The puppy was ready to cuddle down in his carrier and go to sleep when he had lapped up the milk. Nan wiped his silky ears with her pocket handkerchief, and his cunning little muzzle as well, and left him with a pat to go and seek Bess.
She found her chum still talking with Mr. Snubbins in the opening between the two cars. “Oh, Nan!” cried the impulsive one, rushing to meet her chum. “What do you think?”
“On what subject, young lady—on what subject?” demanded Nan, in her most dictatorial way, and aping one of the teachers at Lakeview Hall.
“On the subject of eats!” laughed Bess.
“Oh, my dear! Don’t talk about it, please! If you drew a verbal picture of a banquet right now,” Nan declared, “I’d eat it, verb and all.”
“Do be sane and sensible,” said Bess, importantly. “We’re going out to supper. Now, wait! don’t faint, Nan. This Mr. Snubbins is a dear! Why, he is a regular angel with chin whiskers—nothing less.”
“He’s never invited us to his house for supper?”
“No. His home is too far. But he says we can come along with him to Peleg’s house and they will welcome us there. They are very hospitable people, these Mortons, so our angel says. And he and his daughter, Celia, will come back with us. And we can buy something there at the Mortons’ to help feed the hungry children aboard the train.”
That last appealed to Nan Sherwood, if nothing else did. There was but a single doubt in her mind.
“Oh, Bess!” she cried. “Do you think we ought to go? Shouldn’t we ask permission?”
“Of whom?” demanded Bess, in surprise. “Surely the train won’t steam off and leave us,” and she broke into a laugh. “Oh, come on, Miss Fussbudget! Don’t be afraid. I’ve been asking permission a dozen times a day for more than three months. I’m glad to do something ‘off my own bat,’ as my brother Billy says. Come on, Nan.”
So Nan went. They found Mr. Si Snubbins, “the angel with chin whiskers,” ready to depart. He climbed up first and got upon the crust of the snow; then he helped both girls to mount to his level. So another adventure for Nan and Bess began.
The almost level rays of a sinking sun shone upon a vast waste of white when the two girls from the snow-bound train started off with the farmer toward the only sign of life to be seen upon the landscape—a curl of blue smoke rising from a chimney of a farmhouse.
“That’s Peleg’s place,” explained Mr. Snubbins. “He’s a right well-to-do man, Peleg Morton is. We don’t mind havin’ our Celia go so much with Sallie Morton—though her mother does say that Sallie puts crazy notions into our Celia’s head. But I reckon all gals is kinder crazy, ain’t they?” pursued the farmer, with one of his sly glances and chuckles.
“Always!” agreed Bess, heartily. “Half of our girls at Lakeview Hall have to be kept in straightjackets, or padded cells.”