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Across the Plains with Other Memories and Essays/Epilogue to 'An Inland Voyage'

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IV

EPILOGUE TO 'AN INLAND VOYAGE'[1]

The country where they journeyed, that green, breezy valley of the Loing, is one very attractive to cheerful and solitary people. The weather was superb; all night it thundered and lightened, and the rain fell in sheets; by day, the heavens were cloudless, the sun fervent, the air vigorous and pure. They walked separate: the Cigarette plodding behind with some philosophy, the lean Arethusa posting on ahead. Thus each enjoyed his own reflections by the way; each had perhaps time to tire of them before he met his comrade at the designated inn; and the pleasures of society and solitude combined to fill the day. The Arethusa carried in his knapsack the works of Charles of Orleans, and employed some of the hours of travel in the concoction of English roundels. In this path, he must thus have preceded Mr. Lang, Mr. Dobson, Mr. Henley, and all contemporary roundeleers; but for good reasons, he will be the last to publish the result. The Cigarette walked burthened with a volume of Michelet. And both these books, it will be seen, played a part in the subsequent adventure.

The Arethusa was unwisely dressed. He is no precisian in attire; but by all accounts, he was never so ill-inspired as on that tramp; having set forth indeed, upon a moment's notice, from the most unfashionable spot in Europe, Barbizon. On his head he wore a smoking-cap of Indian work, the gold lace pitifully frayed and tarnished. A flannel shirt of an agreeable dark hue, which the satirical called black; a light tweed coat made by a good English tailor; ready-made cheap linen trousers and leathern gaiters completed his array. In person, he is exceptionally lean; and his face is not, like those of happier Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/159 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/160 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/161 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/162 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/163 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/164 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/165 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/166 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/167 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/168 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/169 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/170 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/171 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/172 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/173 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/174 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/175 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/176 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/177 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/178 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/179 Page:Stevenson - Across the Plains (1892).djvu/180 And the Arethusa? Well, he had a long, sometimes a trying, interview in the back kitchen. The Maréchal-des-logis, who was a very handsome man, and I believe both intelligent and honest, had no clear opinion on the case. He thought the Commissary had done wrong, but he did not wish to get his subordinates into trouble; and he proposed this, that, and the other, to all of which the Arethusa (with a growing sense of his position) demurred.

'In short,' suggested the Arethusa, 'you want to wash your hands of further responsibility? Well, then, let me go to Paris.'

The Maréchal-des-logis looked at his watch.

'You may leave,' said he, 'by the ten o'clock train for Paris.'

And at noon the next day the travellers were telling their misadventure in the dining-room at Siron's.

 
  1. See An Inland Voyage, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1878.