List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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and when he insisted on charging only four dollars for moving the trunks,
the two friends said that, considering the wear and tear of the mountain
involved, they did not see how he could afford to do it for such a sum,
and they went away, as they said, well pleased.

It happened to be at the Kaaterskill House--it might have been at the
Grand, or the Overlook--that the young gentlemen in search of information
saw the Catskill season get under way.  The phase of American life is
much the same at all these great caravansaries.  It seems to the writer,
who has the greatest admiration for the military genius that can feed and
fight an army in the field, that not enough account is made of the
greater genius that can organize and carry on a great American hotel,
with a thousand or fifteen hundred guests, in a short, sharp, and
decisive campaign of two months, at the end of which the substantial
fruits of victory are in the hands of the landlord, and the guests are
allowed to depart with only their personal baggage and side-arms, but so
well pleased that they are inclined to renew the contest next year.
This is a triumph of mind over mind.  It is not merely the organization
and the management of the army under the immediate command of the
landlord, the accumulation and distribution of supplies upon this
mountain-top, in the uncertainty whether the garrison on a given day will
be one hundred or one thousand, not merely the lodging, rationing and
amusing of this shifting host, but the satisfying of as many whims and
prejudices as there are people who leave home on purpose to grumble and
enjoy themselves in the exercise of a criticism they dare not indulge in
their own houses.  Our friends had an opportunity of seeing the machinery
set in motion in one of these great establishments.  Here was a vast
balloon structure, founded on a rock, but built in the air, and anchored
with cables, with towers and a high pillared veranda, capable, with its
annex, of lodging fifteen hundred people.  The army of waiters and
chamber-maids, of bellboys, and scullions and porters and laundry-folk,
was arriving; the stalwart scrubbers were at work, the store-rooms were
filled, the big kitchen shone with its burnished coppers, and an array of
white-capped and aproned cooks stood in line under their chef; the
telegraph operator was waiting at her desk, the drug clerk was arranging
his bottles, the newspaper stand was furnished, the post-office was open
for letters.  It needed but the arrival of a guest to set the machinery
in motion.  And as soon as the guest came the band would be there to
launch him into the maddening gayety of the season.  It would welcome his
arrival in triumphant strains; it would pursue him at dinner, and drown
his conversation; it will fill his siesta with martial dreams, and it
would seize his legs in the evening, and entreat him to caper in the
parlor.  Everything was ready.  And this was what happened.  It was the
evening of the opening day.  The train wagons might be expected any
moment.  The electric lights were blazing.  All the clerks stood
expectant, the porters were by the door, the trim, uniformed bell-boys
were all in waiting line, the register clerk stood fingering the leaves
of the register with a gracious air.  A noise is heard outside, the big
door opens, there is a rush forward, and four people flock in a man in a
linen duster, a stout woman, a lad of ten, a smartly dressed young lady,
and a dog.  Movement, welcome, ringing of bells, tramping of feet--the
whole machinery has started.  It was adjusted to crack an egg-shell or
smash an iron-bound trunk.  The few drops presaged a shower.  The next
day there were a hundred on the register; the day after, two hundred; and
the day following, an excursion.

With increasing arrivals opportunity was offered for the study of
character.  Away from his occupation, away from the cares of the
household and the demands of society, what is the self-sustaining
capacity of the ordinary American man or woman?  It was interesting to
note the enthusiasm of the first arrival, the delight in the view--Round
Top, the deep gorges, the charming vista of the lowlands, a world and
wilderness of beauty; the inspiration of the air, the alertness to
explore in all directions, to see the lake, the falls, the mountain
paths.  But is a mountain sooner found out than a valley, or is there a
want of internal resources, away from business, that the men presently
become rather listless, take perfunctory walks for exercise, and are so
eager for meal-time and mail-time?  Why do they depend so much upon the
newspapers, when they all despise the newspapers?  Mr. King used to
listen of an evening to the commonplace talk about the fire, all of which
was a dilution of what they had just got out of the newspapers, but what
a lively assent there was to a glib talker who wound up his remarks with
a denunciation of the newspapers!  The man was no doubt quite right, but
did he reflect on the public loss of his valuable conversation the next
night if his newspaper should chance to fail?  And the women, after their
first feeling of relief, did they fall presently into petty gossip,
complaints about the table, criticisms of each other's dress, small
discontents with nearly everything?  Not all of them.

An excursion is always resented by the regular occupants of a summer
resort, who look down upon the excursionists, while they condescend to be
amused by them.  It is perhaps only the common attitude of the wholesale
to the retail dealer, although it is undeniable that a person seems
temporarily to change his nature when he becomes part of an excursion;
whether it is from the elation at the purchase of a day of gayety below
the market price, or the escape from personal responsibility under a
conductor, or the love of being conspicuous as a part of a sort of
organization, the excursionist is not on his ordinary behavior.

An excursion numbering several hundreds, gathered along the river towns
by the benevolent enterprise of railway officials, came up to the
mountain one day.  The officials seemed to have run a drag-net through
factories, workshops, Sunday-schools, and churches, and scooped in the
weary workers at homes and in shops unaccustomed to a holiday.
Our friends formed a part of a group on the hotel piazza who watched the
straggling arrival of this band of pleasure.  For by this time our two
friends had found a circle of acquaintances, with the facility of
watering-place life, which in its way represented certain phases of
American life as well as the excursion.  A great many writers have sought
to classify and label and put into a paragraph a description of the
American girl.  She is not to be disposed of by any such easy process.
Undoubtedly she has some common marks of nationality that distinguish her
from the English girl, but in variety she is practically infinite, and
likely to assume almost any form, and the characteristics of a dozen
nationalities.  No one type represents her.  What, indeed, would one say
of this little group on the hotel piazza, making its comments upon the
excursionists?  Here is a young lady of, say, twenty-three years,
inclining already to stoutness, domestic, placid, with matron written on
every line of her unselfish face, capable of being, if necessity were, a
notable housekeeper, learned in preserves and jellies and cordials, sure
to have her closets in order, and a place for every remnant, piece of
twine, and all odds and ends.  Not a person to read Browning with, but to
call on if one needed a nurse, or a good dinner, or a charitable deed.
Beside her, in an invalid's chair, a young girl, scarcely eighteen, of
quite another sort, pale, slight, delicate, with a lovely face and large
sentimental eyes, all nerves, the product, perhaps, of a fashionable
school, who in one season in New York, her first, had utterly broken down
into what is called nervous prostration.  In striking contrast was Miss
Nettie Sumner, perhaps twenty-one, who corresponded more nearly to what
the internationalists call the American type; had evidently taken school
education as a duck takes water, and danced along in society into
apparent robustness of person and knowledge of the world.  A handsome
girl, she would be a comely woman, good-natured, quick at repartee,
confining her knowledge of books to popular novels, too natural and frank
to be a flirt, an adept in all the nice slang current in fashionable
life, caught up from collegians and brokers, accustomed to meet men in
public life, in hotels, a very "jolly" companion, with a fund of good
sense that made her entirely capable of managing her own affairs.
Mr. King was at the moment conversing with still another young lady, who
had more years than the last-named-short, compact figure, round girlish
face, good, strong, dark eyes, modest in bearing, self-possessed in
manner, sensible-who made ready and incisive comments, and seemed to have
thought deeply on a large range of topics, but had a sort of downright
practicality and cool independence, with all her femininity of bearing,
that rather, puzzled her interlocutor.  It occurred to Mr. King to guess
that Miss Selina Morton might be from Boston, which she was not, but it
was with a sort of shock of surprise that he learned later that this
young girl, moving about in society in the innocent panoply of girlhood,
was a young doctor, who had no doubt looked through and through him with
her keen eyes, studied him in the light of heredity, constitutional
tendencies, habits, and environment, as a possible patient.  It almost
made him ill to think of it.  Here were types enough for one morning; but
there was still another.

The artist had seated himself on a rock a little distance from the house,
and was trying to catch some of the figures as they appeared up the path,
and a young girl was looking over his shoulder with an amused face, just
as he was getting an elderly man in a long flowing duster, straggling
gray hair, hat on the back of his head, large iron-rimmed spectacles,
with a baggy umbrella, who stopped breathless at the summit, with a wild

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