Puslapio vaizdai

mutual agreement of bride and groom, if, after years of happiness together, they wish to cement the tie more closely, the pair simply attend the holy communion together in church, and the marriage is then looked upon as indissoluble.

There is a touch of the old Roman

the multitudes of flies and bees attracted by the honey-pots, made us think of moving. The chief of our escort, not seeing, as he expected, the pleasure depicted on our envoy's face, told him that there was a still better room above, where he could receive his friends in quietude and make a perfect little sanctum. We looked around in some surprise, for no signs of a stair- "Mark-Antony-over-the-body-of-Cæsar" cusway were visible. One of the servants smiled upon us with a certain touch of contempt, and, jumping on the dais, seemed to crawl up the wall like a cat, disappearing through a hole, out of which he eventually looked down upon us, expecting the envoy to follow. Whether the Queen's representative thought it, in virtue of his position, beneath his dignity to go through these gymnastics, or whether he thought his days of cadet-like agility had passed away, he did not accept the invitation to explore further the wonders of the place, but returned to his camp, leaving this abode of Abyssinian hospitality to the original occupants.

Abyssinia is a country where, if marriage is a failure, it can be easily dissolved. There is absolutely no legal or holy tie. When a man is desirous of marrying a girl he directly applies to her parents. The maidens, like those in many European countries, are seldom consulted on the question; the lover arranging with the father or male relatives regarding her dower, which generally means a few beeves, sheep, or pieces of cloth, and sometimes gold. On the marriage day the bridegroom presents himself with his best man at the house of his future father-in-law. Much feasting goes on till the bride is carried off by her husband, generally on his shoulders, while the male relatives closely follow, making a canopy of their togas to keep off the rays of the sun, or perhaps the effects of the evil eye. Behind come a crowd of young girls and boys, methodically lifting their arms above their heads, and clapping their hands to the measured beating of tom-toms carried by men running along the flanks of the procession, who also blow long trumpets. The happy couple that I saw married outstripped their followers, with the exception of their best man, and at last reached the town green, where the groomsmen formed a screen with their cloaks round the happy pair, when the deferred courtship began. It is a custom for the supporters of the groom, generally six in number, to be present on this occasion, and for many days afterward to go round visiting the houses of the mutual friends of the married pair, extolling the beauties of the bride and the accomplishments of the groom, generally finishing up with a grotesque dance, which is much enjoyed by the enthusiastic neighbors, crowding round the open doorway. Though this marriage can be annulled according to

tom about Abyssinian burials. The corpse is brought from the house of death to some prominent clearing in the town, where the women relatives and hired mourners sit around in a circle, lowly chanting some weird dirge. The chief mourner in the case that I saw, the mother of a child, stood upright over the little body, which with exposed face lay on a stretcher. With loud lamentations she beat her breast, tore her hair, bewailing her loss; presently in softer tones she extolled the perfections of her lost one. Then she raved again, growing more and more frantic every moment, till her slave entwined her arms about her mistress and led her sorrowing away. After that the men, who had been standing all the time at a respectful distance, came in and bore the body of the child to the burial-place, the women returning to the house to prepare a feast for the male mourners' return.

We found that in many parts of the town of Adowa we were looked upon with the greatest horror by the womankind. In passing down a narrow street the women would keep close to the walls, turning their backs on us and whispering, "O you creatures with pink skins!" Throughout Abyssinia, cloth, colored pieces of handkerchiefs, and bars of rock-salt ten inches long, serve as the ordinary medium of barter. The only coin in the country is the MarieThérèse silver dollar. Twenty-four bars of salt go to the dollar, therefore I always avoided changing dollars, and for small wants got on well by trading empty beer-bottles, of which we were always adding to our supply, getting for each two chickens and a dozen eggs. Worcestershire-sauce bottles ran higher because of their glass stoppers. If I had felt inclined to settle in that country, I could have taken a chief's daughter in marriage, in spite of my green eyes and pink skin, on account of a large cut-glass cologne bottle, with a bulbous glass stopper, that I happened to have with me.

When King Johannes eventually came to meet us, for many hours before the advanceguard of his army appeared on the hills overlooking Adowa the forty royal speaking-drums were sounding his advent in measured beatings, which could be heard for miles. Throughout Africa the drum has been the long-distance telephone of the natives from time immemorial, for they literally speak with their drums

Mr. Glave, who has recently returned from the tributaries of the Upper Congo, tells remarkable stories of what this drumming can do in that part of the country.

In Abyssinia taxes are collected by the sound of the drum, and woe betide the tardy husbandman if his beeves, sheep, or bread are not forthcoming. "Slay-spare not!" roll the distant thunder of the king's drums, and the cavalry collectors swoop down on the village. The low, deep sound of the tom-tom has a weirdness about its tone which is highly effective, certainly to those not subjects of the King; and in the morning in the silent darkness the drums signaled the coming of Johannes. It was an exceedingly grateful sound to us, for we had been virtually prisoners, anxiously awaiting his arrival. The morning light was well on the hills as the advance-guard of the King descended into our valley. First came irregular cavalry, who scattered over the uneven ground without any particular order or formation. Then in a compact body came the Abuna and other church dignitaries, with a choir of boys in their front, chanting. At an interval of a few yards rode the King, dressed in a black silk gabardine, bareheaded and barefooted, mounted on a mule richly caparisoned with silver and red leather. A large magenta silk umbrella was held over his head by a page running by his side. At a respectful distance, to prevent the pressure of his unruly subjects, were footmen marching in Indian file at short intervals. The King's son rode beside his royal father, also mounted on a mule. The rear was brought up by the army, infantry and cavalry all huddled together, fighting their way to the front so that they could get a better view of the arrival at the palace. The palace-if the three huts which constitute the king's residence can be called one-is perched in a walled compound on one of the highest hills looking down on Adowa. The courtyard is entered by one narrow gateway, with a signal-tower above it. On each side of it two seven-pounders, presented by the Admiral to the King, had been placed the night before. At the last moment Ras Alula was struck with the brilliant idea of firing a salute in honor of his monarch's entrance into Adowa, so he hurriedly sent down to our camp for the necessary men and blank charges. When our scratch crew arrived the people were too excited to pay any attention to the order to stand clear of the guns, and with great difficulty six rounds at very varied intervals were got off, to the astonishment of the crowd, who rushed about after each round in great wonderment, some warriors riding up flourishing their spears at the mouth of the ordnance. What these intrepid warriors could not understand was the

sponging out of the guns after each discharge. They thought this part of the function unnecessary delay. It was lucky, after all, that Ras Alula sent for our men to work the pieces.

The camp-followers with the baggage now made their appearance in large numbers, and tents of all descriptions were soon pitched up hill and down dale, the beasts of burden making for the fields and eating up the grass like locusts. The inhabitants of Adowa had been brewing tedge and making bread for the last three weeks, but how they were to provide for this inroad of 7000 warriors and their animals was quite a puzzle. The King's hospitality toward us began that evening, much to the delight of our servants, for two oxen, several sheep, 500 loaves of bread, many jars of tedge and honey, and a few horns of red pepper were brought into camp by the royal slaves. This quantity became our daily allowance while we were guests of Adowa.

The interior of the royal residence had nothing to recommend it above other native interiors. The walls were of plain mud, and of stone unevenly fitted, and without any attempt at decorative art, and not even draped with cotton cloth, as some are. The earthen floor was bare, with the exception of a few well-worn pieces of Brussels carpet, leading from the entrance up to the foot of what served for a throne. There was no attempt at state; a few domestics lolled against the walls, and on the left side of the throne stood a priest, whose seeming occupation was to keep the flies from his own nose with the aid of a piece of cow's tail, but in reality, and in conjunction with a servant swaying a horse-hair switch, was keeping those little torments from feeding off the butter on the royal head; for his Majesty indulged in grease as well as his lowly subjects. The Negus squatted in the middle of his throne, his body totally covered from tip of nose downward, to show his dignity, pride, and exalted position, and the utter indifference he felt to everything and everybody else. And thus he remained till our numerous presents were brought in and placed at his feet, when he even condescended to smile his thanks, which lighted up his otherwise gloomy face and made it rather pleasant. It is lean and wan, broad just over the brows, which are perfectly arched; his large black eyes are deepset; his nose is slightly Jewish, but small; and his mouth and chin- for he now gradually dropped his toga, which fell slowly down. over his knees, discovering the order of Solomon in gold, attached to a chain around his neck, glittering on a gown of black silkshowed a weakness that belied the upper part of the face. His color is almost negro in its blackness. There appeared to be no one in

