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

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           IRENE

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
being agreeable.

"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

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: