Изображения страниц

announce the birth of a little German in the terms, u a powerful boy;" you may think, then, how little chance I might have in contending at a railway-station window with a host of grown-up powerful boys, with arms stretched over my head, or fiercely pushing at each of my sides, while their teeth often held the pipe that would, I conclude, have naturally adhered to their mouths from the mere force of habit. I held a sovereign aloft, with Queen Victoria's gracious image stamped thereon; but resistless as such a sight should have been, it would surprise you to see how these powerful boys, who were in desperate haste when no cause for haste existed, thrust it aside to present their own vulgar coin instead.

"You must give me your money," said a voice behind me. These words are often acted in this world; seldom spoken with reasonable hope of a willing consent. I turned, and saw an old gentleman holding out his hand behind me. "You must give me your sovereign," he repeated, and I obeyed. There was something in the tone made. me yield up at once my shining representative of Queen Victoria. Some few words, I know not what they were, placed the old man in the van of all the besiegers of the window. He was a short and rather small man for a German, but the most powerful somehow gave way. He got my billet for the place I wanted to go to, but, to my dismay at first, I found he had taken it in the third-class carriage.

"That is no matter," he said, "you must go in it; it is the best class also; not like your third-class, or second-class in England, where people are treated like cattle, and left, too, waiting at the road-side to see those who have more time as well as money, fly by them at the rate of a mile a minute; they must pay in time more than they can afford to pay in money. You must try our third-class now; our time is not stolen when our money is spared."

"It is certainly far better than our second-class," I answered, as we entered the clean, spacious, and pleasant compartment, calledthird-class. "But"—


"There is another privilege allowed to your third-class,—they smoke here."

"And you do not wish that? naturally; you come from England. Well, no one must smoke here."

"He is some railway director," said I to myself, and sat down in content.

Presently came aman with a longpipe to the door.

"You must not bring that pipe in here," he said to him. The man looked at him, steadily at first, waveringly afterwards, and went away. The time of moving was coming nearer; two or three anxious-looking persons with the usual accompaniment of pipes and cloaks, rushed up.

"You must not come here," said my friend; and without waiting to look, they rushed to another compartment.

Then came the smart young conductor, leading a host half-enveloped in smoke, and additionally puffing with haste and anxiety.

"Conductor, you must not put any one here who smokes," said my friend; and the conductor cried, "Come on," and ran to the other carriage. We set off at the moment.

I kept wondering to myself whether my solitary old companion were really a man having authority, or whether his power merely lay in a certain manner of enunciating that word must He had been at the Great Exhibition; that was the cause, I think, of his taking me under his protection. He said, " The religion of England is all hypocrisy."

"Not all," I answered, half smiling at the sweeping charge.

"The state of the poor proves it," he replied; "it must be hypocrisy."

I felt argument was waste of words.

The train stopped at a station. A huge elderly man with the enormous cloak hanging on his shoulders, notwithstanding the heat, and with the inseparable pipe carried in his hand, brought up his mild and heavy face to the door of our carriage, opened it, and was about to enter.

"You must not come in here," cried my old friend.

The new-comer seemed for a moment about to recoil, but, with a sort of effort, plucked up all his resolution to the point of resistance.

"So-o!" he ejaculated, slowly putting one foot on the step, but without ever venturing a glance to his opponent.

"You must not come here," repeated the other, in a tone of some wonder.

"So-o-o!" said the other, still more slowly bringing the next foot up.

"You must not come in here, if you smoke," cried my pipe antagonist, who now seemed to fight retreating.

"So-o-o-o !" was the prolonged rejoinder, as the hero of the pipe entered with it, as slowly as his ejaculation.

"If you smoke," urged my half-vanquished champion—

tlSo!" briefly uttered the conqueror, as, with an expressive motion, he plumped down on the seat, never removing his large, soft, hazel eyes from my poor face, but seeming by that expressive act and word to testify a sense of relief at having overcome a mountain of difficulty, and the necessity of fixing those eyes on anything but the dictator of our carriage.

"You must not sit opposite that lady," said my old friend, immediately.

"So-o!" was uttered again, in a different tone, and my vis-a-vis obeyed as if he were unable to resist, and moving to the other end, began to open the window.

"You must not open the window,'' was the immediate declaration.

The new-comer dropped the string, heaved a lengthened " S-o-o !" took out a red handkerchief, and uneasily applied it to his face and forehead.

My guardian against pipes appeared mollified.

"I shall leave the train at B ," he said;

"you must take my place then; you can open the window, if you like; but you must take care of that lady, and not let any one come in who smokes."

"But I also stop at B ," cried the other in

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »