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Cinders From The Ashes

The personal revelations contained in my report of certain breakfast-table conversations were so charitably listened to and so good-naturedly interpreted, that I may be in danger of becoming over-communicative. Still, I should never have ventured to tell the trivial experiences here thrown together, were it not that my brief story is illuminated here and there by a glimpse of some shining figure that trod the same path with me for a time, or crossed it, leaving a momentary or lasting brightness in its track. I remember that, in furnishing a chamber some years ago, I was struck with its dull aspect as I looked round on the black-walnut chairs and bedstead and bureau. "Make me a large and handsomely wrought gilded handle to the key of that dark chest of drawers," I said to the furnisher. It was done, and that one luminous point redeemed the sombre apartment as the evening star glorifies the dusky firmament. So, my loving reader,--and to none other can such table-talk as this be addressed, --I hope there will be lustre enough in one or other of the names with which I shall gild my page to redeem the dulness of all that is merely personal in my recollections.

After leaving the school of Dame Prentiss, best remembered by infantine loves, those pretty preludes of more serious passions; by the great forfeit-basket, filled with its miscellaneous waifs and deodauds, and by the long willow stick by the aid of which the good old body, now stricken in years and unwieldy in person could stimulate the sluggish faculties or check the mischievous sallies of the child most distant from his ample chair,--a school where I think my most noted schoolmate was the present Bishop of Delaware, became the pupil of Master William Biglow. This generation is not familiar with his title to renown, although he fills three columns and a half in Mr. Duyckinck's "Cyclopaedia of American Literature." He was a humorist hardly robust enough for more than a brief local immortality. I am afraid we were an undistinguished set, for I do not remember anybody near a bishop in dignity graduating from our benches.

At about ten years of age I began going to what we always called the "Port School," because it was kept at Cambridgeport, a mile from the College. This suburb was at that time thinly inhabited, and, being much of it marshy and imperfectly reclaimed, had a dreary look as compared with the thriving College settlement. The tenants of the many beautiful mansions that have sprung up along Main Street, Harvard Street, and Broadway can hardly recall the time when, except the "Dana House" and the "Opposition House" and the "Clark House," these roads were almost all the way bordered by pastures until we reached the "stores" of Main Street, or were abreast of that forlorn "First Row" of Harvard Street. We called the boys of that locality "Port-chucks." They called us "Cambridge-chucks," but we got along very well together in the main.

Among my schoolmates at the Port School was a young girl of singular loveliness. I once before referred to her as "the golden blonde," but did not trust myself to describe her charms. The day of her appearance in the school was almost as much a revelation to us boys as the appearance of Miranda was to Caliban. Her abounding natural curls were so full of sunshine, her skin was so delicately white, her smile and her voice were so all-subduing, that half our heads were turned. Her fascinations were everywhere confessed a few years afterwards; and when I last met her, though she said she was a grandmother, I questioned her statement, for her winning looks and ways would still have made her admired in any company.

Not far from the golden blonde were two small boys, one of them very small, perhaps the youngest boy in school, both ruddy, sturdy, quiet, reserved, sticking loyally by each other, the oldest, however, beginning to enter into social relations with us of somewhat maturer years. One of these two boys was destined to be widely known, first in literature, as author of one of the most popular books of its time and which is freighted for a long voyage; then as an eminent lawyer; a man who, if his countrymen are wise, will yet be prominent in the national councils. Richard Henry Dana, Junior, is the name he bore and bears; he found it famous, and will bequeath it a fresh renown.

Sitting on the girls' benches, conspicuous among the school-girls of unlettered origin by that look which rarely fails to betray hereditary and congenital culture, was a young person very nearly of my own age. She came with the reputation of being "smart," as we should have called it, clever as we say nowadays. This was Margaret Fuller, the only one among us who, like "Jean Paul," like "The Duke," like "Bettina," has slipped the cable of the more distinctive name to which she was anchored, and floats on the waves of speech as "Margaret." Her air to her schoolmates was marked by a certain stateliness and distance, as if she had other thoughts than theirs and was not of them. She was a great student and a great reader of what she used to call "naw-vels." I remember her so well as she appeared at school and later, that I regret that she had not been faithfully given to canvas or marble in the day of her best looks. None know her aspect who have not seen her living. Margaret, as I remember her at school and afterwards, was tall, fair complexioned, with a watery, aqua-marine lustre in her light eyes, which she used to make small, as one does who looks at the sunshine. A remarkable point about her was that long, flexile neck, arching and undulating in strange sinuous movements, which one who loved her would compare to those of a swan, and one who loved her not to those of the ophidian who tempted our common mother. Her talk was affluent, magisterial, de haut en bas, some would say euphuistic, but surpassing the talk of women in breadth and audacity. Her face kindled and reddened and dilated in every feature as she spoke, and, as I once saw her in a fine storm of indignation at the supposed ill-treatment of a relative, showed itself capable of something resembling what Milton calls the viraginian aspect.

Little incidents bear telling when they recall anything of such a celebrity as Margaret. I remember being greatly awed once, in our school-days, with the maturity of one of her expressions. Some themes were brought home from the school for examination by my father, among them one of hers. I took it up with a certain emulous interest (for I fancied at that day that I too had drawn a prize, say a five-dollar one, at least, in the great intellectual life-lottery) and read the first words.

"It is a trite remark," she began.

I stopped. Alas! I did not know what trite meant. How could I ever judge Margaret fairly after such a crushing discovery of her superiority? I doubt if I ever did; yet oh, how pleasant it would have been, at about the age, say, of threescore and ten, to rake over these ashes for cinders with her,--she in a snowy cap, and I in a decent peruke!

After being five years at the Port School, the time drew near when I was to enter college. It seemed advisable to give me a year of higher training, and for that end some public school was thought to offer advantages. Phillips Academy at Andover was well known to us. We had been up there, my father and myself, at anniversaries. Some Boston boys of well-known and distinguished parentage had been scholars there very lately, Master Edmund Quincy, Master Samuel Hurd Walley, Master Nathaniel Parker Willis,--all promising youth, who fulfilled their promise.

I do not believe there was any thought of getting a little respite of quiet by my temporary absence, but I have wondered that there was not. Exceptional boys of fourteen or fifteen make home a heaven, it is true; but I have suspected, late in life, that I was not one of the exceptional kind. I had tendencies in the direction of flageolets and octave flutes. I had a pistol and a gun, and popped at everything that stirred, pretty nearly, except the house-cat. Worse than this, I would buy a cigar and smoke it by instalments, putting it meantime in the barrel of my pistol, by a stroke of ingenuity which it gives me a grim pleasure to recall; for no maternal or other female eyes would explore the cavity of that dread implement in search of contraband commodities.

It was settled, then, that I should go to Phillips Academy, and preparations were made that I might join the school at the beginning of the autumn.

In due time I took my departure in the old carriage, a little modernized from the pattern of my Lady Bountiful's, and we jogged soberly along,--kind parents and slightly nostalgic boy,--towards the seat of learning, some twenty miles away. Up the old West Cambridge road, now North Avenue; past Davenport's tavern, with its sheltering tree and swinging sign; past the old powder-house, looking like a colossal conical ball set on end; past the old Tidd House, one of the finest of the ante-Revolutionary mansions; past Miss Swan's great square boarding-school, where the music of girlish laughter was ringing through the windy corridors; so on to Stoneham, town of the bright lake, then darkened with the recent memory of the barbarous murder done by its lonely shore; through pleasant Reading, with its oddly named village centres, "Trapelo," "Read'nwoodeend," as rustic speech had it, and the rest; through Wilmington, then renowned for its hops; so at last into the hallowed borders of the academic town.

It was a shallow, two-story white house before which we stopped, just at the entrance of the central village, the residence of a very worthy professor in the theological seminary,--learned, amiable, exemplary, but thought by certain experts to be a little questionable in the matter of homoousianism, or some such doctrine. There was a great rock that showed its round back in the narrow front yard. It looked cold and hard; but it hinted firmness and indifference to the sentiments fast struggling to get uppermost in my youthful bosom; for I was not too old for home-sickness,--who is: The carriage and my fond companions had to leave me at last. I saw it go down the declivity that sloped southward, then climb the next ascent, then sink gradually until the window in the back of it disappeared like an eye that shuts, and leaves the world dark to some widowed heart.

Sea-sickness and home-sickness are hard to deal with by any remedy but time. Mine was not a bad case, but it excited sympathy. There was an ancient, faded old lady in the house, very kindly, but very deaf, rustling about in dark autumnal foliage of silk or other murmurous fabric, somewhat given to snuff, but a very worthy gentlewoman of the poor-relation variety. She comforted me, I well remember, but not with apples, and stayed me, but not with flagons. She went in her benevolence, and, taking a blue and white soda-powder, mingled the same in water, and encouraged me to drink the result. It might be a specific for seasickness, but it was not for home-sickness. The fiz was a mockery, and the saline refrigerant struck a colder chill to my despondent heart. I did not disgrace myself, however, and a few days cured me, as a week on the water often cures seasickness.

There was a sober-faced boy of minute dimensions in the house, who began to make some advances to me, and who, in spite of all the conditions surrounding him, turned out, on better acquaintance, to be one of the most amusing, free-spoken, mocking little imps I ever met in my life. My room-mate came later. He was the son of a clergyman in a neighboring town,--in fact I may remark that I knew a good many clergymen's sons at Andover. He and I went in harness together as well as most boys do, I suspect; and I have no grudge against him, except that once, when I was slightly indisposed, he administered to me,--with the best intentions, no doubt,--a dose of Indian pills, which effectually knocked me out of time, as Mr. Morrissey would say,--not quite into eternity, but so near it that I perfectly remember one of the good ladies told me (after I had come to my senses a little, and was just ready for a sip of cordial and a word of encouragement), with that delightful plainness of speech which so brings realities home to the imagination, that "I never should look any whiter when I was laid out as a corpse." After my room-mate and I had been separated twenty-five years, fate made us fellow-townsmen and acquaintances once more in Berkshire, and now again we are close literary neighbors; for I have just read a very pleasant article, signed by him, in the last number of the "Galaxy." Does it not sometimes seem as if we were all marching round and round in a circle, like the supernumeraries who constitute the "army" of a theatre, and that each of us meets and is met by the same and only the same people, or their doubles, twice, thrice, or a little oftener, before the curtain drops and the "army" puts off its borrowed clothes?

The old Academy building had a dreary look, with its flat face, bare and uninteresting as our own "University Building" at Cambridge, since the piazza which relieved its monotony was taken away, and, to balance the ugliness thus produced, the hideous projection was added to "Harvard Hall." Two masters sat at the end of the great room,--the principal and his assistant. Two others presided in separate rooms, one of them the late Rev. Samuel Horatio Stearns, an excellent and lovable man, who looked kindly on me, and for whom I always cherished a sincere regard, a clergyman's son, too, which privilege I did not always find the warrant of signal virtues; but no matter about that here, and I have promised myself to be amiable.

On the side of the long room was a large clock-dial, bearing these words:

YOUTH IS THE SEED-TIME OF LIFE.

I had indulged in a prejudice, up to that hour, that youth was the budding time of life, and this clock-dial, perpetually twitting me with its seedy moral, always had a forbidding look to my vernal apprehension.

