The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Retrospect, by Ada Cambridge
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Title: The Retrospect
Author: Ada Cambridge
Release Date: March 6, 2013 [eBook #42270]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Laura & Joyce McDonald and Clare Graham and Marc D'Hooghe















I. Coming Home
II. About Town
III. In Beautiful England
IV. The Home of Childhood
V. Halcyon Days
VI. Earliest Recollections
VII. Old Times and New
VIII. Some Early Sundays
IX. My Grandfather's Days
X. Outdoor Life
XI. At the Seaside
XII. Excursions to Sandringham
XIII. A Trip South
XIV. "Devon, Glorious Devon!"
XV. In the Garden of England



There was a gap of thirty-eight years, almost to a day, between my departure from England (1870), a five-weeks-old young bride, and my return thither (1908), an old woman. And for about seven-eighths of that long time in Australia, while succeeding very well in making the best of things, I was never without a subconscious sense of exile, a chronic nostalgia, that could hardly bear the sight of a homeward-bound ship. This often-tantalised but ever-unappeased desire to be back in my native land wore the air of a secret sorrow gently shadowing an otherwise happy life, while in point of fact it was a considerable source of happiness in itself, as I now perceive. For where would be the interest and inspiration of life without something to want that you cannot get, but that it is open to you to try for? I tried hard to bridge the distance to my goal for over thirty years, working, planning, failing, starting again, building a thousand air-castles, more or less, and seeing them burst like soap-bubbles as soon as they began to materialise; then I gave up. The children had grown too old to be taken; moreover, they had attained to wills of their own and did not wish to go. One had fallen to the scythe of the indiscriminate Reaper, and that immense loss dwindled all other losses to nothing at all. I cared no more where I lived, so long as the rest were with me. In England my father and mother, who had so longed for me, as I for them, were in their graves; no old home was left to go back to. I was myself a grandmother, in spite of kindly and even vehement assurances that I did not look it; more than that, I could have been a great-grandmother without violating the laws of nature. At any rate, I felt that I was past the age for enterprises. It was too late now, I concluded, and so what was the use of fussing any more? In short, I sat down to content myself with the inevitable.

I was doing it. I had been doing it for several years. The time had come when I could look out of window any Tuesday morning, watch a homeward-bound mail-boat put her nose to sea, and turn from the spectacle without a pang. The business of building air-castles flourished, as of yore, but their bases now rested on Australian soil. What was left of the future was all planned out, satisfactorily, even delightfully, and England was not in it.

Then was the time for the unexpected to happen, and it did. A totally undreamed-of family legacy, with legal business attached to it, called my husband home. Even then it did not strike me that I was called too; for quite a considerable time it did not strike him either. But there befell a period of burning summer heat, the intensity and duration of which broke all past records of our State and established it as a historic event for future Government meteorologists; the weaklings of the community succumbed to it outright or emerged from it physically prostrate, and I, who had encountered it in a "run-down" condition, was of the latter company. The question: "Was I fit to be left?" obtruded itself into the settled policy: it logically resolved itself into the further question: "Was I fit to go?" There was nothing whatever to prevent my going if I could "stand" it, and a long sea-voyage had been doctors' prescription for me for years. Mysteriously and, as it were, automatically, I brisked up from the moment the second question was propounded, and before I knew it found myself enrolled as a member of the expedition. The two-berth cabin was engaged; travelling trunks, and clothes to put in them, bestrewed my bedroom floor. I was going home—at last!

And was it too late? Had I outlived my long, long hope? Not a bit of it. I had outlived nothing, and it was exactly and ideally the right time. "You will be disappointed," said more than one of my travelled old friends, who had known the extravagance of my anticipations. "It will be sad for you, finding all so strange and changed." "You will feel dreadfully out of it, after so many years." "You will be very lonely"—thus was I compassionately warned not to let a too sanguine spirit run away with me. They were all wrong. I never had a disappointment: nothing was sad for me, of all the change; no one could have been less out of it, or less lonely. Every English day of the whole six months was full of pleasure; I was not even bored for an hour. At no time of my life could I have made the trip with a lighter heart (being assured weekly that all was well behind me). Children would have meant a burden, however precious a burden, and had I gone in my parents' lifetime it would have been with them and me as our ship's captain said it was with his wife during his brief sojourns with her; for half the time she was overwrought with the joy of his return, and for the other half miserable in anticipation of his departure, so that he never knew her in her normal state. That my father and mother had long been dead, and that the tragedies of home love and loss, with which I was so familiar, were not pressing close about me, probably accounted more than anything else for my being so well and happy. Also, it is not until a woman is sixty, or thereabouts, that she is really free to enjoy herself.

Well! I never was so well since I was born. The long sea-voyage did all that was asked of it, and incidentally brought home to me the truth of the old adage that silver lines all clouds. "If only we were not so far away!" had been my inward wail for eight and thirty years. "If only we had emigrated to Canada, or South Africa, or almost any part of the British Empire but this! Then we might have flown home every few years as easily as we now go from Melbourne to Sydney, and at no more expense." I have the same regret, intensified, now that I am back in Australia again. But there is no gain without its corresponding loss. Not only might the joys of England after exile have become staled by this time, but a voyage of a week or two would not have prepared me to make the most of them. I am convinced that years of health and life are given to those who, at the right juncture, can afford six weeks of sea-travel at a stretch, and they may have been given to me and my companion; I quite believe so. Each of us was a stone heavier at the end of our holiday than at the beginning, and in the interval we forgot that we were a day over twenty-five.

Consider for a moment the perfect adjustment of the conditions to the needs of the invalid with no disease but exhaustion. I pass over the special favours vouchsafed to me, in idyllic weather and tranquil seas, and the mothering of a devoted stewardess who is my friend for life; also in finding quiet and pleasant company in a saloon party of but eighteen. That sort of luck cannot be purchased even with a first-class steamer ticket, nor is it necessary to the efficacy of the treatment. Take only the itinerary—that of the Suez route at a suitable season—as it may be observed by anybody.

First, the run across the Indian Ocean—in the case of the mail-steamers from Adelaide to Colombo, in our case from Adelaide to Aden. Three whole weeks, without a break, without an incident, if all goes well. I had never imagined the sea could be so blank as it presented itself to us on this first section of our voyage. Ships may have passed in the night, but I saw none by day; no land, no birds, no whales, no phosphorescent wakes, no anything, except sea and sky and lovely sunsets. It may have been monotonous, but it was monotony in the right place. It brought to me, at the outset, that complete rest from all effort and excitement which was the necessary preliminary to recovery and repair. I reposed on my comfortable lounge from morn till eve, playing with a trifle of needlework (too stupid with blissful torpor to read, while the strangeness of quite idle hands would have induced the fidgets, sea-drugged as I was). I ate, and slept, and basked, like a soulless animal; forgot there were such things as posts and newspapers, as dinner-planning and stocking-mending, as calls and committee-meetings; forgot that I was the mother of a family, and had abandoned it for the first time in history; forgot whether I was ill or well, or had nerves or not; and thus soaked and steeped and soddened in peace, insensibly renewed and established my strength, not patching it anyhow just to carry on with, as one does on land, with a casual week at a watering-place or in the mountains, but unhurriedly, uninterruptedly, solidly, rebuilding it from the bottom up.

Then, when strength becomes aware that it is ready for use—at the moment when one begins to feel that the monotony has lasted long enough—then back comes the delightful world, with a new face of beauty to match the new ardour of love for it that has been silently generating within us. All the light of enterprising and romantic youth was in the gaze I levelled through my binoculars (given to me for my voyage in 1870) at the first substantial token that I was in the gorgeous East, one of the fairylands of imagination (comprising, roughly, all the unknown earth) from the days of infancy when I learned to read. It was an Arab dhow. I knew that pointed wing as well as I knew the shape of chimney-pots, but the wonder that I was seeing it with my bodily eyes, even as a speck upon the horizon, was overwhelming. I stared and stared, but could not speak.

The rest was pure enchantment. As we drew near to the magnificent rock of Aden—hateful place, I know, to its white inhabitants, and an old tale not worth mentioning to the average Australian tourist—I said, in my ecstasy: "This pays for the voyage, if we see nothing more." The first white-awninged launch that bustled up to us, manned by two nondescripts, one huge Nubian negro and one beautiful Somali boy, bore through the brilliant air and water an official gentleman who probably would have sold his soul for a London fog; it was not he, but another official gentleman who swallowed nearly a bottle of ship's brandy while attending to ship's business, and was presented with another bottle on his departure by a sympathiser who understood his case. It was a hot morning in the middle of May, and I had been accustomed from my youth to atmospheric light and colour as glorious as the radiant setting of this strange outpost of Empire in the East. Evidently it is in the eye (backed by a strong imagination) of the gazer that poetic beauty lies.

After this, the unspeakable experiences followed thick and fast. Night in the Straits, with Venus so bright that she cast a reflection like moonlight across the water; the Red Sea in the morning—minarets on the horizon, and those rocks of desolation, with the loneliest human dwelling conceivable (the arcaded lighthouse) on the top of one of the most impressively desolate; that other lighthouse at the gulf entrance, with its flashing rays of red and white, its rock-base velvety purple against a solemn sunset sky; Mount Sinai amongst the hills of Holy Land; the majestic desert of so many dreams. Time was when I sniffed at the colour of Holman Hunt's "Scapegoat" landscape, but here it was, translated into living light, but no fainter in tint than the dead paint had made it. Sapphires were not in it with that blue-green sea at Suez, in which the jostling bumboats floated as in clearest glass. The rocky shores to left were mauve, the right-hand desert and Holman-Hunty hummocks salmon-pink, and no mortal painter was ever born, or ever will be, to "get" the bloomy glow and fairy delicacy of Nature's textures and technique. The Eastern sun blazed broadly over the scene, the temperature at noon was ninety-nine degrees in the shade; the composition was perfect.

Between tea-time and dinner we passed out of the city and close to its domestic doorsteps—the closest I had yet come to Eastern life; and long after we were in the canal it was a picture to look back upon from which I could not tear my eyes. Low on the gleaming water—the two towns linked by the dark thread of the railway embankment, brooded over by that majestic mauve and violet hill—it was a vision of beauty indeed as the light effects changed from moment to moment with the sinking of the gorgeous sun. I could afford no time to dress that night. In my hat, as I was, I snatched a mouthful of dinner, and was up again on deck, to make the most of the short twilight; and so I saw the shadowy last of Suez and more than I expected to see of the canal.

"Just a little ditch in the sand," somebody had told me, as one might say, a primrose by the river's brim was nothing more. Apart from its otherwise tremendous significance, that narrow watercourse was a highway of romance to me. Egypt—Arabia—the very names set one's heart thumping. It would be thrilling to be there even if one were blind. The silence of the desert is more eloquent than any sound. But from the most unsentimental point of view it was a ditch of varied aspects, that only the dullest traveller could call uninteresting.

The Canal Company, it appeared, was widening it to double its original measure across, top and bottom—something like a ten years' job, with millions of money and priceless brain-matter in it—and we saw the engineers at work. That is to say, they were not at work at the moment, because the day's task was done; but there were their excavations and machinery, fine and effective, and I can never look at such, apprehending their meaning, without a lifting of the heart, a sense of the beauty that is in the world unrecognised by that name. What, I wondered, did my schoolgirl idol and apostle of beauty, Ruskin, think of this ditch when it was a-making? Did he say? If, to my knowledge, he had called it a desecration of Nature, I should instantly have agreed with him. Now, to my life-educated eyes and soul, the very Holy Land was sanctified by the faithful endeavour and achievement evidenced in haulage-trucks and pipe-lines and those twin steel rails that he hated so much, telling all their serious story to whoever could understand it.

It was indeed a beautiful as well as an instructive picture, that left bank, as we moved beside it. The native labourers, after their work, squatted in their little camps and dug-outs, and in the sand, or stood statue-like to watch our passing, sharply silhouetted figures and groups against the translucent sky, each a "study" that, if in a gallery, one would go miles to see. Strings of camels were being led to water or were wending homeward with their loads. Little encampments straight out of the Bible, desert palm-trees, desert distances, all in the golden afterglow, the clear-shining twilight, the evening peace that was too peaceful for words, were gems for the collector of poetic impressions, to be for ever cherished and preserved. And then how striking was the rare glimpse of a Saxon face, the glance at us of grave eyes that one knew had the all-governing brain behind them. The British Occupation in Egypt—there it was, in the person of that lonely man in tent or boat-house, advance agent of the Civilisation that spells Prosperity in whatever part of the world it goes. One of these, out riding with a lady, rode down to the water's edge to watch us pass. In their white garb they were perfectly groomed, like their beautiful Arab horses, which they sat in a style that was good to see; but they were pathetic figures, with that lonely waste around them. I divined a deadly homesickness in the eyes that followed our progress as long as we could be seen, the same ache of the heart that afflicted me, for so many years, whenever I saw a ship going to England without me. Yet one could be quite sure that they never dreamed of slipping cables on their own account as long as duty to the Empire held them where they were. Not the man, at any rate.

And so it grew too dark to see anything beyond the edge of our searchlight, which showed only post-heads in the water, and I went to bed.

I was asleep when we passed Ismailia, contrary to my intentions, but I got up at four o'clock, to lose no more. Still unbroken desert to the right; to the left a well-made embankment with a roadway atop, and behind that a belt of bamboos and greenery, telegraph lines and a railway, broken at intervals by the oases of the gares. An American navy-boat made way for us at one of these, a pair of submarines conspicuous on her deck. At a little before five the sun of a lovely morning rose on our starboard side, and one saw the desert wet and dark, yielding its immemorial savagery to the civilising hand and brain. One of the fine up-to-date dredges, amongst the many dredges, was pumping the mud up on the land as it sucked it from the canal bottom. In the shining sun-flushed pools of its creation black forms of storks moved statelily, apparently finding nourishment already where there had been none before. On the left bank there was the embodied spirit of progress again, doubtless looking at his work and on the way to expedite it; white-clothed, white-helmeted, enthroned on a railway trolly, which a bare-legged native ran along the line as it were a perambulator on ball bearings, two more natives sitting upon it, ready to take turns with him at the job. Lifting the eye slightly, one saw open water along the sky behind them, a flashing, glittering strip, studded with forty-two lateen sails that might have been carved of mother o' pearl; and almost immediately, straight ahead, a low mass of something as yet misty and formless in the dazzling rose and gold of the morning, reminiscent of Suez in its sunset transfiguration—Port Said, less than an hour from us.

It was Sunday, and divine service in the reading-room had been arranged. Soon after six, at about the time of passing the Gare de Naz-el-ech, passengers began to come up, a few with prayer-book in hand. But divine service was "off," by order of the captain—a religious man, very regular in his attendance at public worship. He knew how it would be at seven-thirty, when we were going to drop anchor in the port at seven, and that was exactly how it was—every inch of ship overrun with ardent pedlars, while coaling from the great lighters, three or four lashed abreast, was in full swing. I may as well say at once that for me, as for nearly all the passengers (my own companion, who declared himself quite happy in his choice, being the only member of the saloon party to stay at home), that Sunday, as a Sunday, has to be wiped off the slate entirely, posted as missing amongst the Sabbath days of life. I must confess further that it was the most delightful (so called) Sunday I ever spent. At last I did more than see the Gorgeous East of lifelong dreams; I felt it, I had speech with it. In a select party, headed by the dear woman who, apart from her solid social position, was the chief pillar of the church on board, I was permitted to go ashore. I had the free use of six hours to do what I liked in.

In the half-hour before breakfast I did exciting business with the bumboatmen. I bought a piece of tapestry, representing camels, palm-trees, mosques and the like, which the native vendor assured me was handmade in Egyptian prisons, though in my heart of hearts I knew better; also brooches and bracelets which seemed dirt cheap at two and three shillings apiece, the exact counterparts of which I afterwards bought at William Whiteley's for sixpence ha'penny. As soon after breakfast as we could get our letters ready, I was rowed through the jewel-bright water into the world of fairy tales. Oh, I know what Port Said is to those familiar with it, and I could have seen for myself, had I wished to see, that the Gorgeous East could be flimsy and tawdry, even ugly, here and there; but it was the East, and that was enough; the glamour of the rosy spectacles beautified all. Nothing was easier than to forget and ignore what would doubtless be impossible to overlook on a second visit, and impossible to put up with on a third or fourth.

Having arrived at the centre of things, we appointed an hour for luncheon at the Hotel Continental, and split our party into twos and threes. An unattached man took charge of me and another unattached lady, and escorted us about the town and to the shops which alone attracted her (for she knew Port Said already). Wonderful shops, too, some of them were, and it was no wasted time I spent roaming about them, while she gave her attention to spangled scarves and lace; but the lattice-veiled windows of the mysterious dwelling-rooms above them, and the flowing and glowing life of the narrow streets, were what I had come to see. It was delightful to return to the pavement under the Continental, and there sit, with a cold and bubbling lemon drink, in one of the low chairs which so hospitably invite the wayfarer, to watch the stream of mingling East and West go by, and its eddies around one—the veiled native lady touching skirts with the breezy English girl; the turbaned sherbet seller, his remarkable brazen ewer under his arm, dodging the swift bicycle; the oily-eyed and sodden rapscallion of the Levant, or the bejewelled and bepowdered person no better than she should be, elbowing the spare young cleric slipping through these dangerous places on his way to the Pan-Anglican Congress. And the stranger contrasts on the wide, tiled side-walk, a continuous outdoor café rather than a promenade—Frenchmen playing dominoes, swarthy traders doing secret business over their drinks; passengers from the various ships in port, mothers and aunts with children by the hand; here and there the habitual tourist, easily identified; here and there the impeccably clothed, clean-limbed white figure, whose high bearing and bluff dignity proclaimed the important person—soldier of distinction, big-game-hunting lord of leisure, powerful Government official, as the case might be. All up and down, around the low tables, faces of all nations, speech of all languages, and, as an undercurrent, the incessantly made gentle appeal for notice from the dark-skinned pedlars sinuously navigating the narrow channels between the chairs, with their cheap jewellery and picture post-cards and puzzle walking-sticks, trying how far they could go under the eye of the Egyptian policeman, standing ready to order them over the curb at the first sign of unwelcome pertinacity.

For a good half-hour we sat at ease, in the middle of this picture, and I enjoyed myself surpassingly. Then a little more shopping on behalf of my still unsatisfied lady companion, and then the gathering of the whole seven of our landing party at the appointed rendezvous for luncheon. We were ready for the meal, and it was not the least memorable of the æsthetic pleasures of that "Sunday out." I am told it was simply as a meal ashore, after many meals at sea, that I found it so delectable, but in justice to the courteous French proprietor, as he seemed to be, who himself took charge of our table, and for my own credit as a connoisseur, I deny that assertion, made only by those who were not there. I declare, on my honour, that, apart from the good cookery, the bread, butter and beer of the Hotel Continental at Port Said—such a seemingly unlikely place in which to find them so—were the best I ever tasted. Particularly the bread. One of the remaining ambitions of my life is to find out whether that bread was French, or Egyptian, or Turkish, or what (the reader bears in mind that this is the story of an innocent abroad), and to get some more of it, if possible.

We sat outside the house again, to repose after our repast, and I should think there was no more contented person in the world than I was then. I bought a little more Brummagem rubbish that palmed itself off as of Oriental manufacture, of the softly persistent pedlars circulating about my chair; and our escort settled the hotel bill, which worked out at four-and-sixpence for each of us. Never did I grudge hard-earned money for sensual indulgence less. I would not now take pounds for my recollections of that meal, because the day could not have been perfect without it.

So it drew on for four o'clock, when leave expired. Tired, hot and happy, we wandered back to the quay, dropped our threepenny pieces into official hands before the tantalised boatmen, stepped into our cushioned barge and were rowed to the ship. There we found coaling done, afternoon tea prepared for us, everything ready for the start. And, again in the decline of the brilliant day, we saw the whole place bathed in celestially rosy light, a last impression of the gorgeous East as one loves to imagine it, to be hung on the line of the picture gallery of memory alongside Aden and Suez. Because decks were being washed down, the captain allowed a few of us to survey the scene from his bridge, and while we rested weary bones we gazed from that commanding altitude upon the unforgettable panorama—the houses of the sea-front, the casino, the famous lighthouse, the bathing-beach with its white surf and its machines, the long breakwater walling the exit from the canal, and—farewelling us, as it seemed—the impressive statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps, pointing back to his great work. At sunset we fetched up the coats so long unworn, and in the fresh air of the Mediterranean watched the flushing and fading of the distant city, low on the water like another Venice, until the evening bugle called us down. Too tired to dress, we ate our dinner perfunctorily, took a last look at the spacious, cool-breathing night, saw the Damietta light twinkling, and went to bed early. No one so much as mentioned church.

Then came three quiet days, sunny and cool, in which the right thing to do was to lie on one's long chair and recover from excitements. Meditation was so sweet, and I was so grateful to Port Said, that I could not grumble at losing Malta, where the ship had no engagements. A far-off, faint reflection of what was supposed to be a flashlight in Valetta harbour consoled me on my way to bed one night with its suggestion that Templars really lived, and that the old cathedral and the old steep streets were still there, awaiting the future pilgrim. No more did I set foot in "foreign parts," but what I further saw of them sufficed to make each remaining day of the voyage memorable. "The Bay of Tunis," says the captain, and: "Old Carthage lies behind that hill."

We were so close to the African shore that we could see the occasional town, the lonely farm, the lonelier fort or monastery, very distinctly; and the little unfenced, unshaped patches of tillage scratched out of the wilderness, and the little roadways meandering through the gaps of the crowding rock-ranges, otherwise so savagely desolate; and the evening lights sparsely scattered along the shore, and the early morning camp-fires on the seaward declivities, so high up and isolated as to suggest the fastnesses of the pirates of bygone days. A horn of the Bay of Algiers stole out of twilight mist, and lit up its clustering lamps as we looked at it; and the following day revealed the face of Spain, frowning at her vis-à-vis, but splendid in a stormy sunset, a velvety violet mass against a flaming sky.

At four o'clock again on Sunday morning I was up and dressed, summoned by the captain stamping overhead. And out of the dawn came majestic Gibraltar—the sun was up before five—and Algeciras of recent fame, ships and warships, hills, houses, hamlets, windmills, roads and Tarifa Point transfixing a wrecked steamer, sad detail of a picture full of life and charm. Another red-letter Sunday, but not quite so red as the last. Divine service was duly celebrated in the saloon after dinner—our last on board.

The captain stamped again at five A.M. on Monday, and I saw the Castle of Cintra on its rocky headland, and more of the interesting life of the country as we slid along its shores. I cut breakfast short to feast on the historic landscape (in youth I had devoured the literature of the Cid, the Peninsular War, and Don Quixote, in a score of weighty tomes), to study the contours of Spanish houses, to count the number of visible Spanish windmills, all twirling their sails for business, in the good old Mediæval style. Until the sailors at their work of holystoning and sluicing drove us from the last inch of deck, and rain—almost the only rain we had on that blessed voyage—drew a grey curtain over the scene.

The Bay of Biscay was an angel. Summer-blue sea and sky, blushing gloriously when sunset interfused them, a young horned moon, with its attendant star, hanging over the saffron afterglow and making night heavenly; hardly a breaking wave. And the East was all behind us, and Malta and Spain, even Australia, which still held the kernel of one's heart; their memories were put away like precious pictures in their packing-cases, until presently one would have time to hang them in the light again. Nothing could be thought of now but that which we were to see to-morrow—England, the Mecca of our pilgrimage—after thirty-eight years.

It was Thursday, the 4th of June, at nine in the morning, when it happened. Of all the lovely mornings we had at sea that was the loveliest. A little hazy on the sky-line, but sunny, breezy, bracing, absolutely perfect. I ran upstairs after breakfast, to find a group of men focussing their glasses upon a distant spot. One of them turned and pointed to it. "There she is," said he. "That's Beachy Head."

There she was indeed, a white speck shining out of the melting fog. I pressed my own good glasses to my eyes, but just at first, although she was so plain to see, I was too blind to see her.



How beautiful England is! The home-stayers do not know it, nor the stranger within her gates. One must have been long enough absent from her in a sharply contrasting environment to have become an outsider, a cosmopolitan connoisseur, while still not an alien but native to her soil—at any rate, imbued with her maternal influence—to appreciate her consummate charm. I think that Australians and Americans, her elder and younger offspring, who have so many points of view in common, do so more fully than other peoples of the world, although we "swear by" the lands where we have our ampler homes and opportunities—perhaps for that very reason. It is an impression I have gained from the literature of the States, which has supplied my chief reading for many years. Whether right or wrong, I shall feel, when I fall into rhapsodies on the subject—and really I cannot help it—that my American readers will understand me before them all.

That it is not a case of the rose-coloured spectacles is proved by the fact that we no sooner set foot in the beloved Old Country than we begin to sniff at a number of her little ways—little ways that are quite all right to less impartial critics. We even feel that we could teach our grandmother something about the sucking of eggs with good warrant for reversing the orthodox procedure; only that she is our grandmother, bless her, with the natural attributes of her time of life, and we do not want her different. Were she "younged up," as a member of my household describes the old lady who dresses to conceal her age, we should not love her more, and we might respect her less. Twice as "smart," she would not be half as beautiful.

The matter stands thus: The Family of the British Empire is like other families. The children who go out into the world have, and must have, a wider grip of affairs than the parent who stops at home. They are better able, as well as willing, to keep up with the times; and, as in other families, it is the elder-sisterly leadership that the younger sister follows. Although we Australians have cherished the belief that England, in all her manifestations, sets the perfect standard for us, I see now that it is America we have copied, insensibly to ourselves, in the arts that make for the comfort and convenience and contingent elegance of everyday life. I did not know where we stood in the scale of domestic civilisation until I began to frequent the rural districts where I was born and bred, and found the situation as I had left it, and myself so grown away from it that I might have come from another planet. It is not, of course, our merit in any way but our luck that we have, in addition to our birthright in her, a land of plenty, which ensures easy circumstances, connoting a high average of culture, to her unburdened and unjostled people, and no deep-worn groove to shut us in, and shut out from our vision the movements of the world. It would be gross taste for a cadet of the family, and one so juvenile, to give itself airs in the ancestral house; but it does cause some slight annoyance now and then to be treated as one who does not know the ropes at all. That in the great journals that came into my hands of a morning in London there was rarely so much as a mention of Australia, while every little tinpot dependency of a foreign power had its trifling affairs attended to, was nothing—our own fault as much as anybody's. But when those who never look at a London journal, who hardly know even Emperor William by name, since he does not live in the parish, want to teach you to suck eggs that have been rotten for years without their knowing it—on the theory that you have had no eggs where you have been living—you do get a little tired. And if young Australia feels that way small wonder at America not liking the grandmotherly tutelage, so long after knowing herself the leader of the world. Our old darling cannot understand why one who by every tie of nature should be devoted to her flouts her authority and turns a cold shoulder to her endearments, but the other children understand.

Well, America can afford to forgive everything, and she has forgiven everything, now, while only gratitude is due from us who, remaining in the bosom of the family, are so faithfully done by and cared for. All I am trying to say is that experience teaches knowledge, that love which is not blind is the love best worth having, and that we, with that knowledge and that love, are more competent to appreciate England than she to appreciate us. She thinks we do not know what's what, because people in the dark can think anything; but when we judge her beautiful, it is with the judgment that compares and discriminates. We know what we are talking about. It may be taken that she is beautiful, and no mistake.

We had embarked for Australia in 1870 from Plymouth, having travelled to that port from London in the night. Coming back in 1908 England met me with a face I had not seen before. Beachy Head was as new to my eyes as the rock of Aden; so was Dover Castle and all that sunny coast; so was the Thames of commerce. In the perfect June weather, and with its historical suggestions, even that last bit of the way was glorified. Perhaps the critical faculty had not quite steadied down, but even between the marshes I was thinking: "How beautiful England is!" Altogether the interval between nine A.M. and seven P.M. was a culmination of the voyage worthy of all that had led up to it. By the way, we dropped anchor at Gravesend in a violent thunderstorm.

We spent one more short night on the ship. In the small hours of the morning a steward informed us that the first caller had arrived, a near relation born during our long absence, now a man over thirty, who had enterprisingly boarded us by the pilot's ladder at the locks. With this efficient courier, who spared us all landing troubles, we passed from our sea-home to a quiet hotel in a quiet square near Liverpool Street Station, whence we were to pass out to the country on the following day; a house to be affectionately remembered, for its treatment of us. There we dumped our bags and made our walking toilets, feeling already as English as could be; then started forth to celebrate the day with (naturally) a first-rate luncheon to begin with. Thereafter we proposed to "do" as much of London as we could cover by dinner-time.

We did have a first-rate luncheon, from the point of view of unfashionable persons newly off the sea. But it was right here that we began to sniff. No, not to sniff, of course, but to set the critical faculty in order. At home, we informed our relative, a meal of that quality would be just about half the price, and such trifles as vegetables, rolls, butter, tea and coffee, would be thrown in gratis. The skimpy little curl of butter, that had to be separately paid for, in place of the heaped balls to which you could freely help yourself, was a particular one amongst the pinpoint grievances that London restaurants of the middle class supplied us with. At that first meal on English soil we remembered the first we had taken in Collins Street after landing in Melbourne so long ago—our astonishment at its ample excellence and small cost; and at each subsequent entertainment in London paid for by ourselves we were tempted to make odious comparisons when there was nobody to overhear. Australia is a land of plenty to all her people, high and low, but we forget it until we go away from her. Then we know.

After luncheon my husband went off to his bankers, his tailors (whose clothes he had worn uninterruptedly for thirty-eight years, with some modification of measurements from time to time), and otherwise to poke about by himself in a London that he declared he knew every inch of, although afterwards he confessed to having been once or twice at fault; and my nephew-in-law escorted me to my once favourite draper's, where I had bought the gems of my modest bridal trousseau. Ever since that long-past day I had sworn by the famous firm as authorities on and purveyors of the absolutely correct thing in women's wear, and now thought to render myself immune to English criticism by the surest method and with no waste of time.

I was out of that shop almost as soon as I was in, and distractedly flitting through other emporiums of the West End, wishing I had completed my outfit where I began it. I should have saved money and suited myself better. In pity for my companion, patiently awaiting my pleasure on the pavements outside—dropping asleep as he stood, poor boy, for he had not seen a bed for between thirty and forty hours—I confined myself to the one indispensable purchase, and that was a compromise between what I liked and what I could get.

Not that I suggest any rivalry between our best drapery shops and these best of Oxford and Regent Streets; it would be absurd to compare them. But I certainly realised as I had never done before how good the former are. I understood why a friend of mine with whom I once went clothes-buying in Bourke Street, immediately after her return from a year in England, plumping down on a chair by a familiar counter, said, with a luxurious sigh: "What a comfort to get back to our own shops again!" She did not "know her way about" in London; nor did I. And I cannot say that, at the six months' end, I had done any better for myself there than I should have done if I had supplied all my wants at home. I found no material difference in cost, and as regards the correct thing we are quite up to date. The new fashions are passed on to us for the corresponding season, winter or summer, that they belong to in England; and there is no doubt in my mind that, taking English women in the bulk and Australian women in the bulk, the latter are the better dressed by far. It is not what I expected would be the case.

Tea—that essential feature of afternoon shoppings in Melbourne, where a tea-room is to your hand wherever you may happen to be—was the one thought in my head when I rejoined my drowsy escort, although it could not have been more than three o'clock. "Let us find a nice place," said I, craving easy-chairs as well as tea; and we found one. It had no shop to it, inviting us by a mere label on an open street door and a glimpse of inner staircase. Privacy and repose were indicated, and I unhesitatingly turned in.

It was the very thing. A pretty little drawing-room, all to ourselves, cushioned basket-chairs, tea and cakes and bread-and-butter and toasted things, all as good as I was accustomed to, although by no means so cheap (but expense was no matter on this festive day), and the courteous attendance that I must confess is not to be counted on in Australia as I learned to count upon it in England. With us officialdom is so disproportionately powerful throughout the land (nothing can be in proportion if the main base of population is inadequate) that the so-called servants of the public are virtually in the position of masters, and, knowing it, are inclined to wait upon you condescendingly, as if conferring a favour, or to be abrupt and off-hand with you, or to leave you to take your chance. It is quite natural.

So here, in this very nice little room, I revelled in my tea—the first good cup since Hobart (Adelaide was a disappointment in this respect, and at Port Said I did not ask for it)—and we rested in our comfortable chairs for the best part of an hour. Then, my escort being again wide-awake and active, and myself refreshed and fit for anything, I suggested a drive through London in any direction on the top of a motor 'bus.

That was an exciting drive. Unlike my husband, I did not know my London. Years and years and years ago I had been accustomed to pay an annual visit to my eldest aunt, who was my godmother, and then I was driven from what was Shoreditch Station to her house in Notting Hill (which she grieved was not, as it so nearly was, Kensington), and in a few weeks driven back again in a straw-carpeted four-wheeled cab, from the closed windows of which I had my only peeps at the city—a forbidden city to a well-brought-up young lady of tender years. Between whiles my diversions were confined to West End picture galleries and museums, a few West End shoppings, drives in the Park, walks to the neighbouring church. Only to the latter, and that but occasionally and in exceptional circumstances, was I ever allowed to go unattended, even after I was engaged to be married, while she was responsible for me. Darling that she was, I am not going to laugh at her for being so ridiculous, especially as I have my doubts as to whether she was ridiculous at all—whether there is not still something to be said for the clearly defined social status of children, and the careful chaperonage of growing-up girls, that were matter of course to us, young and old, in those far-distant days.

My thoughts were full of her as we drove towards our old haunts, when the absorbing fascination of the narrow, crowded streets and the marvellous interweaving of the wheeled traffic through them gave place to the enchantment of the "Park" once more, the charm beyond expression of English trees and grass, the stately roadways and perspectives of our old walking and driving quarter, so unexpectedly familiar and remembered—the only London life I had to remember—after such a gap of time and change!

The Marble Arch—oh, the Marble Arch! The new gates behind it were approaching completion; the greatly improved arrangement was pointed out to me by my courier, how the old blocking of carriages was done away with—I believe that very day inaugurated the new use. But for me there was only the old bottle-neck which had annoyed generations of carriage folk, and which had given my young girlhood one of its first woman dreams.

It will be understood that the best-beloved and most loving of maiden aunts became even as Andromeda's dragon at the approach of an unauthorised young man. The very thought of him in connection with her god-daughter made her hair rise. Well, I was driving with her one afternoon, and just within the Marble Arch we were so wedged in a block of carriages that the occupant of one—truly a most charming fellow—had to sit facing me at arm's length for quite a minute. With the best will in the world, and I believe we both tried to help it, it was impossible after some embarrassing seconds to prevent the twinkle of a smile. In spite of its ravaging effects upon me (all her fault, for I never saw him before or since), it was no more than a twinkle, behind a gravity of demeanour as gentlemanly as could be. But what could evade the lynx-eyed vigilance of the duenna of old? No sooner were we disentangled than my aunt, almost as flustered as I was, sternly demanded of me: "Did you see that?" On my confessing that I did she put up the window of our jobbed brougham and never afterwards allowed me to have it down while in the Row or other dangerous places; and I had to rub holes in the film of breath lining the glass to see anything at all. Small wonder that in my seclusion I nursed the memory of a momentary adventure with a young man until it grew to the proportion of a personal romance. In all my subsequent walks and drives with her I was thinking of him, looking for him; and as a respectable mother of a family have not forgotten the spiritual freemasonry (as it was idealised into) of his passing twinkle of a smile. How handsome he was! And how well we understood each other!

Only once did I escape out of my cage and fly at large in London. It was with a young widowed cousin, who, as a married woman, was allowed to take me out. We did not dare to report that we had eaten lunch at a railway buffet, ridden in omnibuses (a thing no gentlewoman of those days was supposed to do—she was expected to walk rather), and even trodden a pavement overlooked by club windows, when we returned to Notting Hill at nightfall. The widowed cousin, too, was one of three motherless bairns whom the aunt had brought up from infancy. However, with all the risks of reaction, it seems to many of us old stagers that it is good to have borne the yoke in our youth, and that some modification of the apparatus would be better for our children than none at all. Of course they do not agree with us, which makes it very likely that we are wrong.

Old and new met together at our journey's end—the gates of the Anglo-French Exhibition at Shepherd's Bush. The place had just been opened to the public, and was the sensation of the hour, even more interesting to my companion than to me, drowned as I was in associations of the past. The supposed object of our drive was to locate it, the beautiful imitation-alabaster city that held promise for both of us, amply redeemed in due course, of happy days to come. This accomplished, we returned to our hotel stupefied with fatigue. The two men were able to enjoy a good dinner and a fairly late sit-up talk. I tumbled straightway into a comfortable bed, and sighed and sighed, too tired to eat or speak, but as blissfully satisfied with the state of things as it was possible to be. A nice little tea-tray came to my bedside presently, and after it the kind landlady herself to see what else she could do for me, just like the thoughtful hostess who has been one's friend for years. I slept little, that first night in England, but there was every inducement to repose. The little city square was as quiet as the Bush. I could hear the soft and mellow chime of a distant clock at intervals—very far away it seemed—and that was the only sound. We had an open window, as usual, and could not understand how the heart of London could be so still.

A cheerful and quiet coffee-room welcomed us to an excellent breakfast next day. We had promised ourselves "real" Yarmouth bloaters (one of a few long-cherished gastronomical dreams brought over with other luggage); the maid apologised for giving us broiled mackerel instead, but that was memorably delicious. I cannot help mentioning it. I may as well mention also, while I am about it, that the plentiful Australian table is not to be compared with the English in the matter of fish and game.

Breakfast over, our courier was set free to roam the White City at Shepherd's Bush until tea-time, and my husband and I set forth on an aimless ramble together, merely to see London and amuse ourselves, all business barred. What a time we had! More drives on motor 'buses; more English delicacies for our voracious appetites at luncheon (sausages, which G. had always declared they did not know how to make in Australia); St Paul's, inside and out; lovely Staples Inn, which I could hardly tear myself away from; and the commoner lions of the city, such as the Mansion House and the Bank—all new to me. I felt quite an old Londoner by four o'clock, when it was time to reunite our party, get a cup of tea, and start on our journey to Cambridgeshire.

Only a few days later I discovered another London I had not known. I returned to spend a week with a many-years-old friend, a personage of distinction, even to her royal kinsfolk, but never other than the dearest of the dear. Instead of riding motor 'buses I sat behind ducal liveries. In the way of entertainment privileges were accorded me that no money could buy. It was the brilliant episode of my trip, and that, to my regret (as the author), is all I can say about it in this book. What a pity that considerations of taste and decorum should compel the autobiographer, as considerations of imperial policy compel the Russian press censor, to "black out" the very bits that would be most interesting to read. If one could throw delicate scruples to the winds and tell the whole story of any human life, or portion of life, however small, the long reign of the work of fiction would be over.

June was still less than a fortnight old when this happy week began—with a satisfying drive from Liverpool Street Station to the heart of Belgravia in a hansom all to myself—just when I preferred no company. A drive, I must add, as cheap as it was delightful. Half-a-crown! It was hard to believe the driver serious. I could not have done the distance in a Melbourne hansom under half-a-sovereign. According to my prevailing luck the weather was perfect, and every inch of the way for me was packed with interest. The Thames Embankment was a-making when I left in 1870; now I saw it and its stately precincts in their modern character. And, in addition to the features of what was but background to London life, I saw a great procession of the Protesting Women, coming upon it in the very nick of time, as if I had planned to do so. I passed its whole length, seemingly of miles, from end to end, sometimes at a foot's pace, sometimes blocked for several minutes at a time, the ordinary traffic having but half the road; and I rejoiced in my slow progress and was profoundly impressed with the spectacle. Not having heard about it beforehand I was puzzled to account for the immense lines of carriages filled with women—many of the carriages very smart, and a number of the women in academic dress, wearing the hoods of their degrees—massed in Whitehall and thereabouts; but the significance of the demonstration was soon made evident—before the army on foot, with its multitudinous banners came upon the scene, led by the aged and honoured ladies who had been fighting the same battle half-a-century ago.

In view of all I have since heard and read of the antics of what the newspapers call the militant suffragettes, I am glad I had this opportunity to gauge the strength and seriousness of the movement behind them, which—unless their actions are grossly misreported—they pitifully misrepresent. So long as my eye was on it, at any rate, the march of the countless women was as dignified as anything I ever saw; nor could a funeral procession have been treated by the bystanders with more respect. That was the most striking thing about it. The half-width of the street, congested with the traffic of the whole, blocked to a standstill every few yards, neither murmured nor jeered—not by a single voice that I could hear. While here and there a man stood to give dumb homage, his hat in his hand.

But, oh, what a Mediæval sort of business it all seemed! To be struggling so long, and with such pain and passion, for mere liberty—in our England of all places—at this time of day! How strange to one long outside the groove, the limitation of vision of those within! If it were permissible to teach our grandmother to suck eggs, we could tell her that the tremendous controversy is but a mountain labouring of mouse. In our young country overseas "votes for women" were given to us as naturally as they give licences to respectable lady innkeepers; after due discussion in parliament, of course, and some "say" at public meetings of the party chiefly concerned, but with no vulgar altercation or unseemly fuss of any kind. And we quietly go forth to the nearest polling-place on (the very infrequent) election mornings, being supposed to have glanced at the family newspaper from day to day, and come back to our domestic avocations (most of us like to get the small job over as soon as possible after breakfast); and the world goes on with no sign of damage. Not being necessarily the adversaries of man, because not unjustly suffering from his rule, and having had no devil of vindictiveness put into us we do not interfere with him in Parliament or on the Bench, or attempt to upset his dignity in any way. We have public work enough managing the hospitals, and such things, where we have the free hand to save him a world of trouble. Though, if a woman should turn up in a legislative assembly some fine day—and it might be any day—I really do not think the skies would fall. My belief is that the men would get used to it in a week and reconciled in a month. Not that I would be that woman for anything you could give me. The main thing is that politically we are good friends and not sore-hearted antagonists. As fairly as our men have dealt by us shall we deal by them. Dear, dear! To think what a buttress Ireland might have been to England now if she had been let out of leading-strings three generations ago!

I returned to London at intervals between this sweet June day, when the rhododendrons in the Park were still abloom and the "Season" at its culmination, and the early winter evening of my last departure; but without those passages which must be "blacked out" the tale is but a tale of prosaic shoppings and the sort of country-cousin sightseeings at which the superior person lifts the nose of scorn. Even in the latter regard, I did not see half the things I had meant to see. The Royal Academy Exhibition was postponed and postponed until too late. The British Museum, the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey—even these I missed. The Tower, which I had never seen at all, that I can remember, I now saw only from the outside—except on the stage at Drury Lane, in the Marriages of Mayfair. The friend and hostess who took me to this play, as the wife of a Colonel of Grenadiers and intimately acquainted with the life of the place, answered for the accuracy of detail in the dramatic representation of it; furthermore, she arranged that I was to explore the great fortress in her company, and took my promise to accept no other guide. I was then within a fortnight of leaving England, and, to my keen regret, the press of last engagements crowded that one out.

Mention of the Tower reminds me of a circumstance that occurred the night before we made the futile compact, than which circumstance nothing happening to me in London impressed me more.

An afternoon at His Majesty's to see Beerbohm Tree in Faust—the new Faust, redeemed, not destroyed, through his human errors; the new Mephistopheles, with the dignity of a god—had provided excitement enough for one day, and we decided to spend the evening quietly at home. Tea, a rest with a book, three only at dinner, were the peaceful preliminaries; then we sank into deep sofa-corners by the drawing-room fire.

"This," said B., "is the opportunity I have been looking for to show you something. They have only just come back from the British Museum."

Two large, thick volumes were produced. And when I opened one of them—the other was a typed rendering of the precious text—I perceived that I was privileged for the moment above the rest of my countrymen. For I was the first of the general public to read some most interesting pages of English history, lost long before the story as we know it was put together for the use of schools.

For three hundred years or more they had probably been in hiding where they had recently been found—in the library of one of the seats of the family to which B. belonged. Consequent upon the death of the owner, her brother-in-law, there had been rummaging about the house, and a quantity of valuable documents had been discovered behind oaken wainscots and elsewhere. A cupboardful, found at a moment when it was not convenient to remove them, mysteriously disappeared, unread, before they could be retrieved; the bundle of letters on my knee had been spared to the family, of which a Lord C., of Charles the Second's reign, had been friend and kin to the writers. B. and the British Museum had been attending to their preservation. They had been carefully arranged and bound, and their condition was so perfect, and the penmanship was so exquisite, that I was able to read the original, in the old lettering of the time, as fast as B. could follow me with the modernised typed copy. We took turn and turn about with this reading and checking, and I suppose it took us hours—we were too absorbed to think of time—to get through the whole, if we did get through it.

They were the letters of that Lord William Russell who was beheaded, and of his wife, the famous Rachel, written during his trial and imprisonment, to and of each other, to Charles the Second, and the King's replies; portions of her journals; a long and minutely detailed account of the whole tragedy, from day to day, almost from hour to hour, by Bishop Burnet, who attended the prisoner—all in their own handwritings; and a more touching and elevating tale and a more distinguished piece of literature I do not remember to have come across. B. showed me a letter from the lady who had typewritten the copy. She said in effect that her sense of the privilege conferred on her with the work was beyond words. By this time, possibly, Lady C. has allowed the documents, family archives though they be, to be published for the benefit of the nation. Unless, indeed, the nation has had them this long time, and I have not known it.

Beheadings, again, remind me of Madame Tussaud's. As a child I had thought it hard lines never to see the famous waxworks, and I never did—until this belated return to where they were. I might not then have done so but for the accident of a Baker Street engagement, which being discharged with unexpected promptitude left us, G. and I, with an hour or two on our hands. The great building, new since he had visited it, stood almost over us, conspicuously proclaiming itself, and with one accord we turned into it. Another lifelong ambition gratified at last!

"You won't go into the Chamber of Horrors, I suppose?" said G., when I had viewed Mrs Pankhurst and the rest of the notabilities.

"Oh yes," said I, for I was out to see things. And down I went. It was not particularly thrilling to one whose childhood was so far behind, but it was very nasty. A cup of tea in the fresh air of the restaurant was grateful after it. And I felt a particular craving for a bath.

One thing, however, has contrived to haunt me—the mask of Marie Antoinette as at the moment after execution, with the blood-oozing nostrils and the swooning, drowning eyes. For it seemed to me as if that might be very much how she would have looked.

But it strikes me I am not developing the proposition set at the beginning of this chapter to be the text of my discourse.



The second evening ashore saw us speeding out of London towards Cambridge and Ely, and beyond to the not-to-be-mentioned spot in the fens which represented the bosom of the family—G.'s family, that is to say, for England held no more trace of mine.

I saw prettier English landscapes afterwards, from the windows of railway carriages, but this first picture of the green country was overwhelmingly beautiful to my eyes. I had forgotten what the country grass was like, and the country trees. Our "English trees" of boulevard and garden had not struck me as inferior to their ancestors in any way, but here, in these glorious free-flung masses, how different they were. Throughout my stay and various ramblings in the land, the trees and the grass were my constant joy. The lawns of English gardens—not bits and scraps that must not be trodden on, but acres of velvet-soft emerald carpet always under one's feet, making the loveliest setting for flowers and tea-parties. It happened in this lucky year that the summer was the finest the land had known for years, and I think I must have had my tea on grass more times in that short English season than in all the years of my sojourn in the brighter country of the South; if I except Bush picnics—and I need not except them, because the aim of Bush campers is to keep as clear of grass as possible. I am not ashamed to say that I could have wept for joy of those English trees and meadows when I first saw them after the long, long exile. Nothing but the publicity of my position prevented it. I could only look and look at them till throat and eyes ached. I could not talk.

The unspeakable memories that thronged the platform at Cambridge! The last moment of one of the most tragical happenings of my life passed me, probably, on the very spot where our train halted. At a later day the ghosts of all the hours belonging to that last moment forgathered with me in the old quadrangles, and I could not believe they had been there for forty years. The first glimpse of the towers of Ely was still more thrilling. That ever I should have lived to see them again! Here, when soon afterwards we prowled about the place—the first I saw of an English provincial town after my return—I found my eye hopelessly out of focus. I ought to have known it better than any spot in the country. I had lived there and married there, and it had been my last English home; yet, but for the cathedral, I should not have recognised it. "This Ely!" I exclaimed. "These little, little, quaint, cramped streets and houses!" I seemed to have seen them in a picture; they were incredible as the whole substance of our city of old. Gradually I got the perspective, but it took two or three visits to do it. The familiar past enmeshed me with its thousand tentacles. "You don't know me, ma'am?" a weather-beaten matron emotionally accosted me on the steps of the post-office—her married daughter drove the cart she hastily descended from on seeing me. "You don't remember me? I was housemaid at W—— when you were there on your honeymoon." One of the young maids, with white satin ribbon in their caps, who stood with their smiling welcomes on the doorstep of the rectory at W—— when our bridal brougham drove up in 1870! The tears jumped to my own eyes as I wrung her toil-worn hands. I nearly kissed her in the open street—and market day too! Old servants, old friends, stretched arms to draw me into the groove they had never left—never been thrown out of, as I was—until the gulf of years sank out of sight, and we fraternised again as if partings had never been. Yet I could not get the "atmosphere," so to speak. I am such a fresh-air person! The first time I attended service at the cathedral where I was such a devout worshipper in my youth, although it was a Pan-Anglican function, with a stirring American preacher to it, and my personal interest in the occasion, apart from that, was intense, I was so overcome with drowsiness that I had to struggle the whole time not to disgrace myself before the bishops, under whose eyes I sat. I could easily attribute it to the fatiguing excitements of the first days in England, but that was no reason why at each subsequent service at the same place the same phenomenon should occur. As surely as I went to church at the cathedral, I got deadly sleepy straight away, and had to fight to keep eyes snapping and head from rolling off. Suddenly I suspected what the trouble was. I looked up at the roofs, into the lantern, around the windows—there was not a crack for ventilation above the doorways, never had been in the hundreds of years that pious breathings had daily been going up. When I mentioned the matter to my old friends, who had been going to the cathedral all the time I had been away, they were rather inclined to be annoyed. They found nothing wrong with the air of the cathedral. Of course not. Nor did I in the old days. It was typical of the sea-change my whole being had undergone.

Well, after that sight of Ely—and a glorious pile it is, from just that point of view that the London train gives you as it draws near to the station—after Ely, fen of the fens, that was drowned morass not so very long ago, now richly cropped, the farms and hamlets standing clear like things set on a table; then the station in the fields, the little governess-cart at the gate, the unknown niece at the pony's head; the short cut across country, and the old farmhouse, a long grey streak on a wide green sea, with one bright and beautiful splash of colour lighting up the sober landscape—the flaming orange of an Austrian briar bush in full bloom on the front lawn. Finally, the bosom of the family, over which the veil of reticence must fall.

On the following evening—no, the evening after that—I had the long-dreamed-of bliss of a ramble through English lanes. Although it was fen country, there were lanes about the farm—green old trees interlacing overhead, green grass thick as a silk rug underfoot, all the precious things that used to be in tangled hedge and ditch. I gathered them, and sniffed them, and cherished them; no words can describe the ecstasy of the meeting with them again—pink herb-robert in its brown calyx, the darling little blue speedwell—"birdseye," as we called it; white cow-parsnip, wild roses (following the may, which had just passed), buttercups and oxeye daisies and yellow birdsfoot trefoil, and all the rest of them; their scents, even more than their sweet forms, overpowering in suggestion of the days that were no more. The nightingale, to my disappointment, was gone, but the lark and the cuckoo were rarely silent. A dear brown-velvet "bumble"-bee showed me his golden stripe again. Nesting partridges whirred up from the hedgerows in their sudden way and went flickering over the fields—dewy English fields, exhaling the breath of clover and beanflower, the incomparable perfume of English earth....

But Norfolk is my county. And not thirty-eight years, but nearly half-a-century, had passed since I was within its borders, when I crossed them again about a month after our return. A still longer interval had elapsed between my departure from the first home that I remember and my seeing it again—and recognising it in the selfsame moment.

A Cambridgeshire sister-in-law had been led by various accidental happenings to rent a house right in the middle of my territory, unaware that I was not as great a stranger to Norfolk as herself. The haunts of my childhood lay around her in all directions and close up to her doors, and never, never had I expected to revisit them, except in dreams. G. can hardly be dragged by an ox chain where he does not want to go, and he did not want to go to D——, which had no associations for him, even to see his sister. "Why couldn't she have settled in some decent place?" he wanted to know, when her affectionate calls to him to come and be entertained evoked the spectre of boredom which never in any circumstances appeared to me. The pretty town of her adoption was, from his point of view, a "hole," with "nothing in it." But my luck was in when she drifted thither. It was the first court of the sanctuary, so to speak; the way by which I entered the hallowed places of the past. Every inch of the old streets, every brick and chimney-pot over fifty years old, was sacred to me. The bulk of life lay between that past and now, and the intervening years dropped away as if they had never been.

Over the road from my bedroom window in her house stood a fine old dwelling, with a sundial on a prominent gable, and a high-walled garden of which I caught beautiful glimpses through the tall iron gates and between the ancient trees—quite unchanged. There, when I was a child, Miss M. kept her Preparatory School for Young Gentlemen, still mentioned with pride in the local handbooks, although long extinct. "Many of her old pupils have attained high positions in the world," say they; and I wonder if these were any of the little men with whom we little women of eight or nine or thereabouts exchanged furtive glances over the pew-tops in the old parish church on Sundays. I can see some of their faces now, and hers, so serene and lofty, as she stood amongst them, her ringlets showering down out of her bonnet like two bunches of laburnum, a narrow silken scarf about her well-boned bust. Young Nelsons of the great admiral's family were amongst Miss M.'s "young gentlemen"; the hero himself was at school in D——, although his schoolhouse is no more; and the cocked hat, with two bullet holes through it, in which he fought the Battle of the Nile, has belonged to the neighbourhood since before Trafalgar. "Well, Beechey, I'm off after the French again. What shall I leave my godson?" The hat was asked for, and, says Nelson, "He shall have it," and the granddaughter of the honoured infant has it still. It takes a Norfolk person to appreciate the importance of these historic associations to a little Norfolk town.

On the Denes at Yarmouth there is a tall column, something like one hundred and fifty feet high, with Britannia ruling the waves from the apex, that in my time stood majestically alone between river and sea, and part of its dedicatory inscription, which is in Latin, runs thus:


Whom, as her first and proudest champion in naval fight, Britain honoured, while living, with her favour, and, when lost, with her tears; Of whom, signalised by his triumphs in all lands, the whole earth stood in awe on account of the tempered firmness of his counsels, and the undaunted ardour of his courage; This great man NORFOLK boasts her own, not only as born there of a respectable family, and as there having received his early education, but her own also in talents manners and mind.

This will show how little D——, which assisted at his early education, deserves to be called a "hole, with nothing in it."

Miss M. died or retired in time to leave another set of memories for me around that old house. I laughed to myself as I looked at the gate through which a most dashing, black-whiskered gentleman of the D'Orsay type used to issue of a Sunday morning, gloved in primrose kid, crowned with glossiest beaver, the glass of fashion to his sex and the admiration of ours, and thought of his little secret which I daresay he never knew had been surprised.

His pew in the old church (all open benches now) was close to ours, and we little girls used to watch him as he entered and stood, turned to the wall, with his hat before his face, to say his preliminary prayer. Something aroused our suspicions, and a burning desire to see the lining of that hat. Patience and perseverance rewarded us with a peep, and there was a little round mirror fixed to the inside of the crown.

And then I sighed, remembering his sister—I think it was his sister—a rather swarthy, dark-browed, Juno-like creature, as I recall her; knowing that I had just been within a touch of meeting her again; an old old woman....

Once, in the far past, at the first known home, some miles from D——, we gave a dance. You remember those dances of the fifties, dear reader who went to them? They were simple affairs; no caterer from outside the house, no outlay for flowers or band or champagne, or the hire of public rooms (except for county or hunt balls, and then the claim was light on the individual pocket). But if they were not as delightful to go to as the more expensive corresponding functions of these days, I have no memory worth trusting. I am sure you will say the same.

The guests were dancing by eight o'clock to the strains of the domestic piano, the polka and the schottische and the varsoviana alternating with quadrilles and lancers, the waltz a stately gyration round and round. They were not staled and blasé, those simple people, but as fresh as children for the game in hand. They had time to play it then. Whole love stories were enacted in a night, and there was one in which I played a part which I was too young to appreciate at the time, and of which that handsome girl of the house opposite was the heroine. In my ringlets and sandalled shoes, my full-skirted book-muslin frock and blue sash and shoulder-knots—a little spoiled child allowed to see the fun for an hour or two when she ought to have been in bed—I was passed from knee to knee, petted to my heart's content by the adult guests, the gentlemen especially; and the festive scene is as clear before me now as it was then. The drawing-room was festooned with wreaths of evergreen and paper flowers, out of which branched candles in hidden sconces made of tin; the nursery guard was before the fire; the mirror with the gilt eagle on the top reflected moving figures that had space to swim in the mazy dance without jostling each other.

"Do you see that lady in the white dress?" a whiskered nurse of mine whispered in my ear.

I did—I see her now—her dark eyes flashing, dark cheek glowing, deep breast visibly swelling with the triumph of the hour—the undoubted belle of the ball. Her dress was of white tulle, flounced to the waist and trimmed with a long spray, running obliquely from neck to hem, of white artificial roses sprinkled with glass dewdrops. A cluster of the same was set in her abundant dusky hair.

"I want you to take something to her," said he, fumbling. "Don't show it to anybody, and don't give it to anybody but her."

He closed my little fist over a wad of folded paper, and I dodged through the crowd and delivered it, and returned to report.

"Did she read it?"


"Did she say anything?"


"Didn't she take any notice at all?"

"She only laughed."

He fell into sombre reverie, and I left him for more cheerful companionship.

Later in the evening I was in the vicinity of the belle of the ball, and she beckoned me, stooped, and whispered. "Take this to Mr G. Don't let anyone see it. Give it to him when nobody is looking."

I brought him the note, and straightway he forgot me and my services. The next I saw of him he was sitting in her pocket under the stairs.

And she did not marry him, after all! And now she is an old, old woman!

There was another member of the family (a cousin of these two), whose portrait in my mental picture gallery has been classed always as a gem of romantic art.

I only saw her once, and that was after another ball given at the same old country house where the lady of the tulle dress and dew-sprinkled roses disported herself with Mr G. I do not think I could have attended this ball myself, for I have no recollection of seeing the girl I refer to, who was there, until the following day. Her chaperon, whoever it was, had left her over in my mother's care, probably to get thoroughly rested before taking the journey home. In the morning we only heard of her. She was in bed, being assiduously coddled. Before she came forth mother gathered her little ones together and thus admonished them:

"Yes, you will see her at dinner, and if you are very good you may take her for a walk with you this afternoon. But, mind, you must be very gentle with her. You must take the greatest care of her, because she is in a decline and very soon she is going to die." We were further commanded on no account to disclose our knowledge of her sad fate to the invalid.

She come down to the midday farmhouse dinner, and it was then I took my indelible picture of her. She was probably eighteen, a willowy slip of a girl, and with the pathos of her doom about her, the loveliest creature my eyes (with such an idealising quality in them) had ever seen. That was the impression, made permanent. Very fair of skin, with golden hair arranged Madonna-wise in smooth bands; and dressed all in white, looking the part my mother had given her to perfection—an angel at large, granted to gross mortals for a little while to be jealously recalled to her proper place. Her white muslin bodice was long-waisted and stiffly-boned, and cut to a deep point in front over the bunchy skirt; but it was lovely. And the gold watch at her side, and the long gold chain round her neck to which it was attached, gave just the touch of radiance to the unearthly purity of her appearance, as effective as a Fra Angelico halo.

We took her for a walk through our fields and lanes, and with awe and reverence laid ourselves out to take care of her. I remember that we gathered mushrooms and that she ate some raw, which was unwise of her in her delicate condition. I also remember (only it spoils the picture to include such a squalid detail) that some of the little party ate more than she did, and that one was deadly sick and had to be carried home. At that point she fades from the scene—went away to die, as I supposed. This one tragic vision of her made such an impression upon my imagination that I have thought of her when anything reminded me, for over half-a-century; but I have never thought of her as being other than half angel in heaven and half dust of the earth all the time. I thought of her when I looked out of my window in my sister-in-law's house at the old house opposite, when first I returned to D——, still with an ache of pity for a young life defrauded of the common heritage, which we others, not more deserving, had come into.

But almost immediately afterwards my hostess asked me to go with her to call upon one of her new acquaintances, a lady who had known me as a child, had heard of my coming, and wished to see me. She bore the name of the family which had followed Miss M. at the house with the sundial on the wall, but as she was a widow that was the name of her husband's family, and so I had no clue to her.

We found her in the pretty garden of her handsome house close by, and she welcomed me warmly.

"You remember me?" she queried, when I had taken a basket chair beside her. "I once stayed at your house at T——. I went to a party your mother gave, and remained overnight. Don't you remember?"

I said I did, because I knew as soon as I looked at her that I had seen her before. The forehead and the set of the eyes came back to me from the past, unmistakably familiar. But the whole time I was there, although she kept talking of the old times and the old people, I was cudgelling my brains to place her and I could not. She told me she had married her cousin and had not changed her name, so that I knew where she belonged; and yet I could not think of any member of the family answering to her personal reminiscences. She took me round her garden, she showed me the rooms she lived in, spoke of her life with her husband, recently dead, but with her long enough for them to celebrate their golden wedding together; and yet I could not get myself on to the right track. I went home with my sister-in-law quite worried and bothered about it, and lay awake at night to continue my search in the holes and corners of Memory when the public, so to speak, had left the building.

Suddenly I discovered her. The face of the deaf old lady of over seventy, and the angular body that had to lean on an arm or a stick when it walked abroad, were suddenly transfigured like Faust in the play, and there hung before my eyes in the dark the beautiful vision of that golden-haired girl in white whom we had been told to take care of and be good to because she was to die soon. There was no doubt about it. That forehead and those eyes, that I had instantly recognised, although I could not identify them, were hers. She had not been dust of the earth for half-a-century, but alive all the time—yes, and well and happy; and now she was in the most comfortable circumstances and apparently far from her journey's ending still. It was a delightful discovery. Quite an appreciable sorrow seemed to have been lifted from my heart.

Unfortunately I had no opportunity to see her again, to talk with her of the old times now that I should know what I was talking about. When you have but six months in England in which to make up the arrears of about three-quarters of a lifetime, every visit is a flying visit, every taste of the old friendships but a tantalising sip.

Down the road from the walled garden of the house I have been speaking of, another high wall with a door at one end and a carriage gate at the other, the spreading crown of a great chestnut-tree overtopping the middle, bounded the street side of another garden, and sheltered from public view another house which cried to me with a thousand tongues of memory every time I passed it on my way to and from the railway station. It was one of my own old homes—the third, not counting my birthplace (which I left as a baby, and therefore have no knowledge of). The tenant of this house in D—— was now my sister-in-law's landlord, and I could have gone through it if there had been time for a polite process of siege; but because an Englishman's house is his castle, and you cannot march into it without notice as if it was yours, I was able to see only the outside of any of my old homes. Perhaps it was as well.

When no one was looking I lingered by the carriage gate, through which all the front of the house was visible—the pillared porch and flight of steps within it, the windows of the rooms where we lived when we were a family of seven or eight, and not of two as we are now; and behind them I could see with the eyes of imagination all I wanted to know.

The garden had been rearranged. There were greenhouses in it that used not to be, and the stone lions were gone. In my time two large heraldic lions, that came from the piers of a park entrance to an estate that had been brought to the hammer, sat on square pedestals in front of the house, ornaments of a semicircular lawn that now spread over ground once cut off for strawberry beds and espalier apple-trees. Under the belly of one of those lions, whose forepaws served for doorway and his haunches for shelter from wind and rain, I had my summer reading place. There I wept over the death of the Heir of Redclyffe, and shivered at the ghastly imaginings of Edgar Allan Poe. There also I made the little secret scribblings that were to lead eventually to the writing of this book. I could not see round to the arbour under the big chestnut-tree—or where the arbour was—with its processioning groups of ghosts; nor the thickets of syringa bushes, the scent of which has never come to my nose without the suggestion of this place to my mind, and never will. The nose is as sensitive to poetic impressions as the eye with its rose-coloured spectacles, if not more so. There is a poem of W.W. Story's which begins:

"O faint, delicious, spring-time violet!
Thine odour, like a key,
Turns noiselessly in memory's wards to let
A thought of sorrow free.

The breath of distant fields upon my brow
Blows through that open door ..."

And just so it is, and was, with me. Every exhalation of English earth was a magic potion to conjure visions and dreams. It did not need to be a perfume for the handkerchief, syringa or violet, jasmine or lily-of-the-valley; the smell of the little herb-robert, whose other name is something with "stink" in it, was to me—who had not smelt it for forty years—the most exquisite of all.

But the shrubbery walk around the fruit garden where the syringas grew was all open border now, not shady and secluded as when I used to pace it in dusk and dark with the earliest of those fairy emissaries that come to a girl when she is passing into her teens.... For the peculiar charm of this garden is that it was the scene of the great transition.

Here I received my first proposal. Heavens! what a shock it gave me. In fact I was horrified and terrified out of my wits. It came in a letter surreptitiously conveyed to me through servants. "I love you with my whole heart. Dare I hope that I am loved in return?"—the startling words were but the commencement of a long outpouring, but I was so frightened by them that I dared not read another. In frantic haste I destroyed the letter, and thereafter went in fear and dread of the writer—quite a grown man to me, perhaps eighteen—as of an ogre waiting to devour me. I may point out, by the way, that it is a mistake not to read letters through—one that I did not make again. This unread letter contained a request that I would, if I favoured my lover's suit, indicate the same to him by a certain sign that he alone would understand, and in my ignorance I made that sign, placing myself where he could find me, when all my aim was to get as far away from him as possible. How I hated him for his attentions no words can tell. On the other hand I rather "cottoned" to a brother of his, who did not write me love-letters. For little girls do cotton to little boys, and vice versa, and why not? "I confess I get consolation ... in seeing the artless little girls walking after the boys to whom they incline ... this is as it should be," said Thackeray, writing of children's parties. But the boy to whom I was secretly inclined was never aware of the compliment paid him, and, almost before I was aware of it myself, he was sadly removed from my path by an accidental gun-shot. And the boy who inclined, much more than inclined, to me I took every precaution that was in my power never to speak to again. I cannot remember that I ever did so.

But the reader who knows anything at all of human nature does not need to be told that when I found myself in D—— again, after an interval of nearly half-a-century, my inclination was rather to see him than to avoid him. It would be a piquant moment, I felt, that of meeting now, if his memory of early happenings was as good in old age as mine; even although no reference to them should be permitted. I quite looked forward to it.

But it was not to be. Although I had nothing to be ashamed of in connection with him—very much to the contrary—I did not mention his name to anybody, also I need not say that I kept to myself the little affair that had been between us; I merely held an ear cocked for casual information. And it ended with my leaving D—— without having any news of him, not knowing even whether he was alive or dead.

But later I dropped across one of his sisters, a widow, who had become connected by marriage with my husband's family. One day we went in a little party to the town where she lived and she entertained us to tea. I sat beside her at table, and inevitably we gossiped of our young days throughout the meal. She told me what had become of her several brothers and sisters, and so as last I heard of the one in whom I was interested.

"I have just had a letter from him," said she, no trace in her face or voice of any knowledge of the ancient secret. "I told him that you were in England, and he wishes me to give you his kindest remembrances and to say he is very sorry not to be able to see you." I forget where she said he lived, but it was in some far-away county; married, of course, with grown-up children—no doubt grandchildren—as I have.



There was another old home—an earlier one—that on my first walk in D—— I went to look at. Its associations were even more keenly dear, and archæologically it was immensely the most interesting.

I was astonished to see how very, very old it was, and for the first time was curious about its evidently extensive history. There was a monastic suggestion in its thick walls and crow-stepped gables, and the oaken door exactly like a church door, and the peculiar irregularity of the grouping of its parts. Nothing was changed, except that a horrid little office had been built into a corner that was once a sunless well between masonry, containing only evergreen shrubs and a dense mat of lilies-of-the-valley; but the office was an excrescence so glaringly alone by itself that one could treat it as if it were a tradesman's cart awaiting orders. Nothing else seemed to have been altered; even the bay-tree, from which we gathered leaves to flavour cookings, stood in the little front court as of yore, and the old ivy was, I am sure, the old ivy of fifty, possibly a hundred, if not a thousand, years ago. I viewed the place now with instructed eyes, which told me that half-a-century was a mere fraction of its age.

The guide-book says nothing about it. Old dwelling-houses are too thick on the ground in England to have any distinction unconnected with famous persons and events; this was no more to the town of D—— in 1908 than it was to us when we left it for the modern four-square house with the pillared portico and stone lions on the lawn, down there near the station. At neither time was there a doubt of the latter's incomparable superiority.

But I had come from the land of the raw and new, the domain of the social vagrant and the speculative builder, and I could appreciate the charm of this relic of antiquity, for the first time. I stood at the gate, and tried to think how it had come there. The clue was in the name of the lane beside it—Priory Road—and in the guide-book statement that the fine old rectory, in the gardens of which we used to lose arrows and balls over the wall dividing it from ours, stood "on the site of a Benedictine Priory."

Then I tried to reconstruct the plan of the interior, and remembered that the floor under the cocoanut matting of the dining-room was of cold stone slabs; the passages the same, and I think there was a press of black wood, that became store cupboards, built into an end of that room. Entering the arched front door, of such pronounced ecclesiastical design, mother's store-room was the first thing you came to, a room that opened out of the front hall on your right hand. Passing through that hall and opening the door that faced you, you were dropped straight into the drawing-room down a short flight of steps. One window of that apartment looked out towards the road (I fancy the excrescent office blocked it); another, and a door, opened directly upon the garden, gravelled nearly all over, with, at one side, a group of large and very old yew-trees, roofing a circular wooden bench. In the right-hand drawing-room wall a third door opened, at the top of another flight of steps, into what we called the music-room—really a cosier sitting-room, incidentally enclosing the piano, and without so many draughts in it; and a fourth door in a fourth wall led you into the stone-flagged passage connecting with our refectory and the domestic offices, and to the foot of the staircase. Surely that plan was never drawn with a view to the convenience of a lay family!

Upstairs the arrangement was still more unconventional, although it may have been conventual, for aught I know. That window over the arched main entrance—it was open, and its muslin curtains fluttering in the breeze—belonged to one of three rooms so tucked into the many-cornered structure that they described a sort of triangle; one was hemmed in by two, the only way in and out being through one or other of those two, which also intercommunicated, the point of common junction being a sort of square entry place, having the three doors in its panelled sides. For some reason the inmost, which was also to the person in the road the outermost, room was reserved as a guest chamber—the aunts used it; but once it was given to a male visitor, who wanted to be out early. His dilemma was a cruel one, seeing that his window was in a sheer wall and he had no rope ladder. He could gain freedom only through my parents' room or through that occupied by their daughters, now grown from babies to little girls. After long listening in our joint vestibule, he chose the former path, as the least of two evils; but, although he crept on stockinged feet, my mother was awake. She made some alterations after that. It seems to me they should have been made before.

Over that window above the front door another and smaller window looked down on me. I met its gaze with a shrinking eye and the cold creeps down my back—yes, even after all those years and years! You reached the little sloping walled room behind it through a suite of attics at the top of dark and lonely stairs; the first room was the servants', who, however, were not there when I went to bed; the next had only ghosts in it, and the locked door of a lumber-room out of which I nightly expected some shape of horror to spring forth on me as I breathlessly scurried past; the last—with this window in it—was where I slept with my governess.

Seven governesses in succession reigned over us, for in my circle it was considered rather shocking to send girls to boarding-school, which was quite the proper place for boys; and I can truthfully affirm that I never learned anything which would now be considered worth learning until I had done with them all and started foraging for myself. I did have a few months of boarding-school at the end—obtained by hard teasing for it—and a very good school for its day it was, but it left no lasting impression on my mind, except that of great unhappiness. The unhappiness had nothing to do with its being a boarding-school, but solely to its not being Home. Home is a place that I never do get away from without immediately wishing myself back in it.

Of the first two governesses—technically the nursery governesses—I remember little but their names and the circumstance that one of them was a nobleman's grand-daughter. Her mother had eloped with a poor tutor, and been cast out of her world in consequence—so closely does one generation resemble another in some of its practices, if not in all. The next—I think the next—was she who once turned that gable room into a torture-chamber, worthy successor of heretic-persecuting Mediæval monks, if any such preceded her. Only I was not a heretic, but an innocent, fairly well-behaved, carefully cherished child.

She came from L——, a neighbouring town of county importance, and it was darkly hinted that her father kept a boot-shop there. Anyway, she gave herself great airs. Before coming to us she had been governess at S—— Hall, and her late pupil, Rosamond U——, was thrown in our faces all day long. If they were not so well known, I would like to write the omitted names in full, and express to Rosamond U——, if she be living, the sympathy I have since felt for her in that long-past experience common to us both; but at the time I loathed her beyond everybody, with the solitary exception of our joint governess. Rosamond was so beautiful, so good, such a perfect lady!—the continual foil to her successors. Miss H—— sniffed behind backs at everything in our house, because it was so different from what she had been accustomed to. I slept in her room—alas!—and when she was beautifying herself for the evening and father called for her at the foot of the stairs, she used to inform me, with that ugly smile of hers, that at S—— Hall Mr U—— always came upstairs to her door and escorted her to the drawing-room on his arm—he was such a perfect gentleman! She must have been a liar, than which one is accustomed to believe there is nothing worse; but she was worse—a vile woman all through. I have never in my life disclosed the horrors of the nights I spent with her; her threats of revenge, if I should do so, sealed my lips at the time, and my mortal terror of her, even after she was gone, for years more; and then I was ashamed to speak. My poor parents died ignorant of what they had exposed me to in my tender childhood. I, so extravagantly beloved and cared for! Possibly Rosamond U——'s rank saved her from the like treatment. When I think of Miss H——, and I hate to think of her—even now she could taint the English landscape—when I do think of her, it is to wish I could tell all the parents in the world about her, as a warning against the promiscuous governess and against leaving any governess unwatched. Better the poorest boarding-school, where there is the safety of publicity, a thousand times. In L—— I had a married cousin, whose little bridesmaid I had been, and whose baby, that I was allowed to nurse on a footstool, lured me to stay with her once or twice; but I clung to her side all the time lest perchance I should sight Miss H—— half-a-mile off, after she had left our employ and lost all power over me. One day at church—great St Margaret's, so full of people—I caught a distant glimpse of the dull, sallow face, and nearly fainted as I stood.

Happily, there were other and more wholesome memories connected with that attic room. But it was still a tragedy that came first to my mind when I thought of Miss H——'s successor, Miss W——. For it was in her reign that I very nearly committed suicide.

She was not like—nobody was like—Miss H——, but she was not above using power unfairly when she was put out. I had been nasty to her in some way, and she returned the compliment by formulating a specific complaint of me to father—actually of me, his queen, to him, my devoted slave. She was a pretty young woman, and he, poor man, just as human as could be. He used to take her walks of an evening when he thought she needed exercise, and on other evenings would sit entranced for hours while she sang "Should he Upbraid" and "Good-bye, Sweetheart" and "When the Swallows homeward fly," and scores of other nice things, to him. And that accounts now, although it did not then, for the astounding circumstance that he punished me at her behest. I was not whipped, of course, but I was sent to my room in disgrace and ordered to stay there. Never shall I forget my mingled astonishment, rage and despair under the unprecedented calamity. I would not have minded, I thought, if I had really done the thing she had accused me of. But I was an innocent victim, and it was father—father—who had been set against me! Simply I could not bear it. I resolved to put an end to my wretched existence there and then. "When he comes and finds me dead upon the floor, then he will be sorry," was the reflection that was to console me in my last moments. But, although I crept into mother's room and ransacked her medicine cupboard for the fatal dose, I did not find it; I lived to make friends with father again, and to suffer many more hours of anguish over troubles that were not worth it.

Another episode of Miss W——'s reign came to my mind when I could clear it of the smoke of the darker memories. The brother and sister next below me were the victims of her wrath on this occasion. I was away from home, and my sister was promoted to the attic room and my place in the governess's bed. She noticed, as I had done, Miss W——'s habit of performing half her evening toilet by candlelight and the rest in the dark; she discovered that the unseen part of the process consisted in dabbing the skin with Rowland's Kalydor for the improvement of a much-valued complexion. She told the second brother—a person of humour—who promptly turned the knowledge to account. Together they unearthed the secret bottle of Kalydor, adulterated the contents with ink, re-hid it in its supposed safe place. Night came, and an evening party. Miss W—— dressed herself with special care and splendour, and duly extinguished her candles before applying the finishing touch. She had fine shoulders and arms, now well displayed, and was particularly careful to anoint them thoroughly with her favourite cosmetic. Then she swept downstairs. We had dark staircases and dim halls then, and somehow she did not realise the situation until the drawing-room lights and the eyes and laughs of the assembled company revealed it to her. I am sorry I did not see the dramatic dénouement. There were violent hysterics, I was told, and a terrible hullabaloo. Father, in a towering passion, rushed upstairs and thrashed the children all round, innocent and guilty together, lest he should miss out a possible participant in the crime.

We had two more English governesses, and one French. One of the former had taught a family of cousins and was reported to be very clever; but she had a fiery, ungovernable temper, and did not stay long enough to prove her gifts. She was a tiny woman, and pretty in a bird-like, sharp-nosed, bright-eyed way, and she became engaged to one of the men who admired her; and one day he came to see her, and from the hall where he was taking off his hat and coat overheard her "giving tongue" to our stately youngest aunt, with her customary fierceness and fluency. She was unaware of his propinquity until he marched in to inform her that he had not really known her until that moment, and that, as a consequence of the revelation, his offer of marriage was revoked. It was characteristic of her that she turned on him with a furious repudiation of any desire whatever to be his wife. She died an elderly, if not old, maid some years later.

The other Englishwoman was a dear—and not much else. We loved her, but we did not learn much from her. As for our French companion—it was for French conversation that she was engaged—she was all the time learning English herself. Poor little Eugénie Léonie de B——! She had a white face and big, lustrous black eyes, and pretty frocks, supplied by her mother, herself a governess in an English family of higher consequence than ours. The boys used to tease Eugénie about Waterloo and frogs, and she would burst into rages and tears because her limited vocabulary denied her the power of arguing for her country on equal terms. She was a dear little thing, and we were all fond of her, and she of us; she took the place of another sister while she lived with us, and there was mutual and bitter grief when she went away. But she did not teach us French to any extent. We taught her English instead.

In short, there was not one, I am convinced, amongst them all—with the possible exception of the lady with the temper—who could have passed a proper examination in the subjects she professed to teach. No one asked for a certificate of competency other than her own word and that of her friends. Miss W—— certainly had the warrant of the principal of the best ladies' school in L——, but there was no warrant for principals of schools. They conducted their own examinations and gave judgment in their own way, which might be any way. All I learned effectually during my brief experience of boarding-school was a long poem by N. P. Willis; I was letter-perfect in it for break-up day, but, when the moment came for me to distinguish myself and the school, stage fright paralysed me and I could not utter a word. At least, that is the only scholastic achievement that I can now recall to mind.

In the final result we were able to read and write—not "cypher," in my case; and I could play the piano pretty well (by ear), and my brothers vastly better—especially the eldest—and, later on, one sister also. But that was because music was a passion born in us; it had to come out, wild or cultivated, and our teachers could take little credit for such proficiency as we attained. Instead of making me read scores and understand them, they played my new pieces over to me before setting me to them. It was not only a labour-saving system, but produced the most immediately effective results. I was a brilliant performer of "Woodlands" (descriptive of a gathering and bursting storm and the warbling of little birds after it), and of the "Duet in D," before I could puzzle out a hymn-tune that had not been sung or played to me. The elder brother, who went to school in L—— (whence he used to be brought home suddenly every now and then, at death's door, for mother to nurse to life again), had lessons from a master and the advantage of knowing something of the basis of the art; yet his music was before all things the instinctive speech and poetry of a soul that was not made for this prosaic world. It was hard to get him to play to listeners—to "show off" what was really a great accomplishment from the most common point of view. But in twilight and firelight, or with only me, who was his constant chum, his extemporisation was so exquisite that I used to sit and cry as I listened to it. Once a great musician listened to it, unknown to him, and told our mother that her son was destined to set the Thames on fire some day. He died at seventeen. When he was too weak to sit on the music stool by himself, I used to stand behind him and support his weight against my chest to enable him to enjoy his communion with the divine and beautiful as long as he could.

He died in March; and in June of the same year the second brother, two and a half years younger, was laid beside him. This dear boy, so sweet-tempered, so gay, so unselfish, hid facts that should have been attended to while the other was yet alive, because all his thoughts were for him and he never had any for himself, and his own life was in danger before it was known that he was ill. But an organist friend had promised him the glory of playing the whole Sunday service in a neighbouring church (St Peter's, Great Yarmouth, where we were living at the time), and, with his complaint already past hope, he went off to this task, simply full of it, and performed it triumphantly. It was his last act in life, and through all his delirium until he died his fingers were playing up and down the sheet, showing that his stricken brain made music for him to the last.

The sister was like them both in that one and only respect. She was a delightful extemporiser on the piano, expressing thus all her wayward moods as they alternated so quickly in her passionate little soul. Continually she surprised herself as well as us with some beautiful improvisation, and then burst into tears because she could not repeat it. And all that budding genius to be swept out of the world, without a chance to flower and bear fruit! It is a sad reflection—the waste of valuable things in life, the persistent superfluity of the valueless.

However, such gifts as the then numerous family could lay claim to were hidden as it were in the "plain egg of the nightingale" while our development was in the hands of the governesses. They were intellectually limited, spiritually common, all unlearned, and the majority of them underbred. The fact being that, taking the average of the seven, they fairly represented their class—the governess class of my young days. Naturally, in this case, we more or less fairly represented the class of those who were supposed to be well educated.

But I must except the youngest aunt from this category. She was a governess—but not the average governess—and it was never her opinion that we were well educated. She frequently deplored my own lack of opportunities to improve, and made generous, if vain, efforts to provide them. Before she entered upon her career as instructress of foreign young high-mightinesses, she spent years on her own studies abroad, and she offered to keep me at school in Germany if my parents would send me to her there. I know we were all fools, father, mother and self, but I clung to them and they clung to me, and "No, no, a thousand times no!" was our unanimous reply. "You are standing in the child's light," wrote the youngest aunt from Heidelberg, but that was not fair, for they would have sent me and broken their hearts over it if I had wanted to go. But if the youngest aunt had invited me to join her in heaven, the joylessness of the prospect would have been the same. So she instituted a system of correspondence, as the best she could do in the circumstances. I was to write long and regular letters to her, to which she was to reply, correcting their grammar and composition and otherwise enlightening my neglected mind. I performed my part of this contract not wholly without pleasure in it, and I have no doubt that I owe to her my first taste for literature and the bent towards authorship which afterwards became a fixed line. I remember that it was to her I submitted an early MS., while as yet it was a secret that I wrote stories. This one was all about moated granges and Mediæval castles and the splendours of what I imagined to be high life. How just her criticism was! And how—naturally, on that account—it hurt my feelings then, when I was professionally so young and innocent. "A boudoir," smiled she, "is not a room that a lady keeps all to herself, as she does her bedroom. And she does not have 'tapers' on the dressing-table, but candles. And why don't you write what you understand?" That advice, which is of the best to-day, was astonishingly good for those days.

In later years her letters were like novels themselves. Her reticence about things one burned to know concerning the private lives of her royal employers was impenetrable, but outside of that what food for the romantic imagination! There was the death of her pupil, a young princess of S——, and later the semi-dissolution of her father's kingdom—two events that the youngest aunt took bitterly to heart and discoursed of eloquently. There was that mandate of the Czar to her and another pupil, wintering in Dresden, to return instantly to St Petersburg, and the journey of the party in bullet-proof railway carriages through Poland in revolt. The train crawled along so slowly, on account of the fighting on the line, that they were nearly starved, and when it reached a station where food might be obtained no one but the youngest aunt had the pluck to leave its shelter. The English tutor of her pupil's brother (the children were fatherless wards of the Russian Emperor) cowered in his corner paralysed with fright; the youngest aunt could not find words to express her contempt for him. She gathered up her skirts—it was necessary to hold them high, she said, because the ground was running with blood—and sallied forth to forage alone, returning with a little black bread and some dirty water, procured with great difficulty and by a heavy bribe. I remember that the youngest aunt was all indignation against "ungrateful Poland," which shows how the finest judgment can be affected by the personal point of view. At the end of the perilous journey there was a solemn service of thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Lord's Anointed out of the hands of bloodthirsty rebels. Her sketches of these and other stirring scenes taught me something of the world outside my village or country town; they supplied plots for many early romances that never saw the light.

On the whole, school work was a deadly uninteresting, and therefore unprofitable, business in my time, no matter what the qualifications of teachers. The notion of making it a pleasure as well as a discipline, of breathing into its dry bones any breath of knowledgeable life, seemed not to occur to anybody. The idea that it was anything but a penalty for being young certainly never occurred to us. It is not surprising when one considers other aspects of the social system prevailing at the period. But it does seem strange that a theory of education so essentially stupid on the face of it should still persist to the extent we see in these more enlightened days. And yet—not so strange. Nothing is really strange when you think it out. The schools, most humanly and naturally, keep their old alliance with the Church, clinging to the old dogmas which have been the roots of their being and the symbols of their power for so long; inevitably resisting, while they can, on behalf of all sorts of vested interests, the Spirit of Progress which they must know to be ultimately irresistible. When I see growing children who have spent morning and afternoon at school fagging wearily at "prep" through the evening when they ought to be recruiting with a game or in their beds, I marvel at the hidebound conservatism which can thus ignore the laws of health and the rights of the individual, freely recognised as paramount in other directions. But again—what is there to marvel at? There are scores of good, common-sense business men to whom Compulsory Greek is a sacred thing, and there are thousands and thousands of truly saintly women who would not have a hand laid on the Athanasian Creed for anything. Not to speak of the innumerable brave fellows, souls of honour, flowers of chivalry, who believe as devoutly as they believe in God that the world would go to pieces utterly without its armies and navies.

How often we hear elderly people gushing over their school days! "Ah, those were the happy days!" When I hear them I know exactly what they mean—not the school part of school days, but the free parts in between. I am not of those who sentimentally deceive themselves in this matter—the school parts to me were never happy. I have always known it. And when I came back to the scenes of my schooldays, when I stood in that quiet road at D—— and looked up at the window of the room under the crow-stepped gable, I realised with a shudder how unutterably wretched they had been sometimes.

But it is time I dragged my spirit eyes from that sad little nook in the house of dreams. I will not look at it again. I will take Memory through the ghost-haunted attics behind it and down the twisty stairs, to the lower floors and the garden and the company of my dear family, where she can play about much more cheerfully.



There is always one outstanding association to fly in your face ahead of every other when you encounter a thing or person once connected with your life, that has been severed from it for a long time. And when I looked at the front door like a church door, simultaneously apprehending its interesting character as a door, the first thing I thought of was—valentines.

The word says nothing to my youthful reader. But, oh, dear contemporary for whom especially I write, you who took part with me in those revels that are no more, what it says to us! Certainly our diversions of that time—when we were hardly into our teens, and when we were as innocent as we were young—were so few and simple compared with those of our children at the same age that we got more out of one of them than they do out of a miscellaneous dozen; but I am allowing for that when I say that for this particular diversion, and one or two more of a like kind, no corresponding diversion of the present day offers anything like adequate compensation. There are bloodless creatures, that forget they were ever young, who point to the Christmas card as the improved substitute for our valentine. Christmas card, indeed! So common, so obvious, so lacking in individual human interest! What nonsense!

We know why they do it. But where is the sense of frowning upon the innocent manifestations of nature in girls and boys, such as were called forth by the valentine, the sprig of mistletoe, and certain other of our games of olden times which were as gates ajar into the Promised Land, with their stolen and yet not unauthorised kisses and anonymous love-tokens? They gave honest outlet to the exuberance of healthy youth, sweet and wholesome in its free play, but corrupting in secrecy like everything deprived of air. At least such is my opinion, looking back upon the pranks of my early days. The valentines that came to me in such abundance on the 14th of February were simply symbols of so many lovers and of how they severally regarded me. Who sent this? Who sent that? Who lauds my beauty in such ardent verse? Who asks me to be his? The boy I like (though I may never have exchanged a word with him)? Or the boy I can't bear? The best of the valentine was that, as a rule, it did not tell. The pleasures of imagination and tickled curiosity were not impaired by any gross attempt on the part of the sender to trespass beyond the privilege of the day. Where, then, was the harm?

I became old enough to take my part in this delicate dalliance while we lived in D——, and it was in this house of the church door that my most interesting Valentine's Days were spent. They were indeed momentous occasions. The morning postman was not the chief purveyor of the wonderfully devised tokens; it was the personal delivery after dark that was most fruitful, as it was most exciting. On Valentine's eve or Valentine's night we sat around the fire in the music-room, eyes shining, ears cocked, muscles tense for the spring. Rat-tat-tat! We flew down the steps through the drawing-room, through the hall to the front door, to catch the visitor whose business and whose point of honour was not to let us catch him. A banged gate, a vanishing shadow in the fog or snow, mocked the strained sight and hearing; but plain upon the doorstep—that very doorstep—gleamed a large white envelope enclosing a "song without words" for somebody. It might be from anybody—a boy who had only seen you at church, a greybeard friend of your father's (I was the pet of old gentlemen from babyhood), the man-servant of the house or that innocent young sweetheart of your innocent first love, who had this great chance to declare (without declaring) himself to be such. A sheaf of trophies—if you were a favourite of Fortune, as I must have been—when the day was over, and the long-continuing pleasure of conjecture, possibly of knowledge, afterwards. I do not care what anybody says, it was a great and glorious institution.

