Five Lessons in Love

Synopsis

Trinta, a teacher writing in 2110, looks back on four other lifetimes and her evolving relationship with Tulu.

In the Peru of the Incas, Trinta and Tulu worked together as astronomers, watching the skies so they could advise the Inca and the High Priest. Then, Tulu became pregnant with Trinta’s child, and their lives changed forever.

In Spain during the Inquisition, Trinta was a Jesuit priest and his cousin Tulu was the wife of a Grandee. They worked together to solve Trinta’s inability to respect others.

In nineteenth century America, Trinta and Tulu were officers in the Union Army and, later, surveyors for the Transcontinental Railroad. Each was responsible for the other’s finding love.

In twenty-first century America, Trinta and Tulu were employees of a great corporation. They helped each other to win love and learn responsibility.

By 2110, work was not necessary because most goods and services were provided by machines. In that lifetime Trinta and Tulu shared a body so each could experience some part of that existence. It was Trinta’s graduation from the School of Earth.


Sample Pages

Lesson Three, Part One

But, Father, I cannot go to Harvard,” I insisted. “It would be the first step into a life in the Church, and I really don’t want that.”

“Just what is it you do want to do, then?” he demanded. My father was usually calm and witty, but the business of his youngest son’s education was wearing him thin.

He continued, “It is no use telling me you don’t want to serve the Church. I have lived with you for sixteen years, and I can finally comprehend that. You have no gift for service, and you certainly have no faith!”

“Yes,” I agreed. It was hard to tell that kind man his life was not the life for me.

“I would like to go to Norwalk College and study civil engineering. I know that a Harvard education would be able to open many opportunities for me, but I would like to work on the railroad as a civil engineer,” I blurted out.

“An engineer! A dean’s son as an engineer on a railroad! What would your mother think?”

Poor Mother. Dead for ten years, and still she was asked to give her comments on my every action.

“Sir, I cannot think that Mother would want me to go into the Church. I am unsuited, and I am certain she would agree with that.”

I continued, “I do have some aptitude for mathematics, as Mr. Watson has pointed out, and I would like to be a civil engineer. I am too short-sighted to enter West Point, so this year-long course at Norwalk seems to me to be a good start.”

“Your three brothers have all entered Harvard,” he said, assuming, I guess, I had slept through the prior seven years, “and they have made plans to teach and to serve our Lord. Can’t you imagine how satisfying a life of teaching would be for you? You are certainly every bit as bright as the others. You could teach mathematics!”

“I really want to see something of the country, sir,” I admitted. “A teacher of mathematics is not of much use away from the eastern seaboard.”

“There are dangerous savages inland!” he cried. “What would your dear mother think if I were to allow you to travel to your death at the hands of Indians?”

“I cannot say, sir. It has been a long time since any Indian uprising in the States.”

“But the West, my boy!” he exclaimed. “It is entirely dangerous to travel there! I can’t allow it!”

“There are more dangerous things to consider, Father. War with the South seems to be imminent, and I doubt that even Boston could remain neutral. My brothers and I might have to march off to fight for a few months.”

He leaned back in his chair and turned his eyes upward for a moment or two. He sighed. “Many people are saying these things, that is true, even at Harvard. I, myself, cannot believe our Lord would bring this terrible war upon His people.”

“The Lord may have His hands full in trying to prevent it, in my opinion, sir.”

“Nothing is too much for our Lord, son. Remember that, and I will remember to ask Him to save you from these awful savages in the West,” he concluded.

“Yes, sir.”

I was dismissed. I had stated my case, and Father had not disagreed too long. I went off to Norwalk College, and I learned what was known, in 1858, about civil engineering.

By 1861 I was working for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in Chicago. I was an assistant surveyor, and I entirely enjoyed the life in the open spaces.

But the inevitable letter from Father arrived telling me that I was to report to the Union Army in Boston. I resigned from the railroad and I took a train to my home.

Father met me at the station. He looked older and sadder.

“Son, you were right about this terrible war. I cannot say how grieved I am that I must send all four of my sons to fight, but the law cannot be disobeyed. I pray that it will be over in a few months and that our Lord will grace the side of His Truth with an easy victory,” he moaned.

