied O'Brien. "To put speed recorders on
Paddy McGraw or Jimmie the Wind would be like timing a teal duck with
an eight-day clock. Sir?" he asked, turning to another questioner
while the laugh lingered on his side. "No; those are not really
mountains at all. Those are the foothills of the Sleepy Cat
range--west of the Spider Water. We get into that range about two
hundred miles from here--well, I say they are west of the Spider, but
for ten days it's been hard to say exactly where the Spider is. The
Spider is making us all the trouble with high water just now--and we're
coming out into the valley in about a minute," he added as the car gave
an embarrassing lurch. "The track is certainly soft, but if you'll
stay right where you are, on this side, ladies, you'll get the view of
your lives when we leave the bluffs. The valley is about nine miles
broad and it's pretty much all under water."

Beyond the curve they were taking lay a long tangent stretching like a
steel wand across a sea of yellow, and as their engine felt its way
very gingerly out upon it there rose from the slow-moving trucks of
their car the softened resonance that tells of a sounding-board of

Soon they were drawn among wooded knolls between which hurried little
rivers tossed out of the Spider flood into dry waterways and brawling
with surprised stones and foaming noisily at stubborn root and
impassive culvert. Through the trees the travellers caught passing
glimpses of shaded eddies and a wilderness of placid pools. "And
this," murmured Gertrude Brock to her sister Marie, "this is the
Spider!" O'Brien, talking to the men at her elbow, overheard.
"Hardly, Miss Brock; not yet. You haven't seen the river yet. This is
only the backwater."

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