sets foot in it.’… As for the children, however, no one could regard them as a drawback, for they are altogether charming; not well disciplined, of course, but lovable to the las http://nike.diablomvp.com/ t degree. Broona was planning her future life when we were walking together yesterday. Jackeen is to be ‘an engineer, by the sea,’ so it seems, and Broona is to be a farmer’s wife with a tiny red bill-book like Mrs. Colquhoun’s. Her little boys and girls will sell the milk, and when Jackeen has his engineering holidays he will come and eat fresh butter and scones and cream and jam at the farm, and when her children have their holidays they will go and play on ‘Jackeen’s beach.’ It is the little people I rely upon chiefly, after all. I wish you could have seen them cataract down the staircase to greet her this morning. I notice that she tries to make me divert their attention when Dr. Gerald is present; for it is a bit suggestive to a widower to see his children pursue, hang about, and caress a lovely, unmarried lady. Broona, especially, can hardly keep away from Salemina; and she is such a fascinating midget, I should think anybody would be glad to have her included in a marriage contract. ‘You have a weeny, weeny line between y air max 1 our eyebrows, just like my daddy’s,’ she said to Salemina the other day. ‘It’s such a little one, perhaps I can kiss it away; but daddy has too many, and they are cutted too deep. Sometimes he whispers, ‘Daddy is sad, Broona,’ and then I say, ‘Play up, play up, and play the game!’ and that makes him smile.'”
“She is a darling,” said Francesca, with the suspicion of a tear in her eye. “‘Were you ever in love, Miss Fancy?’ she asked me once. ‘I was; it was long, l nike air max 1 ebay ong ago before I belonged to daddy’; and another time when I had been reading to her, she said ‘I often think that when I get into the kingdom of heaven the person I’ll be gladdest to see will be Marjorie Fleming.’ Yes, the children are sure to help; they always do in whatever circumstances they chance to be placed. Did you notice Salemina with them at tea-time, yesterday? It was such a charming scene. The heavy rain had kept them in, and things had gone wrong in the nursery. Salemina had glued the hair on Broona’s dolly, and knit up a heart-breaking wound in her side. Then she mended the legs of all the animals in the Noah’s ark, so that they stood firm, erect, and proud; and when, to draw the children’s eyes from the wet window-panes, she proposed a story, it was pretty to see the grateful youngsters snuggle in her lap and by her side.”
“When does an artist ever fail to cheap nike air max 1 see pictures? I have loved Salemina always, even when she used to part her hair in the middle and wear spectacles; but that is the first time I ever wanted to paint her, with the firelight shining on the soft, restful greys and violets of her dress, and Broona in her arms. Of course, if a woman is ever to be lovely at all, it will be when she is holding a child. It is the oldest of all old pictures, and the most beautiful, I believe, in a man’s eyes.
“And do you notice that she and the doctor are beginning to speak more freely of their past acquaintance?” I went on, looking up at Francesca, who had dropped her work in her interest. “It is too amusing! Every hour or two it is: ‘Do you remember the day we went to Bunker Hill?’ or, ‘Do you recall that charming Mrs. Andrews, with whom we used to dine occasionally?’ or, ‘What has become of your cousin Samuel?’ and, ‘Is your uncle Thomas yet living?’… The other day, at tea, she asked, ‘Do you still take three lumps, Dr. La Touche? You had always a sweet tooth, I remember.’… Then they ring the changes in this way: ‘You were always fond of grey, Miss Peabody.’ ‘You had a great fancy for Moore, in the old days, Miss Peabody: have you outgrown him, or does the ‘Anacreontic little chap,’ as Father Prout called him, still appeal to you?’… ‘You used to admire Boyle O’Reilly, Dr. La Touche. Would you like to see some of his letters?’… ‘Aren’t these magnificent rhododendrons, Dr. La Touche,–even though they are magenta, the colour you specially dislike?’ And so on. Did you chance to look at either of them last evening, Francesca, when I sang ‘Let Erin remember the days of old’?”
“No; I was thinking of something else. I don’t know what there is about your singing, Penny love, that always makes me think of the past and dream of the future. Which verse do you mean?”
And, still painting, I hummed:–
“‘On Lough Neagh’s banks, as the fisherman strays,
When the cool, calm eve’s declining,
He sees the round towers of other days
Beneath the waters shining.
. . . . . .
Thus shall memory oft, in dreams sublime,
Catch a glimpse of the days that are over,
And, sighing, look thro’ the waves of Time,
For the long-faded glories they cover.’
“That is what our two dear middle-aged lovers are constantly doing now,–looking at the round towers of other days, as they bend over memory’s crystal pool and see them reflected there. It is because he fears that the glories are over and gone that Dr. Gerald is troubled. Some day he will realise that he need not live on reflections, and he will seek realities.”
“I hope so,” said Francesca philosophically, as she folded her work; “but sometimes these people who go mooning about, and looking through the waves of Time, tumble in and are drowned.”
Chapter 29 Aunt David’s Garden
‘O wind, O mighty, melancholy wind,
Blow through me, blow!
Thou blowest forgotten things into my mind
From long ago.’
No one ever had a better opportunity than we, of breathing in, so far as a stranger and a foreigner may, the old Celtic atmosphere, and of reliving the misty years of legend before the dawn of history; when
‘Long, long ago, beyond the space
Of twice two hundred years,
In Erin old there lived a race
Taller than Roman spears.’
Mr. Colquhoun is one of the best Gaelic scholars in Ireland, and Dr. Gerald, though not his equal in knowledge of the language, has ‘the full of a sack of stories’ in his head. According to the Book of Leinster, a professional story-teller was required to know seven times fifty tales, and I believe the doctor could easily pass this test. It is not easy to make a good translation from Irish to English, for they tell us there are no two Aryan languages more opposed to each other in spirit and idiom. We have heard little of the marvellous old tongue until now, but we are reading it a bit under the tutelage of these two inspiring masters, and I fancy it has helped me as much in my understanding of Ireland as my tedious and perplexing worriments over political problems.
After all, how can we know anything of a nation’s present or future without some attempt to revivify its past? Just as, without some slender knowledge of its former culture, we must be for ever ignorant of its inherited powers and aptitudes. The harp that once through Tara’s halls the soul of music shed, now indeed hangs mute on Tara’s walls, but for all that its echoes still reverberate in the listening ear.
When we sit together by the river brink on sunny days, or on the greensward under the yews in our old garden, we are always telling ancient Celtic romances, and planning, even acting, new ones. Francesca’s mind and mine are poorly furnished with facts of any sort; but when the kind scholars in our immediate neighbourhood furnish necessary information and inspiration, we promptly turn it into dramatic form, and serve it up before their wondering and admiring gaze. It is ever our habit to ‘make believe’ with the children; and just as we played ballads in Scotland and plotted revels in the Glen at Rowardennan, so we instinctively fall into the habit of thought and speech that surrounds us here.
This delights our grave and reverend signiors, and they give themselves up to our whimsicalities with the most whole-hearted zeal. It is days since we have spoken of one another by those names which were given to us in baptism. Francesca is Finola the Festive. Eveleen Colquhoun is Ethnea. I am the harper, Pearla the Melodious. Miss Peabody is Sheela the Skilful Scribe, who keeps for posterity a record of all our antics, in the Speckled Book of Salemina. Dr. Gerald is Borba the Proud, the Ard-ri or overking. Mr. Colquhoun is really called Dermod, but he would have been far too modest to choose Dermot O’Dyna for his Celtic name, had we not insisted; for this historic personage was not only noble-minded, generous, of untarnished honour, and the bravest of the brave, but he was as handsome as he was gallant, and so much the idol of the ladies that he was sometimes called Dermat-na-man, or Dermot of the women.
Of course we have a corps of shanachies, or story-tellers, gleemen, gossipreds, leeches, druids, gallowglasses, bards, ollaves, urraghts, and brehons; but the children can always be shifted from one role to another, and Benella and the Button Boy, although they are quite unaware of the honours conferred upon them, are often alluded to in our romances and theatrical productions.
Aunt David’s garden is not a half bad substitute for the old Moy-Mell, the plain of pleasure of the ancient Irish, when once you have the key to its treasures. We have made a new and authoritative survey of its geographical features and compiled a list of its legendary landmarks, which, strangely enough, seem to have been absolutely unknown to Miss Llewellyn-Joyce.
In the very centre is the Forradh, or Place of Meeting, and on it is our own Lia Fail, Stone of Destiny. The one in Westminster Abbey, carried away from Scotland by Edward I., is thought by many scholars to be unauthentic, and we hope that ours may prove to have some historical value. The only test of a Stone of Destiny, as I understand it, is that it shall ‘roar’ when an Irish monarch is inaugurated; and that our Lia Fail was silent when we celebrated this impressive ceremony reflects less upon its own powers, perhaps, than upon the pedigree of our chosen Ard-ri.
The arbour under the mountain ash is the Fairy Palace of the Quicken Tree, and on its walls is suspended the Horn of Foreknowledge, which if any one looks on it in the morning, fasting, he will know in a moment all things that are to happen during that day.
The clump of willows is the Wood of the Many Sallows (a willow-tree is familiarly known as a ‘sally’ in Ireland). Do you know Yeats’s song, put to a quaint old Irish air?
‘Down by the sally gardens my love and I did meet,
She passed the sally gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree,
But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.’
The summer-house is the Greenan; that is, grianan, a bright, sunny place. On the arm of a tree in the Greenan hangs something you might (if you are dull) mistake for a plaited garland of rushes hung with pierced pennies; but it really is our Chain of Silence, a useful article of bygone ages, which the lord of a mansion shook when he wished an attentive hearing, and which deserved a better fate and a longer survival than it has met. Jackeen’s Irish terrier is Bran,–though he does not closely resemble the great Finn’s sweet-voiced, gracefully-shaped, long-snouted hound; the coracle lying on the shore of the little lough–the coracle made of skin, like the old Irish boats–is the Wave-Sweeper; and the faithful mare that we hire by the day is, by your leave, Enbarr of the Flowing Mane. No warrior was ever killed on the back of this famous steed, for she was as swift as the clear, cold wind of spring, travelling with equal ease and speed on land and sea, an’ may the divil fly away wid me if that same’s not true.
We no longer find any difficulty in remembering all this nomenclature, for we are ‘under gesa’ to use no other. When you are put under gesa to reveal or to conceal, to defend or to avenge, it is a sort of charm or spell; also an obligation of honour. Finola is under gesa not to write to Alba more than six times a week and twice on Sundays; Sheela is bound by the same charm to give us muffins for afternoon tea; I am vowed to forget my husband when I am relating romances, and allude to myself, for dramatic purposes, as a maiden princess, or a maiden of enchanting and all-conquering beauty. And if we fail to abide by all these laws of the modern Dedannans of Devorgilla, which are written in the Speckled Book of Salemina, we are to pay eric-fine. These fines are collected with all possible solemnity, and the children delight in them to such an extent that occasionally they break the law for the joy of the penalty. If you have ever read the Fate of the Children of Turenn, you remember that they were to pay to Luga the following eric-fine for the slaying of their father, Kian: two steeds and a chariot, seven pigs, a hound whelp, a cooking-spit, and three shouts on a hill. This does not at first seem excessive, if Kian were a good father, and sincerely mourned; but when Luga began to explain the hidden snares that lay in the pathway, it is small wonder that the sons of Turenn felt doubt of ever being able to pay it, and that when, after surmounting all the previous obstacles, they at last raised three feeble shouts on Midkena’s Hill, they immediately gave up the ghost.
The story told yesterday by Sheela the Scribe was the Magic Thread-Clue, or the Pursuit of the Gilla Dacker, Benella and the Button Boy being the chief characters; Finola’s was the Voyage of the Children of Corr the Swift-Footed (the Ard-ri’s pseudonym for American travellers); while mine, to be told to-morrow, is called the Quest of the Fair Strangers, or the Fairy Quicken Tree of Devorgilla.
Chapter 30 The Quest Of The Fair Strangers…
‘Before the King
The bards will sing.
And there recall the stories all
That give renown to Ireland.’
Eighteenth Century Song.
Englished by George Sigerson.
* It seems probable that this tale records a real incident which took place in Aunt David’s garden. Penelope has apparently listened with such attention to the old Celtic romances as told by the Ard-ri and Dermot O’Dyna that she has, consciously or unconsciously, reproduced something of their atmosphere and phraseology. The delightful surprise at the end must have been contrived by Salemina, when she, in her character of Sheela the Scribe, gazed into the Horn of Foreknowledge and learned the events that were to happen that day.–K.D.W.
Three maidens once dwelt in a castle in that part of the Isle of Weeping known as the cantred of Devorgilla, Devorgilla of the Green Hill Slopes; and they were baptized according to druidical rites as Sheela the Scribe, Finola the Festive, and Pearla the Melodious, though by the dwellers in that land they were called the Fair Strangers, or the Children of Corr the Swift-Footed.
This cantred of Devorgilla they acquired by paying rent and tribute to the Wise Woman of Wales, who granted them to fish in its crystal streams and to hunt over the green-sided hills, to roam through the woods of yew-trees and to pluck the flowers of every hue that were laughing all over the plains.
Thus were they circumstanced: Their palace of abode was never without three shouts in it,–the shout of the maidens brewing tea, the shout of the guests drinking it, and the shout of the assembled multitude playing at their games. The same house was never without three measures,–a measure of magic malt for raising the spirits, a measure of Attic salt for the seasoning of tales, and a measure of poppy leaves to induce sleep when the tales were dull.
And the manner of their lives was this: In the cool of the morning they gathered nuts and arbutus apples and scarlet quicken berries to take back with them to Tir-thar-toinn, the Country beyond the Wave; for this was the land of their birth. When the sun was high in the east they went forth to the chase; sometimes it was to hunt the Ard-ri, and at others it was in pursuit of Dermot of the Bright Face. Then, after resting awhile on their couches of soft rushes, they would perform champion feats, or play on their harps, or fish in their clear-flowing streams that were swimming with salmon.
The manner of their fishing was this: to cut a long, straight sallow-tree rod, and having fastened a hook and one of Finola’s hairs upon it, to put a quicken-tree berry upon the hook, and stand on the brink of the swift-flowing river, whence they drew out the shining-skinned, silver-sided salmon. These they would straightway broil over a little fire of birch boughs; and they needed with them no other food but the magical loaf made by Toma, one of their house-servants. The witch hag that dwelt on that hillside of Rosnaree called Fan-na-carpat, or the Slope of the Chariots, had cast a druidical spell over Toma, by which she was able to knead a loaf that would last twenty days and twenty nights, and one mouthful of which would satisfy hunger for that length of time. [**]
Not far from the mayden castle was a certain royal palace, with a glittering roof, and the name of the palace was Rosnaree. And upon the level green in front of the regal abode, or in the banqueting-halls, might always be seen noble companies of knights and ladies bright,–some feasting, some playing at the chess, some giving ear to the music of their own harps, some continually shaking the Chain of Silence, and some listening to the poems and tales of heroes of the olden time that were told by the king’s bards and shanachies.
Now all went happily with the Fair Strangers until the crimson berries were ripening on the quicken-tree near the Fairy Palace. For the berries possessed secret virtues known only to a man of the Dedannans, and learned from him by Sheela the Scribe, who put him under gesa not to reveal the charm to any one else. Whosoever ate of the honey-sweet, scarlet-glowing fruit felt a cheerful flow of spirits, as if he had tasted wine or mead, and whosoever ate a sufficient number of them was almost certain to grow younger. These things were written in the Speckled Book of Salemina, but in druidical ink, undecipherable to all eyes but those of the Scribe herself.
So, wishing that none should possess the secret but themselves, the Fair Strangers set the Gilla Dacker+ to watch the fruit (putting him first under gesa to eat none of the berries himself, since he was already too cheerful and too young to be of much service); and thus, in their absence, the magical tree was never left alone.
+Could be freely translated as the Slothful Button Boy.
Nevertheless, when Finola the Festive went forth to the chase one day, she found a quicken berry glowing like a ruby in the highroad, and Sheela plucked a second from under a gnarled thorn on the Slope of the Chariots, and Pearla discovered a third in the curiously-compounded, swiftly-satisfying loaf of Toma. Then the Fair Strangers became very angry, and sent out their trusty fleet-footed couriers to scour the land for the invaders; for they knew that none of the Dedannans would take the berries, being under gesa not to do so. But the couriers returned, and though they were men able to trace the trail of a fox through nine glens and nine rivers, they could discover no proof of the presence of a foreign foe in the mayden cantred of Devorgilla.
Then the hearts of the Fair Strangers were filled with grief and gall, for they distrusted the couriers, and having consulted the Ard-ri, they set forth themselves to find and conquer the invader; for the king told them that there was one other quicken-tree, more beautiful and more magical than that growing by the Fairy Palace, and that it was set in another part of the bright-blooming, sweet-scented old garden,–namely, in the heart of the labyrinthine maze of the Wise Woman of Wales; but as no one of them, neither the Gilla Dacker nor those who pursued him, had ever, even with the aid of the Magic Thread-Clue, reached the heart of the maze, there was no knowledge among them of the second quicken-tree. The king also told Sheela the Scribe, secretly, that one of his knights had found a money-piece and a breviary in the forest of Rosnaree; and the silver was unlike any ever used in the country of the Dedannans, and the breviary could belong only to a pious Gael known as Loskenn of the Bare Knees.
Now Sheela the Scribe, having fasted from midnight until dawn, gazed upon the Horn of Foreknowledge, and read there that it was wiser for her to remain on guard at the Fairy Palace, while her sisters explored the secret fastnesses of the labyrinth.
When Finola was apparelled to set forth upon her quest, Pearla thought her the loveliest maiden upon the ridge of the world, and wondered whether she meant to conquer the invader by force of arms or by the power of beauty.
The rose and the lily were fighting together in her face, and one could not tell which of them got the victory. Her arms and hands were like the lime, her mouth was as red as a ripe strawberry, her foot as small and as light as another one’s hand, her form smooth and slender, and her hair falling down from her head under combs of gold.++ One could not look at her without being ‘all over in love with her,’ as Oisin said at his first meeting with Niam of the Golden Hair. And as for Pearla, the rose on her cheeks was heightened by her rage against the invader, the delicate blossom of the sloe was not whiter than her neck, and her glossy chestnut ringlets fell to her waist.
++ Description of the Princess in Guleesh na Guss Dhu.
Then the Gilla Dacker unleashed Bran, the keen-scented terrier hound, and put a pearl-embroidered pillion on Enbarr of the Flowing Mane, and the two dauntless maidens leaped upon her back, each bearing a broad shield and a long polished, death-dealing spear. When Enbarr had been given a free rein she set out for the labyrinth, trailing the Magic Thread-Clue behind her, cleaving the air with long, active strides; and if you know what the speed of a swallow is, flying across a mountain-side, or the dry wind of a March day sweeping over the plains, then you can understand nothing of the swiftness of this steed of the flowing mane, acquired by the day by the maydens of Devorgilla.
Many were the dangers that beset the path of these two noble champions on their quest for the Fairy Quicken Tree. Here they met an enormous white stoat, but this was slain by the intrepid Bran, and they buried its bleeding corse and raised a cairn over it, with the name ‘Stoat’ graven on it in Ogam; there a druidical fairy mist sprang up in their path to hide the way, but they pierced it with a note of their far-reaching, clarion-toned voices,–an art learned in their native land beyond the wave.
Now the dog Bran, being unhungered, and refusing to eat of Toma’s loaf, as all did who were ignorant of its druidical purpose, fell upon the Magic Thread-Clue and tore it in twain. This so greatly affrighted the champions that they sounded the Dord-Fian slowly and plaintively, hoping that the war-cry might bring Sheela to their rescue. This availing nothing, Finola was forced to slay Bran with her straight-sided, silver-shining spear; but this she felt he would not mind if he could know that he would share the splendid fate of the stoat, and speedily have a cairn raised over him, with the word ‘Bran’ graven upon it in Ogam,–since this is the consolation offered by the victorious living to all dead Celtic heroes; and if it be a poor substitute for life, it is at least better than nothing.
It was now many hours after noon, and though to the Fair Strangers it seemed they had travelled more than forty or a hundred miles, they were apparently no nearer than ever to the heart of the labyrinth: and this from the first had been the pestiferous peculiarity of that malignantly meandering maze. So they dismounted, and tied Enbarr to the branch of a tree, while they refreshed themselves with a mouthful of Toma’s loaf; and Finola now put her thumb under her ‘tooth of knowledge,’ for she wished new guidance and inspiration, and, being more than common modest, she said: “Inasmuch as we are fairer than all the other maydens in this labyrinth, why, since we cannot find the heart of the maze, do we not entice the invaders from their hiding-place by the quicken-tree; and when we see from what direction they advance, fall upon and slay them; and after raising the usual cairn to their memory, and carving their names over it in the customary Ogam, run to the enchanted tree and gather all the berries that are left? For this is the hour when Sheela brews the tea, and the knights and the ladies quaff it from our golden cups; and truly I am weary of this quest, and far rather would I be there than here.”
So Pearla the Melodious took her timpan, and chanted a Gaelic song that she had learned in the country of the Dedannans; and presently a round-polished, red-gleaming quicken berry dropped into her lap, and another into Finola’s, and, looking up, they saw nought save only a cloud of quicken berries falling through the air one after the other. And this caused them to wonder, for it seemed like unto a snare set for them; but Pearla said, “There is nought remaining for us but to meet the danger.”
“It is well,” replied Finola, shaking down the mantle of her ebon locks, and setting the golden combs more firmly in them; “only, if I perish, I prithee let there be no cairns or Ogams. Let me fall, as a beauty should, face upward; and if it be but a swoon, and the invader be a handsome prince, see that he wakens me in his own good way.”
“To arms, then!” cried Pearla, and, taking up their spears and cheap air max 1 shields, the Fair Strangers dashed blindly in the direction whence the berries fell.
“To arms indeed, but to yours or ours?” called two voices from the heart of the labyrinth; and there, in an instant, the two brave champions, Finola and Pearla, found the Fairy Tree hanging thick with scarlet berries, and under its branches, fit fruit indeed nike air max 1 premium to raise the spirits or bring eternal youth, were, in the language of the Dedannans, Loskenn of the Bare Knees and the Bishop of Ossory,–known to the Children of Corr the Swift-Footed as Ronald Macdonald and Himself!
And the hours ran on; and Sheela the Scribe brewed and brewed and brewed and brewed the tea at her table in the Peacock Walk, and the knights and ladies quaffed it from the golden cups belonging to the Wise Woman of Wales; but Finola the Festive and Pearla the Melodious lingered in the labyrinth with Loskenn of the Bare Knees and the Bishop of Ossory. And they said to one another, “Surely, if it were so great a task to find the heart of this maze, we should be mad to st nike air max 1 leopard ir from the spot, lest we lose it again.”
And Pearla murmured, “That plan were wise indeed, save that the place seemeth all too small for so many.”
Then Finola drew herself up proudly, and replied, “It is no smaller for one than for another; but come, Loskenn, let us see if haply we can lose ourselves in some path of our own finding.”
And this they did; and the content of them that departed was no greater than the content of them that were left behind, and the sun hid himself for very shame because the brightness of their joy was so much more dazzling than the glory of his own face. And nothi nike air max 1 ng more is told of what befell them till they reached the threshold of the Old Hall; and it was not the sun, but the moon, that shone upon their meeting with Sheela the Scribe.
Chapter 31 Good-Bye, Dark Rosaleen
‘When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,
Hung round the bowers, and fondly looked their last,
And took a long farewell, and wished in vain
For seats like these beyond the western main,
And shuddering still to face the distant deep,
Returned and wept, and still returned to weep.’
It is almost over, our Irish holiday, so full of delicious, fruitful experiences; of pleasures we have made and shared, and of other people’s miseries and hardships we could not relieve. Almost over! Soon we shall be in Dublin, and then on to London to meet Francesca’s father; soon be deciding whether she will be married at the house of their friend the American ambassador, or in her own country, where she has really had no home since the death of her mother.
The ceremony over, Mr. Monroe will start again for Cairo or Constantinople, Stockholm or St. Petersburg; for he is of late years a determined wanderer, whose fatherly affe Nike air max 1 ction is chiefly shown in liberal allowances, in pride of his daughter’s beauty and many conquests, in conscientious letter-writing, and in frequent calls upon her between his long journeys. It is because of these paternal predilections that we are so glad Francesca’s heart has resisted all the shot and shell directed against it from the batteries of a dozen gay worldlings and yielded so quietly and so completely to Ronald Macdonald’s loyal and tender affection.
At tea-time day before yesterday, Salemina suggested that Francesca and I find the heart of Aunt David’s labyrinth, the which she had discovered in a less than nike air max 1 red ten minutes’ search that morning, leaving her Gaelic primer behind her that we might bring it back as a proof of our success. You have heard in Pearla’s Celtic fairy tale the outcome of this little expedition, and now know that Ronald Macdonald and Himself planned the joyful surprise for us, and by means of Salemina’s aid carried it out triumphantly.
Ronald crossing to Ireland from Glasgow, and Himself from Liver nike air max 1 grey pool, had met in Dublin, and travelled post-haste to the Shamrock Inn in Devorgilla, where they communicated with Salemina and begged her assistance in their plot.
I was looking forward to my husband’s arrival within a week, but Ronald had said not a word of his intended visit; so that Salemina was properly nervous lest some one of us should collapse out of sheer joy at the unexpected meeting.
I have been both quietly and wildly happy many times in my life, but I think yesterday was the most perfect day in all my chain of years. Not that in this long separation I have been dull, or sad, or lonely. How could I be? Dull, with two dear, bright, sunny letters every week, letters throbbing with manly tenderness, letters breathing the sure, steadfast, protecting care that a strong man gives to the woman he has chosen. Sad, with m cheap nike air max 1 y heart brimming over with sweet memories and sweeter prophecies, and all its tiny crevices so filled with love that discontent can find no entrance there! Lonely, when the vision of the beloved is so poignantly real in absence that his bodily presence adds only a final touch to joy! Dull, or sad, when in these soft days of spring and early summer I have harboured a new feeling of companionship and oneness with Nature, a fresh joy in all her bounteous resource and plenitude of life, a renewed sense of kinship with her mysterious awakenings! The heavenly greenness and promise of the outer world seem but a reflection of the hopes and dreams that irradiate my own inner consciousness.
My art, dearly as I loved it, dearly as I love it still, never gave me these strange, unspeakable joys with their delicate margin of pain. Where are my ambitions, my visions of lonely triumphs, my nike air max 1 sale imperative need of self-expression, my ennobling glimpses of the unattainable, my companionship with the shadows in which an artist’s life is so rich? Are they vanished altogether? I think not; only changed in the twinkling of an eye, merged in something higher still, carried over, linked on, transformed, transmuted, by Love the alchemist, who, not content with joys already bestowed, whispers secret promises of raptures yet to come.
The green isle looked its fairest for our wanderers. Just as a woman adorns herself with all her jewels when she wishes to startle or enthrall, wishes to make a lover of a friend, so Devorgilla arrayed herself to conquer these two pairs of fresh eyes, and command their instant allegiance.
It was a tender, silvery day, fair, mild, pensive, with light shadows and a capricious sun. There had been a storm of rain the night before, and it was as if Na nike air max 1 black ture had repented of her wildness, and sought forgiveness by all sorts of winsome arts, insinuating invitations, soft caresses, and melting coquetries of demeanour.
Broona and Jackeen had lunched with us at the Old Hall, and, inebriated by broiled chicken, green peas, and a half holiday, flitted like fireflies through Aunt David’s garden, showing all its treasures to the two new friends, already in high favour.
Benella, it is unnecessary to say, had confided her entire past life to Himself after a few hours’ acquaintance, while both he and Ronald, concealing in the most craven manner their original objections to the part she proposed to play in our triangular alliance, thanked her, with tears in their eyes, for her devotion to their sovereign ladies.
We had tea in the Italian garden at Rosnaree, and Dr. Gerald, arm in arm with Himself, walked between its formal flower borders, along its paths of golden gravel, and among its spirelike cypresses and fountains, where balustrades and statues, yellowed and stained with age (stains which Benella longs to scrub away), make the brilliant turf even greener by contrast.
Tea was to have been followed in due course by dinner, but we all agreed that nothing should induce us to go indoors on such a beautiful evening; so baskets were packed, and we went in rowboats to a picnic supper on Illanroe, a wee island in Lough Beg.
I can close my eyes to-day and see the picture–the lonely little lake, as blue in the sunshine as the sky above it, but in the twilight first brown and cool, then flushed with the sunset. The distant hills, the rocks, the heather, wore tints I never saw them wear before. The singing wavelets ‘spilled their crowns of white upon the beach’ across the lake, and the wild-flowers in the clear shallows near us grew so close to the brink that they threw their delicate reflections in the water, looking up at us again framed in red-brown grasses.
By and by the moon rose out of the pearl-greys and ambers in the east, bevies of black rooks flew homeward, and stillness settled over the face of the brown lake. Darkness shut us out from Devorgilla; and though we could still see the glimmer of the village lights, it seemed as if we were in a little world of our own.
It was useless for Salemina to deny herself to the children, for was she not going to leave them on the morrow? She sat under the shadow of a thorn bush, and the two mites, tired with play, cuddled themselves by her side, unreproved. She looked tenderly, delectably feminine. The moon shone full upon her face; but there are no ugly lines to hide, for there are no parched and arid places in her nature. Dews of sympathy, sweet spring floods of love and compassion, have kept all fresh, serene, and young.
We had been gay, but silence fell upon us as it had fallen upon the lake. There would be only a day or two in Dublin, whither Dr. Gerald was going with us, that he might have the last word and hand-clasp before we sailed away from Irish shores; and so near was the parting that we were all, in our hearts, bidding farewell to the Emerald Isle.
Good-bye, Silk of the Kine! I was saying to myself, calling the friendly spot by one of the endearing names given her by her lovers in the sad old days. Good-bye, Little Black Rose, growing on the stern Atlantic shore! Good-bye, Rose of the World, with your jewels of emerald and amethyst, the green of your fields and the misty purple of your hills! Good-bye, Shan Van Vocht, Poor Little Old Woman! We are going back, Himself and I, to the Oilean Ur, as you used to call our new island–going back to the hurly-burly of affairs, to prosperity and opportunity; but we shall not forget the lovely Lady of Sorrows looking out to the west with the pain of a thousand years in her ever youthful eyes. Good-bye, my Dark Rosaleen, good-bye!
Chapter 32 ‘As The Sunflower Turns’
‘No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turned when he rose.’
Here we all are at O’Carolan’s Hotel in Dublin–all but the Colquhouns, who bade us adieu at the station, and the dear children, whose tears are probably dried by now, although they flowed freely enough at parting. Broona flung her arms tempestuously around Salemina’s neck, exclaiming between her sobs, “Good-bye, my thousand, thousand blessings!”–an expression so Irish that we laughed and cried in one breath at the sound of it.
Here we are in the midst of life once more, though to be sure it is Irish life, which moves less dizzily than our own. We ourselves feel thoroughly at home, nor are we wholly forgotten by the public; for on beckoning to a driver on the cab-stand to approach with his side-car, he responded with alacrity, calling to his neighbour, “Here’s me sixpenny darlin’ again!” and I recognised him immediately as a man who had once remonstrated with me eloquently on the subject of a fee, making such a fire of Hibernian jokes over my sixpence that I heartily wished it had been a half-sovereign.
Cables and telegrams are arriving every hour, and a rich American lady writes to Salemina, asking her if she can purchase the Book of Kells for her, as she wishes to give it to a favourite nephew who is a bibliomaniac. I am begging the shocked Miss Peabody to explain that the volume in question is not for sale, and to ask at the same time if her correspondent wishes to purchase the Lakes of Killarney or the Giant’s Causeway in its stead. Francesca, in a whirl of excitement, is buying cobweb linens, harp brooches, creamy poplins with golden shamrocks woven into their lustrous surfaces; and as for laces, we spend hours in the shops, when our respective squires wish us to show them the sights of Dublin.
Benella is in her element, nursing Salemina, who sprained her ankle just as we were leaving Devorgilla. At the last moment our side-cars were so crowded with passengers and packages that she accepted a seat in Dr. Gerald’s carriage, and drove to the station with him. She had a few last farewells to say in the village, and a few modest remembrances to leave with some of the poor old women; and I afterward learned that the drive was not without its embarrassments. The butcher’s wife said fervently, “May you long be spared to each other!” The old weaver exclaimed, “‘Twould be an ojus pity to spoil two houses wid ye!” While the woman who sells apples at the station capped all by wishing the couple “a long life and a happy death together.” No wonder poor Salemina slipped and twisted her ankle as she alighted from the carriage! Though walking without help is still an impossibility, twenty-four hours of rubbing and bathing and bandaging have made it possible for her to limp discreetly, and we all went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral together this morning.
We had been in the quiet churchyard, where a soft, misty rain was falling on the yellow acacias and the pink hawthorns. We had stood under the willow-tree in the deanery garden–the tree that marks the site of the house from which Dean Swift watched the movements of the torches in the cathedral at the midnight burial of Stella. They are lying side by side at the foot of a column in the south side of the nave, and a brass plate in the pavement announces:–
‘Here lies Mrs. Hester Johnson, better known to the world by the name of Stella, under which she is celebrated in the writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, Dean of this Cathedral.’
Poor Stella, at rest for a century and a half beside the man who caused her such pangs of love and grief–who does not mourn her?
The nave of the cathedral was dim, and empty of all sightseers save our own group. There was a caretaker who went about in sloppy rubber shoes, scrubbing marbles and polishing brasses, and behind a high screen or temporary partition some one was playing softly on an organ.
We stood in a quiet circle by Stella’s resting-place, and Dr. Gerald, who never forgets anything, apparently, was reminding us of Thackeray’s gracious and pathetic tribute:–
‘Fair and tender creature, pure and affectionate heart! Boots it to you now that the whole world loves you and deplores you? Scarce any man ever thought of your grave that did not cast a flower of pity on it, and write over it a sweet epitaph. Gentle lady! so lovely, so loving, so unhappy. You have had countless champions, millions of manly hearts mourning for you. From generation to generation we take up the fond tradition of your beauty; we watch and follow your story, your bright morning love and purity, your constancy, your grief, your sweet martyrdom. We know your legend by heart. You are one of the saints of English story.’
As Dr. Gerald’s voice died away, the strains of ‘Love’s Young Dream’ floated out from the distant end of the building.
“The organist must be practising for a wedding,” said Francesca, very much alive to anything of that sort.
“‘Oh, there’s nothing half so sweet in life,'”
she hummed. “Isn’t it charming?”
“You ought to know,” Dr. Gerald answered, looking at her affectionately, though somewhat too sadly for my taste; “but an old fellow like me must take refuge in the days of ‘milder, calmer beam,’ of which the poet speaks.”
Ronald and Himself, guide-books in hand, walked away to talk about the ‘Burial of Sir John Moore,’ and look for Wolfe’s tablet, and I stole behind the great screen which had been thrown up while repairs of some sort were being made or a new organ built. A young man was evidently taking a lesson, for the old organist was sitting on the bench beside him, pulling out the stops, and indicating the time with his hand. There was to be a wedding–that was certain; for ‘Love’s Young Dream’ was taken off the music rack at that moment, while ‘Believe me, if all those endearing young charms’ was put in its place, and the melody came singing out to us on the vox humana stop.
‘Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.’
Francesca joined me just then, and a tear was in her eye. “Penny dear, when all is said, ‘Believe me’ is the dearer song of the two. Anybody can sing, feel, live, the first, which is but a youthful dream, after all; but the other has in it the proved fidelity of the years. The first song belongs to me, I know, and it is all I am fit for now; but I want to grow toward and deserve the second.”
“You are right; but while Love’s Young Dream is yours and Ronald’s, dear, take all the joy that it holds for you. The other song is for Salemina and Dr. Gerald, and I only hope they are realising it at this moment–secretive, provoking creatures that they are!”
The old organist left his pupil just then, and disappeared through a little door in the rear.
“Have you the Wedding March there?” I asked the pupil who had been practising the love-songs.
“Oh yes, madam, though I am afraid I cannot do it justice,” he replied modestly. “Are you interested in organ music?”
“I am very much interested in yours, and I am still more interested in a romance that has been dragging its weary length along for twenty years, and is trying to bring itself to a crisis just on the other side of that screen. You can help me precipitate it, if you only will!”
Well, he was young and he was an Irishman, which is equivalent to being a born lover, and he had been brought up on Tommy Moore and music–all of which I had known from the moment I saw him, else I should not have made the proposition. I peeped from behind the screen. Ronald and Himself were walking toward us; Salemina and Dr. Gerald were sitting together in one of the front pews. I beckoned to my husband.
“Will you and Ronald go quietly out one of the side doors,” I asked, “take your own car, and go back to the hotel, allowing us to follow you a little later?”
It takes more than one year of marriage for even the cleverest Benedict to uproot those weeds of stupidity, denseness, and non-comprehension that seem to grow so riotously in the mental garden of the bachelor; so, said Himself, “We came all together; why shouldn’t we go home all together?” (So like a man! Always reasoning from analogy; always, so to speak, ‘lugging in’ logic!)
“Desperate situations demand desperate remedies,” I replied mysteriously, though I hope patiently. “If you go home at once without any questions, you will be virtuous, and it is more than likely that you will also be happy; and if you are not, somebody else will be.”
Having seen the backs of our two cavaliers disappearing meekly into the rain, I stationed Francesca at a point of vantage, and went out to my victims in the front pew.
“The others went on ahead,” I explained, with elaborate carelessness–“they wanted to drive by Dublin Castle; and we are going to follow as we like. For my part, I am tired, and you are looking pale, Salemina; I am sure your ankle is painful. Help her, Dr. Gerald, please; she is so proud and self-reliant that she won’t even lean on any one’s arm, if she can avoid it. Take her down the middle aisle, for I’ve sent your car to that door” (this was the last of a series of happy thoughts on my part). “I’ll go and tell Francesca, who is flirting with the organist. She has an appointment at the tailor’s; so I will drop her there, and join you at the hotel in a few minutes.”
The refractory pair of innocent, middle-aged lovers started, arm in arm, on what I ardently hoped would be an eventful walk together. It was from, instead of toward the altar, to be sure, but I was certain it would finally lead them to it, notwithstanding the unusual method of approach. I gave Francesca the signal, and then, disappearing behind the screen, I held her hand in a palpitation of nervous apprehension that I had scarcely felt when Himself first asked me to be his.
The young organist, blushing to the roots of his hair, trembling with responsibility, smiling at the humour of the thing, pulled out all the stops, and the Wedding March pealed through the cathedral, the splendid joy and swing and triumph of it echoing through the vaulted aisles in a way that positively incited one to bigamy.
“We may regard the matter as settled now,” whispered Francesca comfortably. “Anybody would ask anybody else to marry him, whether he was in love with her or not. If it weren’t so beautiful and so touching, wouldn’t it be amusing? Isn’t the organist a darling, and doesn’t he enter into the spirit of it? See him shaking with sympathetic laughter, and yet he never lets a smile creep into the music; it is all earnestness and majesty. May I peep now and see how they are getting on?”
“Certainly not! What are you thinking of, Francesca? Our only justification in this whole matter is that we are absolutely serious about it. We shall say good-bye to the organist, wring his hand gratefully, and steal with him through the little door. Then in a half-hour we shall know the worst or the best; and we must remember to send him cards and a marked copy of the newspaper containing the marriage notice.”
Salemina told me all about it that night, but she never suspected the interference of any deus ex machina save that of the traditional God of Love, who, it seems to me, has not kept up with the requirements of the age in all respects, and leaves a good deal for us women to do nowadays.
“Would that you had come up this aisle to meet me, Salemina, and that you were walking down again as my wife!” This was what Dr. Gerald had surprised her by saying, when the wedding music had finally entered into his soul, driving away for the moment his doubt and fear and self-distrust; and I can well believe that the hopelessness of his tone stirred her tender heart to its very depths.
“What did you answer?” I asked breathlessly, on the impulse of the moment.
We were talking by the light of a single candle. Salemina turned her head a little aside, but there was a look on her face that repaid me for all my labour and anxiety, a look in which her forty years melted away and became as twenty, a look that was the outward and visible expression of the inward and spiritual youth that has always been hers; then she replied simply–“I told him what is true: that my life had been one long coming to meet him, and that I was quite ready to walk with him to the end of the world.”
. . . . . .
I left her to her thoughts, which I well knew were more precious than my words, and went across the hall, where Benella was packing Francesca’s last purchases. Ordinarily one of us manages to superintend such operations, as the Derelict’s principal aim is to make two garments go where only one went before. Nature in her wildest moments never abhorred a vacuum in her dominion as Miss Dusenberry resents it in a trunk.
“Benella,” I said, in that mysterious whisper which one uses for such communications, “Dr. La Touche has asked Miss Peabody to marry him, and she has consented.”
“It was full time!” the Derelict responded, with a deep sigh of relief, “but better late than never! Men folks are so queer, I don’t hardly know how a merciful Providence ever came to invent ’em! Either they’re so bold they’d propose to the Queen o’ Sheba without mindin’ it a mite, or else they’re such scare-cats you ’bout have to ask ’em yourself, and then lug ’em to the minister’s afterwards–there don’t seem to be no halfway with ’em. Well, I’m glad you’re all settled; it must be nice to have folks!”
It was a pathetic little phrase, and I fancied I detected a tear in her usually cheerful and decided voice. Acting on the suspicion, I said hurriedly, “You have already had a share of Miss Monroe’s ‘folks’ and mine offered you, and now Miss Peabody will be sure to add hers to the number. Your only difficulty will be to attend to them all impartially, and keep them from quarrelling as to which shall have you next.”
She brightened visibly. “Yes,” she assented, without any superfluous modesty,–squeezing as she spoke a pair of bronze slippers into the crown of Francesca’s favourite hat–“yes, that part’ll be hard on all of us; but I want you to know that I belong to you this winter, any way; Miss Peabody can get along without me better’n you can.”
Her glance was freighted with a kind of evasive, half-embarrassed affection; shy, unobtrusive, respectful it was, but altogether friendly and helpful.
That the relations between us have ever quite been those of mistress and maid, I cannot affirm. We have tried to persuade ourselves that they were at least an imitation of the proper thing, just to maintain our self-respect while travelling in a country of monarchical institutions, but we have always tacitly understood the real situation and accepted its piquant incongruities.
So when I met Benella Dusenberry’s wistful, sympathetic eye, my republican head, reckless of British conventions, found the maternal hollow in her spinster shoulder as I said, “Dear old Derelict! it was a good day for us when you drifted into our harbour!”
[Book Title: Penelope’s Progress: Being Such Extracts from the Commonplace Book of Penelope Hamilton As Relate to Her Experiences in Scotland]
“Edina, Scotia’s darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and towers!”
Edinburgh, April, 189-.
22, Breadalbane Terrace.
We have traveled together before, Salemina, Francesca, and I, and we know the very worst there is to know about one another. After this point has been reached, it is as if a triangular marriage had taken place, and, with the honeymoon comfortably over, we slip along in thoroughly friendly fashion. I use no warmer word than “friendly” because, in the first place, the highest tides of feeling do not visit the coast of triangular alliances; and because, in the second place, “friendly” is a word capable of putting to the blush many a more passionate and endearing one.
Every one knows of our experiences in England, for we wrote volumes of letters concerning them, the which were widely circulated among our friends at the time and read aloud under the evening lamps in the several cities of our residence.
Since then few striking changes have taken place in our history.
Salemina returned to Boston for the winter, to find, to her amazement, that for forty odd years she had been rather overestimating it.
On arriving in New York, Francesca discovered that the young lawyer whom for six months she had been advising to marry somebody “more worthy than herself” was at last about to do it. This was somewhat in the nature of a shock, for Francesca has been in the habit, ever since she was seventeen, of giving her lovers similar advice, and up to this time no one of them has ever taken it. She therefore has had the not unnatural hope, I think, of organizing at one time or another all these disappointed and faithful swains into a celibate brotherhood; and perhaps of driving by the interesting monastery with her husband and calling his attention modestly to the fact that these poor monks were filling their barren lives with deeds of piety, trying to remember their Creator with such assiduity that they might, in time, forget Her.
Her chagrin was all the keener at losing this last aspirant to her hand in that she had almost persuaded herself that she was as fond of him as she was likely to be of anybody, and that, on the whole, she had better marry him and save his life and reason.
Fortunately she had not communicated this gleam of hope by letter, feeling, I suppose, that she would like to see for herself the light of joy breaking over his pale cheek. The scene would have been rather pretty and touching, but meantime the Worm had turned and dispatched a letter to the Majestic at the quarantine station, telling her that he had found a less reluctant bride in the person of her intimate friend Miss Rosa Van Brunt; and so Francesca’s dream of duty and sacrifice was over.
Salemina says she was somewhat constrained for a week and a trifle cynical for a fortnight, but that afterwards her spirits mounted on ever ascending spirals to impossible heights, where they have since remained. It appears from all this that although she was piqued at being taken at her word, her heart was not in the least damaged. It never was one of those fragile things which have to be wrapped in cotton, and preserved from the slightest blow–Francesca’s heart. It is made of excellent stout, durable material, and I often tell her with the care she takes of it, and the moderate strain to which it is subjected, it ought to be as good as new a hundred years hence.
As for me, the scene of my own love story is laid in America and England, and has naught to do with Edinburgh. It is far from finished; indeed, I hope it will be the longest serial on record, one of those charming tales that grow in interest as chapter after chapter unfolds, until at the end we feel as if we could never part with the delightful people.
I should be, at this very moment, Mrs. William Beresford, a highly respectable young matron who painted rather good pictures in her spinster days, when she was Penelope Hamilton of the great American working-class, Unlimited; but first Mrs. Beresford’s dangerous illness, and then her death, have kept my dear boy a willing prisoner in Cannes, his heart sadly torn betwixt his love and duty to his mother and his desire to be with me. The separation is virtually over now, and we two, alas, have ne’er a mother or a father between us, so we shall not wait many months before beginning to comfort each other in good earnest.
Meantime Salemina and Francesca have persuaded me to join their forces, and Mr. Beresford will follow us to Scotland in a few short weeks, when we shall have established ourselves in the country.
We are overjoyed at being together again, we three women folk. As I said before, we know the worst of one another, and the future has no terrors. We have learned, for example, that:–
Francesca does not like an early morning start. Salemina refuses to arrive late anywhere. Penelope prefers to stay behind and follow next day.
Francesca scorns to travel third class. So does Salemina, but she will if urged.
Penelope hates a four-wheeler. Salemina is nervous in a hansom. Francesca prefers a Victoria.
Salemina likes a steady fire in the grate. Penelope opens a window and fans herself.
Salemina inclines to instructive and profitable expeditions. Francesca loves processions and sightseeing. Penelope abhors all of these equally.
Salemina likes history. Francesca loves fiction. Penelope adores poetry and detests facts.
Penelope likes substantial breakfasts. Francesca dislikes the sight of food in the morning.
In the matter of breakfasts, when we have leisure to assert our individual tastes, Salemina prefers tea, Francesca cocoa, and I, coffee. We can never, therefore, be served with a large comfortable pot of anything, but are confronted instead with a caravan of silver jugs, china jugs, bowls of hard and soft sugar, hot milk, cold milk, hot water, and cream, while each in her secret heart wishes that the other two were less _exigeante_ in the matter of diet.
This does not sound promising, but it works perfectly well in practice by the exercise of a little flexibility.
As we left dear old Dovermarle Street and Smith’s Private Hotel behind, and drove to the station to take the Flying Scotsman, we indulged in floods of reminiscence over the joys of travel we had tasted together in the past, and talked with lively anticipation of the new experiences awaiting us in the land of heather.
While Salemina went to purchase the three first-class tickets, I superintended the porters as they disposed our luggage in the van, and in so doing my eye lighted upon a third-class carriage which was, for a wonder, clean, comfortable, and vacant. Comparing it hastily with the first-class compartment being held by Francesca, I found that it differed only in having no carpet on the floor, and a smaller number of buttons in the upholstering. This was really heart-rending when the difference in fare for three persons would be at least twenty dollars. What a delightful sum to put aside for a rainy day; that is, you understand, what a delightful sum to put aside and spend on the first rainy day; for that is the way we always interpret the expression.
When Salemina returned with the tickets, she found me, as usual, bewailing our extravagance.
Francesca descended suddenly from her post, and, snatching the tickets from her duenna, exclaimed, “‘I know that I can save the country, and I know no other man can!’ as William Pitt said to the Duke of Devonshire. I have had enough of this argument. For six months of last year we discussed traveling third class and continued to travel first. Get into that clean, hard-seated, ill-upholstered third-class carriage immediately, both of you; save room enough for a mother with two babies, a man carrying a basket of fish, and an old woman with five pieces of hand-luggage and a dog; meanwhile I will exchange the tickets.”
So saying, she disappeared rapidly among the throng of passengers, guards, porters, newspaper boys, golfers with bags of clubs, young ladies with bicycles, and old ladies with tin hat-boxes.
“What decision, what swiftness of judgment, what courage and energy!” murmured Salemina. “Isn’t she wonderfully improved since that unexpected turning of the Worm?”
Francesca rejoined us just as the guard was about to lock us in, and flung herself down, quite breathless from her unusual exertion.
“Well, we are traveling third for once, and the money is saved, or at least it is ready to spend again at the first opportunity. The man didn’t wish to exchange the tickets at all. He says it is never done. I told him they were bought by a very inexperienced American lady (that is you, Salemina) who knew almost nothing of the distinctions between first and third class, and naturally took the best, believing it to be none too good for a citizen of the greatest republic on the face of the earth. He said the tickets had been stamped on. I said so should I be if I returned without exchanging them. He was a very dense person, and didn’t see my joke at all, but then, it is true, there were thirteen men in line behind me, with the train starting in three minutes, and there is nothing so debilitating to a naturally weak sense of humor as selling tickets behind a grating, so I am not really vexed with him. There! we are quite comfortable, pending the arrival of the babies, the dog, and the fish, and certainly no vender of periodic literature will dare approach us while we keep these books in evidence.”
She had Laurence Hutton’s “Literary Landmarks” and “Royal Edinburgh,” by Mrs. Oliphant; I had Lord Cockburn’s Memorials of his Time; and somebody had given Salemina, at the moment of leaving London, a work on “Scotia’s darling seat,” in three huge volumes. When all this printed matter was heaped on the top of Salemina’s hold-all on the platform, the guard had asked, “Do you belong to these books, mam?”
“We may consider ourselves injured in going from London to Edinburgh in a third-class carriage in eight or ten hours, but listen to this,” said Salemina, who had opened one of her large volumes at random when the train started.
“‘The Edinburgh and London Stage-Coach begins on Monday, 13th October, 1712. All that desire … let them repair to the _Coach and Horses_ at the head of the Canongate every Saturday, or the _Black Swan_ in Holborn every other Monday, at both of which places they may be received in a coach which performs the whole journey in thirteen days without any stoppage (if God permits) having eighty able horses. Each passenger paying L4 10s. for the whole journey, alowing each 20 lbs. weight and all above to pay 6d. per lb. The coach sets off at six in the morning’ (you could never have caught it, Francesca!), ‘and is performed by Henry Harrison.’ And here is a ‘modern improvement,’ forty-two years later. In July, 1754, the ‘Edinburgh Courant’ advertises the stage-coach drawn by six horses, with a postilion on one of the leaders, as a ‘new, genteel, two-end glass machine, hung on steel springs, exceeding light and easy, to go in ten days in summer and twelve in winter. Passengers to pay as usual. Performed (if God permits) by your dutiful servant, Hosea Eastgate. _Care is taken of small parcels according to their value._'”
“It would have been a long, wearisome journey,” said I, contemplatively; “but, nevertheless, I wish we were making it in 1712 instead of a century and three quarters later.”
“What would have been happening, Salemina?” asked Francesca politely, but with no real desire to know.
“The Union had been already established five years,” began Salemina intelligently.
Salemina is used to these interruptions and eruptions of illiteracy on our part. I think she rather enjoys them, as in the presence of such complete ignorance as ours her lamp of knowledge burns all the brighter.
“Anne was on the throne,” she went on, with serene dignity.
“I know the Anne!” exclaimed Francesca excitedly. “She came from the Midnight Sun country, or up that way. She was very extravagant, and had something to do with Jingling Geordie in ‘The Fortunes of Nigel.’ It is marvelous how one’s history comes back to one!”
“Quite marvelous,” said Salemina dryly; “or at least the state in which it comes back is marvelous. I am not a stickler for dates, as you know, but if you could only contrive to fix a few periods in your minds, girls, just in a general way, you would not be so shamefully befogged. Your Anne of Denmark, Francesca, was the wife of James VI. of Scotland, who was James I. of England, and she died a hundred years before the Anne I mean,–the last of the Stuarts, you know. My Anne came after William and Mary, and before the Georges.”
“Which William and Mary?”
But this was too much even for Salemina’s equanimity, and she retired behind her book in dignified displeasure, while Francesca and I meekly looked up the Annes in a genealogical table, and tried to decide whether “b. 1665” meant born or beheaded.
The weather that greeted us on our unheralded arrival in Scotland was of the precise sort offered by Edinburgh to her unfortunate queen, when,
“After a youth by woes o’ercast,
After a thousand sorrows past,
The lovely Mary once again
Set foot upon her native plain.”
John Knox records of those memorable days: “The very face of heaven did manifestlie speak what comfort was brought to this country with hir–to wit, sorrow, dolour, darkness and all impiety–for in the memorie of man never was seen a more dolorous face of the heavens than was at her arryvall … the myst was so thick that skairse micht onie man espy another; and the sun was not seyn to shyne two days befoir nor two days after.”
We could not see Edina’s famous palaces and towers because of the _haar_, that damp, chilling, drizzling, dripping fog or mist which the east wind summons from the sea; but we knew that they were there, shrouded in the heart of that opaque mysterious grayness, and that before many hours our eyes would feast upon their beauty.
Perhaps it was the weather, but I could think of nothing but poor Queen Mary! She had drifted into my imagination with the _haar_, so that I could fancy her homesick gaze across the water as she murmured, “_Adieu, ma chere France! Je ne vous verray jamais plus!_”–could fancy her saying as in Allan Cunningham’s verse:–
“The sun rises bright in France,
And fair sets he;
But he hath tint the blithe blink he had
In my ain countree.”
And then I recalled Mary’s first good-night in Edinburgh: that “serenade of 500 rascals with vile fiddles and rebecks;” that singing, “in bad accord,” of Protestant psalms by the wet crowd beneath the palace windows, while the fires on Arthur’s Seat shot flickering gleams of welcome through the dreary fog. What a lullaby for poor Mary, half Frenchwoman and all Papist!
It is but just to remember the “indefatigable and undissuadable” John Knox’s statement, “the melody lyked her weill and she willed the same to be continewed some nightis after.” For my part, however, I distrust John Knox’s musical feeling, and incline sympathetically to the Sieur de Brantome’s account, with its “vile fiddles” and “discordant psalms,” although his judgment was doubtless a good deal depressed by what he called the _si grand brouillard_ that so dampened the spirits of Mary’s French retinue.
Ah well, I was obliged to remember, in order to be reasonably happy myself, that Mary had a gay heart, after all; that she was but nineteen; that, though already a widow, she did not mourn her young husband as one who could not be comforted; and that she must soon have been furnished with merrier music than the psalms, for another of the sour comments of the time is, “Our Queen weareth the dule [weeds], but she can dance daily, dule and all!”
These were my thoughts as we drove through invisible streets in the Edinburgh _haar_, turned into what proved next day to be a Crescent, and drew up to an invisible house with a visible number 22 gleaming over a door which gaslight transformed into a probability. We alighted, and though we could scarcely see the driver’s outstretched hand, he was quite able to discern a half-crown, and demanded three shillings.
The noise of our cab had brought Mrs. M’Collop to the door,–good (or at least pretty good) Mrs. M’Collop, to whose apartments we had been commended by English friends who had never occupied them.
Dreary as it was without, all was comfortable within doors, and a cheery (one-and-sixpenny) fire crackled in the grate. Our private drawing-room was charmingly furnished, and so large that, notwithstanding the presence of a piano, two sofas, five small tables, cabinets, desks, and chairs,–not forgetting a dainty five-o’clock tea equipage,–we might have given a party in the remaining space.
“If this is a typical Scotch lodging I like it; and if it is Scotch hospitality to lay the cloth and make the fire before it is asked for, then I call it simply Arabian in character!” and Salemina drew off her damp gloves, and extended her hands to the blaze.
“And isn’t it delightful that the bill doesn’t come in for a whole week?” asked Francesca. “We have only our English experiences on which to found our knowledge, and all is delicious mystery. The tea may be a present from Mrs. M’Collop, and the sugar may not be an extra; the fire may be included in the rent of the apartment, and the piano may not be taken away to-morrow to enhance the attractions of the dining-room floor.” (It was Francesca, you remember, who had “warstled” with the itemized accounts at Smith’s Private Hotel in London, and she who was always obliged to turn pounds, shillings, and pence into dollars and cents before she could add or subtract.)
“Come and look at the flowers in my bedroom,” I called, “four great boxes full! Mr. Beresford must have ordered the carnations, because he always does; but where did the roses come from, I wonder?”
I rang the bell, and a neat white-aproned maid appeared.
“Who brought these flowers, please?”
“I couldna say, mam.”
“Thank you; will you be good enough to ask Mrs. M’Collop?”
In a moment she returned with the message, “There will be a letter in the box, mam.”
“It seems to me the letter should be in the box now, if it is ever to be,” I thought, and I presently drew this card from among the fragrant buds:–
“Lady Baird sends these Scotch roses as a small return for the pleasure she has received from Miss Hamilton’s pictures. Lady Baird will give herself the pleasure of calling to-morrow; meantime she hopes that Miss Hamilton and her party will dine with her some evening this week.”
“How nice!” exclaimed Salemina.
“The celebrated Miss Hamilton’s undistinguished party presents its humble compliments to Lady Baird,” chanted Francesca, “and having no engagements whatever, and small hope of any, will dine with her on any and every evening she may name. Miss Hamilton’s party will wear its best clothes, polish its mental jewels, and endeavor in every possible way not to injure the gifted Miss Hamilton’s reputation among the Scottish nobility.”
I wrote a hasty note of thanks to Lady Baird, and rang the bell.
“Can I send a message, please?” I asked the maid.
“I couldna say, mam.”
“Will you be good enough to ask Mrs. M’Collop, please?”
“The Boots will tak’ it at seeven o’clock, mam.”
“Thank you; is Fotheringay Crescent near here?”
“I couldna say, mam.”
“Thank you; what is your name, please?”
I waited in well-grounded8