List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
< < Previous Page    

I stretched myself out to rest a few moments, and suddenly the scene was
completely shut in by a fog.  [Irene put out her hand and touched
King's.]  I couldn't tell where the sun was, or in what direction the hut
lay, and the danger was that I would wander off on a spur, as the lost
usually do.  But I knew where the ravine was, for I was still on the edge
of it."

"Why," asked Irene, trembling at the thought of that danger so long ago--
"why didn't you go back down the ravine?"

"Because," and King took up the willing little hand and pressed it to his
lips, and looked steadily in her eyes--"because that is not my way.  It
was nothing.  I made what I thought was a very safe calculation, starting
from the ravine as a base, to strike the Crawford bridle-path at least a
quarter of a mile west of the house.  I hit it--but it shows how little
one can tell of his course in a fog -I struck it within a rod of the
house!  It was lucky for me that I did not go two rods further east."

Ah me!  how real and still present the peril seemed to the girl!  "You
will solemnly promise me, solemnly, will you not, Stanhope, never to go
there again--never--without me?"

The promise was given.  "I have a note," said King, after the promise was
recorded and sealed, "to show you.  It came this morning.  It is from
Mrs. Bartlett Glow."

"Perhaps I'd rather not see it," said Irene, a little stiffly.

"Oh, there is a message to you.  I'll read it."

It was dated at Newport.

     "MY DEAR STANHOPE,--The weather has changed.  I hope it is more
     congenial where you are.  It is horrid here.  I am in a bad humor,
     chiefly about the cook.  Don't think I'm going to inflict a letter
     on you.  You don't deserve it besides.  But I should like to know
     Miss Benson's address.  We shall be at home in October, late, and I
     want her to come and make me a little visit.  If you happen to see
     her, give her my love, and believe me your affectionate cousin,

The next day they explored the wonders of the Notch, and the next were
back in the serene atmosphere of the Profile House.  How lovely it all
was; how idyllic; what a bloom there was on the hills; how amiable
everybody seemed; how easy it was to be kind and considerate!  King
wished he could meet a beggar at every turn.  I know he made a great
impression on some elderly maiden ladies at the hotel, who thought him
the most gentlemanly and good young man they had ever seen.  Ah! if one
could always be in love and always young!

They went one day by invitation, Irene and Marion and King and the
artist--as if it made any difference where they went--to Lonesome Lake,
a private pond and fishing-lodge on the mountain-top, under the ledge of
Cannon.  There, set in a rim of forest and crags, lies a charming little
lake--which the mountain holds like a mirror for the sky and the clouds
and the sailing hawks--full of speckled trout, which have had to be
educated by skillful sportsmen to take the fly.  From this lake one sees
the whole upper range of Lafayette, gray and purple against the sky.
On the bank is a log cabin touched with color, with great chimneys,
and as luxuriously comfortable as it is picturesque.

While dinner was preparing, the whole party were on the lake in boats,
equipped with fishing apparatus, and if the trout had been in half as
willing humor as the fisher, it would have been a bad day for them.  But
perhaps they apprehended that it was merely a bridal party, and they were
leaping all over the lake, flipping their tails in the sun, and scorning
all the visible wiles.  Fish, they seemed to say, are not so easily
caught as men.

There appeared to be a good deal of excitement in the boat that carried
the artist and Miss Lamont.  It was fly-fishing under extreme
difficulties.  The artist, who kept his flies a good deal of the time out
of the boat, frankly confessed that he would prefer an honest worm and
hook, or a net, or even a grappling-iron.  Miss Lamont, with a great deal
of energy, kept her line whirling about, and at length, on a successful
cast, landed the artist's hat among the water-lilies.  There was nothing
discouraging in this, and they both resumed operations with cheerfulness
and enthusiasm.  But the result of every other cast was entanglement of
each other's lines, and King noticed that they spent most of their time
together in the middle of the boat, getting out of snarls.  And at last,
drifting away down to the outlet, they seemed to have given up fishing
for the more interesting occupation.  The clouds drifted on; the fish
leaped; the butcher-bird called from the shore; the sun was purpling
Lafayette.  There were kinks in the leader that would not come out, the
lines were inextricably tangled.  The cook made the signals for dinner,
and sent his voice echoing over the lake time and again before these
devoted anglers heard or heeded.  At last they turned the prow to the
landing, Forbes rowing, and Marion dragging her hand in the water, and
looking as if she had never cast a line.  King was ready to pull the boat
on to the float, and Irene stood by the landing expectant.  In the bottom
of the boat was one poor little trout, his tail curled up and his spots

"Whose trout is that?" asked Irene.

"It belongs to both of us," said Forbes, who seemed to have some
difficulty in adjusting his oars.

"But who caught it?"

"Both of us," said Marion, stepping out of the boat; "we really did."
There was a heightened color in her face and a little excitement in her
manner as she put her arm round Irene's waist and they walked up to the
cabin.  "Yes, it is true, but you are not to say anything about it yet,
dear, for Mr. Forbes has to make his way, you know."

When they walked down the mountain the sun was setting.  Half-way down,
at a sharp turn in the path, the trees are cut away just enough to make a
frame, in which Lafayette appears like an idealized picture of a
mountain.  The sun was still on the heights, which were calm, strong,
peaceful.  They stood gazing at this heavenly vision till the rose had
deepened into violet, and then with slow steps descended through the
fragrant woods.

In October no region in the North has a monopoly of beauty, but there is
a certain refinement, or it may be a repose, in the Berkshire Hills which
is in a manner typical of a distinct phase of American fashion.  There is
here a note of country life, of retirement, suggestive of the old-
fashioned "country-seat."  It is differentiated from the caravansary or
the cottage life in the great watering-places.  Perhaps it expresses in a
sincerer way an innate love of rural existence.  Perhaps it is only a
whim of fashion.  Whatever it may be, there is here a moment of pause, a
pensive air of the closing scene.  The estates are ample, farms in fact,
with a sort of villa and park character, woods, pastures, meadows.  When
the leaves turn crimson and brown and yellow, and the frequent lakes
reflect the tender sky and the glory of the autumn foliage, there is much
driving over the hills from country place to country place; there are
lawn-tennis parties on the high lawns, whence the players in the pauses
of the game can look over vast areas of lovely country; there are open-
air fetes, chance meetings at the clubhouse, chats on the highway,
walking excursions, leisurely dinners.  In this atmosphere one is on the
lookout for an engagement, and a wedding here has a certain eclat.  When
one speaks of Great Barrington or Stockbridge or Lenox in the autumn, a
certain idea of social position is conveyed.

Did Their Pilgrimage end on these autumn heights?  To one of them,
I know, the colored landscape, the dreamy atmosphere, the unique glory
that comes in October days, were only ecstatic suggestions of the life
that opened before her.  Love is victorious over any mood of nature, even
when exquisite beauty is used to heighten the pathos of decay.  Irene
raved about the scenery.  There is no place in the world beautiful enough
to have justified her enthusiasm, and there is none ugly enough to have
killed it.

I do not say that Irene's letters to Mr. King were entirely taken up with
descriptions of the beauty of Lenox.  That young gentleman had gone on
business to Georgia.  Mr. and Mrs. Benson were in Cyrusville.  Irene was
staying with Mrs. Farquhar at the house of a friend.  These letters had a
great deal of Lovers' Latin in them--enough to have admitted the writer
into Yale College if this were a qualification.  The letters she received
were equally learned, and the fragments Mrs. Farquhar was permitted to
hear were so interrupted by these cabalistic expressions that she finally
begged to be excused.  She said she did not doubt that to be in love was
a liberal education, but pedantry was uninteresting.  Latin might be
convenient at this stage; but later on, for little tiffs and
reconciliations, French would be much more useful.

One of these letters southward described a wedding.  The principals in it
were unknown to King, but in the minute detail of the letter there was a
personal flavor which charmed him.  He would have been still more charmed
could he have seen the girl's radiant face as she dashed it off.  Mrs.
Farquhar watched her with a pensive interest awhile, went behind her
chair, and, leaning over, kissed her forehead, and then with slow step
and sad eyes passed out to the piazza, and stood with her face to the
valley and the purple hills.  But it was a faded landscape she saw.

< < Previous Page    

Other sites: