It should have been early in the
morning, but it was not; for Virginia is not only one of the blessed
regions where one can get a late breakfast, but where it is almost
impossible to get an early one.
At ten A. M. the two horsemen rode
away out of sight of the Abingdon spectators, down the eastern
turnpike. The day was warm, but the air was full of vitality and the
spirit of adventure. It was the 22d of July. The horses were not
ambitious, but went on at an easy fox-trot that permits observation
and encourages conversation. It had been stipulated that the horses
should be good walkers, the one essential thing in a horseback
journey. Few horses, even in a country where riding is general, are
trained to walk fast. We hear much of horses that can walk five
miles an hour, but they are as rare as white elephants. Our
horses were only fair walkers. We realized how necessary this
accomplishment is, for between the Tennessee line and Asheville,
North Carolina, there is scarcely a mile of trotting-ground.
We soon turned southward and descended into the Holston River Valley.
Beyond lay the Tennessee hills and conspicuous White-Top Mountain
(5530 feet), which has a good deal of local celebrity (standing where
the States of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina corner), and
had been pointed out to us at Abingdon. We had been urged,
personally and by letter, to ascend this mountain, without fail.
People recommend mountains to their friends as they do patent
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