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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Sunshine - Misdeal In A Sleeping Car
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Peck's Sunshine - Misdeal In A Sleeping Car Post by :Mikeyf Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :3283

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Peck's Sunshine - Misdeal In A Sleeping Car

There is one thing about sleeping cars that should be changed, and that is the number of the berth should be on the curtain, so when a man gets up in the night to go out to the back end of the car and look out into the night to see if the stars are shining, and he gets through seeing if the stars are shining, and goes back, he will not get into the wrong berth.

Since the other night we have not wondered that on a similar occasion, at the dead hour of night, as it is reported, the truly good Mr. Beecher, who left his berth to see the porter, and ask him about how long it would be before they got there, returned to what he supposed was his own berth, and sat down on the side of it to remove his trouserloons, and by a scream was notified that he was in the wrong pew. We attach no blame to Mr. Beecher, and would defend him to the last breath, because to a man whose mind is occupied with great thoughts, the berths all look alike. Neither do we blame Miss Anthony for screaming. She could not know in the imperfect light that was vouchsafed her in a sleeping car, that it was a mistake. She had no time to argue; it was a case where immediate decision was necessary, and she did right to scream--she could not do otherwise. But when vile men tell us, as they draw down their eyelids and wink, that it was "a mistake the way the woman kept tavern in Michigan," they do an injustice to a noble preacher who has been lied about, and who has better judgment than to do so knowingly.

So we say that anybody is liable to err; but if anybody had told us, when that woman from Pere Marquette, with a hare lip, and a foot like a fiddle box, got into the berth next to ours, that in the dead hour of night we should be sitting down on the selvage of her berth, we should have killed him.

We are more than ever struck by the old adage that the ways of Providence are inscrutable, and past finding the right berth. We had gone out to the back part of the car, and stood in our stocking feet on the cold zinc floor for a couple or three minutes, looking out upon the beautiful Michigan landscape and waterscape, as the train passed Michigan City, and had asked the porter if there was any bar on the train, and had returned up the aisle to find our berth.

Pulling aside the curtains we sat down, and were about to throw our hind leg up into the sheets, when a cold, hard hand, calloused like a horn spoon, grabbed hold of the small of our back, and two piercing eyes shot sharp glances at our human frame.

One look was enough to show that we had opened the wrong curtains. Every second we expected that a female scream would split the air wide open, that the passengers would tumble out of the berths, and that the conductor would have us arrested for coalition with intent to deceive. It seemed years that we sat there with that cold hand grasping the situation, and we would have given half our fortune to have been in the bunk just one remove towards Canada.

All things have an end, and just as we were imagining that the woman with the hare lip was feeling around with her disengaged hand to draw from its concealment in her corset, a carving knife, with which to cut a couple of slices off our liver, a voice said, "Well, what in Kalamazoo are you doing in this berth, anyway?"

The porter came along with a lantern, and we looked at the woman with a hare lip and a bass voice, and it was not a woman at all, but a Detroit drummer for a stove house. Finding that we were not a midnight assassin, nor a woman, the drummer let go of the small of our back, and we got into our own berth; but it was a narrow escape; the woman with the hare lip was in the upper berth. We found that out in the morning when she talked through her nose at the porter about fetching a step ladder for her to climb down on.

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