Abbildungen der Seite

been introduced into Lord Reay's country. The narrator was surprised by the appearance of a large column of nearly a thousand deer passing out of the country in a steady and determined emigration. Disgusted by the invasion of sheep and dogs, they had collected from all parts, and unable to find clean ground, continued their march to the west, dispersing into the most solitary glens, from whence they never returned. This determined abhorrence to sheep does not arise merely from the disturbance of their collies. The deer are very delicate in their food, and exceedingly fastidious in the purity of their pasture; independent, therefore, of the severe diminution of their best provision caused by the close feeding of the sheep, they cannot endure the oily rancour of their wool, and the additional abomination of its tar and butter. From the absence of these disgusting concommitants they exhibit no antipathy to black cattle, but will herd with them in perfect harmony.-Lays of the Deer Forest.



Wherein the Pigskins rest a day at Abbeville-visit Vatel-and Pigskin admits "Que Tout Cela est Change"--the "Cela" doubtless meaning all things on the continent.

The ancient city of Abbeville is neither particularly lively or particularly interesting, the object, however, which induced our amiable friend Piggy to remain there even thirty-six hours, was quite sufficient to make the time pass rapidly if not altogether agreeably, and Mrs. Piggy by no means grumbled at this her first day in France, while the Roaster declared it was on the whole jolly.

City, did I say? Abbeville is simply an industrious country town, revelling in cloth and wool; capital its true of the district, washed by the river Somme, boasting of the ancient gothic church of St. Vulfrau, the façade of which is splendid, the interior sad, uninteresting, and in decay; built during the reign of Louis XII., under the auspices of Cardinal Amboise, and strange to say, neglected by one who rarely neglects ancient buildings of the past-Napoleon the present.

The town was, or rather is fortified by Vauban, though the glacis may be now said to be converted into hay-fields, and the ramparts shady walks a town pleasant possibly to youth, intensely dull to

maturer age.



We find the Pigkins located at the Tète de Bœuf, or Head," as explained to the Roaster. They have breakfasted, Piggy moderately, yet by no means satisfactory; Mrs. Piggy good-humourdly, the Roaster sumptuously, as did his dad some thirty years lang syne. Piggy was evidently ill at ease, and after putting away a "bifsteck," which he pronounced horse-flesh, he thus expressed himself:

"Tatty, darling; thank God you are not changed in heart since our marriage day, very little in person; but as for Abbeville, this hotel, which I once knew so well, the food, the beds, the charges, it is no more the Abbeville of my boyhood than I am the Emperor."

[ocr errors]

"Well, dear, both persons and countries do change as years pass, and recollect we see things under a brighter aspect at fourteen than forty-five."

"Agreed, my dear; but coffee and beefsteaks are coffee and beefsteaks in 1869, or ought to be, and better too than they were in 1829; so put on your bonnet, or hat, or whatever the female head-gear may be now denominated, and let us try and discover if my old friends are dead or much changed, and whether the house in which I lived and laughed is still inhabited by any of the Quequovillers family.

The day was hot and dusty when the Pigskin family went forth on their ramble in the streets of Abbeville; and I would here refer to my having said when commencing these pages, that I was merely relating facts passed and present, and endeavouring to do so in simple language, as if I were telling the tale by word of mouth to an attentive listener. One thing is clear throughout, Piggy was determined not to recollect that hours, days, and years pass rapidly away, and all things change for good or evil, better or worse; in fact, as he walked with wife and son through the streets of his ancient abode, he appeared entirely to forget that when he did so last he was scarcely older than the precious Roaster he held by the hand, or that the woman he loved was unknown to him. Thus the streets were more narrow and dirty, and the ancient church not by one half so grand as when he paid a penny for a chair to watch the mummery and look at the girls. And is it not so with us all? Unquestionably so, though we may not all retain the bright heart and spirit as did Piggy.

After innumerable unsuccessful inquiries, the Quequovillers family appeared to be extinct as far as Abbeville was concerned; but after a hot and tedious search, the house where Pigskin's early sporting escapades and pleasant suppers took place was discovered.

Have any of my readers ever returned after long years of absence to any spot to which in their youthful days they have been attached, and over which early reminiscences had cast the most agreeable picture, and found how changed the scene which the mind had painted? Such was precisely poor Piggy's state as he looked once more on the abode of the wool merchant, Chevalier, as he and thousands of others are by the wearing of a red ribbon in France.

