Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Elizabeth von Arnim's Garden Books


Read the books below...

Enchanted April

Room with a View


Garden Inspirations



Elizabeth's The Enchanted April

Elizabeth and her German Garden published in 1898, was Elizabeth von Arnim's most popular book, and it is still entertaining today. 

It is ostensibly the diary of a woman who is creating a garden, but it is really a novel about her unusual views on life, society, and her friends.



The book was so popular, reprinted many times in the first year of publication, that while some of her 20 other books were published under her pseudonym of Alice Cholmondeley, they always had the text 'By the author of Elizabeth and her German Garden'. 

The companion book, published a year later, in 1899, was The Solitary Summer.



The books were published anonymously, and it was popular in the beginning for people to speculate who could have written it.

The book has been cited as a feminist novel because the character often escapes from her life as an aristocratic woman into her garden, to read, think, philosophize, and to imagine how she would behave if society would let her.

Ironically, it was the writing of the book, and the subsequent books, that allowed Elizabeth to live a life very free of society's rules.

Elizabeth built her own home in Switzerland, bought a Chateau in France, traveled freely, had lovers including at least one lover who was many years her junior, and abandoned and later divorced an abusive husband.


In 1900 a fully illustrated, or perhaps illuminated would be a more accurate term, edition of Elizabeth and Her German Garden was issued.  Each page was decorated as if it were an actual diary or journal, as if it were covered in doodles by Elizabeth herself.  (It is at the Internet Archive: (April Baby's book of Tunes: with the story of how they came to be written is also at the Internet Archive: )


Kate Greenaway's illustration of April, May and June Babies from Elizabeth's next book:  April Baby's book of Tunes: with the story of how they came to be written


In 1906, an edition of Elizabeth and her German Garden illustrated with water colors by Simon Harmon Vedder was published.  I include his illustrations with the text below.  (It is at the Internet Archive:



Here is the mini-bio from the Find a Grave site, with their image, of Elizabeth's grave stone above her brother Sydney's.  She requested her ashes be mixed with his.  Elizabeth's grave stone at St. Margaret Churchyard, Tylers Green, Buckinghamshire, England (From Find a Grave)

"Birth: Aug. 31, 1866, Death: Feb. 9, 1941

Australian writer. Mary Annette Beauchamp was born in Sydney, New South Wales, the daughter of Henry Herron Beauchamp and Elizabeth Weiss Lassetter. Her father's brother was the grandfather of Katherine Mansfield (nee Beauchamp), the New Zealand writer of short stories.

In 1891, May, as she was known to her family, married, in London, Count Henning August von Arnim, a Prussian landowner fifteen years her senior, whom she had met in Italy. The couple lived for five years in Berlin, then moved to Nassenheide, the family estate in Pomerania. This was the setting for her first book, "Elizabeth and her German Garden" (1898), which was published anonymously.

Although the Count appears in the book as "The Man of Wrath", the marriage appears to have been a very happy one. In 1908, however, they were forced by debt to move to England, with their four daughters and one son; and, two years after that, the Count died.

His widow continued to live in England, France and Switzerland. In 1916, she became the third wife of the second Earl Russell, but this marriage was not such a happy one, and the pair soon separated. Earl Russell died in 1931 and was succeeded to the title by his brother Bertrand, the philosopher.

The Countess went on to write twenty more books, all of which were published either anonymously, or credited as being 'By the author of "Elizabeth and her German Garden."' The best-known of these are: "The Enchanted April" (1926), which was filmed in 1935 and again in 1994; and her final novel, "Mr. Skeffington" (1940) which was filmed in 1940 with Bette Davis and Claude Rains.

Although "Elizabeth" died in Charleston, South Carolina, her ashes were brought back to Buckinghamshire in England. Her epitaph, "Parva sed apta", may be translated as "Small but appropriate", and is taken from the inscription which Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533) had carved on his house in Ferrara. (bio by: Iain MacFarlaine) "



You can adjust the text size in your browser for ease of reading.  And you can copy this page to your computer, or print this page if you wish to have a hardcopy of these books.  I have The Enchanted April on my site.  And the online Project Gutenberg has more von Arnim books you can read online:  Christopher and Columbus, Princess Priscilla's Fortnight, The Benefactress.

I have written about Elizabeth von Arnim on my page dedicated to her novella The Enchanted April.  That book is set at a villa with a magical garden overlooking Portofino.  So if you wish to know about that book, or wish to read The Enchanted April on this site, you should go to that page.

On this page, I have Elizabeth's first two novels, which were fictionalized versions of her own life, with her beloved husband, Count Henning August von Arnim, on their estate in Nassenheide, Pomerania.  When they lived there, it was part of Germany (it is now part of Poland). 

Count von Arnim had many responsibilities as the landed aristocrat who managed the feudal-like region, and Elizabeth had many responsibilities as his wife, not least of which making sausages and visiting her husband's peasant workers, and managing the home and garden and her children's education.  Elizabeth talks about these things in Elizabeth and Her German Garden.


Young Elizabeth.


But the Count had many financial drains on his living, largely coming from the German military, who required aristocrats to house and feed whole battalions when they were training nearby.  The Count also had to maintain the local church and pastor, provide for the local peasantry, manage the local forests and rivers, and provide coastal protection such as lighthouses.  The financial drains eventually landed the Count in prison for a time for fraud.

It was at this point that Elizabeth, at urging from her friends who had long admired her witty journal entries, fashioned them into two novelsElizabeth and her German Garden and The Solitary Summer

They were great successes, the first novel going through many reprintings in its first year.  They launched Elizabeth's writing career, which came to include 20 novels, none quite as close to her real life as these two.  For more about the real Elizabeth, you have to read her highly praised, and very witty, autobiography All The Dogs of my Life.


A more mature Elizabeth


Elizabeth re-imagined herself in these first two novels as an German aristocrat, who loved English and England, and who had many English friends.  She sets out to restore the gardens of her husband's country estate and records her thoughts and actions in her diary.  For us, today, Elizabeth's story is like a time capsule of a lost period of history, as seen through the eyes of a very modern sounding woman, with great wit and self-reflective powers.

It is good to recall that these books came out after Count von Arnim was already in prison for fraud.  Elizabeth includes in these novels the financial and social obligations of her husband, and mentions that all Germans fear, with good reason, the arbitrary and harsh German legal system. 

She also jokingly calls her husband The Sage, for his many pontifical pronouncements, especially about woman, which frustratingly prove all too true.  She also calls him The Man of Wrath, referring to his heated temperament, which is only ever directed at others, never at his wife, with whom he is overly indulgent and always loving and supportive.  She even says he loves her original character and eccentric ways, and married her because she was so unlike other women.  She dedicates the companion book, The Solitary Summer, to her husband.


You should ignore the various notes on the web that suggest Elizabeth's first husband was anything other than loved by Elizabeth.  Elizabeth wrote that she loved him dearly, he indulged her in all she ever wanted, and she mourned him with many, many tears for many years after his death in 1910, after they had sold their estates in Germany and gone to live in Britain.  It was her second marriage, to the Earl Russell, that was a disaster. 

Elizabeth had 5 children with Count von Arnim:  4 daughters and one son.  She wrote about her first three young daughters in these two novels, calling them by the name of the month in which they were born:  April Baby, May Baby, June Baby.



Kate Greenaway's illustration of April, May and June Babies


Readers loved the children in these novels, so much, that in 1900 Elizabeth published a children's book named for one of the children:  April Baby's Book of Tunes: with the story of how they came to be written.  It is the story of Elizabeth and her three daughters, and how she entertains them one winter with songs.  It features their very cute dialogs, like those that readers loved in her first two books, and it provides the words and music for many children's tunes.


Kate Greenaway's illustration of April, May and June Babies


Elizabeth's third book, The Benefactress, from 1902, was about a young English woman who moves to Germany to manage a small estate left her by a German uncle.  She falls in love with a man who ends up in prison.  In that story, the arbitrary, harsh and frightening German legal system is exposed through the eyes of an English woman. 

The von Arnim estates that Elizabeth described so lovingly and admiringly in these two books are today in Poland, the estate buildings in ruins, and Elizabeth's garden, sadly, long reclaimed by the surrounding countryside.

(Visit this literature site for an interesting mini-bio of Elizabeth von Arnim, that mentions all her books.)



Elizabeth and her German Garden


The Solitary Summer


 Elizabeth Von Arnim




by Elizabeth Von Arnim



May 7th.


I love my garden.  I am writing in it now in the late afternoon loveliness, much interrupted by the mosquitoes and the temptation to look at all the glories of the new green leaves washed half an hour ago in a cold shower.  Two owls are perched near me, and are carrying on a long conversation that I enjoy as much as any warbling of nightingales.  The gentleman owl says and she answers from her tree a little way off, beautifully assenting to and completing her lord's remark, as becomes a properly constructed German she-owl.  They say the same thing over and over again so emphatically that I think it must be something nasty about me; but I shall not let myself be frightened away by the sarcasm of owls.

This is less a garden than a wilderness.  No one has lived in the house, much less in the garden, for twenty-five years, and it is such a pretty old place that the people who might have lived here and did not, deliberately preferring the horrors of a flat in a town, must have belonged to that vast number of eyeless and earless persons of whom the world seems chiefly composed.  Noseless too, though it does not sound pretty; but the greater part of my spring happiness is due to the scent of the wet earth and young leaves.

I am always happy (out of doors be it understood, for indoors there are servants and furniture) but in quite different ways, and my spring happiness bears no resemblance to my summer or autumn happiness, though it is not more intense, and there were days last winter when I danced for sheer joy out in my frost-bound garden, in spite of my years and children.  But I did it behind a bush, having a due regard for the decencies.


There are so many bird-cherries round me, great trees with branches sweeping the grass, and they are so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that the garden looks like a wedding.  I never saw such masses of them; they seem to fill the place.  Even across a little stream that bounds the garden on the east, and right in the middle of the cornfield beyond, there is an immense one, a picture of grace and glory against the cold blue of the spring sky.

My garden is surrounded by cornfields and meadows, and beyond are great stretches of sandy heath and pine forests, and where the forests leave off the bare heath begins again; but the forests are beautiful in their lofty, pink-stemmed vastness, far overhead the crowns of softest gray-green, and underfoot a bright green wortleberry carpet, and everywhere the breathless silence; and the bare heaths are beautiful too, for one can see across them into eternity almost, and to go out on to them with one's face towards the setting sun is like going into the very presence of God.

In the middle of this plain is the oasis of bird-cherries and greenery where I spend my happy days, and in the middle of the oasis is the gray stone house with many gables where I pass my reluctant nights.  The house is very old, and has been added to at various times.  It was a convent before the Thirty Years' War, and the vaulted chapel, with its brick floor worn by pious peasant knees, is now used as a hall.  Gustavus Adolphus and his Swedes passed through more than once, as is duly recorded in archives still preserved, for we are on what was then the high-road between Sweden and Brandenburg the unfortunate.  The Lion of the North was no doubt an estimable person and acted wholly up to his convictions, but he must have sadly upset the peaceful nuns, who were not without convictions of their own, sending them out on to the wide, empty plain to piteously seek some life to replace the life of silence here.


From nearly all the windows of the house I can look out across the plain, with no obstacle in the shape of a hill, right away to a blue line of distant forest, and on the west side uninterruptedly to the setting sun -- nothing but a green, rolling plain, with a sharp edge against the sunset.  I love those west windows better than any others, and have chosen my bedroom on that side of the house so that even times of hair-brushing may not be entirely lost, and the young woman who attends to such matters has been taught to fulfill her duties about a mistress recumbent in an easychair before an open window, and not to profane with chatter that sweet and solemn time.  This girl is grieved at my habit of living almost in the garden, and all her ideas as to the sort of life a respectable German lady should lead have got into a sad muddle since she came to me.  The people round about are persuaded that I am, to put it as kindly as possible, exceedingly eccentric, for the news has travelled that I spend the day out of doors with a book, and that no mortal eye has ever yet seen me sew or cook.  But why cook when you can get some one to cook for you?  And as for sewing, the maids will hem the sheets better and quicker than I could, and all forms of needlework of the fancy order are inventions of the evil one for keeping the foolish from applying their heart to wisdom.

We had been married five years before it struck us that we might as well make use of this place by coming down and living in it.  Those five years were spent in a flat in a town, and during their whole interminable length I was perfectly miserable and perfectly healthy, which disposes of the ugly notion that has at times disturbed me that my happiness here is less due to the garden than to a good digestion.  And while we were wasting our lives there, here was this dear place with dandelions up to the very door, all the paths grass-grown and completely effaced, in winter so lonely, with nobody but the north wind taking the least notice of it, and in May -- in all those five lovely Mays -- no one to look at the wonderful bird-cherries and still more wonderful masses of lilacs, everything glowing and blowing, the Virginia creeper madder every year, until at last, in October, the very roof was wreathed with blood-red tresses, the owls and the squirrels and all the blessed little birds reigning supreme, and not a living creature ever entering the empty house except the snakes, which got into the habit during those silent years of wriggling up the south wall into the rooms on that side whenever the old housekeeper opened the windows.  All that was here,  --  peace, and happiness, and a reasonable life,  --  and yet it never struck me to come and live in it.  Looking back I am astonished, and can in no way account for the tardiness of my discovery that here, in this far-away corner, was my kingdom of heaven.  Indeed, so little did it enter my head to even use the place in summer, that I submitted to weeks of seaside life with all its horrors every year; until at last, in the early spring of last year, having come down for the opening of the village school, and wandering out afterwards into the bare and desolate garden, I don't know what smell of wet earth or rotting leaves brought back my childhood with a rush and all the happy days I had spent in a garden.  Shall I ever forget that day?  It was the beginning of my real life, my coming of age as it were, and entering into my kingdom.  Early March, gray, quiet skies, and brown, quiet earth; leafless and sad and lonely enough out there in the damp and silence, yet there I stood feeling the same rapture of pure delight in the first breath of spring that I used to as a child, and the five wasted years fell from me like a cloak, and the world was full of hope, and I vowed myself then and there to nature, and have been happy ever since.

My other half being indulgent, and with some faint thought perhaps that it might be as well to look after the place, consented to live in it at any rate for a time; whereupon followed six specially blissful weeks from the end of April into June, during which I was here alone, supposed to be superintending the painting and papering, but as a matter of fact only going into the house when the workmen had gone out of it.

How happy I was!  I don't remember any time quite so perfect since the days when I was too little to do lessons and was turned out with sugar on my eleven o'clock bread and butter on to a lawn closely strewn with dandelions and daisies.  The sugar on the bread and butter has lost its charm, but I love the dandelions and daisies even more passionately now than then, and never would endure to see them all mown away if I were not certain that in a day or two they would be pushing up their little faces again as jauntily as ever.  During those six weeks I lived in a world of dandelions and delights.  The dandelions carpeted the three lawns,  --  they used to be lawns, but have long since blossomed out into meadows filled with every sort of pretty weed, -- and under and among the groups of leafless oaks and beeches were blue hepaticas, white anemones, violets, and celandines in sheets.  The celandines in particular delighted me with their clean, happy brightness, so beautifully trim and newly varnished, as though they too had had the painters at work on them.  Then, when the anemones went, came a few stray periwinkles and Solomon's Seal, and all the bird-cherries blossomed in a burst.  And then, before I had a little got used to the joy of their flowers against the sky, came the lilacs -- masses and masses of them, in clumps on the grass, with other shrubs and trees by the side of walks, and one great continuous bank of them half a mile long right past the west front of the house, away down as far as one could see, shining glorious against a background of firs.  When that time came, and when, before it was over, the acacias all blossomed too, and four great clumps of pale, silvery-pink peonies flowered under the south windows, I felt so absolutely happy, and blest, and thankful, and grateful, that I really cannot describe it.  My days seemed to melt away in a dream of pink and purple peace.

There were only the old housekeeper and her handmaiden in the house, so that on the plea of not giving too much trouble I could indulge what my other half calls my fantaisie dereglee as regards meals -- that is to say, meals so simple that they could be brought out to the lilacs on a tray; and I lived, I remember, on salad and bread and tea the whole time, sometimes a very tiny pigeon appearing at lunch to save me, as the old lady thought, from starvation.  Who but a woman could have stood salad for six weeks, even salad sanctified by the presence and scent of the most gorgeous lilac masses?  I did, and grew in grace every day, though I have never liked it since.  How often now, oppressed by the necessity of assisting at three dining-room meals daily, two of which are conducted by the functionaries held indispensable to a proper maintenance of the family dignity, and all of which are pervaded by joints of meat, how often do I think of my salad days, forty in number, and of the blessedness of being alone as I was then alone!

And then the evenings, when the workmen had all gone and the house was left to emptiness and echoes, and the old housekeeper had gathered up her rheumatic limbs into her bed, and my little room in quite another part of the house had been set ready, how reluctantly I used to leave the friendly frogs and owls, and with my heart somewhere down in my shoes lock the door to the garden behind me, and pass through the long series of echoing south rooms full of shadows and ladders and ghostly pails of painters' mess, and humming a tune to make myself believe I liked it, go rather slowly across the brick-floored hall, up the creaking stairs, down the long whitewashed passage, and with a final rush of panic whisk into my room and double lock and bolt the door!

There were no bells in the house, and I used to take a great dinner-bell to bed with me so that at least I might be able to make a noise if frightened in the night, though what good it would have been I don't know, as there was no one to hear.  The housemaid slept in another little cell opening out of mine, and we two were the only living creatures in the great empty west wing.  She evidently did not believe in ghosts, for I could hear how she fell asleep immediately after getting into bed; nor do I believe in them, mais je les redoute, as a French lady said, who from her books appears to have been strong-minded.

The dinner-bell was a great solace; it was never rung, but it comforted me to see it on the chair beside my bed, as my nights were anything but placid, it was all so strange, and there were such queer creakings and other noises.  I used to lie awake for hours, startled out of a light sleep by the cracking of some board, and listen to the indifferent snores of the girl in the next room.  In the morning, of course, I was as brave as a lion and much amused at the cold perspirations of the night before; but even the nights seem to me now to have been delightful, and myself like those historic boys who heard a voice in every wind and snatched a fearful joy.  I would gladly shiver through them all over again for the sake of the beautiful purity of the house, empty of servants and upholstery.

How pretty the bedrooms looked with nothing in them but their cheerful new papers!  Sometimes I would go into those that were finished and build all sorts of castles in the air about their future and their past.  Would the nuns who had lived in them know their little white-washed cells again, all gay with delicate flower papers and clean white paint?  And how astonished they would be to see cell No.  14 turned into a bathroom, with a bath big enough to insure a cleanliness of body equal to their purity of soul!  They would look upon it as a snare of the tempter; and I know that in my own case I only began to be shocked at the blackness of my nails the day that I began to lose the first whiteness of my soul by falling in love at fifteen with the parish organist, or rather with the glimpse of surplice and Roman nose and fiery moustache which was all I ever saw of him, and which I loved to distraction for at least six months; at the end of which time, going out with my governess one day, I passed him in the street, and discovered that his unofficial garb was a frock-coat combined with a turn-down collar and a "bowler" hat, and never loved him any more.

The first part of that time of blessedness was the most perfect, for I had not a thought of anything but the peace and beauty all round me.  Then he appeared suddenly who has a right to appear when and how he will and rebuked me for never having written, and when I told him that I had been literally too happy to think of writing, he seemed to take it as a reflection on himself that I could be happy alone.  I took him round the garden along the new paths I had had made, and showed him the acacia and lilac glories, and he said that it was the purest selfishness to enjoy myself when neither he nor the offspring were with me, and that the lilacs wanted thoroughly pruning.  I tried to appease him by offering him the whole of my salad and toast supper which stood ready at the foot of the little verandah steps when we came back, but nothing appeased that Man of Wrath, and he said he would go straight back to the neglected family.  So he went; and the remainder of the precious time was disturbed by twinges of conscience (to which I am much subject) whenever I found myself wanting to jump for joy.  I went to look at the painters every time my feet were for taking me to look at the garden; I trotted diligently up and down the passages; I criticised and suggested and commanded more in one day than I had done in all the rest of the time; I wrote regularly and sent my love; but I could not manage to fret and yearn.  What are you to do if your conscience is clear and your liver in order and the sun is shining?

May 10th.

I knew nothing whatever last year about gardening and this year know very little more, but I have dawnings of what may be done, and have at least made one great stride -- from ipomaea to tea-roses.

The garden was an absolute wilderness.  It is all round the house, but the principal part is on the south side and has evidently always been so.  The south front is one-storied, a long series of rooms opening one into the other, and the walls are covered with Virginia creeper.  There is a little verandah in the middle, leading by a flight of rickety wooden steps down into what seems to have been the only spot in the whole place that was ever cared for.  This is a semicircle cut into the lawn and edged with privet, and in this semicircle are eleven beds of different sizes bordered with box and arranged round a sun-dial, and the sun-dial is very venerable and moss-grown, and greatly beloved by me.  These beds were the only sign of any attempt at gardening to be seen (except a solitary crocus that came up all by itself each spring in the grass, not because it wanted to, but because it could not help it), and these I had sown with ipomaea, the whole eleven, having found a German gardening book, according to which ipomaea in vast quantities was the one thing needful to turn the most hideous desert into a paradise.  Nothing else in that book was recommended with anything like the same warmth, and being entirely ignorant of the quantity of seed necessary, I bought ten pounds of it and had it sown not only in the eleven beds but round nearly every tree, and then waited in great agitation for the promised paradise to appear.  It did not, and I learned my first lesson.


Luckily I had sown two great patches of sweetpeas which made me very happy all the summer, and then there were some sunflowers and a few hollyhocks under the south windows, with Madonna lilies in between.  But the lilies, after being transplanted, disappeared to my great dismay, for how was I to know it was the way of lilies?  And the hollyhocks turned out to be rather ugly colours, so that my first summer was decorated and beautified solely by sweet-peas.  At present we are only just beginning to breathe after the bustle of getting new beds and borders and paths made in time for this summer.  The eleven beds round the sun-dial are filled with roses, but I see already that I have made mistakes with some.  As I have not a living soul with whom to hold communion on this or indeed on any matter, my only way of learning is by making mistakes.  All eleven were to have been carpeted with purple pansies, but finding that I had not enough and that nobody had any to sell me, only six have got their pansies, the others being sown with dwarf mignonette.  Two of the eleven are filled with Marie van Houtte roses, two with Viscountess Folkestone, two with Laurette Messimy, one with Souvenir de la Malmaison, one with Adam and Devoniensis, two with Persian Yellow and Bicolor, and one big bed behind the sun-dial with three sorts of red roses (seventy-two in all), Duke of Teck, Cheshunt Scarlet, and Prefet de Limburg.  This bed is, I am sure, a mistake, and several of the others are, I think, but of course I must wait and see, being such an ignorant person.  Then I have had two long beds made in the grass on either side of the semicircle, each sown with mignonette, and one filled with Marie van Houtte, and the other with Jules Finger and the Bride; and in a warm corner under the drawing-room windows is a bed of Madame Lambard, Madame de Watteville, and Comtesse Riza du Parc; while farther down the garden, sheltered on the north and west by a group of beeches and lilacs, is another large bed, containing Rubens, Madame Joseph Schwartz, and the Hen. Edith Gifford.  All these roses are dwarf; I have only two standards in the whole garden, two Madame George Bruants, and they look like broomsticks.  How I long for the day when the tea-roses open their buds!  Never did I look forward so intensely to anything; and every day I go the rounds, admiring what the dear little things have achieved in the twenty-four hours in the way of new leaf or increase of lovely red shoot.

The hollyhocks and lilies (now flourishing) are still under the south windows in a narrow border on the top of a grass slope, at the foot of which I have sown two long borders of sweetpeas facing the rose beds, so that my roses may have something almost as sweet as themselves to look at until the autumn, when everything is to make place for more tea-roses.  The path leading away from this semicircle down the garden is bordered with China roses, white and pink, with here and there a Persian Yellow.  I wish now I had put tea-roses there, and I have misgivings as to the effect of the Persian Yellows among the Chinas, for the Chinas are such wee little baby things, and the Persian Yellows look as though they intended to be big bushes.

There is not a creature in all this part of the world who could in the least understand with what heart-beatings I am looking forward to the flowering of these roses, and not a German gardening book that does not relegate all tea-roses to hot-houses, imprisoning them for life, and depriving them for ever of the breath of God.  It was no doubt because I was so ignorant that I rushed in where Teutonic angels fear to tread and made my tea-roses face a northern winter; but they did face it under fir branches and leaves, and not one has suffered, and they are looking to-day as happy and as determined to enjoy themselves as any roses, I am sure, in Europe.

May 14th.

To-day I am writing on the verandah with the three babies, more persistent than mosquitoes, raging round me, and already several of the thirty fingers have been in the ink-pot and the owners consoled when duty pointed to rebukes.  But who can rebuke such penitent and drooping sunbonnets?  I can see nothing but sunbonnets and pinafores and nimble black legs.

These three, their patient nurse, myself, the gardener, and the gardener's assistant, are the only people who ever go into my garden, but then neither are we ever out of it.  The gardener has been here a year and has given me notice regularly on the first of every month, but up to now has been induced to stay on.  On the first of this month he came as usual, and with determination written on every feature told me he intended to go in June, and that nothing should alter his decision.  I don't think he knows much about gardening, but he can at least dig and water, and some of the things he sows come up, and some of the plants he plants grow, besides which he is the most unflaggingly industrious person I ever saw, and has the great merit of never appearing to take the faintest interest in what we do in the garden.  So I have tried to keep him on, not knowing what the next one may be like, and when I asked him what he had to complain of and he replied "Nothing," I could only conclude that he has a personal objection to me because of my eccentric preference for plants in groups rather than plants in lines.  Perhaps, too, he does not like the extracts from gardening books I read to him sometimes when he is planting or sowing something new.  Being so helpless myself, I thought it simpler, instead of explaining, to take the book itself out to him and let him have wisdom at its very source, administering it in doses while he worked.  I quite recognise that this must be annoying, and only my anxiety not to lose a whole year through some stupid mistake has given me the courage to do it.  I laugh sometimes behind the book at his disgusted face, and wish we could be photographed, so that I may be reminded in twenty years' time, when the garden is a bower of loveliness and I learned in all its ways, of my first happy struggles and failures.

All through April he was putting the perennials we had sown in the autumn into their permanent places, and all through April he went about with a long piece of string making parallel lines down the borders of beautiful exactitude and arranging the poor plants like soldiers at a review.  Two long borders were done during my absence one day, and when I explained that I should like the third to have plants in groups and not in lines, and that what I wanted was a natural effect with no bare spaces of earth to be seen, he looked even more gloomily hopeless than usual; and on my going out later on to see the result, I found he had planted two long borders down the sides of a straight walk with little lines of five plants in a row -- first five pinks, and next to them five rockets, and behind the rockets five pinks, and behind the pinks five rockets, and so on with different plants of every sort and size down to the end.  When I protested, he said he had only carried out my orders and had known it would not look well; so I gave in, and the remaining borders were done after the pattern of the first two, and I will have patience and see how they look this summer, before digging them up again; for it becomes beginners to be humble.

If I could only dig and plant myself!  How much easier, besides being so fascinating, to make your own holes exactly where you want them and put in your plants exactly as you choose instead of giving orders that can only be half understood from the moment you depart from the lines laid down by that long piece of string!  In the first ecstasy of having a garden all my own, and in my burning impatience to make the waste places blossom like a rose, I did one warm Sunday in last year's April during the servants' dinner hour, doubly secure from the gardener by the day and the dinner, slink out with a spade and a rake and feverishly dig a little piece of ground and break it up and sow surreptitious ipomaea, and run back very hot and guilty into the house, and get into a chair and behind a book and look languid just in time to save my reputation.  And why not?  It is not graceful, and it makes one hot; but it is a blessed sort of work, and if Eve had had a spade in Paradise and known what to do with it, we should not have had all that sad business of the apple.

What a happy woman I am living in a garden, with books, babies, birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!  Yet my town acquaintances look upon it as imprisonment, and burying, and I don't know what besides, and would rend the air with their shrieks if condemned to such a life.  Sometimes I feel as if I were blest above all my fellows in being able to find my happiness so easily.  I believe I should always be good if the sun always shone, and could enjoy myself very well in Siberia on a fine day.  And what can life in town offer in the way of pleasure to equal the delight of any one of the calm evenings I have had this month sitting alone at the foot of the verandah steps, with the perfume of young larches all about, and the May moon hanging low over the beeches, and the beautiful silence made only more profound in its peace by the croaking of distant frogs and hooting of owls?  A cockchafer darting by close to my ear with a loud hum sends a shiver through me, partly of pleasure at the reminder of past summers, and partly of fear lest he should get caught in my hair.  The Man of Wrath says they are pernicious creatures and should be killed.  I would rather get the killing done at the end of the summer and not crush them out of such a pretty world at the very beginning of all the fun.


This has been quite an eventful afternoon.  My eldest baby, born in April, is five years old, and the youngest, born in June, is three; so that the discerning will at once be able to guess the age of the remaining middle or May baby.  While I was stooping over a group of hollyhocks planted on the top of the only thing in the shape of a hill the garden possesses, the April baby, who had been sitting pensive on a tree stump close by, got up suddenly and began to run aimlessly about, shrieking and wringing her hands with every symptom of terror.  I stared, wondering what had come to her; and then I saw that a whole army of young cows, pasturing in a field next to the garden, had got through the hedge and were grazing perilously near my tea-roses and most precious belongings.  The nurse and I managed to chase them away, but not before they had trampled down a border of pinks and lilies in the cruellest way, and made great holes in a bed of China roses, and even begun to nibble at a Jackmanni clematis that I am trying to persuade to climb up a tree trunk.  The gloomy gardener happened to be ill in bed, and the assistant was at vespers -- as Lutheran Germany calls afternoon tea or its equivalent -- so the nurse filled up the holes as well as she could with mould, burying the crushed and mangled roses, cheated for ever of their hopes of summer glory, and I stood by looking on dejectedly.  The June baby, who is two feet square and valiant beyond her size and years, seized a stick much bigger than herself and went after the cows, the cowherd being nowhere to be seen.  She planted herself in front of them brandishing her stick, and they stood in a row and stared at her in great astonishment; and she kept them off until one of the men from the farm arrived with a whip, and having found the cowherd sleeping peacefully in the shade, gave him a sound beating.  The cowherd is a great hulking young man, much bigger than the man who beat him, but he took his punishment as part of the day's work and made no remark of any sort.  It could not have hurt him much through his leather breeches, and I think he deserved it; but it must be demoralising work for a strong young man with no brains looking after cows.  Nobody with less imagination than a poet ought to take it up as a profession.

After the June baby and I had been welcomed back by the other two with as many hugs as though we had been restored to them from great perils, and while we were peacefully drinking tea under a beech tree, I happened to look up into its mazy green, and there, on a branch quite close to my head, sat a little baby owl.  I got on the seat and caught it easily, for it could not fly, and how it had reached the branch at all is a mystery.  It is a little round ball of gray fluff, with the quaintest, wisest, solemn face.  Poor thing!  I ought to have let it go, but the temptation to keep it until the Man of Wrath, at present on a journey, has seen it was not to be resisted, as he has often said how much he would like to have a young owl and try and tame it.  So I put it into a roomy cage and slung it up on a branch near where it had been sitting, and which cannot be far from its nest and its mother.  We had hardly subsided again to our tea when I saw two more balls of fluff on the ground in the long grass and scarcely distinguishable at a little distance from small mole-hills.  These were promptly united to their relation in the cage, and now when the Man of Wrath comes home, not only shall he be welcomed by a wife decked with the orthodox smiles, but by the three little longed-for owls.  Only it seems wicked to take them from their mother, and I know that I shall let them go again some day -- perhaps the very next time the Man of Wrath goes on a journey.  I put a small pot of water in the cage, though they never could have tasted water yet unless they drink the raindrops off the beech leaves.  I suppose they get all the liquid they need from the bodies of the mice and other dainties provided for them by their fond parents.  But the raindrop idea is prettier.

May 15th.

How cruel it was of me to put those poor little owls into a cage even for one night!  I cannot forgive myself, and shall never pander to the Man of Wrath's wishes again.  This morning I got up early to see how they were getting on, and I found the door of the cage wide open and no owls to be seen.  I thought of course that somebody had stolen them -- some boy from the village, or perhaps the chastised cowherd.  But looking about I saw one perched high up in the branches of the beech tree, and then to my dismay one lying dead on the ground.  The third was nowhere to be seen, and is probably safe in its nest.  The parents must have torn at the bars of the cage until by chance they got the door open, and then dragged the little ones out and up into the tree.  The one that is dead must have been blown off the branch, as it was a windy night and its neck is broken.  There is one happy life less in the garden to-day through my fault, and it is such a lovely, warm day -- just the sort of weather for young soft things to enjoy and grow in.  The babies are greatly distressed, and are digging a grave, and preparing funeral wreaths of dandelions.

Just as I had written that I heard sounds of arrival, and running out I breathlessly told the Man of Wrath how nearly I had been able to give him the owls he has so often said he would like to have, and how sorry I was they were gone, and how grievous the death of one, and so on after the voluble manner of women.

He listened till I paused to breathe, and then he said, "I am surprised at such cruelty.  How could you make the mother owl suffer so?  She had never done you any harm." 

Which sent me out of the house and into the garden more convinced than ever that he sang true who sang --      Two paradises 'twere in one to live in Paradise alone.

May 16th.

The garden is the place I go to for refuge and shelter, not the house.  In the house are duties and annoyances, servants to exhort and admonish, furniture, and meals; but out there blessings crowd round me at every step -- it is there that I am sorry for the unkindness in me, for those selfish thoughts that are so much worse than they feel; it is there that all my sins and silliness are forgiven, there that I feel protected and at home, and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover.  When I have been vexed I run out to them for comfort, and when I have been angry without just cause, it is there that I find absolution.  Did ever a woman have so many friends?  And always the same, always ready to welcome me and fill me with cheerful thoughts.  Happy children of a common Father, why should I, their own sister, be less content and joyous than they?  Even in a thunder storm, when other people are running into the house, I run out of it.  I do not like thunder storms -- they frighten me for hours before they come, because I always feel them on the way; but it is odd that I should go for shelter to the garden.  I feel better there, more taken care of, more petted.  When it thunders, the April baby says, "There's lieber Gott scolding those angels again."   And once, when there was a storm in the night, she complained loudly, and wanted to know why lieber Gott didn't do the scolding in the daytime, as she had been so tight asleep.  They all three speak a wonderful mixture of German and English, adulterating the purity of their native tongue by putting in English words in the middle of a German sentence.  It always reminds me of Justice tempered by Mercy.  We have been cowslipping to-day in a little wood dignified by the name of the Hirschwald, because it is the happy hunting-ground of innumerable deer who fight there in the autumn evenings, calling each other out to combat with bayings that ring through the silence and send agreeable shivers through the lonely listener.  I often walk there in September, late in the evening, and sitting on a fallen tree listen fascinated to their angry cries.

We made cowslip balls sitting on the grass.  The babies had never seen such things nor had imagined anything half so sweet.  The Hirschwald is a little open wood of silver birches and springy turf starred with flowers, and there is a tiny stream meandering amiably about it and decking itself in June with yellow flags.  I have dreams of having a little cottage built there, with the daisies up to the door, and no path of any sort -- just big enough to hold myself and one baby inside and a purple clematis outside.  Two rooms -- a bedroom and a kitchen.  How scared we would be at night, and how completely happy by day!  I know the exact spot where it should stand, facing south-east, so that we should get all the cheerfulness of the morning, and close to the stream, so that we might wash our plates among the flags.  Sometimes, when in the mood for society, we would invite the remaining babies to tea and entertain them with wild strawberries on plates of horse-chestnut leaves; but no one less innocent and easily pleased than a baby would be permitted to darken the effulgence of our sunny cottage -- indeed, I don't suppose that anybody wiser would care to come.  Wise people want so many things before they can even begin to enjoy themselves, and I feel perpetually apologetic when with them, for only being able to offer them that which I love best myself -- apologetic, and ashamed of being so easily contented.

The other day at a dinner party in the nearest town (it took us the whole afternoon to get there) the women after dinner were curious to know how I had endured the winter, cut off from everybody and snowed up sometimes for weeks.

"Ah, these husbands!" sighed an ample lady, lugubriously shaking her head; "they shut up their wives because it suits them, and don't care what their sufferings are." 

Then the others sighed and shook their heads too, for the ample lady was a great local potentate, and one began to tell how another dreadful husband had brought his young wife into the country and had kept her there, concealing her beauty and accomplishments from the public in a most cruel manner, and how, after spending a certain number of years in alternately weeping and producing progeny, she had quite lately run away with somebody unspeakable -- I think it was the footman, or the baker, or some one of that sort.

"But I am quite happy," I began, as soon as I could put in a word.

"Ah, a good little wife, making the best of it," and the female potentate patted my hand, but continued gloomily to shake her head.

"You cannot possibly be happy in the winter entirely alone," asserted another lady, the wife of a high military authority and not accustomed to be contradicted.

"But I am." 

"But how can you possibly be at your age?  No, it is not possible." 

"But I am." 

"Your husband ought to bring you to town in the winter." 

"But I don't want to be brought to town." 

"And not let you waste your best years buried."  

"But I like being buried." 

"Such solitude is not right." 

"But I'm not solitary." 

"And can come to no good."   She was getting quite angry.

There was a chorus of “No Indeeds” at her last remark, and renewed shaking of heads.

"I enjoyed the winter immensely," I persisted when they were a little quieter; "I sleighed and skated, and then there were the children, and shelves and shelves full of -- " I was going to say books, but stopped.  Reading is an occupation for men; for women it is reprehensible waste of time.  And how could I talk to them of the happiness I felt when the sun shone on the snow, or of the deep delight of hear-frost days?

"It is entirely my doing that we have come down here," I proceeded, "and my husband only did it to please me." 

"Such a good little wife," repeated the patronising potentate, again patting my hand with an air of understanding all about it, "really an excellent little wife.  But you must not let your husband have his own way too much, my dear, and take my advice and insist on his bringing you to town next winter."   And then they fell to talking about their cooks, having settled to their entire satisfaction that my fate was probably lying in wait for me too, lurking perhaps at that very moment behind the apparently harmless brass buttons of the man in the hall with my cloak.

I laughed on the way home, and I laughed again for sheer satisfaction when we reached the garden and drove between the quiet trees to the pretty old house; and when I went into the library, with its four windows open to the moonlight and the scent, and looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness, and rescued me from a life like that I had just seen -- a life spent with the odours of other people's dinners in one's nostrils, and the noise of their wrangling servants in one's ears, and parties and tattle for all amusement.

But I must confess to having felt sometimes quite crushed when some grand person, examining the details of my home through her eyeglass, and coolly dissecting all that I so much prize from the convenient distance of the open window, has finished up by expressing sympathy with my loneliness, and on my protesting that I like it, has murmured, sebr anspruchslos.   Then indeed I have felt ashamed of the fewness of my wants; but only for a moment, and only under the withering influence of the eyeglass; for, after all, the owner's spirit is the same spirit as that which dwells in my servants -- girls whose one idea of happiness is to live in a town where there are others of their sort with whom to drink beer and dance on Sunday afternoons.  The passion for being for ever with one's fellows, and the fear of being left for a few hours alone, is to me wholly incomprehensible.  I can entertain myself quite well for weeks together, hardly aware, except for the pervading peace, that I have been alone at all.  Not but what I like to have people staying with me for a few days, or even for a few weeks, should they be as anspruchslos as I am myself, and content with simple joys; only, any one who comes here and would be happy must have something in him; if he be a mere blank creature, empty of head and heart, he will very probably find it dull.  I should like my house to be often full if I could find people capable of enjoying themselves.  They should be welcomed and sped with equal heartiness; for truth compels me to confess that, though it pleases me to see them come, it pleases me just as much to see them go.


On some very specially divine days, like today, I have actually longed for some one else to be here to enjoy the beauty with me.  There has been rain in the night, and the whole garden seems to be singing -- not the untiring birds only, but the vigorous plants, the happy grass and trees, the lilac bushes -- oh, those lilac bushes!  They are all out to-day, and the garden is drenched with the scent.  I have brought in armfuls, the picking is such a delight, and every pot and bowl and tub in the house is filled with purple glory, and the servants think there is going to be a party and are extra nimble, and I go from room to room gazing at the sweetness, and the windows are all flung open so as to join the scent within to the scent without; and the servants gradually discover that there is no party, and wonder why the house should be filled with flowers for one woman by herself, and I long more and more for a kindred spirit -- it seems so greedy to have so much loveliness to oneself -- but kindred spirits are so very, very rare; I might almost as well cry for the moon.  It is true that my garden is full of friends, only they are -- dumb.

June 3rd.

This is such an out-of-the-way corner of the world that it requires quite unusual energy to get here at all, and I am thus delivered from casual callers; while, on the other hand, people I love, or people who love me, which is much the same thing, are not likely to be deterred from coming by the roundabout train journey and the long drive at the end.  Not the least of my many blessings is that we have only one neighbour.  If you have to have neighbours at all, it is at least a mercy that there should be only one; for with people dropping in at all hours and wanting to talk to you, how are you to get on with your life, I should like to know, and read your books, and dream your dreams to your satisfaction?  Besides, there is always the certainty that either you or the dropper-in will say something that would have been better left unsaid, and I have a holy horror of gossip and mischief-making.  A woman's tongue is a deadly weapon and the most difficult thing in the world to keep in order, and things slip off it with a facility nothing short of appalling at the very moment when it ought to be most quiet.  In such cases the only safe course is to talk steadily about cooks and children, and to pray that the visit may not be too prolonged, for if it is you are lost.  Cooks I have found to be the best of all subjects -- the most phlegmatic flush into life at the mere word, and the joys and sufferings connected with them are experiences common to us all.

Luckily, our neighbour and his wife are both busy and charming, with a whole troop of flaxen haired little children to keep them occupied, besides the business of their large estate.  Our intercourse is arranged on lines of the most beautiful simplicity.  I call on her once a year, and she returns the call a fortnight later; they ask us to dinner in the summer, and we ask them to dinner in the winter.  By strictly keeping to this, we avoid all danger of that closer friendship which is only another name for frequent quarrels.  She is a pattern of what a German country lady should be, and is not only a pretty woman but an energetic and practical one, and the combination is, to say the least, effective.  She is up at daylight superintending the feeding of the stock, the butter-making, the sending off of the milk for sale; a thousand things get done while most people are fast asleep, and before lazy folk are well at breakfast she is off in her pony-carriage to the other farms on the place, to rate the "mamsells," as the head women are called, to poke into every corner, lift the lids off the saucepans, count the new-laid eggs, and box, if necessary, any careless dairymaid's ears.  We are allowed by law to administer "slight corporal punishment" to our servants, it being left entirely to individual taste to decide what "slight" shall be, and my neighbour really seems to enjoy using this privilege, judging from the way she talks about it.  I would give much to be able to peep through a keyhole and see the dauntless little lady, terrible in her wrath and dignity, standing on tiptoe to box the ears of some great strapping girl big enough to eat her.

The making of cheese and butter and sausages excellently well is a work which requires brains, and is, to my thinking, a very admirable form of activity, and entirely worthy of the attention of the intelligent.  That my neighbour is intelligent is at once made evident by the bright alertness of her eyes -- eyes that nothing escapes, and that only gain in prettiness by being used to some good purpose.  She is a recognised authority for miles around on the mysteries of sausage-making, the care of calves, and the slaughtering of swine; and with all her manifold duties and daily prolonged absences from home, her children are patterns of health and neatness, and of what dear little German children, with white pigtails and fearless eyes and thick legs, should be.  Who shall say that such a life is sordid and dull and unworthy of a high order of intelligence?  I protest that to me it is a beautiful life, full of wholesome outdoor work, and with no room for those listless moments of depression and boredom, and of wondering what you will do next, that leave wrinkles round a pretty woman's eyes, and are not unknown even to the most brilliant.  But while admiring my neighbour, I don't think I shall ever try to follow in her steps, my talents not being of the energetic and organising variety, but rather of that order which makes their owner almost lamentably prone to take up a volume of poetry and wander out to where the kingcups grow, and, sitting on a willow trunk beside a little stream, forget the very existence of everything but green pastures and still waters, and the glad blowing of the wind across the joyous fields.  And it would make me perfectly wretched to be confronted by ears so refractory as to require boxing.


Sometimes callers from a distance invade my solitude, and it is on these occasions that I realise how absolutely alone each individual is, and how far away from his neighbour; and while they talk (generally about babies, past, present, and to come), I fall to wondering at the vast and impassable distance that separates one's own soul from the soul of the person sitting in the next chair.  I am speaking of comparative strangers, people who are forced to stay a certain time by the eccentricities of trains, and in whose presence you grope about after common interests and shrink back into your shell on finding that you have none.  Then a frost slowly settles down on me and I grow each minute more benumbed and speechless, and the babies feel the frost in the air and look vacant, and the callers go through the usual form of wondering who they most take after, generally settling the question by saying that the May baby, who is the beauty, is like her father, and that the two more or less plain ones are the image of me, and this decision, though I know it of old and am sure it is coming, never fails to depress me as much as though I heard it for the first time.  The babies are very little and inoffensive and good, and it is hard that they should be used as a means of filling up gaps in conversation, and their features pulled to pieces one by one, and all their weak points noted and criticised, while they stand smiling shyly in the operator's face, their very smile drawing forth comments on the shape of their mouths; but, after all, it does not occur very often, and they are one of those few interests one has in common with other people, as everybody seems to have babies.  A garden, I have discovered, is by no means a fruitful topic, and it is amazing how few persons really love theirs -- they all pretend they do, but you can hear by the very tone of their voice what a lukewarm affection it is.  About June their interest is at its warmest, nourished by agreeable supplies of strawberries and roses; but on reflection I don't know a single person within twenty miles who really cares for his garden, or has discovered the treasures of happiness that are buried in it, and are to be found if sought for diligently, and if needs be with tears.  It is after these rare calls that I experience the only moments of depression from which I ever suffer, and then I am angry at myself, a well-nourished person, for allowing even a single precious hour of life to be spoil: by anything so indifferent.  That is the worst of being fed enough, and clothed enough, and warmed enough, and of having everything you can reasonably desire -- on the least provocation you are made uncomfortable and unhappy by such abstract discomforts as being shut out from a nearer approach to your neighbour's soul; which is on the face of it foolish, the probability being that he hasn't got one.


