Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

found when it came to the test that they could not with comfort come into
any sort of contact with popular life?  It is not large, but no summer
resort in Europe has a prettier place for lounging and reunion.  None
have such an air of refinement and exclusiveness.  Indeed, one of the
chief attractions and entertainments in the foreign casinos and
conversation-halls is the mingling there of all sorts of peoples, and the
animation arising from diversity of conditions.  This popular commingling
in pleasure resorts is safe enough in aristocratic countries, but it will
not answer in a republic.

The Newport Casino is in the nature of a club of the best society.
The building and grounds express the most refined taste.  Exteriorly the
house is a long, low Queen Anne cottage, with brilliant shops on the
ground-floor, and above, behind the wooded balconies, is the clubroom.
The tint of the shingled front is brown, and all the colors are low and
blended.  Within, the court is a mediaeval surprise.  It is a miniature
castle, such as might serve for an opera scene.  An extension of the
galleries, an ombre, completes the circle around the plot of close-
clipped green turf.  The house itself is all balconies, galleries, odd
windows half overgrown and hidden by ivy, and a large gilt clock-face
adds a touch of piquancy to the antique charm of the facade.  Beyond the
first court is a more spacious and less artificial lawn, set with fine
trees, and at the bottom of it is the brown building containing ballroom
and theatre, bowling-alley and closed tennis-court, and at an angle with
the second lawn is a pretty field for lawn-tennis.  Here the tournaments
are held, and on these occasions, and on ball nights, the Casino is

If the Casino is then so exclusive, why is it not more used as a
rendezvous and lounging-place?  Alas! it must be admitted that it is not
exclusive.  By an astonishing concession in the organization any person
can gain admittance by paying the sum of fifty cents.  This tax is
sufficient to exclude the deserving poor, but it is only an inducement to
the vulgar rich, and it is even broken down by the prodigal excursionist,
who commonly sets out from home with the intention of being reckless for
one day.  It is easy to see, therefore, why the charm of this delightful
place is tarnished.

The band was playing this morning--not rink music--when Mrs. Glow and
King entered and took chairs on the ombre.  It was a very pretty scene;
more people were present than usual of a morning.  Groups of half a dozen
had drawn chairs together here and there, and were chatting and laughing;
two or three exceedingly well-preserved old bachelors, in the smart rough
morning suits of the period, were entertaining their lady friends with
club and horse talk; several old gentlemen were reading newspapers; and
there were some dowager-looking mammas, and seated by them their cold,
beautiful, high-bred daughters, who wore their visible exclusiveness like
a garment, and contrasted with some other young ladies who were
promenading with English-looking young men in flannel suits, who might be
described as lawn-tennis young ladies conscious of being in the mode,
but wanting the indescribable atmosphere of high-breeding.  Doubtless the
most interesting persons to the student of human life were the young
fellows in lawn-tennis suits.  They had the languid air which is so
attractive at their age, of having found out life, and decided that it is
a bore.  Nothing is worth making an exertion about, not even pleasure.
They had come, one could see, to a just appreciation of their value in
life, and understood quite well the social manners of the mammas and
girls in whose company they condescended to dawdle and make, languidly,
cynical observations.  They had, in truth, the manner of playing at
fashion and elegance as in a stage comedy.  King could not help thinking
there was something theatrical about them altogether, and he fancied that
when he saw them in their "traps" on the Avenue they were going through
the motions for show and not for enjoyment.  Probably King was mistaken
in all this, having been abroad so long that he did not understand the
evolution of the American gilded youth.

