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The Quest Of Mr. Teaby
by [?]

The trees were bare on meadow and hill, and all about the country one saw the warm brown of lately fallen leaves. There was still a cheerful bravery of green in sheltered places,–a fine, live green that flattered the eye with its look of permanence; the first three quarters of the year seemed to have worked out their slow processes to make this perfect late-autumn day. In such weather I found even the East Wilby railroad station attractive, and waiting three hours for a slow train became a pleasure; the delight of idleness and even booklessness cannot be properly described.

The interior of the station was bleak and gravelly, but it would have been possible to find fault with any interior on such an out-of-doors day; and after the station-master had locked his ticket-office door and tried the handle twice, with a comprehensive look at me, he went slowly away up the road to spend some leisure time with his family. He had ceased to take any interest in the traveling public, and answered my questions as briefly as possible. After he had gone some distance he turned to look back, but finding that I still sat on the baggage truck in the sunshine, just where he left me, he smothered his natural apprehensions, and went on.

One might spend a good half hour in watching crows as they go southward resolutely through the clear sky, and then waver and come straggling back as if they had forgotten something; one might think over all one’s immediate affairs, and learn to know the outward aspect of such a place as East Wilby as if born and brought up there. But after a while I lost interest in both past and future; there was too much landscape before me at the moment, and a lack of figures. The weather was not to be enjoyed merely as an end, yet there was no temptation to explore the up-hill road on the left, or the level fields on the right; I sat still on my baggage truck and waited for something to happen. Sometimes one is so happy that there is nothing left to wish for but to be happier, and just as the remembrance of this truth illuminated my mind, I saw two persons approaching from opposite directions. The first to arrive was a pleasant-looking elderly countrywoman, well wrapped in a worn winter cloak with a thick plaid shawl over it, and a white worsted cloud tied over her bonnet. She carried a well-preserved bandbox,–the outlines were perfect under its checked gingham cover,–and had a large bundle beside, securely rolled in a newspaper. From her dress I felt sure that she had made a mistake in dates, and expected winter to set in at once. Her face was crimson with undue warmth, and what appeared in the end to have been unnecessary haste. She did not take any notice of the elderly man who reached the platform a minute later, until they were near enough to take each other by the hand and exchange most cordial greetings.

“Well, this is a treat!” said the man, who was a small and shivery-looking person. He carried a great umbrella and a thin, enameled-cloth valise, and wore an ancient little silk hat and a nearly new greenish linen duster, as if it were yet summer. “I was full o’ thinkin’ o’ you day before yisterday; strange, wa’n’t it?” he announced impressively, in a plaintive voice. “I was sayin’ to myself, if there was one livin’ bein’ I coveted to encounter over East Wilby way, ‘t was you, Sister Pinkham.”

“Warm to-day, ain’t it?” responded Sister Pinkham. “How’s your health, Mr. Teaby? I guess I’d better set right down here on the aidge of the platform; sha’n’t we git more air than if we went inside the depot? It’s necessary to git my breath before I rise the hill.”