The two horses stood snorting in front the house on Maple Hill, their breath misting in the cold January air. The wagon behind them was piled high with furniture, trunks of clothes and the other sundry belongs of the house's occupants. The door opened and two men in coveralls and think winter coats came out. They were carrying a heavy chest of drawers between them and sweating profusely, despite the freezing temperature. They pick their way carefully across the bare snow covered yard from the house to where the freight wagon stood laden with furniture. Their hobnail boots skidded several times on patches of ice hidden under the snow. On several occasions, they nearly spilled their load on to the frozen ground, but they eventually made it to the wagon with out mishap. They carefully levered the heavy chest of drawers into the back of the wagon and set it upright. They tied it down and then set about covering their load with a heavy tarp, which they tied into place with a series of knots. They tugged on the cord several times to be certain that the knots were good and tight.
The door opened again and Nahum emerged. He had been taking one last turn through the house, checking in the corners and behind closet doors, making sure that nothing had been left behind. Fanny, cradling her three month old son in the crook of her arm, lingered just inside the open doorway, savouring the warmth of the house as her husband crossed the yard to where the movers loading the last of the Goddards' possessions into the back of the wagon.
They paused in what they were doing as they watched Nahum approach. They tipped their caps and said, "good morning, Mr. Goddard."
Nahum nodded, "good morning," in return. He thrust a gloved hand into the inside pocket of his winter coat and extracted a leather billfold. He opened it and handed each of them a five dollar bill. "This is the last load," he said, gesturing the contents under the tarp in the wagon bed. "You can take this along to the train station, and my wife and son and I will follow you shortly." Nahum produced several more dollar bills and handed them to the two movers, "Oh get some porters to help you unload all of this when you get there."
They nodded in understanding and clambered up on the driver's seat behind the horses. The reigns snapped and the two horses leaned into their traces. The leather horse tack squeaked in the cold and the wagon creaked as it began to move. The horses snorted and their breath frosted in front of them in an icy white cloud as their hooves clopped loudly on the frozen ground. They picked up speed. After a second or two, they heavy wagon rounded a bend and disappeared from sight.
No sooner had the movers and the wagon disappeared, than a carriage with a driver appeared. The carriage rolled to a stop place that the wagon had just vacated a few minutes before. The driver pulled up on the reigns and the horse stopped with a snort. The driver looked down from his perch and the short, stocky moustachioed man waiting in the yard.
"Good morning," said the driver. He fished in his pocket for a scrap of paper. "Is the Goddard resistance?" he asked.
Nahum nodded. "Yes," he said, "please excuse me while I fetch my wife and son." He turned and, crossing the yard, went back into the house. A second or two later, he re-emerged with Fanny and the baby in tow. The driver clambered down from his perch and held open the carriage door while Fanny carefully climbed inside, balancing the baby in her arms. Nahum followed her and shut the door. The interior was slightly worn and smelled slightly musty. He took the seat opposite his wife and infant son. He rapped on the roof of the carriage and it lurched into motion.
The carriage ride from the house on Maple Hill to the train station took half an hour. The train station faced on to Washington Square in downtown Worchester. All tall clocktower built of Tennessee granite thrust upward into the clear winter sky. The clock was striking eleven with a deep, sonorous BONG-BONG-BONG. The roof line of the station's strain shed rose to a peak above the grey limestone façade of the the ticket all. The carriage lurched to a stop under the portico at the far end of the station, in front of a set of double doors inset with etched glass and brightly polished brass door handles. The words "UNION STATION" were carved into the granite lintel over the door.
The driver clambered down from his perch and helped Fanny out of the carriage. Nahum paid him, handing him some bills from his billfold plus a tip. The driver nodded his thanks and clambered back up on to the driver's seat. He snapped the reigns and the carriage rumbled off. Nahum and Fanny went into the station. The ticket hall was a large echoing room. A circular counter varnished oak with a highly polished marble top dominated the middle of the space. There were half a dozen ticket agents at the counter and about a dozen people waiting in line to be served.
Nahum glanced at the large clock over the the double doors leading to the platforms. It read 11:30. He extracted his pocket watch from his vest pocket, examined it. It was a couple of minutes running slow. He would have to wind it later. He turned to Fanny. "Darling, why don't you take the baby and sit down while I see to the tickets."
