« PreviousContinue »
throbbing and ringing through her head, As the gale reached its height, it was she shut her eyes, and fancied she had a sight at once terrible and beautiful, to seen her last of earth.
watch, standing in the lantern, the goadIn an instant Caleb was beside her, — ed sea, whose foam-capped waves could his arm about her, holding her safely plainly be seen at the horizon line, breakwhere she was ;- but to continue was ing here and there upon sunken rocks, impossible for either.
over which in their playful moods they “ Ho! Mr. F.!” shouted Caleb; "come scarcely rippled, but on which they now this way, will you, and give my wife your dashed with such white fury as to make hand ? She is a little frightened, and them discernible, even through the darkcan't go on.”
ness of night. One long, low ridge of Presently a stout arm and hand ap submarine rocks, around which seethpeared from among that nodding, mock- ed a perpetual caldron, was called the ing grass, and a cheery voice exclaim- Devil's Bridge ; but when erected, or ed,
for what purpose, tradition failed to “ Here, my dear lady, take right hold, state. strong;- you can't pull me over,- not N ever, surely, did the wind rave about if you try to."
a peaceful inland dwelling as it did Unclasping, with some difficulty, her about that lonely light-house for two long fingers from the rock, into which they nights. It roared, it howled, it shriekseemed to have grown, Mysie grasped ed, it whistled ; it drew back to gather the proffered hand, and the next moment strength, and then rushed to the attack was safe upon the turt.
with such mad fury, that the strong, " Oh, my good gracious !” muttered young light-house, whose frame was all the kind old man; but whether the ex- of iron and stone, shrunk trembling beclamation was caused by Mysie's face, fore it, and the children in their beds pale, no doubt, by the effort necessary to screamed aloud for fear. But through raise her half-fainting figure, or by the all and beyond all, the calm, strong light idea of the peril in which she had been, sent out its piercing, warning rays into did not appear.
the black night; and who can tell what Clarissa, calm and equable, was next sinner it may that night have prevented passed up by Caleb, who, declining the from crossing the Devil's Bridge to the proffered hand, drew himself up, by a world which lies beyond ? firm grasp upon the rocky scarp of the There was but one wreck during the cliff.
storm, so far as our travellers heard; “ Guess you was scart some then, wa’n't and in this the lives were saved. Two you ?” inquired Clarissa, as the party men, caught out in a fishing-smack, findwalked homeward.
ing that their little vessel was founder“ Oh, no!” replied Mysie, quickly. ing, betook themselves to their small "But I could not get over the top of the boat; but this filled more rapidly than cliff alone,- it was so steep.”
they could bale it; and they had just “Oh, that was the matter?” drawled given themselves up for lost, when their the child, with a sidelong glance of her signals of distress were observed on board sharp black eyes.
the light-ship stationed near Newport, The northeast wind which went fossil- which sent a life-boat to their assistance, izing with Mysie and Clara on their first and rescued them just as their little boat excursion was the precursor of a furious went to pieces. storm of rain and wind, ranking, accord. When Mysie heard this occurrence ing to the dictum of experienced weath- mentioned, as they were journeying er-seers, as little inferior to that famous homeward, it recalled to her mind a litone in which fell the Minot's Ledge tle incident of the day succeeding the Light-house.
Walking with Clara upon the beach, “Did he really say so ?” asked Clara, they saw borne toward them, on the sharply. crest of a mighty wave, a square beam “I don't know," said Mysie, laughing; of wood, bent at an obtuse angle, which “but that's what I heard about it when I Clara at once pronounced to be the was a little girl.” knee from some large boat, and, rush- . While the storm continued too violent ing dauntlessly into the water, the en- for out-of-door exercise, Mysie cultivated ergetic little maid battled with the wave an acquaintance with a remarkably pleasfor its unwieldy toy, and finally drag- ant and intelligent lady who fortunately ged it triumphantly out upon the beach, was making a visit at the light-house. and beyond the reach of the wave, She had been for many years a resionly wishing that she had “a piece of dent of the Vineyard, and had taken chalk to make father's mark upon it." great interest in its history, both past Failing the chalk, she rushed off home and present. From her Mysie derived for "father and one of the boys," who much curious and interesting informasoon bestowed the prize in a place of tion. safety.
It seems that the island was first disMysie at first wondered considerably covered by a certain Thomas Mayhew, that persons should take so much trouble who, voyaging with others to settle in the for a piece of wood, but ceased to do Plymouth Colony during its early days, so when she remembered that on the was driven by stress of weather into a whole island could not probably be found safe and commodious bay, now Edgara tree of a foot in diameter, and that town harbor, but then seen and used for everything like board or joist at the the first time by white men. The storm light-house must be brought by sea to over, his companions prepared to resume Holmes’s Hole, Edgartown, or Menem- their voyage; but Mayhew, seeing the shee, and thence carted over that road land fair and pleasant to look upon, to Gay Head, becoming, by the time decided to remain there, and landed it reached “the Light,” not a com- with whoever in the ship belonged to mon necessary, but an expensive luxu- bim. ry. She was not, therefore, surprised He, of course, found the land in the at being accompanied in her next walk hands of its original possessors, a small along the beach by quite a little party and peaceful tribe of Indians, living quiof wreckers, who, joyfully seizing every etly upon their own island, and having chip which the waves tossed within their very little communication with their reach, accumulated at last a very re- neighbors. With them Thomas Mayhew spectable pile of drift-wood.
bargained for what land he wanted, se"It would be a good thing for you, lecting it in what is now the town of if the schooner “Mary Ann” should go Chilmark, and paying for it, to the satisto pieces off here,” remarked Mysie to faction of all parties, with an old soldier's Clara, who had become her constant coat which happened to be among his attendant.
possessions. " Why?” inquired she, expectant- In process of time, one of his sons,
named Experience, having been edu"On account of her cargo. When cated for the purpose in England, rehailed by another ship, and asked his turned to his father's home as a misname, the captain replied,
sionary to the kind and hospitable sav
ages among whom he dwelt. So pros* I'm Jonathan Homer, master and owner
perous were the labors of himself, and Of the schooner Mary Ann; She comes from Pank-a-tank, laden with oak
afterward of his son Zachariah, that plank,
in a journal, kept by the latter, it is And bound to Surinam.'"
mentioned that there were then upon
the island twelve thousand “praying the rank of officers, although few white Indians.”
sailors are sufficiently liberal in their Experience Mayhew is still spoken of views to approve of being commanded as “the great Indian missionary,” and by “ a nigger," as they persist in calling the house in which he lived was still these half-breeds. standing a few years since upon the The wigwams, wbich, no doubt, were farm of Mr. Hancock in Chilmark. at first erected here, have given place
The island is to this day full of May- to neat and substantial frame buildings, hews of every degree, --so far, at least, as comfortable, apparently, as those in as distinctions of rank have obtained many New England villages. There among this isolated and primitive peo- is also a nice-looking Baptist church, ple.
of which denomination almost every adWhen Massachusetts erected herself ult is a member. Near this is a parinto a State, and included the Vineyard sonage, occupied until lately by a white within her bounds, it was divided into clergyman; but the spirit of Experithe townships of Edgartown, (or Old- ence Mayhew is not common in these town,) Holmes's Hole, Tisbury, and Chil- days; and his successor, finding the parmark, and the district of Gay Head, ish lonely and uncongenial, removed to which last, with the island of Chip-a- a pleasanter one,-- his pulpit being now quid-dick, off Edgartown, and a small filled by a preacher from among the Intract of land in Tisbury, named Chris- dians themselves. tian-town, were made over in perpetu- Mysie took occasion to call at one of ity to the Indians who chose to remain. these quasi wigwams, soon after her arriThey have not the power of alienating val, but could discern only one aborigiany portion of this territory, nor may nal vestige in either inhabitants or cusany white man build or dwell there. If, toms. This existed in the shape of a dish however, one of the tribe marry out of of succotash, (corn and beans boiled tothe community, the alien husband or wife gether,) which the good woman was premay come to live with the native spouse paring for breakfast, - very possibly in so long as the marriage continues; and ignorance that her ancestors had cooked the Indians have taken advantage of this and eaten and named the compound ages permission to intermarry with the ne- before the white intruders ever saw their groes, until there is not one pure-blooded shore. descendant of the original stock remain- Mysie pursued her morning walk in a ing, and its physiognomy and complexion somewhat melancholy mood. It is a sad are in most cases undistinguishable in and dreary sight to behold a nation in the combination of the two races. decay; saddest when the fall is from so
Gay Ilead contains eleven hundred slight an elevation as that on which the acres, seven of which are the birthright savage stood. Greece and Rome, falling of every Indian child ; but it is not gen- into old age, proudly boast, "Men (annot erally divided by fences, the cattle of the say I did not have the crown"; each shows whole tribe grazing together in amicable undying, unsurpassable achievements of companionship. Much of the value of her day of power and strength, - each, the property lies in the cranberry-mead if she live no longer in the sight of the ows, which are large and productive, and world, is sure of dwelling forever in its in the beds of rich peat. A great deal memory. But the aboriginal, when his of the soil, however, is valuable for cul- simple routine of life is broken up by the tivation, although but little used, as the intrusion of a people more powerful, more majority of the men follow the example wicked, and more wise than himself, is of their white co-islanders, and plough incapable of exchanging his own purely the sea instead of the land. They make physical ambitions and pursuits for the inexcellent seamen, and soinetimes rise to tellectual and cultivated life belonging to the better class of his conquerors, while for the fine quality of the codfish caught his wild and sensuous nature grasps ea- and cured there. gerly at the new forms of vice which fol. The strangest of all, however, was the low in their train. Civilization to the name given to the island selected by Ann, savage destroys his own existence, and which was first called Nan-took-it, and gives him no better one,- destroys it is now known as Nantucket.” irremediably and forever. The life suffi- “ Thank Heaven, that I at last know cient for himself and for the day is not something about Martha!” ejaculated that which stretches its hand into the fu- Mysie. ture and sets its mark on ages not yet born ; it dies and is forgotten, - forgot- At length, every corner filled with ten even by the descendants of those specimens, every face deeply imbrowned who lived it.
by sun and wind, and the Baron with Some of the Indian names still survive; only the ghost of a pair of shoes to his and Mysie's indignation was roused, when feet, our travellers set their faces homea descendant of the Mayhews, pointing ward, — Caleb resolving to renew his acout the hamlets of Menemshee and Nash- quaintance with the birds at some future aquitsa, (commonly called Quitsy,) add- period, his imagination having been quite ed, contemptuously,
inflamed by the accounts of plover and " But thein's only nicknames given by grouse to be found here in their season. the colored folks ; it's all Chilmark by The latter, however, are very strictly rights."
protected by law during most of the sea" I suppose they are the names used by son, on account of the rapidity with which the ancestors of these Indians, before a they were disappearing. They are idenwhite man ever saw the island, are they tical with the prairie-fowl, so common at not ?" inquired she, somewhat dryly. the West, and are said to be delicious
" Like enough, like enough,” replied eating. the other, carelessly, and not in the least Desirous to improve their minds and appreciating the rebuke.
manners by as much travel as possible, From the lady before referred to My- the trio resolved to leave the island by sie received an answer to her oft-repeat- the way of Edgartown, the terminus of ed question,
the steamboat route. Bidding adieu to “* Is there any tradition how the island their kind and obliging host and hostess, received its name?"
the twelve children, and the pleasant new “ Oh, yes," was the unexpected and friend, they set out, upon the most charmwelcome answer. "All the islands nearing of all autumn days, for Edgartown, here were granted by the King of Eng- fully prepared to be dazzled by its beauland to a gentleman whose name is for- ty and confounded by its magnificence. gotten; but he had four daughters, among - Edgartown is a much finer place than whom he divided his new possessions. Holmes's Hole, I understand,” remarked
“This one, remarkable then, as now, Caleb to their driver. in a degree, for its abundance of wild “Well, I dunno; it's some bigger," was grapes, he gave to Martha as her Vine- the reply. yard.
“ But it is a better sort of place, I am “ The group to the north, consisting of told ; people from Edgartown don't seem Pennikeese, Cuttyhunk, Nashawena, Nau- to think much of Holmes's Hole." shon, Pasqui, and Punkatasset, are called “No, nor the Holmes's Hole folks don't the Elizabeth Islands, from the daughter think much of Oldtown ; it's pretty much who inherited them.
according to who you talk to, which place " That little island to the southwest of is called the bandsomest, I reckon." us was Naomi's portion. It is now called “ Athens or Rome, London or Paris, Noman's Land, and is remarkable only Oldtown or Holmes's Hole, Mysie,” murmured Caleb, as their driver stopped to en houses, a little bank, and a very nice reply to the driver of " a team,” who was tavern, at which the travellers receivanxious to know when he was “a-goin' ed very satisfactory entertainment. The to butcher agin.”
next day, reëmbarking upon the “EaEdgartown proved to be a pretty little gle's Wing," they soon reached New seaside town, with some handsome wood. Bedford.
OCTOBER TO MAY.
The day that brightens half the earth
Is night to half. Ah, sweet!
In chains about my feet.
The breeze which wakes the folded flower
Sweeps dead leaves from the tree ;-
But leaves his blight with me.
The rain which calls the violet up
Out of the moistened mould
To love and spare the old.
The shower which makes the bud a rose
Beats off the lilac-bloom.
I pass, and give you room!