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A Lost Hero
written by "Merrill, Frank T. (Frank Thayer), 1848-"
...he was so strong he cost two[69] thousand dollars. He's going to see his daughter in Branchville. She's dying. He's so poor he had to walk from Charleston all the way. He saved the train. You just look and you'll find him." A mighty shock drowned the boy's words at this moment, and seemed to jeer at them. The people huddled together, and looked into each others' appalled faces, and no man said a word. Instinctively they ranged themselves into a mass, as if united humanity could defy aroused and raging Nature,—then broke, and ran for their homes, and wives and babes, and whatever fate had left to them. [71] V. BUT where is the hero? Who saved the train? Summerville, to this day, goes seeking him, and her search is a vain thing. Will he not break his long, mysterious silence? Will he not come forth to take the blessing of the grateful people? An obscure old Negro, poor, hungry, and homeless, will he not accept the proffered reward? Where is the hero? Like Moses of old, hath God buried him? The earth knows, which yawned beside the track—and closed again—when the crushing wheels struck the life from the unknown savior of the[72] excursion train. The earth knows; but she keeps her secret. Her awful lips are dumb. "HAD THE CURIOSITY TO PICK UP THE RAGS." [73] Some weeks after the shock of August 31, a section hand, setting a sleeper, found an old bundle, soiled and wet, tied to a stick and mouldering in the ground. He opened it carelessly, and threw it away, and hardly thought to mention it to his overseer, who had the curiosity to pick up the rags and examine them. A handkerchief, once red, with polka spots, contained a ragged flannel shirt and a stocking-heel tied with a piece of tape. That was all. This stocking-heel, evidently the wallet of some poor traveller, held one silver piece of the value of ten cents, two coppers, and a newspaper clipping, old and fade...

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