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vals, and there was already an anxious crowd hurrying to it, with tickets entitling them to go by that train and no other. It was by no means the youthful crowd it would have been at home, and not even the overwhelmingly feminine crowd. The chaperon, who now politely prevails with us in almost her European numbers, was here in no greater evident force; but grayhaired fathers and uncles and elderly friends much more abounded; and they looked as if they were not altogether bent upon a vicarious day's pleasure. The male of the English race is of much more striking presence than the American; he keeps more of the native priority of his sex in his costume, so that in this crowd, I should say, the outward shows were rather on his part than that of his demurely cloaked females, though the hats into which these flowered at top gave some hint of the summer loveliness of dress to be later revealed. They were, much more largely than most railway-station crowds, of the rank which goes first class, and in these special Henley trains it was well to have booked so, if one wished to go in comfort, or arrive uncrumpled, for the second-class and third-class carriages were packed with people.
There seemed so many of our fellow-passengers, that reaching Henley in the condition of greed and grudge of all travellers on errands of pleasure, we made haste to anticipate any rush for the carriages outside the station which were to take us to the scene of the races. Oddly enough there was no great pressure for these vehicles, or for the more public brakes and char-à-bancs and omnibuses plying to the same destination; and so far from falling victims to covert extortion in the matter of fares, we found the flys conscientiously placarded with the price of the drive. This was about double the
ordinary price, and so soon does human nature adjust itself to conditions that I promptly complained to an English friend for having had to pay four shillings for a drive I should have had to pay four dollars for at home. In my resentment I tried to part foes with my driver, who mildly urged that he had but a few days in the year for doubling his fares, but I succeeded so ill that when I found him waiting for me at the end of the day, I amicably took him again for the return to the station.
Of the coming and going through the town of Henley I keep the sort of impression which small English towns give the passing stranger, of a sufficiently busy commercial life, doing business in excellent shops of the modern pattern, but often housed in dwellings of such a familiar picturesqueness that you wonder what old-fashioned annual or stage - setting or illustrated Christmas - story they are out of. I never could pass through such a town without longing to stop in it and know all about it; and I wish I could believe that Henley reciprocated my longing, on its bright holiday morning, that we could have had each other to ourselves in the interest of an intimate acquaintance. It looked most worthy to be known, and I have no doubt that it is full of history and tradition of the sort which small towns have been growing for centuries throughout England.
But we had only that one day there, and in our haste to give it to the regatta we could only make sure of driving over a beautiful picture-postal bridge on our way to the meadows by whose brink our college barge was moored, and making believe to tug at its chain. It was really doing nothing of the kind, for it was familiar with boat-racing in the Thames where the Thames is still the Isis at Oxford, and was as wholly without the motive as without the fact of impatience. Like many
other barges and house-boats set broadside to the shore for a mile up and down as closely as they could be lined, it was of a comfortable cabin below and of a pleasant gallery above, with an awning to keep off the sun or rain, whichever it might be the whim of the weather to send. But that day the weather had no whims; it was its pleasure to be neither wet nor hot, but of a delicious average warmth, informed with a cool freshness which had the days of the years of youth in it. In fact, youth came back in all the holiday sights and scents to the elderly witness who ought to have known better than to be glad of such things as the white tents in the green meadows, the gypsy fires burning pale in the sunlight by the gypsy camps, the traps and carriages thronging up and down the road, or standing detached from the horses in the wayside shadow, where the trodden grass, not less nor more than the wandering cigar-whiff, exhaled the memories of far-off circusdays and Fourths of July. But such things lift the heart in spite of philosophy and experience, and bid it rejoice in the relish of novelty which a scene everywhere elementally the same offers in slight idiosyncrasies of time and place. Certain of these might well touch the American half-brother with a sense of difference, but there was none that perhaps more suggested it than the frank English proclamation by sign-board that these or those grounds in the meadows were this or that lady's, who might be supposed waiting in proprietory state for her guests within the pavilion of her roped-off enclosure. Together with this assertion of private right, and the warning it implied, was the expression of yet elder privilege in the presence of the immemorial wanderers who had their shabby camps by the open wayside and offered the passer fortune at
so low a rate that the poorest pleasurer could afford to buy a prophecy of prosperity from them; I do not know why they proposed to sell with these favorable destinies small brushes and brooms of their own make.
These swarthy aliens, whom no conditions can naturalize, are a fact of every English holiday without which it would not be so native, as the English themselves may hereafter be the more peculiarly and intensely insular through the prevalence of more and more Americans among them. Most of our fellowguests on that Oxford barge were our fellow-countrymen, and I think now that without their difference there would have been wanting an ultimately penetrating sense of the entirely English keeping of the affair. The ardor of our fresh interest lent, I hope, a novel zest to our English hosts for the spectacle which began to offer itself so gradually to our delight, and which seemed to grow and open flower-like from the water, until it was a blossom which covered the surface with its petals.
The course for the races was marked off midway from either shore by long timbers fastened end to end and forming a complete barrier to the intrusion of any of the mere pleasure-craft. Our own shore was sacred to barges and house-boats; the thither margin, if I remember rightly, was devoted to the noisy and muscular expansion of undergraduate emotion, but, it seems to me, that farther up on the grounds which rose from it were some such tents and pavilions as whitened our own side. Still the impression of something rather more official in the arrangements of that shore persists with
There was a long waiting, of course, before the rowing began, but as this throughout was the least interest of the affair for any one but the undergraduates, and the
nearest or fairest friends of the crews, I will keep my promise not to dwell on it. Each event was announced some minutes beforehand by the ringing of a rather unimpressive hand-bell. Then a pistol-shot was fired; and then, after the start far up the course, the shells came sweeping swiftly down towards us. I noticed that the men rowed in their undershirts, and not naked from their waists up as our university crews do, or used to do, and I missed the Greek joy I have experienced at New London, when the fine Yale and Harvard fellows slipped their tunics over their heads, and sat sculpturesque in their bronze nudity, motionlessly waiting for the signal to come to eager life. I think that American moment was more thrilling than any given moment at Henley; and though there is more comfort in a college barge, and more gentle seclusion for the favored spectator, I am not going to own that it equals as a view-point the observation-train, with its successive banks of shouting and glowing girls, all a flutter of handkerchiefs and parasols, which used to keep abreast of the racing crews beside the stately course of the Connecticut Thames. Otherwise I think it best to withhold comparisons, lest the impartial judge should decide in favor of Henley.
There was already a multitude of small boats within the barriers keeping the race-course open, and now and then one of these crossed from shore to shore. They were of all types: skiffs and wherries and canoes and snub-nosed punts, with a great number of short, sharply rounded craft, new to my American observance, and called cockles, very precisely adapted to contain one girl, who had to sit with her eyes firmly fixed on the young man with the oars, lest a glance to this side or that should overset the ticklishly balanced shell. She