Herbert stopped overnight at Columbus.
The first train eastward left Columbus at seven o’clock in the morning. It was Herbert’s intention to take this train, but unfortunately, as he thought at the time, the clock at the hotel by which his movements were guided was ten minutes too slow. The consequence was, that before he had quite reached the depot he saw the cars going out at the other end. He ran as fast as possible, hoping still to make up for lost time, but it was in vain.
“You’re too late, youngster,” said a porter, who had been assisting to stow away baggage. “You’ll have to wait till the next train.”
“When does the next train start?” asked our hero.
“Then I shall have to wait till that time,” Herbert concluded, with regret.
Yet, as he directly afterwards thought, it could make no particular difference, since he had no stated engagement to meet, and this consideration enabled him to bear the inevitable delay with a better grace.
“I suppose,” he reflected, “I might as well go back to the hotel.”
He turned to leave the building when a carriage drove hastily up to the station. It was drawn by two horses, and driven by a negro in livery. A lady put her head out of the window and inquired anxiously if the train had started. She addressed this question to Herbert, who happened to be nearest.
“Yes, madam,” he answered, respectfully.
“I am so sorry,” said the lady, in a tone of vexation and perplexity. “It was very important that my father should take that train.”
“There is another train that starts at twelve,” said Herbert. “It will make a difference of a few hours only.”
“Yes,” said the lady, “but you do not understand my difficulty. The few hours’ difference in time would be of small importance, but my father is blind, and is, of course, for that reason, dependent upon the kindness of others. A gentleman of our acquaintance was going by this train, who would have taken charge of him and seen him safe to his destination. By losing the train we lose his services.”
“My dear,” said an elderly gentleman, sitting on the opposite seat, “if I can get somebody to see me on board, I think I can manage very well.”
“On no account, father,” was the hasty reply, “particularly under present circumstances.”
“Where is the gentleman going?” asked Herbert, with interest.
“I am going on to New York,” said our hero. “I have been disappointed like you. I expected to take the early train.”
“Do you intend to go by the next train, then?” asked the lady.
“Then, perhaps—I have a great mind to ask you to take charge of my father.”
“I shall be very glad to be of service to you,” said Herbert. “There is only one objection,” he added, with some embarrassment.