Rosamond and the Conductor

SARAH MERCHANT, Al James, and Rosamond Ware were going to Willet’s Ravine. Mr. Ware drove them over to Bethel Plain to take the Towasset railway, but their watches were slow, or else they forgot to look at them, and as they were leisurely driving down Depot Street Rosamond spied the train just leaving the station and moving slowly towards them. A1 shouted, and the girls waved their handkerchiefs, to arrest the attention of the engineer, but the train came on with increasing speed. Mr. Ware reined in the horse.

“Jump out!” he cried. “May be you can get on.”

A1 seized the lunch basket, and they all sprang out and ran over to the track. Rosamond jumped on the forward platform of the baggage car. Sarah and A1 were not quite quick enough, and waited for the next platform: Al gained a footing easily, and Sarah made a brave jump, and clung kneeling to the steps till the frightened conductor ran out and pulled her up. Rosamond hurried breathless through the train to see if her friends had succeeded, wondering, as she ran, what she should do if they had n’t. She found them receiving a severe and deserved reprimand from the conductor.

“ It was a very foolhardy and improper thing to do,” said he, turning to include her, as she came up. “ I was just about to stop for you. We never take on passengers while the train is moving.”

“ But you don’t put them off after they once get on, do you? ” said Rosamond, triumphantly.

“ No, we do not,” he replied, not exactly discomfited, but as if reproof was thrown away upon such exultant success. So he took their fares, and said no more, but Rosamond watched him curiously whenever he came through the train, feeling a particular antipathy towards him. He was a tall, fine-looking young man, with the appearance and manners of a gentleman, and a certain personal dignity and distance about him that made Rosamond sensitive to is evident disapproval of her and her friends. She felt that he was still gravely disa proving of them whenever he passed by, and could not impress him with the air of triumph she wished to maintain. Rosamond had never noticed individual railway officials before; she had a general idea that they were all alike, and all disagreeable, like the steam-escapes on the locomotives, and perhaps she would never have remembered this one if she had not seen him a few weeks later, when she went to Newfield with her little brothers. She amused the boys by telling them how that conductor gave her a scolding once; and the awakened recollection brought with it the old feeling of resentment, as she looked at him. There was no sign of recognition on his calm, impassive face, as he passed quietly through the car, taking the tickets and manifesting no further interest in anything about him. Rosamond soon ceased to notice him, and never thought of him again until Christmas time, when she went to New York to spend the holidays at the house of an older sister. She took the train for Newfield, where it made a close connection with the express for New York. When the conductor came for her ticket, she at once remembered him, but her former feelings of anger and dislike had faded away, and she only wondered a little if he remembered her, and decided that of course he did not. When about half-way to Newfield they stopped a long time at one of the stations, and Rosamond began to feel anxious lest she should lose the New York train, and grew so nervous that she could scarcely control herself. She sat twirling the little check the conductor had given her, and carelessly read the inscription: —

“ If you wish to stop over at any waystation, please notify and receive a special check from G. W. Ingleside, conductor.”

“ Ingleside! That ’s a pretty name,” she thought. “ I wonder what he would say if I should call him by it; I want to ask him about the connection. I ’ll give him a surprise.” So the next time he passed by she said softly, —

“ Mr. Ingleside! ”

He heard her above the roar of the train, and turning quickly bent over her.

“ I am going to New York,” she said; “ am I likely to miss the train at Newfield?”

“ We are behind time,” he answered, looking at his watch. “ We were delayed by a hot box at the last station, but we can make the connection, yet. I have never failed to do so. Do not give yourself any uneasiness. I will see that you get your train. ”

It was not much that he said, but the grave and gentle courtesy of his manner, some subtle quality of deference and respect that he paid her, made Rosamond follow with her eyes his retreating figure until the door closed behind him, and she muttered to herself,—

“That’s the nicest conductor I ever saw; he has such a pleasant manner,”

He stopped once or twice afterward to reassure her, when she began to grow anxious; she felt that he had her on his mind, and the comfortable sense of protection and help relieved her of all her trouble. Just before they reached Newfield he came to her again.

“If you will give me your checks,” he said, “ I will see to the transfer of your trunks. You will not have time to buy a ticket, but cross at once to the other side of the depot, and get on the train which stands there, —you cannot mistake it,—and I will bring your checks. I must run across and speak to the conductor of the New York train. We shall have time enough; don’t be at all uneasy.”

“ Oh, thank you, thank you,” began Rosamond, gratefully.

“ Get on the forward car, please, and I will find you,” said he, interrupting her eager thanks, and was gone before she could renew them. She leisurely crossed the depot, and entered the forward car of the waiting train, with a sense of perfect security and relief, and of devout gratitude to Mr. Ingleside for his courtesy and kindness. Just as they were starting, he entered, dropped the checks in her hand, raised his cap, and dashed out at the door. Rosamond saw him alight from the moving train with the sleight of foot that railroad men acquire, and stretched her neck to catch a glimpse of his figure, as he walked rapidly away.

A week of holiday gayeties effaced the recollection of the conductor from Rosamond’s mind, but after she had been at home again for some weeks she began to notice how frequently the thought of him recurred to her. Once and again during her life she had met some bright and pleasant young man whose handsome face or winning ways had pleased her fancy, and she had thought of him a great deal, looked forward eagerly to another meeting, dreamed of him, woven fancies about him, and cared for him, until perhaps nearer acquaintance had dispelled the illusion, and changed her sentimental liking to indifference or disgust; or perhaps, again, her interest had died for want of further acquaintance to keep it alive. Experience of this sort was by no means uncommon with her, and she never gave it any serious thought. She had a strong, vivid imagination, which she had trained from childhood for her own amusement, and she lived much in an inner world of fancy, to escape the dullness and monotony of her outer world of fact.

