The reader probably cannot appreciate the delicious sense of rest and of achievement which we enjoyed in this tidy inn, nor share the anticipations of undisturbed, luxurious sleep, in which we indulged as we sat upon the upper balcony after supper, and saw the moon rise over the glistening Bras d’Or and flood with light the islands and headlands of the beautiful bay. Anchored at some distance from the shore was a slender coasting vessel. The big red moon happened to come up just behind it, and the masts and spars and ropes of the vessel came out, distinctly traced on the golden background, making such a night picture as I once saw painted of a ship in a fiord of Norway. The scene was enchanting. And we respected then the heretofore seemingly insane impulse that had driven us on to Baddeck.
“He had no ill-will to the Scotch; for, if he had been conscious of that, he never would have thrown himself into the bosom of their country, and trusted to the protection of its remote inhabitants with a fearless confidence.”—BOSWELL’S Johnson.
Although it was an open and flagrant violation of the Sabbath day as it is kept in Scotch Baddeck, our kind hosts let us sleep late on Sunday morning, with no reminder that we were not sleeping the sleep of the just. It was the charming Maud, a flitting sunbeam of a girl, who waited to bring us our breakfast, and thereby lost the opportunity of going to church with the rest of the family,—an act of gracious hospitality which the tired travelers appreciated.
The travelers were unable, indeed, to awaken into any feeling of Sabbatical straitness. The morning was delicious,—such a morning as never visits any place except an island; a bright, sparkling morning, with the exhilaration of the air softened by the sea. What a day it was for idleness, for voluptuous rest, after the flight by day and night from St. John! It was enough, now that the morning was fully opened and advancing to the splendor of noon, to sit upon the upper balcony, looking upon the Bras d’Or and the peaceful hills beyond, reposeful and yet sparkling with the air and color of summer, and inhale the balmy air. (We greatly need another word to describe good air, properly heated, besides this overworked “balmy.”) Perhaps it might in some regions be considered Sabbath-keeping, simply to rest in such a soothing situation,—rest, and not incessant activity, having been one of the original designs of the day.
But our travelers were from New England, and they were not willing to be outdone in the matter of Sunday observances by such an out-of-the-way and nameless place as Baddeck. They did not set themselves up as missionaries to these benighted Gaelic people, to teach them by example that the notion of Sunday which obtained two hundred years ago in Scotland had been modified, and that the sacredness of it had pretty much disappeared with the unpleasantness of it. They rather lent themselves to the humor of the hour, and probably by their demeanor encouraged the respect for the day on Cape Breton Island. Neither by birth nor education were the travelers fishermen on Sunday, and they were not moved to tempt the authorities to lock them up for dropping here a line and there a line on the Lord’s day.