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"Qu'est ce que ça fait, monsieur?" replied the unseen, giving the door a rude secousse,—" retournez dans votre lit,-là vous pourriez causer à votre aise."

"Impossible, madame" (she must be a madame, thought I), and as I spoke I barred the door firmly by leaning against it with all my weight, and planting one foot against a chest of drawers that stood near,"attendez un instant,-un instant seulement, et je serai auprès de vous!" "Dépêchez-vous donc, monsieur," was the answer. "J'ai bien des choses à vous dire."

There was neither lock nor bolt to the door, so that, in the uncomfortable position I have described, I was obliged to array myself, scrambling on such things as chance, not choice, threw in my way, and while I was engaged in doing so, I could hear the French lady humming a tune and Mrs. Lynx growling any thing but an agreeable accompaniment, amidst which my practised ear easily recognised the epithets "forring minx!" and "himperdent uzzy!"

"There will be a row between 'em," said I, completing my toilet as hastily as I could, and with an additional motive for haste, the fair stranger having begun again to drum against the door, so I opened it and confronted the intruder!

There is nothing more common than for people, when they describe a state of surprise, to say, "I thought I should have sunk into the earth!" The expression, therefore, is not new, but it was the most apposite that could have been devised to picture my astonishment. From the first moment of my reading the letter of Professor Panurge, the phrase, "une jeune personne," had served as a text for my fancy to amplify, and that faculty had not been idle; the reader may indeed gather, from some words already dropped, a slight notion of what I expected. Let him imagine, then, the horror with which I gazed on an absolute Gorgon! There she stood-a sallow, dark-browed, hard-featured, elderly, illdressed Gorgon! She had a desperate cast in one eye, and the other, hard and black as a bead, sparkled like a live coal; her hair was combed à la Chinoise, entirely off her forehead, but to make up for its absence there, a strong garniture of stiff sable adorned her upper lip, beneath which gleamed any thing but orient pearls, however much the stumpy teeth (to which in imagination I had compared them) were "at random strung." In one respect she resembled the flowers of the field, but it was only after they had been some time gathered. The whole of her costume, from her yellow bonnet to her ponceau boots, including a crimson shawl and a black silk gown, was utterly "faded and gone ;" and but for the brisk angularity of her form and the harsh vivacity of her countenance, she might have passed for a lay figure in a rag-shop, that had seen a good deal of wear and tear. To what purpose had I been reading up my Paul de Kock? Where was the probability of a "liaison dangereuse?" "Transi" I certainly was, but not in the way I had auticipated. It was as well, perhaps, that Tryphæna was not by to witness my disappointment.

But if the lady was deficient in beauty, she was by no means wanting in assurance. Seeing that I did not speak-I was too much overcome to do so she broke forth :

"Eh bien! monsieur," cried she, with a creaking laugh, swinging a black reticule round and round in one hand (the other held a dirty white parasol); "eh bien, monsieur,-vous m'avez attendu, n'est-ce-pas?

Vous aurez reçu la lettre de Panurge, le petit gamin qu'il est!

Il vous

a parlé de moi,-Eugènie Loriot!-je me rends en Ecosse,-attendu que je me repose ici en peu à Londres après ce diable de voyage. Figurezvous comme j'ai souffert avec ce détestable mal de mer,-moi qui n'avais jamais quitté mon pays! Ah, c'était affreux, c'était desolant. Il y a dix jours je n'ai rien mangé,-rien bu! Jugez donc si je devois avoir faim! Il n'y a pas dix minutes que je suis descendue avec mes effets à l'hôtel à côte;-et cependant me voici pour vous faire visite,-attaquer à votre dejeuner n'est-ce-pas!"

I was literally, as the saying is, "struck all of a heap." Mademoiselle Loriot's free and easy manner, no less than her forbidding aspect, had quite dumb-founded me, and what added to my embarrassment was the malicious scowl with which Mrs. Lynx, who still lingered in the room and was apparently engaged in dusting some books, still eyed me.

"Que veut dire cette femme!" demanded the charming Eugènie; "c'est votre bonne n'est-ce-pas?"

I feebly stammered out an affirmative.

"Eh bien, qu'elle me cherche à dejeuner," exclaimed my visitor ;"ne vous ai-je par dit que j'avais une faim de tous les diables ?"

I saw at once that there was no temporising with this imperious woman. "Mrs. Lynx," said I, addressing that individual in as firm a tone as I could muster (he who speaks without his braces and is compelled to use his left-hand as a substitute, cannot be expected to be very firm), "have the goodness to get some breakfast. Will madame"-for the life of me I couldn't say "mademoiselle" when I looked at her," will madame take tea or coffee? Does she prefer eggs or cutlets?"

"Je prendrai du thé," replied the lady, "et je mangerai volontiers quelques côtelettes,-des œufs et des petits pains au lait ajoutez tout ce que vous voudrez,-je ne connais pas les habitudes de ce pays-ci. Attendez, vous n'avez pas du pôtage par exemple ?"

"Good God!" I exclaimed inwardly, "was there ever such a harpy !" "No, Madame," I returned, "we don't eat soup before breakfast in England."

Tant pis pour vous," said Mademoiselle Loriot, "quel drôle de pays! Ah, voilà," she continued, after rummaging in her bag for a moment, "voilà un petit poulet pour vous amuser, ça vient de Panurge. Il vous a écrit de belles choses à mon égard ; je le sais, parceque j'ai déja lu son billet ainsi vous n'avez qu' à faire."

So saying, she turned briskly round, took off her bonnet and shawl, threw them on the sofa, and went up to the looking-glass over the fireplace, where she took out a comb and began to arrange her Chineselooking head, smiling all the time with a dreadful obliquity of vision, but seemingly as perfectly content with herself as if the mirror had reflected the image of a Venus.

I took advange of her occupation to retreat into my bed-room where, not daring to commence the operation of shaving, I hastily made myself as decent as I possibly could. When I emerged from my den the fire was blazing, the kettle singing on the hob, the breakfast things on the table, and Mademoiselle Eugènie making tea, with as much composure as if,heaven forgive me for the thought-she had been for twenty years the legitimate Mrs. D.

I must pause a moment before I resume the thread of my narratiye.




Lass ruhn die Todten.-Lenore.

THERE are one hundred and fifty stalls in the great cow-house at Gainago, and not one is untenanted. Stable-boys, milk-maids, and dairymen are in constant attendance; men and beasts equally engaged in the manufacture of Parmesan cheese.

The stable itself is a master-piece of architecture. It has a central nave and two aisles, like any Gothic minster. Its lofty roof rests on fiveand-seventy massive pillars, on either side. Between every two pillars one cow has her home. All along the stalls, from behind, there are minor alleys for the passage of the cattle. The middle avenue, never trodden by quadrupeds, is paved with bricks, and so carefully swept, that the Lombard boor declares himself ready, at any time, to eat his Indian porridge off the floor. During the winter months that central nave, or by whatever name the main walk may be designated, is converted into a magnificent saloon, and answers the manifold purposes of a common workshop, a lounge, and assembly-room for the villagers.

The establishment at Gainago belongs to an order of things which is daily becoming obsolete in Italy, since the abolition of the law of primogeniture has given rise to an indefinite division of property. The lands of this extensive estate are in possession of a wealthy Benedictine monastery; but they were given out to a farmer on a long lease of five-andtwenty years, renewable at pleasure, and transferable to his family and heirs. Farmer Campanini had, in fact, died years since, and the management of his vast enterprise devolved on his widow, a tall, commanding person, to whose qualification for empire the "good memory" of her husband might bear ample witness.

For the rest, the agricultural system at Gainago was sufficiently simple and uniform. Scarcely one-tenth of the whole estate was tilled, and this merely as a home field, intended to supply the labourer with bread and polenta. The rest was one wide-stretching meadow. Those prodigious Lombard flats, aided by a well-contrived system of irrigation, yield three and even four crops of hay yearly. Manuring in winter, mowing in summer, constitute the whole extent of field labour. The great business of the farm is in-doors. The cow-house and dairy absorb all attention, besides the scanty produce of the mulberry trees, long rows of which, miserably gnarled and stunted, and utterly stripped in early spring, hem the borders of the prairies, in dull, monotonous nakedness.

Altogether, this district is far, indeed, from answering the glowing picture the mere name of Italy never fails to conjure up in the reader's imagination. The manners of the peasantry, however, are not far removed from patriarchal simplicity, and, on a fine October morning, when the cattle wind leisurely along the foot-path, every blade of grass glittering with dew, every leaf of the poplar branches blushing with its autumn tints, and the tinkling bell of " The Lady of the Herd,"* keeping time with the rustic strains of cowherds and milk-maids, even the landscape around is not without its peculiar charms. Its very tameness and evenness give it

• La donna della Torma."-Dante.



an air of ineffable repose. "For man's neglect we love it more." There is no villa in sight with its tawdry verandah, its trumpery arbour or summer-house-no tampering with Nature-no painting and patching, none of the pitiable toilette tricks to set off her homely attire.

But it is not in their summer avocations that we purposed to study the manners of the humble inhabitants of Gainago. We will see them at home-their common home, the cow-house. Their private huts, kitchens, and dormitories are mean and squalid enough. They care not for that, nine months out of the twelve the open air is their element. During the short, but sharp winter season they gather together in the stables. These are a kind of club-house, the conveniences and luxuries of which reconcile them to the meanness and wretchedness of their lodgings.

The winter is cold in North Italy, whatever poets may say to the contrary, and fuel is scarce. The genial warmth of his cattle make up to the Lombard boor for the want of fire-side comfort. The household merges into the community; domestic affection expands into social cordiality.

Here they are: all of them. The whole of Gainago, above two hundred souls, one happy family; from the Casaro, or head-dairyman, well to do in the world, who attends mass of a Sunday in all the consequence of a long-tailed coat and double watch-guard and seals, down to the cowboy, whose home is a hole in the hay-loft.

