Motors and Mules.
The New York Times
March 25, 1905
THE PRINCESS PASSES. A Romance of a Motor Car. By C. N. and A. M. Williamson. Illustrated. 12mo. Pp. 369. New York: Henry Holt & Co. $1.50
THE LIGHTNING CONDUCTOR The Strange Adventures of a Motor Car. Edited by C. N. and A. M. Williamson. Revised, enlarged, and illustrated. 12mo. Pp. 344. New York: Henry Holt & Co. $1.50
Without a doubt the motor car is the most picturesque, energetic, and altogether fascinating stage property of modern fiction. Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, (whose very delightful and successful "Lightning Conductor" is just reissued with illustrations.) have written another story after much the same pattern as the other. There are, however, variations. In the new story not only motors but mules and donkeys serve the ends of the little god, and the Dolly and Jack of the "Lightning Conductor" are transformed into matchmakers. Being safely married, what else is left for them? It's this way. Montagu Lane, who is by way of being a belted Earl, though not opulent, has been most outrageously jilted by a girl who isn't nice at all-though he thinks so. Dolly has a friend, an American girl, disgustingly rich, who is in the lowest possible spirits because she thinks nobody will ever love her for herself alone. She hates men, and is touring Switzerland with donkeys. Wherefore Dolly snatches up Lord Lane, stows him in her motor car, whisks him across France with fearful celerity, and sets him also down in Switzerland, ostensibly to climb mountains with only a pack mule and a muleteer for company.
Perusing this programme (after a deuce of a time finding a mule) Lord Lane has adventures. Particularly he finds at the inn called "Au Dejeuner de Napoléon"-because the great Emperor once breakfasted there-a table spread with "food fit for the gods, and only a boy to eat it." However, it's not an ordinary boy. It's pretty enough to be a girl, and is accompanied by a female guide and two donkeys. Lord Lane and the boy become companions and friends in the wilderness, and the youngster develops an astonishing number of insidious charms-charms you'd say were womanlike. He explains that he is an American boy, and that American boys "are different." The Englishman accepts the explanation. The reader will not, perhaps.
Among many good things in the story are three: A wild dash over the St. Gothard pass by night in a motor car, and in defiance of law a duel (in which the boy is principal) upon an improved plan, and Lord Lane's muleteer. This last, who has little English, is brave nevertheless with what he has. He describes a precipice as a place where rocks "go down immediately, not by and by," and he has formed opinions about certain British statesmen who flourished twenty years ago. Here's a bit of his talk with Lane.
The Lord Beaconsfield par example he would not have enjoyed to come such a tour like this, that will take you high in icy mountains. He would want the sunshine and sitting still in a beautiful chaise with people to listen while he talked, but Monsieur Gladstone, I think, would love the mountains with the snow as if they were his brothers.
"You are right," I said. "They were his brothers. One can fancy edelweiss growing freely on Mr. Gladstone."
The title has nother whatever to do with the story, and several of the pictures are excellent.
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