Frank R. Stockton
Part 3 out of 3
pretty much all over the town, sometimes stopping to look in at the
shop windows, for the sidewalks are so narrow that it is no trouble to
see the things from the street. Then the men took us a little way out
of the town to a place where there was a good view for us, and a bench
where they could go and sit down and rest. I expect all the chair men
that work by the hour manage to get to this place with a view as soon
as they can.
After they had had a good rest we started off to go home by a different
route. Jone's man was a good strong fellow and always took the lead,
but my puller was a different kind of a steed, and sometimes I was left
pretty far behind. I had not paid much attention to the man at first,
only noticing that he was mighty slow; but going back a good deal of
the way was uphill, and then all his imperfections came out plain, and
I couldn't help studying him. If he had been a horse I should have said
he was spavined and foundered, with split frogs and tonsilitis; but as
he was a man, it struck me that he must have had several different
kinds of rheumatism and been sent to Buxton to have them cured, but not
taking the baths properly, or drinking the water at times when he ought
not to have done it, his rheumatisms had all run together and had
become fixed and immovable. How such a creaky person came to be a
bath-chair man I could not think, but it may be that he wanted to stay
in Buxton for the sake of the loose gas which could be had for nothing,
and that bath-chairing was all he could get to do.
I pitied the poor old fellow, who, if he had been a horse, would have
been no more than fourteen hands high, and as he went puffing along,
tugging and grunting as if I was a load of coal, I felt as if I
couldn't stand it another minute, and I called out to him to stop. It
did seem as if he would drop before he got me back to the hotel, and I
bounced out in no time, and then I walked in front of him and turned
around and looked at him. If it is possible for a human hack-horse to
have spavins in two joints in each leg, that man had them; and he
looked as if he couldn't remember what it was to have a good feed.
He seemed glad to rest, but didn't say anything, standing and looking
straight ahead of him like an old horse that has been stopped to let
him blow. He did look so dreadful feeble that I thought it would be a
mercy to take him to some member of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals and have him chloroformed. "Look here," said I, "you
are not fit to walk. Get into that bath-chair, and I'll pull you back
to your stand."
"Lady," said he, "I couldn't do that. If you dunno mind walking home,
and will pay me for the two hours all the same, I will be right
thankful for that. I'm poorly to-day."
"Get into the chair," said I, "and I'll pull you back. I'd like to do
it, for I want some exercise."
"Oh, no, no!" said he. "That would be a sin; and besides I was engaged
to pull you two hours, and I must be paid for that."
"Get into that chair," I said, "and I'll pay you for your two hours and
give you a shilling besides."
He looked at me for a minute, and then he got into the chair, and I
shut him up.
"Now, lady," said he, "you can pull me a little way if you want
exercise, and as soon as you are tired you can stop, and I'll get out,
but you must pay me the extra shilling all the same."
"All right," said I, and taking hold of the handle I started off. It
was real fun; the bath-chair rolled along beautifully, and I don't
believe the old man weighed much more than my Corinne when I used to
push her about in her baby carriage. We were in a back street, where
there was hardly anybody; and as for Jone and his bath-chair, I could
just see them ever so far ahead, so I started to catch up, and as the
street was pretty level now I soon got going at a fine rate. I hadn't
had a bit of good exercise for a long time, and this warmed me up and
made me feel gay.
[Illustration: "STOP, LADY, AND I'LL GET OUT"]
We was not very far behind Jone when the man began to call to me in a
sort of frightened fashion, as if he thought I was running away.
"Stop, lady!" he said; "we are getting near the gardens, and the people
will laugh at me. Stop, lady, and I'll get out." But I didn't feel a
bit like stopping; the idea had come into my head that it would be
jolly to beat Jone. If I could pass him and sail on ahead for a little
while, then I'd stop and let my old man get out and take his bath-chair
home. I didn't want it any more.
Just as I got close up behind Jone, and was about to make a rush past
him, his man turned into a side street. Of course I turned too, and
then I put on steam, and, giving a laugh as I turned around to look at
Jone, I charged on, intending to stop in a minute and have some fun in
hearing what Jone had to say about it; but you may believe, ma'am, that
I was amazed when I saw only a little way in front of me the bath-chair
stand where we had hired our machines! And all the bath-chair men were
standing there with their mouths wide open, staring at a woman running
along the street, pulling an old bath-chair man in a bath-chair! For a
second I felt like dropping the handle I held and making a rush for the
front door of the hotel, which was right ahead of me; and then I
thought, as now I was in for it, it would be a lot better to put a good
face on the matter, and not look as if I had done anything I was
ashamed of, and so I just slackened speed and came up in fine style at
the door of the Old Hall. Four or five of the bath-chair men came
running across the street to know if anything had happened to the old
party I was pulling, and he got out looking as ashamed as if he had
been whipped by his wife.
"It's a lark, mates," said he; "the lady's to pay me two shillings
extra for letting her pull me."
"Two shillings?" said I. "I only promised you one."
"That would be for pulling me a little way," he said; "but you pulled
me all the way back, and I couldn't do it for less than two shillings."
Jone now came up and got out quick.
"What's the meaning of all this, Pomona?" said he.
"Meaning?" said I. "Look at that dilapidated old bag of bones. He
wasn't fit to pull me, and so I thought it would be fun to pull him;
but, of course, I didn't know when I turned the corner I would be here
at the stand."
Jone paid the men, including the two extra shillings, and when we went
up to our room he said, "The next time we go out in two bath-chairs, I
am going to have a chain fastened to yours, and I'll have hold of the
other end of it."
_Letter Number Eighteen_
I have begun to take the baths. There really is so little to do in this
place that I couldn't help it, and so, while Jone was off tending to
his hot soaks, I thought I might as well try the thing myself. At any
rate it would fill up the time when I was alone. I find I like this
sort of bathing very much, and I wish I had begun it before. It reminds
me of a kind of medicine for colds that you used to make for me, madam,
when I first came to the canal-boat. It had lemons and sugar in it, and
it was so good I remember I used to think that I would like to go into
a lingering consumption, so that I could have it three times a day,
until I finally passed away like a lily on a snowbank.
Jone's been going about a good deal in a bath-chair, and doesn't mind
my walking alongside of him. He says it makes him feel easier in his
mind, on the whole.
Mr. Poplington came two or three days ago, and he is stopping at our
hotel. We three have hired a carriage together two or three times and
have taken drives into, the country. Once we went to an inn, the Cat
and Fiddle, about five miles away, on a high bit of ground called Axe
Edge. It is said to be the highest tavern in England, and it's lucky
that it is, for that's the only recommendation it's got. The sign in
front of the house has on it a cat on its hind-legs playing a fiddle,
with a look on its face as if it was saying, "It's pretty poor, but
it's the best I can do for you."
Inside is another painting of a cat playing a fiddle, and truly that
one might be saying, "Ha! Ha! You thought that that picture on the sign
was the worst picture you ever saw in your life, but now you see how
you are mistaken."
Up on that high place you get the rain fresher than you do in Buxton,
because it hasn't gone so far through the air, and it's mixed with more
chilly winds than anywhere else in England, I should say. But everybody
is bound to go to the Cat and Fiddle at least once, and we are glad we
have been there, and that it is over. I like the places near the town a
great deal better, and some of them are very pretty. One day we two and
Mr. Poplington took a ride on top of a stage to see Haddon Hall and
Haddon Hall is to me like a dream of the past come true. Lots of other
old places have seemed like dreams, but this one was right before my
eyes, just as it always was. Of course, you must have read all about
it, madam, and I am not going to tell it over again. But think of it; a
grand old baronial mansion, part of it built as far back as the eleven
hundreds, and yet in good condition and fit to live in. That is what I
thought as I walked through its banqueting hall and courts and noble
chambers. "Why," said I to Jone, "in that kitchen our meals could be
cooked; at that table we could eat them; in these rooms we could sleep;
in these gardens and courts we could roam; we could actually live
here!" We haven't seen any other romance of the past that we could say
that about, and to this minute it puzzles me how any duke in this world
could be content to own a house like this and not live in it. But I
suppose he thinks more of water-pipes and electric lights than he does
of the memories of the past and time-hallowed traditions.
As for me, if I had been Dorothy Vernon, there's no man on earth, not
even Jone, that could make me run away from such a place as Haddon
Hall. They show the stairs down which she tripped with her lover when
they eloped; but if it had been me, it would have been up those stairs
I would have gone. Mr. Poplington didn't agree a bit with me about the
joy of living in this enchanting old house, and neither did Jone, I am
sure, although he didn't say so much. But then, they are both men, and
when it comes to soaring in the regions of romanticism you must not
expect too much of men.
After leaving Haddon Hall, which I did backward, the coach took us to
Chatsworth, which is a different sort of a place altogether. It is a
grand palace, at least it was built for one, but now it is an enormous
show place, bright and clean and sleek, and when we got there we saw
hundreds of visitors waiting to go in. They was taken through in squads
of about fifty, with a man to lead them, which he did very much as if
they was a drove of cattle.
The man who led our squad made us step along lively, and I must say
that never having been in a drove before, Jone and I began to get
restive long before we got through. As for the show, I like the British
Museum a great deal better. There is ever so much more to see there,
and you have time to stop and look at things. At Chatsworth they charge
you more, give you less, and treat you worse. When it came to taking us
through the grounds, Jone and I struck. We left the gang we was with,
and being shown where to find a gate out of the place, we made for that
gate and waited until our coach was ready to take us back to Buxton.
It is a lot of fun going to the theatre here. It doesn't cost much, and
the plays are good and generally funny, and a rheumatic audience is a
very jolly one. The people seemed glad to forget their backs, their
shoulders, and their legs, and they are ready to laugh at things that
are only half comic, and keep up a lively chattering between the acts.
It's fun to see them when the play is over. The bath-chairs that have
come after some of them are brought right into the building, and are
drawn up just like carriages after the theatre. The first time we went I
wanted Jone to stop a while and see if we didn't hear somebody call
out, "Mrs. Barchester's bath-chair stops the way!" but he said I
expected too much, and would not wait.
We sit about so much in the gardens, which are lively when it is clear,
and not bad even in a little drizzle, that we've got to know a good
many of the people; and although Jone's a good deal given to reading, I
like to sit and watch them and see what they are doing.
When we first came here I noticed a good-looking young woman who was
hauled about in a bath-chair, generally with an open book in her lap,
which she never seemed to read much, because she was always gazing
around as if she was looking for something. Before long I found out
what she was looking for, for every day, sooner or later, generally
sooner, there came along a bath-chair with a good-looking young man in
it. He had a book in his lap too, but he was never reading it when I
saw him, because he was looking for the young woman; and as soon as
they saw each other they began to smile, and as they passed they always
said something, but didn't stop. I wondered why they didn't give their
pullers a rest and have a good talk if they knew each other, but before
long I noticed not very far behind the young lady's bath-chair was
always another bath-chair with an old gentleman in it with a
bottle-nose. After a while I found out that this was the young lady's
father, because sometimes he would call to her and have her stop, and
then she generally seemed to get some sort of a scolding.
Of course, when I see anything of this kind going on, I can't help
taking one side or the other, and as you may well believe, madam, I
wouldn't be likely to take that of the old bottle-nosed man's side. I
had not been noticing these people for more than two or three days when
one morning, when Jone and me was sitting under an umbrella, for there
was a little more rain than common, I saw these two young people in
their bath-chairs, coming along side by side, and talking just as hard
as they could. At first I was surprised, but I soon saw how things was:
the old gentleman couldn't come out in the rain. It was plain enough
from the way these two young people looked at each other that they was
in love, and although it most likely hurt them just as much to come out
into the rain as it would the old man, love is all-powerful, even over
Pretty soon the clouds cleared away without notice, as they do in this
country, and it wasn't long before I saw, away off, the old man's
bath-chair coming along lively. His bottle-nose was sticking up in the
air, and he was looking from one side to the other as hard as he could.
The two lovers had turned off to the right and gone over a little
bridge and I couldn't see them; but by the way that old nose shook as
it got nearer and nearer to me, I saw they had reason to tremble,
though they didn't know it.
When the old father reached the narrow path he did not turn down it,
but kept straight on, and I breathed a sigh of deep relief. But the
next instant I remembered that the broad path turned not far beyond,
and that the little one soon ran into it, and so it could not be long
before the father and the lovers would meet. I like to tell Jone
everything I am going to do, when I am sure that he'll agree with me
that it is right; but this time I could not bother with explanations,
and so I just told him to sit still for a minute, for I wanted to see
something, and I walked after the young couple as fast as I could. When
I got to them, for they hadn't gone very far, I passed the young
woman's bath-chair, and then I looked around and I said to her, "I beg
your pardon, miss, but there is an old gentleman looking for you; but
as I think he is coming round this way, you'll meet him if you keep on
this path." "Oh, my!" said she unintentionally; and then she thanked me
very much, and I went on and turned a corner and went back to Jone, and
pretty soon the young man's bath-chair passed us going toward the
gate, he looking three-quarters happy, and the other quarter
disappointed, as lovers are if they don't get the whole loaf.
From that day until yesterday, which was a full week, I came into the
gardens every morning, sometimes even when Jone didn't want to come,
because I wanted to see as much of this love business as I could. For
my own use in thinking of them I named the young man Pomeroy and the
young woman Angelica, and as for the father, I called him Snortfrizzle,
being the worst name I could think of at the time. But I must wait
until my next letter to tell you the rest of the story of the lovers,
and I am sure you will be as much interested in them as I was.
_Letter Number Nineteen_
I have a good many things to tell you, for we leave Buxton to-morrow,
but I will first finish the story of Angelica and Pomeroy. I think the
men who pulled the bath-chairs of the lovers knew pretty much how
things was going, for whenever they got a chance they brought their
chairs together, and I often noticed them looking out for the old
father, and if they saw him coming they would move away from each other
if they happened to be together.
If Snortfrizzle's puller had been one of the regular bath-chair men
they might have made an agreement with him so that he would have kept
away from them; but he was a man in livery, with a high hat, who walked
very regular, like a high-stepping horse, and who, it was plain enough
to see, never had anything to do with common bath-chair men. Old
Snortfrizzle seemed to be smelling a rat more and more--that is, if it
is proper to liken Cupid to such an animal--and his nose seemed to get
purpler and purpler. I think he would always have kept close to
Angelica's chair if it hadn't been that he had a way of falling asleep,
and whenever he did this his man always walked very slow, being
naturally lazy. Two or three times I have seen Snortfrizzle wake up,
shout to his man, and make him trot around a clump of trees and into
some narrow path where he thought his daughter might have gone.
Things began to look pretty bad, for the old man had very strong
suspicions about Pomeroy, and was so very wide awake when he was awake,
that I knew it couldn't be long before he caught the two together, and
then I didn't believe that Angelica would ever come into these gardens
It was yesterday morning that I saw old Snortfrizzle with his chin down
on his shirt bosom, snoring so steady that his hat heaved, being very
slowly pulled along a shady walk, and then I saw his daughter, who was
not far ahead of him, turn into another walk, which led down by the
river. I knew very well that she ought not to turn into that walk,
because it didn't in any way lead to the place where Pomeroy was
sitting in his bath-chair behind a great clump of bushes and flowers,
with his face filled with the most lively emotions, but overspread
ever and anon by a cloudlet of despair on account of the approach of
the noontide hour, when Angelica and Snortfrizzle generally went home.
[Illustration: "Your brother is over there"]
The time was short, and I believed that love's young dream must be put
off until the next day if Angelica could not be made aware where
Pomeroy was sitting, or Pomeroy where Angelica was going; so I got
right up and made a short cut down a steep little path, and, sure
enough, I met her when I got to the bottom. "I beg your pardon very
much, miss," said I, "but your brother is over there in the entrance to
the cave, and I think he has been looking for you." "My brother?" said
she, turning as red as her ribbons was blue. "Oh, thank you very much!
Robertson, you may take me that way."
It wasn't long before I saw those two bath-chairs alongside of each
other, and covered from general observation by masses of blooming
shrubbery. As I had been the cause of bringing them together I thought
I had a right to look at them a little while, as that would be the only
reward I'd be likely to get, and so I did it. It was as I thought;
things was coming to a climax; the bath-chair men standing with much
consideration with their backs to their vehicles, and, united for the
time being by their clasped hands, the lovers grew tender to a degree
which I would have fain checked, had I been nearer, for fear of notice
But now my blood froze within my veins. I would never have believed
that a man in a high hat and livery a size too small for him could run,
but Snortfrizzle's man did, and at a pace which ought to have been
prohibited by law. I saw him coming from an unsuspected quarter, and
swoop around that clump of flowers and foliage. Regardless of
consequences I approached nearer. There was loud voices; there was
exclamations; there was a rattling of wheels; there was the sundering
of tender ties!
In a moment Pomeroy, who had backed off but a little way, began to
speak, but his voice was drowned in the thunder of Snortfrizzle's
denunciations. Angelica wept, and her head fell upon her lovely bosom,
and I am sure I heard her implore her man to remove her from the scene.
Pomeroy remained, his face firm, his eyes undaunted, but Snortfrizzle
shook his fist in unison with his nose, and, hurling an anathema at
him, followed his daughter, probably to incarcerate her in her
All was over, and I returned to Jone with a heavy heart and faltering
step. I could not but feel that I had brought about the sad end of this
tender chapter in the lives of Pomeroy and Angelica. If I had let them
alone they would not have met and they would not have been discovered
together. I didn't tell Jone what had happened, because he does not
always sympathize with me in my interest in others, and for hours my
heart was heavy.
It was about a half an hour before dinner that day when I thought that
a little walk might raise my spirits, and I wandered into the gardens,
for which we each have a weekly ticket, and there, to my amazement, not
far from the gate I saw Angelica in tears and her bath-chair. Her man
was not with her, and she was alone. When she saw me she looked at me
for a minute, and then she beckoned to me to come to her. I flew. There
were but few people in the gardens, and we was alone.
"Madam," said she, "I think you must be very kind. I believe you knew
that gentleman was not my brother. He is not."
"My dear miss," said I--I was almost on the point of calling her
Angelica--"I knew that. I know that he is something nearer and dearer
than even a brother."
She blushed. "Yes," said she, "you are right, and we are in great
"Oh, what is it? Tell me quick. What can I do to help you?"
"My father is very angry," said she, "and has forbidden me ever to see
him again, and he is going to take me home to-morrow. But we have
agreed to fly together to-day. It is our only chance, but he is not
here. Oh, dear! I do not know what I shall do."
"Where are you going to fly to?" said I.
"We want to take the Edinburgh train this evening if there is one," she
said, "and we get off at Carlisle, and from there it is only a little
way to Gretna Green."
"Gretna Green!" I cried. "Oh, I will help you! I will help you! Why
isn't the gentleman here, and where has he gone?"
"He has gone to see about the trains," she said, almost crying, "and I
don't see what keeps him. I could not get away until father went into
his room to dress for dinner, and as soon as he is ready he will call
for me. Where can he be? I have sent my man to look for him."
"Oh, I'll go look for him! You wait here," I cried, forgetting that
she would have to, and away I went.
As I was hurrying out of the gates of the gardens I looked in the
direction of the railroad station, and there I saw Pomeroy pulled by
one bath-chair man and the other one talking to him. In twenty bounds I
reached him. "Go back for your young lady," I cried to Robertson,
Angelica's man, "and bring her here on the run. She sent me for you."
Away went Robertson, and then I said to the astonished Pomeroy, "Sir,
there is no time for explanations. Your lady-love will be with you in a
minute. My husband and I are going to Edinburgh to-morrow, and I have
looked up all the trains. There is one which leaves here at twenty
minutes past six. If she comes soon you will have time to catch it.
Have you your baggage ready?"
He looked at me as if he wondered who on earth I was, but I am sure he
saw my soul in my face and trusted me.
"Yes," he said, "she has a little bag in her bath-chair, and mine is
"Here she comes," said I, "and you must fly to the station."
In a moment Angelica was with us, her face beaming with delight.
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" she cried, but I would not listen to her
gratitude. "Hurry!" I said, "or you will be too late. Joy go with
They hastened off, and I walked back to the gardens. I looked at my
watch, and to my horror I saw it was five minutes past six. Fifteen
minutes left yet. Fifteen minutes in which they might be overtaken. I
stopped for a moment irresolutely. What should I do? I thought of
running after them to the station. I thought in some way I might help
them--buy their tickets or do something. But while I was thinking I
heard a rattle, and down the street came the man in livery, and
Snortfrizzle's bottle-nose like a volcano behind him. The minute they
reached me, and there was nobody else in the street, the old man
shouted, "Hi! Have you seen two bath-chairs with a young man and a
young woman in them?"
I was on the point of saying No, but changed my mind like a flash. "Did
the young lady wear a hat with blue ribbons?" I asked.
"Yes!" he roared. "Which way did they go?"
"And did the young man with her wear eyeglasses and a brown moustache?"
"With her, was he?" screamed Snortfrizzle. "That's the rascal. Which
way did they go? Tell me instantly."
When I was a very little girl I knew an old woman who told me that if a
person was really good at heart, the holy angels would allow that
person, in the course of her life, twelve fibs without charge, provided
they was told for the good of somebody and not to do harm. Now at
such a moment as this I could not remember how many fibs of that kind I
had left over to my credit, but I knew there must be at least one, and
so I didn't hesitate a second. "They have gone to the Cat and Fiddle,"
said I. "I heard them tell their bath-chair men so, as they urged them
forward at the top of their speed. They stopped for a second here, sir,
and I heard the gentleman send a cabman for a clergyman, post haste, to
meet them at the Cat and Fiddle."
[Illustration: TO THE CAT AND FIDDLE]
If the sky had been lighted up by the eruption of Snortfrizzle's nose I
should not have been surprised.
"The fools! They can't! Cat and Fiddle! But they can't be half way
there. Martin, to the Cat and Fiddle!"
The man touched his hat. "But I couldn't do that, sir. I couldn't run
to the Cat and Fiddle. It's long miles, sir. Shall I get a carriage?"
"Carriage!" cried the old man, and then he began to look about him.
Horror struck me. Perhaps they would go to the station for one! Just
then a boy driving a pony and a grocery cart came up.
"There you are, sir," I cried. "Hire that boy to tow you. Your butler
can sit in the back of the cart and hold the handle of your bath-chair.
It may take long to get a carriage, and the cart will go much faster.
You may overtake them in a mile."
Old Snortfrizzle never so much as thanked me or looked at me. He yelled
to the boy in the cart, offered him ten shillings and sixpence to give
him a tow, and in less time than I could take to write it, that flunky
with a high hat was sitting in the tail of the cart, the pony was going
at full gallop, and the old man's bath-chair was spinning on behind it
at a great rate.
I did not leave that spot--standing statue-like and looking along both
roads--until I heard the rumble of the departing train, and then I
repaired to the Old Hall, my soul uplifted. I found Jone in an awful
fluster about my being out so late; but I do stay pretty late sometimes
when I walk by myself, and so he hadn't anything new to say.
_Letter Number Twenty_
We have been here five or six days now, but the first thing I must
write is the rest of the story of the lovers. We left Buxton the next
day after their flight, and I begged Jone to stop at Carlisle and let
us make a little trip to Gretna Green. I wanted to see the place that
has been such a well-spring of matrimonial joys, and besides, I thought
we might find Pomeroy and Angelica still there.
I had not seen old Snortfrizzle again, but late that night I had heard
a row in the hotel, and I expect it was him back from the Cat and
Fiddle. Whether he was inquiring for me or not I don't know, or what he
was doing, or what he did.
Jone thought I had done a good deal of meddling in other people's
business, but he agreed to go to Gretna Green, and we got there in the
afternoon. I left Jone to take a smoke at the station, because I
thought this was a business it would be better for me to attend to
myself, and I started off to look up the village blacksmith and ask him
if he had lately wedded a pair; but, will you believe it, madam, I had
not gone far on the main road of the village when, a little ahead of
me, I saw two bath-chairs coming toward me, one of them pulled by
Robertson, and the other by Pomeroy's man, and in these two chairs was
the happy lovers, evidently Mr. and Mrs.! Their faces was filled with
light enough to take a photograph, and I could almost see their hearts
swelling with transcendent joy. I hastened toward them, and in an
instant our hands was clasped as if we had been old friends.
They told me their tale. They had reached the station in plenty of
time, and Robertson had got a carriage for them, and he and the other
man had gone with them third class, with the bath-chairs in the goods
carriages. They had reached Gretna Green that morning, and had been
married two hours. Then I told my tale. The eyes of both of them was
dimmed with tears, hers the most, and again they clasped my hands.
"Poor father," said Angelica, "I hope he didn't go all the way to the
Cat and Fiddle, and that the night air didn't strike into his joints;
but he cannot separate us now." And she looked confiding at the other
"What are you going to do?" said I, and they said they had just been
making plans. I saw, though, that their minds was in too exalted a
state to do this properly for themselves, and so I reflected a minute.
"How long have you been in Buxton?"
"I have been there two weeks and two days," said she, "and my
husband"--oh, the effulgence that filled her countenance as she said
this--"has been there one day longer."
"Then," said I, "my advice to you is to go back to Buxton and stay
there five days, until you both have taken the waters and the baths for
the full three weeks. It won't be much to bear the old gentleman's
upbraiding for five days, and then, blessed with health and love, you
can depart. No matter what you do afterward, I'd stick it out at Buxton
for five days."
"We'll do it," said they; and then, after more gratitude and
congratulations, we parted.
And now I must tell you about ourselves. When Jone had been three weeks
at Buxton, and done all the things he ought to do, and hadn't done
anything he oughtn't to do, he hadn't any more rheumatism in him than a
squirrel that jumps from bough to bough. But will you believe it,
madam, I had such a rheumatism in one side and one arm that it made me
give little squeaks when I did up my back hair, and it all came from my
taking the baths when there wasn't anything the matter with me; for I
found out, but all too late, that while the waters of Buxton will cure
rheumatism in people that's got it, they will bring it out in people
who never had it at all. We was told that we ought not to do anything
in the bathing line without the advice of a doctor; but those little
tanks in the floors of the bathrooms, all lined with tiles and filled
with warm, transparent water, that you went down into by marble steps,
did seem so innocent, that I didn't believe there was no need in asking
questions about them. Jone wanted me to stay three weeks longer until I
was cured, but I wouldn't listen to that. I was wild to get to
Scotland, and as my rheumatism did not hinder me from walking, I didn't
mind what else it did.
And there is another thing I must tell you. One day when I was sitting
by myself on The Slopes waiting for Jone, about lunch time, and with a
reminiscence floating through my mind of the Devonshire clotted cream
of the past, never perhaps to return, I saw an elderly woman coming
along, and when she got near she stopped and spoke. I knew her in an
instant. She was the old body we met at the Babylon Hotel, who told us
about the cottage at Chedcombe. I asked her to sit down beside me and
talk, because I wanted to tell her what good times we had had, and how
we liked the place, but she said she couldn't, as she was obliged to go
"And did you like Chedcombe?" said she. "I hope you and your husband
I said yes, except Jone's rheumatism, we felt splendid; for my aches
hadn't come on then, and I was going on to gush about the lovely
country she had sent us to, but she didn't seem to want to listen.
"Really," said she, "and your husband had the rheumatism. It was a
wise thing for you to come here. We English people have reason to be
proud of our country. If we have our banes, we also have our antidotes;
and it isn't every country that can say that, is it?"
[Illustration: "And did you like Chedcombe?"]
I wanted to speak up for America, and tried to think of some good
antidote with the proper banes attached; but before I could do it she
gave her head a little wag, and said, "Good morning; nice weather,
isn't it?" and wobbled away. It struck me that the old body was a
little lofty, and just then Mr. Poplington, who I hadn't noticed, came
"Really," said he, "I didn't know you was acquainted with the
"The which?" said I.
"The Countess of Mussleby," said he, "that you was just talking to."
"Countess!" I cried. "Why, that's the old person who recommended us to
go to Chedcombe."
"Very natural," said he, "for her to do that, for her estates lie south
of Chedcombe, and she takes a great interest in the villages around
about, and knows all the houses to let."
I parted from him and wandered away, a sadness stealing o'er my soul.
Gone with the recollections of the clotted cream was my visions of
diamond tiaras, tossing plumes, and long folds of brocades and laces
sweeping the marble floors of palaces. If ever again I read a novel
with a countess in it, I shall see the edge of a yellow flannel
petticoat and a pair of shoes like two horse-hair bags, which was the
last that I saw of this thunderbolt into the middle of my visions of
Jone and me got to like Buxton very much. We met many pleasant people,
and as most of them had a chord in common, we was friendly enough. Jone
said it made him feel sad in the smoking-room to see the men he'd got
acquainted with get well and go home, but that's a kind of sadness that
all parties can bear up under pretty well.
I haven't said a word yet about Scotland, though we have been here a
week, but I really must get something about it into this letter. I was
saying to Jone the other day that if I was to meet a king with a crown
on his head I am not sure that I should know that king if I saw him
again, so taken up would I be with looking at his crown, especially if
it had jewels in it such as I saw in the regalia at the Tower of
London. Now Edinburgh seems to strike me in very much the same way.
Prince Street is its crown, and whenever I think of this city it will
be of this magnificent street and the things that can be seen from it.
It is a great thing for a street to have one side of it taken away and
sunk out of sight so that there is a clear view far and wide, and
visitors can stand and look at nearly everything that is worth seeing
in the whole town, as if they was in the front seats of the balcony in
a theatre, and looking on the stage. You know I am very fond of the
theatre, madam, but I never saw anything in the way of what they call
spectacular representation that came near Edinburgh as seen from Prince
But as I said in one of my first letters, I am not going to write about
things and places that you can get much better description of in books,
and so I won't take up any time in telling how we stand at the window
of our room at the Royal Hotel, and look out at the Old Town standing
like a forest of tall houses on the other side of the valley, with the
great castle perched up high above them, and all the hills and towers
and the streets all spread out below us, with Scott's monument right in
front, with everybody he ever wrote about standing on brackets, which
stick out everywhere from the bottom up to the very top of the
monument, which is higher than the tallest house, and looks like a
steeple without a church to it. It is the most beautiful thing of the
kind I ever saw, and I have made out, or think I have, nearly every one
of the figures that's carved on it.
I think I shall like the Scotch people very much, but just now there is
one thing about them that stands up as high above their other good
points as the castle does above the rest of the city, and that is the
feeling they have for anybody who has done anything to make his
fellow-countrymen proud of him. A famous Scotchman cannot die without
being pretty promptly born again in stone or bronze, and put in some
open place with seats convenient for people to sit and look at him. I
like this; glory ought to begin at home.
