There was only the human life, however. I have looked in vain for the crabs, big and little, that swarm on the Long Island shore, and there are hardly any gulls, even; perhaps because there are no crabs for them to eat, if they eat crabs; I never saw gulls doing it, but they must eat something. Dogs there are, of course, wherever there are people; but they are part of the human life. Dutch dogs are in fact very human; and one I saw yesterday behaved quite as badly as a bad boy, with respect to his muzzle. He did not like his muzzle, and by dint of turning somersaults in the sand he got it off, and went frolicking to his master in triumph to show him what he had done.
It is now the last day, and the desolation is thickening upon our hotel. This morning the door-posts up and down my corridor showed not a single pair of trousers; not a pair of boots flattered the lonely doormats. In the lower hall I found the tables of the great dining-room assembled, and the chairs inverted on them with their legs in the air; but decently, decorously, not with the reckless abandon displayed by the chairs in our Long Island hotel for weeks before it closed. In the smaller dining-room the table was set for lunch as if we were to go on dining there forever; in the breakfast-room the service and the provision were as perfect as ever. The coffee was good, the bread delicious, the butter of an unfaltering sweetness; and the glaze of wear on the polished dress-coats of the waiters as respectable as it could have been on the first day of the season. All was correct, and if of a funereal correctness to me, I am sure this effect was purely subjective.
The little bell-boys in sailor suits (perhaps they ought to be spelled bell-buoys) clustered about the elevator-boy like so many Roman sentinels at their posts; the elevator-boy and his elevator were ready to take us up or down at any moment.
The portier and I ignored together the hour of parting, which we had definitely ascertained and agreed upon, and we exchanged some compliments to the weather, which is now settled, as if we expected to enjoy it long together. I rather dread going in to lunch, however, for I fear the empty places.
All is over; we are off. The lunch was an heroic effort of the hotel to hide the fact of our separation. It was perfect, unless the boiled beef was a confession of human weakness; but even this boiled beef was exquisite, and the horseradish that went with it was so mellowed by art that it checked rather than provoked the parting tear. The table d’hote had reserved a final surprise for us; and when we sat down with the fear of nothing but German around us, we heard the sound of our own speech from the pleasantest English pair we had yet encountered; and the travelling English are pleasant; I will say it, who am said by Sir Walter