Pop Lane, crack "hogger" of the T. C. & W., demonstrates that it’s men, not machines, which matter most

EUGENE JONES March 15 1936


Pop Lane, crack "hogger" of the T. C. & W., demonstrates that it’s men, not machines, which matter most

EUGENE JONES March 15 1936


Pop Lane, crack "hogger" of the T. C. & W., demonstrates that it’s men, not machines, which matter most


THE LIMITED'S ENGINE, at first a tiny dot beneath her smoke trail, grew like a black smoke bubble blown from a black, inverted, wavystemmed pipe. When she was still of Lilliputian

proportions a plume of steam waved suddenly backward from her, followed by a whistle blast ending in that peculiar drawling note which identified the hand of Veteran Engineer Pop Lane to every division employee. Rails trembled at the impact of hurtling tons, and persons on the Butte City platform shrank away as 1705, crack “hog” despite her age, roared past, tailed by a long line of Pullmans with blue-uniformed porters riding vestibule steps.

Tragedy for Lane was also riding that day, but Lane couldn’t know it—then.

Leaning from 1705’s cab window, he eased her to a stop with a nice eye for positions of baggage trucks and a feather touch on throttle and air, and swung to the flagging via the grab-irons. Oil-can in hand and pride in his eye, his fingers caressed massive eccentrics and crank pins. The fellows who put together 4 locomotives thought they were mere products of mechanical skill, but Lane, forty years young in railroading, knew better. Every engine— particularly 1705—possessed a soul.

“Hi, Pop,” greeted a passing brakeman, “Super has a boy out looking for you;” and he added slyly: “Maybe he’s got you a new hog.”

It was a threadbare joke, this reference to another engine for Dane wedded to 1705; but Lane only smiled quietly, thrust his oil-can to the floor board and mounted the stairs to the executive offices.

Superintendent Ed Boles waited in his soiled, sooty sanctum perched above the depot. The door stood open, and Lane entered to halt before the desk—a long, lean, stoop-shouldered product of the cab. His hair was grey and sparse, and a few ragged ends of it protruded from beneath his greasy cap. His grey, untrimmed mustache drooped, as did his mouth. It takes it out of you, handling a limited train. To Boles behind the desk he raised quiet eyes accustomed to seeing things straight a long way off. Boles and he were old friends; had worked together on the division since it had graduated from a sand-ballasted, frontier trail of steel.

The super’s grunt of “Sit down. Pop,” was an inverse indication of his feelings. When Boles rounded his sentences and oiled his words, the employee to whom he spoke had better look out.

A huge, apparently flabby mountain, the super wore an uptilted cigar in his mouth corner and a disreputable hat so far back on his head that it defied gravity. Wedged in his swivel chair, he appeared a permanent fixture. But railroad men—Lane among them—knew how quickly he could move and think in emergencies. Obviously he was thinking now; and it came over Lane that this might be an emergency.

“Pop,” said Boles, “I’ve got to do you a dirty trick. You know I wouldn’t if I could help it.”

“I know, Ed. What’s the matter?”

“Plenty !” snapped Boles. “We ain’t getting any passengers and the stockholders ain’t getting any dividends, and there’s hell to pay. Yesterday the directors went into a huddle and bought one o’ them new streamlined trains for the Limited’s run. It’s up to you to learn to handle a Diesel electric, Pop.”

SLOWLY, almost dazedly, Lane leaned back in his chair, one hand groping in his pocket. He produced and filled his corncob pipe with shaking fingers, but he didn’t light it; he forgot about that.

“You mean you—you’ll take off my engine?”

‘That’s the idea,” admitted Boles, eyes on the ceiling. “Remember, I’m not the whole cheese round here. Directors write their own clearance cards once in a while.”

“But she—she’s a good engine, Ed. I keep her like new.” “Sure you do. But you can’t cut her fuel bill.” Down came Boles’s fist and his eyes met Lane’s. “You and 1705 are numbers on this road—same as the rest of us. I know it’s tough on you, but just between you and me, you’re lucky to hang on to the Limited, way things are going.” Lane got up, crossing to the window and staring into the yards. All he saw was the black outline of 1705, a lovable giant coupled no more firmly to her Pullmans than she was to his heart. Fifteen years ago he had lost his son. Nine years ago his wife had died—pneumonia contracted while helping wreck victims in a blizzard. Since then he had had nothing to love but 1705. To watch another man at her throttle, to know she was hauling box cars . . . Captains felt the same way about their ships.

He returned to the desk, thumbs hooked in his overall suspenders and head sunk. When he looked up, Boles was rekindling his cigar, which didn’t need it.

“If 1705’s got to pull freight I’m staying with her,” Lane said quietly. “Whatever she does I do—or quit.”

Boles made a little gesture.

“Pop, we’ve worked together a long time. I never gave you bad advice, did I? Well, take the Diesel and forget your engine. Forget her, man! She ain’t human.”

“Nearer human than the operating department,” said Lane without raising his voice, but his eyes were hard. “You can’t make me a motorman or take away my engine, not if you want me on the payroll, Ed.”

Boles heaved himself from his chair, forcing its arms downward past the lower portion of him which evinced a tendency to wedge even in wide spaces. Waddling around the desk, he leaned over and put his thick arm across Lane’s narrow, drooping shoulders.

“No use, old timer. You see—you’ve got to see— 1705 hasn’t a chance. She is routed for South America next month. They’re going to sell her.”

Lane didn’t remember leaving the office or crossing the yards to Mrs. Crisp’s boarding house, where he sought the room which had been “home” to him since his wife’s death. It was a nice room, through the window of which he could see the distant yards and hear the crash of freights “making up.” That was all he asked—never day or night to be separated from railroad smells, sights and sounds. With the door locked and the light off, he sat down by the window.

Beyond the yards and now hidden by darkness, lay the cemetery where his wife rested. Mary Lane had loved 1705, too. The first time she had seen the locomotive she had said, “Why, she’s beautiful, Pop. You ought to be very proud.” Often when puzzled, angry or discouraged, Lane would sit at the window and talk to Mary; not with his lips but with his heart, which had always been the best medium of expression between them. And usually he would go to bed, comforted. But this present matter brooked no discussion; to that, Mary who put loyalty next to honesty, would agree. Apparently T. C. & W. directors weren’t suffering from an overdose of loyalty toward men or rolling stock.

“Seventeen-o-five” had lost none of her beauty, speed or power during the passage of nine years, yet because of a changing world, because money counted more than Lane’s loyalty, 1705 was to be banished. Junked was what it amounted to. Very well, the day she made her last run over the Mountain Division, that day Pop Lane, veteran engineer, would hand in his resignation. And Mary Lane, a railroad woman if ever there was one, would agree he had done the right thing—or so Lane decided.

AROUND ten-thirty somebody knocked, and Lane went reluctantly to the door, admitting even more reluctantly his fireman, Patrick O’Connor. When you looked at Patrick you thought of a stack on a Pacific type engine, thick and squat and belching fire. Patrick was so built, even to his flame of red hair.

“Oi jest shtopped on me way to bed to tell ye it’s a dom shame,” he growled, “sellin’ yer injin from under ye! But ye’ll kape the Limited. The b’ys was glad to hear thot.”

“No.” said Lane emotionlessly, “I’m quitting with 1705. They’ll put on a Diesel in a couple of weeks. Maybe you wouldn’t mind not talking about it. I— well, it's sort of got me—right now.” Significant was the fact that between Patrick O’Connor’s brief visit and midnight, seven engineers and firemen drifted in for a chat with Pop Lane. All were embarrassed and at a loss for words; and all left, convinced they had looked upon the first chapter of tragedy.

Lane, who went about his job the next day and the next perhaps a bit more silently than usual, didn’t know until long afterward of the petition conceived in his room that night which grew 500 signatures before you could say “Jack Robinson” and was eventually forwarded to the road president— a plea for 1705 and the happiness of the man who handled her.

Nor did he know of the president’s answer which Ed Boles read to a special committee of the men assembled in his office, and which said in part:

. . . While we thoroughly appreciate the services of Engineer Lane, and sympathize with the sentiment behind your collective request that we retain engine 1705 for his sake, we must point out that our first duty is to our stockholders and that unless this duty be fulfilled and the T. C. & W. be operated in such a manner as to show a profit, every one of our employees’ positions stands in jeopardy. It is our conviction Lane should share this belief and exhibit his loyalty by adjusting himself to new conditions.

“The era of the heavy steam train is on the wane; sooner or later all such rolling stock will be junked. The engine under discussion costs more to operate than any other locomotive we own, and with reduced grades and lighter tonnage is an unnecessary expense ...”

That was the gist of it—logical, just reasoning not untempered with mercy, but nevertheless a death warrant for 1705.

Boles tried once more before it was too late to help his friend, calling him to his office and saying his say gruffly.

“Don’t be a fool, Pop. Stick with the road. You’ll be up for retirement in five years. This outfit’s been pretty decent to you. Prove you think more of ’em than you do of a hunk of machinery.”

“I don’t,” said Lane. “Mary died being loyal, when she could have stayed home. I’ve been haulin’ their trains a long while. I’m through being loyal.” Up went Boles’s cigar until it threatened his hat brim.

“Not you, Pop Lane! I’ll tear up that resignation when you turn it in. Come on now, let me put you aboard a Diesel so you can get the hang of it.” “No,” said Lane, and meant it. “After this I wouldn’t raise my hand to keep the whole division out of the ditch.”

Boles walked with him to the door, smoking furiously.

“You’re a liar, Pop.”

Pop Lane descended the stairs, certain above all other things that he wasn’t a liar, and the T. C. & W. could fry in Hades for all of him.

EXACTLY a week after the arrival of the president’s message, Butte City saw its first streamlined train—a magnificent silver Arrow so light an elephant could push her. Indeed the

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trick had been done in the East for publicity purposes. For two days visitors filed through the Arrow on a siding convenient to the station, and railroad men poked into her vitals, and the mayor was photographed sitting in her lounge car.

Public interest, heretofore on the ebb concerning anything that ran on a track, flared anew. Grocery clerks told you how fast the Arrow could go and how quickly she could stop; housewives quoted glibly the number of meals possible to be served from her amazing buffet; butchers and bakers and candlestick makers needed slight excuse to release a torrent of statistics dealing with fuel consumption and other savings over steam transportation.

While standing at Butte City the Arrow received her official title in neat block letters extending the entire length of her: “Inter-Ocean Limited.” And Pop Lane got to avoiding that particular platform. Conscious of the metamorphosis in popular sentiment, he idled about his engine when she was coupled, ready for her run, watching the faces of those who passed. No longer did youngsters pause to stare at ixjor old 1705 and whisper, “Gee, ain’t she a whopper! I bet she can go!” Clearly, an idol had fallen, but through no fault of the idol; which was what hurt Lane more than anything else. Where he had spent minutes grooming his engine in the past, Lane now spent hours, to prove his friendship for her.

In railroading as in other human endeavor, unforeseen combinations of circumstances build crises. Following completion of the last touches on the new Limited came such a combination, its significance unnoticed at the time.

First, the president and board of directors of the T. C. & W. planned a final triumphant tour of the division in the streamlined Arrow. Second, the day before departure snow began to fall. Big, fluffy flakes they were, caressing grimy office windows with velvet touch and worrying neither operating nor maintenance-of-way departments. But the third day brought a change both unwelcome and threatening.

Thermometer mercuries plunged, the wind howled out of the northeast, the snowflakes took on the appearance and size of confetti. That night trouble started ; wires were heavy with snow, particularly from the western part of the division where the right-of-way wound up through a series of canyons, and an aerial view of the track suggested a slender, endless snake zigzagging across a relief map.

Dawn of the next day found Chief Dispatcher AÍ Whitecliff at his desk, trying with the aid of his assistants to untangle a mess of extra freights and passenger traina divorced from schedule. A bridge out here, a slide reported there; cold, wind and grief everywhere. Long before noon it was perfectly apparent that sooner or later the Mountain Division of the T. C. & W. would face partial if not complete paralysis unless somebody with more authority than even Ed Boles turned off the snow.

Whitecliff, pausing in the latter’s office, asked :

“Arrow still planning on pulling out?” And Boles answered :

“Sure. The president has us on the spot. Says bad conditions will give us a better chance to prove the Diesel’s endurance.”

Whitecliff shook his head, frowning.

“I wish I wasn’t going to handle her. Order boards and prayers—that’s what she’ll run on.”

There he touched a sore subject, so far as Boles was concerned. For three years the super had pleaded for completion of the last unit of the block system, other sections of which were already in operation; and for three years he had been put off with depression excuses. The contractor, a big

Eastern electrical concern, had started work from the Pacific terminus, and had for financial reasons suspended operations at Butte City. Therefore the Arrow, which was to carry the road president, general manager, passenger traffic manager and many directors, would pass over a right-ofway on her exhibition trip protected only by train-order boards. Naturally she would run “special.” All of which presented no difficulties in decent weather, but with the mercury ten above and the snow a foot deep on level ground —well, judge for yourself.

r"PHAT WAS the situation at six p.m.

wheh officials hurried from the station to board the streamlined train. On the same track but out in the yards behind her, 1705 waited, coupled to the Limited and ready to follow the Arrow on her regular run. Both would proceed to Ivirkton, some fifteen miles distant on the double-track main line which hugged the base of the mountain range, there to go separate ways.

Nothing else between Butte City and Kirkton would turn a wheel for the remainder of the night. The latter place was composed of tower RF, a siding crowded to capacity, a water tank crowned with ice, and the quality of loneliness that has broken many a good operator.

Not wanting to see the Arrow pull out, Pop Lane left the comfort of the dispatcher’s office to climb to his cab before it was necessary. Thus when the silver Diesel that was to revolutionize railroading and incidentally strike a death-blow at his own engine, eventually slid from the depot, Lane was busy adjusting lubricator feeds.

“Ye can peek now,” advised Patrick O’Connor. “The dom thing’s gone.”

Lane “peeked,” to find the station signal “clear,” whereupon he eased the Limited down to the platform which the Arrow had vacated. Then, colder than they would have admitted, he and Patrick clumped up to the dispatcher’s office with its warmth and wire news. Several railroad men were grouped around “Old Sally,” as some wit had dubbed the stove, explaining it was as red-hot but less dangerous than a certain fan dancer who had appeared briefly and with chaotic results in Butte City. Normally this sanctuary would have been closed to them but tonight was different. Beyond the wooden rail, black from contact with hundreds of greasy hands, operators leaned over their keys or scribbled orders.

The Arrow had been reported “out” seven minutes when it happened.

An instrument on. Whitecliff’s desk stuttered, went silent, stuttered again. Heads turned. The men by the stove couldn’t read Morse, but they instantly interpreted the sudden tension in the room. Conversation ceased as if cut off by a knifeblow; not a sound from the office except the intermittent clatter of the key. In a


flash Whitecliff wa. his face whiter than the windows.

Sharp, clear, came Arrow. Slide just burieu beyond curve three miles west.

And as sharply queried Whiter fingers: “How do you know?”

“Section hand. Stop her some way.— ^

The chief looked at the men now leaning over the rail, at his fellow dispatchers, and swallowed. Lane, conscious of trivialities, saw his Adam’s apple bob.

“Slide,” stated Whitecliff with peculiar lack of emphasis. “Big bend. Both tracks.”

TO THOSE who knew railroading, it was enough. Lane pictured the Arrow somewhere east of Butte City nosing along into a white smother, and ahead, hidden by swirling flakes --death.

Once before, the overhanging mountains had dumped their load in a blizzard at approximately the same spot, and two trains had piled up. This time there would be only one—the new Diesel-electric carrying the most important officials of the road. Not merely the president and his staff but the reputation of the T. C. & W. rode the Arrow that night.

Frantically now Whitecliff asked Kirkton for an engine, but tower RF had none available. No sign of a road paralleled that part of the track. The section hand had fought the three miles on foot, staggering to the tower, half dead from exhaustion and cold He had realized there was no use staying near the slide, without lantern or torpedoes.

The same wireless impulse that had flashed a warning to every soul in the dispatcher’s office had reached Boles in his office. From the door he had heard Whitecliff’s words—a signal for him to hurl his mountainous body across the room, dodging desks miraculously.

“ ’Phone the mill, man !”

There was a small sawmill on the main line some ten miles from Butte City. Whitecliff licked dry lips.

“No use, sir. Wire’s down. We can’t do a thing—”

“Can’t? Who says so?”

Silence, until you.could actually hear the sound of the snow. Silence from the whitefaced operators, from Boles, from the telegraph keys themselves; and of a quality that choked like gas. It was Lane who broke it, speaking quietly, his eyes on Boles.

“West track’s clear. I reckon. Give me a couple of cars—”

Heads swung in unison. Lane, smoking his corncob, leaned on the rail. Boles shoved his hat farther back, and his hand came from his forehead, wet.

“You mean—”

“I mean no blizzard can hold back my engine. She ain’t cheap and light.”

“But you couldn’t stop her”—from Whitecliff. “You couldn’t stop her after you caught the Arrow. You—you’d hit the slide.”

“What’s that to you? Gimme them cars and a clear track.”

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For one electric moment Boles stared at the man who wasn’t loyal to the road, then he went into action.

Keys stuttered, operators leaped to obey orders. Down the stairs plunged Lane, Patrick O’Connor at his heels, and through the swirl of the storm to 1705. Amazed passengers went staggering along car aisles as the Limited “closed up” to permit yard hands to “break” the train behind the baggage car. In less than three minutes Lane eased open the throttle, and from 1705’s gong whistle roared a blast that ended as only Lane could end it.

Massive drivers turned, white-hot oil flames licked the frame of the firebox, the steam gauge climbed to 200 pounds. Gathering speed with every thrust of her pistons, the engine that was “too expensive” for the T. C. & W. took the crossover to the westbound track, and got a “green” from the yard semaphore—the first “clear” ever flashed a train operating against traffic on the Mountain Division.

■pORTY, fifty, sixty miles an hour. The

lights of the town fled past like misty moons, and were gone; the headlight beam of the locomotive bored a shallow, useless tunnel a few feet through glittering snow particles, only to end in a kaleidoscopic blur.

Lane, hunched on the cab seat, left hand vise-like on the throttle and face braving the polar blast beyond the window, caught his breath in gasps. Cold stabbed like a driven spike, his eyes streamed behind their goggles. But he wasn’t thinking of that.

He was thinking of grand old 1705 catching her stride despite zero winds charging her. He was certain she understood what was expected of her. To Pop Lane she lived, from pilot to tender drawhead—a giant of her species, no less magnificent because economy had condemned her to banishment. Lane knew all the power the Diesel-electric could muster wouldn’t drive her more than thirty miles against such a storm. But 1705 ... He gripped her throttle as a man will grip a comrade’s hand.

Somewhere a league or more ahead, the Arrow was plowing along. It was up to 1705 to catch her, range alongside and “blow her down.” Once her crew saw a train operating on the wrong track, they’d understand. And lord, how those Diesels could stop! But Lane’s engine couldn’t stop in a half mile. Whitecliff had thought of it at once. And it meant that should Lane fail to overtake the Arrow until they neared the slide there would be at least one smash on the T. C. & W.

Without warning something happened to Lane. He straightened, and it seemed as if he actually squared his shoulders, and a strange light blazed in his eyes.

Patrick appeared around the boiler, studying water and steam gauges. It was tough for Patrick, but Lane knew that nothing short of a police squad would have kept him from the cab of 1705. That is the way with railroad men.

Faster roared the special, the speed indicator trembling at sixty-five miles. They went past Cedar Creek’s twin sidings loaded with freights in the clear, burrowed between strings of box cars, crashed over switch frogs. Then the main line again and nothing ahead . . . Wait a .minute ! Nothing? Suppose somebody had decided to do some shifting—a freight conductor who believed, erroneously, he had the west-bound track to himself? Suppose Butte City and Kirk ton hadn’t been able to clear all?

The same strange expression, but intensified, transformed Lane’s face. He wasn’t religious in the generally accepted meaning. When he prayed he did it inarticulately, almost subconsciously, thinking of his wife. He prayed now in such a manner, not for himself, not even for his engine, but that he might be in time to stop the Arrow. And he asked Mary Lane to

intervene with the highest of all dispatchers. An amazing man, Lane, to be accused of disloyalty.

When they approached the highway crossing beyond Cedar Creek, Lane sensed rather than saw it, and sent a needless bellow of warning into the storm. That was the only crossing, thank God !

'"PHEY SHOULD pick up the tail lights of the Arrow now. They must. A bare handful of miles lay between them and Kirkton. And out there, waiting beyond the big curve, was the slide. Lane opened the throttle the final notch. Like a race horse, hard pressed but game, 1705 responded, her massive drivers pounding snow-buried rails. She was carrying a bone of snow in her teeth and flinging it on each side in great showers, as a fast ship will attack the sea. Seventy miles an hour into the blizzard—probably into something infinitely more solid and dangerous ! And still no sign of the Arrow.

Seconds became age-long, minutes a lifetime. A wave of heat fled backward from firebox and boiler; a wave of cold rushed at cab windows. The 200 tons of living steel that was 1705 rocked and careened and thundered on. ' A'

Patrick saw the Arrow first, his eyes younger than Lane’s.

/“Look!” he shouted.

Sure enough, far ahead winked two tiny red eyes half hidden by falling snow. Lane pulled open the whistle and held it. Again and again the long blasts charged the blizzard, without success. By inches 1705 crawled nearer. Surely the Arrow’s crew must see that headlight beam, hear the thunder of the whistle !

Lane dared not calculate distance. The slide was drawing nearer with each pound of the drivers. Oh, if someone aboard the Arrow would only look back! Lane was wringing wet now, his sweat freezing as the wind spattered from his face. He abandoned the long whistle blasts for short, vicious ones—and still the red lights drew toward them at snail’s pace. The Arrow was slowing down for the curve now. Seventeen-o-five closed in. A scant engine length separated her from the observation car of the Arrow. Then somebody did look back.

A frightened, throaty bellow from the air whistle of the Diesel. The train seemed to pause in her flight, actually stand still while 1705 raced around her on the curve. Yes, those on the Arrow had seen, but at what cost to Lane and 1705?

Lane’s hog swept past, brakes screaming and sand pouring to the rails. Backward, backward, drifted the Arrow, light enough to stop. But 1705 . . .

Lane jammed his engine in reverse motion, and knew it was no use. The headlight penetrated the storm curtain to paint a great, yellow circle on heaped rocks and earth. Bucking, rearing, fighting against the momentum of hundreds of tons, 1705 seemed to sense what lay in store. It was as if she were planting her forefeet and sliding ! They were well ahead of the Arrow now, alone on the road that must end in destruction. Lane braced his body, leaning toward the tender, trying to use his sheer physical strength to halt 1705’s headlong plunge. Nearer rushed the slide.

“Jump!” screamed Patrick.

“Jump yourself,” shouted Lane.

And then Patrick saw his engineer’s face and his jaw sagged. Lane was smiling. No longer did he strain at throttle and air.

“Thim’s rocks,” yelled Patrick.“Jump!”

Lane shook his head. And then, as the rock pile came at them in a rush, Patrick O’Connor, his hair brighter than his brains, found an answer: Lane was mad as a hatter. Summoning every ounce of his strength, he leaped at the engineer.

For an instant the pair struggled in the glow from the firebox, then Lane’s frenzied strength broke Patrick’s grip, drove him across the floor board and by sheer force

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flung him clear of the right-of-way into the night and storm.

Lane was smiling again as his engine struck the first pile of loose dirt, hesitated, trembling in every plate, reared, turned over.

TOLD and retold by every soul on the Arrow was the story of that wreck— how the Diesel, warned in time, came to a screeching stop not fifty feet from death; how poor old 1705, with Pop Lane at her throttle, butted herself to scrap iron.

They found Lane crumpled and still not far from his engine, and the president of the road, with tears in his eyes, helped carry him aboard the Arrow. And all the way back to Butte City, Patrick O’Connor, his arm broken and not knowing it, sat beside Lane and blubbered.

Before Lane was off the operating table in the little white railroad hospital, whose windows looked gravely across the cemetery where Mary Lane slept, the continent knew of what stuff some railroad men are made. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, news men were writing a tribute that will go down in the annals of railroad history.

And while the storm still piled snow in Butte City streets, the hospital waiting room was packed. They were all there— president, general manager, passenger traffic manager and twenty million dollars worth of directors. Engineers, firemen, conductors, flagmen, operators, dispatchers—every soul who could get off duty clogged corridors, bothered nurses, tried ineffectually to hide emotions.

Boles cornered the president himself.

“What about 1705?” he demanded. “How bad’s she smashed?”

“Junk,” said the president succinctly. “But that’s no matter.”

“You bet it is!” and Boles’s cigar bellowed smoke. “Patrick says Lane went off his nut. I want to be able to tell him something good about his engine when he wakes up—if he does. I know ’im; it’ll help.”

“Oh, tell him anything. Tell him we’ll repair her. Don’t bother me about his engine; it’s his life I’m worrying about.” “That’s near the same thing,” said Ed Boles.

An hour later when Pop Lane came out from under the anaesthetic, Boles was standing in his room. A big man in height, girth and soul, he went down beside the bed. hat still on the back of his head, cigar still rammed in his mouth comer. And he put his hand over Lane’s.

“Listen, Pop, you don’t have to worry. We’re going to fix up 1705 so she’s like new. Get that, Pop? They won’t junk her.”

A slow smile spread over Lane’s face. “No.” he whispered, “and they never will. She—finished—up—like—I—wanted —her—to. She ain’t going to—to South America.”

Whereupon Ed Boles’s hat, for the first time in fifteen years, fell off. Lane took a moment to get his strength.

“You can’t bring back 1705, Ed, any more’n you can bring back Mary . . . She went out sort of like Mary, Ed—for the road ...”

It was odd. It made Ed Boles shiver when his gaze followed Lane’s out the window in the direction of the little cemetery where Mary Lane rested.