Citation
Bebee or, Two little wooden shoes

Material Information

Title:
Bebee or, Two little wooden shoes
Portion of title:
Two little wooden shoes
Alternate title:
Bébée or, Two little wooden shoes
Creator:
Ouida, 1839-1908
Barry, Etheldred B ( Etheldred Breeze ), b. 1870 ( Illustrator )
Joseph Knight Company ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
Boston
Publisher:
Joseph Knight Company
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1895
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 255, [5] p. : ill. (some col.) ; 21 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Youth -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Abandoned children -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Orphans -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Kindness -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Flower vending -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Floriculturists -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Love -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Happiness -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Suicide -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Netherlands ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1896 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre:
Publishers' advertisements ( rbgenr )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Frontispiece printed in sepia.
General Note:
Publisher's advertisements follow text.
Statement of Responsibility:
a story by Louisa De la Ramé ("Ouida") ; illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002235210 ( ALEPH )
ALH5653 ( NOTIS )
13326702 ( OCLC )
06033374 ( LCCN )

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Full Text
: Sy On ee ee ie) ey eer





The Baldwin Library

University

RMB wisi





Bie BIE

Two LITTLE WOODEN SHOES.







BEBEE

Two LITTLE WoopDEN SHOES
A STORY

BY LOUISA DE LA RAME
(“OUIDA”)

Illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry
BOSTON

JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY
1896



CopyRIGHT, 1895
BY
JoserH Kyicut Company





ah ne ee Saag THIN go spa hen era GS

PAGE.
Bébée ; F 5 8 B . frontispiece.
Headpiece to List of ilusentions , , ; v
Tailpiece to List of Illustrations : , 2 F vii
Headpiece to ChapterI - S ; - 5 ; I
“ Old Antoine took it to his wife” : 3

“ Bébée when it trotted no higher has the ea carna-
tion heads” é . i 4

“ And there are a few eres and cabins here near
the pretty water” . . 5
“¢But there is nobody that has ne right’ ie Bébée” 12
“ My mother was a flower ’ 5 . , , 5 15
Tleadpiece to Chapter II. : : 7 ; , 20
“ She had to be active amidst them ”’ : ; 22
“The old man unlocked it with a trembling nance : 26
A bit of the Hotel de Ville f : 5 30

“The bright little cafés were thronged with anes
seekers ” 7 ‘i , ; 31

“ And all his spare time was isin up in ceeine his
cabbage plot and seeing to his beehives ” : 3 33
“Or a Gothic arch yawns beneath a wool warehouse ” 35
Initial, The little cross woman with the pedler’s tray” 39

“ Her little muslin cap blew back lixe the wings of a
white butterfly”. 5 5 ; : 5 , 43



vi - LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

St. Gudule’s :

“ Bébée looked up with a eile?

“Sitting on the edge of her stall ” .

“ And Bébée would listen, the shell in her lap” .

“In the little dark attic there was a very old woman”

“ Old Annémie watched at the window”

““* You are of the people of Rubes’ country, are you
not?’”.

“ Against the dusky ted ao. a vounen man w with a iiaile

of brushwood on his back ””
“ As she sat on the edge of the roof”

«*Then she went and kneeled down before ihe old

shrine in the wall of the ae ae

Jeannot . és 5

“ As she also hung out ae nen 2

“ His beautiful Murillo head was dark ”

“In winter time drove a milk cart over the snow”’

“ More than once he came and filled in more fully his
various designs in the little hut garden” .

“All the people are gone on a Seay i

“Tt was a pretty picture —

“There was a sad nae Gaivarye on the cine of

the harvest-field that looked black against the blue
sky ” . F , 5 ;
“It was Gretchen, spinning, out in the open air”

“He answered her dreamily, and lay there in the

grass” . ,

“Some one was playing a ean eat

Initial “The shrine in the wall ”

“You will come back’ she moaned”

“In the lane by the swans’ water ”

Tailpiece, “The Varnhart children” .

““The poor to pick up the broken, bare boughs ”

“The keeper of the stall chose good volumes for
her”

PAGE,

56
59
72
74
80

87

96
102

108
120
123
127
134

127
148
155

165
170

174
180
186
197
202
203
204.

206



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS, vii

PAGE,
“ And just the same was seen trudging to and fro”. 212
‘“ And the Host was borne by on high” =. : : 218
“She sat under a shrine in a by street a moment ” : 230
“In the woods and fields about Alne she began to
breathe again” s : 3 , : : z 234
“The barges: dropping down'the sluggish streams” . 239
“ Paris in all its glory was about her ” me : 243
“Jeannot, with Father Francis prayed befure the
shrine of the Seven Sorrows” . : ; : 252
Tailpiece, “ Two little wooden shoes” ‘ : : 255



e aut wenintlvis
ae







CPM 7

BEBEE,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES.

CHAPTER I.

EBEE sprang out of bed at daybreak.
She was sixteen.

It seemed a very wonderful thing to be as
much as that— sixteen — a woman quite.

A cock was crowing under her lattice. He
said how old you are!—how old you are !
every time that he sounded his clarion.

She opened the lattice and wished him good
day, with a laugh. It was so pleasant to be
woke by him, and to think that no one in all
the world could ever call one a child any
more.

There was a kid bleating in the shed. There
was a thrush singing in the dusk of the syca-
more leaves. There was a calf lowing to its



2 BEBEE,

mother away there beyond the fence. There
were dreamy muffled bells ringing in the dis-
tance from many steeples and belfries where
the city was; they all said one thing, “How
good it is to be so old as that—how good,
how very good!”

Bébée was very pretty.

No one in all Brabant ever denied that. To
took at her it seemed as if she had so lived
among the flowers that she had grown like
them, and only looked a bigger blossom — that
was all.

She wore two little wooden shoes and a little
cotton cap, anda gray kirtle—linen in summer,
serge in winter; but the little feet in the shoes
were like rose leaves, and the cap was as white
asa lily, and the gray kirtle was like the bark
of the bough that the apple-blossom parts, and
peeps out of, to blush in the sun.

The flowers had been the only godmothers
that she had.ever had, and fairy godmothers too.

The marigolds and the sunflowers had given
her their ripe, rich gold to tint her hair; the
lupins and irises had lent their azure to her
eyes; the moss-rosebuds had made her pretty
mouth; the arum lilies had uncurled their soft-
ness for her skin; and the lime-blossoms had
given her their frank, fresh, innocent fragrance.

The winds had: blown, and the rains had
rained, and the sun had shone on her, indeed,
and had warmed the whiteness of her limbs,
but they had only given to her body and her



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 3

soul a hardy, breeze-blown freshness like that
of a field cowslip.

She had never been called anything but
Bébée. :

One summer day Antoine Maées—a French
subject, but a Belgian by adoption and habit,
an old man who got his meagre living by tilling



the garden plot about his hut and selling
flowers in the city squares — Antoine, going
into Brussels for his day’s trade, had seen a
gray bundle floating among the water-lilies in
the bit of water near his hut and had hooked
it out to land, and found a year-old child in it,
left to drown, no doubt, but saved by the lilies,
and laughing gleefully at fate.

Some lace-worker, blind with the pain of toil,
or some peasant woman harder of heart than



4 BEBEE,

the oxen in her yoke, had left it there to drift
away to death, not reckoning for the inward
ripple of the current or the toughness of the -
lily leaves and sterns.

Old Antoine took it to his wife, and the
wife, a childless and aged soul, begged leave to
keep it; and the two poor lonely, simple folks
grew to care for the homeless, motherless
thing, and they and the people about all called
it Bébée — only Bébée.

The church got at it and- added to it a saint’s
name; but for all its little world it remained
Bébée — Bébée when it trotted no higher than

the red carnation
We heads ; — Bébée

when its yellow
curls touched as high as
the lavender-bush; —
Bébée on this proud day
when the thrush’s song
and the cock’s crow found
her sixteen years old.

Old Antoine’s hut
stood in a little patch of
garden pee with a brier hedge all round it,
in that byway which lies between Laeken and
Brussels, in the heart of flat, green Brabant,
where there are beautiful meadows and tall,
flowering hedges, and forest trees, and fern-
filled ditches, and a little piece of water, deep
and cool, where the swans sail all day long, and
the silvery willows dip and sway with the wind.





OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 5

Turn aside from the highway, and there it
lies to-day, and all the place brims over with
grass, and boughs, and blossoms, and flowering
beans, and wild dog-roses; and there are a few
cottages and cabins there near the pretty water,
and farther there is an old church, sacred to St.
Guido; and beyond go the green level country
and the endless wheat-fields, and the old mills
with their red sails against the sun; and beyond










a
ath E wee “ 1

ne Shp: ne: ey ugig aS










f oes =
i. oie t .

all these the pale blue, sea-like horizon of the
plains of Flanders.

_It was a pretty little hut, pink all over like a
sea-shell, in the fashion that the Netherlanders
love; and its two little square lattices were dark
with creeping plants and big rose-bushes, and
its roof, so low that you could touch it, was
golden and green with all the lichens and stone-
worts that are known on earth.

Here Bébée grew: from year to year, and
soon learned to be big enough and hardy



6 BEBEE,

enough to tie up bunches of stocks and pinks
for the market, and then to carry a basket for
herself, trotting by Antoine’s side along the
green roadway and into the white, wide streets;
and in the market the buyers — most often of
all when they were young mothers — would
seek out the little golden head and the beautiful
frank blue eyes, and buy Bébée’s lilies and car-
nations whether they wanted them or not.
So that old Maes used to cross himself and
say that, thanks to Our Lady, trade was thrice
as stirring since the little one had stretched out
her rosy fingers with the flowers.

All the same, however stirring trade might
be in summer, when the long winters came and
the Montagne de la Cour was a sharp slope of
ice, and the pinnacles of St. Gudule were all
frosted white with snow, and the hot-house
flowers alone could fill the market, and the
country gardens were bitter black wind-swept
desolations where the chilly roots huddled
themselves together underground like homeless
children in a cellar, then the money gained
in the time of leaf and blossom was all needed
to buy a black loaf and fagot of wood; and
many a day in the little pink hut Bébée rolled
herself up in her bed like a dormouse, to for-
get in sleep that she was supperless and as cold
as a frozen robin.

So that when Antoine Mies grew sick and
died, more from age and weakness than any
real disease, there were only a few silver crowns



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 7

in the brown jug hidden in the thatch; and the
hut itself, with its patch of ground, was all that
he could leave to Bébée.

«Live in it, little one, and take nobody in it
to worry you, and be good to the bird and the
goat, and be sure to keep the flowers blowing,”
said the old man with his last breath; and
sobbing her heart out by his bedside, Bébée
vowed to do his bidding.

She was not quite fourteen then, and when
she had laid her old friend to rest in the rough
green graveyard about St. Guido, she was
very sorrowful and lonely, poor little, bright
Bébée, who had never hardly known a worse
woe than to run the thorns of the roses into her
fingers, or to cry because a thrush was found
starved to death in the snow.

Bébée went home, and sat down in a corner
and thought.

The hut was her own, and her own the little
green triangle just then crowded with its May-
day blossom in all the colors of the rainbow.
She was to live in it, and never let the flowers
die, so he had said; good, rough old ugly
Antoine Maes, who had been to her as father,
mother, country, king, and law.

The sun was shining.

Through the little square of the lattice she
could see the great tulips opening in the grass
and a bough of the apple-tree swaying in the
wind. A chaffinch clung to the bough, and
swung to and fro singing. The door stood



8 BEBEE,

open, with the broad, bright day beaming
through; and Bébée’s little world came stream-
ing in with it,— the world which dwelt in the
half-dozen cottages that fringed this green lane
of hers like beavers’ nests pushed out under
the leaves on to the water’s edge.

They came in, six or eight of them, all
women; trim, clean, plain Brabant peasants,
hard-working, kindly of nature, and shrewd in
their own simple matters; people who labored
in the fields all the day long, or worked them-
selves blind over the lace pillows in the city.

“You are too young to live alone, Bébée,”
said the first of them. ‘My old mother shall
come and keep house for you.”

“Nay, better come and live with me,
Bébée,” said the second. ‘I will give you bit
and drop, and clothing, too, for the right to
your plot of ground.”

“That is to. cheat her,’ said the third.
‘*Hark, here, Bébéé: my sister, who is a lone
woman, as you know well, shall come and bide
with you, and ask you nothing — nothing at all
— only you shall just give her a crust, perhaps,
and a few flowers to sell sometimes.” |

“No, no,” said the fourth; ‘that will not do.
You let.me have the garden and the hut,
Bébée, and my sons shall till the place for you;
and I will live with you myself, and leave the
boys the cabin, so you will have all the gain,
do you not see, dear little one?”

“Pooh!” said the fifth, stouter and better



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 9

clothed than the rest. ‘You are all eager for
your own good, not for hers. Now I — Father
Francis says we should all do as we would be
done by —I will take Bébée to live with me,
all for nothing; and we will root the flowers up
and plant it with good cabbages and potatoes
and salad plants. And I will stable my cows
in the hut to sweeten it after a dead man, andI
will take my chance of making money out of it,
and no one can speak more fair than that when
one sees what weather is, and thinks what
insects do; and all the year round, winter and
summer, Bébée here will want for nothing, and
have to take no care for herself whatever.”

She who spoke, Mére Krebs, was the best-to-
do woman in the little lane, having two cows of
her own and ear-rings of solid silver, and a green
cart, and a big dog that took the milk into
Brussels. She was heard, therefore, with re-
spect, and a short silence followed her words.

But it was very short; and a hubbub of
voices crossed each other after it as the
speakers grew hotter against one another and
more eager to convince each other of the disin-
terestedness and delicacy of their offers of aid.

Through it all Bébée sat quite quiet on the
edge of the little truckle-bed, with her eyes
fixed on the apple bough and the singing
chaffinch.

She heard them all patiently.

They were all her good friends, friends old
and true. This one had given her cherries for





10 BEBEE,

many a summer. That other had bought her
a little waxen Jesus at the Kermesse. The old
woman in the blue linen skirt had taken her to
her first communion. She who wanted her
sister to have the crust and the flowers, had
brought her a beautiful painted book of hours
that had cost a whole franc. Another had given
her the solitary wonder, travel, and foreign feast
of her whole life,—a day fifteen miles away at
the fairat Mechlin. The last speaker of all had
danced her on her knee a hundred times in baby-
hood, and told her legends, and let her ride in
the green cart behind big curly-coated Tam-
bour.

Bébée did not doubt that these trusty old
friends meant well by her, and yet a certain
heavy sense fell on her that in all these counsels
there was not the same whole-hearted and
frank goodness that had prompted the gifts to
her of the waxen Jesus, and the Kermesse of
Mechlin.

Bébée did not reason, because she was too
little a thing and too trustful; but she felt, in a
vague, sorrowful fashion, that they were all of
them trying to make some benefit out of her
poor little heritage, with small regard for her-
self at the root of their speculations.

Bébée was a child, wholly a child; body
and soul were both as fresh in her as a golden
crocus just born out of the snows. But she
was not a little fool, though people sometimes.
called her so because she would sit in the mo-



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. II

ments of her leisure with her blue eyes on the
far-away clouds like a thing in a dream.

She heard them patiently till the cackle of
shrill voices had exhausted itself, and the six
women stood on the sunny mud floor of the
hut eyeing each other with venomous glances;
for though they were good neighbors at all
times, each, in this matter, was hungry for the
advantages to be got out of old Antoine’s plot
of ground. They were very poor; they toiled
in the scorched or frozen fields all weathers, or
spent from dawn to nightfall poring over their
cobweb lace; and to save a sou or gain a cab-
bage was of moment to them only second to
the keeping of their souls secure of heaven by
Lenten mass and Easter psalm.

Bébée listened to them all, and the tears
dried on her cheeks, and her pretty rosebud
lips curled close in one another.

“You are very good, no doubt, all of you,”
she said at last. ‘“ But I cannot tell you that I
am thankful, for my heart is like a stone, and I
think it is not so very much for me as it is for
the hut that you are speaking. Perhaps it is
wrong in me to say so; yes, J am wrong, I
am sure,— you are all kind, and I am only
Bébée. But you see he told me to live here
and take care of the flowers, and I must do it,
that is certain. I will ask Father Francis, if
you wish; but if he tells me I am wrong, as
you do, I shall stay here all the same.”

And in answer to their expostulations and



12 BEBEE,

condemnation, she only said the same thing
over again always, in different words, but to the
same steadfast purpose. The women clamored
about her for an hour in reproach and rebuke;
she was a baby indeed, she was a little fool, she
was a naughty, obstinate child, she was an un-
grateful, wilful little creature, who ought to be



Vr

beaten till she was blue, if only there was any-
body that had the right to do it!

“But there is nobody that has the right,”
said Bébéc, getting angry and standing upright
on the floor, with Antoine’s old gray cat in her
round arms. ‘He told me to stay here, and



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. IZ

he would not have said so if it had been wrong ;
and I am old enough to do for myself, and I
am not afraid, and who is there that would hurt
me? Oh, yes; go and tell Father Francis, if
you like! I do not believe he will blame me,
but if he do, I must bear it. Even if he shut
the church door on me,I will obey Antoine,
and the flowers will know I am right, and they
will let no evil spirits touch me, for the flowers
are strong for that; they talk to the angels in
the night.”

What use was it to argue with a little idiot
like this? Indeed, peasants never do argue;
they use abuse.

It is their only form of logic.

They used it to Bébée, rating her soundly, as
became people who were old enough to be her
grandmothers, and who knew that she had been
raked out of their own pond, and had no more
real place in creation than a water rat, as one
might say.

The women were kindly, and had never
thrown this truth against her before, and in fact,
to be a foundling was no sort of disgrace to
their sight; but anger is like wine, and makes
the depths of the mind shine clear, and all the
mud that is in the depths stink in the light;
and in their wrath at not sharing Antoine’s
legacy, the good souls said bitter things that in
calm moments they would no more have ut-
tered than they would have taken up a knife to
slit her throat.



14 BEBEE,

They talked themselves hoarse with impa-
tience and chagrin, and went backwards over
the threshold, their wooden shoes and their
shrill voices keeping a clattering chorus. By
this time it was evening; the sun had gone off
the floor, and the bird had done singing.

Bébée stood in the same place, hardening
her little heart, whilst big and bitter tears
swelled into her eyes, and fell on the soft fur of
the sleeping cat.

She only very vaguely understood why it
‘was in any sense shameful to have been raked
out of the water-lilies like a drowning field
mouse, as they had said it was.

She and Antoine had often talked of that
summer morning when he had found her there
among the leaves, and Bébée and he had
laughed over it gayly, and she had been quite
proud in her innocent fashion that she had had
a fairy and the flowers for her mother and god+
mothers, which Antoine always told her was
the case beyond any manner of doubt. Even
Father Francis, hearing the pretty harmless
fiction, had never deemed it his duty to disturb
her pleasure in it, being a good, cheerful old man,
who thought that woe and wisdom both come
soon enough to bow young shoulders and
to silver young curls without his interference.

Bébée had always thought it quite a fine
thing to have been born of watet-lilies, with the
sun for her father, and when people in Brussels
had asked her of her parentage, seeing her



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, [5

stand in the market with a certain look on her
that was not like other children, had always
gravely answered in the purest good faith, —

““My mother was a flower.”

“You are a flower, at any rate,” they would
say in return; and Bébée had been always
quite content.

But now she was doubtful; she was rather
perplexed than sorrowful.

These good friends of hers seemed
to see some new sin about her. Per-
haps, after all, thought Bébée, it
might have been better to have had.
a human mother who would have
taken care of her now that old
Antoine was dead, instead of those
beautiful, gleaming, cold water-lilies
which went to sleep on their green
velvet beds, and did not certainly
care when the thorns ran into her
fingers, or the pebbles got in her wooden shoes.

In some vague way, disgrace and envy —
the twin Discords of the world —touched her
innocent cheek with their hot breath, and as
the evening fell, Bébée felt very lonely and a
little wistful.

She had been always used to run out in the
pleasant twilight-time among the flowers and
water them, Antoine filling the can from the
well; and the neighbors would come and lean
against the little low wall, knitting and gossip-
ing; and the big dogs, released from harness,





16 BEBEE,

would poke their heads through the wicket ior
a crust; and the children would dance and
play Colin Maillard on the green by the water ;
and she, when the flowers were no longer
thirsted, would join them, and romp and dance
and sing the gayest of them all.

But now the buckets hung at the bottom of
the well, and the flowers hungered in vain, and
the neighbors held aloof, and she shut to the
hut door and listened to the rain which began
to fall, andcried herself to sleep all alone in
her tiny kingdom.

When the dawn came the sun rose red and
warm; the grass and boughs’ sparkled; a lark
sang; Bébée awoke sad in heart, indeed, for
her lost old friend, but brighter and braver.

“Each of them wants to get something out
of me,” thought the child. ‘Well, I, will live
alone, then, and do my-duty, just as he said.
The flowers will never let any real harm come,
though they do look so indifferent and smiling
sometimes, and though not one of them hung
their heads when his coffin was carried through
them yesterday.”

That want of sympathy in the flower
troubled her.

The old man had loved them so well; and
they had all looked as glad as ever, and had
laughed saucily in the sun, and not even a rose-
bud turned the paler as the poor still stiffened
limbs went by in the wooden shell.

“TI suppose God cares; but I wish they



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 17

did,” said Bébée, to whom the garden was more
intelligible than Providence.

“Why do you not care?” she asked the pinks,
shaking the raindrops off their curled rosy petals.

The pinks leaned lazily against their sticks,
and seemed to say, ‘“‘Why should we care for
anything, unless a slug be eating us? —‘zha¢ is
real woe, if you like.”

Bébée, without her sabots on, wandered
thoughtfully among the sweet wet sunlightened
labyrinths of blossom, her pretty bare feet
treading the narrow grassy paths with pleasure
in their coolness.

“He was so good to you!” she said reproach-
fully to the great gaudy gillyflowers and the
painted sweet-peas. ‘He never let you know
heat or cold, he never let the worm gnaw or
the snail harm you; he would get up in the
dark to see after your wants; and when the
ice froze over you, he was there to loosen your
chains. Why do you not care, anyone of you?”

“How silly you are!” said the flowers.
“You must be a butterfly or a poet, Bébée, to
be as foolish as that. Some one will do all he
did. We are of market value, you know.
Care, indeed ! when the sun is so warm, and there
is not an earwig in the place to trouble us.”

The flowers were not always so selfish as
this; and perhaps the sorrow in Bébée’s heart
made their callousness seem harder than it
really was.

When we suffer very much ourselves, any-



18 BELLE,

thing that smiles in the sun seems cruel —a
child, a bird, a dragon-fly — nay, even a flut- -
tering ribbon, or a spear-grass that waves in the
wind.

There was a little shrine at the corner of the
garden, set into the wall; a niche with a bit of
glass and a picture of the Virgin, so battered
that no one could trace any feature of it.

It had been there for centuries, and was held
in great veneration; and old Antoine had al-
ways cut the choicest buds of his roses and set
them ina delf pot in front of it, every other
morning all the summer long. Bébée, whose
religion was the sweetest, vaguest mingling of
Pagan and Christian myths, and whose faith in
fairies and in saints was exactly equal in
strength and in ignorance, —Bébée filled the
delf pot anew carefully, then knelt down on the
turf in that little green corner, and prayed in
devout hopeful childish good faith to the awfal
unknown Powers who were to her only as gentle
guides and kindly playmates.

Was she too familiar with the Holy Mother?

She was almost fearful that she was; but
then the Holy Mother loved flowers so well,
Bébée would not feel aloof from her, nor be
afraid.

“When one cuts the best blossoms for her,
and tries to be good, and never tells a lie,”
thought Bébée, “I am quite sure, as she loves
the lilies, that she will never altogether forget
me.”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 19

So she said to the Mother of Christ fearlessly,
and nothing doubting; and then rose for her
daily work of cutting the flowers for the market
in Brussels.

By the time her baskets were full, her fowls
fed, her goat foddered, her starling’s cage
cleaned, her hut door locked, and her wooden
shoes clattering on the sunny road into the city,
Bébée was almost content again, though ever
and again, as she trod the familiar ways, the
tears dimmed her eyes as she remembered that
old Antoine would never again hobble over the
stones beside her.

“You are a little wilful one, and too young
to live alone,” said Father Francis, meeting her
in the lane.

But he did not scold her seriously, and she
kept to her resolve; and the women, who were
good at heart, took her back into favor again;
and so Bébée had her own way, and the fairies,
or the saints, or both together, took care of her;
and so it came to pass that all alone she heard
the cock crow whilst it was dark, and woke to
the grand and amazing truth that this warm,
fragrant, dusky June morning found her full
sixteen years old.



20 BEBEE,














SE aes ae ea
TE ae Pe = re
A ele lala A

CHAPTER II.

HE two years had not been all playtime
any more than they had been all summer.
When one has not father, or mother, or
brother, and all one’s friends have barely bread
enough for themselves, life cannot be very easy,
nor its crusts very many at any time.

Bébée had acherub’s mouth, and a dreamer’s
eyes, anda poet's thoughts sometimes in her
own untaught and unconscious fashion.

But all the same she was a little hard-working
Brabant peasant girl; up whilst the birds twit-
tered in the dark; to bed when the red sun
sank beyond the far blue line of the plains;
she hoed, and dug, and watered, and planted
her little plot; she kept her cabin as clean asa
fresh-blossomed primrose; she milked her goat
and swept her floor; she sat, all the warm days,
in the town, selling her flowers, and in the



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 21

winter time, when her garden yielded her
nothing, she strained her sight over lace-mak-
ing in the city to get the small bit of food that
stood between her and that hunger which to the
poor means death.

A hard life; very hard when hail and snow
made the streets of Brussels like slopes of ice;
a little hard even in the gay summer time when
she sat under the awning fronting the Maison du
Roi; but all the time the child throve on it, and
was happy, and dreamed of many graceful and
gracious things whilst she was weeding among
her lilies, or tracing the threads to and fro on
her lace pillow.

Now — when she woke to the full sense of
her wonderful sixteen years — Bébée, standing
barefoot on the mud floor, was as pretty asight
as was to be seen betwixt Scheldt and Rhine.

The sun had only left a soft warmth like an
apricot’s on her white skin. Her limbs, though
strong as a mountain pony’s, were slender and
well shaped. Her hair curled in shiny crum-
pled masses, and tumbled about her shoulders.
Her pretty round plump little breast was white
as the lilies in the grass without, and in this
blooming time of her little life, Bébée, in her
way, was beautiful as a peach-bloom is beauti-
ful, and her innocent, courageous, happy eyes
had dreams in them underneath their laughter,
dreams that went farther than the green woods
of Laeken, farther even than the white clouds
of summer.



22 BEBEE,

She could not move among them idly as
poets and girls love to do; she had to be active
amidst them, else drought and rain, and worm




a 20

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3,
D)
90

SEA ring




ee IS
% é Ly




i:

pine
a®

and snail, and blight and frost, would have made
havoc of their fairest hopes.

The loveliest love is that which dreams high
above all storms, unsoiled by all burdens; but
perhaps the strongest love is that which, whilst
it adores, drags its feet through mire, and burns
its brow in heat, for the thing beloved.

So Bébée dreamed in her garden; but all
the time for sake cf it hoed and dug, and hurt



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 23

her hands, and tired her limbs, and bowed
. her shoulders under the great metal pails from
the well.

This wondrous morning, with the bright bur-
den of her sixteen years upon her, she dressed
herself quickly and fed her fowls, and, happy as
a bird, went to sit on her little wooden stool in
the doorway.

There had been fresh rain in the night: the
garden was radiant; the smell of the wet earth
was sweeter than all perfumes that are burned
in palaces.

The dripping rosebuds nodded against her
hair as she went out; the starling called to her,
“ Bébée, Bébée — bonjour, bonjour.” These
were all the words it knew. It said the
same words a thousand times a week. But
to Bébée it seemed that the starling -most
certainly knew that she was sixteen years old
that day.

Breaking her bread into the milk, she satin
the dawn and thought, without knowing that she
thought it, “ How oe it is to live when one
is young!”

Old people say the same thing often, but they.
sigh when they say it. Bébée smiled.

Mére Krebs opened her door in the next cot-
tage, and nodded over the wall.

‘“What a fine thing to be sixteen! — a merry
year, Bébée.”

Marthe, the carpenter’s wife, came out from
her gate, broom in hand.



24. BEBEE,

“The Holy Saints keep you, Bébéc; why,
you are quite a woman now!”

The little children of Varnhart, the charcoal-
burner, who were as poor as any mouse in the
old churches, rushed out of their little home up
the lane, bringing with them a cake stuck full
of sugar and seeds, and tied round with a blue
ribbon, that their mother had made that very
week, all in her honor.

“ Only see, Bébée! Such a grand cake!”
they shouted, dancing down the lane. ‘Jules
picked the plums, and Jeanne washed the
almonds, and Christine took the ribbon off her
own communion cap, all for you — all for you;
but you will let us come and eat it too?”

Old Gran’mére Bishot, who was the oldest
woman about Laeken, hobbled through the
grass on her crutches and nodded her white
shaking head, and smiled at Bébée.

“T have nothing to give you, little one, ex-
cept my blessing, if you care for that.”

Bébée ran out, breaking from the children,
and knelt down in the wet grass, and bent her
pretty sunny head to the benediction.

Trine, the miller’s wife, the richest woman of
them all, called to the child from the steps of
the mill, —

«A merry year, and the blessing of Heaven,
Bébée! Come up, and here is my first dish of
cherries for you; not tasted one myself; they
will make you a feast with Varnhart’s cake,
though she should have known better, so poor



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 25

as she is. Charity begins at home, and these
children’s stomachs are empty.”

Bébée ran up and then down again gleefully,
with her lapful of big black cherries; Tambour,
the old white dog, who had used to drag her
about in his milk cart, leaping on her in sym-
pathy and congratulation.

‘‘What a supper we will have!” she cried to
the charcoal-burner’s children, who were turn-
ing somersaults in the dock leaves, while the
swans stared and hissed.

When one is sixteen, cherries and a cake
have a flavor of Paradise still, especially when
they are tasted twice, or thrice at most, in all
the year. i

An old man called to her as she went by his
door. All these little cabins lie close together,
with only their apple-trees, or their tall beans,
or their hedges of thorn between them; you
may ride by and never notice them if you do
not look for them under the leaves closely, as
you would for thrushes’ nests.

He, too, was very old; a lifelong neighbor
and gossip of Antoine’s; he had been a day
laborer in these same fields all his years, and
had never travelled farther than where the red
mill-sails turned among the colza and the corn.

‘“Come in, my pretty one, for a second,” he
whispered, with an air of mystery that made
Bébée’s heart quicken with expectancy. ‘Come
in; I have something for you. They were my
dead daughter's — you have heard me talk of



26 BEBEE,

her — Lisette, who died forty year or more ago,
they say; for me I think it was yesterday.
Mére Krebs— she is a hard woman—heard
me talking of my girl. She burst out laugh-
ing, ‘Lord’s sake, fool, why, your girl would be
sixty nowan she had lived.’’ Well, so it may
be; you see, the new mill was put up the week
she died, and you call the new mill old; but,
my girl, she is young to me. Always young.
Come here, Bébée.”

Bébée went after him a little awed, into the
dusky interior, that smelt
of stored apples and of
dried herbs that hung
from the roof. There
was a walnut-wood press,
such as the peasants of —
France and the low
countries keep their
homespun linen in and
their old lace that serves
for the nuptials and bap-
tisms of half a score of
generations,

The old man unlocked
it with a trembling hand,
and there came from it an odor of dead lavender
and of withered rose leaves.

On the shelves there were a girl’s set of
clothes, and a girl’s sabots, and a girl’s com-
munion veil and wreath.

“‘ They are all hers,” he whispered, — “all





OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 27

hers. And sometimes in the evening time I
see her coming along the lane for them — do
you not know? There is nothing changed,
nothing changed; the grass, and the trees, and
the huts, and the pond are all here; why
should she only be gone away?”

« Antoine is gone.”

“Yes. But he was old; my girl is young.”

He stood a moment, with the press door
open, a perplexed trouble in his dim eyes; the
divine faith of love and the mule-like stupidity
of ignorance made him cling to this one thought
without power of judgment in it.

“They say she would be sixty,” he said,
with a little dreary smile. ‘‘ But that is absurd,
you know. Why, she had cheeks like yours,
and she would run—no lapwing could fly
faster over corn. These are her things, you
see; yes—all of them. That is the sprig of
sweetbrier she wore in her belt the day before
the wagon knocked her down and killed her.
Ihave never touched the things. But look
here, Bébée, you are a good child and true,
and like her just a little. I mean to give you
her silver clasps. They were her great-great-
great-grandmother’s before her. God knows
how old they are not. And a girl should have
some little wealth of that sort; and for An-
toine’s sake —”’

The old man stayed behind, closing the
press door upon the lavender-scented clothes,
and sitting down in the dull shadow of the hut



28 BEBE E,

to think-of his daughter, dead forty summers
and more.

Bébée went out with the brave broad silver
clasps about her waist, and the tears wet on
her cheeks for a grief not her own.

To be killed just when one was young, and
was loved liked that, and all the world was in
its May-day flower! The silver felt cold to
her touch — as cold as though it were the dead
girl’s hands that held her.

The garlands that the children strung of
daisies and hung about her had never chilled
her so.

But little Jeanne, the youngest of the char-

coal-burner’s little tribe, running to meet her,
screamed with glee, and danced in the gay
morning.
.__ “ Oh, Bébée! how you glitter! Did the
Virgin send you that off her own altar?. Let
me see— let me touch! Is it made of the
stars or of the sun? ”

And Bébée danced with the child, and the
silver gleamed and sparkled, and all the people
came running out to see, and the milk carts
were half an hour later for town, and the hens
cackled loud unfed, and the men even stopped
on their way to the fields and paused, with their
scythes on their shoulders, to stare at the
splendid gift.

‘‘ There is not such another set of clasps in
Brabant; old work you could make a fortune
of in the curiosity shops in the Montagne,”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 29

said Trine Krebs, going up the steps of her
mill house. ‘But, all the same, you know,
Bébée, things off a dead body bring mischance
sometimes.”

But Bébée danced with the child, and did
not hear.

Whose féte day had ever begun like this one
of hers?

She was a little poet at heart, and should not
have cared for such vanities; but when one is
only sixteen, and has only a little rough woollen
frock, and sits in the market place or. the lace-
room, with other girls around, how should one
be altogether indifferent to a broad, embossed,
beautiful shield of silver that sparkled with each.
step one took?

A quarter of an hour idle thus was all, how-
ever, that Bébée or her friends could spare at.
five o’clock on a summer morning, when the
city was waiting for its eggs, its honey, its
flowers, its cream, and its butter, and Tambour
was shaking his leather harness in impatience.
to be off with his milk-cans.

So Bébée, all holiday though it was, and
heroine though she felt herself, ran indoors,
put up her cakes and cherries, cut her two
basketfuls out of the garden, locked her hut,
and went on her quick and happy little feet
along the grassy paths toward the city.

The sorting and tying up of the flowers she
always left until she was sitting under the awn-
ing in front of the Broodhuis; the same awning,



30 BEBEE,

tawny as an autumn pear and weather-blown
as an old sail, which had served to shelter
Antoine Maes from heat and rain throughall the
years of his life.

“Go to the Madeleine; you will make
money there, with your pretty blue eyes,
Bébée,” people had said to her of late: but
Bébée had shaken her head.

Where she had sat in her babyhood at An-
toine’s feet, she would sit so long as she sold
flowers in Brussels, —here,
underneath the shadow of the
Gothic towers that saw Egmont
die.

Old Antoine had never gone
into the grand market that is
fashioned after the Madeleine
of Paris, and where in the cool,
wet, sweet-smelling halls, all the
flowers of Brabant are spread
in bouquets fit for the bridal of
Una, and large as the shield of
the Red-Cross Knight.

Antoine could not compcte
with all those treasures of green-
house and stove. He had

— always had his little stall among
those which spread their tawny awnings and

_ their merry hardy blossoms unde: the shadow
of the Hétel de Ville, in the midst of the buy-

_ ings and sellings, the games and the quarrels,
the auctions and the Cheap Johns, the mounte-









OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 31

bank and the marriage parties, that daily and
hourly throng the Grande Place.

Here Bébée, from three years old, had been
used to sit beside him. By nature she was as
gay as a lark. The people always heard her
singing as they passed the garden. The chil-
dren never found their games so merry as when
she danced their rounds with them; and
though she dreamed so much out there in the
air among the carnations and the roses, or in
the long, low workroom in the town, high
against the crocketed pinnacles of the cathedral,
yet her dreams, if vaguely wistful, were all
bright of hue and sunny in their fantasies.
Still, Bébée had one sad unsatisfied desire:
she wanted to know so much, and she knew
nothing.

She did not care for sme tll :
the grand gay people. a. &. Q.

When the band ik es
played, and the "eae
park filled, and the
bright little cafés
were thronged with
pleasure seekers,
and the crowds
flocked hither and
thither to the
woods, to the theatres, to the galleries, to the
guinguettes, Bébée, going gravely along with
her emptied baskets homeward, envied none
of these.











32) BEBEE,

When at Noél the little children hugged their ,
loads of puppets and sugar-plums; when at
the Féte Dieu the whole people flocked out be-
ribboned and vari-colored like any bed of
spring anemones; when in the merry mid-
summer the chars-atbancs trundled away into
the forest with laughing loads of students and
maidens; when in the rough winters the car-
riages left furred and jewelled women at the
doors of the operas or the palaces, — Bébée,
going and coming through the city to her
flower stall or lace work, looked at them all,
and never thought of envy or desire.

She had her little hut: she could get her
bread; she lived with the lowers; the neighbors
were good to her, and now and then, on a
saint’s day, she too got her day in the woods;
it never occurred to her that her lot could be
better.

“But sometimes sitting, looking at the dark
old beauty of the Broodhuis, or at the won-
drous carven fronts of other Spanish houses, or
at the painted stories of the cathedral windows,
or at the quaint colors of the shipping on the
quay, or at the long dark aisles of trees that
went away through the forest, where her steps
had never wandered, — sometimes Bébée would
get pondering on all this unknown world that
lay before and behind and around her, and a
sense of her own utter ignorance would steal
on her; and she would say to herself, ‘‘ If only
I knew a little —just a very little!”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 33

But it is not easy to know even a very little
when you have to work for your bread from
sunrise ‘to nightfall, and when none of your
friends know how to read or write, and even
your old priest is one of a family of peasants,
and can just teach you the alphabet, and that
is all. For Father Francis could do no more
than this; and all his spare time was taken up



in digging his cabbage plot and seeing to his
beehives; and the only books that Bébée ever
beheld were a few tattered lives of saints that
lay moth-eaten on a shelf of his cottage.

But Brussels has stones that are sermons, or
rather that are quaint, touching, illuminated
legends of the Middle Ages, which those who
run may read.



34 BEBEE,

Brussels is a gay little city, that lies as bright
within its girdle of woodland as any butterfly
that rests upon moss.

The city has its ways and wiles of Paris. It
decks itself with white and gold. It has music
under its trees and soldiers in its streets, and
troops marching and countermarching along its
sunny avenues. It has blue and pink, and
yellow and green, on its awnings and on its
-house fronts. It has a merry open-air life on
its pavements at little marble tables before
little gay-colored cafés, It has gilded bal-
conies, and tossing flags, and comic operas, and
leisurely pleasure seekers, and tries always to
believe and make the world believe that it is
Paris in very truth.

But this is only the Brussels of the noblesse
and the foreigners,

There is a Brussels that is better than this —
a Brussels that belongs to the old burgher life,
to the artists and the craftsmen, to the master-
masons of the Moyen-dge, to the same spirit
and soul that once filled the free men of Ghent
and the citizens of Bruges and the besieged of
Leyden, and the blood of Egmont and of
Horn.

Down there by the water-side, where the old
quaint walls lean over the yellow sluggish stream,
and the green barrels of the Antwerp barges
swing against the dusky piles of the crumbling
bridges.

In the gray square desolate courts of the



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 35

old palaces, where in cobwenocd galleries and
silent chambers the Flemish tapestries drop to
picces.

In the great populous square, where, above
the clamorous and rushing crowds, the majestic
front of the Maison du Roi frowns against the
sun, and the spires and pinnacles of the bur-
gomaster’s gathering-halls tower into the sky
in all the fantastic luxuriance of Gothic fancy.

Under the vast shadowy wings of angels in
the stillness of the cathedral, across whose
sunny aisles some little child goes slowly all
alone, laden with lilies for the Feast of the
Assumption, till their white “glory hides: its
curly head.

In all strange quaint old-world ry
niches withdrawn from men in -
silent grass-grown corners,
where a twelfth-century cor- a)
bel holds a pot of roses, or a 4 ,
Gothic arch yawns beneath °° * "7
a wool warehouse, or a water- 2)
spout with a grinning faun’s eee,
head laughs in the grim ee Ae
humor of the Moyen-age
above the bent head of a young lace-worker.

In all these, Brusscls, though more worldly
than her sisters of Ghent and Bruges, and far
more worldly yet than her Teuton cousins of
Freiburg and Niirnberg, is still in her own way
like as a monkish “story mixed up with the .
Romaunt of the Rose; or rather like some gay








35 BEBEE,

French vaudeville, all fashion and jest, illus-
trated in old Missal manner with helm and
hauberk, cope and cowl, praying knights and
fighting priests, winged griffins and nimbused
saints, flame-breathing dragons and enamoured
princes, all mingled together in the illuminated
colors and the heroical grotesque romance of
the Middle Ages.

And it was this side of the city that Bébée
knew; and she loved it well, and would not
leave it for the market of the Madeleine.

She had no one to tell her anything, and all
Antoine had ever been able to say to her con-
cerning the Broodhuis was that it had been
there in his father’s time; and regarding St.
Gudule, that his mother had burned many a
candle before its altars for a dead brother who
had been drowned off the dunes.

But the child’s mind, unled, but not mis-
led, had pondered on these things, and her.
heart had grown to love them; and perhaps
no student of Spanish architecture, no anti-
quary of Moyen-age relics, loved St. Gudule
and the Broodhuis as little ignorant Bébée -
did,
There had been a time when great dark,
fierce men had builded these things, and made
the place beautiful. So muchshe knew; and the
little wistful, untaught brain tried to project
itself into those unknown times, and failed, and
yet found pleasure in the effort. And Bébée
would say to herself as she walked the streets,



OR TWO LITTLE WOCDEN SHOES, 37

« Perhaps some one will come some day who
will tell me all those things.”

Meanwhile, there were the flowers, and she
was quite content.

Besides, she knew ail the people: the ‘old
cobbler, who sat next her, and chattercd all
day long like a magpie; the tinker, who had
. come up many a summer night to drink a glass
with ener the Cheap John, who cheated
everybody else, but who had always given her
a toyora trinket at every Féte Dieu all the
summers she had known; the little old woman,
sour as a crab, who sold rosaries and pictures
of saints, and little waxen Christs upon a tray;
the big dogs who pulled the carts in, and ley
panting all day under the rush-bottomed chairs
on which the egg-wives and the fruit sellers sat,
and knitted, and chaffered; nay, even the gor-
geous huissier and the frowning g gendarme, who
marshalled the folks into order | as they went up
for municipal registries, or for town misde-
meanors,—she knew them all; had known
them all ever since she had first trotted in like
a little dog at Antoine’s heels.

So Bébée stayed there.

It is, perhaps, the most beautiful square in
all Northern Europe, with its black timbers, and
gilded carvings, and blazoned windows, and
majestic scutcheons, and fantastic pinnacles.
That Bébée did not know, but she loved it, and
she sat resolutely in front of the Broodhuis,
selling her flowers, smiling, chatting, helping



38 VEBEE,

the old woman, counting her little gains, eating
her bit of bread at noonday like any other
market girl, but at times glancing up to the
stately towers and the blue sky, with a look on
her face that made the old tinker and cobbler
whisper together, ‘What does she see there?
— the dead people or the angels?”

The truth was that even Bébéec herself did
not know very surely what she saw —some-
thing that was still nearer to her than even this
kindly crowd that loved her. That was all she
could have said had anybody asked her.

But none did.

No one wanted to hear what the dead said ;
and for the angels, the tinker and the cobbler
were of opinion that one had only too much
of them sculptured about everywhere, and
shining on all the casements— in reverence be
it spoken, of course,



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, 39

CHAPTER JII.

REMEMBERED it was your name-
day, child Here are half a dozen
eggs,” said one of the hen wives;
and the little cross woman with the
pedler’s tray added a waxen St.
Agnes, colored red and yellow to
the very life no doubt; and the old
Cheap John had saved her a cage
for the starling; and the tinker had
a cream cheese for her in a vine-leaf,
and the sweetmeat seller brought her
a beautiful gilded horn of sugar-
plums, and the cobbler had made her
actually a pair of shoes—red shoes, beautiful
shoes to go to mass in and be a wonder in
to all the neighborhood. And they thronged
round her, and adored the silver waist buckles ;
and when Bébée got fairly to her stall, and
traffic began, she thought once more that
nobody’s feast day had ever dawned like hers.

When the chimes began to ring all over the
city, she could hardly believe that the carillon
was not saying its “Laus Deo” with some
special meaning in its bells of her.





40 BEBEE,

The morning went by as usual; the noise of
the throngs about her like a driving of angry
winds, but no more hurting her than the angels
on the roof of St. Gudule are hurt by the
storm when it breaks.

Hard words, fierce passions, low thoughts,
evil deeds, passed by the child without resting
on her; her heart was in her flowers, and was
like one of them with the dew of daybreak
on it.

There were many strangers in the city, and
such are always sure to loiter in the Spanish
square; and she sold fast and well her lilacs
and her roses, and her knots of thyme and
sweetbrier.

