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A Welsh Watering Place by Wirt Sikes

 

On the eastern shore of that stretch of land which forms the extreme south-western point of Wales stands the stony little seaport town of Tenby. It is an old, old town, rich in historical legends, an important place in the twelfth century and down to Queen Elizabeth's reign. Soon after her time it fell into woeful decay, and for years of whose number there is no record Tenby existed as a poor fishing-village and mourned its departed glories. That it would ever again be a place of interest to anybody but people of fishy pursuits was an idea Tenby did not entertain concerning itself; but, lo! in the present century there arose a custom among genteel folk of going down to the sea in bathing-machines. It was discovered that Tenby was a spot favored of Neptune (or whatever god or goddess regulates the matter of surf-bathing), and Tenby was taken down from the shelf, as it were, dusted, mended and set on its legs again. The fashionables smiled on it. Away off in the depths of wild Wales the knowing few set up their select and choice summer abode, and vaunted its being so far away from home; for Tenby was farther from London in those old coaching days than New York is in these days of steamships. Even years after railroads found their way into Wales, Tenby remained remote and was approachable only by coach; but now you can step into your railway-carriage in London and trundle to Tenby without change between your late breakfast and your late dinner.

Probably no seaside watering-place known to the polite world contrasts so strongly with the typical American watering-place as does this Welsh resort. Not at Brighton, not at Biarritz, not at any German spa, will the tourist find so complete a contrast in every respect to Long Branch or Newport. Tenby is almost sui generis. A watering-place without a wooden building in it would of itself be a novelty to an American. Our summer cities consist wholly of wooden buildings, but Tenby, from the point of its ponderous pier, where the waves break as on a rock, to the tip of its church-spire, which the clouds kiss, is every inch of stone. Welshmen will not build even so insignificant a structure as a pig-sty out of boards if there are stones to be had. I have seen stone pig-sties in Glamorganshire with walls a foot thick and six hundred years old. There is not a wooden building in Tenby. The station-buildings are "green" (as the Welsh say of a new house), but they are solid stone.

Alighting from the railway-carriage in which you have come down from London, you are greeted with no clamor of bawling hack-drivers and hotel-omnibus men roaring in stentorian tones the names of their various houses. Three or four quiet serving-men in corduroy small-clothes and natty coats touch their hats to you and look in your face inquiringly. They represent the various hotels in Tenby, and at a gesture of assent from you one of them takes your bags, your wraps, whatever you are burdened with, and conducts you to a somewhat antiquated vehicle which bears you to your chosen inn through some gray stony streets, under an ivy-green archway of the ancient town-wall; and as the vehicle draws up at the inn-door the beauty of Tenby lies spread suddenly before you—the lovely bay, the cliffs, the sands, the ruined castle on the hill, the restless sea beyond. A handsome young person in an elaborate toilet as regards her back hair, but not otherwise impressive in attire, comes to the door of the hotel to meet you, and gently inquires concerning your wishes: that you have come to stay in the house is a presumption which no properly constituted young person in Tenby would venture upon without express warrant in words. Receiving information on this point from you, the probability is that she imparts to you in return the information that the house is full. Such, indeed, is the chronic condition of the hotels at Tenby in the season; and unless you have written beforehand and secured accommodations, you are not likely to find them. In the life of a Welsh watering-place hotels do not fill the important place they do in American summer resorts. Nobody lives at an hotel in Tenby. If their stay be longer than a day or two (and very few indeed are they who come to-day and are off to-morrow), visitors inevitably go into lodgings. Such is the custom of the country, and there is no provision for any other, no encouragement to a prolonged stay at an hotel. The result is, that the hotels are in an incessant state of bustle and change: there is a never-intermitting stream of arrivals, who only ask to be made comfortable for a night or two while they are looking for lodgings, and then make way for the next squad. Tenby abounds in lodging-houses, the expenses of which are smaller than hotel expenses, while their comforts are greater, their cares actually less and their good tone unquestionable. The various lodging-house quarters vie with each other in genteel cognomens and aristocratic flavor. The Esplanade is but a row of lodging-houses. The various Terraces, each with a prenomen more graceful than the other, are the same. The windows of Tudor Square and Victoria street, Paragon Place and Glendower Crescent, bloom with invitations to "inquire within." A handsome parlor and bedroom may be had for two pounds a week, and the cost of food and sundries need not exceed two pounds more for two persons moderately fond of good living; which means, at Tenby, the fattest and whitest of fowls, the freshest and daintiest salmon and john dories, the reddest and sweetest of lobsters and prawns. Those who prefer to take a house have every encouragement to do so. A bijou of a furnished cottage, all overrun with vines and flowers, may be had for three pounds a month, the use of plate and linen included. These things are fatal to hotel ambition, for although the hotels are not expensive, from an American point of view, they cannot compete with such figures as these. Hence there is nothing to induce a change in the customs of Tenby, which have prevailed ever since it became a watering-place. Britons do not change their habits without good and valid cause therefor, and no Americans ever come to Tenby, so far as I can learn.

We are Americans ourselves, of course, and we are going to do as Americans do—viz. make a very brief stay, and that in an hotel. We obtain accommodations at last through a happy fortune, and presently find ourselves installed in the grandest suite of hotel-apartments at Tenby—a large parlor, handsomely furnished, with a piano, books, objets d'art, etc., and a bedroom off it. At Long Branch, were there such an apartment there—which there is not—twenty dollars a day would be charged for it, without board and without compunction. Here we pay nineteen shillings. There is a magnificent view from our front windows. The hotel stands close to the cliff, with only a narrow street between its doorstep and the edge of the precipice. The night is falling, and the scene is like Fairy Land. We look from our windows straight down upon the sands, a dizzy distance below (but to which it were easy to toss a pebble), and out over the glassy waters, where small craft float silently, with the gray old stone pier and the dark ivy-hung ruin on Castle Hill, the one reflected in the waves, the other outlined against the sky—a lovely picture. Tenby covers the ridge of a long and narrow promontory rising abruptly out of the sea, its stone streets running along the dizzy limestone cliffs. From the highest point eastward—where is presented toward the sea a front of rugged precipices which would not shame a mountain-range—the promontory slopes gradually lower and lower till the streets of the town run stonily down sidewise through an ancient gate and debouch upon the south beach. Then, as if repenting its condescension, the promontory takes a fresh start, and for a brief spurt climbs again, but quickly plunges into the sea. This spurt, however, creates the picturesque hill on which of old stood a powerful Norman fortress, whose ruins we see. Local enterprise has now laid out the hill as a public pleasure-ground, with gravelled paths and rustic seats, and glorified it with a really superb statue of the late Prince Albert, who, the Welsh inscription asserts, was Albert Dda, Priod Ein Gorhoffus Frenhines Victoria.

We find upon inquiry that our hotel so far infringes upon primitive Welsh manners as to provide a table-d'hôte dinner at six. This is most welcome news, and we become at once part of the company which sits down to the table d'hôte. There are ten people besides ourselves, and not a commonplace or colorless character among them. My left-hand neighbor is a somewhat slangy young gentleman in a suit of chequered clothes, who carves the meats, being at the head of the table; and my happy propinquity secures me the honor of selection by the young gentleman as the recipient of his observations: a toughish round of beef which he is called upon to carve evokes from him an aside to the effect that it is "rather a dose." The foot of the table is held by an old gentleman in a black stock, with a tuft of wiry hair on the front part of his head, and none whatever on any other part, who carves a fowl, and in asking the diners which part they severally prefer accompanies the question with a brisk sharpening of his knife on his fork, but without making the least noise in doing it. My chequered neighbor having advertised the toughness of the beef, everybody murmurs a purpose of indulging in fowl, at which my neighbor observes aside to me that he is "rather jolly glad," and the butler takes the beef away. The dish next set before him proving a matter of spoons merely, his relief at not being obliged to carve finds vent in a whispered "Hooray!" for my exclusive amusement. One unfortunate individual has accepted a helping of beef, however—a bald-headed man in spectacles, not hitherto unaccustomed to good living, if one might judge by his rounded proportions. It is painful to witness his struggles with the beef, which he maintains with the earnestness of a man who means to conquer or perish in the endeavor. Opposite sits as fair a type of a ripe British beauty of the middle class as I have anywhere seen—with a complexion of snow, a mouth like a red bud and eyes as beautiful and expressive as those of a splendid large wax doll, her hair drawn tensely back and rolled into billowy puffs, with a rose atop. It is sad, in looking on a picture like this—superb in its suggestions of pure rich blood and abounding health—to reflect that such a rose will develop into a red peony in ten years. I do not say the peony will not have her own strong recommendings to the eye: we may not despise a peony, but it is impossible not to regret that a rose should turn into one. There is a very good example of the peony sort near the foot of the table—quite a magnificent creature in her way. Her husband, who sits next her, is a fiercely-bearded man, but has a strange air of being in his wife's custody nevertheless. The lady is apparently forty-five, red to a fault, full in the neck, and with a figure which necessitates a somewhat haughty pose of the head unless one would appear gross and piggish. There is much to admire in this lady, peony though she be. The fiercely-bearded husband is smaller than his wife, and, in spite of her commanding air and his subdued aspect, I have not a doubt he rules her with a rod of iron. Appearances are very deceptive in this direction. I have known so many large ladies married to little men who (the ladies) carried themselves in public like grenadiers or drum-majors, and in private doted on their little lords' shoe-strings! Next the fiercely-bearded husband sits a very pretty girl, whom he finds his entertainment in constantly observing with the air of a connoisseur. She is modesty itself; her eyes are never off her plate; and from the at-ease manner in which he contemplates her it is clear he no more expects her to return his gaze than he expects a torpedo to go off under his chair.

The dinner proceeds most decorously. If it were a funeral, indeed, it could hardly be less given to anything approaching hilarity. There is now and then a little conversation, but the gaps are frightful —yawning chasms of silence of the sort in which you are moved to wild thoughts of running away, for fear you may suddenly commit some act of horrible impropriety, like whistling in church. In one of these gaps—during which the whole company, having finished the course, is waiting gloomily for the victim of tough beef (who is still struggling) to have done—my chequered neighbor remarks, in an aside which makes every one start as if a pistol had been fired off, "Goodish-sized pause, eh?"

But with the dessert we begin to unbend. We are still exceedingly decorous, but our tongues are loosened a little, and we exchange amiable remarks, under whose genial influence we begin to feel that the worst is over. Unfortunately, however, with the spread of sunshine among us there is the muttering of a storm at our backs: the butler pushes his female assistant aside with deep rumbling growls, and presently explodes with open rage at her stupidity. The diners turn and stare incredulous and amazed. The butler rushes madly from the room. The female assistant, agitated but obstinate, seizes the blanc-mange and the cream and proceeds to serve them. I shall not be believed, I fear, but I am relating simple truth: in her agitation this incredible female spills the cream in a copious shower-bath over me and my chequered neighbor, and excitedly falls to mopping it off us with her napkin, like a pantomime clown. Fortunately, we are in our travelling suits, and come out of this baptism unharmed. The incident nearly suffocates the company, for there is not a soul among them who would not sooner suffer the pangs of dissolution than laugh outright. As for me, I am nearly expiring with the merriment that consumes me and my efforts to prevent indecorous explosion. The young woman, after having wiped me dry, once more presents the cream-jug, this time with both hands, but I can only murmur faintly in my trouble, "Thanks, no—no more cream." This appears to be quite too much for the young person, who throws up her arms in despair and rushes after the butler. What tragic encounter there may have been in the servants' hall I know not. Another servant comes and carries the dinner through.

It is entertainment enough for the first morning of your stay at Tenby just to sit at the windows and observe what is there before you—the street with its passers, the beach with its strange rock-formations, the ocean thickly dotted with fishing-craft. The tide is out, and the huge black block of compact limestone called God's Rock, with its almost perpendicular strata, lies all uncovered in the morning sun—a vast curiosity-shop where children clamber about and search for strange creatures of the sea. In the pools left here and there by the receding tide are found not only crabs and periwinkles in great number, but polyps, sea-anemones, star-fishes, medusæ and the like in almost endless variety. Naturalists—who are but children older grown, with all a child's capacity for being amused by Nature—get rages of enthusiasm on them as they search the crevices of this and other like rocks at Tenby. A floor of hard yellow sand stretches away into the distance, visible for miles, owing to the circular sweep of the beach and the height from which we are looking out, and it is dotted with strollers appearing like black mice moving slowly about. The long stretch of the cliff, from its crescent shape, is clearly seen—sometimes a sheer, bare stone precipice, sometimes a steep slope covered with woods and hanging gardens and zigzag, descending walled paths.

Among those who make up the human panorama of the street under your window are types of character peculiar to Wales. One such is the peddling fisher-woman who strolls by with a basketful of bright pink prawns, which she holds out to you temptingly, looking up. The fisher-women of Tenby wear a costume differing in some respects from that of all other Welsh peasants. Instead of the glossy and expensive "beaver" worn in other parts, the Tenby women sport a tall hat of straw or badly-battered felt. Another favorite with them is a soft black slouch hat like a man's, but with a knot of ribbon in front. One of the neatest of the fisher-women is an old girl of fifty or so, who haunts your windows incessantly, and greets you with a quick-dropped courtesy whenever you walk out. She is never seen to stand still, except for the purpose of talking to a customer, but trots incessantly about; and either for this reason, or from her constant journeys to and fro between her home and the town, is given the nickname of Dame Trudge. She usually has on her back a coarse oyster-basket called a "creel," and in her hands another basket containing cooked prawns, lobsters or other temptation to the gourmand. Her dress, though it is midsummer, is warm and snug, particularly about the head and neck, as a protection against the winds of ocean; and her stout legs are encased in jet-black woollen stockings (visible below her short check petticoat), while her feet are shod with huge brogans whose inch-thick soles are heavily plated with iron. She lives ten miles from Tenby, walks to and fro always, and sleeps under her own roof every night, yet you never fail to see her there in the street when you get up in the morning. There are many other oyster-women to be seen at Tenby, but none so trim as good Dame Trudge. Here and hereabout grow the largest, if not the sweetest, oysters in Great Britain, and their cultivation is chiefly the work of the gentler sex. They do not look very gentle—or at least very frail—as you come upon a group of oyster-women in their masculine hats and boots munching their bread and cheese under a wall, but they are a good-natured race, and most respectful to their betters. Anything less suggestive of Billingsgate than the language of these Welsh fisher-women could hardly be, considering their trade.

The tide of passers is setting toward the south sands. Foreigners are almost unrepresented in this throng. There is one Frenchman, who would be recognizable as far off as he could be seen by his contrast to the prevailing British tone. It is a mystery why he should be here instead of at Trouville, Boulogne, Dieppe or Étretat, where the habits of the gay world are all his own. Nobody seems to know him at Tenby. Behind him walks quite as pronounced a type of the Welsh country gentleman—a character not to be mistaken for an Englishman, in spite of the family resemblance. A shrewd simplicity characterizes this face—an open, guileless sharpness, so to speak, peculiarly Welsh. An indifferent judge of human nature might venture to attempt heathen games with this old gentleman, but no astute rogue would think of such a thing. A man of this stamp, however green and rural, is not gullible. This Welsh simplicity of character is very deceptive to the unwary, and many besides Ancient Pistol have eaten leeks against their will because of their ignorance concerning it.

We join the throng in the street and stroll leisurely down the long incline. The whole town tips that way. A variety of more or less quaint vehicles move about—cabriolets drawn by donkeys and ponies; sedan chairs; a species of easy-chair on wheels, with a wooden apron, and propelled by a boy or a decayed footman in seedy livery with bibulous habits written on his face. Something of a similar sort was seen at the Centennial, yet utterly unlike this, notwithstanding a resemblance in principle. These invalid go-carts are very convenient at Tenby, as they may be trundled everywhere, even on the sands, which are hard and flat. A peculiarity of all the vehicles, even those drawn by two animals, is that they go slower, as a rule, than on-foot people do. Briskly-walking couples and groups of English and Welsh ladies pass us, carrying over their arms bathing-dresses or towels, with the business-like alacrity of movement characteristic of most Britons on their feet. No one saunters except ourselves. All are hastening to the south sands, looking neither to the right nor the left; but for us there are eye-lures in every direction. The town abounds with antiquities calculated to awaken the liveliest interest in a stranger: every street is rich with romantic story; every hill and rock for miles around has its legend, its ruin of castle, abbey or palace, or its mysterious cromlech,—all that can most charm the soul of the antiquary; and Shakespeare has honored this corner of Wales beyond others by putting it in one of his tragedies. Considerable portions of the ancient town-wall are standing, with the mural towers and gateways. In the parish church, which we pass, are some most interesting monuments of the early half of the fourteenth century, but the Tenbyites look upon their church as rather a modern structure, as churches go in Wales. They point out the place where John Wesley preached in the street in 1763, when the mayor threatened to read the riot act. There is still a law in Wales against street-preaching, but it is not often enforced, unless the preacher happens to be drunk—an incident not altogether unknown.

The old stone pier abounds with seafaring characters in holiday rig, very picturesque to American eyes. They knuckle their foreheads and remove their pipes as we pass, and by attitudes and gestures which would inform a deaf-mute invite us to take a sail on the bay. They do not audibly offer their services, for the municipal laws forbid them to, but their figureheads are mutely eloquent. Here is one who might be put right on the stage as he stands as the typical jolly Jack Tar of the nautical drama. He wears a red liberty-cap, and a nose which matches it to a shade. His jersey is blue and low in the neck, and his trousers are of that roominess supposed to be necessary for nautical purposes. Other mariners about him are quite as interesting. Occasionally one is seen whose rig is so neat he might have stepped out of a bandbox, but, though he is an ornamental mariner, he is not a Brummagem one. These fellows all know storm and danger and severe toil as common acquaintances. The neatest of them are understood to be residents here, with wives or mothers who strive hard to keep them looking nice in the fashionable season; and in blue flannel shirt with immense broad collar, another broad collar of white turned over that, hat of neat straw or tarpaulin with upturned rim and bright blue ribbon, they form a feature of attractiveness which has no counterpart at American seaside resorts. The rougher mariners, if not so handsome, are still most picturesque: they are chiefly fishermen from the Devonshire coast, who sail over here to take the salmon, mackerel, herrings, turbots, soles, etc. which so abound at Tenby. The spot still bears out, in spite of its modern glories as a watering-place, its ancient renown as a fishing-point, which was so great that the old-time Britons called it Denbych y Piscoed ("the hill by the place of fishes").

On the Castle Hill we find a great company gathered, looking down on the still greater company which is gathered on the yellow sands. Children are climbing and rolling on the soft greensward of the terraces, and adults are sprawling at full length, completely at their ease. Men and women lounge to and fro on the sea-wall promenade, a miniature of the Hyde Park throng at mid-season. Others sit reading or chatting or looking out over the sparkling sea. The grass and crags are dotted with azure and purple flowers, and cushions of pink and white stone-crop abound. Higher up the hill stand the ivied ruins of the Norman castle, and the white memorial monument to Prince Albert, with its sculptured panels bearing the arms of Llewellyn the Great, the red dragon of Cadwalader, the symbolical leek and the motto, Anorchfygol Ddraig Cymru ("The dragon of Wales is invincible"). The air is very cool and bracing on this hill. But the greatest crowd is on the sands and on the rocks of the cliff immediately backing the beach. It is difficult for one who is familiar only with the beach at Long Branch or Cape May to comprehend such a scene as this which I am trying to picture. In the first place, the field is so entirely different from that at home; and in the second place, the bathing population of the town is not broken up into a number of hotel communities and cottage communities, but is all gathered at one spot. It is true some residents on the north cliff bathe on the north sands, but they come to the south sands after they have had their dip, to meet le monde. There is room here for le monde too; and the groups not only sprinkle the wide yellow plain, but they are perched about on the face of the cliff in grottos and on jutting crags; they are grouped in the cool shade of rocky caverns at the precipice's base; they are leaning on the battlemented walls that crown its summit. The water is a considerable distance from where the people sit, and minute by minute, as the time passes, it recedes farther and farther, until at last it is a long walk away. The gay hues of red-coated soldiers assist feminine attire in enlivening the scene with color. Children in great numbers are scampering about, and busying themselves, much as they do at home, with toy pails and spades; but if you take notice you will find that their sand-structures differ widely from those of children in America: you may even see a perfect model of a feudal castle grow into shape, with barbacan, gate, moat, drawbridge, towers, bastions, donjon-keep and banqueting-hall complete. A brass band—the members in full uniform of bright colors, with little rimless red-and-gold caps—is playing under the battlemented garden-wall which backs the sands in one place. Listen to the tunes! Heard you ever these peculiar airs before? The "Bells of Aberdovey" jangle their sweet chime over the wind-blown scene. The "March of the Men of Harlech" fills all the air with its stirring scarlet strain. The quaint melody of "Hob y deri dando" moves the feet of youth to restlessness: not that it is a jig, in spite of the jiggy look of the words to English eyes, but because it has been twisted into the service of Terpsichore by a famous band-master in his "Welsh Lancers." "Hob y deri dando" is a love-song:

All the day I sigh and cry, love,

Hob y deri dando!

All the night I say and pray, love,

Hob y deri dando!*

* This phrase is sometimes supposed to be the original of the English "Hey down, derry, derry down!" but the old Druidic song-burden, "Come, let us hasten to the oaken grove," is in Welsh "Hai down ir deri dando," which is nearer the English phrase.

A hand-organ with monkey attachment is delighting a group of children on another part of the sands. Yonder, too, is a balladist with a guitar, bawling at the top of his lungs,

The dream 'as parst, the spell his broken,

'Opes 'ave faded one by one:

Th' w'isper'd words, so sweetly spoken,

Hall like faded flow'rs har gone.

Still that woice hin music lingers,

Loike er 'arp 'oose silver strings,

Softly swep' by fairy fingers,

Tell of hunforgotten things.

Nobody pays much attention to this wandering minstrel: he is happy if at the close of his song a penny finds its way into the battered hat he extends for largess. He is clearly a stranger to this part of the world, and has probably tramped down here from London by easy stages, and will have to tramp back again as he came, without much profit from his provincial tour.

The fashionable world which is sunning itself on the sands is made up, for the most part, of the usual types of a British watering-place—the pea-jacketed swell with blasé manner and one-eyed quizzing-glass; the occasional London cad in clothes of painful newness and exaggeration of style, such as no gentleman by any chance ever wears in Britain; the young sprig of nobility with effeminate face and "fast" inclinations, who smokes a cigarette and ogles the girls, and utters sentiments of profound ennui in a light boyish tenor voice. He is the son of an English nobleman who has a Welsh estate, upon which he passes a portion of his time, and can trace his lineage back to one of the Norman adventurers who came over with William the Conqueror. For an example of an older aristocracy than this, however, observe the ancient couple sitting near us in the shadow of a cliff-rock, the wife with a high-bridged nose and puffs of gray hair on her temples, the husband with an easy-fitting hat and a coat-collar which rolls so high as to give the impression he has no neck. These are aristocrats who, although untitled and owners only of a few modest acres back in Carmarthenshire, descend from ancestors that looked down on William the Conqueror as a plebeian upstart.

