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Title: Penelope's Postscripts
Author: Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Penelope's Postscripts" ***

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Transcribed from the 1915 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]



                          Penelope’s Postscripts


                                    BY
                           KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN
                                AUTHOR OF
               “PENELOPE’S EXPERIENCES: ENGLAND, IRELAND,”
          “TIMOTHY’S QUEST,” “REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM,” ETC.

                                * * * * *

                           HODDER AND STOUGHTON
                    LONDON      NEW YORK      TORONTO
                                  MCMXV

                                * * * * *

      _Printed in Great Britain by Hazell_, _Watson & Viney_, _Ld._,
                         _London and Aylesbury_.



CONTENTS

                   I
                                    PAGE
PENELOPE IN SWITZERLAND                3
                   II
PENELOPE IN VENICE                    39
                  III
PENELOPE’S PRINTS OF WALES           105
                   IV
PENELOPE IN DEVON                    119
                   V
PENELOPE AT HOME                     165



I
PENELOPE IN SWITZERLAND


                         A DAY IN PESTALOZZI-TOWN

SALEMINA and I were in Geneva.  If you had ever travelled through Europe
with a charming spinster who never sat down at a Continental _table
d’hôte_ without being asked by an American _vis-à-vis_ whether she were
one of the P.’s of Salem, Massachusetts, you would understand why I call
my friend Salemina.  She doesn’t mind it.  She knows that I am simply
jealous because I came from a vulgarly large tribe that never had any
coat-of-arms, and whose ancestors always sealed their letters with their
thumb nails.

Whenever Francesca and I call her “Salemina,” she knows, and we know that
she knows, that we are seeing a group of noble ancestors in a sort of
halo over her serene and dignified head, so she remains unruffled under
her _petit nom_, inasmuch as the casual public comprehends nothing of its
spurious origin and thinks it was given her by her sponsors in baptism.

Francesca, Salemina, and I have very different backgrounds.  The
first-named is an extremely pretty person of large income who is
travelling with us simply because her relatives think that she will “see
Europe” more advantageously under our chaperonage than if she were
accompanied by persons of her own age or “set.”

Salemina is a philanthropist and educator of the first rank, and is
collecting all sorts of valuable material to put at the service of her
own country when she returns to it, which will not be a moment before her
letter of credit is exhausted.

I, too, am quasi-educational, for I had a few years of experience in
mothering and teaching little waifs and strays of the streets before I
began to paint pictures.  Never shall I regret those nerve-racking,
back-breaking, heart-warming, weary, and beautiful years, when, all
unconsciously, I was learning to paint children by living with them.
Even now the spell still works and it is the curly head, the “shining
morning face,” the ready tear, the glancing smile of childhood that
enchains me and gives my brush whatever skill it possesses.

We had not been especially high-minded or educational in Switzerland,
Salemina and I.  The worm will turn; and there is a point where the
improvement of one’s mind seems a farce, and the service of humanity, for
the moment, a duty only born of a diseased imagination.

How can one sit on a vine-embowered balcony facing lovely Lake Geneva and
think about modern problems,—Improved Tenements, Child Labour, Single
Tax, Sweat Shops, and the Right Training of the Rising Civilization?
Blue Lake Geneva!—blue as a woman’s eye, blue as the vault of heaven,
dropped into the lap of the green earth like a great sparkling sapphire!
Mont Blanc you know to be just behind the clouds on the other side, and
that presently, after hours or days of patient waiting, he may condescend
to unveil himself to your worshipful gaze.

“He is wise in his dignity and reserve,” mused Salemina as we sat on the
veranda.  “He is all the more sublime because he withdraws himself from
time to time.  In fact, if he didn’t see fit to cover himself
occasionally, one could neither eat nor sleep, nor do anything but adore
and magnify.”

The day before this interview we had sailed to the end of the sapphire
lake and visited the “snow-white battlements” of the Castle of Chillon;
seen its “seven pillars of Gothic mould,” and its dungeons deep and old,
where poor Bonnivard, Byron’s famous “Prisoner of Chillon,” lay captive
for so many years, and where Rousseau fixes the catastrophe of his
Héloïse.

We had just been to Coppet too; Coppet where the Neckers lived and Madame
de Staël was born and lived during many years of her life.  We had
wandered through the shaded walks of the magnificent château garden, and
strolled along the terrace where the eloquent Corinne had walked with the
Schlegels and other famous _habitués_ of her salon.  We had visited
Calvin’s house at 11 Rue des Chanoines, Rousseau’s at No. 40 on the
Grande Rue, and Voltaire’s at Ferney.

And so we had been living the past, Salemina and I.  But

    “Early one morning,
    Just as the day was dawning.”

my slumbering conscience rose in Puritan strength and asserted its rights
to a hearing.

“Salemina,” said I, as I walked into her room, “this life that we are
leading will not do for me any longer.  I have been too much immersed in
ruins.  Last night in writing to a friend in New York I uttered the most
disloyal and incendiary statements.  I said that I would rather die than
live without ruins of some kind; that America was so new, and crude, and
spick and span, that it was obnoxious to any æsthetic soul; that our
tendency to erect hideous public buildings and then keep them in repair
afterwards would make us the butt of ridicule among future generations.
I even proposed the founding of an American Ruin Company, Limited,—in
which the stockholders should purchase favourably situated bits of land
and erect picturesque ruins thereon.  To be sure, I said, these ruins
wouldn’t have any associations at first, but what of that?  We have
plenty of poets and romancers; we could manufacture suitable associations
and fit them to the premises.  At first, it is true, they might not fire
the imagination; but after a few hundred years, in being crooned by
mother to infant and handed down by father to son, they would mellow with
age, as all legends do, and they would end by being hallowed by rising
generations.  I do not say they would be absolutely satisfactory from
every standpoint, but I do say that they would be better than nothing.

“However,” I continued, “all this was last night, and I have had a change
of heart this morning.  Just on the borderland between sleeping and
waking, I had a vision.  I remembered that to-day would be Monday the 1st
of September; that all over our beloved land schools would be opening and
that your sister pedagogues would be doing your work for you in your
absence.  Also I remembered that I am the dishonourable but Honorary
President of a Froebel Society of four hundred members, that it meets
to-morrow, and that I can’t afford to send them a cable.”

“It is all true,” said Salemina.  “It might have been said more briefly,
but it is quite true.”

“Now, my dear, I am only a painter with an occasional excursion into
educational fields, but you ought to be gathering stories of knowledge to
lay at the feet of the masculine members of your School Board.”

“I ought, indeed!” sighed Salemina.

“Then let us begin!” I urged.  “I want to be good to-day and you must be
good with me.  I never can be good alone and neither can you, and you
know it.  We will give up the lovely drive in the diligence; the luncheon
at the French restaurant and those heavenly little Swiss cakes” (here
Salemina was almost unmanned); “the concert on the great organ and all
the other frivolous things we had intended; and we will make an
educational pilgrimage to Yverdon.  You may not remember, my dear,”—this
was said severely because I saw that she meditated rebellion and was
going to refuse any programme which didn’t include the Swiss cakes,—“you
may not remember that Jean Henri Pestalozzi lived and taught in Yverdon.
Your soul is so steeped in illusions; so submerged in the Lethean waters
of the past; so emasculated by thrilling legends, paltry titles, and
ruined castles, that you forget that Pestalozzi was the father of popular
education and the sometime teacher of Froebel, our patron saint.  When
you return to your adored Boston, your faithful constituents in that and
other suburbs of Salem, Massachusetts, will not ask you if you have seen
the Castle of Chillon and the terrace of Corinne, but whether you went to
Yverdon.”

Salemina gave one last fond look at the lake and picked up her Baedeker.
She searched languidly in the Y’s and presently read in a monotonous,
guide-book voice.  “Um—um—um—yes, here it is, ‘Yverdon is sixty-one miles
from Geneva, three hours forty minutes, on the way to Neuchâtel and
Bâle.’  (Neuchâtel is the cheese place; I’d rather go there and we could
take a bag of those Swiss cakes.)  ‘It is on the southern bank of Lake
Neuchâtel at the influx of the Orbe or Thiele.  It occupies the site of
the Roman town of Ebrodunum.  The castle dates from the twelfth century
and was occupied by Pestalozzi as a college.’”

This was at eight, and at nine, leaving Francesca in bed, we were in the
station at Geneva.  Finding that we had time to spare, we went across the
street and bargained for an _in-transit_ luncheon with one of those dull
native shopkeepers who has no idea of American-French.

Your American-French, by the way, succeeds well enough so long as you
practise, in the seclusion of your apartment, certain assorted sentences
which the phrase-book tells you are likely to be needed.  But so far as
my experience goes, it is always the unexpected that happens, and one is
eternally falling into difficulties never encountered by any previous
traveller.

For instance, after purchasing a cold chicken, some French bread, and a
bit of cheese, we added two bottles of lemonade.  We managed to ask for a
glass, from which to drink it, but the man named two francs as the price.
This was more than Salemina could bear.  Her spirit was never dismayed at
any extravagance, but it reared its crested head in the presence of
extortion.  She waxed wroth.  The man stood his ground.  After much
crimination and recrimination I threw myself into the breach.

“Salemina,” said I, “I wish to remark, first: That we have three minutes
to catch the train.  Second: That, occupying the position we do in
America,—you the member of a School Board and I the Honorary President of
a Froebel Society,—we cannot be seen drinking lemonade from a bottle, in
a public railway carriage; it would be too convivial.  Third: You do not
understand this gentleman.  You have studied the language longer than I,
but I have studied it more lately than you, and I am fresher, much
fresher than you.”  (Here Salemina bridled obviously.)  “The man is not
saying that two francs is the price of the glass.  He says that we can
pay him two francs now, and if we will return the glass to-night when we
come home he will give us back one franc fifty centimes.  That is fifty
centimes for the rent of the glass, as I understand it.”

Salemina’s right hand, with the glass in it, dropped nervelessly at her
side.  “If he uttered one single syllable of all that rigmarole, then
Ollendorf is a myth, that’s all I have to say.”

“The gift of tongues is not vouchsafed to all,” I responded with dignity.
“I happen to possess a talent for languages, and I apprehend when I do
not comprehend.”

Salemina was crushed by the weight of my self-respect, and we took the
tumbler, and the train.

It was a cloudless day and a beautiful journey, along the side of the
sapphire lake for miles, and always in full view of the glorious
mountains.  We arrived at Yverdon about noon, and had eaten our luncheon
on the train, so that we should have a long, unbroken afternoon.  We left
our books and heavy wraps in the station with the porter, with whom we
had another slight misunderstanding as to general intentions and terms;
then we started, Salemina carrying the lemonade glass in her hand, with
her guide-book, her red parasol, and her Astrakhan cape.  The tumbler was
a good deal of trouble, but her heart was set on returning it safely to
the Geneva pirate; not so much to reclaim the one franc fifty centimes as
to decide conclusively whether he had ever proposed such restitution.  I
knew her mental processes, so I refused to carry any of her properties;
besides, the pirate had used a good many irregular verbs in his
conversation, and upon due reflection I was a trifle nervous about the
true nature of the bargain.

The Yverdon station fronted on a great open common dotted with a few
trees.  There were a good many mothers and children sitting on the
benches, and a number of young lads playing ball.  The town itself is one
of the quaintest, quietest, and sleepiest in Switzerland.  From 1803 to
1810 it was a place of pilgrimage for philanthropists from all parts of
Europe; for at that time Pestalozzi was at the zenith of his fame, having
under him one hundred and sixty-five pupils from Europe and America, and
thirty-two adult teachers, who were learning his method.

But Yverdon has lost its former greatness now!  Scarcely any English
travellers go there and still fewer Americans.  We fancied that there was
nothing extraordinary in our appearance; nevertheless a small crowd of
children followed at our heels, and the shopkeepers stood at their open
doors and regarded us with intense interest.

“No English spoken here, that is evident,” said Salemina ruefully; “but
you have such a gift for languages you can take the command to-day and
make the blunders and bear the jeers of the public.  You must find out
where the new Pestalozzi Monument is,—where the Château is,—where the
schools are, and whether visitors are admitted,—whether there is a
respectable hotel where we can get dinner,—whether we can get back to
Geneva to-night, whether it’s a fast or a slow train, and what time it
gets there,—whether the methods of Pestalozzi are still
maintained,—whether they know anything about Froebel,—whether they know
what a kindergarten is, and whether they have one in the village.  Some
of these questions will be quite difficult even for you.”

Well, the monument was not difficult to find, at all events.  We accosted
two or three small boys and demanded boldly of one of them, “_Où est le
monument de Pestalozzi_, _s’il vous plaît_?”

He shrugged his shoulders like an American small boy and said vacantly,
“_Je ne sais pas_.”

“Of course he does know,” said Salemina; “he means to be disagreeable; or
else ‘monument’ isn’t monument.”

“Well,” I answered, “there is a monument in the distance, and there
cannot be two in this village.”

Sure enough it was the very one we sought.  It stands in a little open
place quite “in the business heart of the city,”—as we should say in
America, and is an exceedingly fine and impressive bit of sculpture.  The
group of three figures is in bronze and was done by M. Gruet of Paris.

The modelling is strong, the expression of Pestalozzi benign and sweet,
and the trusting upturned faces of the children equally genuine and
attractive.

One side of the pedestal bears the inscription:—

                                     _À_
                                 _Pestalozzi_
                                  1746–1827
                               _Monument érigé_
                         _par souscription populaire_
                                  _MDCCCXC_

On a second side these words are carved in the stone:—

                        _Sauveur des Pauvres à Neuhof_
                         _Père des Orphelins à Stanz_
                            _Fondateur de l’école_
                            _populaire à Burgdorf_
                          _Éducateur de l’humanité_
                                 _à Yverdon_
                 _Tout pour les autres_, _pour lui_,—_rien_!

An older monument erected in 1846 by the Canton of Argovia bears this
same inscription, save that it adds, “Preacher to the people in ‘Leonard
and Gertrude.’  Man.  Christian.  Citizen.  Blessed be his name!”

On the third side of the Yverdon Monument is Pestalozzi’s noble speech,
fine enough indeed, to be cut in stone:—

                            “_J’ai vécu moi-même_
                             _comme un mendiant_,
                            _pour apprendre à des_
                          _mendiants à vivre comme_
                                _des hommes_.”

We sat a long time on the great marble pedestal, gazing into the
benevolent face, and reviewing the simple, self-sacrificing life of the
great educator, and then started on a tour of inspection.  After
wandering through most of the shops, buying photographs and mementoes,
Salemina discovered that she had left the expensive tumbler in one of
them.  After a long discussion as to whether tumbler was masculine or
feminine, and as to whether “_Ai-je laissé un verre ici_?” or “_Est-ce
que j’ai laissé un verre ici_?” was the proper query, we retraced our
steps, Salemina asking in one shop, “_Excusez-moi_, _je vous prie_, _mais
ai-je laissé un verre ici_?”,—and I in the next, “_Je demands pardon_,
_Madame_, _est-ce que j’ai laissé un verre dans ce magasin-ci_?—_J’en ai
perdu un_, somewhere.”  Finally we found it, and in response not to mine
but to Salemina’s question, so that she was superior and obnoxious for
several minutes.

Our next point of interest was the old castle, which is still a public
school.  Finding the caretaker, we visited first the museum and library—a
small collection of curiosities, books, and mementoes, various portraits
of Pestalozzi and his wife, manuscripts and so forth.  The simple-hearted
woman who did the honours was quite overcome by our knowledge of and
interest in her pedagogical hero, but she did not return the compliment.
I asked her if the townspeople knew about Friedrich Froebel, but she
looked blank.

“Froebel?  Froebel?” she asked; “_qui est-ce_?”

“_Mais_, _Madame_,” I said eloquently, “_c’était un grand homme_!  _Un
héros_!  _Le plus grand élève de Pestalozzi_!  _Aussi grand que
Pestalozzi soi-même_!”

(“PLUS grand!  Why don’t you say _plus grand_?” murmured Salemina
loyally.)

“_Je ne sais_!” she returned, with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders.
“_Je ne sais_!  _Il y a des autres_, _je crois_; _mais moi_, _je connais
Pestalozzi_, _c’est assez_!”

All the younger children had gone home, but she took us through the empty
schoolrooms, which were anything but attractive.  We found an unhappy
small boy locked in one of them.  I slipped behind the concierge to chat
with him, for he was so exactly like all other small boys in disgrace
that he made me homesick.

“_Tu étais méchant_, _n’est ce-pas_?” I whispered consolingly; “_mais tu
seras sage demain_, _j’en suis sûre_!”

I thought this very pretty, but he wriggled from under my benevolent
hand, saying “_Va_!” (which I took to be, “Go ’long, you!”) “_je n’étais
méchant aujourd’hui et je ne serai pas sage demain_!”

I asked the concierge if the general methods of Pestalozzi were still
used in the schools of Yverdon, “_Mais certainement_!” she replied as we
went into a room where twenty to thirty girls of ten years were studying.
There were three pleasant windows looking out into the street; the
ordinary platform and ordinary teacher’s table, with the ordinary teacher
(in an extraordinary state of coma) behind it; and rather rude desks and
seats for the children, but not a single ornament, picture, map, or case
of objects and specimens around the room.  The children were nice, clean,
pleasant, stolid little things with braided hair and pinafores.  The sole
decoration of the apartment was a highly-coloured chart that we had
noticed on the walls of all the other schoolrooms.  Feeling that this
must be a sacred relic, and that it probably illustrated some of the
Pestalozzian foundation principles, I walked up to it reverently,

“_Qu’est-ce-que c’est cela_, _Madame_?” I inquired, rather puzzled by its
appearance.

“_C’est la méthode de Pestalozzi_,” the teacher replied absently.

I wished that we kindergarten people could get Froebel’s educational idea
in such a snug, portable shape, and drew nearer to gaze at it.  I can
give you a very complete description of the pictures from memory, as I
copied the titles _verbatim et literatim_.  The whole chart was a
powerful moral object-lesson on the dangers of incendiarism and the evils
of reckless disobedience.  It was printed appropriately in the most lurid
colours, and divided into nine tableaux.

These were named as follows:—



I—LA VRAIE GAÎTÉ


Twelve or fifteen boys and girls are playing together so happily and
innocently that their good angels sing for joy.



II—UNE PROPOSITION FATALE!


Suddenly “_le petit_ Charles” says to his comrades, “Come! let us build a
fire!”  _Le petit_ Charles is a typical infant villain and is surrounded
at once by other incendiary spirits all in accord with his insidious
plans.



III—LA PROTESTATION


The Good Little Marie, a Sunday-school heroine of the true type,
approaches the group and, gazing heavenward, remarks that it is wicked to
play with matches.  The G. L. M. is of saintly presence,—so clean and
well groomed that you feel inclined to push her into a puddle.  Her hands
are not full of vulgar toys and sweetmeats, like those of the other
children, but are extended graciously as if she were in the habit of
pronouncing benedictions.



IV—INSOUCIANCE!


_Le petit_ Charles puts his evil little paw in his dangerous pockets and
draws out a wicked lucifer match, saying with abominable indifference,
“Bah! what do we care?  We’re going to build a fire, whatever you say.
Come on, boys!”



V—UN PLAISIR DANGEREUX!


