“I told you”—said Anderson—“that you would be passed over first.” He pointed to two other trains in front that had been shunted to make room for them.
Elizabeth turned to him a little proudly.
“But I should like to say—it’s not for our own sakes—not in the least!—it is for my father, that they are so polite to us.”
“I know—of course I know!” was the quick response. “I have been talking to some of our staff,” he went on, smiling. “They would do anything for you. Perhaps you don’t understand. You are the guests of the railway. And I too belong to the railway. I am a very humble person, but—”
“You also would do anything for us?” asked Elizabeth, with her soft laugh. “How kind you all are!”
She looked charming as she said it—her face and head lit up by the line of flaring lights through which they were slowly passing. The line was crowded with dark-faced navvies, watching the passage of the train as it crept forward.
One of the officials in command leapt up on the platform of the car, and introduced himself. He was worn out with the day’s labour, but triumphant. “It’s all right now—but, my word! the stuff we’ve thrown in!—”
He and Anderson began some rapid technical talk. Slowly, they passed over the quicksand which in the morning had engulfed half a train; amid the flare of torches, and the murmur of strange speech, from the Galician and Italian labourers, who rested on their picks and stared and laughed, as they went safely by.
“How I love adventures!” cried Elizabeth, clasping her hands.
“Even little ones?” said the Canadian, smiling. But this time she was not conscious of any note of irony in his manner, rather of a kind protectingness—more pronounced, perhaps, than it would have been in an Englishman, at the same stage of acquaintance. But Elizabeth liked it; she liked, too, the fine bare head that the torchlight revealed; and the general impression of varied life that the man’s personality produced upon her. Her sympathies, her imagination were all trembling towards the Canadians, no less than towards their country.
“Mr. Delaine, sir?”
The gentleman so addressed turned to see the substantial form of Simpson at his elbow. They were both standing in the spacious hall of the C.P.R. Hotel adjoining the station at Winnipeg.
“Her ladyship, sir, asked me to tell you she would be down directly. And would you please wait for her, and take her to see the place where the emigrants come. She doesn’t think Mr. Gaddesden will be down till luncheon-time.”
Arthur Delaine thanked the speaker for her information, and then sat down in a comfortable corner, Times in hand, to wait for Lady Merton.
She and her brother had arrived, he understood, in the early hours at Winnipeg, after the agitations and perils of the sink-hole. Philip had gone at once to bed and to slumber. Lady Merton would soon, it seemed, be ready for anything that Winnipeg might have to show her.