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Title: Baddeck, and That Sort of Thing
Author: Warner, Charles Dudley
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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BADDECK AND THAT SORT OF THING

By Charles Dudley Warner



PREFACE

TO JOSEPH H. TWICHELL

It would be unfair to hold you responsible for these light sketches of a
summer trip, which are now gathered into this little volume in response
to the usual demand in such cases; yet you cannot escape altogether. For
it was you who first taught me to say the name Baddeck; it was you who
showed me its position on the map, and a seductive letter from a home
missionary on Cape Breton Island, in relation to the abundance of trout
and salmon in his field of labor. That missionary, you may remember, we
never found, nor did we see his tackle; but I have no reason to believe
that he does not enjoy good fishing in the right season. You understand
the duties of a home missionary much better than I do, and you know
whether he would be likely to let a couple of strangers into the best
part of his preserve.

But I am free to admit that after our expedition was started you
speedily relieved yourself of all responsibility for it, and turned
it over to your comrade with a profound geographical indifference; you
would as readily have gone to Baddeck by Nova Zembla as by Nova Scotia.
The flight over the latter island was, you knew, however, no part of our
original plan, and you were not obliged to take any interest in it.
You know that our design was to slip rapidly down, by the back way of
Northumberland Sound, to the Bras d’Or, and spend a week fishing there;
and that the greater part of this journey here imperfectly described
is not really ours, but was put upon us by fate and by the peculiar
arrangement of provincial travel.

It would have been easy after our return to have made up from libraries
a most engaging description of the Provinces, mixing it with historical,
legendary, botanical, geographical, and ethnological information, and
seasoning it with adventure from your glowing imagination. But it
seemed to me that it would be a more honest contribution if our account
contained only what we saw, in our rapid travel; for I have a theory
that any addition to the great body of print, however insignificant
it may be, has a value in proportion to its originality and
individuality,--however slight either is,--and very little value if it
is a compilation of the observations of others. In this case I know
how slight the value is; and I can only hope that as the trip was very
entertaining to us, the record of it may not be wholly unentertaining to
those of like tastes.

Of one thing, my dear friend, I am certain: if the readers of this
little journey could have during its persual the companionship that the
writer had when it was made, they would think it altogether delightful.
There is no pleasure comparable to that of going about the world, in
pleasant weather, with a good comrade, if the mind is distracted neither
by care, nor ambition, nor the greed of gain. The delight there is
in seeing things, without any hope of pecuniary profit from them! We
certainly enjoyed that inward peace which the philosopher associates
with the absence of desire for money. For, as Plato says in the Phaedo,
“whence come wars and fightings and factions? whence but from the
body and the lusts of the body? For wars are occasioned by the love of
money.” So also are the majority of the anxieties of life. We left
these behind when we went into the Provinces with no design of acquiring
anything there. I hope it may be my fortune to travel further with you
in this fair world, under similar circumstances.

NOOK FARM, HARTFORD, April 10, 1874.

C. D. W.



BADDECK AND THAT SORT OF THING



I

   “Ay, now I am in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home,
   I was in a better place; but travellers must be content.”
                                --TOUCHSTONE.

Two comrades and travelers, who sought a better country than the United
States in the month of August, found themselves one evening in apparent
possession of the ancient town of Boston.

The shops were closed at early candle-light; the fashionable inhabitants
had retired into the country, or into the second-story-back, of their
princely residences, and even an air of tender gloom settled upon the
Common. The streets were almost empty, and one passed into the burnt
district, where the scarred ruins and the uplifting piles of new brick
and stone spread abroad under the flooding light of a full moon like
another Pompeii, without any increase in his feeling of tranquil
seclusion. Even the news-offices had put up their shutters, and a
confiding stranger could nowhere buy a guide-book to help his wandering
feet about the reposeful city, or to show him how to get out of it.
There was, to be sure, a cheerful tinkle of horse-car bells in the air,
and in the creeping vehicles which created this levity of sound were a
few lonesome passengers on their way to Scollay’s Square; but the two
travelers, not having well-regulated minds, had no desire to go there.
What would have become of Boston if the great fire had reached this
sacred point of pilgrimage no merely human mind can imagine. Without
it, I suppose the horse-cars would go continually round and round,
never stopping, until the cars fell away piecemeal on the track, and
the horses collapsed into a mere mass of bones and harness, and the
brown-covered books from the Public Library, in the hands of the fading
virgins who carried them, had accumulated fines to an incalculable
amount.

Boston, notwithstanding its partial destruction by fire, is still a good
place to start from. When one meditates an excursion into an unknown
and perhaps perilous land, where the flag will not protect him and
the greenback will only partially support him, he likes to steady and
tranquilize his mind by a peaceful halt and a serene start. So we--for
the intelligent reader has already identified us with the two travelers
resolved to spend the last night, before beginning our journey, in the
quiet of a Boston hotel. Some people go into the country for quiet: we
knew better. The country is no place for sleep. The general absence of
sound which prevails at night is only a sort of background which brings
out more vividly the special and unexpected disturbances which are
suddenly sprung upon the restless listener. There are a thousand
pokerish noises that no one can account for, which excite the nerves to
acute watchfulness.

It is still early, and one is beginning to be lulled by the frogs and
the crickets, when the faint rattle of a drum is heard,--just a few
preliminary taps. But the soul takes alarm, and well it may, for a roll
follows, and then a rub-a-dub-dub, and the farmer’s boy who is handling
the sticks and pounding the distended skin in a neighboring horse-shed
begins to pour out his patriotism in that unending repetition of
rub-a-dub-dub which is supposed to represent love of country in the
young. When the boy is tired out and quits the field, the faithful
watch-dog opens out upon the stilly night. He is the guardian of his
master’s slumbers. The howls of the faithful creature are answered
by barks and yelps from all the farmhouses for a mile around, and
exceedingly poor barking it usually is, until all the serenity of the
night is torn to shreds. This is, however, only the opening of the
orchestra. The cocks wake up if there is the faintest moonshine and
begin an antiphonal service between responsive barn-yards. It is not
the clear clarion of chanticleer that is heard in the morn of English
poetry, but a harsh chorus of cracked voices, hoarse and abortive
attempts, squawks of young experimenters, and some indescribable thing
besides, for I believe even the hens crow in these days. Distracting
as all this is, however, happy is the man who does not hear a goat
lamenting in the night. The goat is the most exasperating of the animal
creation. He cries like a deserted baby, but he does it without any
regularity. One can accustom himself to any expression of suffering that
is regular. The annoyance of the goat is in the dreadful waiting for
the uncertain sound of the next wavering bleat. It is the fearful
expectation of that, mingled with the faint hope that the last was the
last, that aggravates the tossing listener until he has murder in his
heart. He longs for daylight, hoping that the voices of the night will
then cease, and that sleep will come with the blessed morning. But he
has forgotten the birds, who at the first streak of gray in the east
have assembled in the trees near his chamber-window, and keep up for an
hour the most rasping dissonance,--an orchestra in which each artist
is tuning his instrument, setting it in a different key and to play
a different tune: each bird recalls a different tune, and none sings
“Annie Laurie,”--to pervert Bayard Taylor’s song.

Give us the quiet of a city on the night before a journey. As we
mounted skyward in our hotel, and went to bed in a serene altitude, we
congratulated ourselves upon a reposeful night. It began well. But as we
sank into the first doze, we were startled by a sudden crash. Was it an
earthquake, or another fire? Were the neighboring buildings all tumbling
in upon us, or had a bomb fallen into the neighboring crockery-store? It
was the suddenness of the onset that startled us, for we soon perceived
that it began with the clash of cymbals, the pounding of drums, and the
blaring of dreadful brass. It was somebody’s idea of music. It opened
without warning. The men composing the band of brass must have stolen
silently into the alley about the sleeping hotel, and burst into the
clamor of a rattling quickstep, on purpose. The horrible sound thus
suddenly let loose had no chance of escape; it bounded back from wall
to wall, like the clapping of boards in a tunnel, rattling windows and
stunning all cars, in a vain attempt to get out over the roofs. But such
music does not go up. What could have been the intention of this assault
we could not conjecture. It was a time of profound peace through the
country; we had ordered no spontaneous serenade, if it was a serenade.
Perhaps the Boston bands have that habit of going into an alley and
disciplining their nerves by letting out a tune too big for the alley,
and taking the shock of its reverberation. It may be well enough for the
band, but many a poor sinner in the hotel that night must have thought
the judgment day had sprung upon him. Perhaps the band had some remorse,
for by and by it leaked out of the alley, in humble, apologetic retreat,
as if somebody had thrown something at it from the sixth-story window,
softly breathing as it retired the notes of “Fair Harvard.”

The band had scarcely departed for some other haunt of slumber and
weariness, when the notes of singing floated up that prolific alley,
like the sweet tenor voice of one bewailing the prohibitory movement;
and for an hour or more a succession of young bacchanals, who were
evidently wandering about in search of the Maine Law, lifted up their
voices in song. Boston seems to be full of good singers; but they will
ruin their voices by this night exercise, and so the city will cease
to be attractive to travelers who would like to sleep there. But this
entertainment did not last the night out.

It stopped just before the hotel porter began to come around to rouse
the travelers who had said the night before that they wanted to be
awakened. In all well-regulated hotels this process begins at two
o’clock and keeps up till seven. If the porter is at all faithful, he
wakes up everybody in the house; if he is a shirk, he only rouses the
wrong people. We treated the pounding of the porter on our door with
silent contempt. At the next door he had better luck. Pound, pound. An
angry voice, “What do you want?”

“Time to take the train, sir.”

“Not going to take any train.”

“Ain’t your name Smith?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Smith”--

“I left no order to be called.” (Indistinct grumbling from Smith’s
room.)

Porter is heard shuffling slowly off down the passage. In a little while
he returns to Smith’s door, evidently not satisfied in his mind. Rap,
rap, rap!

“Well, what now?”

“What’s your initials? A. T.; clear out!”

And the porter shambles away again in his slippers, grumbling something
about a mistake. The idea of waking a man up in the middle of the night
to ask him his “initials” was ridiculous enough to banish sleep for
another hour. A person named Smith, when he travels, should leave his
initials outside the door with his boots.

Refreshed by this reposeful night, and eager to exchange the stagnation
of the shore for the tumult of the ocean, we departed next morning for
Baddeck by the most direct route. This we found, by diligent study
of fascinating prospectuses of travel, to be by the boats of the
International Steamship Company; and when, at eight o’clock in the
morning, we stepped aboard one of them from Commercial Wharf, we
felt that half our journey and the most perplexing part of it was
accomplished. We had put ourselves upon a great line of travel, and
had only to resign ourselves to its flow in order to reach the desired
haven. The agent at the wharf assured us that it was not necessary to
buy through tickets to Baddeck,--he spoke of it as if it were as easy a
place to find as Swampscott,--it was a conspicuous name on the cards of
the company, we should go right on from St. John without difficulty.
The easy familiarity of this official with Baddeck, in short, made
us ashamed to exhibit any anxiety about its situation or the means of
approach to it. Subsequent experience led us to believe that the only
man in the world, out of Baddeck, who knew anything about it lives in
Boston, and sells tickets to it, or rather towards it.

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning
of it, when the traveler is settled simply as to his destination,
and commits himself to his unknown fate and all the anticipations of
adventure before him. We experienced this pleasure as we ascended to the
deck of the steamboat and snuffed the fresh air of Boston Harbor. What
a beautiful harbor it is, everybody says, with its irregularly indented
shores and its islands. Being strangers, we want to know the names of
the islands, and to have Fort Warren, which has a national reputation,
pointed out. As usual on a steamboat, no one is certain about the
names, and the little geographical knowledge we have is soon hopelessly
confused. We make out South Boston very plainly: a tourist is looking
at its warehouses through his opera-glass, and telling his boy about a
recent fire there. We find out afterwards that it was East Boston. We
pass to the stern of the boat for a last look at Boston itself; and
while there we have the pleasure of showing inquirers the Monument and
the State House. We do this with easy familiarity; but where there
are so many tall factory chimneys, it is not so easy to point out the
Monument as one may think.

The day is simply delicious, when we get away from the unozoned air of
the land. The sky is cloudless, and the water sparkles like the top of
a glass of champagne. We intend by and by to sit down and look at it
for half a day, basking in the sunshine and pleasing ourselves with the
shifting and dancing of the waves. Now we are busy running about from
side to side to see the islands, Governor’s, Castle, Long, Deer, and the
others. When, at length, we find Fort Warren, it is not nearly so grim
and gloomy as we had expected, and is rather a pleasure-place than a
prison in appearance. We are conscious, however, of a patriotic emotion
as we pass its green turf and peeping guns. Leaving on our right
Lovell’s Island and the Great and Outer Brewster, we stand away north
along the jagged Massachusetts shore. These outer islands look cold and
wind-swept even in summer, and have a hardness of outline which is very
far from the aspect of summer isles in summer seas. They are too low and
bare for beauty, and all the coast is of the most retiring and humble
description. Nature makes some compensation for this lowness by an
eccentricity of indentation which looks very picturesque on the map,
and sometimes striking, as where Lynn stretches out a slender arm with
knobby Nahant at the end, like a New Zealand war club. We sit and watch
this shore as we glide by with a placid delight. Its curves and low
promontories are getting to be speckled with villages and dwellings,
like the shores of the Bay of Naples; we see the white spires, the
summer cottages of wealth, the brown farmhouses with an occasional
orchard, the gleam of a white beach, and now and then the flag of some
many-piazzaed hotel. The sunlight is the glory of it all; it must have
quite another attraction--that of melancholy--under a gray sky and with
a lead-colored water foreground.

There was not much on the steamboat to distract our attention from the
study of physical geography. All the fashionable travelers had gone on
the previous boat or were waiting for the next one. The passengers
were mostly people who belonged in the Provinces and had the listless
provincial air, with a Boston commercial traveler or two, and a few
gentlemen from the republic of Ireland, dressed in their uncomfortable
Sunday clothes. If any accident should happen to the boat, it was
doubtful if there were persons on board who could draw up and pass the
proper resolutions of thanks to the officers. I heard one of these Irish
gentlemen, whose satin vest was insufficient to repress the mountainous
protuberance of his shirt-bosom, enlightening an admiring friend as to
his idiosyncrasies. It appeared that he was that sort of a man that, if
a man wanted anything of him, he had only to speak for it “wunst;” and
that one of his peculiarities was an instant response of the deltoid
muscle to the brain, though he did not express it in that language. He
went on to explain to his auditor that he was so constituted physically
that whenever he saw a fight, no matter whose property it was, he lost
all control of himself. This sort of confidence poured out to a single
friend, in a retired place on the guard of the boat, in an unexcited
tone, was evidence of the man’s simplicity and sincerity. The very act
of traveling, I have noticed, seems to open a man’s heart, so that he
will impart to a chance acquaintance his losses, his diseases, his table
preferences, his disappointments in love or in politics, and his most
secret hopes. One sees everywhere this beautiful human trait, this
craving for sympathy. There was the old lady, in the antique bonnet and
plain cotton gloves, who got aboard the express train at a way-station
on the Connecticut River Road. She wanted to go, let us say, to Peak’s
Four Corners. It seemed that the train did not usually stop there, but
it appeared afterwards that the obliging conductor had told her to get
aboard and he would let her off at Peak’s. When she stepped into the
car, in a flustered condition, carrying her large bandbox, she began to
ask all the passengers, in turn, if this was the right train, and if
it stopped at Peak’s. The information she received was various, but the
weight of it was discouraging, and some of the passengers urged her to
get off without delay, before the train should start. The poor woman
got off, and pretty soon came back again, sent by the conductor; but her
mind was not settled, for she repeated her questions to every person
who passed her seat, and their answers still more discomposed her. “Sit
perfectly still,” said the conductor, when he came by. “You must get
out and wait for a way train,” said the passengers, who knew. In this
confusion, the train moved off, just as the old lady had about made
up her mind to quit the car, when her distraction was completed by the
discovery that her hair trunk was not on board. She saw it standing on
the open platform, as we passed, and after one look of terror, and a
dash at the window, she subsided into her seat, grasping her bandbox,
with a vacant look of utter despair. Fate now seemed to have done its
worst, and she was resigned to it. I am sure it was no mere curiosity,
but a desire to be of service, that led me to approach her and say,
“Madam, where are you going?”

“The Lord only knows,” was the utterly candid response; but then,
forgetting everything in her last misfortune and impelled to a burst of
confidence, she began to tell me her troubles. She informed me that
her youngest daughter was about to be married, and that all her
wedding-clothes and all her summer clothes were in that trunk; and as
she said this she gave a glance out of the window as if she hoped it
might be following her. What would become of them all now, all brand
new, she did n’t know, nor what would become of her or her daughter. And
then she told me, article by article and piece by piece, all that that
trunk contained, the very names of which had an unfamiliar sound in a
railway-car, and how many sets and pairs there were of each. It seemed
to be a relief to the old lady to make public this catalogue which
filled all her mind; and there was a pathos in the revelation that
I cannot convey in words. And though I am compelled, by way of
illustration, to give this incident, no bribery or torture shall ever
extract from me a statement of the contents of that hair trunk.

We were now passing Nahant, and we should have seen Longfellow’s cottage
and the waves beating on the rocks before it, if we had been near
enough. As it was, we could only faintly distinguish the headland and
note the white beach of Lynn. The fact is, that in travel one is almost
as much dependent upon imagination and memory as he is at home. Somehow,
we seldom get near enough to anything. The interest of all this coast
which we had come to inspect was mainly literary and historical. And no
country is of much interest until legends and poetry have draped it
in hues that mere nature cannot produce. We looked at Nahant for
Longfellow’s sake; we strained our eyes to make out Marblehead on
account of Whittier’s ballad; we scrutinized the entrance to Salem
Harbor because a genius once sat in its decaying custom-house and made
of it a throne of the imagination. Upon this low shore line, which lies
blinking in the midday sun, the waves of history have beaten for two
centuries and a half, and romance has had time to grow there. Out of
any of these coves might have sailed Sir Patrick Spens “to Noroway, to
Noroway,”

   “They hadna sailed upon the sea
   A day but barely three,

   Till loud and boisterous grew the wind,
   And gurly grew the sea.”

The sea was anything but gurly now; it lay idle and shining in an August
holiday. It seemed as if we could sit all day and watch the suggestive
shore and dream about it. But we could not. No man, and few women, can
sit all day on those little round penitential stools that the company
provide for the discomfort of their passengers. There is no scenery in
the world that can be enjoyed from one of those stools. And when the
traveler is at sea, with the land failing away in his horizon, and has
to create his own scenery by an effort of the imagination, these stools
are no assistance to him. The imagination, when one is sitting, will
not work unless the back is supported. Besides, it began to be cold;
notwithstanding the shiny, specious appearance of things, it was cold,
except in a sheltered nook or two where the sun beat. This was nothing
to be complained of by persons who had left the parching land in
order to get cool. They knew that there would be a wind and a draught
everywhere, and that they would be occupied nearly all the time in
moving the little stools about to get out of the wind, or out of the
sun, or out of something that is inherent in a steamboat. Most people
enjoy riding on a steamboat, shaking and trembling and chow-chowing
along in pleasant weather out of sight of land; and they do not feel any
ennui, as may be inferred from the intense excitement which seizes them
when a poor porpoise leaps from the water half a mile away. “Did you see
the porpoise?” makes conversation for an hour. On our steamboat there
was a man who said he saw a whale, saw him just as plain, off to the
east, come up to blow; appeared to be a young one. I wonder where all
these men come from who always see a whale. I never was on a sea-steamer
yet that there was not one of these men.

We sailed from Boston Harbor straight for Cape Ann, and passed close by
the twin lighthouses of Thacher, so near that we could see the lanterns
and the stone gardens, and the young barbarians of Thacher all at play;
and then we bore away, straight over the trackless Atlantic, across that
part of the map where the title and the publisher’s name are usually
printed, for the foreign city of St. John. It was after we passed these
lighthouses that we did n’t see the whale, and began to regret the hard
fate that took us away from a view of the Isles of Shoals. I am not
tempted to introduce them into this sketch, much as its surface needs
their romantic color, for truth is stronger in me than the love of
giving a deceitful pleasure. There will be nothing in this record that
we did not see, or might not have seen. For instance, it might not be
wrong to describe a coast, a town, or an island that we passed while we
were performing our morning toilets in our staterooms. The traveler
owes a duty to his readers, and if he is now and then too weary or too
indifferent to go out from the cabin to survey a prosperous village
where a landing is made, he has no right to cause the reader to suffer
by his indolence. He should describe the village.

I had intended to describe the Maine coast, which is as fascinating
on the map as that of Norway. We had all the feelings appropriate to
nearness to it, but we couldn’t see it. Before we came abreast of
it night had settled down, and there was around us only a gray and
melancholy waste of salt water. To be sure it was a lovely night, with a
young moon in its sky,

   “I saw the new moon late yestreen
    Wi’ the auld moon in her arms,”

and we kept an anxious lookout for the Maine hills that push so boldly
down into the sea. At length we saw them,--faint, dusky shadows in the
horizon, looming up in an ashy color and with a most poetical light.
We made out clearly Mt. Desert, and felt repaid for our journey by the
sight of this famous island, even at such a distance. I pointed out the
hills to the man at the wheel, and asked if we should go any nearer to
Mt. Desert.

“Them!” said he, with the merited contempt which officials in this
country have for inquisitive travelers,--“them’s Camden Hills. You won’t
see Mt. Desert till midnight, and then you won’t.”

One always likes to weave in a little romance with summer travel on a
steamboat; and we came aboard this one with the purpose and the language
to do so. But there was an absolute want of material, that would hardly
be credited if we went into details. The first meeting of the passengers
at the dinner-table revealed it. There is a kind of female plainness
which is pathetic, and many persons can truly say that to them it is
homelike; and there are vulgarities of manner that are interesting; and
there are peculiarities, pleasant or the reverse, which attract one’s
attention: but there was absolutely nothing of this sort on our boat.
The female passengers were all neutrals, incapable, I should say,
of making any impression whatever even under the most favorable
circumstances. They were probably women of the Provinces, and took
their neutral tint from the foggy land they inhabit, which is neither a
republic nor a monarchy, but merely a languid expectation of something
undefined. My comrade was disposed to resent the dearth of beauty,
not only on this vessel but throughout the Provinces generally,--a
resentment that could be shown to be unjust, for this was evidently not
the season for beauty in these lands, and it was probably a bad year for
it. Nor should an American of the United States be forward to set up
his standard of taste in such matters; neither in New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, nor Cape Breton have I heard the inhabitants complain of the
plainness of the women.

On such a night two lovers might have been seen, but not on our boat,
leaning over the taffrail,--if that is the name of the fence around the
cabin-deck, looking at the moon in the western sky and the long track of
light in the steamer’s wake with unutterable tenderness. For the sea was
perfectly smooth, so smooth as not to interfere with the most perfect
tenderness of feeling; and the vessel forged ahead under the stars of
the soft night with an adventurous freedom that almost concealed the
commercial nature of her mission. It seemed--this voyaging through the
sparkling water, under the scintillating heavens, this resolute pushing
into the opening splendors of night--like a pleasure trip. “It is the
witching hour of half past ten,” said my comrade, “let us turn in.” (The
reader will notice the consideration for her feelings which has omitted
the usual description of “a sunset at sea.”)

When we looked from our state-room window in the morning we saw land.
We were passing within a stone’s throw of a pale-green and rather
cold-looking coast, with few trees or other evidences of fertile soil.
Upon going out I found that we were in the harbor of Eastport. I
found also the usual tourist who had been up, shivering in his winter
overcoat, since four o’clock. He described to me the magnificent
sunrise, and the lifting of the fog from islands and capes, in language
that made me rejoice that he had seen it. He knew all about the harbor.
That wooden town at the foot of it, with the white spire, was Lubec;
that wooden town we were approaching was Eastport. The long island
stretching clear across the harbor was Campobello. We had been obliged
to go round it, a dozen miles out of our way, to get in, because the
tide was in such a stage that we could not enter by the Lubec Channel.
We had been obliged to enter an American harbor by British waters.

We approached Eastport with a great deal of curiosity and considerable
respect. It had been one of the cities of the imagination. Lying in the
far east of our great territory, a military and even a sort of naval
station, a conspicuous name on the map, prominent in boundary disputes
and in war operations, frequent in telegraphic dispatches,--we had
imagined it a solid city, with some Oriental, if decayed, peculiarity, a
port of trade and commerce. The tourist informed me that Eastport looked
very well at a distance, with the sun shining on its white houses. When
we landed at its wooden dock we saw that it consisted of a few piles of
lumber, a sprinkling of small cheap houses along a sidehill, a big hotel
with a flag-staff, and a very peaceful looking arsenal. It is doubtless
a very enterprising and deserving city, but its aspect that morning
was that of cheapness, newness, and stagnation, with no compensating
picturesqueness. White paint always looks chilly under a gray sky and on
naked hills. Even in hot August the place seemed bleak. The tourist, who
went ashore with a view to breakfast, said that it would be a good place
to stay in and go a-fishing and picnicking on Campobello Island. It has
another advantage for the wicked over other Maine towns. Owing to the
contiguity of British territory, the Maine Law is constantly evaded, in
spirit. The thirsty citizen or sailor has only to step into a boat
and give it a shove or two across the narrow stream that separates the
United States from Deer Island and land, when he can ruin his breath,
and return before he is missed.

This might be a cause of war with, England, but it is not the most
serious grievance here. The possession by the British of the island of
Campobello is an insufferable menace and impertinence. I write with
the full knowledge of what war is. We ought to instantly dislodge the
British from Campobello. It entirely shuts up and commands our harbor,
one of our chief Eastern harbors and war stations, where we keep a flag
and cannon and some soldiers, and where the customs officers look out
for smuggling. There is no way to get into our own harbor, except in
favorable conditions of the tide, without begging the courtesy of a
passage through British waters. Why is England permitted to stretch
along down our coast in this straggling and inquisitive manner? She
might almost as well own Long Island. It was impossible to prevent our
cheeks mantling with shame as we thought of this, and saw ourselves,
free American citizens, land-locked by alien soil in our own harbor.

We ought to have war, if war is necessary to possess Campobello and Deer
Islands; or else we ought to give the British Eastport. I am not sure
but the latter would be the better course.

With this war spirit in our hearts, we sailed away into the British
waters of the Bay of Fundy, but keeping all the morning so close to the
New Brunswick shore that we could see there was nothing on it; that is,
nothing that would make one wish to land. And yet the best part of going
to sea is keeping close to the shore, however tame it may be, if the
weather is pleasant. A pretty bay now and then, a rocky cove with
scant foliage, a lighthouse, a rude cabin, a level land, monotonous and
without noble forests,--this was New Brunswick as we coasted along it
under the most favorable circumstances. But we were advancing into the
Bay of Fundy; and my comrade, who had been brought up on its high tides
in the district school, was on the lookout for this phenomenon. The very
name of Fundy is stimulating to the imagination, amid the geographical
wastes of youth, and the young fancy reaches out to its tides with
an enthusiasm that is given only to Fingal’s Cave and other pictorial
wonders of the text-book. I am sure the district schools would become
what they are not now, if the geographers would make the other parts
of the globe as attractive as the sonorous Bay of Fundy. The recitation
about that is always an easy one; there is a lusty pleasure in the mere
shouting out of the name, as if the speaking it were an innocent sort of
swearing. From the Bay of Fundy the rivers run uphill half the time,
and the tides are from forty to ninety feet high. For myself, I confess
that, in my imagination, I used to see the tides of this bay go
stalking into the land like gigantic waterspouts; or, when I was better
instructed, I could see them advancing on the coast like a solid wall
of masonry eighty feet high. “Where,” we said, as we came easily,
and neither uphill nor downhill, into the pleasant harbor of St.
John,---“where are the tides of our youth?”

They were probably out, for when we came to the land we walked out upon
the foot of a sloping platform that ran into the water by the side of
the piles of the dock, which stood up naked and blackened high in the
air. It is not the purpose of this paper to describe St. John, nor to
dwell upon its picturesque situation. As one approaches it from the
harbor it gives a promise which its rather shabby streets, decaying
houses, and steep plank sidewalks do not keep. A city set on a hill,
with flags flying from a roof here and there, and a few shining spires
and walls glistening in the sun, always looks well at a distance. St.
John is extravagant in the matter of flagstaffs; almost every well-to-do
citizen seems to have one on his premises, as a sort of vent for his
loyalty, I presume. It is a good fashion, at any rate, and its more
general adoption by us would add to the gayety of our cities when we
celebrate the birthday of the President. St. John is built on a steep
sidehill, from which it would be in danger of sliding off, if its houses
were not mortised into the solid rock. This makes the house-foundations
secure, but the labor of blasting out streets is considerable. We note
these things complacently as we toil in the sun up the hill to the
Victoria Hotel, which stands well up on the backbone of the ridge, and
from the upper windows of which we have a fine view of the harbor,
and of the hill opposite, above Carleton, where there is the brokenly
truncated ruin of a round stone tower. This tower was one of the first
things that caught our eyes as we entered the harbor. It gave an antique
picturesqueness to the landscape which it entirely wanted without this.
Round stone towers are not so common in this world that we can afford to
be indifferent to them. This is called a Martello tower, but I could
not learn who built it. I could not understand the indifference, almost
amounting to contempt, of the citizens of St. John in regard to this
their only piece of curious antiquity. “It is nothing but the ruins of
an old fort,” they said; “you can see it as well from here as by going
there.” It was, however, the one thing at St. John I was determined to
see. But we never got any nearer to it than the ferry-landing. Want of
time and the vis inertia of the place were against us. And now, as I
think of that tower and its perhaps mysterious origin, I have a longing
for it that the possession of nothing else in the Provinces could
satisfy.

But it must not be forgotten that we were on our way to Baddeck; that
the whole purpose of the journey was to reach Baddeck; that St. John was
only an incident in the trip; that any information about St. John, which
is here thrown in or mercifully withheld, is entirely gratuitous, and is
not taken into account in the price the reader pays for this volume. But
if any one wants to know what sort of a place St. John is, we can tell
him: it is the sort of a place that if you get into it after eight
o’clock on Wednesday morning, you cannot get out of it in any direction
until Thursday morning at eight o’clock, unless you want to smuggle
goods on the night train to Bangor. It was eleven o’clock Wednesday
forenoon when we arrived at St. John. The Intercolonial railway train
had gone to Shediac; it had gone also on its roundabout Moncton,
Missaquat River, Truro, Stewiack, and Shubenacadie way to Halifax; the
boat had gone to Digby Gut and Annapolis to catch the train that way for
Halifax; the boat had gone up the river to Frederick, the capital. We
could go to none of these places till the next day. We had no desire to
go to Frederick, but we made the fact that we were cut off from it an
addition to our injury. The people of St. John have this peculiarity:
they never start to go anywhere except early in the morning.

The reader to whom time is nothing does not yet appreciate the annoyance
of our situation. Our time was strictly limited. The active world is
so constituted that it could not spare us more than two weeks. We must
reach Baddeck Saturday night or never. To go home without seeing Baddeck
was simply intolerable. Had we not told everybody that we were going to
Baddeck? Now, if we had gone to Shediac in the train that left St. John
that morning, we should have taken the steamboat that would have carried
us to Port Hawkesbury, whence a stage connected with a steamboat on the
Bras d’Or, which (with all this profusion of relative pronouns) would
land us at Baddeck on Friday. How many times had we been over this route
on the map and the prospectus of travel! And now, what a delusion it
seemed! There would not another boat leave Shediac on this route till
the following Tuesday,--quite too late for our purpose. The reader sees
where we were, and will be prepared, if he has a map (and any feelings),
to appreciate the masterly strategy that followed.



II

     During the pilgrimage everything does not suit the tastes of
     the pilgrim.--TURKISH PROVERB.

One seeking Baddeck, as a possession, would not like to be detained a
prisoner even in Eden,--much less in St. John, which is unlike Eden in
several important respects. The tree of knowledge does not grow there,
for one thing; at least St. John’s ignorance of Baddeck amounts to a
feature. This encountered us everywhere. So dense was this ignorance,
that we, whose only knowledge of the desired place was obtained from
the prospectus of travel, came to regard ourselves as missionaries of
geographical information in this dark provincial city.

The clerk at the Victoria was not unwilling to help us on our journey,
but if he could have had his way, we would have gone to a place on
Prince Edward Island which used to be called Bedeque, but is now named
Summerside, in the hope of attracting summer visitors. As to Cape
Breton, he said the agent of the Intercolonial could tell us all about
that, and put us on the route. We repaired to the agent. The kindness of
this person dwells in our memory. He entered at once into our longings
and perplexities. He produced his maps and time-tables, and showed us
clearly what we already knew. The Port Hawkesbury steamboat from Shediac
for that week had gone, to be sure, but we could take one of another
line which would leave us at Pictou, whence we could take another across
to Port Hood, on Cape Breton. This looked fair, until we showed the
agent that there was no steamer to Port Hood.

“Ah, then you can go another way. You can take the Intercolonial railway
round to Pictou, catch the steamer for Port Hawkesbury, connect with the
steamer on the Bras d’Or, and you are all right.”

So it would seem. It was a most obliging agent; and it took us half an
hour to convince him that the train would reach Pictou half a day too
late for the steamer, that no other boat would leave Pictou for Cape
Breton that week, and that even if we could reach the Bras d’Or, we
should have no means of crossing it, except by swimming. The perplexed
agent thereupon referred us to Mr. Brown, a shipper on the wharf, who
knew all about Cape Breton, and could tell us exactly how to get there.
It is needless to say that a weight was taken off our minds. We pinned
our faith to Brown, and sought him in his warehouse. Brown was a prompt
business man, and a traveler, and would know every route and every
conveyance from Nova Scotia to Cape Breton.

Mr. Brown was not in. He never is in. His store is a rusty warehouse,
low and musty, piled full of boxes of soap and candles and dried fish,
with a little glass cubby in one corner, where a thin clerk sits at a
high desk, like a spider in his web. Perhaps he is a spider, for the
cubby is swarming with flies, whose hum is the only noise of traffic;
the glass of the window-sash has not been washed since it was put in
apparently. The clerk is not writing, and has evidently no other use for
his steel pen than spearing flies. Brown is out, says this young votary
of commerce, and will not be in till half past five. We remark upon the
fact that nobody ever is “in” these dingy warehouses, wonder when the
business is done, and go out into the street to wait for Brown.

In front of the store is a dray, its horse fast-asleep, and waiting
for the revival of commerce. The travelers note that the dray is of a
peculiar construction, the body being dropped down from the axles so
as nearly to touch the ground,--a great convenience in loading and
unloading; they propose to introduce it into their native land. The
dray is probably waiting for the tide to come in. In the deep slip lie a
dozen helpless vessels, coasting schooners mostly, tipped on their beam
ends in the mud, or propped up by side-pieces as if they were built for
land as well as for water. At the end of the wharf is a long English
steamboat unloading railroad iron, which will return to the Clyde full
of Nova Scotia coal. We sit down on the dock, where the fresh sea-breeze
comes up the harbor, watch the lazily swinging crane on the vessel,
and meditate upon the greatness of England and the peacefulness of the
drowsy after noon. One’s feeling of rest is never complete--unless he
can see somebody else at work,--but the labor must be without haste, as
it is in the Provinces.

While waiting for Brown, we had leisure to explore the shops of King’s
Street, and to climb up to the grand triumphal arch which stands on top
of the hill and guards the entrance to King’s Square.

Of the shops for dry-goods I have nothing to say, for they tempt the
unwary American to violate the revenue laws of his country; but he may
safely go into the book-shops. The literature which is displayed in the
windows and on the counters has lost that freshness which it once may
have had, and is, in fact, if one must use the term, fly-specked, like
the cakes in the grocery windows on the side streets. There are old
illustrated newspapers from the States, cheap novels from the same, and
the flashy covers of the London and Edinburgh sixpenny editions. But
this is the dull season for literature, we reflect.

It will always be matter of regret to us that we climbed up to the
triumphal arch, which appeared so noble in the distance, with the trees
behind it. For when we reached it, we found that it was built of wood,
painted and sanded, and in a shocking state of decay; and the grove to
which it admitted us was only a scant assemblage of sickly locust-trees,
which seemed to be tired of battling with the unfavorable climate, and
had, in fact, already retired from the business of ornamental shade
trees. Adjoining this square is an ancient cemetery, the surface of
which has decayed in sympathy with the mouldering remains it covers, and
is quite a model in this respect. I have called this cemetery ancient,
but it may not be so, for its air of decay is thoroughly modern, and
neglect, and not years, appears to have made it the melancholy place of
repose it is. Whether it is the fashionable and favorite resort of the
dead of the city we did not learn, but there were some old men sitting
in its damp shades, and the nurses appeared to make it a rendezvous for
their baby-carriages,--a cheerful place to bring up children in, and to
familiarize their infant minds with the fleeting nature of provincial
life. The park and burying-ground, it is scarcely necessary to say,
added greatly to the feeling of repose which stole over us on this sunny
day. And they made us long for Brown and his information about Baddeck.

But Mr. Brown, when found, did not know as much as the agent. He had
been in Nova Scotia; he had never been in Cape Breton; but he presumed
we would find no difficulty in reaching Baddeck by so and so, and so and
so. We consumed valuable time in convincing Brown that his directions
to us were impracticable and valueless, and then he referred us to Mr.
Cope. An interview with Mr. Cope discouraged us; we found that we
were imparting everywhere more geographical information than we were
receiving, and as our own stock was small, we concluded that we should
be unable to enlighten all the inhabitants of St. John upon the subject
of Baddeck before we ran out. Returning to the hotel, and taking our
destiny into our own hands, we resolved upon a bold stroke.

But to return for a moment to Brown. I feel that Brown has been let off
too easily in the above paragraph. His conduct, to say the truth, was
not such as we expected of a man in whom we had put our entire faith for
half a day,--a long while to trust anybody in these times,--a man whom
we had exalted as an encyclopedia of information, and idealized in
every way. A man of wealth and liberal views and courtly manners we had
decided Brown would be. Perhaps he had a suburban villa on the heights
over-looking Kennebeckasis Bay, and, recognizing us as brothers in a
common interest in Baddeck, not-withstanding our different nationality,
would insist upon taking us to his house, to sip provincial tea with
Mrs. Brown and Victoria Louise, his daughter. When, therefore, Mr. Brown
whisked into his dingy office, and, but for our importunity, would
have paid no more attention to us than to up-country customers without
credit, and when he proved to be willingly, it seemed to us, ignorant
of Baddeck, our feelings received a great shock. It is incomprehensible
that a man in the position of Brown with so many boxes of soap and
candles to dispose of--should be so ignorant of a neighboring province.
We had heard of the cordial unity of the Provinces in the New Dominion.
Heaven help it, if it depends upon such fellows as Brown! Of course,
his directing us to Cope was a mere fetch. For as we have intimated, it
would have taken us longer to have given Cope an idea of Baddeck, than
it did to enlighten Brown. But we had no bitter feelings about Cope, for
we never had reposed confidence in him.

Our plan of campaign was briefly this: To take the steamboat at eight
o’clock, Thursday morning, for Digby Gut and Annapolis; thence to go by
rail through the poetical Acadia down to Halifax; to turn north and east
by rail from Halifax to New Glasgow, and from thence to push on by stage
to the Gut of Canso. This would carry us over the entire length of Nova
Scotia, and, with good luck, land us on Cape Breton Island Saturday
morning. When we should set foot on that island, we trusted that we
should be able to make our way to Baddeck, by walking, swimming, or
riding, whichever sort of locomotion should be most popular in that
province. Our imaginations were kindled by reading that the “most superb
line of stages on the continent” ran from New Glasgow to the Gut of
Canso. If the reader perfectly understands this programme, he has the
advantage of the two travelers at the time they made it.

It was a gray morning when we embarked from St. John, and in fact a
little drizzle of rain veiled the Martello tower, and checked, like
the cross-strokes of a line engraving, the hill on which it stands. The
miscellaneous shining of such a harbor appears best in a golden haze, or
in the mist of a morning like this. We had expected days of fog in this
region; but the fog seemed to have gone out with the high tides of the
geography. And it is simple justice to these possessions of her Majesty,
to say that in our two weeks’ acquaintance of them they enjoyed as
delicious weather as ever falls on sea and shore, with the exception of
this day when we crossed the Bay of Fundy. And this day was only one of
those cool interludes of low color, which an artist would be thankful
to introduce among a group of brilliant pictures. Such a day rests the
traveler, who is overstimulated by shifting scenes played upon by the
dazzling sun. So the cool gray clouds spread a grateful umbrella above
us as we ran across the Bay of Fundy, sighted the headlands of the Gut
of Digby, and entered into the Annapolis Basin, and into the region of
a romantic history. The white houses of Digby, scattered over the downs
like a flock of washed sheep, had a somewhat chilly aspect, it is true,
and made us long for the sun on them. But as I think of it now, I prefer
to have the town and the pretty hillsides that stand about the basin
in the light we saw them; and especially do I like to recall the high
wooden pier at Digby, deserted by the tide and so blown by the wind that
the passengers who came out on it, with their tossing drapery, brought
to mind the windy Dutch harbors that Backhuysen painted. We landed a
priest here, and it was a pleasure to see him as he walked along the
high pier, his broad hat flapping, and the wind blowing his long skirts
away from his ecclesiastical legs.

It was one of the coincidences of life, for which no one can account,
that when we descended upon these coasts, the Governor-General of the
Dominion was abroad in his Provinces. There was an air of expectation of
him everywhere, and of preparation for his coming; his lordship was the
subject of conversation on the Digby boat, his movements were chronicled
in the newspapers, and the gracious bearing of the Governor and Lady
Dufferin at the civic receptions, balls, and picnics was recorded with
loyal satisfaction; even a literary flavor was given to the provincial
journals by quotations from his lordship’s condescension to letters in
the “High Latitudes.” It was not without pain, however, that even in
this un-American region we discovered the old Adam of journalism in the
disposition of the newspapers of St. John toward sarcasm touching
the well-meant attempts to entertain the Governor and his lady in the
provincial town of Halifax,--a disposition to turn, in short, upon the
demonstrations of loyal worship the faint light of ridicule. There were
those upon the boat who were journeying to Halifax to take part in the
civic ball about to be given to their excellencies, and as we were going
in the same direction, we shared in the feeling of satisfaction which
proximity to the Great often excites.

We had other if not deeper causes of satisfaction. We were sailing along
the gracefully moulded and tree-covered hills of the Annapolis Basin,
and up the mildly picturesque river of that name, and we were about to
enter what the provincials all enthusiastically call the Garden of Nova
Scotia. This favored vale, skirted by low ranges of hills on either
hand, and watered most of the way by the Annapolis River, extends from
the mouth of the latter to the town of Windsor on the river Avon. We
expected to see something like the fertile valleys of the Connecticut
or the Mohawk. We should also pass through those meadows on the Basin of
Minas which Mr. Longfellow has made more sadly poetical than any other
spot on the Western Continent. It is,--this valley of the Annapolis,--in
the belief of provincials, the most beautiful and blooming place in the
world, with a soil and climate kind to the husbandman; a land of fair
meadows, orchards, and vines. It was doubtless our own fault that this
land did not look to us like a garden, as it does to the inhabitants of
Nova Scotia; and it was not until we had traveled over the rest of
the country, that we saw the appropriateness of the designation. The
explanation is, that not so much is required of a garden here as in some
other parts of the world. Excellent apples, none finer, are exported
from this valley to England, and the quality of the potatoes is said to
ap-proach an ideal perfection here. I should think that oats would ripen
well also in a good year, and grass, for those who care for it, may be
satisfactory. I should judge that the other products of this garden are
fish and building-stone. But we anticipate. And have we forgotten the
“murmuring pines and the hemlocks”? Nobody, I suppose, ever travels
here without believing that he sees these trees of the imagination, so
forcibly has the poet projected them upon the uni-versal consciousness.
But we were unable to see them, on this route.

It would be a brutal thing for us to take seats in the railway train
at Annapolis, and leave the ancient town, with its modern houses and
remains of old fortifications, without a thought of the romantic
history which saturates the region. There is not much in the smart,
new restaurant, where a tidy waiting-maid skillfully depreciates our
currency in exchange for bread and cheese and ale, to recall the early
drama of the French discovery and settlement. For it is to the French
that we owe the poetical interest that still invests, like a garment,
all these islands and bays, just as it is to the Spaniards that we owe
the romance of the Florida coast. Every spot on this continent that
either of these races has touched has a color that is wanting in the
prosaic settlements of the English.

Without the historical light of French adventure upon this town and
basin of Annapolis, or Port Royal, as they were first named, I confess
that I should have no longing to stay here for a week; notwithstanding
the guide-book distinctly says that this harbor has “a striking
resemblance to the beautiful Bay of Naples.” I am not offended at this
remark, for it is the one always made about a harbor, and I am sure the
passing traveler can stand it, if the Bay of Naples can. And yet
this tranquil basin must have seemed a haven of peace to the first
discoverers.

It was on a lovely summer day in 1604, that the Sieur de Monts and his
comrades, Champlain and the Baron de Poutrincourt, beating about the
shores of Nova Scotia, were invited by the rocky gateway of the Port
Royal Basin. They entered the small inlet, says Mr. Parkman, when
suddenly the narrow strait dilated into a broad and tranquil basin,
compassed with sunny hills, wrapped with woodland verdure and alive with
waterfalls. Poutrincourt was delighted with the scene, and would fain
remove thither from France with his family. Since Poutrincourt’s day,
the hills have been somewhat denuded of trees, and the waterfalls are
not now in sight; at least, not under such a gray sky as we saw.

The reader who once begins to look into the French occupancy of Acadia
is in danger of getting into a sentimental vein, and sentiment is the
one thing to be shunned in these days. Yet I cannot but stay, though the
train should leave us, to pay my respectful homage to one of the most
heroic of women, whose name recalls the most romantic incident in
the history of this region. Out of this past there rises no figure so
captivating to the imagination as that of Madame de la Tour. And it
is noticeable that woman has a curious habit of coming to the front in
critical moments of history, and performing some exploit that eclipses
in brilliancy all the deeds of contemporary men; and the exploit usually
ends in a pathetic tragedy, that fixes it forever in the sympathy of the
world. I need not copy out of the pages of De Charlevoix the well-known
story of Madame de la Tour; I only wish he had told us more about her.
It is here at Port Royal that we first see her with her husband. Charles
de St. Etienne, the Chevalier de la Tour,--there is a world of romance
in these mere names,--was a Huguenot nobleman who had a grant of Port
Royal and of La Hive, from Louis XIII. He ceded La Hive to Razilli,
the governor-in-chief of the provinces, who took a fancy to it, for
a residence. He was living peacefully at Port Royal in 1647, when the
Chevalier d’Aunay Charnise, having succeeded his brother Razilli at La
Hive, tired of that place and removed to Port Royal. De Charnise was
a Catholic; the difference in religion might not have produced any
unpleasantness, but the two noblemen could not agree in dividing the
profits of the peltry trade,--each being covetous, if we may so express
it, of the hide of the savage continent, and determined to take it off
for himself. At any rate, disagreement arose, and De la Tour moved over
to the St. John, of which region his father had enjoyed a grant from
Charles I. of England,--whose sad fate it is not necessary now to recall
to the reader’s mind,--and built a fort at the mouth of the river. But
the differences of the two ambitious Frenchmen could not be composed.
De la Tour obtained aid from Governor Winthrop at Boston, thus verifying
the Catholic prediction that the Huguenots would side with the enemies
of France on occasion. De Charnise received orders from Louis to arrest
De la Tour; but a little preliminary to the arrest was the possession of
the fort of St. John, and this he could not obtain, although be sent all
his force against it. Taking advantage, however, of the absence of De
la Tour, who had a habit of roving about, he one day besieged St. John.
Madame de la Tour headed the little handful of men in the fort, and made
such a gallant resistance that De Charnise was obliged to draw off his
fleet with the loss of thirty-three men,--a very serious loss, when the
supply of men was as distant as France. But De Charnise would not
be balked by a woman; he attacked again; and this time, one of the
garrison, a Swiss, betrayed the fort, and let the invaders into
the walls by an unguarded entrance. It was Easter morning when this
misfortune occurred, but the peaceful influence of the day did not
avail. When Madame saw that she was betrayed, her spirits did not quail;
she took refuge with her little band in a detached part of the fort, and
there made such a bold show of defense, that De Charnise was obliged to
agree to the terms of her surrender, which she dictated. No sooner had
this unchivalrous fellow obtained possession of the fort and of this
Historic Woman, than, overcome with a false shame that he had made terms
with a woman, he violated his noble word, and condemned to death all
the men, except one, who was spared on condition that he should be the
executioner of the others. And the poltroon compelled the brave woman
to witness the execution, with the added indignity of a rope round her
neck,--or as De Charlevoix much more neatly expresses it, “obligea sa
prisonniere d’assister a l’execution, la corde au cou.”

To the shock of this horror the womanly spirit of Madame de la Tour
succumbed; she fell into a decline and died soon after. De la Tour,
himself an exile from his province, wandered about the New World in his
customary pursuit of peltry. He was seen at Quebec for two years. While
there, he heard of the death of De Charnise, and straightway repaired
to St. John. The widow of his late enemy received him graciously, and
he entered into possession of the estate of the late occupant with the
consent of all the heirs. To remove all roots of bitterness, De la
Tour married Madame de Charnise, and history does not record any ill of
either of them. I trust they had the grace to plant a sweetbrier on
the grave of the noble woman to whose faithfulness and courage they owe
their rescue from obscurity. At least the parties to this singular
union must have agreed to ignore the lamented existence of the Chevalier
d’Aunay.

With the Chevalier de la Tour, at any rate, it all went well thereafter.
When Cromwell drove the French from Acadia, he granted great territorial
rights to De la Tour, which that thrifty adventurer sold out to one
of his co-grantees for L16,000; and he no doubt invested the money in
peltry for the London market.

As we leave the station at Annapolis, we are obliged to put Madame de la
Tour out of our minds to make room for another woman whose name, and we
might say presence, fills all the valley before us. So it is that woman
continues to reign, where she has once got a foothold, long after her
dear frame has become dust. Evangeline, who is as real a personage as
Queen Esther, must have been a different woman from Madame de la Tour.
If the latter had lived at Grand Pre, she would, I trust, have made
it hot for the brutal English who drove the Acadians out of their
salt-marsh paradise, and have died in her heroic shoes rather than float
off into poetry. But if it should come to the question of marrying the
De la Tour or the Evangeline, I think no man who was not engaged in the
peltry trade would hesitate which to choose. At any rate, the women who
love have more influence in the world than the women who fight, and so
it happens that the sentimental traveler who passes through Port Royal
without a tear for Madame de la Tour, begins to be in a glow of tender
longing and regret for Evangeline as soon as he enters the valley of the
Annapolis River. For myself, I expected to see written over the railway
crossings the legend,

“Look out for Evangeline while the bell rings.”

When one rides into a region of romance he does not much notice his
speed or his carriage; but I am obliged to say that we were not hurried
up the valley, and that the cars were not too luxurious for the plain
people, priests, clergymen, and belles of the region, who rode in them.
Evidently the latest fashions had not arrived in the Provinces, and we
had an opportunity of studying anew those that had long passed away in
the States, and of remarking how inappropriate a fashion is when it has
ceased to be the fashion.

The river becomes small shortly after we leave Annapolis and before we
reach Paradise. At this station of happy appellation we looked for the
satirist who named it, but he has probably sold out and removed. If
the effect of wit is produced by the sudden recognition of a remote
resemblance, there was nothing witty in the naming of this station.
Indeed, we looked in vain for the “garden” appearance of the valley.
There was nothing generous in the small meadows or the thin orchards;
and if large trees ever grew on the bordering hills, they have given
place to rather stunted evergreens; the scraggy firs and balsams, in
fact, possess Nova Scotia generally as we saw it,--and there is nothing
more uninteresting and wearisome than large tracts of these woods. We
are bound to believe that Nova Scotia has somewhere, or had, great pines
and hemlocks that murmur, but we were not blessed with the sight of
them. Slightly picturesque this valley is with its winding river and
high hills guarding it, and perhaps a person would enjoy a foot-tramp
down it; but, I think he would find little peculiar or interesting after
he left the neighborhood of the Basin of Minas.

Before we reached Wolfville we came in sight of this basin and some of
the estuaries and streams that run into it; that is, when the tide goes
out; but they are only muddy ditches half the time. The Acadia College
was pointed out to us at Wolfville by a person who said that it is a
feeble institution, a remark we were sorry to hear of a place described
as “one of the foremost seats of learning in the Province.” But our
regret was at once extinguished by the announcement that the next
station was Grand Pre! We were within three miles of the most poetic
place in North America.

There was on the train a young man from Boston, who said that he was
born in Grand Pre. It seemed impossible that we should actually be near
a person so felicitously born. He had a justifiable pride in the fact,
as well as in the bride by his side, whom he was taking to see for
the first time his old home. His local information, imparted to her,
overflowed upon us; and when he found that we had read “Evangeline,” his
delight in making us acquainted with the scene of that poem was pleasant
to see. The village of Grand Pre is a mile from the station; and perhaps
the reader would like to know exactly what the traveler, hastening on to
Baddeck, can see of the famous locality.

We looked over a well-grassed meadow, seamed here and there by beds of
streams left bare by the receding tide, to a gentle swell in the ground
upon which is a not heavy forest growth. The trees partly conceal the
street of Grand Pre, which is only a road bordered by common houses.
Beyond is the Basin of Minas, with its sedgy shore, its dreary flats;
and beyond that projects a bold headland, standing perpendicular against
the sky. This is the Cape Blomidon, and it gives a certain dignity to
the picture.

The old Normandy picturesqueness has departed from the village of Grand
Pre. Yankee settlers, we were told, possess it now, and there are no
descendants of the French Acadians in this valley. I believe that Mr.
Cozzens found some of them in humble circumstances in a village on the
other coast, not far from Halifax, and it is there, probably, that the

“Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun,
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline’s story, While from its
rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean Speaks, and in accents
disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”

At any rate, there is nothing here now except a faint tradition of the
French Acadians; and the sentimental traveler who laments that they were
driven out, and not left behind their dikes to rear their flocks, and
cultivate the rural virtues, and live in the simplicity of ignorance,
will temper his sadness by the reflection that it is to the expulsion he
owes “Evangeline” and the luxury of his romantic grief. So that if the
traveler is honest, and examines his own soul faithfully, he will not
know what state of mind to cherish as he passes through this region of
sorrow.

Our eyes lingered as long as possible and with all eagerness upon these
meadows and marshes which the poet has made immortal, and we regretted
that inexorable Baddeck would not permit us to be pilgrims for a day in
this Acadian land. Just as I was losing sight of the skirt of trees at
Grand Pre, a gentleman in the dress of a rural clergyman left his seat,
and complimented me with this remark: “I perceive, sir, that you are
fond of reading.”

I could not but feel flattered by this unexpected discovery of my
nature, which was no doubt due to the fact that I held in my hand one
of the works of Charles Reade on social science, called “Love me Little,
Love me Long,” and I said, “Of some kinds, I am.”

“Did you ever see a work called ‘Evangeline’?”

“Oh, yes, I have frequently seen it.”

“You may remember,” continued this Mass of Information, “that there is
an allusion in it to Grand Pre. That is the place, sir!”

“Oh, indeed, is that the place? Thank you.”

“And that mountain yonder is Cape Blomidon, blow me down, you know.”

And under cover of this pun, the amiable clergyman retired, unconscious,
I presume, of his prosaic effect upon the atmosphere of the region. With
this intrusion of the commonplace, I suffered an eclipse of faith as to
Evangeline, and was not sorry to have my attention taken up by the river
Avon, along the banks of which we were running about this time. It is
really a broad arm of the basin, extending up to Windsor, and beyond in
a small stream, and would have been a charming river if there had been a
drop of water in it. I never knew before how much water adds to a river.
Its slimy bottom was quite a ghastly spectacle, an ugly gash in the land
that nothing could heal but the friendly returning tide. I should think
it would be confusing to dwell by a river that runs first one way and
then the other, and then vanishes altogether.

All the streams about this basin are famous for their salmon and shad,
and the season for these fish was not yet passed. There seems to be an
untraced affinity between the shad and the strawberry; they appear and
disappear in a region simultaneously. When we reached Cape Breton, we
were a day or two late for both. It is impossible not to feel a little
contempt for people who do not have these luxuries till July and August;
but I suppose we are in turn despised by the Southerners because we do
not have them till May and June. So, a great part of the enjoyment of
life is in the knowledge that there are people living in a worse place
than that you inhabit.

Windsor, a most respectable old town round which the railroad sweeps,
with its iron bridge, conspicuous King’s College, and handsome church
spire, is a great place for plaster and limestone, and would be a good
location for a person interested in these substances. Indeed, if a man
can live on rocks, like a goat, he may settle anywhere between Windsor
and Halifax. It is one of the most sterile regions in the Province.
With the exception of a wild pond or two, we saw nothing but rocks
and stunted firs, for forty-five miles, a monotony unrelieved by one
picturesque feature. Then we longed for the “Garden of Nova Scotia,” and
understood what is meant by the name.

A member of the Ottawa government, who was on his way to the
Governor-General’s ball at Halifax, informed us that this country is
rich in minerals, in iron especially, and he pointed out spots where
gold had been washed out. But we do not covet it. And we were not sorry
to learn from this gentleman, that since the formation of the Dominion,
there is less and less desire in the Provinces for annexation to the
United States. One of the chief pleasures in traveling in Nova Scotia
now is in the constant reflection that you are in a foreign country; and
annexation would take that away.

It is nearly dark when we reach the head of the Bedford Basin. The noble
harbor of Halifax narrows to a deep inlet for three miles along the
rocky slope on which the city stands, and then suddenly expands into
this beautiful sheet of water. We ran along its bank for five miles,
cheered occasionally by a twinkling light on the shore, and then came
to a stop at the shabby terminus, three miles out of town. This basin is
almost large enough to float the navy of Great Britain, and it could
lie here, with the narrows fortified, secure from the attacks of
the American navy, hovering outside in the fog. With these patriotic
thoughts we enter the town. It is not the fault of the railroad, but its
present inability to climb a rocky hill, that it does not run into the
city. The suburbs are not impressive in the night, but they look better
then than they do in the daytime; and the same might be said of the city
itself. Probably there is not anywhere a more rusty, forlorn town, and
this in spite of its magnificent situation.

It is a gala-night when we rattle down the rough streets, and have
pointed out to us the somber government buildings. The Halifax Club
House is a blaze of light, for the Governor-General is being received
there, and workmen are still busy decorating the Provincial Building
for the great ball. The city is indeed pervaded by his lordship, and
we regret that we cannot see it in its normal condition of quiet; the
hotels are full, and it is impossible to escape the festive feeling that
is abroad. It ill accords with our desires, as tranquil travelers, to be
plunged into such a vortex of slow dissipation. These people take their
pleasures more gravely than we do, and probably will last the longer for
their moderation. Having ascertained that we can get no more information
about Baddeck here than in St. John, we go to bed early, for we are to
depart from this fascinating place at six o’clock.

If any one objects that we are not competent to pass judgment on the
city of Halifax by sleeping there one night, I beg leave to plead the
usual custom of travelers,--where would be our books of travel, if more
was expected than a night in a place?--and to state a few facts. The
first is, that I saw the whole of Halifax. If I were inclined, I could
describe it building by building. Cannot one see it all from the citadel
hill, and by walking down by the horticultural garden and the Roman
Catholic cemetery? and did not I climb that hill through the most
dilapidated rows of brown houses, and stand on the greensward of the
fortress at five o’clock in the morning, and see the whole city, and the
British navy riding at anchor, and the fog coming in from the Atlantic
Ocean? Let the reader go to! and if he would know more of Halifax, go
there. We felt that if we remained there through the day, it would be a
day of idleness and sadness. I could draw a picture of Halifax. I could
relate its century of history; I could write about its free-school
system, and its many noble charities. But the reader always skips such
things. He hates information; and he himself would not stay in this dull
garrison town any longer than he was obliged to.

There was to be a military display that day in honor of the Governor.

“Why,” I asked the bright and light-minded colored boy who sold papers
on the morning train, “don’t you stay in the city and see it?”

“Pho,” said he, with contempt, “I’m sick of ‘em. Halifax is played out,
and I’m going to quit it.”

The withdrawal of this lively trader will be a blow to the enterprise of
the place.

When I returned to the hotel for breakfast--which was exactly like the
supper, and consisted mainly of green tea and dry toast--there was a
commotion among the waiters and the hack-drivers over a nervous little
old man, who was in haste to depart for the morning train. He was a
specimen of provincial antiquity such as could not be seen elsewhere.
His costume was of the oddest: a long-waisted coat reaching nearly to
his heels, short trousers, a flowered silk vest, and a napless hat. He
carried his baggage tied up in mealbags, and his attention was divided
between that and two buxom daughters, who were evidently enjoying their
first taste of city life. The little old man, who was not unlike a
petrified Frenchman of the last century, had risen before daylight,
roused up his daughters, and had them down on the sidewalk by four
o’clock, waiting for hack, or horse-car, or something to take them
to the station. That he might be a man of some importance at home was
evident, but he had lost his head in the bustle of this great town,
and was at the mercy of all advisers, none of whom could understand
his mongrel language. As we came out to take the horse-car, he saw his
helpless daughters driven off in one hack, while he was raving among his
meal-bags on the sidewalk. Afterwards we saw him at the station, flying
about in the greatest excitement, asking everybody about the train; and
at last he found his way into the private office of the ticket-seller.
“Get out of here!” roared that official. The old man persisted that
he wanted a ticket. “Go round to the window; clear out!” In a very
flustered state he was hustled out of the room. When he came to the
window and made known his destination, he was refused tickets, because
his train did not start for two hours yet!

This mercurial old gentleman only appears in these records because he
was the only person we saw in this Province who was in a hurry to do
anything, or to go anywhere.

We cannot leave Halifax without remarking that it is a city of great
private virtue, and that its banks are sound. The appearance of its
paper-money is not, however, inviting. We of the United States lead the
world in beautiful paper-money; and when I exchanged my crisp, handsome
greenbacks for the dirty, flimsy, ill-executed notes of the Dominion,
at a dead loss of value, I could not be reconciled to the transaction.
I sarcastically called the stuff I received “Confederate money;” but
probably no one was wounded by the severity; for perhaps no one knew
what a resemblance in badness there is between the “Confederate” notes
of our civil war and the notes of the Dominion; and, besides, the
Confederacy was too popular in the Provinces for the name to be a
reproach to them. I wish I had thought of something more insulting to
say.

By noon on Friday we came to New Glasgow, having passed through a
country where wealth is to be won by hard digging if it is won at all;
through Truro, at the head of the Cobequid Bay, a place exhibiting more
thrift than any we have seen. A pleasant enough country, on the whole,
is this which the road runs through up the Salmon and down the
East River. New Glasgow is not many miles from Pictou, on the great
Cumberland Strait; the inhabitants build vessels, and strangers drive
out from here to see the neighboring coal mines. Here we were to dine
and take the stage for a ride of eighty miles to the Gut of Canso.

The hotel at New Glasgow we can commend as one of the most unwholesome
in the Province; but it is unnecessary to emphasize its condition, for
if the traveler is in search of dirty hotels, he will scarcely go amiss
anywhere in these regions. There seems to be a fashion in diet which
endures. The early travelers as well as the later in these Atlantic
provinces all note the prevalence of dry, limp toast and green tea; they
are the staples of all the meals; though authorities differ in regard
to the third element for discouraging hunger: it is sometimes boiled
salt-fish and sometimes it is ham. Toast was probably an inspiration of
the first woman of this part of the New World, who served it hot; but
it has become now a tradition blindly followed, without regard to
temperature; and the custom speaks volumes for the non-inventiveness
of woman. At the inn in New Glasgow those who choose dine in their
shirt-sleeves, and those skilled in the ways of this table get all they
want in seven minutes. A man who understands the use of edged tools
can get along twice as fast with a knife and fork as he can with a fork
alone.

But the stage is at the door; the coach and four horses answer the
advertisement of being “second to none on the continent.” We mount
to the seat with the driver. The sun is bright; the wind is in the
southwest; the leaders are impatient to go; the start for the long ride
is propitious.

But on the back seat in the coach is the inevitable woman, young and
sickly, with the baby in her arms. The woman has paid her fare through
to Guysborough, and holds her ticket. It turns out, however, that she
wants to go to the district of Guysborough, to St. Mary’s Cross Roads,
somewhere in it, and not to the village of Guysborough, which is away
down on Chedabucto Bay. (The reader will notice this geographical
familiarity.) And this stage does not go in the direction of St. Mary’s.
She will not get out, she will not surrender her ticket, nor pay her
fare again. Why should she? And the stage proprietor, the stage-driver,
and the hostler mull over the problem, and sit down on the woman’s hair
trunk in front of the tavern to reason with her. The baby joins its
voice from the coach window in the clamor of the discussion. The baby
prevails. The stage company comes to a compromise, the woman dismounts,
and we are off, away from the white houses, over the sandy road, out
upon a hilly and not cheerful country. And the driver begins to tell us
stories of winter hardships, drifted highways, a land buried in snow,
and great peril to men and cattle.



III

     “It was then summer, and the weather very fine; so pleased
     was I with the country, in which I had never travelled
     before, that my delight proved equal to my wonder.”
      -- BENVENUTO CELLINI.

There are few pleasures in life equal to that of riding on the box-seat
of a stagecoach, through a country unknown to you and hearing the driver
talk about his horses. We made the intimate acquaintance of twelve
horses on that day’s ride, and learned the peculiar disposition
and traits of each one of them, their ambition of display, their
sensitiveness to praise or blame, their faithfulness, their playfulness,
the readiness with which they yielded to kind treatment, their
daintiness about food and lodging.

May I never forget the spirited little jade, the off-leader in the third
stage, the petted belle of the route, the nervous, coquettish, mincing
mare of Marshy Hope. A spoiled beauty she was; you could see that as
she took the road with dancing step, tossing her pretty head about, and
conscious of her shining black coat and her tail done up “in any simple
knot,”--like the back hair of Shelley’s Beatrice Cenci. How she ambled
and sidled and plumed herself, and now and then let fly her little heels
high in air in mere excess of larkish feeling.

“So! girl; so! Kitty,” murmurs the driver in the softest tones of
admiration; “she don’t mean anything by it, she’s just like a kitten.”

But the heels keep flying above the traces, and by and by the driver
is obliged to “speak hash” to the beauty. The reproof of the displeased
tone is evidently felt, for she settles at once to her work, showing
perhaps a little impatience, jerking her head up and down, and
protesting by her nimble movements against the more deliberate trot
of her companion. I believe that a blow from the cruel lash would have
broken her heart; or else it would have made a little fiend of the
spirited creature. The lash is hardly ever good for the sex.

For thirteen years, winter and summer, this coachman had driven this
monotonous, uninteresting route, with always the same sandy hills,
scrubby firs, occasional cabins, in sight. What a time to nurse his
thought and feed on his heart! How deliberately he can turn things over
in his brain! What a system of philosophy he might evolve out of his
consciousness! One would think so. But, in fact, the stagebox is no
place for thinking. To handle twelve horses every day, to keep each to
its proper work, stimulating the lazy and restraining the free, humoring
each disposition, so that the greatest amount of work shall be obtained
with the least friction, making each trip on time, and so as to leave
each horse in as good condition at the close as at the start, taking
advantage of the road, refreshing the team by an occasional spurt of
speed,--all these things require constant attention; and if the driver
was composing an epic, the coach might go into the ditch, or, if no
accident happened, the horses would be worn out in a month, except for
the driver’s care.

I conclude that the most delicate and important occupation in life is
stage-driving. It would be easier to “run” the Treasury Department
of the United States than a four-in-hand. I have a sense of the
unimportance of everything else in comparison with this business in
hand. And I think the driver shares that feeling. He is the autocrat of
the situation. He is lord of all the humble passengers, and they feel
their inferiority. They may have knowledge and skill in some things, but
they are of no use here. At all the stables the driver is king; all the
people on the route are deferential to him; they are happy if he will
crack a joke with them, and take it as a favor if he gives them better
than they send. And it is his joke that always raises the laugh,
regardless of its quality.

We carry the royal mail, and as we go along drop little sealed canvas
bags at way offices. The bags would not hold more than three pints of
meal, and I can see that there is nothing in them. Yet somebody along
here must be expecting a letter, or they would not keep up the mail
facilities. At French River we change horses. There is a mill here, and
there are half a dozen houses, and a cranky bridge, which the driver
thinks will not tumble down this trip. The settlement may have seen
better days, and will probably see worse.

I preferred to cross the long, shaky wooden bridge on foot, leaving the
inside passengers to take the risk, and get the worth of their money;
and while the horses were being put to, I walked on over the hill. And
here I encountered a veritable foot-pad, with a club in his hand and a
bundle on his shoulder, coming down the dusty road, with the wild-eyed
aspect of one who travels into a far country in search of adventure. He
seemed to be of a cheerful and sociable turn, and desired that I should
linger and converse with him. But he was more meagerly supplied with the
media of conversation than any person I ever met. His opening address
was in a tongue that failed to convey to me the least idea. I replied
in such language as I had with me, but it seemed to be equally lost upon
him. We then fell back upon gestures and ejaculations, and by these I
learned that he was a native of Cape Breton, but not an aborigine. By
signs he asked me where I came from, and where I was going; and he was
so much pleased with my destination, that he desired to know my name;
and this I told him with all the injunction of secrecy I could convey;
but he could no more pronounce it than I could speak his name. It
occurred to me that perhaps he spoke a French patois, and I asked him;
but he only shook his head. He would own neither to German nor Irish.
The happy thought came to me of inquiring if he knew English. But he
shook his head again, and said,

“No English, plenty garlic.”

This was entirely incomprehensible, for I knew that garlic is not a
language, but a smell. But when he had repeated the word several
times, I found that he meant Gaelic; and when we had come to this
understanding, we cordially shook hands and willingly parted. One seldom
encounters a wilder or more good-natured savage than this stalwart
wanderer. And meeting him raised my hopes of Cape Breton.

We change horses again, for the last stage, at Marshy Hope. As we turn
down the hill into this place of the mournful name, we dash past a
procession of five country wagons, which makes way for us: everything
makes way for us; even death itself turns out for the stage with four
horses. The second wagon carries a long box, which reveals to us the
mournful errand of the caravan. We drive into the stable, and get down
while the fresh horses are put to. The company’s stables are all alike,
and open at each end with great doors. The stable is the best house in
the place; there are three or four houses besides, and one of them is
white, and has vines growing over the front door, and hollyhocks by the
front gate. Three or four women, and as many barelegged girls, have come
out to look at the procession, and we lounge towards the group.

“It had a winder in the top of it, and silver handles,” says one.

“Well, I declare; and you could ‘a looked right in?”

“If I’d been a mind to.”

“Who has died?” I ask.

“It’s old woman Larue; she lived on Gilead Hill, mostly alone. It’s
better for her.”

“Had she any friends?”

“One darter. They’re takin’ her over Eden way, to bury her where she
come from.”

“Was she a good woman?” The traveler is naturally curious to know what
sort of people die in Nova Scotia.

“Well, good enough. Both her husbands is dead.”

The gossips continued talking of the burying. Poor old woman Larue! It
was mournful enough to encounter you for the only time in this world in
this plight, and to have this glimpse of your wretched life on lonesome
Gilead Hill. What pleasure, I wonder, had she in her life, and what
pleasure have any of these hard-favored women in this doleful region? It
is pitiful to think of it. Doubtless, however, the region isn’t doleful,
and the sentimental traveler would not have felt it so if he had not
encountered this funereal flitting.

But the horses are in. We mount to our places; the big doors swing open.

“Stand away,” cries the driver.

The hostler lets go Kitty’s bridle, the horses plunge forward, and we
are off at a gallop, taking the opposite direction from that pursued by
old woman Larue.

This last stage is eleven miles, through a pleasanter country, and we
make it in a trifle over an hour, going at an exhilarating gait, that
raises our spirits out of the Marshy Hope level. The perfection of
travel is ten miles an hour, on top of a stagecoach; it is greater speed
than forty by rail. It nurses one’s pride to sit aloft, and rattle past
the farmhouses, and give our dust to the cringing foot tramps. There is
something royal in the swaying of the coach body, and an excitement in
the patter of the horses’ hoofs. And what an honor it must be to guide
such a machine through a region of rustic admiration!

The sun has set when we come thundering down into the pretty Catholic
village of Antigonish,--the most home-like place we have seen on the
island. The twin stone towers of the unfinished cathedral loom up large
in the fading light, and the bishop’s palace on the hill--the home of
the Bishop of Arichat--appears to be an imposing white barn with
many staring windows. At Antigonish--with the emphasis on the last
syllable--let the reader know there is a most comfortable inn, kept by a
cheery landlady, where the stranger is served by the comely handmaidens,
her daughters, and feels that he has reached a home at last. Here we
wished to stay. Here we wished to end this weary pilgrimage. Could
Baddeck be as attractive as this peaceful valley? Should we find any inn
on Cape Breton like this one?

“Never was on Cape Breton,” our driver had said; “hope I never shall be.
Heard enough about it. Taverns? You’ll find ‘em occupied.”

“Fleas?

“Wus.”

“But it is a lovely country?”

“I don’t think it.”

Into what unknown dangers were we going? Why not stay here and be happy?
It was a soft summer night. People were loitering in the street; the
young beaux of the place going up and down with the belles, after the
leisurely manner in youth and summer; perhaps they were students from
St. Xavier College, or visiting gallants from Guysborough. They look
into the post-office and the fancy store. They stroll and take their
little provincial pleasure and make love, for all we can see, as if
Antigonish were a part of the world. How they must look down on Marshy
Hope and Addington Forks and Tracadie! What a charming place to live in
is this!

But the stage goes on at eight o’clock. It will wait for no man. There
is no other stage till eight the next night, and we have no alternative
but a night ride. We put aside all else except duty and Baddeck. This is
strictly a pleasure-trip.

The stage establishment for the rest of the journey could hardly be
called the finest on the continent. The wagon was drawn by two horses.
It was a square box, covered with painted cloth. Within were two narrow
seats, facing each other, affording no room for the legs of passengers,
and offering them no position but a strictly upright one. It was a most
ingeniously uncomfortable box in which to put sleepy travelers for the
night. The weather would be chilly before morning, and to sit upright
on a narrow board all night, and shiver, is not cheerful. Of course, the
reader says that this is no hardship to talk about. But the reader is
mistaken. Anything is a hardship when it is unpleasantly what one does
not desire or expect. These travelers had spent wakeful nights, in the
forests, in a cold rain, and never thought of complaining. It is
useless to talk about the Polar sufferings of Dr. Kane to a guest at a
metropolitan hotel, in the midst of luxury, when the mosquito sings all
night in his ear, and his mutton-chop is overdone at breakfast. One
does not like to be set up for a hero in trifles, in odd moments, and in
inconspicuous places.

There were two passengers besides ourselves, inhabitants of Cape Breton
Island, who were returning from Halifax to Plaster Cove, where they were
engaged in the occupation of distributing alcoholic liquors at retail.
This fact we ascertained incidentally, as we learned the nationality
of our comrades by their brogue, and their religion by their lively
ejaculations during the night. We stowed ourselves into the rigid box,
bade a sorrowing good-night to the landlady and her daughters, who stood
at the inn door, and went jingling down the street towards the open
country.

The moon rises at eight o’clock in Nova Scotia. It came above the
horizon exactly as we began our journey, a harvest-moon, round and red.
When I first saw it, it lay on the edge of the horizon as if too
heavy to lift itself, as big as a cart-wheel, and its disk cut by a
fence-rail. With what a flood of splendor it deluged farmhouses and
farms, and the broad sweep of level country! There could not be a more
magnificent night in which to ride towards that geographical mystery of
our boyhood, the Gut of Canso.

A few miles out of town the stage stopped in the road before a
post-station. An old woman opened the door of the farmhouse to receive
the bag which the driver carried to her. A couple of sprightly little
girls rushed out to “interview” the passengers, climbing up to ask their
names and, with much giggling, to get a peep at their faces. And upon
the handsomeness or ugliness of the faces they saw in the moonlight they
pronounced with perfect candor. We are not obliged to say what their
verdict was. Girls here, no doubt, as elsewhere, lose this trustful
candor as they grow older.

Just as we were starting, the old woman screamed out from the door, in
a shrill voice, addressing the driver, “Did you see ary a sick man ‘bout
‘Tigonish?”

“Nary.”

“There’s one been round here for three or four days, pretty bad off; ‘s
got the St. Vitus’s. He wanted me to get him some medicine for it up to
Antigonish. I’ve got it here in a vial, and I wished you could take it
to him.”

“Where is he?”

“I dunno. I heern he’d gone east by the Gut. Perhaps you’ll hear of
him.” All this screamed out into the night.

“Well, I’ll take it.”

We took the vial aboard and went on; but the incident powerfully
affected us. The weird voice of the old woman was exciting in itself,
and we could not escape the image of this unknown man, dancing about
this region without any medicine, fleeing perchance by night and alone,
and finally flitting away down the Gut of Canso. This fugitive mystery
almost immediately shaped itself into the following simple poem:

     “There was an old man of Canso,
     Unable to sit or stan’ so.
     When I asked him why he ran so,
     Says he, ‘I’ve St. Vitus’ dance so,
     All down the Gut of Canso.’”

This melancholy song is now, I doubt not, sung by the maidens of
Antigonish.

In spite of the consolations of poetry, however, the night wore on
slowly, and soothing sleep tried in vain to get a lodgment in the
jolting wagon. One can sleep upright, but not when his head is every
moment knocked against the framework of a wagon-cover. Even a jolly
young Irishman of Plaster Cove, whose nature it is to sleep under
whatever discouragement, is beaten by these circumstances. He wishes he
had his fiddle along. We never know what men are on casual acquaintance.
This rather stupid-looking fellow is a devotee of music, and knows how
to coax the sweetness out of the unwilling violin. Sometimes he goes
miles and miles on winter nights to draw the seductive bow for the Cape
Breton dancers, and there is enthusiasm in his voice, as he relates
exploits of fiddling from sunset till the dawn of day. Other
information, however, the young man has not; and when this is exhausted,
he becomes sleepy again, and tries a dozen ways to twist himself into
a posture in which sleep will be possible. He doubles up his legs, he
slides them under the seat, he sits on the wagon bottom; but the
wagon swings and jolts and knocks him about. His patience under
this punishment is admirable, and there is something pathetic in his
restraint from profanity.

It is enough to look out upon the magnificent night; the moon is now
high, and swinging clear and distant; the air has grown chilly; the
stars cannot be eclipsed by the greater light, but glow with a chastened
fervor. It is on the whole a splendid display for the sake of four
sleepy men, banging along in a coach,--an insignificant little vehicle
with two horses. No one is up at any of the farmhouses to see it; no one
appears to take any interest in it, except an occasional baying dog, or
a rooster that has mistaken the time of night. By midnight we come to
Tracadie, an orchard, a farmhouse, and a stable. We are not far from the
sea now, and can see a silver mist in the north. An inlet comes lapping
up by the old house with a salty smell and a suggestion of oyster-beds.
We knock up the sleeping hostlers, change horses, and go on again, dead
sleepy, but unable to get a wink. And all the night is blazing with
beauty. We think of the criminal who was sentenced to be kept awake till
he died.

The fiddler makes another trial. Temperately remarking, “I am very
sleepy,” he kneels upon the floor and rests his head on the seat. This
position for a second promises repose; but almost immediately his head
begins to pound the seat, and beat a lively rat-a-plan on the board. The
head of a wooden idol couldn’t stand this treatment more than a minute.
The fiddler twisted and turned, but his head went like a triphammer on
the seat. I have never seen a devotional attitude so deceptive, or one
that produced less favorable results. The young man rose from his knees,
and meekly said,

“It’s dam hard.”

If the recording angel took down this observation, he doubtless made a
note of the injured tone in which it was uttered.

How slowly the night passes to one tipping and swinging along in a
slowly moving stage! But the harbinger of the day came at last. When
the fiddler rose from his knees, I saw the morning-star burst out of the
east like a great diamond, and I knew that Venus was strong enough to
pull up even the sun, from whom she is never distant more than an eighth
of the heavenly circle. The moon could not put her out of countenance.
She blazed and scintillated with a dazzling brilliance, a throbbing
splendor, that made the moon seem a pale, sentimental invention.
Steadily she mounted, in her fresh beauty, with the confidence and vigor
of new love, driving her more domestic rival out of the sky. And this
sort of thing, I suppose, goes on frequently. These splendors burn and
this panorama passes night after night down at the end of Nova Scotia,
and all for the stage-driver, dozing along on his box, from Antigonish
to the strait.

“Here you are,” cries the driver, at length, when we have become wearily
indifferent to where we are. We have reached the ferry. The dawn has not
come, but it is not far off. We step out and find a chilly morning, and
the dark waters of the Gut of Canso flowing before us lighted here and
there by a patch of white mist. The ferryman is asleep, and his door is
shut. We call him by all the names known among men. We pound upon his
house, but he makes no sign. Before he awakes and comes out, growling,
the sky in the east is lightened a shade, and the star of the dawn
sparkles less brilliantly. But the process is slow. The twilight is
long. There is a surprising deliberation about the preparation of the
sun for rising, as there is in the movements of the boatman. Both appear
to be reluctant to begin the day.

The ferryman and his shaggy comrade get ready at last, and we step into
the clumsy yawl, and the slowly moving oars begin to pull us upstream.
The strait is here less than a mile wide; the tide is running strongly,
and the water is full of swirls,--the little whirlpools of the rip-tide.
The morning-star is now high in the sky; the moon, declining in the
west, is more than ever like a silver shield; along the east is a faint
flush of pink. In the increasing light we can see the bold shores of the
strait, and the square projection of Cape Porcupine below.

On the rocks above the town of Plaster Cove, where there is a black
and white sign,--Telegraph Cable,--we set ashore our companions of
the night, and see them climb up to their station for retailing the
necessary means of intoxication in their district, with the mournful
thought that we may never behold them again.

As we drop down along the shore, there is a white sea-gull asleep on
the rock, rolled up in a ball, with his head under his wing. The rock
is dripping with dew, and the bird is as wet as his hard bed. We pass
within an oar’s length of him, but he does not heed us, and we do not
disturb his morning slumbers. For there is no such cruelty as the waking
of anybody out of a morning nap.

When we land, and take up our bags to ascend the hill to the white
tavern of Port Hastings (as Plaster Cove now likes to be called), the
sun lifts himself slowly over the treetops, and the magic of the night
vanishes.

And this is Cape Breton, reached after almost a week of travel. Here is
the Gut of Canso, but where is Baddeck? It is Saturday morning; if we
cannot make Baddeck by night, we might as well have remained in
Boston. And who knows what we shall find if we get there? A forlorn
fishing-station, a dreary hotel? Suppose we cannot get on, and are
forced to stay here? Asking ourselves these questions, we enter the
Plaster Cove tavern. No one is stirring, but the house is open, and we
take possession of the dirty public room, and almost immediately drop to
sleep in the fluffy rocking-chairs; but even sleep is not strong enough
to conquer our desire to push on, and we soon rouse up and go in pursuit
of information.

No landlord is to be found, but there is an unkempt servant in the
kitchen, who probably does not see any use in making her toilet more
than once a week. To this fearful creature is intrusted the dainty
duty of preparing breakfast. Her indifference is equal to her lack of
information, and her ability to convey information is fettered by her
use of Gaelic as her native speech. But she directs us to the stable.
There we find a driver hitching his horses to a two-horse stage-wagon.

“Is this stage for Baddeck?”

“Not much.”

“Is there any stage for Baddeck?”

“Not to-day.”

“Where does this go, and when?”

“St. Peter’s. Starts in fifteen minutes.”

This seems like “business,” and we are inclined to try it, especially as
we have no notion where St. Peter’s is.

“Does any other stage go from here to-day anywhere else?”

“Yes. Port Hood. Quarter of an hour.”

Everything was about to happen in fifteen minutes. We inquire further.
St. Peter’s is on the east coast, on the road to Sydney. Port Hood is
on the west coast. There is a stage from Port Hood to Baddeck. It would
land us there some time Sunday morning; distance, eighty miles.

Heavens! what a pleasure-trip. To ride eighty miles more without sleep!
We should simply be delivered dead on the Bras d’Or; that is all. Tell
us, gentle driver, is there no other way?

“Well, there’s Jim Hughes, come over at midnight with a passenger from
Baddeck; he’s in the hotel now; perhaps he’ll take you.”

Our hope hung on Jim Hughes. The frowzy servant piloted us up to his
sleeping-room. “Go right in,” said she; and we went in, according to the
simple custom of the country, though it was a bedroom that one would not
enter except on business. Mr. Hughes did not like to be disturbed, but
he proved himself to be a man who could wake up suddenly, shake his
head, and transact business,--a sort of Napoleon, in fact. Mr. Hughes
stared at the intruders for a moment, as if he meditated an assault.

“Do you live in Baddeck?” we asked.

“No; Hogamah,--half-way there.”

“Will you take us to Baddeck to-day?”

Mr. Hughes thought. He had intended to sleep--till noon. He had then
intended to go over the Judique Mountain and get a boy. But he was
disposed to accommodate. Yes, for money--sum named--he would give up his
plans, and start for Baddeck in an hour. Distance, sixty miles. Here
was a man worth having; he could come to a decision before he was out of
bed. The bargain was closed.

We would have closed any bargain to escape a Sunday in the Plaster Cove
hotel. There are different sorts of hotel uncleanliness. There is
the musty old inn, where the dirt has accumulated for years, and slow
neglect has wrought a picturesque sort of dilapidation, the mouldiness
of time, which has something to recommend it. But there is nothing
attractive in new nastiness, in the vulgar union of smartness and filth.
A dirty modern house, just built, a house smelling of poor whiskey and
vile tobacco, its white paint grimy, its floors unclean, is ever so much
worse than an old inn that never pretended to be anything but a rookery.
I say nothing against the hotel at Plaster Cove. In fact, I recommend
it. There is a kind of harmony about it that I like. There is a harmony
between the breakfast and the frowzy Gaelic cook we saw “sozzling” about
in the kitchen. There is a harmony between the appearance of the house
and the appearance of the buxom young housekeeper who comes upon the
scene later, her hair saturated with the fatty matter of the bear. The
traveler will experience a pleasure in paying his bill and departing.

Although Plaster Cove seems remote on the map, we found that we were
right in the track of the world’s news there. It is the transfer station
of the Atlantic Cable Company, where it exchanges messages with
the Western Union. In a long wooden building, divided into two main
apartments, twenty to thirty operators are employed. At eight o’clock
the English force was at work receiving the noon messages from London.
The American operators had not yet come on, for New York business would
not begin for an hour. Into these rooms is poured daily the news of the
world, and these young fellows toss it about as lightly as if it were
household gossip. It is a marvelous exchange, however, and we had
intended to make some reflections here upon the en rapport feeling, so
to speak, with all the world, which we experienced while there; but
our conveyance was waiting. We telegraphed our coming to Baddeck, and
departed. For twenty-five cents one can send a dispatch to any part
of the Dominion, except the region where the Western Union has still a
foothold.

Our conveyance was a one-horse wagon, with one seat. The horse was
well enough, but the seat was narrow for three people, and the entire
establishment had in it not much prophecy of Baddeck for that day. But
we knew little of the power of Cape Breton driving. It became evident
that we should reach Baddeck soon enough, if we could cling to that
wagon-seat. The morning sun was hot. The way was so uninteresting that
we almost wished ourselves back in Nova Scotia. The sandy road was
bordered with discouraged evergreens, through which we had glimpses of
sand-drifted farms. If Baddeck was to be like this, we had come on
a fool’s errand. There were some savage, low hills, and the Judique
Mountain showed itself as we got away from the town. In this first
stage, the heat of the sun, the monotony of the road, and the scarcity
of sleep during the past thirty-six hours were all unfavorable to our
keeping on the wagon-seat. We nodded separately, we nodded and reeled in
unison. But asleep or awake, the driver drove like a son of Jehu. Such
driving is the fashion on Cape Breton Island. Especially downhill,
we made the most of it; if the horse was on a run, that was only an
inducement to apply the lash; speed gave the promise of greater possible
speed. The wagon rattled like a bark-mill; it swirled and leaped about,
and we finally got the exciting impression that if the whole thing
went to pieces, we should somehow go on,--such was our impetus. Round
corners, over ruts and stones, and uphill and down, we went jolting and
swinging, holding fast to the seat, and putting our trust in things in
general. At the end of fifteen miles, we stopped at a Scotch farmhouse,
where the driver kept a relay, and changed horse.

The people were Highlanders, and spoke little English; we had struck
the beginning of the Gaelic settlement. From here to Hogamah we should
encounter only the Gaelic tongue; the inhabitants are all Catholics.
Very civil people, apparently, and living in a kind of niggardly thrift,
such as the cold land affords. We saw of this family the old man, who
had come from Scotland fifty years ago, his stalwart son, six feet and a
half high, maybe, and two buxom daughters, going to the hay-field,--good
solid Scotch lassies, who smiled in English, but spoke only Gaelic.
The old man could speak a little English, and was disposed to be
both communicative and inquisitive. He asked our business, names, and
residence. Of the United States he had only a dim conception, but his
mind rather rested upon the statement that we lived “near Boston.” He
complained of the degeneracy of the times. All the young men had gone
away from Cape Breton; might get rich if they would stay and work the
farms. But no one liked to work nowadays. From life, we diverted the
talk to literature. We inquired what books they had.

“Of course you all have the poems of Burns?”

“What’s the name o’ the mon?”

“Burns, Robert Burns.”

“Never heard tell of such a mon. Have heard of Robert Bruce. He was a
Scotchman.”

This was nothing short of refreshing, to find a Scotchman who had never
heard of Robert Burns! It was worth the whole journey to take this
honest man by the hand. How far would I not travel to talk with an
American who had never heard of George Washington!

The way was more varied during the next stage; we passed through some
pleasant valleys and picturesque neighborhoods, and at length, winding
around the base of a wooded range, and crossing its point, we came upon
a sight that took all the sleep out of us. This was the famous Bras
d’Or.

The Bras d’Or is the most beautiful salt-water lake I have ever seen,
and more beautiful than we had imagined a body of salt water could be.
If the reader will take the map, he will see that two narrow estuaries,
the Great and the Little Bras d’Or, enter the island of Cape Breton, on
the ragged northeast coast, above the town of Sydney, and flow in, at
length widening out and occupying the heart of the island. The water
seeks out all the low places, and ramifies the interior, running away
into lovely bays and lagoons, leaving slender tongues of land and
picturesque islands, and bringing into the recesses of the land, to the
remote country farms and settlements, the flavor of salt, and the fish
and mollusks of the briny sea. There is very little tide at any time, so
that the shores are clean and sightly for the most part, like those of
fresh-water lakes. It has all the pleasantness of a fresh-water lake,
with all the advantages of a salt one. In the streams which run into it
are the speckled trout, the shad, and the salmon; out of its depths are
hooked the cod and the mackerel, and in its bays fattens the oyster.
This irregular lake is about a hundred miles long, if you measure it
skillfully, and in some places ten miles broad; but so indented is it,
that I am not sure but one would need, as we were informed, to ride a
thousand miles to go round it, following all its incursions into the
land. The hills about it are never more than five or six hundred
feet high, but they are high enough for reposeful beauty, and offer
everywhere pleasing lines.

What we first saw was an inlet of the Bras d’Or, called, by the driver,
Hogamah Bay. At its entrance were long, wooded islands, beyond which
we saw the backs of graceful hills, like the capes of some poetic
sea-coast. The bay narrowed to a mile in width where we came upon it,
and ran several miles inland to a swamp, round the head of which we must
go. Opposite was the village of Hogamah. I had my suspicions from the
beginning about this name, and now asked the driver, who was liberally
educated for a driver, how he spelled “Hogamah.”

“Why-ko-ko-magh. Hogamah.”

Sometimes it is called Wykogamah. Thus the innocent traveler is misled.
Along the Whykokomagh Bay we come to a permanent encampment of the
Micmac Indians,--a dozen wigwams in the pine woods. Though lumber is
plenty, they refuse to live in houses. The wigwams, however, are
more picturesque than the square frame houses of the whites. Built up
conically of poles, with a hole in the top for the smoke to escape, and
often set up a little from the ground on a timber foundation, they are
as pleasing to the eye as a Chinese or Turkish dwelling. They may be
cold in winter, but blessed be the tenacity of barbarism, which retains
this agreeable architecture. The men live by hunting in the season,
and the women support the family by making moccasins and baskets. These
Indians are most of them good Catholics, and they try to go once a year
to mass and a sort of religious festival held at St. Peter’s, where
their sins are forgiven in a yearly lump.

At Whykokomagh, a neat fishing village of white houses, we stopped for
dinner at the Inverness House. The house was very clean, and the tidy
landlady gave us as good a dinner as she could of the inevitable green
tea, toast, and salt fish. She was Gaelic, but Protestant, as the
village is, and showed us with pride her Gaelic Bible and hymn-book. A
peaceful place, this Whykokomagh; the lapsing waters of Bras d’Or made
a summer music all along the quiet street; the bay lay smiling with its
islands in front, and an amphitheater of hills rose behind. But for the
line of telegraph poles one might have fancied he could have security
and repose here.

We put a fresh pony into the shafts, a beast born with an everlasting
uneasiness in his legs, and an amount of “go” in him which suited his
reckless driver. We no longer stood upon the order of our going; we
went. As we left the village, we passed a rocky hay-field, where the
Gaelic farmer was gathering the scanty yield of grass. A comely Indian
girl was stowing the hay and treading it down on the wagon. The driver
hailed the farmer, and they exchanged Gaelic repartee which set all the
hay-makers in a roar, and caused the Indian maid to darkly and sweetly
beam upon us. We asked the driver what he had said. He had only inquired
what the man would take for the load--as it stood! A joke is a joke down
this way.

I am not about to describe this drive at length, in order that the
reader may skip it; for I know the reader, being of like passion and
fashion with him. From the time we first struck the Bras d’Or for thirty
miles we rode in constant sight of its magnificent water. Now we were
two hundred feet above the water, on the hillside, skirting a point or
following an indentation; and now we were diving into a narrow valley,
crossing a stream, or turning a sharp corner, but always with the Bras
d’Or in view, the afternoon sun shining on it, softening the outlines of
its embracing hills, casting a shadow from its wooded islands. Sometimes
we opened on a broad water plain bounded by the Watchabaktchkt hills,
and again we looked over hill after hill receding into the soft and hazy
blue of the land beyond the great mass of the Bras d’Or. The reader can
compare the view and the ride to the Bay of Naples and the Cornice Road;
we did nothing of the sort; we held on to the seat, prayed that the
harness of the pony might not break, and gave constant expression to
our wonder and delight. For a week we had schooled ourselves to expect
nothing more from this wicked world, but here was an enchanting vision.

The only phenomenon worthy the attention of any inquiring mind, in this
whole record, I will now describe. As we drove along the side of a
hill, and at least two hundred feet above the water, the road suddenly
diverged and took a circuit higher up. The driver said that was to avoid
a sink-hole in the old road,--a great curiosity, which it was worth
while to examine. Beside the old road was a circular hole, which nipped
out a part of the road-bed, some twenty-five feet in diameter, filled
with water almost to the brim, but not running over. The water was dark
in color, and I fancied had a brackish taste. The driver said that a few
weeks before, when he came this way, it was solid ground where this well
now opened, and that a large beech-tree stood there. When he returned
next day, he found this hole full of water, as we saw it, and the large
tree had sunk in it. The size of the hole seemed to be determined by the
reach of the roots of the tree. The tree had so entirely disappeared,
that he could not with a long pole touch its top. Since then the water
had neither subsided nor overflowed. The ground about was compact
gravel. We tried sounding the hole with poles, but could make nothing of
it. The water seemed to have no outlet nor inlet; at least, it did not
rise or fall. Why should the solid hill give way at this place, and
swallow up a tree? and if the water had any connection with the lake,
two hundred feet below and at some distance away, why didn’t the water
run out? Why should the unscientific traveler have a thing of this kind
thrown in his way? The driver did not know.

This phenomenon made us a little suspicious of the foundations of this
island which is already invaded by the jealous ocean, and is anchored to
the continent only by the cable.

The drive became more charming as the sun went down, and we saw the
hills grow purple beyond the Bras d’Or. The road wound around lovely
coves and across low promontories, giving us new beauties at every turn.
Before dark we had crossed the Middle River and the Big Baddeck, on long
wooden bridges, which straggled over sluggish waters and long reaches
of marsh, upon which Mary might have been sent to call the cattle home.
These bridges were shaky and wanted a plank at intervals, but they
are in keeping with the enterprise of the country. As dusk came on,
we crossed the last hill, and were bowling along by the still gleaming
water. Lights began to appear in infrequent farmhouses, and under cover
of the gathering night the houses seemed to be stately mansions; and we
fancied we were on a noble highway, lined with elegant suburban seaside
residences, and about to drive into a town of wealth and a port of great
commerce. We were, nevertheless, anxious about Baddeck. What sort of
haven were we to reach after our heroic (with the reader’s permission)
week of travel? Would the hotel be like that at Plaster Cove? Were our
thirty-six hours of sleepless staging to terminate in a night of misery
and a Sunday of discomfort?

We came into a straggling village; that we could see by the starlight.
But we stopped at the door of a very unhotel-like appearing hotel. It
had in front a flower-garden; it was blazing with welcome lights; it
opened hospitable doors, and we were received by a family who expected
us. The house was a large one, for two guests; and we enjoyed the luxury
of spacious rooms, an abundant supper, and a friendly welcome; and, in
short, found ourselves at home. The proprietor of the Telegraph House
is the superintendent of the land lines of Cape Breton, a Scotchman,
of course; but his wife is a Newfoundland lady. We cannot violate the
sanctity of what seemed like private hospitality by speaking freely of
this lady and the lovely girls, her daughters, whose education has been
so admirably advanced in the excellent school at Baddeck; but we can
confidently advise any American who is going to Newfoundland, to get a
wife there, if he wants one at all. It is the only new article he can
bring from the Provinces that he will not have to pay duty on. And
here is a suggestion to our tariff-mongers for the “protection” of New
England women.

The reader probably cannot appreciate the delicious sense of rest and
of achievement which we enjoyed in this tidy inn, nor share the
anticipations of undisturbed, luxurious sleep, in which we indulged as
we sat upon the upper balcony after supper, and saw the moon rise over
the glistening Bras d’Or and flood with light the islands and headlands
of the beautiful bay. Anchored at some distance from the shore was
a slender coasting vessel. The big red moon happened to come up just
behind it, and the masts and spars and ropes of the vessel came out,
distinctly traced on the golden background, making such a night picture
as I once saw painted of a ship in a fiord of Norway. The scene was
enchanting. And we respected then the heretofore seemingly insane
impulse that had driven us on to Baddeck.



IV

     “He had no ill-will to the Scotch; for, if he had been
     conscious of that, he never would have thrown himself into
     the bosom of their country, and trusted to the protection of
     its remote inhabitants with a fearless confidence.”
      --BOSWELL’S JOHNSON.

Although it was an open and flagrant violation of the Sabbath day as it
is kept in Scotch Baddeck, our kind hosts let us sleep late on Sunday
morning, with no reminder that we were not sleeping the sleep of the
just. It was the charming Maud, a flitting sunbeam of a girl, who waited
to bring us our breakfast, and thereby lost the opportunity of going
to church with the rest of the family,--an act of gracious hospitality
which the tired travelers appreciated.

The travelers were unable, indeed, to awaken into any feeling of
Sabbatical straitness. The morning was delicious,--such a morning as
never visits any place except an island; a bright, sparkling morning,
with the exhilaration of the air softened by the sea. What a day it was
for idleness, for voluptuous rest, after the flight by day and night
from St. John! It was enough, now that the morning was fully opened
and advancing to the splendor of noon, to sit upon the upper balcony,
looking upon the Bras d’Or and the peaceful hills beyond, reposeful and
yet sparkling with the air and color of summer, and inhale the balmy
air. (We greatly need another word to describe good air, properly
heated, besides this overworked “balmy.”) Perhaps it might in some
regions be considered Sabbath-keeping, simply to rest in such a soothing
situation,--rest, and not incessant activity, having been one of the
original designs of the day.

But our travelers were from New England, and they were not willing to
be outdone in the matter of Sunday observances by such an out-of-the-way
and nameless place as Baddeck. They did not set themselves up as
missionaries to these benighted Gaelic people, to teach them by example
that the notion of Sunday which obtained two hundred years ago in
Scotland had been modified, and that the sacredness of it had pretty
much disappeared with the unpleasantness of it. They rather lent
themselves to the humor of the hour, and probably by their demeanor
encouraged the respect for the day on Cape Breton Island. Neither by
birth nor education were the travelers fishermen on Sunday, and they
were not moved to tempt the authorities to lock them up for dropping
here a line and there a line on the Lord’s day.

In fact, before I had finished my second cup of Maud-mixed coffee, my
companion, with a little show of haste, had gone in search of the kirk,
and I followed him, with more scrupulousness, as soon as I could without
breaking the day of rest. Although it was Sunday, I could not but notice
that Baddeck was a clean-looking village of white wooden houses, of
perhaps seven or eight hundred inhabitants; that it stretched along
the bay for a mile or more, straggling off into farmhouses at each end,
lying for the most part on the sloping curve of the bay. There were a
few country-looking stores and shops, and on the shore three or four
rather decayed and shaky wharves ran into the water, and a few schooners
lay at anchor near them; and the usual decaying warehouses leaned about
the docks. A peaceful and perhaps a thriving place, but not a bustling
place. As I walked down the road, a sailboat put out from the shore
and slowly disappeared round the island in the direction of the Grand
Narrows. It had a small pleasure party on board. None of them were
drowned that day, and I learned at night that they were Roman Catholics
from Whykokornagh.

The kirk, which stands near the water, and at a distance shows a pretty
wooden spire, is after the pattern of a New England meeting-house. When
I reached it, the house was full and the service had begun. There was
something familiar in the bareness and uncompromising plainness
and ugliness of the interior. The pews had high backs, with narrow,
uncushioned seats. The pulpit was high,--a sort of theological
fortification,--approached by wide, curving flights of stairs on either
side. Those who occupied the near seats to the right and left of the
pulpit had in front of them a blank board partition, and could not
by any possibility see the minister, though they broke their necks
backwards over their high coat-collars. The congregation had a striking
resemblance to a country New England congregation of say twenty years
ago. The clothes they wore had been Sunday clothes for at least that
length of time.

Such clothes have a look of I know not what devout and painful
respectability, that is in keeping with the worldly notion of rigid
Scotch Presbyterianism. One saw with pleasure the fresh and rosy-cheeked
children of this strict generation, but the women of the audience were
not in appearance different from newly arrived and respectable Irish
immigrants. They wore a white cap with long frills over the forehead,
and a black handkerchief thrown over it and hanging down the neck,--a
quaint and not unpleasing disguise.

The house, as I said, was crowded. It is the custom in this region to
go to church,--for whole families to go, even the smallest children;
and they not unfrequently walk six or seven miles to attend the service.
There is a kind of merit in this act that makes up for the lack of
certain other Christian virtues that are practiced elsewhere. The
service was worth coming seven miles to participate in!--it was about
two hours long, and one might well feel as if he had performed a work
of long-suffering to sit through it. The singing was strictly
congregational. Congregational singing is good (for those who like it)
when the congregation can sing. This congregation could not sing, but it
could grind the Psalms of David powerfully. They sing nothing else but
the old Scotch version of the Psalms, in a patient and faithful long
meter. And this is regarded, and with considerable plausibility, as an
act of worship. It certainly has small element of pleasure in it.
Here is a stanza from Psalm xlv., which the congregation, without any
instrumental nonsense, went through in a dragging, drawling manner, and
with perfect individual independence as to time:

“Thine arrows sharply pierce the heart of th’ enemies of the king, And
under thy sub-jec-shi-on the people down do bring.”

The sermon was extempore, and in English with Scotch pronunciation; and
it filled a solid hour of time. I am not a good judge of sermons, and
this one was mere chips to me; but my companion, who knows a sermon
when he hears it, said that this was strictly theological, and Scotch
theology at that, and not at all expository. It was doubtless my fault
that I got no idea whatever from it. But the adults of the congregation
appeared to be perfectly satisfied with it; at least they sat bolt
upright and nodded assent continually. The children all went to sleep
under it, without any hypocritical show of attention. To be sure, the
day was warm and the house was unventilated. If the windows had been
opened so as to admit the fresh air from the Bras d’Or, I presume
the hard-working farmers and their wives would have resented such an
interference with their ordained Sunday naps, and the preacher’s sermon
would have seemed more musty than it appeared to be in that congenial
and drowsy air. Considering that only half of the congregation could
understand the preacher, its behavior was exemplary.

After the sermon, a collection was taken up for the minister; and I
noticed that nothing but pennies rattled into the boxes,--a melancholy
sound for the pastor. This might appear niggardly on the part of these
Scotch Presbyterians, but it is on principle that they put only a penny
into the box; they say that they want a free gospel, and so far as they
are concerned they have it. Although the farmers about the Bras d’Or are
well-to-do they do not give their minister enough to keep his soul in
his Gaelic body, and his poor support is eked out by the contributions
of a missionary society. It was gratifying to learn that this was
not from stinginess on the part of the people, but was due to their
religious principle. It seemed to us that everybody ought to be good in
a country where it costs next to nothing.

When the service was over, about half of the people departed; the
rest remained in their seats and prepared to enter upon their Sabbath
exercises. These latter were all Gaelic people, who had understood
little or nothing of the English service. The minister turned himself
at once into a Gaelic preacher and repeated in that language the long
exercises of the morning. The sermon and perhaps the prayers were
quite as enjoyable in Gaelic as in English, and the singing was a great
improvement. It was of the same Psalms, but the congregation chanted
them in a wild and weird tone and manner, as wailing and barbarous to
modern ears as any Highland devotional outburst of two centuries ago.
This service also lasted about two hours; and as soon as it was over
the faithful minister, without any rest or refreshment, organized the
Sunday-school, and it must have been half past three o’clock before that
was over. And this is considered a day of rest.

These Gaelic Christians, we were informed, are of a very old pattern;
and some of them cling more closely to religious observances than to
morality. Sunday is nowhere observed with more strictness. The community
seems to be a very orderly and thrifty one, except upon solemn and
stated occasions. One of these occasions is the celebration of
the Lord’s Supper; and in this the ancient Highland traditions are
preserved. The rite is celebrated not oftener than once a year by
any church. It then invites the neighboring churches to partake with
it,--the celebration being usually in the summer and early fall months.
It has some of the characteristics of a “camp-meeting.” People come from
long distances, and as many as two thousand and three thousand assemble
together. They quarter themselves without special invitation upon the
members of the inviting church. Sometimes fifty people will pounce upon
one farmer, overflowing his house and his barn and swarming all about
his premises, consuming all the provisions he has laid up for his
family, and all he can raise money to buy, and literally eating him out
of house and home. Not seldom a man is almost ruined by one of these
religious raids,--at least he is left with a debt of hundreds of
dollars. The multitude assembles on Thursday and remains over Sunday.
There is preaching every day, but there is something besides. Whatever
may be the devotion of a part of the assembly, the four days are,
in general, days of license, of carousing, of drinking, and of other
excesses, which our informant said he would not particularize; we
could understand what they were by reading St. Paul’s rebuke of the
Corinthians for similar offenses. The evil has become so great and
burdensome that the celebration of this sacred rite will have to be
reformed altogether.

Such a Sabbath quiet pervaded the street of Baddeck, that the fast
driving of the Gaels in their rattling, one-horse wagons, crowded
full of men, women, and children,--released from their long sanctuary
privileges, and going home,--was a sort of profanation of the day; and
we gladly turned aside to visit the rural jail of the town.

Upon the principal street or road of Baddeck stands the dreadful
prison-house. It is a story and a quarter edifice, built of stone and
substantially whitewashed; retired a little from the road, with a square
of green turf in front of it, I should have taken it for the residence
of the Dairyman’s Daughter, but for the iron gratings at the lower
windows. A more inviting place to spend the summer in, a vicious person
could not have. The Scotch keeper of it is an old, garrulous, obliging
man, and keeps codfish tackle to loan. I think that if he had a prisoner
who was fond of fishing, he would take him with him on the bay in
pursuit of the mackerel and the cod. If the prisoner were to take
advantage of his freedom and attempt to escape, the jailer’s feelings
would be hurt, and public opinion would hardly approve the prisoner’s
conduct.

The jail door was hospitably open, and the keeper invited us to enter.
Having seen the inside of a good many prisons in our own country
(officially), we were interested in inspecting this. It was a favorable
time for doing so, for there happened to be a man confined there,
a circumstance which seemed to increase the keeper’s feeling of
responsibility in his office. The edifice had four rooms on the
ground-floor, and an attic sleeping-room above. Three of these rooms,
which were perhaps twelve feet by fifteen feet, were cells; the third
was occupied by the jailer’s family. The family were now also occupying
the front cell,--a cheerful room commanding a view of the village
street and of the bay. A prisoner of a philosophic turn of mind, who
had committed some crime of sufficient magnitude to make him willing to
retire from the world for a season and rest, might enjoy himself here
very well.

The jailer exhibited his premises with an air of modesty. In the rear
was a small yard, surrounded by a board fence, in which the prisoner
took his exercise. An active boy could climb over it, and an
enterprising pig could go through it almost anywhere. The keeper said
that he intended at the next court to ask the commissioners to build
the fence higher and stop up the holes. Otherwise the jail was in good
condition. Its inmates were few; in fact, it was rather apt to be empty:
its occupants were usually prisoners for debt, or for some trifling
breach of the peace, committed under the influence of the liquor that
makes one “unco happy.” Whether or not the people of the region have
a high moral standard, crime is almost unknown; the jail itself is an
evidence of primeval simplicity. The great incident in the old jailer’s
life had been the rescue of a well-known citizen who was confined on a
charge of misuse of public money. The keeper showed me a place in the
outer wall of the front cell, where an attempt had been made to batter
a hole through. The Highland clan and kinsfolk of the alleged defaulter
came one night and threatened to knock the jail in pieces if he was not
given up. They bruised the wall, broke the windows, and finally smashed
in the door and took their man away. The jailer was greatly excited at
this rudeness, and went almost immediately and purchased a pistol. He
said that for a time he did n’t feel safe in the jail without it. The
mob had thrown stones at the upper windows, in order to awaken him, and
had insulted him with cursing and offensive language.

Having finished inspecting the building, I was unfortunately moved by I
know not what national pride and knowledge of institutions superior to
this at home, to say,

“This is a pleasant jail, but it doesn’t look much like our great
prisons; we have as many as a thousand to twelve hundred men in some of
our institutions.”

“Ay, ay, I have heard tell,” said the jailer, shaking his head in pity,
“it’s an awfu’ place, an awfu’ place,--the United States. I suppose it’s
the wickedest country that ever was in the world. I don’t know,--I don’t
know what is to become of it. It’s worse than Sodom. There was that
dreadful war on the South; and I hear now it’s very unsafe, full of
murders and robberies and corruption.”

I did not attempt to correct this impression concerning my native land,
for I saw it was a comfort to the simple jailer, but I tried to put a
thorn into him by saying,

“Yes, we have a good many criminals, but the majority of them, the
majority of those in jails, are foreigners; they come from Ireland,
England, and the Provinces.”

But the old man only shook his head more solemnly, and persisted, “It’s
an awfu’ wicked country.”

Before I came away I was permitted to have an interview with the
sole prisoner, a very pleasant and talkative man, who was glad to see
company, especially intelligent company who understood about things, he
was pleased to say. I have seldom met a more agreeable rogue, or one so
philosophical, a man of travel and varied experiences. He was a lively,
robust Provincial of middle age, bullet-headed, with a mass of curly
black hair, and small, round black eyes, that danced and sparkled with
good humor. He was by trade a carpenter, and had a work-bench in his
cell, at which he worked on week-days. He had been put in jail on
suspicion of stealing a buffalo-robe, and he lay in jail eight months,
waiting for the judge to come to Baddeck on his yearly circuit. He did
not steal the robe, as he assured me, but it was found in his house, and
the judge gave him four months in jail, making a year in all,--a month
of which was still to serve. But he was not at all anxious for the end
of his term; for his wife was outside.

Jock, for he was familiarly so called, asked me where I was from. As I
had not found it very profitable to hail from the United States, and had
found, in fact, that the name United States did not convey any definite
impression to the average Cape Breton mind, I ventured upon the bold
assertion, for which I hope Bostonians will forgive me, that I was from
Boston. For Boston is known in the eastern Provinces.

“Are you?” cried the man, delighted. “I’ve lived in Boston, myself.
There’s just been an awful fire near there.”

“Indeed!” I said; “I heard nothing of it.’ And I was startled with the
possibility that Boston had burned up again while we were crawling along
through Nova Scotia.

“Yes, here it is, in the last paper.” The man bustled away and found his
late paper, and thrust it through the grating, with the inquiry, “Can
you read?”

Though the question was unexpected, and I had never thought before
whether I could read or not, I confessed that I could probably make
out the meaning, and took the newspaper. The report of the fire “near
Boston” turned out to be the old news of the conflagration in Portland,
Oregon!

Disposed to devote a portion of this Sunday to the reformation of this
lively criminal, I continued the conversation with him. It seemed that
he had been in jail before, and was not unaccustomed to the life. He was
not often lonesome; he had his workbench and newspapers, and it was a
quiet place; on the whole, he enjoyed it, and should rather regret it
when his time was up, a month from then.

Had he any family?

“Oh, yes. When the census was round, I contributed more to it than
anybody in town. Got a wife and eleven children.”

“Well, don’t you think it would pay best to be honest, and live with
your family, out of jail? You surely never had anything but trouble from
dishonesty.”

“That’s about so, boss. I mean to go on the square after this. But, you
see,” and here he began to speak confidentially, “things are fixed about
so in this world, and a man’s got to live his life. I tell you how
it was. It all came about from a woman. I was a carpenter, had a good
trade, and went down to St. Peter’s to work. There I got acquainted with
a Frenchwoman,--you know what Frenchwomen are,--and I had to marry her.
The fact is, she was rather low family; not so very low, you know, but
not so good as mine. Well, I wanted to go to Boston to work at my trade,
but she wouldn’t go; and I went, but she would n’t come to me, so in two
or three years I came back. A man can’t help himself, you know, when he
gets in with a woman, especially a Frenchwoman. Things did n’t go very
well, and never have. I can’t make much out of it, but I reckon a man ‘s
got to live his life. Ain’t that about so?”

“Perhaps so. But you’d better try to mend matters when you get out.
Won’t it seem rather good to get out and see your wife and family
again?”

“I don’t know. I have peace here.”

The question of his liberty seemed rather to depress this cheerful and
vivacious philosopher, and I wondered what the woman could be from whose
companionship the man chose to be protected by jail-bolts. I asked the
landlord about her, and his reply was descriptive and sufficient. He
only said,

“She’s a yelper.”

Besides the church and the jail there are no public institutions in
Baddeck to see on Sunday, or on any other day; but it has very good
schools, and the examination-papers of Maud and her elder sister would
do credit to Boston scholars even. You would not say that the place
was stuffed with books, or overrun by lecturers, but it is an orderly,
Sabbath-keeping, fairly intelligent town. Book-agents visit it with
other commercial travelers, but the flood of knowledge, which is said
to be the beginning of sorrow, is hardly turned in that direction yet.
I heard of a feeble lecture-course in Halifax, supplied by local
celebrities, some of them from St. John; but so far as I can see, this
is a virgin field for the platform philosophers under whose instructions
we have become the well-informed people we are.

The peaceful jail and the somewhat tiresome church exhaust one’s
opportunities for doing good in Baddeck on Sunday. There seemed to be no
idlers about, to reprove; the occasional lounger on the skeleton wharves
was in his Sunday clothes, and therefore within the statute. No one,
probably, would have thought of rowing out beyond the island to fish for
cod,--although, as that fish is ready to bite, and his associations
are more or less sacred, there might be excuses for angling for him
on Sunday, when it would be wicked to throw a line for another sort of
fish. My earliest recollections are of the codfish on the meeting-house
spires in New England,--his sacred tail pointing the way the wind went.
I did not know then why this emblem should be placed upon a house of
worship, any more than I knew why codfish-balls appeared always upon the
Sunday breakfast-table. But these associations invested this plebeian
fish with something of a religious character, which he has never quite
lost, in my mind.

Having attributed the quiet of Baddeck on Sunday to religion, we did not
know to what to lay the quiet on Monday. But its peacefulness continued.
I have no doubt that the farmers began to farm, and the traders to
trade, and the sailors to sail; but the tourist felt that he had come
into a place of rest. The promise of the red sky the evening before was
fulfilled in another royal day. There was an inspiration in the air that
one looks for rather in the mountains than on the sea-coast; it seemed
like some new and gentle compound of sea-air and land-air, which was the
perfection of breathing material. In this atmosphere, which seemed to
flow over all these Atlantic isles at this season, one endures a great
deal of exertion with little fatigue; or he is content to sit still, and
has no feeling of sluggishness. Mere living is a kind of happiness, and
the easy-going traveler is satisfied with little to do and less to see,
Let the reader not understand that we are recommending him to go to
Baddeck. Far from it. The reader was never yet advised to go to any
place, which he did not growl about if he took the advice and went
there. If he discovers it himself, the case is different. We know too
well what would happen. A shoal of travelers would pour down upon Cape
Breton, taking with them their dyspepsia, their liver-complaints, their
“lights” derangements, their discontent, their guns and fishing-tackle,
their big trunks, their desire for rapid travel, their enthusiasm about
the Gaelic language, their love for nature; and they would very likely
declare that there was nothing in it. And the traveler would probably be
right, so far as he is concerned. There are few whom it would pay to go
a thousand miles for the sake of sitting on the dock at Baddeck when
the sun goes down, and watching the purple lights on the islands and
the distant hills, the red flush in the horizon and on the lake, and the
creeping on of gray twilight. You can see all that as well elsewhere?
I am not so sure. There is a harmony of beauty about the Bras d’Or
at Baddeck which is lacking in many scenes of more pretension. No. We
advise no person to go to Cape Breton. But if any one does go, he need
not lack occupation. If he is there late in the fall or early in the
winter, he may hunt, with good luck, if he is able to hit anything with
a rifle, the moose and the caribou on that long wilderness peninsula
between Baddeck and Aspy Bay, where the old cable landed. He may also
have his fill of salmon fishing in June and July, especially on the
Matjorie River. As late as August, at the time, of our visit, a hundred
people were camped in tents on the Marjorie, wiling the salmon with
the delusive fly, and leading him to death with a hook in his nose. The
speckled trout lives in all the streams, and can be caught whenever he
will bite. The day we went for him appeared to be an off-day, a sort of
holiday with him.

There is one place, however, which the traveler must not fail to visit.
That is St. Ann’s Bay. He will go light of baggage, for he must hire
a farmer to carry him from the Bras d’Or to the branch of St. Ann’s
harbor, and a part of his journey will be in a row-boat. There is no
ride on the continent, of the kind, so full of picturesque beauty and
constant surprises as this around the indentations of St. Ann’s harbor.
From the high promontory where rests the fishing village of St. Ann, the
traveler will cross to English Town. High bluffs, bold shores, exquisite
sea-views, mountainous ranges, delicious air, the society of a member of
the Dominion Parliament, these are some of the things to be enjoyed at
this place. In point of grandeur and beauty it surpasses Mt. Desert, and
is really the most attractive place on the whole line of the Atlantic
Cable. If the traveler has any sentiment in him, he will visit here, not
without emotion, the grave of the Nova Scotia Giant, who recently laid
his huge frame along this, his native shore. A man of gigantic height
and awful breadth of shoulders, with a hand as big as a shovel, there
was nothing mean or little in his soul. While the visitor is gazing at
his vast shoes, which now can be used only as sledges, he will be
told that the Giant was greatly respected by his neighbors as a man of
ability and simple integrity. He was not spoiled by his metropolitan
successes, bringing home from his foreign triumphs the same quiet and
friendly demeanor he took away; he is almost the only example of a
successful public man, who did not feel bigger than he was. He performed
his duty in life without ostentation, and returned to the home he loved
unspoiled by the flattery of constant public curiosity. He knew, having
tried both, how much better it is to be good than to be great. I should
like to have known him. I should like to know how the world looked to
him from his altitude. I should like to know how much food it took at
one time to make an impression on him; I should like to know what effect
an idea of ordinary size had in his capacious head. I should like to
feel that thrill of physical delight he must have experienced in merely
closing his hand over something. It is a pity that he could not have
been educated all through, beginning at a high school, and ending in a
university. There was a field for the multifarious new education! If we
could have annexed him with his island, I should like to have seen him
in the Senate of the United States. He would have made foreign nations
respect that body, and fear his lightest remark like a declaration of
war. And he would have been at home in that body of great men. Alas!
he has passed away, leaving little influence except a good example of
growth, and a grave which is a new promontory on that ragged coast swept
by the winds of the untamed Atlantic.

I could describe the Bay of St. Ann more minutely and graphically, if it
were desirable to do so; but I trust that enough has been said to make
the traveler wish to go there. I more unreservedly urge him to go there,
because we did not go, and we should feel no responsibility for his
liking or disliking. He will go upon the recommendation of two gentlemen
of taste and travel whom we met at Baddeck, residents of Maine and
familiar with most of the odd and striking combinations of land and
water in coast scenery. When a Maine man admits that there is any place
finer than Mt. Desert, it is worth making a note of.

On Monday we went a-fishing. Davie hitched to a rattling wagon something
that he called a horse, a small, rough animal with a great deal of “go”
 in him, if he could be coaxed to show it. For the first half-hour
he went mostly in a circle in front of the inn, moving indifferently
backwards or forwards, perfectly willing to go down the road, but
refusing to start along the bay in the direction of Middle River. Of
course a crowd collected to give advice and make remarks, and women
appeared at the doors and windows of adjacent houses. Davie said he did
n’t care anything about the conduct of the horse,--he could start him
after a while,--but he did n’t like to have all the town looking at
him, especially the girls; and besides, such an exhibition affected the
market value of the horse. We sat in the wagon circling round and round,
sometimes in the ditch and sometimes out of it, and Davie “whaled” the
horse with his whip and abused him with his tongue. It was a pleasant
day, and the spectators increased.

There are two ways of managing a balky horse. My companion knew one of
them and I the other. His method is to sit quietly in the wagon, and at
short intervals throw a small pebble at the horse. The theory is that
these repeated sudden annoyances will operate on a horse’s mind, and he
will try to escape them by going on. The spectators supplied my friend
with stones, and he pelted the horse with measured gentleness. Probably
the horse understood this method, for he did not notice the attack at
all. My plan was to speak gently to the horse, requesting him to go, and
then to follow the refusal by one sudden, sharp cut of the lash; to wait
a moment, and then repeat the operation. The dread of the coming lash
after the gentle word will start any horse. I tried this, and with a
certain success. The horse backed us into the ditch, and would probably
have backed himself into the wagon, if I had continued. When the animal
was at length ready to go, Davie took him by the bridle, ran by his
side, coaxed him into a gallop, and then, leaping in behind, lashed
him into a run, which had little respite for ten miles, uphill or down.
Remonstrance on behalf of the horse was in vain, and it was only on the
return home that this specimen Cape Breton driver began to reflect how
he could erase the welts from the horse’s back before his father saw
them.

Our way lay along the charming bay of the Bras d’Or, over the sprawling
bridge of the Big Baddeck, a black, sedgy, lonesome stream, to Middle
River, which debouches out of a scraggy country into a bayou with ragged
shores, about which the Indians have encampments, and in which are the
skeleton stakes of fish-weirs. Saturday night we had seen trout jumping
in the still water above the bridge. We followed the stream up two or
three miles to a Gaelic settlement of farmers. The river here flows
through lovely meadows, sandy, fertile, and sheltered by hills,--a green
Eden, one of the few peaceful inhabited spots in the world. I could
conceive of no news coming to these Highlanders later than the defeat
of the Pretender. Turning from the road, through a lane and crossing a
shallow brook, we reached the dwelling of one of the original McGregors,
or at least as good as an original. Mr. McGregor is a fiery-haired
Scotchman and brother, cordial and hospitable, who entertained our
wayward horse, and freely advised us where the trout on his farm were
most likely to be found at this season of the year.

It would be a great pleasure to speak well of Mr. McGregor’s residence,
but truth is older than Scotchmen, and the reader looks to us for truth
and not flattery. Though the McGregor seems to have a good farm, his
house is little better than a shanty, a rather cheerless place for the
“woman” to slave away her uneventful life in, and bring up her scantily
clothed and semi-wild flock of children. And yet I suppose there must
be happiness in it,--there always is where there are plenty of children,
and milk enough for them. A white-haired boy who lacked adequate
trousers, small though he was, was brought forward by his mother to
describe a trout he had recently caught, which was nearly as long as
the boy himself. The young Gael’s invention was rewarded by a present of
real fish-hooks. We found here in this rude cabin the hospitality that
exists in all remote regions where travelers are few. Mrs. McGregor
had none of that reluctance, which women feel in all more civilized
agricultural regions, to “break a pan of milk,” and Mr. McGregor even
pressed us to partake freely of that simple drink. And he refused to
take any pay for it, in a sort of surprise that such a simple act of
hospitality should have any commercial value. But travelers themselves
destroy one of their chief pleasures. No doubt we planted the notion
in the McGregor mind that the small kindnesses of life may be made
profitable, by offering to pay for the milk; and probably the next
travelers in that Eden will succeed in leaving some small change there,
if they use a little tact.

It was late in the season for trout. Perhaps the McGregor was aware of
that when he freely gave us the run of the stream in his meadows, and
pointed out the pools where we should be sure of good luck. It was a
charming August day, just the day that trout enjoy lying in cool, deep
places, and moving their fins in quiet content, indifferent to the
skimming fly or to the proffered sport of rod and reel. The Middle
River gracefully winds through this Vale of Tempe, over a sandy bottom,
sometimes sparkling in shallows, and then gently reposing in the broad
bends of the grassy banks. It was in one of these bends, where the
stream swirled around in seductive eddies, that we tried our skill. We
heroically waded the stream and threw our flies from the highest bank;
but neither in the black water nor in the sandy shallows could any trout
be coaxed to spring to the deceitful leaders. We enjoyed the distinction
of being the only persons who had ever failed to strike trout in that
pool, and this was something. The meadows were sweet with the newly cut
grass, the wind softly blew down the river, large white clouds sailed
high overhead and cast shadows on the changing water; but to all these
gentle influences the fish were insensible, and sulked in their cool
retreats. At length in a small brook flowing into the Middle River we
found the trout more sociable; and it is lucky that we did so, for I
should with reluctance stain these pages with a fiction; and yet the
public would have just reason to resent a fish-story without any fish
in it. Under a bank, in a pool crossed by a log and shaded by a tree,
we found a drove of the speckled beauties at home, dozens of them a foot
long, each moving lazily a little, their black backs relieved by their
colored fins. They must have seen us, but at first they showed no desire
for a closer acquaintance. To the red ibis and the white miller and the
brown hackle and the gray fly they were alike indifferent. Perhaps the
love for made flies is an artificial taste and has to be cultivated.
These at any rate were uncivilized-trout, and it was only when we
took the advice of the young McGregor and baited our hooks with the
angleworm, that the fish joined in our day’s sport. They could not
resist the lively wiggle of the worm before their very noses, and we
lifted them out one after an other, gently, and very much as if we were
hooking them out of a barrel, until we had a handsome string. It may
have been fun for them but it was not much sport for us. All the small
ones the young McGregor contemptuously threw back into the water. The
sportsman will perhaps learn from this incident that there are plenty
of trout in Cape Breton in August, but that the fishing is not
exhilarating.

The next morning the semi-weekly steamboat from Sydney came into the
bay, and drew all the male inhabitants of Baddeck down to the wharf;
and the two travelers, reluctant to leave the hospitable inn, and the
peaceful jail, and the double-barreled church, and all the loveliness of
this reposeful place, prepared to depart. The most conspicuous person on
the steamboat was a thin man, whose extraordinary height was made
more striking by his very long-waisted black coat and his very short
pantaloons. He was so tall that he had a little difficulty in keeping
his balance, and his hat was set upon the back of his head to preserve
his equilibrium. He had arrived at that stage when people affected as
he was are oratorical, and overflowing with information and good-nature.
With what might in strict art be called an excess of expletives, he
explained that he was a civil engineer, that he had lost his rubber
coat, that he was a great traveler in the Provinces, and he seemed to
find a humorous satisfaction in reiterating the fact of his familiarity
with Painsec junction. It evidently hovered in the misty horizon of his
mind as a joke, and he contrived to present it to his audience in that
light. From the deck of the steamboat he addressed the town, and then,
to the relief of the passengers, he decided to go ashore. When the boat
drew away on her voyage we left him swaying perilously near the edge
of the wharf, good-naturedly resenting the grasp of his coat-tail by
a friend, addressing us upon the topics of the day, and wishing us
prosperity and the Fourth of July. His was the only effort in the nature
of a public lecture that we heard in the Provinces, and we could not
judge of his ability without hearing a “course.”

Perhaps it needed this slight disturbance, and the contrast of this
hazy mind with the serene clarity of the day, to put us into the most
complete enjoyment of our voyage. Certainly, as we glided out upon the
summer waters and began to get the graceful outlines of the widening
shores, it seemed as if we had taken passage to the Fortunate Islands.



V

     “One town, one country, is very like another;... there are
     indeed minute discriminations both of places and manners,
     which, perhaps, are not wanting of curiosity, but which a
     traveller seldom stays long enough to investigate and
     compare.”--DR. JOHNSON.

There was no prospect of any excitement or of any adventure on the
steamboat from Baddeck to West Bay, the southern point of the Bras d’Or.
Judging from the appearance of the boat, the dinner might have been an
experiment, but we ran no risks. It was enough to sit on deck forward of
the wheel-house, and absorb, by all the senses, the delicious day. With
such weather perpetual and such scenery always present, sin in this
world would soon become an impossibility. Even towards the passengers
from Sydney, with their imitation English ways and little insular
gossip, one could have only charity and the most kindly feeling.

The most electric American, heir of all the nervous diseases of all the
ages, could not but find peace in this scene of tranquil beauty, and
sail on into a great and deepening contentment. Would the voyage could
last for an age, with the same sparkling but tranquil sea, and the same
environment of hills, near and remote! The hills approached and fell
away in lines of undulating grace, draped with a tender color which
helped to carry the imagination beyond the earth. At this point the
narrative needs to flow into verse, but my comrade did not feel like
another attempt at poetry so soon after that on the Gut of Canso. A
man cannot always be keyed up to the pitch of production, though his
emotions may be highly creditable to him. But poetry-making in these
days is a good deal like the use of profane language,--often without the
least provocation.

Twelve miles from Baddeck we passed through the Barra Strait, or the
Grand Narrows, a picturesque feature in the Bras d’Or, and came into its
widest expanse. At the Narrows is a small settlement with a flag-staff
and a hotel, and roads leading to farmhouses on the hills. Here is a
Catholic chapel; and on shore a fat padre was waiting in his wagon
for the inevitable priest we always set ashore at such a place.
The missionary we landed was the young father from Arichat, and in
appearance the pleasing historical Jesuit. Slender is too corpulent a
word to describe his thinness, and his stature was primeval. Enveloped
in a black coat, the skirts of which reached his heels, and surmounted
by a black hat with an enormous brim, he had the form of an elegant
toadstool. The traveler is always grateful for such figures, and is not
disposed to quarrel with the faith which preserves so much of the ugly
picturesque. A peaceful farming country this, but an unremunerative
field, one would say, for the colporteur and the book-agent; and winter
must inclose it in a lonesome seclusion.

The only other thing of note the Bras d’Or offered us before we reached
West Bay was the finest show of medusm or jelly-fish that could be
produced. At first there were dozens of these disk-shaped, transparent
creatures, and then hundreds, starring the water like marguerites
sprinkled on a meadow, and of sizes from that of a teacup to a
dinner-plate. We soon ran into a school of them, a convention, a herd
as extensive as the vast buffalo droves on the plains, a collection as
thick as clover-blossoms in a field in June, miles of them, apparently;
and at length the boat had to push its way through a mass of them which
covered the water like the leaves of the pondlily, and filled the deeps
far down with their beautiful contracting and expanding forms. I did not
suppose there were so many jelly-fishes in all the world. What a repast
they would have made for the Atlantic whale we did not see, and what
inward comfort it would have given him to have swum through them once
or twice with open mouth! Our delight in this wondrous spectacle did
not prevent this generous wish for the gratification of the whale. It
is probably a natural human desire to see big corporations swallow up
little ones.

At the West Bay landing, where there is nothing whatever attractive,
we found a great concourse of country wagons and clamorous drivers, to
transport the passengers over the rough and uninteresting nine miles to
Port Hawkesbury. Competition makes the fare low, but nothing makes the
ride entertaining. The only settlement passed through has the promising
name of River Inhabitants, but we could see little river and less
inhabitants; country and people seem to belong to that commonplace order
out of which the traveler can extract nothing amusing, instructive, or
disagreeable; and it was a great relief when we came over the last hill
and looked down upon the straggling village of Port Hawkesbury and the
winding Gut of Canso.

One cannot but feel a respect for this historical strait, on account
of the protection it once gave our British ancestors. Smollett makes
a certain Captain C----tell this anecdote of George II. and his
enlightened minister, the Duke of Newcastle: “In the beginning of the
war this poor, half-witted creature told me, in a great fright, that
thirty thousand French had marched from Acadie to Cape Breton. ‘Where
did they find transports?’ said I. ‘Transports!’ cried he; ‘I tell you,
they marched by land.’ By land to the island of Cape Breton?’ ‘What! is
Cape Breton an island?’ ‘Certainly.’ ‘Ha! are you sure of that?’ When I
pointed it out on the map, he examined it earnestly with his spectacles;
then taking me in his arms, ‘My dear C----!’ cried he, you always bring
us good news. I’ll go directly and tell the king that Cape Breton is an
island.’”

Port Hawkesbury is not a modern settlement, and its public house is
one of the irregular, old-fashioned, stuffy taverns, with low rooms,
chintz-covered lounges, and fat-cushioned rocking-chairs, the decay and
untidiness of which are not offensive to the traveler. It has a low
back porch looking towards the water and over a mouldy garden, damp and
unseemly. Time was, no doubt, before the rush of travel rubbed off the
bloom of its ancient hospitality and set a vigilant man at the door
of the dining-room to collect pay for meals, that this was an abode of
comfort and the resort of merry-making and frolicsome provincials. On
this now decaying porch no doubt lovers sat in the moonlight, and vowed
by the Gut of Canso to be fond of each other forever. The traveler
cannot help it if he comes upon the traces of such sentiment. There
lingered yet in the house an air of the hospitable old time; the swift
willingness of the waiting-maids at table, who were eager that we should
miss none of the home-made dishes, spoke of it; and as we were not
obliged to stay in the hotel and lodge in its six-by-four bedrooms, we
could afford to make a little romance about its history.

While we were at supper the steamboat arrived from Pictou. We hastened
on board, impatient for progress on our homeward journey. But haste was
not called for. The steamboat would not sail on her return till morning.
No one could tell why. It was not on account of freight to take in or
discharge; it was not in hope of more passengers, for they were all on
board. But if the boat had returned that night to Pictou, some of the
passengers might have left her and gone west by rail, instead of wasting
two, or three days lounging through Northumberland Sound and idling in
the harbors of Prince Edward Island. If the steamboat would leave at
midnight, we could catch the railway train at Pictou. Probably the
officials were aware of this, and they preferred to have our company
to Shediac. We mention this so that the tourist who comes this way may
learn to possess his soul in patience, and know that steamboats are not
run for his accommodation, but to give him repose and to familiarize
him with the country. It is almost impossible to give the unscientific
reader an idea of the slowness of travel by steamboat in these regions.
Let him first fix his mind on the fact that the earth moves through
space at a speed of more than sixty-six thousand miles an hour. This is
a speed eleven hundred times greater than that of the most rapid
express trains. If the distance traversed by a locomotive in an hour is
represented by one tenth of an inch, it would need a line nine feet long
to indicate the corresponding advance of the earth in the same time.
But a tortoise, pursuing his ordinary gait without a wager, moves eleven
hundred times slower than an express train. We have here a basis of
comparison with the provincial steamboats. If we had seen a tortoise
start that night from Port Hawkesbury for the west, we should have
desired to send letters by him.

In the early morning we stole out of the romantic strait, and by
breakfast-time we were over St. George’s Bay and round his cape, and
making for the harbor of Pictou. During the forenoon something in the
nature of an excursion developed itself on the steamboat, but it had so
few of the bustling features of an American excursion that I thought
it might be a pilgrimage. Yet it doubtless was a highly developed
provincial lark. For a certain portion of the passengers had the
unmistakable excursion air: the half-jocular manner towards each
other, the local facetiousness which is so offensive to uninterested
fellow-travelers, that male obsequiousness about ladies’ shawls and
reticules, the clumsy pretense of gallantry with each other’s wives,
the anxiety about the company luggage and the company health. It became
painfully evident presently that it was an excursion, for we heard
singing of that concerted and determined kind that depresses the spirits
of all except those who join in it. The excursion had assembled on the
lee guards out of the wind, and was enjoying itself in an abandon of
serious musical enthusiasm. We feared at first that there might be some
levity in this performance, and that the unrestrained spirit of the
excursion was working itself off in social and convivial songs. But it
was not so. The singers were provided with hymn-and-tune books, and
what they sang they rendered in long meter and with a most doleful
earnestness. It is agreeable to the traveler to see that the provincials
disport themselves within bounds, and that an hilarious spree here does
not differ much in its exercises from a prayer-meeting elsewhere. But
the excursion enjoyed its staid dissipation amazingly.

It is pleasant to sail into the long and broad harbor of Pictou on a
sunny day. On the left is the Halifax railway terminus, and three rivers
flow into the harbor from the south. On the right the town of Pictou,
with its four thousand inhabitants, lies upon the side of the ridge that
runs out towards the Sound. The most conspicuous building in it as we
approach is the Roman Catholic church; advanced to the edge of the town
and occupying the highest ground, it appears large, and its gilt cross
is a beacon miles away. Its builders understood the value of a striking
situation, a dominant position; it is a part of the universal policy of
this church to secure the commanding places for its houses of worship.
We may have had no prejudices in favor of the Papal temporality when we
landed at Pictou, but this church was the only one which impressed us,
and the only one we took the trouble to visit. We had ample time, for
the steamboat after its arduous trip needed rest, and remained some
hours in the harbor. Pictou is said to be a thriving place, and its
streets have a cindery appearance, betokening the nearness of coal mines
and the presence of furnaces. But the town has rather a cheap and rusty
look. Its streets rise one above another on the hillside, and, except
a few comfortable cottages, we saw no evidences of wealth in the
dwellings. The church, when we reached it, was a commonplace brick
structure, with a raw, unfinished interior, and weedy and untidy
surroundings, so that our expectation of sitting on the inviting hill
and enjoying the view was not realized; and we were obliged to descend
to the hot wharf and wait for the ferry-boat to take us to the steamboat
which lay at the railway terminus opposite. It is the most unfair thing
in the world for the traveler, without an object or any interest in the
development of the country, on a sleepy day in August, to express any
opinion whatever about such a town as Pictou. But we may say of it,
without offence, that it occupies a charming situation, and may have an
interesting future; and that a person on a short acquaintance can leave
it without regret.

By stopping here we had the misfortune to lose our excursion, a loss
that was soothed by no know ledge of its destination or hope of seeing
it again, and a loss without a hope is nearly always painful. Going out
of the harbor we encounter Pictou Island and Light, and presently see
the low coast of Prince Edward Island,--a coast indented and agreeable
to those idly sailing along it, in weather that seemed let down out of
heaven and over a sea that sparkled but still slept in a summer
quiet. When fate puts a man in such a position and relieves him of all
responsibility, with a book and a good comrade, and liberty to make
sarcastic remarks upon his fellow-travelers, or to doze, or to look
over the tranquil sea, he may be pronounced happy. And I believe that my
companion, except in the matter of the comrade, was happy. But I could
not resist a worrying anxiety about the future of the British Provinces,
which not even the remembrance of their hostility to us during our
mortal strife with the Rebellion could render agreeable. For I could
not but feel that the ostentatious and unconcealable prosperity of “the
States” over-shadows this part of the continent. And it was for once in
vain that I said, “Have we not a common land and a common literature,
and no copyright, and a common pride in Shakespeare and Hannah More
and Colonel Newcome and Pepys’s Diary?” I never knew this sort of
consolation to fail before; it does not seem to answer in the Provinces
as well as it does in England.

New passengers had come on board at Pictou, new and hungry, and not
all could get seats for dinner at the first table. Notwithstanding the
supposed traditionary advantage of our birthplace, we were unable
to dispatch this meal with the celerity of our fellow-voyagers, and
consequently, while we lingered over our tea, we found ourselves at the
second table. And we were rewarded by one of those pleasing sights that
go to make up the entertainment of travel. There sat down opposite to
us a fat man whose noble proportions occupied at the board the space
of three ordinary men. His great face beamed delight the moment he came
near the table. He had a low forehead and a wide mouth and small
eyes, and an internal capacity that was a prophecy of famine to his
fellow-men. But a more good-natured, pleased animal you may never see.
Seating himself with unrepressed joy, he looked at us, and a great smile
of satisfaction came over his face, that plainly said, “Now my time has
come.” Every part of his vast bulk said this. Most generously, by his
friendly glances, he made us partners in his pleasure. With a Napoleonic
grasp of his situation, he reached far and near, hauling this and that
dish of fragments towards his plate, giving orders at the same time, and
throwing into his cheerful mouth odd pieces of bread and pickles in an
unstudied and preliminary manner. When he had secured everything within
his reach, he heaped his plate and began an attack upon the contents,
using both knife and fork with wonderful proficiency. The man’s
good-humor was contagious, and he did not regard our amusement as
different in kind from his enjoyment. The spectacle was worth a journey
to see. Indeed, its aspect of comicality almost overcame its grossness,
and even when the hero loaded in faster than he could swallow, and was
obliged to drop his knife for an instant to arrange matters in his mouth
with his finger, it was done with such a beaming smile that a pig would
not take offense at it. The performance was not the merely vulgar thing
it seems on paper, but an achievement unique and perfect, which one is
not likely to see more than once in a lifetime. It was only when the
man left the table that his face became serious. We had seen him at his
best.

Prince Edward Island, as we approached it, had a pleasing aspect, and
nothing of that remote friendlessness which its appearance on the map
conveys to one; a warm and sandy land, in a genial climate, without
fogs, we are informed. In the winter it has ice communication with
Nova Scotia, from Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentine,--the route of the
submarine cable. The island is as flat from end to end as a floor. When
it surrendered its independent government and joined the Dominion, one
of the conditions of the union was that the government should build a
railway the whole length of it. This is in process of construction, and
the portion that is built affords great satisfaction to the islanders,
a railway being one of the necessary adjuncts of civilization; but that
there was great need of it, or that it would pay, we were unable to
learn.

We sailed through Hillsborough Bay and a narrow strait to Charlottetown,
the capital, which lies on a sandy spit of land between two rivers. Our
leisurely steamboat tied up here in the afternoon and spent the night,
giving the passengers an opportunity to make thorough acquaintance with
the town. It has the appearance of a place from which something has
departed; a wooden town, with wide and vacant streets, and the air of
waiting for something. Almost melancholy is the aspect of its freestone
colonial building, where once the colonial legislature held its
momentous sessions, and the colonial governor shed the delightful aroma
of royalty. The mansion of the governor--now vacant of pomp, because
that official does not exist--is a little withdrawn from the town,
secluded among trees by the water-side. It is dignified with a winding
approach, but is itself only a cheap and decaying house. On our way to
it we passed the drill-shed of the local cavalry, which we mistook for a
skating-rink, and thereby excited the contempt of an old lady of whom
we inquired. Tasteful residences we did not find, nor that attention
to flowers and gardens which the mild climate would suggest. Indeed,
we should describe Charlottetown as a place where the hollyhock in the
dooryard is considered an ornament. A conspicuous building is a large
market-house shingled all over (as many of the public buildings are),
and this and other cheap public edifices stand in the midst of a large
square, which is surrounded by shabby shops for the most part. The town
is laid out on a generous scale, and it is to be regretted that we could
not have seen it when it enjoyed the glory of a governor and court and
ministers of state, and all the paraphernalia of a royal parliament.
That the productive island, with its system of free schools, is about to
enter upon a prosperous career, and that Charlottetown is soon to become
a place of great activity, no one who converses with the natives can
doubt; and I think that even now no traveler will regret spending an
hour or two there; but it is necessary to say that the rosy inducements
to tourists to spend the summer there exist only in the guide-books.

We congratulated ourselves that we should at least have a night of
delightful sleep on the steamboat in the quiet of this secluded harbor.
But it was wisely ordered otherwise, to the end that we should improve
our time by an interesting study of human nature. Towards midnight, when
the occupants of all the state-rooms were supposed to be in profound
slumber, there was an invasion of the small cabin by a large and
loquacious family, who had been making an excursion on the island
railway. This family might remind an antiquated novel-reader of the
delightful Brangtons in “Evelina;” they had all the vivacity of the
pleasant cousins of the heroine of that story, and the same generosity
towards the public in regard to their family affairs. Before they had
been in the cabin an hour, we felt as if we knew every one of them.
There was a great squabble as to where and how they should sleep; and
when this was over, the revelations of the nature of their beds and
their peculiar habits of sleep continued to pierce the thin deal
partitions of the adjoining state-rooms. When all the possible
trivialities of vacant minds seemed to have been exhausted, there
followed a half-hour of “Goodnight, pa; good-night, ma;” “Goodnight,
pet;” and “Are you asleep, ma?” “No.” “Are you asleep, pa?” “No; go to
sleep, pet.” “I’m going. Good-night, pa; good-night, ma.” “Goodnight,
pet.” “This bed is too short.” “Why don’t you take the other?” “I’m all
fixed now.” “Well, go to sleep; good-night.” “Good-night, ma; goodnight,
pa,”--no answer. “Good-night,pa.” “Goodnight, pet.” “Ma, are you
asleep?” “Most.” “This bed is all lumps; I wish I’d gone downstairs.”
 “Well, pa will get up.” “Pa, are you asleep?” “Yes.” “It’s better now;
good-night, pa.” “Goodnight, pet.” “Good-night, ma.” “Good-night, pet.”
 And so on in an exasperating repetition, until every passenger on the
boat must have been thoroughly informed of the manner in which this
interesting family habitually settled itself to repose.

Half an hour passes with only a languid exchange of family feeling, and
then: “Pa?” “Well, pet.” “Don’t call us in the morning; we don’t want
any breakfast; we want to sleep.” “I won’t.” “Goodnight, pa; goodnight,
ma. Ma?” “What is it, dear?” “Good-night, ma.” “Good-night, pet.”
 Alas for youthful expectations! Pet shared her stateroom with a young
companion, and the two were carrying on a private dialogue during
this public performance. Did these young ladies, after keeping all the
passengers of the boat awake till near the summer dawn, imagine that
it was in the power of pa and ma to insure them the coveted forenoon
slumber, or even the morning snooze? The travelers, tossing in their
state-room under this domestic infliction, anticipated the morning
with grim satisfaction; for they had a presentiment that it would be
impossible for them to arise and make their toilet without waking up
every one in their part of the boat, and aggravating them to such an
extent that they would stay awake. And so it turned out. The family
grumbling at the unexpected disturbance was sweeter to the travelers
than all the exchange of family affection during the night.

No one, indeed, ought to sleep beyond breakfast-time while sailing along
the southern coast of Prince Edward Island. It was a sparkling morning.
When we went on deck we were abreast Cape Traverse; the faint outline of
Nova Scotia was marked on the horizon, and New Brunswick thrust out Cape
Tomentine to greet us. On the still, sunny coasts and the placid sea,
and in the serene, smiling sky, there was no sign of the coming tempest
which was then raging from Hatteras to Cape Cod; nor could one imagine
that this peaceful scene would, a few days later, be swept by a fearful
tornado, which should raze to the ground trees and dwelling-houses,
and strew all these now inviting shores with wrecked ships and drowning
sailors,--a storm which has passed into literature in “The Lord’s-Day
Gale” of Mr Stedman.

Through this delicious weather why should the steamboat hasten, in order
to discharge its passengers into the sweeping unrest of continental
travel? Our eagerness to get on, indeed, almost melted away, and we were
scarcely impatient at all when the boat lounged into Halifax Bay, past
Salutation Point and stopped at Summerside. This little seaport is
intended to be attractive, and it would give these travelers great
pleasure to describe it, if they could at all remember how it looks. But
it is a place that, like some faces, makes no sort of impression on
the memory. We went ashore there, and tried to take an interest in the
ship-building, and in the little oysters which the harbor yields; but
whether we did take an interest or not has passed out of memory. A
small, unpicturesque, wooden town, in the languor of a provincial
summer; why should we pretend an interest in it which we did not feel?
It did not disturb our reposeful frame of mind, nor much interfere with
our enjoyment of the day.

On the forward deck, when we were under way again, amid a group reading
and nodding in the sunshine, we found a pretty girl with a companion and
a gentleman, whom we knew by intuition as the “pa” of the pretty girl
and of our night of anguish. The pa might have been a clergyman in a
small way, or the proprietor of a female boarding-school; at any rate,
an excellent and improving person to travel with, whose willingness to
impart information made even the travelers long for a pa. It was no
part of his plan of this family summer excursion, upon which he had come
against his wish, to have any hour of it wasted in idleness. He held
an open volume in his hand, and was questioning his daughter on its
contents. He spoke in a loud voice, and without heeding the timidity of
the young lady, who shrank from this public examination, and begged her
father not to continue it. The parent was, however, either proud of his
daughter’s acquirements, or he thought it a good opportunity to shame
her out of her ignorance. Doubtless, we said, he is instructing her
upon the geography of the region we are passing through, its early
settlement, the romantic incidents of its history when French and
English fought over it, and so is making this a tour of profit as well
as pleasure. But the excellent and pottering father proved to be no
disciple of the new education. Greece was his theme and he got his
questions, and his answers too, from the ancient school history in his
hand. The lesson went on:

“Who was Alcibiades?

“A Greek.”

“Yes. When did he flourish?”

“I can’t think.”

“Can’t think? What was he noted for?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Don’t remember? I don’t believe you studied this.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Well, take it now, and study it hard, and then I’ll hear you again.”

The young girl, who is put to shame by this open persecution, begins to
study, while the peevish and small tyrant, her pa, is nagging her with
such soothing remarks as, “I thought you’d have more respect for your
pride;” “Why don’t you try to come up to the expectations of your
teacher?” By and by the student thinks she has “got it,” and the public
exposition begins again. The date at which Alcibiades “flourished” was
ascertained, but what he was “noted for” got hopelessly mixed with what
Themistocles was “noted for.” The momentary impression that the battle
of Marathon was fought by Salamis was soon dissipated, and the questions
continued.

“What did Pericles do to the Greeks?”

“I don’t know.”

“Elevated ‘em, did n’t he? Did n’t he elevate Pem?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Always remember that; you want to fix your mind on leading things.
Remember that Pericles elevated the Greeks. Who was Pericles?

“He was a”--

“Was he a philosopher?”

“Yes, sir.”

“No, he was n’t. Socrates was a philosopher. When did he flourish?”

And so on, and so on.

O my charming young countrywomen, let us never forget that Pericles
elevated the Greeks; and that he did it by cultivating the national
genius, the national spirit, by stimulating art and oratory and the
pursuit of learning, and infusing into all society a higher intellectual
and social life! Pa was this day sailing through seas and by shores that
had witnessed some of the most stirring and romantic events in the early
history of our continent. He might have had the eager attention of his
bright daughter if he had unfolded these things to her in the midst of
this most living landscape, and given her an “object lesson” that she
would not have forgotten all her days, instead of this pottering over
names and dates that were as dry and meaningless to him as they were
uninteresting to his daughter. At least, O Pa, Educator of Youth, if you
are insensible to the beauty of these summer isles and indifferent to
their history, and your soul is wedded to ancient learning, why do you
not teach your family to go to sleep when they go to bed, as the classic
Greeks used to?

Before the travelers reached Shediac, they had leisure to ruminate upon
the education of American girls in the schools set apart for them, and
to conjecture how much they are taught of the geography and history of
America, or of its social and literary growth; and whether, when they
travel on a summer tour like this, these coasts have any historical
light upon them, or gain any interest from the daring and chivalric
adventurers who played their parts here so long ago. We did not hear
pa ask when Madame de la Tour “flourished,” though “flourish” that
determined woman did, in Boston as well as in the French provinces. In
the present woman revival, may we not hope that the heroic women of our
colonial history will have the prominence that is their right, and that
woman’s achievements will assume their proper place in affairs? When
women write history, some of our popular men heroes will, we trust,
be made to acknowledge the female sources of their wisdom and their
courage. But at present women do not much affect history, and they are
more indifferent to the careers of the noted of their own sex than men
are.

We expected to approach Shediac with a great deal of interest. It had
been, when we started, one of the most prominent points in our projected
tour. It was the pivot upon which, so to speak, we expected to swing
around the Provinces. Upon the map it was so attractive, that we once
resolved to go no farther than there. It once seemed to us that, if we
ever reached it, we should be contented to abide there, in a place so
remote, in a port so picturesque and foreign. But returning from the
real east, our late interest in Shediac seemed unaccountable to us.
Firmly resolved as I was to note our entrance into the harbor, I could
not keep the place in mind; and while we were in our state-room and
before we knew it, the steamboat Jay at the wharf. Shediac appeared
to be nothing but a wharf with a railway train on it, and a few shanty
buildings, a part of them devoted to the sale of whiskey and to cheap
lodgings. This landing, however, is called Point du Chene, and the
village of Shediac is two or three miles distant from it; we had a
pleasant glimpse of it from the car windows, and saw nothing in its
situation to hinder its growth. The country about it is perfectly level,
and stripped of its forests. At Painsec Junction we waited for the
train from Halifax, and immediately found ourselves in the whirl of
intercolonial travel. Why people should travel here, or why they should
be excited about it, we could not see; we could not overcome a feeling
of the unreality of the whole thing; but yet we humbly knew that we had
no right to be otherwise than awed by the extraordinary intercolonial
railway enterprise and by the new life which it is infusing into
the Provinces. We are free to say, however, that nothing can be
less interesting than the line of this road until it strikes the
Kennebeckasis River, when the traveler will be called upon to admire
the Sussex Valley and a very fair farming region, which he would like to
praise if it were not for exciting the jealousy of the “Garden of Nova
Scotia.” The whole land is in fact a garden, but differing somewhat from
the Isle of Wight.

In all travel, however, people are more interesting than land, and so
it was at this time. As twilight shut down upon the valley of the
Kennebeckasis, we heard the strident voice of pa going on with the
Grecian catechism. Pa was unmoved by the beauties of Sussex or by the
colors of the sunset, which for the moment made picturesque the scraggy
evergreens on the horizon. His eyes were with his heart, and that was in
Sparta. Above the roar of the car-wheels we heard his nagging inquiries.

“What did Lycurgus do then?”

Answer not audible.

“No. He made laws. Who did he make laws for?”

“For the Greeks.”

“He made laws for the Lacedemonians. Who was another great lawgiver?”

“It was--it was--Pericles.”

“No, it was n’t. It was Solon. Who was Solon?”

“Solon was one of the wise men of Greece.”

“That’s right. When did he flourish?”

When the train stops at a station the classics continue, and the
studious group attracts the attention of the passengers. Pa is well
pleased, but not so the young lady, who beseechingly says,

“Pa, everybody can hear us.”

“You would n’t care how much they heard, if you knew it,” replies this
accomplished devotee of learning.

In another lull of the car-wheels we find that pa has skipped over to
Marathon; and this time it is the daughter who is asking a question.

“Pa, what is a phalanx?”

“Well, a phalanx--it’s a--it’s difficult to define a phalanx. It’s a
stretch of men in one line,--a stretch of anything in a line. When did
Alexander flourish?”

This domestic tyrant had this in common with the rest of us, that he was
much better at asking questions than at answering them. It certainly was
not our fault that we were listeners to his instructive struggles with
ancient history, nor that we heard his petulant complaining to his cowed
family, whom he accused of dragging him away on this summer trip. We are
only grateful to him, for a more entertaining person the traveler does
not often see. It was with regret that we lost sight of him at St. John.

Night has settled upon New Brunswick and upon ancient Greece before we
reach the Kennebeckasis Bay, and we only see from the car windows
dimly a pleasant and fertile country, and the peaceful homes of thrifty
people. While we are running along the valley and coming under the
shadow of the hill whereon St. John sits, with a regal outlook upon a
most variegated coast and upon the rising and falling of the great tides
of Fundy, we feel a twinge of conscience at the injustice the passing
traveler must perforce do any land he hurries over and does not study.
Here is picturesque St. John, with its couple of centuries of history
and tradition, its commerce, its enterprise felt all along the coast and
through the settlements of the territory to the northeast, with its
no doubt charming society and solid English culture; and the summer
tourist, in an idle mood regarding it for a day, says it is naught!
Behold what “travels” amount to! Are they not for the most part the
records of the misapprehensions of the misinformed? Let us congratulate
ourselves that in this flight through the Provinces we have not
attempted to do any justice to them, geologically, economically, or
historically, only trying to catch some of the salient points of the
panorama as it unrolled itself. Will Halifax rise up in judgment against
us? We look back upon it with softened memory, and already see it again
in the light of history. It stands, indeed, overlooking a gate of the
ocean, in a beautiful morning light; and we can hear now the
repetition of that profane phrase, used for the misdirection of wayward
mortals,---“Go to Halifax!” without a shudder.

We confess to some regret that our journey is so near its end. Perhaps
it is the sentimental regret with which one always leaves the east, for
we have been a thousand miles nearer Ireland than Boston is. Collecting
in the mind the detached pictures given to our eyes in all these
brilliant and inspiring days, we realize afresh the variety, the extent,
the richness of these northeastern lands which the Gulf Stream pets and
tempers. If it were not for attracting speculators, we should delight
to speak of the beds of coal, the quarries of marble, the mines of gold.
Look on the map and follow the shores of these peninsulas and islands,
the bays, the penetrating arms of the sea, the harbors filled with
islands, the protected straits and sounds. All this is favorable to
the highest commercial activity and enterprise. Greece itself and its
islands are not more indented and inviting. Fish swarm about the shores
and in all the streams. There are, I have no doubt, great forests which
we did not see from the car windows, the inhabitants of which do
not show themselves to the travelers at the railway-stations. In the
dining-room of a friend, who goes away every autumn into the wilds of
Nova Scotia at the season when the snow falls, hang trophies--enormous
branching antlers of the caribou, and heads of the mighty moose--which I
am assured came from there; and I have no reason to doubt that the noble
creatures who once carried these superb horns were murdered by my friend
at long range. Many people have an insatiate longing to kill, once in
their life, a moose, and would travel far and endure great hardships
to gratify this ambition. In the present state of the world it is more
difficult to do it than it is to be written down as one who loves his
fellow-men.

We received everywhere in the Provinces courtesy and kindness, which
were not based upon any expectation that we would invest in mines or
railways, for the people are honest, kindly, and hearty by nature. What
they will become when the railways are completed that are to bind St.
John to Quebec, and make Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Newfoundland only
stepping-stones to Europe, we cannot say. Probably they will become like
the rest of the world, and furnish no material for the kindly persiflage
of the traveler.

Regretting that we could see no more of St. John, that we could scarcely
see our way through its dimly lighted streets, we found the ferry to
Carleton, and a sleeping-car for Bangor. It was in the heart of the
negro porter to cause us alarm by the intelligence that the customs
officer would, search our baggage during the night. A search is a blow
to one’s self-respect, especially if one has anything dutiable. But as
the porter might be an agent of our government in disguise, we preserved
an appearance of philosophical indifference in his presence. It takes
a sharp observer to tell innocence from assurance. During the night,
awaking, I saw a great light. A man, crawling along the aisle of the
car, and poking under the seats, had found my traveling-bag and was
“going through” it.

I felt a thrill of pride as I recognized in this crouching figure an
officer of our government, and knew that I was in my native land.





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