Infomotions, Inc.Their Wedding Journey / Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920



Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Title: Their Wedding Journey
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): basil; isabel; niagara
Contributor(s): Burton, Richard Francis, Sir, 1821-1890 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 76,708 words (short) Grade range: 12-15 (college) Readability score: 53 (average)
Identifier: etext3365
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Their Wedding Journey, by William Dean Howells

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: Their Wedding Journey

Author: William Dean Howells

Release Date: September 1, 2006 [EBook #3365]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY ***




Produced by David Widger





THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY

By William Dean Howells



Contents:

     The Outset
     A Midsummer-day's Dream
     The Night Boat
     A Day's Railroading
     The Enchanted City, and Beyond
     Niagara
     Down the St. Lawrence
     The Sentiment of Montreal
     Homeward and Home
     Niagara Revisited Twelve Years after Their Wedding




THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY

By William Dean Howells

1871




I. THE OUTSET

They first met in Boston, but the match was made in Europe, where they
afterwards saw each other; whither, indeed, he followed her; and there
the match was also broken off. Why it was broken off, and why it was
renewed after a lapse of years, is part of quite a long love-story, which
I do not think myself qualified to rehearse, distrusting my fitness for a
sustained or involved narration; though I am persuaded that a skillful
romancer could turn the courtship of Basil and Isabel March to excellent
account. Fortunately for me, however, in attempting to tell the reader of
the wedding-journey of a newly married couple, no longer very young, to
be sure, but still fresh in the light of their love, I shall have nothing
to do but to talk of some ordinary traits of American life as these
appeared to them, to speak a little of well-known and easily accessible
places, to present now a bit of landscape and now a sketch of character.

They had agreed to make their wedding-journey in the simplest and
quietest way, and as it did not take place at once after their marriage,
but some weeks later, it had all the desired charm of privacy from the
outset.

"How much better," said Isabel, "to go now, when nobody cares whether you
go or stay, than to have started off upon a wretched wedding-breakfast,
all tears and trousseau, and had people wanting to see you aboard the
cars. Now there will not be a suspicion of honey-moonshine about us; we
shall go just like anybody else,--with a difference, dear, with a
difference!" and she took Basil's cheeks between her hands. In order to
do this, she had to ran round the table; for they were at dinner, and
Isabel's aunt, with whom they had begun married life, sat substantial
between them. It was rather a girlish thing for Isabel, and she added,
with a conscious blush, "We are past our first youth, you know; and we
shall not strike the public as bridal, shall we? My one horror in life is
an evident bride."

Basil looked at her fondly, as if he did not think her at all too old to
be taken for a bride; and for my part I do not object to a woman's being
of Isabel's age, if she is of a good heart and temper. Life must have
been very unkind to her if at that age she have not won more than she has
lost. It seemed to Basil that his wife was quite as fair as when they met
first, eight years before; but he could not help recurring with an
inextinguishable regret to the long interval of their broken engagement,
which but for that fatality they might have spent together, he imagined,
in just such rapture as this. The regret always haunted him, more or
less; it was part of his love; the loss accounted irreparable really
enriched the final gain.

"I don't know," he said presently, with as much gravity as a man can
whose cheeks are clasped between a lady's hands, "you don't begin very
well for a bride who wishes to keep her secret. If you behave in this
way, they will put us into the 'bridal chambers' at all the hotels. And
the cars--they're beginning to have them on the palace-cars."

Just then a shadow fell into the room.

"Wasn't that thunder, Isabel?" asked her aunt, who had been contentedly
surveying the tender spectacle before her. "O dear! you'll never be able
to go by the boat to-night, if it storms. It 's actually raining now!"

In fact, it was the beginning of that terrible storm of June, 1870. All
in a moment, out of the hot sunshine of the day it burst upon us before
we quite knew that it threatened, even before we had fairly noticed the
clouds, and it went on from passion to passion with an inexhaustible
violence. In the square upon which our friends looked out of their
dining-room windows the trees whitened in the gusts, and darkened in the
driving floods of the rainfall, and in some paroxysms of the tempest bent
themselves in desperate submission, and then with a great shudder rent
away whole branches and flung them far off upon the ground. Hail mingled
with the rain, and now the few umbrellas that had braved the storm
vanished, and the hurtling ice crackled upon the pavement, where the
lightning played like flames burning from the earth, while the thunder
roared overhead without ceasing. There was something splendidly
theatrical about it all; and when a street-car, laden to the last inch of
its capacity, came by, with horses that pranced and leaped under the
stinging blows of the hailstones, our friends felt as if it were an
effective and very naturalistic bit of pantomime contrived for their
admiration. Yet as to themselves they were very sensible of a potent
reality in the affair, and at intervals during the storm they debated
about going at all that day, and decided to go and not to go, according
to the changing complexion of the elements. Basil had said that as this
was their first journey together in America, he wished to give it at the
beginning as pungent a national character as possible, and that as he
could imagine nothing more peculiarly American than a voyage to New York
by a Fall River boat, they ought to take that route thither. So much
upholstery, so much music, such variety cf company, he understood, could
not be got in any other way, and it might be that they would even catch a
glimpse of the inventor of the combination, who represented the very
excess and extremity of a certain kind of Americanism. Isabel had eagerly
consented; but these aesthetic motives were paralyzed for her by the
thought of passing Point Judith in a storm, and she descended from her
high intents first to the Inside Boats, without the magnificence and the
orchestra, and then to the idea of going by land in a sleeping-car.
Having comfortably accomplished this feat, she treated Basil's consent as
a matter of course, not because she did not regard him, but because as a
woman she could not conceive of the steps to her conclusion as unknown to
him, and always treated her own decisions as the product of their common
reasoning. But her husband held out for the boat, and insisted that if
the storm fell before seven o'clock, they could reach it at Newport by
the last express; and it was this obstinacy that, in proof of Isabel's
wisdom, obliged them to wait two hours in the station before going by the
land route. The storm abated at five o'clock, and though the rain
continued, it seemed well by a quarter of seven to set out for the Old
Colony Depot, in sight of which a sudden and vivid flash of lightning
caused Isabel to seize her husband's arm, and to implore him, "O don't go
by the boat!" On this, Basil had the incredible weakness to yield; and
bade the driver take them to the Worcester Depot. It was the first
swerving from the ideal in their wedding journey, but it was by no means
the last; though it must be confessed that it was early to begin.

They both felt more tranquil when they were irretrievably committed by
the purchase of their tickets, and when they sat down in the waiting.
room of the station, with all the time between seven and nine o'clock
before them. Basil would have eked out the business of checking the
trunks into an affair of some length, but the baggage-master did his duty
with pitiless celerity; and so Basil, in the mere excess of his
disoccupation, bought an accident-insurance ticket. This employed him
half a minute, and then he gave up the unequal contest, and went and took
his place beside Isabel, who sat prettily wrapped in her shawl, perfectly
content.

"Isn't it charming," she said gayly, "having to wait so long? It puts me
in mind of some of those other journeys we took together. But I can't
think of those times with any patience, when we might really have had
each other, and didn't! Do you remember how long we had to wait at
Chambery? and the numbers of military gentlemen that waited too, with
their little waists, and their kisses when they met? and that poor
married military gentleman, with the plain wife and the two children, and
a tarnished uniform? He seemed to be somehow in misfortune, and his
mustache hung down in such a spiritless way, while all the other military
mustaches about curled and bristled with so much boldness. I think
'salles d'attente' everywhere are delightful, and there is such a
community of interest in them all, that when I come here only to go out
to Brookline, I feel myself a traveller once more,--a blessed stranger in
a strange land. O dear, Basil, those were happy times after all, when we
might have had each other and didn't! And now we're the more precious for
having been so long lost."

She drew closer and closer to him, and looked at him in a way that
threatened betrayal of her bridal character.

"Isabel, you will be having your head on my shoulder, next," said he.

"Never!" she answered fiercely, recovering her distance with a start.
"But, dearest, if you do see me going to--act absurdly, you know, do stop
me."

"I'm very sorry, but I've got myself to stop. Besides, I didn't undertake
to preserve the incognito of this bridal party."

If any accident of the sort dreaded had really happened, it would not
have mattered so much, for as yet they were the sole occupants of the
waiting room. To be sure, the ticket-seller was there, and the lady who
checked packages left in her charge, but these must have seen so many
endearments pass between passengers,--that a fleeting caress or so would
scarcely have drawn their notice to our pair. Yet Isabel did not so much
even as put her hand into her husband's; and as Basil afterwards said, it
was very good practice.

Our temporary state, whatever it is, is often mirrored in all that come
near us, and our friends were fated to meet frequent parodies of their
happiness from first to last on this journey. The travesty began with the
very first people who entered the waiting-room after themselves, and who
were a very young couple starting like themselves upon a pleasure tour,
which also was evidently one of the first tours of any kind that they had
made. It was of modest extent, and comprised going to New York and back;
but they talked of it with a fluttered and joyful expectation as if it
were a voyage to Europe. Presently there appeared a burlesque of their
happiness (but with a touch of tragedy) in that kind of young man who is
called by the females of his class a fellow, and two young women of that
kind known to him as girls. He took a place between these, and presently
began a robust flirtation with one of them. He possessed himself, after a
brief struggle, of her parasol, and twirled it about, as he uttered, with
a sort of tender rudeness inconceivable vapidities, such as you would
expect from none but a man of the highest fashion. The girl thus courted
became selfishly unconscious of everything but her own joy, and made no
attempt to bring the other girl within its warmth, but left her to
languish forgotten on the other side. The latter sometimes leaned
forward, and tried to divert a little of the flirtation to herself, but
the flirters snubbed her with short answers, and presently she gave up
and sat still in the sad patience of uncourted women. In this attitude
she became a burden to Isabel, who was glad when the three took
themselves away, and were succeeded by a very stylish couple--from New
York, she knew as well as if they had given her their address on West
999th Street. The lady was not pretty, and she was not, Isabel thought,
dressed in the perfect taste of Boston; but she owned frankly to herself
that the New-Yorkeress was stylish, undeniably effective. The gentleman
bought a ticket for New York, and remained at the window of the office
talking quite easily with the seller.

"You couldn't do that, my poor Basil," said Isabel, "you'd be afraid."

"O dear, yes; I'm only too glad to get off without browbeating; though I
must say that this officer looks affable enough. Really," he added, as an
acquaintance of the ticket-seller came in and nodded to him and said
"Hot, to-day!" "this is very strange. I always felt as if these men had
no private life, no friendships like the rest of us. On duty they seem so
like sovereigns, set apart from mankind, and above us all, that it's
quite incredible they should have the common personal relations."

At intervals of their talk and silence there came vivid flashes of
lightning and quite heavy shocks of thunder, very consoling to our
friends, who took them as so many compliments to their prudence in not
going by the boat, and who had secret doubts of their wisdom whenever
these acknowledgments were withheld. Isabel went so far as to say that
she hoped nothing would happen to the boat, but I think she would
cheerfully have learnt that the vessel had been obliged to put back to
Newport, on account of the storm, or even that it had been driven ashore
at a perfectly safe place.

People constantly came and went in the waiting-room, which was sometimes
quite full, and again empty of all but themselves. In the course of their
observations they formed many cordial friendships and bitter enmities
upon the ground of personal appearance, or particulars of dress, with
people whom they saw for half a minute upon an average; and they took
such a keen interest in every one, that it would be hard to say whether
they were more concerned in an old gentleman with vigorously upright
iron-gray hair, who sat fronting them, and reading all the evening
papers, or a young man who hurled himself through the door, bought a
ticket with terrific precipitation, burst out again, and then ran down a
departing train before it got out of the station: they loved the old
gentleman for a certain stubborn benevolence of expression, and if they
had been friends of the young man and his family for generations and felt
bound if any harm befell him to go and break the news gently to his
parents, their nerves could not have been more intimately wrought upon by
his hazardous behavior. Still, as they had their tickets for New York,
and he was going out on a merely local train,--to Brookline, I believe,
they could not, even in their anxiety, repress a feeling of contempt for
his unambitious destination.

They were already as completely cut off from local associations and
sympathies as if they were a thousand miles and many months away from
Boston. They enjoyed the lonely flaring of the gas-jets as a gust of wind
drew through the station; they shared the gloom and isolation of a man
who took a seat in the darkest corner of the room, and sat there with
folded arms, the genius of absence. In the patronizing spirit of
travellers in a foreign country they noted and approved the vases of
cut-flowers in the booth of the lady who checked packages, and the pots
of ivy in her windows. "These poor Bostonians," they said; "have some
love of the beautiful in their rugged natures."

But after all was said and thought, it was only eight o'clock, and they
still had an hour to wait.

Basil grew restless, and Isabel said, with a subtile interpretation of
his uneasiness, "I don't want anything to eat, Basil, but I think I know
the weaknesses of men; and you had better go and pass the next half-hour
over a plate of something indigestible."

This was said 'con stizza', the least little suggestion of it; but Basil
rose with shameful alacrity. "Darling, if it's your wish--"

"It's my fate, Basil," said Isabel.

"I'll go," he exclaimed, "because it isn't bridal, and will help us to
pass for old married people."

"No, no, Basil, be honest; fibbing isn't your forte: I wonder you went
into the insurance business; you ought to have been a lawyer. Go because
you like eating, and are hungry, perhaps, or think you may be so before
we get to New York.

"I shall amuse myself well enough here!"

I suppose it is always a little shocking and grievous to a wife when she
recognizes a rival in butchers'-meat and the vegetables of the season.
With her slender relishes for pastry and confectionery and her dainty
habits of lunching, she cannot reconcile with the idea (of) her husband's
capacity for breakfasting, dining, supping, and hot meals at all hours of
the day and night--as they write it on the sign-boards of barbaric
eating-houses. But isabel would have only herself to blame if she had not
perceived this trait of Basil's before marriage. She recurred now, as his
figure disappeared down the station, to memorable instances of his
appetite in their European travels during their first engagement. "Yes,
he ate terribly at Susa, when I was too full of the notion of getting
into Italy to care for bouillon and cold roast chicken. At Rome I thought
I must break with him on account of the wild-boar; and at Heidelberg, the
sausage and the ham!--how could he, in my presence? But I took him with
all his faults,--and was glad to get him," she added, ending her
meditation with a little burst of candor; and she did not even think of
Basil's appetite when he reappeared.

With the thronging of many sorts of people, in parties and singly, into
the waiting room, they became once again mere observers of their kind,
more or less critical in temper, until the crowd grew so that individual
traits were merged in the character of multitude. Even then, they could
catch glimpses of faces so sweet or fine that they made themselves felt
like moments of repose in the tumult, and here and there was something so
grotesque in dress of manner that it showed distinct from the rest. The
ticket-seller's stamp clicked incessantly as he sold tickets to all
points South and West: to New York, Philadelphia, Charleston; to New
Orleans, Chicago, Omaha; to St. Paul, Duluth, St. Louis; and it would not
have been hard to find in that anxious bustle, that unsmiling eagerness,
an image of the whole busy affair of life. It was not a particularly sane
spectacle, that impatience to be off to some place that lay not only in
the distance, but also in the future--to which no line of road carries
you with absolute certainty across an interval of time full of every
imaginable chance and influence. It is easy enough to buy a ticket to
Cincinnati, but it is somewhat harder to arrive there. Say that all goes
well, is it exactly you who arrive?

In the midst of the disquiet there entered at last an old woman, so very
infirm that she had to be upheld on either hand by her husband and the
hackman who had brought them, while a young girl went before with shawls
and pillows which she arranged upon the seat. There the invalid lay down,
and turned towards the crowd a white, suffering face, which was yet so
heavenly meek and peaceful that it comforted whoever looked at it.

In spirit our happy friends bowed themselves before it and owned that
there was something better than happiness in it.

"What is it like, Isabel?"

"O, I don't know, darling," she said; but she thought, "Perhaps it is
like some blessed sorrow that takes us out of this prison of a world, and
sets us free of our every-day hates and desires, our aims, our fears.
ourselves. Maybe a long and mortal sickness might come to wear such a
face in one of us two, and the other could see it, and not regret the
poor mask of youth and pretty looks that had fallen away."

She rose and went over to the sick woman, on whose face beamed a tender
smile, as Isabel spoke to her. A chord thrilled in two lives hitherto
unknown to each other; but what was said Basil would not ask when the
invalid had taken Isabel's hand between her own, as for adieu, and she
came back to his side with swimming eyes. Perhaps his wife could have
given no good reason for her emotion, if he had asked it. But it made her
very sweet and dear to him; and I suppose that when a tolerably unselfish
man is once secure of a woman's love, he is ordinarily more affected by
her compassion and tenderness for other objects than by her feelings
towards himself. He likes well enough to think, "She loves me," but still
better, "How kind and good she is!"

They lost sight of the invalid in the hurry of getting places on the
cars, and they never saw her again. The man at the wicket-gate leading to
the train had thrown it up, and the people were pressing furiously
through as if their lives hung upon the chance of instant passage. Basil
had secured his ticket for the sleeping-car, and so he and Isabel stood
aside and watched the tumult. When the rash was over they passed through,
and as they walked up and down the platform beside the train, "I was
thinking," said Isabel, "after I spoke to that poor old lady, of what
Clara Williams says: that she wonders the happiest women in the world can
look each other in the face without bursting into tears, their happiness
is so unreasonable, and so built upon and hedged about with misery. She
declares that there's nothing so sad to her as a bride, unless it's a
young mother, or a little girl growing up in the innocent gayety of her
heart. She wonders they can live through it."

"Clara is very much of a reformer, and would make an end of all of us
men, I suppose,--except her father, who supports her in the leisure that
enables her to do her deep thinking. She little knows what we poor
fellows have to suffer, and how often we break down in business hours,
and sob upon one another's necks. Did that old lady talk to you in the
same strain?"

"O no! she spoke very calmly of her sickness, and said she had lived a
blessed life. Perhaps it was that made me shed those few small tears. She
seemed a very religious person."

"Yes," said Basil, "it is almost a pity that religion is going out. But
then you are to have the franchise."

"All aboard!"

This warning cry saved him from whatever heresy he might have been about
to utter; and presently the train carried them out into the gas-sprinkled
darkness, with an ever-growing speed that soon left the city lamps far
behind. It is a phenomenon whose commonness alone prevents it from being
most impressive, that departure of the night-express. The two hundred
miles it is to travel stretch before it, traced by those slender clews,
to lose which is ruin, and about which hang so many dangers. The draw
bridges that gape upon the way, the trains that stand smoking and
steaming on the track, the rail that has borne the wear so long that it
must soon snap under it, the deep cut where the overhanging mass of rock
trembles to its fall, the obstruction that a pitiless malice may have
placed in your path,--you think of these after the journey is done, but
they seldom haunt your fancy while it lasts. The knowledge of your
helplessness in any circumstances is so perfect that it begets a sense of
irresponsibility, almost of security; and as you drowse upon the pallet
of the sleeping car, and feel yourself hurled forward through the
obscurity, you are almost thankful that you can do nothing, for it is
upon this condition only that you can endure it; and some such condition
as this, I suppose, accounts for many heroic facts in the world. To the
fantastic mood which possesses you equally, sleeping or waking, the
stoppages of the train have a weird character; and Worcester,
Springfield, New Haven, and Stamford are rather points in dream-land than
well-known towns of New England. As the train stops you drowse if you
have been waking, and wake if you have been in a doze; but in any case
you are aware of the locomotive hissing and coughing beyond the station,
of flaring gas-jets, of clattering feet of passengers getting on and off;
then of some one, conductor or station-master, walking the whole length
of the train; and then you are aware of an insane satisfaction in renewed
flight through the darkness. You think hazily of the folk in their beds
in the town left behind, who stir uneasily at the sound of your train's
departing whistle; and so all is a blank vigil or a blank slumber.

By daylight Basil and Isabel found themselves at opposite ends of the
car, struggling severally with the problem of the morning's toilet. When
the combat was ended, they were surprised at the decency of their
appearance, and Isabel said, "I think I'm presentable to an early
Broadway public, and I've a fancy for not going to a hotel. Lucy will be
expecting us out there before noon; and we can pass the time pleasantly
enough for a few hours just wandering about."

She was a woman who loved any cheap defiance of custom, and she had an
agreeable sense of adventure in what she proposed. Besides, she felt that
nothing could be more in the unconventional spirit in which they meant to
make their whole journey than a stroll about New York at half-past six in
the morning.

"Delightful!" answered Basil, who was always charmed with these small
originalities. "You look well enough for an evening party; and besides,
you won't meet one of your own critical class on Broadway at this hour.
We will breakfast at one of those gilded metropolitan restaurants, and
then go round to Leonard's, who will be able to give us just three
unhurried seconds. After that we'll push on out to his place."

At that early hour there were not many people astir on the wide avenue
down which our friends strolled when they left the station; but in the
aspect of those they saw there was something that told of a greater heat
than they had yet known in Boston, and they were sensible of having
reached a more southern latitude. The air, though freshened by the
over-night's storm, still wanted the briskness and sparkle and pungency
of the Boston air, which is as delicious in summer as it is terrible in
winter; and the faces that showed themselves were sodden from the
yesterday's heat and perspiration. A corner-grocer, seated in a sort of
fierce despondency upon a keg near his shop door, had lightly equipped
himself for the struggle of the day in the battered armor of the day
before, and in a pair of roomy pantaloons, and a baggy shirt of neutral
tint--perhaps he had made a vow not to change it whilst the siege of the
hot weather lasted,--now confronted the advancing sunlight, before which
the long shadows of the buildings were slowly retiring. A marketing
mother of a family paused at a provision-store, and looking weakly in at
the white-aproned butcher among his meats and flies, passes without an
effort to purchase. Hurried and wearied shop-girls tripped by in the
draperies that betrayed their sad necessity to be both fine and shabby;
from a boarding-house door issued briskly one of those cool young New
Yorkers whom no circumstances can oppress: breezy-coated, white-livened,
clean, with a good cigar in the mouth, a light cane caught upon the elbow
of one of the arms holding up the paper from which the morning's news is
snatched, whilst the person sways lightly with the walk; in the
street-cars that slowly tinkled up and down were rows of people with
baskets between their legs and papers before their faces; and all showed
by some peculiarity of air or dress the excess of heat which they had
already borne, and to which they seemed to look forward, and gave by the
scantiness of their number a vivid impression of the uncounted thousands
within doors prolonging, before the day's terror began, the oblivion of
sleep.

As they turned into one of the numerical streets to cross to Broadway,
and found themselves in a yet deeper seclusion, Basil-began to utter in a
musing tone:

        "A city against the world's gray Prime,
        Lost in some desert, far from Time,
        Where noiseless Ages gliding through,
        Have only sifted sands and dew,
        Yet still a marble head of man
        Lying on all the haunted plan;
        The passions of the human heart
        Beating the marble breast of Art,
        Were not more lone to one who first
        Upon its giant silence burst,
        Than this strange quiet, where the tide
        Of life, upheaved on either aide,
        Hangs trembling, ready soon to beat
        With human waves the Morning Street."

"How lovely!" said Isabel, swiftly catching at her skirt, and deftly
escaping contact with one of a long row of ash-barrels posted
sentinel-like on the edge of the pavement. "Whose is it, Basil?"

"Ah! a poet's," answered her husband, "a man of whom we shall one day any
of us be glad to say that we liked him before he was famous. What a
nebulous sweetness the first lines have, and what a clear, cool light of
day-break in the last!"

"You could have been as good a poet as that, Basil," said the
ever-personal and concretely-speaking Isabel, who could not look at a
mountain without thinking what Basil might have done in that way, if he
had tried.

"O no, I couldn't, dear. It's very difficult being any poet at all,
though it's easy to be like one. But I've done with it; I broke with the
Muse the day you accepted me. She came into my office, looking so
shabby,--not unlike one of those poor shop-girls; and as I was very well
dressed from having just been to see you, why, you know, I felt the
difference. 'Well, my dear?' said I, not quite liking the look of
reproach she was giving me. 'You are groins to leave me,' she answered
sadly. 'Well, yes; I suppose I must. You see the insurance business is
very absorbing; and besides, it has a bad appearance, your coming about
so in office hours, and in those clothes.' 'O,' she moaned out, 'you used
to welcome me at all times, out in the country, and thought me prettily
dressed.' 'Yes, yes; but this is Boston; and Boston makes a great
difference in one's ideas; and I'm going to be married, too. Come, I
don't want to seem ungrateful; we have had many pleasant times together,
I own it; and I've no objections to your being present at Christmas and
Thanksgiving and birthdays, but really I must draw the line there.' She
gave me a look that made my heart ache, and went straight to my desk and
took out of a pigeon hole a lot of papers,--odes upon your cruelty,
Isabel; songs to you; sonnets,--the sonnet, a mighty poor one, I'd made
the day before,--and threw them all into the grate. Then she turned to me
again, signed adieu with mute lips, and passed out. I could hear the
bottom wire of the poor thing's hoop-skirt clicking against each step of
the stairway, as she went slowly and heavily down to the street." "O
don't--don't, Basil," said his wife, "it seems like something wrong. I
think you ought to have been ashamed."

"Ashamed! I was heart broken. But it had to come to that. As I got
hopeful about you, the Muse became a sad bore; and more than once I found
myself smiling at her when her back was turned. The Muse doesn't like
being laughed at any more than another woman would, and she would have
left me shortly. No, I couldn't be a poet like our Morning-Street friend.
But see! the human wave is beginning to sprinkle the pavement with cooks
and second-girls."

They were frowzy serving-maids and silent; each swept down her own door
steps and the pavement in front of her own house, and then knocked her
broom on the curbstone and vanished into the house, on which the hand of
change had already fallen. It was no longer a street solely devoted to
the domestic gods, but had been invaded at more than one point by the
bustling deities of business in such streets the irregular, inspired
doctors and doctresses come first with inordinate door-plates, then a
milliner filling the parlor window with new bonnets; here even a
publisher had hung his sign beside a door, through which the feet of
young ladies used to trip, and the feet of little children to patter.
Here and there stood groups of dwellings unmolested as yet outwardly; but
even these had a certain careworn and guilty air, as if they knew
themselves to be cheapish boarding-houses or furnished lodgings for
gentlemen, and were trying to hide it. To these belonged the frowzy
serving-women; to these the rows of ash-barrels, in which the decrepit
children and mothers of the streets were clawing for bits of coal.

By the time Basil and Isabel reached Broadway there were already some
omnibuses beginning their long day's travel up and down the handsome,
tiresome length of that avenue; but for the most part it was empty. There
was, of course, a hurry of foot-passengers upon the sidewalks, but these
were sparse and uncharacteristic, for New York proper was still fast
asleep. The waiter at the restaurant into which our friends stepped was
so well aware of this, and so perfectly assured they were not of the
city, that he could not forbear a little patronage of them, which they
did not resent. He brought Basil what he had ordered in barbaric
abundance, and charged for it with barbaric splendor. It is all but
impossible not to wish to stand well with your waiter: I have myself been
often treated with conspicuous rudeness by the tribe, yet I have never
been able to withhold the 'douceur' that marked me for a gentleman in
their eyes, and entitled me to their dishonorable esteem. Basil was not
superior to this folly, and left the waster with the conviction that, if
he was not a New Yorker, he was a high-bred man of the world at any rate.

Vexed by a sense of his own pitifulness, this man of the world continued
his pilgrimage down Broadway, which even in that desert state was full of
a certain interest. Troops of laborers straggled along the pavements,
each with his dinner-pail in hand; and in many places the eternal
building up and pulling down was already going on; carts were struggling
up the slopes of vast cellars, with loads of distracting rubbish; here
stood the half-demolished walls of a house, with a sad variety of
wall-paper showing in the different rooms; there clinked the trowel upon
the brick, yonder the hammer on the stone; overhead swung and threatened
the marble block that the derrick was lifting to its place. As yet these
forces of demolition and construction had the business of the street
almost to themselves.

"Why, how shabby the street is!" said Isabel, at last.

"When I landed, after being abroad, I remember that Broadway impressed
me with its splendor."

"Ah I but you were merely coming from Europe then; and now you arrive
from Burton, and are contrasting this poor Broadway with Washington
Street. Don't be hard upon it, Isabel; every street can't be a Boston
street, you know," said Basil. Isabel, herself a Bostonian of great
intensity both by birth and conviction, believed her husband the only man
able to have thoroughly baffled the malignity of the stars in causing him
to be born out of Boston; yet he sometimes trifled with his hardly
achieved triumph, and even showed an indifference to it, with an
insincerity of which there can be no doubt whatever.

"O stuff!" she retorted, "as if I had any of that silly local pride!
Though you know well enough that Boston is the best place in the world.
But Basil! I suppose Broadway strikes us as so fine, on coming ashore
from Europe, because we hardly expect anything of America then."

"Well, I don't know. Perhaps the street has some positive grandeur of its
own, though it needs a multitude of people in it to bring out its best
effects. I'll allow its disheartening shabbiness and meanness in many
ways; but to stand in front of Grace Church, on a clear day,--a day of
late September, say,--and look down the swarming length of Broadway, on
the movement and the numbers, while the Niagara roar swelled and swelled
from those human rapids, was always like strong new wine to me. I don't
think the world affords such another sight; and for one moment, at such
times, I'd have been willing to be an Irish councilman, that I might have
some right to the pride I felt in the capital of the Irish Republic. What
a fine thing it must be for each victim of six centuries of oppression to
reflect that he owns at least a dozen Americans, and that, with his
fellows, he rules a hundred helpless millionaires!"

Like all daughters of a free country, Isabel knew nothing about politics,
and she felt that she was getting into deep water; she answered
buoyantly, but she was glad to make her weariness the occasion of hailing
a stage, and changing the conversation. The farther down town they went
the busier the street grew; and about the Astor House, where they
alighted, there was already a bustle that nothing but a fire could have
created at the same hour in Boston. A little farther on the steeple of
Trinity rose high into the scorching sunlight, while below, in the shadow
that was darker than it was cool, slumbered the old graves among their
flowers.

"How still they lie!" mused the happy wife, peering through the iron
fence in passing.

"Yes, their wedding-journeys are ended, poor things!" said Basil; and
through both their minds flashed the wonder if they should ever come to
something like that; but it appeared so impossible that they both smiled
at the absurdity.

"It's too early yet for Leonard," continued Basil; "what a pity the
church-yard is locked up. We could spend the time so delightfully in it.
But, never mind; let us go down to the Battery,--it 's not a very
pleasant place, but it's near, and it's historical, and it's open,--where
these drowsy friends of ours used to take the air when they were in the
fashion, and had some occasion for the element in its freshness. You can
imagine--it's cheap--how they used to see Mr. Burr and Mr. Hamilton down
there."

All places that fashion has once loved and abandoned are very melancholy;
but of all such places, I think the Battery is the most forlorn. Are
there some sickly locust-trees there that cast a tremulous and decrepit
shade upon the mangy grass-plots? I believe so, but I do not make sure; I
am certain only of the mangy grass-plots, or rather the spaces between
the paths, thinly overgrown with some kind of refuse and opprobrious
weed, a stunted and pauper vegetation proper solely to the New York
Battery. At that hour of the summer morning when our friends, with the
aimlessness of strangers who are waiting to do something else, saw the
ancient promenade, a few scant and hungry-eyed little boys and girls were
wandering over this weedy growth, not playing, but moving listlessly to
and fro, fantastic in the wild inaptness of their costumes. One of these
little creatures wore, with an odd involuntary jauntiness, the cast-off
best drew of some happier child, a gay little garment cut low in the neck
and short in the sleeves, which gave her the grotesque effect of having
been at a party the night before. Presently came two jaded women, a
mother and a grandmother, that appeared, when they had crawled out of
their beds, to have put on only so much clothing as the law compelled.
They abandoned themselves upon the green stuff, whatever it was, and,
with their lean hands clasped outside their knees, sat and stared, silent
and hopeless, at the eastern sky, at the heart of the terrible furnace,
into which in those days the world seemed cast to be burnt up, while the
child which the younger woman had brought with her feebly wailed unheeded
at her side. On one side of these women were the shameless houses out of
which they might have crept, and which somehow suggested riotous maritime
dissipation; on the other side were those houses in which had once dwelt
rich and famous folk, but which were now dropping down the boarding-house
scale through various un-homelike occupations to final dishonor and
despair. Down nearer the water, and not far from the castle that was once
a playhouse and is now the depot of emigration, stood certain
express-wagons, and about these lounged a few hard-looking men. Beyond
laughed and danced the fresh blue water of the bay, dotted with sails and
smokestacks.

"Well," said Basil, "I think if I could choose, I should like to be a
friendless German boy, setting foot for the first time on this happy
continent. Fancy his rapture on beholding this lovely spot, and these
charming American faces! What a smiling aspect life in the New World must
wear to his young eyes, and how his heart must leap within him!"

"Yes, Basil; it's all very pleasing, and thank you for bringing me. But
if you don't think of any other New York delights to show me, do let us
go and sit in Leonard's office till he comes, and then get out into the
country as soon as possible."

Basil defended himself against the imputation that he had been trying to
show New York to his wife, or that he had any thought but of whiling away
the long morning hours, until it should be time to go to Leonard. He
protested that a knowledge of Europe made New York the most uninteresting
town in America, and that it was the last place in the world where he
should think of amusing himself or any one else; and then they both
upbraided the city's bigness and dullness with an enjoyment that none but
Bostonians can know. They particularly derided the notion of New York's
being loved by any one. It was immense, it was grand in some ways, parts
of it were exceedingly handsome; but it was too vast, too coarse, too
restless. They could imagine its being liked by a successful young man of
business, or by a rich young girl, ignorant of life and with not too nice
a taste in her pleasures; but that it should be dear to any poet or
scholar, or any woman of wisdom and refinement, that they could not
imagine. They could not think of any one's loving New York as Dante loved
Florence, or as Madame de Stael loved Paris, or as Johnson loved black,
homely, home-like London. And as they twittered their little dispraises,
the giant Mother of Commerce was growing more and more conscious of
herself, waking from her night's sleep and becoming aware of her fleets
and trains, and the myriad hands and wheels that throughout the whole sea
and land move for her, and do her will even while she sleeps. All about
the wedding-journeyers swelled the deep tide of life back from its
night-long ebb. Broadway had filled her length with people; not yet the
most characteristic New York crowd, but the not less interesting
multitude of strangers arrived by the early boats and trams, and that
easily distinguishable class of lately New-Yorkized people from other
places, about whom in the metropolis still hung the provincial traditions
of early rising; and over all, from moment to moment, the eager,
audacious, well-dressed, proper life of the mighty city was beginning to
prevail,--though this was not so notable where Basil and Isabel had
paused at a certain window. It was the office of one of the English
steamers, and he was saying, "It was by this line I sailed, you
know,"--and she was interrupting him with, "When who could have dreamed
that you would ever be telling me of it here?" So the old marvel was
wondered over anew, till it filled the world in which there was room for
nothing but the strangeness that they should have loved each other so
long and not made it known, that they should ever have uttered it, and
that, being uttered, it should be so much more and better than ever could
have been dreamed. The broken engagement was a fable of disaster that
only made their present fortune more prosperous. The city ceased about
them, and they walked on up the street, the first man and first woman in
the garden of the new-made earth. As they were both very conscious
people, they recognized in themselves some sense of this, and presently
drolled it away, in the opulence of a time when every moment brought some
beautiful dream, and the soul could be prodigal of its bliss.

"I think if I had the naming of the animals over again, this morning, I
shouldn't call snakes 'snakes'; should you, Eve?" laughed Basil in
intricate acknowledgment of his happiness.

"O no, Adam; we'd look out all the most graceful euphemisms in the
newspapers, and we wouldn't hurt the feelings of a spider."




II. MIDSUMMER-DAY'S DREAM.

They had waited to see Leonard, in order that they might learn better how
to find his house in the country; and now, when they came in upon him at
nine o'clock, he welcomed them with all his friendly heart. He rose from
the pile of morning's letters to which he had but just sat down; he
placed them the easiest chairs; he made a feint of its not being a busy
hour with him, and would have had them look upon his office, which was
still damp and odorous from the porter's broom, as a kind of down-town
parlor; but after they had briefly accounted to his amazement for their
appearance then and there, and Isabel had boasted of the original fashion
in which they had that morning seen New York, they took pity on him, and
bade him adieu till evening.

They crossed from Broadway to the noisome street by the ferry, and in a
little while had taken their places in the train on the other side of the
water.

"Don't tell me, Basil," said Isabel, "that Leonard travels fifty miles
every day by rail going to and from his work!"

"I must, dearest, if I would be truthful."

"Then, darling, there are worse things in this world than living up at
the South End, aren't there?" And in agreement upon Boston as a place of
the greatest natural advantages, as well as all acquirable merits, with
after talk that need not be recorded, they arrived in the best humor at
the little country station near which the Leonards dwelt.

I must inevitably follow Mrs. Isabel thither, though I do it at the cost
of the reader, who suspects the excitements which a long description of
the movement would delay. The ladies were very old friends, and they had
not met since Isabel's return from Europe and renewal of her engagement.
Upon the news of this, Mrs. Leonard had swallowed with surprising ease
all that she had said in blame of Basil's conduct during the rupture, and
exacted a promise from her friend that she should pay her the first visit
after their marriage. And now that they had come together, their only
talk; was of husbands, whom they viewed in every light to which husbands
could be turned, and still found an inexhaustible novelty in the theme.
Mrs. Leonard beheld in her friend's joy the sweet reflection of her own
honeymoon, and Isabel was pleased to look upon the prosperous marriage of
the former as the image of her future. Thus, with immense profit and
comfort, they reassured one another by every question and answer, and in
their weak content lapsed far behind the representative women of our age,
when husbands are at best a necessary evil, and the relation of wives to
them is known to be one of pitiable subjection. When these two pretty,
fogies put their heads of false hair together, they were as silly and
benighted as their great-grandmothers could have been in the same
circumstances, and, as I say, shamefully encouraged each other, in their
absurdity. The absurdity appeared too good and blessed to be true. "Do
you really suppose, Basil," Isabel would say to her oppressor, after
having given him some elegant extract from the last conversation upon
husbands, "that we shall get on as smoothly as the Leonards when we have
been married ten years? Lucy says that things go more hitchily the first
year than ever they do afterwards, and that people love each other better
and better just because they've got used to it. Well, our bliss does seem
a little crude and garish compared with their happiness; and yet"--she
put up both her palms against his, and gave a vehement little
push--"there is something agreeable about it, even at this stage of the
proceedings."

"Isabel," said her husband, with severity, "this is bridal!"

"No matter! I only want to seem an old married woman to the general
public. But the application of it is that you must be careful not to
contradict me, or cross me in anything, so that we can be like the
Leonards very much sooner than they became so. The great object is not to
have any hitchiness; and you know you ARE provoking--at times."

They both educated themselves for continued and tranquil happiness by the
example and precept of their friends; and the time passed swiftly in the
pleasant learning, and in the novelty of the life led by the Leonards.
This indeed merits a closer study than can be given here, for it is the
life led by vast numbers of prosperous New Yorkers who love both the
excitement of the city and the repose of the country, and who aspire to
unite the enjoyment of both in their daily existence. The suburbs of the
metropolis stretch landward fifty miles in every direction; and
everywhere are handsome villas like Leonard's, inhabited by men like
himself, whom strict study of the time-table enables to spend all their
working hours in the city and all their smoking and sleeping hours in the
country.

The home and the neighborhood of the Leonards put on their best looks for
our bridal pair, and they were charmed. They all enjoyed the visit, said
guests and hosts, they were all sorry to have it come to an end; yet they
all resigned themselves to this conclusion. Practically, it had no other
result than to detain the travellers into the very heart of the hot
weather. In that weather it was easy to do anything that did not require
an active effort, and resignation was so natural with the mercury at
ninety, that I aan not sure but there was something sinful in it.

They had given up their cherished purpose of going to Albany by the day
boat, which was represented to them in every impossible phase. It would
be dreadfully crowded, and whenever it stopped the heat would be
insupportable. Besides it would bring them to Albany at an hour when they
must either spend the night there, or push on to Niagara by the night
train. "You had better go by the evening boat. It will be light almost
till you reach West Point, and you'll see all the best scenery. Then you
can get a good night's rest, and start fresh in the morning." So they
were counseled, and they assented, as they would have done if they had
been advised: "You had better go by the morning boat. It's deliciously
cool, travelling; you see the whole of the river, you reach Albany for
supper, and you push through to Niagara that night and are done with it."

They took leave of Leonard at breakfast and of his wife at noon, and
fifteen minutes later they were rushing from the heat of the country into
the heat of the city, where some affairs and pleasures were to employ
them till the evening boat should start.

Their spirits were low, for the terrible spell of the great heat brooded
upon them. All abroad burned the fierce white light of the sun, in which
not only the earth seemed to parch and thirst, but the very air withered,
and was faint and thin to the troubled respiration. Their train was full
of people who had come long journeys from broiling cities of the West,
and who were dusty and ashen and reeking in the slumbers at which some of
them still vainly caught. On every one lay an awful languor. Here and
there stirred a fan, like the broken wing of a dying bird; now and then a
sweltering young mother shifted her hot baby from one arm to another;
after every station the desperate conductor swung through the long aisle
and punched the ticket, which each passenger seemed to yield him with a
tacit malediction; a suffering child hung about the empty tank, which
could only gasp out a cindery drop or two of ice-water. The wind buffeted
faintly at the windows; when the door was opened, the clatter of the
rails struck through and through the car like a demoniac yell.

Yet when they arrived at the station by the ferry-side, they seemed to
have entered its stifling darkness from fresh and vigorous atmosphere, so
close and dead and mined with the carbonic breath of the locomotives was
the air of the place. The thin old wooden walls that shut out the glare
of the sun transmitted an intensified warmth; the roof seemed to hover
lower and lower, and in its coal-smoked, raftery hollow to generate a
heat deadlier than that poured upon it from the skies.

In a convenient place in the station hung a thermometer, before which
every passenger, on going aboard the ferry-boat, paused as at a shrine,
and mutely paid his devotions. At the altar of this fetich our friends
also paused, and saw that the mercury was above ninety, and exulting with
the pride that savages take in the cruel might of their idols, bowed
their souls to the great god Heat.

On the boat they found a place where the breath of the sea struck cool
across their faces, and made them forget the thermometer for the brief
time of the transit. But presently they drew near that strange, irregular
row of wooden buildings and jutting piers which skirts the river on the
New York aide, and before the boat's motion ceased the air grew thick and
warm again, and tainted with the foulness of the street on which the
buildings front. Upon this the boat's passengers issued, passing up
through a gangway, on one side of which a throng of return-passengers was
pent by a gate of iron barn, like a herd of wild animals. They were
streaming with perspiration, and, according to their different
temperaments, had faces of deep crimson or deadly pallor.

"Now the question is, my dear," said Basil when, free of the press, they
lingered for a moment in the shade outside, "whether we had better walk
up to Broadway, at an immediate sacrifice of fibre, and get a stage
there, or take one of these cars here, and be landed a little nearer,
with half the exertion. By this route we shall have sights end smells
which the other can't offer us, but whichever we take we shall be sorry."

"Then I say take this," decided Isabel. "I want to be sorry upon the
easiest possible terms, this weather."

They hailed the first car that passed, and got into it. Well for them
both if she could have exercised this philosophy with regard to the whole
day's business, or if she could have given up her plans for it, with the
same resignation she had practiced in regard to the day boat! It seems to
me a proof of the small advance our race has made in true wisdom, that we
find it so hard to give up doing anything we have meant to do. It matters
very little whether the affair is one of enjoyment or of business, we
feel the same bitter need of pursuing it to the end. The mere fact of
intention gives it a flavor of duty, and dutiolatry, as one may call the
devotion, has passed so deeply into our life that we have scarcely a
sense any more of the sweetness of even a neglected pleasure. We will not
taste the fine, guilty rapture of a deliberate dereliction; the gentle
sin of omission is all but blotted from the calendar of our crimes. If I
had been Columbus, I should have thought twice before setting sail, when
I was quite ready to do so; and as for Plymouth Rock, I should have
sternly resisted the blandishments of those twin sirens, Starvation and
Cold, who beckoned the Puritans shoreward, and as soon as ever I came in
sight of their granite perch should have turned back to England. But it
is now too late to repair these errors, and so, on one of the hottest
days of last year, behold my obdurate bridal pair, in a Tenth or
Twentieth Avenue horse-car, setting forth upon the fulfillment of a
series of intentions, any of which had wiselier been left unaccomplished.
Isabel had said they would call upon certain people in Fiftieth Street,
and then shop slowly down, ice-creaming and staging and variously cooling
and calming by the way, until they reached the ticket-office on Broadway,
whence they could indefinitely betake themselves to the steamboat an hour
or two before her departure. She felt that they had yielded sufficiently
to circumstances and conditions already on this journey, and she was
resolved that the present half-day in New York should be the half-day of
her original design.

It was not the most advisable thing, as I have allowed, but it was
inevitable, and it afforded them a spectacle which is by no means wanting
in sublimity, and which is certainly unique,--the spectacle of that great
city on a hot day, defiant of the elements, and prospering on with every
form of labor, and at a terrible cost of life. The man carrying the hod
to the top of the walls that rankly grow and grow as from his life's
blood, will only lay down his load when he feels the mortal glare of the
sun blaze in upon heart and brain; the plethoric millionaire for whom he
toils will plot and plan in his office till he swoons at the desk; the
trembling beast must stagger forward while the flame-faced tormentor on
the box has strength to lash him on; in all those vast palaces of
commerce there are ceaseless sale and purchase, packing and unpacking,
lifting up and laying down, arriving and departing loads; in thousands of
shops is the unspared and unsparing weariness of selling; in the street,
filled by the hurry and suffering of tens of thousands, is the weariness
of buying.

Their afternoon's experience was something that Basil and Isabel could,
when it was past, look upon only as a kind of vision, magnificent at
times, and at other times full of indignity and pain. They seemed to have
dreamed of a long horse-car pilgrimage through that squalid street by the
river-side, where presently they came to a market, opening upon the view
hideous vistas of carnage, and then into a wide avenue, with processions
of cars like their own coming and going up and down the centre of a
foolish and useless breadth, which made even the tall buildings (rising
gauntly up among the older houses of one or two stories) on either hand
look low, and let in the sun to bake the dust that the hot breaths of
wind caught up and gent swirling into the shabby shops. Here they dreamed
of the eternal demolition and construction of the city, and farther on of
vacant lots full of granite boulders, clambered over by goats. In their
dream they had fellow-passengers, whose sufferings made them odious and
whom they were glad to leave behind when they alighted from the car, and
running out of the blaze of the avenue, quenched themselves in the shade
of the cross-street. A little strip of shadow lay along the row of
brown-stone fronts, but there were intervals where the vacant lots cast
no shadow. With great bestowal of thought they studied hopelessly how to
avoid these spaces as if they had been difficult torrents or vast
expanses of desert sand; they crept slowly along till they came to such a
place, and dashed swiftly across it, and then, fainter than before, moved
on. They seemed now and then to stand at doors, and to be told that
people were out and again that they were in; and they had a sense of cool
dark parlors, and the airy rustling of light-muslined ladies, of chat and
of fans and ice-water, and then they came forth again; and evermore

     "The day increased from heat to heat."

At last they were aware of an end of their visits, and of a purpose to go
down town again, and of seeking the nearest car by endless blocks of
brown-stone fronts, which with their eternal brownstone flights of steps,
and their handsome, intolerable uniformity, oppressed them like a
procession of houses trying to pass a given point and never getting by.
Upon these streets there was, seldom a soul to be seen, so that when
their ringing at a door had evoked answer, it had startled them with a
vague, sad surprise. In the distance on either hand they could see cars
and carts and wagons toiling up and down the avenues, and on the next
intersecting pavement sometimes a laborer with his jacket slung across
his shoulder, or a dog that had plainly made up his mind to go mad. Up to
the time of their getting into one of those phantasmal cars for the
return down-townwards they had kept up a show of talk in their wretched
dream; they had spoken of other hot days that they had known elsewhere;
and they had wondered that the tragical character of heat had been so
little recognized. They said that the daily New York murder might even at
that moment be somewhere taking place; and that no murder of the whole
homicidal year could have such proper circumstance; they morbidly
wondered what that day's murder would be, and in what swarming
tenement-house, or den of the assassin streets by the river-sides,--if
indeed it did not befall in some such high, close-shuttered, handsome
dwelling as those they passed, in whose twilight it would be so easy to
strike down the master and leave him undiscovered and unmourned by the
family ignorantly absent at the mountains or the seaside. They
conjectured of the horror of midsummer battles, and pictured the anguish
of shipwrecked men upon a tropical coast, and the grimy misery of
stevedores unloading shiny cargoes of anthracite coal at city docks. But
now at last, as they took seats opposite one another in the crowded car,
they seemed to have drifted infinite distances and long epochs asunder.
They looked hopelessly across the intervening gulf, and mutely
questioned when it was and from what far city they or some remote
ancestors of theirs had set forth upon a wedding journey. They bade each
other a tacit farewell, and with patient, pathetic faces awaited the end
of the world.

When they alighted, they took their way up through one of the streets of
the great wholesale businesses, to Broadway. On this street was a throng
of trucks and wagons lading and unlading; bales and boxes rose and sank
by pulleys overhead; the footway was a labyrinth of packages of every
shape and size: there was no flagging of the pitiless energy that moved
all forward, no sign of how heavy a weight lay on it, save in the reeking
faces of its helpless instruments. But when the wedding-journeyers
emerged upon Broadway, the other passages and incidents of their dream
faded before the superior fantasticality of the spectacle. It was four
o'clock, the deadliest hour of the deadly summer day. The spiritless air
seemed to have a quality of blackness in it, as if filled with the gloom
of low-hovering wings. One half the street lay in shadow, and one half in
sun; but the sunshine itself was dim, as if a heat greater than its own
had smitten it with languor. Little gusts of sick, warm wind blew across
the great avenue at the corners of the intersecting streets. In the
upward distance, at which the journeyers looked, the loftier roofs and
steeples lifted themselves dim out of the livid atmosphere, and far up
and down the length of the street swept a stream of tormented life. All
sorts of wheeled things thronged it, conspicuous among which rolled and
jarred the gaudily painted Stages, with quivering horses driven each by a
man who sat in the shade of a branching white umbrella, and suffered with
a moody truculence of aspect, and as if he harbored the bitterness of
death in his heart for the crowding passengers within, when one of them
pulled the strap about his legs, and summoned him to halt. Most of the
foot-passengers kept to the shady side, and to the unaccustomed eyes of
the strangers they were not less in number than at any other time, though
there were fewer women among them. Indomitably resolute of soul, they
held their course with the swift pace of custom, and only here and there
they showed the effect of the heat. One man, collarless, with waistcoat
unbuttoned, and hat set far back from his forehead, waved a fan before
his death-white flabby face, and set down one foot after the other with
the heaviness of a somnambulist. Another, as they passed him, was saying
huskily to the friend at his side, "I can't stand this much longer. My
hands tingle as if they had gone to sleep; my heart--" But still the
multitude hurried on, passing, repassing, encountering, evading,
vanishing into shop-doors and emerging from them, dispersing down the
side streets, and swarming out of them. It was a scene that possessed the
beholder with singular fascination, and in its effect of universal
lunacy, it might well have seemed the last phase of a world presently to
be destroyed. They who were in it but not of it, as they fancied, though
there was no reason for this,--looked on it amazed, and at last their own
errands being accomplished, and themselves so far cured of the madness of
purpose, they cried with one voice, that it was a hideous sight, and
strove to take refuge from it in the nearest place where the
soda-fountain sparkled.

It was a vain desire. At the front door of the apothecary's hung a
thermometer, and as they entered they heard the next comer cry out with a
maniacal pride in the affliction laid upon mankind, "Ninety-seven
degrees!" Behind them at the door there poured in a ceaseless stream of
people, each pausing at the shrine of heat; before he tossed off the
hissing draught that two pale, close-clipped boys served them from either
side of the fountain. Then in the order of their coming they issued
through another door upon the side street, each, as he disappeared,
turning his face half round, and casting a casual glance upon a little
group near another counter. The group was of a very patient,
half-frightened, half-puzzled looking gentleman who sat perfectly still
on a stool, and of a lady who stood beside him, rubbing all over his head
a handkerchief full of pounded ice, and easing one hand with the other
when the first became tired. Basil drank his soda and paused to look upon
this group, which he felt would commend itself to realistic sculpture as
eminently characteristic of the local life, and as "The Sunstroke" would
sell enormously in the hot season. "Better take a little more of that,"
the apothecary said, looking up from his prescription, and, as the
organized sympathy of the seemingly indifferent crowd, smiling very
kindly at his patient, who thereupon tasted something in the glass he
held. "Do you still feel like fainting?" asked the humane authority.
"Slightly, now and then," answered the other, "but I'm hanging on hard to
the bottom curve of that icicled S on your soda-fountain, and I feel that
I'm all right as long as I can see that. The people get rather hazy,
occasionally, and have no features to speak of. But I don't know that I
look very impressive myself," he added in the jesting mood which seems
the natural condition of Americans in the face of all embarrassments.

"O, you'll do!" the apothecary answered, with a laugh; but he said, in
answer to an anxious question from the lady, "He mustn't be moved for an
hour yet," and gayly pestled away at a prescription, while she resumed
her office of grinding the pounded ice round and round upon her husband's
skull. Isabel offered her the commiseration of friendly words, and of
looks kinder yet, and then seeing that they could do nothing, she and
Basil fell into the endless procession, and passed out of the side door.
"What a shocking thing!" she whispered. "Did you see how all the people
looked, one after another, so indifferently at that couple, and evidently
forgot them the next instant? It was dreadful. I shouldn't like to have
you sun-struck in New York."

"That's very considerate of you; but place for place, if any accident
must happen to me among strangers, I think I should prefer to have it in
New York. The biggest place is always the kindest as well as the cruelest
place. Amongst the thousands of spectators the good Samaritan as well as
the Levite would be sure to be. As for a sun-stroke, it requires peculiar
gifts. But if you compel me to a choice in the matter, then I say, give
me the busiest part of Broadway for a sun-stroke. There is such
experience of calamity there that you could hardly fall the first victim
to any misfortune. Probably the gentleman at the apothecary's was merely
exhausted by the heat, and ran in there for revival. The apothecary has a
case of the kind on his hands every blazing afternoon, and knows just
what to do. The crowd may be a little 'ennuye' of sun-strokes, and to
that degree indifferent, but they most likely know that they can only do
harm by an expression of sympathy, and so they delegate their pity as
they have delegated their helpfulness to the proper authority, and go
about their business. If a man was overcome in the middle of a village
street, the blundering country druggist wouldn't know what to do, and the
tender-hearted people would crowd about so that no breath of air could
reach the victim."

"May be so, dear," said the wife, pensively; "but if anything did happen
to you in New York, I should like to have the spectators look as if they
saw a human being in trouble. Perhaps I'm a little exacting."

"I think you are. Nothing is so hard as to understand that there are
human beings in this world besides one's self and one's set. But let us
be selfishly thankful that it isn't you and I there in the apothecary's
shop, as it might very well be; and let us get to the boat as soon as we
can, and end this horrible midsummer-day's dream. We must have a
carriage," he added with tardy wisdom, hailing an empty hack, "as we
ought to have had all day; though I'm not sorry, now the worst's over, to
have seen the worst."




III. THE NIGHT BOAT.

There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure: a headache
darkens the universe while it lasts, a cup of tea really lightens the
spirit bereft of all reasonable consolations. Therefore I do not think it
trivial or untrue to say that there is for the moment nothing more
satisfactory in life than to have bought your ticket on the night boat up
the Hudson and secured your state-room key an hour or two before
departure, and some time even before the pressure at the clerk's office
has begun. In the transaction with this castellated baron, you have of
course been treated with haughtiness, but not with ferocity, and your
self-respect swells with a sense of having escaped positive insult; your
key clicks cheerfully in your pocket against its gutta-percha number, and
you walk up and down the gorgeously carpeted, single-columned, two-story
cabin, amid a multitude of plush sofas and chairs, a glitter of glass,
and a tinkle of prismatic chandeliers overhead, unawed even by the
aristocratic gloom of the yellow waiters. Your own stateroom as you enter
it from time to time is an ever-new surprise of splendors, a magnificent
effect of amplitude, of mahogany bedstead, of lace curtains, and of
marble topped wash-stand. In the mere wantonness of an unalloyed
prosperity you say to the saffron nobleman nearest your door, "Bring me a
pitcher of ice-water, quick, please!" and you do not find the half-hour
that he is gone very long.

If the ordinary wayfarer experiences so much pleasure from these things,
then imagine the infinite comfort of our wedding-journeyers, transported
from Broadway on that pitiless afternoon to the shelter and the quiet of
that absurdly palatial steamboat. It was not yet crowded, and by the
river-side there was almost a freshness in the air. They disposed of
their troubling bags and packages; they complimented the ridiculous
princeliness of their stateroom, and then they betook themselves to the
sheltered space aft of the saloon, where they sat down for the
tranquiller observance of the wharf and whatever should come to be seen
by them. Like all people who have just escaped with their lives from some
menacing calamity, they were very philosophical in spirit; and having got
aboard of their own motion, and being neither of them apparently the
worse for the ordeal they had passed through, were of a light,
conversational temper.

"What an amusingly superb affair!" Basil cried as they glanced through an
open window down the long vista of the saloon. "Good heavens! Isabel,
does it take all this to get us plain republicans to Albany in comfort
and safety, or are we really a nation of princes in disguise? Well, I
shall never be satisfied with less hereafter," he added. "I am spoilt for
ordinary paint and upholstery from this hour; I am a ruinous spendthrift,
and a humble three-story swell-front up at the South End is no longer the
place for me. Dearest,

     'Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,'

never to leave this Aladdin's-palace-like steamboat, but spend our lives
in perpetual trips up and down the Hudson."

To which not very costly banter Isabel responded in kind, and rapidly
sketched the life they could lead aboard. Since they could not help it,
they mocked the public provision which, leaving no interval between
disgraceful squalor and ludicrous splendor, accommodates our democratic
'menage' to the taste of the richest and most extravagant plebeian
amongst us. He, unhappily, minds danger and oppression as little as he
minds money, so long as he has a spectacle and a sensation, and it is
this ruthless imbecile who will have lace curtains to the steamboat berth
into which he gets with his pantaloons on, and out of which he may be
blown by an exploding boiler at any moment; it is he who will have for
supper that overgrown and shapeless dinner in the lower saloon, and will
not let any one else buy tea or toast for a less sum than he pays for his
surfeit; it is he who perpetuates the insolence of the clerk and the
reluctance of the waiters; it is he, in fact, who now comes out of the
saloon, with his womenkind, and takes chairs under the awning where Basil
and Isabel sit. Personally, he is not so bad; he is good-looking, like
all of us; he is better dressed than most of us; he behaves himself
quietly, if not easily; and no lord so loathes a scene. Next year he is
going to Europe, where he will not show to so much advantage as here; but
for the present it would be hard to say in what way he is vulgar, and
perhaps vulgarity is not so common a thing after all.

It was something besides the river that made the air so much more
sufferable than it had been. Over the city, since our friends had come
aboard the boat, a black cloud had gathered and now hung low upon it,
while the wind from the face of the water took the dust in the
neighboring streets, and frolicked it about the house-tops, and in the
faces of the arriving passengers, who, as the moment of departure drew
near, appeared in constantly increasing numbers and in greater variety,
with not only the trepidation of going upon them, but also with the
electrical excitement people feel before a tempest.

The breast of the black cloud was now zigzagged from moment to moment by
lightning, and claps of deafening thunder broke from it. At last the long
endurance of the day was spent, and out of its convulsion burst floods of
rain, again and again sweeping the promenade-deck where the people sat,
and driving them disconsolate into the saloon. The air was darkened as by
night, and with many regrets for the vanishing prospect, mingled with a
sense of relief from the heat, our friends felt the boat tremble away
from her moorings and set forth upon her trip.

"Ah! if we had only taken the day boat!" moaned Isabel. "Now, we shall
see nothing of the river landscape, and we shall never be able to put
ourselves down when we long for Europe, by declaring that the scenery of
the Hudson is much finer than that of the Rhine."

Yet they resolved, this indomitably good-natured couple, that they would
be just even to the elements, which had by no means been generous to
them; and they owned that if so noble a storm had celebrated their
departure upon some storied river from some more romantic port than New
York, they would have thought it an admirable thing. Even whilst they
contented themselves, the storm passed, and left a veiled and humid sky
overhead, that gave a charming softness to the scene on which their eyes
fell when they came out of the saloon again, and took their places with a
largely increased companionship on the deck.

They had already reached that part of the river where the uplands begin,
and their course was between stately walls of rocky steepness, or wooded
slopes, or grassy hollows, the scene forever losing and taking grand and
lovely shape. Wreaths of mist hung about the tops of the loftier
headlands, and long shadows draped their sides. As the night grew, lights
twinkled from a lonely house here and there in the valleys; a swarm of
lamps showed a town where it lay upon the lap or at the foot of the
hills. Behind them stretched the great gray river, haunted with many
sails; now a group of canal-boats grappled together, and having an air of
coziness in their adventure upon this strange current out of their own
sluggish waters, drifted out of sight; and now a smaller and slower
steamer, making a laborious show of keeping up was passed, and
reluctantly fell behind; along the water's edge rattled and hooted the
frequent trains. They could not tell at any time what part of the river
they were on, and they could not, if they would, have made its beauty a
matter of conscientious observation; but all the more, therefore, they
deeply enjoyed it without reference to time or place. They felt some
natural pain when they thought that they might unwittingly pass the
scenes that Irving has made part of the common dream-land, and they would
fair have seen the lighted windows of the house out of which a cheerful
ray has penetrated to so many hearts; but being sure of nothing, as they
were, they had the comfort of finding the Tappan Zee in every expanse of
the river, and of discovering Sunny-Side on every pleasant slope. By
virtue of this helplessness, the Hudson, without ceasing to be the
Hudson, became from moment to moment all fair and stately streams upon
which they had voyaged or read of voyaging, from the Nile to the
Mississippi. There is no other travel like river travel; it is the
perfection of movement, and one might well desire never to arrive at
one's destination. The abundance of room, the free, pure air, the
constant delight of the eyes in the changing landscape, the soft tremor
of the boat, so steady upon her keel, the variety of the little world on
board,--all form a charm which no good heart in a sound body can resist.
So, whilst the twilight held, well content, in contiguous chairs, they
purred in flattery of their kindly fate, imagining different pleasures,
certainly, but none greater, and tasting to its subtlest flavor the
happiness conscious of itself.

Their own satisfaction, indeed, was so interesting to them in this
objective light, that they had little desire to turn from its
contemplation to the people around them; and when at last they did so, it
was still with lingering glances of self-recognition and enjoyment. They
divined rightly that one of the main conditions of their present felicity
was the fact that they had seen so much of time and of the world, that
they had no longer any desire to take beholding eyes, or to make any sort
of impressive figure, and they understood that their prosperous love
accounted as much as years and travel for this result. If they had had a
loftier opinion of themselves, their indifference to others might have
made them offensive; but with their modest estimate of their own value in
the world, they could have all the comfort of self-sufficiency, without
its vulgarity.

"O yes!" said Basil, in answer to some apostrophe to their bliss from
Isabel, "it's the greatest imaginable satisfaction to have lived past
certain things. I always knew that I was not a very handsome or otherwise
captivating person, but I can remember years--now blessedly remote--when
I never could see a young girl without hoping she would mistake me for
something of that sort. I couldn't help desiring that some fascination of
mine, which had escaped my own analysis, would have an effect upon her. I
dare say all young men are so. I used to live for the possible interest I
might inspire in your sex, Isabel. They controlled my movements, my
attitudes; they forbade me repose; and yet I believe I was no ass, but a
tolerably sensible fellow. Blessed be marriage, I am free at last! All
the loveliness that exists outside of you, dearest,--and it 's mighty
little,--is mere pageant to me; and I thank Heaven that I can meet the
most stylish girl now upon the broad level of our common humanity.
Besides, it seems to me that our experience of life has quieted us in
many other ways. What a luxury it is to sit here, and reflect that we do
not want any of these people to suppose us rich, or distinguished, or
beautiful, or well dressed, and do not care to show off in any sort of
way before them!"

This content was heightened, no doubt, by a just sense of their contrast
to the group of people nearest there,--a young man of the second or third
quality--and two young girls. The eldest of these was carrying on a
vivacious flirtation with the young man, who was apparently an
acquaintance of brief standing; the other was scarcely more than a child,
and sat somewhat abashed at the sparkle of the colloquy. They were
conjecturally sisters going home from some visit, and not skilled in the
world, but of a certain repute in their country neighborhood for beauty
and wit. The young man presently gave himself out as one who, in pursuit
of trade for the dry-goods house he represented, had travelled many
thousands of miles in all parts of the country. The encounter was visibly
that kind of adventure which both would treasure up for future
celebration to their different friends; and it had a brilliancy and
interest which they could not even now consent to keep to themselves.
They talked to each other and at all the company within hearing, and
exchanged curt speeches which had for them all the sensation of repartee.

Young Man. They say that beauty unadorned is adorned the most.

Young Woman (bridling, and twitching her head from side to side, in the
high excitement of the dialogue). Flattery is out of place.

Young Man. Well, never mind. If you don't believe me, you ask your mother
when you get home.

(Titter from the younger sister.)

Young Woman (scornfully). Umph! my mother has no control over me!

Young Man. Nobody else has, either, I should gay. (Admiringly.)

Young Woman. Yes, you've told the truth for once, for a wonder. I'm able
to take care of myself,--perfectly. (Almost hoarse with a sense of
sarcastic performance.)

Young Man. "Whole team and big dog under the wagon," as they say out
West.

Young Woman. Better a big dog than a puppy, any day.

Giggles and horror from the younger sister, sensation in the young man,
and so much rapture in the young woman that she drops the key of her
state-room from her hand. They both stoop, and a jocose scuffle for it
ensues, after which the talk takes an autobiographical turn on the part
of the young man, and drops into an unintelligible murmur. "Ah! poor Real
Life, which I love, can I make others share the delight I find in thy
foolish and insipid face?"

Not far from this group sat two Hebrews, one young and the other old,
talking of some business out of which the latter had retired. The younger
had been asked his opinion upon some point, and he was expanding with a
flattered consciousness of the elder's perception of his importance, and
toadying to him with the pleasure which all young men feel in winning the
favor of seniors in their vocation. "Well, as I was a-say'n', Isaac don't
seem to haf no natcheral pent for the glothing business. Man gomes in and
wands a goat,"--he seemed to be speaking of a garment and not a domestic
animal,--"Isaac'll zell him the goat he wands him to puy, and he'll make
him believe it 'a the goat he was a lookin' for. Well, now, that's well
enough as far as it goes; but you know and I know, Mr. Rosenthal, that
that 's no way to do business. A man gan't zugzeed that goes upon that
brincible. Id's wrong. Id's easy enough to make a man puy the goat you
want him to, if he wands a goat, but the thing is to make him puy the
goat that you wand to zell when he don't wand no goat at all. You've
asked me what I thought and I've dold you. Isaac'll never zugzeed in the
redail glothing-business in the world!"

"Well," sighed the elder, who filled his armchair quite full, and
quivered with a comfortable jelly-like tremor in it, at every pulsation
of the engine, "I was afraid of something of the kind. As you say,
Benjamin, he don't seem to have no pent for it. And yet I proughd him up
to the business; I drained him to it, myself."

Besides these talkers, there were scattered singly, or grouped about in
twos and threes and fours, the various people one encounters on a Hudson
River boat, who are on the whole different from the passengers on other
rivers, though they all have features in common. There was that man of
the sudden gains, who has already been typified; and there was also the
smoother rich man of inherited wealth, from whom you can somehow know the
former so readily. They were each attended by their several retinues of
womankind, the daughters all much alike, but the mothers somewhat
different. They were going to Saratoga, where perhaps the exigencies of
fashion would bring them acquainted, and where the blue blood of a
quarter of a century would be kind to the yesterday's fluid of warmer
hue. There was something pleasanter in the face of the hereditary
aristocrat, but not so strong, nor, altogether, so admirable;
particularly if you reflected that he really represented nothing in the
world, no great culture, no political influence, no civic aspiration, not
even a pecuniary force, nothing but a social set, an alien club-life, a
tradition of dining. We live in a true fairy land after all, where the
hoarded treasure turns to a heap of dry leaves. The almighty dollar
defeats itself, and finally buys nothing that a man cares to have. The
very highest pleasure that such an American's money can purchase is
exile, and to this rich man doubtless Europe is a twice-told tale. Let us
clap our empty pockets, dearest reader, and be glad.

We can be as glad, apparently, and with the same reason as the poorly
dressed young man standing near beside the guard, whose face Basil and
Isabel chose to fancy that of a poet, and concerning whom, they romanced
that he was going home, wherever his home was, with the manuscript of a
rejected book in his pocket. They imagined him no great things of a poet,
to be sure, but his pensive face claimed delicate feeling for him, and a
graceful, sombre fancy, and they conjectured unconsciously caught flavors
of Tennyson and Browning in his verse, with a moderner tint from Morris:
for was it not a story out of mythology, with gods and heroes of the
nineteenth century, that he was now carrying back from New York with him?
Basil sketched from the colors of his own long-accepted disappointments a
moving little picture of this poor imagined poet's adventures; with what
kindness and unkindness he had been put to shame by publishers, and how,
descending from his high, hopes of a book, he had tried to sell to the
magazines some of the shorter pieces out of the "And other Poems" which
were to have filled up the volume. "He's going back rather stunned and
bewildered; but it's something to have tasted the city, and its bitter
may turn to sweet on his palate, at last, till he finds himself longing
for the tumult that he abhors now. Poor fellow! one compassionate
cut-throat of a publisher even asked him to lunch, being struck, as we
are, with something fine in his face. I hope he's got somebody who
believes in him, at home. Otherwise he'd be more comfortable, for the
present, if he went over the railing there."

So the play of which they were both actors and spectators went on about
them. Like all passages of life, it seemed now a grotesque mystery, with
a bluntly enforced moral, now a farce of the broadest, now a latent
tragedy folded in the disguises of comedy. All the elements, indeed, of
either were at work there, and this was but one brief scene of the
immense complex drama which was to proceed so variously in such different
times and places, and to have its denouement only in eternity. The
contrasts were sharp: each group had its travesty in some other; the talk
of one seemed the rude burlesque, the bitter satire of the next; but of
all these parodies none was so terribly effective as the two women, who
sat in the midst of the company, yet were somehow distinct from the rest.
One wore the deepest black of widowhood, the other was dressed in bridal
white, and they were both alike awful in their mockery of guiltless
sorrow and guiltless joy. They were not old, but the soul of youth was
dead in their pretty, lamentable faces, and ruin ancient as sin looked
from their eyes; their talk and laughter seemed the echo of an
innumerable multitude of the lost haunting the world in every land and
time, each solitary forever, yet all bound together in the unity of an
imperishable slavery and shame.

What a stale effect! What hackneyed characters! Let us be glad the night
drops her curtain upon the cheap spectacle, and shuts these with the
other actors from our view.

Within the cabin, through which Basil and Isabel now slowly moved, there
were numbers of people lounging about on the sofas, in various attitudes
of talk or vacancy; and at the tables there were others reading
"Lothair," a new book in the remote epoch of which I write, and a very
fashionable book indeed. There was in the air that odor of paint and
carpet which prevails on steamboats; the glass drops of the chandeliers
ticked softly against each other, as the vessel shook with her
respiration, like a comfortable sleeper, and imparted a delicious feeling
of coziness and security to our travellers.

A few hours later they struggled awake at the sharp sound of the pilot's
bell signaling the engineer to slow the boat. There was a moment of
perfect silence; then all the drops of the chandeliers in the saloon
clashed musically together; then fell another silence; and at last came
wild cries for help, strongly qualified with blasphemies and curses.
"Send out a boat!" "There was a woman aboard that steamboat!" "Lower your
boats!" "Run a craft right down, with your big boat!" "Send out a boat
and pick up the crew!" The cries rose and sank, and finally ceased;
through the lattice of the state-room window some lights shone faintly on
the water at a distance.

"Wait here, Isabel!" said her husband. "We've run down a boat. We don't
seem hurt; but I'll go see. I'll be back in a minute."

Isabel had emerged into a world of dishabille, a world wildly unbuttoned
and unlaced, where it was the fashion for ladies to wear their hair down
their backs, and to walk about in their stockings, and to speak to each
other without introduction. The place with which she had felt so familiar
a little while before was now utterly estranged. There was no motion of
the boat, and in the momentary suspense a quiet prevailed, in which those
grotesque shapes of disarray crept noiselessly round whispering
panic-stricken conjectures. There was no rushing to and fro, nor tumult
of any kind, and there was not a man to be seen, for apparently they had
all gone like Basil to learn the extent of the calamity. A mist of sleep
involved the whole, and it was such a topsy-turvy world that it would
have seemed only another dream-land, but that it was marked for reality
by one signal fact. With the rest appeared the woman in bridal white and
the woman in widow's black, and there, amidst the fright that made all
others friends, and for aught that most knew, in the presence of death
itself, these two moved together shunned and friendless.

Somehow, even before Basil returned, it had become known to Isabel and
the rest that their own steamer had suffered no harm, but that she had
struck and sunk another convoying a flotilla of canal boats, from which
those alarming cries and curses had come. The steamer was now lying by
for the small boats she had sent out to pick up the crew of the sunken
vessel.

"Why, I only heard a little tinkling of the chandeliers," said one of the
ladies. "Is it such a very alight matter to run down another boat and
sink it?"

She appealed indirectly to Basil, who answered lightly, "I don't think
you ladies ought to have been disturbed at all. In running over a common
tow-boat on a perfectly clear night like this there should have been no
noise and no perceptible jar. They manage better on the Mississippi, and
both boats often go down without waking the lightest sleeper on board."

The ladies, perhaps from a deficient sense of humor, listened with
undisguised displeasure to this speech. It dispersed them, in fact; some
turned away to bivouac for the rest of the night upon the arm-chairs and
sofas, while others returned to their rooms. With the latter went Isabel.
"Lock me in, Basil," she said, with a bold meekness, "and if anything
more happens don't wake me till the last moment." It was hard to part
from him, but she felt that his vigil would somehow be useful to the
boat, and she confidingly fell into a sleep that lasted till daylight.

Meantime, her husband, on whom she had tacitly devolved so great a
responsibility, went forward to the promenade in front of the saloon, in
hopes of learning something more of the catastrophe from the people whom
he had already found gathered there.

A large part of the passengers were still there, seated or standing about
in earnest colloquy. They were in that mood which follows great
excitement, and in which the feeblest-minded are sure to lead the talk.
At such times one feels that a sensible frame of mind is unsympathetic,
and if expressed, unpopular, or perhaps not quite safe; and Basil, warned
by his fate with the ladies, listened gravely to the voice of the common
imbecility and incoherence.

The principal speaker was a tall person, wearing a silk travelling-cap.
He had a face of stupid benignity and a self-satisfied smirk; and he was
formally trying to put at his ease, and hopelessly confusing the loutish
youth before him. "You say you saw the whole accident, and you're
probably the only passenger that did see it. You'll be the most important
witness at the trial," he added, as if there would ever be any trial
about it. "Now, how did the tow-boat hit us?"

"Well, she came bows on."

"Ah! bows on," repeated the other, with great satisfaction; and a little
murmur of "Bows on!" ran round the listening circle.

"That is," added the witness, "it seemed as if we struck her amidships,
and cut her in two, and sunk her."

"Just so," continued the examiner, accepting the explanation, "bows on.
Now I want to ask if you saw our captain or any of the crew about?"

"Not a soul," said the witness, with the solemnity of a man already on
oath.

"That'll do," exclaimed the other. "This gentleman's experience coincides
exactly with my own. I didn't see the collision, but I did see the cloud
of steam from the sinking boat, and I saw her go down. There wasn't an
officer to be found anywhere on board our boat. I looked about for the
captain and the mate myself, and couldn't find either of them high or
low."

"The officers ought all to have been sitting here on the promenade deck,"
suggested one ironical spirit in the crowd, but no one noticed him.

The gentleman in the silk travelling-cap now took a chair, and a number
of sympathetic listeners drew their chairs about him, and then began an
interchange of experience, in which each related to the last particular
all that he felt, thought, and said, and, if married, what his wife felt,
thought, and said, at the moment of the calamity. They turned the
disaster over and over in their talk, and rolled it under their tongues.
Then they reverted to former accidents in which they had been concerned;
and the silk-capped gentleman told, to the common admiration, of a
fearful escape of his, on the Erie Road, from being thrown down a steep
embankment fifty feet high by a piece of rock that had fallen on the
track. "Now just see, gentlemen, what a little thing, humanly speaking,
life depends upon. If that old woman had been able to sleep, and hadn't
sent that boy down to warn the train, we should have run into the rock
and been dashed to pieces. The passengers made up a purse for the boy,
and I wrote a full account of it to the papers."

"Well," said one of the group, a man in a hard hat, "I never lie down on
a steamboat or a railroad train. I want to be ready for whatever
happens."

The others looked at this speaker with interest, as one who had invented
a safe method of travel.

"I happened to be up to-night, but I almost always undress and go to bed,
just as if I were in my own house," said the gentleman of the silk cap.

"I don't say your way isn't the best, but that's my way."

The champions of the rival systems debated their merits with suavity and
mutual respect, but they met with scornful silence a compromising spirit
who held that it was better to throw off your coat and boots, but keep
your pantaloons on. Meanwhile, the steamer was hanging idle upon the
current, against which it now and then stirred a careless wheel, still
waiting for the return of the small boats. Thin gray clouds, through
rifts of which a star sparkled keenly here and there, veiled the heavens;
shadowy bluffs loomed up on either hand; in a hollow on the left twinkled
a drowsy little town; a beautiful stillness lay on all.

After an hour's interval a shout was heard from far down the river; then
later the plash of oars; then a cry hailing the approaching boats, and
the answer, "All safe!" Presently the boats had come alongside, and the
passengers crowded down to the guard to learn the details of the search.
Basil heard a hollow, moaning, gurgling sound, regular as that of the
machinery, for some note of which he mistook it. "Clear the gangway
there!" shouted a gruff voice; "man scalded here!" And a burden was
carried by from which fluttered, with its terrible regularity, that
utterance of mortal anguish.

Basil went again to the forward promenade, and sat down to see the
morning come.

The boat swiftly ascended the current, and presently the steeper shores
were left behind and the banks fell away in long upward sloping fields,
with farm-houses and with stacks of harvest dimly visible in the generous
expanses. By and by they passed a fisherman drawing his nets, and bending
from his boat, there near Albany, N. Y., in the picturesque immortal
attitudes of Raphael's Galilean fisherman; and now a flush mounted the
pale face of the east, and through the dewy coolness of the dawn there
came, more to the sight than any other sense, a vague menace of heat. But
as yet the air was deliciously fresh and sweet, and Basil bathed his
weariness in it, thinking with a certain luxurious compassion of the
scalded man, and how he was to fare that day. This poor wretch seemed of
another order of beings, as the calamitous always seem to the happy, and
Basil's pity was quite an abstraction; which, again, amused and shocked
him, and he asked his heart of bliss to consider of sorrow a little more
earnestly as the lot of all men, and not merely of an alien creature here
and there. He dutifully tried to imagine another issue to the disaster of
the night, and to realize himself suddenly bereft of her who so filled
his life. He bade his soul remember that, in the security of sleep, Death
had passed them both so close that his presence might well have chilled
their dreams, as the iceberg that grazes the ship in the night freezes
all the air about it. But it was quite idle: where love was, life only
was; and sense and spirit alike put aside the burden that he would have
laid upon them; his revery reflected with delicious caprice the looks,
the tones, the movements that he loved, and bore him far away from the
sad images that he had invited to mirror themselves in it.




IV. A DAY'S RAILROADING

Happiness has commonly a good appetite; and the thought of the
fortunately ended adventures of the night, the fresh morning air, and the
content of their own hearts, gifted our friends, by the time the boat
reached Albany, with a wholesome hunger, so that they debated with spirit
the question of breakfast and the best place of breakfasting in a city
which neither of them knew, save in the most fugitive and sketchy way.

They decided at last, in view of the early departure of the train, and
the probability that they would be more hurried at a hotel, to breakfast
at the station, and thither they went and took places at one of the many
tables within, where they seemed to have been expected only by the flies.
The waitress plainly had not looked for them, and for a time found their
presence so incredible that she would not acknowledge the rattling that
Basil was obliged to make on his glass. Then it appeared that the cook
would not believe in them, and he did not send them, till they were quite
faint, the peppery and muddy draught which impudently affected to be
coffee, the oily slices of fugacious potatoes slipping about in their
shallow dish and skillfully evading pursuit, the pieces of beef that
simulated steak, the hot, greasy biscuit, steaming evilly up into the
face when opened, and then soddening into masses of condensed dyspepsia.

The wedding-journeyers looked at each other with eyes of sad amaze. They
bowed themselves for a moment to the viands, and then by an equal impulse
refrained. They were sufficiently young, they were happy, they were
hungry; nature is great and strong, but art is greater, and before these
triumphs of the cook at the Albany depot appetite succumbed. By a
terrible tour de force they swallowed the fierce and turbid liquor in
their cups, and then speculated fantastically upon the character and
history of the materials of that breakfast.

Presently Isabel paused, played a little with her knife, and, after a
moment looked up at her husband with an arch regard and said: "I was
just thinking of a small station somewhere in the South of France where
our train once stopped for breakfast. I remember the freshness and
brightness of everything on the little tables,--the plates, the napkins,
the gleaming half-bottles of wine. They seemed to have been preparing
that breakfast for us from the beginning of time, and we were hardly
seated before they served us with great cups of 'cafe-au-lait', and the
sweetest rolls and butter; then a delicate cutlet, with an unspeakable
gravy, and potatoes,--such potatoes! Dear me, how little I ate of it! I
wish, for once, I'd had your appetite, Basil; I do indeed."

She ended with a heartless laugh, in which, despite the tragical contrast
her words had suggested, Basil finally joined. So much amazement had
probably never been got before out of the misery inflicted in that place;
but their lightness did not at all commend them. The waitress had not
liked it from the first, and had served them with reluctance; and the
proprietor did not like it, and kept his eye upon them as if he believed
them about to escape without payment. Here, then, they had enforced a
great fact of travelling,--that people who serve the public are kindly
and pleasant in proportion as they serve it well. The unjust and the
inefficient have always that consciousness of evil which will not let a
man forgive his victim, or like him to be cheerful.

Our friends, however, did not heat themselves over the fact. There was
already such heat from without, even at eight o'clock in the morning,
that they chose to be as cool as possible in mind, and they placidly took
their places in the train, which had been made up for departure. They had
deliberately rejected the notion of a drawing-room car as affording a
less varied prospect of humanity, and as being less in the spirit of
ordinary American travel. Now, in reward, they found themselves quite
comfortable in the common passenger-car, and disposed to view the
scenery, into which they struck an hour after leaving the city, with much
complacency. There was sufficient draught through the open window to make
the heat tolerable, and the great brooding warmth gave to the landscape
the charm which it alone can impart. It is a landscape that I greatly
love for its mild beauty and tranquil picturesqueness, and it is in honor
of our friends that I say they enjoyed it. There are nowhere any
considerable hills, but everywhere generous slopes and pleasant hollows
and the wide meadows of a grazing country, with the pretty brown Mohawk
River rippling down through all, and at frequent intervals the life of
the canal, now near, now far away, with the lazy boats that seem not to
stir, and the horses that the train passes with a whirl, and, leaves
slowly stepping forward and swiftly slipping backward. There are farms
that had once, or still have, the romance to them of being Dutch
farms,--if there is any romance in that,--and one conjectures a Dutch
thrift in their waving grass and grain. Spaces of woodland here and there
dapple the slopes, and the cozy red farm-houses repose by the side of
their capacious red barns. Truly, there is no ground on which to defend
the idleness, and yet as the train strives furiously onward amid these
scenes of fertility and abundance, I like in fancy to loiter behind it,
and to saunter at will up and down the landscape. I stop at the farm-yard
gates, and sit upon the porches or thresholds, and am served with cups of
buttermilk by old Dutch ladies who have done their morning's work and
have leisure to be knitting or sewing; or if there are no old ladies,
with decent caps upon their gray hair, then I do not complain if the
drink is brought me by some red-cheeked, comely young girl, out of
Washington Irving's pages, with no cap on her golden braids, who mirrors
my diffidence, and takes an attitude of pretty awkwardness while she
waits till I have done drinking. In the same easily contented spirit as I
lounge through the barn-yard, if I find the old hens gone about their
family affairs, I do not mind a meadow-lark's singing in the top of the
elm-tree beside the pump. In these excursions the watch-dogs know me for
a harmless person, and will not open their eyes as they lie coiled up in
the sun before the gate. At all the places, I have the people keep bees,
and, in the garden full of worthy pot-herbs, such idlers in the vegetable
world as hollyhocks and larkspurs and four-o'clocks, near a great bed in
which the asparagus has gone to sleep for the season with a dream of
delicate spray hanging over it. I walk unmolested through the farmer's
tall grass, and ride with him upon the perilous seat of his voluble
mowing-machine, and learn to my heart's content that his name begins with
Van, and that his family has owned that farm ever since the days of the
Patroon; which I dare say is not true. Then I fall asleep in a corner of
the hayfield, and wake up on the tow-path of the canal beside that
wonderfully lean horse, whose bones you cannot count only, because they
are so many. He never wakes up, but, with a faltering under-lip and
half-shut eyes, hobbles stiffly on, unconscious of his anatomical
interest. The captain hospitably asks me on board, with a twist of the
rudder swinging the stern of the boat up to the path, so that I can step
on. She is laden with flour from the valley of the Genesee, and may have
started on her voyage shortly after the canal was made. She is succinctly
manned by the captain, the driver, and the cook, a fiery-haired lady of
imperfect temper; and the cabin, which I explore, is plainly furnished
with a cook-stove and a flask of whiskey. Nothing but profane language is
allowed on board; and so, in a life of wicked jollity and ease, we glide
imperceptibly down the canal, unvexed by the far-off future of arrival.

Such, I say, are my own unambitious mental pastimes, but I am aware that
less superficial spirits could not be satisfied with them, and I can not
pretend that my wedding-journeyers were so.

They cast an absurd poetry over the landscape; they invited themselves to
be reminded of passages of European travel by it; and they placed villas
and castles and palaces upon all the eligible building-sites. Ashamed of
these devices, presently, Basil patriotically tried to reconstruct the
Dutch and Indian past of the Mohawk Valley, but here he was foiled by the
immense ignorance of his wife, who, as a true American woman, knew
nothing of the history of her own country, and less than nothing of the
barbarous regions beyond the borders of her native province. She proved a
bewildering labyrinth of error concerning the events which Basil
mentioned; and she had never even heard of the massacres by the French
and Indians at Schenectady, which he in his boyhood had known so vividly
that he was scalped every night in his dreams, and woke up in the morning
expecting to see marks of the tomahawk on the head-board. So, failing at
last to extract any sentiment from the scenes without, they turned their
faces from the window, and looked about them for amusement within the
car.

It was in all respects an ordinary carful of human beings, and it was
perhaps the more worthy to be studied on that account. As in literature
the true artist will shun the use even of real events if they are of an
improbable character, so the sincere observer of man will not desire to
look upon the heroic or occasional phases, but will seek him in his
habitual moods of vacancy and tiresomeness. To me, at any rate, he is at
such times very precious; and I never perceive him to be so much a man
and a brother as when I feel the pressure of his vast, natural,
unaffected dullness. Then I am able to enter confidently into his life
and inhabit there, to think his shallow and feeble thoughts, to be moved
by his dumb, stupid desires, to be dimly illumined by his stinted
inspirations, to share his foolish prejudices, to practice his obtuse
selfishness. Yes, it is a very amusing world, if you do not refuse to be
amused; and our friends were very willing to be entertained. They
delighted in the precise, thick-fingered old ladies who bought sweet
apples of the boys come aboard with baskets, and who were so long in
finding the right change, that our travellers, leaping in thought with
the boys from the moving train, felt that they did so at the peril of
their lives. Then they were interested in people who went out and found
their friends waiting for them, or else did not find them, and wandered
disconsolately up and down before the country stations, carpet-bag in
hand; in women who came aboard, and were awkwardly shaken hands with or
sheepishly kissed by those who hastily got seats for them, and placed
their bags or their babies in their laps, and turned for a nod at the
door; in young ladies who were seen to places by young men the latter
seemed not to care if the train did go off with them, and then threw up
their windows and talked with girl-friends, on the platform without, till
the train began to move, and at last turned with gleaming eyes and moist
red lips, and panted hard in the excitement of thinking about it, and
could not calm themselves to the dull level of the travel around them; in
the conductor, coldly and inaccessibly vigilant, as he went his rounds,
reaching blindly for the tickets with one hand while he bent his head
from time, to time, and listened with a faint, sarcastic smile to the
questions of passengers who supposed they were going to get some
information out of him; in the trainboy, who passed through on his many
errands with prize candies, gum-drops, pop-corn, papers and magazines,
and distributed books and the police journals with a blind impartiality,
or a prodigious ignorance, or a supernatural perception of character in
those who received them.

A through train from East to West presents some peculiar features as well
as the traits common to all railway travel; and our friends decided that
this was not a very well-dressed company, and would contrast with the
people on an express-train between Boston and New York to no better
advantage than these would show beside the average passengers between
London and Paris. And it seems true that on a westering' line, the
blacking fades gradually from the boots, the hat softens and sinks, the
coat loses its rigor of cut, and the whole person lounges into increasing
informality of costume. I speak of the undressful sex alone: woman,
wherever she is, appears in the last attainable effects of fashion, which
are now all but telegraphic and universal. But most of the passengers
here were men, and they mere plainly of the free-and easy West rather
than the dapper East. They wore faces thoughtful with the problem of
buying cheap and selling dear, and they could be known by their silence
from the loquacious, acquaintance-making way-travellers. In these, the
mere coming aboard seemed to beget an aggressively confidential mood.
Perhaps they clutched recklessly at any means of relieving their ennui;
or they felt that they might here indulge safely in the pleasures of
autobiography, so dear to all of us; or else, in view of the many
possible catastrophes, they desired to leave some little memory of
themselves behind. At any rate, whenever the train stopped, the
wedding-journeyers caught fragments of the personal histories of their
fellow-passengers which had been rehearsing to those that sat next the
narrators. It was no more than fair that these should somewhat magnify
themselves, and put the best complexion on their actions and the worst
upon their sufferings; that they should all appear the luckiest or the
unluckiest, the healthiest or the sickest, people that ever were, and
should all have made or lost the most money. There was a prevailing
desire among them to make out that they came from or were going to same
very large place; and our friends fancied an actual mortification in the
face of a modest gentleman who got out at Penelope (or some other
insignificant classical station, in the ancient Greek and Roman part of
New York State), after having listened to the life of a somewhat
rustic-looking person who had described himself as belonging near New
York City.

Basil also found diversion in the tender couples, who publicly comported
themselves as if in a sylvan solitude, and, as it had been on the bank of
some umbrageous stream, far from the ken of envious or unsympathetic
eyes, reclined upon each other's shoulders and slept; but Isabel declared
that this behavior was perfectly indecent. She granted, of course, that
they were foolish, innocent people, who meant no offense, and did not
feel guilty of an impropriety, but she said that this sort of thing was a
national reproach. If it were merely rustic lovers, she should not care
so much; but you saw people who ought to know better, well-dressed,
stylish people, flaunting their devotion in the face of the world, and
going to sleep on each other's shoulders on every railroad train. It was
outrageous, it was scandalous, it was really infamous. Before she would
allow herself to do such a thing she would--well, she hardly knew what
she would not do; she would have a divorce, at any rate. She wondered
that Basil could laugh at it; and he would make her hate him if he kept
on.

From the seat behind their own they were now made listeners to the
history of a ten weeks' typhoid fever, from the moment when the narrator
noticed that he had not felt very well for a day or two back, and all at
once a kind of shiver took him, till he lay fourteen days perfectly
insensible, and could eat nothing but a little pounded ice--and his
wife--a small woman, too--used to lift him back and forth between the bed
and sofa like a feather, and the neighbors did not know half the time
whether he was dead or alive. This history, from which not the smallest
particular or the least significant symptom of the case was omitted,
occupied an hour in recital, and was told, as it seemed, for the
entertainment of one who had been five minutes before it began a stranger
to the historian.

At last the train came to a stand, and Isabel wailed forth in accents of
desperation the words, "O, disgusting!" The monotony of the narrative in
the seat behind, fatally combining with the heat of the day, had lulled
her into slumbers from which she awoke at the stopping of the train, to
find her head resting tenderly upon her husband's shoulder.

She confronted his merriment with eyes of mournful rebuke; but as she
could not find him, or the harshest construction, in the least to blame,
she was silent.

"Never mind, dear, never mind," he coaxed, "you were really not
responsible. It was fatigue, destiny, the spite of fortune,--whatever you
like. In the case of the others, whom you despise so justly, I dare say
it is sheer, disgraceful affection. But see that ravishing placard,
swinging from the roof: 'This train stops twenty minutes for dinner at
Utica.' In a few minutes more we shall be at Utica. If they have anything
edible there, it shall never contract my powers. I could dine at the
Albany station, even."

In a little while they found themselves in an airy, comfortable
dining-room, eating a dinner, which it seemed to them France in the flush
of her prosperity need not have blushed to serve; for if it wanted a
little in the last graces of art, it redeemed itself in abundance,
variety, and wholesomeness. At the elbow of every famishing passenger
stood a beneficent coal-black glossy fairy, in a white linen apron and
jacket, serving him with that alacrity and kindliness and grace which
make the negro waiter the master, not the slave of his calling, which
disenthrall it of servility, and constitute him your eager host, not your
menial, for the moment. From table to table passed a calming influence in
the person of the proprietor, who, as he took his richly earned money,
checked the rising fears of the guests by repeated proclamations that
there was plenty of time, and that he would give them due warning before
the train started. Those who had flocked out of the cars, to prey with
beak and claw, as the vulture-like fashion is, upon everything in reach,
remained to eat like Christians; and even a poor, scantily-Englished
Frenchman, who wasted half his time in trying to ask how long the cars
stopped and in looking at his watch, made a good dinner in spite of
himself.

"O Basil, Basil!" cried Isabel, when the train was again in motion, "have
we really dined once more? It seems too good to be true. Cleanliness,
plenty, wholesomeness, civility! Yes, as you say, they cannot be civil
where they are not just; honesty and courtesy go together; and wherever
they give you outrageous things to eat, they add indigestible insults.
Basil, dear, don't be jealous; I shall never meet him again; but I'm in
love with that black waiter at our table. I never saw such perfect
manners, such a winning and affectionate politeness. He made me feel that
every mouthful I ate was a personal favor to him. What a complete
gentleman. There ought never to be a white waiter. None but negroes are
able to render their service a pleasure and distinction to you."

So they prattled on, doing, in their eagerness to be satisfied, a homage
perhaps beyond its desert to the good dinner and the decent service of
it. But here they erred in the right direction, and I find nothing more
admirable in their behavior throughout a wedding journey which certainly
had its trials, than their willingness to make the very heat of whatever
would suffer itself to be made anything at all of. They celebrated its
pleasures with magnanimous excess, they passed over its griefs with a
wise forbearance. That which they found the most difficult of management
was the want of incident for the most part of the time; and I who write
their history might also sink under it, but that I am supported by the
fact that it is so typical, in this respect. I even imagine that ideal
reader for whom one writes as yawning over these barren details with the
life-like weariness of an actual travelling companion of theirs. Their
own silence often sufficed my wedded lovers, or then, when there was
absolutely nothing to engage them, they fell back upon the story of their
love, which they were never tired of hearing as they severally knew it.
Let it not be a reproach to human nature or to me if I say that there was
something in the comfort of having well dined which now touched the
springs of sentiment with magical effect, and that they had never so
rejoiced in these tender reminiscences.

They had planned to stop over at Rochester till the morrow, that they
might arrive at Niagara by daylight, and at Utica they had suddenly
resolved to make the rest of the day's journey in a drawing-room car. The
change gave them an added reason for content; and they realized how much
they had previously sacrificed to the idea of travelling in the most
American manner, without achieving it after all, for this seemed a touch
of Americanism beyond the old-fashioned car. They reclined in luxury upon
the easy-cushioned, revolving chairs; they surveyed with infinite
satisfaction the elegance of the flying-parlor in which they sat, or
turned their contented regard through the broad plate-glass windows upon
the landscape without. They said that none but Americans or enchanted
princes in the "Arabian Nights" ever travelled in such state; and when
the stewards of the car came round successively with tropical fruits,
ice-creams, and claret-punches, they felt a heightened assurance that
they were either enchanted princes--or Americans. There were more ladies
and more fashion than in the other cars; and prettily dressed children
played about on the carpet; but the general appearance of the passengers
hardly suggested greater wealth than elsewhere; and they were plainly in
that car because they were of the American race, which finds nothing too
good for it that its money can buy.




V. THE ENCHANTED CITY, AND BEYOND.

They knew none of the hotels in Rochester, and they had chosen a certain
one in reliance upon their handbook. When they named it, there stepped
forth a porter of an incredibly cordial and pleasant countenance, who
took their travelling-bags, and led them to the omnibus. As they were his
only passengers, the porter got inside with them, and seeing their
interest in the streets through which they rode, he descanted in a strain
of cheerful pride upon the city's prosperity and character, and gave the
names of the people who lived in the finer houses, just as if it had been
an Old-World town, and he some eager historian expecting reward for his
comment upon it. He cast quite a glamour over Rochester, so that in
passing a body of water, bordered by houses, and overlooked by odd
balconies and galleries, and crossed in the distance by a bridge upon
which other houses were built, they boldly declared, being at their wit's
end for a comparison, and taken with the unhoped-for picturesqueness,
that it put them in mind of Verona. Thus they reached their hotel in
almost a spirit of foreign travel, and very willing to verify the
pleasant porter's assurance that they would like it, for everybody liked
it; and it was with a sudden sinking of the heart that Basil beheld
presiding over the register the conventional American hotel clerk. He was
young, he had a neat mustache and well-brushed hair; jeweled studs
sparkled in his shirt-front, and rings on his white hands; a gentle
disdain of the travelling public breathed from his person in the mystical
odors of Ihlang ihlang. He did not lift his haughty head to look at the
wayfarer who meekly wrote his name in the register; he did not answer him
when he begged for a cool room; he turned to the board on which the keys
hung, and, plucking one from it, slid it towards Basil on the marble
counter, touched a bell for a call-boy, whistled a bar of Offenbach, and
as he wrote the number of the room against Basil's name, said to a friend
lounging near him, as if resuming a conversation, "Well, she's a mighty
pooty gul, any way, Chawley!"

When I reflect that this was a type of the hotel clerk throughout the
United States, that behind unnumbered registers at this moment he is
snubbing travellers into the dust, and that they are suffering and
perpetuating him, I am lost in wonder at the national meekness. Not that
I am one to refuse the humble pie his jeweled fingers offer me. Abjectly
I take my key, and creep off up stairs after the call-boy, and try to
give myself the genteel air of one who has not been stepped upon. But I
think homicidal things all the same, and I rejoice that in the safety of
print I can cry out against the despot, whom I have not the presence to
defy. "You vulgar and cruel little soul," I say, and I imagine myself
breathing the words to his teeth, "why do you treat a weary stranger with
this ignominy? I am to pay well for what I get, and I shall not complain
of that. But look at me, and own my humanity; confess by some civil
action, by some decent phrase, that I have rights and that they shall be
respected. Answer my proper questions; respond to my fair demands. Do not
slide my key at me; do not deny me the poor politeness of a nod as you
give it in my hand. I am not your equal; few men are; but I shall not
presume upon your clemency. Come, I also am human!"

Basil found that, for his sin in asking for a cool room, the clerk had
given them a chamber into which the sun had been shining the whole
afternoon; but when his luggage had been put in it seemed useless to
protest, and like a true American, like you, like me, he shrank from
asserting himself. When the sun went down it would be cool enough; and
they turned their thoughts to supper, not venturing to hope that, as it
proved, the handsome clerk was the sole blemish of the house.

Isabel viewed with innocent surprise the evidences of luxury afforded by
all the appointments of a hotel so far west of Boston, and they both
began to feel that natural ease and superiority which an inn always
inspires in its guests, and which our great hotels, far from impairing,
enhance in flattering degree; in fact, the clerk once forgotten, I
protest, for my own part, I am never more conscious of my merits and
riches in any other place. One has there the romance of being a stranger
and a mystery to every one else, and lives in the alluring possibility of
not being found out a most ordinary person.

They were so late in coming to the supper-room, that they found
themselves alone in it. At the door they had a bow from the head-waiter,
who ran before them and drew out chairs for them at a table, and signaled
waiters to serve them, first laying before them with a gracious flourish
the bill of fare.

A force of servants flocked about them, as if to contest the honor of
ordering their supper; one set upon the table a heaping vase of
strawberries, another flanked it with flagons of cream, a third
accompanied it with Gates of varied flavor and device; a fourth
obsequiously smoothed the table-cloth; a fifth, the youngest of the five,
with folded arms stood by and admired the satisfaction the rest were
giving. When these had been dispatched for steak, for broiled white-fish
of the lakes,--noblest and delicatest of the fish that swim,--for broiled
chicken, for fried potatoes, for mums, for whatever the lawless fancy,
and ravening appetites of the wayfarers could suggest, this fifth waiter
remained to tempt them to further excess, and vainly proposed some kind
of eggs,--fried eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, or
omelette.

"O, you're sure, dearest, that this isn't a vision of fairy-land, which
will vanish presently, and leave us empty and forlorn?" plaintively
murmured Isabel, as the menial train reappeared, bearing the supper they
had ordered and set it smoking down.

Suddenly a look of apprehension dawned upon her face, and she let fall
her knife and fork. "You don't think, Basil," she faltered, "that they
could have found out we're a bridal party, and that they're serving us so
magnificently because--because--O, I shall be miserable every moment
we're here!" she concluded desperately.

She looked, indeed, extremely wretched for a woman with so much broiled
white-fish on her plate, and such a banquet array about her; and her
husband made haste to reassure her. "You're still demoralized, Isabel, by
our sufferings at the Albany depot, and you exaggerate the blessings we
enjoy, though I should be sorry to undervalue them. I suspect it's the
custom to use people well at this hotel; or if we are singled out for
uncommon favor, I think: I can explain the cause. It has been discovered
by the register that we are from Boston, and we are merely meeting the
reverence, affection, and homage which the name everywhere commands!

"It 's our fortune to represent for the time being the intellectual and
moral virtue of Boston. This supper is not a tribute to you as a bride,
but as a Bostonian."

It was a cheap kind of raillery, to be sure, but it served. It kindled
the local pride of Isabel to self-defense, and in the distraction of the
effort she forgot her fears; she returned with renewed appetite to the
supper, and in its excellence they both let fall their dispute,--which
ended, of course, in Basil's abject confession that Boston was the best
place in the world, and nothing but banishment could make him live
elsewhere,--and gave themselves up, as usual, to the delight of being
just what and where they were. At last, the natural course brought them
to the strawberries, and when the fifth waiter approached from the corner
of the table at which he stood, to place the vase near them, he did not
retire at once, but presently asked if they were from the West.

Isabel smiled, and Basil answered that they were from the East.

He faltered at this, as if doubtful of the result if he went further, but
took heart, then, and asked, "Don't you think this is a pretty nice
hotel"--hastily adding as a concession of the probable existence of much
finer things at the East--"for a small hotel?"

They imagined this waiter as new to his station in life, as perhaps just
risen to it from some country tavern, and unable to repress his
exultation in what seemed their sympathetic presence. They were charmed
to have invited his guileless confidence, to have evoked possibly all the
simple poetry of his soul; it was what might have happened in Italy, only
there so much naivete would have meant money; they looked at each other
with rapture and Basil answered warmly while the waiter flushed as at a
personal compliment: "Yes, it 's a nice hotel; one of the best I ever
saw, East or West, in Europe or America."

They rose and left the room, and were bowed out by the head-waiter.

"How perfectly idyllic!" cried Isabel. "Is this Rochester, New York, or
is it some vale of Arcady? Let's go out and see."

They walked out into the moonlit city, up and down streets that seemed
very stately and fine, amidst a glitter of shop-window lights; and then,
Less of their own motion than of mere error, they quitted the business
quarter, and found themselves in a quiet avenue of handsome
residences,--the Beacon Street of Rochester, whatever it was called. They
said it was a night and a place for lovers, for none but lovers, for
lovers newly plighted, and they made believe to bemoan themselves that,
hold each other dear as they would, the exaltation, the thrill, the glory
of their younger love was gone. Some of the houses had gardened spaces
about them, from which stole, like breaths of sweetest and saddest
regret, the perfume of midsummer flowers,--the despair of the rose for
the bud. As they passed a certain house, a song fluttered out of the open
window and ceased, the piano warbled at the final rush of fingers over
its chords, and they saw her with her fingers resting lightly on the
keys, and her graceful head lifted to look into his; they saw him with
his arm yet stretched across to the leaves of music he had been turning,
and his face lowered to meet her gaze.

"Ah, Basil, I wish it was we, there!"

And if they knew that we, on our wedding journey, stood outside, would
not they wish it was they, here?"

"I suppose so, dearest, and yet, once-upon-a-time was sweet. Pass on; and
let us see what charm we shall find next in this enchanted city."

"Yes, it is an enchanted city to us," mused Basil, aloud, as they
wandered on, "and all strange cities are enchanted. What is Rochester to
the Rochesterese? A place of a hundred thousand people, as we read in our
guide, an immense flour interest, a great railroad entrepot, an unrivaled
nursery trade, a university, two commercial colleges, three collegiate
institutes, eight or ten newspapers, and a free library. I dare say any
respectable resident would laugh at us sentimentalizing over his city.
But Rochester is for us, who don't know it at all, a city of any time or
country, moonlit, filled with lovers hovering over piano-fortes, of a
palatial hotel with pastoral waiters and porter,--a city of handsome
streets wrapt in beautiful quiet and dreaming of the golden age. The only
definite association with it in our minds is the tragically romantic
thought that here Sam Patch met his fate."

"And who in the world was Sam Patch?

"Isabel, your ignorance of all that an American woman should be proud of
distresses me. Have you really, then, never heard of the man who invented
the saying, 'Some things can be done as well as others,' and proved it by
jumping over Niagara Falls twice? Spurred on by this belief, he attempted
the leap of the Genesee Falls. The leap was easy enough, but the coming
up again was another matter. He failed in that. It was the one thing that
could not be done as well as others."

"Dreadful!" said Isabel, with the cheerfullest satisfaction. "But what
has all that to do with Rochester?"

"Now, my dear, You don't mean to say you didn't know that the Genesee
Falls were at Rochester? Upon my word, I'm ashamed. Why, we're within ten
minutes' walk of them now."

"Then walk to them at once!" cried Isabel, wholly unabashed, and in fact
unable to see what he had to be ashamed of. "Actually, I believe you
would have allowed me to leave Rochester without telling me the falls
were here, if you hadn't happened to think of Sam Patch."

Saying this, she persuaded herself that a chief object of their journey
had been to visit the scene of Sam Patch's fatal exploit, and she drew
Basil with a nervous swiftness in the direction of the railroad station,
beyond which he said were the falls. Presently, after threading their way
among a multitude of locomotives, with and without trains attached, that
backed and advanced, or stood still, hissing impatiently on every side,
they passed through the station to a broad planking above the river on
the other side, and thence, after encounter of more locomotives, they
found, by dint of much asking, a street winding up the hill-side to the
left, and leading to the German Bierhaus that gives access to the best
view of the cataract.

The Americans have characteristically bordered the river with
manufactures, making every drop work its passage to the brink; while the
Germans have as characteristically made use of the beauty left over, and
have built a Bierhaus where they may regale both soul and sense in the
presence of the cataract. Our travellers might, in another mood and
place, have thought it droll to arrive at that sublime spectacle through
a Bierhaus, but in this enchanted city it seemed to have a peculiar
fitness.

A narrow corridor gave into a wide festival space occupied by many
tables, each of which was surrounded by a group of clamorous Germans of
either sex and every age, with tall beakers of beaded lager before them,
and slim flasks of Rhenish; overhead flamed the gas in globes of
varicolored glass; the walls were painted like those of such haunts in
the fatherland; and the wedding-journeyers were fair to linger on their
way, to dwell upon that scene of honest enjoyment, to inhale the mingling
odors of beer and of pipes, and of the pungent cheeses in which the
children of the fatherland delight. Amidst the inspiriting clash of
plates and glasses, the rattle of knives and forks, and the hoarse rush
of gutturals, they could catch the words Franzosen, Kaiser, Konig, and
Schlacht, and they knew that festive company to be exulting in the first
German triumphs of the war, which were then the day's news; they saw
fists shaken at noses in fierce exchange of joy, arms tossed abroad in
wild congratulation, and health-pouring goblets of beer lifted in air.
Then they stepped into the moonlight again, and heard only the solemn
organ stops of the cataract. Through garden-ground they were led by the
little maid, their guide, to a small pavilion that stood on the edge of
the precipitous shore, and commanded a perfect view of the falls. As they
entered this pavilion, a youth and maiden, clearly lovers, passed out,
and they were left alone with that sublime presence. Something of
definiteness was to be desired in the spectacle, but there was ample
compensation in the mystery with which the broad effulgence and the dense
unluminous shadows of the moonshine invested it. The light touched all
the tops of the rapids, that seemed to writhe sway from the brink of the
cataract, and then desperately breaking and perishing to fall, the white
disembodied ghosts of rapids, down to the bottom of the vast and deep
ravine through which the river rushed away. Now the waters seemed to mass
themselves a hundred feet high in a wall of snowy compactness, now to
disperse into their multitudinous particles and hang like some vaporous
cloud from the cliff. Every moment renewed the vision of beauty in some
rare and fantastic shape; and its loveliness isolated it, in spite of the
great town on the other shore, the station with its bridge and its
trains, the mills that supplied their feeble little needs from the
cataract's strength.

At last Basil pointed out the table-rock in the middle of the fall, from
which Sam Patch had made his fatal leap; but Isabel refused to admit that
tragical figure to the honors of her emotions. "I don't care for him!"
she said fiercely. "Patch! What a name to be linked in our thoughts with
this superb cataract."

"Well, Isabel, I think you are very unjust. It's as good a name as
Leander, to my thinking, and it was immortalized in support of a great
idea, the feasibility of all things; while Leander's has come down to us
as that of the weak victim of a passion. We shall never have a poetry of
our own till we get over this absurd reluctance from facts, till we make
the ideal embrace and include the real, till we consent to face the music
in our simple common names, and put Smith into a lyric and Jones into a
tragedy. The Germans are braver than we, and in them you find facts and
dreams continually blended and confronted. Here is a fortunate
illustration. The people we met coming out of this pavilion were lovers,
and they had been here sentimentalizing on this superb cataract, as you
call it, with which my heroic Patch is not worthy to be named. No doubt
they had been quoting Uhland or some other of their romantic poets,
perhaps singing some of their tender German love-songs,--the tenderest,
unearthliest love-songs in the world. At the same time they did not
disdain the matter-of-fact corporeity in which their sentiment was
enshrined; they fed it heartily and abundantly with the banquet whose
relics we see here."

On a table before them stood a pair of beer-glasses, in the bottoms of
which lurked scarce the foam of the generous liquor lately brimming them;
some shreds of sausage, some rinds of Swiss cheese, bits of cold ham,
crusts of bread, and the ashes of a pipe.

Isabel shuddered at the spectacle, but made no comment, and Basil went
on: "Do you suppose they scorned the idea of Sam Patch as they gazed upon
the falls? On the contrary, I've no doubt that he recalled to her the
ballad which a poet of their language made about him. It used to go the
rounds of the German newspapers, and I translated it, a long while ago,
when I thought that I too was in 'Arkadien geboren'.

       'In the Bierhauagarten I linger
        By the Falls of the Geneses:
        From the Table-Rock in the middle
        Leaps a figure bold and free.

        Aloof in the air it rises
        O'er the rush, the plunge, the death;
        On the thronging banks of the river
        There is neither pulse nor breath.

        Forever it hovers and poises
        Aloof in the moonlit air;
        As light as mist from the rapids,
        As heavy as nightmare.

        In anguish I cry to the people,
        The long-since vanished hosts;
        I see them stretch forth in answer,
        The helpless hands of ghosts.'"

"I once met the poet who wrote this. He drank too much beer."

"I don't see that he got in the name of Sam Patch, after all," said
Isabel.

"O yes; he did; but I had to yield to our taste, and where he said, I
'Springt der Sam Patsch kuhn and frei',' I made it 'Leaps a figure bold
and free.'"

As they passed through the house on their way out, they saw the youth and
maiden they had met at the pavilion door. They were seated at a table;
two glasses of beer towered before them; on their plates were odorous
crumbs of Limburger cheese. They both wore a pensive air.

The next morning the illusion that had wrapt the whole earth was gone
with the moonlight. By nine o'clock, when the wedding-journeyers resumed
their way toward Niagara, the heat had already set in with the effect of
ordinary midsummer's heat at high noon. The car into which they got had
come the past night from Albany, and had an air of almost conscious
shabbiness, griminess, and over-use. The seats were covered with cinders,
which also crackled under foot. Dust was on everything, especially the
persons of the crumpled and weary passengers of overnight. Those who came
aboard at Rochester failed to lighten the spiritual gloom, and presently
they sank into the common bodily wretchedness. The train was somewhat
belated, and as it drew nearer Buffalo they knew the conductor to have
abandoned himself to that blackest of the arts, making time. The long
irregular jolt of the ordinary progress was reduced to an incessant
shudder and a quick lateral motion. The air within the cars was deadly;
if a window was raised, a storm of dust and cinders blew in and quick
gusts caught away the breath. So they sat with closed windows, sweltering
and stifling, and all the faces on which a lively horror was not painted
were dull and damp with apathetic misery.

The incidents were in harmony with the abject physical tone of the
company. There was a quarrel between a thin, shrill-voiced, highly
dressed, much-bedizened Jewess, on the one side, and a fat, greedy old
woman, half asleep, and a boy with large pink transparent ears that stood
out from his head like the handles of a jar, on the other side, about a
seat which the Hebrew wanted, and which the others had kept filled with
packages on the pretense that it was engaged. It was a loud and fierce
quarrel enough, but it won no sort of favor; and when the Jewess had
given a final opinion that the greedy old woman was no lady, and the boy,
who disputed in an ironical temper, replied, "Highly complimentary, I
must say," there was no sign of relief or other acknowledgment in any of
the spectators, that there had been a quarrel.

There was a little more interest taken in the misfortune of an old
purblind German and his son, who were found by the conductor to be a few
hundred miles out of the direct course to their destination, and were
with some trouble and the aid of an Americanized fellow-countryman made
aware of the fact. The old man then fell back in the prevailing apathy,
and the child naturally cared nothing. By and by came the unsparing
train-boy on his rounds, bestrewing the passengers successively with
papers, magazines, fine-cut tobacco, and packages of candy. He gave the
old man a package of candy, and passed on. The German took it as the
bounty of the American people, oddly manifested in a situation where he
could otherwise have had little proof of their care. He opened it and was
sharing it with his son when the train-boy came back, and metallically,
like a part of the machinery, demanded, "Ten cents!" The German stared
helplessly, and the boy repeated, "Ten cents! ten cents!" with tiresome
patience, while the other passengers smiled. When it had passed through
the alien's head that he was to pay for this national gift and he took
with his tremulous fingers from the recesses of his pocket-book a
ten-cent note and handed it to his tormentor, some of the people laughed.
Among the rest, Basil and Isabel laughed, and then looked at each other
with eyes of mutual reproach.

"Well, upon my word, my dear," he said, "I think we've fallen pretty low.
I've never felt such a poor, shabby ruffian before. Good heavens! To
think of our immortal souls being moved to mirth by such a thing as
this,--so stupid, so barren of all reason of laughter. And then the
cruelty of it! What ferocious imbeciles we are! Whom have I married? A
woman with neither heart nor brain!"

"O Basil, dear, pay him back the money-do."

"I can't. That's the worst of it. He 's money enough, and might justly
take offense. What breaks my heart is that we could have the depravity to
smile at the mistake of a friendless stranger, who supposed he had at
last met with an act of pure kindness. It's a thing to weep over. Look at
these grinning wretches! What a fiendish effect their smiles have,
through their cinders and sweat! O, it's the terrible weather; the
despotism of the dust and heat; the wickedness of the infernal air. What
a squalid and loathsome company!"

At Buffalo, where they arrived late, they found themselves with several
hours' time on their hands before the train started for Niagara, and in
the first moments of tedium, Isabel forgot herself into saying, "Don't
you think we'd have done better to go directly from Rochester to the
Falls, instead of coming this way?"

"Why certainly. I didn't propose coming this way."

"I know it, dear. I was only asking," said Isabel, meekly. "But I should
think you'd have generosity enough to take a little of the blame, when I
wanted to come out of a romantic feeling for you."

This romantic feeling referred to the fact that, many years before, when
Basil made his first visit to Niagara, he had approached from the west by
way of Buffalo; and Isabel, who tenderly begrudged his having existed
before she knew him, and longed to ally herself retrospectively with his
past, was resolved to draw near the great cataract by no other route.

She fetched a little sigh which might mean the weather or his
hard-heartedness. The sigh touched him, and he suggested a carriage-ride
through the city; she assented with eagerness, for it was what she had
been thinking of. She had never seen a lakeside city before, and she was
taken by surprise. "If ever we leave Boston," she said, "we will not live
at Rochester, as I thought last night; we'll come to Buffalo." She found
that the place had all the picturesqueness of a sea-port, without the
ugliness that attends the rising and falling tides. A delicious freshness
breathed from the lake, which lying so smooth, faded into the sky at
last, with no line between sharper than that which divides drowsing from
dreaming. But the color was the most charming thing, that delicate blue
of the lake, without the depth of the sea-blue, but infinitely softer and
lovelier. The nearer expanses rippled with dainty waves, silver and
lucent; the further levels made, with the sun-dimmed summer sky, a vague
horizon of turquoise and amethyst, lit by the white sails of ships, and
stained by the smoke of steamers.

"Take me away now," said Isabel, when her eyes had feasted upon all this,
"and don't let me see another thing till I get to Niagara. Nothing less
sublime is worthy the eyes that have beheld such beauty."

However, on the way to Niagara she consented to glimpses of the river
which carries the waters of the lake for their mighty plunge, and which
shows itself very nobly from time to time as you draw toward the
cataract, with wooded or cultivated islands, and rich farms along its low
shores, and at last flashes upon the eye the shining white of the
rapids,--a hint, no more, of the splendor and awfulness to be revealed.




VI. NIAGARA.

As the train stopped, Isabel's heart beat with a child-like exultation,
as I believe every one's heart must who is worthy to arrive at Niagara.
She had been trying to fancy, from time to time, that she heard the roar
of the cataract, and now, when she alighted from the car, she was sure
she should have heard it but for the vulgar little noises that attend the
arrival of trains at Niagara as well as everywhere else. "Never mind,
dearest; you shall be stunned with it before you leave," promised her
husband; and, not wholly disconsolate, she rode through the quaint
streets of the village, where it remains a question whether the lowliness
of the shops and private houses makes the hotels look so vast, or the
bigness of the hotels dwarfs all the other buildings. The immense
caravansaries swelling up from among the little bazaars (where they sell
feather fans, and miniature bark canoes, and jars and vases and bracelets
and brooches carved out of the local rocks), made our friends with their
trunks very conscious of their disproportion to the accommodations of the
smallest. They were the sole occupants of the omnibus, and they were
embarrassed to be received at their hotel with a burst of minstrelsy from
a whole band of music. Isabel felt that a single stringed instrument of
some timid note would have been enough; and Basil was going to express
his own modest preference for a jew's-harp, when the music ceased with a
sudden clash of the cymbals. But the next moment it burst out with fresh
sweetness, and in alighting they perceived that another omnibus had
turned the corner and was drawing up to the pillared portico of the
hotel. A small family dismounted, and the feet of the last had hardly
touched the pavement when the music again ended as abruptly as those
flourishes of trumpets that usher player-kings upon the stage. Isabel
could not help laughing at this melodious parsimony. "I hope they don't
let on the cataract and shut it off in this frugal style; do they,
Basil?" she asked, and passed jesting through a pomp of unoccupied
porters and tallboys. Apparently there were not many people stopping at
this hotel, or else they were all out looking at the Falls or confined to
their rooms. However, our travellers took in the almost weird emptiness
of the place with their usual gratitude to fortune for all queerness in
life, and followed to the pleasant quarters assigned them. There was time
before supper for a glance at the cataract, and after a brief toilet they
sallied out again upon the holiday street, with its parade of gay little
shops, and thence passed into the grove beside the Falls, enjoying at
every instant their feeling of arrival at a sublime destination.

In this sense Niagara deserves almost to rank with Rome, the metropolis
of history and religion; with Venice, the chief city of sentiment and
fantasy. In either you are at once made at home by a perception of its
greatness, in which there is no quality of aggression, as there always
seems to be in minor places as well as in minor men, and you gratefully
accept its sublimity as a fact in no way contrasting with your own
insignificance.

Our friends were beset of course by many carriage-drivers, whom they
repelled with the kindly firmness of experienced travel. Isabel even felt
a compassion for these poor fellows who had seen Niagara so much as to
have forgotten that the first time one must see it alone or only with the
next of friendship. She was voluble in her pity of Basil that it was not
as new to him as to her, till between the trees they saw a white cloud of
spray, shot through and through with sunset, rising, rising, and she felt
her voice softly and steadily beaten down by the diapason of the
cataract.

I am not sure but the first emotion on viewing Niagara is that of
familiarity. Ever after, its strangeness increases; but in that earliest
moment when you stand by the side of the American fall, and take in so
much of the whole as your giants can compass, an impression of having
seen it often before is certainly very vivid. This may be an effect of
that grandeur which puts you at your ease in its presence; but it also
undoubtedly results in part from lifelong acquaintance with every variety
of futile picture of the scene. You have its outward form clearly in your
memory; the shores, the rapids, the islands, the curve of the Falls, and
the stout rainbow with one end resting on their top and the other lost in
the mists that rise from the gulf beneath. On the whole I do not account
this sort of familiarity a misfortune. The surprise is none the less a
surprise because it is kept till the last, and the marvel, making itself
finally felt in every nerve, and not at once through a single sense, all
the more fully possesses you. It is as if Niagara reserved her
magnificence, and preferred to win your heart with her beauty; and so
Isabel, who was instinctively prepared for the reverse, suffered a vague
disappointment, for a little instant, as she looked along the verge from
the water that caressed the shore at her feet before it flung itself
down, to the wooded point that divides the American from the Canadian
Fall, beyond which showed dimly through its veil of golden and silver
mists the emerald wall of the great Horse-Shoe. "How still it is!" she
said, amidst the roar that shook the ground under their feet and made the
leaves tremble overhead, and "How lonesome!" amidst the people lounging
and sauntering about in every direction among the trees. In fact that
prodigious presence does make a solitude and silence round every spirit
worthy to perceive it, and it gives a kind of dignity to all its
belongings, so that the rocks and pebbles in the water's edge, and the
weeds and grasses that nod above it, have a value far beyond that of such
common things elsewhere. In all the aspects of Niagara there seems a
grave simplicity, which is perhaps a reflection of the spectator's soul
for once utterly dismantled of affectation and convention. In the vulgar
reaction from this, you are of course as trivial, if you like, at
Niagara, as anywhere.

Slowly Isabel became aware that the sacred grove beside the fall was
profaned by some very common presences indeed, that tossed bits of stone
and sticks into the consecrated waters, and struggled for handkerchiefs
and fans, and here and there put their arms about each other's waists,
and made a show of laughing and joking. They were a picnic party of rude,
silly folks of the neighborhood, and she stood pondering them in sad
wonder if anything could be worse, when she heard a voice saying to
Basil, "Take you next, Sir? Plenty of light yet, and the wind's down the
river, so the spray won't interfere. Make a capital picture of you; falls
in the background." It was the local photographer urging them to succeed
the young couple he had just posed at the brink: the gentleman was
sitting down, with his legs crossed and his hands elegantly disposed; the
lady was standing at his side, with one arm thrown lightly across his
shoulder, while with the other hand she thrust his cane into the ground;
you could see it was going to be a splendid photograph.

Basil thanked the artist, and Isabel said, trusting as usual to his
sympathy for perception of her train of thought, "Well, I'll never try to
be high-strung again. But shouldn't you have thought, dearest, that I
might expect to be high-strung with success at Niagara if anywhere?" She
passively followed him into the long, queer, downward-sloping edifice on
the border of the grove, unflinchingly mounted the car that stood ready,
and descended the incline. Emerging into the light again, she found
herself at the foot of the fall by whose top she had just stood. At first
she was glad there were other people down there, as if she and Basil were
not enough to bear it alone, and she could almost have spoken to the two
hopelessly pretty brides, with parasols and impertinent little boots,
whom their attendant husbands were helping over the sharp and slippery
rocks, so bare beyond the spray, so green and mossy within the fall of
mist. But in another breath she forgot them; as she looked on that
dizzied sea, hurling itself from the high summit in huge white knots, and
breaks and masses, and plunging into the gulf beside her, while it sent
continually up a strong voice of lamentation, and crawled away in vast
eddies, with somehow a look of human terror, bewilderment, and pain. It
was bathed in snowy vapor to its crest, but now and then heavy currents
of air drew this aside, and they saw the outline of the Falls almost as
far as the Canada side. They remembered afterwards how they were able to
make use of but one sense at a time, and how when they strove to take in
the forms of the descending flood, they ceased to hear it; but as soon as
they released their eyes from this service, every fibre in them vibrated
to the sound, and the spectacle dissolved away in it. They were aware,
too, of a strange capriciousness in their senses, and of a tendency of
each to palter with the things perceived. The eye could no longer take
truthful note of quality, and now beheld the tumbling deluge as a Gothic
wall of careen marble, white, motionless, and now as a fall of lightest
snow, with movement in all its atoms, and scarce so much cohesion as
would hold them together; and again they could not discern if this course
were from above or from beneath, whether the water rose from the abyss or
dropped from the height. The ear could give the brain no assurance of the
sound that felled it, and whether it were great or little; the prevailing
softness of the cataract's tone seemed so much opposed to ideas of
prodigious force or of prodigious volume. It was only when the sight, so
idle in its own behalf, came to the aid of the other sense, and showed
them the mute movement of each other's lips, that they dimly appreciated
the depth of sound that involved them.

"I think you might have been high-strung there, for a second or two,"
said Basil, when, ascending the incline; he could make himself heard. "We
will try the bridge next."

Over the river, so still with its oily eddies and delicate wreaths of
foam, just below the Falls they have in late years woven a web of wire
high in air, and hung a bridge from precipice to precipice. Of all the
bridges made with hands it seems the lightest, most ethereal; it is
ideally graceful, and droops from its slight towers like a garland. It is
worthy to command, as it does, the whole grandeur of Niagara, and to show
the traveller the vast spectacle, from the beginning of the American Fall
to the farthest limit of the Horse-Shoe, with all the awful pomp of the
rapids, the solemn darkness of the wooded islands, the mystery of the
vaporous gulf, the indomitable wildness of the shores, as far as the eye
can reach up or down the fatal stream.

To this bridge our friends now repaired, by a path that led through
another of those groves which keep the village back from the shores of
the river on the American side, and greatly help the sight-seer's
pleasure in the place. The exquisite structure, which sways so
tremulously from its towers, and seems to lay so slight a hold on earth
where its cables sink into the ground, is to other bridges what the blood
horse is to the common breed of roadsters; ant now they felt its
sensitive nerves quiver under them and sympathetically through them as
they advanced farther and farther toward the centre. Perhaps their
sympathy with the bridge's trepidation was too great for unalloyed
delight, and yet the thrill was a glorious one, to be known only there;
and afterwards, at least, they would not have had their airy path seem
more secure.

The last hues of sunset lingered in the mists that sprung from the base
of the Falls with a mournful, tremulous grace, and a movement weird as
the play of the northern lights. They were touched with the most delicate
purples and crimsons, that darkened to deep red, and then faded from them
at a second look, and they flew upward, swiftly upward, like troops of
pale, transparent ghosts; while a perfectly clear radiance, better than
any other for local color, dwelt upon the scene. Far under the bridge the
river smoothly swam, the undercurrents forever unfolding themselves upon
the surface with a vast rose-like evolution, edged all round with faint
lines of white, where the air that filled the water freed itself in foam.
What had been clear green on the face of the cataract was here more like
rich verd-antique, and had a look of firmness almost like that of the
stone itself. So it showed beneath the bridge, and down the river till
the curving shores hid it. These, springing abruptly prom the water's
brink, and shagged with pine and cedar, displayed the tender verdure of
grass and bushes intermingled with the dark evergreens that comb from
ledge to ledge, till they point their speary tops above the crest of
bluffs. In front, where tumbled rocks and expanses of caked clay varied
the gloomier and gayer green, sprung those spectral mists; and through
them loomed out, in its manifold majesty, Niagara, with the seemingly
immovable white Gothic screen of the American Fall, and the green massive
curve of the Horseshoe, solid and simple and calm as an Egyptian wall;
while behind this, with their white and black expanses broken by dark
foliaged little isles, the steep Canadian rapids billowed down between
their heavily wooded shores.

The wedding-journeyers hung, they knew not how long, in rapture on the
sight; and then, looking back from the shore to the spot where they had
stood, they felt relieved that unreality should possess itself of all,
and that the bridge should swing there in mid-air like a filmy web,
scarce more passable than the rainbow that flings its arch above the
mists.

On the portico of the hotel they found half a score of gentlemen smoking,
and creating together that collective silence which passes for sociality
on our continent. Some carriages stood before the door, and within,
around the base of a pillar, sat a circle of idle call-boys. There were a
few trunks heaped together in one place, with a porter standing guard
over them; a solitary guest was buying a cigar at the newspaper stand in
one corner; another friendless creature was writing a letter in the
reading-room; the clerk, in a seersucker coat and a lavish shirt-bosom,
tried to give the whole an effect of watering-place gayety and bustle, as
he provided a newly arrived guest with a room.

Our pair took in these traits of solitude and repose with indifference.
If the hotel had been thronged with brilliant company, they would have
been no more and no less pleased; and when, after supper, they came into
the grand parlor, and found nothing there but a marble-topped centre.
table, with a silver-plated ice-pitcher and a small company of goblets,
they sat down perfectly content in a secluded window-seat. They were not
seen by the three people who entered soon after, and halted in the centre
of the room.

"Why, Kitty!" said one of the two ladies who must; be in any
travelling-party of three, "this is more inappropriate to your gorgeous
array than the supper-room, even."

She who was called Kitty was armed, as for social conquest, in some kind
of airy evening-dress, and was looking round with bewilderment upon that
forlorn waste of carpeting and upholstery. She owned, with a smile, that
she had not seen so much of the world yet as she had been promised; but
she liked Niagara very much, and perhaps they should find the world at
breakfast.

"No," said the other lady, who was as unquiet as Kitty was calm, and who
seemed resolved to make the most of the worst, "it isn't probable that
the hotel will fill up overnight; and I feel personally responsible for
this state of things. Who would ever have supposed that Niagara would be
so empty? I thought the place was thronged the whole summer long. How do
you account for it, Richard?"

The gentleman looked fatigued, as from a long-continued discussion
elsewhere of the matter in hand, and he said that he had not been trying
to account for it.

"Then you don't care for Kitty's pleasure at all, and you don't want her
to enjoy herself. Why don't you take some interest in the matter?"

"Why, if I accounted for the emptiness of Niagara in the most
satisfactory way, it wouldn't add a soul to the floating population.
Under the circumstances I prefer to leave it unexplained."

"Do you think it's because it's such a hot summer? Do you suppose it's
not exactly the season? Didn't you expect there'd be more people? Perhaps
Niagara isn't as fashionable as it used to be."

"It looks something like that."

"Well, what under the sun do you think is the reason?"

"I don't know."

"Perhaps," interposed Kitty, placidly, "most of the visitors go to the
other hotel, now."

"It 's altogether likely," said the other lady, eagerly. "There are just
such caprices."

"Well," said Richard, "I wanted you to go there."

"But you said that you always heard this was the a most fashionable."

"I know it. I didn't want to come here for that reason. But fortune
favors the brave."

"Well, it's too bad! Here we've asked Kitty to come to Niagara with us,
just to give her a little peep into the world, and you've brought us to a
hotel where we're--"

"Monarchs of all we survey," suggested Kitty.

"Yes, and start at the sound of our own," added the other lady,
helplessly.

"Come now, Fanny," said the gentleman, who was but too clearly the
husband of the last speaker. "You know you insisted, against all I could
say or do, upon coming to this house; I implored you to go to the other,
and now you blame me for bringing you here."

"So I do. If you'd let me have my own way without opposition about coming
here, I dare my I should have gone to the other place. But never mind.
Kitty knows whom to blame, I hope. She 's your cousin."

Kitty was sitting with her hands quiescently folded in her lap. She now
rose and said that she did not know anything about the other hotel, and
perhaps it was just as empty as this.

"It can't be. There can't be two hotels so empty," said Fanny. "It don't
stand to reason."

"If you wish Kitty to see the world so much," said the gentleman, "why
don't you take her on to Quebec, with us?"

Kitty had left her seat beside Fanny, and was moving with a listless
content about the parlor.

"I wonder you ask, Richard, when you know she's only come for the night,
and has nothing with her but a few cuffs and collars! I certainly never
heard of anything so absurd before!"

The absurdity of the idea then seemed to cast its charm upon her, for,
after a silence, "I could lend her some things," she said musingly. "But
don't speak of it to-night, please. It's too ridiculous. Kitty!" she
called out, and, as the young lady drew near, she continued, "How would
you like to go to Quebec, with us?"

"O Fanny!" cried Kitty, with rapture; and then, with dismay, "How can I?"

"Why, very well, I think. You've got this dress, and your
travelling-suit; and I can lend you whatever you want. Come!" she added
joyously, "let's go up to your room, and talk it over!"

The two ladies vanished upon this impulse, and the gentleman followed. To
their own relief the guiltless eaves-droppers, who found no moment
favorable for revealing themselves after the comedy began, issued from
their retiracy.

"What a remarkable little lady!" said Basil, eagerly turning to Isabel
for sympathy in his enjoyment of her inconsequence.

"Yes, poor thing!" returned his wife; "it's no light matter to invite a
young lady to take a journey with you, and promise her all sorts of
gayety, and perhaps beaux and flirtations, and then find her on your
hands in a desolation like this. It's dreadful, I think."

Basil stared. "O, certainly," he said. "But what an amusingly illogical
little body!"

"I don't understand what you mean, Basil. It was the only thing that she
could do, to invite the young lady to go on with them. I wonder her
husband had the sense to think of it first. Of course she'll have to lend
her things."

"And you didn't observe anything peculiar in her way of reaching her
conclusions?"

"Peculiar? What do you mean?"

"Why, her blaming her husband for letting her have her own way about the
hotel; and her telling him not to mention his proposal to Kitty, and then
doing it herself, just--after she'd pronounced it absurd and impossible."
He spoke with heat at being forced to make what he thought a needless
explanation.

"O!" said Isabel, after a moment's reflection. "That! Did you think it so
very odd?"

Her husband looked at her with the gravity a man must feel when he begins
to perceive that he has married the whole mystifying world of womankind
in the woman of his choice, and made no answer. But to his own soul he
said: "I supposed I had the pleasure of my wife's acquaintance. It seems
I have been flattering myself."

The next morning they went out as they had planned, for an exploration of
Goat Island, after an early breakfast. As they sauntered through the
village's contrasts of pigmy and colossal in architecture, they
praisefully took in the unalloyed holiday character of the place,
enjoying equally the lounging tourists at the hotel doors, the drivers
and their carriages to let, and the little shops, with nothing but
mementos of Niagara, and Indian beadwork, and other trumpery, to sell.
Shops so useless, they agreed, could not be found outside the Palms
Royale, or the Square of St. Mark, or anywhere else in the world but
here. They felt themselves once more a part of the tide of mere
sight-seeing pleasure-travel, on which they had drifted in other days,
and in an eddy of which their love itself had opened its white blossom,
and lily-like dreamed upon the wave.

They were now also part of the great circle of newly wedded bliss, which,
involving the whole land during the season of bridal-tours, may be said
to show richest and fairest at Niagara, like the costly jewel of a
precious ring. The place is, in fact, almost abandoned to bridal couples,
and any one out of his honey-moon is in some degree an alien there, and
must discern a certain immodesty in him intrusion. Is it for his profane
eyes to look upon all that blushing and trembling joy? A man of any
sensibility must desire to veil his face, and, bowing his excuses to the
collective rapture, take the first train for the wicked outside world to
which he belongs. Everywhere, he sees brides and brides. Three or four
with the benediction still on them, come down in the same car with him;
he hands her travelling-shawl after one as she springs from the omnibus
into her husband's arms; there are two or three walking back and forth
with their new lords upon the porch of the hotel; at supper they are on
every side of him, and he feels himself suffused, as it were, by a
roseate atmosphere of youth and love and hope. At breakfast it is the
same, and then, in his wanderings about the place he constantly meets
them. They are of all manners of beauty, fair and dark, slender and
plump, tall and short; but they are all beautiful with the radiance of
loving and being loved. Now, if ever in their lives, they are charmingly
dressed, and ravishing toilets take the willing eye from the objects of
interest. How high the heels of the pretty boots, how small the tender.
tinted gloves, how electrical the flutter of the snowy skirts! What is
Niagara to these things?

Isabel was not willing to own her bridal sisterhood to these blessed
souls; but she secretly rejoiced in it, even while she joined Basil in
noting their number and smiling at their innocent abandon. She dropped
his arm at encounter of the first couple, and walked carelessly at his
side; she made a solemn vow never to take hold of his watch-chain in
speaking to him; she trusted that she might be preserved from putting her
face very close to his at dinner in studying the bill of fare; getting
out of carriages, she forbade him ever to take her by the waist. All
ascetic resolutions are modified by experiment; but if Isabel did not
rigorously keep these, she is not the less to be praised for having
formed them.

Just before they reached the bridge to Goat Island, they passed a little
group of the Indians still lingering about Niagara, who make the barbaric
wares in which the shops abound, and, like the woods and the wild faces
of the cliffs and precipices, help to keep the cataract remote, and to
invest it with the charm of primeval loneliness. This group were women,
and they sat motionless on the ground, smiling sphinx-like over their
laps full of bead-work, and turning their dark liquid eyes of invitation
upon the passers. They wore bright kirtles, and red shawls fell from
their heads over their plump brown cheeks and down their comfortable
persons. A little girl with them was attired in like gayety of color.
"What is her name?" asked Isabel, paying for a bead pincushion. "Daisy
Smith," said her mother, in distressingly good English. "But her Indian
name?" "She has none," answered the woman, who told Basil that her
village numbered five hundred people, and that they were Protestants.
While they talked they were joined by an Indian, whom the women saluted
musically in their native tongue. This was somewhat consoling; but he
wore trousers and a waistcoat, and it could have been wished that he had
not a silk hat on.

"Still," said Isabel, as they turned away, "I'm glad he hasn't
Lisle-thread gloves, like that chieftain we saw putting his forest queen
on board the train at Oneida. But how shocking that they should be
Christians, and Protestants! It would have been bad enough to have them
Catholics. And that woman said that they were increasing. They ought to
be fading away."

On the bridge, they paused and looked up and down the rapids rushing down
the slope in all their wild variety, with the white crests of breaking
surf, the dark massiveness of heavy-climbing waves, the fleet, smooth
sweep of currents over broad shelves of sunken rock, the dizzy swirl and
suck of whirlpools.

Spell-bound, the journeyers pored upon the deathful course beneath their
feet, gave a shudder to the horror of being cast upon it, and then
hurried over the bridge to the island, in the shadow of whose wildness
they sought refuge from the sight and sound.

There had been rain in the night; the air war full of forest fragrance,
and the low, sweet voice of twittering birds. Presently they came to a
bench set in a corner of the path, and commanding a pleasant vista of
sunlit foliage, with a mere gleam of the foaming river beyond. As they
sat down here loverwise, Basil, as in the early days of their courtship,
began to recite a poem. It was one which had been haunting him since his
first sight of the rapids, one of many that he used to learn by heart in
his youth--the rhyme of some poor newspaper poet, whom the third or
fourth editor copying his verses consigned to oblivion by carelessly
clipping his name from the bottom. It had always lingered in Basil's
memory, rather from the interest of the awful fact it recorded, than from
any merit of its own; and now he recalled it with a distinctness that
surprised him.

                 AVERY.

                  I.
All night long they heard in the houses beside the shore,
Heard, or seemed to hear, through the multitudinous roar,
Out of the hell of the rapids as 'twere a lost soul's cries
Heard and could not believe; and the morning mocked their eyes,
Showing where wildest and fiercest the waters leaped up and ran
Raving round him and past, the visage of a man
Clinging, or seeming to cling, to the trunk of a tree that, caught
Fast in the rocks below, scarce out of the surges raught.
Was it a life, could it be, to yon slender hope that clung
Shrill, above all the tumult the answering terror rang.

                  II.
Under the weltering rapids a boat from the bridge is drowned,
Over the rocks the lines of another are tangled and wound,
And the long, fateful hours of the morning have wasted soon,
As it had been in some blessed trance, and now it is noon.
Hurry, now with the raft! But O, build it strong and stanch,
And to the lines and the treacherous rocks look well as you launch
Over the foamy tops of the waves, and their foam-sprent sides,
Over the hidden reefs, and through the embattled tides,
Onward rushes the raft, with many a lurch and leap,--
Lord! if it strike him loose from the hold he scarce can keep!
No! through all peril unharmed, it reaches him harmless at least,
And to its proven strength he lashes his weakness fast.
Now, for the shore! But steady, steady, my men, and slow;
Taut, now, the quivering lines; now slack; and so, let her go!
Thronging the shores around stands the pitying multitude;
Wan as his own are their looks, and a nightmare seems to brood
Heavy upon them, and heavy the silence hangs on all,
Save for the rapids' plunge, and the thunder of the fall.
But on a sudden thrills from the people still and pale,
Chorussing his unheard despair, a desperate wail
Caught on a lurking point of rock it sways and swings,
Sport of the pitiless waters, the raft to which he clings.

                  III.
All the long afternoon it idly swings and sways;
And on the shore the crowd lifts up its hands and prays:
Lifts to heaven and wrings the hands so helpless to save,
Prays for the mercy of God on him whom the rock and the ways
Battle for, fettered betwixt them, and who amidst their strife
Straggles to help his helpers, and fights so hard for his life,
Tugging at rope and at reef, while men weep and women swoon.
Priceless second by second, so wastes the afternoon.
And it is sunset now; and another boat and the last
Down to him from the bridge through the rapids has safely passed.

                  IV.
Wild through the crowd comes flying a man that nothing can stay
Maddening against the gate that is locked athwart his way.
"No! we keep the bridge for them that can help him. You,
Tell us, who are you?" "His brother!" "God help you both! Pass through."
Wild, with wide arms of imploring he calls aloud to him,
Unto the face of his brother, scarce seen in the distance dim;
But in the roar of the rapids his fluttering words are lost
As in a wind of autumn the leaves of autumn are tossed.
And from the bridge he sees his brother sever the rope
Holding him to the raft, and rise secure in his hope;
Sees all as in a dream the terrible pageantry,
Populous shores, the woods, the sky, the birds flying free;
Sees, then, the form--that, spent with effort and fasting and fear,
Flings itself feebly and fails of the boat that is lying so near,
Caught in the long-baffled clutch of the rapids, and rolled and hurled
Headlong on to the cataract's brink, and out of the world.


"O Basil!" said Isabel, with a long sigh breaking the hush that best
praised the unknown poet's skill, "it isn't true, is it?"

"Every word, almost, even to the brother's coming at the last moment.
It's a very well-known incident," he added, and I am sure the reader
whose memory runs back twenty years cannot have forgotten it.

Niagara, indeed, is an awful homicide; nearly every point of interest
about the place has killed its man, and there might well be a deeper
stain of crimson than it ever wears in that pretty bow overarching the
falls. Its beauty is relieved against an historical background as gloomy
as the lightest-hearted tourist could desire. The abominable savages,
revering the cataract as a kind of august devil, and leading a life of
demoniacal misery and wickedness, whom the first Jesuits found here two
hundred years ago; the ferocious Iroquois bloodily driving out these
squalid devil-worshippers; the French planting the fort that yet guards
the mouth of the river, and therewith the seeds of war that fruited
afterwards in murderous strifes throughout the whole Niagara country; the
struggle for the military posts on the river, during the wars of France
and England; the awful scene in the conspiracy of Pontiac, where a
detachment of English troops was driven by the Indians over the precipice
near the great Whirlpool; the sorrow and havoc visited upon the American
settlements in the Revolution by the savages who prepared their attacks
in the shadow of Fort Niagara; the battles of Chippewa and of Lundy's
Lane, that mixed the roar of their cannon with that of the fall; the
savage forays with tomahawk and scalping-knife, and the blazing villages
on either shore in the War of 1812,--these are the memories of the place,
the links in a chain of tragical interest scarcely broken before our time
since the white man first beheld the mist-veiled face of Niagara. The
facts lost nothing of their due effect as Basil, in the ramble across
Goat Island, touched them with the reflected light of Mr. Parkman's
histories,--those precious books that make our meagre past wear something
of the rich romance of old European days, and illumine its savage
solitudes with the splendor of mediaeval chivalry, and the glory of
mediaeval martyrdom,--and then, lacking this light, turned upon them the
feeble glimmer of the guide-books. He and Isabel enjoyed the lurid
picture with all the zest of sentimentalists dwelling upon the troubles
of other times from the shelter of the safe and peaceful present. They
were both poets in their quality of bridal couple, and so long as their
own nerves were unshaken they could transmute all facts to entertaining
fables. They pleasantly exercised their sympathies upon those who every
year perish at Niagara in the tradition of its awful power; only they
refused their cheap and selfish compassion to the Hermit of Goat Island,
who dwelt so many years in its conspicuous seclusion, and was finally
carried over the cataract. This public character they suspected of design
in his death as in his life, and they would not be moved by his memory;
though they gave a sigh to that dream, half pathetic, half ludicrous, yet
not ignoble, of Mordecai Noah, who thought to assemble all the Jews of
the world, and all the Indians, as remnants of the lost tribes, upon
Grand Island, there to rebuild Jerusalem, and who actually laid the
corner-stone of the new temple there.

Goat Island is marvelously wild for a place visited by so many thousands
every year. The shrubbery and undergrowth remain unravaged, and form a
deceitful privacy, in which, even at that early hour of the day, they met
many other pairs. It seemed incredible that the village and the hotels
should be so full, and that the wilderness should also abound in them;
yet on every embowered seat, and going to and from all points of interest
and danger, were these new-wedded lovers with their interlacing arms and
their fond attitudes, in which each seemed to support and lean upon the
other. Such a pair stood prominent before them when Basil and Isabel
emerged at last from the cover of the woods at the head of the island,
and glanced up the broad swift stream to the point where it ran smooth
before breaking into the rapids; and as a soft pastoral feature in the
foreground of that magnificent landscape, they found them far from
unpleasing. Some such pair is in the foreground of every famous American
landscape; and when I think of the amount of public love-making in the
season of pleasure-travel, from Mount Desert to the Yosemite, and from
the parks of Colorado to the Keys of Florida, I feel that our continent
is but a larger Arcady, that the middle of the nineteenth century is the
golden age, and that we want very little of being a nation of shepherds
and shepherdesses.

Our friends returned by the shore of the Canadian rapids, having
traversed the island by a path through the heart of the woods, and now
drew slowly near the Falls again. All parts of the prodigious pageant
have an eternal novelty, and they beheld the ever-varying effect of that
constant sublimity with the sense of discoverers, or rather of people
whose great fortune it is to see the marvel in its beginning, and new
from the creating hand. The morning hour lent its sunny charm to this
illusion, while in the cavernous precipices of the shores, dark with
evergreens, a mystery as of primeval night seemed to linger. There was a
wild fluttering of their nerves, a rapture with an under-consciousness of
pain, the exaltation of peril and escape, when they came to the three
little isles that extend from Goat Island, one beyond another far out
into the furious channel. Three pretty suspension-bridges connect them
now with the larger island, and under each of these flounders a huge
rapid, and hurls itself away to mingle with the ruin of the fall. The
Three Sisters are mere fragments of wilderness, clumps of vine-tangled
woods, planted upon masses of rock; but they are part of the fascination
of Niagara which no one resists; nor could Isabel have been persuaded
from exploring them. It wants no courage to do this, but merely
submission to the local sorcery, and the adventurer has no other reward
than the consciousness of having been where but a few years before no
human being had perhaps set foot. She grossed from bridge to bridge with
a quaking heart, and at last stood upon the outermost isle, whence,
through the screen of vines and boughs, she gave fearful glances at the
heaving and tossing flood beyond, from every wave of which at every
instant she rescued herself with a desperate struggle. The exertion told
heavily upon her strength unawares, and she suddenly made Basil another
revelation of character. Without the slightest warning she sank down at
the root of a tree, and said, with serious composure, that she could
never go back on those bridges; they were not safe. He stared at her
cowering form in blank amaze, and put his hands in his pockets. Then it
occurred to his dull masculine sense that it must be a joke; and he said,
"Well, I'll have you taken off in a boat."

"O do, Basil, do, have me taken off in a boat!" implored Isabel. "You see
yourself the Midges are not safe. Do get a boat."

"Or a balloon," he suggested, humoring the pleasantry.

Isabel burst into tears; and now he went on his knees at her side, and
took her hands in his. "Isabel! Isabel! Are you crazy?" he cried, as if
he meant to go mad himself. She moaned and shuddered in reply; he said,
to mend matters, that it was a jest, about the boat; and he was driven to
despair when Isabel repeated, "I never can go back by the bridges,
never."

"But what do you propose to do?"

"I don't know, I don't know!"

He would try sarcasm. "Do you intend to set up a hermitage here, and have
your meals sent out from the hotel? It's a charming spot, and visited
pretty constantly; but it's small, even for a hermitage."

Isabel moaned again with her hands still on her eyes, and wondered that
he was not ashamed to make fun of her.

He would try kindness. "Perhaps, darling, you'll let me carry you
ashore."

"No, that will bring double the weight on the bridge at once."

"Couldn't you shut your eyes, and let me lead you?"

"Why, it isn't the sight of the rapids," she said, looking up fiercely.
"The bridges are not safe. I'm not a child, Basil. O, what shall we do?"

"I don't know," said Basil, gloomily. "It's an exigency for which I
wasn't prepared." Then he silently gave himself to the Evil One, for
having probably overwrought Isabel's nerves by repeating that poem about
Avery, and by the ensuing talk about Niagara, which she had seemed to
enjoy so much. He asked her if that was it; and she answered, "O no, it's
nothing but the bridges." He proved to her that the bridges, upon all
known principles, were perfectly safe, and that they could not give way.
She shook her head, but made no answer, and he lost his patience.

"Isabel," he cried, "I'm ashamed of you!"

"Don't say anything you'll be sorry for afterwards, Basil," she replied,
with the forbearance of those who have reason and justice on their side.

The rapids beat and shouted round their little prison-isle, each billow
leaping as if possessed by a separate demon. The absurd horror of the
situation overwhelmed him. He dared not attempt to carry her ashore, for
she might spring from his grasp into the flood. He could not leave her to
call for help; and what if nobody came till she lost her mind from
terror? Or, what if somebody should come and find them in that ridiculous
affliction?

Somebody was coming!

"Isabel!" he shouted in her ear, "here come those people we saw in the
parlor last night."

Isabel dashed her veil over her face, clutched Basil's with her icy hand,
rose, drew her arm convulsively through his, and walked ashore without a
word.

In a sheltered nook they sat down, and she quickly "repaired her drooping
head and tricked her beams" again. He could see her tearfully smiling
through her veil. "My dear," he said, "I don't ask an explanation of your
fright, for I don't suppose you could give it. But should you mind
telling me why those people were so sovereign against it?"

"Why, dearest! Don't you understand? That Mrs. Richard--whoever she
is--is so much like me."

She looked at him as if she had made the most satisfying statement, and
he thought he had better not ask further then, but wait in hope that the
meaning would come to him. They walked on in silence till they came to
the Biddle Stairs, at the head of which is a notice that persons have
been killed by pieces of rock from the precipice overhanging the shore
below, and warning people that they descend at their peril. Isabel
declined to visit the Cave of the Winds, to which these stairs lead, but
was willing to risk the ascent of Terrapin Tower. "Thanks; no," said her
husband. "You might find it unsafe to come back the way you went up. We
can't count certainly upon the appearance of the lady who is so much like
you; and I've no fancy for spending my life on Terrapin Tower." So he
found her a seat, and went alone to the top of the audacious little
structure standing on the verge of the cataract, between the smooth curve
of the Horse-Shoe and the sculptured front of the Central Fall, with the
stormy sea of the Rapids behind, and the river, dim seen through the
mists, crawling away between its lofty bluffs before. He knew again the
awful delight with which so long ago he had watched the changes in the
beauty of the Canadian Fall as it hung a mass of translucent green from
the brink, and a pearly white seemed to crawl up from the abyss, and
penetrate all its substance to the very crest, and then suddenly vanished
from it, and perpetually renewed the same effect. The mystery of the
rising vapors veiled the gulf into which the cataract swooped; the sun
shone, and a rainbow dreamed upon them.

Near the foot of the tower, some loose rocks extend quite to the verge,
and here Basil saw an elderly gentleman skipping from one slippery stone
to another, and looking down from time to time into the abyss, who, when
he had amused himself long enough in this way, clambered up on the plank
bridge. Basil, who had descended by this time, made bold to say that he
thought the diversion an odd one and rather dangerous. The gentleman took
this in good part, and owned it might seem so, but added that a
distinguished phrenologist had examined his head, and told him he had
equilibrium so large that he could go anywhere.

"On your bridal tour, I presume," he continued, as they approached the
bench where Basil had left Isabel. She had now the company of a plain,
middle-aged woman, whose attire hesitatingly expressed some inward
festivity, and had a certain reluctant fashionableness. "Well, this is my
third bridal tour to Niagara, and my wife 's been here once before on the
same business. We see a good many changes. I used to stand on Table Rock
with the others. Now that's all gone. Well, old lady, shall we move on?"
he asked; and this bridal pair passed up the path, attended, haply, by
the guardian spirits of those who gave the place so many sad yet pleasing
associations.

At dinner, Mr. Richard's party sat at the table next Basil's, and they
were all now talking cheerfully over the emptiness of the spacious
dining-hall.

"Well, Kitty," the married lady was saying, you can tell the girls what
you please about the gayeties of Niagara, when you get home. They'll
believe anything sooner than the truth."

"O yes, indeed," said Kitty, "I've got a good deal of it made up already.
I'll describe a grand hop at the hotel, with fashionable people from all
parts of the country, and the gentlemen I danced with the most. I'm going
to have had quite a flirtation with the gentleman of the long blond
mustache, whom we met on the bridge this morning and he's got to do duty
in accounting for my missing glove. It'll never do to tell the girls I
dropped it from the top of Terrapin Tower. Then you know, Fanny, I really
can say something about dining with aristocratic Southerners, waited upon
by their black servants."

This referred to the sad-faced patrician whom Basil and Isabel had noted
in the cars from Buffalo as a Southerner probably coming North for the
first time since the war. He had an air at once fierce and sad, and a
half-barbaric, homicidal gentility of manner fascinating enough in its
way. He sat with his wife at a table farther down the room, and their
child was served in part by a little tan-colored nurse-maid. The fact did
not quite answer to the young lady's description of it, and get it
certainly afforded her a ground-work. Basil fancied a sort of
bewilderment in the Southerner, and explained it upon the theory that he
used to come every year to Niagara before the war, and was now puzzled to
find it so changed.

"Yes," he said, "I can't account for him except as the ghost of Southern
travel, and I can't help feeling a little sorry for him. I suppose that
almost any evil commends itself by its ruin; the wrecks of slavery are
fast growing a fungus crop of sentiment, and they may yet outflourish the
remains of the feudal system in the kind of poetry they produce. The
impoverished slave-holder is a pathetic figure, in spite of all justice
and reason, the beaten rebel does move us to compassion, and it is of no
use to think of Andersonville in his presence. This gentleman, and others
like him, used to be the lords of our summer resorts. They spent the
money they did not earn like princes; they held their heads high; they
trampled upon the Abolitionist in his lair; they received the homage of
the doughface in his home. They came up here from their rice-swamps and
cotton-fields, and bullied the whole busy civilization of the North.
Everybody who had merchandise or principles to sell truckled to them, and
travel amongst us was a triumphal progress. Now they're moneyless and
subjugated (as they call it), there's none so poor to do them reverence,
and it's left for me, an Abolitionist from the cradle, to sigh over their
fate. After all, they had noble traits, and it was no great wonder they
got, to despise us, seeing what most of us were. It seems to me I should
like to know our friend. I can't help feeling towards him as towards a
fallen prince, heaven help my craven spirit! I wonder how our colored
waiter feels towards him. I dare say he admires him immensely."

There were not above a dozen other people in the room, and Basil
contrasted the scene with that which the same place formerly presented.
"In the old time," he said, "every table was full, and we dined to the
music of a brass band. I can't say I liked the band, but I miss it. I
wonder if our Southern friend misses it? They gave us a very small
allowance of brass band when we arrived, Isabel. Upon my word, I wonder
what's come over the place," he said, as the Southern party, rising from
the table, walked out of the dining-room, attended by many treacherous
echoes in spite of an ostentatious clatter of dishes that the waiters
made.

After dinner they drove on the Canada shore up past the Clifton House,
towards the Burning Spring, which is not the least wonder of Niagara. As
each bubble breaks upon the troubled surface, and yields its flash of
infernal flame and its whiff of sulphurous stench, it seems hardly
strange that the Neutral Nation should have revered the cataract as a
demon; and another subtle spell (not to be broken even by the
business-like composure of the man who shows off the hell-broth) is added
to those successive sorceries by which Niagara gradually changes from a
thing of beauty to a thing of terror. By all odds, too, the most
tremendous view of the Falls is afforded by the point on the drive whence
you look down upon the Horse-Shoe, and behold its three massive walls of
sea rounding and sweeping into the gulf together, the color gone, and the
smooth brink showing black and ridgy.

Would they not go to the battle-field of Lundy's Lane? asked the driver
at a certain point on their return; but Isabel did not care for
battle-fields, and Basil preferred to keep intact the reminiscence of his
former visit. "They have a sort of tower of observation built on the
battle-ground," he said, as they drove on down by the river, "and it was
in charge of an old Canadian militia-man, who had helped his countrymen
to be beaten in the fight. This hero gave me a simple and unintelligible
account of the battle, asking me first if I had ever heard of General
Scott, and adding without flinching that here he got his earliest
laurels. He seemed to go just so long to every listener, and nothing
could stop him short, so I fell into a revery until he came to an end. It
was hard to remember, that sweet summer morning, when the sun shone, and
the birds sang, and the music of a piano and a girl's voice rose from a
bowery cottage near, that all the pure air had once been tainted with
battle-smoke, that the peaceful fields had been planted with cannon,
instead of potatoes and corn, and that where the cows came down the
farmer's lane, with tinkling bells, the shock of armed men had befallen.
The blue and tranquil Ontario gleamed far away, and far away rolled the
beautiful land, with farm-houses, fields, and woods, and at the foot of
the tower lay the pretty village. The battle of the past seemed only a
vagary of mine; yet how could I doubt the warrior at my elbow?--grieved
though I was to find that a habit of strong drink had the better of his
utterance that morning. My driver explained afterwards, that persons
visiting the field were commonly so much pleased with the captain's
eloquence, that they kept the noble old soldier in a brandy and-water
rapture throughout the season, thereby greatly refreshing his memory, and
making the battle bloodier and bloodier as the season advanced and the
number of visitors increased. There my dear," he suddenly broke off, as
they came in sight of a slender stream of water that escaped from the
brow of a cliff on the American side below the Falls, and spun itself
into a gauze of silvery mist, "that's the Bridal Veil; and I suppose you
think the stream, which is making such a fine display, yonder, is some
idle brooklet, ending a long course of error and worthlessness by that
spectacular plunge. It's nothing of the kind; it's an honest hydraulio
canal, of the most straightforward character, a poor but respectable
mill-race which has devoted itself strictly to business, and has turned
mill-wheels instead of fooling round water-lilies. It can afford that
ultimate finery. What you behold in the Bridal Veil, my love, is the
apotheosis of industry."

"What I can't help thinking of," said Isabel, who had not paid the
smallest attention to the Bridal Veil, or anything about it, "is the
awfulness of stepping off these places in the night-time." She referred
to the road which, next the precipice, is unguarded by any sort of
parapet. In Europe a strong wall would secure it, but we manage things
differently on our continent, and carriages go running over the brink
from time to time.

"If your thoughts have that direction," answered her husband, "we had
better go back to the hotel, and leave the Whirlpool for to-morrow
morning. It's late for it to-day, at any rate." He had treated Isabel
since the adventure on the Three Sisters with a superiority which he felt
himself to be very odious, but which he could not disuse.

"I'm not afraid," she sighed, "but in the words of the retreating
soldier, I--I'm awfully demoralized;" and added, "You know we must
reserve some of the vital forces for shopping this evening."




Part of their business also was to buy the tickets for their return to

Boston by way of Montreal and Quebec, and it was part of their pleasure
to get these of the heartiest imaginable ticket-agent. He was a colonel
or at least a major, and he made a polite feint of calling Basil by some
military title. He commended the trip they were about to make as the most
magnificent and beautiful on the whole continent, and he commended them
for intending to make it. He said that was Mrs. General Bowdur of
Philadelphia who just went out; did they know her? Somehow, the titles
affected Basil as of older date than the late war, and as belonging to
the militia period; and he imagined for the agent the romance of a life
spent at a watering-place, in contact with rich money-spending,
pleasure-taking people, who formed his whole jovial world. The Colonel,
who included them in this world, and thereby brevetted them rich and
fashionable, could not secure a state-room for them on the boat,--a
perfectly splendid Lake steamer, which would take them down the rapids of
the St. Lawrence, and on to Montreal without change,--but he would give
them a letter to the captain, who was a very particular friend of his,
and would be happy to show them as his friends every attention; and so he
wrote a note ascribing peculiar merits to Basil, and in spite of all
reason making him feel for the moment that he was privileged by a
document which was no doubt part of every such transaction. He spoke in a
loud cheerful voice; he laughed jollily at no apparent joke; he bowed
very low and said, "GOOD-evening!" at parting, and they went away as if
he had blessed them.

The rest of the evening they spent in wandering through the village,
charmed with its bizarre mixture of quaintness and commonplaceness; in
hanging about the shop-Windows with their monotonous variety of feather
fans,--each with a violently red or yellow bird painfully sacrificed in
its centre,--moccasons, bead-wrought work-bags, tobacco-pouches, bows and
arrows, and whatever else the savage art of the neighboring squaws can
invent; in sauntering through these gay booths, pricing many things, and
in hanging long and undecidedly over cases full of feldspar crosses,
quartz bracelets and necklaces, and every manner of vase, inoperative
pitcher, and other vessel that can be fashioned out of the geological
formations at Niagara, tormented meantime by the heat of the gas-lights
and the persistence of the mosquitoes. There were very few people besides
themselves in the shops, and Isabel's purchases were not lavish. Her
husband had made up his mind to get her some little keepsake; and when he
had taken her to the hotel he ran back to one of the shops, and hastily
bought her a feather fan,--a magnificent thing of deep magenta dye
shading into blue, with a whole yellow-bird transfixed in the centre.
When he triumphantly displayed it in their room, "Who's that for, Basil?"
demanded his wife; "the cook?" But seeing his ghastly look at this, she
fell upon his neck, crying, "O you poor old tasteless darling! You've got
it for me!" and seemed about to die of laughter.

"Didn't you start and throw up your hands," he stammered, "when you came
to that case of fans?"

"Yes,--in horror! Did you think I liked the cruel things, with their dead
birds and their hideous colors? O Basil, dearest! You are incorrigible.
Can't you learn that magenta is the vilest of all the hues that the
perverseness of man has invented in defiance of nature? Now, my love,
just promise me one thing," she said pathetically. "We're going to do a
little shopping in Montreal, you know; and perhaps you'll be wanting to
surprise me with something there. Don't do it. Or if you must, do tell me
all about it beforehand, and what the color of it's to be; and I can say
whether to get it or not, and then there'll be some taste about it, and I
shall be truly surprised and pleased."

She turned to put the fan into her trunk, and he murmured something about
exchanging it. "No," she said, "we'll keep it as a--a--monument." And she
deposed him, with another peal of laughter, from the proud height to
which he had climbed in pity of her nervous fears of the day. So
completely were their places changed, that he doubted if it were not he
who had made that scene on the Third Sister; and when Isabel said, "O,
why won't men use their reasoning faculties?" he could not for himself
have claimed any, and he could not urge the truth: that he had bought the
fan more for its barbaric brightness than for its beauty. She would not
let him get angry, and he could say nothing against the half-ironical
petting with which she soothed his mortification.

But all troubles passed with the night, and the next morning they spent a
charming hour about Prospect Point, and in sauntering over Goat Island,
somewhat daintily tasting the flavors of the place on whose wonders they
had so hungrily and indiscriminately feasted at first. They had already
the feeling of veteran visitors, and they loftily marveled at the greed
with which newer-comers plunged at the sensations. They could not
conceive why people should want to descend the inclined railway to the
foot of the American Fall; they smiled at the idea of going up Terrapin
Tower; they derided the vulgar daring of those who went out upon the
Three Weird Sisters; for some whom they saw about to go down the Biddle
Stairs to the Cave of the Winds, they had no words to express their
contempt.

Then they made their excursion to the Whirlpool, mistakenly going down on
the American side, for it is much better seen from the other, though seen
from any point it is the most impressive feature of the whole prodigious
spectacle of Niagara.

Here within the compass of a mile, those inland seas of the North,
Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and the multitude of smaller lakes, all
pour their floods, where they swirl in dreadful vortices, with resistless
under-currents boiling beneath the surface of that mighty eddy. Abruptly
from this scene of secret power, so different from the thunderous
splendors of the cataract itself, rise lofty cliffs on every side, to a
height of two hundred feet, clothed from the water's edge almost to their
create with dark cedars. Noiselessly, so far as your senses perceive, the
lakes steal out of the whirlpool, then, drunk and wild, with brawling
rapids roar away to Ontario through the narrow channel of the river.
Awful as the scene is, you stand so far above it that you do not know the
half of its terribleness; for those waters that look so smooth are great
ridges and rings, forced, by the impulse of the currents, twelve feet
higher in the centre than at the margin. Nothing can live there, and with
what is caught in its hold, the maelstrom plays for days, and whirls and
tosses round and round in its toils, with a sad, maniacal patience. The
guides tell ghastly stories, which even their telling does not wholly rob
of ghastliness, about the bodies of drowned men carried into the
whirlpool and made to enact upon its dizzy surges a travesty of life,
apparently floating there at their pleasure, diving and frolicking amid
the waves, or frantically struggling to escape from the death that has
long since befallen them.

On the American side, not far below the railway suspension bridge, is an
elevator more than a hundred and eighty feet high, which is meant to let
people down to the shore below, and to give a view of the rapids on their
own level. From the cliff opposite, it looks a terribly frail structure
of pine sticks, but is doubtless stronger than it looks; and at any rate,
as it has never yet fallen to pieces, it may be pronounced perfectly
safe.

In the waiting-room at the top, Basil and Isabel found Mr. Richard and
his ladies again, who got into the movable chamber with them, and they
all silently descended together. It was not a time for talk of any kind,
either when they were slowly and not quite smoothly dropping through the
lugubrious upper part of the structure, where it was darkened by a rough
weatherboarding, or lower down, where the unobstructed light showed the
grim tearful face of the cliff, bedrabbled with oozy springs, and the
audacious slightness of the elevator.

An abiding distrust of the machinery overhead mingled in Isabel's heart
with a doubt of the value of the scene below, and she could not look
forward to escape from her present perils by the conveyance which had
brought her into them, with any satisfaction. She wanly smiled, and
shrank closer to Basil; while the other matron made nothing of seizing
her husband violently by the arm and imploring him to stop it whenever
they experienced a rougher jolt than usual.

At the bottom of the cliff they were helped out of their prison by a
humid young Englishman, with much clay on him, whose face was red and
bathed in perspiration, for it was very hot down there in his little
inclosure of baking pine boards, and it was not much cooler out on the
rocks upon which the party issued, descending and descending by repeated
and desultory flights of steps, till at last they stood upon a huge
fragment of stone right abreast of the rapids. Yet it was a magnificent
sight, and for a moment none of them were sorry to have come. The surges
did not look like the gigantic ripples on a river's course as they were,
but like a procession of ocean billows; they arose far aloft in vast
bulks of clear green, and broke heavily into foam at the crest. Great
blocks and shapeless fragments of rock strewed the margin of the awful
torrent; gloomy walls of dark stone rose naked from these, bearded here
and there with cedar, and everywhere frowning with shaggy brows of
evergreen. The place is inexpressibly lonely and dreadful, and one feels
like an alien presence there, or as if he had intruded upon some mood or
haunt of Nature in which she had a right to be forever alone. The slight,
impudent structure of the elevator rises through the solitude, like a
thing that merits ruin, yet it is better than something more elaborate,
for it looks temporary, and since there must be an elevator, it is well
to have it of the most transitory aspect. Some such quality of rude
impermanence consoles you for the presence of most improvements by which
you enjoy Niagara; the suspension bridges for their part being saved from
offensiveness by their beauty and unreality.

Ascending, none of the party spoke; Isabel and the other matron blanched
in each other's faces; their husbands maintained a stolid resignation.
When they stepped out of their trap into the waiting room at the top,
"What I like about these little adventures," said Mr. Richard to Basil,
abruptly, "is getting safely out of them. Good-morning, sir." He bowed
slightly to Isabel, who returned his politeness, and exchanged faint
nods, or glances, with the ladies. They got into their separate
carriages, and at that safe distance made each other more decided
obeisances.

"Well," observed Basil, "I suppose we're introduced now. We shall be
meeting them from time to time throughout our journey. You know how the
same faces and the same trunks used to keep turning up in our travels on
the other side. Once meet people in travelling, and you can't get rid of
them."

"Yes," said Isabel, as if continuing his train of thought, "I'm glad
we're going to-day."

"O dearest!"

"Truly. When we first arrived I felt only the loveliness of the place. It
seemed more familiar, too, then; but ever since, it's been growing
stranger and dreadfuller. Somehow it's begun to pervade me and possess me
in a very uncomfortable way; I'm tossed upon rapids, and flung from
cataract brinks, and dizzied in whirlpools; I'm no longer yours, Basil;
I'm most unhappily married to Niagara. Fly with me, save me from my awful
lord!"

She lightly burlesqued the woes of a prima donna, with clasped hands and
uplifted eyes.

"That'll do very well," Basil commented, "and it implies a reality that
can't be quite definitely spoken. We come to Niagara in the patronizing
spirit in which we approach everything nowadays, and for a few hours we
have it our own way, and pay our little tributes of admiration with as
much complacency as we feel in acknowledging the existence of the Supreme
Being. But after a while we are aware of some potent influence
undermining our self-satisfaction; we begin to conjecture that the great
cataract does not exist by virtue of our approval, and to feel that it
will not cease when we go away. The second day makes us its abject
slaves, and on the third we want to fly from it in terror. I believe some
people stay for weeks, however, and hordes of them have written odes to
Niagara."

"I can't understand it, at all," said Isabel. "I don't wonder now that
the town should be so empty this season, but that it should ever be full.
I wish we'd gone after our first look at the Falls from the suspension
bridge. How beautiful that was! I rejoice in everything that I haven't
done. I'm so glad I haven't been in the Cave of the Winds; I'm so happy
that Table Rock fell twenty years ago! Basil, I couldn't stand another
rainbow today. I'm sorry we went out on the Three Weird Sisters. O, I
shall dream about it! and the rush, and the whirl, and the dampness in
one's face, and the everlasting chirr-r-r-r of everything!"

She dipped suddenly upon his shoulder for a moment's oblivion, and then
rose radiant with a question: "Why in the world, if Niagara is really
what it seems to us now, do so many bridal parties come here?"

"Perhaps they're the only people who've the strength to bear up against
it, and are not easily dispersed and subjected by it."

"But we're dispersed and subjected."

"Ah, my dear, we married a little late. Who knows how it would be if you
were nineteen instead of twenty-seven, and I twenty-five and not turned
of thirty?"

"Basil, you're very cruel."

"No, no. But don't you see how it is? We've known too much of life to
desire any gloomy background for our happiness. We're quite contented to
have things gay and bright about us. Once we couldn't have made the
circle dark enough. Well, my dear, that's the effect of age. We're
superannuated."

"I used to think I was before we were married," answered Isabel simply;
"but now," she added triumphantly, "I'm rescued from all that. I shall
never be old again, dearest; never, as long as you love me!"

They were about to enter the village, and he could not make any open
acknowledgment of her tenderness; but her silken mantle (or whatever)
slipped from her shoulder, and he embracingly replaced it, flattering
himself that he had delicately seized this chance of an unavowed caress
and not allowing (O such is the blindness of our sex!) that the
opportunity had been yet more subtly afforded him, with the art which
women never disuse in this world, and which I hope they will not forget
in the next.

They had an early dinner, and looked their last upon the nuptial gayety
of the otherwise forlorn hotel. Three brides sat down with them in
travelling-dress; two occupied the parlor as they passed out; half a
dozen happy pairs arrived (to the music of the band) in the omnibus that
was to carry our friends back to the station; they caught sight of
several about the shop windows, as that drove through the streets. Thus
the place perpetually renews itself in the glow of love as long as the
summer lasts. The moon which is elsewhere so often of wormwood, or of the
ordinary green cheese at the best, is of lucent honey there from the
first of June to the last of October; and this is a great charm in
Niagara. I think with tenderness of all the lives that have opened so
fairly there; the hopes that have reigned in the glad young hearts; the
measureless tide of joy that ebbs and flows with the arriving and
departing trains. Elsewhere there are carking cares of business and of
fashion, there are age, and sorrow, and heartbreak: but here only youth,
faith, rapture. I kiss my hand to Niagara for that reason, and would I
were a poet for a quarter of an hour.

Isabel departed in almost a forgiving mood towards the weak sisterhood of
evident brides, and both our friends felt a lurking fondness for Niagara
at the last moment. I do not know how much of their content was due to
the fact that they had suffered no sort of wrong there, from those who
are apt to prey upon travellers. In the hotel a placard warned them to
have nothing to do with the miscreant hackmen on the streets, but always
to order their carriage at the office; on the street the hackmen
whispered to them not to trust the exorbitant drivers in league with the
landlords; yet their actual experience was great reasonableness and
facile contentment with the sum agreed upon.

This may have been because the hackmen so far outnumbered the visitors,
that the latter could dictate terms; but they chose to believe it a
triumph of civilization; and I will never be the cynic to sneer at their
faith. Only at the station was the virtue of the Niagarans put in doubt,
by the hotel porter who professed to find Basil's trunk enfeebled by
travel, and advised a strap for it, which a friend of his would sell for
a dollar and a half. Yet even he may have been a benevolent nature
unjustly suspected.




DOWN THE ST. LAWRENCE.

They were to take the Canadian steamer at Charlotte, the port of
Rochester, and they rattled uneventfully down from Niagara by rail. At
the broad, low-banked river-mouth the steamer lay beside the railroad
station; and while Isabel disposed of herself on board, Basil looked to
the transfer of the baggage, novelly comforted in the business by the
respectfulness of the young Canadian who took charge of the trunks for
the boat. He was slow, and his system was not good,--he did not give
checks for the pieces, but marked them with the name of their
destination; and there was that indefinable something in his manner which
hinted his hope that you would remember the porter; but he was so civil
that he did not snub the meekest and most vexatious of the passengers,
and Basil mutely blessed his servile soul. Few white Americans, he said
to himself, would behave so decently in his place; and he could not
conceive of the American steamboat clerk who would use the politeness
towards a waiting crowd that the Canadian purser showed when they all
wedged themselves in about his window to receive their stateroom keys. He
was somewhat awkward, like the porter, but he was patient, and he did not
lose his temper even when some of the crowd, finding he would not bully
them, made bold to bully him. He was three times as long in serving them
as an American would have been, but their time was of no value there, and
he served them well. Basil made a point of speaking him fair, when his
turn came, and the purser did not trample on him for a base truckler, as
an American jack-in-office would have done.

Our tourists felt at home directly on this steamer, which was very
comfortable, and in every way sufficient for its purpose, with a visible
captain, who answered two or three questions very pleasantly, and bore
himself towards his passengers in some sort like a host.

In the saloon Isabel had found among the passengers her
semi-acquaintances of the hotel parlor and the Rapids-elevator, and had
glanced tentatively towards them. Whereupon the matron of the party had
made advances that ended in their all sitting down together and wondering
when the boat would start, and what time they would get to Montreal next
evening, with other matters that strangers going upon the same journey
may properly marvel over in company. The introduction having thus
accomplished itself, they exchanged addresses, and it appeared that
Richard was Colonel Ellison, of Milwaukee, and that Fanny was his wife.
Miss Kitty Ellison was of Western New York, not far from Erie. There was
a diversion presently towards the different state-rooms; but the new
acquaintances sat vis-a-vis at the table, and after supper the ladies
drew their chairs together on the promenade deck, and enjoyed the fresh
evening breeze. The sun set magnificent upon the low western shore which
they had now left an hour away, and a broad stripe of color stretched
behind the steamer. A few thin, luminous clouds darkened momently along
the horizon, and then mixed with the land. The stars came out in a clear
sky, and a light wind softly buffeted the cheeks, and breathed life into
nerves that the day's heat had wasted. It scarcely wrinkled the tranquil
expanse of the lake, on which loomed, far or near, a full-sailed
schooner, and presently melted into the twilight, and left the steamer
solitary upon the waters. The company was small, and not remarkable
enough in any way to take the thoughts of any one off his own comfort. A
deep sense of the coziness of the situation possessed them all which was
if possible intensified by the spectacle of the captain, seated on the
upper deck, and smoking a cigar that flashed and fainted like a
stationary fire-fly in the gathering dusk. How very distant, in this
mood, were the most recent events! Niagara seemed a fable of antiquity;
the ride from Rochester a myth of the Middle Ages. In this pool, happy
world of quiet lake, of starry skies, of air that the soul itself seemed
to breathe, there was such consciousness of repose as if one were steeped
in rest and soaked through and through with calm.

The points of likeness between Isabel and Mrs. Ellison shortly made them
mutually uninteresting, and, leaving her husband to the others, Isabel
frankly sought the companionship of Miss Kitty, in whom she found a charm
of manner which puzzled at first, but which she presently fancied must be
perfect trust of others mingling with a peculiar self-reliance.

"Can't you see, Basil, what a very flattering way it is?" she asked of
her husband, when, after parting with their friends for the night, she
tried to explain the character to him. "Of course no art could equal such
a natural gift; for that kind of belief in your good-nature and sympathy
makes you feel worthy of it, don't you know; and so you can't help being
good-natured and sympathetic. This Miss Ellison, why, I can tell you, I
shouldn't be ashamed of her anywhere." By anywhere Isabel meant Boston,
and she went on to praise the young lady's intelligence and refinement,
with those expressions of surprise at the existence of civilization in a
westerner which westerners find it so hard to receive graciously.
Happily, Miss Ellison had not to hear them. "The reason she happened to
come with only two dresses is, she lives so near Niagara that she could
come for one day, and go back the next. The colonel's her cousin, and he
and his wife go East every year, and they asked her this time to see
Niagara with them. She told me all over again what we eavesdropped so
shamefully in the hotel parlor;--and I don't know whether she was better
pleased with the prospect of what's before her, or with the notion of
making the journey in this original way. She didn't force her confidence
upon me, any more than she tried to withhold it. We got to talking in the
most natural manner; and she seemed to tell these things about herself
because they amused her and she liked me. I had been saying how my trunk
got left behind once on the French side of Mont Cenis, and I had to wear
aunt's things at Turin till it could be sent for."

"Well, I don't see but Miss Ellison could describe you to her friends
very much as you've described her to me," said Basil. "How did these
mutual confidences begin? Whose trustfulness first flattered the other's?
What else did you tell about yourself?"

"I said we were on our wedding journey," guiltily admitted Isabel.

"O, you did!"

"Why, dearest! I wanted to know, for once, you see, whether we seemed
honeymoon-struck."

"And do we?"

"No," came the answer, somewhat ruefully. "Perhaps, Basil," she added,
"we've been a little too successful in disguising our bridal character.
Do you know," she continued, looking him anxiously in the face, "this
Miss Ellison took me at first for--your sister!"

Basil broke forth in outrageous laughter. "One more such victory," he
said, "and we are undone;" and he laughed again, immoderately. "How sad
is the fruition of human wishes! There 's nothing, after all, like a good
thorough failure for making people happy."

Isabel did not listen to him. Safe in a dim corner of the deserted
saloon, she seized him in a vindictive embrace; then, as if it had been
he who suggested the idea of such a loathsome relation, hissed out the
hated words, "Your sister!" and released him with a disdainful repulse.

A little after daybreak the steamer stopped at the Canadian city of
Kingston, a handsome place, substantial to the water's edge, and giving a
sense of English solidity by the stone of which it is largely built.
There was an accession of many passengers here, and they and the people
on the wharf were as little like Americans as possible. They were English
or Irish or Scotch, with the healthful bloom of the Old World still upon
their faces, or if Canadians they looked not less hearty; so that one
must wonder if the line between the Dominion and the United States did
not also sharply separate good digestion and dyspepsia. These provincials
had not our regularity of features, nor the best of them our careworn
sensibility of expression; but neither had they our complexions of adobe;
and even Isabel was forced to allow that the men were, on the whole,
better dressed than the same number of average Americans would have been
in a city of that size and remoteness. The stevedores who were putting
the freight aboard were men of leisure; they joked in a kindly way with
the orange-women and the old women picking up chips on the pier; and our
land of hurry seemed beyond the ocean rather than beyond the lake.

Kingston has romantic memories of being Fort Frontenac two hundred years
ago; of Count Frontenac's splendid advent among the Indians; of the brave
La Salle, who turned its wooden walls to stone; of wars with the savages
and then with the New York colonists, whom the French and their allies
harried from this point; of the destruction of La Salle's fort in the Old
French War; and of final surrender a few years later to the English. It
is as picturesque as it is historical. All about the city, the shores are
beautifully wooded, and there are many lovely islands,--the first indeed
of those Thousand Islands with which the head of the St. Lawrence is
filled, and among which the steamer was presently threading her way. They
are still as charming and still almost as wild as when, in 1673,
Frontenac's flotilla of canoes passed through their labyrinth and issued
upon the lake. Save for a light-house upon one of them, there is almost
nothing to show that the foot of man has ever pressed the thin grass
clinging to their rocky surfaces, and keeping its green in the eternal
shadow of their pines and cedars. In the warm morning light they gathered
or dispersed before the advancing vessel, which some of them almost
touched with the plumage of their evergreens; and where none of them were
large, some were so small that it would not have been too bold to figure
them as a vaster race of water-birds assembling and separating in her
course. It is curiously affecting to find them so unclaimed yet from the
solitude of the vanished wilderness, and scarcely touched even by
tradition. But for the interest left them by the French, these tiny
islands have scarcely any associations, and must be enjoyed for their
beauty alone. There is indeed about them a faint light of legend
concerning the Canadian rebellion of 1837, for several patriots are said
to have taken refuge amidst their lovely multitude; but this episode of
modern history is difficult for the imagination to manage, and somehow
one does not take sentimentally even to that daughter of a lurking
patriot, who long baffled her father's pursuers by rowing him from one
island to another, and supplying him with food by night.

Either the reluctance is from the natural desire that so recent a heroine
should be founded on fact, or it is mere perverseness. Perhaps I ought to
say; in justice to her, that it was one of her own sex who refused to be
interested in her, and forbade Basil to care for her. When he had read of
her exploit from the guide-book, Isabel asked him if he had noticed that
handsome girl in the blue and white striped Garibaldi and Swiss hat, who
had come aboard at Kingston. She pointed her out, and courageously made
him admire her beauty, which was of the most bewitching Canadian type.
The young girl was redeemed by her New World birth from the English
heaviness; a more delicate bloom lighted her cheeks; a softer grace dwelt
in her movement; yet she was round and full, and she was in the perfect
flower of youth. She was not so ethereal in her loveliness as an American
girl, but she was not so nervous and had none of the painful fragility of
the latter. Her expression was just a little vacant, it must be owned;
but so far as she went she was faultless. She looked like the most
tractable of daughters, and as if she would be the most obedient of
wives. She had a blameless taste in dress, Isabel declared; her costume
of blue and white striped Garibaldi and Swiss hat (set upon heavy masses
of dark brown hair) being completed by a black silk skirt. "And you can
see," she added, "that it's an old skirt made over, and that she's
dressed as cheaply as she is prettily." This surprised Basil, who had
imputed the young lady's personal sumptuousness to her dress, and had
thought it enormously rich. When she got off with her chaperone at one of
the poorest-looking country landings, she left them in hopeless
conjecture about her. Was she visiting there, or was the interior of
Canada full of such stylish and exquisite creatures? Where did she get
her taste, her fashions, her manners? As she passed from sight towards
the shadow of the woods, they felt the poorer for her going; yet they
were glad to have seen her, and on second thoughts they felt that they
could not justly ask more of her than to have merely existed for a few
hours in their presence. They perceived that beauty was not only its own
excuse for being, but that it flattered and favored and profited the
world by consenting to be.

At Prescott, the boat on which they had come from Charlotte, and on which
they had been promised a passage without change to Montreal, stopped, and
they were transferred to a smaller steamer with the uncomfortable name of
Banshee. She was very old, and very infirm and dirty, and in every way
bore out the character of a squalid Irish goblin. Besides, she was
already heavily laden with passengers, and, with the addition of the
other steamer's people had now double her complement; and our friends
doubted if they were not to pass the Rapids in as much danger as
discomfort. Their fellow-passengers were in great variety, however, and
thus partly atoned for their numbers. Among them of course there was a
full force of brides from Niagara and elsewhere, and some curious forms
of the prevailing infatuation appeared. It is well enough, if she likes,
and it may even be very noble for a passably good-looking young lady to
marry a gentleman of venerable age; but to intensify the idea of
self-devotion by furtively caressing his wrinkled front seems too
reproachful of the general public; while, on the other hand, if the bride
is very young and pretty, it enlists in behalf of the white-haired
husband the unwilling sympathies of the spectator to see her the centre
of a group of young people, and him only acknowledged from time to time
by a Parthian snub. Nothing, however, could have been more satisfactory
than the sisterly surrounding of this latter bride. They were of a better
class of Irish people; and if it had been any sacrifice for her to marry
so old a man, they were doing their best to give the affair at least the
liveliness of a wake. There were five or six of those great handsome
girls, with their generous curves and wholesome colors, and they were
every one attended by a good-looking colonial lover, with whom they joked
in slightly brogued voices, and laughed with careless Celtic laughter.
One of the young fellows presently lost his hat overboard, and had to
wear the handkerchief of his lady about his head; and this appeared to be
really one of the best things in the world, and led to endless banter.
They were well dressed, and it could be imagined that the ancient
bridegroom had come in for the support of the whole good-looking,
healthy, light-hearted family. In some degree he looked it, and wore but
a rueful countenance for a bridegroom; so that a very young newly married
couple, who sat next the jolly sister-and-loverhood could not keep their
pitying eyes off his downcast face. "What if he, too, were young at
heart!" the kind little wife's regard seemed to say.

For the sake of the slight air that was stirring, and to have the best
view of the Rapids, the Banshee's whole company was gathered upon the
forward promenade, and the throng was almost as dense as in a six-o'clock
horse-car out from Boston. The standing and sitting groups were closely
packed together, and the expanded parasols and umbrellas formed a nearly
unbroken roof. Under this Isabel chatted at intervals with the Ellisons,
who sat near; but it was not an atmosphere that provoked social feeling,
and she was secretly glad when after a while they shifted their position.

It was deadly hot, and most of the people saddened and silenced in the
heat. From time to time the clouds idling about overhead met and
sprinkled down a cruel little shower of rain that seemed to make the air
less breathable than before. The lonely shores were yellow with drought;
the islands grew wilder and barrener; the course of the river was for
miles at a stretch through country which gave no signs of human life. The
St. Lawrence has none of the bold picturesqueness of the Hudson, and is
far more like its far-off cousin the Mississippi. Its banks are low like
the Mississippi's, its current, swift, its way through solitary lands.
The same sentiment of early adventure hangs about each: both are haunted
by visions of the Jesuit in his priestly robe, and the soldier in his
mediaeval steel; the same gay, devout, and dauntless race has touched
them both with immortal romance. If the water were of a dusky golden
color, instead of translucent green, and the shores and islands were
covered with cottonwoods and willows instead of dark cedars, one could
with no great effort believe one's self on the Mississippi between Cairo
and St. Louis, so much do the great rivers strike one as kindred in the
chief features of their landscape. Only, in tracing this resemblance you
do not know just what to do with the purple mountains of Vermont, seen
vague against the horizon from the St. Lawrence, or with the quaint
little French villages that begin to show themselves as you penetrate
farther down into Lower Canada. These look so peaceful, with their
dormer-windowed cottages clustering about their church-spires, that it
seems impossible they could once have been the homes of the savages and
the cruel peasants who, with fire-brand and scalping-knife and tomahawk,
harassed the borders of New England for a hundred years. But just after
you descend the Long Sault you pass the hamlet of St. Regis, in which was
kindled the torch that wrapt Deerfield in flames, waking her people from
their sleep to meet instant death or taste the bitterness of a captivity.
The bell which was sent out from France for the Indian converts of the
Jesuits, and was captured by an English ship and carried into Salem, and
thence sold to Deerfield, where it called the Puritans to prayer, till at
last it also summoned the priest-led Indians and 'habitans' across
hundreds of miles of winter and of wilderness to reclaim it from that
desecration,--this fateful bell still hangs in the church-tower of St.
Regis, and has invited to matins and vespers for nearly two centuries the
children of those who fought so pitilessly and dared and endured so much
for it. Our friends would fair have heard it as they passed, hoping for
some mournful note of history in its sound; but it hung silent over the
silent hamlet, which, as it lay in the hot afternoon sun by the river's
side, seemed as lifeless as the Deerfield burnt long ago.

They turned from it to look at a gentleman who had just appeared in a
mustard-colored linen duster, and Basil asked, "Shouldn't you like to
know the origin, personal history, and secret feelings of a gentleman who
goes about in a duster of that particular tint? Or, that gentleman yonder
with his eye tied up in a wet handkerchief, do you suppose he's
travelling for pleasure? Look at those young people from Omaha: they
haven't ceased flirting or cackling since we left Kingston. Do you think
everybody has such spirits out at Omaha? But behold a yet more surprising
figure than any we have yet seen among this boat-load of nondescripts."

This was a tall, handsome young man, with a face of somewhat foreign
cast, and well dressed, with a certain impressive difference from the
rest in the cut of his clothes. But what most drew the eye to him was a
large cross, set with brilliants, and surmounted by a heavy double-headed
eagle in gold. This ornament dazzled from a conspicuous place on the left
lappet of his coat; on his hand shone a magnificent diamond ring, and he
bore a stately opera-glass, with which, from time to time, he
imperiously, as one may say, surveyed the landscape. As the imposing
apparition grew upon Isa-bel, "O here," she thought, "is something truly
distinguished. Of course, dear," she added aloud to Basil, "he's some
foreign nobleman travelling here"; and she ran over in her mind the
newspaper announcements of patrician visitors from abroad and tried to
identify him with some one of them. The cross must be the decoration of a
foreign order, and Basil suggested that he was perhaps a member of some
legation at Washington, who had ran up there for his summer vacation. The
cross puzzled him, but the double-headed eagle, he said, meant either
Austria or Russia; probably Austria, for the wearer looked a trifle too
civilized for a Russian.

"Yes, indeed! What an air he has. Never tell me. Basil, that there's
nothing in blood!" cried Isabel, who was a bitter aristocrat at heart,
like all her sex, though in principle she was democratic enough. As she
spoke, the object of her regard looked about him on the different groups,
not with pride, not with hauteur, but with a glance of unconscious,
unmistakable superiority. "O, that stare!" she added; nothing but high
birth and long descent can give it! Dearest, he's becoming a great
affliction to me. I want to know who he is. Couldn't you invent some
pretext for speaking to him?"

"No, I couldn't do it decently; and no doubt he'd snub me as I deserved
if I intruded upon him. Let's wait for fortune to reveal him."

"Well, I suppose I must, but it's dreadful; it's really dreadful. You can
easily see that's distinction," she continued, as her hero moved about
the promenade and gently but loftily made a way for himself among the
other passengers and favored the scenery through his opera-glass from one
point and another. He spoke to no one, and she reasonably supposed that
he did not know English.

In the mean time it was drawing near the hour of dinner, but no dinner
appeared. Twelve, one, two came and went, and then at last came the
dinner, which had been delayed, it seemed, till the cook could recruit
his energies sufficiently to meet the wants of double the number he had
expected to provide for. It was observable of the officers and crew of
the Banshee, that while they did not hold themselves aloof from the
passengers in the disdainful American manner, they were of feeble mind,
and not only did everything very slowly (in the usual Canadian fashion),
but with an inefficiency that among us would have justified them in being
insolent. The people sat down at several successive tables to the worst
dinner that ever was cooked; the ladies first, and the gentlemen
afterwards, as they made conquest of places. At the second table, to
Basil's great satisfaction, he found a seat, and on his right hand the
distinguished foreigner.

"Naturally, I was somewhat abashed," he said in the account he was
presently called to give Isabel of the interview, "but I remembered that
I was an American citizen, and tried to maintain a decent composure. For
several minutes we sat silent behind a dish of flabby cucumbers,
expecting the dinner, and I was wondering whether I should address him in
French or German,--for I knew you'd never forgive me if I let slip such a
chance,--when he turned and spoke himself."

"O what did he say, dearest?"

He said, "Pretty tejious waitin,' ain't it? in she best New York State
accent."

"You don't mean it!" gasped Isabel.

"But I do. After that I took courage to ask what his cross and
double-headed eagle meant. He showed the condescension of a true
nobleman. 'O,' says he, 'I 'm glad you like it, and it 's not the least
offense to ask,' and he told me. Can you imagine what it is? It 's the
emblem of the fifty-fourth degree in the secret society he belongs to!"

"I don't believe it!"

"Well, ask him yourself, then," returned Basil; "he 's a very good
fellow. 'O, that stare! nothing but high birth and long descent could
give it!'" he repeated, abominably implying that he had himself had no
share in their common error.

What retort Isabel might have made cannot now be known, for she was
arrested at this moment by a rumor amongst the passengers that they were
coming to the Long Sault Rapids. Looking forward she saw the tossing and
flashing of surges that, to the eye, are certainly as threatening as the
rapids above Niagara. The steamer had already passed the Deplau and the
Galopes, and they had thus had a foretaste of whatever pleasure or terror
there is in the descent of these nine miles of stormy sea. It is purely a
matter of taste, about shooting the rapids of the St. Lawrence. The
passengers like it better than the captain and the pilot, to guesses by
their looks, and the women and children like it better than the men. It
is no doubt very thrilling and picturesque and wildly beautiful: the
children crow and laugh, the women shout forth their delight, as the boat
enters the seething current; great foaming waves strike her bows, and
brawl away to the stern, while she dips, and rolls, and shoots onward,
light as a bird blown by the wind; the wild shores and islands whirl out
of sight; you feel in every fibre the career of the vessel. But the
captain sits in front of the pilothouse smoking with a grave face, the
pilots tug hard at the wheel; the hoarse roar of the waters fills the
air; beneath the smoother sweeps of the current you can see the brown
rocks; as you sink from ledge to ledge in the writhing and twisting
steamer, you have a vague sense that all this is perhaps an achievement
rather than an enjoyment. When, descending the Long Sault, you look back
up hill, and behold those billows leaping down the steep slope after you,
"No doubt," you confide to your soul, "it is magnificent; but it is not
pleasure." You greet with silent satisfaction the level river, stretching
between the Long Sault and the Coteau, and you admire the delightful
tranquillity of that beautiful Lake St. Francis into which it expands.
Then the boat shudders into the Coteau Rapids, and down through the
Cedars and Cascades. On the rocks of the last lies the skeleton of a
steamer wrecked upon them, and gnawed at still by the white-tusked
wolfish rapids. No one, they say, was lost from her. "But how," Basil
thought, "would it fare with all these people packed here upon her bow,
if the Banshee should swing round upon a ledge?" As to Isabel, she looked
upon the wrecked steamer with indifference, as did all the women; but
then they could not swim, and would not have to save themselves. "The La
Chine's to come yet," they exulted, "and that 's the awfullest of all!"

They passed the Lake St. Louis; the La Chin; rapids flashed into sight.
The captain rose up from his seat, took his pipe from his mouth, and
waved a silence with it. "Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "it's very
important in passing these rapids to keep the boat perfectly trim. Please
to remain just as you are."

It was twilight, for the boat was late. From the Indian village on the
shore they signaled to know if he wanted the local pilot; the captain
refused; and then the steamer plunged into the leaping waves. From rock
to rock she swerved and sank; on the last ledge she scraped with a deadly
touch that went to the heart.

Then the danger was passed, and the noble city of Montreal was in full
sight, lying at the foot of her dark green mountain, and lifting her many
spires into the rosy twilight air: massive and grand showed the sister
towers of the French cathedral.

Basil had hoped to approach this famous city with just associations. He
had meant to conjure up for Isabel's sake some reflex, however faint, of
that beautiful picture Mr. Parkman has painted of Maisonneuve founding
and consecrating Montreal. He flushed with the recollection of the
historian's phrase; but in that moment there came forth from the cabin a
pretty young person who gave every token of being a pretty young actress,
even to the duenna-like, elderly female companion, to be detected in the
remote background of every young actress. She had flirted audaciously
during the day with some young Englishmen and Canadians of her
acquaintance, and after passing the La Chine Rapids she had taken the
hearts of all the men by springing suddenly to her feet, apostrophizing
the tumult with a charming attitude, and warbling a delicious bit of
song. Now as they drew near the city the Victoria Bridge stretched its
long tube athwart the river, and looked so low because of its great
length that it seemed to bar the steamer's passage.

"I wonder," said one of the actress's adorers, a Canadian, whose face was
exactly that of the beaver on the escutcheon of his native province, and
whose heavy gallantries she had constantly received with a gay,
impertinent nonchalance,--"I wonder if we can be going right under that
bridge?"

"No, sir!" answered the pretty young actress with shocking promptness,
"we're going right over it!"

         "'Three groans and a guggle,
          And an awful struggle,
          And over we go!'"

At this witless, sweet impudence the Canadian looked very sheepish--for a
beaver; and all the other people laughed; but the noble historical shades
of Basil's thought vanished in wounded dignity beyond recall, and left
him feeling rather ashamed,--for he had laughed too.




THE SENTIMENT OF MONTREAL.

The feeling of foreign travel for which our tourists had striven
throughout their journey, and which they had known in some degree at
Kingston and all the way down the river, was intensified from the first
moment in Montreal; and it was so welcome that they were almost glad to
lose money on their greenbacks, which the conductor of the omnibus would
take only at a discount of twenty cents. At breakfast next morning they
could hardly tell on what country they had fallen. The waiters had but a
thin varnish of English speech upon their native French, and they spoke
their own tongue with each other; but most of the meats were cooked to
the English taste, and the whole was a poor imitation of an American
hotel. During their stay the same commingling of usages and races
bewildered them; the shops were English and the clerks were commonly
French; the carriage-drivers were often Irish, and up and down the
streets with their pious old-fashioned names, tinkled American
horse-cars. Everywhere were churches and convents that recalled the
ecclesiastical and feudal origin of the city; the great tubular bridge,
the superb water-front with its long array of docks only surpassed by
those of Liverpool, the solid blocks of business houses, and the
substantial mansions on the quieter streets, proclaimed the succession of
Protestant thrift and energy.

Our friends cared far less for the modern splendor of Montreal than for
the remnants of its past, and for the features that identified it with
another faith and another people than their own. Isabel would almost have
confessed to any one of the black-robed priests upon the street; Basil
could easily have gone down upon his knees to the white-hooded,
pale-faced nuns gliding among the crowd. It was rapture to take a
carriage, and drive, not to the cemetery, not to the public library, not
to the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association, or the grain
elevators, or the new park just tricked out with rockwork and sprigs of
evergreen,--not to any of the charming resorts of our own cities, but as
in Europe to the churches, the churches of a pitiless superstition, the
churches with their atrocious pictures and statues, their lingering smell
of the morning's incense, their confessionals, their fee-taking
sacristans, their worshippers dropped here and there upon their knees
about the aisles and saying their prayers with shut or wandering eyes
according as they were old women or young! I do not defend the feeble
sentimentality,--call it wickedness if you like,--but I understand it,
and I forgive it from my soul.

They went first, of course, to the French cathedral, pausing on their way
to alight and walk through the Bonsecours Market, where the habitans have
all come in their carts, with their various stores of poultry, fruit, and
vegetables, and where every cart is a study. Here is a simple-faced young
peasant-couple with butter and eggs and chickens ravishingly displayed;
here is a smooth-checked, blackeyed, black-haired young girl, looking as
if an infusion of Indian blood had darkened the red of her cheeks,
presiding over a stock of onions, potatoes, beets, and turnips; there an
old woman with a face carven like a walnut, behind a flattering array of
cherries and pears; yonder a whole family trafficking in loaves of
brown-bread and maple-sugar in many shapes of pious and grotesque device.
There are gay shows of bright scarfs and kerchiefs and vari-colored
yarns, and sad shows of old clothes and second-hand merchandise of other
sorts; but above all prevails the abundance of orchard and garden, while
within the fine edifice are the stalls of the butchers, and in the
basement below a world of household utensils, glass-ware, hard-ware, and
wooden-ware. As in other Latin countries, each peasant has given a
personal interest to his wares, but the bargains are not clamored over as
in Latin lands abroad. Whatever protest and concession and invocation of
the saints attend the transacting of business at Bonsecours Market are in
a subdued tone. The fat huckster-women drowsing beside their wares,
scarce send their voices beyond the borders of their broad-brimmed straw
hats, as they softly haggle with purchasers, or tranquilly gossip
together.

At the cathedral there are, perhaps, the worst paintings in the world,
and the massive pine-board pillars are unscrupulously smoked to look like
marble; but our tourists enjoyed it as if it had been St. Peter's; in
fact it has something of the barnlike immensity and impressiveness of St.
Peter's. They did not ask it to be beautiful or grand; they desired it
only to recall the beloved ugliness, the fondly cherished hideousness and
incongruity of the average Catholic churches of their remembrance, and it
did this and more: it added an effect of its own; it offered the
spectacle of a swarthy old Indian kneeling before the high altar, telling
his beads, and saying with many sighs and tears the prayers which it cost
so much martyrdom and heroism to teach his race. "O, it is only a savage
man," said the little French boy who was showing them the place,
impatient of their interest in a thing so unworthy as this groaning
barbarian. He ran swiftly about from object to object, rapidly lecturing
their inattention. "It is now time to go up into the tower," said he, and
they gladly made that toilsome ascent, though it is doubtful if the
ascent of towers is not too much like the ascent of mountains ever to be
compensatory. From the top of Notre Dame is certainly to be had a
prospect upon which, but for his fluttered nerves and trembling muscles
and troubled respiration, the traveller might well look with delight, and
as it is must behold with wonder. So far as the eye reaches it dwells
only upon what is magnificent. All the features of that landscape are
grand. Below you spreads the city, which has less that is merely mean in
it than any other city of our continent, and which is everywhere ennobled
by stately civic edifices, adorned by tasteful churches, and skirted by
full foliaged avenues of mansions and villas. Behind it rises the
beautiful mountain, green with woods and gardens to its crest, and
flanked on the east by an endless fertile plain, and on the west by
another expanse, through which the Ottawa rushes, turbid and dark, to its
confluence with the St. Lawrence. Then these two mighty streams
commingled flow past the city, lighting up the vast Champaign country to
the south, while upon the utmost southern verge, as on the northern, rise
the cloudy summits of far-off mountains.

As our travellers gazed upon all this grandeur, their hearts were humbled
to the tacit admission that the colonial metropolis was not only worthy
of its seat, but had traits of a solid prosperity not excelled by any of
the abounding and boastful cities of the Republic. Long before they
quitted Montreal they had rallied from this weakness, but they delighted
still to honor her superb beauty.

The tower is naturally bescribbled to its top with the names of those who
have climbed it, and most of these are Americans, who flock in great
numbers to Canada in summer. They modify its hotel life, and the objects
of interest thrive upon their bounty. Our friends met them at every turn,
and knew them at a glance from the native populations, who are also
easily distinguishable from each other. The French Canadians are nearly
always of a peasant-like commonness, or where they rise above this have a
bourgeois commonness of face and manner, and the English Canadians are to
be known from the many English sojourners by the effort to look much more
English than the latter. The social heart of the colony clings fast to
the mother-country, that is plain, whatever the political tendency may
be; and the public monuments and inscriptions celebrate this affectionate
union.

At the English cathedral the effect is deepened by the epitaphs of those
whose lives were passed in the joint service of England and her loyal
child; and our travellers, whatever their want of sympathy with the
sentiment, had to own to a certain beauty in that attitude of proud
reverence. Here, at least, was a people not cut off from its past, but
holding, unbroken in life and death, the ties which exist for us only in
history. It gave a glamour of olden time to the new land; it touched the
prosaic democratic present with the waning poetic light of the
aristocratic and monarchical tradition. There was here and there a title
on the tablets, and there was everywhere the formal language of loyalty
and of veneration for things we have tumbled into the dust. It is a
beautiful church, of admirable English Gothic; if you are so happy, you
are rather curtly told you may enter by a burly English figure in some
kind of sombre ecclesiastical drapery, and within its quiet precincts you
may feel yourself in England if you like,--which, for my part, I do not.
Neither did our friends enjoy it so much as the Church of the Jesuits,
with its more than tolerable painting, its coldly frescoed ceiling, its
architectural taste of subdued Renaissance, and its black-eyed
peasant-girl telling her beads before a side altar, just as in the
enviably deplorable countries we all love; nor so much even as the Irish
cathedral which they next visited. That is a very gorgeous cathedral
indeed, painted and gilded 'a merveille', and everywhere stuck about with
big and little saints and crucifixes, and pictures incredibly bad--but
for those in the French cathedral. There is, of course, a series
representing Christ's progress to Calvary; and there was a very tattered
old man,--an old man whose voice had been long ago drowned in whiskey,
and who now spoke in a ghostly whisper,--who, when he saw Basil's eye
fall upon the series, made him go the round of them, and tediously
explained them.

"Why did you let that old wretch bore you, and then pay him for it?"
Isabel asked.

"O, it reminded me so sweetly of the swindles of other lands and days,
that I couldn't help it," he answered; and straightway in the eyes of
both that poor, whiskeyfied, Irish tatterdemalion stood transfigured to
the glorious likeness of an Italian beggar.

They were always doing something of this kind, those absurdly sentimental
people, whom yet I cannot find it in my heart to blame for their folly,
though I could name ever so many reasons for rebuking it. Why, in fact,
should we wish to find America like Europe? Are the ruins and impostures
and miseries and superstitions which beset the traveller abroad so
precious, that he should desire to imagine them at every step in his own
hemisphere? Or have we then of our own no effective shapes of ignorance
and want and incredibility, that we must forever seek an alien contrast
to our native intelligence and comfort? Some such questions this guilty
couple put to each other, and then drove off to visit the convent of the
Gray Nuns with a joyful expectation which I suppose the prospect of the
finest public-school exhibition in Boston could never have inspired. But,
indeed, since there must be Gray Nuns, is it not well that there are
sentimentalists to take a mournful pleasure in their sad, pallid
existence?

The convent is at a good distance from the Irish cathedral, and in going
to it the tourists made their driver carry them through one of the few
old French streets which still remain in Montreal. Fires and improvements
had made havoc among the quaint horses since Basil's first visit; but at
last they came upon a narrow, ancient Rue Saint Antoine,--or whatever
other saint it was called after,--in which there was no English face or
house to be seen. The doors of the little one-story dwellings opened from
the pavement, and within you saw fat madame the mother moving about her
domestic affairs, and spare monsieur the elderly husband smoking beside
the open window; French babies crawled about the tidy floors; French
martyrs (let us believe Lalement or Brebeuf, who gave up their heroic
lives for the conversion of Canada) sifted their eyes in high-colored
lithographs on the wall; among the flower-pots in the dormer-window
looking from every tin roof sat and sewed a smooth haired young girl, I
hope,--the romance of each little mansion. The antique and foreign
character of the place was accented by the inscription upon a wall of
"Sirop adoucissant de Madame Winslow."

Ever since 1692 the Gray Nuns have made refuge within the ample borders
of their convent for infirm old people and for foundling children, and it
is now in the regular course of sight-seeing for the traveller to visit
their hospital at noonday, when he beholds the Sisters at their devotions
in the chapel. It is a bare, white-walled, cold-looking chapel, with the
usual paraphernalia of pictures and crucifixes. Seated upon low benches
on either side of the aisle were the curious or the devout; the former in
greater number and chiefly Americans, who were now and then whispered
silent by an old pauper zealous for the sanctity of the place. At the
stroke of twelve the Sisters entered two by two, followed by the
lady-superior with a prayerbook in her hand. She clapped the leaves of
this together in signal for them to kneel, to rise, to kneel again and
rise, while they repeated in rather harsh voices their prayers, and then
clattered out of the chapel as they had clattered in, with resounding
shoes. The two young girls at the head were very pretty, and all the pale
faces had a corpse-like peace. As Basil looked at their pensive sameness,
it seemed to him that those prettiest girls might very well be the twain
that he had seen here so many years ago, stricken forever young in their
joyless beauty. The ungraceful gowns of coarse gray, the blue checked
aprons, the black crape caps, were the same; they came and went with the
same quick tread, touching their brows with holy water and kneeling and
rising now as then with the same constrained and ordered movements. Would
it be too cruel if they were really the same persons? or would it be yet
more cruel if every year two girls so young and fair were self-doomed to
renew the likeness of that youthful death?

The visitors went about the hospital, and saw the old men and the little
children to whom these good pure lives were given, and they could only
blame the system, not the instruments or their work. Perhaps they did not
judge wisely of the amount of self-sacrifice involved, for they judged
from hearts to which love was the whole of earth and heaven; but
nevertheless they pitied the Gray Nuns amidst the unhomelike comfort of
their convent, the unnatural care of those alien little ones. Poor
'Soeurs Grises' in their narrow cells; at the bedside of sickness and age
and sorrow; kneeling with clasped hands and yearning eyes before the
bloody spectacle of the cross!--the power of your Church is shown far
more subtly and mightily in such as you, than in her grandest fanes or
the sight of her most august ceremonies, with praying priests, swinging
censers, tapers and pictures and images, under a gloomy heaven of
cathedral arches. There, indeed, the faithful have given their substance;
but here the nun has given up the most precious part of her woman's
nature, and all the tenderness that clings about the thought of wife and
mother.

"There are some things that always greatly afflict me in the idea of a
new country," said Basil, as they loitered slowly through the grounds of
the convent toward the gate. "Of course, it's absurd to think of men as
other than men, as having changed their natures with their skies; but a
new land always does seem at first thoughts like a new chance afforded
the race for goodness and happiness, for health and life. So I grieve for
the earliest dead at Plymouth more than for the multitude that the plague
swept away in London; I shudder over the crime of the first guilty man,
the sin of the first wicked woman in a new country; the trouble of the
first youth or maiden crossed in love there is intolerable. All should be
hope and freedom and prosperous life upon that virgin soil. It never was
so since Eden; but none the less I feel it ought to be; and I am
oppressed by the thought that among the earliest walls which rose upon
this broad meadow of Montreal were those built to immure the innocence of
such young girls as these and shut them from the life we find so fair.
Wouldn't you like to know who was the first that took the veil in this
wild new country? Who was she, poor soul, and what was her deep sorrow or
lofty rapture? You can fancy her some Indian maiden lured to the
renunciation by the splendor of symbols and promises seen vaguely through
the lingering mists of her native superstitions; or some weary soul, sick
from the vanities and vices, the bloodshed and the tears of the Old
World, and eager for a silence profounder than that of the wilderness
into which she had fled. Well, the Church knows and God. She was dust
long ago."

From time to time there had fallen little fitful showers during the
morning. Now as the wedding-journeyers passed out of the convent gate the
rain dropped soft and thin, and the gray clouds that floated through the
sky so swiftly were as far-seen Gray Sisters in flight for heaven.

"We shall have time for the drive round the mountain before dinner," said
Basil, as they got into their carriage again; and he was giving the order
to the driver, when Isabel asked how far it was.

"Nine miles."

"O, then we can't think of going with one horse. You know," she added,
"that we always intended to have two horses for going round the
mountain."

"No," said Basil, not yet used to having his decisions reached without
his knowledge. "And I don't see why we should. Everybody goes with one.
You don't suppose we're too heavy, do you?"

"I had a party from the States, ma'am, yesterday," interposed the driver;
"two ladies, real heavy apes, two gentlemen, weighin' two hundred apiece,
and a stout young man on the box with me. You'd 'a' thought the horse was
drawin' an empty carriage, the way she darted along."

"Then his horse must be perfectly worn out to-day," said Isabel, refusing
to admit the pool fellow directly even to the honors of a defeat. He had
proved too much, and was put out of court with no hope of repairing his
error.

"Why, it seems a pity," whispered Basil, dispassionately, "to turn this
man adrift, when he had a reasonable hope of being with us all day, and
has been so civil and obliging."

"O yes, Basil, sentimentalize him, do! Why don't you sentimentalize his
helpless, overworked horse?--all in a reek of perspiration."

"Perspiration! Why, my dear, it 's the rain!"

"Well, rain or shine, darling, I don't want to go round the mountain with
one horse; and it 's very unkind of you to insist now, when you've
tacitly promised me all along to take two."

"Now, this is a little too much, Isabel. You know we never mentioned the
matter till this moment."

"It 's the same as a promise, your not saying you wouldn't. But I don't
ask you to keep your word. I don't want to go round the mountain. I'd
much rather go to the hotel. I'm tired."

"Very well, then, Isabel, I'll leave you at the hotel."

In a moment it had come, the first serious dispute of their wedded life.
It had come as all such calamities come, from nothing, and it was on them
in full disaster ere they knew. Such a very little while ago, there in
the convent garden, their lives had been drawn closer in sympathy than
ever before; and now that blessed time seemed ages since, and they were
further asunder than those who have never been friends. "I thought,"
bitterly mused Isabel, "that he would have done anything for me." "Who
could have dreamed that a woman of her sense would be so unreasonable,"
he wondered. Both had tempers, as I know my dearest reader has (if a
lady), and neither would yield; and so, presently, they could hardly tell
how, for they were aghast at it all, Isabel was alone in her room amidst
the ruins of her life, and Basil alone in the one-horse carriage, trying
to drive away from the wreck of his happiness. All was over; the dream
was past; the charm was broken. The sweetness of their love was turned to
gall; whatever had pleased them in their loving moods was loathsome now,
and the things they had praised a moment before were hateful. In that
baleful light, which seemed to dwell upon all they ever said or did in
mutual enjoyment, how poor and stupid and empty looked their
wedding-journey! Basil spent five minutes in arraigning his wife and
convicting her of every folly and fault. His soul was in a whirl,

     "For to be wroth with one we love
     Doth work like madness in the brain."

In the midst of his bitter and furious upbraidings he found himself
suddenly become her ardent advocate, and ready to denounce her judge as a
heartless monster. "On our wedding journey, too! Good heavens, what an
incredible brute I am!" Then he said, "What an ass I am!" And the pathos
of the case having yielded to its absurdity, he was helpless. In five
minutes more he was at Isabel's side, the one-horse carriage driver
dismissed with a handsome pour-boire, and a pair of lusty bays with a
glittering barouche waiting at the door below. He swiftly accounted for
his presence, which she seemed to find the most natural thing that could
be, and she met his surrender with the openness of a heart that forgives
but does not forget, if indeed the most gracious art is the only one
unknown to the sex.

She rose with a smile from the ruins of her life, amidst which she had
heart-brokenly sat down with all her things on. "I knew you'd come back,"
she said.

"So did I," he answered. "I am much too good and noble to sacrifice my
preference to my duty."

"I didn't care particularly for the two horses, Basil," she said, as they
descended to the barouche. "It was your refusing them that hurt me."

"And I didn't want the one-horse carriage. It was your insisting so that
provoked me."

"Do you think people ever quarreled before on a wedding journey?" asked
Isabel as they drove gayly out of the city.

"Never! I can't conceive of it. I suppose if this were written down,
nobody would believe it."

"No, nobody could," said Isabel, musingly, and she added after a pause,
"I wish you would tell me just what you thought of me, dearest. Did you
feel as you did when our little affair was broken off, long ago? Did you
hate me?"

"I did, most cordially; but not half so much as I despised myself the
next moment. As to its being like a lover's quarrel, it wasn't. It was
more bitter, so much more love than lovers ever give had to be taken
back. Besides, it had no dignity, and a lover's quarrel always has. A
lover's quarrel always springs from a more serious cause, and has an air
of romantic tragedy. This had no grace of the kind. It was a poor shabby
little squabble."

"O, don't call it so, Basil! I should like you to respect even a quarrel
of ours more than that. It was tragical enough with me, for I didn't see
how it could ever be made up. I knew I couldn't make the advances. I
don't think it is quite feminine to be the first to forgive, is it?"

"I'm sure I can't say. Perhaps it would be rather unladylike."

"Well, you see, dearest, what I am trying to get at is this: whether we
shall love each other the more or the less for it. I think we shall get
on all the better for a while, on account of it. But I should have said
it was totally out of character it's something you might have expected of
a very young bridal couple; but after what we've been through, it seems
too improbable."

"Very well," said Basil, who, having made all the concessions, could not
enjoy the quarrel as she did, simply because it was theirs; "let 's
behave as if it had never been."

"O no, we can't. To me, it's as if we had just won each other."

In fact it gave a wonderful zest and freshness to that ride round the
mountain, and shed a beneficent glow upon the rest of their journey. The
sun came out through the thin clouds, and lighted up the vast plain that
swept away north and east, with the purple heights against the eastern
sky. The royal mountain lifted its graceful mass beside them, and hid the
city wholly from sight. Peasant-villages, in the shade of beautiful elms,
dotted the plain in every direction, and at intervals crept up to the
side of the road along which they drove. But these had been corrupted by
a more ambitious architecture since Basil saw them last, and were no
longer purely French in appearance. Then, nearly every house was a
tannery in a modest way, and poetically published the fact by the display
of a sheep's tail over the front door, like a bush at a wine-shop. Now,
if the tanneries still existed, the poetry of the cheeps' tails had
vanished from the portals. But our friends were consoled by meeting
numbers of the peasants jolting home from market in the painted carts,
which are doubtless of the pattern of the carts first built there two
hundred years ago. They were grateful for the immortal old wooden,
crooked and brown with the labor of the fields, who abounded in these
vehicles; when a huge girl jumped from the tail of her cart, and showed
the thick, clumsy ankles of a true peasant-maid, they could only sigh out
their unspeakable satisfaction.

Gardens embowered and perfumed the low cottages, through the open doors
of which they could see the exquisite neatness of the life within. One of
the doors opened into a school-house, where they beheld with rapture the
school-mistress, book in hand, and with a quaint cap on her gray head,
and encircled by her flock of little boys and girls.

By and by it began to rain again; and now while their driver stopped to
put up the top of the barouche, they entered a country church which had
taken their fancy, and walked up the aisle with the steps that blend with
silence rather than break it, while they heard only the soft whisper of
the shower without. There was no one there but themselves. The urn of
holy water seemed not to have been troubled that day, and no penitent
knelt at the shrine, before which twinkled so faintly one lighted lamp.
The white roof swelled into dim arches over their heads; the pale day
like a visible hush stole through the painted windows; they heard
themselves breathe as they crept from picture to picture.

A narrow door opened at the side of the high altar, and a slender young
priest appeared in a long black robe, and with shaven head. He, too as he
moved with noiseless feet, seemed a part of the silence; and when he
approached with dreamy black eyes fixed upon them, and bowed courteously,
it seemed impossible he should speak. But he spoke, the pale young
priest, the dark-robed tradition, the tonsured vision of an age and a
church that are passing.

"Do you understand French, monsieur?"

"A very little, monsieur."

"A very little is more than my English," he said, yet he politely went
the round of the pictures with them, and gave them the names of the
painters between his crossings at the different altars. At the high altar
there was a very fair Crucifixion; before this the priest bent one knee.
"Fine picture, fine altar, fine church," he said in English. At last they
stopped next the poor-box. As their coins clinked against those within,
he smiled serenely upon the good heretics. Then he bowed, and, as if he
had relapsed into the past, he vanished through the narrow door by which
he had entered.

Basil and Isabel stood speechless a moment on the church steps. Then she
cried,

"O, why didn't something happen?"

"Ah, my dear! what could have keen half so good as the nothing that did
happen? Suppose we knew him to have taken orders because of a
disappointment in love: how common it would have made him; everybody has
been crossed in love once or twice." He bade the driver take them back to
the hotel. "This is the very bouquet of adventure why should we care for
the grosser body? I dare say if we knew all about yonder pale young
priest, we should not think him half so interesting as we do now."

At dinner they spent the intervals of the courses in guessing the
nationality of the different persons, and in wondering if the Canadians
did not make it a matter of conscientious loyalty to out-English the
English even in the matter of pale-ale and sherry, and in rotundity of
person and freshness of face, just as they emulated them in the cut of
their clothes and whiskers. Must they found even their health upon the
health of the mother-country?

Our friends began to detect something servile in it all, and but that
they were such amiable persons, the loyally perfect digestion of Montreal
would have gone far to impair their own.

The loyalty, which had already appeared to them in the cathedral,
suggested itself in many ways upon the street, when they went out after
dinner to do that little shopping which Isabel had planned to do in
Montreal. The booksellers' windows were full of Canadian editions of our
authors, and English copies of English works, instead of our pirated
editions; the dry-goods stores were gay with fabrics in the London taste
and garments of the London shape; here was the sign of a photographer to
the Queen, there of a hatter to H. R. H. the Prince of Wales; a barber
was "under the patronage of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, H. E. the Duke
of Cambridge, and the gentry of Montreal." 'Ich dien' was the motto of a
restaurateur; a hosier had gallantly labeled his stock in trade with
'Honi soit qui mal y pense'. Again they noted the English solidity of the
civic edifices, and already they had observed in the foreign population a
difference from that at home. They saw no German faces on the streets,
and the Irish faces had not that truculence which they wear sometimes
with us. They had not lost their native simpleness and kindliness; the
Irishmen who drove the public carriages were as civil as our own Boston
hackmen, and behaved as respectfully under the shadow of England here, as
they world have done under it in Ireland. The problem which vexes us
seems to have been solved pleasantly enough in Canada. Is it because the
Celt cannot brook equality; and where he has not an established and
recognized caste above him, longs to trample on those about him; and if
he cannot be lowest, will at least be highest?

However, our friends did not suffer this or any other advantage of the
colonial relation to divert them from the opinion to which their
observation was gradually bringing them,--that its overweening loyalty
placed a great country like Canada in s very silly attitude, the attitude
of an overgrown, unmanly boy, clinging to the maternal skirts, and though
spoilt and willful, without any character of his own. The constant
reference of local hopes to that remote centre beyond seas, the test of
success by the criterions of a necessarily different civilization, the
social and intellectual dependence implied by traits that meet the most
hurried glance in the Dominion, give an effect of meanness to the whole
fabric. Doubtless it is a life of comfort, of peace, of irresponsibility
they live there, but it lacks the grandeur which no sum of material
prosperity can give; it is ignoble, like all voluntarily subordinate
things. Somehow, one feels that it has no basis in the New World, and
that till it is shaken loose from England it cannot have.

It would be a pity, however, if it should be parted from the parent
country merely to be joined to an unsympathetic half-brother like
ourselves and nothing, fortunately, seems to be further from the Canadian
mind. There are some experiments no longer possible to us which could
still be tried there to the advantage of civilization, and we were better
two great nations side by side than a union of discordant traditions and
ideas. But none the less does the American traveller, swelling with
forgetfulness of the shabby despots who govern New York, and the
swindling railroad kings whose word is law to the whole land, feel like
saying to the hulling young giant beyond St. Lawrence and the Lakes,
"Sever the apron-strings of allegiance, and try to be yourself whatever
you are."

Something of this sort Basil said, though of course not in apostrophic
phrase, nor with Isabel's entire concurrence, when he explained to her
that it was to the colonial dependence of Canada she owed the ability to
buy things so cheaply there.

The fact is that the ladies' parlor at the hotel had been after dinner no
better than a den of smugglers, in which the fair contrabandists had
debated the best means of evading the laws of their country. At heart
every man is a smuggler, and how much more every woman! She would have no
scruple in ruining the silk and woolen interest throughout the United
States. She is a free-trader by intuitive perception of right, and is
limited in practice by nothing but fear of the statute. What could be
taken into the States without detection, was the subject before that
wicked conclave; and next, what it would pay to buy in Canada. It seemed
that silk umbrellas were most eligible wares; and in the display of such
purchases the parlor was given the appearance of a violent thunder-storm.
Gloves it was not advisable to get; they were better at home, as were
many kinds of fine woolen goods. But laces, which you could carry about
you, were excellent; and so was any kind of silk. Could it be carried if
simply cut, and not made up? There was a difference about this: the
friend of one lady had taken home half a trunkful of cut silks; the
friend of another had "run up the breadths" of one lone little silk
skirt, and then lost it by the rapacity of the customs officers. It was
pretty much luck, and whether the officers happened to be in good-humor
or not. You must not try to take in anything out of season, however. One
had heard of a Boston lady going home in July, who "had the furs taken
off her back," in that inclement month. Best get everything seasonable,
and put it on at once. "And then, you know, if they ask you, you can say
it's been worn." To this black wisdom came the combined knowledge of
those miscreants. Basil could not repress a shudder at the innate
depravity of the female heart. Here were virgins nurtured in the most
spotless purity of life, here were virtuous mothers of families, here
were venerable matrons, patterns in society and the church,--smugglers to
a woman, and eager for any guilty subterfuge! He glanced at Isabel to see
what effect the evil conversation had upon her. Her eyes sparkled; her
cheeks glowed; all the woman was on fire for smuggling. He sighed heavily
and went out with her to do the little shopping.

Shall I follow them upon their excursion? Shopping in Montreal is very
much what it is in Boston or New York, I imagine, except that the clerks
have a more honeyed sweetness of manners towards the ladies of our
nation, and are surprisingly generous constructionists of our revenue
laws. Isabel had profited by every word that she had heard in the ladies'
parlor, and she would not venture upon unsafe ground; but her tender eyes
looked her unutterable longing to believe in the charming possibilities
that the clerks suggested. She bemoaned herself before the corded silks,
which there was no time to have made up; the piece-velvets and the linens
smote her to the heart. But they also stimulated her invention, and she
bought and bought of the made-up wares in real or fancied needs, till
Basil represented that neither their purses nor their trunks could stand
any more. "O, don't be troubled about the trunks, dearest," she cried,
with that gayety which nothing but shopping can kindle in a woman's
heart; while he faltered on from counter to counter, wondering at which
he should finally swoon from fatigue. At last, after she had declared
repeatedly, "There, now, I am done," she briskly led the way back to the
hotel to pack up her purchases.

Basil parted with her at the door. He was a man of high principle
himself, and that scene in the smugglers' den, and his wife's preparation
for transgression, were revelations for which nothing could have consoled
him but a paragon umbrella for five dollars, and an excellent business
suit of Scotch goods for twenty.

When some hours later he sat with Isabel on the forward promenade of the
steamboat for Quebec, and summed up the profits of their shopping, they
were both in the kindliest mood towards the poor Canadians, who had built
the admirable city before them.

For miles the water front of Montreal is superbly faced with quays and
locks of solid stone masonry, and thus she is clean and beautiful to the
very feet. Stately piles of architecture, instead of the foul old
tumble-down warehouses that dishonor the waterside in most cities, rise
from the broad wharves; behind these spring the twin towers of Notre
Dame, and the steeples of the other churches above the city roofs.

"It's noble, yes, it's noble, after the best that Europe can show," said
Isabel, with enthusiasm; "and what a pleasant day we've had here! Doesn't
even our quarrel show 'couleur de rose' in this light?"

"One side of it," answered Basil, dreamily, "but all the rest is black."

"What do you mean, my dear?"

"Why, the Nelson Monument, with the sunset on it at the head of the
street there."

The affect was so fine that Isabel could not be angry with him for
failing to heed what she had said, and she mused a moment with him.

"It seems rather far-fetched," she said presently, "to erect a monument
to Nelson in Montreal, doesn't it? But then, it's a very absurd monument
when you're near it," she added, thoughtfully.

Basil did not answer at once, for gazing on this Nelson column in Jacques
Cartier Square, his thoughts wandered away, not to the hero of the Nile,
but to the doughty old Breton navigator, the first white man who ever set
foot upon that shore, and who more than three hundred years ago explored
the St. Lawrence as far as Montreal, and in the splendid autumn weather
climbed to the top of her green height and named it. The scene that
Jacques Cartier then beheld, like a mirage of the fast projected upon the
present, floated before him, and he saw at the mountain's foot the Indian
city of Hochelaga, with its vast and populous lodges of bark, its
encircling palisades, and its wide outlying fields of yellow maize. He
heard with Jacques Cartier's sense the blare of his followers' trumpets
down in the open square of the barbarous city, where the soldiers of many
an Old-World fight, "with mustached lip and bearded chin, with arquebuse
and glittering halberd, helmet, and cuirass," moved among the plumed and
painted savages; then he lifted Jacques Cartier's eyes, and looked out
upon the magnificent landscape. "East, wept, and north, the mantling
forest was over all, and the broad blue ribbon of the great river
glistened amid a realm of verdure. Beyond, to the bounds of Mexico,
stretched a leafy desert, and the vast hive of industry, the mighty
battle-ground of late; centuries, lay sunk in savage torpor, wrapped in
illimitable woods."

A vaguer picture of Champlain, who, seeking a westward route to China and
the East, some three quarters of a century later, had fixed the first
trading-post at Montreal, and camped upon the spot where the convent of
the Gray Nuns now stands, appeared before him, and vanished with all its
fleets of fur-traders' boats and hunters' birch canoes, and the
watch-fires of both; and then in the sweet light of the spring morning,
he saw Maisonneuve leaping ashore upon the green meadows, that spread all
gay with early flowers where Hochelaga once stood, and with the
black-robed Jesuits, the high-born, delicately nurtured, and devoted
nuns, and the steel-clad soldiers of his train, kneeling about the altar
raised there in the wilderness, and silent amidst the silence of nature
at the lifted Host.

He painted a semblance of all this for Isabel, using the colors of the
historian who has made these scenes the beautiful inheritance of all
dream era, and sketched the battles, the miracles, the sufferings, and
the penances through which the pious colony was preserved and prospered,
till they both grew impatient of modern Montreal, and would fain have had
the ancient Villemarie back in its place.

"Think of Maisonneuve, dearest, climbing in midwinter to the top of the
mountain there, under a heavy cross set with the bones of saints, and
planting it on the summit, in fulfillment of a vow to do so if Villemarie
were saved from the freshet; and then of Madame de la Peltrie
romantically receiving the sacrament there, while all Villemarie fell
down adoring! Ah, that was a picturesque people! When did ever a Boston
governor climb to the top of Beacon hill in fulfillment of a vow? To be
sure, we may yet see a New York governor doing something of the kind--if
he can find a hill. But this ridiculous column to Nelson, who never had
anything to do with Montreal," he continued; "it really seems to me the
perfect expression of snobbish colonial dependence and sentimentality,
seeking always to identify itself with the mother-country, and ignoring
the local past and its heroic figures. A column to Nelson in Jacques
Cartier Square, on the ground that was trodden by Champlain, and won for
its present masters by the death of Wolfe."

The boat departed on her trip to Quebec. During supper they were served
by French waiters, who, without apparent English of their own,
miraculously understood that of the passengers, except in the case of the
furious gentleman who wanted English breakfast tea; to so much English as
that their inspiration did not reach, and they forced him to compromise
on coffee. It was a French boat, owned by a French company, and seemed to
be officered by Frenchmen throughout; certainly, as our tourists in the
joy of their good appetites affirmed, the cook was of that culinarily
delightful nation.

The boat was almost as large as those of the Hudson, but it was not so
lavishly splendid, though it had everything that could minister to the
comfort and self-respect of the passengers. These were of all nations,
but chiefly Americans, with some French Canadians. The former gathered on
the forward promenade, enjoying what little of the landscape the growing
night left visible, and the latter made society after their manner in the
saloon. They were plain-looking men and women, mostly, and provincial, it
was evident, to their inmost hearts; provincial in origin, provincial by
inheritance, by all their circumstances, social and political. Their
relation with France was not a proud one, but it was not like submersion
by the slip-slop of English colonial loyalty; yet they seem to be
troubled by no memories of their hundred years' dominion of the land that
they rescued from, the wilderness, and that was wrested from them by war.
It is a strange fate for any people thus to have been cut off from the
parent-country, and abandoned to whatever destiny their conquerors chose
to reserve for them; and if each of the race wore the sadness and
strangeness of that fate in his countenance it would not be wonderful.
Perhaps it is wonderful that none of them shows anything of the kind. In
their desertion they have multiplied and prospered; they may have a
national grief, but they hide it well; and probably they have none.

Later, one of them appeared to Isabel in the person of the pale, slender
young ecclesiastic who had shown her and Basil the pictures in the
country church. She was confessing to the priest, and she was not at all
surprised to find that he was Basil in a suit of medieval armor. He had
an immense cross on his shoulder.

"To get this cross to the top of the mountain," thought Isabel, "we must
have two horses. Basil," she added, aloud, "we must have two horses!"

"Ten, if you like, my dear," answered his voice, cheerfully, "though I
think we'd better ride up in the omnibus."

She opened her eyes, and saw him smiling.

"We're in sight of Quebec," he said. "Come out as soon as you can,--come
out into the seventeenth century."




IX. QUEBEC.

Isabel hurried out upon the forward promenade, where all the other
passengers seemed to be assembled, and beheld a vast bulk of gray and
purple rock, swelling two hundred feet up from the mists of the river,
and taking the early morning light warm upon its face and crown.
Black-hulked, red-illumined Liverpool steamers, gay river-craft and ships
of every sail and flag, filled the stream athwart which the ferries sped
their swift traffic-laden shuttles; a lower town hung to the foot of the
rock, and crept, populous and picturesque, up its sides; from the massive
citadel on its crest flew the red banner of Saint George, and along its
brow swept the gray wall of the famous, heroic, beautiful city,
overtopped by many a gleaming spire and antique roof.

Slowly out of our work-day, business-suited, modern world the vessel
steamed up to this city of an olden time and another ideal,--to her who
was a lady from the first, devout and proud and strong, and who still,
after two hundred and fifty years, keeps perfect the image and memory of
the feudal past from which she sprung. Upon her height she sits unique;
and when you say Quebec, having once beheld her, you invoke a sense of
medieval strangeness and of beauty which the name of no other city could
intensify.

As they drew near the steamboat wharf they saw, swarming over a broad
square, a market beside which the Bonsecours Market would have shown as
common as the Quincy, and up the odd wooden-sidewalked street stretched
an aisle of carriages and those high swung calashes, which are to Quebec
what the gondolas are to Venice. But the hand of destiny was upon our
tourists, and they rode up town in an omnibus. They were going to the
dear old Hotel Musty in Street, wanting which Quebec is not to be thought
of without a pang. It is now closed, and Prescott Gate, through which
they drove into the Upper Town, has been demolished since the summer of
last year. Swiftly whirled along the steep winding road, by those Quebec
horses which expect to gallop up hill whatever they do going down, they
turned a corner of the towering weed-grown rock, and shot in under the
low arch of the gate, pierced with smaller doorways for the
foot-passengers. The gloomy masonry dripped with damp, the doors were
thickly studded with heavy iron spikes; old cannon, thrust endwise into
the ground at the sides of the gate, protected it against passing wheels.
Why did not some semi-forbidding commissary of police, struggling hard to
overcome his native politeness, appear and demand their passports? The
illusion was otherwise perfect, and it needed but this touch. How often
in the adored Old World, which we so love and disapprove, had they driven
in through such gates at that morning hour! On what perverse pretext,
then, was it not some ancient town of Normandy?

"Put a few enterprising Americans in here, and they'd soon rattle this
old wall down and let in a little fresh air!" said a patriotic voice at
Isabel's elbow, and continued to find fault with the narrow irregular
streets, the huddling gables, the quaint roofs, through which and under
which they drove on to the hotel.

As they dashed into a broad open square, "Here is the French Cathedral;
there is the Upper Town Market; yonder are the Jesuit Barracks!" cried
Basil; and they had a passing glimpse of gray stone towers at one side of
the square, and a low, massive yellow building at the other, and, between
the two, long ranks of carts, and fruit and vegetable stands, protected
by canvas awnings and broad umbrellas. Then they dashed round the corner
of a street, and drew up before the hotel door. The low ceilings, the
thick walls, the clumsy wood-work, the wandering corridors, gave the
hotel all the desired character of age, and its slovenly state bestowed
an additional charm. In another place they might have demanded neatness,
but in Quebec they would almost have resented it. By a chance they had
the best room in the house, but they held it only till certain people who
had engaged it by telegraph should arrive in the hourly expected steamer
from Liverpool; and, moreover, the best room at Hotel Musty was
consolingly bad. The house was very full, and the Ellisons (who had come
on with them from Montreal) were bestowed in less state only on like
conditions.

The travellers all met at breakfast, which was admirably cooked, and well
served, with the attendance of those swarms of flies which infest Quebec.
and especially infested the old Musty House, in summer. It had, of
course, the attraction of broiled salmon, upon which the traveller
breakfasts every day as long as he remains in Lower Canada; and it
represented the abundance of wild berries in the Quebec market; and it
was otherwise a breakfast worthy of the appetites that honored it.

There were not many other Americans besides themselves at this hotel,
which seemed, indeed, to be kept open to oblige such travellers as had
been there before, and could not persuade themselves to try the new Hotel
St. Louis, whither the vastly greater number resorted. Most of the faces
our tourists saw were English or English-Canadian, and the young people
from Omaha; who had got here by some chance, were scarcely in harmony
with the place. They appeared to be a bridal party, but which of the two
sisters, in buff linen 'clad from head to foot' was the bride, never
became known. Both were equally free with the husband, and he was
impartially fond of both: it was quite a family affair.

For a moment Isabel harbored the desire to see the city in company with
Miss Ellison; but it was only a passing weakness. She remembered directly
the coolness between friends which she had seen caused by objects of
interest in Europe, and she wisely deferred a more intimate acquaintance
till it could have a purely social basis. After all, nothing is so
tiresome as continual exchange of sympathy or so apt to end in mutual
dislike,--except gratitude. So the ladies parted friends till dinner, and
drove off in separate carriages.

As in other show cities, there is a routine at Quebec for travellers who
come on Saturday and go on Monday, and few depart from it. Our friends
necessarily, therefore, drove first to the citadel. It was raining one of
those cold rains by which the scarce-banished winter reminds the Canadian
fields of his nearness even in midsummer, though between the bitter
showers the air was sultry and close; and it was just the light in which
to see the grim strength of the fortress next strongest to Gibraltar in
the world. They passed a heavy iron gateway, and up through a winding
lane of masonry to the gate of the citadel, where they were delivered
into the care of Private Joseph Drakes, who was to show them such parts
of the place as are open to curiosity. But, a citadel which has never
stood a siege, or been threatened by any danger more serious than
Fenianism, soon becomes, however strong, but a dull piece of masonry to
the civilian; and our tourists more rejoiced in the crumbling fragment of
the old French wall which the English destroyed than in all they had
built; and they valued the latter work chiefly for the glorious prospects
of the St. Lawrence and its mighty valleys which it commanded. Advanced
into the centre of an amphitheatre inconceivably vast, that enormous beak
of rock overlooks the narrow angle of the river, and then, in every
direction, immeasurable stretches of gardened vale, and wooded upland,
till all melts into the purple of the encircling mountains. Far and near
are lovely white villages nestling under elms, in the heart of fields and
meadows; and everywhere the long, narrow, accurately divided farms
stretch downward to the river-shores. The best roads on the continent
make this beauty and richness accessible; each little village boasts some
natural wonder in stream, or lake, or cataract: and this landscape,
magnificent beyond any in eastern America, is historical and interesting
beyond all others. Hither came Jacques Cartier three hundred and fifty
years ago, and wintered on the low point there by the St. Charles; here,
nearly a century after, but still fourteen years before the landing at
Plymouth, Champlain founded the missionary city of Quebec; round this
rocky beak came sailing the half-piratical armament of the Calvinist
Kirks in 1629, and seized Quebec in the interest of the English, holding
it three years; in the Lower Town, yonder, first landed the coldly
welcomed Jesuits, who came with the returning French and made Quebec
forever eloquent of their zeal, their guile, their heroism; at the foot
of this rock lay the fleet of Sir William Phipps, governor of
Massachusetts, and vainly assailed it in 1698; in 1759 came Wolfe and
embattled all the region, on river and land, till at last the bravely
defended city fell into his dying hand on the Plains of Abraham; here
Montgomery laid down his life at the head of the boldest and most
hopeless effort of our War of Independence.

Private Joseph Drakes, with the generosity of an enemy expecting
drink-money, pointed out the sign, board on the face of the crag
commemorating 'Montgomery's death'; and then showed them the officers'
quarters and those of the common soldiers, not far from which was a line
of hang-dog fellows drawn up to receive sentence for divers small
misdemeanors, from an officer whose blond whiskers drooped Dundrearily
from his fresh English cheeks. There was that immense difference between
him and the men in physical grandeur and beauty, which is so notable in
the aristocratically ordered military services of Europe, and which makes
the rank seem of another race from the file. Private Drakes saluted his
superior, and visibly deteriorated in his presence, though his breast was
covered with medals, and he had fought England's battles in every part of
the world. It was a gross injustice, the triumph of a thousand years of
wrong; and it was touching to have Private Drakes say that he expected in
three months to begin life for himself, after twenty years' service of
the Queen; and did they think he could get anything to do in the States?
He scarcely knew what he was fit for, but he thought--to so little in him
came the victories he had helped to win in the Crimea, in China, and in
India--that he coald take care of a gentleman's horse and work about his
place. He looked inquiringly at Basil, as if he might be a gentleman with
a horse to be taken care of and a place to be worked about, and made him
regret that he was not a man of substance enough to provide for Private
Drakes and Mrs. Drakes and the brood of Ducklings, who had been shown to
him stowed away in one of those cavernous rooms in the earthworks where
the married soldiers have their quarters. His regret enriched the reward
of Private Drakes' service,--which perhaps answered one of Private
Drakes' purposes, if not his chief aim. He promised to come to the States
upon the pressing advice of Isabel, who, speaking from her own large
experience, declared that everybody got on there,--and he bade our
friends an affectionate farewell as they drove away to the Plains of
Abraham.

The fashionable suburban cottages and places of Quebec are on the St.
Louis Road leading northward to the old battle-ground and beyond it; but,
these face chiefly towards the rivers St. Lawrence and St. Charles, and
lofty hedges and shrubbery hide them in an English seclusion from the
highway; so that the visitor may uninterruptedly meditate whatever
emotion he will for the scene of Wolfe's death as he rides along. His
loftiest emotion will want the noble height of that heroic soul, who must
always stand forth in history a figure of beautiful and singular
distinction, admirable alike for the sensibility and daring, the poetic
pensiveness, and the martial ardor that mingled in him and taxed his
feeble frame with tasks greater than it could bear. The whole story of
the capture of Quebec is full of romantic splendor and pathos. Her fall
was a triumph for all the English-speaking race, and to us Americans,
long scourged by the cruel Indian wars plotted within her walls or
sustained by her strength, such a blessing as was hailed with ringing
bells and blazing bonfires throughout the Colonies; yet now we cannot
think without pity of the hopes extinguished and the labors brought to
naught in her overthrow. That strange colony of priests and soldiers, of
martyrs and heroes, of which she was the capital, willing to perish for
an allegiance to which the mother-country was indifferent, and fighting
against the armies with which England was prepared to outnumber the whole
Canadian population, is a magnificent spectacle; and Montcalm laying down
his life to lose Quebec is not less affecting than Wolfe dying to win
her. The heart opens towards the soldier who recited, on the eve of his
costly victory, the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," which he would
"rather have written than beat the French to-morrow;" but it aches for
the defeated general, who, hurt to death, answered, when told how brief
his time was, "So much the better; then I shall not live to see the
surrender of Quebec."

In the city for which they perished their fame has never been divided.
The English have shown themselves very generous victors; perhaps nothing
could be alleged against them, but that they were victors. A shaft common
to Wolfe and Montcalm celebrates them both in the Governor's Garden; and
in the Chapel of the Ursuline Convent a tablet is placed, where Montcalm
died, by the same conquerors who raised to Wolfe's memory the column on
the battle-field.

A dismal prison covers the ground where the hero fell, and the monument
stands on the spot where Wolfe breathed his last, on ground lower than
the rest of the field; the friendly hollow that sheltered him from the
fire of the French dwarfs his monument; yet it is sufficient, and the
simple inscription, "Here died Wolfe victorious," gives it a dignity
which many cubits of added stature could not bestow. Another of those
bitter showers, which had interspersed the morning's sunshine, drove
suddenly across the open plain, and our tourists comfortably
sentimentalized the scene behind the close-drawn curtains of their
carriage. Here a whole empire had been lost and won, Basil reminded
Isabel; and she said, "Only think of it!" and looked to a wandering fold
of her skirt, upon which the rain beat through a rent of the curtain.

Do I pitch the pipe too low? We poor honest men are at a sad
disadvantage; and now and then I am minded to give a loose to fancy, and
attribute something really grand and fine to my people, in order to make
them worthier the reader's respected acquaintance. But again, I forbid
myself in a higher interest; and I am afraid that even if I were less
virtuous, I could not exalt their mood upon a battle-field; for of all
things of the past a battle is the least conceivable. I have heard men
who fought in many battles say that the recollection was like a dream to
them; and what can the merely civilian imagination do on the Plains of
Abraham, with the fact that there, more than a century ago, certain
thousands of Frenchmen marched out, on a bright September morning, to
kill and maim as many Englishmen? This ground, so green and oft with
grass beneath the feet, was it once torn with shot and soaked with the
blood of men? Did they lie here in ranks and heaps, the miserable slain,
for whom tender hearts away yonder over the sea were to ache and break?
Did the wretches that fell wounded stretch themselves here, and writhe
beneath the feet of friend and foe, or crawl array for shelter into
little hollows, and behind gushes and fallen trees! Did he, whose soul
was so full of noble and sublime impulses, die here, shot through like
some ravening beast? The loathsome carnage, the shrieks, the hellish din
of arms, the cries of victory,--I vainly strive to conjure up some image
of it all now; and God be thanked, horrible spectre! that, fill the world
with sorrow as thou wilt, thou still remainest incredible in its moments
of sanity and peace. Least credible art thou on the old battle-fields,
where the mother of the race denies thee with breeze and sun and leaf and
bird, and every blade of grass! The red stain in Basil's thought yielded
to the rain sweeping across the pasture-land from which it had long since
faded, and the words on the monument, "Here died Wolfe victorious," did
not proclaim his bloody triumph over the French, but his self-conquest,
his victory over fear and pain and love of life. Alas! when shall the
poor, blind, stupid world honor those who renounce self in the joy of
their kind, equally with those who devote themselves through the anguish
and loss of thousands? So old a world and groping still!

The tourists were better fitted for the next occasion of sentiment, which
was at the Hotel Dieu whither they went after returning from the
battlefield. It took all the mal-address of which travellers are masters
to secure admittance, and it was not till they had rung various wrong
bells, and misunderstood many soft nun-voices speaking French through
grated doors, and set divers sympathetic spectators doing ineffectual
services, that they at last found the proper entrance, and were answered
in English that the porter would ask if they might see the chapel. They
hoped to find there the skull of Brebeuf, one of those Jesuit martyrs who
perished long ago for the conversion of a race that has perished, and
whose relics they had come, fresh from their reading of Parkman, with
some vague and patronizing intention to revere. An elderly sister with a
pale, kind face led them through a ward of the hospital into the chapel,
which they found in the expected taste, and exquisitely neat and cool,
but lacking the martyr's skull. They asked if it were not to be seen.
"Ah, yes, poor Pere Brebeuf!" sighed the gentle sister, with the tone and
manner of having lost him yesterday; "we had it down only last week,
showing it to some Jesuit fathers; but it's in the convent now, and isn't
to be seen." And there mingled apparently in her regret for Pere Brebeuf
a confusing sense of his actual state as a portable piece of furniture.
She would not let them praise the chapel. It was very clean, yes, but
there was nothing to see in it. She deprecated their compliments with
many shrugs, but she was pleased; for when we renounce the pomps and
vanities of this world, we are pretty sure to find them in some
other,--if we are women. She, good and pure soul, whose whole life was
given to self-denying toil, had yet something angelically coquettish in
her manner, a spiritual-worldliness which was the clarified likeness of
this-worldliness. O, had they seen the Hotel Dieu at Montreal? Then (with
a vivacious wave of the hands) they would not care to look at this, which
by comparison was nothing. Yet she invited them to go through the wards
if they would, and was clearly proud to have them see the wonderful
cleanness and comfort of the place. There were not many patients, but
here and there a wan or fevered face looked at them from its pillow, or a
weak form drooped beside a bed, or a group of convalescents softly talked
together. They came presently to the last hall, at the end of which sat
another nun, beside a window that gave a view of the busy port, and
beyond it the landscape of village-lit plain and forest-darkened height.
On a table at her elbow stood a rose-tree, on which hung two only pale
tea-roses, so fair, so perfect, that Isabel cried out in wonder and
praise. Ere she could prevent it, the nun, to whom there had been some
sort of presentation, gathered one of the roses, and with a shy grace
offered it to Isabel, who shrank back a little as from too costly a gift.
"Take it," said the first nun, with her pretty French accent; while the
other, who spoke no English at all, beamed a placid smile; and Isabel
took it. The flower, lying light in her palm, exhaled a delicate odor,
and a thrill of exquisite compassion for it trembled through her heart,
as if it had been the white, cloistered life of the silent nun: with its
pallid loveliness, it was as a flower that had taken the veil. It could
never have uttered the burning passion of a lover for his mistress; the
nightingale could have found no thorn on it to press his aching poet's
heart against; but sick and weary eyes had dwelt gratefully upon it; at
most it might have expressed, like a prayer, the nun's stainless love of
some favorite saint in paradise. Cold, and pale, and sweet,--was it
indeed only a flower, this cloistered rose of the Hotel Dieu?

"Breathe it," said the gentle Gray Sister; "sometimes the air of the
hospital offends. Not us, no; we are used; but you come from the
outside." And she gave her rose for this humble use as lovingly as she
devoted herself to her lowly taxes.

"It is very little to see," she said at the end; "but if you are pleased,
I am very glad. Goodby, good-by!" She stood with her arms folded, and
watched them out of sight with her kind, coquettish little smile, and
then the mute, blank life of the nun resumed her.

From Hotel Dieu to Hotel Musty it was but a step; both were in the same
street; but our friends fancied themselves to have come an immense
distance when they sat down at an early dinner, amidst the clash of
crockery and cutlery, and looked round upon all the profane travelling
world assembled. Their regard presently fixed upon one company which
monopolized a whole table, and were defined from the other diners by
peculiarities as marked as those of the Soeurs Grises themselves. There
were only two men among some eight or ten women; one of the former had a
bad amiable face, with eyes full of a merry deviltry; the other, clean.
shaven, and dark, was demure and silent as a priest. The ladies were of
various types, but of one effect, with large rolling eyes, and faces that
somehow regarded the beholder as from a distance, and with an impartial
feeling for him as for an element of publicity. One of them, who caressed
a lapdog with one hand while she served herself with the other, was, as
she seemed to believe, a blonde; she had pale blue eyes, and her hair was
cut in front so as to cover her forehead with a straggling sandy-colored
fringe. She had an English look, and three or four others, with dark
complexion and black, unsteady eyes, and various abandon of back-hair,
looked like Cockney houris of Jewish blood; while two of the lovely
company were clearly of our own nation, as was the young man with the
reckless laughing face. The ladies were dressed and jeweled with a kind
of broad effectiveness, which was to the ordinary style of society what
scene-painting is to painting, and might have borne close inspection no
better. They seemed the best-humored people in the world, and on the
kindliest terms with each other. The waiters shared their pleasant mood,
and served them affectionately, and were now and then invited to join in
the gay talk which babbled on over dislocated aspirates, and filled the
air with a sentiment of vagabond enjoyment, of the romantic freedom of
violated convention, of something Gil Blas-like, almost picaresque.

If they had needed explanation it would have been given by the
announcement in the office of the hotel that a troupe of British blondes
was then appearing in Quebec for one week only.

After dinner they took possession of the parlor, and while one strummed
fitfully upon the ailing hotel piano, the rest talked, and talked shop,
of course, as all of us do when several of a trade are got together.

"W'at," said the eldest of the dark-faced, black haired British blondes
of Jewish race,--"w'at are we going to give at Montrehal?"

"We're going to give 'Pygmalion,' at Montrehal," answered the British
blonde of American birth, good-humoredly burlesquing the erring h of her
sister.

"But we cahn't, you know," said the lady with the fringed forehead;
"Hagnes is gone on to New York, and there's nobody to do Wenus."

"Yes, you know," demanded the first speaker, "oo's to do Wenus?

"Bella's to do Wenus," said a third.

There was an outcry at this, and "'Ow ever would she get herself up for
'Venus?" and "W'at a guy she'll look!" and "Nonsense! Bella's too 'eavy
for Venus!" came from different lively critics; and the debate threatened
to become too intimate for the public ear, when one of their gentlemen
came in and said, "Charley don't seem so well this afternoon." On this
the chorus changed its note, and at the proposal, "Poor Charley, let 's
go and cheer 'im hop a bit," the whole good-tempered company trooped out
of the parlor together.

Our tourists meant to give the rest of the afternoon to that sort of
aimless wandering to and fro about the streets which seizes a foreign
city unawares, and best develops its charm of strangeness. So they went
out and took their fill of Quebec with appetites keen through long
fasting from the quaint and old, and only sharpened by Montreal, and
impartially rejoiced in the crooked up-and-down hill streets; the
thoroughly French domestic architecture of a place that thus denied
having been English for a hundred years; the porte-cocheres beside every
house; the French names upon the doors, and the oddity of the bellpulls;
the rough-paved, rattling streets; the shining roofs of tin, and the
universal dormer-windows; the littleness of the private houses, and the
greatness of the high-walled and garden-girdled convents; the breadths of
weather-stained city wall, and the shaggy cliff beneath; the batteries,
with their guns peacefully staring through loop-holes of masonry, and the
red-coated sergeants flirting with nursery-maids upon the carriages,
while the children tumbled about over the pyramids of shot and shell; the
sloping market-place before the cathedral, where yet some remnant of the
morning's traffic lingered under canvas canopies, and where Isabel bought
a bouquet of marigolds and asters of an old woman peasant enough to have
sold it in any market-place of Europe; the small, dark shops beyond the
quarter invaded by English retail trade; the movement of all the strange
figures of cleric and lay and military life; the sound of a foreign
speech prevailing over the English; the encounter of other tourists, the
passage back and forth through the different city gates; the public
wooden stairways, dropping flight after flight from the Upper to the
Lower Town; the bustle of the port, with its commerce and shipping and
seafaring life huddled close in under the hill; the many desolate streets
of the Lower Town, as black and ruinous as the last great fire left them;
and the marshy meadows beyond, memorable of Recollets and Jesuits, of
Cartier and Montcalm.

They went to the chapel of the Seminary at Laval University, and admired
the Le Brun, and the other paintings of less merit, but equal interest
through their suggestion of a whole dim religious world of paintings; and
then they spent half an hour in the cathedral, not so much in looking at
the Crucifixion by Vandyck which is there, as in reveling amid the
familiar rococo splendors of the temple. Every swaggering statue of a
saint, every rope-dancing angel, every cherub of those that on the carven
and gilded clouds above the high altar float--

     "Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,"--

was precious to them; the sacristan dusting the sacred properties with a
feather brush, and giving each shrine a business-like nod as he passed,
was as a long-lost brother; they had hearts of aggressive tenderness for
the young girls and old women who stepped in for a half-hour's devotion,
and for the men with bourgeois or peasant faces, who stole a moment from
affairs and crops, and gave it to the saints. There was nothing in the
place that need remind them of America, and its taste was exactly that of
a thousand other churches of the eighteenth century. They could easily
have believed themselves in the farthest Catholic South, but for the two
great porcelain stoves that stood on either side of the nave near the
entrance, and that too vividly reminded them of the possibility of cold.

In fact, Quebec is a little painful in this and other confusions of the
South and North, and one never quite reconciles himself to them. The
Frenchmen, who expected to find there the climate of their native land,
and ripen her wines in as kindly a sun, have perpetuated the image of
home in so many things, that it goes to the heart with a painful emotion
to find the sad, oblique light of the North upon them. As you ponder some
characteristic aspect of Quebec,--a bit of street with heavy stone houses
opening upon a stretch of the city wall, with a Lombardy poplar rising
slim against it,--you say, to your satisfied soul, "Yes, it is the real
thing!" and then all at once a sense of that Northern sky strikes in upon
you, and makes the reality a mere picture. The sky is blue, the sun is
often fiercely hot; you could not perhaps prove that the pathetic
radiance is not an efflux of your own consciousness that summer is but
hanging over the land, briefly poising on wings which flit at the first
dash of rain, and will soon vanish in long retreat before the snow. But
somehow, from without or from within, that light of the North is there.

It lay saddest, our travellers thought, upon the little circular garden
near Durham Terrace, where every brightness of fall flowers
abounded,--marigold, coxcomb, snap-dragon, dahlia, hollyhock, and
sunflower. It was a substantial and hardy efflorescence, and they fancied
that fainter-hearted plants would have pined away in that garden, where
the little fountain, leaping up into the joyless light, fell back again
with a musical shiver. The consciousness of this latent cold, of winter
only held in abeyance by the bright sun, was not deeper even in the once
magnificent, now neglected Governor's Garden, where there was actually a
rawness in the late afternoon air, and whither they were strolling for
the view from its height, and to pay their duty to the obelisk raised
there to the common fame of Wolfe and Montcalm. The sounding Latin
inscription celebrates the royal governor-general who erected it almost
as much as the heroes to whom it was raised; but these spectators did not
begrudge the space given to his praise, for so fine a thought merited
praise. It enforced again the idea of a kind posthumous friendship
between Wolfe and Montcalm, which gives their memory its rare
distinction, and unites them, who fell in fight against each other, as
closely as if they had both died for the same cause.

Some lasting dignity seems to linger about the city that has once been a
capital; and this odor of fallen nobility belongs to Quebec, which was a
capital in the European sense, with all the advantages of a small
vice-regal court, and its social and political intrigues, in the French
times. Under the English, for a hundred years it was the centre of
Colonial civilization and refinement, with a governor-general's residence
and a brilliant, easy, and delightful society, to which the large
garrison of former days gave gayety and romance. The honors of a capital,
first shared with Montreal and Toronto, now rest with half-savage Ottawa;
and the garrison has dwindled to a regiment of rifles, whose presence
would hardly be known, but for the natty sergeants lounging, stick in
hand, about the streets and courting the nurse-maids. But in the days of
old there were scenes of carnival pleasure in the Governor's Garden, and
there the garrison band still plays once a week, when it is filled by the
fashion and beauty of Quebec, and some semblance of the past is recalled.
It is otherwise a lonesome, indifferently tended place, and on this
afternoon there was no one there but a few loafing young fellows of low
degree, French and English, and children that played screaming from seat
to seat and path to path and over the too-heavily shaded grass. In spite
of a conspicuous warning that any dog entering the garden would be
destroyed, the place was thronged with dogs unmolested and apparently in
no danger of the threatened doom. The seal of a disagreeable desolation
was given in the legend rudely carved upon one of the benches, "Success
to the Irish Republic!"

The morning of the next day our tourists gave to hearing mass at the
French cathedral, which was not different, to their heretical senses,
from any other mass, except that the ceremony was performed with a very
full clerical force, and was attended by an uncommonly devout
congregation. With Europe constantly in their minds, they were bewildered
to find the worshippers not chiefly old and young women, but men also of
all ages and of every degree, from the neat peasant in his Sabbath-day
best to the modish young Quebecker, who spread his handkerchief on the
floor to save his pantaloons during supplication. There was fashion and
education in large degree among the men, and there was in all a pious
attention to the function in poetical keeping with the origin and history
of a city which the zeal of the Church had founded.

A magnificent beadle, clothed in a gold-laced coat aid bearing a silver
staff, bowed to them when they entered, and, leading them to a pew,
punched up a kneeling peasant, who mutely resumed his prayers in the
aisle outside, while they took his place. It appeared to Isabel very
unjust that their curiosity should displace his religion; but she
consoled herself by making Basil give a shilling to the man who, preceded
by the shining beadle, came round to take up a collection. The peasant
could have given nothing but copper, and she felt that this restored the
lost balance of righteousness in their favor. There was a sermon, very
sweetly and gracefully delivered by a young priest of singular beauty,
even among clergy whose good looks are so notable as those of Quebec; and
then they followed the orderly crowd of worshippers out, and left the
cathedral to the sacristan and the odor of incense.

They thought the type of French-Canadian better here than at Montreal,
and they particularly noticed the greater number of pretty young girls.
All classes were well dressed; for though the best dressed could not be
called stylish according to the American standard, as Isabel decided, and
had only a provincial gentility, the poorest wore garments that were
clean and whole. Everybody, too, was going to have a hot Sunday dinner,
if there was any truth in the odors that steamed out of every door and
window; and this dinner was to be abundantly garnished with onions, for
the dullest nose could not err concerning that savor.

Numbers of tourists, of a nationality that showed itself superior to
every distinction of race, were strolling vaguely and not always quite
happily about; but they made no impression on the proper local character,
and the air throughout the morning was full of the sentiment of Sunday in
a Catholic city. There was the apparently meaningless jangling of bells,
with profound hushes between, and then more jubilant jangling, and then
deeper silence; there was the devout trooping of the crowds to the
churches; and there was the beginning of the long afternoon's lounging
and amusement with which the people of that faith reward their morning's
devotion. Little stands for the sale of knotty apples and choke-cherries
and cakes and cider sprang magically into existence after service, and
people were already eating and drinking at them. The carriage-drivers
resumed their chase of the tourists, and the unvoiceful stir of the new
week had begun again. Quebec, in fact, is but a pantomimic reproduction
of France; it is as if two centuries in a new land, amidst the primeval
silences of nature and the long hush of the Northern winters, had stilled
the tongues of the lively folk and made them taciturn as we of a graver
race. They have kept the ancestral vivacity of manner; the elegance of
the shrug is intact; the talking hands take part in dialogue; the
agitated person will have its share of expression. But the loud and eager
tone is wanting, and their dumb show mystifies the beholder almost as
much as the Southern architecture under the slanting Northern sun. It is
not America; if it is not France, what is it?

Of the many beautiful things to see in the neighborhood of Quebec, our
wedding-journeyers were in doubt on which to bestow their one precious
afternoon. Should it be Lorette, with its cataract and its remnant of
bleached and fading Hurons, or the Isle of Orleans with its fertile farms
and its primitive peasant life, or Montmorenci, with the unrivaled fall
and the long drive through the beautiful village of Beauport? Isabel
chose the last, because Basil had been there before, and it had to it the
poetry of the wasted years in which she did not know him. She had
possessed herself of the journal of his early travels, among the other
portions and parcels recoverable from the dreadful past, and from time to
time on this journey she had read him passages out of it, with mingled
sentiment and irony, and, whether she was mocking or admiring, equally to
his confusion. Now, as they smoothly bowled away from the city, she made
him listen to what he had written of the same excursion long ago.

It was, to be sure, a sad farrago of sentiment about the village and the
rural sights, and especially a girl tossing hay in the field. Yet it had
touches of nature and reality, and Basil could not utterly despise
himself for having written it. "Yes," he said, "life was then a thing to
be put into pretty periods; now it's something that has risks and
averages, and may be insured."

There was regret, fancied or expressed, in his tone, that made her sigh,
"Ah! if I'd only had a little more money, you might have devoted yourself
to literature;" for she was a true Bostonian in her honor of our poor
craft.

"O, you're not greatly to blame," answered her husband, "and I forgive
you the little wrong you've done me. I was quits with the Muse, at any
rate, you know, before we were married; and I'm very well satisfied to be
going back to my applications and policies to-morrow."

To-morrow? The word struck cold upon her. Then their wedding journey
would begin to end tomorrow! So it would, she owned with another sigh;
and yet it seemed impossible.

"There, ma'am," said the driver, rising from his seat and facing round,
while he pointed with his whip towards Quebec, "that's what we call the
Silver City."

They looked back with him at the city, whose thousands of tinned roofs,
rising one above the other from the water's edge to the citadel, were all
a splendor of argent light in the afternoon sun. It was indeed as if some
magic had clothed that huge rock, base and steepy flank and crest, with a
silver city. They gazed upon the marvel with cries of joy that satisfied
the driver's utmost pride in it, and Isabel said, "To live there, there
in that Silver City, in perpetual sojourn! To be always going to go on a
morrow that never came! To be forever within one day of the end of a
wedding journey that never ended!"

From far down the river by which they rode came the sound of a cannon,
breaking the Sabbath repose of the air. "That's the gun of the Liverpool
steamer, just coming in," said the driver.

"O," cried Isabel, "I'm thankful we're only to stay one night more, for
now we shall be turned out of our nice room by those people who
telegraphed for it!"

There is a continuous village along the St. Lawrence from Quebec, almost
to Montmorenci; and they met crowds of villagers coming from the church
as they passed through Beauport. But Basil was dismayed at the change
that had befallen them. They had their Sunday's best on, and the women,
instead of wearing the peasant costume in which he had first seen them,
were now dressed as if out of "Harper's Bazar" of the year before. He
anxiously asked the driver if the broad straw hats and the bright sacks
and kirtles were no more. "O, you'd see them on weekdays, sir," was the
answer, "but they're not so plenty any time as they used to be." He
opened his store of facts about the habitans, whom he praised for every
virtue,--for thrift, for sobriety, for neatness, for amiability; and his
words ought to have had the greater weight, because he was of the Irish
race, between which and the Canadians there is no kindness lost. But the
looks of the passers-by corroborated him, and as for the little houses,
open-doored beside the way, with the pleasant faces at window and portal,
they were miracles of picturesqueness and cleanliness. From each the
owner's slim domain, narrowing at every successive division among the
abundant generations, runs back to hill or river in well-defined lines,
and beside the cottage is a garden of pot-herbs, bordered with a flame of
bright autumn flowers; somewhere in decent seclusion grunts the fattening
pig, which is to enrich all those peas and onions for the winter's broth;
there is a cheerfulness of poultry about the barns; I dare be sworn there
is always a small girl driving a flock of decorous ducks down the middle
of the street; and of the priest with a book under his arm, passing a
way-side shrine, what possible doubt? The houses, which are of one model,
are built by the peasants themselves with the stone which their land
yields more abundantly than any other crop, and are furnished with
galleries and balconies to catch every ray of the fleeting summer, and
perhaps to remember the long-lost ancestral summers of Normandy. At every
moment, in passing through this ideally neat and pretty village, our
tourists must think of the lovely poem of which all French Canada seems
but a reminiscence and illustration. It was Grand Pre, not Beauport; and
they paid an eager homage to the beautiful genius which has touched those
simple village aspects with an undying charm, and which, whatever the
land's political allegiance, is there perpetual Seigneur.

The village, stretching along the broad interval of the St. Lawrence,
grows sparser as you draw near the Falls of Montmorenci, and presently
you drive past the grove shutting from the road the country-house in
which the Duke of Kent spent some merry days of his jovial youth, and
come in sight of two lofty towers of stone,--monuments and witnesses of
the tragedy of Montmorenci.

Once a suspension-bridge, built sorely against the will of the
neighboring habitans, hung from these towers high over the long plunge of
the cataract. But one morning of the fatal spring after the first
winter's frost had tried the hold of the cable on the rocks, an old
peasant and his wife with their little grandson set out in their cart to
pass the bridge. As they drew near the middle the anchoring wires
suddenly lost their grip upon the shore, and whirled into the air; the
bridge crashed under the hapless passengers and they were launched from
its height, upon the verge of the fall and thence plunged, two hundred
and fifty feet, into the ruin of the abyss.

The habitans rebuilt their bridge of wood upon low stone piers, so far up
the river from the cataract that whoever fell from it would yet have many
a chance for life; and it would have been perilous to offer to replace
the fallen structure, which, in the belief of faithful Christians,
clearly belonged to the numerous bridges built by the Devil, in times
when the Devil did not call himself a civil engineer.

The driver, with just unction, recounted the sad tale as he halted his
horses on the bridge; and as his passengers looked down the rock-fretted
brown torrent towards the fall, Isabel seized the occasion to shudder
that ever she had set foot on that suspension-bridge below Niagara, and
to prove to Basil's confusion that her doubt of the bridges between the
Three Sisters was not a case of nerves but an instinctive wisdom
concerning the unsafety of all bridges of that design.

From the gate opening into the grounds about the fall two or three little
French boys, whom they had not the heart to forbid, ran noisily before
them with cries in their sole English, "This way, sir" and led toward a
weather-beaten summer-house that tottered upon a projecting rock above
the verge of the cataract. But our tourists shook their heads, and turned
away for a more distant and less dizzy enjoyment of the spectacle, though
any commanding point was sufficiently chasmal and precipitous. The lofty
bluff was scooped inward from the St. Lawrence in a vast irregular
semicircle, with cavernous hollows, one within another, sinking far into
its sides, and naked from foot to crest, or meagrely wooded here and
there with evergreen. From the central brink of these gloomy purple
chasms the foamy cataract launched itself, and like a cloud,

     "Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem."

I say a cloud, because I find it already said to my hand, as it were, in
a pretty verse, and because I must needs liken Montmorenci to something
that is soft and light. Yet a cloud does not represent the glinting of
the water in its downward swoop; it is like some broad slope of
sun-smitten snow; but snow is coldly white and opaque, and this has a
creamy warmth in its luminous mass; and so, there hangs the cataract
unsaid as before. It is a mystery that anything so grand should be so
lovely, that anything so tenderly fair in whatever aspect should yet be
so large that one glance fails to comprehend it all. The rugged wildness
of the cliffs and hollows about it is softened by its gracious beauty,
which half redeems the vulgarity of the timber-merchant's uses in setting
the river at work in his saw-mills and choking its outlet into the St.
Lawrence with rafts of lumber and rubbish of slabs and shingles. Nay,
rather, it is alone amidst these things, and the eye takes note of them
by a separate effort.

Our tourists sank down upon the turf that crept with its white clover to
the edge of the precipice, and gazed dreamily upon the fall, filling
their vision with its exquisite color and form. Being wiser than I, they
did not try to utter its loveliness; they were content to feel it, and
the perfection of the afternoon, whose low sun slanting over the
landscape gave, under that pale, greenish-blue sky, a pensive sentiment
of autumn to the world. The crickets cried amongst the grass; the
hesitating chirp of birds came from the tree overhead; a shaggy colt left
off grazing in the field and stalked up to stare at them; their little
guides, having found that these people had no pleasure in the sight of
small boys scuffling on the verge of a precipice, threw themselves also
down upon the grass and crooned a long, long ballad in a mournful minor
key about some maiden whose name was La Belle Adeline. It was a moment of
unmixed enjoyment for every sense, and through all their being they were
glad; which considering, they ceased to be so, with a deep sigh, as one
reasoning that he dreams must presently awake. They never could have an
emotion without desiring to analyze it; but perhaps their rapture would
have ceased as swiftly, even if they had not tried to make it a fact of
consciousness.

"If there were not dinner after such experiences as these," said Isabel,
as they sat at table that evening, "I don't know what would become of
one. But dinner unites the idea of pleasure and duty, and brings you
gently back to earth. You must eat, don't you see, and there's nothing
disgraceful about what you're obliged to do; and so--it's all right."

"Isabel, Isabel," cried her husband, "you have a wonderful mind, and its
workings always amaze me. But be careful, my dear; be careful. Don't work
it too hard. The human brain, you know: delicate organ."

"Well, you understand what I mean; and I think it's one of the great
charms of a husband, that you're not forced to express yourself to him. A
husband," continued Isabel, sententiously, poising a bit of meringue
between her thumb and finger,--for they had reached that point in the
repast, "a husband is almost as good as another woman!"

In the parlor they found the Ellisons, and exchanged the history of the
day with them.

"Certainly," said Mrs. Ellison, at the end, "it's been a pleasant day
enough, but what of the night? You've been turned out, too, by those
people who came on the steamer, and who might as well have stayed on
board to-night; have you got another room?"

"Not precisely," said Isabel; "we have a coop in the fifth story, right
under the roof."

Mrs. Ellison turned energetically upon her husband and cried in tones of
reproach, "Richard, Mrs. March has a room!"

"A coop, she said," retorted that amiable Colonel, "and we're too good
for that. The clerk is keeping us in suspense about a room, because he
means to surprise us with something palatial at the end. It 's his joking
way."

"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Ellison. "Have you seen him since dinner?"

"I have made life a burden to him for the last half-hour," returned the
Colonel, with the kindliest smile.

"O Richard," cried his wife, in despair of his amendment, "you wouldn't
make life a burden to a mouse!" And having nothing else for it, she
laughed, half in sorrow, half in fondness.

"Well, Fanny," the Colonel irrelevantly answered, "put on your hat and
things, and let's all go up to Durham Terrace for a promenade. I know our
friends want to go. It's something worth seeing; and by the time we get
back, the clerk will have us a perfectly sumptuous apartment."

Nothing, I think, more enforces the illusion of Southern Europe in Quebec
than the Sunday-night promenading on Durham Terrace. This is the ample
space on the brow of the cliff to the left of the citadel, the noblest
and most commanding position in the whole city, which was formerly
occupied by the old castle of Saint Louis, where dwelt the brave Count
Frontenac and his splendid successors of the French regime. The castle
went the way of Quebec by fire some forty years ago, and Lord Durham
leveled the site and made it a public promenade. A stately arcade of
solid masonry supports it on the brink of the rock, and an iron parapet
incloses it; there are a few seats to lounge upon, and some idle old guns
for the children to clamber over and play with. A soft twilight had
followed the day, and there was just enough obscurity to hide from a
willing eye the Northern and New World facts of the scene, and to bring
into more romantic relief the citadel dark against the mellow evening,
and the people gossiping from window to window across the narrow streets
of the Lower Town. The Terrace itself was densely thronged, and there was
a constant coming and going of the promenaders, who each formally paced
back and forth upon the planking for a certain time, and then went
quietly home, giving place to the new arrivals. They were nearly all
French, and they were not generally, it seemed, of the first fashion, but
rather of middling condition in life; the English being represented only
by a few young fellows and now and then a redfaced old gentleman with an
Indian scarf trailing from his hat. There were some fair American
costumes and faces in the crowd, but it was essentially Quebecian. The
young girls walking in pairs, or with their lovers, had the true touch of
provincial unstylishness, the young men the ineffectual excess of the
second-rate Latin dandy, their elders the rich inelegance of a
bourgeoisie in their best. A few, better-figured avocats or notaires
(their profession was as unmistakable as if they had carried their
well-polished brass doorplates upon their breasts) walked and gravely
talked with each other. The non-American character of the scene was not
less vividly marked in the fact that each person dressed according to his
own taste and frankly indulged private preferences in shapes and colors.
One of the promenaders was in white, even to his canvas shoes; another,
with yet bolder individuality, appeared in perfect purple. It had a
strange, almost portentous effect when these two startling figures met as
friends and joined each other in the promenade with linked arms; but the
evening was already beginning to darken round them, and presently the
purple comrade was merely a sombre shadow beside the glimmering white.

The valleys and the heights now vanished; but the river defined itself by
the varicolored lights of the ships and steamers that lay, dark,
motionless bulks, upon its broad breast; the lights of Point Lewis
swarmed upon the other shore; the Lower Town, two hundred feet below
them, stretched an alluring mystery of clustering roofs and lamplit
windows and dark and shining streets around the mighty rock,
mural-crowned. Suddenly a spectacle peculiarly Northern and
characteristic of Quebec revealed itself; a long arch brightened over the
northern horizon; the tremulous flames of the aurora, pallid violet or
faintly tinged with crimson, shot upward from it, and played with a weird
apparition and evanescence to the zenith. While the strangers looked, a
gun boomed from the citadel, and the wild sweet notes of the bugle sprang
out upon the silence.

Then they all said, "How perfectly in keeping everything has been!" and
sauntered back to the hotel.

The Colonel went into the office to give the clerk another turn on the
rack, and make him confess to a hidden apartment somewhere, while Isabel
left her husband to Mrs. Ellison in the parlor, and invited Miss Kitty to
look at her coop in the fifth story. As they approached, light and music
and laughter stole out of an open door next hers, and Isabel,
distinguishing the voices of the theatrical party, divined that this was
the sick-chamber, and that they were again cheering up the afflicted
member of the troupe. Some one was heard to say, "Well, 'ow do you feel
now, Charley?" and a sound of subdued swearing responded, followed by
more laughter, and the twanging of a guitar, and a snatch of song, and a
stir of feet and dresses as for departure.

The two listeners shrank together; as women they could not enjoy these
proofs of the jolly camaraderie existing among the people of the troupe.
They trembled as before the merriment of as many light-hearted, careless,
good-natured young men: it was no harm, but it was dismaying; and,
"Dear!" cried Isabel, "what shall we do?"

"Go back," said Miss Ellison, boldly, and back they ran to the parlor,
where they found Basil and the Colonel and his wife in earnest conclave.
The Colonel, like a shrewd strategist, was making show of a desperation
more violent than his wife's, who was thus naturally forced into the
attitude of moderating his fury.

"Well, Fanny, that's all he can do for us; and I do think it 's the most
outrageous thing in the world! It 's real mean!"

Fanny perceived a bold parody of her own denunciatory manner, but just
then she was obliged to answer Isabel's eager inquiry whether they had
got a room yet. "Yes, a room," she said, "with two beds. But what are we
to do with one room? That clerk--I don't know what to call him"--("Call
him a hotel-clerk, my dear; you can't say anything worse," interrupted
her husband)--"seems to think the matter perfectly settled."

"You see, Mrs. March," added the Colonel, "he's able to bully us in this
way because he has the architecture on his side. There isn't another room
in the house."

"Let me think a moment," said Isabel not thinking an instant. She had
taken a fancy to at least two of these people from the first, and in the
last hour they had all become very well acquainted now she said, "I'll
tell you: there are two beds in our room also; we ladies will take one
room, and you gentlemen the other!"

"Mrs. March, I bow to the superiority of the Boston mind," said the
Colonel, while his females civilly protested and consented; "and I might
almost hail you as our preserver. If ever you come to Milwaukee,--which
is the centre of the world, as Boston is,--we--I--shall be happy to have
you call at my place of business.--I didn't commit myself, did I,
Fanny?--I am sometimes hospitable to excess, Mrs. March," he said, to
explain his aside. "And now, let us reconnoitre. Lead on, madam, and the
gratitude of the houseless stranger will follow you."

The whole party explored both rooms, and the ladies decided to keep
Isabel's. The Colonel was dispatched to see that the wraps and traps of
his party were sent to this number, and Basil went with him. The things
came long before the gentlemen returned, but the ladies happily employed
the interval in talking over the excitements of the day, and in saying
from time to time, "So very kind of you, Mrs. March," and "I don't know
what we should have done," and "Don't speak of it, please," and "I'm sure
it 's a great pleasure to me."

In the room adjoining theirs, where the invalid actor lay, and where
lately there had been minstrelsy and apparently dancing for his solace,
there was now comparative silence. Two women's voices talked together,
and now and then a guitar was touched by a wandering hand. Isabel had
just put up her handkerchief to conceal her first yawn, when the
gentlemen, odorous of cigars, returned to say good-night.

"It's the second door from this, isn't it, Isabel?" asked her husband.

"Yes, the second door. Good-night. Good-night."

The two men walked off together; but in a minute afterwards they had
returned and were knocking tremulously at the closed door.

"O, what has happened?" chorused the ladies in woeful tune, seeing a
certain wildness in the face that confronted them.

"We don't know!" answered the others in as fearful a key, and related how
they had found the door of their room ajar, and a bright light streaming
into the corridor. They did not stop to ponder this fact, but, with the
heedlessness of their sex, pushed the door wide open, when they saw
seated before the mirror a bewildering figure, with disheveled locks
wandering down the back, and in dishabille expressive of being quite at
home there, which turned upon them a pair of pale blue eyes, under a
forehead remarkable for the straggling fringe of hair that covered it.
They professed to have remained transfixed at the sight, and to have
noted a like dismay on the visage before the glass, ere they summoned
strength to fly. These facts Colonel Ellison gave at the command of his
wife, with many protests and insincere delays amidst which the curiosity
of his hearers alone prevented them from rending him in pieces.

"And what do you suppose it was?" demanded his wife, with forced
calmness, when he had at last made an end of the story and his abominable
hypoocisies.

"Well, I think it was a mermaid."

"A mermaid!" said his wife, scornfully. "How do you know?"

"It had a comb in its hand, for one thing; and besides, my dear, I hope I
know a mermaid when I see it."

"Well," said Mrs. Ellison, "it was no mermaid, it was a mistake; and I'm
going to see about it. Will you go with me, Richard?"

"No money could induce me! If it's a mistake, it isn't proper for me to
go; if it's a mermaid, it's dangerous."

"O you coward!" said the intrepid little woman to a hero of all the
fights on Sherman's march to the sea; and presently they heard her attack
the mysterious enemy with a lady-like courage, claiming the invaded
chamber. The foe replied with like civility, saying the clerk had given
her that room with the understanding that another lady was to be put
there with her, and she had left the door unlocked to admit her. The
watchers with the sick man next door appeared and confirmed this speech,
a feeble voice from the bedclothes swore to it.

"Of course," added the invader, "if I'd known 'ow it really was, I never
would lave listened to such a thing, never. And there isn't another 'ole
in the louse to lay me 'ead," she concluded.

"Then it's the clerk's fault," said Mrs. Ellison, glad to retreat
unharmed; and she made her husband ring for the guilty wretch, a pale,
quiet young Frenchman, whom the united party, sallying into the corridor,
began to upbraid in one breath, the lady in dishabille vanishing as often
as she remembered it, and reappearing whenever some strong point of
argument or denunciation occurred to her.

The clerk, who was the Benjamin of his wicked tribe, threw himself upon
their mercy and confessed everything: the house was so crowded, and he
had been so crazed by the demands upon him, that he had understood
Colonel Ellison's application to be for a bed for the young lady in his
party, and he had done the very best he could. If the lady there--she
vanished again--would give up the room to the two gentlemen, he would
find her a place with the housekeeper. To this the lady consented without
difficulty, and the rest dispersing, she kissed one of the sick man's
watchers with "Isn't it a shame, Bella?" and flitted down the darkness of
the corridor. The rooms upon it seemed all, save the two assigned our
travellers, to be occupied by ladies of the troupe; their doors
successively opened, and she was heard explaining to each as she passed.
The momentary displeasure which she had shown at her banishment was over.
She detailed the facts with perfect good-nature, and though the others
appeared no more than herself to find any humorous cast in the affair,
they received her narration with the same amiability. They uttered their
sympathy seriously, and each parted from her with some friendly word.
Then all was still.

"Richard," said Mrs. Ellison, when in Isabel's room the travellers had
briefly celebrated these events, "I should think you'd hate to leave us
alone up here."

"I do; but you can't think how I hate to go off alone. I wish you'd come
part of the way with us, Ladies; I do indeed. Leave your door unlocked,
at any rate."

This prayer, uttered at parting outside the room, was answered from
within by a sound of turning keys and sliding bolts, and a low thunder as
of bureaus and washstands rolled against the door. "The ladies are
fortifying their position," said the Colonel to Basil, and the two
returned to their own chamber. "I don't wish any intrusions," he said,
instantly shutting himself in; "my nerves are too much shaken now. What
an awfully mysterious old place this Quebec is, Mr. March! I'll tell you
what: it's my opinion that this is an enchanted castle, and if my ribs
are not walked over by a muleteer in the course of the night, it's all I
ask."

In this and other discourse recalling the famous adventure of Don
Quixote, the Colonel beguiled the labor of disrobing, and had got as far
as his boots, when there came a startling knock at the door. With one
boot in his hand and the other on his foot, the Colonel limped forward.
"I suppose it's that clerk has sent to say he's made some other mistake,"
and he flung wide the door, and then stood motionless before it, dumbly
staring at a figure on the threshold,--a figure with the fringed forehead
and pale blue eyes of her whom they had so lately turned out of that
room.

Shrinking behind the side of the doorway, "Excuse me, gentlemen," she
said, with a dignity that recalled their scattered senses, "but will you
'ave the goodness to look if my beads are on your table--O thanks,
thanks, thanks!" she continued, showing her face and one hand, as Basil
blushingly advanced with a string of heavy black beads, piously adorned
with a large cross. "I'm sure, I'm greatly obliged to you, gentlemen, and
I hask a thousand pardons for troublin' you," she concluded in a somewhat
severe tone, that left them abashed and culpable; and vanished as
mysteriously as she had appeared.

"Now, see here," said the Colonel, with a huge sigh as he closed the door
again, and this time locked it, "I should like to know how long this sort
of thing is to be kept up? Because, if it's to be regularly repeated
during the night, I'm going to dress again." Nevertheless, he finished
undressing and got into bed, where he remained for some time silent.
Basil put out the light. "O, I'm sorry you did that, my dear fellow,"
said the Colonel; "but never mind, it was an idle curiosity, no doubt.
It's my belief that in the landlord's extremity of bedlinen, I've been
put to sleep between a pair of tablecloths; and I thought I'd like to
look. It seems to me that I make out a checkered pattern on top and a
flowered or arabesque pattern underneath. I wish they had given me mates.
It 's pretty hard having to sleep between odd tablecloths. I shall
complain to the landlord of this in the morning. I've never had to sleep
between odd table-cloths at any hotel before."

The Colonel's voice seemed scarcely to have died away upon Basil's drowsy
ear, when suddenly the sounds of music and laughter from the invalid's
room startled him wide awake. The sick man's watchers were coquetting
with some one who stood in the little court-yard five stories below. A
certain breadth of repartee was naturally allowable at that distance; the
lover avowed his passion in ardent terms, and the ladies mocked him with
the same freedom, now and then totally neglecting him while they sang a
snatch of song to the twanging of the guitar, or talked professional
gossip, and then returning to him with some tormenting expression of
tenderness.

All this, abstractly speaking, was nothing to Basil; yet he could
recollect few things intended for his pleasure that had given him more
satisfaction. He thought, as he glanced out into the moonlight on the
high-gabled silvery roofs around and on the gardens of the convents and
the towers of the quaint city, that the scene wanted nothing of the
proper charm of Spanish humor and romance, and he was as grateful to
those poor souls as if they had meant him a favor. To us of the hither
side of the foot-lights, there is always something fascinating in the
life of the strange beings who dwell beyond them, and who are never so
unreal as in their own characters. In their shabby bestowal in those mean
upper rooms, their tawdry poverty, their merry submission to the errors
and caprices of destiny, their mutual kindliness and careless friendship,
these unprofitable devotees of the twinkling-footed burlesque seemed to
be playing rather than living the life of strolling players; and their
love-making was the last touch of a comedy that Basil could hardly accept
as reality, it was so much more like something seen upon the stage. He
would not have detracted anything from the commonness and cheapness of
the 'mise en scene', for that, he reflected drowsily and confusedly,
helped to give it an air of fact and make it like an episode of fiction.
But above all, he was pleased with the natural eventlessness of the whole
adventure, which was in perfect agreement with his taste; and just as his
reveries began to lose shape in dreams, he was aware of an absurd pride
in the fact that all this could have happened to him in our commonplace
time and hemisphere. "Why," he thought, "if I were a student in Alcala,
what better could I have asked?" And as at last his soul swung out from
its moorings and lapsed down the broad slowly circling tides out in the
sea of sleep, he was conscious of one subtle touch of compassion for
those poor strollers,--a pity so delicate and fine and tender that it
hardly seemed his own but rather a sense of the compassion that pities
the whole world.




X. HOMEWARD AND HOME.

The travellers all met at breakfast and duly discussed the adventures of
the night; and for the rest, the forenoon passed rapidly and slowly with
Basil and Isabel, as regret to leave Quebec, or the natural impatience of
travellers to be off, overcame them. Isabel spent part of it in shopping,
for she had found some small sums of money and certain odd corners in her
trunks still unappropriated, and the handsome stores on the Rue Fabrique
were very tempting. She said she would just go in and look; and the wise
reader imagines the result. As she knelt over her boxes, trying so to
distribute her purchases as to make them look as if they were old,--old
things of hers, which she had brought all the way round from Boston with
her,--a fleeting touch of conscience stayed her hand.

"Basil," she said, "perhaps we'd better declare some of these things.
What's the duty on those?" she asked, pointing to certain articles.

"I don't know. About a hundred per cent. ad valorem."

"C'est a dire--?"

"As much as they cost."

"O then, dearest," responded Isabel indignantly, "it can't be wrong to
smuggle! I won't declare a thread!"

"That's very well for you, whom they won't ask. But what if they ask me
whether there's anything to declare?"

Isabel looked at her husband and hesitated. Then she replied in terms
that I am proud to record in honor of American womanhood: "You mustn't
fib about--it, Basil" (heroically); "I couldn't respect you if you did,"
(tenderly); "but" (with decision) "you must slip out of it some way!"

The ladies of the Ellison party, to whom she put the case in the parlor,
agreed with her perfectly. They also had done a little shopping in
Quebec, and they meant to do more at Montreal before they returned to the
States. Mrs. Ellison was disposed to look upon Isabel's compunctions as a
kind of treason to the sex, to be forgiven only because so quickly
repented.

The Ellisons were going up the Saguenay before coming on to Boston, and
urged our friends hard to go with them. "No, that must be for another
time," said Isabel. "Mr. March has to be home by a certain day; and we
shall just get back in season." Then she made them promise to spend a day
with her in Boston, and the Colonel coming to say that he had a carriage
at the door for their excursion to Lorette, the two parties bade good-by
with affection and many explicit hopes of meeting soon again.

"What do you think of them, dearest?" demanded Isabel, as she sallied out
with Basil for a final look at Quebec.

"The young lady is the nicest; and the other is well enough, too. She is
a good deal like you, but with the sense of humor left out. You've only
enough to save you."

"Well, her husband is jolly enough for both of them. He's funnier than
you, Basil, and he hasn't any of your little languid airs and
affectations. I don't know but I'm a bit disappointed in my choice,
darling; but I dare say I shall work out of it. In fact, I don't know but
the Colonel is a little too jolly. This drolling everything is rather
fatiguing." And having begun, they did not stop till they had taken their
friends to pieces. Dismayed, then, they hastily reconstructed them, and
said that they were among the pleasantest people they ever knew, and they
were really very sorry to part with them, and they should do everything
to make them have a good time in Boston.

They were sauntering towards Durham Terrace where they leaned long upon
the iron parapet and blest themselves with the beauty of the prospect. A
tender haze hung upon the landscape and subdued it till the scene was as
a dream before them. As in a dream the river lay, and dream-like the
shipping moved or rested on its deep, broad bosom. Far off stretched the
happy fields with their dim white villages; farther still the mellow
heights melted into the low hovering heaven. The tinned roofs of the
Lower Town twinkled in the morning sun; around them on every hand, on
that Monday forenoon when the States were stirring from ocean to ocean in
feverish industry, drowsed the gray city within her walls; from the
flag-staff of the citadel hung the red banner of Saint George in sleep.

Their hearts were strangely and deeply moved. It seemed to them that they
looked upon the last stronghold of the Past, and that afar off to the
southward they could hear the marching hosts of the invading Present; and
as no young and loving soul can relinquish old things without a pang,
they sighed a long mute farewell to Quebec.

Next summer they would come again, yes; but, ah me' every one knows what
next summer is!




Part of the burlesque troupe rode down in the omnibus to the Grand Trunk

Ferry with them, and were good-natured to the last, having shaken hands
all round with the waiters, chambermaids, and porters of the hotel. The
young fellow with the bad amiable face came in a calash, and refused to
overpay the driver with a gay decision that made him Basil's envy till he
saw his tribulation in getting the troupe's luggage checked. There were
forty pieces, and it always remained a mystery, considering the small
amount of clothing necessary to those people on the stage, what could
have filled their trunks. The young man and the two English blondes of
American birth found places in the same car with our tourists, and
enlivened the journey with their frolics. When the young man pretended to
fall asleep, they wrapped his golden curly head in a shawl, and vexed him
with many thumps and thrusts, till he bought a brief truce with a handful
of almonds; and the ladies having no other way to eat them, one of them
saucily snatched off her shoe, and cracked them hammerwise with the heel.
It was all so pleasant that it ought to have been all right; and in their
merry world of outlawry perhaps things are not so bad as we like to think
them.

The country into which the train plunges as soon as Quebec is out of
sight is very stupidly savage, and our friends had little else to do but
to watch the gambols of the players, till they came to the river St.
Francis, whose wandering loveliness the road follows through an infinite
series of soft and beautiful landscapes, and finds everywhere glassing in
its smooth current the elms and willows of its gentle shores. At one
place, where its calm broke into foamy rapids, there was a huge saw mill,
covering the stream with logs and refuse, and the banks with whole cities
of lumber; which also they accepted as no mean elements of the
picturesque. They clung the most tenderly to traces of the peasant life
they were leaving. When some French boys came aboard with wild
raspberries to sell in little birch-bark canoes, they thrilled with
pleasure, and bought them, but sighed then, and said, "What thing
characteristic of the local life will they sell us in Maine when we get
there? A section of pie poetically wrapt in a broad leaf of the
squash-vine, or pop-corn in its native tissue-paper, and advertising the
new Dollar Store in Portland?" They saw the quaintness vanish from the
farm-houses; first the dormer-windows, then the curve of the steep roof,
then the steep roof itself. By and by they came to a store with a Grecian
portico and four square pine pillars. They shuddered and looked no more.

The guiltily dreaded examination of baggage at Island Pond took place at
nine o'clock, without costing them a cent of duty or a pang of
conscience. At that charming station the trunks are piled
higgledy-piggledy into a room beside the track, where a few inspectors
with stifling lamps of smoky kerosene await the passengers. There are no
porters to arrange the baggage, and each lady and gentleman digs out his
box, and opens it before the lordly inspector, who stirs up its contents
with an unpleasant hand and passes it. He makes you feel that you are
once more in the land of official insolence, and that, whatever you are
collectively, you are nothing personally. Isabel, who had sent her
husband upon this business with quaking meekness of heart, experienced
the bold indignation of virtue at his account of the way people were made
their own baggage-smashers, and would not be amused when he painted the
vile terrors of each husband as he tremblingly unlocked his wife's store
of contraband.

The morning light showed them the broad elmy meadows of western-looking
Maine; and the Grand Trunk brought them, of course, an hour behind time
into Portland. All breakfastless they hurried aboard the Boston train on
the Eastern Road, and all along that line (which is built to show how
uninteresting the earth can be when she is 'ennuyee' of both sea and
land), Basil's life became a struggle to construct a meal from the
fragmentary opportunities of twenty different stations where they stopped
five minutes for refreshments. At one place he achieved two cups of
shameless chickory, at another three sardines, at a third a dessert of
elderly bananas.

     "Home again, home again, from a foreign shore!"

they softly sang as the successive courses of this feast were disposed
of.

The drouth and heat, which they had briefly escaped during their sojourn
in Canada, brooded sovereign upon the tiresome landscape. The red granite
rocks were as if red-hot; the banks of the deep cuts were like ash heaps;
over the fields danced the sultry atmosphere; they fancied that they
almost heard the grasshoppers sing above the rattle of the train. When
they reached Boston at last, they were dustier than most of us would like
to be a hundred years hence. The whole city was equally dusty; and they
found the trees in the square before their own door gray with dust. The
bit of Virginia-creeper planted under the window hung shriveled upon its
trellis.

But Isabel's aunt met them with a refreshing shower of tears and kisses
in the hall, throwing a solid arm about each of them. "O you dears!" the
good soul cried, "you don't know how anxious I've been about you; so many
accidents happening all the time. I've never read the 'Evening
Transcript' till the next morning, for fear I should find your names
among the killed and wounded."

"O aunty, you're too good, always!" whimpered Isabel; and neither of the
women took note of Basil, who said, "Yes, it 's probably the only thing
that preserved our lives."

The little tinge of discontent, which had colored their sentiment of
return faded now in the kindly light of home. Their holiday was over, to
be sure, but their bliss had but began; they had entered upon that long
life of holidays which is happy marriage. By the time dinner was ended
they were both enthusiastic at having got back, and taking their aunt
between them walked up and down the parlor with their arms round her
massive waist, and talked out the gladness of their souls.

Then Basil said he really must run down to the office that afternoon, and
he issued all aglow upon the street. He was so full of having been long
away and of having just returned, that he unconsciously tried to impart
his mood to Boston, and the dusty composure of the street and houses, as
he strode along, bewildered him. He longed for some familiar face to
welcome him, and in the horse-car into which he stepped he was charmed to
see an acquaintance. This was a man for whom ordinarily he cared nothing,
and whom he would perhaps rather have gone out upon the platform to avoid
than have spoken to; but now he plunged at him with effusion, and wrung
his hand, smiling from ear to ear.

The other remained coldly unaffected, after a first start of surprise at
his cordiality, and then reviled the dust and heat. "But I'm going to
take a little run down to Newport, to-morrow, for a week," he said. "By
the way, you look as if you needed a little change. Aren't you going
anywhere this summer?"

"So you see, my dear," observed Basil, when he had recounted the fact to
Isabel at tea, "our travels are incommunicably our own. We had best say
nothing about our little jaunt to other people, and they won't know we've
been gone. Even if we tried, we couldn't make our wedding-journey
theirs."

She gave him a great kiss of recompense and consolation. "Who wants it,"
she demanded, "to be Their Wedding Journey?"




NIAGARA REVISITED, TWELVE YEARS AFTER THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY.

Life had not used them ill in this time, and the fairish treatment they
had received was not wholly unmerited. The twelve years past had made
them older, as the years must in passing. Basil was now forty-two, and
his moustache was well sprinkled with gray. Isabel was thirty-nine, and
the parting of her hair had thinned and retreated; but she managed to
give it an effect of youthful abundance by combing it low down upon her
forehead, and roughing it there with a wet brush. By gaslight she was
still very pretty; she believed that she looked more interesting, and she
thought Basil's gray moustache distinguished. He had grown stouter; he
filled his double-breasted frock coat compactly, and from time to time he
had the buttons set forward; his hands were rounded up on the backs, and
he no longer wore his old number of gloves by two sizes; no amount of
powder or manipulation from the young lady in the shop would induce them
to go on. But this did not matter much now, for he seldom wore gloves at
all. He was glad that the fashion suffered him to spare in that
direction, for he was obliged to look somewhat carefully after the
out-goes. The insurance business was not what it had been, and though
Basil had comfortably established himself in it, he had not made money.
He sometimes thought that he might have done quite as well if he had gone
into literature; but it was now too late. They had not a very large
family: they had a boy of eleven, who took after his father, and a girl
of nine, who took after the boy; but with the American feeling that their
children must have the best of everything, they made it an expensive
family, and they spent nearly all Basil earned.

The narrowness of their means, as well as their household cares, had kept
them from taking many long journeys. They passed their winters in Boston,
and their summers on the South Shore, cheaper than the North Shore, and
near enough for Basil to go up and down every day for business; but they
promised themselves that some day they would revisit certain points on
their wedding journey, and perhaps somewhere find their lost second-youth
on the track. It was not that they cared to be young, but they wished the
children to see them as they used to be when they thought themselves very
old; and one lovely afternoon in June they started for Niagara.

It had been very hot for several days, but that morning the east wind
came in, and crisped the air till it seemed to rustle like tinsel, and
the sky was as sincerely and solidly blue as if it had been chromoed.
They felt that they were really looking up into the roof of the world,
when they glanced at it; but when an old gentleman hastily kissed a young
woman, and commended her to the conductor as being one who was going all
the way to San Francisco alone, and then risked his life by stepping off
the moving train, the vastness of the great American fact began to affect
Isabel disagreeably. "Is n't it too big, Basil?" she pleaded, peering
timidly out of the little municipal consciousness in which she had been
so long housed.--In that seclusion she had suffered certain original
tendencies to increase upon her; her nerves were more sensitive and
electrical; her apprehensions had multiplied quite beyond the ratio of
the dangers that beset her; and Basil had counted upon a tonic effect of
the change the journey would make in their daily lives. She looked
ruefully out of the window at the familiar suburbs whisking out of sight,
and the continental immensity that advanced devouringly upon her. But
they had the best section in the very centre of the sleeping-car,--she
drew what consolation she could from the fact,--and the children's
premature demand for lunch helped her to forget her anxieties; they began
to be hungry as soon as the train started. She found that she had not put
up sandwiches enough; and when she told Basil that he would have to get
out somewhere and buy some cold chicken, he asked her what in the world
had become of that whole ham she had had boiled. It seemed to him, he
said, that there was enough of it to subsist them to Niagara and back;
and he went on as some men do, while Somerville vanished, and even Tufts
College, which assails the Bostonian vision from every point of the
compass, was shut out by the curve at the foot of the Belmont hills.

They had chosen the Hoosac Tunnel route to Niagara, because, as Basil
said, their experience of travel had never yet included a very long
tunnel, and it would be a signal fact by which the children would always
remember the journey, if nothing else remarkable happened to impress it
upon them. Indeed, they were so much concerned in it that they began to
ask when they should come to this tunnel, even before they began to ask
for lunch; and the long time before they reached it was not perceptibly
shortened by Tom's quarter-hourly consultations of his father's watch.

It scarcely seemed to Basil and Isabel that their fellow-passengers were
so interesting as their fellow passengers used to be in their former days
of travel. They were soberly dressed, and were all of a middle-aged
sobriety of deportment, from which nothing salient offered itself for
conjecture or speculation; and there was little within the car to take
their minds from the brilliant young world that flashed and sang by them
outside. The belated spring had ripened, with its frequent rains, into
the perfection of early summer; the grass was thicker and the foliage
denser than they had ever seen it before; and when they had run out into
the hills beyond Fitchburg, they saw the laurel in bloom. It was
everywhere in the woods, lurking like drifts among the underbrush, and
overflowing the tops, and stealing down the hollows, of the railroad
embankments; a snow of blossom flushed with a mist of pink. Its shy, wild
beauty ceased whenever the train stopped, but the orioles made up for its
absence with their singing in the village trees about the stations; and
though Fitchburg and Ayer's Junction and Athol are not names that invoke
historical or romantic associations, the hearts of Basil and Isabel began
to stir with the joy of travel before they had passed these points. At
the first Basil got out to buy the cold chicken which had been commanded,
and he recognized in the keeper of the railroad restaurant their former
conductor, who had been warned by the spirits never to travel without a
flower of some sort carried between his lips, and who had preserved his
own life and the lives of his passengers for many years by this simple
device. His presence lent the sponge cake and rhubarb pie and baked beans
a supernatural interest, and reconciled Basil to the toughness of the
athletic bird which the mystical ex-partner of fate had sold him; he
justly reflected that if he had heard the story of the restaurateur's
superstition in a foreign land, or another time, he would have found in
it a certain poetry. It was this willingness to find poetry in things
around them that kept his life and Isabel's fresh, and they taught their
children the secret of their elixir. To be sure, it was only a genre
poetry, but it was such as has always inspired English art and song; and
now the whole family enjoyed, as if it had been a passage from Goldsmith
or Wordsworth, the flying sentiment of the railroad side. There was a
simple interior at one place,--a small shanty, showing through the open
door a cook stove surmounted by the evening coffee-pot, with a lazy cat
outstretched upon the floor in the middle distance, and an old woman
standing just outside the threshold to see the train go by,--which had an
unrivaled value till they came to a superannuated car on a siding in the
woods, in which the railroad workmen boarded--some were lounging on the
platform and at the open windows, while others were "washing up" for
supper, and the whole scene was full of holiday ease and sylvan comradery
that went to the hearts of the sympathetic spectators. Basil had lately
been reading aloud the delightful history of Rudder Grange, and the
children, who had made their secret vows never to live in anything but an
old canal-boat when they grew up, owned that there were fascinating
possibilities in a worn-out railroad car.

The lovely Deerfield Valley began to open on either hand, with smooth
stretches of the quiet river, and breadths of grassy intervale and
tableland; the elms grouped themselves like the trees of a park; here and
there the nearer hills broke away, and revealed long, deep, chasmed
hollows, full of golden light and delicious shadow. There were people
rowing on the water; and every pretty town had some touch of
picturesqueness or pastoral charm to offer: at Greenfield, there were
children playing in the new-mown hay along the railroad embankment; at
Shelburne Falls, there was a game of cricket going on (among the English
operatives of the cutlery works, as Basil boldly asserted). They looked
down from their car-window on a young lady swinging in a hammock, in her
door-yard, and on an old gentleman hoeing his potatoes; a group of girls
waved their handkerchiefs to the passing train, and a boy paused in
weeding a garden-bed,--and probably denied that he had paused, later. In
the mean time the golden haze along the mountain side changed to a clear,
pearly lustre, and the quiet evening possessed the quiet landscape. They
confessed to each other that it was all as sweet and beautiful as it used
to be; and in fact they had seen palaces, in other days, which did not
give them the pleasure they found in a woodcutter's shanty, losing itself
among the shadows in a solitude of the hills. The tunnel, after this, was
a gross and material sensation; but they joined the children in trying to
hold and keep it, and Basil let the boy time it by his watch. "Now," said
Tom, when five minutes were gone, "we are under the very centre of the
mountain." But the tunnel was like all accomplished facts, all hopes
fulfilled, valueless to the soul, and scarcely appreciable to the sense;
and the children emerged at North Adams with but a mean opinion of that
great feat of engineering. Basil drew a pretty moral from their
experience. "If you rode upon a comet you would be disappointed. Take my
advice, and never ride upon a comet. I shouldn't object to your riding on
a little meteor,--you would n't expect much of that; but I warn you
against comets; they are as bad as tunnels."

The children thought this moral was a joke at their expense, and as they
were a little sleepy they permitted themselves the luxury of feeling
trifled with. But they woke, refreshed and encouraged, from slumbers that
had evidently been unbroken, though they both protested that they had not
slept a wink the whole night, and gave themselves up to wonder at the
interminable levels of Western New York over which the train was running.
The longing to come to an edge, somewhere, that the New England traveler
experiences on this plain, was inarticulate with the children; but it
breathed in the sigh with which Isabel welcomed even the architectural
inequalities of a city into which they drew in the early morning. This
city showed to their weary eyes a noble stretch of river, from the waters
of which lofty piles of buildings rose abruptly; and Isabel, being left
to guess where they were, could think of no other place so picturesque as
Rochester.

"Yes," said her husband; "it is our own Enchanted City. I wonder if that
unstinted hospitality is still dispensed by the good head waiter at the
hotel where we stopped, to bridal parties who have passed the ordeal of
the haughty hotel clerk. I wonder what has become of that hotel clerk.
Has he fallen, through pride, to some lower level, or has he bowed his
arrogant spirit to the demands of advancing civilization, and realized
that he is the servant, and not the master, of the public? I think I've
noticed, since his time, a growing kindness in hotel clerks; or perhaps I
have become of a more impressive presence; they certainly unbend to me a
little more. I should like to go up to our hotel, and try myself on our
old enemy, if he is still there. I can fancy how his shirt front has
expanded in these twelve years past; he has grown a little bald, after
the fashion of middle-aged hotel clerks, but he parts his hair very much
on one side, and brushes it squarely across his forehead to hide his
loss; the forefinger that he touches that little snapbell with, when he
doesn't look at you, must be very pudgy now. Come, let us get out and
breakfast at, Rochester; they will give us broiled whitefish; and we can
show the children where Sam Patch jumped over Genesee Falls, and--"

"No, no, Basil," cried his wife. "It would be sacrilege! All that is
sacred to those dear young days of ours; and I wouldn't think of trying
to repeat it. Our own ghosts would rise up in that dining-room to
reproach us for our intrusion! Oh, perhaps we have done a wicked thing in
coming this journey! We ought to have left the past alone; we shall only
mar our memories of all these beautiful places. Do you suppose Buffalo
can be as poetical as it was then? Buffalo! The name does n't invite the
Muse very much. Perhaps it never was very poetical! Oh, Basil, dear, I'm
afraid we have only come to find out that we were mistaken about
everything! Let's leave Rochester alone, at any rate!"

I'm not troubled! We won't disturb our dream of Rochester; but I don't
despair of Buffalo. I'm sure that Buffalo will be all that our fancy ever
painted it. I believe in Buffalo."

"Well, well," murmured Isabel, "I hope you're right;" and she put some
things together for leaving their car at Buffalo, while they were still
two hours away.

When they reached a place where the land mated its level with the level
of the lake, they ran into a wilderness of railroad cars, in a world
where life seemed to be operated solely by locomotives and their helpless
minions. The bellowing and bleating trains were arriving in every
direction, not only along the ground floor of the plain, but stately
stretches of trestle-work, which curved and extended across the plain,
carried them to and fro overhead. The travelers owned that this railroad
suburb had its own impressiveness, and they said that the trestle-work
was as noble in effect as the lines of aqueduct that stalk across the
Roman Campagna. Perhaps this was because they had not seen the Campagna
or its aqueducts for a great while; but they were so glad to find
themselves in the spirit of their former journey again that they were
amiable to everything. When the children first caught sight of the lake's
delicious blue, and cried out that it was lovelier than the sea, they
felt quite a local pride in their preference. It was what Isabel had said
twelve years before, on first beholding the lake.

But they did not really see the lake till they had taken the train for
Niagara Falls, after breakfasting in the depot, where the children, used
to the severe native or the patronizing Irish ministrations of Boston
restaurants and hotels, reveled for the first time in the affectionate
devotion of a black waiter. There was already a ridiculous abundance and
variety on the table; but this waiter brought them strawberries and again
strawberries, and repeated plates of griddle cakes with maple syrup; and
he hung over the back of first one chair and then another with an
unselfish joy in the appetites of the breakfasters which gave Basil
renewed hopes of his race. "Such rapture in serving argues a largeness of
nature which will be recognized hereafter," he said, feeling about in his
waistcoat pocket for a quarter. It seemed a pity to render the waiter's
zeal retroactively interested, but in view of the fact that he possibly
expected the quarter, there was nothing else to do; and by a mysterious
stroke of gratitude the waiter delivered them into the hands of a friend,
who took another quarter from them for carrying their bags and wraps to
the train. This second retainer approved their admiration of the
aesthetic forms and colors of the depot colonnade; and being asked if
that were the depot whose roof had fallen in some years before, proudly
replied that it was.

"There were a great many killed, were n't there?" asked Basil, with
sympathetic satisfaction in the disaster. The porter seemed humiliated;
he confessed the mortifying truth that the loss of life was small, but he
recovered a just self-respect in adding, "If the roof had fallen in five
minutes sooner, it would have killed about three hundred people."

Basil had promised the children a sight of the Rapids before they reached
the Falls, and they held him rigidly accountable from the moment they
entered the train, and began to run out of the city between the river and
the canal. He attempted a diversion with the canal boats, and tried to
bring forward the subject of Rudder Grange in that connection. They said
that the canal boats were splendid, but they were looking for the Rapids
now; and they declined to be interested in a window in one of the boats,
which Basil said was just like the window that the Rudder Granger and the
boarder had popped Pomona out of when they took her for a burglar.

"You spoil those children, Basil," said his wife, as they clambered over
him, and clamored for the Rapids.

"At present I'm giving them an object-lesson in patience and self-denial;
they are experiencing the fact that they can't have the Rapids till they
get to them, and probably they'll be disappointed in them when they
arrive."

In fact, they valued the Rapids very little more than the Hoosac Tunnel,
when they came in sight of them, at last; and Basil had some question in
his own mind whether the Rapids had not dwindled since his former visit.
He did not breathe this doubt to Isabel, however, and she arrived at the
Falls with unabated expectations. They were going to spend only half a
day there; and they turned into the station, away from the phalanx of
omnibuses, when they dismounted from their train. They seemed, as before,
to be the only passengers who had arrived, and they found an abundant
choice of carriages waiting in the street, outside the station. The
Niagara hackman may once have been a predatory and very rampant animal,
but public opinion, long expressed through the public prints, has reduced
him to silence and meekness. Apparently, he may not so much as beckon
with his whip to the arriving wayfarer; it is certain that he cannot
cross the pavement to the station door; and Basil, inviting one of them
to negotiation, was himself required by the attendant policeman to step
out to the curbstone, and complete his transaction there. It was an
impressive illustration of the power of a free press, but upon the whole
Basil found the effect melancholy; it had the saddening quality which
inheres in every sort of perfection. The hackman, reduced to entire
order, appealed to his compassion, and he had not the heart to beat him
down from his moderate first demand, as perhaps he ought to have done.
They drove directly to the cataract, and found themselves in the pretty
grove beside the American Fall, and in the air whose dampness was as
familiar as if they had breathed it all their childhood. It was full now
of the fragrance of some sort of wild blossom; and again they had that
old, entrancing sense of the mingled awfulness and loveliness of the
great spectacle. This sylvan perfume, the gayety of the sunshine, the
mildness of the breeze that stirred the leaves overhead, and the
bird-singing that made itself heard amid the roar of the rapids and the
solemn incessant plunge of the cataract, moved their hearts, and made
them children with the boy and girl, who stood rapt for a moment and then
broke into joyful wonder. They could sympathize with the ardor with which
Tom longed to tempt fate at the brink of the river, and over the tops of
the parapets which have been built along the edge of the precipice, and
they equally entered into the terror with which Bella screamed at his
suicidal zeal. They joined her in restraining him; they reduced him to a
beggarly account of half a dozen stones, flung into the Rapids at not
less than ten paces from the brink; and they would not let him toss the
smallest pebble over the parapet, though he laughed to scorn the notion
that anybody should be hurt by them below.

It seemed to them that the triviality of man in the surroundings of the
Falls had increased with the lapse of time. There were more booths and
bazaars, and more colored feather fans with whole birds spitted in the
centres; and there was an offensive array of blue and green and yellow
glasses on the shore, through which you were expected to look at the
Falls gratis. They missed the simple dignity of the blanching Indian
maids, who used to squat about on the grass, with their laps full of
moccasins and pin-cushions. But, as of old, the photographer came out of
his saloon, and invited them to pose for a family group; representing
that the light and the spray were singularly propitious, and that
everything in nature invited them to be taken. Basil put him off gently,
for the sake of the time when he had refused to be photographed in a
bridal group, and took refuge from him in the long low building from
which you descend to the foot of the cataract.

The grove beside the American Fall has been inclosed, and named Prospect
Park, by a company which exacts half a dollar for admittance, and then
makes you free of all its wonders and conveniences, for which you once
had to pay severally. This is well enough; but formerly you could refuse
to go down the inclined tramway, and now you cannot, without feeling that
you have failed to get your money's worth. It was in this illogical
spirit of economy that Basil invited his family to the descent; but
Isabel shook her head. "No, you go with the children," she said, "and I
will stay, here, till you get back;" her agonized countenance added, "and
pray for you;" and Basil took his children on either side of him, and
rumbled down the terrible descent with much of the excitement that
attends travel in an open horse-car. When he stepped out of the car he
felt that increase of courage which comes to every man after safely
passing through danger. He resolved to brave the mists and
slippery-stones at the foot of the Fall; and he would have plunged at
once into this fresh peril, if he had not been prevented by the Prospect
Park Company. This ingenious association has built a large tunnel-like
shed quite to the water's edge, so that you cannot view the cataract as
you once could, at a reasonable remoteness, but must emerge from the
building into a storm of spray. The roof of the tunnel is painted with a
lively effect in party-colored stripes, and is lettered "The Shadow of
the Rock," so that you take it at first to be an appeal to your aesthetic
sense; but the real object of the company is not apparent till you put
your head out into the tempest, when you agree with the nearest
guide--and one is always very near--that you had better have an oil-skin
dress, as Basil did. He told the guide that he did not wish to go under
the Fall, and the guide confidentially admitted that there was no fun in
that, any way; and in the mean time he equipped him and his children for
their foray into the mist. When they issued forth, under their friend's
leadership, Basil felt that, with his children clinging to each hand, he
looked like some sort of animal with its young, and, though not unsocial
by nature, he was glad to be among strangers for the time. They climbed
hither and thither over the rocks, and lifted their streaming faces for
the views which the guide pointed out; and in a rift of the spray they
really caught one glorious glimpse of the whole sweep of the Fall. The
next instant the spray swirled back, and they were glad to turn for a
sight of the rainbow, lying in a circle on the rocks as quietly and
naturally as if that had been the habit of rainbows ever since the flood.
This was all there was to be done, and they streamed back into the
tunnel, where they disrobed in the face of a menacing placard, which
announced that the hire of a guide and a dress for going under the Fall
was one dollar.

"Will they make you pay a dollar for each of us, papa?" asked Tom,
fearfully.

"Oh, pooh, no!" returned Basil; "we have n't been under the Fall." But he
sought out the proprietor with a trembling heart. The proprietor was a
man of severely logical mind; he said that the charge would be three
dollars, for they had had the use of the dresses and the guide just the
same as if they had gone under the Fall; and he refused to recognize
anything misleading in the dressing-room placard: In fine, he left Basil
without a leg to stand upon. It was not so much the three dollars as the
sense of having been swindled that vexed him; and he instantly resolved
not to share his annoyance with Isabel. Why, indeed, should he put that
burden upon her? If she were none the wiser, she would be none the
poorer; and he ought to be willing to deny himself her sympathy for the
sake of sparing her needless pain.

He met her at the top of the inclined tramway with a face of exemplary
unconsciousness, and he listened with her to the tale their coachman
told, as they sat in a pretty arbor looking out on the Rapids, of a
Frenchman and his wife. This Frenchman had returned, one morning, from a
stroll on Goat Island, and reported with much apparent concern that his
wife had fallen into the water, and been carried over the Fall. It was so
natural for a man to grieve for the loss of his wife, under the peculiar
circumstances, that every one condoled with the widower; but when a few
days later, her body was found, and the distracted husband refused to
come back from New York to her funeral, there was a general regret that
he had not been arrested. A flash of conviction illumed the whole fact to
Basil's guilty consciousness: this unhappy Frenchman had paid a dollar
for the use of an oil-skin suit at the foot of the Fall, and had been
ashamed to confess the swindle to his wife, till, in a moment of remorse
and madness, he shouted the fact into her ear, and then Basil looked at
the mother of his children, and registered a vow that if he got away from
Niagara without being forced to a similar excess he would confess his
guilt to Isabel at the very first act of spendthrift profusion she
committed. The guide pointed out the rock in the Rapids to which Avery
had clung for twenty-four hours before he was carried over the Falls, and
to the morbid fancy of the deceitful husband Isabel's bonnet ribbons
seemed to flutter from the pointed reef. He could endure the pretty arbor
no longer. "Come, children!" he cried, with a wild, unnatural gayety;
"let us go to Goat Island, and see the Bridge to the Three Sisters, that
your mother was afraid to walk back on after she had crossed it."

"For shame, Basil!" retorted Isabel. "You know it was you who were afraid
of that bridge."

The children, who knew the story by heart, laughed with their father at
the monstrous pretension; and his simulated hilarity only increased upon
paying a toll of two dollars at the Goat Island bridge.

"What extortion!" cried Isabel, with an indignation that secretly
unnerved him. He trembled upon the verge of confession; but he had
finally the moral force to resist. He suffered her to compute the cost of
their stay at Niagara without allowing those three dollars to enter into
her calculation; he even began to think what justificative extravagance
he could tempt her to. He suggested the purchase of local bric-a-brac; he
asked her if she would not like to dine at the International, for old
times' sake. But she answered, with disheartening virtue, that they must
not think of such a thing, after what they had spent already. Nothing,
perhaps, marked the confirmed husband in Basil more than these hidden
fears and reluctances.

In the mean time Isabel ignorantly abandoned herself to the charm of the
place, which she found unimpaired, in spite of the reported ravages of
improvement about Niagara. Goat Island was still the sylvan solitude of
twelve years ago, haunted by even fewer nymphs and dryads than of old.
The air was full of the perfume that scented it at Prospect Park; the
leaves showered them with shade and sun, as they drove along. "If it were
not for the children here," she said, "I should think that our first
drive on Goat Island had never ended."

She sighed a little, and Basil leaned forward and took her hand in his.
"It never has ended; it's the same drive; only we are younger now, and
enjoy it more." It always touched him when Isabel was sentimental about
the past, for the years had tended to make her rather more seriously
maternal towards him than towards the other children; and he recognized
that these fond reminiscences were the expression of the girlhood still
lurking deep within her heart.

She shook her head. "No, but I'm willing the children should be young in
our place. It's only fair they should have their turn."

She remained in the carriage, while Basil visited the various points of
view on Luna Island with the boy and girl. A boy is probably of
considerable interest to himself, and a man looks back at his own boyhood
with some pathos. But in his actuality a boy has very little to commend
him to the toleration of other human beings. Tom was very well, as boys
go; but now his contribution to the common enjoyment was to venture as
near as possible to all perilous edges; to throw stones into the water,
and to make as if to throw them over precipices on the people below; to
pepper his father with questions, and to collect cumbrous mementos of the
vegetable and mineral kingdoms. He kept the carriage waiting a good five
minutes, while he could cut his initials on a band-rail. "You can come
back and see 'em on your bridal tower," said the driver. Isabel gave a
little start, as if she had almost thought of something she was trying to
think of.

They occasionally met ladies driving, and sometimes they encountered a
couple making a tour of the island on foot. But none of these people were
young, and Basil reported that the Three Sisters were inhabited only by
persons of like maturity; even a group of people who were eating lunch to
the music of the shouting Rapids, on the outer edge of the last Sister,
were no younger, apparently.

Isabel did not get out of the carriage to verify his report; she
preferred to refute his story of her former panic on those islands by
remaining serenely seated while he visited them. She thus lost a superb
novelty which nature has lately added to the wonders of this Fall, in
that place at the edge of the great Horse Shoe where the rock has fallen
and left a peculiarly shaped chasm: through this the spray leaps up from
below, and flashes a hundred feet into the air, in rocket-like jets and
points, and then breaks and dissolves away in the pyrotechnic curves of a
perpetual Fourth of July. Basil said something like this in celebrating
the display, with the purpose of rendering her loss more poignant; but
she replied, with tranquil piety, that she would rather keep her Niagara
unchanged; and she declared that, as she understood him, there must be
something rather cheap and conscious in the new feature. She approved,
however, of the change that had removed that foolish little Terrapin
Tower from the brink on which it stood, and she confessed that she could
have enjoyed a little variety in the stories the driver told them of the
Indian burial-ground on the island: they were exactly the stories she and
Basil had heard twelve years before, and the ill-starred goats, from
which the island took its name, perished once more in his narrative.

Under the influence of his romances our travelers began to find the whole
scene hackneyed; and they were glad to part from him a little sooner than
they had bargained to do. They strolled about the anomalous village on
foot, and once more marveled at the paucity of travel and the enormity of
the local preparation. Surely the hotels are nowhere else in the world so
large! Could there ever have been visitors enough at Niagara to fill
them? They were built so big for some good reason, no doubt; but it is no
more apparent than why all these magnificent equipages are waiting about
the empty streets for the people who never come to hire them.

"It seems to me that I don't see so many strangers here as I used," Basil
had suggested to their driver.

"Oh, they have n't commenced coming yet," he replied, with hardy
cheerfulness, and pretended that they were plenty enough in July and
August.

They went to dine at the modest restaurant of a colored man, who
advertised a table d'hote dinner on a board at his door; and they put
their misgivings to him, which seemed to grieve him, and he contended
that Niagara was as prosperous and as much resorted to as ever. In fact,
they observed that their regret for the supposed decline of the Falls as
a summer resort was nowhere popular in the village, and they desisted in
their offers of sympathy, after their rebuff from the restaurateur.

Basil got his family away to the station after dinner, and left them
there, while he walked down the village street, for a closer inspection
of the hotels. At the door of the largest a pair of children sported in
the solitude, as fearlessly as the birds on Selkirk's island; looking
into the hotel, he saw a few porters and call-boys seated in statuesque
repose against the wall, while the clerk pined in dreamless inactivity
behind the register; some deserted ladies flitted through the door of the
parlor at the side. He recalled the evening of his former visit, when he
and Isabel had met the Ellisons in that parlor, and it seemed, in the
retrospect, a scene of the wildest gayety. He turned for consolation into
the barber's shop, where he found himself the only customer, and no busy
sound of "Next" greeted his ear. But the barber, like all the rest, said
that Niagara was not unusually empty; and he came out feeling bewildered
and defrauded. Surely the agent of the boats which descend the Rapids of
the St. Lawrence must be frank, if Basil went to him and pretended that
he was going to buy a ticket. But a glance at the agent's sign showed
Basil that the agent, with his brave jollity of manner and his impressive
"Good-morning," had passed away from the deceits of travel, and that he
was now inherited by his widow, who in turn was absent, and temporarily
represented by their son. The boy, in supplying Basil with an
advertisement of the line, made a specious show of haste, as if there
were a long queue of tourists waiting behind him to be served with
tickets. Perhaps there was, indeed, a spectral line there, but Basil was
the only tourist present in the flesh, and he shivered in his isolation,
and fled with the advertisement in his hand. Isabel met him at the door
of the station with a frightened face.

"Basil," she cried, "I have found out what the trouble is! Where are the
brides?"

He took her outstretched hands in his, and passing one of them through
his arm walked with her apart from the children, who were examining at
the news-man's booth the moccasins and the birchbark bric-a-brac of the
Irish aborigines, and the cups and vases of Niagara spar imported from
Devonshire.

"My dear," he said, "there are no brides; everybody was married twelve
years ago, and the brides are middle-aged mothers of families now, and
don't come to Niagara if they are wise."

"Yes," she desolately asserted, "that is so! Something has been hanging
over me ever since we came, and suddenly I realized that it was the
absence of the brides. But--but--down at the hotels--Didn't you see
anything bridal there? When the omnibuses arrived, was there no burst of
minstrelsy? Was there--"

She could not go on, but sank nervelessly into the nearest seat.

"Perhaps," said Basil, dreamily regarding the contest of Tom and Bella
for a newly-purchased paper of sour cherries, and helplessly forecasting
in his remoter mind the probable consequences, "there were both brides
and minstrelsy at the hotel, if I had only had the eyes to see and the
ears to hear. In this world, my dear, we are always of our own time, and
we live amid contemporary things. I daresay there were middle-aged people
at Niagara when we were here before, but we did not meet them, nor they
us. I daresay that the place is now swarming with bridal couples, and it
is because they are invisible and inaudible to us that it seems such a
howling wilderness. But the hotel clerks and the restaurateurs and the
hackmen know them, and that is the reason why they receive with surprise
and even offense our sympathy for their loneliness. Do you suppose,
Isabel, that if you were to lay your head on my shoulder, in a bridal
manner, it would do anything to bring us en rapport with that lost bridal
world again?"

Isabel caught away her hand. "Basil," she cried, "it would be disgusting!
I wouldn't do it for the world--not even for that world. I saw one
middle-aged couple on Goat Island, while you were down at the Cave of the
Winds, or somewhere, with the children. They were sitting on some steps,
he a step below her, and he seemed to want to put his head on her knee;
but I gazed at him sternly, and he didn't dare. We should look like them,
if we yielded to any outburst of affection. Don't you think we should
look like them?"

"I don't know," said Basil. "You are certainly a little wrinkled, my
dear."

"And you are very fat, Basil."

They glanced at each other with a flash of resentment, and then they both
laughed. "We couldn't look young if we quarreled a week," he said. "We
had better content ourselves with feeling young, as I hope we shall do if
we live to be ninety. It will be the loss of others if they don't see our
bloom upon us. Shall I get you a paper of cherries, Isabel? The children
seem to be enjoying them."

Isabel sprang upon her offspring with a cry of despair. "Oh, what shall I
do? Now we shall not have a wink of sleep with them to-night. Where is
that nux?" She hunted for the medicine in her bag, and the children
submitted; for they had eaten all the cherries, and they took their
medicine without a murmur. "I wonder at your letting them eat the sour
things, Basil," said their mother, when the children bad run off to the
newsstand again.

"I wonder that you left me to see what they were doing," promptly
retorted their father.

"It was your nonsense about the brides," said Isabel; "and I think this
has been a lesson to us. Don't let them get anything else to eat,
dearest."

"They are safe; they have no more money. They are frugally confining
themselves to the admiration of the Japanese bows and arrows yonder. Why
have our Indians taken to making Japanese bows and arrows?"

Isabel despised the small pleasantry. "Then you saw nobody at the hotel?"
she asked.

"Not even the Ellisons," said Basil.

"Ah, yes," said Isabel; "that was where we met them. How long ago it
seems! And poor little Kitty! I wonder what has become of them? But I'm
glad they're not here. That's what makes you realize your age: meeting
the same people in the same place a great while after, and seeing how
old--they've grown. I don't think I could bear to see Kitty Ellison
again. I'm glad she did n't come to visit us in Boston, though, after
what happened, she could n't, poor thing! I wonder if she 's ever
regretted her breaking with him in the way she did. It's a very painful
thing to think of,--such an inconclusive conclusion; it always seemed as
if they ought to meet again, somewhere."

"I don't believe she ever wished it."

"A man can't tell what a woman wishes."

"Well, neither can a woman," returned Basil, lightly.

His wife remained serious. "It was a very fine point,--a very little
thing to reject a man for. I felt that when I first read her letter about
it."

Basil yawned. "I don't believe I ever knew just what the point was."

"Oh yes, you did; but you forget everything. You know that they met two
Boston ladies just after they were engaged, and she believed that he did
n't introduce her because he was ashamed of her countrified appearance
before them."

"It was a pretty fine point," said Basil, and he laughed provokingly.

"He might not have meant to ignore her," answered Isabel thoughtfully;
"he might have chosen not to introduce her because he felt too proud of
her to subject her to any possible misappreciation from them. You might
have looked at it in that way."

"Why didn't you look at it in that way? You advised her against giving
him another chance. Why did you?"

"Why?" repeated Isabel, absently. "Oh, a woman does n't judge a man by
what he does, but by what he is! I knew that if she dismissed him it was
because she never really had trusted or could trust his love; and I
thought she had better not make another trial."

"Well, very possibly you were right. At any rate, you have the
consolation of knowing that it's too late to help it now."

"Yes, it's too late," said Isabel; and her thoughts went back to her
meeting with the young girl whom she had liked so much, and whose after
history had interested her so painfully. It seemed to her a hard world
that could come to nothing better than that for the girl whom she had
seen in her first glimpse of it that night. Where was she now? What had
become of her? If she had married that man, would she have been any
happier? Marriage was not the poetic dream of perfect union that a girl
imagines it; she herself had found that out. It was a state of trial, of
probation; it was an ordeal, not an ecstasy. If she and Basil had broken
each other's hearts and parted, would not the fragments of their lives
have been on a much finer, much higher plane? Had not the commonplace,
every-day experiences of marriage vulgarized them both? To be sure, there
were the children; but if they had never had the children, she would
never have missed them; and if Basil had, for example, died just before
they were married--She started from this wicked reverie, and ran towards
her husband, whose broad, honest back, with no visible neck or
shirt-collar, was turned towards her, as he stood, with his head thrown
up, studying a time-table on the wall; she passed her arm convulsively
through his, and pulled him away.

"It's time to be getting our bags out to the train, Basil! Come, Bella!
Tom, we're going!"

The children reluctantly turned from the newsman's trumpery, and they all
went out to the track, and took seats on the benches under the colonnade.
While they waited; the train for Buffalo drew in, and they remained
watching it till it started. In the last car that passed them, when it
was fairly under way, a face looked full at Isabel from one of the
windows. In that moment of astonishment she forgot to observe whether it
was sad or glad; she only saw, or believed she saw, the light of
recognition dawn into its eyes, and then it was gone.

"Basil!" she cried, "stop the train! That was Kitty Ellison!"

"Oh no, it wasn't," said Basil, easily. "It looked like her; but it
looked at least ten years older."

"Why, of course it was! We're all ten years older," returned his wife in
such indignation at his stupidity that she neglected to insist upon his
stopping the train, which was rapidly diminishing in the perspective.

He declared it was only a fancied resemblance; she contended that this
was in the neighborhood of Eriecreek, and it must be Kitty; and thus one
of their most inveterate disagreements began.

Their own train drew into the depot, and they disputed upon the fact in
question till they entered on the passage of the Suspension Bridge. Then
Basil rose and called the children to his side. On the left hand, far up
the river, the great Fall shows, with its mists at its foot and its
rainbow on its brow, as silent and still as if it were vastly painted
there; and below the bridge on the right, leap the Rapids in the narrow
gorge, like seas on a rocky shore. "Look on both sides, now," he said to
the children. "Isabel you must see this!"

Isabel had been preparing for the passage of this bridge ever since she
left Boston. "Never!" she exclaimed. She instantly closed her eyes, and
hid her face in her handkerchief. Thanks to this precaution of hers, the
train crossed the bridge in perfect safety.




PG EDITORS BOOKMARKS:

    All luckiest or the unluckiest, the healthiest or the sickest
    All the loveliness that exists outside of you, dearest is little
    Amusing world, if you do not refuse to be amused
    At heart every man is a smuggler
    Beautiful with the radiance of loving and being loved
    Bewildering labyrinth of error
    Biggest place is always the kindest as well as the cruelest
    Brown-stone fronts
    Civilly protested and consented
    Coldly and inaccessibly vigilant
    Collective silence which passes for sociality
    Deadly summer day
    Dinner unites the idea of pleasure and duty
    Dog that had plainly made up his mind to go mad
    Evil which will not let a man forgive his victim
    Feeblest-minded are sure to lead the talk
    Feeling of contempt for his unambitious destination
    Feeling rather ashamed,--for he had laughed too
    Glad; which considering, they ceased to be
    Guilty rapture of a deliberate dereliction
    Happiness built upon and hedged about with misery
    Happiness is so unreasonable
    Headache darkens the universe while it lasts
    Heart that forgives but does not forget
    Helplessness accounts for many heroic facts in the world
    Helplessness begets a sense of irresponsibility
    I supposed I had the pleasure of my wife's acquaintance
    I want to be sorry upon the easiest possible terms
    I'm not afraid--I'm awfully demoralized
    Indulge safely in the pleasures of autobiography
    It 's the same as a promise, your not saying you wouldn't
    It had come as all such calamities come, from nothing
    Jesting mood in the face of all embarrassments
    Long life of holidays which is happy marriage
    Married the whole mystifying world of womankind
    Muddy draught which impudently affected to be coffee
    Never could have an emotion without desiring to analyze it
    Nothing so apt to end in mutual dislike,--except gratitude
    Nothing so sad to her as a bride, unless it's a young mother
    Oblivion of sleep
    Only so much clothing as the law compelled
    Parkman
    Patronizing spirit of travellers in a foreign country
    Rejoice in everything that I haven't done
    Seemed the last phase of a world presently to be destroyed
    Self-sufficiency, without its vulgarity
    So hard to give up doing anything we have meant to do
    So old a world and groping still
    The knowledge of your helplessness in any circumstances
    There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure
    They can only do harm by an expression of sympathy
    Tragical character of heat
    Used to having his decisions reached without his knowledge
    Vexed by a sense of his own pitifulness
    Voice of the common imbecility and incoherence
    Weariness of buying
    Willingness to find poetry in things around them





End of Project Gutenberg's Their Wedding Journey, by William Dean Howells

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY ***

***** This file should be named 3365.txt or 3365.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.net/3/3/6/3365/

Produced by David Widger

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.net/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.net),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
business@pglaf.org.  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     gbnewby@pglaf.org


Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.


Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.


Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.net

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext3365, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext3365



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."