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A Stop-Over At Tyre
by [?]

He took up one of the absurd little lamps and tried to get more light out of it.

“Dummed if a white bean wouldn’t be better.”

“Spit on it!” suggested Albert.

“I’d throw the whole business out o’ the window for a cent!” growled the man.

“Here’s y’r cent,” said the boy.

“You’re mighty frisky f’r a feller gitt’n’ off’n a midnight train,” replied the man, as he tramped along a narrow hallway. He spoke in a voice loud enough to awaken every sleeper in the house.

“Have t’ be, or there’d be a pair of us.”

“You’ll laugh out o’ the other side o’ y’r mouth when you saw away on one o’ the bell-collar steaks this house puts up,” ended the clerk, as he put the lamp down.

“Sufficient unto the morn is the evil thereof,'” called Albert after him.

He was awakened the next morning by the cooks pounding steak down in the kitchen and wrangling over some division of duty. It was a vile place at any time, but on a morning like this it was appalling. The water was frozen, the floor like ice, the seven-by-nine glass frosted so that he couldn’t see to comb his hair.

“All that got me out of bed,” he remarked to the clerk, “was the thought of leaving.”

The breakfast was incredibly bad–so much worse than he expected that Albert was forced to admit he had never seen its like. He fled from the place without a glance behind, and took passage in an omnibus for the town, a mile away. It was terribly cold, the thermometer registering twenty below zero; but the sun was very brilliant, and the air still.

The driver pulled up before a very ambitious wooden hotel entitled “The Eldorado,” and Albert dashed in at the door and up to the stove, with both hands covering his ears.

As he stood there, frantic with pain, kicking his toes and rubbing his hands, he heard a chuckle–a slow, sly, insulting chuckle–turned, and saw Hartley standing in the doorway, visibly exulting over his misery.

“Hello, Bert! that you?”

“What’s left of me. Say, you’re a good one, you are? Why didn’t you telegraph me at Marion? A deuce of a night I’ve had of it!”

“Do ye good,” laughed Hartley, a tall, alert, handsome fellow nearly thirty years of age.

After a short and vigorous “blowing up,” Albert asked: “Well, now, what’s the meaning of all this, anyhow? Why this change from Racine?”

“Well, you see, I got wind of another fellow going to work this county for a Life of Logan, and thinks I, ‘By jinks! I’d better drop in ahead of him with Blaine’s Twenty Tears.’ I telegraphed f’r territory, got it, and telegraphed to stop you.”

“You did it. When did you come down?”

“Last night, six o’clock.”

Albert was getting warmer and better-natured.

“Well, I’m here; what are you going t’ do with me?”

“I’ll use you some way. First thing is to find a boarding-place where we can work in a couple o’ books on the bill.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but I’m going to look up a place a brakeman gave me a pointer on.”

“All right; here goes!”

Scarcely any one was stirring on the streets. The wind was pitilessly cold, though not strong. The snow under their feet cried out with a note like glass and steel. The windows of the stores were thick with frost, and Albert shivered with a sense of homelessness. He had never experienced anything like this before. “I don’t want much of this,” he muttered, through his scarf.

Mrs. Welsh lived in a large frame house standing on the edge of a bank, and as the young men waited at the door they could look down on the meadow-land, where the river lay blue and hard as steel.

A pale little girl, ten or twelve years of age, opened the door.

“Is this where Mrs. Welsh lives?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Will you ask her to come here a moment?”

“Yes, sir,” piped the little one. “Won’t you come in and sit down by the fire?” she added, with a quaint air of hospitality.