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A Cold World
by [?]

So that was what I had to do. I began to see myself taking a ticket at every stop and appealing to the station-master at the next. Well, the money would last longer that way, but unless I could overcome quickly the distrust which I seemed to inspire in station-masters there would not be much left for lunch. I gave the porter all I could afford–a ha’penny, mentioned apologetically that I was coming back, and stepped into the train.

At the junction I jumped out quickly and dived into the sacred office.

“I’ve left my ticket on the dressing–that is to say I forgot–well, anyhow I haven’t got it,” I began, and we plunged into explanations once more. This station-master was even more unemotional than the last. He asked me if I knew anybody who could vouch for me–I mentioned Herbert diffidently. He had never even heard of Herbert. I showed him my gold watch, my silver cigarette case, and my emerald and diamond tie-pin–that was the sort of man I was.

“The best thing you can do,” he said, walking with me to the door,” is to take a ticket to Plymouth and speak to the station-master there–“

“This is a most interesting game,” I said bitterly. “What is ‘home’? When you speak to the station-master at London, I suppose? I’ve a good mind to say ‘Snap!'”

Extremely annoyed I strode out, and bumped into–you’ll never guess–Herbert!

“Ah, here you are,” he panted; “I rode after you–the train was just going–jumped into it–been looking all over the station for you.”

“It’s awfully nice of you, Herbert. Didn’t I say good-bye?”

“Your ticket.” He produced it. “Left it on the dressing-table.” He took a deep breath. “I told you you would.”

“Bless you,” I said, as I got happily into my train. “You’ve saved my life. I’ve had an awful time. I say, do you know, I’ve met two station-masters already this morning who’ve never even heard of you. You must inquire into it.”

At that moment a porter came up.

“Did you give up your ticket, sir?” he asked Herbert.

“I hadn’t time to get one,” said Herbert, quite at his ease. “I’ll pay now,” and he began to feel in his pockets…. The train moved out of the station.

A look of horror came over Herbert’s face. I knew what it meant. He hadn’t any money on him. “Hi!” he shouted to me, and then we swung round a bend out of sight….

Well, well, he’ll have to get home somehow. His watch is only nickel and his cigarette case leather, but luckily that sort of thing doesn’t weigh much with station-masters. What they want is a well- known name as a reference. Herbert is better off than I was: he can give them MY name. It will be idle for them to pretend that they have never heard of me.