Lost on a Railway.
"Moosup Station!" roared the conductor on the H. P. & F. R. R., as advertisements economically style that line of road that ones Connecticut
in two--as for it goes — probably on the principle that it might go farther and fare worse, or rather get no fares.
The train stopped, the axles screeched, the whistle shrieked, and the engine sent out side puffs of spiteful steam, and on the platform a little old lady with a big new handbox in that state of mingled confusion and excitement common to old ladies from the country a prospect of a journey, particularly a journey after that incantation of Young America
"Good-by, mother!" said a mild-looking, dark eyed woman giving the old lady a kiss.
"Good-by, grammar" shouted a thick set boy from his station beside the engine, which be was surveying, much as if he had taken an order to build one, and meant to improve on this pattern.
"Oh, dear me!
where's my bundle?--no, my handbox!
I declare if I hain't got it in my hand after all!--Good-by, Sary!
Oh, here he is. --John where's my umberell?"
"Here it is, mother; now get in," answered an elderly man who stood at her elbow.
"But where's my piece of string?--and the apples?--and you hain't lost that fennel, have Sary?"
"All aboard!" again roared the conductor; and the old lady made for the car with John after her, holding in his hand the basket of apples, with a piece of string knotted to the handle, a bunch of dry fennel, and a blue cotton umbrella.
John could get no farther than the door, for the cars began to move.
He piled the things upon the old lady's handbox, and swung himself off, just in time to get upon the end of the platform, leaving his mother in law a picture of confusion.
However, the old lady righted herself pretty quickly; she tied her fennel to one end of the string, took the umbrella in one hand and the handbox in the other, hung the bucket on the umbrella handle, which she held horizontally, and proceeded to find a seat.
There were none empty, but several occupied by only one woman; and guided by the instinct of dress that almost all women possess, she stopped beside one of these whose occupant's peculiar array stamped her as a country woman, and have been familiar aspect to our heroine.
"Can I set here?" said the old lady, giving a little poke to the woman's elbow, who looked round with the forbidding expression common to single or solitary females when assaulted by that question in the cars.
But as soon as she caught sight of her questioner's face within the frill of her black bonnet she smiled a benignant smile of welcome, and said, in a loud, cheerful voice.
"Why, 'tain't you, Miss Dodd
, is it?"
"Well, I declare!" said the old lady, who recognized a neighbor from the town next her own; I am
When did you leave home, Mrs Packard
"Why, I come away this morning.
But set down.
I'm real glad it's you; I never do fellowship strange folks settin' in the same seat with me on the railroad; seems so intimate like, and they most always crowd."
"Em goin' to bang my basket up before I set down," remarked Mrs. Dodd
. " John, he put a string on't so as to be handy."
She stretched up her arms across Mrs. Packard
's head to hand up her apples, but at that unlucky moment a sharp jar shook the car, and the apples rolling out of the basket fell on the head below, and Mrs. Packard
sprung up in a fury, her straw bonnet, liberally adorned with red flowers, thoroughly smashed, and her head well bruised.
"Good gracious!" said she, darting a sharp look at Mrs. Dodd
, who was holding on to the seat pretty well frightened. "Good gracious!
them apples have almost broke my skull!
and they've smashed my bunnet all up!
I don't see what folks do want to carry each things for!
"Dear me!" said the old lady, "it is too bad, I do say!
But what on airth jounced all these so?
I do believe we've run away!"
"Well," was Mrs. Packard
's indignant reply, "I guess if we had, you wouldn't be a about it!"
"Don't you want some rum onto your head?" said Mrs. Dodd
, anxious to repair the injuries her apples had committed.
"I guess I had better have some," was the mollified reply, evidently expecting the old lady to hand over the lotion from her handbox in her pocket.
But she innocently answered.
"I wonder if the conductor hain't got any, I should think he'd keep some in case of and cuts."
An indignant sniff was the sole remark Mrs. Packard
hazarded; and the old lady, after picking up her apples, which had rolled hither and through the car, quietly established herself in the seat beside her friend, who was occupied in pinching up and pulling out the bonnet and its decorations.
Just as handbox, umbrella, apples, and fennel were all finally arranged, the conductor came by.
was a long time getting it. Out of her deep pocket came all its contents before the missing card was found; three keys on a blue string, one red silk handkerchief and one white cambric one, two pieces of flag root, and old silk purse with change in it, half a nutmeg, a silver thimble, a tape-needle, a little almanac, a box of Dally's Pain Extractor, and one of corn-salve, a pin-ball, and a of scissors, a lemon, and two peppermints, a small ball of blue yarn, a bit of Turkey
three pea nuts
, and a pair-of black gloves, in whose folds was the ticket.
But while this investigation was going on Mrs. Dodd
improved her time in questioning the conductor.
"What did make these cars jump so a little while back, sir?"
"Cow on the track," laconically growled the man.
