Before this, however, the porter had insisted upon making up the girls’ berths and, like most of the other passengers in the Pullman, Nan and Bess were asleep. While the passengers slept the snow continued to sift down, building the drifts higher and higher, and causing the train-crew increasing worriment of mind.
The locomotive could no longer pierce the drifts. The train had been too heavy for her from the first. Fuel supply had been renewed at the Junction, as well as water; but the coal was now needed to keep up steam for the cars—and it would not last long for that purpose.
If the storm continued until morning without change, it might be several days before the road could be opened from either end of the division. Food and fuel would be very hard to obtain in this waste of snow, and so far from human habitation.
The two conductors and the engineer spent most of the night discussing ways and means. Meanwhile the snow continued to fall and the passengers, for the most part, rested in ignorance of the peril that threatened.
CAST AWAY IN THE SNOW
It was Bess who came back from the ladies’ room on the Pullman and startled Nan Sherwood by shaking her by the shoulder as she lay in the upper berth, demanding:
“Have you any idea what time it is, Nan? Say! have you?”
“No-o—ouch!” yawned her chum. “Goodness! That was my elbow. There’s not much room on these shelves, is there?”
“Do you hear me?” shrilled Bess. “What time do you suppose it is?”
“Oh, dear me! Is that a conundrum?” asked Nan, with but faint interest.
“Wake up!” and Bess pinched her. “I never knew you so stupid before. See my watch, Nan,” and she held the small gold time-piece she had owned since her last birthday, so that her chum could see its face.
“A quarter to eight,” read Nan from the dial. “Well! that’s not so late. I know we’re allowed to remain in the car till eight. I’ll hurry. But, oh! isn’t it dark outside?”
“Now, you’re showing a little common sense,” snapped Bess. “But do you see that my watch has stopped?”
“Oh! so it has,” agreed Nan. “But, then, honey, you’re always letting it run down.”
“I know,” said Bess, impatiently. “And at first I thought it must have stopped last evening at a quarter to eight. When I woke up just now it was just as dark as it was yesterday morning at six. But I took a peep at the porter’s clock and what do you think?”
“I’ll shave you for nothing and give you a drink,” laughed Nan, quoting the old catch-line.
Bess was too excited to notice her chum’s fun. She said, dramatically:
“The porter’s clock says half-past nine and half the berths are put up again at the other end of the car!”
“Mercy!” gasped Nan, and swung her feet over the edge of the berth. “Oh!” she squealed the next moment.