The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, September 30, 1899, Page 3, Image 3
THE COURIER. THE WEST BOUND TRAIN. A Thirty Minute's Sketch for Two People. Pereons Concerned: Reginald Johnston, a railroad official. Sybil Johnston, hia wife. Station Agent. 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 shut. 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 mean?" 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: Sybil: twelve?'' 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' o!plook." 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 laugh.) r-"" 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. Johnston!'' (Agent looks interested and shakes bis head.)- Agent: "Well, so was the other lady, or she claimed to be. Here is her receipt." 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 way." - Sybil: "Of 'course, she wanted to get them before I got here. Any one could have seeu that. And now what am I to do?" 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 rectify it." 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 questioned." 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 down." (Agent roturnB and throws chocks on window shelf.) 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, didn't you?" 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 He speaks:) 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 "