The trill of an electric signal, followed by a clanging bell, brought them both to a pause, and they stood only two or three yards apart. Presently a light flashed through the thickening dusk; there was roaring, grinding, creaking and a final yell of brake-tortured wheels. Making at once for the nearest third-class carriage, the man in the seedy overcoat sprang to a place, and threw himself carelessly back; a moment, and he was followed by the second passenger, who seated himself on the opposite side of the compartment. Once more they looked at each other, but without change of countenance.
Tickets were collected, for there would be no stoppage before Birmingham: then the door slammed, and the two men were alone together.
Two or three minutes after the train had started, the elder man leaned forward, moved slightly, and spoke.
"Excuse me, I th