Imatges de pàgina
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"I do not think he will ever go to greeted Mysie's despairing eyes, and sea."

woke new hopes of warmth, rest, and “ Not a-goin' to sea ? Wy, his fa- shelter. But never did bewildering ignisther’s a captain, I ’xpect; a'n't he ?” fatuus retire more persistently from the · No."

pursuit of unwary traveller than did that Mate, then, a'n't he ? "

Light-house from the occupants of that " He is not a sailor at all."

creaking “ shay"; and it was not till total " Ha'n't never ben to sea ?”

darkness had settled upon the earth that “Never."

they reached its door, and discovered, by Oh, the look of wide-mouthed astonish- the lamplight streaming out, that Caleb ment which took possession of Youth's stood in the entrance, awaiting their arhitherto vacant features, at thus encoun- rival. tering a strong-looking man, in the prime As the chaise stopped, he came forof life, who had never been to sea, and a ward and lifted the stiff and weary forms healthy, sturdy boy, whose parents did of “ the woman and child” to the ground, not mean that he ever should! He had and delivered them to the guidance of no more to say; every faculty was, for at the hostess. least an hour, devoted to the contempla- The first aspect of affairs was sometion of these lusus nature, thus present- what discouraging,—the parlor into which ed to his vision.

they were ushered being without fire and At last, the road, which had long been but dimly lighted, the bedroom not yet in a condition of ominous second-child- prepared for toilet purposes, and the hosthood, suddenly died a natural death at ess, as she averred, entirely unprepared the foot of a steep hill, where a rail-fence

for company. presented itself as a barrier to farther Left alone in the dreary parlor, Caleb progress. The bars were soon removed subsided into moody silence, and Mysie by Youth, who triumphantly announced, into tears, upon which the Baron followas Cha-os walked slowly through the open- ed suit, and produced such a ludicrous ing thus presented,

state of affairs, that the sobs which had “ Now we're on Ga'ed, an' I'll run evoked his changed to an irrepressible along and take down the next bars, if laugh, in which all parties soon joined. you kin drive.

Git along, Tom, — you This pleasant frame of mind was speedha'n't got nothin' but two feathers ahind ily encouraged and augmented, first, by you now."

water and towels ad libitum, and then " How far is it to the Light-house?” by an introduction to the dining-room, in inquired Mysie, faintly.

whose ample grate now roared a fire, of “Ony 'bout four mild,” was the dis- what our travellers were informed was couraging reply, as Youth “ loped” on peat, -an article supplying, in the abin advance.

sence of all other indigenous fuel, nearly · Four mild !” and such miles! The every chimney upon the island. only road, a faint track in the grass, now A good cup of tea and a substantial undiscernible in the gathering gloom, now supper prepared the trio to accept the on the slope of steep hills marked by invitation of the excellent Mr. F. (the deep gullies worn by the impetuous au- chief keeper, and their host) to go up tumn rains, and down which the poor with him “into the Light.” old “ shay” jerked along in a series of And now our travellers suddenly found bumps and jolts threatening to demolish that they had made a pilgrimage unat once that patriarchal vehicle and the awares. They had come to the island for bones of its occupants.

sea-air and pebbles, to shoot ducks, see At last, however, from the top of one the Indians, and find out who Martha of these declivities, the brilliant, flash- was, and had come to the Light-house, ing light of the long-watched-for Pharos as the only "white" dwelling upon the VOL. IV.

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Head, — the rest being all occupied by The lamp (into the four concentric the descendants of the red men, - and wicks of which a continual and supernow found themselves applauded by their abundant supply of oil is forced by a spehost for having "come so far to see our cies of clock-work, causing a flame of Light;- not so far as some, either,” con- dazzling brilliancy) is surrounded by a tinued he, “ for we have had visitors from revolving cover, about eight feet high by every part of the Union, - even from four or five in diameter, and in shape Florida ; every one who understands such like the hand-glasses with which gardenthings is so anxious to see it.”

ers cover tender plants, or the shades Why, is it different from common which one sees over fancy clocks and arlight-houses?" carelessly inquired Ca- ticles of bijouterie. This cover is comleb.

