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years ago. The sights would come of cause we were just approaching the themselves, too, on the morrow. I saw château, and the baron's pace had him to bed in high hope.

quickened almost to a run. I was up betimes next morning, fear- “Great Heaven!" I cried, "I can't ing that the baron might feel restless, miss this; it's the climax of the whole and rise early. But he slept late, and thing." seemed weary still when he appeared. So saying I ran ahead. The baron After breakfast we went, as my ap- had already passed through the gatepointed plan was, to the curé, to whom way when I overtook him. He I reintroduced myself and explained crouching down in a corner of the overmy desire to show my friend the beau grown courtyard, and his face ties of Thericourt. We sallied forth to- buried in his hands. The curé joined gether; the curé talked fast on alien us a minute later, much out of breath. topics, politics mostly-all people who "What is the matter?" said he. live in out-of-the-way places have your friend the baron ill?”' strong political notions-while I vouch- “Oh, my good man," I cried in heedsafed monosyllabic replies, and kept a less excitement, “can't you watchful eye on the baron. He walked place ought to belong to him, and he is close beside me, his eyes on the ground rather overcome. Good Heavens! what and his fingers twitching. Once or have I said? No, I don't know why he twice he looked up, but it was only for is upset. Yes, I do. Well — Yes, he a moment; the nervousness appeared to isn't well.” get more and more accentuated, as we “Alas!" the curé said, "I cannot went on; I thought of going back once understand. You speak English and more and putting off the visit to the French mixed together. Do not scruple château for a few days, but the sin of to confide in me, if I can be of help. curiosity overcame me. We went on in As a priest, I am accustomed to this way to the dividing of the road, fidences." half-way up the hill. It is a peculiarly The baron raised himself from his beautiful spot. The tiny valley in crouching attitude, and leant against which Serenne lies was spread out be- the wall; then he began gradually to fore us, a picture of a southern French look about him. village in its antique perfection;

"He has had some kind of fit from marred by a single modern building. walking too fast, I suppose," said the Behind us the slope steepened up to a curé gently. scar on which the dark green of pines “No doubt," I replied, intently watchstood out sharply against the sky. The ing the baron. curé took my arm and pointed out some The curé stepped forward and laid his objects of interest visible beyond the hand on the baron's shoulder. village, where the valley leaves the "Cheer up, my friendl," he said; “it is plain. This occupied a fraction of merely a passing faintness. You will minute, but when we turned again, the recover altogether in another minute. baron was well ahead of us, walking Turn your thoughts away from yourquickly along the narrow lane which self; you are pleased with Thericourt, leads from the highroad to Thericourt. I hope. Ha, ha, I wonder what the

“Come," I said hurriedly to the curé, great baron of Fleura ye-Thericourt "the baron will be out of sight."

would say, if he found He stepped out by my side, without He did not finish his sentence; the making reply, that good curé

of "great baron's" son, who had stood durSerenne, but his mind was deep in mying the whole exhortation motionless last remark.

and with downcast eyes, now turned "The baron," he said at last con- and faced him, and said in a low voice,templatively—“the baron. Is your "That is myself!" friend then a baron?"

The curé stepped back and wrung his I did not answer his question, be- hands.







“Oh, what is it-what is it?" he cried. scious pride; "this part of the world is “Your friend you call baron, and he is an interesting one. We are, as I have so terribly affected by the sight of this often said, a volcanic race living in a place. Yes, and he has the golden hair volcanic region. Just now it is the and features of the Fleurayes. I could earth's turn. Lately we have felt it believe he was the very man whose por shake, the first time for many years. trait used to hang in the inn."

Yesterday there was quite sharp “It has passed before me, all my life, shock but no damage, thank God!" in a moment; and it is gone forever- We walked through the gateway, and forever."

found the baron looking hard at the It was the baron who said this; but heap of earth and crumbling stone in the tones were so low and sepulchral the centre of the courtyard. The reathat I doubted for the moment whence son of his intentness became immedithey came. In spite of the almost in- ately apparent; a fountain of water was superable agony of disappointment gushing up among the stones and run. which was growing over me, I pulled ning away in rivulet toward the myself together, and led the curé aside. western wall.

"It is a long story," I said, “and I “The water of Serenne," said the have spoilt it by my hideous impa- baron, “taste it. It is the half of my tience. at least I think I have. Let us patrimony. And the other half is go back. I asked you to act our here." guide because I wanted an impartial We followed him to the gateway, witness; I apologize for having brought and there he singled out a place under you here for nothing."

the wall covered with grass. It was Then, in single file and headed by the the hiding place of his father's moneybaron we walked silently back to bags. Serenne.

The water cure of Serenne is becomEight months later, I sat alone with ing better known and appreciated with the curé in the best room of his little every season. The baron rules all, and dwelling. His face wore a thoughtful consults the tastes and fancies of his smile, and he beat his foot on the floor richer clients with excellent judgment. softly.

But the poor are his chief care. In my “So it is settled," said he.

own heart I dwell chiefly on the fact “Settled at last,” I replied; "the deeds that it has occurred to no one to queswere signed yesterday afternoon." tion his right to the title of Baron of

"But what will you and the baron do Fleuraye-Thericourt. with the place?".

"It is his alone-not mine. I merely the money-lender. And as for that I don't know what he will do with it, but he seems confident in the fu

From The Contemporary Review. ture."

AFTER THE FAMINE IN MY GARDEN. “Ha, ha! the sanguine baron; where When there was snow on the ground is he now?

and famine in the garden the birds "Walking up to his château. I have flocked to my food, but the thaw came, promised to follow, and you shall come and not one of them all has ever been with me.”

back to say “Thank you." It may be We walked briskly up to the château that the blackbird and thrush now sing. through the keen air of the hills, the ing from the fir-tops are grateful, and curé talking volubly according to his that the short, bright chants of the wont.

robin are canticles in acknowledgment "Both ethnologically and physically," of a timely kindness. But I wish they he said, using the words or rather his would sometimes come back to the equivalent French idiom, with

tables that I spread for them when they




were in need, just to show, now that identity; and no one, except a Thoreau they are not hungry, that they still look in his wilds or a Francis d'Assisi, can upon me as a friend. But they will not spend his years in uniformity of garb) have it so. If I go out, the blackbirds for the reward of the confidence of the break cover with hysterical cries—how little folk in fur and feathers. By going meek they were when the ground was round the grounds in a particular way, iron!--and long before you can get near and with certain regular formalities, I them, the tits (they used to eat within once established in a country place a reach of my arm in the bitter days) sort of general understanding with the affect ridiculous alarm at my creatures about me, notably the herons, presence.

the wood-pigeons, the game birds, The air is soft, the sun is shining, and rabbits and squirrels, but if any day I the winged folk have all gone back to wore white gaiters over my shoes, they their routines of life, and, happily, with refused to believe in me. The moving out any remembrance of miseries past. feet of a man are what birds and small Out in the paddock the rooks are very beasts on the ground first catch sight of. pompous and self-satisfied. For a fort. Those in the air or on trees first detect night they had not enough spirit among his face (it is wonderful how conspica whole flock of them for a single caw, uous “flesh-color" is among foliage) or but now they are joyously clamorous, the touches of white about his clothes. convening at their Diet of Worms with So the would-be observer of wild life effusive congratulations, and flying should dress like a gamekeeper, wear homewards at evening with much dis- muddy boots, and paint his face course. The starlings are with them, “khaki." Above all, he should avoid and how they eat! The rations of white. See how conspicuous a little porridge and boiled dog-biscuit that patch of it makes those singularly wary during the frost were served out to birds the bullfinch and the jay, and them, unsavory, doubtless, but life-pre- note how instantly your own eye serving, are forgotten now, while they catches a single white feather in the revel in grubs; and the missel thrushies, wing or tail of a particular bird in a so alert to-day to take fright at your whole flight of sparrows. approach, would not believe it if you To-day, in the first exultation, as it told them that a fortnight ago they were, of escape from the constraints of drove the sparrows away from the winter, all the birds seem to be fairly crumbs under your very windows. revelling in their freedom to range, and

What a pity it is that the birls have the sudden alternation from universal no memory in warmer weather of their

and piercing wind to a balmy desperate confidence in man in winter. atmosphere and mellow breeze. Happy What a charm it would give to life in creatures to take the days as they come, the country if they could only recollect rejoicing in sunshine and plenty, and that you did not harm them when they forgetting at once the frost and famine! came round you in the days of trouble, Everything seems to be in motion, exand understand, when the roses are in cited and eager. The linnets sweep in bloom, that you are still as harmless twittering wisps from plough to grass and friendly as ever. But the wild ana back again from grass to plough. things, unfortunately, never recognize The larks, as you watch, keep rising and a particular human being as a whole. settling as if too full of spirits to stay They will come to know a person who is still. The restless starlings, the hinderalways dressed in the same way or most perpetually flying over the rest to doing the same thing, or they will learn get in front, are travelling hurriedly a call, or become accustomed to a across the meadow. Woodpeckers canregular routine. But their sight does not be content with any one tree, but not permit them to discern the same in- flit looping in their buoyant flight from dividual in two disguises, nor can they, trunk to trunk. The dead leaves in the like the dog, afford to wait till you are ditches and under the trees are all close to them, to acknowledge your twitching and fluttering as if they were



alive, but it is the tits that are at work, thankfully they seemed to eat! There moving about like mice among the brown was no sun shining then to make rain. foliage and tossing the leaves one by bows on their breasts and necklace their one aside, resuming with all the fresh- throats with opals. ness of a new attack their interrupted On the privet bushes the berries are campaign against the insects. And still glistening, quarts upon quarts of look at that wren that is with them. toem. Why have the birds not eaten The tiny thing is all agog with revived them? They all like them. Why, too, energy, skipping about from spot to spot have they not eaten the berries on the excitedly, and suddenly hopping up yellow hollies? Not a red one is to be into the hedge to let off some of its found; but the yellow-berried hollies are spirits in irrepressible song. The robin, untouched. Why, again, do birds that glad of the gardener's return to the eat berries refuse, when starving, to eat flower beds, flies from the spade-handle buds? Surely the buds of cherry blosto the wheelbarrow, keeping its bright som and plum, peach, apricot, and necblack eyes all the time on the mould and tarine are as pleasant and sustaining as darting down from time to time to seize the harsh fruit of ivy and holly and the torpid creatures turned up to the privet. How is it that in hard times the surface. And it, too, cannot contain blackbird and thrush do not turn itself for glee at the going of the frost, them instead of the crumbs upon the and flying into the tree overhead un- garden path? The pheasants walk loads its heart with a merry roundelay. about, picking up scraps of green here Lord! how fast the little songsmith and there; but why do they not debauch sings. He must out with it or he will in the orchard, where there is nearly an die.

acre of currant and gooseberry bushes Far off, keeping company with solemn all prematurely in full bud? The ways rooks and sedate starlings-and it must of birds are past understanding. They be said for these birds, they never lost devour the red holly berries before wintheir high opinion of themselves and of ter comes and when worms must be the virtues of deportment at the shrewd plentiful, and yet, when starving, leave est pinch of hunger and cold-are the both hips and haws to rot in the frost. wood-pigeons much too distrustful, now The owl is abroad early. Poor bird, it that the snow has gone, to come near the has been a sorry Lent with him I fancy. house. How different a fortnight ago. Mice are not in plenty when the snow when the snowdrops, "fair maids of is deep on the ground, and when they February,” were quilted over, and the do come abroad they seek their food polyanthus dared not show its pretty where they can find it without wet feet. petals.

But now that the snow has gone they With dejected aspect and melancholy are afield with the sunset, and the owl gait, their feathers all ruffled and awry, sweeping round the stacks takes toll of see then the unwilling ringdoves come their number. The wasp, too, is abroad to the place of alms. How changed again; not brisk as when the wall-fruit from the broad-shouldered, plump- are ripening, but dull and slow flying.. breasted birds that carried their portly Kill it if you like. Every wasp killed in seives about under the beeches, what the opening year is as good as a nest detime the mast lay thick, with such stroyed in autumn. The bees have gravity and self-approbation, looking waked up and are very grateful for like dignitaries of the Church saunter- saucers of syrup. There are no flowers ing in some cathedral close. How ex- but the Christmas roses for them to quisitely rounded their contours, how search, crocuses, winter-aconites, and beautifully sleek their surfaces, and squills, snowdrops and hepaticas, and how glossy! But during the frost they the honey-pots among them are few. It came, poor birds, to beg, their summer is very pathetic to see how assiduously airs and graces all laid aside, regardless all day long they besiege the same. of appearances. How humbly and raiches of bloom, the poor hungry bees..


At the end of our orchard is a deep way out of my grounds into the outside broad ditch. On the faither side grows world. And the birds, too, come there, a rare old untrimmed hedge of haw- for at the end of the ditch even in the thorn and crab-apple, cherry and hazel driest weather there is a part in which with dog-rose clusters interweaving to some water is to be found, and so hither give everything a closer neighborly feel- travei partridge and pheasant and ing and make them all, so to speak, wood-pigeon and all the host of lesser "connections” of one another. In this folk to quench their thirst or to bathe. tall and tranquil hedgerow the bull- More than once I have disturbed the finches build every year, and, every year nightjar where it sat asleep in the shade, too, the turtle doves, that come all the and have seen the woodpecker busy on way from Cairo to swing on our clem- the bank at an ant-hill which the tellatis, and to rear their golden couplets tale trail of the tiny colonists across the among the briar-entangled nut-trees. path on the other side of the hedge bad The squirrel and the dormouse planted betrayed their long-tongued dethis hedge, and though I call it old it is stroyer. I often take my camp-stool really the new one, for once upon a time and ensconce myself at the bend of the there was an ancient growth here of holly ditch,

between some overhanging and laurel. The roots of them are there sprays of sallow and an elder bush, and still, but they died down, and the hips travellers both from right and left pass and haws, the nuts and cherry stones by me without suspicion of my presand apple pips that the little planters ence. had dropped or buried, sprouted and Such a happy lot of little folk they are flourished, scrambling up from among too. And they look so strangely pretty the old mossy-stumps and roots, and in the shady ditch-the wood-pigeons racing each other into the sunshine. especially. They come up from the And to-day they are all of a height, full water waddling in a portly manner and grown, and the creepers run level along telescoping their beautiful necks at their tops and hang down all their every step. What broad shoulders they lengths alike so that there is no more have and what plump breasts, and the contention in the hedge, but everything coloring of their feathers, how infinitely grows at its ease, each with its fair delicate it is! One always walks a little share of air and light. And they all of behind the other, and it is very funny them have the same secrets of bird's to see the precision with which they nest and mouse hole and humble bees' keep step, planting their pink feet down honey-cellars, of hare's form and rabbit flat exactly together. And so they go burrow.

by, with a prodigious affectation of And on the other side of the ditch is a caution, but all the same quite innocent shrubbery of laurels out of which there of being overlooked. They are only grow in a line five walnut trees, and the birds of the year, these young people, boughs of the walnuts arch over the and as the old ones have another nurditch and meet the boughs of the cherry sery to attend to, they are shifting for and hazel coming from the other side. themselves. And very well they do it, And under them the deep ditch runs, for before they parted company the old and it is always dry and beautifully ones told them all about the vetches and shady; no human being except myself the clover tips and the fields with all even knows of it. But there is not a kinds of weeds with juicy buds, and thing in fur in all the neighborhood that told them too about young turnip-tops is not familiar with it, using it to cross and the pods of the field-peas. So they unseen from the woodlands and pasture are fat and self-satisfied this couple on one side of my orchard to the wood- of pigeons, and come promenading lands and the pasture on the other; for along my ditch as pompous and conat each end à commodiously ample scious as if they had just built a chapel drain-pipe leads from the ditch into the and endowed it. tields, taking my visitors by a covered But I could tell them something that

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