The rockets are all out.  The gardener, in a fit of inspiration, put them right along the very front of two borders, and I don't know what his feelings can be now that they are all flowering and the plants behind are completely hidden; but I have learned another lesson, and no future gardener shall be allowed to run riot among my rockets in quite so reckless a fashion.  They are charming things, as delicate in colour as in scent, and a bowl of them on my writing-table fills the room with fragrance.  Single rows, however, are a mistake; I had masses of them planted in the grass, and these show how lovely they can be.  A border full of rockets, mauve and white, and nothing else, must be beautiful; but I don't know how long they last nor what they look like when they have done flowering.  This I shall find out in a week or two, I suppose.  Was ever a would-be gardener left so entirely to his own blundering?  No doubt it would be a gain of years to the garden if I were not forced to learn solely by my failures, and if I had some kind creature to tell me when to do things.  At present the only flowers in the garden are the rockets, the pansies in the rose beds, and two groups of azaleas -- mollis and pontica.  The azaleas have been and still are gorgeous; I only planted them this spring and they almost at once began to flower, and the sheltered corner they are in looks as though it were filled with imprisoned and perpetual sunsets.  Orange, lemon, pink in every delicate shade -- what they will be next year and in succeeding years when the bushes are bigger, I can imagine from the way they have begun life.  On gray, dull days the effect is absolutely startling.  Next autumn I shall make a great bank of them in front of a belt of fir trees in rather a gloomy nook.  My tea-roses are covered with buds which will not open for at least another week, so I conclude this is not the sort of climate where they will flower from the very beginning of June to November, as they are said to do.

July 11th.

There has been no rain since the day before Whitsunday, five weeks ago, which partly, but not entirely, accounts for the disappointment my beds have been.  The dejected gardener went mad soon after Whitsuntide, and had to be sent to an asylum.  He took to going about with a spade in one hand and a revolver in the other, explaining that he felt safer that way, and we bore it quite patiently, as becomes civilised beings who respect each other's prejudices, until one day, when I mildly asked him to tie up a fallen creeper -- and after he bought the revolver my tones in addressing him were of the mildest, and I quite left off reading to him aloud -- he turned round, looked me straight in the face for the first time since he has been here, and said, "Do I look like Graf X --  --   --  -- (a great local celebrity), or like a monkey?"  After which there was nothing for it but to get him into an asylum as expeditiously as possible.  There was no gardener to be had in his place, and I have only just succeeded in getting one; so that what with the drought, and the neglect, and the gardener's madness, and my blunders, the garden is in a sad condition; but even in a sad condition it is the dearest place in the world, and all my mistakes only make me more determined to persevere.

The long borders, where the rockets were, are looking dreadful.  The rockets have done flowering, and, after the manner of rockets: in other walks of life, have degenerated into sticks; and nothing else in those borders intends to bloom this summer.  The giant poppies I had planted out in them in April have either died off or remained quite small, and so have the columbines; here and there a delphinium droops unwillingly, and that is all.  I suppose poppies cannot stand being moved, or perhaps they were not watered enough at the time of transplanting; anyhow, those borders are going to be sown to-morrow with more poppies for next year; for poppies I will have, whether they like it or not, and they shall not be touched, only thinned out.

Well, it is no use being grieved, and after all, directly I come out and sit under the trees, and look at the dappled sky, and see the sunshine on the cornfields away on the plain, all the disappointment smooths itself out, and it seems impossible to be sad and discontented when everything about me is so radiant and kind.


To-day is Sunday, and the garden is so quiet, that, sitting here in this shady corner watching the lazy shadows stretching themselves across the grass, and listening to the rooks quarrelling in the treetops, I almost expect to hear English church bells ringing for the afternoon service.  But the church is three miles off, has no bells, and no afternoon service.  Once a fortnight we go to morning prayer at eleven and sit up in a sort of private box with a room behind, whither we can retire unobserved when the sermon is too long or our flesh too weak, and hear ourselves being prayed for by the black-robed parson.  In winter the church is bitterly cold; it is not heated, and we sit muffled up in more furs than ever we wear out of doors; but it would of course be very wicked for the parson to wear furs, however cold he may be, so he puts on a great many extra coats under his gown, and, as the winter progresses, swells to a prodigious size.  We know when spring is coming by the reduction in his figure.  The congregation sit at ease while the parson does the praying for them, and while they are droning the long-drawn-out chorales, he retires into a little wooden box just big enough to hold him.  He does not come out until he thinks we have sung enough, nor do we stop until his appearance gives us the signal.  I have often thought how dreadful it would be if he fell ill in his box and left us to go on singing.  I am sure we should never dare to stop, unauthorised by the Church.  I asked him once what he did in there; he looked very shocked at such a profane question, and made an evasive reply.

If it were not for the garden, a German Sunday would be a terrible day; but in the garden on that day there is a sigh of relief and more profound peace, nobody raking or sweeping or fidgeting; only the little flowers themselves and the whispering trees.

I have been much afflicted again lately by visitors -- not stray callers to be got rid of after a due administration of tea and things you are sorry afterwards that you said, but people staying in the house and not to be got rid of at all.  All June was lost to me in this way, and it was from first to last a radiant month of heat and beauty; but a garden where you meet the people you saw at breakfast, and will see again at lunch and dinner, is not a place to be happy in.  Besides, they had a knack of finding out my favourite seats and lounging in them just when I longed to lounge myself; and they took books out of the library with them, and left them face downwards on the seats all night to get well drenched with dew, though they might have known that what is meat for roses is poison for books; and they gave me to understand that if they had had the arranging of the garden it would have been finished long ago -- whereas I don't believe a garden ever is finished.  They have all gone now, thank heaven, except one, so that I have a little breathing space before others begin to arrive.  It seems that the place interests people, and that there is a sort of novelty in staying in such a deserted corner of the world, for they were in a perpetual state of mild amusement at being here at all.  Irais is the only one left.  She is a young woman with a beautiful, refined face, and her eyes and straight, fine eyebrows are particularly lovable.  At meals she dips her bread into the salt-cellar, bites a bit off, and repeats the process, although providence (taking my shape) has caused salt-spoons to be placed at convenient intervals down the table.  She lunched to-day on beer, Schweine-koteletten, and cabbage-salad with caraway seeds in it, and now I hear her through the open window, extemporising touching melodies in her charming, cooing voice.  She is thin, frail, intelligent, and lovable, all on the above diet.  What better proof can be needed to establish the superiority of the Teuton than the fact that after such meals he can produce such music?  Cabbage salad is a horrid invention, but I don't doubt its utility as a means of encouraging thoughtfulness; nor will I quarrel with it, since it results so poetically, any more than I quarrel with the manure that results in roses, and I give it to Irais every day to make her sing.  She is the sweetest singer I have ever heard, and has a charming trick of making up songs as she goes along.  When she begins, I go and lean out of the window and look at my little friends out there in the borders while listening to her music, and feel full of pleasant sadness and regret.  It is so sweet to be sad when one has nothing to be sad about.

The April baby came panting up just as I had written that, the others hurrying along behind, and with flaming cheeks displayed for my admiration three brand-new kittens, lean and blind, that she was carrying in her pinafore, and that had just been found motherless in the woodshed.

"Look," she cried breathlessly, "such a much!"

I was glad it was only kittens this time, for she had been once before this afternoon on purpose, as she informed me, sitting herself down on the grass at my feet, to ask about the lieber Gott, it being Sunday and her pious little nurse's conversation having run, as it seems, on heaven and angels.

Her questions about the lieber Gott are better left unrecorded, and I was relieved when she began about the angels.

"What do they wear for clothes?" she asked in her German-English.

"Why, you've seen them in pictures," I answered, "in beautiful, long dresses, and with big, white wings."  

"Feathers?" she asked.

"I suppose so, -- and long dresses, all white and beautiful." 

"Are they girlies?"

"Girls?  Ye -- es." 

"Don't boys go into the Himmel?"

"Yes, of course, if they're good." 

"And then what do they wear?"

"Why, the same as all the other angels, I suppose." 


She began to laugh, looking at me sideways as though she suspected me of making jokes.  "What a funny Mummy!" she said, evidently much amused.  She has a fat little laugh that is very infectious.

"I think," said I, gravely, "you had better go and play with the other babies." 

She did not answer, and sat still a moment watching the clouds.  I began writing again.

"Mummy," she said presently.


"Where do the angels get their dwesses?"

I hesitated.  "From lieber Gott," I said.

"Are there shops in the Himmel?"

"Shops?  No." 

"But, then, where does lieber Gott buy their dwesses?"

"Now run away like a good baby; I'm busy." 

"But you said yesterday, when I asked about lieber Gott, that you would tell about Him on Sunday, and it is Sunday.  Tell me a story about Him." 

There was nothing for it but resignation, so I put down my pencil with a sigh.  "Call the others, then." 

She ran away, and presently they all three emerged from the bushes one after the other, and tried all together to scramble on to my knee.  The April baby got the knee as she always seems to get everything, and the other two had to sit on the grass.

I began about Adam and Eve, with an eye to future parsonic probings.  The April baby's eyes opened wider and wider, and her face grew redder and redder.  I was surprised at the breathless interest she took in the story -- the other two were tearing up tufts of grass and hardly listening.  I had scarcely got to the angels with the flaming swords and announced that that was all, when she burst out, "Now I'll tell about it.  Once upon a time there was Adam and Eva, and they had plenty of clothes, and there was no snake, and lieber Gott wasn't angry with them, and they could eat as many apples as they liked, and was happy for ever and ever -- there now!"

She began to jump up and down defiantly on my knee.

"But that's not the story," I said rather helplessly. 

"Yes, yes!  It's a much nicelier one!  Now another." 

"But these stories are true," I said severely; "and it's no use my telling them if you make them up your own way afterwards." 

"Another!  another!" she shrieked, jumping up and down with redoubled energy, all her silvery curls flying.

I began about Noah and the flood.

"Did it rain so badly?" she asked with a face of the deepest concern and interest.

"Yes, all day long and all night long for weeks and weeks --  -- "

"And was everybody so wet?"

"Yes -- "

"But why didn't they open their umbwellas?"

Just then I saw the nurse coming out with the tea-tray.

"I'll tell you the rest another time," I said, putting her off my knee, greatly relieved; "you must all go to Anna now and have tea." 

"I don't like Anna," remarked the June baby, not having hitherto opened her lips; "she is a stupid girl." 

The other two stood transfixed with horror at this statement, for, besides being naturally extremely polite, and at all times anxious not to hurt any one's feelings, they had been brought up to love and respect their kind little nurse.

The April baby recovered her speech first, and lifting her finger, pointed it at the criminal in just indignation.  "Such a child will never go into the Himmel," she said with great emphasis, and the air of one who delivers judgment.

September 15th.

This is the month of quiet days, crimson creepers, and blackberries; of mellow afternoons in the ripening garden; of tea under the acacias instead of the too shady beeches; of wood-fires in the library in the chilly evenings.  The babies go out in the afternoon and blackberry in the hedges; the three kittens, grown big and fat, sit cleaning themselves on the sunny verandah steps; the Man of Wrath shoots partridges across the distant stubble; and the summer seems as though it would dream on for ever.  It is hard to believe that in three months we shall probably be snowed up and certainly be cold.  There is a feeling about this month that reminds me of March and the early days of April, when spring is still hesitating on the threshold and the garden holds its breath in expectation.  There is the same mildness in the air, and the sky and grass have the same look as then; but the leaves tell a different tale, and the reddening creeper on the house is rapidly approaching its last and loveliest glory.

My roses have behaved as well on the whole as was to be expected, and the Viscountess Folkestones and Laurette Messimys have been most beautiful, the latter being quite the loveliest things in the garden, each flower an exquisite loose cluster of coral-pink petals, paling at the base to a yellow-white.  I have ordered a hundred standard tea-roses for planting next month, half of which are Viscountess Folkestones, because the tea-roses have such a way of hanging their little heads that one has to kneel down to be able to see them well in the dwarf forms -- not but what I entirely approve of kneeling before such perfect beauty, only it dirties one's clothes.  So I am going to put standards down each side of the walk under the south windows, and shall have the flowers on a convenient level for worship.  My only fear is, that they will stand the winter less well than the dwarf sorts, being so difficult to pack up snugly.  The Persian Yellows and Bicolors have been, as I predicted, a mistake among the tea-roses; they only flower twice in the season and all the rest of the time look dull and moping; and then the Persian Yellows have such an odd smell and so many insects inside them eating them up.  I have ordered Safrano tea-roses to put in their place, as they all come out next month and are to be grouped in the grass; and the semicircle being immediately under the windows, besides having the best position in the place, must be reserved solely for my choicest treasures.  I have had a great many disappointments, but feel as though I were really beginning to learn.  Humility, and the most patient perseverance, seem almost as necessary in gardening as rain and sunshine, and every failure must be used as a stepping-stone to something better.

I had a visitor last week who knows a great deal about gardening and has had much practical experience.  When I heard he was coming, I felt I wanted to put my arms right round my garden and hide it from him; but what was my surprise and delight when he said, after having gone all over it, "Well, I think you have done wonders."   Dear me, how pleased I was!  It was so entirely unexpected, and such a complete novelty after the remarks I have been listening to all the summer.  I could have hugged that discerning and indulgent critic, able to look beyond the result to the intention, and appreciating the difficulties of every kind that had been in the way.  After that I opened my heart to him, and listened reverently to all he had to say, and treasured up his kind and encouraging advice, and wished he could stay here a whole year and help me through the seasons.  But he went, as people one likes always do go, and he was the only guest I have had whose departure made me sorry.

The people I love are always somewhere else and not able to come to me, while I can at any time fill the house with visitors about whom I know little and care less.  Perhaps, if I saw more of those absent ones, I would not love them so well -- at least, that is what I think on wet days when the wind is howling round the house and all nature is overcome with grief; and it has actually happened once or twice when great friends have been staying with me that I have wished, when they left, I might not see them again for at least ten years.  I suppose the fact is, that no friendship can stand the breakfast test, and here, in the country, we invariably think it our duty to appear at breakfast.  Civilisation has done away with curl-papers, yet at that hour the soul of the Hausfrau is as tightly screwed up in them as was ever her grandmother's hair; and though my body comes down mechanically, having been trained that way by punctual parents, my soul never thinks of beginning to wake up for other people till lunch-time, and never does so completely till it has been taken out of doors and aired in the sunshine.  Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning?  It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies; it is the triumph of the Disagreeable and the Cross.  I am convinced that the Muses and the Graces never thought of having breakfast anywhere but in bed.

November 11th.

When the gray November weather came, and hung its soft dark clouds low and unbroken over the brown of the ploughed fields and the vivid emerald of the stretches of winter corn, the heavy stillness weighed my heart down to a forlorn yearning after the pleasant things of childhood, the petting, the comforting, the warming faith in the unfailing wisdom of elders.  A great need of something to lean on, and a great weariness of independence and responsibility took possession of my soul; and looking round for support and comfort in that transitory mood, the emptiness of the present and the blankness of the future sent me back to the past with all its ghosts.  Why should I not go and see the place where I was born, and where I lived so long; the place where I was so magnificently happy, so exquisitely wretched, so close to heaven, so near to hell, always either up on a cloud of glory, or down in the depths with the waters of despair closing over my head?  Cousins live in it now, distant cousins, loved with the exact measure of love usually bestowed on cousins who reign in one's stead; cousins of practical views, who have dug up the flower-beds and planted cabbages where roses grew; and though through all the years since my father's death I have held my head so high that it hurt, and loftily refused to listen to their repeated suggestions that I should revisit my old home, something in the sad listlessness of the November days sent my spirit back to old times with a persistency that would not be set aside, and I woke from my musings surprised to find myself sick with longing.  It is foolish but natural to quarrel with one's cousins, and especially foolish and natural when they have done nothing, and are mere victims of chance.  Is it their fault that my not being a boy placed the shoes I should otherwise have stepped into at their disposal?  I know it is not; but their blamelessness does not make me love them more.  "Noch ein dummes Frauenzimmer!" cried my father, on my arrival into the world -- he had three of them already, and I was his last hope, -- and a dummes Frauenzimmer I have remained ever since; and that is why for years I would have no dealings with the cousins in possession, and that is why, the other day, overcome by the tender influence of the weather, the purely sentimental longing to join hands again with my childhood was enough to send all my pride to the winds, and to start me off without warning and without invitation on my pilgrimage.

I have always had a liking for pilgrimages, and if I had lived in the Middle Ages would have spent most of my time on the way to Rome.  The pilgrims, leaving all their cares at home, the anxieties of their riches or their debts, the wife that worried and the children that disturbed, took only their sins with them, and turning their backs on their obligations, set out with that sole burden, and perhaps a cheerful heart.  How cheerful my heart would have been, starting on a fine morning, with the smell of the spring in my nostrils, fortified by the approval of those left behind, accompanied by the pious blessings of my family, with every step getting farther from the suffocation of daily duties, out into the wide fresh world, out into the glorious free world, so poor, so penitent, and so happy!  My dream, even now, is to walk for weeks with some friend that I love, leisurely wandering from place to place, with no route arranged and no object in view, with liberty to go on all day or to linger all day, as we choose; but the question of luggage, unknown to the simple pilgrim, is one of the rocks on which my plans have been shipwrecked, and the other is the certain censure of relatives, who, not fond of walking themselves, and having no taste for noonday naps under hedges, would be sure to paralyse my plans before they had grown to maturity by the honest horror of their cry, "How very unpleasant if you were to meet any one you know!"  The relative of five hundred years back would simply have said, "How holy!"

My father had the same liking for pilgrimages -- indeed, it is evident that I have it from him -- and he encouraged it in me when I was little, taking me with him on his pious journeys to places he had lived in as a boy.  Often have we been together to the school he was at in Brandenburg, and spent pleasant days wandering about the old town on the edge of one of those lakes that lie in a chain in that wide green plain; and often have we been in Potsdam, where he was quartered as a lieutenant, the Potsdam pilgrimage including hours in the woods around and in the gardens of Sans Souci, with the second volume of Carlyle's Frederick under my father's arm; and often did we spend long summer days at the house in the Mark, at the head of the same blue chain of lakes, where his mother spent her young years, and where, though it belonged to cousins, like everything else that was worth having, we could wander about as we chose, for it was empty, and sit in the deep windows of rooms where there was no furniture, and the painted Venuses and cupids on the ceiling still smiled irrelevantly and stretched their futile wreaths above the emptiness beneath.  And while we sat and rested, my father told me, as my grandmother had a hundred times told him, all that had happened in those rooms in the far-off days when people danced and sang and laughed through life, and nobody seemed ever to be old or sorry.

There was, and still is, an inn within a stone's throw of the great iron gates, with two very old lime trees in front of it, where we used to lunch on our arrival at a little table spread with a red and blue check cloth, the lime blossoms dropping into our soup, and the bees humming in the scented shadows overhead.  I have a picture of the house by my side as I write, done from the lake in old times, with a boat full of ladies in hoops and powder in the foreground, and a youth playing a guitar.  The pilgrimages to this place were those I loved the best.

But the stories my father told me, sometimes odd enough stories to tell a little girl, as we wandered about the echoing rooms, or hung over the stone balustrade and fed the fishes in the lake, or picked the pale dog-roses in the hedges, or lay in the boat in a shady reed-grown bay while he smoked to keep the mosquitoes off, were after all only traditions, imparted to me in small doses from time to time, when his earnest desire not to raise his remarks above the level of dulness supposed to be wholesome for Backfische was neutralised by an impulse to share his thoughts with somebody who would laugh; whereas the place I was bound for on my latest pilgrimage was filled with living, first-hand memories of all the enchanted years that lie between two and eighteen.  How enchanted those years are is made more and more clear to me the older I grow.  There has been nothing in the least like them since; and though I have forgotten most of what happened six months ago, every incident, almost every day of those wonderful long years is perfectly distinct in my memory.

But I had been stiff-necked, proud, unpleasant, altogether cousinly in my behaviour towards the people in possession.  The invitations to revisit the old home had ceased.  The cousins had grown tired of refusals, and had left me alone.  I did not even know who lived in it now, it was so long since I had had any news.  For two days I fought against the strong desire to go there that had suddenly seized me, and assured myself that I would not go, that it would be absurd to go, undignified, sentimental, and silly, that I did not know them and would be in an awkward position, and that I was old enough to know better.  But who can foretell from one hour to the next what a woman will do?  And when does she ever know better?  On the third morning I set out as hopefully as though it were the most natural thing in the world to fall unexpectedly upon hitherto consistently neglected cousins, and expect to be received with open arms.

It was a complicated journey, and lasted several hours.  During the first part, when it was still dark, I glowed with enthusiasm, with the spirit of adventure, with delight at the prospect of so soon seeing the loved place again; and thought with wonder of the long years I had allowed to pass since last I was there.  Of what I should say to the cousins, and of how I should introduce myself into their midst, I did not think at all: the pilgrim spirit was upon me, the unpractical spirit that takes no thought for anything, but simply wanders along enjoying its own emotions.  It was a quiet, sad morning, and there was a thick mist.  By the time I was in the little train on the light railway that passed through the village nearest my old home, I had got over my first enthusiasm, and had entered the stage of critically examining the changes that had been made in the last ten years.  It was so misty that I could see nothing of the familiar country from the carriage windows, only the ghosts of pines in the front row of the forests; but the railway itself was a new departure, unknown in our day, when we used to drive over ten miles of deep, sandy forest roads to and from the station, and although most people would have called it an evident and great improvement, it was an innovation due, no doubt, to the zeal and energy of the reigning cousin; and who was he, thought I, that he should require more conveniences than my father had found needful?  It was no use my telling myself that in my father's time the era of light railways had not dawned, and that if it had, we should have done our utmost to secure one; the thought of my cousin, stepping into my shoes, and then altering them, was odious to me.  By the time I was walking up the hill from the station I had got over this feeling too, and had entered a third stage of wondering uneasily what in the world I should do next.  Where was the intrepid courage with which I had started?  At the top of the first hill I sat down to consider this question in detail, for I was very near the house now, and felt I wanted time.  Where, indeed, was the courage and joy of the morning?  It had vanished so completely that I could only suppose that it must be lunch time, the observations of years having led to the discovery that the higher sentiments and virtues fly affrighted on the approach of lunch, and none fly quicker than courage.  So I ate the lunch I had brought with me, hoping that it was what I wanted; but it was chilly, made up of sandwiches and pears, and it had to be eaten under a tree at the edge of a field; and it was November, and the mist was thicker than ever and very wet -- the grass was wet with it, the gaunt tree was wet with it, I was wet with it, and the sandwiches were wet with it.  Nobody's spirits can keep up under such conditions; and as I ate the soaked sandwiches, I deplored the headlong courage more with each mouthful that had torn me from a warm, dry home where I was appreciated, and had brought me first to the damp tree in the damp field, and when I had finished my lunch and dessert of cold pears, was going to drag me into the midst of a circle of unprepared and astonished cousins.  Vast sheep loomed through the mist a few yards off.  The sheep dog kept up a perpetual, irritating yap.  In the fog I could hardly tell where I was, though I knew I must have played there a hundred times as a child.  After the fashion of woman directly she is not perfectly warm and perfectly comfortable, I began to consider the uncertainty of human life, and to shake my head in gloomy approval as lugubrious lines of pessimistic poetry suggested themselves to my mind.

Now it is clearly a desirable plan, if you want to do anything, to do it in the way consecrated by custom, more especially if you are a woman.  The rattle of a carriage along the road just behind me, and the fact that I started and turned suddenly hot, drove this truth home to my soul.  The mist hid me, and the carriage, no doubt full of cousins, drove on in the direction of the house; but what an absurd position I was in!  Suppose the kindly mist had lifted, and revealed me lunching in the wet on their property, the cousin of the short and lofty letters, the unangenehme Elisabeth!  "Die war doch immer verdreht," I could imagine them hastily muttering to each other, before advancing wreathed in welcoming smiles.  It gave me a great shock, this narrow escape, and I got on to my feet quickly, and burying the remains of my lunch under the gigantic molehill on which I had been sitting, asked myself nervously what I proposed to do next.  Should I walk back to the village, go to the Gasthof, write a letter craving permission to call on my cousins, and wait there till an answer came?  It would be a discreet and sober course to pursue; the next best thing to having written before leaving home.  But the Gasthof of a north German village is a dreadful place, and the remembrance of one in which I had taken refuge once from a thunderstorm was still so vivid that nature itself cried out against this plan.  The mist, if anything, was growing denser.  I knew every path and gate in the place.  What if I gave up all hope of seeing the house, and went through the little door in the wall at the bottom of the garden, and confined myself for this once to that?  In such weather I would be able to wander round as I pleased, without the least risk of being seen by or meeting any cousins, and it was after all the garden that lay nearest my heart.  What a delight it would be to creep into it unobserved, and revisit all the corners I so well remembered, and slip out again and get away safely without any need of explanations, assurances, protestations, displays of affection, without any need, in a word, of that exhausting form of conversation, so dear to relations, known as Redensarten!  The mist tempted me.  I think if it had been a fine day I would have gone soberly to the Gasthof and written the conciliatory letter; but the temptation was too great, it was altogether irresistible, and in ten minutes I had found the gate, opened it with some difficulty, and was standing with a beating heart in the garden of my childhood.

Now I wonder whether I shall ever again feel thrills of the same potency as those that ran through me at that moment.  First of all I was trespassing, which is in itself thrilling; but how much more thrilling when you are trespassing on what might just as well have been your own ground, on what actually was for years your own ground, and when you are in deadly peril of seeing the rightful owners, whom you have never met, but with whom you have quarrelled, appear round the corner, and of hearing them remark with an inquiring and awful politeness "I do not think I have the pleasure -- ?"  Then the place was unchanged.  I was standing in the same mysterious tangle of damp little paths that had always been just there; they curled away on either side among the shrubs, with the brown tracks of recent footsteps in the centre of their green stains, just as they did in my day.  The overgrown lilac bushes still met above my head.  The moisture dripped from the same ledge in the wall on to the sodden leaves beneath, as it had done all through the afternoons of all those past Novembers.  This was the place, this damp and gloomy tangle, that had specially belonged to me.  Nobody ever came to it, for in winter it was too dreary, and in summer so full of mosquitoes that only a Backfisch indifferent to spots could have borne it.  But it was a place where I could play unobserved, and where I could walk up and down uninterrupted for hours, building castles in the air.  There was an unwholesome little arbour in one dark corner, much frequented by the larger black slug, where I used to pass glorious afternoons making plans.  I was for ever making plans, and if nothing came of them, what did it matter?  The mere making had been a joy.  To me this out-of-the-way corner was always a wonderful and a mysterious place, where my castles in the air stood close together in radiant rows, and where the strangest and most splendid adventures befell me; for the hours I passed in it and the people I met in it were all enchanted.

Standing there and looking round with happy eyes, I forgot the existence of the cousins.  I could have cried for joy at being there again.  It was the home of my fathers, the home that would have been mine if I had been a boy, the home that was mine now by a thousand tender and happy and miserable associations, of which the people in possession could not dream.  They were tenants, but it was my home.  I threw my arms round the trunk of a very wet fir tree, every branch of which I remembered, for had I not climbed it, and fallen from it, and torn and bruised myself on it uncountable numbers of times?  and I gave it such a hearty kiss that my nose and chin were smudged into one green stain, and still I did not care.  Far from caring, it filled me with a reckless, Backfisch pleasure in being dirty, a delicious feeling that I had not had for years.  Alice in Wonderland, after she had drunk the contents of the magic bottle, could not have grown smaller more suddenly than I grew younger the moment I passed through that magic door.  Bad habits cling to us, however, with such persistency that I did mechanically pull out my handkerchief and begin to rub off the welcoming smudge, a thing I never would have dreamed of doing in the glorious old days; but an artful scent of violets clinging to the handkerchief brought me to my senses, and with a sudden impulse of scorn, the fine scorn for scent of every honest Backfisch, I rolled it up into a ball and flung it away into the bushes, where I daresay it is at this moment.  "Away with you," I cried, "away with you, symbol of conventionality, of slavery, of pandering to a desire to please -- away with you, miserable little lace-edged rag!"  And so young had I grown within the last few minutes that I did not even feel silly.

As a Backfisch I had never used handkerchiefs -- the child of nature scorns to blow its nose -- though for decency's sake my governess insisted on giving me a clean one of vast size and stubborn texture on Sundays.  It was stowed away unfolded in the remotest corner of my pocket, where it was gradually pressed into a beautiful compactness by the other contents, which were knives.  After a while, I remember, the handkerchief being brought to light on Sundays to make room for a successor, and being manifestly perfectly clean, we came to an agreement that it should only be changed on the first and third Sundays in the month, on condition that I promised to turn it on the other Sundays.  My governess said that the outer folds became soiled from the mere contact with the other things in my pocket, and that visitors might catch sight of the soiled side if it was never turned when I wished to blow my nose in their presence, and that one had no right to give one's visitors shocks.  "But I never do wish --  -- " I began with great earnestness.  "Unsinn," said my governess, cutting me short.

After the first thrills of joy at being there again had gone, the profound stillness of the dripping little shrubbery frightened me.  It was so still that I was afraid to move; so still, that I could count each drop of moisture falling from the oozing wall; so still, that when I held my breath to listen, I was deafened by my own heart-beats.  I made a step forward in the direction where the arbour ought to be, and the rustling and jingling of my clothes terrified me into immobility.  The house was only two hundred yards off; and if any one had been about, the noise I had already made opening the creaking door and so foolishly apostrophising my handkerchief must have been noticed.  Suppose an inquiring gardener, or a restless cousin, should presently loom through the fog, bearing down upon me? 

Suppose Fraulein Wundermacher should pounce upon me suddenly from behind, coming up noiselessly in her galoshes, and shatter my castles with her customary triumphant "Fetzt halte ich dich aber fest!"  Why, what was I thinking of?  Fraulein Wundermacher, so big and masterful, such an enemy of day-dreams, such a friend of das Praktische, such a lover of creature comforts, had died long ago, had been succeeded long ago by others, German sometimes, and sometimes English, and sometimes at intervals French, and they too had all in their turn vanished, and I was here a solitary ghost.  "Come, Elizabeth," said I to myself impatiently, "are you actually growing sentimental over your governesses?  If you think you are a ghost, be glad at least that you are a solitary one.  Would you like the ghosts of all those poor women you tormented to rise up now in this gloomy place against you?  And do you intend to stand here till you are caught?" And thus exhorting myself to action, and recognising how great was the risk I ran in lingering, I started down the little path leading to the arbour and the principal part of the garden, going, it is true, on tiptoe, and very much frightened by the rustling of my petticoats, but determined to see what I had come to see and not to be scared away by phantoms.

How regretfully did I think at that moment of the petticoats of my youth, so short, so silent, and so woollen!  And how convenient the canvas shoes were with the india rubber soles, for creeping about without making a sound!  Thanks to them I could always run swiftly and unheard into my hiding-places, and stay there listening to the garden resounding with cries of "Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!  Come in at once to your lessons!"  Or, at a different period, "Ou etes-vous donc, petite sotte?"  Or at yet another period, "Warte nur, wenn ich dich erst habe!"  As the voices came round one corner, I whisked in my noiseless clothes round the next, and it was only Fraulein Wundermacher, a person of resource, who discovered that all she needed for my successful circumvention was galoshes.  She purchased a pair, wasted no breath calling me, and would come up silently, as I stood lapped in a false security lost in the contemplation of a squirrel or a robin, and seize me by the shoulders from behind, to the grievous unhinging of my nerves. 

Stealing along in the fog, I looked back uneasily once or twice, so vivid was this disquieting memory, and could hardly be reassured by putting up my hand to the elaborate twists and curls that compose what my maid calls my Frisur, and that mark the gulf lying between the present and the past; for it had happened once or twice, awful to relate and to remember, that Fraulein Wundermacher, sooner than let me slip through her fingers, had actually caught me by the long plait of hair to whose other end I was attached and whose English name I had been told was pigtail, just at the instant when I was springing away from her into the bushes; and so had led me home triumphant, holding on tight to the rope of hair, and muttering with a broad smile of special satisfaction, "Diesmal wirst du mir aber nicht entschlupfen!" 

Fraulein Wundermacher, now I came to think of it, must have been a humourist.  She was certainly a clever and a capable woman.  But I wished at that moment that she would not haunt me so persistently, and that I could get rid of the feeling that she was just behind in her galoshes, with her hand stretched out to seize me. 

Passing the arbour, and peering into its damp recesses, I started back with my heart in my mouth.  I thought I saw my grandfather's stern eyes shining in the darkness.  It was evident that my anxiety lest the cousins should catch me had quite upset my nerves, for I am not by nature inclined to see eyes where eyes are not.  "Don't be foolish, Elizabeth," murmured my soul in rather a faint voice, "go in, and make sure."   "But I don't like going in and making sure," I replied.  I did go in, however, with a sufficient show of courage, and fortunately the eyes vanished.  What I should have done if they had not I am altogether unable to imagine.  Ghosts are things that I laugh at in the daytime and fear at night, but I think if I were to meet one I should die. 

The arbour had fallen into great decay, and was in the last stage of mouldiness.  My grandfather had had it made, and, like other buildings, it enjoyed a period of prosperity before being left to the ravages of slugs and children, when he came down every afternoon in summer and drank his coffee there and read his Kreuzzeitung and dozed, while the rest of us went about on tiptoe, and only the birds dared sing.  Even the mosquitoes that infested the place were too much in awe of him to sting him; they certainly never did sting him, and I naturally concluded it must be because he had forbidden such familiarities.  Although I had played there for so many years since his death, my memory skipped them all, and went back to the days when it was exclusively his. 

Standing on the spot where his armchair used to be, I felt how well I knew him now from the impressions he made then on my child's mind, though I was not conscious of them for more than twenty years.  Nobody told me about him, and he died when I was six, and yet within the last year or two, that strange Indian summer of remembrance that comes to us in the leisured times when the children have been born and we have time to think, has made me know him perfectly well. 

It is rather an uncomfortable thought for the grown-up, and especially for the parent, but of a salutary and restraining nature, that though children may not understand what is said and done before them, and have no interest in it at the time, and though they may forget it at once and for years, yet these things that they have seen and heard and not noticed have after all impressed themselves for ever on their minds, and when they are men and women come crowding back with surprising and often painful distinctness, and away frisk all the cherished little illusions in flocks.

I had an awful reverence for my grandfather.  He never petted, and he often frowned, and such people are generally reverenced.  Besides, he was a just man, everybody said; a just man who might have been a great man if he had chosen, and risen to almost any pinnacle of worldly glory.  That he had not so chosen was held to be a convincing proof of his greatness; for he was plainly too great to be great in the vulgar sense, and shrouded himself in the dignity of privacy and potentialities.  This, at least, as time passed and he still did nothing, was the belief of the simple people around.  People must believe in somebody, and having pinned their faith on my grandfather in the promising years that lie round thirty, it was more convenient to let it remain there. 

He pervaded our family life till my sixth year, and saw to it that we all behaved ourselves, and then he died, and we were glad that he should be in heaven.  He was a good German (and when Germans are good they are very good) who kept the commandments, voted for the Government, grew prize potatoes and bred innumerable sheep, drove to Berlin once a year with the wool in a procession of wagons behind him and sold it at the annual Wollmarkt, rioted soberly for a few days there, and then carried most of the proceeds home, hunted as often as possible, helped his friends, punished his children, read his Bible, said his prayers, and was genuinely astonished when his wife had the affectation to die of a broken heart. 

I cannot pretend to explain this conduct.  She ought, of course, to have been happy in the possession of so good a man; but good men are sometimes oppressive, and to have one in the house with you and to live in the daily glare of his goodness must be a tremendous business.  After bearing him seven sons and three daughters, therefore, my grandmother died in the way described, and afforded, said my grandfather, another and a very curious proof of the impossibility of ever being sure of your ground with women. 

The incident faded more quickly from his mind than it might otherwise have done for its having occurred simultaneously with the production of a new kind of potato, of which he was justly proud.  He called it Trost in Trauer, and quoted the text of Scripture Auge um Auge, Zabn um Zahn, after which he did not again allude to his wife's decease. 

In his last years, when my father managed the estate, and he only lived with us and criticised, he came to have the reputation of an oracle.  The neighbours sent him their sons at the beginning of any important phase in their lives, and he received them in this very arbour, administering eloquent and minute advice in the deep voice that rolled round the shrubbery and filled me with a vague sense of guilt as I played.  Sitting among the bushes playing muffled games for fear of disturbing him, I supposed he must be reading aloud, so unbroken was the monotony of that majestic roll.  The young men used to come out again bathed in perspiration, much stung by mosquitoes, and looking bewildered; and when they had got over the impression made by my grandfather's speech and presence, no doubt forgot all he had said with wholesome quickness, and set themselves to the interesting and necessary work of gaining their own experience. 

Once, indeed, a dreadful thing happened, whose immediate consequence was the abrupt end to the long and close friendship between us and our nearest neighbour.  His son was brought to the arbour and left there in the usual way, and either he must have happened on the critical half hour after the coffee and before the Kreuzzeitung, when my grandfather was accustomed to sleep, or he was more courageous than the others and tried to talk, for very shortly, playing as usual near at hand, I heard my grandfather's voice, raised to an extent that made me stop in my game and quake, saying with deliberate anger, "Hebe dich weg von mir, Sohn des Satans!" Which was all the advice this particular young man got, and which he hastened to take, for out he came through the bushes, and though his face was very pale, there was an odd twist about the corners of his mouth that reassured me.

This must have happened quite at the end of my grandfather's life, for almost immediately afterwards, as it now seems to me, he died before he need have done because he would eat crab, a dish that never agreed with him, in the face of his doctor's warning that if he did he would surely die.  "What!  am I to be conquered by crabs?" he demanded indignantly of the doctor; for apart from loving them with all his heart he had never yet been conquered by anything.  "Nay, sir, the combat is too unequal -- do not, I pray you, try it again," replied the doctor.  But my grandfather ordered crabs that very night for supper, and went in to table with the shining eyes of one who is determined to conquer or die, and the crabs conquered, and he died. 

"He was a just man," said the neighbours, except that nearest neighbour, formerly his best friend, "and might have been a great one had he so chosen."   And they buried him with profound respect, and the sunshine came into our home life with a burst, and the birds were not the only creatures that sang, and the arbour, from having been a temple of Delphic utterances, sank into a home for slugs.

Musing on the strangeness of life, and on the invariable ultimate triumph of the insignificant and small over the important and vast, illustrated in this instance by the easy substitution in the arbour of slugs for grandfathers, I went slowly round the next bend of the path, and came to the broad walk along the south side of the high wall dividing the flower garden from the kitchen garden, in which sheltered position my father had had his choicest flowers.  Here the cousins had been at work, and all the climbing roses that clothed the wall with beauty were gone, and some very neat fruit trees, tidily nailed up at proper intervals, reigned in their stead.  Evidently the cousins knew the value of this warm aspect, for in the border beneath, filled in my father's time in this month of November with the wallflowers that were to perfume the walk in spring, there was a thick crop of -- I stooped down close to make sure -- yes, a thick crop of radishes. 

My eyes filled with tears at the sight of those radishes, and it is probably the only occasion on record on which radishes have made anybody cry.  My dear father, whom I so passionately loved, had in his turn passionately loved this particular border, and spent the spare moments of a busy life enjoying the flowers that grew in it.  He had no time himself for a more near acquaintance with the delights of gardening than directing what plants were to be used, but found rest from his daily work strolling up and down here, or sitting smoking as close to the flowers as possible.  "It is the Purest of Humane pleasures, it is the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man," he would quote (for he read other things besides the Kreuzzeitung), looking round with satisfaction on reaching this fragrant haven after a hot day in the fields. 

Well, the cousins did not think so.  Less fanciful, and more sensible as they probably would have said, their position plainly was that you cannot eat flowers.  Their spirits required no refreshment, but their bodies needed much, and therefore radishes were more precious than wallflowers.  Nor was my youth wholly destitute of radishes, but they were grown in the decent obscurity of odd kitchen garden corners and old cucumber frames, and would never have been allowed to come among the flowers.  And only because I was not a boy here they were profaning the ground that used to be so beautiful.  Oh, it was a terrible misfortune not to have been a boy!  And how sad and lonely it was, after all, in this ghostly garden.  The radish bed and what it symbolised had turned my first joy into grief. 

This walk and border reminded me too much of my father, and of all he had been to me.  What I knew of good he had taught me, and what I had of happiness was through him.  Only once during all the years we lived together had we been of different opinions and fallen out, and it was the one time I ever saw him severe.  I was four years old, and demanded one Sunday to be taken to church.  My father said no, for I had never been to church, and the German service is long and exhausting.  I implored.  He again said no.  I implored again, and showed such a pious disposition, and so earnest a determination to behave well, that he gave in, and we went off very happily hand in hand. 

"Now mind, Elizabeth," he said, turning to me at the church door, "there is no coming out again in the middle.  Having insisted on being brought, thou shalt now sit patiently till the end."  

"Oh, yes, oh, yes," I promised eagerly, and went in filled with holy fire. 

The shortness of my legs, hanging helplessly for two hours midway between the seat and the floor, was the weapon chosen by Satan for my destruction.  In German churches you do not kneel, and seldom stand, but sit nearly the whole time, praying and singing in great comfort.  If you are four years old, however, this unchanged position soon becomes one of torture.  Unknown and dreadful things go on in your legs, strange prickings and tinglings and dartings up and down, a sudden terrifying numbness, when you think they must have dropped off but are afraid to look, then renewed and fiercer prickings, shootings, and burnings.  I thought I must be very ill, for I had never known my legs like that before. 

My father sitting beside me was engrossed in the singing of a chorale that evidently had no end, each verse finished with a long-drawn-out hallelujah, after which the organ played by itself for a hundred years -- by the organist's watch, which was wrong, two minutes exactly -- and then another verse began.  My father, being the patron of the living, was careful to sing and pray and listen to the sermon with exemplary attention, aware that every eye in the little church was on our pew, and at first I tried to imitate him; but the behaviour of my legs became so alarming that after vainly casting imploring glances at him and seeing that he continued his singing unmoved, I put out my hand and pulled his sleeve.

"Hal-le-lu-jah," sang my father with deliberation; continuing in a low voice without changing the expression of his face, his lips hardly moving, and his eyes fixed abstractedly on the ceiling till the organist, who was also the postman, should have finished his solo, "Did I not tell thee to sit still, Elizabeth?"

"Yes, but --  -- "

"Then do it."  

"But I want to go home." 

"Unsinn."  And the next verse beginning, my father sang louder than ever. 

What could I do?  Should I cry?  I began to be afraid I was going to die on that chair, so extraordinary were the sensations in my legs.  What could my father do to me if I did cry?  With the quick instinct of small children I felt that he could not put me in the corner in church, nor would he whip me in public, and that with the whole village looking on, he was helpless, and would have to give in.  Therefore I tugged his sleeve again and more peremptorily, and prepared to demand my immediate removal in a loud voice. 

But my father was ready for me.  Without interrupting his singing, or altering his devout expression, he put his hand slowly down and gave me a hard pinch -- not a playful pinch, but a good hard unmistakeable pinch, such as I had never imagined possible, and then went on serenely to the next hallelujah. 

For a moment I was petrified with astonishment.  Was this my indulgent father, my playmate, adorer, and friend?  Smarting with pain, for I was a round baby, with a nicely stretched, tight skin, and dreadfully hurt in my feelings, I opened my mouth to shriek in earnest, when my father's clear whisper fell on my ear, each word distinct and not to be misunderstood, his eyes as before gazing meditatively into space, and his lips hardly moving, "Elizabeth, wenn du schreist, kneife ich dich bis du platzt."   And he finished the verse with unruffled decorum --

    "Will Satan mich verschlingen,

     So lass die Engel singen


We never had another difference.  Up to then he had been my willing slave, and after that I was his.

With a smile and a shiver I turned from the border and its memories to the door in the wall leading to the kitchen garden, in a corner of which my own little garden used to be.  The door was open, and I stood still a moment before going through, to hold my breath and listen.  The silence was as profound as before.  The place seemed deserted; and I should have thought the house empty and shut up but for the carefully tended radishes and the recent footmarks on the green of the path. 

They were the footmarks of a child.  I was stooping down to examine a specially clear one, when the loud caw of a very bored looking crow sitting on the wall just above my head made me jump as I have seldom in my life jumped, and reminded me that I was trespassing.  Clearly my nerves were all to pieces, for I gathered up my skirts and fled through the door as though a whole army of ghosts and cousins were at my heels, nor did I stop till I had reached the remote corner where my garden was. 

"Are you enjoying yourself, Elizabeth?" asked the mocking sprite that calls itself my soul: but I was too much out of breath to answer.

This was really a very safe corner.  It was separated from the main garden and the house by the wall, and shut in on the north side by an orchard, and it was to the last degree unlikely that any one would come there on such an afternoon.  This plot of ground, turned now as I saw into a rockery, had been the scene of my most untiring labours.  Into the cold earth of this north border on which the sun never shone I had dug my brightest hopes.  All my pocket money had been spent on it, and as bulbs were dear and my weekly allowance small, in a fatal hour I had borrowed from Fraulein Wundermacher, selling her my independence, passing utterly into her power, forced as a result till my next birthday should come round to an unnatural suavity of speech and manner in her company, against which my very soul revolted. 

And after all, nothing came up.  The labour of digging and watering, the anxious zeal with which I pounced on weeds, the poring over gardening books, the plans made as I sat on the little seat in the middle gazing admiringly and with the eye of faith on the trim surface so soon to be gemmed with a thousand flowers, the reckless expenditure of pfennings, the humiliation of my position in regard to Fraulein Wundermacher, -- all, all had been in vain.  No sun shone there, and nothing grew. 

The gardener who reigned supreme in those days had given me this big piece for that sole reason, because he could do nothing with it himself.  He was no doubt of opinion that it was quite good enough for a child to experiment upon, and went his way, when I had thanked him with a profuseness of gratitude I still remember, with an unmoved countenance.  For more than a year I worked and waited, and watched the career of the flourishing orchard opposite with puzzled feelings.  The orchard was only a few yards away, and yet, although my garden was full of manure, and water, and attentions that were never bestowed on the orchard, all it could show and ever did show were a few unhappy beginnings of growth that either remained stationary and did not achieve flowers, or dwindled down again and vanished. 

Once I timidly asked the gardener if he could explain these signs and wonders, but he was a busy man with no time for answering questions, and told me shortly that gardening was not learned in a day.  How well I remember that afternoon, and the very shape of the lazy clouds, and the smell of spring things, and myself going away abashed and sitting on the shaky bench in my domain and wondering for the hundredth time what it was that made the difference between my bit and the bit of orchard in front of me. 

The fruit trees, far enough away from the wall to be beyond the reach of its cold shade, were tossing their flower-laden heads in the sunshine in a carelessly well-satisfied fashion that filled my heart with envy.  There was a rise in the field behind them, and at the foot of its protecting slope they luxuriated in the insolent glory of their white and pink perfection. 

