I have not written much for publication lately, because I did not feel well, I was fatigued. I took a ride on the cars last week and it shook me up a good deal.
The train was crowded somewhat, and so I sat in a seat with a woman who got aboard at Minkin’s Siding. I noticed as we pulled out of Minkin’s Siding, that this woman raised the window so that she could bid adieu to a man in a dyed moustache. I do not know whether he was her dolce far niente, or her grandson by her second husband. I know that if he had been a relative of mine, however, I would have cheerfully concealed the fact.
She waved a little 2×6 handkerchief out of the window, said “good-bye,” allowed a fresh zephyr from Cape Sabine to come in and play a xylophone interlude on my spinal column, and then burst into a paroxysm of damp, hot tears.
I had to go into another car for a moment, and when I returned a pugilist from Chicago had my seat. When I travel I am uniformly courteous, especially to pugilists. A pugilist who has started out as an obscure boy with no money, no friends, and no one to practice on, except his wife or his mother, with no capital aside from his bare hands; a man who has had to fight his way through life, as it were, and yet who has come out of obscurity and attracted the attention of the authorities, and won the good will of those with whom he came in contact, will always find me cordial and pacific. So I allowed this self-made man with the broad, high, intellectual shoulder blades, to sit in my seat with his feet on my new and expensive traveling bag, while I sat with the tear-bedewed memento from Minkin’s Siding.
She sobbed several more times, then hove a sigh that rattled the windows in the car, and sat up. I asked her if I might sit by her side for a few miles and share her great sorrow. She looked at me askance. I did not resent it. She allowed me to take the seat, and I looked at a paper for a few moments so that she could look me over through the corners of her eyes. I also scrutinized her lineaments some.
She was dressed up considerably, and, when a woman dresses up to ride in a railway train, she advertises the fact that her intellect is beginning to totter on its throne. People who have more than one suit of clothes should not pick out the fine raiment for traveling purposes. This person was not handsomely dressed, but she had the kind of clothes that look as though they had tried to present the appearance of affluence and had failed to do so.
This leads me to say, in all seriousness, that there is nothing so sad as the sight of a man or woman who would scorn to tell a wrong story, but who will persist in wearing bogus clothes and bogus jewelry that wouldn’t fool anybody.
My seat-mate wore a cloak that had started out to bamboozle the American people with the idea that it was worth $100, but it wouldn’t mislead anyone who might be nearer than half a mile. I also discovered, that it had an air about it that would indicate that she wore it while she cooked the pancakes and fried the doughnuts. It hardly seems possible that she would do this, but the garment, I say, had that air about it.
She seemed to want to converse after awhile, and she began on the subject of literature, picking up a volume that had been left in her seat by the train boy, entitled: “Shadowed to Skowhegan and Back; or, The Child Fiend; price $2,” we drifted on pleasantly into the broad domain of letters.