"Dew tell!" said the old lady, in an accent of horror, "wasn't a red cow?"
"Pretty red when I see her," grimly remarked he.
I shouldn't wonder now if it was Miss Jacob old Red, went on she; "I heard her now her cow would run across the track home from pasture.
Why, here's my turn and Sammy's peanuts it I took away from him last night when he was goin' to eat in bed, poor little fellow, he'll think grandma in dreadful!
I declare I did mean it he should have again.
You didn't hear whose it was, did you, sir!"
"No!" emphasized the conductor, who wanted the ticket — and at last got it!
By this time Mrs. Packard
's bonnet was last got to its pristine shape and splendor, and Mrs. Dodd
, recalled from her ticket hunt, remembered the bruises and called the conductor lack in so loud and earnest a voice that he could not affect not to hear her, and unwillingly returned.
"Say, Mr. Conductor
, you haven't got any old man, have you?
I want to wet her head with it,"
The conductor, I regret to any, became
"Why, he shares!" ejaculated the old lady with an accent of horror and surprise.
laughed; a touch of superiority restored her temper; she could afford to be amiable to a woman who knew so little of the wave of the world as Mrs. Dodd
So she resumed the conversation.
"You haven't told me yet where you're goin', Miss Dodd
Why I'm going' to Albany
to see my son Jehiel, he that studied for the ministry, and was settled a spell in Westbury
, and then down to Fall River
, and now he's ben in Albany
quite a spell, five years I guess, and I haven't ben to see him never.
You see Sary she's had young children, and I haven't felt as though I could leave her to worry it through alone.
But now they're pretty well grown; Sammy he's the smallest!
and Jehiel wouldn't hear to my stayin' away no longer; I was bound to go and stay there a year.
So John he sent my trunk somehow, by Express I expect, so it I shouldn't hey no trouble and I am a goin' in to Hartford
and down to York
, and John's brother he's goin' to meet me there, and find somebody that's goin' that way, who'll take me along.
It's quite a voyage out to Indianny, and I don't hanker much to go."
"Out to Indianny!" exclaimed Mrs. Packard
. "Why, Albany
's in York State, tain't out there."
"Why, yes it is," stoutly answered Mrs. Dodd
"Why, Miss Dodd
, it ain't! I guess I know where Albany
sister's son, Joe Weed
, lives to Albany
; and when he had a liver complaint, and had to go to a spell (he's get a nephew 't keeps a bakery to Saratogue, so it didn't coat no great,) he step to Albany
, to Joe Weed's house, and he said 'twas queer why they had it for the capital to York State, when York City was so much the biggest.
I 't ain't in Indianny!"
(Dear reader, let me tell you, par parentheses,
that "he," to a Connecticut woman, always means "my husband." Grammar fails before conjugal devotion; there is but one man to our Mrs. Packard
, and the personal pronoun is sacred to that one.)
"Well," rather irresolutely replied Mrs. Dodd
, "I know Jehiel said 'twas Indianny, and so did John; and come to think on't, Jehiel's letters always have New Albany on 'em, but I never heard John call it News
"I don't say but what there may be an Albany or even a New Albany
out to Indianny," retorted Mrs. Packard
with dignity; "but, I do
say I hain't never heard of no Albany
except the one in York State; and if there was one out in Indianny, I don't see why John should send you to York
to go there; it appears more likely you should go to the York State Albany
"Well, I don't know," feebly answered the old lady; "I expect John's brother 'll know.
I feel rather uncerts in about changin' cars to Hartford
After that, I expect I'll go straight."
"There ain't to difficulty to Hartford
," condescended Mrs. Packard
. "You've jest got to step across the depoit, and there'll come along a train by-'n-by, and you jest ask of that's the Albany
train — I would say the York
train — and they'll tell you, somebody will.
I wish I was going as far as that myself, but I ain't. I'm going to stop to Manchester
to see my sister Lucy-Anne; she's got a bad complaint of her vitals, and I rather expect she won't survive.
Any way, I'm goin' to nuss her for a spell. "
"I declare I do wish you was goin' along," said the old lady in a wistful voice. "I'm kind o' hampered with these bundles and things.--But my trunk was packed, and I thought maybe l'd have to stop quite a while in York
, and this pongee I'm in isn't very much to look at, so I put up my best black silk gown, and two trilled caps, and some handkerchiefs, so 't I needn't appear otherwise than conformable to city folks's ways, and then I knew James Greene
(that's John's brother, lestways his step-brother) was extreme fond of Rox bury russets, so I concluded to take along a few; they have kept over so well — why, it's June the tenth to-day --and I couldn't go without my umberell no way, if it should come on to rain; and then I had the fennel so 'st if I should be sick to my stomach a riding in the cars, it's very warning--"
!" interposed the conductor, and Mrs. Packard
bundled out of the cars with a rapid farewell to her traveling companion, and left the old lady alone.
