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Munafa ebook

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Words: 21996 in 14 pages

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"OH, do you think the train is running away?"

The startled question came from a little dark-eyed, pale-faced boy of about ten years of age, who was making the journey from Paddington to Exeter by the fastest train which runs. He occupied a corner seat in a third-class compartment, his only companions being an elderly gentleman and a young soldier at the other end of the compartment. It was the young soldier who answered him.

"No, sonny," he said, smiling; "it's all right, I assure you. I've been over this line many times, and the train always puts on speed about here."

He moved along the carriage as he spoke, and took the place opposite the little boy. He was quite a lad himself, barely twenty, but tall and strongly made, with a bronzed complexion and very blue eyes. He peered out of the window for a minute into the mist--it was a dull November day--then gave his attention to the little boy again.

"Was that your father who saw you off at Paddington?" he asked pleasantly.

"Oh, no!" the little boy replied. "My father died years ago. That was the master of--of the Institution where I've been staying since--since my mother was killed. She was killed in the Zeppelin raid last month. She--she--"

He broke off with a choking sob, whilst a tear rolled down his cheek. He brushed the tear away with the back of his hand, and bit his quivering lip.

"Oh, I am sorry!" exclaimed the young soldier. "I've a mother myself, and I know what I should feel--" He stopped abruptly and turned again to the window. "Poor kiddie!" he muttered to himself.

"What's your name?" he asked, after a brief silence, looking at the little boy again.

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