Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

66

sight-seeing, I went to bathe in the high), and whether she would transMeuse-(I think that is the name mit the neck or not. of the river; not that it matters “ Jeune mees,” said I, “vous its water would smell as sweet by connoissez Namur ?” any other name !) I had consider- She reddened, dropped a mouthable difficulty at first in getting a ful of chicken, and replied, “ Mon

, boat ; however, at last I managed sieur, je vous remercie, c'est bien it, and was conveyed to an island, la première fois que je me trouve à on which island I undressed my- Namur.” self. Having ascertained from my Chère enfant ! I recognised the boatman that the water was very influence of the tall neck opposite. deep on the other side, in I jumped, Et ça vous interesse." nearly killing myself, and abrading “Oh, oui, monsieur.” myself terribly. It was about nine Change places with me, my inches deep! I was in despair, and dear,” said her mother, who was to add to it a number of women becoming alarmed at the degree of and small boys congregated on the intimacy which appeared to be beshore and jeered at me, eventually ginning to exist between us. I throwing stones. I did not know believe that I bear unmistakable what to do-it was no use lying signs about the face of being a down and trying to burrow a re- French younger son—that is to say, treat in the bed of the river. On if there are any. They changed the whole, it was not a satisfactory places, and I found myself next to bathe ; and the Meuse don't taste the mother. The mother was a nice.

marvellous production

a brown I didn't see much on my road silk dress which creaked like my back to the hotel (Iforget its name!) boots, a long gold chain, and a and I was not at all sorry to find brooch with a picture of a “relamyself at the table-d’hôte, not that tive" in it. It was a wonderful the table-d'hôte was good—far from profile. A dog might have been

We had first soup, then a made to bite it easily out of a biscuit. greasy kind of fish, rather like (I wonder whether that dog really Mediterranean “ loup,” greasy en- did bite Voltaire's face out of bistrées, &c., and an uncommonly bad cuits.) She looked me all over, as rin ordinaire, which I never wish if I had been a piece of chiha, to taste again. And as if the din- with a crack somewhere about me, ner was not a sufficient trial, I was wbich would lower my price. At set down next a young Miss with last she said, “You are English ?” reddish arms and hands, who ap- “Yes," I said, “ I am. I find I peared to be finisbing her education am mistaken. I thought you were previous to appearing at country Parisienne." balls ! I remember a Canadian “You know Mr Smith ?” friend of mine at Dieppe who used Ah, yes.” to bribe the waiter to give him a “ You have heard of him ? He place next the best-looking indivi- is my husband, and was mayor of dual in the room, which this one Birmingham last year.” wasn't. Granville was worse off. "Everybody knows the name," He was opposite to me, next to a I said. governess — a tall gaunt woman, She looked much pleased, and with a long neck. I read some- continued, “We come over every where the other day that giraffes year to see after orders. My husgot their long necks from browsing band is the greatest manufacturer where the trees were uncommonly of manure in the country, and I am tall. I wonder whether that go- sure he would be very happy to verness got hers from browsing take you over the works.” (her trees must have been very This was an opportunity not to

it.

a

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be lost! Unfortunately, however, the room, which room I proceeded at that moment I tumbled a glass to investigate before going to bed. of vin ordinaire over her dress. It Fleas don't bite Granville. I can't had the oddest effect, and I laugh- tell why; for I should certainly ed for a quarter of an hour! bite him if I was a flea. I am a

The governess had been confid- connoisseur in fleas, and can easily ing in G. ; and he told me that he tell from a glance the country, had been obliged to tell her that previous habits, and course of feedhe had a wife and five little chil. ing of a specimen. It would be a dren, to stop the confidences. great thing if fleas walked. Then

At any rate,” I said to Gran- one might meet forty of them walkville, as I read this over to him in ing upstairs, as Professor Tiffin did the evening, “ you will allow that the bugs. I wonder whether Lord I have changed my style.”

has seen a bug yet. If “There is no doubt about it," he hasn't seen a flea, I should like he answered ; " but it won't do.” him to come to Namur. I never

“Why not? It is very natural saw a larger one than the one who and free.

was kind enough to give me his “Very much so; and if you were company that evening. It was a in the Rocky Mountains or Hima- most exciting chase — five times layas, there could be no objection round the room ; and I broke my to it. The smallest details might legs perpetually over the things I interest people. Besides that, it had knocked over in my excitegives a completely wrong notion of ment. At last I took to throwing your character. This looks as if it my boots at it; but somehow or was written by somebody who was other I never could manage to hit very energetic and lively, and going it. Then I threw my jug of water to be married ; not by a man with at it, but that only brought out a shy and sensitive character like an old German next door, who, yours.”

when he learnt the cause of the I began to despair. “I am going disturbance, said to me, Bah, into the Ardennes to-morrow," I monsieur ! j'en ai vingt mille, et said. “Will you come ?”

je ne m'en soucie guère." It was “ Thanks !” said Granville. "I all right; for he had vingt mille et think I shall stay quiet, and trust un when he left my room ; and I to your account for information." danced an lo triumphe till sleep

* All right !” said I, as he left overtook me !!!

CHAPTER X.

Dedicated to Miss EE.

I started very early in the morn- in, and ran into the bank several ing, and put into my bag two flan- times, owing to its inability to cope nel petticoats, three pairs of stock with the strength of the stream, ings, and a few other necessaries which is very considerable in parts. I should recommend the traveller The banks of the Meuse are not who might have any wish to travel remarkable as far as Dinan ; and I in this part of the country to do should not advise any one to go up the same. Flannel is perhaps the the Meuse, as the mode of travelbest thing that can be worn, espe- ling is a very slow one. cially in case of violent perspira- On arriving at Dinan, I ordered tion. I first went up the Meuse some luncheon, telling them that I in a very small steamer.

It was

was an Englishman, and was not smaller than any I had ever been going to be cheated. I had a very

bad luncheon, and was naturally a me, would no doubt have attacked good deal surprised and annoyed me, unless I had had the presence at the following bill :

of mind to run my parasol into his

fc. cts. face with all my force. This forPotage,

10

tunately disconcerted him to such Chambre,

1 0

an extent that he' ran into a neighDiner,

1 0 Service,

1 0

bouring wood, and I did not see Dégradation du tapis, 0 50 him again. I should recommend

this course to any one under similar I sent immediately for the land- circumstances. lord, and asked him to explain I reached Ciney at last, where I this. I had had but a demi-portion had to wait some time for the train. of soup. I had occupied the room I heard, however, a very interestin question for only half-an-hour; ing account of “our Lady of Ciney," and what could be the meaning of who a sbort time before had apthe last item? The landlord said

peared to three boys and four little I had spilt the vin ordinaire over girls while wandering in the neighthe carpet. I was quite certain bouring woods, and, having warned that what he complained of was them against the approach of a caused by a large dog which I had wolf, vanished. Having taken my seen wandering about. In conse- ticket to Jemelles, the station for quence I refused to pay, and ten- Rochefort, I got into the train, dered him four francs, protesting and, by mistake, into a firstthat that was an overcharge. I class carriage, which I had not inadded that I should write to the tended to do. I generally travel * Times' and to the editor of 'Mur- second-class, and, if possible, thirdray,' and that the consequences class, as fortunately on the Contiwould probably give him a lesson nent no such prejudice exists as in he would not forget. I ultimately England. On my arrival at Jemelles paid 3 francs 75 centimes, and the conductor at first insisted on set off for Ciney in a fiacre with my paying the difference, but upon one horse. They told me that one my refusing, finally let the matter horse could not drag it up the hills; alone, relieving his mind apparently but being well accustomed to the by a volley of abuse, which fell impositions practised upon travel- harmlessly enough on me, as I am lers, I insisted upon having only well accustomed to it. I asked one. I had been previously all how far Rochefort was, and on over Dinan, in order to find a learning it was only three miles, I donkey to carry me, but apparently set off to walk. The road was there was none.

The fiacre was very pretty through an avenue of very hard, but by putting one of elms, and I did not at all regret my flannel petticoats underneath my decision, especially as I should the seat, it became a little more have had to pay at least half a comfortable, although the jolting franc for the omnibus ; and I say was somewhat painful. I think it without any shame, to one who they must have put the worst is as poor as myself, that sum is horse they had in the stables into quite enough to determine the harness, for we could hardly get course to be pursued.

Alas, poup the hills. I was at last obliged verty! how great are thy crimes, to get out and walk up the last especially in England, where £2000 one; and as I had outstripped the a-year seems to be the smallest sum carriage by some distance, I felt upon which human beings can somewhat lonely and unprotected exist. Rochefort was a bright little on reaching the top of the bill. To village, with the remains of a castle add to my fears, a heavily-built pea- upon a hillock, near the main street; sant appeared, and, coming up to and I was fortunate enough to find

[ocr errors]

a clean-looking inn, whose preten- its way, reminding me of the end sions seemed, however, humble. of the 'Inferno' (in fact the whole Madame Souza was my hostess, grotto recalled scene after scene and I am glad to be able to pub- from it to me)lish the name of one who treated

“Un ruscelletto, che quivi descende me with such civility (and it will Per la buca d'un sasso, ch'egli ha roso not be in vain that I have men

Col corso ch'egli avvolge." tioned her, if the public looks upon For some time we wound along its my efforts with indulgence). banks, sometimes crossing it by a lit

" Monsieur mangera quelque tle bridge, and getting deeper and chose ? un poulet, n'est-ce pas- deeper into the heart of the hill.

“Ah,” said I, “mais je suis The different caverns into which we pauvre, et ça me coûtera chèr." came were called by separate names,

“Ah, c'est une bagatelle," and I generally the result of some pecuheard the last flappings of the liar formation in the stalagmites chicken in a moment. After I had around us. The great drawback ordered dinner, I bargained for a was the difficulty of lighting it up guide to go with me to the cavern at all adequately. In the largest of Hans-sur-Lesse, which had really cavern, where the river is finest, attracted me to this part of the a few wisps of straw gave us a country. I soon got one for five momentary impression of its gransous, and we set off upon our walk. deur; but the air was so close by I had not gone far before I saw an this time, as we had been an hour interesting specimen of the convol- walking, that my chief object was vulus muddiensis, and I immedi- to get out again. In this cavern ately scrambled after it. Unfor- there was an array of champagne tunately, however, I tumbled in bottles, and it was with some difficultrying to cross the stream, and ty that I prevented any from being came out very wet and dirty. The opened : by, however, stating seveguide began to laugh, so I said to ral times, “ Moi je ne paye point,” him, “ Voyez-vous c'est la science- I succeeded. Half an hour's more si j'étais riche je m'en fierais aux walking brought us to the exit, autres ; mais vu que je suis au which was even more striking than contraire pauvre, que voulez-vous, the entrance. We came to a place faut que je fasse moi-même ce que where the stream widened into a je souhaite.” He did not seem to sort of deep pond, not unlike the understand me at all, and he only inside of the blue grotto at Capri, winked at some other boys who and here a boat was waiting for us. were passing. I cannot help re- It was quite dark, with the excepmarking here upon the rudeness of tion of the flickering torches we the Belgians. No doubt there are held in our hands, and I felt comsome amongst them who are very pletely in the hands of some Chadifferent, but still the majority ron, to whom I owed passive obeseem to think that respect is to dience. We glided noiselessly be paid according to the amount of along, until at last we emerged outward respectability. We soon into the daylight upon the other reached the entrance to the cavern side of the hill; and I felt very of Hans-sur-Lesse, where I had to glad that I had not believed the wait for some time before the re- statement in Bradshaw, and been quisite number of people could be deterred, consequently, from paying got together to form a party. As a visit to Hans-sur-Lesse. When it was, we had only three peasants we landed, the man who had been

I never saw anything so with us said to me, picturesque. The entrance was “ Cinq francs, monsieur." very narrow-a mere hole in the I answered, " Impossible ! deux rock, where the stream had forced francs ;” and I asked my compan

with us.

[ocr errors]

ions how much they were going to been nowhere, and had seen nopay, as I suspected that it was in- thing, having even dined apart to tended I should pay for all four of escape our table-d'hôte friends of us.

the preceding day. He endeavour" Ah, monsieur, nous sommes ed, neverthelesss, to take some inpauvres—nous n'avons de quoi.” terest in my proceedings, and I

“ Et moi aussi,” I replied. “Je read my account to him in the vais écrire un livre, et si vous ne evening, with the view of impressvoulez pas marchander, vous y ing upon his mind the beauties of verrez comment je me vengerai des the Ardennes. He interrupted me Belges."

at the beginning, saying, “Why, “Ah, je ne m'en soucie de votre you are not an old woman; what livre ; donnez-moi mes cinq francs, do you mean by flannel petticoats ?" et vous pourriez en médire à votre I said I meant flannel shirts. Grangré."

ville justly remarked that they I was finally obliged to give him were not the same things; but he what he asked, as there was no- recommended me to leave it as it body to whom I could appeal, so was, as I seemed to have metamormy only means of redress consists phosed myself into a fussy woman in performing my promise to him. for the occasion, and that it was We walked back again to Roche- quite in keeping with the rest. fort, where I found my dinner I regret to be obliged to add that awaiting my arrival, and Madame Granville gave me no opportunity Souza's efforts, I must own, had of cavilling at his criticism, for bebeen attended with complete suc- fore I had finished I found that he cess.

I was not overcharged, a was fast asleep. circumstance which I feel bound to This was my fourth failure, which narrate, having only to pay a franc I could only ascribe to the superand a half for my dinner. Afterwards ficial manner in which I had treated I walked back to Jemelles, catching my subject, so I resolved that my the afternoon train to Namur, and next attempt, at any rate, should returned very well satisfied with my give Granville no cause of comday's excursion. I found Gran- plaint in this respect. ville smoking. He, of course, had

(To be continued.)

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »