We left Washington about noon, lunched on the train, and reached the old ancestral home in a snow storm. All of the available carriages and carry-alls were at our disposal, however, and we were quickly driven to the warm fireside of a true Southerner, who, more than any other kind of man, knows how to brand the word “Home” upon your memory. We dined with true Southern sumptuousness. Never shall I forget the resigned and comfortable expression of that little roast pig as it was laid before us. To the Englishmen it was a rare chance to understand the cordial relations between England and America, in an atmosphere of Colonial splendour. The house itself has not undergone any change since it was built; it stands a complete example of an old ancestral estate. As we were leaving, our host insisted that no friend should leave his house without tasting the best egg-nog ever made in Virginia. The doctor and I drove to the station in a carriage with Lord Herschel. He was a man of great reserve and high breeding. On the way he showed us a letter that he had just received from his daughter, a little girl in England, telling him to be sure and come home for the Christmas holidays, and not to let those rich Americans keep him away.
This was the beginning of a series of dinners given by members of the Joint High Commission in Washington during the winter, to which we were often invited. A few months later Lord Herschel died in Washington. Dr. Talmage was almost the last man to see him alive. He called at his hotel to invite him to stay at his house, but he was then too ill to be moved.
During the early Fall of 1898 the Doctor lectured at Annapolis. It was his first visit to the old historic town, and he was received with all the honour of the place. We were the guests of Governor Lowndes at the executive mansion, where we were entertained in the evening at dinner. Just before the Christmas holidays, Dr. Talmage made a short lecturing trip into Canada, and I went with him; it was my privilege to accompany him everywhere, even for a brief journey of a day.
In Montreal, while sitting in a box with some Canadian friends, during one of the Doctor’s lectures, they told me how deep was the affection and regard for him in England.
“Wait till you see how the English people receive him,” they said; “you will be surprised at the hold that he has on them over there.” The following year I went to England with him, and experienced with pride and pleasure the truth of what they had said.
The end of our first year together seemed to be only the prelude to a long lifetime of companionship and happiness, without age, without sorrow, without discord.
THE SECOND MILESTONE