Although we as yet knew every foot of the ground we were treading, it already began to wear an unfamiliar houseless and homeless look, an air of foreign travel, and though the shack was but a few yards behind us, it seemed already miles away, wrapped in lonely distance, wistfully forsaken. Everything we looked at seemed to have gained a new importance and significance; every tree and bush seemed to say, “So many miles to New York,” and we unconsciously looked at and remarked on the most trifling objects with the eye of explorers, and took as minute an interest in the usual bird and wayside weed as though we were engaged in some “flora and fauna” survey of untrodden regions.
“That’s a bluebird,” said Colin, as a faint pee-weeing came with a thin melancholy note from a telegraph wire. And we both listened attentively, with a learned air, as though making a mental note for some ornithological society in New York. “Bluebird seen in Erie County, October 1, 1908!” So might Sir John Mandeville have noted the occurrence of birds of paradise in the domains of Prester John.
“That’s a silo,” said Colin, pointing to a cylindrical tower at the end of a group of barns, from which came the sound of an engine surrounded by a group of men, occupied in feeding it with trusses of corn from a high-piled wagon. “They are laying in fodder for the Winter.” Interesting agricultural observation!
In the surrounding fields the pumpkins, globes of golden orange, lay scattered among the wintry-looking corn-stalks.
“Bully subject for a picture!” said Colin.
Before we had gone very far, we did stop at a cottage standing at a puzzling corner of cross-roads, and asked the way, not to Versailles, indeed, but to—Dutch Hollow. We were answered by a good-humoured German voice belonging to an old dame, who seemed glad to have the lonely afternoon silence broken by human speech; and we were then, as often afterward, reminded that we were not so far away from Europe, after all; but that, indeed, in no small degree the American continent was the map of Europe bodily transported across the sea. For the present our way lay through Germany.
Dutch Hollow! The name told its own story, and it had appealed to our imaginations as we had come upon it on the map.
We had thought we should like to see how it looked written in trees and rocks and human habitations on the page of the landscape. And I may say that it was such fanciful considerations as this, rather than any more business-like manner of travel, that frequently determined the route of our essentially sentimental journey. If our way admitted of a choice of direction, we usually decided by the sound of the name of village or town. Thus the sound of “Wales Center” had taken us, we were told, a mile or two out of our way; but what of that? We were not walking for a record, nor were we road-surveying, or following the automobile route to New York.