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life of a group of charming persons. It has some really interesting details to be picked out of its now tiresome pages. It is an elaborate tribute to and expression of beauty, art, and youth. It lets us see the queen herself moving from her garden at the end of day, lighted by torches, going up the steps of the castle, seated at table, and again in the garden. There, with the music of beautiful instruments, noted as such; the singing, the talk, the grace and virginal loveliness of the three ladies of the court; the decorous freedom of manner, the unfailing tribute to beauty, the grave glance, the golden hair, the blush; even the contour of the breast of Sabinetta-who, owing to the heat of the day, wore the thinnest vesture, and blushed under the glance of Gismondo one realizes from such touches and traits a pretty moment of life in an enchanting place. It was all lived in the garden of the very castle whose noble tower is yet to be seen at Asolo; and while those dear people sat in the shade by a fountain, or passed through the solemn darkness of a thick grove, the queen slept. It was a day of September when the conversation was begun so pleasantly, and the queen, herself, hearing of the pleasant discussion, came to preside at the conclusion of it.
Do not think that Asolo means but the promenade-place of the Lady of Asolo, or owes the most to an unread book. It means something far more interesting, richer and better than the shell of extinct life. It means poetry and a wide vision of nature; it means something that endures, and is dear to memory. Robert Browning, in "Asolando," with a felicitous title, associated his last verse with the place of his choice; but the book, it must be admitted, has little of Asolo in it. The lover of his poetry knows, however, where to look for his Asolo. If you would know and feel the fire and pas sion of his first Asolan days, read his earlier verse, where you will find impressions of Asolo, to the very last "crimson wave that drifts the sun away:"
Last year's sunsets and great stars That had a right to come first and see ebb The crimson wave that drifts the sun away
Those crescent moons with notched and burning rims
That strengthened with sharp fire, and there stood
Impatient of the azure-and that day In March, a double rainbow stopped the storm
May's warm, slow, yellow, moonlit summer nights
Gone are they, but I have them in my soul.
That is poetry; and it is an expression of what the poet saw and felt at Asolo; it is the note of nature there, where yet one may asolare, that is to say, "disport in the open air, amuse one's self at random." No railway traverses the Asolan Country. EUGENE BENSON.
From Blackwood's Magazine, MY PEASANT HOST OF THE DORDOGNE.
The quest of game may often have led to curious discoveries. In my case, at any rate, the desire for sport made me acquainted with as original a section of humanity as one could wish to find; and the newness of my surroundings somewhat atoned for the scarcity of the lazy quail or too wild partridge.
Getting out of the train at LamotheMontravel, I was not disappointed to find a station utterly devoid of movement. This was the kind of place I haď sought and expected. I asked the chef de gare, who was fumbling with some packages that had to go off by the next train, to direct me to Flaujagues, in which village lived my peasant-proprietor host of the Dordogne. His explanation that the little fishing village lay on the opposite side of the Dordogne was interrupted by the strident voice of Alain Lafarge himself. Two hundred yards off did the blagueur begin his
"Yes, I am late. Well, I had the carriage out with four horses but they couldn't get on to the ferry-boat, so I had to leave them on the other side.
And," he continued, by way of welcome, ing village, with stone terraces and
"my wife is furious at you for coming as she has nothing ready." In this strain he continued to harangue me until he had come within a yard or two of where I stood; then, stopping suddenly, he raised his hat or alpaca smoking-cap, and said dryly, "Bonjour, monsieur." It was an action peculiar to the Girondin peasant. He will talk to you for some minutes at a certain distance, but on approaching will interrupt his conversation to bid you good-day.
Lafarge seized my somewhat heavy valise, carrying it with an ease which showed that although he was a small man, hard work had developed his muscles. On the way to the ferry-a walk of half a mile-he kept up an un、 ceasing flow of badinage.
"I suppose you mean to stay two or three days with this bagful? I am glad you have brought more than one shirt. Now the hot weather has set in, I shall not be sorry to borrow one from you. The one I have worn all this time is unpleasant," and so on.