There are bathers in the surf, but they are so far away from the throngs on this vast plain of beach that they are as unindividual as if they were puppets. One's most intimate friend could not be recognized without the aid of a glass. The bathing-machines, which serve in lieu of the huts common at American seaside resorts, are merely huts on wheels instead of huts in stationary rows. They are cared for by women, who escort you to the door of an untenanted hut, collect sixpence and retire. You enter, and disrobe at your leisure. The machine proves to be a snug box lighted by one little unglazed window not large enough for you to put your head through, and having a solid shutter. If you close this shutter the box is as dark as night, for it is well built, with hardly a crevice in wall or roof or floor. A small and very bad looking-glass hangs on the wall, and there is a bench to sit on: that is the extent of the furniture. You have been provided with towels and with the regulation bathing-dress for men—linen breeches, to wit. While you are contemplating this garment and questioning of your modesty as to the propriety of donning it, there is a sound of rattling iron outside, and a tap on your door as a warning that your machine is about to start. The machine is dragged in lumbering fashion out into the sea by an antediluvian horse with a small boy astride, and there the boy unhitches the traces from the machine and goes ashore, leaving you with the waves breaking on the steps before your door. You peep out dubiously. A shoal of naked-shouldered men are swimming and splashing in the surf. Some fifty yards away is another school of bathers, whose back hair betrays their sex, and who are clad in garments made like those worn by feminine bathers at Long Branch, etc. There is no commingling of the sexes in the water, as our American custom is, but on the score of modesty I must confess to a prejudice in favor of the American plan, nevertheless. The British theory evidently presumes that men have no modesty among themselves. Custom regulates these matters, I suppose. I have never felt disposed to blush for my naked feet and arms while conversing with a lady on the beach at Long Branch, being snugly clad from head to foot in a flannel costume. But I confess to a shrinking sense of the incompleteness of the prescribed fig-leaves as I stand in the door of the bathing-machine at Tenby. To cover myself with the water as quickly as possible appears to be the only remedy, however, and I take a header from the doorsill. Ugh! The water is like ice! To one accustomed to the warm American bathing-suit the linen substitute of Tenby is a most insufficient protection. At home I have on occasion extended the revels of the surf for a full hour, being a pretty strong swimmer and exceedingly fond of the exercise. I get enough at Tenby in precisely two minutes, and hasten to don my customary clothing. Nevertheless, it is contended that the surf at Tenby is pleasant for bathers as late as Christmas, and I am told there really are Britons who bathe daily in the sea here quite up to the first snow. It is certain that the fashionable season does not end till November, and some stay straight on through the winter.

