Page images

front door, and showed him into the parlor with much cordiality.

"You 're jest in time," he explained, after greetings were interchanged. "We were jest commencin' to read a new chapter on Epaminondas. You have n't happened to read it, Hollis ?"

"No, I have n't," said the young man. He laughed. "I don't know that I read my Bible as much as I ought to."

Bessie broke into open merriment.

"Hollis Heywood!" she said. "Well, I don't believe you do!" He looked puzzled. "What 's the joke?" he asked.

to spring up between them-a subtle sense of acquaintanceship and comprehension, which all of Hollis's previous semimonthly calls had failed to bring about.

Whether Zenas perceived what was taking place, it would be difficult to say. His face was grave, and he read steadily forward, emphasizing occasional facts with a shake of his unoccupied forefinger, and evidently deriving great enjoyment from Plutarch's clear. and lengthy account of the great Theban general and Pelopidas, his colleague. Hollis and Bessie were likewise deriving enjoyment, if not from Plutarch, at least from the situation itself. Considerably to his own surprise, the young man, sitting back in a comfortable arm-chair, listening to the droning voice and gazing at Bessie with that new sense of intimacy, found himself entirely content to have the reading continue indefinitely.


Drawn by Genevieve Cowles. Half-tone plate engraved by R. C. Collins


"No joke," hastily interpolated Mr. Finlay. "Epaminondas ain't as much read, I know, as some o' the other prophets. But you'll enj'y him"; and resuming his chair by the light, he found his place and proceeded to read.

When Mrs. Finlay, in the other room, heard the droning of his voice begin again, she was filled with helpless consternation. How could Zenas be such a marplot? What would Hollis think? What would Bessie do? Could not she herself do something? She feebly called "Zenas!" once or twice, but the sound of the reading continued, and finally Mrs. Finlay resigned herself to despair.

After the first few sentences Hollis discovered his own sad error, and meeting Bessie's eyes, laughed his confession. Her eyes met his in mischievous raillery and amusement, and instantly a new understanding seemed

When Epaminondas was finished, Mr. Finlay began on Pericles, and then went on to Alcibiades. Mrs. Finlay, in the other room, felt desperation slowly turning to profound resignation. At the end of an hour and a half, or more, she heard the voices in the hall.


Drawn by Genevieve Cowles



"Well, good night, Hollis," Zenas was saying genially. "I'm real glad you 've enj'yed it, as you say. Plutarch's mighty interestin' readin'. We'll have some more chapters next time."

"Pa!" Mrs. Finlay almost screamed; but the heavy closing of the

front door prevented her cry from being heard. Zenas came back into the livingroom, followed by Bessie.

"Well," he said cheerfully, rubbing his hands, "we 've had a real good evenin' in there, ma. I'd 've got ye to come in, ef 't was n't that I knew ye wanted to finish Lamentations."

"I did n't read a word!" declared Mrs. Finlay, wrathfully. "I want to know, Zenas, what you—”

"Yes, we had a splendid time, mama," cut in Bessie, blithely. "I think Hollis enjoyed every word; and I did, too. Pa, you do read so interestingly!"

"Well," said Zenas, blandly, "I believe in readin' with the proper emphasis, when ye read at all, an' doin' the thing right, y' know."

“And you did," the girl declared admiringly. "I did n't realize that Plutarch was so entertaining." She vanished into the parlor again, and sitting down at the piano, played a merry little tune, quite forgetful of the day in a feeling of lightheartedness which she could not herself have analyzed.

Mrs. Finlay found her weapons suddenly dulled when Bessie gave her father. this unexpected support. She looked from Zenas toward the parlor helplessly.

"Ef you want to know what I think," she said severely, "I think you 're a pair of geese."

"I'm glad I had that presentiment," went on Zenas, heartily. "Premonitions I don't know much about; but presentiments I allers believe in follerin'. It was borne in on me turrible strong that that book had to be gone on with this evenin'."

"Humph!" snorted his wife. She felt an uncomfortable uncertainty as to whether her own recent warning voices were being

made light of in any way. But her husband's manner seemed quite above suspicion, and she concluded it wisest not to pursue the subject further for the time.

Mrs. Finlay ventured on only one premonition during the week following, and that concerned some matter of no importance. Zenas, however, had several presentiments, one of which led him to wear his best black suit and hat one hot day in the hay-field; and another caused him, on a trip to a neighboring larger town, to bring back to his wife some blue piqué rather than the white she had carefully ordered; "because white is Chinese mournin'," he explained, "an' it came over me that it 'd be unlucky for a dress." Mrs. Finlay groaned inwardly, but could say nothing. She had come to dread inexpressibly his announcements of "presentiments.”

On the following Sunday, as the three walked home from church, Mrs. Finlay asked:

"Bessie, what was Hollis Heywood sayin' to you back there on the steps?" The girl flushed a little.

"He was asking if I was going to be home this evening," she answered.

"This evenin'! Why, it 's only a week, instead o' two. You don't say!

"Law!" chimed in Zenas. “Now, ain't that funny? This very mornin'-" "You can wear that new dimity, now it's done," went on the mother, eagerly.

"This very mornin'," persisted Zenas, "while I was shavin', I had a pre-"

"Zenas!" said his wife, sharply, turning upon him, “I dunno what you had, whether it was a presentiment or what, an' I don't keer. I dunno 's I believe in sech things much, anyhow. All I know is that you sha'n't go in there an' read Plutarch this evenin'-not ef I never have another premonition in my life!"

[merged small][ocr errors]





WITHOUT doubt the most striking change in the active volcanoes of St. Vincent and Martinique is the production of the new cone and its culminating spine within the ancient crater of Pelée. Within a few months the sky-line of the mountain has been altered completely. News of the rising of this remarkable feature of the volcano, substantiated by a rather poor photograph, came to my attention early in January of the present year and added a fresh incentive to the expedition then already planned to visit the volcanoes of the Caribbean Islands a second time for the American Museum of Natural History, the first visit having been made at the behest of the same institution in May, 1902, directly after the eruptions began. As I was approaching Martinique,therefore, February 17, 1903, on the steamer Caribbee of the Quebec line, I was on the alert for the first glimpse of the new cone. All the morning the summit of Pelée was covered with clouds, but toward noon the mists began to clear away, and when the ship was off the northern part of St. Pierre the outline of the strange feature came boldly into view.

When I stood upon the eastern part of the crater-rim of the volcano in June, 1902, the cone which had been built upon the site of the lake basin known as L'Étang Sec, within the great ancient crater, was a little above my level. At that time it presented a jagged edge surrounding a crater-like depression in the top; but as far as could be seen through the shifting mists, no spine or tooth rose particularly above its fellows. In July a spine stood like a shark's fin

some scores of feet above the southeastern portion of the top of the cone, but in August this feature had disappeared, or at any rate was less pronounced, judging from the photographs preserved. Now, however, I saw a pinnacled top on the great new cone, with a single point rising far above the others, a gigantic cathedral not formed by human hands. The extreme tip of this vast pile seemed to be not less than five thousand feet above the sea, or about one thousand feet above the general level of the crater-rim. The highest point of that rim, Morne Lacroix, is stated to have been forty-four hundred and twenty-eight feet above the sea before the eruption which destroyed St. Pierre took place.

Early in the morning of February 20, with two negro boys to act as porters, I started for the crater. Heavy rain came on, however, and I contented myself with going to the top of Morne St. Martin, sixteen hundred feet above the sea, overlooking the gorge of the Rivière Blanche, and directly in front of the great gash in the crater-walls out of which had issued the tremendous blast that wrecked St. Pierre. The rain ceased, and for a few minutes the great spine emerged from the clouds. I was not more than a mile from the base of the new cone, but I could not yet examine the spine' closely enough to determine its nature. Not satisfied with this inspection, I attempted the mountain again the following day, virtually by the same route as before, which was along the plateau between the Sèche and Blanche rivers to the foot of the old outer cone. When we reached an altitude of two thou

1 See Professor Heilprin's book "Mont Pelée and the Tragedy of Martinique," p. 288. But Professor Heilprin mentions distinguishing with a glass two rocky horns" on the southeastern border of the crest of the new cone.


sand feet, the inevitable rain poured down upon us, and after crouching for an hour over my instruments to keep them dry, we gave up the ascent and returned to St. Pierre and Carbet without so much as a glimpse of the spine that day. The morrow was just as bad in regard to weather on the mountain, and I determined to return to Fort-de-France and go to the east side of the volcano for further attempts at its summit.

Making Vivé, the hospitable home of Fernand Clerc and his superintendent E. Beuzelin, my headquarters, I started for the top of Pelée early in the morning of February 27, with a guide, taking a boy along to care for my mule during my absence on the mountain. Clouds had covered the summit continuously for a week, but the island weather-prophets predicted good weather for the afternoon, and I pushed on in spite of present rain. My route lay through flourishing cane-fields, and across picturesque gorges with wonderful foliage, until we reached Morne Balai, one of the villages swept by the blast of the eruption of August 30. It was the route followed by Professor Heilprin on that memorable day.

After entering the devastated zone here, we went straight up the ridge down which that blast had come, leveling everything before it, and at ten o'clock we stood on the edge of the great crater. We were near the spot where I first stood, June 18, 1902, with George Carroll Curtis,1 and strained every faculty to penetrate the clouds of steam hiding everything before us and learn the secret of the terrible crashing noises that assaulted our ears. Now, as then, clouds and steam concealed from view everything more than a hundred yards distant. The wind drove over the mountain with terrible force, and the frequent torrential showers soon drenched us to the skin. The cold was severe for my thinly clad guide, and, after spending a few minutes on the edge of the crater, I gave the word to turn back to seek some place of shelter from the storm. We wandered off from the summit in the search, and after half an hour's tramping across the almost interminable gullies that cut into the sides of the upper part of the old cone, a momentary rift in the clouds revealed to

me the route to Morne Rouge on the farther side of a great gorge.

We were far out of our course, and the only thing to do was to ascend again to the Lac des Palmistes basin, near the crater, and find our trail of the morning. This we did, but the rain had nearly obliterated even the marks left by my heavy boots, and soon we were again floundering across the dreadful gullies, my "guide" completely bewildered, and I with insufficient command of patois to talk to him in the manner necessary to bring him to his senses. The second rift in the clouds for the day came at five o'clock, and showed us that we were just above one of the great rock precipices at the head of the Falaise River, a long distance from the trail. There was then nothing to do but to make up our minds to a night on the mountain without food or water, though the dampness of the enveloping clouds kept us from suffering much from thirst.

It was my first night on the top of an active volcano. We crouched down together under my old rain-coat in an angle of a gully, where we were protected somewhat from the keen wind. The long hours of the dreary night passed with a few interruptions from showers which threatened to drive us from our shelter by the streams sent down our ravine. Morning came at last without serious incident, and we found our way off the top of the mountain, met a searching party halfway up the trail with food and drink, and by one o'clock were joyously welcomed by my friends at Vivé, who had spent an anxious night on account of my absence.

The next day I went to St. Vincent, and three weeks later returned to Vivé, determined to see the inner cone from the edge of the crater if I had to stay in Martinique all summer. The weather was more propitious now, and in three ascents, March 21, 25, and 26, I saw the whole of the new cone with its spine, the encircling wall of the old crater, and the valley between the two. The new cone with the great spine is not central within the old crater. The most important of the openings concerned. in the present series of eruptions were on the west side of the old crater-lake, L'Étang Sec, and the axis of the new cone is northwest of the center of the old crater.

1 See article by Mr. Curtis in this magazine for January, 1903. For accounts of the eruptions, by eye-witnesses and others, see the numbers for August and September, 1902. — EDITOR.

« PreviousContinue »