What does the future hold

MARY WELSH and Mamie, hurrying with anxious hearts and pallid cheeks,
not daring to think of what awaited them, toward Chestnut’s drugstore,
in answer to Jack’s summons, were met outside the little triangular
frame building from which the drugstore stared out upon the tracks, by
Jack himself, his face gray and lined with suffering and

“Wait a minute,” he said, hoarsely, and Mary, reading the suffering in
his eyes, put her hand quickly upon his arm.

“How is he?”

“I don’t know yet. The doctor’s just finishin’ with him.”

And then his self-control gave way, and a great sob shook him.

“A nice guardeen I am, ain’t I?” he asked, bitterly. “Oh, I could go an’
throw myself under the wheels of that engine there!”

“Don’t, Jack!” protested Mary, quickly. “Don’t take it so. Whatever
happened wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was! I stood by like a dumb beast an’ let Hummel—Kin ye ever
forgive me, Mamie? Oh, but I’m shamed t’ look ye in the eyes!”

“Forgive you, dad?” cried the girl, her heart smitten as she looked at
him. “Why, dad, there’s nothing to forgive. I know you did your best.”

“Not like Reddy Magraw,” said Jack, the tears streaming down his face.
“Not like Reddy Magraw. Do you know what he did—he saw that varmint
fumblin’ at his pocket, an’ he must have guessed what was comin’—I was
lookin’, too, but I never thought of nothin’ like that—an’ Reddy jumped
fer him an’ grabbed him—an’ jest then the bomb went off—”

“He’s dead, ain’t he, Jack?” asked Mary.

“Yes,” said Jack, with a hoarse sob, “an’ so’s Reddy Magraw—an’ if our
boy lives, it’ll be because of Reddy, not because o’ me. That’s what it
makes me sick t’ think of!”

“Reddy dead!” gasped Mary, the tears starting to her eyes. “Does—”

“No,” said Jack. “You’ll have t’ tell her. I couldn’t to save my soul.”

“I’ll tell her,” said Mary, quietly. “She’ll be proud when she knows.”

And then the door opened and they saw the doctor standing on the

“Come in,” he said softly. “You can see him now; and it’s all right.”

“You mean he ain’t dead?” asked Jack.

“No, nor going to die. Is this Mamie?” he added, turning to the young

“Yes,” she answered.

“He’s been asking for you. He mustn’t be excited,” he added, looking at
the others. “Is it necessary that you see him?”

Mary gulped back the indignant words which rose to her lips. Necessary
that she see her boy!

“No,” she said, steadily. “We’ll jest excite him. You go, Mamie. Jack’ll
wait fer ye,” and she held Jack by the hand until Mamie had entered and
the door had closed behind her.

“It’s her place, not mine,” she said. “An’ now I’ll go over t’ the

“Mary,” said Jack, hoarsely, and put his arm around her, “you’re the
bravest little woman I iver knew. I’m proud of ye.”

But Mary felt anything but brave as, in the gray light of the dawn, she
slowly crossed the tracks and mounted the path to the door of the little
house. For, after all, what could she say to lighten the force of the
blow? What could anyone say? Suppose it was some one else coming to tell
her of Jack? She caught her breath sharply—

And then she was conscious that the door was open and when she looked
up, she saw Mrs. Magraw standing there and gazing down at her, a strange
light in her eyes.

“Come in,” she said, and led the way into the little parlour, from
which, during the night, she had watched the flames across the yards. “I
knowed ye’d come,” she added. “I knowed ye’d want t’ be the one t’ tell
me—an’ I thank ye, Mary Welsh.”

“You—you know?” gasped Mary, staring at her. “Somebody’s told you?”

“No, nobody’s told me; but I know. I knowed when I saw him goin’ away
that he was niver comin’ back.”

“An’ you let him go?”

“Yes, I sent him.”

“Sent him?”

“T’ guard the boy? Did he guard him?”

And Mary Welsh flung herself upon her knees before the other woman and
buried her face in her lap.

“He did!” she said, thickly. “With his life.”

* * * * *

Mr. Schofield, relieved of the stress of duty at Cincinnati, arrived at
Wadsworth on the early train next day, and at once took charge of the
situation. There was much to do. The whole train-service of the road had
to be reorganized, the ravelled ends gathered up again, the
freight-house rebuilt, traffic provided for; and for four days and
nights he thought of nothing else. Then, the first strain past, he put
on his hat one afternoon, and started back over the yards to a little
house which stood high on an embankment facing them.

He climbed the steep path, and paused for a moment to look down over the
yards before knocking at the door. His eyes gleamed with pride as he
watched the busy engines, the assembled cars, the evidences of orderly
and busy life.

Then he turned and knocked. An Irish woman well past middle-age, and
with hair snowy white, opened the door.

“Mrs. Magraw?” asked the visitor.

“Yis, sir.”

“My name’s Schofield.”

“I know ye, sir,” said Mrs. Magraw, quietly. “This ain’t the first toime
ye’ve been to see me.”

“No—but that was a good many years ago. If you don’t mind, I’ll sit down
here on the porch. I want to talk to you.”

“All right, sir,” said Mrs. Magraw, and tried to dust off the bench, but
Mr. Schofield was too quick for her.

“I’ve heard how your husband died,” he began gently, “and I want to say
this: no man ever died a nobler death.”

“I’m proud of him, sir,” said Mrs. Magraw, her eyes filling with tears.
“I’m prouder of him than I kin say.”

“We’re all proud of him. I’ve been proud of him for many years. It isn’t
the first time he’s proved the stuff he was made of.”

Mrs. Magraw nodded.

“But there’s no use for me to tell you that,” went on the
superintendent. “You knew him better than I did. Now here’s what I’ve
come to say. The road has pensioned you for life. You will receive a
check every month for thirty dollars.”

“Thirty dollars!” echoed Mrs. Magraw. “Why, sir,—”

“I know it isn’t very much—”

“Very much! It’s all the difference between starvin’ an’ livin’, sir.”

“I’m glad of that. How old is your oldest boy?”

“Thirteen, sir.”

“What do you want him to be?”

“Well, sir, he seems to have a taste fer mechanics.”

“All right; there’s a job waiting for him, and for all the other boys
when they’re old enough. The road wants to make life just as easy for
you as it can, Mrs. Magraw; and even at that, it feels that it has done
mighty little—so little that I was almost ashamed to come here to-day
and tell you. It’s not in any sense intended as a recompense—don’t think

“I understand, sir,” said Mrs. Magraw, and there was in her face a sweet
dignity. “An’ I’ve had my recompense—with the flowers an’ the men at the
funeral—the shop-men, sir, an’ the brotherhood—stretchin’ clear out t’
the street yonder, an’ cryin’, sir, as if ’twas their own brother—”

She stopped, her eyes gleaming.

“He was the brother of every one of us,” he said; and added, soberly, “I
wish I was as good a man!”

Mrs. Magraw watched him as he crossed the yards; watched him till a
corner of the round-house hid him from view; then she turned slowly back
into the house, her face shining.

“Oh, Reddy,” she said hoarsely to herself; “it’s a proud woman I am this
day; proud fer ye—proud fer ye—oh, an’ heart-broken, too.”

* * * * *

The next afternoon, Mr. Schofield called up Jack Welsh’s residence.

“How’s Allan getting along?” he asked of the woman’s voice which
answered the phone.

“He’s gittin’ along as well as could be expected.”

“Is he able to sit up?”

“Yes, sir; he sets up a little every day.”

“This is Schofield talking. I wonder if I could see him this afternoon?”

“Yes, sir; I guess so,” answered the voice, but without enthusiasm.

“Well, tell him I’ll be down in about an hour—and if he can’t see me yet
awhile, let me know.

“All right, sir.”

“It’s Mister Schofield wantin’ to see you,” Mary announced to Allan,
three minutes later. “Says he’ll be here in an hour. Hadn’t I better
tell him you ain’t able?”

“Oh, I guess I’m able,” said Allan, smiling up at her.

He was lying back in a great chair, with Mamie beside him.

“Well, it’s time he was askin’ after ye.”

“He’s been pretty busy, I suspect.”

Mary snorted.

“A good excuse! An’ I know what he’s comin’ fer.”

“What?” asked Allan, smiling broadly.

“He’ll be wantin’ to know when you’re comin’ back to work.”

“And I’ll tell him Monday.”

“Monday, indeed,” cried Mary and Mamie both.

“Why, I’m all right again,” Allan protested. “A little shaky and scary,
but I’ll get over that.”

“Well, we’ll see about it,” said Mamie, in a tone which told that she
was far from being convinced.

Mrs. Welsh went about her household work, leaving the two together, and
presently there came the expected knock at the door.

But when she opened it, it was not Mr. Schofield alone who stood there.
With him was a man with blue eyes and light hair and flowing blonde
moustache whom Mrs. Welsh had never seen before.

“How do you do, Mrs. Welsh,” said Mr. Schofield, shaking hands with her.
“This is Mr. Round,” he added, and Mr. Round also shook hands. “Can we
see the invalid?”

“Ye-yes, sir,” stammered Mary, more overwhelmed than she had ever been
in her life. “Right up these stairs, sir.”

She led the way and ushered them into Allan’s room.

He started and flushed when he saw who Mr. Schofield’s companion was.

“No,” said Mr. Schofield, smiling at Mrs. Welsh, “I didn’t come this
time to ask you when you’re coming back to work; but to say good-bye.”

“Good-bye?” echoed Allan. “You’re not going away?”

“He’s got too big for us,” said Mr. Round. “I’ve been afraid of it for a
long time. Let me introduce you to the new general superintendent of the
Rock Island.”

“What!” cried Allan, his face beaming. “Oh, but I’m glad!” and he held
out his hand eagerly. “Sorry, too,” he added. “You’ve been one of the
best friends I ever had.”

“And always will be,” said Mr. Schofield heartily. “We’re all proud of
you, Allan. Let me see, how old are you?”


“Rather young for train master,” said Mr. Round, looking at him

“Train master?” Allan echoed, suddenly white.

“Though we’ll try you, anyway,” and Mr. Round smiled broadly. “That is,
if you accept.”

“Why,” stammered Allan, “I can’t—I don’t—”

“Don’t try. There’s no hurry, either. You know what I said to you about
a vacation?”

“Yes,” said Allan.

“And you said something about a honeymoon.”

Mamie flushed crimson, and even Allan reddened a little.

“Is this the young lady?” asked Mr. Round, looking at Mamie approvingly.

“Yes,” said Allan. “Mamie—Miss Welsh.”

“I congratulate you, my dear,” said Mr. Round, shaking her kindly by the
hand. “I’ve heard of that exploit of yours. The road is your debtor more
than I can say. I hate to think what would have happened if it hadn’t
been for you.”

“I take the credit of this match,” added Mr. Schofield, laughing. “I
told Allan it was the only proper thing to do.”

“I’d already arrived at the same conclusion,” said Allan, “and we’d just
settled it when you called up.”

“Well,” said Mr. Round, with another glance at Mamie’s rosy face, “I
think you’re to be congratulated too, Allan. You seem to have a knack of
falling on your feet. When is it to take place?”

“Next month,” answered Allan, boldly, without even glancing at Mamie.

That young lady opened her lips and stared at him in astonishment, but
closed them again without speaking.

“Where are you going for the honeymoon?”

“Oh, we haven’t decided. We haven’t much money to spend on a honeymoon,
you know.”

“Have you thought of California?”

“Of California? No, nor of the moon,” answered Allan, with a laugh.
“Palm Beach, maybe, if we can get transportation.”

“Oh, I guess you can,” said Mr. Round, with a little laugh. “But I’m
sorry you hadn’t thought of California. You see, when you spoke of the
honeymoon, I thought a little trip through the west would be just the
thing, so I pulled a few wires, and here,” he put his hand in his pocket
and brought out a thick envelope, “is the result. What shall I do with

“What is it?” asked Allan and Mamie in the same breath.

“An order from the President to place my private car at your disposal
for a month—transportation over the Southern Pacific going and the
Northern Pacific returning—what do you say, children?”

What could they say!

With a chuckle of sheer enjoyment, Mr. Round tossed the envelope into
Allan’s lap.

“Mind you ask me to the wedding,” he said, and caught up his hat. “Come
on, Schofield. We’re in the way.”

* * * * *

“How do you know I’m going to marry you next month?” demanded Mamie.

“I know you are—you can’t refuse—it might send me into a decline.”

“Decline, indeed,” sniffed Mamie.

“I knew you wouldn’t!” laughed Allan.

Mamie laughed too, and kissed him.

“Don’t you feel like a fairy god-child?” she asked. “I do.”

“What day is it?” he asked, suddenly.

“The fifteenth.”

“Then to-morrow’s Betty Heywood’s wedding—and I can’t be there—I haven’t
even sent a gift. What will she think of me?”

“Write and tell her,” suggested Mamie, and Allan did—told her more,
perhaps, than Mamie intended he should; and the answer came promptly two
days later.

“Dear Allan,” it ran, “Your letter was the dearest wedding gift of
all; to know that you had found the right girl and that you are
happy was just the one thing needed to give the crowning touch to my
own happiness. So you see that I was right! I’ve never doubted it
for an instant, but just the same I’m glad it’s proved. I’m
scribbling this at the last moment, for your letter just came;
there’s the wedding march—I must go. I’m very, very happy, Allan,
and I suppose that this is the last time I shall ever sign myself


Allan looked up from the letter, his eyes shining.

“She’s a dear girl,” he said.

“Yes,” agreed Mamie, a little doubtfully.

“But not the dearest,” added Allan smiling. “Come here. Look what a
beautiful sunset. Look at those crimson clouds along the horizon.”

“Who is the dearest?” asked Mamie, refusing to be led aside from the
question under discussion. “Can’t you guess?”

“I’m not good at guessing.”

“It’s the same one I jerked from in front of an engine years and years
ago; the same one I used to do sums for; the same one who saved my life
just the other day. Now can you guess?”

“Yes,” said Mamie, dimpling and snuggling close to him; “yes, I think I

* * * * *

And so we leave them.

What does the future hold? For one thing, be sure that it holds
happiness. Be sure, too, that the young train master will not always be
merely that. He can afford to wait—to grow and broaden, to learn his
business thoroughly; but the time will come when he will step up and up.
Yet, however high he climbs, those first years, whose history we know,
will be a sweet and ever-present memory, as years of trial always are
when one has emerged from them triumphant.