« ElőzőTovább »
glass, of old histories and memories and relics, has left the town and wandered up the the Rue d'Ernemont to the Barrière, to breathe the fresh air blowing over the hills of Normandy, and watch the fair landscape lying so tranquil beneath ; some one who, hidden behind the hedge of clipped elms looks at the young girl with intent eyes and murmurs,
“Greuze's very picture !”
The resemblance could hardly have failed to strike anyone who, wandering through the galleries of the Louvre, had paused before Jean Baptiste Greuze's sweet picture “La Cruche Cassée." The same sweet childish face framed in deep auburn hair, the same fair skin rosy-tinted, the same deep blue unspeculative eyes and rose-bud mouth. All the same, even to the very lap full of pink apple-blossoms.
The young man stood unseen, leaning
against the narrow-barred gate, and looking with entranced eyes at the girl. It was not love at first sight. Something quite different from that keen first emotion which a breath may quicken into love-it was the feeling that appeals, not to heart or mind, but purely to the sense.
As he watches, a stout, good-humoured looking woman, with a frilled white cap and clean kerchief pinned across her breast, appears at the house door.
“Come in, Mademoiselle !" she calls. " Your dinner is served.”
“But I am not hungry, Marcelline."
“Ah ça ! but one must eat even if one isn't hungry, petite ; and when you but see what I have prepared—” and Marcelline concludes her sentence with an oracular nod.
“Tell me, Marcelline, what is it ?”
“Tell me first, dear, good Marcelline," cries the girl.
“Well—then, first some bouillon."
“Oh! it's too hot for bouillon,” and the pretty shoulders are shrugged half up to the ears.
“Then some little-little radishes.”
“What more would the child have ?" exclaims Marcelline, slily.
“Why, does one ever dine without sweets ?”
“Well, then I had to go into the Rue Beauvoisine, and I brought one of your favourite cakes, all over chocolate and white sugar."
“Oh, you dear Marcelline !" cries the
little maid, ecstatically, “then I will come and eat without being hungry. But first, pick me this sweet little cluster just above my head.”
“Fie! what waste! cries Marcelline, approaching all the same, “ spoiling good fruit just for a fancy.”
“But they look so pretty in the vases."
“Pretty—ah, bah! and for whom ? Where are the visitors to admire them ?”
“But they are for me, I like them.”
“A silly fancy. And in the Autumn, when you want your tourte aux pommes every day, I shall have to buy apples, and Blaise Allain, the fruitier, is a cheat."
Marcelline’s strictures on the folly of plucking apple-blossoms are more practical, but certainly not so poetic as Christina Rossetti's :
“I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple-tree
And wore them all that evening in my hair.
Then in the Autumn, when I went to see,
I found no apples there."
Nevertheless she picks the desired cluster, and then the two walk back into the house and are lost to view.
The watcher turns away with a sense of disappointment; he could have looked a great deal longer at the pretty picture. He saunters down the road, now and again stopping to glance over the hedge at the numerous picturesque campagnes dotted about, or the sweet view lessening gradually as he descends.
“A quarter past five,” he says, taking out his watch, "and the table-d'hôte is at half-past. I think I thall dine there after all, it's very slow having no one to talk to.”
Quickening his steps, he returns to his hotel upon the quay ; but his gregarious aspirations are doomed to disappointment, for at dinner he is placed between a round