She was always a little sorry to see them go,
her kindly pretty playmates that, nine times
out of ten no doubt, only drooped and died in
the hands that purchased them, as human souls
soil and shrivel in the grasp of the passions that
woo them.

The day was a busy one, and brought in good
profit. Bébée had no less than fifty sous in her
leather pouch when it was over, —a sum of
magnitude in the green lane by Laeken.

A few of her moss-roses were still unsold,
that was all, when the Ave Maria began ringing
over the town and the people dispersed to their
homes or their pleasuring.

It was a warm gray evening: the streets were
full; there were blossoms in all the balconies,
and gay colors in all the dresses. The old



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 41

tinker put his tools together, and whispered to
her, —

“ Bébée, as it is your feast day, come and
stroll in St. Hubert’s gallery, and I will buy
you a little gilt heart, or a sugar-apple stick, or
a ribbon, and we can see the puppet show
afterwards, eh?”

But the children were waiting at home: she
would not spend the evening in the city; she
only thought she would just kneel a moment in
the cathedral and say a little prayer or two for
a minute — the saints were so good in giving
her so many friends.

There is something very touching in the
Flemish peasant’s relation with his Deity. It
is all very vague to him: a jumble of veneration
and familiarity, of sanctity and profanity, with-
out any thought of being familiar, or any idea
of being profane.

There is a homely poetry, an innocent affec-
tionateness in it, characteristic of the people.
He talks to his good angel Michael, and to his
friend that dear little Jesus, much as he would
talk to the shoemaker over the way, or the
cooper’s child in the doorway.

It is a very unreasonable, foolish, clumsy sort
of religion, this theology in wooden shoes; it is
half grotesque, half pathetic; the grandmothers
pass it on to the grandchildren as they pass the
bowl of potatoes round the stove in the long
winter nights; it is as silly as possible, but it
comforts them as they carry fagots over the



42 BEBEE,

frozen canals or wear their eyes blind over the
squares of lace; and it has in it the supreme
pathos of any perfect confidence, of any utterly
childlike and undoubting trust.

This had been taught to Bébée, and she went
to sleep every night in the firm belief that the
sixteen little angels of the Flemish prayer kept
watch and ward over her bed. For the rest,
being poetical, as these north folks are not,
and having in her—wherever it came from,
poor little soul—a warmth of fancy and a
spirituality of vision not at all northern, she
had mixed up her religion with the fairies of
Antoine’s stories, and the demons in which the
Flemish folks are profound believers, and the
flowers into which she put all manner of sentient
life, until her religion was a fantastic medley,
so entangled that poor Father Francis had
given up in despair any attempt to arrange it
more correctly. Indeed, being of the peasantry
himself, he was not so very full sure in his own
mind that demons were not bodily presences,
quite as real and often much more tangible than
saints. Anyway, he let her alone; and she
believed in the goodness of God as she believed
in the shining of the sun.

People looked after her as she went through
the twisting, picture-like streets, where sunlight
fell still between the peaked high roofs, and
lamps were here and there l:t in the bric-a-brac
shops and the fruit stalls.

Her little muslin cap blew back like the wings



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 43

of a white butterfly. Her sunny hair caught
the last sun-rays. Her feet were fair in the
brown wooden shoes. Under the short woollen
skirts the grace of her pretty limbs moved
freely. Her broad silver
clasps shone like a shield,
and she was utterly uncon-
scious that any one looked ;
she was simply and
gravely intent on reaching
St. Gudule to say her one
prayer and not keep the
children waiting.

Some one leaning idly
over a. balcony in the
street that is named after
Mary of Burgundy saw her
going thus. He left the
balcony and went down his ,
stairs and followed her. Re:

The sun-dazzle on the 4!
silver had first caught his
sight; and then he had
looked downward at the
pretty feet. ;

These are the chances women call Fate.

Bébée entered the cathedral. It was quite
empty. Far away at the west end there was an
old custodian asleep on a bench, and a woman
kneeling. That was all.

Bébée made her salutations to the high altar,
and stole on into the chapel of the Saint





44 BEBEE,

Sacrament; it was that one that she loved
best.

She said her prayer and thanked the saints
for all their gifts and goodness, her clasped
hand against her silver shield, her basket on





the pavement by her, abovehead the sunset
rays streaming purple and crimson and golden
through the painted windows that are-the won-
der of the world.



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 45

When her prayer was done she still kneeled
there; her head thrown back to watch the
light, her hands clasped still, and on her
upturned face the look that made the people
say, ‘‘ What does she see? —the angels or the
dead?”

She forgot everything. She forgot the
cherries at home, and the children even. She
was looking upward at the stories of the painted
panes; she was listening to the message of the
dying sun-rays; she was feeling vaguely, wist-
fully, unutterably the tender beauty of the sacred
place and the awful wonder of the world in
which she with her sixteen years was all alone,
like a little blue corn-flower among the wheat
that goes for grist and the barley that makes
men drunk.

For she was alone, though she had so many
friends. Quite alone sometimes; for God had
been cruel ‘to her, and had made her a lark
without song.

When the sun faded and the beautiful case-
ments lost all glow and meaning, Bébée rose
with a startled look—had she been dreaming?
—was it night? — would the children be sorry,
and go supperless to bed?

“Have you a rosebud left to sell to me?” a
man’s voice said not far off; it was low and
sweet, as became the Sacrament Chapel.

_ + Bébée looked up; she did not quite know
what she saw: only dark eyes smiling into
hers.



46 BEBEE,

By the instinct of habit she sought in her
basket and found three moss-roses. She held
them out to him.

“Ido not sell flowers here, but I will give
them to you,” she said, in her pretty grave
childish fashion.

“I often want flowers,” said the stranger, as
he took the buds. ‘‘ Where do you sell yours?
—in the market? ”

“In the Grande Place.”

‘Will you tell me your name, pretty one?”

“Tam Bébée.” :

There were people coming into the church.
The bells were booming abovehead for vespers.
There was a shuffle of chairs and a stir of feet.
Boys in white went to and fro, lighting the
candles. Great clouds of shadow drifted up
into the roof and hid the angels,

She nodded her little head to him.

‘Good night; I cannot stay. I have a cake
at home to-night, and the children are wait-
ing.”

‘Ah! that is important, no doubt, indecd.
Will you buy some more cakes for the children
from me?”

He slid a gold piece in, her hand She
looked at it in amaze. In the green lanes by
Laeken no one ever saw gold. Then she gave
it him back.

‘“T will not take money in church, nor any-
where, except what the flowers are worth. |
Good night.”



OR TWO LITTIE WOODEN SHOES, 47

He followed her, and held back the heavy
oak door for her, and went out into the air with
her.

It was dark already, but in the square there
was still the cool bright primrose-colored even-
ing light.

Bébée’s wooden shoes went pattering down
the sloping and uneven stones. Her little gray
figure ran quickly through the deep shade cast
from the towers and walls. Her dreams had
drifted away. She was thinking of the children
and the cake.

“You are in such a hurry because of the
cake?” said her new customer, as he followed
her.

Bébée looked back at him with a smile in
her blue eyes.

“Ves, they will be waiting, you know, and
there are cherries too.”

“Tt is a grand day with you, then?”

“It is my féte day: I am sixteen.”

She was proud of this. She told it to the
very dogs in the street.

‘Ah, you feel old, I dare say?”

“Oh, quite old! They cannot call me a
child any more.”

‘Of course not, it would be ridiculous. Are
those presents in your basket?”

“Ves, every one of them.” She paused a
moment to lift the dead vine-leaves, and show
him the beautiful shining red shoes. ‘Look!
old Gringoire gave me these. I shall wear



48 BEBEE,

them at mass next Sunday. I never had a
pair of shoes in my life.”

« But how will you wear shoes without stock-
ings?” .

It was a snake cast into her Eden.

She had never thought of it.

“Perhaps J can save money and buy some,”
she answered after a sad little pause. ‘But
that I could not do till next year. They would
cost several francs, I suppose.”

“Unless a good fairy gives them to you?”

Bébée smiled; fairies were real things to her
— relations indeed. She did not imagine that
he spoke in jest. -

“Sometimes I pray very much and things
come,” she said softly. ‘When the Gloire de
Dijon was cut back too soon one summer, and
never blossomed, and we all thought it was
dead, I prayed all day long for it, and never
thought of anything else; and by autumn it was
allin new leaf, and now its flowers are finer than
ever.”

“But you watered it whilst you prayed, I
suppose?”

The sarcasm escaped her.

She was wondering to herself whether it
would be vain and wicked to pray for a pair of ©
stockings: she thought she would go and ask
Father Francis.

By this time they were in the Rue Royale,
and half-way down it. The lamps were lighted.
A regiment was marching up it with a band



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 49

playing. The windows were open, and people
were laughing and singing in some of them.
The light caught the white and gilded fronts
of the houses. The pleasure-seeking crowds
loitered along in the warmth of the evening.

Bébée, suddenly roused from her thoughts
by the loud challenge of the military music,
looked round on the stranger, and motioned
him back. ;

“Sir, —I do not know you, — why should
you come with me? Do not do it, please.
You make me talk, and that makes me late.”

And she pushed her basket farther on her
arm, and nodded to him and ran off — as fleetly
as a hare through fern— among the press of
the people.

‘To-morrow, little one,” he answered her
with a careless smile, and Jet her go unpursued.
Above, from the open casement of a café, some
young men and some painted women leaned
out, and threw sweetmeats at him, as in carni-
val time.

“A new model,—that pretty peasant?”
they asked him.

He laughed in answer, and went up the steps
to join them; he dropped the moss-roses as he
went, and trod on them, and did not wait.



50 BEBELE,

CHAPTER IV.

EBEE ran home as fast as her feet would
take her.

The children were all gathered about her
gate in the dusky dewy evening; they met her
with shouts of welcome and reproach inter-
mingled; they had been watching for her since
first the sun had grown low and red, and now
the moon was risen.

But they forgave her when they saw the
splendor of her presents, and she showered out
among them Pére Melchior’s horn of comfits.

They dashed into the hut; they dragged the
one little table out among the flowers; the
cherries and cake were spread on it; and the
miller’s wife had given a big jug of milk, and
Father Francis himself had sent some honey-
comb. oe

The early roses were full of scent in the dew;
the great gillyflowers breathed out fragrance in
the dusk; the goat came and nibbled the sweet-
brier unrebuked; the children repeated the
Flemish bread-grace, with clasped hands and
reverent eyes, “Oh, dear little Jesus, come
and sup with us, and bring your beautiful



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 51

Mother, too; we will not forget you are God.”
Then, that said, they ate, and drank, and
laughed, and picked cherries from each other’s
mouths like little blackbirds; the big white
dog gnawed a crust at their feet; old Krebs
who had a fiddle, and could play it, came out
and trilled them rude and ready Flemish tunes,
such as Teniers or Mieris might have jumped
to before an alehouse at the Kermesse; Bébée
and the children joined hands, and danced
round together in the broad white moonlight,
on the grass by the water-side; the idlers came
and sat about, the women netting or spinning,
and the men smoking a pipe before bedtime;
the rough hearty Flemish bubbled like a brook
in gossip, or rung like a horn over a jest;
Bébée and the children, tired of their play,
grew quiet, and chanted together the “Ave
Maria Stella Virginis”; a nightingale among
the willows sang to the sleeping swans.

All was happy, quiet, homely; lovely also
in its simple way.

They went early to their beds, as people
must do who rise at dawn.

Bébée leaned out a moment from her own
little casement ere she too went to rest.

Through an open lattice there sounded the
murmur of some little child’s prayer; the wind
sighed among the willows; the nightingales
sang on in the dark— all was still.
’ Hard work awaited her on the morrow, and
on all the other days of the year.



52 BEBEE,

She was only a little peasant,_——she must
sweep, and spin, and dig, and delve, to get
daily her bit of black bread, — but that night
she was as happy as a little princess in a fairy
tale; happy in her playmates, in her flowers,
in her sixteen years, in her red shoes, in her
silver buckles, because she was half a woman;
happy in the dewy leaves, in the singing birds,
in the hush of the night, in the sense of rest, in
the fragrance of flowers, in the drifting changes
of moon and cloud; happy because she was
half a woman, because she was half a poet, be-
cause she was wholly a poet.

“Oh, dear swans, how good it is to be six-
teen !— how good it is to live at all! —do you
not tell the willows so?” said Bébée to the
gleam of silver under the dark leaves by the
water's side, which showed her where her
friends were sleeping, with their snowy wings
closed over their stately heads, and_ the veiled
gold and ruby of their eyes.

The swans did not awake to answer.

Only the nightingale answered from the
willows, with Desdemona’s song.

But Bébée had never heard of Desdemona,
and the willows had no sigh for her.

“Good night!” she said, softly, to all the
green dewy sleeping world, and then she lay
down and slept herself.—The nightingale sang
on, and the willows trembled.

e



OR TWO LITTLE IVWOODEN SHOES. 53

CHAPTER V.

“ TF I could save a centime a day, I could

buy a pair of stockings this time next
year,” thought Bébée, locking her shoes with
her other treasures in her drawer the next morn-
ing, and taking her broom and pail to wash
down her little palace.

But a centime a day is a great deal in Bra-
bant, when one has not always enough for bare
bread, and when, in the long chill winter, one
must weave thread lace all through the short
daylight for next to nothing at all; for there
are so many women in Brabant, and every one
of them, young or old, can make lace, and if
one do not like the pitiful wage, one may leave
it and go and die, for what the master lace-
makers care or know; there will always be
enough, many more than enough, to twist the
thread round the bobbins, and weave the bridal
veils, and the trains for the courts.

“ And besides, if I can save a centime, the
Varnhart children ought to have it,” thought
Bébée, as she swept the dust together. It was
so selfish of her to be dreaming about a pair of
stockings, when those little things often went
for days on a stew of nettles.



54 DEBEL,

So she looked at her own pretty feet, —
pretty and slender, and arched, rosy, and fair,
and uncramped by the pressure of leather, —
and resigned her day-dream with a brave heart,
as she put up her broom and went out to weed,
and hoe, and trim, and prune the garden that
had been for once neglected the night before.

“One could not move half so easily in stock-
ings,” she thought with true philosophy as she
worked among the black, fresh, sweet-smelling
mould, and kissed a rose now and then as she
passed one. 4

When she got into the city that day, her
rush-bottomed chair, which was always left. up-
side down in case rain should fall in the night,
was set ready for her, and on its seat was a gay,
gilded box, such as rich people give away full
of bonbons.

Bébée stood and looked from the box to the
Broodhuis, from the Broodhuis to the box; she
glanced around, but no one had come there so
early as she, except the tinker, who was busy
quarrelling with his wife and letting his smelting
fire burn a hole in his breeches.

“The box was certainly for her, since it was
set upon her chair?” — Bébée pondered a mo-
ment; then little by little opened the lid.

Within, ona nest of rose-satin, were two pair
of silk stockings ! — real silk ! — with the pret-
tiest clocks worked up their sides in color!

Bébée gave a little scream, and stood still,
the blood hot in her cheeks; no one heard her,



OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 55

the tinker’s wife, who alone was near, having
just wished Heaven to send a judgment on her
husband, was busy putting out his smoking
smallclothes. It is away that women and wives
have, and they never see the bathos of it.

The place filled gradually.

The customary crowds gathered. The busi-
ness of the day began underneath the multitu-
dinous tones of the chiming bells. Bébée’s
business began too; she put the box behind
her with a beating heart, and tied up her
flowers.

It was the fairies, of course! but they had
never set arush-bottomed chair on its legs be-
fore, and this action of theirs frightened her.

It was rather an empty morning. She sold
little, and there was the more time to think.

About an hour after noon a voice addressed
her, —

“Have you more moss-roses for me?”

Bébée looked up with a smile, and found
some. It was her companion of the cathedral.
She had thought much of the red shoes and
the silver clasps, but she had thought nothing
at all of him.

“You are not too proud to be paid to-day?”
he said, giving her a silver franc; h= would
not alarm her with any more gold; she thanked
him, and slipped it in her little leathern pouch,
and went on sorting some clove-pinks.

“You do not seem to remember me?” he
said, with a little sadness.



56 BEBEE,

“Oh, I remember you,” said Bébéc, lifting
her frank eyes. “But you know I speak to so
many people, and they are all nothing to me.”

“Who is anything to you?” It was softly
and insidiously spoken, but it awoke no echo.

“Varnhart’s children,” she answered him, in-
stantly. “And old Annémie by the wharfside



—and Tambour—and Antoine’s grave — and
the starling—and, of course, above all, the
flowers.”

“And the fairies, I suppose? — though they
do nothing for you.”

She looked at him eagerly, —



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 57

«They have done something to-day. Ihave
found a box, and some stockings — such beauti-
ful stockings! Silk ones! Is it not very odd?”

“It is more odd they should have forgotten
you so long. May I see them?”

“T cannot show them to you now. Those
ladies are going to buy. But you can see them
later — if you wait.”

“J will wait and paint the Broodhuis.”

“So many people do that; you are a painter

then?”

“Yes — ina way.”

He sat down on an edge of the stall, and
spread his things there, and sketched, whilst
the traffic went on around them. He was very
many years older than she; handsome, with a
dark, and changeful, and listless face; he wore
brown velvet, and had a red ribbon at his
throat; he looked a little as Egmont might
have done when wooing Claire.

Bébée, as she sold the flowers and took the
‘change fifty times in the hour, glanced at him
now and then, and watched the movements of
his hands, she could not have told why.

Always among men and women, always in
the crowds of the streets, people were nothing
to her; she went through them as through a
field of standing corn,—only in the field she
would have tarried for poppies, and in the
town she tarried for no one.

She dealt with men as with women, simply,
truthfully, frankly, with the innocent fearlessness



58 BEBEE,

of a child. When they told her she was
pretty, she smiled; it was just as they said that
her flowers were sweet.

But this man’s hands moved so swiftly; and
as she saw her Broodhuis growing into color
and form beneath them, she could not choose
but look now and then, and twice she gave her
change wrong.

He spoke to her rarely, and sketched on and
on in rapid bold strokes the quaint graces and
massive richness of the Maison du Roi.

There is no crowd so busy in Brabant that it
will not find leisure to stare. The Fleming or
the Walloon has nothing of the Frenchman's
courtesy; he is rough and rude; he remains a
peasant even when town bred, and the surly in-
solence of the ‘‘ Gueux” is in him still. He is
kindly to his fellows, though not to beasts; he
is shrewd, patient, thrifty, industrious, and good
in very many ways, but civil never.

A good score of them left off their occupa-
tions and clustered round the painter, staring,
chattering, pushing, pointing, as though a brush
had never been seen in all the land of Rubens.

Bébée, ashamed of her people, got up from
her chair and rebuked them.

“Oh, men of Brussels; fie then for shame
she called to them as clearly as a robin sings.
“Did never you see a drawing before? and are
there not saints and martyrs enough to look at
in the galleries? and have you never some
better thing to do than to gape wide-mouthed

oo



OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 59

at a stranger? What laziness—ah! just
worthy of a people who sleep and smoke while

_ their dogs work for them! Go away, all of
you; look, there comes the gendarme — it will
be the worse for you. Sir, sit under my stall;
they will not dare trouble you then,”

He moved under the awning, thanking her
with asmile; and the people, laughing, shuffled
unwillingly aside and let him paint on in peace.
‘It was only little Bébée, but they had spoilt the
child from her infancy, and were used to obey her.

The painter took along time. He set about
it with the bold ease of one used to all the in-
tricacies of form and color, and he had the
skill of a master. Buthespent J-
more than half the time looking
idly at the humors of the popu-
lace or watching how the
treasures of Bébée’s garden
went away one by one in
the hands of strangers. i

Meanwhile, ever and
again, sitting on the
edge of her stall, with
his colors and brushes
tossed out on the board,
he talked to her, and,
with the soft imperceptible skill of long practice
in those arts, he drew out the details of her
little simple life.

There were not always people to buy, and
whilst she rested and sheltered the flowers from









60 BEBEE,

the sun, she answered him willingly, and in one
of her longer rests showed him the wonderful
stockings.

“Do you think it could be the fairies?” che
asked him a little doubtfully.

It was casy to make her believe any fantas-
tical nonsense; but her fairies were ethereal
divinities. She could scarcely believe that they
had laid that box on her chair.

“Tmpossible to doubt it!” he replied, un-
hesitatingly. ‘Given a belief in fairics at all,
why should there be any limit to what they can
do? It is the same with the saints; is it not?”

“Yes,” said Bébée, thoughtfully.

The saints were mixed up in her imagination
with the fairies in an intricacy that would
have defied the best reasonings of Father
Francis.

“Well, then, you will wear the stockings,
will you not? Only, believe me, your fect are
far prettier without them.”

Bébée laughed happily, and took another
peep in the cosy rose-satin nest. But her little
face had a certain perplexity. Suddenly she
turned on him.

“Did not you put them there?”

“7? —never!”

“« Are you quite sure?”

“ Quite; but why ask?”

** Because,” said Bébée, shutting the box res-
olutely and pushing it alittle away, — ‘ because
I would not take it if you did. You are a



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 6r

stranger, and a present is a debt, so Antoine
always said.”

“Why take a present then from the Varnhart
children, or your old friend who gave you the
clasps?” ;

“Ah, that is very different. When people
are very, very poor, equally poor, the one with
the other, little presents that they save for and
make with such a difficulty are just things that
are a pleasure; sacrifices; like your sitting up
with a sick person at night, and then she sits up
with you another year when you want it. Do
you not know?”

“T know you talk very prettily. But why
should you not take any one else’s present,
though he may not be poor?”

“ Because I could not return it.” '

“ Could you not?”

The smile in his eyes dazzled her a little; it
was so strange, and yet had so much light
in it; but she did not understand him one
whit.

“No; how could I?” she said earnestly.
“Tf I were to save for two years, I could not get
francs enough to buy anything worth giving
back; and I should be so unhappy, thinking of
the debt of it always. Do tell me if you put
those stockings there? ”

“No”; he looked at her, and the trivial lie
faltered and died away; the eyes, clear as crys-
tal, questioned him so innocently. ‘Well, if I
did?” he said, frankly; ‘you wished for them;



62 pea BEBEE,

what harm was there? Will you be so cruelas
to refuse them from me?”

The tears sprang into Bébée’s eyes. She was
sorry to lose the beautiful box, but more sorry
he had lied to her.

“Tt was very kind and good,” she said, re-
egretfully. ‘“ But I cannot think why you should
have done it, as you had never known me at
all. And, indeed, I could not take them, be-
cause Antoine would not let me if he were
alive; and if I gave you a flower every day all
the year round I should not pay you the worth
of them, it would be quite impossible; and
why should you tell me falsehoods about such
a thing? A falsehood is never a thing for a
man.”

She shut the box and pushed it towards him,
and turned to the selling of her bouquets. Her
voice shook a little as she tied up a bunch of
mignonette and told the price of it.

Those beautiful stockings! why had she ever
seen them, and why had he told her a lie?

It made her heart heavy. For the first time
in her bricf life the Broodhuis seemed to frown
between her and the sun.

Undisturbed, he painted on and did not look
at her.

The day was nearly done. The -people be-
gan to scatter. The shadows grew very long.
He painted, not glancing once elsewhere than
at his study. Bébée’s’ baskets were quite
empty.



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 63

She rose, and lingered, and regarded him
wistfully: he was angered; perhaps she had
been rude? Her little heart failed her.

If he would only look up !

But he did not look up; he kept his hand-
some dark face studiously over the canvas of
the Broodhuis. She would have seen a smile
in his eyes if he had lifted them; but he never
raised his lids.

Bébée hesitated: take the stockings she
would not; but perhaps she had refused them
too roughly. She wished so that he would
look up and save her speaking first; but he
knew what he was about too warily and well to
help her thus.

She waited awhile, then took one little red
moss-rosebud that she had saved all day in a
corner of her basket, and held it out to him
frankly, shyly, as a peace offering.

“Was I rude? I did not mean to be. But
I cannot take the stockings; and why did you
tell me that falsehood?”

He took the rosebud and rose too, and smiled ;
but he did not meet her eyes.

“Let us forget the whole matter; it is not
worth a sou. If you do not take the box, leave
it; itis of no use to me.”

«J cannot take it.”

She knew she was doing right. How was it
that he could make her feel as though she were
acting wrongly? ;



64 BEBEE,

“Leave it then, I say. You are not the first
woman, my dear, who has quarrelled with a wish
fulfilled. It is a way your sex has of reward-
ing gods and men.—Here, you old witch,
here is atreasure-trove for you. You can sell
it for ten francs in the town anywhere.”

As he spoke he tossed the casket and the
stockings in it to an old decrepit woman, who was
passing by with a baker’s cart drawn by a dog;
and, not staying to heed her astonishment,
gathered his colors and easel together.

The tears swam in Bébée’s eyes as she saw
the box whirled through the air.

She had done right; she was sure she had
done right.

He was a stranger, and she could never have
repaid him; but he made her feel herself way-
ward and ungrateful, and it was hard to see the
beautiful fairy gift borne away forever by. the
chuckling, hobbling, greedy old baker’s woman.
If he had only taken it himself, she would have
been glad then to have been brave and to have
done her duty.

But it was not in his design that she* should
be glad.

He saw her tears, but he seemed not to see
them.

‘Good night, Bébée,” he said carelessly, as
he sauntered aside from her. ‘Good night,
my dear. To-morrow I will finish my paint-
ing; but I will not offend you by any more
gifts.”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 65

Bébée lifted her drooped head, and looked him
in the eyes eagerly, with a certain sturdy resolve
and timid wistfulness intermingled in her look.

“Sir, see, you speak to me quite wrongly,”
she said with a quick accent, that had pride as
well as painin it. ‘Say it was kind to bring
me whatI wished for; yes, it was kind I know;
but you never saw me till last night, and Ican-
not tell even your name; and it is very wrong
to lie to any one, even to a little thing like me;
and I am only Bébée, and cannot give you any-
thing back, because I have only just enough to
feed myself and the starling, and not always
that in winter. I thank you very much for
what you wished to do; but if I had taken
those things, I think you would have thought
me very mean and full of greed; and Antoine
always said, ‘Do not take what you cannot
pay — not ever what you cannot pay —that
is the way to walk with pure feet.’ Perhaps I
spoke ill, because they spoil me, and they say
I am too swift to say my mind. But I am not
thankless — not thankless, indeed —it is only
I could not take what I cannot pay. That is
all. You are angry still — not now— no?”

There was anxiety in the pleading. What
did it matter to her what a stranger thought?

And yet Bébée’s heart was heavy as he
laughed a little coldly, and bade her good day,
and left her alone to go out of the city home-
wards. A sense of having donewrong weighed ©
on her; of having been rude and ungrate‘ul.



66 BEBE !,

She had no heart for the children that even-
ing. Mére Krebs was sitting out before her
door shelling peas, and called to her to come
-in.and have a drop of coffee. Krebs had come
in from Vilvdorde fair, and brought a stock of
rare good berries withhim. But Bébée-thanked
her, and went on to her own garden to work.

She had always liked to sit out on the quaint
wooden steps of the mill and under the red
shadow of the sails, watching the swallows
flutter to and fro in the sunset, and hearing the
droll frogs croak in the rushes, while the old
people told her tales of the time of how in
their babyhood they had run out, fearful yet
fascinated, to see the beautiful Scots Grays
flash by in the murky night, and the endless
line of guns and caissons crawl black as a
snake through the summer dust and _ the
trampled corn, going out past the woods to
Waterloo.

But to-night she had no fancy for it: she
wanted to be alone with the flowers.

Though, to be sure, they had been very
heartless when Antoine’s coffin had gone past
them, still they had sympathy; the daisies
smiled at her with their golden eyes, and the
roses dropped tears on her hand, just as her
mood might be; the flowerswere closer friends,
after all, than any human souls; and _ besides,
she could say so much to them!

Flowers belong to fairyland; the flowers
and the birds and the butterflies are all that



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 67

the world has kept of its Golden Age; the
only perfectly beautiful things on earth, joyous,
innocent, half divine, useless, say they who are
wiser than God.

Bébée went home and worked among her
flowers.

A little laborious figure, with her petti-
coats twisted high, and her feet wet with the night
dews, and her back bowed to the hoeing and
clipping and raking among the blossoming plants.

‘How late you are working to-night, Bé-
bée!” one or two called out, as they passed
the gate. She looked up and smiled; but
went on working while the white moon rose.

She did not know what ailed her.

She went to bed without supper, leaving her
bit of bread and bowl of goat’s milk to make
a meal for the fowls in the morning.

“Little ugly, shameful, naked feet!” she
said to them, sitting on the edge of her mat-
tress, and looking at them in the moonlight.
They were very pretty feet, and would not have
been half so pretty in silk hose and satin shoon ;
but she did not know that: he had told her
she wanted those vanities.

She sat still a long while, her rosy feet sway-
ing to and fro like two roses that grow on one
stalk and hang down in the wind. The little
lattice was open; the sweet and dusky garden
was beyond; there was a hand’s breadth of sky,
in which a single star was shining; the leaves
of the vine hid all the rest.



68 BEBEE,

But for once she saw none of it.

She only saw the black Broodhuis; the red
and gold sunset overhead; the gray stones,
_ with the fallen rose leaves and crushed fruits;
and in the shadows two dark, reproachful eyes,
that looked at hers.

Had she been ungrateful?

The little tender, honest heart of her was
troubled and oppressed. For once, that night
she slept ill.



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 69

CHAPTER VI.

LL the next day she sat under the yellow
awning, but she sat alone.

Tt was market day; there were many
strangers. Flowers were in demand. The
copper pieces were ringing against one another
all the hours through in her leathern bag.
The cobbler was in such good humor that he
forgot to quarrel with his wife. The fruit was
in such plenty that they gave her a leaf-full of
white and red currants for her noonday dinner.
And the people split their sides at the Cheap
John’s jokes; he was so droll. No one saw
the leaks in his kettles or the hole in his bel-
lows, or the leg that was lacking to his milking
stool.

Everybody was gay and merry that day.
But Bébée’s eyes looked wistfully over the
throng, and did not find what they sought.
Somehow the day seemed dull, and the square
empty.

The stones and the timbers around seemed
more than ever full of a thousand stories that
they would not tell her because she knew
nothing, and was only Bébée.



70 BEBEE,

She had never known a dull hour before.
She, a little bright, industrious, gay thing, .
whose hands were always full of work, and
whose head was always full of fancies, even in
the grimmest winter time, when she wove the
lace in the gray, chilly workroom, with
the frost on the casements, and the mice
running out in their hunger over the bare brick
floor.

That bare room was a sad enough place
sometimes, when the old women would bewail
how they starved on the pittance they gained,
and the young women sighed for their aching |
heads and their failing eyesight, and the chil-
dren dropped great tears on the bobbins, be-
cause they had come out without a crust to
break their fast.

She had been sad there often for others, but
she had never been dull—not with this un-
familiar, desolate, dreary dulness, that seemed
to take all the mirth out of the busy life around
her, and all the color out of the blue sky above.
Why, she had no idea herself. She wondered
if she were going to be ill; she had never been
ill in her life, being strong as a little bird that
has never known cage or captivity.

When the day was done, Bébée gave a quick
sigh as she looked across the square. She had
so wanted to tell him that she was not ungrate-
ful; and she had a little moss-rose ready, with
a sprig of sweetbrier, and a tiny spray of
maidenhair fern that grew under the willows,



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, yI

which she had kept covered up with a leaf of
sycamore all the day long.

No one would have it now.

The child went out of the place sadly as the
carillon rang. There was only the moss-rose
in her basket, and the red and white currants
that had been given her for her dinner.

She went along the twisting, many-colored,
quaintly fashioned streets, till she came to the
water-side.

It is very ancient there still, there are all
manner of old buildings, black and brown and
gray, peaked roofs, gabled windows, arched
doors, crumbling bridges, twisted galleries lean-
ing to touch the dark surface of the canal,
dusky wharves crowded with barrels, and bales,
and cattle, and timber, and all the various
freightage that the good ships come and go
with all the year round, to and from the Zuyder-
Zee, and the Baltic water, and the wild Nor-
thumbrian shores, and the iron-bound Scottish
l.eadlands, and the pretty gray Norman: sea-
ports, and the white sandy dunes of Holland,
with the toy towns and the straight poplar-
trees.

Bébée was fond of watching the brigs and
barges, that looked so big to her, with their
national flags flying, and their tall masts stand-
ing thick as grass, and their tawny sails flapping |
in the wind, and about them the sweet, strong
smell of that strange, unknown thing, the
sea,



ef

BEBEE,

wT
»

Sometimes the sailors would talk with her ;
sometimes some old salt, sitting astride of a
cask, would tell her a mariner’s tale of far-away
lands and mysteries of the deep; sometimes
some curly-headed cabin-boy would give her a
shell or a plume of seaweed, and try and
make her understand what the wonderful wild



water was like, which was not quiet and slug-
gish and dusky as this canal was, but was for-
ever changing and moving, and curling and
leaping, and making itself now blue as her
eyes, now black as that thunder-cloud, now
white as the snow that the winter wind tossed,



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. ii

now pearl hued and opaline as the convolvulus
that blew in her own garden.

And Bébée would listen, with the shell in
her lap, and try to understand, and gaze at the
ships and then at the sky beyond them, and
try to figure to herself those strange countries
to which these ships were always going, and
saw in fancy all the blossoming orchard prov-
ince of green France, and all the fir-clothed
hills and rushing rivers of the snow-locked
Swedish shore, and saw too, doubtless, many
lands that had no place at all except in dream-
land, and were more beautiful even than the
beauty of the earth, as poets’ countries are, to
their own sorrow, oftentimes.

But this dull day Bébée did not go down
upon the wharf; she did not want the sailors’
tales; she saw the masts and the bits of bunt-
ing that streamed from them, and they made
her restless, which they had never done
before.

Instead she went in at a dark old door and
climbed up a steep staircase that went up and
up, as though she were mounting St. Gudule’s
belfry towers; and at the top of it entered a
little chamber in the roof, where one square
unglazed hole that served for light looked out
upon the canal, with all its crowded craft, from
the dainty schooner yacht, fresh as gilding and
holystone could make her, that was running
for pleasure to the Scheldt, to the rude, clumsy
coal barge, black as night, that. bore the rough









74 BEBEE,

diamonds of Belgium to the snow-buried roofs
of Christiania and Stromstad.

In the little dark attic there was a very old
woman ina red petticoat and a high cap, who
sat against the window, and pricked out lace
patterns with a pin on thick paper.
She was eighty-five years old, and
could hardly keep body and soul
\\ oe
Bébée, running to her, kissed her.

“ Oh, mother Annémie, look
here! Beautiful red and white
\ currants, and a roll; I saved

\them for you. They are the
Â¥ first currants we have seen this
year. Me? oh, for me, I have
eaten more than are good!
You know I pick fruit like a sparrow, always.
Dear mother Annémie, are you better? Are
you quite sure you are better to-day?”

The little old withered woman, brown as a
walnut and meagre as a rush, took the currants,
and smiled with a childish glee, and began to
eat them, blessing the child with each crumb
she broke off the bread.

“Why had you not a grandmother of your
own, my little one?” she mumbled. “How
good you would have been to her, Bébée!”

“Ves,” said Bébée seriously, but her mind
could not grasp the idea. It was easier for her
to believe the fanciful lily parentage of An-
tcine’s stories. ‘How much work have you



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 75

done, Annémie? Oh, all that? all that? But
there is enough for a week. You work too
early and too late, you dear Annémie.”

“Nay, Bébée, when one has to get one’s
bread that cannot be. But I am afraid my
eyes are failing. That rose now, is it well
done?”

_ © Beautifully done. Would the Baés take
them if they were not? You know he is one
that cuts every centime in four pieces.”

“Ah! sharp enough, sharp enough, that
is true. But I am always afraid of my eyes.
I do not see the flags out there so well as I used
to do.”

“Because the sun is so bright, Annémie;
that is all. I myself, when I have been sitting
all day in the place in the light, the flowers
look pale to me. And you know it is not age
with me, Annémie?”

The old woman and the young girl laughed
together at that droll idea.

“You have a merry heart, dear little one,”
said old Annémie. ‘The saints keep it to you
always.”

“May I tidy the room a little?”

“To be sure, dear, and thank you too. I
have not much time, you see; and somehow
my back'aches badly when I stoop.”

«And it is so damp here for you, over all
that water!” said Bébée as she swept and
dusted and set to rights the tiny place, and
put in a little broken pot a few sprays of



76 i BEBEE,

honeysuckle and rosemary that she had brought
with her. “It is so damp here. You should
have comeand lived in my hut with me, Annémie,
and sat out under the vine all day, and looked
after the chickens for me when I was in the
town. They are such mischievous little souls;
as soon as my back is turned one or other is
sure to push through the roof, and get out
among the flower-beds. Will you never change
your mind, and live with me, Annémie? Iam
sure you would be happy, and the starling says
your name quite plain, and he is such a funny
bird to talk to; you never would tire of him.
Will you never come? It is so bright there,
and green and sweet smelling; and to think
you never even have seen it! and the swans
and all, —it is a shame.”

“No, dear,’ said old Annémie, eating her
last bunch of currants. ‘You have said so so
often, and you are good and mean it, that I
know. But I could not leave the water.
It would kill me. Out of this window you
know I saw my Jeannot’s brig go away—
away — away —till the masts were lost in the
mists. Going with iron to Norway; the ‘Fleur
d’Epine’ of this town, a good ship, and a sure,
and her mate; and as proud as might be, and
with a little blest Mary in lead round his throat.
She was to be back in port in eight months,
bringing timber. Eight months —that brought
Easter time. But she never came. Never,
never, never, you know. I sat here watching



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 77

them come and go, and my child sickened and
died, and the summer passed, and the autumn,
and all the while I looked — looked — looked;
for the brigs are all much alike; and only
her I always saw as soon as she hove in
sight (because he tied a hank of flax to her
mizzen-mast); and when he was home safe and
sound I spun the hank into hose for him; that
was a fancy of his, and for eleven voyages, one
on another, he had never missed to tie the flax
nor I to spin the hose. But the hank of flax I
never saw this time; nor the brave brig; nor
my good man with his sunny blue eyes. Only
one day in winter, when the great blocks of ice
were smashing hither and thither, a coaster
came in and brought tidings of how off in the
Danish waters they had come on a water-logged
brig, and had boarded her, and had found her
empty, and her hull riven in two, and her crew
all drowned and dead beyond any manner of
doubt. Andon her stern there was her name
painted white, the ‘Fleur d’Epine,’ of Brussels,
as plain as name could be; and that was all we
ever knew: what evil had struck her, or how
they had perished, nobody ever told. Only the
coaster brought that bit of beam away, with the
‘Fleur d’Epine’ writ clear upon it. But you
see I never Avow my man is dead. Any day
— who can say? —any one of those ships may
bring him aboard of her, and he may leap out
on the wharf there, and come running up the
stairs as he used to do, and cry, in his merry



78 BEBEE,

voice, ‘Annémie, Annémie, here is more flax
to spin, here is more hose to weave!’ For that
was always his homeward word; no matter
whether he had had fair weather or foul, he
always knotted the flax to his ‘masthead. So
you see, dear, I could not leave here. For
what if he came and found me away? He
would say it was an odd fashion of mourning for
him. And I could not do without the window,
you know. J can watch all the brigs come in;
and Ican smell the shipping smell that I have
loved all the days of my life; and I can see the
lads heaving, and climbing, and furling, and
mending their bits of canvas, and hauling their
flags up and down. And then who can say? —
the sea never took him, I think —I think I
shall hear his voice before I die. For they do
say that God is good.”

Bébée, sweeping very noiselessly, listened, and
her eyes grew wistful and wondering. She had
heard the story a thousand times; always in
different words, but always the same little tale,
and she knew how old Annémie was deaf to all
the bells that tolled the time, and blind to all
the whiteness of her hair and all the wrinkles of
her face, and only thought of her sea-slain
lover as he had been in the days of her youth.

But this afternoon the familiar history had a
new patheticalness for her, and as the old soul
put aside with her palsied hand the square of
canvas that screened the casement, and looked
out, with her old dim sad _ eyes strained in the



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. "9

longing that God never answered, Bébée felt a
strange chill at her own heart, and wondered
to herself, —

«“ What can it be to care for another creature
like that? It must be so terrible, and yet it
must be beautiful-too. Does every one suffer
like that?” “

She did not speak at all as she finished
sweeping the bricks, and went down-stairs for a
- metal cruche full of water, and set over a little
charcoal on the stove the old woman’s brass
soup kettle with her supper of stewing cabbage.

Annémie did not hear or notice; she was
still looking out of the hole in the wall on to
the masts, and the sails, and the water.

It was twilight.

From the barges and brigs there came the
smell of the sea. The sailors were shouting to
each other. The craft were crowded close, and
lost in the growing darkness. On the other side
of the canal the belfries were ringing for vespers.

“Eleven voyages one and another, and he
never forgot to tie the flax to the mast,” An-
némie murmured, with her old wrinkled face
leaning out into the gray air. “It used to
fly there, —one could see it coming up half a
mile off, —just a pale yellow flake on the wind,
like a tress of my hair, he would say. No, no,
I could not go away; he may come to-night,
to-morrow, any time; he is not drowned, not
my man; he was all I had, and God is good,
they say.”



80 BEBEE,

Bébée listened and looked; then kissed the old
shaking hand and took up the lace patterns and
went softly out of the room without speaking.

\\ I, an | , tL

I
t

























\\, \\\,



Aer



When old Annémie watched at the window
it was useless to seck for any word or sign of
her; people said that she had never becn quite



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. Sr

right in her brain since that fatal winter noon
sixty years before, when the coaster had
brought into port the broken beam of the good
brig “ Fleur d’Epine.”

Bébée did not know about that, nor heed
whether her wits were right or not.

She had known the old creature in the lace-
room where Annémie pricked out designs, and
she had conceived a great regard and sorrow
for her; and when Annémie had become too
ailing and aged to go herself any longer to the
lace-maker’s place, Bébée had begged leave for
her to have the patterns at home, and had
carried them to and fro for her for the last three
or four years, doing many other little useful
services for the lone old soul as well, — services
which Annémie hardly perceived, she had
grown so used to them, and her feeble intelli-
gence was so sunk in the one absorbing idea
that she must watch all the days through and
all the years through for the coming of the
dead man and the lost brig.

Bébée put the lace patterns in her basket,
and trotted home, her sabots clattering on the
stones.

«What it must be to care for any one like
that!” she thought, and by some vague asso-
ciation of thought that she could not have pur-
sued, she lifted the leaves and looked at the
moss-rosebud.

It was quite dead.



82 BEBEE,

CHAPTER VII.

i she got clear of the city and out on her
country road, a shadow fell across her
in the evening light.

“Have you had a good day, little one?”
asked a voice that made her stop with a curious
vague expectancy and pleasure.

“Tt is you!” she said, with a little cry, as
she saw her friend of the silk stockings leaning
on a gate midway in the green and solitary
road that leads to Laeken.

“Yes, it is I,” he answered, as he joined her.
“ Have you forgiven me, Bébée?”

She looked at him with frank, appealing
eyes, like those of a child in fault.

“Qh, I did not sleep all night!” she said,
simply. “J thought I had been rude and un-
grateful, and I could not be sure I had done
right, though to have done otherwise would
certainly have been wrong.”

He laughed.

‘‘Well, that is a clearer deduction than is to
be drawn from most moral uncertainties. Do
not think twice about the matter, my dear. I
-have not, I assure you.”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 83

“No!”

She was a little disappointed. It seemed
such an immense thing to her; and she had
lain awake all the night, turning it about in her
little brain, and appealing vainly for help in it
to the sixteen sleep-angels.

“No, indeed. And where are you going so
fast, as if those wooden shoes of yours were
sandals of Mercury?”

“ Mercury —is that a shoemaker?”

“No, my dear. He did a terrible bit of cob-
bling once, when he made Woman. But he did
not shoe her feet with swiftness that I know of;
she only runs away to be run after, and if you
do not pursue her, she comes back— always.”

Bébée did not understand at all.

“T thought God made women,’
little awe-stricken.

“You call it God. People three thousand
years ago called it Mercury or Hermes. Both
mean the same thing,—mere words to desig-
nate an unknown quality. Where are you
going? Does your home lie here?”

«Ves, onward, quite far onward,” said Bébée,
wondering that he had forgotten all she had
told him the day before about her hut, her
garden, and her neighbors. “ You did not
come and finish your picture to-day: why was
that? I had a rosebud for you, but it is dead
now.”

“JT went to Anvers. You looked for me a
little, then?”

d

she said, a



84 BEBEE,

“Oh, all day long. For I was so afraid I
had been ungrateful.”

“That is very pretty of you. Women are
never grateful, my dear, except when they are.
very ill-treated. Mercury, whom we were talk-
ing of, gave them, among other gifts, a dog’s
heart.”

Bébée felt bewildered; she did not reason
about it, but the idle, shallow, cynical tone
pained her by its levity and its unlikeness to
the sweet, still, gray summer evening.

‘“Why are you in such a hurry?” he pur-
sued, ‘The night is cool, and it is only seven
o'clock. I will walk part of the way with
you.”

“Tam in a hurry because I have Annémie’s
patterns to do,” said Bébée, glad that he spoke
of a thing that she knew how to answer. ‘You
see, Annémie’s hand shakes and her eyes are
dim, and she pricks the pattern all awry and
never perceives it; it would break her heart if
one showed her so, but the Baés would not
take them as they are; they are of no use at
all. So I prick them out myself on fresh
paper, and the Baés thinks it is all her doing,
and pays her the same money, and she is quite
content. AndasI carry the patterns to and fro
for her, because she cannot walk, it is easy to
cheat her like that; and it is no harm to cheat
so, you know.” He was silent.

