The rain-cloud is gone. The days are bright, warm, and clear, and every hour tempts me forth to wander about the hills. It is not spring, but the hesitancy that holds before the season changes; yet each day there are new flowers—not our delicate wood flowers, but larger and coarser of fibre, and it adds a charm to them that I do not know their names. The trees are budding, and here and there, like a wave breaking into foam on a windless sea, an almond has burst into blossom, white and solitary on the gray slopes, and over all the orchards there is the faint suggestion of pale pink, felt more than seen, so vague is it—but it is there. I go wandering by cliff or sea-shore, by rocky beds of running water, under dark-browed caverns, and on high crags; now on our cape, among the majestic rocks, I watch the swaying of the smooth deep-violet waters below, changing into indigo as they lap the rough clefts, or I loiter on the beach to see the fishers about their boats, weather-worn mariners, and youths in the fair strength of manly beauty, like athletes of the old world: and always I bring back something for memory, something unforeseen.
I have ever found this uncertainty a rare pleasure of travel. It is blessed not to know what the gods will give. I remember once in other days I left the beach of Amalfi to row away to the isles of the Sirens, farther down the coast. It was a beautiful, blowing, wave-wild morning, and I strained my sight, as every headland of the high cliff-coast was rounded, to catch the first glimpse of the low isles; and there came by a country boat-load of the peasants, and in the bows, as it neared and passed, I saw a dark, black-haired boy, bare breast, and dreaming eyes, motionless save for the dipping prow—a figure out of old Italian pictures, some young St. John, inexpressibly beautiful. I have forgotten how the isles of the Sirens looked, but that boy’s face I shall never forget. It is such moments that give the Italy of the imagination its charm. Here, too, I have similar experiences. A day or two ago, when the bright weather began, I was threading the rough edge of a broken path under the hill, and clinging to the rock with my hand. Suddenly a figure rose just before me, where the land made out a little farther on a point of the crag, so strange that I was startled; but straightway I knew the goatherd, the curling locks, the olive face, the garments of goatskin and leather on his limbs. It came on me like a flash—eccola the country of Theocritus!