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Title: Virginia: the Old Dominion
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Title: Virginia: The Old Dominion

Author: Frank W. Hutchins and Cortelle Hutchins

Release Date: March 27, 2004  [eBook #11731]

Language: English

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VIRGINIA: THE OLD DOMINION

As seen from its Colonial waterway, the Historic River James, whose
every succeeding turn reveals country replete with monuments and
scenes recalling the march of history and its figures from the days
of Captain John Smith to the present time.

By

FRANK AND CORTELLE HUTCHINS

With a map, and fifty-four plates, of which six are in full color,
from photographs by the authors.

1910






[Illustration: The Portico of Brandon, from the Garden.
(See page 119)]



TO
THE HONOURABLE FRANCIS E. HUTCHINS, THE FATHER OF ONE AUTHOR,
THE MORE THAN FATHER-IN-LAW OF THE OTHER, AND THE EVER-STAUNCH
FRIEND OF GADABOUT, THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.


This volume was formerly published under the title, "Houseboating on a
Colonial Waterway"; but its appropriateness for inclusion in the "See
America First Series" to represent the State of Virginia is so obvious
that the publishers have, in this new edition, changed the title to
"Virginia: The Old Dominion," and reissued the book in a new dress,
generally uniform with the other volumes in the series.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER


I.     ALL ABOUT GADABOUT

II.    OUR FIRST RUN AND A COZY HARBOUR

III.   LAND, HO! OUR COUNTRY'S BIRTHPLACE

IV.    A RUN AROUND JAMESTOWN ISLAND

V.     FANCIES AFLOAT AND RUINS ASHORE

VI.    IN THE OLD CHURCHYARD

VII.   SEEING WHERE THINGS HAPPENED

VIII.  PIONEER VILLAGE LIFE

IX.    GOOD-BYE TO OLD JAMES TOWNE

X.     A SHORT SAIL AND AN OLD ROMANCE

XI.    AT THE PIER MARKED "BRANDON"

XII.   HARBOUR DAYS AND A FOGGY NIGHT

XIII.  OLD SILVER, OLD PAPERS, AND AN OLD COURT GOWN

XIV.   A ONE-ENGINE RUN AND A FOREST TOMB

XV.    NAVIGATING AN UNNAVIGABLE STREAM

XVI.   IN WHICH WE GET TO WEYANOKE

XVII.  ACROSS RIVER TO FLEUR DE HUNDRED

XVIII. GADABOUT GOES TO CHURCH

XIX.   WESTOVER, THE HOME OF A COLONIAL BELLE

XX.    AN OLD COURTYARD AND A SUN-DIAL

XXI.   AN UNDERGROUND MYSTERY AND A DUCKING-STOOL

XXII.  A BAD START AND A VIEW OF BERKELEY

XXIII. THE RIGHT WAY TO GO TO SHIRLEY

XXIV.  FROM CREEK HARBOUR TO COLONIAL RECEPTION

XXV.   AN INCONGRUOUS BIT OF HOUSEBOATING.

XXVI.  THE END OF THE VOYAGE

INDEX




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


THE PORTICO OF BRANDON, FROM THE GARDEN (In full color)
(See page 119) Frontispiece

MAP OF THE JAMES RIVER FROM RICHMOND TO ITS MOUTH

THE HOUSEBOAT GADABOUT

IN THE FORWARD CABIN.--LOOKING AFT FROM THE FORWARD CABIN

ALONG THE SHORE OF CHUCKATUCK CREEK (In full color)

"JUST THE WILD BEAUTY OF THE SHORES, THE NOBLE EXPANSE OF THE
STREAM, ... AND GADABOUT"

JAMESTOWN ISLAND FROM THE RIVER (In full color)

IN BACK RIVER.--THE BEACH AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND

WHARF SIGN AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND.--THE "LONE CYPRESS"

THE BRIDGE ACROSS BACK RIVER.--THE ROAD ACROSS THE ISLAND

THE RUINED TOWER OF THE OLD VILLAGE CHURCH

A CORNER IN THE OLD GRAVEYARD (In full color)

VIEW FROM THE CONFEDERATE FORT.--LOOKING TOWARD THE FIRST LANDING-PLACE

LOCATING WHAT IS LEFT OF THE SITE OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT

AN EXCURSION DAY AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND

GADABOUT LOOKING FOR THE LOST ISTHMUS.--A VISIT TO THE "LONE CYPRESS"

ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXCAVATIONS.--HUNTING FOR THE FIRST STATE HOUSE

ENTRANCE TO CHIPPOAK CREEK.--COVE IN CHIPPOAK CREEK

RIVERWARD FRONT OF BRANDON (In full color)

A SIDE PATH TO THE MANOR-HOUSE.--THE WOODSWAY TO BRANDON

IN THE DRAWING-ROOM

"VENERABLE FOUR-POSTERS, RICHLY CARVED AND DARK"

A CORNER IN THE DINING-ROOM.--THE DRAWING-ROOM FIREPLACE

TREASURED PARCHMENTS, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL GRANT OF 1616

THE ANCIENT GARRISON HOUSE

MISS HARRISON IN THE COURT GOWN OF HER COLONIAL AUNT, EVELYN BYRD

STURGEON POINT LANDING.--AT THE MOUTH OF KITTEWAN CREEK

THE FOREST TOMB.--THE OLD KITTEWAN HOUSE

HUNTING FOR THE CHANNEL.--APPROACHING A NARROW PLACE

LOWER WEYANOKE

AN ANCESTRESS OF WEYANOKE.--CHIEF-JUSTICE JOHN MARSHALL

UPPER WEYANOKE.--AT ANCHOR OFF WEYANOKE

PRESENT-DAY FLEUR DE HUNDRED

A FISHING HAMLET.--A RIVER LANDING

"LITTLE BOATS WERE NOSING INTO THE BANK HERE AND THERE"

RIVERWARD FRONT OF WESTOVER

THE HALL, WITH ITS CARVED MAHOGANY STAIRCASE

THE HEPPLEWHITE SIDEBOARD WITH BUTLER'S DESK.--"FOUR-POSTERS AND THE
THINGS OF FOUR-POSTER DAYS"

THE ROMANTIC CENTRE OF WESTOVER; EVELYN BYRD'S OLD ROOM

THE COLONIAL COURTYARD GATES.--TOMB OF COLONEL WILLIAM BYRD

THE DRAWING-ROOM MANTELPIECE AT WESTOVER

TOMBS IN THE OLD WESTOVER CHURCHYARD
(In the foreground is the tomb of Evelyn Byrd)

A TRAPPER'S HOME BY THE RIVER BANK.--"OFTEN ... THE WANDERING HOUSEBOAT
COMES ALONG TO FIND ONLY AN EMPTY PIER"

BERKELEY; THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF A SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF
INDEPENDENCE AND OF TWO PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES

THE FIELD ROAD AND THE QUARTERS

RIVERWARD FRONT OF SHIRLEY (In full color)

THE OLD "GREAT HALL"

THE DRAWING-ROOM

THE KITCHEN BUILDING, FIFTY YARDS FROM THE MANOR-HOUSE

A BRICK OVEN IN THE BAKE-ROOM

SOME NOTEWORTHY PIECES OF OLD SHIRLEY PLATE

PEALE'S PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON

VARINA

DUTCH GAP CANAL.--FALLING CREEK

THE VOYAGE ENDED, GADABOUT IN WINTER QUARTERS




CHAPTER I

ALL ABOUT GADABOUT


It was dark and still and four o'clock on a summer morning. The few
cottages clustering about a landing upon a Virginia river were, for the
most part, sleeping soundly, though here and there a flickering light
told of some awakening home. Down close by the landing was one little
house wide awake. Its windows were aglow; lights moved about; and busy
figures passed from room to room and out upon the porch in front.

Suddenly, with a series of quick, muffled explosions, the whole cottage
seemed carried from its foundations. It slipped sidewise, turned almost
end for end, then drifted slowly away from its neighbours, out into the
darkness and the river. Its occupants seemed unconscious of danger.
There was one of them standing on the porch quite unconcernedly turning
a wheel, while two or three others were watching, with rather amused
expressions, two little engines chugging away near the kitchen stove.

And thus it was that the houseboat Gadabout left her moorings in the
outskirts of old Norfolk, and went spluttering down the Elizabeth to
find Hampton Roads and to start upon her cruise up the historic James
River.

But to tell the story we must begin before that summer morning. It was
this way. We were three: the daughter-wife (who happened to see the
magazine article that led to it all), her mother, and her husband. The
head of the family, true to the spirit of the age, had achieved a
nervous breakdown and was under instructions from his physician to
betake himself upon a long, a very long, vacation.

It was while we were in perplexed consideration as to where to go and
what to do, that the magazine article appeared--devoted to
houseboating. It was a most fetching production with a picture that
appealed to every overwrought nerve. There was a charming bit of water
with trees hanging over; a sky all soft and blue (you knew it was soft
and blue just as you knew that the air was soft and cool; just as you
knew that a drowsy peace and quiet was brooding over all); and there,
in the midst, idly floated a houseboat with a woman idly swinging in a
hammock and a man idly fishing from the back porch.

That article opened a new field for our consideration. Landlubbers of
the landlubbers though we were, its water-gypsy charm yet sank deep. We
thirsted for more. We haunted the libraries until we had exhausted the
literature of houseboating.

And what a dangerously attractive literature we found! How the cares
and responsibilities of life fell away when people went a-houseboating!
What peace unutterable fell upon the worn and weary soul as it drifted
lazily on, far from the noise and the toil and the reek of the world!
All times were calm; all waters kind. The days rolled on in
ever-changing scenes of beauty; the nights, star-gemmed and mystic,
were filled with music and the witchery of the sea.

It made good reading. It made altogether too good reading. We did not
see that then. We did not know that most of the literature of
houseboating is the work of people with plenty of imagination and no
houseboats.

We resolved to build a houseboat. There was excitement in the mere
decision; there was more when our friends came to hear of it. Their
marked disapproval made our new departure seem almost indecorous. It
was too late; the tide had us; and disapproval only gave zest to the
project.

As a first step, we proceeded to rechristen ourselves from a nautical
standpoint. The little mother was so hopelessly what the boatmen call a
fair-weather sailor that her weakness named her, and she became Lady
Fairweather. The daughter-wife, after immuring herself for half a day
with nautical dictionaries and chocolate creams, could not tell whether
she was Rudderina or Maratima; she finally concluded that she was
Nautica. It required neither time nor confectionery to enable these two
members of the family to rename the third. They viewed the strut of
plain Mr. So-and-So at the prospect of commanding a vessel, and
promptly dubbed him Commodore.

An earnest quest was next made for anybody and everybody who had ever
used, seen, or heard of a houseboat; and the Commodore made journeys to
various waters where specimens of this queer craft were to be found.
All the time, three lead pencils were kept busy, and plans and
specifications became as autumn leaves. We soon learned that there was
little room for the artistic. Once Nautica had a charming creation, all
verandas and overhanging roofs and things; but an old waterman came
along and talked about wind and waves, and most of the overhanging art
on that little houseboat disappeared under the eraser.

"That's all good enough for one of those things you just tie to a bank
and hang Chinese lanterns on," he said. "But it would never do for a
boat that's going to get out in wide water and take what's coming to
it."

When we concluded that we had the plans to our satisfaction (or rather
that we never should have, which amounted to the same thing), we turned
over to a builder the task of making them into something that would
float and hold people and go. The resulting craft, after passing
through a wrecking and some rebuilding, we called Gadabout. She was
about fifty feet long and twelve feet wide over all, as the watermen
say; and was propelled by twin screws, driven by two small gasoline
engines. Though not a thing of beauty, yet, as she swung lazily at her
moorings with her wide, low windows and the little hooded cockpit that
we tried hard not to call a porch, she looked cozy and comfortable. Her
colouring was colonial yellow and white, with a contrast of dark olive
on the side runways and the decks.

Inside, Gadabout was arranged as house-like and, we thought, as homelike
as boating requirements would permit. There were two cabins, one at
either end of the craft. Between these, and at one side of the
passageway connecting them, was what we always thought of as the
kitchen, but always took care to speak of as the galley.

At first glance, each of the cabins would be taken as a general
living-room. Each was that; but also a little of everything else. At
customary intervals, one compartment or the other would become a
dining-cabin. Again, innocent looking bits of wall would give way, and
there would appear beds, presses, lavatories, and a lamentable lack of
room.

Both cabins were finished in old oak, dark and dead; there is a
superabundance of brightness on the water. The ceilings showed the
uncovered, dark carlines or rafters. The walls had, along the top, a
row of niches for books; and along the bottom, a deceptive sort of
wainscoting, each panel of which was a locker door. Between book niches
above and wainscoting below, the walls were paneled in green burlap
with brown rope for molding. The furnishing was plain.

[Illustration: THE HOUSEBOAT GADABOUT.]

The kitchen or galley was rather small as kitchens go, and rather large
as galleys go. It would not do to tell all the things that were in it;
for anybody would see that they could not all be there. Perhaps it
would be well to mention merely the gasoline stove, the refrigerator,
the pump and sink, the wall-table, the cupboards for supplies, the
closet for the man's serving coats and aprons, the racks of blue willow
ware dishes, and the big sliding door.

One has to mention the big sliding door; for it made such a difference.
It worked up and down like a window-sash, and always suggested the
conundrum, When is a galley not a galley? For when it was down, it
disclosed nothing and the galley was a galley; but when it was up, it
disclosed a recess in which two little gasoline motors sat side by
side, and the galley was an engine-room.

It was a very ingenious and inconvenient arrangement. Operating the
stove and the engines at the same time was scarcely practicable; and we
were often forced to the hard choice of lying still on a full stomach
or travelling on an empty one.

There yet remains to be described the crew's quarters. The crew
consisted of two hands, both strong and sturdy, and both belonging to
the same coloured man. Though our trusty tar, Henry, had doubtless
never heard "The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell'" and had never eaten a
shipmate in his life, yet he had a whole crew within himself as truly
as the "elderly naval man" who had eaten one. There was therefore no
occasion for extensive quarters. Fortunately, an available space at the
stern was ample for the crew's cabin and all appointments.

All these interior arrangements were without the makeshifts so often
found in houseboats. There were no curtains for partition walls nor
crude bunks for beds. People aboard a houseboat must at best be living
in close quarters. But, upon even the moderate priced craft, much of
the comfort, privacy, and refinement of home life may be enjoyed by
heading off an outlay that tends toward gilt and grill work and turning
it into substantial partitions, real beds, baths, and lavatories.

Gadabout was square at both ends; so that the uninitiated were not
always sure which way she was going to go. Indeed, for a while, her
closest associates were conservative in forecasting on that point. But
that was for another reason. The boat was of extremely light draft.
While such a feature enables the houseboater to navigate very shallow
waters (where often he finds his most charming retreats), yet it also
enables the houseboat, under certain conditions of wind and tide, to go
sidewise with all the blundering facility of a crab.

[Illustration: IN THE FORWARD CABIN.]

[Illustration: LOOKING AFT FROM THE FORWARD CABIN.]

At first, in making landings we were forced to leave it pretty much to
Gadabout as to which side of the pier she was to come up on, and which
end first, and with how much of a bump. But all such troubles soon
disappeared; and, as there seemed no change in the craft herself, we
were forced to believe that our own inexperience had had something to
do with our difficulties.

To Gadabout and her crew, add anchors, chains and ropes, small boats,
poles and sweeps, parallel rulers, dividers and charts, anchor-lights,
lanterns and side-lights, compasses, barometers and megaphones,
fenders, grapnels and boathooks--until the landlubberly owners are
almost frightened back to solid land; and then all is ready for a
houseboat cruise.




CHAPTER II

OUR FIRST RUN AND A COZY HARBOUR


Daylight came while Gadabout was lumbering down the Elizabeth, and in
the glory of the early morning she followed its waters out into Hampton
Roads, the yawning estuarial mouth of the James emptying into
Chesapeake Bay.

She would probably have started in upon her cruise up the historic
river without more ado if we had not bethought ourselves that she was
carrying us into the undertaking breakfastless. The wheel was put over
hard to port (we got that out of the books) and the craft was run in
behind Craney Island and anchored.

While our breakfast was preparing, we all gathered in the forward
cockpit to enjoy the scene and the life about us. The houseboat was
lying in a quiet lagoon bordered on the mainland side by a bit of
Virginia's great truck garden. Here and there glimpses of chimneys and
roof lines told of truckers' homes, while cultivated fields stretched
far inland.

The height of the trucking season was past, yet crates and barrels of
vegetables were being hauled to the water's edge for shipment. The
negroes sang as they drove, but often punctuated the melody with strong
language designed to encourage the mules. One wailing voice came to our
ears with the set refrain, "O feed me, white folks! White folks, feed
me!" The crates and barrels were loaded on lighters and floated out to
little sailing boats that went tacking past our bows on their way to
Norfolk.

It was a pretty scene, but there was one drawback to it all. Everything
showed the season so far advanced, and served to remind us of the
lateness of our start. We had intended to take our little voyage on the
James in the springtime. It had been a good deal a matter of sentiment;
but sentiment will have its way in houseboating. We had wished to begin
in that gentle season when the history of the river itself began, and
when the history of this country of ours began with it.

For, whatever may have gone before, the real story of the James and of
America too commences with the bloom of the dogwood some three hundred
years ago, when from the wild waste of the Atlantic three puny,
storm-worn vessels (scarcely more seaworthy than our tub of a
houseboat) beat their way into the sheltering mouth of this unknown
river.

That was in the days when the nations of Europe were greedily
contending for what Columbus had found on the other side of the world.
In that struggle England was slow to get a foothold. Neglect,
difficulty, and misfortune made her colonies few and short-lived. By the
opening of the seventeenth century Spain and France, or perhaps Spain
alone, seemed destined to possess the entire new hemisphere. In all the
extent of the Americas, England was not then in possession of so much
as a log fort. Apparently the struggle was ended and England defeated.
No one then could have imagined what we now behold--English-speaking
people possessing most and dominating all of that newfound Western
World.

This miracle was wrought by the coming of those three little old-time
ships, the Sarah Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery.

It was in the year 1607 that the quaint, high-sterned caravels,
representing the forlorn hope of England, crossed the ocean to found a
colony on Roanoke Island. Storm-tossed and driven out of their
reckoning, they turned for refuge one April day into a yawning break in
the coast-line that we now call Chesapeake Bay. Following the
sheltering, inviting waters inland, they took their way up a "Greate
River," bringing to it practically the first touch of civilization and
establishing upon its shore the first permanent English settlement in
the New World--the birthplace of our country.

The civilizers began their work promptly. Even as they sailed up the
river looking for a place to found their colony, they robbed the stream
of its Indian name, Powhatan, that so befitted the bold, tawny flow,
bestowing instead the name of the puerile King of England. That was the
first step toward writing in English the story of the James River, the
"Greate River," the "King's River."

It was later by three hundred years lacking one when our houseboat came
along to gather up that story. But to our regret it was not springtime.
The dogwood blossoms had come and gone when Gadabout lay behind Craney
Island; and she would start upon her cruise up the James in the heart
of the summertime.

In some way that only those who know the laze of houseboating can
understand, the hours slipped by in that tiny, tucked-away haven, and
it was the middle of the afternoon when Gadabout slowly felt her way
out from behind the island and started up the James in the wake of the
Sarah Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery. That historic wake we
were to follow for the first thirty miles of our journey, when it would
bring us to the spot on the bank of the river where those first
colonists landed and built their little settlement which (still
honouring an unworthy king) they called James Towne.

As Gadabout sturdily headed her stubby bow up the wide, majestic
waterway, we looked about us. After all, what had three centuries done
to this gateway of American civilization? Surely not very much. Keeping
one's eyes in the right direction it was easy to blot out three hundred
years, and to feel that we were looking upon about the same scene that
those first colonists beheld--just the primeval waste of rolling
waters, lonely marsh, and wooded shore.

But eyes are unruly things; and, to be sure, there were other
directions in which to look. Glances northward took in a scene
different enough from the one that met the eyes of those early
voyagers.

Upon the low point of land along which they at last found a channel
into the James and which (in their relief) they named Point Comfort,
now stood a huge modern hostelry.

To the left of this, the ancient shore-line was now broken by a dull,
square structure that reared its ugly bulk against the sky--a strangely
grim marker of the progress of three centuries. For this was the grain
elevator at Newport News, spouting its endless stream to feed the Old
World, and standing almost on the spot where those first settlers in
the New World, sick and starving, once begged and then fought the
Indians for corn. Lying in the offing were great ships from overseas
that had come to this land of the starving colonists for grain.

Beyond all these could be seen something of the town of Newport News
itself. Towers and spires and home smoke-wreaths we saw, where those
beginners of our country saw only the spires of the lonely pines and
the smoke from hostile fires.

As our houseboat skirted the southern shore of the James in the sunny
afternoon, our engines chugging merrily, our flags flying, and our two
trailing rowboats dancing on the boiling surge kicked up astern, we
felt that our cruise was well begun. Not that we were misled for a
moment by that boiling surge astern into the belief that we were making
much progress. We had early perceived that Gadabout made a great stir
over small things, and that she went faster at the stern than anywhere
else.

Yet all that was well enough. So long as the sun shines and the water
lies good and flat, dawdling along in such a craft is an ideal way to
travel. If the houseboat is built with the accent on the first
syllable, as it ought to be, the homey feeling comes quickly to the
family group aboard. Day after day brings new scenes and places, yet
the family life goes on unbroken. It is as though Aladdin had rubbed
the wonderful lamp, and the old home had magically drifted away and
started out to see what the world was like.

Now, just ahead of us where the chart had a little asterisk, the river
had a little lighthouse perched high over the water on its long
spindling legs. Gadabout ran just inside the light and quite close to
it. It is an old and a pretty custom by which a passing vessel "speaks"
a lighthouse. In this instance perhaps we were a trifle tardy, for the
kindly keeper greeted us first with three strokes of his deep-toned
bell. Gadabout responded with three of her bravest blasts.

It was not long before the sun got low, and with the late afternoon
something of a wind whipped up from the bay, and the wide, low-shored
river rolled dark and unfriendly. We found our thoughts outstripping
Gadabout in the run toward a harbour for the night.

That word "harbour" comes to mean a good deal to the houseboater who
attempts to make a cruiser of his unseaworthy, lubberly craft. A little
experience on even inland waters in their less friendly moods develops
in him a remarkable aptitude for finding holes in the bank to stick his
boat in.

Sometimes the vessel is seaworthy enough to lie out and take whatever
wind and waves may inflict; but that is usually where much of the charm
and comfort of the houseboat has been sacrificed to make her so. Then
too the houseboater is usually quite a landlubber after all; so that
even if the boat is strong enough to meet an angry sea, the owner's
stomach is not. And, over and above all this, is the fact that
miserably pitching and rolling about in grim battle with the elements
is not houseboating.

It is easy then to see that snug harbours count for much when cruising
in the true spirit of houseboating, and in the charming, awkward tubs
that make the best and the most lovable of houseboats.

So, as Gadabout was passing Barrel Point and the wind was freshening
and the waves were slapping her square bow, we were thinking not
unpleasantly of a small tributary stream that the chart indicated just
ahead, and in which we should find quiet anchorage. There seemed
something snug and cozy about the very name of the stream, Chuckatuck.
In this case the pale-face has left undisturbed the red man's
picturesque appellation; and we knew that we should like--Chuckatuck.

Just before we reached the creek, two row-boats put out from the river
shore filled with boys and curiosity. A cheery salute was given us as
the houseboat passed close by the skiffs, and we thought no more of
them. But after a while footsteps were heard overhead and we found that
we had a full cargo of boys. They had made their boats fast to
Gadabout's stern as she passed, and were now grouped in some
uncertainty on the upper deck. A nod from Nautica put them at ease, and
in a moment they were scattered all over the outside of the boat,
calling to one another, peering into windows, and asking no end of
questions.

The boys proved helpful too. They were fisher-lads, well acquainted
with those waters, and were better than the chart in guiding us among
the shoals and into the channel of the creek.

[Illustration: ALONG THE SHORE OF CHUCKATUCK CREEK.]

A low headland prevented our getting a good view up the stream until
Gadabout swung into the middle of it. We seemed to be entering a little
lake bordered by tree-covered hills. At the far end of the blue basin
was a break and a gleam of lighter water to show that this was not
really a lake but a stream. There it made the last of its many turnings
and spread its waters in this beautiful harbour before losing them in
the James.

On the hills to our right, houses showed among the trees, some with the
ever-pleasing white-pillared porticoes; and on the hills to our left
was a village that straggled down the slope to the wharf as if coming
to greet the strangers. In this little harbour was quite a fleet,
mostly fishing craft, and all bowing politely on the swell of the tide.

There was such diversity of opinion among our self-constituted pilots
as to the best place for us to drop anchor, that the Commodore turned a
deaf ear to them all and attempted to run alongside a schooner to make
inquiries. She was a good sized craft, and it did not seem as if he
could miss her. He claimed that he did not. He explained that when we
got up there, our ropes fell short and we drifted helplessly past
because the blundering captain of the schooner had anchored her too far
away from us.

Kindly overlooking this error of a fellow navigator, the Commodore
patiently spent considerable of the beautiful summer evening in getting
Gadabout turned around; and then again bore down upon the schooner.
This time her being in the wrong place did not seem to matter; for we
reached her all right, and there probably was no place along that side
where we did not remove more or less paint. The captain of the schooner
gave us the needed information about the harbour; our lines were cast
off, and the houseboat was soon anchored in a snug berth for the night.

Then, sitting upon our canopied upper deck, enjoying the last of our
city melons cooled with the last of our city ice, we looked out over
what we supposed was but the first of many such beautiful creek-harbour
scenes to be found along the river. We did not know that there was to
be no other like Chuckatuck.

After a while, a small steamer came in from the James, a boat plying
regularly between Norfolk and landings along this creek.

It was just the kind of steamer, any one would say, to be running on
the Chuckatuck--a fat, wheezy side-wheeler that came up to its landing
near us with three hearty whistles and such a jovial puffing as seemed
to say, "Now, I'm certainly mighty glad to get back again to you all."
Just the sort of steamer that wouldn't mind a bit if the pretty girls
were "a right smart time" kissing goodbye; or if the Colonel had to
finish his best story; or if old Maria had to "study a spell" because
she had "done forgot" what Miss Clarissa wanted the steward to bring
from the city next day.

As the sun sank behind the hills (or rather some time after, for we
never could be nautically prompt), our flags were run down and the
anchor-light was hoisted on the forward flagstaff.

The summer night closed in softly; the blue waters grew dark, and
caught from the sky the rich lights that the setting sun had left
behind. We could see figures sitting upon the white porticoes looking
out over the miniature harbour. Somewhere were the music of a
merry-go-round and the calls and laughter of children. In from the
wider waters came more boats, their white sails folding down as they
neared their haven. All the beautiful mystery of the deepening twilight
touched water and masts, and shadowed the circling shore.

Then came the long hours of darkness when, with all aboard asleep,
Gadabout lay quietly at anchor, the riding-light upon her flagstaff
gently swaying throughout the night. Silently, with none to heed and
none to know, was enacted again in the gloom the play that is as old as
the first ship upon tideway. With bow turned up-stream, Gadabout sank
slowly lower and lower, as even little Chuckatuck heard the voice of
the far-away ocean calling its waters home. Then, crossing slowly over
her anchor and turning to head the other way, Gadabout rose once more
higher and higher, as the night wore on and as the great recurring
swell rolled landward again the waters of the sea.




CHAPTER III

LAND, HO! OUR COUNTRY'S BIRTHPLACE


When we hoisted our anchor next day, it came up reluctantly; and we
sailed away with faces often turned backward toward the little harbour
of Chuckatuck, with its blue of wave and sky, its white of cloud and
beach, its green of circling hills, and the picturesque life on its
waters.

Out again in the James (still some four miles wide), we felt that
Nature had almost overdone the matter of supplying us with a waterway
for our voyage. We should willingly have dispensed with a mile or so on
either side of our houseboat. There was a wind that kept steadily
freshening, so that after rounding Day's Point we noticed that the
river was getting rather rough; and we soon found that Gadabout was
equally observing. She rolled and pitched; but with both engines and
the tide to help her along she made good enough headway.

And in navigating the broad stream what advantages we had over those
early mariners upon the Sarah Constant, the Goodspeed, and the
Discovery!

Their passage up this river was upon unknown waters through an unknown
land. We knew just where we were, and where we were going. They even
fancied that they might be upon an arm of the ocean that would lead
through the new-found world and open a direct route to the South Sea
and to the Indies. Our maps showed us that even this wide waterway was
but a river; and that while it flowed some four hundred miles from its
source beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, yet we could ascend it only
about one hundred miles, as we should then come upon a line of falls
and rapids that would prevent farther navigation.

In the case of those early voyagers, savages lurked along the wooded
shores and greater dangers lay in the unknown, treacherous currents and
hidden bars of the stream itself. We should have to imagine all our
savages; and there, on the table in Gadabout's little cockpit, close to
the man (or, quite as likely, the woman) at the wheel, lay charts that
told the hidden features of the river highway.

Quaint old-time Sarah and her sister ships could not have sailed up
this waterway very far before finding navigation difficult. Even small
as they were, they must often have found scant water if the James of
that time, like the James of to-day, had its top and bottom so close
together every here and there. A majestic river several miles wide,
often fifty to seventy-five feet deep, yet barred by such tangles of
shoals as one would not expect to find in a respectable creek. And
shoals too that the colour of the water hides from the keenest eyes.

To be sure, for us it was all plain sailing. The charts told where the
shoals were and how to avoid them. Our chief danger lay in presuming
too much upon our light draft and in venturing too far from the
indicated channels. But how about those deeper-draft, chartless sailing
craft? Well, they managed to get along anyway, and our houseboat must
on after them.

One more straight reach of the river, one more great sweeping bend, and
we should come upon the site of that old village of James Towne. Still
the tawny Powhatan, like many another proud savage, showed small sign
of succumbing to civilization. There seemed scarce any mark of human
habitation. The life of the people, where there were people, must have
been back from the banks. The river itself was empty. Nowhere was there
wreath of smoke or shimmer of sail. Just the wild beauty of the shores,
the noble expanse of the stream, the cloudless blue of the summer sky,
and Gadabout.

Yet, we were not seeing quite the James that those first English eyes
beheld. For them the slopes and headlands were covered with far nobler
forests and Nature wore her May-time gown. Life and colour were
everywhere. In the clear atmosphere of the Virginia spring, the
woodland was a wealth of living green radiantly starred with flowers.
What a Canaan those weary, storm-tossed colonists must have thought it
all!

We can well imagine the little family groups gathered on the decks,
eagerly planning for their new life. We can see the brightening in the
tired eyes of women and of children as the ships tack near to the
flowery shore; as schools of fish break the river into patches of
flashing silver; as strange, brilliant birds go flaming in the
sunlight; as beauty is added to beauty in this wondrous new home-land.

No! We blunder in our history. There were no women and children on the
Sarah Constant, nor on the Goodspeed, nor on the Discovery. The story
of these ships is not like that later one of the Mayflower. The colour
dies out of the picture; and there remains only the worn, motley band
of men--men who have taken possession of the country by the sign of the
cross, fit omen of the fate awaiting them.

[Illustration: "JUST THE WILD BEAUTY OF THE SHORES, THE NOBLE EXPANSE
OF THE STREAM ... AND GADABOUT."]

At last our houseboat came about the bend in the river and before us
along the northern shore lay Jamestown Island, the site of old James
Towne. We could make out little yet but the low wooded shore and the
wide opening that we knew was the mouth of Back River, the waterway
that cuts off from the mainland that storied piece of soil. Now
Gadabout's steering-wheel was counting spokes to starboard; she headed
diagonally up the river toward the northern shore, and we were soon
nearing the historic island.

So, here was where those three little ships, that we had been following
at the respectful distance of three centuries, terminated their voyage;
here was where that handful of colonists founded the first permanent
English settlement in the New World; here was the cradle of our
country.

However, the place in those old days was not exactly an island,
although even the early colonists often called it so. There was a low
isthmus (that has since been washed away) connecting with the mainland;
so that the site of the settlement was in reality a peninsula. It was a
low and marshy peninsula, an unhealthful place for the site of a
colony. The settlers had a hard time from the beginning. They would
have had a harder time but for the presence of a remarkable man among
them. He was one of the best of men, or he was one of the
worst--dependent upon which history you happen to pick up. At all
events, he was the man for the hour. But for him the colony would have
perished at the outset. This man of course was the schoolboy's hero,
Captain John Smith.

The chief hardships of the colonists at first were scarcity of food and
frequent Indian attacks. To these were soon added a malarial epidemic
caused by the unhealthful surroundings. As if there were yet not
suffering enough, the "Supplies" (the ships that came over with
reinforcements and food) brought bubonic plague and cholera from
English ports. Often, if they had touched at the West Indies, they
brought yellow fever too. The sufferings in that little pioneer
settlement of our country have scarcely been equalled in modern
colonization.

Time went on; and the population waxed and waned as reinforcements
built it up and as the terrible mortality cut it down again. All the
while there seemed no outcome to the struggle. James Towne had in it
not even the promise of a successful colony. The settlers did not find
the gold and precious stones that were expected, nor did they find or
produce in quantities any valuable commodities. They were not even
self-supporting. The colony held on because constantly fed with men and
provisions by the "Supplies." There was dissatisfaction in London; in
James Towne misery and often despair. The climax of disappointment and
suffering was reached in the spring of 1610, ever since known as the
"Starving Time." In that season of horror, the settlement almost passed
out of existence.

After that matters improved, and chiefly because of a single
development: James Towne learned to grow tobacco; Europe learned to use
it. From that time the place took on new life and made great strides
toward becoming self-supporting. More and better settlers arrived, and
the colony even put out offshoots, so that soon there were several
settlements up and down the river and upon other rivers. And of all,
James Towne was the seat of government, the proud little capital of the
Colony of Virginia.

But trouble was still in store for this pioneer village, and this time
final disaster. The very cause of prosperity became the chief cause of
downfall. Tobacco and towns could not long flourish together. The
famous weed rapidly exhausted the soil, and there was constant need for
new lands to clear and cultivate. The leading Virginians turned their
backs upon James Towne and upon the other struggling settlements too,
and established vast individual estates along the river to which they
drew the body of the people.

To be sure there still had to be some place as the seat of government;
and in that capacity the village hung on a good while longer, though
with few inhabitants aside from colonial officials and some
tavern-keepers. It was not to be allowed to keep even these. Despite
every effort to force the growth of the town, it dwindled; and in 1699
it received its deathblow upon the removal of the seat of government to
Williamsburg.

The rest is a matter of a few words. The pioneer village was gradually
abandoned and fell to ruins. As though natural decay could not tear
down and bury fast enough, the greedy river came to its aid. Besides
eating away the ancient isthmus, the James attacked the upper end of
the island, devouring part of the site of the old-time settlement.
Between decay and the river, James Towne, the birthplace of our
country, vanished from the face of the earth.




CHAPTER IV

A RUN AROUND JAMESTOWN ISLAND


Now Gadabout, her engines slowed down, drifted almost unguided among
the shallows beside Jamestown Island; for our eyes were only for that
close-lying shore and our thoughts for what it had to tell us.

The end of the island toward us was well wooded though fringed with
marsh. All of it that could be seen was just as we would have
it--without a mark of civilization; wild, lonely, and still. In keeping
with the whole sad story seemed the gloom of the forest, the loneness
of the marsh, and the surge of the waves upon the desolate shore.

When we took Gadabout in hand again, we did not keep along the front of
the island to where the colonists "tied their ships to the trees" and
made their landing; but, instead, we turned from the James and ran up
Back River in behind the island. Our plan was to sail up this stream to
a point where the chart showed a roadway and a bridge, and to tie up
the houseboat there. That would be convenient for us and for Gadabout
too. The roadway we should use in crossing the island to visit the
chief points of interest, which were on the James River side; and
Gadabout would have a more protected harbour than could be found for
her in front.

[Illustration: JAMESTOWN ISLAND FROM THE RIVER.]

Though nothing serious came of the matter, we were not taking a good
time to run up the little stream behind Jamestown Island, as the tide
had long since turned and we were going in on a falling tide. We did
not relish the idea of running aground perhaps, and of having the
ebbing waters leave our craft to settle and wreck herself upon some
hidden obstruction. So Gadabout took plenty of time to run up Back
River, feeling her way cautiously with a sounding-pole, like some fat
old lady with a walking-stick.

There must once have been a better channel here; for in the early days
of the colony, vessels did not always land at the front of the island,
but sometimes ran up Back River as our houseboat was now doing. Indeed,
we were expecting to come soon to the wooded rise of land once called
"Pyping Point," where of old a boat in passing would sound "a musical
note" to apprise the townspeople of its coming. And but a little way
beyond that again, near the present-day bridge where we expected to
stop, we should find the site of the ancient landing-place which was
called "Friggett Landing."

As Gadabout slowly moved along, she occasionally got out of the channel
into the shallows, in spite of chart and sounding-pole; and more than
once she struck bottom. But she always discovered the channel and
scrabbled back into it before the soft mud, even aided by the falling
tide, could get a good hold of her. No, not quite always was she so
fortunate. For at last, in following a turn of the channel toward the
island, she went too far; her stern swung about and grounded in the
shallows; her propeller clogged in the mud, and she came to a stop.

We accepted that stop as final. No attempt was made to put out a kedge
anchor and to "haul off" with the windlass. We simply walked around the
houseboat on the guard taking soundings. Finding that the boat was
settling upon fairly level bottom, and feeling that the farther she
went the worse she would fare, we took our chances as to what might be
under her and made no further effort.

[Illustration: IN BACK RIVER.]

[Illustration: THE BEACH AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND.]

Nautica had a good motto, which was, "When in trouble, eat." So the
next thing was dinner. Then Nautica and the Commodore embarked in a
shore-boat on a voyage of discovery, a search for the lost channel. By
this time the water was but a few inches deep around the houseboat.
Evidently, the explorers would not dare to go far or to be gone long
for fear the ebbing tide would prevent their getting back. But it was
not necessary to go far to find the channel. Indeed it was found
unpleasantly near. The houseboat had stranded on a safe, level shoal,
but almost on the edge of a steep declivity leading down into twelve
feet of water. We felt that if Gadabout had to go aground, she at least
might have done it a little farther away from precipitous channel
banks.

Sitting on the upper deck, we talked and read, and watched the water
slowly drawing away from our houseboat until all about us was bare
ground; to starboard a narrow strip of it between us and the channel,
and to port a wide stretch of it between us and the shore.

We thought most and talked most of the historic island on the edge of
which we had become squatters. It was a small stage for the
world-shaping drama that had been enacted upon it.

Toward evening the tide turned again and the truant waters came back,
lapping once more the sides of our boat. The Commodore had to see that
anchors were run ahead and astern, and all made snug for the night.
Then, in the enjoyment of one of the most charming features of
houseboating, an evening meal served on the upper deck, we watched the
sun dip down behind the island and the twilight shadows gather in.

Still about us was no sight or sound of human life. The shadows
deepened and darkness came. Then gradually a faint silvery light stole
over water and marsh and wooded shore; and the stillness was broken by
a burst of faint, high, tremulous tones, as though a host of unseen
hands swept tiny invisible mandolins. The silvery light came from the
rising moon; the rest was just mosquitoes.

Next day, as soon as Gadabout was afloat, she started up stream again
to find the bridge and a landing-place. There was no trouble about the
channel this time. The waterway, as if taking pity upon indifferent
navigators, suddenly contracted to a very narrow stream, deep almost
from bank to bank, so that we could not well have got out of the
channel if we had tried. In such a place, we were stout-hearted
mariners and the good houseboat stemmed the waters gallantly. Already
we were thinking of how we too, in passing "Pyping Point," should sound
a blast most lustily. Perhaps it would not be exactly a "musical note"
such as the townspeople were used to; but being two or three centuries
dead, they probably would not notice the difference. However, we did
not subject them to the experiment. Instead, we suddenly reversed our
engine; Gadabout tried to stop in time; the ladies tried to look
pleasant; the Commodore tried to shun over-expressive speech. There,
just ahead, was a row of close-set pilings, blocking the stream from
shore to shore.

There was nothing to do but to turn back, run around the island, and
attempt to get in behind it at the other end. We probably should have
tried the upper entrance in the first place had it not been that our
chart showed by dotted lines some sort of obstruction there, while it
did not at all indicate the barrier we had just encountered.
Fortunately, as the tide was now rising and as we had got some
knowledge of the channel, Gadabout made good progress in returning down
the stream, and was soon out in the wide James again, sailing along the
front of the island.

As we proceeded, the marshes gave way to a bank of good height edged
with a gravel beach. Buildings were now in sight, and horses and cattle
grazing. We passed a pier with a warehouse on it, bearing a sign which
read, "Jamestown Island, Site of the First Permanent English Settlement
in America, 1607."

Now, a glimpse could be had of a relic of old James Towne, the ruined
church tower, deep-set among the trees. Could our eyes have pierced the
water under us, we might have seen more of the ruins of the ancient
village. For Gadabout was holding in quite close to shore where no
vessel could have gone in James Towne days, as the place was then solid
land and a part of the settlement. Now, that part lay buried at the
bottom of the river, and our boat was passing over it.

Coasting around the end of the island, we came upon a tree standing out
in the water a hundred yards from shore. It was the famous "Lone
Cypress," once growing on the island, now spreading its green branches
in the midst of a watery waste--silently attesting the sacrifice of
historic soil to the greedy river. A little way beyond the tree was
what we were seeking, the upper entrance into the waterway behind the
island.

[Illustration: WHARF SIGN AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND.]

[Illustration: THE "LONE CYPRESS."]

In the days of the old settlement, there was no such entrance at this
end; for here the narrow isthmus extended across, connecting with the
mainland. But the same resistless wash of waves that had carried part
of James Towne into the bed of the river, had broken down and submerged
the isthmus too; and our chart showed that there was water enough for
our houseboat to sail over where the colonists used to walk dry-shod.

As to the obstruction we had seen indicated on the chart, that proved
to be the ruins of an old bridge extending out from the mainland along
the submerged isthmus. But the island end of it had been carried away,
and we readily passed through the opening left and got again into Back
River behind the island. Following this for a few hundred yards, we
found ourselves at last beside the bridge we long had sought. Standing
on the upper deck, we could look down stream to the place where our
houseboat had been stopped by the row of pilings. We had practically
circumnavigated the island.

While making Gadabout fast to some convenient pilings, we heard gay
voices and the rumble of wheels on the bridge.

"Look! Look!" cried one of a carriage-full of hatless girls in white
muslins. "There's a houseboat. How in the world did it get in here?"

And we rather wondered ourselves.




CHAPTER V

FANCIES AFLOAT AND RUINS ASHORE


It was midday when we tied Gadabout to the pilings beside the bridge,
and the weather was hot and sultry. So, we deferred until evening the
long walk across the island. But already, sitting under our own awning,
we were in the thick of historic association.

Where our houseboat lay, the early colonists used to find haven for
their vessels, "lashed to one another and moor'd a shore secure from
all Wind and Weather Whatsoever." As they found Back River at this
point so we found it, a stream without banks; instead, on either hand
stretched lonely marshes, jungles of reeds and rushes, now as then more
than man high.

But our thoughts, busy with scenes two or three centuries gone, kept
stumbling over two features of the landscape that were out of keeping
with those old times. Back of us, where an isthmus should be stretching
from island to mainland, was the open water gateway through which we
had come; and in front of us, where there should be nothing but river
and marsh, that modern bridge reached from shore to shore.

Our quickened fancy made short work of such anachronisms. We promptly
raised the submerged isthmus, tying the island to the mainland once
more. Then we attacked the bridge; and, as the pilings to which our
boat was fastened did not have any connection with that structure, we
felt no misgivings as the troublesome modernism faded away.

The bridge disposed of, we bethought us that the road with which it had
connected was also a latter-day feature. To be sure, our maps showed us
that in colonial times too a road had crossed the island, and along
much the same lines; but it had come out a little farther down Back
River, at the point already referred to as "Friggett Landing."

To put the roadway right, then, we had first to locate the site of the
old landing. And in this important matter what painstaking
archeologists we were! Not by guesswork, but by a long string, did we
locate "Friggett Landing." After reading all that our authorities had
to say on the subject (and understanding part of it), we sent our man
down stream in a rowboat, confident that he would find the landing at
the end of the measured string. When the string ran out, the rowboat
was opposite a point on the marshy edge of the island about one hundred
feet below the present-day road.

The correctness of our work was at once evident. All the indications
pointed to that; for the place showed not the slightest sign of ever
having been used as a landing-place--which is just what you would
expect after the lapse of two or three centuries.

After that, it was but the work of a moment to crook the end of the
modern road, where it approached the river through a bit of elevated
woodland (the only piece of solid land anywhere near us), and so make
it come out, like the road of old, at the "landing." Now, our man held
aloft a stick with the houseboat's burgee on it, and a photograph was
taken that we might not forget where our diverted road came out and
where to go to meet the "friggetts" that might be coming in almost any
time.

Our trifling bits of restoration made all satisfactory: an isthmus
more, a bridge less, a crook in the end of a road--and the scene went
back, as our thoughts went back, to those old James Towne days. To be
sure, the village itself was still clear across the island on the
"Maine River" side, and we could not catch a glimpse of the colonists
in their little streets nor even of the English colours flying over the
fort.

However, there was enough taking place on our own side of the island.
We had no sooner got the isthmus up out of the water than figures began
to move across it. But such figures! Was there a mistake somewhere?
These were not Englishmen, and they were not Indians. Behold, crossing
our isthmus, Dutchmen, Italians, and Poles! Suddenly, from the midst of
the group, came a glint and a flash of blue. Then we understood. These
were the "skilful workmen from foreign parts" early sent over to the
colony to make glass beads, preferably blue ones, for barter with the
Indians.

Now, there were only two people on our isthmus--an Indian and a
red-headed man. The Indian was tall and "a most strong stout Salvage";
the red-headed man was short but a most strong, stout Englishman. The
Indian was Wowinchopunk, chief of the Paspaheghs; the red-headed man
was Captain John Smith. A desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensued. We
remembered that fight in the school-books, but we had never expected to
really see it. Our sympathies were of course largely with the Captain,
but more with the isthmus. We had raised it out of the water for
temporary purposes only, and with no idea of its being subjected to a
strain like this. It was a relief when the two fighters rolled off into
the water. By the time they had struggled out again, the white man was
victor. As dripping captor and captive set off toward James Towne, we
saw Fame stick another laurel leaf in the wet, red hair in
commemoration of the single combat in which Captain John Smith defeated
the "strong, stout Salvage," Wowinchopunk, on the James Towne isthmus.

For a while after that, nothing much happened over our way. Indians
occasionally passed and repassed; now striding openly across to the
island on friendly visit, now skulking over to pick off unwary
settlers. Once we caught, in a hazy way, the most touching picture
associated with the old isthmus--the little savage maiden, Pocahontas,
with heart divided between her own people and the pale-faces, crossing
over at the head of her train of Indians bearing venison and corn for
the half-famished settlers. Pathetic little figure! Often all that
seemed to stand between the colonists and destruction.

It was the sound of voices that now made us turn and look the other
way. Many people were following the crook in our road, passing through
the bit of woodland and coming out at "Friggett Landing." We had heard
no "musical note," but evidently the townspeople had; and there, surely
enough, was a queer little vessel stopping right where we had marked
the spot. It was a pleasure to see that she so readily took our
measurements for it. But how she got there perplexed us not a little,
as we remembered the row of pilings across the stream that had stopped
the houseboat, and which, even in our ardour to restore the colonial
setting, we had not once thought to remove.

Back and forth across our isthmus played the old-time life of the
colony. Rather sombre figures for a while, and all afoot. Then colour
came, and colour on horseback too. They were seeing more prosperous
times in the little village across the island. Prancing by went the
"qualitye" in flaming silks, and high dignitaries in glittering gold
lace. There was even a coach or two. That one attended by soldiers in
queer "coats of mail" must belong to Sir William Berkeley, governor of
the colony. However, we watched and waited long before anything of
importance happened--probably several years.

But time does not count for much in house-boating.

At last, some soldiers marched across the island from the James Towne
side to ours, and built a fort near the isthmus. Some more soldiers
appeared on the mainland and began to build a fort on their side, near
the isthmus. Then we knew that James Towne was seeing its most stirring
days. Stubborn old Governor Berkeley and hot-headed young Nathaniel
Bacon had fallen out over the Indian question. The people were divided;
and here were the preparations for the trial of arms. While the Bacon
fort, the one on the mainland, was yet incomplete, we beheld a strange
line of white objects fluttering from the top of it. With the aid of
field-glasses and some historical works, we at last made out that it
was a row of women in white aprons. As our eyes became accustomed to
the trying perspective of over two hundred years, we were able to
recognize the charming wives of some of the most prominent men in the
other fort. The ungallant Bacon had sent out and captured these
excellent ladies, and now placed them in plain sight of their husbands,
thus preventing the other fort from opening fire upon him until he had
his fortification completed.

After the ladies had been helped down from the rough earthworks and had
spoken their minds and taken off their white aprons and gone home, the
battle began. Soldiers from the island fort made a sally across our
isthmus, were repulsed, and later abandoned their works and fled
pell-mell toward James Towne.

At the height of our interest, the flow of life across the historic
isthmus lost colour, then died away. No more painted savages; no more
soldiers; no more gay groups of mounted men and women in bright London
dress; no more worshipful personages in rich velvet and gold lace.
Instead, a slow sombre train crossing heavily over and disappearing
along the forest road on the mainland leading to Williamsburg. Here,
colonial records going by, telling that the brave little capital is a
capital no more; there, a quaint church service, bespeaking abandoned
holy walls and sacred doors flapping in the idle wind; and all along,
those shapeless loads, telling of forsaken firesides, empty streets, a
village deserted. After that, came only an occasional ox-cart, a load
of hay, or (from the other direction) a carryall filled with strangers
curious to visit the site of a little village that was once called
James Towne.

Sadly we let our isthmus sink back beneath the waters; we straightened
the old roadway, and rebuilt the bridge. Then we went ashore to visit
the island, knowing that we should find only a few ruins and one of the
best truck farms on the river.

Landing from our shore-boat near the end of the bridge at a little cove
that made in through a greenery of fox grape and woodbine, we reached
the road and started off through the woodland. It was a pleasant walk
among the fragrant pine trees and in the soft light and the lengthening
shadows of the waning summer day. Abruptly the grove ended, and
thereafter the road led across a succession of marshy hollows and
cleared ridges on its way to the other side of the island. About midway
in its course it divided; one branch passing into a large enclosure,
the other making a detour around it.

The enclosed land, twenty-three acres at the southwest corner of the
island, belongs to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia
Antiquities. It was given to that society by the present owner of the
island, Mrs. Edward E. Barney.

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE ACROSS BACK RIVER.]

[Illustration: THE ROAD ACROSS THE ISLAND.]

Passing within the enclosure and following the caretaker, we approached
with interest, and something of reverence too, a grove near the river
bank. It was a grove in whose shadowy depths is all of James Towne that
remains above ground--a ruined church tower and some crumbling tombs.
As we walked along the curving road, we caught glimpses now and then of
the venerable tower; and gradually it emerged as out of the shadows of
the past, and we stood facing it. Silently we gazed at the ancient
pile, the most impressive ruin of English colonization. A hollow shaft
of brick, with two high arched openings, a crumbling top, and a hold on
the heart of every American.

How fitting that the four little broken walls alone remaining of all
that the colonists built, should be not the walls of house or tavern or
fort, but of the tower of the village church! Almost with the solemn
significance of a tomb above the ashes of the dead, stands the sacred
pile over the buried remains of old James Towne.

The ruin is about thirty-six feet high, though doubtless originally
several feet higher. Near the top are loopholes that perhaps suggest
the reason why the tower is of such massive build; in those days the
red man influenced even church architecture.

Excavations to the east of the tower have disclosed the foundation
walls of the remainder of the church, and have helped to fix the date
of erection as about 1639. Within these foundations, the ruins of a yet
older building have been unearthed. They are doubtless the remains of a
wooden church with brick foundations that was built about 1617. So, in
the contemplation of these little ruins within ruins, the mind is
carried back to the very beginnings of our country, to within ten years
perhaps of the day when those first settlers landed.

What this old wooden church looked like probably nobody can tell; but
much has been determined as to the general appearance of the brick
church, that to which the venerable tower belonged.

The visitor will not be far wrong if, as he stands in the presence of
these ruins, he sees in fancy a picture like this: the old tower with
several feet of lost height regained, and with a roof sloping up from
each of the four sides to a peak in the middle surmounted by a cross;
behind the tower, those crumbling church foundations built up into
strong walls, bearing a high-pitched roof; each side of the church with
four flying buttresses and three lancet windows; the entrance, a pair
of arched doorways, one in the front and one in the back of the tower;
above the doorway in the front, a large arched window; and, yet higher,
the six ominous loopholes; all the walls of the structure composed of
brick in mingled red and black, and the roofs of slate.

Now, if the visitor will enter the quaint old church that his fancy has
thus restored--moving softly, for truly he is on holy ground and every
step is over unknown dead--he may see in vague vision a very little of
the ancient interior: the nave lighted by diamond-paned windows, not
stained; the aisles between the rows of pews paved with brick; the
chancel paved with tile; a gallery at the end next the tower; and, over
all, the heavy timbers of the high-pitched roof. Perhaps beyond this
fancy can not safely go.

Pilgrims to this broken shrine will be of two opinions as to a work of
preservation that the Society owning this part of the island has
entered into. About and within the church ruins, we saw evidences of
building in progress, and learned that preparation was being made for a
memorial structure or chapel, to be erected not on but over the old
church foundation walls, to preserve them from the elements. It was to
be a gift to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia
Antiquities from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
Within the building, the ancient church foundations were to be left
visible. Though the broken tower was to be untouched, yet this building
was to be placed practically against it--to be, in fact, a restoration
of the main body of the church.

From what we learned then and later, it was evident that the work was
undertaken after the most careful study and in the most painstaking
spirit. The structure has since been completed, and is doubtless as
desirable a one as could be erected for the preservation of the church
foundations. Still, there will be the difference of opinion as to the
wisdom of placing a building of any kind close to the old tower. And
this, even though the hard alternative should be to preserve the
foundations with a cement covering merely, and to place some
inconspicuous protection over the chancel.

[Illustration: THE RUINED TOWER OF THE OLD VILLAGE CHURCH.]

To the unimaginative visitor, the plan that has been adopted will
appeal. To him the ancient broken tower, standing alone, would have
little charm in comparison with this faithful restoration of the old
church, that enables him to see what he never could have seen but for
its being shown to him in brick and mortar. But to the pilgrim of the
other sort--day-dreamer, if you will--there must come a sense not of
gain but of loss. He will feel that, for a questionable combination of
a restoration with a ruin, there has been sacrificed the most
impressive spectacle on the island--the ancient church tower of
vanished James Towne, standing in the shadow of the little grove by the
river, broken, desolate, alone.

As we stood amidst ruins and building stuff, we tried to bear in mind
that, of the two pilgrims, the unimaginative one is much the bigger;
but we were so hopelessly a part of the other fellow.




CHAPTER VI

IN THE OLD CHURCHYARD


For two or three days after our visit to the church ruins, rain kept us
prisoners within the houseboat. Such times are good tests to determine
how much one possesses of the houseboating spirit. All the charms
usually associated with such a life are blotted out by the lowering
clouds, washed away by the falling water. And how the houseboat shrinks
when it gets so wet! With decks unavailable, what a little thing the
floating home suddenly becomes! Then there is the ceaseless patter
overhead, and so close overhead that one almost feels like raising an
umbrella.

But to the true houseboater there is a charm in it all. With water
above, below, and all around, the little craft is yet tight and snug.
There is plenty of food for the mind on the book-shelves above and
plenty for the body in the lockers below. Lady Fairweather found a
diversion of her own. She sat for a good part of one wet afternoon,
with a short pole thrust out of a window, a baited hook in the water,
and an expectant look on her face. But we had an omelet for supper.

On the first bright morning we made preparations to visit the island
again. As we were about to start, the sailor rushed into the forward
cabin with story enough in his eyes, but only one word on his lips--"
Fire!"

Then there was commotion. Nautica ran into the galley and Lady
Fairweather ran for the Commodore, who was out on deck. He reached the
galley to find one end of it in flames and himself half buried under a
shower of boxes, cans, paper bags, and packages of breakfast food.
Nautica, suddenly remembering one of the best things for extinguishing
burning gasoline, was making everything fly as she frantically sought
to reach a stowed-away bag of flour. The bag and the Commodore appeared
about the same time, and together they made toward the gasoline stove
from which the blaze was flaming across the galley. In an instant all
of the flour was cast into the flames. It proved wholly insufficient,
though warranted on the bag to go farther than any other brand.

Already the blaze was about the gasoline font. All knew that there was
over a barrelful of the inflammable liquid in the tank on the upper
deck. Calling to the sailor to get the shore-boat ready, the Commodore
scooped up the fallen flour and cast it again on the fire. Distracted
Lady Fairweather suddenly rushed to her cabin and back again, and she
too wildly cast a shower of something white into the blaze. Then she
stood pale and speechless, all unconscious of the dainty, empty pink
box clasped in both hands, and of her own heroism in sacrificing her
complexion to save the houseboat. As it turned out, we had no need to
row ashore. With little or nothing to account for it, except the
perversity of gasoline, or perhaps the contents of the little pink box,
the flames with a final flare went out.

Then we took account of the situation. Flour was everywhere. Nautica
had eyebrows and hair singed, though she found that out only when she
got the flour off. It was hard to tell what was the matter with the
Commodore, or to take his troubles seriously. He had slightly scorched
hands of course. But then one forgot them in looking at his expressive
face made out of flour and soot, and in watching him spill breakfast
food and tapioca when he walked.

We never knew how the fire came to start, any more than how it came to
go out. When fairly presentable again, we went up on the upper deck to
find a cool place under the awning.

Evidently, we were adapting ourselves promptly to the ways of the
country. Having fires seems to have been one of the chief diversions in
old James Towne, and we had no sooner got to the island than we fell in
with the custom. It was not a good custom. Even with the fire out we
were in trouble; for Gadabout hadn't a piece of bread to her name, and
we had thrown on the fire the last bit of flour aboard. We were falling
in with more than one of the ways of the colonists--it was fire and
famine too.

The Commodore suggested that we send a message to the owner of the
island praying that a "Supply" be despatched to the starving new
colonists. But Nautica held that such an appeal should be made in
person; that the Commodore, like a true Captain John Smith, should
start out himself to get food for his famishing little colony.

Thus put upon his mettle, the Commodore, trailed by the sailor with his
basket, soon set off along the island road. Upon reaching the
neighbourhood of the church ruins he met an old negro.

"Mornin', suh." And the shapeless hat came off in a way that told that
this was a survival of the old school.

"Good morning, uncle. Can you tell me which way to go to find the big
house?"

"Yas, suh. I don' b'long heah myse'f, suh; but you see dat brick house
down de road yondah, what's done been burn down? Well, dat was de big
house, yas, suh. But it ain' no good to stop dere now, no, suh. You go
right on by, and de big house now is de firs' little house you comes
to."

According to these directions, the way was now along a road leading
down the island. It ran not far from the river bank and through grounds
having a border of trees skirting the water's edge. At last the "little
big" house was reached. All the members of the family were away for the
summer except one daughter who, with a friend from Richmond for
company, was in charge of the servants and managing the island.

The Commodore introduced himself and his sad story of fire and famine.
He explained that it would be two or three days before supplies could
be got from Norfolk, and darkly hinted at a new chapter of suffering
that might be added to the woeful history of the island unless
something were done at once. The gloomy picture did not seem to impress
the young woman very painfully, for her reply was a laughing one; but a
sack of flour went into the basket and a big loaf of bread besides.
Upon its coming out in the conversation that we wished to remain at our
anchorage for some time and should like to know of any limitations
placed upon visitors, the freedom of the island was most kindly
extended to us. The Commodore proudly returned with his supplies to the
houseboat.

"Saved by the Daughter of the Island!" exclaimed Lady Fairweather. And
by that name we came to speak of our benefactress.

After we had broken bread, borrowed bread and good too, another and
more successful attempt was made to go on the island. Our object was to
visit the old graveyard. Crossing again to the grove on the James River
side, we entered in among the shadows that enwrap the ruined church and
the crumbling tombs of the village dead. The graveyard, or what remains
of it, is coextensive with the grove. When most of the deserted church
crumbled and fell a hundred years ago, some of the bricks were used to
build a wall around the old burying-ground. Parts of it are standing
yet in picturesque, moss-covered ruins.

This time we found workmen engaged on the foundations for the memorial
building. So we were prevented from seeing satisfactorily some of the
tombs, as they were boxed over to protect them while this work was in
progress. However, the caretaker did all that he could for us.

Pitifully few are the stones remaining to mark the graves of that
vanguard of English colonization. For most who lie here, the last
record has crumbled away. Proud knight, proud lady, gentlemen,
gentlewomen, and unknown humble folk, in common brotherhood at last,
"dust to dust" and unmarked level ground above them.

One of the most notable of the remaining tombs is that of Lady Frances
Berkeley, who rests beneath the shadow of the great hackberry tree that
is said to have been brought over, a slender sapling, from England. But
a few parts of words remain on the broken stone, and the date is gone.
Though after the death of her husband, Sir William Berkeley, this lady
became Mrs. Philip Ludwell, yet she clung to the greater name and
insisted that her long sleep should be under its carven pomp.

[Illustration. A CORNER IN THE OLD GRAVEYARD.]

Peeping into a shed that temporarily covered the old chancel floor, we
caught a glimpse of the mysterious tomb of the island. It is an
ironstone tablet, once doubtless inlaid with brass, as the channellings
for the metal are yet clearly defined. They show a draped figure and
some smaller designs that have been taken as indications of knighthood,
and have led to the conjecture that this is the tomb of Sir George
Yeardley, governor of the Colony of Virginia, who died here in 1627. It
is said to be the only tomb of the kind in America. Evidently, the
stone has become somewhat displaced; for instead of being orientated as
it must once have been, it now lies almost north and south.

We were not able to see the grave of William Sherwood, that humble but
hopeful wrong-doer who lies under the chiselled words, "A Great sinner
Waiting for a joyfull Resurrection."

The old graveyard, like the hoary tower, awes the mind and touches the
heart. And this partly because of its pitiful littleness. A handful of
cracked and broken stones to tell of all that terrible harvest that
Death reaped in the ruined village! But perhaps they tell it all as
hosts of tombs could not do. One reads between the stones, then far out
beyond them where mouldering bones are feeding the smiling fields; and
there is borne in upon him the thought that our country had life
through so much of death that this whole island is a graveyard.

After leaving the old tombs, we crossed a roadway and entered a ruined
fort. In those few steps we made a long plunge down the years of
history, and passed far away from old James Towne. None of the
colonists ever saw those walls of earth. They are the remains of a
Confederate fort. But, modern as they are, they have done what they
could to put themselves in harmony with the ancientness all about. The
slopes are grass-grown and even tree-grown. Within the walls is the
caretaker's cottage in the midst of such a wealth of trees, flowering
shrubs, and vines as makes a greenwood retreat. The grass-grown
embrasures and the drooping branches over them form frames for river
views that seem set there in place of the rusty cannon pieces.

It was toward evening when we started back across the island,
houseboatward. We sauntered slowly at first, turning for a backward
glance at the old church tower and pausing again to look out over the
water at the island's outer sentinel, the "Lone Cypress." We paused yet
another time down where the marsh reeds lined the way. Grasping
handfuls of the coarse grass, the Commodore started to illustrate how
the colonists bound thatch, doubtless from that very marsh, to make
roofs for their flimsy cabins. But the marsh furnished something
besides grasses; and before the Commodore's explanation had gone far,
his auditors had gone farther. He valiantly slew the snake, the whole
six inches of it, and hastening forward found those more progressive
houseboaters safely ensconced in the shore-boat.

As the little skiff moved out upon the river, a carriage rattled across
the bridge. Sightseers who had driven over from Williamsburg were
returning. However satisfied they may have felt with their short visit,
we could only pity them. Yet such a visit, of a few hours at most, is
all that is possible here except for one who brings his home with him,
for there is no public house on the island. Stepping aboard Gadabout,
we congratulated ourselves that she enabled us to live indefinitely
right in the suburbs of old James Towne.

However, as days went on, Lady Fairweather became somewhat daunted by
the dire predictions of chills and fever as a result of our long lying
in the marshes; and one day she deserted the ship and sailed away on a
bigger one. We thought she was to be gone only a little while, but she
proved a real deserter and Gadabout saw no more of her to the end of
the cruise.

But chills and fever never came to Gadabout's household, though the
dog-day sun beat upon the waste of reeds and rushes about us and though
striped-legged mosquitoes were our nearest and most attentive
neighbours. Fortunately, the mosquitoes did not feel that hospitality
required them to call upon the strangers or to show them any attention
except in the evening. Even then they were more or less distant, rarely
coming into the houseboat, but lingering in a neighbourly way about
doors and windows, and whispering assurances of their regard through
some crossed wires that we happened to have there.

One of the chief causes of illness among the colonists, impure water,
we did not have to contend with. In the early days of James Towne, the
river was the only water supply; later, shallow wells were dug; both
the river and the wells furnished impure, brackish water. To-day, two
artesian wells are flowing on the island. As we got our supply from
them, we often thought of how those first settlers suffered and died
for want of pure water, when all the while this inexhaustible supply
lay imprisoned beneath their cornfields. But even the water from the
artesian wells we took the precaution to boil. So, pitting screens
against mosquitoes and the teakettle against water germs, we lived on,
chill-less and fever-less in the marshes of Back River.




CHAPTER VII

SEEING WHERE THINGS HAPPENED


We were fortunate in visiting Jamestown Island after considerable had
been accomplished in the way of lessening the number of its historic
sites. For a long while, almost every important event in its story had
occurred at so many different places that it was scarcely possible for
the pilgrim to do justice to them all.

But, some time before our visit to the island, an era of scientific
investigation set in; researches were made among old musty records; and
even the soil was turned up in order to determine the place where this
or that event really did happen. The reduction in the number of places
of interest was astonishing. In every instance, it was found that the
historic event in question had happened at but a single place; and
consequently all its other time-honoured sites suddenly became
unhistoric soil.

An instance or two will serve to illustrate.

Upon our visit to James Towne, we found that the site of the colonists'
first fort (long variously fixed at several points along the river
front) was now limited to a single spot near the caretaker's cottage;
so that all the brave fighting that had been going on at those other
sites, had been for nothing.

In like manner, it had long been well established that Pocahontas and
John Rolfe were married in the church whose tower is yet standing; also
in the brick and wood church that just preceded this one; also in a
rough timber church that just preceded that one. Each of these edifices
was the true, genuine scene of the romantic event.

But, under the new arrangement, we found only one church where Rolfe
and Pocahontas were married--just the old timber one. Indeed, in this
instance, the work of elimination seemed almost unduly rigorous. The
other churches were set aside upon circumstantial evidence merely;
there being nothing against them except that they were found to have
been built some years after the ceremony.

On the whole, however, the work of fixing sites authoritatively was
doubtless just. In any event, there was no opportunity for us to
protest; for by the time we got to the island, they had everything down
on a map in a book. We bought a copy of the book, and resolved to stage
by it the events of the James Towne story. We resolved also to be most
methodical from now on; and to "do" things as nearly as possible in the
same order as the colonists had done them.

So one morning we gathered up our authorities and started out to see
where the settlers first landed and where they first lived. According
to the map, that historic, first landing-place would be anything but a
landing-place to-day; for figure "25" (that was it) stood well out in
the river. The loss by erosion had been great along that part of the
shore since those first settlers arrived. But even though the
landing-place could not be seen, one could look out on the waters
anyway and see where it used to be.

At first we feared that there might be some trouble in telling where
the "25" on the map would be on the water. But it was a very simple
thing to do, largely owing to the thoughtfulness of the settlers in
landing almost opposite a jetty that runs out from the shore a little
above the Confederate fort.

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE CONFEDERATE FORT.]

[Illustration: LOOKING TOWARD THE FIRST LANDING-PLACE.]

Upon reaching the river front of the island, we took our bearings from
the map and walked slowly toward the water's edge, being careful not to
walk too far as the water's edge is so much closer in now than it used
to be. Going to the uppermost of the several jetties, we sighted along
it straight out over the water and kept on looking, in accordance with
the measurements on the map, until we had looked one hundred and
thirty-five yards; then, turned our eyes sharply to the right and
looked thirty-three and one third yards more. We then had the
satisfaction of feeling that the spot our eyes rested upon was, in
1607, on the shore of the island, and was the place where the original
settlers first landed. Nor was our satisfaction at all dampened by the
discovery that the spot was two spots--Nautica gazing spellbound at one
place, and the Commodore at another.

After all, it made very little difference, for the settlers did not
stay where they landed anyway.

They seem to have built their fort and their little settlement within
it about five hundred feet farther down stream and some distance back
from the shore. It was in the form of a triangle and had an area of
about an acre. Its entire site has been generally supposed to be washed
away, but the recent researches show that such is not the case. A
considerable part of it is left and is now safe behind a protecting
sea-wall. As, at the time of our visit, nothing marked this remnant of
the historic acre, we undertook to locate it. Fortunately, the
Confederate fort stands in such position as to help in running the
boundaries by the map. For a rough approximation, all we had to do was
to get Mr. Leal, the caretaker, to stand at the most westerly angle of
the fort, and his son on the sea-wall at the lower end of the fort, and
Henry on the sea-wall a hundred yards farther up stream; then, straight
lines connecting these three men enclosed all that is left of that
first little fortified settlement where Anglo-Saxon America began.
While the three men stood at the three corners, we took a photograph of
the historic bit of land; and long after they had gone we lingered
reflectively about it.

Here, in that spring of 1607, within the strong palisade, the settlers
built their first cabins. Here, Captain Newport left them, and sailed
back to England. Here, too, he found them again--a pitiful few of
them--when he returned the next winter with reinforcements for the
colony. By another winter, the palisaded village had extended somewhat,
mostly eastward. It then included, so far as we could make out, all the
land now within the Confederate fort and probably also the site of the
present ruined church and graveyard. Upon this little four-acre
settlement hung the destiny of a hemisphere for the next few years.

[Illustration: LOCATING WHAT IS LEFT OF THE SITE OF THE FIRST
SETTLEMENT.]

We trudged about within the old town limits and tried to picture the
chief events of those years; but we could not remember what they were;
so we sat down on the grassy fort, regardless of ticks and redbugs, to
read up some more. For a while there was no sound but the twitter of
the birds and the murmur of the river. Then the Commodore found
something in his book, and he began very solemnly to tell of how on
that very spot the colonists endured the horrors of the "Starving
Time." At this there was such a genuine exclamation of pleasure from
Nautica that the Commodore knew he was too late; she had not even
heard. She had found something in her book too, and was already
announcing that it was right there that John Rolfe and Pocahontas were
married.

But the Commodore insisted that his story came first, as Nautica's
romantic event was not until 1614, while his famine was in 1609-10.
Nautica sighed resignedly as she agreed that we should starve first and
get married afterward.

After all, we found that we could not speak lightly, sitting there in
the midst of the scene of the "Starving Time." By the winter of 1609-10
there were perhaps five hundred persons in this little settlement by
the river, including now, unfortunately, some women and children. When
there was no more corn, the people managed for a while to keep alive on
roots and herbs; then, half-crazed by starvation, they fell to
cannibalism. Gaunt, desperate, de-humanized, they crouched about the
kettle that held their own dead. A Bible fed the flames, cast in by a
poor wretch as he cried, "Alas! there is no God!"

The succeeding spring brought two ships, a belated portion of one of
the "Supplies." But sixty of the five hundred colonists were found
alive--sixty haggard men, women, and children, hunger-crazed, huddled
behind the broken palisades. Sadly suggestive must have seemed the
names of the two vessels that appeared upon that awful scene--Patience
and Deliverance. But the deliverance that they brought was of a poor
sort. They had not on board provisions enough to last a month.

It was decided that it was vain for the colony to try to hold out
longer. James Towne, upon which so much blood and treasure had been
spent and that had seemed at last to give England a hold in the New
World, must be abandoned. To the roll of drums, the remnant of the
colony boarded the vessels, sails were set, and the little ships
dropped down the river bound for far-away England.

The last sail passed around the bend in the stream, and only a desolate
blotch in the wilderness was left to tell of England's attempt to
colonize America; only a great gash in the forest, there in the quiet
and the sunlight, at the edge of the river. Within it were the
shapeless ruins of those queer things the pale-faces had made--broken
palisades, yawning houses, the tottering thing they called a church;
and, all about, the hideous, ghastly traces of living and of dying. The
sun went down; and, in the gloom of the summer night, from the forest
and the marsh wild things came creeping to the edge of the clearing,
sat peering there, then ventured nearer--curious, suspicious, greedy.
Soft, noiseless, and ghost-like was the flight of the great owl through
the desolation, and his uncanny cry and the wail of the whippoorwill
filled the night as with mockery and mourning.

Quick, startling, and almost miraculous was the next change in the
scene: a change from the emptiness of desolation to the bustling
fulness of life and colour--the harbour dotted with ships, the little
village crowded with people, James Towne alive again. For even in the
dark hour of abandonment, it was not destined that the settlement
should perish. Even as the colonists sailed down the James, a fleet
bearing reinforcements and stores of supplies was entering the mouth of
the river. The settlers were turned back; and following them came the
fleet, bringing to deserted James Towne not only new colonists, but
pomp, ceremony, and the stately, capable new governor, Lord Delaware.

"He was the one who went to church with so much show and flourish,
wasn't he?" asked Nautica.

"Yes," answered the Commodore confidently, as he happened to have his
book open at the right page. "Lord Delaware attended the little church
in the wilderness in all state, accompanied by his council and guarded
by fifty halberd bearers wearing crimson cloaks. He sat in a green
velvet chair and--"

"Where do you think that church was?" interrupted Nautica.

"Right near here. They say it stood about a hundred yards above the
later one whose ruins are over there in the graveyard. And in that
church Lord Delaware and his council--"

"Yes," Nautica broke in again. "That was the church that they were
married in--John Rolfe and Pocahontas."

"To be sure," said the Commodore. "Let the wedding bells ring. It is
time now for the ceremony."

And a strange ceremony it must have been that the little timber church
saw that April day in the year 1614, when the young colonist of good
English family linked his fate with that of the dark-skinned girl of
the tepee. It was the first marriage of Englishman and Indian in the
colony, and meant much to the struggling settlers in furthering
peaceful relations with the savages. Speaking in the society-column
vernacular of a later day, the occasion was marred by the absence of
the bride's father. The wary old chieftain was not willing to place
himself within the power of the English. But the bride's family was
represented by two of her brothers and by her old uncle, Opachisco, who
gave her away. Other red men were present. Doubtless the governor of
the colony, Sir Thomas Dale, who much approved the marriage, added a
touch of official dignity by attending the ceremony resplendent in
uniform and accompanied by colonial officials.

It was a strange wedding, party. While the minister (Was it the
Reverend Richard Buck or the good Alexander Whittaker?) read the
marriage service of the Church of England, the eyes of haughty cavalier
and of impassive savage met above the kneeling pair and sought to read
each other. And a strange fate hung over the pale-face groom and the
dusky bride--that in her land and by her people he should be slain;
that in his land and among his people she should die and find a lonely
grave beside an English river.

"That is just one marriage that you have been so interested in, isn't
it?" The Commodore's tone was one to provoke inquiry.

"Just one?" repeated Nautica, "Why, to be sure, unless it takes two
weddings to marry two people."

"Just one wedding," persisted the Commodore. "Now, I am interested in
dozens and dozens of weddings that happened right here, and all in one
day."

There were several things the matter with James Towne from the outset.
Prominent among them was the absence of women and children. After a
while a few colonists with families arrived; but, to introduce the home
element more generally into the colony, "young women to make wives
ninety" came from England in 1619. The scene upon their arrival must
have been one of the most unique in the annals of matrimony. The
streets of James Towne were undoubtedly crowded. The little capital had
bachelors enough of her own, but now she held also those that came
flocking in from the other settlements of the colony. The maids were
not to be compelled to marry against their choice; and they were so
outnumbered by their suitors that they could do a good deal of picking
and choosing. With rusty finery and rusty wooing, the bachelor
colonists strove for the fair hands that were all too few, and there
was many a rejected swain that day.

We might have forgotten the other important events that had happened
round about where we were sitting, in that first little town by the
river, if a coloured man had not wandered our way. He had driven some
sightseers over from Williamsburg, and while waiting for them to visit
the graveyard, he seemed to find relief in confiding to us some of his
burden of colonial lore and that his name was Cornelius. We had over
again the story of Rolfe and Pocahontas, but it seemed not at all
wearisome, for the new version was such a vast improvement upon the one
that we got out of the books. However, his next statement eclipsed the
Pocahontas story.

"De firs' time folks evah meek dey own laws for dey se'fs was right
heah, suh, right in dat ole chu'ch."

While again facts could not quite keep up with Cornelius, yet it was
true that our little four-acre town had seen the beginnings of American
self-government. So early did the spirit of home rule assert itself,
that it bore fruit in 1619, when a local lawmaking body was created,
called the General Assembly and consisting in part of a House of
Burgesses chosen by the people. On July 30 of that year, the General
Assembly met in the village church--the first representative
legislature in America. The place of meeting was not, as is often
stated, the church in which Rolfe and Pocahontas were married, but its
successor--the earliest of the churches whose ruined foundations are
yet to be seen behind the old tower.

Perhaps our thoughts had wandered some from Cornelius, but he brought
them back again.

"Dey set in de chu'ch an' meek de laws wid dey hats on," he asserted.

And as the House of Burgesses had indeed followed in this respect the
custom of the English House of Commons, we were glad to see Cornelius
for once in accord with other historians.

Then, Nautica spoke of how the very year that saw the beginning of free
government in America saw the beginning of slavery too; and she asked
Cornelius if he knew that the first coloured people were brought to
America in 1619 and landed there at James Towne.

"Yas'm; ev'ybody tole me 'bout dat. Seem like we got heah 'bout as soon
as de white folks."

It was a comfortable view to take of the matter, and we would not
disturb it.

Cornelius told us other things.

"Dis, now, is de off season for touris'," he explained. "We has two
mos' reg'lar seasons, de spring an' de fall, yas, suh. I drives right
many ovah heah from Willi'msburg. I's pretty sho to git hol' of de bes'
an' de riches'. An' I reckon I knows 'bout all dere is to be knowed
'bout dis firs' settlemen'. I's got it all so's I kin talk it off an'
take in de extry change. I don' know is you evah notice, but folks is
mighty diffrunt 'bout seem' dese ole things. Yas, suh, dey sut'n'y is.
Some what I drives jes looks at de towah an' nuver gits out de ker'ige;
an' den othahs jes peers into ev'ythin'. Foh myse'f, now, I nuver keers
much 'bout dese ole sceneries; but den I reckon I would ef I was rich."




CHAPTER VIII

PIONEER VILLAGE LIFE


That first little four-acre James Towne, located in the neighbourhood
of the present Confederate fort, soon outgrew its palisades. In what
may be called its typical days, the village stretched in a straggling
way for perhaps three quarters of a mile up and down the river front,
and with outlying parts reaching across the island to Back River. It
usually consisted of a church, a few public buildings, about a score of
dwellings, and perhaps a hundred people.

One of the principal streets (if James Towne's thoroughfares could be
called streets) ran close along the water front. While it must once
have had some shorter name, it has come down in the records as "the way
along the Greate River." Here and there traces of this highway can
still be found; and the mulberry trees now standing along the river
bank are supposed to be descendants of those that bordered the old
village highway. Next came Back Street upon which some prominent people
seem to have lived. Apparently leading across the head of the island
from the town toward the isthmus was the "old Greate Road." There still
appear some signs of this also near the graveyard. Besides these
highways there were several lanes and cart-paths.

The eastward extension of the village, called New Towne, was the
principal part. It was the fashionable and official quarter. Here lived
many "people of qualitye." Royal governors and ex-governors, knights
and members of the Council had their homes along the river front, where
they lived in all the state that they could transplant from "London
Towne."

The buildings, in the early days of wood and later of brick, were
plainly rectangular. The later ones were usually two stories high with
steep-pitched roofs. Some of the dwellings, or dwellings and public
buildings, were built together in rows to save in the cost of
construction. Probably most of the homes had "hort yards" and gardens.
The colonists were not content with having about them the native
flowers and fruits and those that they brought from England; but they
made persistent efforts for years to grow in their gardens oranges,
lemons, pomegranates, and pineapples.

Usually there was not much going on in old James Towne, but
periodically the place was enlivened by the sessions of the General
Assembly and of the Court. At such times the planters and their
following gathered in; and then doubtless there were stirring days in
the village capital of "His Majesty's Colony of Virginia." Barges of
the river planters were tied alongshore, and about the "tavernes" were
horses, carts and a very few more pretentious vehicles. Many of the
people on the streets were in showy dress; though only the governor,
councillors, and heads of "Hundreds" were allowed to wear gold on their
clothes.

James Towne, in her later days, seems to have had a "taverne" or two
even when she had scarcely anything else; and doubtless these
"alehouses" were the centres of life in those bustling court and
assembly days. For not only was deep drinking a trait of the times, but
many of the sessions both of the Assembly and of the Court were held in
the "tavernes." Three or four State-houses were built; but with almost
suspicious regularity they burned down, and homeless Assembly and Court
betook themselves and the affairs of the colony to the inns. There, in
the ruddy glow of the great fireplaces, the judges could sit
comfortably and dispense justice tempered with spirits.

So life in James Towne went on until the village had completed almost a
hundred years of existence. But this was accomplished only by the most
strenuous efforts. When at last, in 1699, the long struggle was given
up and the seat of government was removed to Williamsburg, nothing but
utter dissolution was left for James Towne.

The fated little village had played its part. Through untold suffering
and a woeful cost of human life, it had fought on until England
obtained a firm hold in America--a hold that was to make the New World
essentially Anglo-Saxon. Then this pioneer colony's mission was ended.
It was not destined to have any place in the great nation that its
struggle had made possible. One by one the lights in the poor little
windows flickered and went out. The deserted hearthstones grew cold.
Abandoned and forgotten, the pitiful hamlet crumbled away.

James Towne dead, the island gradually fell into fewer hands until it
became, as it is to-day, the property of a single owner; simply a
plantation like any other. And yet, how unlike! Even were every vestige
of that pioneer settlement gone forever, memory would hold this island
a place apart. But all is not gone. Despite decay and the greedy river,
there yet remains to us a handful of ruins of vanished James Towne.
Despite a nation's shameful neglect, time has spared to her some relics
of the community that gave her birth--a few broken tombs and the
crumbling, tower of the old village church. Every year come many of our
people to look upon these ancient ruins and to pause in the midst of
hurried lives to recall again their story.

[Illustration: AN EXCURSION DAY AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND.]




CHAPTER IX

GOOD-BYE TO OLD JAMES TOWNE


Two or three times we ran the houseboat around in front of the island.
On one occasion we took the notion to stop at places of interest along
the way. Upon coming out from Back River, we spent some time poking
about in the water for the old-time isthmus. We were not successful at
first and almost feared that, after raising it for our own selfish
purposes some days before, we had let it go down again in the wrong
place.

This troubled us the more because we had hoped to settle a vexed
question as to how wide an isthmus had once connected the island with
the mainland. Nautica insisted that the width had been ten paces
because a woman, Mrs. An. Cotton, who once lived near James Towne, had
said so. But the Commodore pointed out that we had never seen Mrs.
Cotton, and that we did not know whether she was a tall woman or a
little dumpy woman; and so could not have the slightest idea of how far
ten paces would carry her. On his part, he pinned his faith to the
statement of Strachey, a man who had lived in James Towne and who had
said that the isthmus was no broader than "a man will quaite a
tileshard." But this Nautica refused to accept as satisfactory because
we did not know what a "tileshard" was nor how far a man would "quaite"
one. So we were naturally anxious to see which of us was right.

[Illustration: GADABOUT LOOKING FOR THE LOST ISTHMUS.]

[Illustration: A VISIT TO THE "LONE CYPRESS."]

After a while we found traces of the isthmus. And the matter turned out
just as most disputes will, if both parties patiently wait until the
facts are all in--that is, both sides were right. The soundings showed
the isthmus to shelve off so gradually at the sides that we found we
could put the stakes, marking its edges, almost any distance apart. So,
the width across the isthmus could very well be ten of Mrs. Cotton's
paces, no matter what sort of a woman she was; and it could just as
well be the distance that "a man will quaite a tileshard," be a
tileshard what it may.

Now, coasting along the end of the island, we had designs on the "Lone
Cypress" for a sort of novel sensation. We approached the hoary old
sentinel carefully, for it would be a sin to even bark its shaggy
sides; and, dropping a rope over a projecting broken "knee," we enjoyed
a striking object lesson on the effects of erosion. In several feet of
water, and nearly three hundred feet from land, our houseboat was tied
to a tree; tied to a tree that a hundred years before stood on the
shore--a tree that likely, in the early days of the colony (for who
knows the age of the "Lone Cypress"?), stood hundreds of yards back on
the island. But it may never be farther from shore than we found it;
for there, glistening in the sunshine, stood the sea-wall holding the
hungry river at bay.

Carefully slipping our rope from the tree, we let the tide carry us out
a little way before starting an engine. Then, bidding goodbye to the
old cypress, we moved on along the shore. We were aware from our map of
ancient holdings that we were ruthlessly cutting across lots over the
colonial acres of one Captain Edward Ross; but, seeing neither dogs nor
trespass signs, we sailed right on. The Captain would not have to
resort to irrigation on his lands to-day.

While dawdling about this submerged portion of old James Towne, we
thought we would make a stop at the spot where those first settlers
landed. After consulting the map, we manoeuvred the houseboat so as to
enable us to do some rough sort of triangulation with the compass, and
finally dropped anchor, satisfied that we were at the historic spot,
even though it was too wet to get out and look for the footprints. And
there, well out on the yellow waters of the James, Gadabout lay lazily
in the sunshine where Sarah Constant was once tied to the bank; where
those first settlers stepped ashore; where America began.

After following the island a little farther down stream, we cast anchor
in a hollow of the shore-line near the steamboat pier. It was not much
of a hollow after all and really formed no harbour. When the west wind
came howling down the James, picking up the water for miles and hurling
it at Gadabout, our only consolation lay in knowing that it could not
have done that if we had only got there two or three centuries earlier.
At that time, the point, or headland, upon which the colonists landed
reached out and protected this shallow bay below. Doubtless, throughout
James Towne days, the smaller vessels found fair harbour where Gadabout
one night rolled many of her possessions into fragments, and her proud
commander into something very weak and wan and unhappy.

In the last few years, there has been an awakening of interest in
long-forgotten James Towne. To Mrs. Edward E. Barney for her generous
gift of the southwest corner of the island to the Association for the
Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and to that Society for its work
in staying the course of decay and the hand of vandalism, our country
is indebted.

The recent researches of Mr. Samuel H. Yonge too have added new
interest. It had long been supposed that almost the entire site of the
ancient village was lost in the river. Mr. Yonge has shown that in fact
but a small part of it is gone. He has even located on the island the
exact sites of so many of the more important village buildings that, it
is said, old James Towne could be practically reproduced in wood and
brick from his map, based upon the ancient records.

To verify his work, Mr. Yonge undertook (in 1903) to discover the
buried ruins of a certain row of buildings that the records described
as made up of a State-house, a "country house," and three dwellings.
The search was begun with a steel probe, which struck the hidden
foundations within twenty-five feet of their position as indicated on
his plat. Then the Association began excavating; the foundations were
uncovered, and are now among the things to see on the island.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXCAVATIONS.]

[Illustration: HUNTING FOR THE FIRST STATE HOUSE.]

As Mr. Yonge's map shows the larger part of the site of James Towne to
be lying to the east of the church tower and outside of the A.P.V.A.
grounds, the Daughter of the Island was interested too in seeing what
probe and pick and shovel could do.

It was at one of James Towne's old homes that we next met her. The
meeting, judging from our map of the village, was probably at Captain
Roger Smith's, though one could not be sure. There was no name on the
door, nor indeed any door to put a name on, nor indeed any house to put
a door on--just an ancient basement that the Daughter of the Island had
discovered and was having cleaned out. It badly needed it, nothing of
the kind having been done perhaps for over two hundred years.

"Come and see my find," she cried.

The testing probe having struck something that indicated a buried
foundation, there in the black pea field, this young antiquarian had
put men at work and was being rewarded by finding the ruins of some
ancient house. Portions of two rooms had been disclosed and the
stairway leading down into one of them.

"Come down the stairs," said the proud lady in the cellar.

"Oh, what narrow steps!" Nautica exclaimed.

"They used to build out those brick treads with wood to make them
wider," explained our hostess. "You can see where the wooden parts have
been burned away."

The two rooms were paved with brick, and in one a chimney-place had
come to light. Everywhere were bits of charred wood. Did no place in
James Towne escape the scourge of fire? A kitten came springing over
the mounds of excavated earth and began to prowl about the old
fireplace. Except for a skittish pebble that she chased across the
empty front, she found nothing of interest; no hint of savoury odours
from the great spit over the blazing logs that may have caused a James
Towne cat to sit and gaze and sniff some two centuries or more ago.

But we suddenly left the frivolous kitten upon being told of what had
been found in the other room just before we came. It was a heavy
earthen pot sunk below the floor. We crouched about it with great
interest, chiefly because we did not know what it was for. Perhaps it
was merely to collect the drainage. Anyway it was not what the Daughter
of the Island had fondly thought when it was first uncovered.

"I was sure," she laughed, "that I had found a pot of money."

Standing down there in the ruins we wondered what was the story of the
old house. What feet had trod those paved floors? What had those walls
seen and known of being and loving, of hopes and fears, of joys and
griefs, of life and death? Of all this the uncovered ruin told nothing.

While we were at the island, three or four excavations were made and we
watched them all with interest. When the steel probe had located the
ruin, the digging and the excitement began. Slowly the buried walls
came to light. Within the walls was usually a mass of debris to be
thrown out--bricks of various sizes, shapes, and colours; cakes of the
ancient shell lime; pieces of charred wood, and relics of all sorts.
Some of the bricks were quite imperfectly made and had a greenish hue.
We supposed them to be the oldest ones and to have been baked or dried
in the sun before the colonists had kilns. Some of them had
indentations that were evidently finger imprints.

"I wants to fin' dey ole papahs," said big John, digging heartily. "Dis
hyer is a histoyacal ole place; an' I rathah fin' a box of dey ole
papahs than three hunderd dollahs."

Among the coloured people was an unquenchable hope of finding a pot
full of money.

It was a most interesting experience to sit in the brick rubbish and
watch for the queer little relics that were thrown out now and then. No
great finds were made, but the small ones did very well. There appeared
an endless number of pieces of broken pottery; and the design of a blue
dog chasing a blue fox was evidently a popular one for such ware in
James Towne.

But where was the blue dog's head? The question grew to be an absorbing
one. Each handful of dirt began or ended with a wrong piece of the blue
dog mixed with bits of brass and iron and pottery that brought vividly
to mind the scenes and the folk of that vanished village. Handful after
handful of dirt ran through our ringers like hourglass sands of ancient
days, and the clicking relics were left in our hands in the quest of
the blue dog's head.

And this was the way things went. A piece of a bowl bearing most of the
blue dog's tail; a woman's spur, gilt and broken, worn when merry eyes
peeped through silken riding masks; a bit of Indian pottery with
basketry marks upon it; a blue fox and the fore legs of the blue dog; a
shoe-buckle, silver too--must have been people of "qualitye" here; a
piece of a cream white cup that may have been a "lily pot" such as the
colonist kept his pipe tobacco in; pieces and pieces of the blue dog,
but never a bit of a head; a tiny red pipe and a piece of a white
one--so that must have been a "lily pot"; a door key, some rusty
scissors, and a blue head--of the fox; glass beads, blue beads, such as
John Smith told Powhatan were worn by great kings, thus obtaining a
hundred bushels of corn for a handful of the beads; a pewter spoon, a
bent thimble, and a whole blue dog--no, his miserable head was off.

We never became discouraged and are quite sure yet that we should have
found the blue dog's head if we could have gone on searching. But by
this time the summer was waning, and on up the river was much yet for
Gadabout to see. It was a long visit that we had made at the island,
yet one that had grown in interest as in days. Indeed only in the
passing of many days could such interest come--could old James Towne so
seem to live again.

Lingeringly we had dreamed along its forgotten ways, by its ruined
hearthstones, and among its nameless tombs; and so dreaming had seemed
to draw close to the little old-time hamlet and to the scenes of hope
and of fear, of joy and of despair, that had marked the planting of our
race in America. Now, on the last evening of our stay at the island, we
walked again the familiar paths; looked for the hundredth time down the
great brown river that had borne our people to this place of beginning;
stood once more beside the graveyard wall; then started toward the
houseboat, turning for a last look at the broken church tower and to
bid good night and good-bye to old James Towne.




CHAPTER X

A SHORT SAIL AND AN OLD ROMANCE


Next day, bustling about with making all things shipshape, we could
scarcely realize that we were actually getting under way again. But
when our mooring-lines were hauled in, Gadabout backed away from her
old friend, the bridge, swung around in the narrow marsh-channel, and
soon carried us from Back River out into the James.

And by this time how impressed we had become with the significance of
that wide, brown flood--that Nestor of American rivers! When is the
James to find its rightful place in American song and story? Our oldest
colonial waterway--upon whose banks the foundations of our country were
laid, along whose shores our earliest homes and home-sites can still be
pointed out--and yet almost without a place in our literature. Other
rivers, historically lesser rivers, have had their stories told again
and again, their beauties lauded, and their praises sung. But this
great pioneer waterway, fit theme for an ode, is to-day our unsung
river.

Gadabout, with the wind in her favour and all the buoys leaning her
way, made good progress. It was not long before we were looking back
catching the last glimpses of the white sea-wall of Jamestown Island.

We now were on our way to pick up other bits of the river story, and
especially those concerning the peculiar colonial home life on the
James. When tobacco culture, with its ceaseless demand for virgin soil,
led many of the colonists to abandon James Towne and to build up great
individual estates, each estate had to have its water front; and old
Powhatan became lined on both sides with vast plantations. Later, the
lands along other rivers were similarly occupied. So pronounced was the
development of plantation life that it affected, even controlled, the
character of the colony and determined the type of civilization in
Virginia.

The great estates became so many independent, self-sufficient
communities--almost kingdoms. Each had its own permanent population
including, besides slaves and common labourers, many mechanics,
carpenters, coopers, and artisans of various kinds. An unbroken water
highway stretched from each plantation wharf to the wharves of London.
Directly from his own pier, each planter shipped his tobacco to
England; and in return there was unloaded upon his own pier the
commodities needed for his plantation community.

Thus was established the peculiar type of Virginia society, the
aristocracy of planters, that dotted the Old Dominion with lordly
manor-houses and filled them with gay, ample life--a life almost feudal
in its pride and power. In this day of our nation's tardy awakening to
an appreciation of its colonial homes, a particular interest attaches
to these old Virginia mansions, once the centres of those proud little
principalities in the wilderness.

And the particular interest of Gadabout's people, as Jamestown Island
faded from sight, attached to a few of the earliest and most typical of
those colonial homes that we knew yet stood on the banks of the "King's
River." From kindly responses to our notes of inquiry, we also knew
that long-suffering Virginia courtesy was not yet quite exhausted, and
that it still swung wide the doors of those old manor-houses to even
the passing stranger. Our next harbour was to be Chippoak Creek, which
empties into the river about twelve miles above Jamestown Island. There
we should be near two or three colonial homes including the well-known
Brandon.

It seemed good to be under way again. There was music in the chug of
our engines and in the purl of the water about our homely bows. The
touch of the wind in our faces was tonic, and we could almost persuade
ourselves that there was fragrance in the occasional whiffs of
gasoline.

We soon came to an opening in the shore to starboard where the James
receives one of its chief tributaries, the Chickahominy, memorable for
its association with the first American romance. Though the tale is
perhaps a trifle hackneyed, yet the duty of every good American is to
listen whenever it is told. So here it is.

Of course the hero was Captain John Smith. How that man does brighten
up the record of those old times! Well, one day the Captain with a
small party from James Towne was hunting in the marshes of the
Chickahominy for food, or adventure, or the South Sea, or something,
and some Indians were hunting there also; and the Indians captured the
Captain. They took him before the great chief Powhatan; and as John lay
there, with a large stone under his head and some clubs waving above
him, the general impression was that he was going to die. But that was
not John's way in those days; he was always in trouble but he never
died. Suddenly, just as the clubs were about to descend, soft arms were
about the Captain's head, and Pocahontas, the favourite daughter of the
old chief, was pleading for the ever-lucky Smith. The dramatic
requirements of the case were apparent to everybody. Powhatan spared
the pale-face; and our country had its first romance.

To be sure, some people say that all this never happened. Indeed the
growing skepticism about this precious bit of our history, this
international romance that began in the marshes of the Chickahominy, is
our chief reason for repeating it here. It is time for the story to be
told by those who can vouch for it--those who have actually seen the
river that flows by the marshes that the Captain was captured in.

On we went with tide, wind, and engines carrying us up the James.
Dancing Point reached sharply out as if to intercept us. But the owner
of those strong dark hands that happened to be at the wheel knew the
story of Dancing Point--of how many an ebony Tam O'Shanter had seen
ghostly revelry there; and Gadabout was held well out in the river.

Again, how completely we had the James to ourselves! We thought of how,
even back in those old colonial days, our little craft would have had
more company. Here, with slender bows pushing down stream, the Indian
canoes went on their way to trade with the settlers at James Towne;
their cargoes varying with the seasons--fish from their weirs in the
moon of blossoms, and, in the moon of cohonks, limp furred and
feathered things and reed-woven baskets of golden maize. Returning, the
red men would have the axes, hatchets, and strange articles that the
pale-faces used, and the cherished "blew" beads that the Cape Merchant
had given them in barter.

Here sailed the little shallops of the colonists as they explored and
charted this unknown land. A few years later and, with rhythmic sway of
black bodies and dip of many oars, came the barges of the river
planters. Right royally came the lords of the wilderness--members of
the Council perhaps, and in brave gold-laced attire--dropping down with
the ebb tide to the tiny capital in the island marshes. And up the
stream came ships from "London Towne," spreading soft white clouds of
canvas where sail was never seen before; and carrying past the naked
Indian in his tepee the sweet-scented powders and the rose brocade that
the weed of his peace-pipe had bought for the Lady of the Manor.

Now, Gadabout began to sidle toward the port bank of the river as our
next harbour, Chippoak Creek, was on that side. Here the shore grew
steep; and at one point high up we caught glimpses of the little
village of Claremont. At its pier lay a three-masted schooner and
several barges and smaller boats. Along the water's edge were mills,
their steam and smoke drifting lazily across the face of the bluffs.

On a little farther, we came to the mouth of Chippoak Creek with the
bluffs of Claremont on one hand, the sweeping, wooded shores of Brandon
on the other, and, in between, a beautiful expanse of water, wide
enough for a river and possibly deep enough for a heavy dew. We
scurried for chart and sounding-pole. Following the narrow, crooked
channel indicated on the chart, we worked our way well into the mouth
of the stream and cast anchor near a point of woods. From the chart we
could tell that somewhere beyond that forest wall, over near the bank
of the river, was the old manor-house that we had come chiefly to
see--Brandon, one of America's most noted colonial homes.

Next morning we were ready for a visit to Brandon. But first, we had to
let the sailor make a foraging trip to the village. One of the troubles
about living in a home that wanders on the waters, is that each time
you change anchorage you must hunt up new places for getting things and
getting things done.

While it is charming to drop anchor every now and then in a snug, new
harbour, where Nature, as she tucks you in with woodland green, has
smiles and graces that you never saw before, yet the houseboater soon
learns that each delightful, new-found pocket in the watery world means
necessity for several other new-found things. There must be a new-found
washerwoman, and new-found somebodies who can supply meats, eggs,
vegetables, ice, milk, and water--the last two separate if possible.
True, the little harbour is beautiful; but as you lie there day after
day watching waving trees and rippling water, the soiled-clothes bags
are growing fatter; and then too, even in the midst of beauty, one
wearies of a life fed wholly out of tin cans.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO CHIPPOAK CREEK.]

[Illustration: COVE IN CHIPPOAK CREEK.]

Henry was a good forager; and we were confident, as his strong strokes
carried him from the houseboat shoreward, that he would soon put us in
touch with all the necessary sources of supply, so that in the
afternoon we could make our visit to the old manor-house. And he did
not fail us. His little boat came back well loaded, and he bore the
welcome news that "Sally" (whoever she might be) would take the
washing.

But now, a matter of religion got in between us and Brandon. A launch
came down the creek; and, as we were nearly out of gasoline, the
Commodore hailed the craft and made inquiry as to where we could get
some. One of the two men aboard proved to deal in gasoline, and
appeared to be the only one about who did. He had some of it then on
the pier at Claremont; and would sell it any day in the week except
Saturday. The rather puzzling exception he explained by saying that he
was a Seventh-day Adventist. To be sure, it was then only Thursday; but
as it seemed making up for bad weather that might prevent our running
down to the pier next day, we arranged to take on a barrel of the
gasoline that afternoon.

We started after a rather late dinner; and ran back down the river to
where we had seen the schooner and the barges the day before. Just as
the Commodore made a nice, soft-bump landing at the pier, a man
informed him that the gasoline had been carried to the Adventist's mill
by mistake. So, we cast off our ropes again, and went farther down to
where the little mills steamed away at the foot of the bluffs.

Off shore, several sloops and rowboats were tied to tall stakes in the
water. We went as close to shore as we dared; and Gadabout crept
cautiously up to one of the stakes, so as not to knock it over, and was
tied to it. Then, the Commodore went ashore and arranged to have the
gasoline brought out to us.

Presently, two negroes rolled the barrel into a lighter. They poled
their awkward craft out to Gadabout and made fast to a cleat. It took a
long time to pump the gasoline into cans, and then to strain it into
our tank on the upper deck. The day was about over. Relinquishing our
plan of visiting Brandon, we ran back to our Chippoak harbour, and our
anchor went to bed in the creek as the sun went down.




CHAPTER XI

AT THE PIER MARKED "BRANDON"


It was late on the following afternoon when Gadabout was out of the
creek, out in the river, and bound for the little pier marked
_Brandon_.

A belated steamboat was swashing down stream, and a schooner, having
but little of wind and less of tide to help it along, was rocking
listlessly in the long swell. In the shadow of the slack sails a man
sprawled upon the schooner's deck, while against the old-fashioned
tiller another leaned lazily.

Gadabout had to make quite a detour to get around some shad-net poles
before she could head in toward the Brandon wharf; and her roundabout
course gave time for a thought or two upon the famous old river
plantation.

Starting but a few years after those first colonists landed at
Jamestown Island, the story of Brandon is naturally a long one. But,
working on the scale of a few words to a century, we may get the gist
of it in here.

Among those first settlers was one Captain John Martin, a considerable
figure of those days and a member of the Council appointed by the King
for the government of the colony. He seems to have been the only man
who believed in holding on at James Towne after the horrors of the
"Starving Time." He made vigorous protest when the settlers took to the
ships and abandoned the settlement.

About 1616, he secured a grant of several thousand acres of land in the
neighbourhood of this creek that we were now lying in, and the estate
became known as Brandon--Martin's Brandon. The terms of the grant were
so unusually favourable that they came near making the Captain a little
lord in the wilderness. He was to "enjoye his landes in as large and
ample manner to all intentes and purposes as any Lord of any Manours in
England dothe holde his grounde." And he certainly started out to do
it.

But soon the General Assembly attacked the lordly prerogatives of the
owner of Martin's Brandon. It did not relish the idea of making laws
for everybody in the colony except John Martin, and he was requested to
relinquish certain of his high privileges. This he refused to do,
saying, "I hold my patente for my service don, which noe newe or late
comers can meritt or challenge." After a while, however, he was induced
to surrender the objectionable "parte of his patente," and manorial
Brandon became like any other great estate in the colony.

After several changes of ownership, Brandon came into the possession of
another prominent colonial family, the Harrisons. The founder of this
Virginia house (the various branches of which have given us so many men
prominent in our colonial and national life) was Benjamin Harrison, one
of the early settlers, a large land holder, and a member of the
Council. His son Benjamin (also a man of position in the colony and a
member of the Council) was probably the first of the family to hold
lands at Brandon.

But it was not until the third generation that the Harrisons became
thoroughly identified with the two great plantations that have ever
since been associated with the name; Benjamin Harrison, the third,
acquiring Berkeley, and his brother Nathaniel completing the
acquisition of the broad acres of Brandon. Berkeley passed to strangers
many years ago; but Brandon has come down through unbroken succession
from the Harrisons of over two centuries ago to the Harrisons of
to-day.

That makes a great many Harrisons. And as it happened, while Gadabout
was on her way that day to visit their ancestral home, a genealogical
chart with its maze of family ramifications was lying on a table in the
forward cabin, and Henry saw it.

"King's sake!" he exclaimed. "That must be the host they couldn't
count. Don't you know John say how he saw a host no man could number?
That's cert'nly them!"

As we approached the Brandon pier, we saw a man on it who proved to be
the gardener and who helped to handle our ropes as we made our landing.
Then, with the aid of a beautiful collie, he led us up the slope toward
the still invisible homestead.

Entering the wooded grounds through quaint, old-fashioned gateways, we
followed our guide along a trail that topped the river bluff, where
honeysuckle ran riot in the shrubbery and tumbled in confusion to the
beach below. The trail ended in a cleared spot on the crest of the
bluff--a river lookout, where one could rest upon the rustic seat and
enjoy the ever-varying picture of water, sky, and shore.

[Illustration: RIVERWARD FRONT OF BRANDON.]

But we turned our backs upon it all, for to us it was not yet Brandon.
Now, our course lay directly away from the river along a broad avenue
of yielding turf, straight through an aged garden. Above were the
arching boughs of giant trees; below and all about, a wealth of
old-fashioned bloom. The sunlight drifted through shadowing
fringe-trees, mimosas, magnolias, and oaks. Hoary old age marked the
garden in the breadth of the box, in the height of the slow-growing
yews, and in the denseness of the ivy that swathed the great-girthed
trees. It all lay basking in the soft, mellow light of sunset, in the
hush of coming twilight, like some garden of sleep.

Suddenly, the grove and the garden ended and we were over the threshold
of a square of sward, an out-of-door reception room, no tree or shrub
encroaching. Beyond this was a row of sentinel trees; and then a
massive hedge of box with a break in the middle where stood the white
portal of Brandon. We could tell little about the building. The eye
could catch only a charming confusion: foliage-broken lines of wall and
roof; ivy-framed windows; and, topping all, just above the deep green
of a magnolia tree, the white carved pineapple of welcome and
hospitality.

In the softened light of evening, the charm of the place was upon
us--old Brandon, standing tree-shadowed and dim, its storied walls in
time-toned tints, its seams and crannies traced in the greens of moss
and lichen, its ancient air suggestive, secretive,

    "In green old gardens hidden away
    From sight of revel and sound of strife."

We entered a large, dusky hall with white pillars and arches midway,
and with two rooms opening off from it--the dining-room on the one
hand, the drawing-room on the other. In the old chimney-pieces, fire
leaped behind quaint andirons taking the chill from the evening air.

And there in the dusk and the fire-glow, where shadows half hid and
half revealed, where old mahogany now loomed dark and now flashed back
the flickering light, where old-time worthies fitfully came and went
upon the shadowy, panelled walls--we made our acquaintance with Brandon
and with the gracious lady of the manor. Our talk ran one with the hour
and the dusk and the firelight--old days, old ways, and all that
Brandon stands for.

When our twilight call was over, it was with dreamy thoughts on the far
days of Queen Anne and of the Georges that we went from the
white-pillared portico down the worn stone steps and followed a side
path back toward our boat. In the gloaming the side-lights were being
put in place, and Gadabout turned a baleful green eye upon us, as
though overhearing our talk of such unnautical things as gardens and
heirlooms and ancestral halls.

Next morning there was much puffing of engines and ringing of signal
bells down in Chippoak Creek. Gadabout went ahead and backed and
sidled. And it was all to find a new way to go to Brandon. Mrs.
Harrison had told us of a landing-place in the woods at the creek side
from which a sort of roadway led to the house. Fortunately, our charts
indicated, near this landing, a small depression in the bed of the
creek where there would be sufficient depth of water for our houseboat
to float even at low tide. At last, we got over the flats and into the
hole in the bottom of the creek that seemed to have been made for us.

We rowed ashore to a yellow crescent of sandy beach shaded by cypresses
where a cart-path led off through the woods. We called it the woods-way
to Brandon. It followed the shore of the creek a little way, and
through the leafy screen we caught glimpses of Gadabout out in the
stream, now with a cone-tipped branch of pine and again with a
star-leaved limb of sweet gum for a foreground setting.

Farther along were many dogwood trees; and in the springtime these
woods must be dotted with those white blossom-tents that so charmed the
first settlers on their way up the river. Here, for the first time, we
came upon the trailing cedar spreading its feathery carpet under the
trees. Ferns lifted their fronds in thick, wavy clusters. The freshness
from a night storm was upon every growing thing; a clearing northwest
wind was in the tree-tops; and the air was filled with the spicy
sweetness of the woodland.

The way led out of the shadow of the trees into the open, and we came
upon "the quarters"--long, low buildings with patches of corn and sweet
potatoes about them. Two coloured women were digging in the gardens and
another was busy over an out-of-door washtub. A group of picaninnies
played about a steaming kettle swung upon a cross-stick above an
open-air fire. One fat brown baby sat in a doorway poking a pudgy thumb
into a saucer of food and keeping very watchful eyes on the strangers.
Beyond the quarters were barns and some small houses.

[Illustration: A SIDE PATH TO THE MANOR-HOUSE.]

[Illustration: THE WOODS-WAY TO BRANDON.]

And here was our first reminder of a distressing chapter in the story
of Brandon. We knew that but few of these buildings were old-time
outbuildings of the estate. The Civil War bore hard upon this as upon
other homes along the James. It left little upon the plantation except
the old manor-house itself, and that injured and defaced.

On ahead, we could see the great grove in which the manor-house stands,
looming up in the midst of the cleared land like a small forest
reservation. Our route this time brought us to the homestead from the
landward side through an open park, and we got a better view of the
building than the dense foliage on the other side had permitted. The
house is of the long colonial type, consisting of a square central
building, two large flanking wings, and two connecting corridors. It is
built of brick laid in Flemish bond, showing a broken pattern of glazed
headers. Each front has its wide central porch and double-door
entranceway.

The emblem of hospitality that tops the central roof is truly
characteristic of the spirit within. Old colonial worthies, foreign
dignitaries, presidents and their cabinets, house-parties of "Virginia
cousins," and "strangers within the gates"--all have known the open
hospitality of Brandon. And the two latest strangers now moved on
assured of kindly welcome at the doorway.

Entering Brandon from the landward front, we found ourselves again in
the large central hall. It is divided midway by arches resting on
fluted Ionic columns and has a fine example of the colonial staircase.
This hall and the drawing-room and the dining-room on either side of it
cover the entire ground floor of the central building. Offices and
bedrooms occupy the wings. The rooms are lofty, and most of them have
fireplaces and panelled walls.

Through the east doorway one looks down a long vista to the river. In
the sunlight it is striking: the shadows from the dense foliage before
the portal lie black upon the grass; beyond is the stretch of sunny
sward; and then the turf walk under meeting boughs, a green tunnel
through whose far opening one sees a bit of brown river and perhaps a
white glint of sail.

In drawing-room and dining-room are gathered numerous paintings forming
a collection well known as the Brandon Gallery. It represents the work
of celebrated old court painters and of notable early American artists.

[Illustration: IN THE DRAWING-ROOM.]

In the drawing-room, a canvas by Charles Wilson Peale may be regarded
as the portrait-host among the shadowy figures gathered there, its
subject being Colonel Benjamin Harrison. He was friend and college
roommate of Thomas Jefferson, and a member of the first State Executive
Council in 1776. Against the dense background is shown a slender
gentleman of the old school, with an intellectual, kindly face and
expressive eyes.

About him is a distinguished gathering--dames and damsels in rich
attire and languid elegance; gallants and nobles in court costume and
dashing pose, jewelled hand on jewelled sword.

In the dining-room, the portrait hostess is found, the wife of the
Colonel Harrison who presides in the drawing-room. She was the
granddaughter of the noted colonial exquisite and man of letters,
Colonel William Byrd, whose old home, Westover, we should soon visit on
our way up the river. It was through her marriage to Colonel Harrison
that there were added to the Brandon collection many of the paintings
and other art treasures of the Byrd family, including a certain,
well-known canvas that carries a story with it.

It is an old, old story--indeed the painting itself is dimmed by the
passing of nearly two centuries; but just as the sweet face looks out
from its frame ever girlish, so does perennial youth seem to dwell in
the romance of the "Fair Maid of the James." The portrait is by Sir
Godfrey Kneller. It shows a beautiful young woman. Her gray-blue gown
is cut in a stiff, long-waisted style of the eighteenth century, yet
still showing the slim grace of the maiden. The head is daintily
poised. A red rose is in her hair and one dark curl falls across a
white shoulder. Her face is oval and delicately tinted. She follows you
with her soft, brown eyes, and her lips have the thought of a smile.

Such was the colonial beauty, Evelyn Byrd, daughter of Colonel William
Byrd. Though her home was not here but at Westover, and there she
sleeps under her altar-tomb, yet the girlish presence seems at Brandon
too, where the winsome face looks down from the wall, and where we must
pause to tell her story.

This Virginia girl was educated in London where she had most of her
social triumphs. There she was presented at court and there began the
pitiful romance of her life in her meeting with Charles Mordaunt. In
all youth's happy heedlessness these two fell in love--the daughter of
"the baron of the James" and the grandson and heir of London's social
leader, Lord Peterborough.

It seemed a pretty knot of Cupid's tying; but just here William Byrd
cast himself in the role of Fate. Some say because of religious
differences, some say because of an old family feud, he refused to
permit the marriage. He brought his daughter back to Virginia where, as
the old records say, "refusing all offers from other gentlemen, she
died of a broken heart."

That day when we left the manor-house, we started homeward, or
boatward, with our faces set the wrong way; for we wandered first into
the old garden.

It is a typical colonial garden that lies down by the river--a great
roomy garden where trees and fruit bushes stand among the blossoming
shrubs and vines and plants. It is a garden to wander in, to sit in, to
dream in. All is very quiet here and the world seems a great way off.
Only the birds come to share the beauty with you, and their singing
seems a part of the very peace and quiet of it all. The old-fashioned
flowers are set out in the old-fashioned way. There are (or once were)
the prim squares, each with its cowslip border, and the stiffly regular
little hedgerows. One may hunt them all out now; but for so many
generations have shrub and vine and plant lived together here, that a
good deal of formality has been dispensed with, and across old lines
bloom mingles with bloom.

The old garden calendars the seasons as they come and go. As an early
blossom fades, a later one takes its place through all the flowery way
from crocus to aster.

Trifling, cold, and unfriendly seem most gardens of to-day in
comparison with these old-fashioned ones. Perhaps the entire display in
the modern garden comes fresh from the florist in the spring, and is
allowed to die out in the fall, to be replaced the next spring by
plants not only new but even of different varieties from those of the
year before. Not so at Brandon. Here, the garden is one of exclusive
old families. Its flower people can trace their pedigrees back to the
floral emigrants from England. The young plants that may replace some
dead ones are scions of the old stock. Strange blossoms, changing every
spring like dwellers in a city flat, would not be in good standing with
the blue flags that great- (many times great-) grandmother planted, nor
with the venerable peonies and day lilies, the lilacs and syringas that
remember the day when the elms and magnolias above them were puny
saplings. Even a huge pecan tree, twenty-one feet around, whose
planting was recorded in the "plantation book" over a century ago, is
considered rather a new-comer by the ancient family of English
cowslips.

Here is restful permanence in this world of restless change. Loved ones
may pass away, friends may fail, neighbours may come and go; but here
in the quiet old garden, the dear flower faces that look up to cheer
are the same that have given heart and comfort to generations so remote
that they lie half-forgotten beneath gray, crumbling stones with quaint
time-dimmed inscriptions.




CHAPTER XII

HARBOUR DAYS AND A FOGGY NIGHT


Day after day, we lay in our beautiful harbour of Chippoak Creek as the
last of the summer-time went by and as autumn began to fly her bright
signal flags in the trees along the shore.

Sometimes we moored in the little depression that Nature had scooped
out for us close by the Brandon woods; sometimes we scrambled out from
it at high tide and went across and cast anchor by the Claremont shore.
Now and then we would go for a run up the creek, or out for a while on
the broad James.

It is well to stay in a pretty harbour long enough to get acquainted
with it. By the time we could tell the stage of the tide by a glance at
the lily pads, and could get in and out over the flats in the dark, and
could go right to the deep place in Brandon cove without sounding, we
had learned where the late wild flowers grew, that the washing would
get scorched on one side of the creek and lost on the other, that the
best place for fishing was around behind the island, and that the
Claremont "butcher" had fresh meat on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Gradually, our neighbours of marsh and woodland lost their shyness, and
some of them paid us the compliment of simply ignoring us. Most of the
blue herons flew high or curved widely past Gadabout--long necks
stretched straight before, long legs stretched straight behind. But the
Tragedian (he was the longest and the lankest) minded us not at all. At
the last of the ebb, a snag over near the shore would suddenly add on
another angle and jab down in the water, coming up again with a shiver
and a fish. Then, it would approach the houseboat and stalk the waters
beside our windows. The stage stride of the creature won for it the
name of the Tragedian. Knowing the shyness of his kind we felt
especially pleased by a still further proof of his confidence. One
morning, in response to a cautious whisper from the sailor, we stole
stealthily upon the after deck and saw that the Tragedian was, truly
enough, "settin' on an awnin'-pole pickin' hisself."

There was a dead tree on our Brandon shore-line. It stood among tall
pines and sweet gums and beeches as far up as they went, after that it
stood alone in the blue. We called it Old Lookout. A bald eagle used it
for a watch-tower. Lesser birds dared plume themselves up there when
the king was away: crows cawed and sidled along the smooth branches;
hawks and buzzards came on tippy wing and lighted there; and even
little birds perched pompously where the big eagle's claws had been.

But when the snowy head above the dark, square shoulders tipped Old
Lookout, the national emblem had it all to himself. Occasionally he
preened his feathers; but he did it in a bored, awkward way, as if
forced on account of his valet's absence into unfamiliar details of
toilet quite beneath his dignity. Now and then he would scream. It is
hard to believe that such a bird can have such a voice. He always lost
caste in our eyes when he had his little, choked-up penny whistle
going.

The attractions of harbour life did not keep us away from the old
manor-house. Once when Gadabout ran around to the river front, she
found a yacht from Philadelphia at the pier; and so passed on a little
way and cast anchor in a cove opposite the garden.

Few other notable houses in America, still used as homes, are the
objects of so many pilgrimages as the historic places on the James.
Indeed, few people but the hospitable Virginians would so frequently
and so courteously fling wide their doors to strangers.

When the yachting visitors were gone that day and we were at the old
home engrossed in the architecture of the Harrison colonial cradle,
there came the long blasts of the steamer Pocahontas blowing for the
Brandon landing. Not that she had any passengers or freight for Brandon
perhaps, or Brandon for her, but because all these river estates are
postoffices and the Pocahontas carries the river mail. After a
considerable time (for even the United States mail moves slowly through
the sleepy old garden), a coloured boy brought in a bag with most
promising knobs and bulges all over it.

The postoffice at Brandon is over in the south wing where there are
pigeon-holes and desks and such things. But the family mail is brought
into the great dining-room and there, in the good plantation way, it is
opened on the old mahogany.

The mail that morning made a very good directory of the present-day
family at Brandon. There were letters and packages for the mistress of
the plantation and for the daughter and the son living in the
manor-house with her, and also for the other daughter and her husband,
Mr. Randolph Cuyler, who live across the lawn in Brandon Cottage with
its dormer windows and wistaria-draped veranda. Mrs. Harrison is the
widow of Mr. George Evelyn Harrison, and the daughter of the late
William Washington Gordon, who was the first president of the Central
Railroad of Georgia and one of the most prominent men in that state.

[Illustration: "VENERABLE FOUR-POSTERS, RICHLY CARVED AND DARK."]

Brandon to-day keeps up correspondence with relatives and friends in
England and on the Continent, reads English papers and magazines, sends
cuttings from rosebushes and shrubs across seas, makes visits there and
is visited in turn. So, it was pleasant to have the reading of our own
welcome letters diversified by bits of foreign news that came out of
the bag for Brandon. We could imagine an expression of personal
interest on the handsome face of Colonel Byrd, as he stood in court
costume on the wall above us, when the wrappings were taken from a
volume containing the correspondence of his old friend, the Earl of
Orrery, and sent by the present Earl to Mrs. Harrison. In it were some
of the Colonel's letters written from his James River home, and in
which he spoke of how his daughters missed the gaieties of the English
Court. The torn wrappings and bits of string were gathered up and a
little blaze was made of them behind the old fire-dogs. Then we were
shown more of Brandon.

Up quaint staircases in the wings we went to the roomy bedrooms with
their ivy-cased windows, mellow-toned panelling, and old open
fireplaces. As daily living at Brandon is truly in the paths of
ancestral worthies, so, at night, there are venerable four-posters,
richly carved and dark, to induce eighteenth century dreams in the
twentieth century Harrisons. Massive mahogany wardrobes, bureaus, and
washstands are as generations of forebears have used them.

Some of the bedrooms once had small rooms opening off from them, one on
either side of the fireplace, each having a window. An English
kinswoman of the family says that such rooms were called "powdering
rooms." Through holes in the doors, the colonial belles and beaux used
to thrust their elaborately dressed heads into these rooms, that they
might be powdered in there without the sweet-scented clouds enveloping
silks and velvets too.

From bedrooms to basement is a long way; but we would see the old stone
bench down there where used to sit the row of black boys to answer
bells from these rooms above. Just over the bench hangs still a tangle
of the broken bell wires. When colonial Brandon was filled with guests,
there must often have been a merry jangle above the old stone bench and
a swift patter of feet on the flags. Standing there to-day, one can
almost fancy an impatient tinkle. Is it from some high-coiffured beauty
in the south wing with a message that must go post-haste--a missive
sanded, scented, and sealed by a trembling hand and to be opened by one
no steadier? or is it perhaps from some bewigged councillor with
knee-buckles glinting in the firelight as he waits for the subtle
heart-warming of an apple toddy?

Now, we were ready to go home; but we did not start at once. A stranger
going anywhere from Brandon should imitate the cautious railways and
have his schedule subject to change without notice. At the last moment,
some new old thing is bound to get between him and the door. In our
case, two or three of them did.

Somebody spoke of a secret panel. That sounded well; and even though we
were assured that nothing had been found behind it, we went to the
south wing to look at the hole in the wall. At one side of a fireplace,
a bit of metal had been found under the molding of a panel in the
wainscoting. It was evidently a secret spring, but one that had long
since lost its cunning; stiff with age and rust, it failed to respond
to the discovering touch. In the end, the panel had to be just
prosaically pried out. And, worst of all, the dim recess behind it was
empty.

When we had peered within the roomy secret space and had wondered what
had been concealed there and what hands had pressed the hidden spring,
we might really have started for the houseboat if it had not been for
the skull story. But there, just underneath a window of the
secret-panel room, was another place of secrets. It was a brick
projection from the wall of such peculiar form as to have invited
investigation. When some bricks had been removed and some earth taken
out, a human skull showed white and ghastly. Then, at the touch of
moving air, it crumbled away. That was no story to start anywhere on,
even in broad daylight; so we had another.

We were taken into the drawing-room and there, sharing honours with the
portraits, was a little gold ring hanging high from the chandelier
rosette. While not a work of art like one of the canvases on the wall,
it has its own sufficient charm--it is a mystery. The dainty gold band
has hung above the heads of generations of Harrisons, and somewhere in
the long line its story has been lost. Who placed the ring where it
hangs, and whether in joy or in grief, nobody longer knows. But it will
swing safely there while Brandon stands, for in this ancient house,
down the ages undisturbed, come the mysteries and the ghosts.

That evening a wind came up and rain set in from a depressing
dark-blue-calico sky. Gadabout did not take the trouble to run back
into her creek harbour; but put down a heavier anchor and made herself
comfortable for the night in the cove above the Brandon pier. The
cradling boat and the patter upon the roof soon put us to sleep. Then
something put us very wide awake again. We listened, but there was
nothing to hear. The wind had died out and the boat had stopped
rolling. In a moment, the long blast of a steamer whistle told what was
the matter. In blanket-robe and slippers, the Commodore got quickly to
a window, and found the river world all gone--swallowed up in fog.

[Illustration: A CORNER IN THE DINING--ROOM.]

[Illustration: THE DRAWING-ROOM FIREPLACE.]

Another weird, warning call out of the mysterious, impenetrable mist;
the steamer for Richmond was groping her way up the river. To be sure,
anchored as we were so far inshore of the channel, we were well clear
of the steamer's course; but in such heavy fogs the river boats often
go astray. As succeeding blasts sounded nearer, the Commodore became
anxious and, without waiting to turn out the crew, he started for the
fog-bell.

But where was the fog-bell? Not where it ought to be, we well knew.
Some changes in the cockpit had crowded it from its place, and for some
time it had been stowed away--but where? The Commodore scurried from
locker to locker.

"Couldn't we just as well whistle?" asked Nautica.

"No, no. A boat under way whistles in a fog, but one at anchor must
ring a bell."

One more locker, and, "I've found it!" triumphantly cried the
Commodore; but then, in dismay, "There goes the tongue out of the
thing."

Suddenly came another blast from the steamer. She sounded almost atop
of us, and the whistling was followed by a swashing of water as though
her propeller had been reversed.

"Why don't you call Henry?" asked Nautica.

"No time now," said the Commodore. "I must find something to pound this
bell with."

Of course there seemed nothing available. The Commodore seized a whisk
broom, but dropped that in favour of a hair-brush; and then in the
excitement some harder object was thrust into his hand and he started
for the door.

Nautica hurried to a window, and now saw a blur of light through the
fog, showing that the steamer had safely passed us; but, though she
called joyously, she was not in time to stay the Commodore, who had
already dashed into the cockpit beating the tongueless bell with her
curling-irons.

When he was at last caught and silenced, we could hear voices on the
steamer, orders being given, and then the rattle of running chain. She
had given up trying to make headway in the fog, and was coming to
anchor just above us.

We heartened up the hickory fire and dressed after a fashion; and sat
down to talk things over. The steamer did not ring her bell, so we did
not summon the sailor to apply dressing-table accessories to ours.

Going to a window now and then, we noticed that the fog was thinning;
and at one place there seemed a luminous blur, indicating perhaps where
the steamer lay. We wondered whether running so close upon Gadabout was
what had determined the captain to cast anchor. And then we wondered
other things about fogs and mists and bewildered ships.

Nautica sat studying the firelight (not exactly in a dreamy old
fireplace, but through a damper-hole in the stove), and at length
voiced the inspiration that she got.

"If only one could see things in a fog, it wouldn't be so bad," she
said conclusively.

"No," came the answer dryly, "a fog that one could see in would be
quite an improvement."

"Wait a moment," laughed Nautica. "I mean it isn't merely the dangers
lurking in a fog, but the way you go into them that is so terrible. The
dangers of a storm you can meet, looking them straight in the face; but
those of a fog you have to meet blindfold."

"I thought of that when I got up to-night and stood by the window,"
said the Commodore. "As the steamer's whistle kept sounding nearer, I
could imagine the great, blinded creature slowly groping its way up the
river. I think I quite agree that it would be nicer to have fogs that
people could see in."

And we felt that Gadabout would be of the same way of thinking. Indeed,
could we not hear her joining in as we talked, and good naturedly
grumbling that if we couldn't have that kind of fogs, why then we ought
to get close in shore among the crabs and the sand-fiddlers, where the
big boats could not come; or else go into a quiet little creek with a
sleepy little houseboat.

But by this time no one was listening to Gadabout. Any further fussy
complaining of this little craft was drowned by the Commodore reading
aloud. He had bethought him of a book containing some chapters on
Brandon that we had got from the manor-house. And reading made us
hungry; and there were two apple tarts on the upper shelf of the
refrigerator (for had not the cook provided them "in case an' you
should wish 'em befo' you retiah"?); and by the time the tarts were
gone, so was the fog; and the steamer headed again for Richmond and we
for Dreamland.




CHAPTER XIII

OLD SILVER, OLD PAPERS, AND AN OLD COURT GOWN


Toward the last of our stay in Chippoak Creek, the weather was bad; but
it was surprising how agreeable disagreeable days could be at Brandon.
It was dark and gloomy that afternoon when we got to looking at the old
family silver, and even raining dismally by the time we were carefully
unfolding the faded court gown; but on we went from treasure to
treasure oblivious of the weather.

Fine and quaint pieces of old silver are among the family plate. Many
of them bear the Harrison crest--a demi-lion rampant supporting a
laurel wreath. And who would know what the weather was doing, when
those ancient pieces were passing from hand to hand, and the
fascinating study of hall marks was revealing dates more than two
centuries past? There is even some ecclesiastical silver in the old
home--the communion service once used in the Martin's Brandon Church, a
building no longer standing. The inscription tells that the service was
the gift of Major John Westhrope, and the marks give date of about
1659.

But no one form of the antique can hold you long at Brandon. From out
some drawer or chest or closet, another treasure will appear and lure
you away with another story of the long ago. With the inimitable sheen
of old silver still in our eyes, our ears caught the crackle of ancient
parchment; and we turned to the fascinations of venerable records and
dingy red seals and queer blue tax stamps. The papers were delightfully
quaint and yellow and worn, but from their very age a little awesome
too.

The most valued one of them all is the original grant of Martin's
Brandon bearing date 1616--four years before the Pilgrims landed at
Plymouth. The grant covers a page and a half of the large sheets of
heavy parchment, and the ink is a stronger black than that on records a
century younger.

[Illustration: TREASURED PARCHMENTS, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL GRANT OF
1616.]

On a worn paper dated 1702 is a plat of Brandon plantation. It shows
that at that time the central portion of the manor-house had not been
built as only two disconnected buildings (the present wings) are given.
A part of the sketch is marked "a corner of the garden." So, for two
hundred years (and who knows how much longer?) there has been that
garden by the river. Off at one side of the old map, we found our
landing-place in the woods beside some wavy lines that, a neat clerkly
hand informed us in pale brown ink, were the "meanderings of Chippoak
Creek."

Poring so intently over those ancient papers with their great Old
English capitals, their stiff flourishes, their quaint abbreviations,
we should scarcely have been startled to see a peruked head bend above
them and a hand with noisy quill go tracing along the lines of those
long-ago "Whereases" and "Be it knowns."

But, instead, something quite different came out of the past: something
very soft and feminine fell over the blotched old papers--the treasured
silk brocade in which Evelyn Byrd was presented at the Court of George
I. Like a shadowy passing of that famous colonial belle, was the sweep
of the faint-flowered gown. A fabric of the patch-and-powder days is
this, with embroidered flowers in old blues and pinks clustered on its
deep cream ground. Its fashioning is quaint: the Watteau pleat in the
back with tiny tucks each side at the slim waist line, the square low
neck, the close elbow sleeves, the open front to display the quilted
petticoat.

Mingled feelings rise at sight of the soft brocade whose bodice once
throbbed with the happy heartbeats of this Virginia maiden, making
pretty curtsy in rosy pleasure, the admiration of the English Court.
Perhaps in this very gown she danced the stately minuet with young
Charles Mordaunt; perhaps hid beneath its fluttering laces his first
love sonnet. So, in those far colonial days it knew the life of her.
The grace of the young body seems still to linger in the pale,
shimmering folds; and the clinging touch of the old court gown is like
a timid appeal for remembrance.

After that rainy afternoon at the manorhouse, we were storm-bound
aboard Gadabout for a few days. At last the weather cleared and we
again thought of a trip ashore. There was yet a brisk wind; and for
some time our rowboat rocked alongside, industriously bumping the paint
off the houseboat, while we sat on the windlass box enjoying the fresh
breeze in our faces and watching the driftage catch on our anchor
chain. Of course one can sit right down on the bobby bow itself with
feet hanging over, and poke with a stick at the flotsam. But that is
only for moments of lazy leisure, not for a time when one is about to
visit Brandon.

At last, we were ashore and again in the "woods-way." That was the day
we got into trouble, all owing to Nautica's passion for ancient
tombstones. We were half way to Brandon when she concluded that it was
not the manor-house that she wished to visit first, but the old
graveyard. We stopped at the manager's house to inquire the way. The
road led inland. It soon dipped to a bridge over a little stream, where
the banks were masses of honeysuckle whose fragrance followed us up the
slope beyond. On a little farther was a field with a grove in the
centre of it that we knew, from the directions given us, contained the
cemetery.

We entered the field, and had got almost to the grove when Nautica
suddenly stopped, stared, and turned pale. The Commodore's glance
followed hers; whereupon, he uttered brave words calculated to reassure
the timid feminine heart, and in a voice that would have been steady
enough if his knees had kept still. The bull said nothing.

Very soon, and without his moving at all, that bull was far away from
us. We recognized at once that the field was properly his preserve and
that we really had no right there; but we trusted that our intrusion in
coming in would be atoned for by our promptness in getting out.

In the absorbing process of putting space between the bull and the
houseboaters, the restlessness of the Commodore's knees was really an
advantage. They moved so fast that he was able to keep in advance of
Nautica, and so be ready to protect her if another bull should appear
on ahead. When he felt satisfied that he need no longer expose himself
in the van (and, incidentally, that the bull in the rear had been left
out of sight), he slackened his pace. We managed to get down to a walk
in the course of half a mile or so; and at last approached Brandon at a
quite decorous gait.

There, we learned that we had gone to the wrong cemetery anyway--to the
one that had belonged to the old Brandon Church whose communion service
we had seen. The Harrison burying-ground was not far from the home.

So, with members of the household, we went out across the lawn and
around a corner of the garden to the family graveyard. The first
Benjamin Harrison, the emigrant, who died about 1649, is not buried
here. His tomb stands near the great sycamore tree in the churchyard at
James Towne. However, the tombs of his descendants, owners of Brandon,
are (with one exception) in this old plantation burying-ground.

[Illustration: THE ANCIENT GARRISON HOUSE.]

In the walk back to the house, we stopped to see what is probably the
oldest, and in many respects the most interesting, building on the
plantation. It is just an odd stubby brick house with a crumbling
cellar-hut at one end. But family tradition says that it is one of the
old garrison houses, or "defensible houses," built in early times for
protection against the Indians. It certainly looks the part, with its
heavy walls, its iron doors and shutters, and the indications of former
loopholes. Upon those first scattered plantations, a characteristic
feature was such a strong-house or "block-house" surrounded by a
stockade or "palisado" of logs.

While this strong-house at Brandon must have been built after the
terrible Indian massacre of 1622, yet it doubtless served as a place of
refuge in later attacks. Many a time that dread alarm may have spread
over this plantation. We thought of the hurrying to and fro; of the
gathering of weapons, ammunition, bullet-molds, food, and whatever
necessities there may have been time to catch up; and of the
panic-stricken men, women and children fleeing from field and cabin to
the shelter of the stockade and of the strong-house.

Back again in the manor-house, we spent our last hour at Brandon; for
Gadabout was to sail away next day. It was a colonial hour; for Brandon
clocks tick off no other, nor would any other seem natural within those
walls.

Sitting there in the old home, we slipped easily back into the
centuries; back perhaps to the day of the great mahogany sofa that we
sat upon. It all seemed very real. The afternoon sun--some eighteenth
century afternoon sun--came in through deep-casemented windows. It
lighted up the high, panelled room, falling warmly upon antique
furniture about us, upon by-gone worthies on the wall, and (quite as
naturally, it seemed) upon a colonial girl, who now smilingly appeared
in the doorway. Bringing the finishing touch of life to the old-time
setting, she came, a curl of her dark hair across a white shoulder and
her gown a quaintly fashioned silk brocade.

This eighteenth century presentment was in kindly compliance with a
wish that we had expressed on that rainy day when we were looking over
Brandon treasures. It was Brandon's daughter in the court gown of her
colonial aunt, Evelyn Byrd. And we thought in how few American homes
could this charming visitor from the colonies so find the colonial
waiting to receive her.

[Illustration: MISS HARRISON IN THE COURT GOWN OF HER COLONIAL AUNT,
EVELYN BYRD.]

Nowhere in the world, it is said, are there so many new, comfortable
homes built for the passing day as in America; but also in no civilized
country are there so few old homes. More and more, as this fact comes
to be realized, will Americans who care for the permanent and the
storied appreciate such colonial homesteads as Brandon, the ancestral
home of the Harrisons.




CHAPTER XIV

A ONE-ENGINE RUN AND A FOREST TOMB


By the time we had finished our visit at Brandon, we were in the midst
of the beautiful Virginia autumn. Though much of the warmth of summer
was yet in the midday hours, the mornings were often crisp and the
evenings seemed to lose heart and grow chill as they saw the sun go
down.

Part of the houseboat was heated by oil stoves, but the forward cabin
had a wood stove, and above it on the upper deck was our little
sheet-iron chimney. It had a hood that turned with the wind and creaked
just enough for company. So, during mornings and evenings and wet days,
Gadabout smoked away, cozy and comfortable.

She was smoking vigorously on the day that we bade good-bye to Chippoak
Creek. That was a glorious morning--one of those mornings when the sun
tries to warm the northwest wind and the northwest wind tries to chill
the sun, and between the two a tonic gets into the air and people want
to do things. We wanted to "see the wheels go round" (not knowing then
that only one would go round); and we prepared to start for Kittewan
Creek, a few miles farther up the James.

Kittewan Creek is no place in particular, but near it are two old
plantations that historians and story-writers have talked a good deal
about. These two estates, Weyanoke and Fleur de Hundred, having no
longer pretentious colonial mansions, are often overlooked by the
traveller on the James, who thereby loses a worthy chapter of the river
story.

When our anchors came up out of the friendly mud of Chippoak Creek, we
let the northwest wind push us across the flats and into the channel.
Then we summoned the engines to do their duty. The port one responded
promptly, but the other would do nothing; and as we ran out of the
creek and headed up the river, the Commodore was appealing to the
obdurate machine with a screwdriver and a monkey-wrench.

The tide was hurrying up-stream and the wind was hurrying down-stream,
and old Powhatan was much troubled. Gadabout rolled awkwardly among the
white-caps but continued to make headway. Pocahontas, the big river
steamer, was coming down-stream. We could see her making a landing at a
wharf above us where a little mill puffed away and a barge was loading.
Evidently, the steamer was to stop next at a landing that we were just
passing, for there men and mules were hurrying to get ready for her.
Now the starboard bank of the river grew high and sightly, but on the
port side there was only a great waste of marsh.

The Commodore spent much time with the ailing motor. Once he lost a
portion of the creature's anatomy in the bottom of the boat. Nautica
found him, inverted and full of emotion, fishing about in the
bilge-water for the lost piece. She offered him everything from the
toasting-rack to the pancake-turner to scrape about with; but he would
trust nothing of the sort, and kept searching until he found the piece
with his own black, oily fingers.

"I believe the man that built this boat was a prophet!" he exclaimed as
his face, flushed with triumph and congestion, appeared above the
floor. "He said that if we put gasoline motors in, we should have more
fun and more trouble than we ever had in our lives before; and we
surely are getting all he promised."

[Illustration: STURGEON POINT LANDING.]

[Illustration: AT THE MOUTH OF KITTEWAN CREEK.]

As we rounded the next bend in the river, we got the full force of the
wind and, with but one engine running, it was a question for a while
whether we were going to go on up the river or to drift back down
stream. Fortunately, the James narrowed at this point, thus increasing
the sweep of the tide that was helping us along, and slowly Gadabout
pushed on, slapping down hard on the big waves and holding steady.

A short distance beyond Sturgeon Point was the indentation in the shore
marking the mouth of Kittewan Creek. Old cypress trees stepped out into
the river on either side, while a row of stakes seemed to indicate the
channel of the little waterway. Sounding along we went in with four
feet of water under us.

Our plan was to find an anchorage a little way up the creek, and then
next day to start with the rising tide for a run on up to Weyanoke. Of
course Weyanoke fronted upon the James, but our idea was to make a sort
of back-door landing by running up this stream and in behind the
plantation. There was no sheltering cove to lie in on the river front;
and besides, to make the visit at the regular pier was so hopelessly
commonplace. Any of the ordinary palace yachts could do the thing that
way. But it took a gypsy craft like Gadabout to wriggle up the little
back-country creek and to land among the chickens and the geese
and--bulls perhaps; but then all explorers must take chances.

Kittewan Creek is a marsh stream; yet for some distance in from the
mouth tall cypresses stand along the reedy banks. These trees protected
us from the high wind and made it easy for us to take Gadabout up the
narrow watercourse.

As she moved slowly along, we were looking for an ancient tomb that we
had been told stood on the left bank of the stream not far from the
mouth--"the mysterious tomb of the James" some one had called it. While
we could see nothing of it then, we resolved to search for it upon
returning from our run up the creek to visit Weyanoke. But we were
destined to see the tomb before seeing Weyanoke.

[Illustration: THE FOREST TOMB.]

[Illustration: THE OLD KITTEWAN HOUSE]

Upon reaching the first bend in the stream, our tree-protection failed
us and Gadabout became so absorbed in the antics of wind and tide that
she paid no further heed to any suggestions on our part as to the
proper way to navigate Kittewan Creek. Her notion seemed to be to run
down a few fish-nets whose corks were bobbing about on the water, and
then to go over and hang herself up on some cypress stumps at the edge
of the marsh. We insisted upon her going a little way farther up the
creek. But a compromise was all that could be effected; anchors were
dropped and operations temporarily suspended on both sides.

We had a much belated dinner, and then all went ashore to make
inquiries and to get supplies at a house that stood on a bluff above
the bend in the stream. It proved to be a very old building and quite a
landmark. It was called the Kittewan house. There, we learned that the
tomb we were looking for was on the bank almost opposite where our
houseboat lay.

We found it close to the creek. It was an altar-tomb, broken and
timeworn and almost covered with an accumulation of earth and moss and
leaves. One corner support and one side of the caving base were gone,
letting ferns and lichens find a home within, tender green fronds
touching the shadowing slab above them.

The strange, unremembered grave was that of a woman. For, when we had
scraped clear a little of the slab, we came upon the name Elizabeth.
Our floating home was near enough to lend shovel and broom; and we
undertook to free the tomb (that was itself being slowly buried) and to
bring to light again the chiseled story of the long-ago Elizabeth who
lay in this lonely place.

When the granite slab was uncovered and swept clean, we were able to
read most of the words upon it, although the stone was cut almost as
deep by the little fingers of rain and of frost as by the graver's
heavy hand that had itself gone to dust long ago. Slowly we found the
words telling that there rested the body of Elizabeth Hollingshorst,
whose husband, Thomas Hollingshorst, was a shipmaster; that her father
was Mr. Piner Gordon of the family of Tilliangus in Aberdeenshire,
Scotland; and that she died November 30, 1728.

The father's name, Gordon (so proud a one in Aberdeenshire), and the
use before it of the prefix Mr. (a term then synonymous with
"gentleman" and never lightly given in those days of well-defined rank)
show that this Elizabeth was of gentle birth. The words "Ship Master"
tell of how the breath of the old North Sea had called Thomas
Hollingshorst from the banks and braes and led him to point the bow of
his merchant ship across seas, bound for England's far-away colony.
Little would he dream--crowding canvas to speed his cargo to the
Virginia plantations--that his gentle-born Elizabeth was to find a
grave in that feared American wilderness.

The longer we worked over the ancient stone the more we came to feel
the pitiful meaning of it.

We felt that this Elizabeth was a true heart and a brave one, who
ventured the perilous sea-voyage of the early days with her shipmaster
husband. She did not come as other women came--to make a home in the
new land and to have friends and neighbours there. She came, a passing
stranger, upon her husband's trading ship; a ship that would anchor but
to exchange its English wares for the planter's tobacco, and then turn
prow again to the perils of the sea. When illness came in the new, wild
land, how distant must have seemed Aberdeenshire in those days of the
little ship and the slow sail! And here, longing for one more sight of
Scottish heather, this Elizabeth died.

Seeking for her a last resting-place, the stranger ship moved up the
river and came to anchor at the mouth of this creek. They lowered her
gently over the ship's side into a long-boat and then rowed up the
stream into the forest. Here by the creek's side they buried her, and
(doubtless by the ship's own compass) they orientated the forest grave.
Then again the ship sailed across seas and bore sad tidings to some
family of Gordons in Aberdeenshire.

In those days it must have been long before the returning vessel could
sail up the James, this time bearing the graven tomb from Scotland. For
a little while, the stillness of the forest was once more broken,
startling the timid woodland folk; and then these strangers from
overseas were gone. Again the great silence fell and the wilderness
took the grave to itself. Slowly it set upon the tomb its seal of moss
and lichen and vine. Unmindful of the mark of human loss and grief, the
wild folk came and went. Joyously the cardinal flashed his crimson wing
above the darkening stone; the deer came to drink from the stream and
lifted their heads to scent the breeze that came with the dawn through
the cypress trees, across a forgotten grave; hard and incurious, the
Weyanoke Indians slipped by like darker shadows in the forest gloom;
and only the little night birds seemed to know or to care as they
called plaintively in the marshes at twilight.

As we were about to leave the tomb, we bethought us that the
anniversary of the death of this Elizabeth was drawing near. We heaped
the holly with its glowing berries above the crumbling stone. And still
we lingered; for the Gordons of Tilliangus seemed very far away from
this daughter of their house. As the sunset lights were fading, we saw
a new moon pale on the tinted sky; and we thought of how for almost two
centuries crescent moons had trembled from silver to gold above this
forlorn grave on the bank of the Kittewan.

A short row in the dusk out upon the stream, and we stepped aboard
Gadabout. She never seemed more cozy and homelike. A great bowl of pink
and yellow chrysanthemums from Brandon's old garden and trailing cedar
and ferns and red-berried holly added to the cheer. Soon our
home-lights streamed from the broad windows out across the water, and
some faint glow must have touched that lonely tomb on shore.




CHAPTER XV

NAVIGATING AN UNNAVIGABLE STREAM


In the morning the sun and the mist filled our little harbour with a
golden shimmer, and all the marsh reeds were quivering in the radiance.
The blue herons were winging out to the river, and the doves were
weaving spells round and round the dormer-windowed cottage on the hill.

Gadabout's household was early astir ready for the run up Kittewan
Creek. We had only to get a chicken or two at the house on the bluff,
and then we should be ready to start at the turn of the tide. Imagine,
then, our chagrin when the sailor returned with not only the chickens
but the information also that we could not get the houseboat any
farther up the stream, on account of numerous shallows and submerged
cypress stumps.

Once more the charts were got out and spread upon a table. We still
felt that if the sounding-marks were right Gadabout could navigate the
stream. However, at two places islands were shown where there seemed
scarcely room in the creek for islands and Gadabout too; and if we had
also to throw in a few cypress stumps for good measure, our prospects
for visiting Weyanoke by the chickens-and-geese route were indeed not
promising.

But we knew Gadabout and how we had taken the craft almost everywhere
that people had told us she could not go. For, to our minds, one of the
chief charms of houseboating lay in poking about in such out-of-the-way
places.

Let the yacht reign supreme as the deep-water pleasure craft, that
trails its elegance perforce ever up and down the same prescribed
channels. The ideal houseboat is the light-draft water gypsy, that
turns often from the buoyed course and wanders off into the picturesque
world of little waters; along streamlets that lead in winding ways to
quaint bits of nowhere, and into quiet shallows of forgotten lagoons
that have fallen asleep to the lullaby of their own rushes.

So it was settled that our houseboat was to try to go up the creek to
Weyanoke's back door, and again we were waiting only for the turn of
the tide. When sticks and straws and frost-tinted leaves, floating down
past us toward the James, changed their minds and started back up the
Kittewan, Gadabout went with them.

After a while the creek began to shallow rapidly and we kept the sailor
on ahead in a shore-boat sounding, while we tried to keep the houseboat
from running over him. The southerly breeze was gradually freshening
and Gadabout began to show a corresponding partiality for the northern
bank of the stream. But, on the whole, she was behaving very well and
apparently the mutinous spirit of the day before had entirely
disappeared. We had to stop just before coming to an island standing in
a sharp turn of the little waterway.

"Looks like we can't make this bend, sir," called the sailor from the
shore-boat. "There's a sure enough bar 'cross here."

By keeping at it, he managed to find a channel for going round on the
port side of the island. Then he came aboard, started an engine, and we
moved on again. But Gadabout had been deceiving us; she still had no
notion of going up the creek. We were just starting to go around the
island when she suddenly transferred her allegiance from the
steering-wheel to the wind, and sidled off in the marshes till she
brought up hard aground. There was nothing to do but to wait for the
rising tide.

Nautica got out the chart again to see where we were. At Weyanoke there
are two plantations, an upper one and a lower one; and for a while she
was busy measuring between the stream and the little black dots that
indicated the plantation buildings. At last, after a final counting up
on her fingers, she announced, "If we can get around six more bends of
this curly stream, we shall be within less than half a mile of the
house at Lower Weyanoke."

As the water rose around the houseboat, we threw out a kedge anchor,
hauled off, and got under way again. Now, Gadabout started at once to
go around the island--but (mutiny again!) she was going around on the
wrong side. The Commodore and the sailor, with long poles, pushed
frantically in the mud striving to set the unruly craft in the way she
should go; but she was determined to take the wrong channel and was
slowly getting the better of us.

"She's gittin' away from us, sir," called the sailor.

"I see she is," said the Commodore, "and I don't believe she can get
around the island on this side."

But away she went, wind and tide carrying her up the wrong channel.
Laughing at the amusing persistence of the craft, all we could do was
to keep her away from the marshes and let her go.

The creek rapidly narrowed; the marsh gave way to woodland; and just
ahead was but a small passage between island and mainland for us to go
through. We pushed in between waving walls of autumn foliage. Branches
tapped on our windows, and crimson sweet gum leaves pressed against the
panes as if to make the most of their little moment for looking in.

Gadabout passed through the narrow opening without a stop, though
carrying twigs and bright leaves away with her. We ran the next
straight stretch of the creek, and at the bend came upon another
island. Here shoals and cypress stumps quite blocked the channel. In a
good, old landlubberly manner we hitched Gadabout to a tree and waited
to see if the rising tide would make a way for us.

[Illustration: HUNTING FOR THE CHANNEL.]

[Illustration: APPROACHING IN A NARROW PLACE.]

Houseboating was taking us into strange places. And yet what a
comfortable way to journey into the world in the rough! Many are the
advantages of houseboating over camping or any other form of outing. In
a floating home one goes into the wild without sacrificing the comforts
or even the essential refinements of life. For women it is an ideal way
to visit Dame Nature.

But now the houseboaters upon Gadabout were becoming fearful lest Dame
Nature had closed her doors on ahead of them and would not receive them
up the Kittewan. It was good news when the sailor called from his
rowboat that he had found a channel for going on around the island.

This tune Gadabout showed a willingness to go just where we wished her
to go, but insisted upon doing it stern-foremost or broadside. We ran
her forward and backward and poled most vigorously; but after all had
the humiliation of drifting around the island wrong end first.

After that there was little trouble in going up the stream. Before long
an old homestead came in sight on a hill to our left, and we knew that
it must be Lower Weyanoke. But an impassable marsh stretched along the
stream, and there was no sign of a landing or of a roadway that might
lead to the house. We kept on, curious now to see how far our houseboat
could go. Suddenly we found out. She turned a bend and, there ahead,
hummocks and stumps occupied about all there was left of Kittewan
Creek.

The head of navigation had been reached for even our presumptuous
craft. An anchor was cast; whereupon Gadabout swung to one side, bumped
against a tree, and then settled herself comfortably in the marshes to
await our pleasure. It would not do to let the falling tide catch us in
that place. Fortunately, there was a marshy cove on one side of us, and
by backing into that we got turned around and headed down stream again.
We found a deep place that would do for an anchorage nearly opposite
Lower Weyanoke, and close beside a little company of trees that
showered Gadabout with red and yellow leaves.

When the tide fell, it disclosed many roots and stumps in the channel;
and the sight of each one added to our sense of importance in having
successfully navigated the stream. Later, some of the men from the
Kittewan farm came along in a rowboat.

"Well, you did make it after all," they said. "We've been looking for
you all along the creek, expecting to find you hung up on a cypress
stump."




CHAPTER XVI

IN WHICH WE GET TO WEYANOKE


As Gadabout lay moored in Kittewan Creek, the houses of Weyanoke were
not very far from us, and one of them was in plain sight; but the
question was how to get to them. Wide stretches of marsh bordered the
stream and a wire fence ran along the reedy edge. We began to be
impressed with the advantage of approaching such a plantation in the
customary way, by the river front.

But we had not lost zeal for the unconventional, and fortune favoured
us. A man passing in a skiff told us that a road leading to the
Weyanoke houses could be reached by rowing up a tiny bayou that joined
the creek a short distance above us.

This bayou, he explained, was not one of those ordinary waterways that
you can travel on just any time. In fact, for a good deal of the time
it was not a waterway at all. But usually, when a half tide or more was
in, a rowboat could be taken up to the landing near the road.

So, one afternoon an untenanted houseboat was left lying in the
sunshine and the marshes, all aboard having taken to the shore-boats
and gone in search of the more solid portions of Weyanoke. Weyanoke is
an Indian name and means "land of sassafras." In 1617 the Indian chief,
Opechancanough, gave this land of sassafras to Sir George Yeardley,
afterward governor-general of the colony; and his ownership gave early
prominence to the place, though he did not live upon the plantation
that he had here.

After several transfers of title, Weyanoke came into the possession of
Joseph Harwood in 1665. Through many generations both the upper
plantation and the lower one remained in the Harwood family; and Upper
Weyanoke is still owned by descendants of Joseph Harwood, the family of
the late Mr. Fielding Lewis Douthat.

[Illustration: LOWER WEYANOKE.]

In our search for this land of sassafras, a short row up the creek took
us to the opening into the bayou. Here, there was a break in the wire
fence along the creek guarded by a queer water-gate that hung across
the entrance to the side stream. Holding the water-gate open and
pushing our boats through, with what skill might be expected from
persons who had never seen a water-gate before, we started up the tiny,
winding channel.

On either hand the reeds were so tall that we were quite shut in by
them; but reeds are never so beautiful as when outlined against the
sky. Here and there, a stump or a cypress tree stood out in the water
almost barring the way. Ducks were swimming about or absurdly standing
on their heads in the shallows, and at our coming went paddling off
into the sedges quacking their disapproval. Before the water quite gave
out, we reached the little landing. Now our way led up from the lowland
between hazy autumn fields where crows were busily gleaning and insects
shrilled in shock and stubble.

The road ended in front of the house at Lower Weyanoke. The building is
a large frame one and very old. It has had its full share of
distinction, being for so many generations the home of the colonial
family of Harwoods and of their descendants, the Lewises and the
Douthats. Some years ago the plantation passed to strangers. From the
riverward portico, we saw traces of an old garden whose memory is kept
green by the straggling box that long ago bordered the fragrant
flower-beds. On beyond was a glint of the sun-lit river. A group of
towering cottonwood trees, standing in the dooryard, is so conspicuous
a feature of the landscape that it serves as a guide for the pilots on
the river boats.

Leaving the sailor here to do some foraging in the neighbourhood, we
went on to Upper Weyanoke. We followed a road that skirted corn fields
and pasture lands, busy plantation life on every hand. One could but
think of the very different scene that was here in the days of the
Civil War. Few places suffered at that time more than did Weyanoke.
Here, part of Grant's army crossed the James in the march upon
Petersburg. While bridges were building, the Federal forces were
scattered over the plantation; and when at last they crossed the river,
they left devastation behind.

As we came upon the outbuildings of the upper plantation, we heard
singing and laughter. Corn-husking was going on in the big barn. The
doors were open, and from the distant roadway we could see the negroes
at work, bits of their parti-coloured garb showing bright against the
dark interior.

And at last, truly enough, our pathway led among the chickens and the
geese. Indeed, one blustering gander "quite thought to bar our way."
But, taking courage from the stirring old couplet,

    "We routed him: we scouted him,
    Nor lost a single man."

There were other fowl in sight too; fowl that had a special
significance just then. For, despite the bright, warm days, the last
Thursday in November was near at hand; and we wondered whether our
Thanksgiving dinner could be found in this flock of plump, bronze
birds.

The early plantation house at Upper Wey-anoke was long ago destroyed by
fire, and a modern house of brick now stands upon the old site. A
broad, shaded lawn slopes to the river. Here one gets an impressive
view of the James as it broadens into a curving bay below Windmill
Point.

When we entered the home, our interest centred in its mistress, the
little lady of old-time grace and courtesy sitting by the open fire. It
was later that we noticed the two portraits hanging near her--one of
Chief-Justice Marshall and one of a beautiful dark-eyed young woman.

The relationship of these three--Mrs. Douthat, the Chief-Justice, and
the beautiful young woman--added to the charm of our talk. For the
great John Marshall had a son John who married Elizabeth Alexander, a
descendant of the colonial house of Thomas; and that Elizabeth
Alexander was the girl in the picture. John and Elizabeth had a
daughter, and that daughter was the sweet little lady sitting there
beneath the portraits. Her grandfather, the Chief-Justice, named her
Mary Willis in memory of his cherished, invalid wife.

This Mary Willis Marshall married Fielding Lewis Douthat, of the
Harwood family, and went as a bride to Lower Weyanoke when the home
there yet spoke bravely of colonial dignity, and the garden was still
fragrant with trim bordered beds of bloom. Some years later, they moved
to Upper Weyanoke where Mr. Douthat died. In the family circle as we
found it were Mrs. Douthat, three daughters, and two sons.

[Illustration: AN ANCESTRESS OF WEYANOKE.]

[Illustration: CHIEF-JUSTICE JOHN MARSHALL.]

While the conversation ranged wide, from seventeenth century plantation
grants to twentieth century houseboats, we found our attention drawn
most to the reminiscences of Mrs. Douthat, told in the charming speech
of a day that had time for the art of conversation. She had childhood
recollections of the great Chief-Justice, and had treasured the family
traditions concerning him. We got all too little both of the personal
recollections and of the traditions; but they made it seem a very real
John Marshall that this granddaughter of his was talking about.

Mrs. Douthat could not add much to the little that we already knew
about a small brick building on the plantation that has long been
pointed out from the steamers' decks as one of the oldest buildings in
the country. It stands on the river bluff near the present home. If as
old as is usually supposed, it is doubtless one of the early garrison
houses, and must have seen desperate days on this Indian-harassed
peninsula.

In this house, up to the time of her death a few years ago, lived the
old mammy of the family. She was one of the last of a type developed
through generations of plantation life, and now disappearing with it.
Her place was at the end of a long line of dusky nurses, the first of
whom landed nearly three centuries ago at James Towne, and crooned to
the children of the royal governors the weird minor lullabies of
jungle-land.

At present, Elias, a gray-haired negro, lives in the little old house.
Every morning he goes to see Mrs. Douthat; and he seldom varies the
greeting: "How is you dis mawnin', Miss Mary? I sut'n'y is glad to see
you able to be up an' 'roun'. You know you an' me is chil'en of de same
day."

Weyanoke, like most of the large plantations on the James, has a
postoffice in the house. Our visit over, we gathered up quite a
promising lot of mail and started homeward with the Commodore looking
like a peripatetic branch of the rural free delivery. Evening was
gathering in as we walked back along the field roads. The air was warm,
a gentle breeze went rustling through the corn, and the autumn haze
just veiled field and marsh and distant woods.

Upon reaching our shore-boat, we pushed out upon the marsh waterway. In
our absence the tide had been slowly creeping up on reeds and rushes,
had reached its height, and (leaving a brown, bubbly line upon each
slender stalk to show that the law had been fulfilled) had started
slowly down again.

But the ebb had only begun. The marsh was yet almost tide-full, and all
its channels were water-lanes. Each little way was like every other,
and one could well wander amiss down between those winding walls of
sedges.

We paddled very slowly, often stopping to let the boat drift on the ebb
tide. Why might we not find out the secret of the marshes if we went
very softly through the heart of them?--that secret of which the
slender reeds are always whispering; that mystery that keeps them
always a-shiver. Is it something they have hidden from the searching
tide? Is it known to the little marsh-hen that cunningly builds her
nest at the foot of the sedges? Is it guessed by the restless finny
folk that slip and search beneath the brown waters?

Holding our boat quiet in the ebbing bayou, we looked and listened.
There were sounds of sibilant dripping in the dim sedges; of alewives
jumping by the side of our boat; of a sudden rush of blackbird wings;
and of the evening breeze as it freshened in the bending blades. We
could see the many rivulets, wine-red now in the sunset light; and the
graceful swaying of great grasses, pale green and silver and tan; and
the red and golden sky above: ebbing rivulets, rippling reeds, drifting
clouds, and sunset shades. And that was all. Nor had we guessed the
secret of the marshes.

Yet, we should have been content still to look and to listen, down in
the hidden tiny ways of the marshland, but for the fading light that
warned us homeward. What would night be among the sedges with the
wandering rivulets full of twinkling stars, with the soft calling of
wakeful birds, and with the skurrying of little creatures in their
shadowy forest of reeds?

Slowly we paddled on in the twilight; on through the little water-gate
and out upon the Kittewan, where images of the bordering trees lay
sharp and black on the strangely purple water. From down-stream where
Gadabout waited, came such a fervent burst of song that we knew that
the entire crew was urging its soul to be on guard--

    "Te-en thou-san' foes ah-rise."




CHAPTER XVII

ACROSS RIVER TO FLEUR DE HUNDRED


The next day we determined to run around to the river front of
Weyanoke. We were yet charmed with the idea of being back-door
neighbours of the old plantation; but not at quite such long range.
When the tide served, Gadabout dropped down the twisting Kittewan.
Though she paused involuntarily in trying to round the island where the
sweet gum flamed against the pines, and caught her propeller on a
cypress stump as she sighted the dormer windows of the old house on the
hill, yet she came in good time to the clear channel and, passing the
tangled underwood that hid the forsaken tomb, she reached the mouth of
the creek before the tide turned and started up the James on the last
of the flood.

Weyanoke plantation is a peninsula lying in a sharp elbow of the river,
so that it was a run of a few miles from the mouth of Kittewan Creek,
on one side of the peninsula, around to the Weyanoke pier on the other
side.

Upon reaching the sharp bend in the river at the point of the
peninsula, we could see one reason anyway why Grant should have chosen
this as a place for crossing the James. Here, the banks of the river
suddenly draw close so that the stream is less than half a mile wide.
However, it makes up in depth what it has lost in width, the channel at
this point being from eighty to ninety feet deep. Even at the last of
the tide the water here flowed swiftly and with ugly swirls and oily
whirlpools that made the river seem vicious.

Now, we ran toward the southern shore to look at the ruins of a fort
built in the War of 1812. The sun was setting beyond the high bluff
that backed the fort, and the place lay blurred in the shadow; but
apparently time, and perhaps the hard knocks of war, had not left much
of Fort Powhatan. Two creeks that enter the James near the old fort
received our close scrutiny, for every side stream tempted us. We would
wonder how far Gadabout could follow each winding way, and what she
might find up there.

[Illustration: UPPER WEYANOKE.]

A short run farther up the river took us abreast the pier at Upper
Weyanoke; and, passing around it, we cast anchor within a stone's throw
of the plantation home.

[Illustration: AT ANCHOR OFF WEYANOKE.]

We sat out in the cockpit a long time that night enjoying the strangely
quiet mood of the Powhatan. The old river flowed so peacefully that it
mirrored all the sky above; and we looked down into a maze of stars
with the sea-tide running through. Then a blinding light put out all
our stars as the night boat from Richmond came down the river and
trained her searchlight so that it picked Gadabout out of the darkness.
Our whistle saluted with three good blasts. The searchlight responded
by making three profound bows--so profound that they reached from the
high heavens down to the water at our feet. Then, it suddenly whipped
to the front to pick out the steamer's course again through the
darkness of the night.

While lying at anchor in front of Upper Weyanoke, we made further
visits at the plantation home. Despite the ravages of war and of two
destructive fires, relics of old-time life are at this plantation too.
It was pitiful, but amusing as well, to hear how some of these escaped
the war-time vandalism. The soldiers who had stripped the home--even of
carpets--when they left the plantation to cross the James, would have
been chagrined could they have looked back over the river and have seen
old family treasures coming out from secret nooks and old family silver
from a hollow tree.

Mrs. Douthat told us how Nature favoured Grant in the crossing of the
James. Though comparatively the river is so narrow at the point of the
Weyanoke peninsula, yet to get to the stream at that point it was
necessary for the Federal forces to traverse an extensive swamp.
Apparently the swamp was impassable; but the officers found, running
through it, a most peculiar formation--a natural ridge of solid earth.
It was a ready-made military roadway upon which the troops could pass
through the swamp and reach the river. Mr. Douthat always declared that
"The Almighty had built it for them."

Across the James from Weyanoke lies Fleur de Hundred. One day, with a
daughter and a son of the Weyanoke household aboard, we sailed over to
visit the old plantation. We knew that we should find nothing in the
way of plantation life there, as the estate has long lain idle; and we
knew also that no mark was left on the broad acres to tell of the life
of colonial days. But the broad acres themselves were there, and they
would remember the old times no doubt; and perhaps, lying in the
sunshine and with nothing in the world to do, they might tell us
things.

We knew somewhat about Fleur de Hundred ourselves. In 1618 Sir George
Yeardley, governor of the colony (the same who owned Weyanoke),
patented these lands and gave them the name that has scarcely been
spelled twice alike since. Sir George sold the plantation to Captain
Abraham Piersey.

We sought to trace the successive owners on beyond Abraham; but they
married and died at such a rate that we got lost in the confusion
somewhere between the altar and the tomb, and gave the matter up. Two
well established customs among the early colonists seem to have been to
die early and to marry often. Perhaps they usually reversed the order;
but, at any rate, dying in middle age after having married "thirdly" or
"fifthly"--yes, even "sixthly"--makes top-heavy family trees and
puzzling lines of descent.

In this instance, we were quite content to skip to the opening of the
nineteenth century when Fleur de Hundred became the property of John V.
Willcox, in whose descendants it has ever since remained.

Landing upon a pebbly beach beside the ruins of a pier, we took a long
walk inland to the present-day home. While historic Fleur de Hundred is
now allowed to lie idle, its plantation life all gone, yet its home
life continues and the old-time hospitality remains, as we found in
that afternoon visit. And when we set our faces toward Gadabout again,
Nautica had roses and lavender and violets from an old garden that
refused to stop blooming with the rest of the plantation, and the
Commodore treasured a rare pamphlet upon early Virginia that only
Virginia courtesy would have entrusted to a stranger.

Through the quiet of the sleeping plantation, we took our way toward
the river. Some bees had found late sweetness along the overgrown
roadway. The air was still and sweet with the scent of sun-drying
herbs. A lagging sail was on old Powhatan. About us on every hand lay
the historic soil of Fleur de Hundred. We wondered where the
manor-house had stood in those early colonial days when Sir George
Yeardley, the governor, made his home here, with many indented servants
and half the negroes in the colony to serve him; and where had been the
several dwellings and store-houses, stoutly palisaded, that had formed
quite a village for his day.

[Illustration: PRESENT-DAY FLEUR DE HUNDRED.]

It is not recorded that the Governor was a great smoker, but he was an
enthusiastic grower of tobacco and may almost be said to have been the
father of the industry. Doubtless, in his time, most of these fertile
acres were covered with the strange weed that the Englishmen had got
from the village gardens of the red man.

But here were grown maize and wheat also; and to grind these Sir George
built--over there on the point of the plantation--the first windmill in
America.

In the eyes of the savages, he must have waxed to the stature of a
great medicine man, when he made of wood the long arms that beckoned to
the winds and made them come to grind his grain. Through all time, had
not their fathers (or rather their mothers) had to steep grain for
twelve hours; then laboriously pound it in stone mortars; and then sift
it through baskets woven of river reeds?

Less matter for wonderment was that long-armed creature on the point of
land to Hans Houten and Heinrich Elkens, sailing up the James in the
White Dove with good Holland sack for barter. These sturdy mariners
from the dyke-and-windmill country would regard the contrivance with
more critical eyes than could the red man from the bow-and-arrow
wilderness.

But we saw nothing of windmill or of palisaded village or of royal
governor; and field and meadow and woodland all seemed too sleepy to
tell us much about them. They only served to recall the tantalizing,
broken bits that the records give of the picturesque life that was
here--of colonial pomp and savage dignity, of London trade and Indian
barter, of English games and merriment, of colonial trials and
tragedies: all this of which we know, yet know so little.

And so we left the old plantation dreaming in the autumn sunshine--left
it to the poets and to the story-tellers, who seem to have adopted it.
They know how to weave the spells that bring back old manor-houses and
gallants and ladies and tall London ships and the vanished scenes of
love and of war. The place belongs to them; old Fleur de Hundred--half
real and half ideal--an old-time bit of story-land.




CHAPTER XVIII

GADABOUT GOES TO CHURCH


It was the day before Thanksgiving when the houseboat Gadabout, with
her good-byes all said, fished up her anchor from the river bottom in
front of Weyanoke, and started off to find another place to drop it
farther up the stream. She was ready for the holiday. The material for
her Thanksgiving dinner was all aboard: part of it canned and boxed as
the steamer had just brought it from Norfolk; and the rest of it, and
the best of it, plump and gobbling on the stern.

But Gadabout's preparations for the day had not stopped here. Not only
had she provided the season's feast, but she had diligently inquired of
her chart and of her neighbours where she might take her family to
church. The chart had told her of a little stream, called Herring
Creek, a few miles farther up the James, and had shown her a mark upon
the bank of the creek that it called Westover Church. The neighbours
had said that the chart was right; and had added that the church was a
colonial one still in use, and doubtless Thanksgiving services would be
held there. Fortunately, Herring Creek was a stream that Gadabout had
intended running into anyway, as it would be the anchorage most
convenient to the next colonial estate that she should visit--the
plantation of Westover from which the church had taken its name.

From Weyanoke to the old church was not very far; but, as Gadabout had
one or two things to stop for on the way and as she might be delayed by
the tide, this bright Wednesday morning found her bustling up the river
almost afraid that she would be late for service.

Doubtless, in her haste, she was quite put out when we threw the wheel
to starboard as she was passing Court House Creek, and carried her
somewhat out of her way. All that we did it for was to run in close to
look at some "stobs" just showing above the water. At the mouths of
most of the creeks along the James are such "stobs" or broken pilings.
They are the ruins of old-time piers, the last vestige of a vanished,
picturesque river trade.

Ancient pilings have lasted well in the James; and these evidently once
belonged to the piers of up-creek colonial planters. They tell of the
day when ships from England, Holland, and the Indies sailed up the
river for barter with the colonists. While the planters whose estates
fronted directly on the James received their importations upon wharves
before their doors and delivered their tobacco in the same convenient
manner, the planters up the creeks were at more trouble in the matter.
The bars at the mouths of the streams kept the ships from entering; and
they had to wait outside while the planters brought their produce down
upon rafts and in shallow-draft barges, pirogues, and shallops.

Some of the most picturesque of the colonial river trade was at these
little creek-mouth piers. Here came not only the tall ships from
England bearing everything used upon the plantations from match-locks
and armour to satin bodice and perfumed periwig, from plow and spit to
Turkey-worked chairs and silver plate, from oatmeal, cheese, and wine
to nutmegs and Shakespeare's plays; but here came also tramp
craft--broad, deep-laden bottoms from the Netherlands, and English and
Dutch boats from the West Indies. These picturesque vagrant sails
sought their customers from landing to landing, and sold their cargoes
at comparatively low prices. Such a ship was assort of bargain boat for
these scattered settlers up the creeks of the James; a queer, transient
department store at the little cross-roads of tidewater.

There would be exchange of news as well as of commodities, and a
friendly rivalry in the matter of tales of adventure--the planter's
story of Indian attacks being pitted against the captain's yarn of the
"pyrats" that gave him chase off the "Isle of Devils." Then up the
masts of the trading ship the sails would go clacking, and the prow
that had touched the warm wharves of the Indies would point up the
river again, bound for the next landing. And the shallops of the
planter--after loading from the little pier with casks and bales still
strong of the ship's hold, of the tar of the ropes, of the salt of the
sea--would disappear up the forest stream.

A short distance above Court House Creek, Gadabout stopped at a landing
to get some oil. She was rather hurried and flustered about the matter,
as the steamer from Petersburg was coming around the point above and
would soon be making this same landing, and a schooner that was loading
was right in the way, and the first line that was thrown out broke, and
the engine stopped at the wrong time, and--all those people looking on!
Besides, this was supposed to be an interesting fishing point; but how
was a little houseboat to get a look at it, lying there alongside a big
schooner that she couldn't see over? Altogether, Gadabout fumed and
fussed so much here, pitching about in the choppy water, jerking her
ropes, and battering her big neighbour, that it was a relief to all
concerned when she got her oil aboard, cast off her ropes, and, giving
the schooner a last vindictive dig in the ribs, set off up the river.

Even after getting away from the schooner there was not much to be seen
at the landing. Yet, in season, the little place would be quite quaint
and bustling; for it was one of the many fishing hamlets along the
river.

The James has always been a favourite spawning-ground for sturgeon.
Those first colonists, writing enthusiastically of the newfound river,
declared "As for Sturgeon, all the World cannot be compared to it."
They told of a unique and spirited way the Indians had of catching
these huge, lubberly fish. In a narrow bend of the river where the
sturgeon crowded, an adroit fisherman would clap a noose over the tail
of a great fish (a fish perhaps much larger than himself) and go
plunging about with his powerful captive. And he was accounted
"cockarouse," brave fellow, who kept his hold, diving and swimming, and
finally towed his catch ashore.

The colonists early turned their attention to sturgeon fishing. The roe
they prepared and shipped abroad for the Russians' piquant table
delicacy. The grim irony of it--half famished colonists shipping
caviar!

To-day the coming of the sturgeon puts life into the little hamlets
like the one we had just passed, and dots their sandy beaches with the
bateaux and the drying nets of the fishermen.

[Illustration: A FISHING HAMLET.]

We passed the down-bound steamer near Buckler's Point and her heavy
swell came rolling across toward us. Almost instinctively we turned our
craft crosswise to the river to face the coming waves; for to take them
broadside meant a weary picking up of fragments from the cabin floors,
and a premature commingling of the contents of the refrigerator. Just
beyond Buckler's Point we came to the opening into Herring Creek and,
passing readily over the bar, went on up the little stream. As we
sailed along we caught glimpses to port of the warm, red walls of a
stately building that we knew to be Westover.

[Illustration: A RIVER LANDING.]

We found Herring Creek a good, lazy houseboating waterway; a brown
ribbon of marsh stream wandering aimlessly among the rushes. Turn after
turn, and the marshes still kept us company--the quiet, lone marshes
that had come to have such a charm for us. Evidently, they were
beginning to feel that the year was growing old. Greens were sobering
into browns, and near the water's edge were tips of silvery white. The
frowsy-looking grassy bunches, here and there, were ducking blinds,
where hunters soon would be in hiding with their wooden decoys floating
near.

Like some great marsh creature herself, Gadabout followed the winding
way, puffing along contentedly. Sometimes, when the turns were too
sharp for her liking, she swung to them lazily, with a long purr of
water at bow and stern, and seemed about to wallow off through the
rushes.

Now something of a bank developed along our starboard side. It grew
into a bluff covered with pines and thick-coated cedars and
white-trunked sycamores and gray beeches. This woodland too had the
year writ old. The surviving green of cedar and pine could not hide the
telltale leafless trees that stood between. But more significant than
leafless trees was the luxuriant holly with its ripe, red berries,
gayly ready for Christmas decorations and to grace the birth of a new
year.

And yet, these were among the most glorious days for houseboating:
tonic days with a hint of winter in the chill, crisp air, and dreamy
days with a lingering of summer in the sun's warm glow. The enervating
heat was over, and the worrisome insects were gone. In peace we could
sail in the marsh stream or climb the banks for ferns and holly.
Gadabout moved with masses of pale reeds, spicy boughs of cedar, bay
branches, and glowing holly nodding on her bow. The air was no longer
filled with the song of birds; but it was alive and cheerily a-twitter
with their fat flittings from seeds to berries, from marsh to woodland.
Heartily we declared that it was better to go an-Autumning than
a-Maying.

After a while there were signs of people about. Little boats were
nosing into the bank here and there, and occasionally a white farmhouse
would peep over the bluff above our water-trail.

[Illustration: "LITTLE BOATS WERE NOSING INTO THE BANK HERE AND
THERE."]

It was along toward dinner time when, according to our count, the
houseboat had rounded as many bends as the chart seemed to require, and
ought to be near Westover Church. So, upon catching sight through the
trees of a brick building up on the bluff, we concluded that Gadabout
had reached her journey's end, and an anchor was dropped.

Toward evening Nautica and the Commodore went ashore. At the top of the
hill was a little graveyard, and standing in it was the old church that
we had come to see. It was a small building and plain, but of historic
interest. As originally built, about the middle of the seventeenth
century, it stood not here but down on the shore of the James at
Westover. One of the earliest churches in the country, and then
standing on one of the greatest estates in Virginia, it was a typical
centre of colonial life; and gathered about it, in the little graveyard
by the river, were the tombs of noted colonial dead.

About the middle of the eighteenth century the church was moved to its
present site. Enclosed within a brick wall and with the tombs of
generations of worshippers again clustering about it, Westover Church
had settled down once more to revered old age when the ravages of war
swept over the land. In that sad war of brothers over a union that this
church had seen formed, over soil that it had seen won from Great
Britain, the humble old House of God was left dismantled, its graveyard
walls thrown down, and its tombs broken. After the war, the church was
repaired, and it is still the place of worship for the countryside.

The rectory stood on a bluff near by, overlooking the wide stretch of
marsh and the far windings of the stream. We found that the latest of
the long line of rectors and equally important rectors' wives that
Westover Church has known were the Reverend and Mrs. Cornick, who told
us of the hopes of the little community that the Government would yet
pay indemnity for the injury done by Federal soldiers to the old
church.

The next morning brought so fine a Thanksgiving Day that our gratitude
rose up with the sun--though the rest of us awaited a more convenient
hour. The air was crisp; the sky was unclouded. When, in good time for
morning service, we went up the hill to the old brick church, we saw
horses and carriages lined along the fence. Inside the building some of
the people who had come early were having neighbourly confidences over
the backs of the pews.

Naturally our thoughts went wandering between service and sermon and
church. Sometimes (and through no fault of the good rector either), we
would find ourselves far back in the story of that colonial house of
worship, and full two hundred years away from the text. We would see
this old church as it stood at first on the wild bank of the James, and
the families of those early planters gathering in. They would come from
up and down the river; some in pirogues and pinnaces and sloops, and
some on horseback with the fair dames on pillions behind. Or, somewhat
later, lordly coaches would roll to the door bearing colonial grandees.

The plain little church had seen brave attire in those days, when the
parish worshipped in flowered silks and embroidered waistcoats and
laced head-dresses and powdered periwigs. Then, after the services,
would come the social hour, when dinner invitations went round, parties
were planned, and there was a general changing about of the guests that
were always filling Virginia homes. Doubtless, the lavish hospitality
of the master of Westover, who attended this church, caused quite a
Sunday pilgrimage to that mansion of his that we had glimpsed through
the trees as Gadabout entered Herring Creek.

We went out past chatting groups (stopping for the greeting of the
rector and his wife); past horses that were being unhitched and
vehicles that were cramping and creaking; on down to the stream where
geese were paddling in the marshes, and overhead the rectory doves were
wheeling in the sunny air. Rowing down the creek toward the houseboat,
we stopped here and there to gather reeds and holly.

"This is the first time that we have ever gone to church by boat," said
the Commodore.

"Yes," answered Nautica, "and it was just the way to do it. We have
attended a colonial church in a quite colonial way."

When we sat down to our Thanksgiving dinner, we felt almost like
landlubbers again; for while our home acre was a watery one and
Gadabout, boat-like, swung and swayed, yet we had real neighbours up on
the bluff and there was even a church next door. Later, we saw coming
down the stream some good after-dinner cheer--our rowboat with mail
that had been accumulating for days at Westover. Letters and papers and
packages and magazines were welcomed aboard. Comfortably we settled
down for an evening of catching up with the world.

Next morning Gadabout made an uneventful run down the stream, anchored
just within the mouth of the creek, and sent Henry off into the country
foraging.

Of course certain provisioning arrangements followed Gadabout from
harbour to harbour. Boxes of groceries came up from Norfolk or down
from Richmond by steamer; and also every few days a big cake of ice
arrived in a travelling suit of burlap lined with sawdust. But that
still left many things to be obtained along the way. As most of the
country stores were back from the river, the sailor, on horseback or in
a cart, made many a long provisioning trip.

Toward evening when there came a gentle bump upon Gadabout's guard and
the rattle of a chain upon her cleat, we went out to see what the
supply boat had brought. As soon as we heard the troubled sputtering,
"An' I mos' give up gittin' anything," we knew that the little
shore-boat was a nautical horn of plenty. And so she proved as her
cargo came aboard to an accompaniment of running comment.

"I don' know _where_ I been, an' if I had to go back, I couldn' do it.
That's butter there--that'll do till the nex' box comes. The store
didn' have much of anything; an' I struck out into the country, I did,
an' mos' los' myse'f. But the horse he knowed the way. I got another
turkey, anyhow. I'm cert'nly glad we jes' begun to eat 'em if we got to
eat 'em steady. The man had done sold him; but I used my silver tongue,
I did, an' he let me have him. There's some apples an' turnips an'
sweet potatoes. I got them at the store. An' where I got them eggs at,
I could get a couple of chickens nex' week if I could jes' fin' the
place."

So the fruits of the foraging came tumbling aboard--a promising, goodly
array. And Gadabout had no troubled dreams that night of a wolf
swimming up to her door.




CHAPTER XIX

WESTOVER, THE HOME OF A COLONIAL BELLE


On the following day, Gadabout scrambled across the flats out into the
James again, intent upon a visit to Westover.

Unlike Brandon, Westover stands within sight from the river; and we had
a good view of the old homestead as we passed by to make our landing at
the steamer pier which is a little above the house.

There was a break in the tree-fringe on the north bank of the James. A
sea-wall extended along the water's edge, and from either end of it a
brick wall ran far inland. Within the spacious enclosure, the grounds
swept back and up from the river, with noble trees and close-cut lawn;
and crowning the slope stood the beautiful old mansion. A stately
central building of red brick, with dormer windows in its steep-pitched
roof, rose between low flanking corridors and wings like some overlord
with his faithful vassals in attendance. In neutral brown the quiet
river, in shadowy green the sloping lawn, in dull red and gleaming
white the lofty, many-windowed front of Westover--a picture that drew
Gadabout in close to the shoals that day.

The bit of history that goes with the picture gives us many glimpses of
old-time elegance and romance, and helps us to a good idea of some of
the pretentious phases of colonial life. It runs in this way.

Back in the beginnings of things American, when the dissatisfied
planters at James Towne were starting out to establish their estates
along the river, these lands by Herring Creek attracted attention.
Under the name of Westover they soon became the property of the Byrd
family, and rose to prominence among colonial estates in connection
with the fortunes of that distinguished house.

The golden age of Westover was in the days of the second William Byrd,
who was one of the most striking figures of colonial times. Handsome,
learned, witty, and capable; with exquisite taste and elegant culture
fashioned in the friendship of English noblemen; with almost endless
acres and boundless wealth--a cavalier of cavaliers was this
London-bred Virginian.

[Illustration: RIVERWARD FRONT OF WESTOVER.]

It is surprising that this _beau-ideal_ should have remained spouseless
for two years after coming into his estate. He must have been
considered the most fascinating matrimonial possibility in the colony.
One can imagine how in a gathering of Virginia maidens intent upon
their tambour embroidery, when the name of Westover's young master came
up, a circle of eyelashes went down and a circle of tender hearts went
both up and down. The prize was finally won by Lucy Parke, daughter of
Colonel Daniel Parke whose portrait hangs at Brandon.

Some years later, family litigation called Colonel Byrd to England,
where his wife and little daughter, Evelyn, joined him, and where his
wife soon died. The residence in London continued for a number of
years; and resulted in giving the Colonel a new wife in the person of a
rich young widow, and in giving social finish and a broken heart to
Evelyn Byrd.

Under the guidance of her father, she was educated after the manner of
the fashionable life of that day. It must have been a time quite to the
elegant Colonel's liking when London turned in admiration to his
daughter; when, but sixteen and already crowned with social successes,
the cultured beauty from the plantation on the James was presented at
the English Court.

The stories of Evelyn Byrd's London experiences bring many noted names
into the train of those who did her honour: the Lords Chesterfield and
Oxford, and Pope at the height of his glory, and the cynical Lord
Hervey, and Beau Nash, the autocrat of Bath. There should be mentioned
too that old courtier (whoever he was) whose admiration was expressed
in the rather mild witticism, "I no longer wonder that young men are
anxious to go to Virginia to study ornithology, since such beautiful
_birds_ are to be found there."

It was in the midst of this London gayety that Evelyn Byrd so literally
met her fate in meeting the grandson of Lord Peterborough, Charles
Mordaunt. The story of that unhappy love affair--the devoted pair, the
opposition of the maiden's father, and the separation of the
lovers--has become an oft-told but ever attractive romance.

About 1726, Colonel Byrd returned with his family to Virginia; and it
was then, it seems, that he built the present mansion at Westover, and
entered upon the almost sumptuous life there that was to make the
plantation famous.

And Westover was a worthy setting for the worthy Colonel. Without the
home, were lawns and gardens beautiful with native and imported trees,
shrubs, and vines; and within the home, spacious rooms with rich
furnishings and art treasures gathered in England and on the Continent.
Here too was one of the largest and most valuable collections of books
in the colonies. As a matter of course, this home was a distinguished
social centre, drawing to itself the most brilliant colonial society.

Colonel Byrd died in 1744, and was buried in the old garden when it was
in all its summer glory. In the next generation, Westover passed to
strangers, having been for a century and a quarter the home of the
Byrds, who for three successive generations had held proud position in
colonial America.

Since then, the plantation has suffered from many changes of ownership,
and from the Civil War. The mansion was held several times by the
Federal forces, being used as headquarters and as an army storehouse.
Among the war injuries it sustained was the destruction of one wing.
The destroyed portion has been rebuilt recently by the present owner of
the estate, Mrs. C. Sears Ramsay. Under her ownership, Westover has had
added interest, especially for lovers of the colonial, on account of
such extensive restoration as has made the old home one of the finest
examples of eighteenth century architecture and furnishing in America.

Surely while we have been telling the story of Westover, Gadabout has
had time to reach the steamboat pier above the house; and we may take
it that she is safely tied to the pilings.

Once ashore, Nautica and the Commodore found that a short walk along
the river bluff brought them to an entrance to the Westover grounds.
Gates of wrought iron, with perhaps a martlet from the Byrd coat of
arms above them, swung between tall pillars in the wall. From this
entrance, a pathway approached the homestead diagonally, and afforded
charming views of the house and its surroundings. To our right as we
walked, the lawn, thick set with trees, sloped gently to the river
wall. To our left, the views came in broken, picturesque bits; a
stretch of shrubbery, a reach of garden wall, some quaint outbuildings
in warm, dull red, a glimpse of courtyard beyond a corner of box, and
then the old home itself.

[Illustration: THE HALL, WITH ITS CARVED MAHOGANY STAIRCASE.]

The riverward portal of Westover stands tall, white, and finely typical
of its day. Above squared stone steps, the double doors with the
fanlight above them are framed by two engaged columns supporting an
elaborate pediment that has the symbolic pineapple in the centre.

We stood before the fine entrance, fancy painting the old-time scene
within; that scene of eighteenth century elegance which is the
traditional picture of colonial Westover. The door opened, and we
entered upon perhaps quite as charming an eighteenth century scene,
which is the Westover of to-day.

A panelled hall extended through the house, the double doors at the
farther end opening upon a glass-enclosed vestibule. About midway, and
from beneath a heavy crystal chandelier, the stairway of carved
mahogany rose to a landing, where an ancient clock stood tall and dark,
then turned and wound to the rooms above.

To the right of the hall was the drawing-room. Passing over its
threshold, we thought of those old colonial days, the days of Colonel
Byrd. As in his time, the light came subdued through the
deep-casemented windows. It fell upon the walls that he had so
handsomely panelled, upon the ceiling that he had ornamented in the
delicate putty-work of his day, and upon furniture in carved mahogany
that was of the period of his ownership of Westover.

At the farther end of the room was the noted mantelpiece imported from
Italy by Colonel Byrd. It is an elaborate creation of Italian marble
with relief design in white upon a black background. In front of it, on
either hand, stood handsome brass torcheres, with their suggestion of
the mellow candle-light that was wont to fall in this same room upon
the courtly Colonel, the lovely Evelyn, and those brilliant assemblages
of colonial times.

Opening also from the hall are the dining-room with its high colonial
mantel and typical Virginia buffet, the French morning-room with its
gray green tints and its touches of gilt, and the library with its old
chimney-piece, high black fire-dogs, and quaint fire-tending irons. All
the rooms have their colonial panelling, deep window-seats, and open
fireplaces.

[Illustration: THE HEPPLEWHITE SIDEBOARD WITH BUTLER'S DESK.]

In the dining-room our interest was quickened upon our being told that
the handsome sideboard had belonged to the Byrd family. It is believed
to be a Hepplewhite, though similar in lines to a rare design of
Sheraton's. Above the sideboard a circular, concave mirror of elaborate
eighteenth century type accentuates the period furnishing of the room.

[Illustration: "FOUR-POSTERS AND THE THINGS OF FOUR-POSTER DAYS."]

Up-stairs even more than below, we felt the atmosphere of the olden
time. Perhaps passing the ancient clock on the landing helped to set us
back a century or two. We were quite prepared for the quiet,
old-fashioned upper hall, with its richness half lost in the shadows
and with its sleepy night-stand holding a brass house lantern and a
prim array of candles in brass candlesticks.

In the bedrooms were four-posters and the things of four-poster days.
Wing-cheek chairs of cozy depths told of old-time fireside dreams; a
work-table with attenuated legs called to mind the wearisome needlework
of our foremothers; and a brass warming-pan carried us back to the
times when only such devices could make tolerable the frigid winter
beds of our ancestors.

One of the riverward bedrooms is the romantic centre of Westover. It
now belongs to the little daughter of the house; but nearly two
centuries ago it was the room of Evelyn Byrd. Doubtless, in a sense, it
will always be hers. The soft toned panelled walls, the old fireplace
opposite the door, and the cozy little dressing-room looking
gardenward, all seem to speak of her; and the imaginative visitor can
quite discern a graceful figure in colonial gown there in one of the
deep window seats that look out upon the pleasance and the river.

Here the unfortunate colonial beauty lived and died with the grief that
she brought from over the sea. Here she laid away the rich brocade, the
old court gown of brilliant, bitter memories that was shown to us at
Brandon. Through these windows she looked with ever more wistful eyes
out upon the river, her thoughts hurrying with its waters toward the
ocean and the lover beyond. And one day, it is said, a great ship from
London came, and it touched at the pier before her windows, and Charles
Mordaunt plead his cause with the stern father once more. But he plead
in vain, and the ship and the lover sailed away. For a while longer,
the colonial girl waited and looked out upon the river, then she too
went away and the romance was over.

[Illustration: THE ROMANTIC CENTRE OF WESTOVER; EVELYN BYRD'S OLD
ROOM.]

In the family circle at Westover to-day are Mrs. Ramsay, two sons, and
the little daughter, Elizabeth. Among well-known families appearing in
Mrs. Ramsay's ancestry are the Sears and the Gardiners of
Massachusetts, she being a descendant of Lyon Gardiner of Gardiner's
Island. She also claims kinship with the Randolphs and the Reeveses of
Virginia, and a collateral and remote connection with the Byrds.

When we returned to the steamer pier after our visit at Westover, we
found quite a wind on the river and the houseboat fretfully bumping the
pilings. We hastened aboard, ran down stream before a stiff wind, and
skurried back into our harbour in Herring Creek, where Gadabout settled
to her moorings as contented as a duck in the marshes.




CHAPTER XX

AN OLD COURTYARD AND A SUN-DIAL


For some time that little anchorage was our watery home acre. We came
to call it our sunrise harbour. The opening where creek and river met
faced to the east; and it was well worth while, if the morning was not
too chill, to have an eye on that opening when the sun came up.
Breaking through the mist veil that hung over the James, he cast a
golden pontoon across the river, and then came over in all his
splendour. He made straight for the mouth of our little creek, flooding
wood and marsh with misty glow, and fairly crowding his glory into the
narrow channel.

One morning, quite in keeping with the splendid burst of dawn, a loud
report rang out over the marshes like the sound of a sunrise gun. But
it was no salute to the orb of day. Somebody was poaching. More shots
followed; and ducks, quacking loudly, fluttered up out of the marshes.
Later, when we were at breakfast, a long rowboat, containing a man and
a pile of brush and doubtless some ducks with the fine flavour of the
forbidden, came out from a break in the marshes and went hurriedly up
the stream.

As we lay in our harbour, we found ourselves almost unconsciously
listening for a sound that seemed to belong to those chill, gray days.
At last, from somewhere high up in the air, it came ringing down to
us--the stirring "honk, honk" of the wild goose. Though our eyes
searched the heavens, we could see nothing of the living wedge of
flight up there that was cleaving its way southward with the speed of
the wind. But we felt the thrill of that wild, stirring cry and were
satisfied.

Whether the geese brought it or not, bad weather came with them. Half a
gale came driving the rain before it down the river. Gadabout lay with
her bulkheads closed tight about her forward cockpit, and must have
looked most dismal. But inside, dry and warm, she was a very cheery
little craft. We listened quite contentedly to the uproar, looking out
from our windows upon windswept marsh and scudding clouds and the fussy
little wavelets of our harbour. It added to our sense of coziness to
look through a stern window out upon the river where the waters piled
and broke white, in their midst an anchored schooner with swaying
masts, tipsy between wind and tide.

One day when the heavens had gone blue again, though tattered clouds
were still racing across, we hoisted anchor for another visit to
Westover. When Gadabout poked her head out of the creek, she saw a
queer looking craft busy on the James. It was a government buoy-tender,
an awkward side-wheeler with a derrick forward, and big red sticks and
black ones lying on deck.

As we passed the tender, it was moving the red buoy at the mouth of our
creek farther out into the river. Evidently the shoals were encroaching
upon the channel. Gadabout showed little interest in the strange boat
and its doings; and, unconcernedly turning her back, headed up the
river. Of course buoys were all very well and she found them quite a
help in getting about; but all this fussy shifting of them by a few
feet mattered little to her, for she was on the wrong side of them most
of the time anyway.

However, we thought of how differently the watchful buoy-tender would
be regarded by the heavy laden freighters that would pass that way,
their rusty hulls plowing deep. To them how important that each buoy,
each inanimate flagman of the river route, should stand true where
danger lies and truly point the fairway.

Reaching the little cove below the steamboat pier, Gadabout ran close
in and cast anchor. She may well have been proud of the quite
perceptible waves that she sent rolling to the shore and of the quite
audible swish that they made on the beach.

That morning we saw the landward front of Westover, and straightway
forgot all about the more pretentious river front. You step from the
house down into an old-time courtyard. At first you do not see much of
the courtyard itself, for you have heard of its noted entrance gates,
perhaps the first example of ornamental iron-work in the colonies, and
they stand quite conspicuously in front of you. These gates were
imported from England by Colonel William Byrd, whose initials, W.E.B.,
appear inwrought in monogram.

Two great birds standing on stone balls top the gate-posts. With a fine
disregard of both ornithology and heraldry these birds have often been
spoken of as martlets--the martlet appearing in the Byrd coat of arms.
They are evidently eagles, and pretty well developed specimens.
American eagles, we might call them, if they had not lighted upon these
gate-posts before the American nation adopted its emblem--indeed before
the American nation was born. When, in the days of the Civil War, the
Federal troops came along, the soldiers seem to have stood strictly
upon chronology, and to have determined that these fine
prerevolutionary birds were not entitled to any immunity as national
emblems nor even as kinsfolk of "Old Abe." And so their tough feathers
flattened many a bullet, and one eagle had to be sent to Richmond to
get some toes and a new tail.

Turning from the gates, your eyes follow down the courtyard toward the
garden. Walls, outbuildings, the quaint cellar-hut, even the
diamond-shaped stepping-stones along the way, all help to make up a
characteristic colonial scene.

And for what striking bits of colonial life has this old courtyard been
the setting! Now the exquisite Colonel and his ladies would visit the
little capital of Williamsburg; so, at his door, stands ready his
"lordly coach and six with liveried outriders in waiting." Again, the
great gates are thrown open to guests arriving on horseback and in
chariots and chairs. Pompous, beruffled dignitaries vie with gay
gallants in obeisances and compliments to the ladies, and in assisting
them to alight without harm to brocades and laces and rich cloaks and
wide-hooped petticoats. And, yet again, all is a-bustle here with
scarlet-coated horsemen and baying hounds and hurrying black boys and
all that goes to

    "Proclaim a hunting-morning."

When the ancient courtyard is left empty again--the colonial coaches
rolled off through the gates; the colonial huntsmen up and away and now
but distant points of red, fading to the music of hounds and horns--we
fall to wondering about those early Virginians.

Such, largely, was their life--abundant leisure, elegant display,
exuberant merrymaking. Just such a life, by all the rules, as would
produce a useless race devoid of any solidity of mind or of character.
Just such a life as in fact produced a race of high-minded, intelligent,
and capable men; a race that gave us Washington, Jefferson, Henry,
Madison, Marshall, Monroe, and the scarcely lesser names on down the
long list of those wonderful sons of the Old Dominion.

It would do no good to ask even that colonial courtyard for an
explanation of all this. It simply recalled what it had seen and heard.
Nor could we of to-day understand the explanation were we to get it.
Unable to reconcile industry and leisure, we underrate the real work
that went with the idling of those early Virginians; and as to the
gayety, we long ago lost sight of the fact that merrymaking is
man-making.

Turning from the gateway, we went down the old courtyard. We followed a
walk that led past the kitchen and the dairy, skirted a wall, and then
turned through a box-shaded gateway into the garden.

Those December days were not the season of gardens, even in Virginia.
The paths led us not where bloom was, but where bloom had been. Yet,
truly all times are garden times where warm red walls shut you in with
shadowing trees and shrubs, and where ancient box and ivy hedge the
prim old ways.

How much our colonial forefathers thought of their gardens! and how
much their English forefathers thought of theirs! It was in the blood
to have a garden, and to have it walled, and to sit and to walk and to
talk in it.

[Illustration: THE COLONIAL COURTYARD GATES.]

Walking and talking that day with Westover's mistress in Westover's
garden, we soon came upon the tomb of the noted William Byrd.
Representative as was this master of Westover of all that was most
elegant in the colonial life of his day, he was much more than merely a
man of the fashionable world. Ability of a high order went with the
beauty and the ruffles and the powder. He was statesman, scholar, and
author; and in England he had been made, for his proficiency in
science, a fellow of the Royal Society.

[Illustration: TOMB OF COLONEL WILLIAM BYRD.]


We owe a great deal to this old-time grandee for the glimpses his
writings give us of colonial life in the South during the generation
just preceding that of Washington. Unlike the Northern colonists, the
Southern ones left little record of themselves. So much the more
valuable, then, the accounts given by this remarkable man of the times.

We seemed turning from an impressive text as we left the tomb; left the
old grand seignior in his little six feet of earth--six feet out of
175,000 acres! But, after all, it was a rueful text; not one for
morning sunshine and blue sky, for hearts that yet beat strong, that
yet gloried in a boundless estate--all the bright world ours. And the
birds were holding carnival over by the stone basin under the ram's
head on the wall; and the river was dancing in the sunlight; and
besides, we had caught sight of a sun-dial there in that old colonial
garden by the banks of the "King's River"! To he sure we were told that
this was not an ancient timepiece of the sun. We were much too late to
see the original sun-dial of this garden. That old colonial worthy had
found time too long for its marking. Worn with the years that it had
told, it had leaned and dozed, and lost count, and was gone.

But it is not so much that a garden should have an _old_ sun-dial, as
that it should have a sun-dial. For the matter of that, they are all
old. Venerableness is their birthright. Whoever thinks of youth in a
sun-dial? Were you unboxing one just from the maker would you not
expect to find it moss-grown?

Indeed, are these timepieces of sun and shadow made at all, or do they
just occur here and there like hoary rocks and mossy springs? And what
a charming provision of Nature it is that they so often occur in
gardens! Sun-dials and gardens! Sunshine-and-shadow time for plants to
grow by; sunshine-and-shadow time for flowers to bloom by. Surely this
is the only time by which a morning-glory should waken, by which a
four-o'clock should know its hour, by which an evening primrose should
time its fragrant bloom.

Sun-dials and gardens! Sunshine-and-shadow time for birds to sing by;
sunshine-and-shadow time for mortals to laze and dream by. Beautiful,
silent, peaceful time; where no clocks strike the passing hours, no
whistles scream the round of toil. What time like that of the
noiseless, scarce-moving shadow upon the dial for a sleepy old garden
and a day-dreamer in the sunshine? And if, perchance, the garden-lover
is not building castles in Spain, but has crept into the garden only
for brief rest from the fray, or to give a weary clock-driven soul an
hour with its Maker, then truly again--sun-dials and gardens! Sun-dial
time to rest the fainting heart by; sun-dial time for the troubled soul
to reach up to God by. Sun-dials and gardens!

Be the garden-lover what he may--day-dreamer, fainting heart, troubled
soul--how gently the shadow-finger on the dial points the time for him!
How softly, almost lingeringly, it lets the moments slip from gold to
gray, seeking to give him, to the full and unfretted, his little hour
in the sunshine!

And yet, the gentlest marker of time must mark. It may mark very softly
those passing moments of life's lessening span; but when we come to
look again, the shadow has moved on. Nor can childish interference
avail. Spread your rebellious hands upon the dial; you shall only see
the shadow come stealing through your fingers. Stand defiantly in the
path of the sunlight, and blot out the telltale dial shadow with your
own; it but waits until you step aside, then leaps across the moments
you have wasted. Not for you shall the boon to the sick and penitent
King of Judah be repeated; not for you shall the shadow turn backward
on the sun-dial of Ahaz.




CHAPTER XXI

AN UNDERGROUND MYSTERY AND A DUCKING-STOOL


For a day or two Gadabout lay out in the James in front of Westover.
One evening it turned cold and a strong wind set in, coming straight at
us across the river. As usual, when Gadabout was anchored on a stormy
night near a lee shore, we cast a lead out ahead, so as to be able to
tell (after it should become too dark to see the land) whether or not
we were dragging anchor.

That is, we called it casting a lead, though in reality the process
consisted in throwing out into the river (as far ahead of us as we
could) a piece of old iron with a string tied to it. Then, at any time,
by gathering up the loose end of the string that lay in the cockpit,
one could detect by the outgo of the line any tendency on the part of
Gadabout to run away with her anchor. It was a very simple device and
not exactly original, having doubtless been used a little earlier by
Christopher Columbus and Noah and those people. But we never permitted
any question of priority to dampen our interest in the thing.

As the evening wore on the storm held steadily; steadily and rapidly
the barometer kept counting backward; and we took the river's width in
wind and sea for half the night. We could not sleep, and sat bolstered
up in our chairs. The Commodore quite likely did breathe audibly now
and then; but Nautica was wide awake, as shown by her announcing with
feeling and frequency that "she knew we were dragging anchor and were
just about to be horribly wrecked upon rocks or 'stobs' or something or
other."

The Commodore arose and busied himself about cockpit and cabin
mysteriously. When he finished his labours, the string from the piece
of iron out in the river came into the cabin through a hole in the wall
made for an engine bell cord. It ran along the ceiling to the after end
of the cabin, where a weight kept it taut. A handkerchief that could be
plainly seen even in the dim light, was fastened to the string just
where it passed above Nautica's head. By this time, the Commodore's
mystery was a mystery no longer; and Nautica was laughing.

"So that is to put an end to all my anxieties, is it?"

"Just so," said the Commodore. "When that anxious feeling comes, watch
the handkerchief. If it is moving toward the door, you may know that
your fears are better grounded than the anchors; but if it is not, try
to get a wink of sleep."

And the wind howled and the boat pitched; but Nautica gazed in such
relief at the immovable handkerchief that she fell asleep in her chair.
When she wakened with a start and looked anxiously at the handkerchief,
it was too late--the storm was over.

In the morning there was nothing to show for all that night's
commotion. Smooth, peaceful, and lazy, old Powhatan was loitering in
the sunlight to the sea. But Gadabout was not to be soothed into
forgetfulness of those night hours. As soon as she had her morning work
done up, she hoisted anchor and headed again for her quiet harbour in
Herring Creek. After that, when we had a mind to go to Westover, we
usually had no mind to take Gadabout with us. Instead, we were more
likely to row up the river or to walk up the beach at low tide.

On the occasion of our last visit to the manor-house, we determined to
go "beachway." We ran our rowboat on a sandy point jutting into the
mouth of the creek, and took our way along the narrow strip of solid
land that lay between river and marsh. White-limbed sycamores and
tangled undergrowth went along with us, and sometimes inclined to take
up more than their share of the narrow way. Brilliant berries gleamed
on some bare, brown bushes, and the green leaves of the smilax
pretended that they grew there too. Along the beach, tall bunches of
reeds stood out against the brown of the river and the blue of the sky
in their waving slenderness.

Looking backward across the marshes, we could see the white railing on
Gadabout's upper deck and could catch the flutter of her flags through
the openings in the trees. As we neared Westover, a slope led to higher
land and to a riverward, side entrance to the grounds. Passing through
this, a tangle of vines swinging with the great iron gate, we followed
the walk toward the house.

Just before reaching the ballroom wing, we paused in front of a small
brick outbuilding to have a few appropriate shivers over what was under
it. From reading and from our talks at Westover, we knew about the
mysterious subterranean chambers down there. To be sure, we had not
seen them yet (one thing and another having got in the way of our
making a visit to them); but surely one need not always wait to see;
one can shiver a little anyway upon hearsay.

And the hearsay was like this. Somewhere underneath that brick
outbuilding was an opening down into the earth, like a dry well, some
fifteen or twenty feet deep. At the bottom, arched doorways on opposite
sides of the shaft opened into two small square rooms. The walls of the
well and of the rooms were cement; and the floors were paved with
brick. A round stone table used to stand in one of the rooms. From this
well once ran two passages or tunnels, large enough for people to go
through; one connecting with the house by a curious stairway in the old
wing that was destroyed in the war, and the other leading to the river.

We stood looking blankly at the closed outbuilding trying to imagine
the hidden rooms and passages beneath it. Tradition told us that they
were for refuge from the Indians. That explanation seemed well enough
at first. But before we could get into the spirit of it enough to catch
even the faintest bit of a warwhoop and to scuttle for the subterranean
chambers, we made up our minds that that was not what the things were
for anyway. There had ceased to be much danger from Indians along that
part of the James by the time even this old home at Westover was built.

So, casting about for a better explanation, we hit upon the idea that
William Byrd had constructed the underground rooms in imitation of
Pope's famous grotto, which the Colonel and his daughter Evelyn must
have seen when entertained by the poet in his villa at Twickenham. But
even after we had pictured the mysterious chambers all hung round with
mirrors, just like Pope's, and candles everywhere, we could see that so
tame a thing as the grotto theory would never do.

There were so many nice, awful things that such a place would be good
for. Spurring our jaded fancy with bits from Ali Baba and the Forty
Thieves, we got on famously for a while with a pirates' den. We had a
long, low, rakish ship lying in the river just off the tunnel's mouth;
black-bearded ruffians, with knives between their teeth, stealing
ashore and disappearing within the dark underground passage; the great
stone table down there heaped with Spanish gold; good Jamaica rum
pouring down wicked throats; the dark tunnels ever echoing the
rollicking chorus, "Six men sat on the dead man's chest"--when suddenly
it occurred to us that we were somewhat compromising the old colonial
grandee, Colonel Byrd. With that we gave the matter up. We quit staring
at a closed brick outbuilding with unseeable things down under it, and
went on our way. And, as it turned out that we never visited the
underground rooms after all, this was as near as we ever came to
solving the colonial mystery.

That day, sitting about the fireplace in Colonel Byrd's library, we
listened to a pleasant chapter in the story of an old manor-house--the
account of the recent restoration of Westover. As in most cases where
extensive rehabilitation of colonial homes has been attempted, an
interesting part of the work was the opening up of goodly old-time
fireplaces that the changing fashions of changing generations had
filled in with brick and mortar. Sometimes they had shrunk to the
dimensions of a modern grate; sometimes even to that of a stovepipe
hole. Indeed, what chronological mile-stones are the various forms of
our American fireplaces! As the historic dates grow larger, the
fireplaces grow smaller.

Of course Westover never had the hugest of fireplaces. Even when this
old home was built, the shrinkage in chimney-pieces had been going on
for some time. No longer was most of the side of a room in a blaze. No
longer was the flame fed by a backlog so huge that "a chain was
attached to it, and it was dragged in by a horse."

How far removed Westover was from the day of such things, is shown by
the noted mantelpiece in the drawing-room. Only with the coming of
smaller fireplaces came those elaborate mantelpieces. But the great
fireplaces of our ancestors yielded slowly, inch by inch, as it were;
and something of the goodly proportions they yet had in Colonel Byrd's
day, the hammer and chisel have shown at Westover.

If the exquisite Colonel's doubtless exquisite ghost haunts this home,
we can imagine his pleasure when, one wintry night, he found reopened
this fine old library fireplace, and sat him down to toast his shapely
calves (even ghostly, they must yet be shapely) in the genial old-time
glow.

Some of the most interesting features of the work of putting an old
homestead back into a period from which it has strayed, grow out of the
very limitations. At Westover, while conformity to colonial times is
carried far, even to the exclusion of rocking-chairs, yet there has
been no shrinking from anachronisms that comfort or convenience demand.

Eighteenth century fireplaces may blaze and crackle, and quite imagine
themselves to be still heating the old house; but somewhere down below
is a twentieth century furnace that is quietly doing most of the work.

[Illustration: THE DRAWING-ROOM MANTELPIECE AT WESTOVER.]

And what a shock it must be to the colonial ghosts when they stumble in
the dark over great claw feet, cold even as their own; the feet of
monstrous hollow things, white and awesome as themselves--the things
that moderns call bathtubs!

Over in the kitchen, unfortunately for the picturesque, all has to be
modern. There the eighteenth century furnishing breaks down altogether.
Not from the glowing heart of the old chimney-place, but from a huge,
homely range comes the gastronomic hospitality of present-day Westover.

No devotion to the eighteenth century can bring the colonial kitchen
back again; send the roaring blaze up the wide chimney; swing the crane
with the great kettle into the glow; and rebuild the quaint row of
skillet and gridiron and broiler, perched on their little legs over the
hot embers of the old hearthstone.

Westover has an interesting reminder of the colonial in a copy of an
old survey of the plantation that we saw that day. Our eyes quickly
caught the suggestive name given on the map to the low, sandy point at
the mouth of Herring Creek, where we had left our shore-boat to wait
for us. We had not known that it was a place of such associations as
the words "Ducking-stool Point" indicated.

Upon first landing there, we had been impressed with the unusual depth
of water just off that point; but we had not suspected how, in colonial
tunes, many a too-talkative woman had also been impressed with it. It
was the law, made and provided, that a ducking-stool should be set up
"neere the court-house in every county." So, doubtless, in accordance
with that law, a long pole used to reach out from our sandy point,
having a seat on the end of it, right over the deep water. And, also in
accordance with law, the end of the pole sometimes went down into the
water, and a shivering woman went with it. But what would you, when
"brabbling women slander and scandalize their neighbours, for which
their poore husbands are often brought into chargeable and vexatious
suits and cast in great damages"?

The survey showed, also, where Westover Church stood in colonial days.
Near the river a little way above the house, stood not only the church
but a court-house and a brewing-house, all in sociable and suggestive
proximity. We walked up the river bank to visit the spot.

[Illustration: TOMBS IN THE OLD WESTOVER CHURCHYARD. (In the foreground
is the tomb of Evelyn Byrd.)]

It is still marked by a few gravestones that remain in the deserted
churchyard. Among these is the altar-tomb of Evelyn Byrd. It stands
with an iron band about it, holding the aged stones in place. The
time-dimmed inscription tells us to "be reminded by this awful Tomb" of
many dismal things with which we refuse to associate our thoughts of
this lovely colonial girl.

Rather, we recall the story of her intimacy with Mrs. Anne Harrison of
Berkeley, and of the compact the two friends made, that whichever
should die first should appear at some time to the other. The tale goes
on to tell that Mrs. Harrison, after the death of her friend, was
walking over to Westover one evening, and as she passed the churchyard
she saw the ethereal figure of Evelyn Byrd there by the altar-tomb,
smiling in happy fulfilment of the strange tryst.

It was late afternoon when we were ready to take our way for the last
time down the strip of sandy beach that led from William Byrd's old
home to ours. The sun slanted low over the Powhatan; in its glow the
old manor-house stood out in all its stateliness. We reflected that
just as Westover looked then, it had looked when Colonel Byrd himself
used to step out from the marble portal to saunter among his trees and
flowers, or to take his faultless self out upon the pier perhaps to
watch the unloading of the ship from London Towne. Just so the old
house had looked through all those days when it was the scene of a
luxurious colonial life not excelled by that of the patroons of the
Hudson.

Looking from the home out upon the river we saw a low-laden vessel, all
sail spread to the soft, faltering breeze, coming slowly up stream on
the last of the tide. How she fitted into the old-time setting! She was
one of Colonel Byrd's freighting ships just in from overseas. After a
tempestuous voyage, and a narrow escape from the Spanish too, she had
safely entered Chesapeake Bay and now, the wind serving but ill, she
was slowly drifting up the river.

Soon she would touch at the old colonial pier swarming with plantation
negroes. To the rhythm of African melodies the cargo would come out of
the hold--mahogany furniture, a new statue for the garden, cases of
wine, casks of muscovado sugar, puncheons of rum, plantation machinery,
sweetmeats and spices, and some bewildered Irish cows. Quite likely,
picking their way daintily in the midst of the exciting scene, would
come the lady of the manor and Mistress Evelyn to make anxious inquiry
for boxes of London finery. And then--but, no! that vessel out on the
James, without stopping at all, had sailed on past the old plantation
front. Just a common fishing schooner of to-day bound for Richmond! We
turned and closed behind us the ancient iron gate of Westover.




CHAPTER XXII

A BAD START AND A VIEW OF BERKELEY


On the next morning, we exercised one of the most enjoyable
prerogatives of the houseboater, one that belongs to him as to but few
other travellers--that of changing his mind and his destination. We sat
down to breakfast with the intention of moving on up the James to Eppes
Creek; we rose from the table with the determination to make a run up
Powell's Creek, which was a little above us on the other side of the
river.

We always enjoyed these changes of mind. They added so much the more to
our sense of freedom and independence. There were no bits of cardboard
with the names of stations printed on them to predestine our way; no
baggage checks to consign our belongings to fixed destinations. Even at
the last moment a change of mind, a change of rudder, and a new way and
a new destination would lie before us.

Now, our thoughts headed toward Powell's Creek, because up that stream
was another colonial church, called Merchants' Hope Church; and the
next day would be Sunday.

Necessarily, such houseboat voyagers as we, that the Sundays usually
found up forgotten bits of tidewater, were a trifle irregular in the
matter of church-going. Our houseboat would have had to have a
church-boat for a consort to make it otherwise. Yet, as Sunday after
Sunday Gadabout lay in her quiet creek harbours, the spirit of the day
seemed to find her there without the call of church chimes.

Though it was morning when we changed our minds and determined to seek
a high-backed pew in old Merchants' Hope Church, it was evening by the
time we got under way. And in this case, changing our minds did not
work well. We should have come just as near getting to a church and
should have saved ourselves trouble, if we had clung to our first
intention and had spent that Saturday in moving on up the James.

As we crossed the river on the way to Powell's Creek, a closer study of
the sounding-marks on the chart showed a depth of but one half foot at
several places on the flats at the mouth of the stream. Evidently,
getting into that creek was bound to be a problem in fractions; and
Gadabout was not good at fractions and the day was waning and the tide
was setting out.

It seemed that the way to get the best depth of water would be to go to
the lower side of the wide, shallow creek-mouth, and then to enter the
stream in that affectionate style of navigation called "hugging the
shore."

And that is the way we did it. But with all the affection that could be
put into the matter, we could not find along that shore any such water
as the chart indicated; and Gadabout was beginning to need it sorely.
So, we sent the sailor out to see where it had gone to. He found it
over on the other side of the creek. Our confidence in the chart had
been betrayed. Depending upon it, we had been hugging the wrong shore.

At first, we thought little of the matter; for, our side of the stream
having played us false, we felt no hesitancy in transferring our
affections to the other side. But we found that poor Gadabout took
things much more seriously. She could not so lightly "off with the old
love and on with the new." For her the affair had already gone too far;
already, for the side she was now on, she had formed a serious, a
hopeless, a lasting attachment.

Our craft aground, our prospects of attending church next day vanished.
Slowly the tide went down; slowly the moon came up; and Nautica made
some candy. By the time it was ready to be put out on the guard to
cool, even what little we had found of Powell's Creek had
disappeared--all about us was just moonlight and mud. And ahead of us
and behind us (sticking down a little way in the mud, but sticking up
more in the moonlight) were the two anchors that we had put out to hold
us in position when the tide should rise in the night. They looked like
great crabs sitting there and watching us.

Of course, sometime in the darkness, Gadabout rose on the flood tide,
and perhaps was even ready to cross to the other side of the creek and
proceed to church. But nobody else was ready then; and so, finding all
asleep, she slowly settled down once more, and we found her in the
morning again hard aground. The good minister of Merchants' Hope Church
must surely have reached "Seventhly, my brethren," before our houseboat
was afloat.

Now, we moved her out in deeper water (for it would not do that she
should be aground next day when we ought to be starting for Eppes
Creek); and it was gratifying this time when we cast our anchors, to
see them go plumping out of sight as anchors should, instead of looking
so distressingly unnautical with flukes sticking up in the air.

But mooring a boat (securing her between two anchors, one ahead and one
astern) is rather unsatisfactory at the best. Often it is necessary so
to hobble your floating home where there is danger of her swinging upon
hidden obstructions; but it is hard on the poetry of houseboating. To
be held in one position, with unvarying scenes in your windows, is too
much like living in a prosaic land home set immovable in sameness.

Your gypsy craft should ride to a single anchor; free to swing to wind
and tide in the rhythm of the river. It is of the essence of home life
afloat to sit down to dinner heading up-stream, and to rise from table
heading down-stream; to open a favourite book with a bit of shore-view
in the casement beside you, and to close the chapter with the open
river stretching from under your window, your half-drawn shade perhaps
cutting the topsail from a distant schooner.

Monday morning dawned bright and fair (as we afterward learned from the
sailor); and bright and fair it certainly was when we made its
acquaintance. The day was yet young when everything was ready for the
trip up the river, and the shores of the little creek were echoing the
harsh clicks of our labouring windlass.

"She's hove short, and all ready to start whenever you are, sir,"
announced the sailor at the bow door.

Nautica snipped a thread and laid down her sewing; the Commodore tossed
his magazine aside. A moment more and we were off. When well out in the
river, we headed toward the left bank, for we were to make a landing at
the pier above Westover to take on two boxes of provisions that had
been left there for us by the Pocahontas. The steamer had gone;
everybody about the wharf had gone; but we had arranged to have the
boxes left out for us, and there they stood on the end of the pier.

Aboard Gadabout was the stir and bustle usually incident to the making
of a landing. Clear and sharp rose the voice of the Commodore; now
issuing his orders, now taking them back again. When he could think of
nothing more to say, he went below and relieved Nautica at the wheel as
our good ship swung beautifully in toward the wharf.

It must be remembered that a houseboat does not come up to piers like a
steamboat, always finding men waiting to catch lines and to help in
making landings. Often, as was the way of it that morning, the
wandering houseboat comes along to find only an empty pier; and if she
wishes to establish any closer relations with it, she must make all the
advances herself.

The wind may be blowing strong; the tide running strong--everything
strong but the qualifications of the commanding officer; in which case,
it is well that preparations for the landing begin early. There should
be a coil of rope made ready at either end of the boat, and also a
light line with a grapnel attached to It. What is a grapnel? How
strange that question sounds to us now, mighty mariners that we have
become! But of course we should remember that there was a time when we
did not know ourselves. Well, a grapnel is much like one of those
fish-hooks that have five points all curving out in different
directions, only it usually weighs several pounds.

[Illustration: "OFTEN ... THE WANDERING HOUSEBOAT COMES ALONG TO FIND
ONLY AN EMPTY PIER."]

The value of the grapnel was shown that day at the pier above Westover.
Though Gadabout swung to the landing finely, a strong off-shore wind
caught her; our ropes fell short; and we should have made but sorry
work of it if a grapnel had not shot out into the air and saved the
day. As it fell upon the wharf, the line attached to it was hauled in
hand over hand; and though the grapnel started to come along with it,
sliding and hopping over the pier, soon one of its points found a crack
or a nail or a knot-hole to get hold of; and the houseboat was readily
drawn up and made fast to the pilings.

The boxes aboard, our lines were cast off and Gadabout moved on up the
James.

[Illustration: A TRAPPER'S HOME BY THE RIVERBANK.]

Soon we were approaching one of the most historic points on the river.
We could tell that by a deserted old manor-house occupying a fine,
neglected site on the left bank of the stream.

While the main structure still stood firm, and would for generations to
come as it had for generations gone, yet the verandas about it had been
partially burned and had collapsed, and the place looked dilapidated
and forlorn. In front, the spacious grounds, once terraced gardens,
stretched wild and overgrown down to the river, where the straggling
ruins of a pier completed the picture of desolation.

But, even neglected and abandoned, this sturdy colonial home, nearly
two centuries old, still wore a noble air of family pride; still looked
bravely out upon the river. And why should it not? What house but old
Berkeley is the ancestral home of a signer of the Declaration of
Independence and of two Presidents of the United States?

This plantation became the colonial seat of the elder branch of the
Harrison family about the beginning of the eighteenth century. It
passed to strangers less than half a century ago.

From its founding, Berkeley was the home of distinguished men. Here
lived Benjamin Harrison, attorney general and treasurer of the colony;
and his son, Major Benjamin Harrison, member of the House of Burgesses;
and his son, Benjamin Harrison, member of the Continental Congress and
signer of the Declaration of Independence; and his son, William Henry
Harrison, famous general and the ninth President of our country; whose
grandson, Benjamin Harrison, became our twenty-third President--a
striking showing of family distinction, and including the only
instance, except that of the Adamses, of two members of the same family
occupying the presidential chair.

[Illustration: BERKELEY. (The ancestral home of a signer of the
Declaration of Independence and of two Presidents of the United
States.)]

Very different from the Berkeley that we saw, was that fine old
plantation of colonial times. Imagine it, perhaps upon a summer's day
in that memorable year of 1776. There are the great fields of tobacco
and grain, the terraced gardens gay with flowers, the boats at the
landing, and the manor-house standing proudly, "an elegant seat of
hospitality."

The master of Berkeley, that tall, dignified colonial, Colonel Benjamin
Harrison, is not at home. He is at Philadelphia attending the
Continental Congress. Perhaps even now he is affixing his signature,
with its queer final flourish, to the Declaration of Independence. In
the meantime, in front of the old home, a pretty woman in quaint
taffeta "Watteau" and hooped petticoat and dainty high-heeled slippers
is playing with a little boy, among the sweet old shrubs and the
English roses upon the terraces.

That little boy is to bring added honour to old Berkeley; and one day,
as General William Henry Harrison, president-elect of the United
States, his love for this mother shall bring him back to this home of
his boyhood to write, amidst the tender associations of "her old room,"
his inaugural address.

After passing Berkeley, we left the buoyed course and ran the rest of
the way to Eppes Creek in a narrow side channel that threads among the
shallows close along shore. It is what the river-men call a "slue
channel"; and we had to take frequent soundings to follow it. Looking
back at dejected old Berkeley, we were glad to know that a new owner of
the place was about to restore it.

Gadabout soon approached an opening in the river bank that we knew was
the wide mouth of Eppes Creek. We were going to turn into this stream,
not merely for the stream itself, but for a convenient anchorage from
which to reach the last of the noted river homes that we should
visit--Shirley, the colonial seat of the Carters. Our chart showed the
mansion as standing just around the next bend of the James. But we were
not going around that bend, because the chart showed also this little
creek cutting across the point of land lying in the elbow of the river
and apparently affording an inside route to Shirley. We should soon
learn whether or not Gadabout could navigate it and how near it would
take her to the old home.

As we moved slowly into the creek it was between banks in strange and
attractive contrast. The starboard side (that from which we hoped to
find a way to Shirley) was high and covered with trees of many kinds.
The bank to port was low and covered with a marsh forest of cypresses.
It was a dark and gloomy forest, but the spell of its sombre depths
drew our eyes quite as often as the cheerfuller charm of the woodland
on the other side; and so was equally responsible for the zigzag course
that Gadabout was taking.

But it was the high bank that, after a while, was responsible for
Gadabout's ceasing to take any course at all. We came about a bend and
saw, just ahead, a little cove. There were trees crowding close, rich
pines and cedars and bright-beaded holly. One tree leaned far out over
the water, and beneath it two row-boats were drawn up to the bank. We
thought it must surely be the landing-place for Shirley. Gadabout
sidled to starboard, and grapnels were thrown up into the trees to hold
her alongshore.

Stepping out on the bank we went up the hill through the woods. On the
way we turned and glanced down upon the houseboat. She looked pretty
enough, little white and yellow cottage, snuggling close to the bank
with a holly tree at her bow and her flags stirring gently in the warm
sunny air.

At the top of the hill, we came out upon the edge of a cornfield.
Everything was cornfield as far as we could see. No house, no road in
sight. Back aboard Gadabout, we got under way again. But the creek soon
lost even its one solid bank and, finding ourselves running between two
lines of marsh woods, we turned about and headed back for the place
where we had stopped, "Leaning Tree Landing," as we called it.

We had gone but a little way when our rudder-cable snapped, the
steering-wheel turned useless, and Gadabout headed for the marsh woods.
She minded none of our makeshift devices to shape her course; and we
were forced to stop the engine and resort to a more primitive motive
power.

The sailor dropped an end of a long pole into the water at the bow of
the houseboat and, bending heavily upon the other end, slowly pushed
her forward as he walked aft along the guard. Steadily back and forth
he paced the rail; steadily, silently, we floated down the stream.

And the silence of our going took hold of us, as we sat lazily in the
bow. How in keeping it all seemed with the quiet of the day, the calm
of the stream, and the stillness of the woods! And how out of keeping
now seemed Gadabout's noisy entrance into that tranquil scene!

"I feel quite apologetic," said Nautica. "Look at these great solemn
trees, just like an assemblage of forest philosophers in the hush of
silent deliberation."

"We must have stirred them up a bit," replied the Commodore, "with our
puffing and ringing. But I don't think they are deliberating. I believe
they are asleep. It seems more like the hush of poppy-land in here to
me."

"Yes, that is just it." And the answer really came quite dreamily.
"This is the hush of poppy-land, and we are drifting on the quiet brown
waterway that leads through the sleepy, endless afternoon."

And the notion pleased, and so did the languor and the heavy content.
Slowly and steadily the sailor and the long pole went up and down the
guard; slowly and steadily the houseboat moved down the stream.

Now we were skirting the bolder bank where the pines bent heavy heads
over the water, the holly crowded close to the shore, and pale tinted
reeds made border at the water's edge. Now in rounding a curve, we
passed close to the cypress wood fringed with bush and sedge. Delicate
brown festoons of vines hung from the branches; and, high out of reach,
mats of mistletoe clung. It seemed one with our mood and our fancy when
two round yellow eyes stared out of the shadows, two wide lazy wings
were spread, and the bird of daylight slumber took soft, noiseless
flight. We were just getting fully in the humour of our new way of
travel, drifting on in the world of laze-and-dream, when the whole
thing came to an end. A familiar voice from the world of up-and-do was
in our ears, and there was Leaning Tree Landing just ahead.

We anchored out in the channel until low tide; then, after sounding
about the landing and finding a good depth of water and no
obstructions, we drew Gadabout in, bow to the bank, and made fast. We
felt almost as though she were a real, true cottage, with that solid
land at her door and her roof among the branches.

When we looked from Gadabout's windows next morning, a dense fog had
blotted out all of our creek country except that which was close in
about us. But what was left was so beautiful as to more than make up
for the loss. Nature, like most other women, looks particularly well
through a filmy veil. We feared that the mist would soon clear away,
but it did not and we sat down to breakfast with our houseboat floating
in one of the smallest and fairest worlds that had ever harboured her.
A beautiful white-walled world with some shadowy bits of land here and
there, a piece of a misty stream that began and ended in the clouds,
and everything most charmingly out of perspective and unreal. Some
ghostly trees were near us, delicate veils of mist clinging about their
trunks and floating up among the bare branches. Nearer yet, a blur of
reeds marked the shore-line. From somewhere out along the river,
probably from the lighthouse at Jordan's Point, came the tolling of a
fog-bell.

As we watched the scene, a faint glow filtered in through the
whiteness, and made it all seem a fairy-land. Indeed, was it not? And
were not the little swaying mist-wreaths that wavered in at our windows
some dainty elves timidly come to give us greeting? All day the fog
held, and the sad tolling of the bell went on. Now and then, the calls
of the river craft would come to our ears.

Toward evening the fog thinned and let the moonlight in. Then we were
quite sure that Gadabout had indeed come to Fairy-land. Now, if only
there were a way leading from Fairy-land to Shirley! And it turned out
that there was.




CHAPTER XXIII

THE RIGHT WAY TO GO TO SHIRLEY


Everybody goes to Shirley the wrong way. We found that out by ourselves
happening to go the right way.

When you are sailing up the James in your houseboat (You haven't one?
Well, a make-believe one will do just as well, and in some ways
better), do not pass Eppes Creek, as everybody does, and go to the
Shirley pier; but, instead, enter the creek and tie up at Leaning Tree
Landing as we did.

[Illustration: THE FIELD ROAD AND THE QUARTERS.]

Then, instead of taking that trail up the hill that leads only into a
cornfield, look for a path leading to the left through the woods. It is
not much of a path; and unless you love Nature in even her capricious
moods, when she now and then trips the foot of the unwary and mayhap
even scratches, it is too bad after all that you came this way. To love
of Nature should be added a certain measure of agility, so that you
will be all right when you come to the fence. Fortunately, you can let
down the upper rails--being careful to put them back again when you are
safe on the other side.

Beyond the fence, a great pasture-field stretches away endlessly. But
then everything is on a large scale at Shirley. Ampleness is the
keynote; it pervades everything. Before you have half crossed the
field, you will come upon a road that will lead you to a little
eminence near the quarters.

No, it is not a village that you now see peeping out through the grove
over there by the river; it is the group of buildings constituting the
homestead of Shirley. In the bright sunlight, you can pick out bits of
the mansion through the trees, of the dairy, of the kitchen, and of the
smaller buildings; while farther out stand the roomy barns and the
quaint turreted dove-cote. All the buildings are of brick and show a
warm, dull red.

Time has left few such scenes as this--the completely equipped
home-acre of a great; seventeenth century American plantation. The
scene is not exactly a typical one; for few of such early colonial
estates, and indeed not many of the later ones, had homesteads as
complete, as substantially built, and on as large a scale as this of
Shirley.

Now, as you can need no further guidance, we are going off some two or
three hundred years into the past, to see if we can get hold of the
other end of the story of this plantation.

Perhaps the start was "about Christmas time" in the year 1611, when Sir
Thomas Dale, High Marshal of the Colony of Virginia, sailed up the
river from James Towne; killed or drove away all the Indians hereabout;
and then, thinking it ill that so much goodly land should be lying
unoccupied, took possession of a large tract of it for the colony. But
the part that came to be called Shirley is soon lost sight of in the
fogs of tradition. Later, we catch a glimpse of it in the possession of
Lord Delaware. But it is not until the middle of the seventeenth
century that we get a firm hold of this elusive colonial seat and of
its colonial owners.

At that time, in the colony of Virginia, two of the proud families on
two of the proud rivers were the Hills, who had recently acquired the
plantation of Shirley on the James, and the Carters, who were
establishing their seat at Corotoman on the Rappahannock. In the story
of these two houses is most of the story of Shirley.

The Hills became one of the leading families in the colony. It was
Edward Hill, second of the name, who built the present mansion. He was
a member of the King's Council; and his position is indicated, and his
fortune as well, by the building in those early times of such a home.
Antedating almost all of the great colonial homes, it must long have
stood a unique mark of family distinction. The exact date of the
building of the manor-house is not known, but doubtless it was not far
from the middle of the seventeenth century.

In the meantime, the Carters had become notable. This family reached
its greatest prominence in the days of Robert Carter, who was one of
the wealthiest and most influential men in the colony. In person he was
handsome and imposing; in worldly possessions he stood almost
unequalled; and in offices and honours he had about everything that the
colony could give. His estate included more than three hundred thousand
acres of land and about one thousand slaves. Either because of his
imposing person or of his power or of his wealth, or perhaps because of
all three, he was called "King" Carter. He does seem to have been quite
a sovereign, and to have known considerable of the pompous ceremony
that "doth hedge a king."

It was in the fourth generation of the houses of Shirley and of
Corotoman, and in the year 1723, that the families were united by the
marriage of John, son of "King" Carter, and Elizabeth, daughter of the
third Edward Hill. John Carter was a prominent man and the secretary of
the colony; Elizabeth Hill was a beauty and the heiress of Shirley. In
the descendants of this union the old plantation has remained to this
day.

The first time that we went from our creek harbour up to Shirley was a
strange time perhaps for people to be abroad in woods and field-roads.
The day was one of struggle between fog and sun, neither being able to
get his own way, but together making a wonderful world of it. We walked
in a luminous mist; the road very plain beneath our feet, but leading
always into nothingness, and reaching behind us such a little way as to
barely include the tall, following, hazy figure that was Henry.

There was little for us to see, but that little was well worth seeing;
only a tree or a clump of bushes or a hedge-row here and there, but all
dimmed into new forms and graces for that day and for us.

As we neared a ridge of meadowland, a pastoral for a Schenck took shape
in the fog cloud before us. Scattered groups of sheep appeared close at
hand, and, faintly visible beyond them, a denser mass of moving white.
No tree nor landmark was to be seen; just set into the soft whiteness,
showing mistily, was the snowy flock itself. Sheep grazed in groups,
the tan shaded slope in faint colouring beneath them. Here and there a
mother turned her head to call back anxiously for the bleating lambkin
lost behind the white curtain; and, dim and grotesque, the awkward
strayling would come gamboling into sight. Near by on a little hillock,
a single sheep stood with its head thrown up, a ghostly lookout. The
hidden sun made the haze faintly luminous about this wandering flock of
cloudland. We were not the first to move and to break the picture.

As we gained higher ground, a breeze was stirring and the fog was
beginning to lift. When we reached the edge of the Shirley homestead
and passed the turreted dove-cote, the near-by objects had grown quite
distinct. But out on the river the fog yet lay dense; and two boats
somewhere in the impenetrable whiteness were calling warningly to each
other.

Now we went on toward the manor-house that loomed against a soft
background of river fog.

The mansion is wholly unlike either Brandon or Westover, being a
massive square building without wings. It is two and a half stories
high, with a roof of modified mansard style pierced with many dormer
windows. It has both a landward and a riverward front, and both alike.
Each front has a large porch of two stories in Georgian design with
Doric columns. The walls of the house are laid in Flemish bond, black
glazed bricks alternating with the dull red ones. While both the roof
and the porches are departures from the original lines of the house,
yet they are departures that have themselves attained a dignified age
of about a century and a quarter.

Always, in the consideration of colonial homes, Shirley is regarded as
one of the finest examples. This means much more than at first appears.
For the mansions with which Shirley is usually compared, were built
from half a century to a century later.

Continuing along the road as we studied the home, we were led around to
the landward front and into the midst of the ancient messuage.

[Illustration: RIVERWARD FRONT OF SHIRLEY.]

We stood in a great open quadrangle, having the house at one end, the
distant barns at the other; on one side the kitchen, a large two-story
building, and on the other side a similar building used for storage and
for indoor plantation work. A high box hedge ran across from one of
these side buildings to the other, dividing the long quadrangle into
halves, one part adjacent to the house and the other to the barns.

The village effect produced by the grouped buildings must have been
even more striking in colonial times; for then the manor-house was
flanked by two more large brick buildings, forming what might be called
detached wings. One of these was still standing up to the time of the
Civil War.

The visitor is conscious of two dominant impressions, as he stands thus
in the midst of this seventeenth century homestead. The massive
solidity of the place takes hold of one first; but, strangely enough,
the strongest impression is that of an all-pervading air of
youthfulness. Doubtless the oldest homestead on the river, and one of
the oldest in the country, it utterly refuses to look its age. Perhaps
the solid, square compactness of the buildings has much to do with
this. They appear as though built to defy time. Even the shadow of the
venerable trees and the ancient ivy's telltale embrace seem powerless
to break the spell of perennial youth.

In the home, we met Mrs. Bransford, widow of Mr. H.W. Bransford,
Commander and Mrs. James H. Oliver, U.S.N., and Miss Susy Carter. Mrs.
Bransford and Mrs. Oliver are the daughters of the late Mr. and Mrs.
Robert Randolph Carter, and are the present owners of the plantation,
Mrs. Bransford making her home there. Commander Oliver represents the
third consecutive generation of naval officers in the Shirley family.

Upon entering the house in the usual way, from the landward side, the
visitor finds himself in a large square hall occupying one corner of
the building. This room discloses at a glance the type and the genius
of Shirley. It begins at once to tell you all about itself; and when
you know this old hall, you have the key to the mansion and to its
story. It is truly a colonial "great hall." It tells you that by its
goodly old-time ampleness, its high panelled walls with their dimming
portraits, its great chimneypiece flanked by tall cupboards, and its
massive overshadowing stairway.

[Illustration: THE OLD "GREAT HALL."]

The chief architectural feature of the room is this stairway. Starting
in one corner, it rises along the panelled wall until half way to the
ceiling, then turns sharply out into the room for the remainder of its
ascent to the second floor, thus exposing overhead a handsome soffit.
The effect, in connection with the great panelled well of the
staircase, is one of rich and goodly ancientness.

Indeed, though you may enter Shirley feeling that the house, like some
long-lingering colonial belle, is perhaps not quite frank with you
about its age, you will not find the hall taking part in any such
misrepresentation. Despite some modern marks and even the fact that the
fireplace has been closed, this room says in every line that it is very
old.

It stands true to the memory of its seventeenth-century builder who had
known and loved the "great halls" of "Merrie England." It tells of the
time when the life of a household centred in the spacious hall; when
there the great fire burned and the family gathered round--of the time
when halls were the hearts, not the mere portals, of homes.

And so in this room, as in few others in our country, does the visitor
find the setting and the atmosphere of manor-house life in early
colonial days. He can well fancy this "great hall" of Shirley in the
ruddy light of flaming logs that burned in the wide fireplace two
centuries and a half ago. Dusky in far corners or sharply drawn near
the firelight, stood, in those days, chests and tables and forms and
doubtless a bed too with its valance and curtains. In a medley typical
of the times in even the great homes, were saddles, bridles, and
embroidery frames, swords, guns, flute, and hand-lyre.

Here, in a picturesque and almost mediaeval confusion, the family
mostly gathered, while favourite hounds stretched and blinked in the
chimney-place beside the black boy who drowsily tended the fire.

Here, the long, narrow "tabull-bord" was spread with its snowy cloth,
taken from the heavy chest of linen in the corner, of which my lady of
the manor was prodigiously proud. Upon the cloth were placed
soft-lustred pewter and, probably almost from the first, some pieces of
silver too. The salt was "sett in the myddys of the tabull," likely in
a fine silver dish worthy its important function in determining the
seating about the "bord." As family and guests gathered round, the host
and hostess took places side by side at one end; near them the more
important guests were given seats "above the salt," while lesser folk
and children sat "below the salt."

Then, from the distant kitchen in the quadrangle, came slaves or
indentured servant bearing the steaming food in great chargers and
chafing-dishes. Doubtless, in those earliest days, the food was eaten
from wooden trenchers, not plates; while from lip to lip the communal
bowl went round. Knives and spoons were plentiful, but even in such a
home as Shirley forks were still a rarity; and the profusion of napkins
was well when helpful fingers gave service to healthy appetites.

But that was the hall life of very early days. Gradually, in the
colonies as in England, the evolution of refinement specialized the
home; developed drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, libraries; and so took
away from the "great halls" almost all of this intimate life of the
household.

There is something pathetic in this desertion of the ancient, central
hearthstone. We thought of Shirley's old hall growing sadly quiet and
chill as it lost the merry chatter about the "tabull-bord"; as saddles
and bridles jingled there for the last time on their way to some far
outbuilding; as the gentlewomen carried their needlework away, and the
little maids followed with their samplers. At last, all the old life
was gone. Even the master himself came no longer to mull his wine by
the andirons; and the very dogs stretched themselves less often and
with less content at the chimney-side.

All the rooms at Shirley are richly panelled to the ceiling, and have
heavy, ornate cornices and fine, carved mantelpieces and doorways. The
examples of interior woodwork especially regarded by connoisseurs are
the panelling in the morning-room, the elaborately carved mantel in the
drawing-room, and the handsome doorway between that room and the
dining-room.

Upstairs, a central hallway runs through the house, double doors
opening at both riverward and landward ends upon broad porticoes. The
bedrooms on either hand are panelled to the ceiling. They have deep-set
windows, open fireplaces, and quaint old-time furnishings.

And people slept here back in the seventeenth century; dreamed here in
those faraway times when James Towne, now long buried and almost
forgotten, was the capital of the little colony. Here, in succeeding
generations, have slept many notable guests of Shirley. Tradition
includes among these the Duke of Argyle, LaFayette, our own George
Washington, and the Prince of Wales.

[Illustration: THE DRAWING--ROOM.]


Here, too, are some of the oldest ghosts in America. Most of these are
quiet, well-behaved members of the household; but one ancient shade,
Aunt Pratt by name, seems to presume upon her age as old people
sometimes will, and is really quite hard to get along with.

Listen to an instance of her downright unreasonableness. Her portrait
used to hang in the drawing-room among those of the Hills (she is or
was, or however you say it, a sister of the Colonel Hill who built the
mansion); but having become injured it was taken down and put away face
to the wall. Immediately, this ghostly Aunt Pratt showed deep
resentment. Womanlike, she threw herself into a chair in one of these
bedrooms and rocked and rocked violently. Of course she disturbed the
whole household; but no matter how noiselessly people stole in to catch
her at her tantrums, she was always too quick for them--the room was
empty, the chairs all still. At last the picture was got out, repaired,
and rehung. At once all was peace and quiet; Aunt Pratt had had her
way.




CHAPTER XXIV

FROM CREEK HARBOUR TO COLONIAL RECEPTION


Eppes Creek was the most remote and isolated of all our James River
harbours. Gadabout was like a bit of civilization that had got broken
off and had drifted away into the wild. The stream was such a mere
ribbon with such tall trees along its banks, that we looked upward to
but a narrow lane of open sky. Sometimes the lane was blue, sometimes
gray, and sometimes dark and set with twinkling stars.

The wood across the creek from us was a dismal looking place. The trees
were swamp cypresses that had lost their summer green, and stood
drooping and forlorn in the low, marshy soil. Nautica wasted a good
deal of sympathy upon them as she compared them with the richly clothed
pines and the luxuriant holly upon our side of the stream.

There doubtless was game in that desolate wood; although about the only
living things that we saw in it, even when we rowed close along its
ragged shore, were owls. At night, strange, uncanny cries came out of
the wood, and probably out of the owls also; but such sad and querulous
cries as may well have been the plaints of the mournful marsh forest
itself. Upon our Shirley shore too, there lived an owl, evidently of a
different kind. We never saw him; but at night he worked untiringly
upon a voluminous woodland edition of "Who's Who."

In this harbour, we heard often the stirring cry out of the high
heavens that our ears had caught once in our anchorage at Westover. And
now we saw the wild geese themselves.

Each time, at the first faint "honk," we got quickly to the windows or
out on deck, and stood waiting for the beautiful V-shaped flight to
come swinging into our sky-lane. And with what a glorious sweep the
birds came on! And to what gloriously discordant music!

Sometimes they went over in V's that were quite regular; but often the
diverging lines would grow wavy, the beautiful flying letter still
holding but swinging in and out as though blown about on the face of
the sky.

Perhaps we had something to do with those variants of the wild goose's
favourite letter. Quite likely the sight of Gadabout, fluttering her
flags down there in Eppes Creek, made those wise old gander leaders
veer in a way somewhat disconcerting to their faithful followers.

But on they came, and on they went in their wonderful flight through
sunshine and through storm, by day and by night; leaving a strangely
roused and quickened world behind them. Just a fleet passing of wings,
a clamour of cries--why should one's heart leap, and his nerves go
restless, and joy and sadness get mixed up inside him? A few birds
flying over--yet stirring as a military pageant! A jangle of senseless
"honks"--yet in it the irresistible urge of bugle and drum!

One cannot explain. One can only stand and look and listen, till the
living, flying letter is lost in the sky; till his ear can no longer
catch the glorious, wild clangour of "the going of the geese."

Isolated as our anchorage was, we had a connecting link between
Gadabout and civilization. It was about three feet long, of a sombre
hue, and its name was Bob. Bob brought us milk and eggs and our mail,
and ran errands generally. He was usually attended by such a retinue
that only the smallest picaninnies could have been left back at the
quarters.

Sometimes, Bob lightened his labours by having a member of his
following carry a pail or the mail-bag. This worked badly; for it was
only by such badges of office that we were able to tell which was Bob.
But after several small coins had gone into the wrong ragged hats, Bob
grasped the situation; and, in a masterly way, solved the question of
identity without losing the services of his satellites. Henceforth,
when we heard the chattering boys coming through the woods, if we
looked out promptly enough, we would see Bob relieving some one of his
doubles of pail or mail-bag; and by the time he reached the houseboat,
he would be in full possession of all means of identification.

"Would you like to go to meet the ladies and gentlemen on the walls?"
Mrs. Bransford asked one day at Shirley.

The invitation was accepted with as much alacrity as if we had feared
that the reception hours were almost over. But there was really no need
of haste; for the lines of notables on Shirley's walls stand there from
generation to generation, yet receiving always with such dignity and
courtesy as permit not the slightest sign of weariness or expression of
being bored.

In meeting those old-time owners and lovers of Shirley, the visitor is
passed from one hand-clasp to another, as it were, down through the
generations of colonial times.

Giving precedence to age, we made our first fancied obeisance before
two distinguished looking people who, however, did not seem entitled to
any consideration whatever on the ground of age, being both in the
prime of life. And yet, these were Colonel and Mrs. Edward Hill, second
of the name at Shirley, and the first master and mistress of the
present manor-house.

We were a little surprised at the Colonel's appearance; for he was
clean shaven and wore a wig. Now, we had been hobnobbing long enough
with those beginners of our country--Captain John Smith, Sir Edwin
Sandys, Lord Delaware, and the rest--to know that they were a bearded
set and hadn't a wig amongst them.

Fortunately, we remembered in time that this portrait-gentleman, old as
he was, did not quite reach back to the days of those first settlers;
and that he had lived to see the great change of fashion (in the reign
of Charles II) that made Englishmen for generations whiskerless and
bewigged.

Though our land was settled by bearded men, with just the hair on their
heads that Nature gave them (and sometimes, when the Indians were
active, not all of that), yet the country was developed and made
independent and set up as a nation by smooth-faced men, most fuzzily
bewigged. That reign of the razor that began in the days of Colonel
Hill, was a long one, and, later, determined the appearance of the
Father of our Country. Imagine George Washington with a Van Dyck beard!

Of course it was bad form for us to stand there staring at the Colonel
while we reasoned out all this matter of the beards and the wigs. Now
the Commodore, at a suggestion from Nautica's elbow, shifted to the
other foot and cleared his throat to say something. But what was there
to say? It is a little trying, this meeting people who cannot converse
intelligently upon anything that has happened since the seventeenth
century.

At last, we murmured something about Charles II; and, to make sure, let
the murmuring run over a little into the reigns of James II and of
William and Mary, and then passed on; though the Commodore felt there
should have been at least some slight allusion to the pyramids and the
cave-dwellers.

We must have taken very slowly the few steps that carried us to the
next member of the receiving party; for in that time the world moved on
a generation, and we found ourselves paying respects to no less a
personage than "King" Carter himself. Too modest to suppose that he had
come over from Corotoman on our account, we strongly suspected that the
matter of alliance between the families of Hill and of Carter was in
the air; which would account for the presence of the potentate of the
Rappahannock.

He looked very imposing in his velvets and his elaborate, powdered
periwig, standing ceremoniously, one hand thrust within his rich,
half-open waistcoat.

Now was the time for all that we knew about Queen Anne and King George
the First, and about the recent removal of the colonial capital from
James Towne to Williamsburg.

The next dignitaries were very near; but again it took a generation to
get to them, the names being John Carter (usually called Secretary
Carter from his important colonial office) and Elizabeth Hill Carter,
his wife. These were the young people who united the houses of Shirley
and Corotoman. So, even yet, we had got down only to the days of George
the Second.

Secretary and Mrs. Carter were a handsome pair; she, fair and girlish,
with an armful of roses; he, dark and courtly and one of the most
attractive looking figures we had met in our travels in Colonial-land.
These people could not tell us much about the old manor-house; for,
while possessing two of the finest plantations in the colonies, Shirley
and Corotoman, they made their home chiefly at Williamsburg.

However, they were especially interesting people to meet because of
their familiarity with the first half of the eighteenth century, that
brightest and most prosperous period of colonial life. They could tell
us at first hand of those happy, easy-going times that lay between the
long struggle to establish the colonies and the fierce struggle to make
them free.

Though neither Mr. nor Mrs. Carter exactly said so, yet we gathered the
idea that those were days of much dress and frivolity. It seems that
ships came from everywhere with handsome fabrics and costly trifles;
and that rich colonials strove so manfully and so womanfully to follow
the capricious foreign fashions (by means of dressed dolls received
from Paris and London) that usually they were not more than a year or
two behind the styles.

We could not help feeling that the matter of wigs must have been an
especially troublesome one. As styles changed in England, these
important articles of dress (often costing in tobacco the equivalent of
one hundred dollars) had to be sent to London to be made over. Between
the slowness of ships and the slowness of wig-makers, it must often
have happened that even such careful dressers as the fastidious
Secretary himself would be wearing wigs that would scarcely pass muster
at the Court of St. James or at Bath. Indeed, Secretary Carter did not
deny there being some truth in this; but he appeared so at ease that
day at Shirley that we knew, on that occasion at least, he was sure of
his wig.

One more progression along the receiving line, one more generation
passed by the way, and we came upon Charles Carter, with his strong,
kindly face, a gentleman of the days of George III and of the last days
of colonial times.

And what days those were! The days of stamp acts and "tea parties" and
minute men; of state conventions and continental congresses; of
Lexington and Valley Forge and the surrender of Cornwallis; of the
Articles of Confederation and the formation of the Union. This Charles
Carter saw our nation made and, in the councils of his colony, helped
to make it. Here, in old Shirley, he put down the cup from which he had
right loyally drunk the colonial toast, "The King! God bless him!" and
he took it up again to loyally and proudly drink to "George Washington
and the United States of America."

We met still other old-time people at the manor-house that day; but it
would not do to try to tell about them all. The omitted ones do not
count much, being chiefly wives. Everybody knows that in meeting
colonial people it is scarcely worth while considering a man's wife,
for so soon she is gone and he has another.

Truly, Shirley's colonial reception was very enjoyable, we thought, as
we took a last glance at the serene, old-time faces and caught a last
whiff of ambergris from the queer, old-time wigs.




CHAPTER XXV

AN INCONGRUOUS BIT OF HOUSEBOATING


By this time, we were becoming anxious about the lateness of the
season. Of course it was only through some mistake that we were getting
all those fine warm days in December. Perhaps Nature had not had her
weather eye open when Father Time wet his thumb and turned over to the
last page of the calendar. But now, there was something in the look of
the sky and in the feel of the air to make us fearful that the mix-up
of the seasons had been discovered, and that winter was being prodded
to the front.

Still we lingered in Eppes Creek, and soon we could not do otherwise
than linger; for we wakened one morning to find the stream frozen over,
and Gadabout presenting the incongruous spectacle of a houseboat fast
in the ice.

All that day and the next the coldness held; and the ice and the tide
battled along the creek with crackings and roarings and, now and then,
reports like pistol shots. This surely was strange houseboating. It was
a serious matter too. We knew that we might be held in the grip of the
ice indefinitely. We did not care to spend the winter in Eppes Creek;
nor could we abandon our boat there.

Throwing on our heavy wraps and trying to throw off our heavy spirits,
we went above and paced the deck. In mockery our flags rippled under
the northwest wind; from our flower-boxes, leafless, shrivelled little
arms were held up to us; while our bright striped awning, with all its
associations of sunshine and summer-time, was close furled and frozen
stiff and hung with icicles.

We were surprised enough when the weather suddenly changed again, and
the bright, warm sun set up such a thawing as soon sent the ice out of
the creek and our anxieties with it. But no time was to be lost in
getting away from that beautiful, treacherous stream. We should make
one more visit to Shirley and then head again up river. But that last
visit should be a quite conventional one; we should run the houseboat
around to the regular steamboat pier in front of the old manor-house.

It was a warm, hazy afternoon down in Eppes Creek when we untied our
ropes from the trees (cast them off, we ought to say), and Gadabout
pulled her nose from the reedy bank and slowly backed out into the
stream. She was obeying every turn of the steering-wheel perfectly (as
indeed she always did except when the mischievous wind put notions into
her head); and it was not her fault at all when her bow swung round
under the tree that leaned out over the water and almost knocked her
little chimney off. We dropped down the stream and passed out into the
river where everything was softened and beautified by the light fog.

Skirting the low northern shore, we looked across the river at the high
southern one where, through the mist, we could see the town of City
Point and the bold promontory that marked where the Appomattox was
flowing into the James. Upon the tip of the promontory was the home of
the Eppes family, "Appomattox." While the present house is not a
colonial one, the estate is one of the oldest in the country.

Now, just ahead of us was the Shirley pier on one side of the river and
the village of Bermuda Hundred on the other. We headed first for the
village, our intention being to get some supplies there.

We could not see much of Bermuda Hundred, perhaps because there was not
much to see. It consists principally of age, having been founded only
four years after the settlement of James Towne. Still, we let the
sailor go ashore for butter and eggs, trusting that both would be as
modern as possible. Our supplies aboard, Gadabout quickly carried us
across the river and landed us at Shirley.

[Illustration: THE KITCHEN BUILDING, FIFTY YARDS FROM THE MANOR-HOUSE.]

In that last visit to the old home, we went across the quadrangle and
into the kitchen building, with its cook-room on one side of the hall
and its bake-room on the other. Of course most of the colonial kitchen
appointments had long since disappeared; but we were glad to see, in
the stone-paved bake-room, the old-time brick ovens. With their
cavernous depths, they were quite an object lesson in early Virginia
hospitality.

And can any modern ranges bake quite as perfectly as did those colonial
brick ovens? After a fire of oven-wood had flamed for hours in one of
those brick chambers, and at last the iron door had been opened and the
ashes swept out, the heated interior was ready to receive the meats and
breads and pastry, and to bake them "to a turn."

When, in the restoration of Mount Vernon, the kitchen was reached,
recourse was had to Shirley's kitchen. Drawings were made of an unusual
colonial table, of a pair of andirons with hooks for spits to rest on,
and of several other old-time cookery appointments; and, from these
drawings, were constructed the duplicates that are now in the Mount
Vernon kitchen.

It was on our way from the kitchen to the mansion that we came upon
another visitor to Shirley. She was short and round and black and
smiling and "feelin' tol'ble, thank you, ma'am." This, we learned, was
Aunt Patsy. She had "jes heard dat Miss Marion done come home"; and so,
arrayed in her best clothes including a spotless checked apron, she had
come to "de gre't house" to pay her respects to Mrs. Oliver.

Drawn out somewhat for our benefit, she gave her views upon the subject
of matrimony.

"I been married five times," she said. We were not particularly
surprised at that; but were scarcely prepared for the added statement,
"an' I done had two husban's."

However, no one could fail to understand Aunt Patsy's position, and to
heartily agree with her, when she came to explain her marital paradox.

"De way 'tis is dis way," she said. "What I calls a _husban_' is one
dat goes out, he do, an' gethahs up" (here, a sweeping gesture with the
apron, suggestive of lavish ingathering), "gethahs up things an' brings
'em in to me. But what I calls _havin' a man aroun'_ is whar he sets by
de fiah and smokes he pipe, while I goes out an' wuks an' brings things
home, an' he eats what I gives him. An' dat's how come I been married
five times, an' I done had two husban's."

[Illustration: BRICK OVEN IN THE BAKE-ROOM.]

Before the old oak chest was opened for us, that day at Shirley, we
knew that this colonial home was rich in antique silver. Yet, the
family speak of the many pieces as "remnants," because of the still
greater number lost at the time of the war. The plate was sent for
safe-keeping to a man in Richmond who was afterward able to account for
but a small part of it. Evidently, the Hills and the Carters went far
in following the old colonial custom of investing in household silver.
And as an investment the purchase of this ware was largely regarded in
those days; family plate being deemed one of the best forms in which to
hold surplus wealth.

Different periods are represented in the old pieces yet remaining at
Shirley. There are the graceful, classic types of the days of the
Georges; the earlier ornate, rococo forms; and the yet earlier massive
styles of the time of Queen Anne and long before. Among the most
ancient pieces, are heavy tankards that remind one of the long ago,
when such great communal cups went round from merry lip to merry
lip--microbes all unknown. The numerous spoons too speak of the time
when there were no forks to share their labours. Most of the silver
remaining to-day is engraved with the coat of arms of the Carters.

Suggestive of the days when colonial belles were toasted about
Shirley's table, are the old punch bowl and the punch strainer and the
wine coasters; though a more noteworthy object, having the same
associations, is an antique mahogany wine chest with many of the
original cut glass bottles still in its compartments.

[Illustration: SOME NOTEWORTHY PIECES OF OLD SHIRLEY PLATE.]

And looking at Shirley's old silver in Shirley's old dining-room, we
thought of the lavish colonial entertainments in which both had played
their part. What hospitable places were those early planters' homes! As
courts, assemblies, races, funerals, weddings, and festivals took the
people up and down the country, they found few inns; but, instead, at
every great plantation, wide-spreading roofs and ever-open doors. The
spirit of welcome even stood at the gates and laid hands upon the
passing traveller, drawing him up the shady avenues and into the
hospitable homes.

In the days of the colonial Carters (who, through a complicated network
of intermarriages, were cousins to all the rest of Virginia), Shirley
must often have been full to overflowing.

And, along with our thoughts of Shirley's hospitality, came the
recollection of a pretty story that had been told to us one day at
Brandon by Miss Mary Lee, daughter of General Robert E. Lee. It was a
story of one of the merry, old-time gatherings about Charles Carter's
long table in the Shirley dining-room. Among the guests was a dashing
young cavalry officer who had won fame and the rank of general in the
Revolutionary War; and who, in his unsatisfied military ardour, was
contemplating joining the Revolutionary Army of France. But just now,
he was contemplating only his host and his dinner.

Suddenly, he became aware of a flushed and charming maiden in distress.
She had lifted a great cut glass dish filled with strawberries, and it
was more than her little hands could hold. She strove to avert a crash;
and, just in time, the gallant young General caught the appealing look
from the dark eyes and the toppling dish from the trembling hands. But
in saving the bowl and the berries, he lost his heart.

And the maiden was Anne Hill Carter, daughter of the genial host; and
the young General was "Light Horse Harry" Lee. The dreams of further
glory on French battlefields were abandoned; and there was another
feast at Shirley when bridal roses of June were in bloom. The young
people went to live at Stratford, the ancestral home of the Lees; and
there was born their famous son, Robert E. Lee.

As Shirley's old dining-room thus brought to our minds that greatest
Virginian of our day, so it brought to mind the greatest Virginian of
all days; for, even as we looked at silver and thought of love stories,
a life-size portrait of George Washington, by Charles Wilson Peale,
stood looking down upon us from the panelled wall.

[Illustration: PEALE'S PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.]

It is a noted and invaluable canvas that hangs there at Shirley, and it
is doubtless a good likeness of the Father of our Country; but it is
not just the George Washington that most of us have in our mind's eye.
When the average American thinks of hatchets and cherry trees and
abnormal truthfulness, the face that rises before him is that benign
and fatherly one that he has seen a thousand times in the popular
reproductions of the portrait by Gilbert Stuart. Just as for
generations only the good has been told of George Washington, so has
this handsomest picture (doubtless a trifle flattering) always been the
popular one.

However, in this day, when the ideal George Washington of story is
being ruthlessly brushed aside in the search for the real
flesh-and-blood man, any canvas also that has idealized him is somewhat
in jeopardy.

It is well that the Washington of Sparks and of Irving and of Stuart
should be superseded by the truer Washington of Mitchell and of Ford
and of Peale; but the result will be that, for a while, the country
will scarcely recognize its own father.

Always at Shirley our interest came back to the old colonial hall. Of
course, to get the good of it, one had to set one's eyes so as to throw
out of focus many marks of modernism; but that adjustment would almost
come of itself with a little study of quaint transoms, or of ancient
hatchments, or, above all, of the time-worn stairway.

Why is it that the spirit of the long-ago so clings about an old
stairway? Why should the empty stair seem to remember so much, to
suggest so much, of a life that came to it only in fitful passings and
that left nothing of itself behind?

There were no signs of that long by-gone life upon Shirley's stairway,
save for a dimming of the old rail where countless hands--strong,
feeble, fair--had lightly rested or, more helpless, clung; and save for
that worn trail of the generations that followed up the dull, dark
treads. But even these had much to tell of the passings for nearly two
centuries and a half up and down this household highway: of the
masterful tread of spur-shod boots, the dancing of the belle's
slim-slippered feet, the pompous double steps of bumpy baby shoes, the
gouty stump of old grandsire, and the faithful shamble of the black boy
at his heels.

That day (regretfully our last in this colonial home) not only the
stairway but all of the old house seemed inclined to become
reminiscent. Nautica noticed this in the quiet drawing-room that would
keep bringing up by-gone times, and, she insisted, by-gone people too.
In the great hall, even the Commodore felt the mood of old Shirley and
the presence of a life that all seemed natural enough, but that must
have come a good ways out of the past.

On the staircase, despite the dim light over there (or because of it),
one could even catch sight of a shadowy old-time company.

There were stately figures passing up and down: the old lords of the
wilderness in velvet coats and huge wigs, and ladies of the wilderness
too in rich brocades and laced stomachers. There were many slender and
youthful figures. Charmingly odd and quaint were the merry groups of
girls, catching and swaying upon the shadowy stair; dainty ruffles
peeping through the balusters; laughing faces bending above the dark,
old rail. And fine indeed were the gallants that did them homage; those
young colonials of bright velvets and flowered waistcoats and lace
ruffles and powdered periwigs.

Now, from the stairway the old-time life spread throughout the old-time
home. Shirley was living over again some merry-making of colonial days.
That was the Governor that just passed with the glint of gold lace and
the glint of gold snuff-box; and that, a councillor's lady that rustled
by in stiff silks, her feet in gold-heeled slippers and her powdered
head dressed "Dutch." And quite as fine and quite as quaint were the
ladies that followed in their gay flowered "sacques" looped back from
bright petticoats and point lace aprons.

It was all as London-like as might be: rich velvets and brocades,
wide-hooped skirts and stiff stomachers, laced coats and embroidered
waistcoats, broad tuckers and Mechlin ruffles, high-heeled shoes and
handsome buckles, powdered wigs and powdered puffs, and crescent beauty
patches.

Evidently, by colonial time, twilight was coming on; for now the
fragrant bayberry candles were lighted. There was the faint tinkle of a
harpsichord. Dim figures moved in the stately minuet; their curtsies,
punctiliously in keeping with the last word from London, were "slow and
low."

Little groups gathered about the card tables, where fresh candles and
ivory counters were waiting. Lovers found their way to deep
window-seats; and lovers of yet another sort to brimming glasses and
colonial toasts, and perhaps to wigs awry.

It was the old-time Shirley, the strange, incongruous Shirley that was
a bright bit of English manor life within; and, without, wilderness and
savages and tobacco-fields and Africans. In from the life of the old
messuage, came a touch of the barbaric; weird minor songs that belonged
with the hot throb of the African tom-tom floated in through the deep
windows, and strangely mingled with the thin tinkle of the harpsichord
and the tender strains of an old English ballad.

The green bayberry candles grew dim, and in their fragrant smoke the
old colonials faded away. Our visit at Shirley was over.

Out in the quadrangle, we turned for a last look at the homestead, and
were almost forced to doubt that old colonial scene that we had just
left within. There stood the fine buildings in perfect preservation,
insisting at last as they had insisted at first that this matter of old
age was but a huge mistake--that they had been built but yesterday.




CHAPTER XXVI

THE END OF THE VOYAGE


Before daylight on the following morning Gadabout was awake and astir.
She had resolved to catch the early tide and finish her James River
cruise that day by a final run to the head of navigation at Richmond.

For the last time the clacking windlass was calling the sleeping anchor
from its bed in the river; the Commodore was hanging out the
sailing-lights; and Nautica (who could not find the dividers) was
stepping off the distance to Richmond on the chart with a hairpin.

How dreary a start before dawn sounds to a landsman! The hated early
call; the hasty breakfast with coffee-cup in one hand and time-table in
the other; the dismal drive through dull, sleeping streets; the
cheerless station; the gloomy train-shed with its lines of coaches
wrapped in acrid engine smoke.

But the houseboater knows another way. For him, the early call is the
call of the tide that finds ready response from a lover of the sea.
Does the tide serve before dawn, man of the ship? Then before dawn its
stir is in your blood; your anchor is heaved home; your sailing-lights,
white and green and red, are bravely twinkling; your propellers are
tossing the waters astern; and you are off.

You are off with the flood just in from the sea, or with the ebb that
is seeking the sea; and with it you go along a way where no one has
passed before--an evanescent way that is made of night shades and river
mists. And after a while you come upon a wonderful thing--almost the
solemn wonder of creation, as, from those thinning, shimmering veils,
the world comes slowly forth and takes shape again.

When the real world took shape for Gadabout that morning on the James,
she was some distance above Shirley and the river was a smaller river
than we had seen at any time before. By the chart, we observed that it
was a comparatively narrow stream all the rest of the way to Richmond.

We had now entered upon a portion of the old waterway that Nautica
insisted had been done up in curl-papers. Here, the voyager must sail
around twenty miles of frivolous loops to make five miles of progress.

Upon coming to a group of buildings indicated on the chart and standing
close to the right bank, we knew that Gadabout had navigated the first
of the fussy curls. Around it, we had travelled six miles since leaving
Shirley, and now had the satisfaction of knowing that the old
manor-house itself stood just across from these buildings, less than a
mile away.

On a little farther, we passed a fine plantation home called Curle's
Neck. A long while after that, another large plantation, Meadowville,
came alongside. But the curious thing was that, at the same time,
alongside came Curle's Neck again. We had travelled something over four
miles since leaving it, yet there it stood directly opposite and less
than three quarters of a mile from us.

[Illustration: VARINA.]

Perhaps the river observed that we were getting a little out of
patience; for, almost immediately, it sought to beguile us by bringing
into view one of its show points, a landing on the left bank with a
large brick house near by. The chart told us that this was Varina; and
the guide-books told us a pretty story about how here, in their
honeymoon days, lived John Rolfe and Pocahontas.

Although that honeymoon was almost three centuries gone, and there was
nothing left at Varina to tell of it, yet somehow our thoughts
quickened and Gadabout's engines slowed as we sailed along the romantic
site.

To be sure, to keep up the spirit of romance one has to overlook a good
deal. The fact that John Rolfe had been married before and the report
that Pocahontas had been too, somewhat discouraged sentiment. And then,
was it love, after all, that built the rude little home of that strange
pair somewhere up there on the shore? Or, had Cupid no more to do with
that first international marriage in our history than he has had to do
with many a later one? Can it be that politics and religion drew John
Rolfe to the altar? and that a broken heart led Pocahontas there?

Poor little bride in any event! A forest child--wrapped in her doe-skin
robe, the down of the wild pigeon at her throat, her feet in moccasins,
and her hair crested with an eagle's feather; bravely struggling with
civilization, with a new home, a new language, new customs, and a new
religion.

How many times, when it all bore heavy on her wildwood soul, did she
steal down to this ragged shore, push out in her slender canoe, and
find comfort in the fellowship of this turbulent, untamable river! And
how often did she turn from her home to the wilderness, slipping in
noiseless moccasins back into the narrow, mysterious trails of the red
man, where bended twig and braided rush and scar of bark held messages
for her!

Then came the time when the river and the forest were lost to her. The
princess of the wilderness had become the wonder of a day at the Court
of King James. Almost mockingly comes up the old portrait of her,
painted in London when she had "become very formall and civill after
our English manner." The rigid figure caparisoned in the white woman's
furbelows; the stiff, heavy hat upon the black hair; the set face, and
the sad dark eyes--a dusky woodland creature choked in the ruff of
Queen Bess.

When Varina was left behind, we fell to berating the tortuous river
again. Of course we did not think for a moment that the troublesome
curlicues we were finding had always been there. When the river was the
old, savage Powhatan, we may be sure it never stooped in its dignity of
flow to such frivolity. These kinks were silly artificialities that
came when the noble old barbarian was civilized and named in honour of
a vain and frivolous foreign king.

Now, just ahead of us, was the most foolish frizzle of all. It was a
loop five miles around, and yet with the ends so close together that a
boy could throw a stone across the strip of land between. At a very
early day, sensible folk lost patience and sought, by digging a canal
across the narrow neck, to cut this offensive curl off altogether.

Some Dutchmen among the colonists were the first to try this (and
Dutchmen understand waterway barbering better than anybody else); but
they were unsuccessful. Their efforts seem to have resulted only in
giving the place the name of Dutch Gap. Many years ago, the United
States Government took up the work and, in 1872, the five-mile curl was
effectually cut off by the Dutch Gap Canal.

A good deal of interesting history is associated with this loop of the
James. Here, but four years after the coming of those first colonists,
the town of Henrico or Henricopolis was founded. The place made a
somewhat pretentious beginning and was doubtless intended to supersede
James Towne as the capital of the colony. Steps were taken to establish
a college here. If they had been successful, Harvard College could not
lay claim to one of its present honours, that of being the earliest
college in America. But the Indian massacre of 1622 caused the
abandonment of the college project and of Henricopolis too.

We passed into the canal, which was so short that we were scarcely into
it before we were out again and headed on up the river. The banks of
the stream grew higher and bolder, and we were soon running much of the
time between bluffs with trees hanging over.

On some of the bald cliffs buzzards gathered to sun themselves; and
they lay motionless even as we passed, their wings spread to the full
in the fine sunshine. It was almost the sunshine of summer-time. In its
glow we could scarcely credit our own recollections of some wintry bits
of houseboating; and as to that story in our note-books about our being
ice-bound in Eppes Creek, it was too much to ask ourselves to believe a
word of it.

[Illustration: DUTCH GAP CANAL.]

In colonial times there were a number of fine homes along this part of
the James, but most of them have long since disappeared. Just after
passing Falling Creek we came upon one colonial mansion yet standing.
It belonged in those old times to the Randolphs, and is best known
perhaps as the home of the colonial belle, Mistress Anne Randolph.
Among the beaux of the stirring days just before the Revolution, she
was a reigning toast under the popular name of "Nancy Wilton." The
second Benjamin Harrison of Brandon was among her wooers; and it is to
his courtship that Thomas Jefferson refers when expressing, in one of
his letters, the hope that his old college roommate may have luck at
Wilton. He did have. And we remembered the sweet-faced portrait at
Brandon of "Nancy Wilton" Harrison.

[Illustration: FALLING CREEK.]

Soon, our course was along a narrow channel saw-toothed with jetties on
either hand. The signs of life upon the river told that we were nearing
Richmond. We passed some work-boats, tugs, dredges, and such craft, and
everybody whistled.

Over the top of a rise of land that marked the next bend of the river,
we saw an ugly dark cloud. It had been long since we had seen a cloud
like that; but there is no mistaking the black hat of a city.

So, there was Richmond seated beside the falls in the James--those
water-bars that the river would not let down for any ship to pass;
there was where our journey would end. To be sure, long years ago, the
pale-faces outwitted the old tawny Powhatan by building a canal around
its barriers. Their ships climbed great steps that they called locks;
and, passing around the falls and rapids, went up and on their way far
toward the mountains. But the river knew the ways of the white man, and
kept its water-bars up and waited.

After a while the pale-faces took to a new way of getting themselves
and their belongings over the country; they went rolling about on rails
instead of floating on the water; and before long, they almost forgot
the old waterways. Nature waited a while and then took their abandoned
canals to grow rushes and water-lilies; and she covered the tow-paths
with green and put tangles of undergrowth along; and then she gave it
all to the birds and the frogs and the turtles.

So, it came to pass that river barriers counted once more--that the
barrier across our river counted once more. We did not know whether the
canal ahead of us was wholly abandoned; but we did know that it was so
obstructed as to no longer furnish a way of getting a vessel above the
falls.

The Powhatan was master again; and a little way beyond that next bend
it would bar the progress of Gadabout just as, three centuries earlier,
it had barred the progress of the exploring boats that the first
settlers sent up from James Towne.

Well, it was high time anyway for our journey to end. We had been
several months upon the river--several months in travelling one hundred
miles! One can not always go lazing on, even in a houseboat; even upon
an ancient waterway leading through Colonial-land.

The old river may carry you to the beginning-place of your country; it
may bear you on to the doors of famous colonial homes, full of old-time
charm and traditional courtesy. But if so, then all the more need for
falls and rapids to put a reasonable end to your houseboat voyage.

We came about the bend in the stream and, at sight of the city before
us, were reminded of the keen prevision of its colonial founder. When
Colonel William Byrd, that sagacious exquisite of Westover, came up the
river one day in 1733 to this part of his almost boundless estate, and
laid the foundations of Richmond here in the wilderness beside the
Falls of the James, he foresaw that he was founding a great city. A
"city in the air" he called it, and his dream came true. Its
realization in steeples and spires and chimneys and roof-lines opened
before us now upon the slopes and the summits of the river hills.

Soon we were skirting the city's water front. We passed piers and
factories and many boats. We went from the pure air of the open river
into the tainted breath of the town. Among many odours there came to be
chiefly one--that of tobacco from the great factories.

And that brought to mind a strange fact. In all our journey up the
river, we had not seen a leaf of tobacco nor had we seen a place where
it was grown. Tobacco, upon which civilization along the James had been
built; that had once covered with its broad leaves almost every
cultivated acre along the stream; that had made the greatness of every
plantation home we had visited--and now unknown among the products of
the fertile river banks!

At last Gadabout was at the foot of the falls and rapids. Like those
first exploring colonists we found that here "the water falleth so
rudely, and with such a violence, as not any boat can possibly passe."

[Illustration: THE VOYAGE ENDED. GADABOUT IN WINTER QUARTERS.]

Of course there was a temptation to do with our boat as the colonists
once proposed to do with theirs--take her to pieces and then put her
together again above the falls, and so sail on up the old waterway to
the South Sea and to the Indies. But the exploring spirit of the race
is not what it used to be, and we simply ran Gadabout into a slip
beside the disused canal and stopped. An anchor went plump into the
water, making a wave-circle that spread and spread till it filled the
whole basin--a great round water-period to end our river story.


THE END.




INDEX


Adams
Alexander, Elizabeth
Appomattox River, The
Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, The

Back River, The
Bacon, Nathaniel
Barney, Mrs. Edward E., owner of Jamestown Island
Berkeley, Lady Frances
Berkeley, Sir William
Berkeley (the estate)
  home of elder branch of Harrison family
  ancestral home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence,
    and of two Presidents of the United States
  plantation in 1776
Bermuda Hundred, village founded four years after settlement of James Towne
Brandon
  history of
  riverward entrance to grounds
  the "woods-way" to the mansion
  "the quarters"
  the landward entrance
  type of architecture
  characteristic hospitality
  interior of mansion
  colonial portraits
  the old garden
  present day family at Brandon
  the bedrooms
  colonial silver
  ancient records
  an old court gown
  the family burying-ground
  the garrison house
Bransford, Mrs. H.W., of the Carter family of Shirley, and one of the
  present owners of the plantation, living in the manor-house
Buck, Reverend Richard
Byrd, Evelyn, portrait and romance of
  her room at Westover
  tomb of
Byrd, Lucy Parke, wife of William Byrd of Westover
Byrd, William, the second, of Westover
  portrait at Brandon
  about 1726 built present mansion at Westover
  death
  tomb of
  ability of this colonial grandee
  founded the city of Richmond

Carter, Anne Hill, of Shirley, wife of "Light Horse Harry" Lee and
  mother of General Robert E. Lee
Carter, Charles, portrait at Shirley
Carter, Elizabeth Hill, of Shirley, daughter of the third Edward Hill,
  and wife of John Carter of Corotoman
  portrait at Shirley
Carter family acquire Corotoman
  reach greatest prominence in days of "King" Carter
  cousins to all the rest of Virginia
Carter, John, son of "King" Carter of Corotoman, was secretary of the
  colony
  married Elizabeth Hill of Shirley in 1723
  portrait at Shirley
Carter, Robert, of Corotoman on the Rappahannock, one of the wealthiest
  and most influential colonials
  his possessions
  called "King" Carter
  portrait at Shirley
Carter, Robert Randolph, of Shirley
Carter, Mrs. Robert Randolph, of Shirley
Carter, Miss Susy
Chickahominy River, The
Chippoak Creek
Chuckatuck Creek
City Point
Claremont
Colonial river trade
Constant, Sarah
Cornick, Reverend John, rector of Westover Church
Corotoman, Carter family acquire
Cotton, Mrs. An.
Court House Creek
Curie's Neck
Cuyler, Randolph
Cuyler, Mrs. Randolph, of Brandon

Dale, Sir Thomas
Dancing Point
Delaware, Lord
  ownership of Shirley
Discovery, ship
Douthat family of Weyanoke
Douthat, Fielding Lewis
Douthat, Mrs. Mary Willis Marshall, granddaughter of Chief-Justice
  Marshall, and present mistress of Weyanoke
Dutch Gap Canal

Eppes Creek
Eppes family, home at City Point

Faffing Creek
Fleur de Hundred
Ford, Paul Leicester
Fort Powhatan
"Friggett Landing"

Goodspeed, ship
Gordon family of Aberdeenshire
Gordon, William Washington
Grant, U.S., Grant's army crossed the James

Hampton Roads
Harrison, Mrs. Anne, of Berkeley
Harrison, Miss Belle, of Brandon
  in court gown of her colonial aunt, Evelyn Byrd
Harrison, Benjamin, the emigrant
Harrison, Benjamin, of Berkeley, treasurer of the colony
Harrison, Major Benjamin, of Berkeley, member of the House of Burgesses
Harrison, Benjamin, of Berkeley, member of the Continental Congress
  and signer of the Declaration of Independence
Harrison, Benjamin, of Brandon, member of the Council
Harrison, Colonel Benjamin, of Brandon, portrait by Peale
Harrison, Mrs. Benjamin. See Mistress Anne Randolph of Wilton
Harrison, Benjamin, grandson of William Henry Harrison of Berkeley,
  and twenty-third President of the United States
Harrison, George Evelyn, of Brandon
Harrison, Mrs. George Evelyn, present mistress of Brandon
Harrison, Nathaniel, of Brandon
Harrison, William Henry, of Berkeley, ninth President of our country
Harvard College
Harwood, Joseph
Henrico or Henricopolis, founded four years after James Towne
  site of proposed college which would have been oldest in America
Henry, Patrick
Herring Creek
Hill family acquire Shirley
Hill, Edward, the second,
  built present mansion at Shirley about the middle of the seventeenth
  century
  his portrait at Shirley
Hill, Mrs. Edward, portrait of, at Shirley
Hollingshorst, Elizabeth Gordon
Hollingshorst, Thomas

Indian massacre of 1622
  caused abandonment of Henrico
Irving, Washington

James River, The
  width
  depth
  historical importance
  colonial life upon
  colonial water life
  Grant's army crossed
  colonial river trade
  sturgeon in
  buoy-tender on
  narrow and crooked from Shirley to Richmond
  site of Richmond on
  the Falls of the.
James Towne
  settlement of
  development, decline, and abandonment of
  Captain Edward Ross
  the typical village
  streets
  buildings
  "alehouses"
  abandonment of
  re-settlement
  final abandonment
  ancient site not lost
  unearthing the buried ruins
Jamestown Island
  settlement of
  appearance
  the way across
  isthmus
  width of
  battle upon
  church
  churchyard
  mysterious tomb
  Confederate Fort
  historic sites
  where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married
  coining of "the maids"
  beginnings of American self-government
  the colonists' first landing-place
  the colonists' first fort
  the colonists' first village
  the story of the "Starving Time"
  the "Lone Cypress"
Jefferson, Thomas

Kittewan Creek
Kittewan house
Kneller, Sir Godfrey

Lee, General Robert E.
Lee, Miss Mary
Lee, "Light Horse Harry," married at Shirley
Lee, Mrs. Henry. See Anne Hill Carter of Shirley
Lewis family

Madison, James
Marshall, Chief-Justice John
Marshall, John, son of Chief-Justice Marshall
Marshall, Mary Willis, wife of Chief-Justice Marshall
Martin, Captain John
Meadowville
Merchants' Hope Church
Mitchell, Dr. S. Weir
Mordaunt, Charles
Monroe, James

Newport News

Oliver, Commander James H., U.S.N.
Oliver, Mrs. James H., of the Carter family, and one of the present
  owners of Shirley
Opachisco
Opechancanough, Indian chief
Parke, Colonel Daniel
Peale, Charles Wilson
  his portrait of Washington at Shirley
Peterborough, Lord
Petersburg, March upon
Piersey, Captain Abraham, ownership of Fleur de Hundred
Pocahontas
  marriage to John Rolfe
  after marriage lived at Varina
Pope, Alexander
Powell's Creek
Powhatan, Indian chief, not at wedding of Pocahontas
"Pyping Point"

Ramsay, Mrs. C. Sears, present owner of Westover
Ramsay, Elizabeth
Ramsay family at Westover
Randolph, Mistress Anne, of Wilton
  pre-Revolutionary belle, married the second Benjamin Harrison of
  Brandon
  her portrait at Brandon
Richmond, at the Falls of the James
  founded by William Byrd of Westover in 1733
Rolfe, John
  marriage to Pocahontas
  after marriage lived at Varina
Shirley, colonial seat of the Hills and of the Carters
  right way to go to
  great seventeenth-century American plantation
  early owners of
  the exterior of the mansion and the ancient messuage
  the oldest homestead on the river and one of the oldest in the
  country
  the present owners
  the colonial "great hall"
  interior of mansion
  ghosts
  colonial portraits
  kitchen and cook-room
  colonial furnishings copied in restoration of the Mt. Vernon kitchen
  colonial silverware
  romance of "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Anne Hill Carter
  Peale's portrait of Washington
  old-time Shirley

Silverware, colonial, family silver at Brandon
  communion service of Martin's Brandon Church at Brandon
  at Shirley
Smith, Captain John
Stratford, the ancestral home of the Lees
Stuart, Gilbert

Thomas, colonial house of

Varina, site of early home of John Rolfe and Pocahontas
Virginia society, type of

War of 1812, fort built in
Washington, George
  portrait of, by Peale, at Shirley
Water Supply of James Towne colonists
Westover
  became property of the Byrds
  present mansion built
  its colonial importance, and its successive owners
  riverward front
  interior of mansion
  romantic centre of
  present owner and family
  landward front, courtyard, and noted entrance gates
  garden and sun-dial, and tomb of William Byrd
  mysterious subterranean chambers
  recent restoration of
  old survey of plantation
  graveyard
Westover Church
  one of earliest churches in the country
Weyanoke
  two plantations
  houses of
  an Indian name
  Upper
  Lower
  present day family at
  oldest building at
  postoffice at
Williamsburg
Whittaker, Reverend Alexander
Willcox, John V., ownership of Fleur de Hundred
Wilton, home of Mistress Anne Randolph
Windmill Point
  first windmill in America
Wowinchopunk

Yeardley, Sir George, tomb of
  ownership of Weyanoke
  ownership of Fleur de Hundred
  built first windmill in America
Yonge, Samuel H.




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