“You are a good little girl, Bébée, I can
see,” he said at last, with a graver sound in his



OR TWO TITTLE IVWOODEN SHOES. 85

voice. “And who is this Annémie for whom
you do so much? an old woman, I suppose.”

“ Oh, yes, quite old; incredibly old. Her
man was drowned at sea sixty years ago, and
she watches for his brig still, night and morn-
ing.”

“The dog’s heart. No doubt he beat her,
and had a wife in fifty other ports.” ;

“Oh, no!” said Bébée, with a little cry, as
though the word against the dead man hurt
her. ‘She has told me so much of him. He
was as good as good could be, and loved her
so, and between the voyages they were so
happy. Surely that must have been sixty years
now, and she is so sorry still, and still will not
believe that he was drowned.”

He looked down on her with a smile that
had a certain. pity in it.

“Well, yes; there are women like that, I be-
lieve. But be very sure, my dear, he beat her.
Of the two, one always holds the whip and uses
it, the other crouches.”

“JT do not understand,” said Bébée.

“No; but you will.”

“ T will?— when?”

He smiled again.

“ Oh —to-morrow, perhaps, or next year —
or when Fate fancies.”

“ Or rather, when I choose,” he thought to
himself, and let his cyes rest with a certain
pleasure on the little feet, that went beside him
in the grass, and the pretty fair bosom that



86 BEBEE,

showed ever and again, as the frills of her linen
bodice were blown back by the wind and her
own quick motion.

Bébée looked also up at him; he was very
handsome, and looked so to her, after the
broad, blunt, characterless faces of the Walloon
peasantry around her. He walked with an’
easy grace, he was clad in picture-like velvets, he
had a beautiful poetic head, and eyes like deep
brown waters, and a face like one of Jordaens’
or Rembrandt’s cavaliers in the galleries where
she used to steal in of a Sunday, and look up at
the paintings, and dream of what that world
could be in which those people had lived.

“ You are of the people of Rubes’ country, are
you not? ” she asked him.

“ Of what country, my dear?”

‘Of the people that live in the gold frames,”
said Bébée, quite seriously. ‘In the galleries,
you know. J know a charwoman that scrubs
the floors of the Arenberg Palace, and she lets
me in sometimes to look; and you are just like
those great gentlemen in the gold frames, only
you have not a hawk and a sword, and they
always have. I used to wonder where they
came from, for they are not like any of us one
bit, and the charwoman — she is Lisa Dredel,
and lives in the street of the Pot d’Etain —
always said, ‘Dear heart, they all belong to
Rubes’ land; we never see their like nowa-
days.’ But you must come out of Rubes’ land;
at least, I think so, do you not?”



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 87

He caught her meaning; he knew that Rubes
was the homely abbreviation of Rubens that
all the Netherlanders used, and he guessed the
idea that was reality to this little lonely fanciful
mind.

‘Perhaps I do,” he answered her with a

0
aN




ly i) i | eS r i‘

al .
smile, for it was not worth his while to disabuse
her thoughts of any imagination that glorified
him to her. “Do you not want to see Rubes’
world, little one? To see the gold and the
grandeur, and the glitter of it all? —never to



88 BEBEE,

toil or get tired? —always to move in a
pageant? — always to live like the hawks in the
paintings you talk of, with silver bells hung
round you, and a hood all sewn with pearls?”

“No,” said Bébée, simply. ‘(I should like
to see it, just to see it, as one looks through a
grating into the king’s grape-houses here. But
T should not like to live in it. I love my hut,
and the starling, and the chickens, and what
would the garden do without me? and the
children, and the old Annémie? I could not
anyhow, anywhere, be any happier than I am.
There is only one thing I wish.”

« And what is that?”

“To know something; not to be so igno-
rant. Just look—I can read a little, it is true:
my Hours, and the letters, and when Krebs
brings in a newspaper I can read a little of it,
not much. I know French well, because
Antoine was French himself, and never did
talk Flemish to me; and they being Nether-
landers, cannot, of course, read the newspapers
at all, and so think it very wonderful indeed in
me. But what I want is to know things, to
know all about what was before ever I was
living. St. Gudule now — they say it was built
hundreds of years before; and Rubes again —
they say he was a painter king in Antwerpen
before the oldest, oldest woman. like Annémie
ever began to count time. I am sure books
tell you all those things, because I see the
students coming and going with them; and



OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 89

when I saw once the millions of books in the
Rue du Musée, I asked the keeper what use
they were for, and he said, ‘To make men wise,
my dear. But Gringoire Bac, the cobbler, who
was with me,—it was a féte day,— Bac, he
said, ‘Do not you believe that, Bébée; they
only muddle folks’ brains; for one book tells
them one thing, and another book another, and
so on, till they are dazed with all the contrary
lying; and if you see a bookish man, be sure
_ you see a very poor creature who could not
hoe a patch, or kill a pig, or stitch an upper-
leather, were it ever so.’ But I do not believe
that Bac said right. Did he?”

“Tam not sure. On the whole, I think it is
the truest remark on literature I have ever
heard, and one that shows great judgment in
Bac. Well?”

“Well, sometimes, you know,” said Bébée,
not understanding his answer, but pursuing her
thoughts confidentially, —‘‘sometimes I talk
like this to the neighbors, and they laugh at
me. Because Mére Krebs says that when one
knows how to spin and sweep and make bread
and say one’s prayers and milk a goat or a cow,
it is all a woman wants to know this side of
heaven. But for me, I cannot help it, when
I look at those windows in the cathedral, or at
those beautiful twisted little spires that are all
over our Hdtel de Ville, I want to know who the
men were that made them,— what they did
and thought, — how they looked and spoke, —



90 BEBEE,

how they learned to shape stone into leaves and
grasses like that, — how they could imagine all
those angel faces on the glass. When I go
alone in the quite early morning or at night
when it is still— sometimes in winter I have to
stay till it is dark over the lace —I hear their
feet come after me, and they whisper to me
close, ‘Look what beautiful things we have
done, Bébée, and you all forget us quite. We
did what never will die, but our names are as
dead as the stones.’ And then I am so sorry
for them and ashamed. And I want to know
more. Can you tell me?”

He looked at her earnestly; her eyes were
shining, her cheeks were warm, her little mouth
was tremulous with eagerness.

“Did any one ever speak to you in that
way?” he asked her.

“No,” she answered him. “It comes into
my head of itself. Sometimes I think the
cathedral angels put it there. For the angels
must be tired, you know; always pointing to
God and always seeing men turn away. I used
to tell Antoine sometimes. But he used to
shake his head and say that it was no use think-
ing; most likely St. Gudule and St. Michael
had set the church down in the night all ready
made, why not? God made the trees, and
they were more wonderful, he thought, for his
part. And so perhaps they are, but that is no
answer. And I do want to know. I want
some one who will tell me; and if you come



OR TWO LITTLE WOONMEN SHOES. QI

out of Rubes’ country as I think, no doubt you
know everything, or remember it?”

He smiled.

“The free pass to Rubes’ country lies in
books, pretty one. Shall I give you some? —
nay, lend them, I mean, since giving you are
too wilful to hear of without offence. You
can read, you said?”

Bébée’s eyes glowed as they lifted themselves
to his.

“T can read—— not very fast, but that would
come with doing it more and more, I think, just
as spinning does; one knots the thread and
breaks it a million times before one learns to
spin as fine as cobwebs. I have read the
stories of St. Anne, and of St. Catherine, and
of St. Luven fifty times, but they are all the
books that Father Francis has; and no one
else has any among us.”

“Very well. You shall have books of mine.
Easy ones first, and then those that are more
serious. But what time will you have? You
do so much; you are like a little golden bee.”

Bébée laughed happily.

““Qh! give me the books and I will find the
time. It is lightso early now. That gives one
somany hours. In winter one has so few one
must lie in bed, because to buy a candle you know
one cannot afford except, of course, a taper now
and then, as one’s duty is, for our Lady or for
the dead. And will you really, really, lend me
books?”



Full Text
: Sy On ee ee ie) ey eer


The Baldwin Library

University

RMB wisi


Bie BIE

Two LITTLE WOODEN SHOES.

BEBEE

Two LITTLE WoopDEN SHOES
A STORY

BY LOUISA DE LA RAME
(“OUIDA”)

Illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry
BOSTON

JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY
1896
CopyRIGHT, 1895
BY
JoserH Kyicut Company


ah ne ee Saag THIN go spa hen era GS

PAGE.
Bébée ; F 5 8 B . frontispiece.
Headpiece to List of ilusentions , , ; v
Tailpiece to List of Illustrations : , 2 F vii
Headpiece to ChapterI - S ; - 5 ; I
“ Old Antoine took it to his wife” : 3

“ Bébée when it trotted no higher has the ea carna-
tion heads” é . i 4

“ And there are a few eres and cabins here near
the pretty water” . . 5
“¢But there is nobody that has ne right’ ie Bébée” 12
“ My mother was a flower ’ 5 . , , 5 15
Tleadpiece to Chapter II. : : 7 ; , 20
“ She had to be active amidst them ”’ : ; 22
“The old man unlocked it with a trembling nance : 26
A bit of the Hotel de Ville f : 5 30

“The bright little cafés were thronged with anes
seekers ” 7 ‘i , ; 31

“ And all his spare time was isin up in ceeine his
cabbage plot and seeing to his beehives ” : 3 33
“Or a Gothic arch yawns beneath a wool warehouse ” 35
Initial, The little cross woman with the pedler’s tray” 39

“ Her little muslin cap blew back lixe the wings of a
white butterfly”. 5 5 ; : 5 , 43
vi - LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

St. Gudule’s :

“ Bébée looked up with a eile?

“Sitting on the edge of her stall ” .

“ And Bébée would listen, the shell in her lap” .

“In the little dark attic there was a very old woman”

“ Old Annémie watched at the window”

““* You are of the people of Rubes’ country, are you
not?’”.

“ Against the dusky ted ao. a vounen man w with a iiaile

of brushwood on his back ””
“ As she sat on the edge of the roof”

«*Then she went and kneeled down before ihe old

shrine in the wall of the ae ae

Jeannot . és 5

“ As she also hung out ae nen 2

“ His beautiful Murillo head was dark ”

“In winter time drove a milk cart over the snow”’

“ More than once he came and filled in more fully his
various designs in the little hut garden” .

“All the people are gone on a Seay i

“Tt was a pretty picture —

“There was a sad nae Gaivarye on the cine of

the harvest-field that looked black against the blue
sky ” . F , 5 ;
“It was Gretchen, spinning, out in the open air”

“He answered her dreamily, and lay there in the

grass” . ,

“Some one was playing a ean eat

Initial “The shrine in the wall ”

“You will come back’ she moaned”

“In the lane by the swans’ water ”

Tailpiece, “The Varnhart children” .

““The poor to pick up the broken, bare boughs ”

“The keeper of the stall chose good volumes for
her”

PAGE,

56
59
72
74
80

87

96
102

108
120
123
127
134

127
148
155

165
170

174
180
186
197
202
203
204.

206
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS, vii

PAGE,
“ And just the same was seen trudging to and fro”. 212
‘“ And the Host was borne by on high” =. : : 218
“She sat under a shrine in a by street a moment ” : 230
“In the woods and fields about Alne she began to
breathe again” s : 3 , : : z 234
“The barges: dropping down'the sluggish streams” . 239
“ Paris in all its glory was about her ” me : 243
“Jeannot, with Father Francis prayed befure the
shrine of the Seven Sorrows” . : ; : 252
Tailpiece, “ Two little wooden shoes” ‘ : : 255



e aut wenintlvis
ae




CPM 7

BEBEE,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES.

CHAPTER I.

EBEE sprang out of bed at daybreak.
She was sixteen.

It seemed a very wonderful thing to be as
much as that— sixteen — a woman quite.

A cock was crowing under her lattice. He
said how old you are!—how old you are !
every time that he sounded his clarion.

She opened the lattice and wished him good
day, with a laugh. It was so pleasant to be
woke by him, and to think that no one in all
the world could ever call one a child any
more.

There was a kid bleating in the shed. There
was a thrush singing in the dusk of the syca-
more leaves. There was a calf lowing to its
2 BEBEE,

mother away there beyond the fence. There
were dreamy muffled bells ringing in the dis-
tance from many steeples and belfries where
the city was; they all said one thing, “How
good it is to be so old as that—how good,
how very good!”

Bébée was very pretty.

No one in all Brabant ever denied that. To
took at her it seemed as if she had so lived
among the flowers that she had grown like
them, and only looked a bigger blossom — that
was all.

She wore two little wooden shoes and a little
cotton cap, anda gray kirtle—linen in summer,
serge in winter; but the little feet in the shoes
were like rose leaves, and the cap was as white
asa lily, and the gray kirtle was like the bark
of the bough that the apple-blossom parts, and
peeps out of, to blush in the sun.

The flowers had been the only godmothers
that she had.ever had, and fairy godmothers too.

The marigolds and the sunflowers had given
her their ripe, rich gold to tint her hair; the
lupins and irises had lent their azure to her
eyes; the moss-rosebuds had made her pretty
mouth; the arum lilies had uncurled their soft-
ness for her skin; and the lime-blossoms had
given her their frank, fresh, innocent fragrance.

The winds had: blown, and the rains had
rained, and the sun had shone on her, indeed,
and had warmed the whiteness of her limbs,
but they had only given to her body and her
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 3

soul a hardy, breeze-blown freshness like that
of a field cowslip.

She had never been called anything but
Bébée. :

One summer day Antoine Maées—a French
subject, but a Belgian by adoption and habit,
an old man who got his meagre living by tilling



the garden plot about his hut and selling
flowers in the city squares — Antoine, going
into Brussels for his day’s trade, had seen a
gray bundle floating among the water-lilies in
the bit of water near his hut and had hooked
it out to land, and found a year-old child in it,
left to drown, no doubt, but saved by the lilies,
and laughing gleefully at fate.

Some lace-worker, blind with the pain of toil,
or some peasant woman harder of heart than
4 BEBEE,

the oxen in her yoke, had left it there to drift
away to death, not reckoning for the inward
ripple of the current or the toughness of the -
lily leaves and sterns.

Old Antoine took it to his wife, and the
wife, a childless and aged soul, begged leave to
keep it; and the two poor lonely, simple folks
grew to care for the homeless, motherless
thing, and they and the people about all called
it Bébée — only Bébée.

The church got at it and- added to it a saint’s
name; but for all its little world it remained
Bébée — Bébée when it trotted no higher than

the red carnation
We heads ; — Bébée

when its yellow
curls touched as high as
the lavender-bush; —
Bébée on this proud day
when the thrush’s song
and the cock’s crow found
her sixteen years old.

Old Antoine’s hut
stood in a little patch of
garden pee with a brier hedge all round it,
in that byway which lies between Laeken and
Brussels, in the heart of flat, green Brabant,
where there are beautiful meadows and tall,
flowering hedges, and forest trees, and fern-
filled ditches, and a little piece of water, deep
and cool, where the swans sail all day long, and
the silvery willows dip and sway with the wind.


OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 5

Turn aside from the highway, and there it
lies to-day, and all the place brims over with
grass, and boughs, and blossoms, and flowering
beans, and wild dog-roses; and there are a few
cottages and cabins there near the pretty water,
and farther there is an old church, sacred to St.
Guido; and beyond go the green level country
and the endless wheat-fields, and the old mills
with their red sails against the sun; and beyond










a
ath E wee “ 1

ne Shp: ne: ey ugig aS










f oes =
i. oie t .

all these the pale blue, sea-like horizon of the
plains of Flanders.

_It was a pretty little hut, pink all over like a
sea-shell, in the fashion that the Netherlanders
love; and its two little square lattices were dark
with creeping plants and big rose-bushes, and
its roof, so low that you could touch it, was
golden and green with all the lichens and stone-
worts that are known on earth.

Here Bébée grew: from year to year, and
soon learned to be big enough and hardy
6 BEBEE,

enough to tie up bunches of stocks and pinks
for the market, and then to carry a basket for
herself, trotting by Antoine’s side along the
green roadway and into the white, wide streets;
and in the market the buyers — most often of
all when they were young mothers — would
seek out the little golden head and the beautiful
frank blue eyes, and buy Bébée’s lilies and car-
nations whether they wanted them or not.
So that old Maes used to cross himself and
say that, thanks to Our Lady, trade was thrice
as stirring since the little one had stretched out
her rosy fingers with the flowers.

All the same, however stirring trade might
be in summer, when the long winters came and
the Montagne de la Cour was a sharp slope of
ice, and the pinnacles of St. Gudule were all
frosted white with snow, and the hot-house
flowers alone could fill the market, and the
country gardens were bitter black wind-swept
desolations where the chilly roots huddled
themselves together underground like homeless
children in a cellar, then the money gained
in the time of leaf and blossom was all needed
to buy a black loaf and fagot of wood; and
many a day in the little pink hut Bébée rolled
herself up in her bed like a dormouse, to for-
get in sleep that she was supperless and as cold
as a frozen robin.

So that when Antoine Mies grew sick and
died, more from age and weakness than any
real disease, there were only a few silver crowns
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 7

in the brown jug hidden in the thatch; and the
hut itself, with its patch of ground, was all that
he could leave to Bébée.

«Live in it, little one, and take nobody in it
to worry you, and be good to the bird and the
goat, and be sure to keep the flowers blowing,”
said the old man with his last breath; and
sobbing her heart out by his bedside, Bébée
vowed to do his bidding.

She was not quite fourteen then, and when
she had laid her old friend to rest in the rough
green graveyard about St. Guido, she was
very sorrowful and lonely, poor little, bright
Bébée, who had never hardly known a worse
woe than to run the thorns of the roses into her
fingers, or to cry because a thrush was found
starved to death in the snow.

Bébée went home, and sat down in a corner
and thought.

The hut was her own, and her own the little
green triangle just then crowded with its May-
day blossom in all the colors of the rainbow.
She was to live in it, and never let the flowers
die, so he had said; good, rough old ugly
Antoine Maes, who had been to her as father,
mother, country, king, and law.

The sun was shining.

Through the little square of the lattice she
could see the great tulips opening in the grass
and a bough of the apple-tree swaying in the
wind. A chaffinch clung to the bough, and
swung to and fro singing. The door stood
8 BEBEE,

open, with the broad, bright day beaming
through; and Bébée’s little world came stream-
ing in with it,— the world which dwelt in the
half-dozen cottages that fringed this green lane
of hers like beavers’ nests pushed out under
the leaves on to the water’s edge.

They came in, six or eight of them, all
women; trim, clean, plain Brabant peasants,
hard-working, kindly of nature, and shrewd in
their own simple matters; people who labored
in the fields all the day long, or worked them-
selves blind over the lace pillows in the city.

“You are too young to live alone, Bébée,”
said the first of them. ‘My old mother shall
come and keep house for you.”

“Nay, better come and live with me,
Bébée,” said the second. ‘I will give you bit
and drop, and clothing, too, for the right to
your plot of ground.”

“That is to. cheat her,’ said the third.
‘*Hark, here, Bébéé: my sister, who is a lone
woman, as you know well, shall come and bide
with you, and ask you nothing — nothing at all
— only you shall just give her a crust, perhaps,
and a few flowers to sell sometimes.” |

“No, no,” said the fourth; ‘that will not do.
You let.me have the garden and the hut,
Bébée, and my sons shall till the place for you;
and I will live with you myself, and leave the
boys the cabin, so you will have all the gain,
do you not see, dear little one?”

“Pooh!” said the fifth, stouter and better
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 9

clothed than the rest. ‘You are all eager for
your own good, not for hers. Now I — Father
Francis says we should all do as we would be
done by —I will take Bébée to live with me,
all for nothing; and we will root the flowers up
and plant it with good cabbages and potatoes
and salad plants. And I will stable my cows
in the hut to sweeten it after a dead man, andI
will take my chance of making money out of it,
and no one can speak more fair than that when
one sees what weather is, and thinks what
insects do; and all the year round, winter and
summer, Bébée here will want for nothing, and
have to take no care for herself whatever.”

She who spoke, Mére Krebs, was the best-to-
do woman in the little lane, having two cows of
her own and ear-rings of solid silver, and a green
cart, and a big dog that took the milk into
Brussels. She was heard, therefore, with re-
spect, and a short silence followed her words.

But it was very short; and a hubbub of
voices crossed each other after it as the
speakers grew hotter against one another and
more eager to convince each other of the disin-
terestedness and delicacy of their offers of aid.

Through it all Bébée sat quite quiet on the
edge of the little truckle-bed, with her eyes
fixed on the apple bough and the singing
chaffinch.

She heard them all patiently.

They were all her good friends, friends old
and true. This one had given her cherries for


10 BEBEE,

many a summer. That other had bought her
a little waxen Jesus at the Kermesse. The old
woman in the blue linen skirt had taken her to
her first communion. She who wanted her
sister to have the crust and the flowers, had
brought her a beautiful painted book of hours
that had cost a whole franc. Another had given
her the solitary wonder, travel, and foreign feast
of her whole life,—a day fifteen miles away at
the fairat Mechlin. The last speaker of all had
danced her on her knee a hundred times in baby-
hood, and told her legends, and let her ride in
the green cart behind big curly-coated Tam-
bour.

Bébée did not doubt that these trusty old
friends meant well by her, and yet a certain
heavy sense fell on her that in all these counsels
there was not the same whole-hearted and
frank goodness that had prompted the gifts to
her of the waxen Jesus, and the Kermesse of
Mechlin.

Bébée did not reason, because she was too
little a thing and too trustful; but she felt, in a
vague, sorrowful fashion, that they were all of
them trying to make some benefit out of her
poor little heritage, with small regard for her-
self at the root of their speculations.

Bébée was a child, wholly a child; body
and soul were both as fresh in her as a golden
crocus just born out of the snows. But she
was not a little fool, though people sometimes.
called her so because she would sit in the mo-
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. II

ments of her leisure with her blue eyes on the
far-away clouds like a thing in a dream.

She heard them patiently till the cackle of
shrill voices had exhausted itself, and the six
women stood on the sunny mud floor of the
hut eyeing each other with venomous glances;
for though they were good neighbors at all
times, each, in this matter, was hungry for the
advantages to be got out of old Antoine’s plot
of ground. They were very poor; they toiled
in the scorched or frozen fields all weathers, or
spent from dawn to nightfall poring over their
cobweb lace; and to save a sou or gain a cab-
bage was of moment to them only second to
the keeping of their souls secure of heaven by
Lenten mass and Easter psalm.

Bébée listened to them all, and the tears
dried on her cheeks, and her pretty rosebud
lips curled close in one another.

“You are very good, no doubt, all of you,”
she said at last. ‘“ But I cannot tell you that I
am thankful, for my heart is like a stone, and I
think it is not so very much for me as it is for
the hut that you are speaking. Perhaps it is
wrong in me to say so; yes, J am wrong, I
am sure,— you are all kind, and I am only
Bébée. But you see he told me to live here
and take care of the flowers, and I must do it,
that is certain. I will ask Father Francis, if
you wish; but if he tells me I am wrong, as
you do, I shall stay here all the same.”

And in answer to their expostulations and
12 BEBEE,

condemnation, she only said the same thing
over again always, in different words, but to the
same steadfast purpose. The women clamored
about her for an hour in reproach and rebuke;
she was a baby indeed, she was a little fool, she
was a naughty, obstinate child, she was an un-
grateful, wilful little creature, who ought to be



Vr

beaten till she was blue, if only there was any-
body that had the right to do it!

“But there is nobody that has the right,”
said Bébéc, getting angry and standing upright
on the floor, with Antoine’s old gray cat in her
round arms. ‘He told me to stay here, and
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. IZ

he would not have said so if it had been wrong ;
and I am old enough to do for myself, and I
am not afraid, and who is there that would hurt
me? Oh, yes; go and tell Father Francis, if
you like! I do not believe he will blame me,
but if he do, I must bear it. Even if he shut
the church door on me,I will obey Antoine,
and the flowers will know I am right, and they
will let no evil spirits touch me, for the flowers
are strong for that; they talk to the angels in
the night.”

What use was it to argue with a little idiot
like this? Indeed, peasants never do argue;
they use abuse.

It is their only form of logic.

They used it to Bébée, rating her soundly, as
became people who were old enough to be her
grandmothers, and who knew that she had been
raked out of their own pond, and had no more
real place in creation than a water rat, as one
might say.

The women were kindly, and had never
thrown this truth against her before, and in fact,
to be a foundling was no sort of disgrace to
their sight; but anger is like wine, and makes
the depths of the mind shine clear, and all the
mud that is in the depths stink in the light;
and in their wrath at not sharing Antoine’s
legacy, the good souls said bitter things that in
calm moments they would no more have ut-
tered than they would have taken up a knife to
slit her throat.
14 BEBEE,

They talked themselves hoarse with impa-
tience and chagrin, and went backwards over
the threshold, their wooden shoes and their
shrill voices keeping a clattering chorus. By
this time it was evening; the sun had gone off
the floor, and the bird had done singing.

Bébée stood in the same place, hardening
her little heart, whilst big and bitter tears
swelled into her eyes, and fell on the soft fur of
the sleeping cat.

She only very vaguely understood why it
‘was in any sense shameful to have been raked
out of the water-lilies like a drowning field
mouse, as they had said it was.

She and Antoine had often talked of that
summer morning when he had found her there
among the leaves, and Bébée and he had
laughed over it gayly, and she had been quite
proud in her innocent fashion that she had had
a fairy and the flowers for her mother and god+
mothers, which Antoine always told her was
the case beyond any manner of doubt. Even
Father Francis, hearing the pretty harmless
fiction, had never deemed it his duty to disturb
her pleasure in it, being a good, cheerful old man,
who thought that woe and wisdom both come
soon enough to bow young shoulders and
to silver young curls without his interference.

Bébée had always thought it quite a fine
thing to have been born of watet-lilies, with the
sun for her father, and when people in Brussels
had asked her of her parentage, seeing her
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, [5

stand in the market with a certain look on her
that was not like other children, had always
gravely answered in the purest good faith, —

““My mother was a flower.”

“You are a flower, at any rate,” they would
say in return; and Bébée had been always
quite content.

But now she was doubtful; she was rather
perplexed than sorrowful.

These good friends of hers seemed
to see some new sin about her. Per-
haps, after all, thought Bébée, it
might have been better to have had.
a human mother who would have
taken care of her now that old
Antoine was dead, instead of those
beautiful, gleaming, cold water-lilies
which went to sleep on their green
velvet beds, and did not certainly
care when the thorns ran into her
fingers, or the pebbles got in her wooden shoes.

In some vague way, disgrace and envy —
the twin Discords of the world —touched her
innocent cheek with their hot breath, and as
the evening fell, Bébée felt very lonely and a
little wistful.

She had been always used to run out in the
pleasant twilight-time among the flowers and
water them, Antoine filling the can from the
well; and the neighbors would come and lean
against the little low wall, knitting and gossip-
ing; and the big dogs, released from harness,


16 BEBEE,

would poke their heads through the wicket ior
a crust; and the children would dance and
play Colin Maillard on the green by the water ;
and she, when the flowers were no longer
thirsted, would join them, and romp and dance
and sing the gayest of them all.

But now the buckets hung at the bottom of
the well, and the flowers hungered in vain, and
the neighbors held aloof, and she shut to the
hut door and listened to the rain which began
to fall, andcried herself to sleep all alone in
her tiny kingdom.

When the dawn came the sun rose red and
warm; the grass and boughs’ sparkled; a lark
sang; Bébée awoke sad in heart, indeed, for
her lost old friend, but brighter and braver.

“Each of them wants to get something out
of me,” thought the child. ‘Well, I, will live
alone, then, and do my-duty, just as he said.
The flowers will never let any real harm come,
though they do look so indifferent and smiling
sometimes, and though not one of them hung
their heads when his coffin was carried through
them yesterday.”

That want of sympathy in the flower
troubled her.

The old man had loved them so well; and
they had all looked as glad as ever, and had
laughed saucily in the sun, and not even a rose-
bud turned the paler as the poor still stiffened
limbs went by in the wooden shell.

“TI suppose God cares; but I wish they
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 17

did,” said Bébée, to whom the garden was more
intelligible than Providence.

“Why do you not care?” she asked the pinks,
shaking the raindrops off their curled rosy petals.

The pinks leaned lazily against their sticks,
and seemed to say, ‘“‘Why should we care for
anything, unless a slug be eating us? —‘zha¢ is
real woe, if you like.”

Bébée, without her sabots on, wandered
thoughtfully among the sweet wet sunlightened
labyrinths of blossom, her pretty bare feet
treading the narrow grassy paths with pleasure
in their coolness.

“He was so good to you!” she said reproach-
fully to the great gaudy gillyflowers and the
painted sweet-peas. ‘He never let you know
heat or cold, he never let the worm gnaw or
the snail harm you; he would get up in the
dark to see after your wants; and when the
ice froze over you, he was there to loosen your
chains. Why do you not care, anyone of you?”

“How silly you are!” said the flowers.
“You must be a butterfly or a poet, Bébée, to
be as foolish as that. Some one will do all he
did. We are of market value, you know.
Care, indeed ! when the sun is so warm, and there
is not an earwig in the place to trouble us.”

The flowers were not always so selfish as
this; and perhaps the sorrow in Bébée’s heart
made their callousness seem harder than it
really was.

When we suffer very much ourselves, any-
18 BELLE,

thing that smiles in the sun seems cruel —a
child, a bird, a dragon-fly — nay, even a flut- -
tering ribbon, or a spear-grass that waves in the
wind.

There was a little shrine at the corner of the
garden, set into the wall; a niche with a bit of
glass and a picture of the Virgin, so battered
that no one could trace any feature of it.

It had been there for centuries, and was held
in great veneration; and old Antoine had al-
ways cut the choicest buds of his roses and set
them ina delf pot in front of it, every other
morning all the summer long. Bébée, whose
religion was the sweetest, vaguest mingling of
Pagan and Christian myths, and whose faith in
fairies and in saints was exactly equal in
strength and in ignorance, —Bébée filled the
delf pot anew carefully, then knelt down on the
turf in that little green corner, and prayed in
devout hopeful childish good faith to the awfal
unknown Powers who were to her only as gentle
guides and kindly playmates.

Was she too familiar with the Holy Mother?

She was almost fearful that she was; but
then the Holy Mother loved flowers so well,
Bébée would not feel aloof from her, nor be
afraid.

“When one cuts the best blossoms for her,
and tries to be good, and never tells a lie,”
thought Bébée, “I am quite sure, as she loves
the lilies, that she will never altogether forget
me.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 19

So she said to the Mother of Christ fearlessly,
and nothing doubting; and then rose for her
daily work of cutting the flowers for the market
in Brussels.

By the time her baskets were full, her fowls
fed, her goat foddered, her starling’s cage
cleaned, her hut door locked, and her wooden
shoes clattering on the sunny road into the city,
Bébée was almost content again, though ever
and again, as she trod the familiar ways, the
tears dimmed her eyes as she remembered that
old Antoine would never again hobble over the
stones beside her.

“You are a little wilful one, and too young
to live alone,” said Father Francis, meeting her
in the lane.

But he did not scold her seriously, and she
kept to her resolve; and the women, who were
good at heart, took her back into favor again;
and so Bébée had her own way, and the fairies,
or the saints, or both together, took care of her;
and so it came to pass that all alone she heard
the cock crow whilst it was dark, and woke to
the grand and amazing truth that this warm,
fragrant, dusky June morning found her full
sixteen years old.
20 BEBEE,














SE aes ae ea
TE ae Pe = re
A ele lala A

CHAPTER II.

HE two years had not been all playtime
any more than they had been all summer.
When one has not father, or mother, or
brother, and all one’s friends have barely bread
enough for themselves, life cannot be very easy,
nor its crusts very many at any time.

Bébée had acherub’s mouth, and a dreamer’s
eyes, anda poet's thoughts sometimes in her
own untaught and unconscious fashion.

But all the same she was a little hard-working
Brabant peasant girl; up whilst the birds twit-
tered in the dark; to bed when the red sun
sank beyond the far blue line of the plains;
she hoed, and dug, and watered, and planted
her little plot; she kept her cabin as clean asa
fresh-blossomed primrose; she milked her goat
and swept her floor; she sat, all the warm days,
in the town, selling her flowers, and in the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 21

winter time, when her garden yielded her
nothing, she strained her sight over lace-mak-
ing in the city to get the small bit of food that
stood between her and that hunger which to the
poor means death.

A hard life; very hard when hail and snow
made the streets of Brussels like slopes of ice;
a little hard even in the gay summer time when
she sat under the awning fronting the Maison du
Roi; but all the time the child throve on it, and
was happy, and dreamed of many graceful and
gracious things whilst she was weeding among
her lilies, or tracing the threads to and fro on
her lace pillow.

Now — when she woke to the full sense of
her wonderful sixteen years — Bébée, standing
barefoot on the mud floor, was as pretty asight
as was to be seen betwixt Scheldt and Rhine.

The sun had only left a soft warmth like an
apricot’s on her white skin. Her limbs, though
strong as a mountain pony’s, were slender and
well shaped. Her hair curled in shiny crum-
pled masses, and tumbled about her shoulders.
Her pretty round plump little breast was white
as the lilies in the grass without, and in this
blooming time of her little life, Bébée, in her
way, was beautiful as a peach-bloom is beauti-
ful, and her innocent, courageous, happy eyes
had dreams in them underneath their laughter,
dreams that went farther than the green woods
of Laeken, farther even than the white clouds
of summer.
22 BEBEE,

She could not move among them idly as
poets and girls love to do; she had to be active
amidst them, else drought and rain, and worm




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pine
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and snail, and blight and frost, would have made
havoc of their fairest hopes.

The loveliest love is that which dreams high
above all storms, unsoiled by all burdens; but
perhaps the strongest love is that which, whilst
it adores, drags its feet through mire, and burns
its brow in heat, for the thing beloved.

So Bébée dreamed in her garden; but all
the time for sake cf it hoed and dug, and hurt
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 23

her hands, and tired her limbs, and bowed
. her shoulders under the great metal pails from
the well.

This wondrous morning, with the bright bur-
den of her sixteen years upon her, she dressed
herself quickly and fed her fowls, and, happy as
a bird, went to sit on her little wooden stool in
the doorway.

There had been fresh rain in the night: the
garden was radiant; the smell of the wet earth
was sweeter than all perfumes that are burned
in palaces.

The dripping rosebuds nodded against her
hair as she went out; the starling called to her,
“ Bébée, Bébée — bonjour, bonjour.” These
were all the words it knew. It said the
same words a thousand times a week. But
to Bébée it seemed that the starling -most
certainly knew that she was sixteen years old
that day.

Breaking her bread into the milk, she satin
the dawn and thought, without knowing that she
thought it, “ How oe it is to live when one
is young!”

Old people say the same thing often, but they.
sigh when they say it. Bébée smiled.

Mére Krebs opened her door in the next cot-
tage, and nodded over the wall.

‘“What a fine thing to be sixteen! — a merry
year, Bébée.”

Marthe, the carpenter’s wife, came out from
her gate, broom in hand.
24. BEBEE,

“The Holy Saints keep you, Bébéc; why,
you are quite a woman now!”

The little children of Varnhart, the charcoal-
burner, who were as poor as any mouse in the
old churches, rushed out of their little home up
the lane, bringing with them a cake stuck full
of sugar and seeds, and tied round with a blue
ribbon, that their mother had made that very
week, all in her honor.

“ Only see, Bébée! Such a grand cake!”
they shouted, dancing down the lane. ‘Jules
picked the plums, and Jeanne washed the
almonds, and Christine took the ribbon off her
own communion cap, all for you — all for you;
but you will let us come and eat it too?”

Old Gran’mére Bishot, who was the oldest
woman about Laeken, hobbled through the
grass on her crutches and nodded her white
shaking head, and smiled at Bébée.

“T have nothing to give you, little one, ex-
cept my blessing, if you care for that.”

Bébée ran out, breaking from the children,
and knelt down in the wet grass, and bent her
pretty sunny head to the benediction.

Trine, the miller’s wife, the richest woman of
them all, called to the child from the steps of
the mill, —

«A merry year, and the blessing of Heaven,
Bébée! Come up, and here is my first dish of
cherries for you; not tasted one myself; they
will make you a feast with Varnhart’s cake,
though she should have known better, so poor
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 25

as she is. Charity begins at home, and these
children’s stomachs are empty.”

Bébée ran up and then down again gleefully,
with her lapful of big black cherries; Tambour,
the old white dog, who had used to drag her
about in his milk cart, leaping on her in sym-
pathy and congratulation.

‘‘What a supper we will have!” she cried to
the charcoal-burner’s children, who were turn-
ing somersaults in the dock leaves, while the
swans stared and hissed.

When one is sixteen, cherries and a cake
have a flavor of Paradise still, especially when
they are tasted twice, or thrice at most, in all
the year. i

An old man called to her as she went by his
door. All these little cabins lie close together,
with only their apple-trees, or their tall beans,
or their hedges of thorn between them; you
may ride by and never notice them if you do
not look for them under the leaves closely, as
you would for thrushes’ nests.

He, too, was very old; a lifelong neighbor
and gossip of Antoine’s; he had been a day
laborer in these same fields all his years, and
had never travelled farther than where the red
mill-sails turned among the colza and the corn.

‘“Come in, my pretty one, for a second,” he
whispered, with an air of mystery that made
Bébée’s heart quicken with expectancy. ‘Come
in; I have something for you. They were my
dead daughter's — you have heard me talk of
26 BEBEE,

her — Lisette, who died forty year or more ago,
they say; for me I think it was yesterday.
Mére Krebs— she is a hard woman—heard
me talking of my girl. She burst out laugh-
ing, ‘Lord’s sake, fool, why, your girl would be
sixty nowan she had lived.’’ Well, so it may
be; you see, the new mill was put up the week
she died, and you call the new mill old; but,
my girl, she is young to me. Always young.
Come here, Bébée.”

Bébée went after him a little awed, into the
dusky interior, that smelt
of stored apples and of
dried herbs that hung
from the roof. There
was a walnut-wood press,
such as the peasants of —
France and the low
countries keep their
homespun linen in and
their old lace that serves
for the nuptials and bap-
tisms of half a score of
generations,

The old man unlocked
it with a trembling hand,
and there came from it an odor of dead lavender
and of withered rose leaves.

On the shelves there were a girl’s set of
clothes, and a girl’s sabots, and a girl’s com-
munion veil and wreath.

“‘ They are all hers,” he whispered, — “all


OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 27

hers. And sometimes in the evening time I
see her coming along the lane for them — do
you not know? There is nothing changed,
nothing changed; the grass, and the trees, and
the huts, and the pond are all here; why
should she only be gone away?”

« Antoine is gone.”

“Yes. But he was old; my girl is young.”

He stood a moment, with the press door
open, a perplexed trouble in his dim eyes; the
divine faith of love and the mule-like stupidity
of ignorance made him cling to this one thought
without power of judgment in it.

“They say she would be sixty,” he said,
with a little dreary smile. ‘‘ But that is absurd,
you know. Why, she had cheeks like yours,
and she would run—no lapwing could fly
faster over corn. These are her things, you
see; yes—all of them. That is the sprig of
sweetbrier she wore in her belt the day before
the wagon knocked her down and killed her.
Ihave never touched the things. But look
here, Bébée, you are a good child and true,
and like her just a little. I mean to give you
her silver clasps. They were her great-great-
great-grandmother’s before her. God knows
how old they are not. And a girl should have
some little wealth of that sort; and for An-
toine’s sake —”’

The old man stayed behind, closing the
press door upon the lavender-scented clothes,
and sitting down in the dull shadow of the hut
28 BEBE E,

to think-of his daughter, dead forty summers
and more.

Bébée went out with the brave broad silver
clasps about her waist, and the tears wet on
her cheeks for a grief not her own.

To be killed just when one was young, and
was loved liked that, and all the world was in
its May-day flower! The silver felt cold to
her touch — as cold as though it were the dead
girl’s hands that held her.

The garlands that the children strung of
daisies and hung about her had never chilled
her so.

But little Jeanne, the youngest of the char-

coal-burner’s little tribe, running to meet her,
screamed with glee, and danced in the gay
morning.
.__ “ Oh, Bébée! how you glitter! Did the
Virgin send you that off her own altar?. Let
me see— let me touch! Is it made of the
stars or of the sun? ”

And Bébée danced with the child, and the
silver gleamed and sparkled, and all the people
came running out to see, and the milk carts
were half an hour later for town, and the hens
cackled loud unfed, and the men even stopped
on their way to the fields and paused, with their
scythes on their shoulders, to stare at the
splendid gift.

‘‘ There is not such another set of clasps in
Brabant; old work you could make a fortune
of in the curiosity shops in the Montagne,”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 29

said Trine Krebs, going up the steps of her
mill house. ‘But, all the same, you know,
Bébée, things off a dead body bring mischance
sometimes.”

But Bébée danced with the child, and did
not hear.

Whose féte day had ever begun like this one
of hers?

She was a little poet at heart, and should not
have cared for such vanities; but when one is
only sixteen, and has only a little rough woollen
frock, and sits in the market place or. the lace-
room, with other girls around, how should one
be altogether indifferent to a broad, embossed,
beautiful shield of silver that sparkled with each.
step one took?

A quarter of an hour idle thus was all, how-
ever, that Bébée or her friends could spare at.
five o’clock on a summer morning, when the
city was waiting for its eggs, its honey, its
flowers, its cream, and its butter, and Tambour
was shaking his leather harness in impatience.
to be off with his milk-cans.

So Bébée, all holiday though it was, and
heroine though she felt herself, ran indoors,
put up her cakes and cherries, cut her two
basketfuls out of the garden, locked her hut,
and went on her quick and happy little feet
along the grassy paths toward the city.

The sorting and tying up of the flowers she
always left until she was sitting under the awn-
ing in front of the Broodhuis; the same awning,
30 BEBEE,

tawny as an autumn pear and weather-blown
as an old sail, which had served to shelter
Antoine Maes from heat and rain throughall the
years of his life.

“Go to the Madeleine; you will make
money there, with your pretty blue eyes,
Bébée,” people had said to her of late: but
Bébée had shaken her head.

Where she had sat in her babyhood at An-
toine’s feet, she would sit so long as she sold
flowers in Brussels, —here,
underneath the shadow of the
Gothic towers that saw Egmont
die.

Old Antoine had never gone
into the grand market that is
fashioned after the Madeleine
of Paris, and where in the cool,
wet, sweet-smelling halls, all the
flowers of Brabant are spread
in bouquets fit for the bridal of
Una, and large as the shield of
the Red-Cross Knight.

Antoine could not compcte
with all those treasures of green-
house and stove. He had

— always had his little stall among
those which spread their tawny awnings and

_ their merry hardy blossoms unde: the shadow
of the Hétel de Ville, in the midst of the buy-

_ ings and sellings, the games and the quarrels,
the auctions and the Cheap Johns, the mounte-






OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 31

bank and the marriage parties, that daily and
hourly throng the Grande Place.

Here Bébée, from three years old, had been
used to sit beside him. By nature she was as
gay as a lark. The people always heard her
singing as they passed the garden. The chil-
dren never found their games so merry as when
she danced their rounds with them; and
though she dreamed so much out there in the
air among the carnations and the roses, or in
the long, low workroom in the town, high
against the crocketed pinnacles of the cathedral,
yet her dreams, if vaguely wistful, were all
bright of hue and sunny in their fantasies.
Still, Bébée had one sad unsatisfied desire:
she wanted to know so much, and she knew
nothing.

She did not care for sme tll :
the grand gay people. a. &. Q.

When the band ik es
played, and the "eae
park filled, and the
bright little cafés
were thronged with
pleasure seekers,
and the crowds
flocked hither and
thither to the
woods, to the theatres, to the galleries, to the
guinguettes, Bébée, going gravely along with
her emptied baskets homeward, envied none
of these.








32) BEBEE,

When at Noél the little children hugged their ,
loads of puppets and sugar-plums; when at
the Féte Dieu the whole people flocked out be-
ribboned and vari-colored like any bed of
spring anemones; when in the merry mid-
summer the chars-atbancs trundled away into
the forest with laughing loads of students and
maidens; when in the rough winters the car-
riages left furred and jewelled women at the
doors of the operas or the palaces, — Bébée,
going and coming through the city to her
flower stall or lace work, looked at them all,
and never thought of envy or desire.

She had her little hut: she could get her
bread; she lived with the lowers; the neighbors
were good to her, and now and then, on a
saint’s day, she too got her day in the woods;
it never occurred to her that her lot could be
better.

“But sometimes sitting, looking at the dark
old beauty of the Broodhuis, or at the won-
drous carven fronts of other Spanish houses, or
at the painted stories of the cathedral windows,
or at the quaint colors of the shipping on the
quay, or at the long dark aisles of trees that
went away through the forest, where her steps
had never wandered, — sometimes Bébée would
get pondering on all this unknown world that
lay before and behind and around her, and a
sense of her own utter ignorance would steal
on her; and she would say to herself, ‘‘ If only
I knew a little —just a very little!”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 33

But it is not easy to know even a very little
when you have to work for your bread from
sunrise ‘to nightfall, and when none of your
friends know how to read or write, and even
your old priest is one of a family of peasants,
and can just teach you the alphabet, and that
is all. For Father Francis could do no more
than this; and all his spare time was taken up



in digging his cabbage plot and seeing to his
beehives; and the only books that Bébée ever
beheld were a few tattered lives of saints that
lay moth-eaten on a shelf of his cottage.

But Brussels has stones that are sermons, or
rather that are quaint, touching, illuminated
legends of the Middle Ages, which those who
run may read.
34 BEBEE,

Brussels is a gay little city, that lies as bright
within its girdle of woodland as any butterfly
that rests upon moss.

