Read CHAPTER VI of Chasing an Iron Horse / A Boy's Adventures in the Civil War, free online book, by Edward Robins, on ReadCentral.com.

AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE

On sped the fugitive train once more, and in a few minutes it had stopped, with much bumping and rattle of brakes at the station called Adairsville. Hardly had the wheels of the faithful old “General” ceased revolving before a whistle was heard from the northward.

Andrews peered through the cab up the track. “It’s the regular freight,” he said, and calling to the station hands who were gaping at “Fuller’s train,” as they supposed it must be, he told them the customary story about the powder designed for General Beauregard. They believed the leader, who spoke with his old air of authority, and they quickly shunted his “special” on to the side track. No sooner had this been accomplished than the freight made its appearance.

As the engine of the latter passed slowly by “The General” Andrews shouted to the men in the cab: “Where’s the passenger train that is on the schedule?”

“It ought to be right behind us,” came the answer.

“That’s good,” whispered Andrews. “Once let us pass that passenger, and we’ll have a clear road to the very end of the line.”

In the meantime the freight was moved past the station and switched on to the siding, directly behind the “special,” there to wait the arrival of the passenger train.

George began to grow restless, as the minutes passed and no train appeared. At last, with the permission of Andrews, he jumped from the cab, and walked over to the platform, Waggie following close at his heels. He looked anxiously up the track, but he could see nothing, hear nothing.

Two young men, one of them a civilian and the other evidently a soldier who was home on furlough (to judge by his gray uniform and right arm in a sling), were promenading up and down, and smoking clay pipes.

“I don’t understand it,” the soldier was saying. “They talk about sending powder through to General Beauregard, but it’s an utter impossibility to do it.”

“You’re right,” said his friend. “The thing looks fishy. If these fellows are really what they ”

“Hush,” whispered the soldier. He pointed to George as he spoke. “Well, you’re beginning railroading pretty young,” he added aloud, scrutinizing the boy as if he would like to read his inmost thoughts.

“It’s never too young to begin,” answered the boy, carelessly.

“What is this powder train of yours, anyway?” asked the soldier, in a wheedling voice which was meant to be plausible and friendly.

George had heard enough of the conversation between the two young Southerners to know that they were more than curious about the supposed powder train. And now, he thought, they would try to entrap him into some damaging admission. He must be on his guard. He put on as stupid a look as he could assume (which was no easy task in the case of a boy with such intelligent features), as he replied stolidly: “Dunno. I’ve nothing to do with it. I’m only fireman on the engine.”

“But you know where you’re going?” demanded the soldier, with a gesture of impatience.

“Dunno.”

“Who is the tall chap with the beard who has charge of the train?”

“Dunno.”

“How much powder have you got on board?”

“Dunno.”

“I don’t suppose you even know your own name, you little idiot!” cried the soldier. “The boy hasn’t got good sense,” he said, turning to his friend.

“You were never more mistaken in your life,” answered his friend. “He’s only playing a game. I know something about faces and this boy here has lots of sense.”

George called Waggie, put the animal in his pocket, and walked to the door of the little station without taking any notice of this compliment to his sagacity. Under the circumstances he should have preferred the deepest insult. He felt that a long detention at Adairsville would be dangerous, perhaps fatal.

Opening the door, the boy entered the station. It comprised a cheerless waiting-room, with a stove, bench and water-cooler for furniture, and a little ticket office at one end. The ticket office was occupied by the station-agent, who was near the keyboard of the telegraph wire; otherwise the interior of the building was empty.

“Heard anything from the passenger yet?” asked George, as he walked unconcernedly into the ticket office.

“Just wait a second,” said the man, his right hand playing on the board; “I’m telegraphing up the line to Calhoun to find out where she is. The wires aren’t working to the south, somehow, but they’re all right to the north.”

