“What’s the matter now?” demanded her chum.
“Oh! I feel like a poor soldier who’s having his legs cut off. My! isn’t the edge of this berth sharp?”
“But what do you know about its being half-past nine?” demanded Bess.
“And the train is standing still,” said Nan. “Do you suppose we can be at Tillbury?”
“Goodness! we ought to be,” said Bess. “But it is so dark.”
“And Papa Sherwood would be down in the yards looking for me before this time, I know.”
“Well! what do you think it means?” demanded her chum. “And b-r-r-r! it’s cold. There isn’t half enough steam on in this car.”
Nan was scrambling into her outer garments. “I’ll see about this in a minute, Bess,” she said, chuckling. “Maybe the sun’s forgotten to rise.”
Bess had managed to draw aside the curtain of the big window. She uttered a muffled scream.
“Oh, Nan! It’s sno-ow!”
“What? Still snowing?” asked her chum.
“No. It’s all banked up against the pane. I can’t see out at all.”
“Goodness—gracious—me!” ejaculated Nan. “Do you suppose we’re snowed in?”
That was just exactly what it meant. The porter, his eyes rolling, told them all about it. The train had stood just here, “in the middle of a snow-bank,” since midnight. It was still snowing. And the train was covered in completely with the soft and clinging mantle.
At first the two chums bound for Tillbury were only excited and pleased by the novel situation. The porter arranged their seats for them and Bess proudly produced the box of lunch she had bought at Freeling, and of which they had eaten very little.
“Tell me how smart I am, Nan Sherwood!” she cried. “Wish we had a cup of coffee apiece.”
At that very moment the porter and conductor entered the car with a steaming can of the very comforting fluid Bess had just mentioned. The porter distributed waxed paper cups from the water cooler for each passenger’s use and the conductor judiciously poured the cups half full of coffee.
“You two girls are very lucky,” he said, when he saw what was in the lunch-box. “Take care of your food supply. No knowing when we’ll get out of this drift.”
“Why, mercy!” ejaculated Bess. “I don’t know that I care to live for long on stale sandwiches and pie, washed down by the most miserable coffee I ever tasted.”
“Well, I suppose it’s better to live on this sort of food than to die on no food at all,” Nan said, laughing.
It seemed to be all a joke at first. There were only a few people in the Pullman, and everybody was cheerful and inclined to take the matter pleasantly. Being snow-bound in a train was such a novel experience that no unhappy phase of the situation deeply impressed any of the passengers’ minds.
Breakfast was meagre, it was true. The “candy butcher,” who sold popcorn and sandwiches as well, was bought out at an exorbitant price by two traveling men, who distributed what they had secured with liberal hand. Bess, more cautious than usual, hid the remains of her lunch and told Nan that it was “buried treasure.”