The so-called trout-stream which ran in imagination of former days as a clear and flowing water, was now simply an all but stagnant, dirty, bad-smelling, narrow canal, which glided sluggishly through the outskirts of the town. The rampart near at hand, from which in his young days he had looked on the distant country, was now so overgrown with trees as to convert the work of Vauban into a shady walk, and the house which in other times the good Piggy was wont to describe as a château, was now converted into a moderate-sized abode, with a portico, which Piggy entered with wife and child; but those who had made it pleasant lang syne were gone, who could say where. Meanwhile Piggy accosted an individual washing bottles at the entrance, and incourteous though ill-expressed terms in French endeavoured to convey to him the fact of his residence there in other days.

On which the Frenchman, with the "proverbial politeness" of his countrymen in these days of liberty, shrugged his shoulders, and say

"Ma fois, allez ou vous voulez," handled his bottles and retired.
If the house looked smaller and duller, the trees in the garden larger,
the once bright stream more dirty and sluggish, it was there that
Piggy had revelled in boyhood cheerfully; there was the window
through which when mounting a hired hack the beast had reared, fallen
back, and smashed-and but for his agility in slipping off he never
would have looked up again; there was the room in which the supper
had taken place, all was there in reality, but nothing as imagination
and early recollection had pictured it to his fair sposa; and on leaving
the abode he sat himself down on the wall which bordered the stream
and fairly cried. And so is it, I take it, with all things in this world,
that which the mind sketches so brightly is after all, when long years
have elapsed, but a dull caricature.

"Halloa, Dad," said the Roaster, "what's the matter?"
"Nothing, my child, simply reminiscences of the past, when I
was almost as young and cheery as you-pray God that you may be
ever so! And now let us try and find out Vatel."

The baron had long since quitted the neighbourhood, where it was impossible to discover, but after many inquiries, the abode of Vatel, still living, and still acting in his professional capacity, was discovered, and the trio proceeded there, and found the good man at home.

Would that my pen could describe the meeting! I fear my endeavour will be weak.

On entering a grocer's shop, over which he resided, and appealing to the grocer, who was occupied in weighing brown sugar, Vatel was announced as at home. 66 Oui, Monsieur: Monsieur Vatel est chez lai-au quatrième-porte à gauche." So to the quatrième the party ascended up a narrow dirty staircase, the Roaster repeatedly asserting he was hot, tired, and thirsty; while his Dad was all eagerness and anxiety to meet his ancient friend, whom time had only converted into a rare specimen of virtue.

Now, permit me briefly to remark, that when the friends had parted with boyhood's sorrow, Vatel was a large-boned, large mouthed, large eyed, large hearted lad; spare in person, and free in manner, rather below the common height of man. Piggy pulls the bell with a nervous hand and fluttering heart, ready at once to receive his foreign camerado, as if a quarter of a century had not caused the slightest change, forgetting how unlike was he to the young Piggy, who had last bid adieu to the descendant of Prince Condé's famous artist, and ready to take him warmly by the hand, perhaps, give him a friendly poke in the ribs with "Comment ce va, Vatel, my boy?"

The door, after a second pull, is opened. Behold the Vatel of the day we live in, had he swallowed all the ragouts, vol-au-vents, and potages ever invented by his illustrious ancestor, it would scarcely have been believed that they or time had so converted him into a positive ball of human flesh. In fact, when the door was opened, and a short baldheaded, grey-haired, corpulent individual, as broad as he was long, stood before our amiable Piggy, I do believe that had he been in England, both he, his sposa, and his Roaster would have imagined that Vatel kept a "butler." His voice, however, was not much changed, and on the information being requested as to whether he could do anything for the strangers, and to what he was indebted for the

[merged small][ocr errors]

honour of their visit, Piggy could refrain no longer, but bursting into loud laughter, exclaimed, "Mon cher Vatel! do you forget your sporting friend of other days, whom you were wont to address as the adorable Lord Ecossai, Piggy."

"Piggy, Monsieur Piggy," said the good man, putting his hand to his forehead," Piggy! Entré Madame, je vous pric; entré dans mon pauvre apartment. Piggy!"

Oui, mon cher, Vatel, I must endeavour to recal your recollection to other days." The Quequovillers, Baron Seagull. our sports, our supper, our escapades, and above all the pleasant details you were wont to give of your celebrated ancestor; true, long years have elapsed since last we met, and in person you are much changed, but in heart I trust not.'

A new light all at once seemed to brighten o'er the florid face of the good Vatel, and in an instant, as is the fashion of our neighbours, not a pleasant one as regards the male portion of La Belle France, he threw his lusty person into the arms of his ancient friend, much to the astonishment, if not jealousy of Mrs. Piggy and the Roaster thence he sat himself down on an old fautenil, and literally burst into tears.

