To My Small Daughter
Who bade me shed a tear at the tomb of Napoleon, which I was very
glad to do, because when I got there my feet certainly were hurting
We Are Going Away From Here
Foreword. - It has always seemed to me that the principal drawback
about the average guidebook is that it is over-freighted with
facts. Guidebooks heretofore have made a specialty of facts - have
abounded in them; facts to be found on every page and in every
paragraph. Reading such a work, you imagine that the besotted
author said to himself, "I will just naturally fill this thing
chock-full of facts" - and then went and did so to the extent of a
Now personally I would be the last one in the world to decry facts
as such. In the abstract I have the highest opinion of them. But
facts, as someone has said, are stubborn things; and stubborn
things, like stubborn people, are frequently tiresome. So it
occurred to me that possibly there might be room for a guidebook
on foreign travel which would not have a single indubitable fact
concealed anywhere about its person. I have even dared to hope
there might be an actual demand on the part of the general public
for such a guidebook. I shall endeavor to meet that desire - if
While we are on the subject I wish to say there is probably not a
statement made by me here or hereafter which cannot readily be
controverted. Communications from parties desiring to controvert
this or that assertion will be considered in the order received.
The line forms on the left and parties will kindly avoid crowding.
Triflers and professional controverters save stamps.
With these few introductory remarks we now proceed to the first
subject, which is The Sea: Its Habits and Peculiarities, and the
Quaint Creatures Found upon Its Bosom.
From the very start of this expedition to Europe I labored under
a misapprehension. Everybody told me that as soon as I had got
my sea legs I would begin to love the sea with a vast and passionate
love. As a matter of fact I experienced no trouble whatever in
getting my sea legs. They were my regular legs, the same ones I
use on land. It was my sea stomach that caused all the bother.
First I was afraid I should not get it, and that worried me no
little. Then I got it and was regretful. However, that detail
will come up later in a more suitable place. I am concerned now
with the departure.
Somewhere forward a bugle blares; somewhere rearward a bell jangles.
On the deck overhead is a scurry of feet. In the mysterious
bowels of the ship a mighty mechanism opens its metal mouth and
speaks out briskly. Later it will talk on steadily, with a measured
and a regular voice; but now it is heard frequently, yet intermittently,
like the click of a blind man's cane. Beneath your feet the ship,
which has seemed until this moment as solid as a rock, stirs the
least little bit, as though it had waked up. And now a shiver
runs all through it and you are reminded of that passage from
Pygmalion and Galatea where Pygmalion says with such feeling:
She starts; she moves; she seems to feel the thrill of life along
You are under way. You are finally committed to the great adventure.
The necessary good-bys have already been said. Those who in the
goodness of their hearts came to see you off have departed for
shore, leaving sundry suitable and unsuitable gifts behind. You
have examined your stateroom, with its hot and cold decorations,
its running stewardess, its all-night throb service, and its windows
overlooking the Hudson - a stateroom that seemed so large and
commodious until you put one small submissive steamer trunk and
two scared valises in it. You are tired, and yon white bed, with
the high mudguards on it, looks mighty good to you; but you feel
that you must go on deck to wave a fond farewell to the land you
love and the friends you are leaving behind.
You fight your way to the open through companionways full of
frenzied persons who are apparently trying to travel in every
direction at once. On the deck the illusion persists that it is
the dock that is moving and the ship that is standing still. All
about you your fellow passengers crowd the rails, waving and
shouting messages to the people on the dock; the people on the
dock wave back and shout answers. About every other person is
begging somebody to tell auntie to be sure to write. You gather
that auntie will be expected to write weekly, if not oftener.
As the slice of dark water between boat and dock widens, those who
are left behind begin running toward the pierhead in such numbers
that each wide, bright-lit door-opening in turn suggests a flittering
section of a moving-picture film. The only perfectly calm person
in sight is a gorgeous, gold-laced creature standing on the outermost
gunwale of the dock, wearing the kind of uniform that a rear admiral
of the Swiss navy would wear - if the Swiss had any navy - and holding
a speaking trumpet in his hand. This person is not excited, for
he sends thirty-odd-thousand-ton ships off to Europe at frequent
intervals, and so he is impressively and importantly blase about
it; but everybody else is excited. You find yourself rather that
way. You wave at persons you know and then at persons you do not
You continue to wave until the man alongside you, who has spent
years of his life learning to imitate a siren whistle with his
face, suddenly twines his hands about his mouth and lets go a
terrific blast right in your ear.