Make your own free website on

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

The long, curved sand-spit-which was heavily wooded when the Pilgrims
landed-was silvery also, and upon its northern tip glowed the white
sparkle in the lighthouse like the evening-star.  To the north, over the
smooth pink water speckled with white sails, rose Captain Hill, in
Duxbury, bearing the monument to Miles Standish.  Clarke's Island (where
the Pilgrims heard a sermon on the first Sunday), Saguish Point, and
Gurnett Headland (showing now twin white lights) appear like a long
island intersected by thin lines of blue water.  The effect of these
ribbons of alternate sand and water, of the lights and the ocean (or
Great Bay) beyond, was exquisite.

Even the unobtrusive tavern at the rear of the esplanade, ancient, feebly
lighted, and inviting, added something to the picturesqueness of the
scene.  The old tree by the gate--an English linden--illuminated by the
street lamps and the moon, had a mysterious appearance, and the tourists
were not surprised to learn that it has a romantic history.  The story is
that the twig or sapling from which it grew was brought over from England
by a lover as a present to his mistress, that the lovers quarreled almost
immediately, that the girl in a pet threw it out of the window when she
sent her lover out of the door, and that another man picked it up and
planted it where it now grows.  The legend provokes a good many
questions.  One would like to know whether this was the first case of
female rebellion in Massachusetts against the common-law right of a man
to correct a woman with a stick not thicker than his little finger--
a rebellion which has resulted in the position of man as the tourists saw
him where the New Hampshire Amazon gave them a meal of victuals; and
whether the girl married the man who planted the twig, and, if so,
whether he did not regret that he had not kept it by him.

This is a world of illusions.  By daylight, when the tide was out,
the pretty silver bay of the night before was a mud flat, and the
tourists, looking over it from Monument Hill, lost some of their respect
for the Pilgrim sagacity in selecting a landing-place.  They had ascended
the hill for a nearer view of the monument, King with a reverent wish to
read the name of his Mayflower ancestor on the tablet, the others in a
spirit of cold, New York criticism, for they thought the structure,
which is still unfinished, would look uglier near at hand than at a
distance.  And it does.  It is a pile of granite masonry surmounted by
symbolic figures.

"It is such an unsympathetic, tasteless-looking thing!" said Miss Lamont.

"Do you think it is the worst in the country?"

"I wouldn't like to say that," replied the artist, "when the competition
in this direction is so lively.  But just look at the drawing" (holding
up his pencil with which he had intended to sketch it).  "If it were
quaint, now, or rude, or archaic, it might be in keeping, but bad drawing
is just vulgar.  I should think it had been designed by a carpenter, and
executed by a stone-mason."

"Yes," said the little Lamont, who always fell in with the most
abominable opinions the artist expressed; "it ought to have been made
of wood, and painted and sanded."

"You will please remember," mildly suggested King, who had found the name
he was in search of, "that you are trampling on my ancestral
sensibilities, as might be expected of those who have no ancestors who
ever landed or ever were buried anywhere in particular.  I look at the
commemorative spirit rather than the execution of the monument."

"So do I," retorted the girl; "and if the Pilgrims landed in such a
vulgar, ostentatious spirit as this, I'm glad my name is not on the

The party were in a better mood when they had climbed up Burial Hill,
back of the meeting-house, and sat down on one of the convenient benches
amid the ancient gravestones, and looked upon the wide and magnificent
prospect.  A soft summer wind waved a little the long gray grass of the
ancient resting-place, and seemed to whisper peace to the weary
generation that lay there.  What struggles, what heroisms, the names on
the stones recalled!  Here had stood the first fort of 1620, and here the
watchtower of 1642, from the top of which the warder espied the lurking
savage, or hailed the expected ship from England.  How much of history
this view recalled, and what pathos of human life these graves made real.
Read the names of those buried a couple of centuries ago--captains,
elders, ministers, governors, wives well beloved, children a span long,
maidens in the blush of womanhood--half the tender inscriptions are
illegible; the stones are broken, sunk, slanting to fall.  What a pitiful
attempt to keep the world mindful of the departed!



