XLII

I had now the whole south of France, from the banks of the Rhône to those of the Garonne, to traverse upon my mule at my own leisure⁠—at my own leisure⁠⸺⁠for I had left Death, the Lord knows⁠⸺⁠and He only⁠—how far behind me⁠⸺“I have followed many a man thro’ France, quoth he⁠—but never at this mettlesome rate.”⁠⸺⁠Still he followed,⁠⸺⁠and still I fled him⁠⸺⁠but I fled him cheerfully⁠⸺⁠still he pursued⁠⸺⁠but, like one who pursued his prey without hope⁠⸺⁠as he lagg’d, every step he lost, soften’d his looks⁠⸺⁠why should I fly him at this rate?

So notwithstanding all the commissary of the post-office had said, I changed the mode of my travelling once more; and, after so precipitate and rattling a course as I had run, I flattered my fancy with thinking of my mule, and that I should traverse the rich plains of Languedoc upon his back, as slowly as foot could fall.

There is nothing more pleasing to a traveller⁠⸺⁠or more terrible to travel-writers, than a large rich plain; especially if it is without great rivers or bridges; and presents nothing to the eye, but one unvaried picture of plenty: for after they have once told you, that ’tis delicious! or delightful! (as the case happens)⁠—that the soil was grateful, and that nature pours out all her abundance, etc⁠ ⁠… they have then a large plain upon their hands, which they know not what to do with⁠—and which is of little or no use to them but to carry them to some town; and that town, perhaps of little more, but a new place to start from to the next plain⁠⸺⁠and so on.

—This is most terrible work; judge if I don’t manage my plains better.