My Last Adventure, and a Trip around the Mountains
AS COLD WEATHER was approaching, and the work so far completed to the satisfaction of the proprietor of the hotel, all the workmen were dismissed, and informed their services would not be required next year; so I concluded on bidding adieu to the Mountains.
I had calculated on making further explorations, in other inaccessible places, if I had time and opportunity, but finally gave up the idea, getting somewhat wearied of the “Adventures.” I therefore turned my thoughts to Boston, as the most suitable field for me to labor in for the welfare of the Deaf-Mutes; but before taking my final leave, I decided on a trip around the White Mountains, intending to make the best use of my time.
Packing up my tools and trunk, I forwarded them home, not wishing to encumber myself with anything but a warm blanket. The prospect of a pleasant journey—one hundred and thirty miles—was very cheering, as the weather was unusually pleasant for the season of the year. Bidding adieu to all my friends at the hotel, I jumped on top of the stage-coach, not caring to ride inside; if I had done so, many beautiful views would have been lost sight of. My first stopping-place was at Bethlehem; I made my way to the Bethlehem Hotel, where I met an old friend, who had been famous among the mountain people for his daring adventures, far eclipsing my own. It was he who offered to bet a sum of money that he would wheel a bag of corn, on a wheelbarrow, to Plymouth, thirty miles up and down hills, on condition, if he should win, that the loser should pay the stake, and provide him with a situation in one of the hotels. He was successful in his undertaking, though it was a very arduous task, taking a day and a half to accomplish. He rested at the Profile House the night he performed his feat. The wheelbarrow he used was decorated and varnished, and hung up in a conspicuous place in the hotel, with his name inscribed on it, as a reward for his triumph.
The view, as seen from the Bethlehem Hotel, was very fine, and in the distance loomed up Mount Washington, the direction which I intended to take. Leaving Bethlehem, we were pleasantly jogging along when suddenly, almost, a heavy rain-storm set in. Two of the men who sat on top with me jumped off, and got inside the coach, which was already full, leaving me to keep company with the driver. I was not in the least discomfited, but wrapped myself up snugly in my blanket, and pulled down the rim of my hat, and in a few moments I was drenched through and through. Not having any change of clothing with me, I was in a sorry plight, but resolved to make the best of it. In a short time the storm abated, and the sun shone out beautifully, and by its heat I partially dried my clothes, and soon reached the White Mountain House, where half an hour was allowed for changing horses, which I availed myself of by getting thoroughly dry in the kitchen.
After a ride of thirty miles I reached the Crawford House, and was immediately recognized by several who knew me, and invited to stay there, free of all charge. Not having time to spare, I hastened back three miles to the depot of the railroad up Mount Washington, and had the satisfaction of examining the engine and track; but was sorely disappointed at not having a chance to ride up, though fully satisfied of the greatness of its undertaking. Early next morning, before the guests were up, I had some lunch ready; and, with my cane for a companion, determined to take a day’s tramp, and visit the Elephant. The outline of the rock shows the head, ear, proboscis and mouth. The Silver Cascade is a beautiful fall; the Pulpit is a curious, towering rock, by the foot of the mountain; the Old Maid of the Mount, and the Young Man of the Mountain, the Infant and the Wiley House, so famous in history for the destruction of a whole family of seven by an avalanche of snow and rock, were examined minutely, affording me much pleasure.
The Old Maid and the Young Man disappointed me somewhat, for I had an idea their faces were as attractive as “The Old Man.” The outlines were not half as good as my old friend’s. The Devil’s Den, the Apron, and other places of interest were visited. I was not in the least molested by the midgets, as they had nearly disappeared with the approach of cold weather. The Wiley House is a very interesting place to visit; it contains several articles which belonged to the ill-fated family before mentioned, such as a table, crockery-ware, boots, hats, guns, etc. In most of the rooms the names of visitors are written all over the walls. I inscribed my name high up on the wall, having the advantage, in height, over most of the guests. I visited the spot where the unfortunate family are buried, and the great rock that rolled down the mountain. It seems they had been deceived by the echoes of the rolling avalanche, and fled in the wrong direction; they would have been saved had they gone across the road, on the opposite side. Their house stood uninjured.
Having satisfied my curiosity, I made my way back to the Crawford House, a distance of six miles. The sun was setting, and a rain-storm approaching from behind the mountain. Being three miles from the hotel, or any house to shelter me, I did not like the idea of being drenched, as I was before, by the Rain Fiend, as I called it; and fortunately I discovered a projecting rock a few rods from where I stood, and fled to it, barely reaching it before the rain poured down in torrents. I chuckled over my luck, for I always considered myself a lucky fellow. The rain over, I was glad to come out with dry clothes. I soon reached the hotel, and ate a hearty supper, for I was “as hungry as a wolf.”
The next morning I met a man of whom I had some knowledge, who had been guide and servant at the Profile House. He was poor when I first knew him, but now he wore gold and diamond rings, and was very fashionably dressed. He had just married a rich heiress, from New York. It seems he was acting as a guide up Mount Washington, and amongst the party was a lady on horseback, who, at first sight, became violently enamored of him. After some billing and cooing, they were married, and he now rides in a two-horse carriage. He was a lucky fellow, indeed, and I wished myself in his place; but, on second thought, I remembered I had a loving wife, which is far better than a rich heiress.
The ride up Mount Washington had been entirely stopped, on account of the great danger of being caught in frost-clouds, which sadly disappointed me, for I desired to see the Tip Top House, and all the surrounding hills, but especially the monument of Lizzie Bourne, in whose fate I felt a lively interest. She had gone up with her uncle, a doctor, late in the season, and late in the afternoon, without a guide, and contrary to the advice of their friends. They both got lost in their ascent, and wandered about till dark. She had gone out of the path, and wandered among the bushes and shrubs, until nearly all her clothes were torn off; and, unable to stand the cold, she fell down and died. The doctor was discovered, nearly frozen, keeping guard over her, and was rescued. She was greatly mourned, and her remains were sent home. A monument was erected to her memory by her friends, with rocks found on the spot where she died.
It had been my intention to cross the Mountain to the Glen House, but I was dissuaded from it, no guide being willing to risk going up with me. To think of further stay would prove of no advantage to me, so I decided to hurry home direct, instead of carrying out my plan, and was sadly disappointed. I bade good-by to the Crawford House, and took a stage direct to Centre Harbor. One little incident I witnessed, which I shall never forget: As we were riding down a hill, I noticed a beautiful girl sitting on a chair, a rod or more from a lonely dwelling-house by the road-side, holding a pan in her lap, and in it were some blackberries in boxes of white birch. She was waiting the approach of stages to sell berries to passengers, as had been her custom. The horses were a little unmanageable, and the driver tried to stop them, putting his foot on the brake to allow the passengers to dismount and purchase the berries; but the whiffle-tree behind the horses knocked her over, and spilled them all. I discovered she had but one leg. She was an exceedingly pretty girl, and her head was covered with a profusion of curls. Fortunately she was not hurt; but being unable to stand up, and overpowered with grief at the loss of her berries, it was truly pitiable to see her. All the passengers heartily sympathized with her; they jumped out, raised her up, and kissed her, lifting her on her chair. Her hands were soon well-filled with money, to compensate her for the fright and loss. She was as meek as she was beautiful. How she came to lose her leg, I never learnt.
Reaching the Centre House, and crossing Winnipiseogee Lake on the steamer Lady of the Lake, I took the cars and reached home, highly gratified with my THREE SUMMERS’ ADVENTURES.