Page images
PDF
EPUB

is married already, and then the duty devolves on the wife of calling the visitors to the "family prayer" at 9 daily, and organising the choir practices on Saturdays. But in these cases one notices that the practices are by no means so well attended as when the chaplain is young and unmarried.

Then there is the maiden lady who travels alone, or with a companion. This type is most widespread, and is found in the Swiss hotels, though perhaps its more regular hunting-grounds are the shores of the Italian lakes. "Grey moths" we have sometimes heard this class called, and the expression seems well chosen. The "grey moth" is of "a certain age"-she is to all appearances extremely dowdy-and one only guesses her to be very well-to-do from the extreme deference with which both her maid and her "companion" treat her. Miss Smith is one day a little late in coming in to table d'hôte; her maid trots after, carrying a shawl to be carefully wrapped round her mistress's knees; the "companion"-often a pretty girl-follows with a vinaigrette : Miss Smith has tired herself with too long a walk, and must be taken care of. She does not seem in the least grateful for any of the attentions she receives, and she snubs the devoted companion persistently throughout the mealdoling out her small modicum of wine with careful justice, and keeping the half-bottle of Mâcon carefully on her own side. The companion-probably a poor relation, taken abroad out of charity -is never allowed to choose her own seat at dinner. One evening it chances that a pleasant young officer sits next to her. So careful is Miss Smith that, on the following evening, she thoughtfully places herself next to the said officer, leaving the young girl beside a tiresome old lady of her own type-a real Riviera hack, a "grey moth "--who proceeds to daze the unfortunate companion by repeating extracts from the "Peerage "—the only book she travels about with—all dinner-time. By the time the dessert, or rather the mouldy nuts and stale biscuits that in most fruit-growing countries go by the name of "dessert," is reached, the unhappy companion is still hearing this sort of thing: "Of course, my dear, you know, it was Lady Honoria, the third daughter of the Earl of Winslow, who married Mr. Smithjie, of the Grenadier Guards, and her family being as old as the hills, and he hardly even well-connected, it was considered a dreadful mésalliance, &c., &c." The companion rises from dinner half giddy, and in her inmost heart laments her officer.

Then there is the designing damsel who lies in wait for the hearts of young and foolish men. She is somewhat past her first youth, but adopts a very youthful style of dress, and is addicted to smoking

mild cigarettes in the lobbies and gardens of hotels with a female friend. (She is mostly to be found travelling with a companion of like proclivities.) When she chances to meet with the vicar's daughters she scandalises them even more than does the fair American already mentioned. But she does not stand in their light; for the chaplain to her seems poor game. Hers is a life of disappointments. To begin with, but few eligible young men turn up at table d'hôte, and when they do they are either mountaineers with skinned faces, whose hearts are all given to future expeditions, or else travellers who are here to-day and gone to-morrow. The siren may make herself never so agreeable to Mr. Jones or Mr. Robinson at dinner-it is often but labour wasted, for the next day she has perhaps the mortification of seeing their portmanteaux brought down by the "boots," and they are off with barely an adieu !

The love affairs of hotels are rarely serious. They have some affinity with "Commemoration" love affairs, but are in the main but vanity! Once, indeed, we remember a romance which threatened to end very seriously; but in this particular case the siren was far from young, and was probably an adept at the business. Her victim was a middle-aged widower, quite old enough to know better-a rich manufacturer, travelling about with a family of children, varying in age from six to thirteen, whom he was taking for an autumn holiday. He seemed a weak-minded, foolish individual, and it was quite tragic to see how easily he fell a victim to the wiles and the paint of the so-called "countess." Every day at dinner the poor fly could be seen being drawn yet further into the spider's web. We cannot say how the matter ended, but we fear that the "countess's" manoeuvres proved only too successful, for on the evening before our departure we noticed that the eldest girl's eyes were very red. She descended the staircase after dinner with her lips quivering, her brother making vain attempts to console her. Then we saw the father come in from his moonlight walk with the "countess"; he brought his daughter up and placed her little hand in that of the tawdry painted female. We did not wait to see more, Poor children! we sympathised with their red eyes, What a stepmother to have in prospect !

Newly-married couples on their honeymoon lend themselves very easily to detection. They wander about together, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot," and always have an indescribable air of being very unused to one another. Be their luggage as old as the hills, yet they shall not escape detection. Miss Smith's vigilant eye spots one of them at once, the chaplain consults them

as to the most convenient time for the service, and the poor newly-married wife, though she and her husband had planned a Sunday morning excursion, has not the courage to resist the appeal. If the vicar's daughters are not handy, she finds herself "nailed" to play the harmonium before she knows where she is. A young and pretty American mamma sits next to her at table d'hôte, and is vaguely interested in her, asking how many children she has. The American mamma is very helpless and very charming, travelling with a maid and a most tiresome boy of six, who always, alas! dines at the table d'hôte. She is generally a little vague in her manner, because one ear is, so to speak, taken up with the everlasting distractions of her offspring. This kind of American child is well known and well hated by all frequenters of monster hotels. Travelling and hotel life have demoralised him. He helps himself to every dish, tastes it, whines, and leaves it. His face is pale, his appetite depraved, and he teases for sweets all through dinner. His mother blandly excuses him: "He hasn't been quite himself since that last journey on the cars," she remarks appealingly to her vis-à-vis, who chances to be a strong-minded British spinster. "He's such a docile, intelligent child usually."

"Is he, indeed?" returns the person addressed, severely.

"But he was always very fastidious in his tastes. He takes after his pappa there. He's got quite a wonderful palate for his age."

"Well, if he was my child," remarks the stern spinster, unsympathetically, "I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd give him a bowl of bread and milk, and send him to bed early, instead of letting him make an exhibition of himself like this." The mamma cowers at the rebuke, and shrinks into snubbed silence-which her child does not-for the remainder of the meal.

We might continue ad infinitum, if we did not dread becoming as great a bore as the American infant itself; and our space-to say nothing of our readers' patience is limited.

All the types enumerated above, and many more, can be met with in the course of a month's travel on "the tourist track" of the Continent. For those who think that

The proper study of mankind is man

this kind of experience is, perhaps, as interesting as any other; only they might have it without taking the trouble to travel quite so far.

Though the aggregate of British tourists is largely made up of this class, yet there is still a small percentage who travel for travelling's sake, who go for rest and for pleasure, and not to meet the

society of a third-rate London suburb. These go mostly to places not yet demoralised by the buzz of fashion-charming resorts which have just not quite emerged into publicity. The clever traveller will seize on a place at exactly the right period in its growth; for it very soon loses its pristine bloom. Mürren, Glion, Interlaken, Monte Generoso-all these have long been ruined so far as the quiet, repose-seeking travellers are concerned; many other places are on their way towards being spoiled; the railway nearly reaches Chamouni; and they are building an English church in the quiet valley of Macugnaga-as if the two native churches which already exist were not enough for the few travelling English who visit it to pray in!

However, the two classes of people we have mentioned--the quiet and the society-loving, the travellers and the tourists-can be quite happy if they keep to their own hunting-grounds. The "tourist track" is after all but a small part of the "playground of Europe"; and, by a careful settling of plans beforehand, the opposite factions nced never come across each other, unless they wish. Of course, accidents may happen; a quiet couple on a walking tour may, after a month's roughing it, find themselves landed-with a valise between them, and clothes proportionately dirty-in a monster hotel filled with gaily-dressed damsels who don a different costume every evening, own enormous American trunks upstairs, and are nothing if not critical. The woman who can calmly and amiably face a table d'hôte under these circumstances—in all the consciousness that her dress is dirty and her complexion the worse for wear-is surely as great as he who has conquered a city.

And lastly, there may be travellers who in spirit eschew monster hotels, "grey moths," American trunks, and all their adjuncts-and yet who do not altogether enjoy roughing it in native inns. Of these it may be said that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ;" they hate bad cooking, and they lose their tempers terribly over the small inhabitants that sometimes lurk in the cleanliest and most whitewashed-looking of native inns. There is no doubt that, to be an ideal traveller, you must be blest with a good temper and a sunny disposition; you must not be too fond of your luxuries, but -like that most charming of travel-book writers, Mr. King, who explored all the Pennine Alps with his wife and her mule--you must be able to do without soap and water on occasion. The ideal traveller forgets all the disagreeable adjuncts of travelling, for the sake of its charms. He brings to everything he sees the power to appreciate it to the utmost. Unlike the man of whom it was said that

A primrose by the river's brim

A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more,

he resembles the poet-painter, Blake, to whom the rising sun daily revealed a company of the angel choir. To have, more or less, this gift of second-sight; to be always ready for any new experience; to receive all impressions with an open mind; to think it is no hardship to carry little luggage; to be ever pleasant and unruffled; to make friends and talk, where possible, with the natives; to learn something wherever you go: these are the things which should separate you from those who travel vainly from Bakewell to Buxton, and which distinguish "travellers" from "tourists."

EMILY CONSTANCE COOK.

« PreviousContinue »