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Eli Perkins' Ride

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I have traveled over tho Alps wheu ■we startod on wheels in Italy, were put on runners at tho monasteries of St. Bernard and tho next day camo turnbling down into the wheatfields of Switzerland and the Rhone. Then I have jinrikisbart through Japan and wheelbarrowed in China. Bnt the most exciting trip of my life was taken ia our own country, out in Iowa. It was one of tho coldust night of a cold winter. I lecturert for tho cü.:o at OsagojCity, northeasï fro i Cerlar Rapids, one uight, and the uext night I was to be at Grinnell colloge, uear Des Moiuea. I had to ride iown througb the central part of Iowa, on tho old iowa Central road. To do this I was compelled to drive 30 miles across the prairie, froui usage City to Mason City, in order to strike a 5 o'clock moruiug train tor Grinnell. Tliirty miles over the prairio in a northwost storm, with the thermometer 15 degrees below zero, was a test of Strength, nerve and bodily calorie. Bnt we njade tho trip. Onco our sleigh tipped over, and our blankets and robes blew away. It was a hurricane, and even onr hot soapstone took to the wind. Once we got to circling around on tbat 30 mile prairie, and the driverthrew up nis frozen hands and screamed: "We's lost!" tint the stars carne out, and we ■whirled arnund toward the north star and struggled on. In the {.'rayof the morniug with wbat joy we saw the straggling lights of the littlo station of Mason City, now a place oí 8,000 people! 1 reinemberwell how I rolled out of the sleigh and tottered np to the station door. It was all dark withiu. Iknew themorning train hadn't KOue. We had won, but, oh, with what cast I Knocking on the door, then pounding louder, the agent finally opened it "Has the 5 o'clock train goue south to Grinnell?" I askod, with tremulous poico. "What?" "fías the train gone south?" He looked at me in amazenient and said: "Gone, man! Gons? Why, she wentlast September. She is a summer train, lint," and ho looked kiudly at me, 'she Avill go again in June. If you must go on her, you can sit around here iu the depot and wait. " What did 1 do? Why, I went right over to a log hotel and went to bed, and sleep smothered iv.v sorrows. leepl Sleep! At 10 o'clock I crawled over to the depot and opeued the wires on President J. B. Grinnell of the Iowa Central. This, by the Way, was the original man Whom Greeley told to "go west. " Grinnell went west, and it was he who founded tho city of Grinnell, whero 1 was to lecture. He built tho collego thero. The railroad, the town, the collego and the lecture course were all his. And I threw myself into his arnis with this telegram: "Pleaso give me ati engine Get me to Grinnell tonight!" "Auy engines neeCiinj; repairs at Mason City? If so, sencl Perkina down," over the wjre from GrinnèlL "No 6 wants a new firebox, went the auswer. "ü. K. Seud 6 with Perkins. Get liim heruor kill hiiu, " replied Grinnell. Ín !30 minutos we were oíí. Wo went boonding over tho old irou rails between Ackloy and JMarsballtown, and how we flew! ViUages becanie splotches of maroou paiut. Telegrapb poles blurred liko wagon spokes in tbe stm. We blew the whistle, bnt tbe train beat tho sound into {áarshalltown, and tiio ;'..qoi!t came out aud lookod the wrong way. Wa had passed the towu, and thu whistle was still behiud. Wt'll, wo got to Gtinnell and strnck tho andienco on the stroke of 8. President GrinDcll hadn't told them about the ridc. Tho audienco thought I came nn a regalar train or drovo over from tlie uoxt station. Wben I tried to teli them r.l)ont jny trip, they only laughed. They didn't believu ma Ala.s! thatwas the day, tbat was thu nigbt, that I lost my reputation iorveracity, a,udall these years 1 have struggled to get it back. I ain a vostryman now and a meiuber of tlie Young Men 's Cbristian association, bnt nothing will get back my lost veracity, except perhaps this open confossion, now for the h'rst time made. Wheu I asked the venerable President Grinnoll yeara afterward how he came to telegraph, "Get Perkins to ürinnell er kill him, " he said: "Well, wy son, you see 1 was running for congress then, and 1 didn't havo any record to run on. AU I had none was to condemu land for right of way and kill immigrants on our trains. 1 was dying for a record to run on - one tbat would bring me the sympathy of tne people, and itoccurred - mind me," he said it slowly, "it simply occurred to me as a business man - I beg pardon lor saying it, " and the tears came to liis eyes - "bnt it occurred to me if you could be killed on our train then, and tho people should find it out, why, I would be uominatod aud unanimou-sly fcleuued. " Then he added, with a long sigh, "Yonr coming and the lectnro you do]ivLired settled me with the people - 1


Ann Arbor Argus
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