Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/244

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“The weather was warm and I slept in a cow shack when I found one, and in the bushes when they got scarce. Finally I reached the railroad. I had never tried stealing a ride, sleeping on the trucks, hiding in freight cars, and being put off time and again until the next town was reached—I had never tried it because it had never been necessary, and then I hated that sort of thing. But I had no objection to asking for a lift, telling the agent or conductor the whole story, and I did it regularly at every station I passed on foot, only to get the customary oath or jeering laugh. After I had walked about sixty miles I came upon a water station known as Merton, with a goods train standing by. This time I asked for a ride on the tender. The engineer met my request with a vacant stare—never taking his pipe from his mouth. The fireman was a different sort of man. He not only listened to my story, but handed me part of the contents of his dinner pail wrapped up in a newspaper—which I was glad to get, and told him so. Before the train had gone fifty yards she was side-tracked for orders—which gave me another chance to get at the fireman. ‘I may lose my job if I do,’ he said, ‘but I’ve been up against