The train left the depot and hurried away over the road which Bressant had just traversed in the opposite direction. He sat with his arms folded, appearing to take no notice of any thing, and his neighbor with the wig read the latest edition of a New-York paper with stern attention, occasionally altering the position of his stove-pipe hat on his head. By-and-by, the conductor, a small, precise man, with a dark-blue coat, cap to match, a neatly-trimmed sandy beard, shaved upper lip, and an utterance as distinct and clippy as the holes his steel punch made in the tickets, came along upon his rounds.
Bressant put his hands into his pockets, and discovered, with some consternation, that he had but a comparatively small amount of money left; his newly-accepted poverty was certainly losing no time in making itself felt. However, such as it was, he handed it to the conductor, and inquired how near it would take him to his proposed destination.
“Eighty-one miles, rail,” responded the official, as he took and clipped the ticket of the gentleman with the newspaper; “comes shorter by road, seventy-four to seventy-five,” and he proceeded down the aisle, snapping up tickets on one side or the other, as a hen does grains of corn.
Bressant covered his eyes with his hand, and amused himself by performing a little sum in mental arithmetic. The amount of money he had given the conductor represented a distance which it would take a certain length of time—say four hours—to traverse. It was now four o’clock in the afternoon, and consequently would be eight before that distance was accomplished. From eight o’clock Saturday night, till twelve o’clock Sunday noon, was sixteen hours, and in sixteen hours he must travel, on foot, and through the snow, seventy-five miles of unknown roads.
“Four and a half miles an hour, and nothing to eat since breakfast,” said Bressant to himself. He took his hand from his eyes, and passed it down his face to his beard, which he twisted and turned unmercifully. “It’s lucky it isn’t any more,” remarked he, philosophically.
In the course of half an hour or so, the straight-mouthed gentleman, having finished the last column of his paper, folded it up into the smallest possible compass, and handed it politely to Bressant. The latter accepted it abstractedly, and, opening one fold, read the first paragraph which presented itself, his interest increasing as he proceeded. It was in the column of latest local news, and, after bewailing, in choice language, the frightful prevalence, even among the highest aristocracy, of opium-eating and kindred indulgences, it went on to particularize the sad case of an esteemed lady, of great wealth and high connections, widow of a scion of one of our oldest families, who, having unwisely yielded herself, during many years past, to an inordinate use of morphine, as an antidote to nervous disorder, had, on the previous evening, in a temporary