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The Lightning Conductor Discovers America By A. M. Williamson Characters: 43624

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Easthampton, Long Island.

The loveliest moonlight April night.

Dearest Mercédes:

We're just beginning a short motor trip, pausing here all night because it's beautiful, and because there's a dance which Pat and a large family of girls, appropriately named Goodrich, wish to sample. To tell the truth, I shouldn't mind dancing, myself! They're going to have a quaint new thing dedicated by its inventor to Long Island. It's called the Gull Glide. But Jack did too much last week, teaching Patsey to drive her giant Grayles-Grice, and he says if he danced anything it would have to be the Shamblers' Shake. I wouldn't put my nose inside the ballroom without him; vowed I'd be bored stiff. The Goodrich girls' mother is chaperoning her brood and Pat. I made Jack "seek his bed," as the French say, but I'm on the balcony of our private sitting-room, in the moonlight, writing by an electric lamp whose shade looks like an illuminated red rose seen through silver mist. The music, which throbs up to me like heart-beats, mingles with the undertone of the sea and makes me thankful that Jack's so nice and loves me so much. Not to be loved in such music and such moonlight would make one feel one wasn't a woman!

The dance has just begun and will last hours. I've no intention of trying to sleep till it's over, because I'm sure Pat will have things to tell which really can't wait till morning. Things like that never can! Meanwhile I shall have time for a long letter to you-the kind you say you like to get.

This is really for Monty also, since you are now with him, helping him to get well, "Somewhere in France." Jack wanted to write a few lines to-night, to put with mine, but his arm is very lame. He said, "Tell Monty this is like old times, when he was recuperating in Davos, and I was 'Lightning Conductor' for Molly Randolph."

Good gracious, what a lot of water has run past mills and under wheels of motors since then! But luckily (since you ask us to chronicle our adventures, as Jack did for Monty in those days) we can still mix the honey of love with the lubricating oil of the machine. It will most likely be Pat's and somebody else's love, not ours, although our stock never runs dry. But you're interested in Pat's affairs, and really they do get more complicated and exciting every day. I shan't tell you much about them just now, but will save that part of the narrative for by and by, in case there's anything to add at half-past midnight. There generally is news from the front about that time.

Meanwhile, Monty (who is as ignorant of this country as Jack was only the other day) clamours for J.'s "impressions of America." Since Jack can't put them on paper, I will. I know all his most topographical thoughts, because he's trying them-not "on a dog" but on me, while I drive the car to save his good right arm. "The Lightning Conductor Discovering America" I call him, as everything surprises and interests him so hugely, you would think he was an "O Pioneer!" Long Island isn't your "pitch," Mercédes dear, and you don't know much about it from the inside, so to speak. You may imagine, therefore, that it's a small, sophisticated spot on the map for us to discover. But there's where you're wrong, my dear! It's not small and it's not sophisticated. It may look tiny on paper, but it feels far from tiny when you set forth to motor over it. It feels about the size I used to picture England before I went abroad.


"There's absolutely nothing like it on the other side of the water, not even in Devonshire or Dorset"

Jack fancied (he dared not say so to me till he could add "I made a big mistake") that America was new and indigestible, like freshly baked bread. As for Long Island, he visioned it as a seaside suburb of New York. Now, he's so fascinated with Awepesha and its environment that he's simply bolting history by the yard! You know, he always was keen on that sort of thing when he travelled; but like most Britishers he flattered himself that he had been born knowing all that was worth knowing in the history of the United States: a little about the Revolution and the Civil War, and "-er-well really, what else was there, you know, if you'd read Cooper and 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' when you were a boy?"

Now, he browses in Cousin John Randolph Payton's respectable library, where every book is bound like every other book in "half calf," and he sees that things began to wake up over here several hundreds of years ago. He has even discovered that an ancestor of his was one of the first important settlers of Long Island, apparently a perfect pig of a man who was horrid to innocent Indians-charming Indians who believed that Europeans meant what they said. I can't reconcile it with Jack to have had a pig for an ancestor, but he certainly had, at least one. Luckily the tendency has run out in the family ages ago.

But to turn from ancestral pigs to our Island!

