Part 4 out of 5
pleasure to know you! I suppose I shall see you sometimes at
Moneymaker's!' Moneymaker's is the Bon Marche of Philadelphia."
The music ceased; the band were hurrying away; the people all over the
grounds were rising to go, lingering a little, reluctant to leave the
enchanting scene. Irene wished, with a sigh, that it might never end;
unreal as it was, it was more native to her spirit than that future which
her talk with Stanhope had opened to her contemplation. An ill-defined
apprehension possessed her in spite of the reassuring presence of her
lover and her perfect confidence in the sincerity of his passion; and
this feeling was somehow increased by the appearance of Mrs. Glow with
her mother; she could not shake off the uneasy suggestion of the
At the hour when the ladies went to their rooms the day was just
beginning for a certain class of the habitues. The parlors were nearly
deserted, and few chairs were occupied on the piazzas, but the ghosts of
another generation seemed to linger, especially in the offices and
barroom. Flitting about were to be seen the social heroes who had a
notoriety thirty and forty years ago in the newspapers. This dried-up
old man in a bronze wig, scuffling along in list slippers, was a famous
criminal lawyer in his day; this gentleman, who still wears an air of
gallantry, and is addressed as General, had once a reputation for
successes in the drawing-room as well as on the field of Mars; here is a
genuine old beau, with the unmistakable self-consciousness of one who has
been a favorite of the sex, but who has slowly decayed in the midst of
his cosmetics; here saunter along a couple of actors with the air of
being on the stage. These people all have the "nightcap" habit, and
drift along towards the bar-room--the last brilliant scene in the drama
of the idle day, the necessary portal to the realm of silence and sleep.
This is a large apartment, brightly lighted, with a bar extending across
one end of it. Modern taste is conspicuous here, nothing is gaudy,
colors are subdued, and its decorations are simple even the bar itself is
refined, substantial, decorous, wanting entirely the meretricious glitter
and barbarous ornamentation of the old structures of this sort, and the
attendants have wholly laid aside the smart antics of the former
bartender, and the customers are swiftly and silently served by the
deferential waiters. This is one of the most striking changes that King
noticed in American life.
There is a certain sort of life-whether it is worth seeing is a question
that we can see nowhere else, and for an hour Mr. Glow and King and
Forbes, sipping their raspberry shrub in a retired corner of the bar-
room, were interested spectators of the scene. Through the padded
swinging doors entered, as in a play, character after character. Each
actor as he entered stopped for a moment and stared about him, and in
this act revealed his character-his conceit, his slyness, his bravado,
his self-importance. There was great variety, but practically one
prevailing type, and that the New York politician. Most of them were
from the city, though the country politician apes the city politician as
much as possible, but he lacks the exact air, notwithstanding the black
broadcloth and the white hat. The city men are of two varieties--the
smart, perky-nosed, vulgar young ward worker, and the heavy-featured,
gross, fat old fellow. One after another they glide in, with an always
conscious air, swagger off to the bar, strike attitudes in groups, one
with his legs spread, another with a foot behind on tiptoe, another
leaning against the counter, and so pose, and drink "My respects"--all
rather solemn and stiff, impressed perhaps by the decorousness of the
place, and conscious of their good clothes. Enter together three stout
men, a yard across the shoulders, each with an enormous development in
front, waddle up to the bar, attempt to form a triangular group for
conversation, but find themselves too far apart to talk in that position,
and so arrange themselves side by side--a most distinguished-looking
party, like a portion of a swell-front street in Boston. To them
swaggers up a young sport, like one of Thackeray's figures in the "Irish
Sketch-Book"--short, in a white hat, poor face, impudent manner, poses
before the swell fronts, and tosses off his glass. About a little table
in one corner are three excessively "ugly mugs," leering at each other
and pouring down champagne. These men are all dressed as nearly like
gentlemen as the tailor can make them, but even he cannot change their
hard, brutal faces. It is not their fault that money and clothes do not
make a gentleman; they are well fed and vulgarly prosperous, and if you
inquire you will find that their women are in silks and laces. This is a
good place to study the rulers of New York; and impressive as they are in
appearance, it is a relief to notice that they unbend to each other, and
hail one another familiarly as "Billy" and "Tommy." Do they not ape what
is most prosperous and successful in American life? There is one who in
make-up, form, and air, even to the cut of his side-whiskers, is an exact
counterpart of the great railway king. Here is a heavy-faced young
fellow in evening dress, perhaps endeavoring to act the part of a
gentleman, who has come from an evening party unfortunately a little
"slewed," but who does not know how to sustain the character, for
presently he becomes very familiar and confidential with the dignified
colored waiter at the buffet, who requires all his native politeness to
maintain the character of a gentleman for two.
If these men had millions, could they get any more enjoyment out of life?
To have fine clothes, drink champagne, and pose in a fashionable bar-room
in the height of the season--is not this the apotheosis of the "heeler"
and the ward "worker"? The scene had a fascination for the artist, who
declared that he never tired watching the evolutions of the foreign
element into the full bloom of American citizenship.
LAKE GEORGE, AND SARATOGA AGAIN
The intimacy between Mrs. Bartlett Glow and Irene increased as the days
went by. The woman of society was always devising plans for Irene's
entertainment, and winning her confidence by a thousand evidences of
interest and affection. Pleased as King was with this at first, he began
to be annoyed at a devotion to which he could have no objection except
that it often came between him and the enjoyment of the girl's society
alone; and latterly he had noticed that her manner was more grave when
they were together, and that a little something of reserve mingled with
They made an excursion one day to Lake George--a poetical pilgrimage that
recalled to some of the party (which included some New Orleans friends)
the romance of early days. To the Bensons and the artist it was all new,
and to King it was seen for the first time in the transforming atmosphere
of love. To men of sentiment its beauties will never be exhausted; but
to the elderly and perhaps rheumatic tourist the draughty steamboats do
not always bring back the remembered delight of youth. There is no
pleasanter place in the North for a summer residence, but there is a
certain element of monotony and weariness inseparable from an excursion:
travelers have been known to yawn even on the Rhine. It was a gray day,
the country began to show the approach of autumn, and the view from the
landing at Caldwell's, the head of the lake, was never more pleasing.
In the marshes the cat-tails and the faint flush of color on the alders
and soft maples gave a character to the low shore, and the gentle rise of
the hills from the water's edge combined to make a sweet and peaceful
The tourists find the steamer waiting for them at the end of the rail,
and if they are indifferent to the war romances of the place, as most of
them are, they hurry on without a glance at the sites of the famous old
forts St. George and William Henry. Yet the head of the lake might well
detain them a few hours though they do not care for the scalping Indians
and their sometime allies the French or the English. On the east side
the lake is wooded to the shore, and the jutting points and charming bays
make a pleasant outline to the eye. Crosbyside is the ideal of a summer
retreat, nestled in foliage on a pretty point, with its great trees on a
sloping lawn, boathouses and innumerable row and sail boats, and a lovely
view, over the blue waters, of a fine range of hills. Caldwell itself,
on the west side, is a pretty tree-planted village in a break in the
hills, and a point above it shaded with great pines is a favorite
rendezvous for pleasure parties, who leave the ground strewn with egg-
shells and newspapers. The Fort William Henry Hotel was formerly the
chief resort on the lake. It is a long, handsome structure, with broad
piazzas, and low evergreens and flowers planted in front. The view from
it, under the great pines, of the lake and the northern purple hills, is
lovely. But the tide of travel passes it by, and the few people who were
there seemed lonesome. It is always so. Fashion demands novelty; one
class of summer boarders and tourists drives out another, and the people
who want to be sentimental at this end of the lake now pass it with a
call, perhaps a sigh for the past, and go on to fresh pastures where
their own society is encamped.
Lake George has changed very much within ten years; hotels and great
boarding-houses line the shores; but the marked difference is in the
increase of cottage life. As our tourists sailed down the lake they were
surprised by the number of pretty villas with red roofs peeping out from
the trees, and the occupation of every island and headland by gay and
often fantastic summer residences. King had heard this lake compared
with Como and Maggiore, and as a patriot he endeavored to think that its
wild and sylvan loveliness was more pleasing than the romantic beauty of
the Italian lakes. But the effort failed. In this climate it is
impossible that Horicon should ever be like Como. Pretty hills and
forests and temporary summer structures cannot have the poetic or the
substantial interest of the ancient villages and towns clinging to the
hills, the old stone houses, the vines, the ruins, the atmosphere of a
long civilization. They do the lovely Horicon no service who provoke
The lake has a character of its own. As the traveler sails north and
approaches the middle of the lake, the gems of green islands multiply,
the mountains rise higher, and shouldering up in the sky seem to bar a
further advance; toward sunset the hills, which are stately but lovely, a
silent assembly of round and sharp peaks, with long, graceful slopes,
take on exquisite colors, violet, bronze, and green, and now and again a
bold rocky bluff shines like a ruby in the ruddy light. Just at dusk the
steamer landed midway in the lake at Green Island, where the scenery is
the boldest and most romantic; from the landing a park-like lawn, planted
with big trees, slopes up to a picturesque hotel. Lights twinkled from
many a cottage window and from boats in the bay, and strains of music
saluted the travelers. It was an enchanting scene.
The genius of Philadelphia again claims the gratitude of the tourist, for
the Sagamore Hotel is one of the most delightful hostelries in the world.
A peculiar, interesting building, rambling up the slope on different
levels, so contrived that all the rooms are outside, and having a
delightful irregularity, as if the house had been a growth. Naturally a
hotel so dainty in its service and furniture, and so refined, was crowded
to its utmost capacity. The artist could find nothing to complain of in
the morning except that the incandescent electric light in his chamber
went out suddenly at midnight and left him in blank darkness in the most
exciting crisis of a novel. Green Island is perhaps a mile long. A
bridge connects it with the mainland, and besides the hotel it has a
couple of picturesque stone and timber cottages. At the north end are
the remains of the English intrenchments of 1755--signs of war and hate
which kindly nature has almost obliterated with sturdy trees. With the
natural beauty of the island art has little interfered; near the hotel is
the most stately grove of white birches anywhere to be seen, and their
silvery sheen, with occasional patches of sedge, and the tender sort of
foliage that Corot liked to paint, gives an exceptional refinement to the
landscape. One needs, indeed, to be toned up by the glimpses, under the
trees, over the blue water, of the wooded craggy hills, with their shelf-
like ledges, which are full of strength and character. The charm of the
place is due to this combination of loveliness and granitic strength.
Irene long remembered the sail of that morning, seated in the bow of the
steamer with King, through scenes of ever-changing beauty, as the boat
wound about the headlands and made its calls, now on one side and now on
the other, at the pretty landings and decorated hotels. On every hand
was the gayety of summer life--a striped tent on a rocky point with a
platform erected for dancing, a miniature bark but on an island, and a
rustic arched bridge to the mainland, gaudy little hotels with winding
paths along the shore, and at all the landings groups of pretty girls and
college lads in boating costume. It was wonderful how much these holiday
makers were willing to do for the entertainment of the passing travelers.
A favorite pastime in this peaceful region was the broom drill, and its
execution gave an operatic character to the voyage. When the steamer
approaches, a band of young ladies in military ranks, clad in light
marching costume, each with a broom in place of a musket, descend to the
landing and delight the spectators with their warlike manoeuvres. The
march in the broom-drill is two steps forward and one step back, a mode
of progression that conveys the notion of a pleasing indecision of
purpose, which is foreign to the character of these handsome Amazons,
who are quite able to hold the wharf against all comers. This act of war
in fancy, dress, with its two steps forward and one back, and the singing
of a song, is one of the most fatal to the masculine peace of mind in the
whole history of carnage.
Mrs. Bartlett Glow, to be sure, thought it would be out of place at the
Casino; but even she had to admit that the American girl who would
bewitch the foreigner with her one, two, and one, and her flourish of
broom on Lake George, was capable of freezing his ardor by her cool good-
breeding at Newport.
There was not much more to be done at Saratoga. Mrs. Benson had tried
every spring in the valley, and thus anticipated a remedy, as Mr. Benson
said, for any possible "complaint" that might visit her in the future.
Mr. Benson himself said that he thought it was time for him to move to a
new piazza, as he had worn out half the chairs at the Grand Union.
The Bartlett-Glows were already due at Richfield; in fact, Penelope was
impatient to go, now that she had persuaded the Bensons to accompany her;
and the artist, who had been for some time grumbling that there was
nothing left in Saratoga to draw except corks, reminded King of his
agreement at Bar Harbor, and the necessity he felt for rural retirement
after having been dragged all over the continent.
On the last day Mr. Glow took King and Forbes off to the races, and
Penelope and the Bensons drove to the lake. King never could tell why he
consented to this arrangement, but he knew in a vague way that it is
useless to attempt to resist feminine power, that shapes our destiny in
spite of all our rough-hewing of its outlines. He had become very uneasy
at the friendship between Irene and Penelope, but he could give no reason
for his suspicion, for it was the most natural thing in the world for his
cousin to be interested in the girl who was about to come into the
family. It seemed also natural that Penelope should be attracted by her
nobility of nature. He did not know till afterwards that it was this
very nobility and unselfishness which Penelope saw could be turned to
account for her own purposes. Mrs. Bartlett Glow herself would have said
that she was very much attached to Irene, and this would have been true;
she would have said also that she pitied her, and this would have been
true; but she was a woman whose world was bounded by her own social
order, and she had no doubt in her own mind that she was loyal to the
best prospects of her cousin, and, what was of more importance, that she
was protecting her little world from a misalliance when she preferred
Imogene Cypher to Irene Benson. In fact, the Bensons in her set were
simply an unthinkable element. It disturbed the established order of
things. If any one thinks meanly of Penelope for counting upon the
heroism of Irene to effect her unhappiness, let him reflect of how little
consequence is the temporary happiness of one or two individuals compared
with the peace and comfort of a whole social order. And she might also
well make herself believe that she was consulting the best interests of
Irene in keeping her out of a position where she might be subject to so
many humiliations. She was capable of crying over the social adventures
of the heroine of a love story, and taking sides with her against the
world, but as to the actual world itself, her practical philosophy taught
her that it was much better always, even at the cost of a little
heartache in youth, to go with the stream than against it.
The lake at Saratoga is the most picturesque feature of the region, and
would alone make the fortune of any other watering-place. It is always
a surprise to the stranger, who has bowled along the broad drive of five
miles through a pleasing but not striking landscape, to come suddenly,
when he alights at the hotel, upon what seems to be a "fault," a sunken
valley, and to look down a precipitous, grassy, tree-planted slope upon
a lake sparkling at the bottom and reflecting the enclosing steep shores.
It is like an aqua-marine gem countersunk in the green landscape. Many
an hour had Irene and Stanhope passed in dreamy contemplation of it.
They had sailed down the lake in the little steamer, they had whimsically
speculated about this and that couple who took their ices or juleps under
the trees or on the piazza of the hotel, and the spot had for them a
thousand tender associations. It was here that Stanhope had told her
very fully the uneventful story of his life, and it was here that she had
grown into full sympathy with his aspirations for the future.
It was of all this that Irene thought as she sat talking that day with
Penelope on a bench at the foot of the hill by the steamboat landing.
It was this very future that the woman of the world was using to raise in
the mind of Irene a morbid sense of her duty. Skillfully with this was
insinuated the notion of the false and contemptible social pride and
exclusiveness of Stanhope's relations, which Mrs. Bartlett Glow
represented as implacable while she condemned it as absurd. There was
not a word of opposition to the union of Irene and Stanhope: Penelope was
not such a bungler as to make that mistake. It was not her cue to
definitely suggest a sacrifice for the welfare of her cousin. If she let
Irene perceive that she admired the courage in her that could face all
these adverse social conditions that were conjured up before her, Irene
could never say that Penelope had expressed anything of the sort. Her
manner was affectionate, almost caressing; she declared that she felt a
sisterly interest in her. This was genuine enough. I am not sure that
Mrs. Bartlett Glow did not sometimes waver in her purpose when she was in
the immediate influence of the girl's genuine charm, and felt how sincere
she was. She even went so far as to wish to herself that Irene had been
born in her own world.
It was not at all unnatural that Irene should have been charmed by
Penelope, and that the latter should gradually have established an
influence over her. She was certainly kind-hearted, amiable, bright,
engaging. I think all those who have known her at Newport, or in her New
York home, regard her as one of the most charming women in the world.
Nor is she artificial, except as society requires her to be, and if she
regards the conventions of her own set as the most important things in
life, therein she does not differ from hosts of excellent wives and
mothers. Irene, being utterly candid herself, never suspected that
Penelope had at all exaggerated the family and social obstacles, nor did
it occur to her to doubt Penelope's affection for her. But she was not
blind. Being a woman, she comprehended perfectly the indirection of a
woman's approaches, and knew well enough by this time that Penelope,
whatever her personal leanings, must feel with her family in regard to
this engagement. And that she, who was apparently her friend, and who
had Stanhope's welfare so much at heart, did so feel was an added reason
why Irene was drifting towards a purpose of self-sacrifice. When she was
with Stanhope such a sacrifice seemed as impossible as it would be cruel,
but when she was with Mrs. Bartlett Glow, or alone, the subject took
another aspect. There is nothing more attractive to a noble woman of
tender heart than a duty the performance of which will make her suffer.
A false notion of duty has to account for much of the misery in life.
It was under this impression that Irene passed the last evening at
Saratoga with Stanhope on the piazza of the hotel--an evening that the
latter long remembered as giving him the sweetest and the most
contradictory and perplexing glimpses of a woman's heart.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS, COOPERSTOWN
After weeks of the din of Strauss and Gungl, the soothing strains of the
Pastoral Symphony. Now no more the kettle-drum and the ceaseless
promenade in showy corridors, but the oaten pipe under the spreading
maples, the sheep feeding on the gentle hills of Otsego, the carnival of
the hop-pickers. It is time to be rural, to adore the country, to speak
about the dew on the upland pasture, and the exquisite view from Sunset
Hill. It is quite English, is it not? this passion for quiet, refined
country life, which attacks all the summer revelers at certain periods in
the season, and sends them in troops to Richfield or Lenox or some other
peaceful retreat, with their simple apparel bestowed in modest fourstory
trunks. Come, gentle shepherdesses, come, sweet youths in white flannel,
let us tread a measure on the greensward, let us wander down the lane,
let us pass under the festoons of the hop-vines, let us saunter in the
paths of sentiment, that lead to love in a cottage and a house in town.
Every watering-place has a character of its own, and those who have given
little thought to this are surprised at the endless variety in the
American resorts. But what is even more surprising is the influence that
these places have upon the people that frequent them, who appear to
change their characters with their surroundings. One woman in her season
plays many parts, dashing in one place, reserved in another, now gay and
active, now listless and sentimental, not at all the same woman at
Newport that she is in the Adirondack camps, one thing at Bar Harbor and
quite another at Saratoga or at Richfield. Different tastes, to be sure,
are suited at different resorts, but fashion sends a steady procession of
the same people on the round of all.
The charm of Richfield Springs is in the character of the landscape.
It is a limestone region of gentle slopes and fine lines; and although
it is elevated, the general character is refined rather than bold, the
fertile valleys in pleasing irregularity falling away from rounded wooded
hills in a manner to produce the impression of peace and repose. The lay
of the land is such that an elevation of a few hundred feet gives a most
extensive prospect, a view of meadows and upland pastures, of lakes and
ponds, of forests hanging in dark masses on the limestone summits, of
fields of wheat and hops, and of distant mountain ranges. It is scenery
that one grows to love, and that responds to one's every mood in variety
and beauty. In a whole summer the pedestrian will not exhaust the
inspiring views, and the drives through the gracious land, over hills,
round the lakes, by woods and farms, increase in interest as one knows
them better. The habitues of the place, year after year, are at a loss
for words to convey their peaceful satisfaction.
In this smiling country lies the pretty village of Richfield, the rural
character of which is not entirely lost by reason of the hotels,
cottages, and boardinghouses which line the broad principal street. The
centre of the town is the old Spring House and grounds. When our
travelers alighted in the evening at this mansion, they were reminded of
an English inn, though it is not at all like an inn in England except in
its atmosphere of comfort. The building has rather a colonial character,
with its long corridors and pillared piazzas; built at different times,
and without any particular plans except to remain old-fashioned, it is
now a big, rambling white mass of buildings in the midst of maple-trees,
with so many stairs and passages on different levels, and so many nooks
and corners, that the stranger is always getting lost in it--turning up
in the luxurious smoking-room when he wants to dine, and opening a door
that lets him out into the park when he is trying to go to bed. But
there are few hotels in the country where the guests are so well taken
This was the unbought testimony of Miss Lamont, who, with her uncle, had
been there long enough to acquire the common anxiety of sojourners that
the newcomers should be pleased, and who superfluously explained the
attractions of the place to the artist, as if in his eyes, that rested on
her, more than one attraction was needed. It was very pleasant to see
the good comradeship that existed between these two, and the frank
expression of their delight in meeting again. Here was a friendship
without any reserve, or any rueful misunderstandings, or necessity for
explanations. Irene's eyes followed them with a wistful look as they
went off together round the piazza and through the parlors, the girl
playing the part of the hostess, and inducting him into the mild gayeties
of the place.
The height of the season was over, she said; there had been tableaux and
charades, and broom-drills, and readings and charity concerts. Now the
season was on the sentimental wane; every night the rooms were full of
whist-players, and the days were occupied in quiet strolling over the
hills, and excursions to Cooperstown and Cherry Valley and "points of
view," and visits to the fields to see the hop-pickers at work. If there
were a little larking about the piazzas in the evening, and a group here
and there pretending to be merry over tall glasses with ice and straws in
them, and lingering good-nights at the stairways, why should the aged and
rheumatic make a note of it? Did they not also once prefer the dance to
hobbling to the spring, and the taste of ginger to sulphur?
Of course the raison d'etre of being here is the sulphur spring. There
is no doubt of its efficacy. I suppose it is as unpleasant as any in the
country. Everybody smells it, and a great many drink it. The artist
said that after using it a week the blind walk, the lame see, and the
dumb swear. It renews youth, and although the analyzer does not say that
it is a "love philter," the statistics kept by the colored autocrat who
ladles out the fluid show that there are made as many engagements at
Richfield as at any other summer fair in the country.
There is not much to chronicle in the peaceful flow of domestic life,
and, truth to say, the charm of Richfield is largely in its restfulness.
Those who go there year after year converse a great deal about their
liking for it, and think the time well spent in persuading new arrivals
to take certain walks and drives. It was impressed upon King that he
must upon no account omit a visit to Rum Hill, from the summit of which
is had a noble prospect, including the Adirondack Mountains. He tried
this with a walking party, was driven back when near the summit by a
thunder, storm, which offered a series of grand pictures in the sky and
on the hills, and took refuge in a farmhouse which was occupied by a band
of hop-pickers. These adventurers are mostly young girls and young men
from the cities and factory villages, to whom this is the only holiday of
the year. Many of the pickers, however, are veterans. At this season
one meets them on all the roads, driving from farm to farm in lumber
wagons, carrying into the dull rural life their slang, and "Captain
Jinks" songs, and shocking free manners. At the great hop fields they
lodge all together in big barracks, and they make lively for the time
whatever farmhouse they occupy. They are a "rough lot," and need very
much the attention of the poet and the novelist, who might (if they shut
their eyes) make this season as romantic as vintage-time on the Rhine,
or "moonshining" on the Southern mountains. The hop field itself, with
its tall poles draped in graceful vines which reach from pole to pole,
and hang their yellowing fruit in pretty festoons and arbors, is much
more picturesque than the vine-clad hills.
Mrs. Bartlett Glow found many acquaintances here from New York and
Philadelphia and Newport, and, to do her justice, she introduced Irene
to them and presently involved her in so many pleasure parties and
excursions that she and King were scarcely ever alone together. When
opportunity offered for a stroll a deux, the girl's manner was so
constrained that King was compelled to ask the reason of it. He got very
little satisfaction, and the puzzle of her conduct was increased by her
confession that she loved him just the same, and always should.
"But something has come between us," he said. "I think I have the right
to be treated with perfect frankness."
"So you have," she replied. "There is nothing--nothing at least that
changes my feeling towards you."
"But you think that mine is changed for you?"
"No, not that, either, never that;" and her voice showed excitement as
she turned away her head. "But don't you know, Stanhope, you have not
known me very long, and perhaps you have been a little hasty, and--how
shall I say it?--if you had more time to reflect, when you go back to
your associates and your active life, it might somehow look differently
to you, and your prospects--"
"Why, Irene, I have no prospects without you. I love you; you are my
life. I don't understand. I am just yours, and nothing you can do will
ever make it any different for me; but if you want to be free--"
"No, no," cried the girl, trying in vain to restrain her agitation and
her tears, "not that. I don't want to be free. But you will not
understand. Circumstances are so cruel, and if, Stanhope, you ever
should regret when it is too late! It would kill me. I want you to be
happy. And, Stanhope, promise me that, whatever happens, you will not
think ill of me."
Of course he promised, he declared that nothing could happen, he vowed,
and he protested against this ridiculous phantom in her mind. To a man,
used to straightforward cuts in love as in any other object of his
desire, this feminine exaggeration of conscientiousness is wholly
incomprehensible. How under heavens a woman could get a kink of duty in
her mind which involved the sacrifice of herself and her lover was past
The morning after this conversation, the most of which the reader has
been spared, there was an excursion to Cooperstown. The early start of
the tally-ho coaches for this trip is one of the chief sensations of the
quiet village. The bustle to collect the laggards, the importance of the
conductors and drivers, the scramble up the ladders, the ruses to get
congenial seat-neighbors, the fine spirits of everybody evoked by the
fresh morning air, and the elevation on top of the coaches, give the
start an air of jolly adventure. Away they go, the big red-and-yellow
arks, swinging over the hills and along the well-watered valleys, past
the twin lakes to Otsego, over which hangs the romance of Cooper's tales,
where a steamer waits. This is one of the most charming of the little
lakes that dot the interior of New York; without bold shores or anything
sensational in its scenery, it is a poetic element in a refined and
lovely landscape. There are a few fishing-lodges and summer cottages on
its banks (one of them distinguished as "Sinners' Rest"), and a hotel or
two famous for dinners; but the traveler would be repaid if there were
nothing except the lovely village of Cooperstown embowered in maples at
the foot. The town rises gently from the lake, and is very picturesque
with its church spires and trees and handsome mansions; and nothing could
be prettier than the foreground, the gardens, the allees of willows, the
long boat wharves with hundreds of rowboats and sail-boats, and the exit
of the Susquehanna River, which here swirls away under drooping foliage,
and begins its long journey to the sea. The whole village has an air of
leisure and refinement. For our tourists the place was pervaded by the
spirit of the necromancer who has woven about it a spell of romance; but
to the ordinary inhabitants the long residence of the novelist here was
not half so important as that of the very distinguished citizen who had
made a great fortune out of some patent, built here a fine house, and
adorned his native town. It is not so very many years since Cooper died,
and yet the boatmen and loungers about the lake had only the faintest
impression of the man-there was a writer by that name, one of them said,
and some of his family lived near the house of the great man already
referred to. The magician who created Cooperstown sleeps in the old
English-looking church-yard of the Episcopal church, in the midst of the
graves of his relations, and there is a well-worn path to his head-stone.
Whatever the common people of the town may think, it is that grave that
draws most pilgrims to the village. Where the hillside cemetery now is,
on the bank of the lake, was his farm, which he visited always once and
sometimes twice a day. He commonly wrote only from ten to twelve in the
morning, giving the rest of the time to his farm and the society of his
family. During the period of his libel suits, when the newspapers
represented him as morose and sullen in his retirement, he was, on the
contrary, in the highest spirits and the most genial mood. "Deer-slayer"
was written while this contest was at its height. Driving one day from
his farm with his daughter, he stopped and looked long over his favorite
prospect on the lake, and said, "I must write one more story, dear, about
our little lake." At that moment the "Deerslayer" was born. He was
silent the rest of the way home, and went immediately to his library and
began the story.
The party returned in a moralizing vein. How vague already in the
village which his genius has made known over the civilized world is the
fame of Cooper! To our tourists the place was saturated with his
presence, but the new generation cares more for its smart prosperity than
for all his romance. Many of the passengers on the boat had stopped at a
lakeside tavern to dine, preferring a good dinner to the associations
which drew our sentimentalists to the spots that were hallowed by the
necromancer's imagination. And why not? One cannot live in the past
forever. The people on the boat who dwelt in Cooperstown were not
talking about Cooper, perhaps had not thought of him for a year. The
ladies, seated in the bow of the boat, were comparing notes about their
rheumatism and the measles of their children; one of them had been to the
funeral of a young girl who was to have been married in the autumn, poor
thing, and she told her companion who were at the funeral, and how they
were dressed, and how little feeling Nancy seemed to show, and how
shiftless it was not to have more flowers, and how the bridegroom bore
up-well, perhaps it's an escape, she was so weakly.
The day lent a certain pensiveness to all this; the season was visibly
waning; the soft maples showed color, the orchards were heavy with fruit,
the mountain-ash hung out its red signals, the hop-vines were yellowing,
and in all the fence corners the golden-rod flamed and made the meanest
high-road a way of glory. On Irene fell a spell of sadness that affected
her lover. Even Mrs. Bartlett-Glow seemed touched by some regret for the
fleeting of the gay season, and the top of the coach would have been
melancholy enough but for the high spirits of Marion and the artist,
whose gayety expanded in the abundance of the harvest season. Happy
natures, unrestrained by the subtle melancholy of a decaying year!
The summer was really going. On Sunday the weather broke in a violent
storm of wind and rain, and at sunset, when it abated, there were
portentous gleams on the hills, and threatening clouds lurking about the
sky. It was time to go. Few people have the courage to abide the
breaking of the serenity of summer, and remain in the country for the
more glorious autumn days that are to follow. The Glows must hurry back
to Newport. The Bensons would not be persuaded out of their fixed plan
to "take in," as Mr. Benson expressed it, the White Mountains. The
others were going to Niagara and the Thousand Islands; and when King told
Irene that he would much rather change his route and accompany her, he
saw by the girl's manner that it was best not to press the subject. He
dreaded to push an explanation, and, foolish as lovers are, he was wise
for once in trusting to time. But he had a miserable evening. He let
himself be irritated by the lightheartedness of Forbes. He objected to
the latter's whistling as he went about his room packing up his traps.
He hated a fellow that was always in high spirits. "Why, what has come
over you, old man?" queried the artist, stopping to take a critical look
at his comrade. "Do you want to get out of it? It's my impression that
you haven't taken sulphur water enough."
On Monday morning there was a general clearing out. The platform at the
station was crowded. The palace-cars for New York, for Niagara, for
Albany, for the West, were overflowing. There was a pile of trunks as
big as a city dwelling-house. Baby-carriages cumbered the way; dogs were
under foot, yelping and rending the tender hearts of their owners; the
porters staggered about under their loads, and shouted till they were
hoarse; farewells were said; rendezvous made--alas! how many half-
fledged hopes came to an end on that platform! The artist thought he had
never seen so many pretty girls together in his life before, and each one
had in her belt a bunch of goldenrod. Summer was over, sure enough.
At Utica the train was broken up, and its cars despatched in various
directions. King remembered that it was at Utica that the younger Cato
sacrificed himself. In the presence of all the world Irene bade him
good-by. "It will not be for long," said King, with an attempt at
gayety. "Nothing is for long," she said with the same manner. And then
added in a low tone, as she slipped a note into his hand," Do not think
ill of me."
King opened the note as soon as he found his seat in the car, and this
was what he read as the train rushed westward towards the Great Fall:
"MY DEAR FRIEND,--How can I ever say it? It is best that we
separate. I have thought and thought; I have struggled with myself.
I think that I know it is best for you. I have been happy--ah me!
Dear, we must look at the world as it is. We cannot change it--if
we break our hearts, we cannot. Don't blame your cousin. It is
nothing that she has done. She has been as sweet and kind to me as
possible, but I have seen through her what I feared, just how it is.
Don't reproach me. It is hard now. I know it. But I believe that
you will come to see it as I do. If it was any sacrifice that I
could make, that would be easy. But to think that I had sacrificed
you, and that you should some day become aware of it! You are free.
I am not silly. It is the future I am thinking of. You must take
your place in the world where your lot is cast. Don't think I have
a foolish pride. Perhaps it is pride that tells me not to put
myself in a false position; perhaps it is something else. Never
think it is want of heart in.
As King finished this he looked out of the window.
The landscape was black.
In the car for Niagara was an Englishman of the receptive, guileless,
thin type, inquisitive and overflowing with approval of everything
American--a type which has now become one of the common features of
travel in this country. He had light hair, sandy side-whiskers, a face
that looked as if it had been scrubbed with soap and sandpaper, and he
wore a sickly yellow traveling-suit. He was accompanied by his wife,
a stout, resolute matron, in heavy boots, a sensible stuff gown, with a
lot of cotton lace fudged about her neck, and a broad brimmed hat with a
vegetable garden on top. The little man was always in pursuit of
information, in his guide-book or from his fellow-passengers, and
whenever he obtained any he invariably repeated it to his wife, who said
"Fancy!" and "Now, really!" in a rising inflection that expressed
surprise and expectation.
The conceited American, who commonly draws himself into a shell when he
travels, and affects indifference, and seems to be losing all natural
curiosity, receptivity, and the power of observation, is pretty certain
to undervalue the intelligence of this class of English travelers, and
get amusement out of their peculiarities instead of learning from them
how to make everyday of life interesting. Even King, who, besides his
national crust of exclusiveness, was today wrapped in the gloom of
Irene's letter, was gradually drawn to these simple, unpretending people.
He took for granted their ignorance of America--ignorance of America
being one of the branches taught in the English schools--and he soon
discovered that they were citizens of the world. They not only knew the
Continent very well, but they had spent a winter in Egypt, lived a year
in India, and seen something of China and much of Japan. Although they
had been scarcely a fortnight in the United States, King doubted if there
were ten women in the State of New York, not professional teachers, who
knew as much of the flora of the country as this plain-featured, rich-
voiced woman. They called King's attention to a great many features of
the landscape he had never noticed before, and asked him a great many
questions about farming and stock and wages that he could not answer.
It appeared that Mr. Stanley Stubbs, Stoke-Cruden--for that was the name
and address of the present discoverers of America--had a herd of short-
horns, and that Mrs. Stubbs was even more familiar with the herd-book
than her husband. But before the fact had enabled King to settle the
position of his new acquaintance satisfactorily to himself, Mrs. Stubbs
upset his estimate by quoting Tennyson.
"Your great English poet is very much read here," King said, by way of
"So we have heard," replied Mrs. Stubbs. "Mr. Stubbs reads Tennyson
beautifully. He has thought of giving some readings while we are here.
We have been told that the Americans are very fond of readings."
"Yes," said King, "they are devoted to them, especially readings by
Englishmen in their native tongue. There is a great rage now for
everything English; at Newport hardly anything else is spoken."
Mrs. Stubbs looked for a moment as if this might be an American joke; but
there was no smile upon King's face, and she only said, "Fancy! You must
make a note of Newport, dear. That is one of the places we must see.
Of course Mr. Stubbs has never read in public, you know. But I suppose
that would make no difference, the Americans are so kind and so
"Not the least difference," replied King. "They are used to it."
"It is a wonderful country," said Mr. Stubbs.
"Most interesting," chimed in Mrs. Stubbs; "and so odd!
"You know, Mr. King, we find some of the Americans so clever. We have
been surprised, really. It makes us feel quite at home. At the hotels
and everywhere, most obliging."
"Do you make a long stay?"
"Oh, no. We just want to study the people and the government, and see
the principal places. We were told that Albany is the capital, instead
of New York; it's so odd, you know. And Washington is another capital.
And there is Boston. It must be very confusing." King began to suspect
that he must be talking with the editor of the Saturday Review. Mr.
Stubbs continued: "They told us in New York that we ought to go to
Paterson on the Island of Jersey, I believe. I suppose it is as
interesting as Niagara. We shall visit it on our return. But we came
over more to see Niagara than anything else. And from there we shall run
over to Chicago and the Yosemite. Now we are here, we could not think of
going back without a look at the Yosemite."
King said that thus far he had existed without seeing the Yosemite, but
he believed that next to Chicago it was the most attractive place in the
It was dark when they came into the station at Niagara--dark and silent.
Our American tourists, who were accustomed to the clamor of the hackmen
here, and expected to be assaulted by a horde of wild Comanches in plain
clothes, and torn limb from baggage, if not limb from limb, were unable
to account for this silence, and the absence of the common highwaymen,
until they remembered that the State had bought the Falls, and the agents
of the government had suppressed many of the old nuisances. It was
possible now to hear the roar of the cataract.
This unaccustomed human stillness was ominous to King. He would have
welcomed a Niagara of importunity and imprecations; he was bursting with
impatience to express himself; it seemed as if he would die if he were
silent an hour longer under that letter. Of course the usual American
relief of irritability and impatience suggested itself. He would
telegraph; only electricity was quick enough and fiery enough for his
mood. But what should he telegraph? The telegraph was not invented for
love-making, and is not adapted to it. It is ridiculous to make love by
wire. How was it possible to frame a message that should be commercial
on its face, and yet convey the deepest agony and devotion of the
sender's heart? King stood at the little telegraph window, looking at
the despatcher who was to send it, and thought of this. Depressed and
intent as he was, the whimsicality of the situation struck him. What
could he say? It illustrates our sheeplike habit of expressing ourselves
in the familiar phrase or popular slang of the day that at the instant
the only thing King could think of to send was this: "Hold the fort, for
I am coming." The incongruity of this made him smile, and he did not
write it. Finally he composed this message, which seemed to him to have
a businesslike and innocent aspect: "Too late. Impossible for me to
change. Have invested everything. Expect letter." Mechanically he
counted the words when he had written this. On the fair presumption that
the company would send "everything" as one word, there were still two
more than the conventional ten, and, from force of habit, he struck out
the words "for me." But he had no sooner done this than he felt a sense
of shame. It was contemptible for a man in love to count his words, and
it was intolerable to be haggling with himself at such a crisis over the
expense of a despatch. He got cold over the thought that Irene might
also count them, and see that the cost of this message of passion had
been calculated. And with recklessness he added: "We reach the Profile
House next week, and I am sure I can convince you I am right."
King found Niagara pitched to the key of his lacerated and tumultuous
feelings. There were few people at the Cataract House, and either the
bridal season had not set in, or in America a bride has been evolved who
does not show any consciousness of her new position. In his present mood
the place seemed deserted, the figures of the few visitors gliding about
as in a dream, as if they too had been subdued by the recent commission
which had silenced the drivers, and stopped the mills, and made the park
free, and was tearing down the presumptuous structures along the bank.
In this silence, which emphasized the quaking of the earth and air, there
was a sense of unknown, impending disaster. It was not to be borne
indoors, and the two friends went out into the night.
On the edge of the rapids, above the hotel, the old bath-house was in
process of demolition, its shaking piazza almost overhanging the flood.
Not much could be seen from it, but it was in the midst of an elemental
uproar. Some electric lamps shining through the trees made high lights
on the crests of the rapids, while the others near were in shadow and
dark. The black mass of Goat Island appeared under the lightning flashes
in the northwest sky, and whenever these quick gleams pierced the gloom
the frail bridge to the island was outlined for a moment, and then
vanished as if it had been swept away, and there could only be seen
sparks of light in the houses on the Canadian shore, which seemed very
near. In this unknown, which was rather felt than seen, there was a
sense of power and of mystery which overcame the mind; and in the black
night the roar, the cruel haste of the rapids, tossing white gleams and
hurrying to the fatal plunge, begat a sort of terror in the spectators.
It was a power implacable, vengeful, not to be measured. They strolled
down to Prospect Park. The gate was closed; it had been the scene of an
awful tragedy but a few minutes before. They did not know it, but they
knew that the air shuddered, and as they skirted the grounds along the
way to the foot-bridge the roar grew in their stunned ears. There,
projected out into the night, were the cables of steel holding the frail
platform over the abyss of night and terror. Beyond was Canada. There
was light enough in the sky to reveal, but not to dissipate, the
appalling insecurity. What an impious thing it seemed to them, this
trembling structure across the chasm! They advanced upon it. There were
gleams on the mill cascades below, and on the mass of the American Fall.
Below, down in the gloom, were patches of foam, slowly circling around in
the eddy--no haste now, just sullen and black satisfaction in the awful
tragedy of the fall. The whole was vague, fearful. Always the roar, the
shuddering of the air. I think that a man placed on this bridge at
night, and ignorant of the cause of the aerial agitation and the wild
uproar, could almost lose his reason in the panic of the scene.
They walked on; they set foot on Her Majesty's dominions; they entered
the Clifton House--quite American, you know, with its new bar and office.
A subdued air about everybody here also, and the same quaking, shivering,
and impending sense of irresponsible force. Even "two fingers," said the
artist, standing at the bar, had little effect in allaying the impression
of the terror out there. When they returned the moon was coming up,
rising and struggling and making its way slowly through ragged masses of
colored clouds. The river could be plainly seen now, smooth, deep,
treacherous; the falls on the American side showed fitfully like patches
of light and foam; the Horseshoe, mostly hidden by a cold silver mist,
occasionally loomed up a white and ghostly mass. They stood for a long
time looking down at the foot of the American Fall, the moon now showing
clearly the plunge of the heavy column--a column as stiff as if it were
melted silver-hushed and frightened by the weird and appalling scene.
They did not know at that moment that there where their eyes were
riveted, there at the base of the fall, a man's body was churning about,
plunged down and cast up, and beaten and whirled, imprisoned in the
refluent eddy. But a body was there. In the morning a man's overcoat
was found on the parapet at the angle of the fall. Someone then
remembered that in the evening, just before the park gate closed, he had
seen a man approach the angle of the wall where the overcoat was found.
The man was never seen after that. Night first, and then the hungry
water, swallowed him. One pictures the fearful leap into the dark, the
midway repentance, perhaps, the despair of the plunge. A body cast in
here is likely to tarry for days, eddying round and round, and tossed in
that terrible maelstrom, before a chance current ejects it, and sends it
down the fierce rapids below. King went back to the hotel in a terror of
the place, which did not leave him so long as he remained. His room
quivered, the roar filled all the air. Is not life real and terrible
enough, he asked himself, but that brides must cast this experience also
into their honeymoon?
The morning light did not efface the impressions of the night, the
dominating presence of a gigantic, pitiless force, a blind passion of
nature, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Shut the windows and lock the
door, you could not shut out the terror of it. The town did not seem
safe; the bridges, the buildings on the edge of the precipices with their
shaking casements, the islands, might at any moment be engulfed and
disappear. It was a thing to flee from.
I suspect King was in a very sensitive mood; the world seemed for the
moment devoid of human sympathy, and the savageness and turmoil played
upon his bare nerves. The artist himself shrank from contact with this
overpowering display, and said that he could not endure more than a day
or two of it. It needed all the sunshine in the face of Miss Lamont and
the serenity of her cheerful nature to make the situation tolerable, and
even her sprightliness was somewhat subdued. It was a day of big,
broken, high-sailing clouds, with a deep blue sky and strong sunlight.
The slight bridge to Goat Island appeared more presumptuous by daylight,
and the sharp slope of the rapids above it gave a new sense of the
impetuosity of the torrent. As they walked slowly on, past the now
abandoned paper-mills and the other human impertinences, the elemental
turmoil increased, and they seemed entering a world the foundations of
which were broken up. This must have been a good deal a matter of
impression, for other parties of sightseers were coming and going,
apparently unawed, and intent simply on visiting every point spoken of in
the guide-book, and probably unconscious of the all-pervading terror.
But King could not escape it, even in the throng descending and ascending
the stairway to Luna Island. Standing upon the platform at the top, he
realized for the first time the immense might of the downpour of the
American Fall, and noted the pale green color, with here and there a
violet tone, and the white cloud mass spurting out from the solid color.
On the foam-crested river lay a rainbow forming nearly a complete circle.
The little steamer Maid of the Mist was coming up, riding the waves,
dashed here and there by conflicting currents, but resolutely steaming
on--such is the audacity of man--and poking her venturesome nose into the
boiling foam under the Horseshoe. On the deck are pigmy passengers in
oil-skin suits, clumsy figures, like arctic explorers. The boat tosses
about like a chip, it hesitates and quivers, and then, slowly swinging,
darts away down the current, fleeing from the wrath of the waters, and
pursued by the angry roar.
Surely it is an island of magic, unsubstantial, liable to go adrift and
plunge into the canon. Even in the forest path, where the great tree
trunks assure one of stability and long immunity, this feeling cannot be
shaken off. Our party descended the winding staircase in the tower, and
walked on the shelf under the mighty ledge to the entrance of the Cave of
the Winds. The curtain of water covering this entrance was blown back
and forth by the wind, now leaving the platform dry and now deluging it.
A woman in the pathway was beckoning frantically and calling to a man who
stood on the platform, entirely unconscious of danger, looking up to the
green curtain and down into the boiling mist. It was Mrs. Stubbs; but
she was shouting against Niagara, and her husband mistook her pantomime
for gestures of wonder and admiration. Some moments passed, and then the
curtain swung in, and tons of water drenched the Englishman, and for an
instant hid him from sight. Then, as the curtain swung back, he was seen
clinging to the handrail, sputtering and astonished at such treatment.
He came up the bank dripping, and declaring that it was extraordinary,
most extraordinary, but he wouldn't have missed it for the world. From
this platform one looks down the narrow, slippery stairs that are lost in
the boiling mist, and wonders at the daring that built these steps down
into that hell, and carried the frail walk of planks over the bowlders
outside the fall. A party in oil-skins, making their way there, looked
like lost men and women in a Dante Inferno. The turbulent waters dashed
all about them; the mist occasionally wrapped them from sight; they clung
to the rails, they tried to speak to each other; their gestures seemed
motions of despair. Could that be Eurydice whom the rough guide was
tenderly dragging out of the hell of waters, up the stony path, that
singular figure in oil-skin trousers, who disclosed a pretty face inside
her hood as she emerged? One might venture into the infernal regions to
rescue such a woman; but why take her there? The group of adventurers
stopped a moment on the platform, with the opening into the misty cavern
for a background, and the artist said that the picture was, beyond all
power of the pencil, strange and fantastic. There is nothing, after all,
that the human race will not dare for a new sensation.
The walk around Goat Island is probably unsurpassed in the world for
wonder and beauty. The Americans have every reason to be satisfied with
their share of the fall; they get nowhere one single grand view like that
from the Canada side, but infinitely the deepest impression of majesty
and power is obtained on Goat Island. There the spectator is in the
midst of the war of nature. From the point over the Horseshoe Fall our
friends, speaking not much, but more and more deeply moved, strolled
along in the lovely forest, in a rural solemnity, in a local calm, almost
a seclusion, except for the ever-present shuddering roar in the air. On
the shore above the Horseshoe they first comprehended the breadth, the
great sweep, of the rapids. The white crests of the waves in the west
were coming out from under a black, lowering sky; all the foreground was
in bright sunlight, dancing, sparkling, leaping, hurrying on, converging
to the angle where the water becomes a deep emerald at the break and
plunge. The rapids above are a series of shelves, bristling with jutting
rocks and lodged trunks of trees, and the wildness of the scene is
intensified by the ragged fringe of evergreens on the opposite shore.
