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Around the World on a Bicycle V1 by Thomas Stevens

Part 2 out of 9

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A genuine Laramie Plains rain-storm is hovering overhead as I pull out
of Rock Creek, after dinner, and in a little while the performance begins.
There is nothing of the gentle pattering shower about a rain and wind
storm on these elevated plains; it comes on with a blow and a bluster
that threatens to take one off his feet. The rain is dashed about in the
air by the wild, blustering wind, and comes from all directions at the
same time. While you are frantically hanging on to your hat, the wind
playfully unbuttons your rubber coat and lifts it up over your head and
flaps the wet, muddy corners about in your face and eyes; and, ere you
can disentangle your features from the cold uncomfortable embrace of the
wet mackintosh, the rain - which "falls" upward as well as down, and
sidewise, and every other way-has wet you through up as high as the
armpits; and then the gentle zephyrs complete your discomfiture by
purloining your hat and making off across the sodden plain with it, at
a pace that defies pursuit. The storm winds up in a pelting shower of
hailstones - round chunks of ice that cause me to wince whenever one makes
a square hit, and they strike the steel spokes of the bicycle and make
them produce harmonious sounds. Trundling through Cooper Lake Basin,
after dark, I get occasional glimpses of mysterious shadowy objects
flitting hither and thither through the dusky pall around me. The basin
is full of antelope, and my presence here in the darkness fills them
with consternation; their keen scent and instinctive knowledge of a
strange presence warn them of my proximity; and as they cannot see me
in the darkness they are flitting about in wild alarm. Stopping for the
night at Lookout, I make an early start, in order to reach Laramie City
for dinner. These Laramie Plains "can smile and look pretty" when they
choose, and, as I bowl along over a fairly good road this sunny Sunday
morning, they certainly choose. The Laramie River on my left, the Medicine
Bow and Snowy ranges - black and white respectively - towering aloft to the
right, and the intervening plains dotted with herds of antelope, complete
a picture that can be seen nowhere save on the Laramie Plains. Reaching
a swell of the plains, that almost rises to the dignity of a hill, I can
see the nickel-plated wheels of the Laramie wheelmen glistening in the
sunlight on the opposite side of the river several miles from where I
stand. They have come out a few miles to meet me, but have taken the
wrong side of the river, thinking I had crossed below Rock Creek. The
members of the Laramie Bicycle Club are the first wheelmen I have seen
since leaving California; and, as I am personally acquainted at Laramie,
it is needless to dwell on my reception at their hands. The rambles of
the Laramie Club are well known to the cycling world from the many
interesting letters from the graphic pen of their captain, Mr. Owen,
who, with two other members, once took a tour on their wheels to the
Yellowstone National Park. They have some very good natural roads around
Laramie, but in their rambles over the mountains these "rough riders of
the Rockies" necessarily take risks that are unknown to their fraternal
brethren farther east.

Tuesday morning I pull out to scale the last range that separates me
from "the plains" - popularly known as such - and, upon arriving at the
summit, I pause to take a farewell view of the great and wonderful inter-
mountain country, across whose mountains, plains, and deserts I have
been travelling in so novel a manner for the last month. The view from
where I stand is magnificent - ay, sublime beyond human power to describe -
and well calculated to make an indelible impression on the mind of one gazing
upon it, perhaps for the last time. The Laramie Plains extend northward
and westward, like a billowy green sea. Emerging from a black canon
behind Jelm Mountain, the Laramie River winds its serpentine course in
a northeast direction until lost to view behind the abutting mountains
of the range, on which I now stand, receiving tribute in its course from
the Little Laramie and numbers of smaller streams that emerge from the
mountainous bulwarks forming the western border of the marvellous picture
now before me. The unusual rains have filled the numberless depressions
of the plains with ponds and lakelets that in their green setting glisten
and glimmer in the bright morning sunshine like gems. A train is coming
from the west, winding around among them as if searching out the most
beautiful, and finally halts at Laramie City, which nestles in their
midst - the fairest gem of them all - the "Gem of the Rockies." Sheep
Mountain, the embodiment of all that is massive and indestructible, juts boldly
and defiantly forward as though its mission were to stand guard over all
that lies to the west. The Medicine Bow Eange is now seen to greater
advantage, and a bald mountain-top here and there protrudes above the
dark forests, timidly, as if ashamed of its nakedness. Our old friend,
Elk Mountain, is still in view, a stately and magnificent pile, serving
as a land-mark for a hundred miles around. Beyond all this, to the west
and south - a good hundred miles away - are the snowy ranges; their hoary
peaks of glistening purity penetrating the vast blue dome above, like
monarchs in royal vestments robed. Still others are seen, white and
shadowy, stretching away down into Colorado, peak beyond peak, ridge
beyond ridge, until lost in the impenetrable distance.

As I lean on my bicycle on this mountain-top, drinking in the glorious
scene, and inhaling the ozone-laden air, looking through the loop-holes
of recent experiences in crossing the great wonderland to the west; its
strange intermingling of forest-clad hills and grassy valleys; its barren,
rocky mountains and dreary, desolate plains; its vast, snowy solitudes
and its sunny, sylvan nooks; the no less strange intermingling of people;
the wandering red-skin with his pathetic history; the feverishly hopeful
prospector, toiling and searching for precious metals locked in the
eternal hills; and the wild and free cow-boy who, mounted on his wiry
bronco, roams these plains and mountains, free as the Arab of the desert -
I heave a sigh as I realize that no tongue or pen of mine can hope to do
the subject justice.

My road is now over Cheyenne Pass, and from this point is mostly down-grade
to Cheyenne. Soon I come to a naturally smooth granite surface which
extends for twelve miles, where I have to keep the brake set most of the
distance, and the constant friction heats the brake-spoon and scorches
the rubber tire black. To-night I reach Cheyenne, where I find a bicycle
club of twenty members, and where the fame of my journey from San Francisco
draws such a crowd on the corner where I alight, that a blue-coated
guardian of the city's sidewalks requests me to saunter on over to the
hotel. Do I. Yes, I saunter over. The Cheyenne "cops" are bold, bad men
to trifle with. They have to be "bold, bad men to trifle with," or the
wild, wicked cow-boys would come in and "paint the city red " altogether
too frequently. It is the morning of June 4th as I bid farewell to the
"Magic City," and, turning my back to the mountains, ride away over very
fair roads toward the rising sun. I am not long out before meeting with
that characteristic feature of a scene on the Western plains, a "prairie
schooner;" and meeting prairie schooners will now be a daily incident
of my eastward journey. Many of these "pilgrims" come from the backwoods
of Missouri and Arkansas, or the rural districts of some other Western
State, where the persevering, but at present circumscribed, cycler has
not yet had time to penetrate, and the bicycle is therefore to them a
wonder to be gazed at and commented on, generally - it must be admitted -
in language more fluent as to words than in knowledge of the subject
discussed. Not far from where the trail leads out of Crow Creek bottom
on to the higher table-land, I find the grassy plain smoother than the
wagon-trail, and bowl along for a short distance as easily as one could
wish. But not for long is this permitted; the ground becomes covered
with a carpeting of small, loose cacti that stick to the rubber tire
with the clinging tenacity of a cuckle-burr to a mule's tail. Of course
they scrape off again as they come round to the bridge of the fork, but
it isn't the tire picking them up that fills me with lynx-eyed vigilance
and alarm; it is the dreaded possibility of taking a header among these
awful vegetables that unnerves one, starts the cold chills chasing each
other up and down my spinal column, and causes staring big beads of
perspiration to ooze out of my forehead. No more appalling physical
calamity on a small scale could befall a person than to take a header
on to a cactus-covered greensward; millions of miniature needles would
fill his tender hide with prickly sensations, and his vision with floating
stars. It would perchance cast clouds of gloom over his whole life.
Henceforth he would be a solemn-visaged, bilious-eyed needle-cushion
among men, and would never smile again. I once knew a young man named
Whipple, who sat down on a bunch of these cacti at a picnic in Virginia
Dale, Wyo., and he never smiled again. Two meek-eyed maidens of the
Rockies invited him to come and take a seat between them on a thin,
innocuous-looking layer of hay. Smilingly poor, unsuspecting Whipple
accepted the invitation; jokingly he suggested that it would be a rose
between two thorns. But immediately he sat down he became convinced that
it was the liveliest thorn - or rather millions of thorns - between two
roses. Of course the two meek-eyed maidens didn't know it was there, how
should they. But, all the same, he never smiled again - not on them.

At the section-house, where I call for dinner, I make the mistake of
leaving the bicycle behind the house, and the woman takes me for an
uncommercial traveller - yes, a tramp. She snaps out, "We can't feed
everybody that comes along," and shuts the door in my face. Yesterday I
was the centre of admiring crowds in the richest city of its size in
America; to-day I am mistaken for a hungry-eyed tramp, and spurned from
the door by a woman with a faded calico dress and a wrathy what - are?
look in her eye. Such is life in the Far West.

Gradually the Rockies have receded from my range of vision, and I am
alone on the boundless prairie. There is a feeling of utter isolation
at finding one's self alone on the plains that is not experienced in the
mountain country. There is something tangible and companionable about a
mountain; but here, where there is no object in view anywhere - nothing
but the boundless, level plains, stretching away on every hand as far
as the eye can reach, I and all around, whichever way one looks, nothing
but the green carpet below and the cerulean arch above-one feels that
he is the sole occupant of a vast region of otherwise unoccupied space.
This evening, while fording Pole Creek with the bicycle, my clothes, and
shoes - all at the same time - the latter fall in the river; and m my wild
scramble after the shoes I drop some of the clothes; then I drop the
machine in my effort to save the clothes, and wind up by falling down
in the water with everything. Everything is fished out again all right,
but a sad change has come over the clothes and shoes. This morning I was
mistaken for a homeless, friendless wanderer; this evening as I stand
on the bank of Pole Creek with nothing over me but a thin mantle of
native modesty, and ruefully wring the water out of my clothes, I feel
considerably like one. Pine Bluffs provides me with shelter for the
night, and a few miles' travel next morning takes me across the boundary-line
into Nebraska My route leads down Pole Creek, with ridable roads probably
half the distance, and low, rocky bluffs lining both sides of the narrow
valley, and leading up to high, rolling prairie beyond. Over these rocky
bluffs the Indians were wont to stampede herds of buffalo, which falling
over the precipitous bluffs, would be killed by hundreds, thus procuring
an abundance of beef for the long winter. There are no buffalo here now
- they have departed with the Indians - and I shall never have a chance to
add a bison to my game-list on this tour. But they have left plenty of
tangible evidence behind, in the shape of numerous deeply worn trails
leading from the bluffs to the creek.

The prairie hereabouts is spangled with a wealth of divers-colored flowers
that fill the morning air with gratifying perfume. The air is soft and
balmy, in striking contrast to the chilly atmosphere of early morning
in the mountain country, where the accumulated snows of a thousand winters
exert their chilling influence in opposition to the benign rays of old
Sol. This evening I pass through "Prairie-dog City," the largest
congregation of prairie-dog dwellings met with on the tour. The "city"
covers hundreds of acres of ground, and the dogs come out in such
multitudes to present their noisy and excitable protests against my
intrusion, that I consider myself quite justified in shooting at them.
I hit one old fellow fair and square, but he disappears like a flash
down his hole, which now becomes his grave. The lightning-like movements
of the prairie-dog, and his instinctive inclination toward his home,
combine to perform the last sad rites of burial for his body at death.
As, toward dark, I near Potter Station, where I expect accommodation for
the night, a storm comes howling from the west, and it soon resolves
into a race between me and the storm. With a good ridable road I could
win the race; but, being handicapped with an unridable trail, nearly
obscured beneath tall, rank grass, the storm overtakes me, and comes in
at Potter Station a winner by about three hundred lengths.

In the morning I start out in good season, and, nearing Sidney, the road
becomes better, and I sweep into that enterprising town at a becoming
pace. I conclude to remain at Sidney for dinner, and pass the remainder
of the forenoon visiting the neighboring fort.

CHAPTER IV.

FROM THE GREAT PLAINS TO THE ATLANTIC.