_Letter Number Twenty-one_
Jone being just as lively on his legs as he ever was in his life,
thanks to the waters of Buxton, and I having the rheumatism now only in
my arm, which I don't need to walk with, we have gone pretty much all
over Edinburgh, and a great place it is to walk in, so far as variety
goes. Some of the streets are so steep you have to go up steps if you
are walking, and about a mile around if you are driving. I never get
tired wandering about the Old Town with its narrow streets and awfully
tall houses, with family washes hanging out from every story.
The closes are queer places. They are very like little villages set
into the town as if they was raisins in a pudding. You get to them by
alleys or tunnels, and when you are inside you find a little
neighborhood that hasn't anything more to do with the next close, a
block away, than one country village has with another.
We went to see John Knox's house, and although Mr. Knox was pretty hard
on vanities and frivolities, he didn't mind having a good house over
his head, with woodwork on the walls and ceilings that wasn't any more
necessary than the back buttons on his coat.
We have been reading hard since we have been in Edinburgh, and whenever
Mr. Knox and Mary Queen of Scots come together, I take Mary's side
without asking questions. I have no doubt Mr. Knox was a good man, but
if meddling in other people's business gave a person the right to have
a monument, the top of his would be the first thing travellers would
see when they come near Edinburgh.
When we went to Holyrood Palace it struck me that Mary Queen of Scots
deserved a better house. Of course, it wasn't built for her, but I
don't care very much for the other people who lived in it. The rooms
are good enough for an ordinary household's use, although the little
room that she had her supper party in when Rizzio was killed, wouldn't
be considered by Jone and me as anything like big enough for our family
to eat in. But there is a general air about the place as if it belonged
to a royal family that was not very well off, and had to abstain from a
good deal of grandeur.
If Mary Queen of Scots could come to life again, I expect the Scotch
people would give her the best palace that money could buy, for they
have grown to think the world of her, and her pictures blossom out all
over Edinburgh like daisies in a pasture field.
The first morning after we got here I was as much surprised as if I had
met Mary Queen of Scots walking along Prince Street with a parasol over
her head. We were sitting in the reading-room of the hotel, and on the
other side of the room was a long desk at which people was sitting,
writing letters, all with their backs to us. One of these was a young
man wearing a nice light-colored sack coat, with a shiny white collar
sticking above it, and his black derby hat was on the desk beside him.
When he had finished his letter he put a stamp on it and got up to mail
it. I happened to be looking at him, and I believe I stopped breathing
as I sat and stared. Under his coat he had on a little skirt of green
plaid about big enough for my Corinne when she was about five years
old, and then he didn't wear anything whatever until you got down to
his long stockings and low shoes. I was so struck with the feeling that
he was an absent-minded person that I punched Jone and whispered to him
to go quick and tell him. Jone looked at him and laughed, and said that
was the Highland costume.
Now if that man had had his martial plaid wrapped around him, and had
worn a Scottish cap with a feather in it and a long ribbon hanging down
his back, with his claymore girded to his side, I wouldn't have been
surprised; for this is Scotland, and that would have been like the
pictures I have seen of Highlanders. But to see a man with the upper
half of him dressed like a clerk in a dry goods store and the lower
half like a Highland chief, was enough to make a stranger gasp.
[Illustration: "Jone looked at him and said that was the Highland
But since then I have seen a good many young men dressed that way. I
believe it is considered the tip of the fashion. I haven't seen any of
the bare-legged dandies yet with a high silk hat and an umbrella, but I
expect it won't be long before I meet one. We often see the Highland
soldiers that belong to the garrison at the castle, and they look
mighty fine with their plaid shawls and their scarfs and their
feathers; but to see a man who looks as if one half of him belonged to
London Bridge and the other half to the Highland moors, does look to
me like a pretty bad mixture.
I am not so sure, either, that the whole Highland dress isn't better
suited to Egypt, where it doesn't often rain, than to Scotland. Last
Saturday we was at St. Giles's Church, and the man who took us around
told us we ought to come early next morning and see the military
service, which was something very fine; and as Jone gave him a shilling
he said he would be on hand and watch for us, and give us a good place
where we could see the soldiers come in. On Sunday morning it rained
hard, but we was both at the church before eight o'clock, and so was a
good many other people, but the doors was shut and they wouldn't let us
in. They told us it was such a bad morning that the soldiers could not
come out, and so there would be no military service that day. I don't
know whether those fine fellows thought that the colors would run out
of their beautiful plaids, or whether they would get rheumatism in
their knees; but it did seem to me pretty hard that soldiers could not
come out in the weather that lots of common citizens didn't seem to
mind at all. I was a good deal put out, for I hate to get up early for
nothing, but there was no use saying anything, and all we could do was
to go home, as all the other people with full suits of clothes did.
Jone and I have got so much more to see before we go home, that it is
very well we are both able to skip around lively. Of course there are
ever and ever so many places that we want to go to, but can't do it,
but I am bound to see the Highlands and the country of the "Lady of the
Lake." We have been reading up Walter Scott, and I think more than I
ever did that he is perfectly splendid. While we was in Edinburgh we
felt bound to go and see Melrose Abbey and Abbotsford. I shall not say
much about these two places, but I will say that to go into Sir Walter
Scott's library and sit in the old armchair he used to sit in, at the
desk he used to write on, and see his books and things around me, gave
me more a feeling of reverentialism than I have had in any cathedral
As for Melrose Abbey, I could have walked about under those towering
walls and lovely arches until the stars peeped out from the lofty
vaults above; but Jone and the man who drove the carriage were of a
different way of thinking, and we left all too soon. But one thing I
did do: I went to the grave of Michael Scott the wizard, where once was
shut up the book of awful mysteries, with a lamp always burning by it,
though the flagstone was shut down tight on top of it, and I got a
piece of moss and a weed. We don't do much in the way of carrying off
such things, but I want Corinne to read the "Lady of the Lake," and
then I shall give her that moss and that weed, and tell where I got
them. I believe that, in the way of romantics, Corinne is going to be
more like me than like Jone.
To-morrow we go to the Highlands, and we shall leave our two big trunks
in the care of the man in the red coat, who is commander-in-chief at
the Royal Hotel, and who said he would take as much care of them as if
they was two glass jars filled with rubies; and we believed him, for he
has done nothing but take care of us since we came to Edinburgh, and
good care, too.
_Letter Number Twenty-two_
It happened that the day we went north was a very fine one, and as soon
as we got into the real Highland country there was nothing to hinder me
from feeling that my feet was on my native heath, except that I was in
a railway carriage, and that I had no Scotch blood in me, but the joy
of my soul was all the same. There was an old gentleman got into our
carriage at Perth, and when he saw how we was taking in everything our
eyes could reach, for Jone is a good deal more fired up by travel than
he used to be--I expect it must have been the Buxton waters that made
the change--he began to tell us all about the places we were passing
through. There didn't seem to be a rock or a stream that hadn't a bit
of history to it for that old gentleman to tell us about.
We got out at a little town called Struan, and then we took a carriage
and drove across the wild moors and hills for thirteen miles till we
came to this village at the end of Loch Rannoch. The wind blew strong
and sharp, but we knew what we had to expect, and had warm clothes on.
And with the cool breeze, and remembering "Scots wha ha' wi' Wallace
bled," it made my blood tingle all the way.
We are going to stay here at least a week. We shall not try to do
everything that can be done on Scottish soil, for we shall not stalk
stags or shoot grouse; and I have told Jone that he may put on as many
Scotch bonnets and plaids as he likes, but there is one thing he is not
going to do, and that is to go bare-kneed, to which he answered, he
would never do that unless he could dip his knees into weak coffee so
that they would be the same color as his face.
There is a nice inn here with beautiful scenery all around, and the
lovely Loch Rannoch stretches away for eleven miles. Everything is just
as Scotch as it can be. Even the English people who come here put on
knickerbockers and bonnets. I have never been anywhere else where it is
considered the correct thing to dress like the natives, and I will say
here that it is very few of the natives that wear kilts. That sort of
thing seems to be given up to the fancy Highlanders.
Nearly all the talk at the inn is about, shooting and fishing.
Stag-hunting here is very different from what it is in England in more
ways than one. In the first place, stags are not hunted with horses and
hounds. In the second place, the sport is not free. A gentleman here
told Jone that if a man wanted to shoot a stag on these moors it would
cost him one rifle cartridge and six five pound notes; and when Jone
did not understand what that meant, the man went on and told him about
how the deer-stalking was carried on here. He said that some of the big
proprietors up here owned as much as ninety thousand acres of moorland,
and they let it out mostly to English people for hunting and fishing.
And if it is stag-hunting the tenant wants, the price he pays is
regulated by the number of stags he has the privilege of shooting. Each
stag he is allowed to kill costs him thirty pounds. So if he wants the
pleasure of shooting thirty stags in the season, his rent will be nine
hundred pounds. This he pays for the stag-shooting, but some kind of a
house and about ten thousand acres are thrown in, which he has a
perfect right to sit down on and rest himself on, but he can't shoot a
grouse on it unless he pays extra for that. And, what is more, if he
happens to be a bad shot, or breaks his leg and has to stay in the
house, and doesn't shoot his thirty stags, he has got to pay for them
all the same.
When Jone told me all this, I said I thought a hundred and fifty
dollars a pretty high price to pay for the right to shoot one deer. But
Jone said I didn't consider all the rest the man got. In the first
place, he had the right to get up very early in the morning, in the
gloom and drizzle, and to trudge through the slop and the heather until
he got far away from the neighborhood of any human being, and then he
could go up on some high piece of ground and take a spyglass and search
the whole country round for a stag. When he saw one way off in the
distance snuffing the morning air, or hunting for his breakfast among
the heather, he had the privilege of walking two or three miles over
the moor so as to get that stag between the wind and himself, so that
it could not scent him or hear him. Then he had the glorious right to
get his rifle all ready, and steal and creep toward that stag to cut
short his existence. He has to be as careful and as sneaky as if he was
a snake in the grass, going behind little hills and down into gullies,
and sometimes almost crawling on his stomach where he goes over an open
place, and doing everything he can to keep that stag from knowing his
end is near. Sometimes he follows his victim all day, and the sun goes
down before he has the glorious right of standing up and lodging a
bullet in its unsuspecting heart. "So you see," said Jone, "he gets a
lot for his hundred and fifty dollars."
"They do get a good deal more for their money than I thought they did,"
said I; "but I wonder if those rich sportsmen ever think that if they
would take the money that they pay for shooting thirty or forty stags
in one season, they might buy a rhinoceros, which they could set up on
a hill and shoot at every morning if they liked. A game animal like
that would last them for years, and if they ever felt like it, they
could ask their friends to help them shoot without costing them
Jone is pretty hard on sport with killing in it. He does not mind
eating meat, but he likes to have the butcher do the killing. But I
reckon he is a little too tender-hearted. But, as for me, I like sport
of some kinds, especially when you don't have your pity or your
sympathies awakened by seeing your prey enjoying life when you are
seeking to encompass his end. Of course, by that I mean fishing.
There are a good many trout in the lake, and people can hire the
privilege of fishing for them; and I begged Jone to let me go out in a
boat and fish. He was rather in favor of staying ashore and fishing in
the little river, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to go out and
have some regular lake fishing. At last Jone agreed, provided I would
not expect him to have anything to do with the fishing. "Of course I
don't expect anything like that," said I; "and it would be a good deal
better for you to stay on shore. The landlord says a gilly will go
along to row the boat and attend to the lines and rods and all that,
and so there won't be any need for you at all, and you can stay on
shore with your book, and watch if you like."
"And suppose you tumble overboard," said Jone.
"Then you can swim out," I said, "and perhaps wade a good deal of the
way. I don't suppose we need go far from the bank."
Jone laughed, and said he was going too.
"Very well," said I; "but you have got to stay in the bow, with your
back to me, and take an interesting book with you, for it is a long
time since I have done any fishing, and I am not going to do it with
two men watching me and telling me how I ought to do it and how I
oughtn't to. One will be enough."
"And that one won't be me," said Jone, "for fishing is not one of the
branches I teach in my school."
I would have liked it better if Jone and me had gone alone, he doing
nothing but row; but the landlord wouldn't let his boat that way, and
said we must take a gilly, which, as far as I can make out, is a sort
of sporting farmhand. That is the way to do fishing in these parts.
Well, we started, and Jone sat in the front, with his back to me, and
the long-legged gilly rowed like a good fellow. When we got to a good
place to fish he stopped, and took a fishing-rod that was in pieces and
screwed them together, and fixed the line all right so that it would
run along the rod to a little wheel near the handle, and then he put on
a couple of hooks with artificial flies on them, which was so small I
couldn't imagine how the fish could see them. While he was doing all
this I got a little fidgety, because I had never fished except with a
straight pole and line with a cork to it, which would bob when the fish
bit; but this was altogether a different sort of a thing. When it was
all ready he handed me the pole, and then sat down very polite to look
Now, if he had handed me the rod, and then taken another boat and gone
home, perhaps I might have known what to do with the thing after a
while, but I must say that at that minute I didn't. I held the rod out
over the water and let the flies dangle down into it, but do what I
would, they wouldn't sink; there wasn't weight enough on them.
"You must throw your fly, madam," said the gilly, always very polite.
"Let me give it a throw for you," and then he took the rod in his hand
and gave it a whirl and a switch which sent the flies out ever so far
from the boat; then he drew it along a little, so that the flies
skipped over the top of the water.
[Illustration: "I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING, AND TAKING THE POLE IN BOTH
HANDS I GAVE IT A WILD TWIRL OVER MY HEAD"]
I didn't say anything, and taking the pole in both hands I gave it a
wild twirl over my head, and then it flew out as if I was trying to
whip one of the leaders in a four-horse team. As I did this Jone gave a
jump that took him pretty near out of the boat, for two flies swished
just over the bridge of his nose, and so close to his eyes as he was
reading an interesting dialogue, and not thinking of fish or even of
me, that he gave a jump sideways, which, if it hadn't been for the
gilly grabbing him, would have taken him overboard. I was frightened
myself, and said to him that I had told him he ought not to come in the
boat, and it would have been a good deal better for him to have stayed
He didn't say anything, but I noticed he turned up his collar and
pulled down his hat over his eyes and ears. The gilly said that perhaps
I had too much line out, and so he took the rod and wound up a good
deal of the line. I liked this better, because it was easier to whip
out the line and pull it in again. Of course, I would not be likely to
catch fish so much nearer the boat, but then we can't have everything
in this world. Once I thought I had a bite, and I gave the rod such a
jerk that the line flew back against me, and when I was getting ready
to throw it out again, I found that one of the little hooks had stuck
fast in my thumb. I tried to take it out with the other hand, but it
was awfully awkward to do, because the rod wobbled and kept jerking on
it. The gilly asked me if there was anything the matter with the flies,
but I didn't want him to know what had happened, and so I said, "Oh,
no," and turning my back on him I tried my best to get the hook out
without his helping me, for I didn't want him to think that the first
thing I caught was myself, after just missing my husband--he might be
afraid it would be his turn next. You cannot imagine how bothersome it
is to go fishing with a gilly to wait on you. I would rather wash
dishes with a sexton to wipe them and look for nicks on the edges.
At last--and I don't know how it happened--I did hook a fish, and the
minute I felt him I gave a jerk, and up he came. I heard the gilly say
something about playing, but I was in no mood for play, and if that
fish had been shot up out of the water by a submarine volcano it
couldn't have ascended any quicker than when I jerked it up. Then as
quick as lightning it went whirling through the air, struck the pages
of Jone's book, turning over two or three of them, and then wiggled
itself half way down Jone's neck, between his skin and his collar,
while the loose hook swung around and nipped him in his ear.
"Don't pull, madam," shouted the gilly, and it was well he did, for I
was just on the point of giving an awful jerk to get the fish loose
from Jone. Jone gave a grab at the fish, which was trying to get down
his back, and pulling him out threw him down; but by doing this he
jerked the other hook into his ear, and then a yell arose such as I
never before heard from Jone. "I told you you ought not to come in this
boat," said I; "you don't like fishing, and something is always
happening to you."
"Like fishing!" cried Jone. "I should say not," and he made up such a
comical face that even the gilly, who was very polite, had to laugh as
he went to take the hook out of his ear.
When Jone and the fish had been got off my line, Jone turned to me and
said, "Are you going to fish any more?"
"Not with you in the boat," I answered; and then he said he was glad to
hear that, and told the man he could row us ashore.
I can assure you, madam, that fishing in a rather wobbly boat with a
husband and a gilly in it, is not to my taste, and that was the end of
our sporting experiences in Scotland, but it did not end the glorious
times we had by that lake and on the moors.
We hired a little pony trap and drove up to the other end of the lake,
and not far beyond that is the beginning of Rannoch Moor, which the
books say is one of the wildest and most desolate places in all Europe.
So far as we went over the moor we found that this was truly so, and I
know that I, at least, enjoyed it ever so much more because it was so
wild and desolate. As far as we could see, the moors stretched away in
every direction, covered in most places by heather, now out of blossom,
but with great rocks standing out of the ground in some places, and
here and there patches of grass. Sometimes we could see four or five
lochs at once, some of them two or three miles long, and down through
the middle of the moor came the maddest and most harum-scarum little
river that could be imagined. It actually seemed to go out of its way
to find rocks to jump over, just as if it was a young calf, and some of
the waterfalls were beautiful. All around us was melancholy mountains,
all of them with "Ben" for their first names, except Schiehallion,
which was the best shaped of any of them, coming up to a point and
standing by itself, which was what I used to think mountains always
did; but now I know they run into each other so that you can hardly
tell where one ends and the other begins.
For three or four days we went out on these moors, sometimes when the
sun was shining, and sometimes when there was a heavy rain and the wind
blew gales, and I think I liked this last kind of weather the best, for
it gave me an idea of lonely desolation which I never had in any part
of the world I have ever been in before. There is often not a house to
be seen, not even a crofter's hut, and we seldom met anybody. Sometimes
I wandered off by myself behind a hillock or rocks where I could not
even see Jone, and then I used to try to imagine how Eve would have
felt if she had early become a widow, and to put myself in her place.
There was always clouds in the sky, sometimes dark and heavy ones
coming down to the very peaks of the mountains, and not a tree was to
be seen, except a few rowan trees or bushes close to the river. But by
the side of Lock Rannoch, on our way back to the village, we passed
along the edge of a fine old forest called the "Black Woods of
Rannoch." There are only three of these ancient forests left in
Scotland, and some of the trees in this one are said to be eight
hundred years old.
[Illustration: Pomona drinking it in]
The last time we was out on the Rannoch Moor there was such a savage
and driving wind, and the rain came down in such torrents, that my
mackintosh was blown nearly off of me, and I was wet from my head to my
heels. But I would have stayed out hours longer if Jone had been
willing, and I never felt so sorry to leave these Grampian Hills, where
I would have been glad to have had my father feed his flocks, and where
I might have wandered away my childhood, barefooted over the heather,
singing Scotch songs and drinking in deep draughts of the pure mountain
air, instead of--but no matter.
To-morrow we leave the Highlands, but as we go to follow the shallop of
the "Lady of the Lake," I should not repine.
_Letter Number Twenty-three_
It would seem to be the easiest thing in the world, when looking on the
map, to go across the country from Loch Rannoch over to Katrine and all
those celebrated parts, but we found we could not go that way, and so
we went back to Edinburgh and made a fresh start. We stopped one night
at the Royal Hotel, and there we found a letter from Mr. Poplington. We
had left him at Buxton, and he said he was not going to Scotland this
season, but would try to see us in London before we sailed.
He is a good man, and he wrote this letter on purpose to tell me that
he had had a letter from his friend, the clergyman in Somersetshire,
who had forbidden the young woman whose wash my tricycle had run into
to marry her lover because he was a Radical. This letter was in answer
to one Mr. Poplington wrote to him, in which he gave the minister my
reasons for thinking that the best way to convert the young man from
Radicalism was to let him marry the young woman, who would be sure to
bring him around to her way of thinking, whatever that might be.
I didn't care about the Radicalism. All I wanted was to get the two
married, and then it would not make the least difference to me what
their politics might be; if they lived properly and was sober and
industrious and kept on loving each other, I didn't believe it would
make much difference to them. It was a long letter that the clergyman
wrote, but the point of it was, that he had concluded to tell the young
woman that she might marry the fellow if she liked, and that she must
do her best to make him a good Conservative, which, of course, she
promised to do. When I read this I clapped my hands, for who could have
suspected that I should have the good luck to come to this country to
spend the summer and make two matches before I left it!
When we left Edinburgh to gradually wend our way to this place, which
is on the west coast of Scotland, the first town we stopped at was
Stirling, where the Scotch kings used to live. Of course we went to the
castle, which stands on the rocks high above the town; but before we
started to go there Jone inquired if the place was a ruin or not, and
when he was told it was not, and that soldiers lived there, he said it
was all right, and we went. He now says he must positively decline to
visit any more houses out of repair. He is tired of them; and since he
has got over his rheumatism he feels less like visiting ruins than he
ever did. I tell him the ruins are not any more likely to be damp than
a good many of the houses that people live in; but this didn't shake
him, and I suppose if we come to any more vine-covered and shattered
remnants of antiquity I shall be obliged to go over them by myself.
The castle is a great place, which I wouldn't have missed for the
world; but the spot that stirred my soul the most was in a little
garden, as high in the air as the top of a steeple, where we could look
out over the battlefield of Bannockburn. Besides this, we could see the
mountains of Ben-Lomond, Ben-Venue, Ben-A'an, Benledi, and ever so much
Scottish landscape spreading out for miles upon miles. There is a
little hole in the wall here called the Ladies' Look-Out, where the
ladies of the court could sit and see what was going on in the country
below without being seen themselves, but I stood up and took in
everything over the top of the wall.
I don't know whether I told you that the mountains of Scotland are
"Bens," and the mouths of rivers are "abers," and islands are
"inches." Walking about the streets of Stirling, and I didn't have time
to see half as much as I wanted to, I came to the shop of a "flesher."
I didn't know what it was until I looked into the window and saw that
it was a butcher shop.
I like a language just about as foreign as the Scotch is. There are a
good many words in it that people not Scotch don't understand, but that
gives a person the feeling that she is travelling abroad, which I want
to have when I am abroad. Then, on the other hand, there are not enough
of them to hinder a traveller from making herself understood. So it is
natural for me to like it ever so much better than French, in which,
when I am in it, I simply sink to the bottom if no helping hand is held
out to me.
I had some trouble with Jone that night at the hotel, because he had a
novel which he had been reading for I don't know how long, and which he
said he wanted to get through with before he began anything else. But
now I told him he was going to enter on the wonderful country of the
"Lady of the Lake," and that he ought to give up everything else and
read that book, because if he didn't go there with his mind prepared
the scenery would not sink into his soul as it ought to. He was of the
opinion that when my romantic feeling got on top of the scenery it
would be likely to sink into his soul as deep as he cared to have it,
without any preparation, but that sort of talk wouldn't do for me. I
didn't want to be gliding o'er the smooth waters of Loch Katrine, and
have him asking me who the girl was who rowed her shallop to the silver
strand, and the end of it was that I made him sit up until a quarter of
two o'clock in the morning while I read the "Lady of the Lake" to him.
I had read it before and he had not, but I hadn't got a quarter through
before he was just as willing to listen as I was to read. And when I
got through I was in such a glow that Jone said he believed that all
the blood in my veins had turned to hot Scotch.
I didn't pay any attention to this, and after going to the window and
looking out at the Gaelic moon, which was about half full and rolling
along among the clouds, I turned to Jone and said, "Jone, let's sing
'Scots wha ha',' before we go to bed."
"If we do roar out that thing," said Jone, "they will put us out on the
curbstone to spend the rest of the night."
"Let's whisper it, then," said I; "the spirit of it is all I want. I
don't care for the loudness."
"I'd be willing to do that," said Jone, "if I knew the tune and a few
of the words."
"Oh, bother!" said I; and when I got into bed I drew the clothes over
my head and sang that brave song all to myself. Doing it that way the
words and tune didn't matter at all, but I felt the spirit of it, and
that was all I wanted, and then I went to sleep.
The next morning we went to Callander by train, and there we took a
coach for Trossachs. It is hardly worth while to say we went on top,
because the coaches here haven't any inside to them, except a hole
where they put the baggage. We drove along a beautiful road with
mountains and vales and streams, and the driver told us the name of
everything that had a name, which he couldn't help very well, being
asked so constant by me. But I didn't feel altogether satisfied, for we
hadn't come to anything quotable, and I didn't like to have Jone sit
too long without something happening to stir up some of the "Lady of
the Lake" which I had pumped into his mind the day before, and so keep
Before long, however, the driver pointed out the ford of Coilantogle.
The instant he said this I half jumped up, and, seizing Jone by the
arm, I cried, "Don't you remember? This is the place where the Knight
of Snowdoun, James Fitz-James, fought Roderick Dhu!" And then without
caring who else heard me, I burst out with:
"'His back against a rock he bore,
And firmly placed his foot before:
"Come one, come all! This rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I."'"
"No, madam," said the driver, politely touching his hat, "that was a
mile farther on. This place is:
"'And here his course the chieftain staid,
Threw down his target and his plaid.'"
"You are right," said I; and then I began again:
"'Then each at once his falchion drew,
Each on the ground his scabbard threw,
Each look'd to sun, and stream, and plain,
As what they ne'er might see again;
Then foot, and point, and eye opposed,
In dubious strife they darkly closed.'"
I didn't repeat any more of the poem, though everybody was listening
quite respectful without thinking of laughing, and as for Jone, I could
see by the way he sat and looked about him that his tinder had caught
my spark; but I knew that the thing for me to do here was not to give
out but take in, and so, to speak in figures, I drank in the whole of
Lake Vannachar, as we drove along its lovely marge until we came to the
other end, and the driver said we would now go over the Brigg of Turk.
At this up I jumped and said:
"'And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone.'"
I had sense enough not to quote the next two lines, because when I had
read them to Jone he said that it was a shame to use a horse that way.
We now came to Loch Achray, at the other end of which is the
Trossachs, where we stopped for the night, and when the driver told me
the mountain we saw before us was Ben-Venue, I repeated the lines:
"'The hunter marked that mountain high,
The lone lake's western boundary,
And deem'd the stag must turn to bay,
Where that huge rampart barr'd the way.'"
At last we reached the Trossachs Hotel, which stands near the wild
ravines filled with bristling woods where the stag was lost, with the
lovely lake in front and Ben-Venue towering up on the other side. I was
so excited I could scarcely eat, and no wonder, because for the greater
part of the day I had breathed nothing but the spirit of Scott's
poetry. I forgot to say that from the time we left Callander until we
got to the hotel the rain poured down steadily, but that didn't make
any difference to me. A human being soaked with the "Lady of the Lake"
_Letter Number Twenty-four_
I was sorry to stop my last letter right in the middle of the "Lady of
the Lake" country, but I couldn't get it all in, and the fact is, I
can't get all I want to say in any kind of a letter. The things I have
seen and want to write about are crowded together like the Scottish
On the day after we got to Trossachs Hotel, and I don't know any place
I would rather spend weeks at than there, Jone and I walked through the
"darksome glen" where the stag,
"Soon lost to hound and hunter's ken,
In the deep Trossachs' wildest nook
His solitary refuge took."
And then we came out on the far-famed Loch Katrine. There was a little
steamboat there to take passengers to the other end, where a coach was
waiting, but it wasn't time for that to start, and we wandered on the
banks of that song-gilded piece of water. It didn't lie before us like
"one burnished sheet of living gold," as it appeared to James
Fitz-James but my soul could supply the sunset if I chose. There, too,
was the island of the fair Ellen, and beneath our very feet was the
"silver strand" to which she rowed her shallop. I am sorry to say there
isn't so much of the silver strand as there used to be, because, in
this world, as I have read, and as I have seen, the spirit of
realistics is always crowding and trampling on the toes of the
romantics, and the people of Glasgow have actually laid water-pipes
from their town to this lovely lake, and now they turn the faucets in
their back kitchens and out spouts the tide which kissed
"With whispering sound and slow
The beach of pebbles bright as snow."
This wouldn't have been so bad, because the lake has enough and to
spare of its limpid wave; but in order to make their water-works the
Glasgow people built a dam, and that has raised the lake a good deal
higher, so that it overflows ever so much of the silver strand. But I
can pick out the real from a scene like that as I can pick out and
throw away the seeds of an orange, and gazing o'er that enchanted scene
I felt like the Knight of Snowdoun himself, when he first beheld the
lake and said:
"How blithely might the bugle horn
Chide, on the lake, the lingering morn!"
and then I went on with the lines until I came to
"Blithe were it then to wander here!
But now--beshrew yon nimble deer"--
"You'd better beshrew that steamboat bell," said Jone, and away we went
and just caught the boat. Realistics come in very well sometimes when
they take the form of legs.
The steamboat took us over nearly the whole of Lake Katrine, and I must
say that I was so busy fitting verses to scenery that I don't remember
whether it rained or the sun shone. When we left the boat we took a
coach to Inversnaid on Loch Lomond, and, as we rode along, it made my
heart almost sink to feel that I had to leave my poetry behind me, for
I didn't know any that suited this region. But when we got in sight of
Loch Lomond a Scotch girl who was on the seat behind me, and had
several friends with her, began to sing a song about Lomond, of which I
only remember, "You take the high road and I'll take the low road, and
I'll get to Scotland afore you."
I am sure I must have Scotch blood in me, for when I heard that song it
wound up my feelings to such a pitch that I believe if that girl had
been near enough I should have given her a hug and a kiss. As for Jone,
he seemed to be nearly as much touched as I was, though not in the same
way, of course.
We took a boat on Loch Lomond to Ardlui, another little town, and then
we drove nine miles to the railroad. This was through a wild and solemn
valley, and by the side of a rushing river, full of waterfalls and deep
and diresome pools. When we reached the railroad we found a train
waiting, and we took it and went to Oban, which we reached about six
o'clock. Even this railroad trip was delightful, for we went by the
great Lake Awe, with another rushing river and mountains and black
precipices. We had a carriage all to ourselves until an old lady got in
at a station, and she hadn't been sitting in her corner more than ten
minutes before she turned to me and said:
"You haven't any lakes like this in your country, I suppose."
Now I must say that, in the heated condition I had been in ever since I
came into Scotland, a speech like that was like a squirt of cold water
into a thing full of steam. For a couple of seconds my boiling stopped,
but my fires was just as blazing as ever, and I felt as if I could turn
them on that old woman and shrivel her up for plastering her
comparisons on me at such a time.