Before long the train rolled into the Hartford station
, and Mrs. Dodd
, somewhat confused by the rush of people out of the cars, and the vociferations of the hackmen, gathered up her "things" and stepped off the train, coming down the long step quite unawares, with a bounce that made her drop her handbox and exclaim.
I believe I have bumped my bunnet off!"
But the approach of a predatory hackman made her grasp the precious box again, and let go of the bonnet.
"Allyn House, Ma'am?"
?" replied the bewildered old lady, as another man behind her screamed, "United States
Hotel!--where's yer checks?"
"Why, I left 'em to home," was the naive reply, "a hangin' behind the milk-room door."
your box, Ma'am.--Any more baggage?"
"Why, what do you want of my box?
I hain't got no trunk, it's gone to Albany
Just then a train screeched into the station and completed Mrs. Dodd
's confusion, white it drowned the drivers voices; and seeing there was nothing to be done with the old lady, they left her staring at the locomotive, as thoroughly confused as ever any old lady was. "Dear me!" soliloquised she; "seems as though my head would burst. " Just then her eye caught a placard, "Beware of Pickpockets!" A look of alarm and horror crossed her face; she shifted the apples and the "umberell" all to one hand, and grasped her pocket firmly with the other — thereby drawing up her gray pongee dress, and displaying to all beholders a pair of thick-set axles cased in blue cotton stockings, and the goodly feet to which they belonged clothed with prunella shoes, whose shape betrayed the swollen joints and crooked shapes that were the reward of hardwork and cheap shoe-leather.
Certainly Mrs. Dodd
did not look one whit less funny to the lungers and employees in that station-house because she was one, of the kindest and best old ladies in the world!
If love and truth and unselfishness want to be appreciated, they must wear hoops, and cosaques, and coats with big sleeves; not pongee skirts and black bombazine bonnets, or even blue yarn stockings!
As she stood there glaring through her silver rimmed spectacles, and trying to recall Mrs. Packard
's advice, the station-master came by, and she appealed to him, for she despaired of finding out for herself:
"Sir," said she, tremulously, quite forgetting in her confusion where she was going, "are them the Albany
"That's the New Haven, Hartford
, and Springfield
train, Ma'am; you can go to Albany
by it, or you can go to New York or to Boston
it's York I'm going to, thankee, Sir."
Somebody called the station-master and he walked rapidly away, while the old lady picked her way across the tracks, and with some difficulty clambered into the cars on the wrong side, nothing doubting but that show was all right, when in fact she had taken the up train.
She sat down behind two ladies, young and fashionably dressed, and presently the train moved off. Poor Mrs. Dodd
, tired with the worry and bustle of the morning, fell asleep, and the conductor, having an old mother himself, compassionately forbore to wake her on his first round.
But next time he tried to rouse her, as they neared a station, and possibly she might wish to get off; the old lady slept however so soundly that shaking and callings seemed all in vain, much to the amusement of the two women before her. But one behind, more considerate, offered her bottle of salts to the conductor, who applied it with such effect that Mrs. Dodd
jumped up, spilled her basket of apples out of her lap, and looked about her with a dismayed and alared expression, irresistible to behold.
Even the conductor laughed.
"Do you want to get off here, Ma'am?" said he.
"Where isn't? We haven't got to York
, have we?
Oh, my apples?
I declare for 't, they're all rolled away!"
"Thompsonville!" shouted the brakemen, as the conductor did not fulfill that particular part of his duty, being occupied with Mrs. Dodd
. "Are you going off here, Ma'am?" repeated this latter functionary.
"No, I'm going further.
I'm goin' to York
The conductor did not wait to hear the latter part of her answer, he was obliged to see to other affairs.
So long as the old lady didn't mean to get off, he could wait for her ticket till their brief stop at the station was over.--
And she, by, this time wide awake, began to collect her scattered apples — a task of no small difficulty, between the mischievousness of two school-boys who had already possessed themselves of three or four, and the spread of sundry hoops that concealed others.
At length she had gathered the better part of her fruit, feeling rather puzzled by the earnest declaration of the boys that they hadn't seen such a thing, when she had found three rolled beyond them; and just as she stooped to pick up one more the train started and pitched her forward.
Luckily the bombazine bonnet took the brunt of her fall, the front crushed in and saved her face, but the bonnet was deplorable; and the poor old lady's discomfiture was completed by the malicious tittering of the "ladies" before her.
As soon as she was seated the conductor came back, his face twitched a little at Mrs. Dodd
's aspect, the pongee was streaked with dust from the car floor, the bonnet bent in angles that were none of them right angles, and her attempts at straightening it had only multiplied them, her face was flushed with heat and mortification, and she had put down her basket of apples on the floor between her two feet, which steadied it as resolutely as if they were glued to either side.
"Where's your ticket, Ma'am?" said he.
"Why, I hain't got none," she answered, meekly. "I thought you keep' 'em."
"Didn't you get one at the office?"
"Well I declare, I forgot John told me to, I was in such a hurry.
You see I come in on the Providence
train, and I see this train come in right off and I didn't recollect nothing about a ticket."
"Where do you want to go?" said he.
"Why, I want to go to York
You see I'm goin to Albany
, but I'm goin' to York
"You're in the wrong train.
This train goes to Boston
"Oh dear!" exclaimed she, in a tone of heart-felt confusion and distress. "What be I goin' to do?"
"Why, we stop at Springfield
in a few minutes, and you can get on the down train there, and go right on to New York."
"Well, can you give me a ticket, Sir?
I've got the money all right.
I held on to 't down to Hartford
deepest so's there shouldn't no pickpockets get it."
"I guess I sha'nt ask you to pay for this ride," said he, smiling. "You can get a ticket for New York at the Springfield office
, and the down train starts in five minutes, right along-side t'other side of the waiting room; you won't have any stop to make there.
Is this all your baggage?"
"I expect it is, Sir
, John, he sent my trunk by express, and these is all besides, if I don't tip over my apples agio."
Pretty soon the train did stop, and the old lady bundled out, and after much questioning and explanation discovered a ticket-office, and in her fresh confusion asked for and bought a ticket to Albany
, and deposited herself in the train for Boston
It was some time before the cars began to move, and Mrs. Dodd
thought her friendly conductor must have mistaken the time, so she left her box and walked forward to an elderly man who sat reading a paper just before her, and said.
"I thought these here cars wan't goin' to wait very long."
"Time changed," gruffly replied he.
So Mrs. Dodd
eat down again, and in a few minutes the same two women, who had been before her on the Springfield
train, came in and took the same seat.
was hardly pleased by this encounter, and it puzzled her somewhat that these two ladies who had just come up should be going down again; but she said nothing, and in ten minutes the train was off. It was an express train, and stopped at but few places, so that she was well on her journey before the conductor claimed her ticket, which was safe at the bottom of her pocket.
'I'll get it in a minute,' said she, deprecatingly, as the conductor began to look impatiently at the heterogeneous articles that one by one were being fished up out of her pocket.
'Hurry up, Ma'am!' said he, at length, crossly. 'I can't wait all day!'
So urged, the poor old lady thrust her hand energetically deeper yet, and ran a sharp pin from the pin-ball into her thumb; her hand was withdrawn with as much force as it went in, and her elbow hit the basket of apples, which, for the third time that day, went rolling along the floor.
This last catastrophe was too much for poor Mrs. Dodd
She was tired, and puzzled, and hungry, withal; she had no dinner, and had brought nothing to eat with her; and tears of fatigue as well as vexation dimmed her spectacles as she tried to inspect the wounded thumb.
'I'll get your ticket when I come back,' said the conductor, tired of waiting.
But the old lady scarcely heard him — she could not see the place that was hurt on her thumb; which she was most anxious to do — and in her simplicity she quite forgot that the ladies in front of her had been rude in the morning; so, quite regardless of her apples, she lifted herself half-way off the seat, and leaning forward, thrust her hand between the two ladies, and asked, in perfect good faith.
can you see the hole?'
The lady on the right turned round and looked at Mrs. Dodd
with a pair of eyes that expression made more insolent even than nature had made them, and said in the voice of ice and snow, tingling with a fine suggestion of astonishment--
never winced she was so absorbed in her hurt. 'Why, you see I sticked a pin into my thumb, and pins are plenteous, they say. Hester Smith
's daughter, worked to a pin factory, she got pricked and didn't take no pains to heal up the wound, and she swelled up awfully, got mortified and really died; so I always carry Daily in my pocket to put on first jump; but I can't see real well in the cards as to apply it right.--Do you see the hole?'
The green eyes and amber hair confronted her again, and the same discriminating voice remarked, 'I see a very dirty thumb.'
Now Mrs. Dodd
's thumb did not look clean; she had taken off her clinging silk gloves to straighten out her bonnet and pick up her apples, and the dust had left no mistakable traces on that pluckered and pierced member.
But Mrs. Dodd
's hobby was cleanliness; she was scrupulously, religiously neat; however old, and faded, and stained her dress might be it was always faultlessly clean as soap and water could make it; and to have a strange woman in a public conveyance tell her that her thumb was 'dirty' was not to be endured. --She bent her head slightly to facilitate the manoeuvre and directed a look over her spectacles at the offender, a look of that transfixing kind peculiar to indignant old ladies, in which they assume something of the severely virtuous aspect common to those dragon flies that have four eyes, though they do not wear spectacles.
But the green eyes and amber hair were turned away, and poor Mrs. Dodd
's Medusae artillery was wasted.
She give no further license to her tongue than to remark quite audibly.
'I wish you better manners!'
No notice was taken of this little remark by the green eyes.
An icicle could not have been more insensitive, and Mrs. Dodd
had spent all her ammunition; so, after anointing her whole thumb with her favorite remedy, and tying it up in a rag extracted from that voluminous pocket — which certainly was clean!--she betook herself to gathering up the scattered apples — a work of time and patience, for they had rolled further than ever.
Just as she was fairly settled again the conductor came back for her ticket, which she had discovered, and taken the precaution to pin to her shawl.
She handed it up to him with a look of serene satisfaction.
'Wrong ticket!' said he.
is not this the York
'No; this is the Boston
express, and your ticket is for Albany
I hain't got lost again, have I?
what shall I do?'
'Get out at the next station,' said he.
.'--fare, a dollar sixty-two.'
'Ain't my ticket good for nothing?' said Mrs. Dodd
, with a dismayed accent.
'Don't you see,' answered he running his finger along the card, 'Good for this day and train only.'
'Well, can't I get back to any where afore it's dark?' said she.
The conductor did not hear her; the cars were stopping without leave.
He hurried through to find the trouble, leaving the poor old woman more perplexed than ever.
Opposite to her sat a lady much less elaborately dressed than these before her. Something quiet and well-bred marked her whole aspect, though her dress was of a grey unnoticeable fabric, and her thin cloak and hat of a delicate transparent material, dull in tint, but without
grease or spot.
She looked across at Mrs. Dodd
, and said, in a low, pleasant voice,
'Can I help you, Ma'am?'
I don't know!' said she. 'You don't know nothing about the trains, do you?
nor what time we get to Worcester
'We ought to get to Worcester
by half past 3' said the lady.
'Where be we a stopping now?'
'I don't know; I think something is wrong there is no station here.'
Just as she spoke one of the gentlemen who had got out — as gentlemen always do on such occasions, to see for themselves — came back and took his seat behind Mrs. Dodd
The lady addressed him in her sweet and delicate tones: 'What is the matter.
sir?' said she. It was the same man who had given so laconic an answer to the old lady when she spoke to him on coming into the cars at Springfield
; but he was neither gruff nor brief to his present querist.
'The locomotive has burst a flue, Ma'am, I believe.
If so, we shall be detained some time on the track.'
looked aghast. 'Oh dear me!' said she; 'what shall I do!'
'I think you will have to spend, the night at Worcester
, and go back in the morning,' said the lady.
'Well, if I go to York
now, I don't know where to go, for James he won't expect me,' was the piteous reply.
So the lady — a woman who deserved the name — addressed herself kindly to quiet the poor old woman's apprehensions; and having gradually extracted the history of Mrs. Dodd
's wanderings, advised her to ask somebody in the station at Worcester
to show her a hotel, and then to proceed in the first morning train to Albany
— the kind adviser not suspecting that New Albany
was her proper destination.
'I thank you kindly,' said Mrs. Dodd
'Tain't everybody that's willin' to take so much pains and trouble for an old crater like me.'
'You are very welcome,' said the lady. 'I shall be old myself sometime and want help.'
'Well, I'll be bound you'll get it,' was the earnest response of Mrs. Dodd
, as the lady returned, smiling, to her seat and her book, while the pair of women on the seat in front stared at her with undisguised wonder--one of them having recognized her on entering as a Boston lady to attain whose position and reputation she would have given all her luxuriant amber hair and one of her green eyes.
After long delay the train moved on, and at Worcester
our old lady left the cars, not without a hearty shake of the hand from her unknown friend, to whom she offered her basket of apples, begging her to take them all; an offer graciously declined, though she did take one, by way of showing her appreciation of kindness intended.
When Mrs. Dodd
found herself once more left to her own devices in a strange place, she made a resolute effort to keep her wits about her, not to get lost again.
She asked one hackman after another 'where the tavern was.' And as fast as they discovered she was no face for them they turned away; and soon both man and women had left the station empty, except for the ticket-seller, who waited for another train and had shut his window, so that not even the strenuous inquisitiveness of spectacles could discover him. In this strait was poor Mrs. Dodd
left; tired, dusty, thirsty, hungry, and perplexed, when just as her withered lip began to quiver and her eyes to fill, a stout rosy Irish girl, in the most wonderful figured cotton dress, and a red shawl over her head, came in at one door of the station, and the old lady, determined to intercept her, brandishing the umbrella feebly, accepted Bridget with,
do you know where the tavern is?'
'Shure there's more 'n one to this big place, Mem,' said she: 'whichever is it ye'll be father?'
'Well, I don't care much, only I've got kinder lost on the railroad, 'n I've got to stay here overnight, so's to go back in the morning' to Albany
, and I want a place to sleep, and get some vittles pretty near by.'
"Well, an' if it ain't a big Hott-el ye've set your mind on, here's Mrr. Donovan
's close by, an' she keeps a boordin'-house, and it's messlf waits, an' cooks, and does up the chamber work; and M'ss Flynn
, she left the place last week, and there ain't a sowl in her room, and I think ye'd better be afther comin' along wid me, where ye'll get boord an' lodgin' av the best, an' it's right forenist the dapott."
yielded; she knew nothing else to do, and after a supper at Mrs. Donovan
's "boordin'-house"--which made her recall the clean and savory food she was used to at her daughter's table with regretful astonishment — she was shown into a dark, close room, up stairs, where the flufty bed and very objectionable linen — or rather cotton — thereof, shocked Mrs. Dodd
quite as much as it would have the green-eyed lady who insulted her thumb.--But the extremity of her faigue made her less fastidious practically; she went to bed, and forgot every thing in so sound a sleep that she did not wake till half past 7 of the brightest possible June morning, when a sound shake from Bridget effected that desirable event.
"Shure, Mem, the accomy dashin's goin' by in a half in hour, an' ye've overslep yerself, an' the brekfist is ready."
yawned, and rubbed her eyes, and yawned again, but at length awoke to what the newspapers call "a sense of her sitnation," and dressed herself as hastily as the methodical ways of an old lady would permit; for such brushings and shakings as gown, shawl, cap, handkerchief, and bonnet had to go through, were a work of time, and the breakfast-bell rung impauently twice, before the dust of three railways was expelled from every gather and plait, and when at length she appeared down stairs, much the better for the aforesaid processes, she was greeted by Brid get standing at the foot of the stairs with arms akimbo. "And there's the accomydashin train a whustlin this blessed minit, and you haven't ate yer brekfist as shure's I'm Bridget Flanigin!"
'Oh dear!' said Mrs. Dodd
, 'if I ain't the unluckiest woman!
Can't I get over to 't, Bridget?'
'Shure, ye can't aven put on yer bonnet quick enough, for it's atther goin' out as quick as iver it comes in?'
'Oh, what shall I do!' exclaimed the old lady, who felt as one does when, after waking out of one nightmare, breathless and oppressed, they feel the creeping, curdling horror of another, and conscious of its presence cannot stir to escape.
'Shure, whativer else ye'll do, ye'd betther ate your brekfist.
Hevn't I been au' br'iled a beautiful salt fish meself for that same, wid chopped petatys, an fine hot caffee?'
followed her to the dinining-room, which was deserted even by Mrs. Donovan
; and if cold or tepid salt mackerel, greasy potatoes, coffee that never grew on any Javan or Arabian soil being unblushingly burned beans — and stale baker's bread could have tempted her appetite, our old lady would have scarcely eaten with less apparent notice of her food than now. She did not know what to do till at last a bright thought visited her, and she turned to Bridget, who sat at case in a chair behind her, heaving Irish sighs, and wiping her hot face with an apron that was far from clean, saying:
'Ain't there no more trains besides this Bridget?'
'Shure an' there is. 'Tain't a twopenny railroad that runs twice't, an' then gives over.
It's sivin or tin trains a day they do be havin', I don't remimber which.'
'Well, then, I can go in the next one, can't I? When does it go?'
'There's the express comes by at tin o'clock, Mem; but I undtherstood ye to say ye wanted the first train, and that's the accomydashin that's a goin' out beyant now.'
'Then I'll go by express.
I'll put on my bunnit right away, and take my things, and go and set in the depott till it comes along, so I'll be sure next time.'
'And I'll come afther I get the dishes done, about tin o'clock, an' see ye safe in, said Bridget, muttering as she retreated, 'she rale plisant ould lady, and as like to me as Annt Honour Maguire
— the heavens he bad this day!--as one pay is like to another the pod; and it's more nor likely she'll me the complimint of a quarther for being tintive!'
paid for her board at the a great hotel, and gladly left Mrs. Dond
smiling from under her be ribboned cap at the meek mexperience of the old lady.
After a few inquiries she found her way to the and seated herself in the gentlemen's waiting room, as if the spirit of all blunders possessed her!
She was somewhat chagrined at not finding a rocking-chair
, but compromised of fairs by sitting in one common one, with her feet on the rungs of another that held her box,
basket, and umbrella.
Thus perched she waited quietly till the hour for the train should come.
As the time drew near, and only men began to come in, one after another, she wondered mightily what was the reason that no women were going, and why all the men looked at her so. Presently two coarse-looking youths entered — tolerably well dressed except in the article of vests, which were of the showiest character, brilliant pink and blue checked Marssilles, overhung with the gaudiest and most elaborate chains, while mosaic studs, rings big enough for the finger of Gog or Magog, and blue neck ties
stamped them as undoubted 'swells.'
said the reddest of them, as his eye caught Mrs. Dodd
's quaint figure. 'Jim!
I say. look there!'
Jim turned round, struck an attitude, and whistled; while Joe quoted, audibly, 'B'g box, little box, handbox, bundle'
couldn't bear them, or she might perhaps have taken herself out of the way of the next manoeuvre, which was, after buying their tickets, to seat themselves one on each side of her, and begin a conversation.