posed of over six hundred pieces of glass, Don't you know? Haven't you come arranged in a complicated and scientific on purpose to see it ?” asked the keeper, system of lenses and prisms, very diffiin astonishment, - and then proceeded cult to comprehend, but very beautiful to explain, that this is the famous Fresnel in the result; for every ray of light from light, the identical structure exhibited at that brilliant flame is shivered into a thouthe great Exposition at Paris, bought sand glittering arrows, reflected, refractthere by an agent of the United States, ed, tinted with all the rainbow hues, and shipped by him to America.

and finally projected through the clear Owing, however, to some inexplicable plate-glass windows of the lantern with blunder, its arrival was not made known all the force and brilliancy of a hundred to the proper authorities,-and the papers rays. If any one cares to understand which should have accompanied it being more clearly the why and the how, let lost or not delivered, no one at the cus- him either go and see for himself or tom-house knew what the huge case con

read about it in Brande's Encyclopædia. tained. It was deposited in a bonded Mysie and the Baron were content to warehouse during the legal interval, but, bask ignorantly in the glittering, evernever having been claimed, was then changing, ever-flowing food of light, sold, still unexamined, to the highest bid- dreaming of Fairy Land, and careless der. He soon identified his purchase, and of philosophy. Only so much heed did proceeded to make his own profit out of they give to the outer world as always it,—the consequence being that govern- to place themselves upon the landward ment at last discovered that the Fresnel side of the lantern, lest unwittingly their light had been some two years in this forms should hide one ray of the blessed country, and was then upon exhibition, light from those for whose good it was if the President and cabinet would like to take a peep. The particulars of the Caleb, meanwhile, sat with his host in bargain which ensued did not transpire, the clock-room, smoking many a meerbut it resulted in the lantern being re- schaum, and listening to the keeper's talk packed and reshipped to Gay Head, its about his beautiful charge,-a pet as well original destination.

as a duty with him, obviously. While hearing this little history, the With the same fond pride with which party were breathlessly climbing three a mother affects to complain of the care steep iron staircases, the last of which she lavishes upon her darling child would ended at a trap-door, giving admittance the old man speak of the time necessary to the clock-room, where the keeper gen- to keep his six hundred lenses clear and erally sits; from here another ladder-like spotless, each one being rubbed daily staircase leads up into the lantern. Ar- with softest doeskin saturated with rouge, rived at the top, the Baron screamed with to keep the windows of the lantern free delight at the gorgeous spectacle before from constantly accumulating saline inhim.

crustations,- of the care with which the

put there.

lamp, when burning, must be watched, One spot, in particular, which became lest intrusive fly or miller should drown Mysie's favorite resort, was at once sinin the great reservoir of oil and be drawn gular and beautiful in its conformation. into the air-passages. This duty, and the About three feet above the water's edge necessity of winding up the “clock” lay a level plateau, its floor of loose, (which forces the oil up into the wick) sandy, black conglomerate, abounding every balf-hour, require a constant watch in sparkling bits of quartz and sulphate to be kept through the night, which is di- of iron; beneath this lay a bed of beauvided between the chief and two assistant tifully marbled and variegated clay, its keepers.

edge showing all along the black bor

der of the plateau like the brilliant The morning after their arrival, our wreath with which a brunette binds her travellers, strong with the vigor of the dusky hair. Blocks of this clay, fallen young day, set forth to explore the cliffs, upon the beach, and wet with every bidding adieu to original Youth, who, flowing wave, lay glistening in the sunstanding ready to depart, beside his horse, light and looking like was carolling the following ditty in glori- " Castile soap, mamma,” suggested the fication of his native town:

Baron, as Mysie was describing the scene * Ga'ed Light is out o' sight,

in his presence, and hesitated for a simMenemshee Crik is sandy,

ile. Holmes's Hole's a pooty place,

At the back of the terrace, which, in An? Oldtown Pint's onhandy."

its widest part, measured some fifty feet, (Oldtown being synonymous with Edgar- rose suddenly and sharply the pinnacled town, the rival seaport.)

· cliffs, some snowy white, some black, Leaving this young patriot to his na- some deep red, and others a cold gray. tional anthem, a walk of a few hundred At either hand they extended quite feet through deep sword-edged grass down to the water's edge, so that, seatbrought our explorers to the edge of a ed upon the plateau, nothing met the cliff, down which they gazed with awe- eye but ocean, sky, and cliffs; no work hushed breath. Below them, at a depth of man struck a discordant note in the of a hundred and fifty feet, the thunder- grand harmony of these three simple, ous waves beat upon the foot of the cliff mighty elements of creation. over whose brink they peered, and which, Mysie sometimes took a book here stern and impassive as it had stood for with her, but it was not a place to ages, frowned back with the mute strength read in; the scene crushed and dwarfed of endurance upon the furious, eager human thoughts and words to nothingwaves, which now and again dashed them- ness; and to repeat to the ocean himselves fiercely against its front, only to be self what had been said of him by the flung back shattered into a thousand glit- loftiest even of poets seemed tame and tering fragments.

impertinent. The cliffs themselves are very curious These cliff's extend about a mile along and beautiful, being composed of red and the shore, and then suddenly give place black ochre, the largest cliff showing the to a broad sandy beach, behind which one color on its northern and the other lies a level, desolate moor, treeless, on its southern face. The forms are vari- shrubless, and barren of all vegetation, ous,—some showing a sheer descent, with save coarse grass and weeds, and a prono vestige of earth or vegetation, their fusion of stunted dog-roses, which, in faces seamed with scars won in the ele- their season, must throw a rare and sinmental war which they have so long with gular charm over their sterile home. stood. In other spots the cliff has been The beach, though smooth and even, rent into sharp pinnacles, varied and is not flat, like those of Nantasket, Nabeautiful in hue.

hant, and Newport, but shelves rapidly down; and there is a belief among the of the treasures to be found. The offer islanders, that a short distance out it was gladly accepted; and Clarissa, a terminates suddenly at the brow of a sub- merry little romp, about twelve years marine precipice, beyond which are no old, soon made her appearance, armed soundings.

with a pickaxe, hoe, and basket. Owing to the sharp declivity of the Thus laden, and in the teeth of a beach, the rollers break with great force, shrewd northeast wind, the little bareand the surf is very high. At one point footed pioneer led the way directly over is grouped a cluster of rocks, half in the the brow of a cliff, which, had Mysie water, half on the beach, among which, been alone, she would have pronounced as the tide comes in, the waves break entirely impracticable.

entirely impracticable. Now, however, with furious force, dashing high over fired with a lofty emulation, she silently the outermost barrier, and then plung followed her guide, grasping, however, at ing and leaping forward, like a troop every shrub and protection with someof wild horses, their white manes flung what convulsive energy. high in air, as they leap forward over “ Here's a good place,” announced one and another of the obstacles in their Clarissa, pausing where a shelf of gravpath.

elly rock afforded tolerable foothold. Perched upon the crest of one of these “ Professor Hitchcock told father that half-submerged rocks, watching the mad in here were strata of the tertiary forwaves fling themselves exhausted at her mation, and there's where we get the feet, it was Mysie's delight to sit, enjoy- fossils.” ing the half danger of her position, and “But how do you come at the tertiary retreating only when the waters had formation through all this sand and gravmany times closed behind her throne, el?” asked Mysie, aghast at the prosleaving, in their momentary absence, but pect. a wet and slippery path back to the “Oh, dig; that's why I brought the beach.

pick and hoe ; we must dig a hole about Along this beach, too, lay the road to a foot deep, and then we shall come to Squipnocket, a pond famed for its im- the stuff that has the fossils in it. You mense flocks of wild geese and ducks,- may have the hoe, and I'll take the pick, fame shared by Menemshee Creek and 'cause that's the hardest." Pond, as well as several others of similar " Then let me have it; I am stronger aboriginal titles.

than you,” exclaimed Mysie, suddenly To these repaired, almost daily, Caleb, roused to enthusiasm at the idea of accompanied by one or another of his “picking” her way into the tertiary forhost's five sons; and the result of their mation of the earth, and exhuming its efforts with the gun was no inconsid- fossilized remains. erable addition to the table at Ga'ed Seizing the pickaxe, she aimed Light.

mighty blow at the clay and gravel conBut greatest of all the wonders at the glomerate before her; but the instrument, Head are the Fossil Cliffs.

falling wide of its intended mark, struck A short time after the arrival of our upon a rock, and sent such a jarring travellers, their hostess inquired if they thrill up both her arms and such a tinhad yet found any fossils. Mysie frank- gle to her fingers' ends as suddenly ly confessed that they did not know there quenched her antiquarian zeal, and rewere any to find, which was evidently minded her of a frightful account she as great a surprise to Mrs. F. as their once read of a convent of nuns capturignorance of the Fresnel light had been ed by some brutal potentate, who forced to her husband. She at once offered the them to mend his highways by breaking services of her daughter Clarissa as guide stones upon them with very heavy hamand assistant, and gave glowing accounts mers; and the historian mentioned, as a

common occurrence, that, when any sis

the ocean. There is certainly a great ter dislocated her shoulder, one of her amount of conglomerate, which has evicomrades would set it, and the sufferer dently been fused by intense heat; and would then resume her labors.

masses of rock, sea-pebbles, sand, and Mysie, having this warning before her iron-ore are now as firmly integrated as eyes, and being doubtful of Clarissa's sur- a piece of granite. gical abilities, concluded to postpone her However, the fossils came; here they researches, and proposed to her compan- certainly are; many of them perfect in ion to fill the basket with shells and peb- form, and light and porous to the eye, bles from the beach, to which cowardly but all bard and heavy as stone to the proposition Clarissa yielded but a reluc- touch. Teeth, which are considered the tant consent.

most valuable of all the remains, are The next day, however, Mr. F. and sometimes found as wide as a man's hand, Caleb, learning the result of the fossil- and weighing several pounds; but Mysie search, offered to apply their more effi- was quite content with the more insignificient skill and strength to a new attempt cant weight of those which filled her basin the same direction ; and, with high ket, especially when an immense reticuhopes for the result, Mysie, still accom- lated paving-stone was added, which Mr. panied by Clarissa, proceeded to another F. pronounced to be a whale's vertebra. portion of the cliffs, where a low, wedge- She then was induced to trust the preshaped promontory, shadowed by beet- cious collection to Caleb's care, the more ling crags, was, as Mr. F. confidently willingly that the ascent of the cliff's was stated, “sure for teeth.”

now to be attempted. This was easily The pickaxe, in the sinewy arms of its and quickly accomplished by Mr. F. and owner, soon dislodged great cakes of the his little son, by going to the right spot upper deposit and laid bare a stratum of before beginning to climb; but Mysie deolive-green clay, which was announced to claring that the ascent was quite practibe a fossil-bed. Lumps of this clay being cable where they were, Caleb and Clabroken off and crumbled up, proved in- rissa felt bound in honor to accompany deed rich in deposit. They found sharks' her. For some distance, all went very teeth, the edges still sharply serrated, firm- well,- the face of the cliff presenting ly set in pieces of the jawbone, — whales' slight inequalities of surface, which anteeth, - vertebræ of various species, - swered for foot- and hand-holds, and not fragments of bone, great and small, – being very steep; but suddenly Mysie, several species of shell-fish, among which the leader of the group, arriving within chiefly abounded a kind called quahaug, about three feet of the top, found the rock – and many nondescript fragments, not above her so smooth as to give no possieasily classified.

One of these was a ble foothold by which she might reach little bone closely resembling the tibia of the strong, coarse grass which nodded a child's leg, and may have belonged to tauntingly to her over the brink. some antediluvian infant lost at sea, (if Clinging closely to the face of the cliff, Noah's ancestors were mariners,) or per- she turned her head to announce to Cahaps drowned in the Deluge,- for Mr. F. leb that she could not go on, and, in turnquoted an eminent geologist who has vis- ing, looked down. Before this she had ited the Vineyard, and who supposed felt no fear, only perplexity ; but the these remains to have been brought here sight of those cruel rocks below,-- the by that mighty Flood-tide. Another sa- hollow booming of the waves, as they vant, however, supposes the island to lashed the foot of the cliff, -- the conhave been thrown up from the sea by sciousness that a fall of a hundred feet volcanic action ; and that the fossils, now awaited her, should she let go her hold, imbedded in cliffs a hundred feet high, — all this struck terror to Mysie's heart; were once deposited upon the bed of and while a heavy, confused noise came

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