Mr. Stanhope King was not in very good spirits.  Even Boston did not make
him cheerful.  He was half annoyed to see the artist and Miss Lamont
drifting along in such laughing good-humor with the world, as if a summer
holiday was just a holiday without any consequences or responsibilities.
It was to him a serious affair ever since that unsatisfactory note from
Miss Benson; somehow the summer had lost its sparkle.  And yet was it not
preposterous that a girl, just a single girl, should have the power to
change for a man the aspect of a whole coast-by her presence to make it
iridescent with beauty, and by her absence to take all the life out of
it?  And a simple girl from Ohio!  She was not by any means the prettiest
girl in the Newport Casino that morning, but it was her figure that he
remembered, and it was the look of hurt sensibility in her eyes that
stayed with him.  He resented the attitude of the Casino towards her,
and he hated himself for his share in it.  He would write to her.....
He composed letter after letter in his mind, which he did not put on
paper.  How many millions of letters are composed in this way!  It is a
favorite occupation of imaginative people; and as they say that no
thoughts or mental impressions are ever lost, but are all registered--
made, as it were, on a "dry-plate," to be developed hereafter--what a
vast correspondence must be lying in the next world, in the Dead-letter
Office there, waiting for the persons to whom it is addressed, who will
all receive it and read it some day!  How unpleasant and absurd it will
be to read, much of it!  I intend to be careful, for my part, about
composing letters of this sort hereafter.  Irene, I dare say, will find a
great many of them from Mr. King, thought out in those days.  But he
mailed none of them to her.  What should he say?  Should he tell her that
he didn't mind if her parents were what Mrs. Bartlett Glow called
"impossible"?  If he attempted any explanation, would it not involve the
offensive supposition that his social rank was different from hers?
Even if he convinced her that he recognized no caste in American society,
what could remove from her mind the somewhat morbid impression that her
education had put her in a false position?  His love probably could not
shield her from mortification in a society which, though indefinable in
its limits and code, is an entity more vividly felt than the government
of the United States.

"Don't you think the whole social atmosphere has changed," Miss Lamont
suddenly asked, as they were running along in the train towards
Manchester-by-the-Sea, "since we got north of Boston?  I seem to find it
so.  Don't you think it's more refined, and, don't you know, sort of
cultivated, and subdued, and Boston?  You notice the gentlemen who get
out at all these stations, to go to their country-houses, how highly
civilized they look, and ineffably respectable and intellectual, all of
them presidents of colleges, and substantial bank directors, and possible
ambassadors, and of a social cult (isn't that the word?) uniting brains
and gentle manners."

"You must have been reading the Boston newspapers; you have hit the idea
prevalent in these parts, at any rate.  I was, however, reminded myself
of an afternoon train out of London, say into Surrey, on which you are
apt to encounter about as high a type of civilized men as anywhere."

"And you think this is different from a train out of New York?" asked the

"Yes.  New York is more mixed.  No one train has this kind of tone.
You see there more of the broker type and politician type, smarter
apparel and nervous manners, but, dear me, not this high moral and
intellectual respectability."

"Well," said the artist, "I'm changing my mind about this country.
I didn't expect so much variety.  I thought that all the watering-places
would be pretty much alike, and that we should see the same people
everywhere.  But the people are quite as varied as the scenery."

"There you touch a deep question--the refining or the vulgarizing
influence of man upon nature, and the opposite.  Now, did the summer
Bostonians make this coast refined, or did this coast refine the
Bostonians who summer here?"

"Well, this is primarily an artistic coast; I feel the influence of it;
there is a refined beauty in all the lines, and residents have not
vulgarized it much.  But I wonder what Boston could have done for the
Jersey coast?"

In the midst of this high and useless conversation they came to the
Masconomo House, a sort of concession, in this region of noble villas and
private parks, to the popular desire to get to the sea.  It is a long,
low house, with very broad passages below and above, which give lightness
and cheerfulness to the interior, and each of the four corners of the
entrance hall has a fireplace.  The pillars of the front and back piazzas
are pine stems stained, with the natural branches cut in unequal lengths,
and look like the stumps for the bears to climb in the pit at Berne.
Set up originally with the bark on, the worms worked underneath it in
secret, at a novel sort of decoration, until the bark came off and
exposed the stems most beautifully vermiculated, giving the effect of
fine carving.  Back of the house a meadow slopes down to a little beach
in a curved bay that has rocky headlands, and is defended in part by

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: