Little man. I wonder. One wants to, but somehow—[He shakes his head.]
American. You seem kind of skeery about that. You’ve had experience, maybe. I’m an optimist—I think we’re bound to make the devil hum in the near future. I opine we shall occasion a good deal of trouble to that old party. There’s about to be a holocaust of selfish interests. The colonel there with old-man Nietch he won’t know himself. There’s going to be a very sacred opportunity.
[As he speaks, the voice
of a railway official is heard an the
distance calling out in German. It approaches, and the words
German. [Startled] ‘Der Teufel’! [He gets up, and seizes the bag beside him.]
[The station official has appeared; he stands for a moment casting his commands at the seated group. The Dutch youth also rises, and takes his coat and hat. The official turns on his heel and retires still issuing directions.]
Englishman. What does he say?
German. Our drain has come in, de oder platform; only one minute we haf.
[All, have risen in a fluster.]
American. Now, that’s very provoking. I won’t get that flash of beer.
[There is a general scurry to gather coats and hats and wraps, during which the lowly woman is seen making desperate attempts to deal with her baby and the two large bundles. Quite defeated, she suddenly puts all down, wrings her hands, and cries out: “Herr Jesu! Hilfe!” The flying procession turn their heads at that strange cry.]
American. What’s that? Help?
[He continues to run.
The little man spins round, rushes back,
picks up baby and bundle on which it was seated.]
Little man. Come along, good woman, come along!
[The woman picks up the other bundle and they run.]
[The waiter, appearing
in the doorway with the bottle of beer,
watches with his tired smile.]
A second-class compartment of a corridor carriage, in motion. In it are seated the Englishman and his wife, opposite each other at the corridor end, she with her face to the engine, he with his back. Both are somewhat protected from the rest of the travellers by newspapers. Next to her sits the German, and opposite him sits the American; next the American in one window corner is seated the Dutch youth; the other window corner is taken by the German’s bag. The silence is only broken by the slight rushing noise of the train’s progression and the crackling of the English newspapers.
American. [Turning to the Dutch youth] Guess I’d like that window raised; it’s kind of chilly after that old run they gave us.