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has been restored, but restored without
desecration. One of the bastions is mag-
nificently crowned with the chapel of
Charles VIII, a gem of art worthy to rank
with the best in the world. Here lies
Leonardo : he died at Amboise. There is
a bust of him in the grounds, done in his

old age, and with a sadness in the expres-
sion which seems to speak of a certain
sense of failure. It could hardly have
been otherwise with one touching the life
of the mind at all points. The bits of fine
Renascence workmanship are simply end-
less. Parts of the structure belong to the
best period, when France was not alto-
gether imder the intellectual dominion of
Italy, but was interpreting the new dis-
coveries of the new spirit in her own way.

The mere doorway of the chapel is
massed out in compartments, each a dec-
orative scheme. The main thing here is the
legend of St. Hubert ; but, after all, that is
only a sort of beginning of it, for, in the
spaces above, there are other exquisite
compositions, just as delicately done. And
inside, in a limited space that still suggests
ample distances by reason of its multipli-
city of fine things, there is a detail of a sort
of lace- work which is, in its way, altogether
beyond anything else ever done in stone.
I am not sure that it is a very good way.
It may have marked the beginning of the
passion for verisimilitude in uifies to which
we owe the futilities of the cheap Italian
sculpture of to-day. The chapel stands at
an angle of the battlement, on a height of
masonry giving a sheer fall into the moat,
with not a twig to clutch at on the way
down. Amboise is all delight— chiteau
and town. The interior of the main build-
ing culminates, in stately restoration, in a
hall in which the Algerian chief Abd-el-
Kader was confined as a prisoner of state
imder Napoleon III.

But this is only one of the " memories " ;
a far more gruesome one is the massacre
of Amboise. The massacre is another
bloody incident of the long struggle be-
tween Catholic and Protestant, and one of
the landmarks of history. It marked an
earlier stage of the troubles than the mur-
der of Guise, when the Huguenots hoped
they might do something by constitutional
agitation. Francis II was king, with Mary
of Scots for his wife, and the Guises ruled
him with a rod of iron. His weakness
made him a sort of plaything in their
hands. The Huguenots were foolish
enough to think that if they could secure
his person, in a tender, care-taking sort of
way, they might rescue him from this evil
tutelage, and put a stop to the persecutions
that threatened the country with ruin.
There was a plan for seizing Guise, but

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Color drawing: !)>• Jules Gucriii

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Guise got wind of it, and seized the others
instead, first luring them into the castle by
a solemn promise of a safe-conduct, to
which one of the princes of the blood swore
on " the damnation of his soul.'* Of course,
when once they had passed the gates, they
were seized and thrown into limbo. Then
their unhappy followers, lurking in the
neighborhood to carry out the patriotic
plot, were killed at sight in woods and
byways, in a hunt that lasted a whole
month. When this was over. Guise turned
on his prisoners, and had them brought
out for execution on the banks of the Loire.
Stands were put up, tier upon tier, to make
as brave a show for a deed of death, no
doubt, as the lists of Palamon and Arcite :

That swich a noble theatre as it was,

I dar wel seyn that in this world ther nas.

The whole country-side came to look
on: the trembling king, Mary Stuart,
Catharine, and the entire court had places
of honor in the gallery above. You may
walk in that gallery now and enjoy one of
the finest views in all France. On that
day what a scene ! The leaders, men of the
highest position and personal character,
came with great dignity to their death,
singing their Huguenot psalms, and gen-
erally making a most beautiful end. But
imagine it as a sort of spectacular per-
formance for the woman who was after-
ward to rule Scotland as queen !

Chevemy, another day's holiday, is
easily reached from Blois as a center. So
is Amboise, for that matter, only you must
take the train. Chevemy is an easy drive.
You pass the great bridge over the Loire,
and revel once more in the everlasting
repetitions of what may literally be called
the local color— the white villas, the blue
stream with its sands of golden bronze, the
blue sky above, flecked with white clouds.
With such omnipresent suggestion, the
tricolor, as a national emblem, was inevi-
table. You find its red, white, and blue
everywhere. In Paris, for instance, the
names of the streets are written in blue and
white ; so are the names of the shops, ex-
cept in the leading thoroughfares, where
the gold is almost obligatory.

The country on the far side of the Loire
is a good example of rural France at its
best. Its landscape is nothing like so trim
as the English ; it has not that peculiar air

of having been brushed and combed every
morning ; but it breathes prosperity every-
where. There is an all-abounding cultiva-
tion, as by profitably busy persons who
have no time for finishing touches. Fields,
fences, and hedges are sometimes ragged,
but the root of the matter is there. To pur-
sue the comparison with England, I should
say that the great difference is in the signs
of growth in the villages. In England, as a
rule, the village cannot grow ; it is denied
that luxury. Its population is limited as by
unwritten law, for the landowners have only
to keep down the number of houses to
keep down the number of residents. Even
the child as it comes into the world has a
sort of notice to quit, in the very circum-
stances of the case. As soon as it is old
enough to be packed off to one of the
great towns, it will have to go, for sheer
want of house-room. The landowners will
give no facilities for the rise of simple in-
dustries. Any kind of manufactory is quite
out of the question; the village remains
just what it was when first its natural growth
was stopped. It is now but an item in the
decorative scheme of an estate held by
persons who make their money elsewhere,
or have made it, by mine and ranch and
railroad, and who want their domestic
landscape clean and pretty to the view.

It is all so different here. Rural France
is also, in its spare time, manufacturing
France. Hundreds of industries are carried
on in the villages during the long winter,
and in other times of leisure, by men and
women and children. They turn out every-
thing, these farming folk, from celluloid
combs to fancy knitting and fine lace-work,
and their earnings as manufacturers add
considerably to their earnings as tillers of
the soil. They can get water-power when
they want it, — steam-power, too, for that
matter ; in some instances even electricity,
— and their work makes a huge fraction of
the national wealth.

The chdteau came in view presently. It
is the inhabited house at last— the house
built for nothing but shelter and the joy of
living, without a thought of defense. It
was a sort of second chance for Mansard,
for he built it ; but, having no temptation
to rivalry with a masterpiece, he made a
better job. It is not too big for virtue.
Beyond this scale of the mere country-seat,
—it is hardly more, though once a seat of
kings,— you must run into danger by aspir-

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ing to the lordship of the race. There is
no reason why a resident of Cheverny
should regard mankind as natural enemies
or as creatiu-es to be brought to heel. The
interior is delightfully habitable in its
tapestries, panels, fine old fireplaces, and
the foolish nothings of taste and fancy
that no doubt lie all about when the family
is in residence. There is fine carving every-
where, and plenty of color, though much

of it is too manifestly the work of the
modem paint-brush. It is all so peaceful
in suggestion, so urbane, that the occa-
sional armor looks out of place, even in
the guard-room. For the guard-room is
now a place to live in, like the rest Some
of the pictures are good : of the " Don
Quixote " series in the gallery and dining-
room, the less said the better, as works of


[see frontispiece]

I SAW a scarlet flash to-day ;
Was it a poppy blown away
Into the cherry-tree ?
Was it a bird ?— that sprite of fire,
Drop of sun's blood, heart of desire-
Summer's epitome ?



Author of " The Call of the Sea," " Kerrigan's Diplomacy," etc.


JETTY had spread a shawl on
the forward end of the house,
and, with her arm resting on
the slide of the companion-

way, sat with an unopened

book in her lap and looked out across the
shining sea. It was three bells or more,
and the morning sun was warm upon

her face, and painted with rainbow hues
the spray that the fresh northwest wind
cUpped from every toppling wave. The
brig was sliding down the seas like a boy
let loose from school, now dipping her
nose into a long roller with chuckling
hawse-pipes, now sinking into the blue hol-
lows, sending the sheeted spray outward
for yards as her counter came home with
a jarring thud. The spars whined unceas-

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ingly, but the sails, beUying in the steady
breeze, made scarcely a sound, save when
a sudden lurch spilled the wind from the
canvas, and it snapped Hke a great whip.

The scene, with the vividness of its new
sensations, now for the first time experi-
enced, impressed itsdf upon Drew'smind as
something wholly mysterious and strangely
moving. After the first night, when there
had been no sea, he had remained steadily
below, too ill to rise ; but the sickness had
now passed, and it was with only the un-
certainty of gait of one not yet accustomed
to the motion of the vessel that he had
made his way to the deck and looked out
over the watery world.

With a sense of aloofness, of absolute
separation, from aH that he had ever
known, he gazed about him. The words,

" Look'd at each other with a wild surmise,
Silent, upon a peak in Darien,"

flashed through his mind : the perfect poem
seemed strangely interpretative of his
mood. Then his gaze came back from
the notched and leaping horizon to the
sflent figure of Hetty, and with the lifting
spirit of a mind released from the oppres-
sion of a strange and portentous solitude,
he clumsily made his way to her side, glad
for companionship.

She looked up brightly.

" Oh,** she said, " I was wishing for some
one to enjoy it with. I tried to get my
mother, but she would not come up. She
said she could ^5?^'/ it ; that was enough for
ho-. I hope it is not enough for you."

" No," he answered; "there is more in
seeing it : it is strange and overwhelming.
I am inland-bred, you know: I feel as if
all known things had passed away."

"To me it is like coming home," she
declared. " I cannot remember when it
was not familiar. Now it is like lifting
theiatch of the door at home after a long

He shook his head, smiling.

** 1 cannot imagine any one thinking of
it as companionable, as a part of actual
experience. I need hills and old trees and
remembered turns in roads to feel the in-
timacy of the world. This is strange and
beautiful, but leaves me an alien. It is like
a kaleidoscope : nothing is twice the same."

" I do not care for tidings that are twice
the same," she told him. " Here something
is always likely to happen. The only cer-

tain thing I know of to-morrow is that we
shall have plum-duff." She laughed.

He looked at her, gravely smiling.

" A certain noble discontent — you know
the thought— is well ; but — " he was think-
ing of her mother's concern, and her words
carried him toward it; yet he hesitated,
doubtful if it might not be too soon to
speak — "but constant change means lack
of purpose, does n't it ? If you set your
heart on something, — something vastly dif-
ferent from anything you have ever known,
—it will be fruitless of good unless per-
sisted in— imless it wears grooves in your
life. A mere impulse for change is to be dis-
trusted." He smiled and added: " Don't
think that I cannot give over preaching."

" I know what you mean," replied the
girl, looking seaward with troubled eyes.
" I suppose mother has told you what I
wish. But it is n't a mere desire for change,
and everybody's disapproval only makes
me more eager to go. Is n't that a proof
that the desire is something to be obeyed
— a real call ? How can I be sure that it
is not, unless I try ? Do you think me a
silly person ? " She looked at him with a
suggestion of defiance, but smilingly, too.

" I should be the last one to think that."
he told her. " Only look at it from all sides
—that is all your friends can ask."

" Not father," she answered laughingly.
" If I can be made to look at it from his
point of view, he will willingly spare me
the rest. Poor father ! But let 's not speak
of it," she went on. " Look ! the Mother
Carey's chicken ! "

She pointed to the bird, the black-and-
white litde creature which always seems to
be hmrying home, wherever it may be.
Far to the southeast a trail of smoke from
an imseen steamer blotched the white sky.
On the main-deck the second mate and a
sailor were patching a topsail; from the
galley drifted aft the cheerful whistling of
the steward, like a flock of blackbirds, and
the homelike sound of rattling pans. Only
the man at the wheel was aft, now bending
to the spokes, now glancing at the binnacle,
and now turning his eye aloft to the luff
of the mainsail. It was the morning of the
third day out.

Drew was silent so long that she tinned
a troubled face to him.

" You must not think that I do not care
for your advice," she said gently ; " I do —
shall, some day. Just now I cannot bear

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to speak of my disappointment. It was n't
a sudden impulse ; it was a part of my life,
and it must be given up, perhaps. After
a little, when I can collect my scattered
forces, if you can help me — " She smiled

" I know, I know," he hastened to say.
" But I was really thinking of something
quite different— that three days ago I had
not even seen you ; now our lives seem
intimately near. Only at sea could that

" Yes," she agreed ; " people grow into
friendship quickly at sea— and grow apart
as quickly. I have heard my father say
that it is a reason for the cruelty and
harshness on shipboard — that men's tem-
pers become warped when they cannot
escape from one another and they find no
common ground for companionship. He
says there have been times when he fairly
hated a mate of his. On shore they might
have been intimate for years without an un-
pleasant thought."

" Let us hope that we may escape that
disaster," he said, with a smile.

He wondered if Medbviry had been in
her thoughts. They had scarcely spoken,
he had observed. He himself had seen
little of the younger man, and he was quite
prepared to rate him her inferior, in spite
of his physical attractiveness. He seemed
a mere boy in his impulses; he doubted
not that he would keep his boyishness to
the end of life. Certainly, he told himself,
he was lacking in her capacity for growth.

Meanwhile his own first opinion of her
beauty had not changed ; it was as appa-
rent as ever, he told himself, and had taken
on an added grace with his widening
knowledge of her many changing moods.
As he gazed at her now he had an impres-
sion of distinction, but distinction united
with a certain gentleness that, he told him-
self, was rare. Her face was in profile, and
the mouth, clear-cut and undrooping, had
the softness of outline that he associated
with good temper. Her eyes, though now
sad, had the same gentle look. He liked
her thick brown hair and the clear oval of
her face : they gave him the impression of
harmony. In spite of his first feeling of
attraction for Medbury, he felt that the
girl hesitated wisely; he could see no
road by which the two could travel as
equal companions. That Medbury's hopes
seemed destined to be shattered did not

move him greatly; for rarely to the mas-
culine onlooker is the disappointed lover
a tragic figure. One has seen him play his
game and lose ; now let him bear the loss

They did not speak of her desire again
that day ; indeed, eight days passed before
he ventured to refer to it. Meanwhile they
had become great friends. The pleasant
weather had held, and they had rolled
down the long, smooth seas, which daily
seemed to grow bluer, under a sky that
remained cloudless.

It was morning again, the morning of
the eleventh day out, and they sat in the
same place, with much the same scene
about them, though now with a tropical
softness flooding the world, and less
heeded as their thoughts turned more to
themselves. He had been reading aloud
while she worked at some trifle, but sud-
denly he closed the book.

" That is enough of other men's dreams,"
he said. " What of yours ? "

She did not even look up as she replied :

" Mine are poor enough ; I prefer those
of others. Besides, I have scarcely thought
of them for days."

" Are they less insistent ? " he asked.

"Don't! "she appealed. "Don't! lam
not yet ready to face them. I have lost
my courage."

"I will say no more," he said; "but I
had thought that you seemed different—
ready to surrender. I had hoped so."

She looked up now.

"Are you against me, too?" she de-

" Can you believe that ? " he asked. " I
had thought that I was for you — as we
all are."

She smiled.

" You are all making it very hard for
me," she told him.

A step sounded on the forward com-
panion way, and Medbury appeared. He
glanced past them to the man at the wheel,
looked aloft, then walked slowly to the
break of the deck. Suddenly he came back
and seated himself on the comer of the
house near them. Apparently he had
wearied of self-suppression.

He was manifestly trying to appear
wholly at ease, and he began to talk at
once, and very rapidly, like one repeating
a speech that had been learned by heart.
He spoke of the wind and the run of the

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vessel, and he told them that they had
not touched a sheet for more than sixty
hours. He said he hoped that it would
last, though he added tJiat he doubted it
" When ought we to get out, Tom ? "
asked Hetty. She bit off her thread as she
^K)ke, and, spreading her work on her lap,
examined it absent-mindedly.

" If the wind holds, in four or five days,"
he answered ; " but I 'm afraid it won't.
The sea 's beginning to look oily now ; the
snap has gone out of the wind. We *11 be
slatting and rolUng in a dead calm by the
middle of the afternoon. I noticed the
change in my bunk, and could n't sleep."
" I thought sailors could always sleep."
This was Hetty's contribution to the con-
versation as she still studied her work.
•* Well, I could n't," he answered.
" Then we maybe three weeks going out,"
said Drew. ** It seems like a long time."

•* I was a hundred and twenty days on
my last voyage— from Singapore," said

** I am beginning to grasp the reason
for the sailor's rapt, far-seeing look," said
Drew. "It is not strange that he never
loses it, with his constant study of invisi-
ble signs and meanings. But a hundred
and twenty days ! What changes may take
place in that time ! "

**We find changes enough," Medbury
answered. " Sometimes I think we sailors
are the only things that do not change,
except to grow older and sadder. We al-
ways hope to find everything just as we
left it, but we never do."

Hetty looked steadily seaward, and a
fine flush came to her face ; but Drew was
struck with the philosophy of the situation.
" That surely ought to be true," he ac-
quiesced— "that the sailor is the most
unchanging of men. One should come
back wiser in sea-lore, but solitude and the
singleness of his purpose should keep him
untouched by all the distractions that
change other men. I 've noticed in Black-
water the freshness of spirit, almost boy-
ishness, of old men."

Hetty's face was turned forward, and
now she leaped to her feet.

" What ts that, Tom ? " she exclaimed.
"We are running on a sand-bar! "

A hundred yards ahead of them
stretched a great golden-brown field that
looked like a salt-meadow in April. Above
it wheeled a flock of sea-birds.

Medbury scarcely tamed his head.

"Sargasso weed," he answered, and
grinned. " It 's always waltzing about in
these latitudes."

The girl walked to the main-rigging,
and, leaning across the sheer-pole, watched
the yellow plain with wondering eyes. A
moment later, as they plunged into it, she
caught her breath; it seemed incredible
to her that there should be no shock.

Instantly the sounds of the sea were
hushed ; there was only the soft hissing of
the weed as it swept past the side of the

"Come up to the forecastle-deck and
see it pile up on the bow," Medbury said
to the girl.

She did not stir.

-Won't you come?"

" No," she answered.

He leaned across the sheer-pole with
her a moment in silence. The bell forward
struck four sharp strokes ; it was like a cry
in the night. Then a sailor came lurching
aft to relieve the man at the wheel.

"Is it always going to be like this,
Hetty?" Medbury asked her in a low

" I suppose so."

" You want it so ? "

" I said, * I suppose so.' "

"It 's the same thing," he remarked
drearily, and sighed.

The sigh seemed to irritate her, for she
turned upon him suddenly.

"Why did you speak like that— before
a stranger ? "

" Like what ? " he asked in astonishment.

"About coming home unchanged, and
finding nothing as you had left it. Of
course he knew what you meant. And it
was n't true, for I have not changed. I
could have sunk through the deck for

" Oh, tAatr he replied. " Iff did n't un-
derstand ; he thought it was a text."

" A text! " She turned away in scorn.

A moment he stood looking outboard
with unseeing eyes; then he stooped and
drew a boat-hook from the slings beneath
the rail.

" Would n't you like to have a piece ? "
he asked, pointing to the seaweed.

She hesitated a moment, and then came
back to his side.

" Yes," she said.

He drew in a great bunch and spread it

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at her feet, and she picked up a bit with
dainty fingers.

" It 's no longer beautiful," she said in
disappointment, and dropped it on the

" No,*' he answered soberly, and tossed
the weed back into the sea.

" We may and may not,*' he answered.
"It 's hard to say.'*

"Could it be a hurricane coming?"
she asked with awe.

He laughed.

" Have n*t you ever heard the sailors'
rhymes about hurricanes in the West In-
dies ? " he asked.

The wind died out, as he had predicted,
and all the afternoon the brig rolled on
the long swells, which hourly grew heavier.
They leaped against the horizon, swung
onward beneath the keel, and swept past
with the unrelenting persistency that
seemed the embodiment of vindictive hate.
A gale can be combated, but, in the grasp
of a calm, man is helpless. Every part of
the vessel cried out in protest. The canvas
slatted and flapped like the wings of a
huge bird vainly trying to rise from the
waves; every block rattled and croaked;
the main-boom, hauled chock aft, snatched
at its sheets with a viciousness that threat-
ened to part them at every roll and made
their huge blocks crash; from the pantry
below came the constant rattle of crock-
ery ; and the blue sea, dipped up through
the scuppers, swashed back and forth
across the main-deck. By eight bells every
stitch of canvas had been furled or clued
up to save it, and the brig lay rolling in
the dark hollows like a drunken sailor
reeling home.

At dusk Hetty made her way to the for-
ward companionway, and seating herself
on the sill, with her hands clasped about
the guard-rail, looked out across the watery
waste. The line of her eyes, parallel with
the deck, saw the stars fly downward till
they seemed to vanish in the sea, which
suddenly seemed to tower like a huge
black wall above the brig ; then suddenly it

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 25 of 120)