"Why, there are three or four men on wages at every station."
"I know it. And the station-business doesn't pay for the sheep-dip to sanctify their coffee with. It's just as I say. And accommodating? Why, if you shake a rag the train will stop in the midst of the wilderness to pick you up. All that kind of politics costs, you see. And then, besides, any town that has a good many votes and wants a fine station, gets it. Don't you overlook that Maryborough station, if you take an interest in governmental curiosities. Why, you can put the whole population of Maryborough into it, and give them a sofa apiece, and have room for more. You haven't fifteen stations in America that are as big, and you probably haven't five that are half as fine. Why, it's per- fectly elegant. And the clock! Everybody will show yon the clock. There isn't a station in Europe that's got such a clock. It doesn't strike--and that's one mercy. It hasn't any bell; and as you'll have cause to remember, if you keep your reason, all Australia is simply bedamned with bells. On every quarter-hour, night and day, they jingle a tiresome chime of half a dozen notes--all the clocks in town at once, all the clocks in Australasia at once, and all the very same notes; first, downward scale: mi, re, do, sol--then upward scale: sol, si, re, do--down again: mi, re, do, sol--up again: sol, si, re, do--then the clock--say at midnight clang--clang--clang--clang--clang-clang--clang--clang--clang-- clang----and, by that time you're--hello, what's all this excitement about? a runaway--scared by the train; why, you think this train could scare anything. Well, when they build eighty stations at a loss and a lot of palace-stations and clocks like Maryborough's at another loss, the government has got to economize somewhere hasn't it? Very well look at the rolling stock. That's where they save the money. Why, that train from Maryborough will consist of eighteen freight-cars and two passenger- kennels; cheap, poor, shabby, slovenly; no drinking water, no sanitary arrangements, every imaginable inconvenience; and slow?--oh, the gait of cold molasses; no air-brake, no springs, and they'll jolt your head off every time they start or stop. That's where they make their little economies, you see. They spend tons of money to house you palatially while you wait fifteen minutes for a train, then degrade you to six hours' convict-transportation to get the foolish outlay back. What a rational man really needs is discomfort while he's waiting, then his journey in a nice train would be a grateful change. But no, that would be common sense--and out of place in a government. And then, besides, they save in that other little detail, you know--repudiate their own tickets, and collect a poor little illegitimate extra shilling out of you for that twelve miles, and----"
"Wait--there's more. Leave that American out of the account and see what would happen. There's nobody on hand to examine your ticket when you arrive. But the conductor will come and examine it when the train is ready to start. It is too late to buy your extra ticket now; the train can't wait, and won't. You must climb out."
"But can't I pay the conductor?"
"No, he is not authorized to receive the money, and he won't. You must climb out. There's no other way. I tell you, the railway management is about the only thoroughly European thing here--continentally European I mean, not English. It's the continental business in perfection; down fine. Oh, yes, even to the peanut-commerce of weighing baggage."
The train slowed up at his place. As he stepped out he said:
"Yes, you'll like Maryborough. Plenty of intelligence there. It's a charming place--with a hell of a hotel."
Then he was gone. I turned to the other gentleman: