Page images
PDF
EPUB

“All," said he. " What Its hospitality was not new would you like to eat? There to us, for this barrack at are snails.”

Daphnais was the fifth in As usual, there was no cause which we

had stayed, but to regret obedience to the com- wonder never died away

at mands so tactfully expressed. the warmth of welcome given The snails were delicious, but to guests whose arrival meant when they were finished there that their hosts must sleep in came the sad reflection that the stable. For the bare the afternoon was wearing on, boards of the upper storey, the roads momentarily becom- divided into two by a rough ing worse, the rain was not partition, and often with no stopping, and that we still glass in the windows, form had two hours to go. (Cretan the only living - room of the journeys are measured not by sergeant and his men, and the their distance in miles but by ground floor is given over to the number of hours they take horses and occasional prisoners. to accomplish, a system less Thither went the gendarmes, misleading to the traveller.) and thence would proceed, at

So we took the road again, the word of Monsieur Gallance, the more stout-heartedly for certain of life's necessaries, our entertainment.

although even for him it was Daylight had been gone for easier to procure wine than & an hour before we reached the washing-basin. village of Daphnais. So often But when arrived at had the gendarme declared, Daphnais Monsieur Gallance “ Ten minutes more and we was not with us, but someare there,” that we seriously where in the rain and darkness began to fear he had lost which we had left behind outhis way, but it was really the side, and we confronted our condition of the road which hosts alone. delayed us. Darkness hid it, They were sitting, eleven of but the weary effort of the them, round a pot of charcoal mules to drag their feet from when we burst into their midst. the terrible stiff clay showed I have a dim impression of clearly enough what it was gigantic for

was gigantic forms in blue uni- . like. At last the lights of forms hurling themselves upon the village shone through the us and seizing our wet coats, driving rain, and we saw that but the sudden light and we had separated and that warmth were confusing, and Monsieur Gallance and the the first clear picture is of muleteers were not in sight. ourselves sitting over the charWe rode up the narrow street coal, while its rightful owners until we saw against the sky busied themselves in the backthe dim shape of a house, ground with the preparing of which we knew was probably supper-table and beds. Visions the gendarmerie post, often the of food and rest were like only two-storeyed building in a dreams of paradise, though a village.

little marred by the absence

we

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of Monsieur Gallance, until The English answered most we heard the wooden stair emphatically that they did, outside creak under & foot- and hastily recounted the hisstep.

The door opened, let tory of the Duke of Clarence in gust of

wind and and the manner of his end, as wet, and he stood before us. & proof of the good taste of From head to heel he was their nation in the matter of stiff with clay, nothing re- Cretan wines.

Cretan wines. This story had cognisable about him but his an immense success, and everyblue eyes and

and his

his cheerful body laughed loud and long. laugh.

Monsieur Gallance added that “Where have you been, it was indeed some little time Monsieur Gallance ?"

since the thing had happened. “Behind, with the mules. “No matter," said the serThey became troublesome in geant. “I have heard that the dark. It was well I was there are others in England there

to help. As to my still, not unlike that Prince you capote, see, it is ruined, and tell me of." the joke of it is that it was a These gendarmes were shrewd new one."

observers, men of the hills That was the whole of his mostly, keenly interested in explanation, but later we made the wider world beyond their out with difficulty that there mountains, and knowing not a had been great deal of little of its doings. Many an trouble and some danger at a interesting conversation arose narrow part of the road when between them and Monsieur one of the mules had slipped, Gallance, after supper, when and Monsieur Gallance's horse, we shared coffee and cigaralways very excitable, had ettes. become quite unmanageable. Gossip and politics, questions But his manner of describing about England, histories of it implied that the incident Crete, tales of things seen and had been fraught with an ex- done by Turk and Christian, quisite humour which all should such were the topics of the regret having missed. That talk. Often Monsieur Gallance evening was a merry one, per- would become too much abhaps because it was the last of sorbed to translate, until our all, for three hours' riding next impatient interruptions of day brought us to Candia and “What does he say?” recalled civilisation.

him to his duties. Or the Our hosts had some bottles gendarme would be too anxious of Malvoisie wine, which the to finish his tale to wait till it sergeant brought out and was properly done into French. poured into our glasses. So the Babel of tongues went

“He would like to know if on, each night in a slightly the English care for Mal- different setting, yet the memvoisie?” said Monsieur Gal- ories of all these hours are the lance, smiling at the murmured same in their essentials : of the question.

group round the lamp in the

a

[ocr errors]

bare and comfortless room, of great walls, which arose high the broad-shouldered sergeant up above the plain. “Thalassa! leaning forward into the circle Thalassa !” shouted the mule

! of light, emphasising a point boys, pointing eagerly forward with the stump of his cigarette, to the blue sea beyond. of Monsieur Gallance nodding It was indeed the sea once comprehension and throwing in more, the sea over which only comments and explanations. a short while before we had

We looked from one to an- come to the place which we other, at the eager faces and now felt we could never bear expressive dark features of the to leave for ever. For truly Cretans, and tried hard to pick Crete has a magic to hold and up for ourselves a word or two compel the traveller who has of the torrent of Greek. Be- once trodden her stony ways yond, in the dim corners where and lived in the golden light of the rifles were stacked, and her valleys. As she first apagainst the walls hung with peared to us in the dawn of cartridge-belts and handcuffs, a spring morning, with the incongruous marks of the glow of sunrise flushing the daily calling of our kindly snows of the White Mountains, hosts, other gendarmes would until the very last evening stand and sit, and come and when we rowed away from her go, sometimes adding a word in the dark, over a phosphoror a laugh to the conversation, escent sea, she was entirely or watching for a while to see lovable.

We stood upon the if anything was needed. deck of the ship and watched

These were supper - parties the summer lightning glimmerworth remembering, and it was ing upon the dim walls and sad that they always ended fortresses of Candia, built by early, for we took the road Venice so long ago, until the betimes in the morning. In- night had

night had swallowed them ducements to linger in bed quite up. were not strong, and when once “We will come back," we the sun was up there were en- said to each other, just as we chantments enough outside. had said to Monsieur Gallance But the turning of a pleasant when we parted from him. page is a melancholy thing, Probably he did not believe it, and our last ride was not over for he shook his head and said gay. We had no welcome for it was more likely that he the broad high-road when we would come to us. Who knew came to it, no pleasure in meet- the future? The Powers were ing the first wheeled carriage to evacuate Crete, and would we had seen in eight days, for Canea be the place for a peacethese things meant Candia and able Frenchman after the troops the end of the journey, and, were gone? worst of all, good-bye to Mon- We could not tell him, for sieur Gallance. Much too soon would not the solving of that we saw the towers and minarets problem be the answer to the of the city crowded within its whole Cretan Question ?

THE TRAMP TRANSFIGURED.1

(AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF A CORN-FLOWER MILLIONAIRE.

BY ALFRED NOYES.

I.

ALL the way to Fairyland across the thyme and heather,

Round a little bank of fern that rustled on the sky, Me and stick and bundle, sir, we jogged along together,

(Changeable the weather? Well—it ain't all pie !) Just about the sunset-Won't you listen to my story ?

Look at me! I'm only rags and tatters to your eye! Sir, that blooming sunset crowned this battered hat with glory! Me that was a crawling worm became a butterfly

(Aint it hot and dry? Thank you, sir, thank you, sir!) a blooming butterfly.

II.

Well, it happened this way! I was lying loose and lazy,

Just as of a Sunday, you yourself might think no shame, Puffing little clouds of smoke, and picking at a daisy,

Dreaming of your dinner, p’raps, or wishful for the same : Suddenly, around that ferny bank there slowly waddled

Slowly as the finger of a clock her shadow cameSlowly as a tortoise down that winding path she toddled, Leaning on a crooked staff, a poor old crooked dame,

Limping, but not lame,
Tick, tack, tick, tack, a poor old crookéd dame.

III.

Slowly did I say, sir? Well, you've heard that funny fable

Consekint the tortoise and the race it give an 'are? This was ouriouser than that! At first I wasn't able

Quite to size the memory up that bristled thro' my hair : Suddenly, I'd got it, with a nasty shivery feeling, While she walked and walked and yet was not a bit more

near, Sir, it was the tread-mill earth beneath her feet a-wheeling Faster than her feet could trot to heaven or anywhere,

Earth's revolvin' stair Wheeling, while my way-side clump was kind of anchored

there.

* Copyright, 1909, by Alfred Noyes, in the United States of America.

IV.

Tick, tack, tick, tack, and just a little nearer,

Inch and 'arf an inch she went, but never gained a yard : Quiet as a fox I lay, I didn't wish to scare 'er, Watching thro' the ferns, and thinking “What a rum old

card !” Both her wrinkled tortoise eyes with yellow resin oozing, Both her poor old bony hands were red and seamed and

scarred ! Lord, I felt as if myself was in a public boozing, While my own old woman went about and scrubbed and charred!

Lord, it seemed so hard !
Tick, tack, tick, tack, she never gained a yard.

V.

Yus, and there in front of her-I hadn't seen it rightly

Lurked that little finger-post to point another road, Just a tiny path of poppies twisting infi-nite-ly Through the whispering seas of wheat, a scarlet thread that

showed White with ox-eye daisies here and there and chalky cobbles,

Blue with waving corn-flowers : far and far away it glowed, Winding into heaven, I thinks; but, Lord, the way she

hobbles, Lord, she'll never reach it, for she bears too great a load;

Yus, and then I knowed, If she did, she couldn't, for the board was marked No Road.

VI.

[ocr errors]

Tick, tack, tick, tack, I couldn't wait no longer:

Up I gets and bows polite and pleasant as a toff“ Arternoon,” I says, “I'm glad your boots are going stronger;

Only thing I'm dreading is your feet 'ull both come off.” Tick, tack, tick, tack, she didn't stop to answer,

"Arternoon, she says and sort o chokes a little cough, “I must get to Piddinghoe to-morrow if I can, sir !” “Demme, my good woman! Haw! Don't think I mean to loff,"

Says I, like a toff, “Where d'you mean to sleep to - night?

God made this grass for go'ff.”

« PreviousContinue »