Puslapio vaizdai

set our house in order and “I will go and explain at retire from it.

once," announced Octavia, and Captain Mifsud Samut Azzo- I felt that no mere man-even pardi did not come in person un-English-would survive that to take back the house, as he look of determination. The had done to hand it over to Chocolate Soldier seemed to us : he sent an agent. This know that too, for he refused person went over the inventory to meet it. His servant had with considerably more meticu- evidently strict orders to allow lousness and less bonhomie in no foreign female under any than the Chocolate Soldier. pretext. No—the captain was Every hair of its head, every not in ; he was away; he was sparrow that fell, so to speak ill; he was busy; he could -and our over-civil laxness at not see us. Now we knew he the beginning rather recoiled was in, having seen him go on us now. We had paid our into his office not five minutes rent, including a fortnight too before, but obviously we could much; but next day we got not rush his door. back a list of breakages, dam- There was only one exchange age, and loss that amounted of letters on the subject of to nearly as much as our the bath. He maintained we whole rent. Not a chip or had not only cracked it, but scratch in all the much-worn that “it was obvious hot baths furniture but we had done. had been frequently indulged And his seeming friendliness in.” So grave an accusation and our credulity to blame! was not to be met—not at But one item we did know was least in the Maltese courts, not our doing, and that was where litigation under the pecuthe bath. After having got liar rules of the Maltese might smeared with putty at every last for months, so we paid : bath for six months, it was hard since when I have scored off the to be expected to give the list of working proverbs the one owner a new one in the end. that “civility costs nothing”!


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Trekking through Sicily, Italy, hope of being reunited hereand France attached to our after. But with many linen-basket and other heavy changes and so many Customs luggage was not to be thought Houses scattered on our land of. I don't know which I way home, it was the lesser hate most-travelling with it evil to say farewell, a long fareor letting it go alone. For well, to all our great boxes, having once seen busy docks, and let them go home by sea. it is an act of faith indeed to Our final packing could not confide one's belongings to be done at any given time, for them, and


keep any no one seems to know when the

little Italian steamer comes in, “Ah well! that did not come till it comes ; 80 instead of off very successfully — better sailing on Thursday, as at luck next time !” and bore first promised, we lived for no kind of malice. about a week with no belong- We got on board the little ings but what would go as ship—in comparison to which hand-luggage.

This is much the Europa was an Olympic ! easier in Malta than it sounds, -about six in the evening. for in June one need take no The Grand Harbour was lookthought for the morrow's ing its very grandest self as weather: it is always just we steamed away from it. On

another damned fine day,” one side the dear Barracca, and what one wears is thin, standing up grey against the easily washed, and on our sky; and on the other the now baking roof very easily Three Cities, lit up into rosedried.

colour by the evening sun, At last she did come, and which was beginning to gather we only had some two hours its setting clouds of purple to shut up the house, pack our and scarlet; and the golden remaining belongings, and say western sky was reflected on farewell to Dolores and Car- the ripples of the wonderful méla. At the last moment we blue sea. Such a scene should found that they laid great surely have brought to mind store by a “written reference,” some fine poetic passage, but as English ladies are transitory with horrid contrariness of beings, and we, departing, were memory I could think of nothimplored to leave behind us ing but that jaundiced jangling footprints in the sand of time “Farewell to Malta,” which is in the form of “written testi- surely the low-water mark of monials ”

to their virtues. I Byron's unequal genius. Poor don't know how they com- man! He seems to have been pared with other Maltese do- unpopular both at the Palace mestics, but they were on the and with the military! The whole an improvement on the latter is probably not the best British variety. They were in medium for a melancholy poet minor matters,

Madame to shine in ! Patapouffe had said, “thiefs

“Adieu, the supercilious air and liars," but then they had

Of all that strut 'en militaire'," no objection to one's saying 80;

and that was a most he scoffs, and sums up the piquant and amusing differ- whole place asence to the have-the-law-of

“Thou little military hot-house ! ” you " attitude at home. They were always gay and good- So he, with all his genius, natured, and when confronted romanticism, and unconventionwith their little misdemeanours, ality, still had not as much just shrugged their shoulders originality as we had, and saw and smiled, obviously thinking, no more of wonderful " Melita"


than the stupidest soldiers in the Capitano's cigarette-paper “red coats and redder faces,” echoed round and round with whom he so despises. By the exaggerated distinctness. time I had thought out my Getting our train, our seats, superiority to Byron, the colour and, later, our food, was all was gone from the sunset, and made simple for us by Captain the sky and sea one indis- Castellani,

one indis- Castellani, and I watched, tinguishable sapphire blue; and amazed, Octavia's docility we went down to the stuffiest under management, and with of cabins and had the most infinite amusement the CapiItalian of meals.

tano's total unconsciousness of The sleeping-cabin was even anything noticeable in the fact. less inviting than most; but The journey through Sicily although we did not risk un- was captivating in its beauty, dressing, nor disturbing the and the crossing at Messina a bunks by getting into them, delightful novelty, with the we slept on them all right, train itself a passenger on the such time as we had to sleep, ferry ! But the rest of the which was not much, as we journey! Beautiful Italy is, no could not leave the “coolth” doubt, but an Italian train at and beauty on deck till after the end of June would annihimidnight, and we were due in late one's interest in Paradise, Syracuse at 5 A.M.

supposing it took the wrong There were on board only turning and got one there. two other approximately Eng- Never have I been so dirty ! lish-speaking people. They told Any railway-train can give one us they lived in “Sirracuse," mildly grimy paws and a and were “just tickled to find grimier feeling ; but this jourthere's another Sirracuse in ney made me not merely dirty, this little old island." These but “heroically so”! There two people were of import- is little protection in thin sumance to us only because their mer dresses, and dust-coats we existence made sight-seeing at did not possess, so it was not “Sirracuse ” a problem and a merely dirty hands and facesgame of hide-and-seek, one it was a layer of dirt all over Syracuse at time being that we acquired ; and when we enough for us. The Capitano, reached Rome, it took the with infinite grace and un- equivalent of three baths in scrupulousness, directed their one to remove it. One of our “Yurrup”-trotting feet in the added worries on the way was wrong direction; and if they a pair of obstreperous children never saw the Ear of Dionys- in the next carriage. The boy ius, we at least were saved a reasonable enough little their transpontine voices re- being of about eight—was pur. verberating through it! And sued and persecuted by a little how they would have rever

French minx of perhaps a year berated! In that extraordinary less. rock-cleft even the tearing of He bore with her well enough



while mere tig and fighting not a thing," answered Octavia were the order, but drew the snubbingly. “It is Captain line when she would kiss him ! Castellani's Christian name." At last he determined to escape “I wonder what it means,' her and flew to his mother; I mused. I never heard it but the little lady hung on to before. Did you ?" any obtainable part of him, But, of course, Octavia had. and his manly chivalry forbade I would have been all for force, for I heard him call to going, but I also had got a his mother for help.

letter, from Bobbie, saying he Mummy, please you come was just going on leave, and and take her off ; you can hurt would meet me in London in her, for you're the same sect." two days' time.

What mother would not even “But you should certainly strain the prerogatives of "sect" go, Octavia," I said with dein defending a son from similar cision. “It would be most assaults !

interesting to stay in a real

Italian country-house, with a Our ginger-beer “blow-out real Italian family, a very finished when we arrived at noble family too, according to Rome, and so should this ac- the Chocolate Soldier-may the count. There was nothing of geyser scald him, and the new the ginger-beer standard about bath burst with him! And it our short stay in Rome-in would be delightful to see deed, judging from my very Onoto in his family life.” hazy muddled recollections of “I suppose you mean Otit, it was more of a “mixed tone,” Octavia corrected me drink standard " ! We saw frigidly. churches innumerable, and “Of course, dear, though I cattiercombs than the Maltese didn't know you called Captain ones, palaces old and new, and Castellani that-yet." I added arches and ruins beyond num- the “yet” pianissimo ! ber, and the very name of But I saw if I went on with Rome now gives me spasms of more mild persiflage on the mental indigestion. While we matter, Octavia would become were there, our Capitano, who obstinate and poor Onoto—I was personally conducting this mean Ottone-would be left little tour of two, got a letter lamenting, or, worse still, refrom his mother, inviting both covering! So, after much solhis English lady friends to stay emn discussion, Octavia cona few days with her and “my sented to go, and study the Ottone."

rural conditions of northern What is an ottone ? I Italy ! asked Octavia, while we dis- Now this really is the end, cussed this unexpected invita- for Octavia and I did not meet tion.

again. This sounds tragic, but “You know quite well it is it was really due to quite cheer


ful and pleasing circumstances. Church in England. Through I think they are best explained him and his dear mother I by Octavia's own letter. A have found what was always change of nationality was fore- lacking in the coldness and shadowed in the heading of insincerity of So many the paper, which bore no ad- called religious people. I hope dress, but merely “Tuesday." to be received into the Church

very soon, and then Ottone MY DEAR PHŒBE,—When and I will think alike on all you left Rome I never imagined the important subjects. I would not be at your wed- “My people have shown a ding, for as you had only been lack of wide-mindedness which engaged for a couple of weeks, is the true result of their I supposed there was no hurry. narrower religious views : they But, of course, Bobbie's pro- only help to prove how right fession is very uncertain in its I was to embrace a larger faith. arrangements, and I suppose “I enclose a letter of good he has been ordered abroad, or wishes from Ottone, who alsome such thing. Your letter ways liked you and Bobbie was very well as an indication very much.-Your loving and of feelings, but not very ex- very happy friend, planatory about mere facts.

“ OCTAVIA.I have a great deal to tell you also, which even at a mo

"DEAR MISS MEADOWS,ment such as this, when you My dear fiancée is, I know, are pardonably self-centred, will, writing to you our happy news. I know, interest you. But I It is not such new news to have not your ability to say you as she thinks—is that not what I feel, so I will only give 80 ? Cette chère femme is very you the facts : they are so innocent and very unknowing beyond anything you or I of herself. She will be a could even have imagined that most charming châtelaine, and you will understand how deep my mother is well pleased. and wonderful those unspoken “It is convenable that she feelings must be.

become of our Church, In “My dear, I too am to be society it would be best for married very 8oon, and to her, for my family is of what Captain Castellani !

you call Black, though for As you know, Ottone has myself cela m'est bien égal, always been a real comrade but for women the Church is and friend, and has a most more nécessaire, is it not ? chivalrous, yet modern, ideal “We wish you very happy, of woman. He has too a deep and you will wish us so too, and devout view of religion, I know.—Your obedient serwhich one unfortunately meets vant and friend, too seldom in the Protestant


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