First, for thy bees a quiet station find,
And lodge them under covert from the wind;
For winds, when homeward they return, will drive
The loaded carriers from their evening hive;
Far from the cows’ and goats’ insulting crew,
That trample down the flowers and brush the dew,
The painted lizard and the bird of prey,
Foes to the frugal kind, be far away—
The titmouse and the pecker’s hungry brood,
And Procne with her bosom stained with blood:
These rob the trading citizens, and bear
The trembling captives through the liquid air,
And for their callow young a cruel feast prepare.
* * * * *
Wild thyme and savory set around their cell,
Sweet to the taste and fragrant to the smell:
Set rows of rosemary with flowering stem,
And let the purple violet drink the stream.
The building before them had low, thick walls, of undressed stones, and a heavy roof over it covered with tiles. The door was shut, and the travelers could see nothing of the household; but the sharp, angry challenge of the canine sentinels within, who did not pause to listen for an answer, proved that the place was not without a garrison. Some premonitory drops began to fall from the cloud, which now overhung them. Tired of waiting, L’Isle was about to complete the investment by sending the muleteer round to the other side of the house, when he perceived two young round faces peeping out at a square hole in the wall that served for a window; a man’s voice was heard quieting the dogs, and a pair of sharp eyes were detected peering over the door, made too short for the doorway, perhaps for that purpose. The governor was evidently reconnoitering carefully the party outside. The result seemed, at length, to prove satisfactory, the presence of the ladies probably removing any fears of violence.
The door was thrown open, and one, who seemed to be the master of the house, stepped out with an air of frank hospitality to receive their request for shelter. Begging them to alight, he called out for “Manoel! Manoel!” who soon showed himself in the shape of a young clown, crawling out from behind a heap of straw in a neighboring shed, and who was ordered to assist in unloading the mules and taking care of the horses.
Tired and thirsty, and glad to find shelter, the ladies entered the house, where they were met by two young women, unmistakably the daughters of the host. Their sparkling eyes and coal-black hair, their round faces and regular features, were like his; and they were only less swarthy, from being less exposed to the sun. Their dress was in fashion, but commonly worn by the peasant women—the jacket and petticoat—but smarter, and of more costly stuffs than usual. Their feet, too, were bare, but small and well-formed, betraying little indurating familiarity with the rough paths around them.