"Of course, we haven't anything just like this," I said, "but it takes
all sorts of scenery to make up a world."
"That's very true, isn't it?" said she. "But, really, one couldn't
expect in America such a lake as that, such mountains, such grandeur!"
Now I made up my mind if she was going to keep up this sort of thing
Jone and me would change carriages when we stopped at the next station,
for comparisons are very different from poetry, and if you try to mix
them with scenery you make a mess that is not fit for a Christian. But
I thought first I would give her a word back:
"I have seen to-day," I said, "the loveliest scenery I ever met with;
but we've got grand canons in America where you could put the whole of
that scenery without crowding, and where it wouldn't be much noticed by
spectators, so busy would they be gazing at the surrounding wonders."
"Fancy!" said she.
"I don't want to say anything," said I, "against what I have seen
to-day, and I don't want to think of anything else while I am looking
at it; but this I will say, that landscape with Scott is very different
from landscape without him."
"That is very true, isn't it?" said she; and then she stopped making
comparisons, and I looked out of the window.
Oban is a very pretty place on the coast, but we never should have gone
there if it had not been the place to start from for Staffa and Iona.
When I was only a girl I saw pictures of Fingal's Cave, and I have read
a good deal about it since, and it is one of the spots in the world
that I have been longing to see, but I feel like crying when I tell
you, madam, that the next morning there was such a storm that the boat
for Staffa didn't even start; and as the people told us that the storm
would most likely last two or three days, and that the sea for a few
days more would be so rough that Staffa would be out of the question,
we had to give it up, and I was obliged to fall back from the reality
to my imagination. Jone tried to comfort me by telling me that he would
be willing to bet ten to one that my fancy would soar a mile above the
real thing, and that perhaps it was very well I didn't see old Fingal's
Cave and so be disappointed.
"Perhaps it is a good thing," said I, "that you didn't go, and that you
didn't get so seasick that you would be ready to renounce your
country's flag and embrace Mormonism if such things would make you feel
better." But that is the only thing that is good about it, and I have a
cloud on my recollection which shall never be lifted until Corinne is
old enough to travel and we come here with her.
But although the storm was so bad, it was not bad enough to keep us
from making our water trip to Glasgow, for the boat we took did not
have to go out to sea. It was a wonderfully beautiful passage we made
among the islands and along the coast, with the great mountains on the
mainland standing up above everything else. After a while we got to the
Crinan Canal, which is in reality a short cut across the field. It is
nine miles long and not much wider than a good-sized ditch, but it
saves more than a hundred miles of travel around an island. We was on a
sort of a toy steamboat which went its way through the fields and
bushes and grass so close we could touch them; and as there was eleven
locks where the boat had to stop, we got out two or three times and
walked along the banks to the next lock. That being the kind of a ride
Jone likes, he blessed Buxton. At the other end of the canal we took a
bigger steamboat which carried us to Glasgow.
In the morning it hailed, which afterward turned to rain, but in the
afternoon there was only showers now and then, so that we spent most of
the time on deck. On this boat we met a very nice Englishman and his
wife, and when they had heard us speak to each other they asked us if
we had ever been in this part of the world before, and when we said we
hadn't they told us about the places we passed. If we had been an
English couple who had never been there before they wouldn't have said
a word to us.
As we got near the Clyde the gentleman began to talk about
ship-building, and pretty soon I saw in his face plain symptoms that he
was going to have an attack of comparison making. I have seen so much
of this disorder that I can nearly always tell when it is coming on a
person. In about a minute the disease broke out on him, and he began to
talk about the differences between American and English ships. He told
Jone and me about a steamship that was built out in San Francisco which
shook three thousand bolts out of herself on her first voyage. It
seemed to me that that was a good deal like a codfish shaking his
bones out through swimming too fast. I couldn't help thinking that that
steamship must have had a lot of bolts so as to have enough left to
keep her from scattering herself over the bottom of the ocean.
I expected Jone to say something in behalf of his country's ships, but
he didn't seem to pay much attention to the boat story, so I took up
the cudgels myself, and I said to the gentleman that all nations, no
matter how good they might be at ship-building, sometimes made
mistakes, and then to make a good impression on him I whanged him over
the head with the "Great Eastern," and asked him if there ever was a
vessel that was a greater failure than that.
He said, "Yes, yes, the 'Great Eastern' was not a success," and then he
stopped talking about ships.
When we got fairly into the Clyde and near Glasgow the scene was
wonderful. It was nearly night, and the great fires of the factories
lit up the sky, and we saw on the stocks a great ship being built.
We stayed in Glasgow one day, and Jone was delighted with it, because
he said it was like an American city. Now, on principle, I like
American cities, but I didn't come to Scotland to see them; and the
greatest pleasure I had in Glasgow was standing with a tumbler of water
in my hand, repeating to myself as much of the "Lady of the Lake" as I
_Letter Number Twenty-five_
Here we are in this wonderful town, where, if you can't see everything
you want to see, you can generally see a sample of it, even if your fad
happens to be the ancientnesses of Egypt. We are at the Babylon Hotel,
where we shall stay until it is time to start for Southampton, where we
shall take the steamer for home. What we are going to do between here
and Southampton I don't know yet; but I do know that Jone is all on
fire with joy because he thinks his journeys are nearly over, and I am
chilled with grief when I think that my journeys are nearly over.
We left Edinburgh on the train called the "Flying Scotsman," and it
deserved its name. I suppose that in the days of Wallace and Bruce and
Rob Roy the Scots must often have skipped along in a lively way; but I
am sure if any of them had ever invaded England at the rate we went
into it, the British lion would soon have been living on thistles
instead of roses.
The speed of this train was sometimes a mile a minute, I think; and I
am sure I was never on any railroad in America where I was given a
shorter time to get out for something to eat than we had at York. Jone
and I are generally pretty quick about such things, but we had barely
time to get back to our carriage before that "Flying Scotsman" went off
like a streak of lightning.
On the way we saw a part of York Minster, and had a splendid, view of
Durham Cathedral, standing high in the unreachable--that is, as far as
I was concerned. Peterborough Cathedral we also saw the outside of, and
I felt like a boy looking in at a confectioner's window with no money
to buy anything. It wasn't money that I wanted; it was time, and we had
very little of that left.
The next day, after we reached London, I set out to attend to a piece
of business that I didn't want Jone to know anything about. My business
was to look up my family pedigree. It seemed to me that it would be a
shame if I went away from the home of my ancestors without knowing
something about those ancestors and about the links that connected me
with them. So I determined to see what I could do in the way of making
up a family tree.
By good luck, Jone had some business to attend to about money and rooms
on the steamer, and so forth, and so I could start out by myself
without his even asking me where I was going. Now, of course, it would
be a natural thing for a person to go and seek out his ancestors in the
ancient village from which they sprang, and to read their names on
the tombstones in the venerable little church, but as I didn't know
where this village was, of course I couldn't go to it. But in London is
the place where you can find out how to find out such things.
[Illustration: "A PERSON WHO WAS A FAMILY-TREE-MAN"]
As far back as when we was in Chedcombe I had had a good deal of talk
with Miss Pondar about ancestors and families. I told her that my
forefathers came from this country, which I was very sure of, judging
from my feelings; but as I couldn't tell her any particulars, I didn't
go into the matter very deep. But I did say there was a good many
points that I would like to set straight, and asked her if she knew
where I could find out something about English family trees. She said
she had heard there was a big heraldry office in London, but if I
didn't want to go there, she knew of a person who was a
family-tree-man. He had an office in London, and his business was to go
around and tend to trees of that kind which had been neglected, and to
get them into shape and good condition. She gave me his address, and I
had kept the thing quiet in my mind until now.
I found the family-tree-man, whose name was Brandish, in a small room
not too clean, over a shop not far from St. Paul's Churchyard. He had
another business, which related to patent poison for flies, and at
first he thought I had come to see him about that, but when he found
out I wanted to ask him about my family tree his face brightened up.
When I told Mr. Brandish my business the first thing he asked me was my
family name. Of course I had expected this, and I had thought a great
deal about the answer I ought to give. In the first place, I didn't
want to have anything to do with my father's name. I never had anything
much to do with him, because he died when I was a little baby, and his
name had nothing high-toned about it, and it seemed to me to belong to
that kind of a family that you would be better satisfied with the less
you looked up its beginnings; but my mother's family was a different
thing. Nobody could know her without feeling that she had sprung from
good roots. It might have been from the stump of a tree that had been
cut down, but the roots must have been of no common kind to send up
such a shoot as she was. It was from her that I got my longings for the
She used to tell me a good deal about her father, who must have been a
wonderful man in many ways. What she told me was not like a sketch of
his life, which I wish it had been, but mostly anecdotes of what he
said and did. So it was my mother's ancestral tree I determined to
find, and without saying whether it was on my mother's or father's side
I was searching for ancestors, I told Mr. Brandish that Dork was the
"Dork," said he; "a rather uncommon name, isn't it? Was your father
the eldest son of a family of that name?"
Now I was hoping he wouldn't say anything about my father.
"No, sir," said I; "it isn't that line that I am looking up. It is my
mother's. Her name was Dork before she was married."
"Really! Now I see," said he, "you have the paternal line all correct,
and you want to look up the line on the other side. That is very
common; it is so seldom that one knows the line of ancestors on one's
maternal side. Dork, then, was the name of your maternal grandfather."
It struck me that a maternal grandfather must be a grandmother, but I
didn't say so.
"Can you tell me," said he, "whether it was he who emigrated from this
country to America, or whether it was his father or his grandfather?"
Now I hadn't said anything about the United States, for I had learned
there was no use in wasting breath telling English people I had come
from America, so I wasn't surprised at his question, but I couldn't
"I can't say much about that," I said, "until I have found out
something about the English branches of the family."
"Very good," said he. "We will look over the records," and he took down
a big book and turned to the letter D. He ran his finger down two or
three pages, and then he began to shake his head.
"Dork?" said he. "There doesn't seem to be any Dork, but here is
Dorkminster. Now if that was your family name we'd have it all here. No
doubt you know all about that family. It's a grand old family, isn't
it? Isn't it possible that your grandfather or one of his ancestors may
have dropped part of the name when he changed his residence to
Now I began to think hard; there was some reason in what the
family-tree-man said. I knew very well that the same family name was
often different in different countries, changes being made to suit
climates and people.
"Minster has a religious meaning, hasn't it?" said I.
"Yes, madam," said he; "it relates to cathedrals and that sort of
Now, so far as I could remember, none of the things my mother had ever
told me about her father was in any ways related to religion. They was
mostly about horses; and although there is really no reason for the
disconnection between horses and religion, especially when you consider
the hymns with heavenly chariots in them must have had horses, it
didn't seem to me that my grandfather could have made it a point of
being religious, and perhaps he mightn't have cared for the cathedral
part of his name, and so might have dropped it for convenience in
signing, probably being generally in a hurry, judging from what my
mother had told me. I said as much to Mr. Brandish, and he answered
that he thought it was likely enough, and that that sort of thing was
"Now, then," said he, "let us look into the Dorkminster line and trace
out your connection with that. From what place did your ancestors
It seemed to me that he was asking me a good deal more than he was
telling me, and I said to him: "That is what I want to find out. What
is the family home of the Dorkminsters?"
"Oh, they were a great Hampshire family," said he. "For five hundred
years they lived on their estates in Hampshire. The first of the name
was Sir William Dorkminster, who came over with the Conqueror, and most
likely was given those estates for his services. Then we go on until we
come to the Duke of Dorkminster, who built a castle, and whose brother
Henry was made bishop and founded an abbey, which I am sorry to say
doesn't now exist, being totally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell."
You cannot imagine how my blood leaped and surged within me as I
listened to those words. William the Conqueror! An ancestral abbey! A
duke! "Is the family castle still standing?" said I.
"It fell into ruins," said he, "during the reign of Charles I., and
even its site is now uncertain, the park having been devoted to
agricultural purposes. The fourth Duke of Dorkminster was to have
commanded one of the ships which destroyed the Spanish Armada, but was
prevented by a mortal fever which cut him off in his prime; he died
without issue, and the estates passed to the Culverhams of Wilts."
"Did that cut off the line?" said I, very quick.
"Oh, no," said the family-tree man, "the line went on. One of the
duke's younger sisters must have married a man on condition that he
took the old family name, which is often done, and her descendants must
have emigrated somewhere, for the name no longer appears in Hampshire;
but probably not to America, for that was rather early for English
"Do you suppose," said I, "that they went to Scotland?"
"Very likely," said he, after thinking a minute; "that would be
probable enough. Have you reason to suppose that there was a Scotch
branch in your family?"
"Yes," said I, for it would have been positively wrong in me to say
that the feelings that I had for the Scotch hadn't any meaning at all.
"Now then," said Mr. Brandish, "there you are, madam. There is a line
all the way down from the Conqueror to the end of the sixteenth
century, scarcely one man's lifetime before the Pilgrims landed on
I now began to calculate in my mind. I was thirty years old; my mother,
most likely, was about as old when I was born; that made sixty years.
Then my grandfather might have been forty when my mother was born, and
there was a century. As for my great-grandfather and his parents, I
didn't know anything about them. Of course, there must have been such
persons, but I didn't know where they came from or where they went to.
"I can go back a century," said I, "but that doesn't begin to meet the
end of the line you have marked out. There's a gap of about two hundred
"Oh, I don't think I would mind that," said Mr. Brandish. "Gaps of that
kind are constantly occurring in family trees. In fact, if we was to
allow gaps of a century or so to interfere with the working out of
family lines, it would cut off a great many noble ancestries from
families of high position, especially in the colonies and abroad. I beg
you not to pay any attention to that, madam."
My nerves was tingling with the thought of the Spanish Armada, and
perhaps Bannockburn (which then made me wish I had known all this
before I went to Stirling, but which battle, now as I write, I know
must have been fought a long time before any of the Dorks went to
Scotland), and I expect my eyes flashed with family pride, for do what
I would I couldn't sit calm and listen to what I was hearing. But,
after all, that two hundred years did weigh upon my mind. "If you make
a family tree for me," said I, "you will have to cut off the trunk and
begin again somewhere up in the air."
"Oh, no," said he, "we don't do that. We arrange the branches so that
they overlap each other, and the dotted lines which indicate the
missing portions are not noticed. Then, after further investigation and
more information, the dots can be run together and the tree made
complete and perfect."
Of course, I had nothing more to say, and he promised to send me the
tree the next morning, though, of course, requesting me to pay him in
advance, which was the rule of the office, and you would be amazed,
madam, if you knew how much that tree cost. I got it the next morning,
but I haven't shown it to Jone yet. I am proud that I own it, and I
have thrills through me whenever my mind goes back to its Norman roots;
but I am bound to say that family trees sometimes throw a good deal of
shade over their owners, especially when they have gaps in them, which
seems contrary to nature, but is true to fact.
_Letter Number Twenty-six_
SOUTHWESTERN HOTEL, SOUTHAMPTON
To-morrow our steamer sails, and this is the last letter I write on
English soil; and although I haven't done half that I wanted to, there
are ever so many things I have done that I can't write you about.
I had seen so few cathedrals that on the way down here I was bound to
see at least one good one, and so we stopped at Winchester. It was
while walking under the arches of that venerable pile that the thought
suddenly came to me that we were now in Hampshire, and that, perhaps,
in this cathedral might be some of the tombs of my ancestors. Without
saying what I was after I began at one of the doors, and I went clean
around that enormous church, and read every tablet in the walls and on
Once I had a shock. There was a good many small tombs with roofs over
them, and statues of people buried within, lying on top of the tombs,
and some of them had their faces and clothes colored so as to make them
look almost as natural as life. They was mostly bishops, and had been
lying there for centuries. While looking at these I came to a tomb
with an opening low down on the side of it, and behind some iron bars
there lay a stone figure that made me fairly jump. He was on his back
with hardly any clothes on, and was actually nothing but skin and
bones. His mouth was open, as if he was gasping for his last breath. I
never saw such an awful sight, and as I looked at the thing my blood
began to run cold, and then it froze. The freezing was because I
suddenly thought to myself that this might be a Dorkminster, and that
that horrible object was my ancestor. I was actually afraid to look at
the inscription on the tombstone for fear that this was so, for if it
was, I knew that whenever I should think of my family tree this bag of
bones would be climbing up the trunk, or sitting on one of the
branches. But I must know the truth, and trembling so that I could
scarcely read, I stooped down to look at the inscription and find out
who that dreadful figure had been. It was not a Dorkminster, and my
[Illustration: "This might be a Dorkminster"]
We got here three days ago, and we have made a visit to the Isle of
Wight. We went straight down to the southern coast, and stopped all
night at the little town of Bonchurch. It was very lovely down there
with roses and other flowers blooming out-of-doors as if it was summer,
although it is now getting so cold everywhere else. But what pleased me
most was to stand at the top of a little hill, and look out over the
waters of the English Channel, and feel that not far out of eyeshot was
the beautiful land of France with its lower part actually touching
You know, madam, that when we was here before, we was in France, and a
happy woman was I to be there, although so much younger than now I
couldn't properly enjoy it; but even then France was only part of the
road to Italy, which, alas, we never got to. Some day, however, I shall
float in a gondola and walk amid the ruins of ancient Rome, and if Jone
is too sick of travel to go with me, it may be necessary for Corinne to
see the world, and I shall take her.
Now I must finish this letter and bid good-by to beautiful Britain,
which has made us happy and treated us well in spite of some
comparisons in which we was expected to be on the wrong side, but which
hurt nobody, and which I don't want even to think of at such a moment
_Letter Number Twenty-seven_
I send you this, madam, to let you know that we arrived here safely
yesterday afternoon, and that we are going to-day to Jone's mother's
farm where Corinne is.
I liked sailing from Southampton because when I start to go to a place
I like to go, and when we went home before and had to begin by going
all the way up to Liverpool by land, and then coming all the way back
again by water, and after a couple of days of this to stop at
Queenstown and begin the real voyage from there, I did not like it,
although it was a good deal of fun seeing the bumboat women come aboard
at Queenstown and telescope themselves into each other as they hurried
up the ladder to get on deck and sell us things.
We had a very good voyage, with about enough rolling to make the dining
saloon look like some of the churches we've seen abroad on weekdays
where there was services regular, but mighty small congregations.
When we got in sight of my native shore, England, Scotland, and even
the longed-for Italy, with her palaces and gondolas, faded from my
mind, and my every fibre tingled with pride and patriotism. We reached
our dock about six o'clock in the afternoon, and I could scarcely stand
still, so anxious was I to get ashore. There was a train at eight which
reached Rockbridge at half-past nine, and there we could take a
carriage and drive to the farm in less than an hour, and then Corinne
would be in my arms, so you may imagine my state of mind--Corinne
before bedtime! But a cloud blacker than the heaviest fog came down
upon me, for while we was standing on the deck, expecting every minute
to land, a man came along and shouted at the top of his voice that no
baggage could be examined by the custom-house officers after six
o'clock, and the passengers could take nothing ashore with them but
their hand-bags, and must come back in the morning and have their
baggage examined. When I heard this my soul simply boiled within me! I
looked at Jone, and I could see he was boiling just as bad.
"Jone," said I, "don't say a word to me."
"I am not going to say a word," said he, and he didn't. All our
belongings was in our trunks. Jone didn't carry any hand-bag, and I had
only a little one which had in it three newspapers, which we bought
from the pilot, a tooth-brush, a spool of thread and some needles, and
a pair of scissors with one point broken off. With these things we had
to go to a hotel and spend the night, and in the morning we had to go
back to have our trunks examined, which, as there was nothing in them
to pay duty on, was waste time for all parties, no matter when it was
[Illustration: "Jone didn't carry any hand-bag, and I had only a little
That night, when I was lying awake thinking about this welcome to our
native land, I don't say that I hauled down the stars and stripes, but
I did put them at half mast. When we arrived in England we got ashore
about twelve o'clock at night, but there was the custom-house officers
as civil and obliging as any people could be, ready to tend to us and
pass us on. And when I thought of them, and afterward of the lordly
hirelings who met us here, I couldn't help feeling what a glorious
thing it would be to travel if you could get home without coming back.
Jone tried to comfort me by telling me that we ought to be very glad we
don't like this sort of thing. "In many foreign countries," said he,
"people are a good deal nagged by their governments and they like it;
we don't like it, so haul up your flag."
I hauled it up, and it's flying now from the tiptop of my tallest mast.
In an hour our train starts, and I shall see Corinne before the sun
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