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THE

PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND


A Story of the Coast of Maine


BY

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE


BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY

The Riverside Press, Cambridge

1896


Copyright, 1862 and 1890,

BY HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.


Copyright, 1896,

BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.


_All rights reserved._


_The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A._

Electrotyped and Printed by H.O. Houghton & Co.




CONTENTS


INTRODUCTORY NOTE vii

CHAP. PAGE

I. NAOMI 1

II. MARA 5

III. THE BAPTISM AND THE BURIAL 9

IV. AUNT ROXY AND AUNT RUEY 15

V. THE KITTRIDGES 25

VI. GRANDPARENTS 36

VII. FROM THE SEA 47

VIII. THE SEEN AND THE UNSEEN 58

IX. MOSES 74

X. THE MINISTER 85

XI. LITTLE ADVENTURERS 99

XII. SEA TALES 110

XIII. BOY AND GIRL 120

XIV. THE ENCHANTED ISLAND 132

XV. THE HOME COMING 143

XVI. THE NATURAL AND THE SPIRITUAL 154

XVII. LESSONS 165

XVIII. SALLY 175

XIX. EIGHTEEN 179

XX. REBELLION 186

XXI. THE TEMPTER 198

XXII. A FRIEND IN NEED 208

XXIII. THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY 218

XXIV. DESIRES AND DREAMS 229

XXV. MISS EMILY 235

XXVI. DOLORES 245

XXVII. HIDDEN THINGS 258

XXVIII. A COQUETTE 270

XXIX. NIGHT TALKS 279

XXX. THE LAUNCH OF THE ARIEL 290

XXXI. GREEK MEETS GREEK 303

XXXII. THE BETROTHAL 315

XXXIII. AT A QUILTING 323

XXXIV. FRIENDS 329

XXXV. THE TOOTHACRE COTTAGE 335

XXXVI. THE SHADOW OF DEATH 339

XXXVII. THE VICTORY 351

XXXVIII. OPEN VISION 358

XXXIX. THE LAND OF BEULAH 368

XL. THE MEETING 376

XLI. CONSOLATION 380

XLII. LAST WORDS 387

XLIII. THE PEARL 393

XLIV. FOUR YEARS AFTER 398

The frontispiece (Mara, page 376) was drawn by W.L. Taylor. The vignette
was etched by Charles H. Woodbury.




INTRODUCTORY NOTE.


The publication of _Uncle Tom's Cabin_, though much more than an
incident in an author's career, seems to have determined Mrs. Stowe more
surely in her purpose to devote herself to literature. During the summer
following its appearance, she was in Andover, making over the house
which she and her husband were to occupy upon leaving Brunswick; and
yet, busy as she was, she was writing articles for _The Independent_ and
_The National Era_. The following extract from a letter written at that
time, July 29, 1852, intimates that she already was sketching the
outline of the story which later grew into _The Pearl of Orr's
Island_: -

"I seem to have so much to fill my time, and yet there is my Maine story
waiting. However, I am composing it every day, only I greatly need
living studies for the filling in of my sketches. There is old Jonas, my
"fish father," a sturdy, independent fisherman farmer, who in his youth
sailed all over the world and made up his mind about everything. In his
old age he attends prayer-meetings and reads the _Missionary Herald_. He
also has plenty of money in an old brown sea-chest. He is a great heart
with an inflexible will and iron muscles. I must go to Orr's Island and
see him again." The story seems to have remained in her mind, for we are
told by her son that she worked upon it by turns with _The Minister's
Wooing_.

It was not, however, until eight years later, after _The Minister's
Wooing_ had been published and _Agnes of Sorrento_ was well begun, that
she took up her old story in earnest and set about making it into a
short serial. It would seem that her first intention was to confine
herself to a sketch of the childhood of her chief characters, with a
view to delineating the influences at work upon them; but, as she
herself expressed it, "Out of the simple history of the little Pearl of
Orr's Island as it had shaped itself in her mind, rose up a Captain
Kittridge with his garrulous yarns, and Misses Roxy and Ruey, given to
talk, and a whole pigeon roost of yet undreamed of fancies and dreams
which would insist on being written." So it came about that the story as
originally planned came to a stopping place at the end of Chapter XVII.,
as the reader may see when he reaches that place. The childish life of
her characters ended there, and a lapse of ten years was assumed before
their story was taken up again in the next chapter. The book when
published had no chapter headings. These have been supplied in the
present edition.




THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND




CHAPTER I

NAOMI


On the road to the Kennebec, below the town of Bath, in the State of
Maine, might have been seen, on a certain autumnal afternoon, a
one-horse wagon, in which two persons were sitting. One was an old man,
with the peculiarly hard but expressive physiognomy which characterizes
the seafaring population of the New England shores. A clear blue eye,
evidently practiced in habits of keen observation, white hair, bronzed,
weather-beaten cheeks, and a face deeply lined with the furrows of
shrewd thought and anxious care, were points of the portrait that made
themselves felt at a glance.

By his side sat a young woman of two-and-twenty, of a marked and
peculiar personal appearance. Her hair was black, and smoothly parted on
a broad forehead, to which a pair of penciled dark eyebrows gave a
striking and definite outline. Beneath, lay a pair of large black eyes,
remarkable for tremulous expression of melancholy and timidity. The
cheek was white and bloodless as a snowberry, though with the clear and
perfect oval of good health; the mouth was delicately formed, with a
certain sad quiet in its lines, which indicated a habitually repressed
and sensitive nature.

The dress of this young person, as often happens in New England, was, in
refinement and even elegance, a marked contrast to that of her male
companion and to the humble vehicle in which she rode. There was not
only the most fastidious neatness, but a delicacy in the choice of
colors, an indication of elegant tastes in the whole arrangement, and
the quietest suggestion in the world of an acquaintance with the usages
of fashion, which struck one oddly in those wild and dreary
surroundings. On the whole, she impressed one like those fragile
wild-flowers which in April cast their fluttering shadows from the mossy
crevices of the old New England granite, - an existence in which
colorless delicacy is united to a sort of elastic hardihood of life, fit
for the rocky soil and harsh winds it is born to encounter.

The scenery of the road along which the two were riding was wild and
bare. Only savins and mulleins, with their dark pyramids or white spires
of velvet leaves, diversified the sandy wayside; but out at sea was a
wide sweep of blue, reaching far to the open ocean, which lay rolling,
tossing, and breaking into white caps of foam in the bright sunshine.
For two or three days a northeast storm had been raging, and the sea was
in all the commotion which such a general upturning creates.

The two travelers reached a point of elevated land, where they paused a
moment, and the man drew up the jogging, stiff-jointed old farm-horse,
and raised himself upon his feet to look out at the prospect.

There might be seen in the distance the blue Kennebec sweeping out
toward the ocean through its picturesque rocky shores, docked with
cedars and other dusky evergreens, which were illuminated by the orange
and flame-colored trees of Indian summer. Here and there scarlet
creepers swung long trailing garlands over the faces of the dark rock,
and fringes of goldenrod above swayed with the brisk blowing wind that
was driving the blue waters seaward, in face of the up-coming ocean
tide, - a conflict which caused them to rise in great foam-crested
waves. There are two channels into this river from the open sea,
navigable for ships which are coming in to the city of Bath; one is
broad and shallow, the other narrow and deep, and these are divided by a
steep ledge of rocks.

Where the spectators of this scene were sitting, they could see in the
distance a ship borne with tremendous force by the rising tide into the
mouth of the river, and encountering a northwest wind which had
succeeded the gale, as northwest winds often do on this coast. The ship,
from what might be observed in the distance, seemed struggling to make
the wider channel, but was constantly driven off by the baffling force
of the wind.

"There she is, Naomi," said the old fisherman, eagerly, to his
companion, "coming right in." The young woman was one of the sort that
never start, and never exclaim, but with all deeper emotions grow still.
The color slowly mounted into her cheek, her lips parted, and her eyes
dilated with a wide, bright expression; her breathing came in thick
gasps, but she said nothing.

The old fisherman stood up in the wagon, his coarse, butternut-colored
coat-flaps fluttering and snapping in the breeze, while his interest
seemed to be so intense in the efforts of the ship that he made
involuntary and eager movements as if to direct her course. A moment
passed, and his keen, practiced eye discovered a change in her
movements, for he cried out involuntarily, -

"_Don't_ take the narrow channel to-day!" and a moment after, "O Lord! O
Lord! have mercy, - there they go! Look! look! look!"

And, in fact, the ship rose on a great wave clear out of the water, and
the next second seemed to leap with a desperate plunge into the narrow
passage; for a moment there was a shivering of the masts and the
rigging, and she went down and was gone.

"They're split to pieces!" cried the fisherman. "Oh, my poor girl - my
poor girl - they're gone! O Lord, have mercy!"

The woman lifted up no voice, but, as one who has been shot through the
heart falls with no cry, she fell back, - a mist rose up over her great
mournful eyes, - she had fainted.

The story of this wreck of a home-bound ship just entering the harbor is
yet told in many a family on this coast. A few hours after, the
unfortunate crew were washed ashore in all the joyous holiday rig in
which they had attired themselves that morning to go to their sisters,
wives, and mothers.

This is the first scene in our story.




CHAPTER II

MARA


Down near the end of Orr's Island, facing the open ocean, stands a brown
house of the kind that the natives call "lean-to," or "linter," - one of
those large, comfortable structures, barren in the ideal, but rich in
the practical, which the workingman of New England can always command.
The waters of the ocean came up within a rod of this house, and the
sound of its moaning waves was even now filling the clear autumn
starlight. Evidently something was going on within, for candles
fluttered and winked from window to window, like fireflies in a dark
meadow, and sounds as of quick footsteps, and the flutter of brushing
garments, might be heard.

Something unusual is certainly going on within the dwelling of Zephaniah
Pennel to-night.

Let us enter the dark front-door. We feel our way to the right, where a
solitary ray of light comes from the chink of a half-opened door. Here
is the front room of the house, set apart as its place of especial
social hilarity and sanctity, - the "best room," with its low studded
walls, white dimity window-curtains, rag carpet, and polished wood
chairs. It is now lit by the dim gleam of a solitary tallow candle,
which seems in the gloom to make only a feeble circle of light around
itself, leaving all the rest of the apartment in shadow.

In the centre of the room, stretched upon a table, and covered partially
by a sea-cloak, lies the body of a man of twenty-five, - lies, too,
evidently as one of whom it is written, "He shall return to his house
no more, neither shall his place know him any more." A splendid manhood
has suddenly been called to forsake that lifeless form, leaving it, like
a deserted palace, beautiful in its desolation. The hair, dripping with
the salt wave, curled in glossy abundance on the finely-formed head; the
flat, broad brow; the closed eye, with its long black lashes; the firm,
manly mouth; the strongly-moulded chin, - all, all were sealed with that
seal which is never to be broken till the great resurrection day.

He was lying in a full suit of broadcloth, with a white vest and smart
blue neck-tie, fastened with a pin, in which was some braided hair under
a crystal. All his clothing, as well as his hair, was saturated with
sea-water, which trickled from time to time, and struck with a leaden
and dropping sound into a sullen pool which lay under the table.

This was the body of James Lincoln, ship-master of the brig Flying Scud,
who that morning had dressed himself gayly in his state-room to go on
shore and meet his wife, - singing and jesting as he did so.

This is all that you have to learn in the room below; but as we stand
there, we hear a trampling of feet in the apartment above, - the quick
yet careful opening and shutting of doors, - and voices come and go about
the house, and whisper consultations on the stairs. Now comes the roll
of wheels, and the Doctor's gig drives up to the door; and, as he goes
creaking up with his heavy boots, we will follow and gain admission to
the dimly-lighted chamber.

Two gossips are sitting in earnest, whispering conversation over a small
bundle done up in an old flannel petticoat. To them the doctor is about
to address himself cheerily, but is repelled by sundry signs and sounds
which warn him not to speak. Moderating his heavy boots as well as he
is able to a pace of quiet, he advances for a moment, and the petticoat
is unfolded for him to glance at its contents; while a low, eager,
whispered conversation, attended with much head-shaking, warns him that
his first duty is with somebody behind the checked curtains of a bed in
the farther corner of the room. He steps on tiptoe, and draws the
curtain; and there, with closed eye, and cheek as white as wintry snow,
lies the same face over which passed the shadow of death when that
ill-fated ship went down.

This woman was wife to him who lies below, and within the hour has been
made mother to a frail little human existence, which the storm of a
great anguish has driven untimely on the shores of life, - a precious
pearl cast up from the past eternity upon the wet, wave-ribbed sand of
the present. Now, weary with her moanings, and beaten out with the
wrench of a double anguish, she lies with closed eyes in that passive
apathy which precedes deeper shadows and longer rest.

Over against her, on the other side of the bed, sits an aged woman in an
attitude of deep dejection, and the old man we saw with her in the
morning is standing with an anxious, awestruck face at the foot of the
bed.

The doctor feels the pulse of the woman, or rather lays an inquiring
finger where the slightest thread of vital current is scarcely
throbbing, and shakes his head mournfully. The touch of his hand rouses
her, - her large wild, melancholy eyes fix themselves on him with an
inquiring glance, then she shivers and moans, -

"Oh, Doctor, Doctor! - Jamie, Jamie!"

"Come, come!" said the doctor, "cheer up, my girl, you've got a fine
little daughter, - the Lord mingles mercies with his afflictions."

Her eyes closed, her head moved with a mournful but decided dissent.

A moment after she spoke in the sad old words of the Hebrew Scripture, -

"Call her not Naomi; call her Mara, for the Almighty hath dealt very
bitterly with me."

And as she spoke, there passed over her face the sharp frost of the last
winter; but even as it passed there broke out a smile, as if a flower
had been thrown down from Paradise, and she said, -

"Not my will, but thy will," and so was gone.

Aunt Roxy and Aunt Ruey were soon left alone in the chamber of death.

"She'll make a beautiful corpse," said Aunt Roxy, surveying the still,
white form contemplatively, with her head in an artistic attitude.

"She was a pretty girl," said Aunt Ruey; "dear me, what a Providence! I
'member the wedd'n down in that lower room, and what a handsome couple
they were."

"They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they
were not divided," said Aunt Roxy, sententiously.

"What was it she said, did ye hear?" said Aunt Ruey.

"She called the baby 'Mary.'"

"Ah! sure enough, her mother's name afore her. What a still,
softly-spoken thing she always was!"

"A pity the poor baby didn't go with her," said Aunt Roxy;
"seven-months' children are so hard to raise."

"'Tis a pity," said the other.

But babies will live, and all the more when everybody says that it is a
pity they should. Life goes on as inexorably in this world as death. It
was ordered by THE WILL above that out of these two graves should spring
one frail, trembling autumn flower, - the "Mara" whose poor little roots
first struck deep in the salt, bitter waters of our mortal life.




CHAPTER III

THE BAPTISM AND THE BURIAL


Now, I cannot think of anything more unlikely and uninteresting to make
a story of than that old brown "linter" house of Captain Zephaniah
Pennel, down on the south end of Orr's Island.

Zephaniah and Mary Pennel, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, are a pair of
worthy, God-fearing people, walking in all the commandments and
ordinances of the Lord blameless; but that is no great recommendation to
a world gaping for sensation and calling for something stimulating. This
worthy couple never read anything but the Bible, the "Missionary
Herald," and the "Christian Mirror," - never went anywhere except in the
round of daily business. He owned a fishing-smack, in which he labored
after the apostolic fashion; and she washed, and ironed, and scrubbed,
and brewed, and baked, in her contented round, week in and out. The only
recreation they ever enjoyed was the going once a week, in good weather,
to a prayer-meeting in a little old brown school-house, about a mile
from their dwelling; and making a weekly excursion every Sunday, in
their fishing craft, to the church opposite, on Harpswell Neck.

To be sure, Zephaniah had read many wide leaves of God's great book of
Nature, for, like most Maine sea-captains, he had been wherever ship can
go, - to all usual and unusual ports. His hard, shrewd, weather-beaten
visage had been seen looking over the railings of his brig in the port
of Genoa, swept round by its splendid crescent of palaces and its
snow-crested Apennines. It had looked out in the Lagoons of Venice at
that wavy floor which in evening seems a sea of glass mingled with fire,
and out of which rise temples, and palaces, and churches, and distant
silvery Alps, like so many fabrics of dreamland. He had been through the
Skagerrack and Cattegat, - into the Baltic, and away round to Archangel,
and there chewed a bit of chip, and considered and calculated what
bargains it was best to make. He had walked the streets of Calcutta in
his shirt-sleeves, with his best Sunday vest, backed with black glazed
cambric, which six months before came from the hands of Miss Roxy, and
was pronounced by her to be as good as any tailor could make; and in all
these places he was just Zephaniah Pennel, - a chip of old
Maine, - thrifty, careful, shrewd, honest, God-fearing, and carrying an
instinctive knowledge of men and things under a face of rustic
simplicity.

It was once, returning from one of his voyages, that he found his wife
with a black-eyed, curly-headed little creature, who called him papa,
and climbed on his knee, nestled under his coat, rifled his pockets, and
woke him every morning by pulling open his eyes with little fingers, and
jabbering unintelligible dialects in his ears.

"We will call this child Naomi, wife," he said, after consulting his old
Bible; "for that means pleasant, and I'm sure I never see anything beat
her for pleasantness. I never knew as children was so engagin'!"

It was to be remarked that Zephaniah after this made shorter and shorter
voyages, being somehow conscious of a string around his heart which
pulled him harder and harder, till one Sunday, when the little Naomi was
five years old, he said to his wife, -

"I hope I ain't a-pervertin' Scriptur' nor nuthin', but I can't help
thinkin' of one passage, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a merchantman
seeking goodly pearls, and when he hath found one pearl of great price,
for joy thereof he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that
pearl.' Well, Mary, I've been and sold my brig last week," he said,
folding his daughter's little quiet head under his coat, "'cause it
seems to me the Lord's given us this pearl of great price, and it's
enough for us. I don't want to be rambling round the world after riches.
We'll have a little farm down on Orr's Island, and I'll have a little
fishing-smack, and we'll live and be happy together."

And so Mary, who in those days was a pretty young married woman, felt
herself rich and happy, - no duchess richer or happier. The two
contentedly delved and toiled, and the little Naomi was their princess.
The wise men of the East at the feet of an infant, offering gifts, gold,
frankincense, and myrrh, is just a parable of what goes on in every
house where there is a young child. All the hard and the harsh, and the
common and the disagreeable, is for the parents, - all the bright and
beautiful for their child.

When the fishing-smack went to Portland to sell mackerel, there came
home in Zephaniah's fishy coat pocket strings of coral beads, tiny
gaiter boots, brilliant silks and ribbons for the little fairy
princess, - his Pearl of the Island; and sometimes, when a stray party
from the neighboring town of Brunswick came down to explore the romantic
scenery of the solitary island, they would be startled by the apparition
of this still, graceful, dark-eyed child exquisitely dressed in the best
and brightest that the shops of a neighboring city could
afford, - sitting like some tropical bird on a lonely rock, where the sea
came dashing up into the edges of arbor vitæ, or tripping along the wet
sands for shells and seaweed.

Many children would have been spoiled by such unlimited indulgence; but
there are natures sent down into this harsh world so timorous, and
sensitive, and helpless in themselves, that the utmost stretch of
indulgence and kindness is needed for their development, - like plants
which the warmest shelf of the green-house and the most careful watch of
the gardener alone can bring into flower. The pale child, with her
large, lustrous, dark eyes, and sensitive organization, was nursed and
brooded into a beautiful womanhood, and then found a protector in a
high-spirited, manly young ship-master, and she became his wife.

And now we see in the best room - the walls lined with serious
faces - men, women, and children, that have come to pay the last tribute
of sympathy to the living and the dead. The house looked so utterly
alone and solitary in that wild, sea-girt island, that one would have as
soon expected the sea-waves to rise and walk in, as so many neighbors;
but they had come from neighboring points, crossing the glassy sea in
their little crafts, whose white sails looked like millers' wings, or



Online LibraryHarriet Beecher StoweThe pearl of Orr's island, a story of the coast of Maine → online text (page 1 of 29)