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We learned afterward, that the train we had come by was really the Exeter mail, and that they had spent hours at Waterloo looking for it, and nobody knew what had become of it.
Our boat was waiting for us at Kingston just below the bridge, and to it we wended our way, and round it we stored our luggage, and into it we stepped.
“Are you all right, sir ? " said the man.
" Right it is,” we answered; and with Harris at the sculls and I at the tiller-lines, and Montmorency, unhappy and deeply suspicious, in the prow, out we shot onto the waters which, for a fortnight, were to be our home.
THE MAZE. HARRIS asked me if I'd ever been in the Maze at Hampton Court. He said he went in once to show somebody else the way. He had studied it up in a map, and it was so simple that it seemed foolish - hardly worth the two-pence charged for admission. Harris said he thought that map must have been got up as a practical joke, because it wasn't a bit like the real thing, and only misleading. It was a country cousin that Harris took in. He said:
“We'll just go in here, so that you can say you've been, but it's very simple. It's absurd to call it a maze.
You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We'll just walk round for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch."
They met some people soon after they had got inside, who said they had been there for three-quarters of an hour, and had had about enough of it. Harris told them they could follow him, if they liked; he was just going in, and then should turn round and come out again. They said it was very kind of him, and fell behind, and followed.
They picked up various other people who wanted to get it over, as they went along, until they had absorbed all the persons in the Maze. People who had given up all hopes of ever getting either in or out, or of ever seeing their home and friends again, plucked up courage at the sight of Harris and his party, and joined the procession, blessing him. Harris said he should judge there must have been twenty people following him, in all; and one woman with a baby, who had been there all the morning, insisted on taking his arm, for fear of losing him.
Harris kept on turning to the right, but it seemed a long way, and his cousin said he supposed it was a very big maze.
Oh, one of the largest in Europe !” said Harris.
“ Yes, it must be," replied the cousin, “because we've walked a good two miles already.”
Harris began to think it rather strange himself, but he held on until, at last, they passed the half of a penny bun on the ground that Harris's cousin swore he had noticed there seven minutes ago. Harris said: “Oh, impossible !” but the woman with the baby said, “ Not at all,” as she herself had taken it from the child and thrown it down there, just before she met Harris. She also added that she wished that she never had met Harris, and expressed an opinion that he was an impostor. That made Harris mad, and he produced his map, and explained his theory
“ The map may be all right enough,” said one of the party, “if you know whereabouts in it we are now.'
Harris didn't know, and suggested that the best thing to do would be to go back to the entrance and begin again. For the beginning again part of it there was not much enthusiasm ; but with regard to the advisability of going back to the entrance there was complete unanimity, and so they turned, and trailed after Harris again, and in the opposite direction. About ten minutes more passed, and then they found themselves in the center.
Harris thought at first of pretending that that was what he had been aiming at; but the crowd looked dangerous, and he decided to treat it as an accident.
Anyhow they had got something to start from then. They did know where they were, and the map was once more consulted, and the thing seemed simpler than ever, and off they started for the third time.
And three minutes later they were back in the center again.
After that they simply couldn't get anywhere else. Whatever way they turned brought them back to the middle. It became so regular at length, that some of the people stopped there, and waited for the others to take a walk round, and come back to them. Harris drew out his map again after awhile, but the sight of it only infuriated the mob, and they told him to go and curl his hair with it. Harris said that he couldn't help feeling that, to a certain extent, he had become unpopular.
They all got crazy at last, and sung out for the keeper, and the man came and climbed up the ladder outside, and shouted out directions to them. But all their heads were, by this time, in such a confused whirl that they were incapable of grasping anything, and so the man told them to stop where they were, and he would come to them. They huddled together, and waited; and he climbed down, and came in.
He was a young keeper, as luck would have it, and new to the business; and when he got in he couldn't find them, and he wandered about, trying to get to them, and then he got lost. They caught sight of him, every now and then, rushing about the other side of the hedge, and he would see them, and rush to get to them, and they would wait there for about five minutes, and then he would reappear again in exactly the same spot, and ask them where they had been.
They had to wait till one of the old keepers came back from his dinner before they got out.
Harris said he thought it was a very fine maze, so far as he was a judge; and we agreed that we would try to get George to go into it, on our way back.
It was while passing through Moulsey Lock that Harris told me about his maze experience. It took us some time to pass through, as we were the only boat, and it is a big lock. I don't think I ever remember to have seen Moulsey Lock before with only one boat in it. It is, I suppose, Boulter's not even excepted, the busiest lock on the river.
