Puslapio vaizdai

called the Plestor, or playing-place, The study is shown, a great room where, writes Gilbert White, there with broad windows on the garden at stood "in old times, a vast oak, with a the rear and a glimpse of wooded hills short squat body, and huge horizontal -a room that is cluttered with his arms extending almost to the extremity relics. It is here that Gilbert White of the area. This venerable tree,” he composed his letters. My great parcontinues, "surrounded with stone lor," he wrote once to his sister, "turns steps, and seats above them, was the out a fine warm winter room, and delight of old and young, and a place affords a pleasant equal warmth. In of much resort in summer evenings; blustering weather the chimney smokes where the former sat in grave debate, a little till the shaft becomes hot. The while the latter frolicked and danced be chief fault that I find," he continues, fore them. Long might it have stood, “is the strong echo, which, when many had not the amazing tempest in 1703 people are talking, makes confusion to overturned it at once." Under the my poor dull ears." There is still an succeeding sycamore Gilbert White echo in the room—an echo of its long must himself have sat through the silence through more than a hundred English twilights, a silent sort of man, years. reserved among his neighbors, with his The keeping of this stiff room is the mind running on longer paths.

fee, as it were, that the present owners Almost adjoining the Plestor is the pay the public for living in a celebrated Wakes. It is rather a jumbled build- house. It is held inviolate to satisfy ing of unsoftened outline as seen from tourist curiosity, and the past is its the street, with upstart chimneys and only life. These houses of the great newer roofs that rise too proudly above linger on in sacred widowhood and pay the older part, as if they followed a eternally a cold devotion to the dead. changing fashion down from London. At most now and then a housemaid But ivy runs across the front to shield comes in to dust, but I think she tipits pretense.

toes among the bric-à-brac and is And now our landlord was of service. quite chilled by a ghostly presence. He had suggested that we knock boldly And really it must be rather horrid to and announce ourselves as pilgrims live within four walls where a room is from overseas. A solemn footman kept as a perpetual graveyard of contook our names and disappeared—very secration, where the coffin, as it were, good names in their way, as Alfred and the flowers of ritual lie out exJingle remarked to Mr. Tupman at the posed. It is a museum, a funeral, Rochester ball—“capital names for a what you will, exempt from present small party, but won't make an impres- life, and, until a pilgrim taps, its doors sion in public assemblies.” The foot- are shut upon the tomb. White's man, however, came back presently chair is shown, and no doubt a ribbon with word that we were welcome. And bars its use; and I seem to remember as I scraped my boots, I scraped my his ink-pot and his pens. There was a memory also for any stray facts in the stuffy feeling in the place, as if vases, life of Gilbert White, any phrases from out of fashion and undervalued in the his book, that would keep me from the more human rooms, had been set here shame of ignorance.

in a kind of discard under pretense of

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antiquity, as we ourselves tote them to Latin, and issues to the hanger—"a the attic whenever style has changed vast hill of chalk, rising three hundred its whim. Gilbert White alive would feet above the village.

The have tossed up the window and let the covert of this eminence is altogether wind blow in.

beech, the most lovely of all forest The house itself shows evidence of trees.” generous remodeling and enlargement. To the right of the lawn is an inThe entrance-hall seems once to have closure of flowers and vegetables, and been the sitting-room. The low-ceiled I may have seen the very patch of mud kitchen, I think, was once the dining where the tortoise wallowed in hot room. I recall a monk's chair that weather. Altogether it is such a spot folded to a table, a cradle that was as one seldom finds except in England, turned to be a nursery for sprouting tightly hidden from the village and yet flowers, a bed that fell curiously from open to the hills. Like Fabre's patch a cabinet in the wall with swinging- of stone and thistle and Burroughs's doors. But we went no farther among stretch of Catskills, it is an appropriate the rooms, and I would have preferred laboratory of living nature. to turn my back upon the past and to The gardener had now earned his range in the parts of present use and half-crown. He wavered a bit whether see how a present generation lives. he should not, as one friendly servant

The doorman, having reaped his to another, consign us to the stableman scornful profit, now consigned us to the for continuing fee, but finally released gardener. The Wakes is crowded us directly to the street. The church against the village street, but at the with its graveyard was still to be seen, rear there are several acres of fine lawn a weathered building of worn tablets, overhung by a wooded hill. I asked with a great yew near by. In almost the gardener if this wood was the every English graveyard there is a yew, hanger mentioned in the history, a and I have read, but know not the single fact that lodged with me, and truth, that an early king, finding a thereby gained great credit for erudi- shortage of wood suitable for bows, tion. A brick path leads across the ordered that a yew be planted in every lawn, and we were told that Gilbert churchyard of the kingdom against the White laid the path himself and walked fear of a French invasion. And thus there in muddy weather. It ascends a measure of national defense by a to the left through a scanty grove of kind of irony has made the yew a tree ripe old trees, each labeled with its of mourning.

The Wooing of Princess Maheen



HIS is the story of Princess never a mother to bother her, she grew
Maheen and her wooing, and if up as hardy as the heather, and the

I had never had grandfathers, I bare feet of her ran up the rocks as would n't be telling it now.

light as the feet of a fawn. 'T was the 'T was in the good old days before rain that washed her, and the sun that rent was invented by the devil-days dried her, and the wind came out of the that would come again if God were west to blow through the hair of her good, but they never will. Those were head. the times when we had kings in the No wonder that lovers came on the island. Every mountain had a castle, four winds of heaven when she was with a king sitting in it, on the top. old enough, and that was n't very old And what were they sitting on, are -princes from the north and the south ye asking? 'T was not a bench or a country, from the east and the west stool, my laddie-buck. Rush-bottom and the places in between, kings, too, chairs were none too good for those that had lost their queens and were kings.

tired of sleeping alone. Grand men Days to be proud of, with kings were they, drinkers and fighters, grand everywhere, little kings on little moun- singers with the bagpipes and the harp. tains, middling-sized kings on mid- Angus Beg drank with them, fought dling-sized mountains, big kings on with them, sang with them; but when big mountains; and in all the four they told him their errand, his answer counties there was never a king like was to fetch them a clout along the Angus Beg.

side of the head. Not a king in the island could drink “Till Ireland grows a hill higher than him down or knock him down, for all this one,” he roared louder than a wahe had no queen to pray for him. His terfall, “there 's not a prince fit to queen-God rest her soul, and may be mated to the Princess Maheen.” she go through purgatory with her The pride of him! And all on acslippers on!-went out of the world count of his mountain. But the when she brought into it the Princess princes kept coming, and going back Maheen.

empty-armed of what they were after, Sucking a piece of pig was what the and the fame of King Angus and his little Princess Maheen was brought beautiful daughter spread over the up on. She had stockings for week- broad and the narrow seas. days as well as Sundays, and she kicked To Scotland it went, and a Scottish them off whenever she could. With prince came over the water. To England it went, and an English prince but a dangerous fighter, too, as King came over, too. To France it went, Angus thought as he looked at him, and brought a prince from that foreign because of the lightness of his feet. country.

There the three princes sit, ye underWhat should such princes be doing stand, drinking and singing and bragon Irish soil? Faith, the English are ging of their hills and the number of always where they are n't wanted. tea-cups they have at home, and the The Scotch might have been a grand Princess Maheen, mind ye, standing people if they had n't been ruined by among them, looking from one to the worshiping a heathen God. As for other like a collie pup that has never the French, 't is my opinion that when known strap or leash. St. Patrick drove the snakes out of "Ye three have I chosen from out Ireland 't was to France he sent them, the world,” cries Angus, slapping his and the Frenchmen made them into hand on the table, “and 't is for the soup.

Princess Maheen to choose among ye But come they did, and King Angus three. 'T is not your hills nor your welcomed the three of them, got out tea-cups she 'll be after. The prince the pipes and the bowl, and spat on his she picks must be for himself alone. hands to be ready when the fighting Which one is it?" he says, and he should begin. The foreign princes looks at his daughter. spat on their hands, and the four of "Sure," says she, “I 've only met them began drinking and singing, and them. Give me time to make up my never was heard such a sound since mind." the world began,Scotch, English, “Take your time, my daughter, French, Irish,-like wild dogs, it and the one that gets you is going to sounded, yelping at the moon. 'T was get a broken head.” a pity the foreign princes did n't kill He doubles his fist, the princes start one another entirely, leaving their toward him, and out steps the Princess bodies for the birds and their bones to Maheen and goes down the hill. bleach in the sun, for devil a one of hem was worthy to touch Pat in the

$2 ditch on the seat of his breeches, as 'If I marry the Scotchman," she King Angus could have seen with half thinks, "it will be like confession withan eye if he had n't been blinded by out absolution. If I marry the Engpride.

lishman, he will keep me awake with 'T was the foreignness of them that his snores. If I marry the Frenchman, touched him, the Scotchman with his I must get a cage for him or have him serious face, as if he had made the hop on the end of a silk string. Yet world himself and was sorry he'd done marry one of them I must or die a it; the Englishman, dull as a bullock, maid." but with wit enough, I'm thinking, to What a maid was the princess had keep a stone hidden in his hand. The no idea of, and love in her mind was Frenchman could scratch his ear with only the breath of a windy word. his toe-nail if he'd wanted to, and Down the hill she goes, thinking of when he sang, you 'd have thought a her foreign wooers, and the more she bird was going to hop on your thumb; thinks of them, the less she thinks of them. Never had she been so far Something with two arms and two away from the castle, and a fear in her legs like yourself, and a head like the heart that she might never find her rest of us. 'Tis Colin, the fisherman, way back again struggled with a hope frying fish on the black rocks. that she never would.

When she sees the flaming sun-gold The sun is shining, and from a rock of the hair of him and the sea-blue of she can see a river and a town with his eyes, only she was too far away bridges, all looking as if it were built to see the color of his eyes; I 'm by children with little stones. Then telling ye that for your private inforinto the wood, snuffing the smell of it. mation, but his hair she could see and It's wet, and off come shoes and stock his broad shoulders bending over the ings. It's warm, and the kerchief is fry-pan,—when the princess sees this, loosened at her

at her neck. Achone! I 'm asking, did she run back to the The bare, brown feet of her, the castle? She did not. When a maid breasts ye could cover with half a runs away from a man, unless she hand! The Irish earth comes up to

knows he sees her running, you can touch her feet and help her with the find the devil dipping his tail in holy work of walking. The Irish sun comes water. down to touch the black shadows of Down the stairs she goes. They 're her hair. Are ye thinking the green giants' stairs, I was telling ye, so it 's people would let a cobweb get into her sit and leap with her, and lucky for her gray Irish eyes?

she's had practice leaping on her Sure, a league's a mile when you 're father's hill. Her big toe kicks a going from them you do not love and pebble, and down it rattles ahead of never can love. Out of the woods goes her, and at the sound of the stone the princess and on to the springy on the rocks Colin looks up from his heather, where the winds do be chasing pan. There was a sight for a man themselves day and night. To the who'd seen nothing but fish for a black rocks she comes, the black fortnight! stairs made by the giants before there "The top of the morning to ye!" says were even kings in the island or God Colin. "Sure, the fish are leaping in Almighty had sent his only begotten the pan for joy at seeing ye,” and true Son to establish the one true church it was, for the guts were scarce out of and save the world from pleasant sin. them. "As for myself,” says he,

At the top of the black rocks the "if I had n't swallowed the heart of princess stands and looks down at the me quick at the sight of ye, it would sea, breathing like a giant, and a be a dead man talking to you now." shiver runs through her at the sight "And who may yourself be?" asks of that living creature sending its long the princess. blue arms in the rocky hollows and "Sure, I 'm Colin, the fisherman. tossing the spray like the hair of a From the sea I come, and there do be white old man, She catches her great goings on out on the waters, breath as she gets the sea's breath, with the green waves and the blue but she catches it deeper at the sight waves and the gray waves the color of of something greater than the sea. your eyes. Where the storm is blackAnd what could that be, ye are asking? est you will find me and my boat

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