Crabbed age and youth cannot live together;
Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.
Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and age is tame.
They had ridden but a short way, when Lady Mabel, reining in her horse, placed herself along side of Moodie, to ask how he felt now. She feared lest he might be too unwell to undergo the fatigues of the day. But, thanks to L’Isle’s prescription, Moodie was already another man. He sat bolt upright in the saddle, with a martial air, and looked around as if ready for any emergency. She no longer felt any fears for him. His curiosity, too, seemed to be awakened, for he said: “You are a great botanist, my lady, and know every kind of plant. Pray, what were those two tall trees near the farmer’s house, with bare trunks and feathery tops?”
“They are date palms,” said Lady Mabel. “You see more and more of them the nearer you get to Africa.”
“Indeed!” said Moodie, with more astonishment than the information seemed to warrant.
“Yes,” she continued; “and they bear a luscious and nourishing fruit, which, in the deserts of Africa, is the chief food of the people. It is to them what oatmeal is to the Scot.”
“And how far are we from Africa?” said Moodie, dreading the answer, but striving to put the question in an indifferent tone.
“Why some people say that Africa begins at the Pyrenees, but Colonel L’Isle, who knows the country thoroughly, says that the Sierra de Monchique is the true boundary. The kingdom of Algarve, lying beyond those mountains, is, in climate, soil, and vegetation, truly African; and it is only the strip of salt water that separates it from Morocco, that prevents its forming part of that country.”
“I never heard of the kingdom of Algarve before,” said Moodie, pondering the information he had received. “How far are we from it?”
“We will not find it a long day’s journey to one of the chief towns,” said Lady Mabel. “Its name—its name is Mauropolis, the city of the Moors. It lies on the border of Algarve, just like Berwick on the border of Scotland, only Algarve is a beautiful and fertile country, which poor Scotland is only to a Scot.”
“It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest,” growled Moodie in an undertone. “Have you forgot, my lady, that you are yourself a Scot!”
“A Scot!” said she, deliberately, as if now first considering that point. “My mother was an Englishwoman. So far, I am not a Scot.”
“But your father! Your father, my lady!” Moodie angrily exclaimed. “He is a true Scot, and knows the worth of old Scotland well.”