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healthy and strong, but she does not appear to feast. She is sixteen, and receives one hundred and ten francs a year, having been hired at Christmas. A good girl, I am told, can get one hundred and fifty francs, or about thirty dollars, a year. Inside her wooden shoes Toinette wears short, woollen socks, which she calls bottines. In cold weather, she says that they wear woollen stockings and bottines too. Her wooden shoes are cut low in front, and have broad leather straps over the instep to keep them on; but some are cut high enough upon the instep to remain. These shoes, without the bands, can be bought for eleven sous; and the bands cost ten sous, and can be used for several pairs. Toinette's shoes last about three weeks! But, at this rate, sabots for a year would cost less than two dollars. I understand that the soles can be mended with nails. Toinette expects to be able to go to the fête a while on Sunday evening, but she says that it is not so beautiful as last year. Why ?" "There were not so many young men." "Why not?" "Some were gone to the army, and some said that they would not go."
This morning Pierre invites me out to see the men plough. In what relates to the arts of civilized life Paris is incomparable; but the ploughing that I see this morning is not more enlightened than ours.
The men are preparing the ground for rye; it is an orchard or nut ground,—a piece planted with chestnuts and walnuts. The men have been out since about five, and now, as it is approaching seven, they are ready for breakfast, for we do not have Parisian hours here. They had before ploughed the ground once with four oxen to a large heavy plough, resembling ours, which cost forty francs. With this they had turned up the sod, and they are now ploughing for the second time,-two oxen to one plough and two to another,
one plough following immediately after the other. These ploughs are of rude construction, the timber not being well smoothed, looking as if they might have made them themselves, and having apparently only one piece of iron,—a long narrow piece, which enters the mould and disturbs it. These simple ploughs cost ten francs apiece. The oxen do not wear a yoke, but a stick or little log across their heads, behind the horns, and fastened to them by leather straps. Where the strap passes over the forehead there is a cushion to protect the skin. They are very quickly unhitched and turned out to grass when the men go to breakfast. Although they are now ploughing,-making use of the spare time between haying, yet they will not sow the rye until fall, and will plough twice more before planting.
I have mentioned that nut-trees are planted where the men are ploughing. Walnuts are said to be more profitable than chestnuts or fruits: they bear better, or are more regular than the chestnuts. They are what we call English walnuts; and from them oil is made for salad. They are worth from two to three francs the double decalitre, about fifty cents the half bushel. Assorted chestnuts are worth about seventy cents the half bushel, and smaller ones about forty cents. When we consider the large size of French chestnuts, this seems very cheap.
It is the farmer or a couple of his men that I have seen ploughing as above described. The farmer is a granger,that is, he divides the crops; but if he paid in money, he would be called a renter. He is unmarried, and his mother keeps house. She cannot read and write. She cannot believe that I have come from America,-so far, and wants to know whether America is a part of France. The farmer's house is behind ours. It is a cottage divided in two, one division being the stable. We go in here and see
three thrifty calves tied in the back part; while in a corner in the front end is the decent-looking bed of one of the men, who sleeps here to take care of the cattle during the night.
Mrs. Lesmontagnes is a very neat housekeeper,—more orderly than I should be,—but as yet I see no looking-glass, nor a bit of carpet in the house, not even the rag carpet often used in my native land. To-day I see her eating a slice of bread with a bit of cheese, a little old, as she says, —un peu passé. I remark to Pierre that she might be willing to allow herself a little luxury, but he says that she will not. However, she has one small one,-her pinch of snuff. She does most of her cooking upon the hearth, the chimney being much like our ancient ones, but not enclosed below, so there are no chimney corners. This morning Nerva, the lean hunting-dog, is warming himself, lying almost in the ashes, for the weather is cool enough. In the chimney-place a strong chain hangs down, to which the pot is hung, and other pots stand around the small fire. To prepare my breakfast coffee Mrs. L. makes a little charcoal fire in one of the shallow grates of a range, which has five such. They buy charcoal. In the winter they live in her sleeping-room, which has an ancient tile floor, two beds, and a little stove.
AROUND my room are hanging some simple engravings and drawings. One is a stiff, dandified individual,—if I may use the phrase,-who wears a sash, but no orders; his right hand rests upon his hip, and his left holds an open scroll,-"Constitution of 1848." It is Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, President of the French Republic, born at Paris in 1808. He had quite a history before and after he was forty. What are the politics of this family of Lesmontagnes, once Bonapartist, now republican? I remember how one of my Irish friends has told of the caution which young men who are friends, and desire to remain so, must use in his native land when one of them is Protestant and the other Catholic, and how they must never discuss politics nor religion; and, as I desire to remain friendly with the people here, I wish to try and do the same. I am sincerely glad to have obtained this place, which suits me admirably. These people impress me as very truthful.
I go into the chapel to-day. It stands in one corner of the garden, and the floor is level with the ground, or nearly so. The walls are painted with Scripture scenes,-old paintings retouched, and not elegant. There is, too, an ornamented altar or shrine; and in the window, a fragmentary inscription tells that a young branch of the family of De Chambre made and caused to paint this chapel in 1693.
To-day I say something to madame about my being able to see myself in one of her pots, and this permits me to bring up the subject of a glass. She tells me that she has
a large one and will let me see it. Behold, it is an ancient one in her room, about fifteen inches by two feet in size, having a narrow gilt frame, and set in the woodwork of the chimney-piece or partition. Madame lends me for my room a very small one, which I have unless some one else wants it.
On our walk yesterday we picked up a few of the edible snails, and Mrs. L. is so good as to fry them for me. I may safely say that they do not equal fried oysters. They are tough. In the spring-time you can gather a basketful along the lanes, beneath the vineyards, and among the vines and under the cabbages, for they love cabbage much.
This afternoon we have a delightful walk, climbing a hill near the house, whence we can see a number of villages and the town of R., where I left the railroad. On our way to the hill we find a little party from the village out tasting the country." One says that they are keeping up the fête of last Sunday and Monday. They have at least one bottle in their basket. Among them is a young man, who, as Pierre tells me, is from Paris, and is at home for the fête. He is coachman, Pierre adds, in a family where his father and mother were before him; and I can judge whether it is a rich family when the mangers are of marble and the stop-cocks of silver!
Climbing the hill, we come to a region of small pines,— a spot never cultivated. Close by are quantities of ferns, intermingled with the purple foxglove, which grows wild and fine. When partly up the hill we hear singing, and Pierre tells me that it is a shepherdess; and there she is near the top, with a pair of goats and several cows and calves. She has her knitting, and is very clean and tidy, except that her sack has a few cherry-stains. She has been up here since three or four in the afternoon, and is to stay