Press enter after choosing selection

A Hot Chase

A Hot Chase image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

A looomotive engipeer and a civil engineer aro two veiy dift'erent persons, íor one has charge of a locomotiva engine, and the otlier has charge of, and controls. a variety of instrumenta. First is the transit, then the level, the levelng-rod, the tiags, chaiu, axes and stakes, all in the charge of competent men. An engineering party, to do good work quickly, should consist of at least ten persons. The chief of the pavty usually goes ahead and picks out the route the others are to follow, and often takes a tlag-pole along with him. Stieking this into the ground, he waves his hand for the others to "come ahead," and the transitman sets his instrument in that direction, and causes the vertical cross-haír in the telescope" to cut the pole, optically, in two. But I am afraid some readers may not know what crosshairs are. Most of you know tho principie of the telescope: an object-glass collects a large number of rays of light and concentrates them, and a lens, or a series of lenses, magnifies them. That is the simple principie, and in a transit, or level, just where the object-glass forms the image and the eye-piece magnifies it, there are two cobwebs, so line that the unaided eye can hardly see them, stretched across a round brass ring, at right angles with each other, one perfectly vertical and one horizontal. The point where they cross each other is the exact center of the lens. These are the cross-hairs, and they are on the optical axis of the instrument. With their aid a straight line can be prolonged any distanoe, or in a level, the difference in clevaüon between two points can be determined to the thousanth part of a foot, provided Mie operator and instrument bc in good order, and if the rodman, who holaa a joined pole graduated to one one-thousanth of afoot, undcrstauds his business. To explaiu tho working of an engineering party would be tcdious and uninteresting to many, and as that has nothing to do with my story. I will nol do so. Instcad of that, imagine me and my rodman running a line of levéis from a stream of water lo a new railroad, to see whether there was elevation cnough to force it into the tank, and the rest of the "party" miles away, busy at something. That was tho vcry thing I was doing one day on the Northern Pacific Ilailroad (it was not thai railroad, but it is a handy road to use on this occasion). The stream of water was two mile3 away from the new track, and that morning we had ridden from ourboarding-place, ten miles east, on a little hand-car. Tho grade there was a descending one, westward, for a long distance, and all we had to do, when going in that direction, was to sil still and fly along over the new rails. About flve miles further west a larg'e gang of men were working, layinc track; and the smoke of the engine o: the "constructson train" was plainly visible acrosss the undulating prairies. George and I, therefore, did not fee lost or alone, and we worked hard al the morning and ate our lunch in the cool shade of the tank-house just lin ished. As we had nothing moro to do that day I determined to put the truck on the track after we were done eating ridedown to thetrack-layers, and return with them on the flat-cars that evening But I was hungry and ate a great deal and then began to feel strangely drowsy the last thing I remember before I fel asleep was George standing by the leve in the hot sun, and looking through it a the hills east of ng. I cannot say how long 1 dozed, for 1 was startled so sud denly as to "jog"' my memory to an alarming extent. "Indians!" I heard some one erv; am I began to rub my eyes sleepil}1. But did not rub them long, for 1 saw George throwing the truck on the track in a state of great excitement. I was at lús side in an instant, aud a quick glance around showed me the true state o things. Eastward about a niile distant were five mounted Indians, riding to ward us at full speed. As the camp ha several times been raided dnring the men's absence, I had no doubt that they were hostile. I was not as uxcittd as George was, howevcr, for 1 put niy level and leveling-rod and two sprucc tios on the car before I slioved off. 'J'lu; rails were new and rough, and the hand-car was not worn much jet, but as I jumped on I feit it gaining speed down the straight track, and I arranged tlic two ties in the form of a barricade. Then Í looked back. The five Indians evidently nipantbusiness; for they were coming as fast as they could toward us, and were gaiuing upon us; and when I heard George moaning as he crouchedbehind the ties, I did not feel vcry cheerful or hopefiil. reacnea lor my revolver m raj mpocket, aiul cxamined its charges as ¦oolly as I could. There were seven arge-êized cartrídgeí in it, and the zip of a billet by my ears at that moment howcd me 1 might have to use them. I also crouched bchind the ties after this varning, and looked cauüously over lie top at our pursuers. They gained nearly half the distance during the first ive minutes, but the increasing quiekness of the click of the wheels at the oints of the rails gave me a little hope is L watcbed them. As to George, lie was so terrified as to be unconst'ious: mt a long llfe of engineering upon tlie jlains had hardened me a little: neither was this my iirst adventure. The sun )oured down upon us, and but for our