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AN EASY HOLIDAY.
In describing a holiday tour just tions of air and scenery, the nearest at the time when the equinoctial farmhouse to our own residence gales are frightening home the last might become a sufficient arbour of pleasure-seekers, we have to face recreation. It is not so, however ; the doubt whether what we do will our immediate surroundings seem be able to interest others. Either to become as tired of us as we are they have had their tour and are of them, and it is necessary to cut full of memories of their own, or the links absolutely which bind us they have missed a holiday alto- to our everyday life. gether and are overworked and To get on to the water is the spiteful. The latter we would fain best way of cutting these links. propitiate by telling them that the There is such an evident impossiIndian summer may yet afford a bility of immediate return, such a fine opportunity for some such manifest frustration for the time little run as ours, wherein we wish being of letters, telegrams, and them good speed.
messages, that the old horizon There are two of us, physically which seemed so impervious is not very strong, and not good broken up at once. Instead of sailors. We began our holiday in passing from London through a state of considerable exhaustion the ordinary gateways of the from intellectual overwork, com Continent with the English mails, bined with the weariness arising we chose therefore the more plefrom the heavy stormy days of beian route from the Irongate August, with their troubled skies and St. Katherine's Wharf, near and the electrical depression that the Tower, to Boulogne. Incidenwas not kindly to the nerves. The tally, it may be named that this question we put to ourselves, which is a very cheap journey, a dozen will only interest busy people, was shillings being the fare. Passenthis-Which is the greater rest, to gers who have to make arrangevegetate in some tranquil village ments for a continuation of their among the hills or by the sea, or to journey beyond Boulogne should oust by a rapid succession of new be warned of the mistake (we are impressions the old series that was almost tempted to say deliberate fagging the mind? We chose the untruth) of the time-tables, that latter, and have not regretted our eight hours is the time of passage; choice. The best of friends may ten is nearer the mark, under the quarrel when there is no distrac- most favourable circumstances. tion from vacancy but such yawns There is no need to recount the as fresh air produces when the marvels of the Thames, the evibody is allowed to realise quietly dences of the wealth of the port of that it is tired.
London. And it is too absurd to Distance from home is an essen relate how a tug named “ Orion," tial of holiday. It might be passing close to a boat bearing a thought that, given proper condi- too conspicuous cargo of “horn,'
reminded us of a friend of ours, an passed for wise if his inflated old poet, one of whose finest lines utterances had not made him so is inscribed upon the sundial on conspicuous. For a time he had Brighton pier. Nor perhaps is it two young women for an audience, wise to wander off into a disquisi- but, as is always the case with tion upon the vicissitudes in the Falstaff, he ended by being des. lives of bargees ; how, when two pised and deserted. He afterbarges are floating down with the wards enchained a somewhat tide and a steamer passes them, plebeian youth, for whose benefit the water rushes up between the he poured out political leaders, two, and comes down upon their which might have been worth decks like small cataracts. This guineas in their proper place, but is not so bad as for a barge to be evidently fell upon ears unable to gently pushed out of its course by appreciate them, however spell. a steamboat, and as it slides astern bound by the guttural music of for the big boat's discharge pipes that fat red throat and the vinous to play down freely upon it. sparkle of the style. He seemed
Our position was made unique in to go through alternate processes a way, by reason of a semi-French of becoming stupid through his old spinster informing the public potations and of recovery through confidently that she had never been the fresh stimulus of the air. before in the regions where we were, At an early hour of our journey and never would be there again. we passed a sobering sight. Near We had several quasi-historical the Powder Magazine, by Wool characters on board, there was an wich, lay, drawn up on the shore, undoubted Miss Wardle from the fore part of a beautiful boat “Pickwick," a type whose curls that once carried barbaric royalty. are growing rare; while the most Another great fragment of wreck conspicuous passenger was a as we passed was being towed mighty Falstaff in modern dress. towards the shore, where a crowd He wore a broad-brimmed beaver, was anxiously waiting. Saturday, and huge coats pervaded by huger the 7th of September, was the first pockets, which contained a large lovely day of early autumn, and assortment of newspapers and the bright river shining in the sun pamphlets, and untold supplies showed no guilty face as if enof drink and food. His husky gulfing in the depths over which throat was making deep, hoarse we passed hundreds of human music all the way. He was not corpses. Of these we saw no trace; Phelps, but we suspected him of there was not a shred of anything leader-writing for the most gushing unusual afloat. We did, indeed, of the dailies. After exhausting see several unclothed bodies, but his pockets, within and without, of they were those of live beings. A their bottles of sundry liquors, he pack of boys were bathing most was forced to content himself with unconcernedly within not very a large bottle of the steward's many yards of the spot where no sherry. With this he had three doubt lay the greater number of wineglasses set, to which he in the army of the dead. vited many; but, after thus dis We are compelled soon to forget posing of about half a glass, he disasters at the present day, for battled through the remainder by new ones jostle the old out of our himself most manfully. He had attention. We thought of no the politics of the world at the dangers of the sea in the calm tip of his tongue, and might have evening as we neared Boulogne.
The sun slowly sank below a very substantial cloud with an irregular edge that lay low upon the horizon. Through the clear dry air the vanishing rays shone upwards upon the upper edge of that western cloud, until at last, when the sun had gone below, the sharp and jagged edge was marked out by a slender brilliant line of goldas it were, a flash of lightning flying in horizontal forkings that had been arrested in transit. The peculiar form of this solidified Hash gave it nearly the air and vitality of motion. A few moments and it died away, and nothing was to be seen but the gaunt cape of the Grey Nose, at which a Capt. Webb swimming the Channel might be glad to land. We, how ever ready to do the same, had to steam on and leave it bebind us in the darkness, until we came to the bustle and jabber of our landing place. The Customs inspection was to be in half an hour, we were told, so we went off to select our hotel, and on our return within the time specified found the whole process over, the vérificateur gone home, and our heavy baggage impounded until the morning. Fortunately we had taken the precaution of stowing simple necessaries in a handbag, so that our injuries were slight, being com. prised in the payment of a small fee to a pseudo-official on the spot, which payment had to be repeated to the authorised recipients in the morning.
Boulogne was in excitement, preparing for its fête. This public rejoicing was not over anything actually accomplished, but over an intention to accomplish. The deepsea harbour was authorised by law. It may take twenty years to complete, but that will afford an opportunity for another fête. There is surely no harm in rejoicing at a bold inception. The
official ground for the fête was the laying of the first stone of a monument commemorative of the legal authorisation. This perhaps was a trifle absurd, for the harbour itself might be taken to be its own best monument.
We remained in Boulogne for the fête, finding plenty of amusement in watching the preparations, and in being jolted about in the voitures baignoires every morning. Two francs for a carriage in two compartments, twenty-five centimes for a costume, and fifteen for a maillot, with a sous or two for the driver, who enjoys cracking his long whip, and does not understand reckoning in centimes; this is the cost at the municipal establishment of the baths. There might with advantage be a few more long planks laid over the deep soft sand on the way. The Boulogne hotels are amusing, though horribly infested by Cockneydom. There the great British tradesman turns to champagne with a sort of awesome joy, and his wife learns the first exultation of riches. We were fortunate in finding some Muscat Lunel in the wine-list, which had apparently been neglected, for it had been in the house long enough to have developed from its original sickly sweetness into an excellent vigour. It was three francs a bottle, and we tried in vain to match it at a higher price at a merchant's afterwards. The dinner generally was fair ; we had occasion to criticise once when there came epigrammes as an entrée, with no note upon what the epigram was foundeda fact which it did not even reveal in its tail.
Our hotel was so placed on the side of a hill that the bedrooms on the second floor opened at the back upon the beginning of a garden which stretched far away upwards. It was pleasant to walk
out and see the lights increase Chinese lanterns. Each bore a over the town, and the various slender pole with a horizontal cross illuminations shine out. Our affixed, to each arm of which was greatest fun was in watching the fastened one of these orbs of soft praiseworthy efforts of the people warm-coloured light. In ranks and of our own hotel. It had a fine in double-quick time, with eager courtyard, surrounded with shrubs faces, and with much swift badi. and flowers in pots. During the nage, these raced up and down the day we had remarked a large col. streets, a crowd preceding and fol. lection of tin pattypans filled with lowing. Without thinking of a solidified grease and holding a pun, the priestly Galli at their thick cotton wick, pattypans which revels came to the mind, but for. one of us wickedly suggested were tunately this was a lighter kind of alternately used for making tarts. revelry than that of the maddening When the evening came Monsieur mysteries of Cybele. But, alas? would take it into his own head to it was just as feverish and short. find places for these little lamps. lived, for a shower came on; and He first lighted them, which heated the last we saw of what had been the metal, then endeavoured to fix so bright a galaxy was a dragglethem right way up in each green tailed irregular procession of weary bush and in each flower-pot. We men, half of whose lamps had appealed to Madame to show how fallen, and of what were left half here a fuchsia, and there a geranium, had gone out. was having the life scorched out of A French fête gathers a crowd it, while in another place the patty, in which one can mix with vastly pan was fixed awry, and the grease less discomfort than in that which was running down a valuable ever is brought forth by an English green; but it was fête time, and all holiday. The gaiety of the French she could do was to hold her sides is lighter and more spontaneous, and laugh at her good man's and requires less to be evoked by enthusiasm.
potations. The natural politeness The streets blazed with bright of the race, which, however arti. coloured flags. To take our station ficial it may be, is an excellent among the crowd where four ways thing and a true step towards a met and look up each avenue filled real consideration, is a very apprewith gay pennons fluttering in the ciable quality in the crowd, in which wind, even made us strangers feel there is next to nothing of that the fête-day hilarity. As the even rude rough jostling by hulking ing came, Chinese lanterns blos- vagabonds such as we find ourselves somed over the houses, made fes. confronted by in a London mob. toons across the streets, hung from So soon as we left Boulogne we every doorway. Transparencies had done with Anglicisms. We stretched across windows, bearing started by rail for solid-looking, a device, four letters to a pane, old-fashioned Abbeville, where we that might have been difficult to saw no Cockneys or any familiar decipher had we not the clue: face. We left by rail in the evenPORT-ALAU- PROF-ONDE. There ing; and, as we passed on by were fireworks playing from cun French Neufchatel, heavy white ning chemists' shops, catherine- mists were resting in the low-lying wheels, and roman candles, and fields like thick gauzes, which, in Bengal fire; but the most effective the moonlight, became resplendent demonstration was a procession of sheets of silver. Where we passed a band of young men with burning a lonely part—and these fields
were many—the scene realised in deed, the dream of “faery seas for lorn.” At Abbeville station the omnibuses of the hotels were waiting; and, after a rattle over the stones, we soon found ourselves in a comfortable, old-fashioned inn, looking out from our room and balcony upon a court that in the bright moonlight seemed more appropriate to a Romeo and Juliet than to ourselves. A great mountain ash shone with plentiful red berries. The horses were being walked into their stables, and soon the house was asleep. We had come by the last train. Had we not waited for the fête at Boulogne we might have seen more of Abbeville or other places. As it was, we found in the morning that a vehicle of some kind went to Tréport on the coast once a day at eleven o'clock ; so, dispensing with further breakfast than the café-aulait, we made for this conveyance, which was to start from a neighbouring hotel. Our pecuniary relations with Abbeville were consequently not extensive. The account of “ La Tête de Bæuf” will show the manner of them : Omni. bus one franc, coffee and milk, which was about a gill of strong coffee to a pint and a half of milk, as usual, with rolls and delicate butter, three francs; bed-room, four; service, one; and candles, half a franc. The boy who carried our baggage in a truck, when a franc was given to him, looked as if he had even such coins but seldom for his own; he must have been junior “boots."
In company with a very stout priest who regaled himself alternately with prayer-book and with peach from some rich convent garden, and some chattering peasant women, with the functionary who carried the mails, on the box, we jogged on towards Tréport in a rusty sort of omnibus. One of the
women had two great flat loaves with her, which served the stout priest for something to lean on, while another bore his broad. brim upon her knee. It is worthy of remark, considering how clean and delicate the French generally are with their cookery, even in the humbler inns, how very reckless they are with their loaves, which are to be seen everywhere tumbled about at random in any dirty corner, it being thought sufficient to wipe them with an apron, or not at all, before they are used. “Nostrès-chers-frères" are nearly as plentiful as loaves, their black petticoats being seen flying about every railway station and in every town. From Abbeville our journey was, we took it, something over twenty miles, with one change of horses. The road for the greater part of the way, which led up and down some steep hills, was flanked by regular rows of trees and looked like an interminable avenue. Great fields of what we believed to be hemp were lying in shocks or being reaped by the side of the way. Apples grew abundantly overhanging the road. If any hungry wayfarer had plucked of them, it could not have been noticed. Why should not apple trees be planted in that way along every country road in England ? We passed shrines at intervals and one or two great ghastly crucifixes. A more modern life was manifested in the placards posted up on the occasional houses urging “ Messieurs les électeurs” to vote, with “pas d'abstentions.”
As we were booked for Tréport, when the omnibus stopped in a busy little village, and we were told to descend, we supposed we were in Tréport, but rather marvelled at its being a fashionable watering place, and wondered on which side the sea lay. A host of waiters from hotels and restaurants buzzed