particular to keep the door or to lift the cloth as one entered or passed out. When we did the latter, after asking permission to depart, which the King cheerfully responded to by saying, "Echee," which means in plain English "All right,"-we had to move the cloth for ourselves. Once out of the royal presence, an unruly mob of soldiers and servants jostled us wherever we walked. Sometimes an indignant chief would lay about him with a stiff bamboo, clearing our way for a time, but the people were like flies; their appetite for curiosity seemed all the more sharpened, and they swarmed around in large numbers. In a corner of the compound I noticed that a large bower had been erected to cover with its leafy shade at least 500 men. This was where the warriors, chiefs, and courtiers of the King feasted. We were none of us invited during our stay to these entertainments, Johannes knowing full well that Europeans are not accustomed to the luxuries of an Abyssinian banquet; and for one, I was heartily glad we were not honored with this mark of his favor. The food was, as usual, warm raw flesh, with a sort of haggis of

intestines of the animal, flavored with ox-gall and red pepper, to make it more piquant.

The Abyssinian soldier is generally a frugal creature; on the war-path he has to put up with rations of jerked beef and a little flour, which he carries slung over his shoulders tied up in an end of his toga. A slab of stone will serve whereon to mix the flour with a little water, the quality of which he is not particular about. He will then make a paste; a fairly round stone is sought for and heated in the camp-fire, and is then used as a center around which the dough is built. This stone dumpling is then placed in hot ashes, and in a few moments is cooked sufficiently to serve as bread. Red pepper made into a paste with grease is carried in a small horn attached to his girdle. Of luxuries the Abyssinian soldiers have few. Smoking is not allowed, and the breaker of this rule is liable to lose his nose and lips in punishment. Each man carries his little pot of snuff in his belt. A short time after the coming of the King we returned to the coast, and our mission was ended.

Frederic Villiers.



HRISTIE was very small, even for his tender years, and he had red hair and the freckles that always go with it. As far back as Christie could remember he had sold newspapers on the streets. The experience he had gained in this line was a very extensive one, and had completely destroyed any ideas he might otherwise have had of a domestic life. For the last few summers he had given up the paper business, and blackened boots on a ferry-boat. He might have done very well at this, but he preferred to sit on the deck and listen to the three Italians who played popular airs on a harp and two violins. On the last few trips Christie would generally find that he had no money to pay for his supper and lodging, so he would get down to work and try to make enough to keep him until the following day.

He was a very improvident character, was Christie, but he had no one depending on him,

so it really did not make very much difference. It frequently happened that when night came on he found himself without any money at all. On these occasions he would spend the night at a shed on a pier in the East River.

Christie was a great favorite with the watchman at the pier, and the old man was always rather glad when the boy had had a bad day and was forced to spend the night in the shed, for Christie was very good company, and sat up until late at night telling the old man of his day's adventures, and making plans, and getting advice for the future. Young as he was, Christie had seen more of New York than most men of forty. He knew the Bowery and the East Side, every bit of it. As for the other side of the town, he did not care for it; his ambitions did not lie in that direction. He had already tired of New York, and wanted to get out in the world and travel from place to place. He was an enthusiastic admirer of the country and the water; and the little green parks of the metropolis, and even the waters of the bay, did not afford him sufficient of either. He was a

born rover, and heartily dreaded any kind of regular employment. So far as he could see, to travel with a circus would about suit his ideas. But his friend of the pier looked to something higher for his protégé, and constantly told him of the many hardships the circus people had to endure how they never slept, but worked all day and traveled at night. This view of the situation did not strike Christie's fancy at all. It was the music, the always changing crowd, and the out-of-door life that he wanted. Whenever he saw a circus billed he worked very hard and slept on the pier so that he might save enough money to be able to go just as often as possible. When the first day came for him to go he never did any work at all, but went over to the grounds early and talked to the tentmen and any one connected with the circus who would listen to him. The accounts they gave him were not very encouraging, and generally tallied with those of his friend on the pier; but Christie would not be convinced.

