Pieces People Ask For/The Engineer's Story
THE ENGINEER'S STORY.
Han'som, stranger? Yes, she's purty, an' ez peart ez she kin be.
Clever? W'y, she ain't no chicken, but she's good enough fur me.
What's her name? 'Tis kind o' common, yit I ain't ashamed to tell,
She's ole "Fiddler" Filkin's daughter, and her dad he calls her "Nell."
I wuz drivin' on the Central jist about a year ago,
On the run from Winnemucca up to Reno in Washoe.
There's no end o' skeery places. 'Tain't a road fur one who dreams,
With its curves an' awful tres'les over rocks an' mountain streams.
'Twuz an afternoon in August; we hed got behind an hour,
An' wuz tearin' up the mountain like a summer thundershower,
Round the bends an' by the ledges 'bout ez fast ez we could go,
With the mountain-peaks above us an' the river down below.
Ez we come nigh to a tres'le cros't a holler, deep an' wild,
Suddenly I saw a baby,—'twuz the station-keeper's child,—
Toddlin' right along the timbers with a bold an' fearless tread,
Right afore the locomotive, not a hundred rods ahead.
I jist jumped, an' grabbed the throttle, an' I fa'rly held my breath,
Fur I felt I couldn't stop her till the child was crushed to death,
When a woman sprang afore me like a sudden streak o' light,
Caught the boy, an' twixt the timbers in a second sank from sight.
I jist whis'l'd all the brakes on. An' we worked with might an' main,
Till the fire flew from the drivers, but we couldn't stop the train,
An' it rumbled on above her. How she screamed ez we rolled by!
An' the river roared below us,—I shell hear her till I die.
Then we stopped; the sun wuz shinin'; I ran back along the ridge,
An' I found her—dead? No, livin'! She wuz hangin' to the bridge,
Where she dropped down through the cross-ties with one arm about a sill,
An' the other round the baby, who wuz yellin' fur to kill.
So we saved 'em. She wuz gritty. She's ez peart ez she kin be;
Now we're married; she's no chicken, but she's good enough for me.
An' ef eny ask who owns her, w'y! I ain't ashamed to tell—
She's my wife. Ther' ain't none better than ole Filkin's daughter Nell.
Eugene J. Hall.