Over the whole island the mist, rising from the caldron, drifts in spray
when the wind is rable; but on this day the forest was bright and
cheerful, and as the strollers went farther away from the Great Fall; the
beauty of the scene began to steal away its terror. The roar was still
dominant, but far off and softened, and did not crush the ear. The
triple islands, the Three Sisters, in their picturesque wildness appeared
like playful freaks of nature in a momentary relaxation of the savage
mood. Here is the finest view of the river; to one standing on the
outermost island the great flood seems tumbling out of the sky. They
continued along the bank of the river. The shallow stream races by
headlong, but close to the edge are numerous eddies, and places where one
might step in and not be swept away. At length they reached the point
where the river divides, and the water stands for an instant almost
still, hesitating whether to take the Canadian or American plunge. Out a
little way from the shore the waves leap and tumble, and the two currents
are like race-horses parted on two ways to the goal. Just at this point
the water swirls and lingers; having lost all its fierceness and haste,
and spreads itself out placidly, dimpling in the sun. It may be a
treacherous pause, this water may be as cruel as that which rages below
and exults in catching a boat or a man and bounding with the victim over
the cataract; but the calm was very grateful to the stunned and buffeted
visitors; upon their jarred nerves it was like the peace of God.
"The preacher might moralize here," said King. "Here is the parting of
the ways for the young man; here is a moment of calm in which he can
decide which course he will take. See, with my hand I can turn the water
to Canada or to America! So momentous is the easy decision of the
"Yes," said the artist, "your figure is perfect. Whichever side the
young man takes, he goes to destruction."
"Or," continued King, appealing to Miss Lamont against this illogical
construction, "this is the maiden at the crucial instant of choosing
between two impetuous suitors."
"You mean she will be sorry, whichever she chooses?"
"You two practical people would spoil any illustration in the world. You
would divest the impressive drop of water on the mountain summit, which
might go to the Atlantic or to the Pacific, of all moral character by
saying that it makes no difference which ocean it falls into."
The relief from the dread of Niagara felt at this point of peace was only
temporary. The dread returned when the party approached again the
turmoil of the American Fall, and fell again under the influence of the
merciless haste of the flood. And there every islet, every rock, every
point, has its legend of terror; here a boat lodged with a man in it, and
after a day and night of vain attempts to rescue him, thousands of people
saw him take the frightful leap, throwing up his arms as he went over;
here a young woman slipped, and was instantly whirled away out of life;
and from that point more than one dazed or frantic visitor had taken the
suicidal leap. Death was so near here and so easy!
One seems in less personal peril on the Canadian side, and has more the
feeling of a spectator and less that of a participant in the wild uproar.
Perhaps there is more sense of force, but the majesty of the scene is
relieved by a hundred shifting effects of light and color. In the
afternoon, under a broken sky, the rapids above the Horseshoe reminded
one of the seashore on a very stormy day. Impeded by the rocks, the
flood hesitated and even ran back, as if reluctant to take the final
plunge! The sienna color of the water on the table contrasted sharply
with the emerald at the break of the fall. A rainbow springing out of
the centre of the caldron arched clear over the American cataract, and
was one moment bright and the next dimly seen through the mist, which
boiled up out of the foam of waters and swayed in the wind. Through this
veil darted adventurous birds, flashing their wings in the prismatic
colors, and circling about as if fascinated by the awful rush and
thunder. With the shifting wind and the passing clouds the scene was in
perpetual change; now the American Fall was creamy white, and the mist
below dark, and again the heavy mass was gray and sullen, and the mist
like silver spray. Perhaps nowhere else in the world is the force of
nature so overpowering to the mind, and as the eye wanders from the chaos
of the fall to the far horizon, where the vast rivers of rapids are
poured out of the sky, one feels that this force is inexhaustible and
If our travelers expected to escape the impression they were under by
driving down to the rapids and whirlpool below, they were mistaken.
Nowhere is the river so terrible as where it rushes, as if maddened by
its narrow bondage, through the canon. Flung down the precipice and
forced into this contracted space, it fumes and tosses and rages with
vindictive fury, driving on in a passion that has almost a human quality
in it. Restrained by the walls of stone from being destructive, it seems
to rave at its own impotence, and when it reaches the whirlpool it is
like a hungry animal, returning and licking the shore for the prey it has
missed. But it has not always wanted a prey. Now and again it has a
wreck or a dead body to toss and fling about. Although it does not need
the human element of disaster to make this canon grewsome, the keepers of
the show places make the most of the late Captain Webb. So vivid were
their narratives that our sympathetic party felt his presence
continually, saw the strong swimmer tossed like a chip, saw him throw up
his hands, saw the agony in his face at the spot where he was last seen.
There are several places where he disappeared, each vouched for by
credible witnesses, so that the horror of the scene is multiplied for the
tourist. The late afternoon had turned gray and cold, and dashes of rain
fell as our party descended to the whirlpool. As they looked over the
heaped-up and foaming waters in this eddy they almost expected to see
Captain Webb or the suicide of the night before circling round in the
maelstrom. They came up out of the gorge silent, and drove back to the
hotel full of nervous apprehension.
King found no telegram from Irene, and the place seemed to him
intolerable. The artist was quite ready to go on in the morning; indeed,
the whole party, although they said it was unreasonable, confessed that
they were almost afraid to stay longer; the roar, the trembling, the
pervading sense of a blind force and rage, inspired a nameless dread.
The artist said, the next morning at the station, that he understood the
feelings of Lot.
THE THOUSAND ISLES
The occupation of being a red man, a merchant of baskets and beadwork,
is taken up by so many traders with a brogue and a twang at our watering-
places that it is difficult for the traveler to keep alive any sentiment
about this race. But at a station beyond Lewiston our tourists were
reminded of it, and of its capacity for adopting our civilization in its
most efflorescent development. The train was invaded by a band of
Indians, or, to speak correctly, by an Indian band. There is nothing in
the world like a brass band in a country town; it probably gives more
pleasure to the performers than any other sort of labor. Yet the delight
it imparts to the listeners is apt to be tempered by a certain sense of
incongruity between the peaceful citizens who compose it and the
bellicose din they produce. There is a note of barbarism in the brassy
jar and clamor of the instruments, enhanced by the bewildering ambition
of each player to force through his piece the most noise and jangle,
which is not always covered and subdued into a harmonious whole by the
whang of the bass drum.
There was nothing of this incongruity between this band of Tuscaroras and
their occupation. Unaccustomed to associate the North American Indian
with music, the traveler at once sees the natural relation of the Indians
with the brass band. These Tuscaroras were stalwart fellows, broad-
faced, big-limbed, serious, and they carried themselves with a clumsy but
impressive dignity. There was no uniformity in their apparel, yet each
one wore some portion of a martial and resplendent dress--an ornamented
kepi, or a scarlet sash, or big golden epaulets, or a military coat
braided with yellow. The leader, who was a giant, and carried the
smallest instrument, outshone all the others in his incongruous splendor.
No sooner had they found seats at one end of the car than they
unlimbered, and began through their various reluctant instruments to
deploy a tune. Although the tune did not get well into line, the effect
was marvelous. The car was instantly filled to bursting. Miss Lamont,
who was reading at the other end of the car, gave a nervous start, and
looked up in alarm. King and Forbes promptly opened windows, but this
gave little relief. The trombone pumped and growled, the trumpet blared,
the big brass instrument with a calyx like the monstrous tropical water-
lily quivered and howled, and the drum, banging into the discord, smashed
every tympanum in the car. The Indians looked pleased. No sooner had
they broken one tune into fragments than they took up another, and the
car roared and rattled and jarred all the way to the lonely station where
the band debarked, and was last seen convoying a straggling Odd-Fellows'
picnic down a country road.
The incident, trivial in itself, gave rise to serious reflections
touching the capacity and use of the red man in modern life. Here is a
peaceful outlet for all his wild instincts. Let the government turn all
the hostiles on the frontier into brass bands, and we shall hear no more
of the Indian question.
The railway along the shore of Lake Ontario is for the most part
monotonous. After leaving the picturesque highlands about Lewiston, the
country is flat, and although the view over the lovely sheet of blue
water is always pleasing, there is something bleak even in summer in this
vast level expanse from which the timber has been cut away. It may have
been mere fancy, but to the tourists the air seemed thin, and the scene,
artistically speaking, was cold and colorless. With every desire to do
justice to the pretty town of Oswego, which lies on a gentle slope by the
lake, it had to them an out-of-doors, unprotected, remote aspect. Seen
from the station, it did not appear what it is, the handsomest city on
Lake Ontario, with the largest starch factory in the world.
It was towards evening when the train reached Cape Vincent, where the
steamer waited to transport passengers down the St. Lawrence. The
weather had turned cool; the broad river, the low shores, the long
islands which here divide its lake-like expanse, wanted atmospheric
warmth, and the tourists could not escape the feeling of lonesomeness, as
if they were on the other side of civilization, rather than in one of the
great streams of summer frolic and gayety. It was therefore a very
agreeable surprise to them when a traveling party alighted from one of
the cars, which had come from Rome, among whom they recognized Mrs.
"I knew my education never could be complete," said that lady as she
shook hands, "and you never would consider me perfectly in the Union
until I had seen the Thousand Islands; and here I am, after many Yankee
"And why didn't you come by Niagara?" asked Miss Lamont.
"My dear, perhaps your uncle could tell you that I saw enough of Niagara
when I was a young lady, during the war. The cruelest thing you Yankees
did was to force us, who couldn't fight, to go over there for sympathy.
The only bearable thing about the fall of Richmond was that it relieved
me from that Fall. But where," she added, turning to King, "are the rest
of your party?"
"If you mean the Bensons," said he, with a rather rueful countenance,
"I believe they have gone to the White Mountains."
"Oh, not lost, but gone before. You believe? If you knew the nights I
have lain awake thinking about you two, or you three! I fear you have
not been wide-awake enough yourself."
"I knew I could depend on you, Mrs. Farquhar, for that."
The steamer was moving off, taking a wide sweep to follow the channel.
The passengers were all engaged in ascertaining the names of the islands
and of the owners of the cottages and club-houses. "It is a kind of
information I have learned to dispense with," said Mrs. Farquhar. And
the tourists, except three or four resolutely inquisitive, soon tired of
it. The islands multiplied; the boat wound in and out among them in
narrow straits. To sail thus amid rocky islets, hirsute with firs,
promised to be an unfailing pleasure. It might have been, if darkness
had not speedily fallen. But it is notable how soon passengers on a
steamer become indifferent and listless in any sort of scenery. Where
the scenery is monotonous and repeats itself mile after mile and hour
after hour, an intolerable weariness falls upon the company. The
enterprising group who have taken all the best seats in the bow, with the
intention of gormandizing the views, exhibit little staying power; either
the monotony or the wind drives them into the cabin. And passengers in
the cabin occupying chairs and sofas, surrounded by their baggage, always
look bored and melancholy.
"I always think," said Mrs. Farquhar, "that I am going to enjoy a ride on
a steamer, but I never do. It is impossible to get out of a draught, and
the progress is so slow that variety enough is not presented to the eye
to keep one from ennui." Nevertheless, Mrs. Farquhar and King remained
on deck, in such shelter as they could find, during the three hours'
sail, braced up by the consciousness that they were doing their duty in
regard to the enterprise that has transformed this lovely stream into a
highway of display and enjoyment. Miss Lamont and the artist went below,
frankly confessing that they could see all that interested them from the
cabin windows. And they had their reward; for in this little cabin,
where supper was served, a drama was going on between the cook and the
two waiting-maids and the cabin boy, a drama of love and coquetry and
jealousy and hope deferred, quite as important to those concerned as any
of the watering-place comedies, and played with entire unconsciousness of
The evening was dark, and the navigation in the tortuous channels
sometimes difficult, and might have been dangerous but for the
lighthouses. The steamer crept along in the shadows of the low islands,
making frequent landings, and never long out of sight of the
illuminations of hotels and cottages. Possibly by reason of these
illuminations this passage has more variety by night than by day. There
was certainly a fascination about this alternating brilliancy and gloom.
On nearly every island there was at least a cottage, and on the larger
islands were great hotels, camp-meeting establishments, and houses and
tents for the entertainment of thousands of people. Late as it was in
the season, most of the temporary villages and solitary lodges were
illuminated; colored lamps were set about the grounds, Chinese lanterns
hung in the evergreens, and on half a dozen lines radiating from the
belfry of the hotel to the ground, while all the windows blazed and
scintillated. Occasionally as the steamer passed these places of
irrepressible gayety rockets were let off, Bengal-lights were burned, and
once a cannon attempted to speak the joy of the sojourners. It was like
a continued Fourth of July, and King's heart burned within him with
national pride. Even Mrs. Farquhar had to admit that it was a fairy
spectacle. During the months of July and August this broad river, with
its fantastic islands, is at night simply a highway of glory. The
worldlings and the camp-meeting gatherings vie with each other in the
display of colored lights and fireworks. And such places as the Thousand
Islands Park, Wellesley and Wesley parks, and so on, twinkling with lamps
and rosy with pyrotechnics, like sections of the sky dropped upon the
earth, create in the mind of the steamer pilgrim an indescribable earthly
and heavenly excitement. He does not look upon these displays as
advertisements of rival resorts, but as generous contributions to the
hilarity of the world.
It is, indeed, a marvelous spectacle, this view for thirty or forty
miles, and the simple traveler begins to realize what American enterprise
is when it lays itself out for pleasure. These miles and miles of
cottages, hotels, parks, and camp-meetings are the creation of only a few
years, and probably can scarcely be paralleled elsewhere in the world for
rapidity of growth. But the strongest impression the traveler has is of
the public spirit of these summer sojourners, speculators, and religious
enthusiasts. No man lives to himself alone, or builds his cottage for
his selfish gratification. He makes fantastic carpentry, and paints and
decorates and illuminates and shows fireworks, for the genuine sake of
display. One marvels that a person should come here for rest and
pleasure in a spirit of such devotion to the public weal, and devote
himself night after night for months to illuminating his house and
lighting up his island, and tearing open the sky with rockets and shaking
the air with powder explosions, in order that the river may be
continually en fete.
At half-past eight the steamer rounded into view of the hotels and
cottages at Alexandria Bay, and the enchanting scene drew all the
passengers to the deck.
The Thousand Islands Hotel, and the Crossman House, where our party found
excellent accommodations, were blazing and sparkling like the spectacular
palaces in an opera scene. Rows of colored lamps were set thickly along
the shore, and disposed everywhere among the rocks on which the Crossman
House stands; lights glistened from all the islands, from a thousand row-
boats, and in all the windows. It was very like Venice, seen from the
lagoon, when the Italians make a gala-night.
If Alexandria Bay was less enchanting as a spectacle by daylight, it was
still exceedingly lovely and picturesque; islands and bays and winding
waterways could not be better combined for beauty, and the structures
that taste or ambition has raised on the islands or rocky points are well
enough in keeping with the general holiday aspect. One of the prettiest
of these cottages is the Bonnicastle of the late Dr. Holland, whose
spirit more or less pervades this region. It is charmingly situated on a
projecting point of gray rocks veined with color, enlivened by touches of
scarlet bushes and brilliant flowers planted in little spots of soil,
contrasting with the evergreen shrubs. It commands a varied and
delicious prospect, and has an air of repose and peace.
I am sorry to say that while Forbes and Miss Lamont floated, so to speak,
in all this beauty, like the light-hearted revelers they were, King was
scarcely in a mood to enjoy it. It seemed to him fictitious and a little
forced. There was no message for him at the Crossman House. His
restlessness and absentmindedness could not escape the observation of
Mrs. Farquhar, and as the poor fellow sadly needed a confidante, she was
soon in possession of his story.
"I hate slang," she said, when he had painted the situation black enough
to suit Mrs. Bartlett Glow even, "and I will not give my sex away, but I
know something of feminine doubtings and subterfuges, and I give you my
judgment that Irene is just fretting herself to death, and praying that
you may have the spirit to ride rough-shod over her scruples. Yes, it is
just as true in this prosaic time as it ever was, that women like to be
carried off by violence. In their secret hearts, whatever they may say,
they like to see a knight batter down the tower and put all the garrison
except themselves to the sword. I know that I ought to be on Mrs. Glow's
side. It is the sensible side, the prudent side; but I do admire
recklessness in love. Probably you'll be uncomfortable, perhaps unhappy
--you are certain to be if you marry to please society and not yourself--
but better a thousand times one wild rush of real passion, of self-
forgetting love, than an age of stupid, conventional affection approved
by your aunt. Oh, these calculating young people!" Mrs. Farquhar's
voice trembled and her eyes flashed. "I tell you, my friend, life is not
worth living in a conventional stagnation. You see in society how nature
revenges itself when its instincts are repressed."
Mrs. Farquhar turned away, and King saw that her eyes were full of tears.
She stood a moment looking away over the sparkling water to the soft
islands on the hazy horizon. Was she thinking of her own marriage?
Death had years ago dissolved it, and were these tears, not those of
mourning, but for the great experience possible in life, so seldom
realized, missed forever? Before King could frame, in the tumult of his
own thoughts, any reply, she turned towards him again, with her usual
smile, half of badinage and half of tenderness, and said:
"Come, this is enough of tragedy for one day; let us go on the Island
Wanderer, with the other excursionists, among the isles of the blest."
The little steamer had already its load, and presently was under way,
puffing and coughing, on its usual afternoon trip among the islands.
The passengers were silent, and appeared to take the matter seriously
--a sort of linen-duster congregation, of the class who figure in the
homely dialect poems of the Northern bards, Mrs. Farquhar said. They
were chiefly interested in knowing the names of the successful people who
had built these fantastic dwellings, and who lived on illuminations.
Their curiosity was easily gratified, for in most cases the owners had
painted their names, and sometimes their places of residence, in staring
white letters on conspicuous rocks. There was also exhibited, for the
benefit of invalids, by means of the same white paint, here and there the
name of a medicine that is a household word in this patent-right
generation. So the little steamer sailed, comforted by these remedies,
through the strait of Safe Nervine, round the bluff of Safe Tonic, into
the open bay of Safe Liver Cure. It was a healing voyage, and one in
which enterprise was so allied with beauty that no utilitarian
philosopher could raise a question as to the market value of the latter.
The voyage continued as far as Gananoque, in Canada, where the passengers
went ashore, and wandered about in a disconsolate way to see nothing.
King said, however, that he was more interested in the place than in any
other he had seen, because there was nothing interesting in it; it was
absolutely without character, or a single peculiarity either of Canada or
of the United States. Indeed, this north shore seemed to all the party
rather bleak even in summertime, and the quality of the sunshine thin.
It was, of course, a delightful sail, abounding in charming views, up
"lost channels," through vistas of gleaming water overdrooped by tender
foliage, and now and then great stretches of sea, and always islands,
"Too many islands too much alike," at length exclaimed Mrs. Farquhar,
"and too many tasteless cottages and temporary camping structures."
The performance is, indeed, better than the prospectus. For there are
not merely the poetical Thousand Islands; by actual count there are
sixteen hundred and ninety-two. The artist and Miss Lamont were trying
to sing a fine song they discovered in the Traveler's Guide, inspired
perhaps by that sentimental ditty, "The Isles of Greece, the Isles of
"O Thousand Isles! O Thousand Isles!"
It seemed to King that a poem might be constructed more in accordance
with the facts and with the scientific spirit of the age. Something like
"O Sixteen Hundred Ninety-two Isles!
O Islands 1692!
Where the fisher spreads his wiles,
And the muskallonge goes through!
Forever the cottager gilds the same
With nightly pyrotechnic flame;
And it's O the Isles!
Aside from the pyrotechnics, the chief occupations of this place are
boating and fishing. Boats abound--row-boats, sail-boats, and steam-
launches for excursion parties. The river consequently presents an
animated appearance in the season, and the prettiest effects are produced
by the white sails dipping about among the green islands. The favorite
boat is a canoe with a small sail stepped forward, which is steered
without centre-board or rudder, merely by a change of position in the
boat of the man who holds the sheet. While the fishermen are here, it
would seem that the long, snaky pickerel is the chief game pursued and
caught. But this is not the case when the fishermen return home, for
then it appears that they have been dealing mainly with muskallonge, and
with bass by the way. No other part of the country originates so many
excellent fish stories as the Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-two Islands, and
King had heard so many of them that he suspected there must be fish in
these waters. That afternoon, when they returned from Gananoque he
accosted an old fisherman who sat in his boat at the wharf awaiting a
"I suppose there is fishing here in the season?"
The man glanced up, but deigned no reply to such impertinence.
"Could you take us where we would be likely to get any muskallonge?"
"Likely?" asked the man. "What do you suppose I am here for?"
"I beg your pardon. I'm a stranger here. I'd like to try my hand at a
muskallonge. About how do they run here as to size?"
"Well," said the fisherman, relenting a little, "that depends upon who
takes you out. If you want a little sport, I can take you to it. They
are running pretty well this season, or were a week ago."
"Is it too late?"
"Well, they are scarcer than they were, unless you know where to go.
I call forty pounds light for a muskallonge; fifty to seventy is about my
figure. If you ain't used to this kind of fishing, and go with me, you'd
better tie yourself in the boat. They are a powerful fish. You see that
little island yonder? A muskallonge dragged me in this boat four times
round that island one day, and just as I thought I was tiring him out he
jumped clean over the island, and I had to cut the line."
King thought he had heard something like this before, and he engaged the
man for the next day. That evening was the last of the grand
illuminations for the season, and our party went out in the Crossman
steam-launch to see it. Although some of the cottages were vacated, and
the display was not so extensive as in August, it was still marvelously
beautiful, and the night voyage around the illuminated islands was
something long to be remembered.
There were endless devices of colored lamps and lanterns, figures of
crosses, crowns, the Seal of Solomon, and the most strange effects
produced on foliage and in the water by red and green and purple fires.
It was a night of enchantment, and the hotel and its grounds on the dark
background of the night were like the stately pleasure-house in "Kubla
But the season was drawing to an end. The hotels, which could not find
room for the throngs on Saturday night, say, were nearly empty on Monday,
so easy are pleasure-seekers frightened away by a touch of cold,
forgetting that in such a resort the most enjoyable part of the year
comes with the mellow autumn days. That night at ten o'clock the band
was scraping away in the deserted parlor, with not another person in
attendance, without a single listener. Miss Lamont happened to peep
through the window-blinds from the piazza and discover this residuum of
gayety. The band itself was half asleep, but by sheer force of habit it
kept on, the fiddlers drawing the perfunctory bows, and the melancholy
clarionet men breathing their expressive sighs. It was a dismal sight.
The next morning the band had vanished.
The morning was lowering, and a steady rain soon set in for the day. No
fishing, no boating; nothing but drop, drop, and the reminiscence of past
pleasure. Mist enveloped the islands and shut out the view. Even the
spirits of Mrs. Farquhar were not proof against this, and she tried to
amuse herself by reconstructing the season out of the specimens of guests
who remained, who were for the most part young ladies who had duty
written on their faces, and were addicted to spectacles.
"It could not have been," she thought, "ultrafashionable or madly gay.
I think the good people come here; those who are willing to illuminate."
"Oh, there is a fast enough life at some of the hotels in the summer,"
said the artist.
"Very likely. Still, if I were recruiting for schoolmarms, I should come
here. I like it thoroughly, and mean to be here earlier next year. The
scenery is enchanting, and I quite enjoy being with 'Proverbial
Late in the gloomy afternoon King went down to the office, and the clerk
handed him a letter. He took it eagerly, but his countenance fell when
he saw that it bore a New York postmark, and had been forwarded from
Richfield. It was not from Irene. He put it in his pocket and went
moodily to his room. He was in no mood to read a homily from his uncle.
Ten minutes after, he burst into Forbes's room with the open letter in
"See here, old fellow, I'm off to the Profile House. Can you get ready?"
"Get ready? Why, you can't go anywhere tonight."
"Yes I can. The proprietor says he will send us across to Redwood to
catch the night train for Ogdensburg."
"But how about the Lachine Rapids? You have been talking about those
rapids for two months. I thought that was what we came here for."
"Do you want to run right into the smallpox at Montreal?"
"Oh, I don't mind. I never take anything of that sort."
"But don't you see that it isn't safe for the Lamonts and Mrs. Farquhar
to go there?"
"I suppose not; I never thought of that. You have dragged me all over
the continent, and I didn't suppose there was any way of escaping the
rapids. But what is the row now? Has Irene telegraphed you that she has
got over her chill?"
"Read that letter."
Forbes took the sheet and read:
"NEW YORK, September 2, 1885.
"MY DEAR STANHOPE,--We came back to town yesterday, and I find a
considerable arrears of business demanding my attention. A suit has been
brought against the Lavalle Iron Company, of which I have been the
attorney for some years, for the possession of an important part of its
territory, and I must send somebody to Georgia before the end of this
month to look up witnesses and get ready for the defense. If you are
through your junketing by that time, it will be an admirable opportunity
for you to learn the practical details of the business . . . .
Perhaps it may quicken your ardor in the matter if I communicate to you
another fact. Penelope wrote me from Richfield, in a sort of panic, that
she feared you had compromised your whole future by a rash engagement
with a young lady from Cyrusville, Ohio--a Miss Benson-and she asked me
to use my influence with you. I replied to her that I thought that, in
the language of the street, you had compromised your future, if that were
true, for about a hundred cents on the dollar. I have had business
relations with Mr. Benson for twenty years. He is the principal owner in
the Lavalle Iron Mine, and he is one of the most sensible, sound, and
upright men of my acquaintance. He comes of a good old New England
stock, and if his daughter has the qualities of her father and I hear
that she has been exceedingly well educated besides she is not a bad
match even for a Knickerbocker.
"Hoping that you will be able to report at the office before the end of
"I am affectionately yours,
"Well, that's all right," said the artist, after a pause. "I suppose the
world might go on if you spend another night in this hotel. But if you
must go, I'll bring on the women and the baggage when navigation opens in
WHITE MOUNTAINS, LENNOX
The White Mountains are as high as ever, as fine in sharp outline against
the sky, as savage, as tawny; no other mountains m the world of their
height so well keep, on acquaintance, the respect of mankind. There is a
quality of refinement in their granite robustness; their desolate, bare
heights and sky-scraping ridges are rosy in the dawn and violet at
sunset, and their profound green gulfs are still mysterious. Powerful as
man is, and pushing, he cannot wholly vulgarize them. He can reduce the
valleys and the show "freaks" of nature to his own moral level, but the
vast bulks and the summits remain for the most part haughty and pure.
Yet undeniably something of the romance of adventure in a visit to the
White Hills is wanting, now that the railways penetrate every valley, and
all the physical obstacles of the journey are removed. One can never
again feel the thrill that he experienced when, after a weary all-day
jolting in the stage-coach, or plodding hour after hour on foot, he
suddenly came in view of a majestic granite peak. Never again by the new
rail can he have the sensation that he enjoyed in the ascent of Mount
Washington by the old bridlepath from Crawford's, when, climbing out of
the woods and advancing upon that marvelous backbone of rock, the whole
world opened upon his awed vision, and the pyramid of the summit stood up
in majesty against the sky. Nothing, indeed, is valuable that is easily
obtained. This modern experiment of putting us through the world--the
world of literature, experience, and travel--at excursion rates is of
I cannot but think that the White Mountains are cheapened a little by the
facilities of travel and the multiplication of excellent places of
entertainment. If scenery were a sentient thing, it might feel indignant
at being vulgarly stared at, overrun and trampled on, by a horde of
tourists who chiefly value luxurious hotels and easy conveyance. It
would be mortified to hear the talk of the excursionists, which is more
about the quality of the tables and the beds, and the rapidity with which
the "whole thing can be done," than about the beauty and the sublimity of
nature. The mountain, however, was made for man, and not man for the
mountain; and if the majority of travelers only get out of these hills
what they are capable of receiving, it may be some satisfaction to the
hills that they still reserve their glories for the eyes that can
appreciate them. Perhaps nature is not sensitive about being run after
for its freaks and eccentricities. If it were, we could account for the
catastrophe, a few years ago, in the Franconia Notch flume. Everybody
went there to see a bowlder which hung suspended over the stream in the
narrow canon. This curiosity attracted annually thousands of people, who
apparently cared more for this toy than for anything else in the region.
And one day, as if tired of this misdirected adoration, nature organized
a dam on the side of Mount Lafayette, filled it with water, and then
suddenly let loose a flood which tore open the canon, carried the bowlder
away, and spread ruin far and wide. It said as plainly as possible, you
must look at me, and not at my trivial accidents. But man is an
ingenious creature, and nature is no match for him. He now goes, in
increasing number, to see where the bowlder once hung, and spends his
time in hunting for it in the acres of wreck and debris. And in order to
satisfy reasonable human curiosity, the proprietors of the flume have
been obliged to select a bowlder and label it as the one that was
formerly the shrine of pilgrimage.
In his college days King had more than once tramped all over this region,
knapsack on back, lodging at chance farmhouses and second-class hotels,
living on viands that would kill any but a robust climber, and enjoying
the life with a keen zest only felt by those who are abroad at all hours,
and enabled to surprise Nature in all her varied moods. It is the chance
encounters that are most satisfactory; Nature is apt to be whimsical to
him who approaches her of set purpose at fixed hours. He remembered also
the jolting stage-coaches, the scramble for places, the exhilaration of
the drive, the excitement of the arrival at the hotels, the sociability
engendered by this juxtaposition and jostle of travel. It was therefore
with a sense of personal injury that, when he reached Bethlehem junction,
he found a railway to the Profile House, and another to Bethlehem. In
the interval of waiting for his train he visited Bethlehem Street, with
its mile of caravansaries, big boarding-houses, shops, and city veneer,
and although he was delighted, as an American, with the "improvements"
and with the air of refinement, he felt that if he wanted retirement and
rural life, he might as well be with the hordes in the depths of the
Adirondack wilderness. But in his impatience to reach his destination he
was not sorry to avail himself of the railway to the Profile House. And
he admired the ingenuity which had carried this road through nine miles
of shabby firs and balsams, in a way absolutely devoid of interest, in
order to heighten the effect of the surprise at the end in the sudden
arrival at the Franconia Notch. From whichever way this vast white hotel
establishment is approached, it is always a surprise. Midway between
Echo Lake and Profile Lake, standing in the very jaws of the Notch,
overhung on the one side by Cannon Mountain and on the other by a bold
spur of Lafayette, it makes a contrast between the elegance and order of
civilization and the untouched ruggedness and sublimity of nature
scarcely anywhere else to be seen.
The hotel was still full, and when King entered the great lobby and
office in the evening a very animated scene met his eye. A big fire of
logs was blazing in the ample chimney-place; groups were seated about at
ease, chatting, reading, smoking; couples promenaded up and down; and
from the distant parlor, through the long passage, came the sound of the
band. It was easy to see at a glance that the place had a distinct
character, freedom from conventionality, and an air of reposeful
enjoyment. A large proportion of the assembly being residents for the
summer, there was so much of the family content that the transient
tourists could little disturb it by the introduction of their element of
worry and haste.
King found here many acquaintances, for fashion follows a certain
routine, and there is a hidden law by which the White Mountains break the
transition from the sea-coast to Lenox. He was therefore not surprised
to be greeted by Mrs. Cortlandt, who had arrived the day before with her
"At the end of the season," she said, "and alone?"
"I expect to meet friends here."
"So did I; but they have gone, or some of them have."
"But mine are coming tomorrow. Who has gone?"
"Mrs. Pendragon and the Bensons. But I didn't suppose I could tell you
any news about the Bensons."
"I have been out of the way of the newspapers lately. Did you happen to
hear where they have gone?"
"Somewhere around the mountains. You need not look so indifferent; they
are coming back here again. They are doing what I must do; and I wish
you would tell me what to see. I have studied the guide-books till my
mind is a blank. Where shall I go?"
"That depends. If you simply want to enjoy yourselves, stay at this
hotel--there is no better place--sit on the piazza, look at the
mountains, and watch the world as it comes round. If you want the best
panoramic view of the mountains, the Washington and Lafayette ranges
together, go up to the Waumbec House. If you are after the best single
limited view in the mountains, drive up to the top of Mount Willard, near
the Crawford House--a delightful place to stay in a region full of
associations, Willey House, avalanche, and all that. If you would like
to take a walk you will remember forever, go by the carriage road from
the top of Mount Washington to the Glen House, and look into the great
gulfs, and study the tawny sides of the mountains. I don't know anything
more impressive hereabouts than that. Close to, those granite ranges
have the color of the hide of the rhinoceros; when you look up to them
from the Glen House, shouldering up into the sky, and rising to the
cloud-clapped summit of Washington, it is like a purple highway into the
infinite heaven. No, you must not miss either Crawford's or the Glen
House; and as to Mount Washington, that is a duty."
"You might personally conduct us and expound by the way."
King said he would like nothing better. Inquiry failed to give him any
more information of the whereabouts of the Bensons; but the clerk said
they were certain to return to the Profile House. The next day the party
which had been left behind at Alexandria Bay appeared, in high spirits,
and ready for any adventure. Mrs. Farquhar declared at once that she had
no scruples about going up Washington, commonplace as the trip was, for
her sympathies were now all with the common people. Of course Mount
Washington was of no special importance, now that the Black Mountains
were in the Union, but she hadn't a bit of prejudice.
King praised her courage and her patriotism. But perhaps she did not
know how much she risked. He had been talking with some habitue's of the
Profile, who had been coming here for years, and had just now for the
first time been up Mount Washington, and they said that while the trip
was pleasant enough, it did not pay for the exertion. Perhaps Mrs.
Farquhar did not know that mountain-climbing was disapproved of here as
sea-bathing was at Newport. It was hardly the thing one would like to
do, except, of course, as a mere lark, and, don't you know, with a party.
Mrs. Farquhar said that was just the reason she wanted to go. She was
willing to make any sacrifice; she considered herself just a missionary
of provincialism up North, where people had become so cosmopolitan that
they dared not enjoy anything. She was an enemy of the Boston
philosophy. What is the Boston philosophy? Why, it is not to care about
anything you do care about.
The party that was arranged for this trip included Mrs. Cortlandt and her
bevy of beauty and audacity, Miss Lamont and her uncle, Mrs. Farquhar,
the artist, and the desperate pilgrim of love. Mrs. Farquhar vowed to
Forbes that she had dragged King along at the request of the proprietor
of the hotel, who did not like to send a guest away, but he couldn't have
all the trees at Profile Lake disfigured with his cutting and carving.
People were running to him all the while to know what it meant with
"I. B.," " I. B.," " I. B.," everywhere, like a grove of Baal.
From the junction to Fabyan's they rode in an observation car, all open,
and furnished with movable chairs, where they sat as in a balcony. It
was a picturesque load of passengers. There were the young ladies in
trim traveling-suits, in what is called compact fighting trim; ladies in
mourning; ladies in winter wraps; ladies in Scotch wraps; young men with
shawl-straps and opera-glasses, standing, legs astride, consulting maps
and imparting information; the usual sweet pale girl with a bundle of
cat-tails and a decorative intention; and the nonchalant young man in a
striped English boating cap, who nevertheless spoke American when he said
As they were swinging slowly along the engine suddenly fell into a panic,
puffing and sending up shrill shrieks of fear in rapid succession. There
was a sedate cow on the track. The engine was agitated, it shrieked more
shrilly, and began backing in visible terror. Everybody jumped and stood
up, and the women clung to the men, all frightened. It was a beautiful
exhibition of the sweet dependence of the sex in the hour of danger.
The cow was more terrible than a lion on the track. The passengers all
trembled like the engine. In fact, the only calm being was the cow,
which, after satisfying her curiosity, walked slowly off, wondering what
it was all about.
The cog-wheel railway is able to transport a large number of
excursionists to the top of the mountain in the course of the morning.
The tourists usually arrive there about the time the mist has crept up
from the valleys and enveloped everything. Our party had the common
experience. The Summit House, the Signal Station, the old Tip-top House,
which is lashed down with cables, and rises ten feet higher than the
highest crag, were all in the clouds. Nothing was to be seen except the
dim outline of these buildings.
"I wonder," said Mrs. Farquhar, as they stumbled along over the slippery
stones, "what people come here for."
"Just what we came for," answered Forbes, "to say they have been on top of
They took refuge in the hotel, but that also was invaded by the damp,
chill atmosphere, wrapped in and pervaded by the clouds. From the
windows nothing more was to be seen than is visible in a Russian steam
bath. But the tourists did not mind. They addressed themselves to the
business in hand. This was registering their names. A daily newspaper
called Among the Clouds is published here, and every person who gets his
name on the register in time can see it in print before the train goes.
When the train descends, every passenger has one of these two-cent
certificates of his exploit. When our party entered, there was a great
run on the register, especially by women, who have a repugnance, as is
well known, to seeing their names in print. In the room was a hot stove,
which was more attractive than the cold clouds, but unable to compete in
interest with the register. The artist, who seemed to be in a sardonic
mood, and could get no chance to enter his name, watched the scene, while
his friends enjoyed the view of the stove. After registering, the
visitors all bought note-paper with a chromo heading, "Among the Clouds,"
and a natural wild-flower stuck on the corner, and then rushed to the
writing-room in order to indite an epistle "from the summit." This is
After that they were ready for the Signal Station. This is a great
attraction. The sergeant in charge looked bored to death, and in the
mood to predict the worst kind of weather. He is all day beset with a
crowd craning their necks to look at him, and bothered with ten thousand
questions. He told King that the tourists made his life miserable; they
were a great deal worse than the blizzards in the winter. And the
government, he said, does not take this into account in his salary.
Occasionally there was an alarm that the mist was getting thin, that the
clouds were about to break, and a rush was made out-of-doors, and the
tourists dispersed about on the rocks. They were all on the qui vine to
see the hotel or the boarding-house they had left in the early morning.
Excursionists continually swarmed in by rail or by carriage road. The
artist, who had one of his moods for wanting to see nature, said there
were too many women; he wanted to know why there were always so many
women on excursions. "You can see nothing but excursionists; whichever
way you look, you see their backs." These backs, looming out of the
mist, or discovered in a rift, seemed to enrage him.
At length something actually happened. The curtain of cloud slowly
lifted, exactly as in a theatre; for a moment there was a magnificent
view of peaks, forests, valleys, a burst of sunshine on the lost world,
and then the curtain dropped, amid a storm of "Ohs!" and "Ahs!" and
intense excitement. Three or four times, as if in response to the call
of the spectators, this was repeated, the curtain lifting every time on a
different scene, and then it was all over, and the heavy mist shut down
on the registered and the unregistered alike. But everybody declared
that they preferred it this way; it was so much better to have these
wonderful glimpses than a full view. They would go down and brag over
The excursionists by-and-by went away out of the clouds, gliding
breathlessly down the rails. When snow covers this track, descent is
sometimes made on a toboggan, but it is such a dangerous venture that all
except the operatives are now forbidden to try it. The velocity attained
of three and a half miles in three minutes may seem nothing to a
locomotive engineer who is making up time; it might seem slow to a lover
whose sweetheart was at the foot of the slide; to ordinary mortals a mile
a minute is quite enough on such an incline.
Our party, who would have been much surprised if any one had called them
an excursion, went away on foot down the carriage road to the Glen House.
A descent of a few rods took them into the world of light and sun, and
they were soon beyond the little piles of stones which mark the spots
where tourists have sunk down bewildered in the mist and died of
exhaustion and cold. These little mounds help to give Mount Washington
its savage and implacable character. It is not subdued by all the roads
and rails and scientific forces. For days it may lie basking and smiling
in the sun, but at any hour it is liable to become inhospitable and
pitiless, and for a good part of the year the summit is the area of
How delightful it was to saunter down the winding road into a region of
peace and calm; to see from the safe highway the great giants in all
their majesty; to come to vegetation, to the company of familiar trees,
and the haunts of men! As they reached the Glen House all the line of
rugged mountain-peaks was violet in the reflected rays. There were
people on the porch who were looking at this spectacle. Among them the
eager eyes of King recognized Irene.
"Yes, there she is," cried Mrs. Farquhar; "and there--oh, what a
treacherous North---- is Mr. Meigs also."
It was true. There was Mr. Meigs, apparently domiciled with the Benson
family. There might have been a scene, but fortunately the porch was
full of loungers looking at the sunset, and other pedestrians in couples
and groups were returning from afternoon strolls. It might be the crisis
of two lives, but to the spectator nothing more was seen than the
everyday meeting of friends and acquaintances. A couple say good-night
at the door of a drawing-room. Nothing has happened--nothing except a
look, nothing except the want of pressure of the hand. The man lounges
off to the smoking-room, cool and indifferent; the woman, in her chamber,
falls into a passion of tears, and at the end of a wakeful night comes
into a new world, hard and cold and uninteresting. Or the reverse
happens. It is the girl who tosses the thing off with a smile, perhaps
with a sigh, as the incident of a season, while the man, wounded and
bitter, loses a degree of respect for woman, and pitches his life
henceforth on a lower plane.
In the space of ten steps King passed through an age of emotions, but the
strongest one steadied him. There was a general movement, exclamations,
greetings, introductions. King was detained a moment by Mr. and Mrs.
Benson; he even shook hands with Mr. Meigs, who had the tact to turn
immediately from the group and talk with somebody else; while Mrs.
Farquhar and Miss Lamont and Mrs. Cortlandt precipitated themselves upon
Irene in a little tempest of cries and caresses and delightful feminine
fluttering. Truth to say, Irene was so overcome by these greetings that
she had not the strength to take a step forward when King at length
approached her. She stood with one hand grasping the back of the chair.
She knew that that moment would decide her life. Nothing is more
admirable in woman, nothing so shows her strength, as her ability to face
in public such a moment. It was the critical moment for King--how
critical the instant was, luckily, he did not then know. If there had
been in his eyes any doubt, any wavering, any timidity, his cause would
have been lost. But there was not. There was infinite love and
tenderness, but there was also resolution, confidence, possession,
mastery. There was that that would neither be denied nor turned aside,
nor accept any subterfuge. If King had ridden up on a fiery steed,
felled Meigs with his "mailed hand," and borne away the fainting girl on
his saddle pommel, there could have been no more doubt of his resolute
intention. In that look all the mists of doubt that her judgment had
raised in Irene's mind to obscure love vanished. Her heart within her
gave a great leap of exultation that her lover was a man strong enough to
compel, strong enough to defend. At that instant she knew that she could
trust him against the world. In that moment, while he still held her
hand, she experienced the greatest joy that woman ever knows--the bliss
of absolute surrender.
"I have come," he said, "in answer to your letter. And this is my
She had it in his presence, and read it in his eyes. With the delicious
sense thrilling her that she was no longer her own master there came a
new timidity. She had imagined that if ever she should meet Mr. King
again, she should defend her course, and perhaps appear in his eyes in a
very heroic attitude. Now she only said, falteringly, and looking down,
"I--I hoped you would come."
That evening there was a little dinner given in a private parlor by Mr.
Benson in honor of the engagement of his daughter. It was great larks
for the young ladies whom Mrs. Cortlandt was chaperoning, who behaved
with an elaboration of restraint and propriety that kept Irene in a
flutter of uneasiness. Mr. Benson, in mentioning the reason for the
"little spread," told the story of Abraham Lincoln's sole response to
Lord Lyons, the bachelor minister of her majesty, when he came officially
to announce the marriage of the Prince of Wales--"Lord Lyons, go thou and
do likewise;" and he looked at Forbes when he told it, which made Miss
Lamont blush, and appear what the artist had described her to King--the
sweetest thing in life. Mrs. Benson beamed with motherly content, and
was quite as tearful as ungrammatical, but her mind was practical and
forecasting. "There'll have to be," she confided to Miss Lamont, "more
curtains in the parlor, and I don't know but new paper." Mr. Meigs was
not present. Mrs. Farquhar noticed this, and Mrs. Benson remembered that
he had said something about going down to North Conway, which gave King
an opportunity to say to Mrs. Farquhar that she ought not to despair, for
Mr. Meigs evidently moved in a circle, and was certain to cross her path
again. "I trust so," she replied. "I've been his only friend through
all this miserable business." The dinner was not a great success. There
was too much self-consciousness all round, and nobody was witty and
The next morning King took Irene to the Crystal Cascade. When he used to
frequent this pretty spot as a college boy, it had seemed to him the
ideal place for a love scene-much better than the steps of a hotel. He
said as much when they were seated at the foot of the fall. It is a
charming cascade fed by the water that comes down Tuckerman's Ravine.
But more beautiful than the fall is the stream itself, foaming down
through the bowlders, or lying in deep limpid pools which reflect the sky
and the forest. The water is as cold as ice and as clear as cut glass;
few mountain streams in the world, probably, are so absolutely without
color. "I followed it up once," King was saying, by way of filling in
the pauses with personal revelations, "to the source. The woods on the
side are dense and impenetrable, and the only way was to keep in the
stream and climb over the bowlders. There are innumerable slides and
cascades and pretty falls, and a thousand beauties and surprises.
I finally came to a marsh, a thicket of alders, and around this the
mountain closed in an amphitheatre of naked perpendicular rock a thousand
feet high. I made my way along the stream through the thicket till I
came to a great bank and arch of snow--it was the last of July--from
under which the stream flowed. Water dripped in many little rivulets
down the face of the precipices--after a rain there are said to be a
thousand cascades there. I determined to climb to the summit, and go
back by the Tip-top House. It does not look so from a little distance,
but there is a rough, zigzag sort of path on one side of the
amphitheatre, and I found this, and scrambled up. When I reached the top
the sun was shining, and although there was nothing around me but piles
of granite rocks, without any sign of a path, I knew that I had my
bearings so that I could either reach the house or a path leading to it.
I stretched myself out to rest a few moments, and suddenly the scene was
completely shut in by a fog. [Irene put out her hand and touched
King's.] I couldn't tell where the sun was, or in what direction the hut
lay, and the danger was that I would wander off on a spur, as the lost
usually do. But I knew where the ravine was, for I was still on the edge
"Why," asked Irene, trembling at the thought of that danger so long ago--
"why didn't you go back down the ravine?"
"Because," and King took up the willing little hand and pressed it to his
lips, and looked steadily in her eyes--"because that is not my way. It
was nothing. I made what I thought was a very safe calculation, starting
from the ravine as a base, to strike the Crawford bridle-path at least a
quarter of a mile west of the house. I hit it--but it shows how little
one can tell of his course in a fog--I struck it within a rod of the
house! It was lucky for me that I did not go two rods further east."
Ah me! how real and still present the peril seemed to the girl! "You
will solemnly promise me, solemnly, will you not, Stanhope, never to go
there again--never--without me?"
The promise was given. "I have a note," said King, after the promise was
recorded and sealed, "to show you. It came this morning. It is from
Mrs. Bartlett Glow."
"Perhaps I'd rather not see it," said Irene, a little stiffly.
"Oh, there is a message to you. I'll read it."
It was dated at Newport.
"MY DEAR STANHOPE,--The weather has changed. I hope it is more
congenial where you are. It is horrid here. I am in a bad humor,
chiefly about the cook. Don't think I'm going to inflict a letter
on you. You don't deserve it besides. But I should like to know
Miss Benson's address. We shall be at home in October, late, and I
want her to come and make me a little visit. If you happen to see
her, give her my love, and believe me your affectionate cousin,
The next day they explored the wonders of the Notch, and the next were
back in the serene atmosphere of the Profile House. How lovely it all
was; how idyllic; what a bloom there was on the hills; how amiable
everybody seemed; how easy it was to be kind and considerate! King
wished he could meet a beggar at every turn. I know he made a great
impression on some elderly maiden ladies at the hotel, who thought him
the most gentlemanly and good young man they had ever seen. Ah! if one
could always be in love and always young!
They went one day by invitation, Irene and Marion and King and the
artist--as if it made any difference where they went--to Lonesome Lake,
a private pond and fishing-lodge on the mountain-top, under the ledge of
Cannon. There, set in a rim of forest and crags, lies a charming little
lake--which the mountain holds like a mirror for the sky and the clouds
and the sailing hawks--full of speckled trout, which have had to be
educated by skillful sportsmen to take the fly. From this lake one sees
the whole upper range of Lafayette, gray and purple against the sky.
On the bank is a log cabin touched with color, with great chimneys,
and as luxuriously comfortable as it is picturesque.
While dinner was preparing, the whole party were on the lake in boats,
equipped with fishing apparatus, and if the trout had been in half as