It was in the spring of the year, and Christie was not yet twelve years old, when he got a chance to satisfy his life's ambition. It was not a first-class circus, but it had two rings, and sometimes played as many as three days in one town. The duties assigned him were not very onerous, and his salary was correspondingly small. Before the performance began, he stood behind a wooden stand and helped a man to sell peanuts and lemonade. At eight o'clock they left the stand, and while the man carried around trays of lemonade Christie peddled peanuts among the audience.

For all of this Christie was paid only five dollars a week, but he was pursuing his chosen profession, and was much happier than he had ever been before. His great pleasure was in the morning, when he rode a donkey in the procession, and afterward stood outside the tent and was surrounded by a circle of small boys of the town, and was sincerely envied as an attaché of "Clyde's Monster Allied Shows." Marcus Clyde, the proprietor of the show, was perhaps no better or no worse than the proprietors of small circuses usually are. He had originally been a butcher, then a horsedealer, and on account of some bad debts had taken an interest in a small circus. From silent partner he had drifted into sole proprietor. Now he wore a high silk hat, and a diamond horseshoe in his shirt-front, and drove about the circus grounds in a buggy, which was always taken along for his personal use. He knew the name of every man and woman connected with the show, and frequently superintended the raising of the tents when the manager, Mr. Ross, was indisposed or drunk. He knew Christie well, and frequently honored him with a ride in his buggy. On these occasions the red

haired boy amused him by recounting some of his escapades in New York. He used to embellish them a good deal, for Christie wanted to appear a person of importance in the eyes of his employer, and had, indeed, strong hopes of some day becoming a junior partner of the Allied Shows.

The proprietor's liking for the boy gave Christie a certain importance in the eyes of the other employees, and he was generally regarded as the mascot of the company. But Christie did not care very much for most of the people. He lavished all the affection he had on one family called Boynton. There was Boynton, his wife, and their little girl Patricia. The man did a bare-back act, in which he was assisted by the little girl. The woman, who had been born a little above the circus business, confined herself to riding around the ring dressed in a habit and a high hat. She really rode very well, and the act was extremely popular with the masses.

The friendship between Christie and the family came about through the boy's devotion to the daughter Patricia, or "Patsy," as she was called by the circus people. She was very pretty, with her long yellow hair and blue eyes, and Christie no sooner saw her than he found himself very much in love with her. The first time he saw Patsy was when she was doing her act with her father in the ring. Dressed in a short, red silk dress, with red stockings and gold shoes, she was led out from the dressingtent. Her father took her on the horse with him. Then he stood up and held her out at arm's-length, with one of her feet resting on his hip, while the horse slowly galloped around the ring. The act ended with the little girl standing on his shoulders while the horse jumped some low hurdles. When, amid the shouts of the audience, Boynton led the girl from the ring, Christie followed her, and talked with her about her act, and how she had learned to do it, and what she generally thought about while she was doing it.

In a short time the two children became great friends, and the Boyntons almost adopted Christie as their own. The girls he had known in New York were very different from Patsy. So different was their language and the way they spoke it that the low English voice of this girl sounded almost like a different tongue to Christie. There was much time in which neither of them had anything to do, so the two children used to go on trips of exploration around the town in which the circus was stopping, or out into the country, where they played like other children who do not have to work for their living. As long as Christie was with her he did not think of the circus, and was only sorry when the time came for him to go back to the peanuts and the lemonade.

It does not take a girl of twelve very long to reciprocate such a strong passion as Christie's, so in a short time Patsy came to care for the boy as much as he did for her, and together they even planned to marry some day and have a circus of their own. He would have a buggy even better than Clyde's, and she would always drive by his side. Some day they would make enough money to retire, and together they would go back to her home in England, which she told Christie many times was the most beautiful place on earth.

It was in August that Boynton came to the manager one morning and said that his girl was too ill to appear. She had some sort of fever, and the doctor said she must not leave the hotel. Then he suggested that Christie might be allowed to try the act with him. The manager consented, and the horse was brought out into the ring, and Christie had his first rehearsal. It was not very difficult, and so long as he kept cool there was really very little danger of falling off. He was a little shaky at the afternoon performance, but at night he felt more at home, and when he had finished the act and ran out into the dressing-tent, with the applause of the crowd ringing in his ears, he was happier than he had been or ever hoped to be in his life. The next day Clyde got him a beautiful red suit of his own, with silver spangles all over it, and a white wig to cover his red hair, which, it was found, did not match with the red of his suit at all.

In a week Patsy was up again, had rejoined the circus, and was able to go on with her act. If it had been any one else than she, Christie would have very seriously objected to his return to the peanut-stand. But as long as it was Patsy, he was only too glad to see her out and able to start again on their long walks. But now that the ice had been broken, and Christie had been tried and not found wanting, Patsy often resigned her place in his favor, and he had many opportunities to wear the red tights and the white wig.

And yet Christie was not perfectly happy. He had seen so much of the Boyntons that he knew their affairs pretty well, and his New York training had not dulled his powers of taking in a situation. He knew that Mrs. Boynton was not altogether happy in her present position. She had left a comfortable home to run away with a circus performer, and had gradually drifted into the business herself. As time wore on, and the romance wore off, she put the blame of her position more and more on the man who had taken her from her home. As for Boynton, he worshiped his wife as much as men usually do who marry above them and are never allowed to forget it. He tried to keep her out of the ring and away from the public, but as long as

she had to spend her life traveling she insisted on doing a turn, as it gave her a certain amount of excitement and a little more money for the winter months, when they were idle.

Now Christie had noticed that the relations between the two had been very strained of late, and he thought he knew the cause. There was a man connected with the business part of the circus who had been very attentive to Mrs. Boynton, and Christie saw that the husband was desperately jealous. The woman had always borne such a good reputation in the company that no one attached any importance to the affair, regarding Mrs. Boynton as perhaps a little foolish, but nothing more. The flirtation had been going on for several weeks, when they came to a little one-night stand in Connecticut. Patsy and Christie had gone out for a walk after the afternoon performance, and had eaten their supper in the tent with the other employees on their return. When Christie went to his stand that night the man asked him if he had heard the news.

"What news?" said Christie.

"Only Mrs. Boynton has run off with the business manager, Ross. That's all."

Christie looked very serious, and ran his fingers through his red hair. He had never had any experience in domestic tragedies before, and as a friend of the family his duties were not at all apparent to him at first; but after a few minutes' hesitation he went to look for Boynton. He found him alone in one of the small tents. It was dark, but Christie could hear him sobbing like a child.

"Do you and Patsy do the turn to-night, Mr. Boynton ?" he said.

Boynton looked up suddenly, and then, seeing who it was, said:

"Yes, Christie; if I never do it again."

Christie stood for a moment in the doorway. He saw the man who had been as good as a father to him with his head buried in his hands and shaking from head to foot like a leaf trembling in the wind.


Clyde would hardly expect it," he blurted out; "and really, Mr. Boynton, I 'm afraid you 're not fit."

"Don't you worry, Christie," said Boynton; "I'll be steady enough when the time comes."

But Christie did not think so. He saw the danger of accident or even death for the girl. He started off in pursuit of Patsy. He found her just as she was going into the women's dressing-tent. He recognized her by her long white ulster, and a big hat that shaded her pretty, delicate face. He called to her, and when he came up he saw that she knew nothing of what had happened.

[ocr errors]

Patsy," he said, "I'd like very much to do the turn to-night.”

« AnkstesnisTęsti »