“Why, yes, sir.”
“We go to Lakeview Hall. And we know Linda Riggs,” blurted out Bess, remembering what the baggage-man had advised them to say to the conductor.
“Oh, indeed?” said Mr. Carter; but his interest remained fixed on Nan. “You didn’t go to school last September over this division, did you?” he asked.
“No, sir. We went from Chicago,” replied the wondering Nan.
“Your train was broke in two at the Junction to put in a car?”
“And what did you do at the Junction?” asked the conductor, quickly.
“Oh, I know!” cried Bess, as her chum hesitated. “She got off the train and killed a big rattlesnake that was just going to bite a little girl—yes, you did, Nan Sherwood!”
“You’re the girl, Miss!” declared Mr. Carter, drawing out his notebook and pencil. “There have been some inquiries made for you.”
“Mercy!” ejaculated Nan. “I don’t want to hear anything more about that old snake.”
The conductor laughed. “I fancy you won’t hear anything unpleasant about the snake,” he said. “Where do you live, Nancy Sherwood?”
“I live at Tillbury,” Nan said. “But I sha’n’t be home much this vacation.”
“Where will you be, then, about the first of the year?”
“I’ll tell you,” Bess cried briskly, and she gave Mr. Carter Mr. Mason’s address in Chicago.
The conductor wrote it down carefully in his notebook. Nan was impatient.
“Can’t you find something among the express packages to help us out, sir?” she asked. “Canned goods. For instance, a case of canned milk?”
“We’ll see, Miss,” said the conductor, starting forward again. “At any rate, I’ll let you two girls have the dog.”
THE FAT MAN INTERPOSES
The people in the Pullman car, who were much more comfortably situated than those in the smoking car, or than the crew of the train hived up in the first baggage coach, were beginning to complain a good deal now. The colored porter, with rolling eyes and appealing gestures, met the conductor and the two girls.
“Ah kyan’t stan’ this no longer, Mistah Ca’tah,” he almost sobbed. “Da’s sumpin’ got t’ be did fo’ all dese starbin white ladies an’ gemmen—ya-as sah! Dey is jes’ about drivin’ me mad. I kyan’t stan’ it.”
“What can’t you stand, Nicodemus?” demanded Mr. Carter, good-naturedly.
“Dey is a-groanin’ an’ a-takin’ on powerful bad ’cause dey ain’t no dining kyar cotched up wid us yet.”
“Dining car caught up with us?” gasped Nan and Bess together.
“What sort of a yarn have you been giving these passengers, Nick?” demanded the conductor.
“Well, Ah jes’ done got t’ tell ’em sumpin’ t’ pacify ’em,” whispered the darkey. “No use lettin’ ’em think dey gwyne t’ starb t’ death. Ah tell ‘em yo’ done sent back t’ de Junction for a car-load ob eats an’ dat it’s expected t’ arrive any hour. Ya-as, sah!”