CHAPTER FIFTEEN. RHODE ISLAND AND CONNECTICUT

CALLING THE FERRY

Next morning, Sunday the 8th, we left the inn at eleven o'clock for Providence. It was a perfect morning, neither hot nor cold, sun bright, and the air stirring.

We took the narrow road almost opposite the entrance to the inn, climbed the hill, threaded the woods, and were soon travelling almost due south through Framingham, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, and West Wrentham towards Pawtucket.

That route is direct, the roads are good, the country rolling and interesting. The villages come in close succession; there are many quaint places and beautiful homes.

In this section of Massachusetts it does not matter much what roads are selected, they are all good. Some are macadamized, more are gravelled, and where there is neither macadam nor gravel, the roads have been so carefully thrown up that they are good; we found no bad places at all, no deep sand, and no rough, hard blue clay.

When we stopped for luncheon at a little village not far from Pawtucket, the tire which had been put on in Boston was leaking badly. It was the tire that had been punctured and sent to the factory for repairs, and the repair proved defective. We managed to get to Pawtucket, and there tried to stop the leak with liquid preparations, but by the time we reached Providence the tire was again flat and - as it proved afterwards - ruined.

Had it not been for the tire, Narragansett Pier would have been made that afternoon with ease; but there was nothing to do but wire for a new tire and await its arrival.

It was not until half-past three o'clock Monday that the new one came from New York, and it was five when we left for the Pier.

The road from Providence to Narragansett Pier is something more than fair, considerably less than fine; it is hilly and in places quite sandy. For some distance out of Providence it was dusty and worn rough by heavy travel.

It was seven o'clock, dark and quite cold, when we drew up in front of Green's Inn.

The season was over, the Pier quite deserted. A summer resort after the guests have gone is a mournful, or a delightful, place - as one views it. To the gregarious individual who seeks and misses his kind, the place is loneliness itself after the flight of the gay birds who for a time strutted about in gorgeous plumage twittering the time away; to the man who loves to be in close and undisturbed contact with nature, who enjoys communing with the sea, who would be alone on the beach and silent by the waves, the flight of the throng is a relief. There is a selfish satisfaction in passing the great summer caravansaries and seeing them closed and silent; in knowing that the splendor of the night will not be marred by garish lights and still more garish sounds.

Were it not for the crowd, Narragansett Pier would be an ideal spot for rest and recreation. The beach is perfect, - hard, firm sand, sloping so gradually into deep water, and with so little undertow and so few dangers, that children can play in the water without attendants. The village itself is inoffensive, the country about is attractive; but the crowd - the crowd that comes in summer - comes with a rush almost to the hour in July, and takes flight with a greater rush almost to the minute in August, - the crowd overwhelms, submerges, ignores the natural charms of the place, and for the time being nature hides its honest head before the onrush of sham and illusion.

Why do the people come in a week and go in a day? What is there about Narragansett that keeps every one away until a certain time each year, attracts them for a few weeks, and then bids them off within twenty-four hours? Just nothing at all. All attractions the place has - the ocean, the beach, the drives, the country - remain the same; but no one dares come before the appointed time, no one dares stay after the flight begins; no one? That is hardly true, for in every beautiful spot, by the ocean and in the mountains, there are a few appreciative souls who know enough to make their homes in nature's caressing embrace while she works for their pure enjoyment her wondrous panorama of changing seasons. There are people who linger at the sea-shore until from the steel-gray waters are heard the first mutterings of approaching winter; there are those who linger in the woods and mountains until the green of summer yields to the rich browns and golden russets of autumn, until the honk of the wild goose foretells the coming cold; these and their kind are nature's truest and dearest friends; to them does she unfold a thousand hidden beauties; to them does she whisper her most precious secrets.

But the crowd - the crowd - the painted throng that steps to the tune of a fiddle, that hangs on the moods of a caterer, whose inspiration is a good dinner, whose aspiration is a new dance, - that crowd is never missed by any one who really delights in the manifold attractions of nature.