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all phases of our American culture that it can hardly be said to have an individual tone. It is many-sided, like the island itself.
"Everybody comes to Mount Desert, and you can do anything here," an enthusiastic poet exclaimed not long ago.
So far as pleasure is concerned, he was not far wrong about the possibility of doing anything; for the island's resources are ample enough to provide fresh recreation for almost every day of the season.
The sailing is superb. The harbors, filled with varied craft, from the tiniest launch to the ocean-going yacht, are often
see tennis of a quality seldom found outside of the important tournaments. There are good tennis clubs at three of the harbors, and interesting golf-links at two.
Mount Desert is one of the best places. in America for driving, not only because one may look down upon the sea from splendid mountain roads, but because it is, as well, the one place from which the automobile and the trolley have been excluded. Southwest alone voted, by a small majority, in favor of admitting motors; but its limited territory is too small to encourage their use. Nearly all of the summer residents are dwellers in cities,
visited by the larger yacht-clubs on their cruises, and a squadron of war-ships may sometimes be seen riding at anchor in the lee of the Porcupines.
Mount Desert seems to do everything well. Though the climate is usually too cool for comfortable ocean bathing, there are two swimming-pools where the water is warmed in the sun over several tides. Every morning in the elaborate house of the Bar Harbor Swimming-Club a part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays a class of music so excellent that it would be declared "impossible" at most summer resorts. Outside, about the tennis-courts, the gaily colored crowd of young people, with their brilliance and animation, take one back to Smollett's word-pictures of the season at Bath. Here one may often
and they have tried hard to keep the island quiet, simple, un-urban. The exclusion of the motor is only another instance of the beauty-loving, altruistic spirit of the people. For many of those who are most opposed to automobiles here are people to whom they have become a necessity in town. In banning them, the residents considered not only the comfort in driving and walking, the element of danger, and the unsuitability of the roads, but also the eternal fitness of things. These are the sort of folk who built the Building of Arts at the foot of Newport Mountain. Most of them would as willingly set up a steam-piano on that quiet stage as invite a car to invade the safety and peace of the Ocean Drive. Recently, however, the "motor-men" have been alarmingly active,
island lakes and entice trout and landlocked salmon with a four-ounce rod and a leaderful of dainty flies.
There are wild-fowl to shoot in season, and an occasional glimpse of larger game. Two summers ago a couple of moose, pursuing a hereditary tradition, swam from the mainland, a distance of nine miles, and landed in Bar Harbor, near the mouth of Duck Brook. One of them sauntered about an elaborate formal garden, went through a tennis-net, scared the servants, and made off toward Young's Mountain, carrying everything before him. old days big game in large numbers used to take this trip to escape the annual hunt. And the Indians followed them over, and continued to do so as long as they were allowed.
Mount Desert, being one of the most ancient regions in the world, has a special lure for the geologist. For the mountains were formed not by foldings of the earth's crust, but by having their valleys gouged out by the icy power-shovels of the glacial period. "This range," as Professor Davis writes, "is one of the most stubborn survivors of the ancient highlands."
The island is the joy of the botanist, too, and of all seekers after hidden treasure. About the year 1840 a heap of old French coin and a pot of gold were found at different places not far from Castine, on the neighboring mainland. This, taken with a tradition that Captain Kidd's real cache was at Mount Desert, brought on an epidemic of treasure-hunting which has never wholly died out. The spirit of the quest still remains, and for most of us adds distinctly to the lure of the island. "If a man has never been on a quest for hidden treasure, it can be demonstrated that he has never been a child," said Stevenson once in reproach to Henry James.
But the surest way to find the greatest treasure of all is to abandon yourself to the chief recreation of Mount Desert and climb for it along one of the many mountain ways. That critic would be brave indeed who dared settle on the most rewarding path and peak, for these are rivals as dear as the harbors themselves. Green is the highest mountain, and from its more than fifteen hundred feet one has the most comprehensive sweep of range and lakefilled valley, of encircling sea and main
land, with old Katahdin looming on the horizon, if the day be clear. One even finds on its southern slope the glamour of legend in a tradition that the famous seaserpent, which made its summer home in Eagle Lake and fattened on the lambs of the neighboring farm, was overtaken there by a forest fire and left for souvenirs forty joints of his backbone, each a foot thick. In proof whereof the scene of the episode is known to this day as Great Snake Flat.
