[ocr errors]

ness that seemed every day to grow more of a wise Providence working out a divine and more strong to his dead wife and to purpose. her baby girl.

Perhaps the punishment that was to Perhaps any one sharper and less sim- come to the organist by the hands of little ple than Mrs. Gray might have grown Zoe · those fat, dimpled brown hands, suspicious of some other reason than pure, that flourished about in the air so joydisinterested admiration for little Zoe, as ously when he whistled a tune to her the cause which brought the organist so began from the very first, for it was imoften to her house; and perhaps if the possible to think of the child without cottage had stood in the village street, it thinking of the mother, and to look at Zoe might have occasioned remarks among the without seeing the likeness that his fond neighbors; but he had always, of late fancy made far plainer than it really was; years, been so reserved and solitary a man and to think of the mother and to see her that no notice was taken of his comings likeness was to remember that meeting in and goings, and if his way took him fre. the churchyard, and the sad, pleading quently over the hillside and down the voice and hollow cough, and the cold lane — why, it was a very nice walk, and denial he had given, and the beating rain there was nothing to be surprised at. and howling wind of that dreary night.

The only person who might have no. He grew by degrees to excuse himself to ticed where he went, and how long he himself and to plead that he was taken sometimes lingered, was Jane Sands, and unawares and that, if she had not taken I cannot help thinking that in old days she his answer as final, but have followed him would have done so; but then, as we have to the house, he should certainly have reseen, she was not quite the same Jane lented. Sands she used to be, or at any rate not And then he went a step further. I quite what we used to fancy her, devoted think it was one July day, when the baby above all things to her master and his in- had been more than usually gracious to terests, but much absorbed in her own mat. him, and he had ventured, in Mrs. Gray's ters, and in those Stokeley friends of hers. absence, to lift her out of the cradle and She had asked for a rise in her wages too, carry her down the garden path, finding which Mr. Robins assented to; but with her a heavier weight than when he had out that cordiality he might have done a first taken her to the Grays' cottage. She few months before, and he strongly sus had clapped her hands at a great, velvet. pected that when quarter-day came, the bodied humble-bee, she had nestled her wages went the same way as those baby curly head into his neck, and with the clothes, for there was certainly no outlay feeling of her soft breath on his cheek he on her own attire, which, though always had said to himself : “If Edith were to scrupulously neat, seemed to him more come back now I would forgive her for plain and a shade more shabby than it the baby's sake, for Zoe's sake.” He forused to be.

got that he had need to be forgiven too. As the summer waxed and waned, the “She will come back," he told himself; love for little Zoe grew and strengthened she will come back to see the child. Sbe in the organist's heart. It seemed a kind could not be content to hear nothing more of possession, as if a spell had been cast of her baby and never to see her, in spite on him; in old times it might have been of what she said. And when she comes it set down to witchcraft; and, indeed, it shall be different for Zoe's sake.” seemed something of the sort to himself, He wondered if Jane Sands knew where as if a power he could not resist compelled Edith was, or ever heard from her. He him to seek out the child — to think of it, sometimes fancied that she did, and yet, to dream of it, to have it so constantly in if she knew nothing of the baby, it was his mind and thoughts, that from there it hardly likely that she had any correspondfound its way into his heart. To us, who ence with the mother. He was puzzled, know his secret, it may be explained as and more than once he felt inclined to let the tie of blood, the drawing of a man, in her into the secret, or at least drop some spite of himself, towards his own kith and hint that might lead to its discovery: kin; blood is thicker than water, and the It pleased him to imagine her delight organist could not reject this baby grand- over Edith's child, her pride in and devochild from his natural feelings, though he tion to it; she would never rest till she might from his house. And beyond and had it under her care, and ousted Mrs. above this explanation, we may account Gray from all share in little Zoe. And for it, as we may for most otherwise un- yet, whenever he had got so far in his inaccountable things, as being the leading clination to tell Jane, some proof of her


absorption in that baby at Stokeley, for over, with wbat in a less kind, gentle face, whom he had a sort of jealous dislike, might have been quite a hard, critical threw him back upon himself and made manner, " I thought for a minute him doubt her affection for her young “ Well?" mistress and resolve to keep the secret to “I was mistaken,” she said ; “of course himself, at any rate for the present.

I was mistaken." And then she added to He came the nearest telling her one day herself more than to him, “ It is not a bit in August, when, as he was watering his like flowers in the evening, Mrs. Gray passed “ Look again," he said, “look again, the gate with that very little Zoe, who was don't you see a likeness ?” so constantly in his thoughts.

“ Likeness? Oh, I suppose it's the She had a little white sun-bonnet on, gipsy child up at Mrs. Gray's, and you which Jane Sands had actually bestowed mean the likeness to the woman who came upon her - rather grudgingly, it is true, here that day she was left; but I don't and only because there was some defect remember enough of her to say. It's about it which made it unworthy of the plain the child's a gipsy. What a swartby pampered child at Stokeley. Zoe saw the skin to be sure !” organist, or, at least, Mrs. Gray imagined Why, where were her eyes ? To Mr. that she did, for the cry she gave might Robins it was little Edith over again. He equally well have been intended as a greet- wondered that all the village did not see ing to a pig down in the ditch.

it and cry out on him. “Well a-never, who'd a' thought! she But it was not likely that after this his see you ever so far off, bless her! and confidence should go farther, and just then give such a jump as pretty near took her the child began a little grumble, and be out of my arms. Why there! Mr. Robo took her back hastily to Mrs. Gray with a ins don't want you, Miss Saucy, no one disappointed, crest-fallen feeling. don't want such rubbige; a naughty, tire- Jane Sands was conscious that her re. some gal! as won't go to sleep, but keeps ception of the baby had not been satisfacjumping and kicking and looking about tory, and she tried to make amends by till my arm's fit to drop with aching." little complimentary remarks, which an.

Jane Sands was sitting at work just out. noyed him more than her indifference. side the kitchen door at the side of the “A fine, strong child and does Mrs. house, he had seen her there a minute ago Gray great credit." when be filled the watering can at the " It's a nice, bright little thing, and I pump, and a sudden impulse came into dare say will improve as it grows older.” his mind to show her the child.

She could not imagine why the organist He did not quite decide what he should grunted in such a surly way in reply to say, or what he should do, when the rec. these remarks, for what on earth could it ognition, which he felt sure was unavoid- matter to him what any one thought of a able, followed the sight of the child; but foundling, gipsy child? he just yielded to the impulse and took the child from Mrs. Gray's arms and carried her round to the back door. The recognition was even more instantaneous than he had expected. As he came round the corner of the house, with the little RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF CORSICA. white-bonneted girl in his arms, Jane A JOURNEY by sea of, say, more than sprang up with a cry of glad surprise and twelve hours and less than three or four delight, such as swept away in a moment days, must, to ninety-nine persons out of all his doubt of her loyalty to him and his, a hundred, however comfortable the ship, and all his remeinbrance of her absorption be a tiresome if not a disagreeable exin that little common child at Stokeley: perience. If you are a good sailor, you She made a step forward and then stood have no time to get into the ways of the perfectly still, and the light and gladness ship, to get on terms with the steward and faded out of her face, and her hands that the captain, or with your fellow-passenhad been stretched out in delighted greet- gers; you feel it isn't worth while. So ing fell dull and lifeless to her

sides. you smoke continuously and abuse the He said nothing, but held the child food at meal-times, which, on these shorttowards her; it was only natural that she voyage steamers (and not on these only), should doubt, being so unprepared, but a well deserves it, being, as a rule, execra. second glance would convince her. ble. If you are a bad sailor, your plight

“I thought,” she said, looking the baby is sad indeed. You know that the voyage

From The National Review.


does not last long enough to enable you | house. The seed is supposed to have to gain your sea-legs- or sea-stomach been first carried to the islands by birds, so you lie down in your berth, knowing or cast ashore from some wreck. that you must endure to the end, yet feel- Thirty minutes after passing Les Iles iog at times, when the ship rolls heavily, Sanguinaires — I never could get a satis. that an end will be prematurely put to your factory explanation of the name — the endurance.

steamer dropped her anchor in the outer The voyage from Marseilles to Ajaccio port of the bay of Ajaccio, about two took us seventeen hours. Guide-books hundred yards from the quay.

