« PoprzedniaDalej »
and the water in which a young about, or it will be all over with puppy has been washed, if used him; and not for the world would for the infant's bath, will cure it they send for a doctor, who can of all skin diseases.
only be regarded as an omen of Whoever steps over a child as approaching death. it lies on the ground will cause it Some old woman versed in magic to die within a month. Other formulas, and learned in the decocprognostics of death are to rock an tion of herbs and potions, is hasempty cradle, to make the child tily summoned to the bedside ; and dance in its bath, or to measure the unfortunate man would probit with a yard-measure before it ably be left to perish without incan walk.
telligent advice, unless the pastor,
hearing of his illness, takes it upon Death, to the Saxon peasants, himself to send for the nearest appears in the light of a treach- physician. erous enemy, wh must be met By the time the doctor has arwith open resistance, and may be rived, the illness has made rapid conquered by courageous opposi- strides, and most likely the assisttion or conciliated with a bribe. ance comes too late. The first “ He has put off death again with care of the doctor on entering the a slice of bread,” is said of a man room will be to remove the warm who has unexpectedly survived fur cap and the heavy blankets, some great danger.
which are wellnigh stilling the When the first signs of an ap- patient, and order him to be unproaching illness declare them- dressed and comfortably laid in selves in a man, all his friends are his bed. He prescribes cooling strenuous in advising him to hold compresses, and a medicine to be out against it, not to let himself taken at regular intervals, but go, but to grapple with this foe shakes his head and gives little which has seized him unawares. hope of recovery. Even though all the symptoms of Already this death is regarded typhus fever be already upon him, as a settled thing in the village, for though his head be burning like many of the gossips now remember fire, and his limbs heavy as lead, to have heard the owl shriek in the he is yet exhorted to bear up passing nights, or there has been an against it, and on no account to unusual howling of dogs just about let himself lie down, for that midnight. Others call to mind would be a concession to the how over-merry the old man had enemy.
been four weeks ago, when his In this way many a man goes youngest grandchild was chrisabout with death upon his face, tened, and that is ever a sign of determined not to give in, till he approaching death. “And only a drops at last senseless in the field week ago,' says another village or yard where he has been working authority, “when we buried old till the last moment.
mother Barbara, there Even then his family are not amazing power of dust round the disposed to let him rest. With grave, and the Herr Vater sneezed well-meaning but mistaken kind- twice during his sermon; and that, ness, they endeavour to rouse him as every one knows, infallibly by shouting in his ear. He must means another funeral before long. be made to wake up and walk Mark my words, ere eight days
have passed he will be lying under the next person who falls ill. It the nettles.”
is a pity to waste it on me, for I The village carpenter, who has feel that my time has come, and long been out of work, now hangs nothing can do me any more good. about the street in hopes of a job. Send for the preacher, that I may “How is the old man ?” he anx- make my peace with God.” iously inquires of a neighbour. The last dispositions as to house
“ The pastor has just gone in to and property have been made in knock off the old sinner's irons,” is the presence of the pastor the irreverent answer.
preacher. The house and yard are " Then I may hope to be called to belong to the youngest son, as in soon for making his coat (coffin). is the general custom among the High time I was able to turn an Saxons. The elder son and the honest penny again. I have a daughter are to be otherwise proheap of damaged boards which vided for. The small back-room were refused by the railway en- belongs to the widow, as jointure gineers still lying on my hands." for the rest of her life ; likewise
Sometimes, however, it is the a certain proportion of grain and thrifty peasant himself who, know- fruit is assured to her. The exact ing the ways of village carpenters, spot of the grave is indicated, and and foreseeing this inevitable con- two ducats are to be given to the tingency, has taken care to provide Herr Vater if he will undertake himself with a well-made solid to preach a handsome funeral coffin years before there was any oration. probability of its coming into use. When it becomes evident that He has himself chosen out the the last death-struggle is approachboards, tested their sourdness, and ing, the
the mattress is withdrawn driven a hard bargain for his pur- from under the dying man, for, chase, laying himself down in the as every one knows, he will excoffin to assure himself of the pire gently if lying on length being sufficient. For many straw. years this useless piece of furni- Scarcely has the breath left his ture has been standing in the loft, body than all the last clothes he covered with dust and cobwebs, has worn are taken off and given and serving perhaps as a receptacle to a gipsy. The corpse is washed for old iron or discarded shoes; and and shaved and dressed in bridal now it is the dying man himself, attire—the self-same clothes which who, during a passing interval of forty years previously he had consciousness, directs that his coffin donned on his wedding morning, should be brought down and clean- and which ever since have been lyed out, his glassy eye recovering a ing carefully folded by, and strewpassing brightness as he congrat- ed with sprigs of lavender, in the ulates himself on his wise fore- large Iruhe (bunker), waiting for thought.
the day when their turn must come Death is indeed approaching round again. with rapid strides. Only two A snowy sheet spread over spoonfuls of the medicine pre- layer of wood-shavings is the restscribed has the patient swallowed. ing-place of the body when it is “Take it away," he says, when he laid in the coffin ; for the head, a realises his situation— " take it little pillow stuffed with dried away, and keep it carefully for flowers and aromatic herbs, which
in most houses are kept ready pre- away? On whom shall I now pared for this contingency.
lean ?” An hour before the funeral, The children near the dead the bell begins to toll the Seelen- mother.-"Mother, mother, who puis (soul's pulse), as it is called; will care for us now? Shall we but the sexton is careful to pause live within strange doors ?” in the ringing when the clock A mother bewailing her only son. is about to strike, for “ if the "O God, Thou hast had no pity. hour should strike into the bell,” Even the Emperor did not take another death will be the conse- my son to be a soldier. Thou art quence.
less merciful than the Emperor !" Standing before the open grave, Another mother weeping over two the mourners give vent to their dead children, exclaims, “What a grief, which, even when true and misfortune is mine, O God! If I heartfelt, is often expressed with had lost two young foals, at least such quaint realism as to provoke their hides would have been left a smile.
to me." “My dearest husband," wails And the children standing by the the disconsolate widow, “why hast open grave of their father, cry out, thou gone away? I had need of “O father, we shall never forget thee to look after the farm, and thee ! Take our thanks for all there was plenty room for thee at the benefits received during thy our fireside. My God, is it right lifetime, as well as for the earthly of Thee thus to take my support goods thou hast left behind.”
THE DOCTOR: AN OLD VIRGINIA FOX-HUNTER.
Now the Doctor was a Southern- way irritates him ; and finally, that er of the old school. Nor was he he was, and I feel sure still is, merely a North Carolinan, a Ten- eminently picturesque. nessean, a Kentuckian, or a Geor- The Doctor was about sixty-five gian—not any,
thank No; at the time of which I write (not friend was a Virginian- a so very many years ago). He had real “old-fashioned, blue-blooded, never set foot outside Virginia, whole-souled, open-handed Vir- and never wanted to. That a counginian.” And this he was by try, however, or climate, or people, virtue of eight or nine genera- or scenery existed that could be tions of forebears who had fought, mentioned in the same breath with physicked, speechified, fox-hunted, the old Cavalier colony, never for raised negroes and tobacco, in that one moment was accounted within immortal commonwealth. No day the bounds of possibility by that passed but the Doctor, in his simple good and simple soul. fashion, unconsciously thanked God And yet, paradoxical as it may that he was a Virginian. For did seem, the Doctor was proud of not virtue, valour, honour, gal- his descent from pure English lantry select the Old Dominion in stock. « None of Scotch or Irish, the days of the Stuarts as their or Scotch-Irish, for me. No, I special depot, from whence, in thank you, sir.' My folks," he modified streams, these qualities was fond of relating, were real might be diffused over the less English stock, who
over fortunate portions of the Western 'way back in early colonial days, world? To the unsophisticated Eng- and settled on the York River. lishman, to the ignorant French- They were kin to the nobility." man or German, an American is an Whatever may have been the accuAmerican. If he is not rampantly racy of this last claim, the Doctor's modern, sensationally progressive, patronymic in Virginia genealogy and furiously material, he is no- was above reproach, and would thing at all. But the Doctor have secured him an entrée (had he would scarcely ever speak or think owned a dress-coat, and had he felt of himself as an American, except a hankering after Eastern cities) in the same sense as an English into those small exclusive coteries man would call himself a Euro- in transatlantic society that still pean. The Doctor every recognise birth as superior to moment of the day, and every wealth and
intellect. I day in the year, a Virginian above should not like it to be supposed everything; and as I have already that my dear Doctor, of whom I said, he felt thereby that a respon- am excessively fond, was given to sibility and a glory above that of blustering about either his State other mortals had been conferred or his descent. Your fire-eating, upon him by the accident of his blowing, swaggering Southerner birth.
I may add, moreover, that belongs either to a lower social he was unquestionably non-pro- grade, to the more frontier States gressive, that he was decidedly not of the South, or, to a greater demodern, while to this day he is so re- gree perhaps than either, to the actionary that the sound of a rail- fertile imagination of Yankee edi
tors and dime novelists. The hard to distinguish him from the Doctor was a Virginian. His native. To picture the Doctor in thoughts and his habits, which London, however, requires an effort were peculiar and original, were of imagination from which the insimply those of Virginians of his tellect shrinks. Of one thing I class and generation somewhat am sure, and that is, he would be strongly emphasised.
was very miserable. He would call in just and unassuming, kindly and vain for glasses of cold water like homely There was about him a that from the limpid spring under delightful old-fashioned, if some- the poplar-tree at home, of which what ponderous suavity of man- the Doctor consumes about a horsener, that the rest of the Anglo- troughful a-day. He would hang Saxon race have long, long out- over the apple-stalls, and groan grown. To even hear a married over the deficiencies of a country female that was not black ad- that could do no better than that. dressed as otherwise than “Ma- He would get up two hours before dam" positively pained him. As the servants, and prowl about disfor the children, the Doctor had a consolate and hungry till breakseparate greeting for every one of fast. What an apology, too, for a them, let his host's quiver be ever breakfast it would be without an so full. Ay, and generally some “old Virginia hot-beat biscuit"!
“ thing more than that; for the In his despair of getting a “julep," Doctor's capacious pockets were he might take a whisky-punch beknown by the little ones to be fore his early dinner.
But here, almost inexhaustible in the again, how could the emblazoned way of chincapins, hickory-nuts, wine-card, with its, for him, meanand candy, as his well-worn saddle- ingless contents, supply the want bags were of less inviting condi- of that big pitcher of foaming ments.
buttermilk for which his simple The Doctor's belief in his coun- palate craves ?
The pomp and try (and by his country of course wealth, the glitter and glare of I mean Virginia) was the religion a great capital, would be simply in which he was born. He would distasteful to our patriarch. In never have dreamt of intruding it his own land he and his have on you. International comparisons been for all time aristocrats—aster he could not make, for he had never their own fashion, it is true, but been out of the State. I feel per- still aristocrats. They have been fectly sure, however, if the Doctor strongly inclined to regard themhad travelled over every corner of selves as the salt of the earththe earth, that his faith was of and perhaps they are : a good that fundamental description which sturdy British foible this, intensiwas proof against mere sights and fied by isolation and the mutualsounds. He would have returned admiration atmosphere which such to the shade of his ancestral porch, isolation creates. At any rate, temporarily staggered, perhaps, gold lace and liveries and coronets but still unconvinced that any land are not indispensable adjuncts of or any people could compare with honour and breeding. The Docold Virginia.
tor, however-if we can imagine The average American in Lon. him gazing on the stream of cardon is a spectacle which has in it riages rolling past Hyde Park nothing inharmonious; on the con- Corner on summer eveningtrary, in these days it is sometimes would be sensible, for the first time