Billeder på siden

and tasted; and the woman of the house took some of the beer when invited. One of the boys-sons of Mrs. Salmier-was firing, for amusement, at a mark with an arbalète, or cross-bow. When we got back from our visit where the housekeeper was not at home, and from the cemetery and wind-mill, Mr. Salmier was up; and with one of his good friends, who had called, was in the court-yard entrance making ties for wheat. Marie went to vespers, and after the service the three Sisters of St. Anne and the school-children went to walk. They went to Madame Druvet's, and that lady gave Marie a dahlia. The dignity of going to madame's will not, however, be for me; although, when I first came, Mrs. Salmier spoke of taking me there. But now she knows what a person I am,—who went into the choir at Cambray, and I might not please Madame Druvet! Well, instead of supping at the rich man's house, the brewer's,-Mrs. S. quickly gets an omelet for supper for her husband, herself, and me, the sons being still absent. Mrs. S. also gives me the regular bread, butter, and jelly, and the wine, which I mix with water. I take the butter and jelly with trembling, because the family do not freely partake. But what delightful bread I have in this great wheat district! It is excellent, though not very white,—though dark, how sweet!-with more taste than the Paris bread; and the price is twenty-three sous for six pounds French. Sometimes Mrs. S. makes bread herself. She heated her oven when I was there with bunches of poppy stalks. Once I saw her rub garlic on the crust of her dry bit of bread, saying that this gives one an appetite. I observe on a week-day how they get along in France with so little meat; for about four in the afternoon the Salmiers ate, while I, who took butter at dinner, could wait until six.

I have before spoken of the wind-mill. They aboụnd in this part of France. I visit this one again, and observe that the base is of brick and it is eight-sided, each side measuring something over a yard. Not far from the windmill lies a millstone, broken in two, and in the open space between the pieces are growing wild poppies, bluets, etc. I see these red poppies, the blue bluets, and the plentiful white flowers of the wild chamomile, and I imagine that I see the origin of the national. tricolor.

Mr. Salmier's sons usually get up about five in the mornning, and go to the field carrying their breakfast of bread, cottage cheese, and beer. By cutting a slice quite thick at one end, a little hollow can be made in one side of the slice to receive the cheese, in which no milk has been mixed; and you may add to it salt, pepper, and tarragon, an odoriferous herb; I observe once that Mr. Salmier has two little bulbs of garlic, which he cuts up and puts in also. That gives a good taste, they think. Then, with a stoneware canteen of beer, they will be ready for the field. They sometimes use a mild kind, which they call young beer. The boys come in about noon to dinner, and then they take two hours' rest. After dinner we generally have coffee, and then the boys take out the same as in the morning for their four-o'clock meal in the fields, their bread, cheese, and beer. Then they do not come in until nightfall.

On the Sunday of which I have spoken so much,—the Sunday of our unsuccessful visit, the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Salmier, who is in the bank in the city, is at home in the afternoon on a visit; he is on duty at the bank until noon. He stays until Monday morning, but must leave early to walk into the city and be in time at

the bank. Mrs. Salmier comes to my door to tell me that he is going, and wishes to bid me good-by. I am up, but, as I am not dressed, she suggests my putting myself into bed. I prefer making a slight toilet, and am quickly out. The rest of the family are all gone to the field. We talk a little while about what I can see in the city, and on other matters, and then madame tells her son that he must not be hurried on the road, and says, "Salute madame,-embrasse madame." Behold, when I offer my hand, the slender youth salutes me on each cheek, which makes him blush!

I think that I understand more of the patois here than I did farther south, but it may be because my ear is becoming more accustomed to French sounds. One evening a woman is in at Mr. Salmier's to get the certificate of the publication of her son's marriage, they having before received his 66 act of birth" and the "act of the decease of his father." (Being dead, he cannot consent to the marriage!) His mother talks a while, and I learn from some one that she' does not like the marriage, because the young woman has nothing and is small and slender. But the mother will not refuse her consent, and put them to the expense of sending her two respectful summons, or papers drawn up by a notary, which the notary must take to her, accompanied by two witnesses.

The small and thin young woman, who is to marry, has no parents; so she must present the acts of their decease, and those of her four grandfathers, or their consent, if living. Even a widow of sixty, with parents of eighty, must present their consent, as must all. This is a long preamble to the statement that the old woman who was in at Mr. Salmier's talked patois, and that she said or pro

nounced "Shay sha," which I was able to interpret into C'est cela. One day I went out into the fields to see Mr. Salmier and Marie gathering poppies on one of those patches into which the fields are generally divided. An old woman was helping them with the work. By putting her foot at the root she was able to break the tall stem off. She said something, and remarked that I did not understand, "shou que je dizo," or "what I said." As I return from the fields, I see children pulling weeds in the littleused roadway, and they get grass, too, behind the high wall of the notary, to feed their rabbits. I walk on with them, and a woman, the mother of two of them, invites me in. She is ironing on Saturday afternoon. She has twins, who were six months old on the second of the month, or, as she pronounces," Ul deux de she mo shi,"-Le deux de ce mois-ci. On parting I bestow some sous, and say "Good-day." The mother says, "Say good-day to madame, who has given you Sunday."

As I am drawing near the close of my visit in the north, I wish to speak of a few things, to one of which I have before alluded,—namely, the great abreuvoir, or wateringplace, near the centre of the village. I know not why this limestone district should suffer from want of water. Perhaps one reason is because it is limestone, and the rain quickly escapes through crevices in the rock below; and can another reason be because it is so nearly treeless? Mr. Salmier and I are of one mind in thinking the wateringplace one of the most ancient things here. It is deep enough to cover a horse, or over two yards at the deepest, and they can take their horses into it to be cleaned. It is rain-water which runs down from the street, and is retained in some way, to me at first very mysterious; but it must

be by having the bottom properly prepared. It is nearly surrounded by a fine low brick wall, built only a few years ago; before that it was unwalled, like the little one in our court-yard. The wall is in form much like a very long horseshoe. One evening I stopped to see a man who had a small cask on a little sled, and straw in his cask. He had gone in at the broad, open end, and, with trousers turned up, was standing in this shallow part, putting water into his cask. His elegant dark-gray horse was drinking and then kicking or splashing with a front foot, as if he wanted to throw water over himself, while his master called him to order. About the same time, near nightfall, a young woman was standing on stepping-stones to fill her bucket from the water. In a dry summer they have been obliged to bring water to this village from elsewhere; as in that of 1874 or 1875, when there was no water in this wateringpool, and very little in the wells: the commune paid about sixty dollars for water, which was brought from another township in the underground pipe by which the beet-juice is conveyed.

I hear mention of a custom which is doubtless ancient. A certain person who lived in this commune had his farmbuildings burnt, and he obtained the pourchat of Paris, which gave him the right to take subscriptions from different persons to replace his losses, and also, I think, to put notices in newspapers. This is supposed to have made him rich. In the French Academy's dictionary of 1778 the noun pourchat does not occur; but the verb pourchasser, which means "to try to obtain," is spoken of as old.

I hear a person mentioned as being divorced from his

« ForrigeFortsæt »