Letters Of Travel (1892-1913) By Rudyard Kipling











































































































 - LETTERS OF TRAVEL

THE DOMINIONS EDITION

LETTERS OF TRAVEL

(1892-1913)

BY RUDYARD KIPLING


MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S - Page 1
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LETTERS OF TRAVEL

THE DOMINIONS EDITION

LETTERS OF TRAVEL

(1892-1913)

BY RUDYARD KIPLING

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 1920

The Letters entitled 'FROM TIDEWAY TO TIDEWAY' were published originally in The Times; those entitled 'LETTERS TO THE FAMILY' in The Morning Post; and those entitled 'EGYPT OF THE MAGICIANS' in Nash's Magazine.

CONTENTS

FROM TIDEWAY TO TIDEWAY (1892) -

In Sight of Monadnock Across a Continent The Edge of the East Our Overseas Men Some Earthquakes Half-a-Dozen Pictures 'Captains Courageous' On One Side Only Leaves from a Winter Note-Book

LETTERS TO THE FAMILY (1907) -

The Road to Quebec A People at Home Cities and Spaces Newspapers and Democracy Labour The Fortunate Towns Mountains and the Pacific A Conclusion

EGYPT OF THE MAGICIANS (1913) -

Sea Travel A Return to the East A Serpent of Old Nile Up the River Dead Kings The Face of the Desert The Riddle of Empire

* * * * *

FROM TIDEWAY TO TIDEWAY

1892-95

IN SIGHT OF MONADNOCK. ACROSS A CONTINENT. THE EDGE OF THE EAST. OUR OVERSEAS MEN. SOME EARTHQUAKES. HALF-A-DOZEN PICTURES. 'CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS.' ON ONE SIDE ONLY. LEAVES FROM A WINTER NOTE-BOOK.

* * * * *

IN SIGHT OF MONADNOCK

After the gloom of gray Atlantic weather, our ship came to America in a flood of winter sunshine that made unaccustomed eyelids blink, and the New Yorker, who is nothing if not modest, said, 'This isn't a sample of our really fine days. Wait until such and such times come, or go to such and a such a quarter of the city.' We were content, and more than content, to drift aimlessly up and down the brilliant streets, wondering a little why the finest light should be wasted on the worst pavements in the world; to walk round and round Madison Square, because that was full of beautifully dressed babies playing counting-out games, or to gaze reverently at the broad-shouldered, pug-nosed Irish New York policemen. Wherever we went there was the sun, lavish and unstinted, working nine hours a day, with the colour and the clean-cut lines of perspective that he makes. That any one should dare to call this climate muggy, yea, even 'subtropical,' was a shock. There came such a man, and he said, 'Go north if you want weather - weather that is weather. Go to New England.' So New York passed away upon a sunny afternoon, with her roar and rattle, her complex smells, her triply over-heated rooms, and much too energetic inhabitants, while the train went north to the lands where the snow lay. It came in one sweep - almost, it seemed, in one turn of the wheels - covering the winter-killed grass and turning the frozen ponds that looked so white under the shadow of lean trees into pools of ink.

As the light closed in, a little wooden town, white, cloaked, and dumb, slid past the windows, and the strong light of the car lamps fell upon a sleigh (the driver furred and muffled to his nose) turning the corner of a street. Now the sleigh of a picture-book, however well one knows it, is altogether different from the thing in real life, a means of conveyance at a journey's end; but it is well not to be over-curious in the matter, for the same American who has been telling you at length how he once followed a kilted Scots soldier from Chelsea to the Tower, out of pure wonder and curiosity at his bare knees and sporran, will laugh at your interest in 'just a cutter.'

The staff of the train - surely the great American nation would be lost if deprived of the ennobling society of brakeman, conductor, Pullman-car conductor, negro porter, and newsboy - told pleasant tales, as they spread themselves at ease in the smoking compartments, of snowings up the line to Montreal, of desperate attacks - four engines together and a snow-plough in front - on drifts thirty feet high, and the pleasures of walking along the tops of goods wagons to brake a train, with the thermometer thirty below freezing. 'It comes cheaper to kill men that way than to put air-brakes on freight-cars,' said the brakeman.

Thirty below freezing! It was inconceivable till one stepped out into it at midnight, and the first shock of that clear, still air took away the breath as does a plunge into sea-water. A walrus sitting on a woolpack was our host in his sleigh, and he wrapped us in hairy goatskin coats, caps that came down over the ears, buffalo robes and blankets, and yet more buffalo-robes till we, too, looked like walruses and moved almost as gracefully. The night was as keen as the edge of a newly-ground sword; breath froze on the coat-lapels in snow; the nose became without sensation, and the eyes wept bitterly because the horses were in a hurry to get home; and whirling through air at zero brings tears. But for the jingle of the sleigh-bells the ride might have taken place in a dream, for there was no sound of hoofs upon the snow, the runners sighed a little now and again as they glided over an inequality, and all the sheeted hills round about were as dumb as death. Only the Connecticut River kept up its heart and a lane of black water through the packed ice; we could hear the stream worrying round the heels of its small bergs. Elsewhere there was nothing but snow under the moon - snow drifted to the level of the stone fences or curling over their tops in a lip of frosted silver; snow banked high on either side of the road, or lying heavy on the pines and the hemlocks in the woods, where the air seemed, by comparison, as warm as a conservatory. It was beautiful beyond expression, Nature's boldest sketch in black and white, done with a Japanese disregard of perspective, and daringly altered from time to time by the restless pencils of the moon.

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