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The Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch







































"Come now, you boys git out of here! No tramps allowed in Freeport while
Ezra Jenkins is constable! Move along, now, or I'll arrest ye! Here's my
badge of authority!" And a crabbed old man, wearing a faded blue suit,
with a big shining star of metal on his coat, tapped the emblem with his

Two boys, who had just joined each other, after having called at houses
on the main street of the little New York village, where Constable
Jenkins held sway as the entire police force, started at the sound of
the harsh voice.

"Come; are ye goin' to move?" snapped the constable.

"I suppose we'll have to," answered the larger and stouter of the two
lads, "but we haven't done anything."

"Ye're tramps, ain't ye?" inquired the constable. "Course ye are! Been
beggin', ain't ye? Course ye have! I kin see the victuals stickin' out
of yer pockets now! Move on an' git out of Freeport! We don't want any
tramps here!"

"Come on, Mark," said the heavier of the two boys; "if our room is
better than our company, they can have the room. I hope you'll get
richer boarders than we are," the youth went on, turning to the
constable. "We are going to shake the dust of Freeport from our feet.
I think they ought to call this town Closedport instead of Freeport!"

"None of yer sass, now!" warned the constable, tapping his badge again.
"Jest you move on out of town!"

"I think we had better go," murmured the other boy, who was thin and
small. "Don't make any trouble, Jack."

"All right," assented the other. "Ta-ta, Mr. Chief of Police! See you

"Here, you young rascals!" cried the constable. "Come back here an' I'll
lock ye up!"

But the boys started to run, and, as Mr. Jenkins was no longer young,
and as his legs were rather stiff, he went only a little way before he
had to stop. He shook his fist after the two lads.

"Do you suppose he would have locked us up?" asked the small boy, whom
his companion addressed as Mark. His full name was Mark Sampson, but he
was very unlike his strong ancestor who pulled over the pillars of the

"He acted mean enough to do anything," replied Jack Darrow, who was
quite a contrast in point of size and fleshiness to his companion.

"What shall we do now?" asked Mark.

"Keep on moving, I guess," was the reply, "At least until we get outside
of Freeport."

"Well, I'm glad I've got company now. It was lonesome before I met you."

"Same here. We'll travel a way together, eh?"

The two boys had met under rather strange circumstances. Early that
morning Jack Darrow, the stout one, had awakened from his sleep in a
pile of hay in a farmer's field. Close to him was another youth, whose
name he had inquired as soon as the owner of it awoke.

Then the two boys discovered that their conditions in life were very
similar. Both were orphans, about the same age, Jack being sixteen and
Mark fifteen years, and neither had a place he could call home.

"My folks have been dead for some years," said Jack, in telling his
story to his companion. "I was hired out to a farmer in the upper part
of New York, but he worked me so hard and treated me so mean that I ran
away. I've been tramping ever since; don't my clothes show it? You see
I was forced to go without taking my many trunks along," and he laughed,
for he was of a jolly disposition.

"My people are dead also," said Mark. "I had a job with a man going
around the country with a traction engine, threshing wheat and oats at
different farms. But he used to beat me, so, one night, I ran away."

"And didn't bring any extra clothes with you, either," put in Jack.

"I never owned any to bring. I only had the one suit I wore."

And after that the boys had told something of their experiences and
become very friendly.

The two boys walked on for a while in silence, kicking up the dust of
the country road. Then Jack came to a halt, clapped his hand on his
pocket, and said:

"I nearly forgot I had something to eat! Just think of it! And I haven't
dined since yesterday! I wonder what the lady gave me. She looked good

He sat down on a grassy bank along the highway, pulled the package of
food out, and began to eat with every indication of satisfaction.

"Bread, meat, piece of pie and a piece of cake!" he announced, looking
over his lunch. "What did you get, Mark?"

"I got the same as you, except I didn't get any pie or cake."

"I guess your lady hadn't baked this week. Never mind, you can have half
my pie and half my cake."

"I'm sure I'm much obliged," said the thin youth.

"You needn't be," broke in Jack. "That's the law of the road. When
two - well, I suppose I might as well say tramps, for that's what we
are - when two tramps go off together, they whack up. And that's what
we're going to do!"

It did not take long for the boys to finish their simple meal. Jack,
true to his promise, shared his dessert with his companion.

"Well, I feel like going on now, and looking for a job," remarked the
heavier weighted lad. "What do you say, Mark?"

"I guess we might as well get out of this town. They don't seem to care
for us. But I wish I had a drink of water."

"Nothing easier," replied Jack. "There you are," and he pointed a short
distance ahead, where a brook ran along the road. The boys got down on
their faces near a little pool, the bottom of which was covered with
white pebbles, and drank heartily. Then, refreshed by the water, their
hunger appeased, and rested, they started on the tramp again.

"Any particular place you want to go to?" asked Mark.

"No, I'm not particular. East or west, the north pole or the south pole.
I haven't any one to worry about me, no matter which way I go. I'd a
little rather go north, though, as it is mighty warm to-day," and Jack
laughed carelessly.

Little did he guess how soon his wish was to be gratified.

"Then we may as well keep on until we get to the next town," said Mark.

They walked on for some distance, their thoughts busy with their recent
experiences, when they suddenly heard a noise at a distance.

"Sounds like a freight train," said Mark.

"So it is! Come on! Let's get aboard! Riding is easier than walking any
day! Hurry up!"

And then the two boys broke into a run toward a slow moving freight on a
track that crossed the country road a short distance away from them.

"Look out that you don't get under the wheels!" cautioned Jack to his

"Oh, I'm used to jumping the cars," replied Mark, as he ran quickly up
beside the rails.

The two boys reached the track along which the freight train was bumping
and clicking. It was a long outfit, with many box, flat and gondola

"Try for a gondola!" suggested Jack, indicating the cars with sides
about five feet high, and open at the top.

The next instant he had swung up on a car, thrusting his foot in the
iron step, and grasping the handle in a firm grip. Jack grabbed the next
car, and landed safely aboard. Then, running forward, and clambering
over to where his companion was, Jack pulled Mark down on the bottom of
the gondola.

"No use letting a brakeman see you if you can help it," he explained.



On went the train, carrying the boys to a destination unknown to them.
All they cared for was that they were going away from Freeport and its
vindictive constable.

"How long have your folks been dead?" asked Jack, after he had settled
himself comfortably in a corner.

"About five years," was the answer. "Father and mother went about the
same time. They were poor, and I had no brothers or sisters. When I was
all alone," the boy's voice trembled a bit, "I didn't know what to do.
They wanted to send me to the poor-house, but I ran away. Then, after
knocking about a bit, I got the job with the traction engine man, until
he used me so I couldn't stand it."

"That's about my case," said Jack. "I had a brother, and he ran away
before my folks died. I guess they felt bad about him. Anyhow, mother
used to cry an awful lot. When I was left all alone I was taken care of
by some poor folks, who kept me as long as they could. Then I had to
shift for myself. I had a good many jobs, and then I thought I'd like
to be a farmer. I was sent to a place but the man wasn't very kind. He
whipped me because I made a mistake and pulled up an onion instead of a
weed. Then he beat me because I gave the horse too many oats. He never
told me how much to give. So I ran away, and I'm glad of it. I've been
cold and hungry lots of times since, but I haven't been whipped."

"I guess that old constable would have licked us if he had the chance,"
put in Mark.

"No use worrying over that. He's a good many miles away now."

"Here! What are you boys doing there?" cried a voice.

Jack and Mark looked up, to see a brakeman gazing down at them from the
top of a box car.

"We're taking a ride," answered Jack coolly.

"So I see," replied the brakeman. "Well, I guess it will come to an end
right now. Hop off!"

"Are you the conductor?" asked Jack.

"No, of course not," said the wheel-twister.

"Then don't try to put us off," went on the boy, with an assumed haughty
air. "Just send the conductor here to punch our tickets. We're traveling
first class, and don't want to be disturbed any more than is necessary."

"Well, I like your nerve!" exclaimed the brakeman, climbing down. "Who
are you, anyhow?"

The railroad man laughed. Then Jack smiled, for he knew he and his
companion were safe. In a few words he told their stories, and the
brakeman promised they might go as far as the train went.

"You boys are all right," said the brakeman. "I have two youngsters of
my own at home, and I hope, if ever they get in a tight place, some one
will help them. Can I do anything to fix you up?"

"Not unless you can lend us about one thousand dollars each," laughed
Jack, and the brakeman joined in with him.

"Or tell us where we can get work," put in Mark, who seemed quite

"I can't say for sure where you can get jobs," the brakeman said, "but
if I was in your place I'd get off at the next town. The name of it is
Millville, and there are lots of factories there. Maybe you can strike
something. I'll speak to the conductor and have him ask the engineer to
slow up so you can jump off."

"We'd be obliged if you would," Jack said. "We may be tramps for a
while, but we're both anxious to get work, and maybe Millville will be
just the place for us."

"We're coming into it now," the brakeman went on. "It's about a mile
from here. I'll go back, and when you hear five whistles from the engine
you'll know it's slowing up and you are to jump off. I know the
conductor will do that if I ask him."

The brakeman climbed up the ladder on the end of the box car next to the
gondola where the boys were, until he reached the run-boards on top.
Then he hurried along to the caboose, where the conductor was.

"We must listen for the five whistles," said Jack. "Get ready to jump,
Mark. Don't forget your baggage."

"No danger of that," chimed in the other, falling into the joyful mood
of his companion, who never seemed to be cast down for long, no matter
what happened.

The train was going down grade now, and the speed was much increased.
Telegraph poles whizzed past at a rapid rate and the wheels sung a
livelier tune as they clipped over the rail joints.

"It's a good thing the engineer is going to slow down for us," said
Jack. "We'd never be able to jump off at the rate we're going."

"Hark!" exclaimed Mark. "There goes the whistle!"

The boys listened. A long, shrill blast cut the summer air, and
vibrated back to them over the tops of the cars.

"That isn't five whistles; it's one!" cried Jack. "It's the call for
brakes! I wonder if anything has happened to the train!"

There was a pause. Then came another single shriek from the engine's
whistle. It sounded appealingly, as if the steam monster was in

"Look! Look!" shouted Mark. "We are going much faster than we were!"

At the same instant there was a crash and a jolting sound. The train
seemed to break in two parts at about the centre. The forward section,
drawn by the engine, went one way, and the other part, with the gondola
containing the boys, in the lead, took another track. An insecurely
fastened switch was responsible for the accident. The locomotive and
nearly half the cars of the train took the main track, while the
remainder of the outfit swung on to a siding.

The section of the train with the boys aboard had become a runaway

"What has happened?" cried Mark.

"The train's broken in two!" shouted Jack. "Come on! Help twist the

Both boys sprang to the wheel of the gondola. It was all they could do
to give it a few turns, but they managed to make the brake-shoes grip
the wheels to some degree, as was evidenced by the shrill shrieking.

"Can you climb up to the top of the box car?" asked Jack.

"Sure!" shouted Mark. "Go ahead!"

Though Mark was thin, he had a nervous strength almost equal to that of
his stouter companion.

"We must set all the brakes we can!" Jack cried. "That's the only way to
stop the runaway train!"

With their small arms they twisted the wheel on the box car. They got it
as tight as they could, then ran along the top of the vehicle to the
next one. About ten cars down they saw their friendly brakeman.

"That's the stuff, boys!" he shouted. "There'll be a smash-up if we
don't stop the cars!"

He was twisting wheels with all his might. As fast as they could the two
boys went from car to car, setting the brakes.

But in spite of their efforts, and the efforts of another brakeman
besides the one they had spoken to, the speed of the runaway freight
train increased. The grade was a steep one, and down the hill the
uncontrolled cars rushed.

"I don't believe we're going to stop," said Jack.

"Shall we jump?" asked Mark.

"Not if you want to get a job in the mill or factory," replied Jack. "I
reckon if you or I jumped that would be the last of us."

With a rush and a roar the train continued to speed along. The trees and
telegraph poles whizzed past so quickly as to be almost invisible.

"I guess this is Millville," said Mark, as the runaway train passed a
station, on several sides of which there were large buildings to be

So fast was the runaway train going now that the boys had to lie down on
their faces and cling to the run-boards on top of the box car to avoid
being jolted off. The wind fairly whistled in their ears. Through the
town they rushed, observing, as by a flash, the white, frightened face
of the station agent as he watched them go past.

"Do you think there'll be a smash-up?" asked Mark.

"I don't see how it can be avoided," replied Jack. "This track has to
come to an end somewhere. When it does, look out, that's all!"

On and on rushed the train! It's speed was now fearful, for the down
grade had increased. It was of no avail to twist the brakes, for no
strength would avail to slacken the awful speed. The boys, in common
with the brakemen, could only cling and wait in terror for what was to

The cars swayed as they went around a curve. Jack lifted his head and
peered forward.

"Hold fast!" he shouted. "We're going to strike something in a minute!"

He had looked up in time to see that the track siding came to an abrupt
end about a quarter of a mile further on, the rails stopping in a sand

Hardly had the boys time to take a tighter grip with their fingers on
the boards to which they were clinging, when the whole string of freight
cars seemed to crumple up like a collection of paper vehicles.

There was a grinding, sickening crash, a succession of heavy jolts, a
piling up of one car on top of another, a splintering of wood, a rending
of iron and steel, and then with one terrible smash, with one final
roar, the runaway freight piled itself up in a mass of shattered cars
against the sand hill, at the base of which the rails came to an end. It
was a fearful wreck.

"Hold fast!" were the last words Jack cried to his companion. His voice
sounded faint above the din.

"Where are you, Jack?" he heard Mark shout in reply.

Then all became dark, and the boys lost their senses as they were hurled
into the splintered mass of wreckage.



"For de land sakes, Perfessor, hurry up! Heah's de stupenduousness
conglomeration dat eber transcribed dis terresterial hemisphere!"
exclaimed a stout, jolly looking colored man a few seconds after the
crash of the wreck had ceased echoing.

"What is it, Washington?" asked a mild mannered elderly gentleman, with
long flowing hair and beard, who, with the negro, had been walking in a
field close to the railroad.

"I doan perzackly know, Perfessor, but it seems like there was a
discontinuation ob de transportation facilities, when some sudden
construction on de elongated tempestuousness attached to de railroad
made de cars go bump! bump! Bang! Smack! Crash!"

"Washington! Washington! When will you stop using words that don't mean
anything!" cried the old man, hurrying forward. "I presume you mean
there has been a railroad wreck?"

"That's it, Perfessor. De extenuatin' circumstances ob
transmigration - "

"That will do, Washington!" said the aged man, somewhat sternly. "You
must stop talking, and act. This is no time for foolishness. There may
be people hurt. Come along and let us see what we can do."

"Yes, sah!" replied the negro, calming down.

Then the two hurried down along the track, piled high with the debris of
the runaway freight train.

"My! My! This is a terrible wreck!" cried the old man, as the two
climbed over the mass of wreckage.

"Hi, Perfessor!" called the colored man, suddenly. "I've found

"What is it, Washington?"

"It's a boy, an' he dead!"

"Oh, that's too bad!"

"An' heah's another, an' he's dead! Dis catafterme is de most - "

"Now, Washington, remember what I told you. No big words wanted at the
present time. Where are the boys?"

"Here, Perfessor," and the negro showed the old man where Mark and Jack
were lying, close together on a pile of sand. The professor bent over
them. He felt of their hearts and listened to their breathing.

"Here!" he cried, suddenly. "They're not dead! They're only stunned!
Maybe we can save them! Hurry, Washington, and carry them to my cabin.
You take one and I will bring the other!"

"You don't need to carry any ob 'em," answered the colored man. "Dis
chile is strong 'nuff, I reckon, to tote dem two boys," and, suiting the
action to the words, he stooped down, put an arm around each of the
prostrate forms and lifted one on each shoulder. "'Bout face! Forward
march!" he cried.

With the old man following, the negro made his way along a path that led
over the fields, until he came to a long and rather narrow shed built on
the edge of the woods.

"Be sure no one is in sight before you go in!" cautioned the old man, as
he opened the door, which was fastened with several padlocks. "It would
never do to have my secret discovered now."

"Nobody in sight, master!" exclaimed the colored man, as he turned, with
the two unconscious boys on his shoulders, and gazed about "De coast am

"Then hurry inside and we will see what we can do for the poor lads. I
fear they are seriously hurt."

The negro slipped in as the old man held the door open, hurriedly
closing it afterward, and bolting it on the inside.

"Put them on my bed," went on the gray-haired man. "Then hurry back to
the wreck! There may be more people hurt, whom you can aid. Don't stop
to talk, but hurry back. I will see to the boys."

Not very willingly the negro left the shed. When he was gone, and the
door was securely fastened after him, the old man went over to where
Mark and Jack lay, both still unconscious.

"Poor lads!" sighed the old man. "I hope I can save them."

He went rapidly to work. Loosening the clothing of the boys he soon
found that no bones were broken. Then from a medicine chest he took
several bottles. In a tall glass, such as druggists use for mixing
prescriptions, he put several liquids, and stirred the whole together.
Then he moistened a little cotton in the preparation, and placed the
white stuff under the noses of the lads, holding it in place with
cloths. He had about completed this when a knock was heard at the door.

"Who is there?" he cried, starting up in alarm.

"Mr. Washington Jackson Alexander White," was the answer.

"Give the countersign!" demanded the old man, sternly, making no move to
undo the bolts that held the door tight.

"De North Pole, an' long may it stand!" was the rather odd reply.

"Right! Enter!" said the professor, opening the door to give admittance
to the colored man.

"Did you find any more victims of the wreck?" asked the old man.

"No, sah; Mr. Perfessor Amos Henderson, I did not," answered Washington.

"Just plain Professor will do," said Amos Henderson, quietly. "You
needn't give my full name every time."

"All right, Perfessor," went on the colored man. "I didn't find no mo'
pussons entangled in the distribution of debris. Dere was a lot ob
railroad men dere, but dey wasn't hurted. Dey was lookin' fer two boys
what was ridin' on de train when it went kersmash."

"I hope you didn't say anything about these lads, Washington."

"Not one single disjointed word, Perfessor. Dis chile knows when to
persecute de essence ob quietude an' silence."

"There you go again! How many times have I told you not to try and use
big words, Washington? Use simple language. I take it you mean there
were no others injured in the wreck?"


"It is a miracle how these boys escaped instant death," the old man went

"I reckon as how it were owin' to de fack dat dey struck in a bank ob
soft sand dat concussioned de fall," explained Washington.

"You mean the soft sand saved them?"

"Dat's de correctness ob it."

"I think you are right," the old man continued, as he fastened the door
securely. "The shock of the sudden stopping of the runaway train, as it
reached the end of the siding and crashed into the bank, probably threw
the lads up in the air, and they came down in the sliding sand where we
found them. Otherwise they would surely have been killed. As it is they
have had severe shocks."

"Are dey goin' to die, Perfessor?"

"I hope not, Washington, but I must see to them."

Amos Henderson went over to the bed on which the two boys were stretched
out, each with the piece of cotton soaked in the preparation over his
mouth and nose.

"I am using a very powerful remedy," the old man muttered. "If they are
not too badly hurt they will recover. Ah, yes, there is a little color
in their pale cheeks."

He bent over the boys. As he had said, Jack's face was tinged with a
light pink, and Mark's eye-lids were moving slightly.

"They are coming around all right," exclaimed the aged professor.
"Hurry, Washington, and get some hot beef broth ready. Put the kettle on
to boil and make some strong tea. They will want something to eat

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Online LibraryRoy RockwoodThrough the Air to the North Pole or The Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch → online text (page 1 of 11)