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Home -> Jerome K. Jerome -> Three Men on the Bummel -> Chapter 10

Three Men on the Bummel - Chapter 10

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14


Baden from the visitor's point of view--Beauty of the early
morning, as viewed from the preceding afternoon--Distance, as
measured by the compass--Ditto, as measured by the leg--George in
account with his conscience--A lazy machine--Bicycling, according
to the poster: its restfulness--The poster cyclist: its costume;
its method--The griffin as a household pet--A dog with proper self-
respect--The horse that was abused.

From Baden, about which it need only be said that it is a pleasure
resort singularly like other pleasure resorts of the same
description, we started bicycling in earnest. We planned a ten
days' tour, which, while completing the Black Forest, should
include a spin down the Donau-Thal, which for the twenty miles from
Tuttlingen to Sigmaringen is, perhaps, the finest valley in
Germany; the Danube stream here winding its narrow way past old-
world unspoilt villages; past ancient monasteries, nestling in
green pastures, where still the bare-footed and bare-headed friar,
his rope girdle tight about his loins, shepherds, with crook in
hand, his sheep upon the hill sides; through rocky woods; between
sheer walls of cliff, whose every towering crag stands crowned with
ruined fortress, church, or castle; together with a blick at the
Vosges mountains, where half the population is bitterly pained if
you speak to them in French, the other half being insulted when you
address them in German, and the whole indignantly contemptuous at
the first sound of English; a state of things that renders
conversation with the stranger somewhat nervous work.

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.

"Oh, undoubtedly."

"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

The voice of Virtue protests, faintly: "It will be breaking our

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

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

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

"Well, I suppose we ought to be getting on."

"Oh, there's no hurry! don't fuss. Lovely view from here, isn't

"Very. Don't forget we are twenty-five miles from St. Blasien."

"How far?"

"Twenty-five miles, a little over if anything."

"Do you mean to say we have only come thirty-five miles?"

"That's all."

"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

"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

"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?"

"Five miles."

General chorus: "We'll stop at Titisee."

George made discovery of this difference between theory and
practice on the very first day of our ride.

"I thought," said George--he was riding the single, Harris and I
being a little ahead on the tandem--"that the idea was to train up
the hills and ride down them."

"So it is," answered Harris, "as a general rule. But the trains
don't go up EVERY hill in the Black Forest."

"Somehow, I felt a suspicion that they wouldn't," growled George;
and for awhile silence reigned.

"Besides," remarked Harris, who had evidently been ruminating the
subject, "you would not wish to have nothing but downhill, surely.
It would not be playing the game. One must take a little rough
with one's smooth."

Again there returned silence, broken after awhile by George, this

"Don't you two fellows over-exert yourselves merely on my account,"
said George.

"How do you mean?" asked Harris.

"I mean," answered George, "that where a train does happen to be
going up these hills, don't you put aside the idea of taking it for
fear of outraging my finer feelings. Personally, I am prepared to
go up all these hills in a railway train, even if it's not playing
the game. I'll square the thing with my conscience; I've been up
at seven every day for a week now, and I calculate it owes me a
bit. Don't you consider me in the matter at all."

We promised to bear this in mind, and again the ride continued in
dogged dumbness, until it was again broken by George.

"What bicycle did you say this was of yours?" asked George.

Harris told him. I forget of what particular manufacture it
happened to be; it is immaterial.

"Are you sure?" persisted George.

"Of course I am sure," answered Harris. "Why, what's the matter
with it?"

"Well, it doesn't come up to the poster," said George, "that's

"What poster?" asked Harris.

"The poster advertising this particular brand of cycle," explained
George. "I was looking at one on a hoarding in Sloane Street only
a day or two before we started. A man was riding this make of
machine, a man with a banner in his hand: he wasn't doing any
work, that was clear as daylight; he was just sitting on the thing
and drinking in the air. The cycle was going of its own accord,
and going well. This thing of yours leaves all the work to me. It
is a lazy brute of a machine; if you don't shove, it simply does
nothing: I should complain about it, if I were you."

When one comes to think of it, few bicycles do realise the poster.
On only one poster that I can recollect have I seen the rider
represented as doing any work. But then this man was being pursued
by a bull. In ordinary cases the object of the artist is to
convince the hesitating neophyte that the sport of bicycling
consists in sitting on a luxurious saddle, and being moved rapidly
in the direction you wish to go by unseen heavenly powers.

Generally speaking, the rider is a lady, and then one feels that,
for perfect bodily rest combined with entire freedom from mental
anxiety, slumber upon a water-bed cannot compare with bicycle-
riding upon a hilly road. No fairy travelling on a summer cloud
could take things more easily than does the bicycle girl, according
to the poster. Her costume for cycling in hot weather is ideal.
Old-fashioned landladies might refuse her lunch, it is true; and a
narrowminded police force might desire to secure her, and wrap her
in a rug preliminary to summonsing her. But such she heeds not.
Uphill and downhill, through traffic that might tax the ingenuity
of a cat, over road surfaces calculated to break the average steam
roller she passes, a vision of idle loveliness; her fair hair
streaming to the wind, her sylph-like form poised airily, one foot
upon the saddle, the other resting lightly upon the lamp.
Sometimes she condescends to sit down on the saddle; then she puts
her feet on the rests, lights a cigarette, and waves above her head
a Chinese lantern.

Less often, it is a mere male thing that rides the machine. He is
not so accomplished an acrobat as is the lady; but simple tricks,
such as standing on the saddle and waving flags, drinking beer or
beef-tea while riding, he can and does perform. Something, one
supposes, he must do to occupy his mind: sitting still hour after
hour on this machine, having no work to do, nothing to think about,
must pall upon any man of active temperament. Thus it is that we
see him rising on his pedals as he nears the top of some high hill
to apostrophise the sun, or address poetry to the surrounding

Occasionally the poster pictures a pair of cyclists; and then one
grasps the fact how much superior for purposes of flirtation is the
modern bicycle to the old-fashioned parlour or the played-out
garden gate. He and she mount their bicycles, being careful, of
course, that such are of the right make. After that they have
nothing to think about but the old sweet tale. Down shady lanes,
through busy towns on market days, merrily roll the wheels of the
"Bermondsey Company's Bottom Bracket Britain's Best," or of the
"Camberwell Company's Jointless Eureka." They need no pedalling;
they require no guiding. Give them their heads, and tell them what
time you want to get home, and that is all they ask. While Edwin
leans from his saddle to whisper the dear old nothings in
Angelina's ear, while Angelina's face, to hide its blushes, is
turned towards the horizon at the back, the magic bicycles pursue
their even course.

And the sun is always shining and the roads are always dry. No
stern parent rides behind, no interfering aunt beside, no demon
small boy brother is peeping round the corner, there never comes a
skid. Ah me! Why were there no "Britain's Best" nor "Camberwell
Eurekas" to be hired when WE were young?

Or maybe the "Britain's Best" or the "Camberwell Eureka" stands
leaning against a gate; maybe it is tired. It has worked hard all
the afternoon, carrying these young people. Mercifully minded,
they have dismounted, to give the machine a rest. They sit upon
the grass beneath the shade of graceful boughs; it is long and dry
grass. A stream flows by their feet. All is rest and peace.

That is ever the idea the cycle poster artist sets himself to
convey--rest and peace.

But I am wrong in saying that no cyclist, according to the poster,
ever works. Now I come to reflect, I have seen posters
representing gentlemen on cycles working very hard--over-working
themselves, one might almost say. They are thin and haggard with
the toil, the perspiration stands upon their brow in beads; you
feel that if there is another hill beyond the poster they must
either get off or die. But this is the result of their own folly.
This happens because they will persist in riding a machine of an
inferior make. Were they riding a "Putney Popular" or "Battersea
Bounder," such as the sensible young man in the centre of the
poster rides, then all this unnecessary labour would be saved to
them. Then all required of them would be, as in gratitude bound,
to look happy; perhaps, occasionally to back-pedal a little when
the machine in its youthful buoyancy loses its head for a moment
and dashes on too swiftly.

You tired young men, sitting dejectedly on milestones, too spent to
heed the steady rain that soaks you through; you weary maidens,
with the straight, damp hair, anxious about the time, longing to
swear, not knowing how; you stout bald men, vanishing visibly as
you pant and grunt along the endless road; you purple, dejected
matrons, plying with pain the slow unwilling wheel; why did you not
see to it that you bought a "Britain's Best" or a "Camberwell
Eureka"? Why are these bicycles of inferior make so prevalent
throughout the land

Or is it with bicycling as with all other things: does Life at no
point realise the Poster?

The one thing in Germany that never fails to charm and fascinate me
is the German dog. In England one grows tired of the old breeds,
one knows them all so well: the mastiff, the plum-pudding dog, the
terrier (black, white or rough-haired, as the case may be, but
always quarrelsome), the collie, the bulldog; never anything new.
Now in Germany you get variety. You come across dogs the like of
which you have never seen before: that until you hear them bark
you do not know are dogs. It is all so fresh, so interesting.
George stopped a dog in Sigmaringen and drew our attention to it.
It suggested a cross between a codfish and a poodle. I would not
like to be positive it was NOT a cross between a codfish and a
poodle. Harris tried to photograph it, but it ran up a fence and
disappeared through some bushes.

I do not know what the German breeder's idea is; at present he
retains his secret. George suggests he is aiming at a griffin.
There is much to bear out this theory, and indeed in one or two
cases I have come across success on these lines would seem to have
been almost achieved. Yet I cannot bring myself to believe that
such are anything more than mere accidents. The German is
practical, and I fail to see the object of a griffin. If mere
quaintness of design be desired, is there not already the
Dachshund! What more is needed? Besides, about a house, a griffin
would be so inconvenient: people would be continually treading on
its tail. My own idea is that what the Germans are trying for is a
mermaid, which they will then train to catch fish.

For your German does not encourage laziness in any living thing.
He likes to see his dogs work, and the German dog loves work; of
that there can be no doubt. The life of the English dog must be a
misery to him. Imagine a strong, active, and intelligent being, of
exceptionally energetic temperament, condemned to spend twenty-four
hours a day in absolute idleness! How would you like it yourself?
No wonder he feels misunderstood, yearns for the unattainable, and
gets himself into trouble generally.

Now the German dog, on the other hand, has plenty to occupy his
mind. He is busy and important. Watch him as he walks along
harnessed to his milk cart. No churchwarden at collection time
could feel or look more pleased with himself. He does not do any
real work; the human being does the pushing, he does the barking;
that is his idea of division of labour. What he says to himself

"The old man can't bark, but he can shove. Very well."

The interest and the pride he takes in the business is quite
beautiful to see. Another dog passing by makes, maybe, some
jeering remark, casting discredit upon the creaminess of the milk.
He stops suddenly, quite regardless of the traffic.

"I beg your pardon, what was that you said about our milk?"

"I said nothing about your milk," retorts the other dog, in a tone
of gentle innocence. "I merely said it was a fine day, and asked
the price of chalk."

"Oh, you asked the price of chalk, did you? Would you like to

"Yes, thanks; somehow I thought you would be able to tell me."

"You are quite right, I can. It's worth--"

"Oh, do come along!" says the old lady, who is tired and hot, and
anxious to finish her round.

"Yes, but hang it all; did you hear what he hinted about our milk?"

"Oh, never mind him! There's a tram coming round the corner: we
shall all get run over."

"Yes, but I do mind him; one has one's proper pride. He asked the
price of chalk, and he's going to know it! It's worth just twenty
times as much--"

"You'll have the whole thing over, I know you will," cries the old
lady, pathetically, struggling with all her feeble strength to haul
him back. "Oh dear, oh dear! I do wish I had left you at home."

The tram is bearing down upon them; a cab-driver is shouting at
them; another huge brute, hoping to be in time to take a hand, is
dragging a bread cart, followed by a screaming child, across the
road from the opposite side; a small crowd is collecting; and a
policeman is hastening to the scene.