At length we got to the ferry, where an aged man was resting on the one oar with which all the fishing-boats on the Dordogne are propelled-from the stern, of course.
"You see this gentleman," said Lafarge, "He ferries people over all day, wet or fine, and he is sixty-five, and as strong as a young man. He is often very drunk," he added in an aside to me, "mais un brave homme quand même."
I noticed in this the odd custom of the peasants of describing each other as monsieur, madame, and so forth. At another time Lafarge said to me, "You see that young lady (cette demoiselle) tending those sheep; she is a charming young lady." (She was indeed shapeless and ugly.) "Her family are very rich. They have perhaps twelve thousand francs. Still she has never found any one to marry her." And so on-an endless story.
A few strokes of the oar brought us to the opposite side of the Dordogne, which at that season was very low. Flaujagues appeared a quaint little fish
steps leading down to the water's edge; but behind the terraces were cottages only, not, as one expected to find, the loggia of a semi-Italian villa. Lafarge pointed out to me the only fairly decent house, calling it the château, and explaining that it belonged to Monsieur le Maire de Flaujagues, whose only daughter was passing rich, with certainly two hundred thousand francs dot. "Et pas fière avec cela. She talks to my niece and says tu to her. She does much good in the country."
By this time we had reached our destination. Lafarge had told me so much about his terres, showing me plans of his vineyards, and describing his two houses, that I was rather disappointed to find a two-roomed cottage standing in a tangled garden, the whole bearing every sign of discomfort. My cheerful host, however, continued his blague. "This is our town-house," he explained, after greetings had passed between his wife and me. "Our country seat is on the banks of the river; you shall see it to-morrow. Let me show you over the house." A table, already roughly laid for the evening meal, stood in the corner. Pointing to this, he continued
"There is the dining-room. Where the mud-floor leaves off and the bricks begin is the kitchen, which we have to use as a salon while the reception-rooms are being redecorated. That" (pointing to a huge linen-chest) "is where we keep a little ready money; the bulk of our fortune is in the Funds. This door is conveniently constructed to open into my wife's room, my room, your room, the cellar, the kennels, and the granary." So saying, he threw open a door, revealing the only other room, and it also had a mud floor and was furnished as a bedroom. My eye was immediately caught by the bed-hangings, which were made of a kind of print which turned out to be over a hundred years old. The pattern on it represented a village marriage scene of exceeding quaintness.
Lafarge's description of the appartement had brought to my mind rooms I had heard of where whole families
slept with their friends. But my fears extracts the essences of the different were quickly dispelled by my host.
"You will be alone here," he said. “My wife and I are staying with Monsieur Noël, the grocer—a charming gentleman. You must not be frightened if you hear three knocks in the middle of the night. I cannot account for itbut it does no harm. My family have lived here for hundreds of years." And certain it is, I may say here, that one night I awoke with the half-consciousness of some one knocking. As it was Lafarge's habit to thump at the shutter to awake me, I ran and opened the window, expecting to find daylight; but the moon was high in the heavens, and no one was to be seen or heard. I was only disturbed in this way once.
We returned to the kitchen and living-room, and before dining I asked to be allowed to wash my hands. "Do so there," said Lafarge, indicating a stone sink built into the wall in a corner of the room.
An opening in the wall allowed any water which was thrown there to flow into the garden. In the sink stood a bucket filled with fresh water, and near it an ingenious tin pannikin furnished with a long tubular spout which served as a handle also. With this it was easy to fish water out of a half-empty bucket, and the spout enabled one to drink the water, or do with it as one wished. The first time I made use of this pannikin, the water went down my sleeve, but Lafarge took hold of it and allowed the water to trickle on to my hands while I washed them.
"We will have supper in the open air if you like," said he; "but first I will make a salad such as you delight in."
Having washed his hands, he proceeded to take several large tomatoes, which he peeled an important factor in the making of salad-and sliced. Then he added thin layers of raw onions, chopped green pimentos, pepper and salt. He soused the mixture in vinegar to such an extent that I feared I could never eat it; but having left the vinegar on the salad for a few minutes, he poured it all off, and then added a few spoonfuls of oil. This is the best method of making a salad. The vinegar
ingredients and enables them to mix, a process which would be hindered by the oil. The salad was the saving clause of the meal, which otherwise consisted of a tough chicken and one or two messes. The wine of my host's own growing was good as a vin ordinaire, being, indeed, of the St. Emilion district. The blagueur's chaff enlivened the repast. Being very thirsty, I drained my first glass of wine at a draught.
"In the society I have frequented," quoth Lafarge solemnly, "it is considered better manners to drink little by little. But your action is excusable when you are drinking Château Crabi, so called after my other estate."
Madame Lafarge declined to sit at table, but waited upon us with neatness and alacrity. From the garden in which we sat could be caught a glimpse of the street. Presently appeared a rather ghastly figure in a white smock or blouse covered with blood-stains, whom Lafarge hailed, explaining to me, "That gentleman is the butcher's assistant. He will help me with the boat to-night, for I want to get you a fine carp for luncheon to-morrow. I suppose you do not feel inclined to go with us?"
I assured my landlord that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see him catch some fish. He proceeded to give his instructions to the butcher's boy.
"You will go round to my brother's." "Oh!" replied the youth.
"You will ask him for the key of his boat, if he does not want to fish tonight."
"Oh!" the youth ejaculated again.
"You will bring the boat down to the lower landing-place and clear it of water."
"And you will wait there with the nets until this gentleman and I arrive." "Oh! oh!" cried the boy, and turned away.
"He evidently dislikes the idea of coming out fishing," I remarked. "Could not we manage without him?"
art in throwing it. If it is properly cast, the whole circumference of the net should touch the water simultaneously; a violent splash is thus avoided, and the
"He! He is only too pleased! I will stand him an apéritif to-morrow, and he will be delighted. What makes you think he dislikes coming?" "Well," I rejoined, "to all you said net, of course, takes in the largest possihe only answered, 'Oh!'"
ble surface of water. To achieve this
Lafarge laughed aloud and used a end, the fisherman stands in the bows of strong expression. the boat, holding the middle fold of the
"Why, O is patois for Oui, yes. Did net at the centre, or apex, in his mouth; you not know that?"
I felt rather foolish at this explanation. By way of saying something, I asked, "What is the patois for 'No'?" "Well," replied Lafarge, "that depends on whom you are talking to. If you are in the habit of tutoyer anybody, you would say 'Nou.' But if you are not on such familiar terms, you would say 'Nani.'
I endeavored to discover some other peculiarities of the patois of the district, but found it almost impossible, from the fact that the peasants them. selves pronounce a word differently every time they use it, sometimes adding a final vowel, sometimes leaving it out, always availing themselves of the Spanish habit of indifferently pronouncing the b or the v, and of the equally Spanish peculiarity of using all verbs intransitively. "Il l'a épousé à cette femme," they will say for "He has married that woman;" "Je l'ai oublié au fusil;' and so forth.
At about nine o'clock we wended our way to the river side, where the butcher boy was waiting with the boat. Lafarge had provided himself with a thick fisherman's pea-jacket and trousers. Afterwards I regretted not having taken a similar precaution, for the throwing of the nets splashes the occupants of the boat. The boat, though rough in appearance, was light enough on the water. It was flat-bottomed, but, unlike our English punts, sharp at both ends, and higher there than in the middle. The net used was of the shape called épervier, or hawk-probably on account of the sudden manner in which it descends upon the unwary fish. When spread out, the épervier is several metres in circumference, and quite circular. It has a heavy circle of lead weights round the base. There is much
while the left half of the net is then spread over his left arm and elbow. With his right hand he now seizes the outer portion of the right half, and getting a swing on the lead weights, throws it with all his strength. As I have said, the net, if properly cast, describes a circle on the water, and the leaden weights sinking, envelops the fish in its meshes. A few yards of rope attached to the centre of the net prevent its being lost. The fisherman can feel when the leads have either touched the river bottom or closed together, and pulls up carefully-and a mixture of fish is landed. There is a certain solemnity about the proceedings, for talking above a whisper is forbidden, and a skilful boatman makes no noise with the single oar with which he guides the boat from the stern. Fishing in this manner is only successful before the rising of the
On this occasion great excitement was caused by a tremendous splashing and pulling on the net. Alain Lafarge declared that there must be a twentypounder of some species in it. With great caution he proceeded to haul up the monster, meanwhile creating much commotion and striking against the sides of the boat. He had nearly got the fish to the surface when the craft drifted over some shelving rocks. The net was disarranged, and off went our prey! Such a volley of patois as followed this fiasco I never heard. A few small fish, however, had remained in the net. Of these the most appreciated was the mule, a kind of grey mullet of the river; a fish called alose, which tasted like salmon; a small barbel or two; a few small eels; a carlet or flounder; two or three bream; and some coarser fish. Before we went home we had a bucketful of fish, the largest of
which were two carp weighing some six pounds each.
