He was nearly alone in the car, and would probably continue to be for an hour or so at least. He reversed the seat in front of him, and put up his feet, leaving the telegraph-wires to scud and dodge unnoticed. He fixed his eyes upon the sweltering stove in the farther corner of the car. There was a roaring fire within, as he could tell by the vivid red that glowed through the draught-holes beneath the door, and showed here and there along the cracks. The sides of the car against which the stove stood was protected with zinc; a number of short sticks of wood were piled beside it, ready to replenish the fire, and some of them were already smoking a little, as if in anticipation. Presently the brakeman came in, with a flurry of cold air, his neck and head rolled up in a dirty-brown knit woolen tippet, and clumsy gloves on his hands. He took the poker, and opened the stove-door with it, peeped into the red-hot interior a moment, grasped a solid chunk of wood from the pile, and popped it in cleverly; then he stood for a moment, patting the stove with his gloved hands, to warm them, till, in response to the whistle, he dashed out, slamming the doors as only car-doors can be made to slam, and Bressant could dimly distinguish him, through the frosted window, working away at the brake.
They drew up, with much squeaking and grating, at a small, snuff-colored, clap-boarded depot, where a boy, about sixteen, with a big green carpet-bag, kissed an elderly lady in a black hood, who was evidently his mother, and jumped aboard with his bag, in a great hurry, lest she should behold the tears in his eyes. He entered the car in which Bressant sat, and established himself and his bag on the seat immediately in front of that upon which the former’s feet were resting.
The snuff-colored station and the woman in the black hood slipped away, and were seen no more. The boy, after scratching a peep-hole through the frost-work on his window, and taking a last survey through it of the snow-covered fields he was leaving, produced a large blue-spotted handkerchief from the pocket of his trousers, and retired with it into the privacy of his own feelings.