'Good morning, Ma'am!' said Joe, which was rearprocated by Mrs. Dodd
. 'Got your ticket, Ma'am?'
'Well no, I hev'n't I calculate to get it in the cars, so's I can't make no mistakes no more.
Can I get it way through to Albany
, yes!' answered Jim. 'They ticket through to the Rocky Mountains
, and overland to Chins, on this track.'
'Dew tell!' said the old lady. 'I thought Chiney was across the water.'
'Well, they've bridged it over on the telegram cable,' said Joe, gravely.
tooked at him over her spectacles no indignantly, but inquiringly.
tell!' said she. 'I didn't know as they could!'
'Why,' said Jim, 'that feller next you, Ma'am, he ticketed through to Japan
, and shot buffaloes flying for seven hundred and forty miles of the way — lightning speed.'
'Why, buffaloes don't fly!' said Mrs. Dodd
'Oh no!' said Joe; 'but I did, after the engine: it's the same principle.
I used to aim a mile ahead, and hit every time.'
'Dear me!' said the old lady, quite reassured by Joe's grave air. 'Be they quite large critters?'
'Oh, immense,' said Jim; 'they use their hours for church-steeples out in Kansas
, and make a bell-rope of the tail.'
began to look dubious, and just then Joe's eye lit on a number of an agricultural paper lying on the floor that some one had dropped, where were depicted certain diagrams illustrating the shape that a well-fed ox should be, inclosing him in a parallelogram except his head and legs; he availed himself of the accident directly.
'Well, that does sound rather largish,' said he; but we shall get a look at 'em in this part of the country before long.
They're goin' to be imported.'
'I should like to see a man drive a herd of 'em into New York!' said Jim, affecting great scorn for the idea.
'Oh, they are going to be boxed up,' returned Joe. 'Look her, ma'm, here's a description of the way in the last Syracuse Harrow;
you see how it's to be done!'
'What!' said the pitiful old lady, eyeing the diagram that presented a view of the ox's back, 'a settin' up on end!
why, it must hurt their tails dreadfully.
I should think they'd beller all the way.'
This was too much for J.m and oe. They disappeared in a roar of laughter, leaving the mortified and astonished Mrs. Dodd
to her own reflections.
Presently the train came up and the old lady betook herself to the cars, being seized on the way by Bridget, who put her into a seat, and bade her affectionate good-by, lingering in hope of some more tangible souvenir, but lingering in vain.
was 'of prudent mind,' and she thought the two dollars she had paid Mrs. Donovan
quite enough, to say the least, for her scanty accommodations, so she only said, 'Good-by, Bridget; I wish you well!' Just then the bell rung.
'Ye stingy ould nagur,' sputtered the indignant serving maid, 'the divil's own luck go wid ye.'
'All aboard!' sung out the conductor, and Bridget beat a hasty retreat without her 'complimint,' whereon Mrs. Dodd
uttered but one reflection, in soliloquy, which we preserve for its point and pith.
'She's real Irish
--sweet one minute and sassy the next!'
The cars had passed Springfield
, and were well on their way toward Albany Mrs. Dodd
had procured the right ticket this time, and sat peacefully nibbling a great piece of cake she had bought of a boy; for nothing could have induced her to leave her seat a moment till she arrived at Albany
— hardly the necessity of the ferry!--when suddenly it occurred to her she could get away from the troublesome sunshine in her face by taking the other end of the seat.
To do so, handbox, umbrella, and apple-basket must change places, and of course she knocked down the apples, and was obliged to grope for them here and there as they had rolled.
Just before her sat a young man, with a deep weed on his hat, which had given rise to various sympathetic conjectures in the old lady's mind.
He had taken that seat at Westfield
, and remained apparently absorbed in his papers ever since.
He was not handsome; but there was something serious and sweet about his dark face, and his dress was quiet and serviceable.
Just as Mrs. Dood
stooped by his seat to look for one of the unfortunate russets he perceived her errand and offered to help her; so kindly that the weary old lady looked up at him with a glow of satisfaction.
'Well, I wish you, would,' said she; 'them apples do pester me dreadfully; they've kep' a tumbling down ever since I come away from home.'
'Let me tie a paper over the basket,' said he, 'and then you will have no more trouble,' and he proceeded to tie a bit of his newspaper over the re-collected russets.
'I declare for't,' said she; 'it's a great thing to have one's faculties handy!
I don't see why I never thought of that myself.'
The gentleman smiled, and arranging the old lady's possessions, offered her a pictorial paper, and for the next hour she was happy; but the paper being finished, she began to think with apprehension of her search through Albany
She returned the paper with thanks, and proceeded — encouraged by the smile with which it was acknowledged — to inquire of him as follows:
'You haven't never been to Albany
, have you, sir?'
He smiled, again, at the intensely Yankee idiom. 'Oh yes, Ma'am, a great many times'
'Well, do you know the Reverend Jehiel Dodd
'No; there is no settled clergyman of that name in Albany
'Why yes there is, sure.
He's my son; he's settled in the Pilgrim Church
, I b'lieve 'tis they call it.'
'But there is no such church in Albany
Seven new wrinkles gathered on the wistful, troubled face that looked into his, and the wonted exclamation came to her lips:
'Dear me, what shall
Well, do you know one thing — is Albany
in Indianny or York
we are going to is in New York State
There is a New Albany
'Well, that is it. I expect; but everybody told me it was in York
And here I am going all wrong.
Oh, dear me, sus!'
This was the extreme of Mrs. Dodd
's ejaculations; language reached its limits with her in that climax of phraseology, and the hot, slow tears began to creep out of her poor old eyes.
Something about her look touched her listeners heart to the quick.
The weed on his hat was not the token of a lost love, or wise, or child; it signified to him a loss never to be amended — a dead mother, who also had been gray-haired, wrinkled, jaded out of her young bloom, but lovely with the undying beauty of a lovely sound that transfigured her forever, and left its fair ghost behind in the hearts and memories of all who knew her. Her son, remembering her, soothed poor old Mrs. Dodd
drew from her all her story; and after thinking it over, decided that it was not best for her to go to New York, but to keep right on to Cleveland
, and from there, by various railways, to Indianapolis
and New Albany.
'But I don't believe I've got money enough,' said she. 'It must take quite a spell o' travslin' to get out there; and John Greene
, that's my son-in-law down to Moosop--'
why, I know him quite well.
I've bought wool of him many a time,' said the young man, speaking with visible pleasure, as everybody who know John Greene
did speak of him.
'Why, dew tell!
I want to know if you know our John?
Well, now, I feel kind o'
familiar, I declare!
Well, I was goin' on to say, he said 't James, his brother, when I was goin' down to York
, would band over the money for my passage to whoever should take me along, so's I shouldn't have no trouble; and brought along ten dollars for little things and for to pay my passage from Hartford
, and I hain't got more'n three of it left.
I've been a wanderin' round so. Here the old lady's lip began to quiver.
'Well, you're all right now!' said he, soothingly. 'I'm going on out West
, and I've got money enough for both of us. I shall go as far as Indianapolis
, and there I'll put you in a train straight for New Albany.'
'Oh, I don't know how to be thankful enough!' said she. 'I'm greatly obleeged; and you'll be sure to get your money — though that's the least part on't.'
'Oh yes; I'll get that out of Mr. Greene
o' our next wool bargain.
He'll trust Frant Scarborough
's word for the debt, I'll be-bound.'
'I guess he'd trust a look out o' them eves o' yourn as quick,' said the old lady, thinking aloud.
turned her thought by saying, 'We'll telegraph from Albany
to Moosop Station that you're all sate me.'
'Oh yes, Sir; and you never go to John for wool after this without makin' if your home while you stay.
They'll always befriend anybody that befriends mother.'
They arrived at Albany
soon after this agreements and deciding to take the night train on, Mr. Scarborough
arranged his shawl carefully for the old lady's rest, and cared for her as if he had son — better perhaps; for Mr. Scarborough
was that rarest of modern curiosities — a gentleman!
's troubles were all ended now and she ceased to be interesting.
Suffice it to say, that she had a weary yet a very pleasant journey to Indianapolis
, entertaining her friends all the way with her family histories, and praises of a little girl, named Lizzy, be longing to Jehiel--'The prettiest little cretue you ever see!'
They parted with a promise on Frank Scarborough
's part to surely visit New Albany on his return home in a month or two; and August was just fading away when he rung the bell of the Rev. Jehiel Dodd
's door, in the quietest street of New Albany — a door which was opened to him by Lizzie herself — a young lady instead of the pretty little girl her grand mother had painted.
Pretty she was, nevertheless, with a true Saxon
complexion of milk and roses; sweet, honest blue eyes, still innocent and childish; waves on waves of braided golden hair, and the kind, sweet beauty of a heart as true and gentle as her grandmother's.
More than once on his Western tours did Mr. Frank Scarborough
find his way to New Albany; once just in time to say good-by to his traveling companion, now bound on a longer journey, yet fearing not to be lost, though she went alone.
The old lady drew that grave yet tender face down to hers, and kissed him for good-by, even as his mother had.
bless you!' whispered she. 'He will.
He is faithful!'
never saw her again; but a year after he came back to New Albany, and, with much unwillingness on the Rev Jehiel Dodd
's part, that venerable man nevertheless performed a certain ceremony that gave his Lizzy over into the young man's hands for lite; and I am credibly informed that old Mrs. Dodd
's opinion of Mr. Scarborough
is fully endorsed by Lizzy, who had heard many and many a time that he was 'the best of all the Lord
's creturs, of he was a man!'