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"It is not possible."
"Why is it not possible? Do you suppose Helen's face was only beautiful to her contemporaries? Everything in nature renews itself."
This idea, or one exactly like it, had already been made use of on my visit to la Querciaia. It was I who had expressed it first, and he looking at my hands, had thought perhaps that they resembled those of his great-grandmother.
How far away all that seemed, and yet only two months had gone. The end of this day seemed sadder than usual. Since I was alone, we had gone back a little to our old habits. Ursula and Pietro came now and then into the salon, trying to divert my melancholy with simple pleasantries which I had known by heart for a quarter of a century, and which could no longer amuse me. I was seized with a kind of terror at the sight of these two beings who had grown old together so peacefully in my house, as unmovable as the two stone vases on the pillars of the iron gate. How many frosts had fallen on them, how many times the almond trees had blossomed, the birds ad sung, the butterflies had sported in the hedge, the box trees had poured out their fragrance in the forest, and they had asked nothing more from life. Youth had not touched them, old age seemed to have barely reached them, and death waited for them with the open arms of a mother. Once, in a moment of tenderness, I asked them if they had never been in love. The woman said no, the man smiled. Which of them told the truth? I had iearned, nevertheless, the unspeakable melancholy of things. My salon reminded me of a cemetery full of crosses; beside the window I wept the illusions fled, on the crimson threads of my embroidery silks; by the piano, the passionate tones of the song I had longer courage to sing. A little box that he sometimes trifled with as we talked, a cup of bronze he had admired, the place where he used to sit, the chair that he liked best, all these things seemed like stopping places on the path
where we had walked together. I said to myself: "It is done; we shall walk there no more." Yes, I felt it all was irrevocably finished, without rapture, without fault, almost without struggle finished.
The regularity of the gradation by which my cousin made his visits constantly fewer and shorter, betrayed the deliberateness of his calculation, and I lost the last lingering hope of a friendly explanation. There was sometimes such ferocity in his indifference, such hardness in his disdain, he took such pleasure in saying whatever he thought would wound me most, that I was relieved when the end of his visit came, and I bade him farewell with the utmost coldness and indiffer
But it is also true that I struggled with a wild desire to embrace his knees, which horrified me, and when he had gone began again to long for his return. This double life, the violent repressions which could not prevent the existence of my love, injured my health. I could not conceal it, and it was another means by which he could make me suffer. He said my husband was right to leave me in the country, that women were incomplete creatures, a constant obstacle in any strong career, "except"-he added these words with redoubled cruelty-"except a few embodiments of vigorous youth which one must always admire and love."
One wan afternoon in the end of autumn, I was half lying on my divan. As I saw him I tried to rise, pushing back the fur robe that covered me.
"Do not rise, do not rise," said he. "I am quite accustomed to such things now; my neighbor is always ill. That is one of the reasons why I can see you so seldom. I devote all the time at my disposal to her. That is right, is it not?" There was something so hard in his voice that I would not notice it. "Undoubtedly," I answered.
"You are very much flushed."
"It must be a passing color, for I am
rather cold than hot. Winter begins badly this year."
"Not at all; it is splendid weather for a walk; however, one must be in health. Miss Emma-did I tell you the young lady was called Emma?"
"I do not know; I do not remember." "Emma! the prettiest name that I know. Do you not think it is a pretty name?"
I did not think so, but a feeling of pride prevented me from contradicting flatly. He insisted, "Is it not so? Is it not so? Say that it is a pretty name."
Then I answered indifferently, "If it gives you pleasure, but you must know it is a matter of opinion."
"She is the living image of spring! She does not feel the winter. She needs to move about, to walk. Her mother permits me to accompany her sometimes to the end of the meadowno farther, you understand-but these walks are delightful. Sometimes she goes in front with her beautiful swaying figure, sometimes she stands at my side, intoxicating me with her nearness, with the fresh odor of violets which some girls have. It is strange, but now when I look at you, you look pale."
"Do not notice it."
"Your nerves, I suppose."
"Yes, very probably."
So far I had been able to answer him, but a ringing in my ears and a mist over my eyes, made it impossible for me to follow the thread of the conversation. He could not know it, how ever, because I had drawn the fur half over my face and hands. Perhaps he had an impulse of compassion; he delicately arranged the covering around my arms, and I saw in his eyes a ray of the old kindness. I trembled all over and was afraid of myself. How I loved him, since only the touch of his hand could make me happy in spite of so many humiliations!
"Myriam," he said, to test me, as if he were already sorry for his gentleness, "you do not object to my taking you for my confidant."
"Why should I object? I am always she whom you have known."
"She who received you a year ago as her only kinsman, and to whom you showed the way to higher truths."
A long silence followed my words; I could have believed for an instant that we were back again in those dear and solemn talks of the past. Suddenly he exclaimed, "You do not know life! You know nothing, absolutely noth
"Alas," I answered almost involuntarily, "I fear so."
He continued to speak with violence. "Have you even a faint idea of the rights of a man, of his position face to face with existence? Do you know what struggles, what combats are necessary for him? Do you know that his heart is an ardent focus of love? Oh! do not interrupt me! Do not speak to me of your womanish loves made up of tears and sacrifices- In love we wish always to triumph, always to be victorious, and when we fail, our hearts are large enough to find room for hate and vengeance. Poor silly creatures who talk of pardon in the same way that they would reach forth a helpless little hand to put out a conflagration with a cup of water!"
As he said these words he rose. His face wore a sort of fierce sadness, his lips were pressed together, his eyes flashed forth the fire in his heart. Never had I loved him so much as at this moment-I saw and accepted his most intimate thoughts, I took them on myself, into my heart; I understood his struggles, his sadness, his pain. My heart rushed out to him with an irresistible but hidden energy-I wished to speak but I could not say a word.
"I weary you, I will go," he said with a protecting gentleness as if his excitement had calmed him. "Get well."
I gave him my hand in silence; he took it without pressing it. He said, "Are you still cold?" and when I shook my head he turned to leave the room, but he had taken only a step or two, when he looked back.
"Shall I send Ursula ?"
I made an effort to smile. "Thank you; I am well."
In the presence of his strength mine was revealed to me; before h.s small masculine pride, my conscience showed me the way to the nobler pride from which sprang so much of my courage, and my faith. Give, and continue to give-give more than you receive, more than you can hope for-is not that the divine secret of love? Give much and give the best, that is more than giving, because it implies choice and
their places at my little boy and nodded
The end of November was approaching, a cold grey November, clothing everything with sadness; nevertheless as I walked along beneath the half naked aspens whose foliage had long ago made a carpet of brown and gold beneath the trees, there was in me an unusual vitality that made me hold my head high, and breathe in the sharp, almost wintry air, with delight. My cloak was a little too thin, and I drew it round me with an inward sensation of physical resistance in perfect harmony with my lot.
I went lightly up the steep path, and down the grassy declivity to the church door. An old blind man who had lived there for twenty years, recognizing either my step or the sound of my dress, said "Peace be with you," and I recognized it as an augury for good. As I found my way to my seat, through the groups of kneeling women who made room for me to pass, I saw two ladies standing near the holy water basin, one old, the other young. It was
Our village church is very small and not necessary to ask who they were; very old. Built height, one the beating of my heart told me that. reaches it by a steep path where the I groped my way to my seat and fell on grass grows between the stones, and it my knees and hid my face in my hands. is sweet to pass there in the pale morn- This must have been the first time they ing, or in the sunny afternoons, with a had come to church, for I had never mind at peace, and a heart full of faith. seen them there before. The feeble figI loved my little church dearly. My ure of the old lady and her emaciated parents were married there, and there I face preserved traces of a noble was baptized and married; and many beauty on which long and fatal sickdreams and aspirations of mine had ness had set the sacred sign of death; floated upwards on the clouds of in- it was a face that inspired confidence. cense, and the roses offered to the Ma- Of the daughter I only saw the tall, donna. I knew it like the palm of my slender, elegant figure as my cousin hand, with its grey walls, lined with had described it. But during the mass wood, and the one altar of greenish I felt her presence constantly, with the stucco, with the statues of the four uncomfortable sensation of some one apostles. I knew it was not beautiful observing me critically whom I could but it seemed so to me because I loved not see. The divine office was hardly it. Every Sunday I took my seat finished when I went out. Outside on the family bench with Ursula and little the deserted esplanade I stopped to Alexis, and the time I passed there was breathe in the cold, sharp air, which revery calm and sweet, in the midst of freshed me greatly. the good men and women of the village. I knew them all; they smiled from
What did their coming prove?
rably, as it must happen! "O God," I cried, "give me strength to the very end!" The worshippers began to crowd out of the church, and I hurried away, disappearing beneath the trees.
From The Contemporary Review. HUSBANDRY IN THE GREEK DRAMATISTS.
In the spring, when the new wine was first drawn off, the great festival of Dionysus was held, with appropriate hymns and with songs and games, in which the young men contended for the prize of a goat. This is looked upon as the origin of the Greek drama, the word tragedy meaning, of course, a goat-song. There were matches between the villages, and one village or one company of singers or one single singer became more famous than the rest. Then dialogue was introduced, beginning probably in a sort of chaff
that filled the interludes between the choric songs, and in this way the local folk-fêtes of rural Attica prepared the way for Eschylus. When, however, the drama became a great literary and patriotic institution, it became the possession of townspeople who had great sympathy with country life and things.
Athens, the violet-crowned, was as far as possible from having the significance of smoke and darkness of a modern metropolis; how far, any one can still realize who stands in that alley in the king's garden where, above the lovely leafage of bay and myrtle, ilex and oleander, the temples of the Acropolis suddenly appear against the clear sky, nothing else of the outer world being visible, while the faint hum of the modern city is drowned in the song of nightingales. Nevertheless, morally as well as materially, town it was, in the most intense sense of the word; and it is doubtful if the Athenians would have appreciated an attempt to "bring the scent of the hay across the foot-lights." We cannot expect to learn very much about contemporary agriculture from the Greek dra
matists, though such hints as are to be gathered from them on the subject are by no means without value.
Eschylus was the first writer to scout the idea of an early golden era, and to recognize that primitive man had a life so hard and miserable that the most unlucky of his descendants might own himself to be better off. His description of human beings before Prometheus: came to their aid has been truly said to be a correct account of the Stone Age. In the "Persians" Eschylus describes a service for the dead such as in his day was certainly often performed by the pastoral or village Hellenes, whose ritual the poet transported among their enemies without any pangs of conscience. The beautiful lines refer to the libation:
Milk from the flawless firstling of the herd,
Honey, the amber soul of perfumed meads, And water sparkling from its maiden
Here, too, the juice of immemorial vine
So fair an offering might cheer the saddest ghost! Fain would one forget that the same people could represent their heroes as gratified by the Dahomey slaughter of innocent girls upon Rites of the sort mentheir tombs. tioned by Eschylus formed the rusticobsequies both in Greece and in Italy. To this day, in the island of Sardinia,. where many ancient customs are preserved, flowers and simple fruits, such as nuts, are thrown into the open grave.
Not remote among the landscapes of a golden age but present in the fairyland which is somewhere-somewhere on this actual earth, is the country by the sea of Sophocles, a dream that, out of childhood, knows that It is a dream and yet delights the dreamer:
. . where each day is matured The plant of Bacchus. In the morning's sheen
With blooming growth the land luxuriates, Then by midday the unripe fruit expands And as day wanes the clusters purple o'er;
In the same play the evil ways of Egypt are reproved where men sit indoors weaving at the loom, and their wives earn their daily bread abroad in the fields; one of the many proofs that in Greece women were put to do no hard outdoor work, though the girls helped in gathering the grapes. In one or two places Sophocles speaks of horses or mules ploughing, and it seems that by the better-to-do peasants or landowners they were preferred to oxen. The colts were allowed to run wild till they were of an age to work, when the advent of their servitude was marked by their manes being cut short, a barbarous operation against which Sophocles' generous spirit revolted. "I mourn for my tresses," runs one of his fragments, "as doth a filly who, caught and carried off by the herdsman, hath her chestnut mane shorn from her neck by a rugged hand in the horse-stables, and then turned into a meadow with limpid brooks, sees her image clearly reflected with all her mane disgracefully shorn off. Who, however ruthless, would not pity her, as she crouches affrighted, driven mad by shame, groaning for her vanished mane?" Horse-breeding must have presented serious difficulties in a country so generally arid as Greece was even then; the best horses were brought over from Asia Minor, and the race deteriorated after a few generations. That Athens could all the same be addressed
as the "breeder of horses," shows that the conviction of the national importance of the horse induced the Athenians to overcome all obstacles, and also, probably, that the country people of
Attica were led to give great care and
attention to horse-breeding by the high prices offered for good animals.
Far from the early Greek mind was
the contempt for the cultivator which
generated a vocabulary of ugly names, boor, clout, clodhopper with many more, and turned vilain into villain. But the amenities of civilization and the overwhelming weight attached to purely intellectual development tend towards the depreciation of the peasant, whose philosophy is not of the Schools, and Euripides, perhaps, gave expression to a growing sentiment when he made his Hector say, as Homer's Hector would not have said:
Full prone the mind of rustics is to folly.
But in justice to Euripides it should not be forgotten that he created one beautiful peasant type; a type that has grown into a literary race of highminded peasants or serfs whose derivation often passes unnoticed. Euripides never drew a more distinct character, though the touches are few, than that of Auturgus to whom Ægisthus married Electra in the hopes that the slur of so unfitting an alliance might prevent her from getting her rights as Agamemnon's daughter. Clytemnestra would have probably objected to her being killed; the next best thing, Ægisthus thought, was to marry her below her rank. But Auturgus defeated the device by becoming simply the respectful protector of the royal maiden. He is called "old," but it is clear that he was not much more than middle-aged as he is not past doing hard and incessant work. Though poor, he comes of a noble stock, a statement that does not affect his position as a true peasant any more than the kidnapping story about Eumæus made him less of a swine-herd. Very likely it was all true. How many illustrious names are owned by Italian peasants; nay, in how many cases it is known that only two or three generations ago a peasant family which now lives on polenta would have been recog