“Oh, that’s not the worst,” cried Bess, suddenly. “Oh, Nan!” and she clasped her gloved hands tragically.
“What is it now?” asked her chum.
“The poor little dog! He won’t have even railroad pie to eat.”
“What dog is this?” demanded the conductor.
“Oh!” cried Nan. “Are you Mr. Carter?”
“Yes, I am, Miss. But this dog?”
“Is in the baggage car,” Nan said eagerly. “And he’s so cold and hungry and lonesome. He’s just crying his heart out.”
“Won’t you let us take him into our car where it is warmer and take care of him?”
“That nuisance of a pup?” demanded the conductor, yet with twinkling eyes that belied his gruffness. “I know he’s yapping his little head off.”
“Then let us have him, sir, do!” begged Nan earnestly.
“Take him into the Pullman, you mean?”
“Yes, sir, we’ll take the best care of him,” promised Nan.
“Against the rules!” declared the conductor, briskly.
“But rules ought to be broken at times,” urged Nan. “For instance, can’t they be relaxed when folks are cast away on desert islands?”
“Oh, ho!” chuckled the conductor. “I see the point, Miss. But the captain of the ship must maintain discipline, just the same, on the desert island as aboard ship.”
“I s’pose you’ve got to enforce the rule against passengers riding on the platform, too, even if we are stuck in a snowdrift?” Bess said a little crossly. They had come out into the vestibule, and she was cold.
The conductor broke into open laughter at this; but Nan was serious.
“Suppose anything happens to the poor little fellow?” she fumed. “He may get cold. And he certainly will starve.”
“Have you anything more in the line of food to give away?” demanded the conductor.
“Not a crumb,” sighed Bess. “By the time the cannibals arrive at this desert island we’ll all be too thin to tempt them to a banquet.”
“But there may be something on the train with which to feed that poor doggie,” insisted Nan.
“If you mean in the crew’s kettles,” said the conductor, “I can assure you, young lady, there is nothing. This crew usually eats at the end of the division. It’s not like a freight train crew. We’d be a whole lot better off right now,” added the conductor, reflectively, “if we had a caboose attached to the end of this train. We’d stand a chance of rustling up some grub for all these hungry people.”
“Oh, dear!” gasped Bess. “Do you s’pose we’re going to be hungry long?”
“They say one doesn’t notice it much after about eight days,” her chum said, chuckling.
“Ugh!” shivered Bess, “I don’t much care for your kind of humor, Nan Sherwood.”
The conductor suddenly glanced at Nan more keenly and asked, “Are you Nancy Sherwood, Miss?”
“Why, yes, sir.”
“And you go to school somewhere upon the shore of Lake Huron?” he pursued.