“And,” he went on, “I hope you can find a job closer to home when you return. You have seen enough of the interior of the country, I am sure, and you must long for the comforts of Boston.”

“Father, I have spent nearly every cent I have earned investing in land in Illinois. I believe our country will grow and I am certain that much money can be made by careful investments in that growth.”

Father said nothing.

The next day I went to the Town Hall to report for duty. I waited for several hours while my papers were reviewed. Perhaps, I thought, they would not want me to serve because of my poor vision. This was not the case. After a long wait in a hall filled with other men, I was called to the office of Captain Joshua Adams.

I approached the tall officer.

“Are you Jack Wiliamson?” he demanded.

“I am, sir,” I admitted.

“And you have worked with the railroads in Chicago?”

“Yes, sir. I most recently headed up a department that was in charge of surveying for a new splinter, and before that I was the foreman for a bridge-building crew.”

“So you have both survey and repair experience?”

“Yes, sir.”

Captain Adams made a few notes on the paper I had previously filled out, and he handed it back to me. “Take this to the sergeant, third door down on the left.”

“Yes, sir.”

This time there was no wait. The old sergeant was ready to see me. He looked so distinguished that I was quite in awe of him.

“Now, sir, you will report in five weeks, just after New Year’s Day, to the headquarters in Philadelphia. Here is a list of the things you will need to bring. I want especially to draw your attention, sir, to a requirement for three extra pairs of your eyeglasses. You need to have these made right away, I would expect. And you will need to provide your own sword, sir.”

“Yes, sir,” I said. “I don’t know how to use a sword, sir.”

“No, lieutenant, you are not supposed to call me sir. You should reserve that title for officers who are senior in rank to yourself. You should call me sergeant, sir.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“Here is a book, sir, which tells about the customs of the service. It will help you recognize the ranks of the various officers and men by the insignia on their uniforms. Perhaps you should study it during the next few weeks, sir. And perhaps you could find a tutor to teach you to use the sword, sir.”

“Sergeant, why am I being given a commission? I have never served in any war.”

“It is my understanding, sir, that railroading experience is very much needed by the Union Army. The Rebels will be difficult to defeat in their territory, in my opinion, because of the large distances between population centers. It is the current thinking, sir, among the leadership of the Army that the control of Rebel railroads to carry men and supplies will be extremely important. Gentlemen who report for duty with technical or administrative experience in railroading, such as yourself, sir, are being given commissions and are being ordered to a command in Philadelphia where the use of the nation’s railroads will be controlled.”

“And Captain Adams, Sergeant, will he be going to the same command?” I asked, since Captain Adams had talked like a railroad man.

“Yes, sir. With Captain Adams the situation is somewhat different. He is a West Point graduate, sir, and he served until very recently with the special group of Army surveyors, the Corps of Topographical Engineers.”

“And you, Sergeant, will you be a part of the group?” I wondered.

“No, sir. I have never served on a railroad. Until very recently, I was the head butler in a residence here in Boston,” he admitted.

“And, sir, if you have any other questions before you report for duty, I would be happy to answer them,” he concluded.

I went back to Father’s house in somewhat of a daze. I had expected to receive orders to serve with Boston’s units as a private soldier, as my three brothers had been ordered.

“Of course,” my father agreed, “the Army needs your skills. This conflict will be over in a matter of months, and transporting men and equipment will be very important. I can see that. You are in a fine position to help, with your experience.”

“Father, I feel you should not underestimate the strength of the Rebels. They are fighting on their own lands, for the most part, and that will give them much incentive. If the Army is assembling a special command for the control of railroads, the Army is starting to take this conflict seriously,” I stated. “Already the conflict has lasted over six months, since the first shots last April.”

“You have learned a great deal, today, about the war, son.”

“I have read, sir, of little else in Chicago’s newspapers since the seven states seceded last February. All the West is buzzing with the latest news received by telegraph from the east coast about this war.”

Christmas that year was not very happy. My oldest brother, Matt, was not able to leave his post in Washington, and my youngest brother, Lou, was scheduled to report for duty the next day. The atmosphere about Father’s table was glum, even though my six-month-old nephew, Peter, smiled and cooed at everyone. Pete didn’t know his father was away, and he lifted our hearts with his happy face. I was glad to know that Pete and his mother, Mary Ann, would be living with Father until Matt returned from the war.

I studied the book the sergeant had given me and I bought my sword. Father gave me a few fencing lessons, and then he found another professor at Harvard to complete my training. Right after January 1, 1862, I packed my new eyeglasses and I took the train to Philadelphia.

Early in 1862, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton handed the large job of directing our work to Colonel Daniel C. McCallum. For the few weeks after I had reported to Philadelphia and before Colonel McCallum arrived, Captain Adams and I, along with several other officers, worked on assembling a complete set of maps of known railroads, both in the Union territory and in the Confederacy. Most of the large railroads were owned by stockholders, and we received a list of railroads from the stock exchange. From this list, we developed maps showing the locations of the lines.

However, many railroads were privately owned, and we relied on the knowledge of the officers as to the locations of these lines.

Knowledge of private lines in the Confederacy was quite limited at first. Few of us had worked in the South, and we completed our maps only by taking the information about these lines that we could find in old issues of the leading southern newspapers.

The Corps of Topographical Engineers had surveyed all parts of the country prior to the start of the war, so we referred to their maps and to Captain Adams’s own knowledge.

By the time Colonel McCallum was ready to address his officers in April of 1862, we had completed a set of maps that would stand us in good stead throughout the war.

“Gentlemen,” Colonel McCallum started, “we have been assigned a huge task. We are to direct the use of the Confederate railroads during the conflict, but we have no real railroad under our command now. Our job, as I see it, is to receive information about where supplies and equipment are needed, and to deliver them as close as we can. We need to keep the lines and the cars in running order, and we need to keep our cars under own control.”

He continued, “Right now, we have under our command a seven-mile stretch of rail in Virginia. And, it is in terrible need of repairs. We will start with that, and we will take over other lines as the troops move. Captain Adams, I want you to take a party south to examine the road, and then we will requisition the men necessary to make the repairs.”

“Yes, sir. How large a party do you think will be needed, sir?”

“Captain, you will need a bridge expert, a car expert, a track expert, and an engine expert. A surveyor would probably be helpful, too. So that is from two to five gentlemen, Captain, depending on how much each one claims to know.”

So Captain Adams selected his four-man party, and I was included as the bridge expert. I volunteered to serve also as the surveyor, but Captain Adams pointed out that everyone in the party was proficient in surveying.

Colonel McCallum believed in following the military customs of address while we were at the headquarters in Philadelphia, but our life while we were scouting was informal. Lieutenants and captains were on a first-name basis in the field, and members of the small parties got to know each other well.

“Josh, does your family live in Boston?” I asked.

“My parents have a residence in Boston, Jack, but my father’s factory is in New Hampshire. Father and Mother spend most of the social season in Boston, though, and my appointment to West Point was made by the representative from Massachusetts. My father knows lots of people in Boston,” he admitted.

“What do you think you will do if we ever get out of this war?”

“Jack, your adventures in Chicago sound like fun,” he told me, “and it would certainly solve my father’s problems of what to do with his second son. My brother has always been interested in the family business, and he plans on taking over when our father dies. But I want more excitement than the woolen mill can offer.”

“I believe the country will move westward after the war, Josh, and there will be a demand for more railroads. There will be lots of adventure for you then.”

So Josh and I spent the next years talking about adventures in the West and working to make the captured railroads move needed supplies. Soon Colonel McCallum was promoted to Brigadier General and the value of the railroads was recognized among the Union commanders.

Although my command was never involved in any fighting, the casualties of the war very often saddened me. The worst moment of those years, for me, was the day I received a telegram from

Father saying that my brother Matt had died at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863. I asked for a short leave to go to Boston, and General McCallum approved my request.
Father and I walked from the railroad station to the house, a short distance we had walked many times before. Father stopped often to catch his breath, and I was able to see how discouraged he looked.

“What lesson, son, do you think our Lord wants us to learn from this terrible war?” he pleaded. “When will all this killing stop? Cousins are killing cousins, and entire towns are being left without any young men. How much longer can it go on?”

“I wish I could say, Father. I have no time to read the news about the war. I only have time to keep up with the work I do.”

“I thought for sure you could give me some encouragement, Jack. You are so close to everything in Philadelphia,” he sighed.

Many Ann greeted me tearfully, and I cried for a few moments with her. She and I walked to Matt’s grave, and I helped her select a tombstone.

Pete was still too young to understand. He giggled at me, and I helped him build a bridge with his blocks.

Before I left I talked with Father about Mary Ann and Pete. He was very concerned about their future.

“My health, Jack, is not good these days. I have not told you about this because you have enough to think about, but now that Mary Ann and Pete are with me I worry that I will not be able to provide for them.”

“Father, Mary Ann is a wonderful woman. Surely, in time, she will find another husband. Until then, she can help Mrs. Collins manage things here,” I insisted.

“You are too optimistic, son. The number of young men from Boston who have died has been far too high for Mary Ann to find another husband easily. This war has created many widows, and a widow with a young son will have a difficult time competing for the attentions of the few remaining men. And, Mary Ann is very quiet and plain. She will not be able to remarry, in my opinion. Your brother had nearly no money for her. I grieve for her more than I do for my dead son.”

“I want you to change your will, Father, to give Mary Ann and Pete my share and Matt’s share of your estate. I have done well with my investments in Illinois during the war, and I know that I will be able to live comfortably. In addition, I will send Mary Ann some money each month when the war is over. I know everything will work out for her,” I replied.

“Jack, that is very generous. Why don’t you think this over for a few months and write me a letter if you are still of a like mind. When I get your letter, I will change my will. And I will keep the letter with my will so everyone will see what our intent is.”

“Very well, Father. You will have the letter in the morning.”

I returned to my command in Philadelphia to resume our work. The Battle of Gettysburg had left too many casualties, on both sides, and I was growing sick of the senseless bloodshed.

The next year, we received our biggest assignment, to keep the troops in General Sherman’s Atlanta campaign supplied. By that time in the war, the Union Army had seized nearly every southern railroad, and we used almost every line to carry food and equipment to the many thousands of men. We supervised over 10,000 men to get the 2,000 miles of track and the 600 cars ready for the campaign. By September of 1864, General Sherman reported his expensive victory, and I started to believe the war was almost over. I got back to our headquarters in Philadelphia in November of 1964 with only one pair of eyeglasses unbroken.

So General Lee’s surrender to General Grant that next April came as no surprise to me. The Union Army had outlasted the Rebels and the excellent use of the railroads that General McCallum had envisioned had paid off.

By June of 1865, I was back in Boston for a visit. I had been discharged with a permanent rank of Captain, and I had received word from the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad that my old job was waiting for me.

Father had brightened somewhat. He was thankful that his three remaining sons had survived the war, and he was starting to delight in talking with Pete, who had just celebrated his fourth birthday.

He welcomed Captain Josh Adams into his home, and Josh talked to Father extensively about the war, as if he had been General Grant’s most trusted advisor.

Josh and I left Boston in September for Chicago, each excited about the future of the country and about our roles in building the country’s railroads.

Lesson Three, Part Two

“Jack!” Mr. Wesley, my supervisor at the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, shouted. “Thank God you are back. We are in a devil of a fix here, and you are just the man to get us rolling again!”

He went on, “It’s that damned transcontinental road that’s lured over a dozen of our people. Any fool can see that the project is doomed to fail, with the prairie to cross and hostile Indians and the uncertain situation with Congress. Why these donkeys have left a viable road, one that pays cash wages weekly, is entirely beyond my imagination!”

I was feeling quite uneasy, now, about my meeting with Mr. Wesley. I had come to resign. I had arrived in Chicago the evening before, and I, too, had been lured by the transcontinental railroad.

“Sir, I will be going to Omaha tomorrow to join a surveying crew. I am sorry about your difficulties here, but I feel I should not miss out on this opportunity,” I told him stiffly.