The boys “come on.”  Led by “_le petit vilain_ Charles” they light a
dangerous little fire in a dangerous little spot.  Their faces shine with
unbridled glee.  The G. L. M. retires to a distance with a few saintly
followers, meditating whether she shall run and tell her mother.  “_Le
petit_ Paul,” an infant of three summers, draws near the fire, attracted
by the cheerful blaze.



VI—MALHEUR ET INEXPÉRIENCE


_Le petit_ Paul somehow or other tumbles into the fire.  Nothing but a
desire to influence posterity as an awful example could have induced him
to take this unnecessary step, but having walked in he stays in, like an
infant John Rogers.  The bad boys are so horror-stricken it does not
occur to them to pull him out, and the G. L. M. is weeping over the sin
of the world.



VII—TROP TARD!!


The male parent of _le petit_ Paul is seen rushing down an adjacent Alp.
He leads a flock of frightened villagers who have seen the smoke and
heard the wails of their offspring.  As the last shred of _le petit_ Paul
has vanished in said smoke, the observer notes that the poor father is
indeed “too late.”



VIII—DESESPOIR!!


The despair of all concerned would draw tears from the dryest eye.  Only
one person wears a serene expression, and that is the G. L. M., who is
evidently thinking: “Perhaps they will listen to me the next time.”



IX—LA FIN!


The charred remains of _le petit_ Paul are being carried to the cemetery.
The G. L. M. heads the procession in a white veil.  In a prominent place
among the mourners is “_le pauvre petit_ Charles,” so bowed with grief
and remorse that he can scarcely be recognized.

                                * * * * *

It was a telling sermon!  If I had been a child I should never have
looked at a match again; and old as I was, I could not, for days
afterwards, regard a box of them without a shudder.  I thought that
probably Yverdon had been visited in the olden time by a series of
disastrous holocausts, all set by small boys, and that this was the
powerful antidote presented; so I asked the teacher whether incendiarism
was a popular failing in that vicinity and whether the chart was one of a
series inculcating various moral lessons.  I don’t know whether she
understood me or not, but she said no, it was “_la méthode de
Pestalozzi_.”

Just at this juncture she left the room, apparently to give the pupils a
brief study-period, and simultaneously the concierge was called
downstairs by a crying baby.  A bright idea occurred to me and I went
hurriedly into the corridor where my friend was taking notes.

“Salemina,” said I, “here is an opportunity of a lifetime!  We ought to
address these children in their native tongue.  It will be something to
talk about in educational pow-wows.  They do not know that we are
distinguished visitors, but we know it.  A female member of a School
Board and the Honorary President of a Froebel Society owe a duty to their
constituents.  You go in and tell them who and what I am and make a
speech in French.  Then I’ll tell them who and what you are and make
another speech.”

Salemina assumed a modest violet attitude, declined the honour
absolutely, and intimated that there were persons who would prefer
talking in a language they didn’t know rather than to remain sensibly
silent.

However the plan struck me as being so fascinating that I went back
alone, looked all ways to see if any one were coming, mounted the
platform, cleared my throat, and addressed the awe-struck youngsters in
the following words.  I will spare you the French, but you will perceive
by the construction of the sentences, that I uttered only those
sentiments possible in an early stage of language-study.

“My dear children,” I began, “I live many thousand miles across the ocean
in America.  You do not know me and I do not know you, but I do know all
about your good Pestalozzi and I love him.”

“_Il est mort_!” interpolated one offensive little girl in the front row.

Salemina tittered audibly in the corridor, and I crossed the room and
closed the door.  I think the children expected me to put the key in my
pocket and then murder them and stuff them into the stove.

“I know perfectly well that he is dead, my child,” I replied
winningly,—“it is his life, his memory that I love.—And once upon a time,
long ago, a great man named Friedrich Froebel came here to Yverdon and
studied with your great Pestalozzi.  It was he who made kindergartens for
little children, _jardins des enfants_, you know.  Some of your
grand-mothers remember Froebel, I think?”

Hereupon two of the smaller chits shouted some sort of a negation which I
did not in the least comprehend, but which from large American experience
I took to be, “My grandmother doesn’t!”  “My grandmother doesn’t!”

Seeing that the others regarded me favourably, I continued, “It is
because I love Pestalozzi and Froebel, that I came here to day to see
your beautiful new monument.  I have just bought a photograph taken on
that day last year when it was first uncovered.  It shows the flags and
the decorations, the flowers and garlands, and ever so many children
standing in the sunshine, dressed in white and singing hymns of praise.
You are all in the picture, I am sure!”

This was a happy stroke.  The children crowded about me and showed me
where they were standing in the photograph, what they wore on the august
occasion, how the bright sun made them squint, how a certain
_malheureuse_ Henriette couldn’t go to the festival because she was ill.

I could understand very little of their magpie chatter, but it was a
proud moment.  Alone, unaided, a stranger in a strange land, I had gained
the attention of children while speaking in a foreign tongue.  Oh, if I
had only left the door open that Salemina might have witnessed this
triumph!  But hearing steps in the distance, I said hastily,
“_Asseyez-vous_, _mes enfants_, _tout-de-suite_!”  My tone was so
authoritative that they obeyed instantly, and when the teacher entered it
was as calm as the millennium.

We rambled through the village for another hour, dined at a quaint little
inn, gave a last look at the monument, and left for Geneva at seven
o’clock in the pleasant September twilight.  Arriving a trifle after ten,
somewhat weary in body and slightly anxious in mind, I followed Salemina
into the tiny cake-shop across the street from the station.  She returned
the tumbler, and the man, who seemed to consider it an unexpected
courtesy, thanked us volubly.  I held out my hand and reminded him
timidly of the one franc fifty centimes.

He inquired what I meant.  I explained.  He laughed scornfully.  I
remonstrated.  He asked me if I thought him an imbecile.  I answered no,
and wished that I knew the French for several other terms nearer the
truth, but equally offensive.  Then we retired, having done our part, as
good Americans, to swell the French revenues, and that was the end of our
day in Pestalozzi-town; not the end, however, of the lemonade glass
episode, which was always a favourite story in Salemina’s repertory.



II
PENELOPE IN VENICE


    This noble citie doth in a manner chalenge this at my hands, that I
    should describe her also as well as the other cities I saw in my
    journey, partly because she gave me most louing and kinde
    entertainment for the sweetest time (I must needes confesse) that
    euer I spent in my life; and partly for that she ministered vnto me
    more variety of remarkable and delicious objects than mine eyes euer
    suruayed in any citie before, or euer shall . . . the fairest Lady,
    yet the richest Paragon and Queene of Christendome.

                                                _Coryat’s Crudities_: 1611



I


                                                          VENICE, _May_ 12
                                                     HOTEL PAOLO ANAFESTO.

I HAVE always wished that I might have discovered Venice for myself.  In
the midst of our mad acquisition and frenzied dissemination of knowledge,
these latter days, we miss how many fresh and exquisite sensations!  Had
I a daughter, I should like to inform her mind on every other possible
point and keep her in absolute ignorance of Venice.  Well do I realize
that it would be impracticable, although no more so, after all, than
Rousseau’s plan of educating Émile, which certainly obtained a wide
hearing and considerable support in its time.  No, tempting as it would
be, it would be difficult to carry out such a theory in these days of
logic and common sense, and in some moment of weakness I might possibly
succumb and tell her all about it, for fear that some stranger, whom she
might meet at a ball, would have the pleasure of doing it first.

The next best woman-person in the world with whom to see Venice, barring
the lovely non-existent daughter, is Salemina.

It is our first visit, but, alas! we are, nevertheless, much better
informed than I could wish.  Salemina’s mind is particularly well
furnished, but, luckily she cannot always remember the point wished for
at the precise moment of need; so that, taking her all in all, she is
nearly as agreeable as if she were ignorant.  Her knowledge never bulks
heavily and insistently in the foreground or middle-distance, like that
of Miss Celia Van Tyck, but remains as it should, in the haze of a
melting and delicious perspective.  She has plenty of enthusiasms, too,
and Miss Van Tyck has none.  Imagine our plight at being accidentally
linked to that encyclopædic lady in Italy!  She is an old acquaintance of
Salemina’s and joined us in Florence, where she had been staying for a
month, waiting for her niece Kitty Schuyler,—Kitty Copley now,—who is in
Spain with her husband.

Miss Van Tyck would be endurable in Sheffield, Glasgow, Lyons, Genoa,
Kansas City, Pompeii, or Pittsburg, but she should never have blighted
Venice with her presence.  She insisted, however, on accompanying us, and
I can only hope that the climate and associations will have a relaxing
effect on her habits of thought and speech.  When she was in Florence,
she was so busy in “reading up” Verona and Padua that she had no time for
the Uffizi Gallery.  In Verona and Padua she was absorbed in Hare’s
“Venice,” vaccinating herself, so to speak, with information, that it
might not steal upon, and infect her, unawares.  If there is anything
that Miss Van abhors, it is knowing a thing without knowing that she
knows it; while for me, the most charming knowledge is the sort that
comes by unconscious absorption, like the free grace of God.

We intended to enter Venice in orthodox fashion, by moonlight, and began
to consult about trains when we were in Milan.  The porter said that
there was only one train between the eight and the twelve, and gave me a
pamphlet on the subject, but Salemina objects to an early start, and Miss
Van refuses to arrive anywhere after dusk, so it is fortunate that the
distances are not great.

They have a curious way of reckoning time in Italy, for I found that the
train leaving Milan at eight-thirty was scheduled to arrive at ten
minutes past eighteen.

“You could never sit up until then, Miss Van,” I said; “but, on the other
hand, if we leave later, to please Salemina, say at ten in the morning,
we do not arrive until eight minutes before twenty-one!  I haven’t the
faintest idea what time that will really be, but it sounds too late for
three defenceless women—all of them unmarried—to be prowling about in a
strange city.”

It proved on investigation, however, that twenty-one o’clock is only nine
in Christian language (that is, one’s mother tongue), so we united in
choosing that hour as being the most romantic possible, and there was a
full yellow moon as we arrived in the railway station.  My heart beat
high with joy and excitement, for I succeeded in establishing Miss Van
with Salemina in one gondola, while I took all the luggage in another,
ridding myself thus cleverly of the disenchanting influence of Miss Van’s
company.

“Do come with us, Penelope,” she said, as we issued from the portico of
the station and heard, instead of the usual cab-drivers’ pandemonium,
only the soft lapping of waves against the marble steps—“Do come with us,
Penelope, and let us enter ‘dangerous and sweet-charmed Venice’ together.
It does, indeed, look a ‘veritable sea-bird’s nest.’”

She had informed me before, in Milan, that Cassiodorus, Theodoric’s
secretary, had thus styled Venice, but somehow her slightest remark is
out of key.  I can always see it printed in small type in a footnote at
the bottom of the page, and I always wish to skip it, as I do other
footnotes, and annotations, and marginal notes and addenda.  If Miss
Van’s mother had only thought of it, Addenda would have been a delightful
Christian name for her, and much more appropriate than Celia.

If I should be asked on bended knees, if I should be reminded that every
intelligent and sympathetic creature brings a pair of fresh eyes to the
study of the beautiful, if it should be affirmed that the new note is as
likely to be struck by the ’prentice as by the master hand, if I should
be assured that my diary would never be read, I should still refuse to
write my first impressions of Venice.  My best successes in life have
been achieved by knowing what not to do, and I consider it the finest
common sense to step modestly along in beaten paths, not stirring up,
even there, any more dust than is necessary.  If my friends and
acquaintances ever go to Venice, let them read their Ruskin, their
Goethe, their Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth, their Rogers, Gautier,
Michelet, their Symonds and Howells, not forgetting old “Coryat’s
Crudities,” and be thankful I spared them mine.

It was the eve of Ascension Day, and a yellow May moon was hanging in the
blue.  I wished with all my heart that it were a little matter of seven
or eight hundred years earlier in the world’s history, for then the
people would have been keeping vigil and making ready for that nuptial
ceremony of Ascension-tide when the Doge married Venice to the sea.  Why
can we not make pictures nowadays, as well as paint them?  We are
banishing colour as fast as we can, clothing our buildings, our ships,
ourselves, in black and white and sober hues, and if it were not for
dear, gaudy Mother Nature, who never puts her palette away, but goes on
painting her reds and greens and blues and yellows with the same lavish
hand, we should have a sad and discreet universe indeed.

But so long as we have more or less stopped making pictures, is it not
fortunate that the great ones of the olden time have been eternally fixed
on the pages of the world’s history, there to glow and charm and burn for
ever and a day?  To be able to recall those scenes of marvellous beauty
so vividly that one lives through them again in fancy, and reflect, that
since we have stopped being picturesque and fascinating, we have learned,
on the whole, to behave much better, is as delightful a trend of thought
as I can imagine, and it was mine as I floated toward the Piazza of San
Marco in my gondola.

I could see the Doge descend the Giant’s Stairs, and issue from the gate
of the Ducal Palace.  I could picture the great Bucentaur as it reached
the open beyond the line of the tide.  I could see the white-mitred
Patriarch walking from his convent on the now deserted isle of Sant’
Elena to the shore where his barge lay waiting to join the glittering
procession.

And then there floated before my entranced vision the princely figure of
the Doge taking the Pope-blessed ring, and, advancing to the little
gallery behind his throne on the Bucentaur, raising it high, and dropping
it into the sea.  I could almost hear the faint splash as it sank in the
golden waves, and hear, too, the sonorous words of the old wedding
ceremony: “_Desponsamus te_, _Mare_, _in signum veri perpetuique
dominii_!”

Then when the shouts of mirth and music had died away and the Bucentaur
and its train had drifted back into the lagoon, the blue sea, new-wedded,
slept through the night with the May moon on her breast and the silent
stars for sentinels.



II


                                                    LA GIUDECCA, _May_ 15,
                                                                CASA ROSA.

Not for a moment have we regretted leaving our crowded, conventional
hotel in Venice proper, for these rooms in a house on the Giudecca.  The
very vision of Miss Celia Van Tyck sitting on a balcony surrounded by a
group of friends from the various Boston suburbs, the vision of Miss
Celia Van Tyck melting into delicious distance with every movement of our
gondola, even this was sufficient for Salemina’s happiness and mine, had
it been accompanied by no more tangible joys.

This island, hardly ten minutes by gondola from the Piazza of San Marco,
was the summer resort of the Doges, you will remember, and there they
built their pleasure-houses, with charming gardens at the back—gardens
the confines of which stretched to the Laguna Viva.  Our Casa Rosa is one
of the few old _palazzi_ left, for many of them have been turned into
granaries.

We should never have found this romantic dwelling by ourselves; the
Little Genius brought us here.  The Little Genius is Miss Ecks, who
draws, and paints, and carves, and models in clay, preaching and
practising the brotherhood of man and the sisterhood of woman in the
intervals; Miss Ecks, who is the custodian of all the talents and most of
the virtues, and the invincible foe of sordid common sense and financial
prosperity.  Miss Ecks met us by chance in the Piazza and breathlessly
explained that she was searching for paying guests to be domiciled under
the roof of Numero Sessanta, Giudecca.  She thought we should enjoy
living there, or at least she did very much, and she had tried it for two
years; but our enjoyment was not the special point in question.  The real
reason and desire for our immediate removal was that the padrona might
pay off a vexatious and encumbering mortgage which gave great anxiety to
everybody concerned, besides interfering seriously with her own creative
work.

“You must come this very day,” exclaimed Miss Ecks.  “The Madonna knows
that we do not desire boarders, but you are amiable and considerate, as
well as financially sound and kind, and will do admirably.  Padrona
Angela is very unhappy, and I cannot model satisfactorily until the house
is on a good paying basis and she is putting money in the bank toward the
payment of the mortgage.  You can order your own meals, entertain as you
like, and live precisely as if you were in your own home.”

The Little Genius is small, but powerful, with a style of oratory
somewhat illogical, but always convincing at the moment.  There were a
good many trifling objections to our leaving Miss Van Tyck and the hotel,
but we scarcely remembered them until we and our luggage were skimming
across the space of water that divides Venice from our own island.

We explored the cool, wide, fragrant spaces of the old _casa_, with its
outer walls of faded, broken stucco, all harmonized to a pinkish yellow
by the suns and winds of the bygone centuries.  We admired its lofty
ceilings, its lovely carvings and frescoes, its decrepit but beautiful
furniture, and then we mounted to the top, where the Little Genius has a
sort of eagle’s eyrie, a floor to herself under the eaves, from the
windows of which she sees the sunlight glimmering on the blue water by
day, and the lights of her adored Venice glittering by night.  The walls
are hung with fragments of marble and wax and stucco and clay; here a
beautiful foot, or hand, or dimple-cleft chin; there an exquisitely
ornate façade, a miniature campanile, or a model of some ancient
_palazzo_ or _chiesa_.

The little bedroom off at one side is draped in coarse white cotton, and
is simple enough for a nun.  Not a suggestion there of the fripperies of
a fine lady’s toilet, but, in their stead, heads of cherubs, wings of
angels, slender bell-towers, friezes of acanthus leaves,—beauty of line
and form everywhere, and not a hint of colour save in the riotous bunches
of poppies and oleanders that lie on the broad window-seats or stand
upright in great blue jars.

Here the Little Genius lives, like the hermit crab that she calls
herself; here she dwells apart from kith and kin, her mind and heart and
miracle-working hands taken captive by the charms of the siren city of
the world.

When we had explored Casa Rosa from turret to foundation stone we went
into the garden at the rear of the house—a garden of flowers and
grape-vines, of vegetables and fruit-trees, of birds and bee-hives, a
full acre of sweet summer sounds and odours, stretching to the lagoon,
which sparkled and shimmered under the blue Italian skies.  The garden
completed our subjugation, and here we stay until we are removed by
force, or until the padrona’s mortgage is paid unto the last penny, when
I feel that the Little Genius will hang a banner on the outer ramparts, a
banner bearing the relentless inscription: “No paying guests allowed on
these premises until further notice.”

Our domestics are unique and interesting.  Rosalia, the cook, is a
graceful person with brown eyes, wavy hair, and long lashes, and when she
is coaxing her charcoal fire with a primitive fan of cock’s feathers, her
cheeks as pink as oleanders, the Little Genius leads us to the kitchen
door and bids us gaze at her beauty.  We are suitably enthralled at the
moment, but we suffer an inevitable reaction when the meal is served, and
sometimes long for a plain cook.

Peppina is the second maid, and as arrant a coquette as lives in all
Italy.  Her picture has been painted on more than one fisherman’s sail,
for it is rumoured that she has been six times betrothed and she is still
under twenty.  The unscrupulous little flirt rids herself of her suitors,
after they become a weariness to her, by any means, fair or foul, and her
capricious affections are seldom good for more than three months.  Her
own loves have no deep roots, but she seems to have the power of arousing
in others furious jealousy and rage and a very delirium of pleasure.  She
remains light, gay, joyous, unconcerned, but she shakes her lovers as the
Venetian thunderstorms shake the lagoons.  Not long ago she tired of her
chosen swain, Beppo the gardener, and one morning the padrona’s ducks
were found dead.  Peppina, her eyes dewy with crocodile tears, told the
padrona that although the suspicion almost rent her faithful heart in
twain, she must needs think Beppo the culprit.  The local detective, or
police officer, came and searched the unfortunate Beppo’s humble room,
and found no incriminating poison, but did discover a pound or two of
contraband tobacco, whereupon he was marched off to court, fined eighty
francs, and jilted by his perfidious lady-love, who speedily transferred
her affections.  If she had been born in the right class and the right
century, Peppina would have made an admirable and brilliant Borgia.