Jack says the history of Long Island is the history of the whole country in miniature, like "the world seen through the little eye of a sparrow," as Emerson would have said. In fact, it's Some island, as Emerson would not have said; and of course we think our part the loveliest and historicalest of all. There's more variety in history as well as scenery on this island than in many entire states. You simply take your choice. You say to yourself, "Do I prefer Indian history and names? Or do I prefer the Dutch? Or does my taste run in the direction of the English? Do I want to visit the sites of Indian massacres or Revolutionary battles? Does pirate treasure lure me? Am I thrilled by the adventures of whaling-ships and their brave captains?" When you've chosen, you point your auto's nose in the direction desired. The only thing you couldn't find in the Island's thousand miles of glorious roads-(yes, my child, a thousand miles, to say nothing of the not so glorious ones!)-the only thing, I repeat, would be something completely modern.

That proud statement doesn't sound true, but it is. You could find plenty of new houses, the newest of the new: palaces of millionaires, middle-sized houses of middle-class people who are happier than the happiest millionaires; fantastic cottages for summer folk; cozy cottages of "commuters"; queer colonies of Italians, and even of darkies; but there isn't a foot of Long Island ground on which these palaces and houses and cottages and colonies have sprung up that isn't as historic as European soil. It's enthralling to see how intimately and neatly history here links itself with history on the other side: history of England, France, and Holland; noble names and great events. That's what delights Jack, picking up these links, and fitting them together like bits of jigsaw puzzles. He's absolutely thrilled, and wants to stop the car whenever we come to one of the curiously deformed old trees which still, on country roads, mark the direction of ancient Indian trails. This fad of Jack's leads to awkwardness during our present excursion, as we're part of a weird cavalcade which I'll describe to you later. But just now I can't let you off those trees!

The Indians of different tribes had a way of bending one of the lower boughs of a young oak chosen for the sacrifice, bending it so that it grew horizontally, pointing the way along the trail for the initiated. They would have trees done like that at regular intervals; but if you were a silly European you wouldn't know without being told what the trees meant by sticking out their elbows in that significant way; and so you would stupidly proceed to get yourself lost.

Think what those old trees could tell, if by laying your ear against their trunks you could understand the murmurous whisper inside, like secret voices behind a thick closed door! They look extraordinarily intelligent, thrusting out their long arms and crooking up their elbows, as I said. It's just as if you asked them, "How do I get to the sea?" and they, with Indian reticence, answered with a gesture instead of speech. Some of these arms have grown to such a length and thickness that they look like the bodies of animals. You can imagine little girls and boys riding on them, playing they are on horses. Or you can picture a fair maid and a man sitting side by side on one of those big, low-growing branches, as if it were a comfortable sofa. It would be a lovely place to be proposed to on a summer's day!

Does your respect for Long Island begin to grow? I haven't told you yet a quarter of the things that give it interest.

Our part of the Island, the eastern part, used to be harassed by British cruisers in the Revolution. Also it is the Captain Kidd part. I suppose even Monty knows about Captain Kidd? It seems that he used to be Jack's favourite pirate. When I was at the pirate-loving age I didn't care for Kidd as much as for others, because he had such respectable beginnings. Think, a Scotsman from Greenock of all places! And then he became a pirate not for the fun of flying the black flag like storybook pirates, or because he was disappointed in love, but because he cannily decided that he could gain more by turning pirate than by chasing pirates, which Lord Bellomont, the Governor of New York, had sent him out to do. Worst of all, when he was caught Kidd put the blame on his crew, and vowed that they'd forced him into evil courses. Now that we've a house on Long Island, however, I've taken Captain Kidd to my heart. He belongs more to the Moores of Kidd's Pines than to us, of course, but I value and vaunt him as a neighbouring ghost of distinction.

Both our place and Kidd's Pines are not a great distance from Shelter Island, where one lovely umbrella pine exists, under which the pirate is said to have buried his treasure in 1669. He may have emptied his pockets there one day, but that's nothing to what he seems to have done at Kidd's Pines. Gardiner's Island-very aristocratic and historic-isn't far off, and it was from there Captain Kidd sent word of his arrival to Lord Bellomont, whose famous syndicate he'd betrayed and made a laughing-stock by turning pirate. He had his six-gunned sloop Antonio in harbour there, hoping to "make good" with the authorities; but he must have guessed that there wasn't much chance for him. He must have expected the very thing to happen that did happen: to be arrested with his whole pirate crew, and sent to England in a man-o'-war. If he foresaw that event, he'd not have been silly enough to bury his treasure on Gardiner's Island, where everybody would rush to search for it the minute his back was turned, would he? No, he'd take a few of his most trusty men and make secret night expeditions in boats from Gardiner's Island to some part of the shore far enough away not to come under suspicion. Then he would have to mark the place where the treasure was buried (oh, but a treasure rich and rare, for he'd brought everything away with him when he left his stolen ship, The Quedah Merchant, at San Domingo!), mark it in a way not too conspicuous, but permanent, in case he had the luck ever to get free and come back. No good marking with stones, because some one might build; but what a smart idea to plant trees so valuable that nobody to whom that land was granted would want to destroy them! This is what the canny man of Greenock is supposed to have done. He'd brought the tree-slips from the south when he risked his spying expedition into northern waters. He meant to make a present of them to Lord Bellomont if the Governor were lenient: but the Governor's heart was flinty, and Captain Kidd found softer soil for the planting of his trees.

It makes a nice story anyhow, doesn't it? And Kidd's Pines as a hotel can put on five dollars a day extra at least because of the romance and glamour of that hidden hoard. By the way, it's "going some," that hotel inspiration of ours. What with history in general, buried treasure in particular, Marcel Moncourt's fame, Larry's charm and connections, and Pat's fatal fascinations, people flock to lay their money on the shrine. They're not all the right sort of people yet, but their money's good-and you can't think how amusing some of the poor pets are!

This Goodrich family I mentioned-a father, a mother, and three girls (who look as if they ought to be what I used to call "thrins")-are real darlings. They're so rich they can have everything they want, but they don't know what to want. They've always lived in Colorado close to the Garden of the Gods, and the only trips they ever took before were to the Yellowstone Park and the Grand Canyon. Consequently the scenery of the East looks to their eyes the height of miniature Japanese landscapes where you can step over the tops of the highest trees. They are built on the Garden of the Gods scale themselves, and take up so much room in a motor car that they ought to pay extra. (I do hope the girls may find men tall enough and brave enough to dance with them to-night!) When Peter Storm first saw the family, he quoted the blind man in the Bible who received his sight by a miracle: "I see men as trees, walking!"

The Goodrichs aren't, however, the latest addition to the circle at Kidd's Pines. Two days before we were due to start on this little jaunt three youths we'd met on the ship turned up. They'd been "doing" the battlefields of France they told us then, seeing the "backs of the fronts"-nice boys, just out of college-and they'd hardly the price of a meal left among them, they joyously said, when we landed. Of course they were in love with Pat in a nice, young, hopeless way. They bade her good-bye forever; but when they heard of the family crash, and read that the previously Unattainable One had become chatelaine of a hotel, they begged, borrowed, or stole (or more likely pawned) things which enabled them to rally round her as clients. They could "run" only to one room for the trio, and that the cheapest in the house; but you never saw three such radiant faces, till this motor expedition happened to be mentioned.

Fancy their feelings! Boats and bridges burnt at vast expense, and nothing to show for the holocaust! The adored one gliding away from under three disconsolate noses next day in an automobile full of Other People! Tom, Dick, and Harry (according to us; Jim, Charlie, and Frank according to their sponsors in baptism) simply couldn't bear it. They went out; and four hours later came back with a car (Lord made it, so let it pass for a car!) which they had bought somewhere, second or third hand, for a song. Even a song of sixpence would be dear for the great-grandmother of the whole progeny of Lords! The thing must be eight years old if it's a day, but the boys are as pleased as Punch with their bargain. The oldest of them (Tom) thinks he has learned to manage the poor old lady; and on the strength of his knowledge and cheek they have hitched themselves to us as the tail end of our procession. They announce their intention of going also to the Hudson River country, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England with us later, when we make those trips according to plan. My heart bleeds for the poor lambs, but Jack says they're perfectly happy, and those who don't fall by the wayside will draw lots in the end who is to propose to Pat.

They have no money, and no hats (at least I've never seen them wear any), and every one ignores their real names; but in their way they are unique, and it will add to the gaiety of nations to have them along if they're not killed before our eyes.

Speaking of the cavalcade, which I may as well describe since I'm on the subject, Peter Storm is driving Pat's Grayles-Grice, as Papa Goodrich says he would "as soon hire a canary bird to tame a mad bull as let that little slim Miss Moore pilot his family in a man-sized motor car." It seems that our soldier of fortune, P. S., was a chauffeur once for a year. He seems to have been most things, and I'm less than ever able to classify him. But whatever he is or may have been, if I hadn't fallen in love with Jack once and for all, I might have fallen in love with Peter Storm. There's something very queer about his past, that's evident; and only his conscience or bump of prudence prevents him from letting himself go on the tide of love for Pat. I see him looking at her now and then-an extraordinary look! But all his looks are extraordinary. I'd give anything almost if he'd confide in me. Perhaps he will. Lots of people do.