We lost and time-tables say twelve, but I believe no time in tumbling ourselves — leaving it has seldom or never been done under our baggage to follow - into a small boat, sixteen. Certainly we had one of the old so eager were we either to get to Corsica, est boats of the Compagnie Transatlan- or to get away from the Maréchal Cantique, the Maréchal Canrobert. She was robert. to be painted afresh, we were told, when In spite of the still pouring rain, large the company could find time — or paint, numbers of the natives, and not a few visfor I hardly think it could have been press itors, came to watch our landing. They of work, as she carried only six cabin had had a long spell of mauvais temps, passengers, while, from the height she and probably the onlookers came to cheer was out of the water, and the way she themselves with the sight of fellow-crearolled, she must have carried very little tures apparently more unfortunate than cargo.

themselves, though, as a rule, your true My first glimpse of Corsica was through misanthrope refuses to allow any claims the port-hole of my cabin, about 7 A.M. to misery superior to his own. We had left Marseilles at 4 P.M. the day A broad boulevard, the Grand Val, before. It was raining heavily; sea, sky, shaded by two rows of ornamental trees and mountains were all a uniform grey, – just then (April 9th) coming into leaf – the last apparently rising almost straight runs inland for about half a mile, in a from the sea, though, on a nearer ap- straight line from the quay, uphill all the proach, I found that some lesser slopes way. On this boulevard, at the upper intervened between the taller peaks and end, three out of the four principal hotels the coast-line, which slopes were, for the in Ajaccio are built, and at the furthest of most part, covered with brushwood of these, the Belle Vue, we were duly set various kinds, amongst which the yellow down and installed. At this distance, the cytisus and a white cistus predominated. Grand Val has fairly outrun the town, and Of the snow-clad summits of Monte in another hundred and fifty yards it finally d'Oro, Rotondo, Cinto, and others, all be- loses itself in a large, square plateau, on tween seven thousand and nine thousand which companies of soldiers are drilled in feet high, I could see nothing, unfor. the early morning, marching to the music tunately, for I was told the coup d'æil of the drum and a wry-necked fife,” to the from the sea is magnificent. Soon we great discomfort of the sleepy visitor. passed close to Les Iles Sanguinaires, In England, representations to the comthree rocks jutting out in a line from the manding officer would very soon be made mainland of the island, towards the south. if the civilian population of a town had On the largest of these is a lighthouse, their rest disturbed every morning at six connected by an electric wire with Ajaccio, by the loud braying of a band. In France, some seven miles away. On these islands, the paramount duty is to prepare to fight and, we are told, nowhere else, grow a the Germans, and until they have beaten most curious looking plant. I have heard them, or, as is quite as probable, been it called an arum lily, but it has not the beaten by them, everything must give way slightest resemblance to one. It has large, to the military. A highway from Ajaccio coarse leaves of, perhaps, a foot long; the towards the Iles Sanguinaires is closed to bud (I did not see the open flower) was the public whenever the soldiers indulge fully nine inches long, and strongly re-in rifle practice, as it has pleased the mili. minded me of a pelican's beak in shape, tary authorities to place their butts near while the color and markings - green, the road. Nor do they even take the streaked with purple were very similar trouble to give notice of the fact; we to those of a pitcher plant. It is carniv. were only turned back on arriving at the orous in its nature, consuming quantities spot, some five miles out of the town. of fies; and, I believe, when fully out, This Grand Val in May does duty as a the flower has a most repulsive smell, race-course, and a very stiff finish it must described to us as suggestive of a charnel prove on to the aforesaid plateau. Appar.


ently, too, it is a recognized training | its tall, six-storied houses and narrow ground, as often we saw a horse ridden streets, smelling as all and only the older full gallop up this principal and populous quarters of French and Italian towns do thoroughfare, though never, however near smell. the start, did I see any attempt on the Ajaccio, for a town of twenty thousand part of the rider to husband the resources inhabitants, struck us as being very poorly of his animal with an eye to the finish. provided with shops. Nor do the shop

According to Black's latest guide to keepers tempt you to buy their wares by Corsica (1888), there is yet another hotel, putting them in their windows, possibly the Grand, still higher up the street, larger because they have not got them to put. than any of the other hotels, with hot and One establishment I must except, that of cold water baths, lift, and a resident En- Lanzi Frères, which was a small universal glish physician on the premises. This provider's, and where the few things we description is, however, 'slightly prema actually did buy seemed astonishingly ture, as at present there are only a few cheap. The only articles displayed at all preliminary piles of building stones, while were the specialités of the place, gourds olive-trees still stand on the site. As a and stilettoes, both toy ones for ornament matter of fact, the Grand Hotel has not and larger ones for use. The gourds were yet got further than the issue of a pro- of every size, and could be bought plain, spectus, and the payment by the promoter as used by the peasants for wine or water of caution money to the municipality, bottles, for three or four francs, or carved which money the said promoter is now over with patterns or figures, the price endeavoring to get back again, a process varying with the fineness of the workmanwhich he finds as difficult as the prover- ship, many of the smaller ones being bial extraction of butter from a dog's mounted in silver, and made into scent throat.

bottles. The most common ornamenta. I do not cite this hotel story as charac- tions were a negro's head, the emblem of teristic of Corsica. We are greater adepts Corsica, and the likeness of one of the pet at home at building such castles in the Corsican patriots (when the island inair ; indeed, I believe the promoter in this dulged in dreams of_independence), a very case was a fellow-countryman. Sampiero or a Paoli. Do they ever dream

It was on the ground floor of this palace now, I wonder, of independence? I fancy in embryo that I first saw feeding a breed not. The only liberty they desire is the of sheep peculiar to the island. Their liberty of killing each other in the venfleeces looked more like long, silky hair detta, and this, if half the stories we than wool, and though they often went heard are true, they practically have alwhole days amongst thick brushwood of ready. Should a Corsican, in revenge for all sorts, yet this hair never seemed to get injury done to himself or his relations, or matted or torn, or even to lose its gloss. even to his dog or his horse, kill another Small, fine heads, they have, with sharply with knife or coup de fusil, 'public syn. cut muzzles shining like black silk, for pathy sustains him, the hills shelter him, white or parti-colored sheep in Corsica are bis relations feed him, and justice in the as much the exception in a flock as black shape of gendarmes winks with both eyes ones in England ; altogether a far more unless the murderer be very unpopular. interesting and aristocratic looking crea- True, he is termed a “bandit,” and has to ture than its English cousin, but an avi- take refuge in the macqui, as the natural mal to admire only, not to eat.

bush is called that clothes the mountain But the rain had stopped long ago, and sides. Well informed Corsicans tell one the sun is shining, so we stroll down the that there are at this moment in the island Grand Val to take our first look at Ajac-over one thousand in hiding. But please cio. The houses, at first detached, chiefly understand the bandit is no brigand. villas and hotels, with large spaces be- Should you, defenceless, happen to fall in tween, grow thicker together as we de. with him he will not take your purse, but scend the hill towards the quay. About on the contrary offer you food, if he has it, three parts of the way down, we come and shelter in his cave, and most probably upon a large, open space on our right, refuse any payment for his hospitality. planted round with plane and acacia trees. It is only his foe's family against which It is here that the citizens and the citizen- he wages war, and of course in self-deesses of Ajaccio meet their friends and fence with the gendarmes. These latter show themselves, and on Sundays listen he will shoot with as much unconcern as to the band. Below this square, stretching a woodcock. And yet, though the Corsileft and right, lies the town proper, with can will not rob you, it is not because he does not love money. For a very few | an Italian, and to drive it off the latter francs, both Corsican gentlemen and En. threw a stone, whereupon the wife of glish residents aver, you can find a man the Corsican indignantly demanded of her who will do your killing for you and rid husband if an Italian was to throw stones you of your enemy with knife or bullet. at a Corsican pig with impunity. The And whilst this utter contempt for human Corsican at once went into his house, and life prevails there can be no hope of the returning with his gun, shot the Italian extinction of the vendetta.

