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III.

It stands with a swan-like grace amid | lime-tree walk. The notary, the sous its waters ; it holds, as in the days of préfet (is there a sous-préfet ?), the Montmorency, a rare treasure of old curé perhaps, and some of the country pictures and priceless manuscripts ; neighbors would come once a week to and so far as eye can reach from its play écarté, tric-trac, and boston with terraces, the lands and forests are sub- each other, and chat with us in a pol. ject to its lord. Chantilly is in truth a ished little parlor, with squares of cargreat possession; and the Duc d'Au- pet in front of all the chairs. Once male, as we know, has no sons. He a week, on the afternoon consecrated has chosen the most gifted men of his by local fashion, we should walk on the country for his children, and Chantilly rampart and meet our neighbors, talk is bequeathed to the Institute of France. of the crops, and pull the government May the five Academies watch their to pieces (it stands a great deal of pulllaurels flower through many a spring ing !). We should shake our heads before they enter into their magnificent over the Conseil Municipal, but forgive inheritance !

the individual councillors, who are invariably amiable in private life. The

terrible M. Dupont would give me 3 If the day is cold or windy, drive cutting of Malmaison pinks for my through the forest of Hallatte to Creil, garden, and that breach would be and thence take the train to Compiègne, healed. Stop carriage ! let us begin at for there blows a stiffish breeze across once that peaceful imaginary comedy the plateau of the Oise. But if mild of old age. But, al, the little white airs and sun attend you, hire a light house is already out of sight. We are victoria, choose a good driver (you can in front of the shattered round towers get one to do the thing for five-and- of the thirteenth-century palace, all thirty francs or so), and set out by fringed with brown wallflowers against Senlis and Verberie for Compiègne. an azure sky. We climb higher still, 'Tis a matter of five-and-forty kilo- for see here is the high, sunny little mètres ; and to make the drive a suc- square where the tall cathedral stands. cess, you must stretch it a little further Senlis cathedral is a fine ogival build. still, and go through the forest of Chan- ing, its great porches arched around tilly, round by St. Léonard, to Senlis. with sculptured saints and prophets.

Senlis is a charming little town, There are two towers, one of them perched on a hill in true medieval topped by a surprising steeple, a hunfashion, and grouped in a cluster round dred feet in height, which is a landits fine cathedral and the ruins of the mark for all the country round. The castle of St. Louis (a real castle, this deep porches rich in shadow, the one — at least so much as is left of it). slender, lofty towers, compose an es. Half-way up the hill the antique bul- terior altogether simple, noble, and warks, turned into a raised and shady religious. To my thinking, Senlis, like walk, wear their elms and limes and all Gothic churches, is best seen from beeches like flowers amid a mural without. Within, that bare, unending

From this green garland the height of pillar, that cold, frigid solestreets rise ever steeper, darker, more nity, that perfume of dreary Sabbath, irregular; yet not so narrow but that is less touching than the grand se here and there we spy some white, homely massiveness of Romanesque, o: half-modern house, with pots of pinks even than the serene placidity of the in the windows, and a garden full of classic revival. Who, unabashed, could flowers, which looks the natural home say his prayers in these chill Gothic for some provincial heroine in a novel houses of the Lord, built apparently ia of Balzac's. I should like to end my the worship of giraffes or pelicans days, I think, in just such a little town, Oh, for the little, low-roofed chapels d' to sit in my garden and receive my rare St. Marks, the unpretending grande visitors under the green roof of the ! of San Zenone or Sant'Ambrogio, e

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even the simple, pious beauty of such a fare beautiful. O woods of Chantilly! Norman village church as St. Georges O birchen glades of Coye! O deel de Boscherville, near Rouen! Think and solemu vales of Compiègne, spinof the quaint, sombre poetry of Notre nies of Hallatte, and mossy pine-knolls Dame du Port at Clermont-Ferrand, or of Villers-Cotterets, are ye not as a Saint Trophime at Arles ; or even the necklace of green cmeralds upon the elegant and holy grace of the Parisian breast of Mother Earth ? But, shorn St. Etienne du Mont — those be the of their trees, the plains of Oise have churches in which to say one's prayers. not the grandeur, the ample solemn Whereas all your northern Gothic is a roll of the plains of Seine-et-Marne. marvellous poem from without, but 'Tis a lean, chill, flat, and, as it were, how frigid the chill interior of those an angular sort of beauty ; like some august and chilling monuments! Duty thin thirteenth-century saint, divinely divorced from charity is not more cold ; graceful in her robes of verdure, more and I can easier imagine a filial and graceful beneath those plentcous folds happy spirit of worship in the hum- than her better nourished sisters. But blest square-towered parish church. never choose her for your model of

As it happened, we did not see the Venus Anadyomone. Leave her that interior of Senlis at its best. The imperial cloak of woods and forests. spring cleaning was in full force ; the We pass by fields. of sun-smitten, straw chairs heaped in an immense withered pasture ; by stretches of sad, barricade by the font. In the middle precocious corn, already in car on its of the cathedral — and really in the scanty span-high stems of green ; by middle, dangling in mid-air like Soc- quarries and bamlets, into the deep rates in his basket - an energetic char- wood of Hallatte ; then forth again by man was brushing the cobwebs from more fields, ever bleaker, ever higher, the capitals with a huge besom made of lill somehow suddenly we find ourthe dried, leafy boughs of trees. He selves on the steep brow of a down had been hauled up there in a sort of (they call it a mountain here, la Moncrate by some ingenious system of tagne de la Verberie), with below us, ropes and pulleys. The one solitary half seen through the poplar screens of figure in that vast chalky interior was the precipitous hillside, a lovely blue not unpicturesque ; it was like a carica- expanse of country with the Aisne ture of any picture of Mr. Orchard- lying across it like a scimitar of silver. son's.

Far away beyond the bridge, beyond the village in its meadows, depths of

forest, blue and ever bluer, make an SENLIS was the capital of our friends azure background that reaches out to the Sylvanectes. Hence stretched on Compiègne. 146) either hand the vast forests which even We dash down the hill and clatter to-day are still considerable in a score along the sleepy pebbly village street, of relics - the woods of Chantilly, past the inn full of blouses and bilLys, Coye, Ermenonville, Hallatte, liards, till the trees press thicker and Compiègne, Villers-Cotterets, etc., but thicker among the lengthening shadwhich in Gallo-Roman times were still ows. The forest is full of the peculiar one vast united breadth of forest. To- soft beauty that foreruns the summer day, all round Senlis the lands are (usk. These outskirts are fragrant, cleared, and the nearest ds, north with thorn-trees and acacia-trees. O or South, are some six miles away. white-flowing, delicate mock-acacias, We rumbled regretfully down the hill were I the king of France, I would out towards the windy plains of Valois, multiply ye by all my liighroads - for windiest plains that ever were ; bleak none is more beautiful to the eye and champaigns where the sough and rush- none is more majestic or more bountiing of the wind sounds louder than at ful than you. Throughout this parched

The forests of this northern plain spring of 1893, when the hay is with

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ered a span-high from the ground, your in the temple, something vast and long green leaves are fodder for our nameless — something that sighs and cattle, most succulent and sweet. And laments and chills, superhuman or antiwhat shall I say of your blossom - de- human, and has no place in any of our licious to every sense - an exquisite creeds. What is it, this obscure, relirain of white pearls dropping fragrant gious dread, this freezing of the blood perfumes from the tree, which, plucked and tension of the spirit, that locks us and delicately fried in batter, make a in a holy awe amid the shades of the beignet worthy of Lucullus ? I love nocturnal forest? Who knows? Peryour black and gnarled thorny trunk, haps a dim, unconscious memory of the so dark in its veil of lacy green and rites of our ancestors, Celts or Gerwhite, and it always seems to me that mans; a drop of the leart's blood of the nightingale sings sweeter than the Druid or the Alruna-woman, still elsewhere from your high and twisted alive in us after two thousand years. branches.

They say that children fear the dark Here we are still on the rim of the because they are still haunted of the forest. The white may-trees still in dread of prowling beasts, they long obflower grow in rounds and rings to- scurely for the blazing camp fire which gether on the broken ground studded keeps the wolves and bears at bay; an with silver birch. They stand in the old anxious forest-fear survives in them dusky summer stillness, very fair and and forbids them to sleep without that sweet, their muslin skirts spread white bright protection. Brr..

