List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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not much smart and fantastic architecture to interfere with it.  I cannot
say whether the knowledge that Irene was in one of the cottages affected
King's judgment, but that morning, when he strolled to the upper part of
the grounds before breakfast, he thought he had never beheld a scene of
more beauty and dignity, as he looked over the mass of hotel buildings,
upon the park set with a wonderful variety of dark green foliage, upon
the elevated rows of galleried cottages marked by colonial simplicity,
and the soft contour of the hills, which satisfy the eye in their
delicate blending -of every shade of green and brown.  And after an
acquaintance of a couple of weeks the place seemed to him ravishingly

King was always raving about the White Sulphur after he came North, and
one never could tell how much his judgment was colored by his peculiar
experiences there.  It was my impression that if he had spent those two
weeks on a barren rock in the ocean, with only one fair spirit for his
minister, he would have sworn that it was the most lovely spot on the
face of the earth.  He always declared that it was the most friendly,
cordial society at this resort in the country.  At breakfast he knew
scarcely any one in the vast dining-room, except the New Orleans and
Richmond friends with whom he had a seat at table.  But their
acquaintance sufficed to establish his position.  Before dinner-time he
knew half a hundred; in the evening his introductions had run up into the
hundreds, and he felt that he had potential friends in every Southern
city; and before the week was over there was not one of the thousand
guests he did not know or might not know.  At his table he heard Irene
spoken of and her beauty commented on.  Two or three days had been enough
to give her a reputation in a society that is exceedingly sensitive to
beauty.  The men were all ready to do her homage, and the women took her
into favor as soon as they saw that Mr. Meigs, whose social position was
perfectly well known, was of her party.  The society of the White Sulphur
seems perfectly easy of access, but the ineligible will find that it is
able, like that of Washington, to protect itself.  It was not without a
little shock that King heard the good points, the style, the physical
perfections, of Irene so fully commented on, and not without some alarm
that he heard predicted for her a very successful career as a belle.

Coming out from breakfast, the Benson party were encountered on the
gallery, and introductions followed.  It was a trying five minutes for
King, who felt as guilty, as if the White Sulphur were private property
into which he had intruded without an invitation.  There was in the
civility of Mr. Meigs no sign of an invitation.  Mrs. Benson said she was
never so surprised in her life, and the surprise seemed not exactly an
agreeable one, but Mr. Benson looked a great deal more pleased than
astonished.  The slight flush in Irene's face as she greeted him might
have been wholly due to the unexpectedness of the meeting.  Some of the
gentlemen lounged off to the office region for politics and cigars, the
elderly ladies took seats upon the gallery, and the rest of the party
strolled down to the benches under the trees.

"So Miss Benson was expecting you!" said Mrs. Farquhar, who was walking
with King.  It is enough to mention Mrs. Farquhar's name to an habitue of
the Springs.  It is not so many years ago since she was a reigning belle,
and as noted for her wit and sparkling raillery as for her beauty.  She
was still a very handsome woman, whose original cleverness had been
cultivated by a considerable experience of social life in this country as
well as in London and Paris.

"Was she?  I'm sure I never told her I was coming here."

"No, simple man.  You were with her at Bar Harbor, and I suppose she
never mentioned to you that she was coming here?"

"But why did you think she expected me?"

"You men are too aggravatingly stupid.  I never saw astonishment better
feigned.  I dare say it imposed upon that other admirer of hers also.
Well, I like her, and I'm going to be good to her."  This meant a good
deal.  Mrs. Farquhar was related to everybody in Virginia--that is,
everybody who was anybody before the war--and she could count at that
moment seventy-five cousins, some of them first and some of them double-
first cousins, at the White Sulphur.  Mrs. Farquhar's remark meant that
all these cousins and all their friends the South over would stand by
Miss Benson socially from that moment.

The morning german had just begun in the ballroom.  The gallery was
thronged with spectators, clustering like bees about the large windows,
and the notes of the band came floating out over the lawn, bringing to
the groups there the lulling impression that life is all a summer

"And they say she is from Ohio.  It is right odd, isn't it? but two or
three of the prettiest women here are from that State.  There is Mrs.
Martin, sweet as a jacqueminot.  I'd introduce you if her husband were
here.  Ohio!  Well, we get used to it.  I should have known the father
and mother were corn-fed.  I suppose you prefer the corn-feds to the
Confeds.  But there's homespun and homespun.  You see those under the
trees yonder?  Georgia homespun!  Perhaps you don't see the difference.
I do."

