« VorigeDoorgaan »
den (which she was proud to think was I should sow mignonette and Virginia almost unparallelled for growth and shade stock," she cried, with a firm faith ; " lowin London), and declared herself incapa- growing flowers would be sure to thrive. ble of breathing any longer in such a close It is only roses (poor roses !) and tall and shut-up locality. But the dwellers in plants that come to harm.". John, for his Pleasant Place were less exacting. They part, dwelt much upon the fact that in the thought the long suburban road very little front parlors of the terrace houses pleasant. Where it streamed off into there were shelves for books Liiled into a little dusty houses covered with brown recess. This weighed quite as much with ivy and dismal trellis work, and where him as the cleanness of the new places. every unfortunate flower was thick with “ The villas are too dingy for her,” he dust, they gazed with a touch of envy at said, looking admiringly at her fresh face.
gardens,” and felt it to be rural. “She could never endure the little grey, When my pair of lovers went out for their grimy rooms." That was his romance, to walk they had no time to go further than think that everything should be shining to the Green Man, a little tavern upon and bright about her. He was unconthe roadside, where one big old elm-tree, scious of the dinginess of the parlor in which had braved the dust and the frost Ellen's home. It was all irradiated with for more years than any one could recol- her presence to him. These discussions, lect, stood out at a corner at the junction however, all ended in a sigh and a laugh of two roads, with a bench round it, where from Ellen herself. “It is all very fine the passing carters and cabmen drank talking,” she would say. their beer, and a trough for the horses, And so the summer went on. Alas ! which made it look “quite in the coun- and other summers after it. My eldest try” to all the inhabitants of our district. girl married. My boys went out into the Generally they got as far as that, passing world. Many changes came upon our the dusty cottages and the little terrace house. The children began to think it a of new houses. A great and prolonged very undesirable locality. Even Chatty, and most entertaining controversy went always the sweetest, sighed for South on between them as they walked, as to Kensington, if not for a house in the the kind of house in which they should country and a month in London in the eventually settle down. Ellen, who was season, which was what the other girls not without a bit of romance in her, of wished for. This common suburban road, the only kind practicable with her up- far from fashion, far from society – what bringing, entertained a longing for one but their mother's inveterate old-fashof the dusty little cottages. She thought, ionedness and indifference to appearanlike all inexperienced persons, that in her ces could have kept them there so long? hands it would not be dusty. She would The great house opposite with the garden find means of keeping the ivy green. bad ceased to be. The high wall was She would see that the flowers grew gone from Pleasant Place, and instead of sweet and clean, and set blacks and dust it stood a fresh row of little villakins like alike at defiance. John, for his part, the terrace which had once been John whose lodging was in one of those little Ridgway's admiration. Alas! Ellen's houses, preferred the new terrace. It forebodings had been fully realized, and was very new - very like a row of gin- the terrace was as dingy as Montpellier gerbread houses -- but it was very clean, Villas by this time. The whole neighbor. and for the moment bright, not as yet hood was changing. Half the good penetrated by the dust. Sometimes I houses in the road — the houses, so to was made the confidante of these inter- speak, of the aristocracy, which to name minable, always renewed, always delight. was to command respect from all the ful discussions. “They are not dusty neighborhood - had been built out and yet,” Ellen would say, "but how long will adorned with large fronts of plate glass it be before they are dusty? Whereas and made into shops. Omnibuses now with the villas” (they had a great variety rolled along the dusty way. The station of names — Montpellier Villas, Funchal where they used to stop had been pushed Villas, Mentone Mansions, for the dis- out beyond the Green Man, which once trict was supposed to be very mild) “one we had felt to be “quite in the country.” knows what one has to expect; and if Everything was changing; but my pair one could not keep the dust and the of lovers did not change. Ellen got other blacks out with the help of brushes and pupils instead of Chatty and her contemdusters, what would be the good of one? poraries who were growing up and beyond
VOL. XXXIII. 1672
her skill, and came out at ten o'clock “He will never get well,” said John, every morning with as fresh a face as falling back into his dejection, “and he ever, and her little roll of music always will never die." in her hand. And every evening, though
“ Then it will never come to anything. now he was set down at his lodgings from Can you consent to that?” I said. the omnibus, and no longer passed my He made me no reply. He shook his window on his way home, Jolin made his head ; whether in dismal acceptance of pilgrimage of love to Pleasant Place. the situation, whether in protest against She kept her youth — the sweet complex- it, I cannot tell. This interview filled ion, the dew in her eyes, and the bloom me with dismay.. I spent hours ponderupon her cheek - in a way I could not ing whether, and how, I could interfere. understand. The long waiting did not My interference had not been of much seem to try her. She had always his use before. And my children began to evening visit to look for, and her days laugh when this lingering, commonplace were full of occupation. But John, who little romance was talked of. “My mothhad naturally a worn look, did not bear er's lovers,” the boys called them — “my the probation so well as Ellen. He grew mother's turtle-doves." bald; a general rustiness came over him. The time had almost run on to the He had looked older than he was to be- length of Jacob's wooing when one day gin with ; his light locks, his colorless Ellen came to me, not running in, eager countenance, faded into a look of age. and troubled with her secret as of old, He was very patient - almost more pa- but so much more quietly than usual, with tient than Ellen, wlio, being of a more such a still and fixed composure about her, vivacious temper, had occasional little that I knew something serious had hapoutbursts of petulant despair, of which pened. I sent away as quickly as I could she was greatly ashamed afterwards; but the other people who were in the room, at the same time this prolonged and hope for I need not say that to find me alone less waiting had more effect upon him was all but an impossibility: than upon her. Sometimes he would Chatty, now a fine, tall girl of twenty, a come to see me by himself for the mere look, which was enough for her; 'she pleasure, it seemed to me, though we always understood better than any one. rarely spoke on the subject, of being un. And when at last we were free I turned derstood.
to my visitor anxiously. 6. What is it?" “Is this to go on forever?" I said. I said. It did not excite her so much as 4 Is it never to come to an end?”
it did me. “It looks like it,” said John, somewhat She gave a little abstracted smile. “ You drearily. “We always talk about our always see through me,” she said. “I little house. I have got three rises since thought there was no meaning in my face. then. I doubt if I shall ever have any It has come at last. He is really going more; but we don't seem a bit nearer this time, directly, to the Levant. Oh, —and he ended with a sigh, not of im- what a little thing Chatty was when i patience, like those quick sighs mixed asked her to look in the atlas for the Leup with indignant, abrupt little laughs.in vant; and now she is going to be marwhich Ellen often gave vent to her feel ried ! What will rou do,” she asked ings, but of weariness and despondency abruptly, stopping short to look at me, much more hard to bear.
" when they are all married and you are “And the father," I said, “ seems not left alone ? a day nearer the end of his trouble. Poor I had asked myself this question someman, I don't wish him any harm.” times, and it was not one I liked. " Suffi
This, I fear, was a hypocritical speech, cient unto the day is the evil thereof,” I for in my heart I should not have been at said; "the two little ones of all have not all sorry to hear that his trouble” was so much as thought of marrying yet.” coming to an end.
Ellen answered me with a sigh, a quickly Then for the first time a faint gleam of drawn impatient breath. “He is to sail humor lighted in John's eye. I am be- in a fortnight,” she said. “ Things have ginning to suspect that he is — better,” gone wrong with the nephew. I knew he he said ; “stronger at least. I am pretty never could be so good as John; and now sure he has no thought of coming to an John must go in a hurry to set things end."
right. What a good thing that it is all in “All the better," I said ; “if he gets a hurry! We shall not have time to well, Ellen will be free."
“ You must go with him — you must go
“ I don't think I mean to say anything. with him, Ellen !” I cried.
My head is all confused. I don't seem to She turned upon me almost with sever- know. Our feeling is all one wish to be ity in her tone. “I thought you knew together; only to see one another makes better. I-go with him! Look here," us happy. Can there be duty in that? she cried very hurriedly,“ don't think I she says. It seems right, yet sometimes don't face the full consequences -- the I think it is wrong, though I can't tell whole matter. He is tired, tired to death. how.” He will be glad to go
and after — after ! I was confused too.- I was silenced. If he should find some one else there, I | I did not know what to say. “It deshall never be the one to blame him." pends," I said, faltering, “it depends
“ Ellen! you ought to ask his pardon upon what you consider the object of on your knees - he find some one else! life.” What wrong you do to the faithfullest “ Some people say happiness; but thật the truest
would not suit Ellen's theory," he said. “He is the faithfullest,” she said; then Duty — I had an idea myself that duty after a moment, “but I will never blame was easily defined; but it seems it is as him. I tell you beforehand. He has difficult as everything is. So far as I can been more patient than ever man was.” make out,” he added, with a faint smile,
Did she believe what she was saying?" I have got no duties at all.” It was very hard to know. The fortnight “ To be faithful to her,” I said, recolflew by like a day. The days had been lecting the strange speech she had made very long before in their monotony, but to me. now these two weeks were like two hours. He almost laughed outright. "FaithI never quite knew what passed. John ful! that is no duty; it is my existence. had taken his courage in both hands, and Do you think I could be unfaithful if I had bearded the father himself in his den; were to try ? " but, so far as I could make out, it was not These were almost the last words he the father but the mother with her tears said to me. I
suppose he satisfied himwho vanquished him. “When I saw self that his duty to his employer required what her life was,” he said to me when him to go away. And Ellen had a feverhe took leave of me, “such a life! my ish desire that he should go away, now mouth was closed. Who am I that I that the matter had been broached a secshould take away her only comfort from ond time. I am not sure that when the her? We love each other very dearly, it possibility of sacrifice on his part dawned is our happiness, it is the one thing which upon her, the chance that he might relinmakes everything else sweet: but per- quish for her this renewed chance of rishaps, as Ellen says, there is no duty in it. ing in the world, there did not arise in It is all enjoyment. Her duty is to them; her mind a hasty, impatient wish that he it is ber pleasure, she says, her happiness might be unfaithful, and give her up altoto be with me."
gether. Sometimes the impatience of a “But — but you have been engaged for tired spirit will take this form. Ellen years.
No doubt it is your happiness was very proud; by dint of having made but surely there is duty too.”
sacrifices all her life, she had an impetu“She says not. My mind is rather ous terror of being in her turn the object confused. I don't seem to know. Duty, for which sacrifices should be made. To you know, duty is a thing that it is rather accept them was bitterness to her. She hard to do; something one has to raise was eager to hurry all his preparations, one's self up to, and carry through with, to get him despatched, if possible, a little whether we like it or whether we don't earlier than the necessary time. She like it. That's her definition; and it kept a cheerful face, making little jokes seems right — don't you think it is right? about the Levant and the people he would But to say that of us would be absurd. It meet there, which surprised everybody. is all pleasure — all delight,” his tired eye- “Is she glad that he is going?” Chatty lids rose a little to show a gleam of emo- asked me, with eyes like two round lamps tion, then dropped again with a sigh; of alarmed surprise. The last night of all " that is her argument; I suppose it is they spent with us — and it seemed a true."
relief to Ellen that it should be thus “ Then do you mean to say I spent, and not tête-à-tête as so many other cried, and stopped short in sheer bewil- evenings had been. It was the very derment of mind, not knowing what words height and flush of summer, an evening to use.
which would not sink into darkness and
VISIT TO THE OLDEST STATE IN
night as other evenings do. The moon
From Fraser's Maga: de. was up long before the sun had gone reluctantly away. We sat without the lampin the soft twilight, with the stream of waysarers going past tlie windows, and all the That the smallest and the oldest of Eufamiliar sounds, which were not vulgar to ropean governments should be combined us, we were so used to them. They were in one is in itself a curious fact; that this both glad of the half-light. When' I told government should be engulfed, so to Ellen to go and sing to us, she refused at speak, in the middle of Italy, with princifirst with a look of reproach ; then, with a palities, duchies, and kingdoms whirling little shake of her head, as if to throw off around it like leaves driven by a winter's all weakness, changed her mind and went storm, adds force to this political phenomto the piano. It was Chatty who insisted enon; but that so little is known and so upon Mr. Ridgway's favorite song, per- little veneration paid to this Methusehaps out of heedlessness, perhaps with that lah amongst States is perhaps the most curious propensity the young often have extraordinary feature in its existence to probe wounds, and investigate how amongst us in the nineteenth century: deep a sentiment may go. We sat in the For this is a community whose authenlarger room, John and myself, while be- tic history dates from the days of Pepin, hind, in the dim evening, in the distance, father of Charlemagne, and whose legenscarcely visible, Ellen sat at the piano and dary history carries us back to the days sang. What the effort cost her I would when the persecutions of the Roman emnot venture to inquire. As for him, he peror Diocletian drove a pious anchorite sat with a melancholy composure listening to the mountains in the neighborhood of to every tone of her voice. She had a Rimini, there to form a semi-ecclesiastivery sweet, refined voice - not powerful, cal community, which still retains its but tender, what people call sympathetic. primitive simplicity both in constitution I could not distinguish his face, but I saw and customs. his hand beat the measure accompanying San Marino is the name of this Lilipuevery line, and when she came to the bur- tian State; it has a population of eight den of the song, he said it over softly to thousand souls, an area of sixteen square himself. Broken by all the babble 'out- miles; it is governed by two captains, it side, and by the music in the background, has secretaries of state for home and forI yet heard bin, all tuneless and low, eign affairs, and above all it has a most murmuring this to himself — “I will come exemplary chancellor of its limited exagain, I will come again, my sweet and chequer, who has invariably an annual bonnie.” Whether his eyes were dry 1 balance to place at his country's disposicannot tell, but mine were wet. He said tion. them with no excitement, as if they were Here, indeed, is a field for a modern the words most simple, most natural - Gulliver; the whole atmosphere of the the very breathing of his heart. How place is, politically speaking, Liliputian, often, I wonder, would he think of that and one longs to people the solitary moundim roon, the half-seen companions, the tain which occupies almost the whole of siveet and tender voice rising out of the the republic with dwarfs and beings of twilight? I said to myself, Whoever another world. Strange to say, in Roman may mistrust you, I will never mistrust days this mountain was known as the you,” with fervor. But just as the words • Titanic rock;" here amongst the uppassed through my mind, as if Ellen had heaval of strata and yaining chasms of heard them, her song broke off all in a tusa, the ancients conjured up a race of moment, died away in the last line, “I giants, ambitious in their greatness to will come a "There was a sudden overthrow the king of heaven; whilst now break, a jar on the piano — and she sprang we find existing on this very spot the up and came towards us, stumbling, with most pigmy of States. As the scene of a her hands put out, as if she could not see. fairy-tale San Marino would offer the The next sound I heard was an unsteady facilities of a Brobdingnag and a Liliput little laugh, as she threw herself down on all in one. a sofa in the corner where Chatty was Curiosity led me to this mourtain resitting: “I wonder why you are all so public, curiosity led me to examine its his. fond of that old-fashioned nonsense,” she tory and its constitution, and my curiosity said.
was rewarded by the discovery of a unique And next day the last farewells were instance of mediæval statecraft, the sole said, and John went away.
