from The Century Dictionary.
- noun In railroading, a workman employed to lay down rails and fix them to the sleepers.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
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Proceeding there in company with my eldest brother-in-law, a plate-layer and surfaceman on the Northern (he being uncertain about the Derby winner for that year), I was told by the person for a trifle of two shillings that I was soon to cross water and to meet many strange adventures.
They traced their descent from a mythical plate-layer who had worked on the Sone Bridge when railways were new in India, and they valued their English origin.
From the mouth of the tunnel the plate-layer, the foreman and the navvies all followed with their eyes the unintelligible conversation passing between the gendarme and the tramp a hundred yards away.
"'Course, I'm not saying no, but I should like to see what sort of work it is they're doing here: it might not suit me; I shall still have time to get a couple of words with him," and with his eyes on the ground the tramp slowly walked along the embankment away from the plate-layer.
The plate-layer followed his glance, and also stood fixed.
A man approached the cabin allotted to the plate-layer in charge of that section of the line in which the tunnel was included.
The foreman met and passed him, and came up to the plate-layer at the mouth of the tunnel.
The man who spoke to the plate-layer was no other than François Paul, the tramp who had been discharged by the magistrate installed at the château of Beaulieu, at precisely the same time the day before, after a brief examination.
The next thing heard of him was when his dead body was discovered by a plate-layer named Mason, just outside
"I don't know," said the plate-layer; "but I suppose they have to get out at Brives or Cahors and drive, or else travel by the day trains, which are fast to Brives and slow afterwards."
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