Don’t think I am going to let you off from my usual monthly grumble about the weather. Not a bit of it! It is worse than ever. At this moment a violent and bitterly cold gale of wind is blowing, and I hear the red tiles flying off the house, which I fully expect will be a regular sieve by the time the rains come. Not one drop of rain have we had these six weeks, and people remark that “the dry season is beginning.” Everything smells and tastes of dust—one’s clothes, the furniture, everything. If I sit down in an arm-chair, I disturb a cloud of dust; my pillow is, I am convinced, stuffed with it; my writing-table is inches deep in it. All the food is flavored with it, and Don Quixote’s enemies could not more persistently “bite the dust” than we do at each meal. Yet when I venture to mention this drawback in answer to the usual question, “Is not this delicious weather?” the answer is always, “Oh, but you can have no dust here: you should see what it is in town!” Between us and the town is an ever-flying scud of dust, through which we can but ill discern the wagons. I wonder there are no accidents, for one often hears a wagon before and behind one when it is impossible to see anything through the choking, suffocating cloud around one. Of a still day, when you carry your own dust quietly along with you, there is nothing for it except to stop at home if you wish to keep your temper. The other day little G—— was about to suffer the extreme penalty of the domestic law for flagrant disobedience, and he remarked dryly to the reluctant executioner, “You had better take care: I am very dusty.” It was quite true, for the slipper elicited such clouds of dust from the little blue serge suit that the chastisement had to be curtailed, much to the culprit’s satisfaction. As for the baby, he was discovered the other day taking a dust-bath exactly like the chickens, and considered it very hard to be stopped in his amusement. Every now and then we have a dust-storm: there have been two this month already, perfect hurricanes of cold wind driving the dust in solid sheets before them. Nearer the coast these storms have been followed by welcome rain, but here we are still dry and parched. The only water-supply we (speaking individually) have is brought in buckets from the river, about half a mile off, and one has to wash in it and drink it with closed eyes. But it cannot be unwholesome, thank Heaven! for most of us take nothing else and are very well. I owe it a grudge, however, on account of its extraordinary hardness. Not only does it spoil the flavor of my beloved tea, but it chaps our skins frightfully; and what with the dust in the pores, and the chronic irritation caused by some strange peculiarity in the climate, we are all like nutmeg-graters, and one can understand the common-sense of a Kafir’s toilette, into which grease enters largely. Yet in spite of dust and dryness—for everything is ludicrously dry, sugar and salt are so many solid cakes, not to be dealt with by means of a spoon at all—one is very thankful for the cold, bracing weather, and unless there is a necessity for fronting the dust, we contrive to enjoy many of the pleasant sunshiny hours in the verandah; and I rejoice to see the roses blooming again in the children’s cheeks. Every evening we have a wood-fire on the open hearth in the drawing-room, and there have been sharp frosts lately. The waving tips of the poor bamboos look sadly yellow, but I have two fine flourishing young camellias out of doors without shelter of any kind, and my supply of roses has never failed from those trees which get regularly watered. The foliage, too, of the geraniums is as luxuriant as ever, though each leaf is white with dust, but the first shower will make them lovely once more.
Never have I seen a more noble tragic face. In the centre of the forehead there was a great furrow of care, towards which the brows rose piteously. What a deep solemn grief in the eyes! They looked blankly at the object before them, but through it, as it were, and into the grief beyond. In moments of pain, have you not looked at some indifferent object so? It mingles dumbly with your grief, and remains afterwards connected with it in your mind. It may be some indifferent thing — a book which you were reading at the time when you received her farewell letter (how well you remember the paragraph afterwards — the shape of the words, and their position on the page); the words you were writing when your mother came in, and said it was all over — she was MARRIED— Emily married — to that insignificant little rival at whom you have laughed a hundred times in her company. Well, well; my friend and reader, whoe’er you be — old man or young, wife or maiden — you have had your grief-pang. Boy, you have lain awake the first night at school, and thought of home. Worse still, man, you have parted from the dear ones with bursting heart: and, lonely boy, recall the bolstering an unfeeling comrade gave you; and, lonely man, just torn from your children — their little tokens of affection yet in your pocket — pacing the deck at evening in the midst of the roaring ocean, you can remember how you were told that supper was ready, and how you went down to the cabin and had brandy-and-water and biscuit. You remember the taste of them. Yes; for ever. You took them whilst you and your Grief were sitting together, and your Grief clutched you round the soul. Serpent, how you have writhed round me, and bitten me. Remorse, Remembrance, &c., come in the night season, and I feel you gnawing, gnawing! . . . I tell you that man’s face was like Laocoon’s (which, by the way, I always think over-rated. The real head is at Brussels, at the Duke Daremberg’s, not at Rome).详情 ➢
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