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Thayer. "What are
you going to do?"

"I'm going to see him," said the girl's firm voice.

There was a soft clapping of two pairs of hands.

As she came through the portière, Edith walked like a princess. There
was amazing resolution in her back-flung head, and on her face was the
look of one who sets sail into unknown seas.

Someway--somehow, through a mist of light and a blur of sound, he met
her--and the cling of her arms about his neck moved him to tears.

No word was uttered till the Major called from the doorway:

"Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Thayer wants to know if you won't come and have some



Albert Lohr was studying the motion of the ropes and lamps, and
listening to the rumble of the wheels and the roar of the ferocious wind
against the pane of glass that his head touched. It was the midnight
train from Marion rushing toward Warsaw like some savage thing
unchained, creaking, shrieking, and clattering through the wild storm
which possessed the whole Mississippi Valley.

Albert lost sight of the lamps at last, and began to wonder what his
future would be. "First I must go through the university at Madison;
then I'll study law, go into politics, and perhaps some time I may go to

In imagination he saw that wonderful city. As a Western boy, Boston to
him was historic, New York was the great metropolis, but Washington was
the great American city, and political greatness the only fame.

The car was nearly empty: save here and there the wide-awake Western
drummer, and a woman with four fretful children, the train was as
deserted as it was frightfully cold. The engine shrieked warningly at
intervals, the train rumbled hollowly over short bridges and across
pikes, swung round the hills, and plunged with wild warnings past little
towns hid in the snow, with only here and there a light shining dimly.

One of the drummers now and then rose up from his cramped bed on the
seats, and swore dreadfully at the railway company for not heating the
cars. The woman with the children inquired for the tenth time, "Is the
next station Lodi?"

"Yes, ma'am, it is," snarled the drummer, as he jerked viciously at the
strap on his valise; "and darned glad I am, too, I can tell yeh! I'll be
stiff as a car-pin if I stay in this infernal ice chest another hour. I
wonder what the company think----"

At Lodi several people got on, among them a fat man and his pretty
daughter abnormally wide awake considering the time of night. She saw
Albert for the same reason that he saw her--they were both young and

He began his musings again, modified by this girl's face. He had left
out the feminine element; obviously he must recapitulate. He'd study
law, yes; but that would not prevent going to sociables and church
fairs. And at these fairs the chances were good for a meeting with a
girl. Her father must be influential--country judge or district
attorney; this would open new avenues.

He was roused by the sound of his own name.

"Is Albert Lohr in this car?" shouted the brakeman, coming in, enveloped
in a cloud of fine snow.

"Yes, here!" shouted Albert.

"Here's a telegram for you."

Albert snatched the envelope with a sudden fear of disaster at home; but
it was dated "Tyre":

"Get off at Tyre. I'll be there.

"Well, now, that's fun!" said Albert, looking at the brakeman. "When do
we reach there?"

"About 2.20."

"Well, by thunder! A pretty time o' night!"

The brakeman grinned sympathetically. "Any answer?" he asked at length.

"No; that is, none that 'u'd do the matter justice," Albert said,
studying the telegram.

"Hartley friend o' yours?"

"Yes; know him?"

"Yes; he boarded where I did in Warsaw."

When he came back again, the brakeman said to Albert, in a hesitating

"Ain't going t' stop off long, I s'pose?"

"May an' may not; depends on Hartley. Why?"

"Well, I've got an aunt there that keeps boarders, and I kind o' like t'
send her one when I can. If you should happen to stay a few days, go an'
see her. She sets up first-class grub, an' it wouldn't kill anybody,
anyhow, if you went up an' called."

"Course not. If I stay long enough to make it pay I'll look her up sure.
I ain't no Vanderbilt to stop at two-dollar-a-day hotels."

The brakeman sat down opposite Albert, encouraged by his smile.

"Y' see, my division ends at Warsaw, and I run back and forth here every
other day, but I don't get much chance to see them, and I ain't worth a
cuss f'r letter-writin'. Y'see, she's only aunt by marriage, but I like
her; an' I guess she's got about all she can stand up under, an' so I
like t' help her a little when I can. The old man died owning nothing
but the house, an' that left the old lady t' rustle f'r her livin'.
Dummed if she ain't sandy as old Sand. They're gitt'n' along purty----"

The whistle blew for brakes, and, seizing his lantern, the brakeman
slammed out on the platform.

"Tough night for twisting brakes," suggested Albert, when he came in

"Yes--on the freight."

"Good heavens! I should say so. They don't run freight such nights as

"Don't they? Well, I guess they don't stop for a storm like this if
they's any money to be made by sending her through. Many's the night
I've broke all night on top of the old wooden cars, when the wind cut
like a razor. Shear the hair off a cast-iron mule--_woo-o-o_! There's
where you need grit, old man," he ended, dropping into familiar speech.

"Yes; or need a job awful bad."

The brakeman was struck with this idea. "There's where you're right. A
fellow don't take that kind of a job for the fun of it. Not much! He
takes it because he's got to. That's as sure's you're a foot high. I
tell you, a feller's got t' rustle these days if he gits any kind of a

"_Toot, too-o-o-o-t, toot!_"

The station passed, the brakeman did not return, perhaps because he
found some other listener, perhaps because he was afraid of boring this
pleasant young fellow. Albert shuddered with a sympathetic pain as he
thought of the men on the tops of the icy cars, with hands straining at
the brake, and the wind cutting their faces like a sand-blast. His mind
went out to the thousands of freight trains shuttling to and fro across
the vast web of gleaming iron spread out on the mighty breast of the
Western plains. Oh, those tireless hands at the wheel and throttle!

He looked at his watch; it was two o'clock; the next station was Tyre.
As he began to get his things together, the brakeman came in.

"Oh, I forgot to say that the old lady's name is Welsh--Mrs. Robert
Welsh. Say I sent yeh, and it'll be all right."

"Sure! I'll try her in the morning--that is, if I find out I'm going to

"Tyre! _Tyre!_" yelled the brakeman, as with clanging bell and whizz of
steam the train slowed down and the wheels began to cry out in the snow.

Albert got his things together, and pulled his cap firmly down on his

"Here goes!" he muttered.

"Hold y'r breath!" shouted the brakeman. Albert swung himself to the
platform before the station--a platform of planks along which the snow
was streaming like water.

"Good night!" called the brakeman.

"_Good_ night!"

"All-l abo-o-o-ard!" called the conductor somewhere in the storm; the
brakeman swung his lantern, and the train drew off into the blinding
whirl, and the lights were soon lost in the clouds of snow.

No more desolate place could well be imagined. A level plain, apparently
bare of houses, swept by a ferocious wind; a dingy little den called a
station--no other shelter in sight; no sign of life save the dull glare
of two windows to the left, alternately lost and found in the storm.

Albert's heart contracted with a sudden fear; the outlook was appalling.

"Where's the town?" he yelled savagely at a dimly seen figure with a
lantern--a man evidently locking the station door, his only refuge.

"Over there," was the surly reply.

"How far?"

"'Bout a mile."

"A mile!"

"That's what I said--a mile."

"Well, I'll be blanked!"

"Well, y'better be doing something besides standing here, 'r y' 'll
freeze t' death. I'd go over to the Arteeshun House an' go t' bed if I
was in your fix."

"Oh, y' would!"

"I would."

"Well, where _is_ the Artesian House?"

"See them lights?"

"I see them lights."

"Well, they're it."

"Oh, wouldn't your grammar make Old Grammati-cuss curl up, though!"

"What say?" queried the man, bending his head toward Albert, his form
being almost lost in the snow that streamed against them both.

"I said I guessed I'd try it," grinned the youth invisibly.

"Well, I would if I was in your fix. Keep right close after me; they's
some ditches here, and the foot-bridges are none too wide."

"The Artesian is owned by the railway, eh?"


"And you're the clerk?"

"Yup; nice little scheme, ain't it?"

"Well, it'll do," replied Albert.

The man laughed without looking around.

"Keep your longest cuss words till morning; you'll need 'em, take my
word for it."

In the little barroom, lighted by a vilely smelling kerosene lamp, the
clerk, hitherto a shadow and a voice, came to light as a middle-aged man
with a sullen face slightly belied by a sly twinkle in his eyes.

"This beats all the winters I ever _did_ see. It don't do nawthin' but
blow, _blow_. Want to go to bed, I s'pose. Well, come along."

He took up one of the absurd little lamps and tried to get more light
out of it.

"Dummed if a white bean wouldn't be better."

"Spit on it!" suggested Albert.

"I'd throw the whole business out o' the window for a cent," growled the

"Here's y'r cent," said the boy.

"You're mighty frisky f'r a feller gitt'n' off'n a midnight train,"
replied the man, tramping along a narrow hallway, and talking in a voice
loud enough to awaken every sleeper in the house.

"Have t' be, or there'd be a pair of us."

"You'll laugh out o' the other side o' y'r mouth when you saw away on
one o' the bell-collar steaks this house puts up," ended the clerk as
he put the lamp down.

"'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,'" called Albert after
him, and then plunged into the icy bed.

He was awakened the next morning by the cooks pounding steak down in the
kitchen and wrangling over some division of duty.

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