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About The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. (North Platte, Neb.) 1895-1922 | View Entire Issue (April 13, 1917)
THE 8EMI-WEEKLY TRIBUNE, NORTH PLATTE, NEBRA8KA.
WEB OF STEEL
By CYRUS TOWN5END BRADY and CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY, Jr.
Author and Clcrtfyman Civil Engineer
This Is a Thrilling Story
of American Life as Strong,
Courageous Men Live It
Copyright by Fleming" H. Revell Co.
YOUNG BERTRAM MEADE LEARNS IN A FRIGHTFUL EX
PERIENCE JUST HOW MUCH HELEN ILLING
WORTH MEANS TO HIM
The Mnrtlct Construction Company Is building n grcnt lnternn
tlonnl bridge planned by IJertnun Monde, Sr., n famous engineer. Ills
eon, Ilertrnin Monde, Jr., resident engineer nt the bridge, Is In lovo
with Helen llllngworth, daughter of Colonel llllngworth, president of
the compnny. Young Monde questioned his father's Judgment on the.
strength of certain ImpOrtnnt steel beams In the gigantic structuro
but was laughed to scorn. Ho still hns private doubts, though out
wardly agreeing with his elder.
CHAPTER II Continued.
r In splto of herself the woman looked
"But now?" fiho whispered ns he hes
itated, and then sho turned her heud
balf fearful of hlB answer.
"I am almost nfrald to say It," ho
Raid, lowering his volco to match her
"A soldier of steel," slio Bald, "and
"Well, then, nil that was tho second
Sow takes tho third place."
And before your father comes?"
Rut she did not give him tlmo to an
swer. "Come," sho snld, "lot us go out
bn tho bridge."
"It's a rough plnco for you. Thoso
littlo slippers you wear "
Ho looked down, and ns If In obodl
knee to his glance sho outthrust her
foot from her gown. It was not tho
Bni allcst foot that over upboro n worn
fcn. Quito tho contrary. Which Is not
teaylng It was too large, not at all. It
was Just right for her height and fig
lire, and Its shnpo and shoo left noth
ing to be desired.
"Nover mind tho slippers," sho snld;
"they aro stronger thun they look.
"Hut tho dlstanco between hero and
Sho brldgo Is Inches deep In dust."
"Dust I" sho cxclnlmcd In dlsmny.
I don't mind rough walking, but
"I nover thought of that," admitted
tbo man. "Tho fact Is I havo thought
lot nothing but you slnco I saw you,
but now wo'll havo to go back or "
"I shall not go back," sho uuswered
IIo stepped down oft tho plntform,
fend beforo she know what ho would bo
fet, ho lifted her straight up In his
terms. IIo did not carry her Uko n
baby, ho held hor erect, crushed
hgnlnst his breast, and beforo sho hud
tlmo to utter n protest, or oven to suy
h word, ho started through tho dusty
roadway toward tho bridgehead.
It was a strango position. Sho know
sho ought to protest, but tho words
Svould not come. Whilst sho was try
ing to think them up, they had crossed
tho Httlo desert that Intervened be
tween tho portal of tho brldgo and tho
fcnfl of tho platform. Then ho sot her
"Thank you," sho snld simply, "that
wns vory nlco of you. You aro won
Tho moon, by this time, had passed
tho lloor level and tho cross-bracing
cast n network of shadows over them,
upon trnck nnd lloor beams and string-
tors. Tho silence of tho hnlMlght, tho
mystery of it nil oppressed them a
iittlo. It was with boating hearts that
they pressed on,
Fall and Revelation.
"It's rathor confused In hero," snld
iho man, "hut wo will soon got out
toward tho end aud then tho view Is
magnificent. You can seo up and down
the river for miles nnd tho night boat
frill bo along iu a fow minutes."
lmvi uini lie nsucu tno woman,
pointing up tho rlvor to whore a clus
ter of lights rounded a hugo bend not
Jar away, and swung out In inldstreum.
"Yes," snld tho ninn, "If wo llHten I
Uhlnk wo can hear hor."