Through the courtesy of the commanding officer at Fort Sidney I am enabled
to resume my journey eastward under the grateful shade of a military
summer helmet in lieu of the semi-sombrero slouch that has lasted me
through from San Francisco. Certainly it is not without feelings of
compunction that one discards an old friend, that has gallantly stood
by me through thick and thin throughout the eventful journey across the
inter-mountain country; but the white helmet gives such a delightfully
imposing air to my otherwise forlorn and woebegone figure that I ride
out of Sidney feeling quite vain. The first thing done is to fill a poor
yellow-spotted snake - whose head is boring in the sand - with lively
surprise, by riding over his mottled carcass; and only the fact of the
tire being rubber, and not steel, enables him to escape unscathed. This
same evening, while halting for the night at Lodge Pole Station, the
opportunity of observing the awe-inspiring aspect of a great thunder-storm
on the plains presents itself. With absolutely nothing to obstruct the.
vision the Alpha and Omega of the whole spectacle are plainly observable.
The gradual mustering of the forces is near the Rockies to the westward,
then the skirmish-line of fleecy cloudlets comes rolling and tumbling
in advance, bringing a current of air that causes the ponderous wind-mill
at the railway tank to "about face" sharply, and sets its giant arms
to whirling vigorously around. Behind comes the compact, inky veil that
spreads itself over the whole blue canopy above, seemingly banishing all
hope of the future; and athwart its Cimmerian surface shoot zigzag streaks
of lightning, accompanied by heavy, muttering thunder that rolls and
reverberates over the boundless plains seemingly conscious of the
spaciousness of its play-ground. Broad sheets of electric flame play
along the ground, filling the air with a strange, unnatural light; heavy,
pattering raindrops begin to fall, and, ten minutes after, a pelting,
pitiless down-pour is drenching the sod-cabin of the lonely rancher,
and, for the time being, converting the level plain into a shallow lake.
A fleet of prairie schooners is anchored in the South Platte bottom,
waiting for it to dry up, as I trundle down that stream - every mile made
interesting by reminiscences of Indian fights and massacres - next day,
toward Ogallala; and one of the "Pilgrims" looks wise as I approach,
and propounds the query, "Does it hev ter git very muddy afore yer kin
ride yer verlocify, mister?" "Ya-as, purty dog-goned muddy," I drawl
out in reply; for, although comprehending his meaning, I don't care to
venture into an explanatory lecture of uncertain length. Seven weeks'
travel through bicycleless territory would undoubtedly convert an angel
into a hardened prevaricator, so far as answering questions is concerned.
This afternoon is passed the first homestead, as distinguished from a
ranch-consisting of a small tent pitched near a few acres of newly
upturned prairie - in the picket-line of the great agricultural empire
that is gradually creeping westward over the plains, crowding the
autocratic cattle-kings and their herds farther west,. even as the Indians
and their still greater herds - buffaloes - have been crowded out by the
latter. At Ogallala--which but a few years ago was par excellence the
cow-boys' rallying point - "homesteads," "timber claims," and "pre-emption"
now form the all-absorbing topic. "The Platte's 'petered' since the
hoosiers have begun to settle it up," deprecatingly reflects a bronzed
cow-boy at the hotel supper-table; and, from his standpoint, he is
correct. Passing the next night in the dug-out of a homesteader, in the
forks of the North and South Platte, I pass in the morning Buffalo Bill's
home ranch (the place where a ranch proprietor himself resides is
denominated the "home ranch" as distinctive from a ranch presided over
by employes only), the house and improvements of which are said to be
the finest in Western Nebraska. Taking dinner at North Platte City, I
cross over a substantial wagon-bridge, spanning the turgid yellow stream
just below where the north and south branches fork, and proceed eastward
as " the Platte " simply, reaching Brady Island for the night. Here I
encounter extraordinary difficulties in getting supper. Four families,
representing the Union Pacific force at this place, all living in separate
houses, constitute the population of Brady Island. "All our folks are
just recovering from the scarlet fever," is the reply to my first
application; "Muvver's down to ve darden on ve island, and we ain't dot
no bread baked," says a barefooted youth at house No. 2; "Me ould ooman's
across ter the naybur's, 'n' there ain't a boite av grub cooked in the
shanty," answers the proprietor of No. 3, seated on the threshold, puffing
vigorously at the traditional short clay; "We all to Nord Blatte been
to veesit, und shust back ter home got mit notings gooked," winds up the
gloomy programme at No. 4. I am hesitating about whether to crawl in
somewhere, supperless, for the night, or push on farther through the
darkness, when, "I don't care, pa! it's a shame for a stranger to come
here where there are four families and have to go without supper," greet
my ears in a musical, tremulous voice. It is the convalescent daughter
of house No. 1, valiantly championing my cause; and so well does she
succeed that her "pa" comes out, and notwithstanding my protests, insists
on setting out the best they have cooked. Homesteads now become more
frequent, groves of young cottonwoods, representing timber claims, are
occasionally encountered, and section-house accommodation becomes a thing
of the past.

Near Willow Island I come within a trifle of stepping on a belligerent
rattlesnake, and in a moment his deadly fangs are hooked to one of the
thick canvas gaiters I am wearing. Were my exquisitely outlined calves
encased in cycling stockings only, I should have had a "heap sick foot"
to amuse myself with for the next three weeks, though there is little
danger of being "snuffed out" entirely by a rattlesnake favor these
days; an all-potent remedy is to drink plenty of whiskey as quickly as
possible after being bitten, and whiskey is one of the easiest things
to obtain in the West. Giving his snakeship to understand that I don't
appreciate his ''good intentions " by vigorously shaking him off, I
turn my "barker "loose on him, and quickly convert him into a "goody-good
snake; " for if "the only good Indian is a dead one," surely the same
terse remark applies with much greater force to the vicious and deadly
rattler. As I progress eastward, sod-houses and dug-outs become less
frequent, and at long intervals frame school-houses appear to remind me
that I am passing through a civilized country. Stretches of sand alternate
with ridable roads all down the Platte. Often I have to ticklishly wobble
along a narrow space between two yawning ruts, over ground that is
anything but smooth. I consider it a lucky day that passes without adding
one or more to my long and eventful list of headers, and to-day I am
fairly "unhorsed" by a squall of wind that-taking me unawares-blows
me and the bicycle fairly over.

East of Plum Creek a greater proportion of ridable road is encountered,
but they still continue to be nothing more than well-worn wagon-trails
across the prairie, and when teams are met en route westward one has to
give and the other take, in order to pass. It is doubtless owing to
misunderstanding a cycler's capacities, rather than ill-nature, that
makes these Western teamsters oblivious to the precept, "It is better
to give than to receive;" and if ignorance is bliss, an outfit I meet
to-day ought to comprise the happiest mortals in existence. Near Elm
Creek I meet a train of "schooners," whose drivers fail to recognize
my right to one of the two wheel-tracks; and in my endeavor to ride past
them on the uneven greensward, I am rewarded by an inglorious header. A
dozen freckled Arkansawish faces are watching my movements with undisguised
astonishment; and when my crest - alien self is spread out on the prairie,
these faces - one and all - resolve into expansive grins, and a squeaking
female voice from out nearest wagon, pipes: "La me! that's a right smart
chance of a travelling machine, but, if that's the way they stop 'em, I
wonder they don't break every blessed bone in their body." But all sorts
of people are mingled promiscuously here, for, soon after this incident,
two young men come running across the prairie from a semi-dug-out, who
prove to be college graduates from "the Hub," who are rooting prairie
here in Nebraska, preferring the free, independent life of a Western
farmer to the restraints of a position at an Eastern desk. They are more
conversant with cycling affairs than myself, and, having heard of my
tour, have been on the lookout, expecting I would pass this way. At
Kearney Junction the roads are excellent, and everything is satisfactory;
but an hour's ride east of that city I am shocked at the gross misconduct
of a vigorous and vociferous young mule who is confined alone in a
pasture, presumably to be weaned. He evidently mistakes the picturesque
combination of man and machine for his mother, as, on seeing us approach,
he assumes a thirsty, anxious expression, raises his unmusical, undignified
voice, and endeavors to jump the fence. He follows along the whole length
of the pasture, and when he gets to the end, and realizes that I am
drawing away from him, perhaps forever, he bawls out in an agony of grief
and anxiety, and, recklessly bursting through the fence, comes tearing
down the road, filling the air with the unmelodious notes of his soul-
harrowing music. The road is excellent for a piece, and I lead him a
lively chase, but he finally overtakes me, and, when I slow up, he jogs
along behind quite contentedly. East of Kearney the sod-houses disappear
entirely, and the improvements are of a more substantial character. At
"Wood River I "make my bow" to the first growth of natural timber since
leaving the mountains, which indicates my gradual advance off the vast
timberless plains. Passing through Grand Island, Central City, and other
towns, I find myself anchored Saturday evening, June 14th, at Duncan - a
settlement of Polackers - an honest-hearted set of folks, who seem to
thoroughly understand a cycler's digestive capacity, though understanding
nothing whatever about the uses of the machine. Resuming my journey next
morning, I find the roads fair. After crossing the Loup River, and passing
through Columbus, I reach-about 11 A.M.- a country school-house, with a
gathering of farmers hanging around outside, awaiting the arrival of the
parson to open the meeting. Alighting, I am engaged in answering forty
questions or thereabouts to the minute when that pious individual canters
up, and, dismounting from his nag, comes forward and joins in the
conversation. He invites me to stop over and hear the sermon; and when
I beg to be excused because desirous of pushing ahead while the weather
is favorable His Reverence solemnly warns me against desecrating the
Sabbath by going farther than the prescribed "Sabbath-day's journey."

At Premont I bid farewell to the Platte - which turns south and joins the
Missouri River at Plattsmouth - and follow the old military road through
the Elkhorn Valley to Omaha. "Military road" sounds like music in a
cycler's ear - suggestive of a well-kept and well-graded highway; but this
particular military road between Fremont and Omaha fails to awaken any
blithesome sensations to-day, for it is almost one continuous mud-hole.
It is called a military road simply from being the route formerly traversed
by troops and supply trains bound for the Western forts. Besting a day
in Omaha, I obtain a permit to trundle my wheel across the Union Pacific
Bridge that spans the Missouri River - the "Big Muddy," toward which I
have been travelling so long - between Omaha and Council Bluffs; I bid
farewell to Nebraska, and cross over to Iowa. Heretofore I have omitted
mentioning the tremendously hot weather I have encountered lately, because
of my inability to produce legally tangible evidence; but to-day, while
eating dinner at a farm-house, I leave the bicycle standing against the
fence, and old Sol ruthlessly unsticks the tire, so that, when I mount,
it comes off, and gives me a gymnastic lesson all unnecessary. My first
day's experience in the great "Hawkeye State" speaks volumes for the
hospitality of the people, there being quite a rivalry between two
neighboring farmers about which should take me in to dinner. A compromise
is finally made, by which I am to eat dinner at one place, and be "turned
loose" in a cherry orchard afterward at the other, to which happy
arrangement I, of course, enter no objections. In striking contrast to
these friendly advances is my own unpardonable conduct the same evening
in conversation with an honest old farmer.

"I see you are taking notes. I suppose you keep track of the crops as
you travel along?" says the H. O. F. "Certainly, I take more notice of
the crops than anything; I'm a natural born agriculturist myself." "Well,"
continues the farmer, "right here where we stand is Carson Township."
"Ah! indeed. Is it possible that I have at last arrived at Carson Township."
"You have heard of the township before, then, eh." "Heard of it!
why, man alive, Carson Township is all the talk out in the Rockies; in
fact, it is known all over the world as the finest Township for corn in
Iowa." This sort of conduct is, I admit, unwarrantable in the extreme;
but cycling is responsible for it all. If continuous cycling is productive
of a superfluity of exhilaration, and said exhilaration bubbles over
occasionally, plainly the bicycle is to blame. So forcibly does this
latter fact intrude upon me as I shake hands with the farmer, and
congratulate him on his rare good fortune in belonging to Carson Township
that I mount, and with a view of taking a little of the shine out of it,
ride down the long, steep hill leading to the bridge across the Nishnebotene
River at a tremendous pace. The machine "kicks" against this treatment,
however, and, when about half wray down, it strikes a hole and sends me
spinning and gyrating through space; and when I finally strike terra
firma, it thumps me unmercifully in the ribs ere it lets me up. "Variable"
is the word descriptive of the Iowa roads; for seventy-five miles due
east of Omaha the prairie rolls like a heavy Atlantic swell, and during
a day's journey I pass through a dozen alternate stretches of muddy and
dusky road; for like a huge watering-pot do the rain-clouds pass to and
fro over this great garden of the West, that is practically one continuous
fertile farm from the Missouri to the Mississippi. Passing through Des
Moines on the 23d, muddy roads and hot, thunder-showery weather characterize
my journey through Central Iowa, aggravated by the inevitable question,
"Why don't you ride?" one Solomon-visaged individual asking me if the
railway company wouldn't permit me to ride along one of the rails. No
base, unworthy suspicions of a cycler's inability to ride on a two-inch
rail finds lodgement in the mind of this wiseacre; but his compassionate
heart is moved with tender solicitude as to whether the soulless "company"
will, or will not, permit it. Hurrying timorously through Grinnell - the
city that was badly demolished and scattered all over the surrounding
country by a cyclone in 1882 - I pause at Victor, where I find the inhabitants
highly elated over the prospect of building a new jail with the fines
nightly inflicted on graders employed on a new railroad near by, who
come to town and "hilare" every evening. " What kind of a place do you
call this." I inquire, on arriving at a queer-looking town twenty-five
miles west of Iowa City.

"This is South Amana, one of the towns of the Amana Society," is the
civil reply. The Amana Society is found upon inquiry to be a communism
of Germans, numbering 15,000 souls, and owning 50,000 acres of choice
land in a body, with woollen factories, four small towns, and the best
of credit everywhere. Everything is common property, and upon withdrawal
or expulsion, a member takes with him only the value of what he brought
in. The domestic relations are as usual; and while no person of ambition
would be content with the conditions of life here, the slow, ease-loving,
methodical people composing the society seem well satisfied with their
lot, and are, perhaps, happier, on the whole, than the average outsider.
I remain here for dinner, and take a look around. The people, the
buildings, the language, the food, everything, is precisely as if it had
been picked up bodily in some rural district in Germany, and set down
unaltered here in Iowa. "Wie gehts," I venture, as I wheel past a couple
of plump, rosy-cheeked maidens, in the quaint, old-fashioned garb of the
German peasantry. "Wie gehts," is the demure reply from them, both at
once; but not the shadow of a dimple responds to my unhappy attempt to
win from them a smile. Pretty but not coquettish are these communistic
maidens of Amana. At Tiffin, the stilly air of night, is made joyous with
the mellifluous voices of whip-poor-wills-the first I have heard on the
tour-and their tuneful concert is impressed on my memory in happy contrast
to certain other concerts, both vocal and instrumental, endured en route.
Passing through Iowa City, crossing Cedar River at Moscow, nine days
after crossing the Missouri, I hear the distant whistle of a Mississippi
steamboat. Its hoarse voice is sweetest music to me, heralding the fact
that two-thirds of my long tour across the continent is completed.
Crossing the "Father of Waters" over the splendid government bridge
between Davenport and Rock Island, I pass over into Illinois. For several
miles my route leads up the Mississippi River bottom, over sandy roads;
but nearing Rock River, the sand disappears, and, for some distance, an
excellent road winds through the oak-groves lining this beautiful stream.
The green woods are free from underbrush, and a cool undercurrent of air
plays amid the leafy shades, which, if not ambrosial, are none the less
grateful, as it registers over 100 in the sun; without, the silvery
sheen of the river glimmers through the interspaces; the dulcet notes
of church-bells come floating on the breeze from over the river, seeming
to proclaim, with their melodious tongues, peace and good-will to all.
Eock River, with its 300 yards in width of unbridged waters, now obstructs
my path, and the ferryboat is tied up on the other shore. "Whoop-ee,"
I yell at the ferryman's hut opposite, but without receiving any response.
"Wh-o-o-p-e-ee," I repeat in a gentle, civilized voice-learned, by the
by, two years ago on the Crow reservation in Montana, and which sets the
surrounding atmosphere in a whirl and drowns out the music of the church-
bells it has no effect whatever on the case-hardened ferryman in the
hut; he pays no heed whatever until my persuasive voice is augmented by
the voices of two new arrivals in a buggy, when he sallies serenely forth
and slowly ferries us across. Riding along rather indifferent roads,
between farms worth $100 an acre, through the handsome town of Genesee,
stopping over night at Atkinson, I resume my journey next morning through
a country abounding in all that goes to make people prosperous, if not
happy. Pretty names are given to places hereabouts, for on my left I
pass "Pink Prairie, bordered with Green River." Crossing over into
Bureau County, I find splendid gravelled roads, and spend a most agreeable
hour with the jolly Bicycle Club, of Princeton, the handsome county seat
of Bureau County, Pushing on to Lamoille for the night, the enterprising
village barber there hustles me into his cosey shop, and shaves, shampoos,
shingles, bay-rums, and otherwise manipulates me, to the great enhancement
of my personal appearance, all, so he says, for the honor of having
lathered the chin of the "great and only--" In fact, the Illinoisians
seem to be most excellent folks. After three days' journey through the
great Prairie State my head is fairly turned with kindness and flattery;
but the third night, as if to rebuke my vanity, I am bluntly refused
shelter at three different farm-houses. I am benighted, and conclude to
make the best of it by "turning in" under a hay-cock; but the Fox River
mosquitoes oust me in short order, and compel me to "mosey along" through
the gloomy night to Yorkville. At Yorkville a stout German, on being
informed that I am going to ride to Chicago, replies, "What. Ghigago mit
dot. Why, mine dear Yellow, Ghi-gago's more as vorty miles; you gan't
ride mit dot to Ghigago;" and the old fellow's eyes fairly bulge with
astonishment at the bare idea of riding forty miles "mit dot." I
considerately refrain from telling him of my already 2,500-mile jaunt
"mit dot," lest an apoplectic fit should waft his Teutonic soul to realms
of sauer-kraut bliss and Limburger happiness forever. On the morning of
July 4th I roll into Chicago, where, having persuaded myself that I
deserve a few days' rest, I remain till the Democratic Convention winds
up on the 13th.

