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Baddeck and That Sort of Thing by Charles Dudley Warner

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By Charles Dudley Warner



It would be unfair to hold you responsible for these light sketches
of a summer trip, which are now gathered into this little volume in
response to the usual demand in such cases; yet you cannot escape
altogether. For it was you who first taught me to say the name
Baddeck; it was you who showed me its position on the map, and a
seductive letter from a home missionary on Cape Breton Island, in
relation to the abundance of trout and salmon in his field of labor.
That missionary, you may remember, we never found, nor did we see his
tackle; but I have no reason to believe that he does not enjoy good
fishing in the right season. You understand the duties of a home
missionary much better than I do, and you know whether he would be
likely to let a couple of strangers into the best part of his

But I am free to admit that after our expedition was started you
speedily relieved yourself of all responsibility for it, and turned
it over to your comrade with a profound geographical indifference;
you would as readily have gone to Baddeck by Nova Zembla as by Nova
Scotia. The flight over the latter island was, you knew, however, no
part of our original plan, and you were not obliged to take any
interest in it. You know that our design was to slip rapidly down,
by the back way of Northumberland Sound, to the Bras d'Or, and spend
a week fishing there; and that the greater part of this journey here
imperfectly described is not really ours, but was put upon us by fate
and by the peculiar arrangement of provincial travel.

It would have been easy after our return to have made up from
libraries a most engaging description of the Provinces, mixing it
with historical, legendary, botanical, geographical, and ethnological
information, and seasoning it with adventure from your glowing
imagination. But it seemed to me that it would be a more honest
contribution if our account contained only what we saw, in our rapid
travel; for I have a theory that any addition to the great body of
print, however insignificant it may be, has a value in proportion to
its originality and individuality,--however slight either is,--and
very little value if it is a compilation of the observations of
others. In this case I know how slight the value is; and I can only
hope that as the trip was very entertaining to us, the record of it
may not be wholly unentertaining to those of like tastes.

Of one thing, my dear friend, I am certain: if the readers of this
little journey could have during its persual the companionship that
the writer had when it was made, they would think it altogether
delightful. There is no pleasure comparable to that of going about
the world, in pleasant weather, with a good comrade, if the mind is
distracted neither by care, nor ambition, nor the greed of gain. The
delight there is in seeing things, without any hope of pecuniary
profit from them! We certainly enjoyed that inward peace which the
philosopher associates with the absence of desire for money. For, as
Plato says in the Phaedo, "whence come wars and fightings and
factions? whence but from the body and the lusts of the body? For
wars are occasioned by the love of money." So also are the majority
of the anxieties of life. We left these behind when we went into the
Provinces with no design of acquiring anything there. I hope it may
be my fortune to travel further with you in this fair world, under
similar circumstances.

NOOK FARM, HARTFORD, April 10, 1874.

C. D. W.


"Ay, now I am in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home,
I was in a better place; but travellers must be content."--

Two comrades and travelers, who sought a better country than the
United States in the month of August, found themselves one
evening in apparent possession of the ancient town of Boston.

The shops were closed at early candle-light; the fashionable
inhabitants had retired into the country, or into the
second-story-back, of their princely residences, and even an air of
tender gloom settled upon the Common. The streets were almost empty,
and one passed into the burnt district, where the scarred ruins and
the uplifting piles of new brick and stone spread abroad under the
flooding light of a full moon like another Pompeii, without any
increase in his feeling of tranquil seclusion. Even the news-offices
had put up their shutters, and a confiding stranger could nowhere buy
a guide-book to help his wandering feet about the reposeful city, or
to show him how to get out of it. There was, to be sure, a cheerful
tinkle of horse-car bells in the air, and in the creeping vehicles
which created this levity of sound were a few lonesome passengers on
their way to Scollay's Square; but the two travelers, not having
well-regulated minds, had no desire to go there. What would have
become of Boston if the great fire had reached this sacred point of
pilg-rimage no merely human mind can imagine. Without it, I suppose
the horse-cars would go continually round and round, never stopping,
until the cars fell away piecemeal on the track, and the horses
collapsed into a mere mass of bones and harness, and the brown-
covered books from the Public Library, in the hands of the fading
virgins who carried them, had accumulated fines to an incalculable

Boston, notwithstanding its partial destruction by fire, is still a
good place to start from. When one meditates an excursion into an
unknown and perhaps perilous land, where the flag will not protect
him and the greenback will only partially support him, he likes to
steady and tranquilize his mind by a peaceful halt and a serene
start. So we--for the intelligent reader has already identified us
with the two travelers resolved to spend the last night, before
beginning our journey, in the quiet of a Boston hotel. Some people
go into the country for quiet: we knew better. The country is no
place for sleep. The general absence of sound which prevails at
night is only a sort of background which brings out more vividly the
special and unexpected disturbances which are suddenly sprung upon
the restless listener. There are a thousand pokerish noises that no
one can account for, which excite the nerves to acute watchfulness.

It is still early, and one is beginning to be lulled by the frogs and
the crickets, when the faint rattle of a drum is heard,--just a few
preliminary taps. But the soul takes alarm, and well it may, for a
roll follows, and then a rub-a-dub-dub, and the farmer's boy who is
handling the sticks and pounding the distended skin in a neighboring
horse-shed begins to pour out his patriotism in that unending
repetition of rub-a-dub-dub which is supposed to represent love of
country in the young. When the boy is tired out and quits the field,
the faithful watch-dog opens out upon the stilly night. He is the
guardian of his master's slumbers. The howls of the faithful
creature are answered by barks and yelps from all the farmhouses for
a mile around, and exceedingly poor barking it usually is, until all
the serenity of the night is torn to shreds. This is, however, only
the opening of the orchestra. The cocks wake up if there is the
faintest moonshine and begin an antiphonal service between responsive
barn-yards. It is not the clear clarion of chanticleer that is heard
in the morn of English poetry, but a harsh chorus of cracked voices,
hoarse and abortive attempts, squawks of young experimenters, and
some indescribable thing besides, for I believe even the hens crow in
these days. Distracting as all this is, however, happy is the man
who does not hear a goat lamenting in the night. The goat is the
most exasperating of the animal creation. He cries like a deserted
baby, but he does it without any regularity. One can accustom
himself to any expression of suffering that is regular. The
annoyance of the goat is in the dreadful waiting for the uncertain
sound of the next wavering bleat. It is the fearful expectation of
that, mingled with the faint hope that the last was the last, that
ag-gravates the tossing listener until he has murder in his heart.
He longs for daylight, hoping that the voices of the night will then
cease, and that sleep will come with the blessed morning. But he has
forgotten the birds, who at the first streak of gray in the east have
assembled in the trees near his chamber-window, and keep up for an
hour the most rasping dissonance,--an orchestra in which each artist
is tuning his instrument, setting it in a different key and to play a
different tune: each bird recalls a different tune, and none sings
"Annie Laurie,"--to pervert Bayard Taylor's song.

Give us the quiet of a city on the night before a journey. As we
mounted skyward in our hotel, and went to bed in a serene altitude,
we congratulated ourselves upon a reposeful night. It began well.
But as we sank into the first doze, we were startled by a sudden
crash. Was it an earthquake, or another fire? Were the neighboring
buildings all tumbling in upon us, or had a bomb fallen into the
neighboring crockery-store? It was the suddenness of the onset that
startled us, for we soon perceived that it began with the clash of
cymbals, the pounding of drums, and the blaring of dreadful brass.
It was somebody's idea of music. It opened without warning. The men
composing the band of brass must have stolen silently into the alley
about the sleeping hotel, and burst into the clamor of a rattling
quickstep, on purpose. The horrible sound thus suddenly let loose
had no chance of escape; it bounded back from wall to wall, like the
clapping of boards in a tunnel, rattling windows and stunning all
cars, in a vain attempt to get out over the roofs. But such music
does not go up. What could have been the intention of this assault
we could not conjecture. It was a time of profound peace through the
country; we had ordered no spontaneous serenade, if it was a
serenade. Perhaps the Boston bands have that habit of going into an
alley and disciplining their nerves by letting out a tune too big for
the alley, and taking the shock of its reverberation. It may be well
enough for the band, but many a poor sinner in the hotel that night
must have thought the judgment day had sprung upon him. Perhaps the
band had some remorse, for by and by it leaked out of the alley, in
humble, apologetic retreat, as if somebody had thrown something at it
from the sixth-story window, softly breathing as it retired the notes
of "Fair Harvard."

The band had scarcely departed for some other haunt of slumber and
weariness, when the notes of singing floated up that prolific alley,
like the sweet tenor voice of one bewailing the prohibitory movement;
and for an hour or more a succession of young bacchanals, who were
evidently wandering about in search of the Maine Law, lifted up their
voices in song. Boston seems to be full of good singers; but they
will ruin their voices by this night exercise, and so the city will
cease to be attractive to travelers who would like to sleep there.
But this entertainment did not last the night out.

It stopped just before the hotel porter began to come around to rouse
the travelers who had said the night before that they wanted to be
awakened. In all well-regulated hotels this process begins at two
o'clock and keeps up till seven. If the porter is at all faithful,
he wakes up everybody in the house; if he is a shirk, he only rouses
the wrong people. We treated the pounding of the porter on our door
with silent contempt. At the next door he had better luck. Pound,
pound. An angry voice, "What do you want?"

"Time to take the train, sir."

"Not going to take any train."

"Ain't your name Smith?"


"Well, Smith"--

"I left no order to be called." (Indistinct grumbling from Smith's

Porter is heard shuffling slowly off down the passage. In a little
while he returns to Smith's door, evidently not satisfied in his
mind. Rap, rap, rap!

"Well, what now?"

"What's your initials? A. T.; clear out!"

And the porter shambles away again in his slippers, grumbling
something about a mistake. The idea of waking a man up in the middle
of the night to ask him his "initials" was ridiculous enough to
banish sleep for another hour. A person named Smith, when he
travels, should leave his initials outside the door with his boots.

Refreshed by this reposeful night, and eager to exchange the
stagnation of the shore for the tumult of the ocean, we departed next
morning for Baddeck by the most direct route. This we found, by
diligent study of fascinating prospectuses of travel, to be by the
boats of the International Steamship Company; and when, at eight
o'clock in the morning, we stepped aboard one of them from Commercial
Wharf, we felt that half our journey and the most perplexing part of
it was accomplished. We had put ourselves upon a great line of
travel, and had only to resign ourselves to its flow in order to
reach the desired haven. The agent at the wharf assured us that it
was not necessary to buy through tickets to Baddeck,--he spoke of it
as if it were as easy a place to find as Swampscott,--it was a
conspicuous name on the cards of the company, we should go right on
from St. John without difficulty. The easy familiarity of this
official with Baddeck, in short, made us ashamed to exhibit any
anxiety about its situation or the means of approach to it.
Subsequent experience led us to believe that the only man in the
world, out of Baddeck, who knew anything about it lives in Boston,
and sells tickets to it, or rather towards it.

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of
it, when the traveler is settled simply as to his destination, and
commits himself to his unknown fate and all the anticipations of
adventure before him. We experienced this pleasure as we ascended to
the deck of the steamboat and snuffed the fresh air of Boston Harbor.
What a beautiful harbor it is, everybody says, with its irregularly
indented shores and its islands. Being strangers, we want to know
the names of the islands, and to have Fort Warren, which has a
national reputation, pointed out. As usual on a steamboat, no one is
certain about the names, and the little geographical knowledge we
have is soon hopelessly confused. We make out South Boston very
plainly: a tourist is looking at its warehouses through his opera-
glass, and telling his boy about a recent fire there. We find out
afterwards that it was East Boston. We pass to the stern of the boat
for a last look at Boston itself; and while there we have the
pleasure of showing inquirers the Monument and the State House. We
do this with easy familiarity; but where there are so many tall
factory chimneys, it is not so easy to point out the Monument as one
may think.

The day is simply delicious, when we get away from the unozoned air
of the land. The sky is cloudless, and the water sparkles like the
top of a glass of champagne. We intend by and by to sit down and
look at it for half a day, basking in the sunshine and pleasing
ourselves with the shifting and dancing of the waves. Now we are
busy running about from side to side to see the islands, Governor's,
Castle, Long, Deer, and the others. When, at length, we find Fort
Warren, it is not nearly so grim and gloomy as we had expected, and
is rather a pleasure-place than a prison in appearance. We are
conscious, however, of a patriotic emotion as we pass its green turf
and peeping guns. Leaving on our right Lovell's Island and the Great
and Outer Brewster, we stand away north along the jagged
Massachusetts shore. These outer islands look cold and wind-swept
even in summer, and have a hardness of outline which is very far from
the aspect of summer isles in summer seas. They are too low and bare
for beauty, and all the coast is of the most retiring and humble
description. Nature makes some compensation for this lowness by an
eccentricity of indentation which looks very picturesque on the map,
and sometimes striking, as where Lynn stretches out a slender arm
with knobby Nahant at the end, like a New Zealand war club. We sit
and watch this shore as we glide by with a placid delight. Its
curves and low promontories are getting to be speckled with villages
and dwellings, like the shores of the Bay of Naples; we see the white
spires, the summer cottages of wealth, the brown farmhouses with an
occasional orchard, the gleam of a white beach, and now and then the
flag of some many-piazzaed hotel. The sunlight is the glory of it
all; it must have quite another attraction--that of melancholy--under
a gray sky and with a lead-colored water foreground.

There was not much on the steamboat to distract our attention from
the study of physical geography. All the fashionable travelers had
gone on the previous boat or were waiting for the next one. The
passengers were mostly people who belonged in the Provinces and had
the listless provincial air, with a Boston commercial traveler or
two, and a few gentlemen from the republic of Ireland, dressed in
their uncomfortable Sunday clothes. If any accident should happen to
the boat, it was doubtful if there were persons on board who could
draw up and pass the proper resolutions of thanks to the officers. I
heard one of these Irish gentlemen, whose satin vest was insufficient
to repress the mountainous protuberance of his shirt-bosom,
enlightening an admiring friend as to his idiosyncrasies. It
appeared that he was that sort of a man that, if a man wanted
anything of him, he had only to speak for it "wunst;" and that one of
his peculiarities was an instant response of the deltoid muscle to
the brain, though he did not express it in that language. He went on
to explain to his auditor that he was so constituted physically that
whenever he saw a fight, no matter whose property it was, he lost all
control of himself. This sort of confidence poured out to a single
friend, in a retired place on the guard of the boat, in an unexcited
tone, was evidence of the man's simplicity and sincerity. The very
act of traveling, I have noticed, seems to open a man's heart, so
that he will impart to a chance acquaintance his losses, his
diseases, his table preferences, his disappointments in love or in
politics, and his most secret hopes. One sees everywhere this
beautiful human trait, this craving for sympathy. There was the old
lady, in the antique bonnet and plain cotton gloves, who got aboard
the express train at a way-station on the Connecticut River Road.
She wanted to go, let us say, to Peak's Four Corners. It seemed that
the train did not usually stop there, but it appeared afterwards that
the obliging conductor had told her to get aboard and he would let
her off at Peak's. When she stepped into the car, in a flustered
condition, carrying her large bandbox, she began to ask all the
passengers, in turn, if this was the right train, and if it stopped
at Peak's. The information she received was various, but the weight
of it was discouraging, and some of the passengers urged her to get
off without delay, before the train should start. The poor woman got
off, and pretty soon came back again, sent by the conductor; but her
mind was not settled, for she repeated her questions to every person
who passed her seat, and their answers still more discomposed her.
"Sit perfectly still," said the conductor, when he came by. "You
must get out and wait for a way train," said the passengers, who
knew. In this confusion, the train moved off, just as the old lady
had about made up her mind to quit the car, when her distraction was
completed by the discovery that her hair trunk was not on board. She
saw it standing on the open platform, as we passed, and after one
look of terror, and a dash at the window, she subsided into her seat,
grasping her bandbox, with a vacant look of utter despair. Fate now
seemed to have done its worst, and she was resigned to it. I am sure
it was no mere curiosity, but a desire to be of service, that led me
to approach her and say, "Madam, where are you going?"

"The Lord only knows," was the utterly candid response; but then,
forgetting everything in her last misfortune and impelled to a burst
of confidence, she began to tell me her troubles. She informed me
that her youngest daughter was about to be married, and that all her
wedding-clothes and all her summer clothes were in that trunk; and as
she said this she gave a glance out of the window as if she hoped it
might be following her. What would become of them all now, all brand
new, she did n't know, nor what would become of her or her daughter.
And then she told me, article by article and piece by piece, all that
that trunk contained, the very names of which had an unfamiliar sound
in a railway-car, and how many sets and pairs there were of each. It
seemed to be a relief to the old lady to make public this catalogue
which filled all her mind; and there was a pathos in the revelation
that I cannot convey in words. And though I am compelled, by way of
illustration, to give this incident, no bribery or torture shall ever
extract from me a statement of the contents of that hair trunk.

We were now passing Nahant, and we should have seen Longfellow's
cottage and the waves beating on the rocks before it, if we had been
near enough. As it was, we could only faintly distinguish the
headland and note the white beach of Lynn. The fact is, that in
travel one is almost as much dependent upon imagination and memory as
he is at home. Somehow, we seldom get near enough to anything. The
interest of all this coast which we had come to inspect was mainly
literary and historical. And no country is of much interest until
legends and poetry have draped it in hues that mere nature cannot
produce. We looked at Nahant for Longfellow's sake; we strained our
eyes to make out Marblehead on account of Whittier's ballad; we
scrutinized the entrance to Salem Harbor because a genius once sat in
its decaying custom-house and made of it a throne of the imagination.
Upon this low shore line, which lies blinking in the midday sun, the
waves of history have beaten for two centuries and a half, and
romance has had time to grow there. Out of any of these coves might
have sailed Sir Patrick Spens "to Noroway, to Noroway,"

"They hadna sailed upon the sea
A day but barely three,

Till loud and boisterous grew the wind,
And gurly grew the sea."

The sea was anything but gurly now; it lay idle and shining in an
August holiday. It seemed as if we could sit all day and watch the
suggestive shore and dream about it. But we could not. No man, and
few women, can sit all day on those little round penitential stools
that the company provide for the discomfort of their passengers.
There is no scenery in the world that can be enjoyed from one of
those stools. And when the traveler is at sea, with the land failing
away in his horizon, and has to create his own scenery by an effort
of the imagination, these stools are no assistance to him. The
imagination, when one is sitting, will not work unless the back is
supported. Besides, it began to be cold; notwithstanding the shiny,
specious appearance of things, it was cold, except in a sheltered
nook or two where the sun beat. This was nothing to be complained of
by persons who had left the parching land in order to get cool. They
knew that there would be a wind and a draught everywhere, and that
they would be occupied nearly all the time in moving the little
stools about to get out of the wind, or out of the sun, or out of
something that is inherent in a steamboat. Most people enjoy riding
on a steamboat, shaking and trembling and chow-chowing along in
pleasant weather out of sight of land; and they do not feel any
ennui, as may be inferred from the intense excitement which seizes
them when a poor porpoise leaps from the water half a mile away.
"Did you see the porpoise?" makes conversation for an hour. On our
steamboat there was a man who said he saw a whale, saw him just as
plain, off to the east, come up to blow; appeared to be a young one.
I wonder where all these men come from who always see a whale. I
never was on a sea-steamer yet that there was not one of these men.

We sailed from Boston Harbor straight for Cape Ann, and passed close
by the twin lighthouses of Thacher, so near that we could see the
lanterns and the stone gardens, and the young barbarians of Thacher
all at play; and then we bore away, straight over the trackless
Atlantic, across that part of the map where the title and the
publisher's name are usually printed, for the foreign city of St.
John. It was after we passed these lighthouses that we did n't see
the whale, and began to regret the hard fate that took us away from a
view of the Isles of Shoals. I am not tempted to introduce them into
this sketch, much as its surface needs their romantic color, for
truth is stronger in me than the love of giving a deceitful pleasure.
There will be nothing in this record that we did not see, or might
not have seen. For instance, it might not be wrong to describe a
coast, a town, or an island that we passed while we were performing
our morning toilets in our staterooms. The traveler owes a duty to
his readers, and if he is now and then too weary or too indifferent
to go out from the cabin to survey a prosperous village where a
landing is made, he has no right to cause the reader to suffer by his
indolence. He should describe the village.

I had intended to describe the Maine coast, which is as fascinating
on the map as that of Norway. We had all the feelings appropriate to
nearness to it, but we couldn't see it. Before we came abreast of it
night had settled down, and there was around us only a gray and
melancholy waste of salt water. To be sure it was a lovely night,
with a young moon in its sky,

"I saw the new moon late yestreen
Wi' the auld moon in her arms,"

and we kept an anxious lookout for the Maine hills that push so
boldly down into the sea. At length we saw them,--faint, dusky
shadows in the horizon, looming up in an ashy color and with a most
poetical light. We made out clearly Mt. Desert, and felt repaid for
our journey by the sight of this famous island, even at such a
distance. I pointed out the hills to the man at the wheel, and asked
if we should go any nearer to Mt. Desert.

"Them!" said he, with the merited contempt which officials in this
country have for inquisitive travelers,--" them's Camden Hills. You
won't see Mt. Desert till midnight, and then you won't."

One always likes to weave in a little romance with summer travel on a
steamboat; and we came aboard this one with the purpose and the
language to do so. But there was an absolute want of material, that
would hardly be credited if we went into details. The first meeting
of the passengers at the dinner-table revealed it. There is a kind
of female plainness which is pathetic, and many persons can truly say
that to them it is homelike; and there are vulgarities of manner that
are interesting; and there are peculiarities, pleasant or the
reverse, which attract one's attention: but there was absolutely
nothing of this sort on our boat. The female passengers were all
neutrals, incapable, I should say, of making any impression whatever
even under the most favorable circumstances. They were probably
women of the Provinces, and took their neutral tint from the foggy
land they inhabit, which is neither a republic nor a monarchy, but
merely a languid expectation of something undefined. My comrade was
disposed to resent the dearth of beauty, not only on this vessel but
throughout the Provinces generally,--a resentment that could be shown
to be unjust, for this was evidently not the season for beauty in
these lands, and it was probably a bad year for it. Nor should an
American of the United States be forward to set up his standard of
taste in such matters; neither in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, nor
Cape Breton have I heard the inhabitants complain of the plainness of
the women.

On such a night two lovers might have been seen, but not on our boat,
leaning over the taffrail,--if that is the name of the fence around
the cabin-deck, looking at the moon in the western sky and the long
track of light in the steamer's wake with unutterable tenderness.
For the sea was perfectly smooth, so smooth as not to interfere with
the most perfect tenderness of feeling; and the vessel forged ahead
under the stars of the soft night with an adventurous freedom that
almost concealed the commercial nature of her mission. It seemed--
this voyaging through the sparkling water, under the scintillating
heavens, this resolute pushing into the opening splendors of night--
like a pleasure trip. "It is the witching hour of half past ten,"
said my comrade, "let us turn in." (The reader will notice the
consideration for her feelings which has omitted the usual
description of "a sunset at sea.")

When we looked from our state-room window in the morning we saw land.
We were passing within a stone's throw of a pale-green and rather
cold-looking coast, with few trees or other evidences of fertile
soil. Upon going out I found that we were in the harbor of Eastport.
I found also the usual tourist who had been up, shivering in his
winter overcoat, since four o'clock. He described to me the
magnificent sunrise, and the lifting of the fog from islands and
capes, in language that made me rejoice that he had seen it. He knew
all about the harbor. That wooden town at the foot of it, with the
white spire, was Lubec; that wooden town we were approaching was
Eastport. The long island stretching clear across the harbor was
Campobello. We had been obliged to go round it, a dozen miles out of
our way, to get in, because the tide was in such a stage that we
could not enter by the Lubec Channel. We had been obliged to enter
an American harbor by British waters.

We approached Eastport with a great deal of curiosity and
considerable respect. It had been one of the cities of the
imagination. Lying in the far east of our great territory, a
military and even a sort of naval station, a conspicuous name on the
map, prominent in boundary disputes and in war operations, frequent
in telegraphic dispatches,--we had imagined it a solid city, with
some Oriental, if decayed, peculiarity, a port of trade and commerce.
The tourist informed me that Eastport looked very well at a distance,
with the sun shining on its white houses. When we landed at its
wooden dock we saw that it consisted of a few piles of lumber, a
sprinkling of small cheap houses along a sidehill, a big hotel with a
flag-staff, and a very peaceful looking arsenal. It is doubtless a
very enterprising and deserving city, but its aspect that morning was
that of cheapness, newness, and stagnation, with no compensating
pictur-esqueness. White paint always looks chilly under a gray sky
and on naked hills. Even in hot August the place seemed bleak. The
tour-ist, who went ashore with a view to breakfast, said that it
would be a good place to stay in and go a-fishing and picnicking on
Campobello Island. It has another advantage for the wicked over
other Maine towns. Owing to the contiguity of British territory, the
Maine Law is constantly evaded, in spirit. The thirsty citizen or
sailor has only to step into a boat and give it a shove or two across
the narrow stream that separates the United States from Deer Island
and land, when he can ruin his breath, and return before he is

This might be a cause of war with, England, but it is not the most
serious grievance here. The possession by the British of the island
of Campobello is an insufferable menace and impertinence. I write
with the full knowledge of what war is. We ought to instantly
dislodge the British from Campobello. It entirely shuts up and
commands our harbor, one of our chief Eastern harbors and war
stations, where we keep a flag and cannon and some soldiers, and
where the customs officers look out for smuggling. There is no way
to get into our own harbor, except in favorable conditions of the
tide, without begging the courtesy of a passage through British
waters. Why is England permitted to stretch along down our coast in
this straggling and inquisitive manner? She might almost as well own
Long Island. It was impossible to prevent our cheeks mantling with
shame as we thought of this, and saw ourselves, free American
citizens, land-locked by alien soil in our own harbor.

We ought to have war, if war is necessary to possess Campobello and
Deer Islands; or else we ought to give the British Eastport. I am
not sure but the latter would be the better course.

With this war spirit in our hearts, we sailed away into the British
waters of the Bay of Fundy, but keeping all the morning so close to
the New Brunswick shore that we could see there was nothing on it;
that is, nothing that would make one wish to land. And yet the best
part of going to sea is keeping close to the shore, however tame it
may be, if the weather is pleasant. A pretty bay now and then, a
rocky cove with scant foliage, a lighthouse, a rude cabin, a level
land, monotonous and without noble forests,--this was New Brunswick
as we coasted along it under the most favorable circumstances. But
we were advancing into the Bay of Fundy; and my comrade, who had been
brought up on its high tides in the district school, was on the
lookout for this phenomenon. The very name of Fundy is stimulating
to the imagination, amid the geographical wastes of youth, and the
young fancy reaches out to its tides with an enthusiasm that is given
only to Fingal's Cave and other pictorial wonders of the text-book.
I am sure the district schools would become what they are not now, if
the geographers would make the other parts of the globe as attractive
as the sonorous Bay of Fundy. The recitation about that is always an
easy one; there is a lusty pleasure in the mere shouting out of the
name, as if the speaking it were an innocent sort of swearing. From
the Bay of Fundy the rivers run uphill half the time, and the tides
are from forty to ninety feet high. For myself, I confess that, in
my imagination, I used to see the tides of this bay go stalking into
the land like gigantic waterspouts; or, when I was better instructed,
I could see them advancing on the coast like a solid wall of masonry
eighty feet high. "Where," we said, as we came easily, and neither
uphill nor downhill, into the pleasant harbor of St. John,---"where
are the tides of our youth?"

They were probably out, for when we came to the land we walked out
upon the foot of a sloping platform that ran into the water by the
side of the piles of the dock, which stood up naked and blackened
high in the air. It is not the purpose of this paper to describe St.
John, nor to dwell upon its picturesque situation. As one approaches
it from the harbor it gives a promise which its rather shabby
streets, decaying houses, and steep plank sidewalks do not keep. A
city set on a hill, with flags flying from a roof here and there, and
a few shining spires and walls glistening in the sun, always looks
well at a distance. St. John is extravagant in the matter of
flagstaffs; almost every well-to-do citizen seems to have one on his
premises, as a sort of vent for his loyalty, I presume. It is a good
fashion, at any rate, and its more general adoption by us would add
to the gayety of our cities when we celebrate the birthday of the
President. St. John is built on a steep sidehill, from which it
would be in danger of sliding off, if its houses were not mortised
into the solid rock. This makes the house-foundations secure, but
the labor of blasting out streets is considerable. We note these
things complacently as we toil in the sun up the hill to the Victoria
Hotel, which stands well up on the backbone of the ridge, and from
the upper windows of which we have a fine view of the harbor, and of
the hill opposite, above Carleton, where there is the brokenly
truncated ruin of a round stone tower. This tower was one of the
first things that caught our eyes as we entered the harbor. It gave
an antique picturesqueness to the landscape which it entirely wanted
without this. Round stone towers are not so common in this world
that we can afford to be indifferent to them. This is called a
Martello tower, but I could not learn who built it. I could not
understand the indifference, almost amounting to contempt, of the
citizens of St. John in regard to this their only piece of curious
antiquity. "It is nothing but the ruins of an old fort," they said;
"you can see it as well from here as by going there." It was, how-
ever, the one thing at St. John I was determined to see. But we
never got any nearer to it than the ferry-landing. Want of time and
the vis inertia of the place were against us. And now, as I think of
that tower and its perhaps mysterious origin, I have a longing for it
that the possession of nothing else in the Provinces could satisfy.

But it must not be forgotten that we were on our way to Baddeck; that
the whole purpose of the journey was to reach Baddeck; that St. John
was only an incident in the trip; that any information about St.
John, which is here thrown in or mercifully withheld, is entirely
gratuitous, and is not taken into account in the price the reader
pays for this volume. But if any one wants to know what sort of a
place St. John is, we can tell him: it is the sort of a place that if
you get into it after eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, you cannot
get out of it in any direction until Thursday morning at eight
o'clock, unless you want to smuggle goods on the night train to
Bangor. It was eleven o'clock Wednesday forenoon when we arrived at
St. John. The Intercolonial railway train had gone to Shediac; it
had gone also on its roundabout Moncton, Missaquat River, Truro,
Stewiack, and Shubenacadie way to Halifax; the boat had gone to Digby
Gut and Annapolis to catch the train that way for Halifax; the boat
had gone up the river to Frederick, the capital. We could go to none
of these places till the next day. We had no desire to go to
Frederick, but we made the fact that we were cut off from it an
addition to our injury. The people of St. John have this
peculiarity: they never start to go anywhere except early in the

The reader to whom time is nothing does not yet appreciate the
annoyance of our situation. Our time was strictly limited. The
active world is so constituted that it could not spare us more than
two weeks. We must reach Baddeck Saturday night or never. To go
home without seeing Baddeck was simply intolerable. Had we not told
everybody that we were going to Baddeck? Now, if we had gone to
Shediac in the train that left St. John that morning, we should have
taken the steamboat that would have carried us to Port Hawkesbury,
whence a stage connected with a steamboat on the Bras d'Or, which
(with all this profusion of relative pronouns) would land us at
Baddeck on Friday. How many times had we been over this route on the
map and the prospectus of travel! And now, what a delusion it
seemed! There would not another boat leave Shediac on this route
till the following Tuesday,--quite too late for our purpose. The
reader sees where we were, and will be prepared, if he has a map (and
any feelings), to appreciate the masterly strategy that followed.


During the pilgrimage everything does not suit the tastes of the

One seeking Baddeck, as a possession, would not like to be detained a
prisoner even in Eden,--much less in St. John, which is unlike Eden
in several important respects. The tree of knowledge does not grow
there, for one thing; at least St. John's ignorance of Baddeck
amounts to a feature. This encountered us everywhere. So dense was
this ignorance, that we, whose only knowledge of the desired place
was obtained from the prospectus of travel, came to regard ourselves
as missionaries of geographical information in this dark provincial

The clerk at the Victoria was not unwilling to help us on our
journey, but if he could have had his way, we would have gone to a
place on Prince Edward Island which used to be called Bedeque, but is
now named Summerside, in the hope of attracting summer visitors. As
to Cape Breton, he said the agent of the Intercolonial could tell us
all about that, and put us on the route. We repaired to the agent.
The kindness of this person dwells in our memory. He entered at once
into our longings and perplexities. He produced his maps and time-
tables, and showed us clearly what we already knew. The Port
Hawkesbury steamboat from Shediac for that week had gone, to be sure,
but we could take one of another line which would leave us at Pictou,
whence we could take another across to Port Hood, on Cape Breton.
This looked fair, until we showed the agent that there was no steamer
to Port Hood.

"Ah, then you can go another way. You can take the Intercolonial
railway round to Pictou, catch the steamer for Port Hawkesbury,
connect with the steamer on the Bras d'Or, and you are all right."

So it would seem. It was a most obliging agent; and it took us half
an hour to convince him that the train would reach Pictou half a day
too late for the steamer, that no other boat would leave Pictou for
Cape Breton that week, and that even if we could reach the Bras d'Or,
we should have no means of crossing it, except by swimming. The
perplexed agent thereupon referred us to Mr. Brown, a shipper on the
wharf, who knew all about Cape Breton, and could tell us exactly how
to get there. It is needless to say that a weight was taken off our
minds. We pinned our faith to Brown, and sought him in his
warehouse. Brown was a prompt business man, and a traveler, and
would know every route and every conveyance from Nova Scotia to Cape

Mr. Brown was not in. He never is in. His store is a rusty
warehouse, low and musty, piled full of boxes of soap and candles and
dried fish, with a little glass cubby in one corner, where a thin
clerk sits at a high desk, like a spider in his web. Perhaps he is a
spider, for the cubby is swarming with flies, whose hum is the only
noise of traffic; the glass of the window-sash has not been washed
since it was put in apparently. The clerk is not writing, and has
evidently no other use for his steel pen than spearing flies. Brown
is out, says this young votary of commerce, and will not be in till
half past five. We remark upon the fact that nobody ever is "in"
these dingy warehouses, wonder when the business is done, and go out
into the street to wait for Brown.

In front of the store is a dray, its horse fast-asleep, and waiting
for the revival of commerce. The travelers note that the dray is of
a peculiar construction, the body being dropped down from the axles
so as nearly to touch the ground,--a great convenience in loading and
unloading; they propose to introduce it into their native land. The
dray is probably waiting for the tide to come in. In the deep slip
lie a dozen helpless vessels, coasting schooners mostly, tipped on
their beam ends in the mud, or propped up by side-pieces as if they
were built for land as well as for water. At the end of the wharf is
a long English steamboat unloading railroad iron, which will return
to the Clyde full of Nova Scotia coal. We sit down on the dock,
where the fresh sea-breeze comes up the harbor, watch the lazily
swinging crane on the vessel, and meditate upon the greatness of
England and the peacefulness of the drowsy after noon. One's feeling
of rest is never complete--unless he can see somebody else at work,--
but the labor must be without haste, as it is in the Provinces.

While waiting for Brown, we had leisure to explore the shops of
King's Street, and to climb up to the grand triumphal arch which
stands on top of the hill and guards the entrance to King's Square.

Of the shops for dry-goods I have nothing to say, for they tempt the
unwary American to violate the revenue laws of his country; but he
may safely go into the book-shops. The literature which is displayed
in the windows and on the counters has lost that freshness which it
once may have had, and is, in fact, if one must use the term, fly-
specked, like the cakes in the grocery windows on the side streets.
There are old illustrated newspapers from the States, cheap novels
from the same, and the flashy covers of the London and Edinburgh
sixpenny editions. But this is the dull season for literature, we

It will always be matter of regret to us that we climbed up to the
triumphal arch, which appeared so noble in the distance, with the
trees behind it. For when we reached it, we found that it was built
of wood, painted and sanded, and in a shocking state of decay; and
the grove to which it admitted us was only a scant assemblage of
sickly locust-trees, which seemed to be tired of battling with the
unfavorable climate, and had, in fact, already retired from the
business of ornamental shade trees. Adjoining this square is an
ancient cemetery, the surface of which has decayed in sympathy with
the mouldering remains it covers, and is quite a model in this
respect. I have called this cemetery ancient, but it may not be so,
for its air of decay is thoroughly modern, and neglect, and not
years, appears to have made it the melancholy place of repose it is.
Whether it is the fashionable and favorite resort of the dead of the
city we did not learn, but there were some old men sitting in its
damp shades, and the nurses appeared to make it a rendezvous for
their baby-carriages,--a cheerful place to bring up children in, and
to familiarize their infant minds with the fleeting nature of
provincial life. The park and burying-ground, it is scarcely
necessary to say, added greatly to the feeling of repose which stole
over us on this sunny day. And they made us long for Brown and his
information about Baddeck.

But Mr. Brown, when found, did not know as much as the agent. He had
been in Nova Scotia; he had never been in Cape Breton; but he
presumed we would find no difficulty in reaching Baddeck by so and
so, and so and so. We consumed valuable time in convincing Brown
that his directions to us were impracticable and valueless, and then
he referred us to Mr. Cope. An interview with Mr. Cope discouraged
us; we found that we were imparting everywhere more geographical
inform-ation than we were receiving, and as our own stock was small,
we concluded that we should be unable to enlighten all the
inhabitants of St. John upon the subject of Baddeck before we ran
out. Returning to the hotel, and taking our destiny into our own
hands, we resolved upon a bold stroke.

But to return for a moment to Brown. I feel that Brown has been let
off too easily in the above paragraph. His conduct, to say the
truth, was not such as we expected of a man in whom we had put our
entire faith for half a day,--a long while to trust anybody in these
times,--a man whom we had exalted as an encyclopedia of information,
and idealized in every way. A man of wealth and liberal views and
courtly manners we had decided Brown would be. Perhaps he had a
suburban villa on the heights over-looking Kennebeckasis Bay, and,
recognizing us as brothers in a common interest in Baddeck, not-
withstanding our different nationality, would insist upon taking us
to his house, to sip provincial tea with Mrs. Brown and Victoria
Louise, his daughter. When, therefore, Mr. Brown whisked into his
dingy office, and, but for our importunity, would have paid no more
attention to us than to up-country customers without credit, and when
he proved to be willingly, it seemed to us, ignorant of Baddeck, our
feelings received a great shock. It is incomprehensible that a man
in the position of Brown with so many boxes of soap and candles to
dispose of--should be so ignorant of a neighboring province. We had
heard of the cordial unity of the Provinces in the New Dominion.
Heaven help it, if it depends upon such fellows as Brown! Of course,
his directing us to Cope was a mere fetch. For as we have intimated,
it would have taken us longer to have given Cope an idea of Baddeck,
than it did to enlighten Brown. But we had no bitter feelings about
Cope, for we never had reposed confidence in him.

Our plan of campaign was briefly this: To take the steamboat at eight
o'clock, Thursday morning, for Digby Gut and Annapolis; thence to go
by rail through the poetical Acadia down to Halifax; to turn north
and east by rail from Halifax to New Glasgow, and from thence to push
on by stage to the Gut of Canso. This would carry us over the entire
length of Nova Scotia, and, with good luck, land us on Cape Breton
Island Saturday morning. When we should set foot on that island, we
trusted that we should be able to make our way to Baddeck, by walk-
ing, swimming, or riding, whichever sort of locomotion should be most
popular in that province. Our imaginations were kindled by reading
that the "most superb line of stages on the continent" ran from New
Glasgow to the Gut of Canso. If the reader perfectly understands
this programme, he has the advantage of the two travelers at the time
they made it.

It was a gray morning when we embarked from St. John, and in fact a
little drizzle of rain veiled the Martello tower, and checked, like
the cross-strokes of a line engraving, the hill on which it stands.
The miscellaneous shining of such a harbor appears best in a golden
haze, or in the mist of a morning like this. We had expected days of
fog in this region; but the fog seemed to have gone out with the high
tides of the geography. And it is simple justice to these
possessions of her Majesty, to say that in our two weeks'
acquaintance of them they enjoyed as delicious weather as ever falls
on sea and shore, with the exception of this day when we crossed the
Bay of Fundy. And this day was only one of those cool interludes of
low color, which an artist would be thankful to introduce among a
group of brilliant pictures. Such a day rests the traveler, who is
overstimulated by shifting scenes played upon by the dazzling sun.
So the cool gray clouds spread a grateful umbrella above us as we ran
across the Bay of Fundy, sighted the headlands of the Gut of Digby,
and entered into the Annapolis Basin, and into the region of a
romantic history. The white houses of Digby, scattered over the
downs like a flock of washed sheep, had a somewhat chilly aspect, it
is true, and made us long for the sun on them. But as I think of it
now, I prefer to have the town and the pretty hillsides that stand
about the basin in the light we saw them; and especially do I like to
recall the high wooden pier at Digby, deserted by the tide and so
blown by the wind that the passengers who came out on it, with their
tossing drapery, brought to mind the windy Dutch harbors that
Backhuysen painted. We landed a priest here, and it was a pleasure
to see him as he walked along the high pier, his broad hat flapping,
and the wind blowing his long skirts away from his ecclesiastical

It was one of the coincidences of life, for which no one can account,
that when we descended upon these coasts, the Governor-General of the
Dominion was abroad in his Provinces. There was an air of expec-
tation of him everywhere, and of preparation for his coming; his
lordship was the subject of conversation on the Digby boat, his
movements were chronicled in the newspapers, and the gracious bearing
of the Governor and Lady Dufferin at the civic receptions, balls, and
picnics was recorded with loyal satisfaction; even a literary flavor
was given to the provincial journals by quotations from his
lordship's condescension to letters in the "High Latitudes." It was
not without pain, however, that even in this un-American region we
discovered the old Adam of journalism in the disposition of the
newspapers of St. John toward sarcasm touching the well-meant
attempts to entertain the Governor and his lady in the provincial
town of Halifax,--a disposition to turn, in short, upon the
demonstrations of loyal worship the faint light of ridicule. There
were those upon the boat who were journeying to Halifax to take part
in the civic ball about to be given to their excellencies, and as we
were going in the same direction, we shared in the feeling of
satisfaction which prox-imity to the Great often excites.

We had other if not deeper causes of satisfaction. We were sailing
along the gracefully moulded and tree-covered hills of the Annapolis
Basin, and up the mildly picturesque river of that name, and we were
about to enter what the provincials all enthusiastically call the
Garden of Nova Scotia. This favored vale, skirted by low ranges of
hills on either hand, and watered most of the way by the Annapolis
River, extends from the mouth of the latter to the town of Windsor on
the river Avon. We expected to see something like the fertile
valleys of the Connecticut or the Mohawk. We should also pass
through those meadows on the Basin of Minas which Mr. Longfellow has
made more sadly poetical than any other spot on the Western
Continent. It is,--this valley of the Annapolis,--in the belief of
provincials, the most beautiful and blooming place in the world, with
a soil and climate kind to the husbandman; a land of fair meadows,
orchards, and vines. It was doubtless our own fault that this land
did not look to us like a garden, as it does to the inhabitants of
Nova Scotia; and it was not until we had traveled over the rest of
the country, that we saw the appropriateness of the designation. The
explanation is, that not so much is required of a garden here as in
some other parts of the world. Excellent apples, none finer, are
exported from this valley to England, and the quality of the potatoes
is said to ap-proach an ideal perfection here. I should think that
oats would ripen well also in a good year, and grass, for those who
care for it, may be satisfactory. I should judge that the other
products of this garden are fish and building-stone. But we
anticipate. And have we forgotten the "murmuring pines and the
hemlocks"? Nobody, I suppose, ever travels here without believing
that he sees these trees of the imagination, so forcibly has the poet
projected them upon the uni-versal consciousness. But we were unable
to see them, on this route.

It would be a brutal thing for us to take seats in the railway train
at Annapolis, and leave the ancient town, with its modern houses and
remains of old fortifications, without a thought of the romantic
history which saturates the region. There is not much in the smart,
new restaurant, where a tidy waiting-maid skillfully depreciates our
currency in exchange for bread and cheese and ale, to recall the
early drama of the French discovery and settlement. For it is to the
French that we owe the poetical interest that still invests, like a
garment, all these islands and bays, just as it is to the Spaniards
that we owe the romance of the Florida coast. Every spot on this
continent that either of these races has touched has a color that is
wanting in the prosaic settlements of the English.

Without the historical light of French adventure upon this town and
basin of Annapolis, or Port Royal, as they were first named, I
confess that I should have no longing to stay here for a week;
notwithstanding the guide-book distinctly says that this harbor has
"a striking resemblance to the beautiful Bay of Naples." I am not
offended at this remark, for it is the one always made about a
harbor, and I am sure the passing traveler can stand it, if the Bay
of Naples can. And yet this tranquil basin must have seemed a haven
of peace to the first discoverers.

It was on a lovely summer day in 1604, that the Sieur de Monts and
his comrades, Champlain and the Baron de Poutrincourt, beating about
the shores of Nova Scotia, were invited by the rocky gateway of the
Port Royal Basin. They entered the small inlet, says Mr. Parkman,
when suddenly the narrow strait dilated into a broad and tranquil
basin, compassed with sunny hills, wrapped with woodland verdure and
alive with waterfalls. Poutrincourt was delighted with the scene,
and would fain remove thither from France with his family. Since
Poutrincourt's day, the hills have been somewhat denuded of trees,
and the waterfalls are not now in sight; at least, not under such a
gray sky as we saw.

