« VorigeDoorgaan »
a moment with a sort of feverish, fierce | Can you understand that? — all settled energy; then he began to laugh, low and that it was to end just so in misery, and bitterly, and walk about as if unable to confusion, and folly, before even we met." keep still. “My letter!”
The room “ I do not believe it," I cried. “There was scarcely lighted — one lamp upon the is no need that it should end so, even table, and no more; and the half dark- now; if- if you are unchanged still.” ness, as he paced about, made his appear- “I — changed?” He laughed at this ance more threatening still. Then he once more, but not so tragically, with suddenly came and stood before me as if sham ridicule of the foolishness of the it had been I that had wronged him. “I doubt. And then all of a sudden he beam a likely man to be a gay Lothario,” he gan to sing -oh, it was not a beautiful cried, with that laugh of mingled mock- performance! he had no voice, and not ery and despair wbich was far more trag- much ear; but never has the loveliest of ical than weeping. It was the only ex- music moved me more — “I will come pression that such an extreme of feeling again, my sweet and bonnie; I will come could find. He might have cried out to
Here he broke down as Ellen had heaven and earth, and groaned and wept; done, and said, with a hysterical sob, but it would not have expressed to me " I'm ill; I think I'm dying. How am 1, the wild confusion, the overturn of every- a broken man, without a penny, to come thing, the de pair of being so misunder- again?” stood, the miserable sum of suffering Chatty and I walked with him to his endured and life wasted for nothing, like room through the soft darkness of the this laugh. Then he dropped again into Italian night. I found he had fever — the chair opposite me, as if with the con- the wasting, exhausting ague feversciousness that even this excitement was which haunts the most beautiful coasts vain.
in the world. I did my best to reassure “What can I say? What can I do? him, telling him that it was not deadly, Has she never known me all along ? and that at home he would soon be well; Ellen!” He had not named her till now. but I cannot say that I felt so cheerfully Was it a renewal of life in his heart as I spoke, and all that John did was to that made him capable of uttering her shake his head. As we turned home name?
again through all the groups of cheerful “Do not blame her," I cried. “She people, Chatty with her arm looped in had made up her mind that nothing could mine, we talked, it is needless to say, of ever come of it, and that you ought to be nothing else. But not even to my child set free. She thought of nothing else did I say what I meant to do. I am not but this; that for her all change was rich, but still I can afford myself a luxury hopeless — that she was bound for life; now and then. When the children were and that you should be free. It became in bed I wrote a short letter, and put a a fixed idea with her; and when your cheque in it for twenty pounds. This was letter came, which was capable of being what I said. I was too much excited to misread
write just in the ordinary way. " Then the wish was father to the Ellen, I have found John, ill, heartthought,” he said, still bitterly. “ Did broken, but as faithful and unchanged as she show it to you? did you misread it I always knew he was. If you have the also ? Poor cheat of a letter! My heart heart of a mouse in you come out inhad failed me altogether. Between my stantly — don't lose a day — and save him. failure and her slavery But I never It may be time yet. if he can be got thought she would take me at my word,” | home to English air and to happiness it he went on piteously, “never! I wrote, will still be time. don't you know, as one writes longing to “I have written to your mother. She be comforted, to be told it did not matter will not oppose you, or I am much misso long as we loved each other, to be bid- taken. Take my word for all the details. den come home. And there never came I will expect you by the earliest possia word — not a word.”
bility. Don't write, but come.” “She wrote afterwards, but you were In less than a week after I went to gone; and her letter was returned to Genoa, and niet in the steamboat from her."
Marseilles, which was the quickest way " Ah!” he said, in a sort of desolate of travelling then, a trembling, large eyed, assent. "Ah! was it so? then that was worn-out creature, not knowing if she how it had to be, I suppose; things were were dead or alive, confused with the so settled before ever we met each other. I strangeness of everything, and the won
derful change in her own life. It was one that old tyrant, invisible in his upper of John's bad days, and nobody who was chamber, to die. not acquainted with the disease would I know it is a vulgar weakness to seek have believed him other than dying. He a story where one ought to be satisfied was lying in a kind of half-conscious state with pure art. Picture and
have when I took Ellen into his room. She they not a far loftier attraction in their stood behind me clinging to me, undis- own beauty than any your vulgar parratinguishable in the darkened place. The tive can give them, my young friends ask flush of the fever was going off; the pale- me? Dear young friends! But we were ness as of death and utter exhaustion not all born yesterday. We did not all stealing over himn. His feeble fingers have your training or your delicate perwere moving faintly upon the white cov. ceptions. And is not suggestion, even of ering of his bed; his eyelids half shut, a story (though I allow that is a poor with the veins showing blue in them and thing enough), one of the graces of art? under his eyes,
But there was a faint smile on his face. Wherever he was wandering in those confused fever dreams, he was not unhappy. Ellen held by my arm to keep herself from falling. “Hope!
From The Contemporary Review. you said there was hope,” she moaned in
AN AUTUMN RAMBLE. my ear, with a reproach that was heart. The dreary days of the protracted sesrending. Then he began to murmur with sion came to an end at last, and we left his almost colorless yet smiling lips, “I England on a cloudless hot day, while the will come again, my sweet and bonnie; corn was being joyfully gathered in on all I will come — again.” And then the fin- sides. The harvest was hardly more gers faintly beating time were still. advanced in the north of France and BelBut no, no! Do not take up a mis- gium, though the climate was
so much taken idea. He was not dead; and he better, as the peaches and grapes sold at did not die. We got him home after a all the little stations bore witness. while. In Switzerland, on our way to
The waste of land in the innumerable England, I had them married safe and hedges and ditches which divide the tiny fast under my own eye. I would allow properties in Picardy was very striking. no more shilly-shally. And, indeed, it in Belgium the fences had vanished, but appeared that Mrs. Harwood, frightened the waste of labor was as great: three or by all the results of ler totally uncon- four little ploughs, with two horses each, scious domestic despotism, was eager in working at three or four little strips, the hurrying Ellen off, and anxious that John whole not so big as a small English field should come home. He never quite re- which would have been ploughed in a day gained his former health, but he got suffi- with one pair — each proprietor here ciently well to take another situation, his doing his own work with no help or coforier employers, anxiously, aiding him operation with his neighbor, the little to recover' his lost ground. And they corn-ricks looking as if out of a child's took Montpellier Villa after all, to be near farmyard, and often so weak-kneed that Pleasant Place, where Ellen goes every they had to be supported by props. day, and is, Mrs. Harwood allows, far The scattered villages lie very far better company for her father, and a apart, and Belgian villages are peculiarly greater relief to the tedium of his life, wretched-looking, · the dwellings onethan when she was more constantly his storied and miserable, the isolated cotnurse and attendant. I am obliged to tages few, — often mere mud hovels; vegsay, however, that the mother has had a etables running close to the very door, price to pay for the emancipation of the with no path up to it, and not a single daughter. There is nothing to be got for flower ; the bare-legged, bare-headed womnought in this life. And sometimes Ellen en evidently too ground down by hard has a compunction, and sometimes there work in the fields, and anxiety for the is an unspoken reproach in the poor old bare life, to care for even a strip of garlady's tired eyes. I hope for my own part den. If flowers were to be seen, they that when that eldest little girl is a little were at a drinking-house or at the railolder Mrs. Harwood's life will be greatly way stations. sweetened and brightened. But yet it is The distances for the owners to go to she that has to pay the price; for no argu- their bits of land are very great. There ment, not even the last severe winter, and are few cross-roads, so they must tramp many renewed "attacks,” will persuade along the grassy, muddy paths between
the fields to reach their work - no trees | years, but with a complete change in the were to be seen but the occasional rows central thought! And, final irony of fate, of hideous black poplars, with branches the Roman Catholic cathedral opened by trimmed up for fuel and to prevent their a Protestant emperor, with its archbishop overshadowing the soil. There was not in exile and under a ban, and a ceremony room for a real tree anywhere in the econ- comprising as little as possible of the omy of that world.
