The brakeman, an amiable personage, was interested in her thirst for knowledge of railway affairs, and answered her innumerable questions in patient detail until his head began to buzz and he began to feel as though he were attached to a suction pump.
“Goodness gracious, child, what do you think I am, an encyclopedia?” he exploded at last, and sought refuge in the impenetrable regions at the forward end of the long train.
Sahwah, deprived of her source of information, turned to join her traveling companions, Gladys and Hinpoha and Migwan, up in the other end of the car. She stood for a moment at the water cooler, looking down the car at the people facing her and indulging in her favorite pastime of trying to read their faces. The car was crowded with all kinds of people, from the stately, judicial-looking man who sat in front of the Winnebagos to a negro couple on their honeymoon. There was a plentiful sprinkling of soldiers throughout the car and one or two sailors. Sahwah looked at them with eager interest and classified their different branches of service by the color of the cord on their hats. One Artillery, three Infantry, one Ambulance Corps and one Lieutenant of Aviation, she checked off, after a long and careful scrutiny of the last one, whose insignia puzzled her at first.
A porter brushed by her as she stood there with a glass of milk in his hand. Sahwah watched the progress of the milk idly, and the porter stopped beside the Lieutenant of Aviation with it. The lieutenant seemed to be asleep, for the porter had to shake him before he became aware of his existence. Just then Hinpoha caught Sahwah’s eye and motioned her to come back to her seat, and Sahwah went tripping down the aisle to join her friends. She glanced casually at the young lieutenant as she passed him; he was staring fixedly at her and she dropped her eyes quickly. A little electric shock tingled through her as she met his eyes; he seemed to be about to speak to her. “Probably mistook me for someone else and thought he knew me,” Sahwah thought to herself, and dismissed him from her mind.
“Where have you been all this while?” asked Hinpoha with a perspiring sigh, laboriously “knitting backward” across the length of the needle in vicious pursuit of a stitch that should have been eliminated in the process of decreasing for the heel turn.