Nothing like it. They were led up to highly odorous Bazaars conducted by lineal Descendants of the 40 Thieves.
Often, while riding in the dusty Cattle Cars and looking out at the parched Plains, they would think of the shaded Front Porch, only 5 minutes from Barclay’s Drug Store, where they sold the Ice Cream Soda. Moaning feebly, they would return to the italicized Guide Book.
The Chow consisted largely of Curry and Rice, the medicinal flavor of which was further accentuated by Butter brought in Tins all the way from Sweden.
Although the Heat was intense, they found occasional Relief in sitting next the Britons and getting a few Zephyrs direct from the Ice-Box.
Each day they would purchase a Newspaper about the size of a Bed-Spread and search eagerly for American News. Once in a while they would learn that Congress had met or another Colored Person had been burned at the Stake. It cheered them immensely to know that the Land of the Free was still squirming.
At Rangoon they met a weary Countryman headed in the opposite direction. He was a hard-faced Customer who was fighting the Climate with Gin and Bitters, but they fell upon him and wanted to Kiss him when they learned that he had once met Selena’s Uncle at Colorado Springs.
They told him how to save time in getting across India, and he gave them a list of Places in China and Japan that might be dodged to advantage.
Year after year in the months of March and April they continued on their tedious Way through the burning Tropics.
Sometimes they came to a discouraged belief that the World was one bluey expanse, disturbed by Flying Fish.
Then they would spend weary Ages along the avenues of white Lime-Kilns, looking at Countless millions of hungry Brunettes in fluttering Nighties.
Their principal Occupation, when not setting down Expressions of Delight on the Post-Cards, was to study Time-Tables and cable ahead for Reservations.
The Invalid’s one desire was to get home and take a regular Bath before being laid out.
Hong Kong pleased them exceedingly because they learned, by consulting Mr. Mercator’s Projection, that they were on the Home Stretch and, with Luck in their favor, might live to see another Piece of Huckleberry Pie.
Japan they liked the best of all. At Yokohama they received a bundle of Dailies only six weeks old, giving full Particulars of a Wedding and telling who was about to run for Mayor.
As soon as they were on the Pacific and headed for a refined Vaudeville Show, they began to recover the brave Spirit of Travel and blow about what they had seen.
The Towns and Temples and Tombs and Treasures of Art were all jumbled together, but, by daily reference to Baedeker and Murray, they were enabled to find out where they had been and what they had seen with their own Eyes and how it impressed them at the time.
Before touching at Honolulu they were real enthusiastic about India. They advised the awe-stricken Listener who had not been all the Way around to be sure and take in Penang and Johore and, if necessary, they would give him Letters of Introduction.
They said it had been a Wonderful Experience. Yes, indeed. And broadening. Very. Then Edwin would wander to the front end of the Ship and want to climb out on the Bowsprit so as to be in Frisco ahead of anybody else.
He convalesced rapidly as they approached the Golden Gate, for he knew that in a few days he would unpack for good and gallop down to the office and not have to worry about Travelling.
The only Dark Cloud on the Shore hung above the Custom House. They looked at all the Junk wished upon them by the simple Children of the Far East and didn’t know whether to declare it for what it cost or what it was really worth.
Being conscientious Members of the Church, they modified their Perjury and smuggled only the usual amount of Carvings and hand-embroidered Stuff.
Two hours after landing, Edwin saw a Porter-House Steak and burst into tears.
They sped eastward by the first Train, still busy with the little Red Books, for they knew they would have to answer a lot of Questions.
“Shall we own up and tell them the Awful Truth?” asked Selena.
“Not on your Esoteric Buddhism,” replied Edwin. “We never will be rewarded for our Sufferings unless we convince the Neighbors that we had a run for our Money. It was a troubled Nightmare, in Spots, but when I lecture in the Church Parlor I am going to burn Joss Sticks and pull every variety of Bunk made famous by Sir Edwin Arnold and Lafcadio Hearn.”
On the following Tuesday, Selena appeared at the Club with her Mandarin Coat and the long Hindoo Ear-Rings. She had them frozen in their Chairs.
MORAL: Be it ever so Hard to Take, there is no Place like away from Home.