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When The Train Comes In Post by :drscot Category :Essays Author :Robert Cortes Holliday Date :November 2011 Read :2045

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When The Train Comes In

A busy railroad station is a grand child's picture-book, for him who observes it. All the child has to do is to look; the leaves are turned before him. There, in all the colors of the rainbow, are countless pictures to cram himself with. And what is a rather curious fact is, that a railroad station may freely be classed among humorous picture-books. Other picture-books, such as church, theater, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, political meeting, ball game, and so forth, have, of course, many funny pictures. But, whether it is that almost all absurd people constantly travel, and those with no touch of the motley do but seldom, or whether, as here, nothing else goes forward seriously to occupy the attention, one's mind is left more free to be struck by the ridiculousness of all mankind, so it is that perhaps as humorous a place as one may find is a busy railroad station. And one must be very blasé who no longer feels an enjoyable stimulation at the approach of an expected train at the station.

The psychology of the arrival of a railroad train at the station belongs to the proper study of mankind, and could be made into an interesting little monograph. As the train becomes due one feels but half a mind on the conversation, supposing one to be conversing; the other half is waiting for the train. One has, too, a feeling, faint at first, looming stronger within one, against continuing to sit quietly inside (supposing one to have gone within), where one is. An impelling to go see if the train is not coming numbs one's brain. A like contagious restlessness breathes through the waiting-room. People begin to stand up by their grips. Some go without on the search. They can be seen through the doors and windows, pacing the platform; they return, some of them, and one scans their expressions eagerly--they are discouragingly blank. After a bit, they go out again, or others do, and return as before; wholly unfitted now, one can see, for any concentration of thought.

The train is late. There is an alarm or two. At last, an unmistakable elasticity impregnates the place. A distant whistle is heard; it stirs one like the tap of a drum. The train is coming! One's pulse beats high as one moves into the press toward the doorway. The whistle is heard much nearer. Then again and again! Then with a whirl that turns one a somersault inside, a long dark, heavy mass rushes across the light before one. When one comes again on one's feet, speaking figuratively, the train is standing there, and one hurries aboard to get a seat. But, first, one is stopped until arriving passengers get off.

(The end)
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: When The Train Comes In

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