Fanny nodded and turned toward the wooden benches that dominated the far half of the ticket hall, still carrying her son cradled in her arms. Meanwhile, the line moved slowly forward and after about ten minutes he stepped up the ticket agent, a young man in his early twenties with sideburns and neatly parted hair turned toward Nahum.
"May help you, sir?" he asked.
Nahum nodded. "Yes," he said, "I have placed a reservation for compartment for myself, my wife and my son on the 12:30 train to Boston. I am here to collect my tickets."
"Name please, sir," replied the ticket agent in a slightly reedy sounding voice.
"Under the name of Goddard," said Nahum.
The tickets agent bent down, opened a drawer under the counter and began rifling through it as though looking for something. "Hmmmmm," he said, "Goddard…..ah…..here." He shut the drawer and straightened up, holding a sheaf of train tickets in his hand. "Here are your tickets, Mr. Goddard," he said. "You are in car #648, compartment C. Your tickets also indicate that you have engaged an express boxcar, is that correct?"
Nahum nodded. "Yes," he said. "I would ensure that my belongings have been loaded according to my wishes," he said. "Can you arrange this for me?"
The ticket agent nodded. "Yes, Mr. Goddard. Please wait a moment." He turned and whispered something to one of the other ticket agents, who excused himself and immediately rushed off. He returned several minutes later with one of the station porters in tow.
"Mr. Goddard had engaged an express boxcar and would like to see that it has been loaded properly," said the ticket agent.
The porter nodded. "Yes sir," he said. "Please follow me." The porter set off with Nahum following behind him. They crossed the echoing ticket hall toward the etched glass doors leading to the train shed and the platforms. The porter held the door open as Nahum stepped on the station platform. The smell of creosote and coal smoke hung in the air. The winter sunlight illuminated the train shed through a series of skylights that covered in soot from the trains that arrived at departed the station on a daily basis. The porter gestured to the far end of the platform, where a locomotive sat belching steam and soot. Near the head end, behind the tender and in front of the mail car, a boxcar stood with its door open. Trunks, packing cases and furniture stood scatted here and there on the platform next to it. The two movers grunted in unison as they lifted a heavy steamer trunk.
Nahum watched as the two movers maneuvered the heavy trunk into the interior of the boxcar. He paused momentarily and followed them inside. It was dark. The only light in the car's interior was the light coming in from outside through the open double doors, which were folded back on their double hinges so that they lay flay against the side of the car, obscuring the sign that read
New York Central Railroad
Express Delivery Service
The footsteps of the three men on the rough cut wooden boards that formed the floor of the boxcar echoed slightly in the confined space. One end of the boxcar was filled with shelves, which were ladened with parcels wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. Items too large to fit on the shelves, were stacked neatly on the floor. Everything was piled according to its eventual destination. The other end of the car was filled with a wide assortment various large and otherwise ungainly objects. Everything was packed in very tightly. Here and there among the organized clutter, Nahum could the familiar shape of a tall chest of drawers that had belonged to Fanny and had been located in the bedroom at the end of the hall where she had given birth. It was covered by a heavy looking blanket.
Nahum nodded approvingly. "Yes," he said. "This looks quite satisfactory." He turned and exited the boxcar, stepping back on to the station platform. With the porter in tow, Nahum walked briskly back into the ticket hall, the soles of his shoes echoing slightly on the terrazzo floor. He walked back over to the large circular ticket counter in the middle of the hall. The ticket agent with the reedy sounding voice who Nahum had spoken to earlier, immediately detached himself from another passenger and made a beeline for where Nahum was standing at the counter, with Nahum's sheaf of train tickets in hand.
"Mr. Goddard," he said, "I trust that everything is to your satisfaction?"
Nahum nodded. "Yes," he said. "Everything looks to be quite acceptable."
"Good," replied the ticket agent. "That will be $50.00."
"Oh, yes of course," replied Nahum. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his billfold again and produced the requisite $50.00, which he handed to the ticket agent, who counted out the bills and slide the tickets across the counter toward Nahum. Nahum picked up the tickets, inspected them and when they proved to be satisfactory, tucked them into his pocket with his billfold and went to join Fanny and the baby.