" Well, I can't stop to talk to-night. The v/hole
world is restless and frightened. The rats in my house
are sitting in a row outside their holes, and the dog
passes them and never looks at them. Nature is sick.
She has a pain in her poor stomach that makes her for-
get to go on with her work. If the sun is not pulled
up out of the sea to-morrow, as usual, it won't surprise
me in the least."
Papa Chambourlier departed, and Zoe Foy also left
her son presently and retired to pray. Michel sat on,
watched the flame of the lamp, and mused uneasily
concerning his sister. The night crept to its waste, and
THE EARTHQUAKE CHILD 17
advanced through the early hours of another day.
Then, before it was yet Hght, the earth awoke from her
sleep and there fell upon that land the most appalling
scourge that man can endure. More awful than the
spectacle of sun-flames, or the blaze of a new star
through the night ; more terrific than the speed of
comets, or the size of the great nebulae ; more sublime
than any other phenomenon of nature, because close,
immediate, personal, come the horrors of earthquake to
those entangled in the midst of them.
Suddenly out of the pregnant stillness burst a
humming and murmur as of insects. It deepened
swiftly into deafening chaos ; the ground rocked for a
moment, then silence returned. Upon the brief respite
new sounds fell, and Michel, whose hands had instinc-
tively clutched the wooden arms of his little chair, heard
a strange grating and rending, then a crash. He knew
that a house or part of a house had tumbled down.
Again the humming boomed out of the darkness, and
a dazzle of light filled the square of the window and
seemed, with its silvery glare, to put his lamp out.
Then all was darkness, and the lamp burned steadily
like a red bead. Now the earth began to rock in
earnest ; through an increasing clamour there came,
shrill and thin, the shrieks of women and the cries of
men. Two people rushed into the chamber, and as
they did so a curious hiss, like rushing water, sounded
above Michel's head, and he saw the ceiling crack
across. But only a little mortar fell. Zoe came down
the stairs into the room, and as she did so the outer
door burst open and a man shouted :
" Annette ! Annette ! Fly ! It has come ā the
earthquake ! Castillon is falling into the valley ! "
18 THE FOLK AFIELD
Georges rushed in, and before he had gone a yard,
the mother of Michel was at his feet with her arms
round his knees.
" Save him ! Save him, for the love of God ! ā
Michel ! Oh, you that are strong, lift him up and carry
him to safety before the earth swallows us all ! "
But Georges shook her off.
" Let imps like himself save him ! Men must save
women to-night," he said. " Where is Annette ? I
have come for her."
In a moment he had leaped up the stairs and met
his sweetheart at the top.
" My brother first ; he ā " she cried, and then indeed
she felt the might of a man ; for Georges, well knowing
that life or death hung in the balance of the moment,
seized her, leaped down the rocking stairs with her, and
rushed from the house. Like a madman he fought his
way through the masses of people in the street, and was
among the first to be clear of the falling village. His
only thought was their united salvation.
As he left the room, deaf to Zoe's curse, his foot
had touched the table and sent it spinning. The lamp
dropped and went out.
In the street showers of tiles and stones were falling
from rending walls, and the people, with screams and
cries, fought in half-naked crowds at every egress.
Down the steep steps out of the village they rushed
and tumbled. There was no darkness now, for con-
tinued lightning blazed on the foreheads of the hills,
and every tottering house and heaving street shone
stark under the sky. Shock followed shock, but the
earth did not open : only the houses bulged and broke.
Walls fell out or split and still stood. Roofs dropped ;
THE EARTHQUAKE CHILD 19
the dwellings upon the edge of the town broke oflf and
slipped down upon the sides of the precipices. A
noise louder than cannon persisted ; miraculous escapes
occurred at every turn, and soon men, women, and
children had deserted their homes and dragged the
bedridden out of immediate danger. Bleeding, injured,
half insane, the people wandered over the palpitating
hills, or fell on their knees, or clung in masses tightly
together, like frightened monkeys.
But no man stopped to answer Zoe's screams for
help, and the little moiety of a man on whom her whole
love centred implored his mother to depart, while he sat
calmly in the midst of the chaos and waited for death
to find him. Then Zoe bade him get on her back, and
so, tottering and gasping, she crept feebly out into the
horror of the night and fought with the earthquake for
Michel. Her progress was slow, and twice she fell.
He prayed her to leave him and escape for Annette's
sake ; but she would not.
Presently, when nearly safe, she fell again and
fainted, half-way down a little path just beneath the
village. He crawled away from her like a spider, and
called upon God to save her and reward her for a love
that had risen higher than the fear of death. He cried
with his small voice for succour, but none heard him.
Suddenly a mass of masonry and ten thousand tons
of the cliff beneath it came down together. The
woman escaped this avalanche of stone by twenty yards,
and she returned to her senses in time to see the hill-
side roll over her son as a breaking wave rolls over a
pebble. Since the Pharaohs, perhaps no man has ever
had such a majestic monument as Nature lifted above
little Michel Foy.
20 THE FOLK AFIELD
When tardy day came and light broke again upon
the ruined village, among the first intrepid spirits to
visit it was Georges Leblond, and the greeting he won
from a demented mother dwelt in his heart for many
ZOE FOY never departed from Old Castillon, and
while every other inhabitant deserted the shattered
town and saw in this disaster a message from God to
leave the place for ever, she resolutely abode in her
house and refused to share the general exodus. Like
some spirit, she still haunted her son's grave, still daily
sat beside it, the only living human thing in that scene
of desolation. Her home was among the few that
suffered little injury ; but, for the rest of the houses,
every one revealed some special hurt, humorous or
terrific, partial or complete, as the result of the earth-
quake. To-day the village lies as though it had been
deserted but yesterday.
One can almost see the flying folk and the walls
tumbling about them. Rent and torn, as though
battered by great ordnance, the church, the shops, the
habitations round about, gape with many wounds, or
stand mere shells and stony skeletons. Here the side
of a house has fallen into the valley beneath, and the
economy and plan of the little rooms stand revealed.
Wall-paper still flaps in the wind ; hearths are yet
black with the last fires that burned upon them twenty
years ago. Whole storeys are gone sometimes, and dust
of the chimney-pots lies scattered in the dwelling-
rooms. Elsewhere the earth has heaved up foundations,
and the sunlight shines on empty, roofless cellars and
dark corners and cave-dwellings, where aforetime the
folk lived in chambers wrought from the living rock.
22 THE FOLK AFIELD
Chaos and tremendous movement seem suddenly frozen
here. There is a vivid feeling that the place has but
this moment fallen to pieces.
The crash and thunder of perishing houses, the
earth billowing like a seventh wave under flying feet,
the sounds and echoes from the mountains, the roar of
thunder that answered the rending rocks, and the
appalled human life tumbling away in a stream under
the lightning ā this spectacle wakes to the spirit's sense
and fills the least imaginative mind in presence of the
No hand has been lifted to steady a single stone
since the night of the catastrophe. Everything stands,
lies, gapes, totters, as the earthquake left it. Only the
unceiled human homes are empty, while the woodwork
rots, the ironwork rusts, and green things loll out of
broken walls, festoon fallen masonry, blossom through
the chinks of hanging shutters, and weave chaplets of
flowers for a hundred ruins.
Now New Castillon, snowy of wall and red of roof,
stretches along a lower ridge of the col, and there man
is happy and busy again, and a new generation of
babies listens to the old story, or, growing bold with
years, makes little frightened journeys to the dead
Only Zoe keeps her ancient place, and she, upon
the return of the day, never fails to fashion a great cross
of primroses and purple hepaticas and place it on the
hill beneath which her son lies.
Once Papa Chambourlier, now retired, chanced to
recollect the fateful anniversary ; whereupon he tramped
to the ruins and held converse with his friend. He
found her, as he expected, sitting beside Michel's grave.
THE EARTHQUAKE CHILD 23
" Yes," she said, " there he h"es, and there he will
lie till the last great earthquake of all. He came out
of an earthquake and he went back into one. There is
a miracle in that. Such beginnings and endings do not
happen to common people."
" He was a very good little man. The Lord cer-
tainly wanted him," said Papa Chambourlier, lowering
his massive trunk to a rock beside the way, and bringing
a pipe from his pocket.
" He was more than a man. There was an angel
hidden inside him."
" So there is in every one of us."
" But that is not what I mean. He was possessed,
as we say."
" He will rise, bright and beautiful ā with legs ā and
wings too, for that matter."
"And a crown of gold upon his head."
" Not a doubt of it, Zoe Foy."
" I would rather have been his mother than Christ's,
" I should not talk quite so strangely as that ; but
of course you are a little strange. Who would not be
strange, if they had lived up here alone with the lizards
and ghosts of houses all these years } When are you
coming down } "
" When I am dead I shall go down. Do you
know that my son made only one mistake in his
life > "
" Ah, how few of us can say that ! What was it,
Zoe ? Perhaps you are wrong."
" No ; I am right. Michel said that Georges
Leblond was a bad man ; but, as you know, he has
turned out a very proper husband and father. He
24 THE FOLK AFIELD
would let me go and live with Annette and the eight
young ones to-morrow, if I liked."
" Don't blame Michel. He was perfectly right
about Georges ; but then came the earthquake. An
earthquake is a wonderful thing for putting the fear of
God into a man, remember. We are a very godly
generation ā we who felt the earth beginning to open
its jaws under us. If there had been no earthquake,
Georges would never have reformed. He might even
be a wicked bachelor still, and Annette rather an un-
happy woman. But the earthquake made him good
for quite a month, and during that month he married
Annette ; and she looked after him from the wedding-
day. Oh yes, I tell you, mother, that an earthquake
every ten years would be a very good thing for the
business of heaven ā and for the business of house-
builders too. New Castillon made my fortune,
" I often ask God to let me be here to help Michel
from this great pile of stones when the Last Day comes
and the trumpet calls him to rise."
" Have no fear. There will be a dozen shining
angels ready to pull him out."
She nodded, but her eyes never left the mound.
Presently she humped herself up in her usual position,
with her chin on her hands, and then Papa Cham-
bourlier departed, because he perceived that she
wanted his company no more.
SOUVENIR DE MAUPASSANT
OF peaceful pleasures there is none greater than
that enjoyed by a botanist, when he enters
strange lands and finds himself surrounded by a new
flora. Lovely things, long familiar as pictures, or in the
mummy state of the herbarium, smile out upon his
sight, and Nature holds to him a brimming cornucopia
of flowers, not unknown, yet unseen till now.
Once I walked upon the great hills that front the
sea in North Africa ; and here, nigh Algiers, for the
first time found Iris stylosd" in her home. During
January and onward this beautiful blossom nestles here
in the grass-like foliage ; and her familiar lilac loveli-
ness, her little heart touched with gold, her perfect
habit and her fragrance ā as of primroses from an
English spring-time ā brought much delight to me.
Overhanging a bank of red earth she first met my
search, and anon I found her on the edge of vineyards,
or sunk in dewy, northward-facing hedges, or clustering
safely within dense tangles of the prickly-pear ā that
gigantic opuntia whose silver-grey lights every hill
And as I plucked, there came " Sand-daisy," so that
henceforth in memory the flower and the girl will be
for ever linked and wedded.
She was not beautiful, yet a haunting fascination
' /. unguicularis of botanists.
26 THE FOLK AFIELD
emanated from her, like Eastern odours of spice or
fruit. I knew her for a Kabyle by her uncovered face.
She lacked too the Arab swarthiness, and instead of the
customary white haik their women wear, Sand-daisy
was clad in the red and rose colours that all Kabyles
love. She had a frank, childish face ; as yet she
trusted the world ; but her eyes were a dreamer's eyes
and curiously full of thought for one so young ; her
pretty mouth possessed some character ; her hands,
despite her rough life and the heavy tasks to which they
had been put, were, I think, the most beautiful that ever
I saw. She was sixteen and a woman every way. No
harsh restriction spoilt one lovely contour of her ; no
distorting bond strangled her lithe waist ; no steel or
bone immured her bosom. Each curve and slope,
round limb, dimpled joint, and dainty breast, was felt
invisible under her ragged but classic garments. Her
tatters indeed reached the perfection of human habili-
ment, in that they clothed her, and while concealing
every inch of the maiden but her feet, her arms, her
face, hid none of the wonder and joy of her, left her
herself ā a little, perfect thing ā as true to nature as a
kitten. Unfettered she breathed the hot air, took her
way upon the hills or sprawled in the sun ; without one
shadow of self-consciousness when first we met, she
flung down a reed mat on which she worked and came
to me as I bent over Iris stylosa.
The girl offered to carry my basket and told me
that she knew where a great many other flowers might
be gathered. She had been educated at a French
school in Algiers and we understood each other after a
fashion. When matters interested her, Sand-daisy would
mingle her own language and that of the conquerors ;
SOUVENIR DE MAUPASSANT 27
but for the most part her meaning was clear. She
found me a sympathetic Hstener and we exchanged
confidences. We both had our dreams and ambitions ;
mine she could not understand ; hers were proper to
her eyes, that seemed bent upon things to come. Her
hopes possessed dignity, propriety and poetry. For
me they lifted Sand-daisy into a figure as interesting to
the mind as she was restful and grateful to the sight.
Despite her squalid home, pitiful life and mean-hearted
parent, I marked in her a pride of race and the deep-
seated, solemn instincts of the Kabyle people. She
had been born here, with a modern French town out-
spread beneath her vision ; she had never seen Kabylia's
mountains save as a shadow against the distant south ;
yet hither her young heart turned, and she dreamed of
the remote hills ; of her kindred ; of the pure race from
which she had sprung ; of the glory of those uplifted
dwellings far away ; of the winter snows ; and of the
deserts beneath, where oceans of sand were strewn and
took the place of the blue Mediterranean for which she
cared not. True to her race, albeit tradition credits
the Kabyle with Roman blood, she loved not the sea.
The desert was her sea and she longed for it with
passionate ardour and sure trust. The yellow plains
below and the mountains above ; the waterfalls from the
hills ; the gorges and fastnesses ; the green oasis of
date set upon the sand, like an emerald in a salver of
gold ā these things filled her soul and drew it home again.
From her mother the girl had learned of them ; but her
mother was dead, and now Sand-daisy lived with her
father, and ministered to him, and waited patiently
while she hoped great matters from the hidden future.
Under a fig-tree she lived, and round about her
28 THE FOLK AFIELD
home was a hedge of cactus and tall aloes. Perched
on the side of the hill, thatched with palm-leaves
and built of mud, the whitewashed hovel gleamed
like a great flower seen far off. Round about it wild
olive climbed the red hill-slopes, vines awaited the
spring weeding and stuck their dark and tortuous
stumps naked above a sea of flowers ; heather adorned
the waste with snowy sprays ; lavendula's purple
splashed the green ; and far beneath spread fruit-laden
orange orchards. A crag of limestone sometimes broke
forth against the russet and tawny earth, and the
eternal silver-grey and silver-green of the trees and
familiar plants festooned the hills and draped each
acclivity and slope with a ragged veil, through which
emerged cultivation. The tilled earth stretched in
terraces and climbed in steps ; sank broadly to the
valleys with wedges and squares of corn or vine ;
cuddled at the bottom of these terrific slopes upon the
smooth ground and marked, by an added warmth of
colour or luxuriance of foliage, the presence of those
little watercourses that wound there. Against the
prevalent pallor of wind-kissed olive and cactus, agave
and eucalyptus, there rose many a turret of dark cypress
and shone the splendour of blossoming acacias.
Sand-daisy took me to the flowers, and I told her
the name of many a lovely thing her feet had trodden.
I showed her the beauty of the black and the golden
ophrys, of the velvety orchids, of the great cerinthe by
the roadside ; of the little romulea, that starred the turf
above old graves upon the crown of the hill ; of the rosy
fedia in the young corn, of the purple toadflax, the
fennel, the campion, the cresses and other good things
that made a jungle of the vineyards and called for
SOUVENIR DE MAUPASSANT 29
husbandmen to sweep them away ; while she spoke of
other blossoms as yet in the sheath and bud ā flowers
beautiful and flowers rare that would come to life here
in summer hours when I was gone. She marvelled
that I carried their names in my head and their pictures
in my mind ; and then I bade her speak of her own
pictures : of the things not seen, yet known and loved ;
and so I came gradually to understand her a little, to
joy in her joys and lament her sorrows.
Once, setting down the basket which she carried
for me, she said ā
" I am tired ; I will rest and talk to you."
Then she sat down and lifted her eyes to the dark
range of the Djurdjura Mountains that ran south under
"I live behind those," she told me. "This is not
Sand-daisy, this girl here, who talks to you. Sand-daisy
is over there behind the hills. They are only a wall ā a
great wall of stones, broken here and there. The real
mountains are beyond. You look up to them ; you
look up into the blue sky if you want to find them.
Those who come here in the winter, like you, see a
great cloud there ā all white and gold and blue, and
they say, ' 'Tis a mountain of rain going on its way to a
far country ' ; but next day it is there still ā all white
and gold and blue ; and each morning it glows out of
the mist when the sun rises above it ; and each evening
it fades away into darkness again. It is part of the
world ā white and shining in winter, dim and very far
distant always. My home will be there."
She pointed to a spur of the Lesser Atlas, that
gleamed, long miles away, against the pale sky, like a
summer cloud floating gloriously upward to the zenith.
30 THE FOLK AFIELD
" There, behind the snow, I shall live and love a
man and have little ones. It is all written for me.
There are many of the Berber people, and they are
noble and good, and each tribe has young men who
would love me if they could see me. Some day there
will come one over the sand or the snow, and he will
see and love and buy me for a good price, so that my
father can let me depart joyfully."
" What manner of man shall he be ā of the hills, or
of the plains } " I asked.
" I have wondered about that often. The Kabyles
are a great people and their tribes are many. But my
mother came from midway between the mountain-tops
and the desert ; therefore I have wondered."
" And I am sure you have decided ; for you decide
everything about yourself"
" Once I loved to think of a husband from the snow,
of a house like a swallow's nest hung above some great
precipice where the eagles flew, and the monkeys
chattered, and the river, so far below, ran along like a
skein of silvery silk. I thought of such a home, with a
man who knew danger very close, and whose work took
him often hand in hand with death, to shoot the
panther and the mountain sheep. I have felt the skins
of the savage things he killed upon my shoulders ; I
have felt my lips on the hem of my husband's garment,
because he risked his life that a wild beast's coat should
keep me warm. And then, loving the man in dreams,
I feared for him and found my heart throb and my
forehead grow wet to think of what might happen to
him, I have leapt up screaming, so that the dog
barked and my father wakened and used hard words to
me. Yes, I have screamed to see my husband tumbling
SOUVENIR DE MAUPASSANT 31
over the red cliffs, and falling for ever ; or to see him
under a lion that buried its teeth and claws in the body
that I belonged to ; I have sprung from the ground
weeping dream tears to see my lover swept away by the
falling snow, when the hot sun loosens it and sends it
thundering downward. All these things are the daily
dangers of the hill people ; and at home, working for
him, I should suffer worse than if I shared the toil of
the hunter. Each day I should say, ' he may never
come home any more ' ; each day I should think, ' his
little ones may have no father before the sun sets.'
Therefore my lover shall not be a hunter."
" You are so full of fearful thoughts ! Such a soft
heart ! Marry none of these wild monsters of the
mountains or the desert. Take my advice and seek for
a house-dweller and a comfortable man. How good to
have a shop in the bazaar and to know that your
husband was sitting in it safe from peril ; how good to
think that when the strangers came, they would go to
your lord and buy in his shop, so that you would be
very rich and your children very happy."
" Happy with a house-dweller I Sand-daisy ! Bid
me give myself to a vile Arab ! Idle, lying, lazy
wretches ! I spit when I pass them. I hate my father,
because he goes with them and sits with them in their
houses and drinking-places, and follows their ways !
He was a true man of tents aforetime, yet now he herds
with them. He sits at the caf^ and casino, and plays
draughts ā even with Omar Mefsaud ā and suffers that
vile vine-grower to beat him, because Mefsaud is very
rich and likes better to win than lose."
" Why do you hate the Arabs .-' "
" Because 1 am a Kabyle. A dog hates a cat,
32 THE FOLK AFIELD
because he is a dog. And the Arabs hate us ; and
they have always hated us and always will hate us,"
" Then you must marry a wanderer, Sand-daisy ā
one of your people whose life is spent in the great
waste ā a man of tents and camels ā a nomad Kabyle,
whose dwelling is the desert."
" It is so. It is written. I know very well the
manner of man that he will be. Yes, a man of swift
horses and of camels ā a fierce, strong man and a robber."
" A robber ! "
She stared that I should be surprised.
" Is not the world quite full of robbers ? Are
there any other sort of men .ā * "
" Of course."
" Are not you a robber ? "
" No, indeed ! "
She pointed to a raw red blot in the earth, whence
I had just dug the root of a cyclamen.
" Your steel there," she said, nodding at my trowel,
" is red with the blood of the earth. You have just
torn a little child out of her flesh."
" Then I'm robber and murderer both ; for I can-
not guess how many or how few of these things will
live when they get to England."
" The Touaregs are splendid robbers ; Frenchmen