In this world of fancy now appeared the handsome conductor, and Rosamond found herself recalling the few incidents of their intercourse, his looks and tones and pleasant manners, and looking forward she imagined their meeting again, and invented situations of interest where they should be brought together

“ I wonder when I shall see him again,” she often thought; and she laid her plans for the future with reference to her chances of meeting him. “ I shan’t go to New York again before next fall, but I can make some excuse to go to Newfield next summer, and I ’ll get up another excursion to Willet’s Ravine, and go on his train; but that won’t amount to much. I wish I could see him just often enough to have him remember me from one journey to another as some one he has seen before.”

Rosamond did not travel on the railway again that winter, and her fancy nearly starved to death. Wareham had now its own station, two miles distant, and she sometimes drove her father to or from the train, and had then a glimpse of Mr. Ingleside; and she sometimes saw him, too, in Bethel Plain, a town eight miles away, upon whose shops and stores the people of the country round depended. Mr. Ware drove often to Bethel Plain, and Rosamond sometimes went with him, and when she was in town at the hour when Mr. Ingleside’s train went through, she had once or twice made some excuse to run over to the railway station, for the sake of seeing him; but of this she was a little ashamed, and it was also very unsatisfactory. But when midsummer came, the city boarders began to appear in the farm-houses of Wareham, and the season of picnics and excursions arrived. Mrs. James, the sister living in New York, came to her father’s, with her little ones, and Mr. Ware’s hospitable house was opened wide to all the James relations and friends and cousins, to the remotest degree. Life brightened for Rosamond during those pleasant weeks, and was full of joyous excitement. Mr. Ware’s was the centre of interest in all that was going on, and Rosamond’s active brain and local knowledge made her the recognized leader in the plans for amusement. It was easy for her to turn the current whither she would, and she chose to turn it in the direction of the Towasset railway. Bethel had a mountain, tower, and waterfall, and beyond, along the line of the railway, were Willet’s Ravine, Rolling River, and the lakes; so she seemed likely to realize some of her dreams.

The first excursion of the season was planned to Bethel Plain, to go up the mountain and tower, and a party of a dozen started off, one morning, to walk to the station and go down on the cars. Rosamond felt excited and expectant, as they sat in the little depot, waiting for the train. She was proud of the appearance of her friends, and felt sure that Mr. Ingleside must be impressed with the style and distinction of the party, which were unmistakable, even through their plain walking dress. As the train drew near, Rosamond saw her conductor’s familiar figure standing on the steps. He glanced rapidly over the group, and his eyes rested an instant on her face, but she was not sure he remembered her.

There was a great deal of bustle and confusion after they were on the train. The fare between Wareham and Bethel Plain had been fixed at fifty cents, for a distance of six miles, and this announcement was received with indignant protest. Then the young men insisted on paying for the girls, and there was more confusion.

Mr. Ingleside stood by, grave and dignified, with no appearance of haste or impatience, waiting till the war of words should cease and the fares be forthcoming, and after recording them in his notebook he passed on.

“ What a nice conductor! ” said Amy James, who sat in the seat beside Rosamond. Amy was a New York girl, with the most fastidious notions, and Rosamond was both amused and gratified that she should have noticed Mr. Ingleside, though she felt that Amy might have remarked in just the same way a nice coachman or colored waiter.

“Yes,” was the reply; “isn’t he handsome ? ”

“ It is n’t so much his fine appearance,” continued Amy; “ there’s something so nice about his manner, — gentleness, dignity, — I can’t quite define it, but you feel it, and it seems so out of place in a conductor.”

“ Prince in disguise, I guess,” was the careless reply, and the subject dropped from the conversation, but not from Rosamond’s mind. They saw him again on their return, and other excursions followed, until Rosamond knew he must remember and notice them, though he gave no sign of recognition, and never spoke more than the brief words necessary in taking the fares. Rosamond wanted some excuse for further conversation, and one day mustered up courage and made a bold venture.

“ Mr. Ingleside,” she said, “ are you never going to reduce the fare to Bethel ? We shall all be impoverished.”

“ I’m afraid not,” he replied, smiling, and passed on; but in a few moments he returned, and seated himself on the arm of the opposite seat. “I’m very sorry,” he said, “ to ask you so much. I think, myself, twenty cents would be enough, but you know I have no control of the fare, and must ask what others decide.”

“ Oh, no, I did n’t suppose you did,” said Rosamond; “but you know we must grumble at somebody.”

“The fact is,” he resumed, “the company don’t want to stop there any way; it is a hard place to stop a train, and it costs ” —

“ Oh, I’ve heard all about that,” she interrupted, laughing; “how heavy the grade is, and how it costs seventy - five cents to brake up a train.”

“ Well, it does, to stop this train here,” said he. “ However, I would be happy to let you ride up free, if I might.”

After a few more pleasant words on both sides, he rose to go as the train drew near the station. As soon as they had alighted and the train moved off, Rosamond was assailed by a chorus from her companions.

“ What was that man talking about? ” said Al James. “I couldn’t imagine what you were saying.”

“ Oh, I shan’t tell you,” she answered them. “ His tender speeches won’t bear repeating any more than other people’s,” looking mischievously at Al. But she enjoyed the teasing, and was happy as a bird all the way home. It seemed to her there would be some change in his demeanor after that, and she was vaguely disappointed next time she met him, when he was grave and distant as ever, and took the fares without a word.

The first of September scattered the gay New Yorkers; there were no more picnics and excursions, and Rosamond sorely missed her journeys on the train. She could feel now that Mr. Ingleside recognized and remembered her as a frequent passenger, but she was not satisfied, and longed to see him more than ever; so she went off to Newfield again, for a visit. On her journey home, when about an hour from Wareham, she was taken with bleeding at the nose. When her handkerchief was soaked with blood, she tried putting her head out at the window, but the strong wind blew the fast-dropping blood back in her face. Just as she was in utter despair, she heard her name, and looking up saw Mr. Ingleside regarding her kindly.

“ Miss Ware,” he said, “ if you will come into the baggage car, I can give you some water, and perhaps help you.”

“ Oh, thank you, thank you! ” she answered, the tears springing to her eyes; and rising, she followed him into the forward car, to a retired corner behind a pile of baggage. Mr. Ingleside brought a basin of water and placed it on a trunk, and Rosamond knelt before it, and gladly washed her blood-stained face.

“ If you will allow me, Miss Ware, I think I can stop the bleeding.”

“ Oh, mercy, yes; do anything you ’ve a mind to,” she replied. So he took both her hands and clasped them above her head. Then he tore a piece from his handkerchief and made a tight little roll, and, kneeling beside her, crowded it up her nostril, and then with his thumb and finger gently clasped her throat, compressing the artery there. His manner was so quiet and matter of fact that she did not feel the slightest embarrassment. After a few minutes she began to laugh. “ I feel as if you were going to strangle me.”

“ It does have rather that look,” he replied, smiling, as he dipped the corner of the towel in water, and wiped her face. “Does the blood run down your throat ? ”

“ No; I think you have stopped it entirely.”

“ Then I must leave you a few moments,” he said, as they approached a station. When he came back, he found her sitting on a trunk, and looking white. He brought an arm-chair. “You are faint, I know; sit here.”

Rosamond took the seat. He threw his overcoat over the pile of trunks behind her, for her head to rest upon, and having made her comfortable went away.

“ Oh, how good and gentle you are! ” mused Rosamond, as she leaned back and closed her eyes. “ You called me by name, too; I wonder how you found that out.”

He did not return for some time, though she saw him near, and felt herself still under his care. Just as they reached Wareham he came to her, asked if she felt quite well again, and quietly turned aside her profuse acknowledgments with a few phrases of courtesy, as he helped her off the car. Mr. Ware was there to meet her, and she rode home almost in silence, absently answering her father’s questions, her mind full of happy thoughts and fancies: recalling Mr. Ingleside’s kindness and true courtesy, his look and voice and gentle touch; wondering how he came to know her name; and wishing she might soon see him again, to enjoy the nearer acquaintance which chance had brought her. But no opportunity came for several weeks. Home cares and duties claimed her attention, and her life was very busy. Mrs. James came up for Thanksgiving, and insisted on taking Rosamond back to New York for a couple of weeks. Her spirits rose at the thought of again meeting the conductor. She looked forward to it for days; planned how she would begin just where she left off in their acquaintance, — greet him by name with a smile and pleasant salutation, as mere politeness required. But when she was finally on the train, things began to look different, and when she saw him coming through the car, looking distant and impassive, with no appearance of recognizing her, her salutation froze in her throat, and she never said a word, or even looked at him, while her sister arranged for their fares and baggage. Mrs. James then leaned back in the corner and closed her eyes for a nap, while Rosamond devoted herself to looking through the glass doors into the baggage car for glimpses of Mr. Ingleside. After an hour or more Mrs. James roused her self.

“ What a serene face that conductor has!” she said. “ I’ve been watching him as he goes through the car.”

“Yes,” replied Rosamond; “he always makes me think of those lines from Longfellow’s Sandalphon: —

“ ‘ But serene in the rapturous throng,
Unmoved by the rush of the song,
With eyes unimpassioned and slow. ”

“ Very good,” smiled Mrs. James. “ Are you acquainted with him? ”

“Margaret!” exclaimed Rosamond, in a most expressive tone.

“ Well, what?”

“The idea of my being acquainted with the railway conductor!”

“I don’t think there ’s anything so ridiculous about it,” maintained Mrs. James. “ You often go on this train and I thought you might have made his acquaintance. I don’t see why a conductor isn’t perfectly respectable, Besides, in the country, where people eat with their servants, you can’t keep up all these distinctions. You expect to know everybody.”

“ Not brakemen and conductors,” suggested Rosamond.

Mrs. James subsided into her corner once more. Newfield was soon reached, and just before the train stopped Rosamond took her note-book from her pocket, and slyly dropped it under the seat. “ I’m going to correspond with him, if he won't speak to me,” she thought. And that night, after she had gone to her room, she chose the nicest paper and envelopes she could find, and wrote two or three little notes before she produced one that suited her exactly, in its stylish handwriting and careless but exquisite finish of execution.


DEAR Sir,—I think I dropped, in your train to Newfield this morning, a little black note-book, containing some memoranda and addresses of considerable value to myself. If by any chance it was picked up and preserved, might I ask you to post it to the address below. I inclose stamps for the postage, and regret that my carelessness should give you trouble. Very truly yours,


She watched for the postman eagerly after that, and one morning at breakfast Mr. James handed her a letter that brought a bright blush to her cheek. She was grateful that he was absorbed in the newspaper, and Mrs. James busy with her own letters, while she read: —

MISS WARE, — Since your note came to hand I have made many inquiries regarding the lost note-book, and regret to say that I have been unable to get any trace of it whatever. Very respectfully', etc.,


Rosamond hurried off to her room as soon as breakfast was over, happy to possess, at last, some tangible memento of this man who had taken such hold upon her fancy, and sitting down, studied her precious letter until the turn of every pen-stroke was familiar to her eye. The handwriting was bold and handsome, but with a slight flavor of copy-book stiffness in its careful precision, and she decided that he did not write a great deal, and had taken much pains this time.

“Your name is George Washington, you poor unfortunate,” she said aloud. “ I ’ve suspected it all along.”

When she returned home, she took Mr. Ingleside’s train from Newfield; she would have contrived that, if it had involved any amount of inconvenience. When he had been through the train, he came back, and sat down in the vacant seat before her, handing her the envelope she had addressed to himself.

“ I return your stamps,” he said, “and am very sorry I Could not find your book, but I have inquired of everybody on the road; and one day, when I was in Newfield, I went through all the coaches we have, as I was not sure what coach we had on that day.”

“ Oh, I am sorry to have given you so much trouble,” said she.

“ It was no trouble,” he replied. “ I think some one must have seen you drop it, and picked it up and kept it, as we can usually find and return articles left on the train.”

He began to sort over a handful of tickets he had taken, and Rosamond sat and eyed him critically, noting every detail of his personal appearance, and detecting, with her quick, keen apprehension, the careful refinement of a thorough-bred gentleman, even to the handsome and nicely-kept finger nails. She longed to continue the conversation with some pleasant, general remark, but an uncontrollable shyness held her tongue; and at last he rose and went away, leaving Rosamond to sit and muse upon the strong attraction which drew her toward this man, and the strange reluctance, equally strong, which she felt to making any perceptible advances. “I feel like a little bird,” she thought, “ that tries to fly out at a plate-glass window, and finds itself held back by something which it can neither see nor understand. I make up my mind beforehand just how I will treat Mr. Ingleside the next time I see him, and what I will say to him, and I perfectly satisfy my pride and dignity, and all that, and they make no objection to what I mean to do. Yet when I sit in the car, and see him coming, it is an actual impossibility for me to carry out my plans, and I am utterly and entirely different from what I had expected. I don’t care, — it’s fun to watch myself, and see what I ’ll do,”

It must not be supposed that Rosamond had lived through all this experience without a great deal of inward remonstrance. There was that in her nature (she could not quite detect whether it was her conscience or her pride) that protested most vigorously against her yielding to such thoughts and fancies. She had peremptorily stifled all these protests, but at last they made her so uncomfortable that she decided to look the matter squarely in the face, hear all these muffled voices, and “have it out with her alter ego,” as she expressed her idea of self-examination. She set a certain night for the trial, and went to her room determined upon it. During all her preparations for retiring, she was instinctively arranging her plans for both attack and defense, and when all was ready she threw a warm wrapper around her, and sat down before the mirror, leaning both arms on the dressing-table, and looking straight into the honest blue eyes of the grave face before her.

“ Now, Alter Ego, what have you got to say ?" was her inquiry.

Rosamond was accustomed to pretty distinct mental conversations, and a great part of the thoughts that now passed through her mind were expressed in definite, though unspoken words.

“ You are yielding to a feeling or sentiment wholly unworthy of you,” began her inward accuser. “It is beneath your dignity as a woman, and lowering your moral tone, to spend your time in fond and tender feelings toward a man you know absolutely nothing about, and who may be the worst scamp that ever walked. How inexpressible would be your shame if any one should know how you have thought and dreamed of this fellow, and how you have schemed and manœuvred and spent money for the sake of seeing him! You are wasting the use of your mental powers in vain and foolish thoughts, when you might be employing them to some noble and worthy purpose. If your common sense can’t tell you, your woman’s instinct ought to show you the shame of what you are doing. It is not as if you were a silly girl of sixteen. You are a woman now, and ought to know something of the high aims and purposes of life. Besides, you are playing with edged tools; take care lest, before you know it, your heart ” —

But the prosecution could get no further, for here the eager and indignant defense began: —

“ Heart! My heart has nothing to do with it. It is purely an affair of my imagination, to which I yield free rein, for my own amusement. I know it is pretty poor entertainment, but I should like to know what I have that is better. I am lonely — horribly lonely— and unhappy. I have a bright and active mind. I love excitement, mental stimulus, whatever rouses and interests me. My taste has been carefully cultivated for the society of intelligent and intellectual people. I love the companionship of my superiors, — men and women with thoughts and ideas, and the power to express them. And here I am, shut up in the dullest and most stagnant of all country villages, where, outside my own family, there is not one person that I don’t know to be my inferior, or that I ever care to see again. I have no society, no excitement, no pleasant companionship of friends of my own age. Most people of my age, or any age, want excitement, and they take it, and nobody thinks they are wasting their energy, or injuring their minds. And I want excitement, and there is nothing to give it to me; so I must amuse myself as best I can. I am tied to cares and duties I hate, and my mind is worried and fretted and harassed ; and I can’t read Emerson’s essays, and study German, for my sole relaxation. And if I’ve got a fertile and ingenious imagination, and can find amusement in my own fancies, I ought to be thankful. I don’t know what I should do this winter if it was n’t for the pleasure I take in thinking of Mr. Ingleside. There is constant, well-bred friction between my step-mother and me, — we can’t get on together, and never shall; and my sweet step-sister, Sally Merchant, I have to keep at arm’slength, for if she wasn’t afraid of me she would impose upon and annoy me; and I am troubled and unhappy. And then you tell me I have no business to be unhappy and that it is wrong; and I am tired to death thinking about myself, and if I had n’t something else that was absorbing to turn my mind to, I don’t know what would become of me. Mr. Ingleside is just a handsome and convenient figure for me to weave fancies about; I don’t love him any more than I love the man in the moon. I dare say if I were to know him, I should n’t like him. I presume he is a very common man. I never want to see him off a railway train. I would not meet him socially and know him personally, if I could. I have had such smashes before, and know they don’t amount to anything; but they amuse me as society and dressing and dancing and admiration amuse most girls, and would me if I had them. My moral tone is not lowered. I shall do nothing in my acquaintance with Mr. Ingleside to overstep tlie bounds of the most perfect propriety. I would scorn to flirt with him, and if he ever presumed upon the politeness I show him I would soon teach him his place. And I do not think it any proof that our secret thoughts are unworthy, because we do not want to have them known.”

“ How about treasuring up his letter so carefully?”

“ Well, if you object to that particularly, I own it does n’t look quite right, and I'm perfectly willing to burn it up.”

She reached for her desk, and took out the letter, opened and read it slowly and carefully, and then, with a sudden impulse of tenderness, softly laid it against her cheek.

“ Don’t that look like ” — began her alter ego.

“Yes, it does look like — but it is n’t,” was the quick retort, as Rosamond snatched a match, and, striking it, kindled the corner of the sheet. She put it in the stove, with the envelope, and taking from her drawer the remnant of a handkerchief, laid that in the flame, and watched them burn with the satisfaction of one who yields everything to conscience, and humors its most frivolous demands. She heard a few more arguments on both sides, with the indifference of a judge who has already decided a case, and then rendered a verdict for the defendant without delay, giving herself full leave to amuse herself just as she pleased, wiped the tears from her cheeks, gayly kissed her hand to the mirror, and went to bed.

After that, her alter ego was not allowed to say a word, and she thought of the conductor almost constantly. She reviewed all their past intercourse, recalling its most trivial incidents, and looked forward to their next meeting, imagining it in a thousand different ways, and planning what she would say to him. She imagined him on his train, going through his daily routine, and learned the hours on the time-table, and kept all the clocks by railway time that she might know just where to think of him at any hour of the day; and when the train went by, two miles to the east, she slipped up to her room, and leaned out at the window to listen for the whistle and the rolling of the wheels. The eastern horizon spoke to her of him, and she knew in just what direction to look, at any hour, and think he was there, now at one terminus, now at another, or somewhere along the road. She named the cat after him, and lavished all tender epithets upon her “ darling George.” She even liked the smell of gas, when the coal was put on the stove, because it reminded her of a locomotive. She wondered where he came from, — what were his antecedents, his history, his interests, and his friends. She kept her ears open to hear what she could about him, but never dared to ask, for fear of betraying too much interest. She sometimes heard him mentioned casually, and always with the warmest praise, by those who had traveled on the cars and noticed his courtesy and kindness; but that was all.

“ I presume father knows all about him, and could tell me everything I want to know,” she thought, “ if I only dared to ask.”

She did not travel on the railway again that winter, but she had glimpses of Mr. Ingleside occasionally in Bethel Plain, or when she drove to Wareham station to meet the train; so she hoped he would not forget her, but consoled herself by thinking that if he did she would see him often next summer, and renew their acquaintance. She studied the map diligently to discover places of interest along the railway, that she might plan for new excursions, and after her New York friends arrived, in July, she led them off somewhere, on the train, every few days.

So she saw Mr. Ingleside often, and their acquaintance slowly but surely progressed. She came at last to greet him with a smile and a good morning, and though he often just punched her ticket and passed on without speaking, still Rosamond could generally contrive some excellent reason to detain him for a few words. Sometimes she wanted to inquire the time of the trains on a connecting railway; sometimes she asked him to get excursion tickets for her party to some point on the line; sometimes her carelessness helped her, and a book, or umbrella, or lunch-basket was left on the train, and Mr. Ingleside must look it up. She liked him all the better because he never presumed upon the opportunities she gave him, nor lingered after the necessary words were spoken; and yet she wished that he would make some further advances, that her vanity might be gratified, even while she relentlessly snubbed him.

“ He knows his place, and keeps it,” she thought. “ It is n’t his business to be making himself agreeable to the ladies on the train; and yet I wish he would n’t dash off so, the minute he gets through.” The roar and motion of a railway train do not give favorable opportunity for the interchange of casual remarks; graceful little nothings become ridiculous when shouted in a high key, and then repeated because not heard at first. So poor Rosamond had much to contend with; but she found, by standing in the door at the end of the train for the breeze, when heated by walking, that she had a much better opportunity to talk with the conductor, as he lingered there to record the fares. So she sometimes ventured on a general remark, to which he responded promptly and pleasantly, going just about as far as she did but making no further advances. One comfort she had: she was the only one of the party of whom he ever took the least notice. Folly loves company, as well as misery, and Rosamond was pleased and amused to see how the other girls were attracted by her handsome friend, and how they were actually piqued that they could draw from him only the few words their questions required. Even fastidious Amy James must compare her watch with Mr. Ingleside’s, to see if it kept its New York time, or ask for a drink of water. They called him “ Rosamond’s conductor,” and Al James vowed “ that fellow would stop his train anywhere if he saw Miss Rosamond’s hat.” All this was delightful to her; yet she sometimes longed for a little variety, and felt an irresistible impulse to say or do something startling. One week there were races at Newfield that attracted a good deal of attention, and extra trains were run, and a few days after they were over Rosamond and her friends were going to Bethel on the train. As they stood in the space about the door of the car, Mr. Ingleside among them, she asked, " What do you write in that book? ”

“ I write the names of all the passengers,” he said, looking into her eyes.

“ Dear me,” she laughed, “ what an interesting list you must have! ”

“ Yes, it is, very,” he answered, stepping out on the platform. It seemed to Rosamond that the train always stopped at the station when she was having a good time.

“ What is the charm of that conductor’s manner ? ” said Amy James, meditatively, as they walked away from the station. “I’ve been trying to detect it.”

“ It’s just because he ’s tall, and good lookin’, and got broad shoulders,” said Al, scornfully. Al was a small man.

“ No,” continued Amy, not deigning to notice the interruption, “ there ’s something in his manner; it ’s respect without civility, and deference without gallantry. I hate mere gallantry, and it’s the beginning and end of Al’s politeness.”

Al’s face flushed, and he walked quickly away beside Rosamond, who was very gracious to him, as she always took pains to be when Amy snubbed him.

So the summer passed, and Rosamond’s feelings swayed her to and fro. She was restless and dissatisfied, but she was excited, and with her anything was better than monotony. She watched Mr. Ingleside like a hawk, and studied his every look and tone, thinking one day that he carefully improved every legitimate opportunity to exchange a few words with her, and was only deterred from further advances by the fear of presumption, and the next day deciding he was utterly indifferent to her.

September came, and Mrs. James went back to the city, taking Rosamond with her for a visit. Rosamond was glad of the change of scene and diversion for her mind. It was a real relief to her to be occupied for a week with new and exciting amusements. But she did not forget the conductor, and when the day of her return came her thoughts turned to him with resistless force, and she laid all her plans for a fresh attack. “ Mr. Ingleside has never seen me with my war paint and feathers on,” she thought. “ I always wear some plain old thing to travel in, and tie myself up in a veil, or else he has seen me in that rough picnic dress. Now, I ’ll put my good clothes on, and give him a scare.” So she chose the prettiest and most liecoming suit she had, and dressed with unusual care. Mrs. James came in while she was thus employed.

“ I ’m so sorry to have you go,” she said; “ and I can’t be reconciled that you won’t come and spend the winter with me. I had set my heart on it; and Mr. Herbert James being with us will bring us a great deal of that literary and improving society you like so much, and I can't see why you should n’t come. It’s all nonsense to stay at home and teach those boys. Why can’t they be sent to school? ”

“ No, Margaret, we can’t afford it; and I ought to stay. You can’t feel as badly as I do. I am tempted almost beyond my strength, I want so to come.” She turned away to hide her tears.

“ Rosamond,” exclaimed Mrs. James, suddenly, “ you are not going to wear that lovely suit to travel in ! ”

“ Yes,” replied Rosamond, carelessly. “ I shall stop three hours in Newfield, and dine at the Grays’, and I want to look nice.”

“ You shan’t wear it; it’s a perfect shame!” said Mrs. James. “ It looks vulgar to travel in your best clothes, and you will get it all dust and cinders, and it will never look nice again.”

“ Oh, Maggie,” said Rosamond, a lucky thought striking her, “ if you must know, Tom Jennings is going up on the train with me, and I want to look nice. ”

“ Oh, well, that makes a difference,” said Mrs. James, relaxing her hold on the trunk straps. “ I did n’t know you had an escort.” She heard the baby cry, and flew to the rescue.

Rosamond nodded significantly at the door that closed behind her. “What would you say, Mrs. James, if you knew all this fuss was for an obscure conductor on the Towasset railway, and that I care more for one smile from him than for ten years of Tom Jennings’s devotion ? I don’t care! If he has n’t got better manners than Tom Jennings, or any of your New York snobs that ever honored me with two stares and a drawl and a sneer at the country, then I don’t know a gentleman when I see him.” She turned to the mirror. “ Dress does make such a difference,” she said, noting how pretty she looked, and, better yet, how stylish.

Rosamond spent the day in a fever of impatience. The ride from New York, Tom Jennings’s languid devotion in the intervals he could spare from the smoking-car, the hours in Newfield, the dinner at the Grays’, were all over at last, and she felt calm and happy when she was seated in Mr. Ingleside’s waiting train. She had what she thought was a good excuse to ask for a conversation with him, but she did not mean to be in any hurry; so she waited until they were half-way to Wareham, and then leaned forward to arrest his attention, as he passed through the car.

“Mr. Ingleside,” she said, “by and by, when you have an interval of leisure, I would like a few moments’ talk with you.”

“ I will be back in a moment,” he replied, bowing, and she presently saw him coming toward her. She noted his rapid, hesitating glance at the seat beside her, and gathered up her dress to indicate he should take it. She leaned towards him confidentially.

“ There is one thing I think I ought to speak to you about, Mr. Ingleside, but I do not want to make any trouble for you with your subordinates, and if you do not think it best to notice it you will let it pass, of course; but I will at least mention it. My sister and I went to Wareham station last week Tuesday, to take your train. Papa was with us, and signaled as usual. I saw the engineer looking at us, as he approached. Just as the locomotive came abreast of the station papa laid down the flag to help us on board, but the train ran by without stopping. It seemed to me rather a serious matter for an engineer to disregard a signal, and T thought perhaps you would like to know of it.”

“ I was very much mortified by that occurrence,” he said, “ and I owe you an apology. I was not looking out, for if I had seen you I should have stopped. Your father notified the superintendent, and the matter has been investigated, and the engineer discharged. I did not have my regular engineer on, that day. He was off duty for a day or two. You did right to speak to me of it, and I am much obliged to you, though you had been anticipated.”

“ You have n’t your regular engine on to-day, have you? ” she asked.

“ No; the Towasset has gone to the shop for repairs.”

“ I noticed the difference in the whistle,” said Rosamond. “ The Towasset has a high, shrill whistle; I always know it, and when we are going to the station, and hear a freight train coming, it does n’t scare me as it does the rest, for I know it is n’t our train.”

“ Yes, the whistle is different from all the rest,” he said, looking pleased.

“ Have you been on the railway ever since it was opened? ” she went on.

“ Yes,” he answered. “ I took this train the first day it ran over the road.”

Then they went on to talk of the railway, the scenery, and the towns along the road, and various other things, till the train reached the next station, and he rose and left.

“ What a real nice talk,” she mused; “and he enjoyed it too. He is quite ready to improve his opportunities.”

She had short time for her happy thoughts before she saw him coming, and he sat down beside her again.

“ I should think you would enjoy going to New York sometimes,” he began.

“ Oh, yes,” she replied, “ I came from there this morning.”

“ That’s the place to live,” he said, emphatically.

“ Do you think so? ” said she. “ I wouldn’t want to live there.”

“ Why! why not? ” he asked, in surprise.

“ Oh, I enjoy visiting there ever so much,” she replied, “but I wouldn’t want to make it my home for life. I have a sister who lives there, and she has lost all her individual tastes and opinions. I should just wear what ' they ’ wore, and think what 'they’ thought, and do what ‘ they ’ did. The current of life there is too strong for me; I wouldn’t want to drift with it, and yet I never could help myself.”

He looked at her, amused. “ I like the theatres,” he said. “ I enjoy going to the theatre so much.”

“ I never go,” she said, smiling. “ Ah, how amazed you look! I like to tell people that, especially New York people, and see them stare.”

“ Why, do you think it wrong? ” he asked.

“ No, I don’t know as I do. I ’ll tell you what makes more difference with me than anything else: I have many friends in New York,—good people, far better than I am, — and they urge me to go to the theatre, to see really fine plays; and they take high moral ground, and talk about Shakespeare and the ennobling influence of the drama, and tell about the inspirations they get at the opera, and all that. But I notice that when they once get to going they forget all about the high moral part, and go to all sorts of plays indiscriminately, even to those they acknowledge are bad, just to see what they are, you know, or because the scenery is so magnificent, or something like that.”

“Just as soon go to a variety show as anything,” he interrupted.

“ Yes; and so I think if I once began I should end as they do, for I am no better than they; so I keep out of it.”

They talked a little more about the theatre, and then the conversation turned to other things. Rosamond guessed she would make herself most agreeable by leading him to talk about himself; she made him tell her how to run a train, and explain the air brake and the Miller platform, and a good deal about a conductor’s life. He told her he had been in the business since he was seventeen years old; she longed to ask him if he began by selling prize candy, but did not quite dare. In all her acquaintance with Mr. Ingleside, she had never forgotten their first interview, when she had incurred his displeasure, and had always liked him better because she was a little afraid of him. He kept his place at her side, only leaving her for a few moments after the train stopped at each station. When they were but a few miles from Wareham the engine suddenly whistled down brakes, and the train stopped with a rude shock. Mr. Ingleside sprang to his feet and hurried forward, and all the men on the train got out to see what was the matter; some of them soon returned to report that a large rock had fallen on the track ahead. It was now after dark, but Rosamond put her head out at the window, and could see the locomotive of the train and the group of men before it. She could distinguish Mr. Ingleside’s powerful figure towering above the rest, and admired his activity and energy as he laid hold of the work. An hour passed by before the train at last started, and in a few moments Mr. Ingleside entered, and hurried to Rosamond.

“Miss Ware,” he said, “will this detention give you any trouble about getting home ? ”

“Oh, I never thought!” cried she. “ I was going up in the stage, and I shall miss it; but then,” she added, “ I can easily walk up, so it is no great matter.”

“ You ought not to walk up alone,” he said, “ and if you will allow me I will put my train in the care of the baggage-master, and go up with you. I can get back in time to go over to Towasset to-night on the late train.”

“ Oh, no, Mr. Ingleside! ” exclaimed Rosamond. “ I could n’t think of giving you so much trouble.”

“Very well; suit yourself,” said he, coldly; “but you ought never to do as you propose; ” and he turned and left her.

“ Oh, dear,” thought she, “ now I’ve offended him; he thinks I don’t want to accept his escort. I never thought of the thing, and I am horribly afraid to go up alone.”

She got off the train at Wareham in great distress, and was just ready to cry, when, hearing a step behind her, she turned and saw Mr. Ingleside. He raised his lantern and it shone full in her face.

“ I am sorry to intrude upon you,” said he, stiffly, “ but your father would never forgive me, if any harm came to you, for letting you go up alone. There were four rough-looking fellows got off the train here this morning, and they may be still lurking about.”

“ Oh, Mr. Ingleside,” said she, earnestly, laying her hand upon his arm, “ indeed you mistake me. I am horribly afraid to go up alone, and I shall be grateful and glad beyond measure for your protection and escort; but I hesitated to give you so much trouble, and spoke hastily, without reflection.”

“ It is no trouble,” said he, his face bright with pleasure. “ I will put your trunk in the station before we go.”

Rosamond tucked up her dress for walking, while he put the trunk and lantern in the depot, and picked up her traveling bag. She noted his slight hesitation, and took his arm as a matter of course, and they started off.

Ah, what a walk that was! The night was mild and clear, the road lay through the woods, and the full September moon shone softly through the branches. The ground was hard and smooth from a recent shower. Mr. Ingleside proved a rapid and vigorous walker, like herself, and kept her step perfectly, and she enjoyed the exercise as a town-bred girl enjoys a dance. They laughed and talked gayly, though in all their conversation they never alluded to their previous acquaintance, but talked as two congenial strangers might who were just introduced to one another. Rosamond was entirely happy, and wished the walk might last forever, till the lights of the village began to twinkle before them, when she felt a sudden embarrassment. What should she do with her conductor when she reached home? she was afraid he would go in if she asked him. He stopped as they drew near the first house. “ Do you live right here in the village street?” he asked.

“ Yes,” said she, “ only a few houses beyond.”

“ Then I will leave you, for I have but just time to get back to the train.”

“ Oh, Mr. Ingleside,” she began, “ I can never thank you enough for your kindness.”

“ Don’t try, then,” he said. “ It has given me nothing but pleasure, and has been the nicest walk I ever took in my life, to say nothing of the satisfaction of being of service to you. Good night.”

She gave him her hand; he held it an instant in a warm, tight clasp, and turned away. Rosamond walked slowly on, her heart beating fast with sudden terror. Did she love this man, whose mere presence gave her such perfect happiness? She turned aside the thought as troublesome. “ I ’ll enjoy my happiness,” she thought, “ and be glad to get it, without picking it to pieces to see where it comes from.”

It lasted her a long time. She did not even care to see him again. The memory of that evening was enough, as she recalled its every incident. But when, a few weeks later, she received a letter from a friend in Bethel Plain, asking her to join positively the last party to the Tower, to enjoy the autumn foliage, she rejoiced in the opportunity it gave her, and wrote her friend she would come down on the train and meet them, if they would send her home at night.

She started off in fine spirits one glorious October morning. She knew how it would be now. There would be no more reserve or distance between them, but Mr. Ingleside would come and sit beside her, and she would have some more pleasant talk. She did not see him when the train stopped, but took her seat and waited, with calm assurance. At last the door opened, and he came in, with a beautiful child upon his arm. He did not notice Rosamond, for his attention was absorbed with the little creature, who clung close to his neck. He passed by, but returned in a moment alone, said good morning pleasantly, took Rosamond’s ticket, and went forward in the baggage car. Two men sat just behind her, and she listened eagerly to the following conversation: —

“ Is that Ingleside’s young one? ”

“ Yes; that’s his woman back there. They ’re movin’ to-day.”

“ Ain’t goin’ away, is he? ”

“ Yes. I heard him tellin’ in the baggage car: he’s goin’ to Californy; goin’ to start to-morrow. This is his last run on the train.”

“ What’s the matter? Had a row? ”

“ No; he says he likes his place firstrate, and likes the folks along the road; but he come here from Californy, and she belongs there, and all her folks are there, and she wants to go back; so he just had a first-rate offer out there, and concluded to go.”

“ That’s too bad. Ingleside’s a clever fellow.”

“ Yes; mighty takin’ way with the women folks. My gals think everything of him.”

Rosamond’s first impulse was to look into her own mind, and see what was going on; but there was n’t much to see. Her next desire was to look at Mrs. Ingleside, and she hastily arose and went back through the car. She identified her by the child. But Mrs. Ingleside looked at her curiously, so Rosamond could not stare as hard as she wanted to. She saw a slight, frail little woman, wrapped in a long, gray travelingcloak, with a gray hat and feather. Her face was so concealed by a thick gray veil that Rosamond could get no idea of it. The train now stopped at Bethel Plain, and Rosamond alighted, beginning to be conscious of mental pain. She felt it all the afternoon, though she resolutely forgot it in the gayety of the picnic, and laughed and talked in her jolliest mood. She came home late, and went at once to her room and faced her trouble.

“I suppose this isn’t heartache,” said she, grimly, “for my ‘heart has nothing to do with it; ’ but I must say that imagination-ache isn’t a pleasant sensation. Oh, the long, dreary winter, how shall I ever get through it, if I may not think of him, or look forward to seeing his pleasant face again? ” She felt a wild, unreasonable rage, like a passionate child whose toys are rudely snatched away. “ Oh, my mother, my own precious mother! Life would n’t have been so hard for me if you had only lived! ”

She burst into a passion of tears for the mother who had died when she was six years old. She thought of her lonely and isolated lot; of the dear sister of her love, who died a few years before; of every sad and unhappy circumstance she could remember, and worked herself up into a delicious melancholy, sobbing and crying with all the luxury of uncontrolled grief. She threw herself upon the bed, and wept a long time, and at last awoke at an indefinite time in the night, stiff and cold and ashamed, and hastily undressing crept into bed.

The next morning, after breakfast, her father called her aside: —

“ Rosamond,” he said, “ your mother and I have been talking over your sister’s invitation to you for this winter. Your mother was much gratified, and so was I, at your cheerful readiness to stay at home and teach the boys. But we know you must want to go, and as I had an unexpected return from a poor investment, your mother has been corresponding with a friend in Andover, who offers to take the boys so advantageously that we have decided to send them to the academy there, and set you free. So pack up your clothes, and be off,” he concluded, smiling, and rising to go.

“Oh, father,” began Rosamond, “I don’t want to leave you.”

“No, dear, I know,” said he, “that will be hard all round. But you want to go, on the whole, and we want to have you,” and he kissed her and went out.

Rosamond stood still a few moments, a great wave of feeling sweeping over her, at the bright prospect so suddenly opened. Long weeks of happiness, excitement, congenial friends, society, intellectual delight, ease, luxury, and pleasure, a new bright life worth the living,—these were realities; where were her unreal fancies? The house was too small for her, and she ran out into the yard, where a cold, fresh breeze was blowing, and skipped about like a happy child in the bright October sunshine. She felt like one awakened from a restless dream, and glad to be in the actual world again, or as if she had been walking in a thick, unwholesome mist, which was suddenly dispelled by a clear, fresh wind, and she saw realities once more.

“ Good-by, old Ingleside!” she cried aloud. “ I knew I never really cared about you. Good-by, dreams and fancies; welcome, happy life. Oh, alter ego, I ’ll take you to New York with me, I ’ll mind every word you say, and won’t we have a good time! ”

“ Rosamond,” called her step-mother from the window, “your breakfast dishes are standing.” And she scampered into the house.

Rosamond’s winter in New York brought her all the happiness she expected, and she returned the next summer to Wareham, a light-hearted and happy woman. But, somehow, she never goes on that train now, when she can possibly avoid it; she hates with a cordial enmity the new conductor, a burly man with brusque, official manners; and away in an inner recess of her pocketbook there is still a little yellow Towasset railway check, with three holes punched in it, and bearing this inscription : —

“ If you wish to stop over at any waystation, please notify and receive a special check from G. W. Ingleside, conductor.”

Katharine Carrington.