The Danger of Lying in Bed
The man in the ticket-office said:
Have an accident insurance ticket, also?
No, I said, after studying the matter over a little.
No, I believe not; I am going to be travelling by rail all day to-day. However, to-morrow I dont travel. Give me one for to-morrow.
The man looked puzzled. He said:
But it is for accident insurance, and if you are going to travel by rail
If I am going to travel by rail I shant need it. Lying at home in bed is the thing I am afraid of.
I had been looking into this matter. Last year I travelled twenty thousand miles, almost entirely by rail; the year before, I travelled over twenty-five thousand miles, half by sea and half by rail; and the year before that I travelled in the neighborhood of ten thousand miles, exclusively by rail. I suppose if I put in all the little odd journeys here and there, I may say I have travelled sixty thousand miles during the three years I have mentioned. And never an accident.
For a good while I said to myself every morning:
Now I have escaped thus far, and so the chances are just that much increased that I shall catch it this time. I will be shrewd, and buy an accident ticket. And to a dead moral certainty I drew a blank, and went to bed that night without a joint started or a bone splintered. I got tired of that sort of daily bother, and fell to buying accident tickets that were good for a month. I said to myself, A man cant buy thirty blanks in one bundle.
But I was mistaken. There was never a prize in the lot. I could read of railway accidents every daythe newspaper atmosphere was foggy with them; but somehow they never came my way. I found I had spent a good deal of money in the accident business, and had nothing to show for it. My suspicions were aroused, and I began to hunt around for somebody that had won in this lottery. I found plenty of people who had invested, but not an individual that had ever had an accident or made a cent. I stopped buying accident tickets and went to ciphering. The result was astounding. The Peril Lay not in Travelling, but in staying at home.
I hunted up statistics, and was amazed to find that after all the glaring newspaper headings concerning railroad disasters, less than three hundred people had really lost their lives by those disasters in the preceding twelve months. The Erie road was set down as the most murderous in the list. It had killed forty-sixor twenty-six, I do not exactly remember which, but I know the number was double that of any other road. But the fact straightway suggested itself that the Erie was an immensely long road, and did more business than any other in the country; so the double number of killed ceased to be matter for surprise.
By further figuring, it appeared that between New York and Rochester the Erie ran eight passenger trains each way every daysixteen altogether; and carried a daily average of 6000 persons. That is about a million in six monthsthe population of New York City. Well, the Erie kills from thirteen to twenty- three persons out of its million in six months; and in the same time 13,000 of New Yorks million die in their beds! My flesh crept, my hair stood on end. This is appalling! I said. The danger isnt in travelling by rail, but in trusting to those deadly beds. I will never sleep in a bed again.
I had figured on considerably less than one-half the length of the Erie road. It was plain that the entire road must transport at least eleven or twelve thousand people every day. There are many short roads running out of Boston that do fully half as much; a great many such roads. There are many roads scattered
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