The city has its ways and wiles of Paris. It
decks itself with white and gold. It has music
under its trees and soldiers in its streets, and
troops marching and countermarching along its
sunny avenues. It has blue and pink, and
yellow and green, on its awnings and on its
-house fronts. It has a merry open-air life on
its pavements at little marble tables before
little gay-colored cafés, It has gilded bal-
conies, and tossing flags, and comic operas, and
leisurely pleasure seekers, and tries always to
believe and make the world believe that it is
Paris in very truth.

But this is only the Brussels of the noblesse
and the foreigners,

There is a Brussels that is better than this —
a Brussels that belongs to the old burgher life,
to the artists and the craftsmen, to the master-
masons of the Moyen-dge, to the same spirit
and soul that once filled the free men of Ghent
and the citizens of Bruges and the besieged of
Leyden, and the blood of Egmont and of
Horn.

Down there by the water-side, where the old
quaint walls lean over the yellow sluggish stream,
and the green barrels of the Antwerp barges
swing against the dusky piles of the crumbling
bridges.

In the gray square desolate courts of the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 35

old palaces, where in cobwenocd galleries and
silent chambers the Flemish tapestries drop to
picces.

In the great populous square, where, above
the clamorous and rushing crowds, the majestic
front of the Maison du Roi frowns against the
sun, and the spires and pinnacles of the bur-
gomaster’s gathering-halls tower into the sky
in all the fantastic luxuriance of Gothic fancy.

Under the vast shadowy wings of angels in
the stillness of the cathedral, across whose
sunny aisles some little child goes slowly all
alone, laden with lilies for the Feast of the
Assumption, till their white “glory hides: its
curly head.

In all strange quaint old-world ry
niches withdrawn from men in -
silent grass-grown corners,
where a twelfth-century cor- a)
bel holds a pot of roses, or a 4 ,
Gothic arch yawns beneath °° * "7
a wool warehouse, or a water- 2)
spout with a grinning faun’s eee,
head laughs in the grim ee Ae
humor of the Moyen-age
above the bent head of a young lace-worker.

In all these, Brusscls, though more worldly
than her sisters of Ghent and Bruges, and far
more worldly yet than her Teuton cousins of
Freiburg and Niirnberg, is still in her own way
like as a monkish “story mixed up with the .
Romaunt of the Rose; or rather like some gay





35 BEBEE,

French vaudeville, all fashion and jest, illus-
trated in old Missal manner with helm and
hauberk, cope and cowl, praying knights and
fighting priests, winged griffins and nimbused
saints, flame-breathing dragons and enamoured
princes, all mingled together in the illuminated
colors and the heroical grotesque romance of
the Middle Ages.

And it was this side of the city that Bébée
knew; and she loved it well, and would not
leave it for the market of the Madeleine.

She had no one to tell her anything, and all
Antoine had ever been able to say to her con-
cerning the Broodhuis was that it had been
there in his father’s time; and regarding St.
Gudule, that his mother had burned many a
candle before its altars for a dead brother who
had been drowned off the dunes.

But the child’s mind, unled, but not mis-
led, had pondered on these things, and her.
heart had grown to love them; and perhaps
no student of Spanish architecture, no anti-
quary of Moyen-age relics, loved St. Gudule
and the Broodhuis as little ignorant Bébée -
did,
There had been a time when great dark,
fierce men had builded these things, and made
the place beautiful. So muchshe knew; and the
little wistful, untaught brain tried to project
itself into those unknown times, and failed, and
yet found pleasure in the effort. And Bébée
would say to herself as she walked the streets,
OR TWO LITTLE WOCDEN SHOES, 37

« Perhaps some one will come some day who
will tell me all those things.”

Meanwhile, there were the flowers, and she
was quite content.

Besides, she knew ail the people: the ‘old
cobbler, who sat next her, and chattercd all
day long like a magpie; the tinker, who had
. come up many a summer night to drink a glass
with ener the Cheap John, who cheated
everybody else, but who had always given her
a toyora trinket at every Féte Dieu all the
summers she had known; the little old woman,
sour as a crab, who sold rosaries and pictures
of saints, and little waxen Christs upon a tray;
the big dogs who pulled the carts in, and ley
panting all day under the rush-bottomed chairs
on which the egg-wives and the fruit sellers sat,
and knitted, and chaffered; nay, even the gor-
geous huissier and the frowning g gendarme, who
marshalled the folks into order | as they went up
for municipal registries, or for town misde-
meanors,—she knew them all; had known
them all ever since she had first trotted in like
a little dog at Antoine’s heels.

So Bébée stayed there.

It is, perhaps, the most beautiful square in
all Northern Europe, with its black timbers, and
gilded carvings, and blazoned windows, and
majestic scutcheons, and fantastic pinnacles.
That Bébée did not know, but she loved it, and
she sat resolutely in front of the Broodhuis,
selling her flowers, smiling, chatting, helping
38 VEBEE,

the old woman, counting her little gains, eating
her bit of bread at noonday like any other
market girl, but at times glancing up to the
stately towers and the blue sky, with a look on
her face that made the old tinker and cobbler
whisper together, ‘What does she see there?
— the dead people or the angels?”

The truth was that even Bébéec herself did
not know very surely what she saw —some-
thing that was still nearer to her than even this
kindly crowd that loved her. That was all she
could have said had anybody asked her.

But none did.

No one wanted to hear what the dead said ;
and for the angels, the tinker and the cobbler
were of opinion that one had only too much
of them sculptured about everywhere, and
shining on all the casements— in reverence be
it spoken, of course,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, 39

CHAPTER JII.

REMEMBERED it was your name-
day, child Here are half a dozen
eggs,” said one of the hen wives;
and the little cross woman with the
pedler’s tray added a waxen St.
Agnes, colored red and yellow to
the very life no doubt; and the old
Cheap John had saved her a cage
for the starling; and the tinker had
a cream cheese for her in a vine-leaf,
and the sweetmeat seller brought her
a beautiful gilded horn of sugar-
plums, and the cobbler had made her
actually a pair of shoes—red shoes, beautiful
shoes to go to mass in and be a wonder in
to all the neighborhood. And they thronged
round her, and adored the silver waist buckles ;
and when Bébée got fairly to her stall, and
traffic began, she thought once more that
nobody’s feast day had ever dawned like hers.

When the chimes began to ring all over the
city, she could hardly believe that the carillon
was not saying its “Laus Deo” with some
special meaning in its bells of her.


40 BEBEE,

The morning went by as usual; the noise of
the throngs about her like a driving of angry
winds, but no more hurting her than the angels
on the roof of St. Gudule are hurt by the
storm when it breaks.

Hard words, fierce passions, low thoughts,
evil deeds, passed by the child without resting
on her; her heart was in her flowers, and was
like one of them with the dew of daybreak
on it.

There were many strangers in the city, and
such are always sure to loiter in the Spanish
square; and she sold fast and well her lilacs
and her roses, and her knots of thyme and
sweetbrier.

She was always a little sorry to see them go,
her kindly pretty playmates that, nine times
out of ten no doubt, only drooped and died in
the hands that purchased them, as human souls
soil and shrivel in the grasp of the passions that
woo them.

The day was a busy one, and brought in good
profit. Bébée had no less than fifty sous in her
leather pouch when it was over, —a sum of
magnitude in the green lane by Laeken.

A few of her moss-roses were still unsold,
that was all, when the Ave Maria began ringing
over the town and the people dispersed to their
homes or their pleasuring.

It was a warm gray evening: the streets were
full; there were blossoms in all the balconies,
and gay colors in all the dresses. The old
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 41

tinker put his tools together, and whispered to
her, —

“ Bébée, as it is your feast day, come and
stroll in St. Hubert’s gallery, and I will buy
you a little gilt heart, or a sugar-apple stick, or
a ribbon, and we can see the puppet show
afterwards, eh?”

But the children were waiting at home: she
would not spend the evening in the city; she
only thought she would just kneel a moment in
the cathedral and say a little prayer or two for
a minute — the saints were so good in giving
her so many friends.

There is something very touching in the
Flemish peasant’s relation with his Deity. It
is all very vague to him: a jumble of veneration
and familiarity, of sanctity and profanity, with-
out any thought of being familiar, or any idea
of being profane.

There is a homely poetry, an innocent affec-
tionateness in it, characteristic of the people.
He talks to his good angel Michael, and to his
friend that dear little Jesus, much as he would
talk to the shoemaker over the way, or the
cooper’s child in the doorway.

It is a very unreasonable, foolish, clumsy sort
of religion, this theology in wooden shoes; it is
half grotesque, half pathetic; the grandmothers
pass it on to the grandchildren as they pass the
bowl of potatoes round the stove in the long
winter nights; it is as silly as possible, but it
comforts them as they carry fagots over the
42 BEBEE,

frozen canals or wear their eyes blind over the
squares of lace; and it has in it the supreme
pathos of any perfect confidence, of any utterly
childlike and undoubting trust.

This had been taught to Bébée, and she went
to sleep every night in the firm belief that the
sixteen little angels of the Flemish prayer kept
watch and ward over her bed. For the rest,
being poetical, as these north folks are not,
and having in her—wherever it came from,
poor little soul—a warmth of fancy and a
spirituality of vision not at all northern, she
had mixed up her religion with the fairies of
Antoine’s stories, and the demons in which the
Flemish folks are profound believers, and the
flowers into which she put all manner of sentient
life, until her religion was a fantastic medley,
so entangled that poor Father Francis had
given up in despair any attempt to arrange it
more correctly. Indeed, being of the peasantry
himself, he was not so very full sure in his own
mind that demons were not bodily presences,
quite as real and often much more tangible than
saints. Anyway, he let her alone; and she
believed in the goodness of God as she believed
in the shining of the sun.

People looked after her as she went through
the twisting, picture-like streets, where sunlight
fell still between the peaked high roofs, and
lamps were here and there l:t in the bric-a-brac
shops and the fruit stalls.

Her little muslin cap blew back like the wings
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 43

of a white butterfly. Her sunny hair caught
the last sun-rays. Her feet were fair in the
brown wooden shoes. Under the short woollen
skirts the grace of her pretty limbs moved
freely. Her broad silver
clasps shone like a shield,
and she was utterly uncon-
scious that any one looked ;
she was simply and
gravely intent on reaching
St. Gudule to say her one
prayer and not keep the
children waiting.

Some one leaning idly
over a. balcony in the
street that is named after
Mary of Burgundy saw her
going thus. He left the
balcony and went down his ,
stairs and followed her. Re:

The sun-dazzle on the 4!
silver had first caught his
sight; and then he had
looked downward at the
pretty feet. ;

These are the chances women call Fate.

Bébée entered the cathedral. It was quite
empty. Far away at the west end there was an
old custodian asleep on a bench, and a woman
kneeling. That was all.

Bébée made her salutations to the high altar,
and stole on into the chapel of the Saint


44 BEBEE,

Sacrament; it was that one that she loved
best.

She said her prayer and thanked the saints
for all their gifts and goodness, her clasped
hand against her silver shield, her basket on





the pavement by her, abovehead the sunset
rays streaming purple and crimson and golden
through the painted windows that are-the won-
der of the world.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 45

When her prayer was done she still kneeled
there; her head thrown back to watch the
light, her hands clasped still, and on her
upturned face the look that made the people
say, ‘‘ What does she see? —the angels or the
dead?”

She forgot everything. She forgot the
cherries at home, and the children even. She
was looking upward at the stories of the painted
panes; she was listening to the message of the
dying sun-rays; she was feeling vaguely, wist-
fully, unutterably the tender beauty of the sacred
place and the awful wonder of the world in
which she with her sixteen years was all alone,
like a little blue corn-flower among the wheat
that goes for grist and the barley that makes
men drunk.

For she was alone, though she had so many
friends. Quite alone sometimes; for God had
been cruel ‘to her, and had made her a lark
without song.

When the sun faded and the beautiful case-
ments lost all glow and meaning, Bébée rose
with a startled look—had she been dreaming?
—was it night? — would the children be sorry,
and go supperless to bed?

“Have you a rosebud left to sell to me?” a
man’s voice said not far off; it was low and
sweet, as became the Sacrament Chapel.

_ + Bébée looked up; she did not quite know
what she saw: only dark eyes smiling into
hers.
46 BEBEE,

By the instinct of habit she sought in her
basket and found three moss-roses. She held
them out to him.

“Ido not sell flowers here, but I will give
them to you,” she said, in her pretty grave
childish fashion.

“I often want flowers,” said the stranger, as
he took the buds. ‘‘ Where do you sell yours?
—in the market? ”

“In the Grande Place.”

‘Will you tell me your name, pretty one?”

“Tam Bébée.” :

There were people coming into the church.
The bells were booming abovehead for vespers.
There was a shuffle of chairs and a stir of feet.
Boys in white went to and fro, lighting the
candles. Great clouds of shadow drifted up
into the roof and hid the angels,

She nodded her little head to him.

‘Good night; I cannot stay. I have a cake
at home to-night, and the children are wait-
ing.”

‘Ah! that is important, no doubt, indecd.
Will you buy some more cakes for the children
from me?”

He slid a gold piece in, her hand She
looked at it in amaze. In the green lanes by
Laeken no one ever saw gold. Then she gave
it him back.

‘“T will not take money in church, nor any-
where, except what the flowers are worth. |
Good night.”
OR TWO LITTIE WOODEN SHOES, 47

He followed her, and held back the heavy
oak door for her, and went out into the air with
her.

It was dark already, but in the square there
was still the cool bright primrose-colored even-
ing light.

Bébée’s wooden shoes went pattering down
the sloping and uneven stones. Her little gray
figure ran quickly through the deep shade cast
from the towers and walls. Her dreams had
drifted away. She was thinking of the children
and the cake.

“You are in such a hurry because of the
cake?” said her new customer, as he followed
her.

Bébée looked back at him with a smile in
her blue eyes.

“Ves, they will be waiting, you know, and
there are cherries too.”

“Tt is a grand day with you, then?”

“It is my féte day: I am sixteen.”

She was proud of this. She told it to the
very dogs in the street.

‘Ah, you feel old, I dare say?”

“Oh, quite old! They cannot call me a
child any more.”

‘Of course not, it would be ridiculous. Are
those presents in your basket?”

“Ves, every one of them.” She paused a
moment to lift the dead vine-leaves, and show
him the beautiful shining red shoes. ‘Look!
old Gringoire gave me these. I shall wear
48 BEBEE,

them at mass next Sunday. I never had a
pair of shoes in my life.”

« But how will you wear shoes without stock-
ings?” .

It was a snake cast into her Eden.

She had never thought of it.

“Perhaps J can save money and buy some,”
she answered after a sad little pause. ‘But
that I could not do till next year. They would
cost several francs, I suppose.”

“Unless a good fairy gives them to you?”

Bébée smiled; fairies were real things to her
— relations indeed. She did not imagine that
he spoke in jest. -

“Sometimes I pray very much and things
come,” she said softly. ‘When the Gloire de
Dijon was cut back too soon one summer, and
never blossomed, and we all thought it was
dead, I prayed all day long for it, and never
thought of anything else; and by autumn it was
allin new leaf, and now its flowers are finer than
ever.”

“But you watered it whilst you prayed, I
suppose?”

The sarcasm escaped her.

She was wondering to herself whether it
would be vain and wicked to pray for a pair of ©
stockings: she thought she would go and ask
Father Francis.

By this time they were in the Rue Royale,
and half-way down it. The lamps were lighted.
A regiment was marching up it with a band
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 49

playing. The windows were open, and people
were laughing and singing in some of them.
The light caught the white and gilded fronts
of the houses. The pleasure-seeking crowds
loitered along in the warmth of the evening.

Bébée, suddenly roused from her thoughts
by the loud challenge of the military music,
looked round on the stranger, and motioned
him back. ;

“Sir, —I do not know you, — why should
you come with me? Do not do it, please.
You make me talk, and that makes me late.”

And she pushed her basket farther on her
arm, and nodded to him and ran off — as fleetly
as a hare through fern— among the press of
the people.

‘To-morrow, little one,” he answered her
with a careless smile, and Jet her go unpursued.
Above, from the open casement of a café, some
young men and some painted women leaned
out, and threw sweetmeats at him, as in carni-
val time.

“A new model,—that pretty peasant?”
they asked him.

He laughed in answer, and went up the steps
to join them; he dropped the moss-roses as he
went, and trod on them, and did not wait.
50 BEBELE,

CHAPTER IV.

EBEE ran home as fast as her feet would
take her.

The children were all gathered about her
gate in the dusky dewy evening; they met her
with shouts of welcome and reproach inter-
mingled; they had been watching for her since
first the sun had grown low and red, and now
the moon was risen.

But they forgave her when they saw the
splendor of her presents, and she showered out
among them Pére Melchior’s horn of comfits.

They dashed into the hut; they dragged the
one little table out among the flowers; the
cherries and cake were spread on it; and the
miller’s wife had given a big jug of milk, and
Father Francis himself had sent some honey-
comb. oe

The early roses were full of scent in the dew;
the great gillyflowers breathed out fragrance in
the dusk; the goat came and nibbled the sweet-
brier unrebuked; the children repeated the
Flemish bread-grace, with clasped hands and
reverent eyes, “Oh, dear little Jesus, come
and sup with us, and bring your beautiful
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 51

Mother, too; we will not forget you are God.”
Then, that said, they ate, and drank, and
laughed, and picked cherries from each other’s
mouths like little blackbirds; the big white
dog gnawed a crust at their feet; old Krebs
who had a fiddle, and could play it, came out
and trilled them rude and ready Flemish tunes,
such as Teniers or Mieris might have jumped
to before an alehouse at the Kermesse; Bébée
and the children joined hands, and danced
round together in the broad white moonlight,
on the grass by the water-side; the idlers came
and sat about, the women netting or spinning,
and the men smoking a pipe before bedtime;
the rough hearty Flemish bubbled like a brook
in gossip, or rung like a horn over a jest;
Bébée and the children, tired of their play,
grew quiet, and chanted together the “Ave
Maria Stella Virginis”; a nightingale among
the willows sang to the sleeping swans.

All was happy, quiet, homely; lovely also
in its simple way.

They went early to their beds, as people
must do who rise at dawn.

Bébée leaned out a moment from her own
little casement ere she too went to rest.

Through an open lattice there sounded the
murmur of some little child’s prayer; the wind
sighed among the willows; the nightingales
sang on in the dark— all was still.
’ Hard work awaited her on the morrow, and
on all the other days of the year.
52 BEBEE,

She was only a little peasant,_——she must
sweep, and spin, and dig, and delve, to get
daily her bit of black bread, — but that night
she was as happy as a little princess in a fairy
tale; happy in her playmates, in her flowers,
in her sixteen years, in her red shoes, in her
silver buckles, because she was half a woman;
happy in the dewy leaves, in the singing birds,
in the hush of the night, in the sense of rest, in
the fragrance of flowers, in the drifting changes
of moon and cloud; happy because she was
half a woman, because she was half a poet, be-
cause she was wholly a poet.

“Oh, dear swans, how good it is to be six-
teen !— how good it is to live at all! —do you
not tell the willows so?” said Bébée to the
gleam of silver under the dark leaves by the
water's side, which showed her where her
friends were sleeping, with their snowy wings
closed over their stately heads, and_ the veiled
gold and ruby of their eyes.

The swans did not awake to answer.

Only the nightingale answered from the
willows, with Desdemona’s song.

But Bébée had never heard of Desdemona,
and the willows had no sigh for her.

“Good night!” she said, softly, to all the
green dewy sleeping world, and then she lay
down and slept herself.—The nightingale sang
on, and the willows trembled.

e
OR TWO LITTLE IVWOODEN SHOES. 53

CHAPTER V.

“ TF I could save a centime a day, I could

buy a pair of stockings this time next
year,” thought Bébée, locking her shoes with
her other treasures in her drawer the next morn-
ing, and taking her broom and pail to wash
down her little palace.

But a centime a day is a great deal in Bra-
bant, when one has not always enough for bare
bread, and when, in the long chill winter, one
must weave thread lace all through the short
daylight for next to nothing at all; for there
are so many women in Brabant, and every one
of them, young or old, can make lace, and if
one do not like the pitiful wage, one may leave
it and go and die, for what the master lace-
makers care or know; there will always be
enough, many more than enough, to twist the
thread round the bobbins, and weave the bridal
veils, and the trains for the courts.

“ And besides, if I can save a centime, the
Varnhart children ought to have it,” thought
Bébée, as she swept the dust together. It was
so selfish of her to be dreaming about a pair of
stockings, when those little things often went
for days on a stew of nettles.
54 DEBEL,

So she looked at her own pretty feet, —
pretty and slender, and arched, rosy, and fair,
and uncramped by the pressure of leather, —
and resigned her day-dream with a brave heart,
as she put up her broom and went out to weed,
and hoe, and trim, and prune the garden that
had been for once neglected the night before.

“One could not move half so easily in stock-
ings,” she thought with true philosophy as she
worked among the black, fresh, sweet-smelling
mould, and kissed a rose now and then as she
passed one. 4

When she got into the city that day, her
rush-bottomed chair, which was always left. up-
side down in case rain should fall in the night,
was set ready for her, and on its seat was a gay,
gilded box, such as rich people give away full
of bonbons.

Bébée stood and looked from the box to the
Broodhuis, from the Broodhuis to the box; she
glanced around, but no one had come there so
early as she, except the tinker, who was busy
quarrelling with his wife and letting his smelting
fire burn a hole in his breeches.

“The box was certainly for her, since it was
set upon her chair?” — Bébée pondered a mo-
ment; then little by little opened the lid.

Within, ona nest of rose-satin, were two pair
of silk stockings ! — real silk ! — with the pret-
tiest clocks worked up their sides in color!

Bébée gave a little scream, and stood still,
the blood hot in her cheeks; no one heard her,
OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 55

the tinker’s wife, who alone was near, having
just wished Heaven to send a judgment on her
husband, was busy putting out his smoking
smallclothes. It is away that women and wives
have, and they never see the bathos of it.

The place filled gradually.

The customary crowds gathered. The busi-
ness of the day began underneath the multitu-
dinous tones of the chiming bells. Bébée’s
business began too; she put the box behind
her with a beating heart, and tied up her
flowers.

It was the fairies, of course! but they had
never set arush-bottomed chair on its legs be-
fore, and this action of theirs frightened her.

It was rather an empty morning. She sold
little, and there was the more time to think.

About an hour after noon a voice addressed
her, —

“Have you more moss-roses for me?”

Bébée looked up with a smile, and found
some. It was her companion of the cathedral.
She had thought much of the red shoes and
the silver clasps, but she had thought nothing
at all of him.

“You are not too proud to be paid to-day?”
he said, giving her a silver franc; h= would
not alarm her with any more gold; she thanked
him, and slipped it in her little leathern pouch,
and went on sorting some clove-pinks.

“You do not seem to remember me?” he
said, with a little sadness.
56 BEBEE,

“Oh, I remember you,” said Bébéc, lifting
her frank eyes. “But you know I speak to so
many people, and they are all nothing to me.”

“Who is anything to you?” It was softly
and insidiously spoken, but it awoke no echo.

“Varnhart’s children,” she answered him, in-
stantly. “And old Annémie by the wharfside



—and Tambour—and Antoine’s grave — and
the starling—and, of course, above all, the
flowers.”

“And the fairies, I suppose? — though they
do nothing for you.”

She looked at him eagerly, —
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 57

«They have done something to-day. Ihave
found a box, and some stockings — such beauti-
ful stockings! Silk ones! Is it not very odd?”

“It is more odd they should have forgotten
you so long. May I see them?”

“T cannot show them to you now. Those
ladies are going to buy. But you can see them
later — if you wait.”

“J will wait and paint the Broodhuis.”

“So many people do that; you are a painter

then?”

“Yes — ina way.”

He sat down on an edge of the stall, and
spread his things there, and sketched, whilst
the traffic went on around them. He was very
many years older than she; handsome, with a
dark, and changeful, and listless face; he wore
brown velvet, and had a red ribbon at his
throat; he looked a little as Egmont might
have done when wooing Claire.

Bébée, as she sold the flowers and took the
‘change fifty times in the hour, glanced at him
now and then, and watched the movements of
his hands, she could not have told why.

Always among men and women, always in
the crowds of the streets, people were nothing
to her; she went through them as through a
field of standing corn,—only in the field she
would have tarried for poppies, and in the
town she tarried for no one.

She dealt with men as with women, simply,
truthfully, frankly, with the innocent fearlessness
58 BEBEE,

of a child. When they told her she was
pretty, she smiled; it was just as they said that
her flowers were sweet.

But this man’s hands moved so swiftly; and
as she saw her Broodhuis growing into color
and form beneath them, she could not choose
but look now and then, and twice she gave her
change wrong.

He spoke to her rarely, and sketched on and
on in rapid bold strokes the quaint graces and
massive richness of the Maison du Roi.

There is no crowd so busy in Brabant that it
will not find leisure to stare. The Fleming or
the Walloon has nothing of the Frenchman's
courtesy; he is rough and rude; he remains a
peasant even when town bred, and the surly in-
solence of the ‘‘ Gueux” is in him still. He is
kindly to his fellows, though not to beasts; he
is shrewd, patient, thrifty, industrious, and good
in very many ways, but civil never.

A good score of them left off their occupa-
tions and clustered round the painter, staring,
chattering, pushing, pointing, as though a brush
had never been seen in all the land of Rubens.

Bébée, ashamed of her people, got up from
her chair and rebuked them.

“Oh, men of Brussels; fie then for shame
she called to them as clearly as a robin sings.
“Did never you see a drawing before? and are
there not saints and martyrs enough to look at
in the galleries? and have you never some
better thing to do than to gape wide-mouthed

oo
OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 59

at a stranger? What laziness—ah! just
worthy of a people who sleep and smoke while

_ their dogs work for them! Go away, all of
you; look, there comes the gendarme — it will
be the worse for you. Sir, sit under my stall;
they will not dare trouble you then,”

He moved under the awning, thanking her
with asmile; and the people, laughing, shuffled
unwillingly aside and let him paint on in peace.
‘It was only little Bébée, but they had spoilt the
child from her infancy, and were used to obey her.

The painter took along time. He set about
it with the bold ease of one used to all the in-
tricacies of form and color, and he had the
skill of a master. Buthespent J-
more than half the time looking
idly at the humors of the popu-
lace or watching how the
treasures of Bébée’s garden
went away one by one in
the hands of strangers. i

Meanwhile, ever and
again, sitting on the
edge of her stall, with
his colors and brushes
tossed out on the board,
he talked to her, and,
with the soft imperceptible skill of long practice
in those arts, he drew out the details of her
little simple life.

There were not always people to buy, and
whilst she rested and sheltered the flowers from






60 BEBEE,

the sun, she answered him willingly, and in one
of her longer rests showed him the wonderful
stockings.

“Do you think it could be the fairies?” che
asked him a little doubtfully.

It was casy to make her believe any fantas-
tical nonsense; but her fairies were ethereal
divinities. She could scarcely believe that they
had laid that box on her chair.

“Tmpossible to doubt it!” he replied, un-
hesitatingly. ‘Given a belief in fairics at all,
why should there be any limit to what they can
do? It is the same with the saints; is it not?”

“Yes,” said Bébée, thoughtfully.

The saints were mixed up in her imagination
with the fairies in an intricacy that would
have defied the best reasonings of Father
Francis.

“Well, then, you will wear the stockings,
will you not? Only, believe me, your fect are
far prettier without them.”

Bébée laughed happily, and took another
peep in the cosy rose-satin nest. But her little
face had a certain perplexity. Suddenly she
turned on him.

“Did not you put them there?”

“7? —never!”

“« Are you quite sure?”

“ Quite; but why ask?”

** Because,” said Bébée, shutting the box res-
olutely and pushing it alittle away, — ‘ because
I would not take it if you did. You are a
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 6r

stranger, and a present is a debt, so Antoine
always said.”

“Why take a present then from the Varnhart
children, or your old friend who gave you the
clasps?” ;

“Ah, that is very different. When people
are very, very poor, equally poor, the one with
the other, little presents that they save for and
make with such a difficulty are just things that
are a pleasure; sacrifices; like your sitting up
with a sick person at night, and then she sits up
with you another year when you want it. Do
you not know?”

“T know you talk very prettily. But why
should you not take any one else’s present,
though he may not be poor?”

“ Because I could not return it.” '

“ Could you not?”

The smile in his eyes dazzled her a little; it
was so strange, and yet had so much light
in it; but she did not understand him one
whit.

“No; how could I?” she said earnestly.
“Tf I were to save for two years, I could not get
francs enough to buy anything worth giving
back; and I should be so unhappy, thinking of
the debt of it always. Do tell me if you put
those stockings there? ”

“No”; he looked at her, and the trivial lie
faltered and died away; the eyes, clear as crys-
tal, questioned him so innocently. ‘Well, if I
did?” he said, frankly; ‘you wished for them;
62 pea BEBEE,

what harm was there? Will you be so cruelas
to refuse them from me?”

The tears sprang into Bébée’s eyes. She was
sorry to lose the beautiful box, but more sorry
he had lied to her.

“Tt was very kind and good,” she said, re-
egretfully. ‘“ But I cannot think why you should
have done it, as you had never known me at
all. And, indeed, I could not take them, be-
cause Antoine would not let me if he were
alive; and if I gave you a flower every day all
the year round I should not pay you the worth
of them, it would be quite impossible; and
why should you tell me falsehoods about such
a thing? A falsehood is never a thing for a
man.”

She shut the box and pushed it towards him,
and turned to the selling of her bouquets. Her
voice shook a little as she tied up a bunch of
mignonette and told the price of it.

Those beautiful stockings! why had she ever
seen them, and why had he told her a lie?

It made her heart heavy. For the first time
in her bricf life the Broodhuis seemed to frown
between her and the sun.

Undisturbed, he painted on and did not look
at her.

The day was nearly done. The -people be-
gan to scatter. The shadows grew very long.
He painted, not glancing once elsewhere than
at his study. Bébée’s’ baskets were quite
empty.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 63

She rose, and lingered, and regarded him
wistfully: he was angered; perhaps she had
been rude? Her little heart failed her.

If he would only look up !

But he did not look up; he kept his hand-
some dark face studiously over the canvas of
the Broodhuis. She would have seen a smile
in his eyes if he had lifted them; but he never
raised his lids.

Bébée hesitated: take the stockings she
would not; but perhaps she had refused them
too roughly. She wished so that he would
look up and save her speaking first; but he
knew what he was about too warily and well to
help her thus.

She waited awhile, then took one little red
moss-rosebud that she had saved all day in a
corner of her basket, and held it out to him
frankly, shyly, as a peace offering.

“Was I rude? I did not mean to be. But
I cannot take the stockings; and why did you
tell me that falsehood?”

He took the rosebud and rose too, and smiled ;
but he did not meet her eyes.

“Let us forget the whole matter; it is not
worth a sou. If you do not take the box, leave
it; itis of no use to me.”

«J cannot take it.”

She knew she was doing right. How was it
that he could make her feel as though she were
acting wrongly? ;
64 BEBEE,

“Leave it then, I say. You are not the first
woman, my dear, who has quarrelled with a wish
fulfilled. It is a way your sex has of reward-
ing gods and men.—Here, you old witch,
here is atreasure-trove for you. You can sell
it for ten francs in the town anywhere.”

As he spoke he tossed the casket and the
stockings in it to an old decrepit woman, who was
passing by with a baker’s cart drawn by a dog;
and, not staying to heed her astonishment,
gathered his colors and easel together.

The tears swam in Bébée’s eyes as she saw
the box whirled through the air.

She had done right; she was sure she had
done right.

He was a stranger, and she could never have
repaid him; but he made her feel herself way-
ward and ungrateful, and it was hard to see the
beautiful fairy gift borne away forever by. the
chuckling, hobbling, greedy old baker’s woman.
If he had only taken it himself, she would have
been glad then to have been brave and to have
done her duty.

But it was not in his design that she* should
be glad.

He saw her tears, but he seemed not to see
them.

‘Good night, Bébée,” he said carelessly, as
he sauntered aside from her. ‘Good night,
my dear. To-morrow I will finish my paint-
ing; but I will not offend you by any more
gifts.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 65

Bébée lifted her drooped head, and looked him
in the eyes eagerly, with a certain sturdy resolve
and timid wistfulness intermingled in her look.

“Sir, see, you speak to me quite wrongly,”
she said with a quick accent, that had pride as
well as painin it. ‘Say it was kind to bring
me whatI wished for; yes, it was kind I know;
but you never saw me till last night, and Ican-
not tell even your name; and it is very wrong
to lie to any one, even to a little thing like me;
and I am only Bébée, and cannot give you any-
thing back, because I have only just enough to
feed myself and the starling, and not always
that in winter. I thank you very much for
what you wished to do; but if I had taken
those things, I think you would have thought
me very mean and full of greed; and Antoine
always said, ‘Do not take what you cannot
pay — not ever what you cannot pay —that
is the way to walk with pure feet.’ Perhaps I
spoke ill, because they spoil me, and they say
I am too swift to say my mind. But I am not
thankless — not thankless, indeed —it is only
I could not take what I cannot pay. That is
all. You are angry still — not now— no?”

There was anxiety in the pleading. What
did it matter to her what a stranger thought?

And yet Bébée’s heart was heavy as he
laughed a little coldly, and bade her good day,
and left her alone to go out of the city home-
wards. A sense of having donewrong weighed ©
on her; of having been rude and ungrate‘ul.
66 BEBE !,

She had no heart for the children that even-
ing. Mére Krebs was sitting out before her
door shelling peas, and called to her to come
-in.and have a drop of coffee. Krebs had come
in from Vilvdorde fair, and brought a stock of
rare good berries withhim. But Bébée-thanked
her, and went on to her own garden to work.

She had always liked to sit out on the quaint
wooden steps of the mill and under the red
shadow of the sails, watching the swallows
flutter to and fro in the sunset, and hearing the
droll frogs croak in the rushes, while the old
people told her tales of the time of how in
their babyhood they had run out, fearful yet
fascinated, to see the beautiful Scots Grays
flash by in the murky night, and the endless
line of guns and caissons crawl black as a
snake through the summer dust and _ the
trampled corn, going out past the woods to
Waterloo.

But to-night she had no fancy for it: she
wanted to be alone with the flowers.

Though, to be sure, they had been very
heartless when Antoine’s coffin had gone past
them, still they had sympathy; the daisies
smiled at her with their golden eyes, and the
roses dropped tears on her hand, just as her
mood might be; the flowerswere closer friends,
after all, than any human souls; and _ besides,
she could say so much to them!

Flowers belong to fairyland; the flowers
and the birds and the butterflies are all that
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 67

the world has kept of its Golden Age; the
only perfectly beautiful things on earth, joyous,
innocent, half divine, useless, say they who are
wiser than God.

Bébée went home and worked among her
flowers.

A little laborious figure, with her petti-
coats twisted high, and her feet wet with the night
dews, and her back bowed to the hoeing and
clipping and raking among the blossoming plants.

‘How late you are working to-night, Bé-
bée!” one or two called out, as they passed
the gate. She looked up and smiled; but
went on working while the white moon rose.

She did not know what ailed her.

She went to bed without supper, leaving her
bit of bread and bowl of goat’s milk to make
a meal for the fowls in the morning.

“Little ugly, shameful, naked feet!” she
said to them, sitting on the edge of her mat-
tress, and looking at them in the moonlight.
They were very pretty feet, and would not have
been half so pretty in silk hose and satin shoon ;
but she did not know that: he had told her
she wanted those vanities.

She sat still a long while, her rosy feet sway-
ing to and fro like two roses that grow on one
stalk and hang down in the wind. The little
lattice was open; the sweet and dusky garden
was beyond; there was a hand’s breadth of sky,
in which a single star was shining; the leaves
of the vine hid all the rest.
68 BEBEE,

But for once she saw none of it.

She only saw the black Broodhuis; the red
and gold sunset overhead; the gray stones,
_ with the fallen rose leaves and crushed fruits;
and in the shadows two dark, reproachful eyes,
that looked at hers.

Had she been ungrateful?

The little tender, honest heart of her was
troubled and oppressed. For once, that night
she slept ill.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 69

CHAPTER VI.

LL the next day she sat under the yellow
awning, but she sat alone.

Tt was market day; there were many
strangers. Flowers were in demand. The
copper pieces were ringing against one another
all the hours through in her leathern bag.
The cobbler was in such good humor that he
forgot to quarrel with his wife. The fruit was
in such plenty that they gave her a leaf-full of
white and red currants for her noonday dinner.
And the people split their sides at the Cheap
John’s jokes; he was so droll. No one saw
the leaks in his kettles or the hole in his bel-
lows, or the leg that was lacking to his milking
stool.

Everybody was gay and merry that day.
But Bébée’s eyes looked wistfully over the
throng, and did not find what they sought.
Somehow the day seemed dull, and the square
empty.

The stones and the timbers around seemed
more than ever full of a thousand stories that
they would not tell her because she knew
nothing, and was only Bébée.
70 BEBEE,

She had never known a dull hour before.
She, a little bright, industrious, gay thing, .
whose hands were always full of work, and
whose head was always full of fancies, even in
the grimmest winter time, when she wove the
lace in the gray, chilly workroom, with
the frost on the casements, and the mice
running out in their hunger over the bare brick
floor.

That bare room was a sad enough place
sometimes, when the old women would bewail
how they starved on the pittance they gained,
and the young women sighed for their aching |
heads and their failing eyesight, and the chil-
dren dropped great tears on the bobbins, be-
cause they had come out without a crust to
break their fast.

She had been sad there often for others, but
she had never been dull—not with this un-
familiar, desolate, dreary dulness, that seemed
to take all the mirth out of the busy life around
her, and all the color out of the blue sky above.
Why, she had no idea herself. She wondered
if she were going to be ill; she had never been
ill in her life, being strong as a little bird that
has never known cage or captivity.

When the day was done, Bébée gave a quick
sigh as she looked across the square. She had
so wanted to tell him that she was not ungrate-
ful; and she had a little moss-rose ready, with
a sprig of sweetbrier, and a tiny spray of
maidenhair fern that grew under the willows,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, yI

which she had kept covered up with a leaf of
sycamore all the day long.

No one would have it now.

The child went out of the place sadly as the
carillon rang. There was only the moss-rose
in her basket, and the red and white currants
that had been given her for her dinner.

She went along the twisting, many-colored,
quaintly fashioned streets, till she came to the
water-side.

It is very ancient there still, there are all
manner of old buildings, black and brown and
gray, peaked roofs, gabled windows, arched
doors, crumbling bridges, twisted galleries lean-
ing to touch the dark surface of the canal,
dusky wharves crowded with barrels, and bales,
and cattle, and timber, and all the various
freightage that the good ships come and go
with all the year round, to and from the Zuyder-
Zee, and the Baltic water, and the wild Nor-
thumbrian shores, and the iron-bound Scottish
l.eadlands, and the pretty gray Norman: sea-
ports, and the white sandy dunes of Holland,
with the toy towns and the straight poplar-
trees.

Bébée was fond of watching the brigs and
barges, that looked so big to her, with their
national flags flying, and their tall masts stand-
ing thick as grass, and their tawny sails flapping |
in the wind, and about them the sweet, strong
smell of that strange, unknown thing, the
sea,
ef

BEBEE,

wT
»

Sometimes the sailors would talk with her ;
sometimes some old salt, sitting astride of a
cask, would tell her a mariner’s tale of far-away
lands and mysteries of the deep; sometimes
some curly-headed cabin-boy would give her a
shell or a plume of seaweed, and try and
make her understand what the wonderful wild



water was like, which was not quiet and slug-
gish and dusky as this canal was, but was for-
ever changing and moving, and curling and
leaping, and making itself now blue as her
eyes, now black as that thunder-cloud, now
white as the snow that the winter wind tossed,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. ii

now pearl hued and opaline as the convolvulus
that blew in her own garden.

And Bébée would listen, with the shell in
her lap, and try to understand, and gaze at the
ships and then at the sky beyond them, and
try to figure to herself those strange countries
to which these ships were always going, and
saw in fancy all the blossoming orchard prov-
ince of green France, and all the fir-clothed
hills and rushing rivers of the snow-locked
Swedish shore, and saw too, doubtless, many
lands that had no place at all except in dream-
land, and were more beautiful even than the
beauty of the earth, as poets’ countries are, to
their own sorrow, oftentimes.

But this dull day Bébée did not go down
upon the wharf; she did not want the sailors’
tales; she saw the masts and the bits of bunt-
ing that streamed from them, and they made
her restless, which they had never done
before.

Instead she went in at a dark old door and
climbed up a steep staircase that went up and
up, as though she were mounting St. Gudule’s
belfry towers; and at the top of it entered a
little chamber in the roof, where one square
unglazed hole that served for light looked out
upon the canal, with all its crowded craft, from
the dainty schooner yacht, fresh as gilding and
holystone could make her, that was running
for pleasure to the Scheldt, to the rude, clumsy
coal barge, black as night, that. bore the rough






74 BEBEE,

diamonds of Belgium to the snow-buried roofs
of Christiania and Stromstad.

In the little dark attic there was a very old
woman ina red petticoat and a high cap, who
sat against the window, and pricked out lace
patterns with a pin on thick paper.
She was eighty-five years old, and
could hardly keep body and soul
\\ oe
Bébée, running to her, kissed her.

“ Oh, mother Annémie, look
here! Beautiful red and white
\ currants, and a roll; I saved

\them for you. They are the
Â¥ first currants we have seen this
year. Me? oh, for me, I have
eaten more than are good!
You know I pick fruit like a sparrow, always.
Dear mother Annémie, are you better? Are
you quite sure you are better to-day?”

The little old withered woman, brown as a
walnut and meagre as a rush, took the currants,
and smiled with a childish glee, and began to
eat them, blessing the child with each crumb
she broke off the bread.

“Why had you not a grandmother of your
own, my little one?” she mumbled. “How
good you would have been to her, Bébée!”

“Ves,” said Bébée seriously, but her mind
could not grasp the idea. It was easier for her
to believe the fanciful lily parentage of An-
tcine’s stories. ‘How much work have you
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 75

done, Annémie? Oh, all that? all that? But
there is enough for a week. You work too
early and too late, you dear Annémie.”

“Nay, Bébée, when one has to get one’s
bread that cannot be. But I am afraid my
eyes are failing. That rose now, is it well
done?”

_ © Beautifully done. Would the Baés take
them if they were not? You know he is one
that cuts every centime in four pieces.”

“Ah! sharp enough, sharp enough, that
is true. But I am always afraid of my eyes.
I do not see the flags out there so well as I used
to do.”

“Because the sun is so bright, Annémie;
that is all. I myself, when I have been sitting
all day in the place in the light, the flowers
look pale to me. And you know it is not age
with me, Annémie?”

The old woman and the young girl laughed
together at that droll idea.

“You have a merry heart, dear little one,”
said old Annémie. ‘The saints keep it to you
always.”

“May I tidy the room a little?”

“To be sure, dear, and thank you too. I
have not much time, you see; and somehow
my back'aches badly when I stoop.”

«And it is so damp here for you, over all
that water!” said Bébée as she swept and
dusted and set to rights the tiny place, and
put in a little broken pot a few sprays of
76 i BEBEE,

honeysuckle and rosemary that she had brought
with her. “It is so damp here. You should
have comeand lived in my hut with me, Annémie,
and sat out under the vine all day, and looked
after the chickens for me when I was in the
town. They are such mischievous little souls;
as soon as my back is turned one or other is
sure to push through the roof, and get out
among the flower-beds. Will you never change
your mind, and live with me, Annémie? Iam
sure you would be happy, and the starling says
your name quite plain, and he is such a funny
bird to talk to; you never would tire of him.
Will you never come? It is so bright there,
and green and sweet smelling; and to think
you never even have seen it! and the swans
and all, —it is a shame.”

“No, dear,’ said old Annémie, eating her
last bunch of currants. ‘You have said so so
often, and you are good and mean it, that I
know. But I could not leave the water.
It would kill me. Out of this window you
know I saw my Jeannot’s brig go away—
away — away —till the masts were lost in the
mists. Going with iron to Norway; the ‘Fleur
d’Epine’ of this town, a good ship, and a sure,
and her mate; and as proud as might be, and
with a little blest Mary in lead round his throat.
She was to be back in port in eight months,
bringing timber. Eight months —that brought
Easter time. But she never came. Never,
never, never, you know. I sat here watching
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 77

them come and go, and my child sickened and
died, and the summer passed, and the autumn,
and all the while I looked — looked — looked;
for the brigs are all much alike; and only
her I always saw as soon as she hove in
sight (because he tied a hank of flax to her
mizzen-mast); and when he was home safe and
sound I spun the hank into hose for him; that
was a fancy of his, and for eleven voyages, one
on another, he had never missed to tie the flax
nor I to spin the hose. But the hank of flax I
never saw this time; nor the brave brig; nor
my good man with his sunny blue eyes. Only
one day in winter, when the great blocks of ice
were smashing hither and thither, a coaster
came in and brought tidings of how off in the
Danish waters they had come on a water-logged
brig, and had boarded her, and had found her
empty, and her hull riven in two, and her crew
all drowned and dead beyond any manner of
doubt. Andon her stern there was her name
painted white, the ‘Fleur d’Epine,’ of Brussels,
as plain as name could be; and that was all we
ever knew: what evil had struck her, or how
they had perished, nobody ever told. Only the
coaster brought that bit of beam away, with the
‘Fleur d’Epine’ writ clear upon it. But you
see I never Avow my man is dead. Any day
— who can say? —any one of those ships may
bring him aboard of her, and he may leap out
on the wharf there, and come running up the
stairs as he used to do, and cry, in his merry
78 BEBEE,

voice, ‘Annémie, Annémie, here is more flax
to spin, here is more hose to weave!’ For that
was always his homeward word; no matter
whether he had had fair weather or foul, he
always knotted the flax to his ‘masthead. So
you see, dear, I could not leave here. For
what if he came and found me away? He
would say it was an odd fashion of mourning for
him. And I could not do without the window,
you know. J can watch all the brigs come in;
and Ican smell the shipping smell that I have
loved all the days of my life; and I can see the
lads heaving, and climbing, and furling, and
mending their bits of canvas, and hauling their
flags up and down. And then who can say? —
the sea never took him, I think —I think I
shall hear his voice before I die. For they do
say that God is good.”

