The racetrack at Ach�res slid by the window of the Paris-Cherbourg Express, and the nice lady kept right on talking. "Oh, yes, you've made a very wise decision," she said. "By the time you get to New York you'll be a new man."
"Is it true they've got all kinds of fun and games on board?" my wife asked.
"Oh, my, yes," said the nice lady, "and I should know. This is my 114th crossing. They've got horse racing and deck tennis and shuffleboard and bridge and swimming and bingo and that shooting thing with the clay targets—"
"Skeet?" I said.
"Skeet, yes. And Ping-Pong and guessing games and who knows what all. And the purser's always arranging tournaments and giving prizes. It's a gay old time."
"Well," my wife said, "we've decided to rest and take it easy on this trip. That's why we're going by ship instead of plane."
"That's right," I said. "No pressures. Just take it easy."
No pressures. We were going to cross the Atlantic in midwinter, from Cherbourg to New York, on R.M.S.
and, according to my friends back home, it would be the smartest move ever. For years now I had been winging around the world changing time zones like socks, not knowing whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday or whether I should order the couscous, entrec�tes or saltimbocca, and it had begun to upset my mental equilibrium, always shaky at best. "Pardonnez-moi," I would say to a waiter in Panama City. "Mi scusi!" I would say to the hall porter at the Grosvenor House. "Entschuldigen Sie, bitte," I would say to a taxi driver in Osaka. Too much travel, too much change, too much confusion. Now there would be five blissful days on the
, world's largest liner, 83,673 tons of fun and games.
At last the train reached Cherbourg, and we were just in time to watch the great ship bob toward the wharf, inches at a time, a floating city all lighted and polished and warm in the chill Normandy evening. Oh, what fun we would have. "Where's the skeet?" I asked a young officer as we went aboard.