The journey from San Francisco to Chicago, once the fruit country is passed, is drearily tedious, and I was never so tired of a train. The spacious compartments that one travelled in on the Indian journeys, where there are four arm-chairs and a bath-room, are a bad preparation for the long narrow American cars packed with humanity, and for the very inadequate washing-room, which is also the negro attendant's bed-chamber: "Although," he explained to me, "when the car isn't full I always sleep in Berth Number 1." If the night could be indefinitely prolonged, these journeys would be more tolerable; but for the general comfort the sleeping berths must be converted into seats at an early hour. In addition to books, I had, as a means of beguilement, the society of a returned exile from the Philippines, who told me the story of his life, showed me the necklace he was taking home to his daughter's wedding, and asked my advice as to the wisdom or unwisdom of marrying again, the lady of his wavering choice having been at school with him in New England and being now a widow in Nebraska with property of her own. Besides being thus garrulous and open, he was the most helpful man I ever met, acting as a nurse to the three or four restless children in the car, and even producing from his bag a pair of scissors and a bottle of gum with which to make dolls' paper clothes. Never in my life have I called a stranger "Ed" on such short acquaintance; never have I been called "Poppa" so often by the peevish progeny of others.
It was on this train that I began to realise how much thirstier the Americans are than we. The passengers were continually filling and emptying the little cups that are stacked beside the fountains in the corridors, and long before we reached Chicago the cups had all been used. In England only children drink water at odd times and they not to excess. But in America every one drinks water, and the water is there for drinking, pure and cold and plentiful. It is beside the bed, in the corners of offices, awaiting you at meals, jingling down the passages of hotels, bubbling in the streets. In English restaurants, water bottles are rarely supplied until asked for; in our hotel bedrooms they seldom bear lifting to the light. As to whether the general health of the Americans is superior or inferior to ours by reason of this water-drinking custom, I have no information; but figures would be interesting.