Among the lions of Tenby none is more interesting than St. Catharine's Island, a great rugged hill of solid limestone almost devoid of verdure and rent into innumerable fissures, with a succession of dark romantic coves and caverns and jagged projecting crags fringing its sides completely round. At high tide this islet is separated from the mainland by a deep rolling sea. At low tide its shores are left dry by the receding waters. It is a curious sight to watch this daily advance and retreat of the sea. To see the tides of ocean come and go is no novelty, but it becomes a novelty under circumstances like these, where every day a dry bridge of yellow sand is stretched forth from the islet to the mainland, across which a stream of humanity pours the moment the path is clear. At first only one person at a time can pass. Ten minutes later the sand-bridge is a broad road. Ten later, and all Tenby might cross in a crowd. There is an iron staircase built up the rocky face of the islet, winding about among its crags and fissures, and the isle is overrun with people during the time the tide is out. It has many attractions. The view is grand from those heights. Yawning gulfs fascinate you to look dizzily down into the secret heart of the isle. On the highest point of rock stood, a few years ago, an ancient chapel which had in Roman Catholic days been dedicated to St. Catharine. Within the past six years this chapel has given way to a fortress, its walls partly embedded in the solid rock. The people who throng to the islet between tides roam about, loiter with breeze-blown garments on the stairs and landings, peer into the fortress, or, perching themselves in the sheltered nooks which are innumerable among the crags, sit and sew, read, chat, make love and watch the pygmy bathers in the sea far down below. As long as the tide is low the tenants of the islet are safe to remain, but as soon as it turns those who are wise begin to gather up their things and clear out. Now and then incautious ones get caught; and then there are screaming, hurrying and a terrible fright, especially if the trapped ones are of the gentler sex, and still more especially if their proportions are ample. Such women are, as a rule, the cowardliest. Probably, they feel their amplitude a disadvantage in moments of peril, and know emotions which their scrawnier sisters escape. A case in point greets us this morning as we stand watching the rising of the tide. A roly-poly woman of forty or so is caught on the islet by the closing of old Ocean's drawbridge. She is a fair being with dark hair and eyes, a sweet smile, a clear complexion, and some two hundred and fifty pounds avoirdupois, richly dressed, pleasant-mannered, and in all respects no doubt a lady to be admired and loved, as well as respected, in the social circle. But at present she is at a sad disadvantage. I noticed her a few minutes ago at the top of the iron staircase, and said to myself that she would have just time enough to come down, for there was an isthmus of sand some twenty feet wide as yet to be obliterated by the crawling tide. A quickly-tripping foot would have accomplished it, but the fair-fat-and-forty lady occupied one whole minute in coming down. Now that she has reached the bottom step there is a wide wash of sea between her and the mainland, and she raises her hands in horror. How is she to get over? There is no boat in sight. Shall she wade? There is a nervous motion of her fat white hands in the direction of her gaiters, but she hesitates. The woman who hesitates is lost: the water grows deeper and deeper every instant; in ten minutes it will be over her head. A bathing-machine boy comes trotting his horse through the water, and, backing up by the rock on which the distressed lady stands, bids her get on. Get on the back of a horrid bathing-horse! behind the back of a horrid boy! Had she been a sylph the prospect would have been most untempting, but a two-hundred-and-fifty-pounder! Nevertheless, the unhappy fair one begins to prepare for the sacrifice with grief and consternation in her face. "How can I do it?" her trembling lips whisper, and she looks about her on the rocks as if to say, "Oh, is there no other way out of this wretched predicament?" The boy, as he sits astride, is getting his feet wet by this time: the horse will have to swim for it presently. Still she hesitates, and throws a shrinking glance over the vast audience gathered on the sands silently attentive—the band, the organ-grinder and the balladist all breathlessly awaiting the issue, no doubt feeling that it would be mockery to indulge in music at such a moment. Suddenly a bare-headed and shirt-sleeved man is seen to dash through the water, regardless of danger and of wet trousers, who, seizing the fat lady round the knees in spite of her screams, dumps her on the horse's back all in a heap. Saved! saved! Such a giggling (for joy) has seldom been seen to shake a large assemblage. The emotion caused by the spectacle of beauty in distress is no doubt a pain to every masculine mind not hopelessly vitiated by the cynical tendencies of the age; but the pain produced by the emotion of mirth at seeing a fellow-creature at a ridiculous disadvantage is greater when you feel bound not to laugh.

There are four strange caves piercing St. Catharine's Island completely through from side to side. In rough weather the storming of the sea through these extraordinary tunnels creates a prodigious uproar. When the weather is still it is possible to take boat and sail quite through one of them: at low tide you may walk through. Marine zoological riches abound in these caverns, which have been for many years a real treasure-house for naturalists. The walls are studded with innumerable barnacles, dogwinkles and other shells—not dead and empty, but full of living creatures, requiring only the return of the tide to awaken them to an active existence. There are simply myriads of them: a random stone thrown against a wall will smash a whole colony; and there are besides polyps and sea-anemones and other strange animals of eccentric habits in unusual abundance. The visitors to Tenby find great diversion in these and the other caves on the coast: in fact, the whole coast as far as Milford Haven is one succession of natural curiosities and antiquities. One cavern bears the name of Merlin's Cave, and is hallowed by a legend of the enchanter, who was born at Carmarthen in the next county.

Wirt Sikes.