Jerk, jerk, jolt and jump went the train around the mountain curves, till the various hats and wraps suspended from the hooks seemed about to tumble together. Suddenly something dropped through the curtains of the upper berth opposite and lodged there. Involuntarily extending his arm to catch it if it fell, our young traveler’s eyes were riveted upon an object which he now felt inclined to catch, whether it fell or not. It was a small white shapely hand—a woman’s hand; and the midnight tresspasser would have been less than human if he had not risen to a better view. There it was, just peeping between the heavy curtains, white and blue-veined, with tapering fingers and shell-like nails. How he longed to touch it! How tempting the rounded curve of the small wrist.
A prolonged lunge threw him violently forward, when grasping the rod to save himself, his lips went plump against the coveted object. It was only momentary, but it thrilled him as with an electric shock. When he recovered his equilibrium the fair sleeper had withdrawn entirely out of sight, and her involuntary assailant addressed himself to the duty of disrobing. Long he pondered upon the “touch of a vanished hand,” and at last fell into uneasy dreams wherein the world had come to an end, and he found himself at the gates of heaven, with five soft white fingers turning the key on the other side.
“Last call for breakfast,” shouted the porter next morning, and the confusion of voices mingled with the noisy folding of vacated berths.
Parting his curtains, Hervey Leslie peered out, possibly to catch a morning view of the pretty hand.
“By Jove! better still!” was his smothered comment, as he hastily turned away.
What he had seen was the perfection of a French boot, buttoned high, and protruding modestly below the curtains. Then a soft voice called—“Porter, I should like to get down.”
The steps were adjusted, and as she gently fluttered down, the listener thought—
“What a shame I didn’t have a chance to exchange berths with her! To think of her being perched up there!”
An hour later Leslie returned from his cigar to find the Pullman in order, and the refreshed occupants enjoying the books and papers scattered about. It was not possible to mistake the owner of the hand and foot, whom a glance revealed in her corner, looking quietly upon the hurrying villages and farms. A coquettish hat rested lightly upon a fluffy mass of golden brown hair, a dainty tailored suit fitted closely the rounded figure, and the face that looked out of the window was sweet and bright even in repose. The coveted hand, in spotless kid, shielded the earnest eyes from the glare of the morning sun, and all in all, the picture was one to tempt any looker-on.
Just as Hervey Leslie was puzzling his brain for a pretext, however flimsy, to introduce himself, a lady came from the dressing-room and sat down beside the beautiful unknown—a lady still young and handsome, and so closely resembling the girl as to leave no doubt that they were mother and daughter.