How much more we could tell you about travelling on the Reading! We would like to tell you about the queer assortment of books we brought back with us. (There were twelve men in the smoker, coming home.) We could tell how we tried to buy, without being observed, a magazine which we will call Foamy Fiction, in order to see what the new editor (a friend of ours) is printing. Also, we always buy a volume of Gissing when we go to Philly, and this time we found “In the Year of Jubilee” in the shop of Jerry Cullen, the delightful bookseller who used to be so redheaded, but is getting over it now in the most logical way. We could tell you about the lovely old whitewashed stone farmhouses (with barns painted red on behalf of Schenk’s Mandrake Pills) and about the famous curve near Roelofs, so called because the soup rolls off the table in the dining car when they take the curve at full speed; and about Bound Brook, which has a prodigious dump of tin cans that catches the setting sunlight——
It makes us sad to think that a hundred years hence people will be travelling along that road and never know how much we loved it. They will be doing so to-morrow, too; but it seems more mournful to think about the people a hundred years hence.
When we got back to Jersey City, and stood on the front end of the ferryboat, Manhattan was piling up all her jewels into the cold green dusk. There were a few stars, just about as many as there are passengers in a Reading smoker. There was one big star directly over Brooklyn, and another that seemed to be just above Plainfield. We pondered, as the ferry slid toward its hutch at Liberty Street, that there were no stars above Manhattan. Just at that moment—five minutes after seven—the pinnacle of the Woolworth blossomed a ruby red. New York makes her own.
You never know when an adventure is going to begin. But on a train is a good place to lie in wait for them. So we sat down in the smoker of the 10 A.M. Eastern Standard Time P.R.R. express to Philadelphia, in a receptive mood.
At Manhattan Transfer the brakeman went through the train, crying in a loud, clear, emphatic barytone: “Next stop for this train is North Philadelphia!”
We sat comfortably, and in that mood of secretly exhilarated mental activity which is induced by riding on a fast train. We were looking over the June Atlantic. We smiled gently to ourself at that unconscious breath of New England hauteur expressed in the publisher’s announcement, “The edition of the Atlantic is carefully restricted.” Then, meditating also on the admirable sense and skill with which the magazine is edited, and getting deep into William Archer’s magnificent article “The Great Stupidity” (which we hope all our clients will read) we became aware of outcries of anguish and suffering in the aisle near by.