Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Round The World In Haste
by [?]

When I went to New York in the spring I meant going on farther whether I could or not. Australia and home again was in my mind, and in New York slang I swore there should be “blood on the face of the moon” if I did not get through inside of four months. Now this is not record time by any means, and it is not difficult to do it in much less, provided one spends enough money; but I was at that time in no position to sling dollars about, and, besides, I wanted some of the English rust knocked off me. Living in England ends in making a man poor of resource. I hardly know an ordinary Londoner who would not shiver at the notion of being “dead broke” in any foreign city, to say nothing of one on the other side of the world; and though it is not a pleasant experience it has some charms and many uses. It wakes a man up, shows him the real world again, and makes him know his own value once more. So I started for New York in rather a devil-may-care spirit, without the slightest chance of doing the business in comfort. And my misfortunes began at once in that city.

To save time and money I went in the first quick vessel that crossed–the Lucania; and I went second-class. It was an experience to run twenty-two knots an hour; but it has made me greedy since. I want to do any future journeys in a torpedo-boat. As to the second-class crowd, they were, as they always are on board Western ocean boats, a set of hogs. The difference between first and second-class passengers is one of knowing when and where to spit, to put no fine point on it. I was glad when we reached New York on that account.

I meant to stay there three days, but my business took me a fortnight, and money flowed like water. It soaked up dollars like a new gold mine, and I saw what I meant for the Eastern journey sink like water in sand. But I had to get to San Francisco. I took that journey in sections. All my trouble in New York was to get across the continent. I let the Pacific take care of itself, being sure I could conquer that difficulty when the time came. I recommend this frame of mind to all travellers. I acquired the habit myself in the United States when I jumped trains instead of paying my fare. It is most useful to think of no more than the matter in hand, for then we can use one’s whole faculties at one time. Too much forethought is fatal to progress, and if I had really considered difficulties I could have stayed in England and written a story instead, a most loathsome pis aller.

I do not mean to say that I was without money. All I do mean is that I had less than half that I should have had, unless I meant to cross the continent as a tramp in a “side-door Pullman,” as the tramping fraternity call a box car, and the Pacific in the steerage. As a matter of fact, I proposed to do neither. I wanted a free pass over one of the American railroads, and if there had been time I should have got it. I tackled the agents, and “struck” them for a pass. I assured them that I was a person of illimitable influence, and that if I rode over their system, and simply mentioned the fact casually on my return, all Europe would follow me. I insinuated that their traffic returns would rise to heights unheard of: that their rivals would smash and go into the hands of receivers. It was indeed a beautiful, beautiful game, and reminded one of poker, but the railroad birds sat on the bough, and wouldn’t come down. They are not so easy as they used to be, and I had so little time to work it. Then the last of the cheap trains to the San Francisco Midwater Fair were running, and if I played too long for a pass and got euchred after all, I should have to pay ninety dollars instead of forty-five. Then I should be the very sickest sort of traveller that ever was. In the end I bought a cheap ticket on the very last cheap train. By the very next post I got a pass over one of the lines. It made me very mad, and if I had been wise I should have sold it. I am very glad to say I withstood the temptation, and kept the pass as a warning not to hurry in future. I started out of New York with twenty-two pounds in my pocket. For I had found a beautiful, trustful New Yorker, who cashed me a cheque for fifteen pounds with a child-like and simple faith which was not unrewarded in the end.