“Are you insane? You have a very bright future here, as you certainly know. I fully expect that in ten or twelve years you could take over my job when I advance to the job of a superintendent, and then, twenty years after that, you would be a good candidate for my job again. How can you give all that up? You must be joking!”

“I may come to regret my decision, sir, but I feel that my best opportunity is on the frontier.”

“Well, don’t come crawling back when the scheme fails!”

I spent the rest of the day making plans for the sale of my Illinois land investments, and I left Chicago that next day with Josh Adams and with enough money to start to buy more properties.

For the next three years, Josh and I worked as surveyors and as foremen for the Union Pacific Railroad.

We joined a surveying crew of fifteen men in October of 1865. We took the train from Chicago to Council Bluffs, and we crossed the Missouri River by ferry to Omaha. There we met General Grenville Dodge, the chief engineer, and he briefed us on our job.

“The task is not easy,” he began. “There are few settlements between here and the Great Salt Lake, and the various tribes of Indians sometimes are unfriendly. I have organized your crew using engineers and surveyors only, so you will have to share all other tasks.”

He unrolled a large map of the land between Chicago and San Francisco.

“The idea,” he went on, “is to meet the Central Pacific Railroad somewhere in the Utah territory or in the state of Nevada. Certainly we want to determine the route ourselves since we want to select a direct route that will be easier to build. The Central Pacific people are more interested in generating trade in the desert. Our interest is in getting passengers and freight to the West Coast as quickly as possible.

“You will start surveying in March. Until then, your crew will live together and rework a series of maps, based on information from another crew that has come back to Omaha for the winter. Then, I will decide where each crew is to begin in the spring.”

“General Dodge,” I asked, “do you have any idea now where the line will go?”

“Yes, Captain Williamson, I do. Our preliminary surveys have shown that the route by the Platte and over the southern part of the Wyoming territory will be the most direct. Your survey, next spring, will rework some of these maps. After next year’s survey, I will make my decision.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Josh and I worked that winter in Omaha with the rest of our crew on refining the maps of the Platte and the South Platte rivers through Nebraska. I made extensive notes about the differences between the old maps and the new maps, and I organized these notes so I could access them easily on our survey expedition. I hoped to reconcile the differences with my own observations and measurements.

Our pay from the Union Pacific was one hundred dollars per month. Of course, this figure is not easy to understand now, but that salary enabled me to pay my living expenses and to add about fifty dollars each month to my real estate investments. I decided that Council Bluffs would be a place where land investments would appreciate, so I bought several small properties there, close to the end of the railroad line.

Josh did not believe in my investment plans. Of course, his family was quite wealthy and he knew he would inherit a substantial amount of money, so he spent his extra pay in his favorite saloon in Omaha. He took quite an interest in a young woman who worked there, and he often encouraged me to join him on his nightly outings.

“Jack, you are never going to find any fun staying in your rooming house. Come and meet Nancy and her friend Maude. They know things to teach you, I’m sure,” he said as he slapped me on the back.

“I’ll come later in the month, maybe, Josh. Why don’t you come over to my rooming house tonight instead? Mrs. Wagner’s daughter Helen pays the piano in the evenings, and we sing. One of the schoolteachers lives there, and he plays a fine game of chess. And Mrs. Wagner usually cooks a stew on Wednesdays and she would appreciate another paying guest for supper,” I said halfheartedly.

“I can’t disappoint Nancy, Jack. She might decide to take a fancy to some other gentleman.”

So we remained good friends but we saw little of each other that first winter except during the workdays. I spent my time reading anything I could find about the past surveys of the areas along the Platte, and I made lists of places to look for land purchases. By the time the winter was over, all my Illinois properties had sold and I had enough cash for more investments.

In March General Dodge gave us our orders to survey the South Platte River, from the point where it separated from the North Platte to the point where it turned south just east of the mountain ranges. We drew the supplies necessary, we packed our mules and horses, and we rode west.

We saw few Indians on that trip, but we were prepared with great quantities of whiskey to negotiate for their friendship. We were each armed with a rifle, but we never had to fire except to find food.

