ON Shrove Tuesday, February 22, 1887, the inmates of one of the smaller hotels in Bordighera were assembled around the dinner-table, and all discussing the Carnival. It was but the second time that Bordighera. in emulation of her larger and more fashionable neighbor on the Riviera, had had a Carnival, and opinion was deeply divided in the Hôtel Bien-Bâti as to the wisdom of the enterprise and the success which had attended it.

There were two parties in the house, each headed by a retired English officer. At one end of the table sat General Evans, and at the other Colonel Roberts. Each was surrounded by his own friends and partisans as by a staff, the central seats being occupied by neutrals of various nationalities, our two selves among them. We were neutral; that is to say, with regard to the burning Carnival question, and some others of purely local interest. Mental reservations there must be, even among the most affable, where there are Americans, to whom all that is Europe must ever remain in some respects a “show,” and where a buoyant captain in the German army and two highly bred and intensely patriotic French ladies from Strasbourg find themselves face to face.

The Bien-Bâti, however, prided itself above all things on being an English house,—on serving more “teas” than “coffees” in the morning, and no en-trées at dinner ; and the non-Anglican guests were in general somewhat overshadowed. On this occasion, while the thick-skinned and tasteless little oranges of the region were going round at the end of the banquet, the colonel and his party exchanged loud and hilarious reminiscences of the afternoon’s Corso in the village street, and one buxom Berkshire lass, who always held her elbows as though she were sitting a horse, was so carried away by her emotions as rashly to demand of a member of the opposite camp if it had not been " awfully good fun.”

They had but awaited the signal, — they at the other end of the table. The voices of the general and his followers rose in answer, and it was evident that their sentiment was unanimous. “ They had not assisted at the Corso ! They had seen the Carnival at Nice and at Rome, and were blasés therewith. They could not conceive of its being amusing in so small a place, and they fancied Miss Bangs herself must have found it very dusty.”

Miss Bangs blushed a little at the blunder she had committed, but stoutly held her ground.

“ Well, it was dusty, you know,” she acknowledged, “ and I got a lot of those nasty little things they throw about in my eyes; but all the same, it was awfully good fun.”

Even Miss Bangs, however, was a little daunted by the pitying smiles and wagging heads of the general’s party. She said no more, and presently, with the rest of the pleasure-seekers, adjourned from the dinner to the whist table.

The dignified and contemptuous immediately began exchanging comments upon the childish levity of the rest. On Miss Bangs, individually, they seemed, to the neutrals, unnecessarily hard : —

“ Her mother appears a pleasant, ladylike little person. I wonder she allowed it.”

“ She has no control over this girl.” “ They are immensely rich, yon know, but the father manufactured—pins !

“ They say she sits a horse so well! Perhaps she is pinned on.”

The parties were pretty well matched. The colonel was a tall, high-colored officer, with sweeping mustaches and grizzled hair ; much more robust than the quiet general, though they appeared to be near the same age. The colonel had all the youth of the house on his side. His rather girlish second wife, with their twelve-year-old garrison and hotel bred daughter, and Ms own eldest son, a lieutenant on leave, made the nucleus about which had rallied the one newly married pair and the one English lady of title in the house, as also Miss Bangs and her mild little mother.

The general had enrolled under his banner the soft-voiced, lace-capped, High Church maiden ladies, and all the married pairs of middle age whom ill-health or ennui had led southwards. The dignity and savoir faire of the Bien-Bâti were certainly with him, yet he numbered in his well - disciplined ranks one barely willing follower. It was the masterful spirit of her Scotch mother — such a fine old lady from Edinboro’ town — which held Miss MacAlpine to her allegiance, albeit the coquettish lassie’s attraction was not so much to the hostile camp as to that neutral ground aforesaid, whence Captain von Geierstein ever eyed her languishingly, and, blushing high, flung often in her direction a few words in his native tongue. To these, since she could only divine their purport amid the confusion of tongues that reigned in the salle à manger, she answered by soft smiles. We two aliens, who had previously bestowed upon the captain’s love the name of Heather-Bell, were well pleased to see her steal down into the common drawing-room for a few minutes that evening, whereas the general’s party, as a rule, kept strictly to their private sitting-rooms. The captain immediately seated himself at the tuneless piano, and selecting his key and improvising his accompaniment with some skill, he sang two of Schubert’s tenderest songs, for which Miss MacAlpine murmured thanks in quasi-German, which he disclaimed in quasi-English, and they had an earnest little talk, during which each kept heroically to the other’s language, while the all-accomplished Alsatian ladies, Madame la Comtesse and her niece, observed their transparent manœuvres with bright eyes of silent amusement.

