Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Wrong Portmanteau


Richard Pike, ed., Railway Adventures and Anecdotes, third edition (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1888), p. 130.


An English traveller in Germany entered a first-class carriage in which there was only one seat vacant, a middle one. A corner seat was occupied by a German, who evidently had placed his portmanteau on the opposite one — at least the traveller suspected that this was the case. The latter asked, “Is this seat engaged?” “Yes,” was the reply. When the time for the departure of the train had almost arrived, the Englishman said, “Your friend is going to miss the train, if he is not quick.” “Oh, that is all right. I’ll keep it for him.” Soon the signal came and the train started, when the passenger seized the portmanteau, and threw it out of the window, exclaiming, “He’s missed his train but he mustn’t lose his baggage!” That portmanteau was the German’s.