Sarah Orne Jewett.

Deephaven online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibrarySarah Orne JewettDeephaven → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





(Cbc fltoewi&c ptres Cambridge








THIS book is not wholly new, several of the
chapters having already been published in the
" Atlantic Monthly."

It has so often been asked if Deephaven
may not be found on the map of New England
under another name, that, to prevent any mis-
understanding, I wish to say, while there is
a likeness to be traced, few of the sketches are
drawn from that town itself, and the characters
will in almost every case be looked for there
in vain.

I dedicate this story of out-of-door life and
country people first to my father and mother,
my two best friends, and also to all my other
friends, whose names I say to myself lovingly,
though I do not write them here.

S. O. J.











THE CIRCUS AT DENBY . ' . . . . 121








I HAD been spending the winter in Bos-
ton, and Kate Lancaster and I had been
together a great deal, for we are the best of
friends. It happened that the morning when
this story begins I had waked up feeling
sorry, and as if something dreadful were go-
ing to happen. There did not seem to be
any good reason for it, so I undertook to
discourage myself more by thinking that it
would soon be time to leave town, and how
much I should miss being with Kate and my
other friends. My mind was still disquieted
when I went down to breakfast ; but beside
my plate I found, with a hoped-for letter
from my father, a note from Kate. To this
day I have never known any explanation of
that depression of my spirits, and I hope
that the good luck which followed will help
some reader to lose fear, and to smile at
such shadows if any chance to come.

Kate had evidently written to me in an


excited state of mind, for her note was not
so trig-looking as usual; but this is what
she said:

DEAR HELEN, I have a plan I think
it a most delightful plan in which you and
I are chief characters. Promise that you will
say yes ; if you do not you will have to re-
member all your life that you broke a girl's
heart. Come round early, and lunch with
me and dine with me. I *m to be all alone,
and it 's a long story and will need a great
deal of talking over. K.

I showed this note to my aunt, and soon
went round, very much interested. My latch-
key opened the Lancasters' door, and I hur-
ried to the parlor, where I heard my friend
practising with great diligence. I went up
to her, and she turned her head and kissed
me solemnly. You need not smile; we are
not sentimental girls, and are both much
averse to indiscriminate kissing, though I
have not the adroit habit of shying in which
Kate is proficient. It would sometimes be
impolite in any one else, but she shies so

"Won't you sit down, dear?" she said,


with great ceremony, and went on with her
playing, which was abominable that morn-
ing; her fingers stepped on each other, and,
whatever the tune might have been in real-
ity, it certainly had a most remarkable inco-
herence as I heard it then. I took up the
new Littell and made believe read it, and
finally threw it at Kate; you would have
thought we were two children.

" Have you heard that my grand-aunt,
Miss Katharine Brandon of Deephaveu, is
dead ? " I knew that she had died in No-
vember, at least six months before.

" Don't be nonsensical, Kate ! " said I.
" What is it you are going to tell me ? "

" My grand-aunt died very old, and was
the last of her generation. She had a sister
and three brothers, one of whom had the
honor of being my grandfather. Mamma is
sole heir to the family estates in Deephaven,
wharf -property and all, and it is a great in-
convenience to her. The house is a charm-
ing old house, and some of my ancestors who
followed the sea brought home the greater
part of its furnishings. Miss Katharine was
a person who ignored all frivolities, and her
house was as sedate as herself. I have been
there but little, for when I was a child my


aunt found no pleasure in the society of
noisy children who upset her treasures, and
when I was older she did not care to see
strangers, and after I left school she grew
more and more feeble ; I had not been there
for two years when she died. Mamma went
down very often. The town is -a quaint old
place which has seen better days. There are
high rocks at the shore, and there is a beach,
and there are woods inland, and hills, and
there is the sea. It might be dull in Deep-
haven for two young ladies who were fond
of gay society and dependent upon excite-
ment, I suppose; but for two little girls who
were fond of each other and could play in
the boats, and dig and build houses in the
sea-sand, and gather shells, and carry their
dolls wherever they went, what could be
pleasanter ? "

" Nothing," said I promptly.