Roman Catholic element! The bits of land were generally the size crane on the mighty unfinished tower is of a large allotment, about an acre or two gone, and the devil, it is to be hoped, (sometimes one man will own two or three worsted, who, as is well known, objected of these), and the effect on the naked to its removal, and sent a storm to precountry is as of a patchwork quilt thrown vent it. The plans for the building had over it; a small "brown patch for the been most meanly filched from him by the ploughed land, a light green for the mown architect, all except a part of the middle, grass, a dark green for the uncut clover, a and the devil had vowed, only too success. yellow one for the corn, and then da capo, fully till now, that this should never be over and over again. A dull level of pov- finished. erty everywhere; not a house as big as The lingering light was just touching an ordinary farmhouse to be seen, partic- the highest part of the high windows as ularly from Brussels to Verviers; every- we entered the transept, all below lying thing skimped, cramped, uniform in ugli- in deep shadow, which masked the rather ness and squalid wretchedness.*
bare walls of the lofty nave, enormously We drank tea in the inner court of the high in proportion as it soars into the air. Hotel at Brussels, al fresco, with an old It is finished according to the old drawFrench priest, who had come in to see the ings found after having been lost for a Exhibition and was very discontented with hundred or so of years, but the new part affairs at home. No wonder ! “Gam- has an oddly cut-and-dried look compared betta c'est un farceur, un buveur d'esta- to the old, which seems to have grown, minets il y a dix ans; allez, c'est une fa- and the statues on the retreating arches meuse dégringolade pour la France d'être of the portals are strangely bad and vul. gouverné par un homme comme ça." A gar - journey work,” done evidently by more important witness declared he was the yard. biding his time for a war of revenge, Next morning the enormous space was when he would rise as the saviour of filled by the rather unlovely, Rhineland France and the restorer of the provinces race. Common-looking, good, quiet folk wrung from her in '70 – and war even apparently, but "ordinary all," was the now is popular in France."
ceaseless comment the ceaseless The bad coal burned on all the engines stream fowed on — the women ugly, illmade the journey most unpleasant in the dressed, in colors hopelessly wrong, and heat : came into Cologne almost an utter want of charm. A Frenchwoman black. Even the cathedral felt hot. Its with no more beauty would yet have made spires, the highest in the world, as the herself pleasant to look at; an Italiani emperor declared proudly in his opening crowd would have been dirtier but more speech, were still veiled by the great scaf- picturesque. The men were in curious folding, which is a miracle of construc- preponderance at the service. A crowd tion, but will soon now be removed. Tliat stood round an altar in the transept, and majestic building, begun with the idea of the responses to the priest were in such glorifying and pleasing God by the gift of harsh gutturals that we, thought some all that is best in the powers of man, an heavy metal was being dragged on the offering, to Heaven, is now completed pavement, tiil we walked among them and with litile reference to God at all, but as heard our neighbors' voices come grating a patriotic tribute to the unification of out of their mouths. No one had a book, Germany, to the honor of the German but all joined, evidently knowing the serrace, the work of men of all creeds, by a vice by heart. national instead of a religious enthusiasın. A woman with a basketful of candles A strange crook in the lot of the great came up to me with an insinuating smile. Dom the design of the old builders My neighbor bought one and proceeded at length carried out after six hundred to set it on a spike, in company with two
or three dozen more burning to the honor The market-gardens near the great towns have ad- of a small statuette of the Virgin, in a vantages common to all countries alike, and cannot be counted in considering the condition of the rural popu- crown and very fine brocade gown, over a
crinoline. She was evidently much in
fashion, for a whole gallery of ex votos | it-hardly appealing to our English symhung under her. Presently, an old worn pathies. woman in black, with a heavy basket on The Rhine steamers are a favorite reher arm, sat down by me, and with a rapt sort for bridal excursions, and we had look leaned back, closed her eyes, and two pairs on board. One ugly fat girl began telling her beads, while a look of was marching up and down the deck in a peace stole over the worn face. It was thick cloth jacket, in spite of the heat, pleasant, too, to see how at home every with white mittens on the hands sentibody seemed to feel, passing from altar mentally clasped on her bridegroom's to altar as they pleased, as if the place arm, and a proud look of serene conbelonged to them, instead of to the sexton sciousness of being the admired of all and the beadle, as in cathedrals at home. beholders, which was inexpressibly silly The great organ sounded like the articu- and droll: another sat with her arm round late voice of the enormous building, and the neck of hers, or resting on his knee, the single voices of the choir in the dis. — simple, tactless, tasteless worthy folk. tance like the pleadings of earth with The reign of ugliness in architecture is heaven, plaintive, weak, uncertain, full of as bad here as in England - it is wondersorrows and perplexities. And then came ful how every old building, both in town the answer of the Church back again, full, and village, is picturesque, rich in ornarich, powerful, unhesitating, infallible (if ment and design, and every new one ugly only you accepted it!). The extremely and scamped in eaves and mouldings. vicarious nature of the worship struck As we passed up the river the black-andone, however, the more from the immense white half-timbered cottages, the wooddistances at which it took place. A tink- work in patterns, were all good; the ling bell rang, out of sight and a quarter towers of the churches, with their pierced of a mile away, telling us the host was stone parapets, round-headed windows, or being raised, and immediately everybody pointed pinnacles — the pitch of the high went on their knees, at whatever point of roofs, the proportions of everything, were their devotions they were. You had only right, while the new pensions, etc., were to follow your leader and do as you were as hideous as if from the hands of a Lonbid, and you were washed “clean and don builder. The originality of each little done for” by the priest, in the lump, as it district, too, was interesting; while the
- instead of the strictly individual new work was everywhere all alike. The relation of the soul to its Creator of real isolation of old days may account for each Protestant worship. Then the priest put community having a pattern of its own, the remains of our Lord into a box on the but not for the amount of imagination altar, the little choir-boys swung their in- which they showed then and have lost cense-pots, and our adorations were over.
The new painted glass, with a few ex- In the same way almost every bit of ceptions, is abominable. One window in costume has died out. The embroidered magenta and green looked like a faithful cloths and velvet bodices, the beautiful rendering of the last new carpet from stuffs which lasted for generations, are Shoolbred's or whoever the German equiv- supplanted by hideous lilac cottons; the alent of that worthy may be. Then came silver and gold ornaments, which dea glare of yellow and red, like a transpar- scended from mother to daughter, are all ency in oiled paper, with bright light blue swept into the gulf of commonplace which at the top. Every variety but the variety has inundated the world. of good was there, and of that harmony The effect of the vine terraces seaming found in the old glass of even poor village the sides of the hills, climbing up slopes so churches, and an attempt at pictures, in- steep that apparently the soil can hardly terfering with the effect which should be cling there, is always interesting; the tiny mainly of pure color - a glory which is, strips are supported by walls carefully perhaps, more sensuous than that of form, built up, the earth often carried up in but with as supreme a pleasure of its own, basketfuls. Here, too, the great distances as may be felt in the rose windows of St. the owners must come, to reach each little Maclou and the Cathedral at Rouen property, are very striking, and as there like melody, perhaps, as compared to har. are no roads (the ground is too valuable) mony in the sister art.
each must pass along hundreds of his “Offerings for the Holy Father, Leo neighbors' patches. The temptation is XI11.," were received at the door. Liv- too great for human nature when the ing on the alms of the whole world! an grapes are ripening, and a close time idea beautiful or not as your fancy takes takes place when no man is allowed to
enter his own ground (which would hardly We stopped at Offenburg, a quiet little be liked by an English laborer). The town at the beginning of the Black Forest owners livé extremely hardy, eat black district, with great green pots lining the rye bread, and no meat, and, when there streets, full of flowering oleanders and is a bad crop, borrow from the money. large plants of the shy blooming pomelenders, there is hardly a man who is granate, covered with scarlet blossoms, out of debt, we heard again and again, looking as if made of sealing-wax._ It was and just before the ist of November there the eve of the Grand Duke of Baden's is a rush to sell potatoes, or anything else birthday. He and his duchess are very they possess, to pay off the interest, which much beloved, and everybody was out in is extremely high. In a very good year their best clothes, under the trees, in the some few of them free themselves, but as little place, listening to a band, and lookin the equal division of property here one ing at six or eight Chinese lanterns and brother almost always takes the land, he three or four Roman candles, with squibs mortgages it to pay off the portions of and crackers, which figured as fireworks. his brothers and sisters, and is hampered Everybody was delighted and in high generally all his life.
" The girls are good-humor. We sat on two chairs given proud, and will not go out to service; by a friendly shopwoman and talked they prefer the liberty of working in the to our neighbors, and were treated with fields."
much honor by the cheerful little crowd. The soil from which the best crus of A statue to Sir Francis Drake, as the wine are made is very limited, and a few “inventor of potatoes,” with a stone feet, or even inches, divides a vineyard wreath of that poetic vegetable round the wliose produce is known and valued highly plinth at his feet, stood in the midst of all over the world, from what will only the fun, and was much in keeping with make vin ordinaire. But Nature's chem.our homely festivities. “So sorry you istry is too subtle to be analyzed, and the will not stay for the dancing tomorrow," difference cannot be detected in the earth. said our friends as we parted. So were The limit where the vines can be profit- we. ably grown is, also, we heard, now reached, The railroad mounts by a very steep and hardly any new ground is added; any incline up the narrow valley which leads freshly attempted position is found to be to Triberg. A rapid stream runs at the too exposed, or too sunless, or too bare bottom, with little fields and bits of pasto succeed.
ture here and there, and enormous spruce The plain country lying between Mainz firs feathering up the precipitous sides. and the Black Forest is extremely rich – The Bauer houses are very large, built fruit trees, with crops of Indian corn, roots, of wood of the richest brown, with great clover, growing under them, abound; but projecting balconies, generally three, one the last winter had been "dreadful,” and above the other, hung with drying clothes, a good half of the apple, pear, and plum and an enormous overhanging roof partly trees were dead. What do the people do shingled, partly thatched, and bright with in such a case? we asked. “Oh, borrow green moss, which stretches on one side on the mortgage of their land; it is a kind to the ground. Under this are sheltered of security qui est très gouté by the money- all the owner's goods, his cows and horslenders,” said our friend significantly. es, his pigs, oxen, and goats, and, above “There is not a peasant hereabouts out all, his manure-heaps, most valuable and of debt,” said another. “They pay enor- loved of all his wealth, and which scent mously, sometimes as much as five per the whole house unbearably to strangers. cent. interest per month,” said a third. His little bit of corn lies in the great loft
The hard work of the women is tre. at the top of the house, with a small quanmendous; mowing (I saw three women tity of fax, his wood, and all his treasmowing in one field), spreading dung with ures, including the ladder, which is slung wretched wooden forks, digging potatoes, aloft, all ready to his hand in the long driving carts, one at least we saw plough- months of winter, when the snow lasts ing, carrying burdens, dragging loads, sometimes five months. He is often a barefoot, bare-headed but for a handker- well-to-do man, owning two or three hunchief, dirty, weary, haggard, old before dred acres of land, but he lives as hardly their time. The distance between the as the poorest peasant, dresses and eats villages was sometimes nine or ten miles, as badly, and his wife and children do so that to the plots in the middle they all the work, with the exception of a must walk five miles out and five back, as Knecht (who is often a woman!). He has there were no cottages between.
money, but he does not spend it; his