Click, click, went the instrument. George returned leisurely to the doorway of the waiting-room. He was just in time to hear the young soldier say to his friend: “If these fellows try to get away from here, just let ’em go. I’ll send a telegram up the road giving warning that they are coming, and should be stopped as a suspicious party. If they don’t find themselves in hot water by the time they get to Dalton I’m a bigger fool than I think I am.”

George stood stock still. Here was danger indeed! He knew that to send a telegram up the road would be but the work of a minute; it could go over the wires to the north before the “special” had pulled away from Adairsville.

At this moment the station-agent came out of his office. “The passenger is behind time,” he said, and he ran quickly across the tracks to speak to Andrews, who was looking anxiously out from the cab of “The General.”

“It’s now or never,” thought George. He turned back into the deserted waiting-room, entered the ticket-office, and pulled from the belt under his inner coat a large revolver the weapon which he carried in case self-defense became necessary. Taking the barrel of the revolver, he tried to pry up the telegraphic keyboard from the table to which it was attached. But he found this impossible to accomplish; he could secure no leverage on the instrument. He was not to be thwarted, however; so changing his tactics, he took the barrel in his hand and began to rain heavy blows upon the keys, with the butt end. In less time than it takes to describe the episode, the instrument had been rendered totally useless.

“There,” he said to himself, with the air of a conqueror, “it will take time to repair that damage, or to send a telegram.” He was about to leave the office when he discovered a portable battery under the table. It was an instrument that could be attached to a wire, in case of emergency. George hastily picked it up, and hurried into the waiting-room. It would never do to leave this battery behind in the office; but how could he take it away without being caught in the act? His eyes wandered here and there, until they rested upon the stove. There was no fire in it. An inspiration came to him. He opened the iron door, which was large, and threw the battery into the stove. Then he closed the door, and sauntered carelessly out to the platform. The soldier and his friend were now standing at some distance from the station, on a sidewalk in front of a grocery store. They were engaged in earnest conversation. Over on the side-track, where “The General” stood, the station-agent was talking to Andrews. George joined his leader, and sprang into the cab.

“From what I hear,” said Andrews, “the passenger train is so much behind time that if I make fast time I can get to Calhoun before it arrives there, and wait on a siding for it to pass us.”

“Then why don’t you move on,” urged George, who happened to know how desirable it was to get away, but dared not drop any hint to his leader in the presence of the station-agent.

“You’re taking a risk,” said the station-agent. “You may strike the train before you reach Calhoun.” He was evidently not suspicious, but he feared an accident.

“If I meet the train before we reach Calhoun,” cried Andrews, striking his fist against the window-ledge of the cab, “why then she must back till she gets a side-track, and then we will pass her.”

He turned and looked at his engineer and the assistant.

“Are you ready to go, boys?” he asked. They quickly nodded assent; they longed to be off again.

“Then go ahead!” ordered Andrews. “A government special must not be detained by any other train on the road!”

“The General” was away once more. George began to explain to Andrews what he had heard at the station, and how he had disabled the telegraph.

“You’re a brick!” cried the leader, patting the boy approvingly on the shoulder; “and you have saved us from another scrape. But ’tis better to provide against any repairing of the telegraph and the sooner we cut a wire and obstruct the track, the better for us.”

Thus it happened that before the train had gone more than three miles “The General” was stopped, more wires were cut, and several cross-ties were thrown on the track in the rear. Then the train dashed on, this time at a terrific speed. Andrews hoped to reach Calhoun, seven miles away, before the passenger should arrive there. It was all that George could do to keep his balance, particularly when he was called upon to feed the engine fire with wood from the tender. Once Waggie, who showed a sudden disposition to see what was going on around him, and tried to crawl out from his master’s pocket, came very near being hurled out of the engine. Curves and up grades seemed all alike to “The General”; the noble steed never slackened its pace for an instant. The engineer was keeping his eyes on a point way up the line, so that he might slow up if he saw any sign of the passenger; the assistant sounded the whistle so incessantly that George thought his head would split from the noise. Once, at a road crossing, they whirled by a farm wagon containing four men. The boy had a vision of four mouths opened very wide. In a second wagon and occupants were left far behind.

In a space of time which seemed incredibly short Calhoun was reached. Down went the brakes and “The General” slid into the station to find directly in front, on the same track, the long-expected passenger train.

“There she is!” cried Andrews; “and not before it’s time!”

It was only by the most strenuous efforts that the engineer could keep “The General” from colliding with the locomotive of the opposing train. When he brought his obedient iron-horse to a standstill there was only the distance of a foot between the cowcatchers of the two engines. The engineer of the passenger train leaned from his cab and began to indulge in impolite language. “What d’ye mean,” he shouted, “by trying to run me down?” And he added some expressions which would not have passed muster in cultivated society.

“Clear the road! Clear the road!” roared Andrews. “This powder train must go through to General Beauregard at once! We can’t stay here a minute!”

These words acted like a charm. The passenger train was backed to a siding, and “The General” and its burden were soon running out of Calhoun.

“No more trains!” said Andrews. His voice was husky; the perspiration was streaming from his face. “Now for a little bridge burning. There’s a bridge a short distance up the road, across the Oostenaula River, where we can begin the real business of the day. But before we get to it let us stop ‘The General’ and see what condition he is in.”

“He has behaved like a gentleman, so far,” said the engineer. “He must be in sympathy with us Northerners.”

“Slow up!” ordered Andrews. “The old fellow is beginning to wheeze a little bit; I can tell that he needs oiling.”

Obedient to the command, the engineer brought “The General” to a halt. As the men came running from the baggage car, Andrews ordered them to take up another rail.

“It’s good exercise, boys,” he laughed, “even if it may not be actually necessary.”

Then he helped his engineers to inspect “The General.” The engine was still in excellent condition, although the wood and water were running a little low. It received a quick oiling, while George climbed up a telegraph pole and severed a wire in the manner heretofore described. Eight of the party were pulling at a rail, one end of which was loose and the other still fastened to the cross-ties by spikes.

Suddenly, away to the southward, came the whistle of an engine. Had a thunderbolt descended upon the men, the effect could not have been more startling. The workers at the rail tore it away from the track, in their wild excitement, and, losing their balance, fell headlong down the side of the embankment on which they had been standing. They were up again the next instant, unhurt, but eager to know the meaning of the whistle.

Was there an engine in pursuit? Andrews looked down the track.

“See!” he cried.

There was something to gaze at. Less than a mile away a large locomotive, which was reversed so that the tender came first, was running rapidly up the line, each instant approaching nearer and nearer to the fugitives. In the tender stood men who seemed to be armed with muskets.

“They are after us,” said Andrews. “There’s no doubt about it.” He was very calm now; he spoke as if he were discussing the most commonplace matter in the world.

His companions crowded around him.

“Let us stand and fight them!” cried Watson.

“Yes,” urged Jenks, who had forgotten all about his sore back; “we can make a stand here!”

Andrews shook his head. “Better go on, boys,” he answered. “We have taken out this rail, and that will delay them. In the meantime we can go on to the Oostenaula bridge and burn it.”

There was no time for discussion. The men yielded their usual assent to the orders of their chief. They quickly scrambled back into the train, to their respective posts, and Andrews gave the signal for departure.

“Push the engine for all it’s worth!” he commanded; “we must make the bridge before the enemy are on us.” The engineer set “The General” going at a rattling pace.

“How on earth could we be pursued, after the way we cut the wires along the line,” muttered the leader. “Can the enemy have telegraphed from Big Shanty to Kingston by some circuitous route? I don’t understand.”

“Are you making full speed?” he asked the engineer, a second later.

“The old horse is doing his best,” answered the man, “but the wood is getting precious low.”

“George, pour some engine oil into the furnace.”

The boy seized the oil can, and obeyed the order. The speed of “The General” increased; the engine seemed to spring forward like a horse to which the spur has been applied.

“That’s better,” said Andrews. “Now if we can only burn that bridge before the enemy are up to us, there is still a chance for success and life!” His voice sank almost to a whisper as he uttered the last word. With a strange, indescribable sensation, George suddenly realized how near they all were to disaster, even to death. He thought of his father, and then he thought of Waggie, and wondered what was to become of the little dog. The boy was cool; he had no sense of fear; it seemed as if he were figuring in some curious dream.

Suddenly Andrews left the engine, lurched into the tender, and began to climb out of it, and thence to the platform of the first baggage car. George looked back at him in dread; surely the leader would be hurled from the flying train and killed. But he reached the car in safety and opened the door. He shouted out an order which George could not hear, so great was the rattle of the train; then he made his way, with the ease of a sure-footed chamois, back to “The General.” He had ordered the men in the car to split up part of its sides for kindling-wood. By the use of the cross-ties, which they had picked up along the road, they battered down some of the planking of the walls, and quickly reduced it to smaller pieces. It was a thrilling sight. The men worked as they had never worked before. It was at the imminent risk of falling out, however, and as the train swung along over the track it seemed a miracle that none of them went flying through the open sides of the now devastated car.

On rushed “The General.” As it turned a curve George, who was now in the tender, glanced back to his right and saw the pursuing engine less than a mile behind.

“They are after us again!” he shouted. “They have gotten past the broken rail somehow,” he said. “They must have track repairing instruments on board.”

Andrews set his lips firmly together like a man who determines to fight to the last.

George made his way back to the cab. “Will we have time to burn the bridge?” he asked.

“We must wait and see,” answered the leader, as he once more left the engine and finally reached the despoiled baggage car. He said something to Jenks; then he returned to the cab.

“What are you going to do?” anxiously asked the boy. He could hear the shrill whistle of the pursuing locomotive. “Com-ing! Com-ing!” it seemed to say to his overwrought imagination.

Andrews made no answer to George; instead he shouted a command to the engineer: “Reverse your engine, and move backwards at full speed!”

The engineer, without asking any questions, did as he was told. Jenks ran through to the second car and contrived, after some delay caused by the roughness of the motion, to uncouple it from the third. This last car was now entirely loose from the train, and would have been left behind had it not been that the engine had already begun to go back. Faster and faster moved “The General” to the rear.

“Go forward again,” finally ordered Andrews. The engine slowly came to a standstill, and then plunged forward once more. Now George could see the meaning of this manoeuvre. The third car, being uncoupled, went running back towards the enemy’s tender. Andrews hoped to effect a collision.

But the engineer of the pursuing locomotive was evidently ready for such an emergency. He reversed his engine, and was soon running backwards. When the baggage car struck the tender no harm was done; the shock must have been very slight. In another minute the enemy’s engine was puffing onward again in the wake of the fugitives, while the car was being pushed along in front of the tender.

“That didn’t work very well,” said Andrews, placidly. “Let’s try them again.”

Once more “The General” was reversed. This time the second car was uncoupled and sent flying back. “The General” was now hauling only the tender and the one baggage car in which the majority of the members of the party were confined. The second attempt, however, met with no better result than the first: the enemy pursued the same tactics as before; reversing the locomotive, and avoiding a serious collision. It now started anew on the pursuit, pushing the two unattached cars ahead of it, apparently little hampered as to speed by the incumbrance. And now, unfortunately enough, the bridge was in plain view, only a few hundred yards ahead. As the enemy turned a new curve George caught a view of the tender. A dozen men, armed with rifles, were standing up in it; he could see the gleam of the rifle barrels.

“More oil,” ordered Andrews. The boy seized the can, and poured some more of the greasy liquid into the fiery furnace. He knew that the wood was almost exhausted, and that it would soon be impossible to hold the present rate of progress. Oh, if there only would be time to burn the bridge, and thus check the pursuers! But he saw that he was hoping for the impracticable.

“Shall we stop on the bridge?” asked the engineer, in a hoarse voice.

“It’s too late,” answered Andrews. “Keep her flying.”

Over the bridge went the engine, with the pursuers only a short distance behind.

“Let us have some of that kindling-wood for the furnace,” shouted Andrews to the men in the baggage car. The men began to pitch wood from the door of the car into the tender, and George transferred some of it to the furnace.

“That’s better,” cried the engineer. “We need wood more than we need a kingdom!”

“Throw out some of those cross-ties,” thundered the leader. The men dropped a tie here and there on the track, so that a temporary obstruction might be presented to the pursuing locomotive.

“That’s some help,” said Andrews, as he craned his neck out of the cab window and looked back along the line. “Those ties will make them stop a while, any way.” In fact the enemy had already stopped upon encountering the first log; two men from the tender were moving it from the track.

“We’ve a good fighting chance yet,” cried Andrews, whose enthusiasm had suddenly returned. “If we can burn another bridge, and block these fellows, the day is ours!”

“The water in the boiler is almost gone!” announced the engineer.

George’s heart sank. What meant all the wood in the world without a good supply of water? But Andrews was equal to the emergency. “Can you hold out for another mile or so?” he asked.

“Just about that, and no more,” came the answer.

“All right. We are about to run by Tilton station. A little beyond that, if I remember rightly, is a water tank.” Andrews, in his capacity as a spy within the Southern lines, knew Georgia well, and had frequently traveled over this particular railroad. It was his acquaintance with the line, indeed, that had enabled him to get through thus far without failure.

Past Tilton ran “The General,” as it nearly swept two frightened rustics from the platform. Then the engine began to slow up, until it finally rested at the water tank.

“I was right,” said Andrews. He leaped from the cab, and gazed down the line. “The enemy is not in sight now,” he cried. “Those ties are giving them trouble. Put some more on the track, boys. George, try some more wire-cutting. Brown, get your boiler filled.”

In an incredibly short space of time the telegraph wire had been cut, the engine was provided with water, and some more ties had been placed upon the track in the rear. What a curious scene the party presented; how tired, and dirty, yet how courageous they all looked.

“Shall we take up a rail?” demanded Macgreggor. Scarcely had the words left his lips before the whistle of the enemy was again heard.

“No time,” shouted the leader. “Let’s be off!”

Off went the train the grimy, panting engine, the tender, and the one baggage car, which was now literally torn to pieces in the frantic endeavor to provide kindling-wood.

“We want more wood,” George shouted back to the men after they had proceeded a couple of miles. Some wood was thrown into the tender from the baggage car, with the gloomy news: “This is all we have left!”

“No more wood after this,” explained George.

“All right,” answered Andrews, very cheerfully. “Tell them to throw out a few more ties on the track as long as they’re too big to burn in our furnace.”

The order was shouted back to the car. It was instantly obeyed. There was now another obstruction for the enemy; but George wondered how Andrews, full of resources though he might be, would find more wood for the engine. But Andrews was equal even to this.

“Stop!” cried the leader, after they had passed up the line about a mile from where the ties had been last thrown out. “The General” was soon motionless, breathing and quivering like some blooded horse which had been suddenly reined in during a race.

“Here’s more work for you, boys,” cried Andrews. He was already on the ground, pointing to the wooden fences which encompassed the fields on both sides of the track. The men needed no further prompting. In less than three minutes a large number of rails were reposing in the tender. George regarded them with an expression of professional pride, as befitted the fireman of the train.

“No trouble about wood or water now,” he said, as “The General” tore onward again.

“No,” replied the leader. “We will beat those Southerners yet!” He positively refused to think of failure at this late stage of the game. Yet it was a game that did not seem to promise certain success.