The reader who once begins to look into the French occupancy of
Acadia is in danger of getting into a sentimental vein, and sentiment
is the one thing to be shunned in these days. Yet I cannot but stay,
though the train should leave us, to pay my respectful homage to one
of the most heroic of women, whose name recalls the most romantic
incident in the history of this region. Out of this past there rises
no figure so captivating to the imagination as that of Madame de la
Tour. And it is noticeable that woman has a curious habit of coming
to the front in critical moments of history, and performing some
exploit that eclipses in brilliancy all the deeds of contemporary
men; and the exploit usually ends in a pathetic tragedy, that fixes
it forever in the sympathy of the world. I need not copy out of the
pages of De Charlevoix the well-known story of Madame de la Tour; I
only wish he had told us more about her. It is here at Port Royal
that we first see her with her husband. Charles de St. Etienne, the
Chevalier de la Tour,--there is a world of romance in these mere
names,--was a Huguenot nobleman who had a grant of Port Royal and of
La Hive, from Louis XIII. He ceded La Hive to Razilli, the
governor-in-chief of the provinces, who took a fancy to it, for a
residence. He was living peacefully at Port Royal in 1647, when the
Chevalier d'Aunay Charnise, having succeeded his brother Razilli at
La Hive, tired of that place and removed to Port Royal. De Charnise
was a Catholic; the difference in religion might not have produced
any unpleasantness, but the two noblemen could not agree in dividing
the profits of the peltry trade,--each being covetous, if we may so
express it, of the hide of the savage continent, and determined to
take it off for himself. At any rate, disagreement arose, and De la
Tour moved over to the St. John, of which region his father had
enjoyed a grant from Charles I. of England,--whose sad fate it is not
necessary now to recall to the reader's mind,--and built a fort at
the mouth of the river. But the differences of the two ambitious
Frenchmen could not be composed. De la Tour obtained aid from
Governor Winthrop at Boston, thus verifying the Catholic prediction
that the Huguenots would side with the enemies of France on occasion.
De Charnise received orders from Louis to arrest De la Tour; but a
little preliminary to the arrest was the possession of the fort of
St. John, and this he could not obtain, although be sent all his
force against it. Taking advantage, however, of the absence of De la
Tour, who had a habit of roving about, he one day besieged St. John.
Madame de la Tour headed the little handful of men in the fort, and
made such a gallant resistance that De Charnise was obliged to draw
off his fleet with the loss of thirty-three men,--a very serious
loss, when the supply of men was as distant as France. But De
Charnise would not be balked by a woman; he attacked again; and this
time, one of the garrison, a Swiss, betrayed the fort, and let the
invaders into the walls by an unguarded entrance. It was Easter
morning when this misfortune occurred, but the peaceful influence of
the day did not avail. When Madame saw that she was betrayed, her
spirits did not quail; she took refuge with her little band in a
detached part of the fort, and there made such a bold show of
defense, that De Charnise was obliged to agree to the terms of her
surrender, which she dictated. No sooner had this unchivalrous
fellow obtained possession of the fort and of this Historic Woman,
than, overcome with a false shame that he had made terms with a
woman, he violated his noble word, and condemned to death all the
men, except one, who was spared on condition that he should be the
executioner of the others. And the poltroon compelled the brave
woman to witness the execution, with the added indignity of a rope
round her neck,--or as De Charlevoix much more neatly expresses it,
"obligea sa prisonniere d'assister a l'execution, la corde au cou."

To the shock of this horror the womanly spirit of Madame de la Tour
succumbed; she fell into a decline and died soon after. De la Tour,
himself an exile from his province, wandered about the New World in
his customary pursuit of peltry. He was seen at Quebec for two
years. While there, he heard of the death of De Charnise, and
straightway repaired to St. John. The widow of his late enemy
received him graciously, and he entered into possession of the estate
of the late occupant with the consent of all the heirs. To remove
all roots of bitterness, De la Tour married Madame de Charnise, and
history does not record any ill of either of them. I trust they had
the grace to plant a sweetbrier on the grave of the noble woman to
whose faithfulness and courage they owe their rescue from obscurity.
At least the parties to this singular union must have agreed to
ignore the lamented existence of the Chevalier d'Aunay.

With the Chevalier de la Tour, at any rate, it all went well
thereafter. When Cromwell drove the French from Acadia, he granted
great territorial rights to De la Tour, which that thrifty adventurer
sold out to one of his co-grantees for L16,000; and he no doubt
invested the money in peltry for the London market.

As we leave the station at Annapolis, we are obliged to put Madame de
la Tour out of our minds to make room for another woman whose name,
and we might say presence, fills all the valley before us. So it is
that woman continues to reign, where she has once got a foothold,
long after her dear frame has become dust. Evangeline, who is as
real a personage as Queen Esther, must have been a different woman
from Madame de la Tour. If the latter had lived at Grand Pre, she
would, I trust, have made it hot for the brutal English who drove the
Acadians out of their salt-marsh paradise, and have died in her
heroic shoes rather than float off into poetry. But if it should
come to the question of marrying the De la Tour or the Evangeline, I
think no man who was not engaged in the peltry trade would hesitate
which to choose. At any rate, the women who love have more influence
in the world than the women who fight, and so it happens that the
sentimental traveler who passes through Port Royal without a tear for
Madame de la Tour, begins to be in a glow of tender longing and
regret for Evangeline as soon as he enters the valley of the
Annapolis River. For myself, I expected to see written over the
railway crossings the legend,

"Look out for Evangeline while the bell rings."

When one rides into a region of romance he does not much notice his
speed or his carriage; but I am obliged to say that we were not
hurried up the valley, and that the cars were not too luxurious for
the plain people, priests, clergymen, and belles of the region, who
rode in them. Evidently the latest fashions had not arrived in the
Provinces, and we had an opportunity of studying anew those that had
long passed away in the States, and of remarking how inappropriate a
fashion is when it has ceased to be the fashion.

The river becomes small shortly after we leave Annapolis and before
we reach Paradise. At this station of happy appellation we looked
for the satirist who named it, but he has probably sold out and
removed. If the effect of wit is produced by the sudden recognition
of a remote resemblance, there was nothing witty in the naming of
this station. Indeed, we looked in vain for the "garden" appearance
of the valley. There was nothing generous in the small meadows or
the thin orchards; and if large trees ever grew on the bordering
hills, they have given place to rather stunted evergreens; the
scraggy firs and balsams, in fact, possess Nova Scotia generally as
we saw it,--and there is nothing more uninteresting and wearisome
than large tracts of these woods. We are bound to believe that Nova
Scotia has somewhere, or had, great pines and hemlocks that murmur,
but we were not blessed with the sight of them. Slightly picturesque
this valley is with its winding river and high hills guarding it, and
perhaps a person would enjoy a foot-tramp down it; but, I think he
would find little peculiar or interesting after he left the
neighborhood of the Basin of Minas.

Before we reached Wolfville we came in sight of this basin and some
of the estuaries and streams that run into it; that is, when the tide
goes out; but they are only muddy ditches half the time. The Acadia
College was pointed out to us at Wolfville by a person who said that
it is a feeble institution, a remark we were sorry to hear of a place
described as "one of the foremost seats of learning in the Province."
But our regret was at once extinguished by the announcement that the
next station was Grand Pre! We were within three miles of the most
poetic place in North America.

There was on the train a young man from Boston, who said that he was
born in Grand Pre. It seemed impossible that we should actually be
near a person so felicitously born. He had a justifiable pride in
the fact, as well as in the bride by his side, whom he was taking to
see for the first time his old home. His local information, imparted
to her, overflowed upon us; and when he found that we had read
"Evangeline," his delight in making us acquainted with the scene of
that poem was pleasant to see. The village of Grand Pre is a mile
from the station; and perhaps the reader would like to know exactly
what the traveler, hastening on to Baddeck, can see of the famous

We looked over a well-grassed meadow, seamed here and there by beds
of streams left bare by the receding tide, to a gentle swell in the
ground upon which is a not heavy forest growth. The trees partly
conceal the street of Grand Pre, which is only a road bordered by
common houses. Beyond is the Basin of Minas, with its sedgy shore,
its dreary flats; and beyond that projects a bold headland, standing
perpendicular against the sky. This is the Cape Blomidon, and it
gives a certain dignity to the picture.

The old Normandy picturesqueness has departed from the village of
Grand Pre. Yankee settlers, we were told, possess it now, and there
are no descendants of the French Acadians in this valley. I believe
that Mr. Cozzens found some of them in humble circumstances in a
village on the other coast, not far from Halifax, and it is there,
probably, that the

"Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun,
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story,
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."

At any rate, there is nothing here now except a faint tradition of
the French Acadians; and the sentimental traveler who laments that
they were driven out, and not left behind their dikes to rear their
flocks, and cultivate the rural virtues, and live in the simplicity
of ignorance, will temper his sadness by the reflection that it is to
the expulsion he owes "Evangeline" and the luxury of his romantic
grief. So that if the traveler is honest, and examines his own soul
faithfully, he will not know what state of mind to cherish as he
passes through this region of sorrow.

Our eyes lingered as long as possible and with all eagerness upon
these meadows and marshes which the poet has made immortal, and we
regretted that inexorable Baddeck would not permit us to be pilgrims
for a day in this Acadian land. Just as I was losing sight of the
skirt of trees at Grand Pre, a gentleman in the dress of a rural
clergyman left his seat, and complimented me with this remark: "I
perceive, sir, that you are fond of reading."

I could not but feel flattered by this unexpected discovery of my
nature, which was no doubt due to the fact that I held in my hand one
of the works of Charles Reade on social science, called "Love me
Little, Love me Long," and I said, "Of some kinds, I am."

"Did you ever see a work called 'Evangeline'?"

"Oh, yes, I have frequently seen it."

"You may remember," continued this Mass of Information, "that there
is an allusion in it to Grand Pre. That is the place, sir!"

"Oh, indeed, is that the place? Thank you."

"And that mountain yonder is Cape Blomidon, blow me down, you know."

And under cover of this pun, the amiable clergyman retired,
unconscious, I presume, of his prosaic effect upon the atmosphere of
the region. With this intrusion of the commonplace, I suffered an
eclipse of faith as to Evangeline, and was not sorry to have my
attention taken up by the river Avon, along the banks of which we
were running about this time. It is really a broad arm of the basin,
extending up to Windsor, and beyond in a small stream, and would have
been a charming river if there had been a drop of water in it. I
never knew before how much water adds to a river. Its slimy bottom
was quite a ghastly spectacle, an ugly gash in the land that nothing
could heal but the friendly returning tide. I should think it would
be confusing to dwell by a river that runs first one way and then the
other, and then vanishes altogether.

All the streams about this basin are famous for their salmon and
shad, and the season for these fish was not yet passed. There seems
to be an untraced affinity between the shad and the strawberry; they
appear and disappear in a region simultaneously. When we reached
Cape Breton, we were a day or two late for both. It is impossible
not to feel a little contempt for people who do not have these
luxuries till July and August; but I suppose we are in turn despised
by the Southerners because we do not have them till May and June.
So, a great part of the enjoyment of life is in the knowledge that
there are people living in a worse place than that you inhabit.

Windsor, a most respectable old town round which the railroad sweeps,
with its iron bridge, conspicuous King's College, and handsome church
spire, is a great place for plaster and limestone, and would be a
good location for a person interested in these substances. Indeed,
if a man can live on rocks, like a goat, he may settle anywhere
between Windsor and Halifax. It is one of the most sterile regions
in the Province. With the exception of a wild pond or two, we saw
nothing but rocks and stunted firs, for forty-five miles, a monotony
unrelieved by one picturesque feature. Then we longed for the
"Garden of Nova Scotia," and understood what is meant by the name.

