By Sally Madison
“Oh Mrs. Painter, nice to see you riding with us again,” said the conductor, as the matronly woman approached the passenger rail car. “I say, there is a young woman who is riding with us from St. Louis, going east to a university. This is her first trip alone and I was hoping, as a seasoned traveler yourself, that you might sit with the young woman and make her feel comfortable.” He did not add that her father had given him a few dollars to keep an eye on his little girl. She was hardly little, nor a girl, but beautiful young woman.
Agreeing to the proposal, Mrs. Painter sat in the adjoining seat with Millicent. “May I join you for the company?” began Mrs. Painter.
“Yes, of course”, replied Millie, as she rearranged her hand luggage to make room for her new travel mate. “Do you travel often? Millie asked. Mrs. Painter nodded, and the soliloquy began. “I’m on my way to the university. I was so very good in the school play, singing, that my teachers said that I should apply myself to music. I play the piano, too. My sister also plays the piano, but she doesn’t sing like I do. I love to sing, don’t you? Yes, everyone loves to sing. I love Rudy Vallee. I could listen to him all night long. Maybe he’ll let me sing at duet with him, in New York or maybe Boston. I’m going to sing a Carnegie Hall. Did you know that it holds over 3,600 seats? I don’t have that many friends yet, but I will. I can just feel the applause when the curtain rises. I’ll wear a red satin dress, down to the floor, with sparkles, and I’ll carry white roses. I suppose I shouldn’t plan my dress until I decide to specialize in opera. I can’t decide. I like opera, but I don’t have that many friends that like it. Do you like opera? Everyone should, it’s so mooooving and so much culture. I mean, they’ve been listening to opera for hundreds of years, right? Yes of course.” On and on, Millie droned.
After what seemed like several hours, Mrs. Painter, raised her hand in submission and caught Millie’s attention. Mrs. Painter interjected, “My dear, since you will need to sing for your interview, don’t you think that it would be wise to save your voice?”
Millie’s eyes widened, “I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, you are right. I should save my voice.” Mrs. Painter gave a great sigh of relief.
Sitting back on the seat, focusing out the window, Millie unconsciously began to hum. Mrs. Painter gritted her teeth. Suddenly Millie sat straight up, then reached down for her writing pad and pencil. “Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, give the monkey a pat on the back, Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, hit the ball with a great big whack, said Millie to herself. “I love the train, don’t you?” And Millie was off again.