Mr. Goe

So that he could finally be promoted at the end of this school year, grandma, mommy and aunty Mitsa promised to take the young Goe to Bucharest on the King's anniversary, the 10th of May.Little do we care if the three dames decide to leave their comfortable spot to come to the capital just to please their son and nephew. It suffices to say that in the early morning, on the central station's platform in the town of X, the dames, all dressed-up, along with the young Goe, are impatiently waiting for the fast train that is supposed to take them to Bucharest. It is true that once one has decided to assist to such an important national celebration, one must make an early start. The train that they are going to get reaches the north station at ten to eight a.m. Mr. Goe is impatient and he argues in a commanding voice:"Grandma, why isn't it coming?... I want it to come!""It's coming, it's coming, chickabiddy!" the lady answers.And she kisses the grandchild, then fixes his hat.The young Goe is wearing a beautiful sailor suit and on his straw hat ribbon one can read the inscription Le Formidable; under the ribbon there's the train ticket, safely put by aunty Mitsa, 'cause "this is how men hold their ticket.""See how nice he looks," says grandma, "with his little sailer suit on?" "Mommy, didn't I tell you one doesn't say 'little sailer'?""Then what does one say?""Little soiler…""Well! You say what you please; I say it as I know it. This is what it was called back in my days, when this kids fashion first appeared – sailor.""Can't you see you're both stupid?" the young Goe intervenes. "It's not called little sailer or little soiler…""Then what's it called, smart pants?" asks aunty Mitsa with an amused smile on her face. "Siler…""Well now! Not everybody went through school like you did!" says grandma, then kisses her grandson again and fixes his siler's hat.But there's no more time for philological debate; the train is coming – and it doesn't stay for long.The train is full. But thanks to the benevolence of some polite young men, who get off at a close-by station, the dames find some seats. The train has just left. Grandma makes the sign of the cross and then lights a cigarette… Goe doesn't want to enter the compartment; he wants to stay on the corridor, where all the men are."No, you're not supposed to stick your head out the window, little fellow!" one of the young men says to Goe as he pulls him away from the window."That's none of your business, ugly face!" says the little fellow, struggling.And after making faces at the ugly guy, he's hanging himself with both hands from the brass rod and puts out his head again. But the ugly face doesn't get to reply before the little fellow pulls back his head and screams in a terrified voice:"Mommy! Grandmaaa'! Auntyyy!""What is it? What is it?" burst the ladies."Make it stop!" shouts Goe even louder, tramping his feet. "My hat flew away! Make it stoooop!!!"At the same time the conductor enters the carriage, in order to check out the new comers on the train."Tickets, please!"The ladies show their tickets and try to explain to the conductor why is it that Goe can't do the same thing; because the ticket was tucked inside the hat's ribbon and if the hat flew away, of course that the ribbon and the ticket flew along. But still, he had a ticket…"Cross my heart! I bought it myself!" says aunty Mitsa. And yet the conductor doesn't get it, he demands for the ticket; if not, he's supposed to get Mr. Goe off at the next station. That's what the book says: if a passenger doesn't have a ticket and doesn't declare not having a ticket, they're supposed to pay a fine of 7 lei and 50 bani and get off the train at the next station."And didn't we just declare it?" shouts mommy."How's the boy's fault if his hat flew away?" says grandma."Why did he stick his head out the window? I told him not to do it!" says the ugly face, spitefully."This is none of your business! Why do you have to interfere?" says aunty Mitsa to the ugly face…"Look, lady, you have to pay for the ticket," says the conductor."Pay again? Didn't we just pay?""Plus one leu and 25 bani.""Plus what?...""See what happens if you don't get a hold of yourself?" says mommy and shakes Goe's hand."What are you doing, sis? Are you crazy? Don't you know just how sensitive he is?" cries grandma.And grabbing his other hand, she pulls him away from his mommy exactly when the train, screeching its wheels, passes by a switch point. As his grandma is pulling him into one direction and the carriage's shaking into another, Goe loses his balance for a moment and leans on his nose against the carriage's door knob. Goe starts screaming… ultimately, there's not much they can do about it. They have to decide to pay for the ticket that the conductor will give them from his pocketbook. It's such a shame the hat is lost, though!... what