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“ No, sir, All-Fools' Day is over till next year. “And do you mean to tell me that I have been asleep in this chair all the first day of the month-asleep here for a whole four-and-twenty hours ?”
“Why, not exactly four-and-twenty,” explained my landlady; "it was just eleven o'clock yesterday when we found you asleep, and now it's twelve !"
“ It is, eh? Oh, very well, Mrs. Mildmay; then send me up oceans of breakfast immediately; and let me have a fire this instant, large enough to roast a great fool at."
“Certainly, sir," said the kind soul, hurrying out of the room; “ I'm sure you must be cold!"
THE LAURE L.
BY J. E. CARPENTER.
For a scorner of valour is she,
That is form’d of the bright Laurel-tree;
The halo of lasting renown,
Peerless and changeless-oh! long flourish he,
For a monarch undying is he ;
And still sacred his branches shall be:
His glory gives nerve to the brave;
Peerless and changeless, immortal shall be,
That he blooms not alone for the strong ;
Whose voices were mighty in song !
Of our warriors and minstrels are o'er,
Peerless and changeless,-oh! long flourish he,
A DAY'S SHOOTING IN THE VALLEY OF LOYOLA.
“Hallo! Is it getting up you are at all ?"
C-jo! Demonio ! Levantate !" The time was a few minutes before daybreak on a September morning, the place, the Calle Puyuelo at St. Sebastian. The above impatient summons was vociferated by two stentorian voices from the street under the window of my lodging. I tumbled out of bed, in which I had not been above three hours, thanks to some rather anti-teetotal proceedings on the evening before, hurried across the room, threw open the window, and looked out, still half asleep. My drowsy and bewildered appearance was hailed by a shout of laughter.
“Ah then, come along with you! Sure we've been bawling this half hour fit to split our throats. You beat the seven sleepers entirely."
I stumbled into the room again, emptied the water-jug over my head by way of a rouser, and began dressing as fast as possible. In five minutes my toilet was completed, and hurrying down stairs I joined my impatient friends, who were still waiting in the street.
It was in 1840, just a year after the war in the Basque Provinces had been put an end to by the treaty of :Vergara. I had been wandering away the summer in the south of France, and towards the close of August had met, at a frontier town, an old acquaintance named O'Grady, who was then residing at St. Sebastian. "He was a'handsome, jovial, devil-may-care Irishman, carrying his heart in his hand, and with just enough of the brogue to give raciness to his talk; fond of riding and shooting, and sport of all kinds, possessed of the ready wit, and of the fighting, drinking, love-making propensities of his countrymen. In the course of a ramble he came to St. Sebastian, took a fancy to the town and its inhabitants, and had been stopping there the greater part of the summer. With true Irish versatility he had fallen into the Spanish way of living, jabbered the language with considerable fluency, and was known, I believe, 10 every man, woman, and child in the place. On all hands Señor Ogradee was voted a buen chico, an excellent good fellow.
O'Grady then had induced me to accompany him to St. Sebastian, which I had visited once before, but that was during the war, and a wonderful change had taken place since then. The English marines, with the exception of a few companies which still lingered at Passages, the steamers, and men-of-war, had left the coast; Evans's legion had disappeared; even the Spanish troops had been drawn away, leaving only a battalion or two to garrison the town and citadel. St. Sebastian had begun to resume its character of a fashionable bathingplace, and was now full of strangers from the interior of Spain, many from Madrid. The smooth, sandy beach of the bay was enlivened each morning by the bathing-tents of coloured canvass, and thronged with bathers; the evening promenade on the glacis was crowded with pretty women and smart cavaliers. The country around was also beginning to revive under the salutary influence of peace : fields that had before lain fallow, were now bringing forth luxuriant crops, houses battered by
shot and shell were repaired or repairing, the peasants might be seen tilling the land, which a year before had been left to the feeble hands of women and children, every man capable of bearing a musket having been enlisted in the cause of one or other of the contending parties. The country could not yet be said to be quite tranquil; now and then outrages and robberies were heard of, committed by some of the disbanded guerillas, who preferred turning brigands to resuming their original peaceful occupations; but these excesses were soon repressed, and their perpetrators shot, captured, or driven out of the country, by the zeladores, an active corps of light troops, who scoured the province of Guipuzcoa in all directions, serving as escorts, and acting as police.
When I first arrived at St. Sebastian, fishing was the order of the day. O'Grady had a boat, and we used to pull out into the bay and have fine sport, catching quantities of donzellas, a remarkably beautiful fish of a bright crimson colour, and murenas, or lampreys, often five or six pounds weight, ugly brutes to look at, but most delicate eating. We had hardly got into September, however, when O'Grady hung up his fishing-tackle, took down his fowling-piece, and in spite of the heat, which was then as great as it often is in July in England, declared his intention of waging a war of extermination on the quails and partridges. His great ally and coadjutor in this, as in most other schemes, was a Spaniard named Buenaventura, whom O'Grady had christened Bony, both for shortness, he said, and because the creature looked it. And look it he certainly did ; he was the thinnest devil I ever saw, literally nothing but bones, covered over with a sort of chocolate-coloured hide, his nose, or rather beak, thin and curved like that of an eagle, his eyes of a dead dull black, with heavy lids and long lashes. He hardly ever looked up, never laughed his utmost approach to a smile, was a small sarcastic twitching at the corner of his mouth. He was very taciturn and passive, would let people say or do any thing with him, especially O'Grady, for whom he had conceived a great affection. Whether it was in hopes of getting fat I cannot say, but it was frightful to see him eat, and as to drinking, he would imbibe any given quantity without showing the slightest sign of intoxication.
It was by these two originals, that in virtue of a rash promise made by me in a moment of enthusiasm, I was dragged out of bed at so unseasonable an hour, and in their company I now proceeded to the town gate, which we reached as it was being opened. Crossing the glacis and the bridge over the Urumea, we kept along the side of the river at a steady pace. It was twilight, almost day; the hills upon our right were already tinged with a red glow, and presently the sun rose like a ball of fire from behind the high mountains to our left, the heel of the Pyrenean chain. We now got down into some fields of stubble, Indian corn stubble, that is three or four feet high, and with a parti-coloured carpet of grass, and poppies, and other wild flowers between the thick bamboo-like stalks. The worst of that part of the country is the vast number of broad ditches, made to drain the land, and to serve as boundaries of fields and properties. Every three or four minutes we had to leap one of these dikes, fatiguing work enough, considering that the sides are shelving and slippery, and that one is obliged to jump nearly twice the actual width of the trenches. We come to a flax-field.
The dogs begin to quest about with unusual zeal. We are badly off for dogs by-the-by. It is not easy to get well-broken pointers elsewhere than in England, and out of the three quadrupeds who precede us, one only is doing his duty in at all a business-like way, and he is a splendid double-nosed fellow, the property of our friend Bony. As to talking to them it is no use. They do not understand our bad Spanish. O'Grady curses a little occasionally, when he sees them misbehaving, but without effect; and when he appeals to Bony to call them to order, that eccentric individual merely looks at him with the tail of his eye, twists a blade of clover from one corner of his mouth to the other, and jogs on, apparently quite contented with the exertions of his four-footed aides-de-camp. By-theby, that fellow's conformation is most admirably adapted to this sort of country. He has no weight to carry ; nothing but his gun, game-bag, and shot-belt-his own attenuated skeleton counts for nothing; a mere piece of watch-spring mechanism invested with a suit of clothes, and dartin g over hedge and ditch with leaps that would have astonished Mazurier, or Spring-heeled Jack.
Hallo! there's something in the wind. Doublenose is on the alert. As for the other two curs they are fidgetting and fretting about, not knowing what to make of it. Bravo ! Doublenose- Whirr ! whirr ! whirr ! Right, left, and centre. A whole bevy of quails. Bang, bang.
There they are—down. "Bring 'em here, sirrah !" cries O'Grady. "By the powers, Bony, your dogs are biting them! Muerden los cornizes. I'll shoot you, if you do, you villains. Ah then! what's the use of bringing out such curs at all ?”
And he looks shillelaghs at the offending dogs, and thunderbolts at his friend Bony, who with his usual phlegm, is reloading his long Spa
O'Grady and I have a couple of very decent English fowling-pieces, but Bony's weapon is the most extraordinary machine possible to be imagined, with a tremendous long single barrel inlaid with silver, and a stock carved and cut into all sorts of fantastical animals and monsters. He has got a tolerable French double-barrel at home, a present from O'Grady, who told me that he had vainly endeavoured to persuade him to bring it. He preferred the production of native talent, the crocodile gun, as O'Grady called it—there was an alligator, or something like it, carved upon the butt-which bore the mark of the famous manufactory at Eybar; and if it was no beauty, he nevertheless managed to make it do execution. To be sure, Bony was a capital shot, as most of his countrymen are.
The province of Guipuzcoa is, generally speaking, so mountainous, that it is a relief to the eye to get into a valley like that which we were now traversing, where we could
look straight forward instead of looking up. It is a fertile and bea tract the valley of Loyola, as indeed are all the Guipuzcoan valleys, possessing as they do, the double advantage of a rich soil, and, which is far rarer in Spain, an industrious population. Corn, maize, hemp, and flax, are the chief productions ; few vines, except those which are everywhere seen trailing and twining
over the cottage-doors and walls, not sufficient to make wine of, and if made, it is execrably bad. But the most picturesque feature of the province is the magnificent apple-orchards, yielding immense quantities of cider, and extending in some places for miles; most beautiful in spring, when covered with their white and pink blossom, but scarcely less so now, that they are laden with ruddy fruit, and that some of the leaves are beginning to assume the yellow and russet hues of autumn. The valley undulates gently in alternate hollows and slopes, every leaf and blade of grass heavy with dew, and glittering in the sunbeams that dart through the branches of the apple-trees, under which we are passing. The fresh exhilarating feeling of that most delightful period of the day, the first two hours after sunrise, communicates itself to us. O'Grady strides out, with his impudent Irish nose an inch or two higher in the air than I had ever before seen it, looking, if possible, more good-humoured and confident in himself than usual ; even our cynical saturnine Spaniard has an expression of contentment, almost of enjoyment upon his ugly visage. He occasionally pulls an apple from a tree as he passes, and bites into it, but then throws it away in disgust. Those cider-apples are beautiful to look at, but vilely bitter and crabbed to the taste. Now and then, however, one meets amongst them a tree that has crept in, Heaven knows how, and that bears the most delicious fruit I ever tasted; something between the refreshing acid of our Ripstones and the fragrance of an American pippin. And it is one of those that Bony has now hit upon, for I see him filling the pockets of his loose lambskin-jacket. O'Grady and I follow his example, and mindful of the heat that we shall ere long have to encounter, pluck some of the refreshing fruit, and consign them to the pockets of the linen-blouses or frocks, which, with trousers of the same material, and straw hats, compose our elegant costume.
After breakfasting at a peasant's cottage upon some excellent white bread, a garlic flavoured sausage, and a draught of cider, we continued our sport with tolerable success till we heard noon chimed out from various church and convent clocks. By that time the heat began to be exe cessive-we could see it dancing in the air above the stubble fields the dogs gasped and panted, and we ourselves felt the necessity of getting out of the sunbeams. We began looking for some sheltered spot where we might repose for two or three hours, till the sultriness of the day was gone by; nor were we long in finding it. Bony, who knew every inch of the country, soon led us to a grass-covered bank, which sloped gently upwards to the distance of a hundred or two yards from the river. Clumps of oak and walnut were sprinkled over the rising ground, a thick line of hazel and briar-bushes, overgrown with honeysuckles, fringed the margin of the stream, which at that point spreads out into a broad pool, dotted here and there with water-lilies, and teeming with fish. Amongst some flowering reeds and irises at the farther side of the river, we perceived a solitary heron angling for his dinner, and from time to time the kingfishers Hashed their brilliant colours in our eyes, as they skimmed across the surface of the water.
On this pleasant spot we established ourselves, under the shadow of a huge oak, threw off our belts and game-bags, and lay for some three hours, chatting, smoking, and dozing. I would willingly have remained twice as long, so delightful was it in the cool shade of the old