« 上一頁繼續 »
though his own should die for want of fuel; cares for his horse, arranges his furniture; if any delicacy in the way of food can be procured, he brings it to the chief. Convinced of the desire of their master that the soldiers shall be well fed, the Zouaves often insist that a part of their pay be expended for procuring the provisions of the tribe.* The colonel is the man most venerated by these soldiers, who look upon him as the father of the family. They are proud of the colonel's
In accordance with Arab customs, the Zouaves, who (to use the ordinary expression) "live in common," compose a circle to which they give the name of tribe. In the tribe, each
success, and happy to have contributed to his honor or advancement. When an order comes directly from him, be sure it will be religiously obeyed. When papa says anything,' they repeat, one to another, it must be done. Papa knows it is already done; he wants us to be the best children possible.' In critical moments, the colonel can use the severest Draconian code, without having anything to fear from the disapprobation of his men."
one has his allotted task: one attends to making the fires and procuring wood; another draws water and does the cooking; another makes the coffee and arranges the camp, etc.
I MOURN no more my vanished years:
An April rain of smiles and tears,
The west winds blow, and, singing low,
The windows of my soul I throw
No longer forward nor behind
I plough no more a desert land,
The manna dropping from God's hand
I break my pilgrim staff, I lay
The angel sought so far away
The airs of Spring may never play
Nor freshness of the flowers of May
Yet shall the blue-eyed gentian look
The woods shall wear their robes of praise,
Not less shall manly deed and word
The graven flowers that wreathe the sword
But smiting hands shall learn to heal,
All as God wills, who wisely heeds
Enough that blessings undeserved
Have marked my erring track,
That, wheresoe'er my feet have swerved, His chastening turned me back,
That more and more a Providence
Making the springs of time and sense
That death seems but a covered way
That care and trial seem at last,
That all the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angles of its strife
Slow rounding into calm.
And so the shadows fall apart,
And so the west winds play;
THE PROFESSOR AT THE BREAKFAST-TABLE.
WHAT HE SAID, WHAT HE HEARD, AND WHAT HE SAW.
THERE has been a sort of stillness in the atmosphere of our boarding-house since my last record, as if something or other were going on. There is no particular change that I can think of in the aspect of things; yet I have a feeling as if some game of life were quietly playing and strange forces were at work, underneath this smooth surface of every-day boarding-house life, which would show themselves some fine morning or other in events, if not in catastrophes. I have been watchful, as I said I should be, but have little to tell as yet. You may laugh at me, and very likely think me foolishly fanciful to trouble myself about what is going on in a middling-class household like ours. Do as you like. But here is that terrible fact to begin with, -a beautiful young girl, with the blood and the nerve-fibre that belong to Nature's women, turned loose among live men.
Very terrible. Nothing more so. Do you forget the angels who lost heaven for the daughters of men? Do you forget Helen, and the fair women who made mischief and set nations by the ears before Helen was born? If jealousies that gnaw men's hearts out of their bodies,—if pangs that waste men to shadows and drive them into raving madness or moping melancholy,-if assassination and suicide are dreadful possibilities, then there is always something frightful about a lovely young woman.-I love to look at this "Rainbow," as her father used sometimes to call her, of ours. Handsome crea
ture that she is in forms and colors, - the very picture, as it seems to me, of that "golden blonde" my friend whose book you read last year fell in love with when he was a boy, (as you remember, no doubt,)-handsome as she is, fit for a sea-king's bride, it is not her beauty alone that holds my eyes upon her. Let me tell you one of my fancies, and then you will understand the strange sort of fascination she has for me.
It is in the hearts of many men and women let me add children- that there is a Great Secret waiting for them, a secret of which they get hints now and then, perhaps oftener in early than in later years. These hints come sometimes in dreams, sometimes in sudden startling flashes, second wakings, as it were,a waking out of the waking state, which last is very apt to be a half-sleep. I have many times stopped short and held my breath, and felt the blood leaving my cheeks, in one of these sudden clairvoyant flashes. Of course I cannot tell what kind of a secret this is; but I think of it as a disclosure of certain relations of our personal being to time and space, to other intelligences, to the procession of events, and to their First Great Cause. This secret seems to be broken up, as it were, into fragments, so that we find here a word and there a syllable, and then again only a letter of it; but it never is written out for most of us as a complete sentence, in this life. I do not think it could be; for I am disposed to consider our beliefs about such a possible disclos
things which they could not tell in our human words.
Now among the visible objects which hint to us fragments of this infinite secret for which our souls are waiting, the faces of women are those that carry the most legible hieroglyphics of the great mystery. There are women's faces, some real, some ideal, which contain something in them that becomes a positive element in our creed, so direct and palpable a revelation is it of the infinite purity and love. I remember two faces of women with wings, such as they call angels, of Fra Angelico, --and I just now came across a print of Raphael's Santa Apollina, with something of the same quality, which I was sure had their prototypes in the world above ours. No wonder the Catholics pay their vows to the Queen of Heaven! The unpoetical side of Protestantism is, that it has no women to be worshipped.
But mind you, it is not every beautiful face that hints the Great Secret to us, nor is it only in beautiful faces that we find traces of it. Sometimes it looks out from a sweet sad eye, the only beauty of a plain countenance; sometimes there is so much meaning in the lips of a woman, not otherwise fascinating, that we know they have a message for us, and wait almost with awe to hear their accents. But this young girl has at once the beauty of feature and the unspoken mystery of expression. Can she tell me anything? Is her life a complement of mine, with the missing element in it which I have been groping after through so many friendships that I have tired of, and through Hush! Is the door fast? Talking loud is a bad trick in these curious boarding-houses.
You must have sometimes noted this fact that I am going to remind you of and to use for a special illustration. Rid
ing along over a rocky road, suddenly the slow monotonous grinding of the crushing gravel changes to a deep heavy rumble. There is a great hollow under your feet, - - a huge unsunned cavern. Deep, deep beneath you, in the core of the living rock, it arches its awful vault, and far away it stretches its winding galleries, their roofs dripping into streams where fishes have been swimming and spawning in the dark until their scales are white as milk and their eyes have withered out, obsolete and useless. So it is in life. meeting the same
We jog quietly along, faces, grinding over the same thoughts, the gravel of the soul's highway, - now and then jarred against an obstacle we cannot crush, but must ride over or round as we best may, sometimes bringing short up against a disappointment, but still working along with the creaking and rattling and grating and jerking that belong to the journey of life, even in the smoothest-rolling vehicle. Suddenly we hear the deep underground reverberation that reveals the unsuspected depth of some abyss of thought or passion beneath us.
I wish the girl would go. I don't like to look at her so much, and yet I cannot help it. Always that same expression of something that I ought to know, -something that she was made to tell and I to hear,-lying there ready to fall off from her lips, ready to leap out of her eyes and make a saint of me, or a devil or a lunatic, or perhaps a prophet to tell the truth and be hated of men, or a poet whose words shall flash upon the dry stubble-field of worn-out thoughts and burn over an age of lies in an hour of passion.
It suddenly occurs to me that I may have put you on the wrong track. The Great Secret that I refer to has nothing to do with the Three Words. Set your mind at ease about that, — there are reasons I could give you which settle all that matter. I don't wonder, however, that you confounded the Great Secret with the Three Words.
I LOVE YOU is all the secret that many,
nay, most women have to tell. When that is said, they are like China-crackers on the morning of the fifth of July. And just as that little patriotic implement is made with a slender train which leads to the magazine in its interior, so a sharp eye can almost always see the train leading from a young girl's eye or lip to the "I love you" in her heart. But the Three Words are not the Great Secret I mean. No, wom
en's faces are only one of the tablets on which that is written in its partial, fragmentary symbols. It. lies deeper than Love, though very probably Love is a part of it. Some, I think,- Wordsworth might be one of them,-spell out a portion of it from certain beautiful natural objects, landscapes, flowers, and others. I can mention several poems of his that have shadowy hints which seem to me to come near the region where I think it lies. I have known two persons who pursued it with the passion of the old alchemists,—all wrong evidently, but infatuated, and never giving up the daily search for it until they got tremulous and feeble, and their dreams changed to visions of things that ran and crawled about their floor and ceilings, and so they died. The vulgar called them drunkards.
I told you that I would let you know the mystery of the effect this young girl's face produces on me. It is akin to those influences a friend of mine has described, you may remember, as coming from certain voices. I cannot translate it into words,-only into feelings; and these I have attempted to shadow by showing that her face hinted that revelation of something we are close to knowing, which all imaginative persons are looking for either in this world or on the very threshold of the next.
You shake your head at the vagueness and fanciful incomprehensibleness of my description of the expression in a young girl's face. You forget what a miserable surface-matter this language is in which we try to reproduce our interior state of being. Articulation is a shallow trick. From the light Poh! which we toss off from our lips as we fling a nameless scribbler's
impertinences into our waste-baskets, to the gravest utterance which comes from our throats in our moments of deepest need, is only a space of some three or four inches. Words, which are a set of clickings, hissings, lispings, and so on, mean very little, compared to tones and expression of the features. I give it up; I thought I could shadow forth in some feeble way, by their aid, the effect this young girl's face produces on my imagination; but it is of no use. No doubt your head aches, trying to make something of my description. If there is here and there one that can make anything intelligible out of my talk about the Great Secret, and who has spelt out a syllable or two of it on some woman's face, dead or living, that is all I can expect. One should see the person with whom he converses about such matters. There are dreamy-eyed people to whom I should say all these things with a certainty of being understood; –
That moment that his face I see,
I am afraid some of them have not got a spare quarter for this August number, so that they will never see it.
- Let us start again, just as if we had not made this ambitious attempt, which may go for nothing, and you can have your money refunded, if you will make the change.
This young girl, about whom I have talked so unintelligibly, is the unconscious centre of attraction to the whole solar system of our breakfast-table. The little gentleman leans towards her, and she again seems to be swayed as by some invisible gentle force towards him. That slight inclination of two persons with a strong affinity towards each other, throwing them a little out of plumb when they sit side by side, is a physical fact I have often noticed. Then there is a tendency in all the men's eyes to converge on her; and I do firmly believe, that, if all their chairs were examined, they would be found a little obliquely placed, so as to