List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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miles, and the simple traveler begins to realize what American enterprise
is when it lays itself out for pleasure.  These miles and miles of
cottages, hotels, parks, and camp-meetings are the creation of only a few
years, and probably can scarcely be paralleled elsewhere in the world for
rapidity of growth.  But the strongest impression the traveler has is of
the public spirit of these summer sojourners, speculators, and religious
enthusiasts.  No man lives to himself alone, or builds his cottage for
his selfish gratification.  He makes fantastic carpentry, and paints and
decorates and illuminates and shows fireworks, for the genuine sake of
display.  One marvels that a person should come here for rest and
pleasure in a spirit of such devotion to the public weal, and devote
himself night after night for months to illuminating his house and
lighting up his island, and tearing open the sky with rockets and shaking
the air with powder explosions, in order that the river may be
continually en fete.

At half-past eight the steamer rounded into view of the hotels and
cottages at Alexandria Bay, and the enchanting scene drew all the
passengers to the deck.

The Thousand Islands Hotel, and the Crossman House, where our party found
excellent accommodations, were blazing and sparkling like the spectacular
palaces in an opera scene.  Rows of colored lamps were set thickly along
the shore, and disposed everywhere among the rocks on which the Crossman
House stands; lights glistened from all the islands, from a thousand row-
boats, and in all the windows.  It was very like Venice, seen from the
lagoon, when the Italians make a gala-night.

If Alexandria Bay was less enchanting as a spectacle by daylight, it was
still exceedingly lovely and picturesque; islands and bays and winding
waterways could not be better combined for beauty, and the structures
that taste or ambition has raised on the islands or rocky points are well
enough in keeping with the general holiday aspect.  One of the prettiest
of these cottages is the Bonnicastle of the late Dr. Holland, whose
spirit more or less pervades this region.  It is charmingly situated on a
projecting point of gray rocks veined with color, enlivened by touches of
scarlet bushes and brilliant flowers planted in little spots of soil,
contrasting with the evergreen shrubs.  It commands a varied and
delicious prospect, and has an air of repose and peace.

I am sorry to say that while Forbes and Miss Lamont floated, so to speak,
in all this beauty, like the light-hearted revelers they were, King was
scarcely in a mood to enjoy it.  It seemed to him fictitious and a little
forced.  There was no message for him at the Crossman House.  His
restlessness and absentmindedness could not escape the observation of
Mrs. Farquhar, and as the poor fellow sadly needed a confidante, she was
soon in possession of his story.

"I hate slang," she said, when he had painted the situation black enough
to suit Mrs. Bartlett Glow even, "and I will not give my sex away, but I
know something of feminine doubtings and subterfuges, and I give you my
judgment that Irene is just fretting herself to death, and praying that
you may have the spirit to ride rough-shod over her scruples.  Yes, it is
just as true in this prosaic time as it ever was, that women like to be
carried off by violence.  In their secret hearts, whatever they may say,
they like to see a knight batter down the tower and put all the garrison
except themselves to the sword.  I know that I ought to be on Mrs. Glow's
side.  It is the sensible side, the prudent side; but I do admire
recklessness in love.  Probably you'll be uncomfortable, perhaps unhappy
--you are certain to be if you marry to please society and not yourself--
but better a thousand times one wild rush of real passion, of self-
forgetting love, than an age of stupid, conventional affection approved
by your aunt.  Oh, these calculating young people!"  Mrs. Farquhar's
voice trembled and her eyes flashed.  "I tell you, my friend, life is not
worth living in a conventional stagnation.  You see in society how nature
revenges itself when its instincts are repressed."

Mrs. Farquhar turned away, and King saw that her eyes were full of tears.
She stood a moment looking away over the sparkling water to the soft
islands on the hazy horizon.  Was she thinking of her own marriage?
Death had years ago dissolved it, and were these tears, not those of
mourning, but for the great experience possible in life, so seldom
realized, missed forever?  Before King could frame, in the tumult of his
own thoughts, any reply, she turned towards him again, with her usual
smile, half of badinage and half of tenderness, and said:

"Come, this is enough of tragedy for one day; let us go on the Island
Wanderer, with the other excursionists, among the isles of the blest."

The little steamer had already its load, and presently was under way,
puffing and coughing, on its usual afternoon trip among the islands.
The passengers were silent, and appeared to take the matter seriously
--a sort of linen-duster congregation, of the class who figure in the
homely dialect poems of the Northern bards, Mrs. Farquhar said.  They
were chiefly interested in knowing the names of the successful people who
had built these fantastic dwellings, and who lived on illuminations.
Their curiosity was easily gratified, for in most cases the owners had
painted their names, and sometimes their places of residence, in staring
white letters on conspicuous rocks.  There was also exhibited, for the
benefit of invalids, by means of the same white paint, here and there the
name of a medicine that is a household word in this patent-right
generation.  So the little steamer sailed, comforted by these remedies,
through the strait of Safe Nervine, round the bluff of Safe Tonic, into
the open bay of Safe Liver Cure.  It was a healing voyage, and one in
which enterprise was so allied with beauty that no utilitarian
philosopher could raise a question as to the market value of the latter.

The voyage continued as far as Gananoque, in Canada, where the passengers
went ashore, and wandered about in a disconsolate way to see nothing.
King said, however, that he was more interested in the place than in any
other he had seen, because there was nothing interesting in it; it was
absolutely without character, or a single peculiarity either of Canada or
of the United States.  Indeed, this north shore seemed to all the party
rather bleak even in summertime, and the quality of the sunshine thin.

It was, of course, a delightful sail, abounding in charming views, up
"lost channels," through vistas of gleaming water overdrooped by tender
foliage, and now and then great stretches of sea, and always islands,

"Too many islands too much alike," at length exclaimed Mrs. Farquhar,
"and too many tasteless cottages and temporary camping structures."

The performance is, indeed, better than the prospectus.  For there are
not merely the poetical Thousand Islands; by actual count there are
sixteen hundred and ninety-two.  The artist and Miss Lamont were trying
to sing a fine song they discovered in the Traveler's Guide, inspired
perhaps by that sentimental ditty, "The Isles of Greece, the Isles of
Greece," beginning,

"O Thousand Isles!  O Thousand Isles!"

It seemed to King that a poem might be constructed more in accordance
with the facts and with the scientific spirit of the age.  Something like

          "O Sixteen Hundred Ninety-two Isles!
          O Islands 1692!
          Where the fisher spreads his wiles,
          And the muskallonge goes through!
          Forever the cottager gilds the same
          With nightly pyrotechnic flame;
          And it's O the Isles!
          The 1692!"

Aside from the pyrotechnics, the chief occupations of this place are
boating and fishing.  Boats abound--row-boats, sail-boats, and steam-
launches for excursion parties.  The river consequently presents an
animated appearance in the season, and the prettiest effects are produced
by the white sails dipping about among the green islands.  The favorite
boat is a canoe with a small sail stepped forward, which is steered
without centre-board or rudder, merely by a change of position in the
boat of the man who holds the sheet.  While the fishermen are here, it
would seem that the long, snaky pickerel is the chief game pursued and
caught.  But this is not the case when the fishermen return home, for
then it appears that they have been dealing mainly with muskallonge, and
with bass by the way.  No other part of the country originates so many
excellent fish stories as the Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-two Islands, and
King had heard so many of them that he suspected there must be fish in
these waters.  That afternoon, when they returned from Gananoque he
accosted an old fisherman who sat in his boat at the wharf awaiting a

"I suppose there is fishing here in the season?"

The man glanced up, but deigned no reply to such impertinence.

"Could you take us where we would be likely to get any muskallonge?"

"Likely?" asked the man.  "What do you suppose I am here for?"

"I beg your pardon.  I'm a stranger here.  I'd like to try my hand at a
muskallonge.  About how do they run here as to size?"

"Well," said the fisherman, relenting a little, "that depends upon who
takes you out.  If you want a little sport, I can take you to it.  They
are running pretty well this season, or were a week ago."

"Is it too late?"

"Well, they are scarcer than they were, unless you know where to go.
I call forty pounds light for a muskallonge; fifty to seventy is about my
figure.  If you ain't used to this kind of fishing, and go with me, you'd
better tie yourself in the boat.  They are a powerful fish.  You see that
little island yonder?  A muskallonge dragged me in this boat four times
round that island one day, and just as I thought I was tiring him out he
jumped clean over the island, and I had to cut the line."

King thought he had heard something like this before, and he engaged the

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