Beppo sent a stinging reproof in verse to Peppina by the new gardener,
and the Little Genius read it to us, to show the poetic instinct of the
discarded lover, and how well he had selected his rebuke from the store
of popular verses known to gondoliers and fishermen of Venice:—

    “_No te fidar de l’ albaro che piega_,
       _Ne de la dona quando la te giura_.
    _La te impromete_, _e po la te denega_;
    _No te fidar de l’ albaro che piega_.”

    (“Trust not the mast that bends.
       Trust not a woman’s oath;
    She’ll swear to you, and there it ends,
    Trust not the mast that bends.”)

Beppo, Salemina, and I were talking together one morning,—just a casual
meeting in the street,—when Peppina passed us.  She had a market-basket
in each hand, and was in her gayest attire, a fresh crimson rose between
her teeth being the last and most fetching touch to her toilet.  She gave
a dainty shrug of her shoulders as she glanced at Beppo’s hanging head
and hungry eye, and then with a light laugh hummed, “Trust not the mast
that bends,” the first line of the poem that Beppo had sent her.

“It is better to let her go,” I said to him consolingly.

“_Si_, _madama_; but”—with a profound sigh—“she is very pretty.”

So she is, and although my idea of the fitness of things is somewhat
unsettled when Peppina serves our dinner wearing a yoke and sleeves of
coarse lace with her blue cotton gown, and a bunch of scarlet poppies in
her hair, I can do nothing in the way of discipline because Salemina
approves of her as part of the picture.  Instead of trying to develop
some moral sense in the little creature, Salemina asked her to alternate
roses and oleanders with poppies in her hair, and gave her a coral comb
and ear-rings on her birthday.  Thus does a warm climate undermine the
strict virtue engendered by Boston east winds.

Francesco—Cecco for short—is general assistant in the kitchen, and a good
gondolier to boot.  When our little family is increased by more than
three guests at dinner, Cecco is pressed into dining-room service, and
becomes under-butler to Peppina.  Here he is not at ease.  He scrubs his
tanned face until it shines like San Domingo mahogany, brushes his black
hair until the gloss resembles a varnish, and dons coarse white cotton
gloves to conceal his work-stained hands and give an air of fashion and
elegance to the banquet.  His embarrassment is equalled only by his
earnestness and devotion to the dreaded task.  Our American guests do not
care what we have upon our bill of fare when they can steal a glance at
the intensely dramatic and impassioned Cecco taking Pina into a corner of
the dining-room and, seizing her hand, despairingly endeavour to find out
his next duty.  Then, with incredibly stiff back, he extends his right
hand to the guest, as if the proffered plate held a scorpion instead of a
tidbit.  There is an extra butler to be obtained when the function is a
sufficiently grand one to warrant the expense, but as he wears carpet
slippers and Pina flirts with him from soup to fruit, we find ourselves
no better served on the whole, and prefer Cecco, since he transforms an
ordinary meal into a beguiling comedy.

“What does it matter, after all?” asks Salemina.  “It is not life we are
living, for the moment, but an act of light opera, with the scenes all
beautifully painted, the music charming and melodious, the costumes gay
and picturesque.  We are occupying exceptionally good seats, and we have
no responsibility whatever: we left it in Boston, where it is probably
rolling itself larger and larger, like a snowball; but who cares?”

“Who cares, indeed?” I echo.  We are here not to form our characters or
to improve our minds, but to let them relax; and when we see anything
which opposses the Byronic ideal of Venice (the use of the concertina as
the national instrument having this tendency), we deliberately close our
eyes to it.  I have a proper regard for truth in matters of fact like
statistics.  I want to know the exact population of a town, the precise
total of children of school age, the number of acres in the Yellowstone
Park, and the amount of wheat exported in 1862; but when it comes to
things touching my imagination I resent the intrusion of some laboriously
excavated truth, after my point of view is all nicely settled, and my
saints, heroes, and martyrs are all comfortably and picturesquely
arranged in their respective niches or on their proper pedestals.

When the Man of Fact demolishes some pretty fallacy like William Tell and
the apple, he should be required to substitute something equally
delightful and more authentic.  But he never does.  He is a useful but
uninteresting creature, the Man of Fact, and for a travelling companion
or a neighbour at dinner give me the Man of Fancy, even if he has not a
grain of exact knowledge concealed about his person.  It seems to me
highly important that the foundations of Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester,
or Spokane Falls should be rooted in certainty; but Verona, Padua, and
Venice—well, in my opinion, they should be rooted in Byron and Ruskin and
Shakespeare.



III


                                                      CASA ROSA, _May_ 18.

Such a fanfare of bells as greeted our ears on the morning of our first
awakening in Casa Rosa!

“Rise at once and dress quickly, Salemina!” I said.  “Either an heir has
been born to the throne, or a foreign Crown Prince has come to visit
Venice, or perhaps a Papal Bull is loose in the Piazza San Marco.
Whatever it is, we must not miss it, as I am keeping a diary.”

But Peppina entered with a jug of hot water, and assured us that there
were no more bells than usual; so we lay drowsily in our comfortable
little beds, gazing at the frescoes on the ceiling.

One difficulty about the faithful study of Italian frescoes is that they
can never be properly viewed unless one is extended at full-length on the
flat of one’s honourable back (as they might say in Japan), a position
not suitable in a public building.

The fresco on my bedroom ceiling is made mysteriously attractive by a
wilderness of mythologic animals and a crowd of cherubic heads, wings and
legs, on a background of clouds; the mystery being that the number of
cherubic heads does not correspond with the number of extremities, one or
two cherubs being a wing or a leg short.  Whatever may be their
limitations in this respect, the old painters never denied their cherubs
cheek, the amount of adipose tissue uniformly provided in that quarter
being calculated to awake envy and jealousy on the part of the
predigested-food-babies pictured in the American magazine advertisements.

Padrona Angela furnishes no official key to the ceiling-paintings of Casa
Rosa; and yesterday, during the afternoon call of four pretty American
girls, they asked and obtained our permission to lie upon the marble
floor and compete for a prize to be given to the person who should offer
the cleverest interpretation of the symbolisms in the frescoes.  It may
be stated that the entire difference of opinion proved that mythologic
art is apt to be misunderstood.  After deciding in the early morning what
our bedroom ceiling is intended to represent (a decision made and unmade
every day since our arrival), Salemina and I make a leisurely toilet and
then seat ourselves at one of the open windows for breakfast.

The window itself looks on the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile, St.
Theodore and the Lion of St. Mark’s being visible through a maze of
fishing-boats and sails, some of these artistically patched in white and
yellow blocks, or orange and white stripes, while others of grey have
smoke-coloured figures in the tops and corners.

Sometimes the broad stone-flagging pavement bordering the canal is busy
with people: gondoliers, boys with nets for crab-catching, ’longshoremen,
and _facchini_.  This is when ships are loading or unloading, but at
other times we look upon a tranquil scene.

Peppina brings in _dell’ acqua bollente_, and I make the coffee in the
little copper coffee-pot we bought in Paris, while Salemina heats the
milk over the alcohol-lamp, which is the most precious treasure in her
possession.

The butter and eggs are brought every morning before breakfast, and
nothing is more delicious than our freshly churned pat of solidified
cream, without salt, which is sweeter than honey in the comb.  The cows
are milked at dawn on the campagna, and the milk is brought into Venice
in large cans.  In the early morning, when the light is beginning to
steal through the shutters, one hears the tinkling of a mule’s bell and
the rattling of the milk-cans, and, if one runs to the window, may see
the _contadini_, looking, in their sheepskin trousers, like brethren of
John the Baptist, driving through the streets and delivering the milk at
the _vaccari_.  It is then heated, the cream raised and churned, and the
pats of butter, daintily set on green leaves, delivered for a
seven-o’clock breakfast.

Finally _la colazione_ is spread on our table by the window.  A neat
white cloth covers it, and we have gold-rimmed plates and cups of
delicate china.  There is a pot of honey, an egg _à la coque_ for each, a
plate of brown and white bread, on some days a dish of scarlet cherries
on a bed of green, on others a mound of luscious berries in their frills;
sometimes, too, we have a bowl of tiny wild strawberries that seem to
have grown with their faces close pressed to the flowers, so sweet and
fragrant are they.

This _al fresco_ morning meal makes a delicious prelude to our
comfortable _déjeuner à la fourchette_ at one o’clock, when the Little
Genius, if not absorbed in some unusually exacting piece of work, joins
us and gives zest to the repast.  Her own breakfast, she explains, is a
_déjeuner à la_ thumb, the sort enjoyed by the peasant who carves a bit
of bread and cheese in his hand, and she promises us a sight, some
leisure day, of a certain _déjeuner à la_ toothpick celebrated for the
moment among the artists.  A mysterious painter, shabby, but of a certain
elegance and distinction even in his poverty, comes daily at noon into a
well-known restaurant.  He buys for five sous a glass of chianti, a roll
for one sou, and with stately grace bestows another sou upon the waiter
who serves him.  These preparations made, he breaks the roll in small
bits, and poising them delicately on the point of a wooden toothpick, he
dips them in wine before eating them.

“This may be a frugal repast,” he has an air of saying, “but it is at
least refined, and no man would dare insult me by asking me whether or
not I leave the table satisfied.”



IV


                                                      CASA ROSA, _May_ 20.

One of the pleasantest sights to be noted from our windows at breakfast
time is Angelo making ready our private gondola for the day.  Angelo
himself is not attractive to the eye by reason of the silliest possible
hat for a man of forty-five whose hair is slightly grey.  It is a white
straw sailor, with a turned-up brim, a blue ribbon encircling the crown,
and a white elastic under the chin; such a hat as you would expect to see
crowning the flaxen curls of mother’s darling boy of four.

I love to look at the gondola, with its solemn caracoling like that of a
possible water-horse, of which the arched neck is the graceful _ferro_.
This is a strange, weird, beautiful thing when the black gondola sways a
little from side to side in the moonlight.  Angelo keeps ours polished so
that it shines like silver in the morning sun, and he has an exquisite
conscientiousness in rubbing every trace of brass about his precious
craft.  He has a little box under the prow full of bottles and brushes
and rags.  The cushions are laid on the bank of the canal; the pieces of
carpet are taken out, shaken, and brushed, and the narrow strips are laid
over the curved wood ends of the gondola to keep the sun from cracking
them.  The _felze_, or cabin, is freed of all dust, the tiny four-legged
stools and the carved chair are wiped off, and occasionally a thin coat
of black paint is needed here and there, and a touching-up of the gold
lines which relieve the sombreness.  The last thing to be done is to
polish the vases and run back into the garden for nosegays, and when
these are disposed in their niches on each side of the _felze_, Angelo
waves his infantile hat gaily to us at the window, and smiles his
readiness to be off.

On other mornings we watch the loading and unloading of grain.  There are
many small boats always in view, their orange sails patched with all
sorts of emblems and designs in a still deeper colour, and day before
yesterday a large ship appeared at our windows and attached itself to our
very doorsteps, much to the wrath of Salemina, who finds the poetry of
existence much disturbed under the new conditions.  All is life and
motion now.  The men are stripped naked to the waist, with bright
handkerchiefs on their heads, and, in many cases, others tied over their
mouths.  Each has a thick wisp of short twine strings tucked into his
waistband.  The bags are weighed by one, who takes out or puts in a
shovelful of grain, as the case may be.  Then the carrier ties up his bag
with one of the twine strings, two other men lift it to his shoulder,
while a boy removes a pierced piece of copper from a long wire and gives
it to him, this copper being handed in turn to still another man, who
apparently keeps the account.  This not uninteresting, indeed, but sordid
and monotonous operation began before eight yesterday morning and even
earlier to-day, obliging Salemina to decline strawberries and eat her
breakfast with her back to the window.

This afternoon at four the injured lady departed on a tour in Miss
Palett’s gondola.  Miss Palett is a water-colourist who has lived in
Venice for five years and speaks the language “like a native.”  (You are
familiar with the phrase, and perhaps familiar, too, with the native like
whom they speak.)

Returning after tea, Salemina was observed to radiate a kind of subdued
triumph, which proved on investigation to be due to the fact that she had
met the _comandante_ of the offending ship and that he had gallantly
promised to remove it without delay.  I cannot help feeling that the
proper time for departure had come; but this destroys the story and robs
the _comandante_ of his reputation for chivalry.

As Miss Palett’s gondola neared the grain-ship, Salemina, it seems, spied
the commanding officer pacing the deck.

“See,” she said to her companion, “there is a gang-plank from the side of
the ship to that small flat-boat.  We could perfectly well step from our
gondola to the flat-boat and then go up and ask politely if we may be
allowed to examine the interesting grain-ship.  While you are
interviewing the first officer about the foreign countries he has seen, I
will ask the _comandante_ if he will kindly tie his boat a little farther
down on the island.  No, that won’t do, for he may not speak English; we
should have an awkward scene, and I should defeat my own purposes.  You
are so fluent in Italian, suppose you call upon him with my card and let
me stay in the gondola.”

“What shall I say to the man?” objected Miss Palett.

“Oh, there’s plenty to say,” returned Salemina.  “Tell him that Penelope
and I came over from the hotel on the Grand Canal only that we might have
perfect quiet.  Tell him that if I had not unpacked my largest trunk, I
should not stay an instant longer.  Tell him that his great, bulky ship
ruins the view; that it hides the most beautiful church and part of the
Doge’s Palace.  Tell him that I might as well have stayed at home and
built a cottage on the dock in Boston Harbour.  Tell him that his
steam-whistles, his anchor-droppings, and his constant loadings or
unloadings give us headache.  Tell him that seven or eight of his
sailormen brought clean garments and scrubbing brushes and took their
bath at our front entrance.  Tell him that one of them, almost absolutely
nude, instead of running away to put on more clothing, offered me his arm
to assist me into the gondola.”

Miss Palett demurred at the subject-matter of some of these remarks, and
affirmed that she could not translate others into proper Italian.  She
therefore proposed that Salemina should write a few dignified protests on
her visiting-card, and her own part would be to instruct the man in the
flat-boat to deliver it at once to his superior officer.  The
_comandante_ spoke no English,—of that fact the sailorman in the
flat-boat was certain,—but as the gondola moved away, the ladies could
see the great man pondering over the little piece of pasteboard, and it
was plain that he was impressed.  Herein lies perhaps a seed of truth.
The really great thing triumphs over all obstacles, and reaches the
common mind and heart in some way, delivering its message we know not
how.

Salemina’s card teemed with interesting information, at least to the
initiated.  Her surname was in itself a passport into the best society.
To be an X— was enough of itself, but her Christian name was one peculiar
to the most aristocratic and influential branch of the X—s.  Her mother’s
maiden name, engraved at full length in the middle, established the fact
that Mr. X— had not married beneath him, but that she was the child of
unblemished lineage on both sides.  Her place of residence was the only
one possible to the possessor of three such names, and as if these
advantages were not enough, the street and number proved that Salemina’s
family undoubtedly possessed wealth; for the small numbers, and
especially the odd numbers, on that particular street, could be flaunted
only by people of fortune.

You have now all the facts in your possession, and I can only add that
the ship weighed anchor at twilight, so Salemina again gazed upon the
Doge’s Palace and slept tranquilly.



V


                                                       CASA ROSA, _May_ 22

I am like the schoolgirl who wrote home from Venice: “I am sitting on the
edge of the Grand Canal drinking it all in, and life never seemed half so
full before.”  Was ever the city so beautiful as last night on the
arrival of foreign royalty?  It was a memorable display and unique in its
peculiar beauty.  The palaces that line the canal were bright with flags;
windows and water-steps were thronged, the broad centre of the stream was
left empty.  Presently, round the bend below the Rialto, swept into view
a double line of gondolas—long, low, gleaming with every hue of brilliant
colour, most of them with ten, some with twelve, gondoliers in
resplendent liveries, red, blue, green, white, orange, all bending over
their oars with the precision of machinery and the grace of absolute
mastery of their craft.  In the middle, between two lines, came one small
and beautifully modelled gondola, rowed by four men in red and black,
while on the white silk cushions in the stern sat the Prince and
Princess.  There was no splash of oar or rattle of rowlock; swiftly,
silently, with an air of stately power and pride, the lovely pageant
came, passed, and disappeared under the shining evening sky and the
gathering shadows of “the dim, rich city.”  I never saw, or expect to
see, anything of its kind so beautiful.

I stay for hours in the gondola, writing my letters or watching the
thousand and one sights of the streets, for I often allow Salemina and
the Little Genius to tread their way through the highways and byways of
Venice while I stay behind and observe life from beneath the grateful
shade of the black _felze_.

The women crossing the many little bridges look like the characters in
light opera; the young girls, with their hair bobbed in a round coil, are
sometimes bareheaded and sometimes have a lace scarf over their dark,
curly locks.  A little fan is often in their hands, and one remarks the
graceful way in which the crepe shawl rests upon the women’s shoulders,
remembering that it is supposed to take generations to learn to wear a
shawl or wield a fan.

My favourite waiting-place is near the Via del Paradiso, just where some
scarlet pomegranate blossoms hang out over the old brick walls by the
canal-side, and where one splendid acanthus reminds me that its leaves
inspired some of the most beautiful architecture in the world; where,
too, the ceaseless chatter of the small boys cleaning crabs with
scrubbing-brushes gives my ear a much-needed familiarity with the
language.

Now a girl with a red parasol crosses the Ponte del Paradiso, making a
brilliant silhouette against the blue sky.  She stops to prattle with the
man at the bell-shop just at the corner of the little _calle_.  There are
beautiful bells standing in rows in the window, one having a border of
finely traced crabs and sea-horses at the base; another has a top like a
Doge’s cap, while the body of another has a delicately wrought tracery,
as if a fish-net had been thrown over it.

Sometimes the children crowd about me as the pigeons in the Piazza San
Marco struggle for the corn flung to them by the tourists.  If there are
only three or four, I sometimes compromise with my conscience and give
them something.  If one gets a lira put into small coppers, one can give
them a couple of _centesimi_ apiece without feeling that one is
pauperizing them, but that one is fostering the begging habit in young
Italy is a more difficult sin to face.

To-day when the boys took off the tattered hats from their bonny little
heads, all black waves and riotous curls, and with disarming dimples and
sparkling eyes presented them to me for alms, I looked at them with
smiling admiration, thinking how like Raphael’s cherubs they were, and
then said in my best Italian: “Oh, yes, I see them; they are indeed most
beautiful hats.  I thank you for showing them to me, and I am pleased to
see you courteously take them off to a lady.”

This American pleasantry was passed from mouth to mouth gleefully, and so
truly enjoyed that they seemed to forget they had been denied.  They ran,
still laughing and chattering, to the wood-carver’s shop near-by and told
him the story, or so I judged, for he came to his window and smiled
benignly upon me as I sat in the gondola with my writing-pad on my knees.
I was pleased at the friendly glance, for he is the hero of a pretty
little romance, and I long to make his acquaintance.

It seems that, some years ago, the Queen, with one lady-in-waiting in
attendance, came to his shop quite early in the morning.  Both were
plainly dressed in cotton gowns, and neither made any pretensions.  He
was carving something that could not be dropped, a cherub’s face that had
to be finished while his thought of it was fresh.  Hurriedly asking
pardon, he continued his work, and at end of an hour raised his eyes,
breathless and apologetic, to look at his visitors.  The taller lady had
a familiar appearance.  He gazed steadily, and then, to his surprise and
embarrassment, recognized the Queen.  Far from being offended, she
respected his devotion to his art, and before she left the shop she gave
him a commission for a royal staircase.  I am going to ask the Little
Genius to take me to see his work, but, alas! there will be an
unsurmountable barrier between us, for I cannot utter in my new Italian
anything but the most commonplace and conventional statements.



VI


                                                      CASA ROSA, _May_ 28.

Oh, this misery of being dumb, incoherent, unintelligible, foolish,
inarticulate in a foreign land, for lack of words!  It is unwise, I fear,
to have at the outset too high an ideal either in grammar or accent.  As
our gondola passed one of the hotels this afternoon, we paused long
enough to hear an intrepid lady converse with an Italian who carried a
mandolin and had apparently come to give a music lesson to her husband.
She seemed to be from the Middle West of America, but I am not disposed
to insist upon this point, nor to make any particular State in the Union
blush for her crudities of speech.  She translated immediately everything
that she said into her own tongue, as if the hearer might, between French
and English, possibly understand something.

“_Elle nay pars easy_—he ain’t here,” she remarked, oblivious of gender.
“_Elle retoorneray ah seas oors et dammi_—he’ll be back sure by half-past
six.  _Bone swar_, I should say _Bony naughty_—Good-night to you, and I
won’t let him forget to show up to-morrer.”

This was neither so ingenious nor so felicitous as the language-expedient
of the man who wished to leave some luggage at a railway station in Rome,
and knowing nothing of any foreign tongue but a few Latin phrases, mostly
of an obituary character, pointed several times to his effects, saying,
“_Requiescat in pace_,” and then, pointing again to himself, uttered the
one pregnant word “_Resurgam_.”  This at any rate had the merit of
tickling his own sense of humour, if it availed nothing with the railway
porters, and if any one remarks that he has read the tale in some ancient
“Farmers’ Almanack,” I shall only retort that it is still worth
repeating.

My little red book on the “Study of Italian Made Easy for the Traveller”
is always in my pocket, but it is extraordinary how little use it is to
me.  The critics need not assert that individuality is dying out in the
human race and that we are all more or less alike.  If we were, we should
find our daily practical wants met by such little books.  Mine gives me a
sentence requesting the laundress to return the clothes three days hence,
at midnight, at cock-crow, or at the full of the moon, but nowhere can
the new arrival find the phrase for the next night or the day after
to-morrow.  The book implores the washerwoman to use plenty of starch,
but the new arrival wishes scarcely any, or only the frills dipped.

Before going to the dressmaker’s yesterday, I spent five minutes learning
the Italian for the expression “This blouse bags; it sits in wrinkles
between the shoulders.”  As this was the only criticism given in the
little book, I imagined that Italian dressmakers erred in this special
direction.  What was my discomfiture to find that my blouse was much too
small and refused to meet.  I could only use gestures for the
dressmaker’s enlightenment, but in order not to waste my recently gained
knowledge, I tried to tell a melodramatic tale of a friend of mine whose
blouse bagged and sat in wrinkles between the shoulders.  It was not
successful, because I was obliged to substitute the past for the present
tense of the verb.

Somebody says that if we learn the irregular verbs of a language first,
all will be well.  I think by the use of considerable mental agility one
can generally avoid them altogether, although it materially reduces one’s
vocabulary; but at all events there is no way of learning them thoroughly
save by marrying a native.  A native, particularly after marriage, uses
the irregular verbs with great freedom, and one acquires a familiarity
with them never gained in the formal instruction of a teacher.  This
method of education may be considered radical, and in cases where one is
already married, illegal and bigamous, but on the whole it is not
attended with any more difficulty than the immersing of one’s self in a
study day after day and month after month learning the irregular verbs
from a grammar.

My rule in studying a language is to seize upon some salient point, or
one generally overlooked by foreigners, or some very subtle one known
only to the scholar, and devote myself to its mastery.  A little
knowledge here blinds the hearer to much ignorance elsewhere.  In
Italian, for example, the polite way of addressing one’s equal is to
speak in the third person singular, using _Ella_ (she) as the pronoun.
“_Come sta Ella_?”  (How are you? but literally “How is she?”)

I pay great attention to this detail, and make opportunities to meet our
_padrona_ on the staircase and say “How is she?” to her.  I can never
escape the feeling that I am inquiring for the health of an absent
person; moreover, I could not understand her symptoms if she should
recount them, and I have no language in which to describe my own
symptoms, which, so far as I have observed, is the only reason we ever
ask anybody else how he feels.

To remember on the instant whether one is addressing equals, superiors,
or inferiors, and to marshal hastily the proper pronoun, adds a new
terror to conversation, so that I find myself constantly searching my
memory to decide whether it shall be:

_Scusate_ or _Scusi_, _Avanti_ or _Passi_, _A rivederci_ or _Addio_, _Che
cosa dite_? or _Che coma dice_?  _Quanto domandate_? or _Quanto domanda_?
_Dove andate_? or _Dove va_?  _Come vi chiamate_? or _Come si chiama_?
and so forth and so forth until one’s mind seems to be arranged in
tabulated columns, with special N.B.’s to use the infinitive in talking
to the gondolier.

Finding the hours of time rather puzzling as recorded in the “Study of
Italian Made Easy,” I devoted twenty-four hours to learning how to say
the time from one o’clock at noon to midnight, or thirteen to
twenty-three o’clock.  My soul revolted at the task, for a foreign tongue
abounds in these malicious little refinements of speech, invented, I
suppose, to prevent strangers from making too free with it on short
acquaintance.  I found later on that my labour had been useless, and that
evidently the Italians themselves have no longer the leisure for these
little eccentricities of language and suffer them to pass from common
use.  If the Latin races would only meet in convention and agree to
bestow the comfortable neuter gender on inanimate objects and
commodities, how popular they might make themselves with the
English-speaking nations; but having begun to “enrich” their language,
and make it more “subtle” by these perplexities, centuries ago, they will
no doubt continue them until the end of time.

If one has been a devoted patron of the opera or student of music, one
has an Italian vocabulary to begin with.  This, if accompanied by the
proper gestures (for it is vain to speak without liberal movements, of
the hands, shoulders, and eyebrows), this, I maintain, will deceive all
the English-speaking persons who may be seated near your table in a
foreign café.

The very first evening after our arrival, Jack Copley asked Salemina and
me to dine with him at the best restaurant in Venice.  Jack Copley is a
well of nonsense undefiled, and he, like ourselves, had been in Italy
only a few hours.  He called for us in his gondola, and in the row across
from the Giudecca we amused ourselves by calling to mind the various
Italian words or phrases with which we were familiar.  They were mostly
titles of arias or songs, but Jack insisted, notwithstanding Salemina’s
protestations, that, properly interlarded with names of famous Italians,
he could maintain a brilliant conversation with me at table, to the envy
and amazement of our neighbours.  The following paragraph, then, was our
stock in trade, and Jack’s volubility and ingenuity in its use kept
Salemina quite helpless with laughter:—

_Guarda che bianca luna_—_Il tempo passato_—_Lascia ch’ io pianga_—_Dolce
far niente_—_Batti batti nel Masetto_—_Da
capo_—_Ritardando_—_Andante_—_Piano_—_Adagio_—_Spaghetti_—_Macaroni_—
_Polenta_—_Non è ver_—_Ah, non giunge_—_Si la
stanchezza_—_Bravo_—_Lento_—_Presto_—_Scherzo_—_Dormi pura_—_La ci darem
la mano_—_Celeste Aïda_—_Spirito gentil_—_Voi che sapete_—_Crispino e la
Comare_—_Pietà,
Signore_—_Tintoretto_—_Boccaccio_—_Garibaldi_—_Mazzini_—_Beatrice
Cenci_—_Gordigiani_—_Santa Lucia_—_Il mio
tesoro_—_Margherita_—_Umberto_—_Vittoria Colonna_—_Tutti
frutti_—_Botticelli_—_Una furtiva lagrima_.

No one who has not the privilege of Jack Copley’s acquaintance could
believe with what effect he used these unrelated words and sentences.  I
could only assist, and lead him to ever higher flights of fancy.

We perceive with pleasure that our mother tongue presents equal
difficulties to Italian manufacturers and men of affairs.  The so-called
mineral water we use at table is specially still and dead, and we think
it may have been compared to its disadvantage with other more sparkling
beverages, since every bottle bears a printed label announcing, “To
Distrust of the mineral waters too foaming, since that they do invariable
spread the Stomach.”

We learn also by studying another bottle that “The Wermouth is a white
wine slightly bitter, and parfumed with who leso me aromatic herbs.”
_Who leso me_ we printed in italics in our own minds, giving the phrase a
pure Italian accent until we discovered that it was the somewhat familiar
adjective “wholesome.”

In one of the smaller galleries we were given the usual pasteboard fans
bearing explanations of the frescoes:—

ROOM I.  _In the middle_.  The sin of our fathers.

_On every side_.  The ovens of Babylony.  Möise saved from the water.

ROOM II.  _In the middle_.  Möise who sprung the water.

_On every side_.  The luminous column in the dessert and the ardent wood.

ROOM III.  _In the middle_.  Elia transported in the heaven.

_On every side_.  Eliseus dispansing brods.

ROOM IV.  The wood carvings are by Anonymous.  The tapestry shows the
multiplications of brods and fishs.



VII


                                                      CASA ROSA, _May_ 30.

We have had a battle royal in Casa Rosa—a battle over the breaking of a
huge blue pitcher valued at eight francs, a pitcher belonging to the
Little Genius.

The room that leads from the dining-room to the kitchen is reached by the
descent of two or three stone steps.  It is always full, and is like the
orthodox hell in one respect, that though myriads of people are seen to
go into it, none ever seem to come out.  It is not more than twelve feet
square, and the persons most continuously in it, not counting those who
are in transit, are the Padrona Angela; the Padrona Angela’s daughter,
Signorina Rita; the Signorina Rita’s temporary suitor; the suitor’s
mother and cousin; the padrona’s great-aunt; a few casual acquaintances
of the two families, and somebody’s baby: not always the same baby; any
baby answers the purpose and adds to the confusion and chatter of
tongues.

This morning, the door from the dining-room being ajar, I heard a subdued
sort of Bedlam in the distance, and finally went nearer to the scene of
action, finding the cause in a heap of broken china in the centre of the
floor.  I glanced at the excited company, but there was nothing to show
me who was the criminal.  There was a spry girl washing dishes; the
fritter-woman (at least we call her so, because she brings certain
goodies called, if I mistake not, _frittoli_); the gardener’s wife;
Angelo, the gondolier; Peppina, the waiting-maid; and the men that had
just brought the sausages and sweetmeats for the gondolier’s ball, which
we were giving in the evening.  There was also the contralto, with a
large soup-ladle in her hand.  (We now call Rosalia, the cook, “the
contralto,” because she sings so much better than she cooks that it seems
only proper to distinguish her in the line of her special talent.)

The assembled company were all talking and gesticulating at once.  There
was a most delicate point of justice involved, for, as far as I could
gather, the sweetmeat-man had come in unexpectedly and collided with the
sausage-man, thereby startling the fritter-woman, who turned suddenly and
jostled the spry girl: hence the pile of broken china.

The spry girl was all for justice.  If she had carelessly or wilfully
dropped the pitcher, she would have been willing to suffer the extreme
penalty,—the number of saints she called upon to witness this statement
was sufficient to prove her honesty,—but under the circumstances she
would be blessed if she suffered anything, even the abuse that filled the
air.  The fritter-woman upbraided the sweetmeat-man, who in return
reviled the sausage-vender, who remarked that if Angelo or Peppina had
received the sausages at the door, as they should, he would never have
been in the house at all; adding a few picturesque generalizations
concerning the moral turpitude of Angelo’s parents and the vicious nature
of their offspring.

The contralto, who was divided in her soul, being betrothed to the
sausage-vender, but aunt to the spry girl, sprang into the arena, armed
with the soup-ladle, and dispensed injustice on all sides.  The feud now
reached its height.  There is nothing that the chief participants did not
call one another, and no intimation or aspersion concerning the
reputation of ancestors to the remotest generation that was not cast in
the others’ teeth.  The spry girl referred to the sausage-vender as a
_generalissimo_ of all the fiends, and the compliments concerning the
gentle art of cookery which flew between the fritter-woman and the
contralto will not bear repetition.  I listened breathlessly, hoping to
hear one of the party refer to somebody as the figure of a pig (strangely
enough the most unforgettable of insults), for each of the combatants
held, suspended in air, the weapon of his choice—broken crockery,
soup-ladle, rolling-pin, or sausage.  Each, I say, flourished the emblem
of his craft wildly in the air—and then, with a change of front like that
of the celebrated King of France in the Mother Goose rhyme, dropped it
swiftly and silently; for at this juncture the Little Genius flew down
the broad staircase from her eagle’s nest.  Her sculptor’s smock
surmounted her blue cotton gown, and her blond hair was flying in the
breeze created by her rapid descent.  I wish I could affirm that by her
gentle dignity and serene self-control she awed the company into silence,
or that there was a holy dignity about her that held them spellbound; but
such, unhappily, is not the case.  It was her pet blue pitcher that had
been broken—the pitcher that was to serve as just the right bit of colour
at the evening’s feast.  She took command of the situation in a masterly
manner—a manner that had American energy and decision as its foundation
and Italian fluency as its superstructure.  She questioned the virtue of
no one’s ancestors, cast no shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of any
one’s posterity, called no one by the name of any four-footed beast or
crawling, venomous thing, yet she somehow brought order out of chaos.
Her language (for which she would have been fined thirty days in her
native land) charmed and enthralled the Venetians by its delicacy,
reserve, and restraint, and they dispersed pleasantly.  The
sausage-vender wished good appetite to the cook,—she had need of it,
Heaven knows, and we had more,—while the spry girl embraced the
fritter-woman ardently, begging her to come in again soon and make a
longer visit.



VIII


                                                      CASA ROSA, _June_ 10

I am saying all my good-byes—to Angelo and the gondola; to the greedy
pigeons of San Marco, so heavy in the crop that they can scarcely waddle
on their little red feet; to the bees and birds and flowers and trees of
the beautiful garden behind the _casa_; to the Little Genius and her
eagle’s nest on the house-top; to “the city that is always just putting
out to sea.”  It has been a month of enchantment, and although rather
expensive, it is pleasant to think that the padrona’s mortgage is nearly
paid.

It is a saint’s day, and to-night there will be a _fiesta_.  Coming home
to our island, we shall hear the laughter and the song floating out from
the wine shops and the _caffès_; we shall see the lighted barges with
their musicians; we shall thrill with the cries of “_Viva Italia_! _viva
el Re_!”  The moon will rise above the white palaces; their innumerable
lights will be reflected in the glassy surface of the Grand Canal.  We
shall feel for the last time “the quick silent passing” of the only
Venetian cab.

    “How light we move, how softly!  Ah,
    Were life but as the gondola!”

To-morrow we shall be rowed against the current to Padua.  We shall see
Malcontenta and its ruined villa: Oriago and Mira and the campanile of
Dolo.  Venice will lie behind us, but she will never be forgotten.  Many
a time on such a night as this we shall say with other wandering
Venetians:—

    “O Venezia benedetta!
    Non ti voglio più lasciar!”



III
PENELOPE’S PRINTS OF WALES


    And at length it chanced that I came to the fairest Valley in the
    World, wherein were trees of equal growth; and a river ran through
    the Valley, and a path was by the side of the river.  And I followed
    the path until midday, and I continued my journey along the remainder
    of the Valley until the evening: and at the extremity of a plain I
    came to a lone and lustrous Castle, at the foot of which was a
    torrent.

WE are coaching in Wales, having journeyed by easy stages from Liverpool
through Llanberis, Penygwryd, Bettws-y-Coed, Beddgelert and Dolgelly on
our way to Bristol, where we shall make up our minds as to the next step;
deciding in solemn conclave, with floods of argument and temperamental
differences of opinion, what is best worth seeing where all is beautiful
and inspiring.  If I had possessed a little foresight I should have
avoided Wales, for, having proved apt at itinerary doggerel, I was
solemnly created, immediately on arrival, Mistress of Rhymes and
Travelling Laureate to the party—an office, however honourable, that is
no sinecure since it obliges me to write rhymed eulogies or diatribes on
Dolgelly, Tan-y-Bulch, Gyn-y-Coed, Llanrychwyn, and other Welsh hamlets
whose names offer breakneck fences to the Muse.

I have not wanted for training in this direction, having made a journey
(heavenly in reminiscence) along the Thames, stopping at all the villages
along its green banks.  It was Kitty Schuyler and Jack Copley who
insisted that I should rhyme Henley and Streatley and Wargrave before I
should be suffered to eat luncheon, and they who made me a crown of
laurel and hung a pasteboard medal about my blushing neck when I
succeeded better than usual with Datchett!—I well remember Datchett,
where the water-rats crept out of the reeds in the shallows to watch our
repast; and better still do I recall Medmenham Abbey, which defied all my
efforts till I found that it was pronounced Meddenam with the accent on
the first syllable.  The results of my enforced tussles with the Muse
stare at me now from my Commonplace Book.

    “Said a rat to a hen once, at Datchett,
    ‘Throw an egg to me, dear, and I’ll catch it!’
       ‘I thank you, good sir,
       But I greatly prefer
    To sit on mine _here_ till I hatch it.’”

    “Few hairs had the Vicar of Medmenham,
    Few hairs, and he still was a-sheddin’ ’em,
       But had none remained,
       He would not have complained,
    Because there was _far_ too much red in ’em!”

It was Jack Copley, too, who incited me to play with rhymes for Venice
until I produced the following _tour de force_:

    “A giddy young hostess in Venice
    Gave her guests hard-boiled eggs to play tennis.
       She said ‘If they _should_ break,
       What odds would it make?
    You can’t _think_ how prolific my hen is.’”

Reminiscences of former difficulties bravely surmounted faded into
insignificance before our first day in Wales was over.

Jack Copley is very autocratic, almost brutal in discipline.  It is he
who leads me up to the Visitors’ Books at the wayside inns, and putting
the quill in my reluctant fingers bids me write in cheerful hexameters my
impressions of the unpronounceable spot.  My martyrdom began at Penygwryd
(Penny-goo-rid’).  We might have stopped at Conway or some other town of
simple name, or we might have allowed the roof of the Cambrian Arms or
the Royal Goat or the Saracen’s Read to shelter us comfortably, and
provide me a comparatively easy task; but no; Penygwryd it was, and the
outskirts at that, because of two inns that bore on their swinging signs
the names: _Ty Ucha_ and _Ty Isaf_, both of which would make any minor
poet shudder.  When I saw the sign over the door of our chosen hostelry I
was moved to disappear and avert my fate.  Hunger at length brought me
out of my lair, and promising to do my duty, I was allowed to join the
irresponsible ones at luncheon.

Such a toothsome feast it was!  A delicious ham where roses and lilies
melted sweetly into one another; some crisp lettuces, ale in pewter mugs,
a good old cheese, and that stodgy cannon-ball the “household loaf,” dear
for old association’s sake.  We were served at table by the granddaughter
of the house, a little damsel of fifteen summers with sleek brown hair
and the eyes of a doe.  The pretty creature was all blushes and dimples
and pinafores and curtsies and eloquent goodwill.  With what a sweet
politeness do they invest their service, some of these soft-voiced
British maids!  Their kindness almost moves one to tears when one is
fresh from the resentful civility fostered by Democracy.

As we strolled out on the greensward by the hawthorn hedge we were
followed by the little waitress, whose name, however pronounced, was
written Nelw Evans.  She asked us if we would write in the “Locked Book,”
whereupon she presented us with the key.  It seems that there is an
ordinary Visitors’ Book, where the common herd is invited to scrawl its
unknown name; but when persons of evident distinction and genius
patronize the inn, this “Locked Book” is put into their hands.

I found that many a lord and lady had written on its pages, and men
mighty in Church and State had left their mark, with much bad poetry
commendatory of the beds, the food, the scenery, and the fishing.
Nobody, however, had given a line to pretty Nelw Evans; so I pencilled
her a rhyme, for which I was well paid in dimples:—

    “At the Inn called the Penygwryd
    A sweet little maiden is hid.
       She’s so rosy and pretty
       I write her this ditty
    And leave it at Penygwryd.”

Our next halt was at Bettws-y-Coed, where we passed the week-end.  It was
a memorable spot, as I failed at first to rhyme the name, and only
succeeded under threats of a fate like unto that of the immortal babes in
the wood.  I left the verse to be carved on a bronze tablet in the
village church, should any one be found fitted to bear the weight of its
eulogy:—

    “Here lies an old woman of Bettws-y-Co_ed_;
    Wherever she went, it was there that she go_ed_.
    She frequently said: ‘My own row have I ho_ed_,
    And likewise the church water-mark have I to_ed_.
    I’m therefore expecting to reap what I’ve sow_ed_,
    And go straight to heaven from Bettws-y-Co_ed_.’”

At another stage of our journey, when the coaching tour was nearly ended,
we were stopping at the Royal Goat at Beddgelert.  We were seated about
the cheerful blaze (one and sixpence extra), portfolio in lap, making
ready our letters for the post.  I announced my intention of writing to
Salemina, left behind in London with a sprained ankle, and determined
that the missive should be saturated with local colour.  None of us were
able to spell the few Welsh words we had picked up in our journeyings,
but I evaded the difficulties by writing an exciting little episode in
which all the principal substantives were names of Welsh towns, dragged
in bodily, and so used as to deceive the casual untravelled reader.

I read it aloud.  Jack Copley declared that it made capital sense, and
sounded as if it had happened exactly as stated.  Perhaps you will agree
with him:—

                                                    DDOLGHYHGGLLWN, WALES.

. . . We left Bettws-y-Coed yesterday morning, and coached thirty-three
miles to this point.  (How do you like this point when you see it
spelled?)  We lunched at a wayside inn, and as we journeyed on we began
to see pposters on the ffences announcing the ffact that there was to be
a Festiniog that day in the village of Portmadoc, through which we were
to pass.

I always enoyw a Festiniog yn any country, and my hheart beat hhigh with
anticipation.  Yt was ffive o’clock yn the cool of the dday, and
ppresently the roadw became ggay with the returning festinioggers.  Here
was a fine Llanberis, its neck encircled with shining meddals wonw in
previous festiniogs; there, just behind, a wee shaggy Rhyl led along
proudly by its owner.  Evydently the gayety was over for the day, for the
ppeople now came yn crowds, the women with gay plaid Rhuddlans over their
shoulders and straw Beddgelerts on their hheads.

The guardd ttooted his hhorn continuously, for we now approached the
principalw street of the village, where hhundreds of ppeople were
conggreggated.  Of course there were allw manner of Dolgelleys yn the
crowd, and allw that had taken pprizes were gayly decked with ribbons.
Just at this moment the hhorn of our gguard ffrightened a superb
Llanrwst, a spirited black creature of enormous size.  It made a ddash
through the lines of tterrified mothers, who caught their innocent
Pwllhelis closer to their bbosoms.  In its madd course it bruised the
side of a huge Llandudno hitched to a stout Tyn-y-Coed by the way-side.
It bbroke its Bettws and leaped ynto the air.  Ddeath stared us yn the
face.  David the whip grew ppale, and signalled to Absalom the gguard to
save as many lives as he could and leave the rrest to Pprovidence.
Absalom spprang from his seat, and taking a sharp Capel Curig from his
ppocket (Hheaven knows how he chanced to have it about his pperson), he
aimed straight between the Llangollens of the infuriated Llandudno.  With
a moan of baffled rrage, he sank to earth with a hheavy thuddw.  Absalom
withdrew the bbloody Capel Curig from the dying Llandudno, and wiping yt
on his Penygwryd, replaced yt yn his pocket for future possible use.

The local Dolwyddelan approached, and ordered a detachment of
Tan-y-Bulchs to remove the corpse of the Llandudno.  With a shudder we
saw him borne to his last rrest, for we realized that had yt not bbeen
for Absalom’s Capel Curig we had bbeen bburied yn an unpronounceable
Welsh ggrave.



IV
PENELOPE IN DEVON


WE are in Bristol after a week’s coaching in Wales; the Jack Copleys,
Tommy Schuyler, Mrs. Jack’s younger brother, and Miss Van Tyck, Mrs.
Jack’s “Aunt Celia,” who played a grim third in that tour of the English
Cathedrals during which Jack Copley was ostensibly studying architecture
but in reality courting Kitty Schuyler.  Also there is Bertram Ferguson,
whom we call “Atlas” because he carries the world on his shoulders,
gazing more or less vaguely and absent-mindedly at all the persons and
things in the universe not in need of immediate reformation.

We had journeyed by easy stages from Liverpool through Carnarvon,
Llanberis, Penygwyrd, Bettws-y-Coed, Beddgelert, and Tan-y-Bulch.
Arriving finally at Dolgelly, we sent the coach back to Carnarvon and
took the train to Ross,—the gate of the Wye,—from whence we were to go
down the river in boats.  As to that, everybody knows Symond’s Yat,
Monmouth, Raglan Castle, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow; but at Bristol a
brilliant idea took possession of Jack Copley’s mind.  Long after we were
in bed o’ nights the blessed man interviewed landlords and studied
guidebooks that he might show us something beautiful next day, and above
all, something out of the common route.  Mrs. Jack didn’t like common
routes; she wanted her appetite titillated with new scenes.

At breakfast we saw the red-covered Baedeker beside our host’s plate.
This was his way of announcing that we were to “move on,” like poor Jo in
“Bleak House.”  He had already reached the marmalade stage, and while we
discussed our bacon and eggs and reviled our coffee, he read us the
following:—

“Clovelly lies in a narrow and richly-wooded combe descending abruptly to
the sea.”—

“Any place that descends to the sea abruptly or otherwise has my approval
in advance,” said Tommy.

“Be quiet, my boy.”—“It consists of one main street, or rather a main
staircase, with a few houses climbing on each side of the combe so far as
the narrow space allows.  The houses, each standing on a higher or lower
level than its neighbour, are all whitewashed, with gay green doors and
lattices.”—

“Heavenly!” cried Mrs. Jack.  “It sounds like an English Amalfi; let us
take the first train.”

—“And the general effect is curiously foreign; the views from the quaint
little pier and, better still, from the sea, with the pier in the
foreground, are also very striking.  The foundations of the cottages at
the lower end of the village are hewn out of the living rock.”

“How does a living rock differ from other rocks—dead rocks?” Tommy asked
facetiously.  “I have always wanted to know; however, it sounds
delightful, though I can’t remember anything about Clovelly.”

“Did you never read Dickens’s ‘Message from the Sea,’ Thomas?” asked Miss
Van Tyck.  Aunt Celia always knows the number of the unemployed in New
York and Chicago, the date when North Carolina was admitted to the Union,
why black sheep eat less than white ones, the height of the highest
mountain and the length of the longest river in the world, when the first
potato was dug from American soil, when the battle of Bull Run was
fought, who invented the first fire-escape, how woman suffrage has worked
in Colorado and California, the number of trees felled by Mr. Gladstone,
the principle of the Westinghouse brake and the Jacquard loom, the
difference between peritonitis and appendicitis, the date of the
introduction of postal-cards and oleomargarine, the price of mileage on
African railways, the influence of Christianity in the Windward Islands,
who wrote “There’s Another, not a Sister,” “At Midnight in his Guarded
Tent,” “A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever,” and has taken in through the
pores much other information likely to be of service on journeys where an
encyclopædia is not available.

If she could deliver this information without gibes at other people’s
ignorance she would, of course, be more agreeable; but it is only justice
to say that a person is rarely instructive and agreeable at the same
moment.

“It is settled, then, that we go to Clovelly,” said Jack.  “Bring me the
A B C Guide, please” (this to the waiter who had just brought in the
post).

“Quite settled, and we go at once,” said Mrs. Jack, whose joy at arriving
at a place is only equalled by her joy in leaving it.  “Penelope, hand me
my letters, please; if you were not my guest I should say I had never
witnessed such an appetite.  Tommy, what news from father?  Atlas, how
can you drink three cups of British coffee?  Oh-h-h, how more than lucky,
how heavenly, how providential!  Egeria is coming!”

“Egeria?” we cried with one rapturous voice.

“Read your letter carefully, Kitty,” said Jack; “you will probably find
that she wishes she might come, but finds it impossible.”

“Or that she certainly would come if she had anything to wear,” drawled
Tommy.

“Or that she could come perfectly well if it were a few days later,”
quoth I.

Mrs. Jack stared at us superciliously, and lifting an absurd watch from
her antique chatelaine, observed calmly, “Egeria will be at this hotel in
one hour and fifteen minutes; I telegraphed her the night before last,
and this letter is her reply.”

“Who is Egeria?” asked Atlas, looking up from his own letters.  “She
sounds like a character in a book.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “You begin, Penelope.”

_Penelope_: “No, I’d rather finish; then I can put in everything that you
omit.”

_Atlas_: “Is there so much to tell?”

_Tommy_: “Rather.  Begin with her hair, Penelope.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “No; I’ll do that!  Don’t rattle your knives and forks, shut
up your Baedeker, Jackie, and listen while I quote what a certain poet
wrote of Egeria when she last visited us:—

    “‘She has a knot of russet hair:
    It seems a simple thing to wear
    Through years, despite of fashion’s check,
    The same deep coil about the neck,
    But there it twined
    When first I knew her,
    And learned with passion to pursue her,
    And if she changed it, to my mind
    She were a creature of new kind.

    “‘O first of women who has laid
    Magnetic glory on a braid!
    In others’ tresses we may mark
    If they be silken, blonde, or dark,
    But thine we praise and dare not feel them,
    Not Hermes, god of theft, dare steal them;
    It is enough for eye to gaze
    Upon their vivifying maze.’”

_Jack_: “She has beautiful hair, but as an architect I shouldn’t think of
mentioning it first.  Details should follow, not precede, general
characteristics.  Her hair is an exquisite detail; so, you might say, is
her nose, her foot, her voice; but viewed as a captivating whole, Egeria
might be described epigrammatically as an animated lodestone.  When a man
approaches her he feels his iron-work gently and gradually drawn out of
him.”

Atlas looked distinctly incredulous at this statement, which was
reinforced by the affirmative nods of the whole party.

_Penelope_: “A man cannot talk to Egeria an hour without wishing the
assistance of the Society for First Aid to the Injured.  She is a kind of
feminine fly-paper; the men are attracted by the sweetness, and in trying
to absorb a little of it, they stick fast.”

_Tommy_: “Egeria is worth from two to two and a half times more than any
girl alive; I would as lief talk to her as listen to myself.”

_Atlas_: “Great Jove, what a concession!  I wish I could find a woman—an
unmarried woman (with a low bow to Mrs. Jack)—that would produce that
effect upon me.  So you all like her?”

_Aunt Celia_: “She is not what I consider a well-informed girl.”

_Penelope_: “Now don’t carp, Miss Van Tyck.  You love her as much as we
all do.  ‘Like her,’ indeed!  I detest the phrase.  Werther said when
asked how he liked Charlotte, ‘What sort of creature must he be who
merely liked her; whose whole heart and senses were not entirely absorbed
by her!’  Some one asked me lately how I ‘liked’ Ossian.”

_Atlas_: “Don’t introduce Ossian, Werther and Charlotte into this
delightful breakfast chat, I beseech you; the most tiresome trio that
ever lived.  If they were travelling with us, how they would jar!  Ossian
would tear the scenery in tatters with his apostrophes, Werther would
make love to Mrs. Jack, and Charlotte couldn’t cut an English household
loaf with a hatchet.  Keep to Egeria,—though if one cannot stop at liking
her, she is a dangerous subject.”

_Jack_: “Don’t imagine from these panegyrics that, to the casual
observer, Egeria is anything more than a nice girl.  The deadly qualities
that were mentioned only appeal to the sympathetic eye (which you have
not), and the susceptible heart (which is not yours), and after long
acquaintance (which you can’t have, for she stays only a week).  Tommy,
you can meet the charmer at the station; your sister will pack up, and
I’ll pay the bills and make arrangements for the journey.”

_Jack Copley_ (_when left alone with his spouse_): “Kitty, I wonder, why
you invited Egeria to travel in the same party with Atlas.”

_Mrs. Jack_ (_fencing_): “Pooh! Atlas is safe anywhere.”

_Jack_: “He is a man.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “No; he is a reformer.”

_Jack_: “Even reformers fall in love.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “Not unless they can find a woman to reform.  Egeria is too
nearly perfect to attract Atlas; besides, what does it matter, anyway?”

_Jack_: “It matters a good deal if it makes him unhappy; he is too good a
fellow.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “I’ve lived twenty-five years and I have never seen a man’s
unhappiness last more than six months, and I have never seen a woman make
a wound in a man’s heart that another woman couldn’t heal.  The modern
young man is as tough as—well, I can’t think of anything tough enough to
compare him to.  I’ve always thought it a pity that the material of which
men’s hearts is made couldn’t be utilized for manufacturing purposes;
think of its value for hinges, or for the toes of little boys’ boots, or
the heels of their stockings!”

_Jack_: “I should think you had just been jilted, my dear; how has Atlas
offended you?”

_Mrs. Jack_: “He hasn’t offended me; I love him, but I think he is too
absent-minded lately.”

_Jack_: “And is Egeria invited to join us in order that she may bring his
mind forcibly back to the present?”

_Mrs. Jack_: “Not at all; I consider Atlas as safe as a—as a church, or a
dictionary, or a guide-post, or anything; he is too much interested in
tenement-house reform to fall in love with a woman.”

_Jack_: “I think a sensible woman wouldn’t be out of place in Atlas’
schemes for the regeneration of humanity.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “No; but Egeria isn’t a—yes, she is, too; I can’t deny it,
but I don’t believe she knows anything about the sweating system, and she
adores Ossian and Fiona Macleod, so she probably won’t appeal to Atlas in
his present state, which, to my mind, is unnecessarily intense.  The
service of humanity renders a young man perfectly callous to feminine
charms.  It’s the proverbial safety of numbers, I suppose, for it’s
always the individual that leads a man into temptation, if you notice,
never the universal;—Woman, not women.  I have studied Atlas profoundly,
and he is nearly as blind as a bat.  He paid no attention to my new
travelling-dress last week, and yesterday I wore four rings on my middle
finger and two on each thumb all day long, just to see if I could catch
his eye and hold his attention.  I couldn’t.”

_Jack_: “That may all be; a man may be blind to the charms of all women
but one (and precious lucky if he is), but he is particularly keen where
the one is concerned.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “Atlas isn’t keen about anything but the sweating system.
You needn’t worry about him; your favourite Stevenson says that a wet rag
goes safely by the fire, and if a man is blind, he cannot expect to be
much impressed by romantic scenery.  Atlas momentarily a wet rag and
temporarily blind.  He told me on Wednesday that he intended to leave all
his money to one of those long-named regenerating societies—I can’t
remember which.”

_Jack_: “And it was on Wednesday you sent for Egeria.  I see.”

_Mrs. Jack_ (_haughtily_): “Then you see a figment of your own
imagination; there is nothing else to see.  There!  I’ve packed
everything that belongs to me, while you’ve been smoking and gazing at
that railway guide.  When do we start?”

_Jack_: “11.59.  We arrive in Bideford at 4.40, and have a twelve-mile
drive to Clovelly.  I will telegraph for a conveyance to the inn and for
five bedrooms and a sitting-room.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “I hope that Egeria’s train will be on time, and I hope that
it will rain so that I can wear my five-guinea mackintosh.  It poured
every day when I was economizing and doing without it.”

_Jack_: “I never could see the value of economy that ended in extra
extravagance.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “Very likely; there are hosts of things you never can see,
Jackie.  But there she is, stepping out of a hansom, the darling!  What a
sweet gown!  She’s infinitely more interesting than the sweating system.”

                                * * * * *

We thought we were a merry party before Egeria joined us, but she
certainly introduced a new element of interest.  I could not help
thinking of it as we were flying about the Bristol station, just before
entering the first-class carriage engaged by our host.  Tommy had bought
us rosebuds at a penny each; Atlas had a bundle of illustrated papers
under his arm—_The Sketch_, _Black and White_, _The Queen_, _The Lady’s
Pictorial_, and half a dozen others.  The guard was pasting an “engaged”
placard on the carriage window and piling up six luncheon-baskets in the
corner on the cushions, and speedily we were off.

It is a sincere tribute to the intrinsic charm of Egeria’s character that
Mrs. Jack and I admire her so unreservedly, for she is for ever being
hurled at us as an example in cases where men are too stupid to see that
there is no fault in us, nor any special virtue in her.  For instance,
Jack tells Kitty that she could walk with less fatigue if she wore
sensible shoes like Egeria’s.  Now, Egeria’s foot is very nearly as
lovely as Trilby’s in the story, and much prettier than Trilby’s in the
pictures; consequently, she wears a hideous, broad-toed, low-heeled boot,
and looks trim and neat in it.  Her hair is another contested point: she
dresses it in five minutes in the morning, walks or drives in the rain
and wind for a few hours, rides in the afternoon, bathes in the surf,
lies in a hammock, and, if circumstances demand, the creature can smooth
it with her hands and walk in to dinner!  Kitty and I, on the contrary,
rise a half-hour earlier to curl or wave; our spirit-lamps leak into our
dressing-bags, and our beauty is decidedly damaged by damp or hot
weather.  Most women’s hair is a mere covering to the scalp, growing out
of the head, or pinned on, as the case may be.  Egeria’s is a glory like
Eve’s; it is expressive, breathing a hundred delicate suggestions of
herself; not tortured into frizzles, or fringes, or artificial shapes,
but winding its lustrous lengths about her head, just high enough to show
the beautiful nape of her neck, “where this way and that the little
lighter-coloured irreclaimable curls run truant from the knot,—curls,
half curls, root curls, vine ringlets, wedding-rings, fledgling feathers,
tufts of down, blown wisps,—all these wave, or fall, or stray, loose and
downward in the form of small, silken paws, hardly any of them thicker
than a crayon shading, cunninger than long, round locks of gold to trick
the heart.”

