List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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Simpkins were to go as chaperons, and Mr. Meigs had been invited by Mrs.
Cortlandt, King learned to his disgust, also to act as a chaperon.  All
the proprieties are observed at Bar Harbor.  Half a dozen long buckboards
were loaded with their merry freight.  At the last Mrs. Pendragon pleaded
a headache, and could not go.  Mr. King was wandering about among the
buckboards to find an eligible seat.  He was not put in good humor by
finding that Mr. Meigs had ensconced himself beside Irene, and he was
about crowding in with the Ashley girls--not a bad fate--when word was
passed down the line from Mrs. Cortlandt, who was the autocrat of the
expedition, that Mr. Meigs was to come back and take a seat with Mrs.
Simpkins in the buckboard with the watermelons.  She could not walk
around the "carry"; she must go by the direct road, and of course she
couldn't go alone.  There was no help for it, and Mr. Meigs, looking as
cheerful as an undertaker in a healthy season, got down from his seat and
trudged back.  Thus two chaperons were disposed of at a stroke, and the
young men all said that they hated to assume so much responsibility.
Mr. King didn't need prompting in this emergency; the wagons were already
moving, and before Irene knew exactly what had happened, Mr. King was
begging her pardon for the change, and seating himself beside her.  And
he was thinking, "What a confoundedly clever woman Mrs. Cortlandt is!"

There is an informality about a buckboard that communicates itself at
once to conduct.  The exhilaration of the long spring-board, the
necessity of holding on to something or somebody to prevent being tossed
overboard, put occupants in a larkish mood that they might never attain
in an ordinary vehicle.  All this was favorable to King, and it relieved
Irene from an embarrassment she might have felt in meeting him under
ordinary circumstances.  And King had the tact to treat himself and their
meeting merely as accidents.

"The American youth seem to have invented a novel way of disposing of
chaperons," he said.  "To send them in one direction and the party
chaperoned in another is certainly original."

"I'm not sure the chaperons like it.  And I doubt if it is proper to pack
them off by themselves, especially when one is a widow and the other is a

"It's a case of chaperon eat chaperon.  I hope your friend didn't mind
it.  I had nearly despaired of finding a seat."

"Mr. Meigs?  He did not say he liked it, but he is the most obliging of

"I suppose you have pretty well seen the island?"

"We have driven about a good deal.  We have seen Southwest Harbor, and
Somes's Sound and Schooner Head, and the Ovens and Otter Cliffs--there's
no end of things to see; it needs a month.  I suppose you have been up
Green Mountain?"

"No.  I sent Mr. Forbes."

"You ought to go.  It saves buying a map.  Yes, I like the place
immensely.  You mustn't judge of the variety here by the table at
Rodick's.  I don't suppose there's a place on the coast that compares
with it in interest; I mean variety of effects and natural beauty.
If the writers wouldn't exaggerate so, talk about 'the sublimity of the
mountains challenging the eternal grandeur of the sea'!"

"Don't use such strong language there on the back seat," cried Miss
Lamont.  "This is a pleasure party.  Mr. Van Dusen wants to know why Maud
S. is like a salamander?"

"He is not to be gratified, Marion.  If it is conundrums, I shall get out
and walk."

Before the conundrum was guessed, the volatile Van Dusen broke out into,
"Here's a how d'e do!  "One of the Ashley girls in the next wagon caught
up the word with, "Here's a state of things!" and the two buckboards went
rattling down the hill to Eagle Lake in a "Mikado" chorus.

"The Mikado troupe seems to have got over here in advance of Sullivan,"
said Mr. King to Irene.  "I happened to see the first representation."

"Oh, half these people were in London last spring.  They give you the
impression that they just run over to the States occasionally.  Mr. Van
Dusen says he keeps his apartments in whatever street it is off
Piccadilly, it's so much more convenient."

On the steamer crossing the lake, King hoped for an opportunity to make
an explanation to Irene.  But when the opportunity came he found it very
difficult to tell what it was he wanted to explain, and so blundered on
in commonplaces.

"You like Bar Harbor so well," he said, " that I suppose your father will
be buying a cottage here?"

"Hardly.  Mr. Meigs" (King thought there was too much Meigs in the
conversation) "said that he had once thought of doing so, but he likes
the place too well for that.  He prefers to come here voluntarily.  The
trouble about owning a cottage at a watering-place is that it makes a
duty of a pleasure.  You can always rent, father says.  He has noticed
that usually when a person gets comfortably established in a summer
cottage he wants to rent it."

"And you like it better than Newport?"

"On some accounts--the air, you know, and--"

"I want to tell you," he said breaking in most illogically--" I want to
tell you, Miss Benson, that it was all a wretched mistake at Newport that
morning.  I don't suppose you care, but I'm afraid you are not quite just
to me."

"I don't think I was unjust."  The girl's voice was low, and she spoke
slowly.  "You couldn't help it.  We can't any of us help it.  We cannot
make the world over, you know."  And she looked up at him with a faint
little smile.

"But you didn't understand.  I didn't care for any of those people.  It
was just an accident.  Won't you believe me?  I do not ask much.  But I
cannot have you think I'm a coward."

"I never did, Mr. King.  Perhaps you do not see what society is as I do.
People think they can face it when they cannot.  I can't say what I mean,
and I think we'd better not talk about it."

The boat was landing; and the party streamed up into the woods, and with
jest and laughter and feigned anxiety about danger and assistance, picked
its way over the rough, stony path.  It was such a scramble as young
ladies enjoy, especially if they are city bred, for it seems to them an
achievement of more magnitude than to the country lasses who see nothing
uncommon or heroic in following a cow-path.  And the young men like it
because it brings out the trusting, dependent, clinging nature of girls.
King wished it had been five miles long instead of a mile and a half.
It gave him an opportunity to show his helpful, considerate spirit.  It
was necessary to take her hand to help her over the bad spots, and either
the bad spots increased as they went on, or Irene was deceived about it.
What makes a path of this sort so perilous to a woman's heart?  Is it
because it is an excuse for doing what she longs to do?  Taking her hand
recalled the day on the rocks at Narragansett, and the nervous clutch of
her little fingers, when the footing failed, sent a delicious thrill
through her lover.  King thought himself quite in love with Forbes--there
was the warmest affection between the two--but when he hauled the artist
up a Catskill cliff there wasn't the least of this sort of a thrill in
the grip of hands.  Perhaps if women had the ballot in their hands all
this nervous fluid would disappear out of the world.

At Jordan Pond boats were waiting.  It is a pretty fresh-water pond
between high sloping hills, and twin peaks at the north end give it even
picturesqueness.  There are a good many trout in it--at least that is the
supposition, for the visitors very seldom get them out.  When the boats
with their chattering passengers had pushed out into the lake and
accomplished a third of the voyage, they were met by a skiff containing
the faithful chaperons Mrs. Simpkins and Mr. Meigs.  They hailed, but
Mr. King, who was rowing his boat, did not slacken speed.  "Are you much
tired, Miss Benson?" shouted Mr. Meigs.  King didn't like this assumption
of protection.  "I've brought you a shawl."

"Hang his paternal impudence!" growled King, under his breath, as he
threw himself back with a jerk on the oars that nearly sent Irene over
the stern of the boat.

Evidently the boat-load, of which the Ashley girls and Mr. Van Dusen were
a part, had taken the sense of this little comedy, for immediately they
struck up:

          "For he is going to marry Yum-Yum--
          For he is going to marry Yum-Yum--

This pleasantry passed entirely over the head of Irene, who had not heard
the "Mikado," but King accepted it as a good omen, and forgave its
impudence.  It set Mr. Meigs thinking that he had a rival.

At the landing, however, Mr. Meigs was on hand to help Irene out, and a
presentation of Mr. King followed.  Mr. Meigs was polite even to
cordiality, and thanked him for taking such good care of her.  Men will
make such blunders sometimes.

"Oh, we are old friends," she said carelessly.

Mr. Meigs tried to mend matters by saying that he had promised Mrs.
Benson, you know, to look after her.  There was that in Irene's manner
that said she was not to be appropriated without leave.  But the
consciousness that her look betrayed this softened her at once towards
Mr. Meigs, and decidedly improved his chances for the evening.  The
philosopher says that women are cruelest when they set out to be kind.

The supper was an 'al fresco' affair, the party being seated about on
rocks and logs and shawls spread upon the grass near the farmer's house.
The scene was a very pretty one, at least the artist thought so, and Miss
Lamont said it was lovely, and the Ashley girls declared it was just
divine.  There was no reason why King should not enjoy the chaff and
merriment and the sunset light which touched the group, except that the
one woman he cared to serve was enveloped in the attentions of Mr. Meigs.
The drive home in the moonlight was the best part of the excursion, or it
would have been if there had not been a general change of seats ordered,
altogether, as Mr. King thought, for the accommodation of the Boston man.

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