The Illustrious Prince HTML version

2. The End Of The Journey
Southward, with low funnel belching forth fire and smoke into the blackness of the night,
the huge engine, with its solitary saloon carriage and guard's brake, thundered its way
through the night towards the great metropolis. Across the desolate plain, stripped bare of
all vegetation, and made hideous forever by the growth of a mighty industry, where the
furnace fires reddened the sky, and only the unbroken line of ceaseless lights showed
where town dwindled into village and suburbs led back again into town. An ugly, thickly
populated neighborhood, whose area of twinkling lights seemed to reach almost to the
murky skies; hideous, indeed by day, not altogether devoid now of a certain weird
attractiveness by reason of low-hung stars. On, through many tunnels into the black
country itself, where the furnace fires burned oftener, but the signs of habitation were
fewer. Down the great iron way the huge locomotive rushed onward, leaping and
bounding across the maze of metals, tearing past the dazzling signal lights, through
crowded stations where its passing was like the roar of some earth-shaking monster. The
station-master at Crewe unhooked his telephone receiver and rang up Liverpool.
"What about this special?" he demanded.
"Passenger brought off from the Lusitania in a private tug. Orders are to let her through
all the way to London."
"I know all about that," the station-master grumbled. "I have three locals on my hands
already,--been held up for half an hour. Old Glynn, the director's, in one of them too.
Might be General Manager to hear him swear."
"Is she signalled yet?" Liverpool asked.
"Just gone through at sixty miles an hour," was the reply. "She made our old wooden
sheds shake, I can tell you. Who's driving her?"
"Jim Poynton," Liverpool answered. "The guvnor took him off the mail specially."
"What's the fellow's name on board, anyhow?" Crewe asked. "Is it a millionaire from the
other side, trying to make records, or a member of our bloated aristocracy?"
"The name's Fynes, or something like it," was the reply. "He didn't look much like a
millionaire. Came into the office carrying a small handbag and asked for a special to
London. Guvnor told him it would take two hours and cost a hundred and eighty pounds.
Told him he'd better wait for the mail. He produced a note from some one or other, and
you should have seen the old man bustle round. We started him off in twenty minutes."
The station-master at Crewe was interested. He knew very well that it is not the easiest
thing in the world to bring influence to bear upon a great railway company.