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ing, and it was not Noll's nor mine. I lay just beneath the little corner tower, and it seemed to come from there. At last I could resist no longer, and I went back to the fold, and entered it, and went to the little wall-stairway of projecting stones (Noll pressing after me and snuffing at my elbow) and climbed this; and entered the little tower cell. Two long slits were in the wall of this for shooting culverins; and now through one of them shot a shaft of sunlight, athwart the stone chamber; and beyond this, lying on a bed of heather I had made, her lips just parted, softly breathing, lay a slender maid, asleep.
I went back to my hill-slope, and thought about it. For I had never seen a young lady before, and they were not in my thoughts.
Old women were plenty round about us; and there were a few farmers' daughters in the neighborhood, but not many; for our land had been but a poor place for the marrying and giving in marriage, those dozen years before, barried first by Prince Rupert. for his Majesty, and then by my Lord Fairfax, for the Protector. But this I had seen (though I had hardly seen how old she was), was a young lady.
How had she got lost upon the moors? or rather (for the losing was no great matter to make), how had she gone upon the moor to lose herself? And, if lost, how came it she was gently sleep. ing. fearing not loneliness-in my old stone tower? And this most of all. and last,-how was I to wake her, and set her back again upon her way?
Then it occurred to me that, barring mv pony neighed, which he would not. unless hungry, the next sweetest sound was singing. And either sound would frighten her less than by direct address. So I began to sing: at first, timidly (for I was a bit frightened myself), then louder, and louder yet,-old country songs, we all knew. then-and after a bit, I fancied. she woke. and nut her head out of window. Then, she saw me (though I kept my head turned away), and then she came down the stair-way, and out the sheepfold, and
along the grassy path behind me. I felt her approach; and when she was nigh, I arose, and turned me to her, and bowed low. And when I slowly straightened up from this bow, my eyes met hers. And here I saw her; and her eyes were like the Mother Mary's eyes in heaven.
I have great pity for all such as have gone through this world untouched by love; the true, I mean, little light, little selfish, only unending in eternity and bringing a soul unto men on earth. For, as I muse on it now, it seemeth a rare experience, even among you Puritans; rarer still, in that old time of my youth when, to the one world, all that was not pleasure was food for jest, and, to the other, all that was not sanctimonious was sin. There was one Parson Herrick, a poet, not far from us; he wrote most sweetly of maids and blossoms, and what he called love; yet never wrote he a line of love as I have known it. And as for the Puritans then, they had no heart for it, nor charity; but only head, and faith in sour dogmas, and getting on in this world. Truly, as I believe, the most of men are not blest to have known my love, which by the grace of God hath so lighted my life that absenceaye, and death, without doubt-could not darken it. Even Shakespeare seemeth to me hardly to divine it; his loves are but a courtier's, or at best a shepherd's tending to possession, and ending then. Whereas, with mine, the knowing her was all; the being in the world; and if so be my heart met understanding and response, it could die no more, and the purpose of the world was full.
So is it that after three score years, my dim eyes still see her brightly. Slender she was. yet lithe and strong like the straight birch-tree; her face I may not so well describe to you: for I hardly ever saw her face, but only her eyes; nor even saw I her eyes to describe them well, but only herself in them. I think they had the color of the midmost of a mighty wave at sea: I only know that they were brave, ret marvellous gentle; and in them they
had, with pity and sweet honor, the meaning of the world. For when I looked in them, even on the second time that morning, I felt that all the good in me was known; so the evil could no longer be.
She was not lost (it seemed, she knew the moor as well as I); only had walked too far since a cool dawn, and now was resting from the drowsy heat of the August mid-morn, fearing not the moor, but liking the remoteness of it. By Combe Park had she come, and from the Abbey; a longish way, So that (perhaps but for the putting of me at greater ease) she was willing to ask if there might not be a shorter, else a leveller way home. For my tower was over by the Sadler's stone, snugged in 'twixt Exehead and mighty Chapman Barrows, thrice the height of these Massachusetts hills we have here; and she had had to cross, by down and up, two of our deepest combes, in coming. Then I told her, surely there was a shorter way, so that she might be home even by noonday; but that the byre with its little watch-tower was not mine, only that I and my pony had discovered it just as she had; and that I would go away, if she wished to sleep. And at this she smiled, and said, No, she was done with sleeping, only she liked the quiet there, coming from a house full of armed men. And by her manner, you would have thought she was a queen grown, and I (as I was) but a child.
Then (forgetting I had said the watch tower was not mine) I wanted to tell her, she might come there as often as she would; but my tongue was clumsy with it, and my cheeks burned red; so I made a show only to tell her how quiet and safe it was, and how I liked it for the great hills guarding it to east and west, and the deep scoop to the blue northern sea, and the deep blue mountains beyond, where were giants still. and they spoke even a language that was not ours.
"But how came your house full of armed men, sithen the time is peace?" said I, too bluntly: for her face crimsoned softly a bit. like a shell that is
held to the dawn. Then she turned and spoke to me truly, simply, as one who sees in life no other way; only her eyes on mine as she spoke (and there, I think, already began my happiness; only men, and surely Master Herrick, would not call it so).
"I have seen none but armed men about my grandfather since King Charles, God bless him! was slain." And I bowed at her blessing, though amazed; for of my grandfather I heard more curses than blessings ('tis true we Protestants pray not for souls of the dead, and most of those we then had cause to curse were main alive), and the very name of God served but as handle to strong blows given here on earth. And I had the breeding not to ask her more; for we, at Slocombslade, were Parliament men. Only, I thanked me that the fighting now was over. "And to-day," she added, simply, "my uncle St. Aubyn is come over from Challacombe, and even my Lord Say and Sele from Lundy. So my grandfather bade me run and play" (she ended with a smile), “and I am here."
Then I could not question her; and I might have been hard put it to find anything worthy the saying to her, but that she seeing this began to question me; and I told her much about our country, and something of the pony, and not a little, as I fancy, of myself; for next to talking of her life with her, it was sweet to have her talk of my life with me. And she had that wonderful way of seeing all the world, largely. with her wise, kind eyes; and all that there might be in a man at the first looking at him. But the day was a day of gossamer, fairy-spun; and soon the spell of it took us outward to the moors to the secretest dingle of it. where the flowers could grow in shade by little trees that were born at the birth of Farley water. Here its young life made but a greenness in the sod: and here, beneath a shelter of little ancient cedars, the fairies had indeed spun their web, even to a mighty pavilion of the gossamer skein, a half a rood in largeness. its silver roof glistening yet with the frosty dew and heaped and
tented into peaks upon the taller stalks and flowers.
We looked over to the Countisbury hill and the higher moors; and westward the heather waves rolled ever lower, into, at last, a mazy glistering of gold: while all before us were blue spheres of sea. And then she told me of her father's battling in the wars, and of her following, a little child, from keep to keep, as each in turn was taken. Now it was all but a dream to her, even as the knights in Arthur's tale; only that her old grandfather had grown more fierce, since his son's death and the king's; and would ever talk to her of them; and made the Abbey but a camp for men at arms. And then I must tell her what I knew; which was little save the knowing of the hills and fields, and some old country tales of Palomyd or Iseult and the other Christian kingdom, that we learned in our country of our nurses still.
And then she must go home; and she rode upon my pony, and let me lead him (not that he needed it, but the way was new). And I led them by Paracombe and Halwell castle, and so by Bonvile, where her own people had lived, to the Abbey. And that was all she told me on that day; but the telling of it made my life's tale.
From "King Noanett." By F. J. Stimson. Lamson Wolffe and Co., Publishers.
A SYRIAN MOURNER.
The morning before I left Nazareth, Nasif came early to the hotel and told me that a young man had died in the next street, and that the women were wailing over his body. I had wanted to see something of this sort, so I followed Nasif to the house of mourning.
I heard, as we went in, the wellknown sound of the mourning chant, coming from an unfurnished front room that opened on the street. Near the door and about the walls we saw a swarm of children; the central space
was filled by about fifty women kneeling and sitting on the floor around a bier. On the bier lay, with uncovered face, the body of a boy, perhaps sixteen years old, swathed in white, a white turban on his head, and a band passed under his chin. The arms lay straight at the sides, and a pair of vivid scarlet slippers stuck out incongruously from the bottom of the sheet.
One woman would sing a sentence or two in a moaning, drawling voice, and the others would chant it after her. clapping their hands. Then a moment's silence, broken only by an occasional sob, after which the first woman would sing once more, the chorus, weeping and clapping their hands, repeating her words. The song was a panegyric on the dead boy, and was dragged on for perhaps half an hour.
Then a boy forced his way through the crowd and handed one of the women a huge bunch of some green plant like parsley. The woman took the bunch and laid sprays about the corpse's head-literally "garnishing" it. She and the rest stopped singing and gazed at the artistic bit of decoration in silent admiration.
The rudely broken quiet of death hung once more over the room. No one spoke, and through the stillness came an incessant buzz-z-z of blue flies about the dead boy's face.
At length, with a yell, the leader of the singing jumped to her feet, and striking her hands together over her head, burst out in a new chant more dolorous than the first, hopping from one foot to the other with each word. The rest of the women rose and followed her example in word and act, each striving to outdo the others. The noise grew deafening, and clouds of dust rose under the stamping feet.
The body, garnished at the head and a hideous shod in scarlet leather travesty on the majesty of death-lay stiffly in the centre of this Bedlam.
One thing alone was out of keeping with the surrounding turmoil. At the head of the corpse knelt a wrapped in a black robe. Throughout the whole affair she had uttered no
word, nor had she so much as glanced at her fellow-mourners. Pale and still she knelt there, a look of quiet misery in her patient large eyes.
"Who is she?" I whispered to Nasif. "The boy's mother," he answered. She did not once turn her eyes from the boy or move, except now and then to put out her hand and smooth a stray lock of hair that had been shaken loose from under his turban. Once, when she did this, she stroked his forehead and smiled.
Seeing the smile, her singing sister stopped clapping long enough to point at her, and screamed out some words, evidently in rebuke. The fellow-singers caught up the rebuke, moaning it dolorously and shaking their heads at the offender. Then, evidently feeling that they had wasted quite enough time on such an unimportant person as the mother, they took up the song and dance once more. We left them in the thick of it, and far down the street we could hear them.
"You noticed no men were there?" said Nasif. "The men-friends of the boy's father-will come later with the priests (the family are Latins) and take the body to be buried. They will bring the coffin with them. The women will keep on singing until the men come: then they will stop. Their part will be done, for they never follow the body to the church or to the grave."
We met the procession of men a furlong or two farther on, marching solemnly through the streets, headed by three priests and a small troop of incense bearers. In the middle, an empty coffin was carried on the shoulders of four men. It was bright red, decorated with white bars and crosses. A cover of the same hue was carried under the arm of a fifth mourner. We watched them pass; and, a few moments later, the mourning chant died away.
"How quiet the mother was," said Nasif, recurring to the scene among the women. "She seemed to care less than any of them."
From "Syria from the Saddle." By Albert Payson Terhune. Silver, Burdett & Co., Publishers.
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