The Fireman's Story, A frightful face

"'A frightful face'? Wal, yes, yer correct;
That man on the enjine thar
Don't pack the han'somest countenance—
Every inch of it sportin' a scar;
But I tell you, pard, thar ain't money enough
Piled up in the National Banks
To buy that face, nor a single scar—
(No, I never indulges. Thanks.)
 
"Yes, Jim is an old-time engineer,
An' a better one never war knowed!
Bin a runnin' yar since the fust machine
War put on the Quincy Road;
An' thar ain't a galoot that pulls a plug
From Maine to the jumpin' off place
That knows more about the big iron hoss
Than him with the battered-up face.
 
"'Got hurt in a smash-up'? No,'twar done
In a sort o' legitimate way;
He got it a-trying to save a gal
Up yar on the road last May.
I heven't much time for to spin you the yarn,
For we pull out at two-twenty-five—
Just wait till I climb up an' toss in some coal,
So's to keep old '90' alive.
 
"Jim war pullin' the Burlin'ton passenger then,
Left Quincy a half an hour late,
An' war skimmin' along purty lively, so's not
To lay out No. 21 freight.
The '90' war more than whoopin' 'em up
An' a-quiverin' in every nerve!
When all to once Jim yelled 'Merciful God!'
As she shoved her sharp nose 'round a curve.
 
"I jumped to his side o' the cab, an' ahead
'Bout two hundred paces or so
Stood a gal on the track, her hands raised aloft,
An' her face jist as white as the snow;
It seems she war so paralyzed with the fright
That she couldn't move for'ard or back,
An' when Jim pulled the whistle she fainted an' fell
Right down in a heap on the track!
 
"I'll never forgit till the day o' my death
The look that cum over Jim's face;
He throw'd the old lever cl'r back like a shot
So's to slacken the '90's' wild pace,
Then let on the air brakes as quick as a flash,
An' out through the window he fled,
An' skinned 'long the runnin' board cla'r in front,
An' lay on the pilot ahead.
 
"Then just as we reached whar the poor creetur lay,
He grabbed a tight hold, of her arm,
An' raised her right up so's to throw her one side
Out o' reach of danger an' harm.
But somehow he slipped an' fell with his head
On the rail as he throw'd the young lass,
An' the pilot in strikin' him, ground up his face
In a frightful and horrible mass!
 
"As soon as we stopped I backed up the train
To that spot where the poor fellow lay,
An' there sot the gal with his head in her lap
An' wipin' the warm blood away.
The tears rolled in torrents right down from her eyes,
While she sobbed like her heart war all broke—
I tell you, my friend, such a sight as that 'ar
Would move the tough heart of an oak!
 
"We put Jim aboard an' ran back to town,
What for week arter week the boy lay
A-hoverin' right in the shadder o' death,
An' that gal by his bed every day.
But nursin' an' doctorin' brought him around—
Kinder snatched him right outer the grave—
His face ain't so han'some as 'twar, but his heart
Remains just as noble an' brave.

"Of course thar's a sequel—as story books say—
He fell dead in love, did this Jim;
But hadn't the heart to ax her to have
Sich a batter'd-up rooster as him.
She know'd how he felt, and last New Year's day
War the fust o' leap year as you know,
So she jist cornered Jim an' proposed on the spot,
An' you bet he didn't say no.
 
"He's building a house up thar on the hill,
An' has laid up a snug pile o' cash,
The weddin's to be on the first o' next May—
Jist a year from the day o' the smash—
The gal says he risked his dear life to save hers,
An' she'll just turn the tables about,
An' give him the life that he saved—thar's the bell.
Good day, sir, we're goin' to pull out."