List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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the cheap sort.  At the end of this row of hotels is a fine granite
Casino, spacious, solid, with wide verandas, and a tennis-court--such a
building as even Newport might envy.  Then come more hotels, a cluster of
cheap shops, and a long line of bath-houses facing a lovely curving
beach.  Bathing is the fashion at the Pier, and everybody goes to the
beach at noon.  The spectators occupy chairs on the platform in front of
the bath-houses, or sit under tents erected on the smooth sand.  At high
noon the scene is very lively, and even picturesque, for the ladies here
dress for bathing with an intention of pleasing.  It is generally
supposed that the angels in heaven are not edified by this promiscuous
bathing, and by the spectacle of a crowd of women tossing about in the
surf, but an impartial angel would admit that many of the costumes here
are becoming, and that the effect of the red and yellow caps, making a
color line in the flashing rollers, is charming.  It is true that there
are odd figures in the shifting melee--one solitary old gentleman, who
had contrived to get his bathing-suit on hind-side before, wandered along
the ocean margin like a lost Ulysses; and that fat woman and fat man were
never intended for this sort of exhibition; but taken altogether, with
its colors, and the silver flash of the breaking waves, the scene was
exceedingly pretty.  Not the least pretty part of it was the fringe of
children tumbling on the beach, following the retreating waves, and
flying from the incoming rollers with screams of delight.  Children,
indeed, are a characteristic of Narragansett Pier--children and mothers.
It might be said to be a family place; it is a good deal so on Sundays,
and occasionally when the "business men" come down from the cities to see
how their wives and children get on at the hotels.

After the bathing it is the fashion to meet again at the Casino and take
lunch--sometimes through a straw--and after dinner everybody goes for a
stroll on the cliffs.  This is a noble sea-promenade; with its handsome
villas and magnificent rocks, a fair rival to Newport.  The walk,
as usually taken, is two or three miles along the bold, rocky shore, but
an ambitious pedestrian may continue it to the light on Point Judith.
Nowhere on this coast are the rocks more imposing, and nowhere do they
offer so many studies in color.  The visitor's curiosity is excited by a
massive granite tower which rises out of a mass of tangled woods planted
on the crest of the hill, and his curiosity is not satisfied on nearer
inspection, when he makes his way into this thick and gloomy forest, and
finds a granite cottage near the tower, and the signs of neglect and
wildness that might mark the home of a recluse.  What is the object of
this noble tower?  If it was intended to adorn the landscape, why was it
ruined by piercing it irregularly with square windows like those of a

One has to hold himself back from being drawn into the history and
romance of this Narragansett shore.  Down below the bathing beach is the
pretentious wooden pile called Canonchet, that already wears the air of
tragedy.  And here, at this end, is the mysterious tower, and an ugly
unfinished dwelling-house of granite, with the legend "Druid's Dream"
carved over the entrance door; and farther inland, in a sandy and shrubby
landscape, is Kendall Green, a private cemetery, with its granite
monument, surrounded by heavy granite posts, every other one of which is
hollowed in the top as a receptacle for food for birds.  And one reads
there these inscriptions: "Whatever their mode of faith, or creed, who
feed the wandering birds, will themselves be fed."  "Who helps the
helpless, Heaven will help."  This inland region, now apparently deserted
and neglected, was once the seat of colonial aristocracy, who exercised a
princely hospitality on their great plantations, exchanged visits and ran
horses with the planters of Virginia and the Carolinas, and were known as
far as Kentucky, and perhaps best known for their breed of Narragansett
pacers.  But let us get back to the shore.

In wandering along the cliff path in the afternoon, Irene and Mr. King
were separated from the others, and unconsciously extended their stroll,
looking for a comfortable seat in the rocks.  The day was perfect.
The sky had only a few fleecy, high-sailing clouds, and the great expanse
of sea sparkled under the hectoring of a light breeze.  The atmosphere
was not too clear on the horizon for dreamy effects; all the headlands
were softened and tinged with opalescent colors.  As the light struck
them, the sails which enlivened the scene were either dark spots or
shining silver sheets on the delicate blue.  At one spot on this shore
rises a vast mass of detached rock, separated at low tide from the shore
by irregular bowlders and a tiny thread of water.  In search of a seat
the two strollers made their way across this rivulet over the broken
rocks, passed over the summit of the giant mass, and established
themselves in a cavernous place close to the sea.  Here was a natural
seat, and the bulk of the seamed and colored ledge, rising above their
heads and curving around them, shut them out of sight of the land, and
left them alone with the dashing sea, and the gulls that circled and
dipped their silver wings in their eager pursuit of prey.  For a time
neither spoke.  Irene was looking seaward, and Mr. King, who had a lower
seat, attentively watched the waves lapping the rocks at their feet, and
the fine profile and trim figure of the girl against the sky.  He thought
he had never seen her looking more lovely, and yet he had a sense that
she never was so remote from him.  Here was an opportunity, to be sure,
if he had anything to say, but some fine feeling of propriety restrained
him from taking advantage of it.  It might not be quite fair, in a place
so secluded and remote, and with such sentimental influences, shut in as
they were to the sea and the sky.

"It seems like a world by itself," she began, as in continuation of her
thought.  "They say you can see Gay Head Light from here."

"Yes.  And Newport to the left there, with its towers and trees rising
out of the sea.  It is quite like the Venice Lagoon in this light."

"I think I like Newport better at this distance.  It is very poetical.
I don't think I like what is called the world much, when I am close to

The remark seemed to ask for sympathy, and Mr. King ventured: "Are you
willing to tell me, Miss Benson, why you have not seemed as happy at
Newport as elsewhere?  Pardon me; it is not an idle question."  Irene,
who seemed to be looking away beyond Gay Head, did not reply.  "I should
like to know if I have been in any way the cause of it.  We agreed to be
friends, and I think I have a friend's right to know."  Still no
response.  "You must see--you must know," he went on, hurriedly, "that it
cannot be a matter of indifference to me."

"It had better be," she said, as if speaking deliberately to herself, and
still looking away.  But suddenly she turned towards him, and the tears
sprang to her eyes, and the words rushed out fiercely, "I wish I had
never left Cyrusville.  I wish I had never been abroad.  I wish I had
never been educated.  It is all a wretched mistake."

King was unprepared for such a passionate outburst.  It was like a rift
in a cloud, through which he had a glimpse of her real life.  Words of
eager protest sprang to his lips, but, before they could be uttered,
either her mood had changed or pride had come to the rescue, for she
said: "How silly I am!  Everybody has discontented days.  Mr. King,
please don't ask me such questions.  If you want to be a friend, you will
let me be unhappy now and then, and not say anything about it."

"But, Miss Benson--Irene--"

"There--'Miss Benson' will do very well."

"Well, Miss--Irene, then, there was something I wanted to say to you the
other day in Paradise--"

"Look, Mr. King.  Did you see that wave?  I'm sure it is nearer our feet
than when we sat down here."

"Oh, that's just an extra lift by the wind.  I want to tell you.  I must
tell you that life--has all changed since I met you--Irene, I--"

"There!  There's no mistake-about that.  The last wave came a foot higher
than the other!"

King sprang up.  "Perhaps it is the tide.  I'll go and see."  He ran up
the rock, leaped across the fissures, and looked over on the side they
had ascended.  Sure enough, the tide was coming in.  The stones on which
they had stepped were covered, and a deep stream of water, rising with
every pulsation of the sea, now, where there was only a rivulet before.
He hastened back.  "There is not a moment to lose.  We are caught by the
tide, and if we are not off in five minutes we shall be prisoners here
till the turn."

He helped her up the slope and over the chasm.  The way was very plain
when they came on, but now he could not find it.  At the end of every
attempt was a precipice.  And the water was rising.  A little girl on the
shore shouted to them to follow along a ledge she pointed out, then
descend between two bowlders to the ford.  Precious minutes were lost in
accomplishing this circuitous descent, and then they found the stepping-
stones under water, and the sea-weed swishing about the slippery rocks
with the incoming tide.  It was a ridiculous position for lovers, or even
"friends"--ridiculous because it had no element of danger except the
ignominy of getting wet.  If there was any heroism in seizing Irene
before she could protest, stumbling with his burden among the slimy
rocks, and depositing her, with only wet shoes, on the shore, Mr. King
shared it, and gained the title of "Life-preserver."  The adventure ended
with a laugh.

The day after the discovery and exploration of Narragansett, Mr. King
spent the morning with his cousin at the Casino.  It was so pleasant that
he wondered he had not gone there oftener, and that so few people
frequented it.  Was it that the cottagers were too strong for the Casino
also, which was built for the recreation of the cottagers, and that they

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