Although the little cemetery on the bluff was like scores of others I had seen in France—a bit of rough neglected field with small wooden crosses rising above the long herbage, tangled with flowers that love the waste places, I yielded to the charm of that old simplicity which is ever young and beautiful. I strolled amongst the grave mounds, and passing the sunny spot where the dead children of the village lay side by side, under the golden flowers of St. John’s-wort, reached the edge of the rock, whose dark nakedness was hidden by reddening sedum, and looked at the wave-like hills, their yellow cornfields, vine terraces and woods, the gray-green roofs of the houses below, and lower still the stream flashing along through a desert of pebbles.
Descending to the valley, I noticed the number and beauty of the vine trellises in the village. One, commencing at a Gothic archway, extended from wall to wall far up a narrow lane, and here the twilight fell an hour too soon. I wandered down to the pebbly shore of the Rance, where bare-footed children, sent out to look after pigs and geese, were building castles with the many-coloured stones, while others on the rocky banks above were singing in chorus, like a somewhat louder twittering of sedge warblers from the fringe of willows. I wandered on until all was quiet save the water, and returned to the inn when the fire on the hearth was sending forth a cheerful red glow through the dusk. The soup was bubbling in the chain pot, and a well-browned fowl was taking its final turns upon the spit.
I dined with a commercial traveller, one who went about the country in a queer sort of vehicle containing samples of church ornaments and sacerdotal vestments. His business lay chiefly with the rural clergy, and, like most people, he seemed convinced that circumstances had pushed him into the wrong groove, and that he had remained in it too long for him to be able to get out of it. For twenty years he had been driving over the same roads, reappearing in the same villages and little towns, watching the same people growing old, and spending only three months of the year with his family in Toulouse. He declared the life of a commercial traveller, when the novelty of it had worn down, to be the most abominable of all lives. He was one of the most pleasant, and certainly the most melancholy, of commercial travellers whom I had met in my rambles. He left the impression on me that there was more money to be made nowadays in France by travelling with samples of eau de vie and groceries than with church candlesticks and chasubles. Nevertheless, although he had his private quarrel with destiny, he was not at all a gloomy companion at dinner.