“Ya-as,” said Si Snubbins, sorrowfully. “Poor Sukey! She never knew what hit her.”
“But the claim agent knew what hit the road when you put in your claim. That old cow wasn’t worth more than ten dollars and you demanded fifty. Don’t raise the tariff on this milk proportionately, for I’m sure the agent will not allow the claim.”
Mr. Snubbins grinned and chuckled.
“I’ll run my risk—I’ll run my risk,” he responded. “You kin have the milk for nawthin’, if ye want it so bad. Bein’ here all night, I expect ye be purty sharp-set, the whole on ye.”
Mr. Carter had picked up the cans and had gone forward to have the milk thawed out at the boiler fire. Some of the brakemen had cleared away the snow by now and there was an open passage to the outside world. The keen kind blew in, and the pale, wintry sunshine lighted the space between the baggage cars. Mr. Snubbins grinned in his friendly way at the two girls.
“I reckon you gals,” he said, “would just like to be over to my house where my woman could fry you a mess of flap-jacks. How’s that?”
“Oh, don’t mention it!” groaned Bess.
“Is your house near?” asked Nan.
“Peleg’s the nighest. ‘Tain’t so fur. And when ye git out on top o’ the snow, the top’s purty hard. It blew so toward the end of that blizzard that the drifts air packed good.”
“Yet you broke through,” Bess said.
“Right here, I did, for a fac’” chuckled the farmer. “But it’s warm down here and it made the snow soft.”
“Of course!” cried Nan Sherwood. “The stale air from the cars would naturally make the roof of the tunnel soft.”
“My goodness! Can’t you see the train at all from up there?” Bess demanded. “Is it all covered up?”
“I reckon the ingin’s out o’ the snow. She’s steamin’ and of course she’d melt the snow about her boiler and stack,” the farmer said. “But I didn’t look that way.”
“Say!” demanded Bess, with some eagerness. “Is that Peleg’s house near?”
“Peleg Morton? Why, ’tain’t much farther than ye kin hear a pig’s whisper,” said Mr. Snubbins. “I’m goin’ right there, myself. My woman wants ter know is Celia all right. She’s some worrited, ’cause Celia went over to visit Peleg’s gal airly yesterday mornin’ an’ we ain’t seen Celia since.”
Mr. Carter came back with one of the brakemen just then, bearing a can of milk. The kindly conductor had found a tin plate, too—a section of the fireman’s dinner kettle—and into this he poured some of the milk for the hungry little spaniel.
“There you are, Buster,” he said, patting the dog, beside which Nan knelt to watch the process of consumption—for the puppy was so hungry that he tried to get nose, ears and fore-paws right in the dish!
“You’re awfully kind,” Nan said to Mr. Carter. “Now the little fellow will be all right.”
“You better get him out of the way of that fat man,” advised the conductor. “He owns the dog, you know. Bulson, I mean. He’s forward in the other car, gourmandizing himself on a jar of condensed milk. I let him have one can; but I’m going to hold the rest against emergency. Now that the snow has stopped falling,” he added cheerfully, as he passed on, “they ought to get help to us pretty soon.”