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A Stop-Over At Tyre
by [?]


Albert Lohr was studying the motion of the ropes and lamps, and listening to the rumble of the wheels and the roar of the ferocious wind against the pane of glass that his head touched. It was the midnight train from Marion rushing toward Warsaw like some savage thing unchained, creaking, shrieking, and clattering through the wild storm which possessed the whole Mississippi Valley.

Albert lost sight of the lamps at last, and began to wonder what his future would be. “First I must go through the university at Madison; then I’ll study law, go into politics, and perhaps some time I may go to Washington.”

In imagination he saw that wonderful city. As a Western boy, Boston to him was historic, New York was the great metropolis, but Washington was the great American city, and political greatness the only fame.

The car was nearly empty: save here and there the wide-awake Western drummer, and a woman with four fretful children, the train was as deserted as it was frightfully cold. The engine shrieked warningly at intervals, the train rumbled hollowly over short bridges and across pikes, swung round the hills, and plunged with wild warnings past little towns hid in the snow, with only here and there a light shining dimly.

One of the drummers now and then rose up from his cramped bed on the seats, and swore cordially at the railway company for not heating the cars. The woman with the children inquired for the tenth time, “Is the next station Lodi?”

“Yes, ma’am, it is,” snarled the drummer, as he jerked viciously at the strap on his valise; “and darned glad I am, too, I can tell yeh! I’ll be stiff as a car-pin if I stay in this infernal ice-chest another hour. I wonder what the company think–“

At Lodi several people got on, among them a fat man with a pretty daughter, who appeared to be abnormally wide awake–considering the time of night. She saw Albert for the same reason that he saw her–they were both young and good-looking.

The student began his musings again, modified by this girl’s face. He had left out the feminine element; obviously he must recapitulate. He’d study law, yes; but that would not prevent going to sociables and church fairs. And at these fairs the chances were good for a meeting with a girl. Her father must be influential–county judge or district attorney. Marriage would open new avenues–

He was roused by the sound of his own name.

“Is Albert Lohr in this car?” shouted the brakeman, coming in, enveloped in a cloud of fine snow.

“Yes, here!” called Albert.

“Here’s a telegram for you.”

Albert snatched the envelope with a sudden fear of disaster at home; but it was dated “Tyre”:

“Get off at Tyre. I’ll be there.

“Well, now, that’s fun!” said Albert, looking at the brakeman. “When do we reach there?”

“About 2.20.”

“Well, by thunder! A pretty time o’ night!”

The brakeman grinned sympathetically. “Any answer?” he asked, at length.

“No; that is, none that will do the matter justice.”

“Hartley friend o’ yours?”

“Yes; know him?”

“Yes; he boarded where I did in Warsaw.”

When he came back again, the brakeman said to Albert, in a hesitating way:

“Ain’t going t’ stop off long, I s’pose?”

“May an’ may not; depends on Hartley. Why?”

“Well, I’ve got an aunt there that keeps boarders, and I kind o’ like t’ send her one when I can. If you should happen to stay a few days, go an’ see her. She sets up first-class grub, an’ it wouldn’t kill anybody, anyhow, if you went up an’ called.”

“Course not. If I stay long enough to make it pay I’ll look her up sure. I’m no Vanderbilt. I can’t afford to stop at two-dollar-a-day hotels.”

The brakeman sat down opposite, encouraged by Albert’s smile.

“Y’ see, my division ends at Warsaw, and I run back and forth here every other day, but I don’t get much chance to see them, and I ain’t worth a cuss f’r letter-writin’. Y’ see, she’s only aunt by marriage, but I like her; an’ I guess she’s got about all she can stand up under, an’ so I like t’ help her a little when I can. The old man died owning nothing but the house, an’ that left the old lady t’ rustle f’r her livin’. Dummed if she ain’t sandy as old Sand. They’re gitt’n’ along purty–“