The Dordogne, which at this point, by the way, divides the Gironde from the Dordogne (departments), is full of fish. In February and March lampreys are quite an object of commerce, the earliest fish fetching ten francs each, or even more. Lampreys are caught by means of baskets, resembling lobster-pots, stretched across the river from iron posts fixed into the rock. The fish are like large fat eels, of a tawny color, and weigh up to six pounds. When caught they are covered with slime, which, if not removed by dipping in scalding water, imparts a muddy flavor to the fish. The peculiarity of the lamprey is that it has absolutely no bones, and can be cut straight across in rolls before serving. There is a smaller species known as the lamproyon, which, however, is not so good. On one occasion we had a good friture of gudgeon caught on lines baited with boiled oats. Lafarge was so keen a sportsman that he hardly indulged in any of his pranks while we were fishing. Once, indeed, he appealed to us for assistance: he was being dragged into the river, he declared. The oarsman backed water, and we came to his assistance. The net was pulled in without difficulty, and was found to contain one small fish of the sardine species.
The next morning I was awakened at 5.30 by a loud knocking at my shutters. My host had come to take me out shooting. His dogs-a clever Irish setter called Jeannette, and a useless young pointer-were jumping around him, barking with delight: I never could understand why, for while out with their master they received more kicks than halfpence.
Lafarge had always told me that one could find quail close to his house; but it was certainly three-quarters of an hour before we turned off the highroad into some grass-meadows and maizefields. I had already shot woodcock with Alain, and knew him to be a good sportsman; only his unfailing contradictiousness rather spoiled the enjoyment of the chase. If I had the mis
fortune to say, "See, there is a likely bit for a quail," he would be sure to answer, "Pardon, monsieur, it is too thick" or too dry, or something. On one occasion we came upon a long ditch full of grass and weeds running through a meadow.
"That," I exclaimed, "is where we shall put up a quail."
"Pardon, monsieur; the quail will be running about feeding in the maizefields or in the flat. They would not think of putting themselves in a ditch."
At this moment the setter pointed right into the ditch, and presently we had secured a couple of quail. "Tiens, c'est étrange," said Lafarge, in no way perturbed. As a matter of fact, he was well acquainted with the habits of game. A little later on we had had a few days' rain. With my English experience, I expected that the redlegged partridges would be more wild than ever.
"After this rain," said Lafarge, "we shall be able to get much nearer the partridges in the vines. Their legs will be so clogged with clay that they will not like getting up."
We managed to shoot one or two which rose in the vines at a dozen yards, and, sure enough, their legs were trousered with yellow clay. Lafarge made me acquainted also with many facts about woodcock and other migratory birds, especially with the effect of the changes of the moon on their movements. I have since proved his statements to be true, but have no room here to record them.
This last summer was exceptionally dry, and the quail season a bad one. I need not, therefore, dwell long upon this sport. Perhaps the most amusing incidents of the day were Lafarge's remarks, and the way he apostrophized his Irish setter. She understood every word he said. When she was setting at a quail he would say, "A présent si tu remues" (if you budge you move). "Et pas de surprises," he would add. The climax in his anger was always reached when he called his dog "canaille." She would then lie flat on her back and shut her eyes as though wait