The 5:42 to Belgenhagen left the station without our engineer. He chased it desultorily to the end of the platform waving his pastry in vain at the empty locomotive car as we pulled out from the shed into the icy dawn with certain questions. Among them, since the train had departed early, should we still call it the 5:42, and furthermore, since our destination was no longer assured, could we confidently call it the train to Belgenhagen? What landmarks we might have recognized lay smoothed below a foot of fresh powder and the turnings of the track we had always neglected gave us no clue which way we were traveling. The girl who pushed the coffee cart thought she recognized a barn, but when the train made its first stop beside a frozen lake, she merely shrugged and asked us if we wanted cream. My daughter must have disembarked then from a forward car; I saw her, as we pulled away, standing by the lake with no promise of a return train. There were no platforms where the train made its stops, so those who wished to leave us we helped down into the snow, some alongside deep pine woods, some within sight of distant towns. We passed through Belgenhagen without slowing, right on time, and crossed a bridge I have never seen, and came to rest near the foothills of mountains I know from maps. The snow has piled up nearly to the windows and continues to fall. There are no tracks; but, while it lasts, the coffee is good, my son is still on the train I believe, and the faces of the passengers on passing trains are peaceful as they make their way toward Belgenhagen. Would they seem so unconcerned if there were cause for alarm?
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