Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Oldport Days Thomas Wentworth Higginson

In A Wherry

Page 6 of 7

Table Of Contents: Oldport Days

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

Perhaps all other elements are tenderer in their dealings with what is intrusted to them than is the air. Fire, at least, destroys what it has ruined; earth is warm and loving, and it moreover conceals; water is at least caressing,--it laps the greater part of this wreck with protecting waves, covers with sea-weeds all that it can reach, and protects with incrusting shells. Even beyond its grasp it tosses soft pendants of moss that twine like vine-tendrils, or sway in the wind. It mellows harsh colors into beauty, and Ruskin grows eloquent over the wave-washed tint of some tarry, weather-beaten boat. But air is pitiless: it dries and stiffens all outline, and bleaches all color away, so that you can hardly tell whether these ribs belonged to a ship or an elephant; and yet there is a certain cold purity in the shapes it leaves, and the birds it sends to perch upon these timbers are a more graceful company than lobsters or fishes. After all, there is something sublime in that sepulture of the Parsees, who erect near every village a dokhma, or Tower of Silence, upon whose summit they may bury their dead in air.

Thus widely may one's thoughts wander from a summer boat. But the season for rowing is a long one, and far outlasts in Oldport the stay of our annual guests. Sometimes in autumnal mornings I glide forth over water so still, it seems as if saturated by the Indian-summer with its own indefinable calm. The distant islands lift themselves on white pedestals of mirage; the cloud-shadows rest softly on Conanicut; and what seems a similar shadow on the nearer slopes of Fort Adams is in truth but a mounted battery, drilling, which soon moves and slides across the hazy hill like a cloud.

Tired of reading? Add this page to your Bookmarks or Favorites and finish it later.

I hear across nearly a mile of water the faint, Sharp orders and the sonorous blare of the trumpet That follows each command; the horsemen gallop and wheel; suddenly the band within the fort strikes up for guard-mounting, and I have but to shut my eyes to be carried back to warlike days that passed by,--was it centuries ago? Meantime, I float gradually towards Brenton's Cove; the lawns that reach to the water's edge were never so gorgeously green in any summer, and the departure of the transient guests gives to these lovely places an air of cool seclusion; when fashion quits them, the imagination is ready to move in. An agreeable sense of universal ownership comes over the winter-staying mind in Oldport. I like to keep up this little semblance of habitation on the part of our human birds of passage; it is very pleasant to me, and perhaps even pleasanter to them, that they should call these emerald slopes their own for a month or two; but when they lock the doors in autumn, the ideal key reverts into my hands, and it is evident that they have only been "tenants by the courtesy," in the fine legal phrase. Provided they stay here long enough to attend to their lawns and pay their taxes, I am better satisfied than if these estates were left to me the whole year round.

Page 6 of 7 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Oldport Days
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004