Bébée, sweeping very noiselessly, listened, and
her eyes grew wistful and wondering. She had
heard the story a thousand times; always in
different words, but always the same little tale,
and she knew how old Annémie was deaf to all
the bells that tolled the time, and blind to all
the whiteness of her hair and all the wrinkles of
her face, and only thought of her sea-slain
lover as he had been in the days of her youth.

But this afternoon the familiar history had a
new patheticalness for her, and as the old soul
put aside with her palsied hand the square of
canvas that screened the casement, and looked
out, with her old dim sad _ eyes strained in the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. "9

longing that God never answered, Bébée felt a
strange chill at her own heart, and wondered
to herself, —

«“ What can it be to care for another creature
like that? It must be so terrible, and yet it
must be beautiful-too. Does every one suffer
like that?” “

She did not speak at all as she finished
sweeping the bricks, and went down-stairs for a
- metal cruche full of water, and set over a little
charcoal on the stove the old woman’s brass
soup kettle with her supper of stewing cabbage.

Annémie did not hear or notice; she was
still looking out of the hole in the wall on to
the masts, and the sails, and the water.

It was twilight.

From the barges and brigs there came the
smell of the sea. The sailors were shouting to
each other. The craft were crowded close, and
lost in the growing darkness. On the other side
of the canal the belfries were ringing for vespers.

“Eleven voyages one and another, and he
never forgot to tie the flax to the mast,” An-
némie murmured, with her old wrinkled face
leaning out into the gray air. “It used to
fly there, —one could see it coming up half a
mile off, —just a pale yellow flake on the wind,
like a tress of my hair, he would say. No, no,
I could not go away; he may come to-night,
to-morrow, any time; he is not drowned, not
my man; he was all I had, and God is good,
they say.”
80 BEBEE,

Bébée listened and looked; then kissed the old
shaking hand and took up the lace patterns and
went softly out of the room without speaking.

\\ I, an | , tL

I
t

























\\, \\\,



Aer



When old Annémie watched at the window
it was useless to seck for any word or sign of
her; people said that she had never becn quite
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. Sr

right in her brain since that fatal winter noon
sixty years before, when the coaster had
brought into port the broken beam of the good
brig “ Fleur d’Epine.”

Bébée did not know about that, nor heed
whether her wits were right or not.

She had known the old creature in the lace-
room where Annémie pricked out designs, and
she had conceived a great regard and sorrow
for her; and when Annémie had become too
ailing and aged to go herself any longer to the
lace-maker’s place, Bébée had begged leave for
her to have the patterns at home, and had
carried them to and fro for her for the last three
or four years, doing many other little useful
services for the lone old soul as well, — services
which Annémie hardly perceived, she had
grown so used to them, and her feeble intelli-
gence was so sunk in the one absorbing idea
that she must watch all the days through and
all the years through for the coming of the
dead man and the lost brig.

Bébée put the lace patterns in her basket,
and trotted home, her sabots clattering on the
stones.

«What it must be to care for any one like
that!” she thought, and by some vague asso-
ciation of thought that she could not have pur-
sued, she lifted the leaves and looked at the
moss-rosebud.

It was quite dead.
82 BEBEE,

CHAPTER VII.

i she got clear of the city and out on her
country road, a shadow fell across her
in the evening light.

“Have you had a good day, little one?”
asked a voice that made her stop with a curious
vague expectancy and pleasure.

“Tt is you!” she said, with a little cry, as
she saw her friend of the silk stockings leaning
on a gate midway in the green and solitary
road that leads to Laeken.

“Yes, it is I,” he answered, as he joined her.
“ Have you forgiven me, Bébée?”

She looked at him with frank, appealing
eyes, like those of a child in fault.

“Qh, I did not sleep all night!” she said,
simply. “J thought I had been rude and un-
grateful, and I could not be sure I had done
right, though to have done otherwise would
certainly have been wrong.”

He laughed.

‘‘Well, that is a clearer deduction than is to
be drawn from most moral uncertainties. Do
not think twice about the matter, my dear. I
-have not, I assure you.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 83

“No!”

She was a little disappointed. It seemed
such an immense thing to her; and she had
lain awake all the night, turning it about in her
little brain, and appealing vainly for help in it
to the sixteen sleep-angels.

“No, indeed. And where are you going so
fast, as if those wooden shoes of yours were
sandals of Mercury?”

“ Mercury —is that a shoemaker?”

“No, my dear. He did a terrible bit of cob-
bling once, when he made Woman. But he did
not shoe her feet with swiftness that I know of;
she only runs away to be run after, and if you
do not pursue her, she comes back— always.”

Bébée did not understand at all.

“T thought God made women,’
little awe-stricken.

“You call it God. People three thousand
years ago called it Mercury or Hermes. Both
mean the same thing,—mere words to desig-
nate an unknown quality. Where are you
going? Does your home lie here?”

«Ves, onward, quite far onward,” said Bébée,
wondering that he had forgotten all she had
told him the day before about her hut, her
garden, and her neighbors. “ You did not
come and finish your picture to-day: why was
that? I had a rosebud for you, but it is dead
now.”

“JT went to Anvers. You looked for me a
little, then?”

d

she said, a
84 BEBEE,

“Oh, all day long. For I was so afraid I
had been ungrateful.”

“That is very pretty of you. Women are
never grateful, my dear, except when they are.
very ill-treated. Mercury, whom we were talk-
ing of, gave them, among other gifts, a dog’s
heart.”

Bébée felt bewildered; she did not reason
about it, but the idle, shallow, cynical tone
pained her by its levity and its unlikeness to
the sweet, still, gray summer evening.

‘“Why are you in such a hurry?” he pur-
sued, ‘The night is cool, and it is only seven
o'clock. I will walk part of the way with
you.”

“Tam in a hurry because I have Annémie’s
patterns to do,” said Bébée, glad that he spoke
of a thing that she knew how to answer. ‘You
see, Annémie’s hand shakes and her eyes are
dim, and she pricks the pattern all awry and
never perceives it; it would break her heart if
one showed her so, but the Baés would not
take them as they are; they are of no use at
all. So I prick them out myself on fresh
paper, and the Baés thinks it is all her doing,
and pays her the same money, and she is quite
content. AndasI carry the patterns to and fro
for her, because she cannot walk, it is easy to
cheat her like that; and it is no harm to cheat
so, you know.” He was silent.

“You are a good little girl, Bébée, I can
see,” he said at last, with a graver sound in his
OR TWO TITTLE IVWOODEN SHOES. 85

voice. “And who is this Annémie for whom
you do so much? an old woman, I suppose.”

“ Oh, yes, quite old; incredibly old. Her
man was drowned at sea sixty years ago, and
she watches for his brig still, night and morn-
ing.”

“The dog’s heart. No doubt he beat her,
and had a wife in fifty other ports.” ;

“Oh, no!” said Bébée, with a little cry, as
though the word against the dead man hurt
her. ‘She has told me so much of him. He
was as good as good could be, and loved her
so, and between the voyages they were so
happy. Surely that must have been sixty years
now, and she is so sorry still, and still will not
believe that he was drowned.”

He looked down on her with a smile that
had a certain. pity in it.

“Well, yes; there are women like that, I be-
lieve. But be very sure, my dear, he beat her.
Of the two, one always holds the whip and uses
it, the other crouches.”

“JT do not understand,” said Bébée.

“No; but you will.”

“ T will?— when?”

He smiled again.

“ Oh —to-morrow, perhaps, or next year —
or when Fate fancies.”

“ Or rather, when I choose,” he thought to
himself, and let his cyes rest with a certain
pleasure on the little feet, that went beside him
in the grass, and the pretty fair bosom that
86 BEBEE,

showed ever and again, as the frills of her linen
bodice were blown back by the wind and her
own quick motion.

Bébée looked also up at him; he was very
handsome, and looked so to her, after the
broad, blunt, characterless faces of the Walloon
peasantry around her. He walked with an’
easy grace, he was clad in picture-like velvets, he
had a beautiful poetic head, and eyes like deep
brown waters, and a face like one of Jordaens’
or Rembrandt’s cavaliers in the galleries where
she used to steal in of a Sunday, and look up at
the paintings, and dream of what that world
could be in which those people had lived.

“ You are of the people of Rubes’ country, are
you not? ” she asked him.

“ Of what country, my dear?”

‘Of the people that live in the gold frames,”
said Bébée, quite seriously. ‘In the galleries,
you know. J know a charwoman that scrubs
the floors of the Arenberg Palace, and she lets
me in sometimes to look; and you are just like
those great gentlemen in the gold frames, only
you have not a hawk and a sword, and they
always have. I used to wonder where they
came from, for they are not like any of us one
bit, and the charwoman — she is Lisa Dredel,
and lives in the street of the Pot d’Etain —
always said, ‘Dear heart, they all belong to
Rubes’ land; we never see their like nowa-
days.’ But you must come out of Rubes’ land;
at least, I think so, do you not?”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 87

He caught her meaning; he knew that Rubes
was the homely abbreviation of Rubens that
all the Netherlanders used, and he guessed the
idea that was reality to this little lonely fanciful
mind.

‘Perhaps I do,” he answered her with a

0
aN




ly i) i | eS r i‘

al .
smile, for it was not worth his while to disabuse
her thoughts of any imagination that glorified
him to her. “Do you not want to see Rubes’
world, little one? To see the gold and the
grandeur, and the glitter of it all? —never to
88 BEBEE,

toil or get tired? —always to move in a
pageant? — always to live like the hawks in the
paintings you talk of, with silver bells hung
round you, and a hood all sewn with pearls?”

“No,” said Bébée, simply. ‘(I should like
to see it, just to see it, as one looks through a
grating into the king’s grape-houses here. But
T should not like to live in it. I love my hut,
and the starling, and the chickens, and what
would the garden do without me? and the
children, and the old Annémie? I could not
anyhow, anywhere, be any happier than I am.
There is only one thing I wish.”

« And what is that?”

“To know something; not to be so igno-
rant. Just look—I can read a little, it is true:
my Hours, and the letters, and when Krebs
brings in a newspaper I can read a little of it,
not much. I know French well, because
Antoine was French himself, and never did
talk Flemish to me; and they being Nether-
landers, cannot, of course, read the newspapers
at all, and so think it very wonderful indeed in
me. But what I want is to know things, to
know all about what was before ever I was
living. St. Gudule now — they say it was built
hundreds of years before; and Rubes again —
they say he was a painter king in Antwerpen
before the oldest, oldest woman. like Annémie
ever began to count time. I am sure books
tell you all those things, because I see the
students coming and going with them; and
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 89

when I saw once the millions of books in the
Rue du Musée, I asked the keeper what use
they were for, and he said, ‘To make men wise,
my dear. But Gringoire Bac, the cobbler, who
was with me,—it was a féte day,— Bac, he
said, ‘Do not you believe that, Bébée; they
only muddle folks’ brains; for one book tells
them one thing, and another book another, and
so on, till they are dazed with all the contrary
lying; and if you see a bookish man, be sure
_ you see a very poor creature who could not
hoe a patch, or kill a pig, or stitch an upper-
leather, were it ever so.’ But I do not believe
that Bac said right. Did he?”

“Tam not sure. On the whole, I think it is
the truest remark on literature I have ever
heard, and one that shows great judgment in
Bac. Well?”

“Well, sometimes, you know,” said Bébée,
not understanding his answer, but pursuing her
thoughts confidentially, —‘‘sometimes I talk
like this to the neighbors, and they laugh at
me. Because Mére Krebs says that when one
knows how to spin and sweep and make bread
and say one’s prayers and milk a goat or a cow,
it is all a woman wants to know this side of
heaven. But for me, I cannot help it, when
I look at those windows in the cathedral, or at
those beautiful twisted little spires that are all
over our Hdtel de Ville, I want to know who the
men were that made them,— what they did
and thought, — how they looked and spoke, —
90 BEBEE,

how they learned to shape stone into leaves and
grasses like that, — how they could imagine all
those angel faces on the glass. When I go
alone in the quite early morning or at night
when it is still— sometimes in winter I have to
stay till it is dark over the lace —I hear their
feet come after me, and they whisper to me
close, ‘Look what beautiful things we have
done, Bébée, and you all forget us quite. We
did what never will die, but our names are as
dead as the stones.’ And then I am so sorry
for them and ashamed. And I want to know
more. Can you tell me?”

He looked at her earnestly; her eyes were
shining, her cheeks were warm, her little mouth
was tremulous with eagerness.

“Did any one ever speak to you in that
way?” he asked her.

“No,” she answered him. “It comes into
my head of itself. Sometimes I think the
cathedral angels put it there. For the angels
must be tired, you know; always pointing to
God and always seeing men turn away. I used
to tell Antoine sometimes. But he used to
shake his head and say that it was no use think-
ing; most likely St. Gudule and St. Michael
had set the church down in the night all ready
made, why not? God made the trees, and
they were more wonderful, he thought, for his
part. And so perhaps they are, but that is no
answer. And I do want to know. I want
some one who will tell me; and if you come
OR TWO LITTLE WOONMEN SHOES. QI

out of Rubes’ country as I think, no doubt you
know everything, or remember it?”

He smiled.

“The free pass to Rubes’ country lies in
books, pretty one. Shall I give you some? —
nay, lend them, I mean, since giving you are
too wilful to hear of without offence. You
can read, you said?”

Bébée’s eyes glowed as they lifted themselves
to his.

“T can read—— not very fast, but that would
come with doing it more and more, I think, just
as spinning does; one knots the thread and
breaks it a million times before one learns to
spin as fine as cobwebs. I have read the
stories of St. Anne, and of St. Catherine, and
of St. Luven fifty times, but they are all the
books that Father Francis has; and no one
else has any among us.”

“Very well. You shall have books of mine.
Easy ones first, and then those that are more
serious. But what time will you have? You
do so much; you are like a little golden bee.”

Bébée laughed happily.

““Qh! give me the books and I will find the
time. It is lightso early now. That gives one
somany hours. In winter one has so few one
must lie in bed, because to buy a candle you know
one cannot afford except, of course, a taper now
and then, as one’s duty is, for our Lady or for
the dead. And will you really, really, lend me
books?”
92 BEBEE,

“Really, I will, Yes. I will bring you
one to the Grande Place to-morrow, or meet
you on your road there with it. Do you know
what poetry is, Bébée?”

“No.”

“But your flowers talk to you?”

“Ah! always. But then no one else hears
them ever but me; and so no one else ever
believes.”

“Well, poets are folks who hear the flowers
talk as you do, and the trees, and the seas, and
the beasts, and even the stones; but no one
else ever hears these things, and so, when the
poets write them out, the rest of the world say,
‘That is very fine, no doubt, but only good for
dreamers; it will bake no bread.’ I will give
you some poetry; for I think you care more
about dreams than about bread.”

“JT do not know,” said Bébée; and she did
not know, for her dreams, like her youth, and
her innocence, and her simplicity, and her
strength, were all unconscious of themselves, as
such things must be to be pure and true at all.

Bébée had grown up straight, and clean, and
fragrant, and joyous as one of her own carna-
tions; but she knew herself no more than the
carnation knows its color and its root.

“No, you do not know,” said he, with a sort —
of pity; and thought within himself, was it
worth while to let her know?

If she did not know, these vague aspirations
and imaginations would drop off from her with
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 93

the years of her early youth, as the lime-flowers
drop downwards with the summer heats. She
would forget them. They would linger a little
in her head, and, perhaps, always wake at some
sunset hour or some angelus chime, but not to
trouble her. Only to make her cradle song a
little sadder and softer than most women’s was.
_ Unfed, they would sink away and bear no blos-
som.

She would grow into a simple, hardy, hard-
working, God-fearing Flemish woman like the |
rest. She would marry, no doubt, some time,
and rear her children honestly and well; and
sit in the market stall every day, and spin and
sew, and dig and wash, and sweep, and brave
bad weather, and be content with poor food to
the end of her harmless and laborious days —
poor little Bébée! ,

He saw her so clearly as she would be —if
he let her alone.

A little taller, a little broader, a little browner,
less sweet of voice, less soft of skin, less flower-
like in face; having learned to think only as
her neighbors thought, of price of wood and
cost of bread; laboring cheerily but hardly
from daybreak to nightfall to fill hungry
mouths; forgetting all things except the little
curly-heads clustered round her soup-pot, and
the year-old lips sucking at her breasts.

A blameless life, an eventless life,a life as
clear as the dewdrop, and as colorless; a life
opening, passing, ending in the little green
94 BEBEE,

wooded lane, by the bit of water where the
swans made their nests under the willows; a
life like the life of millions, a little purer, a little
brighter, a little more tender, perhaps, than
those lives usually are, but otherwise as like
them as one ear of barley is like another as it
rises from the soil, and blows in the wind, and
turns brown in the strong summer sun, and then
goes down to the sod again under the sickle.

He saw her just as she would be —if he let
her alone.

But should he leave her alone?

He cared nothing; only her eyes had such a
pretty, frank, innocent look like a bird’s in
them, and she had been so brave and bold with
him about those silken stockings; and this
little ignorant, dreamful mind of hers was so
like a blush rosebud, which looks so close-shut,
and so sweet-smelling, and so tempting fold
within fold, that a child will pull it open, forget-
ful that he will spoil it forever from being a
full-grown rose, and that he will let the dust,
and the sun, and the bee into its tender bosom
—and men are true children, and women are
their rosebuds.

Thinking only of keeping well with this
strange and beautiful wayfarer from that un-
known paradise of Rubes’ country, Bébée lifted
up the vine-leaves of her basket.

“T took a flower for you to-day, but it is
dead. Look; to-morrow, if you will be there,
you shall have the best in all the garden.”
OR TWO TITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 95

‘You wish to see me again then?” he asked
her. Bébée looked at him with troubled eyes,
but with a sweet frank faith that had no hesita-
tion in it.

“Yes! you are not like anything I ever
knew, and if you will only help me to learn a
little. Sometimes I think I am not stupid,
only ignorant; but I cannot be sure unless I try.”

He smiled; he was listlessly amused; the
day before he had tempted the child merely
because she was pretty, and to tempt her in
that way seemed the natural course of things,
but now there was something in her that
touched him differently; the end would be the
same, but he would change the means.

The sun had set. There was a low, dull red
glow still on the far edge of the plains —that
was all. In the distant cottages little lights
were twinkling. The path grew dark.

“JT will go away and let her alone,” he
thought. ‘Poor little soul! it would give
itself lavishly, it would never be bought. I
will let it alone; the mind will go to sleep and
the body will keep healthy, and strong, and
pure, as people call it. It would be a pity to
play with both a day, and then throw them
away as the boy threw the pear-blossom. She
is a little clod of earth that has field flowers
growing in it. I will let her alone, the flowers
under the plough in due course will die, and she
will be content among the other clods, — if I
let her alone.”
96 BEBEE,

At that moment there went across the dark
fields, against the dusky red sky, a young man
with a pile of brushwood on his back, and a
hatchet in his hand.

“Vou are late, Bébée,” he called to her in
Flemish, and scowled at the stranger by her
side.

“A good-looking lad; who is it?” said her
companion.









SS

NEON





|

COT A STR i Dee Wc ATO
ACO GN iH i i ak SUE RN

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i: my a cu = at i

“That is Jeannot, the son of old Sophie,”
she answered him. ‘He is so good— oh, so
good, you cannot think; he keeps his mother
and three little sisters, and works so very, very
hard in the forest, and yet he often finds time
to dig my garden for me, and he chops all my
wood in winter.”

They had come to where the road goes up
’ by the king’s summer palace. They were under
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. . 97

great hanging beeches and limes. There was a
high gray wall, and over it the blossoming
fruit boughs hung. In a ditch full of long
grass little kids bleated by their mothers. Away
on the left went the green fields of colza, and
beetroot, and trefoil, with big forest trees here
and there in their midst, and, against the blue
low line of the far horizon, red mill-sails, and
gray church spires; dreamy plaintive bells far
away somewhere were ringing the sad Flemish
carillon.

He paused and looked at her.

“T must bid you good night, Bébée; you
are near your home now.”

She paused too and looked at him.

«“ But I shall see you to-morrow?”

There was the wistful, eager, anxious uncon-
sciousness of appeal as when the night before
she had asked him if he were angry.

He hesitated a moment. If he said no, and
went away out of the city wherever his listless
and changeful whim called him, he knew how
it would be with her; he knew what her life
would be as surely as he knew the peach would
come out of the peach-flower rosy on the wall
there: life in the little hut; among the neigh-
bors; sleepy and safe and soulless; —if he let
her alone.

If he stayed and saw her on the morrow he
knew, too, the end as surely as he knew that
the branch of white pear-blossom, which in care-
lessness he had knocked down with a stone on
98 BEBEE,

the grass yonder, would fade in the night and
would never bring forth its sweet, simple fruit
in the sunshine.

To leave the peach-flowsr to come to ma-
turity and be plucked by a peasant, or to pull
down the pear-blossom and rifle the buds?

Carelessly and languidly he balanced the
question with himself, whilst Bébée, forgetful of
the lace patterns and the flight of the hours,
stood looking at him with anxious and plead-
ing eyes, thinking only —was he angry again,
or would he really bring her the books and
make her wise, and let her know the stories of
the past?

‘Shall I see you to-morrow?” she said wist-
fully.

Should she?—if he left the peach-blossom
safe on the wall, Jeannot the woodcutter would
come by and by and gather the fruit.

If he left the clod of earth in its pasture with
all its daisies untouched, this black-browed
young peasant would cut it round with his
hatchet and carry it to his wicker cage, that
the homely brown lark of his love might sing
to it some stupid wood note under a cottage
eave.

The sight of the strong young forester going
over the darkened fields against the dull red
skies was as a feather that suffices to sway to
one side a balance that hangs on a hair.

He had been inclined to leave her alone when
he saw in his fancy the clean, simple, mindless,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 99

honest life that her fanciful girlhood would
settle down into as time should go on. But
when in the figure of the woodman there was
painted visibly on the dusky sky that end for
her which he had foreseen, he was not indiffer-
‘ent to it; he resented it; he was stirred to a
vague desire to render it impossible.

If Jeannot had not gone by across the fields
he would: have left her and let her alone from
that night thenceforwards; as it was, —

“Good night, Bébée,” he said to her. ‘‘ To-
morrow I will finish the Broodhuis and bring
you your first book. Do not dream too much,
or you will prick your lace patterns all awry.
Good night, pretty one.”

Then he turned and went back through the
green dim lanes to the city.

Bébée stood a moment looking after him,
with a happy smile; then she picked up the
fallen pear-blossom, and ran home as fast as
‘her feet would take her.

That night she worked very late watering
her flowers, and trimming them, and then ironing
out a little clean white cap for the morrow; and
then sitting down under the open lattice to
prick out all old Annémie’s designs by the
strong light of the full moon that flooded her
hut with its radiance.

But she sang all the time she worked, and
the gay, pretty, wordless songs floated across
the water and across the fields, and woke some
old people in their beds as they lay with their
100 BEBEE,

windows open, and they turned and crossed
themselves, and said, “Dear heart! — this is
the eve of the Ascension, and the angels are so
near we hear them.”

But it was no angel; only the thing that is
nearer heaven than anything else,—a_ little
human heart that is happy and innocent.

Bébée had only one sorrow that night. The
pear-blossoms were all dead; and no care
could call them back even for an hour’s bloom-
ing.

“He did not think when he struck them
down,” she said to herself, regretfully.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, 101

CHAPTER VIII.

“ AN I do any work for you, Bébée?”
said black Jeannot in the daybreak,
pushing her gate open timidly with one hand.
“There is none to do, Jeannot. They want
so little in this time of the year — the flowers,”
said she, lifting her head from the sweet-peas
she was tying up to their sticks.

The' woodman did not answer; he leaned
over the half-open wicket, and swayed it back-
wards and forwards under his bare arm. He
was a good, harmless, gentle fellow, swarthy
as charcoal and simple as a child, and quite
ignorant, having spent all his days in the great
Soignies forests making fagots when he was a
little lad, and hewing down trees or burning
charcoal as he grew to manhood.

«Who was that seigneur with you last night,
Bébée?” he asked, after a long silence, watch-
ing her as she moved.

Bébée’s eyes grew very soft, but they looked
up frankly.

“T am not sure— I think he is a painter —
a great painter prince, I mean— as Rubes was
in Antwerpen; he wanted roses the night be-
fore last in the cathedral.” ithe
102 ee es2BEE.

“But he was walking with you?”

“ He was in the lane as I came home last
night— yes.”

“What does he give you for your roses?”

“Oh! he pays me well. How is your
mother this day, Jeannot? ”

“You do not like to talk of him?”

“Why should you want to talk of him?
He is nothing to you.”

“Did you really see
him only two days ago,
\ Bébée?”

“Oh, Jeannot! did I
ever tell a falsehood? You
would not say that’to one

of your little sisters.”
Ny The forester swayed
\\h the gate to and fro
drearily under his
WM folded arms.
Bébée, not regard-
ing him, cut her
flowers, and filled
\\ her baskets, and
\iWt\, did her other work,
and set a ladder
against the hut and
climbed on itslow roof to seck for eggs, the
hens having green tastes sometimes for: the
rushes and lichens of its thatch. She found two
eggs, which she promised herself to take to
Annémie, and looking round as she sat on the












OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 103

edge of the roof, with one foot on the highest
rung of the ladder, saw that Jeannot was still
at the gate. | ;

‘You will be late in the forest, Jeannot,” she
cried tohim. ‘It is such a long, long way in
and out. Why do you look so sulky? and you
are kicking the wicket to pieces.”

“Ido not like you to talk with strangers,”
said Jeannot, sullenly and sadly.

Bébée laughed as she sat on the edge of the
thatch, and looked at the shining gray skies of
the early day, and the dew-wet garden, and the
green fields beyond, with happy eyes that made
the familiar scene transfigured to her.

‘“Oh, Jeannot, what nonsense! As if I do
not talk to a million strangers every summer!
as if I could ever sell a flower ifI did not! You
are cross this morning; that is what it is.”

“Do you know the man’s name?” said Jean-
not, suddenly.

Bébée felt her cheeks grow warm as with
some noonday heat of sunshine. She thought
it was with anger against blundering Jeannot’s
curiosity.

‘“No! and what would his name be to us, if I
did know it? I cannot ask people’s names be-
cause they buy my roses.”

‘As if it were only roses!”

There was the length of the garden between
them, and Bébée did not hear as she sat on the
edge of her roof with that light dreamful enjoy-
ment of air and sky and coolness, and all the
104 BEBEE,

beauty of the dawning day, which the sweet
vague sense of a personal happiness will bring
with it to the dullest and the coldest.

“ You are cross, Jeannot, that is what it is,”
she said, after awhile. ‘You should not be
cross; you are too big and strong and good.
Go in and get my bowl of bread and milk for
me, and hand it to me up here. It is so pleas-
ant. It is as nice as being perched on an
apple-tree.”

Jeannot went in obediently and handed rp
her breakfast to her, looking at her with shy,
worshipping eyes. But his face was overcast,
and he sighed heavily as he took up his
hatchet and turned away; for he was the sole
support of his mother and sisters, and if he did
not do his work in Soignies they would starve
at home.

_ You will be seeing that stranger again?” he
asked her.

“Yes!” she answered with a glad triumph in
her eyes; not thinking at all of him as she
spoke. ‘You ought to go, Jeannot, now; you
are so late. . I will come and see your mother
to-morrow. And do not be cross, you dear
big Jeannot. Days are too short to snip them
up into little bits by bad temper; it is only a
stupid sheep-shearer that spoils the fleece by
snapping at it sharp and hard; that is what
Father Francis says.”

Bébée, having delivered her little piece of wis-
dom, broke her bread into her milk and ate it,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 105

lifting her face to the fresh wind and tossing
crumbs to the wheeling swallows, and watching
the rose-bushes nod and toss below in the breeze,
and thinking vaguely how happy a thing it was
to live.

Jeannot looked up at her, then went on_ his
slow sad way through the wet lavender-shrubs
and the opening buds of the lilies.

“ You will only think of that stranger, Bébée,
never of any of us—never again,” he said;
and wearily opened the little gate and went
through it, and down the daybreak stillness of
the lane. It was a foolish thing to say; but
when were lovers ever wise?

Bébée did not heed; she did not understand
herself or him; she only knew that she was
happy; when one knows that, one does not
want to seek much further.

She sat on the thatch and took her bread
and milk in the gray clear air, with the swallows
circling above her head, and one or two of them
even resting a second on the edge of the bowl
to peck at the food from the big wooden spoon ;
they had known her all the sixteen summers of
her life, and were her playfellows, only they
would never tell her anything of what they saw
in winter over the seas. That was her only
quarrel with them. Swallows do not tell their
secrets They have the weird of Procne on
them all.

The sun came and touched the lichens of the
roof into gold.
106 BEBEE,

Bébée smiled at it gayly as it rose above the
tops of the trees, and shone on all the little
villages scattered over the plains.

«Ah, dear Sun!” she cried to it. “I am
going to be wise. I am going into great Rubes’
country. Iam going to hear of the Past and
the Future. I am going to listen to what the
Poets say. The swallows never would tell me
anything ; but now I shall know as much as they
know. Are you not glad for me, O Sun?”

The Sun came over the trees, and heard and
said nothing. If he had answered at all he
must have said, —

“The only time when a human soul is either
wise or happy is in that one single moment
when the hour of my own shining or of the
moon’s beaming seems to that single soul to be
past and present and future, to ‘be at once the
creation and the end of all things. Faust knew
that; so will you.”

But the Sun shone on and held his peace.
‘He sees all things ripen and fall. He can wait.
He knows the end. It is always the same.

He brings the fruit out of the peach-flower, and
rounds it and touches it into ruddiest rose and
softest gold; but the sun knows well that the
peach must drop—whether into the basket to be
eaten by kings, or on to the turf to be eaten by
ants. What matter which very much after all?

The Sun is not a cynic; he is only wise be-
cause he is Life and he is Death, the creator
and the corrupter of all things.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 107

CHAPTER IX.

UT Bébée, who only saw in the sun the sign
of daily work, the brightness of the face of
the world, the friend of the flowers, the harvest-
man of the poor, the playmate of the birds and
butterflies, the kindly light that the waking
birds and the ringing carillon welcomed, —
Bébée, who was not at all afraid of him, smiled
at his rays and saw in them only fairest promise
of a cloudless midsummer day as she gave her
last crumb to the swallows, dropped down off
the thatch, and busied herself in making bread
that Mére Krebs would bake for her, until it
was time to cut her flowers and go down into
the town.

When her loaves were made and she had‘run
over with them to the mill-house and back
again, she attired herself with more heed than
usual, and ran to look at her own face in the
mirror of the deep well-water — other glass she
had none.

She was used to hear herself called pretty;
but she had never thought about it at all till
now. The people loved her; she had always
believed that they had only said it as a sort of
108 BEBEE,

kindness, as they said, ‘God keep you.” But
now —
“He told me I was like a flower,” she thought



to herself, and hung over the well to see. She
did not know very well what he had meant;
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 10g

but the sentence stirred in her heart as a little
bird under tremulous leaves.

She waited ten minutes full, leaning and
looking down, while her eyes, that were like
the blue iris, smiled back to her from the brown
depths below. Then she went and kneeled
down before the old shrine in the wall of the
garden.

“Dear and holy Mother of Jesus, I do thank
you that you made me a little good to look at,”
she said, softly. ‘Keep me as you keep the
flowers, and let my face be always fair, because
it is a pleasure to de a pleasure. Ah, dear
Mother, I say it so badly, and it sounds so vain,
IT know. But Ido not think you will be angry,
will you? And I am going to try to be wise.”

Then she murmured an ave or two, to be in
form as it were, and then rose and ran along
the lanes with her baskets, and brushed the
dew lightly over her bare feet, and sang a
little Flemish song for very joyousness, as the
birds sing in the apple bough.

She got the money for Annémie and took it
to her with fresh patterns to prick, and the
new-laid eggs.

‘“‘T wonder what he meant by a dog’s heart?”
she thought to herself, as she left the old
woman sitting by the hole in the roof pricking
out the parchment in all faith that she earned
her money, and looking every now and then
through the forests of masts for the brig with
the hank of flax flying,—the brig that had
110 BEBEE,

foundered fifty long years before in the northern
seas, and in the days of her youth.

“What is the dog’s heart?” thought Bébée ;
she had seen a dog she knew — a dog which all
his life long had dragged heavy loads undcr
brutal stripes along the streets of Brussels —
stretch himself on the grave of his taskmaster
and refuse to eat, and persist in lying there
until he died, though he had no memory ex-
cept of stripes, and no tie to the dead except
pain and sorrow. Was it a heart like this that
he meant?

“Was her sailor, indeed, so good to her?”
she asked an old gossip of Annémie’s, as she
went down the stairs.

The old soul stopped to think with difficulty
of such a far-off time, and resting her brass
flagon of milk on the steep step.

“Eh, no; not that I ever saw,” she answered
‘at length. ‘He was fond of her— very fond;
but he was a wilful one, and he beat her some-
times when he got tired of being on land. But
women must not mind that, you know, my dear,
if only aman’s heart is right. Things fret them,
and then they belabor what they love best; it
is a way they have.”

“But she speaks of him as of an angel
nearly!” said Bébée, bewildered.

The old woman took up her flagon, with a
smile flitting across her wintry face.

“Ay, dear; when the frost kills your brave
rose-bush, root and bud, do you think of the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. I1I

thorns that pricked you, or only of the fair,
sweet-smelling things that flowered all your
summer?”

Bébée went away thoughtfully out of the old
crazy water-washed house by the quay; life
seemed growing very strange and intricate and
knotted about her, like the threads of lace that
a bad fairy has entangled in the night.
112 BEBEE,

CHAPTER X.

ER stranger from Rubes’ land was a great
man in acertain world. He had become
great when young, which is perhaps a mis-
fortune. It indisposes men to be great at their
maturity. He was famous at twenty, by a
picture hectic in color, perfect in drawing, that
made Paris at his feet. He became more
famous by verses, by plays, by political follies,
and by social successes. He was faithful, how-
ever, to his first love in art. He was a great
painter, and year by year proved afresh the
cunning of his hand. Purists said his pictures
had no soul in them. It was not wonderful if
they had none. He always painted soulless
vice; indeed, he saw very little else.

One year he had some political trouble. He
wrote a witty pamphlet that hurt where it
was perilous to aim. He laughed and crossed
the border, riding into the green Ardennes one
sunny evening. He had a name of some
power and sufficient wealth; he did not feel
long exile. Meanwhile he told himself he
would go and look at Scheffer’s Gretchen.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 113

The King of Thule is better; but people talk
most of the Gretchen. He had never seen
either,

He went in leisurely, travelling up the bright
Meuse River, and across the monotony of the
plains, then green with wheat a foot high, and
musical with the many bells of the Easter ker-
messes in the quaint old-world villages.

There was something so. novel, so sleepy, so
harmless, so medizval, in the Flemish life, that
it soothed him. He had been swimming all his
life in salt sea-fed rapids; this sluggish, dull,
canal water, mirroring between its rushes a life
that had scarcely changed for centuries, had a
charm for him.

He stayed awhile in Antwerpen. The town
is ugly and beautiful; it is like a dull quaint
grés de Flandre jug, that has precious stones
set inside its rim. It is a burgher ledger of
bales and barrels, of sale and barter, of loss and
gain; butin the heart of it there are illumi-
nated leaves of missal vellum, all gold and
color, and monkish story and heroic ballad,
that could only have been executed in the days
when Art was a religion.

He gazed himself into an homage of Rubens,
whom before he had slighted, never having
known (for, unless you have seen Antwerp, it
is as absurd to say that you have seen Rubens,
as it is to think that you have seen Murillo out
of Seville, or Raffaelle out of Rome); and he
studied the Gretchen carefully, delicately”, ssym-
114 BEBEE,

pathetically, for he loved Scheffer; but though
he tried, he tailed to care for her.

«She is only a peasant; she is not a poem,”
he said to himself; ‘I will paint a Gretchen for
the Salon of next year.”

But it was hard for him to portray a Gret-
chen. Allhis pictures were Phryne, — Phryne
in triumph, in ruin, in a palace, in a poor-
house, on a bed of roses, on a hospital mat-
tress; Phryne laughing with a belt of jewels
about her supple waist; Phryne lying with the
stones of the dead-house under her naked
limbs, — but always Phryne. Phryne, who liv-
ing had death in her smile; Phryne, who life-
less had blank despair on her face; Phryne, a
thing that lived furiously every second of her
days, but Phryne a thing that once being dead
was carrion that never could live again.

Phryne has many painters in this school, as
many as Catherine and Cecilia had in the
schools of the Renaissance, and he was chief
amidst them.

How could he paint Gretchen if the pure
Scheffer missed? Not even if, like the artist
monks of old, he steeped his brushes all Lent
through in holy water.

And in holy water he did not believe.

One evening, having left Antwerpen ringing
its innumerable bells over the grave of its dead
Art, he leaned out of the casement of an ab-
sent friend’s old palace in the Brabant street
that is named after Mary of Burgundy; an old
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 115

casement crusted with quaint carvings, and
gilded round in Spanish fashion, with many
gargoyles and griffins, and illegible scutcheons.

Leaning there, wondering with himself
whether he would wait awhile and paint quietly
in this dim street, haunted with the shades of
Memling and Maes, and Otto Veneris and
Philip de Champagne, or whether he would go
into the East and seek new types, and lie under
the red Egyptian heavens and create a true
Cleopatra, which no man has ever done yet,—
a young Cleopatra, ankle-deep in roses and
fresh from Czsar’s kisses,— leaning there, he
saw a little peasant go by below, with two little
white feet in two wooden shoes, and a face that
had the pure and simple radiance of a flower.

“There is my Gretchen,” he thought to him-
self, and went down and followed her into the
cathedral. If he could get what was in her
face, he would get what Scheffer could not.

A little later walking by her in the green
lanes, he meditated, ‘It is the face of Gretchen,
but not the soul—the Red Mouse has never
passed this child’s lips. Nevertheless —

“ Nevertheless —” he said to himself, and
smiled.

For he, the painter all his life long of Phryne
living and of Phryne dead, believed that every
daughter of Eve either vomits the Red Mouse
or swallows it.

It makes so little difference which, — either
way the Red Mouse has been there.
116 BEBEE,

And yet, strolling there in the dusky red of
the evening towards this little rush-covered hut,
he forgot the Red Mouse, and began vaguely
to see that there are creatures of his mother’s
sex from whom the beast of the Brocken slinks

away.
But he still said to himself, ‘‘ Nevertheless.”
“ Nevertheless,’ — for he knew well that

when the steel cuts the silk, when the hound
hunts the fawn, when the snake wooes the bird,
when the king covets the vineyard, there is
only one end possible at any time. It is the
strong against the weak, the fierce against the
feeble, the subtle against the simple, the
master against the slave; there is no equality
in the contest and no justice —it is merely in-
evitable, and the issue of it is written.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 117

CHAPTER XI.

ae next day she had her promised book

hidden under the vine-leaves of her
empty basket as she went homeward, and
though she had not seen him very long or
spoken to him very much, she was happy.

‘The golden gates of knowledge had just
opened to her; she saw a faint, far-off glimpse
of the Hesperides gardens within; of the dragon
she had never heard, and had no fear.

“Might I know your name?” she had asked
him wistfully, as she had given him the rose-
bud, and taken the volume in return that day.

“They call me Flamen.”

“Tt is your name?”

“Yes, for the world. You must call me
Victor, as other women do. Why do you
want my name?”

“Jeannot asked it of me.”

“Oh, Jeannot asked it, did he?”

“Yes: besides,” said Bébée, with her eyes
very soft and very serious, and her happy voice
hushed, — “ besides, I want to pray for you of
course, every day; and if I do not know your
name, how can I make Our Lady rightly under-
stand? The flowers know you without a name,
118 BEBEE,

but she might not, because so very many are
always beseeching her, and you see she has all
the world to look after.”

He had looked at her with a curious look,
and had bade her farewell, and let her go home
alone that night.

Her work was quickly done, and ey the light
of the moon she spread her book on her lap in
the porch of the hut and began her new delight.

The children had come and pulled at her
skirts and begged her to play. But Bébée had
shaken her head.

“Tam going to learn to be very wise, dear,”
she told them; ‘I shall not have time to dance
or to play.”

“But people are not merry when they are
wise, Bébée,” said Franz, the biggest boy.

‘‘Perhaps not,” said Bébée; “ but one cannot
be everything, you know, Franz.”

“But surely, you would rather be merry than
anything else?”

“I thing there is something better, Franz. I
am not sure; I want to find out; I will tell you
when I know.”

“Who has put that into your head, Bébée?”

“The angels in the cathedral,” she told
them; and the children were awed and left her,
and went away to play blind-man’s-buff by
themselves, on the grass by the swan’s water.

“But for all that the angels have said it,”
said Franz to his sisters, ‘‘I cannot see what
good it will be to her to be wise, if she will not
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 11g

care any longer afterwards for almond ginger-
bread and currant cake.”

It was the little tale of ‘Paul and Virginia”
that he had given her to begin her studies with;
but it was a grand copy, full of beautiful draw-
ings nearly at every page.

It was hard work for her to read at first, but
the drawings enticed and helped her, and she
soon sank breathlessly into the charm of the
story. Many words she did not know; many
passages were beyond her comprehension; ‘she
was absolutely ignorant, and had nothing but
the force of her own fancy to aid her.

But though stumbling at every step, as a
lame child through a flowery hillside in summer,
she was happy as the child would be, because
of the sweet, strange air that was blowing about
her, and the blossoms that she could gather
into her hand, so rare, so wonderful, and yet
withal so familiar, because they were blossoms.

With her fingers buried in her curls, with her
book on her knee, with the moon rays white and
strong on the page, Bébée sat entranced as the
hours went by; the children’s play shouts died
away; the babble of the gossip at the house
doors ceased; people went by and called good
night to her; the little huts shut up one by one,
like the white and purple convolvulus cups in
the hedges.

Bébée did not stir, nor did she hear them;
she was deaf even to the singing of the nightin-
gales in the willows, where she sat in her little
120 BEBEE,

dark porch, with the ivy dropping from the
thatch above, and the wet garden-ways beyond
her.

A heavy step came tramping dewn the lane.
A voice called to her, —

‘‘What are you doing, Bébée, there, this time
of the night? It is on the strike of twelve.”

She started as if she were doing some evil
thing, and stretched her arms out, and looked
around with blinded, wondering cyes,
as if she had been rudely wakened
from her sleep.

“What are you doing up so
late?” asked Jeannot; he was com-
? ing from the forest in the dead of
night to bring food for his family;
he lost his sleep thus often, but he
never thought that -he did anything
except his duty in those long, dark,
tiring tramps to and fro between
Soignies and Laeken.

Bébée shut her book and smiled
with dreaming eyes, that saw him not




at all.

“T was reading — and, Jeannot, his name is
Flamen for the world, but I may call him
Victor.”

“What do I care for his name?”

“You asked it this morning.”

“ More fool I. Why do you read? Reading
is not for poor folk like you and me.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 121

Bébée smiled up at the white clear moon
that sailed above the woods:

She was not awake out of her dream. She
only dimly heard the words he spoke.

“You are a little peasant,” said Jeannot
roughly, as he paused at the gate. “It is all
you can do to get your bread. You have no
one to stand between you and hunger. How
will it be with you when the slug gets your
roses, and the snail your carnations, and your
hens die of damp, and your lace is all wove
awry, because your head runs on reading and
folly, and you are spoilt for all simple pleasures
and for all honest work?”

She smiled, still looking wp at the moon,
with the dropping ivy touching her hair.

‘“You are cross, dear Jeannot. Good night.”

A moment afterwards the little rickety door
was shut, and the rusty bolt drawn within it;
Jeannot stood in the cool summer night all
alone, and knew how stupid he had been in his
wrath.

He leaned on the gate a minute; then crossed
the garden as softly as his wooden shoes would
let him. He tapped gently on the shutter of
the lattice.

“ Bébée— Bébée — just listen. I spoke
roughly, dear —I know I have no right. I am
sorry. Will you be friends with me again? —
do be friends again.”

She opened the shutter a little way, so that
he could see her pretty mouth speaking.
122 BEBEE,

“Oh, Jeannot, what does it matter? Yes,
we are friends —we will always be friends, of
course — only you do not know. Good night.”

He went away with a heavy heart anda long-
drawn step. He would have preferred that she
should have been angry with him.

Bébée, left alone, let the clothes drop off
her pretty round shoulders and her rosy limbs,
and shook out her coils of hair, and kissed the
book, and laid it under her head, and went to
sleep with a smile on her face.

Only, as she slept, her fingers moved as if
she were counting her beads, and her lips
murmured, —

‘Oh, dear Holy Mother, you have so much
to think of—yes, I know— all the poor, and
all the little children. But take care of Aim ; he is
called Flamen, and he lives in the street of
Mary of Burgundy; you cannot miss him; and
if you will look for him always, and have a heed
that the angels never leave him, I will give you
my great cactus flower— my only one—on
your Feast of Roses this very year. Oh, dear
Mother, you will not forget!”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 123

CHAPTER XII.

EBEE was a dreamer in her way, and
aspired to be ascholar too. But all the
same, she was not a little fool.



i nag Hl Mat.

Lan

She had been reared in hardy, simple, honest
ways of living, and would have thought it as
shameful as a theft to have owed her bread to
other folk.

So, though she had a wakeful, restless night,
full of strange fantasies, none the less was she
out in her garden by daybreak; none the less
124 BEBEE,

did she sweep out her floor and make her mash
for the fowls, and wash out her bit of linen and
hang it to dry on a line among the tall, flaunt-
ing hollyhocks that were so proud of them-
selves because they reached to the roof.

“What do you want with books, Bébée?”
said Reine, the sabot-maker’s wife, across the
privet hedge, as she also hung out her linen.

.“Franz told me you were reading last night.
It is the silver buckles have done that: one
mischief always begets another.”

“Where is the mischief, good Reine?” said
Bébée, who was always prettily behaved with
her elders, though, when pushed to it, she
could hold her own.

“The mischief will be in discontent,” said
the sabot-maker’s wife. ‘People live on their
own little patch, and think it is the world; that
is as it should be — everybody within his own,
like a nut in its shell. But when you get read-
ing, you hear of a swarm of things you never
saw, and you fret because you cannot see them,
and you dream, and dream, and a hole is burnt
in your soup-pot, and your dough is as heavy
as lead. You are like bees that leave their own
clover fields to buzz themselves dead against
the glass of a hothouse.”

Bébée smiled, reaching to spread out her
linen. But she said nothing.

“What good is it talking to them?” she
thought; “they do not know.”

Already the neighbors and friends of her in-
OR TWO LITTLE WOONEN SHOES. 125

fancy seemed so far, far away; creatures of a
distant world, that she had long left; it was
no use talking, they never would understand.

‘Antoine should never have taught you your
letters,” said Reine, groaning under the great
blue shirts she was hanging on high among the
leaves. “I told him so at the time. I said,
‘The child is a good child, and spins, and sews,
and sweeps, rare and fine for her age; why go
and spoil her?’ But he was always headstrong.
Not a child of mine knows a letter, the saints be
praised! nor a word of any tongue but our own
good Flemish. You should have been brought
up the same. You would have come to ao
trouble then.”

‘Iam in no trouble, dear Reine,” said Bébée,
scattering the potato-peels to the clacking
poultry, and she smiled into the faces of the
golden oxlips that nodded to her back again in
sunshiny sympathy.

“Not yet,” said Reine, hanging her last shirt.

But Bébée was not hearing; she was calling
the chickens, and telling the oxlips how pretty
they looked in the borders; and in her heart
she was counting the minutes till the old Dutch
cuckoo-clock at Mére Krebs’s— the only clock
in the lane—should crow out the hour at which
she went down to the city.

She loved the hut, the birds, the flowers; but
they were little to her now compared with the
dark golden picturesque square, the changing
crowds, the frowning roofs, the gray stones, and
126 BEBEEL,

the delight of watching through the shifting -
colors and shadows of the throngs for one face
and for one smile.

“ He is sure to be there,” she thought, and
started half an hour earlier than was her wont.
She wanted to tell him all her rapture in the
book; no one else could understand.

But all the day through he never came.

Bébée sat with a sick ‘heart and a parched
little throat, selling her flowers and straining
her eyes through the tumult of the square.

The whole day went by, and there was no
sign of him.

The flowers had sold well: it was a feast
day; her pouch was full of pence — what was
that to her?

She went and prayed in the cathedral, but it
seemed cold, and desolate, and empty; even
the storied windows seemed dark.

“Perhaps he is gone out of the city,” she
thought; and a terror fell on her that frightened
her, it was so unlike any fear that she had
ever known — even the fear when she had seen
déath on old Antoine’s face had been nothing
like this.

Going home through the streets, she passed
the café of the Trois Fréres that looks out on
the trees of the park, and that has flowers in
its balconies, and pleasant windows that stand
open to let the sounds of the soldiers’ music
enter. She saw him in one of the windows.
There were amber and scarlet and black; silks
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 127

and satins and velvets. There was a fan painted
and jewelled. There were women’s faces,



There was a heap of purple fruit and glittering
sweetmeats. He laughed there. His beautiful
Murillo head was dark against the white and
gold within.

Bébée looked up,— paused a second, — then
went onward, with a thorn in her heart.

He had not seen her.

“Itis naturai, of course — he has his world
— he does not think often of me — there is no
reason why he should be as good as he is,” she
said to herself as she went slowly over the
stones.

She had the dog’s soul— only she did not
know it.

But the tears fell down her cheeks, as she
walked.

It looked so bright in there, so gay, with the
sound of the music coming in through the trees,
and those women, — she had seen such women
before; sometimes in the winter nights, going
128 BEBEE,

home from the lace work, she had stoppcd at
the doors of the palaces, or of the opera house,
when the carriages were setting down their bril-
liant burdens; and sometimes on the great feast
days she had seen the people of the court going
out to some gala at the theatre, or some great
review of troops, or some ceremonial of foreign
sovereigns; but she had never thought about
them before; she had never wondered whether
velvet was better to wear than woollen serge, or
diamonds lighter on the head than a little cap
of linen.

But now —

Those women seemed to her so dazzling, so
wondrously, so superhumanly beautiful; they
seemed like some of those new dahlia flowers,
rose and purple and gold, that outblazed the
sun on the south border of her little garden,
and blanched all the soft color out of the
homely roses, and pimpernels, and sweet-
williams, and double-stocks, that had bloomed
there ever since the days of Waterloo.

But the dahlias had no scent; and Bébée
wondered if these women had any heart in
them, — they looked all laughter, and glitter,
_and vanity. To the child, whose dreams of
womanhood were evolved from the face of
the Mary of the Assumption, of the Susannah
of Mieris, and of that Angel in the blue coif
whose face has a light as of the sun, —to her
who had dreamed her way into vague percep-
tions of her own sex’s maidenhood and mater-
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 129

nity by help of those great pictures which had
been before her sight from infancy, there was
some taint, some artifice, some want, some
harshness in these jewelled women; she could
not have reasoned about it, but she felt it, as
she felt that the grand dahlias missed a flower’s
divinity, being scentless.

She was a little bit of wild thyme herself;
hardy, fragrant, clean, tender, flowering by the
wayside, full of honey, though only nourished
on the turf and the stones, these gaudy, bril-
liant, ruby-bright, scarlet-mantled dahlias hurt
her with a dim sense of pain and shame.

Fasting, next day at sunrise she confessed to
Father Francis : —

“TI saw beautiful rich women, and I envied
them; and I could not pray to Mary last night
for thinking of them, for I hated them so much.”

But she did not say, —

“T hated them because they were with him.”

Out of the purest little soul, Love entering
drives forth Candor. |

“That is not like you at all, Bébée,” said the
good old man, as she knelt at his. feet on the
bricks of his little bare study, where all the
books he ever spelt out were ; treatises on the
art of bee-keeping.

‘““My dear, you never were covetous at all,
nor did you ever seem to care for the things of
the world. I wish Jehan had not given you
those silver buckles; I think they have set your
little soul on vanities.”
130 BEBEE,

“Tt is not the buckles; I am not covetous,”
said Bébée; and then her face grew warm.
She did not know why, and she did not hear
the rest of Father Francis’s admonitions.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 131

CHAPTER XIII.

UT the next noon-time brought him to the
market stall, and the next also, and so
the summer days slipped away, and Bébée was
quite happy if she saw him in the morning
time, to give him a fresh rose, or at evening by
the gates, or under the beech-trees, when he
brought her a new book, and sauntered awhile
up the green lane beside her.

An innocent, unconscious love like Bébée’s
wants so little food to make it all content.
Such mere trifles are beautiful and sweet to it.
Such slender stray gleams of light suffice to
make a broad, bright golden noon of perfect
joy around it.

All the delirium, and fever, and desire, and
despair, that are in maturer passion, are far away
from it: far as is the flash of the meteor across
sultry skies from the blue forget-me-not down
in the brown meadow brook.

It was very wonderful to Bébée that he, this
stranger from Rubes’ fairyland, could come at .
all to keep pace with her little clattering
wooden shoes over the dust and the grass in the
dim twilight time. The days went: by in a
trance of sweet amaze, and she kept count-of
132 BEBEE,

the hours no more by the cuckoo-clock of the
mill-house, or the deep chimes of the Brussels
belfries; but only by such moments as brought
her a word from his lips, or even a glimpse of
him from afar, across the crowded square.

She sat up half the nights reading the books
he gave her, studying the long cruel poly-
syllables, and spelling slowly through the
phrases that seemed to her so cramped and
tangled, and which yet were a pleasure to un-
ravel for sake of the thought they held.

For Bébée, ignorant little simple soul that
she was, had a mind in her that was eager,
observant, quick to acquire, skilful to retain; and
it would happen in certain times that Flamen,
speaking to her of the things which he gave to
her to read, would think to himself that this
child had more wisdom than was often to be
found in schools.

Meanwhile he pondered various studies. in
various stages of a Gretchen, and made love to
Bébée — made love at least by his eyes and by
his voice, not hurrying his pleasant task, but
hovering about her softly, and mindful not to
scare her, as a man will gently lower his, hand
over a poised butterfly that he seeks to kill, and
which one single movement, a thought too
quick, may scare away to safety.

Bébée knew where he lived in the street of
Mary of Burgundy; in an old palace that be-
longed toa great Flemish noble, who never
dwelt there himself; but to ask anything about
OR 71VO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 133

him — why he was there? what his rank was?
why he stayed in the city at all?—wwas a sort of
treason that never entered her thoughts.

Psyche, if she had been as simple and loyal
as Bébée was, would never have lighted her
own candle; but even Psyche would not have
borrowed any one else’s lamp to lighten the
love darkness.

To Bébée he was sacred, unapproachable, un-
questionable; he was a wonderful, perfect hap-
piness that had fallen into her life; he was a
gift of God, as the sun was.

She took his going and coming as she took
that of the sun, never dreaming of reproaching
his absence, never dreaming of asking if in the
empty night he shone on any other worlds than
hers.

It was hardly so much a faith with her as an
instinct; faith must reason ere it know itself to
be faith. Bébée never reasoned any more than
her roses did.

‘The good folks in the market place watched
her a little anxiously; they thought ill of that
little moss-rose that every day found its way to
one wearer only; but after all they did not see
much, and the neighbors nothing at all. For
he never went home to her, nor with her, and
most of the time that he spent with Bébée was
in the quiet evening shadows, as she went up
with her empty basket through the deserted
country roads.

Bébée was all day long in the city, indeed, as
134 ESE E,

other girls were, but with her it had always
been different. Antoine had always been with
her up to the day of his death; and after his
death she had sat in the same place, surrounded
by the people she had known from infancy, and
an insult to her would have been answered by
a stroke from the cobbler’s strap or from the
tinker’s hammer. There was one girl only who
ever tried to do her any harm —a good-looking
stout wench, who stood at the corner of the
Montagne de la Cour with a stall of fruit in the



summer time, and in winter time drove a milk
cart over the snow. This girl would get at her
sometimes, and talk of the students, and tell her
how good it was to get out of the town on a
holiday, and go to any one of the villages where
there was Kermesse and dance, and drink the
little blue wine, and have trinkets bought for
one, and come home in the moonlight in a
char-a-banc, with the horns sounding, and the
lads singing, and the ribbons flying from the
old horse’s ears.
Ok TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 135

“She is such a little close sly thing!” thought
the fruit girl, sulkily. To vice, innocence must
always seem only a superior kind of chicanery.

‘We dance almost every evening, the chil-
dren and I,” Bébée had answered when urged
fifty times by this girl to go to fairs, and balls
at the wine shops. “That does just as well,
And I have seen Kermesse once at Malines —
it was beautiful. I went with Mare Dax, but
it cost a great deal I know, though she did not
let me pay.”

“You little fool!” the fruit girl would say,
and grin, and eat a pear.

But the good honest old women who sat
about in the Grande Place, hearing, had always
taken the fruit girl to task, when they got her
by herself.

“Leave the child alone, you mischievous
one,” said they.. “Be content with being base
yourself. Look you, Lisette; she is not one
like you to make eyes at the law students, and
pester the painter lads for a day’s outing. Let
her be, or we will tell your mother how you
leave the fruit for the gutter childrer. to pick
and thieve, while you are stealing up the stairs
into that young French fellow’s chamber. Oh,
oh! a fine beating you will get’ when she
knows! ”

Lisette’s mother was a fierce and strong old
Brabantoise, who exacted heavy reckoning with
her daughter for every single plum and peach
that she sent out of her dark sweet-smelling
136 BEBEE,

fruit shop to be sunned in the streets, and under
the students’ love-glances.

So the girl took heed, and left Bébée alone.

“What should I want her to come with us
for?” she reasoned with herself. ‘She is
twice as pretty as I am; Jules might take to
her instead — who knows?”

So that she was at once savage and yet
triumphant when she saw, as she thought,
Bébée drifting down the high flood of tempta-
tion,

“Oh, oh, you dainty one!” she cried one day to
her. ‘So you would not take the nuts and mul-
berries that do for us common folk, because you
had amind for a fine pine out of the hothouses !
That was all, was it? Eh, well; I do not be-
grudge you. Only take care; remember, the
nuts and mulberries last through summer and
autumn, and there are heaps of them on every
fair-stall and street corner; but the pine, that
ig eaten in a day, one springtime, and its like
does. not grow in the hedges. You will have
your mouth full of sugar an hour, —and then,
eh ! — you will go famished all the year.”

“T do not understand,” said Bébée, looking
up, with her thoughts far away, and scarcely
hearing the words spoken to her.

“ Oh, pretty little fool! you understand well
enough,” said Lisette, grinning, as she rubbed
upamelon. ‘Does he give you fine things?
You might let me see.” ;

“No one gives me anything.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 134

“Chut! you want me to believe that. Why
Jules is only a lad, and his father is a silk
mercer, and only gives him a hundred francs a
month, but Jules buys me all I want — somehow
—or do you think I would take the trouble to
set my cap straight when he goes by? He



nl

gave me these ear-rings, look. I wish you
would let me see what you get.”

But Bébée had gone away — unheeding —
dreaming of Juliet and of Jeanne d’Arc, of
whom he had told her tales.
138 BEBEE,

He made sketches of her sometimes, but
seldom pleased himself.

It was not so easy as he had imagined that
it would prove to portray this little flower-like
face, with the clear eyes and the child’s open
brow. He who had painted Phryne so long
and faithfully had gota taint on his brush—
he could not paint this pure, bright, rosy
dawn —he who had always painted the glare
of midnight gas on rouge or rags. “Yet he felt
that if he could transfer to canvas the light that
was on Bébée’s face he would get what Scheffer
had missed. For atime it eluded him. You
shall paint a gold and glistening brocade, or a
fan of peacock’s feathers, to perfection, and
yet, perhaps, the dewy whiteness of the humble
little field daisy shall baffle and escape you.

He felt, too, that he must catch her expres-
sion flying as he would do the flash of a swal-
low’s wing across a blue sky; he knew that
Bébée, forced to studied attitudes in an atelier,
would be no longer the ideal that he wanted.

More than once he came and filled in more
fully his various designs in the little hut garden,
among the sweet gray lavender and the golden
disks of the sunflowers; and more than once
Bébée was missed from her place in the front of
the Broodhuis.

The Varnhart children would gather now and
then open-mouthed at the wicket, and Mére
Krebs would shake her head as she went by on
her sheepskin saddle, and mutter that the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 139

child’s head would be turned by vanity; and
old Jehan would lean on his stick and peer
through the sweetbrier, and wonder stupidly
if this strange man who could make Béhee’s
face beam over again upon that panel of wood
could not give him back his dead daughter who
had been pushed away under the black earth so
long, long before, when the red mill had been
brave and new, the red mill that the boys and
girls called old.

But except these, no one noticed much.

Painters were no rare sights in Brabant.

The people were used to see them coming
and going, making pictures of mud and stones,
and ducks and sheep, and ofall common and silly
things. f

“What does he pay you, Bébée?” they used
to ask, with the shrewd Flemish thought after
the main chance. ;

‘‘ Nothing,” Bébée would answer, with a quick
color in her face; and they would reply in con-
temptuous reproof, “Careless little fool; you
should make enough to buy you wood all
winter. When the man from Ghent painted
Trine and her cow, he gave her a whole gold
bit for standing still so long in the clover. The
Krebs would be sure to lend you her cow, if it
be the cow that makes the difference.”

Bébée was silent, weeding her carnation
bed; —what could she tell them that they
would understand?

She seemed so far away from them all —
140 BEBEE,

those good friends of her childhood — now
that this wonderful new world of his giving
had opened to her sight.

She lived in a dream.

Whether she sat in the market place taking
copper coins, or in the moonlight with a book
on her knees, it was all the same. Her feet
ran, her tongue spoke, her hands worked; she
did not neglect her goat or her garden, she did
not forsake her house labor or her good deeds
to old Annémie; but all the while she only
heard one vo‘ce, she only felt one touch, she
only saw one face.

Here and there — one in a million — there is
a female thing that can love like this, once and
forever.

Such an one is dedicated, birth upwards, to
the Mater Dolorosa.

He had something nearer akin to affection for
her than he had ever had in his life for anything,
but he was never in love with her — no more in
love with her than with the moss-rosebuds that
she fastened in his breast. Yet he played with
her, because she was such a little, soft, tempting
female thing; and because, to see her face flush,
and her heart heave, to feel her fresh feelings
stir into life, and to watch her changes from
shyness to confidence, and from frankness again
into fear, was a natural pastime in the lazy golden
weather.

That he spared her as far as he did, — when
after all she would have married Jeannot any-
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 141

how, — and that he sketched her face in the
Open air, and never entered her hut and never
beguiled her to his own old palace in the city,
was a new virtue in himself for which he hardly
knew whether to feel respect or ridicule; any-
way, it seemed virtue to him.

So long as he did not seduce the body, it
seemed to him that it could never matter how
he slew the soul,—the little, honest, happy,
pure, frank soul, that amidst its poverty and
hardships was like a robin’s song to the winter
sun.

‘‘ Hoot, toot, pretty innocent, so you are no
better than the rest of us,” hissed her enemy,
Lisette, the fruit girl, against her as she went
by the stall one evening as the sun set. “ Prut !
so it was no such purity after all that made you
never look at the student lads and the soldiers,
eh? You were so dainty of taste, you must
needs pick and choose, and, Lord’s sake, after
all your coyness, to drop at a beckoning finger
aS one may say — pong!—Jin a minute, like
an apple over-ripe! Oh hé, you sly one!”

Bébée flushed red, in a sort of instinct of
offence; not sure what her fault was, but
vaguely stung by the brutal words.

Bébée walked homeward by him, with her
empty baskets: looked at him with grave won-
dering eyes.

‘“What did she mean? I do not understand.
I must have done some wrong —or she thinks
so. Do you know?”
142 BEBEE,

Flamen laughed, and answered her eva-
sively, —

“You have done her the wrong of a fair skin
when-hers is brown, and a little foot while hers
is as big as a trooper’s; there is no greater sin,
Bébée, possible in woman to woman.”

“Hold your peace, you shrill jade,” he
added, in anger to the fruiterer, flinging at her
a crown piece, that the girl caught, and bit
with her teeth with a chuckle. ‘“ Do not heed
her, Bébée. She is a coarse-tongued brute,
and is jealous, no doubt.”

‘ Jealous? — of what?”

The word had no meaning to Bébée.

“That I am not a student ora soldier, as
her lovers are.”

As her lovers were! Bébée felt her face
burn again. Was he her lover then? The
child’s innocent body and soul thrilled with a
hot, sweet delight and fear commingled.

Bébée was not quite satisfied until she had
knelt down that night and asked the Master
of all poor maidens to see if there were any
wickedness in her heart, hidden there like a bee
in arose, and if there were to take it out and
make her worthier of this wonderful new hap-
piness in her life.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 143

CHAPTER XIV.

HE next day, waking with a radiant little
soul as a bird in a forest wakes in summer
Bébée was all alone in the lane by the swans’
water. In the gray of the dawn all the good
folk except herself and lame old Jehan had
tramped off to a pilgrimage, Liége way, which
the bishop of the city had enjoined on all the
faithful as a sacred duty.

Bébée doing her work, singing, thinking how
good God was, and dreaming over a thousand
fancies of the wonderful stories he had told her,
and of the exquisite delight that would lie for
her in watching for him all through the shining
hours, Bébée felt her little heart leap like a
squirrel as the voice that was the music of
heaven to her called through the stillness, —

“Good day, pretty one! you are as early as
the lark, Bébée. I go to Mayence, so I thought
I would look at you one moment as I pass.”

Bébée ran down through the wet grass ina
tumult ofjoy. She had never seen him so early
in the day —never so early as this, when no-
body was up and stirring except birds and
beasts and peasant folk.

She did not know how pretty she looked her-
144 BEBEE,

self; like a rain-washed wild rose; her feet
gleaming with dew, her cheeks warm with
health and joy; her sunny clustering hair free
from the white cap and tumbling a little about
her throat, because she had been stooping over
the carnations.

Flamen loosed the wicket latch, and thought
there might be better ways of spending the day
than in the gray shadows of old Mechlin.

“ Will you give me a draught of water?” he
asked her as he crossed the garden.

“T will give. you breakfast,” said Bébée,
happy as a bird. She felt no shame for the
smallness of her home; no confusion at the
poverty of her little place; such embarrass-
ments are born of self-consciousness, and Bébée
had no more self-consciousness than her own
sweet, gray lavender-bush blowing against the
door.

The lavender-bush has no splendor like the
roses, has no colors like the hollyhocks; it is a
simple, plain, gray thing that the bees love and
that the cottagers cherish, and that keeps the
moth from the homespun linen, and that goes
with the dead to their graves.

It has many virtues and infinite sweetness,
but it does not know it or think of it; and if
the village girls ever tell it so, it fancies they
only praise it out of kindness as they put its
slender fragrant spears away in their warm
bosoms. Bébée was like her lavender, and now
that this beautiful Purple Emperor butterfly
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 145

came from the golden sunbeams to find pleasure
for a second in her freshness, she was only very
grateful, as the lavender-bush was to the village
girls.

“J will give you your breakfast,” said Béée,
flushing rosily with pleasure, and putting away
the ivy coils that he might enter.

“T have very little, you know,” she added,
wistfully. ‘Only goat’s milk and bread; but
if that will do —and there is some honey —
and if you would eat a salad, I would cut one
fresh.”

He did enter, and glanced round him with a
curious pity and wonder both in one.

It was such a little, small, square place; and
its floor was of beaten clay; and its unceiled
roof he could have touched; and its absolute
poverty was so plain, — and yet the child looked
so happy in it, and wasso like a flower, and was
so dainty and fresh, and even so full of grace.

She stood and looked at him with frank and
grateful eyes; she could hardly believe that he
was here; he, the stranger of Rubes’ land, in
her own little rush-covered home.

But she was not embarrassed by it; she was
glad and proud.

There is a dignity of peasants as well as of
kings, — the dignity that comes from all absence
of effort, all freedom from pretence. Bébée had
this, and she had more still than this: she had
the absolute simplicity of childhood with her
still.
146 BEBEE,

Some women have it still when they are four-
score,

She could have looked at him forever, she
was so happy; she cared nothing now for those
dazzling dahlias —he had left them; he was
actually here—here in her own, little dear
home, with the cocks looking in at the thresh-
old, and the sweet-peas nodding at the lattice,
and the starling crying, “ Bonjour! Bonjour!”

“You are tired, I am sure you must be tired,”
she said, pulling her little bed forward for him
to sit on, for there were only two wooden stools
in the hut, and no chair at all.

Then she took his sketching-easel and brushes
from his hand, and would have kneeled and
taken the dust off his boots if he would have
let her; and went hither and thither gladly and
lightly, bringing him a wooden bowl of milk
and the rest of the slender fare, and cutting as
quick as thought fresh cresses and lettuce from
her garden, and bringing him, as the crown of
all, Father Francis’s honey-comb on vine-leaves,
with some pretty sprays of box and mignonette
scattered about it — doing all this with a swift,
sweet grace that robbed the labor of all look of
servitude, and looking at him ever and again
with a smile that said as clearly as any words,
“T cannot do much, but what. I do, I do with
all my heart.”

There was something in the sight of her going
and coming in those simple household errands,
across the sunlit floor, that moved him as some
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 147

mountain air sung on an alp by a girl driving
her cows to pasture may move a listener who
indifferent has heard the swell of the organ of
La Hague, or the recitative of a great singer in
San Carlo.

The gray lavender blowing at the house door
has its charm for those who are tired of the ca-
mellias that float in the porcelain bowls of mid-
night suppers.

This man was not good. He was idle and
vain, and amorous and cold, and had been
spoiled by the world in which he had passed
his days; but he had the temper of an artist;
he had something, too, of a poet’s fancy; he
was vaguely touched and won by this simple
soul that looked at him out of Bébée’s eyes with
some look that in all its simplicity had a divine
gleam in it that made him half ashamed.

He had known women by the thousand, good
women and bad; women whom he had dealt
ill with and women who had dealt ill with him;
but this he had not known —this frank, fearless,
tender, gay, grave, innocent, industrious little
life, helping itself, feeding itself, defending itself,
working for itself and for others, and vaguely
seeking all the while some unseen light. some
unknown god, with a blind faith so infinitely
ignorant and yet so infinitely pathetic.

“All the people are gone on a pilgrimage,”
she explained to him when he asked her why
her village was so silent ‘this bright morning.
“They are gone to pray for a fine harvest, and
148 BEBEE,

then each one prays for some other little thing
that she wants herself as well—it costs seven
francs apiece. They take their food with them;
they go and laugh and eat in the fields. I think
it is nonsense. One can say one’s prayers just
as well here. Mére Krebs thinks so too, but
then she says, ‘If I do not go, it will look ill;
people will say I am irreligious; and as we
make so much by flour, God would think it
odd for me to be absent; and, besides, it is
only seven francs there and back; and if it
does please Heaven, that is cheap, you know.



One will get it over and over again in Paradise,’
That is what Mére Krebs says. But, for me, I
think it is nonsense. It cannot please God to
go by train and eat galette and waste a whole
day in getting dusty.

‘When I give the Virgin my cactus flower, I
do give up a thing I love, and I let it wither on
her altar instead of pleasing me in bloom here
all the week, and then, of course, she sees that
I have done it out of gratitude. But that is
different: that I am sorry to do, and yet I am
glad to do it out of love. Do you not know?”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 149

“Yes, I know very well. But is the Virgin
all that you love like this? ”

“No; there is the garden, and there is An-
toine — he is dead, I know. But I think that
we should love the dead all the better, not the
less, because they cannot speak or say that they
are angry; and perhaps one pains them very
much when one neglects them, and if they are
ever so sad, they cannot rise and rebuke one —
that is why I would rather forget the flowers for
the Church than I would the flowers for his
grave, because God can punish me, of course,
if he like, but Antoine never can — any more—
now.”

“ You are logical in your sentiment, my dear,”
said Flamen, who was more moved than he cared
to feel. ‘The union is a rare one in your sex.
Who taught you to reason?”

“No one. And I do not know what to be
logical means. Is it that you laugh at me ?”

“No. Idonotlaugh. And your pilgrims—
they are gone for all day?”

“Yes. They are gone to the Sacred Heart
at St. Marie en Bois. It is on the way to Liége.
They will come back at nightfall. And some
of them will be sure to have drunk too much,
and the children will getso cross. Prosper Bar,
who is a Calvinist, always says, ‘ Do not mix up
prayer and play; you would not cut a gherkin
in your honey’; but I do not know why he
called prayer a gherkin, because it is sweet
enough — sweeter than anything, I think. When
150 BEBE 2;

I pray to the Virgin to let mesee you next day,
I go to bed quite happy, because she will do it,
I know, if it will be good for me.”

‘But if it were not good for you, Bébée ?
Would you cease to wish it then? ”

He rose as he spoke, and went across the
floor and drew away her hand that was parting
the flax, and took it in his own and stroked it,
indulgently and carelessly, as a man may stroke
the soft fur of a young cat.

Leaning against the little lattice and looking
down on her with musing eyes, half smiling, half
serious, half amorous, half sad, Bébée looked
up with a sudden and delicious terror that ran
through her as the charm of the snake’s gaze
runs through the bewildered bird,

‘Would you cease to wish it if it were not
good?” he asked again.

Bébée’s face grew pale and troubled. She
left her hand in his because she did not think
any shame of his taking it. But the question
suddenly flung the perplexity and darkness of
doubt into the clearness of her pure child’s con-
science. All her ways had been straight and
sunlit before her.-

She had never had a divided duty.

The religion and the pleasure of her simple
little life had always gone hand-in-hand, greet-
ing one another, and never for an instant in con-
flict. In any hesitation of her own she had
always gone to Father Francis, and he had dis-
entangled the web for her and made all plain.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 151

But here was a difficulty in which she could
never go to Father Francis.

Right and wrong, duty and desire, were for
the first time arrayed before her in their ghastly
and unending warfare.

It frightened her with a certain breathless
sense of peril—the peril of a time when in lieu of
that gentle Mother of Roses whom she kneeled
to among the flowers, she would only see a dusky
shadow looming between her and the beauty of
life and the light of the sun.

What he said was quite vague to her. She
attached no definite danger to his words. She
only thought — to see him was so great a joy —
if Mary forbade it, would she not take it if she
could notwithstanding, always, always, always?

He kept her hand in his, and watched with
contentment the changing play of the shade and
sorrow, the fear and fascination, on her face.

“You do not know, Bébée?” he said at
length, knowing well himself; so much better
than ever she knew. “Well, dear, that is not
flattering to me. But it is natural. The good
Virgin of course gives you all you have, food,
and clothes, and your garden, and your pretty
plump chickens; and I am only a stranger.
You could not offend her for me; that is not:
likely.”

The child was cut to the heart by the sadness
and humility of words of whose studied artifice
she had no suspicion.

She thought that she seemed to him ungrate-
152 BEBEE,

ful and selfish, and yet all the mooring-ropes
that held her little boat of life to the harbor of
its simple religion seemed cut away, and she
seemed drifting helpless and rudderless upon an
unknown sea.

“T never did do wrong —that I know,” she
said, timidly, and lifted her eyes to his with an
unconscious appeal in them.

“‘But— I do not see why it should be wrong
to speak with you. You are good, and you
lend me beautiful things out of other men’s
minds that will make me less ignorant: Our
Lady could not be angry with that— she must
like it.”

“Our Lady?— oh, poor little simpleton ! —
where will her reign be when Ignorance has
once been cut down root and branch?” he
thought to himself; but he only answered, —

“But whether she like it or not, Bébée? —
you beg the question, my dear; you are — you
are not so frank as usual —think, and tell me
honestly?”

He knew quite well, but it amused him to see
the perplexed trouble that this, the first divided
duty of her short years, brought with it.

Bébée looked at him, and loosened her hand
from his, and sat quite still. Her lips had a
little quiver in them.

“T think,” she said at last, “I think — if it de
wrong, still I will wish it—yes. Only I will
not tell myself it isright. I will just say to Our
Lady, ‘I am wicked, perhaps, but I cannot help
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 153

it’ So, I will not deceive her at all; and per-
haps in time she may forgive. But I think you
only say it to try me. It cannot, I am sure, be
wrong —any more than it is to talk to Jeannot
or to Bac.”

He had driven her into the subtleties of doubt,
but the honest little soul in her found a way out,
as a flower in a cellar finds its way through the
stones to light.

He plucked the ivy leaves and threw them at
the chickens on the bricks without, with a cer-
tain impatience in the action. The simplicity
and the directness of the answer disarmed him;
he was almost ashamed to use against her the
weapons of his habitual warfare. It was like a
maitre d’armes fencing with bare steel against a
little naked child armed with a blest palm-sheaf.

When she had thus brought him all she had,
and he to please her had sat down to the sim-
ple food, she gathered a spray of roses and set
it in a pot beside him, then left him and went
and stood ata little distance, waiting, with her
hands lightly crossed on her chest, to see if
there were anything that he might want.

He ate and drank well to please her, looking
at her often as he did so.

“T break your bread, Bébée,” he said, with

a tone that seemed strange to her, — ‘‘I break
your bread. I must keep Arab faith with
you.”

“ What is that?”
“T mean —I must never betray you.”
154 BEBEE,

“Betray me How could you?”

“ Well — hurt you in any way.”

“Ah, Iam sure you would never do that.”

He was silent, and looked at the spray of
roses.

“Sit down and spin,” he said impatiently.
“Tam ashamed to see you stand there, and a
woman never looks so well as when she spins.
Sit down, and I will eat the good things you
have brought me. But I cannot if you stand
and look.”

“T beg your pardon, I did not know,” she
said, ashamed lest she should have seemed
rude to him; and she drew out her wheel under
the light of the lattice, and sat down to it, and
began to disentangle the threads.

It was a pretty picture—the low, square
casement; the frame of ivy, the pink and white
of the climbing sweet-peas; the girl’s head;
the cool, wet leaves; the old wooden spinning-
wheel, that purred like a sleepy cat.

“T want to paint you as Gretchen, only it
will be a shame,” he said. s

“Who is Gretchen? ”

“You shall read of her by-and-by. And
you live here all by yourself?”

“Since Antoine died — yes.”

“And are never dull?”

“T have no time, and I do not think I would
be if I had time — there is so much to think of,
and one never can understand.”

“But you must be very brave and laborious
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SITOES. 155

to do all your work yourself. Is it possible a
child like you can spin, and wash, and bake,
and garden, and do everything?”





A







as “ith

Winters



ey





FRY







“Oh, many do more than I. Babette’s
eldest daughter is only twelve, and she does
much more, because she has all the children to
look after; and they are very, very poor; they
often have nothing but a stew. of nettles and
perhaps a few snails, days together.”
156 BEBEE,

“ That is lean, bare, ugly, gruesome poverty ;
there is plenty of that everywhere. But you,
Bébée — you are an idyll.”

Bébée looked across the hut and smiled, and
broke her thread. She did not know what he
meant, but if she were anything that pleased
him, it was well.

‘«* Who were those beautiful women?” she said
suddenly, the color mounting into her checks.

“What women, my dear?”

“Those I saw at the window with you, the
other night— they had jewels.”

“Oh!—women, tiresome enough. If I had
seen you, I would have dropped you some fruit.
Poor little Bébée! Did you go by, and I never
knew?”

“You were laughing —”

«Was I?”

“Yes, and they were beautiful.”

“In their own eyes; not in mine.”

6“ No ? a :

She stopped her spinning and gazed at him
with wistful, wondering eyes. Could it be that
they were not beautiful to him? those deep red,
glowing, sun-basked dahlia flowers?

“Do you know,” she said very softly, with a
flush of penitence that came and went, “when I
saw them, I hated them; I confessed it to Father
Francis next day. You seemed so content with
them, and they looked so gay and glad there —
and then the jewels! Somehow, I seemed to
myself such a little thing, and so ugly and mean.
And yet, do you know—”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 157

“ And yet — well?”

“They did not look to me good — those
women,’ said Bébée, thoughtfully, looking
across at him in deprecation of his possible
anger. “They were great people, I suppose,
and they appeared very happy; but though I
seemed nothing to myself after them, still I
think I would not change.”

“You are wise without books, Bébée.”

“Oh, no, I am not wise at all. I only feel.
And give me books; oh, pray, give me books!
You do not know; I will learn so fast; and I
will not neglect anything, that I promise. The
neighbors and Jeannot say that I shall let the
flowers die, and the hut get dirty, and never
spin or prick Annémie’s patterns; but that is
untrue. I will do all, just as I have done, and
more too, if only you will give me things to
. tead, for I do think when one is happy, one
ought to work more —not less.”

‘But will these books make you happy? If
you ask me the truth, I must tell you — no.
You are happy as you are, because you know
nothing else than your own little life; for igno-
rance zs happiness, Bébée, let sages, ancient
and modern, say what they will. But when you
know a little, you will want to know more;
and when you know much, you will want to see
much also, and then — and then — the thing
will grow—you will be no longer content.
That is, you will be unhappy.”

Bébée watched him with wistful eyes.
458 BEBEE,

“Perhaps that it istrue. No doubt it is true,
if you say it. But you. know all the world
seems full of voices that I hear, but that I can-
not understand; it is with me as I should think
it is with people who go to foreign countries
and do not know the tongue that is spoken
when they land; and it makes me unhappy,
because I cannot comprehend, and so the books
will not make me more so, but less. And as
for being content— when I thought you were
gone away out of the city, last night, I thought
I would never be able to pray any more, because
I hated myself, and I almost hated the angels,
and I told Mary that she was cruel, and she
turned her face from me —as it seemed, for-
ever.”

She spoke quite quietly and simply, spinning
as she spoke, and looking across at him with
earnest eyes, that begged him to believe her.
She was saying the pure truth, but she did not
know the force or the meaning of that truth.

He listened with a smile; it was not new to
him; he knew her heart much better than she
knew it herself, but there was an unconscious-
ness, and yet a strength, in the words that
touched him though.

He threw the leaves away, irritably, and told
her to leave off her spinning.

“ Some day I shall paint you with that wheel
as I painted the Broodhuis. Will you let me,
Bébée? ”

COVES a
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 159

She answered him as she would have answered
if he had told her to go on pilgrimage from one
end of the Low Countries to the other.

‘What were you going to do to-day?”

‘“‘T am going into the market with the flowers;
I go every day.”

“How much will you make?”

“ Two or three francs, if I am lucky.”

“And do you never have a holiday?”

“Oh, yes; but not often, you know, because
it is on the féte days that the people want the
most flowers.”

“ But in the winter?”

“Then I work at the lace.”

“Do you never go into the woods?”

“T have been once or twice; but it loses a
whole day.”

“You are afraid of not earning?”

“Yes. Because I am afraid of owing people
anything.”

“Well, give up this one day, and we will
make holiday. The people are out; they will
not know. Come into the forest, and we will
dine at a café in the woods; and we will be as
poetic as you like, and I will tell you a tale of
one called Rosalind, who pranked herself in
boy’s attire, all for love, inthe Ardennes country
yonder. Come, it is the very day for the forest;
it will make me a lad again at Meudon, when
the lilacs were in bloom. Poor Paris! Come.”

“Do you mean it ?”

The color was bright in her face, her heart
160 BEBEE,

was dancing, her little feet felt themselves al-
ready .on the fresh green turf.

She had no thought that there could be any
harm in it. She would have gone with Jeannot
or old Bac.

“Of course I mean it. Come. I was going
to Mayence to see the Magi and Van Dyck’s
Christ. We will go to Soignies instead, and
study green leaves. I will paint your face by
sunlight. It is the best way to paint you. You
belong to the open air. So should Gretchen;
or how else should she have the blue sky in
her eyes?”

‘‘ But I have only wooden shoes!”

Her face was scarlet as she glanced at her
feet; he who had wanted to give her the silk
stockings — how would he like to be seen walk-
ing abroad with those two clumsy, clattering,
work-a-day, little sabots?

‘“Never mind. My dear, in my time I have
had enough of satin shoes and of silver gilt
heels; they click-clack as loud as yours, and
cost much more to those who walk with them,
not to mention that they will seldom deign to
walk at all. Your wooden shoes are pictur-
esque. Paganini made a violin out of a wooden
shoe. Who knows what music may lurk in
yours, only you have never heard it. Perhaps
I have. It was Bac who gave you the red
shoes that was the barbarian, not I. Come.”

“You really mean it?”

“Come.”
Ok TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHUES. 161

“ But they will miss me at market.”

“They will think you are gone on the pil-
grimage: you need never tell them you have not.”

“But if they ask me?”

“Does it never happen that you say any
other thing than the truth?”

“Any other thing than the truth!. Of
course not. People take for granted that one
tells truth; it would be very base to cheat
them. Do you really mean that I may come?
— in the forest! — and you will tell me stories
like those you give me to read?”

“TJ will tell you a better story. Lock your
hut, Bébée, and come.”

“And to think you are not ashamed!”

“ Ashamed? ”

“Yes, because of my wooden shoes.”

Was it possible? Bébée thought, as she ran
out into the garden and locked the door be-
hind her, and pushed the key under the water-
butt as usual, being quite content with that
prudent precaution against robbers which had
served Antoine all his days. Was it possible,
this wonderful joy?—her cheeks were like
her roses, her eyes had a brilliance like the
sun; the natural grace and mirth of the child
blossomed in a thousand ways and gestures.

As she went by the shrine in the wall, she
’ bent her knee a moment and made the sign of
the cross; then she gathered a little moss-rose
that nodded close under the border of the
palisade, and turned and gave it to him.
162 BEBEE,

“Look, she sends you this. She is not
angry, you see, and it is much more pleasure
when she is pleased —do you not know?”

He shrank a little as her fingers touched
him.

“What a pity you had no mother, Bébée! ”
he said, on an impulse of emotion, of which in
Paris he would have been more ashamed than
of any guilt.


OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 163

CHAPTER XV.

N the deserted lane by the swans’ water,
under the willows, the horses waited to take
him to Mechlin; little, quick, rough horses,
with round brass bells, in the Flemish fashion,
and gay harness, and a low char-a-banc, in
which a wolf-skin and red rugs, and all a
painter’s many necessities, were tossed together.
He lifted her in, and the little horses flew
fast through the green country, ringing chimes
at each step, till they plunged into the deep
glades of the woods of Cambre and Soignies.

Bébée sat breathless with delight.

She had never gone behind horses in all her
life, except once or twice in a wagon when the
tired teamsters had dragged a load of corn
across the plains, or when the miller’s old gray
mare had hobbled wearily before a cart-load
of noisy, happy, mischievous children going
home from the masses and fairs, and flags,
and flowers, and church banners, and puppet-
shows, and lighted altars, and whirling merry-
go-rounds of the Féte Dieu.

She had never known what it was to sail as
on the wings of the wind along broad roads,
with yellow wheat-lands, and green hedges,
164. BEBEE,

and wayside trees, and little villages, and reedy
canal water, all flying by her to the sing-song
of the joyous bells,

“Oh, how good it is to live!” she cried,
clapping her hands in a very ecstasy, as the
clear morning broadened into gold and the
west wind rose and blew from the sands by the
sea.

‘““Yes—it is good—if one did not tire so
soon,” said he, watching her with a listless
pleasure.

But she did not hear; she was beyond the
reach of any power to sadden her; she was
watching the white oxen that stood on the
purple brow of the just reapen lands, and the
rosy clouds that blew like a shower of apple-
blossoms across the sky to the south.

There was a sad darkling Calvary on the
edge of the harvest-field that looked black
against the blue sky; its shadow fell across the
road, but she did not see it: she was looking
at the sun.

There is not much change in the great
Soignies woods. They are aisles on aisles of
beautiful green trees, crossing and recrossing;
tunnels of dark foliage that look endless; long
avenues of beech, of oak, of elm, or of fir, with
the bracken and the brushwood growing dense
between; a delicious forest growth everywhere,
shady even at noon, and by a little past mid-
day dusky as evening; with the forest fragrance,
‘sweet and dewy, all about, and under the fern
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 165

the stirring of wild game, and the white gleam
of little rabbits, and the sound of the wings of
birds.

Soignies is not legend-haunted like the
Black Forest, nor king-haunted like Fontaine-
bleau, nor sovereign of two historic streams like
the brave woods of Heidelberg; nor wild and



ig



romantic, and broken with black rocks, and
poetized by the shade of Jaques, and swept
through by a perfect river, like its neighbors
of Ardennes; nor throned aloft on mighty
mountains like the majestic oak glades of the
Swabian hills of the ivory carvers.

Soignies is only a Flemish forest in a plain,
throwing its shadows over corn-fields and cattle
pastures, with no panorama beyond it and no
166 BEBEE,

wonders in its depth. But it is a fresh, bold,
beautiful forest for all that.

It has only green leaves to give, — green
leaves always, league after league; but there is
about it that vague mystery which all forests
have, and this universe of leaves seems bound-
less, and Pan might dwell in it, and St. Hubert,
and John Keats.

Bébée, in her rare holidays with the Bac
children or with Jeannot’s sisters, had never
penetrated farther than the glades of the Cam-
bre, and had never entered the heart of the
true forest, which is much still what it must
have been in the old days when the burghers
of Brabant cut their yew bows and their pike
staves from it to use against the hosts of
Spain.

To Bébée it was as an enchanted land, and
every play of light and shade, every hare
speeding across the paths, every thrush singing
in the leaves, every little dog-rose or harebell

‘that blossomed in the thickets, was to her a
treasure, a picture, a poem, a delight.

He had seen girls thus in the woods of Vin-
cennes and of Versailles in the student days of
his youth ; little work-girls fresh from chalets
of the Jura or from vine-hung huts of the Loire,
who had brought their poor little charms to
perish in Paris; and who dwelt under the hot
tiles and amidst the gilded shop signs till they
were as pale and thin as their own starved
balsams; and who, when they saw the green
Ok TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 167

woods, laughed and cried a little, and thought
of the broad sun-swept fields, and wished that
they were back again behind their drove of
cows, or weeding among the green grapes.

But those little work-girls had been mere
homely daisies, and daisies already with the
dust of the pavement and of the dancing-
gardens upon them.’

Bébée was as pure and fresh as these dew-
wet dog-roses that she found in the thickets of
thorn.

He had meant to treat her as he had used to
do those work-girls— a little wine, a little woo-
ing, a little folly and passion, idle as a butterfly
and brief as a rainbow—one midsummer day
and night — then a handful of gold, a caress, a
good-morrow, and forgetfulness ever afterwards,
— that was what he had meant when he had
brought her out to the forest of Soignies.

But — she was different, this child.

He made the great sketch of her for his
Gretchen, sitting on a moss-grown trunk, with
marguerites in her hand; he sent for their
breakfast far into the woods, and saw her set
her pearly teeth into early peaches and costly
sweetmeats; he wandered with her hither and
thither, and told her tales out of the poets and
talked to her in the dreamy, cynical, poetical
manner that was characteristic of him, being
half artificial and half sorrowful, as his temper
was.

But Bébée, all unconscious, intoxicated with
168 BEBEE,

happiness, and yet touched by it into that
vague sadness which the summer sun brings
with it even to young things, if they have soul
in them, — Bébée said to him what the work-
girls of Paris never had done.

Beautiful things: things fantastic, ignorant,
absurd, very simple, very unreasonable often-
times, but things beautiful always, and some-
times even very wise by a wisdom not of the
world; by a certain light divine that does shine
now and then as through an alabaster lamp,
through minds that have no grossness to ob-
scure them.

Her words were not equal to the burden of
her thoughts at times, but he knew how to
take the pearl of the thought from the broken
shell and tangled sea-weed of her simple, un-
tutored speech.

“If there be a God anywhere,” he thought
to himself, “this little Fleming is very near
him.”

She was so near that, although he had no
belief in any God, he could not deal with her
as he had used to do with the work-girls in the
primrose paths of old Vincennes.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 169

CHAPTER XVI.

“ O be Gretchen, you must count the

leaves of your daisies,” he said to her,
as he painted, — painted her just as she was,
with her two little white feet in the wooden
shoes, and the thick green leaves behind; the
simplest picture possible, the dress of gray —
only cool dark gray — with white linen bodice,
and no color anywhere except in the green
of the foliage; but where he meant the wonder
and the charm of it to lie was in the upraised,
serious, child-like face, and the gaze of the
grave, smiling eyes.

It was Gretchen, spinning, out in the open
air among the flowers. Gretchen, with the tall
dog-daisies growing up about her feet, among
the thyme and the roses, before she had had
need to gather one to ask her future of its
parted leaves.

The Gretchen of Scheffer tells no tale; she
is a fair-haired, hard-working, simple-minded
peasant, with whom neither angels nor devils
have anything to do, and whose eyes never can
open to either hell or heaven. But the Gretchen
of Flamen said much more than this: looking
at it, men would sigh from shame, and women
weep from sorrow.
170 BEBEE,

“Count the daisies? ” echoed Bébée. “Oh,
I know what you mean. A little —much—
passionately — until death — not at all. What
the girls say when they want to see if any one
loves them? Is that it?”













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OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 17I

‘on, seriously, parting their petals with her
fingers. ‘Flowers do know many things —
that is certain.”

“Ask them for yourself.”

“ Ask them what?”

‘How much— any one — loves you?”

“Oh, but every one loves me; there is no
‘one that is bad. Antoine used to say to me,
“Never think of yourself, Bébée; always think
of other people, so every one will love you.’
And I always try to do that, and every one
does.”

“But that is not the love the daisy tells of
to your sex.”

“Noe”

“No; the girls that you see count the
flowers—they are thinking, not of all the
village, but of some one unlike all the rest,
whose shadow falls ‘across theirs in the moon-
light! You know that?”

“Ah, yes—and they marry afterwards —
yes.”

She said it softly, musingly, with no embar-
Tassment; it was an unreal, remote thing to
her, and yet it stirred her heart a little with a
vague trouble that was infinitely sweet.

There is little talk of love in the lives of the
poor; they have no space for it; love to them
means more mouths to feed, more wooden
shoes to buy, more hands to dive into the
meagre bag of coppers. Now and then a girl
of the commune had been married, and had
172 BEBEE,

gone out just the same the next day to her
ploughing in the fields or to her lace-weaving in
the city. Bébée had thought little of it.

“They marry or they do not marry. That
is as it may be,” said Flamen, with a smile.
“ Bébée, I must paint you as Gretchen before
she made a love-dial of the daisies. What is
the story? Oh, I have told youstories enough,
Gretchen’s you would not understand, just yet.”

‘‘ But what did the daisies say to her?”

._ ‘My dear, the daisies always say the same
thing, because daisies always tell the truth and
know men. The daisies always say ‘a little’;
it is the girl’s ear that tricks her, and makes
her hear ‘till death,’ —a folly and falsehood of
which the daisy is not guilty.”

“But who says it if the daisy does not?”

‘‘Ah, the devil perhaps— who knows? He
has so much to do in these things.”

But Bébée did not smile; she had a look of
horror in her blue eyes; she belonged to a
peasantry who believed in exorcising the fiend
by the aid of the cross, and who not so very
many generations before had driven him out of
human bodies by rack and flame.

She looked with a little wistful fear on the
white, golden-eyed marguerites that lay on her
lap.

‘Do you think the fiend is in these?” she
whispered, with awe in her voice,

Flamen smiled. ‘When you count them he
will be there, no doubt.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 173

Bébée threw them with a shudder on the
grass.

‘‘ Have I spoilt your holiday, dear?” he said,
with a certain self-reproach.

She was silent a’ minute, then she gathered
up the daisies again, and stroked them and put
them to her lips.

‘It is not they that do wrong. You say the
girls’ ears deceive them. It is the girls who
want a lie and will not believe a truth because
ithumbles them; it is the girls that are to
blame, not the daisies. As for me,I will not
ask the daisies anything ever, so the fiend will
not enter into them.”.

“Nor into you. Poor little Bébée! ”

“Why, you pity me for that?”

“Yes. Because, if women never see the
serpent’s face, neither do they ever scent the
smell of the paradise roses; and it will be hard
for you to die without a single rose d’amour in
your pretty breast, poor little Bébée?”

“I do not understand. But you frighten me
a little.”

He rose and left his easel and threw himself
at her feet on the grass; he took the little
wooden shoes in his hands as reverently as he
would have taken the broidered shoes of a
duchess; he looked up at her with tender,
smiling eyes.

“Poor little Bébée!” he said again. ‘“ Did
I frighten you indeed? Nay, that was very
base of me. We will not spoil our summer
Taam BEBEE,

holiday. There is no such thing-as a fiend,
my dear. There are only men—such as I am.
Say the daisy spell over for me, Bébée. See if
I do not love you a little, just as you love your
flowers.”

She smiled, and the happy laughter came
again over her face.

“Oh, I am sure you care for me a little,”
she said, softly, “or you would not be so good



and get me books and give me pleasure; and
Ido not want the daisies to tell me that, be-
cause you say it yourself, which is better.”
“Much better,” he answered her dreamily,
and lay there in the grass, holding the little
wooden shoes in his hands.
He was not in love with her. He was in no
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 175

haste. He preferred to play with her softly,
slowly, as one separates the leaves of a rose,
to see the deep rose of its heart.

Her own ignorance of what she felt had a
charm for him. He liked to lift the veil from
her eyes by gentle degrees, watching each new
pulse-beat, each fresh instinét tremble into
life.

It was an old, old story to him; he knew
each chapter and verse to weariness, though
there still was no other story that he still read
as often. But to her it was so new.

To him it was a long beaten track; he knew
every turn of it; he recognized every wayside
blossom; he had passed over a thousand times
each tremulous bridge; he knew so well be-
forehand where each shadow would fall, and
where each fresh bud would blossom, and
where each harvest would be reaped.

But to her it was so new.

She followed him as a blind child a man that
guides her through a garden and reads her a
wonder tale.

He was good to her, that was all she knew.
When he touched her ever so lightly she felt a
happiness so perfect, and yet so unintelligible,
that she could have wished to die in it.

And in her humility and her ignorance she
wondered always how he—so great, so wise,
so beautiful — could have thought it ever worth
his while to leave the paradise of Rubes’ land
to wait with her under her little rush-thatched
176 BEVEE,

roof, and bring her here to see the green leaves
and the living things of the forest.

As they went, a man was going under the
trees with a load of wood upon his back. Lébée
gave a little cry of recognition.

“Oh, look, that is Jeannot! How he will
wonder to see me here!”

Flamen drew her a little downward, so that
the forester passed onward without perceiving
them.

“Why do you do that?” said Bébée. “Shall
I not speak to him?”

“Why? To have all your neighbors chat-
ter of your feast in the forest? It is not worth
while.”

“Ah, but I always tell them everything,”
said Bébée, whose imagination had been already
busy with the wonders that she would unfold to
Mére Krebs and the Varnhart children.

“Then you will see but little of me, my
dear, earn: to, be -silent, Bébéen) It ise 4
woman's first duty, though her hardest.”

“Ts itp”

She did not speak forsome time. She could
not imagine a state of things in which she
would not narrate the little daily miracles of
her life to the good old garrulous women and
the little open-mouthed romps. And yet —
she lifted her eyes to his.

“T am glad you have told me that,” she
said. ‘Though indeed, I do not see why one
should not say what one does, yet — somehow
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 177

—TIdo not liké to talk about you. It is like
the pictures in the galleries, and the music in
the cathedral, and the great still evenings,
when the fields are all silent, and it is as if
Christ walked abroad in them; I do not
know how to talk of those things to the others
—only to you—and I do not like to talk
about you to them— do you not know?”

“Yes, I know. But what affinity have I,
Bébée, to your thoughts of your God walking
in His cornfields?”

Bébée’s eyes glanced down through the
green aisle of the forests, with the musing
seriousness in them that was like the child-
angels of Botticelli’s dreams.

“T cannot tell you very well. But when I
am in the fields at evening and think of Christ,
I feel so happy, and of such good will to all
the rest, and I seem to see heaven quite plain
through the beautiful gray air where the stars
are —and so I feel when I am with you— that
is all. Only —”

“ Only what?”

“Only in those evenings, when I was all
alone, heaven seemed up there, where the stars
are, and I longed for wings; but now, it is
here, and I would only shut my wings if I
had them, and not stir.”

He looked at her, and took her hands and
kissed them —but reverently—as a believer
may kiss a shrine. In that moment to Flamen
she was sacred; in that moment he could no
178 BEBEE,

more have hurt her with passion than he could
have hurt her with a blow.

It was an emotion with him, and did not
endure. But whilst it lasted, it was true.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES, 179

CHAPTER XVII.

HEN he took her to dine at one of the
wooden cafés under the trees. There
was a little sheet of water in front of it anda
gay garden around. There was a balcony and
a wooden stairway; there were long trellised
arbors, and little white tables, and great rose-
bushes like her own at home. They had an
arbor all to themselves; a cool sweet-smelling
bower of green, with a glimpse of scarlet from
the flowers of some twisting beans.

They had a meal, the like of which she had
never seen; such a huge melon in the centre
of it, and curious wines, and coffee or cream in
silver pots, or what looked like silver to her —
“just like the altar-vases in the church,” she
said to herself.

“Tf only the Varnhart children were here!”
she cried; but he did not echo the wish.

It was just sunset. There was a golden glow
on the little bit of water. On the other side of
the garden some one was playing a guitar.
Under a lime-tree some girls were swinging,
crying, Higher! higher! at each toss.

In a longer avenue of trellised green, at a
long table, there was a noisy party of students
180 BEBEE,

and girls of the city; their laughter was
mellowed by distance as it came over the
breadth of the garden, and they sang, with
fresh shrill Flemish voices, songs from an opera
bouffe of La Monnaie.

It was all pretty, and gay, and pleasant.

There was everywhere about an air of light-
hearted enjoyment. Bébée sat with a wonder-

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ing look in her wide-opened eyes, and all the
natural instincts of her youth; that were like
curled-up fruit buds in her, unclosed softly to
the light of joy.

“Ts life always like this in your Rubes’
land?” she asked him; that vague far-away
country of which she never asked him anything
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 181

more definite, and which yet was so clear
before her fancy.

“Ves,” he made answer to her. ‘“ Only —
instead of those leaves, flowers and pome-
granates; and in lieu of that tinkling guitar, a
voice whose notes are esteemed like king’s
jewels; and in place of those little green arbors,
great white palaces, cool and still, with ilex
woods and orange groves and sapphire seas
beyond them. Would you like to come there,
Bébée?— and wear laces such as you weave,
and hear singing and laughter all night long,
and never work any more in the mould of the
garden, or spin any more at that tiresome
wheel, or go any more out in the wind, and the
rain, and the winter mud to the market?”

Bébée listened, leaning her round elbows on
the table, and her warm cheeks on her hands,
as a child gravely listens to a fairy story. But
the sumptuous picture, and the sensuous phrase
he had chosen, passed by her.

It is of no use to tempt the little chaffinch of
the woods with a ruby instead of a cherry. The
bird is made to feed on the brown berries, on
the morning dews, on the scarlet hips of roses,
and the blossoms of the wind-tossed pear
boughs; the gem, though it be a monarch’s,
will only strike hard and tasteless on its beak.

“T would like to see it all,” said Bébée,
musingly trying to follow out her thoughts.
“But as for the garden work and the spinning
—that I do not want to leave, because I have
182 BEBEE,

done it all my life; and I do not think I should
care to wear lace —it would tear very soon;
one would be afraid to run; and do you see J
know how it is made —all that lace. I know
how blind the eyes get over it, and how the
hearts ache; I know how the old women
starve, and the little children cry; I know that
there is not a sprig of it that is not stitched
with pain; the great ladies do not think, I dare
say, because they have never worked at it or
watched the others; but I have. And so, you
see, I think if I wore it I should feel sad, and
if a nail caught on it I should feel as if it were
tearing the flesh of my friends. Perhaps I say
it badly; but that is what I feel.”

‘You do not say it badly — you speak well,
for you speak from the heart,’ he answered
her, and felt a tinge of shame that he had
tempted her with the gold and purple of a
baser world than any that she knew.

‘And yet you want to see new lands?” he
pursued. ‘ What is it you want to see there?”
__ “Ah, quite other things than these,” cried
Bébée, still leaning her cheeks on her hands.
“That dancing and singing is very pretty and
merry, but it is just as good when old Claude
fiddles and the children skip. This wine, you
tell me, is something very great; but fresh
milk is much ‘nicer, I think. It is not these
kind of things I want—I want to know all
about the people who lived before us; I want
to know what the stars are, and what the wind
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 183

is; I want to know where the lark goes when
you lose him out of sight against the sun; I
want to know how the old artists got to see
God, that they could paint him and all his an-
gels as they have done; I want to know how
the voices got into the bells, and how they can
make one’s heart beat, hanging up there as
they do, all alone among the jackdaws; I want
to know what it is when I walk in the fields in
the morning, and it is all gray and soft and still,
and the corn-crake cries in the wheat, and the
little mice run home to their holes, that makes
me so glad and yet so sorrowful, as if I were so
very near God, and yet so all alone, and such a
little thing; because you see the mouse she
has her hole, and the crake her own people,
but I—”

Her voice faltered a little and stopped: she
had never before thought out into words her
own loneliness; from the long green arbor the
voices of the girls and the students sang,—

“ Ah! le doux son d’un baiser tendre!”

Flamen was silent. The poet in him—and
in an artist there is always more or less of the
poet—kept him back from ridicule, nay,
moved him to pity and respect.

They were absurdly simple words no doubt,
had little wisdom in them, and were quite
childish in their utterance, and yet they moved
him curiously as a man very base and callous
may at times be moved by the look in a dying

¢
184 BEBEE,

deer’s eyes, or by the sound of a song that
some lost love once sang.

He rose and drew her hands away, and took
her small face between his own hands instead.

“ Poor little Bébée!” he said gently, looking
down on her with a breath that was almost a
sigh. ‘Poor little Bébée ! — to envy the corn-
crake and the mouse!”

She was a little startled; her cheeks grew
very warm under his touch, but her eyes looked’
still into his without fear.

He stooped and touched her forehead with
his lips, gently and without passion, almost
reverently; she grew rose-hued as the bright
bean-flowers, up to the light gold ripples of
‘her hair; she trembled a little and drew back,
but she was not alarmed nor yet ashamed; she
was too simple of heart to feel the fear that is
born of passion and of consciousness.

It was as Jeannot kissed his sister Marie,
who was fifteen years old and sold milk for the
Krebs péople in the villages with a. little green
cart and a yellow dog—no more.

And yet the sunny arbor leaves and the
glimpse of the blue sky swam round her indis-
tinctly, and the sounds of the guitar grew dull
upon her ear and were lost as in a rushing hiss
of water, because of the great sudden unin-
telligible happiness that seemed to bear her
little life away on it as a sea wave bears a
young child off its feet.

“You do not feel alone now, Bébée?” he
whispered to her.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 185

“No!” she answered him softly under her
breath, and sat still, while all her body quivered
like a leaf.

No; how could she ever be alone now that
this sweet, soft, unutterable touch would always
be in memory upon her; how could she wish
ever again now to be the corn-crake in the
summer corn or the gray mouse in the hedge
of hawthorn?

At that moment a student went by past the
entrance of the arbor; he had a sash round
his loins and a paper feather in his cap; he
was playing a fife and dancing; he glanced in
as he went.

“It is time to go home, Bébée,” said Flamen.
186 BEBEE,

CHAPTER XVIII.

O it came to pass that Bébée’s
day in the big forest came and
went as simply almost as any
day that she had played away

with the Varnhart children under the beech
shadows of Cambre woods.

And when he took her to her hut at sunset
before the pilgrims had returned there was a
great bewildered tumult of happiness in her
heart, but there was no memory with her that
prevented her from looking at the shrine in the
wall as.she passed it, and saying with a quick
gesture of the cross on brow and bosom, —

“Ah, dear Holy Mother, how good you
have been! and I am back again, you see, and
I will work harder than ever because of all this
joy that you have given me.”

And she took another moss-rose and changed
it for that of the morning, which was faded,
and said to Flamen, —

“‘ Look — she sends you this. Now do you
know what I mean? One is more content
when She is content.”

He did not answer, but he held her hands
against him a moment as they fastened in the

“rose bud.


OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 187

“Not aword to the pilgrims, Bébée — you
temember? ”

“Yes, I will remember. I do not tell them
every time I pray —it will be like being silent
about that— it will be no more wrong than
that.”

‘But there was a touch of anxiety in the
words; she was not quite certain; she wanted
to be reassured. Instinct moved her not to
speak of him; but habit made it seem wrong
to her to have any secret from the people who
had been about her from her birth.

He did not reassure her; her anxiety was
pretty to watch, and he left the trouble in her
heart like a bee in the chalice of a lily. Be-
sides, the little wicket gate was between them ;
he was musing whether he would push it open
once more.

Her fate was in the balance, though she did
not dream it: he had dealt with her tenderly,
honestly, sacredly all that day—almost as
much so as stupid Jeannot could have done.
He had been touched by her trust in him, and
by the unconscious beauty of her fancies, into
a mood that was unlike all his life and habits.
But after all, he said to himself —

After all! —

Where he stood in the golden evening he
saw the rosy curled mouth, the soft troubled
eyes, the little brown hands that still tried to
fasten the rosebud, the young peach-like skin
where the wind stirred the bodice; —she was
188 BEBEE,

only a little Flemish peasant, this poor little
Bébée, a little thing of the fields and the
streets, for all the dreams of God that abode
with her. After all—soon or late— the end
would be always the same. What matter!

She would weep a little to-morrow, and she
would not kneel any more at the shrine in the
garden wall; and then — and then —she would
stay here and marry the good boor Jeannot,
just the same after a while; or drift away after
him to Paris, and leave her two little wooden
shoes, and her visions of Christ in the fields at
evening, behind her forevermore, and do as all
the others did, and take not only silken stock-
ings but the Cinderella slipper that is called
Gold, which brings all other good things in its
train; — what matter!

He had meant this from the first, because
she was so pretty, and those little wooden sa-
bots ran so lithely over the stones; though he
was not in love with her, but only idly stretched
his hand for her as a child by instinct stretches
to a fruit that hangs in the sun a little rosier
and a little nearer than the rest.

What matter—he said to himself— she
loved him, poor little soul, though she did not
know it; and there would always be Jeannot
glad enough of a handful of bright French gold.

He pushed the gate gently against her; her
hands fastened the rosebud and drew open the
latch themselves.

“Will you come in a little?” she said, with
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 189

the happy light in her face. ‘You must not
stay long, because the flowers must be watered,
and then there are Annémie’s patterns — they
must be done or she will haveno money and so
" no food — but if you would come in for a little?
And see, if you wait a minute I will show you
the roses that I shall cut to-morrow the first
thing, and take down to St. Guido to Our
Lady’s altar in thank-offering for to-day. I
should like you to choose them — you yourself
— and if you would just touch them I should
feel as if you gave them to her too. Will
you?”

She spoke with the pretty outspoken frank-
ness of her habitual speech, just tempered and,
broken with the happy, timid hesitation, the
curious sense at once of closer nearness and of
greater distance, that had come on her since
he had kissed her among the bright bean-
flowers.

He turned from her quickly.

“No, dear, no. Gather your roses alone,
Bébée ; if I touch them their leaves will fall.”

Then,. with a hurriedly backward glance
down the dusky lane to see that none were
looking, he bent his head and kissed her again
quickly and with a sort of shame, and swung
the gate behind him and went away through
the boughs and the shadows.
190 BEBEE,

CHAPTER XIX.

EBEE looked after him wistfully till his
figure was lost in the gloom.

The village was very quiet; a dog barking
afar off and a cow lowing in the meadow were
the only living things that made their presence
heard; the pilgrims had not returned.

She leaned on the gate a few minutes in that
indistinct, dreamy happiness which is the pre-
rogative of innocent love.

“How wonderful it is that he should give a
thought to me!” she said again and again to
herself. It was as if a king had stooped for a
little knot of daisied grass to set it in his crown
where the great diamonds should be.

She did not reason. She did not question.
She did not look beyond that hour—such is
the privilege of youth.

“How I will read! How I will learn! How
wise I will try to be; and how good, if I can!”
she thought, swaying the little gate lightly
under her weight, and looking with glad eyes at
the goats as they frisked with their young in
the pasture on the other side of the big trees,
whilst one by one the stars came out, and an
owl hooted from the palace woods, and the
frogs croaked good-nights in the rushes.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SITOES. 1g

Then, like a little day laborer as she was,
with the habit of toil and the need of the poor
upon her from her birth up, she shut down the
latch of the gate, kissed it where his hand had
rested, and went to the well to draw its nightly
draught for the dry garden. |

“Oh, dear roses!” she said to them as she
rained the silvery showers over their nodding
heads. ‘Oh, dear roses! —tell me—was
ever anybody so happy as I am? Oh, if you
say ‘yes’ I shall tell you you lie; silly flowers
that were only born yesterday! ”

But the roses shook the water off them in
the wind, and said, as she wished them to say, —

“No—no one—ever before, Bébée — no
one ever before.”

For roses, like everything else upon earth,
only speak what our own heart puts into them.

An old man went past up the lane; old
Jehan, who was too ailing and aged to make
one of the pilgrimage. He looked at the little
quick-moving form,. grayish white in the star-
light, with the dark copper vessel balanced on
her head, going to and fro betwixt the well and
the garden.

“You did not go to the pilgrimage, poor
little one!” he said across the sweetbrier
hedge. ‘ Nay, that was too bad; work, work,
work—thy pretty back should not be bent
double yet. You want a holiday, Bébée; well,
the Féte Dieu is near. Jeannot shall take you,
and maybe I can find a few sous for ginger-
192 BEBEE,

bread and merry-go-rounds. You sit dull in
the market all day; you want a feast.”

Bébée colored behind the hedge, and ran in
and brought three new-laid eggs that she had
left in the flour-bin in the early morning, and
thrust them on him through a break in the
brier. It was the first time she had ever done
anything of which she might not speak: she
was ashamed, and yet the secret was so sweet
to her.

“Tam very happy, Jehan, thank God!” she
murmured, with a tremulous breath and a shine
inher eyes that the old man’s ears and sight
were too dull to discern.

‘““So was she,’ muttered Jehan, as he thrust
the eggs into his old patched blue blouse, —“so
was she. And then a stumble — a blow in the
lane there —a horse’s kick — and all was over.
All over, my pretty one — for ever and ever.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 193

CHAPTER XxX.

N a sudden impulse Flamen, going through

the woodland shadows to the city, paused

and turned back; all his impulses were quick,

and swayed him now hither, now thither, in
many contrary ways.

He knew that the hour was come — that he
must leave her and spare her, as to himself he
phrased it, or teach her the love words that the
daisies whisper to women.

And why not? — anyway she would marry
Jeannot.

He, half-way to the town, walked back. again
and paused a moment at the gate; an emotion
half pitiful, half cynical, stirred in him.

Anyway he would leave her in a few days;
Paris had again opened her arms to him; his
old life awaited.him; women who claimed him
by imperious, amorous demands reproached
him; and after all this day he had got the
Gretchen of his ideal, a great picture for the
future of his fame.

As he would leave her anyway so soon, he
would leave her unscathed—poor little field
flower—he could never take it with him to
blossom or wither in Paris.
194 BEBEE,

His world would laugh too utterly if he made
for himself a mistress out of a little Fleming in
two wooden shoes. Besides—

Besides, something that was half weak and
half noble moved him not to lead this child, in
her trust and her ignorance, into ways that
when she awakened from her trance would
seem to her shameful and full of sorrow. For
he knew that Bébée was not as others are.

He turned back and knocked at the hut
door and opened it.

Bébée was just beginning to undress herself;
she had taken off her white kerchief and her
wooden shoes; her pretty shoulders and her
little neck shone white in the moon; her feet
were bare on the mud floor.

She started with a cry and threw the hand-
kerchief again on her shoulders, but there was
no fear of him; only the unconscious instinct
of her girlhood.

He thought for a moment that he would not
go away until the morrow—

“Did you. want me?” said Bébée coir,
with happy eyes of surprise and yet a little
startled, fearing some evil might have happened
to him that he should have returned thus.

“No; I do not want you, dear,” he said
gently; no—he did not want her, poor little
soul; she wanted him, but he — there were so
many of these things in his life, and he liked
her too well to love her.

“No, dear, I did not want you,” said Flamen,
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 195
drawing her arms about him, and feeling her
flutter like a little bird, while the moonlight
came in through the green leaves and fell in
fanciful patterns on the floor. “ But I came to
say — you have had one happy day, wholly
happy, have you not, poor little Bébée?”

‘Ah, yes!” she sighed rather than said the
answer in her wondrous gladness; drawn there
close to him, with the softness of his lips upon
her. Could he have come back only to ask
that?

“Well, that is something. You will remem-
ber it always, Bébée?” he murmured in his
unconscious cruelty. ‘I did not wish to spoil
your cloudless pleasure, dear—for you care
for me a little, do you not?—soI came back
to tell you only now that I go away for a little
while to-morrow.”

“Go away!” ;

She trembled in his arms and turned cold as
ice; a great terror and darkness fell upon her;
she had never thought that he would ever go
away. He caressed her, and played with her
as a boy may with a bird before he wrings its
neck.

“You will come back?”

He kissed her: “Surely.”

“ To-morrow?”

““ Nay — not so soon.”

“In a week?”

“ Hardly.”

“Tn a month, then?”
196 BEBEE,

‘ Perhaps.”

“ Before winter, anyway? ”

He looked aside from the beseeching, tearful,
candid eyes, and kissed her hair and her throat,
and said, ‘‘ Yes, dear — beyond a doubt.”

She clung to him, crying silently; he wished

that. women would not weep.
. “Come, Bébée, listen,” he said coaxingly,
thinking to break the bitterness to her. ‘“ This
is not wise, and it gives me pain. There is so
much for you to do. You know so little.
There is so much to learn. I will leave you
many books, and you must grow quite learned
in my absence. The Virgin is all very well in
her way, but she cannot teach us much, poor
lady. For her kingdom is called Ignorance.
You must teach yourself. I leave you that to
do. The days will go by quickly if you are
laborious and patient. Do you love me, little
one?”

For an answer she kissed his hand.

“You are a busy little Bébée always,” he
said, with his lips caressing her soft brown arms

‘that were round his neck. ‘But you must be
busier than ever whilst Iam gone. So you will
forget. No, no, I do not mean that: —I mean
so the time will pass quickest. And I shall
finish your picture, Bébée, and all Paris will see
you, and the great ladies will envy the little
girl with her two wooden shoes. Ah! that
does not please you? —you care for none of
these vanities. No. Poor little Bébée, why
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 1y7

did God make you, or Chance breathe life into
you? You are so far away from us all. It
was cruel. What harm has your poor little
soul ever done that, pure as a flower, it should
have been sent to the hell of this world?”

She clung to him, sobbing without sound.
“You will come back? You will come back?”
she moaned, clasping him closer and closer.

Flamen’s own eyes grew dim. But he
lied to her: “I will—I promise.”

It was so much easier to say so,
and it would break her sorrow. So
he thought.

For the moment again he was
tempted to take her with him — but,
he resisted it—he would tire, and
she would cling to him forever.

There was a long silence. The
bleating of the little kid in the shed
without was the only sound; the gray
lavender blew to and fro.

Her arms were close about his
throat; he kissed them again, and Kissed her
eyes, her cheek, her mouth; then put her
from him quickly and went out.

She ran to him, and threw herself on the
damp ground and held him there, and leaned
her forehead on his feet. But though he
looked at her with wet eyes, he did not yield,
and he still said, —

“JT will come back soon—very soon; be
quiet, dear, let me go.”


198 ’ BEBEE,

Then he kissed her once more many times,
and put her gently within the door and closed
it.

A low, sharp, sudden cry reached him, went
to his heart, but he did not turn: he went on
through the wet, green little garden, and the
curling leaves, where he had found peace and
had left desolation.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 199

CHAPTER XXI.

“ T WILL let her alone, and she will marry
Jeannot,” thought Flamen; and he be-
lieved himself a good man for once in his life,
and pitied himself for having become a senti-
mentalist.
She would marry Jeannot, and bear many
children, as those people always did; and
ruddy little peasants would cling about those
pretty, soft, little breasts of hers; and she
would love them after the manner of such
women, and be very content clattering over the
stones in her wooden shoes; and growing brown
and stout, and more careful after money, and
ceasing to dream of unknown things, and not
seeing God at all in the fields, but looking low
and beholding only the ears of the gleaning
‘wheat and the feet of the tottering children;
and so gaining her bread, and losing her soul,
and stooping nearer and nearer to earth till she
dropped into it like one of her own wind-blown
wall-flowers when the bee has sucked out all its
sweetness and the heats have scorched up all its
bloom: — yes, of course, she would marry
Jeannot and end so!
Meanwhile he had his Gretchen, and that
was the one great matter.
200 BEBEE,

So he left the street of Mary of Burgundy,
and went on his way out of the chiming city as
its matin bells were rung, and took with him a
certain regret, and the only innocent affection
that had ever awakened in him; and thought
of his self-negation with half admiration and
half derision; and so drifted away into the
whirlpool of his amorous, cynical, changeful,
passionate, callous, many-colored life, and said
to himself as he saw the last line of the low
green plains shine against the sun, ‘ She
- will marry Jeannot — of course, she will marry
Jeannot. And my Gretchen is greater than
Scheffer’s.”

What else mattered very much, after all,
except what they would say in Paris of
Gretchen?
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES- 201

CHAPTER XXII.

ee saw that Bébée had grown very
quiet. But that was all they saw.

Her little face was pale as she sat among
her glowing autumn blossoms, by the side of
the cobbler’s stall; and when the Varnhart
children cried at the gate to her to come and
play, she would answer gently that she was too
busy to have play-time now.

The fruit girl of the Montagne de la Cour
hooted after her, “Gone so soon?—oh hé!
what did I say?—a fine pine is sugar in the
teeth a second only, but the brown nuts you
may crack all the seasons round. Well, did
you make good harvest while it lasted? has
Jeannot a fat bridal portion promised?”

And old Jehan, who was the tenderest soul
of them all in the lane by the swans’ water,
would come and look at her wistfully as she
‘worked among the flowers, and would say to
her, —

‘‘Dear little one, there is some trouble;
does it come of that painted picture? You
never laugh now, Bébée, and that is bad. A
girl’s laugh is pretty to hear; my girl laughed
like little bells ringing— and then it stopped,
202 BEBEE,

all at once; they said she was dead. But you
are not dead, Bébée. And yet you are so
silent; one would say you were.

But to the mocking of the fruit girl, as to the
tenderness of old Jehan, Bébée answered noth-
ing; the lines of her pretty curled mouth grew
grave and sad, and in her eyes there was a wist-
ful, bewildered, pathetic appeal like the look in
the eyes of a beaten dog, which, while it aches
wi. with pain, does not cease

Ss to love its master.

One resolve upheld
her, and made her feet

firm on the stones
== of the streets and

her lips mute

( '\ under all they said

= = to her. She would

learnallshe could, .

and be good, and patient, and wise, if trying

could make her wise, and so do his will in all.
things — until he should come back. |

“You are not gay, Bébée,” said Annémie,
who grew so blind that she could scarce see the
flags at the mastheads, and who still thought
that she pricked the lace patterns and earned her
bread. ‘You are not gay, dear. Has any lad
gone to sea that your heart goes away with, and
do you watch for his ship coming in with the
coasters? It is weary work waiting; but it is
all the men think us fit for, child. They may
set sail as they like; every new port has new








OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 203

faces for them; but we are to sit still and to
pray if we like, and never murmur, be the voy-
age ever so long, but be ready with a smile and
a kiss, a fresh pipe of tobacco, and a dry pair
of socks;—that is a man. We may have
cried our hearts out; we must have ready the
pipe and the socks, or, ‘Is that what you call
love?’ they grumble. You want mortal patience
if you love a man,—it is like a fretful child
that thumps you when your breast is bare to it.
Still, be you patient, dear, just as I am, just
as I am.”

And Bébée would shudder as she swept the
cobwebs from the garret walls, — patient as she
was, she who had sat here fifty years watch-
ing for a dead man and for a wrecked ship.


204 BEBEE,

CHAPTER XXIII.

HE wheat was reapen in the fields, and

the brown earth turned afresh. The
white and purple chrysanthemums bloomed
goaie the flowerless rose-bushes, and the
little gray Michaelmas daisy
flourished where the dead
carnations had spread their |
glories. Leaves began

to fall and chilly winds







aN

to sigh among the willows; the squirrels began
to store away their nuts, and the poor to pick
up the broken bare boughs.

“He said he would come before winter,”
thought Bébée, every day when she rose and
felt each morning cooler and grayer than the
one before it; winter was near.

Her little feet already were cold in their
wooden shoes; and the robin already sang in
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 205

the twigs of the sear sweetbrier; but she had
the brave sweet faith which nothing kills, and
she did not doubt—oh! no, she did not doubt,
she was only tired.

Tired of the strange, sleepless, feverish
nights; tired of the long, dull, empty days;
tired of watching down the barren, leafless lane ;
tired of hearkening breathless to each step
on the rustling dead leaves; tired of looking
always, always, always, into the ruddy autumn
evenings and the cold autumn starlight, and
never hearing what she listened for, never see-
ing what she sought; tired as a child may be
lost in a wood, and wearily wearing its small
strength and breaking its young heart in search
of the track forever missed, of the home for-
ever beyond the horizon.

Still she did her work and kept her courage.

She took her way into the town with her
basket full of the ruby and amber of the dusky
autumn blossoms, and when those failed, and
the garden was quite desolate, except for a
promise of haws and of holly, she went, as she
had always done, to the lace-room, and gained
her bread and the chickens’ corn each day by
winding the thread round the bobbins; and at
nightfall when she had plodded home through
the darksome roads and over the sodden turf,
and had Jit her rushlight and sat down to her
books, with her hand buried in her hair, and
her eyes smarting from the strain of the lace-
work, and her heart aching with that new and
206 BERLE,

deadly pain which never left her now, she
would read — read — read — read, and try and
store her brain with knowledge, and try and
grasp these vast new meanings of life that the
books opened to her, and try and grow less
ignorant against he should return.

There was much she could not understand,
but there was also much she could.

Her mind was
delicate and quick,
her intelligence
swift and strong;
she bought old
books at book-

stalls with pence
that she saved
=zz—~ by going with-

out her dinner.

The keeper. of
the stall, a shrewd
old soul, explained some
hard points to her, and
chose good volumes for
her, and lent others to
this solitary little student
in her wooden shoes and with her pale child’s
face.

So she toiled hard and learned much, and
grew taller and very thin, and got a look in her
eyes like a lost dog’s, and yet never lost heart
or wandered in the task that he had set her, or
in her faith in his return.


OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN. SHOES. 207

“Burn the books, Bébée,’ whispered the
children again and again, clinging to her skirts.
“Burn the wicked, silent things. Since you
have had them you never sing, or romp, or
laugh, and you look so white — so white.”

Bébée. kissed them, but kept to her books.

Jeannot going by from the forest night after
night saw the light twinkling in the hut window,
and sometimes crept softly up and looked
through the chinks of the wooden shutter, and
saw her leaning over some big old volume with
her pretty brows drawn together, and her
mouth shut close in earnest effort, and he
would curse the man who had changed her so,
and go away with rage in his breast and tears
in his eyes, not daring to say anything, but
knowing that never would Bébée’s little brown
hand lie in love within his own.

Nor even in friendship, for he had rashly
spoken rough words against the stranger from
Rubes’ land, and Bébée ever since then had
passed him by with a grave, simple greeting,
and when he had brought her in timid gifts a
barrow-load of fagots, had thanked him, but
had bidden him take the wood home to his
mother. .

“You think evil things of me, Bébée?” good
Jeannot had pleaded, with a sob in his voice;
and she had answered gently, —

“No; but do not speak to me, that is all.”

Then he had cursed her absent lover, and
Bébée gone within and closed her door.
- 208 BEBEE,

She had no idea that the people thought ill
ofher. They were cold to her, and such cold-
ness made her heart ache a little more. But
the one great love in her possessed her so
strongly that all other things were half unreal.

She did her daily housework from sheer
habit, and she studied because he had told her
to do it, and because with the sweet, stubborn,
credulous faith of her youth, she never doubted
that he would return.

Otherwise there was no perception of rezl
life in her; she dreamed and prayed, and prayed
and dreamed, and never ceased to do either
one or the other, even when she was scattering
potato-peels to the fowls, or shaking carrots
loose of the soil, or sweeping the snow from
her hut door, or going out in the raw dark
dawn as the single little sad bell of St. Guido
tolled through the stillness for the first mass.

For though even Father Francis looked
angered at her because he thought she was
stubborn, and hid some truth and some shame
from him at confession, yet she went resolutely
and oftener than ever to kneel in the dusty,
dusky, crumbling old church, for it wes all she
could do for him who was absent—so she
thought—-and she did not feel quite so far
away from him when she was_ beseeching
Christ to have care of his soul and of his
body.

All her pretty dreams were dead.

She never heard any story in the robin’s
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN. SHOES. 229

song, or saw any promise in the sunset clouds,
or fancied that angels came about her in the
night — never now.

The fields were gray and sad; the birds were
little brown things; the stars were cold and
far off; the people she had used to care for
were like mere shadows that went by her
meaningless and without interest, and all she
thought of was the one step that never came;
all she wanted was the one touch she never
felt.

“You have done wrong, Bébée, and you will
not own it,’ said the few neighbors who ever
spoke to her,

Bébée looked at them with wistful, uncom-
prehending eyes.

«“T have done no wrong,” she said gently,
but no one believed her.

A girl did not shut herself up and wane pale
and thin for nothing, so they reasoned. She
might have sinned as she had liked if she had
been sensible after it, and married Jeannot.

But to fret mutely, and shut her lips, and
seem asthough she had done nothing, —that
was guilt indeed.

For her village, in its small way, thought as
the big world thinks.
210 BERL”,

CHAPTER XXIV.

ULL winter came.

The snow was deep, and the winds drove
the people with whips of ice along the dreary
country roads and the steep streets of the city.
The bells of the dogs and the mules sounded
sadly. through the white misty silence of the
Flemish plains, and the weary horses slipped
and fell on the frozen ruts and onthe jagged
stones in the little frost-shut Flemish towns.
Still the Flemish folk were gay cooven in many
places.

There were fairs and pees. there were
puppet plays and church feasts; there were
sledges on the plains and skates on the canals;
there were warm woollen hoods and ruddy
wood fires; there were tales of demons and
saints, and bowls of hot onion soup; sugar
images for the little children, and blessed beads
for the maidens clasped on rosy throats with
lovers’ kisses; and in the city itself there was
the high tide of the winter pomp and mirth,
with eae scenes in the churches, and balls at
the palaces, and all manner 6f gay things in
toys and jewels, and music playing cheerily
under the leafless trees, and flashes of scarlet
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 211

cloth, and shining furs, and happy faces, and
golden curls, in the carriages that climbed the
Montagne de la Cour, and filled the big place
around the statue of stout Godfrey. :

In the little village above St. Guido, Bébée’s
neighbors were merry too, in their simple way.

The women worked away wearily at their
lace in the dim winter light, and made a
wretched living by it, but all the same they got
penny playthings for their babies, and a bit of
cake for their Sunday hearth. They drew to-
gether in homely and cordial friendship, and of
an afternoon when dusk fell wove their lace in
company in Mére Krebs’s mill-house kitchen,
with the children and the dogs at their feet
on the bricks, so that one big fire might serve
for all, and all be lighted with one big rush
candle, and all be beguiled by chit-chat and
songs, stories of spirits, and whispers of ghosts,
and now and then when the wind howled at its
worst, a paternoster or two said in common
for the men toiling in the barges or drifting
up the Scheldt.

In these gatherings Bébée’s face was missed,
and the blithe soft sound of her voice, like a
young thrush singing, was never heard.

The people looked in, and saw her sitting
over a great open book; often her hearth had
no fire.

Then the children grew tired of asking her
to play; and their elders began to shake their
heads; she was so pale and so quiet, there
212 ‘BEBEE,

must be some evil in it—so they began to
think.

Little by little people dropped away from
her. Who knew, the gossips said, what shame
or sin the child might not have on her sick
little soul?









































































































































































True, Bébée worked hard just the same, and
just the same was seen trudging to and fro in
the dusk of dawns and afternoons in her two
little wooden shoes. She was gentle and
laborious, and gave the children her goat’s
milk, and the old women the brambles of her
garden.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 213

But they grew afraid of her — afraid of that
sad, changeless, far-away look in her eyes, and
of the mute weariness that was on her —and,
being perplexed, were sure, like all ignorant
creatures, that what was secret must be also
vile.

So they hung aloof, and let her alone, and
by and by scarcely nodded as they passed her,
but said to Jeannot, —

“You were spared a bad thing, lad; the
child was that grand painter’s light-o’-love,
that is plain to see. The mischief all comes of
the stuff old Antoine filled her head with—a
stray little by-blow of chickweed that he
cockered up like a rare carnation. Oh! do not
fly in a rage, Jeannot; the child is no good,
and would have made an honest man rue.
Take heart of grace, and praise the saints, and
marry Katto’s Lisa.”

But Jeannot would never listen to the slan-
derers, and would never look at Lisa, even
though the door of the little hut was always
closed against him; and whenever he met
Bébée on the highway she never seemed to see
him more than she saw the snow that her
sabots were treading.

One night in the midwinter-time old Anné-
mie died.

Bébée found her in the twilight with her
head against the garret window, and her left
side all shrivelled and useless. She had a little
sense left, and a few fleeting breaths to draw.
214 BEBEE,

“Took for the brig,” she muttered. ‘You
will not see the flag at the masthead for the fog
to-night; but his socks are dry and his pipe is
ready. Keep looking —keep looking — she
will be in port to-night.”

But her dead sailor never came into port;
she went to him. The poor, weakened, faith-
ful old body of her was laid in the graveyard of
the poor, and the ships came and went under
the empty garret window, and Bébée was all
alone,

She had no more anything to work for, or
any bond with the lives of others. She could
live on the roots of her garden and the sale of
her hens’ eggs, and she could change the
turnips and carrots that grew in a little strip of
her ground for the quantity of bread that she
needed.

So she gave herself up to the books, and
drew herself more and more within from the
outer world. She did not know that the neigh-
bors thought very evil of her; she had only
one idea in her mind —to be more worthy of
him against he should return.

The winter passed away somehow, she did
not know how.

It was a long, cold, white blank of frozen
silence; that was all. She studied hard, and
had got a quaint, strange, deep, scattered knowl-
edge out of her old books; her face had lost
all its roundness and color, but, instead, the
forehead had gained breadth and the eyes had
the dim fire of a student’s.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 215

Every night when she shut her volumes she
thought, —

“Tama little nearer him. I know a little
more.”

Just so every morning, when she bathed her
hands in the chilly water, she thought to her-
self, ‘I will make my skin as soft as I can for
him, that it may be like the ladies’ he has
loved.”

Love to be perfect must be a religion, as well
asa passion. Bébée’s was so. Like George
Herbert’s serving-maiden, she swept no specks
of dirt away from a floor without doing it to
the service of her lord.

Only Bébée’s lord was a king of earth, made
of earth’s dust and vanities.

But what did she know of that?
216 BEBEE,

CHAPTER XXV.

HE winter went by, and the snow-drops and
crocus and pale hepatica smiled at her
from the black clods. Every other springtime
Bébée had run with fleet feet under the budding
trees down into the city, and had sold sweet
little wet bunches of violets and brier before all
the. snow was melted from the eaves of the
Broodhuis.

“The winter is gone,” the townspeople used
to say; ‘look, there is Bébée with the flowers.”

But this year they did not see the little
figure itself like a rosy crocus standing against
the brown timbers of the Maison de Roi.

Bébée had not heart to pluck a single blos-
som of them all. She let them all live, and
tended them so that the little garden should
look its best and brightest to him when his
hand should lift its latch.

Only he was so long coming —so very long;
the violets died away, and the first rosebuds
came in their stead, and: still Bébée looked
every dawn and yet nightfall vainly down the
empty road.

Nothing kills young creatures like the bitter-
ness of waiting.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 217

Pain they will bear, and privation they will
pass through, fire and water and storm will not
appall them, nor wrath of heaven and earth, but
waiting —the long, tedious, sickly, friendless
days, that drop one by one in their eternal
sameness into the weary past, these kill slowly
but surely, as the slow dropping of water frets
away rock,

The summer came.

