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   Chapter 5 AS TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PASSPORT

In Pastures New By George Ade Characters: 9079

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


AND THE HANDY LITTLE CABLE CODE

Advice to those following along behind. Stock up on heavy flannels and do not bother about a passport.

Before we became old and hardened travellers we were led to believe that any American who appeared at a frontier without a passport would be hurried to a dungeon or else marched in the snow all the way to Siberia.

When I first visited the eastern hemisphere (I do love to recall the fact that I have been over here before), our little company of travellers prepared for European experiences by reading a small handbook of advice. The topics were arranged alphabetically, and the specific information set out under each heading was more valuable and impressive at the beginning of the trip than it was after we had come home and read it in the cold light of experience. We paid particular heed to the following:

"PASSPORTS-Every American travelling in Europe should carry a passport. At many frontiers a passport, properly 'vised,' must be shown before the traveller will be allowed to enter the country. A passport is always valuable as an identification when money is to be drawn on a letter of credit. Very often it will secure for the bearer admission to palaces, galleries and other show places which are closed to the general public. It is the most ready answer to any police inquiry, and will serve as a letter of introduction to all consular offices."

We read the foregoing and sent for passports before we bought our steamship tickets.

I have been a notary public; I have graduated from a highschool; I have taken out accident insurance, and once, in a careless moment, I purchased one thousand shares of mining stock. In each instance I received a work of art on parchment-something bold and black and Gothic, garnished with gold seals and curly-cues. But for splendour of composition and majesty of design, the passport makes all other important documents seem pale and pointless. There is an American eagle at the top, with his trousers turned up, and beneath is a bold pronouncement to the world in general that the bearer is an American citizen, entitled to everything that he can afford to buy. No man can read his own passport without being more or less stuck on himself. I never had a chance to use the one given to me years ago, but I still keep it and read it once in a while to bolster up my self-respect.

When we first landed at Liverpool each man had his passport in his inside coat pocket within easy reach, so that in case of an insult or an impertinent question he could flash it forth and say: "Stand back! I am an American citizen!" After a week in London we went to the bank to draw some more money. The first man handed in his letter of credit and said: "If necessary, I have a pass--"

Before he could say any more the cashier reached out a little scoop shovel loaded with sovereigns and said: "Twenty pounds, sir."

We never could find a banker who wanted to look at our passports or who could be induced to take so much as a glance at them. I said to one banker: "We have our passports in case you require any identification." He said: "Rully, it isn't necessary, you know. I am quite sure that you are from Chicago."

We couldn't determine whether this was sheer courtesy on his part or whether we were different.

After we were on the continent we hoped that some policeman would come to the hotel and investigate us, so that we could smile coolly and say: "Look at that," at the same time handing him the blue envelope. Then to note his dismay and to have him apologise and back out. But the police never learned that we were in town.

As for the art galleries and palaces, we had believed the handbook. We fancied that some day or other one of us would approach the entrance to a palace and that a gendarme would step out and say: "Pardon, monsieur, but the palace is closed to all visitors to-day."

"To most visitors, you mean."

"To all, monsieur."

"I think not, do you know who I am?"

"No, monsieur."

"Then don't say a word about anything being closed until you find out. I am an American. Here is my passport. Fling open the doors!"

At which the gendarme would prostrate himself and the American would pass in, while a large body of English, French and German tourists would stand outside and envy him.

Alas, it was a day-dream. Every palace that was closed seemed to be really closed, and when we did find the gendarme who was to be humiliated, we discovered that we couldn't speak his language, and, besides, we f

elt so humble in his presence that we wouldn't have ventured to talk to him under any circumstances.

We travelled in England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, crossing and recrossing frontiers, and we never encountered a man, woman or child who would consent to look at our passports.

On the other hand, the cable code is something that no tourist should be without. Whenever he is feeling blue or downcast he can open the code book and get a few hearty laughs. Suppose he wishes to send a message to his brother in Toledo. The code permits him to concentrate his message into the tabloid form and put a long newsy letter into two or three words. He opens the blue book and finds that he can send any of the following tidings to Toledo:

Adjunctio-Apartments required are engaged and will be ready for occupation on Wednesday.

Amalior-Bills of lading have not been endorsed.

Animatio-Twins, boy and girl, all well.

Collaria-Received invitation to dinner and theatre, Illaqueo-Have a fly at the station to meet train arriving at eight o'clock.

Napina-Machinery out of order. Delay will be great.

Remissus-Can you obtain good security?

And so on, page after page. Theoretically, this vest pocket volume is a valuable helpmate, but when Mr. Peasley wanted to cable Iowa to have his Masonic dues paid and let Bill Levison take the river farm for another year and try to collect the money from Joe Spillers, the code book did not seem to have the proper equivalents.

We had with us on the boat an American who carried a very elaborate code book. All the way up from Plymouth to London he was working on a cablegram to his wife. When he turned it over to the operator, this is the joyous message that went singing through the water back to New York:

"LIZCAM, New York. Hobgoblin buckwheat explosion manifold cranberry suspicious.

"JAMES."

He showed us a copy and seemed to be very proud of it.

"That's what you save by having a code," he explained.

"What will Lizcam think when he receives that?"

"He? That's my wife's registered cable address. 'Liz' for Lizzie and 'Cam' for Campbell. Her maiden name was Lizzie Campbell."

"Well, what does that mean about a buckwheat hobgoblin having a suspicious explosion?"

"Oh, those words are selected arbitrarily to represent full sentences in the code. When my wife gets that cable she will look up those words one after the other and elaborate the message so that it will read like this:

He showed us the following:

"Mrs. Chauncey Cupple, Mount Joy Hotel, New York--Dear Wife: Well, here we are at London, after a very pleasant voyage, all things considered. We had only two days of inclement weather and I was not seasick at any time. We saw a great many porpoises, but no whales. The third day out I won the pool on the run. Formed the acquaintance of several pleasant people. (Signed) James."

"It's just as good as a letter," said the man from Buffalo.

"Yes, and I save fifty-eight words," said Cupple. "I wouldn't travel without a code."

"Why don't you tack on another word and let her know how many knots we made each day?" asked the Buffalo man, but his sarcasm was wasted.

A week later I met Mr. Cupple and he said that the cablegram had given his wife nervous prostration.

Mr. Cupple is not a careful penman and the cable operator had read the last word of the message as "auspicious" instead of "suspicious." A reference to the code showed that the mistake changed the sense of the message.

"Suspicious-Formed the acquaintance of several pleasant people.

"Auspicious-After a futile effort to work the pumps the captain gave orders to lower the boats. The passengers were in a panic, but the captain coolly restrained them and gave orders that the women and children should be sent away first."

The message, as altered in transmission, caused Mrs. Cupple some uneasiness, and, also, it puzzled her. It was gratifying to know that her husband had enjoyed the voyage and escaped seasickness, but she did not like to leave him on the deck of the ship with a lot of women and children stepping up to take the best places in the boat. Yet she could not believe that he had been lost, otherwise, how could he have filed a cablegram at London?

She wanted further particulars, but she could not find in the code any word meaning "Are you drowned?"

So she sent a forty-word inquiry to London, and when Mr. Cupple counted the cost of it he cabled back:

"All right. Ignore code."

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