survivor of the countless republics which
once dotted Italy, still governed by insti- | ious to reside amongst them for any tutions which were boary with age when length of time the accommodation offered Cæsar Borgia endeavored to add it to by the little inn in the Borgo, or commerhis dominions, and which Napoleon the cial centre at the foot of the rock, will be Great respected and Garibaldi treated looked upon with blank dismay. Anklewith decorum. Let those who feel dis- deep we sank in mire as we crossed the posed visit with me this tiny State and threshold, to be accosted by every stench discuss its peculiarities, only alluding to with which an Italian pothouse is redoits constitution and history with Napo- lent; the bedroom looked alive with dis. leonic respect when occasion may re- comforts, and, though breathing an air of quire.
freedom far older than any we could find After a drive of a few hours from elsewhere, we heaved a sigh, and wished Rimini our vetturino made us aware that it could be less impure. we were crossing the frontier of the re- Before, however, we decided on estabpublic, where the road which leads to the lishing ourselves in these quarters, I delittle commercial village at the foot of the termined to issue forth and see if the Titanic rock traversed a stream which little town, the centre of government, formed the eastern boundary, and Gul- built upon a cliff a thousand feet above liver found himself amongst the “ever- the centre of commerce, could offer us a free" Liliputians. And indeed there are more inviting resting-place. I was fortinot wanting numerous signs of this much- fied in my search by a letter of introducvaunted liberty which the eight thousand tion to a leading republican, Domenico Liliputians enjoy. The word Libertà is Fattori by name, no less a personage than chalked up in large letters against every the secretary of state for foreign affairs, second house; their motto of Libertas is and brother of a most learned citizen, forced on your notice at every turn; it who had printed a little story of his counadorns their stainps, their coins, their try's liberties which was exhibited, tofag; it is engraven over each of the city gether with other treasures of the like portals; and before a few days' residence sort, in San Marino's little room at the amongst them had expired, the very no- last Paris Exhibition. tion of liberty became irksome in the Thus I stepped up the steep, rugged extreme. I went to the theatre and was path which leads to the city, gaining congreeted by a drop-scene representing al-fidence at every step as I left below me most naked Liberty. I mounted up to the loathsome Borgo, and saw enchantthe piazza and found a white marble ing panoramas of mountains, plain, and statue representing the same personage. sea, all brilliantly illumined by a rich opalI ascended still higher to the parish esque sunset over the pinnacled Apenchurch, and lo! the patron saint stood nines, which here assume those grotesque over the high altar, with a scroll in his shapes delineated by masters of the Umright hand on which was written Liberty! brian school.
Nevertheless it was satisfactory to learn Did my eyes deceive me? No, it was that this liberty ended not in a display of indeed true. Coming towards me down the simple word, and this boast of fifteen the rugged path, I saw a gentleman in a centuries' standing is still genuine in all tall hat, wearing a badly-fitting suit of its branches. Taxation here is reduced dress clothes and a white tie, and in atto a mere nothing; the voice of the peo- tendance upon him was a lackey in gaudy ple governs everything. The officials are livery. Nothing more out of place could sufficiently paid by the honor conferred be imagined: a half-naked anchorite or a upon them, and receive a mere nominal skin-clad herdsman one would have passed salary, Property, hence, as compared by unnoticed; and my heart misgave me, with Italy, is of enormous value, and a for into this wild spot I had not thought law has been passed enacting that no it necessary to drag my evening toilette. foreigner can hold land within the narrow 1 questioned my conductor as to the precincts of the republic unless he has meaning of this apparition, and learned spent six consecutive years as a citizen to my relief that he was a captain of the within its boundaries, and during this most serene republic of San Marino out period has conducted himself as a moral for a state walk. When engaged in his and exemplary citizen should.
official capacity a captain always wears Very simple-minded are these republi- this dress, and in the state wardrobe six cans; their requirements are but few, and dress suits are kept to fit all shapes and the luxuries they can offer to visitors are sizes of republicans who may attain to exceedingly limited, so that to one anx. | the dignity of ruler.