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About The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 30, 1899)
THE WEST BOUND TRAIN.
A Thirty Minute's Sketch for Two
Reginald Johnston, a railroad official.
Sybil Johnston, hia wife.
Messenger Boy, Western Uuion.
Scene The waiting room of the
Union Pacific depot at Cheyenne, with
clock, mirror, maps and excursion cir
culars on the walls. The window com
municating with the agent's office is
Mrs. Sybil JohnBton enters attirod in
a traveling dress. She is followed by a
messenger boy who carries a large
valise and a email dog with a chain at
tached to its collar.
Sybil: "There boy, put it down. (She
pays him.) That's all you can do for
me, so run along. (Boy scuffles toward
the door.) O boy, whore will I And the
station agent? In there? (Boy nods
and disappears.) There, now he's gone,
and how am I to Hod the agent! How
uncivil the employees on these western
lineB are! Very different from those on
my husband's road. (Looks at the
station clock.) It is almost twelve
and I don't remember at what time my
train goes. Well, I'm certainly Dot
equal to reading over those papers of
instructions that Reginald sent ' me
again. Why do all men cling to the
tradition that women can't travel alone?
I must find the agent. (She raps on tho
window communicating with tha agent's
office, but gets no response. She sits
down again, rises and begins pacing up
and down tho waiting room, stopping
occasionally to examine the maps and
excursion postera.) ' What gloomy places
these way stations are. I wish Reginald
had gotten me through transportation
from Chicago. I'll be a wreck by the
time I reach San Francisco. I almost
hope bo can't get to the station to meet
me, eo that I will have an opportunity
to got to his hotel and recover my com
posure and complexion before he Been
me. Railway travel always utterly de
stroys my temper and leaves me a fright,
and I never can get my hair to curl on a
Pullman. (She raps again on the win.
dow, gets no response and resumes her
aimless promenade up and down the
waiting room.) I wonder if he thinks I
have gone off much? There are a great
many handsome women in San Fran
ciscb, and may look different to him
after a four month's separation. (She
approaches the mirror on .the wall.) I
can't afford to go off yet awhile. If I
hadn't been more than passably good
looking, i should never have dared to
marry him, Bhould I Bijou? (She picks
up the dog.) It takes courage, sir, to
marry a man whom dozens of stunning
women have flattered and spoiled and
begged pretty to and played dead for
before, you ever got a chance at bim. It
ii a grave matter to assume the re
sponsibility of a man with a naughty
past liko that. Yot I can't blame him,
I am not sure that I am not a little bit
proud of it, in a disgusting sort of way.
Yes, 1 rather like to think he is irresis
tible. Beside it is human nature, and
ho had only to look at a woman to make
her fetch and carry and do tricks for
him. Women are such fools, but I'll
know when I see him whether any
spidery object has crossed his path. He
might lie to me, but he. could not de
ceive mo. 1 know him too well; much,
much better than he knows himself.
Then he has been so busy. Business is
a good thing tor men. If it were not
for business, women would never dare
marry at all. That was why I didn't
take Jack Van Dynne: he had nothing
I- to do but get into mischief. But Regl-,
nald is a man of affairs, he means some-
thing to the world, Let me see, it is
still twenty-oigbt hours to Ban Fran
cisco, and I har tp ajen the dear faojr
for four months. He certainly means a
groat deal to me, at all events. It's
simply disgraceful the way women do
get fond of men. And I thought I was
in love with him Itefore I married him.
What a mercy that I didn't .even know
what it moant, or I should have been as
abject as the other creatures, and then
he never would have wanted me. ,0
dearl that agent! (She raps at the win
dow again but gets no response. She
takes out a letter from her pocket book,"
and reads aloud:)
"This will land you at Cheyenne.
There go to the Union Pacific Station,
where the agent will hand you passes
over the U. P. to 'Frisco." (She shrugs
her shoulders.) O, I know all that by
heart. (Turns the page and read) on
hurriedly, her voice gradually dying
into an unintelligible murmur.) "There
is no engine on the road that will get
you here fast enough My very desire
for you teems strong enough to draw
you over the plains and across tin
Rockies and the Sierras to me here,
without the aid of such a slow contri
vance as steam, lam checking off the
days and hours until .''
(She moves her lips noiselessly, smiles
and crushes up tho letter in her hand.)
O my boy, you can't possibly Ion,; for it
as I do, you can't! Don't I know what
waiting is? Shall I ever forget that
night at Calais before we were engaged,
when I cabled you that you might
come? And I sat out on the upper
balcony of that horrid hotel in the
storm, a pitiable object, with the rain
drenching me, watching the lights of
the incoming steamers and crying from
loneliness and homesickness for you.
Ah! then I knew how much I wanttd
you, and I felt as though all my life I
had juBt been livicg in hotels and
watching the lights of other people's
ships out at sea. But mine came in at
laBt; you came to me in the morning
with the sun, such a Bun never rose
before. What a meeting that was!
And this will be almost another such.
(Whistle of a train sounds.) Heavona!
that may be my train, yes it must be my
train! It is twelve o'clock and Reginald
wrote that some train came or went at
twelve o'clock. O that agent! (She
pounds furiously on the window with
her umbrella. The window opens and
the station agent appears at the win
dow. The agent is suave, well-dressed
and talkative, somewhat patronizing.)
Agent: "Well madam?"
Sybil: "Is thatfthe westbound train
that just whistled?"
Agent: , "The through passenger, you
Sybil: "Yes, the .through passenger
for San Francisco, that's what I want,
and now I shall certainly 'misa it! I
have been rapping here for half an
hour!" (She dashes for' her valise.)
Agent: "Don't excite yourself, mad
am, the westbound passenger doesn't
leave until two o'clock."
Sybil: "Then it comes in at twelve?"
"Not until twelve forty-five."
'Then what train is there at
Agent: ' "None here, either way, that
I know of."
Sybil: "I am rure my husband wrote
me that something happened at twelve."
Agent: I'Nothiog happens at twelve
here but dinner."
Sybil: (8tiffly.) My husband, sir, is
vice-president of the C. R. Si S., and he
instructed me to call for some passes.
He doubtless will regret that I have
taken so much of your valuable time."
Agent: My time is valuable only
when I can serve you, madam, and 1
would be just as glad to be of service to
your husband's wife if he were a break
man. But there is no train out of
Cheyenne over the U." P. at twelve'
Sybil: ''But my husband wrote me
most explicit instructions.'
Agent: "Do you happen to have
them with you?''
Sybil: (She produces the letter from
her pocket book, reads, blushes, and
relaxes,) "I beg your pardon, sir, I am
very stupid, it is dinner!'' "They both
Agent: "Excuse me a minute. (He
steps back and puts on his coat. Sybil
wandors absently to the mirror and
after a quick glance back over her
shoulder gives a few toueh.es to her
hair. Agent reappear at tho window,
Sybil: "You see I have never travel
ed alone before, and my huHband felt
nervous about it, and ho wrote mo pages
and pages of instructions, so that I
would know what to do with every hour.
I am afraid I got them mixed."
Agent: ''Moft natural thing in the
world on a long jourouy with lot of
changes. You have come direct from
New York, I take It?"
Sybil. Straight through. Mercy!
That reminds., me, I ha von' t "got my
passes yel! Have you tho transporta
tion here from Cheyenne to San Fran
cisco for Mrs. S. Johnston?"
(Agent looks grave, goss back and
fumbles at the papers on his desk, re
turns to tho window with a slip of paper
in his hand.)
Agent: "We had transportation here
made out for such apemoD, but it whb
called for several hours ago."
Sybil: "Called for? Why I am Mrs.
(Agent looks interested and shakes
Agent: "Well, so was the other lady,
or she claimed to be. Here is her
Sybil: "I don't care about her re
ceipt. She is an impostor. I am Mrs.
Johnston, and you havo given my passes
to tho wrong parson."
Agent; "I don't see how that could
be, she had a letter from the Central
office apologizing for the delay in send
ing her passe?."
Sybil: (Contemptuously.) "A for
gery, of course. It doesn't take a very
long head to Bee that. Do you mean to
tell me that you gavo them up to hor
without further question?"
Agent: "Well, she wasn't exactly a
lady ono would question. Sho seemed
very much like the real thing, you know.
I beg your pardon! But I was glad
enough to give them to her. Sho ; has
been in town waiting for them several,
days, and sho called bore after every
mail and a few times between mails.
That is why you had such trouble in
raising me; I thought she had come
back from force of habit, or because
the passes were written out in violet ink
and didn't match her clothes? My wife
didn't like it; so I kept my window shut.
A man has to protect himself, in some
Sybil: "Of 'course, she wanted to get
them before I got here. Any one could
have seeu that. And now what am I to
Agent: "Well, the lady is still in
town, she can't get away before the
two o'clock tralu. You might et hoi'.
She is just across tho otrcct, at tho In
ter Ocean hotel."
Sybil: "See her? Why should I?
No indued! That is your business, sir.
You made the mistako and you must
Agent: "But how am I to convince
her that I have made any mistake?
She has an autograph letter from the
Central office and amplo indentification,
while you have shown mo none as yet,"
Sybil: (Icily.) "Here is my card, sir.
You must pardon the oversight as I am
not accustomed to having my word
Agent: "She said exactly the same
thing, and in the same tone. Now don't
misunderstand me, Mrs. Johnston, I
believe your claim Is all right, but my
opinion doesn't go with the road. I
must have tangible proof to start to
looking the matter up on. And I am
afraid your card won't do. Have -ti
checks for your baggage?" (Sho p o
duces them.) "Thank you, Excuse n..
a moment. (Ho disappears and Sybil
paco3 the floor distractedly.)
Sybil: "What am I to do? If I tele
graph Reginald he may be in Los An
geles, and besides I couldn't get an
answer be.'oro the train goes. What a
blockhead this agent is! And at first 1
thought him rather nice. Tho idea of
giving my passes to .tho first imposter
that comes along , and tnon" coolly pro
posing that I trot after hor. What
western men lack In manners they make
up In assurance This would novcr
havo happened on an oaBtnrn road.
Reggie must have this fellow called
(Agent roturnB and throws chocks on
Agent: Theso chocks claim three
tru'nkp, all marked Sybil Ingrahame."
Sybil: "Certainly, my maiden name.
They or a my old truvellng trunks. O
dear, how unfortunate! I suppose you
think me tho adventuress! Perhaps
you contemplate having mo arrested!"
Agont: "Madam, I have fur more
eoriouB matters to contemplate. I have
implicit faith in you, but I can't do
much for jou on faith; and I certainly
can't acco6t that imposing personage at
the Inter Ocean House without some
sort of evidence. I really want to help
you if I can, eo let's see what can . be
done. I will be busy with the east
bound passenger pretty soon. You said
you had a letter from your husband,
Sybil: (Eagerly.) "To be sure!
Hero it in, he is very definite." (She
reads,) "This will land you atOhyenne,
there go to the Union Pacific station
where the agent will hand you look
there, read for yourself." (Agent ex
amines letter and hands it back, shak
ing his head.)
Agent: "Yes, I understand, but this
letter Is addressed to sweetheart and is
signed 'Your boy, Roggie.' I am afraid
no road would honor that signature."
Sybil: (Indignantly) I didn't sup
pose you would foel at liberty to read
the whole lotter. and your jokes are in
very bad taste, sir. My husband will
roport your conduct to headquarters,
and have this matter looked into.
Agent: Then I wish he would go
about it now, fur I don't know how to.
I'll wire the Omaha office and see if they
had orders to issue passes for two 'Mrs.
Johnstons, la the meantime I Owoiild
advise you to see tho other woVen, or
you might send a note to her.' '
Sybil:' "Well, if you will kindly call
a boy I eupposo I can do that." (Agent
puts stationary on -the window shelf.
' He goes to tho telegraph instrument and
begloB to send a message.) '
Sybil: -"Will you let me see that re
ceipt a moment? I want to see whether
tho creature claims to have a flrat name."
(He hands it to. her.) "Why this is
signed Mrs. S. Johnson, J-O-H-N-S-0 N,
without the T. Weil, she is stupid! So
loug ttajalie in appropriating other people's
passes and names she needn't quibble
at a single letter. She might just as
well have taken the T along with the
rest of it, and I shall' not herniate to tell
her so." (Sho writes furiously.)
(Messenger boy comes in. Sybil gives
him the letter). "There, get that over
to, the Inter Ocean House, and bring me
an anawer at ones."
Boy: "Yes'm." (He goes out.)
(Agent comes to the window again
Agent: "And while you are waiting;,
Mrs. Johnston, can't I send out and get
some lunch for you?" '
Sybil: (Stiffly) "Thank you, I don't
care for anything. But my little dog,
Bijou, has had nothing since morning.'
I think I must go out and try and find
somomilk for him."
Agent: "Oh you never mind that!
One of my boys will get Bijou's milk for
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