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Price, 50 Cents.
Summer on Nantucket Island.
A. JUOO NORTHHUP.
'Scoxset Cottage Life:
A. JUDD NORTHRUP,
Author of "Camps and Tramps in the
BAKKK, PRATT & CO.
19 Bond Stkeet.
By' A, JUDD NORTHRUP.
The Island of Nantucket lias, within a few years,
been " discovered " again, — this time by seekers for
summer rest and recuperation ; and it has been found
to be one of the most delightful, peaceful and health-
ful of sea-side resorts. Indeed, it is not strictly a " sea-
side " resort, for it is as much out in the ocean as a
vessel on her way to Liverpool.
In the following pages, by relating the actual experi-
ences of my family and myself, for one summer on the
Island, and picturing, as faithfully as I can, the Island
scenery, simply as it impressed me, and bringing to
view, or at least hinting at, much else that seemed to
me to be interesting, I have endeavored to give the
reader a fair and reasonable impression of summer
life on Nantucket, and, incidentally, of sea-shore life
'Sconset, a little hamlet on the extreme south-east-
ern end of the Island, was our home, and the center
of our domestic and social life. I have written of it
fully, partly because it has delighted me to do so, and
partly because I have hoped thereby to do a benefit
to those who may seek the sea-side with their families,
and who want to know how to obtain the largest
measure of healthful enjoyment, with the least
amount of worry and expense. And I hope, too, that
the summer lounger, — and may we all be such for at
least a few vacation days ! — with mind and mood at-
tuned to simple pleasures, will find something to grat-
ify him in this story of so quiet and quaint a thing as
" 'Sconset Cottage Life." A. J. K
Syracuse, JS T . Y., May 19, 1881.
Plans and Preliminaries 9
Off for 'Sconset — A Moving Scene — Boys and
A Second Migration — Notes by the Way —
Heads and Sub-heads 26
First Views — Ocean — 'Sconset — Cottage —
Sleepy Hollow , 33
Island Wanderings — Blue-Fishing — Cod-
'Sconset People 64
Sunday at 'Sconset 72
The Squantum — Sachacha Pond — On the
A Day in " Nantucket Town." 87
" A-SHARKING." 100
1ST ED AND " THE BaRNUM BoYS " GO A-CAMPING
A Day at Wauwinet 122
A Lonely Evening Tramp — Tom Never's
The Ocean in a Storm— " The Rips." 139
'Sconset Social Life — Various Sorts of
Like a Bee-hive — That Gun — 'Wearing Boys." 151
Latter Days — The Library again 155
']SC0N3ET £0TTAQE JLlfE :
Summer on Nantucket Island,
PLANS AND PRELIMINARIES.
Sf*HE winter snows were yet heavy on the earth.
^Y We two, the "joint head'' of the household,
sat in the library before the bright fire in the grate,
one evening, after the baby and the youngsters had
subsided and gone to bed.
"I have been thinking," said the charming little
woman who had been steadfastly gazing into the fire
for the space of ten silent minutes while the master
of the house sat reading his evening paper ; " I have
been thinking," repeated she with portentous deliber-
ation, " that it would be an excellent plan to take the
children and all go to the sea-shore next summer."
" Sea-shore!" exclaimed I in amazement; "how
on earth do you expect I am to spare a whole family
away off at the sea-shore for a whole summer ! In-
deed, where's all the money to come from % And do
you suppose you would have any boys left after a
summer by an ocean full of water ! "
" I have been thinking," imperturbably continued
my wife, evidently prepared for my burst of astonish-
ment, " that the children and I could all go to 'Scon-
set, take a cottage for the season, live there as quietly
as you please and far more economically than at
home, for three months ; and you can come clown and
join us for three or four weeks in place of going to
the Adirondacks for at least this one summer."
There was the woman of it — the suggestion that
by this arrangement one of my fondest dreams would
be realized, a summer vacation by the sea with all my
family ! All the rest might be impracticable, a
woman's fancy, a heavy expense, and all that ; but
instantly there came over me the old longing for the
sea with its swelling waves and roaring breakers, and
my heart and head were filled with all the poetry and
PLANS AND PRELIMINARIES. 11
romance of old Ocean. The cherished day-dreams
took form and substance and seemed about to be
realized — this, too, with the good little wife, and
with the lads whose daily nonsense and hilarity, eager
questions and zestful enjoyment of the old things
which are ever new to each new generation of boys,
are keeping me young and half romantic in my
heart despite the labors and cares of the full tide of
middle life !
It was theretore with a changed tone and manner
that I now said, "I don't know but there may be
something in that ; tell me all about it."
" Well, 'Sconset, as you know, is right on the end
of the nose that Nantucket Island thrusts out into the
Atlantic, — as if sniffing and smelling the sea-breezes
that come fresh and pure and strong all the way
from the West Indies or from Spain, without an inch
of land between it and them. The island itself is so
well out to sea that there are no land-breezes, which
on the coast of the main-land occasionally bring most
distressingly enervating days. Besides, it is the most
peaceful, quiet and restful place on the globe. It is
almost as much out of the world as Patagonia."
12 ' SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
" And, for a family of children, about as difficult to
reach, I imagine," said I.
" Not very difficult," continued Mrs. Imperturbable,
who had evidently " been thinking " to some purpose
on this pet project of hers, with a view to meeting
every objection that I might urge. " I am sure I had
no trouble in getting there, last summer, with Theo-
dore, helpless as the poor little fellow was. To
Boston, is simple enough"; a transfer there to the Old
Colony Eailroad Depot ; another at Wood's Holl to
the steamer; still another at Nantucket town from
steamer to Captain Baxter's stage or some private
conveyance ; a seven miles' ride over the sandy road
— and you reach 'Sconset, safe and sound, twenty-four
hours from home."
She had indeed done what she was describing, and
much more, and knew whereof she spoke. Without
giving me time to interrupt, she continued :
" I might as well confess it and have it off my con-
science, — -I have already written to Mr. Folger, who
owns one of the nicest of the little cottages on the
'Sconset bluff above the beach, one of the old fisher-
men's houses, a little box of a thing, but as cosey and
cunning a place as you ever saw, and the dearest place
PLANS AND PRELIMINGK1 13
for ' love in a cottage,' you know ! This very day I
have received a reply from Mr. Folger, and he says
we can have his cottage, if we wish, for the season —
that is, from June 1st to September 1st — all furnished
and ready to move into, for $50. Isn't that nice !
and ' reasonable,' as you men always say ; and
wouldn't we have the most delightful time in the
world ! Just think of it — a summer of cottage life
by the sea ! — the very thing you have always been
dreaming of ! Now, don't you think it is ' wise,' and
' sensible/ ' the perfection of plans ' ? Say < Yes ! '
Be a good, nice man, and believe for once that your
' little wife ' has thought out very wisely, all by her-
self, something delightful — and ' practical ! ' "
What could I say ? My own fancy and her enthu-
siasm had borne me along, a most willing victim.
Yet I rallied, and finally insisted that this wise little
woman should make " her figures " on the expenses of
the proposed expedition ; and, with the conservatism
and caution of a discreet husband and domestic comp-
troller, vouchsafed the declaration that when she had
done so " I would consider the matter further."
As anybody might have foreseen, the figures of this
cunning enthusiast, when made, were "all right."
14 ? SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
The poetry of mathematics is never more beautifully
embodied and illustrated than when projecting a vaca-
tion or a travelling tour the prospective expenses are
put down in black and white — by a woman. In this
case, when the wonderful schedule was shown me,
I suggested many things, — for instance, " transporta-
" Oh, I forgot that ! " was the easy and honest
Finally we got that matter all clear, and of course,
since the woman's heart was set upon it, it was decided
that the family should go to 'Sconset for the sum-
mer, and that I should join them for my own briefer
vacation as soon as I could. It was a clear case of
foreordination from the start.
OFF FOR 'SC0N8ET — A MOVING SCENE — LETTERS BOYS
^fc FTEE many seriously busy days in June, there
<^f^ came one grand, climacteric and most notable
day, upon the evening of which " the family " were
to depart. The procession of errand boys, delivery
wagons, and messengers to and from the dressmaker's,
shoemaker's and all sorts of makers, gradually dis-
solved. There was hurrying to and fro within doors ;
trunks were yawning and waiting to be packed ; faces
of boisterous urchins were receiving their final scrub-
bing and polishing, and freshly cropped heads
were undergoing the salutary discipline of the
brush ; trunk-straps were being hunted for, high and
low ; the ever-so-many odds and ends of things were
every now and then being remembered and hastily
j lit all over the upturned house ; and the volunteer
hands of half a dozen female relatives and friends
were as busy as they could be in every direction.
Meanwhile a helpless man, the meek husband and
father of this family, paced up and down the piazza,
watch in hand, (the occasion seemed something be-
tween a funeral and a wedding,) counting the quarter
hours and minutes, and wondering "if they would
ever be ready up-stairs." Occasionally he ascended
to the region of chaos, gazed in a most disheartened
way into the packing-room and saw with dismay the
bed and chairs and floor covered with matters and
things that were evidently to go into the still nearly
empty trunks. Then with wrinkled brow and ill-
concealed apprehension he wandered to the rooms
where the dressing was proceeding. Chaos every-
The wretched family man groaned and despairingly
said, " You'll be late, I know ! It isn't possible for
all those things to get into the trunks, and for you
all to be dressed in time for the train !"
" Just run down stairs, you horrid man, and don't
bother us right in the midst of all this hurry! — I
guess we shall come out right." And over the head
and shoulders of the little matron went some female
toggery or other as she uttered these deprecatory
and half hopeful words.
-A MOVING SCENE. LI
The anxious "horrid man" slowly descended to
the piazza again, killing as much time on the way as
possible, watch in hand, and gazed down the street
for the carriage and baggage-wagon already due.
The sun, too, was sliding down the western sky with
fatal swiftness. Ko Joshua checked its career, no
Vanderbilt held the train, while the madam and the
three boys and the girl-baby should be finally dressed,
and the lids of the ponderous trunks should at last
" Here's the baggage-man, and the carriage is just
turning the corner ! " shouts the distracted man, up
the stairs, his terror-laden voice resounding through
all the upper regions.
" In a minute ! — we'll be ready in a minute !" was
the response from somewhere above, — from a mouth
half filled with pins.
A dozen feet were hastening from room to room ;
the boys were shouting and laughing and chasing
each other in great glee ; the baby was protesting in
her own fashion as the nurse finished curling her
hair ; and the whole atmosphere was as full of voices
and hurry and scurry as if the house were on fire. ■
Three painful minutes elapsed.
18 SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
" Shall we come up for the trunks ? " shouted the
" In a minute !" came dimly down through the
noise of voices and feet.
" Shall we come ? "
" In a minute ! " sounded again down from some
other part of the upper region.
Ten, fifteen minutes had passed.
" The man says you can't catch the train if you
are not ready to send the trunks ! "
" In a minute ! "—a scurrying from one room to
" Come ! " said another voice from the head of the
That baggage — hosts of it — was locked and
strapped and bundled and got down stairs somehow
in a wonderful way and in the shortest time on
record. The family followed "in a minute" and
were almost tumbled into the carriage, and away we
went with wave of hands, a flourish of the whip and
the rattle of wheels over the pavements.
We caught the train ! After the baggage was all
checked and the whole family party and Jane, " the
faithful," were safely and cosily bestowed in the
sleeping-ear, the good byes all said and said over
again, and the long train moved slowly out of the
depot, one citizen heaved a sigh of relief, and sought
his lonely home.
" The family " were off for 'Sconset and their
cottage by the sea !
The next morning came a telegram from Boston —
"here all safe and sound — comfortable night;" and
in due time a hurried postal from 'Sconset itself, sent
out to Nantucket by the man who took the family
over to the hamlet, announcing their safe arrival.
Then came daily letters of "the daily doings and
happenings, letters full of feminine enthusiasms over
the quaint life, the sea, the moors and the people of
that out of the world bit of creation ; full of little
domestic experiences — cares and pleasures of their
cottage life ; full of that wonderful girl-baby, not
quite tw T o years old and just beginning the great
work of mastering the vocabulary ; — and not forget-
ting the scarcely less wonderful u Jane," who was
nurse and house-keeper and peace and rest and spinal
column for the whole household. Glimpses of the
beauty and quaintness of such a life and its surround-
ings came in almost every epistle to the solitary man
" I could scarcely have believed," said one letter,
" that a whole family, baby and all, could be trans-
ported so easily. And, at the end of our journey,
we found the cottage in a most perfect state of neat-
ness. I never saw any place more exquisitely clean
and orderly. I think even the soul of my dear
friend and paragon of housekeepers, M — D ,
would have been delighted and satisfied. The old
sense of restfulness, that I used to feel last summer,
came upon me immediately.
" Ned, however, as I anticipated, tired himself out,
the very first day after our arrival, in tramping up
and down the beach through the sand trying to shoot
sea-gulls, which wisely kept just out of range of his
gun ; and at night he was thoroughly disgusted with
Nantucket and all its belongings. But this morning
he and Elliott have been to Sankaty where they went
in bathing in a light surf, and he has come home
believing that ' life is worth living.'
" Our cottage is such a nice little home ! I am
perfectly delighted with it. I wish you could see
how happy the baby is. She trots around in her lit-
tie blue flannel dress and looks so cunning! Yester-
day morning she went out into the tall grass in our
little back yard. The grass was topped out full and
the daisies in it were thick and tall. As she moved
around, her little fair curly head was on a level with
the flowers and grass-tips. She was reaching up and
picking them with her plump little hands, the pretti-
est bit of a picture I have seen in a long time. She
seems to appreciate that the ocean is something new,
and says " wa-wa ! " whenever she sees it. This
morning I took her down on the beach, which is just
below the bank and behind our cottage, took off her
stockings, and Theo.'s also, and the two had the
merriest time in the warm clean sand ! "
By and by the boys wrote, painting the picture
from their stand-point. Elliott, the " nine year old,"
led off as follows :
"Dear Papa —
I went perch fishing with Xed we went to
Sackacha pond we went by the beach and we got out
of bate and we had to bite off pieces of A fish to
bate our hooks with we caught about 75 fishes.
Friday night Ned and Kirkwhite from detroit went
eel bobing. They brought home about eighteen eels,
but they caught more and lost them.
Your affectionate son
The youngster's first epistolary effort bad at least
the merit of directness, and taught his father (some-
thing of a sportsman) a " new wrinkle " or two in
the matter of resources. But I take it that it was
Ned's genius that suggested "biting off pieces of A
fish to bate our hooks with."
Ned himself, the eldest of the three lads, fourteen
years old, with muscles like steel springs, and courage
to match, a good swimmer, a fair wing-shot, all his
senses alert as a young Indian's, the inventor (on paper)
of submarine vessels — notably " The Nautilus," after
the manner of Jules Yerne's, — flying machines, and
other impossibles, — Ned himself forgot his fun one
day long enough to write a letter which still further
increased my knowledge of life at 'Sconset and par-
ticularly of eel-bobbing. Here it is :
" 'Sconset, July 14, 1380.
" Dear Papa : —
I should have written you before,
but diet. Clark made me promise that I would write
him first, so I wrote him a long letter that would do
for all the rest of the boys, Sunday, and I was so
tired I could not write any more, and other days I
have too much else to do.
" Yesterday we had a splendid surf in the afternoon.
I went in swimming three times. Elliott went in a
BOYS AND EELS. 23
little way in the morning. In the afternoon the
waves were seven or nine feet high. You had to look
out and not let them tumble you, but it was boss
fun riding up and down on the waves near where
"Last Friday Kirk White and I went bobbing for
eels. As you may not know how it is done, I will
explain. You have to string about four feet of worms
on some strong thread and loop it up and tie a fish-
line and sinker to it. Then you eat your supper, take
your candle-lantern (when you haven't got a better
one) and some crackers by way of lunch, or grub, just
as you may call it, and theti walk about two miles and
hire a boat, for all night if you want it, for twenty
cents, and then, as it happened to be the case with us,
lie clown and read till dark if not so already. When
dusk, not before, though, because the perch will raise
havoc with your bob, you let your bob within about
four inches of the bottom and pull them in. But it
is a great deal more fun and more exciting than fish-
ing for trout, for two reasons, — one, because there are
plenty of them, and the other is because ten out of
twenty drop oil' when they are about half in the boat.
They are quite gamey, too. Once in a while you get
a big one, mid they are as hard to pull in as the big-
gest brook trout you over saw or heard of. I caught
one of that description. It was the largest one caught
around here this summer — at least Walter Folgersays
24 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
that he never saw one as big, and he has seen a great
many. It was about eight inches around and about
three feet long. You may not see how a bob without
a hook can catch any. I don't either, but they say
their teeth catch in the threads ; but I don't see how
they can, they are so small. We caught together
with one bob about twenty-five in two hours. It was
an awful job, catching them, to put them in the
basket, they were so slippery. The basket had a big
hole in it that I had to carry them home in, so I took
off my blue flannel-shirt and put it in the bottom of
the basket. It was so foggy that we could not see the
Light-House, and we were within about half a mile
of it, so we got lost and went tramping around for an
hour or so before we knew where we were. The
basket came all to pieces and I had to tie the eels up
in my blue shirt. When we got home I put the eels
in our hogshead of water, and in the morning they
were all dead and not fit to eat. I didn't think they
would die, because one day when I went perch-fishing
I caught an eel, and he lived a long time.
" I went perch-fishing to-day, too, and had the
good luck to catch the biggest perch I ever saw. We
caught about 80 in all in a little while. I am com-
mencing to think this is a pretty good place after all,
but not near as good as the North Woods. I find
something to do most every day. One day I went up
in the Light-House. Another day I went hunting.
BOYS AND EELS. 25
There isn't much hunting yet but there will be pretty
soon. Will you send some tar-oil by Aunt Mamie to
use when we go camping? The mosquitoes are
terrible thick out by the ponds, and we want a good
lot. A piece of a whale came ashore a while ago. I
would have written this letter better, but I thought
you would rather have a long one and not have it
written quite so well. It would take me too long to
copy it nice. Your affectionate son
— As to the eels in the hogshead of rain-water, I
heard further, — an epistolary wail from the distressed
mother, chairman of the Committee of Ways and
Means, who lamented more over the household loss
than the boys did over the defunct eels. However,
step by step, blunder by blunder, boys learn wisdom ;
and no doubt Ned has engraved on his mental tablets,
" never put eels in the household rain-water ! "
A SECOND MIGRATION NOTES BY THE WAY HEADS
ARLY in August I went on to Nantucket to join
my family for the vacation I had promised to
spend with them. A night ride to Boston ; a few
hours by rail to Wood's Holl, by the Old Colony
Railroad, whirling past frequent villages and manu-
facturing towns, then into a wild and wooded region,
out again along the eastern shore of Buzzard's Bay,
past many a delightful nook where summer cottages
are clustering by the peaceful waters of the Bay ; —
and then comes the charm and delight of the sail (if a
steamer does actually " sail ") out into the sea and the
blue waves, all beauteous and holiday-like at this
Soon the green shores of Martha's Vineyard cast off
their veil of dimness and rise up clear and well-defined.
A SECOND MIGRATION. NOTES BY THE WAV. 27
One sees at a glance why " Vineyard" became a part
of the name of this " Emerald Isle." The steamer
swings around to the eastward of the northerly point
and approaches the Camp -Meeting Wharf. Many of
our fellow-passengers leave us here, for it is the
height of the camp-meeting season, and worshipers
find it easy to be zealous and self sacrificing, even to
dwell in tabernacles, when heaven and earth, almanac
and business all harmonious unite in extending a call
to the hot and dusty cities to come up hither and wor-
ship and be comfortable.
Hardly half a mile below is Oak Bluffs, or Cottage
City, the marvel of the Island, where w r ealth and ex-
quisite taste have built a fairy city for summer loiter-
ing and invigorating indolence. With some ado, for
the tide is running counter to our purpose, we grapple
and hold to the wharf, while passengers leave us and
others come on board, and a multitude of visitors sit
in the pavilion over the approaches of the landing
gazing at us, or struggle down among the shouting
porters and quiet baggage-men to shake hands with
some acquaintance among us.
The lines are cast off, the steamer's head swings
slowly around, the throb and rumble begin again, and
we are off for Nantucket, two hours away, right out
to sea and below the horizon. The ocean is in good
mood ; the sun in its afternoon glory is warm enough,
but the gentlest of sea-breezes coming in upon us from
the broad Atlantic is like a cooling beverage for re-
freshment. All the senses are lulled to luxurious rest,
and we would be content to sail on under the summer
sky through an endless day like this. Two of us,
rocked in the same cradle long ago, (the old cradle
now at peace in a garret,) are seated together on the
upper-bow deck in the shade of the pilot-house, and
we gaze, and dream, and drink the air, and hear the
gentle whispers of the sea ; while ever and anon we
peer into the distance along the horizon line where
sea and sky mingle in such harmony of color that we
hardly know where sea ends and sky begins, peering
to detect the first faint line of the low cliffs of Nan-
Muskegat Island is at length sighted, and then Tuck-
ernuck, — jagged fragments left over after Nantucket
was finished, or else wrongfully rent from it by the
remorseless sea after Nature had finished her work
and pronounced it " very good." Our hearts throb
quicker, for there are our , but, no, an old traveler
A SECOND MIGRATION. NOTES BY THE WAT. 29
corrects us as we utter our joyful exclamation; and
we fall to dreaming again of 'Sconset and the cottage-
ful of kindred waiting there to greet us in the old-
fashion, — wondering, too, down in our hearts, if it
isn't just possible that this treacherous ocean over
which we are sailing so peacefully has, in some other
mood, opened its ponderous jaws and swallowed down
Nantucket Island, 'Sconset, cottage, kindred and all !
By and by the horizon grows unsteady, wavers, is
jagged, — and sharp eyes detect land ! Nantucket is
safe, for there at length rises " the Cliff." That won-
derful water-tank on stilts next catches our eyes ; soon
after church spires thrust their javelin points above
the bluff from the still hidden town that lies just
around yonder head-land ; a light house ; " the bell
buoy ; " and as the steamer carefully feels its way over
the bar, along its narrow path, the town of Nantucket
itself, sitting on its amphitheatrical seats around the
harbor, flashes in the sunlight upon us.
It was with me a case of " love at first sight."
Before we had swung around Brant Point and were
safely at the long wharf, I had pledged heart and hand
to the queenly capital of the Island. The constancy
of my affection, after the crucial test of familiarity,
30 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
assures me that the love though sudden was wisely
discerning from the first. Indeed, nothing can be
more delightful than this quaint, quiet, beautiful little
town as it appears to one sailing into the capacious
harbor for the first time.
At the wharf there was the usual hurrah ^and con-
fusion. They say it is a modern innovation in Nan-
tucket — this noise and hurry — the result of an inva-
sion of hackmen and other barbarians from "the
Continent." However, we saw upon the hat of an
honest looking, serious faced and quiet man the one
word that concerned us — " Siasconset," (the word of
the map makers and " foreigners " but used, no doubt,
as a concession to the ignorance of new comers,) and
to him we clung with one hand while the other
grasped the peace offering, (a basket of peaches for the
boys,) until he promised to see us, luggage and all,
safely transferred across the island that very night.
It was nearly dark when, after many delays, we
finally set out, up through the town, out into the
unf enced fields, along the wide sandy road of parallel
ruts, over the moors, away to 'Sconset. The seven
and a half miles were long ones, and the ghostly mile-
stones passed slowly in a most straggling and discour-
A SECOND MIGKATION. NOTES BY THE WAY. 31
aged procession as we moved on toward our destina-
tion. The black and stunted jack-pines that bordered
the road for a portion of the way looked like
bandits awaiting some secluded and gloomy gorge to
perpetrate foul murder upon us and atrocious confisca-
tion of our bags. The chill of the damp sea-air closed
one mouth after another — all except Jehu's — long
before w r e reached the elevation from which the star
of Sankaty Light was discernible and where we
caught the first twinkle of the little 'Scon set, whither
the star pointed us on our way.
Down the hill we* toiled in the much vexed sand of
the narrowing road, Jehu more vehemently belaboring
his steed as we approached the end of our journey.
Down the one broad avenue w T e rattled, over the
pebbly and no longer sandy way, until, at the very foot
of the street, almost at the edge of the bluff, where
in the dim light we seemed about to run down a little
white box of a house, the horse made a short, sharp
turn into a lane — and we were there ! So w r ere the
family — so were the neighbors who were expecting
the arrival of the "husband," that phenomenon "which
is often more conspicuous at 'Sconset for its absence
than its presence.
The " joint head " was again united, and all the
little " sub heads" were as happy about it as — as was
the happy father. The dreams by the evening fire-
light of the library were already being realized ; and
the great waves, beating on the shore, were sounding
out their deep, solemn Amen !
FIRST VIEWS — OCEAN 'sCONSET — COTTAGE
(N the early morning after my arrival, I went out
upon the bluff back of our cottage to look upon
the ocean whose subdued roar had mingled with our
evening greetings and with all my dreams, and which
broke upon the silent morning hour like echoing
thunder among the distant hills. A dweller inland
all my life, and seldom getting more than glimpses of
the sea, this vast, restless and moody realm of waters
is always a solemn mystery to me. Its power and
possibilities, its boundless expanse, its moaning and
thunderous booming along the shore, its majestic,
swelling waves rolling in from beyond the vision's
ken, always fill me with unspeakable emotions.
I had now come to sit clown at the feet of this
master of all the passions, to study its secret and probe
its heart, if possible, and to enjoy with simplicity and
in fulness, all the sensations that it might excite
within me. On this morning not a breath was stirring,
but the thunder of the surf, that had mingled with my
dreams, was sounding all along the shore, and like
serried ranks with martial music marching home from
victorious battle-fields, the tireless and ceaseless waves
were coming in, rank upon rank, wave upon wave,
and breaking in seething foam upon the beach.
Breakfast broke the spell and revery ; after which
the tables were turned — I was the beach, and with
lively demonstrations of delight the children dashed
upon me, broke all over me,climbed upon me,and had
merrier sport than ever had the serious and savage
waves I had been gazing on, dashed they against rock
and beating crag or upon smooth and sandy beach ;
and the music of childish shout and laughter was
richer to my ears just then than all the whisperings of
the sea or the booming of the breakers. Indeed, I
was a great favorite in the house, for a day or two —
such is the idealizing and enhancing power of absence !
I saw, however, by daylight, that the whole family
group had been growing away from me. The lads
were as strong and rugged as little Indian boys ; the
girl-baby was about as broad as she was long ; and
FIRST VIEWS. 'SCONSET. 35
even the matron, with all her responsibilities, had
^rown so young and blooming that I felt it was an
unfortunate and embarrassing mistake not to have
brought along our marriage certificate to disabuse the
honest sceptics who thought she was my grown up
" The family " now consisted of our own house-
hold of seven, and my niece and two sisters who had
lodgings elsewhere. The cottage, a little one-story
house with low ceilings and queer little rooms, shin-
gle-sided, and odd in every feature internal and ex-
ternal, was as full as a bee-hive and a vast deal noisier.
It was a marvel how we all got into it, and turned
around when once in it, and why it didn't burst with
its plethora of humanity.
This same little fisherman's house, built low and
strong to resist the sweeping gales and fierce tempests
of winter, and shingled all over to keep out the
driving spray which would penetrate any other cover-
ing, is a type of all the houses of the original hamlet
— the fisherman's 'Sconset. It stands twenty or thirty
feet from the edge of the bluff, twenty feet below
which the sand-beach extends a hundred yards or
more to the water's edge where the summer breakers
spend their force. In autumn and winter the waves
frequently dash wildly across the stretch of sand
against the bluff ; and in their fury they have already
carried off cottages built too near the edge.
Original 'Sconset consists of about two hundred
of these cottages built along three narrow parallel
lanes or streets running along the bluff. The houses
are in little enclosures, two or three in a group, with
narrow cross-lanes, this arrangement having been
adopted as a protection against a general conflagra-
tion, and also to allow free passage for everybody
to and from the central town-pump.
The town-pump itself groans and creaks night and
day, for it supplies the whole population. One trem-
bles to think what would happen if a valve should
collapse. And as everybody must go or send to the
pump daily, it becomes the best advertising medium
in the whole village. Here you will find who has
a " cottage to let," who has " lost " a bracelet or
a pocket-book, when and where there is to be " preach-
ing," and occasionally items of news from the outside
world posted pro bono publico by some benevolent
person. Indeed, that is a pump worth having on a
FIRST VIEWS. ' SCONSET. 37
sandy island with the "salt, salt sea" all around it,
with not a drop of compassion in all its tides.
At least half of these fishermen's houses are
occupied as " cottages " by the summer visitors, and
by the fishermen during the fishing seasons, spring
and autumn, and most of them are vacant in the
winter when there is " nothing to live for " in 'Sconset.
The owners of the cottages are mainly residents of
the " town " — as Nantucket village is invariably
designated. After the first days of September have
sent the children home to the schools, and the fathers
and mothers back to their homes on the continent,
and the summer birds have flown, the JSTantucketer
who has quietly staid in town goes out to 'Sconset with
his family to enjoy his own vacation and take his ease
in his own house. He will tell you that the summer
visitors make a great mistake in going away so early,
and that the months of September and October are
the most delightful of the year. This accords fully
with the experince of my own family who remained
there through the month of September. After the
"August Storm" the temperature is equable and
agreeable for several weeks.
It was years ago, however, that Nantucket discov-
ered a delightful retreat in 'Sconset, The " town "
itself is in the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of a
serene old age, its mighty deeds all gone into history,
its whale fisheries a glory of the past, its population
living on what it has done in olden times and upon
its growing reputation as the most delicious summer
resort anywhere on the coast. Yet the quietest seek
a deeper quiet, or at least the change of air and scene
curative and restful to body and spirit. The Nan-
tucketer, believing loyally in his own country — this
little island only about three or four miles wide and
fourteen long — made 'Sconset his watering place.
So it happens that here and there- among the fisher-
men's humble homes a more modern and ambitious
house lifts its two-storied front, tempting Providence
and the storms. So, also, it comes about that along
the one broad street, and up the slight ascent on the
road to ]STantucket,the rich men of the Island, old sea-
captains and merchants, built more pretentious cot-
tages for their summer enjoyment. Later, as " for-
eigners " found out the secret of 'Sconset,there sprang
up the two hotels, The Atlantic House, and The
Ocean View House, which are still modest and mod-
FIRST VIEWS. ORIGINAL SCONSET. 39
Also, a little south of the old village, along the
bluff named Sunset Heights, is springing up a still
later growth of cottages, half a dozen or so, built and
owned by the residents of several different States.
These command the finest views and are delightful
residences. We shall hear more of Sunset Heights
before ten years shall pass — a new 'Sconset of wide
and deserved fame. The bluff north of the village is
witnessing a similar growth and promises to be a fit
companion wing to Sunset Heights.
But there is quaint little original 'Sconset yet, with
the diminutive, be-shingled, low T -roofed fishermen's
houses of days long gone by ; and it is that which
makes the charm of this sea-side resort unlike anything
and everything else along the Atlantic coast. The
" modern improvements " are yet and long will be
externals — the heart will always be " Old 'Sconset."
There is no railroad to 'Sconset. By and by there
will be. Now no sound more fearful breaks the spell
of the ocean's solemn moan than the blast of Captain
Baxter's tin-horn announcing his arrival with the mail,
or, when he sets forth to town, telling all 'Sconset to
hurry up with their letters and errands, for he is off
40 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
in five minutes, — live minutes exactly by that big sil-
ver watch which, he says, General Grant gave him !
Indeed, but for the summer visitor, big and little,
Sleepy Hollow never was half so quiet as 'Sconset.
As to noise and bustle, it is Sunday all the while.
There isn't a pavement to rattle a hoof or wheel upon,
— the velvety turf makes no sound under your foot.
Possibly Sunday is a busier day than all the rest of
the week, for on Sunday there is in the little school-
house a Quaker meeting or a Unitarian service, or, in
one of the hotels religious exercises are conducted by
some clerical visitor according to his own creed. Of
course, when one is hungry for religious instruction
and solace he takes what he can get whether it is cut
and carved or dished after his own particular fashion
'Sconset of itself, it is plain to see, is not in the
ordinary sense remarkable — indeed, its chief charm
may be that it is not remarkable. But it sits by the
ocean which is always grand enough in any mood, and
which, although old enough to have a fixed character,
is full of new surprises and revelations of power and
majesty. Safe on land, one delights to study the
savage sea showing its white fangs as the rising wind
buffets the crests of the running waves, or to scan the
wild waste under the darkening storm clouds and see
how out on "the rips" (the reefs) the white pillars of
tossed waters leap up at the sky as if to snatch the
lightnings out of the hand of Jupiter and deliver
them over to Neptune.
But it is more to one's mind, I think, on a vacation,
tired of the turmoil of town and men left behind, to
lie on the 'Sconset bank a hundred yards away from
the hiss and swash of waters mingled with the
thunderous throb of the breakers, of a calm day, and
watch the oncoming of the regular and stately waves.
One is never tired of that, I am sure.
One of our household loved better, spreading a rug
on the sand, to sit and half recline just out of the
reach of the nimble water running up the sandy in-
cline, and to both hear all the sounds and watch all
the waves. She did this by the hour, day by day,
gathering up into her heart all that the ocean had to
say in all its moods to a most devoted admirer. The
printed book was closed many a time that she might
" go down on the beach " and read the myriad-leaved
book of the sea ; and best beloved voices could not
detain her long from the voices — numerous toned and
tender as well as strong, no doubt, to her ear — of
this new lover of hers who brought tales and senti-
ments from all lands and shores. My busy wife and
my indolent and domestic self, as well as the Practical
Sister, used to have our bit of fun over the new pos-
session of the maiden heart, — but she never heeded
us if only wind and weather were right and ripe for
her over-tryst with the ocean.
The ocean, however, is not all that humble 'Sconset
depends upon for its peculiar charm. Turn your back
to the sea, and you will gaze upon something unlike
anything you have seen elsewhere in this wide country
— the moors ! Is this little island, after all, an excerpt
from bonnie old Scotland ? — a bit of her heathery
moor-land? That is what the learned travelers, in
their enthusiasm, say ; but I don't know. The low-
rolling, brown and purple hills, treeless except where
ragged little pines are planted, barren of nearly every-
thing but a wild beauty of their own, — another sea,
but so quiet and sombre ! — the stretch and expanse as
of a descended and upturned sky, cloud-ridged, and
with a bewildering indefiniteness — these were what
divided with the ocean our admiration and devotion.
Years ago, one day, I was on a treeless prairie of
SLEEPY HOLLOW. 43
the West. The vast level plain was unbroken by
a single elevation, and the sky came down to it on
every side like a hollow hemisphere of blue. We
were "out of sight of land," and only the narrow rib-
bons of iron, straight as an arrow, over which we
were whirling away out of one horizon into another,
told us that mortal man had been there before. That
was something to see and feel, but it was hardly so
impressive as the moors of the little sea-girt island of
Some day later, when we traverse these fields of
nature, w r e w r ill look closer into the secret of this
charm and dreamy mystery so delightfully off-setting
and supplementing the impressiveness of the sea.
Between my new born impressions and enthusiams,
and the devoted attention of my boys who wanted me
forthwith to see and do everything, and the over-
whelming affection of the infant heiress of the
family, who seemed to fear I might vanish out of
it, my first day at 'Sconset was fast becoming a
busy one, when — alas! I began to grow unaccount-
ably sleepy !
" It's always the way, the first few days," I was
44 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
" Yon came to rest," my wife added, " and yon
shall sleep as often and as much as yon like. If any-
body thinks you are dull, I'll explain that you are a
c new-comer.' "
The boys were called off, the little lady was invei-
gled " down beach to see ' wa-wa,' " and I slept.
When I wakened, one whose whole soul enjoyed
'Sconset, and who, being " an older but not a better"
admirer of the surroundings, felt that he was some-
how responsible for the due intensity and correctness
of my first impressions, besought me to walk with
him to " Tom Never' s Head," a good two miles away.
I protested that I was indisposed to walk so far.
Would I, then, take a little stroll up toward Sankaty ?
No, I thanked him, I would prefer not to, if he would
excuse me. I ought certainly, at least, to take a
plunge in the surf, — it was very fine to-day, — would
I not join him in that most excellent and healthful
" Alas ! my dear sir, — I am very much obliged to
you, — I appreciate and thank you for your kindness,
— I hope to see and do all these things," exclaimed I
in genuine desperation, " but, to tell you' the humilia-
ting truth, I am as drowsy as an owl ! "
SLEEPY HOLLOW. 45
" Oh — yes — I had forgotten that you came only
"With kindly consideration he bade me good-after-
noon ; I glanced through the western windows and
noted with satisfaction that the sun gave me two
hours before tea ; and I fell off again into a delicious
It was a typical experience ; and as I was in pursuit
of the typical I would not have missed it if I could.
For several days, in the midst of all that was new and
interesting, I slept inordinately and ate in proportion.
Everybody to whom I confided the secret only
laughed and said, " Oh, that's the story with us
all when we first come here, — sea-air, you know."
I thought even this was worth something to the
worn-out men who came hither for rest and recupera-
tion — to sleep, to eat, and then to eat and sleep again.
The nervous, headache-y, dyspeptic toiler at office-
desk, the head-weary of every calling, need these
humble good things in their lives quite as vitally as a
rejuvenation of their sentiments, a waking up of their
enthusiasms or a kindling anew of youthful poetic
fires, — but then at 'Sconset they may have all these
and the slumber, too.
|N the second day I was duly initiated into the
surf -bathing of 'Sconset. At eleven o'clock,
straggling down the bank and across the sands to the
beach came the bathers, men, women and children —
in motley suits passing all description, fantastic and
uncouth, neat and artistic, faded and forlorn, bright
and gay, span new and clean, and mottled with cling-
ing kelp, — costumes baggy, short in the extremities,
disguising beauty and giving ugliness a new horror, —
dresses bewitching in the revelation of white arms
and fair necks, — all sorts, indeed, and amazingly
amusing to a fresh comer to 'Sconset. Down they
came to the two or three chosen bathing-grounds,
where a stout rope stretched over a support on shore
extended out forty or fifty feet to a barrel which sus-
tained it and beyond which it was firmly anchored, —
a contrivance which gave confidence and courage to
the most timid.
Captain Gorham is there to see that no serious acci-
dent shall occur. lie sits quietly on the bench on
the beach, with his elbows on his knees, watching
every movement, ready to spring to the rescue if
there is a faint or a strangle.
Into the surf the bathers dash, or timidly creep,
and with feminine little shrieks running back from
an incoming big wave, or plunge headlong through
the wall of water just before it breaks, — entering the
water in as many ways, indeed, as there are characters
and temperaments among the two-score bather-.
The strong swimmers strike boldly out into the
smooth and swelling waves beyond the surf and swim
and float with the tide that runs up or down along
the shore like a river current, and come back to the
starting point and repeat the sport. Those who do
not swim cling close to the rope and let the breakers
dash against them, often overwhelming and burying
them out of sight for an instant and disorganizing the
line in a most tumultuous fashion. By jumping up
witli the rising waves some keep their heads above
water and preserve their equilibrium. But sooner or
later an unusually large wave comes, and the whole
line of bathers disappears. It is a matter of doubt
48 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
then on which side of the rope they will severally re-
appear, and whether feet will not come up where
heads ought to be. It is then, too, that Captain Gor-
ham, if not already, in the water among them, is
doubly alert and makes a rapid calculation of how
many hands were clinging to the rope before the wave
came and how many heads ought to re-appear. But,
with the j>roverbially tenacious grip of drowning men
these venturesome non-swimmers, many of them slen-
der women and timid children, almost always " hang
on " to the cable and in the end come right-side up.
I swim. I am thankful for that. And so I dash
boldly out to sea until the tide catches me in its
strong embrace. I feel the sweeping power against
which I can make no progress, and realize how insig-
nificant and helpless, after all, the " man overboard "
in a storm must be. Ah ! but it is rare sport to dash
into the wall of water, and an instant after to emerge
calm and serene above the waves beyond, — the roar
and fury of the waters all behind you, — to float
quietly along just outside of the line of the breaking,
foaming and rushing water, floating on the swelling
bosom of the wave as safe as if swinging in a ham-
mock, riding the ocean-swell as the sea-bird floats.
SURF- BATHING. 49
I never recovered, however, from my first shock at
seeing the children running down the smooth sand,-
following the receding waves and then scampering
back as the breakers heaved great floods of water
after them — and often threw them down, dashing
them " high and dry " upon the beach. It was
sufficiently trying to my nerves to see anybody who
could not swim, — man, woman or child, — clinging to
a swaying rope and battling with the great roaring
and pounding breakers ; but the children were my
special daily terror. I delivered many energetic
domestic .lectures upon the whole subject, but they
all, of my own household, — where my word ought to
have been law, — big and little, only laughed at me
and said that it was because I could swim that I was
frightened about them. The one answer to my fears
was the reassuring fact that no bather at 'Sconset had
ever yet been drowned. When, one day, they drew
the senseless form of a young woman out of the surf
and laid her upon the sand, I said " it has come at
last — there must always be a first case.'- But that
was only a faint, and not a drowning, and no harm
Here a little later, like the star actor upon the
stage, come "the athletes! " — a half dozen young fel-
lows in tights and magnificently built. Cart-wheels
and summersaults on the sand as a prologue, and then,
as a big wave comes rolling in from the sea and lifts
its great front for a Samsonian destruction, — just as it
curves its crest and bends its great shoulders, about to
dash headlong with crushing force prone upon the
sloping beach, — the athletes with shout and leap, the
whole line of them, rush down the sands and plunge
headlong into the liquid wall, out of sight !
Ah ! there goes, too, a light-haired, scantily attired,
brown-bodied little fellow, my Ned ! — light among
these athletes ! I don't cry out ; the women suppress
a shriek ; but I hold my breath hard for an instant,
for I have not before seen this young fresh- water lad
in the ocean ; — and now, out in the smooth water the
light-haired head comes up with the rest, and the
strong young arms strike out in a masterly way that
makes me proud of him. Later, when he performed
the same feat with waves nine feet high, in a storm
which reduced the surf -bathers to a few daring ones,
I had no fear for him, but wondered what a boy
There was one magnificent swimmer, Colonel S., of
Detroit, who for a whole hour, twice a day, in the
wildest weather, struck boldly out beyond the limits
set by the most venturesome, and swam with the tide
for a quarter of a mile, then walked up the shore to
his starting point and repeated, time after time, the
perilous sport. When the clouds darkened the sky
and the wind howled and the surf roared its loudest,
and " the rips " out near the gloomy horizon were
throwing up great white leaping columns of water,
this sight of a man's head — nothing more — far out
from shore, rising and falling with the big waves, was
something not soon to be forgotten.
Of course we made the surf -bath the central fact of
the day. Everything that happened or was done was
quite subordinate in importance to the bath. Our
cottage was just on the brow of the bluff opposite the
chief bathing resort, which was reached by a stair-way
down the bank and a narrow temporary plank-walk
across the sand. So we used apartments connected
with our convenient dwelling as dressing-rooms, and
marched down in single file to the beach for the daily
plunge and tumble. It was a spectacle to behold,
they said, (and the brilliant and witty Miss Norris
laughed inordinately at the Bight) — the tall man lead-
ing down to the water his little wife, three other
ladies, Eed, and last of all brown little " Ell.," in the
costumes of the occasion.
When we marched back again it was a bedraggled
procession, unmindful of the order of our going, with
wraps about us to protect from the wind ; and some-
times (only on a few occasions, however,) it required
some effort to satisfactorily establish the all important
" reaction." The boys managed that problem easily
enough by lying in the sand under the sun's hot rays
by the hour, with brief dashes into the surf ; and they
grew fat and brown and tough under the treatment.
After a particularly boisterous experience in the
surf one morning, one of the ladies of the house, who
had been badly shaken up by the breakers, said with
vigor, " I quite agree with you that it is dangerous
for ladies and children to bathe here as they do, — the
undertow is very strong."
" Undertow ? Not a bit of it ! It's the knocking
about, and pitching heels over head, and the rapid
descent of the beach to deep water that's dangerous,"
said I, with full assurance and with the animation I
felt in at length securing a convert to my opinion.
" "Well, I have had some experience — a good deal
SURF- BATHING. — D N DERTCTW ? 5 3
of it — in surf-bathing at various places, — you havn't ;
and / say this is the strongest undertow I ever
encountered,'' replied she with some spirit, and with
just the least bit of haughtiness.
" "What do you call ' undertow,' anyhow ? " asked I
with a secret confidence that I was now about to
utterly vanquish her. There's nothing like a defini-
tion to crush a woman with, especially when she is
the one to furnish it.
" Undertow ? Why, when the water of a spent
wave rushes down the beach again' to meet the next
wave', — that's what I call ' undertow,' and it's particu-
larly strong on this 'Sconset beach."
" Pshaw ! " said I, eagerly ; that's a backward-flow,
and not an undertow at all. If the water in flowing
back made an under-current and went under instead
of against the breast of the incoming wave, — that's
what I should call an ' undertow.' But it does noth-
ing of the sort here, — it simply rushes down to the
wave and is dashed bodily back again. I stood to-day
just outside of the comb of the surf and tried to
detect any evidence of this under-current, and there
wasn't a bit of it. There was plenty of ' over-flow,'
I assure you, and I went out of sight several times in
my pursuit of knowledge with a rope in my hands.
But I got the fact I was after — there isn't any
' undertow.' "
" Let us see the dictionary then — perhaps you
won't dispute that," said she, thoroughly aroused ;
" possibly your brief salt-water experience is not of
so great va.ue, after all, as you seem to think it is. —
There ! " as she opened the book to the word, — " hear
the conclusion of the whole matter, — 'Undertow, a
nautical term for any decided under-current of
"Yes ! Yes ! " I interrupted ; "just my notion ex-
" Hear the rest of it, if you please," she con-
tinued, " ' The backward flow of a wave.' I am right
either way, but I am sure I am right according to
the second definition."
" And I am sure," said I, with a little of the air
and tone of a stump orator approaching a climax,
" that when people talk of ' undertow ' as a thing of
danger at bathing resorts, they mean a ' decided
under-current of water ' that trips people's feet from
under them and sucks them remorselessly down under
the waves and out into the depths, hopelessly dead
SURF-BATHING. — UNDERTOW '. 55
and drowned. And I maintain on all mv experience
and observation here, and on the concurrent testimony
of all the 'Sconset people, that there isn't anything
here that deserves the name or fame of ' undertow.' "
u And I maintain just the contrary," insisted she, a
Of course I was right — I knew I was. But I
never could convince her ; and on this occasion,
with a pantomimic flourish of my lingers, I only said,
at the end, " scissors ! " Whereat she laughed — and
the war was over. After that, our controversy never
got further than " Undertow ! " — " Backward flow ! "
— " Undertow ! " — " Scissors ! "
To be sure, she took a wicked pleasure, occasionally,
in conversing in my presence with old habitues of the
sea-shore upon the general subject, and gave me many
a sly look of merry triumph when they agreed with
her that " the undertow was very strong." As it is a
cardinal point of my philosophy never to waste breath
on'obstinate error, I always refrained from enlighten-
ing these self-deluded persons.
Here, at least, I have the last word, and ft must be
an honest one — There is no undertow at 'Sconset!
ISLAND WANDEKINGS BLUE-FISHING COD-FISHING.
'ED was alway eager to show me his favorite resorts,
and I often accompanied my young guide about
the island. One afternoon we walked along the bluff
by a well-worn foot-path to Sankaty Light-House, sit-
uated on a bank eighty-five feet above the level of
the sea. Out of a corner of the snug little house
occupied by the keeper and his assistant and their
families, springs the high tower of solid masonry
which is surmounted by its brilliant crown of glass.
This revolving light is one of the finest on the coast ;
and gleaming like a star and then passing into partial
eclipse, and gleaming again, it not only warns and
guides the mariner on this dangerous sea, but also
points out to the belated traveler his way along the
bewildering paths over the moors. It is the pride of
the Nantucket er, who realizes better than the home-
staying dwellers inland can the full meaning of a
shipwreck which this friendly light aims to prevent.
ISLAND WANDERINGS. 57
A walk of a mile further in the gloaming brought
us to Sachacha Pond, about a mile long and three-
fourths as wide and perhaps the largest body of fresh
water on the island. No stream enters it, but the
low-lying hills sloping down to its shores pour into
this reservoir the rain-fall of Spring and Autumn.
It is separated from the ocean itself by a low strip of
sandy beach ; and it is possible that the sea-water
filters through the bank. Sometimes, in the stormy
season, the larger waves dash across the long barrier
into the pond. The water is slightly salt, but not
sufficiently so to exterminate the fresh-water fish that
thrive in it in great abundance.
It was here that the boys " went a-perching " and
" eel-bobbing." The perch are quite unlike the fish
of that name in inland waters, and in shape are very
much like the black bass. They are delicious eating
and in great demand at the 'Sconset table. They are
also favorites with the shark-fishers as being a most
attractive lure for the ravenous monsters roaming
about on the adjacent shoals.
Sankaty Light was by this time gleaming against
the darkened sky, and we hastened homeward along
the lofty bluffs. The surf showed its white fangs
58 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
down below and seemed to bite and gnaw at the
beach, rushing at it fiercely and then retreating, like
some savage beast attacking a formidable enemy.
We fancied it might be snarling and gnashing its
teeth, while the huge dark body behind writhed in
rage. But all the subordinate sounds were stilled by
the distance — the hissing and seething of the waters
on the sand — and we heard only that ever recurring
boom ! boom ! all along the shore, coming up to our
ears out of the growing darkness with crescendo
force and then ceasing for an instant, then coming
again, with tireless succession and regularity. Would
it never cease its roaring ! — this restless sea, beating
from the beginning of all time to the end of all time
upon the steadfast shore ! Is it never weary, day nor
night ! Is it sleepless for ever !
The evening breeze from the ocean, delightfully
cool and invigorating, was whispering in our ears its
tales of travel over the wild waters ; the darkness
was deepening until the path on the tickle edge of
the bluff was becoming uncertain to our eyes. We
hastened our steps, and soon the twinkling lights in
the windows of the village appeared, and the cheer-
ful blaze of lanterns hung in the narrow streets
before the houses guided us to our door. We pulled
the latch-string and entered our cheery little cottage —
and I had faithfully and delightfully done one of the
things set down in the 'Sconset curriculum. Our
walk of five miles along the coast, forth and back,
was almost as invigorating as a surf-bath.
One of the sources of revenue to the resident
'Sconseter is catching blue-fish out on the shoals and
supplying the hotels and private tables with the catch
fresh from the water. It was always interesting to
see the fisherman accomplish the perilous feat of put-
ting his dory — a large and wonderfully seaworthy
row-boat — out through the surf, and beaching it again
on his return. Getting the dory part way down the
beach and watching for the coming of just the proper
sort of wave, (I could never quite catch his secret,)
when it came he gave a powerful push, leaped into
the stern of the boat, seized the oars and by a single
vigorous stroke was beyond the line of breakers before
the next wave came, and riding safely like a duck on
the long Atlantic swells. Rowing or spreading his
sail, off he went to his fishing, a mile or more from
shore, as if he had done the most ordinary thing in
v His return was managed with no less skill and with
possibly more danger. I have seen him in a heavy-
sea riding up and down, just outside of the surf -line
and in such proximity to it that he seemed momenta-
rily about to be dashed ashore, looking long now out
over the heaving and rolling waves as the swell lifted
him out of the trough of the sea to the peak of the min-
iature mountain of water, then quickly along the shore
and the line of furious breakers, for a full quarter-hour,
— then suddenly by a quick stroke throwing the bow
around toward land, pulling with all his might for an
instant, and riding swiftly in on the crest of a wave,
right up on the beach. I was always at fault there,
too, in determining which wave it was that would
bring him thus safely through the dangerous surf.
For all that I could ever see, one wave was as good —
or as bad — as another for such a landing.
The fishing depended very much on the condition
of the tide, the movements of which had a stimulating
effect upon the roamers of the deep. Sometimes the
fisherman anchored his boat half a mile — and from
that to a mile — from shore, at other times spread a
sail which held the boat against the tide. There are
two accepted modes of blue-fishing — " trolling " from
a yacht under full sail, (the faster you go, the better),
and by the " heave and haul " method when in a row-
boat or at anchor. The latter is practiced at 'Sconset
for the excellent reason that there are no sailing craft
on this coast, which latter fact, also, follows from
there being no harbor to anchor in. Only such boats
can be used as can be successfully beached.
To heave and haul for blue-fish — whirling the
heavy " drail " until it acquires the right momentum
and then sending it out thirty, forty, fifty, or even
sixty feet, drawing it rapidly in again, hand over
hand, — is not only hard work for an amateur, but
without much practice it is very inefficiently done.
The original and resident fisherman, however, believes
it is the only genuine fishing. Trolling he considers
the lazy device of inexperts and landsmen.
Now and then the blue-fisherman captures a young
shark off the shore, and he might at any time load
his dory, if it would carry them, with lusty fellows of
that genus nine or ten feet long, if he should address
them with the proper inducements by way of appro-
priate tackle and bait. Very little is said on that
topic, however, for occasionally a bather has scruples
in regard to sharks, difficult to overcome by logic, al-
62 'SCON SET COTTAGE LIFE.
though for that matter nobody has ever had a " bite ' ?
in a bathing-suit.
'Sconset was formerly one of the two principal fish-
ing stations on the island for cod-fishing ; and that
industry still employs many men for portions of the
year. Of this the summer visitor sees nothing. The
cod-fish have an aristocratic way of going off for the
summer to watering-places of their own, beyond the
reach of business and perplexities of all sorts which
possibly vex even the phlegmatic cod. The local
fisherman tells you the simple fact is that for com-
fort's sake they abandon the shoals in warm weather
and seek the cool and agreeable depths just outside
the fishing-grounds, until it is again cool enough near
shore to suit their instinct and fancy.
But 'Sconset sees another sight in October when
the cod come in upon their favorite feeding grounds.
The little village is filled with strong, fearless men
and busy industry. Boats and fishing tackle are over-
hauled and put in order, the drying racks along the
bluffs are repaired, and some fine day it is shouted
along the highways and by-ways of the town, "the
cod are in !" Then the work begins in earnest, and is
continued until the autumnal storms and the severity of
the cold put a stop to operations. In March the fishing
is again carried on until the warmth of the compara-
tively shallow water sends the cod off again into
The life of 'Sconset, Spring and Fall, and the life of
'Sconset in Mid-winter are probably as unlike as can
well be imagined. The " cottages'' of the summer —
the self-same "fishermen's huts" of March and
October — what diverse tales they would tell if they
had memory and tongue, and what different defi-
nitions of "life" would they give!
g&KE resident people of 'Sconset (what few there are)
>P are genuine good people, if a summer's experience
with them is to be trusted. It is true they are
coming to have an eye to business in their dealings
with strangers who are supposed to spend money
freely in the vacation days, but they have not yet
learned the arts and wiles of making the visitor
bleed at every pore. They are quite content to live
and let live, and seem to be as honest and consci-
entious in their transactions as any class you will
meet with in any region unvexed by the summer
They are in the main the families of retired
seamen or fishermen, or descendants of the famous
whalemen of Xantucket who have seen perils by sea,
face to face, that have sobered them for life ; who
'SCONSET PEOPLE. 65
have been self reliant so long that it is in the blood and
bone of the whole Nantucket population to be too
self-poised and self-respectful to do a mean or
unworthy act. Besides, there is a strain of the good
blood of the original pilgrims to this island in all the
inhabitants that does not fade out, wash out nor
There is sturdy old " Captain Baxter," the express-
man ; stage proprietor, agent and driver all in one ;
the self -constituted post-master ; the blower of the
morning and evening tin -horn, announcing his depart-
ure to town and return ; — Baxter with the famous
ship's iigure-head in his door-yard and rare old clock in
his dining-room ; — keen and witty Captain Baxter, the
drawer of the long bow in his remarkable
narratives; — the old sailor Captain of many a
wild experience on the sea, who will spin you
a marvelous yarn, but whose fancy runs away with
his fact until you are incredulous of fact as well
as of fancy ; — Baxter ever-so-old and yet as spry as a boy,
despite a little jerk of his legs as if he had rejuvenated
them with steel springs ; the only and original Baxter,
good-naturedly esteemed one of the most useful men
on the island.
Just beyond the big town-pump is the one little
" store " of 'Sconset, where, upon a pinch, you may
find stationery by the penny's worth, needles and
thread, candles and cod-fish, fearful cigars and villain-
ous tobacco, ancient peaches and modern candy,
brooms and pails, and a few other necessaries of life.
There you will find a cheerful little old man — or,
read the "notice" on the closed door and hunt for
him — whom all the children with wise discernment
love. He it is who has the honor of being the father
of the Rev. Phoebe Hanaford who will preach a ser-
mon to you when she comes to 'Sconset that will do
you good to hear.
There was a certain delightful elderly man who
brought us the freshest vegetables from his garden
every morning, gave us honest count and good meas-
ure, and kept the account as faithfully as if he had
taken the iron-clad oath, — Folger by name. There
being upon the island uncounted " Folgers " and
" Coffins " and " Macys," it is no disclosure of identity
to mention this one by name. This particular Folger
was an old whaleman, and had on his various voyages
in distant seas kept a remarkably well- written and
interesting journal, illustrated in the margin with
'SC0NSET PEOPLE. 67
skilfully drawn pen-and-ink sketches of whales, black-
fish and porpoises in the attitudes in which they were
seen at the dates opposite. I begged the volume to
read, and followed the simple story of the whaleman's
life of forty years or more ago — the days of calm, of
spirited sailing, of sighting and pursuing and captur-
ing whales, of the inevitable " man overboard " — with
an interest only intensified by the plain, matter-of-fact
style of the record.
Many a time, too, I led him to talk of the old times ;
and as he lacked the peculiar " fancy" of the versa-
tile Baxter, I greatly enjoyed his homely narratives.
It seemed like coming very close to the grave dangers
and severe hardships and sad disasters of the long,
weary voyages of the whalemen, to hear the story told
in such a direct and realistic way.
"One time," said he, in one of these talks, "we
had been off in the Pacific four years, and hadn't
heard a word from home in all that time. When we
came back, just as soon as we dropped anchor, I got
ashore and went straight to my father's house. You
see I hadn't got married then and was living at
father's. When I got there, I went right in, anxious
enough, as you may know, to find out what had
happened in all those four years and the first one I
saw was father, — and then I saw a woman that I
didn't know. ' Father,' said I, a little scared, like,
< where's mother ? ' ' Your mother,' said he, ' died
two years ago last March.' I tell you, it was hard. I
hadn't heard the first word. I guessed the rest, —
that woman was his second wife ! That was all right
enough — but, you see, my mother was dead and
buried and father was married again — and I had to
take the whole of it in, all at once. I tell you, I
wished then I was back on the Pacific."
The bronzed and hairy old veteran of the sea and
of that wilder life in the early days of California,
when hundreds of ISantucketers went off to the
gold mines, seemed, as he told me the story, not even
yet to have recovered 'from the shock of that long ago
The good man had a horse — a very sedate one — and
a "box-cart," one of the peculiar institutions of the
island, a four-wheeled affair with square box on
springs, and an iron step behind by which to ascend
the exalted thing. These we frequently chartered
for our family cruises over the moors and to various
notable points on the island.
" She's a lazy beast," said Folger, at the first
hiring, " but a good one. If she won't go, hit her a
lick ! — she needs it."
It was an honest characterization of the animal,
throughout, and we did not hesitate to obey the
owner's injunction, with gratifying results.
Then there was the excellent old lady who made
cakes and pies and baked bread and fancy things, all
of them good, for the cottagers who did not have the
facilities or the courage for such undertakings.
With her, however, as with the rest of the purveyors
to our comfort, one needed to use a little tact and a
deal of politeness. You don't give " orders " in
'Sconset — you politely make " requests." These peo-
ple need and want to make an honest living, and you
are the most convenient material at hand out of which
to make it. But they are descended from blood that
ruled the wave and humbled the leviathan, and the
spirit of the Norseman was never prouder than is
theirs. They have great self-respect — none too much,
no doubt — and if they perform services which you
have been accustomed to think menial, they do them
with a spirit that dignities both them and their work.
It was young Horace Folger who caught blue-fish
for our table. The whales were all caught out of the
Atlantic before he was born, perhaps ; but I would'
w r ager his keen eye, quick hand and trained skill in
handling a dory, against a whale's life, any time. He
is a born whaleman, albeit he doth " heave and haul "
out on the shoals to the end that the summer dweller
at 'Sconset may feast upon one of the most delicious
of fishes that ever melted in the mouth of the epicure.
The milkman — whom the little fair-haired lady in
blue flannel soon came to know as the " mook-mon "
— drove over from Quidnit, from beyond Sankaty,
every morning ; and on special request brought also
long-necked clams and lobsters. It was for some days
a mystery with me how milk was extracted from the
sandy and sterile soil of the island. But a little wider
observation discovered grazing fields near the ponds
where a diligent cow, with j^atient spirit and perse-
verance, might accomplish something satisfactory ;
and various large enclosures of whole farms in a field
where fine-looking sheep were feeding in the heather
or browsing among the stunted bushes. I also found
here and there, near the village, cornfields where seed-
corn and fish planted together in the hills outwitted
Nature who meant that corn should not grow on a
The few men of the original stock whom I saw at
'Sconset impressed me as having much of the unlettered
wisdom of experience and of long observation and
reflection upon all the various phenomena of nature.
They had seen danger on the briny deep. They had
been obliged to study wind and weather, to predict
and prepare for storms, to interpret the phases and
aspects of sky and sea, to snuff mischief in the sweet
south wind, and to forecast imprisonment on shore in
their snug, be -shingled cottages when the east wind
should come in laden with fog and storm. It is not
fair to say that all weather-wise men have an owlish
air, as if they were on intimate terms with the plan-
ets and the unseen powers of the upper realm, for
these modest old sailors do not — they are too sincere
for that nonsense.
SUNDAY AT 'SCONSET.
HEN Sunday came, the resounding sea continued
the mighty anthem which made all the week holy-
days and 'Sconset a cathedral town. It was difficult to
make any distinction. There was no exceptionally
early rising on any day, and to lie abed on Sunday
morning to a later hour would have been only a self-
imposed penance. It is also one of the traditions of
the place — among the summer folk — that a neglect of
the surf-bath on Sunday would be a violation of good
hygiene. And so the bathers, in, slower procession,
more sedately plunge and tumble in the turbulent
waters, the ladies laugh and scream less loudly at the
rope when the breakers dash them hither and yon, and
the athletes omit the preliminary cartwheel and hand-
However, to make sure of distinguishing this from
other days, a party of us duly attended the " Quaker
Meeting " held at the school-house in the morning,and
the " Praise Meeting " at one of the hotels in the
evening. The former was not typical, I fear, for the
good man who conducted the entire service from a
platform, read and prayed and lengthily preached, as
if it was by preconcerted arrangement that he was
moved by the Spirit, precisely as the preacher of
World's People might have been moved. The Praise
Meeting, however, conducted by the transient dwel-
lers in 'Sconset, and consisting wholly of the singing
of sacred music with piano accompaniment was more
spontaneous and a most fitting close of a peaceful
On another Sunday a clergyman, in the village for
the day, conducted religious services in the hotel
parlors. I do not say they were shortened in view of
the bathing hour, but I know we, the congregation,
including my household, staid not upon the order of
our going, after service, but went directly to our
rooms and cottages to prepare for the bath — seeking
that which at least comes next after Godliness.
What a shock it gave me, when I emerged from my
dressing room arrayed in my blue flannel bathing-suit
all trimmed with white and unmistakably a bathing.
Ytt 5 SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
suit, to see before me in the common reception-room
of our cottage — the clergyman !
" What, sir ! are you going to bathe ? " said he.
" Well," I stammered, " it seems to be according to
the 'Standards' at. 'Sconset, and — I don't mind saying
that I consider it to be quite as important to preserve
one's health on Sunday as on any other day of
" Quite right ! quite right ! — and I am glad to hear
you give so fair an expression of what I have thought
is a wise truth," said the robust and genial clergyman,
as he drew from under his arm — a bathing-suit !
" Can I have an apartment for a moment or two in
which to re-attire myself ? " he asked ; and I thanked
him for his moral support in the matter of the bath,
and said he might.
Once at the beach, I found that the gracious and
benign preacher was so magnificent in his physique,
and (despite his efforts to be staid and sedate) fought
the waves so gallantly, that I wondered he had
preached so well. He never could have had dyspep-
sia, that grand promoter of serious meditation upon
the sinfulness of the world ; he certainly had none of
the scholarly stoop and thinness which popularly be-
SUNDAY AT 'SCONSET. 75
long to the digger in books ; — and yet, had I not just
in i\v been listening to this strong swimmer with great
•delight and profit ?
I shall not tell his name. I do not know what stuff
his deacons and elders, vestrymen, or whatever they
are officially, are made of. Possibly they might see
harm in what their pastor did. We did not. And
some of us thought it was a good sign of the times
that a simple, natural, quiet and healthful recreation
•of this sort could be indulged in with no thought on
the part of any one that it was wrong for us or for
" the minister."
Xone of us, I think, will ever forget the Sunday
evening when a goodly company went down to the
beach, with wraps and heavy coats, and sat on the
sand under an extemporized awning, and some of us
listened while others san^ the «;ood old tunes and
hymns, and then rare songs that stirred the depths
of our hearts, — while the moon came grand and
queenly out of the sea, making ten thousand wave-
crests silvery, and leaving the hollows blue and dark.
Then mounting higher it poured snch splendor down
that the wide expanse of waters was lighted up with
the gl»>ry of the night. Meanwhile sad, sweet song,
76 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
or triumphant hymn, or wailing echo of sorrow min-
gled with the martial dirge of the ocean forever
pulsating along the shore.
There are sacred hours in other temples than those
reared with hands. These by the sea, — are they not
such to the true worshiper ?
THE SQUANTUM SACHACHA POND ON THE MOORS.
u JOTY good house-band," for so did my wife
G*rtL affectionately address me for a season after
our long separation, " we are invited to a ' Squantum,'
to-morrow, by some kind friends of ours, and we must
surely go. It's the thing ; and of all the things here
it's the most ' typical,' as you say."
" So we will ; though what a ' Squantum ' is passes
my present comprehension," I replied.
" Oh, that's only an island name for pic-nic and a
good nice time wandering over the moors to the
squantum-ground. A 'clam-bake' on the shore is
the full development of a squantum — though for that
matter you may pic-nic where you please and as you
please, in the open air."
The next morning, four of us from our cottage
climbed up by the rear step and over the seats into
Mr. Folger's curious but most serviceable " box-cart,"
(bawx-eawt is the local pronunciation,) the basket of
sandwiches, pickles, cake, cold coffee, lots of canned
things and what-not, were stowed away and the wraps
and rugs handed up. The male personage of the
party took the lines, obeyed Folger's injunction to
" hit him a lick ! " — to wit, the horse ; — and away we
went, threading the lanes of 'Sconset to its northern
limits, and then off into indefinite space northwesterly
and pretty nearly all around the compass. We were
preceded by two carriages, ( a comfortable innovation
brought over from Boston,) whose occupants were
familiar with the systems and sub-systems of ruts that
traverse the moors in every direction, and cross and
criss-cross each other to the utter distraction of the
What a delightful ride that was ! Out beyond the
town into the fenceless fields, over the swelling
waves of the landscape, through little vales and over
the ridges and around the mounds; — skirting little
emerald ponds no bigger than a village door-yard and
surrounded by wild shrubbery, golden-rod and
flaming flowers ; — out among the heather, the dwarf
oaks no higher than your knee, the creeping meal-
berry vines with hard, red, fruit like beads, the low
THE SQUANTUM. <9
huckleberry bushes tempting you to dismount over
the seat and back-step ; — winding and turning and
following the parallel ruts wherever they led; — at length
coming to a gate and a vast sheep-pasture and letting
ourselves through and carefully closing the gate after
us ; — catching gleams of the sea now and then on our
right, and on our left looking up with respect upon
the low range of Saul's Hills as being the highest
land in all Nantucket ; — at length by a swoop and a
turn coming down from the west upon a bay of
Sachacha Pond, our " Squantum-ground.*'
A small, deserted old house, surrounded by soft,
luxuriant turf, green and inviting, made the objective
point which all pleasure-seeking requires, while the
adjacent barn ministered comfort and protection to
our horses from the August sun. After descending
from our vehicles and bestowing edibles and extra
apparel under a broad extemporized awning, we
strolled down to the bay. A thirty-foot whale-boat
propelled by two small boys leisurely approached, and
the round dozen of us embarked and slowly moved
out into the lake, to the edge of the shallow water,
where for half an hour in a most juvenile fashion and
in high glee we fished for perch — that being strictly
80 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
" typical " of the legitimate squantum in this particu-
The greedy and voracious fishes took the proffered
bait as if their lives depended upon it. Wriggles and
feminine screams and fish ad libitum and finally ad
nauseam, — and the old whale-boat that boasted an ex-
perience, in its palmier days, in the Pacific, was
laboriously rowed and poled back to the landing.
Hunger is the best sauce, as everybody knows, but
the ladies had done the finest that 'Sconset would per-
mit, and we hardly needed any sauce whatever when,
on the shady side of the house, the white table-cloth
was spread upon the green grass and laden with the
treasures of the collective baskets.
•Some of the ladies could sins: charmingly. At 'Scon-
O CD d
set and here, in the absence of all accompaniment, I
noted anew what a wonderful thing is the human voice !
— full of all tenderness and strength, feeling, melody,
richness beyond comparison, and adaptation to all
phases of human emotion ! Man has made' wood and
metal and material of all sorts vocal with beautiful
and grand sounds, has woven the threads of melody
into harmonies that interpret thought and emotion
OVEB THE MOORS. 81
wonderfully, — but God made the human voice, and
His work surpasses all the rest.
Did you hear Parepa at the Boston Jubilee?
The descending sun gently hinted to us that our
dreamy afternoon in the shade of the old house was
to end by and by ; and we wanted a leisurely drive
homeward over the moors in the afternoon light
and by a new and still more picturesque route. We
gathered up the fragments of our feast and were soon
climbing into the box-cart and the carriages. Away
we went, in quite a spirited fashion, picking our way
among the criss-crossing ruts to Quidnet, a nearly
deserted, little fishing hamlet near the sea and on the
north-eastern shore of the Pond.
There we left our companions, took their directions,
the sun and the faithful old landmark, Sankaty
Light House, as our guides, and wandered off west-
ward, to swing around by a long circuit homeward.
Striking through some sheep-fields, we came upon
a few houses, three or four, weather-beaten and old —
and this was Polpis. I wanted to see Polpis, to
ascertain how a town would thrive under such a
name. Luckily we found it, although it is i4 going
back into the ground " so rapidly that in a few years
82 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
the tourist will look for it in vain. We saw, also,
beyond us a house or two in the distance, near the
arm of the sea which makes the harbor, and they said
that was Quaise, once of some importance for some
reason which I have forgotten (if I ever Imew) .but
now almost too feeble to support even its short
and queer name.
Everything is historic on this island ; — that is one of
the fortunes of things old, like the privileges everybody
concedes to age. But unless you are a Nantucketer
you do not experience a very exalted thrill over Polpis
and Quaise. You very likely tire of the endeavor of
honest souls to impress and solemnize you with regard
to a good many of the other historic things of Nan-
tucket. That is because you have doubtless been
overwrought and are weary with your own modest
local history of a commonplace order. And when
you come to think of it, after all, Nantucket is about
as far from being commonplace as any region of our
broad country this side of the Rocky Mountains. It
is unique, sui generis, delicious in its quaintness, in its
humble romances, in its stories of the whaling
fisheries. Everything here is insular and singular, too,
considering that the little republic belongs to our
ON THE MOOES. 83'-
common country. The people speak of " the conti-
nent " as if, forsooth, the rest of us were foreigners, —
good enough in our way, no doubt, but foreigners for
Meanwhile we are getting out of Polpis, as best we
can, along a very sandy road between fences which
hold us remorselessly to our dusty appointed way.
We pass the really tine farm of Mr. Sandford, who
lives in Nantucket town but delights to bring his
friends out here and show them what fine cattle and
sheep and corn and hay he manages so well to raise
on the sterile island.
But again we are out on the moors, into the firm
hard ruts, or driving where we will where no wheel
has rolled before us, beyond the fences and all signs
of human ownership, in the midst of Nature's un-
vexed domain, and among the vales and on the
rounded ridges of " Saul's Hills." . These afford us
points of observation where we see views which in
the golden light of the late afternoon are exquisitely
charming and dreamily beautiful. The tender haze
of a lovely hour is over all — a bridal veil that beauti-
fies every feature. The island is treeless except as to
the scrubby jack-pines planted in some parts to induce
the growth of other varieties of trees ; and the bare
brown hills and broad level expanses in this light wear a
rich and rare strangeness. Sankaty Light-House lifts
its friendly and comforting face seaward, while on the
other hand " the town " with its spires and white
houses half encircling the harbor remind us of human
life as a dream. Close at hand, all around us, are
silence and absence of man and all his works, a soli-
tude set in the eternal hills, absence of all traces of
man, too, except here and there the winding path
where others have wandered at their own sweet will
like ourselves this summer's day. The descending
sun is clothing the hills with a deeper purple and
sending darker shades into the valleys.
Such wonderful lichens, such beautiful golden-rod
such strange grasses, such a variety of rare and
luxuriant mosses, such creej)ing vines, as we gathered,
were never seen by any of us on " the continent " ou
a country holiday. •
" Oh, do please get that strange flower for me ! " —
" I must have that lichen for our little parlor ; did
you ever see anything so exquisite !" — " There is a
moss more beautiful than any flower !" — "If you will
be such a good man as to gather a bunch of that grass
ON THE MOORS. 85
for me, — it will arrange so prettily !" These were
the continued appeals of the ladies.
They were not made in vain. I was in the spirit
then as much as ever St. John was. I suppose I bounded
out of that box-cart twenty times in pursuit of
treasures of this sort and climbed laboriously back
again, piling the capacious wagon full of the spoils.
But we came at length upon such a store-house of
these riches that the whole party, moved by a common
impulse, descended from the ark, and then the s]3oli-
ation began in earnest ! The mild-tempered beast
browsed contentedly along behind us ; while we went
from one lichen bed to another, or revelled in mosses
fed to luxuriance on the damp sea-breezes, or — with
more humble taste but hardly less appreciation —
plucked luscious huckleberries by the handful.
It was delightful to the senses and surpassingly
restful, too, to lie on the clean dry beds of grasses
and the velvety mosses, among the heather, and look
long and deeply into the calm blue sky, into depth
nftcr depth, until the mind took up the wondrous
vision, where the eye grew weary, and saw unutter-
able things beyond, — looking, too, off upon the in-
creasing purple of the hills, — and to feel that for once
'86 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
to the tired body and weary spirit had come rest and
rjeace immeasurable, a calmness beyond all expres-
sion, and the welling sense of some strange beauty in
this lonely place, such as even meadows and parks and
fountains and murmuring streams flowing between
embowered banks could never give.
But already half the disk of the great round orb of
day is below the horizon ; and again making the
perilous ascent into our ancient vehicle we proceed
homeward by devious ways, along paths which lead
us sometimes quite astray. All ways, however, lead
to the broad highway, with its many ruts, from Nan-
tucket to 'Sconset. Once in that we are safe, dark as
it now is ; and in due time the friendly lanterns over
the gates, swaying in the light evening breeze, wave
us gentle welcomes, and we reach our cottage door.
The " squantum " and the wanderings over the
moors, this summer's day, will never be forgotten by
us. And all ye who would possess one fresh memory
■of unaccustomed enjoyment of Nature in a rare mood,
fail not at your peril to go and do likewise, if ever
vou are a cottager at 'Sconset !
A DAY IN "NANTUCKET TOWN."
'Si GAIN chartering Folger's box-cart and lazy
rfr beast, one tine day live of us from our cottage
drove over to Nantucket town.
And what a town ! Not very large, indeed — once
having a population of ten thousand souls, now only
about three thousand ; quaint, a choice bit of an-
tiquity as antiquity goes in this country : seated like
an empress on her throne upon the rising shore and
encircling bluffs, and looking out on the peaceful
harbor and beyond on the restless sea; historic in
respect to a great industry, now as dead as the issues
of the late ki unpleasantness ; " the nursery of noted
men and high-bred women ; and, although in deca-
dence as a seaport, Coming to renown and a new pre-
eminence as a summer resort which once visited is
visited again and always remembered with delight
and affectionate longing
88 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
The harbor still invites the great ships ; but only
the summer pleasure-steamers and the swift-flying
yachts and the busy row-boats vex its waters. The
wharves are ample to receive the oily freights of
many whalers, as in the good old days, if only their
ghosts would rehabilitate themselves in oaken hulls
and spread again the many-sheeted canvas ; but they
are nearly all vacant now.
They point out to you the old Captains' Club
House, down among the tall ware-houses, where the
sea captains used to come together and spin their
yarns and smoke their pipes and plan new ventures
on the seas. The captains have pretty nearly all
gone on their last voyage, never to return. The few
that remain are mainly too old to hobble down to the
Club ; and while the sturdy brick building stands
against wind and weather and the ample arm-chairs
invite to social chat and smoke, its original use is fast
becoming a memory.
There are various fine buildings that surprise one in
this remote place, and tell of the past importance of
the town. It has its Athenaeum, full of curiosities
and treasures pertaining to sea life and enterprise ;
containing also a public library that is an honor to
A DAT IN "NANTUCKET TOWN." 89
any town. Its Academy, — "the Coffin School" — in-
corporated eighty years ago, answers the question
every intelligent visitor asks himself, " Where do
these insular people get such culture as they exhibit
in wise speech and in refined, high bred manners?"
Its churches, excellent hotels, and occasional charming
private residences attract your attention. Indeed,
the town, although old, with grass growing around
" the cobbles " in the streets, with the signs of age
everywhere and the weather-beaten hue in its be-
wrinkled face, is as far from commonplace as the
gourd-like Cottage City on the neighboring island.
Nobody seems to be in a hurry in Nantucket —
except, perhaps, the teller of the bank where I went
at noon to get a draft cashed. He wanted very much
to go to dinner— and he went, not to open the
institution again that day. A faithful servant, as he
is, of the " soulless corporation " he represents, he
wanted me to find some one to identify me, but
warningly informed me that unless I returned within
three minutes I must wait for my money until the
next day — the bank would be shut until the morning.
I chose rather to tarry the three minutes and dilate to
him upon the absurdity of an intelligent Nantucketer
90 5 SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
closing his bank at noon to go to dinner and then to
sleep until the next morning. He answered me well
enough, and politely, too, that there wasn't enough to
do to keep the bank open more than two or three
liours a day.
That is typical of Nantucket on its business side —
Oriental, you will say, viewing it in a theoretical way
and in the light of sentiment, with no draft to cash ;
but I called it by another name, — scolded, in fact, and
went off and paid my wife's grocery bill, got my draft
cashed in that way, and shunned that bank entirely.
They have a town-crier or two in Nantucket, a relic
of the past, who rings a bell and hoarsely bawls out
the news, announces a lecture or a •' show " in a hob-
ble-gobble dialect which may be Choctaw for all I
know, or blows a horn to announce that the steamer
is in sight. He is only valuable and endurable as a
relic, however, the embodiment of an ancient custom
— otherwise he is very much a humbug and a
The bathing-houses on the harbor and on the shore
of the sea outside, all of which we visited, are points
of attraction all day long. They are admirable and
unusually good in all their appointments. Large
A DAY IN "NANTUCKET TOWN. 91
numbers of people bathe and larger numbers gather
there socially and sit in the covered pavilion and loot
on. and gaze at the ocean. That never wearies, what-
ever conversation may do. It is a popular drive,
also, to the seaside bathing resorts. There is no surf-
bathing, and to us. right from 'Sconset, it seemed a
very tame matter to wade and swim in the quiet
water, with no respectable emotion of possible danger
to stimulate. But still-bathing has its advantages,
and is very agreeable, notwithstanding its tameness.
Nut its least advantage is that by means of it many
"here learn to swim, and so graduate to that higher in-
stitution, the surf-bath, and the fearless plunge into
From the bath-houses we drove up a steep hill to
the cliff, north-west of the town, where are several
delightful cottages overlooking a broad and mag-
nificent expanse of ocean. At one of these, the sum-
mer residence of a Cincinnati gentleman and his
family, we were most hospitably entertained, and
shown cottage life as it exists at Xantucket ; and
vastly different from the life at 'Sconset it is. This
cottage is an ample summer home, simply fur-
nished, and yet abounding in pictures, books, and
92 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
bits of decoration that give it an air of luxury
and refinement. But from the ample verandah facing
the sea, the view, as considered from the great easy-
chairs, is too fine and grand to permit one to remain
long indoors. From this elevated position the study
of the waves is very interesting, and the swift yachts
and great sea-going vessels in the distance make the
picture full of action.
The occupants of the cottage take their daily bath
in the sea before their door. The descent to it is long
and steep ; and the gentleman of the house gave us a
most animated description of the miscellaneous man-
ner in which the whole household every morning
rolled and tumbled down the sandy cliff to the beach,
and afterward — hie labor hoc opus est — climbed up
again by long successive stair-ways planted in the
face of the bank.
On our drive to town again, we passed the fine large
cottage of the artist, Eastman Johnson, who doubtless
was then painting his picture, " The Nantucket Sea-
We went industriously about the town, visiting
various resorts of special interest ; — and first, the
Athenaeum, which contains the Library and Museum y
where they serve you up whales' jaws, teeth aud so
on, and harpoons, — indeed every interesting thing
appertaining to whaling enterprises, except a wreck
or a man overboard, — besides the usual dusty and
musty antiquities that give a ghostly sanctity to
museums, the dead-houses of the past. Then we all
and severally inscribed our names and temporary
abodes in the " Visitors' Book " at Mr. Godfrey's
news-room, where everybody goes to learn where
Nantucket abounds in old crockery and antique
furniture, both rich and fine in their day and now es-
teemed greatly valuable because old. I suppose more
ancient crockery has gone out of the plain old homes
of Nantucket into fine houses in the cities of "the
continent" than from any other town of its size in
the country. They will tell you that Miss So-and-So,
or Mrs. This-and-That — stately, dignified dames who
have seen better days and whom the receding tides of
commercial prosperity left aground, — are willing to
paut with treasures of this sort.
We went to see. The first room we entered was
full of odd old crockery, ( was it all old '( ) bright
and clean, and labelled with the amount of the con-
94 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
sideration the payment of which would enable you to
bear off the prizes. The ladies of my party wanted
to purchase pretty much everything and were,
after all, restrained in their enthusiasm only by the
masculine veto. I felt my own weakness, I
admit, when we entered the sombre-fronted old
mansion where we found the antique furniture. There
were tables, writing-desks, bureaus, bedsteads, stands,
fire-place furniture and hosts of other things that quite
captivated me, — but my own great good sense and in-
timate knowledge of the personal exchequer enabled
me here also to resist temptation.
There are homes, however, in serious old Nantucket,,
where remain still the wealth, culture and high-bred
men and women of the former days ; but we, alas ! are
strangers and pilgrims and may not enter. We must,
forsooth, content ourselves with these glimpses within
the doors which have opened to us and other pilgrims
at the stern knock of necessity.
A day in town is not complete, by any means,
without a sail. This day happened to be most pro-
pitious, — a bright clear sky, a good breeze stirring,
and a temperature that no manner of amending could
have improved. So we went down en masse to the
A DAY IN "NANTUCKET TOWN. 05
wharf, engaged the little yacht " Ellouise " com-
manded by young Captain Adams, and were soon
sailing about the harbor — itself a long, capacious in-
land sea separated from the ocean by a narrow strip
of sandy beach — and then right out around Brant
Point and over the bar to sea ! How we danced and
rocked over the waves, and sped along with the wind !
Is there anything in life more delicious than sailing !
And this is the daily delight of the summer sojourner
at Nantucket. Those who linger in town say to the
" Ah, you miss the sailing ! How can you
enjoy life by the sea without the daily sail ? See
all these pretty yachts, waiting for you, each with its
faithful captain who will take you in safety through
any storm. — with this stretch of inland sea all the way
to Wauwinet for rough weather, and the whole
Atlantic for fair weather ! This is what makes us
The 'Sconset dweller is forced to admit all the
attractions claimed, but plucks up courage and says, —
" But you haven't surf -bathing here, — you haven't
our simple and quiet life, — you don't hear the roaring
on the beach when you lie down to sleep and when
96 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
you wake, — yon are in town, and that is what yon left
home to escape. The moors are out of sight ; so are
Sankaty Head on the one hand, and Tom JSever's
Head on the other. You don't get, here, the grand
sweep of the ocean, and the sunrise and moonrise out
of the waves ; and the mad leaping and fierce fighting
of the tides and waves on 'the rips' you. never see
Since you cannot have both you choose one, each
for himself, and therewith, happily ,^are content.
It is only honest to let the dweller in Nantucket
have the last word and say, as he does, —
" 'Sconset % Certainly, — we make that one of the
points to drive to. We look at your surf and
perhaps take a plunge ; peep into your cottages and dine
with you ; and bring away the cream of your life
there. We sometimes drive over to the South Shore,
too, through the avenue of pines. There is the surf
for you, when the south wind blows ! That is the
favorite drive of those delightful young lunatics — the
lovers. They say the evening breezes whisper very
pretty things among the pines. Then, too, when we
are cheerful enough for it, we visit the old cemetery.
Some of the patriarchs are there. Besides, near the
the town there is such success in agriculture that one
mav see green fields and waving harvests without
cultivating his dreams to that end or going to the
main-land for the vision. Indeed, why should one
live at the very edge of creation when he can live
centrally and take a peep over the brink whenever he
chooses ! "
When we returned to our hotel, the dear old
College Professor, of Christian mould and spirit but
Hellenic culture, grave as an oyster on the outside
but like a peach inside for sweetness and richness —
to say nothing of his rare, juicy humor — the Professor
had come in from some philosophical wandering. We
all knew him of old and rejoiced to meet him in his
vacation leisure. He entered heartily into my plan-
ning for a day of blue-fishing, and went to the wharf
to aid me in securing a place in some company that
might be going out on the morrow. He" knew every
captain and craft, and it was not his fault that I did
not succeed in securing the coveted opportunity.
However, this gave me an occasion to do the
Professor a favor that he never dreamed of. I
ordered out my horse and box-cart from the stable
near the wharf ; and, assisting the Professor to mount,
proudly drove him up through the town to the Sher-
burne House ! I cannot say that he regarded the
performance with entire equanimity ; for when I
sought to discern some merry twinkle in his eye, his
spectacles gave no sign. The Professor, however,
thought the cart might be something like that in
which Xausicaa and her maidens took the royal
washing down to the river ; but he did not certainly
know that he should have enjoyed a ride in that,
while this had given him, to say the least, one of the
most astonishing rides of his life. I did not precisely
know what he meant, for the Professor is very kind
hearted and polite, and never indulges in Carlylese.
It was a little later in the day than I intended it
should be when we set out on our return to 'Sconset.
The wind from the south shore was blowing gently,
and as night fell, a thick fog enveloped us, — a " fog-
rain," as they call it, came upon us, — and it became
cold and very dark. There was no reasonable chance
of losing our way. Indeed, the deep ruts of the
parallel roads in the broad highway to 'Sconset would
not permit us to deviate an inch from the direct
route, unless we should unluckily fall into a pair of
ruts switching off to Polpis, Quidnet or some other
NANTUCKET TOWN." 99'
hamlet. But we wondered what would happen if
we should meet some belated traveler who had usurped
or wandered into our particular pair of tracks, — or,
if the Folger beast should give out, — or, if the creak-
ing old box-cart should collapse a wheel, and no
human habitation between Xantucket and 'Sconset !
Of course, nothing did happen ; and we jogged
steadily on in the darkness, the south-west side of
us growing damper and damper until our incredulity
as to a "fog-rain" was utterly dispelled. At length
Sankaty beckoned to us through the fog, and then
the feeble lamps of 'Sconset did their finest to wel-
come the belated travelers, and we were again at
our cottage door.
[TO summer experience at 'Sconset is complete
without at least one " sharking " expedition.
It was indeed too typical an affair to be omitted by
one in pursuit, as I was, of all the sorts of knowl-
edge that could be picked up in this out-of-the-way
corner of the universe, this "land's-end" of America.
We made up a party of five men, — not finding it
convenient to take with us the courageous lady who
wanted to be in at the death of a shark and to have
a hand in the death herself. Driving over to
Quidnet we engaged Captain Alexander Bunker, a
rare old specimen of the ancient mariner, and a
crew of two men, to take us out to the sharking
grounds on the shoals. As a preliminary, we took
row-boats and on Sachacha Pond, in a short time,
caught about one hundred and fifty perch for bait.
The thirty-foot whale boat was launched through
the surf, — no easy task, — the sail hoisted, and we
moved gaily out under a smiling sun and a most
beneficent sky, # over gently swelling waves, to our
destination about a mile from shore. Two anchors
were put out so as to bring the boat broadside to
the tide. The men split the perch from the back
and thrust seven or eight upon each hook, and we
cast our lines overboard with the tide.
The tackle for shark-fishing is formidable, as be-
comes the use it is put to. The hook, made of one-
third inch wire, is nearly a foot long and four inches
across the bend ; and to it is attached three feet of strong
chain having a swivel, for a shark's teeth are sharp
and strong and when he is caught he is very uneasy
and erratic. To this chain is fastened three or four
feet of half-inch rope, into which is looped the small
hand-line much like a good, stout clothes-line, and two
or three hundred feet long.
The tide is an important element in the business,
for when it is running the fish are then feeding and
the lines sweep slowly away from the boat in search
of a victim. The hook is lowered to within a foot of
the bottom, here about thirty feet below ; and as the
tide carries the bait gently along, the fisherman pays
102 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
out line and patiently waits. There is busy life down
in the sea-green waters, and denizens of the deep that
you little dream of, — all sorts of fish, indeed, but each
variety demanding a somewhat different inducement
to put in an appearance at the surface. We are after
sharks, however, and while we wait the Captain tells
us what to expect.
" The shark," says he, " is a very gentle fellow to
bite, considerin' what a row of teeth he's got, and
what an ugly brute he is when he has once got a hold.
He gives the bait a little nudge with his nose, just to
see what it's made of, and when he's concluded it'll
answer his turn he just flops over and takes it into his
mouth as delicately as you please. You don't want
to pull just yet, or you'll only jerk the bait away.
Just let your line out a little and wait a bit until he's
started to swallow it. You can tell ; there'll be a
sort o' tug on the line, not very heavy, though. Then
throw yourself back, and pull like blazes ! "
Meanw»hile, H. had dropped a small hook and line
over the boat's side for " place-fish." At this instant
he sprang from his seat and began pulling in, hand
over hand, something particularly lively. It proved
to be a " baby blue-dog," two or three feet long.
" A-SHARKING." 103
" First blood ! " .-hunted II.. as the rakish and vic-
ious little shark was drawn into the boat and dis-
patched ; "and where this came from I'm sure there's
game of a bigger sort/'
Suddenly, D., in the stern, began tugging with all
his might, the line slipping through his hands and he
Catherine: it in again by main force and slowly gain-
insr. We were all about as excited as he was. for this
capture was evidently no " baby shark." When the
fish came within sight of the boat his whole aspect
changed from that of a swaggering, half good natured
bully, to one of rage and fear. He threshed and
floundered and pounded the water into a foam with
his powerful tail, and shook his head fiercely to dis-
lodge the stinging hook. One or two men grasped
the large rope when it came within reach, the chain
rattled over the boat's side, the nose of his sharkship
was brought snug up to the gunwale, and then one of
the crew, standing ready with a stout billy, gave the
nose a dozen whacking blows, while gradually the
swashing and gigantic writhings, and the foaming of
the water subsided. The shark, of the variety known
as the "sand-shark, 1 ' was dead, and was speedily
drawn into the boat. This fellow was eight feet long,
104 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
estimated weight, four hundred pounds. It was an
exceedingly exciting piece of work to take him, —
" but,' 1 the captain said, " wait till you catch a ' blue-
dog ' if you want to see fun alive."
Hardly had we done looking at the revolting
creature, quiet enough now, when I, at my end of
the boat, with seventy-live feet of line out, felt the
" poke," the "nibble," the " tug " that I had
been anxiously waiting for. Cautiously giving out
a little more line, I waited two or three seconds
and then surged heavily back and pulled with all
my might. The hook was fast — there was no mis-
take about that ! The ugly creature at the other
end of the line pulled, jerked, ran hither and yon
and counter to my wishes in every possible way.
He pulled — I pulled. As the line slipped through
my hands, in great excitement and with no breath to
spare, I shouted, " Boys — here's business ! "
Just then some one got a glimpse of the form of
the fish as it appeared at the surface some distance
away. He startled the whole party by exclaiming,
"Its a blue-dog! — a regular 'man-eater!'" Three
men clambered hastily to my assistance, for the "blue-
dog" is more than a match for one man's strength,
and is very ugly at close quarters. ' We all pulled our
best until the outlines of the thoroughly aroused shark
appeared in the green water near the boat. Then
followed a fishing " controversy " that cannot very
well be reported as it deserves, and as exciting to us
landsmen, I imagine, as the capture of a whale is to
the old whaleman. As we drew the shark's head to
the surface, his jaws distended and armed with the
gleaming white fangs, sharp, deadly and devilish, the
vicious eye full of anger, he lashed and beat the water
with his powerful body and tail as an immensely exag-
gerated trout might have done, — rolling over and
over like a propeller wheel, and sending the air bub-
bles of the foam several feet down into the water. It
seemed for a few minutes as if we never should subdue
the ugly brute. Our strength was tested to the
utmost, although we drew the stout chain across the
gunwale in such a manner as to secure a great advan-
tage. At length, however, we had the nose snug up
to the boat's rail.
" Ease off ! Ease off ! He'll be in the boat in a
minute more ! " shouted the Captain, — " then some-
body '11 have to get out ! "
We " eased off " in a hurry — the suggestion of such
company, and " overboard," stimulating us to prompt
" Get the lance ! " shouted another. Indeed, pretty
nearly everybody was shouting by this time, —
especially those who were not red in the face and
lame in the back with pulling on this forty-horse-
power villain just now busy trying to punch a hole
through the boat's side.
No pounding on the nose suffices to extinguish the
vigorous life or stun the nerves of the diabolical blue-
dog. The lance, and a desperate plunge of its steel
into the very heart, is an indispensable part of the
business when he is brought up for execution. It re-
quires a quick, strong hand, a steady nerve and not a
little skill, to strike such an active and fierce monster,
in the midst of his terrible writhings. But at the op-
portune instant, the shining steel is placed at the gash-
like gills and thrust in, eighteen good inches deep,
right down into the vitals, — and withdrawn as quickly,
for the stung and wounded creature makes a terrible
dash against the boat, and rolls over and over in the
water with tremendous energy. Again and again the
lance seeks the vulnerable opening, and is plunged in
as before. Now the General seizes a big knife, and
despite the Captain's warning, leans over the boat's
side and plunges the blade in, half a dozen times, to
the hilt. The blood crimsons this liquid battle-field,
and the tide sweeps it along over a large surface.
The struggles of the exhausted fish grow less and less,
and finally cease.
" Tie him out, awhile," says the Captain ; " it won't
do to take him in yet. I've known 'em to come to,
in the boat, half an hour after they seemed to be dead ;
and they make ugly work."
So my blue-dog, seven feet long as he afterward
measured, was " tied out," with his nose close to the
boat, until he should surely be dead. But he was
dead enough — he never "came to." He had been
stabbed to death as surely as ever Caesar was.
I confess (with a little twinge) that I was never
more excited with any sport (!) in my life than with
this, my first caj^ture of a shark, and a veritable man-
eater at that. There was hard work enough on our
part, and a wonderful display of power on his. It
seemed as if our boat must go to pieces in the fight ;
and there was a spice of danger in the whole beastly
business that made one's nerves tingle.
Before I had my first " nibble," I had been quietly
108 SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
considering whether I shouldn't be sea-sick, — and the
more I considered the possibility of the humiliating
and inconvenient experience,the more surely I thought
I detected the preliminary symptoms of the malady.
But the " nibble " cured me instantly, and I was as
thoroughly seaworthy the rest of the day as any old
whaleman after a four years' voyage.
We continued fishing two or three hours, until the
tide ran so strong as to carry our heavy hooks and
tackle hundreds of feet away and lift them to the
surface far above the sharks we were after. It was
not due to my skill, they said, but to my good luck
that I captured the two blue-dogs of the day, and a
pair of sand-sharks ; — four of the ten sharks taken
(not counting " the baby ; ") — and they uttered some
ungracious things, in a spirit of jealousy, about my
profession, — something about " kindred ties," " nat-
ural sympathy," " congenial tastes," and such like,
wholly inappropriate things. I only retorted that if I
could have my good friends on the witness' stand
sometime, for half an hour, under cross examination,
I'd teach them a sounder discretion and a higher
respect for the " profession."
We had a good boat load of useless fish, and had
performed our part of the duty of clearing the seas of
these pirates. Considerations of duty, however, were
an after-thought. I remember that when the murder-
ous business was over, and having hoisted anchors we
were sailing for shore, the question was raised by some
uneasy moralist of our number as to the " what good?"
of our bloody sport ; and another uneasy moralist
of our number soothed the general conscience by
answering, " Pro bono publico have we done this !
The whole sea-faring and sea-bathing world is bene-
fitted by our sanguinary — not to say piscatory —
exploits to day." And this is the only apology I can
offer for a sharking expedition.
We were taken off and through the surf in a dory,
after which we watched the operation of towing the
dead sharks ashore, and drawing them up on the beach
with a horse, and placing them in a row, side by side,
a horrible lot of corpses !
The sharks were cut open in our presence and the
livers extracted, which contain a valuable oil. The
stomachs — the interior department of a shark is pretty
much all gullet and stomach — were distended and
full of water, or water and fish in different stages of
digestion. I imagined the water went down their
throats while we were hauling them in. I can't con-
ceive how even a shark, in a normal condition, should
really want so much cold water in his stomach — it is
carrying a good principle a little too far.
At the Captain's house we had a fish-chowder for
our late dinner, lounged about the three or four houses
which constitute " the town," and drove home in the
The shark-hook and appurtenances that I secured
and brought away, and the shark's jaws that I
negotiated for and afterward received, (presumably
the same I caught,) are hanging on the wall just above
the back of my arm-chair in my " private den," as I
write. I look at the formidable hook, and the sharp
fangs, and am vividly reminded of the details of that
day " a-sharking."
>LUE-FISHING is not at its best in August ; and
the angler, always in need of the philosophy
which hopeth all things and endureth all things,
should gird himself about with three-fold patience when
he goes for blue-fish in that month. The penny may
fall, heads up or tails up, win or lose. But the sail itself,
even if no fish are caught, is a pleasurable
experience not likely to be counted a disappoint-
ment, especially when a congenial company unites
to make a day of it. With a fine breeze and
a good-natured sky, and a halo of philosophy
about you, head* are sure to come uppermost and you
win, wag the piscatory tails at you ever so jocosely
and defiantly down in the blue depths.
If you would catch blue-fish to your heart's content,
go for them in June, — a piece of advice not likely to
be serenely received by those who must wait until
August for their annual vacation. In the leafy month,
the fish roam over these shoals in great schools, as
hungry and predaceous as so many sharks. You may
satisfy your bloodiest and most avaricious instincts as a
fisherman ; but after such a debauch of angling you will
never dare to read the pages of the gentle Izaak
Walton until you have washed your hands and your
heart of such wholesale slaughter.
Perhaps it was better, therefore, that it was my lot
to go a-blue-fishing in August, when we must hope
much and fish a little. At all events, we drove over
to town with delightful anticipations, resolved to be
content with whatever might happen, and drove back
again at night bringing a great basketful of the finest
fish, — the least part, after all, of what we brought.
It was to young Captain Adams and his pretty
yacht, " Ellouise," that we entrusted ourselves.
Breeze and sky were all in excellent humor, as well as
we. Two courses were open to us,— to the waters
around Tuckernuck, westerly,and the shoals off Great
Point, northwesterly. There is little choice between
the two, we were told, and the direction of the wind
generally settles the question, that course being taken
which will afford the best wind for an easy return.
To be sure, the wind may change during the clay, as
it did with us, and then your wisdom goes for nought.
Fate and wind took us to Great Point. We went
bounding over the graceful' billows of the great bay
which the bending shore of the island makes, looking
carefully for the smooth, oily surfaces of water,
called by the fishermen, " slicks," which indicate that
a school of blue-fish are feeding below. Authorities
differ as to the cause of the " slick," the fishermen
generally maintaining that the blue-fish have the
power of exuding or ejecting, or do in some way give
off, an oily fluid, while feeding, which rises to the
surface and makes the water smooth. Just why such
a robust and voracious feeder needs smooth water or
cares for it, while taking his dinner, the wise fisher-
man does not attempt to explain.
We who knew nothing about it, and were therefore
all the more ready to give an opinion, without the
slightest hesitation decided that it is^more probable
that when a blue-fish chops up his victims in his
blood-thirsty way, some of the fat of the slain fish
rises to the surface — hence the " slick." We held
firmly to the opinion because nobody present could
disprove it ; but the Captain's incredulity was as stub-
born as our faith.
Meanwhile, the Captain's nautical eye was wander-
ing all over the bay. " A slick yonder ! " said he
quickly, at the same time pointing at something that
I could not possibly distinguish. Turning the course
of the yacht, he ran us near it. The surface of the
large waves all around us was broken into wrinkles
by the wind — little waves running and climbing over
the backs of the big ones, like so many playful kittens
over the back of their dignified mother — but where
the " slick " appeared there were no wrinkles. That
was all there was of the phenomenon which we had
so ably discussed.
The lines were got ready, — a good strong cord that
would hold a twenty-pound fish, but small enough to
cut one's fingers if much sharp pulling is to be done.
The hook, an inch and a quarter across the bend, and
the long piece of lead above it covered with an eel-
skin, made baiting and catching apparatus. The Cap-
tain called it a "drail." As we turned into the wind
and came to a dead stop near the oily surface, the
General began to " heave and haul," our Sportsman
of the heavy bass-rod and reel and pearl squid made
vigorous casts and reeled in, again and again, but
there was no response. The " slick " was as
barren as a rock, or — a suggestion that no one dared
to make in that presence — the heaving and the cast-
ing, the hauling and the reeling, were not well done.
By general consent, however, we voted the thing a
delusion, possibly a premeditated snare on the part of
the fish, and bent our course again directly to Great
Here the tide and waves were running fiercely over
the shoals and making very rough water. The Cap-
tain, however, turned the bow of our staunch little
craft right into the most tumultuous waves, and we
plunged about in a frightful fashion.
Xi Out with your lines ! " said he ; " here's where
you'll get blue-fish if anywhere."
We obeyed, and the heavy " drail " skipped and
flashed through the crests of the waves sixty or
seventy feet away, while we speedily forgot how
rough the water was. Our Sportsman, who had
fished for about everything that swims, from one end
of the continent to the other, but had never taken a
blue-fish on a rod, now sent the pearl squid spinning
out thirty or forty feet and reeled off a hundred feet
"Ha! there's a break!' 1 sang out the Captain.
And sure enough, — as the fortunate man found whose
line was taut in an instant. We were going like mad
through the roughest water, and a splendid fish had
taken the hook. Hand over hand the lucky man
pulled, the fish running from side to side and occa-
sionally leaping right out of a wave and shaking the
hook as a terrier does a rat. Brought to the boat's
side, he was unceremoniously flopped in, as full of
fight as ever ; the Captain, thrusting the helm under
his arm, twisted the hook from the savage mouth and
threw him into the tub.
" An eight-pounder," says the Captain, as he tosses
the " drail " into the water and the line runs over the
stern of the boat.
Having crossed the shoal, we put about and plunged
into " the rips " again. Then my turn came — the
heavy strike, the leap and rush at the other end of
the line, while at my end I felt the thrill and
excitement incident to the novel and exhilarating ex-
perience of the first " strike " of a blue-fish. It was
fine ; something like, but much more savage than the
strike of a black bass. The strength and activity of
the creature seemed to be animated and intensified by
an angry intelligence quite becoming in this blood-
thirsty marauder of the seas. How the line cut
through the water, from side to side ! How it cut
through my fingers, too, as the ugly fellow now and
then recovered some of the line ! We were under
swift head-way in a most uneasy and badly broken up
part of " the rips," and I was plunging about the boat,
trying to maintain my equilibrium and foot-hold, and
at the same time to do my part of the pulling. But
finally I had him near enough to see every motion
and, in a most hurried fashion, to study his tactics. I
had pretty nearly tired him out, but he was ugly to
the last and fought it out with me most gallantly until
Captain Adams flopped him ignominiously in, and sent
him to the tub witli his brothers, the noblest of them
all. At the wharf that night he weighed ten pounds,
a goodly fish for these waters in August.
Our friend of the fine tackle,despite frequent entan-
glements with sail and cordage, spun and reeled
faithfully, and at length successfully. The capture of
a blue-fish with rod and reel is something well worth
seeing. The Captain was sure that it would be a
failure — that the rod would be converted into kin-
dling wood in less than a minute. But the Sportsman
was an artist in angling, scientific to his finger-tips,
and as modest as he was brave. He quietly " thought"
he could manage a fish if he should strike one. And
he did, most magnificently. It was not a contest of
" pull," but a skillful application of all the nice prin-
ciples involved in trout-fishing with a six-ounce rod,
with the disadvantages of a stiff rod and a rapid sail.
There were splendid rushes, making the reel whiz, and
leaps three feet or more into the air, and a prolonged
struggle which we all watched with great interest and
with misgivings as to which would be the victor, the
plucky sportsman or the equally plucky fish. The
Sportsman won — the fish went to the tub.
We had much more of this sport, all around,
fortune distributing her favors with but little partiality.
In the midst of it, however, the primal instinct awoke
within us, and we ran into smooth water under the lee
of Great Point, and lunched. The only memorable
thing about that feature of the day is that we ate
lobster inordinately — enough to kill a landsman, I
think — and live to tell the tale. It speaks well for
BLUE-FISH LNG. 119
the Nantucket lobster, and it is not solely for his
benefit that I commend and commemorate his virtues.
Resuming active duty, back and forth across the
shoal we sailed, capturing fish at nearly every bout,
and achieving success to such a degree that our sport
was degenerating into hard work, — until it finally
occurred to the Captain, as the coolest observer on
board, that the wind had veered around and become
particularly fresh. It was a good ten miles to port by
air-line ; but, to reach it by the zigzag route made
necessary by a dead-ahead wind, there was no estimat-
ing the distance we must sail. Hauling in our lines, we
shaped our course for the harbor.
How we did scud away, right out to sea ! I was
almost convinced that the Captain had mutinied,
stolen the ship, and was running away with us, when
— 'bout ship ! and we drove straight for shore. Ah !
that was a lucky thought of the Captain's ! In two
seconds more, we should have plunged right into the
beach, — but he shifted sail and we set out for Wood's
Holl or the North Pole again. It was getting to be
pretty rough work for our little craft, out on the
broad water, and we shipped a sea or two that excited
one landsman more than his ten-pound blue-fish did.
120 'SCONSET COTTAGE LITE.
The Captain himself did not talk any more, and gave
strict attention to business, besides invoking the aid of
the General who is something of a sailor. When we
made our final tack, away out at sea, with the ocean
quite in a rage, and pointed straight for harbor, there
was general satisfaction, although we were now being
buffeted about worse than ever.
But of course we made port in safety, — everybody
does who goes blue-fishing with a Nantucket Captain.
Indeed, it is just to say that the sailors of the Island
bear the very highest reputation for good judgment,
skill and honesty ; and that a mishap to a pleasure
party under their care is almost an unheard of thing.
It was natural to do so, and I mentally made com-
parisons, even in the midst of the excitements of the
day. Blue-fishing, I concluded, is most exhilarating
sport, — sailing under a sunny sky and over bounding
billows, — capturing as gamey a fish as swims, — the
salt sea-air filling one with new vigor and keen physi-
cal enjoyment. But is it the highest type of piscatory
sport ? Is it equal to fighting a two-pound trout with
light rod and fine tackle ? No ! I said so at the end
of that delightful day, — said it even right after I had
captured my first blue-fish, — and I have not changed
my opinion. But then, it is one of the most enjoy-
able tilings of a sea-shore resort, and well worth doing.
Blue-fishing is black bass-fishing, jjlus the sailing
and the increased size of the fish, but minus the rod
and reel, the " play " of the captive, the feeling that
you are giving him a fair chance for his life, — minus,
indeed, all skill.
The return of the yachts, as they /came sailing home
from their various excursions, and swept gracefully
around Brant Point, out of the rough water of the
open sea into the smooth harbor, — the light of the
setting sun shining and smiling on all their white
sails, — was a most pretty sight. Many of them came
from various fishing-grounds where they had spent
the day with varied success. Our own tub com-
pared well with theirs ; but no party was as successful
as those who were out a day or two before, when the
water was very rough. A good, stiff breeze, which
" makes everything hum," seems to inspire the fish
with a desire to snap and bite at everything within
their reach, even the shabby deceit of a u drail."
fED had written to me, long before I came on,
for my Adirondack camp-stove and " lots of tar-
oil," — for lie and " the Barnnm boys " and Will Jones
were going a-camping on the island. When he was
gathering up his treasures at home for the summer's
enjoyment, he took the precaution to pack away, in the
bottom of one of those great mysterious trunks that
accompanied the family, a water-proofed cotton "A"
tent ; but the tar-oil had hardly been dreamed of as
requisite for the sea-shore, where the tuneful mosquito
was not supposed to abound.
Indulgent father that I am, I sent the articles writ-
ten for. The boys delayed their camping, however,
until some days after my arrival, so as to initiate me
into a full knowledge of all the wonderful things and
places now grown familiar to them.
THE BOYS A-CAMPTNG. WAUWINET. 123
There were great preparations for several days ;
and four boys found it highly important to make a
journey to town to lay in stores and procure camp
luxuries, without which the hardships of tent-life
would eclipse all the fun. Then an old horse and cart
were engaged and the entire outfit was transported to
the selected camp-ground seven or eight miles distant,
at the head of the harbor, near Coskata Pond, on the
At four o'clock the next morning, there was a mys-
terious tapping at our window which wakened me.
Xed had been up for an hour, had dressed in his gray
woolen shirt, (the blue one had been devoted to the
eels, you may remember,) and hunter's clothes, break-
fasted, and was ready to answer the call of his young
companions. Slinging on his game-bag, filling his
pockets with loaded shells and shouldering his gun, he
marched forth, a proud and happy lad. The four boys
went down to the beach, and in the darkness launched
the dory through the surf ; and, taking advantage at
this uncanny hour of the tide running strongly north-
ward, coasted down several miles to the "haul- over,"
— a narrow strip of beach between the ocean and the
harbor, — made a landing through the surf, drew the
dory over the sand into the quiet waters on the other
side, and after a mile more of rowing were at the foot
of the cliff on which they were to camp.
I thought it was a plucky thing for these lads to
do, and admired their spirit. But if these " athletes "
and my Ned had not all been good swimmers and
skillful at the oar, I think, instead of turning over
for my morning nap, as I did after the hubbub of
their departure from our cottage was over, I should
at least have gone down to the beach to see them
off, or to "gather them in" if the dory had been
swamped. After all, if you let a boy clo dangerous
things, but teach him at the same time what are
the dangers and how to meet them, you may
generally trust him to come right side up, even in
the difficult matter of launching and beaching a
dory in the dark.
Not many days after, an importunate appeal came
from camp, by some stray messenger, for " more
bread ! " There had been enormous bakings, extrava-
gant purchases of nearly every edible thing found on
the island ; and the lads, besides, were having fine
luck with the plover, and now and then (I grieve to
say) unlawfully shot a duck, — while in the Harbor
THE COYS A-CAMPING. WAIWIXET. 125
they caught blue-fish, unci on the beach at Pocomo
dug long-necked clams. A growing boy — four of
him in this case — has a wonderful courage for enjoy-
ment, and an appetite, in the open air, which is truly
formidable and dangerous to trine with. Kothing
appals him but work that has no fun in it — and hun-
ger. Hence the gay and happy night passage on the
dark and gloomy sea, while the resounding surf along
the coast was uttering muttered threats in their young
ears ; hence, also, the urgent cry for " more bread ! "
Wauwinet is a locally famous resort right on the
Head of the Harbor, with the ocean a few steps away
on the other side ; while, at what might be called the
" Foot of the Harbor," is Xantucket town. A " shore-
dinner," made up of all the obtainable sea-food of the
season, served up in every possible form, at the rustic
summer hotel at this point, is the avowed aim and
object of an excursion to Wauwinet. So do we apol-
ogize, even to ourselves, for vagabondizing ; as if, on v
a summer vacation, one might not, with entire pro-
priety, go here and there without any object ! Why
should we, at 'Sconset, beg pardon for our indolence,
explain our appetite, render a reason for a delightful
drive over the moors, and point to clam-chowder,
126 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
clams roasted, clams fried, clam-fritters, and all that,
as the final cause of a day at Wauwinet ? It is the
effect of our worse than four hundred years of Egyp-
tian bondage. Oh, for a reformation in the public
sentiment which ranks a happy, lazy, good-for-nothing
vagabond who takes life easy and doesn't apologize,
as no better than a criminal ! Vive le vagabond — at
The hungry boys, however, quite as much as the
shore-dinner, drew us to "Wauwinet. Jane baked
the bread, Mrs. Jones made heaps of biscuits and
molasses cookies, and the vegetable man ransacked
his garden for its best. It was to be a gala-day
for us, and our good feeling enured to the benefit
of the lads in camp who, without knowing it, were
already basking in the sun-light of our anticipated
happiness. We were not the first who have done
kindness to their fellowmen because their own stom-
achs were full and their hearts happy — rendering to
others the overplus of happiness which they could not
There were three cart-loads of us, — my entire
family, baby and nurse included, in one load, four
ladies in another, and our friends, the robust parson
THE BOYS A-CAMPING. — WATJWINET. 127
and his family, in the third — as cheerful a party on
this occasion as 'Sconset turns out in many a day. We
drove over the moor-road, under my general pilotage,
getting most delightfully lost among the ponds and
hills and dales, two or three times. I silenced the
jokes of the parson at my expense by suggesting that
if I was blind, as he intimated, I was having a right
happy time leading the blind.
Wauwinet proved to be a really charming resort.
The modest little hotel, to begin with, has jutted out
here, and thrust out an addition there, and then by a
happy inspiration spread out a broad, open dining-
room, or pavilion, which looks over the stunted grass,
down to the wharf and off upon the blue waters and
dancing waves of the sunny and safe harbor, and be-
yond, half a dozen miles to Nantucket town itself.
If you listen you may hear the surf a hundred yards
away back of the hotel. Up the harbor a little
steamer is plowing her way. with Nantucket sojourners
coming for the Wauwinet dinner. The white-winged
yachts are scudding about, the breeze being fresh, and
the sailing here always safe. Two miles away
across the water, on a bluff, we see the white tent of
Ned and the " Barnum boys," and with a glass dis-
tinguish the flagstaff and the stars and stripes. They
are patriotic boys — born so, when the cannon roar
in the land made all the mothers' hearts brave, and
men-children were esteemed the Nation's future
defenders. One of these lads bears the name of
"Malvern Hill," the battle field where his gallant
father, shot through and through, was left for dead,
but would not die.
While we are waiting for dinner, the ladies put on
their bathing-suits and enjoy the luxury of wading
and swimming in the clear, blue water of the bay,
without the necessity of a rope or a husband or
brother to cling to. My little lady, the pet of the
cottage, has her shoes and stockings taken off, and
fearlessly paddles about in the clean pools of sea-
46 wa-wa " left by the tide, to her great delight. The
boys watch the schools of young blue-fish at the end
of the wharf, and for once catch sight of a jelly-fish
wafting himself gracefully through the water, floating
like an amber cloud in the clear depth. Everybody,
big and little, gathers the prettiest shells along the
beach, now and then picking up some strange thing
that brings all the heads together to examine it.
Yonder, at the water's edge, is a fisherman cutting
THE BOYS A.-CAMPING. WAUWINET. 129
the flesh from a shark's jaw and rinsing it frequently.
We learn all about the process of " curing " sharks'
jaws, but have no desire to practice the art. The
whole shark business, indeed, is brutal.
The " shore-dinner " is at length ready. It is all
that it has been pictured ; and we learn with surprise
how many notes your expert cook can play with a
clam — a perfect symphony, if you stop to think of it.
The unostentatious bivalve is glorious in his death,
and a blind man would see beauties in him worthy of
an ode. We were all a most clamivorous company
until we had exhausted the entire range of the art of
cookery, as it exists, in a high state of development, at
After dinner, as had already been arranged, we
chartered a whale-boat rigged with sails, clambered
down into it as well as we could, while it tossed and
pitched at the wharf, had the supplies we had brought
handed down to us, and sailed across the bay toward the
American Flag. We were obliged to anchor fifty
yards from shore, and the small boat we had towed
after us, and the dory the lads came out in to meet us,
were loaded down with so many of our party as
130 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
ventured to go ashore in that fashion through the
spiteful little waves of the bay.
Landing in a rough-and-tumble way, we clambered
up the bank, by steps cut in the earth, to a level
plateau where the tent was erected. The camp-stove
was smoking as contentedly as it did in the camps of
the great Northern Wilderness, and a kettle of clam-
soup was cheerfully simmering on the stove. The
rude table was already spread with tin-cups and the
like. Dinner was evidently approaching — the basis
being here, as at Wauwinet, clams. ■ But dinner was
forgotten in our advent, and we received a most
enthusiastic welcome from the young campers.
" Where's Ned ? " I asked.
" Oh, he's down yonder, somewhere, after plover,"
was the reply.
I went in the direction indicated to find him. He
came out of the bush to meet me, with brown hat
and clothes, the brownest of faces, bare-footed, and
with his pants rolled up, his game-bag at his side and
his gun over his shoulder, — the most perfect specimen
of a young backwoodsman I had ever seen.
We were shown the interior of the tent, with the
bed of old buffalo robes and blankets thrown over
THE BOYS A-CAMITNG. WAUWINET. 131
dried sea-grass, and a pile of clothes, amunition and
a generally demoralized miscellany ; also, the cellar
which the boys had ingeniously constructed and in
which were stored birds and vegetables, a jug of fresh
water, and all the remnants of their supplies. We
emptied our pails and baskets and bundles, and the
hungry eyes of the younsters almost shouted for joy.
The incipient bread-famine was over, the siege was
" Well, lads, how are you getting on ? " was asked,
when the greetings and surprises and rapid taKdng
" First rate ! — only, the plover are now nearly all
gone, and the mosquitoes are pretty thick sometimes.
They come up out of the bogs and bushes some nights
by the million. And last night the wind blew across
this bluff as if it would clean us all off. We didn't
" What do you do X — where does the fun come in ? "
" Oh, there's enough to do ! Some of us get the
breakfast, while others gather wood down by the
Pond, or go over in a boat to Wauwinet for a jug of
water. Then we all go off hunting, or else take the
dory and catch blue-fish ; or we go to Pocomoc,-down
the Harbor, and dig clams along the beach. We go
in swimming every day, and sometimes in the night,
when we can't sleep, because of the mosquitoes, — and
that's fun enough, too. Then comes the dinner. "We
aren't very regular about that, — this cooking business
and dish-washing is about the dullest thing of the lot.
So, we don't get dinner until we're mighty hungry —
then we eat awfully ! We've run pretty low, lately,
on potatoes and bread ; and clam-chowder and soup
are getting to be a little ' stale.' If you hadn't come
to-day, we should have had to make a raid on Wau-
winet, or go home.
"One day we walked four miles up to the Great
Point Light House, through the sand. The two old
men and their wives, who live there year in and year
out, were glad enough to see us. They said nobody
came there and they were dreadfully lonesome. That
was the time when a boy was good for something, and
wasn't told to ' git out ! ' "
The lads assisted us to return to the whale-boat.
We hoisted sail again, shouted back our good-byes to
the gallant young Crusoes, and tacked away, with a
provokingly contrary wind, all over the bay, back to
THE BOYS A-CAMPING. WAUWINET. 133
On our return to 'Sconset, we took the beach-road,
and enjoyed the peculiar glory of the ocean as dark-
ness settled down upon us, but in due time were again
safely in our snug little cottage.
Very early one morning, not many days after, I
was aroused from slumber by somebody tugging at
the latch string, and in walked JSTed. The lads broke
camp at two o'clock in the morning, and to avail them-
selves of the tide made a night trip down the coast in
the dory, bringing with them their entire camp out-
fit. The poor fellows had been nearly eaten up by
the mosquitoes, passing two or three almost sleepless
nights, and were glad their allotted time was up so
that they might return without suspicion of having
made an ignominous retreat.
Xed,whowhen eleven years old had journeyed with
me nearly a hundred miles through the Adirondack
Wilderness, camping by the way, but with a good
guide, very freely confessed that " he liked camping
in the Adirondacks the best."
A LONELY EVENING TRAMP TOM
dt FTER supper, one particularly quiet day, I
Sfr wandered off alone for a walk which should dis-
pose me to happy slumber. "Wending my way along
Sunset Heights, the breeze from the ocean was so
exhilarating that I could not find it in my heart to
deny my legs the luxury of a good tramp ; and on I
went, southward, along the bluff, until I reached
a broad expanse of beach where come only the autumn
and winter waves driven by the fierce gales that harass
this coast when the summer skies and summer visitors
have betaken themselves elsewhere.
I came upon a curious formation, clusters of little
mounds and hillocks of sand not much higher than
my head," overgrown in part with various weeds and
beach-grass. The night shades were already falling,
and the sky had a weird aspect as if wickedly conjur-
ing a storm. The sullen roar of the surf came with
A LONELY EVENING TRAMP. 135
dull resonance to my alert ear. The wind from sea-
ward was rising and falling in mournful cadences. A
startled owl lifted himself on broad and noiseless pin-
ions,almost from under my feet,and circled suspiciously
around me, returning across my path whichever way
I turned or however often I frightened him with my
voice. I could see Tom Never's Head and the Life
Saving Station on the high bluff in the distance, and
wandered around among the sand-dunes in that general
direction, in no real danger of being lost, — enjoying to
the utmost the strange and novel sensations of my
night walking amidst these scenes so utterly unlike
any I had ever before beheld.
At length I stumbled upon a beautiful little gem
of a lake near the beach, as clear as crystal, but now
as dark as ink. All along its banks, except on the
seaward side, grew bushes like alders, with dark green
foliage ; and I could see that the lakelet, coy as a
maiden, retreated around a point and half hid its wild
beauty. I knew this must be " Tom Never's Pond,"
Ned's favorite shooting ground.
Pausing here awhile to gather in all the glamour
and romance of the scene, at an hour when one's
fancy pajnts the most common things with rarest
136 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIEE.
shades and hues, I climbed the hill and stood on the
brink of the lofty height of the bluff,— the " Head."
Here, on the right, the ocean sweeps away to the
westward, and on the left to the north ; — the ocean,
vast, tragic, eternal ; — the ocean, rolling its mysterious
tides around the world and sweeping all shores.
The moon struggled up through the waves and
poured the glory of its beams over the dark and heav-
ing sea. All the crests of the grandly rolling billows
gleamed. The gnashing teeth, gnawing at the beach
far below, flashed in the cold light. Dimly I dis-
cerned the stranded hulk of a vessel that came ashore
in a storm, years ago, and is now half -imbedded in the
sand, — its oaken ribs resisting the tooth of time, and
the beating of the waves. The wind soughed and sigh-
ed, and in its weird dialect seemed to tell the story of
wreck and disaster on the great world of waters before
and around me. Winds that might have come from
sunny Spain or the Gold Coast, — winds that swept the
rocky heights of historic St. Helena, — winds from
the Canaries, — they might have come from anywhere
in this world toward which my face was turned. And
with all this, through all my emotions, like the grand
undertone of the organ, came the ceaseless, painfully
A LONELY EVENING TRAMP. 137
regular roar of the breakers sounding out the seconds
of this manifest eternity before me, beating the heart-
throbs of this living thing, this sentient being — the
I turned away from the scene that I can never for-
get, and realized almost for the first moment that I
was alone with all this gloomy grandeur. There,
behind me, stood the Life Saving Station, suggestive
of* wreck and tragedy, — suggestive, too, of the strong
feeling of kinship there is, after all, among men.
Beyond, were the sad, still moors ; and below, a vast
field of dark verdure, Tom Never's Swamp, — all
idealized under the rays of the moon, touched by the
magic of the night.
I was compelled to say good night to all this
loveliness and mystery, and rapidly walked down the
hill and wended my way homeward. Among the sand-
dunes the affrighted night-birds fluttered, sometimes
startling me as .much as I did them. The friendly
light of Sankaty guided me through the labyrinth, and
I emerged upon the bluff and into the beaten path
leading to 'Sconset. The twinkling lights of the
village caught my eye, and a sense of relief came to
me as I felt once more that not only was the wide,
grand, gloomy and remorseless ocean in the world,
but so also were men and women, and children, and
cheerful firesides, and hearts that love and cherish.
THE OCEAN IN A STORM " THE RIPS."
Q§* HE south and east shores of the island are bordered
^K by broad and dangerous shoals. Storms and
darkness sometimes bring the ill-fated mariner within
the dreaded region, and shipwreck is almost sure to
follow. To provide for these dangers and calamities,
life-saving stations have been erected all along the
coast at intervals of two or three miles, wherein are
kept boats and apparatus ready for instant use in
affording rescue and relief in cases of wreck ; and as
the stormy period of the year approaches, a patrol of
brave and experienced men is established, whose duty
it is to keep good lookout, night and day, and in case
of disaster, to render all the aid in their power. The
summer visitor notes, but little heeds, these unpreten-
tious buildings along the bluffs, but which play an
important part on the serious side of Nantucket life.
We witnessed and experienced one or two storms
which revealed to us something of the power of the
waves. The long, graceful, Atlantic swells, that looked
so benignant under the summer sky, reared their great
fronts and rushed with gigantic fury upon the shore.
They came, wave after wave, rank after rank, army
after army, an endless host and multitude of
roaring waters. The deep hollows seemed deep
enough to engulf a ship. The towering crests were
torn and buffeted into foam by the wind. The sight
was grand, viewed from the high 'Sconset bank.
The breakers, when we stood on the shore near thern^
were terriffic. No swimmer ventured to test their
power and fury. The waves dashed high upon the
sands, casting them hither and thither, and in a few
hours changing the line of the beach.
But the ocean was, if possible, grander a few hours
after the wind subsided. The waves lost nothing of
their vastness and fury, but became smoother on their
surface and revealed more distinctly their magnitude.
The mountains and valleys of water swelling to such
heights, sinking to such depths, and rolling along
shoreward so swiftly and then breaking in thunder all
along the shore, resolved into seething foam, — this
was possibly a more sublime thing than the storm
THE OCEAN IN A STORM. " THE RIPS." 141
Strange and curious things came up on the beach
in a storm ; — pieces of wood borne from distant shores,
perhaps ; long, broad ribbons of kelp ; .sea-weeds of
many kinds ; bits of sponges ; shells of various sorts ;
lively little crabs ; curious pebbles ; and one day a
part of the huge body of a whale was rolled up on
the beach with each large wave and was gradually
carried, by the combined movement of tide and waves,
northward along the coast.
These days of storm seemed to impress the entire
summer population of little 'Sconset with awe. They
forgot to be witty and jocose, and went about as if a
tradgedy of some sort had occurred in their midst, —
nothing horrible,, but something serious. Most
of us watched the sea by the hour from the
bluff, or standing on the beach just out of reach of
the breakers, where we could hardly hear each other
speak. We did not care, indeed, to talk, for this
grand organ tone of the ocean was something to still
all common sounds, and its theme belittled all common
On these days, too, came many carriages from Kan-
tucket, with people who wanted to see the surf at its
*best. They came on other days to bathe in the surf,
142 'SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
to see the curious little 'Sconset cottages, to drive over
the moors, to visit Sankaty Light House, to dine
with friends and talk of summer delights by the sea.
But now every eye was upon the ocean, each thought
was of the power and terror of the enraged sea, every
emotion was in harmony with this deeply moved
world of waters.
When the waves and the tide meet on the reefs,
(" the rips " is the localism,) where the water is only
ten or fifteen feet deep,— then there is an upheaval of
water, a battle of the giants, worth a journey to 'Scon-
set to see. Half a mile or more south of the village
there is a shoal where this phenomenon is occasionally
seen. Wind and tide were in fierce opposition there
on one of these days of storm, and I went down to the
beach near the scene.
Yonder comes shoreward a great wave, towering
above all its brethren. Onward it comes, swift as a
race-horse, graceful as a great ship, bearing right down
upon us. It strikes " the rips," and is there itself
struck by a wave approaching from another direction.
The two converge in their advance, and are dashed
together, — embrace each other like two angry giants,
each striving to mount upon the shoulders of the
THE OCEAN IN A STORM. U THE RIPS." 143
other and crush its antagonist with its ponderous bulk.
Swift as thought they mount higher and higher, in
fierce, mad struggle, until their force is expended ;
their tops quiver, tremble, and burst into one great
mass of white, gleaming foam ; and the whole body of
the united wave, with a mighty bound, hurls itself
upon the shore and is broken into a flood of seething
waters, — crushed to death in its own fury.
All over the shoal the waves leap up in pinnacles,
in volcanic points, sharp as stalagmites, and in this
form run hither and yon in all possible directions,
colliding with and crashing against others of equal
fury and greatness — a very carnival of wild and
drunken waves ; the waters hurled upward in huge ,
masses of white. Sometimes they unite more gently,
and together sweep grandly and gracefully along, par-
allel with the shore ; and the cavernous hollows stretch
out from the shore so that you look into the trough
of the sea and realize what a terrible depth it is. The
roar, meanwhile, is horrible. You are stunned by it,
as by the roar of a great waterfall. You see a wave
of unusual magnitude rolling in from far beyond the
wild revelry of waters on " the rips." It leaps into
the arena, as if fresh and eager for the fray, clutches
another Bacchanal like itself, and the two towering
floods rush swiftly toward the shore. Instinctively
you run backward to escape what seems an impending
destruction. Very likely a sheet of foam is dashed
all around you, shoe-deep, but you are safe — only the
foam hisses at you in impotent rage. The sea has its
bounds : " hitherto shalt thou come, but no further."
Mighty and terrible within its own domain, and beat-
ing wildly upon the shore, century after century, it
yet obeys the law which is mightier than it, and abides
within its own limits, — powerful to destroy, yet
obedient at the last.
I think I never saw anything in all my life
that impressed me as did this battle of waves
and tide on " the rips " — not even Niagara.
There you comprehend the cause, — the fall
of water — gravitation. Here it is the mystery of the
tide, the dominion of the moon contending with the
waves that themselves — the wind meanwhile having
already ceased — seem as mysterious. Here is an upheav-
al^ wild,tumultuous conflict of waters that ought, to all
appearance, to be as calm and placid as a lakelet.
There seems, indeed, to be life, will, — and a malignant
will, — auger and ferocity, in this desperate struggle,
THE OCEAN IN A STORM. " THE RIPS.' 1 145
that are demoniac. And it is perhaps this element of
the wonderful exhibition of Nature's forces that makes
the scene peculiarly impressive.
I saw this display on two successive days, for hours
each time ; and I have never since felt any degree
of the old familiarity with the ocean that the summer
days by the seaside had encouraged in me. Ever
since those days the ocean has been something more
than water and waves, — something too grand and
terrific, too wildly ferocious in its secret nature, too
full of a sentient spirit of malignity, to be on easy
terms with it.
J LIFE VARIOUS SO:
HOPE I have made it somewhat apparent what
we saw and did at 'Sconset by day. The evenings,
as well, were delightful, and full of such employ-
ments, too, as the summer saunterer is disposed to
A 'Sconset cottage parlor is a small affair, but it will
very likely hold all your friends — provided you take
several evenings for it and entertain them in sections.
It is the good fashion, at 'Sconset, to entertain and be
entertained after this manner ; — and taking the happy
results in enjoyment into account, the suggestion of
our experience seemed worth carrying home, where
there is less necessity for it.
It happened that the vocal talent was, for a season,
well represented here, and that there was in our
cottage a soprano voice in which I (as was proper in a
good natured kinsman of its possessor) greatly
delighted. Others admired also. Hence, happy
evenings at our cottage and a round of cottages.
A company of strangers from all over the land,
meeting on the summer vacation platform at a resort
where simplicity of life is the first article of the uni-
versal creed, where life, indeed, is almost as free from
conventionalism as a family circle, readily finds itself
interested in itself. We assume, without much risk,
that a common purpose has brought together conge-
nial spirits. The very fact that one is in love with
such quiet sea-side life, is as good a recommendation
to society, as it exists at 'Sconset, as a letter of intro-
We certainly had the elements of "good society."
There were literary men and women, at rest for a
season ; artists who assiduously sketched and painted
the quaintest scenes and objects ; one man of science,
a college professor, who dissected and vivisected cats,
sharks, and pretty nearly every living thing he could
lay his hands on, and was writing a book and working
himself thin and haggard ; a College President who,
far from halls of learning and the turbulent college
dormitories, lounged in a hammock under an awning
on the beach, genial and happy and restoring his soul
for another year of work, — filling himself with mag-
netism and virtue to vitalize the young men who
should touch his garments and draw magnetism and
virtue out of him again ; men of affairs who came
hither to escape ledgers, correspondence, telegrams,
and worry ; fagged and weary women, teachers of
seminaries, off for a "good time;" professional men
of various sorts, who came for a few days and were
off again, prizing their brief respite in this quiet re-
treat as the brightest spot of the whole year ; and the
families of many men whom the affairs and exigencies
of our ill-conditional world with its exactions will not
give a vacation until it follows them to the cemetery.
These were some of the men and women from whom
an evening " sociable " was almost nightly made up
at 'Sconset, at some cottage or other.
Is it any wonder that the humble fishermen's homes
flashed with wit, and grew luminous with wisdom,
and resounded with laughter that was not wholly
empty? Such excruciatingly exquisite tales of
personal adventure — notably the night-ride in a
sleeping-car, and the interview with the austere rail-
road official — as were told with the rarest humor by
the brilliant Miss Norris (that isn't quite her true
name, but it will answer _pro hoc vice) from a certain
Seminary of Cincinnati, — and the no less brilliant
conversation of the athletic parson's wife ! When
and where shall we hear the like again ? The good
natured battles of wit between these two charming
ladies, were the best things at 'Sconset, — except the
surf-bathing and the gigantic writhing of wave and tide
on "the rips."
When the moonlit evenings came, the cottagers
adjourned to the beach ; and the ocean, with its grand
monotone and mournful soliloquy, was taken into our
social circle. It was noticeable what a change there
was in the tone of the conversation and the pitch of
the thought of the company, when we came from cosey
cottage parlor into this presence of the august one.
The songs that were sung were, however, the truest
revealers of the change that came over all our spirits,
and gave truest expression to the new inspiration
breathed on all our hearts.
At 'Sconset the veritable " latch-string " still exists.
At all hours of the day the cottagers, when calling
upon each other, knock at the door and enter with
little ceremony ; and among friends the knock itself
is dispensed with, and the latch-string is pulled with-
out any ceremony at all.
The " town " people and visitors greatly enjoy a
peep within the cottages. We and our daily life are
a curiosity. How we live in these little bird cages
on the bluff is a problem they are eager to solve. The
genuine summer 'Sconseter enjoys being interviewed,
also, and with great good nature goes through the
mere box of a house, exhibiting its quaintness of
structure, its odd corners and cuj)boards, its tiny rooms,
and the rare old crockery in the pantry. One day a
friend from our own city, in town for the summer,
drives over, bringing a huge watermelon and a basket
of peaches, and dines with us. Another day in
comes, like a breeze from the mountains, with a
hearty greeting, another friend, bringing with him, as
he says in his introduction, " the King of Nantucket,
Mr. Sanford ! " and the artist, Eastman Johnson. We
show them the simple wonders of our mansion, but
modestly assure them that while our cottage is small,
yet the boundless ocean, just back of the cottage, is
LIKE A BEE-HIVE THAT GUN " W]
^^HIS cottage, like the others, was indeed small, but
^Y as full as a bee-hive. With the boys in it, it
buzzed very like a bee -hive. There never was a time
when a visitor would not have instantly detected that
it was the home of a lot of healthy boys. A boy
always has a way of amassing a fortune that is
an embarrassment to the elders, since he is sure
to distribute his riches all over the house. If the
house is a 'Sconset cottage, the embarrassment
becomes serious. There were pebbles and shells, sea-
weeds, vines, birds' wings and heads, and curiosities
of all sorts, gathered in their raids over the island.
The younger children, moreover, had been carefully
provided for, in case of a rainy day and imprisonment
in-doors, by the thoughtful matron of the house, who
had stored a goodly assortment of toys and battered
playthings, in one of the great trunks, before she left
home, and now judiciously brought them out, a few
at a time, until the whole house looked like a
miniature battle-field, or a discomfited toy-shop.
Ned had a frightful way of leaving his game-bag and
loaded shells and ammunition in the little parlor, and
it was accounted a piece of extraordinary thoughtful-
ness on his part if his gun was not "stood up"
in a corner of the same apartment.
On his return, one evening, from a long tramp and
hunting excursion on the island, he went to bed as
lead goes to the bottom of the sea. Just as he was
dropping off to slee]3 he remembered his gun, damp
with the sea-air, and begged his mother to take care
of it. If there is anything under the sun that the
bravest woman is afraid of, it is a gun ! However, the
motherly instinct stood in this case for natural bravery ;
and behold ! this wife of one man, and mother of four
children, plucking up a courage which clearly indi-
cates that she missed her calling in being born a woman,
took the weapon from its corner in the parlor, and
carried it into the kitchen. She soliloquized, " I
don't like to touch the thing, but the poor boy is so
tired I must try to do something with it." Jane, the
faithful, saw, and heard, and trembled.
Placing the muzzle on the floor, the courageous
mother proceeded to examine the lock, lifted the ham-
mer to see if that was all right, when (of course) bang !
"the thing" went off. A heavy charge of shot crashed
through the floor ; the gun-barrel puffed and swelled
its iron throat with indignation, but luckily didn't
burst ; the room was full of powder-smoke ; and two
women screamed with fright, and both, pale as ghosts,
ran out of doors and looked at each other to see if they
were actually alive and unhurt. It was, indeed, a
wonderful escape, without any jocose features — to
It was intended to keep this exploit a secret, but
the husband happening to be absent, the tale had to
be told — the powder-smoke introducing the subject —
to the first female 'Sconset friend that came in. Ned
got a scolding for bringing a loaded gun into the
house, made another mental memorandum, of a new
" thou-shalt-not ! " and bore a damaged reputation
during the remainder of the summer.
Even the little lady in blue flannel seemed inspired
to distinguish herself, and whenever a piece of wall-
paper, loosened by the moist sea-air, presented the
temptation, she persistently pulled it off, until we
were able to trace her all over the house in this " fox-
and-hounds " game of hers.
It is no wonder that the excellent Nantucket lady,
who owned the cottage, wrote us, when she went to
take possession and enjoy her own vacation after the
departure of these young desperadoes, that she
thought our " family of boys a very wea/ring one."
My wife was greatly distressed by the letter, and be-
lieved our reputation was irretrievably lost. But
when I suggested that we drown the boys, and so re-
establish ourselves, she wouldn't hear to it at all. I
suspect the unaccounted for hole in the kitchen-floor,
where an ounce or more of shot went safely through
into the ground beneath, like a well-ordered shaft of
lightning, was laid at the door of those " wearing
boys." How true in this life that, " to him who hath
shall be given " — even in the way of bad reputation !
LATTER DAYS THE LIBRARY. AGAIN.
jj^IXALLY, one day I woke up to the consciousness
^i that my vacation days for this summer were
ended, — that I had, indeed, already lingered in the
lap of this dreamy, luxurious life of rest and delight,
longer than my allotted time. On the late Sunday
afternoon, before I was to depart and leave my
household by the sea, we walked together along the
bluff toward Sankaty Head. In the light of declining
day, the moors and the distant range of Saul's Hills
were purple brown, as on many such a day before ;
the sea came in long, graceful swells, and broke
in foam and resounding roar ; the soft evening breeze
from the ocean, smelling of the waves and salt
sea-foam, refreshed and invigorated us; while we
lingered on our way, reluctant to lose anything of the
changing scene as day passed away and night took the
sceptre and waved it over land and sea, evoking new
beauties and grander glories, and inspiring our hearts
156 SCONSET COTTAGE LIFE.
with an awe which the day could not command. The
glory of the day indeed is one, and the glory of the
night is another.
That night a storm came, — wind, rain, chilling
blasts, right off from the ocean, — the one cold storm,
which always comes between delightful summer and
more delightful autumn. So it happened that my
last gaze from the bluff, back of our cottage, was
upon the ocean in a rage, and the great white pillars
of fiercely tossed waters out on the reefs ; and over
all were the dark and stormy sky and clouds that
seemed to mingle with the sea.
I came away pretty cheerfully, considering what I
was leaving, — but I suspect it was because the parson
and his wife were there to bid me good-bye, and I
was striving to sustain a reputation for philosophy,
which I very well knew I did not, at that particular
juncture, deserve at all. Every seat in the stage was
full, for everybody had taken a hint from the almanac
and the storm and was going home ; and Mr. Folger
drove me over to town in his box-cart. The storm
was very disagreeable, and he lent me a great heavy
overcoat, worthy of the sea-coast in winter, which pro-
tected me very well.
LATTER DAYS. THE LIBRARY AGAIN. 157
The passage from Nantucket to Wood's Holl was
very rough, — the Captain of the steamer said the sea
was " rugged," — and many were sea-sick. The dear
old Island slowly sank below the horizon, and was
enveloped in storm and cloud. I gazed in its direc-
tion long after it had disappeared, and cheered the
gloomy hour with the sweetest recollections of the
summer delights it had given me ; and then I turned
my eyes and thoughts to the great waves that tossed
and rocked our struggling and groaning little vessel.
However, they never have accidents on this line of
boats, and we reached "the continent" in safety.
Whirling away on the immensely long and heavy
train to Boston, and then on and on by night, I was
at home again.
The " family " remained at 'Sconset a month longer.
After the storm was over, the beginning of which I
had seen, the weather was very tine, the temperature
equable and agreeable, and although most of the sum-
mer visitors had gone to their homes, about Septem-
ber first, the life there was as delightful as ever.
Finally, by a forced march, the brave little mother,
and the brood of children, and Jane, and the big
trunks, and the baby carriage, and a reasonably fair
share of their other impedimenta, came home, — leav-
ing 'Sconset at 3 A. M. of one day, and reaching
home at 7 A. M. of the following day.
— Again we were seated before the evening wood-
fire in the grate, in our home library, the chill autumn
air softened to summer temperature, and our thoughts
going back to 'Sconset as a thing not now to be antici-
pated with eager delight, but to be recalled as a mel-
low memory of the richest pleasures of our life, — a
summer by the sea, in a cottage,our family all together
The matron was ruddy and brown and robust ; the
lads were full of health and vigor ; even the dear lit-
tle fellow, for whose sake we had, in a large part,
planned this summer life, was nearly well ; while "that
baby ! " had set out on a career of growth that bids
fair to make her in all respects equal to the " wearing
"Did you like Nantucket as well as the Adi-
rondacks ? " asked my wife, a little shyly, conscious
that this was the supreme test.
" Yes, and no," I replied ; " the domestic and social
side of me, and the poet side , so far as there is one,
say ' Yes ' ; while the sportsman's side — the wild-man
LATTER DAYS. TILE LIIiRARY AGAIN. 159
in me — says ' Xo.' The two sorts of vacation are
really not to be compared. Both are delightful, and
to me they have proved to be about equally bene-
ficial, — the sea-side life, because of its ease and home-
comforts, having, in this instance, done me more good
than some of my hard-working Adirondack trips.' 1
" Yes," said my wife, with just the least air of
triumph, " when you came back from the Woods
last summer, you were all worn out and tired out.
You always work too hard in the Adirondacks."
" But I am always good for a great deal of hard
work at home after these trips, you know," said I,
" and it isn't the w T orst thing in the w T orld for a man of
sedentary habits to have, once a year, all the physical
labor he can perform, — especially when he performs it
from the pure love of the thing."
" At all events, you will admit," added this wise
woman, judiciously abandoning her former line of
argument before I should " warm up " too much on
my favorite theme, — " I am'sure you cannot deny, that
you have enjoyed the summer at 'Sconset with your
family, — you said so, you know."
" Yes, yes, yes ! — that's true ! It was glorious ! the
richest, rarest, best vacation I ever had, in that view,"
I said, and felt, too ; " and sometimes I think I never
will take another summer's rest without going the same
way you and the children go. But, after all," — visions
of forest and stream, recollections of camps and tramps
in the rare old woods, floating in upon me, — " after all,
it does a man good, sometimes, to go a-vagabondizing
in the native wilderness, to live like an Indian, and
get away from everything civilized. He comes back
to society, to his work among men, with a certain
something in him gained from the forest which I
can't explain to you, but which I feel. — Well," con-
tinued I, after musing a moment, " I don't know, —
if we can all go to 'Sconset every other summer to-
gether, and you will let me pack off alone, or with
Ned, to the Adirondacks and catch trout for the inter-
mediate summers, I think — as to my vacations — I
shall be the happiest man in all the town ! "
BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
Grayling Fishing in Northern Michigan:
A Record of Summer Vacations in the Wilderness."
302 pp. Price in C!oth, $1-25.
Syracuse, N. Y. : C. W. BARDEEN, Publisher.
New York: BAKER, PRATT & CO.
OFIIXTIOKTS OJE* •37X3CE2 Z=>fLX:SJS.
"Every lover of the woods, whether he be destined to pace the scorch-
ing side-walk or to share the joys it describes should read this volume."
—Atlantic Monthly. "Much interesting personal experience freshly
narrated." — New YorkDaily Tribune. "The hints are trustworthy."
— The Nation, New York. " Disciples of Izaak "Walton will read it
with pleasure. * 'Sir. Northrup writes with a genial enthus-
iasm for his sport and in an easy and pleasant style." — T
York. " As a narrative it runs along- with quite as much liveli-
ness as it would if the author were writing a fiction, and we are
favored not only with well-drawn descriptions of scenery, but als<
entertaining conversation and life like exhibitions of human nature." —
1 he Churchman. " He has made his story an entertaining one." —
ThePopular Science Monthly. "Those who are fond of the woods
will lie delighted with ' Camps and Tramps.' His chapters
on Grayling Fishing are exceedingly well done. And we say this he-
cause we know all about it — tin' waters fished and the spurt to be de-
rived from angling lor this gamey fish. The book is a pleasant and
timely addition to fish lore and angling liti rature." — George Dawson, in
the Albany Evening Journal. "Will bring vividly to the minds of
those who have camped out in the wilderness, their delightful ex-
periences. * * Gives a remarkably truthful description of
both the annoyances and delights of the woods. * Definite
and capital suggestions as to outfit." — Christian Union. "The inci-
dents were not manufactured to sell the book, but the book is printed
because of the incidents. — The Chicago Field. " So faithful is the
picture, so natural and evident!}' sincere, every page, that we must
compliment the writer on the success of his authorship. * * It
is a book which cannot fail of having a healthful effect." — Forest and
Stream. " The purpose of ' Camps and Tramps ' is to rest and charm
the spirit by conveying through it a series of delightful scenes ; and
the author will ask, we are sure, no higher praise than the admission
that this has been attained. * * Rare and graceful bits of de-
scription scattered as naturally throughout the narative as the lakes are
distributed among his own Adirondacks." — Northern Christian Advocate.
"The style is exceedingly animated and the book altogether has a de-
lightful out-of-door flavor." — Saturday Evening Gazette, Boston.
"Very fresh and entertaining, and supplies much valuable information
as to the modus operandi of camping out." — Baltimore Gazette,
Mr. Northrup is a well-known lawyer of Syracuse, who has recreated
for several summers in the Adirondacks He narrates his adventures in
a pleasant manner, and refrains from drawing the ' long-bow ' in telling
the story of his personal experiences." — Chicago Journal. "A book
which will be thoroughl}- enjoyed by sportsmen and those fond of quiet
adventure. It is well' written— abounds in incident, accident and fun.
Those who are planning a summer campaign of a like kind will enjoy
the entire book." — Chicago Inter-Ocean. " The charm of the woods
and waters is in this book." — Cincinnati Commercial. " A volume
full of adventure which the lovers of sport will like to read." — Cincin-
nati Gazette. " Full of graphic and exceedingly interesting reading."
— Auburn Daily Advertiser. "A real, living contribution to Adiron-
dack literature, * * very handsome withal." — Syracuse Sun-
day Times. " One of the brightest, liveliest and most interesting of
out- door books. * * Fresh, breezy, and delightful. — Cortland
Standard. " A perusal of this narrative is the next thing to a visit to
that resort in person, and affords a pleasant recreation." — Platisburg
Sentinel. "Possessing a sufficient flavor of woods and waters to con-
stitute pleasant reading for either a summer's day or a winter's night. *
* Abounding in good fishing and deer stories." Platisburg Republi-
can. " We rise from the perusal of the book with something of the
refreshment which the ' Camps and Tramps ' must have furnished the
good companions of the companionable Northrup." — Rochester Democrat
and Chronicle. " The book acts like a tonic. The breezes of the
pines float through it ; the waves of the lakes of the woods dance along
its pages." — Buffalo Courier, "One of the most entertaining books
of the season." — Ithaca Journal, " * * It sparkles, too,
with humorous incidents described in a style at once so graceful and
alluring, that reading them is the next best thing to their actual experi-
ence." — Oswego Daily Times. "The literary excellence of this work
will commend it, aside from other consid i lo the attention of
appreciative and cultured minds throughout the country." — Syracuse
Courier. " We have never seen a fisherman's book so strictly
honest as this. * But the greatest charm of the book lies in
it- hearty appreciation of nature, * There are delightful
bits of description, reproducing not only the scenery itself bnt the'mood
of mind which makes it enjoyable and understandable. It is the
TIMENT OF THE WILDERNESS TRANSPORTED TO OUB ( :i V HOMES. It IS
the aesthetics of the woods. * * Mr. Northrup's style isrich and
racy with a humor peculiarly his own. * * But it is in his I
ural description that the writer's true temperament is seen. — Utica Morn-
ing Herald. " One of the handsomest looking books we have seen for
many a day, and as interesting as it is handsome. * * It abounds in de-
scriptions particularly vivid and always given with much artistic finish,
with enough humor interspersed to spice it well. We are told how a
party goes into the woods, and how its members subsist after they get
there. Privations are made no less prominent than pleasures, and a
thousand little facts of interest to every person who visits or who in-
tends to visit this charmed region, are given for the first time, we be-
lieve, in print. The book is full of excellent suggestions, which are
hinted rather than thrust upon the reader. The cl □ grayling
fishing are really the best description of sport on frh - of North-
ern .Michigan which has appeared anywhere. They cover the whole
subject and are complete. In some respects it reads like a
romance; but there are scarcely anything of fancy mingled with its de-
lightfully told facts/ - — Syracuse Daily "To those who
have not yet spent a vacation in those delightful wilds, it will give a
fair notion of the manner in which i 3sed there, while
to those who have already 'camped and tramped' in the scenes de-
seribed, it will, by refreshing their recollection, bring back some of the
old enjo} r ment." — Montreal Globe. " Fresh, breezy ' delicious.
* * Contains also a few chapters descriptive of grayling fishing
in Northern Michigan, which are sut iad with interest." — Rome
Sentinel. " An unaffected, and therefore interesting account of his
ramping out experiences. His narrative owes its interest to it-
simplicity and evident truthfulness — has refrained from exercising the
traveler's prerogative and drawing tin.' Ion/ bow. His sincerity is un-
mistakable. The book is a record of facts, and it has value accord-
ingly.'' — Philadelphia North American. 'Next to participating in
such enjoyments is the pleasure one feels in reading the well-told ex-
periences of Mr. Northrup and his genial companions. It is a cheery
book." — New England Journalof Education. "Furnishes refreshing
and instructive reading for all who have, or wish- to cultivate, the in-
stinct for the woods." — The Watchman. " This book gives truthful
pictures of life in the Adirondacks. The stoiy is lively, the advice is
reliable, and the book in every way thoroughly good."—/;'
THE LOCAL PAPER OF THE ISLAND IS
flfti* (g*iu*tfctt 1
Which contains all the Local News and a Summary of Im-
portant Events transpiring Abroad.
PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY 3IOKNING BY
office- r^Ai^r crest vurt-
Terms— $2.00 a year; 50 cents for three months. Single copies Four
cents. Advertisements inserted on reasonable terms.
In all its Branches Executed Neatly and Promptly at
THE JOURNAL OFFICE.
fou^i5TS ; General P v egi3try ^gency.
All visitors to Nantucket should register at this office. By so doing
they can rind their friends, their friends can find them, and the prompt
delivery of telegrams and express packages will be insured.
Mm ??* mmuwmmw® mm.mmmm^
Cor. Main and Orange Sts XJXTUCKET, MASS.
No pains will be . spared to make this one of the best and most
popular Houses on the Island.
THOMAS H. &OULE 9 JB., Proprietor.
Old Colony R. R, and Steamboat Cos.
FALL RIVER LINE.
THE GREAT ROUTE BETWEEN
Via FALL RIVER and the
Colossal Steamships Bristol and Providence.
The Direct and Popular lino to the Beatilul Summer Reports ot
NANTUCKET AND MARTHA'S VINEYARD,
Oak Bluffs, Katama, Vineyard Highlands, and to Woods I Toll. Fal-
mouth Heights, Hyannis, Provincetown, Plymouth, Duxlmny,
Marshtield, SciUiatc, Cohasset, Nantasket, and all
The Noted Seaside Resorts of Cape Cod and the South
Shore of Massachusetts,
THE ONLY DIRECT ROUTE BETWEEN
New York and Oak Bluffs,
MARTHA'S VINEYARD AND NANTUCKET,
Fall River Line and New Bedford,
BORDEN & LOVELL, Agents O. C. S. B. Co., .... NRW YOKK.
GEO. L. CONNOR, Gen. Passenger Agent O. C. S. B. Co., - - NEW YOHK.
J. SPRAGUE. Jr.. Gen. Passenger Agent U. C. R. R. Co., - - - BOs'l ON.
J. R. KENDR1CK, Superintendent, BOSTON.
First-class in every respect. Trancient rates s:j.(X) per day. Open
June 25th. J. S. DOVLE, Proprietor.
ADVICE TO SUMMER TOURISTS.
BEFORE YOU START, SECURE A
General Accident Insurance Policy
Travelers' Life anfl Accident Co.,
It provides indemnity for fatal or disabling injuries by Accidents
TRAMPS AND CAMPS,
HUNTING AND FISHING,
ROWING AND SAILING,
AFOOT OR HORSEBACK.
Traveling or not, at home or by the way, and in all the ordinary
occupations of life.
THE TRAVELERS' has paid about 60,000 claims under its
accident contracts, amounting to more than
Agents everywhere within hailing distance who issue Policies or
Tickets for the day, month, or year, at small cost and short notice.
JAS. G. BATTERSON, - - President.
RODNEY DENNIS, Sec'y. JOHN E. MORRIS, Ass't. Sec'y.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
014 076 492 9