72 GOLDEN GATE TO GOLDEN SUN
With its buffet parlour car, and little table adjustable in front of the traveller, the train had a suggestion of home. Across the little table I talked with a fellow traveller, typical of the train-mates one finds in those parts. He was manager and credit man for a large condensed milk company, and whiled away the time by telling me about his customersa Chinese merchants for the most part.
" When the rice crop is bad, and money is unusually scarce, I have to climb on an elephant and go out after the ' lame ducks ' in the back country," he said.
At Padang Besar we entered the Siamese Provinces of the Malay Peninsula, and stopped there for change of train, and baggage, and the custom house formalities. The Siamese officials were in pale blue uniforms, with white leather belts. They were barefooted, and with their black hair sticking out from under their caps or straw hats, they looked like little brunette brothers of Buster Brown. " Muang Thai," the native name for Siam, means " Land of Freedom," and I did not wish to aid in the violation of this exalted claim by permitting one of those small officials to examine my luggage. Perhaps it was more curiosity about the contents of the fourteen receptacles than any serious intent of examination that caused him to put his hand on one of my bags, for he promptly acted on my suggestion that he let it alone, and run away.
A combination club car for first and second class, and three or four coaches for third class passengers made up the train; it was typical of all those run