The reader to whom time is nothing does not yet appreciate the annoyance of our situation. Our time was strictly limited. The active world is so constituted that it could not spare us more than two weeks. We must reach Baddeck Saturday night or never. To go home without seeing Baddeck was simply intolerable. Had we not told everybody that we were going to Baddeck? Now, if we had gone to Shediac in the train that left St. John that morning, we should have taken the steamboat that would have carried us to Port Hawkesbury, whence a stage connected with a steamboat on the Bras d’Or, which (with all this profusion of relative pronouns) would land us at Baddeck on Friday. How many times had we been over this route on the map and the prospectus of travel! And now, what a delusion it seemed! There would not another boat leave Shediac on this route till the following Tuesday,—quite too late for our purpose. The reader sees where we were, and will be prepared, if he has a map (and any feelings), to appreciate the masterly strategy that followed.
During the pilgrimage everything does not suit the tastes of the pilgrim.—Turkish proverb.
One seeking Baddeck, as a possession, would not like to be detained a prisoner even in Eden,—much less in St. John, which is unlike Eden in several important respects. The tree of knowledge does not grow there, for one thing; at least St. John’s ignorance of Baddeck amounts to a feature. This encountered us everywhere. So dense was this ignorance, that we, whose only knowledge of the desired place was obtained from the prospectus of travel, came to regard ourselves as missionaries of geographical information in this dark provincial city.
The clerk at the Victoria was not unwilling to help us on our journey, but if he could have had his way, we would have gone to a place on Prince Edward Island which used to be called Bedeque, but is now named Summerside, in the hope of attracting summer visitors. As to Cape Breton, he said the agent of the Intercolonial could tell us all about that, and put us on the route. We repaired to the agent. The kindness of this person dwells in our memory. He entered at once into our longings and perplexities. He produced his maps and time-tables, and showed us clearly what we already knew. The Port Hawkesbury steamboat from Shediac for that week had gone, to be sure, but we could take one of another line which would leave us at Pictou, whence we could take another across to Port Hood, on Cape Breton. This looked fair, until we showed the agent that there was no steamer to Port Hood.
“Ah, then you can go another way. You can take the Intercolonial railway round to Pictou, catch the steamer for Port Hawkesbury, connect with the steamer on the Bras d’Or, and you are all right.”