Then, in a spiritless voice, he said, "The bones surrounding the skeleton were those of animals now extinct—animals that existed at a period heretofore supposed to have been before that of man; but by their presence here they prove a contemporary, and we therefore know that he existed at a much earlier age of the world's history than we had imagined. Verney now gave Janet the treasures he had found—some pieces of flint about an inch long, rudely pointed at one end. If your Botticelli is responsible for this, his canvases should be demolished.
Verney laughed; he was at heart, I think, a strong preraphaelite both of the present and the past; but how could he avow it when a reality so charming and at the same time so unlike that type stood beside him? Janet's costumes were not at all preraphaelite; they were American-French. We left the Red Rocks, and went slowly onward along the sea-shore towards home.
ISBN 13: 9781985272040
Miss Elaine, having first taken me aside to ask if I thought it "quite proper," had challenged Inness to a rapid walk, and soon carried him away from us and out of sight. On our way we passed the St. Louis brook, where the laundresses were at work in two rows along the stream, each kneeling at the edge in a broad open basket like a boat, and bending over the low pool, alternately soaping and beating her clothes with a flat wooden mallet.
It was a picturesque sight—the long rows of figures in baskets, the heads decked with bright-colored handkerchiefs. But to a housewifely mind like my own the idea which most forcibly presented itself was the small amount of water. Of a celebrated trout fisherman it was once said that all he required was a little damp spot, and forthwith he caught a trout; and the Mentone laundresses seem to consider that only a little damp spot is needed for their daily labors. But in truth they cannot help themselves; the crying fault of Mentone is the want of water. A spring is more precious than the land itself, and is divided between different proprietors for stated periods of each day.
The poor little rills do a dozen tasks before they reach the laundresses and the beach. The beautiful terrace vegetation which clothes the sides of the mountains is supported by an elaborate and costly system of tanks and watercourses which would dishearten an American proprietor at the outset.
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The Mentone laundresses work for wages which a New World laundress would scorn; but there is one marked difference between them and between all the French and Italian working-people and those of America, and that is that among these foreigners there seems to be not one too poor to have his daily bottle of wine. We saw the necks of these bottles peeping from the rough dinner-baskets of the laundresses, and afterwards from those also of the quarry-men, vine-dressers, olive-pickers, and lemon-gatherers. It was an inexpensive "wine of the country"; still, it was wine.
The sun was now sinking into the water, and exquisite hues were stealing over the soft sea. The picturesque Mediterranean boats with lateen-sails were coming towards home, and one whose little sail was crimson made a lovely picture on the water. At the sea-wall we met Miss Graves gloomily taking a walk, and presently the phaeton with Margaret and Lloyd stopped near us as we stood looking at the hues.
Two ships in the distance sailed first on blue water, then on rose, on lilac, on purple, violet, and gold. Over the sea fell a pink flush, met on the horizon by salmon in a broad band, then next above it amber, then violet edged with rose, and higher still a zone of clear pale green bordered with gold. At the same moment the Red Rocks were flooded with rose light which extended in a lovely flush up the high gray peaks behind far in the sky, lingering there when all the lower splendor was gone, and the sea and shore veiled in dusky twilight gray.
Clary; "and then, too, you can see the Fairy Island. Clary; "it is Fairy-land, the lost Isles of the Blest. After that each morning at breakfast the question always was, who had seen Corsica. And a vast amount of ingenious evasion was displayed in the answers. However, I did see it once.
Catalog Record: Mentone, Cairo and Corfu | HathiTrust Digital Library
It rose from the water on the southeastern horizon, its line of purple mountain-peaks and low shore so distinctly visible that it seemed as if one could take the little boat with the crimson sail and be over there in an hour, although it was ninety miles away; but while I gazed it faded slowly, melted, as it were, into the gold of the awakening day. The weeks passed, and we rode, drove, walked, and climbed hither and thither, looking at the carouba-trees, the stiff pyramidal cypresses, the euphorbias in woody bushes five feet high, the great planes, the grotesque naked figs, the aloes and oleanders growing wild, and the fantastic shapes of the cacti.
We searched for ferns, finding the rusty ceterach, the little trichomanes, and Adiantum nigrum , but especially the exquisite maiden-hair of the delicate variety called Capillus veneris , which fringed every watercourse and bank and rock where there is the least moisture with its lovely green fretwork. There is a phrase current in Mentone and applied to this fern, as well as to the violets which grow wild in rich profusion, starring the ground with their blue; unthinking people say of them that they are "so common they become weeds.
Ivy was everywhere, growing wild, and heather in bloom. Miss Graves was brought almost to tears one day by finding her old friend the wild climbing smilax of Florida on these Mediterranean rocks, and only recovered her self-possession because Lloyd would call it "sarsaparilla," and she felt herself called upon to do battle.
But the profusion of the violets, the pomp of the red anemones, the perfume of the white narcissus, the hyacinths and sweet alyssum, all growing wild, who shall describe them? There were also tulips, orchids, English primroses, and daisies. Even when nothing else could grow there was always the demure rosemary. Of course, too, we made close acquaintance with the olive and lemon, the characteristic trees of Mentone, whose foliage forms its verdure, and whose fruit forms its commerce.
The orange groves were insignificant and the oranges sour compared with those of Florida; but the olive and lemon groves were new to us, and in themselves beautiful and luxuriant. Our hotel stood on the edge of an old olive grove climbing the mountain-side slowly on broad terraces rising endlessly as one looked up. After some weeks' experience we found that we represented collectively various shades of opinion concerning olive groves in general, which may be given as follows:.
Clary: "These old trees are to me so sacred! When I walk under their great branches I always think of the dove bringing the leaf to the ark, of the olive boughs of the entry into Jerusalem, and of the Mount of Olives.
The Professor: "Olives are interesting because their manner of growth allows them to attain an almost indefinite age. The trunk decays and splits, but the bark, which still retains its vigor, grows around the dissevered portions, making, as it were, new trunks of them, although curved and distorted, so that three or four trees seem to be growing from the same root. It is this which gives the tree its characteristic knotted and gnarled appearance.
This species of olive attains a very fine development in the neighborhood of Mentone; there are said to be trees still alive at Cap Martin which were coeval with the Roman Empire. Verney: "The light in an old olive grove is beautiful and peculiar; it is like nothing but itself. It is quite impossible to give on canvas the gray shade of the long aisles without making them dim, and they are not in the least dim.
I have noticed, too, that the sunshine never filters through sufficiently to touch the ground in a glancing beam, or even a single point of yellow light; and yet the leaves are small, and the foliage does not appear thick. Baker: "Olives and olive oil, the groundwork of every good dinner!
I wonder how much a grove would cost?
Mentone, Cairo, and Corfu
Trescott: "How they murmur to us—like doves! My one regret now is that I did not name my child Olive.
She would then have been so Biblical. Inness: "I should think more of the groves if I did not know that they were fertilized with woollen rags, old boots, and bones.
Janet: "The inside tint of the leaves would be lovely for a summer costume. I have never had just that shade.
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Miss Elaine: "It is so jolly, you know, to sit under the trees with one's embroidery, and have some one read aloud—something sweet, like Adelaide Procter. Margaret: "Sitting here is like being in a great cathedral in Lent. And Lloyd, I think, had the best of it. I mean that he knew how to derive the most pleasure from the groves. This English use of "quietly," by-the-way, always amused Margaret and myself greatly.
Lloyd and Verney were constantly suggesting that we should go here or there "quietly," as though otherwise we should be likely to go with banners, trumpets, and drums. The longer one remains in Mentone, the stronger grows attachment to the olive groves. But they do not seem fit places for the young, whose gay voices resound through their gray aisles; neither are they for the old, who need the cheer and warmth of the sun. But they are for the middle-aged, those who are beyond the joys and have not yet reached the peace of life, the poor, unremembered, hard-worked middle-aged.
The olives of Mentone are small, and used only for making oil. We saw them gathered: men were beating the boughs with long poles, while old women and children collected the dark purple berries and placed them in sacks, which the patient donkeys bore to the mill.