And the mistletoe, of which I spoke just now—oh, the mistletoe! What was not enshrined for us in that insignificant bit of weed! Two leaf blades and one berry were enough to work the charm—to turn a humdrum house into a world of romance, filled with the interest of that passion which is the most interesting thing in life, without its carking cares and its deadly responsibilities. Like a trap in the run of a wild animal, a pale sprig would be hidden for special purposes by a more ardent player of the game, but that was considered to be a breach of rules; in full view above the most frequented doorway, or at any rate in some place known to all, one of the strangest of our small symbols for big things honestly revealed itself, to be sought or shunned, dawdled or darted past, remembered or forgotten, as the case might be. It must have been a source of intensest interest to the youths and maidens making Christmas fun together, knowing what they knew, feeling what they felt, interchanging their sentimental diplomacies according to the instincts and desires of their time of life; for I know what in a lesser degree it meant to the younger children. I am sure that I was a very modest little girl (there was my treatment of my first love-letter to prove it), and that I did not walk—at any rate, that I did not run—after the little boys to whom I inclined; nevertheless, the mistletoe concerned me as much as anybody. The exquisite excitement of circumventing the boys to whom I did not incline was fun and interest enough.

It was forty years and more since I had seen mistletoe when that July I walked in the grounds of the fine old rectory in Priory Lane—the garden into which our balls and arrows used to overshoot themselves—and the rector's wife, with whom I had been lunching, gathered and offered me a little sprig of green stuff.

"You don't know what that is," said she.

I did not, because it was summer and the pearly berries had not formed.

"Mistletoe," said she.

Talismanic word! I folded it in paper and brought it home. It is in Australia with me now.

Valentine's Day is hardly a name to be remembered now when the 14th of February comes round. The date was far behind us when we arrived in England, but I am sure the festival must be dead in its native land, and it has never lived during my time in this. And as for Christmas—we could not stay long enough to see an English Christmas again, but I think, if I had seen it, I should have found it no more like the old Christmas than the one I spent at sea. They belonged to their age, those old Christmases of ours, to children not so critical and sophisticated as the children of to-day.

Fragrant memories of Christmas hung about that old house at D——. Happy Christmases with no governesses around! And such tremendous affairs they were! Long, long before the day its heralds were all about us: the choice fowls set apart for fattening; the ox selected that was to make himself famous with a prize, if possible, before the butcher turned him into Christmas beef; the solemn mixing of the Christmas pudding, at which the youngest baby had to assist (the pudding divided into dozens of puddings boiled in the big copper and hung up in their cloths, to be used in instalments until Christmas came again); the making of the mincemeat in the same wholesale manner (big brown jarfuls, also to last through the year), and of the Christmas cakes, which were so rich that keeping improved them, and the production of which therefore was only limited by the number of canisters available in which to store them; these were matters of vital interest ere autumn had fairly gone. For the Feast of the Nativity was above all things a feast in the popular sense of the word. Loaded shelves in the pantry and an overflowing table, plenty for everybody and everything of the best, was the order not of the day, or of the week but for the month or two that stood for the "season" with these old-time provincial revellers. When we lived in the country before coming to D—— two dishes in particular were conspicuous on our bill of fare—Christmas dishes only, so far as I can recollect. One was a game pie, in size and shape resembling a milliner's bonnet box. Its walls were self-supporting and covered with pastry ornamentation in relief; its inside was jelly close-packed with miscellaneous game birds and bits of ham and veal and forcemeat and things; the usual game pie, I suppose (I don't know, it is so many years since I tasted one), but extra big and fine in honour of Christmas. The other dish was a round of "Hunters' Beef"—very well named since it used to be in great request for hunting sandwiches. It was beef rubbed all over every day for three weeks with a certain dry mixture of sugar, salts and spices, and then baked for six hours in an earthern crock under a pile of shred suet, a meal crust and a sheet of brown paper. It seems to me that I have never tasted real spiced beef since. It was used in thin slices with bread and butter, not eaten like ordinary meat at the substantial meals, and lasted a great while. When Christmas was nearly upon us—governess gone, and all the carking cares of the past year thrown overboard—the bakings and roastings were tremendous, the excitement of preparation turned all heads.

At our farmhouse a cartload of evergreens used to come from our grandfather's woods, sometimes through the snow. Here in the town we still managed to get enough; always the Christmas tree in its largest size. Every room had to be adorned as lavishly as they now adorn the churches, whereas the churches were put off with a bough of holly stuck into each seat end. The Christmas tree was planted in a tub on the drawing-room floor—stripped of carpet and furniture for the nightly games and dances (this floor was not of stone)—and usually the top had to be cut off to get it under the ceiling. Its graduated layers of arms bore dozens upon dozens of coloured wax tapers (the little tin sconces for them were stored from year to year), and about the same number of pendent glass balls, apples of gold and silver on the dark green boughs. The substantial fruit, the presents, were in numbers sufficient to stock a small bazaar. Mother and aunts and family friends had been working on them for months. If the drawing-room could not be shut to children the tree was jealously screened, for a day or two before the great night, which was a party night. It was the young men and maidens who enjoyed themselves in this interval, while the little ones hung about passages and peepholes in burning curiosity and suspense. The enchanting moment came when the party tea was over and a succeeding half-hour of thrilling anticipation; the drawing-room door was flung wide and we rushed through in a crowd towards the splendid blazing wonder in the middle of the room, sighing forth our "Oh! oh!" of ecstasy.

The stage-managers ranged us in a circle around it, all goggle-eyed, half stunned with the suddenness of our joy, and someone came round with a bag of tickets—round and round, until each had half-a-dozen or more. Oh, who would get No.1, the great doll at the top of the tree?—or No.2, the work-box on the tub beneath (the tub hidden in green stuff, mingled with pink glazed calico)? There were great prizes amongst the many little ones, and some that I remember were quite remarkable. One was a board—very difficult to fix to the tree safely—on which a party of dolls were celebrating a wedding, the bride in her veil, with her bewreathed bridesmaids, the little men in coats and trousers, the surpliced parson, all complete. Such time and trouble were to spare for children in those days! The steps were brought in and a man mounted them to detach the articles from the upper boughs. A woman might set herself on fire—once she did, and there was a gallant rescue, and frequently a taper ignited a flimsy toy or set a green branch smoking. Doubtless there were heart-burnings also over the caprices of Fortune in the distribution of the gifts, but I cannot see blurs of that sort on the shining picture now.

Santa Claus is still much alive, so I need not describe his doings. I only hope the children of to-day enjoy shivering awake for half the night and making themselves ill with the edible contents of their stockings before daylight as much as we did. As for the delicious lurid function, snapdragon, is it obsolete in England yet? It does not come, like Santa Claus, into the scheme of child entertainment in Australia. There would be a difficulty in finding the requisite depth of darkness on Christmas evenings here. Besides, a supper of raw raisins cannot be good for the infant stomachs. I would not give it to my own children, but still I am glad that the mothers of old were in some things less faddy than we are. One of the treasures of my collection is the weird scene of the magic bowl and the spectral faces around it—the delightful terror of the little girls, the heroic courage of the little boys who seized for them the blazing morsels they dared not touch themselves. A tender memory of that boy to whom I inclined, who shot himself (by cocking a stiff-jointed gun with foot instead of finger), pictures him gallantly fighting the flames on my behalf.

The Waits, I believe, are heard in the streets of England still. But not, I fancy, on country road and garden paths, guests of the domestic hearth at midnight, a nondescript rabble under no ecclesiastical control, making their own fun, as they then did. Blue-nosed, beery, hilarious, in woollen mitts and comforters, drinking good luck to a dozen hosts in turn and thinking of nothing but how they were enjoying themselves, they are not quite adequately represented to us older folk by the better-drilled but unspontaneous choir-boy. He is like the Christmas card for which we have exchanged the valentine—a shadow replacing the substance, to our thinking.

The choir of the old times was the congregation, led by the clerk in the three-decker. We went to service on Christmas morning, as in duty bound, and sang "Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow," whether we had singing voices or not, and were likewise audible and hearty with the responses, as believing them our own; and when we came out—good, unsophisticated Christians, exchanging our "Happy Christmas" with everybody we met—the church was content to let us go for the remainder of the day. We went home to our immense dinner (with dessert that lasted through the afternoon), our festive tea, crowned with the Christmas cake, our blindman's buff and turn-the-trencher and drop-the-handkerchief in the cleared drawing-room, our snapdragons, our punch-bowl, our adventures under the mistletoe.

The drawing-room, when not cleared, could not be closed to family use, like the majority of the middle-class parlours of the past (I might almost say of the present also), being the highway to the front door, to the garden-playground, and to the music-room, which was the sitting-room. Its four doors were constantly opening and shutting, and it must have been a cave of the winds in winter, although I do not remember it. Strips of crumb-cloth marked the crossing footpaths, warning us to keep off the grass—i.e. the geometrical-patterned green and crimson carpet; they were taken up whenever it was surmised that "people might be coming," according to that curiously petty but intense concern for a genteel (however false) appearance, which was one of the things I had, mistakenly but naturally, taken for granted that England had grown out of long ago. The room was still the reception-room for callers and company, and all my mother's artistic skill, which only distinguished itself the more for having so little money at the back of it, had been expended upon its adornment.

When I think how that artistic skill was exercised, I have a foolish impulse to shudder and to smile. When I think again, I have to ask myself, "Why should I?" Further reflection convinces me that its manifestations were admirable. To say the least, they were not necessarily in bad taste then, although they would and ought to be so now. But there is far more than that to say. The handicraft of the women of the mid-Victorian era had the precious quality of finish and thoroughness, than which there is none more worthy. Careful, delicate, faithful work, no matter on what article expended, was the note of excellence, and the longer I live the more I respect and love it. Such fancy-work proper as adorned this old parlour of ours I do not wish to see reproduced, but it was appropriate to its day and a credit to her who was responsible for it.

She had a sort of settee-sofa under the window on the garden side. It was covered with many squares of finest "wool-work," joined together. There was a different design—vase of flowers, basket of flowers, wreath, bouquet—in each square, although material and ground colour were the same; and the number of them represented so many girl friends who had combined to work them and present her with the sofa on her marriage. It certainly was a graceful idea, cleverly carried out. And wool-work was really very fascinating. With a piece of canvas, a bundle of neatly-sorted Berlin wools, and a coloured pattern of flowers of every hue—the more intricate the better—I was quite happy. I also liked working out peacocks and other weird devices into antimacassars, with crochet needle and white cotton, although not so well. I must have made miles of "open-work" (the modern broderie Anglaise, only better) for underclothes, first and last. Once I made a bead basket to hang by glittering bead chains between draped netted-and-darned window-curtains. I knitted rag rugs and silk purses, and sections of a great quilt for a spare bed. I did elaborate geometrical patchwork for other quilts, and fine marking of names (learned from my baby sampler) on linen with engrained red cotton; and watchguards in black silk and gorgeous slippers and winter mitts and comforters for father; and mats for lamps and vases, and so on and so on.

But mother was really an artist, because she did not follow patterns, but designed things herself. When she needed curtain cornices for the tops of those windows, and could not afford the gilded, fender-like affairs that were correct and desirable, she nailed deal boards together, covered them with leather, and then with a design of leather flowers or grapes with vine-leaves, which, when varnished, imposed upon the spectator as a carving in wood. Now we would prefer the honest deal, no doubt—I would, at any rate—but then there was not a person of taste who would have done so. She made open wood-carving of leather-work applied to stout cardboard, cutting away the latter from the interstices of the pattern embossed. In the treatment of a pair of flower-holders that used to stand on a table under the mirror between the garden window and the garden door, she substituted a scarlet coating made of sealing-wax for the dark wood-stain; her leather-work then called itself coral. As for her wax flowers, they were truly beautiful. She was not content to make up the boxfuls of petals prepared by the trade, but must needs copy flowers out of the field and garden. I do not know how she found time for all she did, but she seemed to do everything, and always to do it right. My faith in her ingenuity and resourcefulness was as my faith in the omnipotence of God.

It was in that drawing-room of her adornment that we held festival on the afternoon of our famous wedding-day. It rained, and the amusement for the guests—after the great breakfast in the music-room and the departure of bride and bridegroom—was to practise archery upon a target in the wet garden from the shelter of the house. The arrows from door and window went wide over the garden walls, and the scared face of the rector popped up in alarm at intervals as they hurtled into his domain. It was the son of our old neighbours at T—— (the House of the Doll), who, unknown to any of us at the time, pointed a moral for the incautious parent who deposits with his (or her) infant offspring evidence upon which they will some day rise up to judge him. H. was a very smart young fellow, according to the notions of the time, and he forgathered with a pretty cousin of ours, daughter of my father's eldest brother, with whom my father was at feud over a lawsuit and not on speaking terms. Her parents forbade the match, and she came to mine—the hostile camp—for succour. Enthusiastically we took up her cause, and, having given her all facilities for courtship, gave her the finest wedding that could be compassed from our house. Not only that, but drove her many miles behind white-favoured postilions to the church of her own parish, possibly to "cheek" her family, who naturally held aloof, although it was rumoured that they watched the passing of the bridal carriages from some secret ambush. Of course, we young ones never doubted for a moment that they were wholly malignant and in the wrong; we were as sure as we were of night and day that our father and mother could not possibly make mistakes.

While the happy pair were honeymooning, we assisted Mrs H., the bridegroom's mother, to prepare for them what we thought an ideal home in L——, a house so towny and stylish, compared with the farm homesteads in which we had been reared, that we were lost in our sense of the occupants' luck and bliss. I had been their little bridesmaid, and I now became their frequent visitor; I suppose their attentions to me were a return for our ill-omened hospitality to them. I used to sit on a stool in the firelit dusk, totally disregarded, while, on the other side of the hearth, H. nursed Cousin E. upon his knee and they whispered together. Later on, I sat on the same stool to nurse the baby, E. hanging over me to gloat upon him and assure herself that he was safe in my arms.

The other day I saw that house again, and, looking up at the windows, looked through them upon those past scenes with, oh! such different eyes. According to precedent, H. proved himself, very early in the day, to be the bad lot his wife's people had suspected. The first baby was the last, because there was not time for more. The young father lived beyond his means for a year or two, neglected his business, took to drink, went under, and left the young mother and child to the charity of the relatives who had probably foreseen how it would be. And now that I am older than they were I think of my parents' part in the matter, once so unquestioningly endorsed, and I shake my head. So will my children shake their heads over remembered acts of mine which, at the doing, were even as the decrees of Providence. Doubtless they have done so many a time.

In my flying visits to D—— I was drawn again and again to the neighbourhood of that old house. Any walk that I took for the sake of a walk led past it, and I stopped at the two gates every time, because I could not help it. The second gate, opening into the field that was part of the premises, had its separate associations. Here roamed Taffy, when he chose to keep in bounds, a white pony given to my eldest brother by his grandfather, but for his long lifetime the useful servant and beloved friend of the whole family; a dear, sweet-natured humorous creature, human in his affections and intelligence. Taffy walked about the domestic domain like a dog; he undid every fastening of every gate that attempted to confine his rambles. He used to come to the schoolroom window when we were at lessons and watch his chance to grab a mouthful of hair. When mother and I made our journeys together to see her parents, some fifteen miles off, we used to stop at a halfway inn to get a basinful of porter for Taffy, who loved it and drank it down like a Christian; he would not pass that inn without it. When thirsty at home he sought the pump in the stableyard, took the handle in his teeth and rattled it up and down, and as soon as water trickled from the spout applied his mouth thereto. When I have told this story to my present family, who never knew Taffy, tolerant and superior smiles have accused me of drawing the long bow; so I was pleased when a sister of mine, lately arrived from England after a thirty years' separation from me, was happily inspired to say at table before them all (we were speaking of old times), "Oh, do you remember Taffy and the pump?" proceeding to tell the tale again exactly as I had told it. Thus Taffy and I got tardy justice done us.

Here, too, in a memorable year, Wombwell's Menagerie established itself. It was the half of the business which the original Wombwell had left divided between a son and daughter, and the latter was the proprietress and travelling with it. My father let his field to her for the few days that must have been Winnold Fair days (St Wynewall originally—a fair held here annually at the beginning of March, literally from time immemorial, as, according to a deed of the reign of Edward the Confessor, it was flourishing in his day, and there are no records to tell how long before that); for I recall the state of the temperature. Which reminds me of an old Norfolk rhyme much in use amongst us, to indicate what might be expected in the way of weather at the season of the Fair:

"First come David, then come Chad,
Then come 'Winnle' as if he was mad."

So Mrs Edwards (I think that was her name) brought her Wombwell's Menagerie to our field. The numerous Black Marias of the caravan filed into the gate before our popping eyes, the elephant walking as one has heard of the lady doing in the sedan chair that had the bottom out; we could only see his monstrous feet and ankles underneath the house that he carried around him, and those massive members were partly swathed in bandages, because, we were told, the poor thing suffered from chilblains. The vehicles were formed into a hollow square, the arena roofed over (it was deliciously warm to go into out of the cold open air), and the grass floor thickly bedded in clean straw, from which we sifted treasure-trove of nuts and lost articles when the show was gone. The shutters were taken from the cages on the inner side, the entrance steps put down, and all was ready for business. There was a band, of course.

The contract gave our household the privilege of free access. I need not say that it was utilised to the utmost. We had special holidays on purpose. But the cream of those exciting days was Sunday, when there was no show and no public, and we were admitted to the bosom of the family, to see how it lived behind the scenes. In the afternoon of that day my mother went into the field to show a little neighbourly attention to the proprietress, taking me with her. It was one of the most interesting calls I ever made. We found Mrs Edwards a very superior lady, who did not travel with the show except now and then, to amuse herself while her children were away at school (her daughter, I think she said, was "finishing abroad"); she had her good house somewhere, like other ladies. She was in silk attire, very stylish, and her private van was a thing of luxury indeed; also she entertained us delightfully. We strolled about the empty arena, and fraternised with the animals. Many of them were let out for exercise; others we were allowed to fondle and converse with. The little gazelle on its slim legs raced round and round in front of the cages, mocking the futile leer and pounce of the great cats that would have intercepted it had circumstances allowed; the monkeys tweaked our ears and pulled the trimming off our hats; the great elephant swayed about like a moving mountain, and condescended to take our buns when we mustered courage to present them. Unforgettable Sunday afternoon! Almost worthy to be ranked with the splendid day at Port Said. The memory of it was in my mind when, on my second Sunday afternoon in England, I was behind the scenes in the "Zoo" at Regent's Park, dear little birds and beasties climbing over me and showing off their pretty tricks to me for love and not for money.

But, ah, the nights! The dark nights up in that attic bedroom, when the wintry wind bore the heart-thrilling plaints of homesick lions and tigers—so awfully close to one! Oh, suppose they should get out! I have never been conspicuously strong-minded when alone in the dark—I have too much imagination—and I used to burrow deep down in the bedclothes to shut out those appallingly suggestive sounds.

Time seems to deal tenderly with everything in England, and the two old gates were the very same old gates, apparently. Approaching them through the town, I passed the same old shops, with the same old names on some of them. Next door, across Priory Lane, the same family of doctors still lived, father and son in contiguous establishments; only the son of old was now the father, and there was a new son. The daughters of the parent house, young ladies of the old days, I found living still, to remember and to entertain me; one of them, a widow approaching her ninetieth year, was the most charmingly nimble-minded and witty person of her age that I ever met. Her intellectual audacity impressed me as one of the most striking incidents of my return to her little town. She had lived there always, and was yet unsubdued by the stodgy atmosphere—as awake to the humour of the ways of a little English town (in which, as she expressed it, "twopence-ha'penny would not speak to twopence") as I was. She was handsome too—altogether a dear.

Just opposite her old home, at the beginning (or end) of the street, swung an inn signboard the sight of which was more delightful to me than all the priceless canvases that I had been privileged to make acquaintance with at Grosvenor House a few days previously. This was the Rampant Horse of olden times—the very same red horse pawing space, his colour faded out, but his familiar lineaments intact; and it was a part of my phenomenal luck at that time to see it just when I did, for the next time I passed that way the sign had been taken down, doubtless to be "restored." I am convinced that it had not been touched in the half-century that I had been away, but just waiting there to greet me.

On the other side of my old home, along the London Road, I walked in the Past every step of the way. There was the same old workhouse, which we used to visit after church on Christmas mornings to see the paupers wolfing their roast beef and plum pudding, beside it the Court House, full of memories of concert nights and entertainments—particularly of a demonstration by a girl clairvoyant, who, while "under the influence," informed a member of our party that her son was lying dangerously ill at his tutor's house in Heidelberg; which was afterwards proved to be the case, although this was the first she heard of it. D—— has a Town Hall now, a Jubilee Town Hall, but in my day the Court House seems to have been the place for public functions; and I have an acute remembrance of sitting through an evening on a ledge but a few inches wide, being crowded off the benches and too proud to ask for a lap. My back aches and the calves of my legs curl up now when it comes across me.

Further on, C—— Hall by the roadside—unchanged, except that I found it temporarily tenantless. My little girl-contemporaries who used to live there wore white pants to the feet, frilled around the ankles, under their short skirts, like Miss Kenwigs. Where, I wondered, as I looked at the blank windows, where were they now? Across the road, in front of the hall, lay the park-like lands belonging to it, the beautiful turf only matched by the beautiful trees—all as it used to be. There I saw myself, a little thing in a new pink frock, dancing about with my mother and a crowd of busy ladies amongst long plank tables, at which the poor folk of the town and for miles around were being feasted on roast beef and plum pudding, while brass bands brayed and flags fluttered in the sun. The occasion was the Celebration of Peace after the Crimean War.

Then the village of D——, object of so many walks in the governess days—I tramped thither one fresh and sunny morning when I wanted a good constitutional, and, as usual when I found the door open, I entered the church. The clergyman, in a rapid gabble, was reciting the daily service; he had one daily—in the very middle of the working morning, in a parish containing only those who were bound to be hard at it earning their living and attending to the needs of families. When, oh! when will parsons learn common-sense? It was a relief to see that these parishioners were not seduced from the path of duty by his well-intentioned invitation. The whole congregation was embodied in one extremely old man, whose infirmities had long disqualified him for the work of life. For him, I thought, it would have been enough at this hour to leave the place open, to comfort him, when he liked to wander in, with its divine suggestions. He could not have followed the breathless patter of words with his deaf ears.

However, perhaps this is not my business.



I went on from D—— into the deeper and more beautiful recesses of my native county, the localities associated with my earliest years, the most sacred places of them all. It was early in July, when the rhododendrons, so thick in the woods, had done their flowering, but the trees were in full perfection, and the honeysuckles of the hedges scented the highways.

Two large families of cousins had grown up thereabouts, and some were still clinging to their native soil. All had been unknown to me from the time of our paternal grandfather's death, in 1856, which precipitated the estranging lawsuit—all, that is to say, excepting E., who married from our house. As children we used to shoot veiled glances at each other in church, but that was all the intercourse permitted to us. However, in later years, when we had sense of our own to judge the merits of this old quarrel, one and another of my cousins claimed acquaintance with me through my publishers, and I came to England with several long-standing invitations from them to visit them when I could. M.G., a widow a few years older than myself, was one who had never deserted Norfolk, and whose charming home was in the very heart of my own country, within a drive of all the places I most desired to see again. An "abbey," it was called, a farmhouse now, divorced from its lands, one of those beautiful English dwellings, several hundreds of years old, that I was always adoringly and enviously in love with; and attached to it were the ruins of a religious house, which the county directory informed me was founded for Cistercians in 1251, and granted at the Dissolution to the family whose present representative, of the same name, owns it still, my cousin's friend and landlord. From the old garden, out of the stupendous trees (are there trees in England to rival Norfolk trees?), rose fragments of the walls of that old abbey, broken arches and windows with some stone tracery left in them; and there were damp depressions in which lumps of carved stone were jumbled up with weeds and ragged bushes, the crypts which Time had filled, but not wholly filled, with the rain-washings of centuries. Imagine my joy in such surroundings! And within the comparatively modern but still antique (it looked to me Elizabethan) residence, nothing to clash with the grey stone walls and mullioned and labelled windows, all simple dignity, frugal refinement, warmth, ease, comfort. It was a delight to me merely to walk up and down the stairs, wide and shallow and solid, echoing the footfalls of generations of gentlefolk at every step; especially when at the top lay the cosiest of beds and at the bottom the cheeriest of quiet firesides.

Although it was July we had a fire all the time—the little touch that made us kin, my cousin and me. The old prejudice against lighting a fire after spring cleaning or before a certain fixed date in autumn, coincident with the exchange of lace window-curtains for stuff ones, or some such annual domestic rite, had not died out in rural England since I had been away; but here—as soon as I walked in out of the rain on the afternoon of my arrival—the sight of a ruddy blaze, and a well-furnished tea-table beside it, told me that in this remote village I had struck an enlightened woman.

It was so remote a village that there was no way of getting to it from D—— but by driving the whole eight miles. M. sent the landlord of her local inn, her accustomed coachman, an intelligent man whose ancestors had been in service with mine, to fetch me; and he entertained me on the way with the history of the old families whose homes we passed and with whom my family had had more or less intimate relations in the years before he was born, as that history had been enacted within his lifetime and during the later part of mine. The soft grey rain came straight down, and we were both coated and mackintoshed to the eyes. I had to peer from under the edge of my dripping umbrella at the well-known gateways (the lodges more modernised than the mansions they belonged to, so far as I could see the latter through their splendid woods and avenues), the familiar farms and villages, with their fine old churches, all the dear, historic landscape; but, wet as it was, I had to struggle not to make it wetter—and my handkerchief hopelessly buried under my wraps. I tell you, dear sympathetic elderly reader, the memories that flocked along that road to greet me were all but overwhelming. It was, for peculiar and precious charm, the drive of my life—to date; only the one I had next day surpassed it.

It did not rain next day, and Mr B. drove up to the abbey, spick and span, in plum-coloured livery and shiny hat, to take us out for the afternoon. Nice man that he was, with his old family traditions so entwined with mine, he entered with respectful zeal into the spirit of the expedition, undertaking that I should miss nothing of interest to me through default of his. He and M. mapped out the route with care, and as we pursued it he turned on his box seat at intervals of a few minutes, to name each feature as we approached or passed it, and make such comments as seemed called for. Half the time I was standing up in the carriage behind him, straining my eyes to see, at the direction of his outstretched whip, something in the dim distance not yet plain enough to see. And yet, by accident or design, the latter I suspect, in collusion with M., he was driving slowly past the very face of T——, the goal of this pilgrimage, without word or sign, when my roving eye lighting upon it recognised it instantly, without anybody's aid.

Would that I had a photograph of it! For not only was it a good old house surpassing my fancy dreams of it, but it had not visibly changed in the least degree, nor had any of its farm surroundings. Just as I had left it when I was a child I saw it again when I was an old woman; and the whole scene was as familiar to the last detail as if I had been seeing it all the time. The big road gate, the pond within, the barn, the garden (raised above the surrounding meadow), the house itself, its generous front windows as wide as they were deep, and the kitchen at the side, and the dairy running back to the elder-tree where they used to kill the fowls—everything was in its old place, and no sign of decadence visible from the point at which I viewed it. This permanence of English things was so remarkable to me—because in Australia nothing is permanent, but altering itself to bigger or better every minute of the time.

As at the moment of sudden death the complete panorama of one's past life is before the mental eye—as one dreams a whole story in multitudinous detail between the housemaid's morning knock at one's door and the echo of it that wakes one (if those legendary happenings are to be believed)—so I seemed to live all my little childhood over again in the few minutes that Mr B. held his horse on the highroad, and I stood at his shoulder to gaze at the place, which, although not my birthplace, still meant for me the beginning of all things. Memory could go no further back than to an infancy that was put to bed in the middle of the day and given meals on its nurse's lap with a spoon. I looked at the nursery window, and instantly thought of a little thing left to cry in its crib, untended and unheard, with feelings so acutely hurt by the unprecedented neglect that the mark was left for evermore; and the occasion, there is evidence to show, was the birth of a sister three years younger than herself.

I looked at the "parlour" window and it was crowded with her. She was just old enough to be "shown off" as the usual prodigy of intelligence by adoring parents. My second earliest memory of myself is as a public singer. They stood me on the big round "centre table" that they might see me as I sang. I did not know the meaning of the words I lisped, yet I had remembered many fragments of them, and the tunes entirely, in spite of having heard neither during the many intervening years. And now an unknown friend in England, General Sir M.G., who fought in the Mutiny, who used to sing them himself before he went to that business, probably at the same time as I sang them, has filled up for me the gaps in the verses of one of my favourite songs, with the remark, which I can so feelingly endorse on my own account, that he wishes he could remember what he reads now as well as he does what attracted him in those old days. Almost simultaneously another friend in England, one of his Majesty's Privy Councillors, did me the very same kindness; and thus the old ballad seems to have a claim to be given a place in these reminiscences, for the sake of other of our contemporaries who may share our sentiment about it.

"'Twas a beautiful night, and the stars shone bright,
And the moon on the waters play'd,
When a gay cavalier to a bower drew near
A lady to serenade.
To tenderest words he swept the chords,
And many a sigh breath'd he.
While o'er and o'er he fondly swore:
Sweet maid, I love but thee."

With a lingering lilt at the end:

"Sweet mai-aid, sweet mai-aid, I lov-ove, I lov-ove but

"When he turn'd his eye to the lattice high,
And fondly breath'd his hopes,
In amazement he sees, swing about in the breeze,
All ready, a ladder of ropes.
Up, up, he has gone. The bird she has flown.
'What's this on the ground?' quoth he.
''Tis plain that she loves. Here's some gentleman's gloves,
And they never belong'd to me.
These gloves, these gloves, they never belong'd to me.'

Of course you'd have thought he'd have followed and
For it was a duelling age;
But the gay cavalier quite scorn'd the idea
Of putting himself in a rage.
So wiser by far, he pack'd up his guitar,
And as homeward he went sang he,
'When a lady elopes down a ladder of ropes
She may go to Hongkong for me.
She may go, she may go, she may go to Hongkong for me.'"

I do not know if it was the same cavalier to the same lady—but I think not, and General G. thinks not—who thus mourned by my infant lips:

"I'll hang my harp on a willow-tree
And go off to the wars again.
A peaceful life has no charms for me,
The battlefield no pain.
For the lady I love will soon be a bride,
With a diadem on her brow,
Oh, had she not flattered my boyish pride
I might have been happy now!"


"Oh, why did she flatter my boyish pride?
She is going to leave me now!"

Looking through that wide window into the old parlour as it used to be, how plainly I could see the ring of benign or ecstatic faces around the centre table, visitors and grandparents and uncles and aunts gathered to behold and applaud the prodigy! Even the formidable youngest aunt would grant a provisional smile to a display she could not have approved of; because it was really rather notable, I believe, considering my time of life, and even she had her soft moments. Besides, she was then young herself.

When she came to see us at this house—she had not time to come much to any of the others—she made it her business to show our mother how we should be brought up. She must have known something about it, seeing that afterwards she was governess to young royalties at two of the courts of Europe, but we, while compelled to bow to her authority, had no respect for it or for her. Regarding her image dispassionately from this long, long distance, I see that she was an exceptionally correct and accomplished woman, but a certain circumstance that took place behind that parlour window fixed another view of her upon my infant mind too firmly to be obliterated in a lifetime.

I was just old enough to go to church, and my doting mother had provided me with a lovely Sunday bonnet. It covered the whole head closely, in the height of fashion—responsible for many ear-aches, by the way—and it had two little tails of ribbon on one side of it, each end fringed out. When this bonnet was tied on, the pelisse that covered the bareness of the indoor costume being also adjusted, I was as conscious of my striking appearance as the proud parent herself. She still had her own toilet to make, and while she dressed I went down to the hall where the family assembled for the procession to the village church. It was early, and I was first at the rendezvous, so I went into the drawing-room to look at myself. A large mirror that had gilt candelabra branching out on either side, and a fierce gilt eagle on the point of flight from the apex, hung on the wall by the window, with a sort of divan that was also a receptacle for music sheets and other things in front of it. Laboriously I climbed that ottoman and stood as a statue on a pedestal before that convex glass. Then I lost count of time in the contemplation of my charms, and especially of those two fringed ends of ribbon drooping gracefully to my shoulder. My head was screwed round to bring them well into view, when I was suddenly petrified by a vision of the youngest aunt in the doorway. I was caught red-handed, as it were. It was impossible to evade conviction on the charge that I saw levelled at me from her pitiless calm eyes. I stood silent, trembling, wondering what she would do. "She will tell mother," was my first thought. But she did worse. She sought the nearest work-box, she approached me—still standing on the ottoman—with unsheathed scissors in her hand. She lifted one end of fringed ribbon and sliced it off; she lifted the other and served that the same. In two seconds my bonnet in which I now had to go to church (impotently raging and heart-broken) was ruined, and my vice of vanity supposed to have been destroyed at its source. I cannot recall the effect of the transaction upon my mother's mind, but I know that its effect on mine was not what the youngest aunt anticipated. "Some day you will thank me for it," said she. It was a formula of hers. She was quite wrong. In half-a-century I have not learned to thank her for it. She did not kill vanity with those scissors, as she supposed, but love. It is a mistake common to educationalists the world over.

The eldest aunt, my godmother—she of the Marble Arch episode—was quite a different sort of person. She too, being also a single woman, thought she could improve upon her married sister's methods of managing children, but her pills were so sugared that it was a pleasure to swallow them; at any rate, it was so here at T——, before young men, or even boys, could trouble her. One instance of a lesson prepared and administered for my good, when I was still little more than a baby, stands out very distinctly.

I had a passion for dolls. It was the first passion of my life, and lasted until I was so old as to be ashamed to be seen with them. The first of my family were just any articles that came to hand, but soon we had a nurse (the first five of us being born in six years, our mother was not always able to attend to everything, as she desired), who gave shape and form, of a sort, to my maternal ideals. She stuffed bags with chaff or sawdust and sewed them together, a round ball to a larger round ball, and four sausage-shaped ones to that. This body had the surpassing merit of bigness; clothed in a real child's cast-off clothes, it seemed itself more real. When nurse had done her part I used to carry it downstairs to father for him to put a face and hair on it with pen and ink. Although I always pleaded with him to make her as pretty as possible, the spirit of mischief sometimes prompted him to draw the countenance of a goblin or an idiot. I would open my arms to embrace a lovely baby girl and find a horrible monster with cross eyes and grinning teeth; at which I would at once break into a wail and a flood of tears. Then he would be very sorry, would hasten to somebody for a fresh layer of calico and sit down and make the face again—this time his very best (and he was a clever draughtsman) with which I would be quite satisfied. The breed of dolls improved, of course, with my own development in taste and knowledge; the rag doll gave place to the wooden Dutch creature with the pegged joints and shiny black head, and that to the waxen angel with floss-silk hair and smiling carmine lips, eyes like the sky and cheeks like the rose, which seemed almost too good and beautiful for this world. Indeed that was too often the view taken of her by the authorities. Wrapped in silver paper she would repose in a drawer in the spare room under lock and key, while I pined for her companionship, and would only be granted to me as a sort of distinguished visitor on high days and holidays.

Well, the eldest aunt never came to see us without bringing presents. As soon as it was known upstairs that she had arrived we were thrown into a fever of greedy anticipation, wondering what they would be this time. I can remember the scene of her entrance into the nursery on two or three occasions, each time in the evening in her indoor costume, after she had kept us waiting for some time. She carried her gifts in her arms. But one day instead of coming to the nursery she sent for us to her room. I, the eldest niece, was summoned first, and after greetings she took from her box a ravishing wax doll and laid it in my arms.

"There," said she, "that is for a good girl."

Naturally I assumed it mine. I sat down and nursed it and gloated over it, while she smiled benignly on me. Then, while at the dizziest summit of my joy, I was informed that the doll was not for me but for my next sister. Little did I guess what hung upon my behaviour under this sore trial! As little can I account for the luck—merit it could not have been—which led me to take the blow submissively. I handed back the doll with a sigh, perhaps a tear, but without a murmur. Straightway another doll, twice as big and fine, was extracted from the aunt's box and pronounced to be irrevocably my own—because I had not shown myself selfish under a temptation carefully calculated to test my character in that respect. The eldest aunt explained her moral lesson with the result of which she was so proud—as I was. She made me understand that the smaller doll would have remained mine had I grudged it to my sister, who would then have received the big one. As with the lesson of the youngest aunt (who would have given neither doll to one so undeserving as, by the merest accident, I might have shown myself), it impressed itself indelibly on my mind—the profitableness of virtue to oneself, and never mind what it costs other people. It would have made an excellent text for one of the children's story-books of the period.

Compared with these disciplinarians my dear mother was nowhere. She could hardly bring herself to scold a child. As far as I was concerned my father was the same. His weak indulgence of me, the open favouritism with which he distinguished me from my brothers and sisters was—I know now—scandalous. Harsh to his boys, and too ready to box the ears of the little girls when they were old enough, he never laid an angry finger on me. One punishment only was mine, and I must have been bad indeed at the times when it was inflicted; I was sent to sit on the stairs. That does not sound like punishment at all, but the treadmill was not dreaded more by those condemned to it. To sit on the stairs meant to sit on the bottom step of the front stairs, just facing the hall door, in dread expectation of a visitor who should be witness of the unspeakable ignominy of my position—akin to that of one exposed in the village stocks to the insults of a hostile populace. I could not look at that front door, that I used to watch in such agonies of fear, without seeing behind it the huddled little figure, quaking in terror of the caller who hardly ever came.

If I was let off so lightly myself, I suffered horribly in the punishments of my nursery companions, particularly in the case of my one-year-older brother—a thoughtful, gifted, sensitive boy, with a fragile body and a spirit that could not be bent or intimidated, who, from his babyhood until he came to his deathbed at seventeen, was in constant collision with a passionate father who had not the capacity to understand him. I remember once beating out with a poker the panels of a door behind which he sat in darkness, a prisoner on bread and water, proud and silent, with a bleeding back but a dry eye, that I might get to him to weep over him and comfort him. It makes me feel wicked, even now, to think of it. And to think of his poor, delicate, devoted mother, who did understand him, and to whom he was so precious, more helpless than I to prevent or mitigate these tragic blunders, makes my own mother-blood run cold.

In the generations before my own it seems to have been incumbent on a father who would do his duty to be cruel to his sons (and how hard the tradition dies!); it was incumbent on a mother to be stern and distant with her young daughters, if she could—and there is ample evidence that she forced herself to it. What the conception of parental duty now is we know. Thinking the matter over, it seems to me that the happy mean between the two extremes may have been struck somewhere about the time when I was a child myself. I am not citing my own experiences in proof of this—far from it—but the broad general rules that applied to all respectable households of the period.

The iron hand had taken on the velvet glove. Discipline—still a synonym for decency, for civilisation, for religion, in the average parent's mind—was enforced, not pitilessly, as aforetime, but with firmness, and as a rule in moderate and reasonable ways. The child, even the spoilt child, remained completely subject to its natural rulers, whose sense of responsibility for its well-being seemed never out of their minds; but while "duty" was still the watchword—and the word stood for a real thing—the weakness of the weak side was more justly allowed for—not pandered to, you understand; only not treated as a crime to be cured by punishment. Duty—duty—how one loathed the word! But how good for character to be trained to recognise the thing! The very infant, if able to employ itself usefully, had a daily task of some kind—was taught that life was meant for work, and that play was unlawful save as a reward for work. Even at T—— it was my duty, and I knew it, to spend certain hours with a long seam or hem, stabbing my finger, weeping over repeated unpickings and admonishments, just as it was my duty to make a joyless breakfast of bread and milk. Every little girl must know how to manufacture, single-handed, a whole shirt for her father—and the amount of fine sewing in a whole shirt of those days must now be seen to be believed—or hide her head amongst her peers and cause her mother to be ashamed of her. I was well on the way with this laborious undertaking before I could read.

Utter drudgery it was, because the scheme of "plain-work" was too vast, and its details too minute and complicated, for my understanding, but it did not destroy my inherited love of the needle. When it ceased to be an instrument of discipline, it became my favourite toy. I could be kept "good" at any time with beads to thread, or some wools and a bit of canvas for a kettle-holder, or, above all, scraps with which to dress dolls. What girl-child makes dolls' clothes—proper dolls' clothes—now? In my child days it was an occupation as constant as it was delightful. All the year round I was stocking a little trunk with elaborate costumes for my children, against they went with me a-visiting, or in the family party to the seaside. It was thus that I learned to be independent of dressmakers for myself in later years. A particularly bright memory of my life at T—— is the way I "spent the day"—a regular-recurring holiday—at a neighbouring farmhouse. My hostesses kept a doll for me. I never took it home—it lived in a drawer in their spare bedroom—but it was brought out as soon as I arrived, together with such odds and ends of material as were available at the moment; and down I sat to reclothe the puppet anew, in a costume of fresh design, the completion of which would synchronise with the call of parent or nurse to fetch me home. Now, when a houseful of grown-ups has a child to entertain for many hours at a stretch, what labour and strain to keep it amused and happy! These people had only to give me a doll, a rag or two, and sewing materials, and I was amused for the whole day, and so happy that I have never forgotten how happy I was.

On account of that doll—which, after all, was not more than six inches long—I had been most anxious to see the house belonging to it. I knew it had been near T——, and, as I remembered it, almost unique in rustic charm. Often, amid the lightly run up homes of Australia, I had thought of its solid, old-world, if humble, beauty, and on this particular afternoon I had purposed to feast my artistic sense upon it with a satisfaction unknown to me when I was young and ignorant. It was quite a shock—so accustomed had I become to finding all I looked for—to discover that it was no more; the one thing gone, of which no trace at all remained. Its garden was wholly obliterated, and on the site of the old house stood a new house, the commonest of the common, from which I turned in disappointment and disgust. Dear, dear old vanished home! I could not have believed I should feel its loss so much.

But I can say of it, in the words of the obituary column, that, although gone, it is not forgotten. In my gallery of Memory the picture of it hangs, no line or tint bedimmed by the passage of the years.

Behold it with me, my reader. In the foreground an oval lawn, carefully kept (for I was frequently employed to weed the daisies out): it is ringed with gravelled path, then squared box borders, then flower-beds, behind which on one side rises a thick belt of fir-trees, and on the other lie the farmyards, over a dividing wall. From the little green gate in the roadway fence (lined with a clipped hedge) one views the old dwelling at the top of the lawn; long and low, its walls a mat of ivy, pierced with latticed casements, opening outward, and a front door under a little porch; a large, steep, thatched roof, with dormer windows to the row of four bedrooms, and old ornamental chimneys in clusters, tall and fat. On the side of the trees, wooden lattices in the ivy let sunless light into the dairy (robber rats used to squeeze through the interstices and get caught fast on their return), and the finest violets and primroses grow underneath. Also, farther into the green shade, pet hedgehogs live that a little girl feeds with milk, and that uncurl and scuffle along at her heels through the pine-needles to show their cupboard love. And along that side the bees feed from the foxgloves, in the bells of which little boys entrap them, to chase the little girl with the buzzing prisoners, helpless in their silken bags. The backyard, unseen, has red-brick pathways through it, ringing with the clink of pattens and milk-pails; one leads to a green door, portal of a paradise of unforbidden fruit; another branches off to the gate of nearest access to the deeply mired cowyard, which is also the pigyard and poultry-yard—which, by the way, should suggest an effluvium to be remembered, but does not, possibly because the windows of the period were used, not to let air in, but to keep it out. Sweet old house—altogether sweet, smelling only of lavender and cabbage roses and pot-pourri and fragrant cookings....

The title of the picture is "The House of the Doll."

For the doll's sake, Mrs H., its mistress, and H.M. (the two Christian names never dissociated), her daughter, stand out from the shadowy crowd of my earliest acquaintances in high relief. So small a society as we were in our village and adjacent hamlets—miles and miles from any railway—we had, of course, our cliques. Some of the half-dozen or so of farmers' families were not to be familiarly recognised on any account; with two or three we were distantly fraternal, confining our amenities to cake-and-wine calls; one or two were on such a footing with us that we "dropped in" on each other at uncanonical hours, and conducted intercourse in our "keeping" rooms and in our ordinary attire, but still with the perfect understanding that the precise etiquette of the time forbade the dearest friend to stay to meals unless previously invited and prepared for; excepting, of course, in crises of trouble, when etiquette must ever give way to primitive impulse. The H. family were amongst these intimates, and chief of them all to me on account of that doll.

There was a Mr H., but he was a nonentity in his domestic circle, a slow, fat, white old man, with a large pimple on his nose, and whom his wife addressed and referred to by his surname only; from all that I can remember, it seems plain that she (a notable person amongst us, vigorous, dressy, authoritative, I should say a perfect exponent of the "proper" in her class) held the purse-strings. I know that she left home at stated intervals to "collect her rents"—not his. There was also H., the bushy-whiskered, towny son, apple of his mother's eye—the same H. who married cousin E.—but he was not much at his home when I was going there to dress my doll. When he was, he illustrated the awkwardness of the architectural plan of that and many of the old houses of the time. The row of upper chambers, whose dormer windows poked out of the thatched roof, opened one into the other; Mrs H. and her spouse had command of the staircase, but H.M. had to go through their room to hers, and H. through both to his; beyond his lay the spare bedroom, which had a little newel staircase, no wider than the doors that masked it, in one corner, going down to the corresponding corner of what was superfluously styled the "spare" parlour; but these two stately and sacred rooms were not meant to be made a passage of, and as such no one thought of using them. So H. came and went by way of his mother's and sister's rooms, and when I spent the night with them (sleeping with H. M.) the excitement of his appearances was a great part of the entertainment. H.M.'s favourite ejaculation, "Lawk-a-daisy-me!" signalled his approach; if she was in bed she threw the sheet over her head, if she was up she hid in a closet. She never seemed to get over the novelty of the thing, which must have been going on since she was born. And, although she was probably a young woman, she seemed quite old to me.

Poor H.H.! How history repeats, and also anticipates, itself! Too elegant for a farmer, and so a corn-merchant, with a desk in the Exchange at L——, it was quite a condescension on his part to make a sojourn under the paternal roof; and his mother seemed to glory in the fact. He was the fine gentleman of the village, bringing the latest thing in trouser-cut and hat-brim to the rustic youth. How appropriate his ideals to his end!

Dress, I may remark by the way, although so far less complicated and costly than it now is, was an equally important matter to us all. Red-letter days were those on which we met our intimate acquaintances, at each house in turn, to inspect the new attire procured twice a year from L——. All the ladies seemed to set themselves up at once, possibly because fixed days were observed for bringing out their finery, Easter Sunday being one, but also they may have wished to avoid the appearance of copying or forestalling each other. I know there was a great comparing of notes at the various private views, and ejaculations of admiration signifying polite surprise. A new dress per season was then a thing unheard of, but a new bonnet, or, more often, one that had been cleaned and retrimmed, was forthcoming for every female head. I can see those bonnets now, with their flowered caps in front and their flouncy curtains behind, and their strings that used to be rolled up and pinned in paper when not spread in bow and ends upon the wearers' breasts. I think Mrs H. and her daughter must have been our great exemplars in the matter of dress, so numerous seemed the mantles and fal-lals in addition to the bonnets of their bi-annual show, and such an impression of their rustling magnificence on Sundays remains with me.



It struck me, as I stood up in Mr B.'s carriage to look at the old house which had so well survived the changes and chances of half-a-century, that at the beginning of that half-century the cash cost of happiness was very much lighter than it is at the end; and not the cash cost of happiness only, but of material well-being, domestic plenty, social position, everything necessary to the comfort and dignity of a gentleman. I do not speak of the poor labouring class; I do not say—I do not for a moment think—that the old times on the whole were better than the new; but I believe they were better in a few things, and amongst other things in this—the good taste of people in the matter of money.

Five hundred a year was then a good income. The fortunate possessor did not usually thirst for more. He could keep a large, substantial house amply provided, and take his family for an outing yearly, and still save something. He had not fifty thousand trivial drains upon his purse, as we have, consuming our substance we know not how; he saw his return for what he spent, and he knew what he wanted, and it was not much. His good home, his county town, his local meet of hounds—they were not necessarily duller than the crush of interests in our more fevered world. He grew his own fruit and vegetables, if not his own pork and butter. Housekeeping was thrifty, as a matter of duty, apart from any thought of saving. I knew an earl who took a lump of meat out of a pig-tub and ordered it to be washed and cooked for his dinner, by way of pointing a moral to wasteful kitchenmaids. Out of five hundred pounds a year, the wife would ask, perhaps, twenty pounds as her personal allowance. Her clothes were always good, with rarely a button or a darn wanting, but they were made at home or in the National School—fine linen under-garments (with, of course, silk stockings) and white calico petticoats, seamed and tucked exquisitely, but not "enriched" with miles of lace, as in our own costly fashion. She wore aprons to protect her neat gowns—a black silk ornamental apron in the afternoon. Her best silk dress was best for a dozen years, the Paisley shawl of her marriage outfit never out of fashion. The local dressmaker came to sew for the children—eighteenpence a day and her meals; she remade the same frock twice or thrice: turning it on the first occasion, putting it together after washing on the second, cutting it down for a younger child on the third; and everything was lined throughout, to enhance the durability of those everlasting stuffs. Girls went to balls in white book-muslin and a pink or blue sash; the whole costume, with shoes and gloves, might have cost a pound; yet we were supposed to be well dressed—we really were, according to the modest requirements of the time. So that it is easy to understand why the possessor of five hundred pounds a year not only felt himself passing rich, but actually was so. A farmer—a "gentleman-farmer," as he was called, the class to which we belonged—with half that income clear of farm expenses, was in a position to envy no man. I fancy that was something like my father's situation when we were at T——. But he was constitutionally incapable of managing money—he could not hold it—and it is mother I think of when I think how ample and orderly that old home was. The housewife of those days—so humbly inferior to her lord and master as she was content to consider herself, although he might not be worthy to tie her shoes (to adjust her sandals, rather)—she was the home-maker, the heroine of her day, although nobody knew it, herself least of all. Certainly she had the advantage over her descendants of those good old contented servants which are never heard of nowadays, because the feudal age is past; they were the foundation-stones of the domestic edifice, which for lack of them is now unsettled, decaying, in some sort out of date. But apart altogether from consideration of such conditions as were of the times and not of her individual choice, did she not know her business well? I ask you, dear friends, who were young with me.

Her grand-daughters laugh at her little fads and nostrums, but they had their value and meaning to her and us. I have known of a modern lady, a collector of curios, getting hold of that, to her, amusing article, a copper warming-pan. Having been so lucky as to get hold of it, she hung it up on a wall by a ribbon round its handle, for an ornament. The housewife of the fifties did know better than that. She raked red coals into it, poked it between the sheets at the bottom of a bed, and in a few minutes made that bed the cosiest, the blissfullest, the most sleep-compelling nest to tuck an ailing child into on a winter's night that was ever contrived by human intelligence in any generation. I would like once more to hear that smothered rattle up and down, to smell that delicious scorchy odour of the warmed sheets, to feel that sensation of transcendent comfort as I sank to rest; but, of course, I never shall. Now, when I fear to be kept awake with the shivers of a raw night, I fall back on a hot-water bottle or a brick baked in the kitchen oven. The magic warming-pan, where still extant, hangs cold and useless on the wall. The present generation does not know its value; no, not even in chilly England, where I found so many unexpected survivals of things I had supposed for ages out of date. It seems to me—not always, of course, nor even often, but now and then—that the homes of my childhood were more really comfortable than the corresponding homes of to-day. That there was real comfort in them, and that at a price far less than we pay for our comfort, is, at any rate, indisputable.

Deadly dull they would be to us to-day, I know. I saw something of the life, about the eastern counties, in several families that had brought it down unchanged to the twentieth century, and I asked myself, "How could I stand this now?" I could not stand it, with all my love of peace and quiet, of which I have never been able to get enough. It would drive me melancholy mad. But in the days to which these self-contained and unawakened homes belong, it was not dull. Was it, reader? To the best of my recollection, we did not know what boredom meant.

The procession of the hours passed before my eyes when I looked at my old home—one day so like another that I could not lose myself amongst them.

No morning tea, of course. I blush to add, no bath. I do not remember a bathroom in any house—not even that of my maternal grandfather, a physician of some distinction in his day, who dictated the laws of hygiene not only to us but to many county families. A portable bath was part of the furniture of every decent house—we had one so large that the frequent monthly nurse made her bed in it—but, like the warming-pan, it was not for common use; it was a medical appliance chiefly. Such is the case, I find, in many English houses still. We children were severely scrubbed and scoured in washing-tubs every Saturday night—"tub night"—and we did a great deal of sea bathing in summer; between whiles we ran constant risk of being sent from table to obliterate the line of demarcation between the washed and unwashed portions of face and neck. Dirty little pigs! We used to dress first, and then seek the sparing sponge. This was after the nurse of infancy had been replaced by the nursery governess, who, to the best of my recollection, was no more particular herself.

There was some excuse for us in those bitter English winters. To go warm from the "keeping-room" fire to the ice-cold linen sheets was bad enough—I recall the nightly struggle for courage to put feet down into them; to have to get out again into a temperature that froze the towels on the horse so that they would stand up by themselves like boards—that froze one's breath on the sheets so that I have scratched my face on the crystals as on pins—was a sharper ordeal. Small wonder that we hurried into our clothes, or that the stiff, blue, chilblained fingers shrank from wet on the top of cold. I remember a winter night when my ewer split in halves with a loud report, and the water within rolled out upon the floor like a lump of glass; there had been a fire in the room overnight too, a luxury dispensed with, as a rule, in the case of children who had passed out of the nursery into rooms of their own. It was in the same winter that I inadvertently touched an iron railing with my bare hand, and skin and metal stuck together. This, however, was not at T——.

My doctor-grandfather did not pull-to the curtains round his and grandmother's bed. I know, because I used to sleep in their room when visiting them by myself, and gaze upon them from my cot in the corner as they slept—both in nightcaps, hers deeply frilled over the face, his cone-shaped, with the tasselled point hanging over one ear. But it was the the rule to draw them—that is what they were there for—and my father and mother did so. The room itself was made airtight first. To have slept with a window open would have seemed to them the act of a deliberate suicide. Curtains having been drawn over bolted windows, six more (of flowered damask, very thick) were drawn round the canopied four-poster, turning it into a small tent; a pleated valance round the top obviated the danger of ventilation where the rings ran upon the rods. The occupants entered the enclosure by an aperture on either side, closed it carefully, sank into the yielding depths of the billowy feather-bed, and slept like tops. At any rate, I never heard that they did not. More than that, there are people who can sleep under almost the same conditions still. I had had an idea that feather-beds had been extinct for thirty years, at least, but last year I reposed on no less than four separate ones in four separate houses; yes, and slept well upon them all. I got so used to feather-beds at last that on my return home I had to send my hair mattress to be teased before I could reconcile myself to it again. Almost everywhere I went in England I used to go up to bed to find the windows of my room closed and locked under the drawn blinds—part of the housemaid's preparations for the night; whereas I am accustomed to sleep with three wide open, and to wish that roof and walls could be dispensed with. Although I adjusted myself so easily to the feather-bed, I drew the line at the shut-up room; the fresh night air was indispensable. But I would sometimes find the bedclothes damp in the morning, and the clothes I had taken off too clammy to put on again. I had forgotten that peculiarity of English nights.

My mother, when I knew her first, did her hair of a morning in two parts; the hinder half was brushed back, tied tightly, and disposed in braids around a high comb; the front drooped in beautiful golden ringlets on either side of her face. But when she was thirty or so she dressed like the sedate old lady that we took her then to be. She tucked her fair hair under a cap—a large cap, with streamers of ribbon hanging down from below the ears like untied bonnet-strings. There was a dummy head of pasteboard (which went by the name of Jane Winter), with a proper face to it, and a hollow neck with an opening within which to stow away materials, on which her caps were made. It may possibly have been because she was perennially convalescing from confinements that she wore caps as a habit at so early an age, but I think not; I believe them to have been the sign of departed youth. When you became a mother, though you might be still in your teens, a large cap was part of the "sitting-up" costume. I remember standing at mother's side by open drawers, while Cousin E., "expecting" for the first and last time, displayed the elaborate preparations made for her infant and herself. I did not know what they meant, but I see now the white cap of blond lace and gauze ribbon that she twirled about on her doubled fist. I saw her in it too on the happy day when I was first allowed to sit on a stool at her feet and nurse the baby. She looked beautiful in it, with her girlish face and mass of dark hair. On emerging from invalid retirement she left it off, so I suppose it was a sort of glorified substitute for the universal nightcap.

With regard to other clothing, all persons claiming to be gentlefolk—the division of classes was strongly marked in those days—wore Irish linen shifts and shirts and silk stockings; no matter how poor nor how outwardly shabby they went, they must conform in those particulars or lose caste. My two grandmothers, both wealthier than we were, were sticklers for the finest material, and some of their silk stockings (white, like all stockings) and exquisite under-garments came down to their descendants to be darned and darned as long as they would hold together. When they were worn out—no cotton; a lady would live on bread and water sooner than come to that. Much of this linen nether-wear was made in the National Schools, where sewing was an important feature in the education of the poor. The ladies of the neighbourhood gave their material and instructions, and from time to time inspected the process of manufacture. Often have I accompanied a village patroness on this errand, stood shyly by while she studied the fine stitching—one thread drawn and the tiny beading done on the crossing threads, two backward and two forward—and the tiny gathers "stroked" to a regularity that no machine could better, the little craftswomen dropping their dutiful curtsies to her when she deigned to commend their work. I do not know who was paid for it when it was done.

Winter and summer these linen garments were, I believe, worn next the skin. I forget what the fashion of the early fifties decreed to be worn immediately over them, except stays that had busks of solid wood, and had to be laced down the back every time they were put on. But I remember watching, in that room up yonder, my mother tying her bustle round her waist. It was a stuffed roll like a sand-bag, reaching from hip to hip, designed to set her skirts out behind; and the skirts hanging under and over it were numerous and full. As for gowns—the deep point in front, the patterned flounces, bell sleeves combined with white muslin bishop sleeves, large lace collars fastened under a spreading ribbon bow or cameo brooch the size of a small plate, "habit-shirts" (for filling in the long and narrow V of an open-fronted bodice)—memory supplies but a jumble of these things. It does not matter. History has preserved the modes of the time, and I presume we kept up with them as well as country-folk could do.

In the nursery our clothes were more defined in style. Though snow lay on the ground, we went bare-armed and bare-necked—down to the latest baby, whose little sleeves would be tied up with ribbons at the shoulders. To put long sleeves to a child's frock was a thing unheard of; they were given to us with the first "gown," which, with its lengthened skirt and fastenings in front, signified the estate of womanhood. Sandalled shoes, very thin in the sole, were correct indoor wear. The other end of me was showered over with tubular ringlets hanging nearly to my waist. The painful process of preparing them—the relentless thoroughness with which our nurse (mother was gentler) rolled up a strand of hair a few inches, "chucked" it tight upon its rag, rolled it a little more and chucked it again, and finally tied it close to the stretched scalp, with odd hairs dragging at their too tenacious roots, continuing the torture for half-an-hour or more—this was one of the sorrows of childhood in the fifties, and no small one either. Our nursery toilet was completed by the "feeder" tied on before each meal and removed after. We went downstairs—when mother was "about"—to the row of bread-and-milk basins that I, for one, hated the sight of, except in the season when a sprinkle of strawberries or raspberries and a little sugar were dropped into them; the youngest aunt being unaware of such a weak relaxation of rules. Discipline imposed that bread-and-milk upon us every day of our lives, no matter how we rebelled against it. We might be bribed to get it down by promises of a taste of the adults' dishes afterwards—the fat gravy from the bacon was a valued perquisite; but there was no dispensing with the nauseous preliminary. I have not been able to eat bread-and-milk since.

Mother came downstairs with her key-basket. What she did with all those keys I do not know, but they were evidently precious. She carried them, with the plate-basket, to her room, nightly; a maid retrieved the latter when she took up father's shaving water, but the little brown basket of keys was never beyond reach of the mistress's hand. She set it down beside the tea-tray while she administered breakfast. And I had not been three days in England before I saw the exact duplicate of that little brown basket, with all the keys in it, go through exactly the same performance. How oddly it struck me. For in Australia we know not key-baskets—never have done so far as I know. If you were to lock sideboard or store-closet against your respectable maids in this country they would not stay with you. And I should not blame them.

I suppose mother's tea-caddy was locked—certainly tea was a terrible price those days. I often opened the lid of the quaint box, which had two lidded receptacles inside, one for black tea, one for green, and a special caddy spoon to ladle it out with. She made the tea herself from a blending of the two kinds, to which she added a dust of carbonate of soda, apparently to increase the look of strength. She drew the water from the hissing urn, kept at the boil by a red-hot metal core slipped into a cylinder in the middle of it. She and father, like many others, drank the decoction pure, without sugar or milk.

After breakfast he went to his farm work; she also—and she was the better farmer of the two, although he was bred to the trade and she was not. His soul was in the hunting-field and the lighter distractions of his life, and money slid through his pockets as water through a sieve; it was she, from first to last, who kept things together as best she could. She had had the sheltered and dainty girlhood of the well-born and well-to-do, who had such (to us, and especially to us who are British colonists) strange ideas of the privileges and immunities of their class; needless to say she had never done "work," in the real sense of the word, for that was the portion of the "common people." But now she sent fowls and eggs to market; and butter of her own manufacture—butter in large quantities, as I remember, for I used to sit on a high chair in the dairy with her and watch her make it. She always made a special pat for me, with no salt in it; which is how I like butter to this day. I could see again, as I looked along the side of the old house, that cool dairy, with the shelf of crockery pans all round it and the big churn in the middle, on the red-flagged floor; I leaned again on the edge of the table where she worked under my studious eye, her white arms bare to above the elbow, the dim green light on her lily-fair face—light filtered through a wooden lattice and the shadows of an elderberry-tree, from the fruit of which was made yearly many a stone jarful of strong wine, for mulling with sugar and spices to warm us for bed o' winter nights and before going to an unheated church on winter Sunday mornings.

Besides elderberry wine mother made gooseberry wine, currant wine, ginger wine, cowslip wine—all manner of wines; the cellar was kept stocked with a large variety, costing next to nothing. She used them where the modern hostess uses tea in the entertainment of company. Afternoon callers had cake and wine offered to them, and the careful wife of a wasteful husband did not squander the port and sherry. They were for the solemn dinners—to swim upon a shining mahogany sea in the best decanters, set in baize-bottomed boats of pierced silver—and for Christmas and other festivals. There was always a "best" of everything—glass, china, silver, napery—sacred to state occasions.

Every year also she brewed beer in the brew-house, barrels of it, for the supply of the field labourers (to whom it was given at eleven A.M. to wash down their luncheon of bread and pork), as well as for household use. Her cordials, her jams and jellies, her pickles of all sorts, her mushroom "ketchup," her raspberry vinegar and cherry brandy, her bottles of capers (the seeds of nasturtiums), her jars of garnered honey, her ropes of onions, her carefully cured hams and bacons, hanging thickly from the beams of the timbered kitchen ceiling—punctually were all these things stocked in their season, excellently prepared, by her own hands, when illness did not compel her to use a deputy. She and the other village ladies were rival cooks. Each had her special family recipes, and they took pride in comparing them.

Baking day occurred twice a week. Then was the great oven in the wall filled with blazing faggots, and the kitchen tables with the dough of bread and pastry and the batter of cakes; anon the smouldering ashes were raked out, and the long-handled flat shovel fed loaves and meat pies and sweet confectionery into the warm-breathing cavern; presently the house was odorous with appetising scents, and the pantry was stocked for the time being. Amongst the delicacies would be a little cake of my own making. I would spend the morning over that bit of material, brought to the colour of a slate pencil, while mother manipulated the rest, going and coming, flushed and busy, but loving to keep me by her, to prattle to her while she worked. It seems to me that I must have been her constant companion before the governesses came.

The joint for dinner was not baked—never. It was hung by a "jack" over a dripping-pan before the square red fire, which roasted it crisp and brown as the machine slowly turned it round and round. Sometimes the machine went wrong (it wound up like a clock), and sometimes a coal would fall into the pan and make the gravy gritty, but, on the whole, I fancy that way of cooking meat has not been much improved upon. The outside fat seemed to take on layers of richness with every spoonful of fire-cleared dripping poured over it. The gravy that was the residue of this had a surpassing quality, particularly when upheaved upon the bosom of a puffy-edged Yorkshire pudding, or when mingled with the cream that hares were basted with. Unsoddened and undiluted by the steam of the ovens, the whole goodness was preserved to flesh and juice. Unless it is that distance lends enchantment to this roast of old.

The Yorkshire pudding or the roast gravy with some other plain pudding—boiled batter or Norfolk dumplings—made the first course of the midday dinner (as it does still in some conservative families), and the midday dinner was moved on to three o'clock for company and on state occasions. The meat and vegetables made the second course; after these the sweets and cheese (home-made), as now, with dessert only on Sundays and holidays. A jug of brown ale, drawn from a barrel perennially on tap, would grace the table, which had no decoration of flowers, but relied for distinction upon the quality of its napery and silver. We dined with our parents mostly, and were not oppressively treated in respect of good things, unless the youngest aunt was present.

After dinner father took his arm-chair and his long-stemmed churchwarden, mother her indefatigable needle. Or perhaps she and I would walk out together to call upon our neighbours—those who received us in the keeping-room (aptly named), where we could enjoy the informal intercourse that was in character with the place, or those who invited us to the parlour, the primness, comfortlessness, reserve and artificiality of which were reflected in our demeanour, as in that of the lady of the house. When Mrs H. was summoned without notice to interview a caller here, she kept that caller waiting while she changed her gown, put on her best cap, got out her best decanters and silver cake-basket; her daughter similarly revised her costume before she allowed herself to be seen, although they always "dressed" for midday dinner and the afternoon, after their kitchen and farm work of the morning. But when we appeared unexpectedly, Mrs H.'s up-thrown hands and H.M.'s "Lawk-a-daisy-me!" would express not consternation but ready welcome; and in that dear old keeping-room, with its beamed ceiling almost on our heads, we were friends and not company, and could open hearts and mouths as freely as we liked. That is, the grown-ups could—not I. "Little girls must be seen and not heard," was the admonition addressed to me when I attempted to join in the conversation. My part was to listen, which I did so well that I could almost fill a book with the interesting family secrets and village scandals unconsciously confided to my retentive child's memory.

There was a lady spoken of who went to bed when her baby was dying, and who, on rising in the morning, showed disappointment that it was not dead, and resentment towards the Good Samaritan (H.M. herself) who had sat up with it all night, and whose skill had pulled it through. There was another lady who, having come into a fortune of thousands, had wept because a hundred or two belonging to it had been left to someone else, the reason of those tears being that the odd money would have enabled the weeper to refurnish her house without breaking into the rounded bulk of the big legacy. There was yet another, a devoted whist-player, who had been caught by some extraordinarily smart person in the practice of an ingenious swindle. She would say to her husband, clearly her partner in guilt as in the game, although somehow he escaped censure: "Dear, it is your turn," or: "How warm the room is!" or: "Come, go on," or "See what the time is "—i.e. drop some seeming innocent remark beginning with a certain letter, according as she wanted him to lead diamonds, hearts, clubs or spades. This was evidently regarded as a most horrifying tale, and I could not see why—for a long time. Nor was it easy to fathom the significance of that one about the governess and tutor, who were expelled together from a great house in the neighbourhood, because they had been discovered love-making when they should have been attending to their duties. The warning about "little pitchers"—dropped, it was fondly supposed, unnoticed by me—would now and then spoil the dénouement of a story; but there were dozens and dozens that came to me complete, to be understood in later years, if not at the time. On our way home from these casual symposia I would question mother upon points that puzzled me. Often she would say: "Never mind," or: "You would not understand"; but more often she gave me the information I wanted. She excused herself for this unfashionable weakness in a mother of the period by explaining (the plea for all indulgence) that I was "different from other children."

Five-o'clock tea was not afternoon tea. It was the family evening meal. Ham, brawn (we called it pork-cheese), or some fancy meat, cold, and laid out in slices on a plate, was there for sandwiching between bread and butter similarly prepared; or the savoury might be shrimps or crab, or radishes or cress; jams of great variety, and particularly cakes, filled the rest of the table space that was not occupied by the tea-tray, crowned with its hissing urn. And for this meal no white cloth was used; nor do I remember such a thing as a finger-napkin at any meal. It seemed to be the adjunct of the finger-glass, which we did not aspire to.

Tea was made as at breakfast, but not for us; we had ours in the nursery, of bread-and-treacle or bread-and-dripping, and our mugs held milk and water—except only on such great occasions as Christmas days and birthdays, when we were allowed what we called "gunpowder tea," which was our milk-and-water sugared and slightly coloured with a few spoonfuls from the grown-ups' teapot. In winter a pair of tallow candles illuminated the scene. The grandparents used wax candles—one grandfather used four at a time, and six for company, in six big silver candlesticks—but ours were usually made, like so much else that other people bought at shops, by mother's ingenious hands. Snuffers accompanied them. Some that I have seen were such works of art as well as curiosities that I wonder I have not heard of them amongst the hoards of bric-à-brac collectors. We possessed one beautiful pair in chased and pierced silver, the box patterned like a watch-case; and another of the same metal, finely worked, which had a spring inside the little door that snuffed the black wick into the receiver; and the trays of both matched in style and workmanship. I do not know what became of them—thrown away, probably, as antiquated rubbish, when oil lamps came in.

It was by the light of a tallow candle that mother did the exquisite needlework that nobody can do now, in these effulgent evenings. You almost need a microscope to see the stitches of her fairy-like baby-clothes. Father read his paper quite comfortably by the same dim flame. And people wore spectacles in old age only, and never complained, in my hearing, of ailing or deficient eyes. Why was that?

Although mother, when not needed for social purposes, sewed on until supper-time, my interminable seam was laid aside. I might thread beads or dress dolls or make kettle-holders. Also, the rule that barred story-books, as one would bar cards or dancing, during the serious work hours of the day, was relaxed after tea, and I could batten on "Peter Parley" and The Child's Companion and "The Swiss Family Robinson"—when I was old enough—without incurring the reproach attaching to the dissipated and idle. My earliest fairyland I found in pictures, about which I wove stories of my own. We took a small penny periodical filled with descriptions and illustrations of the contents of the Great Exhibition; this did not much appeal to me, although I remember its woodcuts well. I preferred the lovely Annuals, with their large-eyed and small-mouthed Lady Blessingtons, and the pocket-books, annuals also, which, in addition to their blank pages, contained prize poems and a variety of things, chief amongst them engravings of the country seats of the nobility and gentry. In these palaces and gardens I wandered in fancy, the possessor of them all. But the book I loved most, at the beginning of books, was a handsomely bound collection of tales or sketches, the author of which was (I think) a Mrs Ellis, and the moral—interpreted at a later age—something to do with the temperance question. The letterpress was a blank to me; the steel engravings bound together at the end of the volume I pored over by the hour. One was called "Lady Montfort parting from her Children." She was a beautiful creature in a spacious bare neck and a chaplet of roses, tearing herself wildly from the embraces of a large family trying to hold her back. She was going to have an operation for something, and the doctor was going to perform it with the drunkard's shaking hand and kill her. All I then knew was that she was parting from her children for the last time, and I used to weep over their fate and dream about it. Another picture represented a girl in a high-waisted, pillow-case-like gown and flowered coal-scuttle bonnet (a fashion gone out before I came in), accompanied by another, her maid, similarly but more plainly attired, leaning, from the outside road, over a gate belonging to an ideal parsonage house. I do not know whether drink had caused the late incumbent to die prematurely or to be expelled from his living, but in any case it was responsible for throwing his daughter upon the world. "Looking towards my home and knowing I nevermore should call it mine," was the touching legend inscribed upon the page. I would have given worlds to know how she got on, poor thing. The picture of an after-dinner gentleman being supported out of the dining-room by the butler and footman, and meeting some outraged relative at the door, was too subtly tragic for my understanding.

Children (according to their view) were sent to bed too soon; they always have been, and always will be. But that was not a grievance of mine. As a nursery child, not yet at the stage of learning letters, I practically lived downstairs with my parents—at such times as the youngest aunt was not there to prevent it. Father took me out on horseback about the farm, seated on a pad in front of him within his arms, mother in the gig with her when she went to her old home or shopping to L——; and I believe I could always manage to sit up to supper, if I begged hard and long enough. I was a thoroughly spoilt child. Father's excuse was that I "could not spoil," but I am discounting that fond belief by displaying the spoilt child's base ingratitude—remembering how love carried to extremes indulged my heart's desires, and blaming that love in print! If, while shopping with my mother, I lost my heart to a ducky little parasol (it was of grey watered silk, with white silk lining, deep fringe and a handle jointed in the middle), I would find it next day, springing out on me from some artful ambush, "With Father's Love." For years, on opening the piano for practice, I used to find one spring day the first cucumber of the season, because I was particularly fond of cucumbers. He did not care what it cost, if only he could be the first to treat me. And I purse my lips at their dear shades and shake a reproving head. Still, the fact remains that I sat up of a night when I ought to have been in bed, and even at times when we had "parlour company."

For well I remember the whist tables that entertained our circle on winter evenings, in that room to the left of the hall at T——, and myself sitting at the elbow of one of my parents to watch the mysterious cards and the mutations in the four little piles of coin. It was the rigour of the game, without a doubt—no talk, no levity, but a still and solemn concentration upon the play; and I think I must have been rather a good child, after all, to have been allowed to be there to look on at it.

I remember one other evening pastime of the grown-ups at this period, and my curious participation in it—table-turning. There was an epidemic—probably the first—of enthusiasm for this method of occult research. And round the heavy "centre table," which was a feature of the drawing-rooms of the time, friends gathered to consult the oracle or to deride it, as the case might be. In our house they compromised on an open-minded curiosity tempered with the feeling that "there really must be something in it"—something supernatural, they meant. Interests and credulity were strengthened by my performances at the game. I was supposed to be a mere onlooker, "to be seen and not heard," as usual, but perhaps the chain of hands was not long enough, or perhaps I wanted to join in, and the let-the-little-dear-do-what-she-likes habit of the house admitted me to a place accordingly; at any rate, I one day found myself perched on a book-piled chair in the circle of earnest inquirers round the centre table, my thumbs in contact, the tips of my fourth fingers overlapping the tips of those on either side of me.

Long had the company sat in silent suspense, the solid piece of furniture—round-topped, and supported by a stout pedestal and claw feet resting on mahogany lions' backs—refusing to make a sign; but no sooner was my influence brought to bear upon it than it began to creak and groan, and was presently lumbering like a Wombwell elephant about the room, with us after it, scrambling over stools and other impedimenta to hold fast to it as long as possible. In recording events of so long ago, and particularly a matter of this kind, I wish to make full allowance for unconscious exaggeration; but that the table was declared too heavy to be pushed into such movements, and that I was frequently sent for to start them when older hands failed to do so, are circumstances that seem particularly clear to me.

I suppose, as my fellow-tableturners said at the time, there must have been "something" in me, as well as in "it," if I have rightly described what happened. I mentioned in my "Thirty Years in Australia" a German doctor who in his old age became a spiritualist, and tried hard to persuade me to lend myself to séance purposes, because, he said, I had that in me which marked me out as a medium. Might it possibly have been the same "something" that he divined? Well, I neither know nor care. The little mysteries are all embraced in the big Mystery, which would not be mysterious if we had the power to understand it. I was always that kind of a sceptic which believes in there being a reason for everything. When I was a girl I saw ghosts—unmistakably visible ghosts—and even in their presence, certain that they could not be flesh and blood creatures, and paralysed with horror to know it, I was able to keep this attitude of mind. Since nothing else ailed me that I knew of, I said to myself, "I am going mad"; and I was quite correct in my diagnosis, since what was really happening to me was the beginning of brain fever. I never had or showed the slightest leaning towards or interest in so-called supernatural phenomena. Occult "science" is to me what Mrs Harris was to Betsy Prig. The table-turning craze soon passed, as far as my people were concerned, and I never, even to that extent, dabbled in the black arts again.

The social evening, in those old days, began after the five-o'clock tea and ended with the nine-o'clock supper. This was a great meal, always. The cloth was spread for it as for dinner, and chairs drawn up and carving-knives flourished. The cold joint, with pickles, cold fowl, meat pie, the occasional crab or lobster, the cucumber in its season, any left-over trifles of sweet pastry and creams, cheese—with beer, of course—that was the meal which our forebears found it possible to sleep on, and (which is much more surprising) some of their descendants enjoy without discomfort to this day. In the four houses of the four feather-beds the custom has never been abrogated.

Supper over, and dishes returned to the pantry, the elders at once prepared for bed—to burrow in those mounds of feathers with their heads in nightcaps, and nothing but their own exhausted breath to live on the long night through. Doors and windows—the latter barricaded at nightfall with wooden shutters (hinged and flattened into the wainscoted window-frame by day) drawn over them and fixed with an iron bar across—were severally examined in the most careful manner by whoever was head of the establishment for the time being. Servants might shut the house, but the responsibility of making sure that it was safe for the dark hours was too great to be left to them. I suppose there was some reason for this in the social conditions of the time. Perhaps father's military (yeomanry) accoutrements—which I never saw him wear, but which he was said to have worn, and certainly possessed—had some connection with his actions in preparing his house of a night as if for an expected siege. I know that any suspicious noise occurring after he had done so brought him and his blunderbuss upon the scene in the shortest possible space of time. And that raids did sometimes take place was proved by the sad story of a friend of ours, whose melancholy visage was accounted for by the fact that he had once shot a burglar dead without meaning it. He saw an unlawful hand intruded through a sawn-out gap in his window-shutter, and, calculating that the hand was well above the owner's body, fired at it from within the room. Alas! On the shoulders of him who worked from the ground was an unsuspected second man, and he received the charge in his breast. It was told us of the heart-broken doer of that deed that "he never smiled again."

So, the guard having gone the rounds, the humdrum duties of the day—that never palled—were ended. Master and mistress, bearing key-basket and plate-basket (the plate having been duly counted), trudged upstairs to that bed which was virtually their bedroom also. And slept!



All the Sundays of my childhood came to life again when, driving from T——, we passed the mouth of a grassy by-road, a little way down which stood the church of my earliest worshippings. We were due to drink tea at my grandfather's old home, now occupied by one of his great-grandsons, and had scant time for more lingerings on the way if we were to keep our appointment punctually; but the sight of the familiar square, squat tower was too much for me, and I said to M. and Mr B.: "Oh, I must, I must have just one look!" They drove me into the lane and, scrambling down, I ran up the path through the churchyard, glancing from side to side at the same old tombstones and grassy mounds, numbering baby graves of our own household amongst them, every one with its memories of Sunday loiterers sitting and standing about until all friends had passed and the bells had stopped; and my objective was a rood-screen, which not only had a lively story to it, but had persuaded me in the course of years that it was possibly a treasure of ecclesiastical art worth finding by one now educated to know its value. I might have been disappointed if I had seen it; I certainly was deeply disappointed at not seeing it. A wicket gate in the porch was locked against me. I ran along the wall and tried to peer into the windows, but I could see nothing, except my mental picture of the past—the three-decker, the carved screen, the two square pews in the chancel, the open seats outside.

It is rather curious that they were open seats at that time of day, when otherwise the church was quite early Victorian in its ways. I know that in the next decade, when the zeal for church restoration became noticeable, the stubborn defence of vested interests in the hereditary pews was the greatest obstacle to be overcome, and I have known it prove insuperable for nearly a decade more. Even the pews in the chancel of the church here at H——, one sacred to the old-maid daughters of the rector (when in residence, which was only for a small portion of the year), the other occupied by one of my uncles and his family, were open; not like the spacious room, with panelled walls and blue silk curtains all round above the level of his tall head, in which my maternal grandfather maintained at public worship the same privacy that he enjoyed at home. It is true that every seat, except the hard "free" forms at the back, belonged to a certain house, as legally and exclusively as the walled box which it had superseded; but there was a republican aspect, generally abhorrent to genteel persons, in the uniform open benches, which marked no divisions of caste between the highest and the lowest; the old box, on the contrary, indicated the status of its owner almost as accurately as his house. The carpet, cushions, hassocks, curtains were part of his personal establishment; if he were a big man, he would probably have a stove within the luxurious enclosure, by which to doze in comfort when the weather was cold. And it was usual for the wall immediately above him to be more or less covered with tablets to the memory of his deceased ancestors. When he died himself, the blue or red curtains which had preserved his nobility from the gaze of vulgar worshippers would be changed for hangings of black cloth, and the mourning hatchment would be put up.

In this little church the organist was the National School master, down at the bottom of the building, and his instrument in my time was a concertina. There was no vestry. The parson put his things on in the chancel (in one church that I knew he first dragged his things out of the altar, which made a convenient store-chest for the loose "properties" of the place), his sacerdotal toilet being performed quite openly before the assembled congregation, in front of a looking-glass hung upon a chancel pillar; the interest we took in this piece of ritual was great or greater according as the man was shy and nervous or self-confident and vain. The canopied three-decker embraced the whole area of ritual proper, except on the rare occasions—the three enjoined by the rubric, I suppose—when Holy Communion was celebrated. In the bottom pen the clerk bawled the responses, in the middle one the parson recited prayers and lessons, in the upper (having changed his surplice for a black gown) he preached.

Usually the parson was a curate, domestically familiar to us; sometimes he was the stout and stately rector. When he came to the beautiful embowered house that at other times wore blinds over its windows, and his haughty high-nosed daughters to that chancel pew which at other times stood empty, then it behoved the parish, literally, to sit up. With him we were comparatively at ease, but confronted with them we simply shook in our shoes. They did their parish work with vigour while they were about it. The "poor" were visited all round, scolded for their injudicious management of households on ten or twelve shillings a week, which, they were assured, would be an ample income if "crowdy" (a kind of meal porridge, I think—we never heard of it except from them) were substituted for the unnecessary luxuries they indulged in; and I believe the rectory kitchen doled broken victuals to the deserving. My father nursed a man's grudge against these well-meaning women chiefly on account of the crowdy suggestion so persistently thrust upon his farm labourers; the offensive word was so often on his lips that I have never forgotten it. He was always contrasting the existing régime with that of the late rector, who used to like to play whist and ride to hounds with him, and of whom I remember nothing but the fact of his death. My father and I, driving past the rectory gates, saw a gig slowly moving up and down before them. "Hullo!" said father, pulling up. "What's the matter?" The man in charge of the gig mournfully shook his head. "You don't say so?" father ejaculated, with even greater mournfulness. That was all. It meant that the doctor was inside, and that the rector was dying.

The existing régime, however, did not leave us out in the cold. The rector came at least once during his visit to his parish, and his daughters once, to call on us—cake-and-wine calls—and similarly honoured the houses of the other village gentry. The old man was as affable as he knew how to be; the entertaining of the old-young ladies was the formidable affair. If there was not time to set things in apple-pie order before they reached the front door, what flurry and fret and vexation of heart! Well for me if I was not doing punishment on the stairs at that awful moment!

But the story of the rood-screen that I so wanted to see, and could not, is the vivid memory of all.

The rector was in residence. He was putting on his robes in the chancel, before the looking-glass, with the dignified leisureliness that was his wont. The congregation was coming in. Amongst them was a lady from one of the farmhouses (called "The Manor," an ancient house which her family lived, instead of died, in, surrounded by a moat of stagnant water covered with arsenic-green duckweed—which house, or its site, there was not time to look for), and she was followed by a domestic pet, a raven. She knelt to her preliminary prayer. Rising from her knees she beheld the presumptuous bird sitting on the desk edge of her pew, regarding her quizzically with his head cocked to one side. I was watching him in ecstasy, but she—a gentle, fair woman, whose face as I then saw it I could identify in a crowd to-day—flushed crimson with consternation and shame. She put out a flurried hand to secure him, but he hopped out of her reach; further efforts resulted in his free flight through the church to perch on the top of the screen. There he sat, and defied the congregation to catch him—to the passionate delight, I am sure, of every child present. His poor mistress, however, was overwhelmed. She sat still, trembling and cowering, her cheeks like peonies; and the rector, when he realised the situation, was furious.

"Brown! Brown!" he shouted down the church.

The stalwart schoolmaster arose from where he sat with his pupils under the tower, and advanced up the aisle with a pole in his hand. It may have been the punitive rod with which he could crack the pate of the farthest National School boy without leaving his own seat to do it, or it may have been the church broomstick; anyway, it was long enough to reach the top of the screen.

"Bong on to him, Brown!" commanded the rector in loud imperious tones—he meant "bang on to him," but his accents as well as his words ring down the grooves of time as distinctly as if heard but yesterday. "Bong on to him!"

Brown wielded the clumsy weapon as desired, and it fell with force upon the spot from which the raven deftly hopped at the last moment. The bird was quite self-possessed in the midst of the excitement; each time he measured the direction of the pole, watched its approach, and skipped over or under it in the nick of time, and he chuckled and jeered as if it were a game of play. His demeanour, and its contrast with the increasing wildness of the schoolmaster's blows and of the outraged rector's temper, made the scene so exquisitely funny that I can laugh now when I think of it. I suppose I laughed then, for the irrepressible hilarity of the congregation, confessing its sympathy with the rebel against high authority, was an aggravation of the bird's offence too serious for words. I am sorry I cannot recall how the episode ended, but, of course, the raven was defeated somehow; what I can never forget is the splendid time he gave us first. He was better than the donkey which made another red-letter Sunday for us. This animal, grazing in the churchyard, put his head through the open door in the middle of sermon time. Not content with a decorous survey of the congregation he suddenly uttered his raucous bray—hee-haw!—as if in sarcastic comment upon the preacher's words.

But many funny things happened in church which we did not understand to be funny, and therefore found no amusement in. The spectacle of the parson's hat and gloves, perhaps also his overcoat and umbrella, on the communion-table did not raise a smile, not to mention frowns. A companion picture of the old clerk holding up the lid of the same table while he dragged forth from its depths a black bottle and tilted it before one unclosed eye, to see if it contained sufficient sacramental wine for an impending celebration, passed almost unnoticed. Conversations in the vulgar tongue, audible to all, were of almost daily occurrence—or I should say weekly occurrence, for whoever heard of non-Sunday matins or evensong in those easy-going times? Oh yes, they were known of course in cathedrals and the more civilised centres of life—the "Tracts for the Times" had been stirring up what the writers called "our afflicted church" for many a year—but not in such out-of-the-world villages as those in and about which my early years were spent.

There was no rigid ecclesiastical etiquette, no rigid ecclesiastical discipline, observed in those days, and the dullness of a child's Sundays was sensibly mitigated thereby. I remember an occasion when the parson (not Canon W., of the raven episode) was reading the psalms verse and verse about with the clerk beneath him. Suddenly the latter, instead of reciting his verse, remarked aloud: "You've turned over two leaves, sir." "No, I haven't," was the equally loud and composed reply. "Yes, you have," rejoined the clerk. They had quite an altercation, carried on exactly as if they had been out on the road. The rector of the parish where my maternal grandparents lived was the same sort of free-and-easy person. I was told that once, with the benediction hardly out of his mouth, he leaned over the ledge of the pulpit to hail a gentleman of the congregation before he should get away. "Come home with me," the rector publicly invited his friend, "I've got a prime haunch of venison for dinner." I remember his way with candidates for confirmation: "Your mother can hear your catechism." And it is my belief that the bishops asked no questions of the men who royally entertained them on their visitations. You could not imagine a rector dining on venison and waited on by liveried servants being subjected to the indignity of an inquiry as to how he performed his duties.

Parsons and squires—Church and State—combined to keep the common lay person in his place. In league they governed the rural communities, by whom their authority was unquestioned. It was a benevolent despotism, as a rule, like that of the majority of the slave-owning aristocracy of America, who were also in the enjoyment (tempered by "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and other annoying portents) of their feudal powers at the time; but, as with the slave system, it took small account of the human rights of the lower "orders" and in the hands of the naturally arrogant was often grossly abused.

A squire's wife of our neighbourhood, when she went out of church—and no one presumed to go before her—used to mount a little rise of ground near the porch, and there stand to receive the obeisances of "the poor." One by one they filed before her, dropping the trembling curtsy with that deprecating, serf-like air which one is thankful to know will never be worn again by man or woman of British blood; and according as they performed their act of homage, or satisfied her mind when she chose to stop and question them, so would they be rewarded in the dispensation of her doles—doles that might well demoralise poor things whose lives were all toil from beginning to end, and who perhaps never enjoyed a full meal until they ate it on Christmas Day in the workhouse, which was the refuge of their declining years.

This squire's wife (I saw her home and the church in the park again, still the appanage of her family) was typical of her class. They all regarded their villages as a queen would regard her kingdom. The squire looked after the menfolk and saw that his tenants voted Whig or Tory, as the case might be. But the homes were the care of the lady of the great house—where there was one. Often she was a second mother to them, feeling a responsibility for their well-being almost as great as for that of her own establishment. A godmother to babies, a nurse to the sick, the kind patroness of girls going out to service, a succourer in crises of trouble, an indispensable adviser in all-important affairs—I have known such and heard of more; but whether of this sort or of that which took the line of the arbitrary schoolmistress, it was invariably her aim to lead her protégées in the way that they should go. The parson was her henchman, as she was his backer. He made his reports and she acted upon them. "You were not at church on Sunday, Jane. How was that?" The chapel—making its way into the most conservative villages (but I knew one where the rights of the lord of the manor enabled him to keep it uncontaminated by both chapels and public-houses—he bracketed them together—up to the end of the sixties)—was contemptuously ignored as long as it was possible to do so. Jane had to go to church regularly, or forfeit the favour of authority and the incalculable advantages that went with it.