At one o’clock we lifted the covers of our luncheon-baskets.

“Aren’t they the tidiest, most self-respecting, satisfying things!”
exclaimed Egeria, as she took out her plate, and knife, and fork, opened
her Japanese napkin, set in dainty order the cold fowl and ham, the pat
of butter, crusty roll, bunch of lettuce, mustard and salt, the
corkscrew, and, finally, the bottle of ale.  “I cannot bear to be
unpatriotic, but compare this with the ten minutes for refreshments at an
American lunch-counter, its baked beans, and pies, and its cream cakes
and doughnuts under glass covers.  I don’t believe English people are as
good as we are; they can’t be; they’re too comfortable.  I wonder if the
little discomforts of living in America, the dissatisfaction and
incompetency of servants, and all the other problems, will work out for
the nation a more exceeding weight of glory, or whether they will simply
ruin the national temper.”

“It’s wicked to be too luxurious, Egeria,” said Tommy, with a sly look at
Atlas.  “It’s the hair shirt, not the pearl-studded bosom, that induces
virtue.”

“Is it?” she asked innocently, letting her clear gaze follow Tommy’s.
“You don’t believe, Mr. Atlas, that modest people like you, and me, and
Tommy, and the Copleys, incur danger in being too comfortable; the
trouble lies in the fact that the other half is too uncomfortable, does
it not?  But I am just beginning to think of these things,” she added
soberly.

“Egeria,” said Mrs. Jack sternly, “you may think about them as much as
you like; I have no control over your mental processes, but if you
mention single tax, or tenement-house reform, or Socialism, or altruism,
or communism, or the sweating system, you will be dropped at Bideford.
Atlas is only travelling with us because he needs complete moral and
intellectual rest.  I hope, oh, how I hope, that there isn’t a social
problem in Clovelly!  It seems as if there couldn’t be, in a village of a
single street and that a stone staircase.”

“There will be,” I said, “if nothing more than the problem of supply and
demand; of catching and selling herrings.”

We had time at Bideford to go into a quaint little shop for tea before
starting on our twelve-mile drive; time also to be dragged by Tommy to
Bideford Bridge, that played so important a part in Kingsley’s “Westward
Ho!”  We did not approach Clovelly finally through the beautiful Hobby
Drive, laid out in former years by one of the Hamlyn ladies of Clovelly
Court, but by the turnpike road, which, however, was not uninteresting.
It had been market-day at Bideford and there were many market carts and
“jingoes” on the road, with perhaps a heap of yellow straw inside and a
man and a rosy boy on the seat.  The roadway was prettily bordered with
broom, wild honeysuckle, fox-glove, and single roses, and there was a
certain charming post-office called the Fairy Cross, in a garden of
blooming fuchsias, where Egeria almost insisted upon living and
officiating as postmistress.

All at once our driver checked his horses on the brink of a hill,
apparently leading nowhere in particular.

“What is it?” asked Mrs. Jack, who is always expecting accidents.

“Clovelly, mum.”

“Clovelly!” we repeated automatically, gazing about us on every side for
a roof, a chimney, or a sign of habitation.

“You’ll find it, mum, as you walk down-along.”

“How charming!” cried Egeria, who loves the picturesque.  “Towns are
generally so obtrusive; isn’t it nice to know that Clovelly is here and
that all we have to do is to walk ‘down-along’ and find it?  Come, Tommy.
Ho, for the stone staircase!”

We who were left behind discovered by more questioning that one cannot
drive into Clovelly; that although an American president or an English
chancellor might, as a great favour, be escorted down on a donkey’s back,
or carried down in a sedan chair if he chanced to have one about his
person, the ordinary mortal must walk to the door of the New Inn, his
luggage being dragged “down-along” on sledges and brought “up-along” on
donkeys.  In a word, Clovelly is not built like unto other towns; it
seems to have been flung up from the sea into a narrow rift between
wooded hills, and to have clung there these eight hundred years of its
existence.  It has held fast, but it has not expanded, for the very good
reason that it completely fills the hollow in the cliffs, the houses
clinging like limpets to the rocks on either side, so that it would be a
costly and difficult piece of engineering indeed to build any extensions
or additions.

We picked our way “down-along” until we caught the first glimpse of
white-washed cottages covered with creepers, their doors hospitably open,
their windows filled with blooming geraniums and fuchsias.  All at once,
as we began to descend the winding, rocky pathway, we saw that it pitched
headlong into the bluest sea in the world.  No wonder the painters have
loved it!  Shall we ever forget that first vision!  There were a couple
of donkeys coming “up-along” laden, one with coals, the other with
bread-baskets; a fisherman was mending his nets in front of his door;
others were lounging “down to quay pool” to prepare for their evening
drift-fishing.  A little further on, at a certain abrupt turning called
the “lookout,” where visitors stop to breathe and villagers to gossip,
one could catch a glimpse of the beach and “Crazed Kate’s Cottage,” the
drying-ground for nets, the lifeboat house, the pier, and the breakwater.

We were all enchanted when we arrived at the door of the inn.

“Devonshire for me!  I shall live here!” cried Mrs. Jack.  “I said that a
few times in Wales, but I retract it.  You had better live here, too,
Atlas; there aren’t any problems in Clovelly.”

“I am sure of that,” he assented smilingly.  “I noticed dozens of live
snails in the rocks of the street as we came down; snails cannot live in
combination with problems.”

“Then I am a snail,” answered Mrs. Jack cheerfully; “for that is exactly
my temperament.”

We found that we could not get room enough for all at the tiny inn, but
this only exhilarated Egeria and Tommy.  They disappeared and came back
triumphant ten minutes later.

“We got lodgings without any difficulty,” said Egeria.  “Tommy’s isn’t
half bad; we saw a small boy who had been taking a box ‘down-along’ on a
sledge, and he referred us to a nice place where they took Tommy in; but
you should see my lodging—it is ideal.  I noticed the prettiest
yellow-haired girl knitting in a doorway.  ‘There isn’t room for me at
the inn,’ I said; ‘could you let me sleep here?’  She asked her mother,
and her mother said ‘Yes,’ and there was never anything so romantic as my
vine-embowered window.  Juliet would have jumped at it.”

“She would have jumped out of it, if Romeo had been below,” said Mrs.
Jack, “but there are no Romeos nowadays; they are all busy settling the
relations of labour and capital.”

The New Inn proved some years ago to be too small for its would-be
visitors.  An addition couldn’t be built because there wasn’t any room;
but the landlady succeeded in getting a house across the way.  Here there
are bedrooms, a sort of quiet tap-room of very great respectability, and
the kitchens.  As the dining-room is in house number one, the matter of
serving dinner might seem to be attended with difficulty, but it is not
apparent.  The maids run across the narrow street with platters and
dishes surmounted by great Britannia covers, and in rainy weather they
give the soup or joint the additional protection of a large cotton
umbrella.  The walls of every room in the inn are covered with old china,
much of it pretty, and some of it valuable, though the finest pieces are
not hung, but are placed in glass cabinets.  One cannot see an inch of
wall space anywhere in bedrooms, dining- or sitting-rooms for the huge
delft platters, whole sets of the old green dragon pattern, quaint
perforated baskets, pitchers and mugs of British lustre, with queer dogs,
and cats, and peacocks, and clocks of china.  The massing of colour is
picturesque and brilliant, and the whole effect decidedly unique.  The
landlady’s father and grandfather had been Bideford sea-captains and had
brought here these and other treasures from foreign parts.  As Clovelly
is a village of seafolk and fisher-folk, the houses are full of
curiosities, mostly from the Mediterranean.  Egeria had no china in her
room, but she had huge branches of coral, shells of all sizes and hues,
and an immense coloured print of the bay of Naples.  Tommy’s landlady was
volcanic in her tastes, and his walls were lined with pictures of
Vesuvius in all stages of eruption.  My room, a wee, triangular box of a
thing, was on the first floor of the inn.  It opened hospitably on a bit
of garden and street by a large glass door that wouldn’t shut, so that a
cat or a dog spent the night by my bed-side now and then, and many a
donkey tried to do the same, but was evicted.

Oh, the Clovelly mornings! the sunshine, the salt air, the savour of the
boats and the nets, the limestone cliffs of Gallantry Bower rising steep
and white at the head of the village street, with the brilliant sea at
the foot; the walks down by the quay pool (not _key pool_, you
understand, but _quaäy püül_ in the vernacular), the sails in a good old
herring-boat called the _Lorna Doone_, for we are in Blackmore’s country
here.

We began our first day early in the morning, and met at nine-o’clock
breakfast in the coffee-room.  Egeria came in glowing.  She reminds me of
a phrase in a certain novel, where the heroine is described as always
dressing (seemingly) to suit the season and the sky.  Clad in sea-green
linen with a white collar, and belt, she was the very spirit of a
Clovelly morning.  She had risen at six, and in company with Phoebe,
daughter of her house (the yellow-haired lassie mentioned previously),
had prowled up and down North Hill, a transverse place or short street
much celebrated by painters.  They had met a certain bold fisher-lad
named Jem, evidently Phoebe’s favourite swain, and explored the short
passage where Fish Street is built over, nicknamed Temple Bar.

Atlas came in shortly after and laid a nosegay at Egeria’s plate.

“My humble burnt-offering, your ladyship,” he said.

_Tommy_: “She has lots of offerings, but she generally prefers to burn
’em herself.  When Egeria’s swains talk about her, it is always ‘_ut
vidi_,’ how I saw, succeeded by ‘_ut perii_,’ how I sudden lost my
brains.”

_Egeria_: “_You_ don’t indulge in burnt-offerings” (laughing, with
slightly heightened colour); “but how you do burn incense!  You speak as
if the skeletons of my rejected suitors were hanging on imaginary lines
all over the earth’s surface.”

_Tommy_: “They are not hanging on ‘imaginary’ lines.”

_Mrs. Jack_: “Turn your thoughts from Egeria’s victims, you frivolous
people, and let me tell you that I’ve been ‘up-along’ this morning and
found—what do you think?—a library: a circulating library maintained by
the Clovelly Court people.  It is embowered in roses and jasmine, and
there is a bird’s nest hanging just outside one of the open windows next
to a shelf of Dickens and Scott.  Never before have young families of
birds been born and brought up with similar advantages.  The snails were
in the path just as we saw them yesterday evening, Atlas; not one has
moved, not one has died!  Oh, I certainly must come and live here.  The
librarian is a dear old lady; if she ever dies, I am coming to take her
place.  You will be postmistress at the Fairy Cross then, Egeria, and
we’ll visit each other.  And I’ve brought Dickens’ ‘Message from the Sea’
for you, and Kingsley’s ‘Westward Ho!’ for Tommy, and ‘The Wages of Sin’
for Atlas, and ‘Hypatia’ for Egeria, ‘Lorna Doone’ for Jack, and Charles
Kingsley’s sermons for myself.  We will read aloud every evening.”

“I won’t,” said Tommy succinctly.  “I’ve been down by the quay pool, and
I’ve got acquainted with a lot of A1 chaps that have agreed to take me
drift-fishing every night, and they are going to put out the Clovelly
lifeboat for exercise this week, and if the weather is fine, Bill Marks
is going to take Atlas and me to Lundy Island.  You don’t catch me round
the evening lamp very much in Clovelly.”

“Don’t be too slangy, Tommy, and who on earth is Bill Marks?” asked Jack.

“He’s our particular friend, Tommy’s and mine,” answered Atlas, seeing
that Tommy was momentarily occupied with bacon and eggs.  “He told us
more yarns than we ever before heard spun in the same length of time.  He
is seventy-seven, and says he was a teetotaler until he was sixty-nine,
but has been trying to make up time ever since.  From his condition last
evening, I should say he was likely to do it.  He was so mellow, I asked
him how he could manage to walk down the staircase.  ‘Oh, I can walk down
neat enough,’ he said, ‘when I’m in good sailing trim, as I am now,
feeling just good enough, but not too good, your honour; but when I’m
half seas over or three sheets in the wind, I roll down, your honour!’
He spends three shillings a week for his food and the same for his
‘rummidge.’  He was thrilling when he got on the subject of the awful
wreck just outside this harbour, ‘the fourth of October, seventy-one
years ago, two-and-thirty men drowned, your honour, and half of ’em from
Clovelly parish.  And I was one of the three men saved in another storm
twenty-four years agone, when two-and-twenty men were drowned; that’s
what it means to plough the great salt field that is never sown, your
honour.’  When he found we’d been in Scotland, he was very anxious to
know if we could talk ‘Garlic,’ said he’d always wanted to know what it
sounded like.”

Somehow, in the days that followed, Tommy was always with his particular
friends, the fishermen, on the beach, at the Red Lion, or in the shop of
a certain boat-builder, learning the use of the calking-iron.  Mr. and
Mrs. Jack, Aunt Celia, and I unexpectedly found ourselves a quartette for
hours together, while Egeria and Atlas walked in the churchyard, in the
beautiful grounds of Clovelly Court, or in the deer park, where one finds
as perfect a union of marine and woodland scenery as any in England.

Atlas may have taken her there because he could discuss single tax more
eloquently when he was walking over the entailed estates of the English
landed gentry, but I suspect that single tax had taken off its hat, and
bowing profoundly to Egeria, had said, “After you, Madam!” and retired to
its proper place in the universe; for not even the most blatant economist
would affirm that any other problem can be so important as that which
confronts a man when he enters that land of Beulah, which is upon the
borders of Heaven and within sight of the City of Love.

Atlas was young, warm of heart, high of mind, and generous of soul.  All
the necessary chords, therefore, were in him, ready to be set in
vibration.  No one could do this more cunningly than Egeria; the only
question was whether love would “run out to meet love,” as it should,
“with open arms.”

We simply waited to see.  Mrs. Jack, with that fine lack of logic that
distinguished her, disclaimed all responsibility.  “He is awake, at
least,” she said, “and that is a great comfort; and now and then he
observes a few very plain facts, mostly relating to Egeria, it is true.
If it does come to anything, I hope he won’t ask her to live in a college
settlement the year round, though I haven’t the slightest doubt that she
would like it.  If there were ever two beings created expressly for each
other, it is these two, and for that reason I have my doubts about the
matter.  Almost all marriages are made between two people who haven’t the
least thing in common, so far as outsiders can judge.  Egeria and Atlas
are almost too well suited for marriage.”

The progress of the affair had thus far certainly been astonishingly
rapid, but it might mean nothing.  Egeria’s mind and heart were so easy
of access up to a certain point that the traveller sometimes
overestimated the distance covered and the distance still to cover.
Atlas quoted something about her at the end of the very first day, that
described her charmingly: “Ordinarily, the sweetest ladies will make us
pass through cold mist and cross a stile or two, or a broken bridge,
before the formalities are cleared away, to grant us rights of
citizenship.  She is like those frank lands where we have not to hand out
a passport at the frontier and wait for dubious inspection.”  But the
description is incomplete.  Egeria, indeed, made no one wait at the
frontier for a dubious inspection of his passport; but once in the new
domain, while he would be cordially welcomed to parks, gardens, lakes,
and pleasure grounds, he would find unexpected difficulty in entering the
queen’s private apartments, a fact that occasioned surprise to some of
the travellers.

We all took the greatest interest, too, in the romance of Phoebe and Jem,
for the course of true love did not run at all smooth for this young
couple.  Jack wrote a ballad about her, and Egeria made a tune to it, and
sang it to the tinkling, old-fashioned piano of an evening:—

    “Have you e’er seen the street of Clovelly?
    The quaint, rambling street of Clovelly,
    With its staircase of stone leading down to the sea,
    To the harbour so sleepy, so old, and so wee,
    The queer, crooked street of Clovelly.

    “Have you e’er seen the lass of Clovelly?
    The sweet little lass of Clovelly,
    With kirtle of grey reaching just to her knee,
    And ankles as neat as ankles may be,
    The yellow-haired lass of Clovelly.

    “There’s a good honest lad in Clovelly,
    A bold, fisher lad of Clovelly,
    With purpose as straight and swagger as free
    As the course of his boat when breasting a sea,
    The brave sailor lad of Clovelly.

    “Have you e’er seen the church at Clovelly?
    Have you heard the sweet bells of Clovelly?
    The lad and the lassie will hear them, maybe,
    And join hand in hand to sail over life’s sea
    From the little stone church at Clovelly.”

When the nights were cool or damp we crowded into Mrs. Jack’s tiny
china-laden sitting-room, and had a blaze in the grate with a bit of
driftwood burning blue and green and violet on top of the coals.  Tommy
sometimes smelled of herring to such a degree that we were obliged to
keep the door open; but his society was so precious that we endured the
odours.

But there were other evenings out of doors, when we sat in a sheltered
corner down on the pier, watching the line of limestone cliffs running
westward to the revolving light at Hartland Point that sent us alternate
flashes of ruby and white across the water.  Clovelly lamps made
glittering disks in the quay pool, shining there side by side with the
reflected star-beams.  We could hear the regular swish-swash of the waves
on the rocks, and to the eastward the dripping of a stream that came
tumbling over the cliff.

Such was our last evening in Clovelly; a very quiet one, for the charm of
the place lay upon us and we were loath to leave it.  It was warm and
balmy, and the moonlight lay upon the beach.  Egeria leaned against the
parapet, the serge of her dress showing white against the background of
rock.  The hood of her dark blue yachting-cape was slipping off her head,
and her eyes were as deep and clear as crystal pools.

Presently she began to sing,—first, “The Sands o’ Dee,” then,—

    “Three fishers went sailing out into the west,
    Out into the west as the sun went down;
    Each thought of the woman who loved him the best,
    And the children stood watching them out of the town.”

Egeria is one of the few women who can sing well without an
accompaniment.  She has a thrilling voice, and what with the scene, the
hour, and the pathos of Kingsley’s verses, tears rushed into my eyes, and
Bill Marks’ words came back to me—“Two-and-twenty men drowned; that’s
what it means to plough the great salt field that is never sown.”

Atlas gazed at her with eyes that no longer cared to keep their secret.
Mrs. Jack was still uncertain; for me, I was sure.  Love had rushed past
him like a galloping horseman, and shooting an arrow almost without aim,
had struck him full in the heart, that citadel that had withstood a dozen
deliberate sieges.

It was midnight, and our few belongings were packed.  Egeria had come to
the Inn to sleep, and stole into my room to warm her toes before the
blaze in my grate, for I was chilly and had ordered a sixpenny fire.
When I say that she came in to warm her toes, I am asking you to accept
her statement, not mine; it is my opinion that she came in for no other
purpose than to tell me something that was in her mind and heart pleading
for utterance.

I didn’t help her by leading up to the subject, because I thought her fib
so flagrant and unnecessary; accordingly, we talked over a multitude of
things,—Phoebe and Jem and their hard-hearted parents, our visit to
Cardiff and Ilfracombe, Bill Marks and his wife, the service at the
church, and finally her walk with Atlas in the churchyard.