A member of the Ottawa government, who was on his way to the
Governor-General's ball at Halifax, informed us that this country is
rich in minerals, in iron especially, and he pointed out spots where
gold had been washed out. But we do not covet it. And we were not
sorry to learn from this gentleman, that since the formation of the
Dominion, there is less and less desire in the Provinces for
annexation to the United States. One of the chief pleasures in
traveling in Nova Scotia now is in the constant reflection that you
are in a foreign country; and annexation would take that away.

It is nearly dark when we reach the head of the Bedford Basin. The
noble harbor of Halifax narrows to a deep inlet for three miles along
the rocky slope on which the city stands, and then suddenly expands
into this beautiful sheet of water. We ran along its bank for five
miles, cheered occasionally by a twinkling light on the shore, and
then came to a stop at the shabby terminus, three miles out of town.
This basin is almost large enough to float the navy of Great Britain,
and it could lie here, with the narrows fortified, secure from the
attacks of the American navy, hovering outside in the fog. With
these patriotic thoughts we enter the town. It is not the fault of
the railroad, but its present inability to climb a rocky hill, that
it does not run into the city. The suburbs are not impressive in the
night, but they look better then than they do in the daytime; and the
same might be said of the city itself. Probably there is not
anywhere a more rusty, forlorn town, and this in spite of its
magnificent situation.

It is a gala-night when we rattle down the rough streets, and have
pointed out to us the somber government buildings. The Halifax Club
House is a blaze of light, for the Governor-General is being received
there, and workmen are still busy decorating the Provincial Building
for the great ball. The city is indeed pervaded by his lordship, and
we regret that we cannot see it in its normal condition of quiet; the
hotels are full, and it is impossible to escape the festive feeling
that is abroad. It ill accords with our desires, as tranquil
travelers, to be plunged into such a vortex of slow dissipation.
These people take their pleasures more gravely than we do, and
probably will last the longer for their moderation. Having
ascertained that we can get no more information about Baddeck here
than in St. John, we go to bed early, for we are to depart from this
fascinating place at six o'clock.

If any one objects that we are not competent to pass judgment on the
city of Halifax by sleeping there one night, I beg leave to plead the
usual custom of travelers,--where would be our books of travel, if
more was expected than a night in a place?--and to state a few
facts. The first is, that I saw the whole of Halifax. If I were
inclined, I could describe it building by building. Cannot one see
it all from the citadel hill, and by walking down by the
horticultural garden and the Roman Catholic cemetery? and did not I
climb that hill through the most dilapidated rows of brown houses,
and stand on the greensward of the fortress at five o'clock in the
morning, and see the whole city, and the British navy riding at
anchor, and the fog coming in from the Atlantic Ocean? Let the
reader go to! and if he would know more of Halifax, go there. We
felt that if we remained there through the day, it would be a day of
idleness and sadness. I could draw a picture of Halifax. I could
relate its century of history; I could write about its free-school
system, and its many noble charities. But the reader always skips
such things. He hates information; and he himself would not stay in
this dull garrison town any longer than he was obliged to.

There was to be a military display that day in honor of the Governor.

"Why," I asked the bright and light-minded colored boy who sold
papers on the morning train, "don't you stay in the city and see it?"

"Pho," said he, with contempt, "I'm sick of 'em. Halifax is played
out, and I'm going to quit it."

The withdrawal of this lively trader will be a blow to the enterprise
of the place.

When I returned to the hotel for breakfast--which was exactly like
the supper, and consisted mainly of green tea and dry toast--there
was a commotion among the waiters and the hack-drivers over a nervous
little old man, who was in haste to depart for the morning train. He
was a specimen of provincial antiquity such as could not be seen
elsewhere. His costume was of the oddest: a long-waisted coat
reaching nearly to his heels, short trousers, a flowered silk vest,
and a napless hat. He carried his baggage tied up in mealbags, and
his attention was divided between that and two buxom daughters, who
were evidently enjoying their first taste of city life. The little
old man, who was not unlike a petrified Frenchman of the last
century, had risen before daylight, roused up his daughters, and had
them down on the sidewalk by four o'clock, waiting for hack, or
horse-car, or something to take them to the station. That he might
be a man of some importance at home was evident, but he had lost his
head in the bustle of this great town, and was at the mercy of all
advisers, none of whom could understand his mongrel language. As we
came out to take the horse-car, he saw his helpless daughters driven
off in one hack, while he was raving among his meal-bags on the
sidewalk. Afterwards we saw him at the station, flying about in the
greatest excitement, asking everybody about the train; and at last he
found his way into the private office of the ticket-seller. "Get out
of here! "roared that official. The old man persisted that he
wanted a ticket. "Go round to the window; clear out!" In a very
flustered state he was hustled out of the room. When he came to the
window and made known his destination, he was refused tickets,
because his train did not start for two hours yet!

This mercurial old gentleman only appears in these records because he
was the only person we saw in this Province who was in a hurry to do
anything, or to go anywhere.

We cannot leave Halifax without remarking that it is a city of great
private virtue, and that its banks are sound. The appearance of its
paper-money is not, however, inviting. We of the United States lead
the world in beautiful paper-money; and when I exchanged my crisp,
handsome greenbacks for the dirty, flimsy, ill-executed notes of the
Dominion, at a dead loss of value, I could not be reconciled to the
transaction. I sarcastically called the stuff I received
"Confederate money;" but probably no one was wounded by the severity;
for perhaps no one knew what a resemblance in badness there is
between the "Confederate" notes of our civil war and the notes of the
Dominion; and, besides, the Confederacy was too popular in the
Provinces for the name to be a reproach to them. I wish I had
thought of something more insulting to say.

By noon on Friday we came to New Glasgow, having passed through a
country where wealth is to be won by hard digging if it is won at
all; through Truro, at the head of the Cobequid Bay, a place
exhibiting more thrift than any we have seen. A pleasant enough
country, on the whole, is this which the road runs through up the
Salmon and down the East River. New Glasgow is not many miles from
Pictou, on the great Cumberland Strait; the inhabitants build
vessels, and strangers drive out from here to see the neighboring
coal mines. Here we were to dine and take the stage for a ride of
eighty miles to the Gut of Canso.

The hotel at New Glasgow we can commend as one of the most
unwholesome in the Province; but it is unnecessary to emphasize its
condition, for if the traveler is in search of dirty hotels, he will
scarcely go amiss anywhere in these regions. There seems to be a
fashion in diet which endures. The early travelers as well as the
later in these Atlantic provinces all note the prevalence of dry,
limp toast and green tea; they are the staples of all the meals;
though authorities differ in regard to the third element for
discouraging hunger: it is sometimes boiled salt-fish and sometimes
it is ham. Toast was probably an inspiration of the first woman of
this part of the New World, who served it hot; but it has become now
a tradition blindly followed, without regard to temperature; and the
custom speaks volumes for the non-inventiveness of woman. At the inn
in New Glasgow those who choose dine in their shirt-sleeves, and
those skilled in the ways of this table get all they want in seven
minutes. A man who understands the use of edged tools can get along
twice as fast with a knife and fork as he can with a fork alone.

But the stage is at the door; the coach and four horses answer the
advertisement of being "second to none on the continent." We mount
to the seat with the driver. The sun is bright; the wind is in the
southwest; the leaders are impatient to go; the start for the long
ride is propitious.

But on the back seat in the coach is the inevitable woman, young and
sickly, with the baby in her arms. The woman has paid her fare
through to Guysborough, and holds her ticket. It turns out, however,
that she wants to go to the district of Guysborough, to St. Mary's
Cross Roads, somewhere in it, and not to the village of Guysborough,
which is away down on Chedabucto Bay. (The reader will notice this
geographical familiarity.) And this stage does not go in the
direction of St. Mary's. She will not get out, she will not
surrender her ticket, nor pay her fare again. Why should she? And
the stage proprietor, the stage-driver, and the hostler mull over the
problem, and sit down on the woman's hair trunk in front of the
tavern to reason with her. The baby joins its voice from the coach
window in the clamor of the discussion. The baby prevails. The
stage company comes to a compromise, the woman dismounts, and we are
off, away from the white houses, over the sandy road, out upon a
hilly and not cheerful country. And the driver begins to tell us
stories of winter hardships, drifted highways, a land buried in snow,
and great peril to men and cattle.


"It was then summer, and the weather very fine; so pleased was I with
the country, in which I had never travelled before, that my delight
proved equal to my wonder."--BENVENUTO CELLINI.

There are few pleasures in life equal to that of riding on the
box-seat of a stagecoach, through a country unknown to you and
hearing the driver talk about his horses. We made the intimate
acquaintance of twelve horses on that day's ride, and learned the
peculiar disposition and traits of each one of them, their ambition
of display, their sensitiveness to praise or blame, their
faithfulness, their playfulness, the readiness with which they
yielded to kind treatment, their daintiness about food and lodging.

May I never forget the spirited little jade, the off-leader in the
third stage, the petted belle of the route, the nervous, coquettish,
mincing mare of Marshy Hope. A spoiled beauty she was; you could see
that as she took the road with dancing step, tossing her pretty head
about, and conscious of her shining black coat and her tail done up
"in any simple knot,"--like the back hair of Shelley's Beatrice
Cenci. How she ambled and sidled and plumed herself, and now and
then let fly her little heels high in air in mere excess of larkish

"So! girl; so! Kitty," murmurs the driver in the softest tones of
admiration; "she don't mean anything by it, she's just like a

But the heels keep flying above the traces, and by and by the driver
is obliged to "speak hash" to the beauty. The reproof of the
displeased tone is evidently felt, for she settles at once to her
work, showing perhaps a little impatience, jerking her head up and
down, and protesting by her nimble movements against the more
deliberate trot of her companion. I believe that a blow from the
cruel lash would have broken her heart; or else it would have made a
little fiend of the spirited creature. The lash is hardly ever good
for the sex.

For thirteen years, winter and summer, this coachman had driven this
monotonous, uninteresting route, with always the same sandy hills,
scrubby firs, occasional cabins, in sight. What a time to nurse his
thought and feed on his heart! How deliberately he can turn things
over in his brain! What a system of philosophy he might evolve out
of his consciousness! One would think so. But, in fact, the
stagebox is no place for thinking. To handle twelve horses every
day, to keep each to its proper work, stimulating the lazy and
restraining the free, humoring each disposition, so that the greatest
amount of work shall be obtained with the least friction, making each
trip on time, and so as to leave each horse in as good condition at
the close as at the start, taking advantage of the road, refreshing
the team by an occasional spurt of speed,--all these things require
constant attention; and if the driver was composing an epic, the
coach might go into the ditch, or, if no accident happened, the
horses would be worn out in a month, except for the driver's care.

I conclude that the most delicate and important occupation in life is
stage-driving. It would be easier to "run" the Treasury Department
of the United States than a four-in-hand. I have a sense of the
unimportance of everything else in comparison with this business in
hand. And I think the driver shares that feeling. He is the
autocrat of the situation. He is lord of all the humble passengers,
and they feel their inferiority. They may have knowledge and skill
in some things, but they are of no use here. At all the stables the
driver is king; all the people on the route are deferential to him;
they are happy if he will crack a joke with them, and take it as a
favor if he gives them better than they send. And it is his joke
that always raises the laugh, regardless of its quality.

We carry the royal mail, and as we go along drop little sealed canvas
bags at way offices. The bags would not hold more than three pints
of meal, and I can see that there is nothing in them. Yet somebody
along here must be expecting a letter, or they would not keep up the
mail facilities. At French River we change horses. There is a mill
here, and there are half a dozen houses, and a cranky bridge, which
the driver thinks will not tumble down this trip. The settlement may
have seen better days, and will probably see worse.