Thus the race continued, with “The General” sometimes rocking and reeling like a drunken man. On they rushed, past small stations, swinging around curves with the men in the car sitting on the floor and clinging to one another for fear they would be knocked out by the roughness of the motion. As George thought of this terrible journey in after years he wondered why it was that engine, car and passengers were not hurled headlong from the track.

“We are coming to Dalton,” suddenly announced Andrews. Dalton was a good-sized town twenty-two miles above Calhoun, and formed a junction with the line running to Cleveland, Tennessee.

“We must be careful here,” said Andrews, “for we don’t know who may be waiting to receive us. If a telegram was sent via the coast up to Richmond, and then down to Dalton, our real character may be known. Brown, be ready to reverse your engine if I give the signal then we’ll back out of the town, abandon the train, and take to the open fields.”

George wondered if, by doing this, they would not fall into the hands of their pursuers. But there was no chance for argument.

The speed of “The General” was now slackened, so that the engine approached the station at a rate of not more than fifteen miles an hour. Andrews saw nothing unusual on the platform; no soldiers; no preparations for arrest.

“Go ahead,” he said, “and stop at the platform. The coast’s clear so far.”

It was necessary that a stop should be made at Dalton for the reason that there were switches at this point, owing to the junction of the Cleveland line, and it would be impossible to run by the station without risking a bad accident. It was necessary, furthermore, that this stop should be as brief as possible, for the dilapidated looks of the broken baggage car and the general appearance of the party were such as to invite suspicion upon too close a scrutiny. Then, worse still, the enemy might arrive at any moment. Andrews was again equal to the occasion. As the forlorn train drew up at the station he assumed the air and bearing of a major-general, told some plausible story about being on his way with dispatches for Beauregard, and ordered that the switches should be immediately changed so that he could continue on to Chattanooga. Once again did his confident manner hoodwink the railroad officials. The switch was changed, and “The General” was quickly steaming out of Dalton. The citizens on the platform looked after the party as if they could not quite understand what the whole thing meant.

“Shall we cut a wire?” asked George.

“What is the good?” returned Andrews. “The enemy’s engine will reach Dalton in a minute or two perhaps they are there now and they can telegraph on to Chattanooga by way of the wires on the Cleveland line. It’s a roundabout way, but it will answer their purpose just as well.”

“Then we dare not keep on to Chattanooga?” asked George, in a tone of keen regret. He had fondly pictured a triumphant run through Chattanooga, and an ultimate meeting with the forces of Mitchell somewhere to the westward, accompanied by the applause of the troops and many kind words from the General.

“Not now,” answered the leader. “We may yet burn a bridge or two, and then take to the woods. It would be folly to enter Chattanooga only to be caught.”

At last Andrews saw that he must change his plans. He had hoped, by burning a bridge, to head off the pursuing engine before now; his failure to do this, and the complication caused by the telegraph line to Cleveland, told him that he must come to a halt before reaching Chattanooga. To run into that city would be to jump deliberately into the lion’s mouth.

“Let us see if there’s time to break a rail,” suddenly said the leader. The train was stopped, within sight of a small camp of Confederate troops, and the men started to loosen one of the rails. But hardly had they begun their work when there came the hated whistling from the pursuing engine. The adventurers abandoned their attempt, leaped to their places in cab and car, and “The General” again sped onward. There were no cross-ties remaining; this form of obstruction could no longer be used. It was now raining hard; all the fates seemed to be combining against the plucky little band of Northerners.

Andrews began at last to see that the situation was growing desperate.

“There’s still one chance,” he muttered. He knew that he would soon pass a bridge, and he went on to elaborate in his mind an ingenious plan by which the structure might be burned without making delay necessary, or risking a meeting with the pursuers. He scrambled his way carefully back to the baggage car.

“Boys,” he said, “I want you to set fire to this car, and then all of you crawl into the tender.”