"Pardon, Madame, pardon my friend," said he, "those pleasant days come back forcibly to my recollection. But there have been many changes; and yet, rejoiced am I to find you so well and apparently so happy; this charming lady is, I take it, your wife, and this beau garçon heir to all your virtues and estates. You find me, doubtless, older and much altered in person since the days we were wont to cross the marches for woodcocks and snipes, which you and Mac shot, and mon Dieu with what gusto I was wont to eat them. For years have I slaved on in my official capacity, and so will it be to the end; a few more francs per annum, less wants, and lighter work, is all my recompence."

[ocr errors]

"Well, mon cher Vatel, I am rejoiced to find that, if you are changed in person, you are not in heart. I cannot, however, say the same as regards Abbeville, or indeed, La Belle France, as far as I can judge. Since we landed; indeed, I had great difficulty in discovering the old house, and as for the Têtè de Bœuf' where we are staying, the 'Bull's Head' of our days is as much changed to what we then were. Such as it is, however, you must come and dine with us, and we will talk over other days, and drink a bottle of the best wine the landlord can produce."

"Most willingly," said Vatel, "though I confess to my having eaten my potage, bouilli, and salad some hours since; however, it is now nearly seven, and I know that is the aristocratic hour."

"Yes, indeed, even eight appears too early for the London season; but come Vatel, no dressing, I shall not let you leave us till we are off to the Imperial City."

Dinner over, which Piggy pronounced quite unequal to those he had eaten in days lang syne, the two friends smoked their cigars, and talked over other days, long after the Roaster and his mother had retired for the night.


Bright was the summer's morning that Vatel, with a sorrowful face, bid adieu on the railway station to his early friend, and although the

Pigskins earnestly and sincerely entreated him to pay a visit to Heatherland Hall, he felt too surely as he walked leisurely back to his dry every-day duties of his office, that he had looked on Piggy for the last time.

Onwards the train rushed to Amiens, Creil, and Paris, not particularly smoothly, for of all the lines on which it has been my lot to travel, I know of none wherein the traveller is so cruelly shaken; and while Piggy referred once more to the days when he and Mac had travelled together over the route on the coupé of a diligence, and had their noses examined at St. Denis.

The Roaster, and with some reason, declared that the trees were not so large, and the fields were not so pretty as those of his Scotch


Moreover, he saw no mountains, and if the truth be told, I fancy rather wished himself back again. At length, however, Paris was entered, that city of delight, beauty, and amusement to thousands, ruin and demoralisation to not a few, an interminable delay for luggage, and thence a pleasant drive down the Rue de Rivoli, and they are comfortably lodged at the Hotel Choiseul, Rue St. Honoré. Thither Piggy had been recommended by a friend to go, and there he went. I am well aware that it is the fashion (to use that odious word) adopted by both English, Americans, and men of high and low degree to select the "Grand Hotel." To those who visit Paris for a day or two, with long purses, and who desire to be seen rather than see, and who find some pleasure in being hoisted up and down to their apartments instead of using their legs, and to dine daily in a dull overdecorated room, with fifty strangers, at a price for which they can dine far better elsewhere, it is unquestionably the Albergo for selection. Moreover, to some it may be vastly agreeable to lounge in a large courtyard like a green-house, through which, if in the right quarter, the wind rushes, and criticize their neighbours, as the general company, for the most part, appear to have nothing on earth to do save to smoke and idle.

Piggy, however, was a wiser man. He came to Paris to please his wife and child, to see the French Derby at Chantilly, and the Grand Prix at Longchamps. Whether he succeeded in all this-for a monkey-is yet to be told. At all events they found themselves comfortably located, and after a good dinner, which Piggy pronounced as "something more like other days," and the Roaster "first-rate," a good night's rest prepared them for coming events. No sooner was a late breakfast over than the happy trio sallied forth, without aid of commissioner or intepreter; and crossing the Place Vendôme made their way up the Rue de la Baix towards the universal lounge of all foreignersthe Boulevardes des Italians. Meanwhile, I would observe that as I am describing the Pigskins, their doings and sayings, and not the City of Paris, we will not halt to gaze at the magnificent monument or at the New Opera House. But do what they really did to the delight of both mother and child, therefore much to Piggy's enjoyment alsolook into the innumerable well-arranged shops. While in this simple enjoyment, Piggy found his arm seized, and, looking round, discovered, as most people do in half-an-hour, a friend in Paris.

"My dear Piggy," he exclaimed, "what on earth has brought you

« ZurückWeiter »