will Mr. Goe do bareheaded in Bucharest? With all the shops closed!... anyone would question that, anyone who doesn't how careful and prudent grandma is. How was she supposed to let the boy leave only with his straw hat? What if it happened to rain or to get cold? And grandma pulls out of her small bag a beret belonging to the same uniform – the gunboat Le Formidable."Does your nose still hurt, chickabiddy?" asks grandma."No…" replies Goe."Hope grandma to die?""Hope so!""Com' to grandma and let her kiss it away!"And she kisses the top of his nose; then, while she's nicely fixing his beret:"He even looks better with his beret on!..." says grandma spitting on him for good luck, then kissing him sweetly."Why, he looks good in anything!" adds aunty Mitsa, then she spits on him too and kisses him."Oh, let him be, he's too much! Where have you heard of such things!... losing his new hat and the ticket!..." says mommy, pretending to be very upset."May he be healthy, so that he could wear a better one!" says grandma.And mommy replies:"Aren't you gonna kiss your mommy too?""I don't wanna!" says Goe showing his sense of humour."Oh really?" says mommy. "Let me be then!..." and she covers her eyes with her hands, pretending she's crying."C'mon, I know you're faking!" says Goe."You found your prankster right there!" says grandma.Mommy starts laughing; she takes something out of the small bag and says:"Whoever gives me a kiss…look!... chuclates!" Mommy kisses Goe, Goe kisses mommy and, taking the chocolate bar, goes out on the corridor again."Chickabiddy, don't stick your head out the window!... it's incredible just how smart he is!" says grandma."It's scary, cross my heart!" adds aunty Mitsa.While Goe is eating his chocolate bar outside, the ladies start chatting about one thing or another… the train is running now from Crivina to Peris."Go see what the boy is doing outside, mommy!" says mommy to grandma.Grandma rises slowly like an old lady and goes into the corridor."Goe! Chickabiddy! Goe! Goe!"Goe is nowhere to be found."Oh my God!" shouts the lady. "I can't find the boy! Where is the boy!... the boy is gone!"And all the ladies burst…"The boy fell off the train! Aunty, I'm dying!"All of a sudden, from the one-person compartment, thundering noises are being heard, covering the train's roar. "Goe! Sweetie! Are you in there?""Yes!""C'mon out then!" says grandma. "Get out already! You scared us to death.""I can't!" shouts Goe from within."Why?… does your heart ache?""No! I can't…""It's locked!" says grandma, trying to open the door from the outside."I can't open it!" shouts Goe desperately."Oh my, oh my! The boy is gonna be sick in there!"Finally, here's the conductor with the ticket: he gets his money and frees the captive, who is being kissed by all the three ladies, as if they hadn't seen him in a very long time. Grandma decides to stay on the corridor, sitting on someone's luggage, in order to keep an eye on Goe, so that nothing bad happens to the chickabiddy. At the end of the corridor, the chickabiddy sees a metal line at the end of which there's a handle attached to a machine. He gets on the luggage and starts pulling the handle. "Sit down, lest you should wreck anything!" says grandma.The train follows its road from Peris to Buftea with great speed. But halfway to km. 24, a sudden whistle is being heard, then the alarm signal, three short whistles and the train stops with a powerful jolt."What is it? what is it?" the scared passengers burst at the windows, at the doors, on the stairs…"Goe! Chickabiddy! Goe!" shouts aunty Mitsa and rushes out of the compartment."Goe is outside, on the corridor… why did the train stop?"Someone, nobody knows from which compartment, pulled the alarm signal. From which carriage? This is easy to establish; the handle cannot be pulled without breaking the knotted thread and the lead seal.The train staff is fussing about, examining the collided wheels; the pressure has been so hard that it takes the engine driver ten minutes to load the steam pump and start the train again. In the meantime, the conductors and the train manager are running from one carriage to another examining the alarm signal machines.Who can guess in what carriage the lead seal has been torn and the handle pulled? Funny! Precisely in the carriage from which the sailer's hat had flown! Who? Who pulled the handle? Grandma is sleeping in a compartment corner, with her chickabiddy in her arms. No one can tell who pulled the handle.The train is finally on its way and reaches Bucharest with a several minutes' delay. Everybody gets off. Grandma fixes Goe's beret, spits the chickabiddy for good luck, asks him if his nose still hurts and kisses him sweetly.Then the ladies get the chickabiddy into a carriage and head for downtown:"To the bouleevard, cabman, to the bouleevard!"

by I. L. Caragiale (1852-1912)