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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Alfred Hedenstierna (Sigurd) (1852–1906)

Rural Travelers

From “Brothers and Sisters”

THE TRAIN going south left the station at a quarter past twelve, but by eight o’clock the travelers had already reached the station. After many exhortations to the stableman to be careful of the sorrel, and a dozen commands to the maid-servant, seven persons approached the station hand in hand—four hours too soon—to buy tickets. At that time the traffic at the smaller stations was quite inconsiderable; only a few trains passed during the day, so that none of the officials thought it necessary to be at the station so early.

But farmer Strömbom had no intention of waiting, and went off to the station-master’s house to “come to an agreement,” as he put it, concerning the amount of the fare.

“Good morning,” he said to that official. “My name is Strömbom—Peter Strömbom of Traleböda, of which you will have heard. I am minded to travel with my wife and children to Malmö, to visit my brother, the merchant Johann Strömbom, of whom you will also have heard.”

Strömbom’s method did not arouse the surprise in those early days of the Swedish railroads that it would to-day. The officials were accustomed to that kind of thing. Hence the station-master said, “Very well, you will find the 12.15 train convenient.”

“All right. But then, I wanted to discuss the question of fares with you. I am told that you charge seven crowns for the trip to Malmö.”

“Seven crowns and fifteen öre.”

“Pooh, pooh! The fifteen öre are there, I suppose, so that you can make a reduction. So let’s stick to the seven crowns. Now, there are seven of us, my wife and five children, so I suppose it will come cheaper for all.”

“Probably, since children under twelve pay only half fare.”

“I know that, but I mean a reduction on the whole.”

“That is impossible, my dear sir, for the State demands from us the whole amount of the prescribed fare.”

“Hm—you don’t take an extra coach on our account.”

“Certainly not, but——”

“You see, I can easily send the two youngest children back home.”

“That is your business.”

“And so the State must lose those two fares through your obstinacy?”

“The fare is fixed by law. You may travel or not, as you please.”

“Oh! very well, then. But at least there must be no mistake about the train stopping for half an hour between Hestveda and Hassleholm, so that I can run over to the place of my friend Ole Holm.”

“The train stops nowhere except at the stations printed on the time-table.”

“You will permit me to remark,” cried Strömbom, “that you are the most disobliging person it has ever been my misfortune to meet!”