I once took quite a long railway trip into the South in search of my health. I called my physicians together, and they decided by a rising vote that I ought to go to a warmer clime, or I should enjoy very poor health all winter. So I decided to go in search of my health, if I died on the trail.
I bought tickets at Cincinnati of a pale, sallow liar, who is just beginning to work his way up to the forty-ninth degree in the Order of Ananias. He will surely be heard from again some day, as he has the elements that go to make up a successful prevaricator.
He said that I could go through from Cincinnati to Asheville, North Carolina, with only one easy change of cars, and in about twenty-three hours. It took me twice that time, and I had to change cars three times in the dead of night.
The southern railroad is not in a flourishing condition. It ought to go somewhere for its health. Anyway, it ought to go somewhere, which at present it does not. According to the old Latin proverb, I presume we should say nothing but good of the dead, but I am here to say that the railroad that knocked my spine loose last week, and compelled me to carry lunch baskets and large Norman two-year-old gripsacks through the gloaming, till my arms hung down to the ground, does not deserve to be treated well, even after death.
I do not feel any antipathy toward the South, for I did not take any part in the war, remaining in Canada during the whole time, and so I can not now be accused of offensive partisanship. I have always avoided anything that would look like a settled conviction in any of these matters, retaining always a fair, unpartisan and neutral idiocy in relation to all national affairs, so that I might be regarded as a good civil service reformer, and perhaps at some time hold an office.
To further illustrate how fair-minded I am in these matters, I may say I have patiently read all the war articles written by both sides, and I have not tried to dodge the foot-notes or the marginal references, or the war maps or the memoranda. I have read all these things until I can’t tell who was victorious, and if that is not a fair and impartial way to look at the war, I don’t know how to proceed in order to eradicate my prejudices.
But a railroad is not a political or sectional matter, and it ought not to be a local matter unless the train stays at one end of the line all the time. This road, however, is the one that discharged its engineer some years ago, and when he took his time-check he said he would now go to work for a sure-enough road with real iron rails to it, instead of two streaks of rust on a right of way.
All night long, except when we were changing cars, we rattled along over wobbling trestles and third mortgages. The cars were graded from third-class down. The road itself was not graded at all.
They have the same old air in these coaches that they started out with. Different people, with various styles of breath, have used this air and then returned it. They are using the same air that they did before the war. It is not, strictly speaking, a national air. It is more of a languid air, with dark circles around its eyes.
At one place where I had an engagement to change cars, we had a wait of four hours, and I reclined on a hair-cloth lounge at the hotel, with the intention of sleeping a part of the time.
Dear, patient reader, did you every try to ride a refractory hair-cloth lounge all night, bare back? Did you ever get aboard a short, old-fashioned, black, hair-cloth lounge, with a disposition to buck?