The departure to the train was most amusing—all the swells, including Bartet, walking in the cortege, escorted by a torch-light procession, and surrounded by the entire population of La Ferte.
The Grande Rue was illuminated from one end to the other, red Bengal lights throwing out splendidly the grand old chateau and the towers of Notre Dame.
A CORNER OF NORMANDY
BAGNOLES DE L’ORNE, July-August.
It is lovely looking out of my window this morning, so green and cool and quiet. I had my petit dejeuner on my balcony, a big tree in the garden making perfect shade and a wealth of green wood and meadow in every direction, so resting to the eyes after the Paris asphalt. It seems a very quiet little place. Scarcely anything passing—a big omnibus going, I suppose, to the baths, and a butcher’s cart. For the last ten minutes I have been watching a nice-looking sunburned girl with a big straw hat tied down over her ears, who is vainly endeavouring to get her small donkey-cart, piled high with fruit and vegetables, up a slight incline to the gate of a villa just opposite. She has been struggling for some time, pulling, talking, and red with the exertion. One or two workmen have come to her assistance, but they can’t do anything either. The donkey’s mind is made up. There is an animated conversation—I am too high up to hear what they say. Finally she leaves her cart, ties up her fruit in her apron, balances a basket of eggs with one hand on her head, and disappears into the garden behind the gate. No one comes along and the cart is quite unmolested. I think I should have gone down myself if I had seen anyone making off with any of the fruit. It is a delightful change from the hot stuffy August Paris I left yesterday. My street is absolutely deserted, every house closed except mine, the sun shining down hard on the white pavement, and perfect stillness all day. The evenings from seven till ten are indescribable—a horror of musical concierges with accordions, a favorite French instrument. They all sit outside their doors with their families and friends, playing and singing all the popular songs, and at intervals all joining in a loud chorus of “Viens Poupoule.” Grooms are teaching lady friends to ride bicycles, a lot of barking, yapping fox-terriers running alongside. There is a lively cross-conversation going on from one side of the street to the other, my own concierge and chauffeur contributing largely. Of course my balcony is untenable, and I am obliged to sit inside, until happily sleep descends upon them. They all vanish, and the street relapses into perfect silence. I am delighted to find myself in this quiet little Norman bathing-place, just getting known to the French and foreign public.