. . . as I write plays (probably my best work), novels and essays of
many kinds, no single specimen can well represent me. After some
thought I have decided that the description of the Grand Canyon
in Midnight in the Desert will do as well as anything. The passage
begins in the second paragraph of Chapter XIV. The passage is a
favorite one with many readers, and has the advantage, from your
point of view, of describing an American scene.
J. B. PRIESTLEY
THIS WAS NOT our first visit to the Grand Canyon. . . . I plunged farther into recollection, and arrived at that first visit. We had planned "a stop-over" of a few hours. Your coach leaves the main west-bound train at Williams, Arizona, wanders up the sixty-four miles to the station at the Southern Rim of the Canyon, doing this during the night when you are fast asleep, and when you wake in the morning--there you are. That is the theory of this "side trip." It did not work well for me in practice. The night that had seemed very convenient and comfortable in the railway time-table was actually most unpleasant. First there were giant shuntings and bangings that made sleep impossible. By the time I had adapted myself to these shuntings and bangings, they stopped, and the train was left paralyzed in an uneasy silence and stillness, a doomed train that whispered, "Sleep no more." In the end I must have slept a little, for I remember waking to find that we were somewhere very high and it was snowing. Heavy and hot about the eyes, I put on some clothes, then went blinking and shuffling out into the cold blue morning, a peevish passenger.
The little station looked dreary. The young man waiting with the hotel bus did not look dreary, but he looked all wrong, for he wore a ten-gallon hat and an embroidered cowboy coat with English riding-breeches and long boots, like a cowboy in a musical comedy.