« AnkstesnisTęsti »
that Anne never knew whether or not Slade's genius had led him at the same time toward the circumambient sunshine and the air that was plaintive with the song of sandpipers.
She learned that night, however, that he had been at her hotel in the afternoon, and that his visit had been rewarded by a conversation with her mother.
"He came at the same hour he found so favorable on Sunday," the lady remarked, "but he said nothing about contemplating a call upon you. He desired to create the impression that his card was meant for somebody else. He said he was expecting friends who would stop here. He will expect them all summer, but you will find they wont come. I tremble to think of the accidents by land and sea which will detain them."
"There were a number of things which you forgot. If he was offended, he is taking a fine revenge."
Mrs. Rittenhouse was a still handsome woman, who never, by any chance, failed to present to view a careful and elaborate coiffure. She had a soft voice, soft hands, soft lips, and soft skin; and it was the care of her life to preserve the general soft texture of herself and her daughter from all possible rude contact.
"I don't know how I happened to miss my nap this afternoon," she went on, "and
Anne smiled more deeply still, turning I fancy he didn't know, either; but he her face away for that purpose.
"I guess not," she replied.
They were in a small reception-room furnished with a brilliant carpet and chandelier, to which a sofa and a few chairs had been added. Mrs. Rittenhouse was far from comfortable in one of these, but her disaffection toward the furniture was for the time being lost in the striking correspondence she discovered between their surroundings and the new acquaintance thrust upon them.
made the best of it. He seated himself without waiting to be asked, and proceeded to make himself as agreeable as he knew how. His knowledge of that art is very good so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough,-or rather, it goes too far; he overdoes it. He is a man who wants to get on, and he goes too fast."
"If that is all he wants, I don't even see why we might not help him."
"We don't know anything about him,— about his standing."
"He is what one might expect," she went on, addressing the back of her daughter, who stood at the window. "He is in very bad taste."
"We might give him one, if necessary, and not miss it," observed the daughter, again addressing the broad face of nature.
"My dear," expostulated Mrs. Rittenhouse, from the region of the carpets and chandelier, "you would soon find that his scheme for attaining it was comprehensive enough. The progress of those schemes at these places is very rapid."
The young girl said nothing; but the elder did not agree with her that it was a pleasant place for the conversation to end.
But she did not tremble; she smiled instead.
Ánd she glanced at the American Brussels of large pattern, and at the green chandelier, as if she recognized him in these similar products.
"He is not so very homely," observed the daughter, who, in her turn, seemed to see him in the broad face of nature.
"Don't be deceived. He acts as if he were particularly handsome, but he is dreadful. He mingles the manners of a gentleman of ease with those of an enterprising commercial traveler. He isn't a person whom it is safe to take at his own valuation, and he is plainly indisposed to give us the benefit of any other. He should have known better than to get a little fellow like Corbin to introduce him. He is too old for that. He told me this afternoon that Corbin had gone off on a yachting excursion up the coast. I am afraid
there were explanations which he hesitated to make. He has gone, it seems, without coming to say good-bye to us."
"He is offended with me," declared Anne, still preserving a remnant of her confident smile. "He is offended with me on account of Mr. Slade. He had asked me to go out with him that afternoon, and I forgot it."
"It seems," she continued, "that there is a large family of Slades, who are excellent. people, but they live in Chicago. Didn't he tell you he was from Baltimore?"
"Yes," assented Anne, glad of something positive.
"I happened to mention Miss McDermott, who visited Philadelphia from Baltimore, you remember, and he said he thought he had met her. Wasn't she tall? No, I told him, she was short. Well, he said, perhaps she was rather short,—and
fair. Wasn't she quite fair? You know she is dark,-short and dark. He had never even seen her. Then he asked if there weren't two of them, but unfortunately there is only one. He couldn't get a foot-hold, and was obliged to admit that, if he had met her, he didn't remember her. He didn't go much in society. I couldn't find any one that he knew, except by hearsay, and he finally explained that he hadn't been in Baltimore much of late years, that he didn't live there, in fact, but only near there; and he gave the name of a very small place. I had never heard of it. He couldn't be the man from St. Louis ?" "That is it!" cried Anne. "That is why you don't like him! It is on account of what Mr. Corbin said. He said there was nothing in it; but you wont believe him. You wont let him take it back. He can't get it back. You wont let go of it. It is that story. What offends you is the cheap
WHO called it so? What accident
"NO MAN'S LAND."
Ah, no man's land! oh, sweet estate,
No measure, wall, or bar or gate,
ness of things, the dampness, the briny smells. It is these barns of hotels; it isn't Mr. Slade."
(To be continued.)
No greed, no gain; not sold or bought,
Suns set and rise, and rise and set, Whole summers come and go: And winters pay the summer's debt, And years of west wind blow:
"You are sorry you were not here," pursued the lady, struck by her subdued excitement. "You forget how new you are in judging men. This Mr. Slade is a man; he is not a boy. He must be over thirty. He spoke of things before the war. He seemed to prefer talking on general topics rather than about himself or his friends. It is possible that he thought my knowledge of how to make one's self agreeable as deficient as his was redundant. He didn't stay long. I certainly did not ask him to repeat his visit."
"What did you ask him to do?" demanded the girl.
"I was perfectly polite, but I trust I wasn't cordial."
"He wont come back," Anne said, in the same unusual tone.
And harvests of wild seed-times fill,
And day and night, and night and day,
Ah, "no man's land," hast thou a lover,
Ah, "no man's land," when died thy lover,
BOTH Americans and English, I think, apply the term "wateringplace" to resorts on the sea-shore as well as to the springs of the interior; but the French discriminate: those who go seaward go to "les Bains," those who seek the springs, whether for drinking or bathing, go "aux Eaux." So, though we do not bathe, it was to the baths at Etretat that we went in June,-a party of three, a brother, sister, and little yellow dog,to recover health and spirits after eight sunless months spent in Paris and its neighborhood.
We found at Etretat scenery and air of the best, ease of life, good company, all one could ask for summer pleasure-at least, for those who rebel against the demands and restrictions of fashionable society. As yet it is far from being fashionable; few titles, I think, and those chiefly masculine,
were inscribed on the casino list in the big black book which the old women and the extremely young men were incessantly studying.
When I learned at the end of our stay that the place had been full of Roumanians and Wallachs, chased from their homes by the unpleasant ways of Russia and Turkey, I regretted that I, too, had not studied it, that I might have been aware of and have more scientifically observed such curious neighbors. We had been told the place was the resort of the theatrical world,-Faure and Offenbach had villas there,—and the inference was that manners might be somewhat startling; but we found that, to the unsophisticated foreign observer, this world in its summer guise does not differ from the ordinary world, and one confounded it with the well-to-do middle class from Paris, Rouen, and Havre, who appeared to make the principal part of the company. There were English, Americans, and Russians, as a matter of course, for they are everywhere; Germans and Spaniards, too, and Creoles even a family of unmistakable negro type. If one could have known them all! But perhaps they would not have seemed so queer as one would wish.
The town itself is an ugly little place, built of dark flints and dingy bricks. The roofs are of slate, and the whole coloring so dull one would think it at the mouth of a coal-pit. But its situation is lovely. It It lies at the mouth of a small valley, full of groves and gardens, which is cut sharply in the high table-land that forms this part of Normandy. This high land meets the sea in bold white cliffs, sisters in beauty to the opal cliffs of the Isle of Wight, and stretches inland in level lines, broken only by the curious dark groves of the Norman farm-yards. Inclosing the little bay and beach, these cliffs reach out in headlands to protect the town from wind, and so take the force of the winter storms that they are worn into arches and pinnacles of fantastic form, of which numberless pictures are always in progress by artists of all ages and all degrees of merit, from Boldini and Landelle down to little girls in embroidered hats and boys in blue sashes.
The beach is of shingle and falls away rapidly, the tides in their coming and going constantly changing its incline-now sweeping it down into one smooth basin, now building it up into a sharp-cut shelf, on the edge of which you stand and look down into the clear waves breaking just under
your feet. I have never seen this charming effect of the " effect of the "brimming sea" before; the bay the cup, the shelf the edge of it, and the living green beauty of the water sparkling and foaming within. Each quarter of the beach has its own peculiar life. The washerwomen have possession of the western end; next come the fishing-boats, and then the bathing-ground, with casino and terrace at the top of the beach, and rows of "cabines," out of which come at the bathing hours the oddest figures you can find in broad daylight anywhere. Still farther to the east, beyond the bathingplace, there stretches a long way under the cliffs the only quiet part of the beach. Sometimes they take the unwilling horses there to plunge and dance in the waves; sometimes the boys make unconventional water-parties there; but usually it is quite deserted, and in the fresh early day it is delicious in its still remoteness.
The town is ugly, as I have said, but the outskirts are full of gay gardens, and villas, and trees. Most of the villas are to be hired, and all are named: Villa Georgette, La Chauffrelle, Villa Orphée (Offenbach's), La Sonnette du Diable, Val Fleuri, etc. Others are startling in their broad English
Tiny Cottage, Sphinx's Cottage, Betsey's Villa! Bad taste is cosmopolitan, and makes the two worlds kin. Turrets rest on verandas, and terraces on ridge-poles, here, as they might in America; and here was built on a rock, in 1865, the towered castle with a cannon-ball deeply bedded in its great gate.
The town proper is cut by dirty lanes, one or two wider ones, and one "Grande Rue," perhaps twenty-five feet wide, named Alphonse Karr, in honor of the discoverer of Etretat. Almost every house has lodgings to let, empty shops are fitted up as "apartements," and I noticed two thatched boats, papered and carpeted, ready for the unwary citizen of John Gilpin's turn of mind. Looking into the rooms in passing, one was surprised to see how attractive they appeared, even in most unpromising neighborhoods. The universal white muslin curtains give an air of taste to the poorest dwelling, and I can understand what a long-time resident in Paris meant when she said windows without these curtains gave her the same impression as a woman without a collar. The French apparently have no objection to bad smells and no fears of bad drainage. Nice brick houses, with every appearance of luxurious arrange
ments, stand side by side with the original thatched cottages, sharing the odors of the black gutters and the surrounding backyards.
The place and people, of course, have lost nearly all their individuality since they were discovered, twenty years or so ago, but they still retain the common Norman love of fine cupboards full of china. The old quaint ones of oak have long been sold, and they have brand-new ones now. The china is of the gaudiest, and, curiously enough, always belonged to the grandmother of the present owner. We never had any direct offer of selling made to us, but they had a knowing way of ringing the plates as they expatiated on their age which seemed to imply a habit of discussing prices. One of the fine villas has a noted collection of Vieux Rouen, and one soft summer evening we watched through the vine-draped window of La Chaumière two old ladies gossiping over their dessert by candle-light, in a room whose walls were covered solid with plates.
Etretat is comparatively cheap, though, as its charms become more known, it will soon change. Its distance from the railroad has preserved to it, until now, something of simplicity. The hotels are comfortable, but in nowise elegant. Many people find their lodgings in the village and take their meals at the tables d'hôte. On a sunny morning the court-yard where we lived was a cheerful sight, the little tables occupied by coffee-drinkers, waited on by a dozen or so of white-capped young women with flying strings, whose names sounded wonderfully romantic: "Celestine!" "Ermance!" "Aglaé !”
which appeared daily in a fresh toilet of blue or pink or red ribbon-bow on the top of his fluffy head. They used walk their three leagues before breakfast every day, little dog and all, "playing with the wind," they said. France is the paradise for small dogs. What we are kindly accustomed to call the frivolity of the French makes them gentle and thoughtful masters to small creatures. One day, I heard a heavy sigh under my window and the tinkling of a little bell, then a deep voice, saying: "Well! Thou hast had thy promenade, my cherished one!" Of course I looked, and saw, shining red under his umbrella, a short, fat man, preceded by a shaved poodle. They were on their warm way down from the cliffs, where he had been toiling for the creature's benefit. I thought it very charming, as well as funny. The French are fond of calling poodles "mees" or meesy."
The small church at Etretat is extremely interesting,-even beautiful. Most of the nave is old, even for Normandy; the arches round and low, resting on simple pillars of great size, some of the capitals still showing the early basket-work. The side aisles are extremely low; the narrow windows are set in deep embrasures, and heavily barred and grated. This part of the church looks very stern, though the yellow stone of which it is built gives it a soft and cheerful light. The nave has been lengthened, and a lantern tower added in pointed Gothic, whose sharp upspringing arches contrast curiously with their older companions. There are various interesting "bits," a tiny niche, some odd capitals here and there, the somewhat rare arrangement of the clustered columns, and so on, but it was best as a whole, full of the solemn strength and uplifting beauty one asks for in a church. The cure's house and garden lie at the portal, and there was a cheery going in and out of himself and the sacristan and various dependents, giving to the soft quiet of the place a home-like aspect, which was good to note. It was good to sit there in the sunny mornings, to watch the poor old women, bent with age, who sat so long and still, and to ponder on the past history of the place and its still living intricacy of beauty. One morning, as I sat in the shadow, a tall gentleman and a tall lady entered the church for about ten steps, looked about for a minute or two, and then turned and went out; and as they went, with that intonation which our brethren of the island use when they wish to intimate
There are many pretty walks and drives over the downs and through the cart-roads which connect the farms, but we liked best those which kept near shore, where we could see, on one hand, the green turf and yellow earth of the cliff edges against the sky or sea, and, on the other, the level lines of tawny grain and greener crops stretching into the distant softness of the interior. We were surprised to see what good walkers many French people are. The excellence of English habits of walking in all weathers has been so preached to American women that they have come to have an idea that the feet of all other nations are nearly useless. One of our neighbors at table was a huge Parisian, Chevalier of the Legion, husband of a portly lady, and owner of the smallest dog I ever saw,