Puslapio vaizdai

much more valuable than Jimsy that he was presently put in charge at Gondoko. For one dry season they saw nothing of each other. Jimsy bullied his assistants, collected butterflies, and thought of Loch. Loch did not think nearly as much of Jimsy; he was too busy.

But every Saturday night he went into Gondoko and wired Jimsy, "Are you all right, Kid?"

"All right, Loch."

Then would follow gossip of the great line-lions, a washout, a plague of witchdoctors. But the end was as invariable as the beginning: "Let me know if you want me, Kid, and I'll come."

"All right, Loch."

"So long, Jimsy."

“Good night, Gondoko."

Then Loch would stumble to his mudand-iron hut and sleep in peace, a gun loaded with bird-shot under his head in case of leopards..

The second year of his sojourning, Loch had trouble with jujus, more trouble than usual. He also had fever worse than usual; but the jujus worried him most. No. 537, pulling out from a siding, had cut down a string stretched across the line, from which fluttered a red rag and two guinea-fowl feathers. As a result, the black people fled to their forests, and the woodpiles shrank to nothing. Fuel had to be brought from afar until the juju was pacified, which took time. There is no space to tell how Loch managed this by setting up an opposition juju, in the constitution of which a home-made magiclantern played a chief part. But he went into Gondoko one Saturday night with the happy knowledge that he had put the fear of all the devils into his section, and that the woodpiles at the side of the railroad grew like mushrooms.

It was the third week of the stormy season, and Loch was soaked in fever; the juju war had tired him in body and soul. He looked at the sky, and as he looked, the moon showed like a plunging white disk amid driving steam; he thought how often he had seen it so above the northern lakes of his boyhood, when the first snow came down from the north and the wild geese had flown south. But Huron's cold surf was far from the station at Gondoko, and the glimmer of light shone only on the nameless uplands, the drenched scrub of

the north; and southward, welt on welt, league on league, the roll of the African forest like a sea.

His right-hand man, an escaped convict, met him, and touched his cap.

"A call from Mr. Lewis, sir," he said. Loch frowned. He had forgotten it was Saturday night, forgotten Jimsy, forgotten everything but his own overwhelming need of food and sleep. The ground rocked under his feet, and the ex-convict wavered like smoke.

"Did he leave any message?"

The ex-convict, who was also a deserter, saluted.

"No, sir. In fact, something 's wrong with the line. Probably helephants, sir. Williams took it, but nothing come through but the word 'Lewis,' sir, and the Gondoko call."

"Thank you." Loch went slowly to the iron shed, and sat down at the instrument. He called, "Lewis, Lewis, Lewis," in his clumsy fashion, now clumsier than usual in that his fingers seemed to be as big and stiff as pincushions. He called for several minutes, waited, and called again. He was beginning to forget about the fever and the weariness.

The instrument clattered, stammered, hesitated. At last came the answer, "Is that you, Gondoko?"

"Yes, Gondoko. Gondoko. Have you got that? Gondoko. Is that you, Jimsy? Jimsy, is that you?"

There was a space of meaningless clickings and stutterings; then suddenly, clear and sharp, "Loch, I want-" and then silence.

Loch sat for perhaps five minutes, patiently calling, but the silence was unbroken. He sat for another five minutes, thinking, and the burden of his thoughts was a white-headed little boy who used to follow him round the school playground, saying, "Loch, I want you, Loch." Often the little boy was smitten for his pains, but no other boy dared smite him. Loch went out on the platform and shouted. The convict-deserter, who was presently known as Hatch, came running.

"Is there anything with steam up?" "No. 8, she has steam up." Hatch spoke proudly. No. 8 was a complexcompo-compound loco, collected from the scrap-heaps of half a continent, and put together at Gondoko. "She's to

pull out, with sheet-iron for Banda, at midnight or thereabouts."

of a war drum, and lightning that splashed on the rails like a thrown egg. It showed

'Uncouple, then," said Loch, curtly, the forest and the sky, violet-white picked "I want her."

"Mr. Lewis in trouble, sir?" "I'm going to see." Loch spoke more curtly than ever, but his men knew him. Hatch spoke persuasively.

out in jet. Then the darkness shut down again so swiftly that Hatch winced as he had not from the flash. But Loch's steady hand did not move on the throttle.


