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Newspaper Page Text
AFTER THE WRECK
Jim Driscoll found himself upon his
'eet, staring at thewrejck of the train
n which he had been traveling. All
ibout him lay the dead and injured,
ind the carriages, -which were begui
ling to catch fire, illumined the night
with a lurid glare.
It was in- the middle of the moun
tain district of Pennsylvania Dris
loll had left his little town in Illinois
;o go to New York. It was his first
lourney in ten years. A discovery of
oil upon his property had given him
the promise of wealth, and he had set
out to negotiate with a company. -
Jim Driscoll, at fifty, was reputed
the crabbedest old man in Boxvilie.
If Mary and he had had children he
might have discovered that life is not
wholly a vale of tears. As it was, he
was a town character. He knew it,
too; knew that Mary shrank from
Mm and feared him, though loyalty
kept her to him; knew that his pres
ence anywhere chilled the miAh, that
the children hated him, that his
neighbors avoided him.
He gloried in it. He had the repu
tation of a vindictive man, and he
gloried in that. He was close-fisted,
hard as nails, and he hugged his sin
ister reputation to his heart.
The wreck had come suddenly. It
had unsettled him. Of course, he
was net going to interest himself in
any of the injured. That was not
Driscoll's way. But the physical
shakeup had unsettled the habits of
years, and for the first time in years
Driscoll began to take stock of him
self. His thoughts were changed by
hearing a child's cry at his side.
Stooping down, he saw a pretty little
girl of eight or nine years, lying be
side the track Near her lay the body
of a man. He had been killed in the
disaster, and the girl, who seemed
only slightly injured, was stretching
out her arms to him and sobbing.
Beneath his hard exterior Driscoll
had a heart tender in one xespect.
He loved children. That was why he
scowled at them, to hide his feelings.
If Mary and he could have had a
child like that!
He spoke gruffly to the 'little girl,
but she did not seem to notice his
presence. And at last, with a shrug
of the shoulders, Driscoll turned his
back on her.
He started away not in the direc
tion of New York, however, but back
Opened His Eyes and Stared into His
toward his home. A new idea had
come to him. He would pretend that
he had been killed in the wreck, and
return home secretly, to discover
what people were saying about him.
He anticipated the jeers, the scoffing
and congratulations, and his own
triumph when he suddenly appeared
in the midst of them.
The news of the disaster had
spread rapidly, and, five miles down
the line, Driscoll passed a wrecking
train, with a medical car attached.