We did not succeed in carrying out our programme in its entirety, for the reason that human performance lags ever behind human intention. It is easy to say and believe at three o’clock in the afternoon that: “We will rise at five, breakfast lightly at half-past, and start away at six.”
“Then we shall be well on our way before the heat of the day sets in,” remarks one.
“This time of the year, the early morning is really the best part of the day. Don’t you think so?” adds another.
“So cool and fresh.”
“And the half-lights are so exquisite.”
The first morning one maintains one’s vows. The party assembles at half-past five. It is very silent; individually, somewhat snappy; inclined to grumble with its food, also with most other things; the atmosphere charged with compressed irritability seeking its vent. In the evening the Tempter’s voice is heard:
“I think if we got off by half-past six, sharp, that would be time enough?”
The voice of Virtue protests, faintly: “It will be breaking our resolution.”
The Tempter replies: “Resolutions were made for man, not man for resolutions.” The devil can paraphrase Scripture for his own purpose. “Besides, it is disturbing the whole hotel; think of the poor servants.”
The voice of Virtue continues, but even feebler: “But everybody gets up early in these parts.”
“They would not if they were not obliged to, poor things! Say breakfast at half-past six, punctual; that will be disturbing nobody.”
Thus Sin masquerades under the guise of Good, and one sleeps till six, explaining to one’s conscience, who, however, doesn’t believe it, that one does this because of unselfish consideration for others. I have known such consideration extend until seven of the clock.
Likewise, distance measured with a pair of compasses is not precisely the same as when measured by the leg.
“Ten miles an hour for seven hours, seventy miles. A nice easy day’s work.”
“There are some stiff hills to climb?”
“The other side to come down. Say, eight miles an hour, and call it sixty miles. Gott in Himmel! if we can’t average eight miles an hour, we had better go in bath-chairs.” It does seem somewhat impossible to do less, on paper.
But at four o’clock in the afternoon the voice of Duty rings less trumpet-toned:
“Well, I suppose we ought to be getting on.”
“Oh, there’s no hurry! don’t fuss. Lovely view from here, isn’t it?”
“Very. Don’t forget we are twenty-five miles from St. Blasien.”
“Twenty-five miles, a little over if anything.”
“Do you mean to say we have only come thirty-five miles?”
“Nonsense. I don’t believe that map of yours.”
“It is impossible, you know. We have been riding steadily ever since the first thing this morning.”
“No, we haven’t. We didn’t get away till eight, to begin with.”
“Quarter to eight.”
“Well, quarter to eight; and every half-dozen miles we have stopped.”
“We have only stopped to look at the view. It’s no good coming to see a country, and then not seeing it.”
“And we have had to pull up some stiff hills.”
“Besides, it has been an exceptionally hot day to-day.”
“Well, don’t forget St. Blasien is twenty-five miles off, that’s all.”
“Any more hills?”
“Yes, two; up and down.”
“I thought you said it was downhill into St. Blasien?”
“So it is for the last ten miles. We are twenty-five miles from St. Blasien here.”
“Isn’t there anywhere between here and St. Blasien? What’s that little place there on the lake?”
“It isn’t St. Blasien, or anywhere near it. There’s a danger in beginning that sort of thing.”
“There’s a danger in overworking oneself. One should study moderation in all things. Pretty little place, that Titisee, according to the map; looks as if there would be good air there.”
“All right, I’m agreeable. It was you fellows who suggested our making for St. Blasien.”
“Oh, I’m not so keen on St. Blasien! poky little place, down in a valley. This Titisee, I should say, was ever so much nicer.”
“Quite near, isn’t it?”
General chorus: “We’ll stop at Titisee.”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men on the Bummel, 1914.