From Painesville three roads led east, - the North Ridge, Middle Ridge, and South Ridge. We followed the middle road, which is said to be by far the best; it certainly is as good a gravel road as one could ask. Some miles out a turn is made to the South Ridge for Ashtabula.

There is said to be a good road out of Ashtabula; possibly there is, but we missed it at one of the numerous cross roads, and soon found ourselves wallowing through corn-fields, climbing hills, and threading valleys in the vain effort to find Girard, - a point quite out of our way, as we afterwards learned.

The Professor's bump of locality is a depression. As a passenger without serious occupation, it fell to his lot to inquire the way. This he would do very minutely, with great suavity and becoming gravity, and then with no sign of hesitation indicate invariably the wrong road. Once, after crossing a field where there were no fences to mark the highway, descending a hill we could not have mounted, and finding a stream that seemed impassable, the Professor quietly remarked, -

"That old man must have been mistaken regarding the road; yet he had lived on that corner forty years. Strange how little some people know about their surroundings!"

"But are you sure he said the first turn to the left?"

"He said the first turn, but whether to the left or right I cannot now say. It must have been to the right."

"But, my dear Professor, you said to the left."

"Well, we were going pretty fast when we came to the four corners, and something had to be said, and said quickly. I notice that on an automobile decision is more important than accuracy. After being hauled over the country for three days, I have made up my mind that automobiles are driven upon the hypothesis that it is better to lose the road, lose life, lose anything than lose time, therefore, when you ask me which way to turn, you will get an immediate, if not an accurate, response; besides, there is a bridge ahead, a little village across the stream, so the road leads somewhere."

Now and then the Professor would jump out to assist some female in distress with her horse; at first it was a matter of gallantry, then a duty, then a burden. Towards the last it used to delight him to see people frantically turning into lanes, fields, anywhere to get out of the way.

The horse is a factor to be considered - and placated. He is in possession and cannot be forcibly ejected, - a sort of terre-tenant; such title as he has must be respected.

After wrestling with an unusually notional beast, to the great disorder of clothing and temper, the Professor said, -

"The brain of the horse is small; it is an animal of little sense and great timidity, but it knows more than most people who attempt to drive."

In reality horses are seldom driven; they generally go as they please, with now and then a hint as to which corner to turn. Nine times out of ten it is the driven horse that makes trouble for owners of automobiles. The drunken driver never has any trouble; his horses do not stop, turn about, or shy into the ditch; the man asleep on the box is perfectly safe; his horse ambles on, minding its own business, giving a full half of the road to the approaching machine. It is the man, who, on catching sight of the automobile, nervously gathers up his reins, grabs his whip, and pulls and jerks, who makes his own troubles; he is searching for trouble, expects it, and is disappointed if he gets by without it. Nine times out of ten it is the driver who really frightens the horse. A country plug, jogging quietly along, quite unterrified, may be roused to unwonted capers by the person behind.

Some take the antics of their horses quite philosophically. One old farmer, whose wheezy nag tried to climb the fence, called out, -

"Gee whiz! I wish you fellers would come this way every day; the old hoss hasn't showed so much ginger for ten year."

Another, carrying just a little more of the wine of the country than his legs could bear, stood up unsteadily in his wagon and shouted, -

"If you (hic) come around these pa-arts again with that thres-in' ma-a-chine, I'll have the law on you, - d'ye hear?"

The personal equation is everything on the road, as elsewhere.

It is quite idle to expect skill, courage, or common sense from the great majority of drivers. They get along very well so long as nothing happens, but in emergencies they are helpless, because they have never had experience in emergencies. The man who has driven horses all his life is frequently as helpless under unusual conditions as the novice. Few drivers know when and how to use the whip to prevent a runaway or a smash-up.

With the exception of professional and a few amateur whips, no one is ever taught how to drive. Most persons who ride - even country boys - are given many useful hints, lessons, and demonstrations; but it seems to be assumed that driving is a natural acquirement.

As a matter of fact, it is much more important to be taught how to drive than how to ride. A horse in front of a vehicle can do all the mean things a horse under a saddle can do, and more; and it is far more difficult to handle an animal in shafts by means of long reins and a whip.

If people knew half as much about horses as they think they do, there would be no mishaps; if horses were half as nervous as they are supposed to be, the accidents would be innumerable.

The truth is, the horse does very well if managed with a little common sense, skill, and coolness.

As a matter of law, the automobile is a vehicle, and has precisely the same rights on the highway that a bicycle or a carriage has. The horse has no monopoly of the highway, it enjoys no especial privileges, but must share the road with all other vehicles. Furthermore, the law makes it the business of the horse to get accustomed to strange sights and behave itself This duty has been onerous the last few years; the bicycle, the traction engine, and the trolley have come along in quick succession; the automobile is about the last straw.

Until the horse is accustomed to the machine, it is the duty - by law and common sense - of the automobile driver to take great care in passing; the care being measured by the possibility and probability of at accident.

The sympathy of every chauffeur must be entirely with the driver of the horse. Automobiles are not so numerous in this country that they may be looked for at every turn, and one cannot but feel for the man or woman who, while driving, sees one coming down the road. The best of drivers feel panicky, while women and children are terror-stricken.

It is no uncommon sight to see people jump out of their carriages or drive into fields or lanes, anywhere, to get out of the way. In localities where machines have been driven recklessly, men and women, though dressed in their best, frequently jump out in the mud as soon as an automobile comes in sight, and long before the chauffeur has an opportunity to show that he will exercise caution in approaching. All this is wrong and creates an amount of ill-feeling hard to overcome.

If one is driving along a fine road at twenty or thirty miles an hour, it is, of course, a relief to see coming vehicles turn in somewhere; but it ought not to be necessary for them to do so. Often people like to turn to one side for the sake of seeing the machine go by at full speed; but if they do not wish to, the automobile should be so driven as to pass with safety.

On country roads there is but one way to pass horses without risk, and that is let the horses pass the machine.

In cities horses give very little trouble; in the country they give no end of trouble; they are a very great drawback to the pleasure of automobiling. Horses that behave well in the city are often the very worst in the country, so susceptible is the animal to environment.

On narrow country roads three out of five will behave badly, and unless the outward signs are unmistakable, it is never safe to assume one is meeting an old plug, - even the plug sometimes jumps the ditch.

The safe, the prudent, the courteous thing to do is to stop and let the driver drive or lead his horse by; if a child or woman is driving, get out and lead the horse.

By stopping the machine most horses can be gotten by without much trouble. Even though the driver motions to come on, it is seldom safe to do so; for of all horses the one that is brought to a stand-still in front of a machine is surest to shy, turn, or bolt when the machine starts up to pass. If one is going to pass a horse without stopping, it is safer to do so quickly, - the more quickly the better; but that is taking great chances.

Whenever a horse, whether driven or hitched, shows fright, a loud, sharp "Whoa!" from the chauffeur will steady the animal. The voice from the machine, if sharp and peremptory, is much more effective than any amount of talking from the carriage.

Much of the prejudice against automobiles is due to the fact that machines are driven with entire disregard for the feelings and rights of horse owners; in short, the highway is monopolized to the exclusion of the public. The prejudice thus created is manifested in many ways that are disagreeable to the chauffeur and his friends.

The trouble is not in excessive speed, and speed ordinances will not remedy the trouble. A machine may be driven as recklessly at ten or twelve miles an hour as at thirty. In a given distance more horses can be frightened by a slow machine than a fast. It is all in the manner of driving.

Speed is a matter of temperament. In England, the people and local boards cannot adopt measures stringent enough to prevent speeding; in Ireland, the people and local authorities line the highways, urging the chauffeur to let his machine out; in America, we are suspended between English prudence and repression on the one side and Irish impulsiveness and recklessness on the other.

The Englishman will not budge; the Irishman cries, "Let her go."

Speaking of the future of the automobile, the Professor said, -

"Cupid will never use the automobile, the little god is too conservative; fancy the dainty sprite with oil-can and waste instead of bow and arrow. I can see him with smut on the end of his mischievous nose and grease on the seat of the place where his trousers ought to be. What a picture he would make in overalls and jumper, leather jacket and cap; he could not use dart or arrow, at best he could only run the machine hither and thither bunting people into love - knocking them senseless, which is perhaps the same thing. No, no, Cupid will never use the automobile. Imagine Aphrodite in goggles, clothed in dust, her fair skin red from sunburn and glistening with cold cream; horrible nightmare of a mechanical age, avaunt!

"The chariots of High Olympus were never greased, they used no gasoline, the clouds we see about them are condensed zephyrs and not dust. Omniscient Jove never used a monkey-wrench, never sought the elusive spark, never blew up a four-inch tire with a half-inch pump. Even if the automobile could surmount the grades, it would never be popular on Olympian heights. Mercury might use it to visit Vulcan, but he would never go far from the shop.

"As for conditions here on earth, why should a young woman go riding with a man whose hands, arms, and attention are entirely taken up with wheels, levers, and oil-cups? He can't even press her foot without running the risk of stopping the machine by releasing some clutch; if he moves his knees a hair's-breadth in her direction it does something to the mechanism; if he looks her way they are into the ditch; if she attempts to kiss him his goggles prevent; his sighs are lost in the muffler and hers in the exhaust; nothing but dire disaster will bring an automobile courtship to a happy termination; as long as the machine goes love-making is quite out of the question.

