Page:Court Royal.djvu/295

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Charles Cheek was on his way to town next day in an express second-class smoking carriage of the Great Western Railway. He would have gone first, but his funds would not allow the extravagance. At the Kingsbridge Road station the door of the carriage was opened, and an elderly gentleman dashed in, drawing after him his portmanteau, then signalling through the window when the train was in motion that he had forgotten his bundle of rugs and umbrella on the platform. A porter picked them up, ran after the train, and thrust them through the window, knocking the cigar out of Charles Cheek’s mouth and inflicting a dent on his hat.

‘Very sorry, upon my word,’ said the owner of the articles. ‘When travelling one is liable to lose one’s goods.’

‘Seeing that you have but your head, portmanteau, and bundle of rugs, the exertion of recollecting them cannot be excessive.’

‘I never travel if I can help it,’ said the other. ‘I had just time to throw a shilling to the porter, but as I was agitated I don’t know where it went and whether he saw it. Perhaps it fell under the rails and is flattened. When I am hot and flurried my sight fails me and my hand shakes. It does not matter. I will give the man another shilling on my return. Lord bless me! I have got into a smoking carriage. Never mind, I do smoke—for once in my life I am lucky. May this be an omen that my journey will be prosperous! Sometimes I have got into a first class when I had a second-class ticket, and then had to pay the difference. Sometimes I have tumbled into a third class when I had paid fare by second, but the company never refunded. Why, bless my heart! Surely I know your face; you are the image of your sainted mother, and have the Worthivale look about your eyes and mouth—more than has my cross boy Beavis. Surely I am speaking to Mr. Charles Cheek?’

‘That is my name, sir, and have I the honour——

‘Of meeting a relative. Your mother was my first cousin. I hear you have been at Plymouth. It is really too bad that you have never been near us. Only a pleasant cruise to Kingsbridge from Plymouth.’