“We went inside,” said Egeria, “and I copied the inscription on the
bronze tablet that Atlas liked so much on Sunday: ‘Her grateful and
affectionate husband’s last and proudest wish will be that whenever
Divine Providence shall call him hence, his name may be engraved on the
same tablet that is sacred in perpetuating as much virtue and goodness as
could adorn human nature.’”  Then she went on, with apparent lack of
sequence: “Penelope, don’t you think it is always perfectly safe to obey
a Scriptural command, because I have done it?”

“Did you find it in the Old or the New Testament?”

“The Old.”

“I should say that if you found some remarks about breaking the bones of
your enemy, and have twisted it out of its connection, it would be
particularly bad advice to follow.”

“It is nothing of that sort.”

“What is it, then?”

She took out a tortoise-shell dagger just here, and gave her head an
absent-minded shake so that her lustrous coil of hair uncoiled itself and
fell on her shoulders in a ruddy spiral.  It was a sight to induce
covetousness, but one couldn’t be envious of Egeria.  She charmed one by
her lack of consciousness.

    “The happy lot
    Be his to follow
    Those threads through lovely curve and hollow,
    And muse a lifetime how they got
    Into that wild, mysterious knot,”—

quoted I, as I gave her head an insinuating pat.  “Come, Egeria, stand
and deliver!  What is the Scriptural command, that having first obeyed,
you ask my advice about afterwards?”

“Have you a Bible?”

“You might not think it, but I have, and it is here on my table.”

“Then I am going into my room, to lock the door, and call the verse
through the keyhole.  But you must promise not to say a word to me till
to-morrow morning.”

I was not in a position to dictate terms, so I promised.  The door
closed, the bolt shot into the socket, and Egeria’s voice came so faintly
through the keyhole that I had to stoop to catch the words:—

“Deuteronomy, 10:19.”

I flew to my Bible.
Genesis—Exodus—Leviticus—Numbers—Deuteronomy—Deut-er-on-omy—Ten—Nineteen—

“_Love ye therefore the stranger_—”



V
PENELOPE AT HOME


    “’Tis good when you have crossed the sea and back
    To find the sit-fast acres where you left them.”

                                                                  EMERSON.

                                                     BERESFORD BROADACRES,
                                                          _April_ 15, 19–.

PENELOPE, in the old sense, is no more!  No mound of grass and daisies
covers her; no shaft of granite or marble marks the place where she
rests;—as a matter of fact she never does rest; she walks and runs and
sits and stands, but her travelling days are over.  For the present, in a
word, the reason that she is no longer “Penelope,” with dozens of
portraits and three volumes of “Experiences” to her credit, is, that she
is Mrs. William Hunt Beresford.

As for Himself, he is just as much William Hunt Beresford as ever he was,
for marriage has not staled, nor fatherhood withered, his infinite
variety.  There may be, indeed, a difference, ever so slight; a new
dignity, and an air of responsibility that harmonizes well with the inch
of added girth at his waist-line and the grey thread or two that
becomingly sprinkle his dark hair.

And where is Herself, the vanished Penelope, you ask; the companion of
Salemina and Francesca; the traveller in England, Scotland, Ireland, and
Wales; the wanderer in Switzerland and Italy?  Well, if she is a thought
less irresponsible, merry, and loquacious, she is happier and wiser.  If
her easel and her palette are not in daily evidence, neither are they
altogether banished from the scene; and whatever measure of cunning
Penelope’s hand possessed in other days, Mrs. Beresford has contrived to
preserve.

If she wields the duster occasionally, in alternation with the
paint-brush and the pen, she has now a new choice of weapons; and as for
models,—her friends, her neighbours, even her enemies and rivals, might
admire her ingenuity, her thrift, and her positive genius in selecting
types to paint!  She never did paint anything beautifully but children,
though her backgrounds have been praised, also the various young things
that were a vital part of every composition.  She could never draw a
horse or a cow or an ox to her satisfaction, but a long-legged colt, or a
newborn Bossy-calf were well within her powers.  Her puppies and kittens
and chickens and goslings were always admired by the public, and the fact
that the mothers and fathers in the respective groups were never quite as
convincing as their offspring,—this somehow escaped the notice of the
critics.

Very well, then, what was Penelope inspired to do when she became Mrs.
Beresford and left the Atlantic rolling between the beloved Salemina,
Francesca, and herself?  Why, having “crossed the sea and back”
repeatedly, she found “the sit-fast acres” of the house of Beresford
where she “left them” and where they had been sitting fast for more than
a hundred years.

“Here is the proper place for us to live,” she said to Himself, when they
first viewed the dear delightful New England landscape over together.
“Here is where your long roots are, and as my roots have been in half a
hundred places they can be easily transplanted.  You have a decent income
to begin on; why not eke it out with apples and hay and corn and Jersey
cows and Plymouth Rock cocks and hens, while I use the scenery for my
pictures?  There are backgrounds here for a thousand canvases, all within
a mile of your ancestral doorstep.”

“I don’t know what you will do for models in this remote place,” said
Himself, putting his hands in his pockets and gazing dubiously at the
abandoned farm-houses on the hillsides; the still green dooryards on the
village street where no children were playing, and the quiet little brick
school-house at the turn of the road, from which a dozen half-grown boys
and girls issued decorously, looking at us like scared rabbits.

“I have an idea about models,” said Mrs. Beresford.

And it turned out that she had, for all that was ten years ago, and
Penelope the Painter, merged in Mrs. Beresford the mother, has the three
loveliest models in all the countryside!

Children, of course, are common enough everywhere; not, perhaps, as
common as they should be, but there are a good many clean, well-behaved,
truthful, decently-featured little boys and girls who will, in course of
time, become the bulwarks of the Republic, who are of no use as models.
The public is not interested in, and will neither purchase nor hang on
its walls anything but a winsome child, a beautiful child, a pathetic
child, or a picturesquely ragged and dirty child.  (The latter type is
preferably a foreigner, as dirty American children are for some reason or
other quite unsalable.)

All this is in explanation of the foregoing remarks about Mrs.
Beresford’s ingenuity, thrift, and genius in selecting types to paint.
The ingenuity lay in the idea itself; the thrift, in securing models that
should belong to the Beresford “sit-fast acres” and not have to be
searched for and “hired in” by the day; and the genius, in producing
nothing but enchanting, engrossing, adorable, eminently “paintable”
children.  They are just as obedient, interesting, grammatical, and
virtuous as other people’s offspring, yet they are so beautiful that it
would be the height of selfishness not to let the world see them and turn
green with envy.

When viewed by the casual public in a gallery, nobody of course believes
that they are real until some kind friend says: “No, oh, no! not ideal
heads at all; perfect likenesses; the children of Mr. and Mrs. Beresford;
Penelope Hamilton, whose signature you see in the corner, _is_ Mrs.
Beresford.”

When they are exhibited in the guise of, and under such titles as: “Young
April,” “In May Time,” “Girl with Chickens,” “Three of a Kind” (Billy
with a kitten and a puppy tumbling over him), “Little Mothers” (Frances
and Sally with their dolls), “When all the World is Young” (Billy,
Frances, and Sally under the trees surrounded by a riot of young
feathered things, with a lamb and a Jersey calf peeping over a fence in
the background), then Himself stealthily visits the gallery.  He stands
somewhere near the pictures pulling his moustache nervously and listening
to the comments of the bystanders.  Not a word of his identity or
paternity does he vouchsafe, but occasionally some acquaintance happens
to draw near, perhaps to compliment or congratulate him.  Then he has
been heard to say vaingloriously: “Oh, no! they are not flattered; rather
the reverse.  My wife has an extraordinary faculty of catching
likenesses, and of course she has a wonderful talent, but she agrees with
me that she never quite succeeds in doing the children justice!”

Here we are, then, Himself and I, growing old with the country that gave
us birth (God bless it!) and our children growing up with it, as they
always should; for it must have occurred to the reader that I am
Penelope, Hamilton that was, and also, and above all, that I am Mrs.
William Hunt Beresford.

                                                          _April_ 20, 19–.

Himself and I have gone through the inevitable changes that life and
love, marriage and parenthood, bring to all human creatures; but no one
of the dear old group of friends has so developed as Francesca.  Her last
letter, posted in Scotland and delivered here seven days later, is like a
breath of the purple heather and brings her vividly to mind.

In the old days when we first met she was gay, irresponsible, vivacious,
and a decided flirt,—with symptoms of becoming a coquette.  She was
capricious and exacting; she had far too large an income for a young girl
accountable to nobody; she was lovely to look upon, a product of cities
and a trifle spoiled.

She danced through Europe with Salemina and me, taking in no more
information than she could help, but charming everybody that she met.
She was only fairly well educated, and such knowledge as she possessed
was vague, uncertain, and never ready for instant use.  In literature she
knew Shakespeare, Balzac, Thackeray, Hawthorne, and Longfellow, but if
you had asked her to place Homer, Schiller, Dante, Victor Hugo, James
Fenimore Cooper, or Thoreau she couldn’t have done it within a hundred
years.

In history she had a bowing acquaintance with Napoleon, Washington,
Wellington, Prince Charlie, Henry of Navarre, Paul Revere, and Stonewall
Jackson, but as these gallant gentlemen stand on the printed page, so
they stood shoulder to shoulder, elbowing one another in her pretty head,
made prettier by a wealth of hair, Marcel-waved twice a week.

These facts were brought out once in examination, by one of Francesca’s
earliest lovers, who, at Salemina’s request and my own, acted as her
tutor during the spring before our first trip abroad, the general idea
being to prepare her mind for foreign travel.

I suppose we were older and should have known better than to allow any
man under sixty to tutor Francesca in the spring.  Anyhow, the season
worked its maddest pranks on the pedagogue.  He fell in love with his
pupil within a few days,—they were warm, delicious, budding days, for it
was a very early, verdant, intoxicating spring that produced an unusual
crop of romances in our vicinity.  Unfortunately the tutor was a scholar
at heart, as well as a potential lover, and he interested himself in
making psychological investigations of Francesca’s mind.  She was
perfectly willing, for she always regarded her ignorance as a huge joke,
instead of viewing it with shame and embarrassment.  What was more
natural, when she drove, rode, walked, sailed, danced, and “sat out” to
her heart’s content, while more learned young ladies stayed within doors
and went to bed at nine o’clock with no vanity-provoking memories to lull
them to sleep?  The fact that she might not be positive as to whether
Dante or Milton wrote “Paradise Lost,” or Palestrina antedated Berlioz,
or the Mississippi River ran north and south or east and west,—these
trifling uncertainties had never cost her an offer of marriage or the
love of a girl friend; so she was perfectly frank and offered no
opposition to the investigations of the unhappy but conscientious tutor,
meeting his questions with the frankness of a child.  Her attitude of
mind was the more candid because she suspected the passion of the teacher
and knew of no surer way to cure him than to let him know her mind for
what it was.

When the staggering record of her ignorance on seven subjects was set
down in a green-covered blank book, she awaited the result not only with
resignation, but with positive hope; a hope that proved to be
ill-founded, for curiously enough the tutor was still in love with her.
Salemina was surprised, but I was not.  Of course I had to know anatomy
in order to paint, but there is more in it than that.  In painting the
outsides of people I assure you that I learned to guess more of what was
inside them than their bony structures!  I sketched the tutor while he
was examining Francesca and I knew that there were no abysmal depths of
ignorance that could appall him where she was concerned.  He couldn’t
explain the situation at all, himself.  If there was anything that he
admired and respected in woman, it was a well-stored, logical mind, and
three months’ tutoring of Francesca had shown him that her mental
machinery was of an obsolete pattern and that it was not even in good
working order.  He could not believe himself influenced (so he confessed
to me) by such trivial things as curling lashes, pink ears, waving hair
(he had never heard of Marcel), or mere beauties of colour and line and
form.  He said he was not so sure about Francesca’s eyes.  Eyes like
hers, he remarked in confidence, were not beneath the notice of any man,
be he President of Harvard University or Master of Balliol College, for
they seemed to promise something never once revealed in the green
examination book.

“You are quite right,” I answered him; “the green book is not all there
is of Miss Monroe, but whatever there is is plainly not for you”; and he
humbly agreed with my dictum.

Is it not strange that a man will talk to one woman about the charms of
another for days upon days without ever realizing that she may possibly
be born for some other purpose than listening to him?  For an hour or
two, of course, any sympathetic or generous-minded person can be
interested in the confidences of a lover; but at the end of weeks or
months, during which time he has never once regarded his listener as a
human being of the feminine gender, with eyes, nose, and hair in no way
inferior to those of his beloved,—at the end of that time he should be
shaken, smitten, waked from his dreams, and told in ringing tones that in
a tolerably large universe there are probably two women worth looking at,
the one about whom he is talking, and the one to whom he is talking!

                                                            _May_ 12, 19–.

To go on about Francesca, she always had a quick intelligence, a sense of
humour, a heart, and a conscience; four things not to be despised in the
equipment of a woman.  The wit she used lavishly for the delight of the
world at large; the heart had not (in the tutor’s time) found anything or
anybody on which to spend itself; the conscience certainly was not
working overtime at the same period, but I always knew that it was there
and would be an excellent reliable organ when once aroused.

Of course there is no reason why the Reverend Ronald MacDonald, of the
Established Church of Scotland, should have been the instrument chosen to
set all the wheels of Francesca’s being in motion, but so it was; and a
great clatter and confusion they made in our Edinburgh household when the
machinery started!  If Ronald was handsome he was also a splendid fellow;
if he was a preacher he was also a man; and no member of the laity could
have been more ardently and satisfactorily in love than he.  It was the
ardour that worked the miracle; and when Francesca was once warmed
through to the core, she began to grow.  Her modest fortune helped things
a little at the beginning of their married life, for it not only made
existence easier, but enabled them to be of more service in the
straggling, struggling country parishes where they found themselves at
first.

Francesca’s beautiful American clothes shocked Ronald’s congregations now
and then, and it was felt that, though possible, it was not very
probable, that the grace of God could live with such hats and shoes, such
gloves and jewels as hers.  But by the time Ronald was called from his
Argyllshire church to St. Giles’s Cathedral in Edinburgh there was a
better understanding of young Mrs. MacDonald’s raiment and its relation
to natural and revealed religion.  It appeared now that a clergyman’s
wife, by strict attention to parochial duties; by being the mother of
three children all perfectly well behaved in church; by subscribing
generously to all worthy charities; by never conducting herself as
light-mindedly as her eyes and conversation seemed to portend,—it
appeared that a woman _could_ live down her clothes!  It was a Bishop, I
think, who argued in Francesca’s behalf that godliness did not
necessarily dwell in frieze and stout leather and that it might flourish
in lace and chiffon.  Salemina and I used to call Ronald and Francesca
the antinomic pair.  Antinomics, one finds by consulting the authorities,
are apparently contradictory poles, which, however, do not really
contradict, but are only correlatives, the existence of one making the
existence of the other necessary, explaining each other and giving each
other a real standing and equilibrium.

                                                             _May_ 7, 19–.

What immeasurable leagues of distance lie between Salemina, Francesca,
and me!  Not only leagues of space divide us, but the difference in
environment, circumstances, and responsibilities that give reality to
space; yet we have bridged the gulf successfully by a particular sort of
three-sided correspondence, almost impersonal enough to be published, yet
revealing all the little details of daily life one to the other.

When we three found that we should be inevitably separated for some
years, we adopted the habit of a “loose-leaf diary.”  The pages are
perforated with large circular holes and put together in such a way that
one can remove any leaf without injuring the book.  We write down, as the
spirit moves us, the more interesting happenings of the day, and once in
a fortnight, perhaps, we slip a half-dozen selected pages into an
envelope and the packet starts on its round between America, Scotland,
and Ireland.  In this way we have kept up with each other without any
apparent severing of intimate friendship, and a farmhouse in New England,
a manse in Scotland, and the Irish home of a Trinity College professor
and his lady are brought into frequent contact.

Inspired by Francesca’s last budget, full of all sorts of revealing
details of her daily life, I said to Himself at breakfast: “I am not
going to paint this morning, nor am I going to ‘keep house’; I propose to
write in my loose-leaf diary, and what is more I propose to write about
marriage!”

When I mentioned to Himself the subject I intended to treat, he looked up
in alarm.

“Don’t, I beg of you, Penelope,” he said.  “If you do it the other two
will follow suit.  Women cannot discuss marriage without dragging in
husbands, and MacDonald, La Touche, and I won’t have a leg to stand upon.
The trouble with these ‘loose leaves’ that you three keep for ever in
circulation is, that the cleverer they are the more publicity they get.
Francesca probably reads your screeds at her Christian Endeavour meetings
just as you cull extracts from Salemina’s for your Current Events Club.
In a word, the loosened leaf leads to the loosened tongue, and that’s
rather epigrammatic for a farmer at breakfast time.”

“I am not going to write about husbands,” I said, “least of all my own,
but about marriage as an institution; the part it plays in the evolution
of human beings.”

“Nevertheless, everything you say about it will reflect upon me,” argued
Himself.  “The only husband a woman knows is her own husband, and
everything she thinks about marriage is gathered from her own
experience.”

“Your attitude is not only timid, it is positively cowardly!” I
exclaimed.  “You are an excellent husband as husbands go, and I don’t
consider that I have retrograded mentally or spiritually during our ten
years of life together.  It is true nothing has been said in private or
public about any improvement in me due to your influence, but perhaps
that is because the idea has got about that your head is easily turned by
flattery.—Anyway, I shall be entirely impersonal in what I write.  I
shall say I believe in marriage because I cannot think of any better
arrangement; also that I believe in marrying men because there is nothing
else _to_ marry.  I shall also quote that feminist lecturer who said that
the bitter business of every woman in the world is to convert a trap into
a home.  Of course I laughed inwardly, but my shoulders didn’t shake for
two minutes as yours did.  They were far more eloquent than any loose
leaf from a diary; for they showed every other man in the audience that
you didn’t consider that _you_ had to set any ‘traps’ for _me_!”

Himself leaned back in his chair and gave way to unbridled mirth.  When
he could control his speech, he wiped the tears from his eyes and said
offensively:—

“Well, I didn’t; did I?”

“No,” I replied, flinging the tea-cosy at his head, missing it, and
breaking the oleander on the plant-shelf ten feet distant.

“You wouldn’t be unmarried for the world!” said Himself.  “You couldn’t
paint every day, you know you couldn’t; and where could you find anything
so beautiful to paint as your own children unless you painted me; and it
just occurs to me that you never paid me the compliment of asking me to
sit for you.”

“I can’t paint men,” I objected.  “They are too massive and rugged and
ugly.  Their noses are big and hard and their bones show through
everywhere excepting when they are fat and then they are disgusting.
Their eyes don’t shine, their hair is never beautiful, they have no
dimples in their hands and elbows; you can’t see their mouths because of
their moustaches, and generally it’s no loss; and their clothes are stiff
and conventional with no colour, nor any flowing lines to paint.”

“I know where you keep your ‘properties,’ and I’ll make myself a mass of
colour and flowing lines if you’ll try me,” Himself said meekly.

“No, dear,” I responded amiably.  “You are very nice, but you are not a
costume man, and I shudder to think what you would make of yourself if I
allowed you to visit my property-room.  If I ever have to paint you (not
for pleasure, but as a punishment), you shall wear your everyday
corduroys and I’ll surround you with the children; then you know
perfectly well that the public will never notice you at all.”  Whereupon
I went to my studio built on the top of the long rambling New England
shed and loved what I painted yesterday so much that I went on with it,
finding that I had said to Himself almost all that I had in mind to say,
about marriage as an institution.

                                                           _June_ 15, 19–.

We were finishing luncheon on the veranda with all out of doors to give
us appetite.  It was Buttercup Sunday, a yellow June one that had been
preceded by Pussy Willow Sunday, Dandelion Sunday, Apple Blossom, Wild
Iris, and Lilac Sunday, to be followed by Daisy and Black-Eyed Susan and
White Clematis and Goldenrod and Wild Aster and Autumn Leaf Sundays.

Francie was walking over the green-sward with a bowl and spoon, just as
our Scottish men friends used to do with oat-meal at breakfast time.  The
Sally-baby was blowing bubbles in her milk, and Himself and I were
discussing a book lately received from London.

Suddenly I saw Billy, who had wandered from the table, sitting on the
steps bending over a tiny bird’s egg in his open hand.  I knew that he
must have taken it from some low-hung nest, but taken it in innocence,
for he looked at it with solicitude as an object of tender and fragile
beauty.  He had never given a thought to the mother’s days of patient
brooding, nor that he was robbing the summer world of one bird’s flight
and one bird’s song.

“Did you hear the whippoorwills singing last night, Daddy?” I asked.

“I did, indeed, and long before sunrise this morning.  There must be a
new family in our orchard, I think; but then we have coaxed hundreds of
birds our way this spring by our little houses, our crumbs, and our
drinking dishes.”

“Yes, we have never had so many since we came here to live.  Look at that
little brown bird flying about in the tall apple-tree, Francie; she seems
to be in trouble.”

“P’r’haps it’s Mrs. Smiff’s wenomous cat,” exclaimed Francie, running to
look for a particularly voracious animal that lived across the fields,
but had been known to enter our bird-Eden.

“Hear this, Daddy; isn’t it pretty?” I said, taking up the “Life of
Dorothy Grey.”

Billy pricked up his ears, for he can never see a book opened without
running to join the circle, so eager he is not to lose a precious word.

“The wren sang early this morning” (I read slowly).  “We talked about it
at breakfast and how many people there were who would not be aware of it;
and E. said, ‘Fancy, if God came in and said: “Did you notice my wren?”
and they were obliged to say they had not known it was there!’”

Billy rose quietly and stole away behind the trees, returning in a few
moments, empty-handed, to stand by my side.

“Does God know how many eggs there are in a bird’s nest, mother?” he
asked.

“People have so many different ideas about what God sees and takes note
of, that it’s hard to say, sonny.  Of course you remember that the Bible
says not one sparrow falls to the ground but He knows it.”

“The mother bird can’t count her eggs, can she, mother?”

“Oh! Billy, you do ask the hardest questions; ones that I can never
answer by Yes and No!  She broods her eggs all day and all night and
never lets them get cold, so she must know, at any rate, that they are
going to _be_ birds, don’t you think?  And of course she wouldn’t want to
lose one; that’s the reason she’s so faithful!”

“Well!” said Billy, after a long pause, “I don’t care quite so much about
the mother, because sometimes there are five eggs in a weeny, weeny nest
that never could hold five little ones without their scrunching each
other and being uncomfortable.  But if God should come in and say: ‘Did
you take my egg, that was going to be a bird?’ I just couldn’t bear it!”

                                                           _June_ 15, 19–.

Another foreign mail is in and the village postmistress has sent an
impassioned request that I steam off the stamps for her boy’s album,
enriched during my residence here by specimens from eleven different
countries. (“Mis’ Beresford beats the Wanderin’ Jew all holler if so be
she’s be’n to all them places, an’ come back alive!”—so she says to
Himself.)  Among the letters there is a budget of loose leaves from
Salemina’s diary, Salemina, who is now Mrs. Gerald La Touche, wife of
Professor La Touche, of Trinity College, Dublin, and stepmother to
Jackeen and Broona La Touche.

It is midsummer, College is not in session, and they are at Rosnaree
House, their place in County Meath.

Salemina is the one of our trio who continues to move in grand society.
She it is who dines at the Viceregal Lodge and Dublin Castle.  She it is
who goes with her distinguished husband for week-ends with the Master of
the Horse, the Lord Chancellor, and the Dean of the Chapel Royal.
Francesca, it is true, makes her annual bow to the Lord High Commissioner
at Holyrood Palace and dines there frequently during Assembly Week; and
as Ronald numbers one Duke, two Earls, and several Countesses and Dowager
Countesses in his parish, there are awe-inspiring visiting cards to be
found in the silver salver on her hall table,—but Salemina in Ireland
literally lives with the great, of all classes and conditions!  She is in
the heart of the Irish Theatre and the Modern Poetry movements,—and when
she is not hobnobbing with playwrights and poets she is consorting with
the Irish nobility and gentry.

I cannot help thinking that she would still be Miss Peabody, of Salem,
Massachusetts, had it not been for my generous and helpful offices, and
those of Francesca!  Never were two lovers, parted in youth in America
and miraculously reunited in middle age in Ireland, more recalcitrant in
declaring their mutual affection than Dr. La Touche and Salemina!
Nothing in the world divided them but imaginary barriers.  He was not
rich, but he had a comfortable salary and a dignified and honourable
position among men.  He had two children, but they were charming, and
therefore so much to the good.  Salemina was absolutely “foot loose” and
tied down to no duties in America, so no one could blame her for marrying
an Irishman.  She had never loved any one else, and Dr. La Touche might
have had that information for the asking; but he was such a bat for
blindness, adder for deafness, and lamb for meekness that because she
refused him once, when she was the only comfort of an aged mother and
father, he concluded that she would refuse him again, though she was now
alone in the world.  His late wife, a poor, flighty, frivolous invalid,
the kind of woman who always entangles a sad, vague, absent-minded
scholar, had died six years before, and never were there two children so
in need of a mother as Jackeen and Broona, a couple of affectionate,
hot-headed, bewitching, ragged, tousled Irish darlings.  I would
cheerfully have married Dr. Gerald myself, just for the sake of his
neglected babies, but I dislike changes and I had already espoused
Himself.

However, a summer in Ireland, undertaken with no such great stakes in
mind as Salemina’s marriage, made possible a chance meeting of the two
old friends.  This was followed by several others, devised by us with
incendiary motives, and without Salemina’s knowledge.  There was also the
unconscious plea of the children working a daily spell; there was the
past, with its memories, tugging at both their hearts; and above all
there was a steady, dogged, copious stream of mental suggestion emanating
from Francesca and me, so that, in course of time, our middle-aged couple
did succeed in confessing to each other that a separate future was
impossible for them.

They never would have encountered each other had it not been for us;
never, never would have become engaged; and as for the wedding, we
forcibly led them to the altar, saying that we must leave Ireland and the
ceremony could not be delayed.

Not that we are the recipients of any gratitude for all this!  Rather the
reverse!  They constantly allude to their marriage as made in Heaven,
although there probably never was another union where creatures of earth
so toiled and slaved to assist the celestial powers.

I wonder why middle-aged and elderly lovers make such an appeal to me!
Is it because I have lived much in New England, where “ladies-in-waiting”
are all too common,—where the wistful bride-groom has an invalid mother
to support, or a barren farm out of which he cannot wring a living, or a
malignant father who cherishes a bitter grudge against his son’s chosen
bride and all her kindred,—where the woman herself is compassed about
with obstacles, dragging out a pinched and colourless existence year
after year?

And when at length the two waiting ones succeed in triumphing over
circumstances, they often come together wearily, soberly, with half the
joy pressed out of life.  Young lovers have no fears!  That the future
holds any terrors, difficulties, bugbears of any sort they never seem to
imagine, and so they are delightful and amusing to watch in their gay and
sometimes irresponsible and selfish courtships; but they never tug at my
heart-strings as their elders do, when the great, the long-delayed moment
comes.

Francesca and I, in common with Salemina’s other friends, thought that
she would never marry.  She had been asked often enough in her youth, but
she was not the sort of woman who falls in love at forty.  What we did
not know was that she had fallen in love with Gerald La Touche at
five-and-twenty and had never fallen out,—keeping her feelings to herself
during the years that he was espoused to another, very unsuitable lady.
Our own sentimental experiences, however, had sharpened our eyes, and we
divined at once that Dr. La Touche, a scholar of fifty, shy, reserved,
self-distrustful, and oh! so in need of anchor and harbour,—that he was
the only husband in the world for Salemina; and that he, after giving all
that he had and was to an unappreciative woman, would be unspeakably
blessed in the wife of our choosing.

I remember so well something that he said to me once as we sat at
twilight on the bank of the lake near Devorgilla.  The others were rowing
toward us bringing the baskets for a tea picnic, and we, who had come in
the first boat, were talking quietly together about intimate things.  He
told me that a frail old scholar, a brother professor, used to go back
from the college to his house every night bowed down with weariness and
pain and care, and that he used to say to his wife as he sank into his
seat by the fire: “Oh! praise me, my wife, praise me!”

My eyes filled and I turned away to hide the tears when Dr. Gerald
continued absently: “As for me, Mistress Beresford, when I go home at
night I take my only companion from the mantelshelf and leaning back in
my old armchair say, ‘Praise me, my pipe, praise me!’”

And Salemina Peabody was in the boat coming toward us, looking as
serenely lovely in a grey tweed and broad white hat as any good sweet
woman of forty could look, while he gazed at her “through a glass darkly”
as if she were practically non-existent, or had nothing whatever to do
with the case.

I concealed rebellious opinions of blind bats, deaf adders, meek lambs,
and obstinate pigs, but said very gently and impersonally: “I hope you
won’t always allow your pipe to be your only companion;—you, with your
children, your name and position, your home and yourself to give—to
somebody!”

But he only answered: “You exaggerate, my dear madam; there is not enough
left in me or of me to offer to any woman!”

And I could do nothing but make his tea graciously and hand it to him,
wondering that he was able to see the cup or the bread-and-butter
sandwich that I put into his modest, ungrateful hand.

However, it is all a thing of the past, that dim, sweet, grey romance
that had its rightful background in a country of subdued colourings, of
pensive sweetness, of gentle greenery, where there is an eternal
wistfulness in the face of the natural world, speaking of the springs of
hidden tears.

Their union is a perfect success, and I echo the Boots of the inn at
Devorgilla when he said: “An’ sure it’s the doctor that’s the satisfied
man an’ the luck is on him as well as on e’er a man alive!  As for her
ladyship, she’s one o’ the blessings o’ the wurruld an’ ’t would be an
o’jus pity to spile two houses wid ’em.”

                                                           _July_ 12, 19–.

We were all out in the orchard sunning ourselves on the little haycocks
that the “hired man” had piled up here and there under the trees.

“It is not really so beautiful as Italy,” I said to Himself, gazing up at
the newly set fruit on the apple boughs and then across the close-cut hay
field to the level pasture, with its rocks and cow paths, its blueberry
bushes and sweet fern, its clumps of young sumachs, till my eyes fell
upon the deep green of the distant pines.  “I can’t bear to say it,
because it seems disloyal, but I almost believe I think so.”

“It is not as picturesque,” Himself agreed grudgingly, his eye following
mine from point to point; “and why do we love it so?”

“There is nothing delicious and luxuriant about it,” I went on
critically, “yet it has a delicate, ethereal, austere, straight-forward
Puritanical loveliness of its own; but, no, it is not as beautiful as
Italy or Ireland, and it isn’t as tidy as England.  If you keep away from
the big manufacturing towns and their outskirts you may go by motor or
railway through shire after shire in England and never see anything
unkempt, down-at-the-heel, out-at-elbows, or ill-cared-for; no
broken-down fences or stone walls; no heaps of rubbish or felled trees by
the wayside; no unpainted or tottering buildings—”

“You see plenty of ruins,” interrupted Himself in a tone that promised
argument.

“Yes, but ruins are different; they are finished; they are not tottering,
they _have_ tottered!  Our country is too big, I suppose, to be ‘tidy,’
but how I should like to take just one of the United States and clear it
up, back yards and all, from border line to border line!”

“You are talking like a housewife now, not like an artist,” said Himself
reprovingly.

“Well, I am both, I hope, and I don’t intend that any one shall know
where the one begins or the other leaves off, either!  And if any
foreigner should remark that America is unfinished or untidy I shall deny
it!”

“Fie!  Penelope!  You who used to be a citizen of the world!”

“So I am still, so far as a roving foot and a knowledge of three
languages can make me; but you remember that the soul ‘retains the
characteristic of its race and the heart is true to its own country, even
to its own parish.’”

“When shall we be going to the other countries, mother?” asked Billy.
“When shall we see our aunt in Scotland and our aunt in Ireland?”  (Poor
lambs!  Since the death of their Grandmother Beresford they do not
possess a real relation in the world!)

“It will not be very long, Billy,” I said.  “We don’t want to go until we
can leave the perambulator behind.  The Sally-baby toddles now, but she
must be able to walk on the English downs and the Highland heather.”

“And the Irish bogs,” interpolated Billy, who has a fancy for detail.

“Well, the Irish bogs are not always easy travelling,” I answered, “but
the Sally-baby will soon be old enough to feel the spring of the Irish
turf under her feet.”

“What will the chickens and ducklings and pigeons do while we are gone?”
asked Francie.

“An’ the lammies?” piped the Sally-baby, who has all the qualities of
Mary in the immortal lyric.

“Oh! we won’t leave home until the spring has come and all the young
things are born.  The grass will be green, the dandelions will have their
puff-balls on, the apple blossoms will be over, and Daddy will get a kind
man to take care of everything for us.  It will be May time and we will
sail in a big ship over to the aunts and uncles in Scotland and Ireland
and I shall show them my children—”

“And we shall play ‘hide-and-go-coop’ with their children,” interrupted
Francie joyously.

“They will never have heard of that game, but you will all play
together!”  And here I leaned back on the warm haycock and blinked my
eyes a bit in moist anticipation of happiness to come.  “There will be
eight-year-old Ronald MacDonald to climb and ride and sail with our
Billy; and there will be little Penelope who is named for me, and will be
Francie’s playmate; and the new little boy baby—”

“Proba’ly Aunt Francie’s new boy baby will grow up and marry our girl
one,” suggested Billy.

“He has my consent to the alliance in advance,” said Himself, “but I dare
say your mother has arranged it all in her own mind and my advice will
not be needed.”

“I have not arranged anything,” I retorted; “or if I have it was nothing
more than a thought of young Ronald or Jack La Touche in—another
quarter,”—this with discreetly veiled emphasis.

“What is another quarter, mother?” inquired Francie, whose mental agility
is somewhat embarrassing.

“Oh, why,—well,—it is any other place than the one you are talking about.
Do you see?”

“Not so very well, but p’r’aps I will in a minute.”

“Hope springs eternal!” quoted Francie’s father.

“And then, as I was saying before being interrupted by the entire family,
we will go and visit the Irish cousins, Jackeen and Broona, who belong to
Aunt Salemina and Uncle Gerald, and the Sally-baby will be the centre of
attraction because she is her Aunt Salemina’s godchild—”

“But we are all God’s children,” insisted Billy.

“Of course we are.”

“What’s the difference between a god-child and a God’s child?”

“The bottle of chloroform is in the medicine closet, my poor dear; shall
I run and get it?” murmured Himself _sotto voce_.

“Every child is a child of God,” I began helplessly, “and when she is
somebody’s godchild she—oh! lend me your handkerchief, Billy!”

“Is it the nose-bleed, mother?” he asked, bending over me solicitously.

“No, oh, no! it’s nothing at all, dear.  Perhaps the hay was going to
make me sneeze.  What was I saying?”

“About the god—”

“Oh, yes!  I remember!  (_Ka-choo_!)  We will take the Irish cousins and
the Scotch cousins and go all together to see the Tower of London and
Westminster Abbey.  We’ll go to Bushey Park and see the chestnuts in
bloom, and will dine at Number 10, Dovermarle Street—”

“I shall not go there, Billy,” said Himself.  “It was at Number 10,
Dovermarle Street that your mother told me she wouldn’t marry me; or at
least that she’d have to do a lot of thinking before she’d say Yes; so
she left London and went to North Malvern.”

“Couldn’t she think in London?”  (This was Billy.)

“Didn’t she always want to be married to you?”  (This was Francie.)

“Not always.”

“Didn’t she like _us_?”  (Still Francie.)

“You were never mentioned,—not one of you!”

“That seems rather queer!” remarked Billy, giving me a reproachful look.

“So we’ll leave the Irish and Scotch uncles and aunts behind and go to
North Malvern just by ourselves.  It was there that your mother concluded
that she _would_ marry me, and I rather like the place.”

“Mother loves it, too; she talks to me about it when she puts me to bed.”
(Francie again.)

“No doubt; but you’ll find your mother’s heart scattered all over the
Continent of Europe.  One bit will be clinging to a pink thorn in
England; another will be in the Highlands somewhere,—wherever the
heather’s in bloom; another will be hanging on the Irish gorse bushes
where they are yellowest; and another will be hidden under the seat of a
Venetian gondola.”

“Don’t listen to Daddy’s nonsense, children!  He thinks mother throws her
heart about recklessly while he loves only one thing at a time.”

“Four things!” expostulated Himself, gallantly viewing our little group
at large.

“Strictly speaking, we are not four things, we are only four parts of one
thing;—counting you in, and I really suppose you ought to be counted in,
we are five parts of one thing.”

“Shall we come home again from the other countries?” asked Billy.

“Of course, sonny!  The little Beresfords must come back and grow up with
their own country.”

“Am I a little Beresford, mother?” asked Francie, looking wistfully at
her brother as belonging to the superior sex and the eldest besides.

“Certainly.”

“And is the Sally-baby one too?”

Himself laughed unrestrainedly at this.

“She is,” he said, “but you are more than half mother, with your
unexpectednesses.”

“I love to be more than half mother!” cried Francie, casting herself
violently about my neck and imbedding me in the haycock.

“Thank you, dear, but pull me up now.  It’s supper-time.”

Billy picked up the books and the rug and made preparations for the brief
journey to the house.  I put my hair in order and smoothed my skirts.

“Will there be supper like ours in the other countries, mother?” he
asked.  “And if we go in May time, when do we come back again?”

Himself rose from the ground with a luxurious stretch of his arms,
looking with joy and pride at our home fields bathed in the afternoon
midsummer sun.  He took the Sally-baby’s outstretched hands and lifted
her, crowing, to his shoulder.

“Help sister over the stubble, my son.—We’ll come away from the other
countries whenever mother says: ‘Come, children, it’s time for supper.’”

“We’ll be back for Thanksgiving,” I assured Billy, holding him by one
hand and Francie by the other, as we walked toward the farmhouse.  “We
won’t live in the other countries, because Daddy’s ‘sit-fast acres’ are
here in New England.”

“But whenever and wherever we five are together, especially wherever
mother is, it will always be home,” said Himself thankfully, under his
breath.





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