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cannot avoid each other. They would if they could ; preferring the society of brighter and gentler natures, were it only for the pleasure of tormenting them. I have slipped, however, into a stream of talk, which, unlike other streams, will certainly not grow either brighter or gentler the further it runs on.-R.L.'

At noon the Haunted Wood lay bare its charm to the golden prime of an August day. The myriad-leaved underwood, , flecked with too early yellow, veiled as in a light mirage the full glory of the sun. Rushes and sedge, and moss low-lying on the earth, had drunk so deep of sunshine that stalks and leaves burned green as though illumined with an inner fire of life. Sitting in an alcove of wild raspberries, reddening in their own shade of white-lined leaves, and smelling already of raspberry jam—the silence and the sunshine and the ripe fruit called back to mind a certain dear old house of former days. Up the long passages, in those old hot Julys, fragrant whiffs of raspberry jam from the kitchen would sometimes steal right into the wainscotted parlour. Mingling with the smell of sun-warmed fruit thrilled a sense of something sweeter far. An aroma as of white jasmine with ten thousand wild flowers of the woods, the rarest fragrance of the sweetest flower, dear memory's keenest stimulant, the marsh. loving Butterfly Orchis, came wafted from some secret corner of the wild. Yet hardly like the dreamy fragrance of an orchis, it was but a suggested fragrance—a momentary thought-scent such as bracken in the rain gives out, wafted from some woodland far away. A scent that made the faces of long-lost friends shine out of dim mists of other days, and the sound of their voices seem nigh at hand. Once more we had met (in the rain) at the thatched hut—the scene of many a happy meeting-among the firs on St. George's hill, long years ago. The hut looked down a steep fery slope, green just then with the glory of midsummer, sparkling with midsummer rain. There were Adelaide Sartoris, and Browning, and Leighton, and Mrs. Brookfield, with her fair-haired Magdalen, and others; and it was Adelaide led the laughter and the talk. And then she sang a song she loved— The Music of the Sea'-and then she read aloud. William Morris had not at that time very long begun to publish ; and his style was hardly understood. It was one of his slighter poems that was read aloud that day, in Adelaide's usual dramatic manner. The refrain of Two Red Roses across the Moon,' was given with a look and intonation irresistibly funny. And then Browning told story after story. Only one of

pot!'

his stories, trivial as it is, survives after all these years! It was about the deaf old lady's tea-party after a visit to the Zoo. A shy young man next her had to say something into her trumpet. So he said, “Did you see the elephant ?' 'Did I see what ?' ' The elephant! What?' He tried a little louder : The elephant!' 'Oh, the tea-pot!' 'No, the elephant !' The tea

* The elephant!'he shrieked. "The tea-pot?' And so it went on, amid a dead pause round the tea-table, till the miserable youth jumped up and fled the scene. It was the way Browning had of telling a thing that told, and roused the merriment ringing from our hut. And so ran on the stories and the mirth, till the rain had ceased, and the sun broke out, and all the party went out and followed Mrs. Sartoris, while she and Leighton plunged down into the sea of fern-in youth who cares for wet or dry ? And all the company got wet through, and sought the winding homeward paths, and went their ways back to London; and the well-known voices died away. It is the moment to put on the Ring of Secret Thought, when I remember.

All the friends so knit together, I've seen around me fall like leaves in wintry weather; to forget the sun-lit shades, and sweet woodland sounds : to know that the only thing in life worth thinking about is death.'

. Not in the Haunted Wood—it is too freshly new. Not in the little fir-wood, still in its first fragrant youth. Not there, but in some old secluded forest tract, sacred perchance to a great brotherhood of immemorial oak; or in lonely places murmurous with music of the voiceful pine,' where beneath the trees the grass grows smooth and shivers in the wind. There, when long shafts of sunset steal between the trees; and birds are silent; in such an hour, to the inner mind of one who muses there—it may be musing upon the days of his youth, the glad days and the solemn days '—at times will come the sense of some strange spirit crisis, and to him the Present will seem to fail and fall away, while the Past comes back intensely near, lying rolled together, as it were, in a little heap that the hand might gather up. Within the compass of the forest glade, such an one, at such a time, will know the agony of a mysterious influence, the supreme influence of Nature when we are alone with her. Like a dream it holds us, drawing to us from the hard substance of the trees, from rough oak or smooth-rinded beech. In such an

hour the soul will seem to come close to the very outmost gates of being ; so close, it feels their touch-shrinking back from the chill prison of mortality. Hope, love, death, are not; only a burning to be free, so the soul might release herself from mortal sense. The solemn trees stand round-calm, immutable, as for ages they have stood, types of the inexorable.

