Betty Wales, pink-cheeked and breathless, her yellow curls flying under her dainty lingerie hat, and her crisp white skirts held high to escape the dust of the station platform, sank down beside Rachel on a steamer trunk that the Harding baggage-men had been too busy or too accommodating to move away, and began to fan herself vigorously with a very small and filmy handkerchief.
I could give the baggage-men on the trains from twenty-five to fifty cents each time I made a trip and when I arrived at my destination it would be thrown off with my trunks. I was thereafter troubled no more with the annoyance of procuring a suitable conveyance to sell from.
"And if you don't let me stand here and give my frank, unbiased opinion of this road, its president, board of directors, stockholders, baggage-men, Pullman porters, and other things thereto appertaining, I'll probably have hysterics." "Give it," said the baggage-master." You'll feel better. And we're used to it." She gave it. When she had finished: "Did you say you was selling goods on the road?
With a stammered apology and a flustered lifting of his hat he backed away. But where was Billy? William looked about him in helpless dismay. All around was a wide, empty space. The long aisle to the Hampden Falls train was deserted save for the baggage-men loading the trunks and bags on to their trucks.
"Ah, then," said the Altrurian, "I suppose this particular road is too poor to employ more baggage-men or build new stations; they seemed rather shabby all the way up." "Well, no," I was obliged to confess, "it's one of the richest roads in the country. The stock stands at about 180.
And to tell the truth, there is something very inspiring in the fine eagerness with which all the passengers rise as soon as the locomotive begins to slow, and huddle forward to the door, in their impatience to get out; while the suppressed vehemence of the hackmen is also thrilling in its way, not to mention the instant clamor of the baggage-men as they read and repeat the numbers of the checks in strident tones.
The man, somewhat piqued at the spirit in which his overtures were met, left him, and Luther stepped on to the platform. There was a long vista of semi-light, down which crowds of people walked and baggage-men rushed. The building, if it deserved the name, seemed a ruin, and through the arched doors Luther could see men hackmen-dancing and howling like dervishes.
The bells of several locomotives were ringing, a number of trains were moving in and out, and the porters and baggage-men were screaming and bawling to such an extent that for several moments Miss Huntingdon was considerably confused; so much so that she paused in the hope that her brother would suddenly appear and rescue her from the smoke, and dust, and din.
"Huh!" said Del Mar a little later to Michael, having strolled down the platform to where the crate was piled on a truck with other baggage destined for the train. "Got your foot smashed. Well, it'll teach you a lesson to keep your feet inside." "That claw is a goner," one of the station baggage-men said, straightening up from an examination of Michael through the bars.