They both stopped and, suro enough,
Faintly across the wator came tho
tiolso of clanking puddles of tho big
river Btcamor. With that sound also
mingled tho song of tho night wind,
for n wonder comparatively gontlo,
making Btrungo, weird hurmoules ns It
Hlftcd through tho taut and rigid bars
of steel. Sho listened ouchunted with
Tho big lloor beams extended from
toe sldo to tho other of tho brldgo,
between tho trusses at Intervals of
fifty feet. At right angles to them aud
Glx feet apart, tho stringers ran length-
vrays parallel to tho trusses. Hero and
there pieces of Umber fulsowork had
been thrown across tho stringers for
tho convenience of tho workmen, but
ha thoso two slowly moved toward mid-
irtream nt Inst theso pieces becamo
fewer, and dually thoro was nothing
to bo scon but the heavy lloor beams
land tho lighter stringers.
After Uiey passed tho top of tho pier
Rnd got beyond tho small Bpaco of
Iver bank on which tho pier was set,
there was nothing between them and
tfeo water, now moonlit nnd quivering,
except theso cross-girders of steel on
Mther hand beyond tho planking la tho
"Have you a clear head?" asked tho
man. "I mean docs it nircct you to
bo on high elevations? Do you get
"I never have," was tho answer,
"I think I'll hold you," was tho reply.
lie grasped her firmly by tho nrm.
Tho loose wrap sho was wearing over
her shoulders did not cover her arms,
and it was a baro arm that ho took In
"I beg your pnrdon," ho snld quick
"It doesn't matter. I understand.
You would better hold me, I might
slip." There was something electric
and compelling In tho pressure of his
strong hand upon tho firm llesh of her
round nrm. Sho shrank closer to him,
ngaln unthinkingly, by a natural Impulse.
Tho moon wns now well clear of tho
brow of tho highest hill. Its yellow
was turning to silver and In Its cold
and beautiful Illumination tho wholo
river flowed bright beneath them. Ev
ery Inch of tho brldgo wns now clearly
rovcaled In tho white, passionless light
Fifty feet nwny It ended In tho air.
They wcro now almost directly be
neath tho traveler, near tho end of tho
suspended span. Its hugo legs sprawled
out Uko those of a gigantic nnlmal on
tho extreme edges of tho brldgo on ei
ther sldo nbovo their heads. Tho wood
en plntform on tho trnck ran out half
tho dlstanco to tho brldgo end. Slowly
tho two walked along It until but n
few feet wcro left between them and
tho naked floor beams and tho string
ors carrying tho ties to which tho rails
wcro bolted and tho plunks laid.
By tho sldo of tho track on tho top
of the stringers had been plnccd a .pile
of material surmounted by u largo flat
plato of steel, which lay level upon it
It was triangular In Rhnpo, tho blunt
point inward. Tho baso which was
about six feet wldo paralleled tho
course of tho river. Tho plato on tho
top of tho pllo was raised about thrco
feet abovo tho lcvol of tho track. They
stopped abreast of it
"Can't wo go any further?" asked
tho girl In low tones, still closo to tho
young man, who still lightly clasped
"I'm afraid It wouldn't bo snfo to
go any farther," ho said.
"I want to seo tho stenmer. It will
pass directly under tho bridge."
"They have no business to pass un
dor tho brldgo," said Mcado. "They'vo
boon warned hundreds of times nnd or
ders havo been Issued. Thcro Is al
ways danger Uiat something might
"Why can't I stand up there?"
"On that gusset plato?"
"Is that what you call It?"
"Yes, It bears tho sanio relation to
structural steel that a gusset docs to
a wpman's dress."
"Exactly. Hut can't I stand on It?'
"Wnlt." ho answored.
IIo climbed to tho center of It, llftutl
himself up and down on his feet to test
It, and found It solid apparently.
"I think so, but I shall havo to put
you up," ho said nt Inst as ho lifted
hor up and sot hor down on her feet In
tho middle of tho plato of steel.
"Oh, thero comes tho steamer," sho
cried. "I can seo It benutlfully from
"Ho careful. You must not move.
Stand perfectly steady. I am not so
suro of that plato." IIo reached over
from whero ho stood on tho trnck bo
low hor and by her sldo and gutherod
the material of her dross In an Iron
"I do not think that Is necessary,"
sho said. "This plato seems ns solid as
tho rest of tho brldgo and oh, thero'a
tho steamer I She's right under us."
Tho big river craft was filled with
light and laughter. Tho wind fortu
nately blow tho Binoko awny from tho'
brldgo so that they had n clear and
perfect view of hor, Thoro wns a band
playing aboard her. They hoard tho
music abovo tho boat of tbo whirling
paddles, tho song of tho rising wind.
Tho passengers wcro congregated
about thu rails on tho upper decks
staring upward. Tho brldgo was as
fascinating to them as It wus to tho
people nBlioro evidently.
"How Interesting," said tho delight
ed girl. "Why don't you come up horo
yourself, you can boo so much better?"
Tho man had dropped her gown, lift
ed his right foot to the pllo on tho
stringers to follow her suggestion.
Thoughtlessly sho stepped toward tho
outer end to glvo him room, qulto for
getful of his cnutlon. Beforo ho could
complete his step or warn her of tho
danger, It now bent forwnrd. It tilted
distinctly. In spite of herself, Helen
Illlngworfh wns carried still farther
forwnrd us she sought to regain her
balance. Tho pleco of steel began to
slip downward, grating on tho pllo of
beams as It moved; another second
nnd It would bo off nnd on Its wny Ir
Meade threw himself at tho girl. IIo
lunged out nnd caught her Just as she
was slipping downward with tho plato
now almost perpendicular. To catch
her he hnd to step to the very edge of
tho planking beyond which tho rails
ran naked on tho tics.
With a tremendous effort ho caught
her by tho waist, swung her up and In,
and stood fast on tho brink quivering,
henvlng himself despcrntcly backward
as he sought to maintain his balnnco
nnd take the bnckward step that meant
A wild shout roso from tho steamer
ns tho hugo plato dropped, like the
blade of a mighty guillotine, straight
down through tho air. If it had struck
tho boat, It would have cut through
liko n knife. Fortunately It cleared
tho gangwny by Inches. In n second
It hnd disappeared. Screams, shouts,
arose from tho boat which promptly
sheered off Into midstream.
Ilelcn IUIngworth's bnck had been
toward Meade as ho seized her. Sho
had seen ns ho had everything that
happened. Recovering himself at Inst,
ho stepped back slowly, almost drag
ging her, until they wore u snfo dls
tanco from tho edge. Ills face was
ghastly white In tho moonlight. Sweat
covered his forehead. IIo was shaking
llko n wind-blown leaf.
"Tho wholo world went blnck when
snw you go," ho said slowly.
"Do you caro that much?" nsked tho
girl, trembling herself.
Thcro was no necessity for maidenly
"Care?" said tho man. "Caro?"
"I'm all right now."
"You nro more fortunnto than I. I
stood to loso you, you stood to loso
only life. Don't you see? Can't you
Suddenly ho swept her to his breast
ns this tlmo sho faced him. Sho wns
very near him and sho did not mnko
tho slightest resistance. Sho had wait
ed for this hour and sho wns glad.
They had faced death too nearly for
nny hesitation now. Sho know ho
loved her, and know that ho had
saved her at tho Imminent risk of his
own life. Thero hnd been swift yet
eternal moments when It seemed that
both of them, trembling on tho brink,
would follow tho downward rush of
tho gusset plato. Now as he strained
her to him, sho lifted her fnco to him,
glad that sho was tall enough for him
to kiss her with so slight n bend of
There, under tho grcnt trusses of
steel, amid tho hugo, gaunt, mnsslve
ovldences of tho power of tho might,
of tho mastery of man, two hearts
spoko to each other In tho silence, nnd
told tho story thnt was old beforo tho
first smelter had ever turned tho first
oro Into tho first bit of Iron, beforo
Tubnl Cain ever smote tho anvil j tho
story of lovo that began with creation,
thnt will outlast nil tho Iron In nil tho
hills of tho earth that Is ns eternal
as It Is divine I
After that wild embrace, that first
rapturous meeting of Hps, ho released
He Lunged Out and Caught Her.
her slightly, though ho still held her
closely aud she was qulto content.
"I'm qulto calm now," ho began,
"thnt Is, I am as composed as any man
could bo who Is holding you in his
arms. Hut If It hnd not been for me,
you would never havo been In danger.
It was my fault. I should havo made
suro. I Bhnll never forglvo mysolf."
"Hut If I had not been In danger I
might not now bo hero In your arms.
And If I were not here," sho went on
swiftly, too happy In her lovo to bo
mindful of anything else, "I certainly
would not bo doing this."
And of her own motion sho kissed
him In the moonlight.
"And If you were not doing this,"
snld ho, making the proper return, "I
might not havo had tho courngo to tell
"You haven't told mo anything In
words," sho answered, fain to hear
from his Hps what sho well know from
the beating of his heart.
"It's not too late then to tell you
that I lovo you, that I am yours. To
glvo myself to you seems to bo the
highest possibility In life, If you will
only take me."
"And do you lovo mo more than tho
"More than nil tiro bridges In tho
world, past, present and to como; more
than anything or anybody. I tell you
I never knew what lovo was or what
life was until I saw you sliding to your
death. If I had not succeeded I should
havo followed you."
"I felt that, too," sho answered
"Wo must go back, dearest," he said
at last, "I am so fearful for you even
now thnt I am almost unwilling to try
It. Every time I glnnco down through
theso Interspaces between tho string
ers my blood runs cold."
You supported me before; I will
support you now," laughed the woman,
"No," said tho mnn, '"wo will go to
They turned toward tho shore. IIo
took her hand nnd slipped his other
arm about her Just as simply nnd nnt
urally as If they had been any humblo
lover and his lass In tho countryside,
By nnd by they got to tho end of tho
bridge. Far down tho plntform they
could see the lights of tho car.
"Listen," she said ns they walked
slowly along. "You must not tell fa
ther anything about this littlo accl
"I obey, but why not?"
"It would only worry him, nnd It
was my fault."
"I will not hear you say It."
"But I must speak to your father
"And tho sooner tho better; he Is In
good humor with you and tho brldgo
now. I havo heard him speak well of
you. I believe ho will bo glad to give
mo to you."
"And If not?"
"I should hnto to grieve my father,
She turned and looked nt him In tho
moonlight, her glorious golden head,
her neck, hor shoulders, her arms baro
and beautiful In the celestial Illumi
nation. Ho seized her hand and lifted
It to his Hps as a devotee, and she un
derstood tho reason for tho littlo touch
of old-world formality and reserve,
when naught but his will prevented
him from tnklng her to his heart and
mnklng her Hps, her eyes, her face, his
"Now mny God denl with mo as I
deal with you," ho said fervently, "if I
over fnll at least to try with all my
heart nnd soul nnd strength to measure
up to your sweetness and light."
"My prayer for myself, too," sho
"You need It not"
"You must wait here," sho said,
deeply touched, ns thoy had now
reached tho steps of tho car, "until I
havo chnnged my dress; father would
notlco nnybody would that tear.
When I havo finished I will como back
to you and then wo will seek him and
Accordingly Meade stood obediently
waiting outsldo tho car In tho shadow
It cast Thero was no ono about. Tho
servants had gone to bed. Tho porter
of tho car was nodding in his quarters,
waiting for tho tlmo to turn out tho
lights. Tho engineer had tho long
platform nil to himself. After n tlmo
ho choso to walk quietly up and down,
thinking. Tho futuro looked very fair
"Bert," a sweet volco enmo to him
out of tho darkness. Do turned to dls
cover her standing In tho door of tho
enr dressed as sho should havo been
for such an excursion had sho nt first
followed hor father's wlso suggestion.
Ills heart thrilled to tho uso of tho fa
miliar name. "Bert, I'm coming down
Iland In hand thoy walked to tho
rear of tho car, whero tho observation
Dlatform wns still brightly lighted. Ab
bott had gono nnd tho other thrco men
wcro on their feet They woro about
to separate for tho night, although It
was still rather early.
"Father." said his daughter out of
"Oh, you'ro thoro," answered tho
colonel. "I wondered when you wcro
coming bnck. I was Just thinking of
going to fetch you. Is Mr. Meade ?"
"I'm here, sir."
"Good night, gentlemen," said tho
colonel ns tho others turned uwny
leaving him nlono on tho platform.
IIo came to tho edgo and leaned over
tho brass railing.
"Aro you two going to mnko n night
of It?" ho asked Jocosely.
"Colonel llllngworth," began Mende,
"Father," snld his daughter at tho
same time, "wo have something to Bay
J to you."
Colonel llllngworth opened tho gate,
lifted tho platform, nnd descended the
"Hero I am," he said ns he stopped
by the two.
His dnughter took him by the nrm
and they walked down tho platform so
as to bo out of any possible hearing
from the car.
"Now," sho snld to Meade, who fol
His heart was beating almost as rap-
Idly as It had on the bridge, nnd for
exactly the same reason fear of los
ing her. Ho tried to speak.
"Well, young man?" said Uling-
worth, flicking the ashes from his cigar
and wishing to get It over, "you said
you hnd something to say to me."
"It's n very hard thing to say, sir."
no looked helplessly at tho girl, but
sho wns speechless. It was his tnsk,
If sho wero not worth asking for, sho
was not worth having, sho might havo
said. "Well, sir," he began desperate
ly. "I lovo your daughter, Helen. I
want to marry her."
"Umph," said tho colonel, "I sup
posed ns much. How long havo you
and Helen known ench other?"
"Over n year, sir, but I loved her
from the very moment I saw her.
did not dare hope, I didn't dream,
never Imagined, and strange as It may
seem, sir, she seems to love me."
"Of course I do," said Helen, rcnllz
ing that It was now high time for her
to come to the rescue of her lover,
"nnd so would any other woman."
"You know, of course, that while
nm not rich, I nm not poor, and I can
support ray wife In every comfort, sir,"
urged the man, greatly relieved by the
woman's prompt avownl.
"She'll need a few luxuries besides,
"Yes, of course, sir, I'll see that she
gets them. This bridge Is going to
make us all famous, and I shall havo
my father's Influence and "
"When the brldgo Is finished," said
tho colonel, decisively, "como to me and
you shall havo my daughter."
"Oh, father, tho bridge won't be fin
Ished for " began tho girl.
"I understand, sir," answered the en
gineer, too happy at her father's con
sent to mnko any difficulties over nny
reasonable conditions ho might Impose,
"Yes, Helen, It's all right; your father
Is right. This Job's got to be done be
"Oh, don't say beforo you tackle an
other," protested tho girl, half dlsnp
pointed, and yet seeing tho reasonable
uess of both men, while- tho colonel
"That's about the slzo of It," said tho
old man, "no matter how you put It
Ono thing nt n tlmo. Meade, I don't
know anybody on earth I would rather
havo for my son-in-law than a clean
honest, nblo American with n record
llko yours. A man who can look mo
In tho eyo nnd grasp mo by tho hand
Ho put out his hand ns ho spoke,
Meade's own palm met It and tho two
men shook hands unemotionally but
firmly, nfter tho manner of tho self-
restrained, practical American, who Is
nlwnys fearful of a sccno and does not
wear his heart upon his sleeve. Tho
colonel throw away his cigar, slipped
his arm around his daughter's waist,
kissed her softly on tho forehead.
"I hato to loso you, Helen. I hnto to
glvo you up to nnyone. Wo have been
very happy together slnco your mother
died, leaving you a Httlo girl to mo
but It hnd to como, I suppose, and per
haps I shall bo glad In tho end. Good
night, Meade. You will bo coming In
Ho turned nnd walked away as they
answered him. They watched him go
slowly with bended head. They
watched him climb, rnthcr heavily, up
tho steps to tho car that ho was an
old mnn seemed rather suddenly homo
In upon them. IIo stood for n moment
In tho light, smiling, remembering, and
then turned and marched within tho
car. Ho switched tho light out as ho
passed down tho corridor.
"Wasn't ho splendid?" said Helen,
when sho had tlmo to breathe and free
dom to speak.
"Ono of tho finest old men on earth.
no and father would make a groat
"I was Interested In tho brldgo, be
fore," snld tho woman, "but think how
shall watch It now. You must wrlto
mo every duy and tell mo overy Inch
that you havo gnlned."
"Trust me, 111 xueasuro It In milli
"And now, sweet lovo. good night,"
sho whispered. And sho laughed ns
sho looked back at him through tho
Now, after a week's confinement In
his cnbln, ho felt strong enough to ven-
turo out ngaln and to nttnek his prob
lems. Thoy wcro personal problems
now, much more Intimate than before,
for he wns building not only tho brldgo
but weaving In Its wob of steel his own
Of course ho had been nblo to get
out on the rough porch of his galvan
ized Iron shnck where ho had tho
brldgo in full view, nnd tho day beforo
he had even walked unsteadily down to
tho river bank, whero ho hnd been
qunlly surprised nnd delighted at tho
progress that had been made. Abbott
wns n driver after his own heart. Real
ly things seemed to hnve gono on Just
ns well without him ns If lie bad been
on tho job. IIo had not been lonely In.
his Illness, for nil of the chief men con
nected with tho construction hnd dono
their best to beguile the tedium of his
hours by visiting him whenever they
could spare the time.
Abbott hnd been especially kind In
his somewhat rough-and-ready way.
Tho big construction superintendent
wns fond of Mende, although ho un
dervalued him. He regarded him moro
as n theoretical than a practical man
and the inevitable antagonism between
the theorist nnd the practical man.
when they nro not combined in one per
sonality, was latent In Abbott's heart
Nightly, ho brought to Mende details
of tho progress of the work. That eve
ning, Just before leaving, he remarked
In the most casunl mnnncr In tho world,
as if It wcro a matter of little or no Im
portance, that C-lO-It was n trifle out
Now C-10-It wns tho biggest member
of tho great right-hand truss on tho
north side of the river. It consisted
of four parallel composite webs, each
"When tho Bridge Is Finished."
formed of several plates of steel rlv
eted together. These webs were con
nected across their upper and lower
edges by diagonal latticing mnde of
steel angle bars. C-10-It and Its parallel
companion member, C-10-L, In tho left
hand truss, carried the cntlro weight
of tho cantilever spnn to the shoo rest
ing on the pier. These members wero
sixty feet long and five feet wide. Tho
webs were over four feet deep nnd In
size and responsibility tho great struts
woro tho most Important of tho wholo
To say that C-10-R was out of line
meant thnt It had buckled, or bent, or
wns springing, nnd had departed from
that rigid rectangulnrlty and parallel
ism which was absolutely necessary, to
maintain tho stability and Immobility
of tho truss and tho strength of tho
bridge. To tho theorist nothing on
earth could bo moro terribly por
tentous than such a statement,
if it wero true. To tho prno
tlcal man, who, to do him Justice, had
never dealt with such vast structures
nnd ho wns not singular in that be
causo tho brldgo was unique on ac
count of Its size tho deflection noted
meant littlo or nothing.
"Good God!" cxclnlmcd Mcado,
aflnmo on tho Instant with anxious ap
prehension. Tho night was warm and
he was dressed In his pujnmas and had
been lying on tho bed. As If ho hnd
been shocked Into nctlon ho sat up, for
getful of his weakness. "Deflection 1"
ho fairly shouted at Abbott, who re
garded him with half-amused astonish
ment, "a enmbor In C-10-R? Why
didn't you tell mo?"
By this tlmo Mcado had got his feet
Into his slippers and was standing
"It Isn't enough to mnko nny differ
ence," answered Abbott quickly, per
Imps a littlo disdainfully.
"It makes all tho difference on
earth," cried Meade. "It means tho
ruin of tho bridge."
Ho reached for his Jacket, hanging
nt tho foot of tho bed, and dragged It
"Don't worry nbouf It, youngster."
snld Abbott rather contemptuously, nl
though ho meant to be soothing. "I'm
going to Jnck it Into lino nnd here,"
ho cried as Meado bolted out of tho
door, "you'd better not exclto yourself
that way. Como back to bed, man,
Tho Deflection In tho Member.
Three days after tho departuro of
tho llllngworth party Uio young en
gineer fell III with follicular tonsllltls,
which Is about tho meanest small thing
thnt cun lay n btrong man low. Ho
fretted over his enforced absence from
tho work and In tho end had to pay for
that very fretting, for ho got up too
soon and went out too quickly, and wns
promptly forced to bed, again as a con
sequence of his Impatience,
How young Meade faces a
great crisis and what ho does In
trying to avert serious troublo
Is told In a thrilling chapter In
the next Installment
(TO BB CONTINUED.)
Must Do Able to Overlook.
Two persons will not bo friends
long if they cannot forglvo each other
UtUo fallings, La Bruyero.
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