I preferred to cross the long, shaky wooden bridge on foot, leaving
the inside passengers to take the risk, and get the worth of their
money; and while the horses were being put to, I walked on over the
hill. And here I encountered a veritable foot-pad, with a club in
his hand and a bundle on his shoulder, coming down the dusty road,
with the wild-eyed aspect of one who travels into a far country in
search of adventure. He seemed to be of a cheerful and sociable
turn, and desired that I should linger and converse with him. But he
was more meagerly supplied with the media of conversation than any
person I ever met. His opening address was in a tongue that failed
to convey to me the least idea. I replied in such language as I had
with me, but it seemed to be equally lost upon him. We then fell
back upon gestures and ejaculations, and by these I learned that he
was a native of Cape Breton, but not an aborigine. By signs he asked
me where I came from, and where I was going; and he was so much
pleased with my destination, that he desired to know my name; and
this I told him with all the injunction of secrecy I could convey;
but he could no more pronounce it than I could speak his name. It
occurred to me that perhaps he spoke a French patois, and I asked
him; but he only shook his head. He would own neither to German nor
Irish. The happy thought came to me of inquiring if he knew English.
But he shook his head again, and said,

"No English, plenty garlic."

This was entirely incomprehensible, for I knew that garlic is not a
language, but a smell. But when he had repeated the word several
times, I found that he meant Gaelic; and when we had come to this
understanding, we cordially shook hands and willingly parted. One
seldom encounters a wilder or more good-natured savage than this
stalwart wanderer. And meeting him raised my hopes of Cape Breton.

We change horses again, for the last stage, at Marshy Hope. As we
turn down the hill into this place of the mournful name, we dash past
a procession of five country wagons, which makes way for us:
everything makes way for us; even death itself turns out for the
stage with four horses. The second wagon carries a long box, which
reveals to us the mournful errand of the caravan. We drive into the
stable, and get down while the fresh horses are put to. The
company's stables are all alike, and open at each end with great
doors. The stable is the best house in the place; there are three or
four houses besides, and one of them is white, and has vines growing
over the front door, and hollyhocks by the front gate. Three or four
women, and as many barelegged girls, have come out to look at the
proces-sion, and we lounge towards the group.

"It had a winder in the top of it, and silver handles," says one.

"Well, I declare; and you could 'a looked right in?"

"If I'd been a mind to."

"Who has died?" I ask.

"It's old woman Larue; she lived on Gilead Hill, mostly alone. It's
better for her."

"Had she any friends?"

"One darter. They're takin' her over Eden way, to bury her where she
come from."

"Was she a good woman?" The traveler is naturally curious to know
what sort of people die in Nova Scotia.

"Well, good enough. Both her husbands is dead."

The gossips continued talking of the burying. Poor old woman Larue!
It was mournful enough to encounter you for the only time in this
world in this plight, and to have this glimpse of your wretched life
on lonesome Gilead Hill. What pleasure, I wonder, had she in her
life, and what pleasure have any of these hard-favored women in this
doleful region? It is pitiful to think of it. Doubtless, however,
the region isn't doleful, and the sentimental traveler would not have
felt it so if he had not encountered this funereal flitting.

But the horses are in. We mount to our places; the big doors swing

"Stand away," cries the driver.

The hostler lets go Kitty's bridle, the horses plunge forward, and we
are off at a gallop, taking the opposite direction from that pursued
by old woman Larue.

This last stage is eleven miles, through a pleasanter country, and we
make it in a trifle over an hour, going at an exhilarating gait, that
raises our spirits out of the Marshy Hope level. The perfection of
travel is ten miles an hour, on top of a stagecoach; it is greater
speed than forty by rail. It nurses one's pride to sit aloft, and
rattle past the farmhouses, and give our dust to the cringing foot
tramps. There is something royal in the swaying of the coach body,
and an excitement in the patter of the horses' hoofs. And what an
honor it must be to guide such a machine through a region of rustic

The sun has set when we come thundering down into the pretty Catholic
village of Antigonish,--the most home-like place we have seen on the
island. The twin stone towers of the unfinished cathedral loom up
large in the fading light, and the bishop's palace on the hill--the
home of the Bishop of Arichat--appears to be an imposing white barn
with many staring windows. At Antigonish--with the emphasis on the
last syllable--let the reader know there is a most comfortable inn,
kept by a cheery landlady, where the stranger is served by the comely
handmaidens, her daughters, and feels that he has reached a home at
last. Here we wished to stay. Here we wished to end this weary
pilgrimage. Could Baddeck be as attractive as this peaceful valley?
Should we find any inn on Cape Breton like this one?

"Never was on Cape Breton," our driver had said; "hope I never shall
be. Heard enough about it. Taverns? You'll find 'em occupied."



"But it is a lovely country?"

"I don't think it."

Into what unknown dangers were we going? Why not stay here and be
happy? It was a soft summer night. People were loitering in the
street; the young beaux of the place going up and down with the
belles, after the leisurely manner in youth and summer; perhaps they
were students from St. Xavier College, or visiting gallants from
Guysborough. They look into the post-office and the fancy store.
They stroll and take their little provincial pleasure and make love,
for all we can see, as if Antigonish were a part of the world. How
they must look down on Marshy Hope and Addington Forks and Tracadie!
What a charming place to live in is this!

But the stage goes on at eight o'clock. It will wait for no man.
There is no other stage till eight the next night, and we have no
alternative but a night ride. We put aside all else except duty and
Baddeck. This is strictly a pleasure-trip.

The stage establishment for the rest of the journey could hardly be
called the finest on the continent. The wagon was drawn by two
horses. It was a square box, covered with painted cloth. Within
were two narrow seats, facing each other, affording no room for the
legs of passengers, and offering them no position but a strictly
upright one. It was a most ingeniously uncomfortable box in which to
put sleepy travelers for the night. The weather would be chilly
before morning, and to sit upright on a narrow board all night, and
shiver, is not cheerful. Of course, the reader says that this is no
hardship to talk about. But the reader is mistaken. Anything is a
hardship when it is unpleasantly what one does not desire or expect.
These travelers had spent wakeful nights, in the forests, in a cold
rain, and never thought of complaining. It is useless to talk about
the Polar sufferings of Dr. Kane to a guest at a metropolitan hotel,
in the midst of luxury, when the mosquito sings all night in his ear,
and his mutton-chop is overdone at breakfast. One does not like to
be set up for a hero in trifles, in odd moments, and in inconspicuous

There were two passengers besides ourselves, inhabitants of Cape
Breton Island, who were returning from Halifax to Plaster Cove, where
they were engaged in the occupation of distributing alcoholic liquors
at retail. This fact we ascertained incidentally, as we learned the
nationality of our comrades by their brogue, and their religion by
their lively ejaculations during the night. We stowed ourselves into
the rigid box, bade a sorrowing good-night to the landlady and her
daughters, who stood at the inn door, and went jingling down the
street towards the open country.

The moon rises at eight o'clock in Nova Scotia. It came above the
horizon exactly as we began our journey, a harvest-moon, round and
red. When I first saw it, it lay on the edge of the horizon as if
too heavy to lift itself, as big as a cart-wheel, and its disk cut by
a fence-rail. With what a flood of splendor it deluged farmhouses
and farms, and the broad sweep of level country! There could not be
a more magnificent night in which to ride towards that geographical
mystery of our boyhood, the Gut of Canso.

A few miles out of town the stage stopped in the road before a post-
station. An old woman opened the door of the farmhouse to receive
the bag which the driver carried to her. A couple of sprightly
little girls rushed out to "interview" the passengers, climbing up
to ask their names and, with much giggling, to get a peep at their
faces. And upon the handsomeness or ugliness of the faces they saw
in the moonlight they pronounced with perfect candor. We are not
obliged to say what their verdict was. Girls here, no doubt, as
elsewhere, lose this trustful candor as they grow older.

Just as we were starting, the old woman screamed out from the door,
in a shrill voice, addressing the driver, "Did you see ary a sick man
'bout 'Tigonish?"


"There's one been round here for three or four days, pretty bad off;
's got the St. Vitus's. He wanted me to get him some medicine for it
up to Antigonish. I've got it here in a vial, and I wished you could
take it to him."

"Where is he?"

"I dunno. I heern he'd gone east by the Gut. Perhaps you'll hear of
him." All this screamed out into the night.

"Well, I'll take it."

We took the vial aboard and went on; but the incident powerfully
affected us. The weird voice of the old woman was exciting in it-
self, and we could not escape the image of this unknown man, dancing
about this region without any medicine, fleeing perchance by night
and alone, and finally flitting away down the Gut of Canso. This
fugitive mystery almost immediately shaped itself into the following
simple poem:

"There was an old man of Canso,
Unable to sit or stan' so.
When I asked him why he ran so,
Says he, 'I've St. Vitus' dance so,
All down the Gut of Canso.'"

This melancholy song is now, I doubt not, sung by the maidens of

In spite of the consolations of poetry, however, the night wore on
slowly, and soothing sleep tried in vain to get a lodgment in the
jolting wagon. One can sleep upright, but not when his head is every
moment knocked against the framework of a wagon-cover. Even a jolly
young Irishman of Plaster Cove, whose nature it is to sleep under
whatever discouragement, is beaten by these circumstances. He wishes
he had his fiddle along. We never know what men are on casual
acquaintance. This rather stupid-looking fellow is a devotee of
music, and knows how to coax the sweetness out of the unwilling
violin. Sometimes he goes miles and miles on winter nights to draw
the seductive bow for the Cape Breton dancers, and there is
enthusiasm in his voice, as he relates exploits of fiddling from
sunset till the dawn of day. Other information, however, the young
man has not; and when this is exhausted, he becomes sleepy again, and
tries a dozen ways to twist himself into a posture in which sleep
will be possible. He doubles up his legs, he slides them under the
seat, he sits on the wagon bottom; but the wagon swings and jolts and
knocks him about. His patience under this punishment is admirable,
and there is something pathetic in his restraint from profanity.

It is enough to look out upon the magnificent night; the moon is now
high, and swinging clear and distant; the air has grown chilly; the
stars cannot be eclipsed by the greater light, but glow with a
chastened fervor. It is on the whole a splendid display for the sake
of four sleepy men, banging along in a coach,--an insignificant
little vehicle with two horses. No one is up at any of the
farmhouses to see it; no one appears to take any interest in it,
except an occasional baying dog, or a rooster that has mistaken the
time of night. By midnight we come to Tracadie, an orchard, a
farmhouse, and a stable. We are not far from the sea now, and can
see a silver mist in the north. An inlet comes lapping up by the old
house with a salty smell and a suggestion of oyster-beds. We knock
up the sleeping hostlers, change. horses, and go on again, dead
sleepy, but unable to get a wink. And all the night is blazing with
beauty. We think of the criminal who was sentenced to be kept awake
till he died.

The fiddler makes another trial. Temperately remarking, "I am very
sleepy," he kneels upon the floor and rests his head on the seat.
This position for a second promises repose; but almost immediately
his head begins to pound the seat, and beat a lively rat-a-plan on
the board. The head of a wooden idol couldn't stand this treatment
more than a minute. The fiddler twisted and turned, but his head
went like a triphammer on the seat. I have never seen a devotional
attitude so deceptive, or one that produced less favorable results.
The young man rose from his knees, and meekly said,

"It's dam hard."

If the recording angel took down this observation, he doubtless made
a note of the injured tone in which it was uttered.