"I suppose you mean provincial."

"Oh, dear, no.  I'm provincial.  It is the most difficult thing to be in
these leveling days.  But I am not going to interest you in myself.  I am
too unselfish.  Your Miss Benson is a fine girl, and it does not matter
about her parents.  Since you Yankees upset everything by the war, it is
really of no importance who one's mother is.  But, mind, this is not my
opinion.  I'm trying to adjust myself.  You have no idea how
reconstructed I am."

And with this Mrs. Farquhar went over to Miss Benson, and chatted for a
few moments, making herself particularly agreeable to Mr. Meigs, and
actually carried that gentleman off to the spring, and then as an escort
to her cottage, shaking her fan as she went away at Mr. King and Irene,
and saying, "It is a waste of time for you youngsters not to be in the

The german was just ended, and the participants were grouping themselves
on the gallery to be photographed, the usual custom for perpetuating the
memory of these exercises, which only take place every other morning.
And since something must be done, as there are only six nights for
dancing in the week, on the off mornings there are champagne and fruit
parties on the lawn.

It was not about the german, however, that King was thinking.  He was
once more beside the woman he loved, and all the influences of summer and
the very spirit of this resort were in his favor.  If I cannot win her
here, he was saying to himself, the Meigs is in it.  They talked about
the journey, about Luray, where she had been, and about the Bridge, and
the abnormal gayety of the Springs.

"The people are all so friendly," she said, "and strive so much to put
the stranger at his ease, and putting themselves out lest time hang heavy
on one's hands.  They seem somehow responsible."

"Yes," said King, "the place is unique in that respect.  I suppose it is
partly owing to the concentration of the company in and around the

"But the sole object appears to me to be agreeable, and make a real
social life.  At other like places nobody seems to care what becomes of
anybody else."

"Doubtless the cordiality and good feeling are spontaneous, though
something is due to manner, and a habit of expressing the feeling that
arises.  Still, I do not expect to find any watering-place a paradise.
This must be vastly different from any other if it is not full of cliques
and gossip and envy underneath.  But we do not go to a summer resort to
philosophize.  A market is a market, you know."

"I don't know anything about markets, and this cordiality may all be on
the surface, but it makes life very agreeable, and I wish our Northerners
would catch the Southern habit of showing sympathy where it exists."

"Well, I'm free to say that I like the place, and all its easy-going
ways, and I have to thank you for a new experience."

"Me?  Why so?"

"Oh, I wouldn't have come if it had not been for your suggestion--I mean
for your--your saying that you were coming here reminded me that it was a
place I ought to see."

"I'm glad to have served you as a guide-book."

"And I hope you are not sorry that I--"

At this moment Mrs. Benson and Mr. Meigs came down with the announcement
of the dinner hour, and the latter marched off with the ladies with a
"one-of-the-family" air.

The party did not meet again till evening in the great drawing-room.
The business at the White Sulphur is pleasure.  And this is about the
order of proceedings: A few conscientious people take an early glass at
the spring, and later patronize the baths, and there is a crowd at the
post-office; a late breakfast; lounging and gossip on the galleries and
in the parlor; politics and old-fogy talk in the reading-room and in the
piazza corners; flirtation on the lawn; a german every other morning at
eleven; wine-parties under the trees; morning calls at the cottages;
servants running hither and thither with cooling drinks; the bar-room not
absolutely deserted and cheerless at any hour, day or night; dinner from
two to four; occasionally a riding-party; some driving; though there were
charming drives in every direction, few private carriages, and no display
of turn-outs; strolls in Lovers' Walk and in the pretty hill paths;
supper at eight, and then the full-dress assembly in the drawing-room,
and a "walk around" while the children have their hour in the ballroom;
the nightly dance, witnessed by a crowd on the veranda, followed
frequently by a private german and a supper given by some lover of his
kind, lasting till all hours in the morning; and while the majority of
the vast encampment reposes in slumber, some resolute spirits are
fighting the tiger, and a light gleaming from one cottage and another
shows where devotees of science are backing their opinion of the relative

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