"You enter beside the Great Pond, which is so charming in itself and in its flat frame of village green"

Meanwhile, Pat sits by him in the seat next the chauffeur's seat, and watches what he does and asks questions. He has persuaded Papa Goodrich to consent to her driving in easy places. But there are few easy places, because there are too many people enjoying this beautiful island, and just missing you by a miracle at corners. So I suppose it will be the same on future trips, and if Mrs. Shuster doesn't "kick," her secretary will continue to fill the bill as chauffeur till a professional one is engaged-a Neutral one, who neither yearns for the blood of Britishers nor the eyes of Austrians. Strange that Mrs. Shuster didn't want to come with us! The back of the Grayles-Grice is fairly full of Goodriches, but there's generous capacity for two more fattish passengers.

Mrs. S. said she would stop at home and help Mr. Moore receive guests, in case others came in his daughter's absence. But there's nothing in that excuse, really. Even Larry could have come away if he liked. Marcel Moncourt is equal to every emergency.

In our car we have offered to take a honeymoon couple named Morley with whom we feel sympathetic; and Mr. Caspian, the ex-socialist, in a roomy Wilmot, takes-himself.

Please look carefully at the map of Long Island which I send, and agree with me that though graceful in shape it's a long-bodied, short-legged island. Jack says it isn't. He says that I ought to see it's a lobster, and that what I call its legs are its claws. We live on the southern edge of its top, or northeast leg-or claw. If leg, it is kicking Shelter Island, the biggest of the baby islands swimming gaily about within reach. If claw, it is engaged with the aid of its southern mate in trying to grab the morsel. And a dainty morsel, too!-as I have seen for myself to-day by crossing over to the little island for the first time. I've been so busy getting settled I couldn't do any sight-seeing even in the neighbourhood, unless one counts running back and forth between Awepesha and Kidd's Pines.

We started out to-day on one of those pale opal mornings for which it seems Long Island is famous in spring and autumn. Literally, sky and water were one vast cream-white opal, shot with pink, and that wonderful flaming blue which rum has when it's set on fire. Our two places aren't very far from Greenport, as I've mentioned on postcards; and it's at Greenport that you take the nice red ferryboat across lovely, lakelike Peconic Bay, going to Shelter Island.

Things and thoughts are on such a large scale in America, even in the East (though the Goodriches don't see it!), that nobody seems astonished at the bigness of the said nice red ferryboat. To my British Jack, however, it loomed enormous for the smallness of its "job"-just running between the mother island and her baby islet! But when he realized just what the job in question was, he changed his mind about its being a small one. Our cavalcade was only an insignificant unit (as they say in war) among the force of motors which mobilized as the moment for the boat's departure came. There was a regular regiment at last; also lots of horses drawing old-fashioned gigs and quite smart "buggies," and capacious carts; crowds of passengers on foot, women and children, young men and girls-so pretty, some of the shopgirls on holiday pointed out to us by the man we bought tickets of. They might have been princesses by their exactly right clothes (right at first glance, anyhow) and their proud air, if you hadn't seen them chewing gum and heard them saying "Huh?" to their young men. By the way, that ticket man was the dearest old thing, who very likely had never seen New York. He grew his beard under his chin like a kind of muffler, and said broad-mindedly while we were waiting that he didn't care "what people's religion was, so long as they went to their church twice every Sunday, rain or shine." We tried to look as if we did, because we liked him so much. He'd been a sailor in his day, and was proud of Greenport for its past-a fascinating, whaling past.

In spite of the crowd (bigger I'm sure than aboard the Ark, packed though it was to supply a new world with living creatures) there was room for us all, and there was room in the bay for our hugeness, among the flight of snow-white butterflies pretending to be sailboats.

Six minutes getting across; and then we touched at a gay little landing-place as different from that of serious, serene Greenport as the ex-sailor's own church would be from a thé dansant. I suppose when other sea-going men of old made money and grew just a little, little bit frivolous, they thought no more of whales, but moved across that bright stretch of water and spent their riches building pretty houses for their children to enjoy. "Shelter Island" is a charming name for a place to rest in after a strenuous life, don't you think? And the homes to forget whales in are peaceful as days of Indian Summer after storms. The finest, and perhaps the newest ones, which have nothing to do with memories of adventure with grand old monsters of the deep, are on Shelter Island Heights. But I should rather live lower down in some house yellow as a pat of b

utter, under great drooping trees. By the way, Shelter Island's maiden name was Ahaquatuwamuck. No wonder she changed it. She had to! Incidentally an Indian chief, Yokee, delivered "unto Capitanie Nathaniel Sylvester and Ensigne John Booth one turfe with a twige in their hands," which meant giving the English possession according to a custom very cannily established by the British. Then poor dear "Yokee and all his Indians did freely and willingly depart." I don't believe a word of the willingly! They were just hypnotized!

