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THE 9.10 DOWN EXPRESS
by
John Haworth

'Twas a terrible night,
With thunder crashes, and blinding flashes
Of vivid light.
Torrents of rain - as stormy, I ween
As the eye of man has ever seen,
In a storm so fierce it could not last long.
Louder and louder the wild wind blew,
It was just 9.10 - the express was due.
And the tempest gathered its mighty strength,
And hurled it against the bridge's length.
A piercing shriek, a wrenching creak,
And the bridge was thrown with a heavy groan,
In the fearful depths below.

At the station the porters heard the fall,
And a thousand terrors their hearts enthral.
As louder and louder the storm wind blew,
For the 9.10 down express was due.
And something must be done, and quickly too,
"We must stop the train," said porter Joe.
"I'll take the lamp and upward go."
And off he set at a madman's pace,
With the storm fast beating in his face.
And he did his Best in that fearful race,
With the terrible truth on his heart engraved,
"A hundred lives to be lost or saved."

"Thank God!" breathed Joe, as he forward strode,
"Tonight the express is late.
Or I tremble to think of the awful fate,
Of the train with her living load."
On, on, with choking breath,
But holding tight, that blessed light,
Which alone could save from death.
He listened, and heard the engine's roar,
A sound that he had dreaded to hear before.
He saw her swerve round the farthest curve,
Then at headlong pace she onward came,
Down the gleaming lines like a mass of flame.
Then, to be sure that all was right,
Joe looked at his lamp - Good God! 'twas white.
And his brow grew damp, and he shook with fright.
In his anxious haste he had brought the light
Which said to the driver - "Pass on; all's right!"

What must be done? The ground had begun
Already to tremble as on the train,
Came tearing along with might and main.
It was one of those moments when men live o'er,
The years of their lives that have gone before.
No time for thought, 'twas a moment fraught,
With o'erwhelming terror that few men know.
When, in a day, the hair turns grey
And young men into old man grow.
Then quick, for dear life, Joe drew out his knife
And cut a deep wound. It freely bled.
So he took the white lamp and dyed it red.
Then over his head waved wildly the lamp that told
"Danger ahead!"
One moment more, and with deafening roar,
The train passed the man like a wild thing sped,
As the engine's whistle rose on the air.
"Thank God!" muttered Joe; and he breathed a prayer
For the driver had seen the red lamp he waved,
And the train was brought to a standstill - "Saved".
 
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