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List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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and music was in the air, and the bicycle and tricycle stable was well
patronized by men and women, and the noon bathing was well attended, it
was evident that the life of Cottage City was not in full swing by the
middle of July.

The morning on which our tourists took the steamer for Wood's Holl the
sea lay shimmering in the heat, only stirred a little by the land breeze,
and it needed all the invigoration of the short ocean voyage to brace
them up for the intolerably hot and dusty ride in the cars through the
sandy part of Massachusetts.  So long as the train kept by the indented
shore the route was fairly picturesque; all along Buzzard Bay and Onset
Bay and Monument Beach little cottages, gay with paint and fantastic saw-
work explained, in a measure, the design of Providence in permitting this
part of the world to be discovered; but the sandy interior had to be
reconciled to the deeper divine intention by a trial of patience and the
cultivation of the heroic virtues evoked by a struggle for existence, of
fitting men and women for a better country.  The travelers were
confirmed, however, in their theory of the effect of a sandy country upon
the human figure.  This is not a juicy land, if the expression can be
tolerated, any more than the sandy parts of New Jersey, and its
unsympathetic dryness is favorable to the production--one can hardly say
development of the lean, enduring, flat-chested, and angular style of
woman.

In order to reach Plymouth a wait of a couple of hours was necessary at
one of the sleepy but historic villages.  There was here no tavern,
no restaurant, and nobody appeared to have any license to sell anything
for the refreshment of the travelers.  But at some distance from the
station, in a two-roomed dwelling-house, a good woman was found who was
willing to cook a meal of victuals, as she explained, and a sign on her
front door attested, she had a right to do.  What was at the bottom of
the local prejudice against letting the wayfaring man have anything to
eat and drink, the party could not ascertain, but the defiant air of the
woman revealed the fact that there was such a prejudice.  She was a
noble, robust, gigantic specimen of her sex, well formed, strong as an
ox, with a resolute jaw, and she talked, through tightly-closed teeth,
in an aggressive manner.  Dinner was ordered, and the party strolled
about the village pending its preparation; but it was not ready when they
returned.  "I ain't goin' to cook no victuals," the woman explained, not
ungraciously, "till I know folks is goin' to eat it."  Knowledge of the
world had made her justly cautious.  She intended to set out a good meal,
and she had the true housewife's desire that it should be eaten,
that there should be enough of it, and that the guests should like it.
When she waited on the table she displayed a pair of arms that would
discourage any approach to familiarity, and disincline a timid person to
ask twice for pie; but in point of fact, as soon as the party became her
bona-fide guests, she was royally hospitable, and only displayed anxiety
lest they should not eat enough.

"I like folks to be up and down and square," she began saying, as she
vigilantly watched the effect of her culinary skill upon the awed little
party.  "Yes, I've got a regular hotel license; you bet I have.  There's
been folks lawed in this town for sellin' a meal of victuals and not
having one.  I ain't goin' to be taken in by anybody.  I warn't raised in
New Hampshire to be scared by these Massachusetts folks.  No, I hain't
got a girl now.  I had one a spell, but I'd rather do my own work.  You
never knew what a girl was doin' or would do.  After she'd left I found a
broken plate tucked into the ash-barrel.  Sho! you can't depend on a
girl.  Yes, I've got a husband.  It's easier to manage him.  Well, I tell
you a husband is better than a girl.  When you tell him to do anything,
you know it's going to be done.  He's always about, never loafin' round;
he can take right hold and wash dishes, and fetch water, and anything."

King went into the kitchen after dinner and saw this model husband,
who had the faculty of making himself generally useful, holding a baby on
one arm, and stirring something in a pot on the stove with the other.
He looked hot but resigned.  There has been so much said about the
position of men in Massachusetts that the travelers were glad of this
evidence that husbands are beginning to be appreciated.  Under proper
training they are acknowledged to be "better than girls."

It was late afternoon when they reached the quiet haven of Plymouth--a
place where it is apparently always afternoon, a place of memory and
reminiscences, where the whole effort of the population is to hear and to
tell some old thing.  As the railway ends there, there is no danger of
being carried beyond, and the train slowly ceases motion, and stands
still in the midst of a great and welcome silence.  Peace fell upon the
travelers like a garment, and although they had as much difficulty in
landing their baggage as the early Pilgrims had in getting theirs ashore,
the circumstance was not able to disquiet them much.  It seemed natural
that their trunks should go astray on some of the inextricably
interlocked and branching railways, and they had no doubt that when they
had made the tour of the State they would be discharged, as they finally
were, into this cul-de-sac.

The Pilgrims have made so much noise in the world, and so powerfully
affected the continent, that our tourists were surprised to find they had
landed in such a quiet place, and that the spirit they have left behind
them is one of such tranquillity.  The village has a charm all its own.
Many of the houses are old-fashioned and square, some with colonial doors
and porches, irregularly aligned on the main street, which is arched by
ancient and stately elms.  In the spacious door-yards the lindens have
had room and time to expand, and in the beds of bloom the flowers, if not
the very ones that our grandmothers planted, are the sorts that they
loved.  Showing that the town has grown in sympathy with human needs and
eccentricities, and is not the work of a surveyor, the streets are
irregular, forming picturesque angles and open spaces.

Nothing could be imagined in greater contrast to a Western town, and a
good part of the satisfaction our tourists experienced was in the absence
of anything Western or "Queen Anne" in the architecture.

In the Pilgrim Hall--a stone structure with an incongruous wooden-
pillared front--they came into the very presence of the early worthies,
saw their portraits on the walls, sat in their chairs, admired the
solidity of their shoes, and imbued themselves with the spirit of the
relics of their heroic, uncomfortable lives.  In the town there was
nothing to disturb the serenity of mind acquired by this communion.
The Puritan interdict of unseemly excitement still prevailed, and the
streets were silent; the artist, who could compare it with the placidity
of Holland towns, declared that he never walked in a village so silent;
there was no loud talking; and even the children played without noise,
like little Pilgrims. . .  God bless such children, and increase their
numbers!  It might have been the approach of Sunday--if Sunday is still
regarded in eastern Massachusetts--that caused this hush, for it was now
towards sunset on Saturday, and the inhabitants were washing the fronts
of the houses with the hose, showing how cleanliness is next to silence.

Possessed with the spirit of peace, our tourists, whose souls had been
vexed with the passions of many watering-places, walked down Leyden
Street (the first that was laid out), saw the site of the first house,
and turned round Carver Street, walking lingeringly, so as not to break
the spell, out upon the hill-Cole's Hill--where the dead during the first
fearful winter were buried.  This has been converted into a beautiful
esplanade, grassed and graveled and furnished with seats, and overlooks
the old wharves, some coal schooners, and shabby buildings, on one of
which is a sign informing the reckless that they can obtain there clam-
chowder and ice-cream, and the ugly, heavy granite canopy erected over
the "Rock."  No reverent person can see this rock for the first time
without a thrill of excitement.  It has the date of 1620 cut in it, and
it is a good deal cracked and patched up, as if it had been much landed
on, but there it is, and there it will remain a witness to a great
historic event, unless somebody takes a notion to cart it off uptown
again.  It is said to rest on another rock, of which it formed a part
before its unfortunate journey, and that lower rock as everybody knows,
rests upon the immutable principle of self-government.  The stone lies
too far from the water to enable anybody to land on it now, and it is
protected from vandalism by an iron grating.  The sentiment of the hour
was disturbed by the advent of the members of a baseball nine, who
wondered why the Pilgrims did not land on the wharf, and, while thrusting
their feet through the grating in a commendable desire to touch the
sacred rock, expressed a doubt whether the feet of the Pilgrims were
small enough to slip through the grating and land on the stone.  It seems
that there is nothing safe from the irreverence of American youth.

Has any other coast town besides Plymouth had the good sense and taste to
utilize such an elevation by the water-side as an esplanade?  It is a
most charming feature of the village, and gives it what we call a foreign
air.  It was very lovely in the afterglow and at moonrise.  Staid
citizens with their families occupied the benches, groups were chatting
under the spreading linden-tree at the north entrance, and young maidens
in white muslin promenaded, looking seaward, as was the wont of Puritan
maidens, watching a receding or coming Mayflower.  But there was no loud
talking, no laughter, no outbursts of merriment from the children,
all ready to be transplanted to the Puritan heaven!  It was high tide,
and all the bay was silvery with a tinge of color from the glowing sky.

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