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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.

Romance is made of two opposites:  Change, and That Which Changeth Not.  In spite of foolish sentimentalism, who needs be told that love is one of those forces of the universe that is the same yesterday, today, and forever—­the same today as when Dido broke her heart, as when Leander swam the Hellespont?  Gravitation is not more inherent in the cosmic scheme, nor fire nor water more unchangeable in their qualities.

But Love, contrary to the old notion that he is unpractical, is a business-like god, and is ever on the lookout for the latest modern appliances that can in anyway serve his purposes.  True love is far from being old-fashioned.  On the contrary, true love is always up-to-date.  True love has its telephone, its phonograph, its automobile, and soon it will have its air-ship.  In the telephone alone what a debt love owes to its supposed enemy, modern science!  One wonders how lovers in the old days managed to live at all without the telephone.

We often hear how our modern appliances wear upon our nerves.  But think how the lack of modern appliances must have worn upon the nerves of our forefathers, and particularly our foremothers!  Think what distance meant in the Middle Ages, when the news of a battle took days to travel, though carried by the swiftest horses.  Horses!  Think again of news being carried by—­horses!  And once more think, with a prayer of gratitude to two magicians named Edison and Bell, and with a due sense of your being the spoiled and petted offspring of the painful ages, that should your love be in Omaha this night and you in New York City, you can say good-night to her through the wall of your apartment, and hear her sigh back her good-night to you across two thousand miles of the American flag.  Or should your love be on the sea, you can interrupt her flirtations all the way across with your persistent wireless conversation.  Contrast your luxurious communicativeness with the case of the lovers of old-time.  Say that you have just married a young woman, and you are happy together in your castle in the heart of the forest.  Suddenly the courier of war is at your gates, and you must up and arm and away with your men to the distant danger.  You must follow the Cross into the savage Kingdom of the Crescent.  The husband must become the crusader, and the Lord Christ alone knows when he shall look on the child’s face of his wife again.  Through goblin-haunted wildernesses he must go, through unmapped no-man’s lands, and vacuum solitudes of the world’s end, and peril and pestilence meet in every form, the face of his foe the friendliest thing in all his mysterious travel.  Not a pay-station as yet in all the wide world, and fully five hundred years to the nearest telegraph office!

And think of the young wife meanwhile, alone with her maids and her tapestry in the dank isolation of her lonely, listening castle.  Not a leaf falls in the wood, but she hears it.  Not a footstep snaps the silence, but her eyes are at the sleepless slit of light which is her window in the armoured stone of her fortified bridal tower.  The only news of her husband she can hope for in a full year or more will be the pleasing lies of some flattering minstrel, or broken soldier, or imaginative pilgrim.  On such rumours she must feed her famishing heart—­and all the time her husband’s bones may be whitening unepitaphed outside the walls of Ascalon or Joppa.

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