"Dobbin, dear old secretive Dobbin, what difference does it make to you whether you feel the guiding hand or not? You know when the courtship begins, the brisk drives about town to all points of interest, to the pond, the poorhouse, and the cemetery; you know how the courtship progresses, the long drives in the country, the idling along untravelled roads and woodland ways, the moonlight nights and misty meadows; you know when your stops to nibble by the wayside will not be noticed, and you alone know when it is time to get the young couple home; you know, alas! when the courtship - blissful period of loitering for you - is ended and when the marriage is made, by the tighter rein, the sharper word, and the occasional swish of the whip. Ah, Dobbin, you and I - " The Professor was becoming indiscreet.

"What do you know about love-making, Professor?"

"My dear fellow, it is the province of learning to know everything and practise nothing."

"But Dobbin - "

"We all have had our Dobbins."

For some miles the road out of Erie was soft, dusty, narrow, and poor - by no means fit for the proposed Erie-Buffalo race. About fifteen miles out there is a sharp turn to the left and down a steep incline with a ravine and stream below on the right, - a dangerous turn at twenty miles an hour, to say nothing of forty or fifty.

There is nothing to indicate that the road drops so suddenly after making the turn, and we were bowling along at top speed; a wagon coming around the corner threw us well to the outside, so that the margin of safety was reduced to a minimum, even if the turn were an easy one.

As we swung around the corner well over to the edge of the ravine, we saw the grade we had to make. Nothing but a succession of small rain gullies in the road saved us from going down the bank. By so steering as to drop the skidding wheels on the outside into each gully, the sliding of the machine received a series of violent checks and we missed the brink of the ravine by a few inches.

A layman in the Professor's place would have jumped; but he, good man, looked upon his escape as one of the incidents of automobile travel.

"When I accepted your invitation, my dear fellow, I expected something beyond the ordinary. I have not been disappointed."

It was a wonder the driving-wheels were not dished by the violent side strains, but they were not even sprung. These wheels were of wire tangential spokes; they do not look so well as the smart, heavy, substantial wooden wheels one sees on nearly all imported machines and on some American.

The sense of proportion between parts is sadly outraged by spindle-wire wheels supporting the massive frame-work and body of an automobile; however strong they may be in reality, architecturally they are quite unfit, and no doubt the wooden wheel will come more and more into general use.

A wooden wheel with the best of hickory spokes possesses an elasticity entirely foreign to the rigid wire wheel, but good hickory wheels are rare; paint hides a multitude of sins when spread over wood; and inferior wooden wheels are not at all to be relied upon.

Soon we begin to catch glimpses of Lake Erie through the trees and between the hills, just a blue expanse of water shining in the morning sun, a sapphire set in the dull brown gold of woods and fields. Farther on we come out upon the bluffs overlooking the lake and see the smoke and grime of Buffalo far across. What a blot on a view so beautiful!

"Civilization," said the Professor, "is the subjection of nature. In the civilization of Athens nature was subdued to the ends of beauty; in the civilization of America nature is subdued to the ends of usefulness; in every civilization nature is of secondary importance, it is but a means to an end. Nature and the savage, like little children, go hand in hand, the one the complement of the other; but the savage grows and grows, while nature remains ever a child, to sink subservient at last to its early playmate. Just now we in this country are treating nature with great harshness, making of her a drudge and a slave; her pretty hands are soiled, her clean face covered with soot, her clothing tattered and torn. Some day, we as a nation will tire of playing the taskmaster and will treat the playmate of man's infancy and youth with more consideration; we will adorn and not disfigure her, love and not ignore her, place her on a throne beside us, make her queen to our kingship."

"Professor, the automobile hardly falls in with your notions."

"On the contrary, the automobile is the one absolutely fit conveyance for America. It is a noisy, dirty, mechanical contrivance, capable of great speed; it is the only vehicle in which one could approach that distant smudge on the landscape with any sense of the eternal fitness of things. A coach and four would be as far behind the times on this highway as a birch-bark canoe on yonder lake. In America an automobile is beautiful because it is in perfect harmony with the spirit of the age and country; it is twin brother to the trolley; train, trolley, and automobile may travel side by side as members of one family, late offsprings of man's ingenuity."

"But you would not call them things of beauty?"

"Yes and no; beauty is so largely relative that one cannot pronounce hideous anything that is a logical and legitimate development. Considered in the light of things the world pronounces beautiful, there are no more hideous monstrosities on the face of the earth than train, trolley, and automobile; but each generation has its own standard of beauty, though it seldom confesses it. We say and actually persuade ourselves that we admire the Parthenon; in reality we admire the mammoth factory and the thirty-story office building. Strive as we may to deceive ourselves by loud protestations, our standards are not the standards of old. We like best the things we have; we may call things ugly, but we think them beautiful, for they are part of us, - and the automobile fits into our surroundings like a pocket in a coat. We may turn up our noses at it or away from it, as the case may be, but none the less it is the perambulator of the twentieth century."

It was exactly one o'clock when we pulled up near the City Hall. Total time from Erie five hours and fifty minutes, actual running time five hours, distance by road about ninety-four miles.