We meant to have only a look round, and go on by another ferry to Sag Harbor, thence to arrive at Easthampton. But what do you think happened? Tom, Dick, and Harry's preposterous Hippopotamus broke out in an eruption of flame at the very moment when our procession was passing in review before a large beflagged hotel which faces the Bay. Of course it had never occurred to the boys to bring one of those patent extinguishers which all thoughtful automobiles wear now as a matter of course. And I suppose that (at best) they would have done the Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego act if Peter Storm hadn't heard yells and dashed back with paraphernalia from Pat's car. Jack dashed also, but Peter (I call him so behind his back) was nearer, and hadn't been wounded. In three minutes the Hippopotamus was grinning with her mouth wide open, and the fire out, but looking exactly like one of those uncouth beasts you see in frescoes of the Inferno, in ancient monasteries abroad.

All the people in the world were on the wide veranda of that immense hotel, gazing at the free show, and we'd have sold ourselves bag and baggage for about thirty cents. It is a gray-shingled hotel trimmed with white, and battalions of rocking-chairs, mobilized in soldierly ranks, were all left rocking wildly at the top of their voices, their occupants had sprung up so suddenly. It did give a ghostly effect, as if the spirits of vanished guests had seized the chairs and begun visibly to use them the instant their rivals in the flesh were out!

If you fancy that we were able to escape from the eyes and the rocking-chairs without further pain, that shows how little you know the Hippopotamus. Being on fire had given it heart-failure or something. There it stood in front of the hotel, preventing any one else from driving up, till the animal's blushing keepers had pushed it to one side, and we were too noble to pretend we weren't acquainted with it, or even to go on and let it follow. We'd started in the morning, though we had practically no run to make, because we wanted nearly all of one day to potter about Easthampton, seeing sights. But it ended in our having lunch at Shelter Island. The dining-room of that hotel was big enough to hold nearly every one in New York, and most of the inhabitants of that and other large cities seemed to be there. I never saw so many "types" in my life, as one haughtily says in the Casino at Monte Carlo. Most of the girls were pretty, but there were people of all sorts of shapes and sizes; and you can't conceive how the pretty, just right ones, back in rocking-chairs on the veranda after luncheon, looked at the plain, just wrong ones who ventured to amble past them in humble quest of other chairs. Good gracious me! I wouldn't have run that gauntlet for any prize less than winning Jack's love, unless I simply adored my own clothes and features!

Toward two o'clock we got away, still feeling as if we'd been pawed over and rejected in a bargain sale. But though eyes stared coldly, flags waved over the hotel as if in our honour, music played, and breezes blew. All the same we were quite glad to get to a peaceful, countrylike ferry which would take us from the island of humiliation to a harbour where no one would know what had happened-namely, Sag Harbor on the right or lower claw, according to Jack, or the left leg, according to me.

There's a perfect flotilla of miniature islands in between the claws, and people live on them or spend summers on them. I should like to buy them all, because I couldn't be sure which I should like best, and whichever I had, I should know the ones I hadn't were nicer.

This was a wee ferryboat, almost as wee as the things you cross lochs in, in the Highlands of Scotland, but it hadn't so much the air of that being its day to tip over-which was a comfort. As for Sag Harbor, don't make the mistake of supposing that it sagged in any untidy way at the edges, or anything dull like that. Could you call a place dull which was first heard of historically in connection with a reward for killing wolves? There's a dear old town not far from the ferry. In its sedate middle-age it was a great whaling place, and is still crammed full of sea captains' descendants who are, in their turn, crammed full of fascinating stories of old days of great adventure, just as their serene-looking, aged houses are crammed full of shells and coral and other ocean-borne treasures from the far corners of the world. Any of these people (we met some) can tell you that "Sagg" Harbor or the "Harbor of Sagg" (it's dropped the "g," as lots of smart people do in England!) came from the word Sagma, or chief. Jack likes to believe that, just as he likes to find a romantic connection between Sagma, chief, or great man, and saga, or great song. But there are other less picturesque suggestions. If you'd seen what a fine old place Sag Harbor is, you'd hate to think it owed its name to a mere ground-nut the Indians called "Sagabon," or, still worse, "sagga," "thick-growing," which these ground-nuts were: "tubers big as eggs and good as potatoes, 40 on a string, not two inches underground."

Poor Jack simply stubbed his brain against the hardest of these Indian words at first, but now he has developed an almost inconvenient passion for them. When he looks at me steadily, and I think he is about to exclaim a sonnet to my eyebrow, he bursts out: "Tomahawk comes from 'tumetah-who-uf,' he who cuts off with a blow"; or, "Syosset sounds Indian, but is Dutch in origin. It came from 'Schouts'-'sheriff'"; and so on. I never know when I'm safe, but I'm as pleased as he is with the old Long Island place-names, English as well as Indian. Lots of them seem to tell as much about their meanings in a few syllables as an intimate chapter of history; Forge River, Sachem's House, Canoe Place, Baiting Hollow, Execution Rocks, Harbor Hill, South Manor, Bethpage, and a whole pink and green mapful of others. Of course Jamesport was named after horrid old King James the Second, when the Island was under English rule; and every governor and grandee must have a place named after himself! But those names I've jotted down do call up pictures of life in the first settlers' days, don't they?

I suppose while people are alive, they never realize how romantic their own times are! They always look back. What kind of creature will sigh for the far-off quaintness of our days and make fun of our spelling? Those colonists who came in droves from France and Holland and England, to chase away Indians as dawn chases away the shadows of night, would have been surprised if they'd heard their times called romantic, yet how thrilling they seem to Jack and me, as we repeat the old names they gave, and see the "havens" which welcomed them in the New World!

If we hadn't felt already that Long Island was one big haven, we should have begun to feel it at Easthampton. When I say "haven," I mean a sort of hearth and home for weary voyagers, you know, for this Island does give you the impression of having more heart than most places. Perhaps this is because (despite all the Indian fighting and battles of the Revolution) it was from the beginning of its civilization the bourne of homemakers. And, anyhow, when people did horrid things here in the past they prayed about them devoutly; they didn't build their dining-halls over the dungeons, and comfortably feast while their prisoners starved!


"Artists would find a paradise of queer, cozy gables, and corners of gardens crowded with old-fashioned flowers"

But about Easthampton. There's absolutely nothing like it on the other side of the water, not even in Devonshire or Dorset, where the seashore villages are so lovely. Perhaps he will change his mind to-morrow, but to-day Jack says Easthampton is the prettiest place he ever saw.

I wonder if I can make you see what it's like? Perhaps you may see with your mind's eye, but I'm afraid for Monty it's hopeless, as he's never been to America, where everything is so completely different from other countries. Easthampton could be described in several ways by several people, and they would all be right. A history lover would see dignified ghosts of Indian chiefs treating with prim Puritans driven from New England by grim religious dissensions. He would see the best whaling-boats of the New World being made. He would people the oldest shingled houses with families whose possessions are now stored in the picturesque museum. "This place of dreams belongs to the past," he would say, feeling pleasantly sad as he stood by the Great Pond, gazing at irresponsible, intensely modern ducks. Artists would find a paradise of queer, cozy gables, and corners of gardens crowded with old-fashioned flowers that matter more than all the ancient books in the museum library. They would remember Easthampton for the green velvet moss and golden lichen on its ancient roofs, the faint rainbow tints in the old, old glass of its tiny window-panes; for the pink hollyhocks painted against backgrounds of dove-gray shingles; for its sky of peculiar hyacinth blue like a vast cup inverted over wide-stretching golden sands. They would remember gray windmills striding along those sands like a procession of tall monks with arms lifted in benediction; whereas the summer girls and their summer young men would think of the charming, glorified cottages with their awnings and verandas and lovely lawns and masses of blue and pink hydrangeas; also of the big and jolly hotel where we are staying to-night. (The Hamptons wouldn't have done for them in old days when men and maids-"persons of the younger sort"-were hauled up before the courts if they were out after nine o'clock!) While the picture for children would be of a shining beach smooth as silk, and immense lengths of white waves, marching rank after rank in an endless army, with deep rolling music of unseen drums.

You may take your choice of these Hamptons, or like me you may say, "I'll have them all, please!"

Anyhow, you enter beside the Great Pond I told you of, which is so charming in itself and in its flat frame of village green that it deserves the capital G and P it's always spelt with. I do believe if you dared begin it with little letters you'd be driven out of town, and not with "'Fruites,' and corn, and coates," as the Indians were invited to leave in their day. They had a nice well, in a green plain, perhaps where the Great Pond is now, for all I know. There's an old Indian Bible which tells about it, when the Montauks-a fine brave tribe who sold out dirt cheap to the Puritans-lived in their village, which is still commemorated by the name Amagansett. (By the way, I promised Jack to tell Monty that "sett" means meeting-place, which explains why "sett" is the tag end of so many village names here.)

As I said, you come to the Great Pond, and you feel ashamed of being in a motor car, though hundreds of other people are equally guilty. It's all so green and sweet and peaceful, that speed seems a crime. The street, if you can call it a street, is as broad as a generous mind. Never was an English village-green as perfect as this, I suppose because the self-banished English folk who created it worked from an idealized picture treasured in their hearts. And there are old gray and white houses as beautiful as houses in dreams, and pretty new houses which carefully contrive not to look out of keeping with the old ones. Also there are windmills, sketched on clear open backgrounds-windmills which the English settlers didn't mind copying from the Dutch on the other side of the Island.

Now can you fancy what Easthampton is like? But even if you can, you'll never, never smell (unless you pack up and come here) the wonderful fragrance of salt sea and sweet flowers which I shall always have in my mind's nostrils (why can't one have nostrils as well as eyes in one's mind?) when I think of this place. And oh, I nearly forgot to tell you about that great feature, the museum and library, though we spent two hours browsing in it, and "musing" (appropriate word for Easthampton!) by the fountain in its garden. They've made the building look as Elizabethan as though it had been shipped from Surrey; and its books and pictures and relics are fascinating. So are the girls who are the guardians of the place. They are the only young things there.

Luckily it was the one day of the week when people are allowed to go inside the quaintest of the houses in the village (I hate calling it a town, though perhaps I ought to), the wee bit hoosie where John Howard Payne lived. If you don't know that he wrote "Home, Sweet Home," you ought to. It's the dearest little gray nest you can imagine, and I envy the people who own it. No wonder J. H. P. was able to write such a song! But how surprised he'd have been, all the same, if any one had told him that a hundred years or so later crowds of pilgrims would come to worship at that humble shrine!

We had time, after the Payne house, to undertake an adventure. Not that we knew it was going to be an adventure when we started. Jack was responsible for it, he having inflamed his mind by reading overmuch about Montauk Indians and their virtues. Their great stronghold used to be at Montauk Point, a kind of peninsula at the far eastern end of the Island, and Jack wanted to see it. The people at the hotel told us we should find a bad road for motors, but what was that to us, who call ourselves pioneers in the motor world? Bad roads were not in the bright lexicon of our youth, and of course the rest of the party wouldn't back out when that was our attitude. Besides, Mr. Goodrich, the Garden of the Gods giant, put money in an enterprise which expects that ocean liners will some day dock at Montauk Point and so save many hours. He was as keen in his way as Jack was in his, though he cared not that brave Montauk Indians had built their places of refuge there in palisaded inclosures.

Well, we set forth gaily, none of us knowing what we were in for, unless it was Peter Storm. I began to think, after certain events, that he must have pushed his inquiries farther than we did, or else, in that lurid past of his, one of the purplest patches was a secret expedition to the end of Montauk Point. I thought at first it was remarkable of him not only to consent but to applaud the idea that Ed Caspian should lead the way. Earlier, he had seemed to do all he could to spurn and outdistance the Wilmot with the Grayles-Grice. Mr. Caspian is very proud of the Wilmot (though I hear a rumour that he's been taking mysterious lessons how to drive a G.-G.), so proud that he suspected nothing when, without dissent from any quarter, he was allowed to head our procession.

At the start everything was beautiful. Jack was quite entertaining and instructive to the honeymooners and me about the meaning and derivation of the word Montauk which used to be spelled in any old way you liked, from Meantauket (which meant "fortified town") to Muttaag (pillar or ensign), or Manatuck (high land). It seemed that one of the Indians' inclosures, called the New Fort, was still standing in 1662, when Long Island was beginning to think itself quite smart and civilized. That was nice to learn, practically on the spot. We were chatting about the few Indians who exist to this day on Long Island (rather mixed up with negroes) and admiring the gorgeous golden dunes, and gorgeouser goldener gorse when suddenly bump! bump! The moderately bad road became immoderately awful. At this spot some disillusioned motorist had revengefully printed on a proud sign-post the classic words: "Damn Bad Road." We were forced to believe him. And at that instant, as if to emphasize the description, millions of mosquitoes the size of humming-birds attacked us. How the Indians stood them, goodness knows, but perhaps they put up with the pests because they helped keep off the enemy.

All the females of our party uttered uncensored cries, demanding retreat at any price; but Ed Caspian, hearing these wails, turned upon us with taunts. Close behind him came the Grayles-Grice, Peter Storm at the wheel. "Let the ladies come into my car, Mr. Storm," said he, "and they won't notice the jolts."

"Certainly, if they like," Peter consented.

"We don't like, thanks!" replied all the Goodrich giantesses as one. Pat didn't answer, but had the air of a captain intending to sink with the ship.

"Oh, very well, I shall see this through," remarked our noble leader. "One can go anywhere with a Wilmot, even to-the devil!"

That wasn't the way he meant to end his sentence, bien entendu. But just then he plumped into a rut like the back door to China or-to the home of that over-painted gentleman inadvertently mentioned.

We've all learned in Latin how easy is the descent to the second abode, but if we hadn't had it sufficiently impressed on our young minds how difficult it is to get out again, we should have had an object lesson watching the Wilmot. Will-not would have been a better name, if you don't mind a pun, for it simply wouldn't and-didn't. There it was, stuck in ruts of sand worse than Jack and I ever said bad words about in the Sahara. Ed Caspian and his chauffeur did what the German Kaiser used to say he'd do to win a Cowes yacht race-his damnedest. The engine groaned and snorted. You could almost see sweat starting from every valve. Nothing doing but noise! Naturally we were all delighted, because pride and falls go so well together when they're other people's; while as for the poor Hippopotamus, it looked weeks younger, in a minute!

Finally, in the midst of a roar that would have turned an elephant green with envy, the Wilmot's teeth were torn from their sockets-I mean the gears were stripped. That was the end; and all our men, looking hypercritically helpful, ran to the rescue. But there wasn't any rescue. When everything good had been tried and everything bad said, we had to leave. The Wilmot was left to the mercy of the mosquitoes. Ed Caspian was taken aboard the good ship Grayles-Grice, and Jack and I adopted the chauffeur. Our cars backed out of the worst ruts, and it was a long time before we could turn. There, on the way to Montauk Point, the Wilmot remains to this hour, for it was too late to do anything when we got home to the hotel. I wouldn't "put it past" those mosquitoes to suck off all the paint in the night!

Just here in my budget I was interrupted. Pat tiptoed into the sitting-room, spying my rose-light on the balcony, and whispering my name like a password.

I told you, didn't I, that there was pretty sure to be news at half-past midnight? There is-such funny news, entirely different from what I expected!

Peter Storm and Ed Caspian both got telegrams. Peter Storm couldn't understand his. It said, "Can't recall him immediately, but will day after to-morrow. Most inconvenient to have him here now. This will give you one clear day to try your hand on other car."

The mysterious message was signed "L. Shuster," and it was given to Peter as he was about to dance with Pat (it seems he can dance), and seeing him look puzzled she asked politely if anything were wrong. He said he didn't know, and showed her the telegram. She could make no more of it than he could. Then Mr. Caspian appeared with a telegram in his hand. "Have you a wire from Mrs. Shuster?" he wanted to know. Peter didn't deny the soft impeachment. "I'm just wondering," blundered Ed, "if by any chance the lady was absent-minded and mixed the messages? Some one talking to her while she wrote, perhaps. Will you let me have a look at yours?"

Peter let him have a look; in fact, they exchanged; and Peter read in the one apparently intended for Ed: "Please come home day after to-morrow. Find I need you. L. Shuster."

"I think this is mine," said Ed.

"And probably this is intended for me," said Peter. "Was it the Grayles-Grice you thought of trying your hand on?"

"I told Mrs. Shuster I could drive it for Miss Moore, rather than break up the party if she needed you. She was to let us know-when her plans were settled," explained Ed. And Patsey says he stammered.

"After that affair of the Wilmot this afternoon I shouldn't like to advise Miss Moore to exchange chauffeurs, even for one day," said Peter. "Mrs. Shuster's very good-natured. I expect she'll wait. If not, she can fill my place with some one else, permanently."

Pat was amused, though I'm not sure she understood the little play of cross-purposes as well as I understand it. And she doesn't seem to attach any importance to that part of the telegram which is the most exciting, to my idea. Why would it be inconvenient for our fair Lily to have her secretary return to-morrow? Something is up at Kidd's Pines! I vaguely suspected as much when she let us come away without her. When Jack wakes I shall ask him what he thinks. Love.

Your affectionate


P. S. Jack thinks something so wild and woolly that I daren't tell you what it is till I know, for fear he's wrong. Much less will I tell Pat. And we can't know for two or three days unless we abbreviate the trip which all of us would hate to do.

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