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demands and insolent demeanour of No. 104,632, will be careful to select Mr. A.'s day, in order that no mercy may be shown towards the ruthless offender.
Then Mr. A.'s notorious and extremely crotchety veneration for Acts of Parliament makes him the terror of every man who simply requires the magisterial signature to a formal affidavit; while Mr. B.'s utter contempt for Acts of Parliament in general makes him the special favourite of all prosecutors who are perfectly satisfied of the enormous delinquency of their servants, but who happen to have no legal evidence against them. On no account can you prevail on Mr. A. to stretch the law,' even where culpability is morally certain; while the precept of Mr. B. is, 'I am guided by the rules of common-sense. If my decision fits the
Act, so much the better; if not, the Act is defective, and ought to be amended.'
Thus, as we have already shown, Mr. B. acquires a reputation for getting through a vast amount of business in an incredibly short space of time; while Mr. A. may be often found sitting on the bench two hours after the proper hour of closing the court, poring over the Acts of Parliament which are piled about him, in order that he may be able to give a strictly legal decision, according to the statute in that case made and provided,' upon the important question which has been debated before him by a couple of attorneys (not remarkable for their civility to each other), as to whether a man who has swallowed a bad half-crown can be said to have counterfeit money in his possession.'
THE WASHING OF THE PILGRIMS' FEET.
A Scene at Rome.
HAD vowed I would go to no ceremonies in Rome. Mock them I would not, respect them I could not: why should I see anything, sacred to others, that could but rouse ridicule in my mind? But the account given me of the washing of the pilgrims' feet, not at St. Peter's, but at Santa Marie dei Pelegrini -the description of the peasant toil-worn pilgrims made me absolve myself from that part of my Vow and take steps to procure admittance to the spectacle.
Very difficult, every one said, to get a ticket, every boly was SO anxious to go; and I had quite given up the idea, when late on Saturday evening-Easter Saturday-a note came from a friend to offer me the vacant place in their carriage and a spare ticket.
A little before nine o'clock we left via Condotti, and drove through the dark narrow streets, whither I knew not. Stopping at the darkest corner of a great church and a tall gloomy building, the hospital adjoining, up a slippery, dim, uncleanly stair, we stumbled, fearing to be too late, and passing through two small anterooms joined a procession of other ladies through a narrow passage made by wooden rails in the middle of the long, large, bare-walled chamber, where the supper was to be. On one side of us were long narrow tables, as yet uncovered, with attendant narrow empty benches. On the other a smaller space, occupied by a board, on which the materials for the supper were laid as they were brought in from another room by half a dozen or so of little women, in black silk dresses and red pinafores ministering angels with very much the air of housekeepers and ladies' maids, but who were coronetted peeresses, countesses, and marchesas, every one of them.
A gradual pushing and shoving brought us to the door, and down a perilous dark stair, to the room where the ceremony was about to begin.
A large oblong stone chambernot unlike a laundry-a raised stone seat with all round cocks of steaming water pouring into small tubs below three sides of it, and a wooden beam to keep separate the beholders and the performers in the impending sight.
By a side door the peasant women came slowly in one by one, seating themselves shyly on the stone seat and pulling off their thick woollen socks and strong shoes.
An old, old crone, wrinkled like a withered apple, laid her hands on her knees and stared indifferently before her. A shy, brown-faced girl, shamefaced, with the most beautiful wild blue eyes I ever saw, coarse white cloth over her head, and many beads round her throat, sat next her. A stout, stupid matron by her plunged her feet at once into the hot water to soak. They were mostly old women, none of them ragged, and few that did not look strong and hearty; but their faces wore, for the most part, that melancholy, weird look that is so southern and so poetic, and that means so little.
The red-aproned ladies had dropped on their knees before the tubs, and all was quiet, when a plump priest, in pink calico garments and a scarlet skull-cap, entered and placed himself in the middle of the long row of pilgrims. After a cheery word or two to the old dame on either side of him, the priest began, in a nasal monotone, a Latin prayer, instantly followed by the pilgrims. The ladies began to splash the water in the tubs and look around them and smile at their acquaintances.
A curious scene enough; deep grey shadows, a fitful yellow light resting on, here and there, a dark, wild face; harsh voices rising and falling in an unfamiliar tongue, and at once all the strange sense that these were unknown fellow-occupants of this dreamlike world, fellow-travellers to that eternal world to come-faces that I should never see again, and
that had' each its own fate and history, for good or evil, in this life and the next.
Small zeal, I thought, the ladies bestowed on their office. I should like to see English girls doing right heartily the scrubbing and sponging that they did not do at all. The prayers ended, each pilgrim drew on her socks and shoes; each lady placed the hand of her whose feet she had washed within her arm and led her from the room. The women slouched bashfully past us, and the ministering angels nodded and smiled to the friends they saw amongst our number, but seemed to take no heed of, or interest in, their companions.
We made our way, as speedily as might be, to the supper-room, while a new set of pilgrims, ladies, and spectators took our places.
Upstairs, the long tables were already covered and rows of sunburnt guests seated, waiting for grace to be said, more red pinafores flitted around with round bowls of salad and thick brown loaves, and with them were here and there stout beings in pink calico garments from the throat to the feet, whose grey moustaches relieved us from an otherwise painful uncertainty as to their sex. With glee I recognised my friend, Prince M- as benign and better shaven than usual, amongst the pink dressing-gowns; and he told me that with sundry others he had finished washing the men's feet in a separate part of the hospital, and had come to help to keep order here.
A cheery sound now filled the long room, the salad, bread, fish, and wine made an ample supper in the eyes of such frugal, hungry folk as the Italian peasants; and talking, laughing, and whispering in groups they ate and drank. Some did not eat, but stuffed their portion into a leathern wallet or yellow kerchief for the morrow's use. Some helped their neighbours, pulling the shining lettuce leaves out of wooden bowls with yet browner fingers. Here and there a sad gloomy face looked out from the white head-gear, but there was many a flashing eye and happy countenance among them:
only one girl-so beautiful that her face haunts me still-looked so lonely and so sad that I tried to coax her to take her untouched food: she shook her head, and a great clear drop fell from her eyes: she would not even carry off her bread and wine, as did those who, dog like, were too shy to eat in public, but sat with locks of tawny hair on her shoulders and long slender hands clasped in her lap, a poem in herself. I wondered why she was sad, and composed a rapid romance for her, ending happily in the third volume.
Grace was said and a move made towards the sleeping-room, and now began a strange scene.
Wooden bars were again put up to keep a passage wide enough to admit two abreast to the doorway. Countess E- stood at the exit to see that too many did not crowd into the dormitory at one time, and Marchese took up a position a few yards inside the room, to keep order in the procession as it passed from the tables. Within the sleepingroom a hymn, chanted by the lady attendants, was joined by the voices of the peasants, in turn, as they left thesupper-room; not an unmelodious mingling of rough and cultivated tones in a slow yet glad cadence, but we only heard the sound at first, for they would not go quietly, and a trampling of heavy feet drowned all save their own noise.
Much to my amaze the frightened, grave women became bold, half fierce and wholly boisterous, elbowing, exclaiming, pushing, with flushed faces and muttered wordsall strove to be first. So wildly did they push that at last the matron, little active Marchese, t , threw herself between two stout women, and with head, hands, and elbows fought till she had driven back the foremost in the melée, and had restored order in the procession.
'Curious folk,' Prince Msaid to me; they are at times so fierce in their dormitory that it is hard to manage them. Certain beds are special favourites, certain parts of the room are much esteemed, and they fight for these; also, those of one country or of one family are wild if they be not together at bed time.'