« PreviousContinue »
when she sent him for a glass of water. He started precipitately, as if his life depended on the speedy accomplishment of the order. In the mean time I was astonished to find that I had forgotten entirely what I intended to say, and instead only uttered some awkward and pointless commouplace. With an air of kind concern my companion asked if I was not very much fatigued or unwell.
While reassuring her on these points I felt my usual easy confidence return, and had just begun to recall one of my little orations, when my friend, the megalonyx, entered the room, and waddling directly up to where we sat professed herself enraptured at my safe return. How supremely intense, how inexpressibly exquisite must have been my enjoyments on that long romantic ride! What advantages men possessed over the gentler sex! She envied them; sheoften wishedthat Heaven had made her a man. "Ah, Mr. Berkeley, do excuse me for interrupting your charming tete-a-tete; but won't you be so kind as to give me your arm for a moment? I see a dear friend over there by the window, and I am such a nervous, foolish creature that I can not cross a room alone before so much company."
I did not groan aloud as I gave her my arm and escorted her to the opposite side of the parlor. As I suspected, the dear friend was an artifice. She did not even pretend to recognize or speak to any one, but declining the seat which I urged her to accept, she hung on to me like the Old Man of the Sea. While she gabbled I cast a despairing look toward the seat I had left. I saw Dick enter with the glass of water, which the lady merely sipped and returned, thereby giving me assurance that she had only sent for it to disembarrass herself of his company. True politeness is social freedom, not bondage. I determined to get rid of my incubus at all hazards; but while I meditated a plan, some one at the piano struck up a merry air, and the young people took their places on the floor for a quadrille.
"Do you dance, Mr. Berkeley?" asked Miss Puffin.
I answered, evasively, that I had occasionally danced, but was not fond of it.
"It is not considered an intellectual amusement," she said; "but there is something airy and graceful about it: and really now, if I hadn't this open wrapper on, I could be induced to join the set."
I saw Dick standing up with Ellen, and relying on the fact of the open wrapper, I thought I might risk a civility; so I intimated to Miss Puffin that, had she been in dancing trim, I should have been happy to joiu the quadrille with her; but as it was—
"Indeed, Sir, I can not refuse you under any circumstances. As you are not fond of dancing I accept the invitation as a personal compliment. So I'll just slip a pin in the wrapper to prevent its flying open—it will not be noticed; and if it is, I am above caring for fashion or form—nature is my idol: I am all nature, Mr. Berkeley—all nature!" she repeated, emphasizing the assertion with her favorite gesture.
Man, in his physical, political, moral, and social relations, is only capable of sustaining a limited amount of pressure. The fable of the camel whose back was broken by the addition of a feather to his burden, finds its moral, daily and hourly, in the current events of our lives. As we took our places I observed that Dick and his partner were convulsed with suppressed laughter. It flashed upon me that they had conspired to place me in a ridiculous position, and I resolved on immediate and ruthless vengeance on all parties concerned, beginning with the victim nearest my elbow. At the next "promenade all round," I accidentally trod with my whole weight on my partner's toe. A shrill screech followed, and at the same time losing my balance I fell sprawling on the floor. Over my prostrate body rolled my unfortunate partner with a jar that made the windows rattle. In the confusion that ensued I slipped out of the room, scribbled a hasty note to be handed to Dick Dashaway in the morning, and gave a man five dollars to drive me over to Gorham that night.
The following evening I spent in the city of Montreal, and from thence a two-weeks' tour by way of the St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario, Niagara, and Central Pennsylvania, brought me to my place in the Virginia Mountains. The Hardys, accompanied by Dick, had returned the week before. I had entirely forgotten my ill-humor, and lost no time in paying my respects. I found Dick spreading himself like the American eagle in the morning sun, and we had a world of merriment over our White Mountain adventures. From the course of events since that time it need not be a matter of surprise if our Summer in New England should terminate in an old-fashioned Virginia wedding.
SUMMER Winds, whispering over the rye,
Tell me, Summer Winds, fresh and fair,
But the balmy breezes floated away,
Daintily sighing—no word said they.
Bear ye no word from my maiden to me?
Ah! well do I know that her fondest dreams By the sun's warm light or the moon's pale beams
Has she not murmured some tender word, That ye, as ye floated by, have heard?
O, faithless Winds! since thus ye are still,
I will send ye again to my maiden's side,
To tell her I'll meet her at even-tide.
Bid them to wait for the kisses they crave,
And linger not on the rivulet's wave.
Around the hill the Summer Winds sped,
Waving the moss on the cottage eaves,
Rustling the feathery locust-leaves,
Till they reached a garden, kept with care,
And found a beautiful maiden there,
They lifted the tresses of gold and brown
Then the balmy breezes frolicked away,
landscape which has made the waters—once silent, save only when rippled by the stealthy passage of the bireh canoe—tuneful with the flutter of a thousand sail, gathered from remotest seas; and which has covered the lonely forest-shores, far as the sight can scan, with the habitations of a great and happy people, until the wild home of the savage now stands transformed into the Empire City of a New World.
The peep here proposed at this land, so "pleasant to see" long ago, in its rude primeval garb, and so much more winsome now in its rich and rare adornment of human art and opulence, will be, for the most part, from the allsurrounding waters and their more immediate shores, with such occasional incursions into the interior as the nature of the case may demand.
At the cape on the Jersey shore known as Sandy Hook, and lying some thirty miles south of the great metropolis, the voyager is at the extremity of the lower, or outer bay, and is considered to have fairly begun or ended his ocean cruise, as he may chance to be outward or homeward bound. Approaching the city thence, the transit of half the intervening distance will bring him to the "Narrows," the famous passage which connects the outer with the inner harbor. On the right, at this point, the swecp
AVERV good land to fall in with, and a pleasant land to see!" was the unctuous i-jaculation which rolled from the lips of the "tout and staid old explorer, Hendrick Hudson, when he first gazed, two and a half centuries ago, upon that wondrous scene, now famous the wide world over as the Bay and City of New York.
Not one of all the millions whose eyes have ?ince been blessed as were those of the " ancient mariner" has failed to echo his pleasurable sentiment, and in a crescendo of satisfaction commensurate with that ever-growing beautv of the
ing skirts of Long Island trail in the sea, turned up in the way of a hem, with the classic shores of that redoubtable suburban resort for ocean sports and pleasures, Coney Island. On the other hand are the bold hill-slopes of Staten Island, radiant every where with sunny village and villa. On either side, as he sails along, frowning fortresses indicate the proximity of the life and treasure they are placed to guard; and the splendors of which soon dazzle the eye as it falls upon the countless roofs and towers, the swarming population, and the ceaseless industry of a great maritime capital. Impressive is the beautiful spectacle always, even to the most familiar sight and to the least sensitive heart.
The fortresses which we have passed in our ocean approach to the city form its chief means of defense against a foreign foe, though other lesser works are around us as we lie at anchor in the harbor. All of them together may, when improvements now in progress are completed, be able to mount between eleven and twelve hundred guns. Their strength is deemed to be insufficient against the magnitude and formidable- ness of the present means and methods of maritime assault—of such terrible enginery as was recently opposed to Sebastopol, and prepared for Cronstadt; and various additional and more effective constructions will, it is hoped, soon keep watch at each and every assailable point. The fortifications in the Lower Bay and the Narrows include an unfinished, and as yet unbaptized work —said to be the largest in the country—at Sandy Hook. Its capacity is estimated at two hundred guns; next, Fort Hamilton, eighty guns—on Long Island, and near by, Fort Lafayette, with seventy-seven guns; Fort Richmond and Fort Tompkins, opposite, on Staten Island, the former with one hundred and forty, and the latter with forty guns; and batteries Hudson and Morton, sixty guns, also on Staten Island. In the inner harbor there is Fort Columbus, Castle William, and South Battery, on Governor's Island, with an aggregate strength of one hundred and eighty-two pieces; Fort Wood, sixty-seven guns, on Bedloe's Island; some inconsiderable defenses on Ellis's Island, and Castle Clinton (more popularly known as Castle Garden), at the city pleasure-ground of the Battery. Last, and chiefest of all, is Fort Schuyler, a casemated fort of great strength, and mounting two hundred and forty - nine guns, protecting the entrance to the East River from Long Island Sound.
Fort Richmond is a mod
ern fabric, large and casemated, on the site of the old water battery of the same name. Fort Tompkins is a new work, now in process of erection, also near the site of an ancient namesake. Fort Hamilton, which is reached by a pleasant sail of eight miles down the bay, is a favorite suburban resort; a little hamlet lies around it, and conveniently near is a large summer hotel. The locality affords excellent opportunities for the refreshment of sea-bathing. Passengers thither are dropped by the boats which pass between the city and Coney Island.
The fortifications on Staten Island are equally interesting destinations on a morning ramble, the journey, no less than that to Fort Hamilton, involving the delightful voyage down the bay, and leading to many marvelously picturesque points of view on the shores and the overlooking hill-tops. If the stranger would see New York in one of its most charming aspects, or if the citizen would refresh his wearied soul with an hour's cheering communion with Nature in her heartiest and most inspiriting mood, let him hie to the happy retreats of Staten Island. Great
is the pleasure and small the cost of the journey, for—as may happily be said of each of the attractive points in the vicinage of the town—a poor little sixpence will buy it at any hour.
One of the busiest places on the island is the thriving village of Tompkinsville, opposite the Quarantine Ground, at the Narrows. Back of this village the ground rises boldly to an elevation of some three hundred feet, overlooking land and sea for miles around, and commanding, among other wonderful scenes, the view of the bay and city presented in our frontispiece. Down in the fore-ground, at the left of the picture, is a glimpse of a portion of the town and of the site of the hospitals, which were offered as a