Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pursuing the Saratoga

The problem was an acute one. It all happened at Parattah Junction in Tasmania. I was traveling on the south-bound express. Having enjoyed a good dinner in the refreshment rooms, I discovered that I still had five minutes before the train resumed its journey.

At that very moment, the north-bound express arrived. How better could I spend my spare five minutes than by strolling along the platform on the chance of meeting somebody I knew? And, surely enough, beside one of the central carriages, I caught sight of a young lady, a minister's daughter, at whose home I had often been a guest.

I saw at a glance that she was in dire distress.
‘Why, Effie!’ I exclaimed. ‘What's wrong?’
‘Oh, I'm in serious trouble,’ she replied. ‘I've lost my Saratoga!’
‘That's dreadful,’ I assented, sympathetically. ‘But look, you take the front part of the train and I'll take the back, and we'll meet again here in a minute or two!’

I hurried along the carriages that I had assigned to myself, looking high and low for the elusive Saratoga. I sincerely hoped that Effie would find it in that portion of the train that I had allotted to her, for I had to confess to myself that I felt seriously handicapped in my own search by the lamentable circumstances that I had no shadow of an idea as to what a Saratoga was!

It sounded as if it might be a special breed of dog, and I poked with my stick among the bags and boxes hoping that, with a frightened yelp, the little beast would dash out at me. But then again, it might be an article of jewelry, and, for that reason, I scrutinized the asphalt of the platform and the floors of the carriages in the frantic hope that I might detect a sudden glitter.

But then, I reminded myself, a Saratoga might conceivably be some mysterious part of a lady's wearing apparel, and it was because of this possibility that, fearing to embarrass her, I had refrained from asking Effie for exact particulars of the missing treasure.

At any rate I searched my half of the train as closely as my limited time would allow, and, on returning to our appointed rendezvous, was delighted to find Effie with her face beaming and the precious Saratoga at her feet. How was I to know that a Saratoga was a species of suitcase? I congratulated her, waved her a hurried goodbye; and caught my own train by the skin of my teeth.

But, to my dying day, I shall never forget the sensation of searching eagerly for a thing without possessing the faintest clue as to what that thing might be.

My experience that day resembles the universal search for happiness. If asked what they were seeking, nine people out of ten—perhaps ninety-nine out of a hundred—would reply that they are seeking happiness. Do they know what they are looking for? Would they recognize it if they saw it? Or is their passionate quest like my own wild pursuit of the Saratoga?

F W Boreham, Dreams at Sunset (London: The Epworth Press, 1954), 22-24.

New Book of Stories
The above story is one of the 250+stories that can be found in the recently published book:

F W Boreham, All the Blessings of Life: The Best Stories of F W Boreham.

My publishing colleague, Michael Dalton has a Thanksgiving Special on at the moment so it can be purchased (with the two other new Boreham books) at the best price.

Instructions are at this link:
F W Boreham Publishing News—Thanksgiving Special

Southern Hemisphere people might like to order from these links:
COC Online Shop
Steve Grosey Site

Image: Found it! This is a Saratoga. It was a large trunk (nineteenth century), so called because it was much used by women traveling to the summer resort of Saratoga, New York.

Another story from this book is posted at:
The Official F W Boreham Blogspot.