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third round. I saw Helen hand one stalwart Irish lad five cups of coffee and thirteen sandwiches by actual count.
Meantime most of the relatives and friends had found the fellows they were looking for and were giving them all the latest news from home and listening to the gossip of the camp. Here and there a rookie, replete and happy, stuck his feet upon the opposite seat and burst into song regardless of his auditors. Others began to play cards and some endeavored to sleep. But most of those who had had no one come to bid them good-by began to ask the women to buy them post-cards at the news-stands and to take messages for their families to be delivered by telephone. I saw Anna Highbilt with a pad of paper in one hand and a pencil in the other standing beneath a crowded window, trying to jot down half a dozen messages at the same time.
"Tell my mother, please, ma'am-Orchard 3193that's the drug-store on the corner, but they'll send over for her you tell her I'm fine-oh, fine!and
"Say, missus, while he's tryin' to think of something else, put down my girl for me, won't you? Miss Sadie O'Connor-she's a saleslady at Lord & Taylor's -wait a minute, Jim!-you can get her between twelve and one at the noon hour. Tell her I'd sure have let her know about me coming through if they'd
only told us long enough in advance. Tell her for me I'll bring her home something fine from Berlin. Tell her be sure to write"
"I want you should tell my mother I am wearing her sweater," breaks in the man from Orchard Street.
"Shut up, you big stiff! Wait till I get through!" protests the other.
Before the tactful Anna can decide which gentleman is entitled to priority a soft-eyed, olive-skinned Italian thrusts his head between them.
"You taka a message for me please, lady? My broth' she work in the Banca Romano-Numero Cinque Cento-Via Lafayetta. You tella her I giva somet'ing to our mother for her bambino."
"Whose bambino?" inquires Anna, confused.
"The bambino of my broth' who work in the bank. I giva two dollar to our mother for the bambino for Christmas!"
A heavenly smile softens his face.
"Grazie! Grazie! Lady!"
Doubtless had he been upon the platform he would have kissed her hands.
"I'll tell him!" Anna assures him, putting it all down. "Now, is there anybody else who wants to send a message?"
"Sure! Oi do!" bawls a voice from the depths of the car, followed by a huge beaming Irish face. "Mrs.
Thomas Sullivan, 64 Agnes Street, Omaha. I want to send her one of thim post-cards wid the Woolworth Building on it."
"Your mother, I suppose?" asks Anna, unthinking. "Me mother nuthin'!" he retorts with a grin. "Sure she's me sweetheart! 'Tis a widdy she is!”
The taking of messages is a serious business. Once certain that there is anybody who will really undertake to deliver them and every rookie is keen to take advantage of the opportunity. The windows are crowded with faces each anxious for his turn to send some farewell word to the person dearest or nearest to him. Sometimes it is sentimental; more often jocular; frequently only informative or prosaic. But it may be the last message ever received from them and this invests it with a sacred character. While the women were hard at work noting down divers communications, I saw my little old man standing at the foot of the iron stairs with a look of abject misery upon his face. I was on the point of inquiring what was the matter when Miss Pritchett got ahead of me.
"My boy!" choked the little old man. find him here. They must have sent him somewhere else. And it's the only chance I'll have to see him before he sails for France! What can I do? I must bid him good-by. He's all I've got in the world! His mother died fifteen years ago and I've brought him up myself just as I knew she would have wanted.
He's the best boy in the world. If I could only touch him once more, only for a minute-just to feel that he's there, it'd be all I want!"
The old fellow had quite lost control of himself, and I could see Miss Pritchett giving a surreptitious dab at her eyes with a small handkerchief.
"We'll see what we can do!" she said encouragingly. "There must be some way of finding him. What regiment does he belong to?"
"The -th," sobbed the old man. "I can't have him go this way. It'd break his heart and mine, too. I jest want to put my arm around him once like I used to do when he was a little boy."
It was no use, I was already feeling for my own handkerchief. Why did they let little old men come around to bid lost boys good-by? Mrs. Judge Wadbone now joined the group and from her we learned that theth had been sent through to Jersey City. This finished the old fellow. He sat down on the lowest step and buried his head in his hands. Mrs. Supreme Court Wadbone screwed up her face and a large tear suddenly appeared upon the end of her Napoleonic nose. Obviously, it would be quite impossible for our old friend to secure at this late hour a permit to allow him to meet the train at Jersey City, even if he could get there in time to do so. The canteen committee-including the male member— gathered helplessly around him like a group of mourners
at a funeral. Suddenly into our midst was wedged the capable figure of Anna Highbilt.
"What are all you ninnies crying about?" she demanded.
The little old man raised his head despairingly.
"If I could only just touch him once," he repeated. "He's all I've got
"You see," I explained hurriedly, for I didn't want to hear any more about that boy, "his son's regiment has been sent across to Jersey City instead of here as was originally intended. He's afraid he won't have a chance to see him before he sails."
"And he's the only son he's got," sniffed Mrs. Wadbone.
"Not see him? Of course he'll see him, if I have to charter a tug or a special train!" declared the indignant Mrs. Highbilt. "I know the commanding general-he's dined at my house half a dozen times— I'll telephone him at once. Come along, old man! You come right along with me! I promise you you'll see your boy, if we have to stop the transport or flag the train."
"Isn't she great!" ejaculated Miss Pritchett.
"Anna's all right!" I assented.
And the last we saw of our "social leader" she was half carrying the old man up the stairs in the direction of the taxicab stand. I heard afterward that she had managed somehow through her connections in Wash