**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Travelling with a Reformer
by [?]

The conductor laughed, and said:

‘Well, that would be trimming it pretty fine, sure!’

‘But not too fine, I think. I will report this matter at New Haven, and I have an idea that I’ll be thanked for it.’

The conductor’s face lost something of its complacency; in fact, it settled to a quite sober cast as the owner of it moved away. I said:

‘You are not really going to bother with that trifle, are you?’

‘It isn’t a trifle. Such things ought always to be reported. It is a public duty and no citizen has a right to shirk it. But I sha’n’t’ have to report this case.’


‘It won’t be necessary. Diplomacy will do the business. You’ll see.’

Presently the conductor came on his rounds again, and when he reached the Major he leaned over and said:

‘That’s all right. You needn’t report him. He’s responsible to me, and if he does it again I’ll give him a talking to.’

The Major’s response was cordial:

‘Now that is what I like! You mustn’t think that I was moved by any vengeful spirit, for that wasn’t the case. It was duty–just a sense of duty, that was all. My brother-in-law is one of the directors of the road, and when he learns that you are going to reason with your brakeman the very next time he brutally insults an unoffending old man it will please him, you may be sure of that.’

The conductor did not look as joyous as one might have thought he would, but on the contrary looked sickly and uncomfortable. He stood around a little; then said:

‘I think something ought to be done to him now. I’ll discharge him.’

‘Discharge him! What good would that do? Don’t you think it would be better wisdom to teach him better ways and keep him?’

‘Well, there’s something in that. What would you suggest?’

‘He insulted the old gentleman in presence of all these people. How would it do to have him come and apologise in their presence?’

‘I’ll have him here right off. And I want to say this: If people would do as you’ve done, and report such things to me instead of keeping mum and going off and blackguarding the road, you’d see a different state of things pretty soon. I’m much obliged to you.’

The brakeman came and apologised. After he was gone the Major said:

‘Now you see how simple and easy that was. The ordinary citizen would have accomplished nothing–the brother-in-law of a directory can accomplish anything he wants to.’

‘But are you really the brother-in-law of a director?’

‘Always. Always when the public interests require it. I have a brother- in-law on all the boards–everywhere. It saves me a world of trouble.’

‘It is a good wide relationship.’

‘Yes. I have over three hundred of them.’

‘Is the relationship never doubted by a conductor?’

‘I have never met with a case. It is the honest truth–I never have.’

‘Why didn’t you let him go ahead and discharge the brakeman, in spite of your favourite policy. You know he deserved it.’

The Major answered with something which really had a sort of distant resemblance to impatience:

‘If you would stop and think a moment you wouldn’t ask such a question as that. Is a brakeman a dog, that nothing but dogs’ methods will do for him? He is a man and has a man’s fight for life. And he always has a sister, or a mother, or wife and children to support. Always–there are no exceptions. When you take his living away from him you take theirs away too–and what have they done to you? Nothing. And where is the profit in discharging an uncourteous brakeman and hiring another just like him? It’s unwisdom. Don’t you see that the rational thing to do is to reform the brakeman and keep him? Of course it is.’