Part 2 out of 5
with his air of patient waiting and observation. Irene used to say that
her father ought to write a book--"Life as Seen from Hotel Piazzas." His
only idea of recreation when away from business seemed to be sitting
about on them.
"The women-folks," he explained to Mr. King, who took a chair beside him,
"won't be down for an hour yet. I like, myself, to see the show open."
"Are there many people here?"
"I guess the house is full enough. But I can't find out that anybody is
actually stopping here, except ourselves and a lot of schoolmarms come to
attend a convention. They seem to enjoy it. The rest, those I've talked
with, just happen to be here for a day or so, never have been to a hotel
in Newport before, always stayed in a cottage, merely put up here now to
visit friends in cottages. You'll see that none of them act like they
belonged to the hotel. Folks are queer."
At a place we were last summer all the summer boarders, in boarding-
houses round, tried to act like they were staying at the big hotel, and
the hotel people swelled about on the fact of being at a hotel. Here
you're nobody. I hired a carriage by the week, driver in buttons, and
all that. It don't make any difference. I'll bet a gold dollar every
cottager knows it's hired, and probably they think by the drive."
"It's rather stupid, then, for you and the ladies."
"Not a bit of it. It's the nicest place in America: such grass, such
horses, such women, and the drive round the island--there's nothing like
it in the country. We take it every day. Yes, it would be a little
lonesome but for the ocean. It's a good deal like a funeral procession,
nobody ever recognizes you, not even the hotel people who are in hired
hacks. If I were to come again, Mr. King, I'd come in a yacht, drive up
from it in a box on two wheels, with a man clinging on behind with his
back to me, and have a cottage with an English gardener. That would
fetch 'em. Money won't do it, not at a hotel. But I'm not sure but I
like this way best. It's an occupation for a man to keep up a cottage."
"And so you do not find it dull?"
"No. When we aren't out riding, she and Irene go on to the cliffs, and I
sit here and talk real estate. It's about all there is to talk of."
There was an awkward moment or two when the two parties met in the lobby
and were introduced before going in to breakfast. There was a little
putting up of guards on the part of the ladies. Between Irene and Marion
passed that rapid glance of inspection, that one glance which includes a
study and the passing of judgment upon family, manners, and dress, down
to the least detail. It seemed to be satisfactory, for after a few words
of civility the two girls walked in together, Irene a little dignified,
to be sure, and Marion with her wistful, half-inquisitive expression.
Mr. King could not be mistaken in thinking Irene's manner a little
constrained and distant to him, and less cordial than it was to Mr.
Forbes, but the mother righted the family balance.
"I'm right glad you've come, Mr. King. It's like seeing somebody from
home. I told Irene that when you came I guess we should know somebody.
It's an awful fashionable place."
"And you have no acquaintances here?"
"No, not really. There's Mrs. Peabody has a cottage here, what they call
a cottage, but there no such house in Cyrusville. We drove past it.
Her daughter was to school with Irene. We've met 'em out riding several
times, and Sally (Miss Peabody) bowed to Irene, and pa and I bowed to
everybody, but they haven't called. Pa says it's because we are at a
hotel, but I guess it's been company or something. They were real good
friends at school."
Mr. King laughed. "Oh, Mrs. Benson, the Peabodys were nobodys only a few
years ago. I remember when they used to stay at one of the smaller
"Well, they seem nice, stylish people, and I'm sorry on Irene's account."
At breakfast the party had topics enough in common to make conversation
lively. The artist was sure he should be delighted with the beauty and
finish of Newport. Miss Lamont doubted if she should enjoy it as much as
the freedom and freshness of the Catskills. Mr. King amused himself with
drawing out Miss Benson on the contrast with Atlantic City. The dining-
room was full of members of the Institute, in attendance upon the annual
meeting, graybearded, long-faced educators, devotees of theories and
systems, known at a glance by a certain earnestness of manner and
intensity of expression, middle-aged women of a resolute, intellectual
countenance, and a great crowd of youthful schoolmistresses, just on the
dividing line between domestic life and self-sacrifice, still full of
sentiment, and still leaning perhaps more to Tennyson and Lowell than to
mathematics and Old English.
"They have a curious, mingled air of primness and gayety, as if gayety
were not quite proper," the artist began. "Some of them look downright
interesting, and I've no doubt they are all excellent women."
"I've no doubt they are all good as gold," put in Mr. King. "These women
are the salt of New England." (Irene looked up quickly and
appreciatively at the speaker.) "No fashionable nonsense about them.
What's in you, Forbes, to shy so at a good woman?"
"I don't shy at a good woman--but three hundred of them! I don't want
all my salt in one place. And see here--I appeal to you, Miss Lamont--
why didn't these girls dress simply, as they do at home, and not attempt
a sort of ill-fitting finery that is in greater contrast to Newport than
simplicity would be?"
"If you were a woman," said Marion, looking demurely, not at Mr. Forbes,
but at Irene, "I could explain it to you. You don't allow anything for
sentiment and the natural desire to please, and it ought to be just
pathetic to you that these girls, obeying a natural instinct, missed the
expression of it a little."
"Men are such critics," and Irene addressed the remark to Marion, "they
pretend to like intellectual women, but they can pardon anything better
than an ill-fitting gown. Better be frivolous than badly dressed."
"Well," stoutly insisted Forbes, "I'll take my chance with the well-
dressed ones always; I don't believe the frumpy are the most sensible."
"No; but you make out a prima facie case against a woman for want of
taste in dress, just as you jump at the conclusion that because a woman
dresses in such a way as to show she gives her mind to it she is of the
right sort. I think it's a relief to see a convention of women devoted
to other things who are not thinking of their clothes."
"Pardon me; the point I made was that they are thinking of their clothes,
and thinking erroneously."
"Why don't you ask leave to read a paper, Forbes, on the relation of
dress to education?" asked Mr. King.
They rose from the table just as Mrs. Benson was saying that for her part
she liked these girls, they were so homelike; she loved to hear them sing
college songs and hymns in the parlor. To sing the songs of the students
is a wild, reckless dissipation for girls in the country.
When Mr. King and Irene walked up and down the corridor after breakfast
the girl's constraint seemed to have vanished, and she let it be seen
that she had sincere pleasure in renewing the acquaintance. King himself
began to realize how large a place the girl's image had occupied in his
mind. He was not in love--that would be absurd on such short
acquaintance--but a thought dropped into the mind ripens without
consciousness, and he found that he had anticipated seeing Irene again
with decided interest. He remembered exactly how she looked at Fortress
Monroe, especially one day when she entered the parlor, bowing right and
left to persons she knew, stopping to chat with one and another, tall,
slender waist swelling upwards in symmetrical lines, brown hair, dark-
gray eyes--he recalled every detail, the high-bred air (which was
certainly not inherited), the unconscious perfect carriage, and his
thinking in a vague way that such ease and grace meant good living and
leisure and a sound body. This, at any rate, was the image in his mind--
a sufficiently distracting thing for a young man to carry about with him;
and now as he walked beside her he was conscious that there was something
much finer in her than the image he had carried with him, that there was
a charm of speech and voice and expression that made her different from
any other woman he had ever seen. Who can define this charm, this
difference? Some women have it for the universal man--they are desired
of every man who sees them; their way to marriage (which is commonly
unfortunate) is over a causeway of prostrate forms, if not of cracked
hearts; a few such women light up and make the romance of history.
The majority of women fortunately have it for one man only, and sometimes
he never appears on the scene at all! Yet every man thinks his choice
belongs to the first class; even King began to wonder that all Newport
was not raving over Irene's beauty. The present writer saw her one day
as she alighted from a carriage at the Ocean House, her face flushed with
the sea air, and he remembers that he thought her a fine girl.
"By George, that's a fine woman!" exclaimed a New York bachelor, who
prided himself on knowing horses and women and all that; but the country
is full of fine women--this to him was only one of a thousand.
What were this couple talking about as they promenaded, basking in each
other's presence? It does not matter. They were getting to know each
other, quite as much by what they did not say as by what they did say, by
the thousand little exchanges of feeling and sentiment which are all-
important, and never appear even in a stenographer's report of a
conversation. Only one thing is certain about it, that the girl could
recall every word that Mr. King said, even his accent and look, long
after he had forgotten even the theme of the talk. One thing, however,
he did carry away with him, which set him thinking. The girl had been
reading the "Life of Carlyle," and she took up the cudgels for the old
curmudgeon, as King called him, and declared that, when all was said,
Mrs. Carlyle was happier with him than she would have been with any other
man in England. "What woman of spirit wouldn't rather mate with an
eagle, and quarrel half the time, than with a humdrum barn-yard fowl?"
And Mr. Stanhope King, when he went away, reflected that he who had
fitted himself for the bar, and traveled extensively, and had a moderate
competence, hadn't settled down to any sort of career. He had always an
intention of doing something in a vague way; but now the thought that he
was idle made him for the first time decidedly uneasy, for he had an
indistinct notion that Irene couldn't approve of such a life.
This feeling haunted him as he was making a round of calls that day.
He did not return to lunch or dinner--if he had done so he would have
found that lunch was dinner and that dinner was supper--another vital
distinction between the hotel and the cottage. The rest of the party had
gone to the cliffs with the artist, the girls on a pretense of learning
to sketch from nature. Mr. King dined with his cousin.
"You are a bad boy, Stanhope," was the greeting of Mrs. Bartlett Glow,
"not to come to me. Why did you go to the hotel?"
"Oh, I thought I'd see life; I had an unaccountable feeling of
independence. Besides, I've a friend with me, a very clever artist, who
is re-seeing his country after an absence of some years. And there are
some other people."
"Oh, yes. What is her name?"
"Why, there is quite a party. We met them at different places. There's
a very bright New York girl, Miss Lamont, and her uncle from Richmond."
("Never heard of her," interpolated Mrs. Glow.) "And a Mr. and Mrs.
Benson and their daughter, from Ohio. Mr. Benson has made money; Mrs.
Benson, good-hearted old lady, rather plain and--"
"Yes, I know the sort; had a falling-out with Lindley Murray in her youth
and never made it up. But what I want to know is about the girl. What
makes you beat about the bush so? What's her name?"
"Irene. She is an uncommonly clever girl; educated; been abroad a good
deal, studying in Germany; had all advantages; and she has cultivated
tastes; and the fact is that out in Cyrusville--that is where they live--
You know how it is here in America when the girl is educated and the old
people are not--"
"The long and short of it is, you want me to invite them here. I suppose
the girl is plain, too--takes after her mother?"
"Not exactly. Mr. Forbes--that's my friend--says she's a beauty. But if
you don't mind, Penelope, I was going to ask you to be a little civil to
"Well, I'll admit she is handsome--a very striking-looking girl. I've
seen them driving on the Avenue day after day. Now, Stanhope, I don't
mind asking them here to a five o'clock; I suppose the mother will have
to come. If she was staying with somebody here it would be easier.
Yes, I'll do it to oblige you, if you will make yourself useful while you
are here. There are some girls I want you to know, and mind, my young
friend, that you don't go and fall in love with a country girl whom
nobody knows, out of the set. It won't be comfortable."
"You are always giving me good advice, Penelope, and I should be a
different man if I had profited by it."
"Don't be satirical, because you've coaxed me to do you a favor."
Late in the evening the gentlemen of the hotel party looked in at the
skating-rink, a great American institution that has for a large class
taken the place of the ball, the social circle, the evening meeting.
It seemed a little incongruous to find a great rink at Newport, but an
epidemic is stronger than fashion, and even the most exclusive summer
resort must have its rink. Roller-skating is said to be fine exercise,
but the benefit of it as exercise would cease to be apparent if there
were a separate rink for each sex. There is a certain exhilaration in
the lights and music and the lively crowd, and always an attraction in
the freedom of intercourse offered. The rink has its world as the opera
has, its romances and its heroes. The frequenters of the rink know the
young women and the young men who have a national reputation as adepts,
and their exhibitions are advertised and talked about as are the
appearances of celebrated 'prime donne' and 'tenori' at the opera.
The visitors had an opportunity to see one of these exhibitions. After a
weary watching of the monotonous and clattering round and round of the
swinging couples or the stumbling single skaters, the floor was cleared,
and the darling of the rink glided upon the scene. He was a slender,
handsome fellow, graceful and expert to the nicest perfection in his
profession. He seemed not so much to skate as to float about the floor,
with no effort except volition. His rhythmic movements were followed
with pleasure, but it was his feats of dexterity, which were more
wonderful than graceful, that brought down the house. It was evident
that he was a hero to the female part of the spectators, and no doubt his
charming image continued to float round and round in the brain of many a
girl when she put her, head on the pillow that night. It is said that a
good many matches which are not projected or registered in heaven are
made at the rink.
At the breakfast-table it appeared that the sketching-party had been a
great success--for everybody except the artist, who had only some rough
memoranda, like notes for a speech, to show. The amateurs had made
Miss Benson had done some rocks, and had got their hardness very well.
Miss Lamont's effort was more ambitious; her picture took in no less than
miles of coast, as much sea as there was room for on the paper, a navy of
sail-boats, and all the rocks and figures that were in the foreground,
and it was done with a great deal of naivete and conscientiousness.
When it was passed round the table, the comments were very flattering.
"It looks just like it," said Mr. Benson.
"It's very comprehensive," remarked Mr. Forbes.
"What I like, Marion," said Mr. De Long, holding it out at arm's-length,
"is the perspective; it isn't an easy thing to put ships up in the sky."
"Of course," explained Irene, "it was a kind of hazy day."
"But I think Miss Lamont deserves credit for keeping the haze out of it."
King was critically examining it, turning his head from side to side.
"I like it; but I tell you what I think it lacks: it lacks atmosphere.
Why don't you cut a hole in it, Miss Lamont, and let the air in?"
"Mr. King," replied Miss Lamont, quite seriously, "you are a real friend,
I can only repay you by taking you to church this morning."
"You didn't make much that time, King," said Forbes, as he lounged out of
After church King accepted a seat in the Benson carriage for a drive on
the Ocean Road. He who takes this drive for the first time is enchanted
with the scene, and it has so much variety, deliciousness in curve and
winding, such graciousness in the union of sea and shore, such charm of
color, that increased acquaintance only makes one more in love with it.
A good part of its attraction lies in the fickleness of its aspect.
Its serene and soft appearance might pall if it were not now and then,
and often suddenly, and with little warning, transformed into a wild
coast, swept by a tearing wind, enveloped in a thick fog, roaring with
the noise of the angry sea slapping the rocks and breaking in foam on the
fragments its rage has cast down. This elementary mystery and terror is
always present, with one familiar with the coast, to qualify the
gentleness of its lovelier aspects. It has all moods. Perhaps the most
exhilarating is that on a brilliant day, when shore and sea sparkle in
the sun, and the waves leap high above the cliffs, and fall in diamond
This Sunday the shore was in its most gracious mood, the landscape as if
newly created. There was a light, luminous fog, which revealed just
enough to excite the imagination, and refined every outline and softened
every color. Mr. King and Irene left the carriage to follow the road,
and wandered along the sea path. What softness and tenderness of color
in the gray rocks, with the browns and reds of the vines and lichens!
They went out on the iron fishing-stands, and looked down at the shallow
water. The rocks under water took on the most exquisite shades--purple
and malachite and brown; the barnacles clung to them; the long sea-weeds,
in half a dozen varieties, some in vivid colors, swept over them, flowing
with the restless tide, like the long locks of a drowned woman's hair.
King, who had dabbled a little in natural history, took great delight in
pointing out to Irene this varied and beautiful life of the sea; and the
girl felt a new interest in science, for it was all pure science, and she
opened her heart to it, not knowing that love can go in by the door of
science as well as by any other opening. Was Irene really enraptured by
the dear little barnacles and the exquisite sea-weeds? I have seen a
girl all of a flutter with pleasure in a laboratory when a young chemist
was showing her the retorts and the crooked tubes and the glass wool and
the freaks of color which the alkalies played with the acids. God has
made them so, these women, and let us be thankful for it.
What a charm there was about everything! Occasionally the mist became so
thin that a long line of coast and a great breadth of sea were visible,
with the white sails drifting.
"There's nothing like it," said King--"there's nothing like this island.
It seems as if the Creator had determined to show man, once for all, a
landscape perfectly refined, you might almost say with the beauty of
high-breeding, refined in outline, color, everything softened into
loveliness, and yet touched with the wild quality of picturesqueness."
" It's just a dream at this moment," murmured Irene. They were standing
on a promontory of rock. "See those figures of people there through the
mist--silhouettes only. And look at that vessel--there--no--it has
As she was speaking, a sail-vessel began to loom up large in the
mysterious haze. But was it not the ghost of a ship? For an instant it
was coming, coming; it was distinct; and when it was plainly in sight it
faded away, like a dissolving view, and was gone. The appearance was
unreal. What made it more spectral was the bell on the reefs, swinging
in its triangle, always sounding, and the momentary scream of the fog-
whistle. It was like an enchanted coast. Regaining the carriage, they
drove out to the end, Agassiz's Point, where, when the mist lifted, they
saw the sea all round dotted with sails, the irregular coasts and islands
with headlands and lighthouses, all the picture still, land and water in
a summer swoon.
Late that afternoon all the party were out upon the cliff path in front
of the cottages. There is no more lovely sea stroll in the world, the
way winding over the cliff edge by the turquoise sea, where the turf,
close cut and green as Erin, set with flower beds and dotted with noble
trees, slopes down, a broad pleasure park, from the stately and
picturesque villas. But it was a social mistake to go there on Sunday.
Perhaps it is not the height of good form to walk there any day, but Mr.
King did not know that the fashion had changed, and that on Sunday this
lovely promenade belongs to the butlers and the upper maids, especially
to the butlers, who make it resplendent on Sunday afternoons when the
weather is good. As the weather had thickened in the late afternoon, our
party walked in a dumb-show, listening to the soft swish of the waves on
the rocks below, and watching the figures of other promenaders, who were
good enough ladies and gentlemen in this friendly mist.
The next day Mr. King made a worse mistake. He remembered that at high
noon everybody went down to the first beach, a charming sheltered place
at the bottom of the bay, where the rollers tumble in finely from the
south, to bathe or see others bathe. The beach used to be lined with
carriages at that hour, and the surf, for a quarter of a mile, presented
the appearance of a line of picturesquely clad skirmishers going out to
battle with the surf. Today there were not half a dozen carriages and
omnibuses altogether, and the bathers were few-nursery maids, fragments
of a day-excursion, and some of the fair conventionists. Newport was not
there. Mr. King had led his party into another social blunder. It has
ceased to be fashionable to bathe at Newport.
Strangers and servants may do so, but the cottagers have withdrawn their
support from the ocean. Saltwater may be carried to the house and used
without loss of caste, but bathing in the surf is vulgar. A gentleman
may go down and take a dip alone--it had better be at an early hour--and
the ladies of the house may be heard to apologize for his eccentricity,
as if his fondness for the water were abnormal and quite out of
experience. And the observer is obliged to admit that promiscuous
bathing is vulgar, as it is plain enough to be seen when it becomes
unfashionable. It is charitable to think also that the cottagers have
made it unfashionable because it is vulgar, and not because it is a cheap
and refreshing pleasure accessible to everybody.
Nevertheless, Mr. King's ideas of Newport were upset. "It's a little off
color to walk much on the cliffs; you lose caste if you bathe in the
surf. What can you do?"
"Oh," explained Miss Lamont, "you can make calls; go to teas and
receptions and dinners; belong to the Casino, but not appear there much;
and you must drive on the Ocean Road, and look as English as you can.
Didn't you notice that Redfern has an establishment on the Avenue?
Well, the London girls wear what Redfern tells them to wear-much to the
improvement of their appearance--and so it has become possible for a New-
Yorker to become partially English without sacrificing her native taste."
Before lunch Mrs. Bartlett Glow called on the Bensons, and invited them
to a five-o'clock tea, and Miss Lamont, who happened to be in the parlor,
was included in the invitation. Mrs. Glow was as gracious as possible,
and especially attentive to the old lady, who purred with pleasure, and
beamed and expanded into familiarity under the encouragement of the woman
of the world. In less than ten minutes Mrs. Glow had learned the chief
points in the family history, the state of health and habits of pa (Mr.
Benson), and all about Cyrusville and its wonderful growth. In all this
Mrs. Glow manifested a deep interest, and learned, by observing out of
the corner of her eye, that Irene was in an agony of apprehension, which
she tried to conceal under an increasing coolness of civility. "A nice
lady," was Mrs. Benson's comment when Mrs. Glow had taken herself away
with her charmingly-scented air of frank cordiality--"a real nice lady.
She seemed just like our, folks."
Irene heaved a deep sigh. "I suppose we shall have to go."
"Have to go, child? I should think you'd like to go. I never saw such a
girl--never. Pa and me are just studying all the time to please you, and
it seems as if--" And the old lady's voice broke down.
"Why, mother dear"--and the girl, with tears in her eyes, leaned over her
and kissed her fondly, and stroked her hair--"you are just as good and
sweet as you can be; and don't mind me; you know I get in moods
The old lady pulled her down and kissed her, and looked in her face with
"What an old frump the mother is!" was Mrs. Glow's comment to Stanhope,
when she next met him; "but she is immensely amusing."
"She is a kind-hearted, motherly woman," replied King, a little sharply.
"Oh, motherly! Has it come to that? I do believe you are more than half
gone. The girl is pretty; she has a beautiful figure; but my gracious!
her parents are impossible--just impossible. And don't you think she's a
little too intellectual for society? I don't mean too intellectual, of
course, but too mental, don't you know--shows that first. You know what
"But, Penelope, I thought it was the fashion now to be intellectual--go
in for reading, and literary clubs, Dante and Shakespeare, and political
economy, and all that."
"Yes, I belong to three clubs. I'm going to one tomorrow morning.
We are going to take up the 'Disestablishment of the English Church.'
That's different; we make it fit into social life somehow, and it doesn't
interfere. I'll tell you what, Stanhope, I'll take Miss Benson to the
Town and County Club next Saturday."
"That will be too intellectual for Miss Benson. I suppose the topic will
"No; we have had that. Professor Spor, of Cambridge, is going to lecture
on Bacteria--if that's the way you pronounce it--those mites that get
"I should think it would be very improving. I'll tell Miss Benson that
if she stays in Newport she must improve her mind,
"You can make yourself as disagreeable as you like to me, but mind you
are on your good behavior at dinner tonight, for the Misses Pelham will
The five-o'clock at Mrs. Bartlett Glow's was probably an event to nobody
in Newport except Mrs. Benson. To most it was only an incident in the
afternoon round and drive, but everybody liked to go there, for it is one
of the most charming of the moderate-sized villas. The lawn is planted
in exquisite taste, and the gardener has set in the open spaces of green
the most ingenious devices of flowers and foliage plants, and nothing
could be more enchanting than the view from the wide veranda on the sea
side. In theory, the occupants lounge there, read, embroider, and swing
in hammocks; in point of fact, the breeze is usually so strong that these
occupations are carried on indoors.
The rooms were well filled with a moving, chattering crowd when the
Bensons arrived, but it could not be said that their entrance was
unnoticed, for Mr. Benson was conspicuous, as Irene had in vain hinted to
her father that he would be, in his evening suit, and Mrs. Benson's
beaming, extra-gracious manner sent a little shiver of amusement through
the polite civility of the room.
"I was afraid we should be too late," was Mrs. Benson's response to the
smiling greeting of the hostess, with a most friendly look towards the
rest of the company. "Mr. Benson is always behindhand in getting dressed
for a party, and he said he guessed the party could wait, and--"
Before the sentence was finished Mrs. Benson found herself passed on and
in charge of a certain general, who was charged by the hostess to get her
a cup of tea. Her talk went right on, however, and Irene, who was still
standing by the host, noticed that wherever her mother went there was a
lull in the general conversation, a slight pause as if to catch what this
motherly old person might be saying, and such phrases as, "It doesn't
agree with me, general; I can't eat it," "Yes, I got the rheumatiz in
New Orleans, and he did too," floated over the hum of talk.
In the introduction and movement that followed Irene became one of a
group of young ladies and gentlemen who, after the first exchange of
civilities, went on talking about matters of which she knew nothing,
leaving her wholly out of the conversation. The matters seemed to be
very important, and the conversation was animated: it was about so-and-so
who was expected, or was or was not engaged, or the last evening at the
Casino, or the new trap on the Avenue--the delightful little chit-chat by
means of which those who are in society exchange good understandings, but
which excludes one not in the circle. The young gentleman next to Irene
threw in an explanation now and then, but she was becoming thoroughly
uncomfortable. She could not be unconscious, either, that she was the
object of polite transient scrutiny by the ladies, and of glances of
interest from gentlemen who did not approach her. She began to be
annoyed by the staring (the sort of stare that a woman recognizes as
impudent admiration) of a young fellow who leaned against the mantel--
a youth in English clothes who had caught very successfully the air of an
English groom. Two girls near her, to whom she had been talking, began
speaking in lowered voices in French, but she could not help overhearing
them, and her face flushed hotly when she found that her mother and her
appearance were the subject of their foreign remarks.
Luckily at the moment Mr. King approached, and Irene extended her hand
and said, with a laugh, "Ah, monsieur," speaking in a very pretty Paris
accent, and perhaps with unnecessary distinctness, "you were quite right:
the society here is very different from Cyrusville; there they all talk
about each other."
Mr. King, who saw that something had occurred, was quick-witted enough to
reply jestingly in French, as they moved away, but he asked, as soon as
they were out of ear-shot, "What is it?"
"Nothing," said the girl, recovering her usual serenity. "I only said
something for the sake of saying something; I didn't mean to speak so
disrespectfully of my own town. But isn't it singular how local and
provincial society talk is everywhere? I must look up mother, and then I
want you to take me on the veranda for some air. What a delightful house
this is of your cousin's!"
The two young ladies who had dropped into French looked at each other for
a moment after Irene moved away, and one of them spoke for both when she
exclaimed: "Did you ever see such rudeness in a drawing-room! Who could
have dreamed that she understood?" Mrs. Benson had been established very
comfortably in a corner with Professor Slem, who was listening with great
apparent interest to her accounts of the early life in Ohio. Irene
seemed relieved to get away into the open air, but she was in a mood that
Mr. King could not account for. Upon the veranda they encountered Miss
Lamont and the artist, whose natural enjoyment of the scene somewhat
restored her equanimity. Could there be anything more refined and
charming in the world than this landscape, this hospitable, smiling
house, with the throng of easy-mannered, pleasant-speaking guests,
leisurely flowing along in the conventional stream of social comity.
One must be a churl not to enjoy it. But Irene was not sorry when,
presently, it was time to go, though she tried to extract some comfort
from her mother's enjoyment of the occasion. It was beautiful.
Mr. Benson was in a calculating mood. He thought it needed a great
deal of money to make things run so smoothly.
Why should one inquire in such a paradise if things do run smoothly?
Cannot one enjoy a rose without pulling it up by the roots? I have no
patience with those people who are always looking on the seamy side.
I agree with the commercial traveler who says that it will only be in the
millennium that all goods will be alike on both sides. Mr. King made the
acquaintance in Newport of the great but somewhat philosophical
Mr. Snodgrass, who is writing a work on "The Discomforts of the Rich,"
taking a view of life which he says has been wholly overlooked.
He declares that their annoyances, sufferings, mortifications, envies,
jealousies, disappointments, dissatisfactions (and so on through the
dictionary of disagreeable emotions), are a great deal more than those of
the poor, and that they are more worthy of sympathy. Their troubles are
real and unbearable, because they are largely of the mind. All these are
set forth with so much powerful language and variety of illustration that
King said no one could read the book without tears for the rich of
Newport, and he asked Mr. Snodgrass why he did not organize a society for
their relief. But the latter declared that it was not a matter for
levity. The misery is real. An imaginary case would illustrate his
meaning. Suppose two persons quarrel about a purchase of land, and one
builds a stable on his lot so as to shut out his neighbor's view of the
sea. Would not the one suffer because he could not see the ocean, and
the other by reason of the revengeful state of his mind? He went on to
argue that the owner of a splendid villa might have, for reasons he gave,
less content in it than another person in a tiny cottage so small that it
had no spare room for his mother-in-law even, and that in fact his
satisfaction in his own place might be spoiled by the more showy place of
his neighbor. Mr. Snodgrass attempts in his book a philosophical
explanation of this. He says that if every man designed his own cottage,
or had it designed as an expression of his own ideas, and developed his
grounds and landscape according to his own tastes, working it out
himself, with the help of specialists, he would be satisfied. But when
owners have no ideas about architecture or about gardening, and their
places are the creation of some experimenting architect and a foreign
gardener, and the whole effort is not to express a person's individual
taste and character, but to make a show, then discontent as to his own
will arise whenever some new and more showy villa is built. Mr. Benson,
who was poking about a good deal, strolling along the lanes and getting
into the rears of the houses, said, when this book was discussed, that
his impression was that the real object of these fine places was to
support a lot of English gardeners, grooms, and stable-boys. They are a
kind of aristocracy. They have really made Newport (that is the summer,
transient Newport, for it is largely a transient Newport). "I've been
inquiring," continued Mr. Benson, "and you'd be surprised to know the
number of people who come here, buy or build expensive villas, splurge
out for a year or two, then fail or get tired of it, and disappear."
Mr. Snodgrass devotes a chapter to the parvenues at Newport. By the
parvenu--his definition may not be scientific--he seems to mean a person
who is vulgar, but has money, and tries to get into society on the
strength of his money alone. He is more to be pitied than any other sort
of rich man. For he not only works hard and suffers humiliation in
getting his place in society, but after he is in he works just as hard,
and with bitterness in his heart, to keep out other parvenues like
himself. And this is misery.
But our visitors did not care for the philosophizing of Mr. Snodgrass--
you can spoil almost anything by turning it wrong side out. They thought
Newport the most beautiful and finished watering-place in America.
Nature was in the loveliest mood when it was created, and art has
generally followed her suggestions of beauty and refinement. They did
not agree with the cynic who said that Newport ought to be walled in,
and have a gate with an inscription, "None but Millionaires allowed
here." It is very easy to get out of the artificial Newport and to come
into scenery that Nature has made after artistic designs which artists
are satisfied with. A favorite drive of our friends was to the Second
Beach and the Purgatory Rocks overlooking it. The photographers and the
water-color artists have exaggerated the Purgatory chasm into a Colorado
canon, but anybody can find it by help of a guide. The rock of this
locality is a curious study. It is an agglomerate made of pebbles and
cement, the pebbles being elongated as if by pressure. The rock is
sometimes found in detached fragments having the form of tree trunks.
Whenever it is fractured, the fracture is a clean cut, as if made by a
saw, and through both pebbles and cement, and the ends present the
appearance of a composite cake filled with almonds and cut with a knife.
The landscape is beautiful.
"All the lines are so simple," the artist explained. "The shore, the
sea, the gray rocks, with here and there the roof of a quaint cottage to
enliven the effect, and few trees, only just enough for contrast with the
long, sweeping lines."
"You don't like trees?" asked Miss Lamont.
"Yes, in themselves. But trees are apt to be in the way. There are too
many trees in America. It is not often you can get a broad, simple
effect like this."
It happened to be a day when the blue of the sea was that of the
Mediterranean, and the sky and sea melted into each other, so that a
distant sail-boat seemed to be climbing into the heavens. The waves
rolled in blue on the white sand beach, and broke in silver. Three young
girls on horseback galloping in a race along the hard beach at the moment
gave the needed animation to a very pretty picture.
North of this the land comes down to the sea in knolls of rock breaking
off suddenly-rocks gray with lichen, and shaded with a touch of other
vegetation. Between these knifeback ledges are plots of sea-green grass
and sedge, with little ponds, black, and mirroring the sky. Leaving this
wild bit of nature, which has got the name of Paradise (perhaps because
few people go there), the road back to town sweeps through sweet farm
land; the smell of hay is in the air, loads of hay encumber the roads,
flowers in profusion half smother the farm cottages, and the trees of the
apple-orchards are gnarled and picturesque as olives.
The younger members of the party climbed up into this paradise one day,
leaving the elders in their carriages. They came into a new world,
as unlike Newport as if they had been a thousand miles away. The spot
was wilder than it looked from a distance. The high ridges of rock lay
parallel, with bosky valleys and ponds between, and the sea shining in
the south--all in miniature. On the way to the ridges they passed clean
pasture fields, bowlders, gray rocks, aged cedars with flat tops like the
stone-pines of Italy. It was all wild but exquisite, a refined wildness
recalling the pictures of Rousseau.
Irene and Mr. King strolled along one of the ridges, and sat down on a
rock looking off upon the peaceful expanse, the silver lines of the
curving shores, and the blue sea dotted with white sails.
"Ah," said the girl, with an inspiration, "this is the sort of five-
o'clock I like."
"And I'm sure I'd rather be here with you than at the Blims' reception,
from which we ran away."
"I thought," said Irene, not looking at him, and jabbing the point of her
parasol into the ground, "I thought you liked Newport."
"So I do, or did. I thought you would like it. But, pardon me, you seem
somehow different from what you were at Fortress Monroe, or even at
lovely Atlantic City," this with a rather forced laugh.
"Do I? Well, I suppose I am; that is, different from what you thought
me. I should hate this place in a week more, beautiful as it is."
"Your mother is pleased here?"
The girl looked up quickly. "I forgot to tell you how much she thanked
you for the invitation to your cousin's. She was delighted there."
"And you were not?"
"I didn't say so; you were very kind."
"Oh, kind; I didn't mean to be kind. I was purely selfish in wanting you
to go. Cannot you believe, Miss Benson, that I had some pride in having
my friends see you and know you?"
"Well, I will be as frank as you are, Mr. King. I don't like being shown
off. There, don't look displeased. I didn't mean anything
"But I hoped you understood my motives better by this time."
"I did not think about motives, but the fact is" (another jab of the
parasol), "I was made desperately uncomfortable, and always shall be
under such circumstances, and, my friend--I should like to believe you
are my friend--you may as well expect I always will be."
"I cannot do that. You under--"
"I just see things as they are," Irene went on, hastily. "You think I am
different here. Well, I don't mind saying that when I made your
acquaintance I thought you different from any man I had met." But now it
was out, she did mind saying it; and stopped, confused, as if she had
confessed something. But she continued, almost immediately: "I mean I
liked your manner to women; you didn't appear to flatter, and you didn't
talk complimentary nonsense."
"And now I do?"
"No. Not that. But everything is somehow changed here. Don't let's
talk of it. There's the carriage."
Irene arose, a little flushed, and walked towards the point. Mr. King,
picking his way along behind her over the rocks, said, with an attempt at
lightening the situation, "Well, Miss Benson, I'm going to be just as
different as ever a man was."
NARRAGANSETT PIER AND NEWPORT AGAIN; MARTHA'S VINEYARD AND PLYMOUTH
We have heard it said that one of the charms, of Narragansett Pier is
that you can see Newport from it. The summer dwellers at the Pier talk a
good deal about liking it better than Newport; it is less artificial and
more restful. The Newporters never say anything about the Pier. The
Pier people say that it is not fair to judge it when you come direct from
Newport, but the longer you stay there the better you like it; and if any
too frank person admits that he would not stay in Narragansett a day if
he could afford to live in Newport, he is suspected of aristocratic
In a calm summer morning, such as our party of pilgrims chose for an
excursion to the Pier, there is no prettier sail in the world than that
out of the harbor, by Conanicut Island and Beaver-tail Light. It is a
holiday harbor, all these seas are holiday seas--the yachts, the sail
vessels, the puffing steamers, moving swiftly from one headland to
another, or loafing about the blue, smiling sea, are all on pleasure
bent. The vagrant vessels that are idly watched from the rocks at the
Pier may be coasters and freight schooners engaged seriously in trade,
but they do not seem so. They are a part of the picture, always to be
seen slowly dipping along in the horizon, and the impression is that they
are manoeuvred for show, arranged for picturesque effect, and that they
are all taken in at night.
The visitors confessed when they landed that the Pier was a contrast to
Newport. The shore below the landing is a line of broken, ragged, slimy
rocks, as if they had been dumped there for a riprap wall. Fronting this
unkempt shore is a line of barrack-like hotels, with a few cottages of
the cheap sort. At the end of this row of hotels is a fine granite
Casino, spacious, solid, with wide verandas, and a tennis-court--such a
building as even Newport might envy. Then come more hotels, a cluster of
cheap shops, and a long line of bath-houses facing a lovely curving
beach. Bathing is the fashion at the Pier, and everybody goes to the
beach at noon. The spectators occupy chairs on the platform in front of
the bath-houses, or sit under tents erected on the smooth sand. At high
noon the scene is very lively, and even picturesque, for the ladies here
dress for bathing with an intention of pleasing. It is generally
supposed that the angels in heaven are not edified by this promiscuous
bathing, and by the spectacle of a crowd of women tossing about in the
surf, but an impartial angel would admit that many of the costumes here
are becoming, and that the effect of the red and yellow caps, making a
color line in the flashing rollers, is charming. It is true that there
are odd figures in the shifting melee--one solitary old gentleman, who
had contrived to get his bathing-suit on hind-side before, wandered along
the ocean margin like a lost Ulysses; and that fat woman and fat man were
never intended for this sort of exhibition; but taken altogether, with
its colors, and the silver flash of the breaking waves, the scene was
exceedingly pretty. Not the least pretty part of it was the fringe of
children tumbling on the beach, following the retreating waves, and
flying from the incoming rollers with screams of delight. Children,
indeed, are a characteristic of Narragansett Pier--children and mothers.
It might be said to be a family place; it is a good deal so on Sundays,
and occasionally when the "business men" come down from the cities to see
how their wives and children get on at the hotels.
After the bathing it is the fashion to meet again at the Casino and take
lunch--sometimes through a straw--and after dinner everybody goes for a
stroll on the cliffs. This is a noble sea-promenade; with its handsome
villas and magnificent rocks, a fair rival to Newport. The walk,
as usually taken, is two or three miles along the bold, rocky shore, but
an ambitious pedestrian may continue it to the light on Point Judith.
Nowhere on this coast are the rocks more imposing, and nowhere do they
offer so many studies in color. The visitor's curiosity is excited by a
massive granite tower which rises out of a mass of tangled woods planted
on the crest of the hill, and his curiosity is not satisfied on nearer
inspection, when he makes his way into this thick and gloomy forest, and
finds a granite cottage near the tower, and the signs of neglect and
wildness that might mark the home of a recluse. What is the object of
this noble tower? If it was intended to adorn the landscape, why was it
ruined by piercing it irregularly with square windows like those of a
One has to hold himself back from being drawn into the history and
romance of this Narragansett shore. Down below the bathing beach is the
pretentious wooden pile called Canonchet, that already wears the air of
tragedy. And here, at this end, is the mysterious tower, and an ugly
unfinished dwelling-house of granite, with the legend "Druid's Dream"
carved over the entrance door; and farther inland, in a sandy and shrubby
landscape, is Kendall Green, a private cemetery, with its granite
monument, surrounded by heavy granite posts, every other one of which is
hollowed in the top as a receptacle for food for birds. And one reads
there these inscriptions: "Whatever their mode of faith, or creed, who
feed the wandering birds, will themselves be fed." "Who helps the
helpless, Heaven will help." This inland region, now apparently deserted
and neglected, was once the seat of colonial aristocracy, who exercised a
princely hospitality on their great plantations, exchanged visits and ran
horses with the planters of Virginia and the Carolinas, and were known as
far as Kentucky, and perhaps best known for their breed of Narragansett
pacers. But let us get back to the shore.
In wandering along the cliff path in the afternoon, Irene and Mr. King
were separated from the others, and unconsciously extended their stroll,
looking for a comfortable seat in the rocks. The day was perfect.
The sky had only a few fleecy, high-sailing clouds, and the great expanse
of sea sparkled under the hectoring of a light breeze. The atmosphere
was not too clear on the horizon for dreamy effects; all the headlands
were softened and tinged with opalescent colors. As the light struck
them, the sails which enlivened the scene were either dark spots or
shining silver sheets on the delicate blue. At one spot on this shore
rises a vast mass of detached rock, separated at low tide from the shore
by irregular bowlders and a tiny thread of water. In search of a seat
the two strollers made their way across this rivulet over the broken
rocks, passed over the summit of the giant mass, and established
themselves in a cavernous place close to the sea. Here was a natural
seat, and the bulk of the seamed and colored ledge, rising above their
heads and curving around them, shut them out of sight of the land, and
left them alone with the dashing sea, and the gulls that circled and
dipped their silver wings in their eager pursuit of prey. For a time
neither spoke. Irene was looking seaward, and Mr. King, who had a lower
seat, attentively watched the waves lapping the rocks at their feet, and
the fine profile and trim figure of the girl against the sky. He thought
he had never seen her looking more lovely, and yet he had a sense that
she never was so remote from him. Here was an opportunity, to be sure,
if he had anything to say, but some fine feeling of propriety restrained
him from taking advantage of it. It might not be quite fair, in a place
so secluded and remote, and with such sentimental influences, shut in as
they were to the sea and the sky.
"It seems like a world by itself," she began, as in continuation of her
thought. "They say you can see Gay Head Light from here."
"Yes. And Newport to the left there, with its towers and trees rising
out of the sea. It is quite like the Venice Lagoon in this light."
"I think I like Newport better at this distance. It is very poetical.
I don't think I like what is called the world much, when I am close to
The remark seemed to ask for sympathy, and Mr. King ventured: "Are you
willing to tell me, Miss Benson, why you have not seemed as happy at
Newport as elsewhere? Pardon me; it is not an idle question." Irene,
who seemed to be looking away beyond Gay Head, did not reply. "I should
like to know if I have been in any way the cause of it. We agreed to be
friends, and I think I have a friend's right to know." Still no
response. "You must see--you must know," he went on, hurriedly, "that it
cannot be a matter of indifference to me."
"It had better be," she said, as if speaking deliberately to herself, and
still looking away. But suddenly she turned towards him, and the tears
sprang to her eyes, and the words rushed out fiercely, "I wish I had
never left Cyrusville. I wish I had never been abroad. I wish I had
never been educated. It is all a wretched mistake."
King was unprepared for such a passionate outburst. It was like a rift
in a cloud, through which he had a glimpse of her real life. Words of
eager protest sprang to his lips, but, before they could be uttered,
either her mood had changed or pride had come to the rescue, for she
said: "How silly I am! Everybody has discontented days. Mr. King,
please don't ask me such questions. If you want to be a friend, you will
let me be unhappy now and then, and not say anything about it."
"But, Miss Benson--Irene--"
"There--'Miss Benson' will do very well."
"Well, Miss--Irene, then, there was something I wanted to say to you the
other day in Paradise--"
"Look, Mr. King. Did you see that wave? I'm sure it is nearer our feet
than when we sat down here."
"Oh, that's just an extra lift by the wind. I want to tell you. I must
tell you that life--has all changed since I met you--Irene, I--"
"There! There's no mistake-about that. The last wave came a foot higher
than the other!"
King sprang up. "Perhaps it is the tide. I'll go and see." He ran up
the rock, leaped across the fissures, and looked over on the side they
had ascended. Sure enough, the tide was coming in. The stones on which
they had stepped were covered, and a deep stream of water, rising with
every pulsation of the sea, now, where there was only a rivulet before.
He hastened back. "There is not a moment to lose. We are caught by the
tide, and if we are not off in five minutes we shall be prisoners here
till the turn."
He helped her up the slope and over the chasm. The way was very plain
when they came on, but now he could not find it. At the end of every
attempt was a precipice. And the water was rising. A little girl on the
shore shouted to them to follow along a ledge she pointed out, then
descend between two bowlders to the ford. Precious minutes were lost in
accomplishing this circuitous descent, and then they found the stepping-
stones under water, and the sea-weed swishing about the slippery rocks
with the incoming tide. It was a ridiculous position for lovers, or even
"friends"--ridiculous because it had no element of danger except the
ignominy of getting wet. If there was any heroism in seizing Irene
before she could protest, stumbling with his burden among the slimy
rocks, and depositing her, with only wet shoes, on the shore, Mr. King
shared it, and gained the title of "Life-preserver." The adventure ended
with a laugh.
The day after the discovery and exploration of Narragansett, Mr. King
spent the morning with his cousin at the Casino. It was so pleasant that
he wondered he had not gone there oftener, and that so few people
frequented it. Was it that the cottagers were too strong for the Casino
also, which was built for the recreation of the cottagers, and that they
found when it came to the test that they could not with comfort come into
any sort of contact with popular life? It is not large, but no summer
resort in Europe has a prettier place for lounging and reunion. None
have such an air of refinement and exclusiveness. Indeed, one of the
chief attractions and entertainments in the foreign casinos and
conversation-halls is the mingling there of all sorts of peoples, and the
animation arising from diversity of conditions. This popular commingling
in pleasure resorts is safe enough in aristocratic countries, but it will
not answer in a republic.
The Newport Casino is in the nature of a club of the best society.
The building and grounds express the most refined taste. Exteriorly the
house is a long, low Queen Anne cottage, with brilliant shops on the
ground-floor, and above, behind the wooded balconies, is the clubroom.
The tint of the shingled front is brown, and all the colors are low and
blended. Within, the court is a mediaeval surprise. It is a miniature
castle, such as might serve for an opera scene. An extension of the
galleries, an ombre, completes the circle around the plot of close-
clipped green turf. The house itself is all balconies, galleries, odd
windows half overgrown and hidden by ivy, and a large gilt clock-face
adds a touch of piquancy to the antique charm of the facade. Beyond the
first court is a more spacious and less artificial lawn, set with fine
trees, and at the bottom of it is the brown building containing ballroom
and theatre, bowling-alley and closed tennis-court, and at an angle with
the second lawn is a pretty field for lawn-tennis. Here the tournaments
are held, and on these occasions, and on ball nights, the Casino is
If the Casino is then so exclusive, why is it not more used as a
rendezvous and lounging-place? Alas! it must be admitted that it is not
exclusive. By an astonishing concession in the organization any person
can gain admittance by paying the sum of fifty cents. This tax is
sufficient to exclude the deserving poor, but it is only an inducement to
the vulgar rich, and it is even broken down by the prodigal excursionist,
who commonly sets out from home with the intention of being reckless for
one day. It is easy to see, therefore, why the charm of this delightful
place is tarnished.
The band was playing this morning--not rink music--when Mrs. Glow and
King entered and took chairs on the ombre. It was a very pretty scene;
more people were present than usual of a morning. Groups of half a dozen
had drawn chairs together here and there, and were chatting and laughing;
two or three exceedingly well-preserved old bachelors, in the smart rough
morning suits of the period, were entertaining their lady friends with
club and horse talk; several old gentlemen were reading newspapers; and
there were some dowager-looking mammas, and seated by them their cold,
beautiful, high-bred daughters, who wore their visible exclusiveness like
a garment, and contrasted with some other young ladies who were
promenading with English-looking young men in flannel suits, who might be
described as lawn-tennis young ladies conscious of being in the mode,
but wanting the indescribable atmosphere of high-breeding. Doubtless the
most interesting persons to the student of human life were the young
fellows in lawn-tennis suits. They had the languid air which is so
attractive at their age, of having found out life, and decided that it is
a bore. Nothing is worth making an exertion about, not even pleasure.
They had come, one could see, to a just appreciation of their value in
life, and understood quite well the social manners of the mammas and
girls in whose company they condescended to dawdle and make, languidly,
cynical observations. They had, in truth, the manner of playing at
fashion and elegance as in a stage comedy. King could not help thinking
there was something theatrical about them altogether, and he fancied that
when he saw them in their "traps" on the Avenue they were going through
the motions for show and not for enjoyment. Probably King was mistaken
in all this, having been abroad so long that he did not understand the
evolution of the American gilded youth.
In a pause of the music Mrs. Bartlett Glow and Mr. King were standing
with a group near the steps that led down to the inner lawn. Among them
were the Postlethwaite girls, whose beauty and audacity made such a
sensation in Washington last winter. They were bantering Mr. King about
his Narragansett excursion, his cousin having maliciously given the party
a hint of his encounter with the tide at the Pier. . . Just at this
moment, happening to glance across the lawn, he saw the Bensons coming
towards the steps, Mrs. Benson waddling over the grass and beaming
towards the group, Mr. Benson carrying her shawl and looking as if he had
been hired by the day, and Irene listlessly following. Mrs. Glow saw
them at the same moment, but gave no other sign of her knowledge than by
striking into the banter with more animation. Mr. King intended at once
to detach himself and advance to meet the Bensons. But he could not
rudely break away from the unfinished sentence of the younger
Postlethwaite girl, and the instant that was concluded, as luck would
have it, an elderly lady joined the group, and Mrs. Glow went through the
formal ceremony of introducing King to her. He hardly knew how it
happened, only that he made a hasty bow to the Bensons as he was shaking
hands with the ceremonious old lady, and they had gone to the door of
exit. He gave a little start as if to follow them, which Mrs. Glow
noticed with a laugh and the remark, "You can catch them if you run,"
and then he weakly submitted to his fate. After all, it was only an
accident which would hardly need a word of explanation. But what Irene
saw was this: a distant nod from Mrs. Glow, a cool survey and stare from
the Postlethwaite girls, and the failure of Mr. King to recognize his
friends any further than by an indifferent bow as he turned to speak to
another lady. In the raw state of her sensitiveness she felt all this as
a terrible and perhaps intended humiliation.
King did not return to the hotel till evening, and then he sent up his
card to the Bensons. Word came back that the ladies were packing, and
must be excused. He stood at the office desk and wrote a hasty note to
Irene, attempting an explanation of what might seem to her a rudeness,
and asked that he might see her a moment. And then he paced the corridor
waiting for a reply. In his impatience the fifteen minutes that he
waited seemed an hour. Then a bell-boy handed him this note:
"MY DEAR MR. KING,--No explanation whatever was needed. We never
shall forget your kindness. Good-by.
He folded the note carefully and put it in his breast pocket, took it out
and reread it, lingering over the fine and dainty signature, put it back
again, and walked out upon the piazza. It was a divine night, soft and
sweet-scented, and all the rustling trees were luminous in the electric
light. From a window opening upon a balcony overhead came the clear
notes of a barytone voice enunciating the oldfashioned words of an
English ballad, the refrain of which expressed hopeless separation.
The eastern coast, with its ragged outline of bays, headlands,
indentations, islands, capes, and sand-spits, from Watch Hill, a favorite
breezy resort, to Mount Desert, presents an almost continual chain of
hotels and summer cottages. In fact, the same may be said of the whole
Atlantic front from Mount Desert down to Cape May. It is to the traveler
an amazing spectacle. The American people can no longer be reproached
for not taking any summer recreation. The amount of money invested to
meet the requirements of this vacation idleness is enormous. When one is
on the coast in July or August it seems as if the whole fifty millions of
people had come down to lie on the rocks, wade in the sand, and dip into
the sea. But this is not the case. These crowds are only a fringe of
the pleasure-seeking population. In all the mountain regions from North
Carolina to the Adirondacks and the White Hills, along the St. Lawrence
and the lakes away up to the Northwest, in every elevated village, on
every mountain-side, about every pond, lake, and clear stream, in the
wilderness and the secluded farmhouse, one encounters the traveler, the
summer boarder, the vacation idler, one is scarcely out of sight of the
American flag flying over a summer resort. In no other nation, probably,
is there such a general summer hejira, no other offers on such a vast
scale such a variety of entertainment, and it is needless to say that
history presents no parallel to this general movement of a people for a
summer outing. Yet it is no doubt true that statistics, which always
upset a broad generous statement such as I have made, would show that the
majority of people stay at home in the summer, and it is undeniable that
the vexing question for everybody is where to go in July and August.
But there are resorts suited to all tastes, and to the economical as well
as to the extravagant. Perhaps the strongest impression one has in
visiting the various watering-places in the summer-time, is that the
multitudes of every-day folk are abroad in search of enjoyment. On the
New Bedford boat for Martha's Vineyard our little party of tourists
sailed quite away from Newport life--Stanhope with mingled depression and
relief, the artist with some shrinking from contact with anything common,
while Marion stood upon the bow beside her uncle, inhaling the salt
breeze, regarding the lovely fleeting shores, her cheeks glowing and her
eyes sparkling with enjoyment. The passengers and scene, Stanhope was
thinking, were typically New England, until the boat made a landing at
Naushon Island, when he was reminded somehow of Scotland, as much perhaps
by the wild furzy appearance of the island as by the "gentle-folks" who
The boat lingered for the further disembarkation of a number of horses
and carriages, with a piano and a cow. There was a farmer's lodge at the
landing, and over the rocks and amid the trees the picturesque roof of
the villa of the sole proprietor of the island appeared, and gave a
feudal aspect to the domain. The sweet grass affords good picking for
sheep, and besides the sheep the owner raises deer, which are destined to
be chased and shot in the autumn.
The artist noted that there were several distinct types of women on
board, besides the common, straight-waisted, flat-chested variety.
One girl who was alone, with a city air, a neat, firm figure, in a
traveling suit of elegant simplicity, was fond of taking attitudes about
the rails, and watching the effect produced on the spectators. There was
a blue-eyed, sharp-faced, rather loose-jointed young girl, who had the
manner of being familiar with the boat, and talked readily and freely
with anybody, keeping an eye occasionally on her sister of eight years, a
child with a serious little face in a poke-bonnet, who used the language
of a young lady of sixteen, and seemed also abundantly able to take care
of herself. What this mite of a child wants of all things, she
confesses, is a pug-faced dog. Presently she sees one come on board in
the arms of a young lady at Wood's Holl. "No," she says," I won't ask
her for it; the lady wouldn't give it to me, and I wouldn't waste my
breath;" but she draws near to the dog, and regards it with rapt
attention. The owner of the dog is a very pretty black-eyed girl with
banged hair, who prattles about herself and her dog with perfect freedom.
She is staying at Cottage City, lives at Worcester, has been up to Boston
to meet and bring down her dog, without which she couldn't live another
minute. "Perhaps," she says, "you know Dr. Ridgerton, in Worcester; he's
my brother. Don't you know him? He's a chiropodist."
These girls are all types of the skating-rink--an institution which is
beginning to express itself in American manners.
The band was playing on the pier when the steamer landed at Cottage City
(or Oak Bluff, as it was formerly called), and the pier and the gallery
leading to it were crowded with spectators, mostly women a pleasing
mingling of the skating-rink and sewing-circle varieties--and gayety was
apparently about setting in with the dusk. The rink and the, ground
opposite the hotel were in full tilt. After supper King and Forbes took
a cursory view of this strange encampment, walking through the streets of
fantastic tiny cottages among the scrub oaks, and saw something of family
life in the painted little boxes, whose wide-open front doors gave to
view the whole domestic economy, including the bed, centre-table, and
melodeon. They strolled also on the elevated plank promenade by the
beach, encountering now and then a couple enjoying the lovely night.
Music abounded. The circus-pumping strains burst out of the rink,
calling to a gay and perhaps dissolute life. The band in the nearly
empty hotel parlor, in a mournful mood, was wooing the guests who did not
come to a soothing tune, something like China--"Why do we mourn departed
friends?" A procession of lasses coming up the broad walk, advancing out
of the shadows of night, was heard afar off as the stalwart singers
strode on, chanting in high nasal voices that lovely hymn, which seems to
suit the rink as well as the night promenade and the campmeeting:
"We shall me--um um--we shall me-eet, me-eet--um um--
we shall meet,
In the sweet by-am-by, by-am-by-um um-by-am-by.
On the bu-u-u-u--on the bu-u-u-u--on the bu-te-ful shore."
In the morning this fairy-like settlement, with its flimsy and eccentric
architecture, took on more the appearance of reality. The season was
late, as usual, and the hotels were still waiting for the crowds that
seem to prefer to be late and make a rushing carnival of August, but the
tiny cottages were nearly all occupied. At 10 A.M. the band was playing
in the three-story pagoda sort of tower at the bathing-place, and the
three stories were crowded with female spectators. Below, under the
bank, is a long array of bath-houses, and the shallow water was alive
with floundering and screaming bathers. Anchored a little out was a
raft, from which men and boys and a few venturesome girls were diving,
displaying the human form in graceful curves. The crowd was an immensely
good-humored one, and enjoyed itself. The sexes mingled together in the
water, and nothing thought of it, as old Pepys would have said, although
many of the tightly-fitting costumes left less to the imagination than
would have been desired by a poet describing the scene as a phase of the
'comedie humaine.' The band, having played out its hour, trudged back to
the hotel pier to toot while the noon steamboat landed its passengers,
in order to impress the new arrivals with the mad joyousness of the
place. The crowd gathered on the high gallery at the end of the pier
added to this effect of reckless holiday enjoyment. Miss Lamont was
infected with this gayety, and took a great deal of interest in this
peripatetic band, which was playing again on the hotel piazza before
dinner, with a sort of mechanical hilariousness. The rink band opposite
kept up a lively competition, grinding out go-round music, imparting,
if one may say so, a glamour to existence. The band is on hand at the
pier at four o'clock to toot again, and presently off, tramping to some
other hotel to satisfy the serious pleasure of this people.
While Mr. King could not help wondering how all this curious life would
strike Irene--he put his lonesomeness and longing in this way--and what
she would say about it, he endeavored to divert his mind by a study of
the conditions, and by some philosophizing on the change that had come
over American summer life within a few years. In his investigations he
was assisted by Mr. De Long, to whom this social life was absolutely new,
and who was disposed to regard it as peculiarly Yankee--the staid
dissipation of a serious-minded people. King, looking at it more
broadly, found this pasteboard city by the sea one of the most
interesting developments of American life. The original nucleus was the
Methodist camp-meeting, which, in the season, brought here twenty
thousand to thirty thousand people at a time, who camped and picnicked in
a somewhat primitive style. Gradually the people who came here
ostensibly for religious exercises made a longer and more permanent
occupation, and, without losing its ephemeral character, the place grew
and demanded more substantial accommodations. The spot is very
attractive. Although the shore looks to the east, and does not get the
prevailing southern breeze, and the beach has little surf, both water and
air are mild, the bathing is safe and agreeable, and the view of the
illimitable sea dotted with sails and fishing-boats is always pleasing.
A crowd begets a crowd, and soon the world's people made a city larger
than the original one, and still more fantastic, by the aid of paint and
the jigsaw. The tent, however, is the type of all the dwelling-houses.
The hotels, restaurants, and shops follow the usual order of flamboyant
seaside architecture. After a time the Baptists established a camp,
ground on the bluffs on the opposite side of the inlet. The world's
people brought in the commercial element in the way of fancy shops for
the sale of all manner of cheap and bizarre "notions," and introduced the
common amusements. And so, although the camp-meetings do not begin till
late in August, this city of play-houses is occupied the summer long.
The shops and shows represent the taste of the million, and although
there is a similarity in all these popular coast watering-places, each
has a characteristic of its own. The foreigner has a considerable
opportunity of studying family life, whether he lounges through the
narrow, sometimes circular, streets by night, when it appears like a
fairy encampment, or by daylight, when there is no illusion. It seems to
be a point of etiquette to show as much of the interiors as possible, and
one can learn something of cooking and bed-making and mending, and the
art of doing up the back hair. The photographer revels here in pictorial
opportunities. The pictures of these bizarre cottages, with the family
and friends seated in front, show very serious groups. One of the
Tabernacle--a vast iron hood or dome erected over rows of benches that
will seat two or three thousand people--represents the building when it
is packed with an audience intent upon the preacher. Most of the faces
are of a grave, severe type, plain and good, of the sort of people ready
to die for a notion. The impression of these photographs is that these
people abandon themselves soberly to the pleasures of the sea and of this
packed, gregarious life, and get solid enjoyment out of their recreation.
Here, as elsewhere on the coast, the greater part of the population
consists of women and children, and the young ladies complain of the
absence of men--and, indeed, something is desirable in society besides
the superannuated and the boys in round-abouts.
The artist and Miss Lamont, in search of the picturesque, had the
courage, although the thermometer was in the humor to climb up to ninety
degrees, to explore the Baptist encampment. They were not rewarded by
anything new except at the landing, where, behind the bath-houses, the
bathing suits were hung out to dry, and presented a comical spectacle,
the humor of which seemed to be lost upon all except themselves. It was
such a caricature of humanity! The suits hanging upon the line and
distended by the wind presented the appearance of headless, bloated
forms, fat men and fat women kicking in the breeze, and vainly trying to
climb over the line. It was probably merely fancy, but they declared
that these images seemed larger, more bloated, and much livelier than
those displayed on the Cottage City side. When travelers can be
entertained by trifles of this kind it shows that there is an absence of
more serious amusement. And, indeed, although people were not wanting,
and music was in the air, and the bicycle and tricycle stable was well
patronized by men and women, and the noon bathing was well attended, it
was evident that the life of Cottage City was not in full swing by the
middle of July.
The morning on which our tourists took the steamer for Wood's Holl the
sea lay shimmering in the heat, only stirred a little by the land breeze,
and it needed all the invigoration of the short ocean voyage to brace
them up for the intolerably hot and dusty ride in the cars through the
sandy part of Massachusetts. So long as the train kept by the indented
shore the route was fairly picturesque; all along Buzzard Bay and Onset
Bay and Monument Beach little cottages, gay with paint and fantastic saw-
work explained, in a measure, the design of Providence in permitting this
part of the world to be discovered; but the sandy interior had to be
reconciled to the deeper divine intention by a trial of patience and the
cultivation of the heroic virtues evoked by a struggle for existence, of
fitting men and women for a better country. The travelers were
confirmed, however, in their theory of the effect of a sandy country upon
the human figure. This is not a juicy land, if the expression can be
tolerated, any more than the sandy parts of New Jersey, and its
unsympathetic dryness is favorable to the production--one can hardly say
development of the lean, enduring, flat-chested, and angular style of
In order to reach Plymouth a wait of a couple of hours was necessary at
one of the sleepy but historic villages. There was here no tavern,
no restaurant, and nobody appeared to have any license to sell anything
for the refreshment of the travelers. But at some distance from the
station, in a two-roomed dwelling-house, a good woman was found who was
willing to cook a meal of victuals, as she explained, and a sign on her
front door attested, she had a right to do. What was at the bottom of
the local prejudice against letting the wayfaring man have anything to
eat and drink, the party could not ascertain, but the defiant air of the
woman revealed the fact that there was such a prejudice. She was a
noble, robust, gigantic specimen of her sex, well formed, strong as an
ox, with a resolute jaw, and she talked, through tightly-closed teeth,
in an aggressive manner. Dinner was ordered, and the party strolled
about the village pending its preparation; but it was not ready when they
returned. "I ain't goin' to cook no victuals," the woman explained, not
ungraciously, "till I know folks is goin' to eat it." Knowledge of the
world had made her justly cautious. She intended to set out a good meal,
and she had the true housewife's desire that it should be eaten,
that there should be enough of it, and that the guests should like it.
When she waited on the table she displayed a pair of arms that would
discourage any approach to familiarity, and disincline a timid person to
ask twice for pie; but in point of fact, as soon as the party became her
bona-fide guests, she was royally hospitable, and only displayed anxiety
lest they should not eat enough.
"I like folks to be up and down and square," she began saying, as she
vigilantly watched the effect of her culinary skill upon the awed little
party. "Yes, I've got a regular hotel license; you bet I have. There's
been folks lawed in this town for sellin' a meal of victuals and not
having one. I ain't goin' to be taken in by anybody. I warn't raised in
New Hampshire to be scared by these Massachusetts folks. No, I hain't
got a girl now. I had one a spell, but I'd rather do my own work. You
never knew what a girl was doin' or would do. After she'd left I found a
broken plate tucked into the ash-barrel. Sho! you can't depend on a
girl. Yes, I've got a husband. It's easier to manage him. Well, I tell
you a husband is better than a girl. When you tell him to do anything,
you know it's going to be done. He's always about, never loafin' round;
he can take right hold and wash dishes, and fetch water, and anything."
King went into the kitchen after dinner and saw this model husband,
who had the faculty of making himself generally useful, holding a baby on
one arm, and stirring something in a pot on the stove with the other.
He looked hot but resigned. There has been so much said about the
position of men in Massachusetts that the travelers were glad of this
evidence that husbands are beginning to be appreciated. Under proper
training they are acknowledged to be "better than girls."
It was late afternoon when they reached the quiet haven of Plymouth--a
place where it is apparently always afternoon, a place of memory and
reminiscences, where the whole effort of the population is to hear and to
tell some old thing. As the railway ends there, there is no danger of
being carried beyond, and the train slowly ceases motion, and stands
still in the midst of a great and welcome silence. Peace fell upon the
travelers like a garment, and although they had as much difficulty in
landing their baggage as the early Pilgrims had in getting theirs ashore,
the circumstance was not able to disquiet them much. It seemed natural
that their trunks should go astray on some of the inextricably
interlocked and branching railways, and they had no doubt that when they
had made the tour of the State they would be discharged, as they finally
were, into this cul-de-sac.
The Pilgrims have made so much noise in the world, and so powerfully
affected the continent, that our tourists were surprised to find they had
landed in such a quiet place, and that the spirit they have left behind
them is one of such tranquillity. The village has a charm all its own.
Many of the houses are old-fashioned and square, some with colonial doors
and porches, irregularly aligned on the main street, which is arched by
ancient and stately elms. In the spacious door-yards the lindens have
had room and time to expand, and in the beds of bloom the flowers, if not
the very ones that our grandmothers planted, are the sorts that they
loved. Showing that the town has grown in sympathy with human needs and
eccentricities, and is not the work of a surveyor, the streets are
irregular, forming picturesque angles and open spaces.
Nothing could be imagined in greater contrast to a Western town, and a
good part of the satisfaction our tourists experienced was in the absence
of anything Western or "Queen Anne" in the architecture.
In the Pilgrim Hall--a stone structure with an incongruous wooden-
pillared front--they came into the very presence of the early worthies,
saw their portraits on the walls, sat in their chairs, admired the
solidity of their shoes, and imbued themselves with the spirit of the
relics of their heroic, uncomfortable lives. In the town there was
nothing to disturb the serenity of mind acquired by this communion.
The Puritan interdict of unseemly excitement still prevailed, and the
streets were silent; the artist, who could compare it with the placidity
of Holland towns, declared that he never walked in a village so silent;
there was no loud talking; and even the children played without noise,
like little Pilgrims. . . God bless such children, and increase their
numbers! It might have been the approach of Sunday--if Sunday is still
regarded in eastern Massachusetts--that caused this hush, for it was now
towards sunset on Saturday, and the inhabitants were washing the fronts
of the houses with the hose, showing how cleanliness is next to silence.
Possessed with the spirit of peace, our tourists, whose souls had been
vexed with the passions of many watering-places, walked down Leyden
Street (the first that was laid out), saw the site of the first house,
and turned round Carver Street, walking lingeringly, so as not to break
the spell, out upon the hill-Cole's Hill--where the dead during the first
fearful winter were buried. This has been converted into a beautiful
esplanade, grassed and graveled and furnished with seats, and overlooks
the old wharves, some coal schooners, and shabby buildings, on one of
which is a sign informing the reckless that they can obtain there clam-
chowder and ice-cream, and the ugly, heavy granite canopy erected over
the "Rock." No reverent person can see this rock for the first time
without a thrill of excitement. It has the date of 1620 cut in it, and
it is a good deal cracked and patched up, as if it had been much landed
on, but there it is, and there it will remain a witness to a great
historic event, unless somebody takes a notion to cart it off uptown
again. It is said to rest on another rock, of which it formed a part
before its unfortunate journey, and that lower rock as everybody knows,
rests upon the immutable principle of self-government. The stone lies
too far from the water to enable anybody to land on it now, and it is
protected from vandalism by an iron grating. The sentiment of the hour
was disturbed by the advent of the members of a baseball nine, who
wondered why the Pilgrims did not land on the wharf, and, while thrusting
their feet through the grating in a commendable desire to touch the
sacred rock, expressed a doubt whether the feet of the Pilgrims were
small enough to slip through the grating and land on the stone. It seems
that there is nothing safe from the irreverence of American youth.
Has any other coast town besides Plymouth had the good sense and taste to
utilize such an elevation by the water-side as an esplanade? It is a
most charming feature of the village, and gives it what we call a foreign
air. It was very lovely in the afterglow and at moonrise. Staid
citizens with their families occupied the benches, groups were chatting
under the spreading linden-tree at the north entrance, and young maidens
in white muslin promenaded, looking seaward, as was the wont of Puritan
maidens, watching a receding or coming Mayflower. But there was no loud
talking, no laughter, no outbursts of merriment from the children,
all ready to be transplanted to the Puritan heaven! It was high tide,
and all the bay was silvery with a tinge of color from the glowing sky.
The long, curved sand-spit-which was heavily wooded when the Pilgrims
landed-was silvery also, and upon its northern tip glowed the white
sparkle in the lighthouse like the evening-star. To the north, over the
smooth pink water speckled with white sails, rose Captain Hill, in
Duxbury, bearing the monument to Miles Standish. Clarke's Island (where
the Pilgrims heard a sermon on the first Sunday), Saguish Point, and
Gurnett Headland (showing now twin white lights) appear like a long
island intersected by thin lines of blue water. The effect of these
ribbons of alternate sand and water, of the lights and the ocean (or
Great Bay) beyond, was exquisite.
Even the unobtrusive tavern at the rear of the esplanade, ancient, feebly
lighted, and inviting, added something to the picturesqueness of the
scene. The old tree by the gate--an English linden--illuminated by the
street lamps and the moon, had a mysterious appearance, and the tourists
were not surprised to learn that it has a romantic history. The story is
that the twig or sapling from which it grew was brought over from England
by a lover as a present to his mistress, that the lovers quarreled almost
immediately, that the girl in a pet threw it out of the window when she
sent her lover out of the door, and that another man picked it up and
planted it where it now grows. The legend provokes a good many
questions. One would like to know whether this was the first case of
female rebellion in Massachusetts against the common-law right of a man
to correct a woman with a stick not thicker than his little finger--
a rebellion which has resulted in the position of man as the tourists saw
him where the New Hampshire Amazon gave them a meal of victuals; and
whether the girl married the man who planted the twig, and, if so,
whether he did not regret that he had not kept it by him.
This is a world of illusions. By daylight, when the tide was out,
the pretty silver bay of the night before was a mud flat, and the
tourists, looking over it from Monument Hill, lost some of their respect
for the Pilgrim sagacity in selecting a landing-place. They had ascended
the hill for a nearer view of the monument, King with a reverent wish to
read the name of his Mayflower ancestor on the tablet, the others in a
spirit of cold, New York criticism, for they thought the structure,
which is still unfinished, would look uglier near at hand than at a
distance. And it does. It is a pile of granite masonry surmounted by
"It is such an unsympathetic, tasteless-looking thing!" said Miss Lamont.
"Do you think it is the worst in the country?"
"I wouldn't like to say that," replied the artist, "when the competition
in this direction is so lively. But just look at the drawing" (holding
up his pencil with which he had intended to sketch it). "If it were
quaint, now, or rude, or archaic, it might be in keeping, but bad drawing
is just vulgar. I should think it had been designed by a carpenter, and
executed by a stone-mason."
"Yes," said the little Lamont, who always fell in with the most
abominable opinions the artist expressed; "it ought to have been made
of wood, and painted and sanded."
"You will please remember," mildly suggested King, who had found the name
he was in search of, "that you are trampling on my ancestral
sensibilities, as might be expected of those who have no ancestors who
ever landed or ever were buried anywhere in particular. I look at the
commemorative spirit rather than the execution of the monument."
"So do I," retorted the girl; "and if the Pilgrims landed in such a
vulgar, ostentatious spirit as this, I'm glad my name is not on the
The party were in a better mood when they had climbed up Burial Hill,
back of the meeting-house, and sat down on one of the convenient benches
amid the ancient gravestones, and looked upon the wide and magnificent
prospect. A soft summer wind waved a little the long gray grass of the
ancient resting-place, and seemed to whisper peace to the weary
generation that lay there. What struggles, what heroisms, the names on
the stones recalled! Here had stood the first fort of 1620, and here the
watchtower of 1642, from the top of which the warder espied the lurking
savage, or hailed the expected ship from England. How much of history
this view recalled, and what pathos of human life these graves made real.
Read the names of those buried a couple of centuries ago--captains,
elders, ministers, governors, wives well beloved, children a span long,
maidens in the blush of womanhood--half the tender inscriptions are
illegible; the stones are broken, sunk, slanting to fall. What a pitiful
attempt to keep the world mindful of the departed!
MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, ISLES OF SHOALS
Mr. Stanhope King was not in very good spirits. Even Boston did not make
him cheerful. He was half annoyed to see the artist and Miss Lamont
drifting along in such laughing good-humor with the world, as if a summer
holiday was just a holiday without any consequences or responsibilities.
It was to him a serious affair ever since that unsatisfactory note from
Miss Benson; somehow the summer had lost its sparkle. And yet was it not
preposterous that a girl, just a single girl, should have the power to
change for a man the aspect of a whole coast-by her presence to make it
iridescent with beauty, and by her absence to take all the life out of
it? And a simple girl from Ohio! She was not by any means the prettiest
girl in the Newport Casino that morning, but it was her figure that he
remembered, and it was the look of hurt sensibility in her eyes that
stayed with him. He resented the attitude of the Casino towards her,
and he hated himself for his share in it. He would write to her.....
He composed letter after letter in his mind, which he did not put on
paper. How many millions of letters are composed in this way! It is a
favorite occupation of imaginative people; and as they say that no
thoughts or mental impressions are ever lost, but are all registered--
made, as it were, on a "dry-plate," to be developed hereafter--what a
vast correspondence must be lying in the next world, in the Dead-letter
Office there, waiting for the persons to whom it is addressed, who will
all receive it and read it some day! How unpleasant and absurd it will
be to read, much of it! I intend to be careful, for my part, about
composing letters of this sort hereafter. Irene, I dare say, will find a
great many of them from Mr. King, thought out in those days. But he
mailed none of them to her. What should he say? Should he tell her that
he didn't mind if her parents were what Mrs. Bartlett Glow called
"impossible"? If he attempted any explanation, would it not involve the
offensive supposition that his social rank was different from hers?
Even if he convinced her that he recognized no caste in American society,
what could remove from her mind the somewhat morbid impression that her
education had put her in a false position? His love probably could not
shield her from mortification in a society which, though indefinable in
its limits and code, is an entity more vividly felt than the government
of the United States.
"Don't you think the whole social atmosphere has changed," Miss Lamont
suddenly asked, as they were running along in the train towards
Manchester-by-the-Sea, "since we got north of Boston? I seem to find it
so. Don't you think it's more refined, and, don't you know, sort of
cultivated, and subdued, and Boston? You notice the gentlemen who get
out at all these stations, to go to their country-houses, how highly
civilized they look, and ineffably respectable and intellectual, all of
them presidents of colleges, and substantial bank directors, and possible
ambassadors, and of a social cult (isn't that the word?) uniting brains
and gentle manners."
"You must have been reading the Boston newspapers; you have hit the idea
prevalent in these parts, at any rate. I was, however, reminded myself
of an afternoon train out of London, say into Surrey, on which you are
apt to encounter about as high a type of civilized men as anywhere."
"And you think this is different from a train out of New York?" asked the
"Yes. New York is more mixed. No one train has this kind of tone.
You see there more of the broker type and politician type, smarter
apparel and nervous manners, but, dear me, not this high moral and
"Well," said the artist, "I'm changing my mind about this country.
I didn't expect so much variety. I thought that all the watering-places
would be pretty much alike, and that we should see the same people
everywhere. But the people are quite as varied as the scenery."
"There you touch a deep question--the refining or the vulgarizing
influence of man upon nature, and the opposite. Now, did the summer
Bostonians make this coast refined, or did this coast refine the
Bostonians who summer here?"
"Well, this is primarily an artistic coast; I feel the influence of it;
there is a refined beauty in all the lines, and residents have not
vulgarized it much. But I wonder what Boston could have done for the
In the midst of this high and useless conversation they came to the
Masconomo House, a sort of concession, in this region of noble villas and
private parks, to the popular desire to get to the sea. It is a long,
low house, with very broad passages below and above, which give lightness
and cheerfulness to the interior, and each of the four corners of the
entrance hall has a fireplace. The pillars of the front and back piazzas
are pine stems stained, with the natural branches cut in unequal lengths,
and look like the stumps for the bears to climb in the pit at Berne.
Set up originally with the bark on, the worms worked underneath it in
secret, at a novel sort of decoration, until the bark came off and
exposed the stems most beautifully vermiculated, giving the effect of
fine carving. Back of the house a meadow slopes down to a little beach
in a curved bay that has rocky headlands, and is defended in part by
islands of rock. The whole aspect of the place is peaceful. The hotel
does not assert itself very loudly, and if occasionally transient guests
appear with flash manners, they do not affect the general tone of the
One finds, indeed, nature and social life happily blended, the
exclusiveness being rather protective than offensive. The special charm
of this piece of coast is that it is bold, much broken and indented,
precipices fronting the waves, promontories jutting out, high rocky
points commanding extensive views, wild and picturesque, and yet softened
by color and graceful shore lines, and the forest comes down to the edge
of the sea. And the occupants have heightened rather than lessened this
picturesqueness by adapting their villas to a certain extent to the rocks
and inequalities in color and form, and by means of roads, allies, and
vistas transforming the region into a lovely park.
Here, as at Newport, is cottage life, but the contrast of the two places
is immense. There is here no attempt at any assembly or congregated
gayety or display. One would hesitate to say that the drives here have
more beauty, but they have more variety. They seem endless, through
odorous pine woods and shady lanes, by private roads among beautiful
villas and exquisite grounds, with evidences everywhere of wealth to be
sure, but of individual taste and refinement. How sweet and cool are
these winding ways in the wonderful woods, overrun with vegetation, the
bayberry, the sweet-fern, the wild roses, wood-lilies, and ferns! and it
is ever a fresh surprise at a turn to find one's self so near the sea,
and to open out an entrancing coast view, to emerge upon a promontory and
a sight of summer isles, of lighthouses, cottages, villages--Marblehead,
Salem, Beverly. What a lovely coast! and how wealth and culture have set
their seal on it.
It possesses essentially the same character to the north, although the
shore is occasionally higher and bolder, as at the picturesque promontory
of Magnolia, and Cape Ann exhibits more of the hotel and popular life.
But to live in one's own cottage, to choose his calling and dining
acquaintances, to make the long season contribute something to
cultivation in literature, art, music--to live, in short, rather more for
one's self than for society--seems the increasing tendency of the men of
fortune who can afford to pay as much for an acre of rock and sand at
Manchester as would build a decent house elsewhere. The tourist does not
complain of this, and is grateful that individuality has expressed itself
in the great variety of lovely homes, in cottages very different from
those on the Jersey coast, showing more invention, and good in form and
There are New-Yorkers at Manchester, and Bostonians at Newport; but who
was it that said New York expresses itself at Newport, and Boston at
Manchester and kindred coast settlements? This may be only fancy.
Where intellectual life keeps pace with the accumulation of wealth,
society is likely to be more natural, simpler, less tied to artificial
rules, than where wealth runs ahead. It happens that the quiet social
life of Beverly, Manchester, and that region is delightful, although it
is a home rather than a public life. Nowhere else at dinner and at the
chance evening musicale is the foreigner more likely to meet sensible men
who are good talkers, brilliant and witty women who have the gift of
being entertaining, and to have the events of the day and the social and
political problems more cleverly discussed. What is the good of wealth
if it does not bring one back to freedom, and the ability to live
naturally and to indulge the finer tastes in vacation-time?
After all, King reflected, as the party were on their way to the Isles of
Shoals, what was it that had most impressed him at Manchester? Was it
not an evening spent in a cottage amid the rocks, close by the water,
in the company of charming people? To be sure, there were the magical
reflection of the moonlight and the bay, the points of light from the
cottages on the rocky shore, the hum and swell of the sea, and all the
mystery of the shadowy headlands; but this was only a congenial setting
for the music, the witty talk, the free play of intellectual badinage,
and seriousness, and the simple human cordiality that were worth all the
What a kaleidoscope it is, this summer travel, and what an entertainment,
if the tourist can only keep his "impression plates" fresh to take the
new scenes, and not sink into the state of chronic grumbling at hotels
and minor discomforts! An interview at a ticket-office, a whirl of an
hour on the rails, and to Portsmouth, anchored yet to the colonial times
by a few old houses, and resisting with its respectable provincialism the
encroachments of modern smartness, and the sleepy wharf in the sleepy
harbor, where the little steamer is obligingly waiting for the last
passenger, for the very last woman, running with a bandbox in one hand,
and dragging a jerked, fretting child by the other hand, to make the
hour's voyage to the Isles of Shoals.
(The shrewd reader objects to the bandbox as an anachronism: it is no
longer used. If I were writing a novel, instead of a veracious
chronicle, I should not have introduced it, for it is an anachronism.
But I was powerless, as a mere narrator, to prevent the woman coming
aboard with her bandbox. No one but a trained novelist can make a long-
striding, resolute, down-East woman conform to his notions of conduct and
If a young gentleman were in love, and the object of his adoration were
beside him, he could not have chosen a lovelier day nor a prettier scene
than this in which to indulge his happiness; and if he were in love, and
the object absent, he could scarcely find a situation fitter to nurse his
tender sentiment. Doubtless there is a stage in love when scenery of the
very best quality becomes inoperative. There was a couple on board
seated in front of the pilot-house, who let the steamer float along the
pretty, long, landlocked harbor, past the Kittery Navy-yard, and out upon
the blue sea, without taking the least notice of anything but each other.
They were on a voyage of their own, Heaven help them! probably without
any chart, a voyage of discovery, just as fresh and surprising as if they
were the first who ever took it. It made no difference to them that
there was a personally conducted excursion party on board, going, they
said, to the Oceanic House on Star Island, who had out their maps and
guide-books and opera-glasses, and wrung the last drop of the cost of
their tickets out of every foot of the scenery. Perhaps it was to King
a more sentimental journey than to anybody else, because he invoked his
memory and his imagination, and as the lovely shores opened or fell away
behind the steamer in ever-shifting forms of beauty, the scene was in
harmony with both his hope and his longing. As to Marion and the artist,
they freely appropriated and enjoyed it. So that mediaeval structure,
all tower, growing out of the rock, is Stedman's Castle--just like him,
to let his art spring out of nature in that way. And that is the famous
"What do they do there, uncle?" asked the girl, after scanning the place
in search of dry-docks and vessels and the usual accompaniments of a
"Oh, they make 'repairs,' principally just before an election. It is
very busy then."
"What sort of repairs?"
"Why, political repairs; they call them naval in the department. They
are always getting appropriations for them. I suppose that this country
is better off for naval repairs than any other country in the world."
"And they are done here?"
"No; they are done in the department. Here is where the voters are. You
see, we have a political navy. It costs about as much as those navies
that have ships and guns, but it is more in accord with the peaceful
spirit of the age. Did you never hear of the leading case of 'repairs'
of a government vessel here at Kittery? The 'repairs' were all done
here, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the vessel lay all the time at
Portsmouth, Virginia. How should the department know that there were two
places of the same name? It usually intends to have 'repairs' and the
vessel in the same navy-yard."
The steamer was gliding along over smooth water towards the seven blessed
isles, which lay there in the sun, masses of rock set in a sea sparkling
with diamond points. There were two pretty girls in the pilot-house, and
the artist thought their presence there accounted for the serene voyage,
for the masts of a wrecked schooner rising out of the shallows to the
north reminded him that this is a dangerous coast. But he said the
passengers would have a greater sense of security if the usual placard
(for the benefit of the captain) was put up: "No flirting with the girl
at the wheel."
At a distance nothing could be more barren than these islands, which
Captain John Smith and their native poet have enveloped in a halo of
romance, and it was not until the steamer was close to it that any
landing-place was visible on Appledore, the largest of the group.
The boat turned into a pretty little harbor among the rocks, and the
settlement was discovered: a long, low, old-fashioned hotel with piazzas,
and a few cottages, perched on the ledges, the door-yards of which were
perfectly ablaze with patches of flowers, masses of red, yellow, purple-
poppies, marigolds, nasturtiums, bachelor's-buttons, lovely splashes of
color against the gray lichen-covered rock. At the landing is an
interior miniature harbor, walled in, and safe for children to paddle
about and sail on in tiny boats. The islands offer scarcely any other
opportunity for bathing, unless one dare take a plunge off the rocks.
Talk of the kaleidoscope! At a turn of the wrist, as it were, the
elements of society had taken a perfectly novel shape here. Was it only
a matter of grouping and setting, or were these people different from all
others the tourists had seen? There was a lively scene in the hotel
corridor, the spacious office with its long counters and post-office,
when the noon mail was opened and the letters called out. So many pretty
girls, with pet dogs of all degrees of ugliness (dear little objects of
affection overflowing and otherwise running to waste--one of the most
pathetic sights in this sad world), jaunty suits with a nautical cut,
for boating and rock-climbing, family groups, so much animation and
excitement over the receipt of letters, so much well-bred chaffing and
friendliness, such an air of refinement and "style," but withal so
homelike. These people were "guests" of the proprietors, who
nevertheless felt a sort of proprietorship themselves in the little
island, and were very much like a company together at sea. For living on
this island is not unlike being on shipboard at sea, except that this
rock does not heave about in a nauseous way.
Mr. King discovered by the register that the Bensons had been here (of
all places in the world, he thought this would be the ideal one for a few
days with her), and Miss Lamont had a letter from Irene, which she did
not offer to read.
"They didn't stay long," she said, as Mr. King seemed to expect some
information out of the letter, "and they have gone on to Bar Harbor.
I should like to stop here a week; wouldn't you?"
"Ye-e-s," trying to recall the mood he was in before he looked at the
register; "but--but" (thinking of the words "gone on to Bar Harbor")
"it is a place, after all, that you can see in a short time--go all over
it in half a day."
"But you want to sit about on the rocks, and look at the sea, and dream."
"I can't dream on an island-not on a small island. It's too cooped up;
you get a feeling of being a prisoner."
"I suppose you wish 'that little isle had wings, and you and I within its
"There's one thing I will not stand, Miss Lamont, and that's Moore."
"Come, let's go to Star Island."
The party went in the tug Pinafore, which led a restless, fussy life,
puffing about among these islands, making the circuit of Appledore at
fixed hours, and acting commonly as a ferry. Star Island is smaller than
Appledore and more barren, but it has the big hotel (and a different
class of guests from those on Appledore), and several monuments of
romantic interest. There is the ancient stone church, rebuilt some time
in this century; there are some gravestones; there is a monument to
Captain John Smith, the only one existing anywhere to that interesting
adventurer--a triangular shaft, with a long inscription that could not
have been more eulogistic if he had composed it himself. There is
something pathetic in this lonely monument when we recall Smith's own
touching allusion to this naked rock, on which he probably landed when he
once coasted along this part of New England, as being his sole possession
in the world at the end of his adventurous career:
"No lot for me but Smith's Isles, which are an array of barren
rocks, the most overgrown with shrubs and sharpe whins you can
hardly pass them; without either grasse or wood, but three or foure
short shrubby old cedars."
Every tourist goes to the south end of Star Island, and climbs down on
the face of the precipice to the "Chair," a niche where a school-teacher
used to sit as long ago as 1848. She was sitting there one day when a
wave came up and washed her away into the ocean. She disappeared. But
she who loses her life shall save it. That one thoughtless act of hers
did more for her reputation than years of faithful teaching, than all her
beauty, grace, and attractions. Her "Chair" is a point of pilgrimage.
The tourist looks at it, guesses at its height above the water, regards
the hungry sea with aversion, re-enacts the drama in his imagination,
sits in the chair, has his wife sit in it, has his boy and girl sit in it
together, wonders what the teacher's name was, stops at the hotel and
asks the photograph girl, who does not know, and the proprietor, who says
it's in a book somewhere, and finally learns that it was Underhill, and
straightway forgets it when he leaves the island.
What a delicious place it is, this Appledore, when the elements favor!
The party were lodged in a little cottage, whence they overlooked the
hotel and the little harbor, and could see all the life of the place,
looking over the bank of flowers that draped the rocks of the door-yard.
How charming was the miniature pond, with the children sailing round and
round, and the girls in pretty costumes bathing, and sunlight lying so
warm upon the greenish-gray rocks! But the night, following the glorious
after-glow, the red sky, all the level sea, and the little harbor
burnished gold, the rocks purple--oh! the night, when the moon came!
Oh, Irene! Great heavens! why will this world fall into such a
sentimental fit, when all the sweetness and the light of it are away at
Love and moonlight, and the soft lapse of the waves and singing? Yes,
there are girls down by the landing with a banjo, and young men singing
the songs of love, the modern songs of love dashed with college slang.
The banjo suggests a little fastness; and this new generation carries off
its sentiment with some bravado and a mocking tone. Presently the tug
Pinafore glides up to the landing, the engineer flings open the furnace
door, and the glowing fire illumines the interior, brings out forms and
faces, and deepens the heavy shadows outside. It is like a cavern scene
in the opera. A party of ladies in white come down to cross to Star.
Some of these insist upon climbing up to the narrow deck, to sit on the
roof and enjoy the moonlight and the cinders. Girls like to do these
things, which are more unconventional than hazardous, at watering-places.
What a wonderful effect it is, the masses of rock, water, sky, the night,
all details lost in simple lines and forms! On the piazza of the cottage
is a group of ladies and gentlemen in poses more or less graceful;
one lady is in a hammock; on one side is the moonlight, on the other come
gleams from the curtained windows touching here and there a white
shoulder, or lighting a lovely head; the vines running up on strings and
half enclosing the piazza make an exquisite tracery against the sky,
and cast delicate shadow patterns on the floor; all the time music
within, the piano, the violin, and the sweet waves of a woman's voice
singing the songs of Schubert, floating out upon the night. A soft wind
blows out of the west.
The northern part of Appledore Island is an interesting place to wander.
There are no trees, but the plateau is far from barren. The gray rocks
crop out among bayberry and huckleberry bushes, and the wild rose, very
large and brilliant in color, fairly illuminates the landscape, massing
its great bushes. Amid the chaotic desert of broken rocks farther south
are little valleys of deep green grass, gay with roses. On the savage
precipices at the end one may sit in view of an extensive sweep of coast
with a few hills, and of other rocky islands, sails, and ocean-going
steamers. Here are many nooks and hidden corners to dream in and make
love in, the soft sea air being favorable to that soft-hearted
One could easily get attached to the place, if duty and Irene did not
call elsewhere. Those who dwell here the year round find most
satisfaction when the summer guests have gone and they are alone with
freaky nature. "Yes," said the woman in charge of one of the cottages,"
I've lived here the year round for sixteen years, and I like it. After
we get fixed up comfortable for winter, kill a critter, have pigs, and
make my own sassengers, then there ain't any neighbors comin' in, and
that's what I like."
The attraction of Bar Harbor is in the union of mountain and sea; the
mountains rise in granite majesty right out of the ocean. The traveler
expects to find a repetition of Mount Athos rising six thousand feet out
of the AEgean.
The Bar-Harborers made a mistake in killing--if they did kill--the
stranger who arrived at this resort from the mainland, and said it would
be an excellent sea-and-mountain place if there were any mountains or any
sea in sight. Instead, if they had taken him in a row-boat and pulled
him out through the islands, far enough, he would have had a glimpse of
the ocean, and if then he had been taken by the cog-railway seventeen
hundred feet to the top of Green Mountain, he would not only have found
himself on firm, rising ground, but he would have been obliged to confess
that, with his feet upon a solid mountain of granite, he saw innumerable
islands and, at a distance, a considerable quantity of ocean. He would
have repented his hasty speech. In two days he would have been a
partisan of the place, and in a week he would have been an owner of real
There is undeniably a public opinion in Bar Harbor in favor of it, and
the visitor would better coincide with it. He is anxiously asked at
every turn how he likes it, and if he does not like it he is an
object of compassion. Countless numbers of people who do not own a foot
of land there are devotees of the place. Any number of certificates to
its qualities could be obtained, as to a patent medicine, and they would
all read pretty much alike, after the well-known formula: "The first
bottle I took did, me no good, after the second I was worse, after the
third I improved, after the twelfth I walked fifty miles in one day; and
now I never do without it, I take never less than fifty bottles a year."
So it would be: "At first I felt just as you do, shut-in place, foggy,
stayed only two days. Only came back again to accompany friends, stayed
a week, foggy, didn't like it. Can't tell how I happened to come back
again, stayed a month, and I tell you, there is no place like it in
America. Spend all my summers here."
The genesis of Bar Harbor is curious and instructive. For many years,
like other settlements on Mount Desert Island; it had been frequented by
people who have more fondness for nature than they have money, and who
were willing to put up with wretched accommodations, and enjoyed a mild
sort of "roughing it." But some society people in New York, who have the
reputation of setting the mode, chanced to go there; they declared in
favor of it; and instantly, by an occult law which governs fashionable
life, Bar Harbor became the fashion. Everybody could see its preeminent
attractions. The word was passed along by the Boudoir Telephone from
Boston to New Orleans, and soon it was a matter of necessity for a
debutante, or a woman of fashion, or a man of the world, or a blase boy,
to show themselves there during the season. It became the scene of
summer romances; the student of manners went there to study the "American
girl." The notion spread that it was the finest sanitarium on the
continent for flirtations; and as trade is said to follow the flag, so in
this case real-estate speculation rioted in the wake of beauty and
There is no doubt that the "American girl" is there, as she is at divers
other sea-and-land resorts; but the present peculiarity of this watering-
place is that the American young man is there also. Some philosophers
have tried to account for this coincidence by assuming that the American
girl is the attraction to the young man. But this seems to me a
misunderstanding of the spirit of this generation. Why are young men
quoted as "scarce" in other resorts swarming with sweet girls, maidens
who have learned the art of being agreeable, and interesting widows in
the vanishing shades of an attractive and consolable grief? No. Is it
not rather the cold, luminous truth that the American girl found out that
Bar Harbor, without her presence, was for certain reasons, such as
unconventionality, a bracing air, opportunity for boating, etc.,
agreeable to the young man? But why do elderly people go there? This
question must have been suggested by a foreigner, who is ignorant that in
a republic it is the young ones who know what is best for the elders.
Our tourists passed a weary, hot day on the coast railway of Maine.
Notwithstanding the high temperature, the country seemed cheerless, the
sunlight to fall less genially than in more fertile regions to the south,
upon a landscape stripped of its forests, naked, and unpicturesque.
Why should the little white houses of the prosperous little villages on
the line of the rail seem cold and suggest winter, and the land seem
scrimped and without an atmosphere? It chanced so, for everybody knows
that it is a lovely coast. The artist said it was the Maine Law.
But that could not be, for the only drunken man encountered on their tour
they saw at the Bangor Station, where beer was furtively sold.
They were plunged into a cold bath on the steamer in the half-hour's sail
from the end of the rail to Bar Harbor. The wind was fresh, white-caps
enlivened the scene, the spray dashed over the huge pile of baggage on
the bow, the passengers shivered, and could little enjoy the islands and
the picturesque shore, but fixed eyes of hope upon the electric lights
which showed above the headlands, and marked the site of the hotels and
the town in the hidden harbor. Spits of rain dashed in their faces, and
in some discomfort they came to the wharf, which was alive with vehicles
and tooters for the hotels. In short, with its lights and noise, it had