"You'd better have me to fire for you, sir. I'm off duty, and there has n't been no variosity, sir, so to say, for a month."

Loch nodded.

"All right. And bring your twelve- the distance, but still, at regular intervals, bore." the world was dipped and drenched in the unbearable brilliance of the lightning. Hatch began nervously to time the flashes. He saw a vivid vision of little buildings, the iron roofs blazing like silver, streaming past, and of the black silhouettes of the men on the platform. He saw the dripping leaves flashing back the electricity like looking-glass. He saw a sinuous shadow that shrank and fled by the left driving-wheel. "'Passengers,' " he said, "'is forbidden to cross the line except by the over'ead bridge,' but this ain't the London and Southwestern, thank Gord!" He took a glance at the gage, and stoked, stoked, stoked. His mouth was so tightly screwed into the form of whistling it seemed unlikely ever to come unscrewed. It was quite stiff when he ventured to address Loch's immovable back.

"Lions is out," roared Hatch, "or something."

Loch caught the words, and nodded over his shoulder. The grade was mounting, and No. 8 rattled and rocked worse than ever. They were both powdered white to the hair with wood-ash. Loch's face looked gray in the lightning flash, his every nerve and sinew strained to the snapping-point, as he strove to fire the clamoring iron beneath him with the hurry of his own soul. The wheels sang monotonously:

"I want you, Loch. I want you, Loch.” "I'm coming, Jimsy," he answered. "I'm coming, Jimsy, as fast as I can." He did not know that he spoke aloud. The fever ran over him in waves, and at the crest of every wave was a picture-a picture of Jimsy, deserted and stricken with illness; a picture of Jimsy sitting bowed over the telegraph-instrument, speared through the heart, as he had once seen a man sit; a picture of Jimsy injured,

Hatch beamed and fled. There were outcries and footsteps. Loch spent another five minutes thinking of the little boy who had grown into a young man, and who might have been peacefully and safely raising pineapples in Natal. He started as No. 8 swung on the switch and pulled up beside him, groaning in all her rivets, Hatch swinging joyously on the rickety foot-plate.

"Clear line for four hours, sir," said Hatch.

"We sha'n't need so much," answered Loch; and Hatch, seeing his face, said no more, but went through silent movements of whistling.

They crawled out of Gondoko, clattering and banging. The open line lay before them as straight as a ruler, between walls of forest, varied only by the paths of the wood-cutters. Outside the radius of No. 8's headlight was a swinging, uncertain darkness. Loch steadily put the throttle over, and Hatch whistled again.

Presently he had no time even to whistle. He was stoking furiously. No. 8 roared up the line, rocking over the faulty riveting like a ship on a wave. Her illassorted parts groaned and rattled as if they would fly apart. Loch, peering through the glass, saw nothing but the reeling glimmer of steel running liquidly toward him, heard nothing but a boy's voice crying: "Loch, where are you, Loch? Loch, I want you." But Hatch had time to hear many things, for he knew and revered No. 8.


'Ard on the old lady, this is," he said to himself, brushing the sweat out of his

'Ard on the old lady," muttered Hatch again, mournfully. "I knew this was a bad bit o' track, but she 's runnin' as if her wheels was square."

The rain ended, the thunder rolled into


A squall drove down, blinding the glass, and sending a surf of mud into the cab. It ended in a roll of thunder like the roll

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light, which floated in the reeling dark for a long, long time. Then something sprang out of the dark and hit him. The last thing he saw was a blaze of white light and a tuft of grass, very clear and distinct, with a huge silver moth clinging. in the heart of it.

He came to himself in darkness, but it was a darkness blessedly cool and wet. Some one was kneeling over him, striking

matches, and presently he saw that it was Hatch. The match-light flared pink for an instant, and showed the convict's face, black and grimy save for two little white patches under the eyes, which were glaring at Loch indignantly.

Loch sought for words, but for a time. could n't remember what he wanted to say.

my mouth full of sand and things. Probably beetles."

"Hatch, your face looks kind of lopsided-"

"Thank you, sir." Hatch's voice was piercingly sarcastic. "Which it ain't wonderful, sir, considering I fell on it. And

Loch stretched out a hand slowly, and gasped at the pain.

"What's happened?" he asked. "Wreck, sir." The lightning glared in the southwest, and Hatch bent over him, very gently wiping his face with a lump of cotton-waste. "Wreck?"


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"Yes. Young tree across the line; probably lightning, as it was all afire. No. 8, sir," - Hatch's voice broke,-"there ain't enough of her left to make a penny toy." Loch lay still, trying to steady himself.

"Is the line clear?"

"As far as I can see,-darm it! I can't stop your 'ead bleeding!-No. 8, she kicked the tree off, and then fell on top of it herself. We must have flew like birds." "And how long have I been lying here?"

"Probably forty minutes, but there 's no knowing. Just beyond Banda we are,

and we'll have to walk back. And the woods is fair crawling with things. Probably ferocious."

"My fault, Hatch-"

"Shut your 'ead!" Hatch swabbed away with the cotton-waste. "Why why, my lad, I thought you was done for." His voice broke again, and he pulled himself together. "Now, if you think you can get up, with the 'elp of my arm


Loch staggered to his feet. The night swung about him, pierced with fires of pain. He thought it was the earth that reeled, and did not know that Hatch was holding him erect by main strength. He took a few steps, and a little strength came back.

"That's better, sir," said Hatch, who had again taken refuge in sarcasm. "Keep it up, and we 'll be in Banda for lunch."

"Banda?" said Loch. "Oh, but we 're not going back to Banda, Hatch. We're going on."


'Going on-" "Why, yes. Can't you tie that stuff round my head? Take the sleeve of my coat, then."

"The sleeve 's wet too. You 're pretty well cut about. I'll rip out mine. Did I understand you to say, sir, as we were going on to Mr. Lewis?"

"Yes. It 's not much farther than Banda. I'll be all right."

Hatch opened his mouth, gasped, and was silent. The situation was beyond speech, even beyond swearing. Loch interpreted his silence.

"You need n't come, Hatch," he said quietly.

Hatch found his voice.

"Thank you, sir," he replied bitterly. "My neck is to be broke', and I 'm to be insulted into the bargain. And well you know that I don't care a darm for lions or niggers, but only for the 'orrible crawly things that drops on you. And probably stingers." He carefully adjusted the bandage round Loch's head. "Stingers. And probably down your back."

Loch laughed croakily.

"Tie the other sleeve round your neck, and come on."

He turned up the long track, wondering why ties were so hard to walk on, and

why they seemed to be set at such irregular intervals, two short steps and a long, two long steps and a short, a rest. "Loch, I want you. Loch, I want you❞—he heard nothing but that, saw nothing but the glimmer of the wet steel he must follow. And Hatch, after one wild gesture that took to witness the flashing sky, the wet woods, and the ruins of No. 8 fuming by the right of way, limped after him, his mouth screwed into a dolorous whistle.

A FAIR young man, with nice blue eyes, was sitting at a table, pleasantly and peacefully sticking dead beetles on pins. The light of a shaded lamp shone on his quick fingers, on the jeweled wing-cases of his prey, and out of the screened window before him in a long beam. Now and then he murmured Latin words, and scribbled on little slips of paper. A fox-terrier and a black boy lay asleep in one corner of the


Suddenly the black boy sprang up, and the dog began barking furiously, and there came into the room what might have been the blood-stained ghosts of two men.

"Loch!" cried Jimsy, and leaped forward.

But Loch held him off.

"So you are all right?" he said thickly. "Sure you 're all right, Jimsy? I saw you through the window."

"Of course I'm all right, old man," said Jimsy, staring blankly. "But your message?"

"My message, Loch? Good heavens! I only wired to ask you to send me up a bit of glass for my new butterfly-case. And the wire gave out half-way through. Loch, I say-Loch!"

Loch began to laugh with relief; it was a queer laugh that shook him from head to foot, and he held to the table for support.

"But what's happened?" begged Jimsy. "What have you been doing? Loch!"

"Nothing's happened, Kid," said Loch, soothingly. "Only I thought you wanted me. And so I came-I came-as fast as I could."

"Look out, sir," cried Hatch, sharply. But the table was in the way, and Jimsy was not quick enough to catch Loch. It was into Hatch's arms that he fell.

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