Brr ...I wish we under the gleam of the rising moon. could see the friendly glow to-night in The lanky, sentimental young silver the wood of Compiègne ! birches bend their heads above them, At last, far off, there is in truth a and sigh in the breeze.

glow as of a friendly beacon. 'Tis a and as soon we have passed, no blacksmith's forge, and then some doubt, they clasp their fragrant part- straggling houses. Again a space of ners to their glittering breasts and scantier wood, and we clatter up the whirl away in some mystic, pastoral streets of the outlying faubourg. The May-dance to celebrate the spring. streets grow steeper, the houses taller,

But we go on, still on. The trees our pace quicker and more exhilaratpress closer and closer. They are now ing. And at last we draw up with a great forest-trees. The wind soughs clack of the whip before the famous among them iu utter melancholy. Far friendly Hôtel de la Cloche at Comaway, here and there, a thin spectre piègne. of moonlight glides between their branches. Have you ever felt at night in some deep glade the holy horror of The market is in full swing when the forest ? If not, you have no Druid we throw our shutters open in the and no Dryad among your ancestry. morning, and the gay, wide square is You have never felt with a shudder full of booths and country people, clus. just how they sacrificed the victim on tered round the bronze statue of Joan yonder smooth, grey slab, by moon- of Are. (It was here, you know, we light, to the Forest God! Think, on took her worse luck to us ! — at the this very spot, the moonlight fell even gate of Compiègne.

But it was al as it falls to-night, among the gleaming Rouen she made her entry, and that beeches, ere ever the Romans entered exit for which, alas ! we stand ashamed Gaul. Man has never sown or reaped through history.) Nothing could loos his harvest on this sacred soil ; it is cheerfuller than the market-place this still consecrate to the God of Forests. morning. It tempts us out; and then The beech-boughs rustle immemorial we find that we could not see the best secrets; the oaks shoot up their trunks of it from the windows. For cheek by of mail, like columns to support the jowl with our hotel stands the fine temple roof. And there is something'Hôtel de Ville, with its fretted Flem

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ish-looking front and its tall belfry for, towards sunset in the Bas-Bréau. Here the chimes. It was finished in 1510, the oaks shoot up to an inconceivable when Louis XII. was king. There he height, erect and branchiless, until they rides, on the large arcade on the first meet at last in a roof of verdure just story, every inch a king; but the statue liuged with April rose and gold. If is modern.

Fontainebleau reminds us of a comedy Gay, bright, with charming environs, of Shakespeare, Compiègne has the Compiègne is a pleasant county town; noble and ordered beauty, the heroic but it has not that look of age, of his- sentiment of Racine. What solemn toric continuity, which are the charm arches and avenues of beeches ; what of smaller places such as Crepy and depths of forest widening into unexSenlis. No sign is left of the great pected valleys, rippling in meadowpalace of the Merovingian kings, vo grass, where the hamlet clusters round relic of that stalwart fortress whence its ruined abbey ; what magical lakes are dated so many of the acts of Charles and waters interchained where the the Wise ; that castle of Compiègne wooded hills shine bright in doubled where, says Eustache Deschamps, beauty. Ah, Fontainebleau after all is “ Tel froid y fait en yver que c'est a blind poct; the forest is ignorant of raige,” built against the river bridge, lake and river. But Compiègne has the “le Chastel que se lance Dessus Aysne, Oise and the Aisne, and the Automne lez le pont du rivaige.” Bit by bit one - Compiègne has its lakes and tarns, discovers, lost in the modern prosperity and pools innumerable, its seven-andof the place, here and there a souvenir twenty limpid brooks, its wells and ripof the more illustrious past. Certain ples in every valley-bottom. The loose roads in the forest were planned and soil, rich with this continual irrigation, laid out by Francis the First. Here teems with flowers. The seal of Soloand there, on the limits of the town, a mon waves above the hosts of lily of towered wall rises in some private gar- the valley. The wood-strawberry and den, and we recognize a fragment of wild anemone enamel the grass with the fortifications raised under Joan of their pale stars. Here and there on Arc. Then there is the city gate, built the sandier slopes a deep carpet of by Philibert Delorme in 1552, with the bluebells, or at the water's edge a brilinitials of Henry and Diana interlaced. liant embroidery of kingcups, gives A few old houses still remain from the point to the sweet monotony of white fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, and green, which vibrates from the and among them that Hôtel des Rats flowers in the grass to the flowering where Henri IV. lived with Gabrielle may-bushes, to the acacias only half in d'Estrées in 1591. There are one or blossom, and thence more faintly to the two old churches, too much restored. lady birch and beech with gleaming And then, of course, there is the great trunks and delicate foliage. White and interesting palace, the very twin of the green appear again in the wide sheets Palais Royal, which Gabriel built for of water amid the shimmering woods. Louis XV., and which we remember So I shall always think of the wood of for the sake of the two Napoleons. Compiègne as of some paradise, too

The charm, the attraction, of Com- perfect for violent hue and passionate piègne is elsewhere. The forest here color — some Eden haunted only by the is beautiful as Fontainebleau. True, souls of virgins, sweet with all fresh, here are none of the wild, romantic pure scents, white with white flowers, deserts, the piled crags hoary with juni- and green with the delicate trembling per, the narrow gorges, and sudden, green of April leaves. immense vistas of Fontainebleau. The trees themselves have a different charncter. We find few of those great WHERE shall we go to-day? There gnarled and hollow giants whose twisted are many lovely drives in the forest. arms made such uncanny shadows Champlieu has its Roman camp, its an

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tique theatre and temple. Morienval | Somewhere among the flowers, out of its abbey church with the three Norman sight, but never out of hearing, runs towers; St. Nicolas its priory, St. Pierre the stream that feeds the mill, the Ru its ruins, St. Jeau its marvellous ola de Berne. trees, and St. Perrine its lakes where The hamlet is clustered at the nearer the deer come to die. Shall I confess end, a hundred or so dark little houses, that we know these beauties still by irregularly grouped round an odd little rumor only ? For we went first of all church with a wide, hospitable veranby the foot of Mont St. Mard to the dah, all the way round it, and a quaint, hamlet of the old mill and round the balconied spire. The houses are gay lakes of La Rouillie to Pierrefonds. with climbing roses — out in flower, to And on the morrow, when we set out my astonishment, on this 28th of April ; for Champlieu or St. Jean, after the and in their little gardens the peonies first wile, we would cry to the driver, are pink and crimson. It has quite the “Go back and take us the same drive look of a Swiss hamlet ; and, if you as yesterday.” And so three times we choose, there is an " ascension” to be drove past the Vieux Moulin.

made! True, the Mont St. Mard can This is a sad confession. But, reader, be climbed in some three-quarters of if ever you visit Compiègne yo last to an hour ; but none the less its summit Pierrefonds, round by the Vieux Mou- boasts a matchless view. See, all the lin, or, however long you stay, you will forest at our feet, with its abbeys and never see the rest.

hamlets, and lakes and rivers, out to

the blue plains streaked with woods, VII.

where Noyon and Soissons emerge likt LET us set out again for the Vieux jewels circled in an azure setting Moulin ! We are soon deep in woods The view is quite as beautiful if we of oak and beech. We pass the stately keep to the valley. The meadows avenues of the Beaux Monts; a steeper grow lusher and sedgier, and the kids. height towers above us. See how won- cup gives place to the bulrush, and the derful is this deep green glen where bulrush to the water-lily, till, behold, the oaks rise sheer to an immeasurable our meadows have changed into a lake, height from the sheet of lily of the a chain of winding waters, in which valley at their feet ! The picturesque the wooded hills are brightly mirrored. declivity of the dell, the beautiful The road winds on between the wood growth of the trees, the whiteness and and the water till we reach a long sweetness and profusion of the flowers, slow, mild ascent, and at the top of it the something delicate, lofty, and seri- we find ourselves upon the outskirts of ous about this landscape, makes a rare a little town. A sudden turn of the impression amid the opulence of April. road reveals the picturesque village, Our glade slopes downward from the scattered over several roundly swellin: base of Mont St. Mard ; at its further hills, but clustered thickliest round an extremity begins the valley of the abrupt and wooded cliff, steeper than Vieux Moulin.

the others, and surmounted by a bure It is a valley of meadow land beside medieval fortress, one frown of battle a stream, which, thousands of years ments, turrets, and watch-towers be ago, must have cut the shallow gorge hind its tremendous walls. Below the in which it lies. On either side rises castle and the rock, and in the depth o a line of hills, not high but steep and the valley, lies a tiny lake, quite roud. wooded. There is just room in the girdled with quinconces and alleys of valley for the small, Alpine-looking clipped lime. Far away, beyond the hamlet and its hay-meadows. They hills, on every side, the deep-blue for are full of flowers ; marsh-flowers down est hems us in. Except Clisson in by the stream, with, bigher up, sheets Vendée, I can think of no little towi of blue sage and yellow cowslip, and so picturesque, so almost theatric here and there a taller meadow-orchid. 'the perfection of its mise

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