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Second Book of Tales

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Durin' war times the gorillas hed torn up most uv the cypress ties an' used 'em for kindlin' an' stove wood, an' the result wuz that when the war wuz over there wuz n't anythink left uv the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo but the rollin' stock 'nd the two streaks uv rails from one end uv the road to the other. In the spring uv '67 I hed to go out into Kansas; and takin' the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo at Palmyry Junction, I wuz n't long in findin' out that the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo railroad wuz jist about the wust cast of rollin' prairer I ever struck.

There wuz one bunk left when I boarded the sleepin'-car, and I hed presence uv mind 'nuff to ketch on to it. It wuz then just about dusk, an' the nigger that sort uv run things in the car sez to me: "Boss," sez he, "I 'll have to get you to please not to snore to-night, but to be uncommon quiet."

"What for?" sez I. "Hain't I paid my two dollars, an' hain't I entitled to all the luxuries uv the outfit?"

Then the nigger leant over an' told me that Colonel Elijah Gates, one uv the directors uv the road, an' the richest man in Marion County, wuz aboard, an' it wuz one uv the rules uv the company not to do anythink to bother him or get him to sell his stock.

The nigger pointed out Colonel Gates, 'nd I took a look at him as he sot readin' the "Palmyry Spectator." He wuz one of our kind uv people—long, raw-boned, 'nd husky. He looked to be about sixty—may be not quite on to sixty. He wuz n't bothered with much hair onto his head, 'nd his beard was shaved, all except two rims or fringes uv it that ran down the sides uv his face 'nd met underneath his chin. This fringe filled up his neck so thet he did n't hev to wear no collar, 'nd he had n't no jewelry about him excep' a big carnelian bosom pin that hed the picture uv a woman's head on it in white. His specs sot well down on his nose, 'nd I could see his blue eyes over 'em—small eyes, but kind ur good-natured. Between his readin' uv his paper 'nd his eatin' plug terbacker he kep' toler'ble busy till come bedtime. The rest on us kep' as quiet as we could, for we knew it wuz an honor to ride in the same sleepin'-car with the richest man in Marion County 'nd a director uv the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo to boot.

Along 'bout eight o'clock the colonel reckoned he 'd tumble into bed. When he 'd drawed his boots 'nd hung up his coat 'nd laid in a fresh hunk uv nat'ral leaf, he crawled into the best bunk, 'nd presently we heerd him sleepin'. There wuz nuthin' else for the rest uv us to do but to foller suit, 'nd we did.

It must have been about an hour later—say along about Prairer City—that a woman come aboard with a baby. There war n't no bunk for her, but the nigger allowed that she might set back near the stove, for the baby 'peared to be kind ov sick-like, 'nd the woman looked like she had been cryin'. Whether it wuz the jouncin' uv the car, or whether the young one wuz hungry or hed a colic into it, I did n't know, but anyhow the train had n't pulled out uv Prairer City afore the baby began to take on....