“Right here, Boss. Climb up on these little steps and then hand me down your shoes. Soft now; I think the lady am asleep.”
“Good night, and I’m not nervous,” I heard a laugh of mischief come from behind a second and short green curtain, that veils the lower of the sleeping shelves, just as I fell onto my shelf above and lay with a panting of relief.
THE IMPOSSIBLE UNCLE ROBERT
“Robert,” I made remark to myself after I had with difficulty removed the tweed coat and the tweed trousers and neatly folded them against ugly wrinkles of to-morrow, “you must become a sport and not climb down there and tell that other woman the truth of your lady’s estate and ask her to comfort you with affection. You were born a daredevil and you must remember those two Indians and a bear that the Grandmamma Madam Donaldson murdered for safety for herself and her children. That Mr. G. Slade is just one bear and he’s not as dangerous to you as if you wore ‘skirts’ anyway. And, also, if you are brave and propitiate the wicked Uncle, in just a few months you can travel to where the lovely lady with the blue flower eyes resides, of whom in the morning you must get the address of home, and can then make confession to her and know the joy of having her sisterly embraces that seem of so much sweetness to you now.
“But suppose it is that she arises in the night and leaves the train for her home!” I said to myself as I suddenly sat up in the dark and precipitated my head against the roof of the sleeping shelf.
“I will call down to her and ask the one simple question,” I made answer to myself. Then I reached down my head over the edge of my shelf and called very softly:
“Yes?” came a soft question in answer and I felt that she arose and brought her beautiful head which had the odor of violets in the waves so heavy and black, up very near to mine. I could feel a comfort from her breath on my cheek.
“I am in fear, Madam, that you should leave the train before I am awake,” I said in a voice under my breath. “I do not want that I lose you into this great America.”
“Oh, I’m not easily lost.”
“I am desolated with loneliness and I must know where it is that you leave the train, immediately, so that I may sleep.”
“At Hayesville, Harpeth, you ridiculous boy. Now don’t disturb me again. Go to sleep.”
As I sank back on my pillow, happy with a great relief, I thought I heard two laughs in the darkness, one in a tone of silver from beneath me and one of the sound of a choke from opposite me where was reposed that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit.
“It is a good chance for you, Robert, that you go to sleep your first night in America with the sound of a nice laugh from two persons of kindness towards you, one of whom is to be with you for a friend in the same—what was it the gray lady with the pencil and paper called it?—’tall timbers of Old Harpeth’ where all is of such strangeness to you.” And with this remark to myself I fell asleep, “as is,” I think it was that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit called my state of not being disrobed further than trousers and coat.