What are we to them, with all our perishing human love and hate? born to die, while they grow on for ever, calmly growing to decay, selfinvolved in a grand, profound indifference !

Slow, slow, the red-gold sunset illumes each leaf-crowned head, till the sullen passive strength of the great trees seems to pass into a smile ; until, looking upward through green ranks of branch and leaf, there shines at last a little space of tenderest blueabove, immeasurably far. ...

E. V. B.

HOUSEHOLD BUDGETS ABROAD.

III. FRANCE.

BY MISS BETHAM-EDWARDS.

The following figures and calculations have been supplied by experienced French householders. Although a quarter of a century ago I spent an unbroken twelvemonth in Brittany, and since that period have passed a sum-total of many years on French soil, I have always lodged under native roofs and sat down to native boards. Whilst pretty well acquainted with the cost of living among our neighbours, I could not authoritatively parcel out incomes, assigning the approximate sum to each item of domestic expenditure. Friendly co-operation alike from Paris and the provinces has enabled me to prepare these pages. For the convenience of readers I give each set of figures its equivalent in our money. I add that the accompanying data have all reached me within the last few weeks.

We may assume that where English officials, professional, naval and military men and others are in receipt of 5001. or 6001. a year, their French compeers receive or earn deputy's pay, i.e. 9,000 francs, just 3601. ; adding 1,000 francs more we obtain a sum total of 4001. a year.

Such incomes may be regarded as the mean of middle-class salaries and earnings, and whilst salaries and earnings are much lower than in England, living is proportionately dearer. Hence the necessity of strict economy. Very little, if any, margin is left for many extras looked upon by ourselves as necessities of existence. Take, for instance, an extra dear to the British heart, the cult of appearances, Dame Ashfield's ever-recurring solicitude as to Mrs. Grundy's opinion.

So long as reputation, and the toilette, are beyond reproach, a French housewife troubles her head very little about standing well with the world. Feminine jealousy is not aroused by a neighbour's superiority in the matter of furniture, or what is here called style of establishment. The second extra, this an enviable one,

Copyright, 1904, by Miss Betham-Edwards, in the United States of America.

is the indulgence of hospitality. An English family living on 5001. a year spends more on entertaining friends during twelve months than a French family of similar means and size would do in as many years, and for the excellent reason that means are inadequate. Our neighbours are not infrequently misjudged by us here. We are too apt to impute inhospitality to moral rather than material reasons.

We begin, therefore, with the mean—that is to say, incomes of 10,000 francs, i.e. 4001. a year, and of persons resident in Paris. Here is such a budget : parents, two children old enough to attend day-schools or lycées, and a servant making up the household.

£ 8. d. Income

400 0 0 Rent.

60 0 0 Taxes.

7 4 0 Food and vin ordinaire of three adults and two children. 146 0 0 Servant's wages.

16 16 0 Two lycées or day-schools .

32 0 0 Dress of four persons .

60 00 Lights and firing

24 0 0 Total

346 0 0 Balance for doctors' bills, travel, pocket-money, amusements, &c.

54 0 0

.

.

The amount of taxation seems small, but it must be borne in mind that food, clothing, medicines, indeed almost every article we can mention, are taxed in France.

The sum-total of 71. 4s. covers contributions directes, i.e. taxes levied by the State and municipality and quite apart from octroi duties. Rents under 201. in Paris and 81. in the provinces are exempt. Municipal charges are always on the increase. A friend living at Passy informs me that her tiny flat, consisting of two small bedrooms, sitting-room and kitchen, hitherto costing 281. a year, has just been raised to 321., and it is the same with expensive tenements.

The following figures will explain the apparently disproportionate sum-total expended on the table alike in Paris and, as we shall see further on, throughout the provinces. Butter, in what is pre-eminently a butter-making country, costs from 1s. 3d. to 2s.6d. a pound (the French livre of 500 grammes is 1 lb. 3 oz. in excess of our own). Gruyère cheese, another home-product, from 18. to ls. 4d., chickens from 1s. 3d. to 2s. per pound weight, milk VOL. XVII.—NO. 99, N.S.

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