The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 10, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 10

The directors' party had been inspecting the Camp Pilot mines. The
train was riding the crest of the pass when the sun set, and in the
east long stretches of snow-sheds were vanishing In the shadows of the
valley.

Glover, engaged with Mr. Brock, Judge Saltzer, and Bucks, had been
forward all day, among the directors. The compartments of the Brock
car were closed when he walked back through the train and the rear
platform was deserted. He seated himself in his favorite corner of the
umbrella porch, where he could cross his legs, lean far back, and with
an engineer's eye study the swiftly receding grace of the curves and
elevations of the track. They were covering a stretch of his own
construction, a pet, built when he still felt young; when he had come
from the East fiery with the spirit of twenty-five.

But since then he had seen seven years of blizzards, blockades, and
washouts; of hard work, hardships, and disappointments. This maiden
track that they were speeding over he was not ashamed of; the work was
good engineering yet. But now with new and great responsibilities on
his horizon, possibilities that once would have fired his imagination,
he felt that seven years in and out of the mountains had left him
battle-scarred and moody.

"My sister was saying last night as she saw you sitting where you are
now--that we should always associate this corner with you. Don't get
up." Gertrude Brock, dressed for dinner, stood in the doorway. "You
never tire of watching the track," she said, sinking into the chair he
offered as he rose. Her frank manner was unlooked for, but he knew
they were soon to part and felt that something of that was behind her
concession. He answered in his mood.

"The track, the mountains," he replied; "I have little else."

"Would not many consider the mountains enough?"

"No doubt."

"I should think them a continual inspiration."

"So they are; though sometimes they inspire too much."

"It is so still and beautiful through here." She leaned back in her
chair, supported her elbows on its arms and clasped her hands; the
stealing charm of her cordiality had already roused him.

"This bit of track we are covering," said he after a pause, "is the
first I built on this division; and just now I have been recalling my
very first sight of the mountains." She leaned slightly forward, and
again he was coaxed on. "Every tradition of my childhood was
associated with this country--the plains and rivers and mountains. It
wasn't alone the reading--though I read without end--but the stories of
the old French traders I used to hear in the shops, and sometimes of
trappers I used to find along the river front of the old town; I fed on
their yarns. And it was always the wild horse and the buffalo and the
Sioux and the mountains--I dreamed of nothing else. Now, so many
times, I meet strangers that come into the mountains--foreigners
often--and I can never listen to their rhapsodies, or even read their
books about the Rockies, without a jealousy that they are talking
without leave of something that's mine. What can the Rockies mean to
them? Surely, if an American boy has a heritage it is the Rockies.
What can they feel of what I felt the first time I stood at sunset on
the plains and my very dreams loomed into the western sky? I toppled
on my pins just at seeing them."

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