"It's worth," says the milk dog, "just twenty-times as much as
you'll be worth before I've done with you."

"Oh, you think so, do you?"

"Yes, I do, you grandson of a French poodle, you cabbage-eating--"

"There! I knew you'd have it over," says the poor milk-woman. "I
told him he'd have it over."

But he is busy, and heeds her not. Five minutes later, when the
traffic is renewed, when the bread girl has collected her muddy
rolls, and the policeman has gone off with the name and address of
everybody in the street, he consents to look behind him.

"It IS a bit of an upset," he admits. Then shaking himself free of
care, he adds, cheerfully, "But I guess I taught him the price of
chalk. He won't interfere with us again, I'm thinking."

"I'm sure I hope not," says the old lady, regarding dejectedly the
milky road.

But his favourite sport is to wait at the top of the hill for
another dog, and then race down. On these occasions the chief
occupation of the other fellow is to run about behind, picking up
the scattered articles, loaves, cabbages, or shirts, as they are
jerked out. At the bottom of the hill, he stops and waits for his

"Good race, wasn't it?" he remarks, panting, as the Human comes up,
laden to the chin. "I believe I'd have won it, too, if it hadn't
been for that fool of a small boy. He was right in my way just as
I turned the corner. YOU NOTICED HIM? Wish I had, beastly brat!
What's he yelling like that for? BECAUSE I KNOCKED HIM DOWN AND
RAN OVER HIM? Well, why didn't he get out of the way? It's
disgraceful, the way people leave their children about for other
people to tumble over. Halloa! did all those things come out? You
couldn't have packed them very carefully; you should see to a thing
MILES AN HOUR? Surely, you knew me better than to expect I'd let
that old Schneider's dog pass me without an effort. But there, you
never think. You're sure you've got them all? YOU BELIEVE SO? I
shouldn't 'believe' if I were you; I should run back up the hill
again and make sure. YOU FEEL TOO TIRED? Oh, all right! don't
blame me if anything is missing, that's all."

He is so self-willed. He is cock-sure that the correct turning is
the second on the right, and nothing will persuade him that it is
the third. He is positive he can get across the road in time, and
will not be convinced until he sees the cart smashed up. Then he
is very apologetic, it is true. But of what use is that? As he is
usually of the size and strength of a young bull, and his human
companion is generally a weak-kneed old man or woman, or a small
child, he has his way. The greatest punishment his proprietor can
inflict upon him is to leave him at home, and take the cart out
alone. But your German is too kind-hearted to do this often.

That he is harnessed to the cart for anybody's pleasure but his own
it is impossible to believe; and I am confident that the German
peasant plans the tiny harness and fashions the little cart purely
with the hope of gratifying his dog. In other countries--in
Belgium, Holland and France--I have seen these draught dogs ill-
treated and over-worked; but in Germany, never. Germans abuse
animals shockingly. I have seen a German stand in front of his
horse and call it every name he could lay his tongue to. But the
horse did not mind it. I have seen a German, weary with abusing
his horse, call to his wife to come out and assist him. When she
came, he told her what the horse had done. The recital roused the
woman's temper to almost equal heat with his own; and standing one
each side of the poor beast, they both abused it. They abused its
dead mother, they insulted its father; they made cutting remarks
about its personal appearance, its intelligence, its moral sense,
its general ability as a horse. The animal bore the torrent with
exemplary patience for awhile; then it did the best thing possible
to do under the circumstances. Without losing its own temper, it
moved quietly away. The lady returned to her washing, and the man
followed it up the street, still abusing it.

A kinder-hearted people than the Germans there is no need for.
Cruelty to animal or child is a thing almost unknown in the land.
The whip with them is a musical instrument; its crack is heard from
morning to night, but an Italian coachman that in the streets of
Dresden I once saw use it was very nearly lynched by the indignant
crowd. Germany is the only country in Europe where the traveller
can settle himself comfortably in his hired carriage, confident
that his gentle, willing friend between the shafts will be neither
over-worked nor cruelly treated.

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