« AnkstesnisTęsti »
that something, not being English, is, therefore, of little worth, I heard him say, "Very small"; and the tall lady answered, "Very." But I got sympathy from the little old woman in a white night-cap, who swept the church out one morning when I was drawing there, and took much pains to spare me the dust. At first she pretended to be modest, and spoke of the church as good enough for the country, but not to compare with the fine city ones, "where the altars are all glowing with flowers, and the Madonnas have such splendid clothes!" But when she found I really thought it beautiful, she grew quite confidential, put her rosy, wizened face close to mine, and told me how very old it was, how they were not rich enough to do all that is needed, at once, but each year they do something to repair it," and it goes on growing nobler." Such a phrase for her to use! I think I must have been in a clairvoyant state, since I understood her, speaking her strange patois, without any teeth. She was a dear little thing-a picture, in her cap and blue dress, with her pink cheeks, and her broom. I have not ceased to regret that I did not have a sou or two to give her a little pleasure; for they are all ready to accept sous, whether they ask for them or not. Signs by the road-side say that "Begging is forbidden in this department"; but they get the better of that-they "distinguish." One
(WILLIAM P. W. DANA.)
old man wanders up and down, stopping before every woman he meets, exclaiming: "Beautiful lady! eighty-six years!" Boys, in a friendly tone of equality, suggest that it would be well for them to have a little cake, and the man who officially gathers up the ill-smelling things from off the beach will stop beside you and recount that fact, and show you his unsavory trophies, and wait. I never heard a more expressive sound than his grunt, when he saw we should give him nothing; it expressed all his detestation of foreign avarice.
When we first arrived we were much impressed with the politeness of the children; all the little blue blouses wished us goodday in such pretty ways; but the "one sou!" which often jumped out with its little cloven foot, in spite of fear of the law, spoiled the pleasure. I was actually startled by the fierce demand for sous made by boys running after the diligence; they were communists in small, already.
It is hard to describe the attractiveness of the bathing scene, so much of it lies in the beauty of the little bay. The beach is very clean, no ugly, ill-smelling rolls of sea-weed about; the green water comes softly inpure and sparkling. The beach shelves very rapidly, and the spectators sit as if at a show, one above another, comfortably stretched on the clean pebbles, seeing all without trouble. Here, shaded under para
sols of every hue from white to red, many spend hours watching their fellow-creatures splashing in the water, commenting on their neighbors, and examining new-comers. There are the mingled pleasures of beautiful scenery, delicious air, personal ease, the satisfaction of seeing others appear ridiculous while you are quietly respectable, and full store of material for gossip, which, of course, was freely used, though what we heard was of the mildest and most Christian kind.
| pudgy, white-gloved hand. But most confounding sight to Saxon eyes is the heavy black mustache, who owns the smallest poodle in the town and leads him by a red ribbon, and is now to be seen clinging convulsively to the bathing-man, whose hand is under his chin, as he patiently tries to teach him to swim. The contortions of those unwise enough to try the torture of walking barefoot on the shingle are irresistible. I defy the best heart not to laugh when a bearded young Englishman gives in, and creeps up on hands and feet; or a dignified gentleman, of mature age, submits to be brought up pickaback by one of the bathing-men. These men live in the water the summer through, yet one has survived to reach his seventieth year, and be gay still. They keep up a constant chatter, and feel they fill a place in the world's eye. So they shout to the far-off swimmers, and clap for a good dive, and encourage all without ceasing.
Their health is carefully looked after by the inspector of the baths; they are not allowed to go in for two hours after eating, and drink no eau de vie, but " cosy " themselves with warm milk before going to bed. Two of them bear the singular name of Zéphire, and one wonders how such a bit of classicality drifted up to this northern
Through this chattering crowd, whiterobed figures with hideous head-dresses come stealing down, absolutely delightful in oddities of figure and movement, especially when the wind seizes them. The bathingmen wait for them at the water's edge, take off these white wrappers, and henceforth manage them like dolls or babies, only practiced swimmers being allowed to go outside the two boats anchored thirty or forty feet from shore. One has a curious interest in recognizing, in his striped red-and-white tights, the man who lives over the haberdasher's shop, opposite the hotel, and feels pleased to see how well he dives. Then how surprising to see what an excellent swimmer is the fat woman with a hooked nose, who ordinarily walks so heavily on terra firma, clad in a red dress and red-soled shoes, and bearing a red parasol in her
shore. When the waves are high, the few bathers are forced to have a rope around their waists, or be held by their hands in the surf; and we saw a most amusing struggle between a resentful Englishman and the bathing-men asserting their authority. They conquered, and he walked like a criminal into the water. I have no doubt he swears, to this day, whenever he thinks of it.
Among the pleasures of the beach, and one not to be despised, is that of throwing stones. It was droll to see that it had its hours, as well as the bathing-after breakfast and after dinner every one on the beach threw stones. Some filled holes, some tried with a second to hit a first before it fell, some contented themselves with hitting the sea, but the same devotion moved them all; and soon the hidden necessity seized you, too, and you became one of the band.
Next to this quarter of bathing, and chatting, and leisure comes that of the fishingboats, with all their attendant quaintnesses. Here it is all work, but what you may call gentle work, with plenty of talk and rest between whiles. No one hurries. There is no anchorage, and each time the boats return they are pulled up the beach by means of whining capstans, there to lie safely till they are slid down again with
much commotion for the next day's trip. The pulling up is always an affair worth watching. The spokes of the capstan are pushed slowly around by men and women. The thing creaks and moans, and the boat creeps up the beach to the dry line. It must be very hard work, and some enlightened destroyer of the picturesque will, no doubt, soon teach them better ways.
In the spring the fleet sails to the North Sea for herring, and in the winter all the men go off to the great ports, even as far as Hamburg, to ship for the cod fisheries. These are times of dismal anxiety for the women. The Society for Mutual Aid has a thatched boat on the beach, nicely fitted up with seats inside, and here the wives of the captains sit waiting when the fleet is reported near, to give warning to the other women. Many a tale of loss do they have to hear. Even in midsummer, we saw before us a scene of watching indicative of distress. What were they waiting for? Was the boat to bring in food to hungry children, or what had happened? But before we could reach them they were gone.
The summer is the men's holiday season. Then they make but short trips each day, and spend the rest of the time in weaving
and repairing nets and mending their boats and tackle. Each boat has one hundred and twenty nets. One hunchbacked old man was always at work on them on the beach, and there he had done the same for thirty years. Behind this lively scene, next to the road, was an irregular line of old
FROM FISHING-LOW TIDE. (FROM PAINTING BY A. FEYEN-PERRIN, BY PERMISSION OF A. BRAUN & CO.)
boats, which are one of the marked charac-
coasts. They are roofed with mossy thatch, out of which grow grass and flowers in which there was always busy life of birds, even grass sparrows' nests, I think. These boats are used as store-houses for nets and tackle. St. Sauveur is the patron of fishermen, and on his fête there was a grand service in the church, music by the dreadful village band, and a quête by the demoiselles Offenbach. It was curious to see such a name posted on the church door as taking a part. Perhaps they kept off, by such pious offices, the danger from their father's evil eye. Every one in Etretat believed he had it, on account of the cold and sinister expression of his large blue eyes. After the service, the sailors carried to every house the cakes which had been blessed by the priests. These were dressed with sugar lambs and birds, and there was a tall canopy of flowers over them. I think the sailors got a good deal of money, at least from foreigners. The French are decidedly careful of their small change. The men grew very cheerful with the healths they drank, and became quite intimate and complimentary. After this, there was an inspection of the custom-house corps, consisting of six men, and a procession of everybody, preceded by the town band, each instrument of which went independently through the music. We had still greater gayeties when Monsieur Casimir Perier was made deputy, and there were illuminations, and the band from Fécamp came over to assist Etretat's in playing the Marseillaise in his garden. It seemed a very innocent thing to do, yet how little while ago it would have been sedition! We were at Etretat ten weeks, and during that time there were six gay holidays when nobody would do any work. One of them was the day of "La Première Communion," when the procession of boys and girls in white went singing up the hill at the edge of the sea to the chapel at the top, there to receive their special blessing.
In the summer the women appear to be harder worked than the men; they not only wash, but they help pull up the boats and mend the nets. They have possession of one end of the beach, not only to cover great spaces with white things drying, but, curious to see, to wash there. As the tide falls they appear from the town, carrying huge bundles on their shoulders and spades in their hands. They go to the very edge of the sea and there dig their impromptu wash-tubs, which fill at once with sweet
water-the last trickling, possibly, of the stream which long ago flowed out of the valley. One would say the natives of the place never sleep at all in summer. Both fishermen and washerwomen keep the hours of the tide, and one can hear the squeaking of the capstans, and see the glimmer of lanterns, at any time of night the sea demands. One of the women told me they were often too tired to eat, but would fall asleep for two or three hours till they woke with a start to be off to the beach again. The weights of wet linen they carry are enormous.
It is a pity they have given up their old costume; a primitive white nightcap is the nearest approach they have. About mourning they are very punctilious. I met a funeral procession one day which exceeded in gloom anything I had ever The women were shrouded in long black cloaks with hoods, and walked in close lines; they seemed to darken every face as they passed. I wondered if, in Japan (is it ?), a procession clothed in green would have the same effect, or one in white in China. The women here grow old early, for their hard work tells, but some of the faces were very attractive with good-nature and intelligence. The artist of our party, painting among the drying fields of the beach, had a talk with one of them about the education of her son, who wished to learn Greek and Latin, and her statement of reasons why English or German would be better for him was entirely to the point. What a place in which to hear the pros and cons of the new education!
In contrast to the beach, the falaise is very solitary, at least to some people. But those who enjoy sea and sky, and wild flowers nestling in the grass, and sweeping gulls, and soft, distant sounds of country life. find the high cliff-edges full of companionship. Those who have the key, who be lieve there is some kinship in all life, and some purpose, too, can recall many an hour whose sweet serenity came from a sense of finest sympathy with dumb and what we call inanimate nature. The fine air of the downs is absolutely indescribable.
I use the word downs, yet I think that word is properly applied only to large tracts. of high, uncultivated, turfy ground; whereas here such ground is limited to a strip sometimes a quarter of a mile wide, sometimes much less, along the cliffs, and to patches on the valley-sides where the gorse and broom and scrub-oak have too strong a hold to be rooted out. The rest of the