Ignat quickly establishes a reputation for devotion to the labor camp's one railway engine. The railway line goes no further west than the camp because a bridge was washed out just before the start of the war. On a hunch, Ignat follows the line west, swims the river at the washed out bridge, and continues down the railway line. He soon discovers an abandoned railway steam engine trapped on the wrong side when the bridge washed out. Living inside the cab is a German young woman, Elsa, surviving by hunting and gathering. Ignat and the woman start out fighting each other and are unable to communicate due to the language barrier. Eventually they start to work together, both in repairing the steam engine to run, and effecting makeshift repairs to the washed out bridge. They arrive back in camp with the awful looking steam engine and continue to work together on repairs.