It was May, and my heart bled at the thought of the tulips I had put in in November, and that I had never seen since.  The whole of the rest of the garden was on fire with tulips; behind me, on the other side of the wall, were rows and rows of them, -- cups of translucent loveliness, a jewelled ring flung right round the lawn.  But what was there not on the other side of that wall?  Things came up there and grew and flowered exactly as my gardening books said they should do; and in front of me, in the gay orchard, things that nobody ever troubled about or cultivated or noticed throve joyously beneath the trees, -- daffodils thrusting their spears through the grass, crocuses peeping out inquiringly, snowdrops uncovering their small cold faces when the first shivering spring days came.  Only my piece that I so loved was perpetually ugly and empty.  And I sat in it thinking of these things on that radiant day, and wept aloud.

Then an apprentice came by, a youth who had often seen me busily digging, and noticing the unusual tears, and struck perhaps by the difference between my garden and the profusion of splendour all around, paused with his barrow on the path in front of me, and remarked that nobody could expect to get blood out of a stone.  The apparent irrelevance of this statement made me weep still louder, the bitter tears of insulted sorrow; but he stuck to his point, and harangued me from the path, explaining the connection between north walls and tulips and blood and stones till my tears all dried up again and I listened attentively, for the conclusion to be drawn from his remarks was plainly that I had been shamefully taken in by the head gardener, who was an unprincipled person thenceforward to be for ever mistrusted and shunned. 

Standing on the path from which the kindly apprentice had expounded his proverb, this scene rose before me as clearly as though it had taken place that very day; but how different everything looked, and how it had shrunk!  Was this the wide orchard that had seemed to stretch away, it and the sloping field beyond, up to the gates of heaven?  I believe nearly every child who is much alone goes through a certain time of hourly expecting the Day of Judgment, and I had made up my mind that on that Day the heavenly host would enter the world by that very field, coming down the slope in shining ranks, treading the daffodils under foot, filling the orchard with their songs of exultation, joyously seeking out the sheep from among the goats.  Of course I was a sheep, and my governess and the head gardener goats, so that the results could not fail to be in every way satisfactory.  But looking up at the slope and remembering my visions, I laughed at the smallness of the field I had supposed would hold all heaven.

Here again the cousins had been at work.  The site of my garden was occupied by a rockery, and the orchard grass with all its treasures had been dug up, and the spaces between the trees planted with currant bushes and celery in admirable rows; so that no future little cousins will be able to dream of celestial hosts coming towards them across the fields of daffodils, and will perhaps be the better for being free from visions of the kind, for as I grew older, uncomfortable doubts laid hold of my heart with cold fingers, dim uncertainties as to the exact ultimate position of the gardener and the governess, anxious questionings as to how it would be if it were they who turned out after all to be sheep, and I who -- ?  For that we all three might be gathered into the same fold at the last never, in those days, struck me as possible, and if it had I should not have liked it.

"Now what sort of person can that be," I asked myself, shaking my head, as I contemplated the changes before me, "who could put a rockery among vegetables and currant bushes?  A rockery, of all things in the gardening world, needs consummate tact in its treatment.  It is easier to make mistakes in forming a rockery than in any other garden scheme.  Either it is a great success, or it is great failure; either it is very charming, or it is very absurd.  There is no state between the sublime and the ridiculous possible in a rockery."  

I stood shaking my head disapprovingly at the rockery before me, lost in these reflections, when a sudden quick pattering of feet coming along in a great hurry made me turn round with a start, just in time to receive the shock of a body tumbling out of the mist and knocking violently against me.  It was a little girl of about twelve years old.

"Hullo!" said the little girl in excellent English; and then we stared at each other in astonishment.

"I thought you were Miss Robinson," said the little girl, offering no apology for having nearly knocked me down.  "Who are you?"

"Miss Robinson?  Miss Robinson?"  I repeated, my eyes fixed on the little girl's face, and a host of memories stirring within me.  "Why, didn't she marry a missionary, and go out to some place where they ate him?"

The little girl stared harder.  "Ate him?  Marry?  What, has she been married all this time to somebody who's been eaten and never let on?  Oh, I say, what a game!"  And she threw back her head and laughed till the garden rang again.

"O hush, you dreadful little girl!"  I implored, catching her by the arm, and terrified beyond measure by the loudness of her mirth.  "Don't make that horrid noise -- we are certain to be caught if you don't stop -- "

The little girl broke off a shriek of laughter in the middle and shut her mouth with a snap.  Her eyes, round and black and shiny like boot buttons, came still further out of her head.  "Caught?" she said eagerly.  "What, are you afraid of being caught too?  Well, this is a game!"  And with her hands plunged deep in the pockets of her coat she capered in front of me in the excess of her enjoyment, reminding me of a very fat black lamb frisking round the dazed and passive sheep its mother.

It was clear that the time had come for me to get down to the gate at the end of the garden as quickly as possible, and I began to move away in that direction.  The little girl at once stopped capering and planted herself squarely in front of me. 

"Who are you?" she said, examining me from my hat to my boots with the keenest interest.

I considered this ungarnished manner of asking questions impertinent, and, trying to look lofty, made an attempt to pass at the side.

The little girl, with a quick, cork-like movement, was there before me.

"Who are you?" she repeated, her expression friendly but firm. 

"Oh, I -- I'm a pilgrim," I said in desperation.

"A pilgrim!" echoed the little girl.  

She seemed struck, and while she was struck I slipped past her and began to walk quickly towards the door in the wall. 

"A pilgrim!" said the little girl, again, keeping close beside me, and looking me up and down attentively.  "I don't like pilgrims.  Aren't they people who are always walking about, and have things the matter with their feet?  Have you got anything the matter with your feet?"

"Certainly not," I replied indignantly, walking still faster. 

"And they never wash, Miss Robinson says.  You don't either, do you?"

"Not wash?  Oh, I'm afraid you are a very badly brought-up little girl -- oh, leave me alone -- I must run -- "

"So must I," said the little girl, cheerfully, "for Miss Robinson must be close behind us.  She nearly had me just before I found you."  And she started running by my side.

The thought of Miss Robinson close behind us gave wings to my feet, and, casting my dignity, of which, indeed, there was but little left, to the winds, I fairly flew down the path.  The little girl was not to be outrun, and though she panted and turned weird colours, kept by my side and even talked.  Oh, I was tired, tired in body and mind, tired by the different shocks I had received, tired by the journey, tired by the want of food; and here I was being forced to run because this very naughty little girl chose to hide instead of going in to her lessons.

"I say -- this is jolly -- " she jerked out.

"But why need we run to the same place?" I breathlessly asked, in the vain hope of getting rid of her. 

"Oh, yes -- that's just -- the fun.  We'd get on -- together -- you and I -- "

"No, no," said I, decided on this point, bewildered though I was.

"I can't stand washing -- either -- it's awful -- in winter -- and makes one have -- chaps." 

"But I don't mind it in the least," I protested faintly, not having any energy left.

"Oh, I say!" said the little girl, looking at my face, and making the sound known as a guffaw.  The familiarity of this little girl was wholly revolting.

We had got safely through the door, round the corner past the radishes, and were in the shrubbery.  I knew from experience how easy it was to hide in the tangle of little paths, and stopped a moment to look round and listen.  The little girl opened her mouth to speak.  With great presence of mind I instantly put my muff in front of it and held it there tight, while I listened.  Dead silence, except for the laboured breathing and struggles of the little girl.

"I don't hear a sound," I whispered, letting her go again.  "Now what did you want to say?" I added, eyeing her severely.

"I wanted to say," she panted, "that it's no good pretending you wash with a nose like that." 

"A nose like that!  A nose like what?" I exclaimed, greatly offended; and though I put up my hand and very tenderly and carefully felt it, I could find no difference in it.  "I am afraid poor Miss Robinson must have a wretched life," I said, in tones of deep disgust.

The little girl smiled fatuously, as though I were paying her compliments.  "It's all green and brown," she said, pointing.  "Is it always like that?"

Then I remembered the wet fir tree near the gate, and the enraptured kiss it had received, and blushed.

"Won't it come off?" persisted the little girl.

"Of course it will come off," I answered, frowning.

"Why don't you rub it off?"

Then I remembered the throwing away of the handkerchief, and blushed again.

"Please lend me your handkerchief," I said humbly, "I -- I have lost mine." 

There was a great fumbling in six different pockets, and then a handkerchief that made me young again merely to look at it was produced.  I took it thankfully and rubbed with energy, the little girl, intensely interested, watching the operation and giving me advice. 

"There -- it's all right now -- a little more on the right -- there -- now it's all off." 

"Are you sure?  No green left?" I anxiously asked.

"No, it's red all over now," she replied cheerfully. 

"Let me get home," thought I, very much upset by this information, "let me get home to my dear, uncritical, admiring babies, who accept my nose as an example of what a nose should be, and whatever its colour, think it beautiful."   And thrusting the handkerchief back into the little girl's hands, I hurried away down the path. 

She packed it away hastily, but it took some seconds for it was of the size of a small sheet, and then came running after me.  "Where are you going?" she asked surprised, as I turned down the path leading to the gate.

"Through this gate," I replied with decision.

"But you mustn't -- we're not allowed to go through there -- "

So strong was the force of old habits in that place that at the words not allowed my hand dropped of itself from the latch; and at that instant a voice calling quite close to us through the mist struck me rigid.

"Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!" called the voice, "Come in at once to your lessons -- Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!"

"It's Miss Robinson," whispered the little girl, twinkling with excitement; then, catching sight of my face, she said once more with eager insistence, "Who are you?"

"Oh, I'm a ghost!" I cried with conviction, pressing my hands to my forehead and looking round fearfully.

"Pooh," said the little girl.

It was the last remark I heard her make, for there was a creaking of approaching boots in the bushes, and seized by a frightful panic I pulled the gate open with one desperate pull, flung it to behind me, and fled out and away down the wide, misty fields.

The Gotha Almanach says that the reigning cousin married the daughter of a Mr.  Johnstone, an Englishman, in 1885, and that in 1886 their only child was born, Elizabeth.  November 20th.

Last night we had ten degrees of frost (Fahrenheit), and I went out the first thing this morning to see what had become of the tea-roses, and behold, they were wide awake and quite cheerful -- covered with rime it is true, but anything but black and shrivelled.  Even those in boxes on each side of the verandah steps were perfectly alive and full of buds, and one in particular, a Bouquet d'Or, is a mass of buds, and would flower if it could get the least encouragement.  I am beginning to think that the tenderness of tea-roses is much exaggerated, and am certainly very glad I had the courage to try them in this northern garden.  But I must not fly too boldly in the face of Providence, and have ordered those in the boxes to be taken into the greenhouse for the winter, and hope the Bouquet d'Or, in a sunny place near the glass, may be induced to open some of those buds. 

The greenhouse is only used as a refuge, and kept at a temperature just above freezing, and is reserved entirely for such plants as cannot stand the very coldest part of the winter out of doors.  I don't use it for growing anything, because I don't love things that will only bear the garden for three or four months in the year and require coaxing and petting for the rest of it.  Give me a garden full of strong, healthy creatures, able to stand roughness and cold without dismally giving in and dying.  I never could see that delicacy of constitution is pretty, either in plants or women.  No doubt there are many lovely flowers to be had by heat and constant coaxing, but then for each of these there are fifty others still lovelier that will gratefully grow in God's wholesome air and are blessed in return with a far greater intensity of scent and colour.

We have been very busy till now getting the permanent beds into order and planting the new tea-roses, and I am looking forward to next summer with more hope than ever in spite of my many failures.  I wish the years would pass quickly that will bring my garden to perfection! 

The Persian Yellows have gone into their new quarters, and their place is occupied by the tearose Safrano; all the rose beds are carpeted with pansies sown in July and transplanted in October, each bed having a separate colour.  The purple ones are the most charming and go well with every rose, but I have white ones with Laurette Messimy, and yellow ones with Safrano, and a new red sort in the big centre bed of red roses.  Round the semicircle on the south side of the little privet hedge two rows of annual larkspurs in all their delicate shades have been sown, and just beyond the larkspurs, on the grass, is a semicircle of standard tea and pillar roses.

In front of the house the long borders have been stocked with larkspurs, annual and perennial, columbines, giant poppies, pinks, Madonna lilies, wallflowers, hollyhocks, perennial phloxes, peonies, lavender, starworts, cornflowers, Lychnis chalcedonica, and bulbs packed in wherever bulbs could go.  These are the borders that were so hardly used by the other gardener. 

The spring boxes for the verandah steps have been filled with pink and white and yellow tulips.  I love tulips better than any other spring flower; they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace, and next to a hyacinth look like a wholesome, freshly tubbed young girl beside a stout lady whose every movement weighs down the air with patchouli.  Their faint, delicate scent is refinement itself; and is there anything in the world more charming than the sprightly way they hold up their little faces to the sun.  I have heard them called bold and flaunting, but to me they seem modest grace itself, only always on the alert to enjoy life as much as they can and not afraid of looking the sun or anything else above them in the face.  On the grass there are two beds of them carpeted with forget-me-nots; and in the grass, in scattered groups, are daffodils and narcissus.  Down the wilder shrubbery walks foxgloves and mulleins will (I hope) shine majestic; and one cool corner, backed by a group of firs, is graced by Madonna lilies, white foxgloves, and columbines.

In a distant glade I have made a spring garden round an oak tree that stands alone in the sun -- groups of crocuses, daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths, and tulips, among such flowering shrubs and trees as Pirus Malus spectabilis, floribunda, and coronaria; Prunus Juliana, Mahaleb, serotina, triloba, and Pissardi; Cydonias and Weigelias in every colour, and several kinds of Crataegus and other May lovelinesses.  If the weather behaves itself nicely, and we get gentle rains in due season, I think this little corner will be beautiful -- but what a big "if" it is! 

Drought is our great enemy, and the two last summers each contained five weeks of blazing, cloudless heat when all the ditches dried up and the soil was like hot pastry.  At such times the watering is naturally quite beyond the strength of two men; but as a garden is a place to be happy in, and not one where you want to meet a dozen curious eyes at every turn, I should not like to have more than these two, or rather one and a half -- the assistant having stork-like proclivities and going home in the autumn to his native Russia, returning in the spring with the first warm winds.  I want to keep him over the winter, as there is much to be done even then, and I sounded him on the point the other day.  He is the most abject-looking of human beings -- lame, and afflicted with a hideous eye-disease; but he is a good worker and plods along unwearyingly from sunrise to dusk.

"Pray, my good stork," said I, or German words to that effect, "why don't you stay here altogether, instead of going home and rioting away all you have earned?"

"I would stay," he answered, "but I have my wife there in Russia." 

"Your wife!" I exclaimed, stupidly surprised that the poor deformed creature should have found a mate -- as though there were not a superfluity of mates in the world -- "I didn't know you were married?"

"Yes, and I have two little children, and I don't know what they would do if I were not to come home.  But it is a very expensive journey to Russia, and costs me every time seven marks." 

"Seven marks!"

"Yes, it is a great sum." 

I wondered whether I should be able to get to Russia for seven marks, supposing I were to be seized with an unnatural craving to go there.

All the labourers who work here from March to December are Russians and Poles, or a mixture of both.  We send a man over who can speak their language, to fetch as many as he can early in the year, and they arrive with their bundles, men and women and babies, and as soon as they have got here and had their fares paid, they disappear in the night if they get the chance, sometimes fifty of them at a time, to go and work singly or in couples for the peasants, who pay them a pfenning or two more a day than we do, and let them eat with the family.  From us they get a mark and a half to two marks a day, and as many potatoes as they can eat.  The women get less, not because they work less, but because they are women and must not be encouraged.  The overseer lives with them, and has a loaded revolver in his pocket and a savage dog at his heels.  For the first week or two after their arrival, the foresters and other permanent officials keep guard at night over the houses they are put into.  I suppose they find it sleepy work; for certain it is that spring after spring the same thing happens, fifty of them getting away in spite of all our precautions, and we are left with our mouths open and much out of pocket.  This spring, by some mistake, they arrived without their bundles, which had gone astray on the road, and, as they travel in their best clothes, they refused utterly to work until their luggage came.  Nearly a week was lost waiting, to the despair of all in authority.

Nor will any persuasions induce them to do anything on Saints' days, and there surely never was a church so full of them as the Russian Church.  In the spring, when every hour is of vital importance, the work is constantly being interrupted by them, and the workers lie sleeping in the sun the whole day, agreeably conscious that they are pleasing themselves and the Church at one and the same time -- a state of perfection as rare as it is desirable.  Reason unaided by Faith is of course exasperated at this waste of precious time, and I confess that during the first mild days after the long winter frost when it is possible to begin to work the ground, I have sympathised with the gloom of the Man of Wrath, confronted in one week by two or three empty days on which no man will labour, and have listened in silence to his remarks about distant Russian saints.

I suppose it was my own superfluous amount of civilisation that made me pity these people when first I came to live among them.  They herd together like animals and do the work of animals; but in spite of the armed overseer, the dirt and the rags, the meals of potatoes washed down by weak vinegar and water, I am beginning to believe that they would strongly object to soap, I am sure they would not wear new clothes, and I hear them coming home from their work at dusk singing.  They are like little children or animals in their utter inability to grasp the idea of a future; and after all, if you work all day in God's sunshine, when evening comes you are pleasantly tired and ready for rest and not much inclined to find fault with your lot. 

I have not yet persuaded myself, however, that the women are happy.  They have to work as hard as the men and get less for it; they have to produce offspring, quite regardless of times and seasons and the general fitness of things; they have to do this as expeditiously as possible, so that they may not unduly interrupt the work in hand; nobody helps them, notices them, or cares about them, least of all the husband.  It is quite a usual thing to see them working in the fields in the morning, and working again in the afternoon, having in the interval produced a baby.  The baby is left to an old woman whose duty it is to look after babies collectively.  When I expressed my horror at the poor creatures working immediately afterwards as though nothing had happened, the Man of Wrath informed me that they did not suffer because they had never worn corsets, nor had their mothers and grandmothers.  We were riding together at the time, and had just passed a batch of workers, and my husband was speaking to the overseer, when a woman arrived alone, and taking up a spade, began to dig.  She grinned cheerfully at us as she made a curtesy, and the overseer remarked that she had just been back to the house and had a baby.

"Poor, poor woman!" I cried, as we rode on, feeling for some occult reason very angry with the Man of Wrath.  "And her wretched husband doesn't care a rap, and will probably beat her to-night if his supper isn't right.  What nonsense it is to talk about the equality of the sexes when the women have the babies!"

"Quite so, my dear," replied the Man of Wrath, smiling condescendingly.  "You have got to the very root of the matter.  Nature, while imposing this agreeable duty on the woman, weakens her and disables her for any serious competition with man.  How can a person who is constantly losing a year of the best part of her life compete with a young man who never loses any time at all?  He has the brute force, and his last word on any subject could always be his fist." 

I said nothing.  It was a dull, gray afternoon in the beginning of November, and the leaves dropped slowly and silently at our horses' feet as we rode towards the Hirschwald.

"It is a universal custom," proceeded the Man of Wrath, "amongst these Russians, and I believe amongst the lower classes everywhere, and certainly commendable on the score of simplicity, to silence a woman's objections and aspirations by knocking her down.  I have heard it said that this apparently brutal action has anything but the maddening effect tenderly nurtured persons might suppose, and that the patient is soothed and satisfied with a rapidity and completeness unattainable by other and more polite methods. 

Do you suppose," he went on, flicking a twig off a tree with his whip as we passed, "that the intellectual husband, wrestling intellectually with the chaotic yearnings of his intellectual wife, ever achieves the result aimed at?  He may and does go on wrestling till he is tired, but never does he in the very least convince her of her folly; while his brother in the ragged coat has got through the whole business in less time than it takes me to speak about it.  There is no doubt that these poor women fulfill their vocation far more thoroughly than the women in our class, and, as the truest: happiness consists in finding one's vocation quickly and continuing in it all one's days, I consider they are to be envied rather than not, since they are early taught, by the impossibility of argument with marital muscle, the impotence of female endeavour and the blessings of content." 

"Pray go on," I said politely.

"These women accept their beatings with a simplicity worthy of all praise, and far from considering themselves insulted, admire the strength and energy of the man who can administer such eloquent rebukes.  In Russia, not only may a man beat his wife, but it is laid down in the catechism and taught all boys at the time of confirmation as necessary at least once a week, whether she has done anything or not, for the sake of her general health and happiness." 

I thought I observed a tendency in the Man of Wrath rather to gloat over these castigations.


"Pray, my dear man," I said, pointing with my whip, "look at that baby moon so innocently peeping at us over the edge of the mist just behind that silver birch; and don't talk so much about women and things you don't understand.  What is the use of your bothering about fists and whips and muscles and all the dreadful things invented for the confusion of obstreperous wives?  You know you are a civilised husband, and a civilised husband is a creature who has ceased to be a man.

"And a civilised wife?" he asked, bringing his horse close up beside me and putting his arm round my waist, "has she ceased to be a woman?"

"I should think so indeed, -- she is a goddess, and can never be worshipped and adored enough." 

"It seems to me," he said, "that the conversation is growing personal." 

I started off at a canter across the short, springy turf.  The Hirschwald is an enchanted place on such an evening, when the mists lie low on the turf, and overhead the delicate, bare branches of the silver birches stand out clear against the soft sky, while the little moon looks down kindly on the damp November world.  Where the trees thicken into a wood, the fragrance of the wet earth and rotting leaves kicked up by the horses' hoofs fills my soul with delight.  I particularly love that smell, -- it brings before me the entire benevolence of Nature, for ever working death and decay, so piteous in themselves, into the means of fresh life and glory, and sending up sweet odours as she works.

December 7th.

I have been to England.  I went for at least a month and stayed a week in a fog and was blown home again in a gale.  Twice I fled before the fogs into the country to see friends with gardens, but it was raining, and except the beautiful lawns (not to be had in the Fatherland) and the infinite possibilities, there was nothing to interest the intelligent and garden-loving foreigner, for the good reason that you cannot be interested in gardens under an umbrella.  So I went back to the fogs, and after groping about for a few days more began to long inordinately for Germany.  A terrific gale sprang up after I had started, and the journey both by sea and land was full of horrors, the trains in Germany being heated to such an extent that it is next to impossible to sit still, great gusts of hot air coming up under the cushions, the cushions themselves being very hot, and the wretched traveller still hotter.

But when I reached my home and got out of the train into the purest, brightest snow-atmosphere, the air so still that the whole world seemed to be listening, the sky cloudless, the crisp snow sparkling underfoot and on the trees, and a happy row of three beaming babies awaiting me, I was consoled for all my torments, only remembering them enough to wonder why I had gone away at all.

The babies each had a kitten in one hand and an elegant bouquet of pine needles and grass in the other, and what with the due presentation of the bouquets and the struggles of the kittens, the hugging and kissing was much interfered with.  Kittens, bouquets, and babies were all somehow squeezed into the sleigh, and off we went with jingling bells and shrieks of delight. 

"Directly you comes home the fun begins," said the May baby, sitting very close to me. 

"How the snow purrs!" cried the April baby, as the horses scrunched it up with their feet.  

The June baby sat loudly singing "The King of Love my Shepherd is," and swinging her kitten round by its tail to emphasise the rhythm.

The house, half-buried in the snow, looked the very abode of peace, and I ran through all the rooms, eager to take possession of them again, and feeling as though I had been away for ever.  When I got to the library I came to a standstill, -- ah, the dear room, what happy times I have spent in it rummaging amongst the books, making plans for my garden, building castles in the air, writing, dreaming, doing nothing!  There was a big peat fire blazing half up the chimney, and the old housekeeper had put pots of flowers about, and on the writing-table was a great bunch of violets scenting the room. 

"Oh, how good it is to be home again!" I sighed in my satisfaction. 

The babies clung about my knees, looking up at me with eyes full of love.  Outside the dazzling snow and sunshine, inside the bright room and happy faces -- I thought of those yellow fogs and shivered. 

The library is not used by the Man of Wrath; it is neutral ground where we meet in the evenings for an hour before he disappears into his own rooms -- a series of very smoky dens in the southeast corner of the house.  It looks, I am afraid, rather too gay for an ideal library; and its colouring, white and yellow, is so cheerful as to be almost frivolous.  There are white bookcases all round the walls, and there is a great fireplace, and four windows, facing full south, opening on to my most cherished bit of garden, the bit round the sun-dial; so that with so much colour and such a big fire and such floods of sunshine it has anything but a sober air, in spite of the venerable volumes filling the shelves.  Indeed, I should never be surprised if they skipped down from their places, and, picking up their leaves, began to dance.

With this room to live in, I can look forward with perfect equanimity to being snowed up for any time Providence thinks proper; and to go into the garden in its snowed-up state is like going into a bath of purity.  The first breath on opening the door is so ineffably pure that it makes me gasp, and I feel a black and sinful object in the midst of all the spotlessness.


Yesterday I sat out of doors near the sun-dial the whole afternoon, with the thermometer so many degrees below freezing that it will be weeks finding its way up again; but there was no wind, and beautiful sunshine, and I was well wrapped up in furs.  I even had tea brought out there, to the astonishment of the menials, and sat till long after the sun had set, enjoying the frosty air.  I had to drink the tea very quickly, for it showed a strong inclination to begin to freeze. 

After the sun had gone down the rooks came home to their nests in the garden with a great fuss and fluttering, and many hesitations and squabbles before they settled on their respective trees.  They flew over my head in hundreds with a mighty swish of wings, and when they had arranged themselves comfortably, an intense hush fell upon the garden, and the house began to look like a Christmas card, with its white roof against the clear, pale green of the western sky, and lamplight shining in the windows.

I had been reading a Life of Luther, lent me by our parson, in the intervals between looking round me and being happy.  He came one day with the book and begged me to read it, having discovered that my interest in Luther was not as living as it ought to be; so I took it out with me into the garden, because the dullest book takes on a certain saving grace if read out of doors, just as bread and butter, devoid of charm in the drawing-room, is ambrosia eaten under a tree.  I read Luther all the afternoon with pauses for refreshing glances at the garden and the sky, and much thankfulness in my heart.  His struggles with devils amazed me; and I wondered whether such a day as that, full of grace and the forgiveness of sins, never struck him as something to make him relent even towards devils.  He apparently never allowed himself just to be happy.  He was a wonderful man, but I am glad I was not his wife.

Our parson is an interesting person, and untiring in his efforts to improve himself.  Both he and his wife study whenever they have a spare moment, and there is a tradition that she stirs her puddings with one hand and holds a Latin grammar in the other, the grammar, of course, getting the greater share of her attention.  To most German Hausfraus the dinners and the puddings are of paramount importance, and they pride themselves on keeping those parts of their houses that are seen in a state of perpetual and spotless perfection, and this is exceedingly praiseworthy; but, I would humbly inquire, are there not other things even more important?  And is not plain living and high thinking better than the other way about?  And all too careful making of dinners and dusting of furniture takes a terrible amount of precious time, and -- and with shame I confess that my sympathies are all with the pudding and the grammar. 

It cannot be right to be the slave of one's household gods, and I protest that if my furniture ever annoyed me by wanting to be dusted when I wanted to be doing something else, and there was no one to do the dusting for me, I would cast it all into the nearest bonfire and sit and warm my toes at the flames with great contentment, triumphantly selling my dusters to the very next peddler who was weak enough to buy them. 

Parsons' wives have to do the housework and cooking themselves, and are thus not only cooks and housemaids, but if they have children -- and they always do have children -- they are head and under nurse as well; and besides these trifling duties have a good deal to do with their fruit and vegetable garden, and everything to do with their poultry.  This being so, is it not pathetic to find a young woman bravely struggling to learn languages and keep up with her husband?  If I were that husband, those puddings would taste sweetest to me that were served with Latin sauce. 

They are both severely pious, and are for ever engaged in desperate efforts to practise what they preach; than which, as we all know, nothing is more difficult.  He works in his parish with the most noble self-devotion, and never loses courage, although his efforts have been several times rewarded by disgusting libels pasted up on the street-corners, thrown under doors, and even fastened to his own garden wall.  The peasant hereabouts is past belief low and animal, and a sensitive, intellectual parson among them is really a pearl before swine. 

For years he has gone on unflinchingly, filled with the most living faith and hope and charity, and I sometimes wonder whether they are any better now in his parish than they were under his predecessor, a man who smoked and drank beer from Monday morning to Saturday night, never did a stroke of work, and often kept the scanty congregation waiting on Sunday afternoons while he finished his postprandial nap. 

It is discouraging enough to make most men give in, and leave the parish to get to heaven or not as it pleases; but he never seems discouraged, and goes on sacrificing the best part of his life to these people when all his tastes are literary, and all his inclinations towards the life of the student.  His convictions drag him out of his little home at all hours to minister to the sick and exhort the wicked; they give him no rest, and never let him feel he has done enough; and when he comes home weary, after a day's wrestling with his parishioners' souls, he is confronted on his doorstep by filthy abuse pasted up on his own front door.  He never speaks of these things, but how shall they be hid? 

Everybody here knows everything that happens before the day is over, and what we have for dinner is of far greater general interest than the most astounding political earthquake.  They have a pretty, roomy cottage, and a good bit of ground adjoining the churchyard.  His predecessor used to hang out his washing on the tombstones to dry, but then he was a person entirely lost to all sense of decency, and had finally to be removed, preaching a farewell sermon of a most vituperative description, and hurling invective at the Man of Wrath, who sat up in his box drinking in every word and enjoying himself thoroughly.  The Man of Wrath likes novelty, and such a sermon had never been heard before.  It is spoken of in the village to this day with bated breath and awful joy.

December 22nd.

Up to now we have had a beautiful winter.  Clear skies, frost, little wind, and, except for a sharp touch now and then, very few really cold days.  My windows are gay with hyacinths and lilies of the valley; and though, as I have said, I don't admire the smell of hyacinths in the spring when it seems wanting in youth and chastity next to that of other flowers, I am glad enough now to bury my nose in their heavy sweetness.  In December one cannot afford to be fastidious; besides, one is actually less fastidious about everything in the winter.  The keen air braces soul as well as body into robustness, and the food and the perfume disliked in the summer are perfectly welcome then.

I am very busy preparing for Christmas, but have often locked myself up in a room alone, shutting out my unfinished duties, to study the flower catalogues and make my lists of seeds and shrubs and trees for the spring.  It is a fascinating occupation, and acquires an additional charm when you know you ought to be doing something else, that Christmas is at the door, that children and servants and farm hands depend on you for their pleasure, and that, if you don't see to the decoration of the trees and house, and the buying of the presents, nobody else will.  The hours fly by shut up with those catalogues and with Duty snarling on the other side of the door.  I don't like Duty -- everything in the least disagreeable is always sure to be one's duty.  Why cannot it be my duty to make lists and plans for the dear garden? 

"And so it is," I insisted to the Man of Wrath, when he protested against what he called wasting my time upstairs. 

"No," he replied sagely; "your garden is not your duty, because it is your Pleasure." 

What a comfort it is to have such wells of wisdom constantly at my disposal!  Anybody can have a husband, but to few is it given to have a sage, and the combination of both is as rare as it is useful.  Indeed, in its practical utility the only thing I ever saw to equal it is a sofa my neighbour has bought as a Christmas surprise for her husband, and which she showed me the last time I called there -- a beautiful invention, as she explained, combining a bedstead, a sofa, and a chest of drawers, and into which you put your clothes, and on top of which you put yourself, and if anybody calls in the middle of the night and you happen to be using the drawing-room as a bedroom, you just pop the bedclothes inside, and there you are discovered sitting on your sofa and looking for all the world as though you had been expecting visitors for hours.

"Pray, does he wear pyjamas?" I inquired.

But she had never heard of pyjamas.

It takes a long time to make my spring lists.  I want to have a border all yellow, every shade of yellow from fieriest orange to nearly white, and the amount of work and studying of gardening books it costs me will only be appreciated by beginners like myself.  I have been weeks planning it, and it is not nearly finished.  I want it to be a succession of glories from May till the frosts, and the chief feature is to be the number of "ardent marigolds" -- flowers that I very tenderly love -- and nasturtiums.  The nasturtiums are to be of every sort and shade, and are to climb and creep and grow in bushes, and show their lovely flowers and leaves to the best advantage.  Then there are to be eschscholtzias, dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, scabiosa, portulaca, yellow violas, yellow stocks, yellow sweet-peas, yellow lupins -- everything that is yellow or that has a yellow variety.  The place I have chosen for it is a long, wide border in the sun, at the foot of a grassy slope crowned with lilacs and pines, and facing southeast.  You go through a little pine wood, and, turning a corner, are to come suddenly upon this bit of captured morning glory.  I want it to be blinding in its brightness after the dark, cool path through the wood.

That is the idea.  Depression seizes me when I reflect upon the probable difference between the idea and its realisation.  I am ignorant, and the gardener is, I do believe, still more so; for he was forcing some tulips, and they have all shrivelled up and died, and he says he cannot imagine why.  Besides, he is in love with the cook, and is going to marry her after Christmas, and refuses to enter into any of my plans with the enthusiasm they deserve, but sits with vacant eye dreamily chopping wood from morning till night to keep the beloved one's kitchen fire well supplied.  I cannot understand any one preferring cooks to marigolds; those future marigolds, shadowy as they are, and whose seeds are still sleeping at the seedsman's, have shone through my winter days like golden lamps.

I wish with all my heart I were a man, for of course the first thing I should do would be to buy a spade and go and garden, and then I should have the delight of doing everything for my flowers with my own hands and need not waste time explaining what I want done to somebody else.  It is dull work giving orders and trying to describe the bright visions of one's brain to a person who has no visions and no brain, and who thinks a yellow bed should be calceolarias edged with blue.

I have taken care in choosing my yellow plants to put down only those humble ones that are easily pleased and grateful for little, for my soil is by no means all that it might be, and to most plants the climate is rather trying.  I feel really grateful to any flower that is sturdy and willing enough to flourish here.  Pansies seem to like the place and so do sweet-peas; pinks don't, and after much coaxing gave hardly any flowers last summer.  Nearly all the roses were a success, in spite of the sandy soil, except the tea-rose Adam, which was covered with buds ready to open, when they suddenly turned brown and died, and three standard Dr. Grills which stood in a row and simply sulked. 

I had been very excited about Dr. Grill, his description in the catalogues being specially fascinating, and no doubt I deserved the snubbing I got.  "Never be excited, my dears, about anything," shall be the advice I will give the three babies when the time comes to take them out to parties, "or, if you are, don't show it.  If by nature you are volcanoes, at least be only smouldering ones.  Don't look pleased, don't look interested, don't, above all things, look eager.  Calm indifference should be written on every feature of your faces.  Never show that you like any one person, or any one thing.  Be cool, languid, and reserved.  If you don't do as your mother tells you and are just gushing, frisky, young idiots, snubs will be your portion.  If you do as she tells you, you'll marry princes and live happily ever after." 

Dr. Grill must be a German rose.  In this part of the world the more you are pleased to see a person the less is he pleased to see you; whereas, if you are disagreeable, he will grow pleasant visibly, his countenance expanding into wider amiability the more your own is stiff and sour.  But I was not prepared for that sort of thing in a rose, and was disgusted with Dr. Grill.  He had the best place in the garden -- warm, sunny, and sheltered; his holes were prepared with the tenderest care; he was given the most dainty mixture of compost, clay, and manure; he was watered assiduously all through the drought when more willing flowers got nothing; and he refused to do anything but look black and shrivel.  He did not die, but neither did he live -- he just existed; and at the end of the summer not one of him had a scrap more shoot or leaf than when he was first put in in April.  It would have been better if he had died straight away, for then I should have known what to do; as it is, there he is still occupying the best place, wrapped up carefully for the winter, excluding kinder roses, and probably intending to repeat the same conduct next year. 

Well, trials are the portion of mankind, and gardeners have their share, and in any case it is better to be tried by plants than persons, seeing that with plants you know that it is you who are in the wrong, and with persons it is always the other way about -- and who is there among us who has not felt the pangs of injured innocence, and known them to be grievous?

I have two visitors staying with me, though I have done nothing to provoke such an infliction, and had been looking forward to a happy little Christmas alone with the Man of Wrath and the babies.  Fate decreed otherwise.  Quite regularly, if I look forward to anything, Fate steps in and decrees otherwise; I don't know why it should, but it does.  I had not even invited these good ladies -- like greatness on the modest, they were thrust upon me.  One is Irais, the sweet singer of the summer, whom I love as she deserves, but of whom I certainly thought I had seen the last for at least a year, when she wrote and asked if I would have her over Christmas, as her husband was out of sorts, and she didn't like him in that state.  Neither do I like sick husbands, so, full of sympathy, I begged her to come, and here she is.  And the other is Minora.

Why I have to have Minora I don't know, for I was not even aware of her existence a fortnight ago.  Then coming down cheerfully one morning to breakfast -- it was the very day after my return from England -- I found a letter from an English friend, who up till then had been perfectly innocuous, asking me to befriend Minora.  I read the letter aloud for the benefit of the Man of Wrath, who was eating Spickgans, a delicacy much sought after in these parts.  "Do, my dear Elizabeth," wrote my friend, "take some notice of the poor thing.  She is studying art in Dresden, and has nowhere literally to go for Christmas.  She is very ambitious and hardworking -- "

"Then," interrupted the Man of Wrath, "she is not pretty.  Only ugly girls work hard." 

" -- and she is really very clever -- "

"I do not like clever girls, they are so stupid," again interrupted the Man of Wrath.

" -- and unless some kind creature like yourself takes pity on her she will be very lonely." 

"Then let her be lonely." 

"Her mother is my oldest friend, and would be greatly distressed to think that her daughter should be alone in a foreign town at such a season." 

"I do not mind the distress of the mother." 

"Oh, dear me," I exclaimed impatiently, "I shall have to ask her to come!"

"If you should be inclined," the letter went on, "to play the good Samaritan, dear Elizabeth, I am positive you would find Minora a bright, intelligent companion -- "

"Minora?" questioned the Man of Wrath.

The April baby, who has had a nursery governess of an altogether alarmingly zealous type attached to her person for the last six weeks, looked up from her bread and milk.

"It sounds like islands," she remarked pensively.

The governess coughed.

"Majora, Minora, Alderney, and Sark," explained her pupil.

I looked at her severely.

"If you are not careful, April," I said, "you'll be a genius when you grow up and disgrace your parents." 

Miss Jones looked as though she did not like Germans.  I am afraid she despises us because she thinks we are foreigners -- an attitude of mind quite British and wholly to her credit; but we, on the other hand, regard her as a foreigner, which, of course, makes things complicated.

"Shall I really have to have this strange girl?" I asked, addressing nobody in particular and not expecting a reply.

"You need not have her," said the Man of Wrath composedly, "but you will.  You will write to-day and cordially invite her, and when she has been here twenty-four hours you will quarrel with her.  I know you, my dear." 

"Quarrel!  I?  With a little art-student?"  Miss Jones cast down her eyes.  She is perpetually scenting a scene, and is always ready to bring whole batteries of discretion and tact and good taste to bear on us, and seems to know we are disputing in an unseemly manner when we would never dream it ourselves but for the warning of her downcast eyes. 

I would take my courage in both hands and ask her to go, for besides this superfluity of discreet behaviour she is, although only nursery, much too zealous, and inclined to be always teaching and never playing; but, unfortunately, the April baby adores her and is sure there never was any one so beautiful before.  She comes every day with fresh accounts of the splendours of her wardrobe, and feeling descriptions of her umbrellas and hats; and Miss Jones looks offended and purses up her lips. 

In common with most governesses, she has a little dark down on her upper lip, and the April baby appeared one day at dinner with her own decorated in faithful imitation, having achieved it after much struggling, with the aid of a lead pencil and unbounded love.  Miss Jones put her in the corner for impertinence.  I wonder why governesses are so unpleasant.  The Man of Wrath says it is because they are not married.  Without venturing to differ entirely from the opinion of experience, I would add that the strain of continually having to set an example must surely be very great.  It is much easier, and often more pleasant, to be a warning than an example, and governesses are but women, and women are sometimes foolish, and when you want to be foolish it must be annoying to have to be wise.

Minora and Irais arrived yesterday together; or rather, when the carriage drove up, Irais got out of it alone, and informed me that there was a strange girl on a bicycle a little way behind.  I sent back the carriage to pick her up, for it was dusk and the roads are terrible.

"But why do you have strange girls here at all?" asked Irais rather peevishly, taking off her hat in the library before the fire, and otherwise making herself very much at home; "I don't like them.  I'm not sure that they're not worse than husbands who are out of order.  Who is she?  She would bicycle from the station, and is, I am sure, the first woman who has done it.  The little boys threw stones at her." 

"Oh, my dear, that only shows the ignorance of the little boys.  Never mind her.  Let us have tea in peace before she comes."  

"But we should be much happier without her," she grumbled.  "Weren't we happy enough in the summer, Elizabeth -- just you and I?"

"Yes, indeed we were," I answered heartily, putting my arms round her.  The flame of my affection for Irais burns very brightly on the day of her arrival; besides, this time I have prudently provided against her sinning with the salt-cellars by ordering them to be handed round like vegetable dishes.  We had finished tea and she had gone up to her room to dress before Minora and her bicycle were got here. 

I hurried out to meet her, feeling sorry for her, plunged into a circle of strangers at such a very personal season as Christmas.  But she was not very shy; indeed, she was less shy than I was, and lingered in the hall, giving the servants directions to wipe the snow off the tyres of her machine before she lent an attentive ear to my welcoming remarks.

"I couldn't make your man understand me at the station," she said at last, when her mind was at rest about her bicycle; "I asked him how far it was, and what the roads were like, and he only smiled.  Is he German?  But of course he is -- how odd that he didn't understand.  You speak English very well, -- very well indeed, do you know."   By this time we were in the library, and she stood on the hearth-rug warming her back while I poured her out some tea.

"What a quaint room," she remarked, looking round, "and the hall is so curious too.  Very old, isn't it?  There's a lot of copy here." 

The Man of Wrath, who had been in the hall on her arrival and had come in with us, began to look about on the carpet.  "Copy" he inquired, "Where's copy?"

"Oh -- material, you know, for a book.  I'm just jotting down what strikes me in your country, and when I have time shall throw it into book form."   She spoke very loud, as English people always do to foreigners.

"My dear," I said breathlessly to Irais, when I had got into her room and shut the door and Minora was safely in hers, "what do you think -- she writes books!"

"What -- the bicycling girl?"

"Yes -- Minora -- imagine it!"

We stood and looked at each other with awestruck faces.

"How dreadful!" murmured Irais.  "I never met a young girl who did that before." 

"She says this place is full of copy."  

"Full of what?"

"That's what you make books with." 

"Oh, my dear, this is worse than I expected!  A strange girl is always a bore among good friends, but one can generally manage her.  But a girl who writes books -- why, it isn't respectable!  And you can't snub that sort of people; they're unsnubbable." 

"Oh, but we'll try!" I cried, with such heartiness that we both laughed.

The hall and the library struck Minora most; indeed, she lingered so long after dinner in the hall, which is cold, that the Man of Wrath put on his fur coat by way of a gentle hint.  His hints are always gentle.

She wanted to hear the whole story about the chapel and the nuns and Gustavus Adolphus, and pulling out a fat note-book began to take down what I said.  I at once relapsed into silence.

"Well?" she said.

"That's all." 

"Oh, but you've only just begun." 

"It doesn't go any further.  Won't you come into the library?"

In the library she again took up her stand before the fire and warmed herself, and we sat in a row and were cold.  She has a wonderfully good profile, which is irritating.  The wind, however, is tempered to the shorn lamb by her eyes being set too closely together.

Irais lit a cigarette, and leaning back in her chair, contemplated her critically beneath her long eyelashes.  "You are writing a book?" she asked presently.

"Well -- yes, I suppose I may say that I am.  Just my impressions, you know, of your country.  Anything that strikes me as curious or amusing -- I jot it down, and when I have time shall work it up into something, I daresay." 

"Are you not studying painting?"

"Yes, but I can't study that for ever.  We have an English proverb:  'Life is short and Art is long' -- too long, I sometimes think -- and writing is a great relaxation when I am tired." 

"What shall you call it?"

"Oh, I thought of calling it Journeyings in Germany.  It sounds well, and would be correct.  Or Jottings from German Journeyings, -- I haven't quite decided yet which." 

"By the author of Prowls in Pomerania, you might add," suggested Irais.

"And Drivel from Dresden," said I.

"And Bosh from Berlin," added Irais.

Minora stared.  "I don't think those two last ones would do," she said, "because it is not to be a facetious book.  But your first one is rather a good title," she added, looking at Irais and drawing out her note-book.  "I think I'll just jot that down." 

"If you jot down all we say and then publish it, will it still be your book?" asked Irais.

But Minora was so busy scribbling that she did not hear.

"And have you no suggestions to make, Sage?" asked Irais, turning to the Man of Wrath, who was blowing out clouds of smoke in silence.

"Oh, do you call him Sage?" cried Minora; "and always in English?"

Irais and I looked at each other.  We knew what we did call him, and were afraid Minora would in time ferret it out and enter it in her note-book.  The Man of Wrath looked none too well pleased to be alluded to under his very nose by our new guest as "him." 

"Husbands are always sages," said I gravely.

"Though sages are not always husbands," said Irais with equal gravity.  "Sages and husbands -- sage and husbands -- " she went on musingly, "what does that remind you of, Miss Minora?"

"Oh, I know, -- how stupid of me!" cried Minora eagerly, her pencil in mid-air and her brain clutching at the elusive recollection, "sage and, -- why, -- yes, -- no, -- yes, of course -- oh," disappointedly, "but that's vulgar -- I can't put it in." 

"What is vulgar?" I asked.

"She thinks sage and onions is vulgar," said Irais languidly; "but it isn't, it is very good."   She got up and walked to the piano, and, sitting down, began, after a little wandering over the keys, to sing.

"Do you play?" I asked Minora.

"Yes, but I am afraid I am rather out of practice." 

I said no more.  I know what that sort of playing is.

When we were lighting our bedroom candles Minora began suddenly to speak in an unknown tongue.  We stared. 

"What is the matter with her?" murmured Irais.

"I thought, perhaps," said Minora in English, "you might prefer to talk German, and as it is all the same to me what I talk -- "

"Oh, pray don't trouble," said Irais.  "We like airing our English -- don't we, Elizabeth?"

"I don't want my German to get rusty though," said Minora; "I shouldn't like to forget it." 

"Oh, but isn't there an English song," said Irais, twisting round her neck as she preceded us upstairs, "''Tis folly to remember, 'tis wisdom to forget'?"

"You are not nervous sleeping alone, I hope," I said hastily.

"What room is she in?" asked Irais.

"No. 12." 

"Oh! -- do you believe in ghosts?"

Minora turned pale.

"What nonsense," said I; "we have no ghosts here.  Good-night.  If you want anything, mind you ring." 

"And if you see anything curious in that room," called Irais from her bedroom door, "mind you jot it down." 

December 27th

It is the fashion, I believe, to regard Christmas as a bore of rather a gross description, and as a time when you are invited to over-eat yourself, and pretend to be merry without just cause.  As a matter of fact, it is one of the prettiest and most poetic institutions possible, if observed in the proper manner, and after having been more or less unpleasant to everybody for a whole year, it is a blessing to be forced on that one day to be amiable, and it is certainly delightful to be able to give presents without being haunted by the conviction that you are spoiling the recipient, and will suffer for it afterward.  Servants are only big children, and are made just as happy as children by little presents and nice things to eat, and, for days beforehand, every time the three babies go into the garden they expect to meet the Christ Child with His arms full of gifts.  They firmly believe that it is thus their presents are brought, and it is such a charming idea that Christmas would be worth celebrating for its sake alone.

As great secrecy is observed, the preparations devolve entirely on me, and it is not very easy work, with so many people in our own house and on each of the farms, and all the children, big and little, expecting their share of happiness.  The library is uninhabitable for several days before and after, as it is there that we have the trees and presents.  All down one side are the trees, and the other three sides are lined with tables, a separate one for each person in the house.  When the trees are lighted, and stand in their radiance shining down on the happy faces, I forget all the trouble it has been, and the number of times I have had to run up and down stairs, and the various aches in head and feet, and enjoy myself as much as anybody. 

First the June baby is ushered in, then the others and ourselves according to age, then the servants, then come the head inspector and his family, the other inspectors from the different farms, the mamsells, the bookkeepers and secretaries, and then all the children, troops and troops of them -- the big ones leading the little ones by the hand and carrying the babies in their arms, and the mothers peeping round the door.  As many as can get in stand in front of the trees, and sing two or three carols; then they are given their presents, and go off triumphantly, making room for the next batch. 

My three babies sang lustily too, whether they happened to know what was being sung or not.  They had on white dresses in honour of the occasion, and the June baby was even arrayed in a low-necked and short-sleeved garment, after the manner of Teutonic infants, whatever the state of the thermometer.  Her arms are like miniature prize-fighter's arms -- I never saw such things; they are the pride and joy of her little nurse, who had tied them up with blue ribbons, and kept on kissing them.  I shall certainly not be able to take her to balls when she grows up, if she goes on having arms like that.

When they came to say good-night, they were all very pale and subdued.  The April baby had an exhausted-looking Japanese doll with her, which she said she was taking to bed, not because she liked him, but because she was so sorry for him, he seemed so very tired.  They kissed me absently, and went away, only the April baby glancing at the trees as she passed and making them a curtesy.

"Good-bye, trees," I heard her say; and then she made the Japanese doll bow to them, which he did, in a very languid and blase fashion.  "You'll never see such trees again," she told him, giving him a vindictive shake, "for you'll be brokened long before next time." 

She went out, but came back as though she had forgotten something.

"Thank the Christkind so much, Mummy, won't you, for all the lovely things He brought us.  I suppose you're writing to Him now, isn't you?"

I cannot see that there was anything gross about our Christmas, and we were perfectly merry without any need to pretend, and for at least two days it brought us a little nearer together, and made us kind.  Happiness is so wholesome; it invigorates and warms me into piety far more effectually than any amount of trials and griefs, and an unexpected pleasure is the surest means of bringing me to my knees.  In spite of the protestations of some peculiarly constructed persons that they are the better for trials, I don't believe it.  Such things must sour us, just as happiness must sweeten us, and make us kinder, and more gentle.  And will anybody affirm that it behoves us to be more thankful for trials than for blessings?  We were meant to be happy, and to accept all the happiness offered with thankfulness -- indeed, we are none of us ever thankful enough, and yet we each get so much, so very much, more than we deserve. 

I know a woman -- she stayed with me last summer -- who rejoices grimly when those she loves suffer.  She believes that it is our lot, and that it braces us and does us good, and she would shield no one from even unnecessary pain; she weeps with the sufferer, but is convinced it is all for the best.  Well, let her continue in her dreary beliefs; she has no garden to teach her the beauty and the happiness of holiness, nor does she in the least desire to possess one; her convictions have the sad gray colouring of the dingy streets and houses she lives amongst -- the sad colour of humanity in masses. 

Submission to what people call their "lot" is simply ignoble.  If your lot makes you cry and be wretched, get rid of it and take another; strike out for yourself; don't listen to the shrieks of your relations, to their gibes or their entreaties; don't let your own microscopic set prescribe your goings-out and comings-in; don't be afraid of public opinion in the shape of the neighbour in the next house, when all the world is before you new and shining, and everything is possible, if you will only be energetic and independent and seize opportunity by the scruff of the neck.

"To hear you talk," said Irais, "no one would ever imagine that you dream away your days in a garden with a book, and that you never in your life seized anything by the scruff of its neck.  And what is scruff?  I hope I have not got any on me."   And she craned her neck before the glass.

She and Minora were going to help me decorate the trees, but very soon Irais wandered off to the piano, and Minora was tired and took up a book; so I called in Miss Jones and the babies -- it was Miss Jones's last public appearance, as I shall relate -- and after working for the best part of two days they were finished, and looked like lovely ladies in widespreading, sparkling petticoats, holding up their skirts with glittering fingers.  Minora wrote a long description of them for a chapter of her book which is headed Noel, -- I saw that much, because she left it open on the table while she went to talk to Miss Jones.  They were fast friends from the very first, and though it is said to be natural to take to one's own countrymen, I am unable altogether to sympathise with such a reason for sudden affection.

"I wonder what they talk about?" I said to Irais yesterday, when there was no getting Minora to come to tea, so deeply was she engaged in conversation with Miss Jones.

"Oh, my dear, how can I tell?  Lovers, I suppose, or else they think they are clever, and then they talk rubbish." 

"Well, of course, Minora thinks she is clever." 

"I suppose she does.  What does it matter what she thinks?  Why does your governess look so gloomy?  When I see her at luncheon I always imagine she must have just heard that somebody is dead.  But she can't hear that every day.  What is the matter with her?"

"I don't think she feels quite as proper as she looks," I said doubtfully; I was for ever trying to account for Miss Jones's expression.

"But that must be rather nice," said Irais.  "It would be awful for her if she felt exactly the same as she looks." 

At that moment the door leading into the schoolroom opened softly, and the April baby, tired of playing, came in and sat down at my feet, leaving the door open; and this is what we heard Miss Jones saying --

"Parents are seldom wise, and the strain the conscientious place upon themselves to appear so before their children and governess must be terrible.  Nor are clergymen more pious than other men, yet they have continually to pose before their flock as such.  As for governesses, Miss Minora, I know what I am saying when I affirm that there is nothing more intolerable than to have to be polite, and even humble, to persons whose weaknesses and follies are glaringly apparent in every word they utter, and to be forced by the presence of children and employers to a dignity of manner in no way corresponding to one's feelings.  The grave father of a family, who was probably one of the least respectable of bachelors, is an interesting study at his own table, where he is constrained to assume airs of infallibility merely because his children are looking at him.  The fact of his being a parent does not endow him with any supreme and sudden virtue; and I can assure you that among the eyes fixed upon him, not the least critical and amused are those of the humble person who fills the post of governess." 

"Oh, Miss Jones, how lovely!" we heard Minora say in accents of rapture, while we sat transfixed with horror at these sentiments.  "Do you mind if I put that down in my book?  You say it all so beautifully." 

"Without a few hours of relaxation," continued Miss Jones, "of private indemnification for the toilsome virtues displayed in public, who could wade through days of correct behaviour?  There would be no reaction, no room for better impulses, no place for repentance.  Parents, priests, and governesses would be in the situation of a stout lady who never has a quiet moment in which she can take off her corsets." 

"My dear, what a firebrand!" whispered Irais.  I got up and went in.  They were sitting on the sofa, Minora with clasped hands, gazing admiringly into Miss Jones's face, which wore a very different expression from the one of sour and unwilling propriety I have been used to seeing.

"May I ask you to come to tea?" I said to Minora.  "And I should like to have the children a little while." 

She got up very reluctantly, but I waited with the door open until she had gone in and the two babies had followed.  They had been playing at stuffing each other's ears with pieces of newspaper while Miss Jones provided Minora with noble thoughts for her work, and had to be tortured afterward with tweezers.  I said nothing to Minora, but kept her with us till dinner-time, and this morning we went for a long sleigh-drive.  When we came in to lunch there was no Miss Jones.

"Is Miss Jones ill?" asked Minora.

"She is gone," I said.


"Did you never hear of such things as sick mothers?" asked Irais blandly; and we talked resolutely of something else.

All the afternoon Minora has moped.  She had found a kindred spirit, and it has been ruthlessly torn from her arms as kindred spirits so often are.  It is enough to make her mope, and it is not her fault, poor thing, that she should have preferred the society of a Miss Jones to that of Irais and myself.

At dinner Irais surveyed her with her head on one side.  "You look so pale," she said; "are you not well?"

Minora raised her eyes heavily, with the patient air of one who likes to be thought a sufferer.  "I have a slight headache," she replied gently.

"I hope you are not going to be ill," said Irais with great concern, "because there is only a cow-doctor to be had here, and though he means well, I believe he is rather rough."  

Minora was plainly startled.  "But what do you do if you are ill?" she asked.

"Oh, we are never ill," said I; "the very knowledge that there would be no one to cure us seems to keep us healthy." 

"And if any one takes to her bed," said Irais, "Elizabeth always calls in the cow-doctor." 

Minora was silent.  She feels, I am sure, that she has got into a part of the world peopled solely by barbarians, and that the only civilised creature besides herself has departed and left her at our mercy.  Whatever her reflections may be her symptoms are visibly abating.

January 1st.

The service on New Year's Eve is the only one in the whole year that in the least impresses me in our little church, and then the very bareness and ugliness of the place and the ceremonial produce an effect that a snug service in a well-lit church never would.  Last night we took Irais and Minora, and drove the three lonely miles in a sleigh.  It was pitch-dark, and blowing great guns.  We sat wrapped up to our eyes in furs, and as mute as a funeral procession.

"We are going to the burial of our last year's sins," said Irais, as we started; and there certainly was a funereal sort of feeling in the air.  Up in our gallery pew we tried to decipher our chorales by the light of the spluttering tallow candles stuck in holes in the woodwork, the flames wildly blown about by the draughts.  The wind banged against the windows in great gusts, screaming louder than the organ, and threatening to blow out the agitated lights together. 

The parson in his gloomy pulpit, surrounded by a framework of dusty carved angels, took on an awful appearance of menacing Authority as he raised his voice to make himself heard above the clatter.  Sitting there in the dark, I felt very small, and solitary, and defenceless, alone in a great, big, black world.  The church was as cold as a tomb; some of the candles guttered and went out; the parson in his black robe spoke of death and judgment; I thought I heard a child's voice screaming, and could hardly believe it was only the wind, and felt uneasy and full of forebodings; all my faith and philosophy deserted me, and I had a horrid feeling that I should probably be well punished, though for what I had no precise idea. 

If it had not been so dark, and if the wind had not howled so despairingly, I should have paid little attention to the threats issuing from the pulpit; but, as it was, I fell to making good resolutions.  This is always a bad sign, -- only those who break them make them; and if you simply do as a matter of course that which is right as it comes, any preparatory resolving to do so becomes completely superfluous.  I have for some years past left off making them on New Year's Eve, and only the gale happening as it did reduced me to doing so last night; for I have long since discovered that, though the year and the resolutions may be new, I myself am not, and it is worse than useless putting new wine into old bottles.

"But I am not an old bottle," said Irais indignantly, when I held forth to her to the above effect a few hours later in the library, restored to all my philosophy by the warmth and light, "and I find my resolutions carry me very nicely into the spring.  I revise them at the end of each month, and strike out the unnecessary ones.  By the end of April they have been so severely revised that there are none left." 

"There, you see I am right; if you were not an old bottle your new contents would gradually arrange themselves amiably as a part of you, and the practice of your resolutions would lose its bitterness by becoming a habit." 

She shook her head.  "Such things never lose their bitterness," she said, "and that is why I don't let them cling to me right into the summer.  When May comes, I give myself up to jollity with all the rest of the world, and am too busy being happy to bother about anything I may have resolved when the days were cold and dark." 

"And that is just why I love you," I thought.  She often says what I feel.

"I wonder," she went on after a pause, "whether men ever make resolutions?"

"I don't think they do.  Only women indulge in such luxuries.  It is a nice sort of feeling, when you have nothing else to do, giving way to endless grief and penitence, and steeping yourself to the eyes in contrition; but it is silly.  Why cry over things that are done?  Why do naughty things at all, if you are going to repent afterward?  Nobody is naughty unless they like being naughty; and nobody ever really repents unless they are afraid they are going to be found out." 

"By 'nobody' of course you mean women, said Irais.

"Naturally; the terms are synonymous.  Besides, men generally have the courage of their opinions." 

"I hope you are listening, Miss Minora," said Irais in the amiably polite tone she assumes whenever she speaks to that young person.

It was getting on towards midnight, and we were sitting round the fire, waiting for the New Year, and sipping Glubwein, prepared at a small table by the Man of Wrath.  It was hot, and sweet, and rather nasty, but it is proper to drink it on this one night, so of course we did.

Minora does not like either Irais or myself.  We very soon discovered that, and laugh about it when we are alone together.  I can understand her disliking Irais, but she must be a perverse creature not to like me.  Irais has poked fun at her, and I have been, I hope, very kind; yet we are bracketed together in her black books.  It is also apparent that she looks upon the Man of Wrath as an interesting example of an ill-used and misunderstood husband, and she is disposed to take him under her wing, and defend him on all occasions against us. 

He never speaks to her; he is at all times a man of few words, but, as far as Minora is concerned, he might have no tongue at all, and sits sphinx-like and impenetrable while she takes us to task about some remark of a profane nature that we may have addressed to him.  One night, some days after her arrival, she developed a skittishness of manner which has since disappeared, and tried to be playful with him; but you might as well try to be playful with a graven image.  The wife of one of the servants had just produced a boy, the first after a series of five daughters, and at dinner we drank the health of all parties concerned, the Man of Wrath making the happy father drink a glass off at one gulp, his heels well together in military fashion.  Minora thought the incident typical of German manners, and not only made notes about it, but joined heartily in the health-drinking, and afterward grew skittish.

She proposed, first of all, to teach us a dance called, I think, the Washington Post, and which was, she said, much danced in England; and, to induce us to learn, she played the tune to us on the piano.  We remained untouched by its beauties, each buried in an easy-chair toasting our toes at the fire.  Amongst those toes were those of the Man of Wrath, who sat peaceably reading a book and smoking.  Minora volunteered to show us the steps, and as we still did not move, danced solitary behind our chairs.  Irais did not even turn her head to look, and I was the only one amiable or polite enough to do so.  Do I deserve to be placed in Minora's list of disagreeable people side by side with Irais?  Certainly not.  Yet I most surely am.

"It wants the music, of course," observed Minora breathlessly, darting in and out between the chairs, apparently addressing me, but glancing at the Man of Wrath.

No answer from anybody.

"It is such a pretty dance," she panted again, after a few more gyrations.

No answer.

"And is all the rage at home." 

No answer.

"Do let me teach you.  Won't you try, Herr Sage?"

She went up to him and dropped him a little curtesy.  It is thus she always addresses him, entirely oblivious to the fact, so patent to every one else, that he resents it.

"Oh come, put away that tiresome old book," she went on gaily, as he did not move; "I am certain it is only some dry agricultural work that you just nod over.  Dancing is much better for you."  

Irais and I looked at one another quite frightened.  I am sure we both turned pale when the unhappy girl actually laid hold forcibly of his book, and, with a playful little shriek, ran away with it into the next room, hugging it to her bosom and looking back roguishly over her shoulder at him as she ran.  There was an awful pause.  We hardly dared raise our eyes.  Then the Mall of Wrath got up slowly, knocked the ashes off the end of his cigar, looked at his watch, and went out at the opposite door into his own rooms, where he stayed for the rest of the evening.  She has never, I must say, been skittish since.

"I hope you are listening, Miss Minora," said Irais, "because this sort of conversation is likely to do you good." 

"I always listen when people talk sensibly," replied Minora, stirring her grog.

Irais glanced at her with slightly doubtful eyebrows.  "Do you agree with our hostess's description of women?" she asked after a pause.

"As nobodies?  No, of course I do not." 

"Yet she is right.  In the eye of the law we are literally nobodies in our country.  Did you know that women are forbidden to go to political meetings here?"

"Really?" Out came the note-book.

"The law expressly forbids the attendance at such meetings of women, children, and idiots." 

"Children and idiots -- I understand that," said Minora; "but women -- and classed with children and idiots?"

"Classed with children and idiots," repeated Irais, gravely nodding her head.  "Did you know that the law forbids females of any age to ride on the top of omnibuses or tramcars?"

"Not really?"

"Do you know why?"

"I can't imagine." 

"Because in going up and down the stairs those inside might perhaps catch a glimpse of the stocking covering their ankles." 

"But what -- "

"Did you know that the morals of the German public are in such a shaky condition that a glimpse of that sort would be fatal to them?"

"But I don't see how a stocking -- "

"With stripes round it," said Irais.

"And darns in it," I added, " -- could possibly be pernicious?"

"'The Pernicious Stocking; or, Thoughts on the Ethics of Petticoats,'" said Irais.  "Put that down as the name of your next book on Germany." 

"I never know," complained Minora, letting her note-book fall, "whether you are in earnest or not." 

"Don't you?" said Irais sweetly.

"Is it true," appealed Minora to the Man of Wrath, busy with his lemons in the background, "that your law classes women with children and idiots?"

"Certainly," he answered promptly, "and a very proper classification, too." 

We all looked blank.  "That's rude," said I at last.

"Truth is always rude, my dear," he replied complacently.  Then he added, "If I were commissioned to draw up a new legal code, and had previously enjoyed the privilege, as I have been doing lately, of listening to the conversation of you three young ladies, I should make precisely the same classification." 

Even Minora was incensed at this.

"You are telling us in the most unvarnished manner that we are idiots," said Irais.

"Idiots?  No, no, by no means.  But children, -- nice little agreeable children.  I very much like to hear you talk together.  It is all so young and fresh what you think and what you believe, and not of the least consequence to any one.

"Not of the least consequence?" cried Minora.  "What we believe is of very great consequence indeed to us." 

"Are you jeering at our beliefs?" inquired Irais sternly.

"Not for worlds.  I would not on any account disturb or change your pretty little beliefs.  It is your chief charm that you always believe every-thing.  How desperate would our case be if young ladies only believed facts, and never accepted another person's assurance, but preferred the evidence of their own eyes!  They would have no illusions, and a woman without illusions is the dreariest and most difficult thing to manage possible." 

"Thing?" protested Irais.

The Man of Wrath, usually so silent, makes up for it from time to time by holding forth at unnecessary length.  He took up his stand now with his back to the fire, and a glass of Glubwein in his hand.  Minora had hardly heard his voice before, so quiet had he been since she came, and sat with her pencil raised, ready to fix for ever the wisdom that should flow from his lips.

"What would become of poetry if women became so sensible that they turned a deaf ear to the poetic platitudes of love?  That love does indulge in platitudes I suppose you will admit."   He looked at Irais.

"Yes, they all say exactly the same thing," she acknowledged.

"Who could murmur pretty speeches on the beauty of a common sacrifice, if the listener's want of imagination was such as to enable her only to distinguish one victim in the picture, and that one herself?"

Minora took that down word for word, -- much good may it do her.

"Who would be brave enough to affirm that if refused he will die, if his assurances merely elicit a recommendation to diet himself, and take plenty of outdoor exercise?  Women are responsible for such lies, because they believe them.  Their amazing vanity makes them swallow flattery so gross that it is an insult, and men will always be ready to tell the precise number of lies that a woman is ready to listen to.  Who indulges more recklessly in glowing exaggerations than the lover who hopes, and has not yet obtained?  He will, like the nightingale, sing with unceasing modulations, display all his talent, untiringly repeat his sweetest notes, until he has what he wants, when his song, like the nightingale's, immediately ceases, never again to be heard." 

"Take that down," murmured Irais aside to Minora -- unnecessary advice, for her pencil was scribbling as fast as it could.

"A woman's vanity is so immeasurable that, after having had ninety-nine object-lessons in the difference between promise and performance and the emptiness of pretty speeches, the beginning of the hundredth will find her lending the same willing and enchanted ear to the eloquence of flattery as she did on the occasion of the first.  What can the exhortations of the strong-minded sister, who has never had these experiences, do for such a woman?  It is useless to tell her she is man's victim, that she is his plaything, that she is cheated, down-trodden, kept under, laughed at, shabbily treated in every way -- that is not a true statement of the case.  She is simply the victim of her own vanity, and against that, against the belief in her own fascinations, against the very part of herself that gives all the colour to her life, who shall expect a woman to take up arms?"

"Are you so vain, Elizabeth?" inquired Irais with a shocked face, "and had you lent a willing ear to the blandishments of ninety-nine before you reached your final destiny?"

"I am one of the sensible ones, I suppose," I replied, "for nobody ever wanted me to listen to blandishments." 

Minora sighed.

"I like to hear you talk together about the position of women," he went on, "and wonder when you will realise that they hold exactly the position they are fitted for.  As soon as they are fit to occupy a better, no power on earth will be able to keep them out of it.  Meanwhile, let me warn you that, as things now are, only strong-minded women wish to see you the equals of men, and the strong-minded are invariably plain.  The pretty ones would rather see men their slaves than their equals." 

"You know," said Irais, frowning, "that I consider myself strong-minded." 

"And never rise till lunch-time?"

Irais blushed.  Although I don't approve of such conduct, it is very convenient in more ways than one; I get through my housekeeping undisturbed, and whenever she is disposed to lecture me, I begin about this habit of hers.  Her conscience must be terribly stricken on the point, for she is by no means as a rule given to meekness.

"A woman without vanity would be unattackable," resumed the Man of Wrath.  "When a girl enters that downward path that leads to ruin, she is led solely by her own vanity; for in these days of policemen no young woman can be forced against her will from the path of virtue, and the cries of the injured are never heard until the destroyer begins to express his penitence for having destroyed.  If his passion could remain at white-heat and he could continue to feed her ear with the protestations she loves, no principles of piety or virtue would disturb the happiness of his companion; for a mournful experience teaches that piety begins only where passion ends, and that principles are strongest where temptations are most rare." 

"But what has all this to do with us?" I inquired severely.

"You were displeased at our law classing you as it does, and I merely wish to justify it," he answered.  "Creatures who habitually say yes to everything a man proposes, when no one can oblige them to say it, and when it is so often fatal, are plainly not responsible beings." 

"I shall never say it to you again, my dear man," I said.

"And not only that fatal weakness," he continued, "but what is there, candidly, to distinguish you from children?  You are older, but not wiser, -- really not so wise, for with years you lose the common sense you had as children.  Have you ever heard a group of women talking reasonably together?"

"Yes -- we do!"  Irais and I cried in a breath.

"It has interested me," went on the Man of Wrath, "in my idle moments, to listen to their talk.  It amused me to hear the malicious little stories they told of their best friends who were absent, to note the spiteful little digs they gave their best friends who were present, to watch the utter incredulity with which they listened to the tale of some other woman's conquests, the radiant good faith they displayed in connection with their own, the instant collapse into boredom, if some topic of so-called general interest, by some extraordinary chance, were introduced."  

"You must have belonged to a particularly nice set," remarked Irais.

"And as for politics," he said, "I have never heard them mentioned among women." 

"Children and idiots are not interested in such things," I said.

"And we are much too frightened of being put in prison," said Irais.

"In prison?" echoed Minora.

"Don't you know," said Irais, turning to her "that if you talk about such things here you run a great risk of being imprisoned?"

"But why?"

"But why?  Because, though you yourself may have meant nothing but what was innocent, your words may have suggested something less innocent to the evil minds of your hearers; and then the law steps in, and calls it dolus eventualis, and everybody says how dreadful, and off you go to prison and are punished as you deserve to be." 

Minora looked mystified.

"That is not, however, your real reason for not discussing them," said the Man of Wrath; "they simply do not interest you.  Or it may be, that you do not consider your female friends' opinions worth listening to, for you certainly display an astonishing thirst for information when male politicians are present.  I have seen a pretty young woman, hardly in her twenties, sitting a whole evening drinking in the doubtful wisdom of an elderly political star, with every appearance of eager interest.  He was a bimetallic star, and was giving her whole pamphletsful of information." 

"She wanted to make up to him for some reason," said Irais, "and got him to explain his hobby to her, and he was silly enough to be taken in.  Now which was the sillier in that case?"  She threw herself back in her chair and looked up defiantly, beating her foot impatiently on the carpet.

"She wanted to be thought clever," said the Man of Wrath.  "What puzzled me," he went on musingly, "was that she went away apparently as serene and happy as when she came.  The explanation of the principles of bimetallism produce, as a rule, a contrary effect." 

"Why, she hadn't been listening," cried Irais, "and your simple star had been making a fine goose of himself the whole evening.

            "Prattle, prattle, simple star,

             Bimetallic, wunderbar.

             Though you're given to describe

             Woman as a dummes Weib.

             You yourself are sillier far,

             Prattling, bimetallic star!"

"No doubt she had understood very little," said the Man of Wrath, taking no notice of this effusion.

"And no doubt the gentleman hadn't understood much either."   Irais was plainly irritated.

"Your opinion of woman," said Minora in a very small voice, "is not a high one.  But, in the sick chamber, I suppose you agree that no one could take her place?"

"If you are thinking of hospital-nurses," I said, "I must tell you that I believe he married chiefly that he might have a wife instead of a strange woman to nurse him when he is sick." 

"But," said Minora, bewildered at the way her illusions were being knocked about, "the sick-room is surely the very place of all others in which a woman's gentleness and tact are most valuable." 

"Gentleness and tact?" repeated the Man of Wrath.  "I have never met those qualities in the professional nurse.  According to my experience, she is a disagreeable person who finds in private nursing exquisite opportunities for asserting her superiority over ordinary and prostrate mankind.  I know of no more humiliating position for a man than to be in bed having his feverish brow soothed by a sprucely-dressed strange woman, bristling with starch and spotlessness.  He would give half his income for his clothes, and probably the other half if she would leave him alone, and go away altogether.  He feels her superiority through every pore; he never before realised how absolutely inferior he is; he is abjectly polite, and contemptibly conciliatory; if a friend comes to see him, he eagerly praises her in case she should be listening behind the screen; he cannot call his soul his own, and, what is far more intolerable, neither is he sure that his body really belongs to him; he has read of ministering angels and the light touch of a woman's hand, but the day on which he can ring for his servant and put on his socks in private fills him with the same sort of wildness of joy that he felt as a homesick schoolboy at the end of his first term." 

Minora was silent.  Irais's foot was livelier than ever.  The Man of Wrath stood smiling blandly down upon us.  You can't argue with a person so utterly convinced of his infallibility that he won't even get angry with you; so we sat round and said nothing.

"If," he went on, addressing Irais, who looked rebellious, "you doubt the truth of my remarks, and still cling to the old poetic notion of noble, self-sacrificing women tenderly helping the patient over the rough places on the road to death or recovery, let me beg you to try for yourself, next time any one in your house is ill, whether the actual fact in any way corresponds to the picturesque belief.  The angel who is to alleviate our sufferings comes in such a questionable shape, that to the unimaginative she appears merely as an extremely self-confident young woman, wisely concerned first of all in securing her personal comfort, much given to complaints about her food and to helplessness where she should be helpful, possessing an extraordinary capacity for fancying herself slighted, or not regarded as the superior being she knows herself to be, morbidly anxious lest the servants should, by some mistake, treat her with offensive cordiality, pettish if the patient gives more trouble than she had expected, intensely injured and disagreeable if he is made so courageous by his wretchedness as to wake her during the night -- an act of desperation of which I was guilty once, and once only.  Oh, these good women!  What sane man wants to have to do with angels?  And especially do we object to having them about us when we are sick and sorry, when we feel in every fibre what poor things we are, and when all our fortitude is needed to enable us to bear our temporary inferiority patiently, without being forced besides to assume an attitude of eager and grovelling politeness towards the angel in the house." 

There was a pause.

"I didn't know you could talk so much, Sage," said Irais at length.

"What would you have women do, then?" asked Minora meekly.  Irais began to beat her foot up and down again, -- what did it matter what Men of Wrath would have us do?  "There are not," continued Minora, blushing, "husbands enough for every one, and the rest must do something." 

"Certainly," replied the oracle.  "Study the art of pleasing by dress and manner as long as you are of an age to interest us, and above all, let all women, pretty and plain, married and single, study the art of cookery.  If you are an artist in the kitchen you will always be esteemed." 

I sat very still.  Every German woman, even the wayward Irais, has learned to cook; I seem to have been the only one who was naughty and wouldn't.

"Only be careful," he went on, "in studying both arts, never to forget the great truth that dinner precedes blandishments and not blandishments dinner.  A man must be made comfortable before he will make love to you; and though it is true that if you offered him a choice between Spickgans and kisses, he would say he would take both, yet he would invariably begin with the Spickgans, and allow the kisses to wait." 

At this I got up, and Irais followed my example.  "Your cynicism is disgusting," I said icily.

"You two are always exceptions to anything I may say," he said, smiling amiably.

He stooped and kissed Irais's hand.  She is inordinately vain of her hands, and says her husband married her for their sake, which I can quite believe.  I am glad they are on her and not on Minora, for if Minora had had them I should have been annoyed.  Minora's are bony, with chilly-looking knuckles, ignored nails, and too much wrist.  I feel very well disposed towards her when my eye falls on them.  She put one forward now, evidently thinking it would be kissed too.

"Did you know," said Irais, seeing the movement, "that it is the custom here to kiss women's hands?"

"But only married women's," I added, not desiring her to feel out of it, "never young girls'." 

She drew it in again.  "It is a pretty custom," she said with a sigh; and pensively inscribed it in her book.

January 15th.

The bills for my roses and bulbs and other last year's horticultural indulgences were all on the table when I came down to breakfast this morning.  They rather frightened me.  Gardening is expensive, I find, when it has to be paid for out of one's own private pin-money.  The Man of Wrath does not in the least want roses, or flowering shrubs, or plantations, or new paths, and therefore, he asks, why should he pay for them?  So he does not and I do, and I have to make up for it by not indulging all too riotously in new clothes, which is no doubt very chastening. 

I certainly prefer buying new rose-trees to new dresses, if I cannot comfortably have both; and I see a time coming when the passion for my garden will have taken such a hold on me that I shall not only entirely cease buying more clothes, but begin to sell those that I already have.  The garden is so big that everything has to be bought wholesale; and I fear I shall not be able to go on much longer with only one man and a stork, because the more I plant the more there will be to water in the inevitable drought, and the watering is a serious consideration when it means going backwards and forwards all day long to a pump near the house, with a little water-cart. 

People living in England, in almost perpetual mildness and moisture, don't really know what a drought is.  If they have some weeks of cloudless weather, it is generally preceded and followed by good rains; but we have perhaps an hour's shower every week, and then comes a month or six weeks' drought.  The soil is very light, and dries so quickly that, after the heaviest thunder-shower, I can walk over any of my paths in my thin shoes; and to keep the garden even moderately damp it should pour with rain regularly every day for three hours.  My only means of getting water is to go to the pump near the house, or to the little stream that forms my eastern boundary, and the little stream dries up too unless there has been rain, and is at the best of times difficult to get at, having steep banks covered with forget-me-nots. 

I possess one moist, peaty bit of ground, and that is to be planted with silver birches in imitation of the Hirschwald, and is to be carpeted between the birches with flaming azaleas.  All the rest of my soil is sandy -- the soil for pines and acacias, but not the soil for roses; yet see what love will do -- there are more roses in my garden than any other flower!  Next spring the bare places are to be filled with trees that I have ordered: pines behind the delicate acacias, and startling mountain-ashes, oaks, copper-beeches, maples, larches, juniper-trees -- was it not Elijah who sat down to rest under a juniper-tree?  I have often wondered how he managed to get under it.  It is a compact little tree, not more than two to three yards high here, and all closely squeezed up together.  Perhaps they grew more aggressively where he was. 

By the time the babies have grown old and disagreeable it will be very pretty here, and then possibly they won't like it; and, if they have inherited the Man of Wrath's indifference to gardens, they will let it run wild and leave it to return to the state in which I found it.  Or perhaps their three husbands will refuse to live in it, or to come to such a lonely place at all, and then of course its fate is sealed.  My only comfort is that husbands don't flourish in the desert, and that the three will have to wait a long time before enough are found to go round. 

Mothers tell me that it is a dreadful business finding one husband; how much more painful then to have to look for three at once! -- the babies are so nearly the same age that they only just escaped being twins.  But I won't look.  I can imagine nothing more uncomfortable than a son-in-law, and besides, I don't think a husband is at all a good thing for a girl to have.  I shall do my best in the years at my disposal to train them so to love the garden, and out-door life, and even farming, that, if they have a spark of their mother in them, they will want and ask for nothing better. 

My hope of success is however exceedingly small, and there is probably a fearful period in store for me when I shall be taken every day during the winter to the distant towns to balls -- a poor old mother shivering in broad daylight in her party gown, and being made to start after an early lunch and not getting home till breakfast-time next morning.  Indeed, they have already developed an alarming desire to go to "partings" as they call them, the April baby announcing her intention of beginning to do so when she is twelve.  "Are you twelve, Mummy?" she asked.

The gardener is leaving on the first of April, and I am trying to find another.  It is grievous changing so often -- in two years I shall have had three -- because at each change a great part of my plants and plans necessarily suffers.  Seeds get lost, seedlings are not pricked out in time, places already sown are planted with something else, and there is confusion out of doors and despair in my heart.  But he was to have married the cook, and the cook saw a ghost and immediately left, and he is going after her as soon as he can, and meanwhile is wasting visibly away. 

What she saw was doors that are locked opening with a great clatter all by themselves on the hingeside, and then somebody invisible cursed at her.  These phenomena now go by the name of "the ghost."   She asked to be allowed to leave at once, as she had never been in a place where there was a ghost before.  I suggested that she should try and get used to it; but she thought it would be wasting time, and she looked so ill that I let her go, and the garden has to suffer. 

I don't know why it should be given to cooks to see such interesting things and withheld from me, but I have had two others since she left, and they both have seen the ghost.  Minora grows very silent as bed-time approaches, and relents towards Irais and myself; and, after having shown us all day how little she approves us, when the bedroom candles are brought she quite begins to cling.  She has once or twice anxiously inquired whether Irais is sure she does not object to sleeping alone.

"If you are at all nervous, I will come and keep you company," she said; "I don't mind at all, I assure you." 

But Irais is not to be taken in by such simple wiles, and has told me she would rather sleep with fifty ghosts than with one Minora.

Since Miss Jones was so unexpectedly called away to her parent's bedside I have seen a good deal of the babies; and it is so nice without a governess that I would put off engaging another for a year or two, if it were not that I should in so doing come within the reach of the arm of the law, which is what every German spends his life in trying to avoid.  The April baby will be six next month, and, after her sixth birthday is passed, we are liable at any moment to receive a visit from a school inspector, who will inquire curiously into the state of her education, and, if it is not up to the required standard, all sorts of fearful things might happen to the guilty parents, probably beginning with fines, and going on crescendo to dungeons if, owing to gaps between governesses and difficulties in finding the right one, we persisted in our evil courses. 

Shades of the prison-house begin to close here upon the growing boy, and prisons compass the Teuton about on every side all through life to such an extent that he has to walk very delicately indeed if he would stay outside them and pay for their maintenance.  Cultured individuals do not, as a rule, neglect to teach their offspring to read, and write, and say their prayers, and are apt to resent the intrusion of an examining inspector into their homes; but it does not much matter after all, and I daresay it is very good for us to be worried; indeed, a philosopher of my acquaintance declares that people who are not regularly and properly worried are never any good for anything.  In the eye of the law we are all sinners, and every man is held to be guilty until he has proved that he is innocent.

Minora has seen so much of the babies that, after vainly trying to get out of their way for several days, she thought it better to resign herself, and make the best of it by regarding them as copy, and using them to fill a chapter in her book.  So she took to dogging their footsteps wherever they went, attended their uprisings and their lyings down, engaged them, if she could, in intelligent conversation, went with them into the garden to study their ways when they were sleighing, drawn by a big dog, and generally made their lives a burden to them. 

This went on for three days, and then she settled down to write the result with the Man of Wrath's typewriter, borrowed whenever her notes for any chapter have reached the state of ripeness necessary for the process she describes as "throwing into form."   She writes everything with a typewriter, even her private letters.

"Don't forget to put in something about a mother's knee," said Irais; "you can't write effectively about children without that."  

"Oh, of course I shall mention that," replied Minora.

"And pink toes," I added.  "There are always toes, and they are never anything but pink." 

"I have that somewhere," said Minora, turning over her notes.

"But, after all, babies are not a German speciality," said Irais, "and I don't quite see why you should bring them into a book of German travels.  Elizabeth's babies have each got the fashionable number of arms and legs, and are exactly the same as English ones." 

"Oh, but they can't be just the same, you know," said Minora, looking worried.  "It must make a difference living here in this place, and eating such odd things, and never having a doctor, and never being ill.  Children who have never had measles and those things can't be quite the same as other children; it must all be in their systems and can't get out for some reason or other.  And a child brought up on chicken and rice-pudding must be different to a child that eats Spickgans and liver sausages.  And they are different; I can't tell in what way, but they certainly are; and I think if I steadily describe them from the materials I have collected the last three days, I may perhaps hit on the points of difference." 

"Why bother about points of difference?" asked Irais.  "I should write some little thing, bringing in the usual parts of the picture, such as knees and toes, and make it mildly pathetic." 

"But it is by no means an easy thing for me to do," said Minora plaintively; "I have so little experience of children." 

"Then why write it at all?" asked that sensible person Elizabeth.

"I have as little experience as you," said Irais, "because I have no children; but if you don't yearn after startling originality, nothing is easier than to write bits about them.  I believe I could do a dozen in an hour." 

She sat down at the writing-table, took up an old letter, and scribbled for about five minutes.  "There," she said, throwing it to Minora, "you may have it -- pink toes and all complete." 

Minora put on her eye-glasses and read aloud:

"When my baby shuts her eyes and sings her hymns at bed-time my stale and battered soul is filled with awe.  All sorts of vague memories crowd into my mind -- memories of my own mother and myself -- how many years ago! -- of the sweet helplessness of being gathered up half asleep in her arms, and undressed, and put in my cot, without being wakened; of the angels I believed in; of little children coming straight from heaven, and still being surrounded, so long as they were good, by the shadow of white wings, -- all the dear poetic nonsense learned, just as my baby is learning it, at her mother's knee.  She has not an idea of the beauty of the charming things she is told, and stares wide-eyed, with heavenly eyes, while her mother talks of the heaven she has so lately come from, and is relieved and comforted by the interrupting bread and milk.  At two years old she does not understand angels, and does understand bread and milk; at five she has vague notions about them, and prefers bread and milk; at ten both bread and milk and angels have been left behind in the nursery, and she has already found out that they are luxuries not necessary to her everyday life.  In later years she may be disinclined to accept truths second-hand, insist on thinking for herself, be earnest in her desire to shake off exploded traditions, be untiring in her efforts to live according to a high moral standard and to be strong, and pure, and good -- "

"Like tea," explained Irais.

" -- yet will she never, with all her virtues, possess one-thousandth part of the charm that clung about her when she sang, with quiet eyelids, her first reluctant hymns, kneeling on her mother's knees.  I love to come in at bed-time and sit in the window in the setting sunshine watching the mysteries of her going to bed.  Her mother tubs her, for she is far too precious to be touched by any nurse, and then she is rolled up in a big bath towel, and only her little pink toes peep out; and when she is powdered, and combed, and tied up in her night-dress, and all her curls are on end, and her ears glowing, she is knelt down on her mother's lap, a little bundle of fragrant flesh, and her face reflects the quiet of her mother's face as she goes through her evening prayer for pity and for peace." 

"How very curious!" said Minora, when she had finished.  "That is exactly what I was going to say." 

"Oh, then I have saved you the trouble of putting it together; you can copy that if you like."  

"But have you a stale soul, Miss Minora?" I asked.

"Well, do you know, I rather think that is a good touch," she replied; "it will make people really think a man wrote the book.  You know I am going to take a man's name." 

"That is precisely what I imagined," said Irais.  "You will call yourself John Jones, or George Potts, or some such sternly commonplace name, to emphasise your uncompromising attitude towards all feminine weaknesses, and no one will be taken in." 

"I really think, Elizabeth," said Irais to me later, when the click of Minora's typewriter was heard hesitating in the next room, "that you and I are writing her book for her.  She takes down everything we say.  Why does she copy all that about the baby?  I wonder why mothers' knees are supposed to be touching?  I never learned anything at them, did you?  But then in my case they were only stepmother's, and nobody ever sings their praises." 

"My mother was always at parties," I said; "and the nurse made me say my prayers in French." 

"And as for tubs and powder," went on Irais, "when I was a baby such things were not the fashion.  There were never any bathrooms, and no tubs; our faces and hands were washed, and there was a foot-bath in the room, and in the summer we had a bath and were put to bed afterwards for fear we might catch cold.  My stepmother didn't worry much; she used to wear pink dresses all over lace, and the older she got the prettier the dresses got.  When is she going?"

"Who?  Minora?  I haven't asked her that." 

"Then I will.  It is really bad for her art to be neglected like this.  She has been here an unconscionable time, -- it must be nearly three weeks." 

"Yes, she came the same day you did," I said pleasantly.

Irais was silent.  I hope she was reflecting that it is not worse to neglect one's art than one's husband, and her husband is lying all this time stretched on a bed of sickness, while she is spending her days so agreeably with me.  She has a way of forgetting that she has a home, or any other business in the world than just to stay on chatting with me, and reading, and singing, and laughing at any one there is to laugh at, and kissing the babies, and tilting with the Man of Wrath. 

Naturally I love her -- she is so pretty that anybody with eyes in his head must love her -- but too much of anything is bad, and next month the passages and offices are to be whitewashed, and people who have ever whitewashed their houses inside know what nice places they are to live in while it is being done; and there will be no dinner for Irais, and none of those succulent salads full of caraway seeds that she so devotedly loves.  I shall begin to lead her thoughts gently back to her duties by inquiring every day anxiously after her husband's health.  She is not very fond of him, because he does not run and hold the door open for her every time she gets up to leave the room; and though she has asked him to do so, and told him how much she wishes he would, he still won't.  She stayed once in a house where there was an Englishman, and his nimbleness in regard to doors and chairs so impressed her that her husband has had no peace since, and each time she has to go out of a room she is reminded of her disregarded wishes, so that a shut door is to her symbolic of the failure of her married life, and the very sight of one makes her wonder why she was born; at least, that is what she told me once, in a burst of confidence. 

He is quite a nice, harmless little man, pleasant to talk to, good-tempered, and full of fun; but he thinks he is too old to begin to learn new and uncomfortable ways, and he has that horror of being made better by his wife that distinguishes so many righteous men, and is shared by the Man of Wrath, who persists in holding his glass in his left hand at meals, because if he did not (and I don't believe he particularly likes doing it) his relations might say that marriage has improved him, and thus drive the iron into his soul.  This habit occasions an almost daily argument between one or other of the babies and myself.

"April, hold your glass in your right hand." 

"But papa doesn't." 

"When you are as old as papa you can do as you like." 

Which was embellished only yesterday by Minora adding impressively, "And only think how strange it would look if everybody held their glasses so." 

April was greatly struck by the force of this proposition.

January 28th.

It is very cold, fifteen degrees of frost Reaumur, but perfectly delicious, still, bright weather, and one feels jolly and energetic and amiably disposed towards everybody.  The two young ladies are still here, but the air is so buoyant that even they don't weigh on me any longer, and besides, they have both announced their approaching departure, so that after all I shall get my whitewashing done in peace, and the house will have on its clean pinafore in time to welcome the spring.

Minora has painted my portrait, and is going to present it as a parting gift to the Man of Wrath; and the fact that I let her do it, and sat meekly times innumerable, proves conclusively, I hope, that I am not vain.  When Irais first saw it she laughed till she cried, and at once commissioned her to paint hers, so that she may take it away with her and give it to her husband on his birthday, which happens to be early in February.  Indeed, if it were not for this birthday, I really think she would have forgotten to go at all; but birthdays are great and solemn festivals with us, never allowed to slip by unnoticed, and always celebrated in the presence of a sympathetic crowd of relations (gathered from far and near to tell you how well you are wearing, and that nobody would ever dream, and that really it is wonderful), who stand round a sort of sacrificial altar, on which your years are offered up as a burnt-offering to the gods in the shape of lighted pink and white candles, stuck in a very large, flat, jammy cake. 

The cake with its candles is the chief feature, and on the table round it lie the gifts each person present is more or less bound to give.  As my birthday falls in the winter I get mittens as well as blotting-books and photograph-frames, and if it were in the summer I should get photograph-frames and blotting-books and no mittens; but whatever the present may be, and by whomsoever given, it has to be welcomed with the noisiest gratitude, and loudest exclamations of joy, and such words as entzuckend, reizend, herrlich, wundervoll, and suss repeated over and over again, until the unfortunate Geburtstagskind feels indeed that another year has gone, and that she has grown older, and wiser, and more tired of folly and of vain repetitions. 

A flag is hoisted, and all the morning the rites are celebrated, the cake eaten, healths drunk, speeches made, and hands nearly shaken off.  The neighbouring parsons drive up, and when nobody is looking their wives count the candles in the cake; the active lady in the next Schlass spares time to send a pot of flowers, and to look up my age in the Gotha Almanach; a deputation comes from the farms headed by the chief inspector in white kid gloves who invokes Heaven's blessings on the gracious lady's head; and the babies are enchanted, and sit in a corner trying on all the mittens. 

In the evening there is a dinner for the relations and the chief local authorities, with more health-drinking and speechifying, and the next morning, when I come downstairs thankful to have done with it, I am confronted by the altar still in its place, cake crumbs and candle-grease and all, because any hasty removal of it would imply a most lamentable want of sentiment, deplorable in anybody, but scandalous and disgusting in a tender female.  All birthdays are observed in this fashion, and not a few wise persons go for a short trip just about the time theirs is due, and I think I shall imitate them next year; only trips to the country or seaside in December are not usually pleasant, and if I go to a town there are sure to be relations in it, and then the cake will spring up mushroom-like from the teeming soil of their affection.

I hope it has been made evident in these pages how superior Irais and myself are to the ordinary weaknesses of mankind; if any further proof were needed, it is furnished by the fact that we both, in defiance of tradition, scorn this celebration of birthday rites.  Years ago, when first I knew her, and long before we were either of us married, I sent her a little brass candlestick on her birthday; and when mine followed a few months later, she sent me a note-book.  No notes were written in it, and on her next birthday I presented it to her; she thanked me profusely in the customary manner, and when my turn came I received the brass candlestick.  Since then we alternately enjoy the possession of each of these articles, and the present question is comfortably settled once and for all, at a minimum of trouble and expense.  We never mention this little arrangement except at the proper time, when we send a letter of fervid thanks.

This radiant weather, when mere living is a joy, and sitting still over the fire out of the question, has been going on for more than a week.  Sleighing and skating have been our chief occupation, especially skating, which is more than usually fascinating here, because the place is intersected by small canals communicating with a lake and the river belonging to the lake, and as everything is frozen black and hard, we can skate for miles straight ahead without being obliged to turn round and come back again, -- at all times an annoying, and even mortifying, proceeding. 

Irais skates beautifully: modesty is the only obstacle to my saying the same of myself; but I may remark that all Germans skate well, for the simple reason that every year of their lives, for three or four months, they may do it as much as they like.


Minora was astonished and disconcerted by finding herself left behind, and arriving at the place where tea meets us half an hour after we had finished.  In some places the banks of the canals are so high that only our heads appear level with the fields, and it is, as Minora noted in her book, a curious sight to see three female heads skimming along apparently by themselves, and enjoying it tremendously.  When the banks are low, we appear to be gliding deliciously over the roughest ploughed fields, with or without legs according to circumstances. 

Before we start, I fix on the place where tea and a sleigh are to meet us, and we drive home again; because skating against the wind is as detestable as skating with it is delightful, and an unkind Nature arranges its blowing without the smallest regard for our convenience. 

Yesterday, by way of a change, we went for a picnic to the shores of the Baltic, ice-bound at this season, and utterly desolate at our nearest point.  I have a weakness for picnics, especially in winter, when the mosquitoes cease from troubling and the ant-hills are at rest; and of all my many favourite picnic spots this one on the Baltic is the loveliest and best.  As it is a three-hours' drive, the Man of Wrath is loud in his lamentations when the special sort of weather comes which means, as experience has taught him, this particular excursion.  There must be deep snow, hard frost, no wind, and a cloudless sky; and when, on waking up, I see these conditions fulfilled, then it would need some very potent reason to keep me from having out a sleigh and going off.  It is, I admit, a hard day for the horses; but why have horses if they are not to take you where you want to go to, and at the time you want to go?  And why should not horses have hard days as well as everybody else? 

The Man of Wrath loathes picnics, and has no eye for nature and frozen seas, and is simply bored by a long drive through a forest that does not belong to him; a single turnip on his own place is more admirable in his eyes than the tallest, pinkest, straightest pine that ever reared its snow-crowned head against the setting sunlight.  Now observe the superiority of woman, who sees that both are good, and after having gazed at the pine and been made happy by its beauty, goes home and placidly eats the turnip. 

He went once and only once to this particular place, and made us feel so small by his blast behaviour that I never invite him now.  It is a beautiful spot, endless forest stretching along the shore as far as the eye can reach; and after driving through it for miles you come suddenly, at the end of an avenue of arching trees, upon the glistening, oily sea, with the orange-coloured sails of distant fishing-smacks shilling in the sunlight.  Whenever I have been there it has been windless weather, and the silence so profound that I could hear my pulses beating.  The humming of insects and the sudden scream of a jay are the only sounds in summer, and in winter the stillness is the stillness of death.

Every paradise has its serpent, however, and this one is so infested by mosquitoes during the season when picnics seem most natural, that those of my visitors who have been taken there for a treat have invariably lost their tempers, and made the quiet shores ring with their wailing and lamentations.  These despicable but irritating insects don't seem to have anything to do but to sit in multitudes on the sand, waiting for any prey Providence may send them; and as soon as the carriage appears they rise up in a cloud, and rush to meet us, almost dragging us out bodily, and never leave us until we drive away again. 

The sudden view of the sea from the messy, pine-covered height directly above it where we picnic; the wonderful stretch of lonely shore with the forest to the water's edge; the coloured sails in the blue distance; the freshness, the brightness, the vastness -- all is lost upon the picnickers, and made worse than indifferent to them, by the perpetual necessity they are under of fighting these horrid creatures. 

It is nice being the only person who ever goes there or shows it to anybody, but if more people went, perhaps the mosquitoes would be less lean, and hungry, and pleased to see us.  It has, however, the advantage of being a suitable place to which to take refractory visitors when they have stayed too long, or left my books out in the garden all night, or otherwise made their presence a burden too grievous to be borne; then one fine hot morning when they are all looking limp, I suddenly propose a picnic on the Baltic.  I have never known this proposal fail to be greeted with exclamations of surprise and delight.

"The Baltic!  You never told us you were within driving distance?  How heavenly to get a breath of sea air on a day like this!  The very thought puts new life into one!  And how delightful to see the Baltic!  Oh, please take us!"  And then I take them.

But on a brilliant winter's day my conscience is as clear as the frosty air itself, and yesterday morning we started off in the gayest of spirits, even Minora being disposed to laugh immoderately on the least provocation.  Only our eyes were allowed to peep out from the fur and woollen wrappings necessary to our heads if we would come back with our ears and noses in the same places they were in when we started, and for the first two miles the mirth created by each other's strange appearance was uproarious, -- a fact I mention merely to show what an effect dry, bright, intense cold produces on healthy bodies, and how much better it is to go out in it and enjoy it than to stay indoors and sulk. 

As we passed through the neighbouring village with cracking of whip and jingling of bells, heads popped up at the windows to stare, and the only living thing in the silent, sunny street was a melancholy fowl with ruffled feathers, which looked at us reproachfully, as we dashed with so much energy over the crackling snow.

"Oh, foolish bird!" Irais called out as we passed; "you'll be indeed a cold fowl if you stand there motionless, and every one prefers them hot in weather like this!"

And then we all laughed exceedingly, as though the most splendid joke had been made, and before we had done we were out of the village and in the open country beyond, and could see my house and garden far away behind, glittering in the sunshine; and in front of us lay the forest, with its vistas of pines stretching away into infinity, and a drive through it of fourteen miles before we reached the sea.  It was a hoar-frost day, and the forest was an enchanted forest leading into fairyland, and though Irais and I have been there often before, and always thought it beautiful, yet yesterday we stood under the final arch of frosted trees, struck silent by the sheer loveliness of the place.  For a long way out the sea was frozen, and then there was a deep blue line, and a cluster of motionless orange sails; at our feet a narrow strip of pale yellow sand; right and left the line of sparkling forest; and we ourselves standing in a world of white and diamond traceries.  The stillness of an eternal Sunday lay on the place like a benediction.

Minora broke the silence by remarking that Dresden was pretty, but she thought this beat it almost.

"I don't quite see," said Irais in a hushed voice, as though she were in a holy place, "how the two can be compared." 

"Yes, Dresden is more convenient, of course," replied Minora; after which we turned away and thought we would keep her quiet by feeding her, so we went back to the sleigh and had the horses taken out and their cloths put on, and they were walked up and down a distant glade while we sat in the sleigh and picnicked.  It is a hard day for the horses, -- nearly thirty miles there and back and no stable in the middle; but they are so fat and spoiled that it cannot do them much harm sometimes to taste the bitterness of life.  I warmed soup in a little apparatus I have for such occasions, which helped to take the chilliness off the sandwiches, -- this is the only unpleasant part of a winter picnic, the clammy quality of the provisions just when you most long for something very hot. 

Minora let her nose very carefully out of its wrappings, took a mouthful, and covered it up quickly again.  She was nervous lest it should be frost-nipped, and truth compels me to add that her nose is not a bad nose, and might even be pretty on anybody else; but she does not know how to carry it, and there is an art in the angle at which one's nose is held just as in everything else, and really noses were intended for something besides mere blowing.

It is the most difficult thing in the world to eat sandwiches with immense fur and woollen gloves on, and I think we ate almost as much fur as anything, and choked exceedingly during the process.  Minora was angry at this, and at last pulled off her glove, but quickly put it on again.

"How very unpleasant," she remarked after swallowing a large piece of fur.

"It will wrap round your pipes, and keep them warm," said Irais.

"Pipes!" echoed Minora, greatly disgusted by such vulgarity.

"I'm afraid I can't help you," I said, as she continued to choke and splutter; "we are all in the same case, and I don't know how to alter it."  

"There are such things as forks, I suppose," snapped Minora.

"That's true," said I, crushed by the obviousness of the remedy; but of what use are forks if they are fifteen miles off?  So Minora had to continue to eat her gloves.

By the time we had finished, the sun was already low behind the trees and the clouds beginning to flush a faint pink.  The old coachman was given sandwiches and soup, and while he led the horses up and down with one hand and held his lunch in the other, we packed up -- or, to be correct, I packed, and the others looked on and gave me valuable advice.

This coachman, Peter by name, is seventy years old, and was born on the place, and has driven its occupants for fifty years, and I am nearly as fond of him as I am of the sun-dial; indeed, I don't know what I should do without him, so entirely does he appear to understand and approve of my tastes and wishes.  No drive is too long or difficult for the horses if I want to take it, no place impossible to reach if I want to go to it, no weather or roads too bad to prevent my going out if I wish to: to all my suggestions he responds with the readiest cheerfulness, and smoothes away all objections raised by the Man of Wrath, who rewards his alacrity in doing my pleasure by speaking of him as an alter Esel. 

In the summer, on fine evenings, I love to drive late and alone in the scented forests, and when I have reached a dark part stop, and sit quite still, listening to the nightingales repeating their little tune over and over again after interludes of gurgling, or if there are no nightingales, listening to the marvellous silence, and letting its blessedness descend into my very soul.  The nightingales in the forests about here all sing the same tune, and in the same key of E flat

I don't know whether all nightingales do this, or if it is peculiar to this particular spot.  When they have sung it once, they clear their throats a little, and hesitate, and then do it again, and it is the prettiest little song in the world.  How could I indulge my passion for these drives with their pauses without Peter?  He is so used to them that he stops now at the right moment without having to be told, and he is ready to drive me all night if I wish it, with no sign of anything but cheerful willingness on his nice old face. 

The Man of Wrath deplores these eccentric tastes, as he calls them, of mine; but has given up trying to prevent my indulging them because, while he is deploring in one part of the house, I have slipped out at a door in the other, and am gone before he can catch me, and have reached and am lost in the shadows of the forest by the time he has discovered that I am nowhere to be found.

The brightness of Peter's perfections are sullied however by one spot, and that is, that as age creeps upon him, he not only cannot hold the horses in if they don't want to be held in, but he goes to sleep sometimes on his box if I have him out too soon after lunch, and has upset me twice within the last year -- once last winter out of a sleigh, and once this summer, when the horses shied at a bicycle, and bolted into the ditch on one side of the chaussee, and the bicycle was so terrified at the horses shying that it shied too into the ditch on the other side, and the carriage was smashed, and the bicycle was smashed, and we were all very unhappy, except Peter, who never lost his pleasant smile, and looked so placid that my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth when I tried to make it scold him.

"But I should think he ought to have been thoroughly scolded on an occasion like that," said Minora, to whom I had been telling this story as we wandered on the yellow sands while the horses were being put in the sleigh; and she glanced nervously up at Peter, whose mild head was visible between the bushes above us.  "Shall we get home before dark?" she asked.

The sun had altogether disappeared behind the pines and only the very highest of the little clouds were still pink; out at sea the mists were creeping up, and the sails of the fishing-smacks had turned a dull brown; a flight of wild geese passed across the disc of the moon with loud cacklings.

"Before dark?" echoed Irais, "I should think not.  It is dark now nearly in the forest, and we shall have the loveliest moonlight drive back." 

"But it is surely very dangerous to let a man who goes to sleep drive you," said Minora apprehensively.

"But he's such an old dear," I said.

"Yes, yes, no doubt," she replied tastily; "but there are wakeful old dears to be had, and on a box they are preferable." 

Irais laughed.  "You are growing quite amusing, Miss Minora," she said.

"He isn't on a box to-day," said I; "and I never knew him to go to sleep standing up behind us on a sleigh."  

But Minora was not to be appeased, and muttered something about seeing no fun in foolhardiness, which shows how alarmed she was, for it was rude.

Peter, however, behaved beautifully on the way home, and Irais and I at least were as happy as possible driving back, with all the glories of the western sky flashing at us every now and then at the end of a long avenue as we swiftly passed, and later on, when they had faded, myriads of stars in the narrow black strip of sky over our heads.  It was bitterly cold, and Minora was silent, and not in the least inclined to laugh with us as she had been six hours before.

"Have you enjoyed yourself, Miss Minora?' inquired Irais, as we got out of the forest on to the chaussee, and the lights of the village before ours twinkled in the distance.

"How many degrees do you suppose there are now?" was Minora's reply to this question.

"Degrees? -- Of frost?  Oh, dear me, are you cold," cried Irais solicitously.

"Well, it isn't exactly warm, is it?" said Minora sulkily; and Irais pinched me.  "Well, but think how much colder you would have been without all that fur you ate for lunch inside you," she said. 

"And what a nice chapter you will be able to write about the Baltic," said I.  "Why, it is practically certain that you are the first English person who has ever been to just this part of it." 

"Isn't there some English poem," said Irais, "about being the first who ever burst -- "

"'Into that silent sea,'" finished Minora hastily.  "You can't quote that without its context, you know." 

"But I wasn't going to," said Irais meekly; "I only paused to breathe.  I must breathe, or perhaps I might die." 

The lights from my energetic friend's Schloss shone brightly down upon us as we passed round the base of the hill on which it stands; she is very proud of this hill, as well she may be, seeing that it is the only one in the whole district.

"Do you never go there?" asked Minora, jerking her head in the direction of the house.

"Sometimes.  She is a very busy woman, and I should feel I was in the way if I went often." 

"It would be interesting to see another North German interior," said Minora; "and I should be obliged if you would take me.

"But I can't fall upon her suddenly with a strange girl," I protested; "and we are not at all on such intimate terms as to justify my taking all my visitors to see her." 

"What do you want to see another interior for?" asked Irais.  "I can tell you what it is like; and if you went nobody would speak to you, and if you were to ask questions, and began to take notes, the good lady would stare at you in the frankest amazement, and think Elizabeth had brought a young lunatic out for an airing.  Everybody is not as patient as Elizabeth," added Irais, anxious to pay off old scores.

"I would do a great deal for you, Miss Minora," I said, "but I can't do that." 

"If we went," said Irais, "Elizabeth and I would be placed with great ceremony on a sofa behind a large, polished oval table with a crochet-mat in the centre -- it has got a crochet-mat in the centre, hasn't it?"  I nodded.  "And you would sit on one of the four little podgy, buttony, tasselly red chairs that are ranged on the other side of the table facing the sofa.  They are red, Elizabeth?"  Again I nodded.  "The floor is painted yellow, and there is no carpet except a rug in front of the sofa.  The paper is dark chocolate colour, almost black; that is in order that after years of use the dirt may not show, and the room need not be done up.  Dirt is like wickedness, you see, Miss Minora -- its being there never matters; it is only when it shows so much as to be apparent to everybody that we are ashamed of it.  At intervals round the high walls are chairs, and cabinets with lamps on them, and in one corner is a great white cold stove -- or is it majolica?" she asked, turning to me.

"No, it is white." 

"There are a great many lovely big windows, all ready to let in the air and the sun, but they are as carefully covered with brown lace curtains under heavy stuff ones as though a whole row of houses were just opposite, with peering eyes at every window trying to look in, instead of there only being fields, and trees, and birds.  No fire, no sunlight, no books, no flowers; but a consoling smell of red cabbage coming up under the door, mixed, in due season, with soapsuds." 

"When did you go there?" asked Minora.

"Ah, when did I go there indeed?  When did I not go there?  I have been calling there all my life." 

Minora's eyes rolled doubtfully first at me then at Irais from the depths of her head-wrappings; they are large eyes with long dark eyelashes, and far be it from me to deny that each eye taken by itself is fine, but they are put in all wrong.

"The only thing you would learn there," went on Irais, "would be the significance of sofa corners in Germany.  If we three went there together, I should be ushered into the right-hand corner of the sofa, because it is the place of honour, and I am the greatest stranger; Elizabeth would be invited to seat herself in the left-hand corner, as next in importance; the hostess would sit near us in an arm-chair; and you, as a person of no importance whatever, would either be left to sit where you could, or would be put on a chair facing us, and with the entire breadth of the table between us to mark the immense social gulf that separates the married woman from the mere virgin.  These sofa corners make the drawing of nice distinctions possible in a way that nothing else could.  The world might come to an end, and create less sensation in doing it, than you would, Miss Minora, if by any chance you got into the right-hand corner of one.  That you are put on a chair on the other side of the table places you at once in the scale of precedence, and exactly defines your social position, or rather your complete want of a social position."  And Irais tilted her nose ever so little heavenwards.  "Note it," she added, "as the heading of your next chapter." 

"Note what?" asked Minora impatiently.

"Why, 'The Subtle Significance of Sofas', of course," replied Irais.  "If," she continued, as Minora made no reply appreciative of this suggestion, "you were to call unexpectedly, the bad luck which pursues the innocent would most likely make you hit on a washing-day, and the distracted mistress of the house would keep you waiting in the cold room so long while she changed her dress, that you would begin to fear you were to be left to perish from want and hunger; and when she did appear, would show by the bitterness of her welcoming smile the rage that was boiling in her heart." 

"But what has the mistress of the house to do with washing?"

"What has she to do with washing?  Oh, you sweet innocent -- pardon my familiarity, but such ignorance of country-life customs is very touching in one who is writing a book about them." 

"Oh, I have no doubt I am very ignorant," said Minora loftily.

"Seasons of washing," explained Irais, "are seasons set apart by the Hausfrau to be kept holy.  They only occur every two or three months, and while they are going on the whole house is in an uproar, every other consideration sacrificed, husband and children sunk into insignificance, and no one approaching, or interfering with the mistress of the house during these days of purification, but at their peril." 

"You Don't Really Mean," Said Minora, "that You Only Wash Your Clothes Four Times A Year?

"Yes, I do mean it," replied Irais.

"Well, I think that is very disgusting," said Minora emphatically.

Irais raised those pretty, delicate eyebrows of hers.  "Then you must take care and not marry a German," she said.

"But what is the object of it?" went on Minora.

"Why, to clean the linen, I suppose." 

"Yes, yes, but why only at such long intervals?"

"It is an outward and visible sign of vast possessions in the shape of linen.  If you were to want to have your clothes washed every week, as you do in England, you would be put down as a person who only has just enough to last that length of time, and would be an object of general contempt." 

"But I should be a clean object," cried Minora, "and my house would not be full of accumulated dirt." 

We said nothing -- there was nothing to be said.

"It must be a happy land, that England of yours," Irais remarked after a while with a sigh -- a beatific vision no doubt presenting itself to her mind of a land full of washerwomen and agile gentlemen darting at door-handles.

"It is a clean land, at any rate," replied Minora.

"I don't want to go and live in it," I said -- for we were driving up to the house, and a memory of fogs and umbrellas came into my mind as I looked up fondly at its dear old west front, and I felt that what I want is to live and die just here, and that there never was such a happy woman as Elizabeth.

April 18th.

I have been so busy ever since Irais and Minora left that I can hardly believe the spring is here, and the garden hurrying on its green and flowered petticoat -- only its petticoat as yet, for though the underwood is a fairyland of tender little leaves, the trees above are still quite bare.

February was gone before I well knew that it had come, so deeply was I engaged in making hot-beds, and having them sown with petunias, verbenas, and nicotina affinis; while no less than thirty are dedicated solely to vegetables, it having been borne in upon me lately that vegetables must be interesting things to grow, besides possessing solid virtues not given to flowers, and that I might as well take the orchard and kitchen garden under my wing.  So I have rushed in with all the zeal of utter inexperience, and my February evenings were spent poring over gardening books, and my days in applying the freshly absorbed wisdom. 

Who says that February is a dull, sad, slow month in the country?  It was of the cheerfullest, swiftest description here, and its mild days enabled me to get on beautifully with the digging and manuring, and filled my rooms with snowdrops. 

The longer I live the greater is my respect and affection for manure in all its forms, and already, though the year is so young, a considerable portion of its pin-money has been spent on artificial manure.  The Man of Wrath says he never met a young woman who spent her money that way before; I remarked that it must be nice to have an original wife; and he retorted that the word original hardly described me, and that the word eccentric was the one required.  Very well, I suppose I am eccentric, since even my husband says so; but if my eccentricities are of such a practical nature as to result later in the biggest cauliflowers and tenderest lettuce in Prussia, why then he ought to be the first to rise up and call me blessed.

I sent to England for vegetable-marrow seeds, as they are not grown here, and people try and make boiled cucumbers take their place; but boiled cucumbers are nasty things, and I don't see why marrows should not do here perfectly well.  These, and primrose-roots, are the English contributions to my garden.  I brought over the roots in a tin box last time I came from England, and am anxious to see whether they will consent to live here.  Certain it is that they don't exist in the Fatherland, so I can only conclude the winter kills them, for surely, if such lovely things would grow, they never would have been overlooked. 

Irais is deeply interested in the experiment; she reads so many English books, and has heard so much about primroses, and they have got so mixed up in her mind with leagues, and dames, and Disraelis, that she longs to see this mysterious political flower, and has made me promise to telegraph when it appears, and she will come over.  But they are not going to do anything this year, and I only hope those cold days did not send them off to the Paradise of flowers.  I am afraid their first impression of Germany was a chilly one.

Irais writes about once a week, and inquires after the garden and the babies, and announces her intention of coming back as soon as the numerous relations staying with her have left, -- "which they won't do," she wrote the other day, "until the first frosts nip them off, when they will disappear like belated dahlias -- double ones of course, for single dahlias are too charming to be compared to relations.  I have every sort of cousin and uncle and aunt here, and here they have been ever since my husband's birthday -- not the same ones exactly, but I get so confused that I never know where one ends and the other begins.  My husband goes off after breakfast to look at his crops, he says, and I am left at their mercy.  I wish I had crops to go and look at -- I should be grateful even for one, and would look at it from morning till night, and quite stare it out of countenance, sooner than stay at home and have the truth told me by enigmatic aunts.  Do you know my Aunt Bertha?  she, in particular, spends her time propounding obscure questions for my solution.  I get so tired and worried trying to guess the answers, which are always truths supposed to be good for me to hear.  'Why do you wear your hair on your forehead?' she asks, -- and that sets me off wondering why I do wear it on my forehead, and what she wants to know for, or whether she does know and only wants to know if I will answer truthfully.  'I am sure I don't know, aunt,' I say meekly, after puzzling over it for ever so long; 'perhaps my maid knows.  Shall I ring and ask her?'  And then she informs me that I wear it so to hide an ugly line she says I have down the middle of my forehead, and that betokens a listless and discontented disposition.  Well, if she knew, what did she ask me for?  Whenever I am with them they ask me riddles like that, and I simply lead a dog's life.  Oh, my dear, relations are like drugs, -- useful sometimes, and even pleasant, if taken in small quantities and seldom, but dreadfully pernicious on the whole, and the truly wise avoid them." 

From Minora I have only had one communication since her departure, in which she thanked me for her pleasant visit, and said she was sending me a bottle of English embrocation to rub on my bruises after skating; that it was wonderful stuff, and she was sure I would like it; and that it cost two marks, and would I send stamps.  I pondered long over this.  Was it a parting hit, intended as revenge for our having laughed at her?  Was she personally interested in the sale of embrocation?  Or was it merely Minora's idea of a graceful return for my hospitality?  As for bruises, nobody who skates decently regards it as a bruise-producing exercise, and whenever there were any they were all on Minora; but she did happen to turn round once, I remember, just as I was in the act of tumbling down for the first and only time, and her delight was but thinly veiled by her excessive solicitude and sympathy. 

I sent her the stamps, received the bottle, and resolved to let her drop out of my life; I had been a good Samaritan to her at the request of my friend, but the best of Samaritans resents the offer of healing oil for his own use.  But why waste a thought on Minora at Easter, the real beginning of the year in defiance of calendars.  She belongs to the winter that is past, to the darkness that is over, and has no part or lot in the life I shall lead for the next six months.  Oh, I could dance and sing for joy that the spring is here!  What a resurrection of beauty there is in my garden, and of brightest hope in my heart! 

The whole of this radiant Easter day I have spent out of doors, sitting at first among the windflowers and celandines, and then, later, walking with the babies to the Hirschwald, to see what the spring had been doing there; and the afternoon was so hot that we lay a long time on the turf, blinking up through the leafless branches of the silver birches at the soft, fat little white clouds floating motionless in the blue.


We had tea on the grass in the sun, and when it began to grow late, and the babies were in bed, and all the little wind-flowers folded up for the night, I still wandered in the green paths, my heart full of happiest gratitude.  It makes one very humble to see oneself surrounded by such a wealth of beauty and perfection anonymously lavished, and to think of the infinite meanness of our own grudging charities, and how displeased we are if they are not promptly and properly appreciated. 

I do sincerely trust that the benediction that is always awaiting me in my garden may by degrees be more deserved, and that I may grow in grace, and patience, and cheerfulness, just like the happy flowers I so much love. 

The End




by Elizabeth Von Arnim



May 2nd.


Last night after dinner, when we were in the garden, I said, "I want to be alone for a whole summer, and get to the very dregs of life.  I want to be as idle as I can, so that my soul may have time to grow.  Nobody shall be invited to stay with me, and if any one calls they will be told that I am out, or away, or sick.  I shall spend the months in the garden, and on the plain, and in the forests.  I shall watch the things that happen in my garden, and see where I have made mistakes.  On wet days I will go into the thickest parts of the forests, where the pine needles are everlastingly dry, and when the sun shines I'll lie on the heath and see how the broom flares against the clouds.  I shall be perpetually happy, because there will be no one to worry me.  Out there on the plain there is silence, and where there is silence I have discovered there is peace."

"Mind you do not get your feet damp," said the Man of Wrath, removing his cigar.

It was the evening of May Day, and the spring had taken hold of me body and soul.  The sky was full of stars, and the garden of scents, and the borders of wallflowers and sweet, sly pansies.  All day there had been a breeze, and all day slow masses of white clouds had been sailing across the blue.  Now it was so still, so motionless, so breathless, that it seemed as though a quiet hand had been laid on the garden, soothing and hushing it into silence.

The Man of Wrath sat at the foot of the verandah steps in that placid after-dinner mood which suffers fools, if not gladly, at least indulgently, and I stood in front of him, leaning against the sun-dial.

"Shall you take a book with you?"  he asked.

"Yes, I shall," I replied, slightly nettled by his tone.  "I am quite ready to admit that though the fields and flowers are always ready to teach, I am not always in the mood to learn, and sometimes my eyes are incapable of seeing things that at other times are quite plain."

"And then you read?"

"And then I read.  Well, dear Sage, what of that?"

But he smoked in silence, and seemed suddenly absorbed by the stars.

"See," he said, after a pause, during which I stood looking at him and wishing he would use longer sentences, and he looked at the sky and did not think about me at all, "see how bright the stars are to-night. Almost as though it might freeze."

"It isn't going to freeze, and I won't look at anything until you have told me what you think of my idea.  Wouldn't a whole lovely summer, quite alone, be delightful?  Wouldn't it be perfect to get up every morning for weeks and feel that you belong to yourself and to nobody else?"  And I went over to him and put a hand on each shoulder and gave him a little shake, for he persisted in gazing at the stars just as though I had not been there.  "Please, Man of Wrath, say something long for once," I entreated; "you haven't said a good long sentence for a week."

He slowly brought his gaze from the stars down to me and smiled.  Then he drew me on to his knee.

"Don't get affectionate," I urged; "it is words, not deeds, that I want. But I'll stay here if you'll talk."

"Well then, I will talk.  What am I to say?  You know you do as you please, and I never interfere with you.  If you do not want to have any one here this summer you will not have any one, but you will find it a very long summer."

"No, I won't."

"And if you lie on the heath all day, people will think you are mad."

"What do I care what people think?"

"No, that is true.  But you will catch cold, and your little nose will swell."

"Let it swell."

"And when it is hot you will be sunburnt and your skin spoilt."

"I don't mind my skin."

"And you will be dull."


It often amuses me to reflect how very little the Man of Wrath really knows me.  Here we have been three years buried in the country, and I as happy as a bird the whole time.  I say as a bird, because other people have used the simile to describe absolute cheerfulness, although I do not believe birds are any happier than any one else, and they quarrel disgracefully.  I have been as happy then, we will say, as the best of birds, and have had seasons of solitude at intervals before now during which dull is the last word to describe my state of mind.  Everybody, it is true, would not like it, and I had some visitors here a fortnight ago who left after staying about a week and clearly not enjoying themselves. They found it dull, I know, but that of course was their own fault; how can you make a person happy against his will?  You can knock a great deal into him in the way of learning and what the schools call extras, but if you try for ever you will not knock any happiness into a being who has not got it in him to be happy.  The only result probably would be that you knock your own out of yourself.  Obviously happiness must come from within, and not from without; and judging from my past experience and my present sensations, I should say that I have a store just now within me more than sufficient to fill five quiet months.

"I wonder," I remarked after a pause, during which I began to suspect that I too must belong to the serried ranks of the femmes incomprises, "why you think I shall be dull.  The garden is always beautiful, and I am nearly always in the mood to enjoy it.  Not quite always, I must confess, for when those Schmidts were here" (their name was not Schmidt, but what does that matter?) "I grew almost to hate it.  Whenever I went into it there they were, dragging themselves about with faces full of indignant resignation.  Do you suppose they saw one of those blue hepaticas overflowing the shrubberies?  And when I drove with them into the woods, where the fairies were so busy just then hanging the branches with little green jewels, they talked about Berlin the whole time, and the good savouries their new chef makes."

"Well, my dear, no doubt they missed their savouries.  Your garden, I acknowledge, is growing very pretty, but your cook is bad.  Poor Schmidt sometimes looked quite ill at dinner, and the beauty of your floral arrangements in no way made up for the inferior quality of the food. Send her away."

"Send her away?  Be thankful you have her.  A bad cook is more effectual a great deal than Kissingen and Carlsbad and Homburg rolled into one, and very much cheaper.  As long as I have her, my dear man, you will be comparatively thin and amiable.  Poor Schmidt, as you call him, eats too much of those delectable savouries, and then looks at his wife and wonders why he married her.  Don't let me catch you doing that."

"I do not think it is very likely," said the Man of Wrath; but whether he meant it prettily, or whether he was merely thinking of the improbability of his ever eating too much of the local savouries, I cannot tell.  I object, however, to discussing cooks in the garden on a starlight night, so I got off his knee and proposed that we should stroll round a little.

It was such a sweet evening, such a fitting close to a beautiful May Day, and the flowers shone in the twilight like pale stars, and the air was full of fragrance, and I envied the bats fluttering through such a bath of scent, with the real stars above and the pansy stars beneath, and themselves so fashioned that even if they wanted to they could not make a noise and disturb the prevailing peace. 

A great deal that is poetical has been written by English people about May Day, and the impression left on the foreign mind is an impression of posies, and garlands, and village greens, and youths and maidens much be-ribboned, and lambs, and general friskiness.  I was in England once on a May Day, and we sat over the fire shivering and listening blankly to the north- east wind tearing down the street and the rattling of the hail against the windows, and the friends with whom I was staying said it was very often so, and that they had never seen any lambs and ribbons. 

We Germans attach no poetical significance to it at all, and yet we well might, for it is almost invariably beautiful; and as for garlands, I wonder how many villages full of young people could have been provided with them out of my garden, and nothing be missed. 

It is to-day a garden of wallflowers, and I think I have every colour and sort in cultivation. The borders under the south windows of the house, so empty and melancholy this time last year, are crammed with them, and are finished off in front by a broad strip from end to end of yellow and white pansies.  The tea rose beds round the sun-dial facing these borders are sheets of white, and golden, and purple, and wine-red pansies, with the dainty red shoots of the tea roses presiding delicately in their midst.

The verandah steps leading down into this pansy paradise have boxes of white, and pink, and yellow tulips all the way up on each side, and on the lawn, behind the roses, are two big beds of every coloured tulip rising above a carpet of forget-me-nots.  How very much more charming different-coloured tulips are together than tulips in one colour by itself!  Last year, on the recommendation of sundry writers about gardens, I tried beds of scarlet tulips and forget-me-nots.  They were pretty enough; but I wish those writers could see my beds of mixed tulips.  I never saw anything so sweetly, delicately gay.  The only ones I exclude are the rose-coloured ones; but scarlet, gold, delicate pink, and white are all there, and the effect is infinitely enchanting.  The forget-me-nots grow taller as the tulips go off, and will presently tenderly engulf them altogether, and so hide the shame of their decay in their kindly little arms.  They will be left there, clouds of gentle blue, until the tulips are well withered, and then they will be taken away to make room for the scarlet geraniums that are to occupy these two beds in the summer and flare in the sun as much as they like.  I love an occasional mass of fiery colour, and these two will make the lilies look even whiter and more breathless that are to stand sentinel round the semicircle containing the precious tea roses.

The first two years I had this garden, I was determined to do exactly as I chose in it, and to have no arrangements of plants that I had not planned, and no plants but those I knew and loved; so, fearing that an experienced gardener would profit by my ignorance, then about as absolute as it could be, and thrust all his bedding nightmares upon me, and fill the place with those dreadful salad arrangements so often seen in the gardens of the indifferent rich, I would only have a meek man of small pretensions, who would be easily persuaded that I knew as much as, or more than, he did himself. 

I had three of these meek men one after the other, and learned what I might long ago have discovered, that the less a person knows, the more certain he is that he is right, and that no weapons yet invented are of any use in a struggle with stupidity.  The first of these three went melancholy mad at the end of a year; the second was love-sick, and threw down his tools and gave up his situation to wander after the departed siren who had turned his head; the third, when I inquired how it was that the things he had sown never by any chance came up, scratched his head, and as this is a sure sign of ineptitude, I sent him away.

Then I sat down and thought.  I had been here two years and worked hard, through these men, at the garden; I had done my best to learn all I could and make it beautiful; I had refused to have more than an inferior gardener because of his supposed more perfect obedience, and one assistant, because of my desire to enjoy the garden undisturbed; I had studied diligently all the gardening books I could lay hands on; I was under the impression that I am an ordinarily intelligent person, and that if an ordinarily intelligent person devotes his whole time to studying a subject he loves, success is very probable; and yet at the end of two years what was my garden like? 

The failures of the first two summers had been regarded with philosophy; but that third summer I used to go into it sometimes and cry.

As far as I was concerned I had really learned a little, and knew what to buy, and had fairly correct notions as to when and in what soil to sow and plant what I had bought; but of what use is it to buy good seeds and plants and bulbs if you are forced to hand them over to a gardener who listens with ill-concealed impatience to the careful directions you give him, says Jawohl a great many times, and then goes off and puts them in in the way he has always done, which is invariably the wrong way? 

My hands were tied because of the unfortunate circumstance of sex, or I would gladly have changed places with him and requested him to do the talking while I did the planting, and as he probably would not have talked much there would have been a distinct gain in the peace of the world, which would surely be very materially increased if women's tongues were tied instead of their hands, and those that want to could work with them without collecting a crowd.  And is it not certain that the more one's body works the fainter grow the waggings of one's tongue?

I sometimes literally ache with envy as I watch the men going about their pleasant work in the sunshine, turning up the luscious damp earth, raking, weeding, watering, planting, cutting the grass, pruning the trees--not a thing that they do from the first uncovering of the roses in the spring to the November bonfires but fills my soul with longing to be up and doing it too.  A great many things will have to happen, however, before such a state of popular large-mindedness as will allow of my digging without creating a sensation is reached, so I have plenty of time for further grumblings; only I do very much wish that the tongues inhabiting this apparently lonely and deserted countryside would restrict their comments to the sins, if any, committed by the indigenous females (since sins are fair game for comment) and leave their harmless eccentricities alone. 

After having driven through vast tracts of forest and heath for hours, and never meeting a soul or seeing a house, it is surprising to be told that on such a day you took such a drive and were at such a spot; yet this has happened to me more than once.  And if even this is watched and noted, with what lightning rapidity would the news spread that I had been seen stalking down the garden path with a hoe over my shoulder and a basket in my hand, and weeding written large on every feature!  Yet I should love to weed.

I think it was the way the weeds flourished that put an end at last to my hesitations about taking an experienced gardener and giving him a reasonable number of helpers, for I found that much as I enjoyed privacy, I yet detested nettles more, and the nettles appeared really to pick out those places to grow in where my sweetest things were planted, and utterly defied the three meek men when they made periodical and feeble efforts to get rid of them. 

I have a large heart in regard to things that grow, and many a weed that would not be tolerated anywhere else is allowed to live and multiply undisturbed in my garden.  They are such pretty things, some of them, such charmingly audacious things, and it is so particularly nice of them to do all their growing, and flowering, and seed-bearing without any help or any encouragement.  I admit I feel vexed if they are so officious as to push up among my tea roses and pansies, and I also prefer my paths without them; but on the grass, for instance, why not let the poor little creatures enjoy themselves quietly, instead of going out with a dreadful instrument and viciously digging them up one by one? 

Once I went into the garden just as the last of the three inept ones had taken up his stand, armed with this implement, in the middle of the sheet of gold and silver that is known for convenience' sake as the lawn, and was scratching his head, as he looked round, in a futile effort to decide where he should begin.  I saved the dandelions and daisies on that occasion, and I like to believe they know it.  They certainly look very jolly when I come out, and I rather fancy the dandelions dig each other in their little ribs when they see me, and whisper, "Here comes Elizabeth; she's a good sort, ain't she?"--for of course dandelions do not express themselves very elegantly.

But nettles are not to be tolerated.  They settled the question on which I had been turning my back for so long, and one fine August morning, when there seemed to be nothing in the garden but nettles, and it was hard to believe that we had ever been doing anything but carefully cultivating them in all their varieties, I walked into the Man of Wrath's den.

"My dear man," I began, in the small caressing voice of one who has long been obstinate and is in the act of giving in, "will you kindly advertise for a head gardener and a proper number of assistants?  Nearly all the bulbs and seeds and plants I have squandered my money and my hopes on have turned out to be nettles, and I don't like them.  I have had a wretched summer, and never want to see a meek gardener again."

"My dear Elizabeth," he replied, "I regret that you did not take my advice sooner.  How often have I pointed out the folly of engaging one incapable person after the other?  The vegetables, when we get any, are uneatable, and there is never any fruit.  I do not in the least doubt your good intentions, but you are wanting in judgment.  When will you learn to rely on my experience?"

I hung my head; for was he not in the pleasant position of being able to say, "I told you so"? -- which indeed he has been saying for the last two years.  "I don't like relying," I murmured, "and have rather a prejudice against somebody else's experience.  Please will you send the advertisement to-day?"

They came in such shoals that half the population must have been head gardeners out of situations.  I took all the likely ones round the garden, and I do not think I ever spent a more chastening week than that week of selection.  Their remarks were, naturally, of the frankest nature, as I had told them I had had practically only gardeners' assistants since I lived here, and they had no idea, when they were politely scoffing at some arrangement, that it happened to be one of my own.  The hot-beds in the kitchen garden with which I had taken such pains were objects of special derision.  It appeared that they were all wrong--measurements, preparation, soil, manure, everything that could be wrong, was.  Certainly the only crop we had from them was weeds.  But I began about half way through the week to grow sceptical, because on comparing their criticisms I found they seldom agreed, and so took courage again. 

Finally I chose a nice, trim young man, with strikingly intelligent eyes and quick movements, who had shown himself less concerned with the state of chaos existing than with considerations of what might eventually be made of the place.  He is very deaf, so he wastes no time in words, and is exceedingly keen on gardening, and knows, as I very soon discovered, a vast amount more than I do, in spite of my three years' application.  Moreover, he is filled with that humility and eagerness to learn which is only found in those who have already learned more than their neighbours.  He enters into my plans with enthusiasm, and makes suggestions of his own, which, if not always quite in accordance with what are perhaps my peculiar tastes, at least plainly show that he understands his business. 

We had a very busy winter together altering all the beds, for they none of them had been given a soil in which plants could grow, and next autumn I intend to have all the so-called lawns dug up and levelled, and shall see whether I cannot have decent turf here.  I told him he must save the daisy and dandelion roots, and he looked rather crestfallen at that, but he is young, and can learn to like what I like, and get rid of his only fault, a nursery- gardener attitude towards all flowers that are not the fashion. 

"I shall want a great many daffodils next spring," I shouted one day at the beginning of our acquaintance.

His eyes gleamed.  "Ah yes," he said with immediate approval, "they are sehr modern."

I was divided between amusement at the notion of Spenser's daffadowndillies being modern, and indignation at hearing exactly the same adjective applied to them that the woman who sells me my hats bestows on the most appalling examples of her stock.

"They are to be in troops on the grass," I said; whereupon his face grew doubtful.  "That is indeed sehr modern," I shouted. 

But he had grown suddenly deafer--a phenomenon I have observed to occur every time my orders are such as he has never been given before.  After a time he will, I think, become imbued with my unorthodoxy in these matters; and meanwhile he has the true gardening spirit and loves his work, and love, after all, is the chief thing.  I know of no compost so good.  In the poorest soil, love alone, by itself, will work wonders.

Down the garden path, past the copse of lilacs with their swelling dark buds, and the great three-cornered bed of tea roses and pansies in front of it, between the rows of china roses and past the lily and foxglove groups, we came last night to the spring garden in the open glade round the old oak; and there, the first to flower of the flowering trees, and standing out like a lovely white naked thing against the dusk of the evening, was a double cherry in full bloom, while close beside it, but not so visible so late, with all their graceful growth outlined by rosy buds, were two Japanese crab apples.  The grass just there is filled with narcissus, and at the foot of the oak a colony of tulips consoles me for the loss of the purple crocus patches, so lovely a little while since.

"I must be by myself for once a whole summer through," I repeated, looking round at these things with a feeling of hardly being able to bear their beauty, and the beauty of the starry sky, and the beauty of the silence and the scent--"I must be alone, so that I shall not miss one of these wonders, and have leisure really to live."

"Very well, my dear," replied the Man of Wrath, "only do not grumble afterward when you find it dull.  You shall be solitary if you choose, and, as far as I am concerned, I will invite no one.  It is always best to allow a woman to do as she likes if you can, and it saves a good deal of bother.  To have what she desired is generally an effective punishment."

"Dear Sage," I cried, slipping my hand through his arm, "don't be so wise!  I promise you that I won't be dull, and I won't be punished, and I will be happy."

And we sauntered slowly back to the house in great contentment, discussing the firmament and such high things, as though we knew all about them.

May 15th.

There is a dip in the rye-fields about half a mile from my garden gate, a little round hollow like a dimple, with water and reeds at the bottom, and a few water-loving trees and bushes on the shelving ground around.  Here I have been nearly every morning lately, for it suits the mood I am in, and I like the narrow footpath to it through the rye, and I like its solitary dampness in a place where everything is parched, and when I am lying on the grass and look down I can see the reeds glistening greenly in the water, and when I look up I can see the rye-fringe brushing the sky.  All sorts of beasts come and stare at me, and larks sing above me, and creeping things crawl over me, and stir in the long grass beside me; and here I bring my book, and read and dream away the profitable morning hours, to the accompaniment of the amorous croakings of innumerable frogs.

Thoreau has been my companion for some days past, it having struck me as more appropriate to bring him out to a pond than to read him, as was hitherto my habit, on Sunday mornings in the garden.  He is a person who loves the open air, and will refuse to give you much pleasure if you try to read him amid the pomp and circumstance of upholstery; but out in the sun, and especially by this pond, he is delightful, and we spend the happiest hours together, he making statements, and I either agreeing heartily, or just laughing and reserving my opinion till I shall have more ripely considered the thing. 

He, of course, does not like me as much as I like him, because I live in a cloud of dust and germs produced by wilful superfluity of furniture, and have not the courage to get a match and set light to it: and every day he sees the door-mat on which I wipe my shoes on going into the house, in defiance of his having told me that he had once refused the offer of one on the ground that it is best to avoid even the beginnings of evil.  But my philosophy has not yet reached the acute stage that will enable me to see a door-mat in its true character as a hinderer of the development of souls, and I like to wipe my shoes.  Perhaps if I had to live with few servants, or if it were possible, short of existence in a cave, to do without them altogether, I should also do without door-mats, and probably in summer without shoes too, and wipe my feet on the grass nature no doubt provides for this purpose; and meanwhile we know that though he went to the woods, Thoreau came back again, and lived for the rest of his days like other people.

During his life, I imagine he would have refused to notice anything so fatiguing as an ordinary German woman, and never would have deigned discourse to me on the themes he loved best; but now his spirit belongs to me, and all he thought, and believed, and felt, and he talks as much and as intimately to me here in my solitude as ever he did to his dearest friends years ago in Concord.  In the garden he was a pleasant companion, but in the lonely dimple he is fascinating, and the morning hours hurry past at a quite surprising rate when he is with me, and it grieves me to be obliged to interrupt him in the middle of some quaint sentence or beautiful thought just because the sun is touching a certain bush down by the water's edge, which is a sign that it is lunch-time and that I must be off.  Back we go together through the rye, he carefully tucked under one arm, while with the other I brandish a bunch of grass to keep off the flies that appear directly we emerge into the sunshine.

"Oh, my dear Thoreau," I murmur sometimes, overcome by the fierce heat of the little path at noonday and the persistence of the flies, "did you have flies at Walden to exasperate you?  And what became of your philosophy then?"  But he never notices my plaints, and I know that inside his covers he is discoursing away like anything on the folly of allowing oneself to be overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, which is situated in the meridian shallows, and of the necessity, if one would keep happy, of sailing by it looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses.  But he gets grimly carried back for all that, and is taken into the house and put on his shelf and left there, because I still happen to have a body attached to my spirit, which, if not fed at the ordinary time, becomes a nuisance. 

Yet he is right; luncheon is a snare of the tempter, and I would perhaps try to sail by it like Ulysses if I had a biscuit in my pocket to comfort me, but there are the babies to be fed, and the Man of Wrath, and how can a respectable wife and mother sail past any meridian shallows in which those dearest to her have stuck?  So I stand by them, and am punished every day by that two-o'clock-in-the-afternoon feeling to which I so much object, and yet cannot avoid.  It is mortifying, after the sunshiny morning hours at my pond, when I feel as though I were almost a poet, and very nearly a philosopher, and wholly a joyous animal in an ecstasy of love with life, to come back and live through those dreary luncheon- ridden hours, when the soul is crushed out of sight and sense by cutlets and asparagus and revengeful sweet things. 