There was a bustle in the car at once, although no one asked a question. The men made a valiant effort to ignite what was left of the splintered walls and roof of the car. But it was hard work. The rain, combined with the wind produced by the rapid motion of the train, made it impossible to set anything on fire even by a very plentiful use of matches.

“We’ll have to get something better than matches,” growled Watson. He had just been saved from pitching out upon the roadside by the quick efforts of one of his companions, who had seized him around the waist in the nick of time. Andrews went to the forward platform of the car.

“Can’t you get us a piece of burning wood over here,” he called to George.

The lad took a fence rail from the tender, placed it in the furnace, until one end was blazing, and then contrived to hand it to the leader from the rear of the tender. Andrews seized it, and applied the firebrand to several places in the car. But it was no easy task to make a conflagration; it seemed as if the rail would merely smoulder.

“Stop the engine,” he ordered. “The General” was brought to a halt, and then, when the artificial wind had ceased, the rail flared up. Soon the torn walls and roof of the car burst into flames.

“Into the tender, boys,” cried Andrews. The men needed no second bidding. The fire was already burning fiercely enough, despite the rain, to make their surroundings anything but comfortable. They scrambled into the tender. The engineer put his hand to the lever, pulled the throttle, and the party were again on the wing although at a slow and constantly lessening rate of speed. At last they scarcely moved.

“The General” was now passing over the bridge a covered structure of wood. Andrews uncoupled the blazing car, and climbed back into the tender. The engine again sped on, leaving the burning car in the middle of the bridge. The scheme of the leader was apparent; he hoped that the flames would be communicated to the roof of the bridge, and so to the entire wood-work, including the railroad ties and lower beams.

“At last!” thought Andrews. He would have the satisfaction of destroying one bridge at least and he would put an impassable barrier between the enemy and himself. His joy was, however, only too short lived. The Confederates boldly ran towards the bridge.

“They won’t dare to tackle that car,” said George, as “The General” kept moving onward. Yet the pursuing engine, instead of putting on brakes, glided through the bridge, pushing the burning car in front of it. When it reached the other side of the stream the car was switched off on a siding, and the enemy prepared to sweep onwards. The bridge was saved; Andrews’ plan had failed. The Northerners gave groans of disappointment as they fled along in front.

Finally it was resolved to make a last stop, and to attempt to pull up a rail. The enemy was now some distance behind, having been delayed by the time necessarily consumed in switching off the car, so that there seemed a reasonable chance of executing this piece of strategy. When the men had again alighted on firm ground several of them felt actually seasick from the jolting of the engine and tender. It was now that one of the party made a novel proposition to Andrews. The plan seemed to have a good deal to recommend it, considering how desperate was the present situation.

“Let us run the engine on,” he said, “until we are out of sight of the enemy, and are near some of the bushes which dot the track. Then we can tear up a rail, or obstruct the track in some way, and quickly hide ourselves in the bushes. The engineer will stay in ‘The General,’ and, as soon as the enemy comes in sight, can continue up the road, just as if we were all on board. When the Confederates reach the broken rail, and prepare to fix it, we can all rush out at them and fire our revolvers. They will be taken by surprise we will have the advantage.”

“That sounds logical enough,” observed Andrews; “it’s worth trying, if ”

Again the enemy’s whistle sounded ominously near. There was no chance to argue about anything now. The men leaped to their places, and “The General” was quickly gotten under way.

Watson looked at Jenks, next to whom he was huddled in the tender.

“How long is this sort of thing to be kept up?” he asked. “I’d far rather get out and fight the fellows than run along this way!”

Jenks brushed the rain from his grimy face but made no answer.

“This all comes from that fatal delay at Kingston,” announced Macgreggor. “We would be just an hour ahead if it hadn’t been for those wretched freight trains.”

The enemy’s engine gave an exultant whistle. “Vic-to-ry! Vic-to-ry!” it seemed to shriek.