"So seeing the Delaware Water Gap was Ashcroft's lifelong ambition. Tell me, Phipps, have you had an ambition since young manhood? Some secret dream? Some hidden passion? Your heart's desire? Think, boy. Be frank. Hold back nothing."
"Yes, Mother," I said, "I do have a dream. A secret ambition, my dearest heart's desire, as you so aptly put it. I have long dreamed of making a pilgrimage to the retail sporting-goods store and mail-order factory of the late Mr. L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine!"
Slowly mother raised her cane to her lips and drained the last of the brandy from the glass vial. As she screwed the top back on the cane, a faraway look came into her eyes.
"It may surprise you to know, Phipps," she said gently, "that your own dear father was one of the first Harvard men to order a pair of Mr. Bean's famous Maine hunting shoes. And he smoked nothing in his pipe but Mr. Bean's special blend of tobacco for hunters and fishermen."
I leaned forward on the footstool. "I never knew!"
Mother pushed me upright with the tip of her cane. "I like your plan, Phipps. By all means, you must make your pilgrimage to L. L. Bean's. We shall think of it as a sort of memorial to your dear father. I would ask that you wear one of the Norfolk jackets he loved so well."
"I will, Mother, I will, indeed."
"Carte blanche, my dear Phipps. I give you a carte blanche. Go, son, and Godspeed."
Well, Bayard! Mother had never given me such a blanket permission to travel.
Carte blanche, she had said. This meant that I could realize another dream of dreams, i.e. I could go from Freeport to Bar Harbor and there book passage on the well-known automobile and passenger ferry, Bluenose, for its six-hour voyage across open ocean to Yarmouth, N.S. In other words, Bayard, no Delaware Water Gap for me. For the first time in my life I would go abroad!