Best American Humorous Short Stories HTML version
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And yet, the next morning, when the Bredes came down and seated themselves opposite
us at table, beaming and smiling in their natural, pleasant, well-bred fashion, I knew, to a
social certainty, that they were "nice" people. He was a fine-looking fellow in his neat
tennis-flannels, slim, graceful, twenty-eight or thirty years old, with a Frenchy pointed
beard. She was "nice" in all her pretty clothes, and she herself was pretty with that type of
prettiness which outwears most other types--the prettiness that lies in a rounded figure, a
dusky skin, plump, rosy cheeks, white teeth and black eyes. She might have been twenty-
five; you guessed that she was prettier than she was at twenty, and that she would be
prettier still at forty.
And nice people were all we wanted to make us happy in Mr. Jacobus's summer
boarding-house on top of Orange Mountain. For a week we had come down to breakfast
each morning, wondering why we wasted the precious days of idleness with the company
gathered around the Jacobus board. What joy of human companionship was to be had out
of Mrs. Tabb and Miss Hoogencamp, the two middle-aged gossips from Scranton, Pa.--
out of Mr. and Mrs. Biggle, an indurated head-bookkeeper and his prim and censorious
wife--out of old Major Halkit, a retired business man, who, having once sold a few shares
on commission, wrote for circulars of every stock company that was started, and tried to
induce every one to invest who would listen to him? We looked around at those dull
faces, the truthful indices of mean and barren minds, and decided that we would leave
that morning. Then we ate Mrs. Jacobus's biscuit, light as Aurora's cloudlets, drank her
honest coffee, inhaled the perfume of the late azaleas with which she decked her table,
and decided to postpone our departure one more day. And then we wandered out to take
our morning glance at what we called "our view"; and it seemed to us as if Tabb and
Hoogencamp and Halkit and the Biggleses could not drive us away in a year.
I was not surprised when, after breakfast, my wife invited the Bredes to walk with us to
"our view." The Hoogencamp-Biggle-Tabb-Halkit contingent never stirred off Jacobus's
veranda; but we both felt that the Bredes would not profane that sacred scene. We strolled
slowly across the fields, passed through the little belt of woods and, as I heard Mrs.
Brede's little cry of startled rapture, I motioned to Brede to look up.
"By Jove!" he cried, "heavenly!"
We looked off from the brow of the mountain over fifteen miles of billowing green, to
where, far across a far stretch of pale blue lay a dim purple line that we knew was Staten
Island. Towns and villages lay before us and under us; there were ridges and hills,
uplands and lowlands, woods and plains, all massed and mingled in that great silent sea
of sunlit green. For silent it was to us, standing in the silence of a high place--silent with a
Sunday stillness that made us listen, without taking thought, for the sound of bells
coming up from the spires that rose above the tree-tops--the tree-tops that lay as far
beneath us as the light clouds were above us that dropped great shadows upon our heads
and faint specks of shade upon the broad sweep of land at the mountain's foot.