“Why, you atrocious falsifier!” ejaculated Mr. Carter.
“Wot! me?” exclaimed the porter. “No, sah! Ah ain’t nottin’ like dat—no, sah! Ah reckon Ah done save dat little man’s life. Yo’ know, dat little drummer wot’s trabelin’ wid de big man. Dey was castin’ lots t’ see which one should be kilt fo’ to be et by de odder—”
“Oh, mercy!” screamed Bess, and stuffed her handkerchief into her mouth.
“Ya-as, indeedy, Miss! Dey was gettin’ mighty desprit. An de big feller, he says, ‘Hit don’t much matter which way de dice falls, I’m de bigges’ an’ I certainly kin holt ma own wid a little runt like you!’ He says jes’ lak’ dat to his friend, de littles’ feller.”
Nan and Bess both hid their faces behind Mr. Carter’s broad back.
“Ah got nerbous,” pursued the darkey. “Dat big man looked lak’ he was jes’ going t’ start right in on his fren’. An’ de luck turns his way, anyhow, and de lil’ feller loses. ‘I gibs yo’ ’twill six-thirty to-night,’ de big man says. ‘Dat’s ma reg’lar dinner hour, an’ I’m moughty savage ef I go much over ma dinner time.’
“Golly, boss!” added the porter, “Ah jes’ ‘bleeged tun say sumpin’, an Ah tells ’em de dinin’ kyar’ll sho’ly obertake us fo’ six-thirty. Ya’as, indeedy. An’ den, dar’s dat lady up dar wid de sour-vinegary sort o’ face. Ah jes’ heard her say she’d be fo’ced tuh eat her back-comb if she didn’t have her lunch pu’ty soon. A’ yo’ knows, Mistah Ca’tah, no lady’s indigestion is a-gwine tuh stan’ up under no sech fodder as dat.”
“You old silly!” ejaculated the conductor. “These people have been fooling you. I’ll separate those two drummers so that they won’t eat each other—or concoct any more stories with which to worry you, Nick. Come on, young ladies. We’ll see about that dog.”
“And look through the express matter—do!” begged Nan.
“Surely will,” replied the conductor. “But I expect we’ll have to tie and muzzle the express messenger.”
Bess thought this funny, too, and she giggled again. In fact, Nan declared her chum had a bad case of the “giggles” and begged her to behave herself.
“I don’t believe that castaways set out to explore their island for food in any such light-minded manner as you display, Elizabeth,” Nan observed.
“Oh, dear! I can’t help it,” Bess gasped. “That darkey is so funny. He’s just as innocent as—as—”
“The man, Friday,” finished Nan.
“Goody! that’s who he is,” agreed Bess. “He’s Friday. Oh! if Laura Polk were only here, wouldn’t she have lots of fun with him?”
“Seems as though those two drummers were bothering poor Friday quite enough.”
They heard the little spaniel yelping the moment they opened the baggage car door.
“The poor ’ittle sing!” cooed Bess, running to the corner where the puppy was imprisoned. “Oh! how cold it is in here. It would be a little icicle, so it would be, in a little while.”