The parish-priest, the surgeon, and other dignitaries of the place, nay, the dowager queen of the farm herself, with her strapping boy, fresh from college, will occasionally grace the Veglia, or village-wake, with their presence. The country people, however, thankful as they profess themselves to be for the honour intended, are only at ease by themselves. It is only when released from the crushing condescension of the "great folk,” that the spindles twirl lustily and the peals of laughter ring merrily.

The peasant of Lombardy, whatever may be said of his southern brethren, is never idle himself, never countenances idleness in his family circle. Confined to his stables by three feet of snow, he is busy at his tools or at basket-work; and as to his females, the sun in all its round path sees no more inveterate spinners. A stray fiddler or piper may for once or twice in a year make its way into the cow-house and create a passing sensation by a few notes out of his crazy instrument. One of the light-heeled couples may be enticed into a step or two of the stately Monferrina. The spectators, however, need not "look on with their hands" (their own phrase), and even the performers are soon reminded that life is "all work and no play."

Eyes do not spin, however, nor do tongues knit, nor do the mysteries of basket-weaving call forth the faculties of the mind and heart to any considerable extent. Talking goes on briskly, therefore, all the while, and talkers are in great demand; grave talk and small talk, with a considerable amount of bantering and jeering, ogling and flirting.

A spindle will also fall to the ground now and then (not but that is voted a very naughty trick by the matrons), a spindle will fall from a careless spinster just as naturally, as accidentally, as a cambric handkerchief, or ivory fan is dropped at Almack's. There will be a scuffle among the rustic swains, striving to pick it up, and a pretty compliment paid in the act of handing it to the artful coquette. A spindle thrice dropped to the same individual is a mark of preference very remarkable indeed. For the rest, the absence of mystery renders love and courtship tolerably

* A graceful dance, originally from the vine-clad hills of Monferrato.

insipid among these primitive people. "Love, smoke and- (I beg the reader's pardon) "and itch admit of no concealment" is the proverb amongst them. Declared lovers are incontinently left to themselves. The dullest of companions to any body else.

Young people licensed to "speak" (that is the Italian for love-making) to each other, play any thing but a conspicuous part at a village wake. Professional talkers, story-tellers, and crackers of good round jokes, alone command a respectful attention: travelled people above all, pedlars, itinerant musicians, jobbing mechanics.

Gainago is only eight miles from Parma, and yet not one out of a hundred among its simple indwellers have stretched their observations so

The vast majority hardly ever ventured beyond the limits of the parish. It is not so much poverty, perhaps, not so much hard assiduous work, as apathetic, unenterprising stolidity that roots them, like trees, to the spot where they grow. It is the Bifolco, or drover's business, to take the cattle to market. The casaro has to go to town twice a month to settle scores with his mistress. The fagging journeyman has no holiday, and if ever unemployed, he is too happy to stretch himself on the grass in the shade, and give the world and its toils and cares to oblivion.

The mountaineer in the Apennines is a wide-awake and stirring being. He undertakes his pilgrimages to the shrine of Fontanellato where he manages to combine trade with devotion, or he hires himself out in the maremma or in Corsica, and acquires information even as he turns an honest penny, by his yearly rounds. But the bumpkin of the plain is dead to curiosity; and the talk at the veglia ministers quite enough to such thirst for knowledge and love of adventure as may harbour in his duil brain. There is a guardia campestre, or rural constable, here at Gainago, a weather-beaten, awfully scarred veteran, who has, as he expressed it, "been at the fire" under Napoleon in Germany and Russia, though for what reason, or in whose pay, he never was at the trouble to ascertain. He is an oracle, however, with his warlike exploits; his prodigious recitals are stored up in an awful jumble in the noddles of the gaping rustics, and their southern imagination works at those incongruous materials, till it rears a fabric that would put the most gorgeous castles of chivalrous minstrelsy to the blush.

It was this worthy who acted now as an orator. It was on a brisk, frosty night, in the Christmas season, and the peasants had all drawn up in one speechless group around him. All the hemp in the distaffs was used up; the stock of osier waxed low; the four wicks in the brass lamps burnt dim. Midnight was almost striking, and no one gave the signal to break up. The guardia was at the climax of his story.

"It was as light as noon, I tell you," quoth the narrator, with his fist clenched, and eyes glistening; "the moon shone in its full, and I was never so wide awake in my days. It stood by the side of Micco's grave, and looked the very image of my poor comrade as he used to lay by my side at the bivouac fire!"

Old Micco, the fowler, as his towns-folk by courtesy called him, an arrant poacher, an irreclaimable character, ever since he had come back from the wars, had met with an untimely end in a nocturnal affray with the gamekeepers in the ducal park or "woods" at Colorno. Out of charity, his native parish of Gainago had dug him a grave and raised a red cross to his memory; an act of kindness which the spectre of the

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