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that something, not being English, is, there- old man wanders up and down, stopping fore, of little worth, I heard him say, “ Very before every woman he meets, exclaiming: small"; and the tall lady answered, “Very." “ Beautiful lady! eighty-six years!” Boys, But I got sympathy from the little old wo- in a friendly tone of equality, suggest that it man in a white night-cap, who swept the would be well for them to have a little cake, church out one morning when I was draw- and the man who officially gathers up the ing there, and took much pains to spare me ill-smelling things from off the beach will the dust. At first she pretended to be stop beside you and recount that fact, and modest, and spoke of the church as good show you his unsavory trophies, and wait. enough for the country, but not to compare I never heard a more expressive sound than with the fine city ones, “ where the altars his grunt, when he saw we should give him are all glowing with flowers, and the Ma- nothing; it expressed all his detestation of donnas have such splendid clothes!” But foreign avarice. when she found I really thought it beauti- When we first arrived we were much imful, she grew quite confidential, put her rosy, pressed with the politeness of the children; wizened face close to mine, and told me all the little blue blouses wished us goodhow very old it was, how they were not rich day in such pretty ways;. but the one enough to do all that is needed, at once, sou!” which often jumped out with its little but each year they do something to repair cloven foot, in spite of fear of the law, it, “and it goes on growing nobler.” Such spoiled the pleasure. I was actually startled a phrase for her to use! I think I must by the fierce demand for sous made by boys have been in a clairvoyant state, since I un- running after the diligence; they were comderstood her, speaking her strange patois, munists in small, already. without any teeth. She was a dear little It is hard to describe the attractiveness of thing—a picture, in her cap and blue dress, the bathing scene, so much of it lies in the with her pink cheeks, and her broom. 1 beauty of the little bay. The beach is very have not ceased to regret that I did not clean, no ugly, ill-smelling rolls of sea-weed have a sou or two to give her a little pleas- about; the green water comes softly inure; for they are all ready to accept sous, pure and sparkling. The beach shelves whether they ask for them or not. Signs very rapidly, and the spectators sit as if at by the road-side say that “ Begging is for- a show, one above another, comfortably bidden in this department"; but they get stretched on the clean pebbles, seeing all the better of that—they “ distinguish.” One without trouble. Here, shaded under parasols of every hue from white to red, many pudgy, white-gloved hand. But most conspend hours watching their fellow-creatures founding sight to Saxon eyes is the heavy splashing in the water, commenting on their black mustache, who owns the smallest neighbors, and examining new-comers. There poodle in the town and leads him by a are the mingled pleasures of beautiful scen- red ribbon, and is now to be seen clingery, delicious air, personal ease, the satisfac- ing convulsively to the bathing-man, whose tion of seeing others appear ridiculous while hand is under his chin, as he patiently you are quietly respectable, and full store of tries to teach him to swim. The contormaterial for gossip, which, of course, was tions of those unwise enough to try the freely used, though what we heard was of torture of walking barefoot on the shingle the mildest and most Christian kind. are irresistible. I defy the best heart not
Through this chattering crowd, white- to laugh when a bearded young Englishrobed figures with hideous head-dresses come man gives in, and creeps up on hands and stealing down, absolutely delightful in oddi- feet; or a dignified gentleman, of mature ties of figure and movement, especially age, submits to be brought up pickaback when the wind seizes them. The bathing- by one of the bathing-men. These men men wait for them at the water's edge, take live in the water the summer through, yet off these white wrappers, and henceforth one has survived to reach his seventieth manage them like dolls or babies, only prac- year, and be gay still. They keep up a conticed swimmers being allowed to go outside stant chatter, and feel they fill a place in the the two boats anchored thirty or forty feet world's eye. So they shout to the far-off from shore. One has a curious interest in swimmers, and clap for a good dive, and recognizing, in his striped red-and-white encourage all without ceasing. tights, the man who lives over the haber- Their health is carefully looked after by dasher's shop, opposite the hotel, and feels the inspector of the baths; they are not pleased to see how well he dives. Then allowed to go in for two hours after eathow surprising to see what an excellent ing, and drink no cau de vie, but “ cosy' swimmer is the fat woman with a hooked themselves with warm milk before going to nose, who ordinarily walks so heavily on bed. Two of them bear the singular name terra firma, clad in a red dress and red-soled of Zéphire, and one wonders how such a bit. shoes, and bearing a red parasol in her of classicality drifted up to this northern
shore. When the waves are high, the few much commotion for the next day's trip. bathers are forced to have a rope around The pulling up is always an affair worth their waists, or be held by their hands in the watching. The spokes of the capstan are surf; and we saw a most amusing struggle pushed slowly around by men and women. between a resentful Englishman and the The thing creaks and moans, and the boat bathing-men asserting their authority. They creeps up the beach to the dry line. It conquered, and he walked like a criminal must be very hard work, and some enlightinto the water. I have no doubt he swears, ened destroyer of the picturesque will, no to this day, whenever he thinks of it. doubt, soon teach them better ways.
Among the pleasures of the beach, and In the spring the fleet sails to the North one not to be despised, is that of throwing Sea for herring, and in the winter all the stones. It was droll to see that it had its men go off to the great ports, even as hours, as well as the bathing_after break- far as Hamburg, to ship for the cod fishfast and after dinner every one on the beach eries. These are times of dismal anxiety threw stones. Some filled holes, some tried for the women. The Society for Mutual Aid with a second to hit a first before it fell, has a thatched boat on the beach, nicely some contented themselves with hitting the fitted up with seats inside, and here the sea, but the same devotion moved them wives of the captains sit waiting when the all; and soon the bidden necessity seized fleet is reported near, to give warning to you, too, and you became one of the band. the other women. Many a tale of loss do
Next to this quarter of bathing, and chat- they have to hear. Even in midsummer, ting, and leisure comes that of the fishing- we saw before us a scene of watching indicboats, with all their attendant quaintnesses. ative of distress. What were they waiting Here it is all work, but what you may call for ? Was the boat to bring in food to gentle work, with plenty of talk and rest hungry children, or what had happened? between whiles. No one hurries. There But before we could reach them they were is no anchorage, and each time the boats gone. return they are pulled up the beach by The summer is the men's holiday season. means of whining capstans, there to lie Then they make but short trips each day, safely till they are slid down again with and spend the rest of the time in weaving
and repairing nets and mending their boats boats, which are one of the marked characand tackle. Each boat has one hundred teristics of the place.
teristics of the place. They are patched and twenty nets. One hunchbacked old and weather-stained, and, from their shape, man was always at work on them on the may have been the craft of the immediate beach, and there he had done the same for descendants of the vikings, when they gave thirty years. Behind this lively scene, next up the griffins' heads at their prows and
road, was an irregular line of old took to fishing instead of harrying the
coasts, They are roofed with mossy thatch, water—the last trickling, possibly, of the out of which grow grass and flowers in stream which long ago flowed out of the which there was always busy life of birds, valley. One would say the natives of the even grass sparrows' nests, I think. These place never sleep at all in summer. Both boats are used as store-houses for nets and fishermen and washerwomen keep the hours tackle. St. Sauveur is the patron of fisher- of the tide, and one can hear the squeaking men, and on his fête there was a grand of the capstans, and see the glimmer of service in the church, music by the dreadful lanterns, at any time of night the sea devillage band, and a quête by the demoi- mands. One of the women told me they selles Offenbach. It was curious to see such were often too tired to eat, but would fall a name posted on the church door as taking asleep for two or three hours till they woke a part. Perhaps they kept off, by such pious with a start to be off to the beach again. The offices, the danger from their father's evil weights of wet linen they carry are enormous. eye. Every one in Etretat believed he It is a pity they have given up their had it, on account of the cold and sinister old costume; a primitive white nightexpression of his large blue eyes. After cap is the nearest approach they have. the service, the sailors carried to every house About mourning they are very punctilious. the cakes which had been blessed by the I met a funeral procession one day which priests. These were dressed with sugar exceeded in gloom anything I had ever jambs and birds, and there was a tall canopy The women were shrouded in long of flowers over them. I think the sailors black cloaks with hoods, and walked in got a good deal of money, at least from close lines; they seemed to darken every foreigners. The French are decidedly face as they passed. I wondered if, in careful of their small change. The men Japan (is it?), a procession clothed in green grew very cheerful with the healths they would have the same effect, or one in white drank, and became quite intimate and com- in China. The women here grow old early, plimentary. After this, there was an inspec- for their hard work tells, but some of the tion of the custom-house corps, consisting of faces were very attractive with good-nature six men, and a procession of everybody, and intelligence. The artist of our party, preceded by the town band, each instru- painting among the drying fields of the ment of which went independently through beach, had a talk with one of them about the music. We had still greater gayeties the education of her son, who wished to when Monsieur Casimir Perier was made learn Greek and Latin, and her statement deputy, and there were illuminations, and of reasons why English or German would the band from Fécamp came over to assist be better for him was entirely to the point. Etretat's in playing the Marseillaise in his What a place in which to hear the pros and garden. It seemed a very innocent thing cons of the new education ! to do, yet how little while ago it would In contrast to the beach, the falaise is very have been sedition ! We were at Etretat solitary, at least to some people. But those ten weeks, and during that time there were who enjoy sea and sky, and wild flowers six gay holidays when nobody would do nestling in the grass, and sweeping gulls.
One of them was the day of and soft, distant sounds of country life. “La Première Communion,” when the pro- find the high cliff-edges full of companioncession of boys and girls in white went ship. Those who have the key, who besinging up the hill at the edge of the sea to lieve there is some kinship in all life, and the chapel at the top, there to receive their some purpose, too, can recall many an hour special blessing.
whose sweet serenity came from a sense of In the summer the women appear to be finest sympathy with dumb and what we harder worked than the men ; they not only call inanimate nature. The fine air of the wash, but they help pull up the boats and downs is absolutely indescribable. mend the nets. They have possession of I use the word downs, yet I think that one end of the beach, not only to cover word is properly applied only to large tracts great spaces with white things drying, but, of high, uncultivated, turfy ground; whereas curious to see, to wash there. As the tide here such ground is limited to a strip somefalls they appear from the town, carrying times a quarter of a mile wide, sometimes huge bundles on their shoulders and spades much less, along the cliffs, and to patches in their hands. They go to the very edge on the valley-sides where the gorse and of the sea and there dig their impromptu broom and scrub-oak have too strong a wash-tubs, which fill at once with sweet hold to be rooted out. The rest of the