( Originally Published 1915 )
IT rained in the night—rain on a tin roof. The sound was tantalising, for one would stay awake to enjoy it, yet was lulled to sleep by the music of the patter.
The Illustrator was not so sentimentally affected. I heard him sigh heavily as he grew aware of this descent from the heavens. His voice floated out from the darkness of his room: " There! I knew it would rain if I had that car washed ! "
By leaving off my hair-net I managed to get down to breakfast before the stern dining-room doors were closed. W- is always let in grudgingly after the bars are up, by pleading that his breakfast is ordered.
While touring in America, I noticed that the size of the first meal increased from the European coffee and crescent roll to fruit, cereal, eggs and griddle-cakes. It was the prospect of griddle-cakes that got my travelling companion down-stairs shortly after the closing hour.
Cakes are the breakfast specialty of every hotel in New England, and they are accompanied by Vermont maple syrup, running the whole gamut of colour, from the deep shade of New Orleans molasses to a palish tinge, like moonshine whiskey. I interviewed a number of waitresses on this diversity of colour and only one of them had any theory beyond that " it comes that way." Three days later a gloomy girl in glasses said, in defence of the paler syrup, that she "'sposed trees had as much right to be anemic as folks." It was not a pleasant thought—this drinking up the life-blood of invalid maples—and we put sugar, made from healthy beets, on our cakes that morning.
Breakfast is never a grouchy meal to the motorist. The maps are distributed among the bird bathtubs, and if one does not like his present environment, he can fix his eye on a black line, leading directly from the hotel which he knows he will soon be taking. He knows, too, that it will not be a black line on the face of the green earth, but a white highway, bordered by flowers, sprinkled with chickens, and conducting him through a lovely landscape to other hostelries where he may again play the game of chance.
Although guests stay through the summer in these hotels, and settled white-haired ladies live the year round in some of them, the feeling—to the motorist at least is that all are in transit. Conscious of this, we pass the biscuits to table companions politely, for no better reason than that we may be wanting gasoline, or some such commodity of them further along the route.
At our table, which chanced to be a long one, there were several sprightly ladies whom we had seen at the hotel the day before. The woman who owned the car was paying her lengthy bill at the desk as we had approached to register (!) for luncheon, and she was saying, with what might be called manly courage, that a charge for telephone to summon her car from their garage was a " bit thick," and she didn't intend to stand for it.
I hung about long enough to find out that the ten cents was removed from the main sum, and saw her leave with her friends, two men on the box, and an engine as long as a four-in-hand.
It was pleasant to see how she accommodated herself to the simplicity of this Inn. Like all philosophers who travel far (the phrase is unnecessary, for all who travel far become philosophers), there was none of that cheap belittling of modest customs which was once thought to constitute wit.
Indeed, I think we are all growing out of the boarding-house form of badinage. Food is not as humorous as it once was. Possibly the gravity of paying for the most inconsequential steak in these days makes a direct appeal to our esteem. It is a solemn matter.
There were other women guests spending the summer in Bennington who were going off to a " circle," from ten to one, to knit socks for the Belgians. This was the real spirit for this famous Revolutionary town. Only one of them lacked the enthusiasm of citizeness Molly Stark by declaring that three hours of knitting was too much for her. " Her knitting," said a small lady, in a small voice, after she had quitted the room, " is too much for a Belgian as well."
Bennington is so full of historical spots that one need but look out of his bedroom window to sightsee. He can even confine himself to his room. The Walloomsac Inn was built, as I was told the night before, in 1776, by Captain Elijah Dewey, who was not a captain for being an inn-keeper, but for distinguishing himself in every war to which his long legs could carry him.
While there was much assembling of officers in this hostelry, it was the Green Mountain Tavern, a little farther along, which saw many of the incidents of the Revolution. Not content with being the first Vermont state house, it was the general headquarters of Ethan Allen. Here, after the battle of Lexington, he mustered the Green Mountain Boys for the taking of Ticonderoga; here, with drawn sword, he sent flying Benedict Arnold, who had been sent to take command of this regiment; here he made his plans for the battle of Bennington. And here so many bowls of punch were drunk, to judge by an old bill carefully preserved, that I was in a frenzy to get out and see the place. I beg that my enthusiasm will not arouse you, for, after all this, I discovered that the building had had the bad taste to burn down a year before I was born.
In the midst of the country's disorders the landlord of this tavern had placed a stuffed catamount over his door, and while it may not have been put there as an emblem of Ethan Allen, from what we gather of this vigorous warrior it was not unfitting.
Now a bronze catamount is erected on the site, serving, with Yankee thrift, the purpose of commemorating the tavern and Ethan Allen, and snarling pointedly, as well, toward the Breckenridge farm, which New York state and New Hampshire each claimed. It was on this farm that Allen and his famous Boys dispersed the New York sheriff and a posse of seven hundred men, who had come to take possession of the land. This successful effort made Breckenridge farm practically the birthplace of Vermont, for the state then was but part of the New Hampshire grants. And it arrived at its final name of Vermont after a period of existence as New Connecticut.
It is interesting to read of the continual internecine strife among the states to claim lands as their own, and to discourage rather than encourage the development of new states, while at the same time they were in unison against a foreign controlling power. It may be some satisfaction to New York that the battle of Bennington was, after all, four miles from the town near its own village of Hoosick. But neither New York state, nor any other state nor country, for that mat-ter, can claim as lofty a shaft of stone erected to the memory of a battle.
If one is pressed for time and the engine sings purringly, let the motorist by all means see the monument. It commemorates a battle of three days, raw boys against a trained foreign leader with Indian allies. At one time it would seem that they might fail, but Captain Seth Warner roused the tired men into greater zeal by announcing that they would soon have reinforcements, and to fight on until their arrival. The dramatic imagination of the leader was sufficient. The British withdrew, and Seth Warner was become a hero from a well-placed lie.
Even if one does not stop for all the tablets that a growing appreciation of heroic events is placing in position, he cannot but feel the vigour of the town that has ever been contending for the right. After the French and Indian War and the Revolution, came the struggle to free the slaves. William Lloyd Garrison established his first anti-slavery newspaper here in 1828, and years later, in the cellars of some of these old houses now standing, slaves were hidden by day, and sent a Godspeed by night toward Canada. The town is making an industrial fight at present, to vie with other manufacturing centres, and this, in times of peace, is surely as fit a means of righteous advancement as any other form of development.
We were loath to leave Bennington. Indeed, we found ourselves quitting each charming old town with a regret that was only equalled by a desire to see more charming old towns. Besides, the day was coquettish, blue sky to tease you along and grey clouds, like fat policemen, hovering about, as much as to say, " Dance in the sun-shine when you can, we are apt to ` close up ' this nonsense."
As we turned out of the new town toward Manchester we passed a soldiers' home, fittingly located here. One old fellow was walking feebly along the road. Both the chauffeur and the Illustrator saluted him, but he did not reply, and I felt that the Grand Army of the Republic was getting old, indeed, when it found no joy in the return of a courtesy.
We stopped at the ancient covered bridge across the Walloomsac River for W to make a sketch. He went about it full of revolutionary zeal, and I assisted him over a stone fence and handed him his materials. It was one of his arguments when we first tremulously discussed buying a car that it would be a great saving of expense. On pinning him down the saving was in a sketching stool and occasional pennies for the borrowing of a chair, for, he contended, he would never have to get out of the machine at all.
But compositions in nature must be wooed by sitting in damp alleys or wet fields or dirty farmyards—anywhere in fact that a motor cannot go. In this case he leaped from rock to rock in the river, seeking the best vantage points, each leap followed by a contortion of the body in the effort to recover his balance, which would have been funny except that our artist could both see and hear me.
Having explored the river he returned to the less dangerous spot which he had first selected—the usual course of procedure—and went to work. It was very quiet. I could hear our little clock tick, and the click of golf balls on the course across the road. The tumbling of the river but added to the peace, or as some one else has more beautifully put it: " The noises that go to make up the great silence."
After a while W spoke, in fragments, and, to a stranger, after the fashion of a madman. " Well—don't," he said. A pause. " I'll give you five more minutes." Another pause. Our young driver looked at me inquiringly. I shook my head. " Oh, come on "—impatiently from the artist.
I watched the road and called to him. " It will be here soon."
" Do you see it? " excitedly from him.
" It's coming here it is."
And the sun, creeping down the road, shone upon the Illustrator's subject. With hasty strokes he put in the lights and shadows, which he had been waiting to get.
" Got him, doggone him, but he was sickly," and the Illustrator climbed back into the car.
The sun has always been at variance with him, and in England, owing to his tenacity of purpose, I have often despaired of motoring beyond the first sketch. And it is particularly annoying after putting in weak high lights, as it were, to find one's self in a white heat of sunshine a little further on.
A little further on the sun was shining so beautifully on a house that I begged for a photograph, and in this way we stopped and talked to Ruby, who was skipping a rope, and said the house of sunshine was hers.
Ruby was a little girl, with an old-fashioned blond pig-tail, who was uncertain about her last name. Her father worked in a mill whose wheels were turned by the water in front of her own doorstep. She had a father, but no last name, she contended, and we were much embarrassed by the social problem presented.
However, she was in those tender years when all conventions were but phrases learned in books and used at random. She accepted chocolates at our hands, and when gently prodded into a fitting reply for these benefits, hopped in the mud and said, "You're welcome." Possibly she recognised that we were the real benefactors, following the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
As she expressed a desire to dance before the wheels, when we made ready to go we took her into the car with us and gave her a little ride, as the only sure avoidance of running over her. Her mother, who was hanging out clothes in the yard, waved to us complacently as we, in the evident process of kidnapping, went by. It is astonishing how a woman with a baby in one arm and a handbag in the other will trust any stranger with carrying the child while she suspiciously holds on to the bag.
I expressed this to W—, and the chauffeur, who is ordinarily a silent young man, burst into a story, which, as part of a motor trip, although no part of a motor, shall be recorded. It was about his aunt and dog, both of whom lived in a New York flat, and the dog " died on her." She was fond of the animal and would not consign it to the gutter. So she laid it out in a neat box and prepared for a trip to Staten Island where friends would give it a Christian burial.
It was a heavy dog, and she had other parcels, and when a kindly man at the ferry gates offered to relieve her, she, without explanation, granted him the large trim coffin. She never saw him again, or, rather, she saw but his coat tails as he flew across, Battery Park with his stolen valuables.
" And everybody thought my aunt was crazy the way she laughed," he concluded, leaving the real denouement to our own imagination. Which was very delicate of one who does not make an income out of stories.
Wooing the sunshine became our principal occupation that day, but the country was so delightful that the Illustrator could not forbear sketching, and as I discovered that the only way to avoid being in a photograph was to take it I carried the camera.
We stopped at four cross-roads because there was a mill and a pond and ducks. I was some time learning that the place was South Shafts-bury, for I asked the name of a man driving by in a wagon, and found that he was tongue-tied. Still Thouth Thathbury was fascinating—barring the sun and the ducks. The sun would shine on the Illustrator but not on his subject, and while I photographed him a number of times in a strong high light, and told him so, he replied, rather savagely, that he could not sketch him-self, and if he did a cloud would burst all over him.
The ducks, when it came time to be drawn, swam under the bridge and had to be pebbled into position. A pretty girl, of about sixteen, crossed the bridge carrying her father's dinner. She was the miller's daughter and very good at pebbling. She said ducks were " kind of unruly," and laughed pleasantly; her hair blew about, and she was so altogether what a miller's daughter ought to be that I found our young chauffeur making frantic efforts to get out his derby before she had passed on.
Her pretty friendliness drove me into the mill to see what nice kind of father she possessed. He was a gentle little man with spectacles, who would have better fitted a high stool in a banking office, except that in New England even the road-menders have a certain mental air about them, and I put this down to a longer American pedigree than the rest of our country can boast.
I told him that I was from Indiana and that my grandfather had a flour mill, too. " Did it run by steam? " he asked. I was obliged to admit that it did. " Mine goes by the water-power and the old wheel still," he answered. He looked about the small granary peacefully. " Time has passed me by, I guess."
There was no bitterness in his voice. No man is a failure who does not lament it.
I told him that the artist did not pass him by and nodded toward the Illustrator. At which he smiled in rather an embarrassed way, and in the silence offered me some wheat that had come from Indiana. This I accepted, solemnly putting it into my mouth, and I grew very young again, as I made my way to the car munching the kernels into a paste, as I had done in my grand-father's mill a good many years ago.
My grandfather and I used to drive home in a sort of phaeton that had a little seat in front which folded up, making itself small and low against the dashboard. I thought of him as we whirled on in the automobile. He died before even the electric trams were installed, but he took my mother many miles to see the first train go through their part of the country. " It's not going to stop here," she tells me he said. And I began wishing passionately that he could be enjoying the motor trip with us up to Manchester.
An old farmer, looking as did James A. Herne in Shore Acres, jogged by, bowing to us, a custom that is dying out since the road has become more generally peopled. But they all spoke to my grandfather when we drove out in the sort of phaeton to see the early wheat, and it got into my head, along with the sunshine, and the wind, and scudding clouds, that he was really sitting alongside of me commanding the old-time recognition.
Soon after we met a lad driving a road scraper, who cursed us so long and loud for startling his horses that I think the old, old gentleman by my side was frightened away. At all events we became very material and hungry, and speeded up for Manchester.
The Automobile Club of Vermont, who, no doubt, employed the youth who cursed us, has sign-posted the roads ably, and it was near Arlington that we found a warning of a railway crossing ahead, such as we had seen only in France. It is a large painted sign of a white picket fence, which is excellent to the traveller whose pace is rapid. That is, it is excellent if the motorist knows what the white picket fence stands for. But one soon learns these symbols, and after nine years' experience, I can almost tell which way the road will curve when we are confronted by a large " S " and a small black dot representing the automobile.
Beyond Arlington (which has the pleasant innovation of oil-lamps bracketed to the elms in its one wide street) we stopped again, for the sun was shining and there were Alderney cows on the safe side of a stone fence in a mood for having their pictures taken. I had no sooner descended with the camera, however, than I discovered on my side the fence a young ram with an aspiration to try, not his budding wings, but his budding horns. This bucolic incident sent us on to fashionable Manchester in a spirit ready for the resumption of genteel life.
The town had been prefaced by advertisements urging us to buy Dutchess trousers on one board and twin beds on another. Our chauffeur, under the impression that the title Duchess was spelled with a " t " became wildly anti-suffragette over the sign. He said Plymouth Rock was a good enough name for trousers, but to call them after a lady was an insult both to the lady and the wearing apparel. He, for one, would never wear them.
We thought the urging of a motoring party by a shopkeeper to buy twin beds and carry them along with the rest of the impedimenta was quite as foolish, and our perplexity was not ironed out until we reached the outskirts of the village. Here we discovered that it was an inn so elaborately airing its equipment. And a very sad-looking inn it was in spite of its appealing furnishings.
We passed the famous Ekwanok Country Club on our right before arriving at the Equinox House. Here the National Amateur Golf Championship was played in July over a course as perfect as one can find in America. Indeed, this country club appears to be the raison d'etre of Manchester and the hotel. The Equinox Mountains on our left and the Green Mountains on the right may have had something to do with the success of Manchester some years back, but one feels that the beauties of climate and landscape are, at present, subsidiary to the value of the clicking ball.
The hotel is like a vast club in itself. A call board in the hallway is plastered with announcements of coming events and records of past con-tests; sporting prints adorn the wall, and I could find no stationery at the desks in the writing-room, but an unlimited number of score-cards.
The rooms were very pleasant. A selection of furniture can be harmonious yet not limited to any one period. One cannot see this more charmingly exemplified than in the present instance. Outside it was perfectly uniform, its succession of white temples added to the old building as requirements demanded, but inside was a medley of past and present with none of the air of an auction-room.
The men and women were in outing clothes, but there was the same controlled enthusiasm among them that we found in all of the hotels. It was rather a relief to hear one husband ask his wife if she had packed up everything.
" I have, cross-patch," she answered.
" Bet you left out something," he growled.
But he had lost his morning game of golf.
We left just as the orchestra had set in playing—for one is spared eating to ragtime—and we motored away to the tune of " He Wouldn't Believe Me." Neither " he " nor any one else would believe that, after the turn of the road at Manchester Depot, we were still within a stone's throw of luxury. It is this sudden plunging into what appears to be unexplored country, after one has enjoyed every comfort known to hotel science, that makes motoring in America so distinct from that in any other land. It is hard to find a more satisfactory combination. Rugged scenery and a soft bed at the end of the day should reach both stoic and epicurean.
We crossed the Green Mountains with Cornish for our destination—provided we were not too highly entertained en route—over the Peru Turn-pike. A turnpike originally meant a road on which a toll-gate is established, and the custom is still maintained over the Peru Mountain. The collection was made by a man as ancient as the sign on which was painted the tariff, both of them disinclined to any innovation beyond an addendum in irregular script at the bottom of the list of taxable vehicles, to the effect that an auto-mobile must pay fifty cents.
This was a " bit stiff " for a road not worth a dime, yet not out of proportion to other charges, for a " pleasure sleigh," drawn by two horses, commanded twenty cents, and one can imagine nothing less wearing to the road than a pleasure sleigh.
For the honour of Vermont we were glad to learn that this pass over the mountains was owned by a private concern. Years back they had se-cured a franchise as enduring as an endless chain, and had so far defeated the legislature from taking over the road, and the care of it, by the state. There were men at work improving the way as we bumped along, wearing red flannel shirts, like individual danger-signals, each hiding his shame of the roadbed behind a fierce moustache. I caught the eye of one as it was uneasily shifting from one rut to another. " Ideal tour, eh? " I questioned. " I get you," he answered.
We have a flippant friend who has evolved a creed out of mental science, pure-food talks, and the current urgings to better ourselves. It recurred to me as we went over this pass: " Look up, not down; look out, not in; chew your food; lend a hand."
One need follow only the first mandate to feel that this five miles of poor going is worth the effort. When we looked up all difficulties ceased, for nothing could be more lovely than the woods through which we were passing or the views of rolling mountains that the cleared spaces disclosed. It was from these hills that Ethan Allen drew those wondrous " Boys," stern as the rock-ribbed land in their purpose, rich as the forest growth in their strength, yet with a surface equipment as poor as the road which we traversed. Come to think of it—and now that we are over the mountain—I shouldn't have that road any different.
As though we were not appreciating the landscape sufficiently, a clean new sign suddenly announced: " Go slow, you are approaching leaving us in delicious doubt until we had rounded the next curve and found that this was but the first installment of a series. " Some of the grandest scenery on earth—" continued the eulogy, until it ended up in a fifth placard advising us to stop at the Bromley House, Peru.
We did this, attracted by a large stuffed bear outside the hotel, with our affections held by an English sheep dog and a collie who, in the friendliest fashion, leaped upon and knocked me down.
There was a well, with a sweep, in the yard—something that our chauffeur had never seen before and who begged for an explanation of the long pole with the bucket on the end. It occurred to me of the number of things which we will have to explain to the young people who are now toddling about. The wells themselves will soon be obsolete, many kinds of wagons and private carriages, and street-cars, with horses, are already being defined to the youngster of the alert West-ern town. It is only New York City which sports a small car drawn by a meagre horse with the glorious sign of " Metropolitan."
The proprietor of the Bromley Inn came vaguely down to greet us. His face had been recently cut and scarred, and it was evident that he was suffering under some mental and physical depression. As a result of this it was difficut to find his vulnerable point. The geniality of a Boniface seemed to be entirely lacking. He has on the exterior wall of his home a large fire-place of cobblestones, and although this was a novelty he was indifferent to our praise of it. Preferably we would not have praised it, as it seems rather foolish to heat all creation when, by going around on the other side the wall, one could be more comfortable with less expense for fuel.
Nor did he grow warm to our mild enthusiasm over the stuffed bear. It was not until I, feeling that it was time for the truth, admitted rather tartly that I hated to see wild animals stuffed and set up for people to stare at that he thawed at all. He said he didn't like it either, and as far as he was concerned he would rather have a live bear for a companion than a live man.
He walked down the road with us toward a large paddock, where he had brought up some deer. They came running to greet him, and leaped in the air like little lambkins at play. The dogs were very jealous, and all the animals vied with each other for his favour. He owned large tracts of virgin forests about here, virgin forests, he emphasised, and there was a glow in the words that set the imagination tingling. Forests where man had never trod ! And if we ever had time to come back and stay with him, he would take us there.
"The animals live as they should, and as long as I can hold on to that property they are going to continue that way. A bear up in my woods," he concluded, " doesn't know what a shot means."
We shook hands at parting and he broke through his wall of Yankee reserve to ask that we pardon any stiffness we might find in his manner. " I had a bad fire last week," he said, as though ashamed of his emotion. " My ancestral home burned down. I like old things and I'm sort of lonely still. You come back in the spring. The spring makes everything all right."
Ah ! the cry of us all. How we count upon recreation to stir the sluggish blood in our hearts.
We learned more of our old gentleman at our next stopping-place. We need not have stopped, we knew that we could never get to our friends in Cornish that night if we continued puttering along the way. But puttering is one of the joys of the motorist. For years I looked from car-windows, looked regretfully as we whirled past old farmhouses which deserved a second glance, past brooks that one should sit by, woods one should enter for a while, but the relentless wheels carried us on until we had arrived at some dull wooden station which no one wished to see, bearing on the front the name of a muddy town which no one wished to visit.
In revenge for these years we now stop when-ever we wish, and at Rowell's Inn, near Simonsville, we flung ourselves out and rushed upon Mr. Rowell. There is a tumbling brook within sound of the bedrooms in this spotless inn, there are mountains at the back, with a good road for good cheer in front, and there is Mrs. Rowell in the kitchen, famous for her cooking, and Mr. Row-ell on the front porch to tell us all about it.
He asked immediately of the melancholy old gentleman whom we had just left and if his scars had healed. It was then we learned that he had risked his life trying to get his mother-in-law out of his burning ancestral home. " He is a hero," said Mr. Rowell. We thought it very like the proprietor of Bromley's Inn to have said nothing of this, rather permitting us to carry away an impression of his taciturnity than any more glowing attribute.
" And to do it for his mother-in-law," delicately commented the Illustrator. All of which was very unnecessary, as he has the best mother-in-law in the world, but Mr. Rowell smiled indulgently and said he guessed the world would be a good deal older than it is before the mother-in-law joke grew stale. This quieted the Illustrator, who wants to be the original discoverer of all jokes.
We left the inn mad with regret, and we advise such of those as have no waiting friends in Cornish to spend the night there, or at least to stay for a meal. With a little connivance the traveller can avoid all the big hotels and find him-self living most excellently in the country hostelries. That is, if he " loves the cows and chick-ens," and is not too keen " to raise the dickens."
Such a trip as the one we had just made over the Green Mountains deserves a lodge in the wilderness at the end of the run. I would not urge it should we make ourselves uncomfortable. Fresh air is excellent, no doubt, yet I find those who have been sniffing adulterated ozone ever since their birth to be in the enjoyment of as good health as those who have known only the Simon-pure article. But lodges in the wilderness like Rowell's Inn have tiled bathrooms, running water, spotless linen—on twin beds, and there is air besides.
We departed from Simonsville, not knowing we had entered it, so minute is the village, and in this manner acquired and quitted minuter Londonderry—on past scattered houses, each with something to sell: sweet cider and soft drinks; rag carpets and gasoline ; home-made pies and overalls.
There were sawmills along the route, and the only one comestible not for sale was sawdust. Stern placards at every mill absolutely forbade us to buy sawdust. As time went on we grew peevish over this, and felt the necessity for saw-dust as we had never felt it before. We realised, for the first time, the various uses we could have made of a large sack of this commodity. If we broke down we could sleep upon it; the chauffeur said we could, at a pinch, extract some nourishment from it. And I argued that, with the purchase of a machine of several tons' pressure, we could evolve this shifting valuable into trays, toy dogs, Nubian boys, and, no doubt, hats and gloves.
But there was nothing to do save to drive past these lost opportunities as rapidly as possible, concentrating on a sign which urged us to buy our soda water at Dodge's. Dodge is an enter-prising man, filling the woods for miles with his impassioned plea. The only trouble with Dodge is his too early attack upon the automobilist. Long before we reached his pharmacy our thirst had so developed by the tempting advertisement that we stopped at a soda fountain this side his much-vaunted one, slaking our thirst and driving past Dodge's without the expenditure of a dime.
At Chester we stopped for the cheapest gasoline on the trip. The boy who brought it out said, between set teeth, that Chester was bound every auto would stop there if only for a minute, and nothing stopped a rich man like cheap gasoline. It was an uncomfortable truth, but one could not deny the enterprise of the village. Even those who travel by rail were not forgotten. In the shop from which our gasoline was pro-cured was another sign indicating that mileage could be " Bought, Sold, or Rented."
And this brought us up, with a bump, against the railway once more. When one motors he immediately forgets that there is any other way of getting about, and after a day in the woods is snobbishly surprised to hear that trains are running at all.
In the growing dusk we picked our way toward Springfield, directed, or rather misdirected, by a perfect fury of red arrows which, had they not been nailed to trees, could have slaughtered a regiment. It was this deadly insistent attack that set me to wondering who put up the first arrow as an emblem to point the way.
I leaned over and asked W this and, not knowing, he pretended not to hear me. But who did? Our imagination now embraces the full meaning of that sharp little point. Nothing could be more fitting. But who thought of it first? I again prodded the Illustrator. " The worst of it is," I said to him, " there isn't any way of finding out except to ask and ask and ask." Still he did not answer, and I sat back moodily.
We were approaching the mill town of Spring-field, Vermont, in a thick darkness. We could never get to Cornish, and, while not admitting it, we were looking for the Adna Brown Hotel for our resting-place. It was on our left and could not be missed, and while it was not a tourist hotel, a lanky boy came out promptly to take off the baggage. I started briskly up the stairs to-ward the desk, as it is ever my duty to look after the rooms, but the Illustrator stopped me. He is a marvellous man—he always knows of what I am thinking.
I absolutely forbid you," he said, " to ask the clerk who put up the first arrow to point the way. This is a travelling man's hotel and they'll think we're crazy."
So I didn't—until morning.