I was put into a seat with an older and much bigger boy, or youth, with a fuliginous complexion, a dilating and whitening nostril, and a singularly malignant scowl. Many years afterwards he committed an act of murderous violence, and ended by going to finish his days in a madhouse. His delight was to kick my shins with all his might, under the desk, not at all as an act of hostility, but as a gratifying and harmless pastime. Finding this, so far as I was concerned, equally devoid of pleasure and profit, I managed to get a seat by another boy, the son of a very distinguished divine. He was bright enough, and more select in his choice of recreations, at least during school hours, than my late homicidal neighbor. But the principal called me up presently, and cautioned me against him as a dangerous companion. Could it be so? If the son of that boy's father could not be trusted, what boy in Christendom could? It seemed like the story of the youth doomed to be slain by a lion before reaching a certain age, and whose fate found him out in the heart of the tower where his father had shut him up for safety. Here was I, in the very dove's nest of Puritan faith, and out of one of its eggs a serpent had been hatched and was trying to nestle in my bosom! I parted from him, however, none the worse for his companionship so far as I can remember.

Of the boys who were at school with me at Andover one has acquired great distinction among the scholars of the land. One day I observed a new boy in a seat not very far from my own. He was a little fellow, as I recollect him, with black hair and very bright black eyes, when at length I got a chance to look at them. Of all the new-comers during my whole year he was the only one whom the first glance fixed in my memory, but there he is now, at this moment, just as he caught my eye on the morning of his entrance. His head was between his hands (I wonder if he does not sometimes study in that same posture nowadays!) and his eyes were fastened to his book as if he had been reading a will that made him heir to a million. I feel sure that Professor Horatio Balch Hackett will not find fault with me for writing his name under this inoffensive portrait. Thousands of faces and forms that I have known more or less familiarly have faded from my remembrance, but this presentment of the youthful student, sitting there entranced over the page of his text-book,--the child-father of the distinguished scholar that was to be,--is not a picture framed and hung up in my mind's gallery, but a fresco on its walls, there to remain so long as they hold together.

My especial intimate was a fine, rosy-faced boy, not quite so free of speech as myself, perhaps, but with qualities that promised a noble manhood, and ripened into it in due season. His name was Phinehas Barnes, and, if he is inquired after in Portland or anywhere in the State of Maine, something will be heard to his advantage from any honest and intelligent citizen of that Commonwealth who answers the question. This was one of two or three friendships that lasted. There were other friends and classmates, one of them a natural humorist of the liveliest sort, who would have been quarantined in any Puritan port, his laugh was so potently contagious.

Of the noted men of Andover the one whom I remember best was Professor Moses Stuart. His house was nearly opposite the one in which I resided and I often met him and listened to him in the chapel of the Seminary. I have seen few more striking figures in my life than his, as I remember it. Tall, lean, with strong, bold features, a keen, scholarly, accipitrine nose, thin, expressive lips, great solemnity and impressiveness of voice and manner, he was my early model of a classic orator. His air was Roman, his neck long and bare like Cicero's, and his toga,--that is his broadcloth cloak,--was carried on his arm, whatever might have been the weather, with such a statue-like rigid grace that he might have been turned into marble as he stood, and looked noble by the side of the antiques of the Vatican.

Dr. Porter was an invalid, with the prophetic handkerchief bundling his throat, and his face "festooned"--as I heard Hillard say once, speaking of one of our College professors--in folds and wrinkles. Ill health gives a certain common character to all faces, as Nature has a fixed course which she follows in dismantling a human countenance: the noblest and the fairest is but a death's-head decently covered over for the transient ceremony of life, and the drapery often falls half off before the procession has passed.

Dr. Woods looked his creed more decidedly, perhaps, than any of the Professors. He had the firm fibre of a theological athlete, and lived to be old without ever mellowing, I think, into a kind of half-heterodoxy, as old ministers of stern creed are said to do now and then,--just as old doctors grow to be sparing of the more exasperating drugs in their later days. He had manipulated the mysteries of the Infinite so long and so exhaustively, that he would have seemed more at home among the mediaeval schoolmen than amidst the working clergy of our own time.

All schools have their great men, for whose advent into life the world is waiting in dumb expectancy. In due time the world seizes upon these wondrous youth, opens the shell of their possibilities like the valves of an oyster, swallows them at a gulp, and they are for the most part heard of no more. We had two great men, grown up both of them. Which was the more awful intellectual power to be launched upon society, we debated. Time cut the knot in his rude fashion by taking one away early, and padding the other with prosperity so that his course was comparatively noiseless and ineffective. We had our societies, too; one in particular, "The Social Fraternity," the dread secrets of which I am under a lifelong obligation never to reveal. The fate of William Morgan, which the community learned not long after this time, reminds me of the danger of the ground upon which I am treading.

There were various distractions to make the time not passed in study a season of relief. One good lady, I was told, was in the habit of asking students to her house on Saturday afternoons and praying with and for them. Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, and a rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of football were followed with some spirit.

A slight immature boy finds his materials of though and enjoyment in very shallow and simple sources. Yet a kind of romance gilds for me the sober tableland of that cold New England hill where I came in contact with a world so strange to me, and destined to leave such mingled and lasting impressions. I looked across the valley to the hillside where Methuen hung suspended, and dreamed of its wooded seclusion as a village paradise. I tripped lightly down the long northern slope with facilis descensus on my lips, and toiled up again, repeating sed revocare gradum. I wandered' in the autumnal woods that crown the "Indian Ridge," much wondering at that vast embankment, which we young philosophers believed with the vulgar to be of aboriginal workmanship, not less curious, perhaps, since we call it an escar, and refer it to alluvial agencies. The little Shawshine was our swimming-school, and the great Merrimack, the right arm of four toiling cities, was within reach of a morning stroll. At home we had the small imp to make us laugh at his enormities, for he spared nothing in his talk, and was the drollest little living protest against the prevailing solemnities of the locality. It did not take much to please us, I suspect, and it is a blessing that this is apt to be so with young people. What else could have made us think it great sport to leave our warm beds in the middle of winter and "camp out,"--on the floor of our room,--with blankets disposed tent-wise, except the fact that to a boy a new discomfort in place of an old comfort is often a luxury.

More exciting occupation than any of these was to watch one of the preceptors to see if he would not drop dead while he was praying. He had a dream one night that he should, and looked upon it as a warning, and told it round very seriously, and asked the boys to come and visit him in turn, as one whom they were soon to lose. More than one boy kept his eye on him during his public devotions, possessed by the same feeling the man had who followed Van Amburgh about with the expectation, let us not say the hope, of seeing the lion bite his head off sooner or later.

Let me not forget to recall the interesting visit to Haverhill with my room-mate, and how he led me to the mighty bridge over the Merrimack which defied the ice-rafts of the river; and to the old meetinghouse, where, in its porch, I saw the door of the ancient parsonage, with the bullet-hole in it through which Benjamin Rolfe, the minister, was shot by the Indians on the 29th of August, 1708. What a vision it was when I awoke in the morning to see the fog on the river seeming as if it wrapped the towers and spires of a great city!--for such was my fancy, and whether it was a mirage of youth or a fantastic natural effect I hate to inquire too nicely.

My literary performances at Andover, if any reader who may have survived so far cares to know, included a translation from Virgil, out of which I remember this couplet, which had the inevitable cockney rhyme of beginners:

"Thus by the power of Jove's imperial arm The boiling ocean trembled into calm."

Also a discussion with Master Phinehas Barnes on the case of Mary, Queen of Scots, which he treated argumentatively and I rhetorically and sentimentally. My sentences were praised and his conclusions adopted. Also an Essay, spoken at the great final exhibition, held in the large hall up-stairs, which hangs oddly enough from the roof, suspended by iron rods. Subject, Fancy. Treatment, brief but comprehensive, illustrating the magic power of that brilliant faculty in charming life into forgetfulness of all the ills that flesh is heir to,--the gift of Heaven to every condition and every clime, from the captive in his dungeon to the monarch on his throne; from the burning sands of the desert to the frozen icebergs of the poles, from--but I forget myself.

This was the last of my coruscations at Andover. I went from the Academy to Harvard College, and did not visit the sacred hill again for a long time.

On the last day of August, 1867, not having been at Andover, for many years, I took the cars at noon, and in an hour or a little more found myself at the station,--just at the foot of the hill. My first pilgrimage was to the old elm, which I remembered so well as standing by the tavern, and of which they used to tell the story that it held, buried in it by growth, the iron rings put round it in the old time to keep the Indians from chopping it with their tomahawks. I then began the once familiar toil of ascending the long declivity. Academic villages seem to change very slowly. Once in a hundred years the library burns down with all its books. A new edifice or two may be put up, and a new library begun in the course of the same century; but these places are poor, for the most part, and cannot afford to pull down their old barracks.

These sentimental journeys to old haunts must be made alone. The story of them must be told succinctly. It is like the opium-smoker's showing you the pipe from which he has just inhaled elysian bliss, empty of the precious extract which has given him his dream.

I did not care much for the new Academy building on my right, nor for the new library building on my left. But for these it was surprising to see how little the scene I remembered in my boyhood had changed. The Professors' houses looked just as they used to, and the stage-coach landed its passengers at the Mansion House as of old. The pale brick seminary buildings were behind me on the left, looking as if "Hollis" and "Stoughton" had been transplanted from Cambridge,--carried there in the night by orthodox angels, perhaps, like the Santa Casa. Away to my left again, but abreast of me, was the bleak, bare old Academy building; and in front of me stood unchanged the shallow oblong white house where I lived a year in the days of James Monroe and of John Quincy Adams.

The ghost of a boy was at my side as I wandered among the places he knew so well. I went to the front of the house. There was the great rock showing its broad back in the front yard. I used to crack nuts on that, whispered the small ghost. I looked in at the upper window in the farther part of the house. I looked out of that on four long changing seasons, said the ghost. I should have liked to explore farther, but, while I was looking, one came into the small garden, or what used to be the garden, in front of the house, and I desisted from my investigation and went on my way. The apparition that put me and my little ghost to flight had a dressing-gown on its person and a gun in its hand. I think it was the dressing-gown, and not the gun, which drove me off.

And now here is the shop, or store, that used to be Shipman's, after passing what I think used to be Jonathan Leavitt's bookbindery, and here is the back road that will lead me round by the old Academy building.

Could I believe my senses when I found that it was turned into a gymnasium, and heard the low thunder of ninepin balls, and the crash of tumbling pins from those precincts? The little ghost said, Never! It cannot be. But it was. "Have they a billiard-room in the upper story?" I asked myself. "Do the theological professors take a hand at all-fours or poker on weekdays, now and then, and read the secular columns of the 'Boston Recorder' on Sundays?" I was demoralized for the moment, it is plain; but now that I have recovered from the shock, I must say that the fact mentioned seems to show a great advance in common sense from the notions prevailing in my time.

I sauntered,--we, rather, my ghost and I,--until we came to a broken field where there was quarrying and digging going on,--our old base-ball ground, hard by the burial-place. There I paused; and if any thoughtful boy who loves to tread in the footsteps that another has sown with memories of the time when he was young shall follow my footsteps, I need not ask him to rest here awhile, for he will be enchained by the noble view before him. Far to the north and west the mountains of New Hampshire lifted their summits in along encircling ridge of pale blue waves. The day was clear, and every mound and peak traced its outline with perfect definition against the sky. This was a sight which had more virtue and refreshment in it than any aspect of nature that I had looked upon, I am afraid I must say for years. I have been by the seaside now and then, but the sea is constantly busy with its own affairs, running here and there, listening to what the winds have to say and getting angry with them, always indifferent, often insolent, and ready to do a mischief to those who seek its companionship. But these still, serene, unchanging mountains,--Monadnock, Kearsarge,--what memories that name recalls!--and the others, the dateless Pyramids of New England, the eternal monuments of her ancient race, around which cluster the homes of so many of her bravest and hardiest children,--I can never look at them without feeling that, vast and remote and awful as they are, there is a kind of inward heat and muffled throb in their stony cores, that brings them into a vague sort of sympathy with human hearts. It is more than a year since I have looked on those blue mountains, and they "are to me as a feeling" now, and have been ever since.

I had only to pass a wall and I was in the burial-ground. It was thinly tenanted as I remember it, but now populous with the silent immigrants of more than a whole generation. There lay the dead I had left, the two or three students of the Seminary; the son of the worthy pair in whose house I lived, for whom in those days hearts were still aching, and by whose memory the house still seemed haunted. A few upright stones were all that I recollect. But now, around them were the monuments of many of the dead whom I remembered as living. I doubt if there has been a more faithful reader of these graven stones than myself for many a long day. I listened to more than one brief sermon from preachers whom I had often heard as they thundered their doctrines down upon me from the throne-like desk. Now they spoke humbly out of the dust, from a narrower pulpit, from an older text than any they ever found in Cruden's Concordance, but there was an eloquence in their voices the listening chapel had never known. There were stately monuments and studied inscriptions, but none so beautiful, none so touching, as that which hallows the resting-place of one of the children of the very learned Professor Robinson: "Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well."

While I was musing amidst these scenes in the mood of Hamlet, two old men, as my little ghost called them, appeared on the scene to answer to the gravedigger and his companion. They christened a mountain or two for me, "Kearnsarge" among the rest, and revived some old recollections, of which the most curious was "Basil's Cave." The story was recent, when I was there, of one Basil, or Bezill, or Buzzell, or whatever his name might have been, a member of the Academy, fabulously rich, Orientally extravagant, and of more or less lawless habits. He had commanded a cave to be secretly dug, and furnished it sumptuously, and there with his companions indulged in revelries such as the daylight of that consecrated locality had never looked upon. How much truth there was in it all I will not pretend to say, but I seem to remember stamping over every rock that sounded hollow, to question if it were not the roof of what was once Basil's Cave.

The sun was getting far past the meridian, and I sought a shelter under which to partake of the hermit fare I had brought with me. Following the slope of the hill northward behind the cemetery, I found a pleasant clump of trees grouped about some rocks, disposed so as to give a seat, a table, and a shade. I left my benediction on this pretty little natural caravansera, and a brief record on one of its white birches, hoping to visit it again on some sweet summer or autumn day.

Two scenes remained to look upon,--the Shawshine River and the Indian Ridge. The streamlet proved to have about the width with which it flowed through my memory. The young men and the boys were bathing in its shallow current, or dressing and undressing upon its banks as in the days of old; the same river, only the water changed; "The same boys, only the names and the accidents of local memory different," I whispered to my little ghost.

The Indian Ridge more than equalled what I expected of it. It is well worth a long ride to visit. The lofty wooded bank is a mile and a half in extent, with other ridges in its neighborhood, in general running nearly parallel with it, one of them still longer. These singular formations are supposed to have been built up by the eddies of conflicting currents scattering sand and gravel and stones as they swept over the continent. But I think they pleased me better when I was taught that the Indians built them; and while I thank Professor Hitchcock, I sometimes feel as if I should like to found a chair to teach the ignorance of what people do not want to know.

"Two tickets to Boston." I said to the man at the station.

But the little ghost whispered, "When you leave this place you leave me behind you."

"One ticket to Boston, if you please. Good by, little ghost."

I believe the boy-shadow still lingers around the well-remembered scenes I traversed on that day, and that, whenever I revisit them, I shall find him again as my companion.


Oliver Wendell Holmes

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