How slowly the night passes to one tipping and swinging along in a
slowly moving stage! But the harbinger of the day came at last.
When the fiddler rose from his knees, I saw the morning-star burst
out of the east like a great diamond, and I knew that Venus was
strong enough to pull up even the sun, from whom she is never distant
more than an eighth of the heavenly circle. The moon could not put
her out of countenance. She blazed and scintillated with a dazzling
brilliance, a throbbing splendor, that made the moon seem a pale,
sentimental invention. Steadily she mounted, in her fresh beauty,
with the confidence and vigor of new love, driving her more domestic
rival out of the sky. And this sort of thing, I suppose, goes on
frequently. These splendors burn and this panorama passes night
after night down at the end of Nova Scotia, and all for the stage-
driver, dozing along on his box, from Antigonish to the strait.

"Here you are," cries the driver, at length, when we have become
wearily indifferent to where we are. We have reached the ferry. The
dawn has not come, but it is not far off. We step out and find a
chilly morning, and the dark waters of the Gut of Canso flowing
before us lighted here and there by a patch of white mist. The
ferryman is asleep, and his door is shut. We call him by all the
names known among men. We pound upon his house, but he makes no
sign. Before he awakes and comes out, growling, the sky in the east
is lightened a shade, and the star of the dawn sparkles less
brilliantly. But the process is slow. The twilight is long. There
is a surprising deliberation about the preparation of the sun for
rising, as there is in the movements of the boatman. Both appear to
be reluctant to begin the day.

The ferryman and his shaggy comrade get ready at last, and we step
into the clumsy yawl, and the slowly moving oars begin to pull us
upstream. The strait is here less than a mile wide; the tide is
running strongly, and the water is full of swirls,--the little
whirlpools of the rip-tide. The morning-star is now high in the sky;
the moon, declining in the west, is more than ever like a silver
shield; along the east is a faint flush of pink. In the increasing
light we can see the bold shores of the strait, and the square
projection of Cape Porcupine below.

On the rocks above the town of Plaster Cove, where there is a black
and white sign,--Telegraph Cable,--we set ashore our companions of
the night, and see them climb up to their station for retailing the
necessary means of intoxication in their district, with the mournful
thought that we may never behold them again.

As we drop down along the shore, there is a white sea-gull asleep on
the rock, rolled up in a ball, with his head under his wing. The
rock is dripping with dew, and the bird is as wet as his hard bed.
We pass within an oar's length of him, but he does not heed us, and
we do not disturb his morning slumbers. For there is no such cruelty
as the waking of anybody out of a morning nap.

When we land, and take up our bags to ascend the hill to the white
tavern of Port Hastings (as Plaster Cove now likes to be called), the
sun lifts himself slowly over the treetops, and the magic of the
night vanishes.

And this is Cape Breton, reached after almost a week of travel. Here
is the Gut of Canso, but where is Baddeck? It is Saturday morning;
if we cannot make Baddeck by night, we might as well have remained in
Boston. And who knows what we shall find if we get there? A forlorn
fishing-station, a dreary hotel? Suppose we cannot get on, and are
forced to stay here? Asking ourselves these questions, we enter the
Plaster Cove tavern. No one is stirring, but the house is open, and
we take possession of the dirty public room, and almost immediately
drop to sleep in the fluffy rocking-chairs; but even sleep is not
strong enough to conquer our desire to push on, and we soon rouse up
and go in pursuit of information.

No landlord is to be found, but there is an unkempt servant in the
kitchen, who probably does not see any use in making her toilet more
than once a week. To this fearful creature is intrusted the dainty
duty of preparing breakfast. Her indifference is equal to her lack
of information, and her ability to convey information is fettered by
her use of Gaelic as her native speech. But she directs us to the
stable. There we find a driver hitching his horses to a two-horse

"Is this stage for Baddeck?"

"Not much."

"Is there any stage for Baddeck?"

"Not to-day."

"Where does this go, and when?"

"St. Peter's. Starts in fifteen minutes."

This seems like "business," and we are inclined to try it, especially
as we have no notion where St. Peter's is.

"Does any other stage go from here to-day anywhere else?"

"Yes. Port Hood. Quarter of an hour."

Everything was about to happen in fifteen minutes. We inquire
further. St. Peter's is on the east coast, on the road to Sydney.
Port Hood is on the west coast. There is a stage from Port Hood to
Baddeck. It would land us there some time Sunday morning; distance,
eighty miles.

Heavens! what a pleasure-trip. To ride eighty miles more without
sleep! We should simply be delivered dead on the Bras d'Or; that is
all. Tell us, gentle driver, is there no other way?

"Well, there's Jim Hughes, come over at midnight with a passenger
from Baddeck; he's in the hotel now; perhaps he'll take you."

Our hope hung on Jim Hughes. The frowzy servant piloted us up to his
sleeping-room. "Go right in," said she; and we went in, according to
the simple custom of the country, though it was a bedroom that one
would not enter except on business. Mr. Hughes did not like to be
disturbed, but he proved himself to be a man who could wake up
suddenly, shake his head, and transact business,--a sort of Napoleon,
in fact. Mr. Hughes stared at the intruders for a moment, as if he
meditated an assault.

"Do you live in Baddeck?" we asked.

"No; Hogamah,--half-way there."

"Will you take us to Baddeck to-day?"

Mr. Hughes thought. He had intended to sleep--till noon. He had
then intended to go over the Judique Mountain and get a boy. But he
was disposed to accommodate. Yes, for money--sum named--he would
give up his plans, and start for Baddeck in an hour. Distance, sixty
miles. Here was a man worth having; he could come to a decision
before he was out of bed. The bargain was closed.

We would have closed any bargain to escape a Sunday in the Plaster
Cove hotel. There are different sorts of hotel uncleanliness. There
is the musty old inn, where the dirt has accumulated for years, and
slow neglect has wrought a picturesque sort of dilapidation, the
mouldiness of time, which has something to recommend it. But there
is nothing attractive in new nastiness, in the vulgar union of
smartness and filth. A dirty modern house, just built, a house
smelling of poor whiskey and vile tobacco, its white paint grimy, its
floors unclean, is ever so much worse than an old inn that never
pretended to be anything but a rookery. I say nothing against the
hotel at Plaster Cove. In fact, I recommend it. There is a kind of
harmony about it that I like. There is a harmony between the
breakfast and the frowzy Gaelic cook we saw "sozzling" about in the
kitchen. There is a harmony between the appearance of the house and
the appearance of the buxom young housekeeper who comes upon the
scene later, her hair saturated with the fatty matter of the bear.
The traveler will experience a pleasure in paying his bill and

Although Plaster Cove seems remote on the map, we found that we were
right in the track of the world's news there. It is the transfer
station of the Atlantic Cable Company, where it exchanges messages
with the Western Union. In a long wooden building, divided into two
main apartments, twenty to thirty operators are employed. At eight
o'clock the English force was at work receiving the noon messages
from London. The American operators had not yet come on, for New
York business would not begin for an hour. Into these rooms is
poured daily the news of the world, and these young fellows toss it
about as lightly as if it were household gossip. It is a marvelous
exchange, however, and we had intended to make some reflections here
upon the en rapport feeling, so to speak, with all the world, which
we experienced while there; but our conveyance was waiting. We
telegraphed our coming to Baddeck, and departed. For twenty-five
cents one can send a dispatch to any part of the Dominion, except the
region where the Western Union has still a foothold.

Our conveyance was a one-horse wagon, with one seat. The horse was
well enough, but the seat was narrow for three people, and the entire
establishment had in it not much prophecy of Baddeck for that day.
But we knew little of the power of Cape Breton driving. It became
evident that we should reach Baddeck soon enough, if we could cling
to that wagon-seat. The morning sun was hot. The way was so
uninteresting that we almost wished ourselves back in Nova Scotia.
The sandy road was bordered with discouraged evergreens, through
which we had glimpses of sand-drifted farms. If Baddeck was to be
like this, we had come on a fool's errand. There were some savage,
low hills, and the Judique Mountain showed itself as we got away from
the town. In this first stage, the heat of the sun, the monotony of
the road, and the scarcity of sleep during the past thirty-six hours
were all unfavorable to our keeping on the wagon-seat. We nodded
separately, we nodded and reeled in unison. But asleep or awake, the
driver drove like a son of Jehu. Such driving is the fashion on Cape
Breton Island. Especially downhill, we made the most of it; if the
horse was on a run, that was only an inducement to apply the lash;
speed gave the promise of greater possible speed. The wagon rattled
like a bark-mill; it swirled and leaped about, and we finally got the
exciting impression that if the whole thing went to pieces, we should
somehow go on,--such was our impetus. Round corners, over ruts and
stones, and uphill and down, we went jolting and swinging, holding
fast to the seat, and putting our trust in things in general. At the
end of fifteen miles, we stopped at a Scotch farmhouse, where the
driver kept a relay, and changed horse.

The people were Highlanders, and spoke little English; we had struck
the beginning of the Gaelic settlement. From here to Hogamah we
should encounter only the Gaelic tongue; the inhabitants are all
Catholics. Very civil people, apparently, and living in a kind of
niggardly thrift, such as the cold land affords. We saw of this
family the old man, who had come from Scotland fifty years ago, his
stalwart son, six feet and a half high, maybe, and two buxom
daughters, going to the hay-field,--good solid Scotch lassies, who
smiled in English, but spoke only Gaelic. The old man could speak a
little English, and was disposed to be both communicative and
inquisitive. He asked our business, names, and residence. Of the
United States he had only a dim conception, but his mind rather
rested upon the statement that we lived "near Boston." He complained
of the degeneracy of the times. All the young men had gone away from
Cape Breton; might get rich if they would stay and work the farms.
But no one liked to work nowadays. From life, we diverted the talk
to literature. We inquired what books they had.

"Of course you all have the poems of Burns?"

"What's the name o' the mon?"

"Burns, Robert Burns."

"Never heard tell of such a mon. Have heard of Robert Bruce. He was
a Scotchman."

This was nothing short of refreshing, to find a Scotchman who had
never heard of Robert Burns! It was worth the whole journey to take
this honest man by the hand. How far would I not travel to talk with
an American who had never heard of George Washington!

The way was more varied during the next stage; we passed through some
pleasant valleys and picturesque neighborhoods, and at length,
winding around the base of a wooded range, and crossing its point, we
came upon a sight that took all the sleep out of us. This was the
famous Bras d'Or.

The Bras d'Or is the most beautiful salt-water lake I have ever seen,
and more beautiful than we had imagined a body of salt water could
be. If the reader will take the map, he will see that two narrow
estuaries, the Great and the Little Bras d'Or, enter the island of
Cape Breton, on the ragged northeast coast, above the town of Sydney,
and flow in, at length widening out and occupying the heart of the
island. The water seeks out all the low places, and ramifies the
interior, running away into lovely bays and lagoons, leaving slender
tongues of land and picturesque islands, and bringing into the
recesses of the land, to the remote country farms and settlements,
the flavor of salt, and the fish and mollusks of the briny sea.
There is very little tide at any time, so that the shores are clean
and sightly for the most part, like those of fresh-water lakes. It
has all the pleasantness of a fresh-water lake, with all the
advantages of a salt one. In the streams which run into it are the
speckled trout, the shad, and the salmon; out of its depths are
hooked the cod and the mackerel, and in its bays fattens the oyster.
This irregular lake is about a hundred miles long, if you measure it
skillfully, and in some places ten miles broad; but so indented is
it, that I am not sure but one would need, as we were informed, to
ride a thousand miles to go round it, following all its incursions
into the land. The hills about it are never more than five or six
hundred feet high, but they are high enough for reposeful beauty, and
offer everywhere pleasing lines.

What we first saw was an inlet of the Bras d'Or, called, by the
driver, Hogamah Bay. At its entrance were long, wooded islands,
beyond which we saw the backs of graceful hills, like the capes of

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