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them altogether, and the trees hasten to cover every congenial spot of upland as it is formed.
Along the strand, (where the beach joins the ocean,) an abundance of the simpler kinds of shells, and those great delicacies, ' soft clams' and sand-crabs may be found. In the sounds, ' hard-shell’clam-catchers, fishermen, and oyster-men steadily ply their different callings, and the banks of these water-courses are also the feeding-places of vast numbers of shore and aquatic birds. Large droves of cattle and sheep are bred on the beaches with great profit; for as we have already seen, they produce an abundance of grass, and moreover are dotted with numerous fresh-water ponds, which, beside furnishing drink to the cattle, abound with eels and snapping-turtles, and in autumn and winter are the haunts of myriads of geese and wild ducks.
The greater share of the forest-trees found on the beaches are shorter and more knotty than those produced on the main-land, while, as a singular exception, the holly here attains a far sturdier growth than in the interior, and is frequently seen growing within a bow-shot of the sea, measuring full forty feet in height. Notwithstanding this general deficiency in length and smoothness of grain, beach timber is held in great esteem by ship-builders and house-carpenters, on account of the preëminent qualities of toughness and endurance which it is imputed to possess.
Beyond a few wreckers and charcoal-burners, all the sea-beaches of this county, save Poverty Beach, are uninhabited by the human race; but their native untamed birds and animals, ospreys, herons, gulls, terns, foxes, raccoons, and rabbits are here resident in great numbers. 'Indeed, in some portions of these wastes, the ospreys are so numerous that their huge nests not only crown almost every tree, but even the decayed trunks, which are no more than eight or ten feet high, are appropriated by them. (Where the ospreys thus establish themselves in communities, the approach of no other species of hawks is for a moment permitted, and even the bald eagle is fain to keep his distance.)
In the thickest of the red cedar groves, well sheltered from the sharp sea-winds, the herons roost and breed. All the different species of this genus of birds are apparently extremely well disposed toward each other; for night-herons, snowy-herons, green-herons, and little-herons construct their nests so closely together that four or five hundred of them may be counted upon twenty or thirty cedars. The earth beneath these breeding-places is so thickly covered with excrement, old nests, broken eggs, egg-shells, and decaying fish, that one is driven to the reflection that the herons would do well to avail themselves of the services of a few turkey-buzzards.
On the bare sand-hills, the terns deposit their eggs, while in the marshes the black or dusky duck, willet, black-headed gull, and clapper-rail or mud-hen rear their young. At this season of the year, while all the above birds are laying and hatching, it is customary with the younger portion of our inhabitants to form parties and make frequent excursions to the beaches, for the purpose of gathering eggs, which, when simply boiled, are most delicious eating, but when skillfully con
cocted into omelettes, seem altogether too exquisite for the refreshment of so spotted a creature as man.
As egg-hunting is viewed by our country people as a species of picnicking,' lovers and their mistresses, with a few buxom matrons to give tone to the affair, are the principal actors in these excursions; and while the gentlemen in their shirt-sleeves climb the trees and throw down the eggs, the ladies catch the same in their aprons and skirts, and pack them snugly away in baskets and buckets.
When the egg-hunter despoils an osprey's nest, the enraged proprietors thereof at once set up a wild shrieking, and dart to-and-fro over the spoiler's head with the utmost fury; nay sometimes stout battles ensue, in which the hunter is fain to make his retreat, fortunate if he gets off with no worse treatment than a scratched face and a round of dry blows administered by an osprey's wing, which measures quite two feet in length.
The meek herons submit to the rifling of their breeding-places with an amiability that would not fail to meet the approbation of the most exacting member of a Peace Society, and upon the approach of the egg-gatherers, with little or no dissenting clamor, they rise up in one vast, dangling-legged body, and at length alight upon the tops of the neighboring trees, to watch the progress of the ruinous work with complete unconcern.
Having procured all the ospreys' and herons' eggs desirable, the hunters proceed along the strand and inlets in search of terns' eggs, or traverse the marshes in pursuit of the nests of those already-mentioned birds who choose their breeding-places therein.
No little ingenuity and knowledge are requisite to the discovery of the black-duck's nest, as this fowl rears its young amid the most hidden recesses of the tussocks and sedge. The nest of the willet is composed of coarse grass and rushes, and its three or four eggs are found curiously arranged therein, with the large end uppermost. The mud-hen's nest consists of a mere bunch of dry weeds, sufficiently hollowed and built up to contain its ten or twelve eggs, over which the long salt-grass is artfully arched and knit. The eggs of the black-headed gull are found carelessly lying on bunches of sea-drift.
What with their varied coloring and harmonious forms, the eggs of these birds are quite as attractive to the eye as flowers. The egg of the osprey, which is almost as large as that of the domestic hen, is white, and beautifully mottled on the largest end with a rich brown. The heron's eggs are chiefly colored with the different shades of blue, and are exceedingly graceful in shape. The egg of the mud-hen measures one and a half inches in length, and its straw-colored shell is most tastefully decorated with spots of deep red. The willet's egg, save being smaller and somewhat bolder in figure, greatly resembles that of the osprey. The tern's egg measures one to three-fourth inches in length, and is tinted with a yellow brown, in which rufous blotches are mixed. The egg of the black-headed gull is quite as large as that of the barn-yard hen, and in color it is of a dun clay, mingled with small irregular touches of a pale purple or brown. The eggs of the black or dusky duck can scarcely be distinguished from those of the domestic
duck, and are seldom eaten by our country-people, but placed under a setting hen to be hatched. (These young wild ducks preserve all their characteristic shyness and vigilance in captivity, and having attained sufficient strength, they are almost certain to make good their escape to their native marshes and bays.)
An experienced band of egg-hunters not unfrequently collect a hundred dozen or more of eggs of a morning,* when, what with the effect of their exercise and the fresh sea air, they are fain to make preparations for dinner; and now, while some of the party build a fire beneath an inviting clump of trees, others gather oysters, crabs, and clams; the girls and matrons display their familiarity with the culinary art, and also produce bread, ham, and cake from their baskets and pockets, and ere long the whole company are busily engaged in discussing this hastilyimprovised banquet with a est which the city epicure, whose senses are daily jaded with turtle and champagne, would give millions to know.
Having dined, our friends will probably beguile a few hours with romps and sentimentalisrn; but before returning home, should the tide be at the proper stage to permit the curlews (which species of snipe are larger than barn-pigeons, and of most inviting flavor to the palate,) to feed upon the bars and sand-flats about the mouths of the inlets, the most sportsman-like of the lovers will not fail to betake themselves to a sail-boat, (by which means this excessively wary and vigilant game is most readily approached,) and fusilade the coveted birds according to the best of their skill.
To the stranger from the interior, the scenery afforded by the seabeaches is of a most engaging and interesting character. The white dreary waste of sand-hills, contrasted with the black foliage of the cedar-woods ; the boundless expanse of ocean; the ever-rolling, resounding, white-tipped breakers ; the wreckers engaged in unloading and dismantling stranded vessels; the graves of shipwrecked mariners which dot the sand-hills; the numerous troops of porpoises rolling upon the bosom of the blue deep; the gulls screaming in the air ; the ospreys diving like thunder-bolts into the wildest spray, and emerging there. from with talons laden with fish, which they bear with loud piping to their nests on the trees near at hand; the successive flocks of ducks, plovers, and snipe, which whirl so swiftly across the eye-path ; the seine fishermen and clam-gatherers at work in the sounds; the cunning red-fox scenting along the strand in quest of birds'-eggs; the broad, slimy leaves of gigantic sea-plants, which wave sluggishly back and forth in the still, transparent depths of the inlets, as if endowed with a repulsive life like that of serpents and sea-turtles ; all these exciting novelties realize what his imagination has before conceived to belong only to dim, legendary regions lying far away. But however delighted the tourist may be with the beaches in spring, he will carefully avoid the same in summer, as the flies and mosquitoes with which they abound quite endanger human life.
Although, as we have said, the immediate ocean-shore is mostly untenanted by mankind, yet the neighboring main-land is possessed by a race of men who, as a body, are so excellently and variously accomplished, that in this respect we believe them to be unmatched in this or any other country. Not in patent schools and universities do these sages gather their lore, but in the fields, woods, roads, and upon the waters. In the fields they learn the best of all methods of agriculture, namely, that which ordinarily enables them to gain a good living on poor lands. In the forest they are thoroughly familiarized to the use of the axe, lumbering, and wood-craft. In the sounds and surf they attain masterly insight into vessel-building, navigation, wrecking, and oystering, and along the roads the art of driving the shrewdest bargains is acquired. Armed thus at all points, a general failure of the crops or the bankruptcy of the country is viewed by this portion of our inhabitants with small concern; and when the mere professional or literary man would be sorely anxious as to how his bread was to be got, these versatile shoremen, shaping their efforts according to circumstances, turn from farming and trading to wrecking, wood-chopping, boat-building, oystering, musk-rat hunting, net-making, or chicken-vending with most enviable adroitness and effectiveness. But it is only during those fearful winter storms which cast so many vessels on our shores, that these men show the real nature of their blood, and with every shipwreck, whether by day or night, although the north-east wind may blow so strong and cold that the breakers run mountains high, and the flying spray covers each man with ice from head to foot, they launch their surf-boats into the war of elements, and in the face of steadily impending death, carry succor to the distressed, without desire of other reward than the blessings of the relieved and the peace of their own brave souls.
* If their nests are not destroyed, the birds proceed to laying again.
A WEDDING AMONG THE WOOD-CHOPPERS. JUNE 6.-Last evening, in accordance with an announcement previously made, a wedding took place among the denizens of our woods. The festivities were conducted in an extremely free, off-hand manner, and whosoever chose to participate in the same, was welcome so to do, whether he had been especially invited or not.
The bride's father and likewise the groom, are known in the forest as axe-men and shingle-makers, of more than ordinary thrift, and the friends of the bride (who is a sun-burnt, moon-faced lady of twenty-five) assert that none are better fitted than she to fulfil the duties of a helpmate, inasmuch as she knows nothing but hard work, and is able at all times to earn her dollar a day, either at basket-making, gathering sumach-leaves for the store-keepers, or cutting hoop-poles in the maple swamps.'
The nuptials were celebrated in the one-story ' ten-by-six ' log-built mansion of the bride's father, at which place the guests began to gather with the approach of sun-down ; and ere long, merry, smirking groups of brown, bare-footed foresters, in their shirt-sleeves, and brown, barefooted forest women, dressed in gay calicoes, thronged the house and blocked up the door-ways.
The groom, who was a well-looking young fellow of about two-and
twenty, had arrayed himself in a pink and white calico shirt, and a new pair of shining black satinet pantaloons, the bottoms of which were well rolled up for the better display of his handsome pepper-andsalt stockings and calf-skin slippers. His thin, swarthy visage had been so closely shorn that it fairly glistened, while his well-greased, sandy hair was disposed on the top of his head in the figure of a short ram's horn. He was evidently becomingly impressed with the solem. nity of the occasion, for he preserved a most serious expression of countenance, answered all questions with extreme brevity, and while one hand was fast clutched in that of his lady love, who sat by his side on the end of the bed which occupied one corner of the dwelling, with the other he held a small Methodist hymn-book upside down before his face, from whose pages he scarcely once averted his eyes.
Beside a pair of stout cow-hide bootees, a naked pair of huge, red arms, and a string of scarlet sealing-wax beads about her neck, the bride wore nothing which showed that she had attempted the use of any unusual display, and with a subdued air of intense delight she steadily contemplated the yellow sprigs which relieved the blue ground of her · Merrimac calico' frock.
While the twilight was yet at its height, the jokes and fun of the merrier portion of the company were stilled; for the 'Squire (who is an elderly · fore-handed' farmer, and who, in the absence of a clergyman, holds authority to perform marriage ceremonials) made his appearance, dressed in a suit of magisterial black, and bearing several portentouslooking law octavos and the Bible, partly wrapped up in his bandana handkerchief.
Of all the dignitaries known on earth, none are so feared and venerated by our country people as the 'Squire. For this reason a complete and attentive silence now prevailed throughout the company, and after the 'Squire had steadily looked about him for a few moments, he gravely laid his books upon the dresser, spat out his tobacco, wiped his spectacles and placed them upon his nose, all of which doings signified that the ceremonies were about to begin.
The preliminary rite consisted of a prayer, which the 'Squire, drawn up to his fullest height, fervently read from a tract secreted in the corner of his hat, (although he pretended to keep his eyes shut all the while,) and during the recital of which those who possessed aprons and hats reverently buried their faces therein, and those who were without, leaned their foreheads against each other's shoulders. Having finished his prayer, the 'Squire invited the betrothed couple to rise, and in an impressive speech, in which law phrases and apt quotations from the Bible sonorously abounded, he discussed the nature and duties of the matrimonial compact for a full half-hour or more.
At the close of the homily, the bride hung her head and pinched her arms, the groom became perceptibly nervous, and the guests crowded toward the 'Squire (whose coolness and happy demeanor was most enchanting) with intense eagerness depicted on their countenances, for the climax was obviously at hand.
In a few moments, all was brought to the happiest termination ; for the 'Squire read a few sentences from one of his law-books without the