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List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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that anticipation is always better than realization; and when Mr. Forbes
went on to say that climbing a mountain was a good deal like marriage--
the world was likely to look a little flat once that cerulean height was
attained--Mr. King only remarked that that was a low view to take of the
subject, but he would confess that it was unreasonable to expect that any
rational object could fulfill, or even approach, the promise held out by
such an exquisite prospect as that before them.

The friends were standing where the Catskill hills lay before them in
echelon towards the river, the ridges lapping over each other and
receding in the distance, a gradation of lines most artistically drawn,
still further refined by shades of violet, which always have the effect
upon the contemplative mind of either religious exaltation or the
kindling of a sentiment which is in the young akin to the emotion of
love.  While the artist was making some memoranda of these outlines, and
Mr. King was drawing I know not what auguries of hope from these purple
heights, a young lady seated upon a rock near by--a young lady just
stepping over the border-line of womanhood--had her eyes also fixed upon
those dreamy distances, with that look we all know so well, betraying
that shy expectancy of life which is unconfessed, that tendency to
maidenly reverie which it were cruel to interpret literally.  At the
moment she is more interesting than the Catskills--the brown hair, the
large eyes unconscious of anything but the most natural emotion, the
shapely waist just beginning to respond to the call of the future--it is
a pity that we shall never see her again, and that she has nothing
whatever to do with our journey.  She also will have her romance; fate
will meet her in the way some day, and set her pure heart wildly beating,
and she will know what those purple distances mean.  Happiness, tragedy,
anguish--who can tell what is in store for her?  I cannot but feel
profound sadness at meeting her in this casual way and never seeing her
again.  Who says that the world is not full of romance and pathos and
regret as we go our daily way in it?  You meet her at a railway station;
there is the flutter of a veil, the gleam of a scarlet bird, the lifting
of a pair of eyes--she is gone; she is entering a drawing-room, and stops
a moment and turns away; she is looking from a window as you pass--it is
only a glance out of eternity; she stands for a second upon a rock
looking seaward; she passes you at the church door--is that all?  It is
discovered that instantaneous photographs can be taken.  They are taken
all the time; some of them are never developed, but I suppose these
impressions are all there on the sensitive plate, and that the plate is
permanently affected by the impressions.  The pity of it is that the
world is so full of these undeveloped knowledges of people worth knowing
and friendships worth making.

The comfort of leaving same things to the imagination was impressed upon
our travelers when they left the narrow-gauge railway at the mountain
station, and identified themselves with other tourists by entering a two-
horse wagon to be dragged wearily up the hill through the woods.
The ascent would be more tolerable if any vistas were cut in the forest
to give views by the way; as it was, the monotony of the pull upward was
only relieved by the society of the passengers.  There were two bright
little girls off for a holiday with their Western uncle, a big, good-
natured man with a diamond breast-pin, and his voluble son, a lad about
the age of his little cousins, whom he constantly pestered by his rude
and dominating behavior.  The boy was a product which it is the despair
of all Europe to produce, and our travelers had great delight in him as
an epitome of American "smartness."  He led all the conversation, had
confident opinions about everything, easily put down his deferential
papa, and pleased the other passengers by his self-sufficient, know-it-
all air.  To a boy who had traveled in California and seen the Alps it
was not to be expected that this humble mountain could afford much
entertainment, and he did not attempt to conceal his contempt for it.
When the stage reached the Rip Van Winkle House, half-way, the shy
schoolgirls were for indulging a little sentiment over the old legend,
but the boy, who concealed his ignorance of the Irving romance until his
cousins had prattled the outlines of it, was not to be taken in by any
such chaff, and though he was a little staggered by Rip's own cottage,
and by the sight of the cave above it which is labeled as the very spot
where the vagabond took his long nap, he attempted to bully the attendant
and drink-mixer in the hut, and openly flaunted his incredulity until the
bar-tender showed him a long bunch of Rip's hair, which hung like a scalp
on a nail, and the rusty barrel and stock of the musket.  The cabin is,
indeed, full of old guns, pistols, locks of hair, buttons, cartridge-
boxes, bullets, knives, and other undoubted relics of Rip and the
Revolution.  This cabin, with its facilities for slaking thirst on a hot
day, which Rip would have appreciated, over a hundred years old according
to information to be obtained on the spot, is really of unknown
antiquity, the old boards and timber of which it is constructed having
been brought down from the Mountain House some forty years ago.

The old Mountain House, standing upon its ledge of rock, from which one
looks down upon a map of a considerable portion of New York and New
England, with the lake in the rear, and heights on each side that offer
charming walks to those who have in contemplation views of nature or of
matrimony, has somewhat lost its importance since the vast Catskill
region has come to the knowledge of the world.  A generation ago it was
the centre of attraction, and it was understood that going to the
Catskills was going there.  Generations of searchers after immortality
have chiseled their names in the rock platform, and one who sits there
now falls to musing on the vanity of human nature and the transitoriness
of fashion.  Now New York has found that it has very convenient to it a
great mountain pleasure-ground; railways and excellent roads have pierced
it, the varied beauties of rocks, ravines, and charming retreats are
revealed, excellent hotels capable of entertaining a thousand guests are
planted on heights and slopes commanding mountain as well as lowland
prospects, great and small boarding-houses cluster in the high valleys
and on the hillsides, and cottages more thickly every year dot the wild
region.  Year by year these accommodations will increase, new roads
around the gorges will open more enchanting views, and it is not
improbable that the species of American known as the "summer boarder"
will have his highest development and apotheosis in these mountains.

Nevertheless Mr. King was not uninterested in renewing his memories of
the old house.  He could recall without difficulty, and also without
emotion now, a scene on this upper veranda and a moonlight night long
ago, and he had no doubt he could find her name carved on a beech-tree in
the wood near by; but it was useless to look for it, for her name had
been changed.  The place was, indeed, full of memories, but all chastened
and subdued by the indoor atmosphere, which impressed him as that of a
faded Sunday.  He was very careful not to disturb the decorum by any
frivolity of demeanor, and he cautioned the artist on this point; but Mr.
Forbes declared that the dining-room fare kept his spirits at a proper
level.  There was an old-time satisfaction in wandering into the parlor,
and resting on the haircloth sofa, and looking at the hair-cloth chairs,
and pensively imagining a meeting there, with songs out of the Moody and
Sankey book; and he did not tire of dropping into the reposeful
reception-room, where he never by any chance met anybody, and sitting
with the melodeon and big Bible Society edition of the Scriptures, and a
chance copy of the Christian at Play.  These amusements were varied by
sympathetic listening to the complaints of the proprietor about the
vandalism of visitors who wrote with diamonds on the window-panes, so
that the glass had to be renewed, or scratched their names on the pillars
of the piazza, so that the whole front had to be repainted, or broke off
the azalea blossoms, or in other ways desecrated the premises.  In order
to fit himself for a sojourn here, Mr. King tried to commit to memory a
placard that was neatly framed and hung on the veranda, wherein it was
stated that the owner cheerfully submits to all necessary use of the
premises, "but will not permit any unnecessary use, or the exercise of a
depraved taste or vandalism."  There were not as yet many guests, and
those who were there seemed to have conned this placard to their
improvement, for there was not much exercise of any sort of taste.
Of course there were two or three brides, and there was the inevitable
English nice middle-class tourist with his wife, the latter ram-roddy and
uncompromising, in big boots and botanical, who, in response to a
gentleman who was giving her information about travel, constantly
ejaculated, in broad English, "Yas, yas; ow, ow, ow, really!"

And there was the young bride from Kankazoo, who frightened Mr. King back
into his chamber one morning when he opened his door and beheld the
vision of a woman going towards the breakfast-room in what he took to be
a robe de nuit, but which turned out to be one of the "Mother-Hubbards"
which have had a certain celebrity as street dresses in some parts of the
West.  But these gayeties palled after a time, and one afternoon our
travelers, with their vandalism all subdued, walked a mile over the rocks
to the Kaaterskill House, and took up their abode there to watch the
opening of the season.  Naturally they expected some difficulty in
transferring their two trunks round by the road, where there had been
nothing but a wilderness forty years ago; but their change of base was
facilitated by the obliging hotelkeeper in the most friendly manner,

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