Fifteen miles of good riding and three of tough trundling, through deep
sand, brings me into Indiana, which for the first thirty-five miles
around the southern shore of Lake Michigan is "simply and solely sand."
Finding it next to impossible to traverse the wagon-roads, I trundle
around the water's edge, where the sand is firmer because wet. After
twenty miles of this I have to shoulder the bicycle and scale the huge
sand-dunes that border the lake here, and after wandering for an hour
through a bewildering wilderness of swamps, sand-hills, and hickory
thickets, I finally reach Miller Station for the night. This place is
enough to give one the yellow-edged blues: nothing but swamps, sand,
sad-eyed turtles, and ruthless, relentless mosquitoes. At Chesterton the
roads improve, but still enough sand remains to break the force of
headers, which, notwithstanding my long experience on the road, I still
manage to execute with undesirable frequency. To-day I take one, and
while unravelling myself and congratulating my lucky stars at being in
a lonely spot where none can witness my discomfiture, a gruff, sarcastic
"haw-haw" falls like a funeral knell on my ear, and a lanky "Hoosier"
rides up on a diminutive pumpkin-colored mule that looks a veritable
pygmy between his hoop-pole legs. It is but justice to explain that this
latter incident did not occur in "Posey County."

At La Porte the roads improve for some distance, but once again I am
benighted, and sleep under a wheat-shock. Traversing several miles of
corduroy road, through huckleberry swamps, next morning, I reach Cram's
Point for breakfast. A remnant of some Indian tribe still lingers around
here and gathers huckleberries for the market, two squaws being in the
village purchasing supplies for their camp in the swamps. "What's the
name of these Indians here?" I ask.. "One of em's Blinkie, and t'other's
Seven-up," is the reply, in a voice that implies such profound knowledge
of the subject that I forbear to investigate further.

Splendid gravel roads lead from Crum's Point to South Bend, and on through
Mishawaka, alternating with sandy stretches to Goshen, which town is
said - by the Goshenites - to be the prettiest in Indiana; but there seems
to be considerable pride of locality in the great Hoosier State, and I
venture there are scores of "prettiest towns in Indiana." Nevertheless,
Goshen is certainly a very handsome place, with unusually broad, well-shaded
streets; the centre of a magnificent farming country, it is romantically
situated on the banks of the beautiful Elkhart Eiver. At "Wawaka I find
a corpulent 300-pound cycler, who, being afraid to trust his jumbolean
proportions on an ordinary machine, has had an extra stout bone-shaker
made to order, and goes out on short runs with a couple of neighbor
wheelmen, who, being about fifty per cent, less bulky, ride regulation
wheels. "Jumbo" goes all right when mounted, but, being unable to mount
without aid, he seldom ventures abroad by himself for fear of having to
foot it back. Ninety-five degrees in the shade characterizes the weather
these days, and I generally make a few miles in the gloaming - not, of
course, because it is cooler, but because the "gloaming" is so delightfully
romantic.

At ten o'clock in the morning, July 17th, I bowl across the boundary
line into Ohio. Following the Merchants' and Bankers' Telegraph road to
Napoleon, I pass through a district where the rain has overlooked them
for two months; the rear wheel of the bicycle is half buried in hot dust;
the blackberries are dead on the bushes, and the long-suffering corn
looks as though afflicted with the yellow jaundice. I sup this same
evening with a family of Germans, who have been settled here forty years,
and scarcely know a word of English yet. A fat, phlegmatic-looking baby
is peacefully reposing in a cradle, which is simply half a monster pumpkin
scooped out and dried; it is the most intensely rustic cradle in the
world. Surely, this youngster's head ought to be level on agricultural
affairs, when he grows up, if anybody's ought. From Napoleon my route
leads up the Maumee River and canal, first trying the tow-path of the
latter, and then relinquishing it for the very fair wagon-road. The
Maumee River, winding through its splendid rich valley, seems to possess
a peculiar beauty all its own, and my mind, unbidden, mentally compares
it with our old friend, the Humboldt. The latter stream traverses dreary
plains, where almost nothing but sagebrush grows; the Maumee waters a
smiling valley, where orchards, fields, and meadows alternate with sugar-
maple groves, and in its fair bosom reflects beautiful landscape views,
that are changed and rebeautified by the master-hand of the sun every hour
of the day, and doubly embellished at night by the moon. It is whispered that
during " the late unpleasantness " the Ohio regiments could out-yell the
Louisiana tigers, or any other Confederate troops, two to one. Who has not
heard the "Ohio yell?" Most people are magnanimously inclined to regard this
rumor as simply a "gag" on the Buckeye boys; but it isn't. The Ohioans
are to the manner born; the "Buckeye yell" is a tangible fact. All along the
Maumee it resounds in my ears; nearly every man or boy, who from the
fields, far or near, sees me bowling along the road, straightway delivers
himself of a yell, pure and simple. At Perrysburg, I strike the famous
"Maumee pike"-forty miles of stone road, almost a dead level. The western
half is kept in rather poor repair these days; but from Fremont eastward it
is splendid wheeling. The atmosphere of Bellevue is blue with politics, and
myself and another innocent, unsuspecting individual, hailing from New York,
are enticed into a political meeting by a wily politician, and dexterously made to
pose before the assembled company as two gentlemen who have come - one
from the Atlantic, the other from the Pacific - to witness the overwhelming
success of the only honest, horny-handed, double-breasted patriots - the...
party. The roads are found rather sandy east of the pike, and the roadful
of wagons going to the circus, which exhibits to-day at Norwalk, causes
considerable annoyance.

Erie County, through which I am now passing, is one of the finest fruit
countries in the world, and many of the farmers keep open orchard. Staying
at Eidgeville overnight, I roll into Cleveland, and into the out-stretched
arms of a policeman, at 10 o'clock, next morning. "He was violating the
city ordinance by riding on the sidewalk," the arresting policeman informs
the captain. "Ah! he was, hey!" thunders the captain, in a hoarse, bass
voice that causes my knees to knock together with fear and trembling;
and the captain's eye seems to look clear through my trembling form.
"P-l-e-a-s-e, s-i-r, I d-i-d-n't t-r-y t-o d-o i-t," I falter, in a weak,
gasping voice that brings tears to the eyes of the assembled officers
and melts the captain's heart, so that he is already wavering between
justice and mercy when a local wheelman comes gallantly to the rescue,
and explains my natural ignorance of Cleveland's city laws, and I breathe
the joyous air of freedom once again. Three members of the Cleveland
Bicycle Club and a visiting wheelman accompany me ten miles out, riding
down far-famed Euclid Avenue, and calling at Lake View Cemetery to pay
a visit to Garfleld's tomb. I bid them farewell at Euclid village.
Following the ridge road leading along the shore of Lake Erie to Buffalo,
I ride through a most beautiful farming country, passing through "Willoughby
and Mentor-Garfield's old home. Splendidly kept roads pass between avenues
of stately maples, that cast a grateful shade athwart the highway, both
sides of which are lined with magnificent farms, whose fields and meadows
fairly groan beneath their wealth of produce, whose fructiferous orchards
arc marvels of productiveness, and whose barns and stables would be
veritable palaces to the sod-housed homesteaders on Nebraska's frontier
prairies. Prominent among them stands the old Garfield homestead - a fine
farm of one hundred and sixty-five acres, at present managed by Mrs.
Garfield's brother. Smiling villages nestling amid stately groves, rearing
white church-spires from out their green, bowery surroundings, dot the
low, broad, fertile shore-land to the left; the gleaming waters of Lake
Erie here and there glisten like burnished steel through the distant
interspaces, and away beyond stretches northward, like a vast mirror,
to kiss the blue Canadian skies. Near Conneaut I whirl the dust of the
Buckeye State from my tire and cress over into Pennsylvania, where, from
the little hamlet of Springfield, the roads become good, then better,
and finally best at Girard-the home of the veteran showman, Dan Rice,
the beautifying works of whose generous hand are everywhere visible in
his native town. Splendid is the road and delightful the country coming
east from Girard; even the red brick school-houses are embowered amid
leafy groves; and so it continues with ever-varying, ever-pleasing beauty
to Erie, after which the highway becomes hardly so good.

Twenty-four hours after entering Pennsylvania I make my exit across the
boundary into the Empire State. The roads continue good, and after
dinner I reach Westfield, six miles from the famous Lake Chautauqua,
which beautiful hill and forest embowered sheet of water is popularly
believed by many of its numerous local admirers to be the highest navigable
lake in the world. If so, however, Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains comes next, as it is about six thousand feet above the level
of the sea, and has three steamers plying on its waters. At Fredonia I
am shown through the celebrated watch-movement factory here, by the
captain of the Fredonia Club, who accompanies me to Silver Creek,
where we call on another enthusiastic wheelman-a physician who uses
the wheel in preference to a horse, in making professional calls
throughout the surround-in' country. Taking supper with the genial "Doc.,"
they both accompany me to the s.ummit of a steep hill leading up out of
the creek bottom. No wheelman has ever yet rode up this hill, save the
muscular and gritty captain of the Fredonia Club, though several have
attempted the feat. From the top my road ahead is plainly visible for miles,
leading through the broad and smiling Cattaraugus Valley that is spread
out like a vast garden below, through which Cattaraugus Creek slowly
winds its tortuous way. Stopping over night at Angola I proceed to
Buffalo next morning, catching the first glimpse of that important " seaport
of the lakes," where, fifteen miles across the bay, the wagon-road is
almost licked by the swashing waves; and entering the city over a " misfit"
plank-road, off which I am almost upset by the most audaciously
indifferent woman in the world. A market woman homeward bound with
her empty truck-wagon, recognizes my road-rights to the extent of barely
room to squeeze past between her wagon and the ditch; and holds her long,
stiff buggy-whip so that it " swipes " me viciously across the face, knocks
my helmet off into the mud ditch, and well-nigh upsets mo into the same.
The woman-a crimson-crested blonde - jogs serenely along without even
deigning to turn her head. Leaving the bicycle at "Isham's "-who volunteers
some slight repairs-I take a flying visit by rail to see Niagara Falls, returning
the same evening to enjoy the proffered hospitality of a genial member of
the Buffalo Bicycle Club. Seated on the piazza of his residence, on
Delaware Avenue, this evening, the symphonious voice of the club-whistle
is cast adrift whenever the glowing orb of a cycle-lamp heaves in sight
through the darkness, and several members of the club are thus rounded
up and their hearts captured by the witchery of a smile-a " smile " in
Buffalo, I hasten to explain, is no kin whatever to a Rocky Mountain "smile"
- far be it from it. This club-wliistle of the Buffalo Bicycle Club happens
to sing the same melodious song as the police - whistle at Washington, D.
C.; and the Buffalo cyclers who graced the national league - meet at the
Capital with their presence took a folio of club music along. A small
but frolicsome party of them on top of the Washington monument, "heaved
a sigh " from their whistles, at a comrade passing along the street
below, when a corpulent policeman, naturally mistaking it for a signal
from a brother "cop," hastened to climb the five hundred feet or thereabouts
of ascent up the monument. When he arrived, puffing and perspiring, to
the summit, and discovered his mistake, the wheelmen say he made such
awful use of the Queen's English that the atmosphere had a blue, sulphurous
tinge about it for some time after. Leaving Buffalo next morning I pass
through Batavia, where the wheelmen have a most aesthetic little club-room.
Besides being jovial and whole-souled fellows, they are awfully sesthetic;
and the sweetest little Japanese curios and bric-d-brac decorate the
walls and tables. Stopping over night at LeBoy, in company with the
president and captain of the LeBoy Club, I visit the State fish-hatchery
at Mumford next morning, and ride on through the Genesee Valley, finding
fair roads through the valley, though somewhat hilly and stony toward
Canandaigua. Inquiring the best road to Geneva I am advised of the
superiority of the one leading past the poor-house. Finding them somewhat
intricate, and being too super-sensitive to stop people and ask them the
road to the poor-house, I deservedly get lost, and am wandering erratically
eastward through the darkness, when I fortunately meet a wheelman in a
buggy, who directs me to his mother's farm-house near by, with instructions
to that most excellent lady to accommodate me for the night. Nine o'clock
next morning I reach fair Geneva, so beautifully situated on Seneca's
silvery lake, passing the State agricultural farm en route; continuing
on up the Seneca Eiver, passing-through Waterloo and Seneca Falls to
Cayuga, and from thence to Auburn and Skaneateles, where I heave a sigh
at the thoughts of leaving the last - I cannot say the loveliest, for all
are equally lovely - of that beautiful chain of lakes that transforms
this part of New York State into a vast and delightful summer resort.

"Down a romantic Swiss glen, where scores of sylvan nooks and rippling
rills invite one to cast about for fairies and sprites," is the word
descriptive of my route from Marcellus next morning. Once again, on
nearing the Camillus outlet from the narrow vale, I hear the sound of
Sunday bells, and after the church-bell-less Western wilds, it seems to
me that their notes have visited me amid beautiful scenes, strangely
often of late. Arriving at Camillus, I ask the name of the sparkling
little stream that dances along this fairy glen like a child at play,
absorbing the sun-rays and coquettishly reflecting them in the faces of
the venerable oaks that bend over it like loving guardians protecting
it from evil. My ears are prepared to hear a musical Indian name -
"Laughing-Waters " at least; but, like a week's washing ruthlessly intruding
upon love's young dream, falls on my waiting ears the unpoetic misnomer,
"Nine-Mile Creek." Over good roads to Syracuse, and from thence my route
leads down the Erie Canal, alternately riding down the canal tow-path,
the wagon-roads, and between the tracks of the New York Central Railway.
On the former, the greatest drawback to peaceful cycling is the towing-mule
and his unwarrantable animosity toward the bicycle, and the awful,
unmentionable profanity engendered thereby in the utterances of the
boatmen. Sometimes the burden of this sulphurous profanity is aimed at
me, sometimes at the inoffensive bicycle, or both of us collectively,
but oftener is it directed at the unspeakable mule, who is really the
only party to blame. A mule scares, not because he is really afraid, but
because he feels skittishly inclined to turn back, or to make trouble
between his enemies - the boatmen, his task-master, and the cycler, an
intruder on his exclusive domain, the Erie tow-path. A span of mules
will pretend to scare, whirl around, and jerk loose from the driver, and
go "scooting" back down the tow-path in a manner indicating that nothing
less than a stone wall would stop them; but, exactly in the nick of time
to prevent the tow-line jerking them sidewise into the canal, they stop.
Trust a mule for never losing his head when he runs away, as does his
hot-headed relative, the horse; who never once allows surrounding
circumstances to occupy his thoughts to an extent detrimental to his own
self-preservative interests. The Erie Canal mule's first mission in life
is to engender profanity and strife between boatmen and cyclists, and
the second is to work and chew hay, which brings him out about even with
the world all round. At Rome I enter the famous and beautiful Mohawk
Valley, a place long looked forward to with much pleasurable anticipation,
from having heard so often of its natural beauties and its interesting
historical associations. "It's the garden spot of the world; and
travellers who have been all over Europe and everywhere, say there's
nothing in the world to equal the quiet landscape beauty of the Mohawk
Valley," enthusiastically remarks an old gentelman in spectacles, whom
I chance to encounter on the heights east of Herkimer. Of the first
assertion I have nothing to say, having passed through a dozen "garden
spots of the world " on this tour across America; but there is no
gainsaying the fact that the Mohawk Valley, as viewed from this vantage
spot, is wonderfully beautiful. I think it must have been on this spot
that the poet received inspiration to compose the beautiful song that
is sung alike in the quiet homes of the valley itself and in the trapper's
and hunter's tent on the far off Yellowstone - "Fair is the vale where
the Mohawk gently glides, On its clear, shining way to the sea." The
valley ia one of the natural gateways of commerce, for, at Little Falls -
where it contracts to a mere pass between the hills - one can almost throw
a stone across six railway tracks, the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River.
Spending an hour looking over the magnificent Capitol building at Albany,
I cross the Hudson, and proceed to ride eastward between the two tracks
of the Boston & Albany Railroad, finding the riding very fair. From the
elevated road-bed I cast a longing, lingering look down the Hudson Valley,
that stretches away southward like a heaven-born dream, and sigh at the
impossibility of going two ways at once. " There's $50 fine for riding
a bicycle along the B. & A. Railroad," I am informed at Albany, but risk
it to Schodack, where I make inquiries of a section foreman. "No; there's
no foine; but av yeez are run over an' git killed, it'll be useless for
yeez to inther suit agin the company for damages," is the reassuring
reply; and the unpleasant visions of bankrupting fines dissolve in a
smile at this characteristic Milesian explanation. Crossing the Massachusetts
boundary at the village of State Line, I find the roads excellent; and,
thinking that the highways of the " Old Bay State " will be good enough
anywhere, I grow careless about the minute directions given me by Albany
wheelmen, and, ere long, am laboriously toiling over the heavy roads and
steep grades of the Berkshire Hills, endeavoring to get what consolation
I can, in return for unridable roads, out of the charming scenery, and
the many interesting features of the Berkshire-Hill country. It is at
Otis, in the midst of these hills, that I first become acquainted with
the peculiar New England dialect in its native home. The widely heralded
intellectual superiority of the Massachusetts fair ones asserts itself
even in the wildest parts of these wild hills; for at small farms - that,
in most States, would be characterized by bare-footed, brown-faced
housewives - I encounter spectacled ladies whose fair faces reflect the
encyclopaedia of knowledge within, and whose wise looks naturally fill
me with awe. At Westfield I learn that Karl Kron, the author and publisher
of the American roadbook, " Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle" - not to be
outdone by my exploit of floating the bicycle across the Humboldt - undertook
the perilous feat of swimming the Potomac with his bicycle suspended at
his waist, and had to be fished up from the bottom with a boat-hook.
Since then, however, I have seen the gentleman himself, who assures me
that the whole story is a canard. Over good roads to Springfield - and on
through to Palmer; from thence riding the whole distance to Worcester
between the tracks of the railway, in preference to the variable country
roads.

On to Boston next morning, now only forty miles away, I pass venerable
weather-worn mile-stones, set up in old colonial days, when the Great
West, now trailed across with the rubber hoof-marks of "the popular steed
of today," was a pathless wilderness, and on the maps a blank. Striking
the famous "sand-papered roads " at Framingham - which, by the by, ought
to be pumice-stoned a little to make them as good for cycling as stretches
of gravelled road near Springfield, Sandwich, and Piano, Ill.; La Porte,
and South Bend, Ind.; Mentor, and Willoughby, O.; Girard, Penn.; several
places on the ridge road between Erie and Buffalo, and the alkali flats
of the Rocky Mountain territories. Soon the blue intellectual haze
hovering over " the Hub " heaves in sight, and, at two o'clock in the
afternoon of August 4th, I roll into Boston, and whisper to the wild
waves of the sounding Atlantic what the sad sea-waves of the Pacific
were saying when I left there, just one hundred and three and a half
days ago, having wheeled about 3,700 miles to deliver the message. Passing
the winter of 1884-85 in New York, I became acquainted with the Outing
Magazine, contributed to it sketches of my tour across America, and in
the Spring of 1885 continued around the world as its special correspondent;
embarking April 9th from New York, for Liverpool, aboard the City of
Chicago.

CHAPTER V.

FROM AMERICA TO THE GERMAN FRONTIER.

At one P.M., on that day, the ponderous but shapely hull of the City of
Chicago, with its living and lively freight, moves from the dock as
though it, too, were endowed with mind as well with matter; the crowds that
a minute ago disappeared down the gangplank are now congregated on the
outer end of the pier, a compact mass of waving handkerchiefs, and
anxious-faced people shouting out signs of recognition to friends aboard
the departing steamer.

>From beginning to end of the voyage across the Atlantic the weather is
delightful; and the passengers - well, half the cabin-passengers are members
of Henry Irving's Lyceum Company en route home after their second
successful tour in America; and old voyagers abroad who have crossed the
Atlantic scores of times pronounce it altogether the most enjoyable trip
they ever experienced. The third day out we encountered a lonesome-looking
iceberg - an object that the captain seemed to think would be better
appreciated, and possibly more affectionately remembered, if viewed at
the respectful distance of about four miles. It proves a cold, unsympathetic
berg, yet extremely entertaining in its own way, since it accommodates
us by neutralizing pretty much all the surplus caloric in the atmosphere
around for hours after it has disappeared below the horizon of our vision.
I am particularly fortunate in finding among my fellow-passengers Mr.
Harry B. French, the traveller and author, from whom I obtain much
valuable information, particularly of China. Mr. French has travelled
some distance through the Flowery Kingdom himself, and thoughtfully
forewarns me to anticipate a particularly lively and interesting time
in invading that country with a vehicle so strange and incomprehensible
to the Celestial mind as a bicycle. This experienced gentleman informs
me, among other interesting things, that if five hundred chattering
Celestials batter down the door and swarm unannounced at midnight into
the apartment where I am endeavoring to get the first wink of sleep
obtained for a whole week, instead of following the natural inclinations
of an AngloSaxon to energetically defend his rights with a stuffed club,
I shall display Solomon-like wisdom by quietly submitting to the invasion,
and deferentially bowing to Chinese inquisitiveness. If, on an occasion
of this nature, one stationed himself behind the door, and, as a sort
of preliminary warning to the others, greeted the first interloper with
the business end of a boot-jack, he would be morally certain of a lively
one-sided misunderstanding that might end disastrously to himself;
whereas, by meekly submitting to a critical and exhaustive examination
by the assembled company, he might even become the recipient of an apology
for having had to batter down the door in order to satisfy their curiosity.
One needs more discretion than valor in dealing with the Chinese. At
noon on the 19th we reach Liverpool, where I find a letter awaiting me
from A. J. Wilson (Faed), inviting me to call on him at Powerscroft
House, London, and offering to tandem me through the intricate mazes of
the West End; likewise asking whether it would be agreeable to have him,
with others, accompany me from London down to the South coast - a programme
to which, it is needless to say, I entertain no objections. As the custom-
house officer wrenches a board off the broad, flat box containing my
American bicycle, several fellow-passengers, prompted by their curiosity
to obtain a peep at the machine which they have learned is to carry me
around the world, gather about; and one sympathetic lady, as she catches
a glimpse of the bright nickeled forks, exclaims, "Oh, what a shame
that they should be allowed to wrench the planks off. They might injure
it;" but a small tip thoroughly convinces the individual prying off the
board that, by removing one section and taking a conscientious squint
in the direction of the closed end, his duty to the British government
would be performed as faithfully as though everything were laid bare;
and the kind-hearted lady's apprehensions of possible injury are thus
happily allayed. In two hours after landing, the bicycle is safely stowed
away in the underground store-rooms of the Liverpool & Northwestern
Railway Company, and in two hours more I am wheeling rapidly toward
London, through neatly cultivated fields, and meadows and parks of that
intense greenness met with nowhere save in the British Isles, and which
causes a couple of native Americans, riding in the same compartment, and
who are visiting England for the first time, to express their admiration
of it all in the unmeasured language of the genuine Yankee when truly
astonished and delighted. Arriving in London I lose no time in seeking
out Mr. Bolton, a well-known wheelman, who has toured on the continent
probably as extensively as any other English cycler, and to whom I bear
a letter of introduction. Together, on Monday afternoon, we ruthlessly
invade the sanctums of the leading cycling papers in London. Mr. Bolton
is also able to give me several useful hints concerning wheeling through
France and Germany. Then comes the application for a passport, and the
inevitable unpleasantness of being suspected by every policeman and
detective about the government buildings of being a wild-eyed dynamiter
recently arrived from America with the fell purpose of blowing up the
place. On Tuesday I make a formal descent on the Chinese Embassy, to
seek information regarding the possibility of making a serpentine trail
through the Flowery Kingdom via Upper Burmah to Hong-Kong or Shanghai.
Here I learn from Dr. McCarty, the interpreter at the Embassy, as from
Mr. French, that, putting it as mildly as possible, I must expect a wild
time generally in getting through the interior of China with a bicycle.
The Doctor feels certain that I may reasonably anticipate the pleasure
of making my way through a howling wilderness of hooting Celestials from
one end of the country to the other. The great danger, he thinks, will
be not so much the well-known aversion of the Chinese to having an
"outer barbarian" penetrate the sacred interior of their country, as the
enormous crowds that would almost constantly surround me out of curiosity
at both rider and wheel, and the moral certainty of a foreigner unwittingly
doing something to offend the Chinamen's peculiar and deep-rooted notions
of propriety. This, it is easily seen, would be a peculiarly ticklish
thing to do when surrounded by surging masses of dangling pig-tails and
cerulean blouses, the wearers of which are from the start predisposed
to make things as unpleasant as possible. My own experience alone,
however, will prove the kind of reception I am likely to meet with among
them; and if they will only considerately refrain from impaling me on a
bamboo, after a barbarous and highly ingenious custom of theirs, I little
reck what other unpleasantries they have in store. After one remains in
the world long enough to find it out, he usually becomes less fastidious
about the future of things in general, than when in the hopeful days of
boyhood every prospect ahead was fringed with the golden expectations
of a budding and inexperienced imagery; nevertheless, a thoughtful,
meditative person, who realizes the necessity of drawing the line
somewhere, would naturally draw it at impalation. Not being conscious
of any presentiment savoring of impalation, however, the only request I
make of the Chinese, at present, is to place no insurmountable obstacle
against my pursuing the even-or uneven, as the case may be-tenor of my
way through their country. China, though, is several revolutions of my
fifty-inch wheel away to the eastward, at this present time of writing,
and speculations in regard to it are rather premature.

Soon after reaching London I have the pleasure of meeting "Faed," a
gentleman who carries his cycling enthusiasm almost where some people
are said to carry their hearts-on his sleeve; so that a very short
acquaintance only is necessary to convince one of being in the company
of a person whose interest in whirling wheels is of no ordinary nature.
When I present myself at Powerscroft House, Faed is busily wandering
around among the curves and angles of no less than three tricycles,
apparently endeavoring to encompass the complicated mechanism of all
three in one grand comprehensive effort of the mind, and the addition
of as many tricycle crates standing around makes the premises so suggestive
of a flourishing tricycle agency that an old gentleman, happening to
pass by at the moment, is really quite excusable in stopping and inquiring
the prices, with a view to purchasing one for himself. Our tandem ride
through the West End has to be indefinitely postponed, on account of my
time being limited, and our inability to procure readily a suitable
machine; and Mr. Wilson's bump of discretion would not permit him to
think of allowing me to attempt the feat of manoeuvring a tricycle myself
among the bewildering traffic of the metropolis, and risk bringing my
"wheel around the world" to an inglorious conclusion before being fairly
begun. While walking down Parliament Street my attention is called to a
venerable-looking gentleman wheeling briskly along among the throngs
of vehicles of every description, and I am informed that the bold tricycler
is none other than Major Knox Holmes, a vigorous youth of some seventy-eight
summers, who has recently accomplished the feat of riding one hundred
and fourteen miles in ten hours; for a person nearly eighty years of age
this is really quite a promising performance, and there is small doubt
but that when the gallant Major gets a little older - say when he becomes
a centenarian - he will develop into a veritable prodigy on the cinder-path!
Having obtained my passport, and got it vised for the Sultan's dominions
at the Turkish consulate, and placed in Faed's possession a bundle of
maps, which he generously volunteers to forward , to me, as I require
them in the various countries it is proposed to traverse, I return on
April 30th to Liverpool, from which point the formal start on the wheel
across England is to be made. Four o'clock in the afternoon of May 2d
is the time announced, and Edge Hill Church is the appointed place, where
Mr. Lawrence , Fletcher, of the Anfield Bicycle Club, and a number of
other Liverpool wheelmen, have volunteered to meet and accompany me some
distance out of the city. Several of the Liverpool daily papers have
made mention of the affair. Accordingly, upon arriving at the appointed
place and time, I find a crowd of several hundred people gathered to
satisfy their curiosity as to what sort of a looking individual it is
who has crossed America awheel, and furthermore proposes to accomplish
the greater feat of the circumlocution of the globe. A small sea of hats
is enthusiastically waved aloft; a ripple of applause escapes from five
hundred English throats as I mount my glistening bicycle; and, with the
assistance of a few policemen, the twenty-five Liverpool cyclers who
have assembled to accompany me out, extricate themselves from the crowd,
mount and fall into line two abreast; and merrily we wheel away down
Edge Lane and out of Liverpool.

English weather at this season is notoriously capricious, and the present
year it is unusually so, and ere the start is fairly made we are pedaling
along through quite a pelting shower, which, however, fails to make much
impression on the roads beyond causing the flinging of more or less mud.
The majority of my escort are members of the Anfield Club, who have the
enviable reputation of being among the hardest road-riders in England,
several members having accomplished over two hundred miles within the
twenty-four hours; and I am informed that Mr. Fletcher is soon to undertake
the task of beating the tricycle record over that already well-contested
route, from John O'Groat's to Land's End. Sixteen miles out I become
the happy recipient of hearty well-wishes innumerable, with the accompanying
hand-shaking, and my escort turn back toward home and Liverpool - all save
four, who wheel on to Warrington and remain overnight, with the avowed
intention of accompanying me twenty-five miles farther to-morrow morning.
Our Sunday morning experience begins with a shower of rain, which,
however, augurs well for the remainder of the day; and, save for a gentle
head wind, no reproachful remarks are heard about that much-criticised
individual, the clerk of the weather; especially as our road leads through
a country prolific of everything charming to one's sense of the beautiful.
Moreover, we are this morning bowling along the self-same highway that
in days of yore was among the favorite promenades of a distinguished and
enterprising individual known to every British juvenile as Dick Turpin - a
person who won imperishable renown, and the undying affection of the
small Briton of to-day, by making it unsafe along here for stage-coaches
and travellers indiscreet enough to carry valuables about with them.

"Think I'll get such roads as this all through England." I ask of my
escort as we wheel joyously southward along smooth, macadamized highways
that would make the "sand-papered roads" around Boston seem almost
unfit for cycling in comparison, and that lead through picturesque
villages and noble parks; occasionally catching a glimpse of a splendid
old manor among venerable trees, that makes one unconsciously begin
humming:- "The ancient homes of England, How beautiful they stand Amidst
the tall ancestral trees O'er all the pleasant land." "Oh, you'll get
much better roads than this in the southern counties," is the reply;
though, fresh from American roads, one can scarce see what shape the
improvements can possibly take. Out of Lancashire into Cheshire we wheel,
and my escort, after wishing me all manner of good fortune in hearty
Lancashire style, wheel about and hie themselves back toward the rumble
and roar of the world's greatest sea-port, leaving me to pedal pleasantly
southward along the green lanes and amid the quiet rural scenery of
Staffordshire to Stone, where I remain Sunday night. The country is
favored with another drenching down-pour of rain during the night, and
moisture relentlessly descends at short, unreliable intervals on Monday
morning, as I proceed toward Birmingham. Notwithstanding the superabundant
moisture the morning ride is a most enjoyable occasion, requiring but a
dash of sunshine to make everything perfect. The mystic voice of the
cuckoo is heard from many an emerald copse around; songsters that inhabit
only the green hedges and woods of "Merrie England" are carolling their
morning vespers in all directions; skylarks are soaring, soaring skyward,
warbling their unceasing paeans of praise as they gradually ascend into
cloudland's shadowy realms; and occasionally I bowl along beneath an
archway of spreading beeches that are colonized by crowds of noisy rooks
incessantly "cawing" their approval or disapproval of things in general.
Surely England, with its wellnigh perfect roads, the wonderful greenness
of its vegetation, and its roadsters that meet and regard their steel-ribbed
rivals with supreme indifference, is the natural paradise of 'cyclers.
There is no annoying dismounting for frightened horses on these happy
highways, for the English horse, though spirited and brim-ful of fire,
has long since accepted the inevitable, and either has made friends with
the wheelman and his swift-winged steed, or, what is equally agreeable,
maintain a a haughty reserve. Pushing along leisurely, between showers,
into Warwickshire, I reach Birmingham about three o'clock, and, after
spending an hour or so looking over some tricycle works, and calling for
a leather writing-case they are making especially for my tour, I wheel
on to Coventry, having the company, of Mr. Priest, Jr., of the tricycle
works, as far as Stonehouse. Between Birmingham and Coventry the recent
rainfall has evidently been less, and I mentally note this fifteen-mile
stretch of road as the finest traversed since leaving Liverpool, both
for width and smoothness of surface, it being a veritable boulevard.
Arriving at Coventry I call on "Brother Sturmey, " a gentleman well and
favorably known to readers of 'cycling literature everywhere; and, as I
feel considerably like deserving reasonably gentle treatment after
perseveringly pressing forward sixty miles in spite of the rain, I request
him to steer me into the Cyclists' Touring Club Hotel - an office which
he smilingly performs, and thoughtfully admonishes the proprietor to
handle me as tenderly as possible. I am piloted around to take a hurried
glance at Coventry, visiting, among other objects of interest, the Starley
Memorial. This memorial is interesting to 'cyclers from having been
erected by public subscription in recognition of the great interest Mr.
Starley took in the 'cycle industry, he having been, in fact, the father
of the interest in Coventry, and, consequently, the direct author of the
city's present prosperity. The mind of the British small boy along my
route has been taxed to its utmost to account for my white military
helmet, and various and interesting are the passing remarks heard in
consequence. The most general impression seems to be that I am direct
from the Soudan, some youthful Conservatives blandly intimating The
Starley Memorial, Coventry, that I am the advance-guard of a general
scuttle of the army out of Egypt, and that presently whole regiments of
white-helmeted wheelmen will come whirling along the roads on
nickel-plated steeds, some even going so far as to do me the honor of
calling me General Wolseley; while others - rising young Liberals,
probably - recklessly call me General Gordon, intimating by this that the
hero of Khartoum was not killed, after all, and is proving it by sweeping
through England on a bicycle, wearing a white helmet to prove his identity!

A pleasant ride along a splendid road, shaded for miles with rows of
spreading elms, brings me to the charming old village of Dunchurch, where
everything seems moss-grown and venerable with age. A squatty,
castle-like church-tower, that has stood the brunt of many
centuries, frowns down upon a cluster of picturesque, thatched
cottages of primitive architecture, and ivy-clad from top to bottom;
while, to make the picture complete, there remain even the old wooden
stocks, through the holes of which the feet of boozy unfortunates were
wont to be unceremoniously thrust in the good old times of rude simplicity;
in fact, the only really unprimitive building about the place appears
to be a newly erected Methodist chapel. It couldn't be - no, of course it
couldn't be possible, that there is any connecting link between the
American peculiarity of elevating the feet on the window-sill or the
drum of the heating-stove and this old-time custom of elevating the feet
of those of our ancestors possessed of boozy, hilarious proclivities!
At Weedon Barracks I make a short halt to watch the soldiers go through
the bayonet exercises, and suffer myself to be persuaded into quaffing
a mug of delicious, creamy stout at the canteen with a genial old sergeant,
a bronzed veteran who has seen active service in several of the tough
expeditions that England seems ever prone to undertake in various
uncivilized quarters of the world; after which I wheel away over old
Roman military roads, through Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire,
reaching Fenny Stratford just in time to find shelter against the
machinations of the "weather-clerk", who, having withheld rain nearly all
the afternoon, begins dispensing it again in the gloaming. It rains
uninterruptedly all night; but, although my route for some miles is now
down cross-country lanes, the rain has only made them rather disagreeable,
without rendering them in any respect unridable; and although I am among
the slopes of the Chiltern Hills, scarcely a dismount is necessary during
the forenoon. Spending the night at Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, I pull
out toward London on Thursday morning, and near Watford am highly gratified
at meeting Faed and the captain of the North London Tricycle Club, who
have come out on their tricycles from London to meet and escort me into
the metropolis. At Faed's suggestion I decide to remain over in London
until Saturday to be present at the annual tricycle meet on Barnes Common,
and together we wheel down the Edgeware Road, Park Road, among the
fashionable turnouts of Piccadilly, past Knightsbridge and Brompton to
the "Inventories" Exhibition, where we spend a most enjoyable afternoon
inspecting the thousand and one material evidences of inventive genius
from the several countries represented.

Five hundred and twelve 'cyclers, including forty-one tandem tricycles
and fifty ladies, ride in procession at the Barnes Common meet, making
quite an imposing array as they wheel two abreast between rows of
enthusiastic spectators. Here, among a host of other wheeling celebrities,
I am introduced to Major Knox Holmes, before mentioned as being a gentleman
of extraordinary powers of endurance, considering his advanced age. After
tea a number of tricyclers accompany me down as far as Croydon, which
place we enter to the pattering music of a drenching rain-storm,
experiencing the accompanying pleasure of a wet skin, etc. The threatening
aspect of the weather on the following morning causes part of our company
to hesitate about venturing any farther from London; but Faed and three
companions wheel with me toward Brighton through a gentle morning shower,
which soon clears away, however, and, before long, the combination of
the splendid Sussex roads, fine breezy weather, and lovely scenery, amply
repays us for the discomforts of yester-eve. Fourteen miles from Brighton
we are met by eight members of the Kempton Rangers Bicycle Club, who
have sallied forth thus far northward to escort us into town; having
done which, they deliver us over to Mr. C---, of the Brighton Tricycle
Club, and brother-in-law to the mayor of the city. It is two in the
afternoon. This gentleman straightway ingratiates himself into our united
affections, and wins our eternal gratitude, by giving us a regular
wheelman's dinner, after which he places us under still further obligations
by showing us as many of the lions of Brighton as are accessible on
Sunday, chief among which is the famous Brighton Aquarium, where, by his
influence, he kindly has the diving-birds and seals fed before their
usual hour, for our especial delectation-a proceeding which naturally
causes the barometer of our respective self-esteems to rise several
notches higher than usual, and doubtless gives equal satisfaction to the
seals and diving-birds. We linger at the aquarium until near sun-down,
and it is fifteen miles by what is considered the smoothest road to
Newhaven. Mr. C---- declares his intention of donning his riding-suit
and, by taking a shorter, though supposably rougher, road, reach Newhaven
as soon as we. As we halt at Lewes for tea, and ride leisurely, likewise
submitting to being photographed en route, he actually arrives there
ahead of us. It is Sunday evening, May 10th, and my ride through "Merrie
England " is at an end. Among other agreeable things to be ever remembered
in connection with it is the fact that it is the first three hundred
miles of road I ever remember riding over without scoring a header - a
circumstance that impresses itself none the less favorably perhaps when
viewed in connection with the solidity of the average English road. It
is not a very serious misadventure to take a flying header into a bed
of loose sand on an American country road; but the prospect of rooting
up a flint-stone with one's nose, or knocking a curb-stone loose with
one's bump of cautiousness, is an entirely different affair; consequently,
the universal smoothness of the surface of the English highways is
appreciated at its full value by at least one wheelman whose experience
of roads is nothing if not varied. Comfortable quarters are assigned me
on board the Channel steamer, and a few minutes after bidding friends
and England farewell, at Newhaven, at 11.30 P.M., I am gently rocked
into unconsciousness by the motion of the vessel, and remain happily and
restfully oblivious to my surroundings until awakened next morning at
Dieppe, where I find myself, in a few minutes, on a foreign shore. All
the way from San Francisco to Newhaven. there is a consciousness of being
practically in one country and among one people-people who, though
acknowledging separate governments, are bound so firmly together by the
ties of common instincts and interests, and the mystic brotherhood of a
common language and a common civilization, that nothing of a serious
nature can ever come between them. But now I am verily among strangers,
and the first thing talked of is to make me pay duty on the bicycle.

The captain of the vessel, into whose hands Mr. C---- assigned me at
Newhaven, protests on my behalf, and I likewise enter a gentle demurrer;
but the custom-house officer declares that a duty will have to be
forthcoming, saying that the amount will be returned again when I pass
over the German frontier. The captain finally advises the payment of the
duty and the acceptance of a receipt for the amount, and takes his leave.
Not feeling quite satisfied as yet about paying the duty, I take a short
stroll about Dieppe, leaving my wheel at tho custom-house and when I
shortly return, prepared to pay the assessment, whatever it may be, the
officer who, but thirty minutes since, declared emphatically in favor
of a duty, now answers, with all the politeness imaginable: "Monsieur
is at liberty to take the velocipede and go whithersoever he will." It
is a fairly prompt initiation into the impulsiveness of the French
character. They don't accept bicycles as baggage, though, on the Channel
steamers, and six shillings freight, over and above passage-money, has
to be yielded up.

Although upon a foreign shore, I am not yet, it seems, to be left entirely
alone to the tender mercies of my own lamentable inability to speak
French. Fortunately there lives at Dieppe a gentleman named Mr. Parkinson,
who, besides being an Englishman to the backbone, is quite an enthusiastic
wheelman, and, among other things, considers it his solemn duty to take
charge of visiting 'cyclers from England and America and see them safely
launched along the magnificent roadways of Normandy, headed fairly toward
their destination. Faed has thoughtfully notified Mr. Parkinson of my
approach, and he is watching for my coming - as tenderly as though I were
a returning prodigal and he charged with my welcoming home. Close under
the frowning battlements of Dieppe Castle - a once wellnigh impregnable
fortress that was some time in possession of the English - romantically
nestles Mr. Parldnson's studio, and that genial gentleman promptly
proposes accompanying me some distance into the country. On our way
through Dieppe I notice blue-bloused peasants guiding small flocks of
goats through the streets, calling them along with a peculiar, tuneful
instrument that sounds somewhat similar to a bagpipe. I learn that they
are Normandy peasants, who keep their flocks around town all summer,
goat's milk being considered beneficial for infants and invalids. They
lead the goats from house to house, and milk whatever quantity their
customers want at their own door - a custom that we can readily understand
will never become widely popular among AngloSaxon milkmen, since it
leaves no possible chance for pump-handle combinations and corresponding
profits. The morning is glorious with sunshine and the carols of feathered
songsters as together we speed away down the beautiful Arques Valley,
over roads that are simply perfect for wheeling; and, upon arriving at
the picturesque ruins of the Chateau d'Arques, we halt and take a casual
peep at the crumbling walls of this of the famous fortress, which the
trailing ivy of Normandy now partially covers with a dark-green mantle
of charity, as though its purpose and its mission were to hide its fallen
grandeur from the rude gaze of the passing stranger. All along the roads
we meet happy-looking peasants driving into Dieppe market with produce.
They are driving Normandy horses - and that means fine, large, spirited
animals - which, being unfamiliar with bicycles, almost invariably take
exception to ours, prancing about after the usual manner of high-strung
steeds. Unlike his English relative, the Norman horse looks not supinely
upon the whirling wheel, but arrays himself almost unanimously against
us, and umially in the most uncompromising manner, similar to the phantom-
eyed roadster of the United States agriculturist. The similarity between
the turnouts of these two countries I am forced to admit, however,
terminates abruptly with the horse itself, and does not by any means
extend to the driver; for, while the Normandy horse capers about and
threatens to upset the vehicle into the ditch, the Frenchman's face is
wreathed in apologetic smiles; and, while he frantically endeavors to
keep the refractory horse under control, he delivers himself of a whole
dictionary of apologies to the wheelman for the animal's foolish conduct,
touches his cap with an air of profound deference upon noticing that we
have considerately slowed up, and invariably utters his Bon jour, monsieur,
as we wheel past, in a voice that plainly indicates his acknowledgment
of the wheelman's - or anybody else's - right to half the roadway. A few
days ago I called the English roads perfect, and England the paradise
of 'cyclers; and so it is; but the Normandy roads are even superior, and
the scenery of the Arques Valley is truly lovely. There is not a loose
stone, a rut, or depression anywhere on these roads, and it is little
exaggeration to call them veritable billiard-tables for smoothness of
surface. As one bowls smoothly along over them he is constantly wondering
how they can possibly keep them in such condition. Were these fine roads
in America one would never be out of sight of whirling wheels. A luncheon
of Normandy cheese and cider at Cleres, and then onward to Bouen is the
word. At every cross-roads is erected an iron guide-post, containing
directions to several of the nearest towns, telling the distances in
kilometres and yards; and small stone pillars are set up alongside the
road, marking every hundred yards. Arriving at Rouen at four o'clock,
Mr. Parkiuson shows me the famous old Rouen Cathedral, the Palace of
Justice, and such examples of old mediaeval Rouen as I care to visit,
and, after inviting me to remain and take dinner with him by the murmuring
waters of the historic Seine, he bids me bon voyage, turns my head
southward, and leaves me at last a stranger among strangers, to "cornprendre
Franyais" unassisted. Some wiseacre has placed it on record that too
much of a good thing is worse than none at all; however that may be,
from having concluded that the friendly iron guide-posts would be found
on every corner where necessary, pointing out the way with infallible
truthfulness, and being doubtless influenced by the superior levelness
of the road leading down the valley of the Seine in comparison with the
one leading over the bluffs, I wander toward eventide into Elbeuf, instead
of Pont de l' Arques, as I had intended; but it matters little, and I
am content to make the best of my surroundings. Wheeling along the
crooked, paved streets of Elbeuf, I enter a small hotel, and, after the
customary exchange of civilities, I arch my eyebrows at an intelligent
-looking madaine, and inquire, " Comprendre Anglais." "Non," replies
the lady, looking puzzled, while I proceed to ventilate my pantomimic
powers to try and make my wants understood. After fifteen minutes of
despairing effort, mademoiselle, the daughter, is despatched to the other
side of the town, and presently returns with a be whiskered Frenchman,
who, in very much broken English, accompanying his words with wondrous
gesticulations, gives me to understand that he is the only person in all
Elbeuf capable of speaking the English language, and begs me to unburden
myself to him without reserve. He proves himself useful and obliging,
kindly interesting himself in obtaining me comfortable accommodation at
reasonable rates. This Elbeuf hotel, though, is anything but an elegant
establishment, and le proprietaire, though seemingly intelligent enough,
brings me out a bottle of the inevitable vin ordinaire (common red wine)
at breakfast-time, instead of the coffee for which my opportune interpreter
said he had given the order yester-eve. If a Frenchman only sits down
to a bite of bread and cheese he usually consumes a pint bottle of vin
ordinaire with it. The loaves of bread here are rolls three and four
feet long, and frequently one of these is laid across - or rather along,
for it is oftentimes longer than the table is wide - the table for you to
hack away at during your meal, according to your bread-eating capacity
or inclination.

Monsieur, the accomplished, come down to see his Anglais friend and
protege next morning, a few minutes after his Anglais friend and protege,
has started off toward a distant street called Rue Poussen, which le
garcon had unwittingly directed him to when he inquired the way to the
bureau de poste; the natural result, I suppose, of the difference between
Elbeuf pronunciation and mine. Discovering my mistake upon arriving at
the Rue Poussen, I am more fortunate in my attack upon the interpreting
abilities of a passing citizen, who sends an Elbeuf gamin to guide me
to the post-office.

Post office clerks are proverbially intelligent people in any country,
consequently it doesn't take me long to transact my business at the
bureau de poste; but now - shades of Caesar! - I have thoughtlessly
neglected to take down either the name of the hotel or the street in
which it is located, and for the next half-hour go wandering about as
helplessly as the "babes in the wood" Once, twice I fancy recognizing
the location; but the ordinary Elbeuf house is not easily recognized
from its neighbors, and I am standing looking around me in the
bewildered attitude of one uncertain of his bearings, when, lo! the
landlady, who has doubtless been wondering whatever has become
of me, appears at the door of a building which I should certainly never
have recognized as my hotel, besom in hand, and her pleasant, "Oui,
monsieur," sounds cheery and welcome enough, under the circumstances,
as one may readily suppose.

Fine roads continue, and between Gaillon and Vernon one can see the
splendid highway, smooth, straight, and broad, stretching ahead for miles
between rows of stately poplars, forming magnificent avenues that add
not a little to the natural loveliness of the country. Noble chateaus
appear here and there, oftentimes situated upon the bluffs of the Seine,
and forming the background to a long avenue of chestnuts, maples, or
poplars, running at right angles to the main road and principal avenue.
The well-known thriftincss of the French peasantry is noticeable on every
hand, and particularly away off to the left yonder, where their small,
well-cultivated farms make the sloping bluffs resemble huge log-cabin
quilts in the distance. Another glaring and unmistakable evidence of the
Normandy peasants' thriftiness is the remarkable number of patches they
manage to distribute over the surface of their pantaloons, every peasant
hereabouts averaging twenty patches, more or less, of all shapes and
sizes. When the British or United States Governments impose any additional
taxation on the people, the people gruinblingly declare they won't put
up with it, and then go ahead and pay it; but when the Chamber of Deputies
at Paris turns on the financial thumb-screw a little tighter, the French
peasant simply puts yet another patch on the seat of his pantaloons, and
smilingly hands over the difference between the patch and the new pair
he intended to purchase!

Huge cavalry barracks mark the entrance to Vernon, and, as I watch with
interest the manoauvring of the troops going through their morning drill,
I cannot help thinking that with such splendid loads as France possesses
she might take many a less practical measure for home defence than to
mount a few regiments of light infantry on bicycles; infantry travelling
toward the front at the late of seventy-five or a hundred miles a day
would be something of an improvement, one would naturally think. Every
few miles my road leads through the long, straggling street of a village,
every building in which is of solid stone, and looks at least a thousand
years old; while at many cross-roads among the fields, and in all manner
of unexpected nooks and corners of the villages, crucifixes are erected
to accommodate the devotionally inclined. Most of the streets of these
interior villages are paved with square stones which the wear and tear
of centuries have generally rendered too rough for the bicycle; but
occasionally one is ridable, and the astonishment of the inhabitants as
I wheel leisurely through, whistling the solemn strains of "Roll, Jordan,
roll," is really quite amusing. Every village of any size boasts a church
that, for fineness of architecture and apparent costliness of construction,
looks out of all proportion to the straggling street of shapeless
structures that it overtops. Everything here seems built as though
intended to last forever, it being no unusual sight to see a ridiculously
small piece of ground surrounded by a stone wall built as though to
resist a bombardment; an enclosure that must have cost more to erect
than fifty crops off the enclosed space could repay. The important town
of Mantes is reached early in the evening, and a good inn found for the
night.

The market-women are arraying their varied wares all along the main
street of Mantes as I wheel down toward the banks of the Seine this
morning. I stop to procure a draught of new milk, and, while drinking
it, point to sundry long rows of light, flaky-looking cakes strung on
strings, and motion that I am desirous of sampling a few at current
rates; but the good dame smiles and shakes her head vigorously, as well
enough she might, for I learn afterward that the cakes are nothing less
than dried yeast-cakes, a breakfast off which would probably have produced
spontaneous combustion. Getting on to the wrong road out of Mantes, I
find myself at the river's edge down among the Seine watermen. I am shown
the right way, but from Mantes to Paris they are not Normandy roads;
from Mantes southward they gradually deteriorate until they are little
or no better than the "sand-papered roads of Boston." Having determined
to taboo vin ordinaire altogether I astonish the restaurateur of a village
where I take lunch by motioning away the bottle of red wine and calling
for " de I'eau," and the glances cast in my direction by the other
customers indicate plainly enough that they consider the proceeding as
something quite extraordinary. Rolling through Saint Germain, Chalon
Pavey, and Nanterre, the magnificent Arc de Triomphe looms up in the
distance ahead, and at about two o'clock, Wednesday, May 13th, I wheel
into the gay capital through the Porte Maillott. Asphalt pavement now
takes the place of macadam, and but a short distance inside the city
limits I notice the 'cycle depot of Renard Ferres. Knowing instinctively
that the fraternal feelings engendered by the magic wheel reaches to
wherever a wheelman lives, I hesitate not to dismount and present my
card. Yes, Jean Glinka, apparently an employe there, comprehends Anglais;
they have all heard of my tour, and wish me bon voyage, and Jean and his
bicycle is forthwith produced and delegated to accompany me into the
interior of the city and find me a suitable hotel. The streets of Paris,
like the streets of other large cities, are paved with various compositions,
and they have just been sprinkled. French-like, the luckless Jean is
desirous of displaying his accomplishments on the wheel to a visitor so
distingue; he circles around on the slippery pavement in a manner most
unnecessary, and in so doing upsets himself while crossing a car-track,
rips his pantaloons, and injures his wheel. At the Hotel du Louvre they
won't accept bicycles, having no place to put them; but a short distance
from there we find a less pretentious establishment, where, after requiring
me to fill up a formidable-looking blank, stating my name, residence,
age, occupation, birthplace, the last place I lodged at, etc., they
finally assign me quarters. From Paul Devilliers, to whom I bring an
introduction, I learn that by waiting here till Friday evening, and
repairing to the rooms of the Societe Velocipedique Metropolitaine, the
president of that club can give me the best bicycle route between Paris
and Vienna; accordingly I domicile myself at the hotel for a couple of
days. Many of the lions of Paris are within easy distance of my hotel.
The reader, however, probably knows more about the sights of Paris than
one can possibly find out in two days; therefore I refrain from any
attempt at describing them; but my hotel is worthy of remark.

Among other agreeable and sensible arrangements at the Hotel uu Loiret,
there is no such thing as opening one's room-door from the outside save
with the key; and unless one thoroughly understands this handy peculiarity,
and has his wits about him continually, he is morally certain, sometime
when he is leaving his room, absent-mindedly to shut the door and leave
the key inside. This is, of course, among the first things that happen
to me, and it costs me half a franc and three hours of wretchedness
before I see the interior of my room again. The hotel keeps a rude
skeleton-key on hand, presumably for possible emergencies of this nature;
but in manipulating this uncouth instrument le portier actually locks
the door, and as the skeleton-key is expected to manage the catch only,
and not the lock, this, of course, makes matters infinitely worse. The
keys of every room in the house are next brought into requisition and
tried in succession, but not a key among them all is a duplicate of mine.
What is to be done. Le portier looks as dejected as though Paris was
about to be bombarded, as he goes down and breaks the dreadful news to
le proprietaire. Up comes le proprietaire - avoirdupois three hundred
pounds - sighing like an exhaust-pipe at every step. For fifteen unhappy
minutes the skeleton-key is wriggled and twisted about again in the key-
hole, and the fat proprietaire rubs his bald head impatiently, but all
to no purpose. Each returns to his respective avocation. Impatient to
get at my writing materials, I look up at the iron bars across the fifth-
story windows above, and motion that if they will procure a rope I will
descend from thence and enter the window. They one and all point out
into the street; and, thinking they have sent for something or somebody,
I sit down and wait with Job-like patience for something to turn up.
Nothing, however, turns up, and at the expiration of an hour I naturally
begin to feel neglected and impatient, and again suggest the rope; when,
at a motion from le proprietaire, le portier pilots me around a neighboring
corner to a locksmith's establishment, where, voluntarily acting the part
of interpreter, he engages on my behalf, for half a franc, a man to come
with a bunch of at least a hundred skeleton-keys of all possible shapes
to attack the refractory key-hole. After trying nearly all the keys, and
disburdening himself of whole volumes of impulsive French ejaculations,
this man likewise gives it up in despair; but, now everything else has
been tried and failed, the countenance of la portier suddenly lights up,
and he slips quietly around to an adjoining room, and enters mine inside
of two minutes by simply lifting a small hook out of a staple with his
knife-blade. There appears to be a slight coolness, as it were, between
le proprietaire and me after this incident, probably owing to the
intellectual standard of each becoming somewhat lowered in the other's
estimation in consequence of it. Le proprietaire, doubtless, thinks a
man capable of leaving the key inside of the door must be the worst type
of an ignoramus; and certainly my opinion of him for leaving such a
diabolical arrangement unchanged in the latter half of the nineteenth
century is not far removed from the same.

Visiting the headquarters of the Societe Velocipedique Mctropolitaine
on Friday evening, I obtain from the president the desired directions
regarding the route, and am all prepared to continue eastward in the
morning. Wheeling down the famous Champs Elysees at eleven at night,
when the concert gardens are in full blast and everything in a blaze,
of glory, with myriads of electric lights festooned and in long brilliant
rows among the trees, is something to be remembered for a lifetime.
Before breakfast I leave the city by the Porte Daumesiul, and wheel
through the environments toward Vincennes and Jonville, pedalling, to
the sound of martial music, for miles beyond the Porte. The roads for
thirty miles east of Paris are not Normandy roads, but the country for
most of the distance is fairly level, and for mile after mile, and league
beyond league, the road is beneath avenues of plane and poplar, which,
crossing the plain in every direction like emerald walls of nature's own
building, here embellish and beautify an otherwise rather monotonous
stretch of country. The villages are little different from the villages
of Normandy, but the churches have not the architectural beauty of the
Normandy churches, being for the most part massive structures without
any pretence to artistic embellishment in their construction. Monkish-looking
priests are a characteristic feature of these villages, and when, on
passing down the narrow, crooked streets of Fontenay, I wheel beneath a
massive stone archway, and looking around, observe cowled priests and
everything about the place seemingly in keeping with it, one can readily
imagine himself transported back to medieval times. One of these little
interior French villages is the most unpromising looking place imaginable
for a hungry person to ride into; often one may ride the whole length
of the village expectantly looking around for some visible evidence of
wherewith to cheer the inner man, and all that greets the hungry vision
is a couple of four-foot sticks of bread in one dust-begrimed window,
and a few mournful-looking crucifixes and Roman Catholic paraphernalia
in another. Neither are the peasants hereabouts to be compared with the
Normandy peasantry in personal appearance. True, they have as many patches
on their pantaloons, but they don't seem to have acquired the art of
attaching them in a manner to produce the same picturesque effect as
does the peasant of Normandy; the original garment is almost invariably
a shapeless corduroy, of a bagginess and an o'er-ampleness most unbeautiful
to behold.

The well-known axiom about fair paths leading astray holds good with the
high-ways and by-ways of France, as elsewhere, and soon after leaving
the ancient town of Provins, I am tempted by a splendid road, following
the windings of a murmuring brook, that appears to be going in my
direction, in consequence of which I soon find myself among cross-country
by-ways, and among peasant proprietors who apparently know little of the
world beyond their native Tillages. Four o'clock finds me wheeling through
a hilly vineyard district toward Villenauxe, a town several kilometres
off my proper route, from whence a dozen kilometres over a very good
road brings me to Sezanne, where the Hotel de France affords excellent
accommodation. After the table d'hote the clanging bells of the old
church hard by announce services of some kind, and having a natural
penchant when in strange places from wandering whithersoever inclination
leads, in anticipation of the ever possible item of interest, I meander
into the church and take a seat. There appears to be nothing extraordinary
about the service, the only unfamiliar feature to me being a man wearing
a uniform similar to the gendarmerie of Paris: cockade, sash, sword, and
everything complete; in addition to which he carries a large cane and a
long brazen-headed staff resembling the boarding-pike of the last century.
It has rained heavily during the night, but the roads around here are
composed mainly of gravel, and are rather improved than otherwise by the
rain; and from Sezanne, through Champenoise and on to Vitry le Francois,
a distance of about sixty-five kilometres, is one of the most enjoyable
stretches of road imaginable. The contour of the country somewhat resembles
the swelling prairies of Western Iowa, and the roads are as perfect for
most of the distance as an asphalt boulevard. The hills are gradual
acclivities, and, owing to the good roads, are mostly ridable, while -
the declivities make the finest coasting imaginable; the exhilaration
of gliding down them in the morning air, fresh after the rain, can be
compared only to Canadian tobogganing. Ahead of you stretches a gradual
downward slope, perhaps two kilometres long. Knowing full well that from
top to bottom there exists not a loose stone or a dangerous spot, you
give the ever-ready steel-horse the rein; faster and faster whirl the
glistening wheels until objects "by the road-side become indistinct
phantoms as they glide instantaneously by, and to strike a hole or
obstruction is to be transformed into a human sky-rocket, and, later on,
into a new arrival in another world. A wild yell of warning at a blue-
bloused peasant in the road ahead, shrill screams of dismay from several
females at a cluster of cottages, greet the ear as you sweep past like
a whirlwind, and the next moment reach the bottom at a rate of speed
that would make the engineer of the Flying Dutchman green with envy.
Sometimes, for the sake of variety, when gliding noiselessly along on
the ordinary level, I wheel unobserved close up behind an unsuspecting
peasant walking on ahead, without calling out, and when he becomes
conscious of my presence and looks around and sees the strange vehicle
in such close proximity it is well worth the price of a new hat to see
the lively manner in which he hops out of the way, and the next moment
becomes fairly rooted to the ground with astonishment; for bicycles and
bicycle riders are less familiar objects to the French peasant, outside
of the neighborhood of a few large cities, than one would naturally
suppose.

Vitry le Frangois is a charming old town in the beautiful valley of the
Marne; in the middle ages it was a strongly fortified city; the moats
and earth-works are still perfect. The only entrance to the town, even
now, is over the old draw-bridges, the massive gates, iron wheels, chains,
etc., still being intact, so that the gates can yet be drawn up and
entrance denied to foes, as of yore; but the moats are now utilized for
the boats of the Marne and Rhine Canal, and it is presumable that the
old draw-bridges are nowadays always left open. To-day is Sunday - and
Sunday in France is equivalent to a holiday - consequently Vitry le Frangois,
being quite an important town, and one of the business centres of the
prosperous and populous Marne Valley, presents all the appearance of
circus-day in an American agricultural community. Several booths are
erected in the market square, the proprietors and attaches of two
peregrinating theatres, several peep-shows, and a dozen various games
of chance, are vying with each other in the noisiness of their demonstrations
to attract the attention and small change of the crowd to their respective
enterprises. Like every other highway in this part of France the Marne
and Bhine Canal is fringed with an avenue of poplars, that from neighboring
elevations can be seen winding along the beautiful valley for miles,
presenting a most pleasing effect.

East of Vitry le Francois the roads deteriorate, and from thence to Bar-
le they are inferior to any hitherto encountered in France; nevertheless,
from the American standpoint they are very good roads, and when, at five
o'clock, I wheel into Bar-le-Duc and come to sum up the aggregate of the
day's journey I find that, without any undue exertion, I have covered
very nearly one hundred and sixty kilometres, or about one hundred English
miles, since 8.30 A.M., notwithstanding a good hour's halt at Vitry le
Francois for dinner. Bar-le-Duc appears to be quite an important business
centre, pleasantly situated in the valley of the Ornain River, a tributary
of the Marne; and the stream, in its narrow, fertile valley, winds around
among hills from whose sloping sides, every autumn, fairly ooze the
celebrated red wines of the Meuse and Moselle regions. The valley has
been favored with a tremendous downpour of rain and hail during the
night, and the partial formation of the road leading along the level
valley eastward being a light-colored, slippery clay, I find it anything
but agreeable wheeling this morning; moreover, the Ornain Valley road
is not so perfectly kept as it might be. As in every considerable town
in France, so also in Bar-le-Duc, the military element comes conspicuously
to the fore. Eleven kilometres of slipping and sliding through the greasy
clay brings me to the little village of Tronville, where I halt to
investigate the prospect of obtaining something to eat. As usual, the
prospect, from the street, is most unpromising, the only outward evidence
being a few glass jars of odds and ends of candy in one small window.
Entering this establishment, the only thing the woman can produce besides
candy and raisins is a box of brown, wafer-like biscuits, the unsubstantial
appearance of which is, to say the least, most unsatisfactory to a person
who has pedalled his breakfastless way through eleven kilometres of
slippery clay. Uncertain of their composition, and remembering my unhappy
mistake at Mantes in desiring to breakfast off yeast-cakes, I take the
precaution of sampling one, and in the absence of anything more substantial
conclude to purchase a few, and so motion to the woman to hand me the
box in order that I can show her how many I want. But the o'er-careful
Frenchwoman, mistaking my meaning, and fearful that I only want to sample
yet another one, probably feeling uncertain of whether I might not wish
to taste a whole handful this time, instead of handing it over moves it
out of my reach altogether, meanwhile looking quite angry, and not a
little mystified at her mysterious, pantomimic customer. A half-franc
is produced, and, after taking the precaution of putting it away in
advance, the cautious female weighs me out the current quantity of her
ware; and I notice that, after giving lumping weight, she throws in a
few extra, presumably to counterbalance what, upon sober second thought,
she perceives to have been an unjust suspicion. While I am extracting
what satisfaction my feathery purchase contains, it begins to rain and
hail furiously, and so continues with little interruption all the forenoon,
compelling me, much against my inclination, to search out in Tronville,
if possible, some accommodation till to-morrow morning. The village is
a shapeless cluster of stone houses and stables, the most prominent
feature of the streets being huge heaps of manure and grape-vine prunings;
but I manage to obtain the necessary shelter, and such other accommodations
as might be expected in an out-of-the-way village, unfrequented by
visitors from one year's end to another. The following morning is still
rainy, and the clayey roads of the Ornain Valley are anything but inviting
wheeling; but a longer stay in Tronville is not to be thought of, for,
among other pleasantries of the place here, the chief table delicacy
appears to be boiled escargots, a large, ungainly snail procured from
the neighboring hills. Whilst fond of table delicacies, I emphatically
draw the line at escargots. Pulling out toward Toul I find the roads,
as expected, barely ridable; but the vineyard-environed little valley,
lovely in its tears, wrings from one praise in spite of muddy roads and
lowering weather. En route down the valley I meet a battery of artillery
travelling from Toul to Bar-le Duc or some other point to the westward;
and if there is any honor in throwing a battery of French artillery into
confusion, and wellnigh routing them, then the bicycle and I are fairly
entitled to it.

As I ride carelessly toward them, the leading horses suddenly wheel
around and begin plunging about the road. The officers' horses, and, in
fact, the horses of the whole company, catch the infection, and there
is a plunging and a general confusion all along the line, seeing which
I, of course, dismount and retire - but not discomfited - from the field
until they have passed. These French horses are certainly not more than
half-trained. I passed a battery of English artillery on the road leading
out of Coventry, and had I wheeled along under the horses' noses there
would have been no confusion whatever.

On the divide between the Ornain and Moselle Valleys the roads are
hillier, but somewhat less muddy. The weather continues showery and
unsettled, and a short distance beyond Void I find myself once again
wandering off along the wrong road. The peasantry hereabout seem to have
retained a lively recollection of the Prussians, my helmet appearing to
have the effect of jogging their memory, and frequently, when stopping
to inquire about the roads, the first word in response will be the pointed
query, "Prussian." By following the directions given by three different
peasants, I wander along the muddy by-roads among the vineyards for two
wet, unhappy hours ere I finally strike the main road to Toul again.
After floundering along the wellnigh unimproved by-ways for two hours
one thoroughly appreciates how much he is indebted to the military
necessities of the French Government for the splendid highways of France,
especially among these hills and valleys, where natural roadways would
be anything but good. Following down the Moselle Valley, I arrive at the
important city of Nancy in the eventide, and am fortunate, I suppose,
in discovering a hotel where a certain, or, more properly speaking, an
uncertain, quantity and quality of English are spoken. Nancy is reputed
to be one of the loveliest towns in France. But I merely remained in it
over night, and long enough next morning to exchange for some German
money, as I cross over the frontier to-day.

Luneville is a town I pass through, some distance nearer the border, and
the military display here made is perfectly overshadowing. Even the
scarecrows in the fields are military figures, with wooden swords
threateningly waving about in their hands with every motion of the wind,
and the most frequent sound heard along the route is the sharp bang!
bang! of muskets, where companies of soldiers are target-practising in
the woods. There seems to be a bellicose element in the very atmosphere;
for every dog in every village I ride through verily takes after me, and
I run clean over one bumptious cur, which, miscalculating the speed at
which I am coming, fails to get himself out of the way in time. It is
the narrowest escape from a header I have had since starting from
Liverpool; although both man and dog were more scared than hurt. Sixty-five
kilometres from Nancy, and I take lunch at the frontier town of Blamont.
The road becomes more hilly, and a short distance out of Blamont, behold,
it is as though a chalk-line were made across the roadway, on the west
side of which it had been swept with scrupulous care, and on the east
side not swept at all; and when, upon passing the next roadman, I notice
that he bears not upon his cap the brass stencil-plate bearing the
inscription, " Cantonnier," I know that I have passed over the frontier
into the territory of Kaiser Wilhelm.

My journey through fair Prance has been most interesting, and perhaps
instructive, though I am afraid that the lessons I have taken in French
politeness are altogether too superficial to be lasting. The "Bonjour,
monsieur," and "Bon voyage," of France, may not mean any more than the
"If I don't see you again, why, hello." of America, but it certainly
sounds more musical and pleasant. It is at the table d'hote, however,
that I have felt myself to have invariably shone superior to the natives;
for, lo! the Frenchman eats soup from the end of his spoon. True, it is
more convenient to eat soup from the prow of a spoon than from the
larboard; nevertheless, it is when eating soup that I instinctively feel
my superiority. The French peasants, almost without exception, conclude
that the bright-nickelled surface of the bicycle is silver, and presumably
consider its rider nothing less than a millionnaire in consequence; but
it is when I show them the length of time the rear wheel or a pedal will
spin round that they manifest their greatest surprise. The crowning glory
of French landscape is the magnificent avenues of poplars that traverse
the country in every direction, winding with the roads, the railways,
and canals along the valleys, and marshalled like sentinels along the
brows of the distant hills; without them French scenery would lose half
its charm.

CHAPTER VI.

GERMANY, AUSTRIA, AND HUNGARY.

Notwithstanding Alsace was French territory only fourteen years ago
(1871) there is a noticeable difference in the inhabitants, to me the
most acceptable being their great linguistic superiority over the people
on the French side of the border. I linger in Saarburg only about thirty
minutes, yet am addressed twice by natives in my own tongue; and at
Pfalzburg, a smaller town, where I remain over night, I find the same
characteristic. Ere I penetrate thirty kilometres into German territory,
however, I have to record what was never encountered in France; an
insolent teamster, who, having his horses strung across a narrow road-
way in the suburbs of Saarburg, refuses to turn his leaders' heads to
enable me to ride past, thus compelling me to dismount. Soldiers drilling,
soldiers at target practice, and soldiers in companies marching about
in every direction, greet my eyes upon approaching Pfalzburg; and although
there appears to be less beating of drums and blare of trumpets than in
French garrison towns, one seldom turns a street corner without hearing
the measured tramp of a military company receding or approaching. These
German troops appear to march briskly and in a business-like manner in
comparison with the French, who always seem to carry themselves with a
tired and dejected deportment; but the over-ample and rather slouchy-looking
pantaloons of the French are probably answerable, in part, for this
impression. One cannot watch these sturdy-looking German soldiers without
a conviction that for the stern purposes of war they are inferior only
to the soldiers of our own country. At the little gasthaus at Pfalzburg
the people appear to understand and anticipate an Englishman's gastronomic
peculiarities, for the first time since leaving England I am confronted
at the supper-table with excellent steak and tea.

It is raining next morning as I wheel over the rolling hills toward
Saverne, a city nestling pleasantly in a little valley beyond those dark
wooded heights ahead that form the eastern boundary of the valley of the
Rhine. The road is good but hilly, and for several kilometres, before
reaching Saverne, winds its way among the pine forests tortuously and
steeply down from the elevated divide. The valley, dotted here and there
with pleasant villages, is spread out like a marvellously beautiful
picture, the ruins of several old castles on neighboring hill-tops adding
a charm, as well as a dash of romance.

The rain pours down in torrents as I wheel into Saverne. I pause long
enough to patronize a barber shop; also to procure an additional small
wrench. Taking my nickelled monkey-wrench into a likely-looking hardware
store, I ask the proprietor if he has anything similar. He examines it
with lively interest, for, in comparison with the clumsy tools comprising
his stock-in-trade, the wrench is as a watch-spring to an old horse-shoe.
I purchase a rude tool that might have been fashioned on the anvil of a
village blacksmith. From Saverne my road leads over another divide and
down into the glorious valley of the Rhine, for a short distance through
a narrow defile that reminds me somewhat of a canon in the Sierra Nevada
foot-hills; but a fine, broad road, spread with a coating of surface-mud
only by this morning's rain, prevents the comparison from assuming
definite shape for a cycler. Extensive and beautifully terraced vineyards
mark the eastern exit. The road-beds of this country are hard enough for
anything; but a certain proportion of clay in their composition makes a
slippery coating in rainy weather. I enter the village of Marienheim and
observe the first stork's nest, built on top of a chimney, that I have
yet seen in Europe, though I saw plenty of them afterward. The parent
stork is perched solemnly over her youthful brood, which one would
naturally think would get smoke-dried. A short distance from Marlenheim
I descry in the hazy distance the famous spire of Strasburg cathedral
looming conspicuously above everything else in all the broad valley; and
at 1.30 P.M. I wheel through the massive arched gateway forming part of
the city's fortifications, and down the broad but roughly paved streets,
the most mud-be-spattered object in all Strasburg. The fortifications
surrounding the city are evidently intended strictly for business, and
not merely for outward display. The railway station is one of the finest
in Europe, and among other conspicuous improvements one notices steam
tram-cars. While trundling through the city I am imperatively ordered
off the sidewalk by the policeman; and when stopping to inquire of a
respectable-looking Strasburger for the Appeuweir road, up steps an
individual with one eye and a cast off military cap three sizes too
small. After querying, " Appenweir. Englander?" he wheels "about face"
with military precision doubtless thus impelled by the magic influence
of his headgear - and beckons me to follow. Not knowing what better course
to pursue I obey, and after threading the mazes of a dozen streets,
composed of buildings ranging in architecture from the much gabled and
not unpicturesque structures of mediaeval times to the modern brown-stone
front, he pilots me outside the fortifications again, points up the
Appenweir road, and after the never neglected formality of touching his
cap and extending his palm, returns city-ward.

Crossing the Rhine over a pontoon bridge, I ride along level and, happily,
rather less muddy roads, through pleasant suburban villages, near one
of which I meet a company of soldiers in undress uniform, strung out
carelessly along the road, as though returning from a tramp into the
country. As I approach them, pedalling laboriously against a stiff head
wind, both myself and the bicycle fairly yellow with clay, both officers
and soldiers begin to laugh in a good-natured, bantering sort of manner,
and a round dozen of them sing out in chorus "Ah! ah! der Englander."
and as I reply, "Yah! yah." in response, and smile as I wheel past
them, the laughing and banter go all along the line. The sight of an
"Englander" on one of his rambling expeditions of adventure furnishes
much amusement to the average German, who, while he cannot help admiring
the spirit of enterprise that impels him, fails to comprehend where the
enjoyment can possibly come in. The average German would much rather
loll around, sipping wine or beer, and smoking cigarettes, than impel a
bicycle across a continent. A few miles eastward of the Rhine another
grim fortress frowns upon peaceful village and broad, green meads, and
off yonder to the right is yet another; sure enough, this Franco-German
frontier is one vast military camp, with forts, and soldiers, and munitions
of war everywhere. When I crossed the Rhine I left Lower Alsace, and am
now penetrating the middle Rhine region, where villages are picturesque
clusters of gabled cottages - a contrast to the shapeless and ancient-looking
stone structures of the French villages. The difference also extends to
the inhabitants; the peasant women of France, in either real or affected
modesty, would usually pretend not to notice anything extraordinary as
I wheeled past, but upon looking back they would almost invariably be
seen standing and gazing after my receding figure with unmistakable
interest; but the women of these Rhine villages burst out into merry
peals of laughter.

Rolling over fair roads into the village of Oberkirch, I conclude to
remain for the night, and the first thing undertaken is to disburden the
bicycle of its covering of clay. The awkward-looking hostler comes around
several times and eyes the proceedings with glances of genuine disapproval,
doubtless thinking I am cleaning it myself instead of letting him swab
it with a besom with the single purpose in view of dodging the inevitable
tip. The proprietor can speak a few words of English. He puts his bald
head out of the window above, and asks: "Pe you Herr Shtevens ?" "Yah,
yah," I reply.

" Do you go mit der veld around ?" "Yah; I goes around mit the world."

"I shoust read about you mit der noospaper." " Ah, indeed! what newspaper?"

"Die Frankfurter Zeitung. You go around mit der veld." The landlord looks
delighted to have for a guest the man who goes "mit der veld around,"
and spreads the news. During the evening several people of importance
and position drop in to take a curious peep at me and my wheel.

A dampness about the knees, superinduced by wheeling in rubber leggings,
causes me to seek the privilege of the kitchen fire upon arrival. After
listening to the incessant chatter of the cook for a few moments, I
suddenly dispense with all pantomime, and ask in purest English the
privilege of drying my clothing in peace and tranquillity by the kitchen
fire. The poor woman hurries out, and soon returns with her highly
accomplished master, who, comprehending the situation, forthwith tenders
me the loan of his Sunday pantaloons for the evening; which offer I
gladly accept, notwithstanding the wide disproportion in their size and
mine, the landlord being, horizontally, a very large person. Oberkirch
is a pretty village at the entrance to the narrow and charming valley
of the River Bench, up which my route leads, into the fir-clad heights
of the Black Forest. A few miles farther up the valley I wheel through
a small village that nestles amid surroundings the loveliest I have yet
seen. Dark, frowning firs intermingled with the lighter green of other
vegetation crown the surrounding spurs of the Knibis Mountains; vineyards,
small fields of waving rye, and green meadow cover the lower slopes with
variegated beauty, at the foot of which huddles the cluster of pretty
cottages amid scattered orchards of blossoming fruit-trees. The cheery
lute of the herders on the mountains, the carol of birds, and the merry
music of dashing mountain-streams fill the fresh morning air with melody.
All through this country there are apple-trees, pear-trees, cherry-trees
In the fruit season one can scarce open his mouth out-doors without
having the goddess Pomona pop in some delicious morsel. The poplar
avenues of France have disappeared, but the road is frequently shaded
for miles with fruit-trees. I never before saw a spot so lovely-certainly
not in combination with a wellnigh perfect road for wheeling. On through
Oppenau and Petersthal my way leads - this latter a place of growing
importance as a summer resort, several commodious hotels with swimming-baths,
mineral waters, etc., being already prepared to receive the anticipated
influx of health and pleasure-seeking guests this coming summer - and then
up, up, up among the dark pines leading over the Black Forest Mountains.
Mile after mile of steep incline has now been trundled, following the
Bench River to its source. Ere long the road I have lately traversed is
visible far below, winding and twisting up the mountain-slopes. Groups
of swarthy peasant women are carrying on their heads baskets of pine
cones to the villages below. At a distance the sight of their bright red
dresses among the sombre green of the pines is suggestive of the fairies
with which legend has peopled the Black Forest.

The summit is reached at last, and two boundary posts apprise the traveller
that on this wooded ridge he passes from Baden into Wurtemberg. The
descent for miles is agreeably smooth and gradual; the mountain air blows
cool and refreshing, with an odor of the pines; the scenery is Black
Forest scenery, and what more could be possibly desired than this happy
combination of circumstances. Reaching Freudenstadt about noon, the
mountain-climbing, the bracing air, and the pine fragrance cause me to
give the good people at the gasthaus an impressive lesson in the effect
of cycling on the human appetite. At every town and village I pass through
in Wurtemberg the whole juvenile population collects around me in an
incredibly short time. The natural impulse of the German small boy appears
to be to start running after me, shouting and laughing immoderately, and
when passing through some of the larger villages, it is no exaggeration
to say that I have had two hundred small Germans, noisy and demonstrative,
clattering along behind in their heavy wooden shoes.

Wurtemburg, by this route at least, is a decidedly hilly country, and
the roads are far inferior to those of both England and France. There
will be, perhaps, three kilometres of trundling up through wooded heights
leading out of a small valley, then, after several kilometres over
undulating, stony upland roads, a long and not always smooth descent
into another small valley, this programme, several times repeated,
constituting the journey of the clay. The small villages of the peasantry
are frequently on the uplands, but the larger towns are invariably in
the valleys, sheltered by wooded heights, perched among the crags of the
most inaccessible of which are frequently seen the ruins of an old castle.
Scores of little boys of eight or ten are breaking stones by the road-side,
at which I somewhat marvel, since there is a compulsory school law in
Germany; but perhaps to-day is a holiday; or maybe, after school hours,
it is customary for these unhappy youngsters to repair to the road-sides
and blister their hands with cracking flints. "Hungry as a buzz-saw" I
roll into the sleepy old town of Rothenburg at six o'clock, and, repairing
to the principal hotel, order supper. Several flunkeys of different
degrees of usefulness come in and bow obsequiously from time to time,
as I sit around, expecting supper to appear every minute. At seven o'clock
the waiter comes in, bows profoundly, and lays the table-cloth; at 7.15
he appears again, this time with a plate, knife, and fork, doing more
bowing and scraping as he lays them on the table. Another half-hour rolls
by, when, doubtless observing my growing impatience as he happens in at
intervals to close a shutter or re-regulate the gas, he produces a small
illustrated paper, and, bowing profoundly; lays it before me. I feel
very much like making him swallow it, but resigning myself to what appears
to be inevitable fate, I wait and wait, and at precisely 8.15 he produces
a plate of soup; at 8.30 the kalbscotolet is brought on, and at 8.45 a
small plate of mixed biscuits. During the meal I call for another piece
of bread, and behold there is a hurrying to and fro, and a resounding
of feet scurrying along the stone corridors of the rambling old building,
and ten minutes later I receive a small roll. At the opposite end of the
long table upon which I am writing some half-dozen ancient and honorable
Rothenburgers are having what they doubtless consider a "howling time."
Confronting each is a huge tankard of foaming lager, and the one doubtless
enjoying himself the most and making the greatest success of exciting
the envy and admiration of those around him is a certain ponderous
individual who sits from hour to hour in a half comatose condition,
barely keeping a large porcelain pipe from going out, and at fifteen-minute
intervals taking a telling pull at the lager. Were it not for an occasional
blink of the eyelids and the periodical visitation of the tankard to his
lips, it would be difficult to tell whether he were awake or sleeping,
the act of smoking being barely perceptible to the naked eye.

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