Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[graphic][subsumed]

Pilgrims singing as they cross the mountains in early spring a cry of wonder at the discovery of the When a foreign ship is in port, they are empty grave, and simultaneously with the busiest, these guardians of the peace; cry the veils fall from altars and pictures, drunkenness is too great a crime among and the black curtains from the windows, the Portuguese for an Azorean ever to be letting a flood of light pour down on the seen in a state of intoxication, and liquor crowded, excited flower-bed. The long- is too plentiful and too cheap for a sailor silent organ, augmented by choir and or- on leave to be seen in any other state. So chestra, breaks out in triumph, the half- it not infrequently happens that the entire masted flags of the city run to the mast- Ponta Delgada police force, nine men in head, and all the bells clash out their all, is employed in using persuasion on one paan of joy.

Celt or Saxon sailor, an act from which,

being better diplomats than boxers, they POLITE AND TEAR-SHEDDING POLICEMEN

will later pick themselves out of their sevThe note of anguish is rare with these eral recently allotted places in the gutter people, and the tears that usually lie near to bind in sorrow the hands of their strugthe surface, close to their laughter, are not gling guest, contributions of official neckalways thrilling. The policemen some- ties and handkerchiefs preventing chafe of times weep when making an arrest — those inhospitable cords.

If he be ever mannerly police of Ponta Delgada, who slightly hurt, tears fall and hands are raise their hats when you pass and never wrung in silent sympathy; all is done for refuse a cigarette or wait till off duty to his comfort as the dejected victors and smoke it.

unconquered captive start for the quay.

SO a

If a shower threatens, an overcoat is English, this year, yes; but next year you forthcoming, that the rain may fall evenly will sleep with the violets in the cemion the just and the unjust, and while terio." awaiting the ship's boat, the whole legal On the other hand, you cannot concompany busies itself readjusting their vince the "crazy English” that the Azoguest's disordered clothing, and as he is rean is quite compos mentis on the subject lowered, still thanklessly kicking, into the of dampness and drafts, against both of boat, a soothing cigarette is lighted and which his chief defense is his umbrella, put between his lips.

that trusty friend which protects from “But why on earth don't you gag him rain and sun and wind, from dew on and throw him into jail ?" is your natural moonlight nights, and from rocket-sticks inquiry, for the jail is the finest building in festa-time. But the senhor must know in the city, and its officials show signs of fresh air is not the only means of suicide. speedy dissolution through lack of occu- Ask for a fire some miserable winter day pation.

when the high ceilings and stone foors “Oh, we never could do that, Senhor," add bleakness to the dreary rain without. is the reproachful answer, as they repair “A fire? Ah, no; we love the querido damages. “If we used a stranger so, Inglez too well. Listen. My beloved what a memory he would have of our is- uncle had a stove, and all day long he sat land!”

over it and was careful, so careful, that Two burned-out craters form the island never a door or window should be open. of St. Michael's. The western and smaller Then one day he went out to take a little one, Sete Cidades (Seven Cities), is the fresh air, and it was cold. The rain came pride of the Michaelense heart, but inter- suddenly, too, and my poor uncle was esting to the stranger merely for its in- very wet, and came home to his bed and comparable view of sea and valley from died. Me de Deus! he who had lived the narrow knife-like edge of the summit; ninety-three good years till that stove the eastern crater, called Las Furnas, came! No, Senhor; never again a fire in contains the remarkable springs, first brought to notice by an American, which There is a palace in Ponta Delgada make St. Michael's famous.

with a stove-pipe projecting from one of It is up here in the Furnas, six hundred its windows, left as a monument to the feet above the sea and two thousand be- folly of an octogenarian countess, dead low the lower mountain-peaks-here these many years, who owed her untimely where the terrible Mouth of Hell vomits taking off to the stove she would have, and belches thunderous dangers day and though chimney there was none. night, and where little stone cottages The Azoreans themselves keep warm stand on ground that cracks and trembles, by taking off their shoes and stockings and burns and steams, that the real life of the wrapping up their heads. A swathed-up Michaelense peasantry is seen at its truest head is the panacea for all evils. and best-a life of primal simplicity, of a Despite superabundance of clothing and race still in its childhood, with the beauty wrappings, the people's cleanliness is above of other days about it, to which from reproach; that is to say, the personal earth's worn places the travel-stained will cleanliness. In other ways-ah, good San turn with eagerness.

José, there is reasonableness, as in all else. The hills of St. Michael's are a tempta- To wash the outside of a milk pitcher tion to the pedestrian which even his re- when only the inside is used, to try to spect for Azorean opinion does not help keep the kitchen floor clean when food him to overcome.

touches only the spotless tables, and the “Walk while the sun is up? Go out floor will have its nightly scrub, anyway, after sundown? Sleep with a window after the donkeys and pigs are in bed, and open, too, perhaps, eh? Ah, well, Senhor to clean windows that are washed every

my house!"

