The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 8, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 8

In the Pittsburg train, at Sleepy Cat, an early dinner was being served
to the caƱon party. They had come back enthusiastic. The scenery was
declared superb, and the uncertainty of the situation most satisfying.
The riot of the mountain stream, which plunging now unbridled from wall
to wall had scoured the deep gorge for hundreds of feet, was a moving
spectacle. The activity of the swarming laborers, preparing their one
tremendous answer to the insolence of the river, had behind it the
excitement of a game of chance. The stake, indeed, was eight solid
trains of perishable freight, and the gambler that had staked their
value and his reputation on one throw of the dice was their own
easy-mannered guide.

They discussed his chances with the indifference of spectators. Doctor
Lanning, the only one of the young people that had ever done anything
himself, was inclined to think Glover might win out. Allen Harrison
was willing to wager that trains couldn't be got across a hole like
that for another twenty-four hours.

Mrs. Whitney wondered why, if Mr. Glover were really a competent man,
he could not have held his position as chief engineer of the system,
but Doctor Lanning explained that frequently Western men of real talent
were wholly lacking in ambition and preferred a free-and-easy life to
one of constant responsibility; others, again, drank--and this
suggestion opened a discussion as to whether Western men could possibly
do more drinking than Eastern men, and transact business at all.

While the discussion proceeded there came a telegram from Glover
telling Doctor Lanning that the blast would be made about seven
o'clock. Preparations to start were completed as the company rose from
the table, and Gertrude Brock and Marie were urged to join the party.
Marie consented, but Gertrude had a new book and would not leave it,
and when the others started she joined her father and Judge Saltzer,
her father's counsellor, now with them, who were dining more leisurely
at their own table.

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