« السابقةمتابعة »
living movements, and stirring the human kindness in all eyes that looked on her. When the sunshine grew strong and lasting, so that the buttercups were thick in the meadows, Silas might be seen in the sunny midday or in the late afternoon, strolling out to carry Eppie beyond the stone pits to where the flowers grew, till they reached some favorite bank where he could sit down while Eppie toddled to pluck the flowers and make remarks to the winged things that murmured happily above the bright petals.
By the time Eppie was three years old, she developed a fine capacity for mischief and for devising ingenious ways of being troublesome, which found much exercise not only for Silas's patience but for his watchfulness and penetration.
For example. He had wisely chosen a broad strip of linen as a means of fastening her to his loom when he was busy. It made a broad belt around her waist and was long enough to allow of her reaching her bed, but not long enough for her to attempt any dangerous climbing. One bright summer's morning Silas had been more engrossed than usual in “setting up” a new piece of work, an occasion on which his scissors were in requisition. These scissors had been kept carefully out of Eppie's reach, but the click of them had a peculiar attraction for her ear. Silas had seated himself at his loom, and the noise of weaving had begun; but he had left his scissors on a ledge which Eppie's arm was long enough to reach ; and now, like a small mouse, watching her opportunity, she stole quietly from her corner, secured the scissors and toddled back to the bed again. She had a distinct intention as to the use of the scissors; and having cut the linen strip in a jagged but effectual manner, in two moments she had run out at the open door where the sunshine was inviting her, while poor Silas believed her to be a better child than usual. It was not until he happened to need his scissors that the terrible fact burst upon him: Eppie had run out by herself — had perhaps fallen into the stone pit. Silas, shaken by the worst fear that could have befallen him, rushed out, calling “ Eppie,” and ran eagerly about the uninclosed space exploring the dry cavities into which she might have fallen, and then gazing with questioning dread at the smooth, red surface of the water in the stone pit. The cold drops stood on his brow. How long had she been out? The meadow was searched in vain 1; and he got over the stile into the next field, looking with dying hope toward a small pond which was now reduced to its summer shallowness, so as to leave a wide margin of good adhesive mud. Here, however, sat Eppie, discoursing cheerfully to her own small boot, which she was using as a bucket to convey the water into a deep hoof mark, while her little naked foot was planted comfortably on a cushion of olive-green mud.
Here was clearly a case which demanded severe treatment, but Silas overcome with joy at finding his treasure again could do nothing but snatch her up and cover her with half-sobbing kisses. It was not until he had carried her home and had begun to think of the necessary washing, that he recollected the need that he should punish Eppie and “make her remember.” The idea that she might run away and come to harm, gave him unusual resolution and for the first time he determined to try the coal hole - a small closet near the hearth.
Naughty, naughty Eppie,” he suddenly began, holding her on his knee and pointing to her muddy feet and clothes. “Naughty to cut with the scissors and run away. Eppie must go into the coal hole for being naughty. Daddy must put her in the coal hole.” He half expected that this would be shock enough, and that Eppie would begin to cry. But instead of that she began to shake herself on his knee, as if the proposition opened a pleasing novelty. Seeing that he must proceed to extremities, he put her into the coal hole, and held the door closed with the trembling sense that he was using a strong measure. For a moment there was silence, but then came a little cry “Opy, opy!” and Silas let her out again, saying, “ Now Eppie 'ull never be naughty again, else she must go in the coal hole – a black, naughty place.”
The weaving must stand still a long while this morning, for now Eppie must be washed, and have clean clothes on; but it was to be hoped that this punishment would have a lasting effect, and save time in future. In half an hour she was clean again, and Silas, having turned his back to see what he could do with the linen band, threw it down again, with the reflection that Eppie would be good without fastening for the rest of the morning. He turned round again, and was going to place her in her little chair near the loom, when she peeped out at him with black face and hands again and said, “Eppie in de toal hole !” This total failure of the coal-hole discipline shook Silas's belief in punishment. “She'd take it all for fun," he observed, “ if I didn't hurt her, and that I can't do."
So Eppie was reared without punishment, the burden of her misdeeds being borne by Father Silas. The stone hut was made a soft nest for her, lined with downy patience; and also in the world that lay beyond the stone hut, she knew nothing of frowns and denials.
- GEORGE ELIOT.
THE BELL OF ATRI
At Atri in Abruzzo, a small town
the hill, beneath a blazing sun, And then sat down to rest, as if to say, “ I climb no farther upward, come what may,' The Re Giovanni, now unknown to fame, So many monarchs since have borne the name, Had a great bell hung in the market place Beneath a roof, projecting some small space, By way of shelter from the sun and rain. Then rode he through the streets with all his train, And, with the blast of trumpets loud and long, Made proclamation, that whenever wrong Was done to any man, he should but ring The great bell in the square, and he, the King, Would cause the Syndic to decide thereon. Such was the proclamation of King John.
How swift the happy days in Atri sped,