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L, CONSET 
COTTAGE 




LIFE: 



Summer on Nantucket Island. 



A. JUOO NORTHHUP. 

1881. 



'Scoxset Cottage Life: 



A SUMMER 



o^r 



NANTUCKET ISLAND 



BY 



A. JUDD NORTHRUP, 

Author of "Camps and Tramps in the 
Adirondacks." 






V 






7 1881 



NEW YORK: 
BAKKK, PRATT & CO. 

19 Bond Stkeet. 

1881. 



J3w 






Copyright, 1881, 
By' A, JUDD NORTHRUP. 






PREFACE. 



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 
in general. 

'Sconset, a little hamlet on the extreme south-east- 
ern end of the Island, was our home, and the center 



IV PREFACE. 

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. 



CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER I. 
Plans and Preliminaries 9 

CHAPTER II. 
Off for 'Sconset — A Moving Scene — Boys and 

Eels 15 

CHAPTER III. 
A Second Migration — Notes by the Way — 

Heads and Sub-heads 26 

CHAPTER IV 
First Views — Ocean — 'Sconset — Cottage — 

Sleepy Hollow , 33 

CHAPTER V. 
Surf-bathing 16 

CHAPTER VI. 
Island Wanderings — Blue-Fishing — Cod- 
fishing 56 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VII. 
'Sconset People 64 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Sunday at 'Sconset 72 

CHAPTER IX. 
The Squantum — Sachacha Pond — On the 

Moors 77 

CHAPTER X. 
A Day in " Nantucket Town." 87 

CHAPTER XL 

" A-SHARKING." 100 

CHAPTER XII. 
Blue-fishing Ill 

CHAPTER XIII. 

1ST ED AND " THE BaRNUM BoYS " GO A-CAMPING 

A Day at Wauwinet 122 

CHAPTER XIV. 
A Lonely Evening Tramp — Tom Never's 

Head. 134 

CHAPTER XV. 

The Ocean in a Storm— " The Rips." 139 



CONTENTS. Vll 

CHAPTEK [XVI. 

'Sconset Social Life — Various Sorts of 

People 140 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Like a Bee-hive — That Gun — 'Wearing Boys." 151 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
Latter Days — The Library again 155 



']SC0N3ET £0TTAQE JLlfE : 



Summer on Nantucket Island, 



CHAPTEK I. 

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- 



10 

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- 
tion." 

" Oh, I forgot that ! " was the easy and honest 
response. 

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. 



CHAPTER II. 

OFF FOR 'SC0N8ET — A MOVING SCENE — LETTERS BOYS 

AND EELS. 

^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. 
15 



16 

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- 
where ! 

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 
be closed. 

" 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 
anxious husband. 

" In a minute !" came dimly down through the 
noise of voices and feet. 

Five minutes. 

" 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 
another. 

" Come ! " said another voice from the head of the 
stairs. 

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 



LETTERS. 19 

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- 



20 

ings came in almost every epistle to the solitary man 
at home. 

" 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- 



LETTERS. 21 

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 

Elliott." 



22 

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 
they broke. 

"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 

Ned." 

— 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 ! " 



CHAPTER III. 

A SECOND MIGRATION NOTES BY THE WAY HEADS 

AND SUB-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 
vacation season. 

Soon the green shores of Martha's Vineyard cast off 

their veil of dimness and rise up clear and well-defined. 
26 



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 



28 

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- 
tucket. 

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. 



32 

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 ! 



CHAPTER IV. 

FIRST VIEWS — OCEAN 'sCONSET — COTTAGE 

SLEEPY HOLLOW. 

(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 
33 



34 

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 
daughter. 

" 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 



36 

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- 



38 

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- 
erate. 



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 
or not. 

'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 



41 

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 



42 

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 
Nantucket. 

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 
told. 



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 
diversion ? 

" 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 
yesterday/' 

"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 

'Sconset slumber. 

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. 



CHAPTER V. 

SURF-BATHING. 

|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. 
46 



SURF-BATHING. 47 

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 
was done. 

Here a little later, like the star actor upon the 



50 

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 
wouldn't do. 

There was one magnificent swimmer, Colonel S., of 



SURF-BATHING. 51 

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- 



52 

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 



54 

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 
water— '" 

"Yes ! Yes ! " I interrupted ; "just my notion ex- 
actly." 

" 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 
little sharply. 

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! 



CHAPTEK YI. 

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. 
56 



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 



BLUE-FISHING. 59 

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 
the world. 



60 

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 



BLUE-FISHING. 61 

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 






COD-FISHING. 63 

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 
deeper water. 

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! 



CHAPTEE TIL 

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 
tourist. 

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 
64 



'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 
die out. 

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. 



66 

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 
-day. 

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. 



69 

" 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 



70 

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 



71 

Nature who meant that corn should not grow on a 
sand bank. 

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. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 



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- 
spring. 

However, to make sure of distinguishing this from 

other days, a party of us duly attended the " Quaker 

72 



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 
day. 

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 
inferior quality." 

" 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 ? 



CHAPTER IX. 

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," 

77 



78 

(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 
novice. 

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- 
lar locality. 

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 
all that. 

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 



84 

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 ! 



CHAPTER X 

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 
nuisance. 

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 
the breakers. 

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- 
Captain." 

We went industriously about the town, visiting 
various resorts of special interest ; — and first, the 
Athenaeum, which contains the Library and Museum y 



93 

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 
everybody is. 

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 
'Sconseter, — 

" 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 
love Nantucket." 

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 
here." 

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 



97 

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, 



98 

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. 



CHAPTER XI. 

" A-SHARKING." 

[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 
100 



101 

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, 



105 

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 



106 

company, and " overboard," stimulating us to prompt 
obedience. 

" 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 



107 

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 



109 

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 



110 

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 
early evening. 

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." 



CHAPTER XII. 

BLUE-FISHING. 

>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 
111 



112 

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. 



BLUE-FISHING. 113 

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 



114 

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 



BLUE-FISHING. 115 

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 
Point. 

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 



116 

out thirty or forty feet and reeled off a hundred feet 
of line. 

"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 



BLUE-FISHING. 117 

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 



118 

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 



BLUE-FISHING. 121 

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." 



CHAPTER XIII. 



AT WATJWINET. 



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. 
122 



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 
northern peninsula. 

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 



124 

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 
'Sconset ! 

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 
wholly consume. 

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- 



128 

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 
Wauwinet. 

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 
raised. 

" Well, lads, how are you getting on ? " was asked, 
when the greetings and surprises and rapid taKdng 
were over. 

" 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 
sleep much." 

" 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 



132 

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 
Wauwinet. 



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." 



CHAPTER XIV 

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 
134 



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 
ocean. 

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, 



138 

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. 



CHAPTER XV. 

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 
139 



140 

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 
itself. 



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 
thought. 

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 



144 

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. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

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 
undertake. 

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 
146 



147 

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- 
duction. 

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 



us 

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 



149 

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 



150 

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 
ours ! 



CHAPTER XVII. 

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 
151 



152 

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. 



153 

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 
them. 

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 



154 

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 ! 



CHAPTEE XYIII. 

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 
155 



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 



158 

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 
there. 

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 
boys." 

"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," 



160 

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 ! " 



The End. 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR, 



AND 

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."—/;' 
Teachers Monthly, 



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. 



wm 

XAXTUCKKT, 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 

BOSTON#NE¥YORK 

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. 

oc:e.^:lt house? 

I^AISfrXJCKJEX, MASS. 

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 

IN THE 

Travelers' Life anfl Accident Co., 

HARTFORD, CONN. 

It provides indemnity for fatal or disabling injuries by Accidents 
happening in 

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 

$4,250,000. 

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 




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