In a pause of the music Mrs. Bartlett Glow and Mr. King were standing
with a group near the steps that led down to the inner lawn.  Among them
were the Postlethwaite girls, whose beauty and audacity made such a
sensation in Washington last winter.  They were bantering Mr. King about
his Narragansett excursion, his cousin having maliciously given the party
a hint of his encounter with the tide at the Pier. . .  Just at this
moment, happening to glance across the lawn, he saw the Bensons coming
towards the steps, Mrs. Benson waddling over the grass and beaming
towards the group, Mr. Benson carrying her shawl and looking as if he had
been hired by the day, and Irene listlessly following.  Mrs. Glow saw
them at the same moment, but gave no other sign of her knowledge than by
striking into the banter with more animation.  Mr. King intended at once
to detach himself and advance to meet the Bensons.  But he could not
rudely break away from the unfinished sentence of the younger
Postlethwaite girl, and the instant that was concluded, as luck would
have it, an elderly lady joined the group, and Mrs. Glow went through the
formal ceremony of introducing King to her.  He hardly knew how it
happened, only that he made a hasty bow to the Bensons as he was shaking
hands with the ceremonious old lady, and they had gone to the door of
exit.  He gave a little start as if to follow them, which Mrs. Glow
noticed with a laugh and the remark, "You can catch them if you run,"
and then he weakly submitted to his fate.  After all, it was only an
accident which would hardly need a word of explanation.  But what Irene
saw was this: a distant nod from Mrs. Glow, a cool survey and stare from
the Postlethwaite girls, and the failure of Mr. King to recognize his
friends any further than by an indifferent bow as he turned to speak to
another lady.  In the raw state of her sensitiveness she felt all this as
a terrible and perhaps intended humiliation.

King did not return to the hotel till evening, and then he sent up his
card to the Bensons.  Word came back that the ladies were packing, and
must be excused.  He stood at the office desk and wrote a hasty note to
Irene, attempting an explanation of what might seem to her a rudeness,
and asked that he might see her a moment.  And then he paced the corridor
waiting for a reply.  In his impatience the fifteen minutes that he
waited seemed an hour.  Then a bell-boy handed him this note:

     "MY DEAR MR. KING,--No explanation whatever was needed.  We never
     shall forget your kindness.  Good-by.
                                             IRENE BENSON"

He folded the note carefully and put it in his breast pocket, took it out
and reread it, lingering over the fine and dainty signature, put it back
again, and walked out upon the piazza.  It was a divine night, soft and
sweet-scented, and all the rustling trees were luminous in the electric
light.  From a window opening upon a balcony overhead came the clear
notes of a barytone voice enunciating the oldfashioned words of an
English ballad, the refrain of which expressed hopeless separation.

The eastern coast, with its ragged outline of bays, headlands,
indentations, islands, capes, and sand-spits, from Watch Hill, a favorite
breezy resort, to Mount Desert, presents an almost continual chain of
hotels and summer cottages.  In fact, the same may be said of the whole
Atlantic front from Mount Desert down to Cape May.  It is to the traveler
an amazing spectacle.  The American people can no longer be reproached
for not taking any summer recreation.  The amount of money invested to
meet the requirements of this vacation idleness is enormous.  When one is
on the coast in July or August it seems as if the whole fifty millions of
people had come down to lie on the rocks, wade in the sand, and dip into
the sea.  But this is not the case.  These crowds are only a fringe of
the pleasure-seeking population.  In all the mountain regions from North
Carolina to the Adirondacks and the White Hills, along the St. Lawrence
and the lakes away up to the Northwest, in every elevated village, on
every mountain-side, about every pond, lake, and clear stream, in the
wilderness and the secluded farmhouse, one encounters the traveler, the
summer boarder, the vacation idler, one is scarcely out of sight of the
American flag flying over a summer resort.  In no other nation, probably,
is there such a general summer hejira, no other offers on such a vast
scale such a variety of entertainment, and it is needless to say that
history presents no parallel to this general movement of a people for a
summer outing.  Yet it is no doubt true that statistics, which always
upset a broad generous statement such as I have made, would show that the
majority of people stay at home in the summer, and it is undeniable that
the vexing question for everybody is where to go in July and August.

But there are resorts suited to all tastes, and to the economical as well
as to the extravagant.  Perhaps the strongest impression one has in
visiting the various watering-places in the summer-time, is that the
multitudes of every-day folk are abroad in search of enjoyment.  On the
New Bedford boat for Martha's Vineyard our little party of tourists
sailed quite away from Newport life--Stanhope with mingled depression and
relief, the artist with some shrinking from contact with anything common,
while Marion stood upon the bow beside her uncle, inhaling the salt
breeze, regarding the lovely fleeting shores, her cheeks glowing and her
eyes sparkling with enjoyment.  The passengers and scene, Stanhope was
thinking, were typically New England, until the boat made a landing at
Naushon Island, when he was reminded somehow of Scotland, as much perhaps
by the wild furzy appearance of the island as by the "gentle-folks" who
went ashore.

The boat lingered for the further disembarkation of a number of horses

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: