your eyes are very bright, and your skin is soft. But
you must look pretty for him. That is very important
with an artist like Hyacinthe. He must have only
68 THE FOLK AFIELD
beautiful things about him. Your feet are spoiled by
Giacinta looked uneasy.
" I have some better things for feast days ; but they
are not very much better," she confessed.
"You must look pretty for him. It can easily be
done. No ugly girl can be made pretty, but a pretty
girl can be made prettier. I will make you some pretty
things. It will be good to me to do it. Meet me here
again next week on Sunday."
" Why should you love me .'' You are worth a
thousand girls like me. You are lovely and clever
both ; your eyes blaze. I should like to give him up
to you, for you deserve him better than I do."
" No, he will not come back. He loves you, and
you must fight for him, and make him a good wife, and
be both gentle and strong for him. Come on Sunday,
then. How dark you are : there is down) on your lip
ā as if a tiny stain of wine had dried there,"
" My lips are red, but my hair is not as thick as
yours, and it has no lovely blue at the edge of the
plait where the sun falls, like yours, Honorine."
" I wish I could give you mine, Giacinta. It is no
use to me now. But you shall be pretty and perfect
for him, all the same. You are rounder than I am. It
is good to be round. Now go, and let me think a little
" I will bless you as long as I live, Honorine
" Nay, bless me as long as I live, Giacinta, and pray
for my soul afterwards. That will be better."
The Italian girl climbed homeward, and Honorine
sat on with her eyes upon the Mediterranean. In shape
HYACINTHE AND HONORINE 69
like a Cupid's bow, the blue sea beat deliciously upon
Menton's shores, and out of it arose her glittering self.
Her houses shone singly out of the green, like pearls
upon a field of chrysoprase. Bright foliage of the
orange and aigrettes of golden- printed palms fretted her
streets, church towers arose and faint bells murmured
from her bosom. Above, to the blue pallor of heaven,
towered the mountains, and mighty shadows already
rested upon their northern faces as the sun sank
westerly in a golden haze toward the Esterels.
" She must have a nightgown with pink bows upon
it," thought Honorine.
UNKNOWN to her mother, Honorine saw much of
Giacinta, and was as skilful as a lover in making
clever excuses for meeting with her. The French girl
took a lively interest in Hyacinthe's bride and wrought
many pretty things in secret for her. But at times her
feeble spirit rebelled and she suffered burning tortures
through sleepless nights.
Hyacinthe finished his masterpiece and took it to
Menton. There certain art-dealers gazed coldly upon
it and refused even to exhibit the painting in their
windows ; so the artist took his rejected work back
to Grimaldi and said that he was glad, after all, that
it had not left Italy. Once he thought of giving it to
Honorine, who had seen it in private on the mountains.
But when the time came to bring the picture to her,
Hyacinthe found that he could not part from it.
The day for the marriage was decided, and Honorine's
mother accepted an invitation to be present with her
But upon the night before the wedding-eve chance
put a period to the existence of Laure Vilhon. One
moment she was a woman of sixty ā tough, busy, bust-
ling, prosperous. Then she turned out of the Place de
la Mairie upon a flight of dark steps, where small doors
opened and archways yawned. While descending, her
iron-shod shoe slipped upon half a lemon and she fell
down eight stone steps and broke her neck. They
brought the rags and bones to her daughter ; and then
HYACINTHE AND HONORINE 71
they wept and wailed for Honorine, because she could
neither weep nor wail for herself.
Upon the following morning she had already
arranged to meet Hyacinthe at the old tryst by the
sheepcote, and scarcely mistress of herself when the
next day dawned, she rose, left neighbours to tend the
candles that stood and burnt where lay her mother's
corpse, and went up into the hills alone.
But Hyacinthe found much to do on the day before
his nuptials. He did not forget his appointment, but
he did not keep it.
" I shall see her at the wedding to-morrow," he
remembered, " and it will be good to her to spend to-day
in the hills."
So Honorine held vigil with her thoughts, and for
once the woman in her cried and wrestled mightily.
Here was life offered at last. The obstacle had been
removed in time. Her mother had vanished. Nothing
stood between her and her twin soul any longer. She
waited and believed that each movement on the hillside
was Hyacinthe coming to her. At last she determined
to go on to Grimaldi ; and then the memory of Giacinta
made her stay. But she felt no fear or remorse con-
" I need not reproach myself with dreams of her,"
reflected Honorine. " I have been a loving and a true
friend. Now it is different. Giacinta many men might
love and understand ; none will ever love or understand
me but Hyacinthe. And yet ā and yet. To think that
I send her back to loneliness and black bread and dande-
lions ā and no love. For her ā for any woman ā to lose
him ā I know what that means. Shall another suffer as
I have suffered ? "
72 THE FOLK AFIELD
Purple night rolled up out of the sea while she
struggled with herself. The stars shone in heaven, and
the fireflies danced among the lemon-trees on earth.
She grew very faint and hungry. There was a cottage
where a goatherd lived not far away, and Honorine
went and begged for bread and fruit and a drink of milk
there. Then, refreshed by these things, she returned to
Her mother's death hardly touched her, excepting
in the light of its immense significance as another name
for liberty. She remembered that the news of it could
not have reached Grimaldi, and again she determined to
go there. She argued that it was only just to Hyacinthe
that he should know. Hers was the power to make or
mar his life. Then she told herself that Giacinta might,
after all, serve him better than she could. She thought
of the future and of her money. She pictured herself
again and again as a friend to both. She saw herself
teaching their children to read and to pray. She spent
her francs for them and was their good angel. Then
her blood cried out against that frosty picture. She
was no angel, but a woman created to make a man
happy ā fashioned, above all other women, to make this
man happy. And she was free for him ; her future
depended upon him ; without him now there was
nothing to live for but a grocer's shop. Giacinta's
future depended upon no union with Hyacinthe. A
dozen fine fellows would be proud to marry her.
And Giacinta loved Honorine so well, that she would
give up Hyacinthe to her without a murmur. She had
offered to do so. Giacinta had even feared sometimes
that she would not be wholly happy with Hyacinthe.
Doubtless that suspicion was justified.
HYACINTHS AND HONORINE 73
Honorine began to believe that the earthly happi-
ness of three people depended entirely upon her
Night hid her frenzy and spread a mantle of dew
upon the hills. Until dawn she could do nothing, for
the way to Grimaldi was difficult under darkness. She
trembled to act while yet the mood held. Her
infirmity of disposition was not hidden from her. The
fight between natural longing of heart and natural
feebleness of spirit raged under darkness. She lay
where Hyacinthe had lain after the Carnival. The
mastic and rosemary that he had pulled to make a
couch were long since dead, but they crackled fragrantly
beneath her as she tossed and turned.
Honorine could not sleep. She was physically cold,
and her head ached with much battle and torment and
turmoil of thought. At earliest dawn she found herself
moving towards Grimaldi. Then, after a fierce fight, she
turned her back upon it and hastened down swiftly into
the pine-woods homeward. But her feet lagged ; she
went slower ; she stood still. When the sun rose he
found her on her knees, praying with many tears to be
guided rightly. No answering message throbbed into
her heart ; but she sat and looked long to Heaven for it
and waited very patiently. Then Nature spoke, and
wholesome, sane and sweet desire fired Honorine to
fight again. As a bird for her mate, as the bud for the
rain, as the hart for the water-brook, she longed.
Now she struggled steadily towards Grimaldi, and
the thin sweetness of a little bell already pulsed up
where a twinkle of white wall and red roof peeped over
the olives. Hot, trembling and weary, she stopped
again. Her heart shouted to her to hasten and stand
74 THE FOLK AFIELD
at the door ; her soul said, " Too late ; you cannot part
At that moment Honorine's spiritual essence rose
strong in the hour of physical weakness ; she shrunk
away among the olive-trees and peeped and watched a
little company of bright-clad folk creep into the church.
Then the bell stopped. Eternity rolled by, yet she
knew that only a few moments had passed. She leapt
up and hurried into the sunny place before the church
door. A tortoiseshell cat sat all alone there. It
chattered and snapped at the flies that came and settled
upon it. Down in the woods a donkey brayed.
Honorine went to the door, lifted her hand to the
latch, stood a moment, then reeled like a woman sud-
denly caught in the wind, and fainted away.
Hyacinthe came out first with Giacinta on his arm,
and found her there. In a moment he released himself
from his wife and knelt down and shouted for water.
The wedding party crowded round about and expressed
pity and concern. But soon Honorine recovered and
stood up among them. She saw Giacinta wearing the
pretty things that she had made ; and she took her to
her breast and kissed her.
" What is it ? What has happened ? We waited
until we dare not wait longer. Where is Madame ? "
" She is dead ā my mother is dead."
" Dead ! ā Laure Vilhon dead .'' "
He screamed the words and gripped Honorine's arm
so hard that she saw the mark at night.
" She fell down the steps and killed herself yester-
The man stared slowly round and round him.
HYACINTHE AND HONORINE 75
Then his gaze fell upon Honorine. Nobody spoke,
but Giacinta made an inarticulate sound and pulled
Hyacinthe's sleeve. Suddenly and passionately he
cursed the world, and the sky, and the things behind
the sky. He swore and gesticulated for a full minute ;
then he gave his arm to Giacinta and hastened away,
stumbling over the uneven pavement of the street.
The folk chattered and waved their hands and shook
their heads. The relations of the bride and bridegroom
followed them, while others stopped and ministered to
Later in the day, before the evening feast and revel,
Hyacinthe borrowed a mule and a saddle and took
Honorine home. Her mother's sister had arrived from
Sospel, and Hyacinthe soon left the girl with her aunt
and returned to his wife.
At the bridge of St Louis he stood and looked into
the gulf below and thought of leaping down. But soon
he hurried on again.
"Art is above God in future," he said to himself.
SUMMER'S fire and glare scorched the hills again,
and the thousand growing things that Nature has
blessed with hairy leaves and down and silver-white
foliage, fought once more for life against the terrific
heat. By day they lingered and languished and
parched ; by night they drank the dew and so made
shift to live,
Honorine Vilhon still dwelt at Castellar, and her old
aunt came to live with her and tend the shop and watch
her niece slowly pass out of life. Like a flower she
faded gradually, and her days narrowed to the thought
of Hyacinthe and his home.
Often the sign-writer and his wife came to see her ;
sometimes, when she felt strong enough, she rode to
see them. Giacinta made a very good partner, and her
husband had sense to perceive it.
The fact that he was to be a father in spring-time
interested him enormously. He felt in his heart that
he was the sort of man who must produce works of
genius in some shape, if only in the shape of offspring.
Honorine's heart centred upon the coming child
also. She was to be its godmother. Passion died in
her as her fire of life waned away. She could think of
Hyacinthe now without any quickening of pulse. He
always kissed her when they met, and he knew as well
as she did that she must presently pass from him.
There came a day when spring rain had cooled the
air suddenly. Rain upon an olive-tree alters the colour
HYACINTHE AND HONORINE 77
of the young wood that bears the leaves and fruit.
Each twig takes a tone of delicate amber and adds a
new and fleeting loveliness of contrast to the grey-green
foliage, until sunshine dries all again.
From his cottage door Hyacinthe noted this circum-
stance, and smiled approval upon himself for such obser-
"Nobody else in Italy has ever seen that," he
Suddenly he heard his wife's voice lifted to him.
There was fear and pain in it. He rushed indoors to
find Giacinta bent and shivering. Her hand was pressed
into her side.
" It has come," she said.
The man hurried out and bawled with all his might
down the street.
" My wife, good people ā anybody ā everybody !
Run for her mother and for the nurse as quick as
you can ! Fly ā fly instantly ! "
A few lazy loafers, sunning themselves after the rain,
rose up to do his bidding ; then Hyacinthe returned
indoors and piled great ruddy fir-cones upon the hearth.
Upon these he placed wood, but the mass would not
kindle, and the iron screen to draw it into a blaze stuck
fast and refused to act. There was nothing in the room
to serve his purpose, and he stared about him wildly and
used strong words.
Giacintashivered and rocked and moaned to the Virgin.
Suddenly he saw his masterpiece and dragged it down off
the wall. The crude irony of the circumstance much
impressed him as he drew up the fire with his picture.
" I had thought to make a furore of a different sort
with this," he said to Giacinta. " But you are going to
78 THE FOLK AFIELD
bring my child into the world. It is important. Some
day this may be told again in history."
Next morning Hyacinthe sent a friend to Castellar
with the intelligence that all was well, and that Honorine
would be the godmother of a fine baby called Honorine.
The boy who took the good news returned with
bad. Honorine Vilhon had become much worse
suddenly, and it was feared that she could not live.
But Hyacinthe visited her thrice more before she died,
and she heard all about the baby though she never
The end came by night, and the next day Hyacinthe
was sitting by his wife when the news arrived. They
wept together, and she mourned bitterly until he feared
for her. Then when she grew calmer, he went into
the hills, and Giacinta cried alone and talked gently to
her child. The little thing woke and wailed, and she
lifted it to her flowing breast.
" Hush, tiny Honorine ; you must be as good as
your godmother, who has gone back to God. Happy
little Honorine, to have a godmother to watch and love
you in Heaven. A guardian angel and godmother
Hyacinthe rambled hither and thither. Then he
came home to his workshop and drew out one of the
boards he often painted for the graves of the humbler
dead. Honorine would have a white stone cross
presently : she was rich ; but this might serve for the
He worked very carefully, and told her name and
how that she was nineteen, and the day whereon she
died. Then he wrote, " Priez pour elk " ; and there was
still space. So he added, "Regrets eternels." Next he
HYACINTHE AND HONORINE 79
took his best gold and painted the semblance of tears
that had fallen here and there irregularly.
Habit ruled his mind as he made an end. He
always wanted Honorine to judge the things he
fashioned. Now, forgetting, he found himself consider-
ing what she would think of this.
Presently, as night darkened, he went out into a
lonely place above the cliffs. The moon arose from
behind Italy and Sirius ascended out of the sea. It
was their hour. Beneath them rolled great waves, that
murmured as they bent to the contour of the land and
advanced upon the shore in silvery semicircles of light
The glitter of the water made Hyacinthe think of
his golden tears. He sighed and wondered at himself
that he could weep none. Then he went home to his
wife and his baby.
THE SKIPPER'S BIBLE
" T T'S like this 'ere : the poor beggar's goin' to his
i. death without no sort of sky-piloting whatso-
ever. I looks after his body, feeds him 'andsome, but
his soul ā Lord knows that ain't in my line," said Dick
Ferris, the mate of the Flying Fish.
" No, nor yet in anybody's line aboard this ship,"
answered the carpenter.
The Flying Fish was an ungodly vessel. From her
Yankee captain, Joseph Greenleaf, to Richard Ferris,
an Englishman ā from her cook to her cabin-boy, her
ethical strength was low.
The ship bowled briskly through the Caribbean Sea,
bound for Kingston, Jamaica. She carried cargo and a
few passengers, to one of whom the words spoken by
Ferris had reference. He was a negro " decker," and
a man of some importance, judging from the fact that a
special erection of boards had been raised round him.
But the circumstance of capital crime alone raised
Black Neil to his present eminence. He now
approached the end of his voyage and his earthly
pilgrimage together. A fellow-Ethiopian's blood was
upon his head, sentence of death had been passed,
and the gallows waited for him at Kingston.
Nobody paid the doomed man much attention
excepting Dick Ferris. He, however, took lively
interest in Black Neil, listened to the recital of his
82 THE FOLK AFIELD
misdeeds, and considered the extent of his punishment
" It's like this 'ere," Dick explained to his friends,
" I don't say as how he didn't kill a man. He did, an'
you or me 'ud done the same in his place. His wife
ran away with another nigger, and he laid wait and put
daylight through him. Quite right too."
" I spoke to him yesterday," remarked the
carpenter. " I said, ' You're a mortal bad lot, Neil,
there's no denyin' of it ' ; and he said, ' Dat's so,
massa.' Then I said, 'They'll hang you, old man,
sure as eggs is eggs ; and why shouldn't they .^ ' And
he says, ' Yes, sar, dat's so. I's gwine to my 'count' "
" It's his future state as bothers him," declared
Dick Ferris, " Quite natural too. We may think he
ain't done much harm ā leastways I do ā but the law
says he has, so he'll die with a sin on his soul. An'
you bet they'll take the judge's word for it in the next
world, not a nigger's. Anyways, it's 'ard he can't have
no sky-piloting, 'cause he's a man, though black."
" You won't worry your head about niggers when
you've seen a bit more of 'em, Britisher," sneered a
misshapen seaman with a hairy head like a bull and a
" Maybe not, but they're a blamed sight better'n
some whites. 'Tain't everybody as kills a fellow-
creature's hanged, John Droop," answered Dick,
It happened that Mr Droop's past was open to
criticism at one or two points, so the mate's remark
restored peace and made the other seamen laugh.
Then Ferris strolled forward to see Black Neil.
The negro was sitting in his little temporary cabin
THE SKIPPERS BIBLE 83
on deck ā sitting chained with heavy irons, his elbows
on his knees, his head down between his hands.
" Well, how goes it ? Did you have the grub cook
sent along ? " asked Dick, lighting his pipe.
" Yes, tank you, massa. Plenty good grub, sar ;
but I don't want nuffin' to eat much."
" No. Sky-piloting is what you hankers arter,
boy. Natural enough too. But blame me if there's a
drop of that tap aboard. Have a whiff .-' "
"Tank you, massa ; don't want no 'bacco now."
Black Neil shook his head and looked out over the
blue waters with great, sunken eyes. He was an
elderly negro ; deep wrinkles already furrowed his face,
and his wool began to grow grey.
" It's berry bad, sar, feelin' you's all wrong wid Gor
A'mighty. I's damn bad lot, what nebber learnt
no prayers nor nuffin' ; and now I gib de world to
hear a minister speak up for me, or any udder gem'man
" Jus' so, jus' so," answered Dick. Then he sucked
his pipe and was silent.
Presently Neil spoke again.
" I'm a 'complished man, sar, in my way. I can
read plenty. If you got de Word now, or de book ob
hymn songs, seein' dar's no minister nor gem'man what
can pray, I might do 'long wid dem."
"Ain't no good books here, my son ; devil a one of
'em. An' you can read ! Well, that beats anything.
There's no man on this ere craft can read 'cept you an'
me, an' the skipper an' the cook."
" Hab dey got good books, sar ? "
" Not them ; leastways only navigation an' charts.
There ain't no sky-piloting in charts, I judge. Lord !
84 THE FOLK AFIELD
it's 'ard. Can't you manage a bit of a pray nohow ?
You'd feel easier like if you could."
The negro only shook his head again.
" I no pray widdout somefin to start me off, sar."
"Well, keep up your pecker, anyhow. I'll look
around. Maybe the deckers knows a hymn, or summat
of the sort, among 'em. But you did ought to have
taken your last cruise in another ship for sartin."
Then he rolled off to see if the Flying Fish contained
any shred or scrap of spiritual food for Black Neil.
When the members of the crew found that their
first mate extended such sympathy to the condemned
negro, they too, for the most part, showed a fragment
of humanity in their treatment of him. Men who
would have kicked a black from before them, like dirt,
under ordinary circumstances, felt that Black Neil's
peculiar position entitled him to a little respect. More-
over, they considered his punishment was altogether
excessive. He suffered for an action most of them
deemed praiseworthy. Fellow-negroes, also, would
peep over the partition which screened the culprit. If
the black warder who guarded him was out of the way,
they handed him bananas, sugar-cane, and like luxuries.
When the attendant sat in his place they would simply
roll their brown eyes and express pious hopes that their
brother had made his peace "wid de Lord."
But that was just what Black Neil had failed to do,
and was terribly anxious to do, and could see no possi-
bility of doing. Superstitious to the heart's core, and
in a measure fatalistic also, death had now become a
familiar idea, and its terrors were quite dwarfed and
dimmed by the more terrific certainty of what awaited
him beyond. He took his judge's word for it that he
THE SKIPPER'S BIBLE 85
was but a lost man ; and now, with frantic desire, he
yearned for some outlet to his penitence, for some
religious channel through which even he might crawl
within earshot of his outraged Maker. Heaven seemed
blind and dumb to the poor wretch. But when Ferris
left him, the memory of an old tune fell like a wakened
echo on Black Neil's ear. He could not recall the
words of the song ; he only recollected that they were
religious and treated of a golden shore. The air was
better than nothing, and he lifted up his voice and
whined the melody again and again to himself until
his guard ordered him to be silent.
That night Dick Ferris recounted his recent conver-
sation to an interested group.
" I told him," he said, in conclusion, " how to my
knowledge there weren't no such thing as a Bible aboard
this craft, nor yet a Prayer-book neither."
" Yes, there is, Mr Ferris," piped the cabin-boy.
" Eh ? Don't szy yoiive got one, Sprig t "
" No, I ain't ; but see this eye," and he pointed to
a big black bruise on his cheek ; " that came along of a
Bible. The boss have got one."
" The old man ! " exclaimed two or three men in
" He have. I was tidyin' his cabin round, puttin'
things ship-shape, and he sees me hanging on to the
shelf over his bunk, dustin' of it. There was a book
atop with a polished black cover, and I picked it up to
clean it. Then he says, ' Take your dirty paws off the
Word o' God, boy, and stop messin' round and get out
of here.' So I ups and says, meanin' no sauce, ' I was
cleanin' of the book, sir, as is a inch in dust and dirt.'
Then he lathered me proper for answering."
86 THE FOLK AFIELD
Nobody appeared much interested in Sprig's
personal experience, but the fact that Mr Greenleaf