There are several roads out of Pittsfield to Springfield, and if one asks a half-dozen citizens, who pretend to know, which is the best, a half-dozen violently conflicting opinions will be forthcoming.

The truth seems to be that all the roads are pretty good, - that is, they are all very hilly and rather soft. One expects the hills, and must put up with the sand. It is impossible to get to Springfield, which is far on the other side of the mountains, without making some stiff grades, - few grades so bad as Nelson's Hill out of Peekskill, or worse than Pride's Hill near Fonda; in fact, the grades through the Berkshires are no worse than many short stiff grades that are to be found in any rolling country, but there are more of them, and occasionally the road is rough or soft, making it hard going.

The road commonly recommended as the more direct is by way of Dalton and Hinsdale, following as closely as possible the line of the Boston and Albany; this winds about in the valleys and is said to be very good.

We preferred a more picturesque though less travelled route. We wished to go through Lenox, some six or seven miles to the south, and if anything a little to the west, and therefore out of our direct course.

The road from Pittsfield to Lenox is a famous drive, one of the wonders of that little world. It is not bad, neither is it good. Compared with the superb State road over the mountain, it is a trail over a prairie. As a matter of fact, it is just a broad, graded, and somewhat improved highway, too rough for fast speed and comfort, and on the Saturday morning in question dust was inches deep.

The day was fine, the country beautiful; hills everywhere, hills so high they were almost mountains. The dust of summer was on the foliage, a few late blossoms lingered by the roadside, but for the most part flowers had turned to seeds, and seeds were ready to fall. The fields were in stubble, hay in the mow and straw in the stack. The green of the hills was deeper in hue, the valleys were ripe for autumn.

People were flocking to the Berkshires from seashore and mountains; the "season" was about to begin in earnest; hotels were filled or rapidly filling, and Lenox - dear, peaceful little village in one of nature's fairest hollows - was most enticing as we passed slowly through, stopping once or twice to make sure of our very uncertain way.

The slowest automobile is too fast for so delightful a spot as Lenox. One should amble through on a palfrey, or walk, or, better still, pass not through at all, but tarry and dream the days away until the last leaves are off the trees. But the habit of the automobile is infectious, one goes on and on in spite of all attractions, the appeals of nature, the protests of friends. Ulysses should have whizzed by the Sirens in an auto. The Wandering Jew, if still on his rounds, should buy a machine; it will fit his case to a nicety; his punishment will become a habit; he will join an automobile club, go on an endurance contest, and, in the brief moments allowed him for rest and oiling up, will swap stories with the boys.

With a sigh of relief, one finishes a long day's run, thinking it will suffice for many a day to come; the evening is scarce over before elfin suggestions of possible rides for the morrow are floating about in the air, and when morning comes the automobile is taken out, - very much as the toper who has sworn off the night before takes his morning dram, - it just can't be helped.

Our way lay over October Mountain by a road not much frequented. In the morning's ride we did not meet a trap of any kind or a rider, - something quite unusual in that country of riders and drivers. The road seemed to cling to the highest hills, and we climbed up and up for hours. Only once was the grade so steep that we were obliged to dismount. We passed through no village until we reached the other side, but every now and then we would come to a little clearing with two or three houses, possibly a forlorn store and a silent blacksmith shop; these spots seemed even more lonely and deserted than the woods themselves. Man is so essentially a gregarious animal that to come upon a lone house in a wilderness is more depressing than the forests. Nature is never alone; it knows no solitude; it is a mighty whole, each part of which is in constant communication with every other part. Nature needs no telephone; from time immemorial it has used wireless telegraphy in a condition of perfection unknown to man. Every morning Mount Blanc sends a message to Pike's Peak, and it sends it on over the waters to Fujisan. The bosom of the earth thrills with nervous energy; the air is charged with electric force; the blue ether of the universe throbs with motion. Nature knows no environment; but man is fettered, a spirit in a cage, a mournful soul that seeks companionship in misery. Solitude is a word unknown to nature's vocabulary. The deepest recesses of the forest teem with life and joyousness until man appears, then they are filled with solitude. The wind-swept desert is one of nature's play-grounds until man appears, then it is barren with solitude. The darkest mountain cavern echoes with nature's laughter until man appears, then it is hollow with solitude. The shadow of man is solitude.

Instead of coming out at Becket as we expected, we found ourselves way down near Otis and West Otis, and passed through North Blandford and Blandford to Fairfield, where we struck the main road.

We stopped for dinner at a small village a few miles from Westfield. There was but one store, but it kept a barrel of stove gasoline in an apple orchard. The gasoline was good, but the gallon measure into which it was drawn had been used for oil, varnish, turpentine, and every liquid a country store is supposed to keep - not excepting molasses. It was crusted with sediment and had a most evil smell. Needless to say the measure was rejected; but that availed little, since the young clerk poured the gasoline back into the barrel to draw it out again into a cleaner receptacle.

The gasoline for sale at country stores is usually all right, but it is handled in all sorts of receptacles; the only safe way is to ask for a bright and new dipper and let the store-keeper guess at the measure.

At Westfield the spark began to give trouble; the machine was very slow in starting, as if the batteries were weak; but that could not be, for one set was fresh and the other by no means exhausted. A careful examination of every connection failed to disclose any breaks in the circuit, and yet the spark was of intermittent strength, - now good, now weak.

When there is anything wrong with an automobile, there is but one thing to do, and that is find the source of the trouble and remedy it. The temptation is to go on if the machine starts up unexpectedly. We yielded to the temptation, and went on as soon as the motor started; the day was so fine and we were so anxious to get to Worcester that we started with the motor, - knowing all the time that whatever made the motor slow to start would, in all likelihood, bring us to a stand-still before very long; the evil moment, possibly the evil hour, may be postponed, but seldom the evil day.

At two o'clock we passed through Springfield, stopping only a moment at the hotel to inquire for mail. Leaving Springfield we followed the main road towards Worcester, some fifty miles away. The road is winding and over a rolling country, but for the most part very good. The grades are not steep, there are some sandy spots, but none so soft as to materially interfere with good speed. There are many stretches of good gravel, and here and there a piece - a sample - of State road, perfectly laid macadam, with signs all along requesting persons not to drive in the centre of the highway, - this is to save the road from the hollows and ruts that horses and narrow-tired wagons invariably make, and in which the water stands, ultimately wearing the macadam through. We could not see that the slightest attention was paid to the notices. Everybody kept the middle of the road, such is the improvidence of men; the country people grumble at the great expense of good roads, and then take the surest way to ruin them.

While it is true that the people in the first instance grumble at the prospective cost of these well-made State roads, no sooner are they laid than their very great value is appreciated, and good roads sentiment becomes rampant. The farmer who has worn out horses, harness, wagons, and temper in getting light loads to market over heavy roads is quick to appreciate the very material advantage and economy of having highways over which one horse can pull as much as two under the old sandy, rough, and muddy conditions.

A good road may be the making of a town, and it increases the value of all abutting property. Already the question is commonly asked when a farm is offered for sale or rent, "Is it on a State road?" Lots will not sell in cities unless all improvements are in; soon farmers will not be able to sell unless the highways are improved.

One good thing about the automobile, it does not cut up the surface of a macadam or gravel road as do steel tires and horseshoes.

At the outskirts of the little village of West Brookfield we came to a stand-still; the spark disappeared, - or rather from a large, round, fat spark it dropped to an insignificant little blue sparklet that would not explode a squib.

The way the spark acted with either or both batteries on indicated pretty strongly that the trouble was in the coil; but it is so seldom a coil goes wrong that everything was looked over, but no spark of any size was to be had, therefore there was nothing to do but cast about for a place to spend the night, for it was then dark.

As good luck would have it, we were almost in front of a large, comfortable, old-fashioned house where they took summer boarders; as the season was drawing to a close, there was plenty of room and they were glad to take us in. The machine was pushed into a shed, everybody assisting with the readiness ever characteristic of sympathetic on-lookers.

The big, clean, white rooms were most inviting; the homely New England supper of cold meats and hot rolls seemed under the circumstances a feast for a king, and as we sat in front of the house in the evening, and looked across the highway to a little lake just beyond and heard the croaking of the frogs, the chirping of crickets, and the many indistinguishable sounds of night, we were not sorry the machine had played us false exactly when and where it did.

The automobile plays into the hands of Morpheus, the drowsy god follows in its wake, sure of his victims. No sleep is dreamless. It is pretty difficult to exhaust the three billions of cells of the central nervous system so that all require rest, but ten hours on an automobile in the open air, speeding along like the wind most of the time, will come nearer putting all those cells to sleep than any exercise heretofore discovered. The fatigue is normal, pervasive, and persuasive, and it is pretty hard to recall any dream on waking.

It was Sunday morning, September 1, and raining, a soft, drizzly downpour, that had evidently begun early in the night and kept up - or rather down - steadily. It was a good morning to remain indoors and read; but there was that tantalizing machine challenging combat; then, too, Worcester was but eighteen or twenty miles away, and at Worcester we expected to find letters and telegrams.

A young and clever electrician across the way came over, bringing an electric bell, with which we tested the dry cells, finding them in good condition. We then examined the connections and ran the trouble back to the coil. There was plenty of current and plenty of voltage, but only a little blue spark, which could be obtained equally well with the coil in or out of the circuit, and yet the coil did not show a short circuit, but before we finished our tests the spark suddenly appeared.

Again, it would have been better to remain and find the trouble; but as there was no extra coil to be had in the village, it seemed fairly prudent to start on and get as far as possible. Possibly the coil would hold out to Worcester; anyway, the road is a series of villages, some larger than Brookfield, and a coil might be found at one of them.

When within two miles of Spencer the spark gave out again; this time no amount of coaxing would bring it back, so there was nothing to do but appeal to a farmer for a pair of horses to pull the machine into his yard. The assistance was most kindly given, though the day was Sunday, and for him, his men and his animals, emphatically a day of rest.

Only twice on the entire trip were horses attached to the machine; but a sparking coil is absolutely essential, and when one gives out it is pretty hard to make repairs on the road. In case of necessity a coil may be unwound, the trouble discovered and remedied, but that is a tedious process. It was much easier to leave the machine for the night, run into Worcester on the trolley which passed along the same road, and bring out a new coil in the morning.

Monday happened to be Labor Day, and it was only after much trouble that a place was found open where electrical supplies could be purchased. In addition to a coil, the electrician took out some thoroughly insulated double cable wire; the wiring of the machine had been so carelessly done and with such light, cheap wire that it seemed a good opportunity to rewire throughout.

The electrician - a very competent and quick workman he proved to be - was so sure the trouble could not be in the coil that he did not wish to carry out a new one.

When ready to start, we found the trolley line blocked by a Labor Day parade that was just beginning to move. The procession was unusually long on account of striking trades unionists, who turned out in force. As each section of strikers passed, the electrician explained the cause of their strike, the number of men out, and the length of time they had been out.

It seemed too bad that big, brawny, intelligent men could find no better way of adjusting differences with employers than by striking.

A strike is an expensive luxury. Three parties are losers, - the community in general by being deprived for the time being of productive forces; the employers by loss on capital invested; the employees by loss of wages. The loss to the community, while very real, is little felt. Employers, as a rule, are prepared to stand their losses with equanimity; in fact, when trade is dull, or when an employer desires to make changes in his business, a strike is no inconvenience at all; but the men are the real losers, and especially those with families and with small homes unpaid for; no one can measure their losses, for it may mean the savings of a lifetime. It frequently does mean a change in character from an industrious, frugal, contented workman with everything to live for, to a shiftless and discontented man with nothing to live for but agitation and strife.

It is easy to acquire the strike habit, and impossible to throw it off. A first strike is more dangerous than a first drink; it makes a profound and ineradicable impression. To quit work for the first time at the command of some central organization is an experience so novel that no man can do it without being affected; he will never again be the same steady and indefatigable workman; the spirit of unrest creeps in, the spirit of discontent closely follows; his life is changed; though he never goes through another strike, he can never forget his first.

In the long run it does not matter much which side wins, the effect is very much the same, - strikes are bound to follow strikes. Warfare is so natural to men that it is difficult to declare a lasting peace. But some day the men themselves will see that strikes are far more disastrous to them than to any other class, and they will devise other ways and means; they will use the strength of their organizations to better advantage; above all, they will relegate to impotency the professional organizers and agitators who retain their positions by fomenting strife.

It is singular that workmen do not take a lesson from their shrewder employers, who, if they have organizations of their own, never confer upon any officer or committee of idlers the power to control the trade. An organization of employers is always controlled by those most actively engaged in the business, and not by coteries of paid idlers; no central committee of men, with nothing to do but make trouble, can involve a whole trade in costly controversies. The strength of the employer lies in the fact that each man consults first his own interest, and if the action of the body bids fair to injure his individual interests he not only protests, but threatens to withdraw; the employer cannot be cowed by any association of which he is a member; but the employee is cowed by his union, - that is the essential difference between the two. An association of employers is a union of independent and aggressive units, and the action of the association must meet the approval of each of these units or disruption will follow. Workingmen do not seem to appreciate the value of the unit; they are attracted by masses. They seem to think strength lies only in members; but that is the keynote of militantism, the death-knell of individualism. The real, the only strength of a union lies in the silent, unconsulted units; now and then they rise up and act and the union accomplishes something; for the most part they do not act, but are blindly led, and the union accomplishes nothing.

It was interesting to hear the comments of the intelligent young mechanic as the different trades passed by.

"Those fellows are out on a sympathetic strike; no grievance at all, plenty of work and good wages, but just out because they are told to come out; big fools, I say, to be pulled about by the nose.

"There are the plumbers; their union makes more trouble than any other in the building trades; they are always looking for trouble, and manage to find it when no one else can.

"Unions are all right for bachelors who can afford to loaf, but they are pretty hard on the married man with a family.

"What's gained in a strike is lost in the fight.

"What's the use of staying out three months to get a ten per cent. raise for nine? It doesn't pay.

"Wages have been going up for two hundred years. I can't see that the strike has advanced the rate of increase any.

"These fellows have tried to monopolize Labor Day; they don't want any non-union man in the parade; the people will not stand for that very long; labor is labor whether union or non-union, and the great majority of workingmen in this country are not members of any union."

The parade, like all things good, came to an end, and we took the trolley for the place where the automobile had been left.

On arriving we took out the dry cells, tested each one, and then rewired the carriage complete and in a manner to defy rain, sand, and oil. The difficulty, however, was in the coil. Apparently the motion of the vehicle had worn the insulation through at some point inside. The new coil, a common twelve-inch coil, worked well, giving a good, hot spark.

The farmer who had so kindly pulled the machine in the day before would accept nothing for his trouble, and was, as most farmers are, exceedingly kind. It is embarrassing to call upon strangers for assistance which means work and inconvenience for them, and then have them positively decline all compensation.

The ride into Worcester was a fast one over good gravel and macadam.

Immediately after luncheon we started for Boston. Every foot of the road in from Worcester is good hard gravel and the ride is most delightful. As it was a holiday and the highway was comparatively free of traffic, we travelled along faster than usual.

It was our intention to follow the main road through Shrewsbury, Southborough, Framingham, and Wellesley, but though man proposes, in the suburbs of Boston Providence disposes. About Southborough we lost our road, and were soon angling to the northeast through the Sudburys. So far as the road itself was concerned the change was for the better, for, while there would be stretches which were not gravelled, the country was more interesting than along the main highway.

The old "Worcester Turnpike" is Boyleston Street in Boston and through Brookline to the Newtons, where it becomes plain Worcester Street and bears that name westward through Wellesley and Natick.

The trolley line out of Worcester is through Shrewsbury and Northborough to Marlborough, then a turn almost due south to Southborough, then east to Framingham, southeast to South Framingham, east through Natick to Wellesley, northeast through Wellesley Hills to Newton, then direct through Brookline into Boston.

The road, it will be noted, is far from straight, and it is at the numerous forks and turns one is apt to go astray unless constant inquiries are made.

At Marlborough we kept on to the east towards Waltham instead of turning to the south for Southborough. It is but a few miles out of the way from Marlborough to Concord and into Boston by way of Lexington; or, if the road through Wellesley and Newton is followed, it is worth while to turn from Wellesley Hills to Norembega Park for the sake of stopping a few moments on the spot where Norembega Tower confidently proclaims the discovery of America and the founding of a fortified place by the Norsemen nearly five hundred years before Columbus sailed out of the harbor of Palos.

Having wandered from the old turnpike, we thought we would go by Concord and Lexington, but did not. The truth is the automobile is altogether too fast a conveyance for the suburbs of Boston, which were laid out by cows for the use of pedestrians. There are an infinite number of forks, angles, and turnings, and by a native on foot short cuts can be made to any objective point, but the automobile passes a byway before it is seen. Directions are given but not followed, because turns and obscure cross-roads are passed at high speed and unobserved.

Every one is most obliging in giving directions, but the directions run about like this:

"To Concord? - yes, - let me see; - do you know the Old Sudbury road? - No! - strangers? - ah! that's too bad, for if you don't know the roads it will be hard telling you - but let me see; - if you follow this road about a mile, you will come to a brick store and a watering trough, - take the turn to the left there; - I think that is the best road, or you can take a turn this side, but if I were you I would take the road at the watering trough; - from there it is about eight miles, and I think you make three turns, - but you better inquire, for if you don't know the roads it is pretty hard to direct you."

"We follow this road straight ahead to the brick store and trough, that's easy."

"Well, the road is not exactly straight, but if you bear to the right, then take the second left hand fork, you'll be all right."

All of which things we most faithfully performed, and yet we got no nearer that day than "about eight miles farther to Concord."

In circling about we came quite unexpectedly upon the old "Red Horse" tavern, now the "Wayside Inn." We brought the machine to a stop and gazed long and lovingly at the ancient hostelry which had given shelter to famous men for nearly two hundred years, and where congenial spirits gathered in Longfellow's days and the imaginary "Tales of a Wayside Inn" were exchanged.

The mellow light of the setting sun warmed the time-worn structure with a friendly glow. The sign of the red horse rampant creaked mournfully as it swung slowly to and fro in the gentle breeze; with palsied arms and in cracked tones the old inn seemed to bid us stay and rest beneath its sheltering eaves. Washington and Hamilton and Lafayette, Emerson and Hawthorne and Longfellow had entered that door, eaten and drunk within those humble walls, - the great in war, statecraft, and literature had been its guests; like an old man it lives with its memories, recalls the associations of its youth and prime, but slumbers oblivious to the present.

The old inn was so fascinating that we determined to come back in a few days and spend at least a night beneath its roof. The shadows were so rapidly lengthening that we had to hurry on.

Crossing the Charles River near Auburndale a sight of such bewitching beauty met our astonished gaze that we stopped to make inquiries. Above and below the bridge the river was covered with gayly decorated canoes which were being paddled about by laughing and singing young people. The brilliant colors of the decorations, the pretty costumes, the background of dark water, the shores lined with people and equipages, the bridge so crowded we could hardly get through, made a never-to-be-forgotten picture. It was just a holiday canoe-meet, and hundreds of the small, frail craft were darting about upon the surface of the water like so many pretty dragon-flies. The automobile seemed such an intrusion, a drone of prose in a burst of poetry, the discord of machinery in a sylvan symphony.

We stopped a few moments at Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, where old associations were revived by my Companion over a cup of tea. A girl's school is a mysterious place; there is an atmosphere of suppressed mischief, of things threatened but never quite committed, of latent possibilities, and still more latent impossibilities. In a boy's school mischief is evident and rampant; desks, benches, and walls are whittled and defaced with all the wanton destructiveness of youth; buildings and fences show marks of contact with budding manhood; but boys are so openly and notoriously mischievous that no apprehension is felt, for the worst is ever realized; but those in command of a school of demure and saintly girls must feel like men handling dynamite, uncertain what will happen next; the stolen pie, the hidden sweets, the furtive note are indications of the infinite subtlety of the female mind.

From Auburndale the boulevard leads into Commonwealth Avenue and the run is fine.

It was about seven o'clock when we reached the Hotel Touraine, and a little later when the machine was safely housed in an automobile station, - a part of an old railway depot.

A few days in Boston and on the North Shore afforded a welcome change.

Through Beverly and Manchester the signs "Automobiles not allowed" at private roadways are numerous; they are the rule rather than the exception. One young man had a machine up there, but found himself so ostracized he shipped it away. No machines are allowed on the grounds of the Essex Country Club.

No man with the slightest consideration for the comfort and pleasure of others would care to keep and use a machine in places where so many women and children are riding and driving. The charm of the North Shore and the Berkshires lies largely in the opportunities afforded for children to be out with their ponies, girls with their carts, and women with horses too spirited to stand unusual sights and sounds. One automobile may terrorize the entire little community; in fact, one machine will spread terror where many would not.

It is quite difficult enough to drive a machine carefully through such resorts, without driving about day after day to the discomfort of every resident.

In a year or two all will be changed; the people owning summer homes will themselves own and use automobiles; the horses will see so many that little notice will be taken, but the pioneers of the sport will have an unenviable time.

A good half-day's work was required on the machine before starting again.

The tire that had been plugged with rubber bands weeks before in Indiana was now leaking, the air creeping through the fabric and oozing out at several places. The leak was not bad, just about enough to require pumping every day.

The extra tire that had been following along was taken out of the express office and put on. It was a tire that had been punctured and repaired at the factory. It looked all right, but as it turned out the repair was poorly made, and it would have been better to leave on the old tire, inflating it each day.

A small needle-valve was worn so that it leaked; that was replaced. A stiffer spring was inserted in the intake-valve so it would not open quite so easily. A number of minor things were done, and every nut and bolt tried and tightened.