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day must indeed be deeply scored by pain and care. All nature is awake; soft scent of flowers, sweet song of birds fill the air, not with the drowsy lulling languor of Summer time, but with the keen quickening vigour of awakening life and energy. An' afternoon when one thanks God for life, when one's heart throbs with a sudden choking pity for the eyes that are closed to all this fair brightness, for the ears that no longer hear those sweet glad sounds, for the lips that are mute, ah, God! to us who once watched so wistfully for their unclosing.
Down in the valley, the winding Seine flowing at its foot, lies the ancient city of Rouen, rearing its triumphs of past generations to the blue sky—its splendid piles of Gothic architecture, its lace-work of fretted stone. Lingering in the old streets, looking upwards with loving reverence at the time-worn structures, a warmer glow
comes into our English hearts, an odd, home feeling, as if this ancient city were one in which we, too, have pride, have feeling of kinship. One turns from the new parts of the town—from the gay boulevards, the clean commodious stone houses that look so solidly and unpicturesquely comfortable, from the rows of tempting shops, reminding one of a miniature Paris ; and one haunts over and over again the old-fashioned, ill-paved streets, with their tumble-down houses nodding across the narrow way to each other; the venerable trophies of dead men's hands, blackened, worn, half effaced with the lapse of centuries, and all the dear remnants of time so long gone by—dear only from distance. As if human hearts beat then with other hopes and passions than to-day, as if we who live, and love, and suffer now, were different from those men and women dead
so long ago. More refinement, more education, more knowledge—a change of dress, a change of manners to-day, perhaps; but, ah me! the same capacity for suffering, the same experience of life, all the time from the creation until now. How odd it seems to think of that long gone past as a present ! to think that centuries back was once to-day, to close one's eyes and see in fancy the vast multitude thronging to witness the meeting of Henry and Francis, as a few years ago one looked upon the sea of upturned faces come to gaze upon Napoleon and Victoria. But the men and women dead so long ago have no real individuality for us—Agnes Sorel and Diana of Poictiers are vague names in our ears, coming across us like the princesses of fairy tales. Yet centuries ago this old city of Rouen knew them, and people talked of them, and discussed their
charms, as freely as we do the court beauties of to-day.
What have I to do with Agnes Sorel or Diana of Poictiers, with Arlette of Falaise or Joan of Arc, with all the kings and princes, and dukes who made war, and slew, and conquered, lived, intrigued, hoped, and died in this ancient town of Normandy!
I am going to tell all you who care to hear it a simple story of a little childish, innocent maiden, who has no part nor parcel in royalty or grandeur, who knows nothing of statecraft, or ambition, or despair, but leads her own humble, simple life, without great events, but without great sorrows, up yonder in that sweet spot looking down on the old town where I stood but now, when my errant thoughts started on their vague unprofitable wanderings. Yes, you may see her now standing in that very garden which is there to-day looking back at the white
house with brown Venetian shutters, and calling in a gleeful, birdlike voice, “Marcelline.” An old-fashioned French garden, not too well kept, and yet not straggling nor untidy—a garden over which this April afternoon the very sweetest, softest winds of Heaven are playing. There are great masses of gorgeous tulips and double stocks of sweet-smelling wallflowers and clustering lilac,great blue and white fleurs-de-lis, growing in rows over thick borders of heavenblue forget-me-nots, espalier pear-trees, stretching their long arms out to each other, and pink apple blossoms thick upon the old fruit-trees that line the wide gravel walk.
Some one besides you and me, reader, is looking at this Spring picture, looking with rapt eyes of keen admiration; some one who, tired of the noise and bustle of the quay, tired of fretted stone-work and painted