Книга Three Men on the Bummel. Содержание - Chapter X

Chapter X

Baden from the visitor's point of view-Beauty of the early morning, as viewed from the preceding afternoon-Distance, as measured by the compass-Ditto, as measured by the leg-George in account with his conscience-A lazy machine-Bicycling, according to the poster: its restfulness-The poster cyclist: its costume; its method-The griffin as a household pet-A dog with proper self— respect-The horse that was abused.

From Baden, about which it need only be said that it is a pleasure resort singularly like other pleasure resorts of the same description, we started bicycling in earnest. We planned a ten days' tour, which, while completing the Black Forest, should include a spin down the Donau-Thal, which for the twenty miles from Tuttlingen to Sigmaringen is, perhaps, the finest valley in Germany; the Danube stream here winding its narrow way past old— world unspoilt villages; past ancient monasteries, nestling in green pastures, where still the bare-footed and bare-headed friar, his rope girdle tight about his loins, shepherds, with crook in hand, his sheep upon the hill sides; through rocky woods; between sheer walls of cliff, whose every towering crag stands crowned with ruined fortress, church, or castle; together with a blick at the Vosges mountains, where half the population is bitterly pained if you speak to them in French, the other half being insulted when you address them in German, and the whole indignantly contemptuous at the first sound of English; a state of things that renders conversation with the stranger somewhat nervous work.

We did not succeed in carrying out our programme in its entirety, for the reason that human performance lags ever behind human intention. It is easy to say and believe at three o'clock in the afternoon that: "We will rise at five, breakfast lightly at half— past, and start away at six."

"Then we shall be well on our way before the heat of the day sets in," remarks one.

"This time of the year, the early morning is really the best part of the day. Don't you think so?" adds another.

"Oh, undoubtedly."

"So cool and fresh."

"And the half-lights are so exquisite."

The first morning one maintains one's vows. The party assembles at half-past five. It is very silent; individually, somewhat snappy; inclined to grumble with its food, also with most other things; the atmosphere charged with compressed irritability seeking its vent. In the evening the Tempter's voice is heard:

"I think if we got off by half-past six, sharp, that would be time enough?"

The voice of Virtue protests, faintly: "It will be breaking our resolution."

The Tempter replies: "Resolutions were made for man, not man for resolutions." The devil can paraphrase Scripture for his own purpose. "Besides, it is disturbing the whole hotel; think of the poor servants."

The voice of Virtue continues, but even feebler: "But everybody gets up early in these parts."

"They would not if they were not obliged to, poor things! Say breakfast at half-past six, punctual; that will be disturbing nobody."

Thus Sin masquerades under the guise of Good, and one sleeps till six, explaining to one's conscience, who, however, doesn't believe it, that one does this because of unselfish consideration for others. I have known such consideration extend until seven of the clock.

Likewise, distance measured with a pair of compasses is not precisely the same as when measured by the leg.

"Ten miles an hour for seven hours, seventy miles. A nice easy day's work."

"There are some stiff hills to climb?"

"The other side to come down. Say, eight miles an hour, and call it sixty miles. Gott in Himmel! if we can't average eight miles an hour, we had better go in bath-chairs." It does seem somewhat impossible to do less, on paper.

But at four o'clock in the afternoon the voice of Duty rings less trumpet-toned:

"Well, I suppose we ought to be getting on."

"Oh, there's no hurry! don't fuss. Lovely view from here, isn't it?"

"Very. Don't forget we are twenty-five miles from St. Blasien."

"How far?"

"Twenty-five miles, a little over if anything."

"Do you mean to say we have only come thirty-five miles?"

"That's all."

"Nonsense. I don't believe that map of yours."

"It is impossible, you know. We have been riding steadily ever since the first thing this morning."

"No, we haven't. We didn't get away till eight, to begin with."

"Quarter to eight."

"Well, quarter to eight; and every half-dozen miles we have stopped."

"We have only stopped to look at the view. It's no good coming to see a country, and then not seeing it."

"And we have had to pull up some stiff hills."

"Besides, it has been an exceptionally hot day to-day."

"Well, don't forget St. Blasien is twenty-five miles off, that's all."

"Any more hills?"

"Yes, two; up and down."

"I thought you said it was downhill into St. Blasien?"

"So it is for the last ten miles. We are twenty-five miles from St. Blasien here."

"Isn't there anywhere between here and St. Blasien? What's that little place there on the lake?"

"It isn't St. Blasien, or anywhere near it. There's a danger in beginning that sort of thing."

"There's a danger in overworking oneself. One should study moderation in all things. Pretty little place, that Titisee, according to the map; looks as if there would be good air there."

"All right, I'm agreeable. It was you fellows who suggested our making for St. Blasien."

"Oh, I'm not so keen on St. Blasien! poky little place, down in a valley. This Titisee, I should say, was ever so much nicer."

"Quite near, isn't it?"

"Five miles."

General chorus: "We'll stop at Titisee."

George made discovery of this difference between theory and practice on the very first day of our ride.

"I thought," said George-he was riding the single, Harris and I being a little ahead on the tandem-"that the idea was to train up the hills and ride down them."

"So it is," answered Harris, "as a general rule. But the trains don't go up EVERY hill in the Black Forest."

"Somehow, I felt a suspicion that they wouldn't," growled George; and for awhile silence reigned.

"Besides," remarked Harris, who had evidently been ruminating the subject, "you would not wish to have nothing but downhill, surely. It would not be playing the game. One must take a little rough with one's smooth."

Again there returned silence, broken after awhile by George, this time.

"Don't you two fellows over-exert yourselves merely on my account," said George.

"How do you mean?" asked Harris.

"I mean," answered George, "that where a train does happen to be going up these hills, don't you put aside the idea of taking it for fear of outraging my finer feelings. Personally, I am prepared to go up all these hills in a railway train, even if it's not playing the game. I'll square the thing with my conscience; I've been up at seven every day for a week now, and I calculate it owes me a bit. Don't you consider me in the matter at all."

We promised to bear this in mind, and again the ride continued in dogged dumbness, until it was again broken by George.

"What bicycle did you say this was of yours?" asked George.

Harris told him. I forget of what particular manufacture it happened to be; it is immaterial.

"Are you sure?" persisted George.

"Of course I am sure," answered Harris. "Why, what's the matter with it?"

"Well, it doesn't come up to the poster," said George, "that's all."

"What poster?" asked Harris.

"The poster advertising this particular brand of cycle," explained George. "I was looking at one on a hoarding in Sloane Street only a day or two before we started. A man was riding this make of machine, a man with a banner in his hand: he wasn't doing any work, that was clear as daylight; he was just sitting on the thing and drinking in the air. The cycle was going of its own accord, and going well. This thing of yours leaves all the work to me. It is a lazy brute of a machine; if you don't shove, it simply does nothing: I should complain about it, if I were you."

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