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   Chapter 4 CAST AWAY IN THE SNOW

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 9008

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It was Bess who came back from the ladies' room on the Pullman and startled Nan Sherwood by shaking her by the shoulder as she lay in the upper berth, demanding:

"Have you any idea what time it is, Nan? Say! have you?"

"No-o-ouch!" yawned her chum. "Goodness! That was my elbow. There's not much room on these shelves, is there?"

"Do you hear me?" shrilled Bess. "What time do you suppose it is?"

"Oh, dear me! Is that a conundrum?" asked Nan, with but faint interest.

"Wake up!" and Bess pinched her. "I never knew you so stupid before. See my watch, Nan," and she held the small gold time-piece she had owned since her last birthday, so that her chum could see its face.

"A quarter to eight," read Nan from the dial. "Well! that's not so late. I know we're allowed to remain in the car till eight. I'll hurry. But, oh! isn't it dark outside?"

"Now, you're showing a little common sense," snapped Bess. "But do you see that my watch has stopped?"

"Oh! so it has," agreed Nan. "But, then, honey, you're always letting it run down."

"I know," said Bess, impatiently. "And at first I thought it must have stopped last evening at a quarter to eight. When I woke up just now it was just as dark as it was yesterday morning at six. But I took a peep at the porter's clock and what do you think?"

"I'll shave you for nothing and give you a drink," laughed Nan, quoting the old catch-line.

Bess was too excited to notice her chum's fun. She said, dramatically:

"The porter's clock says half-past nine and half the berths are put up again at the other end of the car!"

"Mercy!" gasped Nan, and swung her feet over the edge of the berth. "Oh!" she squealed the next moment.

"What's the matter now?" demanded her chum.

"Oh! I feel like a poor soldier who's having his legs cut off. My! isn't the edge of this berth sharp?"

"But what do you know about its being half-past nine?" demanded Bess.

"And the train is standing still," said Nan. "Do you suppose we can be at

Tillbury?"

"Goodness! we ought to be," said Bess. "But it is so dark."

"And Papa Sherwood would be down in the yards looking for me before this time, I know."

"Well! what do you think it means?" demanded her chum. "And b-r-r-r! it's cold. There isn't half enough steam on in this car."

Nan was scrambling into her outer garments. "I'll see about this in a minute, Bess," she said, chuckling. "Maybe the sun's forgotten to rise."

Bess had managed to draw aside the curtain of the big window. She uttered a muffled scream.

"Oh, Nan! It's sno-ow!"

"What? Still snowing?" asked her chum.

"No. It's all banked up against the pane. I can't see out at all."

"Goodness-gracious-me!" ejaculated Nan. "Do you suppose we're snowed in?"

That was just exactly what it meant. The porter, his eyes rolling, told them all about it. The train had stood just here, "in the middle of a snow-bank," since midnight. It was still snowing. And the train was covered in completely with the soft and clinging mantle.

At first the two chums bound for Tillbury were only excited and pleased by the novel situation. The porter arranged their seats for them and Bess proudly produced the box of lunch she had bought at Freeling, and of which they had eaten very little.

"Tell me how smart I am, Nan Sherwood!" she cried. "Wish we had a cup of coffee apiece."

At that very moment the porter and conductor entered the car with a steaming can of the very comforting fluid Bess had just mentioned. The porter distributed waxed paper cups from the water cooler for each passenger's use and the conductor judiciously poured the cups half full of coffee.

"You two girls are very lucky," he said, when he saw what was in the lunch-box. "Take care of your food supply. No knowing when we'll get out of this drift."

"Why, mercy!" ejaculated Bess. "I don't know that I care to live for long on stale sandwiches and pie, washed down by the most miserable coffee I ever tasted."

"Well, I suppose it's better to live on this sort of food than to die on no food at all," Nan said, laughing.

It seemed to be all a joke at first. There were only a few people in the Pullman, and everybody was cheerful and inclined to take the matter pleasantly. Being snow-bound in a train was such a novel experience that no unhappy phase of the situation deeply impressed any of the passengers' minds.

Breakfast was meagre, it was true. The "candy butcher," who sold popcorn and sandwiches as well,

was bought out at an exorbitant price by two traveling men, who distributed what they had secured with liberal hand. Bess, more cautious than usual, hid the remains of her lunch and told Nan that it was "buried treasure."

"Castaways ought to find treasure buried on their island to make it really interesting," she told her chum. "Think of poor Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday. Wouldn't they have been just tickled to death to have found anything like this for their Sunday dinner, say?"

"I don't believe Friday would have cared much about railroad lunch apple pies," said Nan. "One's palate has to become accustomed to such delicacies."

"Now, don't be critical, Nan Sherwood, or I sha'n't give you any more pie," cried Bess. "B-r-r-r! isn't it cold in here?"

"We really ought to speak to the janitor about it," said Nan, demurely. "He isn't giving us enough steam. I shall move into another apartment before next winter if they can't heat this one any better."

They whiled away the morning in conversation and reading. They had to sit with their furs on. Nan looked like a little Esquimaux in hers, for her Uncle Henry Sherwood had bought them for her to wear in the Big Woods the winter before. Finally Bess declared she was too fidgety to sit still any longer.

"I've just got to do something. Here's the conductor again. Let's stir him up about the heat."

"I wouldn't," said more thoughtful Nan. "He looks as though he had his own troubles."

"I don't care! We can't sit here and freeze to death. Say, Mr. Conductor, can't we have any more heat? We're really almost frozen."

"Can't help it, little ladies," responded the man, rather gruffly.

"You'll find it worse when the coal gives out entirely."

"Oh, mercy!" Bess exclaimed, when he had gone on. "What a bear!"

But Nan looked suddenly disturbed. "Do you suppose that is possible?" she asked.

"What's possible?"

"That the coal may give out?"

"What if it does?" queried her chum, blankly.

"Goodness me! How will they make steam if there's no fuel for the fire?"

"Oh!" gasped Bess, "I never thought of that. Goodness, Nan, we'll be frozen to icicles!"

"Not yet, I hope," said Nan, getting up briskly. "Let's see if we can't stick our heads out of doors. I'm aching for a breath of fresh air."

They went forward and opened the vestibule door. The outside doors were locked and the snow was piled against the little windows, high up in the door panels.

"I believe this snow is piled completely over the cars," declared Nan.

"Isn't that funny?" said Bess. "How do you s'pose they'll ever dig us out?"

"I wonder if it has stopped snowing?"

"I hope so!"

"We can't hear anything down here," continued Nan. "But we naturally couldn't, if the train is buried in the snow."

"Dear me, Nan!" said her chum, in a really worried tone. "What do you s'pose will happen to us?"

"We-ell-"

"And our folks! They'll be awfully worried. Why! we should have been at

Tillbury by eight o'clock, and here it is noon!"

"That is so," Nan said, with more assurance. "But of course they know what has happened to the train. We're in no real danger."

"We-ell, I s'pose not," admitted Bess, slowly. "But it does seem funny."

Nan chuckled. "As long as we see anything funny in the situation, I guess we shall get along all right."

"Oh! you know what I mean," her chum said. "I wonder where that door leads to?"

"Into another car," Nan said demurely.

"Is that so, Miss Smartie?" cried Bess. "But what car?"

She tried the door. It gave entrance to a baggage coach, dimly lit by a lantern swinging from the roof. Nobody was in the car and the girls walked hesitatingly forward.

"Oh!" squealed Bess, suddenly. "Here's my trunk."

"And here's mine," Nan said, and stopped to pat the side of the battered, brown box stenciled "N.S." on its end. Nan had something very precious in that trunk, and to tell the truth she wished she had that precious possession out of the trunk right then.

"It's awfully cold in here, Bess," she said slowly.

"I guess they haven't got the steam turned on in this flat, either," returned Bess, laughing. "Nothing to freeze here but the trunks. Oh! oh! what's that?"

Her startled cry was caused by a sudden sound from a dark corner-a whimpering cry that might have been a baby's.

"The poor thing!" cried Nan, darting toward the sound. "They have forgotten it, I know."

"A baby in a baggage car?" gasped Bess. "Whoever heard the like?"

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