The party in the general salon broke up early. The resolute revelers were tired. The dignified abstainers from the frolic, with the one exception mentioned, had not, even looked in, as they sometimes did in passing, to scatter a few gracious words. The High Church ladies were preparing for the early Asli Wednesday service in the little English church, not without certain smothered yearnings in their guileless breasts for the veritable ashes which would be distributed in the old cathedral upon the hill. But nobody surely anticipated so startling a call to prayer and penitence as was reserved for the next day’s dawn.

When the morning slumbers of all were at their deepest, there came a sound as of a hundred reverberating thunderpeals in one: the whole chain of the Maritime Alps, on a spur of which we birds of passage had alighted, began to heave and groan, and our jaunty little hotel reeled to and fro, as though some Titan fiend had it in his clutches, and were shaking it with an inconceivable intensity of murderous personal rage. We two lay wide awake and motionless under the dust of falling plaster and amid the toppling-over of all the small and lightly poised objects about us, and exchanged a single pair of remarks : —

“This is an earthquake.”

“ Yes, a bad one.”

After a seemingly interminable thirty or forty seconds, the groaning grew fainter in the mountains, and the reeling subsided to a slight shiver.

We rose then and looked out; never while life lasts shall I forget the serene and awful beauty of that Ash Wednesday morn. The sky was all suffused with the most delicate and luminous tint of pink ; the wide sea lay beneath it like a sheet of bluish glass, and forth from the silvery billows of the olives that mantle all the hills the red roofs of certain villas on the lower slope peeped reassuringly. The naughty folk at Nice, who were running in night-gowns and mackintoshes for the Paris trains, aver that the sky was on fire, but I am in a position to say that it was no such thing. Whether the beauteous rose tint which I have described, and which certainly appeared exceptional, may have been due to the presence in the atmosphere of unusual exhalations, or to the reflection of the coming sunrise from some widely diffused and impalpable dust, I leave to the men of science to determine in the peace and recueillement of their own studies. The famous M. Pasteur was occupying a villa on the old Roman Road, within a stone’s-throw of the BienBâti, and a long list of questions was made out, during the next twenty-four hours, which a deputation of curious inquirers meant to have submitted to his consideration ; but our zeal was damped by the tidings that he had taken the first practicable train for Marseilles, leaving us and the dogs of Bordighera to our fate.

But now the brief moments of respite, during which we had been able to take in the aspect of the sky, were over, and the convulsion came on again, — a very spasm of the solid globe, this time, horrible to witness and endure. It seemed mercifully brief, lasting only about twelve seconds, and the subterranean groans which accompanied it were fainter than before: but this, alas ! was the shock which wrought the widest destruction, and carried death to hundreds, if not to thousands, in the ill-fated villages beyond us on the western Riviera.

When this, too, was over, and we found that we had still a roof above our heads, we made our toilette, simply, but, as it afterwards appeared by comparison, thoroughly, secured our modest letter of credit, and descended from our ever-memorable second-floor front to the rez-de-chaussée.

Before proceeding to relate how it fared with the garrisons of those two separate camps under the attack of the common enemy, I wish to say a word or two more concerning that sense of something like personal ferocity in the power which had laid hold of us, which I have confessed to receiving from the first and longest of the earthquake shocks. It afterwards appeared that everybody who was cool enough closely to observe his own sensations had experienced much the same thing. One Englishman, who arrived a few days later from stricken Mentone, and who seemed to cherish fresh and tender recollections of his school-days, compared his feelings to those of a boy whom his master seizes and shakes violently, by way of prelude to a flogging. To another occurred the kindred image of the terrier and the rat. A third, of more pastoral proclivities, thought of a slender tree, grasped by the mighty hand of one who would shake off all its fruit. One and all had the sensation of being laid hold of by some ruthless and monstrous individuality, — much like the feeling, I should say, which the insect must have which sees the giant foot descending that is to crush out its little spark of conscious life. Of this first unreasoning and excessively heathenish impression I never was quite able to rid myself. “ Deliver us,” I could have said, on the authority of the Revised Version, “ from the Evil One who has done this thing! ” All through the next three or four days, — days of the most serene and surpassing loveliness, when we used to go out upon the dry hillside, and lie down for a little under the olives, in the hope of catching a few moments of thoroughly sweet and untormented slumber, — I had ever the notion that It was lying under me, with vast limbs gradually relaxing from their awful spasm, and I could have sworn at times that my mossy couch trembled a little, as with the long quiver of a subsiding sigh. It made no difference how high we climbed. Up even to the almost Alpine heights above the olive, where one could take in the whole sweep of that enchanting littoral, from the Estérel to far below Capo San Ampeglio, the same strange fancy pursued us, — that of an immense, unknowable, and malignant power which had made all those miles and miles of sweeping land to flutter like the fold of a banner. I remembered the earthquake which visited Elijah in the desert, in which, it is distinctly asserted, the Lord was not, and I wondered if the next religion preached in the parlors of Boston would be Manichean, and if I should be its prophet. The rumor reached us a few days later that Etna was in active eruption, and the news was thought reassuring. It led us, at all events, to speak of our monster henceforth by the name of Enceladus, and to feel a new sympathy with the pagan Greek.

But we are leaving our fellow-sufferers of the first morning too long in suspense, huddled upon the main stairway and in the entrance-hall. The only perfectly self-possessed man among us, was also, I am pleased to say, our only American. (“ But then,” as the High Church ladies murmured, “ he must have lived a good deal with the English, for he has lost almost all his accent! ”) This gentleman pointed out to us that our house being built in a manner against the hillside, — there were three stories in front and only two behind, — it would inevitably, if dislodged by any succeeding shock, fall forward, and that, therefore, our readiest mode of exit would be by the great door at the back, which opened upon the first landing of the stairs. Here, then, we assembled, some seating themselves passively to wait, and others walking restlessly up and down. The door was thrown wide ; the hands of the round-faced clock above it had stopped at 6.23 Roman time, the moment of the great shock, and the world outside was portentously still. I shall bless the twittering of birds forevermore as a sign of health in nature, for it is a fact that during several hours of that morning, in all the gardens and olive-orchards, ordinarily so vocal, not a note was heard.

Everybody was there, proprietor and servants and the two general officers, each at the head of his detachment. But how changed from the rubicund Hector of the night before was Colonel Roberts ! His fine complexion had now the bluish tinge of a faded peony. His costume, usually worn with military grace, was in the most woful disarray. He had strapped to his shoulder an important-looking black bag, and from that black bag we never saw him parted, until, after many fruitless starts for the disordered and encumbered trains, he finally effected his escape from the Riviera, three days later. I must say that the colonel and his party furnished a notable instance of the responsibility of a commander for the morale of his troops. His wife and daughter “ wambled ” about for hours (Mr. Hardy will forgive me for borrowing that delicious Dorsetshire word on so unusual an occasion), in long fur-lined traveling wraps, with a border of white cotton visible at the feet and wrists. The bride and bridegroom, and even the marchioness, received the contagion, flung their worldly goods wildly into their boxes, and proposed starting severally for Nice, Turin, Geneva, and Paris, — all within a few hours. The bridegroom even went to the station to make arrangements, and we met him coming back. He was usually rather pale ; on this occasion he appeared anæmic. “ I can’t get tickets ! They won’t take luggage! The telegraph poles are down, and nobody knows how had it may have been on both sides of us ! ” (Alas, nobody did then know.) " What shall I do ? ” he cried in culmination, and we were truly sorry for our inability to help him.

Now I am far from believing that all this party were constitutional cowards. The young marchioness, in particular, I take to have been a high-spirited creature, who needed only a decent example for acquitting herself bravely. When I first noticed her, among the group collected upon the stairway on Wednesday morning, I thought I had never seen her look so handsome. She had drawn the hood of her mackintosh half over her head, and it was lined with red silk, which wonderfully became her. Moreover, the light in her eyes was no longer languid, and she had to me the air of one who contends, out of deference to authority, with a secret relish for danger. Beyond this group the panic in the Bien-Bâti did not spread at all, and of these the young lieutenant was the first to pull himself together. He was an ingenuous youth, prompt to confide his emotions, and by the next morning he was heard openly and repeatedly to declare that, By Jove, you know, he meant to go up-stairs and wash his face; and that if there were only a plate of beefsteak and onions to be had in this beastly place, he thought it would quite set him up.

But. between the Wednesday and Thursday mornings a strange day and a strange night were to intervene.

We all, I think, felt a decided preference for the grand air, over any shelter of man’s contriving, during the hours of strong terrestrial agitation which followed that sharp awakening. Shocks of diminishing violence continued to occur at short intervals, and those of us who went down into the lower town saw upon all sides, in fallen roofs, and leaning chimney-stacks, and streets encumbered with bricks, plaster, and other débris, both a measure of what we had ourselves escaped, and a heart-sickening hint of the far greater horrors of Castel Vittoria, Bajardo, and Diano Marina.

The lunch-table was laid that day upon the broad gravel walk behind the mansion; and the repast was a light one, for the cook and all the waiters, except one, were found to be deeply demoralized. Nobody had much appetite, however, not even those whose principles did not require them to faire maigre, and conversation kept strictly to the theme which was destined to absorb it for three entire weeks.