I have stood and watched it sometimes when you could not see any water at all, but only a brilliant tangle of bright blazers, and gay caps, and saucy hats, and many-colored paraso and silken rugs, and cloaks, and streaming ribbons, and dainty whites; when looking down into the lock from the quay, you might fancy it was a huge box into which flowers of every hue and shade had been thrown pell-mell, and lay piled up in a rainbow heap, that covered every corner.
On a fine Sunday it presents this appearance nearly all day long, while up the stream, and down the stream, lie, waiting their turn, outside the gates, long lines of still more boats; and boats are drawing near and passing away, so that the sunny river, from the Palace up to Hampton Church, is dotted and decked with yellow, and blue, and orange, and white, and red,
and pink. All the inhabitants of Hampton and Moulsey dress themselves up in boating costume, and come and mouch round the lock with their dogs, and flirt, and smoke, and watch the boats ; and, altogether, what with the caps and jackets of the men, the pretty colored dresses of the women, the excited dogs, the moving boats, the white sails, the pleasant landscape, and the sparkling water, it is one of the gayest sights I know of near this dull old London town.
The river affords a good opportunity for dress. For once in a way, we men are able to show our taste in colors, and I think we come out very natty, if you
I always like a little red in my things — red and black. You know my hair is a sort of golden brown, rather a pretty shade I've been told, and a dark-red matches it beautifully; and then I always think a lightblue neck-tie goes so well with it, and a pair of those Russianleather shoes and a red silk handkerchief round the waist- & handkerchief looks so much better than a belt.
Harris always keeps to shades or mixtures of orange or yellow, but I don't think he is at all wise in this. His complexion is too dark for yellows. Yellows don't suit him; there can be 110 question about it. I want him to take to blue as a background, with white or cream for relief; but, there! the less taste a person has in dress, the more obstinate he always seems to be. It is a great pity, because he will never be a success as it is, while there are one or two colors in which he might not really look so bad, with his hat on.
George has bought some new things for this trip, and I'm rather vexed about them. The blazer is loud. I should not like George to know that I thought so, but there really is no other word for it. He brought it home and showed it to us on Thursday evening. We asked him what color he called it, and he said he didn't know. He didn't think there was a name for the color. The man had told him it was an Oriental design. George put it on, and asked us what we thought of it. Harris said that, as an object to hang over a flower-bed in early spring to frighten the birds away, he should respect it; but that, considered as an article of dress for any human being, except a Margate nigger, it made him ill. George got quite huffy; but, as Harris said, if he didn't want his opinion, why did he ask for it?
What troubles Harris and myself, with regard to it, is that we are afraid it will attract attention to the boat.
Girls also don't look half bad in a boat, if prettily dressed. Nothing is more fetching, to my thinking, than a tasteful boating costume. But a “boating costume," it would be as well if all ladies would understand, onght to be a costume that can be worn in a boat, and not merely under a glass case. It utterly spoils an excursion if you have folk in the boat who are thinking all the time a good deal more of their dress than of the trip. It was my misfortune once to go for a water picnic with two ladies of this kind. We did have a lively time.
They were both beautifully got up -- all lace and silky stuff, and flowers, and ribbons, and dainty shoes, and light gloves. But they were dressed for a photographic studio, not for a river picnic. They were the “boating costumes ” of a French fashionplate. It was ridiculous fooling about in them anywhere near real earth, air, and water. The first thing was that they thought the boat was not clean. We dusted all the seats for them, and then assured them that it was, but they didn't believe us. One of them rubbed the cushion with the forefinger of her glove, and showed the result to the other, and they both sighed, and sat down with the air of early Christian martyrs trying to make themselves comfortable up against the stake. You are liable to occasionally splash a little when sculling, and it appeared that a drop of water ruined those costumes. The mark never came out and a stain was left on the dress forever.
I was stroke. I did my best. I feathered some two feet high, and I paused at the end of each stroke to let the blades drip before returning them, and I picked out a smooth bit of water to drop them into again each time. (Bow said, after awhile, that he did not feel himself a sufficiently accomplished oarsman to pull with me, but that he would sit still, if I would allow him, and study my stroke. He said it interested him.) But notwithstanding all this, and try as I would, I could not help an occasional flicker of water from going over those dresses.
The girls did not complain, but they huddled up close together, and set their lips firm, and every time a drop touched them they visibly shrunk and shuddered. It was a noble sight to see them suffering thus in silence, but it unnerved me altogether. I am too sensitive. I got wild and fitful in my rowing, and splashed more and more the harder I tried not to.
I gave it up at last; I said I'd row bow. Bow thought the arrangement would be better too, and we changed places. The
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