notioii it would have prostrated us; the wind was blowing tho same way we were going, but ve were moving faster than it. and Ma gave us a faint breath of air. 1 ook off my light coat and f ormed a shado over George, who was helpless, and ooked ahead. Far away, through the moving waves of heat, I could see the smoke rising lazily f rom the engine, and tho two rails stretching in a long perspectivc until thev wero lost where the jrasa seemcd dycd brown; but the steady click-a-click-click of the wheels reminded me that it was a long way off, and I fastened my cyes on the Indians. J'hcywcre spreadingout. One of (hem. on my right, had left, tho niain body behind, and was circling around to get rihead of us. Thenl thought how lurkv it, was thero were no curves to give them an advantage. When I had iirst sigbted them 1 bey were making a great wany extravagant motions, but now they were ready for action, and I could see tlie foam on the dark breasts of their ponies as fbey leaned well forward. Hut in proportkm a-; their steeds tired, our steed gathered nuw energies, and the two thousand feet that separated us did not appear to ;lesseu TOiy rapidly. Whether they wanted to adorn their belta with our 'sealps, or wanted to hold us fora ransom, was another question, for they had iired but once, and doubtless reasoned that, as a "long tom" fired on a ship retareis, in a slight degree, its motions, so their rifles, iired at us, would check them. They did not fire, anyway, but their reasons for not doing so eau only be guessed at. So f ar as I could judge, only one of them was gaining on us, and I grasped the hanjlc of my revolver as I saw that he was lessening the distauce between us. Ho was covered bohind his horse, excepting his right leg and foot, but I did not see iit to waste a shot yet; there was no knowing what might happen, I 'thought. Bosides, my revolver would inot carry aucurately that distance, and overy ball might be required. I vpnturcd to look ahead a moment, and saw the smoke was nearer, and that the outlines of the engine and a few cars ware distinct against tho blue sky bèyond; and then another thought tla-ilied across my mind. We were going down a grade of thirty-Jive feet to the niile, bul three miles west of the tank-house the grade clianged to ten feet to the niile, liardly fall enonffh, I reasoned, to move the stiff truck along over the sealy surface of the rails. 1 could even see the change of grade, nearly a mile ahead, and I hoped (and only a mind in danger knows how to hope) that tho sun would beat down more tinmerciíully and overeóme those tough ponies. 1 was helpless; the truck was running as fast as the laws of gravitation and of friction would let it, and 1 did not doubt but the Indians were urgingtheir ponies to the utmost. Any word or actioa of mine, however, would not increase our speed, and as I could judgewewere going at the rate of fifteen miles an boor. ïhis raay seern extravagant, but I think it is not so. I am sure the truck did lts best. Perhaps the Indians saw that they were not gaining mueh, for I heard another bullct whiz over my Lead. The report was lost to my ears, full of the'elick-a-click-click. Then I determined to shoot. The nearest pony was but a littlo over a thousand feet away, and the ohange of grado was not much more tban that ahead. I took a careful aim, holding tho sights so they centered two feet above the pony's head, and flred. I heard them yell at this aggression, but the bullet. instead of hitting the forward pony, carried strong, I think, over its liead, and struck one of tho rear riders. One of them feil back, anyway, and I deliberately cocked the revolver again. This time I did not aim so high. I could feel my heart beating rapidly when 1 thought liow mach might depend on my accuracy. The ten-foot grade was not far away, I knew, andlfired. I heard a savage ell, but my shot did not taks effect except as it aroused their anger, and I had heard several bullets stug, sluq, into the spruce ties. Tne truck still kept up its speed, and a hasty look over mr shoulder- I was lying flat, beyond the ties - enabled me to judge liow far away f rom safety we were. 'A'e had covered about half the distance, and 1 distinctly saw the end of tho thirty-foot grade. The Indians evidently saw we were nearing the construction train, too, for they lashed their ponies furiously. I determined upon another 6hot. The Indian had gained alittle in the last few minutes, i aimed at the pony's foretop and tired. That shot determined tin: day. I saw tho pony stumble a few Bteps, and fall, throwing his rider over bis head. The remaining three, wilh a pavage yell, íired a parting volley, and ilrew rein. And just at that moment the truck stnick the ten-foot grade. 1 feit its pace slacken instantly, but luckily, the Indians did not know one grado from another, and ia a few minutes more they were a mile away, consoling their brother who would have to walk to their camp. Seeing that I was safe, I took a look at George. He was not totally tinconscious, but looked at me with an expression of terror. It took me some time to usare him of his safety, but I linally did, and we joiued the irack-layers witii thankful hcarts. Tho engineer, when he heard my story, uncouplcd the engine from the" train and gave chase ; the Indians were too wise, however, to follow the track, and we saw them


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News