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You boys think you know were long imposing buildings, everything. Why didn't you built of the light-coloured limetell me you couldn't drive?” stone, with stately pillared ver
I am relieved to remember andahs and balconies, much that probably Bobbie never ground round them, and a heard a word I was saying, for gorgeous view. Later on I to get angry when one is nerv visited an old servant who had ous is a most despicable fault, married a man
the and not even uncommon. strength," and when I heard
Thank goodness, there is they were in Malta, of course quite a steep bit of hill up to I went to see them. I found St George's Barracks, and the her in the married quarters panting exhausted animal came belonging to the artillerysuddenly to the conclusion that this also a delightful two-storied, , he could not cope with both flat - roofed building, - and Bobbie and the motor, so wisely Janet's quarters, two rooms gave it up, and stood still alto- on the upper storey, opening off gether. I got out, much re- the long balcony, and overlooklieved, and went to soothe the ing Marsamuscetto Harbour. excited beast; but it was quite So light, so airy, so dignified ! unnecessary – he was almost How indescribably better than asleep already! A very Napo- the workman's house at home, leon among horses! He could to which they would have to snatch a little slumber at any retire! It seemed to me the odd moment apparently. We contrast would be overpowerfound out later he had been a ing, in the squalid, huggerracehorse in his far past youth, mugger,
crowded slums at and that occasionally some- home. But with the usualthing would still remind him and in this instance perhaps of the fact, and then he demon- blessed-perversity, Janet was strated his latent remnant of only counting the months till powers wherever he happened she could exchange this beauto be. We got to know him tiful but “furrin ” place for well, for Octavia and I decided the home that seemed to mean to become carriage-folk in a so much to her. ginger-beer fashion, and hired I had said we would pick up Rip van Winkle, as we christ- Octavia and Miss Mason at ened him, the dog-cart, and a Musta on the way back from Maltese groom for £3 a month! Ghain Tuffeha. These church
These same St George's Bar- festas in Malta are picturesque racks are unlike any military but protracted affairs, so they barracks I have ever seen at would be there all afternoon. home, which always combine I knew by past experience exthe security of prison and the actly what it would be like. melancholy monotony of town The ecclesiastics in their gortenements with the architec- geous vestments, the many tural beauty of a factory. These coloured banners being carried
with difficulty in the everlast- a very different amusement ing wind, and the sombre from what we have at Sliema. rows of monks, make together Here one gets real sea-sidey a most decorative frieze of sea-shore, with a sloping beach colour against the pastel-col- and lovely sand. It is more oured houses, with probably fun in many ways, as there somewhere a vivid glimpse of are big waves to be leapt the sea. But the pace is of a over and dived through-altodreariness! At first this seems gether more like idealised home difficult to understand, but bathing. when the head of the proces The drive back to Musta began sion is past, one understands uneventfully, but pleasantly. why, for then follow the “set- Bobbie had given up feeling pieces,”
images from the it is the necessary manly part churches—many more than life- to do the driving, and with size-being carried along on my less ferocious handling, Van heavy draped platforms by the Winkle trots in his sleep. In staggering and perspiring de- a carrozza, the road to Musta vout. Their labour is not would be dull, for it is inland, entirely disinterested, for it and therefore entirely amongst wipes out, with the sweat of the endless stone walls, which the brow, many sins of the are just high enough to presoul. Most of the laymen tak- vent one seeing anywhere but ing part in these processions straight ahead. Even ahead are dressed in long gowns, with there is seldom much straight, pointed hoods pulled over head so in a low vehicle one seems and shoulders, having only eye- to be perpetually driving in a holes cut in the face. They stone maze-perhaps this is have a weirdly mediæval look, one of the most reasonable and remind me of the Vehm- excuses for P. and O. tourists gericht, Inquisition, and Autos- thinking Malta dull when they da-fé, and Octavia can't help try to see it in half a day bebelieving that most of them tween sailings. From our exwould still derive a holy satis- alted perch on the dog-cart, faction from burning her at the intermediate wall did not the stake.
matter, but even then one Octavia, being statistically drove in faith as to being on inclined, told us that Musta the right road, for the walls church had the third largest and perpetual turns hid the dome in the world, London's road ahead completely and St Paul only coming in fourth; shut it up behind, and in scancuriously enough, we had often ning the countryside there was heard about its enormous size, no other road visible but the but never of Musta's bare ex- quarter-mile stretch we were istence.
Van Winkle's dreams had Bathing at Ghain Tuffeha is evidently carried him back to
his happy childhood, and with- the extraordinary statues that out warning he started to re were carried laboriously along. act some glorious race of the I was looking at a Maltesepast. It was now Bobbie's English dictionary in the libturn to admire my driving ! rary one day, and I found a “ As you call him Van Winkle,” word : "tkandel—to carry anyscoffed Bobbie, “I suppose thing from one place to another that's why you let him rip !” frequently and with difficulty." There was no time for even a At the moment I wondered withering glance, for just then why they had thought of comwe were 'wheeling into Musta bining all that in one verb, but, as if we were rounding Tatten- of course, it must be to exham Corner. At the sight of press the frequent and laborious natives and dogs scuttling from business connected with their before me, my nerve gave way Church functions. in a manner to horrify Octavia, The next time I met Miss and I implored Bobbie to Mason, she confided to me how “ Take him ! stop him!” for extraordinarily ignorant most I couldn't hold on any longer. English people were about ScotAs Bobbie's large hands gath- land (being partly Scotch myered up the reins, I saw Oc- self, I am not in the indicttavia, Miss Mason, and the ment). Patapouffe offspring waving “At Musta the other day, and shouting to us to stop. Miss Fanning said to me, 'I Stop! Like the express train, suppose all this shocks you we did not even hesitate ! even more than me, for you Bobbie was now exerting all Scotch people are Lutherans, his strength on one rein only, aren't you?'” and Van Winkle, with his usual I grinned, and admitted that promptness of decision, agreed was rather a slip-up on Anglito stop rather than crick his can Octavia's part, and asked, neck, and almost at once fell“What did you say to that?" back into a gently ambling Miss Mason, with an expresjog-trot, and meekly returned sion of outraged sanctimoniousto Musta to pick up our nearly ness, replied: "I said, 'Oh marooned passengers.
dear, no ! we are Presbyterians. They were about replete with Lutherans ? I never even heard procession - gazing, and were of them.” both superiorly amusing about Honours easy!
Housekeeping under Dolores breakfast-time, and asked if was delightfully easy, if occa- we would like a rabbit, we sionally unexpected. For ex- assented, and went on with our ample, when she came to us at meal. But Dolores did not set
about the buying of it, but And the moral of that is, as said to Octavia, “Signora the Red Queen would say, how choose rabbit ?” and Octavia, unimaginative one
one is about who doesn't know a rabbit housekeeping and other everyfrom a hare, but has her dig. day affairs, accepting rabbits nity to consider, followed from the butchers as though Dolores to the front door. I they were the result of sponwent too, just to see Octavia taneous generation, or fell from impressing Dolores. How does heaven like the dew. one choose a rabbit! See if At first we were horribly the fur pulls out easily, or if worried by dreadful old hags, the tail springs back quickly, who, seeing us at the drawingor what? As it turned out, room window, would come up neither of these methods were the steps and stand outside practicable, for the rabbits were on the verandah, insisting on alive! They looked all the our buying oranges and onions, more alive, as they were all or objects more unknown. white, or black, or half and Mere waves of the hand, shakes half, not brown, like a decent of the head, and other efforts dead rabbit. Octavia recoiled of inarticulate denial were quite in horror, and refused to have without effect, and the uninone at all. That struck me as telligible patter went on, the sheer sentimentality-shooting toothless grin came nearer, and a wild rabbit who is quite the vended article finally branhappy in the woods is surely dished in our outraged faces. more barbarous than killing a One day, after bearing with poor little beast who is living one old beldam to the point miserably in a cage. I rather of exasperation, I went and wanted to buy and kill the fetched Carmėla. A few gutlot—but that would have been tural words from her acted as equally sentimental and more an incantation, and our verexpensive. So while Octavia andah was vacated, the hag moaned over my lack of heart, vanishing, never to return. I I stoically pointed out the asked Carmela what she had victim, choosing the smallest, said, but a shy smile was all most miserable-looking one, and the translation she gave. Then so falling from whatever place I induced her to teach me the I held in Dolores' esteem. We spell, which she did, much should not have been surprised against her will, and I became at this tame-rabbit trade-it sound-perfect in her Abracawould really have been much dabra remark. Octavia, for more surprising had it been once impressed by my superior otherwise,-for there are no knowledge, sat silently, watchwild uncultivated parts in ing the result. I had occasion Malta, and the ground is much to test its efficacy a day or too valuable to be handed over two later, when a cheerful but to the depredations of rabbits. villainous native took up her
stance at the open window. I I could have frightened myself tried a polite but forceful "Té” into nocturnal shivers, thinking several times, but it seemed of the Black Arrow or the merely to encourage her, for murder of Rizzio. Octavia, the bunch of oranges was fin- having ascertained that the ally deposited on my lap. Then door below and the one on I used my incantation slowly the roof was locked, slept unand conscientiously, and rather disturbed by historical or hysloudly, for I was somewhat terical ghosts. annoyed. Just as I was reciting, Mr Frendo-Falzon and the We meant to see and do Capitano came out on to their everything possible, but someadjoining verandah. I finished how one can't sight-see every the spell, and turned to greet day, and life fell into an almost my neighbours, but the spell home-like regularity, though in was more potent than I had every way so unlike home life. expected, for I had cleared For the first few weeks, at both verandahs! When the least, the morning's shopping Capitano anon emerged timidly, was in itself a joyous "out"! I asked him what I had said For although Dolores did the to produce so much effect; -literally—common or garden but he took refuge in his marketing, we were expected linguistic difficulties, first not to do the more fanciful parts understanding what I was ask- -like cakes at Blackley's, the ing, and then maintaining he English baker, and special did not know Maltese very groceries from either the Army well. When I meet the Choco- and Navy Stores, or a similar, late Soldier again, I shall ask but more essentially Maltese, him-he is less mealy-mouthed establishment, Mortimer's. Imin English than our polite ported goods of all kinds are Italian.
as dear as the local produce is
cheap, so those who will live The part of the house where upon tinned tongue instead of I really loved best to sit was goat, and tinned peas instead the roof. There is a little spiral of pumpkin, must find living stone stair that goes up the in Malta as dear as in England. back of the house, from the Our chief item of expense in . kitchen to the roof, with a door this line was tinned milk and half-way into a bedroom, and soda-water. We had been imthe back balcony. It was the pressed with the fact that we very stair for conspirators and must not touch goats' milk, assassins, and I don't believe especially when we heard that I should quite have enjoyed it was against the regulations sleeping in that back room for both Services; and as for the low door and small secret the soda-water, that was to stair were horribly reminiscent escape drinking boiled water, of “tushery” romances, and which was the alternative. I