“Close by the high-road,” said the Moon, “is an inn, and opposite to it is a great waggon-shed, whose straw roof was just being re-thatched. I looked down between the bare rafters and through the open loft into the comfortless space below. The turkey-cock slept on the beam, and the saddle rested in the empty crib. In the middle of the shed stood a travelling carriage; the proprietor was inside, fast asleep, while the horses were being watered. The coachman stretched himself, though I am very sure that he had been most comfortably asleep half the last stage. The door of the servants’ room stood open, and the bed looked as if it had been turned over and over; the candle stood on the floor, and had burnt deep down into the socket. The wind blew cold through the shed: it was nearer to the dawn than to midnight. In the wooden frame on the ground slept a wandering family of musicians. The father and mother seemed to be dreaming of the burning liquor that remained in the bottle. The little pale daughter was dreaming too, for her eyes were wet with tears. The harp stood at their heads, and the dog lay stretched at their feet.”
That was the twenty-ninth evening.
There isn’t a lot to this story. It’s really about a traveling group of people, but we can dissect it a little bit. When someone says, “I’m going to take the high road,” he or she means one of two things. It might mean that this person is taking the most traveled route. Once upon a time when people said “high road” they meant the main road. If it was the road everybody was taking, it was the high road. Now, this person might have meant they were making the morally superior decision. Somewhere along the line, people chose to make “taking the high road” mean that they were making the more grown-up choice.
There are a few things we see in this short little story. These travelers are lodged in rough lodgings. They’re sharing them with other people, with animals, and with the weather. They’ve traveled many miles and are weary. In their dreams, they can be somewhere else. The little girls’ eyes are wet with tears, no doubt dreaming of a warm bed or a warm meal. In her waking hours she knows traveling, hunger, and other hardships of life on the road, but in the world of dreams, she could be anywhere.
This sounds like a bad family vacation.
Dad: It’ll be fun.
Mom: I don’t know.
Dad: Oh, come on! We’ll sleep out under the stars. It’ll be great.
Mom: Well, ok.
What is the worst lodging you have ever had?
In your life, how do you take the high road?