Click here to Download The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book by Sarah Orne Jewett Language English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 69.
THERE WAS SOMETHING about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it so attaching, and gave such interest to the rocky shore and dark woods, and the few houses which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among the ledges by the Landing.
The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book by Sarah Orne Jewett
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These houses made the most of their seaward view, and there was a gayety and determined floweriness in their bits of garden ground; the small-paned high windows in the peaks of their steep gables were like knowing eyes that watched the harbor and the far sea-line beyond, or looked northward all along the shore and its background of spruces and balsam firs.
When one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person. The process of falling in love at first sight is as final as it is swift in such a case, but the growth of true friendship may be a lifelong affair. After a first brief visit made two or three summers before in the course of a yachting cruise.
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A lover of Dunnet Landing returned to find the unchanged shores of the pointed firs, the same quaintness of the village with its elaborate conventionalities; all that mixture of remoteness, and childish certainty of being the centre of civilization of which her affectionate dreams had told. One evening in June, a single passenger landed upon the steamboat wharf.
The tide was high, there was a fine crowd of spectators, and the younger portion of the company followed her with subdued excitement up the narrow street of the salt-aired, white-clapboarded little town. IT WAS A long time after this; an hour was very long in that coast town where nothing stole away the shortest minute.
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I had lost myself completely in work, when I heard footsteps outside. There was a steep footpath between the upper and the lower road, which I climbed to shorten the way, as the children had taught me, but I believed that Mrs. Todd would find it inaccessible, unless she had occasion to seek me in great haste.
I wrote on, feeling like a besieged miser of time, while the footsteps came nearer, and the sheep-bell tinkled away in haste as if someone had shaken a stick in its wearer’s face. Then I looked, and saw Captain Littlepage passing the nearest window; the next moment he tapped politely at the door. “Come in, sir,” I said, rising to meet him; and he entered, bowing with much courtesy. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book
I stepped down from the desk and offered him a chair by the window, where he seated himself at once, being sadly spent by his climb. I returned to my fixed seat behind the teacher’s desk, which gave him the lower place of a scholar. “You ought to have the place of honor, Captain Littlepage,” I said.
“A happy, rural seat of various views,” he quoted, as he gazed out into the sunshine and up the long wooded shore. Then he glanced at me, and looked all about him as pleased as a child. “My quotation was from Paradise Lost: the greatest of poems, I suppose you know?” and I nodded.
“There’s nothing that ranks, to my mind, with Paradise Lost; it’s all lofty, all lofty,” he continued. “Shakespeare was a great poet; he copied life, but you have to put up with a great deal of low talk.” I now remembered that Mrs. Todd had told me one day that Captain Littlepage had overset his mind with too much reading; she had also made dark reference to his having “spells” of some unexplainable nature. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book
I could not help wondering what errand had brought him out in search of me. There was something quite charming in his appearance: it was a face thin and delicate with refinement, but worn into appealing lines, as if he had suffered from loneliness and misapprehension. He looked, with his careful precision of dress.
As if he were the object of cherishing care on the part of elderly unmarried sisters, but I knew Mari’ Harris to be a very common-place, inelegant person, who would have no such standards; it was plain that the captain was his own attentive valet. He sat looking at me expectantly.
I could not help thinking that, with his queer head and length of thinness, he was made to hop along the road of life rather than to walk. The captain was very grave indeed, and I bade my inward spirit keep close to discretion. “Poor Mrs. Begg has gone,” I ventured to say. I still wore my Sunday gown by way of showing respect.The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book
“She has gone,” said the captain,—“very easy at the last, I was informed; she slipped away as if she were glad of the opportunity.” I thought of the Countess of Carberry, and felt that history repeated itself. “She was one of the old stock,” continued Captain Littlepage, with touching sincerity. “She was very much looked up to in this town, and will be missed.”
I wondered, as I looked at him, if he had sprung from a line of ministers; he had the refinement of look and air of command which are the heritage of the old ecclesiastical families of New England. But as Darwin says in his autobiography, “there is no such king as a sea-captain; he is greater even than a king or a schoolmaster!”
Captain Littlepage moved his chair out of the wake of the sunshine, and still sat looking at me. I began to be very eager to know upon what errand he had come. “It may be found out some o’ these days,” he said earnestly. “We may know it all, the next step; where Mrs. Begg is now, for instance. Certainty, not conjecture, is what we all desire.” The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Download
“I suppose we shall know it all some day,” said I. “We shall know it while yet below,” insisted the captain, with a flush of impatience on his thin cheeks. “We have not looked for truth in the right direction. I know what I speak of; those who have laughed at me little know how much reason my ideas are based upon.” He waved his hand toward the village below.
“In that handful of houses they fancy that they comprehend the universe.” I smiled, and waited for him to go on. “I am an old man, as you can see,” he continued, “and I have been a shipmaster the greater part of my life,—forty-three years in all. You may not think it, but I am above eighty years of age.”
He did not look so old, and I hastened to say so. “You must have left the sea a good many years ago, then, Captain Littlepage?” I said. “I should have been serviceable at least five or six years more,” he answered. “My acquaintance with certain—my experience upon a certain occasion, I might say, gave rise to prejudice. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Download
I do not mind telling you that I chanced to learn of one of the greatest discoveries that man has ever made.” “It seems kind o’ formal comin’ in this way,” said Mrs. Todd impulsively, as we passed the flowers and came to the front doorstep; but she was mindful of the proprieties, and walked before us into the best room on the left. “Why, mother, if you haven’t gone an’ turned the carpet!”
She exclaimed, with something in her voice that spoke of awe and admiration. “When’d you get to it? I s’pose Mis’ Addicks come over an’ helped you, from White Island Landing?” “No, she didn’t,” answered the old woman, standing proudly erect, and making the most of a great moment. “I done it all myself with William’s help.
He had a spare day, an’ took right holt with me; an’ ’twas all well beat on the grass, an’ turned, an’ put down again afore we went to bed. I ripped an’ sewed over two o’ them long breadths. I ain’t had such a good night’s sleep for two years.” “There, what do you think o’ havin’ such a mother as that for eighty-six year old?” The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Download
Said Mrs. Todd, standing before us like a large figure of Victory. As for the mother, she took on a sudden look of youth; you felt as if she promised a great future, and was beginning, not ending, her summers and their happy toils. “My, my!” exclaimed Mrs. Todd. “I couldn’t ha’ done it myself, I’ve got to own it.”
“I was much pleased to have it off my mind,” said Mrs. Blackett, humbly; “the more so because along at the first of the next week I wasn’t very well. I suppose it may have been the change of weather.” Mrs. Todd could not resist a significant glance at me, but, with charming sympathy, she forbore to point the lesson or to connect this illness with its apparent cause.
She loomed larger than ever in the little old-fashioned best room, with its few pieces of good furniture and pictures of national interest. The green paper curtains were stamped with conventional landscapes of a foreign order,—castles on inaccessible crags, and lovely lakes with steep wooded shores; under-foot the treasured carpet was covered thick with home-made rugs. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Download
There were empty glass lamps and crystallized bouquets of grass and some fine shells on the narrow mantelpiece. “I was married in this room,” said Mrs. Todd unexpectedly; and I heard her give a sigh after she had spoken, as if she could not help the touch of regret that would forever come with all her thoughts of happiness.
“We stood right there between the windows,” she added, “and the minister stood here. William wouldn’t come in. He was always odd about seein’ folks, just’s he is now. I run to meet ’em from a child, an’ William, he’d take an’ run away.” “I’ve been the gainer,” said the old mother cheerfully. “William has been son an’ daughter both since you was married off the island.
He’s been ‘most too satisfied to stop at home ‘long o’ his old mother, but I always tell ’em I’m the gainer.” That very first evening my friends plunged into a borderless sea of reminiscences and personal news. Mrs. Fosdick had been staying with a family who owned the farm where she was born, and she had visited every sunny knoll and shady field corner. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Free
But when she said that it might be for the last time, I detected in her tone something expectant of the contradiction which Mrs. Todd promptly offered. “Almiry,” said Mrs. Fosdick, with sadness, “you may say what you like, but I am one of nine brothers and sisters brought up on the old place, and we’re all dead but me.”
“Your sister Dailey ain’t gone, is she? Why, no, Louisa ain’t gone!” exclaimed Mrs. Todd, with surprise. “Why, I never heard of that occurrence!” “Yes’m; she passed away last October, in Lynn. She had made her distant home in Vermont State, but she was making a visit to her youngest daughter. Louisa was the only one of my family whose funeral I wasn’t able to attend, but ’twas a mere accident.
All the rest of us were settled right about home. I thought it was very slack of ’em in Lynn not to fetch her to the old place; but when I came to hear about it, I learned that they’d recently put up a very elegant monument, and my sister Dailey was always great for show. She’d just been out to see the monument the week before she was taken down, and admired it so much that they felt sure of her wishes.” The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Free
“So she’s really gone, and the funeral was up to Lynn!” repeated Mrs. Todd, as if to impress the sad fact upon her mind. “She was some years younger than we be, too. I recollect the first day she ever came to school; ’twas that first year mother sent me inshore to stay with aunt Topham’s folks and get my schooling.
You fetched little Louisa to school one Monday mornin’ in a pink dress an’ her long curls, and she set between you an’ me, and got cryin’ after a while, so the teacher sent us home with her at recess.” “She was scared of seeing so many children about her; there was only her and me and brother John at home then; the older boys were to sea with father, an’ the rest of us wa’n’t born,” explained Mrs. Fosdick.
“That next fall we all went to sea together. Mother was uncertain till the last minute, as one may say. The ship was waiting orders, but the baby that then was, was born just in time, and there was a long spell of extra bad weather, so mother got about again before they had to sail, an’ we all went. The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Free
I remember my clothes were all left ashore in the east chamber in a basket where mother’d took them out o’ my chist o’ drawers an’ left ’em ready to carry aboard. She didn’t have nothing aboard, of her own, that she wanted to cut up for me, so when my dress wore out she just put me into a spare suit o’ John’s, jacket and trousers.
I wasn’t but eight years old an’ he was most seven and large of his age. Quick as we made a port she went right ashore an’ fitted me out pretty, but we was bound for the East Indies and didn’t put in anywhere for a good while. So I had quite a spell o’ freedom. Mother made my new skirt long because I was growing, and I poked about the deck after that, real discouraged.
Feeling the hem at my heels every minute, and as if youth was past and gone. I liked the trousers best; I used to climb the riggin’ with ’em and frighten mother till she said an’ vowed she’d never take me to sea again.” The Country of the Pointed Firs PDF Book Free