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

time it rains, are open in sunny weather, scribable colors that are not former bright and unseen at night-such things are in- colors faded, but hues that have always deed foolishness to the Michaelense, and been soft and pure, like milk opals. Rooma senseless waste of time that might be ful after roomful of the loose blossoms given to dancing.

and scattering petals come tumbling out The fine old order of inherited service and go dancing and Auttering down the still pertains-service that keeps its an- road with bare, noiseless feet, making the cient dignity of ministration, and the mas

walled and flower-topped street a narrow ter's guests are the master himself. For- lane of throbbing color against the redget and carry something up-stairs for dening sun. Imagine these dainty Azoyourself, and your host's servant meets rean maidens of the big eyes and tender you with damp reproach in his big eyes. mouths as factory laborers, workers in the

“Manoel does not like to see the senhor tobacco factory! Would they not shrivel a servant. Manoel is his servant. Ah, and wither, these flower things, in the but perhaps the senhor does not want gray misery of Western factory life? Manoel to touch his things ? Ah, paci- A capering, singing line of motley figencia!" and the sigh haunts you for days. ures, with fruit and flowers, dances down

The land is tilled in terraces, rising one the narrow pass. It is not a bacchanalian above the other to the mountain-tops. On revel, but a senhor's servants returning

a this, in late autumn, one may see a soli- with fruit from his quinta, or farm. The tary figure, perhaps, in dull-orange or fruit-laden baskets on their heads are somber-purple smock, flat against the trimmed with boughs and scented leaves, brown hillside, with lean oxen and primi

their arms

are full of hydrangeas and tive wooden plow, crossing and recrossing, lilies; and, because music lightens a load as the lonely first man may have toiled and shortens distance, some one in front against the world's brown desolation. strums on a viola, that island cross be

They 'thresh with a flat stone-boat tween mandolin and guitar; and because drawn by oxen around a smooth circle feet must answer when music calls, the cleared on a hilltop, where the wind may whole merry company comes dancing help, and where driver, man or woman, down the steep descent, a swirling, gladmay loom big and grand, as Millet loved crew left over from the world's to see the thresher.

young days. At the edge of the town the To winnow, a girl stands vestal-wise music stops; the men fall respectfully on the door-step, with sieve held high over- back to the rear; shawls and kerchiefs are head and grain pouring down to her feet, redrawn, to veil modestly figure and hair ; singing the one song she knows-a hymn the chaperon looks grave once more; and to the Virgin.

the nimble, bare feet slip into clogs, and To sift this same grain, an old woman, walk decorously through the streets. with the quiet mouth of age and the pa- At night the padre goes by to carry the tient eyes of labor, sits cross-legged in a host to the dying, but not in the solitary, corner of the cloistered courtyard all day ominous haste we are used to. Half the long, never once ceasing that skilful ro- village follows him, with chanting, bell, tary twist that earns her six and a half and book, bearing lighted tapers or quaint cents a day. But do not tell her how old lanterns, while all the while the much it is, please, for to her it is a hun- church bell rings out its desertion, and dred and twenty-five reis.

along the route lamps or candles are set There are "touches of things common” in doors and windows “to light o nosso even in the city below, in Ponta Delgada senhor on his way" — the god that in less itself. Pass down a street in the late day friendly lands must walk alone in the as the shadows lengthen, and a door, open- darkness. ing suddenly, pours out an army of girls You are lulled to sleep by feathery vioin lençoes and shawls, all of those inde- las in some favorite song and the curious

some

swish-swish of rhythmically dragged feet, reached from the New World by sailing and in the morning you walk to a funeral eastward in the path of the rising sun. chant as the villagers, with flower-hidden In them dwell a rare and gentle people coffin slung between them, - young girls with no history other than the story of carry the dead of their own sex, -troop their hills and sea, who have seen their after the padre through the high-walled mountains belch fire, and their rivers rise street to the cemetery, a wavering line of in Alood, and have uttered no protest, gentle colors, unmarred by black.

raised no wail, but recognized the voice In the gathering darkness weird forms of the Lord their God when it spoke, and dash past, bearers of fire, not stolen from planted their crops afresh. They Ait by heaven, but borrowed from a neighbor to you, sweet, gentle colors fluttering påst cook the evening meal. And once, as you for the last time like Aowers; now scarcely wander home in the evening, light from an more than loose petals floating down the open door makes you stop curiously, for moonlight of dreams with fragrance of within, bright against the night, kneeling the world's lost youth about them still, figures cluster about a bed where amid creeping into your heart, and making the candles an old woman is dying. A heaviness there when parting comes. dark girl in the darker background leans There is a word in the Portuguese lanover to support the eager figure on the guage, quite untranslatable, which Victor bed; other dim forms stand at the back. Hugo is said to have declared the most The kneeling ones pray with faces turned beautiful word in any language. Your to the bed. You may enter and join dictionary interprets it as "tender longthem, too, if you wish.

ing," "sweet regret," "ineffable yearn"Mother of God! it is nothing; new ing." No, it is a sob, a lump in the throat, lives come daily, and it is well for the old a pain, a memory, a grief. Ah, it is everyto die. Many candles are lighted, the thing, Ma de Deus! if one could expadre has been in, and Our Lady is surely plain! And they wring distressed little near, well pleased. A few aves help the hands till you laugh perforce at such childdying and count to your credit."

So they

ish intensity. Yes, you laugh now, but chatter between prayers in easy familiar- later, when the seas and the years have ity, robbing the sting of death with the intervened, when city noises deafen, and warmth of human fellowship.

factory smoke chokes, and brick walls They have been variously described, stifle, when street lamps spoil the night, these Azore Islands: the lost Atlantis, the and street traffic mars the day, your heavy home of the Hesperides, the Fortunate heart steals across the seas to the Islands Isles, and the Blessed Isles, of course. of Desire, and comes back to you again They are really the Islands of Desire, with saudades.

a

[graphic]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »