A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 1, page 2 of 4)

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Chapter 1

I was beginning to move more rapidly along the little path, well worn
by many rubber tires, which edged the broad roadway, when I perceived
the doctor's daughter standing at the gate of her father's front yard.
As I knew her very well, and she happened to be standing there and
looking in my direction, I felt that it would be the proper thing for
me to stop and speak to her, and so I dismounted and proceeded to roll
my bicycle up to the gate.

As the doctor's daughter stood looking over the gate, her hands
clasped the tops of the two central pickets.

"Good-morning," said she. "I suppose, from your carrying baggage,
that you are starting off for your vacation. How far do you expect to
go on your wheel, and do you travel alone?"

"My only plan," I answered, "is to ride over the hills and far away!
How far I really do not know; and I shall be alone except for this
good companion." And as I said this I patted the handle-bar of my

"Your wheel does seem to be a sort of a companion," she said; "not so
good as a horse, but better than nothing. I should think, travelling
all by yourself in this way, you would have quite a friendly feeling
for it. Did you ever think of giving it a name?"

"Oh yes," said I. "I have named it. I call it a 'Bicycle of Cathay.'"

"Is there any sense in such a name?" she asked. "It is like part of a
quotation from Tennyson, isn't it? I forget the first of it."

"You are right," I said. "'Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle
of Cathay.' I cannot tell you exactly why, but that seems to suggest a
good name for a bicycle."

"But your machine has two wheels," said she. "Therefore you ought to
say, 'Better one hundred years of Europe than two cycles of Cathay.'"

"I bow to custom," said I. "Every one speaks of a bicycle as a wheel,
and I shall not introduce the plural into the name of my good steed."

"And you don't know where your Cathay is to be?" she asked.

I smiled and shook my head. "No," I answered, "but I hope my cycle
will carry me safely through it."

The doctor's daughter looked past me across the road. "I wish I were a
man," said she, "and could go off as I pleased, as you do! It must be
delightfully independent."

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