Kate had told this a little at a time, with
a few appropriate bars of music between,
which suddenly reminded me of the story of
a Chinese procession which I had read in
one of Marryat's novels when I was a child :
" A thousand white elephants richly capari-
soned, ti-tum tilly-lily," and so on, for a
page or two. She seemed to have finished


her story for that time, and while it was
dawning upon me what she meant, she sang
a bit from one of Jean Ingelow's verses :

" Will ye step aboard, my dearest,
For the high seas lie before us ? "

and then came over to sit beside me and tell
the whole story in a more sensible fashion.

" You know that my father has been mean-
ing to go to England in the autumn ? Yes-
terday he told us that he is to leave in a
month and will be away all summer, and
mamma is going with him. Jack and Willy
are to join a party of their classmates who
are to spend nearly the whole of the long
vacation at Lake Superior. I don't care to
go abroad again now, and I did not like any
plan that was proposed to me. Aunt Anna
was here all the afternoon, and she is going
to take the house at Newport, which is very
pleasant and unexpected, for she hates house-
keeping. Mamma thought of course that I
would go with her, but I did not wish to do
that, and it would only result in my keep-
ing house for her visitors, whom I know very
little ; and she will be much more free and
independent by herself. Beside, she can have
my room if I am not there. I have promised


to make her a long visit in Baltimore next
winter instead. I told mamma that I should
like to stay here and go away when I choose.
There are ever so many visits which I have
promised ; I could stay with you and your
Aunt Mary at Lenox if she goes there, for
a while, and I have always wished to spend
a summer in town ; but mamma did not en-
courage that at all. In the evening papa
gave her a letter which had come from Mr.
Dockum, the man who takes care of Aunt
Katharine's place, and the most charming
idea came into my head, and I said I meant
to spend my summer in Deephaven.

" At first they laughed at me, and then
they said I might go if I chose, and at last
they thought nothing could be pleasanter,
and mamma wishes she were going herself.
I asked if she did not think you would be
the best person to keep me company, and
she does, and papa announced that he was
just going to suggest my asking you. I am
to take Ann and Maggie, who will be over-
joyed, for they came from that part of the
country, and the other servants are to go
with Aunt Anna, and old Nora will come to
take care of this house, as she always does.
Perhaps you and I will come up to town


once in a while for a few days. We shall
have such jolly housekeeping. Mamma and
I sat up very late last night, and everything
is planned. Mr. Dockum's house is very near
Aunt Katharine's, so we shall not be lonely ;
though I know you 're no more afraid of that
than I. O Helen, won't you go ? "

Do you think it took me long to decide ?

Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster sailed the 10th
of June, and my Aunt Mary went to spend
her summer among the Berkshire Hills, so
I was at the Lancasters' ready to welcome
Kate when she came home, after having said
good-by to her father and mother. We meant
to go to Deephaven in a week, but were
obliged to stay in town longer. Boston was
nearly deserted of our friends at the last,
and we used to take quiet walks in the cool
of the evening after dinner, up and down the
street, or sit on the front steps in company
with the servants left in charge of the other
houses, who also sometimes walked up and
down and looked at us wonderingly. We
had much shopping to do in the daytime,
for there was a probability of our spending
many days indoors, and as we were not to
be near any large town, and did not mean to
come to Boston for weeks at least, there was


a great deal to be remembered and arranged.
We enjoyed making our plans, and deciding
what we should want, and going to the shops
together. I think we felt most important the
day we conferred with Ann and made out a
list of the provisions which must be ordered.
This was being housekeepers in earnest. Mr.
Dockum happened to come to town, and we
sent Ann and Maggie, with most of our
boxes, to Deephaven in his company a day
or two before we were ready to go ourselves,
and when we reached there the house was
opened and in order for us.

On our journey to Deephaven we left the
railway twelve miles from that place, and
took passage in a stage-coach. There was
only one passenger beside ourselves. She was
a very large, thin, weather-beaten woman,
and looked so tired and lonesome and good-
natured, that I could not help saying it was
very dusty ; and she was apparently delighted
to answer that she should think everybody
was sweeping, and she always felt, after be-
ing in the cars a while, as if she had been
taken all to pieces and left in the different
places. And this was the beginning of our
friendship with Mrs. Kew.

After this conversation we looked indus-


triously out of the window into the pastures
and pine-woods. I had given up my seat to
her, for I do not mind riding backward in
the least, and you would have thought I had
done her the greatest favor of her life. I
think she was the most grateful of women,
and I was often reminded of a remark one
of my friends once made about some one :
" If you give Bessie a half -sheet of letter-
paper, she behaves to you as if it were the
most exquisite of presents ! " Kate and I had
some fruit left in our lunch-basket, and di-
vided it with Mrs. Kew, but after the first
mouthful we looked at each other in dismay.
" Lemons with oranges' clothes on, are n't
they ? " said she, as Kate threw hers out of
the window, and mine went after it for com-
pany ; and after this we began to be very
friendly indeed. We both liked the odd wo-
man, there was something so straightforward
and kindly about her.

" Are you going to Deephaven, dear ? " she
asked me, and then : " I wonder if you are
going to stay long? All summer? Well,
that 's clever ! I do hope you will come out
to the Light to see me ; young folks 'most
always like my place. Most likely your
friends will fetch you."


"Do you know the Brandon house?"
asked Kate.

"Well as I do the meeting-house. There!
I wonder I did n't know from the beginning,
but I have been a-trying all the way to settle
it who you could be. I've been up country
some weeks, stopping with my mother, and
she seemed so set to have me stay till straw-
berry-time, and would hardly let me come
now. You see she 's getting to be old ; why,
every time I 've come away for fifteen years
she 's said it was the last time I 'd ever see
her, but she 's a dreadful smart woman of
her age. ' He ' wrote me some o' Mrs. Lan-
caster's folks were going to take the Brandon
house this summer; and so you are the ones?
It 's a sightly old place ; I used to go and
see Miss Katharine. She must have left a
power of china-ware. She set a great deal by
the house, and she kept everything just as it
used to be in her mother's day."

" Then you live in Deephaven too ? " asked

"I've been here the better part of my
life. I was raised up among the hills in Ver-
mont, and I shall always be a real up-country
woman if I live here a hundred years. The
sea does n't come natural to me, it kind of


worries me, though you won't find a happier
woman than I be, 'long shore. When I was
first married ' he ' had a schooner and went
to the banks, and once he was off on a whal-
ing voyage, and I hope I may never come to
so long a three years as those were again,
though I was up to mother's. Before I was
married he had been 'most everywhere.
When he came home that time from whal-
ing, he found I 'd taken it so to heart that
he said he 'd never go off again, and then he
got the chance to keep Deephaven Light,
and we 've lived there seventeen years come
January. There is n't great pay, but then
nobody tries to get it away from us, and
we 've got so 's to be contented, if it is lone-
some in winter."

" Do you really live in the lighthouse? I
remember how I used to beg to be taken out
there when I was a child, and how I used to
watch for the light at night," said Kate

So began a friendship which we both still
treasure, for knowing Mrs. Kew was one of
the pleasantest things which happened to us
in that delightful summer, and she used to do
so much for our pleasure, and was so good
to us. When we went out to the lighthouse


for the last time to say good-by, we were
very sorry girls indeed. We had no idea until
then how much she cared for us, and her
affection touched us very much. She told us
that she loved us as if we belonged to her,
and begged us not to forget her, as if we
ever could ! and to remember that there
was always a home and a warm heart for us
if she were alive. Kate and I have often
agreed that few of our acquaintances are
half so entertaining. Her comparisons were
most striking and amusing, and her com-
ments upon the books she read for she
was a great reader were very shrewd and
clever, and always to the point. She was
never out of temper, even when the barrels
of oil were being rolled across her kitchen
floor. And she was such a wise woman !
This stage-ride, which we expected to find
tiresome, we enjoyed very much, and we
were glad to think, when the coach stopped,
and " he " came to meet her with great sat-
isfaction, that we had one friend in Deep-
haven at all events.

I liked the house from my very first sight
of it. It stood behind a row of poplars
which were as green and flourishing as the
poplars which stand in stately processions in


the fields around Quebec. It was an imposing
great white house, and the lilacs were tall,
and there were crowds of rose-bushes not yet
out of bloom ; and there were box borders,
and there were great elms at the side of the
house and down the road. The hall door
stood wide open, and my hostess turned to
me as we went in, with one of her sweet,
sudden smiles. " Won't we have a good time,
Nelly ? " said she. And I thought we should.
So our summer's housekeeping began in
most pleasant fashion. It was just at sunset,
and Ann's and Maggie's presence made the
house seem familiar at once. Maggie had
been unpacking for us, and there was a de-
licious supper ready for the hungry girls.
Later in the evening we went down to the
shore, which was not very far away ; the fresh
sea-air was welcome after the dusty day, and
it seemed so quiet and pleasant in Deephaven.


I DO not know that the Brandon house is
really very remarkable, but I never have been
in one that interested me in the same way.
Kate used to recount to select audiences at
school some of her experiences with her Aunt
Katharine, and it was popularly believed that
she once carried down some indestructible
picture-books when they were first in fashion,
and the old lady basted them for her to hem
round the edges at the rate of two a day. It
may have been fabulous. It was impossible to
imagine any children in the old place ; every-
thing was for grown people ; even the stair-
railing was too high to slide down on. The
chairs looked as if they had been put, at the
furnishing of the house, in their places, and
there they meant to remain. The carpets
were particularly interesting, and I remem-
ber Kate's pointing out to me one day a great
square figure in one, and telling me she used to
keep house there with her dolls for lack of a
better play-house, and if one of them chanced


to fall outside the boundary stripe, it was im-
mediately put to bed with a cold. It is a house
with great possibilities; it might easily be
made charming. There are four very large
rooms on the lower floor, and six above, a
wide hall in each story, and a fascinating gar-
ret over the whole, where were many myste-
rious old chests and boxes, in one of which we
found Kate's grandmother's love-letters ; and
you may be sure the vista of rummages which
Mr. Lancaster had laughed about was ex-
plored to its very end. The rooms all have
elaborate cornices, and the lower hall is very
fine, with an archway dividing it, and panel-
lings of all sorts, and a great door at each
end, through which the lilacs in front and the
old pensioner plum trees in the garden are
seen exchanging bows and gestures. Coming
from the Lancasters' high city house, it did
not seem as if we had to go upstairs at all
there, for every step of the stairway is so
broad and low, and you come halfway to a
square landing with an old straight-backed
chair in each farther corner ; and between
them a large, round-topped window, with a
cushioned seat, looking out on the garden
and the village, the hills far inland, and the
sunset beyond all. Then you turn and go up


a few more steps to the upper hall, where we
used to stay a great deal. There were more
old chairs and a pair of remarkable sofas,
on which we used to deposit the treasures
collected in our wanderings. The wide win-
dow which looks out on the lilacs and the sea
was a favorite seat of ours. Facing each other
on either side of it are two old secretaries,
and one of them we ascertained to be the
hiding-place of secret drawers, in which may
be found valuable records deposited by our-
selves one rainy day when we first explored
it. We wrote, between us, a tragic " journal"
on some yellow old letter-paper we found
in the desk. We put it in the most hidden
drawer by itself, and flatter ourselves that it
will be regarded with great interest some time
or other. Of one of the front rooms, " the best
chamber," we stood rather in dread. It is
very remarkable that there seem to be no
ghost-stories connected with any part of the
house, particularly this. We are neither of
us nervous ; but there is certainly something
dismal about the room. The huge curtained
bed and immense easy-chairs, windows, and
everything were draped in some old-fashioned
kind of white cloth which always seemed to
be waving and moving about of itself. The


carpet was most singularly colored with dark
reds and indescribable grays and browns, and
the pattern, after a whole summer's study,
could never be followed with one's eye. The
paper was captured in a French prize some-
where some time in the last century, and part
of the figure was shaggy, and therein little
spiders found habitation, and went visiting
their acquaintances across the shiny places.
The color was an unearthly pink and a
forbidding maroon, with dim white spots,
which gave it the appearance of having
moulded. It made you low-spirited to look
long in the mirror ; and the great lounge one
could not have cheerful associations with,
after hearing that Miss Brandon herself did
not like it, having seen so many of her rela-
tives lie there dead. There were fantastic
china ornaments from Bible subjects on the
mantel, and the only picture was one of the
Maid of Orleans tied with an unnecessarily
strong rope to a very stout stake. The best
parlor we also rarely used, because all the
portraits which hung there had for some un-
accountable reason taken a violent dislike to
us, and followed us suspiciously with their
eyes. The furniture was stately and very un-
comfortable, and there was something about


the room which suggested an invisible fu-

There is not very much to say about the
dining-room. It was not specially interesting,
though the sea was in sight from one of the
windows. There were some old Dutch pictures
on the wall, so dark that one could scarcely
make out what they were meant to repre-
sent, and one or two engravings. There was a
huge sideboard, for which Kate had brought
down from Boston Miss Brandon's own sil-
ver which had stood there for so many years,
and looked so much more at home and in
place than any other possibly could have
looked, and Kate also found in the closet
the three great decanters with silver labels
chained round their necks, which had always
been the companions of the tea-service in
her aunt's lifetime. From the little closets
in the sideboard there came a most signifi-
cant odor of cake and wine whenever one
opened the doors. We used Miss Brandon's
beautiful old blue India china which she had
given to Kate, and which had been carefully
packed all winter. Kate sat at the head and
I at the foot of the round table, and I must
confess that we were apt to have either a
feast or a famine, for at first we often for-


got to provide our dinners. If this were the
case Maggie was sure to serve us with most
derisive elegance, and make us wait for as
much ceremony as she thought necessary
for one of Mrs. Lancaster's dinner-parties.

The west parlor was our favorite room
downstairs. It had a great fireplace framed
in blue and white Dutch tiles which ingen-
iously and instructively represented the ca-
reers of the good and the bad man; the
starting-place of each being a very singular
cradle in the centre at the top. The last two
of the series are very high art : a great cof-
fin stands in the foreground of each, and the
virtuous man is being led off by two dis-
agreeable-looking angels, while the wicked
one is hastening from an indescribable but
unpleasant assemblage of claws and horns
and eyes which is rapidly advancing from
the distance, open-mouthed, and bringing a
chain with it.

There was a large cabinet holding all the
small curiosities and knick-knacks there
seemed to be no other place for, odd
china figures and cups and vases, unac-
countable Chinese carvings and exquisite
corals and sea-shells, minerals and Swiss
wood-work, and articles of vertu from the


South Seas. Underneath were stored boxes
of letters and old magazines; for this was
one of the houses where nothing seems to
have been thrown away. In one parting we
found a parcel of old manuscript sermons,
the existence of which was a mystery, until
Kate remembered there had been a gifted
son of the house who entered the ministry
and soon died. The windows had each a
pane of stained glass, and on the wide sills
we used to put our immense bouquets of field-
flowers. There was one place which I liked
and sat in more than any other. The chim-
ney filled nearly the whole side of the room,
all but this little corner, where there was
just room for a very comfortable high-backed
cushioned chair, and a narrow window where
I always had a bunch of fresh green ferns
in a tall champagne-glass. I used to write
there often, and always sat there when Kate
sang and played. She sent for a tuner, and
used to successfully coax the long-imprisoned
music from the antiquated piano, and sing
for her visitors by the hour. She almost
always sang her oldest songs, for they
seemed most in keeping with everything
about us. I used to fancy that the portraits
liked our being there. There was one young


girl who seemed solitary and forlorn among

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibrarySarah Orne JewettDeephaven → online text (page 1 of 13)