The conductor, you see, was explaining that he would have to pay the fare to North Philadelphia and then take the first train back from there to Newark.
We feared, for a few minutes, that it really would be a case for a chirurgeon, with cupping and leeching and smelling salts. Our rotund friend was in a bad way. His heart, plainly, was broken. From his right-hand trouser emerged a green roll. With delicate speed and tact the conductor hastened this tragic part of the performance. His silver punch flashed in his hand as he made change, issued a cash slip, and noted the name and address of the victim, for some possible future restitution, we surmised, or perhaps only as a generous anaesthetic.
The stout man sat down a few seats in front of us and we studied his back. We have never seen a more convincing display of chagrin. With a sombre introspective stare he gazed glassily before him. We never saw any one show less enthusiasm for the scenery. The train flashed busily along through the level green meadows, which blended exactly with the green plush of the seats, but our friend was lost in a gruesome trance. Even his cigar (long since gone out) was still, save for an occasional quiver.
The conductor came to our seat, looking, good man, faintly stern and sad, like a good parent who has had, regretfully, to chastise an erring urchin.
“Well,” we said, “the next time that chap gets on a train he’ll take care to find out where it stops.”
The conductor smiled, but a humane, understanding smile. “I try to be fair with ’em,” he said.
“I think you were a wonder,” we said.
By the time we reached North Philadelphia the soothing hand of Time had exerted some of its consolation. The stout man wore a faintly sheepish smile as he rose to escape. The brakeman was in the vestibule. He, younger than the conductor, was no less kind, but we would hazard that he is not quite as resigned to mortal error and distress. He spoke genially, but there was a note of honest rebuke in his farewell.
“The next time you get on a train,” he said, “watch your stop.”
OUR TRICOLOUR TIE
We went up to the composing room just now to consult our privy counsellor, Peter Augsberger, the make-up man, and after Peter had told us about his corn——
It is really astonishing, by the way, how many gardeners there are in a newspaper office. We once worked in a place where a horticultural magazine and a beautiful journal of rustic life were published, and the delightful people who edited those magazines were really men about town; but here in the teeming city and in the very node of urban affairs, to wit, the composing room, one hears nought but merry gossip about gardens, and the great and good men by whom we are surrounded begin their day by gazing tenderly upon jars full