Farther down the mountain, past a place called the Old Leopard, one reaches the Pot Holes, which were worn deep into the bed-rock by glacial and chemical action. Two particular pairs of twin holes so resemble two gigantic footprints that if Europe possessed them they would by this time be thickly incrusted with legends. of how the giant who lurked in Featherbed Hollow pursued the beautiful princess of Resting Rock, and how she was saved by the fairy of Eagle's Crag, who, with a wave of her magic wand, embedded his great feet in the rock, where they slowly moldered away, but left their marks for all time.
After a hard day's climb, I know of no more charming mountain walk than the gentle descent from here to the Black Woods. One goes delicately on moss or pine-needles, on clean white gravel or turf, or the smooth face of the living rock. As in a park, rare varieties of trees border the way, and one comes to many a natural clearing, with its vistas of mountain and More than any other American spot this south ridge brings back to me the atmosphere of the Lake Country immortalized by Wordsworth.
There are, however, certain drawbacks to Green. The carriage-road takes something from its charm. It is too far inland to give that sense of hanging over the sea which makes the ascent of Newport memorable, and one misses the noble outline of Green itself, which is a feature of the views from Pemetic and Sargent.
In these mountains one is forever coming upon original and surprising effects, like that natural stone sidewalk up Jordan called the Bluffs, the fairy theater on Pemetic, the sacred grove between Newport and Pickett, or the witchery of Jordan Brook, another such little stream as Stevenson immortalized in "Prince Otto."
The theater is molded out of the living rock, and is no more than six feet across. Here, when the moon rides high, the Little People (whose real home, fable declares, is over on Brown) hold their outdoor plays. There is a royal box for the king and even a specially private one with a canopy for the modest author.
One enters the sacred grove suddenly on the slippery descent to the Gorge. The brilliance of noon is lowered in a breath to late twilight. Nothing is visible but Nothing is visible but the great boles of fir and spruce, bearing their dense canopy above an immaculate forest flooring of brown needles. But there is a magic in that sudden transformation that fills one, as no other grove I know, with the spirit of the Greek religion.
One of my pleasantest island memories. is of a quiet stroll to Fawn Pond with Dr. Weir Mitchell, a devoted lover of Mount Desert, who has perhaps done more than any one else except the late Waldon Bates toward perfecting the splendid system of foot-paths. As we walked the woods, he recalled how he had run across Bar Harbor twenty-nine years before, in taking a trip down the coast with Phillips Brooks; and how ever since these paths had been his special care and joy. Now and again he would break off to point out some special beauty: how the bark of the moose-wood showed in the undergrowth like the body of some beautiful snake; how certain heavy, slenderstemmed leaves seemed floating in air; how the splendid old pines of the first growth had been saved from destruction only because they could not be "got out"; how peculiarly opaque the shadows were in Fawn Pond. As we sat smoking on the rocks above the water, he repeated some lines which he had not long before dedicated to this spot:
Among the hills I know a dreaming lake
A silver dream, the pale moon's crescent
There is space here for only a hint of the variety of the paths. One of the most
romantic of them picks its way adroitly for half a mile beneath the crumbling face of Cadillac Cliffs. Under the firs, in the shadow of great, mossy red boulders, within sound of the surf of Thunder Hole, a needle-carpeted way leads up craggy, fern-covered stairways to the country of kobolds and nixies and all sorts of beneficent spirits of earth and air.
On Bracy Point, at Seal Harbor, near the rock called old Meenahga, which Mr. W. D. Howells once likened to an old Indian with a tuft of red feathers and white ear-rings-near old Meenahga is a wonderful little fir grove which would be a fit stage for one of the dream-dramas of Maeterlinck, with its romantic noonday moonlight, as it were, that should be neighbor to
magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
And from its verge, at dusk, beyond a rock-bound cove of racing surf, one sees darkly silhouetted against the sunset glow a pile akin to some hoary Romanesque castle on guard above the Rhine.
But one must end somewhere, when scores of rival memories clamor for expression. This island is such a varied thing that it seems as if composed by a poet fond of antithesis, who had determined to display his whole repertory of effects in a single effort. No one has described this range of contrasts more effectively than Clara Barnes Martin described it more than thirty years ago:
Bleak mountain-side and sunny nook in sheltered cove; frowning precipice and gentle smiling meadow; broad, heaving ocean and placid mountain lake; clashing sea-foam and glistening trout brook; the deep thunder of the ground-swell, and the solemn stillness of the mountain gorge; the impetuous rush and splash of the surf and the musical cadence of far-off waterfalls, all mingle and blend in the memory of this wonderland.