We moved our camp once every two weeks. We pitched our tents, set up our kitchen along the bank of the river, and surveyed the surrounding area. We took observations of longitude and latitude, and we took meteorological readings to establish altitude. I was especially interested in observing the moons of the planet Jupiter, and I used the tables developed nearly two centuries before to establish longitude by the Jovian satellites. It was an exacting work, but I liked looking through our telescopes at the night sky. In May and June, Jupiter was easily visible in the evening, and I made many readings.

Housekeeping was the worst problem for the survey crew. Nobody in the party knew much about cooking, but we were certainly forced to learn quickly. I developed a reputation as a terrible cook, and, by general acclamation, I was usually assigned to clean the kitchen tent after meals. Josh seemed to adapt better to this kind of work, so he did most of the cooking and very little else.

At night we played chess and card games by the light from oil lamps. We tried to organize a glee club, but the quality of the singing caused us to abandon that idea. I missed the evenings with Helen at the piano, and, by the end of August, I was ready to start back to Omaha.

We arrived in Omaha by the end of October, and Mrs. Wagner had a vacant room for me. I had firmed up my ideas about where to buy additional properties, and I negotiated for the parcels I could afford.
Josh went back to his saloon every evening for awhile, but one evening early in January of 1867 he agreed to take his supper with Mrs. Wagner.

Somehow, during that summer of 1866, Helen had grown up. She was a very attractive young lady and young men were starting to call on her at Mrs. Wagner’s house. When Josh saw Helen that first evening, he lost his heart. Mrs. Wagner was worried when she learned that Josh was twelve years older than her daughter, but Josh talked about his expected inheritance and overcame her fears. So Josh visited Mrs. Wagner’s rooming house often that winter and, by March of 1867, he and Helen were engaged. I must also report that Josh saw a good deal of his friend Nancy at the saloon during those months, but I never could bring myself to tell Mrs. Wagner about that.

General Dodge wanted one final summer of survey work, so, in March of 1867, we set out to survey the area to the northeast of the Great Salt Lake.

We traveled on the work train with our horses and mules to the end of the competed line, around Platte, Nebraska, and we rode further on horseback, following the proposed route through Wyoming. I continued to look at the land around the train line and I decided, on that trip, to buy as much land as I could near Cheyenne.

General Dodge had asked me to take more longitude readings during the trip over the mountains, so I watched the night sky for the large planet Jupiter.

Josh missed Helen and Nancy, but his duties as the head cook occupied all his time after we left the work train. He was happy knowing that Helen was planning for their wedding.

During our survey trip of 1867, we lost two of the crew to Indians. The two men had wandered off from our camp and, when they had not returned by the second day, a search party was organized. We found them, scalped, a mile from our tents. None of the rest of us had seen the Indians. That was our only incident with Indians during that trip.

Much of the Utah territory was flat and easy to survey. I decided that the land would not be easily usable for either farming or grazing, so I did not make any investments there.

We completed our survey to the Nevada state line and then we returned to Omaha, retracing our path over the proposed track line. In Cheyenne, I bought ten lots in the center of town, at a price of $150 each. I used some savings from my salary as well as the profits from the Illinois land.

In Omaha Mrs. Wagner and Helen were ready for our arrival. Two weeks later Josh was a nervous bridegroom and I was a nervous best man.

I had found a pre-Columbian piece of Inca pottery at a museum sale during a trip to Chicago, and I was pleased to have such a distinctive gift to give to Josh.

A few days after the wedding, Josh talked to me about the joys of married life.

“You ought to get yourself a lady friend, Jack,” he insisted. “It’s good on these cold nights to have a warm bedfellow, and it’s good to have somebody to work hard for, too.”

“I’ve plenty of time for a lady friend after we finish building this railroad,” I countered. “Maybe then my investments will be worth something and I will have some security to offer to a lady. I don’t expect to inherit anything, you know.”

The next spring General Dodge asked me to head up a crew that was building a difficult bridge near Rawlins, Wyoming. Josh was assigned to a different crew, so we spent the summer apart.

By March of 1868 people all over the country were starting to believe that the transcontinental railroad would soon be a reality. General Dodge and the Casement brothers, the chiefs of the track-laying operation, had organized an efficient work force, and track was being laid faster than anyone in Congress could believe possible. So my investments started to appreciate.

The more I saw of the land around Cheyenne, the more convinced I became of its value. I sold most of my holdings in Council Bluffs and, on the way to Rawlins, I bought more property in Cheyenne.

“I’m here to buy whatever you have available, Mr. Talpey,” I announced to the land agent.

“Captain, it’s good to see an old customer, but I don’t have any more city lots to sell. Those ten lots you bought last year are going for over two thousand dollars each now, if you want to sell. If I were you, though, I’d hold onto them until the line actually starts operating.”

I was amazed. I was holding real estate worth twenty thousand dollars!

“Is there any land around the city for sale?” I asked.

“Plenty of ranches, but nothing in town,” he replied.

So I bought a small ranch with my investment money and I promised Mr. Talpey I would be back in the fall to buy more.

By the time the bridge was finished and I was on my way back to Omaha, my ranch had nearly doubled in value and the city lots were selling for about twenty-five hundred dollars each. I bought another small ranch and I told the land agent my plans.

“What I want to do, Mr. Talpey, is to sell all these holdings by early next summer and to buy one large ranch with the proceeds. It looks like the railroad will be completed early in the spring, and then I will be free to look for my home.”

“What I can do, Captain, is to assume these lots are for sale now,” he told me. “Then, if a good deal comes along, we can sell right away. But I know them lots will be worth more when the train comes through.”

“Fine. I’ll give you a power of attorney for the lots and for the small ranches, and you get the best price you can for me,” I concluded.

By October of 1868, Helen and Josh were expecting their first child. Mrs. Wagner was delighted but she was certain the baby would come while Josh was away with a crew.

Josh was not sure. He told her, “Mother, I could resign my job in order to stay here, but I really feel I should stick with General Dodge until the road is complete. I’ll just be in the way around here, anyway. You and Helen don’t need me to help with this baby, I’m certain.”

I knew Helen and Josh lived entirely on his pay from the railroad. No extra money came from home, but he expected that a large settlement would be made when his father died. He really couldn’t afford to quit his job, especially with a baby on the way.

The spring of 1869 brought assurance that the line was almost ready. Track was laid into the Utah territory and the Central Pacific, the California line the Union Pacific was to meet, was complete over most of Nevada. General Dodge was anxious that the Union Pacific build the line around the Great Salt Lake because his northern route would be considerably shorter than the one proposed by the four businessmen who owned the Central Pacific.

General Dodge sent Josh and me to help with the last tracklaying. We took the work train through Wyoming and into Utah. Josh served as the cook for one crew and I worked as a grader for another. By the time the track was laid to Promontory Point, the Central Pacific was there to meet us.

Josh and I attended the ceremony when the railroads were joined with the Golden Spike, and then we made our plans to go back to Omaha.

Mr. Talpey was ready to show me several large ranches near Cheyenne. I spent three days going with him and Josh to various parcels, and finally I fell in love with a three-thousand-acre spread.

“Well, Captain, the owners ain’t ready to leave yet. Another month, I suspect, and we can sign the papers. All your other property has sold, and this price will give you about five thousand left over,” Mr. Talpey stated. “Why don’t you see something of the countryside for a month, and then you can come home to Wyoming.”

Instead, Josh and I rode the train into Omaha. We both were anxious to see Josh’s new daughter, and Josh was anxious to see Helen and Nancy.

When we arrived at the house, Mrs. Wagner was waiting for us.

“Jack,” she said, “a telegram came just yesterday for you from the East. I knew you was expected back today, so I held it here.”

The telegram was from my brother Mark. Father had passed away in his sleep the previous night, and Mark asked me to leave immediately for Boston.

I packed my valise and I bought my train ticket. Josh agreed to go back to Cheyenne to finalize the papers on the ranch for me, so I gave him my power of attorney and I boarded the train for Boston.


 
 
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