Mrs. McGillicuddy panted along the platform in the wake of the porter carrying her
suitcase. Mrs. McGillicuddy was short and stout, the porter was tall and free
addition, Mrs. McGillicuddy was burdened with a large quantity of parcels; the result of a
day’s Christmas shopping. The race was, therefore, an uneven one, and the porter turned
the corner at the end of the platform whilst Mrs. McGillicuddy was still coming up the
No.1 Platform was not at the moment unduly crowded, since a train had just gone out, but
in the no
man’s land beyond, a milling crowd was rushing in several directions at once, to
and from undergrounds, left
luggage offices, tearooms, inquiry offices, indicator boards,
and the two outlets. Arrival and Departure, to the outside world.
Mrs. McGillicuddy and her parcels were buffeted to and fro, but she arrived eventually at
the entrance to No.3 platform, and deposited one parcel at her feet whilst she searched
her bag for the ticket that would enable her to pass the stern uniformed guardian at the
gate. At that moment, a voice, raucous yet refined, burst into speech over her head.
“The train standing at Platform 3,” the voice told her, “is the 4:50 for Brackhampton,
Milchester, Waverton, Carvil Junction, Roxeter and stations to Chadmouth. Passengers for
Brackhampton and Milchester travel at the rear of the train. Passengers for Vanequay
change at Roxeter 5!”
The Voice shut itself off with a click, and then reopened conversation by announcing the
arrival at Platform 9 of the 4:33 from Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Mrs. McGillicuddy found her ticket and presented it. The man clipped it, murmured: “On
Mrs. McGillicuddy padded up the platform and found her porter, looking bored and
staring into space, outside the door of a third
“Here you are, lady.”
“I’m travelling first
class,” said Mrs. McGillicuddy.
“You didn’t say so,” grumbled the porter. His eye swept her masculine
salt tweed coat disparagingly.
Mrs. McGillicuddy, who had said so, did not argue the point. She was sadly out of breath.
The porter retrieved the suitcase and marched with it to the adjoining coach where Mrs.
McGillicuddy was installed in solitary splendour. The 4:50 was not much patronised, the
class clientele preferring either the faster morning express, or the 6:40 with dining
car. Mrs. McGillicuddy handed the porter his tip which he received with disappointment,
clearly considering it more applicable to third
class than to first
class travel. Mrs.
McGillicuddy, though prepared to spend money on comfortable travel after a night