Nearly a year had gone by. Bébée worked
early and late. The garden bloomed like one
big rose, and the neighbors shook their heads
to see the flowers blossom and fall without
bringing in a single coin.

She herself spoke less seldom than ever; and
now when old Jehan, who never had understood
the evil thoughts of his neighbors, asked her
what ailed her that she looked so pale and
never stirred down to the city, now her courage
failed her, and. the tears brimmed over her
eyes, and she could not call up a brave brief
word to answer him. For the time was so
long, and she was so tired.

Still she never doubted that her lover would
come back: he had ‘said he would come: she
was as sure that he would come as she was sure
that God came in the midst of the people when
the silver bell rang and the Host was borne by
on high.

Bébée did not heed much, but she vaguely
felt the isolation she was left in: as a child too
young to reason feels cold and feels hunger.
218 BEBEE,

“No one wants me here now that Annémie
is gone,” she thought to herself, as the sweet
green spring days unfolded themselves one by
one like the buds of the brier-rose hedges.

And now and then even the loyal little soul
of her gave way, and sobbing on her lonely
bed in the long dark nights, she would cry out
against him, “Oh,
why not have left
me alone? I was
so happy — so
happy!”

And then she
) would reproach
\ herself with trea-

son to him and
ingratitude, and
hate herself and
feel guilty in her
own sight to have
thus sinned against
him in thought for one single instant.

For there are natures in which the generosity
of love is so strong that it feels its own just
pain to be disloyalty; and Bébée’s was one of
them. And if he had killed her she would
have died hoping only that no moan had es-
caped her under the blow that ever could
accuse him.

These natures, utterly innocent by force of
self-accusation and self-abasement, suffer at
once the torment of the victim and the criminal.


OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 219

CHAPTER XXVI.

NE day in the May weather she sat within
doors with a great book upon her table,
but no sight for it in her aching eyes. The star-
ling hopped to and fro on the sunny floor; the
bees boomed in the porch; the tinkle of sheep’s
bells came in on the stillness. All was peaceful
and happy except the little weary, breaking,
desolate heart that beat in her like a caged
bird’s.

‘He will come; I am sure he will come,”
she said to herself; but she was so tired, and it
was so long—oh, dear God! —so very long.

A hand tapped at the lattice. The shrill
voice of Reine, the sabot-maker’s wife, broken
with anguish, called through the hanging
ivy, —

‘““Bébée, you are a wicked one, they say, but
the only one there is at home in the village
this day. Get you to town for the love of
Heaven, and send Doctor Max hither, for my
pet, my flower, my child lies dying, and nota
soul near, and she black as a coal with chok-
ing — go, go, go! —and Mary will forgive you
your sins. Save the little one, dear Bébée, do
you hear? and I will pray God and speak fair
the neighbors for you. Go!”
220 BEBEE,

Bébée rose up, startled by the now unfamiliar
sound of a human voice, and looked at the
breathless mother with eyes of pitying wonder.

“Surely I will go,” she said, gently; “but
there is no need to bribe me. J have not
sinned greatly — that I know.”

Then she went out quickly and ran through
the lanes and into the city for the sick child,
and found the wise man, and sent him, and did
the errand rather in a sort of sorrowful sympa-
thetic instinct than in any reasoning conscious-
ness of doing good.

When she was moving through the once
familiar and happy ways as the sun was setting
on the golden fronts of the old houses, and the
chimes were ringing from the many towers, a
strange sense of unreality, of non-existence, fell
upon her.

Could it be she?—she indeed—who had
gone there the year before the gladdest thing
that the earth bore, with no care except to
shelter her flowers from the wind, and keep
the freshest blossoms for the burgomaster’s
housewife ?

She did not think thus to herself; but a
vague doubt that she could ever have been the
little gay, laborious, happy Bébée, with troops
of friends and endless joys for every day that
dawned, came over her as she went by the
black front of the Broodhuis.

The strong voice of Lisa, the fruit girl,
jarred on her as she passed the stall under its
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 221

yellow awning that was flapping sullenly in the
evening wind.

‘““Oh hé, little fool,” the mocking voice cried,
“the rind of the fine pine is full of prickles,
and stings the lips when the taste is gone? —
to be sure— crack common nuts like me, and
you are never wanting —hazels grow free in
every copse. Prut, tut! your grand lover lies
a-dying; so the students read out of this just
now; and you such a simpleton as not to get a
roll of napoleons out of him before he went to
rot in Paris. I dare say he was poor as spar-
rows, if one knew the truth. He was only a
painter after all.”

Lisa tossed her as she. spoke a torn sheet,
in which she was wrapping gentians: it was a
piece of newspaper some three weeks old, and
in it there was a single line or so which said
that the artist Flamen, whose Gretchen was the
wonder of the Salon of the year, lay sick unto
death in his'rooms in Paris.

Bébée stood and read; the strong ruddy
western light upon the type, the taunting
laughter of the fruit girl on her ear.

A bitter shriek rang from her that made even
the cruelty of Lisa’s mirth stop in a sudden
terror.

She stood staring like a thing changed to
stone down on the one name that to her filled
all the universe.

“ Tl] — he is ill—do you hear?” she echoed
piteously, looking at Lisa; ‘and you say he is
poor?”
222 BEBEE,

‘Poor? for sure! is he not a painter?” said
the fruit girl, roughly. She judged by her
own penniless student lads; and she was an-
gered with herself for feeling sorrow for this
little silly thing that she had loved to torture.

“You have been bad and base to me; but
now —I bless you, I love you, I will pray for
you,” said Bébée, in a swift broken breath, and
with a look upon her face that startled into
pain her callous enemy.

Then without another word, she thrust the
paper in her bosom, and ran out of the square
breathless with haste and with a great resolve.

He was ill— and he was poor! The brave
little soul of her leaped at once to action. He
was sick, and far away; and poor they said.
All danger and all difficulty faded to nothing
before the vision of his need.

Bébée was only a little foundling who ran
about in wooden shoes; but she had the
“‘dog’s soul” in her — the soul that will follow
faithfully though to receive a curse, that will
defend loyally though to meet a blow, and that
will die mutely loving to the last.

She went home, how she never knew; and
without the delay of a moment packed up a
change of linen, and fed the fowls and took the
key of the hut down to old Jehan’s cabin. The
old man was only half-witted by reason of his
affliction for his dead daughter, but he was
shrewd enough to understand what she wanted
of him, and honest enough to do it.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES 223

“Tam going into the city,” she said to him;
“and if I am not back to-night, will you feed
the starling and the hens, and water the flowers
for me?”

Old Jehan put his head out of his lattice; it
was seven in the evening, and he was going to
bed.

‘‘What are you after, little one?” he asked;
“going to show the fine buckles at a students’
ball? Nay, fie; thatis not like you.”

“T am going to— pray — dear Jehan,” she
answered, with a sob in her throat and the first
falsehood she ever had told. “Do what I ask
you—do for your dead daughter’s sake — or
the birds and the flowers will die of hunger and
thirst. Take the key and promise me.”

He took the key, and promised.

“Do not let them see those buckles shine;
they will rob you,” he added.

Bébée ran from him fast; every moment that
was lost was so precious and so terrible. To
pause a second for fear’s sake never occurred
to her. She went forth as fearlessly as a young
swallow, born in northern April days, flies forth
on instinct to new lands and over unknown seas
when autumn falls.

Necessity and action breathed new life into
her. The hardy and brave peasant ways of her
were awoke once more. She had been strong
to wait silently with the young life in her dying
out drop by drop in the heart-sickness of long
delay. She was strong now to throw herself
224 BEBEE,

into strange countries and dim perils and im-
measurable miseries, on the sole chance that
she might be of service to him,

A few human souls here and there can love
like dogs. Bébée’s was one.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 225

CHAPTER XXVII.

T was dark. The May days are short in

the north lands of the Scheldt.

She had her little winter cloak of frieze and
her wooden shoes and her little white cap, with
the sunny curls rippling out of it in their pretty
rebellion. She had her little lantern too; and
her bundle, and she had put a few fresh eggs
in her basket, with some sweet herbs and the
palm-sheaf that Father Francis had blessed last
Easter; for who could tell, she thought, how
ill he might not be, or how poor?

She hardly gave a look to the hut as she ran
by its garden gate; all her heart was on in
front, in the vague far-off country where he lay
sick unto death.

She ran fast through the familiar lanes into
the city. She was not very sure where Paris
was, but she had the name clear and firm, and
she knew that people were always coming and
going thence and thither, so that she had no
fear she should not find it.

- She went straight to the big, busy, bewilder-
ing place in the Leopold quarter where the
iron horses fumed every day and night along
the iron ways. She had never been there be-
226 BEBEE,

fore, but she knew it was by that great high-
way that the traffic to Paris was carried on,
and she knew that it would carry people also
as well.

There were bells clanging, lights flashing,
and crowds pushing and shouting, as she ran
up —a little gray figure, with the lantern- -spark
glimmering like any tiny glow-worm astray in a
gas-lit city.

“To Paris?” she asked, entreatingly, going
where she saw others going, to a little grated
wicket in a wall.

“Twenty-seven francs —quick!” they de-
manded of her. Bébée gave a great cry, and
stood still, trembling and trying not to sob
aloud. She had never thought of money; she
had forgotten that youth and strength and love
and willing feet and piteous prayers, —all went
for nothing as this world is made.

‘A hope flashed on her and a glad thought.
She loosed the silver buckles, and held them
out.

“Would you take these? They are worth
much more.”

There was a derisive laughter; some one
bade her with an oath begone; rough shoulders
jostled her away. She stretched her arms out
piteously.

“Take me — oh, pray take me! I will go
with the sheep, with the cattle —only, only
take me!”

But in the rush and roar none heeded her;
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 227

some thief snatched the silver buckles from her
hand, and made off with them and was lost in
the throng; a great iron beast rushed by her,
snorting flame and bellowing smoke; there was
a roll like thunder, and all was dark; the night
express had passed on its way to Paris.

Bébée stood still, crushed for a moment with
the noise and the cruelty and the sense of ab-
solute desolation; she scarcely noticed that the
buckles had been stolen; she had only one
thought — to get to Paris.

“Can I never go without money?” she
asked at the wicket; the man there glanced a
moment, with a touch of pity, at the little wist-
ful face.

“The least is twenty francs—surely you
must know that?” he said, and shut his grating
with a clang.

Bébée turned away and went out of the great
cruel, tumultuous place; her heart ached and
her brain was giddy, but the sturdy courage
of her nature rose to need.

“There is no way at all to go without money
to Paris, 1 suppose?” she asked of an old
woman whom she knew a little, who sold nuts
and little pictures of saints and wooden play-
things under the trees, in the avenue hard by.

The old woman shook her head.

“Eh? —no, dear. There is nothing to be
done anywhere in the world without money.
Look, I cannot get a litre of nuts to sell unless
I pay beforehand.”
228 BEBEE,

“Would it be far to walk?”

“Far! Holy Jesus! It is right away in the
heart of France—over two hundred miles,
they say; straight out through the forest.
Not but what my son did walk it once — and
he a shoemaker, who knows what walking
costs; and he is well-to-do there now — not
that he ever writes. When they want nothing
people never write.”

* And he walked into Paris?”

“Ves, ten years ago. He had nothing but a
few sous and an ash stick, and he had a fancy
to try his luck there. And after all our feet
were given us to travel with. If you go there
and you see him, tell him to send me some-
thing —I am tired of selling nuts.”

Bébée said nothing, but went on her road;
since there was no other way but to walk, she
would take that way; the distance and the
hardship did not appall two little feet that were
used to traverse so many miles of sun-baked
summer dust and of frozen winter mud un-
blenchingly year after year.

The time it would take made her heart sink
indeed. He was ill. God knew what might
happen. But neither the length of leagues nor
the fatigue of body daunted her. She only saw
his eyes dim with pain and his lips burned with
fever.

She would walk twenty miles a day, and then,
perhaps, she might get lifts here and there on
hay wagons or in pedlers’ carts; people had
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 229

always used to be kind to her. Anyhow she
counted she might reach Paris well in fifteen
days.

She sat under a shrine in a by street a mo-
ment, and counted the copper pieces she had
on her; they were few, and the poor pretty
buckles that she might have sold to get money
were stolen.

She had some twenty sous and a dozen eggs;
she thought she might live on that; she had
wanted to take the eggs to him, but after all, to
keep life in her until she could reach Paris was
the one great thing.

“ What a blessing it is to have been born
poor; and to have lived hardly— one wants so
little! ” she thought to herself.

Then she put up the sous in the linen bosom
of her gown, and trimmed her little lantern and
knelt down in the quiet darkness and prayed a
moment, with the hot agonized tears rolling
down her face, and then rose and stepped out
bravely in the cool of the night, on the great
southwest road towards Paris.

The thought never once crossed her to turn
back, and go again into the shelter of her own
little hut among the flowers. He was sick there,
dying, for anything she knew; that was the
only thing she remembered.

It was a clear, starlit night, and everywhere
the fragrance of the spring was borne in from
the wide green plains, and the streams where
the rushes were blowing.
230 BEBEE,

She walked ten miles easily, the beautiful
gray shadow all about her. She had never
been so far from home in all her life, except to
that one Kermesse at Mechlin. But she was
not afraid.

With the movement, and the air, and the
sense that she was going to him, which made
her happy even in her misery,
something of the old, sweet,
lost fancies came to her.

She smiled at the stars
through her tears, and as the
poplars swayed and murmured
in the wind, they looked to her
like the wings and the swords
of a host of angels.

Her way lay out through
the forest, and in that sweet -
green woodland she was not
afraid—no more afraid than
the fawns were.
: At Boitsfort she shrank
T=. a little, indeed. Here
— ss es there were the open-air
restaurants, and the café
gardens all alight for the pleasure-seekers
from the city; here there were music and
laughter, and horses with brass bells, and
bright colors on high in the wooden balconies,
and below among the blossoming hawthorn
hedges. She had to go through it all, and
she shuddered a little as she ran, thinking of















OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 231

that one priceless, deathless forest day when he
-had kissed her first.

But the pleasure-people were all busied with
’ their mirth and mischief, and took no notice of
the little gray figure in the starry night. She
went on along the grassy roads, under the high
arching trees, with the hoot of the owls and the
cry of the rabbits on the stillness.

At Groenendael, in the heart of the forest,
midnight was striking as she entered the village.
Every one was asleep. The lights were all out.
The old ruined priory frowned dark under the
clouds.

She shivered a little again, and began to feel
chill and tired, yet did not dare to knock at any
one of the closed house doors— she had no
money.

So she walked on her first ten unknown miles,
meeting a few people only, and being altogether
unmolested —a small gray figure, trotting in two
little wooden shoes.

They thought her a peasant going to a fair
or a lace mill, and no one did her more harm
than to wish her good night in rough Flemish.

When. the dawn began to whiten above the
plains of the east, she saw an empty cow-shed
filled with hay; she was a little tired, and lay
down and rested an hour or two, as a young
lamb might have lain on the dried clover, for
she knew that she must keep her strength and
husband her power, or never reach across the
dreary length of the foreign land to Paris.
232 BEBEE,

But by full sunrise she was on her way again,
bathing her face in a brook and buying a sou’s
worth of bread and flet-milk at the first cottage
that she passed in bright, leaf-bowered Hoey-
laert.

The forest was still all around her, with its
exquisite life of bough and. blossom, and mur-
mur of insect and of bird. She told her beads,
praying as she went, and was almost happy.

God would not let him die. Oh, no, not till
she had kissed him once more, and could die
with him.

The hares ran across the path, and the blue
butterflies flew above-head. There was purple
gloom of pine wood, and sparkling verdure of
aspen and elm. There were distant church
carillons ringing, and straight golden shafts
of sunshine streaming.

She was quite sure God would not let him
die.

She hoped that he might be very poor. At
times he had talked as if he were, and then she
might be of so much use. She knew how to
deal with fever and suffering. She had sat up
many a night with the children of the village.
The gray sisters had taught her many of their
ways of battling with disease; and she could
make fresh cool drinks, and she could brew
beautiful remedies from simple herbs. There
was so much that she might do; her fancy
played with it almost happily. And then, only
to touch his hand, only to hear his voice; her
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 233

heart rose at the thought, as a lark to its
morning song.

At Rixensart, buried in its greenery, as
she went through it in morning light, some
peasants greeted her cheerily, and called to
her to rest in a house porch, and gave her
honey and bread. She could not eat much;
her tongue was parched and her throat was
dry, but the kindness was precious to her, and
she went on her road the stronger for it.

“Tt is a long way to walk to Paris,” said the
woman, with some curious wonder. Bébée
smiled, though her eyes grew wet.

“She has the look of the little Gest,” said
the Rixensart people; and they watched her
away with a vague timid pity.

So she went on through Ottignies and La
Roche to Villers, and left the great woods and
the city chimes behind her, and came through
the green abbey valleys through Tilly and
Ligny, and Fleurus, and so into the coal and
iron fields that lie round Charleroi.

Here her heart grew sick, and her courage
sank under the noise and the haste, before the
blackness and the hideousness. She had never
seen anything like it. She thought it was hell,
with the naked, swearing, fighting people, and
the red fires leaping night and day. Neverthe-
less, if hell it were, since it lay betwixt her and
him, she found force to brave and cross it.

The miners and _ glass-blowers and_nail-
makers, rough and fierce and hard, frightened
234 BEBEE,

her. The women did not look like women,
and the children ran and yelled at her, and set
their dogs upon her. The soil was thick with
dust like soot, and the trees were seared and
brown. There was no peace in the place, and
no loveliness. Eighty thousand folks toiled
together in the hopeless Tophet, and swarmed,
and struggled, and labored, and multiplied, in
joyless and endless wrestling against hunger
and death.

She got through it somehow, hiding often
from the ferocious youngsters, and




We oe SS ERS ee
=e
ate >
less rather than lie in those dens of filth; but
she seemed so many, many years older when
Charleroi lay at last behind her,—so many,
many years older than when she had sat and
spun in the garden at home.

When she was once in the valley of the
Sambre she was more herself again, only she
felt weaker than she had ever done, because
she only dared to spend one of her sous each
day, and one sou got so little food.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 235

In the woods and fields about Alne she
began to breathe again, like a bird loosed to the
air after being shut in a wooden trap. Green
corn, green boughs, green turf, mellow chimes
of church bells, humming of golden bees, cradle
songs of women spinning, homely odors of
little herb gardens and of orchard trees under
cottage walls, — these had been around her all
her life; she only breathed freely among them.

She often felt tired, and her wooden shoes
were wearing so thin that the hot dust of the
road at noonday burnt her feet through them,
Sometimes, too, she felt a curious brief faint-
ness, such as she had never known, for the
lack of food and the long fatigue began to tell
even on her hardy little body.

But she went on bravely, rarely doing less
than her twenty miles a day, and sometimes
more, walking often in the night to save time,
and lying down in cow-sheds or under hay-
stacks in the noontide.

For the most part people were kind to her;
they saw she was so very young and so poor.

_ Women would give her leave to bathe her-
self in their bedchambers, and children would
ask her to wait on the village bench under the
chestnut-tree, while they brought her their pet
lamb or their tumbler pigeons to look at, but,
for the most part—unless she was very, very

.tired—she would not wait. It took her so
long, and who could tell how it fared with him
in Paris?
236 BEBEE,

Into the little churches, scattered over the
wide countries between Charleroi and Erque-
linnes, she would turn aside, indeed; but, then,
that was only to say a prayer for him; that
was not loss to him, but gain.

So she walked on until she reached the
frontier of France. She began to get a little
giddy; she began to see the blue sky and the
green level always swirling round her as if
some one were spinning them to frighten her,
but still she would not be afraid; she went on,
and on, and on, till she set her last step on the
soil of Flanders.

Here a new, strange, terrible, incomprehen-
sible obstacle opposed her: she had no papers;
they thrust her back and spoke to her as if she
were a criminal. She could not understand
what they could mean. She had never heard
of these laws and rules. She vaguely compre-
hended that she must not enter France, and
stunned and heartbroken she dropped: down
under a tree, and for the first time sobbed as if
her very life would weep itself away.

She could see nothing, understand nothing.
There were the same road, the same hedges,
the same fields, the same white cottages, and
peasants in blue shirts and dun-hued oxen in
the wagons. She saw no mark, no difference,
ere they told her where she stood was Belgium,
and where they stood was France, and that
she must not pass from one into the other.

The men took no notice of her. They went
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 237

back into their guard-house, and smoked and
drank. A cat sunned herself under a scarlet
bean. The white clouds sailed on before a
southerly sky. She might die here— he there
—and nothing seemed to care.

After a while an old hawker came up; he
was travelling with wooden clocks from the
Black Forest. He stopped and looked at her,
and asked her what she ailed.

She knelt down at his feet in the dust

“Oh, help me!” she cried to him. “Oh,
pray, help me! I have walked all the way
from Brussels —that is my country —and now
they will not let me pass that house where the
soldiers are. They say I have no papers.
What papers should I have? I do not know.
When one has done no harm, and does not owe
a sou anywhere, and has walked all the way —
Is it money that they want? I have none; and
they stole my silver clasps in Brussels; and if
I do not get to Paris I must die— die without
seeing him again — ever again, dear God!”

She dropped her head upon the dust and
crouched and sobbed there, her courage broken
by this new barrier that she had never dreamed
would come between herself and Paris.

The old hawker looked at her thoughtfully.
He had seen much of men and women, and
knew truth from counterfeit, and he was moved
by the child’s agony.

He stooped and whispered in her ear, —

“Get up quick, and I will pass you. It is
238 BEBEE,

against the law, andI may go to prison for it.
Never mind; one must risk something in this
world, or else be a cur. My daughter has
stayed behind in Marbais sweethearting; her
name is on my passport, and her age and face
will do for yours. Get up and follow me close,
and I will get you through. Poor little soul!
Whatever your woe is itis real enough, and
you are such a young and pretty thing. Get
up, the guards are in their house, they have
not seen; follow me, and you must not speak
a word; they must take you for a German,
dumb as wood.”

She got up and obeyed him, not compre-
hending, but only vaguely seeing that he was
friendly to her, and would pass her over into
France.

The old man made a little comedy at the
barrier, and scolded her as though she were
his daughter for losing her way as she came to
meet him, and then crying like a baby.

The guards looked at her carelessly, joked
the hawker on her pretty face, looked the
papers over, and let her through, believing her
the child of the clock-maker of the Hartz.
Some lies are blessed as truth.

“J have done wrong in the law, but not be-
fore God, I think, little one,” said the pedler.
‘Nay, do not thank me, or go on like that;
we are in sight of the customs men still, and if
they suspected, it would be the four walls of a
cell only that you and I should see to-night.
OR TIVO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 239

And now tell me your story, poor maiden:
why are you on foot through a strange
country?”

But Bébée would not tell him her story; she
was confused and dazed still. She did not
know rightly what had happened to her; but
she could not talk of herself, nor of why she
travelled thus to Paris.

The old hawker got cross at her silence, and
‘called her an unthankful jade, and wished that
he had left her to her fate, and parted com-
pany with her at two cross-roads, saying his
path did not lie with hers; and then when he



had done that, was sorry, and being a tender-
hearted soul, hobbled back, and would fain
press a five-franc piece on her; and Bébée, re-
fusing it all the while, kissed his old brown
hands and blessed him, and broke away from
him, and so went on again solitary towards St.
Quentin.

The country was very flat and poor, and yet
the plains had a likeness in them to her own
wide Brabant downs, where the tall green wheat
was blowing and the barges dropping down the
sluggish streams.

She was very footsore; very weary; very
240 BEBEE,

hungry so often; but she was in France—in
his country; and her spirit rose with the sense
of that nearness to him.

After all, God was so good to her; there
were fine bright days and nights; a few
showers had fallen, but merely passing ones;
_ the air was so cool and so balmy that it served
her almost as food; and she seldom found
people so unkind that they refused for her single
little sou to give her a crust of bread and let
her lie in an outhouse.

After all, God was very good; and by the
sixteenth or seventeenth day she would be in
the city of Paris.

She was a little light-headed at times from
insufficient nourishment; especially after wak-
ing from strange dreams in unfamiliar places ;
sometimes the soil felt tremulous under her,
and the sky spun round; but she struggled
against the feeling, and kept a brave heart, and
tried to be afraid of nothing.

Sometimes at night she thought she saw old
Annémie. ‘But what if I do?” she said to
herself; ‘“‘ Annémie never will hurt me.”

And now, as she grew nearer her goal, her
natural buoyancy of spirit returned as it had
never done to her since the evening that he had
kissed and left her. As her body grew lighter
and more exhausted, her fancy grew keener and
more dominant. All things of the earth and
air spoke to her as she went along as they had
used todo. All that she had learned from the
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 241

books in the long cold months came to her
clear and wonderful. She was not so very ig-
norant now— ignorant, indeed, beside him —
but still knowing something that would make
her able to read to him if he liked it, and to
understand if he talked of grave things.

She had no fixed thought of what she would
be to him when she reached him.

She fancied she would wait on him, and tend
him, and make him well, and be caressed by
him, and get all gracious pretty things of leaf
and blossom about him, and kneel at his fect,
and be quite happy if he only touched her now
and then with his lips; — her thoughts went no
further than that; —her love for him was of
that intensity and absorption in which nothing
but itself is remembered.

When a creature loves much, even when it
is as little and as simple a soul as Bébée, the
world and all its people and all its laws and
ways are as naught. They cease to exist; they
are as though they had never been.

Whoever recollects an outside world may
play with passion, or may idle with sentiment,
but does not love.

She did not hear what the villagers said to
her. She did not see the streets of the towns

.as she passed them. She kept herself clean
always, and broke fast now and then by sheer
instinct of habit, nothing more. She had no
perception what she did, except of walking —
walking — walking always, and seeing the white
road go by like pale ribbons unrolled.


242 BEBEE,

She got a dreamy, intense, sleepless light in
her blue eyes that frightened some of those
she passed. They thought she had been fever-
stricken, and was not in her senses.

So she went across the dreary lowlands,
wearing out her little sabots, but not wearing
out her patience and her courage.

She was very dusty and jaded. Her woollen
skirt was stained with weather and torn with
briers. But she had managed always to wash
her cap white in brook water, and she had
managed always to keep her pretty bright curls
soft and silken—for he had liked them so
much, and he would soon draw them through
his hand again. So she told herself a thousand
times to give her strength when the mist would
come over her sight, and the earth would seem
to tremble as. she went. On the fifteenth day
from the night when she had left her hut by
the swans’ water, Bébée saw Paris.

Shining away in the sun; white and gold;
among woods and gardens she saw Paris.

She was so tired—oh, so tired— but she
could not rest now. There were bells ringing
always in her ears, and a heavy pain always in
her head. But what of that?—she was so
near to him.

“Are you ill, you little thing?” a woman.
asked her who was gathering early cherries in
the outskirts of the great city.

Bébée looked at her and smiled: “I do
not know — I am happy.”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 243

And she went onward.

It was evening. The sun had set. She had
not eaten for twenty-four hours. But she
could not pause for anything now. She crossed
the gleaming river, and she heard the cathedral
chimes. Paris in all its glory was about her,
but she took no more note of it than a pigeon
that flies through it intent on reaching home.



No one looked at or stopped her; a little
dusty peasant with a bundle on a stick over her
shoulder.

The click-clack of her wooden shoes on the
hot pavements made none look up; little rus-
tics came up every day like this to make their
fortunes in Paris. Some grew into golden

-painted silken flowers, the convolvuli of their
brief summer days; and some drifted into the
Seine water, rusted, wind-tossed, fallen leaves,
244 BEBEE,

that were wanted of no man. Anyhow it was
so common to see them, pretty but homely
things, with their noisy shoes and their little all
in a bundle, that no one even looked once at
Bébée.

She was not bewildered. As she had gone
through her own city, only thinking of the
roses in her basket and of old Annémie in her
garret, so she went through Paris, only thinking
of him for whose sake she had come thither.

Now that she was really in his home she was
happy,— happy though her head ached with
that dull odd pain, and all the sunny glare went
round and round like a great gilded humming-
top, such as the babies clapped their hands at,
at the Kermesse.

She was happy; she felt sure now that God
would not let him die till she got to him. She
was quite glad that he had left her all that long,
terrible winter, for she had learned so much
and was so much more fitted to be with him.

Weary as she was, and strange as the pain in
her head made her feel, she was happy, very
happy; a warm flush came on her little pale
cheeks as she thought how soon he would kiss
them, her whole body thrilled with the old
sweet nameless joy that she had sickened for in
vain so long.

Though she saw nothing else that was around
her, she saw some little knots of moss-roses that
a girl was selling on the quay, as she used to
sell them in front of the Maison du Roi. She
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 245

had only two sous left, but she stopped and
bought two little rosebuds to take to him. He
had used to care for them so much in the sum-
mer in Brabant,

The girl who sold them told her the way to
the street he lived in; it was not very far off
the quay. She seemed to float on air, to have
wings like the swallows, to hear beautiful music
all around. She felt for her beads, and said
aves of praise. God was so good.

It was quite night when she reached the
street, and sought the number of his house.
She spoke his name softly, and trembling very
much with joy, not with any fear, but it seemed
to her too sacred a thing ever to utter aloud.

An old man looked out of a den by the door,
and told her to go straight up the stairs to the
third floor, and then turn to the right. The old
man chuckled as he glanced after her, and lis-
tened to the wooden shoes pattering wearily up
the broad stone steps.

Bébée climbed them —ten, twenty, thirty,
forty. ‘He must be very poor!” she thought,
“to live so high”; and yet the place was wide
and handsome, and had a look of riches. Her
heart beat so fast, she felt suffocated; her limbs
shook, her eyes had a red blood-like mist float-
ing before them; but she thanked God each
step she climbed; a moment, and she would
look upon the only face she loved.

“ He will be glad; oh, Iam sure he will be
glad!” she said to herself, as a fear that had
246 BEBEE,

never before come near her touched her for a
moment — if he should not care?

But even then, what did it matter? Since
he was ill she should be there to watch him
night and day; and when he was well again, if
he should wish her to go away — one could al-
ways die.

“ But he will be glad —oh, I know he will be
glad!” she said to the rosebuds that she carried
to him. ‘And if God will only let me save his
life, what else do I want more?”

His name was written on a door before her.
The handle of a bell hung down; she pulled it
timidly. The door unclosed; she saw no one,
and went through. There were low lights
burning. There were heavy scents that were
strange to her. There was a fantastic gloom
from old armor, and old weapons, and old
pictures in the dull rich chambers. The sound
of her wooden shoes was lost in the softness
and thickness of the carpets.

It was not the home of a poor man. A
great terror froze her heart, —if she were not
wanted here?

She went quickly through three rooms, see-
ing no one, and at the end of the third there
were folding doors.

“Tt is [—Bébée,” she said. softly, as she
pushed them gently apart; and she held out
the two moss-rosebuds.

Then the words died on her lips, and a great
horror froze her, still and silent, there.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 247

She saw the dusky room as in a dream. She
saw him stretched on the bed, leaning on his
elbow, laughing, and playing cards upon the
lace coverlet. She saw women with loose shin-
ing hair and bare limbs, and rubies and dia-
monds glimmering red and white. She saw
men lying about upon the couch, throwing dice
and drinking and laughing one with another.

Beyond all she saw against the pillows of his
bed a beautiful brown wicked looking thing
like some velvet snake, who leaned over him as
he threw down the painted cards upon the
lace, and who had cast about his throat her
curved bare arm with the great coils of dead
gold all a-glitter on it.

And above it all there were odors of wines
and flowers, clouds of smoke, shouts of laughter,
music of shrill gay voices.

She stood like a frozen creature and saw —
the rosebuds in her hand. Then with a great
piercing cry she let the little roses fall, and
turned and fled. At the sound he looked up
and saw her, and shook his beautiful brown
harlot off him with an oath.

But Bébée flew down through the empty
chambers and the long stairway as a hare flies
from the hounds; her tired feet never paused,
her aching limbs never slackened; she ran on,
and on, and on, into the lighted streets, into
the fresh night air; on, and on, and on, straight
to the river.

From its brink some man’s strength caught
and held her. She struggled with it.
248 BEBEE,

“ Let me die! let me die!” she shrieked to
him, and strained from him to get at the cool
gray silent water that waited for her there.

Then she lost all consciousness, and saw the
stars no more.

When she came back to any sense of life, the
stars were shining still, and the face of Jeannot
was bending over her, wet with tears.

He had followed her to Paris when they had
missed her first, and had come straight by
train to the city, making sure it was thither she
had come, and there had sought her many
days, watching for her by the house of Flamen.

She shuddered away from him as he held
her, and looked at him with blank, tearless
eyes. :

“Do not touch me — take me home.”

That was all she ever said to him. She
never asked him or told him anything. She
never noticed that it was strange that he should
have been here upon the river-bank. He let
her be, and took her silently in the cool night
back by the iron ways to Brabant.
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 249

CHAPTER XXVIII.

SS sat quite still and upright in the wagon,
with the dark lands rushing by her.
She never spoke at all. She had a look that
frightened him upon her face. When he tried
to touch her hand, she shivered away from
him.

The charcoal-burner, hardy and_ strong
among forest-reared men, cowered like a child
in a corner, and covered his eyes and wept.

So the night wore away.

She had no perception of anything that
happened to her until she was led through her-
own little garden in the early day, and her
starling cried to her, ‘Bonjour, Bonjour!”
Even then she only looked about her in a be-
wildered way, and never spoke.

Were the sixteen days a dream?

She did not know.

The women whom Jeannot summoned, his
mother and sisters, and Mére Krebs, and one
or two others, weeping for what had been the
hardness of their hearts against her, undressed
her, and laid her down on her little bed, and
opened the shutters to the radiance of the sun.

She let them do as they liked, only she
250 BEBEE,

seemed neither to hear nor speak, and she
never spoke.

All that Jeannot could tell was that he had
found her in Paris, and had saved her from the
river. ;

The women were sorrowful, and reproached
themselves. Perhaps she had done wrong, but
they had been harsh, and she was so young.

The two little sabots with the holes worn
through the soles touched them; and they ‘
blamed themselves for having shut their hearts
and their doors against her as they saw the
fixed blue eyes, without any light in them, and
the pretty mouth clased close against either
sob or smile.

After all she was Bébée —the little bright
blithe thing that had danced with their chil-
dren, and sung to their singing, and brought
them always the first roses of the year. If she
had been led astray, they should have been
gentler with her.

So they told themselves and each other.

What had she seen in that terrible Paris to
change her like this?—they could not tell.
She never spoke. :

The cock crowed gayly to the sun. The
lamb bleated in the meadow. The bees boomed
among the pear-tree blossoms. The gray lav-
ender blew in the open house door. The green
leaves threw shifting shadows on the floor.

All things were just the same as they had
been the year before, when she had woke to
the joy of being a girl of sixteen.


OR TWO LITTLE WOCDEN SHOVES. 251

But Bébée now lay quite still and silent on
her little bed; as quiet as the waxen Gest that
they laid in the manger at the Nativity.

“Tf she would only speak!” the women and
the children wailed, weeping sorely.

But she never spoke; nor did she seem to
know any one of them. Not even the starling,
as he flew on her pillow and called her.

“Give her rest,” they all said; and one by
one moved away, being poor folk and hard
working, and unable to lose a whole day.

Mére Krebs stayed with her, and Jeannot
sat in the porch where her little spinning-wheel
stood, and rocked himself to and fro; in vain
agony, powerless. ;

He had done all he could, and it was of no
avail. 3

Then people who had loved her, hearing,
came up the green lanes from the city— the
cobbler and the tinman, and the old woman
who sold saints’ pictures by the Broodhuis.
The Varnhart children hung about the garden
wicket, frightened and sobbing. Old Jehan
beat his knees with his hands, and said only
over and over again, ‘“ Another dead — another
dead! —the red mill and I see them all dead!”

The long golden day drifted away, and the
swans swayed to and fro, and the willows grew
silver in the sunshine.

Bébée, only, lay quite still and never spoke.
The starling sat above her head; his wings
drooped, and he was silent too.
252 BEBEE,

Towards sunset Bébée ple eae and.
called aloud: they ran to her.

“Get me a rosebud—one with ne moss
round it,” she said to them.

They went out into the garden, and brought
her one wet with dew.

She kissed it, and laid it in one of her little
wooden shoes that stood upon the bed.

“Send them to him,” she | said wearily ;
‘tell him I walked all the way.”

Then her head drooped; then momentary
consciousness died out: the old dull lifeless
look crept over her face again like
the shadow of death. |

The starling spread his broad
black wings above her head.
She lay quite still once more.
The women left the rosebud
in the wooden shoe, not know-
ing what she meant.

Night fell. Mére Krebs
watched beside her. Jean-
not went down to the
old church to beseech
heaven with all his sim-
ple, ignorant, tortured
soul. The villagers hovered about, talking in
low sad voices, and wondering, and dropping
one by one into their homes. They were sorry,
very sorry; but what could they do?

It was quite night. The lights were put out
in the lane. Jeannot, with Father Francis,








OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 253

prayed before the shrine of the Seven Sorrows.
Mére Krebs slumbered in her rush-bottomed
chair; she was old and worked hard. The
starling was awake.

Bébée rose in her bed, and looked around,
as she had done when she had asked for the
moss-rosebud.

A sense of unutterable universal pain ached
over all her body.

She did not see her little home, its four white
walls, its lattice shining in the moon, its wooden
bowls and plates, its oaken shelf and presses,
its plain familiar things that once had been so
-.dear,— she did not see them; she only saw the
brown woman with her arm about his throat.

She sat up in her bed and slipped her feet
on to the floor; the pretty little rosy feet that
he had used to want to clothe in silken stock-
ings.

Poor little feet! she felt a curious compassion
for them; they had served her so well, and
they were so tired.

She sat up a moment with that curious dull
agony, aching everywhere in body and in brain.
She kissed the rosebud once more and laid it
gently down in the wooden shoe. She did not
see anything that was around her. She felt a
great dulness that closed in on her, a great
weight that was like iron on her head.

She thought she was in the strange, noisy,
cruel city, with the river close to her, and all
her dead dreams drifting down it like murdered
children, whilst that woman kissed him.
254 LEBEE,

She slipped her feet on to the floor, and rose
and stood upright. There was a door open to
the moonlight —the door where she had sat
spinning and singing in a thousand happy
days; the lavender blew; the tall, unbudded
green lilies swayed in the wind; she looked at
them, and knew none of them.

The night air drifted through her linen dress,
and played on her bare arms, and lifted the
curls of her hair; the same air that had played
with her so many times out of mind when she
had been a little tottering thing that measured
its height by the red rosebush. But it brought
her no sense of where she was.

All she saw was the woman who kissed him.

There was the water beyond; the kindly
calm water, all green with the moss and the
nests of the ouzels and the boughs of the hazels
and willows, where the swans were asleep in the
reeds, and the broad lilies spread wide and
cool.

But she did not see any memory in it. She
thought it was the cruel gray river in the strange
white city; and she cried to it; and went out
into the old familiar ways, and knew none of
them; and ran feebly yet fleetly through the
bushes and flowers, looking up once at the
stars with a helpless broken blind look, like a
thing that is dying.

‘He does not want me!” she said to them;
“he does not want me! — other women kiss
him there!”
OR TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES. 258

Then with a low fluttering sound like a bird’s
when its wings are shot, and yet it tries to rise,
she hovered a moment over the water, and
stretched her arms out to it.

“ He does not want me!” she murmured;
“he does not want me—andI am so tired.
Dear God!”

Then she crept down, as a weary child creeps
to its mother, and threw herself forward, and
let the green dark waters take her where they
had found her amidst the lilies, a little laugh-
ing yearling thing.

There she soon lay, quite quiet, with her
face turned to the stars, and the starling poised
above to watch her as she slept.

She had been only Bébée: the ways of God
and man had been too hard for her.

When the messengers of Flamen came that
day, they took him back a dead moss-rose and
a pair of little wooden shoes worn through with
walking.

“One creature loved me once,” he says to
women who wonder why the wooden. shoes are
there.



THE END.
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THE SAME. Large paper Edition. Limited to 250 signed copies.

Printed on Van Gelder hand-made paper, with photogravure

frontispiece from Meissonier’s ‘‘ The Smoker.” One volume,

12mo, uncut edges, net, $3.00.

ie ay fora man, for the man who smokes, is this dainty
book. In size it fits an outside coat pocket; in color ’tis a tobacco-

leaf green; and in price, modest. Even the smoking man who doesn’t
care for poetry, unless he makes it himself, may teel poetically in-

clined, with his pipe beside the fire, and find in this exhaustive ath-
ology some verselet suited to his taste. — Philadelphia Society.

CAP AND GOWN. Some, College Verse. Chosen: by Joseph
LeRoy Harrison. 1 volume, square 16mo, white and gold orna-
mental binding, gilt top, $1.25. Full white morocco, $2.50.

The above book, although one of the daintiest and most artistic
publications which has yet been issued, is something more than an or-

nament. It has a distinct literary flavor and includes the best verse
which has appeared in the leading college journals.

A relief to the reader weary with distilling tears from the alembic
of the contemporaneous muse will be furnished by ‘ Cap and Gown.’
Happy, careless, witty, everything but artificial or doleful are its
moods. — The Chautauguan.

A voiume which is full of happy and exuberant youth. — Chris-

tian Register.

OUT OF THE HEART. Poems for Lovers, Young and Old. Se-
lected by John White Chadwick and Annie Hathaway Chadwick.
1 volume, square 16mo0, $1.25.

FROM QUEEN'S GARDENS. Selected poems of Mrs. Browning,
Jean Ingelow, Adelaide Proctor and others. Edited by RosE
PORTER. 1 volume, square 16mo, $1.25.

THE TWO VOICES. Poems of the mountains and the sea. Edited
-by JOHN WHITE CHADWICK. 1 volume, square 16mo, $1.25.

All in white cloth binding, with fancy paper sides, gilt edges.

Published by JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY,
196 SUMMER STREET, BOSTON.
WORLD CLASSICS.

go

Literary gems of all Times and Countries. It is the purpose of
the publishers to reproduce in English the exquisite little series of
books now in course of publication in Paris, adding from time to time
English, American and foreign classics not included in that collection.
No care or expense will be spared to preserve the charm of the dainty
originals.

The following volumes are now ready:
THE GOLD BUG. By Epcar A. Por. 1 volume.
With a biographical sketch of the author.

PAUL AND VIRGINIA. By BERNARDIN DE ST.
PIERRE. I volume. With a biographical sketch of the
author. ;

WERTHER. By GorErHE. 1 volume. With a biographi-
cal sketch of the author.

ATALA. By CHATEAUBRIAND. 1 volume. With a bio-
graphical sketch of the author.

PETER SCHLEMIHL. By Von Cuamisso. 1 volume.
With a biographical sketch of the author.

MANON LESCAUT. By L’AssBeE PREvosT. With an
introduction by M. F. Sweetser. 2 vols.

JULIET AND ROMEO. From the Italian of Luigi Da
Porto, with an introductory essay by Dr. W. J. Rolfe.

CORSAIR AND LARA. By Lorp Byron, with an in-
troduction by M. F. Sweetser.

L’ARLESIENNE. From the French of Alphonse Daudet,
with a biographical sketch by M. F. Sweetser.

ARMANDE. By Epmonp and JULES DE GONCOURT.
Translated by Alfred E. Haserick and introduction by W.
D. Orcutt.
UNDINE. By FRIEDRICH BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUE.
The entire series as published will be bound in the follow-
ing styles. Size of each volume 32mo (3x 5 inches).

Paper covers, printed in three colors, uncut edges | 3 - $50
Flexible cloth, gilt top, with dainty side and back die, boxed, 75
White cloth and gold, gilt top, with china silk side, boxed? 1.00
Half calf, gilt, gilt top, boxe Cae enurs 2.00

Published by JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY,
198 SUMMER STREET, BOSTON.
GOOD READING.
ae

ON THE POINT. A Summer Idyl.

By NatHan Haske_t DOLE, author of “Not Angels
Quite,” &c. Illustrated. One volume, 16mo. cloth, $1.00.

_A fresh, breezy book, describing a summer’s experience on a
picturesque cape, somewhere between Cape Cod and Mount Desert.

THE SHADOW OF A CRIME.

A Cumbrian Romance by Hatt Cains, author of “The
Manxman,” “‘The Deemster,” etc. With twelve full-page
illustrations in half-tone. One volume, 12mo, cloth, $1.50.
To say that we derive from it much the same quality of literary

pleasure as from Mr. Blackmore’s masterpiece is to pay it a great

compliment, but not on undeserved one. In both we have strong and
simple characters of the primitive heroic type, and Ralph Ray is
grander morally, if not physically, than the hero of ‘Lorna Doone.’

. . . It isa fine story, finely told, full of racy humor, and rising to

true and unaffected pathos.—Saturday Review.

ROMANCE SWITZERLAND.
TEUTONIC SWITZERLAND.

By Wititram D. McCrackan, M. A., author of “The Rise
of the Swiss Republic.” 2 volumes, 32mo, cloth, gilt tops.
per set, $1.50.

The Same.

Illustrated Edition. With twelve photogravure illustrations
of Swiss scenery in each volume. 2 volumes, 32mo, white
cloth and China silk, gilt tops, or green cloth, handsome
gilt sides, gilt tops, per set, $3.00.

' BREAK O’ DAY TALES.
By Frank West RoLiins. 1 volume, 32mo, cloth, tinted
top, 75 cts.

This little volume of short stories is a delightful one. The short
story is the difficult one to tell. Almost any one can tell a long one;
but to say much in little, to give just touch enough so that the reader
will supply the rest, the result being completeness, requires genius.—
Boston Advertiser.

Published by JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY,
196 SUMMER STREET, BOSTON.
— 23H 497