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plates. When at last, on the 12th of September, we thundered away along the fine roads, the poppies were gone and yellow flowers had taken their places. French women do not wear yellow till they have left forty behind them. Do they take the idea from Mother Nature's treatment of the years as they grow old? The fields were dark; the farmers were plowing for their autumn crops with very clumsy machines. Everywhere were grouped fine stacks of
grain with crosses on the peaks, for this part of Normandy is very clerical.
The working horses are usually white, large, heavy, and round; they looked in good condition and content, whereas the few dark ones were wretchedly thin and weary-looking. The cows are enormous square-framed creatures, which seemed kind, but not as interesting as are their pretty sisters not so far off in Jersey, or those most attractive dark bits of cows in Brit
tany. They are always tethered in these unfenced fields, and their aspect, when fortune puts them into a clover patch, is something good to see. They told us Normandy is exquisite in, spring-time, quite covered with apple-blossoms. The fruit is not handsome, and is used chiefly to make the famous Norman cider, which there is sometimes called beer. In the warm weather we found it a most healthful and pleasant drink, but so soon as the days grew cool it began to set our teeth on edge. Normandy is a poor country for fruit, but along the Loire and the southern bank of the Seine it is delicious. I am not quite sure it would not be a summer well spent to haunt those regions while the fruits were ripening, one after another, and culminate in a feast of Reine Claudes, bursting with golden juice. On this last drive we passed the one costume we saw in all those weeks, and
TO MY DOG "BLANCO."
My dear, dumb friend, low lying there,
I look into your great brown eyes, Where love and loyal homage shine, And wonder where the difference lies Between your soul and mine!
For all of good that I have found
I scan the whole broad earth around For that one heart which, leal and true, Bears friendship without end or bound, And find the prize in you.
sighed to think how all the world is dressed in the same gowns. If those Wallachians and Roumanians had but worn their extraordinarily complicated costumes, and the washerwomen, and the Spaniards, and the Dutch maids theirs, what a scene would Etretat have been !
There are not many fine chateaux in this part of France, and we noticed a curious point of difference between the few there are and the country-houses of England, which are placed as far from the public road and hidden from the world's eye as much as possible. Here, on the contrary, the house was always near the boundary, and openings were left in walls and hedges through which to see the world go by. The French cannot be tormented by coveting their neighbors' land, since they are so willing to keep the dividing line in sight.
I trust you as I trust the stars; Nor cruel loss, nor scoff of pride, Nor beggary, nor dungeon-bars, Can move you from my side!
As patient under injury
More playful than a frolic boy,
I clasp your head upon my breast-
Ah, Blanco! did I worship God
Did I sit fondly at His feet,
As you, dear Blanco, sit at mine,
AN ice-yacht flits about like a swallow, skimming over the river with the speed and grace of a bird. She is better than a bird, for she takes you along in her flight and gives you the triumph of the wing, as she sweeps, and swings, and trembles on through space. Mount this wayward flyer as she is launched upon the wind. Your course is down the Hudson from Poughkeepsie, and, as your sail begins at a moderate speed, you can observe the scene.
| Point-a high head of rock frowzy with bare trees. On the left are the cuts and tunnels of the railroad and the high cliffs, hung with gleaming icicles; and a train comes thundering into the wintry silence and veils the bluffs with steam and smoke. Farther on are the docks and houses at Milton nestled under the bank, and the Barnegat hills opposite covered with an olive-black forest of arbor-vitæ. On the right, the deep gorge of Marlborough veils its winter sculpture with golden willows, and the bold headlands of Hampton roll along the shore.
The old river is not now in its human, sympathetic mood, when it hums with talk and song, and its banks are bright with Opposite these is the village of New Hamlawns and flowers. It is a long, narrow, burgh. The valley expands still farther on level valley of ice, all gray between its into the broad bay of Newburgh, lying at dark brown headlands. The hills are sober the base of the Highlands. It is a long, in a fur of bare trees, and the fields are narrow stretch of cold and desolation. And bald and white with snow. As you look yet, in gliding about, you get glimpses here eighteen miles down the narrow valley, it and there of cheerful, active life. You may seems walled in by high headlands marking peep into fishermen's huts on the shore, a long perspective, down to where the where men are netting; or at a deserted mill Highlands close about it with a wall of tottering back under the rocks, while its perhoary mountains. The pure, keen air gives ennial brook still sings and sparkles down even the distant scenes the clearness of a the cliffs, now white with icicles and beds of miniature. Here at the start are the shores frost-flowers. Your mind may linger about of Poughkeepsie, with smoking furnaces, the farm-houses on the hills, where warmth deserted docks, and sloops bound in the and cheer fight off the winter cold and the ice. Two miles below, on the right, is Blue biting breeze. It begins to blow more, and
you find yourself flitting about from village to village with a quick and pleasant motion. Teams crossing at the ferries shy at you and hasten their pace. Gangs of men are working at the ice-harvest; fishermen are hauling their nets up through the ice or skating hastily toward little signals that respond to a "bite"; foot-passengers are gingerly picking their way on the slippery surface; groups of men and boys dot the ice with their black figures and reflect the sunbeams from their skates, and more retiring couples swing along, hand in hand, in the little bays and coves. These bits of life and color are doubly welcome in the desert of winter, cold, clear, and stern. The stillness of death is broken only by the loud cracking of the ice-mutterings of the old river making a continual roar. You hear many sudden snaps, and the clear ring of thin sheets of ice falling in the "windrows"; then an angry crash from ice along the shore. The deepest tones are the loud, musical notes of a great crack that starts under your very feet and runs off to the bluffs.
All the large cracks run across the river. The lateral expansion finds room by crowding the ice upon the shores; but as the expansion up and down the river is prevented by bays and points, the ice buckles up in ridges across the river. Sometimes the bend goes downward and forms a hollow filled with water, until one side of the ice, dropping below the other, is caught by the tide, and broken off, and carried away.
Such cracks often remain open all winter, for the water, boiling up from under the ice, is not easily frozen. In other cases, the bend goes upward and raises a ridge or bridge, sometimes several feet high; this does not interfere with travel until one-half drops down and makes a step or fault. The river is divided into long lanes and fields of smooth ice by windrows crossing in every direction. In some regions the windrows are so numerous as to prevent sailing; in others, large expanses offer good ice for long distances. When the first ice formed, it was so thin that it broke loose from the shores in large cakes or "fields"; these, in floating against one another, fractured the edges, turned them upward, and made ridges of broken ice, some of which are thin, clear sheets standing at every angle and flashing like mirrors. The yacht glides about in these fields and lanes, avoids the old mounds and windrows of snow-ice, and now and then dashes through a thin windrow, while the scales rattle and gleam like crashing glass.
All at once, you seem to be running straight into a hole of still, open water; in an instant you are skimming over the glassy surface of new ice. As you look down, you see muddy water floating under you in small, boiling currents like little clouds. The ice in places is quite full of bubbles; those near the surface are all white with delicate frost-work such as you have
FISHING THROUGH THE ICE.
seen on window-panes: those farther below, being protected from the cold, are as clear as cut-glass. Here and there is a catacomb filled with the skeletons of grass and ferns torn from the mountain brooks. The ice is all faintly veined and marbled, and tinted with reflections of the heavens. It seems like a picture of a dim twilight sky, with crystals for the stars. In other places it is a record of Nature in a warm and lenient hour, when she modeled in the ice little landscapes with gorge, rivulet, and bluff, and decked them with white flowers; but Old Winter caught the ripples playing with the wind and petrified them. There are great lumps of light, as it were, where blocks of ice lie in the sun; mosaics of frost-flowers, and Nature's geometry of crystals; and beautiful fractures, some of them composed of flat spiral strands like the threads of a screw, which gleam in the sunshine like a rope of rainbows. Thus the scene and the experience of ice-yachting are full of the weird and the magical. The gray desert of winter gleams with vivid colors; the silence of death is broken by roars as of sharp agony; you move airily over the surface of the deep; you lie still as the dead, and yet you glide about with the unearthly ease and freedom of a spirit. And your eagerness of expectation matches the keenness of the air and the brightness of the sunbeams on the winter scene.
You go on down the river now with a good wind on the beam. The playful breeze freshens in flaws, as if trying to escape you; but still you follow its wayward motions: you start when it starts, flit over the ice with its own speed, turn and glide with the lightness and the grace of its own whirling dance. The ice-yachts darting about look like white-winged swallows skimming over the ice: as they cross and recross your course, you hope that every captain knows his business and will avoid collisions. The ice-yachts have anticipated your wish, and flown away to various points of the horizon while your thought drew its slow length along. The ice seems to be running under you with great speed, and you sometimes feel that you might easily drop off the open, spiderlike frame of the yacht. By such rapid motion, the bubbles, crystals, and lines of the ice are all woven into a silky web of prismatic hues. You distinguish only the cracks that run with the course; and, when they deviate from it, they seem to jump from side to side without connecting angles or curves. The mounds and the windrows seem to come
up at you suddenly, and dodge past. You begin to hold on to the hand-rail, and lie close down in the box. If you are steering, you feel that your hand is the hand of fate; and the keen excitement nerves you to extraordinary alertness. The breeze sings in the rigging; the runners hum on the ice with a crunching sound, and a slight ringing and crackling; and a little spurt of crushed ice flies up behind each runner and flashes like a spray of gems. The yacht seems more and more a thing of the air,-her motions are so fitful, wayward, and sudden. The speed with which you approach a distant scene makes it grow distinct while you wink with wonder. Things grow larger, as if under the illusions of magic; you feel the perspective almost as a sensation. You turn toward a brown patch of woods; it quickly assumes the form of headlands; these are pushed apart, and a gorge appears between them; while you stare, a stream starts down the rocks, behind the trees; a mill suddenly grows up; the rocks are now all coated with ice; statues of winter's sculpture are modeled before your eyes, and decked with flashing crystals, just as you turn away to some other point of the horizon. So you seem to be continually arriving at distant places.
A regatta is to be sailed over this course, and you arrive in time to see the start. The yachts all stand in a row, head to the wind. At the word, the first in the line swings stern around till her sails fill; she moves off at once, and the crew jump aboard,-one man standing or lying on the windward runner-plank and holding on to the shrouds, and the helmsman and another man lying in the box. Then the other yachts successively swing around; and, in a moment, the whole fleet is under way, gliding in zigzag courses among the windrows and mounds. They all diminish in apparent size with astonishing rapidity; they seem actually to contract in a moment to a mere white speck, skimming about the river miles away. You join the crowd of men and boys stamping and slapping to keep warm; you exchange a few words with a friend, and when you turn around again, behold the yachts sweeping down upon you! They grow as they come, flying at you with a wayward, erratic course, and you feel the wonder of embodied speed. The ten-mile race of the ice-yachts is lost and won in as many minutes. But for those who sailed it, these minutes were filled with more excitement than is found in many a long life-time.
Embark again and return up the river.