CHAPTER VI. A suspected bill - A friend in need - All aboard for the Western cars - The wings of the wind-American politeness - A loquacious conductor - Three minutes for refreshments - A conversation on politics - A confession - The emigrant car - Beauti
I rose the morning after my arrival at five, hoping to leave Boston for Cincinnati by the Lightning Express, which left at eight. But on summoning the cashier (or rather requesting his attendance, for one neversummons any one in the States), and showing him my hill of exchange drawn on Barclay and Company of London, he looked at me, then at it, suspiciously, as if doubting whether the possessor of such a little wayworn portmanteau could he the bona fide owner of such a sum as the figures represented. "There's so much bad paper going about, we can't possibly accommodate you," was the discouraging reply; so I was compelled patiently to submit to the detention.
I breakfasted at seven in the ladies' ordinary, without exchanging a syllable with any one, and soon after my kind friend, Mr. Amy, called upon me. He proved himself a friend indeed, and his kindness gave me at once a favourable impression of the Americans. First impressions are not always correct, but I am happy to say they were fully borne out in this instance by the uniform kindness and hospitality which I experienced during my whole tour. Mr. Amy soon procured me the money for my bill, all in five- dollar notes, and I was glad to find the exchange greatly in favour of England. He gave me much information about my route, and various cautions which I found very useful, and then drove me in a light "waggon" round the antiquated streets of Boston, crowded with the material evidences of prosperity, to his pretty villa three miles distant, in one of those villages of ornamental dwelling-houses which render the appearance of the environs of Boston peculiarly attractive. I saw a good deal of the town in my drive, but, as I returned to it before leaving the States, I shall defer my description of it, and request my readers to dash away at once with me to the "far west," the goal alike of the traveller and the adventurer, and the El Dorado of the emigrant's misty ideas.
Leaving American House with its hall swarming like a hive of bees, I drove to the depot in a hack with several fellow-passengers, Mr. Amy, who was executing a commission for me in the town, having promised to meet me there, but, he being detained, I arrived alone, and was deposited among piles of luggage, in a perfect Babel of men vociferating, "Where are you for?" "Lightning Express!" "All aboard for the Western cars," &c. Some one pounced upon my trunks, and was proceeding to weigh them, when the stage- driver stepped forward and said, "It's a lady's luggage," upon which he relinquished his intention. He also took my ticket for me, handed me to the cars, and then withdrew, wishing me a pleasant journey, his prompt civility having assisted me greatly in the chaotic confusion which attends the departure of a train in America. The cars by which I left were guaranteed to take people to Cincinnati, a distance of 1000 miles, in 40 hours, allowing time for refreshments! I was to travel by five different lines of railway, but this part of the railway system is so well arranged that I only took a ticket once, rather a curious document - a strip of paper half a yard long, with passes for five different roads upon it; thus, whenever I came upon a fresh line, the conductor tore off a piece, giving me a ticket in exchange. Tickets are not only to be procured at the stations, but at several offices in every town, in all the steamboats, and in the cars themselves. For the latter luxury, for such it must certainly be considered, as it enables one to step into the cars at the last moment without any preliminaries, one only pays five cents extra.
The engine tolled its heavy bell, and soon we were amid the beauties of New England; rocky hills, small lakes, rapid streams, and trees distorted into every variety of the picturesque. At the next station from Boston the Walrences joined me. We were to travel together, with our ulterior destination a settlement in Canada West, but they would not go to Cincinnati; there were lions in the street; cholera and yellow fever, they said, were raging; in short, they left me at Springfield, to find my way in a strange country as best I might; our rendezvous to be Chicago.