Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 205As Edwards crossed the summit he shut off steam and surrendered his train to the force of gravity. Looking back, he could see by the faint light from new snow that the driving-wheels on the rear engine were bigger than his own, and that a tall figure stood atop of the cars and gestured franticly. At a sharp turn in the track he found the other train but two hundred yards behind, and as he swept around the curve the engineer who was chasing him leaned from his window and laughed. His face was like dough. Snow was falling and had begun to drift in the hollows, but the trains flew on; bridges shook as they thundered across them; wind screamed in the ears of the passengers; the suspected bridge was reached; Edwards's heart was in his throat, but he seemed to clear the chasm by a bound. Now the switch was in sight, but No. 19 was not there, and as the brakes were freed the train shot by like a flash. Suddenly a red light appeared ahead, swinging to and fro on the track. As well be run into behind as to crash into an obstacle ahead. He heard the whistle of the pursuing locomotive yelp behind him, yet he reversed the lever and put on brakes, and for a few seconds lived in a hell of dread.
Hearing no sound, now, he glanced back and saw the wild train almost leap upon his own—yet just before it touched it the track seemed to spread, the engine toppled from the bank, the whole train rolled into the canon and vanished. Edwards shuddered and listened. No cry of hurt men or hiss of steam came up—nothing but the groan of the wind as it rolled through the black depth. The lantern ahead, too, had disappeared. Now another danger impended, and there was no time to linger, for No. 19 might be on its way ahead if he did not reach the second switch before it moved out. The mad run was resumed and the second switch was reached in time. As Edwards was finishing the run to Green River, which he reached in the morning ahead of schedule, he found written in the frost of his cab-window these words: "A frate train was recked as yu saw. Now that yu saw it yu will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control and four sexshun men wor killed. If yu ever run on this road again yu will be recked." Edwards quit the road that morning, and returning to Denver found employment on the Union Pacific. No wreck was discovered next day in the canon where he had seen it, nor has the phantom train been in chase of any engineer who has crossed the divide since that night.
THE RIVER OF LOST SOULS
In the days when Spain ruled the Western country an infantry regiment was ordered out from Santa Fe to open communication with Florida and to carry a chest of gold for the payment of the soldiers in St. Augustine. The men wintered on the site of Trinidad, comforted by the society of their wives and families, and in the spring the women and camp-followers were directed to remain, while the troops set forward along the canon of the Purgatoire—neither to reach their destination nor to return. Did they attempt to descend the stream in boats and go to wreck among the rapids? Were they swept into eternity by a freshet? Did they lose their provisions and starve in the desert? Did the Indians revenge themselves for brutality and selfishness by slaying them at night or from an ambush? Were they killed by banditti? Did they sink in the quicksands that led the river into subterranean canals? None will ever know, perhaps; but many years afterward a savage told a priest in Santa Fe that the regiment had been surrounded by Indians, as Custer's command was in Montana, and slain, to a man. Seeing that escape was hopeless, the colonel—so said the narrator—had buried the gold that he was transporting. Thousands of doubloons are believed to be hidden in the canon, and thousands of dollars have been spent in searching for them.