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bright-green frogs, like sorrel- after flower yielded with graceleaves come alive, and hopping ful, unresentful dignity to its away from you; and sometimes successor, each an emblem of a snake basking its evil but “Joy, whose hand is ever at harmless length on a sandbank his lips, bidding adieu.” First by the little river, which ap small heartsease, creamy, peared and reappeared at all flecked with violet, spread sorts of unexpected places, as it everywhere like foam. Next meandered casually through the came a rosy dawn of raggedforest. And above, among the robin; and, before that had branches, cuckoos called end- exhausted its glories, “ blue lessly, and when twilight stole the flush across,” and
us, the nightingales (who campanula – a low - growing, surely in their hearts must deep-hued sort—was born, while despise the cuckoo's meagre from out of it rose pale heads répertoire) gave concerts, where of meadow - rue dusted with we occupied the best places all ruddy tiplets, which poised and the season through. A long, swayed on slender stalks, like grassy walk, bordered with some sort of huge butterfly fruit-trees, led from the house hovering in the air. Then to a little rustic chapel dedi- came the chicory, its tall stems cated to St Joseph, and built of stiffly beset with little vivid rough-hewn, white birch -logs. blue tassels; and after the Here the best singers of all had middle of June a perfect riot their nests, and made the “long of marguerites made ready in evening-ends” delicious, as they field and lane and wood and answered and outvied one an meadow to take the land by other in joyous rivalry.
storm. In the small fields the maize Sometimes it was difficult not was springing, very lush, and to let oneself believe that the strong and green; potatoes peasants themselves, who delved too ; poppies, cultivated for and weeded those flowery fields, their seeds (used in confection- were not also some kind of ery), a little wheat and rye, gigantic blossom of the soil. and hay which seemed all wild- Many of them, especially the flowers. When one thinks of men and boys, were strikingly the country there, it is not the handsome, with straight feacrops that flash
upon the inward tures, dark eyes, and hair cut eye, it is the wild flowers, which across the forehead and falling inundated the fields like suc on the neck behind, like cessive floods, sweeping every- Velasquez portrait. thing before them. Considered ments they wore, too, were not from the point of view of those only comfortable and sanitary, who looked to the land for but amazingly satisfying to the bread, this effect had its draw- eye. The groundwork, so to backs; but to the irresponsible speak, for both men and women, passer-by it was one of pure was rough, home - spun linen, delight. Flower after flower which lay bleaching in narrow held the fields in thrall, flower lengths beside the river. The
men's trousers were stuffed in general, it is possible he also into high black or yellow might choose to call his article boots, and their shirts were “the most miserable peasantry embroidered on the sleeves in in Europe.” Perhaps opinions blue and red or black, and con differ as to what constitutes fined at the waist by broad misery. It is true these Galician leathern girdles, much orna- peasants have not many
kreutzmented with brass. The women ers to jingle in their red leather wore long garments, like the purses ornamented with tassels men's shirts, coming down to and little brass thimbles, but their ankles, and covered, behind do they require many? They and before, by a pair of vol- have their homesteads nestling uminous aprons, made of a among pear-trees and birches, ruddy, striped woollen stuff, washed a dainty cream or pink more or less brilliant in hue.
or yellow, and with a steep roof Both sexes and all ages, down elaborately thatched in ribs, even to babies in arms, have like corduroy, or jutting out at short, sleeveless, sheepskin coats, the corners, layer beyond layer, usually open in front. The like a succession of frills. They skin side is embroidered in spin their own linen, prepare varying designs, more or less their sheepskins, have a right elaborate, carried out chiefly in to pasture their cow or cows on red wool and green and red the toloka, and live chiefly on leather. When it is fine the the maize which they grow in embroidered side is exposed; their fields, made into porridge when it is wet the woolly one -kolesha—and eaten with milk. appears. These kiptars are very It is true they are not highly light, very warm, and yet, being educated, as the board school sleeveless, they are never stuffy. understands education,
and It is amazing how persistently their opinion on the quantificathey are worn, and it is only tion of the predicate would not in the hottest weather that the be worth having; but their peasants strip them off when hearts are full of that other working in the fields and pilelore which nature teaches in them in a little tawny heap, the fields and woods, and which beside their wąter-bottles and descends like dew from the bundles of maize bread.
mountains and from the stars. The mind of the traveller in Certainly they do not work Galicia is probably prepared by very hard; but if they are convarious magazine articles to tented with what they have, find there “the most miserable why should they? Four men peasantry in Europe.” It is will go out in the morning to always unsafe to generalise, and plough a field, taking with if a Pole on his travels were to them a pair of oxen, or of the find himself in some corners of little horses of the country. A Ireland or of the Scottish High- fifth accompanies them to dislands, and, from what he saw course music on a rustic pipe there, were to describe the con- which Pan himself probably dition of the British peasantry taught his ancestors to make
and play, in case they should copper-tipped minarets, three, weary as the hours go on. In five, or even seven in number, the evening they return to their of the little churches where the kolesha; the field has been
has been peasants pray. Often there is ploughed, and they have spent no road, even no regular path, a happy day. Is not this to them, and the stranger who enough?
has caught a glimpse of the Life is brightened and diversi- church from afar may lose himfied by frequent feast-days. The self many times in fields and peasantry almost all belong to winding ways before he reaches the Reformed Greek Church, the threshold. But familiar which is united with the Catho- tracks lead from thatched huts lic. It observes the same feast through maize patches and over days, with the addition of a great basket palings, and on Sundays many local ones of its own, and and feast-days the grassy, treeobserves them so handsomely shaded God's acre is filled with that the greater feasts extend a (literally) brilliant congregaover at least three days. It tion. The church is set on the seems always to be somebody's grass as on a soft, green carpet ; feast-day, for the Catholic ones no formal path leads even to come first, followed (old style) the principal door. All built of at varying periods of a week to old, old wood, the weather has a fortnight by those of the nursed it to a soft bronze, Greek Church; while the Jews polished it with many touches, dislocate commerce at frequent and dusted it with lichens. intervals, as well as on every The roof juts out, and, beneath Saturday, by shutting the little it, rustic seats run right round booths where they sell every- the outside walls, and by the thing that can be bought in door and hung on the walls withEast Galicia, and devoting them- out are rough but often tender selves strenuously to their pray- and expressive carvings and ers. The doctrine of the Re- pictures, of which the colour is formed Greek is the same as always beautiful.
as always beautiful. Inside there that of the Catholic Church, are seats only for a privibut there are some essential leged few within the altardifferences in its practice. Mass screen. The people stand, exis said in the vernacular, and cept when a wave of prayer the priests not only may but sweeps from the altar, bowing
once, but not them to their knees, as the wind again—as a step to ordination. bows the corn. There are Catholic Churches in The altar-screen is painted all the larger places, but the in gorgeous hues, green and red feeling between the two is cor- and gold; but here again age dial, and the priests freely "ex- mellows everything - age and change pulpits,” as they say at the smoke of many great brown home.
candles, rolled, as if by the Here and there, all over the hand, from lumps of solid beescountry, rising towards heaven wax. The screens are carved with a joyful gleam, are the all over with saints extending
hands of blessing, angels blow- individual but beautiful in ing trumpets with joyful zeal, mass, and very impressive. and “cherubims of glory shad- Two or three women, with owing the mercy - seat.” All heads bound round the church itself are bright aprons, strings of coral crucifixes, pictures, banners, and of beads and medals round and though here and there a their necks, and white emcrude and mechanical note broidered chemisettes under (modern, alas! for the most their sheepskins, collect the part) has crept in, it is lost kreutzers of the congregation. again immediately. The anat- They come round at intervals, omy and the drawing are often in pairs, one woman bearing not of a sort to which criti a lighted candle, the other a cism can for one moment be ap- curious, small, cross - barred, plied, but the colouring, the ex- wooden crucifix, carved in very pression, the devotional feel- flat relief, and a little wooden ing, carry one straight upwards. bowl. Each one collected from · No one seems to know who did kisses the crucifix before casting them; their creators are of his mite into the bowl, and if those who “do their deed and the bearer thinks the donation scorn to blot it with a name,' worthy, the crucifix, as a signal who "follow the gleam in honour, is again offered to his pure simplicity of heart. Great lips. candlesticks of greenish pottery The only blemish on these stand on the altar, and on feast- Greek churches, full of days many of the congregation interest and beauty for those carry lighted candles. It is a whose eyes and hearts are privilege indeed to be given one open to such things, is that to hold at the four principal their doors do not
do not always points of the Mass—the Gospel, stand open; one cannot wander the Offertory, the Elevation, in at will. But it is and the Communion. Gazing difficult to find the into the church from behind brother” who has charge of the altar-screen, it looks like the key. If it be a Sunday
sea of kneeling figures, after Mass is over, he is probgreen branches, starry lights. ably to be found sitting under Often there is a row of little the apple-trees, at the foot of children right up to the altar- the tall crucifix, with most of steps, with coloured handker- the other male inhabitants of chiefs covering their heads, with the village. They are all proud plump hands full of flowers of the church, which is indeed horse-chestnut blossoms, it may the centre of their common be, or sprays of hawthorn.
life, and they rise and stream In some places the women go into it after you, to see what to church on feast - days with effect it may produce on the their heads bound up in white strange pani. They kneel and cloths, as we bind the head of remain kneeling, praying more a corpse.
It has a strange or less audibly, during the visit, effect, not becoming to the but they are not too absorbed
to watch you under their long them in winter; they drink too black lashes, or to rise to kiss much vodki ; they go astray by your hand as you pass out divers paths; but their struggles again.
are with the elemental forces of Near the churches always, nature, the elemental passions and often at special spots along of the human heart, and are not the road, -as at the verge of superinduced by an artificial the toloka, where the ground de- civilisation. And between Arscends almost precipitously and cadia and East Galicia there is the country lies below like a vast one great, one overwhelming picture outspread at the way. difference—there were no Jews farer's feet, are these great in Arcadia. Here they are everycrucifixes, quite unlike any I where, like a blight upon the had seen elsewhere. A tall fair face of the land, like a conslender pole supports a wooden suming canker. One may go framework like a shallow box to Poland with no prepossession set cornerwise upon it, with against the Hebrew—with, on back and sides, but no front. the contrary, high principles on Within this, and by it protec- the subject of all men being ted, is the crucifix, surmounted brothers; but I defy any unpreoften by the Dove, sometimes judiced person to live there a with God the Father over all, week without becoming violently and usually with two little anti-Semitic—without exclaimangels astride upon the arms ing with the Frenchman when of the cross.
At the foot stand reminded that the Jews were the Blessed Virgin and another the Lord's chosen people : saint, and all the symbols of the “Quel drôle de goût!” Passion—the sponge, the nails, One reads of the Polish Jew the scourge, the crown of thorns in
and in novels—of are represented, with a minia- his greasy kaftan; of his dirty ture ladder just at the top of the white stockings; of his sidesupporting pole; while occasion- curls; of his lust of having,ally, perched upon the apex of but he transcends all one's exthe frame, Peter's cock, carved pectations. Any one can tell a half life - size, flaps his wings Jew's house in a moment, partly against the sky. It is all in because it is usually washed wood, painted in brilliant hues, blue, and therefore no peasant which the sun and air soon mel- ever washes his house that low, and, like the carvings on colour, but chiefly because it is the altar - screens, rough, but almost invariably dirty, tumblefull of decision, spirit, devotion. down, and degraded. No fruit
In many respects East Galicia trees shade it, no flowers bloom responds to one's idea of Arcadia. at the door, no kreutzer is But do not suppose that there spent, 'no labour is devoted to are no shadows on the picture, anything that will not yield an —that the peasants are always instant return in hard cash. happy and always good. The The only thing the Jews seem sun scorches them in summer to extravagate in is bedding, and the pitiless cold shrivels and they put outside their doors