List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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were a separate rink for each sex.  There is a certain exhilaration in
the lights and music and the lively crowd, and always an attraction in
the freedom of intercourse offered.  The rink has its world as the opera
has, its romances and its heroes.  The frequenters of the rink know the
young women and the young men who have a national reputation as adepts,
and their exhibitions are advertised and talked about as are the
appearances of celebrated 'prime donne' and 'tenori' at the opera.
The visitors had an opportunity to see one of these exhibitions.  After a
weary watching of the monotonous and clattering round and round of the
swinging couples or the stumbling single skaters, the floor was cleared,
and the darling of the rink glided upon the scene.  He was a slender,
handsome fellow, graceful and expert to the nicest perfection in his
profession.  He seemed not so much to skate as to float about the floor,
with no effort except volition.  His rhythmic movements were followed
with pleasure, but it was his feats of dexterity, which were more
wonderful than graceful, that brought down the house.  It was evident
that he was a hero to the female part of the spectators, and no doubt his
charming image continued to float round and round in the brain of many a
girl when she put her, head on the pillow that night.  It is said that a
good many matches which are not projected or registered in heaven are
made at the rink.

At the breakfast-table it appeared that the sketching-party had been a
great success--for everybody except the artist, who had only some rough
memoranda, like notes for a speech, to show.  The amateurs had made
finished pictures.

Miss Benson had done some rocks, and had got their hardness very well.
Miss Lamont's effort was more ambitious; her picture took in no less than
miles of coast, as much sea as there was room for on the paper, a navy of
sail-boats, and all the rocks and figures that were in the foreground,
and it was done with a great deal of naivete and conscientiousness.
When it was passed round the table, the comments were very flattering.

"It looks just like it," said Mr. Benson.

"It's very comprehensive," remarked Mr. Forbes.

"What I like, Marion," said Mr. De Long, holding it out at arm's-length,
"is the perspective; it isn't an easy thing to put ships up in the sky."

"Of course," explained Irene, "it was a kind of hazy day."

"But I think Miss Lamont deserves credit for keeping the haze out of it."
King was critically examining it, turning his head from side to side.
"I like it; but I tell you what I think it lacks: it lacks atmosphere.
Why don't you cut a hole in it, Miss Lamont, and let the air in?"

"Mr. King," replied Miss Lamont, quite seriously, "you are a real friend,
I can only repay you by taking you to church this morning."

"You didn't make much that time, King," said Forbes, as he lounged out of
the room.

After church King accepted a seat in the Benson carriage for a drive on
the Ocean Road.  He who takes this drive for the first time is enchanted
with the scene, and it has so much variety, deliciousness in curve and
winding, such graciousness in the union of sea and shore, such charm of
color, that increased acquaintance only makes one more in love with it.
A good part of its attraction lies in the fickleness of its aspect.
Its serene and soft appearance might pall if it were not now and then,
and often suddenly, and with little warning, transformed into a wild
coast, swept by a tearing wind, enveloped in a thick fog, roaring with
the noise of the angry sea slapping the rocks and breaking in foam on the
fragments its rage has cast down.  This elementary mystery and terror is
always present, with one familiar with the coast, to qualify the
gentleness of its lovelier aspects.  It has all moods.  Perhaps the most
exhilarating is that on a brilliant day, when shore and sea sparkle in
the sun, and the waves leap high above the cliffs, and fall in diamond

This Sunday the shore was in its most gracious mood, the landscape as if
newly created.  There was a light, luminous fog, which revealed just
enough to excite the imagination, and refined every outline and softened
every color.  Mr. King and Irene left the carriage to follow the road,
and wandered along the sea path.  What softness and tenderness of color
in the gray rocks, with the browns and reds of the vines and lichens!
They went out on the iron fishing-stands, and looked down at the shallow
water.  The rocks under water took on the most exquisite shades--purple
and malachite and brown; the barnacles clung to them; the long sea-weeds,
in half a dozen varieties, some in vivid colors, swept over them, flowing
with the restless tide, like the long locks of a drowned woman's hair.
King, who had dabbled a little in natural history, took great delight in
pointing out to Irene this varied and beautiful life of the sea; and the
girl felt a new interest in science, for it was all pure science, and she
opened her heart to it, not knowing that love can go in by the door of
science as well as by any other opening.  Was Irene really enraptured by
the dear little barnacles and the exquisite sea-weeds?  I have seen a
girl all of a flutter with pleasure in a laboratory when a young chemist
was showing her the retorts and the crooked tubes and the glass wool and
the freaks of color which the alkalies played with the acids.  God has
made them so, these women, and let us be thankful for it.

What a charm there was about everything!  Occasionally the mist became so
thin that a long line of coast and a great breadth of sea were visible,
with the white sails drifting.

"There's nothing like it," said King--"there's nothing like this island.
It seems as if the Creator had determined to show man, once for all, a
landscape perfectly refined, you might almost say with the beauty of
high-breeding, refined in outline, color, everything softened into
loveliness, and yet touched with the wild quality of picturesqueness."

" It's just a dream at this moment," murmured Irene.  They were standing
on a promontory of rock.  "See those figures of people there through the
mist--silhouettes only.  And look at that vessel--there--no--it has

As she was speaking, a sail-vessel began to loom up large in the
mysterious haze.  But was it not the ghost of a ship?  For an instant it
was coming, coming; it was distinct; and when it was plainly in sight it
faded away, like a dissolving view, and was gone.  The appearance was
unreal.  What made it more spectral was the bell on the reefs, swinging
in its triangle, always sounding, and the momentary scream of the fog-
whistle.  It was like an enchanted coast.  Regaining the carriage, they
drove out to the end, Agassiz's Point, where, when the mist lifted, they
saw the sea all round dotted with sails, the irregular coasts and islands
with headlands and lighthouses, all the picture still, land and water in
a summer swoon.

Late that afternoon all the party were out upon the cliff path in front
of the cottages.  There is no more lovely sea stroll in the world, the
way winding over the cliff edge by the turquoise sea, where the turf,
close cut and green as Erin, set with flower beds and dotted with noble
trees, slopes down, a broad pleasure park, from the stately and
picturesque villas.  But it was a social mistake to go there on Sunday.
Perhaps it is not the height of good form to walk there any day, but Mr.
King did not know that the fashion had changed, and that on Sunday this
lovely promenade belongs to the butlers and the upper maids, especially
to the butlers, who make it resplendent on Sunday afternoons when the
weather is good.  As the weather had thickened in the late afternoon, our
party walked in a dumb-show, listening to the soft swish of the waves on
the rocks below, and watching the figures of other promenaders, who were
good enough ladies and gentlemen in this friendly mist.

The next day Mr. King made a worse mistake.  He remembered that at high
noon everybody went down to the first beach, a charming sheltered place
at the bottom of the bay, where the rollers tumble in finely from the
south, to bathe or see others bathe.  The beach used to be lined with
carriages at that hour, and the surf, for a quarter of a mile, presented
the appearance of a line of picturesquely clad skirmishers going out to
battle with the surf.  Today there were not half a dozen carriages and
omnibuses altogether, and the bathers were few-nursery maids, fragments
of a day-excursion, and some of the fair conventionists.  Newport was not
there.  Mr. King had led his party into another social blunder.  It has
ceased to be fashionable to bathe at Newport.

Strangers and servants may do so, but the cottagers have withdrawn their
support from the ocean.  Saltwater may be carried to the house and used
without loss of caste, but bathing in the surf is vulgar.  A gentleman
may go down and take a dip alone--it had better be at an early hour--and
the ladies of the house may be heard to apologize for his eccentricity,
as if his fondness for the water were abnormal and quite out of
experience.  And the observer is obliged to admit that promiscuous
bathing is vulgar, as it is plain enough to be seen when it becomes
unfashionable.  It is charitable to think also that the cottagers have
made it unfashionable because it is vulgar, and not because it is a cheap
and refreshing pleasure accessible to everybody.

Nevertheless, Mr. King's ideas of Newport were upset.  "It's a little off
color to walk much on the cliffs; you lose caste if you bathe in the
surf.  What can you do?"

"Oh," explained Miss Lamont, "you can make calls; go to teas and
receptions and dinners; belong to the Casino, but not appear there much;
and you must drive on the Ocean Road, and look as English as you can.
Didn't you notice that Redfern has an establishment on the Avenue?
Well, the London girls wear what Redfern tells them to wear-much to the
improvement of their appearance--and so it has become possible for a New-
Yorker to become partially English without sacrificing her native taste."

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