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PREPARATIONS FOR WHIT-SUNDAY.
and he told us that our bed-room, which happened to be the largest room in the house, was in the course of things to be turned into a chapel of the Holy Ghost. The morrow being Whit-Sunday, this change was to be made, and in the room below, an entertainment was to be given to his friends, at which he was to preside.
And so ended our trip round Fayal. There is a good deal of sameness in the scenery, which is pretty and pastoral, not bold or grand in the least degree. Perhaps the best scenery in the whole island is between this and Cedros. There is a succession of pleasant valleys, some of them tolerably wooded, and all bearing the marks of good cultivation.
They dance and sing and laugh away their time,
Whit-Sunday at Horta.
- Public feast to the poor.-Crowd in the streets.-The "Cloth Animal" in Horta.- Priest blessing bread.-Distribution of food.
MAY 19, Whit-Sunday.-A day of great festivity in Horta. We were told that the islanders made a vow" long time ago," that if an earthquake which had done great damage, did not recur, they would distribute annually to the poor, for a certain number of years, so much bread, meat, and wine. The earthquake ceased; and the vow has not only been punctually performed by the makers and their descendants; but, when the term expired, it was renewed, and the public distribution of food still continues.
The city from an early hour, was filled with country people and townsfolk, either partakers or spectators of the public feast. In the principal street of the town, a small chapel was set up,a tabernacle of canvass, very much after the fashion of a small theatre in a country fair,— a Richardson's show for instance, with its flaming red and yellow. The chapel was hung with crimson stuff bound with yellow lace, and was lighted by four tapers, standing on a tinsel altar in front of a small silver crucifix; and here a benediction was pronounced on the food. From each corner of the chapel, which filled the body of the street, two rows of tables stretched down each side of the foot-pavement, a distance of five hundred yards. The tables were planks of deal, resting on empty tubs at equal distances asunder. In each tub branches of the common yellow broom were stuck; and the planks, as well as the altar, were afterwards covered with white linen cloths.
The table-cloths having been spread, the ceremony of laying the dinner began. The allowance to each person consisted of five loaves, two pounds of raw beef and a pint of wine, in a bottle of red pottery corked with a bunch of flowers. At the
LAYING THE TABLES.
end of the long line of planks, the loaves, meat, and wine were handed out in basketfuls to about thirty basket-bearers. Each basket had two handles with a man at each handle, who, with large napkins tied round the left arm, marched up the lane between the tables. The bearers were preceded by two musicians, dressed in coarse flowing gowns of whity-brown serge, with belcher handkerchiefs of glazed cotton tied tightly over their heads and hanging down their backs. They much resembled the grotesque calico-dressed men, who are occasionally to be seen carrying broad advertisements through the streets of London. One of these banged a crazy drum, and the other shook the empty hoop of a tambourine. In front of the merry-andrew musicians, or huddled with the procession; a languid, knock-kneed youth, dressed like the two musicians, lounged along with a faded crimson banner, on which a dove was embroidered, to represent the " "Holy Spirit." The three chanted as they walked, in strong nasal tones, approaching almost to a yell ;
"Ass intoned to ass
Harmonic twang! of leather, horn, and brass;
Such as from bellowing lungs the enthusiast blows;
When the basket-bearers were ready," the band" struck up, and the procession proceeded at a leisurely pace to walk up the lane in a column. This was repeated until the whole tables were spread.
In the midst of this scene, it was highly entertaining to see our acting landlord, triton among the minnows. On this occasion, besides a napkin on his arm neatly fringed with lace, he bore a wand of office, in the shape of three feet of sugar-cane, with which he worried all little boys who came within his reach. Did an urchin impertinently peep into the breadbasket, Thomas was ready with his cane,— did a child creep under the tables into holy ground; into the lane set apart for the carriers; Thomas's eyes immediately spied him. He was evidently the great authority on all the little points of Whit-Sunday management. He was at the head of the procession, bustling along with mincing steps, turning back to see that the people followed, perspiring, hallooing to some offender in front, patronizing some inoffensive being in the crowd, or petrifying turbulent boys. When it returned, he was first among the dealers-out of meat, and the distributers of wine;