dead on the spot. The murderer escaped An English gentleman, Captain G-, to the macqui, and is, I presume, there who has now lived for some ten or fifteen still, unless the extenuating circumstance years in Corsica, on his own property, told of the victim being a lucqua has enabled me the following story. It seems that one him to return unmolested to the bosom of of the employés of the former proprietor, his family. fancying he had some grudge against the That their fellow-countrymen, and even new owner, made himself objectionable by the authorities, sympathize with these breaking down fences, driving goats and miscreants, or, at least, are afraid of them, sheep into the gardens, and annoying Cap- seems clear from the absurdly inadequate tain 6- in other ways. Captain G- sentence passed on the murderer of even happened to mention the fact of the man's an Englishman some three years ago. A enmity, and deplored it as unreasonable, certain Major Roden, manager for some both to a Corsican gentleman, a neighbor- mining company, had occasion to turn off ing proprietor, and also to a shepherd with several of the hands. They at once drew whom he was on friendly terms.

lots who was to shoot him, and shot he “Let me know if it continues,” said the was in broad daylight. There was no gentleman, “and I will have the man doubt as to the murderer; he was tried, taken over to yonder rocks, and you won't convicted, and sentenced to three years hear of him again.”

imprisonment / "I will arrange for a little coup de fusil An English lady, a Mrs. L-, who whenever you like to give me the office,'” has lived fifteen years in Ajaccio, and has said the berger.

done a great deal of nursing there, told This was fifteen years ago, but even

me that at that moment there were two now it is said there is in Ajaccio alone at cases of vendetta in the hospital. It was least one murder a week, though these in vain that both Mrs. and the sis. outrages are so hushed up by the authori- ter of mercy inculcated the Christian duty ties that it is difficult to get any reliable of forgiveness for injury, on a man badly statistics. I never, for instance, saw the shot in the thigh. “No, I must shoot him account of any murder in the little local as soon as ever I leave the hospital, if I French paper, Le Raillement, the only can,” said the man, speaking of his adverone, I think, in Ajaccio; but this proves sary; and, indeed, both Mr. and Mrs. nothing, for there was undoubtedly one L admitted that he would lose caste atrocious crime committed in the village with his family, and perhaps be boycotted, of Bocognano, about twenty miles off, if he did not do his level best at retaliation. while we were at Ajac for particulars One could fill pages with similar stories, of which I vainly studied the columns of if one could remember half of what we Le Raillement.

were told, and on good authority. A man's The official whose duty it was to inves. wife is shot because her husband kills a tigate the matter had wanted to requi. dog that had bitten him. In another vil. sition from the livery-stable keeper the lage, a slain sheep leads to the murder of carriage I had bespoken, so I heard the two men; and public opinion sympathizes story from the man's own mouth.

with the offender, much as it does in this The victim was an Italian who had country with a poacher. You may buy married and settled at Bocognano. The gourds carved with the figure of a bandit Italians are called lucquas by the Corsi. shooting a gendarme, but you may ask in cans, and come over from Italy in large vain for one representing a gendarme numbers. They are very industrious, and shooting a bandit. do a great deal of the hard work of the But enough of these horrors, which the island. Their example of industry excites romantic name of vendetta, except to a the Corsican's jealousy, but not his emu. Corsican, fails to redeem from the ordilation, hence there is little love lost be- nary catalogue of stupid and brutal crime. tween them.

If the Corsican resembles the savage in It appeared that the pig of a Corsican his contempt for human life, he has, on wandered near the open cottage door of the other hand, some of the virtues of





[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »