Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/245

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it myself; come around a little later; it’ll be dark soon and something may turn up.’

“Something did turn up. While the engineer was oiling under his engine I got a wink from the fireman, climbed on the tender, crept beneath a tarpaulin, and rooted down in the coal. There, tired out, I fell asleep. I was awakened by the whistle of the locomotive, and then came the slow wheeze of the cylinder head, and we were off. Sleeping on a hard plank under a car going thirty miles an hour is a spring mattress to lying in a pile of coal with lumps as big as your head grinding into your back. Now and then the fireman—not my particular friend, but a man who had replaced him as I discovered when we whizzed past the light of a station—would ram his shovel within reach of my ribs—just missing me. But I didn’t mind—every mile meant that much nearer home and less tramping in the heat and dust to get there. If I could manage to keep hidden until we reached Sydney I should gain one hundred—maybe two hundred—miles before morning.

“About midnight we came to a halt, followed by a lot of backing and filling—shunting here and there. The safety-valve was thrown wide