When I had thus attained my crescendo, Colin rose impressively, and embraced me with true French effusion.
“Old man,” he said, “that’s just great. It’s an inspiration from on high. It makes me feel better already. Gee! but that’s bully.”
French as was his blood, it will be observed that Colin’s expletives were thoroughly American. Of course, he should have said sacre mille cochons or nom de Dieu de nom de Dieu; but, though in appearance, so to say, an embodied “sacre" he seemed to find the American vernacular sufficiently expressive.
“Is it a go, then?” said I.
“It’s a go,” said Colin, once more in American.
And we shook on it.
MAPS AND FAREWELLS
It was wonderful what a change our new plan wrought in our spirits.
Our melancholy was immediately dispersed, and its place taken by active anticipations of our journey. The North wind in the trees, instead of blustering dismissal, sounded to our ears like the fluttering of the blue-peter at the masthead of our voyage. Strange heart of man! A day back we were in tears at the thought of going. Now we are all smiles to think of it, all impatience to be gone. We quote Whitman a dozen times in the hour, and it is all “afoot and light-hearted” with us, and “the open road.”
But there were some farewells to make to people as well as to trees. There were friends at Elim to bid adieu, and also there were maps to be consulted, and knapsacks to be packed—exhilarating preparations.
Our friends looked at us, when we had unfolded our project, with a mixture of surprise and pity. “Amiable lunatics” was the first comment of their countenances, and—“There never was any telling what the artistic temperament would do next!” Had we announced an air-ship voyage to the moon, they would have regarded us as comparatively reasonable, but to walk—to walk—some four or five hundred miles in America, of all countries, a country of palace cars and, lightning limited expresses, not to mention homicidal touring automobiles, seemed like—what shall I say?—well, as though one should start out for New Zealand in a row-boat, or make the trip to St. Petersburg in a sedan-chair.
But there were others—especially the women—who understood, felt as we did, and longed to go with us. I have never met a woman yet whose face did not light up at the thought of a walking tour, and in her heart long to don Rosalind clothes and set forth in search of adventures. We thus had the advantage, in planning our route, of several prettily coiffed heads bending over our maps and guide-books with us.
“Four hundred and thirty miles,” said one of these Rosalinds, whose pretty head was full of pictures of romantic European travel. “Think what one could do with four hundred and thirty miles in Europe. Let us try, for the fun of it.”