"What is the man saying, Lambert?" asked Ben, who was holding his mittened hands against his cheeks to ward off the cutting air.
"He says we're about two pipes from Leyden. Half the boors here on the canal measure distance by the time it takes them to finish a pipe."
"See here, Benjamin Dobbs," retorted Lambert, growing unaccountably indignant at Ben's quiet smile. "See here, you've a way of calling every other thing you see on THIS side of the German ocean 'ridiculous.' It may suit YOU, this word, but it doesn't suit ME. When you want anything ridiculous, just remember your English custom of making the Lord Mayor of London, at his installation, count the nails in a horseshoe to prove HIS LEARNING."
"Who told you we had any such custom as that?" cried Ben, looking grave in an instant.
"Why, I KNOW it, no use of anyone telling me. It's in all the books--and it's true. It strikes me," continued Lambert, laughing in spite of himself, "that you have been kept in happy ignorance of a good many ridiculous things on YOUR side of the map."
"Humph!" exclaimed Ben, trying not to smile. "I'll inquire into that Lord Mayor business when I get home. There must be some mistake. B-r-r-roooo! How fast we're going. This is glorious!"
It was a grand sail, or ride, I scarcely know which to call it; perhaps FLY would be the best word, for the boys felt very much as Sinbad did when, tied to the roc's leg, he darted through the clouds; or as Bellerophon felt when he shot through the air on the back of his winged horse Pegasus.
Sailing, riding, or flying, whichever it was, everything was rushing past, backward, and before they had time to draw a deep breath, Leyden itself, with its high, peaked roofs, flew halfway to meet them.