Bringing Progress to the Central West!
Sending my business to its death.
Mort saw the writing on the wall, or rather, saw the words in the wires, and knew he had to act.
“MRS CUNNINGHAM! MRS CUNNINGHAM!”
“THIS IS SERGEANT DALTON. I hereby formally serve an arrest warrant for Mr Mort Cunningham on charges of destruction of property, trespassing, vandal…”
The door creaked open reluctantly and released the heat of the fire and the aroma of Ettie Cunningham’s prize-winning scones.
“Ettie, look, we know he did it. Can you please ask him to stop, for everyone’s sake?”
Ettie remained steadfast, defiant, proud. Sergeant Dalton lingered, hoping to fulfil his official duty and to be offered a scone. Alas, he eventually returned to the icy, blustering wind of the plains having only accomplished the former.
Mort Cunningham navigated those icy, windswept plains in his rickety Stage Coach full of mail, rural supplies and rural folk. He gazed upon the newly-erected poles and wires running beside the trail, and witnessed their reach extending ever further into the bush. These days, his loyal passengers spoke of nothing else, excited at the prospect of a telephone in their own home and an immediate connection to the outside world.
“First sign of progress, my dear,” remarked a prominent landowner returning from a business meeting.
“Whatever will be next?” his wife pondered wistfully.
Mort also ruminated on that question. He needn’t. The answer was writ large in the Western adventures he read every night while rugged up in his empty coach between journeys. An answer soon articulated by Mr Big.
“Why, the telegraph precedes the railroad, my dear.”
This one comment spurred Mort into action. Having unloaded his cargo and passengers, he whipped his horses into action and charged back along the rough, rocky trails.
He charged along the bumpy roads splashing mud and ice in every direction as the word ‘railroad’ tormented his anxious mind.
He forced his horses into even greater depths of pain and exhaustion and reached the naked logs in record time. New logs, unwired, so far, but growing like stubborn weeds at a seemingly exponential rate. He dismounted with haste and grabbed his axe. One down, felled into the bush. The second, then the third, always felled meticulously in the same direction.
He was off. Bounding desperately along the dangerous trail.
One down. Two, three, with wild panic and flailing arms, this time he slashed at every log with reckless abandon.
One down. Two, Three.
Then he felt it. The ground shook. Four horses, wide, sturdy wheels.
Mort swung his horses 180 degrees and whipped them ferociously in a desperate attempt to outrun the inevitability of progress. His two indefatigable steads now sprinted at the speed of light on the slippery icy trail and it was only at the very last minute that Mort saw the log.