Morning service was, so to speak, the state service of the day. The heads of families attended, and the families themselves in force. The afternoon service was for servants and such, and nursemaids and governesses could take their charges to keep them occupied and out of the way; Sunday-schools were not invented, apparently, though we all had to say our collect and catechism to somebody at home. There was no service in the evening. The churches had no apparatus for lighting except with daylight. Sunday evening, in summer, was the time for long family walks, aimless strolls about the lanes and fields. It was the great opportunity for love-making with the young couples "keeping company." There was no visiting from house to house, as might be supposed, with families so much at leisure and so bored for want of something to do; it would have verged upon desecration of the Sabbath to have paid a call for the mere pleasure of it. No toys or story-books, and, of course, no games, were allowed to relieve the monotony of indoor hours. "Memoirs" represented the only human element in our Sunday literature, otherwise composed of volumes of sermons; and as the memoir was always of a clergyman, or some other saintly person, there were but two scraps of interest to be found in it—his portrait at one end and the account of what he died of at the other. Later, we had a servant who took in a missionary magazine full of pictures of black men swinging on hooks thrust through their backs, widows burning alive on pyres, missionaries being horribly tortured, cooked and eaten—all sorts of interesting things. She used to smuggle them to my bed, and, when my governess had retired from the room, instead of sleeping I would sit up and read them in the lingering light of the long days until night made the page a blank. But just now I am speaking of the years before I had a governess. A missionary magazine was a Sunday book, and my early Sundays did not know the joy of them.

However, taking one thing with another, those Sundays of the past were not so very dreadful. It is, indeed, open to question whether in essential matters we have greatly improved upon them. Certainly, the inconsistencies of Sabbatarian practice, as I remember them, were no greater than they are now. There was a lady of our acquaintance who had a gift for amateur millinery and a passion for smart bonnets and she once made one under my eye on a Sunday morning. It was understood that she would have imperilled her immortal soul by using needle and cotton, and she did not dream of doing that; she put it together entirely with pins. It took her twice as long, and disturbed the serenity of her mind twice as much, but by getting up early she managed to have it finished by church time, and then to wear it to church with an easy mind. But the same thing would be done—exactly parallel things are done—under my eye to-day, any Sunday of the year.

With regard to the moral practices of week-days, which are but those of Sunday carried over, either there were fewer subtle insincerities amongst the good people of the last generation or I have a keener eye for those which I see around me now. I remember that my elders of the fifties were much addicted to whist, and that a small money stake was necessary to the dignity of their game. They remained sober, friendly, gentlemanly, uncorrupted, allowing for the exceptions to every rule. Nowadays I play a round game with a family party, and one person will not touch a prize in the shape of a coin, but change the coin into "goods" and conscience is immediately satisfied. A clergyman once intimately associated with my household loved whist, but never played cards on principle; he got over the difficulty by sitting behind someone who did, and directing the latter's play with zeal. These are little instances.

At any rate the religious faith of the fifties as to which we were all children, young and old alike, it had one precious quality that it seems never likely to have again—it sufficed. Such as it was, we were satisfied with it. It made for peace and a contented mind. To be sure, we had heard of the "Tracts," and of a terrible bishop called Colenso; we ourselves learned Keble's hymns, with Mrs Alexander's, on Sundays; but we were happily undiscerning of the significance of these portents. They were no concern of ours. We no more expected them to have practical developments than he had expected an Indian Mutiny to result from a little fuss over greased cartridges. The Church of the Fifties, as an educational agent, is more despised to-day than any other institution of that date, but the old-fashioned parson had no spiritual worries to keep him awake o' nights and wear him out before his time; no more had we. Is it not possible that the despisers would give almost anything to be able to say the same?



The last time that I saw my old good grandfather, to whose old-time home M.G. and Mr B. drove me that July afternoon, was on a Sunday. It was just before we left T—— for D——, where we were living when he died. By the same token I remember the night of the event, when we sat in the music-room with servants (taking care of us in the absence of our parents at his bedside), and how the girls made our flesh creep by telling how Rover had howled and death-watches had ticked in the walls, and winding-sheets had formed on the candles—"sure signs," every one; and how, being so wrought up, we shrieked at a sudden explosion in the fire, which ejected some little glowing shard that they declared to be a coffin—on the top of all the other gruesome portents. It was a blowy October night and we talked in firelight, as befitted the ghostly circumstances. I huddled up to my elder brother on the sofa by the hearth, in mortal dread of the dark drawing-room outside, the darker stairs, the awful attics, that must sooner or later be faced. But I do not recall any governess present, and I think we shared the fear of solitude amongst us and kept well together until morning.

As I said, the last time I saw the old man was on a Sunday—probably our last Sunday at T——.

Our district boasted its peculiarity in having

"A parish without a church,
A church without a steeple,
A steeple without a church,
A parish without people"—

all under the jurisdiction of our rector, Canon W., and the church without a steeple, that took turns with the church of H—— in providing our Sunday services, stood at the gate of the park-like home field surrounding the grandfather's house. I think it was mostly in the afternoons that we attended it, and it was our custom to go and come through that little park instead of by the road, and to call on him by the way. These visits were our Sunday treat. There was a warm, luxurious atmosphere inside that house—which I was on the way to be entertained in for the first time since then; there was also a motherly housekeeper and an unfailing supply of cakes and sweets. We were regaled on these, inspected and catechised by the patriarch, and sent rejoicing on our way. Other families of grandchildren passed the same saluting point at about the same time, often melting into and mingling with ours before the armchair was reached (and these were the last times that M.G., my present hostess, and I had had cousinly intercourse together). His sons, farmers like himself, but none of them inheriting his force of character, lived within a walk of him, and each household looked to his for dower of various kinds. Every week he had a sheep killed to be distributed amongst them. Mutton was a sacred thing with him. Killed at a certain age—four years, I think—at the climax of condition; hung a stated number of days, according to the season, it was always a dish, if of his providing, "fit to set before a gentleman." The meat-safe of his own establishment was hung, to my eyes, quite in the clouds. It was sent up with running ropes, as a flag to a masthead, to the top of a tall tree, where the contents ripened in pure air above the range of flies (and I stood under that tree again and told his great-grandson's wife about it, his great-great-grandson holding my hand and looking up at it with me). He left a comfortable fortune to his five children, of whom my father was the youngest; and the sons quarrelled over their shares and flung the property into Chancery—where it is still if it is anywhere. Certainly it never came out again.

Well, I stood by his winged chair on a Sunday afternoon, and he looked at me with his watery and red-rimmed old eyes, set in a still fine old face that is as distinct to me as ever; then he drew me between his knees, laid his hands on my head, and formally and solemnly blessed me. The oddness of the incident impressed it indelibly on my mind. We had always been great friends, and it was our last parting. I suppose he knew it, although I did not.

I was fortunate in picking up, amongst the family relics, a little memoir of him. It told me more of his life and character than I knew before, and I think it is interesting enough to quote from briefly.

His uncommon name has aristocratic associations, as his descendants have not forgotten, and armorial bearings have been claimed on the strength of it, but as a matter of fact there is no sign of an authentic pedigree behind him. And I think, if there had been, it would be a cheapening of the dignity of his own simple excellence to obtrude it. His whole history presupposes the qualities of manhood essential to the ideal gentleman. As Landor says: "The plain vulgar are not the most vulgar," and it is only stating the proposition another way to say that the plain gentleman is more genuinely a gentleman than the fine gentleman. I know well how, when he rose in the world, he would have treated a suggestion to rake up a coat-of-arms! My father inherited that good taste which abhorred pretentiousness, as he showed in making us say "father" and "mother" at a time when every child above the labouring class said "pa" and "ma," and in refusing to let any one of the ten of us have more than one short Christian name.

He was born—the grandfather—on the 2nd of January 1770, at T——, but in which of the three farmhouses that, with their five labourers' cottages, composed the "parish without a church" (it had one once—in the fourteenth century) I do not know; not, I think, the one that was afterwards my home, as that property belonged to a different estate. All three houses were of a character to preclude the supposition that he sprang from what is figuratively termed the gutter, but the records clearly imply that it was not from a bed of ease. He used to get up early and milk the cows, and then walk to D——, about four miles off, to school. When he was seventeen the chronicle states he "did not leave his home as a runaway" but seeing no chance of advancing himself there, he, with only a small bundle of clothes, made his way to a farm at O——, where "he hired himself as a team-lad to a widow for four pounds a year and his living in the house." It is recorded that he "always spoke of her afterwards as his first friend and helper in the battle of life." From there he went to another Norfolk village, engaging himself again as a farm hand (waggoner); but soon he was a farm steward elsewhere, and soon after that manager of the estate of his father's landlord, one of the beautiful seats of the neighbourhood—which looked more beautiful than ever when I saw it again.

W—— Woods (meeting overhead on the highroad and glorious with rhododendrons in the spring), and W—— Hall, must have a word or two in passing. The splendid old house has been, since the reign of Elizabeth, the only one in W—— which represents the "parish without people" and the "steeple without a church" of the local rhyme; but before that period, when it was the seat of the Coningsbys, there was a village, also a church, where the lonely tower now stands in the park, a hoary head with no body to it. From the Coningsbys the place passed to a certain Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and he profaned the church (which then "ceased to be used for sacred purposes") by turning it into a hay-house and dog-kennel, and "depopulated the town to make the extensive park which still exists." For his sins this wicked squire's "dead corps" (I am quoting Blomefield, writing in 1810) "could for many days find no place of burial, but growing very offensive he was at last conveyed to the church of R——," which was the church at the grandfather's gate already alluded to, "and buried there without any ceremony, and lyeth yet uncovered (if the visitors have not reformed it) with so small a matter as a few paving stones; and indeed no stone memorial was there ever for him, and if it was not for this account it would not have been known that he was buried there."

Certainly there was no visible trace of the unhallowed grave in that burial-ground of my family when I revisited it. The little "church without a steeple" I had always supposed a creation of our day, but it has a fine dog-toothed Norman doorway, and M. told me she could remember when it stood there amid ruins, and remember seeing the chapel built to enclose it. This Norman doorway, like the lovely ivied steeple, is all that speaks of the wicked judge to-day. It belonged to the church of his time. His beautiful home survived his occupation. It passed at his death to the Earls of Warwick through the marriage of his granddaughter; from them, by purchase, to the families of our times. I visited it in childhood, and I wish I could have visited it again.

Here my grandfather, while still in his twenties, administered the estate for the owner, who appears to have held him in high esteem. His first official act, we are told, was to "make the park around the mansion, and to beautify the hedges." He was not only a conspicuously practical agriculturist, but a great lover of natural beauty of the orderly kind; his care of hedges, in particular, would have been his "fad," if the word had been invented. For several years he held his post, "having at the same time a farm of his own at South R——," which was his later and last home. When he was thirty he married a lady from Surrey. My grandmother predeceased him, but I dimly remember her as a gentle and dainty old lady, fastidious in dress, manners and the ordering of her house; or it may be only this tradition of her that I remember—I cannot be sure. Richard Brinsley Sheridan was at their wedding. He is said to have been closely connected, by blood or friendship, with her people.

"Coke of Norfolk" was his friend; I knew that always. The memoir speaks of "great gatherings of agriculturists at Holkham," which he attended as his squire's representative while at W——; but after he was his own man the kindred spirits must have met and mingled, for it was Lord Leicester, I have been told, who gave to my grandfather's place at R—— the flattering nickname of "Little Holkham," which clung to it for many years. They used to compare their respective experiments and the results, and my grandfather would come from these investigations to say (according to the memoir): "We beat him in some things, and he beat us in others."

I read that he (my grandfather) "was the first to make underdraining tiles in the county. The cost to buy them was four guineas per thousand, each tile weighing eighteen pounds, with holes perforated in them, and put down without soles to rest upon; he had as few joints as possible, and did not approve of the herring-bone shape on that account"—whatever that may mean.

"When he came to South R—— they had ague in almost every house from poverty and undrained land. The poor rates were ten shillings in the pound, with a large common and unlimited rights thereon.... He estimated the claying of this common at six pounds per acre. He was seven years at it, winter and summer, not always stopping at harvest time, for in this district a pit fills with water as soon as (and often before) it is finished, not again to be reworked, constant pumping being required. Large quantities of faggots had often to be placed to bear the horses and carts in getting out of the pits. Three hundred and four hundred loads per acre were put on the land. The extent of clay pits was estimated by Mr P. of N——, when apportioning the tithe rent charge, at ten acres.... He made two ears of corn grow where only one had grown before."

Then, in 1822, there was "great depression in agriculture, and he took another farm, almost on his own terms, as tenant, and again clayed and underdrained ... it was said that no tenant-farmer at that time employed so many hands or spent so much on the same quantity of land as he did ... grass was as much cared for as arable." And on a certain field where he "harrowed in oats as a boy, he planted the land twice with fir-trees, twice cut them down and measured them up, and twice sold them." He wrote an essay for the Royal Agricultural Society "On the Rearing and Maintaining of Fences," which was printed in their journal. All his own fences (hedges) were "clipped twice in the year, at a cost of ten shillings per mile." I have seen the men doing it—they seemed always doing it—and those hedges were as smoothly rounded and trim as those of the neatest garden.

"The stitch in time was his motto," says the chronicler. The loss of a rail was replaced directly, or a tile from a building. It was so natural to him that he did not hesitate to point it out on his neighbour's premises, as when he saw a pig without a ring in its nose. A road-scraper was always on the road leading to the house and farmyard, and everyone was expected to use it, or would be reminded to do so, removing dirt on to the grass. All were trained to put farm implements under cover and to fix waggon and cart shafts up by a chain. I can answer for two of his descendants—the remnant of his youngest son's family—that they have inherited this instinct for neatness and order, although in one case circumstances rather hamper its free play. My father himself, like most of the males of my intimate acquaintance, was an untidy man and a bad domestic economist.

Two other marked traits of the grandfather's character are noted by his biographer—a great love of music and a great love of animals. It is mentioned that the guard of the mail-coach always began to play on his bugle when approaching the house, and the tune was "The Old English Gentleman" when passing it. "His kindness to animals was such that he had them often given to him when aged, from its being known that he never sold an old horse, and so they were sure to end their days with him." And "Shortly before his death, he asked for the curtains to be drawn aside that he might have a last look at the scene of his old labours, and he said, 'There are my sheep, pretty creatures!'"

It is evident that in his later life he was a distinguished county man. He was for many years agent for the trustees of large fen properties, and the agencies of some of the most important estates in Norfolk were offered him after he had retired from such duties. When the W—— property, which had been his first charge, was sold again, "The measuring up, the valuation of the timber, and the price to be fixed on the whole estate, was left to his judgment." I have read some of his business letters, and they seemed to me models of what such should be. At Agricultural Society dinners, and other public functions, honour was paid him in complimentary speeches. "You must not consider what Mr C.'s farming is now, with all the improvements that have taken place of late, but as I remember him and his farm years ago, when no one but him clayed land, underdrained, or clipped hedges." And so on. In his eighty-second year he was presented by his friends with his portrait in oils, accompanied by the following address:—

"Dear Sir,—As a testimony of our esteem for the valuable services you have rendered to Agriculture during a residence of upwards of eighty years in the same locality, in converting an unproductive waste into a fertile country, and especially as the originator of the beneficial system of deep underdraining, claying and the management of fences, now generally followed—as a benefactor of the labourer, a kind neighbour and a sincere friend—we respectfully beg to present the accompanying Portrait, painted by Ambrosini Jerome, Esqr., portrait painter to her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, as an Heirloom to your family, with an assurance that they will ever regard it as a noble example of a parent who has raised himself by his science, diligence and integrity from a humble position to affluence and respectability and honour, and with our sincere wishes that you may long live to enjoy the merited reward of an active, useful and well-spent life. We are," etc.

And the names of leading Norfolk are appended.

I saw that portrait, still hanging in its old place, in the dining-room where M. and I had tea with the great-grandson and his family (our coachman, quite at home in the house that had sheltered generations of his family also, had put up his carriage and was enjoying himself in the kitchen), and I noted the same fault that had struck us when it was new—the common fault of painted portraits—a lack of the virile force that gave character to his face even in extreme old age. Otherwise it was a good likeness. He holds the appropriate swath of ripe wheat in one wrinkled hand, the heavy ears supported on the other—a nobler emblem than any Heralds' College could have given him.

The great-grandson did not know, until I (who had just found it out) told him, that the picture was an heirloom and no property of his, he being but the son of a younger granddaughter. He could not tell me how it came to be still in its old place, but I could tell him. It really belongs to America. Years ago—about ten or thereabouts—I had a letter from a cousin who had emigrated to the States in his youth, recalling himself to my memory for the first time since we were children together, meeting at the grandfather's armchair at R—— on Sunday afternoons. I could not quite identify him, but my public position as a writer had supplied him with a clue to me. In this letter, which contained photographs of his home and children and details of his American life, he mentioned that he was now the head of the family and legal owner of the grandfather's portrait. It had come to him since he had emigrated, and he had never gone back, and never expected to go back; but he had an idea that I was going back, and he formally made over the picture to me. He asked me to find it, and take it, and keep it. He seemed to have lost touch and knowledge of his English connections in the course of so many years, but to feel that he had found a tangible, or, at any rate, authentic representative of them in me. If I would accept the treasure, he would be sure that it was in safe keeping—or something to that effect. In writing back to him, I, of course, refused it. I told him I was far less likely to return to England than he was, and that in any case I was not in the "line of succession"; and I heard no more about it. A year or two later I received a newspaper from his family announcing his death; then I had a letter from his son. Did I know where the portrait was? Did I know this and that and the other about the family? I could see that this young American had been nursed on legends of country seats and ancestors of the romantic pattern, that his father in his new country had idealised the old, as I had, and, unlike me, had impressed his unconscious exaggerations upon the imaginations of his children. "I am now the head of the family," wrote the young man, as if we were in the Peerage. I had to reply to him that I did not know where the portrait was, that I did not know anything about the family in England, and that nothing seemed more unlikely than that I ever should.

Now here I was, at the fountain-head of knowledge, and there was the portrait, benignly—too benignly—looking down upon me from the wall.

There, too, was the spot where the old armchair had stood. I, like my American cousin, had remembered the room surrounding it as a spacious apartment, with accommodation for a great deal of massive mahogany furniture; it had dwindled surprisingly. I thought there was a big hall, a wide staircase—and the hall was but the ordinary passage-way, and the stairs steep and cramped and twisty. I could have sworn there was a stone-pillared portico to the front door; it was a brick porch under the creepers. Well, well! It was a sweet old house, even in its reduced condition, and I had a charming time in it. They gave us a delicious tea, strawberries and raspberries (what a strawberry summer that was! I had never had quite as many as I could eat before), with unlimited cream, and thin bread-and-butter, and cakes of melting richness; and I was in the pink of health, when nothing could hurt me. After tea we strolled about the garden, grandfather's own old garden, and the dear little great-great-grandson, who as a memory can hold his own with all the ghosts behind him, ran hither and thither to gather flowers for me until I was loaded up with more than I could carry. Fain would I have had him temper zeal with discretion, but it was useless effort, and his mother would not back me.

Then, in the afterglow of the summer evening, the children were sent to the nursery, our hostess got the keys of the church, and we went across the park-like fields to the road, on the other side of which is the burial-place of the wicked squire who was so "very offensive" in various ways, and of the good old farmer, whose memory is as green as the land he tilled so righteously, his example as fruitful, his honoured name as sweet.

He died on the 9th October 1856, in his eighty-seventh year. "Around him in R—— churchyard," says the memoir, "and near him, lie his old servants, on whose gravestones are recorded their faithfulness and length of service." I saw them all; D., who died before I was born, "after thirty-five years' service"; old C.B., who died the year after his master, after "upwards of fifty years' service"; M.B., the housekeeper who gave us cakes on Sundays, four generations of whose family, daughter following mother, filled the office of nurse in successive households of ours. The many graves of aunts and uncles and cousins (my own parents lie elsewhere) were not half so touching. Old B.'s death was said to have occurred as a direct consequence of his master's; it was the fall of one that broke down the other. B. was rather an arbitrary person, as we children knew him. He ordered us about as if the place was his—practically it was; no one but my grandfather could successfully dispute his authority. But he was wrapped up in us all; the family was his family, as it had been for "upwards of fifty years"; and his master was his king who could do no wrong. My father and grey-headed uncles were summoned to his dying bed—they had not quarrelled then—and he formally blessed them as grandfather had blessed me. "My boys," he murmured, "my boys!" His mumbled last words were, "I brought 'em all up."

It was hard to tear myself from these eloquent memorials, which I was looking upon for the first time, as doubtless it was the last. All around the little graveyard was green country—that lovely English green of velvet grass and noble trees which, after a month of it, was still an ever-fresh rapture to my Australian eyes. "An unproductive waste," it was said to have been, prior to the famous underdraining and claying; could my grandfather have seen it with me, he would have felt satisfied with his work, although not a town, or a railroad, or even a telegraph wire, was in sight.

But there was the little church to revisit yet—another shrine of memory. As I walked up the aisle and looked about me, I saw that in half-a-century the hand of change had scarcely touched it. It was a new church, with the exception of the Norman doorway, when I made its acquaintance as a child taken there by its nurse, and it started with the open benches and stencilled walls that were novelties of fashion then. There they were, the same, to the very pattern and hues of the mural decoration, which showed no sign either of renewal or decay. The armorial shields (to the memory of pious benefactors, doubtless), painted in their proper colours, that made a cornice to the little apse that formed the chancel, were each in its old place, tilted forward at the same angle; I recognised them all. Many a tedious hour had they relieved, as pictures to be studied and puzzled over—the breed of the various heraldic animals, the reasons of their parti-coloured coats and antic attitudes, and so on.

And what a procession of quaint figures passed before me as I stood at the upper end, where we had our family pew, and looked down at the open door through which the dead and gone flocked in! The aged labourers, soaped and oiled, in their clean smock-frocks with the wonderful stitchery on back and front; the neat old women, who unwrapped their church books from their clean pocket-handkerchiefs when service began, and wrapped them up again as soon as it was over; the village dressmaker, who sat just behind us, and whose stylish costumes I used to study through the back of our seat while kneeling on my hassock the reverse way to her—memorable chiefly for puffy white muslin undersleeves that were kept up with elastic which showed when she covered her face with her hands, and had wristbands with black velvet run through the holes in them; the organist at his little instrument near the entrance (it is in another place now, and is not played by turning a handle, as in his time); the inevitable schoolmaster with his indispensable long cane; the servant girls and their swains, the numerous child cousins, etc., etc.—a throng of ghosts. But there was one great and sensational event connected with my early attendances at this church, matching that of the raven in the other, only in this case tragedy instead of comedy; and I was looking at it the whole time, as at a cinematograph reproduction of the living scene.

A young curate (as usual at the unimportant afternoon services) was preaching—how plainly I see him, with his pallid, tawny face and soft black eyes—and suddenly stopped dead and stood still, simply staring at the congregation. "Oh," I thought, staring back at him from my commanding position below, "what news to take home to father and mother, that Mr H. has done this funny thing!" He was recently from India, recruiting delicate health, which was already the anxious care of the ladies of the parish, who sent broths and jellies to his lodgings and coddled him at their homes as often as he would come to them. My mother and M.'s mother were his chief friends, and we children, with whom he had played, were very fond of him. Still it was pure enjoyment to me to see him stop in the middle of his sermon, and to realise that he was not going to finish it. Poor fellow! It was the end of his preaching and of his work. He said, after that long, exciting pause—the words are as unforgettable as Canon W.'s "Bong on to him!"—"I must crave your indulgence, for I can get no further." With that he fell and disappeared. Some men rushed from their seats, dragged him out of the pulpit, and carried him, insensible, from the church; and the congregation broke up and scattered, we hurrying home at a run to tell the news. My mother at once put on her bonnet and went away to nurse him. All the village ladies became his mothers from that day until his death, when the whole parish wept and wailed for him and refused to be comforted. His memory was canonised amongst us. A memoir of him was published by his unknown kindred, containing a steel-engraved portrait (not a bit like him, for it made him fair and fat), and, scattered through the latter pages, allusions to "Mrs H.C." and "Mrs F.C." rendered the book peculiarly precious to two of the bereaved families. The only way that succeeding curates could make themselves tolerable was by confessing freely that they knew themselves unworthy to fill his place. I remember Mr R., his immediate successor, standing in our dining-room (it was his first visit as our pastor) and avowing, with dramatic earnestness, that the latchet of Mr H.'s shoes he was not worthy to unloose. He became a very dear friend, however, Mr R. He was a jolly, hearty, healthy fellow, splendid to play with, with no sadness and no conspicuous saintliness about him.

We locked the door of the little haunted place, and walked back over the now dewy grass to the house, to deliver the key and say good-bye to our entertainers. Mr B. was ready for us, and drove us home through the lovely woods of W——, which owed some of their loveliness to the old man in his grave behind us, and along new ways that yet were as old and familiar and thick with ghosts as the roads we had come by in the afternoon. The whole dear land was a dream of peace in the long July twilight.



It was not a house or church, or wood or field, here or there, that swarmed with reminiscences of my life half-a-century ago; every bit of Norfolk soil that I passed over or looked upon was thick with history of the old times. I had been so sure that the March of Progress, which in the same period had made a highly modern nation out of nothing on the other side of the world, would have swept away the wild-blooming hedgerows, the divisions of the little fields, the rutty, grassy, tree-shaded lanes, the old fashions, generally, of my native county; and I could hardly believe in the luck which had spared so much that the little taken was scarcely missed. Some thirty years ago an Australian friend of mine made a long-desired pilgrimage to the home and graves of the Brontës, and blessed his fate in having chanced upon the last day before the church at Haworth, as Charlotte and Emily had used it, was closed for restoration. I was just too late for Crosby Hall, and the house of the H. family near T—— was gone; otherwise I had no disappointments in my search for the ancient landmarks. But that England was so beautifully well kept (and perhaps it was so then, although I did not notice it), it was the same England that I had left, and no part so unchanged as the part of Norfolk I returned to, which I called my own.

Driving about with M., I lived my old outdoor life again, as if there had been no break in it.

That there was any outdoor life at all in those benighted times I have heard questioned and denied in various ways by our athletic offspring. "Oh, what did people do before there were tennis and croquet and golf?" Contemporary writers are fond of drawing comparisons—I have done it myself—between the lady of old, with her prunella shoes and her swoons and her genteel incapability, and the stalwart, active, efficient damsel who now fills her place; wholly, of course, to the advantage of the latter. But, looking back, and trying to be strictly fair all round, I am not sure that the women of the fifties were so much less sensible (according to their lesser lights) than their descendants of to-day. It must be remembered that they could not be more sensible than fashion permitted, and that we are just as craven slaves to that impersonal tyrant as they were. I am sure that if fashion were suddenly to forbid tennis and croquet and golf and the rest, those invigorating pursuits would be abandoned to-morrow. You will say that our enlightened views upon physical culture would remain, to operate in other directions; and one must admit that in the fifties physical culture was unknown. There was no sanitation, no philosophy of food, no anything. Yet folks lived, and to a good old age too. They had one thing that we have not—the tranquil mind—than which there is no better foundation on which to build bodily health. We do not want their tranquil mind—certainly not—but that is beside the question.

In the fifties, although golf and tennis were not games for the multitude, bowls and cricket were as dear to the bewhiskered public as now to the clean-shaven or moustached; and women had their lawn diversions for the hours they considered enough to give to them, the balance of their active exercise being put into housework and "duties" generally. There was a primitive sort of lacrosse that we were addicted to, and archery, which was a graceful and quite scientific game. We had a small armoury of bows and arrows, bought cheap at the sale of the furniture of a neighbouring great house, and gave social entertainments on the strength of it while we lived at D——. Women with good figures showed to great advantage before the target, and eye and hand had to be as well trained for the bull's-eye as for the hoop or hole. It is true that archery was for the privileged well-to-do; an archery meeting usually had the background of a green and well-kept park. This rather disqualifies it for the purposes of comparison with our modern outdoor games. But those who did not have it did not miss it. There were nutting and blackberrying and mushrooming and May-daying—plenty of simple merrymakings—within reach of all.

On May mornings—oh, I wish I could have had an English May once more!—we were up with the birds and out in the fields to hunt for the first hawthorn bloom. It was one of the settled customs of the family, if not of the community. Often the morning was terribly cold, mostly the grass was reeking wet, but still the expedition was looked forward to with joy and carried through in the highest spirits. Blackthorn it was, if we found it at all, but it was not our fault if we did not return with some trophy of green bud or white flower to lay upon the breakfast-table. Later in the morning the village girls came round with their May garlands. A structure of crossed hoops of wood thickly wreathed with evergreens and artificial flowers, with a doll in the middle and any procurable odds and ends of ribbon, tinsel, or other finery, hung about it, fairly describes the sort of thing. Two girls carried it between them on a pole, and it was covered from view under a cloth until presented at your house door; the cloth was then whipped off, you gazed admiringly and, if generously disposed, or there were not too many of them, dropped a copper into an expectant hand or bag.

At any rate it was quite understood to be the right thing to take the air. We children were sent out in all weathers for our daily walk. I vividly remember crying with the cold, again and again, as I trudged along the snowy roads and through the bitter winds of those hard winters that used to be. Yet it was a wholesome practice, and we were wisely safeguarded against its risks, except in the matter of headgear, the close fit of which made our ears tender so that we suffered horribly from ear-ache, a malady unknown to the open-hatted head. On how many a night we wailed in sleep, or sobbed in our mother's arms by the fireside, with a roasted onion and a hot flannel pressed to the pain which they could not alleviate; and nobody knew the reason why.

When we went out in snow-time we wore snow-boots. They were woolly and waterproof, very thick, and were laced or buttoned over our other boots. For wet weather we had clogs—wooden soles with leather toe-caps and ankle-straps; the soles were cut with supports like the arched piers of a bridge, that lifted them an inch or two from the ground. Our elders, and especially the working women, used pattens—wooden soles again, but raised upon an iron frame and ring, and with one fixed strap which took the foot at the instep when it was thrust through. One could not imagine the rural housewife and her maids flushing their brick floors and wading through the "muck" of their farmyards without their pattens on, nor imagine another contrivance that would have answered the purpose better. Cheap, durable, put on and off in a moment, and needing no attention, they were most convenient to the wearers, and their effectiveness in keeping the feet dry and petticoats undrabbled must have made for health and cleanliness. Yet I suppose there are no clogs and pattens nowadays—I saw none; and, if so, it seems rather a pity. Things that have been improved upon ought to go, but why abandon those that still remain desirable? What is there to take the place of clogs and pattens in usefulness to the class which once wore them? Not goloshes, surely.

They were not the only sensible footgear of these days either. When the eldest aunt visited us she used to bring our supply of nursery shoes, in which five children scampering about the floors made less noise than one does now. Those shoes were woven of narrow strips of cloth in a flat basket pattern, sole and upper in one, like deerskin moccasins, and as soft; some old man in her village made them to the eldest aunt's order. But it may be that he was the sole manufacturer, whose art died with him, for I never saw their like elsewhere.

We drove as well as walked abroad. Ladies with carriages used them regularly of an afternoon, having paced their garden terraces—skirts held well above the hems of their snowy petticoats—earlier in the day. Mother and I had many outings together in the gig; either to L——, to do shopping, or to her father's house at twice the distance away. And she did not attempt to drive with one hand and hold up an umbrella with the other; indeed, she could not have done it, for the "gig-umbrella"—green cotton with a bulbous yellow handle—took a man's arm to support it. When it rained she drew a mackintosh hood from the box that was the gig seat and tied it over her bonnet, shutting everything in with a drawing-string round the face; there was also a curtain to it for the protection of neck and shoulders. Now, was not that a sensible idea? But we never wear on wet journeys a mackintosh hood or something better than a mackintosh hood, even in the dark when there is nobody to see us.

For driving in the sun she had another device. That father called it her "ugly" indicates that it was for comfort rather than adornment; yet I do not see why it particularly deserved that name, comparing it with the many things we wore—and wear—that cannot be termed beautiful. A length of soft silk, blue, green or brown, equal to the circumference of the bonnet-brim, was run through with three or four flexible ribs, cane or whalebone or steel springs. The ends of silk and ribs were drawn together and strings sewn to them; and when the article was put on it made a sun-shield for the eyes like a window-awning. I had a little one too. It clasped my little bonnet with a spring; and side by side we drove through the summer glare, sitting at ease with hands free, under a shelter better than that of the mushroom hat of a few years later. If, as I hold, the first principle of beauty is suitability, the "ugly" was not ugly, and it deserved to live. How much it might have added to the pleasure of my long Bush journeys, and detracted from the fatigue!

The memory of those drives with my mother is amongst the sweetest of my youth. I was a very little child then, yet we were perfect companions. All the way there and back we talked and talked, and never bored each other. I never knew her to "shut me up" or put me off with evasive or impatient answers. Once when she was ill and we were all bothering her at once, she exclaimed, "Oh, who would be a mother!" The words not only cut me to the heart as I heard them, but I never forgot they had been spoken; nor did she, and I do not think she forgave herself for them. It was the only instance I remember of her complaining under her burdens, which were so heavy for her strength, and especially of the cares of motherhood. Even the youngest aunt used to liken her to the fabled pelican that fed its young with its own blood. She had no life that was not lived for others, and first of all for us.

No doubt she was over-soft of heart where her darlings were concerned. For instance when we went shopping to L—— we always lunched at a certain pastrycook's, in a little alcove off the shop, and on the ground that it was a holiday outing I was given my choice from the bill of fare. Mother did earnestly advise me to begin with a savoury, as she did, but there was no compulsion in the matter, and I think I made my whole meal of sweet pastry every time. What delicious three-cornered tarts those were!

And, a year ago, I was in L——, and I looked for that pastrycook's shop—and found it!

But the intellectual pleasures of the road rivalled the material joys of the restaurant. She used to tell me stories of the places we passed, grown-up stories, and not the faked stuff that children are so commonly befooled with. I always knew at the time that I could trust every word she said, and when I grew up I never had to learn that she had deceived me. Even our frequent babies were not found under gooseberry bushes or brought in the doctor's pocket; that "God sent them," and that I should "know more about it some day" was her account of the phenomenon—puzzling, of course, but less so than the monstrous and conflicting statements of monthly nurse and servants. When the eighth (there being two more still to follow) was on the way, I was privately informed beforehand. "Our secret," mother called it; and while she made its earthly garments under my eye, we spent blissful hours building air-castles for its habitation, in the strictest confidence.

On our way to her father's house we passed a dark, still pool, sunk within precipitous walls of earth that looked as if they might have been those of an excavated quarry—a most fascinating spot. The Bride's Pool, it was called. Once upon a time, she told me, a bride and bridegroom were driving from church after their wedding and a great storm came on. The horses took fright at the thunder and lightning, and backed the carriage off the road and over the bank into the water-hole, and the bridal pair were drowned. The details of the tragedy lived in my mind for ever—how they loved each other, how their new home was waiting for them and they never entered it, how they were fished up together, clasped tight in each other's arms. Then there was the Heath (M. drove me to the edge of it, behind her own old fat pony), the furzy, lonely, wind-swept waste where the rabbits lived, a shuddery place that we liked to be well past before dark. For there was a time when a gibbet stood there, and skeleton men hung on it in an iron frame that creaked and clanked in the windy nights. She did not mind harrowing my infant soul with fore-knowledge of the world's agonies, and I do not know that she was wrong. It must have been an extreme devotion to my good that caused her to leave me behind with my grandparents and return the long way alone, as she often did.

If I was spoiled at home I was doubly spoiled with them. Even the stern grandfather gave me his gold seals and his historic snuff-box to play with. There was a wondrous scent, compounded of pot-pourri (in the room with the cabinets of china), lavender (in the linen press and drawers), heliotrope (beneath the windows), and something sweeter but indescribable (in grandmother's store-room), which differentiated that house from every other that I have known. I longed to see it again when I was actually on the road to it, but we were not out with Mr B. and his strong horse this time, and M.'s pony was too old and too petted to toddle any farther than the edge of the Heath.

To this day the smell of "cherry-pie," one element only, reminds me of the place and nothing else. It was a sweet place indeed when the youngest aunt was away from it—the eldest aunt mothered motherless cousins elsewhere—and I am happy now to have been there, if I was not quite happy at the time. I ought to have been happy, with such petting and such surroundings, but I do remember that I was homesick. The beautiful lawn, sloping from the house to the road, ended on the top of a stone wall, and I was told not to stray so far, lest I should tumble over; but secretly I strayed there often, to look along the road for a gig and a white horse. That was the great day—when mother arrived to fetch me home.

Dear old home, that to all appearances had not changed a bit! Dear old barn, with its warm, mealy, delicious odours, and its statuesque owl on the dark rafter overhead—outwardly the same as ever. Why, here again we had no end of invigorating sport and active exercise. Hard work was done there and few amusements were more amusing than to watch it a-doing, sitting well out of the way on an upturned "skep" or a pile of empty sacks. I have seen men using the flail on wheat and barley like bush fire-fighters beating out flames; and I have seen a sort of windlass thing with horses turning spokes and a man and whip in the middle, operating outside the barn a simple mechanism within, the first improvement upon the flail; but I also remember, even at T——, the hum of the tall-chimneyed travelling engine that performed all its duty in the fields, herald of the modern method, so wonderful and admirable, yet apparently so devoid of attraction for a child. There was rat-catching in that barn—the most fascinating of amusements. Little girls managed to slip in with little boys when friendly servants summoned them to the fray. A professional rat-catcher attended. Oh, the thrilling moment when he unslung the box from his back and allowed us to look at his ferrets, writhing together in the straw like eels. And when his assistants, with their sticks and dogs, were marshalled at their posts, and the sinuous, sleek bodies were sent down the holes, the breathless waiting for smothered squeaks below, for the dramatic bolt of rats into the open—poor things whose point of view was no more considered than was that of table fowls and calves (the former used to be killed horribly by having knives thrust down their throats, being then left to hang head downwards and bleed until life was drained out of them; and the latter were bled to death also, although not with such monstrous cruelty, the object in both cases being to have flesh white for table; and we, so tender-hearted for our pets, could watch the callous executioner and the long agony he inflicted)—I do not know a more enjoyable sport for those who have not developed the idea that dumb things feel as we do. At other times the owls in the barn roof hunted the rats and mice. I have seen their eyes in the dark, and the ghostly passing of their uncanny wings that make no sound. When the barn was empty what a place for games and romps!

Then we had the great Fair of the county, an event to which we looked forward, as we also looked back, for the whole year. The "Mart," with its entrancing canvas galleries full of tops, work-boxes, every beautiful thing that heart of childhood could desire, its peepshows and merry-go-rounds, its Richardson's marionettes, its Wombwell's menagerie—the thought of it must bring a glow to the heart of any Norfolk native who knew it when I did. All right-minded parents took their offspring to the Mart, if it was physically possible to take them, and I am clear in my mind (though I was afraid to inquire when I was there) that nothing to compare with it exists in England to-day. The fair itself may exist, for what I know (its charter was granted by Henry the Eighth), but if it does it will be but the gibbering shade of its former self, lagging superfluous; for its human complement has for ever passed away. I have heard my parents say that their parents went to it to buy those silk dresses and those china tea-services which were family treasures and heirlooms from generation to generation. We went to it for dolls and Noah's Arks and tin trumpets and wooden tea-things, driving home with armfuls of delight through many miles of snow or biting wind, cuddled down in our wraps within the hood of the "sociable." The Mart was "proclaimed" on the Tuesday following St Valentine's Day, and continued for, I think, three weeks afterwards.

Well, then came May Day and the garlands; Easter celebrated by the wearing for the first time of our new spring Sunday clothes—white bonnets to be quite correct; the "haysel" which meant warm days for romps in the fragrant cocks; the seaside—greatest bliss of all.

Summer, with its long light, its apparently few resources for killing time, did not weary us, that I remember. In the summer holidays, when we lived at D——, my brothers used to sit on a river bank and watch the floats of their fishing lines from dawn to dusk, often without getting a bite, and did not consider the day wasted. Little females had their dolls to take a-walking, their hoops and skipping-ropes, and battledore and shuttlecock, their dumb pets to rear, their little garden plots to weed and till. Their elders were satisfied to sit under trees when work was done, with needle or pipe or book—for we did have books. A little amusement seemed to go such a long, long way.

Then autumn—harvesting, blackberrying....

I do not know how I acquired the idea that I should find the old blackberry hedges, the sweet masses of hawthorn and dog-rose and bindweed and nightshade and all those old hedgy things, swept away by the hand of the progressive agriculturist, but such had been my belief long before my return home. In the second chapter of my book of Australian reminiscences I now read with a blush my ignorant lament over "beauty vanishing from the world" in the shape of sailing ships, the Pink Terraces of New Zealand, and the big bird-thronged hedges of rural England. I suppose I reckoned on the methods of high farming being much the same in all countries, without allowing for the good taste and reverent conservatism of English landlords. The hedges were all there still, more beautiful to me than ever, and I went blackberrying with a basket, just as I had done as a child.

Harvesting—I saw it again on the old lands. I was in the midst of it, reminded at every turn of the old times. But there were no children playing amongst the shocks and stacks, no reapers with sickles, or gleaners filling their turned-up skirts with the scatterings left behind; the mechanical reaper gathered every straw. And there was no Harvest Home. The village churches all had their Harvest Festivals, exactly like ours in Australia; but the procession of the Last Waggon through the golden fields, the Harvest Supper—they are gone with the piquant Valentine and the jovial Waits, to return no more.

I looked at the barn, where we used to celebrate the arrival of the Last Load. I looked at the coach-house—neither of them altered in the least, that I could see—where the memorable banquets had taken place. I used to go to them, under my father's wing; at any rate, I must have gone to one, for nothing is clearer to the eye of memory than the picture of the rustic faces around the festive table. Husbands in clean smock-frocks and wives in their Sunday best, no sociological knowledge in their heads, no divine discontent in their souls, to impair their enjoyment of "the master's" hospitality. Unlimited home-brewed was dispensed to them with the roast beef and plum pudding, but I remember no rowdiness in consequence; only clouds of smoke, a succession of highly proper songs, and vociferous applause of the performers. It was etiquette for all to "favour the company" who could, and each singer seemed to have his own one song, listened to by his fellows with unwearied interest and appreciation year after year. As regularly as harvest and harvest supper came round, we had "the highten days o' June" from the oldest throat that could pipe a quavering note:

"In the highten days o' June
Napoleon did advance——"

That is all I remember of his song, the first line of which originally ran: "On the eighteenth day of June." My father had his "Simon the Cellarer," or what not, to contribute to the programme, and smoked his pipe and drank his beer with his men, and appeared to enjoy himself as much as they did.

Now, in the interest of good-fellowship and good cheer, we have the Harvest Festival, from which the agricultural labourer is conspicuously absent, as a rule.

However, the inevitable is the inevitable. The past is past. As all the conditions of that old time hung together, together they had to go. And there is still a Future for the unborn to experiment in.

Harvest Home having been celebrated, the "master" was free to make holiday with horse and gun, and my father was ever eager—too eager—to do so. Weather that was right for hunting was a matter of more joyful satisfaction to him than weather that was right for crops. All thought of crops was thrown to the autumn winds as soon as "the season" opened.

Those old roads of Norfolk were to me haunted with hounds and red coats, echoing with the music of the pack and the horn. I asked Mr B., as he was driving me from D—— to my cousin's house, how hunting stood in the old hunting county now. He shook his head mournfully. According to him, although he was still a young man, the heydey again was gone, never to return.

He had it in his blood, like me, from the dead and gone, and so we were more or less prejudiced. But it would seem clear to the understanding of the most unbiassed person that the sport must have been more interesting in the old times, if only for the reason that hunting men did not wedge in hunting with a dozen other diversions, often in half-a-dozen different places; they gave their hearts and the season to it, falling back upon a little placid subsidiary shooting (over dogs) on off days. There were fewer railways and miscellaneous lions in the path of the straight run; there were more foxes, "stout" in proportion to the healthy peacefulness of their bringing up. Townsfolk did not "run down" in crowds to a country meet—they could not; the uninitiated outsider who did intrude where he was not wanted accepted the stern discipline of the field as part of the natural order. Farmers were similarly old-fashioned, and in easier circumstances; they were insiders moreover, although few of them aspired to the red coat—as fine riders and steady-going sportsmen as their landlords. They bred hunters and took puppies to walk, and farmed land so that it was not too fine to be galloped over. And barbed wire had not been invented.

Let me hasten to say, however, that I, personally, do not regret the inevitable change. In spite of my feelings on those haunted Norfolk roads, and my talk with Mr B., my heart does not sympathise with mourners over the decadence of the old sport. The beginnings of the heresy that the morals of "sport" in this form are open to doubt—that animals, after all, have some poor rights—seem to be welcome signs of progress on the true line of civilisation. Heresies of to-day have a fashion of changing into orthodox beliefs to-morrow, and this heresy is bound to follow the rule. Hunting that is not for food or in self-defence is like war—a relic of the savage state, surviving only because its nobler attendant features, its refined conventions, traditions and associations disguise the savagery.

I have seen an exhausted fox making a last spurt for his life, brush down, tongue out, coat wet, eyes wild with despair; and I am glad to think that, after all these years, it is possible for the human heart to feel a stir of pity for him. It felt none then. My gentle mother, who had followed the hounds herself in days of better health and fewer babies, loved to pack her little brood into a phaeton and drive them to some likely spot for seeing something of that brutally unfair contest between an army of giants and one little scrap of heroic life. I vividly remember an occasion when the horse in the shafts happened to be an old hunter of her own, supposed to have outlived his enthusiasm. At the first sound of the distant chase he propped as if shot, with pricked ears and snorting nostrils, and then bounded at a closed gate, with the intent to go over it, phaeton and children and all. It took a good horsewoman to deal with that situation, and she managed to prevent trouble by hastily detaching him from the carriage and hanging on to him until the hunt had passed.

After that Taffy took us on these expeditions. How perfectly I recall a still, soft day, a quiet road intersecting deep woods—a road dark in summer with the leafage of overarching trees—the phaeton with the white pony drawn up under the hedge, the mellow hunting cry of the pack sounding nearer and nearer, the speckle of red coats appearing and disappearing through the skeleton copse, the excitement, the rapture, the triumph—and a poor little drabbled fox struggling to evade his fate. He broke from the further hedge, crossed the road, and entered the hedge beside us almost under Taffy's nose—one of the most sensational incidents of a hunting season that I can remember falling to the lot of us non-combatants. Dead beat he was, his heart bursting, his limbs scarce able to carry him; yet even tender-hearted women and children had no feeling for him in his lonely fight against the forces of the universe, no chivalrous impulse to befriend him in his extremity. A pair of horsemen crashed through the opposite hedge into the road—Lord S. had lost his cap, and his hair was wild about his head—and they reined up to speak to us. To their excited "Where? Where?" we shouted "There! There!" and pointed them after the fugitive. And if he fell into the jaws of the hounds at last I am sure we congratulated ourselves on having helped to put him there.

I passed the very spot that afternoon, and it was just the same; only now it rained, and the trees were in full leaf, and there was no fox, nor hound, nor horse.

The dignified figure in the Hunt is, of course, the last-named animal. He never sees the quarry, probably, or knows there is one, or cares. It is not the lust of chasing and killing that inspires him to his gallant deeds—neither in fox-hunting nor in war. Watch a soldier's horse in the evolutions of a review. A colonel of my acquaintance has told me that the moment the band of the regiment begins to play he feels his charger's heart bound against his boot; so it is the music of the pack, telling of glorious effort and exercise, which fires the blood of the hunting horse that only hunts by proxy. The "scent of battle" is the scent of the old primitive life in free air and space, the "Call of the Wild" to the still half-tamed.

Horses were a passion in my family on both sides of the house. As a girl I have had my maternal grandfather named to me by strangers as "the doctor who drove the beautiful horses." His were not the requirements of the hunting man; he demanded the perfect form and action, the satin coat, the faultless turn-out. He was a very tall, high-nosed, stern-looking man, strikingly resembling the Iron Duke, and I used to see him come out to inspect the work of his groom before starting to ride or drive. He would not say a word, but would take his handkerchief to wipe some infinitesimal speck, visible to his eagle eye alone, and show the resultant stain to the guilty man; it covered him with confusion and dismay.

This martinet handled the reins himself, except at night, when other and less valuable animals were used—"Nightmare" was the name of one of them—until the state of his health obliged him to go abroad in a closed carriage. He hated this, and the necessity for giving his horses over to a hired coachman; and he was always putting his head out of window into the cold winds and fogs, that were so bad for him, forcibly to reprimand that much-to-be-pitied man. One raw winter day the grandfather's short patience gave out; he mounted the box himself and drove the empty brougham home, regardless of consequences, which proved fatal to him. He caught pneumonia or something of that sort, and died in a few days.

As I may not be speaking of him again, I should like to say that, haughty old man as he was, taking the high hand with patients of all grades, he was most attentive to the poor, and never took a fee from them. The tradition is that he never sent an account for attendance to anyone—would not condescend to it (having traditions of his own behind him, along with a pedigree stretching back to the mists of prehistoric time)—but that's as may be; he certainly left a very comfortable fortune, which, like that of the other grandfather, never reached the legatees. A son with whom he had been over-strict had run away from home many years before, and never afterwards been heard of. It was deemed impossible to fulfil the direction of the will to divide the property between the testator's children until the missing one was produced, or irrefragable proof of his death. Through all the period between my childhood and womanhood the newspapers of the world were calling through their agony columns for one or the other, and in vain. It was reported at intervals that his grave had been found, in New Zealand or Kamstchatka, or some equally remote corner of the earth; or that someone had met somebody who knew him or where he was; at which times the lawyers were put upon the trail to hunt the matter down. Each of the producible children had her separate batch of lawyers, and Chancery took charge of the steadily dwindling estate. Many years elapsed before the missing one was officially assumed to be dead, and the dregs of their patrimony allotted to his sisters; and then the portion that would have been ours was gone. How well I understand now little incidents that were devoid of meaning to me when they occurred: mother, in tears, confiding to a bosom friend: "'Do you sign this of your own free will?' he asked me before us both, and what could I say?" Poor mother; who struggled for us so hard! And the Married Woman's Property Act is of very little use to wives like her, who still cling to the old ideals of family life.

So we were always tantalised with "expectations" that never materialised in cash. We children, as we developed the faculty for romancing, beguiled ourselves with a special one of our own. Some day, in some dramatic manner, the vanished uncle—lost long, long before we were born—was to reappear, with his pockets full of gold, to play godfather to his impoverished relatives. We were always looking out for him. A strange step on the gravel, an unexpected knock at the door would instantly suggest to us that the psychological moment had arrived. But no one could ever have been lost more thoroughly than that poor boy, who ran away at night because his father had been too hard on him. From that day to this;—covering something like three-quarters of a century—he has made no sign.

If my grandfather's love of horses caused his death, the working of the same passion in my father's weaker nature was rather more unfortunate. He sacrificed to it and its kindred fascinations the important interests of his life, including those he held in trust for his wife and children. I do not say it to blame him, who was so kind-hearted and well-meaning; he was as he was made—happy-go-lucky, careless, thoughtless, sanguine, a boy to the last—and it was bad for such an one to have the illusion of "money coming to him" to encourage and excuse folly. In the fifties he was not a poor man, but he was too poor for the company he kept, too poor to afford to neglect business and indulge in the expensive pastimes of those who had none. But if he could be at M—— with the beloved "Harry" V., who was so generous with mounts, he would not be at home with uninteresting ploughmen. Norfolk folk who are my contemporaries will not need to have that "Harry" more fully named to them, especially when I add that I heard him spoken of as "The Old Squire" all over the western part of the country, although he had been dead so long. M—— House, his once hospitable home, was quite close to my cousin's Abbey, and, although my father had been there so much, it was the first time I had seen it. I walked around the walls and grounds that were so familiar to him, but did not attempt to enter, the family being in residence. Since my return to Australia I have learned from a mutual friend that they remember his name and the old companionship; so I might have been, and regret that I was not, less modest. The old squire and the golden age of fox-hunting in Norfolk, it seems, passed together, and the one is said to be as likely to return as the other.

But a rather probable reason for this seems to lie in the fact that Norfolk has become such an extensive game preserve. Passing the old estates, whose old owners wore the pink as a winter livery, I noted the little colonies of coops by the gamekeepers' cottages. At Sandringham I saw pheasants sauntering about the royal domain like domestic poultry, and caught the gleam of their bronzy plumage again and again in the twilight of the thick woods. Evidently they are brought up in the lap of luxury as well as in swarms, and are too precious to be scared and scattered by trampling hosts of horses and hounds.

Times have changed for the one sport as for the other. And, thinking of the difference, I am drawn to the conclusion (though it is not for me to have opinions, I know) that the shooting season cannot be to the common run of sportsmen what it used to be to their fathers. They may shoot better, and at more birds—they do, and so they ought—and for rich men, as one can understand, the old system is not comparable to the new; but the sport was more genuinely sport—was it not, my fellow-fogies of sporting blood?—and it must have had more charm for the many, if not for the few, than is the case now. When the stubble was left for partridges, and not ploughed up as soon as cut, and the fields and plantations lay quiet, through all that golden month which I believe is virtually useless to the scientific gunner to-day—when the autumn was still young and lovely and the red leaves on the trees—that must have been a pleasanter surrounding for the sportsman who was a lover of nature than murky skies and naked woods. To have the companionship of dogs, such as dogs used to be, cleverer than the masters with whom they were in such perfect sympathy and partnership—as a dog lover I cannot understand how men can have bettered sport by leaving them out of it. To wander at will over field and along hedgerow, with the muzzle-loader of the period over shoulder, the sufficient game-bag on hip, powder and shot in pocket, and the trusty scout ahead, undisturbed by steam-ploughs or the fear of fluttering preserves, no restriction whatever upon one's liberty and inclinations; this must have been as good a form of recreation as the drilled sharpshooting of to-day, although it may not have been as good business.

At any rate, my father loved it—at such times as he could not be following the hounds.

And so the winter came on, and the whist parties of an evening; and presently the exciting preparations for Christmas. Then Christmas itself—the holly, the mistletoe, the resplendent tree, the feasts and dances and miscellaneous merrymakings. The old year passed with these cheerful obsequies; the birth of the new year was celebrated in loving family conclave and with chimes from the village belfry (we could not have midnight services in a church with no lighting apparatus); another year of the same uneventfulness, which yet was to be as full of interest as ever.



I have been looking over a batch of new magazines, and the heading of a paper in one of them gives a sentence borrowed from a letter of Thomas Bailey Aldrich to William Dean Howells, which I will borrow again for an opening to this chapter: "I've a theory that every author while living has a projection of himself, a sort of eidolon, that goes about in near and distant places and makes friends and enemies for him out of folk who never knew him in the flesh. When the author dies this phantom fades away ... then the dead writer lives only in the impression made by his literature." Having written this down and looked at it, I feel that it is not so profound a saying as I thought. The first proposition is as obvious as can be; your eidolon is in the pages of your book, and the more directly you speak to your affinity the more quickly he responds (and he cannot respond effectively unless you are there to know it); the second seems to pass over the fact that when these spirit friendships materialise they become as other friendships, independent of literature or any outside thing. What I set out to show, by my quotation, was that the friends my eidolon had made for me in England outnumbered the friends of corporeal origin, and that some of them gave me my happiest English days. I flew to their arms as naturally and fearlessly as if I had lived with them in the flesh for as many years as we had otherwise known each other, and when I am dead I shall not be a dead author to them, but a dead woman. Alas! the phantom fades away in any event.

This I have found to be the prime joy of authorship—the knowledge that, when you are projecting yourself into your book, although nobody around you may know or care what you are talking about, you are still bound to reach some who will perfectly understand. You are speaking to your unknown kindred in the near and distant places; if you do not know it at the time—but you do know it—the proof comes later in the letters of some of them, who tell you they have been impelled to write. Precious recognition! And letters are so eloquent between the lines that you rarely make mistakes about them. They tell you that the wireless message has got "home" to where it belongs—or otherwise.

At the beginning of this century I published a volume of personal reminiscences, entitled "Thirty Years in Australia." Coincident with the conversion of the colony of Victoria into a state of the new Commonwealth, the thirtieth year of my sojourn within her borders was completed in 1900, and it seemed a good time to say something of what in our young country we call the "old days," the "good old times," the old pioneer colonial life of which the records are so few at home and the ignorance abroad so vast. Although, when I come to think of it, I believe it was merely as a rest from novel-writing that I started upon the work. I gossiped through the casual chapters—drivelled, some may say, much as I am doing now—with no idea that the completed book would be other than a trifling by-product (my London agent agreeing with this view), of little interest to readers outside Australia. But behold! Of the score or more of "works" to which I must plead guilty, this one has brought me more happiness than all the others put together, on each of which the profit in love has been more considerable than the profit in money. Old friends of the seventies, long passed from sight and knowledge although not from mind, recognised themselves in the guarded initials of their names, and they or their widowed partners or their children wrote to tell me where they were, to recall past companionships, to urgently beg and hospitably plan for a renewal of them. And thus came delightful reunions, mendings of gaps, comparing of experiences, comradeships for old age such as can never be for those who have not spent some of their youth together.

But far beyond the number of these were the friends not made by accident but by the design of Nature, although the accident of the book discovered them—friends altogether unknown until it found them for me in the near and distant places—also to be lost no more.

Away in Ireland lived a retired colonel of Hussars, who one day took it from the shelves of his local library. He did not fancy the title—Australia was not a name to conjure with in the British Isles, British though she was—but, after turning a few leaves, he thought it might serve for an idle hour. He read it aloud to his wife after dinner, and when he had finished it he wrote to me. It was the beginning of a correspondence which, by the time I started for England, gave me the hope of seeing them as one of the joys before me. And when I arrived their welcoming letter was amongst the first batch to come on board, and notified that he was himself in London, "at my service." As was the case in every situation of this kind, sanguine anticipations were fulfilled, and something left over. Never once was I disappointed in a spirit friend made flesh. I met him first at luncheon in the house of the beloved friend who had set herself to give me the time of my life, and he helped her to do it. I shall not forget the Ascot week of 1908. Certainly I have not much time to remember it in, but if I had a hundred years it would be the same. After we had "done" London—the restaurant dinners and the plays, the pictures, the flip-flap and the Sports' Club at the Franco-British Exhibition, little gaieties of a world I had not known but took to like a duck to water—he planned out my route to Ireland. That would have been the crown of all, but time and money would not stretch to it. Never mind. I still expect to go there some day.

Then away in Boston—Boston in Massachusetts—there lives another dear friend, discovered just as he was. For years we have corresponded intimately, and every line that I write for the press I can regard as a letter to her. She would come to Australia to see me, if she could; the possibility of such an enterprise on the part of a much-engaged wife and mother has been considered; but her promise to meet me in England, should I ever be there, was absolute. One does not allow for the "visitation of God" in making one's engagements, and it was only that which abrogated this one. I heard from her that she had been ready to start, not for London but for my ship at the docks, to be the first to receive me, bringing over a motor for my English use; and illness in her family had stopped her. She begged me to wait for the following spring, but I could not; and so we have not materialised each other yet. If we never do so, we shall love each other to the end. But we are hoping still.

And there were other friends of the eidolon in England and inaccessible, whose letters of welcome awaited me at Gravesend. One of them lived, as she still lives, at that watering-place on the Norfolk coast where I spent happy summers with my family when a child. That is to say, she lives in the new watering-place (not in existence then) which is an offshoot of the one I knew, still an old village, which its modern neighbour was from the first forbidden to touch. The lord of the manor comprising both—he who kept drinking houses and dissenting chapels off his land for so long—had a sense of the fitness of things so fine that it was almost a fad. When he allowed the new watering-place on the cliff where but one solitary house—an inn—had stood in my time, he laid the plan of the town himself and permitted only a beautiful brown stone of the locality to be used for the houses. Now vulgar bricks and jerry-building are creeping in, because his son, the present squire, cannot help it; but the good taste of the founder can stand up against them for a long time to come. It was never the typical fashionable watering-place, and, thanks to him, never can be until his work is swept away.

It is a great place, however, to have grown up in the interval since I walked to it from old H——, with my governess, to inquire at the "New Inn" (old then, and a beautiful house now) whether by chance they had such a things as "Revalenta Arabica," which a doctor or somebody had recommended for our dying baby, and for which we had ransacked the village in vain. I think that was my last sight of "The Green" that now is, which the local guide-book describes as "a standing reminder of the artistic mind that conceived and executed the formation of H——." To the people of this part, they are H—— now, and the ancient village a mile away is Old H——; more often it is insultingly referred to as the Old End; to me the village is H——, and this New H——. Of course this H—— monopolises all the luxuries of civilisation; not only the old "New Inn" (with a new name and enlarged and important), on one side of the Green, but a huge G.E.R. Hotel, with the railway station under it, on the other; a great Town Hall, a grand pier with pavilion at the end of it, a fine stone-balustraded "Sea Walk" above the beach, public gardens, public tennis-courts; a splendid church, with its independent vicar and curate, and (which should surely make the late squire turn in his grave) a Wesleyan Chapel and a "Union" Chapel, the latter evidently some other irregular denomination, since I do not think New H—— has a workhouse yet; besides gas and telephones and all such things.

And so here lived my friend, where she could be quite comfortable. But in the days when she was not a widow, but wife of a rector of the neighbourhood—and before that, as a member of an old Norfolk family (she married into another)—she knew all about the H—— of my day; and when she chanced to read "Thirty Years in Australia," and penetrated my dark allusions to the locality and my unprinted thoughts about it, the kindly notion came into her head to tell me that my old H—— of cherished memory was still there, unchanged. With the divination of a spirit friend she knew just what it would mean to me to know that. Not only did she write to tell me, she sent me a bundle of photographs to prove her words. When I received them, I had no ghost of an idea that I should ever see H—— again with my bodily eyes, and they gushed tears over the little postcard scenes, so full of sad and sweet reminders of vanished hands and days that were no more. I kept them on a table by my Australian bedside, and used to strike matches in the middle of the night and light a candle to look at them once more, and again once more. Little did I foresee the day when I should buy them at their place of origin (fourpence a dozen) for myself!

Of course I wrote to thank her, although I could not find words to thank her adequately; it was the beginning of a correspondence signifying a lasting friendship.

And, amongst the many unexpected things that have happened to me of late was my visit to H—— and to her, just a year ago from this date of writing about it.

For once letters had not revealed the writer; she was not at all the type of woman they had suggested to my mind; nevertheless we suited each other, to use an expressive vulgarism, "down to the ground." In spite of a constitutional objection to strangers and dislike of "company" as such, common to us both, and in spite of marked differences of view upon important points between us, a very short time sufficed to bring us to that state of mutual trust and understanding in which we could say anything we liked to one another. And that is a state that many lifelong friends, the vast majority of them indeed, not to speak of near and dear relations, do not attain to.

But I must not talk here of our private affairs. Nor can I dwell as I would like to dwell upon the domestic aspect of the fortnight we spent together. I can say this much, however, she has the instinct for home-making that is so surprisingly lacking (according to my experience) in nine housewives out of ten. The stupidity of my sex in this important business is one of the perennial annoyances of my life. It is not a question—or in but a very small degree a question—of money. Mrs B. would know how to make a bark hut comfortable, or a fork of the ancestral tree. So would I. I could not have loved her as I do if her house had been disordered and her habits out of drawing; I am sure she must have cared less for me if I had not appreciated the refined simplicity combined with luxurious comfort of her ménage. I do like comfort, and see no reason to apologise for it as for a gross taste and a low. When I go into splendid rooms that are not used, or that have no fire in them on a chilly day, I feel as cross as when I see someone sitting by the open door of a railway carriage when the train moves, without putting out a hand to shut it. When I passed through Mrs B.'s kitchen (at such times as it was convenient to us to return home by way of the back gate), and looked upon M.'s shining range and twinkling dish-covers, the clear, dustless fire, the bright rug on the spotless floor, the cheerful red tablecloth, and her little tea, as dainty as ours, set out—that to me was a beautiful room, surpassing the saloons of palaces.

Our days were ordered perfectly, for real, downright comfort, when that was all that needed to be considered, as was then the case with Mrs B. and me. She knew intuitively that I would like my tea at half-past six better than at seven or later—as she did herself—and brought it to me then in her own hands, which had prepared the delicious tray. This was to strike the keynote of the harmonious hours. Having refreshed myself I had an hour or two of reverie in my soft bed, my brain cleared to brightness by the tea, the freshness of the summer morning about me. It was the only house except my own in which I had ever found it possible to do a bit of professional work, and it was in that peaceful interval between tea and bath that ideas for it were born and shaped themselves. At eleven the pony-carriage came round. She is a fine whip, but never used the implement on her own pony, a half Arab, wholly aristocratic animal, not quite in his first youth; he and she were on the footing of mother and son, with a complete understanding between them. Just to keep him in his place she would pretend to draw the whip from its socket occasionally, and although he had no eyes in the back of his head it was enough to recall him to zealous duty. He nuzzled in her coat pockets for sugar, and he knew her voice when he could not see her, whinnying wildly from his stall at the livery stables, where she sometimes visited him. Almost daily he arrived to take us out, always in a fresh direction, always over country that I had known and loved and never hoped to see again, until I began to forget I had ever left it.

At one o'clock we returned—I ravenously hungry—to the ever-perfect meal. Thereafter more or less subdued and somnolent we repaired to the drawing-room and two seductive resting-places therein; one was a remarkably comfortable long sofa, the other a remarkably comfortable deep easy-chair, and each of us took one, and it did not matter which. The day's newspapers lay at hand, and our respective work-bags, but we frankly allowed ourselves to drop asleep, which was perhaps the most profitable occupation for a pair of grandmothers at that period of the day, although one I was not accustomed to indulge in. At half-past four came M., with the tea-table, her transparent bread-and-butter, her memorable cakes and hot cakes, her jug of freshest cream, the boiling kettle and the caddy. And after such a tea as that, it was well that the next item of the programme was a walk, to prepare us for the equally appealing little dinner to be engaged in at eight.

It was in these walks that I drew nearest to the ghosts of the old days that thronged the place. Some obscure spinal delicacy prevented my hostess from going far on her own feet, although she was so majestically erect and so strong and young to look at; so she would carry book or knitting to a seat upon the Green (a grassy plateau at the top of the cliff, sloping seaward), or to one of the glass-walled shelters, useful Queen's Jubilee Memorials, planted at intervals alongside the cliff path, between the Green and the Lighthouse, and there rest and amuse herself while I wandered as I liked. We were so entirely at ease with each other that no apologies for such casual separations were required.

Naturally I walked away towards the Old End every time. And as soon as the last Jubilee Shelter was behind me I was in the world of my youth, where almost nothing was changed. How many hundreds of times had my feet scampered along that dear cliff path—to come back, after such far wanderings, to find it just the same! Only a track in the sea grass, a little more hollowed out perhaps, a little nearer to the cliff face, which the waves below had nibbled away until there was barely room to get past the lighthouse wall. The same wild scabiouses that we found there in bygone Augusts were blooming, richly purple as the clematis on Mrs B.'s house front, along the cliff edge. Half-a-century was gone like a passing puff of wind as I stooped to gather them. A dozen times I had to stop and wheel to look across the sea so different from every other sea; and in the evening fight, especially in clear shining after rain, the old "Stump" stood up like a pencil-mark on the far-distant horizon, and I saw again the ravelled threads that meant Skegness on the one hand and "The Deeps" on the other, familiar as the nose on my own face. This cliff path used to be the beat of our old friends, the coastguardsmen, who paced it solemnly day and night, with their telescopes under their arms. I saw no coastguard now, or I must have accosted him, and asked him to let me peep through his glass, for old sake's sake. He used to go on one knee and steady the instrument on his shoulder, and we used to stand behind him to gaze and exclaim.

Down below lay the great green-haired boulders, the tumbled rocks of the hard conglomerate that outlasted the superimposed strata of the rainbow-cake-like cliff, where doubtless the contraband cask or case found—or but for him would have found—temporary storage in the good old times; but I did not go down, because now the trippers pervaded the beach (leaving to the residents their more aristocratic terraces and Green), and the squalid litter of their picnics defiled the place. Half-a-century ago it was our happy hunting ground, and almost all our own. Here we plied bucket and spade from morn to eve; gathered marvellous treasures from the clear wells and pools between the rocks, ammonites out of the grey marl, "thunderbolts" out of the red chalk; chased crabs and shrimps and little fishes, built forts and castles, sailed boats and nursed dolls, and so on and so on; busy and happy the livelong day. At this point we were caught by the tide one day, and had to sit on a rock ledge till it uncovered the way home. In that archipelago of boulder-islands my foot once slipped into a crevice and was crushed, and the landlady of our lodgings rubbed salt into the bleeding wounds because, she said, that was the way to prevent mortification. Every flat stone, all up and down the beach, was eloquent of mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals, when mother or nurse came down to us with loaded basket to stay our little stomachs between breakfast and dinner and dinner and high tea. Oh, how magnificently hungry we were in those days! And what digestions we had!

The first old landmark that I came to after leaving New H—— behind me was the ruin of St Edmund's Chapel. A little fragment of a building that looks, almost as primitive as the cliff supporting it, I should think it could be carted away in a day by a couple of labourers who set their minds to the job; yet there it stood, not a stone displaced, that I could see, since I had played about it as a child. King Edmund the Martyr, say the old chroniclers, built the hermitage of which this is all remaining to commemorate the spot where he landed and to make himself a private study in which to learn the whole Book of Psalms by heart. Think of the hundreds of years of its history, back of the fifty of mine! I used not to think of it, but I thought of it a great deal when I stood on the hallowed ground again.

Then came the lighthouse—still the old lighthouse to the best of my recollection, but with a Marconi installation and a few cottages and their families added to it. And once it seemed to stand away in a field, and now it is so near to the cliff edge that there is scarcely room to get past the wall. The wall may be breached at any moment, and it will not be long after that before they will have to rebuild the tower.

I leaned over that low wall and looked into the enclosure. The men were having a game of cricket—such a natural thing to see where one sees a group of official Englishmen doing as they like in their off time (they were playing cricket at Aden and at Suez, regardless of the sweltering heat). When these lighthouse men, coming and going in their game, glanced towards me, watching them, it struck me as such a strange thing that they did not know who I was. I felt almost as if I had more right to be there than they. But when I totted up the years of my absence and the years of the oldest man amongst them, I knew I could be nothing to him but a stranger and an outsider, even as any other summer visitor out for a walk along the cliff. Yet how I longed to beckon him to the wall and ask him if he remembered the old times!

Beyond the lighthouse the cliff fell away gradually to a gradually diminishing sand-bank—as, of course, it had always done; and, descending the sloping path, I saw below me my old village, my own old beach, untouched by the hand of "improvement" which had been so busy near by. No, not quite untouched; the old village inn and coaching-house (when we first frequented the place there was no railway, and we coached the fifteen miles from L——) was now "The Golf Links Hotel," enlarged and modernised, and it had absorbed into its new grounds an old lane between hedges, along which we used to go and come, and which I had desired to perambulate again; but neither the hotel nor the links obtruded into the picture, which was substantially the same as I had known and remembered it. The bathing-machines had been moved from their former prominent position, and they had been a great feature. Every morning a couple of them rolled us into the water, where the bathing-woman was sometimes cruelly employed to dip us under, and haul us out again; and a picture of a little brother squatted naked on the roof of one of them, whither he had leaped from the wheel to evade her, and whence he refused to budge for any threats or blandishments, was plain before me when I looked for the machines where they used to be.

But this was the real thing—this was the old place, sacred to the old times. Once more I waded through heavy sand, that sifted into my boots, as we did before New H——, with its greens and esplanades and Jubilee Shelters, was dreamed of; I had to look about before I could find a clump of sea-grass on which to rest after my walk, while I surveyed and meditated upon the scene.

As was the case with other haunts of childhood and youth revisited, the actual place was not half the size nor of half the importance that I had supposed. To think that this little patch of beach and sandbank, with one occasional sail-boat (old Sam's Rose in June), a few donkeys and four or five bathing-machines for all its furnishing, should have been such a dream of romance, such a memory of joy, for more than half-a-century! But there was no doubt about it, and less than ever now. All the year round, in those old years, from late summer to early summer, I used to be counting days to "the seaside" again; and the rapture of each first evening when, the coach having dropped us at our lodgings, and our tea having been unpacked and eaten, we trooped to the beach (buying our spades and buckets at the post office on the way), to make sure that the sea was there before we went to bed—I could not outlive it in a thousand years. If ever I was happy in this mortal life, I was happy here, although I did break my heart over the corpse of a baby brother and have salt rubbed into a cut foot—also a governess in attendance and lesson-books, at times. But not the governess, fortunately; otherwise old H—— would not have called me back like this.

The tide was in, peacefully lapping the smooth shore. When it went out it went a long way, uncovering many acres of fine ribbed sand, strewn over with sea jewels; and great dark patches, that were mussel beds, the treasure ground of all. What multi-coloured sea-anemones we found there! And how hard it was to remember that the returning tide, with its unseen flank movements, would assuredly drown us if in our absorption we lost count of time! And away there, also hidden under the silver sheet, lay the mysterious buried forest—post-glacial trees with their black trunks and limbs intact, in one of which a stone axe was found sticking, just as the Stone Age man had left it. There were, I had been told, ebon gateposts, dug from this submerged woodland, on farm lands of the neighbourhood, and fragments came into our possession, fashioned into brooches and bracelets, as presents from local friends. I used not to consider the significance of these things. Now I read the buried forest into the pedigree of my native country, the splendour of which is lost upon those who stay at home.

When I was rested and had gazed my fill, I rose and turned to the right, up the low bank, towards the village—to find our old camping-places, if they existed still. I ought to have gone through a wicket at the top of the bank, through the narrow, high-hedged lane, past the windows of the old coaching inn, through which Honor W. used to lean and chat with the casual wayfarer and her father's guests. Where is that pleasant-voiced, happy-faced daughter of the old inn now? Does she sit somewhere, in cap and spectacles, darning socks for her grandchildren, amongst those who never realise that she was once young and handsome? I gave her memory greeting, while I turned my head from her transformed home. Just here I found myself rather alien and astray, but only for a few steps.

For there, across the road, were the coastguard quarters, as surely their old selves as I was. And no feature of the place could have appealed to me more eloquently, if only because in one of them the antiseptic surgery I have spoken of was practised on my foot. That was in a summer when all of the few regular lodging-places had been bespoken ahead of us, and we could only get in by the desperate expedient of subsidising the coastguard. Three of the little dwellings divided the family amongst them, the largest available parlour being the rendezvous for meals. I slept with two sisters in a four-post bed with blue-and-white-checked curtains, and the dispossessed rightful occupiers used to cross a corner of the room to get to their makeshift couch elsewhere, after we had retired and were supposed to be asleep. We did not like to miss the event of the stealthy passage of our coastguardsman from door to door, creeping in his stockinged feet, shading his candle with his hand, on such nights as he was off duty.

One of his brother officials was a clever worker in jet, amber and cornelian, found on the coast; his jewel-trays, prepared for summer visitors, held ornaments that were an ever-recurring joy to inspect and finger, especially if we could buy something—a cross or heart or string of beads for the neck, or a "faith-hope-and-charity" to add to one's bunch of charms. Another and particularly dear coastguardsman employed his genius and leisure for years upon a large model of a battleship of the period. It was the glory of his spotless parlour, which it quite monopolised. He said he was going to present it to the boy Prince of Wales—afterwards Edward our King. Crowns and palaces would be as naught to him, we were sure, when he found himself in possession of this wonder of the world. And did he ever?

Wandering on, I came to the cobbled courtyard, closed with a wide door at night, in the recesses of which we kept house through another summer. The very cobbles were there still! And farther on, the terrace of larger houses—the houses, snapped up by the early birds—where we sojourned for the summer of several years, and where the little brother died. Dear little golden-head! Dolls were nowhere in the season when he reigned. It was the end of the summer, through which his sunny beauty had been the admiration of the beach and the adoration of his family, that he was snatched from us. The terrace reminded me of one forgotten shadow upon the shining picture of the Past—the black day when father and mother drove away with the little coffin in a closed carriage, to lay him with his baby forerunners in the churchyard at H——, leaving us behind with our governess in a paradise despoiled. Miss W. it was, father's favourite, she of the Rowland's Kalydor-and-ink affair. And, by the way, I remember that, soon after our return home that year, I went to L—— with her, and accompanied her when she paid a call on the lady principal of the school where she had been educated, who had recommended her to us. This lady had an imposing presence—I can see her now—in dark blue poplin or black moire antique, adorned with a collar of choice lace. She and Miss W. were brightly chatting together, when I interposed with the great and solemn news that I had been bursting to impart: "Our baby is dead." I think I expected her to collapse under the shock, but the shock was mine. She glanced at me casually, then turned to Miss W. with a laugh. "Well," said she, "it's one less for you to be bothered with." And Miss W. laughed back as she replied that, yes, it was. Oh, no doubt she was a cat, the pretty and amiable Miss W. And the lady principal, a wife and mother, was just the sort to have had the training of her.

I did not get as far as the old church on these occasions, when I rambled alone between tea and dinner. The pony carriage took me there, when we drove about for two hours between breakfast and luncheon, and through the beautiful old park, that even now was so proudly exclusive that the public might pass through the gates on but one day of the week. But I had not forgotten the tombs of the old family—fourteenth and fifteenth and sixteenth century monuments—and its great home, where it had dwelt since William the Conqueror, when the Norman founder took a Saxon lady to wife. Never, from that day to this, has the line of descent been broken, or the lord of that line been dispossessed of these lands. The charters that gave them are still in the muniment-room of the Hall, and Mrs B. showed me an enclosed copse, a dark piece of wild woodland, which she said was Saxon land that had never been touched since a Saxon kingdom owned it. The key was a sacred heirloom of the family, and one of the articles of the family creed was that no feet should enter there except its own. The whole history of England had passed it by—this one bit, probably the only bit in all England, of virgin Saxon territory!

O England! England! How wonderful she is!



I had a day of days before I left H——.

It was the 17th August, and the weather the very best that England could do. Roses were still plentiful in the beautifully kept English gardens—Dorothy Perkins painted herself on the landscape far and near—and mauve and purple clematis foamed over tawny house walls in delicious contrast of colour, with as little reserve as in our more ardently wooing air. A favourite ribbon-work of the little dark blue campanula was noticeable everywhere, bordering flower-beds and window-boxes; it was as positive as the blue pencil-marks of the Customs on my travelling baggage, and these oddly remind me of it. Withal a hint of autumn, gentle and gracious, mellowed the summer scene—a red rowan-tree in one fine country garden; that splendid burning-bush, the Virginian sumach, in another; above all—the sweetest "note" to me—the little wild, incomparable harebell, the English harebell, thick in the grass of the roadsides. And the corn was ripe and ready, the hand-cut lane cleared for the reaping-machine around nearly all the fields.

Well, on this perfect morning Mrs B. escorted me to the livery stables where her pony was boarded out. A more notable fact in connection with them was that the elderly proprietor was once the young son of an elderly proprietor of stables in old H——, whence we derived the donkeys and the donkey chaises of bygone times. She took me to see him on the very day of my arrival, that we might indulge in mutual reminiscences of the Golden Age. Now he had a great establishment, many horses and fine carriages glittering in their modern elegance, and his sons in their turn were the acting directors of the business—smart men in well-cut riding breeches, to whom a donkey would be as amusing a little animal as it is to me.

Amongst the many excellent vehicles of the firm, to which satin-skinned teams were being harnessed, a large brake was out for an excursion to a famous show place of the county. I was going with it, and going "on my own," Mrs B.'s back not being strong enough for the expedition. Usually I do not enjoy what we call pleasures all alone by myself, but for once I was able to make a happy day without the aid of a companion.

The seat of honour beside the coachman was reserved for me. He sat high in the air on his folded overcoat, and, becushioned and berugged, with a stool for my feet, I snuggled under his elbow, comfort personified. A fine man he was, with a fine old weather-toughened English face, and he was a fine whip; I knew it as soon as I saw him gather his four-in-hand together, and an Australian bushwoman of my experience is a fair judge. He was not a garrulous person, but ready with his information when I wanted it, and I could not have wished for a more congenial Jehu. He confided to me his opinion of the motor that was "bouncing us off the road," his mournful view of a future when the horse should be no more. It occurred to me that the next generation will find C.'s livery stables dealing only with motors and chauffeurs, and Mr H. had the air of a man who would hope to be in his grave before he could see it. Certainly there was much need of the horn that brayed a notice of our coming at the approach of every turning. English roads and village streets are so narrow that at times our great drag seemed to fill them from side to side; only an experience of London traffic enabled me to believe it possible that another vehicle could pass us; and the corners were so masked by the hedges that one could not see around them. Mrs B. and I, trundling about in her pony-carriage of a morning, had many sudden encounters with goggle-eyed drivers who did not trouble to toot a warning that they were near. Fortunately, her high-born pony treated the mushroom automobile with contempt.

But, oh, those English roads! And the joy of that twelve-mile drive behind that spanking team! We passed over the route by which our stage-coach of old brought us to and from old H—— before the railroad from L—— was made, and I could lean back in my comfortable seat and dream of the dear Past to my heart's content. Mr H., while keeping me conscious that I was in his good care, only spoke when he was spoken to; on the other side of me were a lady and her daughter, who confined their low-voiced conversation to themselves. There may have been, in the seats behind, a dozen persons more, who did not in the least disturb me.

We threaded five lovely villages, with much horn-blowing and twisting and turning, before we came to royal Sandringham, which I had already seen, but not on this side of it; every house and church and garden and green and pond and tree was a picture, to raise in my mind the unceasing question: "Why did I never know that England was like this?" I had not forgotten, I had simply never known it. No English person can ever know it so long as he stays at home. The callousness of the native, who was used to it, to the beauty of his dwelling-place, the value of his privileges, was a continual surprise to me, although I knew the reason for it. To be as the King at Sandringham, without the suggestion of an unfinished or imperfect detail in the whole scheme of one's domestic life, would be to have too oppressively much of a good thing, but I felt as if I would give my ears to live in one of his tenants' cottages.

By the way, even royal Sandringham had its message from the Past for me. I had known the place in childhood, and had my memories of the family from whom it was acquired; but I had always understood that Edward VII. had "rebuilt" the old mansion, which implied that he had first pulled it down. Instead of that, I found it had been built on to, which is quite a different thing. There it was, at the end of the immensely long facade, and, to my thinking, the most beautiful although the least ornate part of it. The photographers are not of the same opinion, for, having so much to get into a picture, they cut off what they consider can be spared at that end, never at the other; so it was a complete surprise to me to find the old house standing, and I had great difficulty in getting a photograph of the royal residence which took it in. But I did not cease from the search until I found one.

Lest I should seem to be sailing under false colours as a royal guest or otherwise privileged person, let me explain that I paid my visit to Sandringham as a cheap tripper on the occasion of the Cottage Flower Show of the estate. This was the day of the year—and in that favoured summer it was a day of unsurpassable weather, the 22nd of July—when the most generous of kings permitted any number of his humble subjects to overrun his domain right up to the house walls. The blinds were down—that was all, and the very least that could be done, in the way of decent reserve—but there was nothing save one's own sense of propriety to prevent one from flattening ones nose against the window-glass and trying to see around the edges. Policemen were there, of course, quantities of them, I daresay; but they drifted about as if they had no interest in the proceedings except to render themselves as inconspicuous as possible. Never once did I find one exercising his profession, and it was evident that they had their orders not to do so, except in the last extremity. Surely if anybody knew how to do the graceful thing gracefully, it was that consummate gentleman, Edward VII. And the miscellaneous crowd to whose honour he trusted justified his courtesy and confidence in them; they strolled about, free and easy, as if the place belonged to them, but not the smallest unauthorised liberty was taken with it, that I could see.

It was very striking, the sort of tribal, patriarchal sentiment, the almost family feeling, prevailing all over this estate and as far as the royal landlord's influence as such extended. Here the man behind the monarch was known as probably he could not be elsewhere in his own dominions or in the world—here, where he was in the special sense at home, and where he could be himself in freedom. Behind his back it was easy to gather the facts of the situation. There was no servile, old-world awe in the enormous and adoring respect paid to their great squire by those who "lived under" him; in their evidently boundless affection there was not a scrap of fear. When the milk gave out in the refreshment tents, because the fine day had brought more tea-drinkers than were expected, messengers ran to the Queen's dairy, as naturally as they would have run home if home had been as near, for more; and the little incident was typical. As a cheap tripper I gained an interesting experience and some valuable knowledge which as a privileged guest I must have missed. Also—in the retrospect—a delightful memory.

At the time, there was a disadvantage attached to the position which almost spoiled my day. The excursion train started early in the morning and returned late in the evening, giving us the whole day "out," and I was not strong enough to stand all that. I knew just how it would be, but I had not seen the time-table when I committed myself to the expedition by inviting a niece-in-law to accompany me. Otherwise I should not have come. And so now I am very thankful that I did invite her. As I said to her, when I tumbled, half dead, out of the train at D—— (cutting off what I could of the return journey, half of which she had still to make), "I'm glad I've done it—now that it is over."

It was all right, the getting there. The drive from Wolferton Station was full of joy, the beautiful modern woodland road not withholding glimpses of the wild heath of my young days, that was wild heath still, splashed with pinky-purple heather delightfully blending with dark fir wood and tawny sand. The tented meadows, and the sweet gardens beyond them, the views of the great house from this side and that, the glorious trees, the glorious grass, the glorious sunshine which Australia could not beat—as long as I escaped with my life to tell the tale—or, rather, to remember the feast of loveliness that it was—it is absurd to talk of what it cost me.

I do not grudge anything. I did not then; at any rate I knew I was not going to. But the fact remains that by one o'clock (with no train till after seven) I was dead beat.

For the sake of my young companion I "stuck it out" as long as possible. We went to a restaurant tent and had a good lunch. That put into me a certain amount of spurious vitality, sufficient to carry me along for half-an-hour more. Then I sat on a bench in front of the house, while she flitted up and down terrace steps and explored nooks and corners, my eye of the chaperon keeping her in sight. Then I made a great effort and we went to the Flower Show proper. I dragged myself up and down the fragrant alley-ways and looked at everything, and made appreciative remarks to the exhibitors, who, I am able to testify, did themselves and the estate credit. Then the heat and crush in the tents overpowered me and I had to get outside in haste.

Sinking upon a bench in the grateful air I said to my niece: "My dear, do you happen to see amongst all these people anyone you know?" She did. Almost as I spoke she spied a friend. It was a man alone, but fortunately an elderly man, yet not too old to be agreeable to her; married, the father of a family, a connection of her own by marriage; quite safe. So I turned her over to him that she might continue to enjoy herself, and they seemed both obliged to me. "Meet me at the church at four," said I (there was to be an organ recital at that hour). "Meanwhile I will just sit and rest."

And here—if I may be forgiven by my gracious host for mentioning it—I seemed to find out one little weak spot in his scheme of perfection. There were seats in plenty scattered over the broad acres of lawn. They were built around the trunks of many of the splendid trees, and they were excellently made of gnarled and twisted wood, and they were sylvanly picturesque; but I cannot allow that they were quite "right"—what one may term legitimately artistic. Because the essential principle of true art is that a thing shall be frankly what it professes to be, and these pretty rustic benches professed to be resting-places, and there was no rest in them. I tried one after another, until I must have gone the round of them all, in search of a niche for my tired back where a hard elbow would not poke into it, and there simply wasn't one. I could not afford to be thought too intoxicated to sit or stand, or I must have slipped down and laid my manifold aches upon the soft grass; so in despair I crawled to the church, where the seats, however hard, would not be knobby; and there for an hour or two, before it was crowded to suffocation for the organ recital, I sat by the open door to endure my fatigue. As I was never so long without the relief of a recumbent or reclining attitude since a carriage accident in 1877, when I was young and comparatively strong, gave me a permanent weak back, I was never so painfully tired in all my life. When the organ recital was over I made for the road where the vehicles were assembling for train time—still a long way off—and chartered a comfortable old landau, not only to take us to the station, but for use as a sofa in the meantime. I climbed in, leaned back luxuriously, put up my feet, and was in terrestrial heaven. It was hard to make my coachman believe that, far from being in a hurry to start, I wanted to stay where I was to the last moment, and he was too zealous in spite of me; but for an hour I reposed happily, and could have done so for two or three more, watching the break-up of the festival—the exhibitors stacking their country carts, carrying off their loaded baskets, exchanging their felicitations before they scattered for their homes. Physically I enjoyed myself more than I had done all day.

But now I take no count of cost. I congratulate myself that I was forced to pay it. May I be a cheap tripper and go through it all again, if I can make the same profit in material for the imagination. As I write, my mind is suffused with the golden beauty of that day. It basks again in such English sunshine as an old Australian could not credit without seeing it; it revels in those summer woods, with their peeps of purple heathland, their pheasants tranquilly meandering in and out amongst the rhododendrons. In those miles of shaven lawn, like a continuous carpet, with their ornamentation of single trees and clumps, their dells and rockeries and lake and pretty nooks, all so flawless; in the delightful garden beds and bowers, that are still so simply English, flowering hardily in the open air; in the various aspects of the richly featured house, which is yet no more than an English country house, as comfort-breathing, cheerful and homely as one's own. The little headstone (to a dog) under the windows; the pergola in the kitchen garden; York Cottage on its sunny slope; the charming rectory, its French windows open to the view of its ideal surroundings; the baby's grave in mother earth under the wall of the family church, the pathetic family memorials within—above all, that plate let into one end of the family pew, which I could not bear to see anyone look at who was not a "mother dear," bereaved of her grown son, like me—each and all are the picture gallery of Memory, that blessed haunt of the soul in the aging years. And not so much as a sketch-book scrawl of a weary woman seeking rest on knobbly rustic seats in vain.

However, in this chapter I set out to tell the tale of another adventure. And now it was August, and I was several-weeks-of-England stronger than I had been that day at Sandringham. And all I saw of the royal seat I saw from the public road—and I think we went over a part of the new road that a month earlier had been a-making—the road necessitated by the destruction of the famous avenue in a gale, the removal of the screen of trees leaving the house too much exposed to the passer-by along the original highway. The King had been obliged to set his boundaries further out to preserve his privacy, and he had taken in the old road; at that time he was building miles of wall outside of it, and the Norwich gates were in pieces on the ground; by this time they will be set in the new wall, and another landmark of the old times be gone. It was the best that he could do, since even a king cannot set a fallen avenue up again. Workmen were very busy round about, and it was odd to see the King's name, like that of any other Norfolk farmer, on the drays and carts that carried material to and fro. He was "running down" frequently, we learned, to inspect the works, as well as some improvements going on in the off-season at the house itself, like any other domestic person whose heart is in his home.

As we passed the raw opening which displayed the royal residence in its temporary nakedness, Mr H. checked his horses to give his excursionists a view; it was one of the advertised features of the trip. Then we swept on through the remainder of the lovely villages—Dersingham, Wolferton (it is no use pretending to maintain anonymity here, since the mention of Sandringham, for which a mere "S——" would not serve, gives me away)—to the Black Horse Inn at Castle Rising, which was the goal of our journey so far as he was concerned.

I remembered the Black Horse, as I remembered the great castle—eagerly looked for on each of those stage-coach drives of the fifties—and I felt glad that I had no companion when I set out to explore the latter for absolutely the first time. "Oh, if we could only go close to it! Oh, if we could only go into it!" we children used to sigh, as we were hurried through the most romantic piece of our known world, our eyes upon the mighty keep that held such store of history; and never had that wish been gratified till now.

I went first into the inn ("hotel" is not to be thought of as applying to these English villages), to brush up a little after my drive and inquire about luncheon arrangements. I found it was not the old Black Horse but a descendant of the same name; however, it was a pleasant little hostelry, blending not too crudely with its venerable surroundings. A maid informed me that the rural table d'hôte would not be ready for half-an-hour, so I set off to get a preliminary peep at the great "lion" of those parts.

A short walk brought me to the wicket entrance, where an old man admitted me to the once sternly guarded fortress. And once more I found myself overwhelmed with a reality beyond all anticipations. The great castle was far, far greater than I had supposed.

The antiquaries seem agreed that the earthworks are of Roman origin; their plan is still quite plain to trace—nearly circular, with jutting squares to east and west; and to think of that, as one stands on the very embankments, looking down into the very ditch, so wide and deep that one looks on the tops of trees that have grown huge and hoary in the bottom of it, is to think of something that rather takes away one's breath. The British who appropriated the ready-made entrenchments, and the Normans who ousted them, seem, for once, but mushroom peoples.

But the castle within the ancient ramparts——! I am afraid to begin to tell how it affected me, seeing it at last, after all these years.

Its human interest to me in childhood was almost exclusively connected with a royal prisoner once immured there. In my earliest reading days Miss Strickland's "Queens of England" was my favourite history book—romance all through, made alive and convincing by the fascinating steel-engraved portraits of the ladies in their habits as they lived; and Miss Strickland said—so did everybody at that time—that Queen Isabella, widow of Edward the Second, was for her sins shut up in Rising Castle by Edward the Third, there to linger in captivity for twenty-seven years, until merciful death released her. I never passed under the great keep without gazing up at the few holes in the wall to wonder which was the window through which her wild eyes of despair looked in vain for rescue to the road we travelled. Now that story has gone the way of so many old stories. Isabella, it seems, had not much to complain of beyond banishment from Court to a residence in a dull neighbourhood. She paid visits to her friends from time to time, to relieve the monotony, and she died quite comfortably in another part of the country, in a castle of her own. But no single figure is needed to create human interest for a dwelling-place of the age of this one.

In the reign of William Rufus it was that the castle was built by one William d'Albini—just about the time when a brother knight of Normandy "took up his selection" at old H——, on which his descendants have sat continuously to this present day. Doubtless William and his neighbour had the equivalent of a pipe and glass together many a time, and inspected the works in company—these works which were to stand for a thousand years! Whether both gentlemen married ladies of the land I know not, but a Cecily (which sounds Saxonish) of William's line and name in the thirteenth century took the castle and manor of Rising into the family of Lord Montalt, her husband, where they remained for a good while. Then it appears to have become royal property, as witness Queen Isabella consigned thereto by her son.

The Black Prince and Richard the Second are mentioned as owners, if not occupiers, and it is said that King Richard exchanged it with the Duke of Brittany for the castle of Brest. In the spacious days of great Elizabeth it was the Dukes of Norfolk who were in possession, off and on. Since then it has seemed to belong to Howards—sometimes one branch, sometimes another—and it belongs to Howards now. What volumes of history are written between the lines of this brief pedigree!

I went over the bridge and through the Norman gatehouse. I looked about at the magnificence within, crossed the greensward and turned the corner to the entrance door. I walked in and up the great staircase of stone to the splendid archway under which the dead people passed to their great hall, now roofless and ruined. I surveyed the vaulted stone room with the Norman windows that was once its vestibule (and at the last a caretaker's lodging); opened a little door in a corner which disclosed a stony shaft round which a stony newel stairway corkscrewed up and up to narrow stony passages and chambers and long arcaded galleries tunnelled in the thickness of the walls—the steps so worn away by the many centuries of use that one could not keep foothold on them without the hand-rope on the wall, the dimensions so circumscribed that one thought of the burrows in the Egyptian Pyramids. Then I considered that further exploration would impair the pleasure of an extended rummage at leisure in the afternoon; also that luncheon would now be ready. And I returned through the village to the Black Horse.

Looking about I found the salle-à-manger, chill, and empty of life. A long table was set for a meal, but was still without food and without company. Further investigation brought me to a garden beside the house where stood a few small tables, at one of which two ladies—mother and daughter who had shared the box seat of the drag with me—were taking a light luncheon in peace and privacy. They were having eggs and salad and bread-and-butter and tea, with green grass under their feet and the sweet air and sunshine round them; and at once I perceived that this was the sort of thing, and not the table d'hôte, for me. I took a table at a distance from them, but, no waitress forthcoming, I went across to ask them how they had obtained their provisions, which resulted in our joining forces and having a pleasant meal together. No one else came to the garden, except the maid who served us, and we chatted together as do callers at the same house on an At Home day, finding themselves isolated for the moment on contiguous chairs. One thing leading to another, it transpired that the young lady, who wore fine diamonds on her engagement finger, was going to be married in five weeks. A chance allusion to my own circumstances evoked the further information that her intended husband was a Melbourne man! That is to say, Melbourne was his birthplace and the place of business of his firm for which he acted as London manager. They mentioned his name and I knew it well. I see it in large letters on a factory wall every time I pass over the railway between the city and my home, and now I never see it without thinking of her. By this time if all went right she will have been married a long time. I hope she is well and happy.

I resumed my explorations of the castle, where I had several chance encounters with my friends of the inn garden on break-neck stairs and in stony corridors where there was scarce space for us to pass each other, while still wandering in the solitude I desired, companioned only by my thoughts. It was a memorable afternoon. I had never before been in such close touch with the people of the past, makers of the History of England which is the lay bible of the British race. The very chambers they slept in and where they were born and died; the same floors and walls and stone-ribbed ceilings, the same outlook from the same windows and loopholes over heath and marsh to distant sea and the dim line of the coast of Lincolnshire; the Chapel of their penances and dispensations, where they dedicated the swords of slaughter; the Hall where they brawled and feasted, the dark holes at blind ends of the stony labyrinth, which silently witnessed to unthinkable dark deeds. If I had been better acquainted with old castles than I was, I might have been less impressed by these things and the reflections they evoked. As it was, the whole place seemed so thronged with ghosts that I felt as if I had not room to move amongst them.

And yet I learned from a little talk with those who knew, that a caretaker—a lady "custodian," moreover—had kept house and home in the very middle of it all, up to a quite recent date. How could she? Her bedroom was the "Queen's Room" where Isabella herself had slept (next door to her "Confession Room"); another that she used was the "Priest's Chamber," up at the top of that slant-stepped newel stairway. The room at the top of the great main staircase, with the three Norman windows and the great dog-toothed Norman archway that once gave entrance to the hall, was her sitting-room. The evidences were there—archway bricked up, and a little iron stove (how little it did look, to be sure, in more ways than one) set against the bricks; windows glazed, boards (I think) laid down over the flagged floor. I tried to fancy how the lady custodian had furnished it—to picture her sitting at her book or needlework under that mighty overmantel above the hearth! I had not then seen the quarters of the chaplain of Malling Abbey, and how charmingly ancient and modern can be made to blend in the composition of a home by a person of intelligence, means and taste. Yet the gatehouse at Malling, apart from the chaplain's "treatment" of it, is snug and cosy indeed compared with this. I could live there delightfully myself. But here——! From kitchen to parlour, from parlour to bedroom the lady custodian had to make pilgrimages through ruins open to the sky and up stairways and along tunnel-passages such as one shuddered to think of in connection with dark nights. Imagine the wind rising after you have gone to bed, sighing and sobbing like ghosts of tortured captives come back to the scene of their Mediæval woes, whistling through the loopholes like the arrows of a besieging army. Think of hearing an owl hoot in the desolate great hall—the creepings and scratchings of things alive that you cannot account for—the deadly silence in between, that feels like the silence of a tiger watching you and crouched to spring!

I was not surprised to learn that the last woman to defy the associations of the place had found them too much for her, and that since her time the caretaker had lodged outside the castle instead of in. Her husband had died in that room of the bricked-up arch and the little iron stove, and what she went through in the nights of his last illness, when she had to sit up to watch him, and on the night when she was left with his coffined corpse for company, nearly drove her out of her mind. So I was told, and I quite believed it.

I came down at last from the wonderful place, having still time before me in which to explore the village. Mrs B. had warned me not to neglect this duty.

It is a beautiful village. As one saw "The King" written all over West Newton, Dersingham, Wolferton, every acre within a radius of miles from the royal seat, so here the impress of "The Howards" was plain upon Rising from end to end. The home of the family is in it; of course, withdrawn from the gaze of trippers. I passed its guardian walls and spoke to a gardener who came through a high gate, wheeling his barrowful of stuff from the grounds within. I think he said that his lady was in residence. I strolled on to the village green to look at an ancient cross which Mrs B. had mentioned as an important feature. So it is—a very interesting example of the wayside shrine. I could find no special story attached to it, but one felt sure that it commemorated "The Howards" in some way. The rectory near by—a home of dignified leisure, also withdrawn from the gaze of trippers—is in their gift. The church is full of memorials of them. If I know little of castles I know much of the churches of my native country, and how remarkable they are. This one must be ranked with the ecclesiastical gems of Norfolk, which is so rich in them—although I found that it had been very thoroughly "restored," which generally means in some points altered from the original plan, within late years. By the way, Mrs B. has a valuable collection of the etchings of John Sells Cotman, whose work is, for architects and antiquaries, an authority on Norfolk churches and cathedrals, abbeys and castles, as they were a century ago; and I am not sure, but I think that one of them shows the square tower of Rising church without the singular roof which now covers it. However, it is a beautiful building, plainly Norman throughout; with all its richness of ornamentation, massively simple and sincere, worthy to stand beside its great neighbour, which has defied the chances and changes of a thousand years. The hand of the Howards may be seen all over it, inside and out, but they have written only their love and taste, and said as little as possible about their own importance.

Just across the road from the church is another Howard institution of the past, in which I was deeply interested—Trinity Hospital, otherwise the Bede House, otherwise almshouses for decayed females of the working families on the estate. Here the gaze of the tripper is not objected to—is probably welcomed, since an alms-dish stands on the table at which the "Governess" (which I think is the correct title of the lady superintendent) gives you final items of information about the place; the vessel dumbly suggesting a donation from the visitor, to be devoted to the comfort of the old ladies in providing them with such little extra luxuries as they can enjoy. I did not need the hint, and I should think the offerings of visitors ought to almost "keep" the old ladies, who want so little.

It is a charming bit of architecture, and to me it seemed immensely old. I said so to the lady superintendent, and you should have seen her amused smile at my ignorance! "Oh dear, no," she politely corrected me, "this is not old; not more than three or four hundred years at the most." From her way of saying it, you would have supposed it had been jerry-built last week. But she was right; in Rising village, a neighbour of the great castle, an appanage of the Howards, it was a mere mushroom. Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, erected it in the reign of King James the Second.

Nevertheless, it is a charming bit of architecture. She could not shake me in that belief. A sort of gatehouse of two storeys, capped with three pointed roofs, two square and a saddle-back between them, gives entrance through an open archway to the most delightfully green and peaceful quadrangle, which was a picture indeed that golden summer afternoon. Exactly fronting me as I entered was another block of buildings, comprising a little chapel, a reception-room, and the quarters of the "Governess." Between this block and the gateway block, and joined to each on both sides and to one another, the dwellings of the pensioners made out the square, which was edged with the ever-beautiful English flower-border, the middle being filled in with the ever-matchless English lawn. All the roofs were large, steep, massive and heavily tiled; the chimneys on the same scale, the walls (except in the two blocks mentioned) low, and pierced with square latticed windows and the cottage doors—a pair to each pensioner—most of which stood open, with the old ladies, at their knitting or what not, sunning themselves at some of them. There was about everything that sober orderliness, scrupulous neatness and finish, so striking and so grateful to the eye of the old colonist, and such an enhancement and completion of the charm of rural England in characteristic scenes like this. It was a reproduction on a small scale of the college quadrangles at Cambridge, the composition of which had so enchanted me. I was enchanted with the Howard Almshouse, and inclined to envy the Howard protégée her haven of repose.

But the twentieth-century cosmopolitan, who has more or less gone with the times, has strange conflicts of feeling within the breast on being shown the uniform of the Howard protégée, the wearing of which is a condition of her tenure of one of these picture-book homes. Out of cardboard boxes and swathings of tissue paper the lady superintendent brought forth the brand-new cloak and hat that appeared to be kept for display to visitors; and I looked at them. Taken as a garment, and not a symbol, the cloak of scarlet cloth with the Howard badge embroidered on it is quite beautiful; the hat is another matter. It seems made of the stuff used for the modern gentleman's bell topper, and in shape resembles the Welsh peasant hat; one has seen it also in pictures of witches, of the time when they were tried by fire and millponds. It has a towering and tapering sugarloaf crown, and a round, narrow brim, and is worn over a white cap with a full border. In other words, the uniform is a costume of the time of James the Second.


Well, I mentioned the matter in local circles once or twice. My non-committal attitude did not fail to evoke disparaging remarks upon the Howard Bede House fashions, and especially the hat. "They don't like wearing it," I was told. Who can wonder? "But for them things, there's a many would like to go in, and ought to go in, as can't bring theirselves to do it."

In Ely, when I left that town for Australia, there was a pious foundation which similarly persisted in making its beneficiaries wear the costume of the founder's age. Long past the middle of the nineteenth century though it was, unfortunate little boys had to run the gauntlet of the street in old-man beaver hats and full-skirted old-man coats with great flap-pockets—spectacles to make the humane heart bleed. When I returned, I found the old free school building extant and unchanged, but the preposterous uniform no more. Now that the twentieth century has passed its first decade, I think it would be a fair thing to let the witch's hat, and the "badge" that has lost its meaning, go.

I was dreamily making my way back to the Black Horse when I spied the village post office—the "open door" to all persons and peoples into the great world of living human affairs that I had been feeling so remote from. Something within me sprang awake at the sight—it was the instinctive although often unconscious desire for human sympathy that accompanies any unusually impressive experience. I stepped into the tiny place, and sought pen and ink. I drew a postcard from a packet I had bought of the old man at the gate of the castle grounds, and wrote under a picture of the great stone staircase: "Here I am, and I wish you were with me," or words to that effect. I addressed it to my friend at Boston in Massachusetts, who had sent many a token of the same kind to me, stamped it, and dropped it into the letter-slot. Then, feeling no longer alone—only just as much so as I liked to be—I stepped back into the sunshine, happy in my thoughts of her and of how she would understand.

And, as I was crossing the road, thus bemused and absentminded, a lady, evidently sight-seeing by herself as I was, crossed it from the other side, and in passing stopped me to ask some question about the way to somewhere. She turned out to be one of our driving party, although I had not noticed her. When I had replied to her introductory query, she said: "I saw you with Mrs B. this morning. You are Mrs C., are you not?" Then she told me she had a sister living in Melbourne, married to a Melbourne doctor, and she wondered if by chance I knew them. I did not know her sister, but the name of her distinguished brother-in-law every Australian knew. This little encounter, opening the lines of the "wireless" to my dear home on the other side of the world, filled up the measure of emotional satisfaction that was so abundantly vouchsafed to me that day.

Or almost. The drive home (by a different route) was as delightful as the drive out. And when I reached Mrs B.'s and the capacious arm-chair, and M.'s most charming tea-table ...

I am afraid I must confess, after all my sentimental rhapsodies, that the crowning joy of my expedition to Rising Castle was the heavenly cup of tea that awaited my return to the starting point.



There are people, and they seem to me the vast majority, who have no curiosity about or interest in anything or anywhere outside their business and domestic boundaries; who "wouldn't cross the street," as they say, to look at the Parthenon or the Sphinx, or see anything in them if they did; to whom a guide-book, with photographs, means a map and a railway time-table and an indicator of the tariffs of different hotels. But the passion for travel—to "see the world"—has possessed me from my youth up. It has grown with my growth, and has not waned with the waning years. As long as the faculties of vision and locomotion remain to me, I shall cherish dreams of the Sphinx and the Parthenon, Venice, the Swiss Alps, the castles of the Loire, the thousand and one beauty spots of the all-beautiful world, which I have yet to see—trusting in the Fates, which have begun to indulge me, to give me a sight of some of them before I die.

I do not think they could drop me down anywhere and leave me altogether ignorant of where I was, so far and wide has an exploring imagination led me, and so much has it made of its every opportunity, since I first began to read and to look at picture-books. After thirty years of life in the Australian Bush, I went one day to a tea-party in Melbourne, where one of the entertainments provided was a guessing competition. One wall of a room was covered with prints and photographs of public buildings of the world; they were of miscellaneous character, old and new, selected so as not to be too obviously familiar or to give an unfair advantage to experienced travellers amongst the guests. I had never travelled; I do not think I had seen one place of the many represented—except the Wilson Hall of the Melbourne University, which was the only one to puzzle me; yet I won the first prize easily.

Happily, the beauty of a beauty spot is not dependent on human or historical associations, and the Australian Bush fed fancy well when it had no other inspiration. Likewise, when the opportunity to return to England came, unprovided with means for much sight-seeing within the country, or any whatever outside of it, I was too happy in what I had to miss what I had not. It seemed almost as much as I could bear to roam my native county, and see the homes of childhood, Old H—— and Rising Castle as I did; after that satisfaction I felt like being now able to depart in peace—that I had not lived in vain. And when in the month of September—still golden weather, for that English summer was made on purpose for me—I set forth to visit Devonshire, then I felt that Aladdin's Lamp and the Philosopher's Stone were not "in it" with my command of luck.

In my young days, be it understood, with this spirit of enterprise so strong within me, I saw nothing of the world outside the eastern counties, and not much of them, except when the dear eldest aunt mothered me so much too carefully in London now and then; nor had I when, in 1870, I was abruptly detached from my belongings to be taken to the other side of the world—not to see another inch of it until I arrived. But all through those early years I was storing up knowledge of the beauties of England, putting together mental pictures of scenes which I had fair hope of beholding with the eyes of the flesh in time—although, as a matter of fact, I have not seen a tenth of them even yet. As they seemed to come under the head of things attainable that were unattainable, and not, like foreign places, of things unattainable that were unattainable, a reasonable hope was justified. Nor did I stop at hoping. I weeded the garden and gathered snails for pennies, went without sugar for sixpence a week, while my brain seethed with plans for better business, in the effort to give substance to some of my dreams.

All the places in Scott's novels—my first romances, read aloud to us little girls by our mother as we sat at our sewing tasks about her knee; all the castles in the English histories; the lakes and fells of the north, the soft hills and dales of Derbyshire, the moorlands of Jane Eyre and Katherine Earnshaw, the Devon of Lorna Doone and Amyas Leigh....

I cannot count them. But, of them all, Devonshire was my dream of dreams.

My grandmother lived her last years there, and there she died. From her and the aunts we had descriptions of the county and its manifold charms; they only ratified what I had already learned. I think this must have been before the youngest aunt became a royal governess, or it may have been there was an interregnum in her career as such; anyway, she had her home in Devonshire at this time, which may have been a reason why I did not go there. However much I might long to see a place of dreams, I could not have wanted to see it in her company. Besides which, to go to Devonshire from Norfolk, in those days and to untravelled persons of our means, loomed as huge an undertaking as it would now be (not to me, but to rural stay-at-homes) to go to Egypt or Madeira from the same place.

At any rate, I did not go. I communed with my favourite Blackmore (as I now commune with his successor in my regard, delightful Eden Phillpotts), and dreamed of going some day. And when the some day came, it was my last in England for eight and thirty years. For the first time I crossed the land from east to west, on my journey to the ship in Plymouth Sound. Leaving Paddington at night, darkness (not sleep) hid the most of the way, but the light of the May morning came early enough to show me the part I had most longed to see. Pale dawn it was, and the train rushing along, but in all my years of exile I treasured the impressions of the little that I saw; they but fixed the old dream and made it permanent. I still had scarcely begun to realise it, but I seemed to know better what it would be to realise it. "We are to return in five years," I remarked to my drowsy partner, for so we had promised to do, in the innocence of our hearts. "Then we must see Devonshire."

We did not return in seven times five years, and when we did I might never have seen Devonshire, as I have never seen the lakes and fells, or Kenilworth, or hosts of things, but for one of those little happenings which come without warning us of the great ones in their train.

Some few summers ago I went to a new place to spend the Long Vacation with a son whom I was accustomed to companion at such times. Alone of our family, we chose, when choice was ours, the wilds of nature for our holiday resorts; and he sent for me to join him on an island that he had discovered, in a cottage that stood on its own lone beach, where we could live the simple life like Robinson Crusoes, plus the advantages of a general store (only one) and a daily steamer to and from the mainland, within the distance of a healthy walk from our abode. I went, and we had a great time—then and on several subsequent occasions in the same locality. No maids, no dressing; no constraint imposed and no effort required in the heat of the year (the Long Vacation of Australian universities begins in December and ends in March); absolute repose, combined with delightful occupation. We walked out of our beds into our morning bath in the sea, and returned for a plunge or an idle wallow at any time of day that the whim took us. We never failed to bathe (in this only bathroom at our disposal) before sitting down to our evening meal, and more than once I have risen in a hot night to soothe restless nerves in moonlit water. The sea was almost at our threshold, gently lapping a beach as smooth to naked feet as a ballroom floor. On the other side of the island, where it faces the south, the Pacific hurls its weight upon rocky headlands and thunders in rocky caverns as stern and wild as Caledonia's coasts can show. It was there we went for picnics.

Of course, we were not quite alone. The island had been discovered by others and had boasted a tiny watering-place for years. Two hotels and several boarding houses clustered about the single store (there are two now) and the little pier where the little steamer called twice daily, going to and returning from the source of fresh meat and newspapers; and these houses were filled in the summer season, and we numbered friends amongst their guests.

But the point to be mentioned is that our delightfully remote cottage belonged to a gentleman through whom—although we never met or knew each other—I came to realise my dream of some day seeing Devonshire. I often wish I had known him; for by all accounts he was a rare and original person.

In the oldest of our old times, the pre-gold times, when these lands were being "taken up" by a gallant set of young men, cadets of what we call "good" British families, he had been a pioneer squatter. But then, while the days of our history were still the "early days"—before or soon after my own arrival—he went back, married, settled and lived the bulk of his life like any other English gentleman of wealth and social standing, in accordance with the habits and customs of his family. I do not know for how many years he had inhabited his fine house in Devonshire, at which I was a happy guest so recently, but I know they were a great many. Then, a widower, approaching a late old age, he divided his large fortune amongst his nine daughters (reserving what he deemed to be sufficient for his remaining needs), settled the family house upon them for their joint use, and came back to Australia—to the little island on the Victorian coast where by such a small chance we found him.

Still farther along the lonely beach from our little cottage he had built his last home, much of it with his own hands. A four-roomed weather-board house, bare-floored, unceiled—sufficient, and no more. Here he had been living for some time, with one man for his whole establishment—the uncrowned king of the island, who could not meet a child without giving it a coin, or hear of a necessity that he did not exercise all his gentlemanly ingenuity to relieve, as when he sent a sack of sugar to a struggling mother "to make lollies for the little girl"—when two of his eight daughters in England (one was married in New South Wales) came out to see how he was getting on. I think it was not until they arrived that he built new rooms for their accommodation, and it is significant that at the same time he built himself another room quite detached from the house, which he left to their more civilised control, and the maid who was now added to the establishment; but, whether he invited them or not, he had reason to bless their coming. Unless he was the sort of man who would just as soon die alone and untended as not, which he very likely was.

I joined my son on the island the day after the old man met with the accident which caused his death. One of the many children who put themselves in his way at every possible opportunity had been to see him, to announce a birthday and receive the inevitable half-crown, and in the course of the proceedings had spied a small rifle leaning against the wall. It had just been used, or was going to be used, on minahs that were eating the orchard fruit. Unseen by his host, the boy picked up the weapon, and, "fooling" with it, shot his benefactor in the leg. I heard of the mishap, and of the periodical inquiries from our cottage as to the patient's state. No alarm was manifested, and his daughters came to see me. Later, as the wound seemed obstinate, it was thought wise to take it to Melbourne for treatment; and one morning they carried the unwilling invalid along the beach before our cottage to the steamer that was to take him thither. He raised himself from his stretcher, and waved his hand to us, and that was all I ever saw of him. He died in Melbourne some weeks later. But the island, all aweep and heart-broken, got his body back; and his grave on the sandy hill, in the midst of sea waters, seems an appropriate resting-place for such a man—more so than the monumental vaults and tombs that hold the dust of his kin of England.

To his one Australian daughter he left his Australian home. I rented it from her for a year or two. The daughters who had come out to see him returned to their sisters in Devonshire. I stayed with them for some time before they left, and we parted as friends, and with the mutual hope that we might meet again. There was small prospect of a reunion in England then.

But the time came. To my unutterable surprise I found myself there, engaged to pay them a visit. One of them, that is the elder, with her father's nomadic blood in her veins, voyaged back again after a couple of years and set up her tent on the island much as he did, only rather more luxuriously. Her return coincided with my departure, and for the moment I missed her at both ends of the world. But M. was at home, and to her I set forth joyfully on a morning of September, about a year ago from this date of writing.

I took that once formidable journey alone, my husband being absorbed in the pursuit of partridges, which was happiness enough for him. He had been marking them down all the summer and had brought his favourite gun across the world for their sakes; by the same token I had to pack it amongst my clothes because he had not room for it in his own baggage, stuffed with the rest of his sporting paraphernalia. And at first it looked as if the Fates were still inclined to head me off from Devonshire. I was all ready to start a week before I did when I slipped on the stairs and sprained my foot. I signified the necessary postponement by telegram with a foreboding heart, and as soon as I could hobble, in a slipper, flung all regard for appearance to the winds and got ready again, before more accidents could happen. And then I had, so to speak, to fight my way.

I had never travelled any distance alone, having no vocation for independence, but I assured my caretakers that any fool or baby could get about on English railways without risk or trouble. It was otherwise at home, where porters regard themselves, and with reason regard themselves, as your gracious patrons, who do not seek you, but have to be sought.

"All I shall have to do," said I, remembering my drive from Liverpool Street to Eaton Place for half-a-crown, "is to take a hansom to Paddington Station. The porters will do all the rest for me."

"Oh, nonsense," said they, "to waste time and money on cabs, when there is an Underground that will take you straight across the city from one point to the other." They would not hear of it.

By the Underground I was to go, and so carefully was I provided for that an important official of Liverpool Street Station was engaged in a friendly way to meet me there and personally conduct me from train to train. The salient points in my appearance were described to him and his to me, and when he readily undertook the job assigned to him it was reasonably assumed that I was safeguarded as far as human means could do it. That I went wrong after all was not their fault nor mine. It was in the first place the fault of one who told my friend who was the friend of the Liverpool Street official—to whom he immediately forwarded the false information—that I was going by another train. In the second place it was the fault of a porter. Poor, dear porter! In whatever form he waited upon me he was an ideal servant to my Australian notions, although I was sufficiently altruistic to wish him for his own sake the standing of his antipodean brother who is not a servant but a potentate, self-respecting to hauteur in his conscious command of the situation. In the present instance he was but human and over-zealous, and I would not blame him for the world.

When my train from Cambridgeshire drew up at its London platform he was ready for me at the carriage door, as usual. And when I looked beyond him for his superior who was to take charge of me, and saw no one resembling our mutual friend's description of him, I was relieved and pleased. For I had rebelled against the waste of his precious time and the obligation I should be under to him, although overruled by assurances that the favour would be on my side. I had protested that the English porter was all-sufficient for every possible need that could arise.

So now I put myself into his hands with as complete a trust as the highest official or a whole Board of Directors could have inspired; and I told him I wanted to go to Praed Street by the Underground, and asked him to see to everything and put me on the right train. And I gave him sixpence.

Perhaps that was a mistake. I was always being told that I had no business to give a porter more than twopence (the Australian porter will condescend to pocket sixpence, but I never dared insult him with less), and I used to make it threepence when no one was looking, without feeling that I had been too generous, in deference to the customs of the country. It is certainly an odd thing that the only two little railway accidents that befell me in England were due to the only porters I gave sixpences to. It would almost seem as if so much prosperity turned their heads.

On this occasion it was to make assurance of the right train on the Underground doubly sure that I tipped my man the first sixpence; and he laid himself out to earn it in such a way that I was ashamed not to have made it a shilling. He bought me my ticket for Praed Street—that was all right; he put my luggage on the train and myself into the special care of the conductor. He did all that man could do. But it was the wrong train.

I discovered presently that I had been along that same Underground before, on one of my visits to the Franco-British Exhibition. I had not taken much notice of the names of passing stations then, having the usual escort; but now I did. And Praed Street seemed an immense time coming along, whereas Paddington was left farther and farther behind us, and signs of our approach to Shepherd's Bush accumulated. So I spoke to the conductor. Imagine the feelings of an innocent abroad! "There's no Praed Street on this line," said he. "You are in the wrong train."

I kept my head fairly in an experience unprecedented in my career. I confided in the conductor—because I had found that in England you can go to any official in a difficulty, with the certainty of getting good advice and every possible assistance, and he told me what to do. I did it (with my luggage and my lame foot) in the sweat of my brow, somehow. I got out at the next station. For once, no porter, until a passing civilian, appealed to, sought one out for me, who, when he appeared, acted as the dear man invariably did. I returned to the station the conductor had told me to return to; exactly the same thing happened. The civilian in this case connected me with an elderly, slow porter, who seemed to have all the business of the train and platform to himself. I knew what the time was. I thought of where I was in London and of my friends in Devonshire, driving three miles to meet me; and I cried to that poor, doddering old man that I would give half-a-crown to anybody who would help me to catch the Exeter express. He stared at me as if he wanted time to get such a stupendous proposition into his brain; then he sadly realised that he could not do it. But from somewhere out of the ground sprang a vigorous young porter who without loss of time took the matter in hand.

"You run along as hard as you can run," said he, "and I'll meet you under the big clock."

I did run, although in other circumstances I should have believed it almost impossible to put my left foot to the ground. And I ran the right way too, although I did not know it, and although I have a natural genius for taking wrong ones; up and down stairs and along devious passages, sped by the directing fingers and shouts that answered my gasping query to every railway man I passed; and so I came out on a high gallery in the great arena of Paddington Station—to see my train below me, but still far away, and the big clock that was my rendezvous with the luggage porter (nowhere to be seen) pointing to the very minute that the time-table fixed for its departure!

I flew along that bridge to the end, hurled myself almost headlong down the stairs to the platform, reached my train; and there was still no sign of the luggage porter, far or near, and they were shutting the carriage doors, and the guard was lifting his hand to give the signal to start. He was a fine, big, important-looking man—I shall not forget him—and but for my experience of English railway officers it would not have occurred to me to approach him at such a moment; but I had the happy inspiration to do so, and was thereby saved.

"He will be here directly," said that guard with the manners of a prince. "I will hold the train a moment."

He held it for moments that made two minutes before my laggard henchman came into view, and then helped him to bundle my things into the corridor of my carriage, there being no time to seek the van. Blessings on him! I hope it may be my good fortune to travel in his charge again before I die. And I was only a third-class passenger.

That is another of the pleasures of English railway travel. At home we have no third class, and your own servants do not deign to travel second. I do not myself, except sometimes on a country journey, the long-distance trains having a special character and equipment. But in England the third-class carriage was our only wear; but twice did we put on airs and take a second—a first never. In Australia when you ask for your unspecified ticket, unless you are blatantly horny-handed and begrimed with toil, the young man behind the wicket gives you a first-class as a matter of course; in England he gives you a third, with the same inward knowledge that he is doing the proper thing, no questions asked. And with that evidence in your hand of your lack of social consequence, you are of as much importance as anybody to the English official, who is a gentleman every time. My guard of the Great Western could not have done more for me if I had been the queen.

And so, thanks to him, I was off at last. In a full carriage, of course, where I had to sit in the middle, but still, safely embarked for Devonshire. And when the agitation of my nerves subsided I looked at the passing landscape which I had last seen as a girl and a bride and thought of all that had happened—heavens! what had not happened?—since that far-off day. Its face might have changed—it must have done—but it was the same country, the same towns and villages, and woods and fields. I had seen them for the first time in the twilight of a May evening in 1870—that evening of farewells and heartbreak, of all evenings in my life—and never since till now ...

One advantage of being a third-classer is that you can chat with a neighbour without misgiving, if you feel that way disposed. I could not read in English trains; it would have been a wicked waste of eyesight when there was so much better than books to look at; and if you do not read you either incline to talk or you are supposed to be ready to do so. There was a little lady in the corner next to me whom I liked the look of, and who apparently returned the compliment, and we made one of those little ships-that-pass friendships, which are often as pleasant as they are brief, before she left me at Newton Abbot, to branch off to Cornwall. She had a school in that county, but had been called from it to a sick brother in America—in the Wild West too—a couple of years before we met; and his illness, death, and difficulties resulting from them had only now released her to return to the quiet life which had been so violently interrupted. So she had had her great experiences and was having them now as well as I. She had left a locum tenens in charge of her school, and she did not know how she was going to find things, nor how she was going to settle down into the old narrow groove again.

As in Port Said, I was minded not to dock my trip of any of its charms, and would not bring the customary private sandwich for my midday repast. There was a restaurant car on the train (we have them too, but I have never used them), and I intended to enjoy the novelty of lunching therein. I had seen photographs of the tempting interiors—third class!—in magazines, and from the platforms of great junctions had peeped at them through their own glass windows. It was another bit of experience to be taken in its course and the most infinitesimal bit was valuable.

So at one o'clock I rose and proudly journeyed down the train. But I had not noticed the preliminary boy sent round to collect orders, and the Master of Ceremonies politely informed me that the tables were filled. Another luncheon would be ready in half-an-hour, he said, but now I was "off" lunching that way, and wished I had catered for myself as usual. Returning to my seat I found my neighbour with her little refreshment set out on a napkin spread over her neat lap. She insisted on my sharing it with her, and after decent demur I did. There was a meat-pie and I had half; two cakes and I had one; two bananas and I had one. Later on I returned her hospitality as best I could by inviting her to tea with me, and then I sampled the possibilities of the restaurant car and found them all that I could wish.

By this time we were in Devonshire. We were actually waiting at Exeter—Exeter, of which I had heard so much, endeared by so many old associations—and I was too deeply engaged with my good tea and nice bread-and-butter to seriously and adequately realise the fact. Alas! when it comes to tea I am afraid I am a gross person.

But I did not see Exeter in 1870. It was dark night then. I do not know if we even passed that way. Later in the afternoon, when I came to the scenes on which that old, old May dawn rose so tragically, you might have offered me tea without my seeing it. I could see nothing but the Devonshire that was all I knew, and think of nothing but identifying as much of it as possible. Ivy Bridge, name as well as place, I had had the memory-print of for all the years, but it lay beyond my goal to-day. That other place, unknown, where the sea came up to the railway and the train ran through and under the red cliffs, I found was Dawlish. Sweet spot, so long beloved! I am told that the one blot on the beauty of Dawlish is the railway on its sea-front. This is from the resident's point of view. Let him remember what its position means sometimes to the passing railway traveller.



Being in Devonshire I sat down on one of the most notoriously beautiful of all the beauty spots of the county. It was traditional that the old gentleman of the island who had had several homes, and the means to make them what he would, never had one in a place that was not beautiful. The island, as I knew, was beautiful, in its wild solitude of sea and sand and ti-tree scrub. Otherwise his family home in England was as great a contrast to the home in which he had chosen to spend his last years as could possibly be found. As I moved about the large rooms and up and down the stairs, every wall set thick with the valuable paintings he had gathered from abroad and from Christie's and from Royal Academy Exhibitions, it was odd indeed to think of the weather-board cottage and the few prints from illustrated papers tin-tacked to its pine lining, which he had deliberately preferred to them. The whole establishment, with all the dignities of fine family furniture, family crested silver, full staff of trained servants, and so on and so on—without one irregularity or eccentricity in its administration—represented the normal English gentleman's life, that of his kin and class, and by general use and wont his own. Yet, of his free choice, he left it all to go and live like Robinson Crusoe in an island hut, with a rough, wood-chopping Friday, and a domestic equipment of Britannia metal and stone china that could not stir the envy of a tramp.

After all, one can understand it. An old Australian, at any rate, can understand it. In his young days he had been a pioneer squatter. What old man looks back on this experience otherwise than with the feeling that he has seen the Golden Age? Never one that I ever met and I have met many. One can realise how the memory of that time of liberty and sunshine swelled and swelled (in a man with the imagination to love pictures and a fair outlook from his windows) as the years of fettering old-world conventions and grey skies went by. The older he grew the brighter shone the lights of the past—as with you and me, dear reader—and the craving to return to the scenes of youth, which are the realms of romance to the aged, must have been in him what the craving to return to England was to me for so many, many years. He had heaps of money, along with a singular power to discriminate between its real and its apparent values. It enabled him to please himself when there remained no dependent family to consider, and he pleased himself by removing it as a burden upon a freeborn spirit, while retaining enough to purchase liberty for the rest of life. I forgot to mention that before he built his island cottage he bought a caravan and in that humblest of homes toured the Australian bush and coast at leisure until he found the spot to suit him in which to make camp permanently.

Never, said his daughters, would he live in any place that was not beautiful.

Well, in Devonshire, at any rate, he had not done so. My spacious room had a great bay of three windows, in which I could sit and batten on beauty to my heart's content. My writing-table stood in one angle, and I could not get on with my letters of a morning for the enchantment of the view. Deep down below me lay a small exquisite lawn (every English lawn is exquisite), shadowed at one side with fine old trees, and all around with a beflowered wall; the old gardener was always pottering there, shaving the grass a little every day, sweeping up every dead leaf that autumn wind brought down. Below the garden again was the sunk road, so deep and steep that I should not have known there was a road but for hearing a carriage now and then and getting a glimpse of the top of the coachman's hat. The farther wall lining the ravine showed just its stone coping at the top, and beyond that was sea—all sea, with the wall cutting across it—unless I turned my eyes to the left, where a splendid red bluff breasted it. Could even Devonshire have composed a lovelier picture to live with? But I am bound to admit that, three mornings out of four, when I got up to look at it, it was lost in fog. However, on the day of my arrival, when the evening light was peculiar, I saw Portland through a telescope; and Portland, I was told, was full forty miles off, and not visible from where we saw it above once in as many years. I did see it, but it was not so clear as the old "Stump" on the sea-line that I had looked at from the beach in Norfolk.

Dear M. was determined I should lose nothing of the joy of Devonshire through default of hers; and, with carriage closed, we spent the first two pouring wet days exploring the lovely neighbourhood. It was lovely in the most hopeless downpour. Then came fine weather, and she took me to Exeter. As originally arranged, the plan was not only to "do" Exeter, but also Ottery St Mary, the last home and grave of my grandmother. But when we reached the cathedral city, a long journey, there was so much to see and do that even to me it seemed bad economy to tax time, strength and pleasurable sensation further. I said, "Oh, this is enough for one day!" and we agreed to make it so.

I suppose it would be sinking to the deeps of drivel to say "How beautiful Exeter is," but such is my opinion, all the same. And I walked about it, as I did about most places that I visited in England, with invisible companions, whose presence enhanced its charms. Years and years ago—when I was at B——, between '75 and '78—a dear friend of mine was an old lady of about eighty, the first English lady on the goldfields, who was said to be, and must have been, the handsomest and most delightful woman of that age known to Australian history. She was Devonshire born, and her old husband—a solicitor, who had returned to the practice of his profession when goldfields went out of fashion with his class—told me she had been known as the "Belle of Exeter" in the long ago when he had married her. She loved to talk to me of the Australian "old days," but also she loved to go further back, and tell me of Devonshire and her native city, always winding up with injunctions to me to go there if I ever returned to my native land again. And here I was at last, finding all her loving pride in the place justified.

Could anything in city planning be happier in effect than the position of the cathedral in its quiet oasis amid the streets? And what a cathedral, inside and out! I have a cathedral that I call my own, and never thought I should so overcome the power of patriotic prejudice as to admit it could be surpassed by another. But when I returned to Ely last time, looking for my shrine of all perfection, I got a shock to my housewifely sensibilities from its ill-kept condition that wholly unhinged the long-established point of view. The beautiful brasswork was black and green, the beautiful oak carving outlined in grey dust, and in that state I could not take pleasure in looking at them, even for old time's sake. Perhaps they were waiting for some restorations to be done with before turning to with the pails and brooms and chamois-leathers. But all service-time I used to be catching myself absorbed, not in prayers and sermon, but in anxious inward debate as to whether it was not already too late ever to make those brass gates bright again.

There was no dirt in Exeter Cathedral to dim its complete and finished loveliness, and all its surroundings were in character and keeping with it, "composed" by time and circumstance to make the picture perfect—especially on a golden autumn day. What should be the cast of mind of a bishop privileged to live in such a house and grounds as lie, peaceful and stately and exquisite, under the shadow of the south tower? I like to remember that one bishop of Exeter had a son who was the father of my Eden Phillpotts, whose intellectual inheritance is the love of beauty, uncloistered, unsophisticated; beauty at its primal source in the breast of Mother Nature. M. and I pottered about these precincts, still thinking we were going on to Ottery St Mary, until the spirit of the place so possessed me that I could not tear myself away.

"Oh, this is enough for one day!" I said to M.

She understood, and we stayed, and let Exeter soak in.

She took me to one place and another, and one was the old "Mol's Coffee House" that flourished as such in the sixteenth century, but had been a private house at the time of the Armada. It is now in the occupation of a firm of picture-dealers, who also have the sole right of selling a certain pottery ware of local manufacture. M. was interested in a collection of water-colours they had on view—she is herself a charming water-colourist—but the setting of those pictures was the picture of them all. We climbed a little, dark, twisty oaken staircase that had echoed to the tread of Drake and Raleigh—the self-same stairs, just as when they clattered up and down; and we stood in the self-same oak-panelled chamber where they met their fellow-defenders of England's shores, to discuss and arrange plans for circumventing the enemy. I looked up from the water-colours of to-day to the age-bleached colours of their shields of arms in the age-blackened oak, and thought of those bygone committee meetings. Nothing changed since then, except the living air, and those who breathed it, and their use of the old place. It could not be put to better use. The firm in possession, who deal in art, are artistic enough to respect the relic in their care. The spirits of Drake and Monk and Raleigh, and the rest, might come o' nights to the old rendezvous, and not feel they had no business to be there. In that room I bought a packet of picture post cards—views of Exeter—that, artistically considered, are the best I found in England. Whenever I took one out to scribble on, I put it back in the envelope again, as too good to be defaced in the post and thrown away, and the package is still intact.

Then we went to a shop and I bought an umbrella. Does that seem an incongruous association of ideas? Nothing of the sort. The pleasure I have had, and still have, out of that umbrella, because of the place I bought it in, you would not believe. My hand fondles it every time I wrap its folds around its stick; I cannot put the loop over the button, or take it off, without all the loveliness of Exeter flooding my soul, the memories of that day.

Between luncheon and tea we attended a missionary festival service in the cathedral. It was a Pan-Anglican side-show, not to speak irreverently, with the usual miscellaneous assortment of bishops in attendance. One met the swarming prelates here and there, in the houses of their hostesses, and in places remote from the London centre which had lately been the seething whirlpool of episcopal affairs; and, without going to one of their great programme meetings, I came to know a few, one from the other, and to take an interest in some. For instance, in an American bishop, one of the most vigorous and alert-minded, as he was one of the youngest, a "live" man, who seemed eloquent in his own person of the country he came from; in a black bishop from Africa, who one day waited with me for a long time in the outer shop of a firm of clerical tailors, while my husband (frightfully particular about the cut and set of coats) was being attended to within; above all, in a nice man from India, with whom I spent an evening, mostly on a sofa-for-two, in a London drawing-room. It has been my good fortune to make friends with several bishops, never as bishops, always as unprofessional men. They are bishops who talk shop to me before they are my friends, not afterwards. And I can say of each one of the few who have honoured me by meeting me on my own ground, that as men they are (were, in the case of one long dead and two at the end of life) delightful. You would not think it, viewing bishops, as one does, altogether from the outside; but so it is. On this occasion at Exeter, it was one of our own Australasian prelates who preached the sermon. I did not know him, as bishop or man, and there was not much in his discourse, and I do not like sermons anyhow; rather, I feel that they have outstayed their usefulness, which was doubtless great when the preachers were more learned than those they preached to; but it was an hour and a half of physical repose and spiritual contentment, and I much enjoyed it.

Straight from the cathedral we went to our tea, the—— But no, I will not say it again. After this refreshment we walked about a little more, and there comes to mind a delicious little shop in an alley leading out of the cathedral yard; it sold Devonshire junket and cream and butter, as well as other dairy dainties, some of which were handed to us in card boxes with ribbon handles that were a pleasure to carry the long way home. Also I recall a moment of astonishment at finding that prawns in England were considered cheap at tenpence a dozen. They were exposed on an Exeter market stall at that figure. "Goodness gracious! Do you mean to say those we had at lunch yesterday were that price?" I questioned M., horror-stricken to think how lightheartedly I had ladled them on to my plate, as mere prawns such as went by the name at home, only bigger. Then she told me that her domestic fishmonger charged a penny apiece. And when you think of the importance of pennies in England! I made a mental calculation that at least seven shillings had been sunk in the little dishful that I had reckoned as worth sixpence perhaps—because the prawns were so exceptionally fine.

It was dark when we reached Exeter station, and we had to wait there for our train. We sat down to dinner, without dressing, at a few minutes to nine.

On another day M. took me to Plymouth, the special place of memories, the "take off" for my youthful leap into the unknown world. "Shall I ever see it again?" I asked myself, as I watched it fade in rain on the tragical morning of my departure; and how small a chance there was that I ever should! It was typically spring-time then. Now it was typically autumn.

The heavy fog in which the September day was born yielded to the sun before we started on our expedition, and we had again the sweet English weather that was peculiar to that year. We drove to Cockington before leaving the carriage at Torquay, and Cockington was another place of beauty that I had kept thought of through all my adult life. A friend of mine had wintered at Torquay in the long ago, and in daily letters at the time had word-painted all the neighbourhood for me, supplementing his descriptions with photographs, which adorn a girlish album to this day; and so I knew Cockington well at second hand. But that was not like seeing it on a lovely morning such as this. We left the carriage to walk up the lane of the Forge and through the Park to the little artist's dream of a church, and we poked about inside it, while the lady of the keys jubilated in subdued tones over the recent birth of an heir to the lands it stood on. "These woods,", said M., as we drove away along the narrow, deep-sunk roads, "are thick with snowdrops in the spring." Heavens! What must Cockington be in spring?

Then we took train at Torquay for Plymouth, and there I was again on the old via dolorosa, which was that no more. Ivy Bridge, in the shining morning, welcomed me back, all smiles; and the country, which I really saw for the first time, filled me with delight. So richly green, where it was not so richly red! And why have I never seen such cows as those splendid, big, red Devon cows elsewhere? If this is the type of creature bred from Devon soil, the heroic history of the county is explicable—not to mention the quality of its cream.

Shades of heroes were all about us as we perambulated Plymouth town, but all the time I was thinking of a pair of poor young things putting in a last morning (after a bedless and sleepless night) roaming the same old streets, close on forty years ago. I could recognise little beyond the general features of the place, however. The town must have greatly altered since 1870, and the fact is evidenced by the complexion of its more prominent buildings. The great Guildhall was not, nor the second Eddystone lamp-post in the sea; even the Armada Memorial was not, nor the statue of Sir Francis Drake, though one would have expected to recall them, weather-worn and venerable, as having dominated the Hoe for centuries before that. But we have fine modern halls and monuments of our own, and it is the Historic Past in which I live when I have the opportunity; so I turned from the great Guildhall to the grey church alongside, which enshrined the story of seven centuries within its still stout walls. And when I stood on the Hoe, it was not to look at new statues and lighthouses, but across the unchanging Sound, where once lay a "fine new clipper" (as the papers described her); waiting for a wind to waft her on her maiden voyage round the world. She was a vessel of little more than a thousand tons, and hardly visible to the naked eye from that point of view—then. But I saw her ghost in September last, as plain as plain could be.

Then we had a long afternoon at Kingswear and Dartmouth—a still more satisfying experience, if that could be. They are both so old, so beautifully unmodernised and unimproved, cherishing the Historic Past so faithfully! The Naval College, above and apart, does not interfere with it in the least. We "did" Dartmouth first—cradle of the British seafarer from time immemorial—and it was an æsthetic luxury indeed to potter about that old, old church in its old, old graveyard, between which and the houses snuggled up to it a narrow, deep-sunken, paved passage gave right of way to living neighbours, case-hardened against the toxic microbe in all its forms, one must suppose. The rood-screen still bore what I had never seen on rood-screen yet; the figures of the two thieves as well as that of the Saviour—the Calvary complete. The pulpit was the gift of King Charles the First, and apparently in its original state, less the colour and sharp outlines that time had worn away. It is of carved stone, gilded and coloured, shaped like a wineglass, and one wondered that even a small man should dare to trust his weight in it. I could not realise a modern preacher there, or a modern congregation. I should expect to see Richard the Lion Heart and his knights stride in, to be blessed before starting out of harbour for the Crusades; at the least—or, rather, the latest—the Pilgrim Fathers kneeling together, seeking strength to set forth on their equally gallant enterprise.

And those quaint, steep, curly streets, and those old timbered houses, with their projecting upper storeys, all carved and crinkled—they are the same the Pilgrim Fathers said good-bye to, and in which their kin may have lived for centuries before that. The harbour itself has not been altered since King Richard sailed out of it in 1190—so they say, and nothing appears to the contrary. Imagine the seafaring history it has made, the sailor life it has seen! Those very stones that you see and touch and walk about on to-day, those very waters where the Britannia and Hindostan now lie! M. and I had luncheon in a long room, by a window overlooking the quay, and a dozen imaginary pageants of the past entertained my fancy as I ate, looking out upon the now quiet place. There was another wide window at the other end of the long room, and that one gave immediately upon the churchyard. Below it ran the sunk passage which did duty for a street—two people could just about pass each other and nearly on a level with its sill the ancient gravestones presented themselves to view, almost within touch, against the background of that church which seemed to have been there for ever. I think I remember that gravestones of great antiquity lined the passage walls and made a pediment to the window of the restaurant. Could anything be more appropriate to the character of the town?

When we had explored Dartmouth, as far as time allowed, the ferry-boat took us back to Kingswear, where we proposed to have tea with a lady living up on the hill. Here the modern came in, but not until we wanted it—with the soft sofa and the recreative cup. Kingswear keeps its mate over the way in countenance. The new homes tuck themselves unobtrusively into sylvan nooks that soften or hide them—or so it seemed; I must confess that it was tea-time, and I did not take much notice. Besides, the way to the house of M.'s friend was so steep and so striking that I was bound to confine my attention to it. Tier above tier, up shadowed shrubbery pathways and mossed stone stairways, the various footholds of the garden were laboriously gained. The approach reminded me of some I had heard or read or seen pictures of, leading to villas on Italian heights. It was very pretty, and the house when we reached it was more than that. We had but half-an-hour there before we had to seek our train, but it was a pleasant bit of the day. I envied our hostess her house as much as I did anyone in England. From one side of it she looked down upon the harbour—the Britannia and the Naval College and the green shores; from the other she looked away to the river mouth—Kingswear Castle and the open sea. While immediately around her, and adown her steep garden, she had all the privacy of Sandringham before the avenue was blown down.

Another "day out" enriched my collection of impressions of Devonshire with a set of charming memories. It was the day we went to the wedding.

"Now," said M., when she had explained to me that I was a potential guest, "I am going to show you, one of the finest views in England." Thereupon she described the situation of the country house which was to be the scene of festivity. It stood very high, in beautiful gardens, which dropped down and down in a succession of terraces, ending in a deep coombe and the sea. It was quite a famous beauty spot, apparently, and when I had seen it I should have seen Devonshire at its best. I did not need to be told what that meant.

At daybreak the fog was very thick and so remained till noon. We dressed before luncheon, having a long drive before us, and the fate of feathers and furbelows still hung doubtful. The carriage came round closed, and we slipped into wraps and set forth—my two sister-hostesses and myself—and there was no sign of the weather clearing. We were all fresh-air persons who could not stand being cooped up, and we opened the carriage windows, and the fog visibly flowed in. To me it was an agreeable circumstance—more so, for once, than the brilliant sunshine to which I was almost too well accustomed. It did not rain, nor feel like it; in fact there was not a drop all day, and we could see our way before us, and on both sides as far as the hedges of the deep-sunk, narrow lane-like roads. Those rich autumnal hedges tapestried the impalpable wall behind them with lovely forms that were a joy to study—wreathing ivy, intertwined with pink valerian, cascades of traveller's joy like the foam of our wild clematis at home. What the views beyond must have been I could guess, for we were driving for an hour or more and it seemed to be stiff climbing all the way.

We arrived at the decorated village—a village for a picture-book, if ever there was one. The road where the carriages of the assembling wedding guests were left had the effect of a ravine in its relation to the church above it. We looked up and before us rose an irregular footpath, like a worn-away and dislocated staircase, curving round and about the beflagged and beflowered churchyard hill; and its whole length, which straightened out would have been considerable, was covered with red baize which had evidently taken a good deal of fitting to make it lie so that it would not trip up the bridal company. At the top we could just see the outline of the church and the dim colour and flutter of the most distant flags. Sunshine could not have created a more charming effect.

The church is the crowning glory of that typical Devonshire village. It dates from the fourteenth century and its registers go back to the year 1538, but old age is not all its claim to distinction. It has a precious cradle roof inside and a not less precious rood-screen (time of Richard the Second), and a lovely harmony of every stick and stone with every other, that was a luxury to contemplate what time I sat among the wedding guests awaiting the coming of the bride. To-day the slender shafts of the screen had bridal flowers tied to them and nestling beneath—pink predominating (Japanese lilies, I think), a colour which "went" with the blackened oak as cold white blossoms would not have done. I had but such glimpses of the chancel as the interstices of the screen afforded; understanding that the chancel was a "restoration" I was content with that. I heard afterwards that it had a "squint" and rood-stairs, fourteenth-century brasses and other interesting things, such as I made a reverent study of in my young days.

The bride arrived. She was a young Norwegian lady, and a bright-faced, wholesome, happy-looking creature—as attractive a bride as one could wish to wait on. The English bridegroom looked a good fellow, and I trust he has made her a good husband.

They stood outside the screen and close to us for the first part of the marriage service, which the officiating clergyman declaimed with remarkable enthusiasm; then they passed into the sanctuary for the completion of the rite. As a mere wedding it was like other weddings. The coloured flowers in the decorations (I believe they were all white in the chancel) was the only unusual note.

But when the bride and bridegroom came out of church man and wife together, there were a couple of minutes when the bridal spectacle surpassed anything of the sort that I ever saw. I want to paint the scene, but I know I cannot do it—cannot convey to another who was not there the impression it made on me. The subject may be "genre," but of all the pictures in my gallery I can find none more poetically composed. Let me try to sketch it somehow.

You must first imagine rural Devonshire and one of its sweetest villages; the deep road, the hedges and the trees and the churchyard slopes, the flowers, the flags, the scarlet carpet, the still rainless mist. The red stairway twisting and dropping through the green from porch to gate is now lined with the village children, all in bewreathed new hats (provided by the bride's family), and they hold in their hands baskets of flower petals, with which they bestrew the way of the bridal procession. Down they come—we had preceded them to the road, or I should have lost one of the sights of my life—down they come, winding with the winding path, the bride with her veil up, smiling and bowing, her white train and her young maids behind her; every figure, every feature of the scene, refined and idealised by the (to me) extraordinary atmosphere. Bright sunlight would have made a picture which I should have thought perfect had I not seen it through this pure poetic haze. As a study of fog effects—well, it is no use trying to elucidate the thing further. But I carried it away with the delight of a collector in a work of art that is unmatchable, and now it is safe in my gallery of Blessed Memories, and I would not take any money for it.

When we drove to the house which commanded "one of the finest views in England"—home of the bride's sister—a rather less density of fog would have answered the purpose, instead of which we had rather more. The house, with its platform and all the lawns and flower-beds and marquees thereon, was quite plain to view; the first terrace was visible; some trees between that and the second tier of garden loomed a shade more substantial than their shadows would have been; below and beyond them—nothing. Nothing, nothing but cotton-wool, a white blanket, a wall impenetrable. Not a glimpse, not a hint of the coombe and sea that M. had promised me. So that to this day I do not really know how lovely Devonshire can be, although I can imagine that I know.

The visible house had the more attention paid to it, and within it there was much to charm the eye of a wedding guest, apart from the show of wedding presents. Our Norwegian hostess had brought to her English home treasure of furniture and curios that I had to apologise for staring at as if they were things in a museum; masses of black wood carved all over, and strange pottery and metal ware, drinking-cups and the like; they brought the Norse country, ere while distant and practically unknown, to sight and touch, and set my unsated traveller's soul a-dreaming of snows and sagas, mountains and fjords.

But the Norwegian wedding-cake was the pride of its nation, amongst them all.

In the large marquee where the dinner-destroying marriage feast was spread, there were two of these nuptial trophies, an English cake crowning one long table, a Norwegian the other. The first was the white, three-tiered, much decorated affair that we are familiar with, and I did not go near it. The bride cut it ceremonially, and it was distributed in the usual way. Then, escorted by her bridegroom, she came across the carpeted tent through the smart crowd to where I stood at the other table. "I must 'break' this cake," she remarked, with her pretty foreign accent, and proceeded to do it with her two hands in what one perceived to be the correct Norwegian bridal fashion. In case the reader is as ignorant of the constitution of Norwegian bridescakes as I was until that afternoon, I will try to describe it.

It may have stood two feet high, but obviously the size would depend on circumstances, the same as with our own. In shape it resembled the tall bottles, with their horizontal fluting, in which the ready-made salad-dressing of commerce is, or used to be, purveyed, being a shell formed of graduated rings of cake (much like the wooden rings for stretching drawn-thread-work), laid one upon another from bottom to top. They were as perfectly round and evenly graduated as if the paste had been wound round a cone like cotton on a reel, but that is not how it was done, because each ring was complete in itself and came off whole when the cake was "broken," although previously it had adhered to the rings next to it strongly enough to make the finished erection safe to move and carry. This means, of course, that the stuff is not brittle, but neither is it tough; it bites like a particularly nice macaroon. When the bride had pulled off the two or three top rings, which were broken into pieces of convenient size before being handed round, the hollow within revealed itself filled up with sweetmeats; and here again the purse or fancy would determine the kind and quality of sweetmeats used. A cake of any size, filled with the best "lollies," as we Australians call them, must be at least as costly as the corresponding English cake, although it may not look so. As it goes down, ring by ring, the miscellaneous internal goodies are distributed to keep the surface even, which certainly makes it the more interesting of the two to partake of; and it can assuredly boast the more cunning cookery. I love a new experience, of whatever sort or kind, and I consider the Norwegian wedding-cake an item of value to my store.

Altogether, I had a good time that afternoon—as usual. Family guests allowed me not a moment to remember that I was a stranger, and I was thrown for a while with a lady—introduced to me with special intention as one who knew Australia—with whom I felt at once like an old friend, although she had known Australia only as a tourist, not as an old-timer like myself. We talked Australia and nothing else, but not quite as another lady, who knew Australia as I knew it, had discussed the subject with me at a Norfolk garden-party. We did not largely comment upon the funniness of these stay-at-home English people, the unconsciousness of the poor dears of how way back behind the times they were, and their extraordinarily mistaken notions about us and what we were accustomed to.

The fog had settled down for the remainder of the day, never having lifted since day broke. It took the bride and bridegroom and their carriage, swallowing them up before our eyes as we clustered about the porch to bid them godspeed. Soon afterwards we drove away ourselves. The hedgerow ivy and the foamy traveller's joy and the pink valerian were still to be seen on the roadside banks, so close to us as we pounded down the hills. The carriage windows were down, and the white veil floated about us. I watched the gradual wilting of the already discouraged feathers on the hat in front of me, until at last they hung down lank and shiny, little beads of moisture fringing their tips. I had tucked my own feather boa within my wraps, to save it, but when, reaching home, I drew it off in the hall, it was like drawing a wet sponge along my neck and cheek.

"Take them all to the drying-closet," said M. to her maid. And there our wedding garments spent the night, coming forth dry and fuzzy in the morning.

In Australia the drying-closet is not amongst our domestic appliances, although its principles are applied to laundries. We do not need it. But it is the "long-felt want" of every British home. Unfortunately it is the privilege of the well-to-do. Since I am not likely to be able to afford one, I intend not to wear feather boas when I go to live in England.



Twenty years ago—or was it nearer twenty-five?—a dear girl came to live with me as governess-out-of-school to my young children and general aide-de-camp to myself. It was in the time, which spread over so many years, when I was not strong enough for all the domestic duties that properly belonged to me. I got her through an advertisement—the only time I was ever beholden to such a source for such an acquisition. "A young English lady" was the attractive description of her—the very thing, to my mind, for my bush-bred infants.

I called on her at the Governesses' Home in Melbourne, and engaged her on the spot. She had come to Australia for her health, but if she told me so I did not grasp the fact; she looked as well and as good as I felt she would be comfortable to get on with. Also she had come from a good English house and a well-to-do and well-placed family, and was choosing to earn her living rather than be an expense to her father, from no compulsion but that of her own independent spirit; and this too was a fact I did not grasp. She never allowed me to perceive it. Had she been penniless, with only her casual employer to depend on, she could not have served me more devotedly. She worked far harder than I should have allowed her to do had I divined the secret weaknesses in her sturdy-looking little frame, always with bright face and cheerful voice and unslackening energy and interest. She seemed to have no thought for herself at all. And yet she professed, and still vehemently professes, that the time she spent with us was the time of her life.

However in the end she fell ill—very ill; then the secret weaknesses revealed themselves, and the doctor shook his head over them. We saw that governessing days were over, and her relatives were communicated with. Her father sent out money for her needs and for a first-class passage, and when she seemed able to travel we sent her back to him in the care of a trained nurse. The doctor thought she might live to reach her home, but he was not sanguine.

Well, she did, and is there still, bless her heart. At any rate I trust so, she was a few weeks ago. Although the secret weaknesses seem permanent and she risks her life every winter that she spends in England—unfortunately, the Riviera, substitute for the more beneficial and beloved Australia, is not always practicable—I anticipate that she will be a hale old woman for many years after I am gone.

Through all the long interval between her parting with us at B—— and my meeting with her again, she kept up a loving correspondence, and every letter was a sigh for me to come home or a sigh to be back herself in the sunny land where she had been "so well and happy." I had not the leisure to answer half her letters, but when I was suddenly confronted with the opportunity of my life, and sat down to inform my English friends of the treat in store for them, it was with special satisfaction that I wrote to the one who, I knew, would hail the news with more genuine joy than anybody.

It was not until September that I found time to pay my first visit to her. She lived in Kent, not a hundred miles from Maidstone, to which town she journeyed to meet me—all in the wind and rain which were so bad for the secret weaknesses. Partridges being the only living creatures that my husband was then interested in—they had been available to the gun three days—I went alone. Later on, just before we sailed for home, I went down to her for a last week-end, and he followed to fetch me and to shake hands with her before we left.

On that 4th September when I met her first after the long absence a leading London newspaper made what now seems to me an astounding statement. It declared that "we" had had "the most depressing August ever known in England." All I can say is (and I trust I am not giving a pair of rose-coloured spectacles away) that I have no recollection of the circumstance. It was not a depressing August to me—I can swear to that—and newspapers are notoriously sensational. "Ever known in England" is absurd on the face of it, as the utterance of a probably young man, and certainly of a man whose memory would not reach even as far as the Coronation of Queen Victoria. But I do remember, and frankly admit, that it was a wet day when I went to Kent for the first time. Not only wet, but cold.

But that only made the home-coming to C.'s hearth and heart the warmer.

Warm I knew it would be, but even the loving correspondence, undiscouraged by its frequent onesidedness, had not prepared me for the discovery I made of my peculiar and permanent place in her regard. Of the many happy experiences of life, few can match that of finding you have been one of the deities of a faithful heart for over twenty years of absence without knowing it. But that was only one of the surprises of the day. Having stupidly missed the significance of first-class passages and frequent Riviera winters, I had supposed myself bound for the sort of home that you assume your nursery governess comes from, whereas I arrived at a good country house, with fifty acres of estate to it, the property of her family for generations, and now belonging to her and three sisters jointly; an unpretentious establishment certainly, but handsomely appointed and correctly administered—not like the bush parsonage into which she had fitted herself so unassumingly. When packing in the morning I had rejoiced in the innocence of my heart that, for once, I need not bother myself with a lot of luggage; and I took for my week-end a bag which at a pinch I could have carried in my own hand. When evening came, and a bare-armed and bare-shouldered guest to meet me, and I had nothing but a short cloth skirt and a high-necked blouse to make a toilet of, I thought of something that an experienced globetrotter, fresh from the West African wilds, had once told me. "One thing I have found," said he: "wherever you go, if you haven't been there before," and he was speaking of the least likely places, "it is never safe to go without your evening clothes." I shall not forget that in future. The irony of fate was in it when C. offered me a black satin dinner-gown of her own. Sad—indeed, wild—as I was to be the one to seem to show disrespect to her house, it was something of a comfort to me to find that I had grown so fat in England (from seven stone five on landing to eight stone two the day before this day) that I could not make it meet by inches. I would sooner go to dinner in my petticoat than wear a stitch of anybody else's—even hers, like a daughter as she was; but I could not damp her loving solicitude by saying so.

She heaped luxuries upon me, even luxuries that she could not afford (because I know just how far a quarter of the income of even a nice estate as this was, in the chronic bad times of British agriculture, would go, and that she supplemented it by selling plants from her garden, and sometimes in other ways). When, after our great gossip over our tea by the drawing-room fire, I went upstairs to make bricks without straw, as it were, in my preparation for dinner, I found my pretty bedroom, in which the fine old mahogany shone like glass, exhaling her thoughtfulness all over it. In Australia, where your friends' buggies are also their luggage carts, and where railway porters are so precarious, you get into the habit of reducing your travelling kit to the minimum, and a bulky dressing-gown is one of the things that can be done without for a day or two, if you have an overcoat with you. I had left mine behind, and lo! there hung from a chair by my warm fireside a gorgeous robe of silk, embroidered outside, padded within, and beside it a pair of quilted satin shoes to match—to go to my bath with, although assuredly not meant for such humble use. That was the sort of thing. When a carriage was had all the way from Maidstone, and kept with no regard for the expense of wasted hours, I used the privilege of an old friend and mother to remonstrate with her.

"Oh, don't!" her face and voice checked me from doing it again. "If you only knew what this is to me!" Well, I did know, and it was knowledge to make one bless one's luck. How little we are aware of it when we are setting bread upon the waters! I had been absolutely unconscious of responsibility for this which came back to me after so many years.

It was only from Friday afternoon to Tuesday morning that I could stay with her on this occasion. But the best was made of that short time as far as she could manage it. I saw as much as possible of the famed Garden of England. Two months later, when I paid her the second visit, I saw a great deal more. Both times my luck in English weather was "in." My very first morning in Kent dawned bright and beautiful—after that cold and rainy eve—and the day was all delightful.

We had breakfast in a sunny little sitting-room upstairs, a room with lots of window light, and furniture covered with that calendered chintz, patterned with flowers on a white ground, which is as cheerful to the spirits as to the eye; C. and her sister who lived with her (the other two being married and in their own homes), and my contented self, their guest. Outside were lawn and old trees and plentiful autumn blossom; the sun poured in; a little fire added a final touch of comfort—for I must not be so low as to say it was bloaters and bacon (C. had remembered my talk of English bloaters in the long ago as she had remembered everything).

The admirable meal concluded I was taken a little walk about the place. The estate had once been devoted to hops, and the back premises of the solid old stone house were encircled by a great wall, broken with the hooded peaks of kilns and lined with immense warehouses, where the crops of the fields used to be treated and stored. Now the kilns were cold and out of gear; the granaries were stores for fruit and ladders and market baskets; and the bulk of the fifty acres of land bore orchards in heavy bearing. I had struck a Kentish fruit farm at apple harvest, which was a sight to see. Waggons were all day loading and driving off with their piles of cases for Covent Garden, yet the army of pickers seemed to make little impression upon the apparently countless millions of apples still rosily shining in the sun. Other fruits were grown, although not to the same extent, and there were lanes and thickets of cob-nut, which I was told is a very profitable commodity, if you have it, but the bushes had failed to bear that season. In view of the growing popularity of vegetarianism, to the charms of which I yielded myself in England, when I found how satisfactorily you could be fed by those who knew how to work the system properly, I advised the sister fruit-farmers to make more of a point of nuts; this was when they mourned sadly over the market price of apples in a good year. I told them how I had spent a week with vegetarians, expecting to be starved, and had been nourished on such rich non-flesh meats that I hardly cared to look at a boiled chicken when I went on to the next house. "Nuts," said I, "that can give you all the feeling of beef and mutton without the gross actuality, have a great future before them. So make haste and start growing them before the other fruit-farmers think of it."

The conformation of this Kentish orchard gave charming views of its several parts, of the pretty, down-dropping village and the distant landscape. There was a slope of applefield, flushed with the colour of its massed fruit in the sun, which sank to a lake with swans on it, on the far side of which an old mill dipped its wheel in the water; trees rose steeply behind the mill, and sweet old houses out of the trees. It was the top of hilly ridges of which the bottom was the famous Weald—and a subject for a painter if ever there was one. When I had walked about enough I visited the warehouses and hop kilns that walled the yard; saw F. wading in her sea of graded apples, directing the workmen whose only overseer she was; stood with C. in an empty oast house, while she reconstructed the busy scenes that were no more, the living functions of the idle furnace and flue, shoot and press, and told tales of a childhood beginning to loom away towards the fairyland where now my own abides. "We used to bring potatoes here, and the hop-dryer would bake them for us in the hot ashes"—alas! But why should I say alas? I am convinced—although I was not always convinced—that it is not a matter for repining that we "live but once."

The Maidstone carriage awaited the completion of an early lunch, and for nearly four hours of the lovely afternoon C. showed me the lovely country. I wish there were more adjectives equivalent to "lovely" and "beautiful," that I might not have to use those two so often; but I must express my feelings, and it is not my fault that the language of tongue and pen is so limited. Everything was lovely, and there is no other word for it but beautiful. I had not been to Devonshire then, but I still think the village of Linton, as I saw it in that weather, beyond compare. Not knowing what a Torquay horse could do, I wondered that ours did not take the hill in what seemed the easier way of sliding down it on his haunches; his labour on my account (but when he struggled upward again, by digging his toes into the cobbles provided for the purpose, I walked) was the only drawback to my almost intoxicating enjoyment of England on that day. I had never before seen the country save from the windows of trains, except in the eastern counties. The charms of English hills and dales were fresh. Not that that made any difference in their effect on me. I cannot believe for a moment that familiarity with such beauty could ever lessen the joy of it.

On the brow of Linton Hill I got out to look at the church. I am not, strictly speaking, a churchy person—this being, perhaps, one of the cases where familiarity runs its normal course—but these English reliquaries, with their histories and their architecture, had a fascination that drew me every time I saw a door open. I ran in alone, as I liked to do, while C. reposed in the carriage, conserving her strength, and the poor horse pulled himself together for the descent; and I looked through the chancel screening to that chapel of the Cornwallis tombs, to be almost startled by the white image of death and peace lying there, in cold and cloistered privacy, while without the sun shone so gloriously, and the happy living people basked and played and busied themselves in it, still possessing their lovely world. It was a sharply impressive thing, coming upon such a conjunction unawares.

By the way, I may as well say here that I took no notes of my English experiences at the time of happening, having no idea of writing a book about them, and I may sometimes mix things up. But I think I am certain that it was Linton Church and the Cornwallis monument and this first drive in Kent that went together.

Down that inexpressible village street we drove, past those dreams of old houses—labourers' cottages, as likely as not—which made my mouth water in envy of the labourers, who doubtless scorned them as out of fashion; and then there opened to us the Weald of Kent.

Perhaps I had better not begin upon the Weald of Kent. For one thing, it has been mentioned by other writers—and painters. We have a picture of it in our own Public Gallery in Melbourne. But, O paint! O words!

We meandered about high-hedged, lane-like, tree-shaded roads, which would have reminded me of Devonshire if I had been there first. We climbed the—to the horse with a big landau behind him—awful Hunton Hill (up which I walked). We passed Hunton Park, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's old home, or one of them. We called on a friend who gave us tea—tea—of a deliciousness commensurate with the craving for it induced by so much fresh air. We skirted many hopfields, in their full late-summer dress. We——

But if I go further I shall be violating the sanctities of private life by discovering to the public the nest that for the time being sheltered me. Suffice it that that drive was one of the drives of my life.

Our neighbouring town of Maidstone was closely investigated, as a matter of course. That perfect example of a sixteenth-century manor-house which is now the Museum, the far older Archbishop's Palace, magnificent All Saints' Church, and the relics of the historic past in back streets and byways, filled several afternoons with joy. But the country, in that sweetest weather—we did have rain and cold sometimes, but the best was always with me when I wanted it—the outdoor loveliness was the soul-saturating delight. Until as late in the year as I made my last visit this blessed luck held out. In the little pocket-book which contains the brief and only record of my movements at this time, I find the proof that memory is not drawing upon imagination:

"Oct. 30th.—Another gorgeous day, mild, sunny, summery ..."

"Oct. 31st.—Another fine day, although dull in the morning ..."

"Nov. 1st.—Beautiful day ..."

"Nov. 2nd.—Another lovely day ..."

"Nov. 3rd.—Another lovely day. Slightly foggy ..."

"Nov. 4th.—Still lovely, after the usual foggy dawn ..."

And then I think of the sort of weather they had in England the year before and the year after and bear in mind the sort of weather that an Australian is accustomed to!

It was on the 29th October that I went into Kent for the second and last time. That was the occasion when my other sixpenny porter failed me by putting me in the wrong carriage of my train, whereby I found myself at Rochester when C. was waiting for me at Maidstone. When I reached her house (to hear that she was still abroad searching for me) or, rather, when we met at last at the compensating tea-table, and I had leisure of mind to appreciate my surroundings, I thought Kent even lovelier than in the month of hop and apple harvest. My room was abloom with roses from C.'s garden (Madame Abel Chatney is, if I remember rightly, the name of the shaded pink beauty that made so brave a show), and a vase of the blue plumbago that riots like a wild thing in our Australian midsummer heat, but was here coddled in her greenhouse, displayed itself conspicuously on the chimney-piece to "remind me of home." The trees were yellowing and their leaves dropping gently, but the woods had not taken on their full colouring of decay as yet. The mistiness of the soft mornings only made the sunshine (and the breakfast fire in the little morning-room) the sweeter when it shone out.

It was on the "gorgeous day," 30th October, that we went to Malling Abbey.

Another of those villages or little country towns whose charms must inevitably be lost upon those who have always known them. There are houses in Malling (and I found them plentiful elsewhere) standing close upon the street—plain, flat-fronted, absolutely unpretentious, but genuine, dignified, high-bred, if one may use the term, in every inch of them—before which I stood in admiration that I am sure no home-staying English person could understand. Are they the real Queen Anne? Whatever they are they are good taste materialised. And if I could choose a home——

But no; on second thoughts, no—not in an English village or little town, all its loveliness notwithstanding. It is strange that for thirty-eight years the daydream of my partner and myself—an English-bred colonial clergyman's idea of mundane bliss—was just that life; to be "settled" in one of those peaceful and comfortable country rectories such as that in which we began our joint career. It seems to be his dream still, but it is no longer mine. When, on the third Sunday, after our return we walked through the fields and lanes to morning service at W——, and entered the village church (to be stared at by the rustic congregation with as much curiosity as when I wore my wedding bonnet and G. his first canonicals); and when after service we were invited, although we did not stay, to luncheon at the rectory, and saw the house which was our first home, and walked upon the lawn where we played croquet with the young friends who came to see us in our bridal retirement, now all old like us, or dead and gone—it came over me to wonder how it would have been if we had had our hearts' desire and stayed there or in a like place always. I thought of the living life that had been mine, and shuddered inwardly. So I did whenever I looked upon a pretty parsonage house distant from railways and centres of intellectual activity—and I saw so many of them; my first thought was: "Oh, what a sweet home I could have made of this!" My swiftly following second: "What appalling loneliness!" Somehow a bush hut in the Back Blocks does not suggest such isolation for a cultivated mind and a spirit awake to the movements of the world as these stately rectories and vicarages in the small villages of England. One suspects it is not easy to keep awake in them. But I may be wrong.

At Malling Abbey it was still more forcibly borne in upon me how I had grown away from the attitudes of my youth.

The glorious old place—the eleventh-century tower has for its base the foundations of a Saxon church, that is nothing for England—now belongs to, or is occupied by, a community of nuns and their priest-chaplain; English Benedictines is the correct label for them, I believe. The only members of the household not too sacred for the common use of visitors were the lay-women, and even they could not take us across the line separating the earth and floors allowed to unconsecrated feet from the precincts trodden by the Mother Superior and her nuns. The rooms they occupied we could not see—not for love or money (and we dropped no mean donation into the box displayed in the neutral vestibule); nor their chapel, although the priest's chapel was shown to us. A late Mother Superior had been more indulgent to the respectful curiosity of the wayfarer, but the present Mother was "very strict," we were told. So we did not so much as catch a glimpse of sacerdotal raiment, except that of the priest taking the place of the absent chaplain—austere in his caped cassock and biretta—and the Sister who had once been the sweet-maker, and who dropped in to see her successor, who was her own sister, while we were with the latter—a pleasant girl, with whom C. had an acquaintance, and who was a charming hostess to us.

She worked very hard—for love, plus board and lodging—at the making of the sweets (in Australian parlance, lollies) which were an important source of revenue to the community. She made them in large quantities and of high quality, and they had a steady sale amongst those who knew of them, the high church aristocracy being the "connection" chiefly. C. and I, both interested in fine cookery, had a great time in her workroom, filled and lined with the materials, appliances and finished products of her vicarious trade. She showed us everything without any professional reserve or personal pride, explaining over and over again that she had not the genius of the sister she had superseded. The sister had been the famous sweet-maker; her humble self had taken, but could not fill, that expert's place. But the expert had put on the habit of the Order, and "When you have to go to church seven times a day, you have no time for sweet-making," said our lay friend, unconscious of the meanings borne by her words to a life-taught, world-taught listener. When the sweet-maker who had entered the Sisterhood, which, so far as I could learn, had no definite occupation except to pray and meditate, lingered for a minute at her old cooking-table, looking on at the really arduous labours of her successor, there was no evidence in her demeanour of any doubt as to which of the two stood on the higher plane.

Well, I was even as these dear, dense women when I was young. I wanted (at about the age of seventeen) to go into a sisterhood and say prayers all day instead of living my life. And I was so morally undeveloped, so intellectually juvenile, as to believe that I would thereby be performing a noble, if not even the noblest, deed. Supposing I had not been shaken out of my groove—the old hereditary groove, so deeply worn that one does not see over the edges unless one is pushed up—where should I have been now? I asked myself the question at Malling Abbey, standing between the Mary in the black gown and white wimple and the Martha making fondu with all her might, and the answers of a startled imagination sent cold chills adown my spine.

Our unemancipated, unappreciated Martha was quite delightful to us. The proud Marys would not let us near them, but she did all she could to serve and oblige us—she and the dear old housekeeper of the chaplain, who, in her reverend lord's absence and out of the human kindness of her heart, stretched a point to please a stranger from so far, and allowed me to peep into the home he had made in the ancient gatehouse; an austerely and appropriately appointed one as ever I saw, but suggesting, oh, what a life for a man with his manhood in him! The sweet-maker not only gave us sweets and the secrets of their manufacture, she took chairs for us into the abbey grounds, that we might take our picnic luncheon in comfort; not, of course, in the garden, for the nuns walked there, but beside a pond with willow-trees—a typical bit of convent ground which I seemed to have visited in a previous existence. As we ate our sandwiches, and viewed through sylvan veils the grey jumble of the ancient buildings and the new but not discordant Guest House incorporated with them, the Twentieth Century and its works seemed very far away.

I think it was the chaplain's housekeeper who showed us the Pilgrims' Bath—a place of weird suggestions. It is a stone outhouse hidden in trees, and containing a sunk stone tank, with stone steps going down into it. Here, in the bygone ages, the pilgrims washed themselves, or were washed, before entering the sacred precincts. The cistern was empty now, and there was no apparatus for taking water out of it. In those pre-hygienic days ... However, it was interesting to know that washing was done at all.

The Guest House looked the abode of peace. It takes in lady boarders, for the pecuniary benefit of the community—which, if it does not work for its living, must still be supported somehow—and how I would have loved to be one, if I had stayed in my groove! Even as it was, the sweet seclusion and simplicity and refinement of the life fascinated me intensely. But the Guest House is presided over by a "Guest Mistress," and liberty is the basis of peace, as of all forms of happiness—to me. She may be a darling, but I could not stand her now. The guests will all have to be women of the Church and not of the world, souls in steady grooves of tradition from which they have never been shaken out. To them, if they are tired, it should be an ideal place of rest. One thing I wish I had asked the sweet-maker: Are they allowed to worship in the nuns' chapel? Surely not, if we were not permitted even to look at it. In the priest's chapel, then? That seems too small, and I think I saw no seat for a congregation of more than two—his housekeeper and under maid. Perhaps the paying guests are sent to the parish church. But suppose the rector of Malling (I know nothing of him) should be an Evangelical? One thing is certain. They will have to go to church somewhere, and to go often.

For nearly a thousand years the tower of this old abbey has stood where it now stands, and who knows for how many years the Saxon church which laid its foundations stood there before it? As I looked up at its lofty broken crown, and down and around upon the structures beneath it, I thought how many things beside stone walls outlive their time and use and meaning.

On 1st November—a "beautiful day"—we went to Sutton Vallance. November was the month of departure, and this, the last of my country excursions, was peculiarly interesting and memorable. For at Sutton Vallance my beloved godmother, the eldest aunt, had lived for some years, and in the graveyard of the parish church she lies—carried there by her last wish when she died in London. In girlhood I had wanted to visit her at this place, and had not been able; after her death I made a promise to myself that I would keep tryst with her dear ghost at the Kentish graveside some day, if ever I got the chance.

It was not for that, however, that the expedition to Sutton Vallance was planned. The claims of life came foremost, and it was life, not death, that called us thither, a set of circumstances to which I gladly yielded precedence over any affair of mine.

To C. and her sister came, the day before, two friends from the West Indies, a pleasant man and wife. They represented old families of their island, and his had the custom of colonial gentlefolk, the world over, of sending their sons home to be educated. He was himself an "old boy" of Sutton Vallance Grammar School, as I think he said his father had been, and as he intended his own sons to be in due course. He was delightedly revisiting England after years of absence—from fifteen to twenty, perhaps—and to him the heart of England was this village above the Weald and the old buildings that crowned it. We went to Sutton Vallance that he might report himself to his old Headmaster, still in harness, and show his wife the studies and dormitories, prayer-room and playing grounds, where he had lived his schoolboy life, and where her children would live theirs in the days to come. We had the landau from Maidstone again, and set forth a party of five; if we had been a party of a hundred instead, I do not think another member of it could have entered into his feelings as I did. In the sympathy engendered by the similarity of our circumstances, I enjoyed the afternoon, I am sure, as much as he did—the neglected grave notwithstanding.

We passed it—the churchyard where I knew it was—while he was eagerly identifying each little feature of the road as the scene of some schoolboy prank or other; he spoke of the path beside which my dear one lay, to describe the order in which the school was marched to church—"through that gate ... in at that door"—and I did not bring upon the living brightness of his hour a suggestion of the shadows that would fall all too soon in any case.

The 1st of November was a Sunday. His time in England, like mine, was short, and this was the only day available for the momentous visit. It had to be now, or perhaps never. So, when we reached the school, temporary disappointments were encountered. The Headmaster was out. So was the only under master left of the old staff. The strange matron and some elder boys, deeply interested in a guest with such credentials, did what they could to repair the loss, and he played host to his wife and us. It was delightful to observe and to listen to him as he rummaged over the place; to hear him and the matron instructing each other in the differences between Then and Now; to see him with his old boy's hand on the young boys' shoulders—"you fellows"—telling them what Sybarites they were with their hot water laid on, and inquiring of them how the sporting credit of the old shop stood in comparison with that of rival schools. I am afraid it was found that the old shop had fallen from grace in some particulars; the mother of the boys who were to go there in a few years was certainly critical, and I had seen schools as big that were better ordered in my own country overseas; but it was full of interest, plus precious associations, for me as for him, and that was distinctly a "happy day"—happy for me, the neglected grave notwithstanding; while as for him, I prophesy that in his old age he will look back upon it as one of the happiest of his life.

It would hardly have been that without a sight of his old Headmaster. And when we had quite "done" the school, and were down on the street where our carriage waited, an inward reluctance to make an end just there was felt by all, and resulted in suggestions calculated to give the Headmaster another chance. The hour was late, we were far from home, and—we had had no tea. F. proposed that we should forage in the village for our evening meal. I demurred on behalf of C. and the secret weaknesses. C. said the night air would do her no harm inside the carriage, and that she would wind a scarf over her mouth. Then F. named a local house of entertainment. "No, no," said our Old Boy, "you must come with me to the old tuck shop"—which in the palmy days, it seemed, had been good for every comforting kind of meal. This we did. The old tuck shop was found to be in its old place, unchanged; even the old proprietor (who looked ninety) and his old wife (who still looked young) were there; they and the Old Boy all but fell into each other's arms. We were shown into an inner parlour, a table was swiftly spread and piled with good things, including a sufficient teapot; and we four ladies rested and refreshed ourselves in great content. The Old Boy dodged in and out, snatching a cake or a slice of bread-and-butter, returning to talk with his old friends, reappearing for a gulp of tea and to gaze ardently out of the unblinded window adown the darkening street. Anon we saw him through that same window sprinting as for his life after a vanishing bicycle. When he came back, in about half-an-hour, it was to express his satisfaction at having caught, made himself known to, and had a nice chat with, the remaining under master. So night closed around us, and the great hope of the day was given up.

Suddenly, as we were all sitting together, about to summon our coachman, who had also had his tea, there was a stir outside, the door of our parlour was impetuously flung open, and a tall old man strode in, at sight of whom the Old Boy sprang to his feet with an inarticulate grunt of joy.

I felt that it was a meeting we should not have witnessed, but it was good to witness it. The swift interchange of words told what their relations in the past had been, but the tones of voice, the glow of eyes, the grip of hands, still more. I could not easily forget the face of the younger man when he said he had sons for the old school, nor the face of the elder taking that tribute of filial loyalty. In the gap of years lay the grave of the Headmaster's wife, and he was not destined to train up another generation; the Old Boy was a strong and useful man of the world, come into his inheritance of all that a boy of the right sort grows up for. He introduced his wife. The stress of repressed emotion was relieved. Would we not all come back and dine with him, the Headmaster asked. He begged us to do so, but we could not. Then would we all come back and dine with him to-morrow? Again we could not. The Old Boy's business of life compelled his return to London next morning. So the great occasion passed. The Headmaster gripped hands again, and returned to the school which would be ever the dearer to him for these few minutes out of it; and the Old Boy stood amongst us visibly transfigured, like Moses just down from the Mount.

"Now," said he intensely, "do you wonder at my wanting to come back to my old school?"

Subdued and thoughtful and silent, we drove home. Moonlight and fog wove the veil of evening through which glimmered the headstones of the churchyard as we went by. There was not time now to stop the carriage and pay my own tribute to the past and dear. Already C. was too late, and there was not light to distinguish one grave from another. Well, it did not matter whether I stood over my beloved one's coffined dust or looked from a few yards' distance at the dim grass covering it. That which haunted the spot was just as close to me.

There were three more days—"another lovely day," when my husband came to fetch me; and yet "another lovely day, slightly foggy," when we took him to Maidstone to show him the sights that I had seen; and one that was "still lovely, after the usual foggy dawn," which was November the 4th, and our last in Kent.

But these were days when C.'s thoughts and mine were not concentrated upon the pleasures and businesses in hand—when the blue plumbago in my bedroom was not needed for any purpose but to look lovely against the wall. November was the month of departure. In another fortnight I was to be upon the sea. Towards the sea and the south my face was set, and she knew what it was I looked for. All the charms of Kent in the golden weather could not now deflect my gaze. England is Home indeed to the English-born. The dear world in every part is Home to the spirit that loves life and freedom, and discerns no frontiers between nation and nation, nor barriers between man and man. But there is one wee spot, one house amongst the countless millions of human dwellings—no matter in what hole or corner you have tucked it—that is the only place on earth, or in the universe for that matter, where your heart, if it be a mother's heart, can rest.



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