MY DEAR SON: I just came here to New York on business, and thought I would write to you a few lines, as I have a little time that is not taken up. I came here on a train from Chicago the other day. Before I started, I got a lower berth in a sleeping car, but when I went to put my sachel in it, before I left Chicago, there were two women and a little girl there, and so I told the porter I would wait until they moved before I put my baggage in the section, for of course I thought they were just sitting there for a minute to rest.
Hours rolled by and they did not move. I kept on sitting in the smoking-room, but they stayed. By and by the porter came and asked me if I had “lower four.” I said yes–I paid for it, but I couldn’t really say I had it in my possession. He then said that two ladies and a little girl had “upper four,” and asked if I would mind swapping with them. I said that I would do so, for I didn’t see how a whole family circle could climb up into the upper berth and remain there, and I would rather give them the lower one than spend the night picking up different members of the family and replacing them in the home nest after they had fallen out.
I had a bad cold, and though I knew that sleeping in the upper berth would add to it, I did not murmur. But little did I realize that they would hold the whole thing all of two days, and fill it full of broken crackers and banana peels, and leave me to ride backward in the smoking-room from Chicago to New York, after I had paid five dollars for a seat and lower berth.
Woman is a poor, frail vessel, Henry, but she manages to arrive at her destination all right. She buys an upper berth and then swaps it with an old man for his lower berth, giving to boot a half-smothered sob and two scalding tears. Then she says “Thank you,” if she feels like it at the end of the road, though these women did not. I have pneuemonia in its early stages, but I have done a kind act, which I shall probably have to do over again when I return.
If you ever become the parent of a daughter, Henry, and you like her pretty well, I hope you will teach her to acknowledge a courtesy, instead of looking upon the earth and the fullness thereof as a partnership property, owned jointly by herself and the Lord.
A woman who has traveled a good deal is generally polite, and knows how to treat her fellow passengers and the porter, but people who are making their first or second trip, I notice, most generally betray the fact by tramping all over the other passengers.
Another mistake, Henry, which I hope you will not make, is that of taking very small children to travel. Children should remain at home until they are at least two or three days old, otherwise they are troublesome to their parents and also bother the other passengers. There ought to be a law, too, that would prevent parents from taking larger children who should be in the reform school. Some parents seem to think that what their children do is funny, when, instead of humor, it is really felony. It does not entirely set matters right, for instance, when a child has torn off a gentleman’s ear, merely to make the child return it to the owner, for you can never put an ear back in its place after it has been torn off and stepped on, in such a way as to make it look the same as it did at first.