My morning friend turns his back on me when I reenter the library; nor do I ever touch him in the afternoon.  Books have their idiosyncrasies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and time in which they are read suits them.  If, for instance, I cannot read Thoreau in a drawing-room, how much less would I ever dream of reading Boswell in the grass by a pond!  Imagine carrying him off in company with his great friend to a lonely dell in a rye-field, and expecting them to be entertaining. 

"Nay, my dear lady," the great man would say in mighty tones of rebuke, "this will never do.  Lie in a rye-field?  What folly is that?  And who would converse in a damp hollow that can help it?" 

So I read and laugh over my Boswell in the library when the lamps are lit, buried in cushions and surrounded by every sign of civilisation, with the drawn curtains shutting out the garden and the country solitude so much disliked by both sage and disciple.  Indeed, it is Bozzy who asserts that in the country the only things that make one happy are meals. 

"I was happy," he says, when stranded at a place called Corrichatachin in the Island of Skye, and unable to get out of it because of the rain,--"I was happy when tea came.  Such I take it is the state of those who live in the country.  Meals are wished for from the cravings of vacuity of mind, as well as from the desire of eating." 

And such is the perverseness of human nature that Boswell's wisdom delights me even more than Johnson's, though I love them both very heartily.

In the afternoon I potter in the garden with Goethe.  He did not, I am sure, care much really about flowers and gardens, yet he said many lovely things about them that remain in one's memory just as persistently as though they had been inspired expressions of actual feelings; and the intellect must indeed have been gigantic that could so beautifully pretend.  Ordinary blunderers have to feel a vast amount before they can painfully stammer out a sentence that will describe it; and when they have got it out, how it seems to have just missed the core of the sensation that gave it birth, and what a poor, weak child it is of what was perhaps a mighty feeling!

I read Goethe on a special seat, never departed from when he accompanies me, a seat on the south side of an ice-house, and thus sheltered from the north winds sometimes prevalent in May, and shaded by the low-hanging branches of a great beech-tree from more than flickering sunshine.  Through these branches I can see a group of giant poppies just coming into flower, flaming out beyond the trees on the grass, and farther down a huge silver birch, its first spring green not yet deepened out of delicacy, and looking almost golden backed by a solemn cluster of firs.  Here I read Goethe-- everything I have of his, both what is well known and what is not; here I shed invariable tears over Werther, however often I read it; here I wade through Wilhelm Meister, and sit in amazement before the complications of the Wahlverwandschaften; here I am plunged in wonder and wretchedness by Faust; and here I sometimes walk up and down in the shade and apostrophise the tall firs at the bottom of the glade in the opening soliloquy of Iphigenia.  Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds, from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what, in this world, is worth bothering about, and what is not.

In the evening, when everything is tired and quiet, I sit with Walt Whitman by the rose beds and listen to what that lonely and beautiful spirit has to tell me of night, sleep, death, and the stars.  This dusky, silent hour is his; and this is the time when I can best hear the beatings of that most tender and generous heart.  Such great love, such rapture of jubilant love for nature, and the good green grass, and trees, and clouds, and sunlight; such aching anguish of love for all that breathes and is sick and sorry; such passionate longing to help and mend and comfort that which never can be helped and mended and comforted; such eager looking to death, delicate death, as the one complete and final consolation--before this revelation of yearning, universal pity, every-day selfishness stands awe-struck and ashamed.

When I drive in the forests, Keats goes with me; and if I extend my drive to the Baltic shores, and spend the afternoon on the moss beneath the pines whose pink stems form the framework of the sea, I take Spenser; and presently the blue waves are the ripples of the Idle Lake, and a tiny white sail in the distance is Phaedria's shallow ship, bearing Cymochles swiftly away to her drowsy little nest of delights. How can I tell why Keats has never been brought here, and why Spenser is brought again and again?  Who shall follow the dark intricacies of the elementary female mind?  It is safer not to attempt to do so, but by simply cataloguing them collectively under the heading Instinct, have done with them once and for all.

What a blessing it is to love books.  Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden.  And how easy it would have been to come into the world without this, and possessed instead of an all-consuming passion, say, for hats, perpetually raging round my empty soul!  I feel I owe my forefathers a debt of gratitude, for I suppose the explanation is that they too did not care for hats. 

In the centre of my library there is a wooden pillar propping up the ceiling, and preventing it, so I am told, from tumbling about our ears; and round this pillar, from floor to ceiling, I have had shelves fixed, and on these shelves are all the books that I have read again and again, and hope to read many times more--all the books, that is, that I love quite the best.  In the bookcases round the walls are many that I love, but here in the centre of the room, and easiest to get at, are those I love the best--the very elect among my favourites.  They change from time to time as I get older, and with years some that are in the bookcases come here, and some that are here go into the bookcases, and some again are removed altogether, and are placed on certain shelves in the drawing-room which are reserved for those that have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, and from whence they seldom, if ever, return. 

Carlyle used to be among the elect.  That was years ago, when my hair was very long, and my skirts very short, and I sat in the paternal groves with Sartor Resartus, and felt full of wisdom and Weltschmerz; and even after I was married, when we lived in town, and the noise of his thunderings was almost drowned by the rattle of droschkies over the stones in the street below, he still shone forth a bright, particular star.  Now, whether it is age creeping upon me, or whether it is that the country is very still and sound carries, or whether my ears have grown sensitive, I know not; but the moment I open him there rushes out such a clatter of denunciation, and vehemence, and wrath, that I am completely deafened; and as I easily get bewildered, and love peace, and my chief aim is to follow the apostle's advice and study to be quiet, he has been degraded from his high position round the pillar and has gone into retirement against the wall, where the accident of alphabet causes him to rest in the soothing society of one Carina, a harmless gentleman, whose book on the Bagni di Lucca is on his left, and a Frenchman of the name of Charlemagne, whose soporific comedy written at the beginning of the century and called Le Testament de l'Oncle, ou Les Lunettes Cassees, is next to him on his right. 

Two works of his still remain, however, among the elect, though differing in glory--his Frederick the Great, fascinating for obvious reasons to the patriotic German mind, and his Life of Sterling, a quiet book on the whole, a record of an uneventful life, in which the natural positions of subject and biographer are reversed, the man of genius writing the life of the unimportant friend, and the fact that the friend was exceedingly lovable in no way lessening one's discomfort in the face of such an anomaly.  Carlyle stands on an eminence altogether removed from Sterling, who stands, indeed, on no eminence at all, unless it be an eminence, that (happily) crowded bit of ground, where the bright and courageous and lovable stand together. 

We Germans have all heard of Carlyle, and many of us have read him with due amazement, our admiration often interrupted by groans at the difficulties his style places in the candid foreigner's path; but without Carlyle which of us would ever have heard of Sterling?  And even in this comparatively placid book mines of the accustomed vehemence are sprung on the shrinking reader.  To the prosaic German, nourished on a literature free from thunderings and any marked acuteness of enthusiasm, Carlyle is an altogether astonishing phenomenon.

And here I feel constrained to inquire sternly who I am that I should talk in this unbecoming manner of Carlyle?  To which I reply that I am only a humble German seeking after peace, devoid of the least real desire to criticise anybody, and merely anxious to get out of the way of geniuses when they make too much noise.  All I want is to read quietly the books that I at present prefer.  Carlyle is shut up now and therefore silent on his comfortable shelf; yet who knows but what in my old age, when I begin to feel really young, I may not once again find comfort in him?

What a medley of books there is round my pillar!  Here is Jane Austen leaning against Heine--what would she have said to that, I wonder?--with Miss Mitford and Cranford to keep her in countenance on her other side.  Here is my Goethe, one of many editions I have of him, the one that has made the acquaintance of the ice-house and the poppies.  Here are Ruskin, Lubbock, White's Selborne, Izaak Walton, Drummond, Herbert Spencer (only as much of him as I hope I understand and am afraid I do not), Walter Pater, Matthew Arnold, Thoreau, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hawthorne, Wuthering Heights, Lamb's Essays, Johnson's Lives, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, Gibbon, the immortal Pepys, the egregious Boswell, various American children's books that I loved as a child and read and love to this day; various French children's books, loved for the same reason; whole rows of German children's books, on which I was brought up, with their charming woodcuts of quaint little children in laced bodices, and good housemothers cutting bread and butter, and descriptions of the atmosphere of fearful innocence and pure religion and swift judgments and rewards in which they lived, and how the Finger Gottes was impressed on everything that happened to them; all the poets; most of the dramatists; and, I verily believe, every gardening book and book about gardens that has been published of late years.

These gardening books are an unfailing delight, especially in winter, when to sit by my blazing peat fire with the snow driving past the windows and read the luscious descriptions of roses and all the other summer glories is one of my greatest pleasures.  And then how well I get to know and love those gardens whose gradual development has been described by their owners, and how happily I wander in fancy down the paths of certain specially charming ones in Lancashire, Berkshire, Surrey, and Kent, and admire the beautiful arrangement of bed and border, and the charming bits in unexpected corners, and all the evidences of untiring love! 

Any book I see advertised that treats of gardens I immediately buy, and thus possess quite a collection of fascinating and instructive garden literature.  A few are feeble, and get shunted off into the drawing-room; but the others stay with me winter and summer, and soon lose the gloss of their new coats, and put on the comfortable look of old friends in every-day clothes, under the frequent touch of affection.  They are such special friends that I can hardly pass them without a nod and a smile at the well-known covers, each of which has some pleasant association of time and place to make it still more dear.

My spirit too has wandered in one or two French gardens, but has not yet heard of a German one loved beyond everything by its owner.  It is, of course, possible that my countrymen do love them and keep quiet about them, but many things are possible that are not probable, and experience compels me to the opinion that this is one of them.  We have the usual rich man who has fine gardens laid out regardless of expense, but those are not gardens in the sense I mean; and we have the poor man with his bit of ground, hardly ever treated otherwise than as a fowl-run or a place dedicated to potatoes; and as for the middle class, it is too busy hurrying through life to have time or inclination to stop and plant a rose.

How glad I am I need not hurry.  What a waste of life, just getting and spending.  Sitting by my pansy beds, with the slow clouds floating leisurely past, and all the clear day before me, I look on at the hot scramble for the pennies of existence and am lost in wonder at the vulgarity that pushes, and cringes, and tramples, untiring and unabashed.  And when you have got your pennies, what then?  They are only pennies, after all--unpleasant, battered copper things, without a gold piece among them, and never worth the degradation of self, and the hatred of those below you who have fewer, and the derision of those above you who have more.  And as I perceive I am growing wise, and what is even worse, allegorical, and as these are tendencies to be fought against as long as possible, I'll go into the garden and play with the babies, who at this moment are sitting in a row on the buttercups, singing what appear to be selections from popular airs.

June 3rd.

The Man of Wrath, I observe, is laying traps for me and being deep.  He has prophesied that I will find solitude intolerable, and he is naturally desirous that his prophecy should be fulfilled.  He knows that continuous rain depresses me, and he is awaiting a spell of it to bring me to a confession that I was wrong after all, whereupon he will make that remark so precious to the married heart, "My dear, I told you so." He begins the day by tapping the barometer, looking at the sky, and shaking his head.  If there are any clouds he remarks that they are coming up, and if there are none he says it is too fine to last.  He has even gone the length once or twice of starting off to the farm on hot, sunny mornings in his mackintosh, in order to impress on me beyond all doubt that the weather is breaking up.  He studiously keeps out of my way all day, so that I may have every opportunity of being bored as quickly as possible, and in the evenings he retires to his den directly after dinner, muttering something about letters.  When he has finally disappeared, I go out to the stars and laugh at his transparent wiles.

But how would it be if we did have a spell of wet weather?  I do not quite know.  As long as it is fine, rainy days in the future do not seem so very terrible, and one, or even two really wet ones are quite enjoyable when they do come--pleasant times that remind one of the snug winter now so far off, times of reading, and writing, and paying one's bills.  I never pay bills or write letters on fine summer days.  Not for any one will I forego all that such a day rightly spent out of doors might give me; so that a wet day at intervals is almost as necessary for me as for my garden. 

But how would it be if there were many wet days?  I believe a week of steady drizzle in summer is enough to make the stoutest heart depressed.  It is to be borne in winter by the simple expedient of turning your face to the fire; but when you have no fire, and very long days, your cheerfulness slowly slips away, and the dreariness prevailing out of doors comes in and broods in the blank corners of your heart.  I rather fancy, however, that it is a waste of energy to ponder over what I should do if we had a wet summer on such a radiant day as this.  I prefer sitting here on the verandah and looking down through a frame of leaves at all the rosebuds June has put in the beds round the sun-dial, to ponder over nothing, and just be glad that I am alive. 

The verandah at two o'clock on a summer's afternoon is a place in which to be happy and not decide anything, as my friend Thoreau told me of some other tranquil spot this morning.  The chairs are comfortable, there is a table to write on, and the shadows of young leaves flicker across the paper.  On one side a Crimson Rambler is thrusting inquisitive shoots through the wooden bars, being able this year for the first time since it was planted to see what I am doing up here, and next to it a Jackmanni clematis clings with soft young fingers to anything it thinks likely to help it up to the goal of its ambition, the roof.  I wonder which of the two will get there first.  Down there in the rose beds, among the hundreds of buds there is only one full-blown rose as yet, a Marie van Houtte, one of the loveliest of the tea roses, perfect in shape and scent and colour, and in my garden always the first rose to flower; and the first flowers it bears are the loveliest of its own lovely flowers, as though it felt that the first of its children to see the sky and the sun and the familiar garden after the winter sleep ought to put on the very daintiest clothes they can muster for such a festal occasion.

Through the open schoolroom windows I can hear the two eldest babies at their lessons.  The village schoolmaster comes over every afternoon and teaches them for two hours, so that we are free from governesses in the house, and once those two hours are over they are free for twenty-four from anything in the shape of learning.  The schoolroom is next to the verandah, and as two o'clock approaches their excitement becomes more and more intense, and they flutter up and down the steps, looking in their white dresses like angels on a Jacob's ladder, or watch eagerly among the bushes for a first glimpse of him, like miniature and perfectly proper Isoldes. 

He is a kind giant with that endless supply of patience so often found in giants, especially when they happen to be village schoolmasters, and judging from the amount of laughter I hear, the babies seem to enjoy their lessons in a way they never did before. Every day they prepare bouquets for him, and he gets more of them than a prima donna, or at any rate a more regular supply.  The first day he came I was afraid they would be very shy of such a big strange man, and that he would extract nothing from them but tears; but the moment I left them alone together and as I shut the door, I heard them eagerly informing him, by way of opening the friendship, that their heads were washed every Saturday night, and that their hair-ribbons did not match because there had not been enough of the one sort to go round. 

I went away hoping that they would not think it necessary to tell him how often my head is washed, or any other news of a personal nature about me; but I believe by this time that man knows everything there is to know about the details of my morning toilet, which is daily watched with the greatest interest by the Three.  I hope he will be more successful than I was in teaching them Bible stories.  I never got farther than Noah, at which stage their questions became so searching as to completely confound me; and as no one likes being confounded, and it is especially regrettable when a parent is placed in such a position, I brought the course to an abrupt end by assuming that owl-like air of wisdom peculiar to infallibility in a corner, and telling them that they were too young to understand these things for the present; and they, having a touching faith in the truth of every word I say, gave three contented little purrs of assent, and proposed that we should play instead at rolling down the grass bank under the south windows--which I did not do, I am glad to remember.

But the schoolmaster, after four weeks' teaching, has got them as far as Moses, and safely past the Noah's ark on which I came to grief, and if glibness is a sign of knowledge then they have learned the story very thoroughly.  Yesterday, after he had gone, they emerged into the verandah fresh from Moses and bursting with eagerness to tell me all about it.

"Herr Schenk told us to-day about Moses," began the April baby, making a rush at me.


"Yes, and a boser, boser Konig who said every boy must be deaded, and Moses was the allerliebster."

"Talk English, my dear baby, and not such a dreadful mixture," I besought.

"He wasn't a cat."

"A cat?"

"Yes, he wasn't a cat, that Moses--a boy was he."

"But of course he wasn't a cat," I said with some severity; "no one ever supposed he was."

"Yes, but mummy," she explained eagerly, with much appropriate hand- action, "the cook's Moses is a cat."

"Oh, I see.  Well?"

"And he was put in a basket in the water, and that did swim.  And then one time they comed, and she said--"

"Who came?  And who said?"

"Why, the ladies; and the Konigstochter said, 'Ach hormal, da schreit so etwas.'"

"In German?"

"Yes, and then they went near, and one must take off her shoes and stockings and go in the water and fetch that tiny basket, and then they made it open, and that Kind did cry and cry and strampel so"--here both the babies gave such a vivid illustration of the strampeln that the verandah shook--"and see! it is a tiny baby.  And they fetched somebody to give it to eat, and the Konigstochter can keep that boy, and further it doesn't go."

"Do you love Moses, mummy?"  asked the May baby, jumping into my lap, and taking my face in both her hands--one of the many pretty, caressing little ways of a very pretty, caressing little creature.

"Yes," I replied bravely, "I love him."

"Then I too!" they cried with simultaneous gladness, the seal having thus been affixed to the legitimacy of their regard for him.  To be of such authority that your verdict on every subject under heaven is absolute and final is without doubt to be in a proud position, but, like all proud positions, it bristles with pitfalls and drawbacks to the weak-kneed; and most of my conversations with the babies end in a sudden change of subject made necessary by the tendency of their remarks and the unanswerableness of their arguments. 

Happily, yesterday the Moses talk was brought to an end by the April baby herself, who suddenly remembered that I had not yet seen and sympathised with her dearest possession, a Dutch doll called Mary Jane, since a lamentable accident had bereft it of both its legs; and she had dived into the schoolroom and fished it out of the dark corner reserved for the mangled and thrust it in my face before I had well done musing on the nature and extent of my love for Moses--for I try to be conscientious--and bracing myself to meet the next question.

"See this poor Mary Jane," she said, her voice and hand quivering with tenderness as she lifted its petticoats to show me the full extent of the calamity, "see, mummy, no legs--only twowsers and nothing further."

I wish they would speak English a little better.  The pains I take to correct them and weed out the German words that crop up in every sentence are really untiring, and the results discouraging.  Indeed, as they get older the German asserts itself more and more, and is threatening to swallow up the little English they have left entirely.  I talk English steadily with them, but everybody else, including a small French nurse lately imported, nothing but German. 

Somebody told me the thing to do was to let children pick up languages when they were babies, at which period they absorb them as easily as food and drink, and are quite unaware that they are learning anything at all; whereupon I immediately introduced this French girl into the family, forgetting how little English they have absorbed, and the result has been that they pass their days delightfully in teaching her German.  They were astonished at first on discovering that she could not understand a word they said, and soon set about altering such an uncomfortable state of things; and as they are three to one and very zealous, and she is a meek little person with a profile like a teapot with a twisted black handle of hair, their success was practically certain from the beginning, and she is getting on quite nicely with her German, and has at least already thoroughly learned all the mistakes.  She wanders in the garden with a surprised look on her face as of one who is moving about in worlds not realised; and the three cling to her skirts and give her enthusiastic lessons all day long.

Poor Seraphine!  What courage to weigh anchor at eighteen and go into a foreign country, to a place where you are among utter strangers, without a friend, unable to speak a word of the language, and not even sure before you start whether you will be given enough to eat.  Either it is that saddest of courage forced on the timid by necessity, or, as Doctor Johnson would probably have said, it is stark insensibility; and I am afraid when I look at her I silently agree with the apostle of common sense, and take it for granted that she is incapable of deep feeling, for the altogether inadequate reason that she has a certain resemblance to a teapot. 

Now is it not hard that a person may have a soul as beautiful as an angel's, a dwelling-place for all sweet sounds and harmonies, and if nature has not thought fit to endow his body with a chin the world will have none of him?  The vulgar prejudice is in favour of chins, and who shall escape its influence?  I, for one, cannot, though theoretically I utterly reject the belief that the body is the likeness of the soul; for has not each of us friends who, we know, love beyond everything that which is noble and good, and who by no means themselves look noble and good?  And what about all the beautiful persons who love nothing on earth except themselves? 

Yet who in the world cares how perfect the nature may be, how humble, how sweet, how gracious, that dwells in a chinless body?  Nobody has time to inquire into natures, and the chinless must be content to be treated in something of the same good-natured, tolerant fashion in which we treat our poor relations until such time as they shall have grown a beard; and those who by their sex are for ever shut out from this glorious possibility will have to take care, should they be of a bright intelligence, how they speak with the tongues of men and of angels, nothing being more droll than the effect of high words and poetic ideas issuing from a face that does not match them.

I wish we were not so easily affected by each other's looks.  Sometimes, during the course of a long correspondence with a friend, he grows to be inexpressibly dear to me; I see how beautiful his soul is, how fine his intellect, how generous his heart, and how he already possesses in great perfection those qualities of kindness, and patience, and simplicity, after which I have been so long and so vainly striving.  It is not I clothing him with the attributes I love and wandering away insensibly into that sweet land of illusions to which our footsteps turn whenever they are left to themselves, it is his very self unconsciously writing itself into his letters, the very man as he is without his body.  Then I meet him again, and all illusions go.  He is what I had always found him when we were together, good and amiable; but some trick of manner, some feature or attitude that I do not quite like, makes me forget, and be totally unable to remember, what I know from his letters to be true of him.  He, no doubt, feels the same thing about me, and so between us there is a thick veil of something fixed, which, dodge as we may, we never can get round.

"Well, and what do you conclude from all that?"  said the Man of Wrath, who had been going out by the verandah door with his gun and his dogs to shoot the squirrels before they had eaten up too many birds, and of whose coat-sleeve I had laid hold as he passed, keeping him by me like a second Wedding Guest, and almost as restless, while I gave expression to the above sentiments.

"I don't know," I replied, "unless it is that the world is very evil and the times are waxing late, but that doesn't explain anything either, because it isn't true."

And he went down the steps laughing and shaking his head and muttering something that I could not quite catch, and I am glad I could not, for the two words I did hear were women and nonsense.

He has developed an unexpected passion for farming, much to my relief, and though we came down here at first only tentatively for a year, three have passed, and nothing has been said about going back to town.  Nor will anything be said so long as he is not the one to say it, for no three years of my life can come up to these in happiness, and not even those splendid years of childhood that grow brighter as they recede were more full of delights.  The delights are simple, it is true, and of the sort that easily provoke a turning up of the worldling's nose; but who cares for noses that turn up? 

I am simple myself, and never tire of the blessed liberty from all restraints.  Even such apparently indifferent details as being able to walk straight out of doors without first getting into a hat and gloves and veil are full of a subtle charm that is ever fresh, and of which I can never have too much.  It is clear that I was born for a placid country life, and placid it certainly is; so much so that the days are sometimes far more like a dream than anything real, the quiet days of reading, and thinking, and watching the changing lights, and the growth and fading of the flowers, the fresh quiet days when life is so full of zest that you cannot stop yourself from singing because you are so happy, the warm quiet days lying on the grass in a secluded corner observing the procession of clouds--this being, I admit, a particularly undignified attitude, but think of the edification!

Each morning the simple act of opening my bedroom windows is the means of giving me an ever-recurring pleasure.  Just underneath them is a border of rockets in full flower, at that hour in the shadow of the house, whose gables lie sharply defined on the grass beyond, and they send up their good morning of scent the moment they see me leaning out, careful not to omit the pretty German custom of morning greeting.  I call back mine, embellished with many endearing words, and then their fragrance comes up close, and covers my face with gentlest little kisses.  Behind them, on the other side of the lawn on this west side of the house, is a thick hedge of lilac just now at its best, and what that best is I wish all who love lilac could see. 

A century ago a man lived here who loved his garden.  He loved, however, in his younger years, travelling as well, but in his travels did not forget this little corner of the earth belonging to him, and brought back the seeds of many strange trees such as had never been seen in these parts before, and tried experiments with them in the uncongenial soil, and though many perished, a few took hold, and grew, and flourished, and shade me now at tea-time.  What flowers he had, and how he arranged his beds, no one knows, except that the eleven beds round the sun-dial were put there by him; and of one thing he seems to have been inordinately fond, and that was lilac.  We have to thank him for the surprising beauty of the garden in May and early June, for he it was who planted the great groups of it, and the banks of it, and massed it between the pines and firs.  Wherever a lilac bush could go a lilac bush went; and not common sorts, but a variety of good sorts, white, and purple, and pink, and mauve, and he must have planted it with special care and discrimination, for it grows here as nothing else will, and keeps his memory, in my heart at least, for ever gratefully green. 

On the wall behind our pew in church there is his monument, he having died here full of years, in the peace that attends the last hours of a good man who has loved his garden; and to the long Latin praises of his virtues and eminence I add, as I pass beneath it on Sundays, a heartiest Amen.  Who would not join in the praises of a man to whom you owe your lilacs, and your Spanish chestnuts, and your tulip trees, and your pyramid oaks?  "He was a good man, for he loved his garden"--that is the epitaph I would have put on his monument, because it gives one a far clearer sense of his goodness and explains it better than any amount of sonorous Latinities.  How could he be anything but good since he loved a garden--that divine filter that filters all the grossness out of us, and leaves us, each time we have been in it, clearer, and purer, and more harmless?

 June 16th.

Yesterday morning I got up at three o'clock and stole through the echoing passages and strange dark rooms, undid with trembling hands the bolts of the door to the verandah, and passed out into a wonderful, unknown world.  I stood for a few minutes motionless on the steps, almost frightened by the awful purity of nature when all the sin and ugliness is shut up and asleep, and there is nothing but the beauty left.  It was quite light, yet a bright moon hung in the cloudless grey-blue sky; the flowers were all awake, saturating the air with scent; and a nightingale sat on a hornbeam quite close to me, in loud raptures at the coming of the sun.  There in front of me was the sun- dial, there were the rose bushes, there was the bunch of pansies I had dropped the night before still lying on the path, but how strange and unfamiliar it all looked, and how holy--as though God must be walking there in the cool of the day. 

I went down the path leading to the stream on the east side of the garden, brushing aside the rockets that were bending across it drowsy with dew, the larkspurs on either side of me rearing their spikes of heavenly blue against the steely blue of the sky, and the huge poppies like splashes of blood amongst the greys and blues and faint pearly whites of the innocent, new-born day.  On the garden side of the stream there is a long row of silver birches, and on the other side a rye-field reaching across in powdery grey waves to the part of the sky where a solemn glow was already burning. 

I sat down on the twisted, half-fallen trunk of a birch and waited, my feet in the long grass and my slippers soaking in dew.  Through the trees I could see the house with its closed shutters and drawn blinds, the people in it all missing, as I have missed day after day, the beauty of life at that hour.  Just behind me the border of rockets and larkspurs came to an end, and, turning my head to watch a stealthy cat, my face brushed against a wet truss of blossom and got its first morning washing.  It was wonderfully quiet, and the nightingale on the hornbeam had everything to itself as I sat motionless watching that glow in the east burning redder; wonderfully quiet, and so wonderfully beautiful because one associates daylight with people, and voices, and bustle, and hurryings to and fro, and the dreariness of working to feed our bodies, and feeding our bodies that we may be able to work to feed them again; but here was the world wide awake and yet only for me, all the fresh pure air only for me, all the fragrance breathed only by me, not a living soul hearing the nightingale but me, the sun in a few moments coming up to warm only me, and nowhere a single hard word being spoken, or a single selfish act being done, nowhere anything that could tarnish the blessed purity of the world as God has given it us. 

If one believed in angels one would feel that they must love us best when we are asleep and cannot hurt each other; and what a mercy it is that once in every twenty-four hours we are too utterly weary to go on being unkind.  The doors shut, and the lights go out, and the sharpest tongue is silent, and all of us, scolder and scolded, happy and unhappy, master and slave, judge and culprit, are children again, tired, and hushed, and helpless, and forgiven.  And see the blessedness of sleep, that sends us back for a space to our early innocence.  Are not our first impulses on waking always good?  Do we not all know how in times of wretchedness our first thoughts after the night's sleep are happy?  We have been dreaming we are happy, and we wake with a smile, and stare still smiling for a moment at our stony griefs before with a stab we recognise them.

There were no clouds, and presently, while I watched, the sun came up quickly out of the rye, a great, bare, red ball, and the grey of the field turned yellow, and long shadows lay upon the grass, and the wet flowers flashed out diamonds.  And then as I sat there watching, and intensely happy as I imagined, suddenly the certainty of grief, and suffering, and death dropped like a black curtain between me and the beauty of the morning, and then that other thought, to face which needs all our courage--the realisation of the awful solitariness in which each of us lives and dies.  Often I could cry for pity of our forlornness, and of the pathos of our endeavours to comfort ourselves.  With what an agony of patience we build up the theories of consolation that are to protect, in times of trouble, our quivering and naked souls!  And how fatally often the elaborate machinery refuses to work at the moment the blow is struck.

I got up and turned my face away from the unbearable, indifferent brightness.  Myriads of small suns danced before my eyes as I went along the edge of the stream to the seat round the oak in my spring garden, where I sat a little, looking at the morning from there, drinking it in in long breaths, and determining to think of nothing but just be happy. What a smell of freshly mown grass there was, and how the little heaps into which it had been raked the evening before sparkled with dewdrops as the sun caught them.  And over there, how hot the poppies were already beginning to look--blazing back boldly in the face of the sun, flashing back fire for fire. 

I crossed the wet grass to the hammock under the beech on the lawn, and lay in it awhile trying to swing in time to the nightingale's tune; and then I walked round the ice-house to see how Goethe's corner looked at such an hour; and then I went down to the fir wood at the bottom of the garden where the light was slanting through green stems; and everywhere there was the same mystery, and emptiness, and wonder. 

When four o'clock drew near I set off home again, not desiring to meet gardeners and have my little hour of quiet talked about, still less my dressing-gown and slippers; so I picked a bunch of roses and hurried in, and just as I softly bolted the door, dreadfully afraid of being taken for a burglar, I heard the first water-cart of the day creaking round the corner.  Fearfully I crept up to my room, and when I awoke at eight o'clock and saw the roses in a glass by my side, I remembered what had happened as though it had been years ago.

Now here I have had an experience that I shall not soon forget, something very precious, and private, and close to my soul; a feeling as though I had taken the world by surprise, and seen it as it really is when off its guard--as though I had been quite near to the very core of things.  The quiet holiness of that hour seems all the more mysterious now, because soon after breakfast yesterday the wind began to blow from the northwest, and has not left off since, and looking out of the window I cannot believe that it is the same garden, with the clouds driving over it in black layers, and angry little showers every now and then bespattering its harassed and helpless inhabitants, who cannot pull their roots up out of the ground and run for their lives, as I am sure they must long to do. 

How discouraging for a plant to have just proudly opened its loveliest flowers, the flowers it was dreaming about all the winter and working at so busily underground during the cold weeks of spring, and then for a spiteful shower of five minutes' duration to come and pelt them down, and batter them about, and cover the tender, delicate things with irremediable splashes of mud!  Every bed is already filled with victims of the gale, and those that escape one shower go down before the next; so I must make up my mind, I suppose, to the wholesale destruction of the flowers that had reached perfection--that head of white rockets among them that washed my face a hundred years ago--and look forward cheerfully to the development of the younger generation of buds which cannot yet be harmed.

I know these gales.  We get them quite suddenly, always from the north-west, and always cold.  They ruin my garden for a day or two, and in the summer try my temper, and at all seasons try my skin; yet they are precious because of the beautiful clear light they bring, the intensity of cold blue in the sky and the terrific purple blackness of the clouds one hour and their divine whiteness the next. They fly screaming over the plain as though ten thousand devils with whips were after them, and in the sunny intervals there is nothing in any of nature's moods to equal the clear sharpness of the atmosphere, all the mellowness and indistinctness beaten out of it, and every leaf and twig glistening coldly bright. 

It is not becoming, a north-westerly gale; it treats us as it treats the garden, but with opposite results, roughly rubbing the softness out of our faces, as I can see when I look at the babies, and avoid the further proof of my own reflection in the glass.  But there is life in it, glowing, intense, robust life, and when in October after weeks of serene weather this gale suddenly pounces on us in all its savageness, and the cold comes in a gust, and the trees are stripped in an hour, what a bracing feeling it is, the feeling that here is the first breath of winter, that it is time to pull ourselves together, that the season of work, and discipline, and severity is upon us, the stern season that forces us to look facts in the face, to put aside our dreams and languors, and show what stuff we are made of. 

No one can possibly love the summer, the dear time of dreams, more passionately than I do; yet I have no desire to prolong it by running off south when the winter approaches and so cheat the year of half its lessons.  It is delightful and instructive to potter among one's plants, but it is imperative for body and soul that the pottering should cease for a few months, and that we should be made to realise that grim other side of life.  A long hard winter lived through from beginning to end without shirking is one of the most salutary experiences in the world.  There is no nonsense about it; you could not indulge in vapours and the finer sentiments in the midst of its deadly earnest if you tried.  The thermometer goes down to twenty degrees of frost Reaumur, and down you go with it to the realities, to that elementary state where everything is big--health and sickness, delight and misery, ecstasy and despair. 

It makes you remember your poorer neighbours, and sends you into their homes to see that they too are fitted out with the armour of warmth and food necessary in the long fight; and in your own home it draws you nearer than ever to each other.  Out of doors it is too cold to walk, so you run, and are rewarded by the conviction that you cannot be more than fifteen; or you get into your furs, and dart away in a sleigh over the snow, and are sure there never was music so charming as that of its bells; or you put on your skates, and are off to the lake to which you drove so often on June nights, when it lay rosy in the reflection of the northern glow, and all alive with myriads of wild duck and plovers, and which is now, but for the swish of your skates, so silent, and but for your warmth and jollity, so forlorn. 

Nor would I willingly miss the early darkness and the pleasant firelight tea and the long evenings among my books.  It is then that I am glad I do not live in a cave, as I confess I have in my more godlike moments wished to do; it is then that I feel most capable of attending to the Man of Wrath's exhortations with an open mind; it is then that I actually like to hear the shrieks of the wind, and then that I give my heartiest assent, as I warm my feet at the fire, to the poet's proposition that all which we behold is full of blessings.

But what dreariness can equal the dreariness of a cold gale at midsummer?  I have been chilly and dejected all day, shut up behind the streaming window-panes, and not liking to have a fire because of its dissipated appearance in the scorching intervals of sunshine.  Once or twice my hand was on the bell and I was going to order one, when out came the sun and it was June again, and I ran joyfully into the dripping, gleaming garden, only to be driven in five minutes later by a yet fiercer squall.  I wandered disconsolately round my pillar of books, looking for the one that would lend itself best to the task of entertaining me under the prevailing conditions, but they all looked gloomy, and reserved, and forbidding.  So I sat down in a very big chair, and reflected that if there were to be many days like this it might be as well to ask somebody cheerful to come and sit opposite me in all those other big chairs that were looking so unusually gigantic and empty. 

When the Man of Wrath came in to tea there were such heavy clouds that the room was quite dark, and he peered about for a moment before he saw me.  I suppose in the gloom of the big room I must have looked rather lonely, and smaller than usual buried in the capacious chair, for when he finally discovered me his face widened into an inappropriately cheerful smile.

"Well, my dear," he said genially, "how very cold it is."

"Did you come in to say that?"  I asked.

"This tempest is very unusual in the summer," he proceeded; to which I made no reply of any sort.

"I did not see you at first amongst all these chairs and cushions.  At least, I saw you, but it is so dark I thought you were a cushion."

Now no woman likes to be taken for a cushion, so I rose and began to make tea with an icy dignity of demeanour.

"I am afraid I shall be forced to break my promise not to invite any one here," he said, watching my face as he spoke. 

My heart gave a distinct leap--so small is the constancy and fortitude of woman. 

"But it will only be for one night." 

My heart sank down as though it were lead. 

"And I have just received a telegram that it will be to-night." 

Up went my heart with a cheerful bound.

"Who is it?"  I inquired. 

And then he told me that it was the least objectionable of the candidates for the living here, made vacant by our own parson having been appointed superintendent, the highest position in the Lutheran Church; and the gale must have brought me low indeed for the coming of a solitary parson to give me pleasure.  The entire race of Lutheran parsons is unpleasing to me, --whether owing to their fault or to mine, it would ill become me to say,-- and the one we are losing is the only one I have met that I can heartily respect, and admire, and like.  But he is quite one by himself in his extreme godliness, perfect simplicity, and real humility, and though I knew it was unlikely we should find another as good, and I despised myself for the eagerness with which I felt I was looking forward to seeing a new face, I could not stop myself from suddenly feeling cheerful.  Such is the weakness of the female mind, and such the unexpected consequences of two months' complete solitude with forty-eight hours' gale at the end of them.

We have had countless applications during the last few weeks for the living, as it is a specially fat one for this part of the country, with a yearly income of six thousand marks, and a good house, and several acres of land.  The Man of Wrath has been distracted by the difficulties of choice.  According to the letters of recommendation, they were all wonderful men with unrivalled powers of preaching, but on closer inquiry there was sure to be some drawback. 

One was too old, another not old enough; another had twelve children, and the parsonage only allows for eight; one had a shrewish wife, and another was of Liberal tendencies in politics--a fatal objection; one was in money difficulties because he would spend more than he had, which was not surprising when one heard what he did have; and another was disliked in his parish because he and his wife were too close-fisted and would not spend at all; and at last, the Man of Wrath explained, the moment having arrived when if he did not himself appoint somebody his right to do so would lapse, he had written to the one who was coming, and invited him down that he might look at him, and ask him searching questions as to the faith which is in him.

I forgot my gloom, and my half-formed desperate resolve to break my vow of solitude and fill the house with the frivolous, as I sat listening to the cheerful talk of the little parson this evening.  He was so cheerful, yet it was hard to see any cause for it in the life he was leading, a life led by the great majority of the German clergy, fat livings being as rare here as anywhere else.  He told us with pleasant frankness all about himself, how he lived on an income of two thousand marks with a wife and six children, and how he was often sorely put to it to keep decent shoes on their feet.  "I am continually drawing up plans of expenditure," he said, "but the shoemaker's bill is always so much more than I had expected that it throws my calculations completely out."

His wife, of course, was ailing, but already his eldest child, a girl of ten, took a great deal of the work off her mother's shoulders, poor baby.  He was perfectly natural, and said in the simplest way that if the choice were to fall on him it would relieve him of many grinding anxieties; whereupon I privately determined that if the choice did not fall on him the Man of Wrath and I would be strangers from that hour.

"Have you been worrying him with questions about his principles?"  I asked, buttonholing the Man of Wrath as he came out from a private conference with him.

"Principles?  My dear Elizabeth, how can he have any on that income?"

"If he is not a Conservative will you let that stand in his way, and doom that little child to go on taking work off other people's shoulders?"

"My dear Elizabeth," he protested, "what has my decision for or against him to do with dooming little children to go on doing anything?  I really cannot be governed by sentiment."

"If you don't give it to him--" and I held up an awful finger of warning as he retreated, at which he only laughed.

When the parson came to say good-night and good-bye, as he was leaving very early in the morning, I saw at once by his face that all was right. He bent over my hand, stammering out words of thanks and promises of devotion and invocations of blessings in such quantities that I began to feel quite pleased with myself, and as though I had been doing a virtuous deed.  This feeling I saw reflected on the Man of Wrath's face, which made me consider that all we had done was to fill the living in the way that suited us best, and that we had no cause whatever to look and feel so benevolent.  Still, even now, while the victorious candidate is dreaming of his trebled income and of the raptures of his home-coming to-morrow, the glow has not quite departed, and I am dwelling with satisfaction on the fact that we have been able to raise eight people above those hideous cares that crush all the colour out of the lives of the genteel poor. 

I am glad he has so many children, because there will be more to be made happy.  They will be rich on the little income, and will no doubt dismiss the wise and willing eldest baby to appropriate dolls and pinafores; and everybody will have what they never yet have had, a certain amount of that priceless boon, leisure--leisure to sit down and look at themselves, and inquire what it is they really mean, and really want, and really intend to do with their lives.  And this, I may observe, is a beneficial process wholly impossible on 100 pounds a year divided by eight.

But I wonder whether they will be thin-skinned enough ever to discover that other and less delightful side of life only seen by those who have plenty of leisure.  Sordid cares may be very terrible to the sensitive, and make them miss the best of everything, but as long as they have them and are busy from morning till night keeping up appearances, they miss also the burden of those fears, and dreads, and realisations that beset him who has time to think. 

When in the morning I go into my sausage-room and give out sausages, I never think of anything but sausages.  My horizon is bounded by them, every faculty is absorbed by them, and they engross me, while I am with them, to the exclusion of the whole world.  Not that I love them; as far as that goes, unlike the effect they produce on most of my country-men, they leave me singularly cold; but it is one of my duties to begin the day with sausages, and every morning for the short time I am in the midst of their shining rows, watching my Mamsell dexterously hooking down the sleekest with an instrument like a boat-hook, I am practically dead to every other consideration in heaven or on earth. 

What are they to me, Love, Life, Death, all the mysteries?  The one thing that concerns me is the due distribution to the servants of sausages; and until that is done, all obstinate questionings and blank misgivings must wait.  If I were to spend my days in their entirety doing such work I should never have time to think, and if I never thought, I should never feel, and if I never felt, I should never suffer or rapturously enjoy, and so I should grow to be something very like a sausage myself, and not on that account, I do believe, any the less precious to the Man of Wrath.

I know what I would do if I were both poor and genteel--the gentility should go to the place of all good ilities, including utility, respectability, and imbecility, and I would sit, quite frankly poor, with a piece of bread, and a pot of geraniums, and a book.  I conclude that if I did without the things erroneously supposed necessary to decency I might be able to afford a geranium, because I see them so often in the windows of cottages where there is little else; and if I preferred such inexpensive indulgences as thinking and reading and wandering in the fields to the doubtful gratification arising from kept-up appearances (always for the bedazzlement of the people opposite, and therefore always vulgar), I believe I should have enough left over to buy a radish to eat with my bread; and if the weather were fine, and I could eat it under a tree, and give a robin some crumbs in return for his cheeriness, would there be another creature in the world so happy?  I know there would not.

July 1st.

I think that after roses, sweet-peas are my favourite flowers.  Nobody, except the ultra-original, denies the absolute supremacy of the rose.  She is safe on her throne, and the only question to decide is which are the flowers that one loves next best.  This I have been a long while deciding, though I believe I knew all the time somewhere deep down in my heart that they were sweet-peas; and every summer when they first come out, and every time, going round the garden, that I come across them, I murmur involuntarily, "Oh yes, you are the sweetest, you dear, dear little things." 

And what a victory this is, to be ranked next the rose even by one person who loves her garden.  Think of the wonderful beauty triumphed over--the lilies, the irises, the carnations, the violets, the frail and delicate poppies, the magnificent larkspurs, the burning nasturtiums, the fierce marigolds, the smooth, cool pansies.  I have a bed at this moment in the full glory of all these things, a little chosen plot of fertile land, about fifteen yards long and of irregular breadth, shutting in at its broadest the east end of the walk along the south front of the house, and sloping away at the back down to a moist, low bit by the side of a very tiny stream, or rather thread of trickling water, where, in the dampest corner, shining in the sun, but with their feet kept cool and wet, is a colony of Japanese irises, and next to them higher on the slope Madonna lilies, so chaste in looks and so voluptuous in smell, and then a group of hollyhocks in tenderest shades of pink, and lemon, and white, and right and left of these white marguerites and evening primroses and that most exquisite of poppies called Shirley, and a little on one side a group of metallic blue delphiniums beside a towering white lupin, and in and out and everywhere mignonette, and stocks, and pinks, and a dozen other smaller but not less lovely plants. 

I wish I were a poet, that I might properly describe the beauty of this bit as it sparkles this afternoon in the sunshine after rain; but of all the charming, delicate, scented groups it contains, none to my mind is so lovely as the group of sweet-peas in its north-west corner.  There is something so utterly gentle and tender about sweet-peas, something so endearing in their clinging, winding, yielding growth; and then the long straight stalk, and the perfect little winged flower at the top, with its soft, pearly texture and wonderful range and combination of colours--all of them pure, all of them satisfying, not an ugly one, or even a less beautiful one among them. 

And in the house, next to a china bowl of roses, there is no arrangement of flowers so lovely as a bowl of sweet-peas, or a Delft jar filled with them.  What a mass of glowing, yet delicate colour it is!  How prettily, the moment you open the door, it seems to send its fragrance to meet you!  And how you hang over it, and bury your face in it, and love it, and cannot get away from it.  I really am sorry for all the people in the world who miss such keen pleasure.  It is one that each person who opens his eyes and his heart may have; and indeed, most of the things that are really worth having are within everybody's reach.  Any one who chooses to take a country walk, or even the small amount of trouble necessary to get him on to his doorstep and make him open his eyes, may have them, and there are thousands of them thrust upon us by nature, who is for ever giving and blessing, at every turn as we walk. 

The sight of the first pale flowers starring the copses; an anemone held up against the blue sky with the sun shining through it towards you; the first fall of snow in the autumn; the first thaw of snow in the spring; the blustering, busy winds blowing the winter away and scurrying the dead, untidy leaves into the corners; the hot smell of pines--just like blackberries--when the sun is on them; the first February evening that is fine enough to show how the days are lengthening, with its pale yellow strip of sky behind the black trees whose branches are pearled with raindrops; the swift pang of realisation that the winter is gone and the spring is coming; the smell of the young larches a few weeks later; the bunch of cowslips that you kiss and kiss again because it is so perfect, because it is so divinely sweet, because of all the kisses in the world there is none other so exquisite--who that has felt the joy of these things would exchange them, even if in return he were to gain the whole world, with all its chimney-pots, and bricks, and dust, and dreariness?  And we know that the gain of a world never yet made up for the loss of a soul.

One day, in going round the head inspector's garden with his wife, whose care it is, I remarked with surprise that she had no sweet-peas.  I called them Lathyrus odoratus, and she, having little Latin, did not understand.  Then I called them wohlriechende Wicken, the German rendering of that which sounds so pretty in English, and she said she had never heard of them. 

The idea of an existence in a garden yet without sweet-peas, so willing, so modest, and so easily grown, had never presented itself as possible to my imagination.  Ever since I can remember, my summers have been filled with them; and in the days when I sat in my own perambulator and they were three times as tall as I was, I well recollect a certain waving hedge of them in the garden of my childhood, and how I stared up longingly at the flowers so far beyond my reach, inaccessibly tossing against the sky. 

When I grew bigger and had a small garden of my own, I bought their seeds to the extent of twenty pfennings, and trained the plants over the rabbit-hutch that was the chief feature in the landscape.  There were other seeds in that garden seeds on which I had laid out all my savings and round which played my fondest hopes, but the sweet-peas were the only ones that came up.  The same thing happened here in my first summer, my gardening knowledge not having meanwhile kept pace with my years, and of the seeds sown that first season sweet-peas again were the only ones that came up.  I should say they were just the things for people with very little time and experience at their disposal to grow.  A garden might be made beautiful with sweet-peas alone, and, with hardly any labour, except the sweet labour of picking to prolong the bloom, be turned into a fairy bower of delicacy and refinement. 

Yet the Frau Inspector not only had never heard of them, but, on my showing her a bunch, was not in the least impressed, and led me in her garden to a number of those exceedingly vulgar red herbaceous peonies growing among her currant bushes, and announced with conviction that they were her favourite flower. 

It was on the tip of my tongue to point out that in these days of tree-peonies, and peonies so lovely in their silvery faint tints that they resemble gigantic roses, it is absolutely wicked to suffer those odious red ones to pervert one's taste; that a person who sees nothing but those every time he looks out of his window very quickly has his nice perception for true beauty blunted; that such a person would do well to visit my garden every day during the month of May, and so get himself cured by the sight of my peony bushes covered with huge scented white and blush flowers; and that he would, I was convinced, at the end of the cure, go home and pitch his own on to the dust-heap. 

But of what earthly use would it have been? Pointing out the difference between what is beautiful and what misses beauty to a Frau Inspector of forty, whose chief business it is to make butter, is likely to be singularly unprolific of good results; and, further, experience has taught me that whenever anything is on the tip of my tongue the best thing to do is to keep it there.  I wonder why a woman always wants to interfere.

It is a pity, nevertheless, that this lady should be so wanting in the aesthetic instinct, for her garden is full of possibilities.  It lies due south, sheltered on the north, east, and west by farm buildings, and is rich in those old fruit-trees and well-seasoned gooseberry bushes that make such a good basis for the formation of that most delightful type of little garden, the flower-and-fruit-and-vegetable-mixed sort.  She has, besides, an inestimable slimy, froggy pond, a perpetual treasure of malodorous water, much pined after by thirsty flowers; and then does she not live in the middle of a farmyard flowing with fertilising properties that only require a bucket and a shovel to transform them into roses? The way in which people miss their opportunities is melancholy.

This pond of hers, by the way, is an object of the liveliest interest to the babies.  They do not seem to mind the smell, and they love the slime, and they had played there for several days in great peace before the unfortunate accident of the June baby's falling in and being brought back looking like a green and speckled frog herself, revealed where it was they had persuaded Seraphine to let them spend their mornings.  Then there was woe and lamentation, for I was sure they would all have typhoid fever, and I put them mercilessly to bed, and dosed them, as a preliminary, with castor oil--that oil of sorrow, as Carlyle calls it.

It was no use sending for the doctor because there is no doctor within reach; a fact which simplifies life amazingly when you have children. During the time we lived in town the doctor was never out of the house. Hardly a day passed but one or other of the Three had a spot, or, as the expressive German has it, a Pickel, and what parent could resist sending for a doctor when one lived round the corner?  But doctors are like bad habits--once you have shaken them off you discover how much better you are without them; and as for the babies, since they inhabit a garden, prompt bed and the above-mentioned simple remedy have been all that is necessary to keep them robust. 

I admit I was frightened when I heard where they had been playing, for when the wind comes from that quarter even sitting by my rose beds I have been reminded of the existence of the pond; and I kept them in bed for three days, anxiously awaiting symptoms, and my head full of a dreadful story I had heard of a little boy who had drunk seltzer water and thereupon been seized with typhoid fever and had died, and if, I asked myself with a power of reasoning unusual in a woman, you die after seltzer water, what will you not do after frog-pond? 

But they did nothing, except be uproarious, and sing at the top of their voices, and clamour for more dinner than I felt would be appropriate for babies who were going to be dangerously ill in a few hours; and so, after due waiting, they were got up and dressed and turned loose again, and from that day to this no symptoms have appeared. The pond was at first strictly forbidden as a playground, but afterwards I made concessions, and now they are allowed to go to a deserted little burying-ground on the west side of it when the wind is in the west; and there at least they can hear the frogs, and sometimes, if they are patient, catch a delightful glimpse of them.

The graveyard is in the middle of a group of pines that bounds the Frau Inspector's garden on that side, and has not been used within the memory of living man.  The people here love to make their little burying-grounds in the heart of a wood if they can, and they are often a long way away from the church to which they belong because, while every hamlet has its burying-ground, three or four hamlets have to share a church; and indeed the need for churches is not so urgent as that for graves, seeing that, though we may not all go to church, we all of us die and must be buried.

Some of these little cemeteries are not even anywhere near a village, and you come upon them unexpectedly in your drives through the woods-- bits of fenced-in forest, the old gates dropping off their hinges, the paths green from long disuse, the unchecked trees casting black, impenetrable shadows across the poor, meek, pathetic graves.  I try sometimes, pushing aside the weeds, to decipher the legend on the almost speechless headstones; but the voice has been choked out of them by years of wind, and frost, and snow, and a few stray letters are all that they can utter--a last stammering protest against oblivion.

The Man of Wrath says all women love churchyards.  He is fond of sweeping assertions, and is sometimes curiously feminine in his tendency to infer a general principle from a particular instance.  The deserted little forest burying-grounds interest and touch me because they are so solitary, and humble, and neglected, and forgotten, and because so many long years have passed since tears were shed over the newly made graves. Nobody cries now for the husband, or father, or brother buried there; years and years ago the last tear that would ever be shed for them was dried--dried probably before the gate was reached on the way home--and they were not missed.  Love and sorrow appear to be flowers of civilisation, and most to flourish where life has the broadest margin of leisure and abundance.  The primary instincts are always there, and must first be satisfied; and if to obtain the means of satisfying them you have to work from morning till night without rest, who shall find time and energy to sit down and lament?  I often go with the babies to the enclosure near the Frau Inspector's pond, and it seems just as natural that they should play there as that the white butterflies should chase each other undisturbed across the shadows.  And then the place has a soothing influence on them, and they sober down as we approach it, and on hot afternoons sit quietly enough as close to the pond as they may, content to watch for the chance appearance of a frog while talking to me about angels.

This is their favourite topic of conversation in this particular place. Just as I have special times and places for certain books, so do they seem to have special times and places for certain talk.  The first time I took them there they asked me what the mounds were, and by a series of adroit questions extracted the information that the people who had been buried there were now angels (I am not a specialist, and must take refuge in telling them what I was told in my youth), and ever since then they refuse to call it a graveyard, and have christened it the angel- yard, and so have got into the way of discussing angels in all their bearings, sometimes to my confusion, whenever we go there.

"But what are angels, mummy?"  said the June baby inconsequently this afternoon, after having assisted at the discussions for several days and apparently listening with attention.

"Such a silly baby!" cried April, turning upon her with contempt, "don't you know they are lieber Gott's little girls?"

Now I protest I had never told those babies anything of the sort.  I answer their questions to the best of my ability and as conscientiously as I can, and then, when I hear them talking together afterwards, I am staggered by the impression they appear to have received.  They live in a whole world of independent ideas in regard to heaven and the angels, ideas quite distinct from other people's, and, as far as I can make out, believe that the Being they call lieber Gott pervades the garden, and is identical with, among other things, the sunshine and the air on a fine day.  I never told them so, nor, I am sure, did Seraphine, and still less Seraphine's predecessor Miss Jones, whose views were wholly material; yet if, on bright mornings, I forget to immediately open all the library windows on coming down, the April baby runs in, and with quite a worried look on her face cries, "Mummy, won't you open the windows and let the lieber Gott come in?"

If they were less rosy and hungry, or if I were less prosaic, I might have gloomy forebodings that such keen interest in things and beings celestial was prophetic of a short life; and in books, we know, the children who talk much on these topics invariably die, after having given their reverential parents a quantity of advice.  Fortunately such children are confined to books, and there is nothing of the ministering child--surely a very uncomfortable form of infant--about my babies. Indeed, I notice that in their conversations together on such matters a healthy spirit of contradiction prevails, and this afternoon, after having accepted April's definition of angels with apparent reverence, the June baby electrified the other two (always more orthodox and yielding) by remarking that she hoped she would never go to heaven.  I pretended to be deep in my book and not listening; April and May were sitting on the grass sewing ("needling" they call it) fearful-looking woolwork things for Seraphine's birthday, and June was leaning idly against a pine trunk, swinging a headless doll round and round by its one remaining leg, her heels well dug into the ground, her sun-bonnet off, and all the yellow tangles of her hair falling across her sunburnt, grimy little face.

"No," she repeated firmly, with her eyes fixed on her sisters' startled faces, "I don't want to.  There's nothing there for babies to play with."

"Nothing to play with?"  exclaimed the other two in a breath--and throwing down their needle-work they made a simultaneous rush for me.

"Mummy, did you hear?  June says she doesn't want to go into the Himmel!" cried April, horror-stricken.

"Because there's nothing to play with there, she says," cried May, breathlessly; and then they added with one voice, as though the subject had long ago been threshed out and settled between them, "Why, she can play at ball there with all the Sternleins if she likes!"

The idea of the June baby striding across the firmament and hurling the stars about as carelessly as though they were tennis-balls was so magnificent that it sent shivers of awe through me as I read.

"But if you break all your dolls," added April, turning severely to June, and eyeing the distorted remains in her hand, "I don't think lieber Gott will let you in at all.  When you're big and have tiny Junes--real live Junes--I think you'll break them too, and lieber Gott doesn't love mummies what breaks their babies."

"But I must break my dolls," cried June, stung into indignation by what she evidently regarded as celestial injustice; "lieber Gott made me that way, so I can't help doing it, can I, mummy?"

On these occasions I keep my eyes fixed on my book, and put on an air of deep abstraction; and indeed, it is the only way of keeping out of theological disputes in which I am invariably worsted.

 July 15th.

Yesterday, as it was a cool and windy afternoon and not as pleasant in my garden as it has lately been, I thought I would go into the village and see how my friends the farm hands were getting on. Philanthropy is intermittent with me as with most people, only they do not say so, and seize me like a cold in the head whenever the weather is chilly.  On warm days my bump of benevolence melts away entirely, and grows bigger in proportion as the thermometer descends.  When the wind is in the east it is quite a decent size, and about January, in a north- easterly snowstorm, it is plainly visible to the most casual observer. For a few weeks from then to the end of February I can hold up my head and look our parson in the face, but during the summer, if I see him coming my mode of progression in getting out of the way is described with perfect accuracy by the verb "to slink."

The village consists of one street running parallel to the outer buildings of the farm, and the cottages are one-storied, each with rooms for four families--two in front, looking on to the wall of the farmyard, which is the fashionable side, and two at the back, looking on to nothing more exhilarating than their own pigstyes.  Each family has one room and a larder sort of place, and shares the kitchen with the family on the opposite side of the entrance; but the women prefer doing their cooking at the grate in their own room rather than expose the contents of their pots to the ill-natured comments of a neighbour. 

On the fashionable side there is a little fenced-in garden for every family, where fowls walk about pensively and meditate beneath the scarlet- runners (for all the world like me in my garden), and hollyhocks tower above the drying linen, and fuel, stolen from our woods, is stacked for winter use; but on the other side you walk straight out of the door on to manure heaps and pigs.

The street did not look very inviting yesterday, with a lowering sky above, and the wind blowing dust and bits of straw and paper into my face and preventing me from seeing what I knew to be there, a consoling glimpse of green fields and fir woods down at the other end; but I had not been for a long while--we have had such a lovely summer--and something inside me had kept on saying aggressively all the morning, "Elizabeth, don't you know you are due in the village?  Why don't you go then?  When are you going?  Don't you know you ought to go?  Don't you feel you must?  Elizabeth, pull yourself together and go."

Strange effect of a grey sky and a cool wind!  For I protest that if it had been warm and sunny my conscience would not have bothered about me at all.  We had a short fight over it, in which I got all the knocks, as was evident by the immediate swelling of the bump alluded to above, and then I gave in, and by two o'clock in the afternoon was lifting the latch of the first door and asking the woman who lived behind it what she had given the family for dinner.  This, I was instructed on my first round by the Frau Inspector, is the proper thing to ask; and if you can follow it up by an examination of the contents of the saucepan, and a gentle sniff indicative of your appreciation of their savouriness, so much the better. 

I was diffident at first about this, but the gratification on their faces at the interest displayed is so unmistakable that I never now omit going through the whole business.  This woman, the wife of one of the men who clean and feed the cows, has arrived at that enviable stage of existence when her children have all been confirmed and can go out to work, leaving her to spend her days in her clean and empty room in comparative dignity and peace.  The children go to school till they are fourteen, then they are confirmed, are considered grown up, and begin to work for wages; and her three strapping daughters were out in the fields yesterday reaping. 

The mother has a keen, shrewd face, and everything about her was neat and comfortable.  Her floor was freshly strewn with sand, her cups and saucers and spoons shone bright and clean from behind the glass door of the cupboard, and the two beds, one for herself and her husband and the other for her three daughters, were more mountainous than any I afterwards saw.  The size and plumpness of her feather beds, the Frau Inspector tells me, is a woman's chief claim to consideration from the neighbours.  She who can pile them up nearest to the ceiling becomes the principal personage in the community, and a flat bed is a social disgrace. 

It is a mystery to me, when I see the narrowness of the bedsteads, how so many people can sleep in them.  They are rather narrower than what are known as single beds, yet father and mother and often a baby manage to sleep very well in one, and three or four children in the opposite corner of the room in another.  The explanation no doubt is that they do not know what nerves are, and what it is to be wakened by the slightest sound or movement in the room and lie for hours afterwards, often the whole night, totally unable to fall asleep again, staring out into the darkness with eyes that refuse to shut.  No nerves, and a thick skin--what inestimable blessings to these poor people!  And they never heard of either.

I stood a little while talking, not asked to sit down, for that would be thought a liberty, and hearing how they had had potatoes and bacon for dinner, and how the eldest girl Bertha was going to be married at Michaelmas, and how well her baby was getting through its teething.

"Her baby?"  I echoed, "I have not heard of a baby?"

The woman went to one of the beds and lifted up a corner of the great bag of feathers, and there, sure enough, lay a round and placid baby, sleeping as sweetly and looking as cherubic as the most legitimate of its contemporaries.

"And he is going to marry her at Michaelmas?"  I asked, looking as sternly as I could at the grandmother.

"Oh yes," she replied, "he is a good young man, and earns eighteen marks a week.  They will be very comfortable."

"It is a pity," I said, "that the baby did not make its appearance after Michaelmas instead of before.  Don't you see yourself what a pity it is, and how everything has been spoilt?"

She stared at me for a moment with a puzzled look, and then turned away and carefully covered the cherub again.  "They will be very comfortable," she repeated, seeing that I expected an answer; "he earns eighteen marks a week."

What was there to be said?  If I had told her her daughter was a grievous sinner she might perhaps have felt transiently uncomfortable, but as soon as I had gone would have seen for herself, with those shrewd eyes of hers, that nothing had been changed by my denunciations, that there lay the baby, dimpled and healthy, that her daughter was making a good match, that none of her set saw anything amiss, and that all the young couples in the district had prefaced their marriages in this way.

Our parson is troubled to the depths of his sensitive soul by this custom.  He preaches, he expostulates, he denounces, he implores, and they listen with square stolid faces and open mouths, and go back to their daily work among their friends and acquaintances, with no feeling of shame, because everybody does it, and public opinion, the only force that could stop it, is on their side.  The parson looks on with unutterable sadness at the futility of his efforts; but the material is altogether too raw for successful manipulation by delicate fingers.

"Poor things," I said one day, in answer to an outburst of indignation from him, after he had been marrying one of our servants at the eleventh hour, "I am so sorry for them.  It is so pitiful that they should always have to be scolded on their wedding day.  Such children--so ignorant, so uncontrolled, so frankly animal--what do they know about social laws? They only know and follow nature, and I would from my heart forgive them all."

"It is sin" he said shortly.

"Then the forgiveness is sure."

"Not if they do not seek it."

I was silent, for I wished to reply that I believed they would be forgiven in spite of themselves, that probably they were forgiven whether they sought it or not, and that you cannot limit things divine; but who can argue with a parson?  These people do not seek forgiveness because it never enters their heads that they need it.  The parson tells them so, it is true, but they regard him as a person bound by his profession to say that sort of thing, and are sharp enough to see that the consequences of their sin, foretold by him with such awful eloquence, never by any chance come off.  No girl is left to languish and die forsaken by her betrayer, for the betrayer is a worthy young man who marries her as soon as he possibly can; no finger of scorn is pointed at the fallen one, for all the fingers in the street are attached to women who began life in precisely the same fashion; and as for that problematical Day of Judgment of which they hear so much on Sundays, perhaps they feel that that also may be one of the things which after all do not happen.

The servant who had been married and scolded that morning was a groom, aged twenty, and he had met his little wife, she being then seventeen, in the place he was in before he came to us.  She was a housemaid there, and must have been a pretty thing, though there were few enough traces of it, except the beautiful eyes, in the little anxious face that I saw for the first time immediately after the wedding, and just before the weary and harassed parson came in to talk things over.  I had never heard of her existence until, about ten days previously, the groom had appeared, bathed in tears, speechlessly holding out a letter from her in which she said she could not bear things any longer and was going to kill herself.  The wretched young man was at his wit's end, for he had not yet saved enough to buy any furniture and set up housekeeping, and she was penniless after so many months out of a situation.  He did not know any way out of it, he had no suggestions to offer, no excuses to make, and just stood there helplessly and sobbed.

I went to the Man of Wrath, and we laid our heads together.  "We do not want another married servant," he said.

"No, of course we don't," said I.

"And there is not a room empty in the village."

"No, not one."

"And how can we give him furniture?  It is not fair to the other servants who remain virtuous, and wait till they can buy their own."

"No, certainly it isn't fair."

There was a pause.

"He is a good boy," I murmured presently.

"A very good boy."

"And she will be quite ruined unless somebody--"

"I'll tell you what we can do, Elizabeth," he interrupted; "we can buy what is needful and let him have it on condition that he buys it back gradually by some small monthly payment."

"So we can."

"And I think there is a room over the stables that is empty."

"So there is."

"And he can go to town and get what furniture he needs and bring the girl back with him and marry her at once.  The sooner the better, poor girl."

And so within a fortnight they were married, and came hand in hand to me, he proud and happy, holding himself very straight, she in no wise yet recovered from the shock and misery of the last few hopeless months, looking up at me with eyes grown much too big for her face, eyes in which there still lurked the frightened look caught in the town where she had hidden herself, and where fingers of scorn could not have been wanting, and loud derision, and utter shame, besides the burden of sickness, and hunger, and miserable pitiful youth.

They stood hand in hand, she in a decent black dress, and both wearing very tight white kid gloves that refused to hide entirely the whole of the rough red hands, and they looked so ridiculously young, and the whole thing was so wildly improvident, that no words of exhortation would come to my lips as I gazed at them in silence, between laughter and tears.  I ought to have told them they were sinners; I ought to have told them they were reckless; I ought to have told them by what a narrow chance they had escaped the just punishment of their iniquity, and instead of that I found myself stretching out hands that were at once seized and kissed, and merely saying with a cheerful smile, "Nun Kinder, liebt Euch, und seid brav." 

And so they were dismissed, and then the parson came, in a fever at this latest example of deadly sin, while I, with the want of moral sense so often observable in woman, could only think with pity of their childishness.  The baby was born three days later, and the mother very nearly slipped through our fingers; but she was a country girl, and she fought round, and by and by grew young again in the warmth of married respectability; and I met her the other day airing her baby in the sun, and holding her head as high as though she were conscious of a whole row of feather beds at home, every one of which touched the ceiling.

In the next room I went into, an old woman lay in bed with her head tied up in bandages.  The room had not much in it, or it would have been untidier; it looked neglected and gloomy, and some dirty plates, suggestive of long-past dinners, were piled on the table.

"Oh, such headaches!" groaned the old woman when she saw me, and moved her head from side to side on the pillow.  I could see she was not undressed, and had crept under her feather bag as she was.  I went to the bedside and felt her pulse--a steady pulse, with nothing of feverishness in it.

"Oh, such draughts!" moaned the old woman, when she saw I had left the door open.

"A little air will make you feel better," I said; the atmosphere in the shut-up room was so indescribable that my own head had begun to throb.

"Oh, oh!" she moaned, in visible indignation at being forced for a moment to breathe the pure summer air.

"I have something at home that will cure your headache," I said, "but there is nobody I can send with it to-day.  If you feel better later on, come round and fetch it.  I always take it when I have a headache"-- ("Why, Elizabeth, you know you never have such things!" whispered my conscience, appalled.  "You just keep quiet," I whispered back, "I have had enough of you for one day.")--"and I have some grapes I will give you when you come, so that if you possibly can, do."

"Oh, I can't move," groaned the old woman, "oh, oh, oh!"  But I went away laughing, for I knew she would appear punctually to fetch the grapes, and a walk in the air was all she needed to cure her.

How the whole village hates and dreads fresh air!  A baby died a few days ago, killed, I honestly believe, by the exceeding love of its mother, which took the form of cherishing it so tenderly that never once during its little life was a breath of air allowed to come anywhere near it. She is the watchman's wife, a gentle, flabby woman, with two rooms at her disposal, but preferring to live and sleep with her four children in one, never going into the other except for the christenings and funerals which take place in her family with what I cannot but regard as unnecessary frequency.  This baby was born last September in a time of golden days and quiet skies, and when it was about three weeks old I suggested that she should take it out every day while the fine weather lasted.  She pointed out that it had not yet been christened, and remembering that it is the custom in their class for both mother and child to remain shut up and invisible till after the christening, I said no more.  Three weeks later I was its godmother, and it was safely got into the fold of the Church.  As I was leaving, I remarked that now she would be able to take it out as much as she liked.  The following March, on a day that smelt of violets, I met her near the house.  I asked after the baby, and she began to cry.  "It does not thrive," she wept, "and its arms are no thicker than my finger."

"Keep it out in the sun as much as you can," I said; "this is the very weather to turn weak babies into strong ones."

"Oh, I am so afraid it will catch cold if I take it out," she cried, her face buried in what was once a pocket-handkerchief.

"When was it out last?"

"Oh--" she stopped to blow her nose, very violently, and, as it seemed to me, with superfluous thoroughness.  I waited till she had done, and then repeated my question.

"Oh--" a fresh burst of tears, and renewed exhaustive nose-blowing.

I began to suspect that my question, put casually, was of more importance than I had thought, and repeated it once more.

"I--can't t-take it out," she sobbed, "I know it--it would die."

"But has it not been out at all, then?"

She shook her head.

"Not once since it was born?  Six months ago?"

She shook her head.

"Poor baby!" I exclaimed; and indeed from my heart I pitied the little thing, perishing in a heap of feathers, in one close room, with four people absorbing what air there was.  "I am afraid," I said, "that if it does not soon get some fresh air it will not live.  I wonder what would happen to my children if I kept them in one hot room day and night for six months.  You see how they are out all day, and how well they are."

"They are so strong," she said, with a doleful sniff, "that they can stand it."

I was confounded by this way of looking at it, and turned away, after once more begging her to take the child out.  She plainly regarded the advice as brutal, and I heard her blowing her nose all down the drive. In June the father told me he would like the doctor; the child grew thinner every day in spite of all the food it took.  A doctor was got from the nearest town, and I went across to hear what he ordered.  He ordered bottles at regular intervals instead of the unbroken series it had been having, and fresh air.  He could find nothing the matter with it, except unusual weakness.  He asked if it always perspired as it was doing then, and himself took off the topmost bag of feathers.  Early in July it died, and its first outing was to the cemetery in the pine woods three miles off.

"I took such care of it," moaned the mother, when I went to try and comfort her after the funeral; "it would never have lived so long but for the care I took of it."

"And what the doctor ordered did no good?"  I ventured to ask, as gently as I could.

"Oh, I did not take it out--how could I--it would have killed it at once--at least I have kept it alive till now."  And she flung her arms across the table, and burying her head in them wept bitterly.

There is a great wall of ignorance and prejudice dividing us from the people on our place, and in every effort to help them we knock against it and cannot move it any more than if it were actual stone.  Like the parson on the subject of morals, I can talk till I am hoarse on the subject of health, without at any time producing the faintest impression. 

When things are very bad the doctor is brought, directions are given, medicines made up, and his orders, unless they happen to be approved of, are simply not carried out.  Orders to wash a patient and open windows are never obeyed, because the whole village would rise up if, later on, the illness ended in death, and accuse the relatives of murder. 

I suppose they regard us and our like who live on the other side of the dividing wall as persons of fantastic notions which, when carried into effect among our own children, do no harm because of the vast strength of the children accumulated during years of eating in the quantities only possible to the rich.  Their idea of happiness is eating, and they naturally suppose that everybody eats as much as he can possibly afford to buy.  Some of them have known hunger, and food and strength are coupled together in their experience--the more food the greater the strength; and people who eat roast meat (oh, bliss ineffable!) every day of their lives can bear an amount of washing and airing that would surely kill such as themselves. 

But how useless to try and discover what their views really are.  I can imagine what I like about them, and am fairly certain to imagine wrong.  I have no real conception of their attitude towards life, and all I can do is to talk to them kindly when they are in trouble, and as often as I can give them nice things to eat. 

Shocked at the horrors that must surround the poor women at the birth of their babies, I asked the Man of Wrath to try and make some arrangement that would ensure their quiet at those times.  He put aside a little cottage at the end of the street as a home for them in their confinements, and I furnished it, and made it clean and bright and pretty.  A nurse was permanently engaged, and I thought with delight of the unspeakable blessing and comfort it was going to be.  Not a baby has been born in that cottage, for not a woman has allowed herself to be taken there.  At the end of a year it had to be let out again to families, and the nurse dismissed.

"Why wouldn't they go?"  I asked the Frau Inspector, completely puzzled. 

She shrugged her shoulders.  "They like their husband and children round them," she said, "and are afraid something will be done to them away from home--that they will be washed too often, perhaps.  The gracious lady will never get them to leave their homes."

"The gracious lady gives it up," I muttered.

When I opened the next door I was bewildered by the crowd in the room.  A woman stood in the middle at a wash-tub which took up most of the space.  Every now and then she put out a dripping hand and jerked a perambulator up and down for a moment, to calm the shrieks of the baby inside.  On a wooden bench at the foot of one of the three beds a very old man sat and blinked at nothing.  Crouching in a corner were two small boys of pasty complexion, playing with a guinea-pig and coughing violently.  The loveliest little girl I have seen for a very long while lay in the bed nearest the door, quite silent, with her eyes closed and her mouth shut tight, as though she were trying hard to bear something.  As I pulled the door open the first thing I saw, right up against it, was this set young face framed in tossed chestnut hair. 

"Why, Frauchen," I said to the woman at the tub, "so many of you at home to-day?  Are you all ill?"  

There was hardly standing room for an extra person, and the room was full of steam.

"They have all got the cough I had," she answered, without looking up, "and Lotte there is very bad."

I took Lotte's rough little hand--so different from the delicate face-- and found she was in a fever.

"We must get the doctor," I said.

"Oh, the doctor--" said the mother with a shrug, "he's no use."

"You must do what he tells you, or he cannot help you."

"That last medicine he sent me all but killed me," she said, washing vigorously.  "I'll never take any more of his, nor shall any child of mine."

"What medicine was it?"

She wiped her hand on her apron, and reaching across to the cupboard took out a little bottle.  "I was in bed two days after it," she said, handing it to me--"as though I were dead, not knowing what was going on round me."  The bottle had contained opium, and there were explicit directions written on it as to the number of drops to be taken and the length of the intervals between the taking.

"Did you do exactly what is written here?"  I asked.

"I took it all at once.  There wasn't much of it, and I was feeling bad."

"But then of course it nearly killed you.  I wonder it didn't quite.  What good is it our taking all the trouble we do to send that long distance for the doctor if you don't do as he orders?"

"I'll take no more of his medicine.  If it had been any good and able to cure me, the more I took the quicker I ought to have been cured." 

And she scrubbed and thumped with astounding energy, while Lotte lay with her little ashen face a shade more set and suffering.  The wash-tub, though in the middle of the room, was quite close to Lotte's bed, because the middle of the room was quite close to every other part of it, and each extra hard maternal thump must have hit the child's head like a blow from a hammer.  She was, you see, only thirteen, and her skin had not had time to turn into leather.

"Has this child eaten anything to-day?"

"She won't."

"Is she not thirsty?"

"She won't drink coffee or milk."

"I'll send her something she may like, and I shall send, too, for the doctor."

"I'll not give her his stuff."

"Let me beg you to do as he tells you."

"I'll not give her his stuff."

"Was it absolutely necessary to wash to-day?"

"It's the day."

"My good woman," said I to myself, gazing at her with outward blandness, "I'd like exceedingly to tip you up into your wash-tub and thump you as thoroughly as you are thumping those unfortunate clothes."  Aloud I said in flute-like tones of conciliation, "Good afternoon."

"Good afternoon," said she without looking up.

Washing days always mean tempers, and I ought to have fled at the first sight of that tub, but then there was Lotte in her little yellow flannel night-gown, suffering as only children can suffer, helpless, forced to patience, forced to silent endurance of any banging and vehemence in which her mother might choose to indulge.  No wonder her mouth was shut like a clasp and she would not open her eyes.  Her eyebrows were reddish like her hair, and very straight, and her eyelashes lay dusky and long on her white face. 

At least I had discovered Lotte and could help her a little, I thought, as I departed down the garden path between the rows of scarlet-runners; but the help that takes the form of jelly and iced drinks is not of a lasting nature, and I have but little sympathy with a benevolence that finds its highest expression in gifts of the kind.  There have been women within my experience who went down into the grave accompanied by special pastoral encomiums, and whose claims to lady- bountifulness, on closer inquiry, rested solely on a foundation of jelly.  Yet nothing in the world is easier than ordering jelly to be sent to the sick, except refraining from ordering it. 

What more, however, could I do for Lotte than this?  I could not take her up in my arms and run away with her and nurse her back to health, for she would probably object to such a course as strongly as her mother; and later on, when she gets well again, she will go back to school, and grow coarse and bouncing and leathery like the others, affording the parson, in three or four years' time, a fresh occasion for grief over deadly sin. 

"If one could only get hold of the children!" I sighed, as I went up the steps into the schoolhouse; "catch them young, and put them in a garden, with no older people of their own class for ever teaching them by example what is ugly, and unworthy, and gross."

Afternoon school was going on, and the assistant teacher was making the children read aloud in turns.  In winter, when they would be glad of a warm, roomy place in which to spend their afternoons, school is only in the morning; and in summer, when the thirstiest after knowledge are apt to be less keen, it is both morning and afternoon.  The arrangement is so mysterious that it must be providential. 

Herr Schenk, the head master, was away giving my babies their daily lessons, and his assistant, a youth in spectacles but yet of pugnacious aspect, was sitting in the master's desk, exercising a pretty turn for sarcasm in his running comments on the reading.  A more complete waste of breath and brilliancy can hardly be imagined.  He is not yet, however, married, and marriage is a great chastener. 

The children all stood up when I came in, and the teacher ceased sharpening his wits on a dulness that could not feel, and with many bows put a chair for me and begged me to sit on it.  I did sit on it, and asked that they might go on with the lesson, as I had only come in for a minute on my way down the street.  The reading was accordingly resumed, but unaccompanied this time by sarcasms. 

What faces!  What dull, apathetic, low, coarse faces!  On one side sat those from ten to fourteen, with not a hopeful face among them, and on the other those from six to ten, with one single little boy who looked as though he could have no business among the rest, so bright was he, so attentive, so curiously dignified.  Poor children--what could the parson hope to make of beings whose expressions told so plainly of the sort of nature within?  Those that did not look dull looked cunning, and all the girls on the older side had the faces of women. 

I began to feel dreadfully depressed.  "See what you have done," I whispered angrily to my conscience--"made me wretched without doing anybody else any good."

"The old woman with the headache is happy in the hopes of grapes," it replied, seeking to justify itself, "and Lotte is to have some jelly."

"Grapes! Jelly!  Futility unutterable.  I can't bear this, and am going home." 

The teacher inquired whether the children should sing something to my graciousness; perhaps he was ashamed of their reading, and indeed I never heard anything like it. 

"Oh yes," I said, resigned, but outwardly smiling kindly with the self-control natural to woman.  They sang, or rather screamed, a hymn, and so frightfully loud and piercingly that the very windows shook. 

"My dear," explained the Man of Wrath, when I complained one Sunday on our way home from church of the terrible quality and volume of the music, "it frightens Satan away."

Our numerous godchildren were not in school because, as we have only lived here three years, they are not yet old enough to share in the blessings of education.  I stand godmother to the girls, and the Man of Wrath to the boys, and as all the babies are accordingly named after us the village swarms with tiny Elizabeths and Boys of Wrath. 

A hunchbacked woman, unfit for harder work, looks after the babies during the day in a room set apart for that purpose, so that the mothers may not be hampered in their duties at the farm; they have only to carry the babies there in the morning, and fetch them away again in the evening, and can feel that they are safe and well looked after.  But many of them, for some reason too cryptic to fathom, prefer to lock them up in their room, exposed to all the perils that surround an inquiring child just able to walk, and last winter one little creature was burnt to death, sacrificed to her mother's stupidity. 

This mother, a fair type of the intelligence prevailing in the village, made a great fire in her room before going out, so that when she came back at noon there would still be some with which to cook the dinner, left a baby in a perambulator, and a little Elizabeth of three loose in the room, locked the door, put the key in her pocket, and went off to work.  When she came back to get the dinner ready, the baby was still crowing placidly in its perambulator, and the little Elizabeth, with all the clothes burnt off her body, was lying near the grate dead.  Of course the mother was wild with grief, distracted, raving, desperate, and of course all the other women were shocked and horrified; but point the moral as we might, we could not bring them to see that it was an avoidable misfortune with nothing whatever to do with the Finger Gottes, and the mothers who preferred locking their babies up alone to sending them to be looked after, went on doing so as undisturbed as though what had occurred could in no wise be a lesson to themselves.

"Pray, Herr Lehrer, why are those two little boys sitting over there on that seat all by themselves and not singing?"  I asked at the conclusion of the hymn.

"That, gracious lady, is the vermin bench.  It is necessary to keep--"

"Oh yes, yes--I quite understand--good afternoon.  Good-bye, children, you have sung very nicely indeed."

"Now," said I to myself, when I was safely out in the street again, "I am going home."

"Oh, not yet," at once protested my unmanageable conscience; "your favourite old woman lives in the next cottage, and surely you are not going to leave her out?"

"I see plainly," I replied, "that I shall never be quite comfortable till I have got rid of you" and in I went to the next house.

The entrance was full of three women--the entrances here are narrow, and the women wide--and they all looked more cheerful than seemed reasonable.  They stood aside to let me pass, and when I opened the door I found the room equally full of women, looking equally happy, and talking eagerly.

"Why, what is happening?"  I asked the nearest one.  "Is there a party?"

She turned round, grinning broadly in obvious delight.  "The old lady died in her sleep," she said, "and was found this morning dead in her bed.  I was in here only yesterday, and she said--"

I turned abruptly and went out again.  All those gloating women, hovering round the poor body that was clothed on a sudden by death with a wonderful dignity and nobleness, made me ashamed of being a woman.  Not a man was there,-- clearly a superior race of beings. 

In the entrance I met the Frau Inspector coming in to arrange matters, and she turned and walked with me a little way.

"The old lady was better off than we thought," she remarked, "and has left a very good black silk dress to be buried in."

"A black silk dress?"  I repeated.

"And everything to match in goodness--nice leather shoes, good stockings, under-things all trimmed with crochet, real whalebone corsets, and a quite new pair of white kid gloves.  She must have saved for a long time to have it all so nice."

"But," I said, "I don't understand.  I have never had anything to do yet with death, and have not thought of these things.  Are not people, then, just buried in a shroud?"

"A shroud?"  It was her turn not to understand.

"A sheet sort of thing."

She smiled in a highly superior manner.  "Oh dear, no," she said, "we are none of us quite so poor as that."

I glanced down at her as she walked beside me.  She is a short woman, and carries weight.  She was smiling almost pityingly at my ignorance of what is due, even after death, to ourselves and public opinion.

"The very poorest," she said, "manage to scrape a whole set of clothes together for their funerals.  A very poor couple came here a few months ago, and before the man had time to earn anything he died.  The wife came to me (the gracious lady was absent), and on her knees implored me to give her a suit for him--she had only been able to afford the Sterbehemd, and was frantic at the thought of what the neighbours would say if he had nothing on but that, and said she would be haunted by shame and remorse all the rest of her life.  We bought a nice black suit, and tie, and gloves, and he really looked very well.  She will be dressed to-night," she went on, as I said nothing; "the dressers come with the coffin, and it will be a nice funeral.  I used to wonder what she did with her pension money, and never could persuade her to buy herself a bit of meat.  But of course she was saving for this.  They are beautiful corsets."

"What utter waste!" I ejaculated.


"Yes--utter waste and foolishness.  Foolishness, not to have bought a few little comforts, waste of the money, and waste of the clothes.  Is there any meaning, sense, or use whatever in burying a good black silk dress?"

"It would be a scandal not to be buried decently," she replied, manifestly surprised at my warmth, "and the neighbours respect her much more now that they know what nice clothes she had bought for her funeral.  Nothing is wanting.  I even found a box with a gold brooch in it, and a bracelet."

"I suppose, then, as many of her belongings as will go into the coffin will be buried too, in order to still further impress the neighbours?"  I asked--"her feather bed, for instance, and anything else of use and value?"

"No, only what she has on, and the brushes and combs and towels that were used in dressing her."

"How ugly and how useless!" I said with a shiver of disgust.

"It is the custom," was her tranquil reply.

Suddenly an unpleasant thought struck me, and I burst out emphatically, "Nothing but a shroud is to be put on me."

"Oh no," she said, looking up at me with a face meant to be full of the most reassuring promises of devotion, "the gracious lady may be quite certain that if I am still here she will have on her most beautiful ball dress and finest linen, and that the whole neighbourhood shall see for themselves how well Herrschaften know what is due to them."

"I shall give directions," I repeated with increased energy, "that there is only to be a shroud."

"Oh no, no," she protested, smiling as though she were humouring a spoilt and eccentric child, "such a thing could never be permitted.  What would our feelings be when we remembered that the gracious lady had not received her dues, and what would the neighbours say?"

"I'll have nothing but a shroud!" I cried in great wrath--and then stopped short, and burst out laughing.  "What an absurd and gruesome conversation," I said, holding out my hand.  "Good-bye, Frau Inspector, I am sure you are wanted in that cottage."

She made me a curtsey and turned back. 

I walked out of the village and through the fir wood and the meadow as quickly as I could, opened the gate into my garden, went down the most sheltered path, flung myself on the grass in a quiet nook, and said aloud "Ugh!"

It is a well-known exclamation of disgust, and is thus inadequately expressed in writing.

August 5th.

August has come, and has clothed the hills with golden lupins, and filled the grassy banks with harebells.  The yellow fields of lupins are so gorgeous on cloudless days that I have neglected the forests lately and drive in the open, so that I may revel in their scent while feasting my eyes on their beauty.  The slope of a hill clothed with this orange wonder and seen against the sky is one of those sights which make me so happy that it verges on pain.  The straight, vigorous flower-spikes are something like hyacinths, but all aglow with a divine intensity of brightness that a yellow hyacinth never yet possessed and never will; and then they are not waxy, but velvety, and their leaves are not futile drooping things, but delicate, strong sprays of an exquisite grey-green, with a bloom on them that throws a mist over the whole field; and as for the perfume, it surely is the perfume of Paradise.  The plant is altogether lovely--shape, growth, flower, and leaf, and the horses have to wait very patiently once we get among them, for I can never have enough of sitting quite still in those fair fields of glory. 

Not far from here there is a low series of hills running north and south, absolutely without trees, and at the foot of them, on the east side, is a sort of road, chiefly stones, but yet with patience to be driven over, and on the other side of this road a plain stretches away towards the east and south; and hills and plain are now one sheet of gold.  I have driven there at all hours of the day--I cannot keep away--and I have seen them early in the morning, and at mid-day, and in the afternoon, and I have seen them in the evening by moonlight, when all the intensity was washed out of the colour and into the scent; but just as the sun drops behind the little hills is the supreme moment, when the splendour is so dazzling that you feel as though you must have reached the very gates of heaven. 

So strong was this feeling the other day that I actually got out of the carriage, being impulsive, and began almost involuntarily to climb the hill, half expecting to see the glories of the New Jerusalem all spread out before me when I should reach the top; and it came with quite a shock of disappointment to find there was nothing there but the prose of potato-fields, and a sandy road with home-going calves kicking up its dust, and in the distance our neighbour's Schloss, and the New Jerusalem just as far off as ever.

It is a relief to me to write about these things that I so much love, for I do not talk of them lest I should be regarded as a person who rhapsodizes, and there is no nuisance more intolerable than having somebody's rhapsodies thrust upon you when you have no enthusiasm of your own that at all corresponds.  I know this so well that I generally succeed in keeping quiet; but sometimes even now, after years of study in the art of holding my tongue, some stray fragment of what I feel does occasionally come out, and then I am at once pulled up and brought to my senses by the well-known cold stare of utter incomprehension, or the look of indulgent superiority that awaits any exposure of a feeling not in the least understood. 

How is it that you should feel so vastly superior whenever you do not happen to enter into or understand your neighbour's thoughts when, as a matter of fact, your not being able to do so is less a sign of folly in your neighbour than of incompleteness in yourself?  I am quite sure that if I were to take most or any of my friends to those pleasant yellow fields they would notice nothing except the exceeding joltiness of the road; and if I were so ill-advised as to lift up a corner of my heart, and let them see how full it was of wonder and delight, they would first look blank, and then decide mentally that they were in the unpleasant situation of driving over a stony road with that worst form of idiot, a bore, and so fall into the mood of self-commiseration which is such a solace to us in our troubles. 

Yet it is painful being suppressed for ever and ever, and I believe the torments of such a state, when unduly prolonged, are more keenly felt by a woman than a man, she having, in spite of her protestations, a good deal of the ivy nature still left in her, and an unhealthy craving for sympathy and support.  When I drive to the lupins and see them all spread out as far as eye can reach in perfect beauty of colour and scent and bathed in the mild August sunshine, I feel I must send for somebody to come and look at them with me, and talk about them to me, and share in the pleasure; and when I run over the list of my friends and try to find one who would enjoy them, I am frightened once more at the solitariness in which we each of us live.  I have, it is true, a great many friends-- people with whom it is pleasant to spend an afternoon if such afternoons are not repeated often, and if you are careful not to stir more than the surface of things, but among them all there is only one who has, roughly, the same tastes that I have; and even her sympathies have limitations, and she declares for instance with emphasis that she would not at all like to be a goose-girl. 

I wonder why.  Our friendship nearly came to an end over the goose-girl, so unexpectedly inflaming did the subject turn out to be.  Of all professions, if I had liberty of choice, I would choose to be a gardener, and if nobody would have me in that capacity I would like to be a goose-girl, and sit in the greenest of fields minding those delightfully plump, placid geese, whiter and more leisurely than the clouds on a calm summer morning, their very waddle in its lazy deliberation soothing and salutary to a fretted spirit that has been too long on the stretch. 

The fields geese feed in are so specially charming, so green and low-lying, with little clumps of trees and bushes, and a pond or boggy bit of ground somewhere near, and a profusion of those delicate field flowers that look so lovely growing and are so unsatisfactory and fade so quickly if you try to arrange them in your rooms. 

For six months of the year I would be happier than any queen I ever heard of, minding the fat white things.  I would begin in April with the king-cups, and leave off in September with the blackberries, and I would keep one eye on the geese, and one on the volume of Wordsworth I should have with me, and I would be present in this way at the procession of the months, the first three all white and yellow, and the last three gorgeous with the lupin fields and the blues and purples and crimsons that clothe the hedges and ditches in a wonderful variety of shades, and dye the grass near the water in great patches.  Then in October I would shut up my Wordsworth, go back to civilised life, and probably assist at the eating of the geese one after the other, with a proper thankfulness for the amount of edification I had from first to last extracted from them.

I believe in England goose eating is held to be of doubtful refinement, and is left to one's servants.  Here roast goose stuffed with apples is a dish loved quite openly and simply by people who would consider that the number of their quarterings raises them above any suspicion as to the refinement of their tastes, however many geese they may eat, and however much they may enjoy them; and I remember one lady, whose ancestors, probably all having loved goose, reached back up to a quite giddy antiquity, casting a gloom over a dinner table by removing as much of the skin or crackling of the goose as she could when it came to her, remarking, amidst a mournful silence, that it was her favourite part. 

No doubt it was.  The misfortune was that it happened also to be the favourite part of the line of guests who came after her, and who saw themselves forced by the hard laws of propriety to affect an indifferent dignity of bearing at the very moment when their one feeling was a fierce desire to rise up and defend at all costs their right to a share of skin. 

She had, I remember, very pretty little white hands like tiny claws, and wore beautiful rings, and sitting opposite her, and free myself from any undue passion for goose, I had leisure to watch the rapid way in which she disposed of the skin, her rings and the whiteness of her hands flashing up and down as she used her knife and fork with the awful dexterity only seen in perfection in the Fatherland. 

I am afraid that as a nation we think rather more of our eating and drinking than is reasonable, and this no doubt explains why so many of us, by the time we are thirty, have lost the original classicality of our contour. Walking in the streets of a town you are almost sure to catch the word essen in the talk of the passers-by; and das Essen, combined, of course, with the drinking made necessary by its exaggerated indulgence, constitutes the chief happiness of the middle and lower classes. 

Any story-book or novel you take up is full of feeling descriptions of what everybody ate and drank, and there are a great many more meals than kisses; so that the novel-reader who expects a love-tale, finds with disgust that he is put off with menus.  The upper classes have so many other amusements that das Essen ceases to be one, and they are as thin as all the rest of the world; but if the curious wish to see how very largely it fills the lives, or that part of their lives that they reserve for pleasure, of the middle classes, it is a good plan to go to seaside places during the months of July and August, when the schools close, and the bourgeoisie realises the dream in which it has been indulging the whole year, of hotel life with a tremendous dinner every day at one o'clock.

The April baby was a weak little creature in her first years, and the doctor ordered as specially bracing a seaside resort frequented solely by the middle classes, and there for three succeeding years I took her; and while she rolled on the sands and grew brown and lusty, I was dull, and fell to watching the other tourists. 

Their time, it appeared, was spent in ruminating over the delights of the meal that was eaten, and in preparing their bodies by gentlest exercise for the delights of the meal that was to come.  They passed their mornings on the sands, the women doing fancy work in order that they might look busy, and the men strolling aimlessly about near them with field-glasses, and nautical caps, and long cloaks of a very dreadful pattern reaching to their heels and making them look like large women, called Havelocks,--all of them waiting with more or less open eagerness for one o'clock, the great moment to which they had been looking forward ever since the day before, to arrive.  They used to file in when the bell rang with a sort of silent solemnity, a contemplative collectedness, which is best described by the word recueillement, and ate all the courses, however many there were, in a hot room full of flies and sunlight.

The dinner lasted a good hour and a half, and at the end of that time they would begin to straggle out again, flushed and using toothpicks as they strolled to the tables under the trees, where the exhausted waiters would presently bring them breakfast-cups of coffee and cakes.  They lingered about an hour over this, and then gradually disappeared to their rooms, where they slept, I suppose, for from then till about six a death-like stillness reigned in the place and April and I had it all to ourselves. 

Towards six, slow couples would be seen crawling along the path by the shore and panting up into the woods, this being the only exercise of the day, and necessary if they would eat their suppers with appreciation; and April and I, peering through the bracken out of the nests of moss we used to make in the afternoons, could see them coming up through the trees after the climb up the cliff, the husband with his Havelock over his arm, a little in front, wiping his face and gasping, the wife in her tight silk dress, her bonnet strings undone, a cloak and an umbrella, and very often a small mysterious basket as well to carry, besides holding up her dress, very stout and very uncomfortable and very breathless, panting along behind; and however much she had to carry, and however fat and helpless she was, and however steep the hill, and however much dinner she had eaten, the idea that her husband might have taken her cloak and her umbrella and her basket and carried them for her would never have struck either of them.  If it had by some strange chance entered his head, he would have reasoned that he was as stout as she was, that he had eaten as much dinner, that he was several years older, and that it was her cloak.  Logic is so irresistible.

To go on eating long after you have ceased to be hungry has fascinations, apparently, that are difficult to withstand, and if it gives you so much pleasure that the resulting inability to move without gasping is accepted with the meekness of martyrs, who shall say that you are wrong?  My not myself liking a large dinner at one o'clock is not a reason for my thinking I am superior to those who do.  Their excesses, it is true, are not my excesses, but then neither are mine theirs; and what about the days of idleness I spend, doing nothing from early till late but lie on the grass watching clouds? 

If I were to murmur gluttons, could not they, from their point of view, retort with conviction fool?  All those maxims about judging others by yourself, and putting yourself in another person's place, are not, I am afraid, reliable.  I had them dinned into me constantly as a child, and I was constantly trying to obey them, and constantly was astonished at the unexpected results I arrived at; and now I know that it is a proof of artlessness to suppose that other people will think and feel and hope and enjoy what you do and in the same way that you do. 

If an officious friend had stood in that breathless couple's path and told them in glowing terms how much happier they would be if they lived their life a little more fully and from its other sides, how much more delightful to stride along gaily together in their walks, with wind enough for talk and laughter, how pleasant if the man were muscular and in good condition and the woman brisk and wiry, and that they only had to do as he did and live on cold meat and toast, and drink nothing, to be as blithe as birds, do you think they would have so much as understood him?  Cold meat and toast?  Instead of what they had just been enjoying so intensely?  Miss that soup made of the inner mysteries of geese, those eels stewed in beer, the roast pig with red cabbage, the venison basted with sour cream and served with beans in vinegar and cranberry jam, the piled-up masses of vanilla ice, the pumpernickel and cheese, the apples and pears on the top of that, and the big cups of coffee and cakes on the top of the apples and pears?

Really a quick walk over the heather with a wiry wife would hardly make up for the loss of such a dinner; and besides, might not a wiry wife turn out to be a questionable blessing?  And so they would pity the nimble friend who wasted his life in taking exercise and missed all its pleasures, and the man of toast and early rising would regard them with profound disgust if simple enough to think himself better than they, and, if he possessed an open mind, would merely return their pity with more of his own; so that, I suppose, everybody would be pleased, for the charm of pitying one's neighbour, though subtle, is undeniable.

I remember when I was at the age when people began to call me Backfisch, and my mother dressed me in a little scarlet coat with big pearl buttons, and my eyes turned down because I was shy, and my nose turned up because I was impudent, one summer at the seaside with my governess we noticed in our walks a solitary lady of dignified appearance, who spoke to no one, and seemed for ever wrapped in distant and lofty philosophic speculations. 

"She's thinking about Kant and the nebular hypothesis," I decided to myself, having once heard some men with long beards talking of both those things, and they all had had that same far-away look in their eyes. 

"Qu'est-ce que c'est une hypothese nebuleuse, Mademoiselle?"  I said aloud.

"Tenez-vous bien, et marchez d'une facon convenable," she replied sharply.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est une hypothese--"

"Vous etes trop jeune pour comprendre ces choses."

"Oh alors vous ne savez pas vous-meme!"  I cried triumphantly, "Sans cela vous me diriez."

"Elisabeth, vous ecrirez, des que nous rentrons, leverbe Prier le bon Dieu de m'Aider a ne plus Etre si Impertinente."

She was an ingenious young woman, and the verbs I had to write as punishments were of the most elaborate and complicated nature-- Demander pardon pour Avoir Siffle comme un Gamin quelconque, Vouloir ne plus Oublier de Nettoyer mes Ongles, Essayer de ne pas tant Aimer les Poudings, are but a few examples of her achievements in this particular branch of discipline.

That very day at the table d'hote the abstracted lady sat next to me.  A ragout of some sort was handed round, and after I had taken some she asked me, before helping herself, what it was.

"Snails," I replied promptly, wholly unchastened by the prayers I had just been writing out in every tense.

"Snails!  Ekelig."  And she waved the waiter loftily away, and looked on with much superciliousness at the rest of us enjoying ourselves.

"What!  You do not eat this excellent ragout?"  asked her other neighbour, a hot man, as he finished clearing his plate and had time to observe the emptiness of hers.  "You do not like calves' tongues and mushrooms?  Sonderbar."

I still can see the poor lady's face as she turned on me more like a tigress than the impassive person she had been a moment before.  "Sie unverschamter Backfisch!" she hissed.  "My favourite dish--I have you to thank for spoiling my repast--my day!"  And in a frenzy of rage she gripped my arm as though she would have shaken me then and there in the face of the multitude, while I sat appalled at the consequences of indulging a playful fancy at the wrong time.

Which story, now I come to think of it, illustrates less the tremendous importance of food in our country than the exceeding odiousness of Backfisch in scarlet coats.

 August 10th.

My idea of a garden is that it should be beautiful from end to end, and not start off in front of the house with fireworks, going off at its farthest limit into sheer sticks.  The standard reached beneath the windows should at least be kept up, if it cannot be surpassed, right away through, and the German popular plan in this matter quite discarded of concentrating all the available splendour of the establishment into the supreme effort of carpet-bedding and glass balls on pedestals in front of the house, in the hope that the stranger, carefully kept in that part, and on no account allowed to wander, will infer an equal magnificence throughout the entire domain; whereas he knows very well all the time that the landscape round the corner consists of fowls and dust-bins. 

Disliking this method, I have tried to make my garden increase in loveliness, if not in tidiness, the farther you get into it; and the visitor who thinks in his innocence as he emerges from the shade of the verandah that he sees the best before him, is artfully conducted from beauty to beauty till he beholds what I think is the most charming bit, the silver birch and azalea plantation down at the very end.  This is the boundary of my kingdom on the south side, a blaze of colour in May and June, across which you see the placid meadows stretching away to a distant wood; and from its contemplation the ideal visitor returns to the house a refreshed and better man. 

That is the sort of person one enjoys taking round--the man (or woman) who, loving gardens, would go any distance to see one; who comes to appreciate, and compare, and admire; who has a garden of his own that he lives in and loves; and whose talk and criticisms are as dew to the thirsty gardening soul, all too accustomed in this respect to droughts.  He knows as well as I do what work, what patience, what study and watching, what laughter at failures, what fresh starts with undiminished zeal, and what bright, unalterable faith are represented by the flowers in my garden.  He knows what I have done for it, and he knows what it has done for me, and how it has been and will be more and more a place of joys, a place of lessons, a place of health, a place of miracles, and a place of sure and never-changing peace.

Living face to face with nature makes it difficult for one to be discouraged.  Moles and late frosts, both of which are here in abundance, have often grieved and disappointed me, but even these, my worst enemies, have not succeeded in making me feel discouraged.  Not once till now have I got farther in that direction than the purely negative state of not being encouraged; and whenever I reach that state I go for a brisk walk in the sunshine and come back cured. 

It makes one so healthy to live in a garden, so healthy in mind as well as body, and when I say moles and late frosts are my worst enemies, it only shows how I could not now if I tried sit down and brood over my own or my neighbour's sins, and how the breezes in my garden have blown away all those worries and vexations and bitternesses that are the lot of those who live in a crowd.  The most severe frost that ever nipped the hopes of a year is better to my thinking than having to listen to one malignant truth or lie, and I would rather have a mole busy burrowing tunnels under each of my rose trees and letting the air get at their roots than face a single greeting where no kindness is. 

How can you help being happy if you are healthy and in the place you want to be?  A man once made it a reproach that I should be so happy, and told me everybody has crosses, and that we live in a vale of woe.  I mentioned moles as my principal cross, and pointed to the huge black mounds with which they had decorated the tennis-court, but I could not agree to the vale of woe, and could not be shaken in my belief that the world is a dear and lovely place, with everything in it to make us happy so long as we walk humbly and diet ourselves. 

He pointed out that sorrow and sickness were sure to come, and seemed quite angry with me when I suggested that they too could be borne perhaps with cheerfulness.  "And have not even such things their sunny side?"  I exclaimed.  "When I am steeped to the lips in diseases and doctors, I shall at least have something to talk about that interests my women friends, and need not sit as I do now wondering what I shall say next and wishing they would go." 

He replied that all around me lay misery, sin, and suffering, and that every person not absolutely blinded by selfishness must be aware of it and must realise the seriousness and tragedy of existence. 

I asked him whether my being miserable and discontented would help any one or make him less wretched; and he said that we all had to take up our burdens. 

I assured him I would not shrink from mine, though I felt secretly ashamed of it when I remembered that it was only moles, and he went away with a grave face and a shaking head, back to his wife and his eleven children. 

I heard soon afterwards that a twelfth baby had been born and his wife had died, and in dying had turned her face with a quite unaccountable impatience away from him and to the wall; and the rumour of his piety reached even into my garden, and how he had said, as he closed her eyes, "It is the Will of God."  He was a missionary.

But of what use is it telling a woman with a garden that she ought really to be ashamed of herself for being happy?  The fresh air is so buoyant that it lifts all remarks of that sort away off you and leaves you laughing.  They get wafted away on the scent of the stocks, and you stand in the sun looking round at your cheerful flowers, and more than ever persuaded that it is a good and blessed thing to be thankful. 

Oh a garden is a sweet, sane refuge to have!  Whether I am tired because I have enjoyed myself too much, or tired because I have lectured the servants too much, or tired because I have talked to missionaries too much, I have only to come down the verandah steps into the garden to be at once restored to quiet, and serenity, and my real and natural self.  I could almost fancy sometimes that as I come down the steps, gentle hands of blessing have been laid on my head.  I suppose I feel so because of the hush that descends on my soul when I get out of the close, restless house into that silent purity. 

Sometimes I sit for hours in the south walk by the verandah just listening and watching.  It is so private there, though directly beneath the windows, that it is one of my favourite places.  There are no bedrooms on that side of the house, only the Man of Wrath's and my day-rooms, so that servants cannot see me as I stand there enjoying myself.  If they did or could, I should simply never go there, for nothing is so utterly destructive to meditation as to know that probably somebody inquisitive is eyeing you from behind a curtain.

The loveliest garden I know is spoilt to my thinking by the impossibility of getting out of sight of the house, which stares down at you, Argus-eyed and unblinking, into whatever corner you may shuffle.  Perfect house and perfect garden, lying in that land of lovely gardens, England, the garden just the right size for perfection, not a weed ever admitted, every dandelion and daisy--those friends of the unaspiring-- routed out years ago, the borders exquisite examples of taste, the turf so faultless that you hardly like to walk on it for fear of making it dusty, and the whole quite uninhabitable for people of my solitary tendencies because, go where you will, you are overlooked. 

Since I have lived in this big straggling place, full of paths and copses where I am sure of being left alone, with wide fields and heath and forests beyond, and so much room to move and breathe in, I feel choked, oppressed, suffocated, in anything small and perfect.  I spent a very happy afternoon in that little English paradise, but I came away quite joyfully, and with many a loving thought of my own dear ragged garden, and all the corners in it where the anemones twinkle in the spring like stars, and where there is so much nature and so little art. 

It will grow I know sweeter every year, but it is too big ever to be perfect and to get to look so immaculate that the diseased imagination conjures up visions of housemaids issuing forth each morning in troops and dusting every separate flower with feather brushes.  Nature herself is untidy, and in a garden she ought to come first, and Art with her brooms and clipping-shears follow humbly behind. 

Art has such a good time in the house, where she spreads herself over the walls, and hangs herself up gorgeously at the windows, and lurks in the sofa cushions, and breaks out in an eruption of pots wherever pots are possible, that really she should be content to take the second place out of doors. 

And how dreadful to meet a gardener and a wheelbarrow at every turn--which is precisely what happens to one in the perfect garden.  My gardener, whose deafness is more than compensated for by the keenness of his eyesight, very soon remarked the scowl that distorted my features whenever I met one of his assistants in my favourite walks, and I never meet them now.  I think he must keep them chained up to the cucumber-frames, so completely have they disappeared, and he only lets them loose when he knows I am driving, or at meals, or in bed. 

But is it not irritating to be sitting under your favourite tree, pencil in hand, and eyes turned skywards expectant of the spark from heaven that never falls, and then to have a man appear suddenly round the corner who immediately begins quite close to you to tear up the earth with his fangs?  No one will ever know the number of what I believe are technically known as winged words that I have missed bringing down through interruptions of this kind.  Indeed, as I look through these pages I see I must have missed them all, for I can find nothing anywhere with even a rudimentary approach to wings.

Sometimes when I am in a critical mood and need all my faith to keep me patient, I shake my head at the unshornness of the garden as gravely as the missionary shook his head at me.  The bushes stretch across the paths, and, catching at me as I go by, remind me that they have not been pruned; the teeming plant life rejoices on the lawns free from all interference from men and hoes; the pinks are closely nibbled off at the beginning of each summer by selfish hares intent on their own gratification; most of the beds bear the marks of nocturnal foxes; and the squirrels spend their days wantonly biting off and flinging down the tender young shoots of the firs.  Then there is the boy who drives the donkey and water-cart round the garden, and who has an altogether reprehensible habit of whisking round corners and slicing off bits of the lawn as he whisks. 

"But you can't alter these things, my good soul," I say to myself.  "If you want to get rid of the hares and foxes, you must consent to have wire-netting, which is odious, right round your garden.  And you are always saying you like weeds, so why grumble at your lawns?  And it doesn't hurt you much if the squirrels do break bits off your firs--the firs must have had that happening to them years and years before you were born, yet they still flourish.  As for boys, they certainly are revolting creatures.  Can't you catch this one when he isn't looking and pop him in his own water-barrel and put the lid on?"

I asked the June baby, who had several times noticed with indignation the culpable indifference of this boy in regard to corners, whether she did not think that would be a good way of disposing of him.  She is a great disciplinarian, and was loud in her praise of the plan; but the other two demurred. 

"He might go dead in there," said the May baby, apprehensively. 

"And he is such a naughty boy," said April, who had watched his reckless conduct with special disgust, "that if he once went dead he'd go straight to the Holle and stay all the time with the diable."

That was the first French word I have heard them say: strange and sulphureous first-fruits of Seraphine's teaching!

We were going round the garden in a procession, I with a big pair of scissors, and the Three with baskets, into one of which I put fresh flowers, and into the others flowers that were beginning to seed, dead flowers, and seed-pods.  The garden was quivering in heat and light; rain in the morning had brought out all the snails and all the sweetness, and we were very happy, as we always are, I when I am knee-deep in flowers, and the babies when they can find new sorts of snails to add to their collections.  These collections are carried about in cardboard boxes all day, and at night each baby has hers on the chair beside her bed. Sometimes the snails get out and crawl over the beds, but the babies do not mind.  Once when April woke in the morning she was overjoyed by finding a friendly little one on her cheek.  Clearly babies of iron nerves and pellucid consciences.

"So you do know some French," I said as I snipped off poppy-heads; "you have always pretended you don't."

"Oh, keep the poppies, mummy," cried April, as she saw them tumbling into her basket; "if you picks them and just leaves them, then they ripes and is good for such a many things."

"Tell me about the diable" I said, "and you shall keep the poppies."

"He isn't nice, that diable," she said, starting off at once with breathless eloquence.  "Seraphine says there was one time a girl and a boy who went for a walk, and there were two ways, and one way goes where stones is, but it goes to the lieber Gott; and the girl went that way till she came to a door, and the lieber Gott made the door opened and she went in, and that's the Himmel."

"And the boy?"

"Oh, he was a naughty boy and went the other way where there is a tree, and on the tree is written, 'Don't go this way or you'll be dead,' and he said, 'That is one betise,' and did go in the way and got to the Holle, and there he gets whippings when he doesn't make what the diable says."

"That's because he was so naughty," explained the May baby, holding up an impressive finger, "and didn't want to go to the Himmel and didn't love glory."

"All boys are naughty," said June, "and I don't love them."

"Nous allons parler Francais" I announced, desirous of finding out whether their whole stock was represented by diable and betise; "I believe you can all speak it quite well."

There was no answer.  I snipped off sweet-pea pods and began to talk French at a great rate, asking questions as I snipped, and trying to extract answers, and getting none. 

The silence behind me grew ominous.  Presently I heard a faint sniff, and the basket being held up to me began to shake.  I bent down quickly and looked under April's sun-bonnet.  She was crying great dreadful tears, and rubbing her eyes hard with her one free hand.

"Why, you most blessed of babies," I exclaimed, kneeling down and putting my arms round her, "what in the world is the matter?"

She looked at me with grieved and doubting eyes.  "Such a mother to talk French to her child!" she sobbed.

I threw down the scissors, picked her up, and carried her up and down the path, comforting her with all the soft words I knew and suppressing my desire to smile. 

"That's not French, is it?"  I whispered at the end of a long string of endearments, beginning, I believe, with such flights of rhetoric as priceless blessing and angel baby, and ending with a great many kisses.

"No, no," she answered, patting my face and looking infinitely relieved, "that is pretty, and how mummies always talks.  Proper mummies never speak French--only Seraphines."  And she gave me a very tight hug, and a kiss that transferred all her tears to my face; and I set her down and, taking out my handkerchief, tried to wipe off the traces of my attempt at governessing from her cheeks.  I wonder how it is that whenever babies cry, streaks of mud immediately appear on their faces.  I believe I could cry for a week, and yet produce no mud.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, babies," I said, anxious to restore complete serenity on such a lovely day, and feeling slightly ashamed of my uncalled-for zeal--indeed, April was right, and proper mothers leave lessons and torments to somebody else, and devote all their energies to petting--"I'll give a ball after tea."

"Yes!" shouted three exultant voices, "and invite all the babies!"

"So now you must arrange what you are going to wear.  I suppose you'd like the same supper as usual?  Run away to Seraphine and tell her to get you ready."

They seized their baskets and their boxes of snails and rushed off into the bushes, calling for Seraphine with nothing but rapture in their voices, and French and the diable quite forgotten.

These balls are given with great ceremony two or three times a year. They last about an hour, during which I sit at the piano in the library playing cheerful tunes, and the babies dance passionately round the pillar.  They refuse to waltz together, which is perhaps a good thing, for if they did there would always be one left over to be a wallflower and gnash her teeth; and when they want to dance squares they are forced by the stubbornness of numbers to dance triangles. 

At the appointed hour they knock at the door, and come in attired in the garments they have selected as appropriate (at this last ball the April baby wore my shooting coat, the May baby had a muff, and the June baby carried Seraphine's umbrella), and, curtseying to me, each one makes some remark she thinks suitable to the occasion.

"How's your husband?"  June asked me last time, in the defiant tones she seems to think proper at a ball.

"Very well, thank you."

"Oh, that is nice."

"Mine isn't vely well," remarked April, cheerfully.


"No, he has got some tummy-aches."

"Dear me!"

"He was coming else, and had such fine twowsers to wear--pink ones with wibbons."

After a little more graceful conversation of this kind, the ball begins, and at the end of an hour's dancing, supper, consisting of radishes and lemonade, is served on footstools; and when they have cleared it up even to the leaves and stalks of the radishes, they rise with much dignity, express in proper terms their sense of gratitude for the entertainment, curtsey, and depart to bed, where they spend a night of horror, the prey of the awful dreams naturally resulting from so unusual a combination as radishes and babies. 

That is why my balls are rare festivals--the babies will insist on having radishes for the supper, and I, as a decent parent with a proper sense of my responsibilities, am forced accordingly to restrict my invitations to two, at the most three, in a year.

When this last one was over I felt considerably exhausted, and had hardly sufficient strength to receive their thanks with civility.  An hour's jig-playing with the thermometer at 90 leaves its marks on the most robust; and when they were in bed, and the supper beginning to do its work, I ordered the carriage and the kettle with a view to seeking repose in the forest, taking the opportunity of escaping before the Man of Wrath should come in to dinner. 

The weather has been very hot for a long time, but the rain in the morning had had a wonderful effect on my flowers, and as I drove away I could not help noticing how charming the borders in front of the house were looking, with their white hollyhocks, and white snapdragons, and fringe of feathery marigolds. 

This gardener has already changed the whole aspect of the place, and I believe I have found the right man at last.  He is very young for a head gardener, but on that account all the more anxious to please me and keep his situation; and it is a great comfort to have to do with somebody who watches and interprets rightly every expression of one's face and does not need much talking to.  He makes mistakes sometimes in the men he engages, just as I used to when I did the engaging, and he had one poor young man as apprentice who very soon, like the first of my three meek gardeners, went mad.  His madness was of a harmless nature and took a literary form; indeed, that was all they had against him, that he would write books.  He used to sit in the early morning on my special seats in the garden, and strictly meditate the thankless muse when he ought to have been carting manure; and he made his fellow-apprentices unspeakably wretched by shouting extracts from Schiller at them across the intervening gooseberry bushes. 

Let me hasten to say that I had never spoken to him, and should not even have known what he was like if he had not worn eyeglasses, so that the Man of Wrath's insinuation that I affect the sanity of my gardeners is entirely without justification.  The eyeglasses struck me as so odd on a gardener that I asked who he was, and was told that he had been studying for the Bar, but could not pass the examinations, and had taken up gardening in the hope of getting back his health and spirits. 

I thought this a very sensible plan, and was beginning to feel interested in him when one day the post brought me a registered packet containing a manuscript play he had written called "The Lawyer as Gardener," dedicated to me.  The Man of Wrath and I were both in it, the Man of Wrath, however, only in the list of characters, so that he should not feel hurt, I suppose, for he never appeared on the scenes at all.  As for me, I was represented as going about quoting Tolstoi in season and out of season to the gardeners--a thing I protest I never did.  The young man was sent home to his people, and I have been asking myself ever since what there is about this place that it should so persistently produce books and lunacy?

On the outskirts of the forest, where shafts of dusty sunlight slanted through the trees, children were picking wortleberries for market as I passed last night, with hands and faces and aprons smudged into one blue stain.  I had decided to go to a water-mill belonging to the Man of Wrath which lies far away in a clearing, so far away and so lonely and so quiet that the very spirit of peace seems to brood over it for ever; and all the way the wortleberry carpet was thick and unbroken.  Never were the pines more pungent than after the long heat, and their rosy stems flushed pinker as I passed.  Presently I got beyond the region of wortleberry-pickers, the children not caring to wander too far into the forest so late, and I jolted over the roots into the gathering shadows more and more pervaded by that feeling that so refreshes me, the feeling of being absolutely alone.

A very ancient man lives in the mill and takes care of it, for it has long been unused, a deaf old man with a clean, toothless face, and no wife to worry him.  He informed me once that all women are mistakes, especially that aggravated form called wives, and that he was thankful he had never married.  I felt a certain delicacy after that about intruding on his solitude with the burden of my sex and wifehood heavy upon me, but he always seems very glad to see me, and runs at once to his fowlhouse to look for fresh eggs for my tea; so perhaps he regards me as a pleasing exception to the rule. 

On this last occasion he brought a table out to the elm-tree by the mill stream, that I might get what air there was while I ate my supper; and I sat in great peace waiting for the kettle to boil and watching the sun dropping behind the sharp forest me, and all the little pools and currents into which the stream just there breaks as it flows over mud banks, ablaze with the red reflection of the sky. 

The pools are clothed with water-lilies and inhabited by eels, and I generally take a netful of writhing eels back with me to the Man of Wrath to pacify him after my prolonged absence.  In the lily time I get into the miller's punt and make them an excuse for paddling about among the mud islands, and even adventurously exploring the river as it winds into the forest, and the old man watches me anxiously from under the elm. 

He regards my feminine desire to pick water-lilies with indulgence, but is clearly uneasy at my affection for mud banks, and once, after I had stuck on one, and he had run up and down in great agitation for half an hour shouting instructions as to getting off again, he said when I was safely back on shore that people with petticoats (his way of expressing woman) were never intended for punts, and their only chance of safety lay in dry land and keeping quiet. 

I did not this time attempt the punt, for I was tired, and it was half full of water, probably poured into it by a miller weary of the ways of women; and I drank my tea quietly, going on at the same time with my interrupted afternoon reading of the Sorrows of Werther, in which I had reached a part that has a special fascination for me every time I read it--that part where Werther first meets Lotte, and where, after a thunderstorm; they both go to the window, and she is so touched by the beauties of nature that she lays her hand on his and murmurs "Klopstock,"--to the complete dismay of the reader, though not of Werther, for he, we find, was so carried away by the magic word that he flung himself on to her hand and kissed it with tears of rapture.

I looked up from the book at the quiet pools and the black line of trees, above which stars were beginning to twinkle, my ears soothed by the splashing of the mill stream and the hooting somewhere near of a solitary owl, and I wondered whether, if the Man of Wrath were by my side, it would be a relief to my pleasurable feelings to murmur "Klopstock," and whether if I did he would immediately shed tears of joy over my hand.  The name is an unfortunate one as far as music goes, and Goethe's putting it into his heroine's mouth just when she was most enraptured, seems to support the view I sometimes adopt in discoursing to the Man of Wrath that he had no sense of humour. 

But here I am talking about Goethe, our great genius and idol, in a way that no woman should.  What do German women know of such things?  Quite untrained and uneducated, how are we to judge rightly about anybody or anything?  All we can do is to jump at conclusions, and, when we have jumped, receive with meekness the information that we have jumped wrong.  Sitting there long after it was too dark to read, I thought of the old miller's words, and agreed with him that the best thing a woman can do in this world is to keep quiet. 

He came out once and asked whether he should bring a lamp, and seemed uneasy at my choosing to sit there in the dark.  I could see the stars in the black pools, and a line of faint light far away above the pines where the sun had set.  Every now and then the hot air from the ground struck up in my face, and afterwards would come a cooler breath from the water. 

Of what use is it to fight for things and make a noise?  Nature is so clear in her teaching that he who has lived with her for any time can be in little doubt as to the "better way."  Keep quiet and say one's prayers--certainly not merely the best, but the only things to do if one would be truly happy; but, ashamed of asking when I have received so much, the only form of prayer I would use would be a form of thanksgiving.

September 9th

I have been looking in the dictionary for the English word for Einquartierung, because that is what is happening to us just now, but I can find nothing satisfactory.  My dictionary merely says (1) the quartering, (2) soldiers quartered, and then relapses into irrelevancy; so that it is obvious English people do without the word for the delightful reason that they have not got the thing. 

We have it here very badly; an epidemic raging at the end of nearly every summer, when cottages and farms swarm with soldiers and horses, when all the female part of the population gets engaged to be married and will not work, when all the male part is jealous and wants to fight, and when my house is crowded with individuals so brilliant and decorative in their dazzling uniforms that I wish sometimes I might keep a bunch of the tallest and slenderest for ever in a big china vase in a corner of the drawing-room.

This year the manoeuvres are up our way, so that we are blest with more than our usual share of attention, and wherever you go you see soldiers, and the holy calm that has brooded over us all the summer has given place to a perpetual running to and fro of officers' servants, to meals being got ready at all hours, to the clanking of spurs and all those other mysterious things on an officer that do clank whenever he moves, and to the grievous wailings of my unfortunate menials, who are quite beside themselves, and know not whither to turn for succour. 

We have had one week of it already, and we have yet another before us.  There are five hundred men with their horses quartered at the farm, and thirty officers with their servants in our house, besides all those billeted on the surrounding villages who have to be invited to dinner and cannot be allowed to perish in peasant houses; so that my summer has for a time entirely ceased to be solitary, and whenever I flee distracted to the farthest recesses of my garden and begin to muse, according to my habit, on Man, on Nature, and on Human Life, lieutenants got up in the most exquisite flannels pursue me and want to play tennis with me, a game I have always particularly disliked.

There is no room of course for all those extra men and horses at the farm, and when a few days before their arrival (sometimes it is only one, and sometimes only a few hours) an official appears and informs us of the number to be billeted on us, the Man of Wrath has to have temporary sheds run up, some as stables, some as sleeping-places, and some as dining-rooms.  Nor is it easy to cook for five hundred people more than usual, and all the ordinary business of the farm comes to a stand-still while the hands prepare barrowfuls of bacon and potatoes, and stir up the coffee and milk and sugar together with a pole in a tub.

Part of the regimental band is here, the upper part.  The base instruments are in the next village; but that did not deter an enthusiastic young officer from marching his men past our windows on their arrival at six in the morning, with colours flying, and what he had of his band playing their tunes as unconcernedly as though all those big things that make such a noise were giving the fabric its accustomed and necessary base. 

We are paid six pfennings a day for lodging a common soldier, and six pfennings for his horse--rather more than a penny in English money for the pair of them; only unfortunately sheds and carpentry are not quite so cheap.  Eighty pfennings a day is added for the soldier's food, and for this he has to receive two pounds of bread, half a pound of meat, a quarter of a pound of bacon, and either a quarter of a pound of rice or barley or three pounds of potatoes.

Officers are paid for at the rate of two marks fifty a day without wine; we are not obliged to give them wine, and if we do they are regarded as guests, and behave accordingly.  The thirty we have now do not, as I could have wished, all go out together in the morning and stay out till the evening, but some go out as others come in, and breakfast is not finished till lunch begins, and lunch drags on till dinner, and all day long the dining-room is full of meals and officers, and we ceased a week ago to have the least feeling that the place, after all, belongs to us.

Now really it seems to me that I am a much-tried woman, and any peace I have enjoyed up to now is amply compensated for by my present torments. I believe even my stern friend the missionary would be satisfied if he could know how swiftly his prediction that sorrow and suffering would be sure to come, has been fulfilled. 

All day long I am giving out table linen, ordering meals, supporting the feeble knees of servants, making appropriate and amiable remarks to officers, presiding as gracefully as nature permits at meals, and trying to look as though I were happy; while out in the garden--oh, I know how it is looking out in the garden this golden weather, how the placid hours are slipping by in unchanged peace, how strong the scent of roses and ripe fruit is, how the sleepy bees drone round the flowers, how warmly the sun shines in that corner where the little Spanish chestnut is turning yellow--the first to turn, and never afterwards surpassed in autumn beauty; I know how still it is down there in my fir wood, where the insects hum undisturbed in the warm, quiet air; I know what the plain looks like from the seat under the oak, how beautiful, with its rolling green waves burning to gold under the afternoon sky; I know how the hawks circle over it, and how the larks sing above it, and I edge as near to the open window as I can, straining my ears to hear them, and forgetting the young men who are telling me of all the races their horses win as completely as though they did not exist.  I want to be out there on that golden grass, and look up into that endless blue, and feel the ecstasy of that song through all my being, and there is a tearing at my heart when I remember that I cannot.  Yet they are beautiful young men; all are touchingly amiable, and many of the older ones even charming--how is it, then, that I so passionately prefer larks?

We have every grade of greatness here, from that innocent being the ensign, a creature of apparent modesty and blushes, who is obliged to stand up and drain his glass each time a superior chooses to drink to him, and who sits on the hardest chairs and looks for the balls while we play tennis, to the general, invariably delightful, whose brains have carried him triumphantly through the annual perils of weeding out, who is as distinguished in looks and manners as he is in abilities, and has the crowning merit of being manifestly happy in the society of women.

Nothing lower than a colonel is to me an object of interest.  The lower you get the more officers there are, and the harder it is to see the promising ones in the crowd; but once past the rank of major the air gets very much cleared by the merciless way they have been weeded out, and the higher officers are the very flower of middle-aged German males. As for those below, a lieutenant is a bright and beautiful being who admires no one so much as himself; a captain is generally newly married, having reached the stage of increased pay which makes a wife possible, and, being often still in love with her, is ineffective for social purposes; and a major is a man with a yearly increasing family, for whose wants his pay is inadequate, a person continually haunted by the fear of approaching weeding, after which his career is ended, he is poorer than ever, and being no longer young and only used to a soldier's life, is almost always quite incapable of starting afresh. 

Even the children of light find it difficult to start afresh with any success after forty, and the retired officer is never a child of light; if he were, he would not have been weeded out.  You meet him everywhere, shorn of the glories of his uniform, easily recognisable by the bad fit of his civilian clothes, wandering about like a ship without a rudder; and as time goes on he settles down to the inevitable, and passes his days in a fourth-floor flat in the suburbs, eats, drinks, sleeps, reads the Kreuzzeitung and nothing else, plays at cards in the day-time, grows gouty, and worries his wife.  It would be difficult to count the number of them that have answered the Man of Wrath's advertisements for book-keepers and secretaries--always vainly, for even if they were fit for the work, no single person possesses enough tact to cope successfully with the peculiarities of such a situation.  I hear that some English people of a hopeful disposition indulge in ladies as servants; the cases are parallel, and the tact required to meet both superhuman.

Of all the officers here the only ones with whom I can find plenty to talk about are the generals.  On what subject under heaven could one talk to a lieutenant?  I cannot discuss the agility of ballet-dancers or the merits of jockeys with him, because these things are as dust and ashes to me; and when forced for a few moments by my duties as hostess to come within range of his conversation I feel chilly and grown old. 

In the early spring of this year, in those wonderful days of hope when nature is in a state of suppressed excitement, and when any day the yearly recurring miracle may happen of a few hours' warm rain changing the whole world, we got news that a lieutenant and two men with their horses were imminent, and would be quartered here for three nights while some occult military evolutions were going on a few miles off.  It was specially inopportune, because the Man of Wrath would not be here, but he comforted me as I bade him good-bye, my face no doubt very blank, by the assurance that the lieutenant would be away all day, and so worn out when he got back in the evening that he probably would not appear at all. 

But I never met a more wide-awake young man.  Not once during those three days did he respond to my pressing entreaties to go and lie down, and not all the desperate eloquence of a woman at her wit's end could persuade him that he was very tired and ought to try and get some sleep. I had intended to be out when he arrived, and to remain out till dinner time, but he came unexpectedly early, while the babies and I were still at lunch, the door opening to admit the most beautiful specimen of his class that I have ever seen, so beautiful indeed in his white uniform that the babies took him for an angel--visitant of the type that visited Abraham and Sarah, and began in whispers to argue about wings. 

He was not in the least tired after his long ride he told me, in reply to my anxious inquiries, and, rising to the occasion, at once plunged into conversation, evidently realising how peculiarly awful prolonged pauses under the circumstances would be.  I took him for a drive in the afternoon, after having vainly urged him to rest, and while he told me about his horses, and his regiment, and his brother officers, in what at last grew to be a decidedly intermittent prattle, I amused myself by wondering what he would say if I suddenly began to hold forth on the themes I love best, and insist that he should note the beauty of the trees as they stood that afternoon expectant, with all their little buds only waiting for the one warm shower to burst into the glory of young summer. 

Perhaps he would regard me as the German variety of a hyena in petticoats--the imagination recoils before the probable fearfulness of such an animal--or, if not quite so bad as that, at any rate a creature hysterically inclined; and he would begin to feel lonely, and think of his comrades, and his pleasant mess, and perhaps even of his mother, for he was very young and newly fledged.  Therefore I held my peace, and restricted my conversation to things military, of which I know probably less than any other woman in Germany, so that my remarks must have been to an unusual degree impressive. 

He talked down to me, and I talked down to him, and we reached home in a state of profoundest exhaustion--at least I know I did, but when I looked at him he had not visibly turned a hair.  I went upstairs trying to hope that he had felt it more than he showed, and that during the remainder of his stay he would adopt the suggestion so eagerly offered of spending his spare time in his room resting.

At dinner, he and I, quite by ourselves, were both manifestly convinced of the necessity, for the sake of the servants, of not letting the conversation drop.  I felt desperate, and would have said anything sooner than sit opposite him in silence, and with united efforts we got through that fairly well. 

After dinner I tried gossip, and encouraged him to tell me some, but he had such an unnatural number of relations that whoever I began to talk about happened to be his cousin, or his brother-in-law, or his aunt, as he hastily informed me, so that what I had intended to say had to be turned immediately into loud and unqualified praise; and praising people is frightfully hard work--you give yourself the greatest pains over it, and are aware all the time that it is not in the very least carrying conviction.  Does not everybody know that one's natural impulse is to tear the absent limb from limb? 

At half-past nine I got up, worn out in mind and body, and told him very firmly that it had been a custom in my family from time immemorial to be in bed by ten, and that I was accordingly going there.  He looked surprised and wider awake than ever, but nothing shook me, and I walked away, leaving him standing on the hearthrug after the manner of my countrymen, who never dream of opening a door for a woman.

The next day he went off at five in the morning, and was to be away, as he had told me, till the evening.  I felt as though I had been let out of prison as I breakfasted joyfully on the verandah, the sun streaming through the creeperless trellis on to the little meal, and the first cuckoo of the year calling to me from the fir wood.  Of the dinner and evening before me I would not think; indeed I had a half-formed plan in my head of going to the forest after lunch with the babies, taking wraps and provisions, and getting lost till well on towards bedtime; so that when the angel-visitant should return full of renewed strength and conversation, he would find the casket empty and be told the gem had gone out for a walk. 

After I had finished breakfast I ran down the steps into the garden, intent on making the most of every minute and hardly able to keep my feet from dancing.  Oh, the blessedness of a bright spring morning without a lieutenant!  And was there ever such a hopeful beginning to a day, and so full of promise for the subsequent right passing of its hours, as breakfast in the garden, alone with your teapot and your book!  Any cobwebs that have clung to your soul from the day before are brushed off with a neatness and expedition altogether surprising; never do tea and toast taste so nice as out there in the sun; never was a book so wise and full of pith as the one lying open before you; never was woman so clean outside and in, so refreshed, so morally and physically well-tubbed, as she who can start her day in this fashion. 

As I danced down the garden path I began to think cheerfully even of lieutenants.  It was not so bad; he would be away till dark, and probably on the morrow as well; I would start off in the afternoon, and by coming back very late would not see him at all that day--might not, if Providence were kind, see him again ever; and this last thought was so exhilarating that I began to sing.  But he came back just as we had finished lunch.

"The Herr Lieutenant is here," announced the servant, "and has gone to wash his hands.  The Herr Lieutenant has not yet lunched, and will be down in a moment."

"I want the carriage at once," I ordered--I could not and would not spend another afternoon tete-a-tete with that young man,--"and you are to tell the Herr Lieutenant that I am sorry I was obliged to go out, but I had promised the pastor to take the children there this afternoon.  See that he has everything he wants."

I gathered the babies together and fled.  I could hear the lieutenant throwing things about overhead, and felt there was not a moment to lose. The servant's face showed plainly that he did not believe about the pastor, and the babies looked up at me wonderingly.  What is a woman to do when driven into a corner?  The father of lies inhabits corners--no doubt the proper place for such a naughty person.

We ran upstairs to get ready.  There was only one short flight on which we could meet the lieutenant, and once past that we were safe; but we met him on that one short flight.  He was coming down in a hurry, giving his moustache a final hasty twist, and looking fresher, brighter, lovelier, than ever.

"Oh, good morning.  You have got back much sooner than you expected, have you not?"  I said lamely.

"Yes, I managed to get through my part quickly," he said with a briskness I did not like.

"But you started so early--you must be very tired?"

"Oh, not in the least, thank you."

Then I repeated the story about the expectant parson, adding to my guilt by laying stress on the inevitability of the expedition owing to its having been planned weeks before.  April and May stood on the landing above, listening with surprised faces, and June, her mind evidently dwelling on feathers, intently examined his shoulders from the step immediately behind. 

And we did get away, leaving him to think what he liked, and to smoke, or sleep, or wander as he chose, and I could not but believe he must feel relieved to be rid of me; but the afternoon clouded over, and a sharp wind sprang up, and we were very cold in the forest, and the babies began to sneeze and ask where the parson was, and at last, after driving many miles, I said it was too late to go to the parson's and we would turn back.  It struck me as hard that we should be forced to wander in cold forests and leave our comfortable home because of a lieutenant, and I went back with my heart hardened against him.

That second evening was worse a great deal than the first.  We had said all we ever meant to say to each other, and had lauded all our relations with such hearty goodwill that there was nothing whatever to add.  I sat listening to the slow ticking of the clock and asking questions about things I did not in the least want to know, such as the daily work and rations and pay of the soldiers in his regiment, and presently--we having dined at the early hour usual in the country--the clock struck eight. 

Could I go to bed at eight?  No, I had not the courage, and no excuse ready.  More slow ticking, and more questions and answers about rations and pipeclay.  What a clock!  For utter laziness and dull deliberation there surely never was its equal--it took longer to get to the half-hour than any clock I ever met, but it did get there at last and struck it.  Could I go?  Could I?  No, still no excuse ready.  We drifted from pipeclay to a discussion on bicycling for women--a dreary subject.  Was it becoming?  Was it good for them?  Was it ladylike?  Ought they to wear skirts or--?  In Paris they all wore--.  Our bringing-up here is so excellent that if we tried we could not induce ourselves to speak of any forked garments to a young man, so we make ourselves understood, when we desire to insinuate such things, by an expressive pause and a modest downward flicker of the eyelids. 

The clock struck nine.  Nothing should keep me longer.  I sprang to my feet and said I was exhausted beyond measure by the sharp air driving, and that whenever I had spent an afternoon out, it was my habit to go to bed half an hour earlier than other evenings.  Again he looked surprised, but rather less so than the night before, and he was, I think, beginning to get used to me.  I retired, firmly determined not to face another such day and to be very ill in the morning and quite unable to rise, he having casually remarked that the next one was an off day; and I would remain in bed, that last refuge of the wretched, as long as he remained here.

I sat by the window in my room till late, looking out at the moonlight in the quiet garden, with a feeling as though I were stuffed with sawdust--a very awful feeling--and thinking ruefully of the day that had begun so brightly and ended so dismally.  What a miserable thing not to be able to be frank and say simply, "My good young man, you and I never saw each other before, probably won't see each other again, and have no interests in common.  I mean you to be comfortable in my house, but I want to be comfortable too.  Let us, therefore, keep out of each other's way while you are obliged to be here.  Do as you like, go where you like, and order what you like, but don't expect me to waste my time sitting by your side and making small-talk.  I too have to get to heaven, and have no time to lose.  You won't see me again.  Good-bye."

I believe many a harassed Hausfrau would give much to be able to make some such speech when these young men appear, and surely the young men themselves would be grateful; but simplicity is apparently quite beyond people's strength.  It is, of all the virtues, the one I prize the most; it is undoubtedly the most lovable of any, and unspeakably precious for its power of removing those mountains that confine our lives and prevent our seeing the sky.  Certain it is that until we have it, the simple spirit of the little child, we shall in no wise discover our kingdom of heaven.

These were my reflections, and many others besides, as I sat weary at the window that cold spring night, long after the lieutenant who had occasioned them was slumbering peacefully on the other side of the house.  Thoughts of the next day, and enforced bed, and the bowls of gruel to be disposed of if the servants were to believe in my illness, made my head ache.  Eating gruel pour la galerie is a pitiable state to be reduced to--surely no lower depths of humiliation are conceivable. 

And then, just as I was drearily remembering how little I loved gruel, there was a sudden sound of wheels rolling swiftly round the corner of the house, a great rattling and trampling in the still night over the stones, and tearing open the window and leaning out, there, sitting in a station fly, and apparelled to my glad vision in celestial light, I beheld the Man of Wrath, come home unexpectedly to save me.

"Oh, dear Man of Wrath," I cried, hanging out into the moonlight with outstretched arms, "how much nicer thou art than lieutenants!  I never missed thee more--I never longed for thee more--I never loved thee more --come up here quickly that I may kiss thee!--"

October 1st.

Last night after dinner, when we were in the library, I said, "Now listen to me, Man of Wrath."

"Well?"  he inquired, looking up at me from the depths of his chair as I stood before him.

"Do you know that as a prophet you are a failure?  Five months ago to-day you sat among the wallflowers and scoffed at the idea of my being able to enjoy myself alone a whole summer through.  Is the summer over?"

"It is," he assented, as he heard the rain beating against the windows.

"And have I invited any one here?"

"No, but there were all those officers."

"They have nothing whatever to do with it."

"They helped you through one fortnight."

"They didn't.  It was a fortnight of horror."

"Well.  Go on."

"You said I would be punished by being dull.  Have I been dull?"

"My dear, as though if you had been you would ever confess it."

"That's true.  But as a matter of fact let me tell you that I never spent a happier summer."

He merely looked at me out of the corners of his eyes.

"If I remember rightly," he said, after a pause, "your chief reason for wishing to be solitary was that your soul might have time to grow.  May I ask if it did?"

"Not a bit."

He laughed, and, getting up, came and stood by my side before the fire.  "At least you are honest," he said, drawing my hand through his arm.

"It is an estimable virtue."

"And strangely rare in woman."

"Now leave woman alone.  I have discovered you know nothing really of her at all.  But I know all about her."

"You do?  My dear, one woman can never judge the others."

"An exploded tradition, dear Sage."

"Her opinions are necessarily biased."

"Venerable nonsense, dear Sage."

"Because women are each other's natural enemies."

"Obsolete jargon, dear Sage."

"Well, what do you make of her?"

"Why, that she's a DEAR, and that you ought to be very happy and thankful to have got one of her always with you."

"But am I not?"  he asked, putting his arm round me and looking affectionate; and when people begin to look affectionate I, for one, cease to take any further interest in them.

And so the Man of Wrath and I fade away into dimness and muteness, my head resting on his shoulder, and his arm encircling my waist; and what could possibly be more proper, more praiseworthy, or more picturesque?


The End