Helen and Margaret go backpacking!

Or something. I’m dying to know what. I was intrigued by this passage from Howards End, spoken by Margaret to Henry Wilcox:

“Some ladies do without hotels. Are you aware that Helen and I have walked alone over the Apennines, with our luggage on our backs?”

But, alas, she gives no more details. Henry cuts her off with an assertion that she will never do such a thing again. I really want to know, though, what their trip was like. How far did they walk? How did they carry their luggage? Where and how did they sleep?

And, of course, Leonard Bast does his famous night walk. The walk that shows he has some kind of deep, romantic sensibility, in spite of his lower class origins. I’ve never walked the entire night, but I have gone hiking by moonlight once. It was beautiful, but frightening. Much better to walk without my flashlight on, and just let my eyes adjust to the dark; otherwise I was shutting myself off from the night rather than experiencing it.

I like what Leonard has to say about his experience:

“I’m glad I did it, and yet at the time it bored me more than I can say. And besides — you can believe me or not as you choose — I was very hungry. That dinner at Wimbledon — I meant it to last me all night like other dinners. I never thought that walking would make such a difference. Why, when you’re walking you want, as it were, a breakfast and luncheon and tea during the night as well, and I had nothing but a packet of Woodbines. Lord, did I feel it bad! Looking back, it wasn’t what you may call enjoyment. It was more a case of sticking to it. I did stick I — I was determined. Oh, hang it all! What’s the good — I mean, the good of living in a room for ever? There one goes on day after day, same old game, same up and down to town, until you forget there is any other game. You ought to see once in a while what’s going on outside, if it’s only nothing particular after all.”

Exactly. He gets it exactly — the boredom, the hunger, the determination, the needing to get out even if nothing happens, and being glad you did it in spite of everything.

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