Only old Mrs. MacAlpine attempted a diversion. “ I find it excessively draughty and uncomfortable here,” she said. “ I shall go, at all hazards, to my own room, where you ” — to the one sane waiter — “ may presently bring me an egg which has been boiled for three minutes and a half precisely.” She then rose with real majesty, and, supported by her daughter and Captain von Geierstein, went in-doors, and did not reappear at dinner. She would scarcely have found that repast more cozy than our first al fresco meal; for not only were all the doors thrown wide to facilitate egress, but, by the special desire of one of the elder ladies, a window also was left ajar. " For,” she explained, with much vivacity, to all who had ears to hear, “ our room being on the ground floor, I have been practicing at getting out by the window, — with my husband’s assistance, of course, — and I have acquired so much agility that now, in case of another, I should not dream of escaping in any other way.”

“ I observed her practicing,” said gentle-voiced Miss Rivington to her neighbor. “She is more agile than graceful.”

Miss Rivington was a sensitive little lady of fifty, who softly averred that her nerves were hopelessly upset, but who had replied to a friend who knocked wildly at her door in the excitement of the morning, and adjured her to make haste, ” My dear, I am not dressed.”

On that Wednesday night, however, even Miss Rivington was persuaded to forego the privacy of her own room, nor was it thought wise for any one to sleep on the second and third floors. As the transparent shades of the beautiful spring-like evening began silently to fall, Captain von Geierstein busied himself about organizing a sort of bivouac in the salon and lower corridors. It was droll to see how clearly he recognized his theoretic responsibilities as a squire of dames, and how naively he sought to reconcile these with a careful provision for his own personal safety. “ We shall keep what you call wacht in turn — each two hour — I and the other messieurs. You, ladies, will couch yourself — on mattress, fauteuil, canapé — where you will. You sleep, all, so sweet! Then when comes the first leetle, leetle ” — he illustrated by an expressive movement of both hands — “ we call you qvick, and we all go together out — nicht wahr ? ” He was a good creature, with honest, light blue eyes and elaborate manners. All were not as deeply prepossessed in his favor as Miss MacAlpine, whose masterful mamma required her close attendance in their first-floor salon, but who looked in from time to time, eying our simple arrangements for the night a little wistfully. But all were well disposed toward the chivalrous captain, and even the two Alsatian ladies struggled conscientiously against their deep-seated sense of national antagonism.

Also — you are all right,” the captain said, finding us all installed after a fashion, when lie began his round at about eleven. “ Have no fear, ladies! I have no fear ! My room was very bad hurt — wissen sie ? — a what you call spring all round the wall. Perhaps I have more fear as any one then,” he observed meditatively, “ but now, notting ! Only we will be precautions.” And with a click of his heels and a rectangular bow, he disappeared.

“ He means well,” murmured Miss Rivington, “ but he appears to me nervous.”

“ It is only the English who are truly brave at such times,” whispered an invalid Yorkshire girl, rising feebly, and slowly gathering her shawl about her. “ I am so tired that I must go and lie down on my own bed ; ” and, supported by Miss Rivington, she left the room. Nobody was base enough to remind her of the antics of Colonel Roberts and his party. We all, I think, pitied and loved her for this pathetic little ebullition of curiously inappropriate patriotism. There was no disputing her own high courage, poor girl, — the gentle serenity with which she sat and coughed, and waited. We were moved almost to tears, some of us, by the thought that the worst possibilities of life were beginning to look indifferent to her, and remote.

The colonel and his staff having early ensconced themselves in the best chairs and in the fore-front of the entrance hall, the salon was abandoned, for the time being, to the French and American ladies, and it presently appeared, by their soft and regular breathing, that the former had fallen quietly asleep.

When we had all been fully awakened, about an hour later, by one of the heavier of the small shocks experienced that night, we took occasion to congratulate them on their sang froid.

“ Oh,” said Madame la Comtesse, with her steadfast smile, “ nous y sommes tellement habituées. We spent so many nights like this in Strasbourg, fifteen years ago ! In the salon, if the bombardment were light; in the cellars, if it were heavy.” Then she and mademoiselle began to confide in their measured and polished tones, resolutely subdued, moreover, that the captain might not overhear, a whole world of poignant memories of the war and the siege and the German occupation. They spoke of Alsace, as it was, and as it is, with a thrilling intensity of patriotic passion and grief ; of the arch-usurper and tyrant at Berlin in words that were like coals of fire ; and their curt prophecies concerning the result of the elections then going on were curiously verified on the morrow.

“Ah, voila!” said madame, cutting her tale suddenly short, and drawing a somewhat deeper breath as another prolonged shiver ran through the house, making glass rattle and plaster fall; and the next moment there arose a great hubbub in the hall, the huge outer door opened and then shut violently, and the American and the German reappeared among us.

“ They ’re all gone out to sleep under the olives,” observed our countryman laconically.

“ Whom do you mean ? ” inquired his pretty little wife, who had just soothed off to sleep again two babies, lying side by side on a mattress in the smokingroom.

“ Colonel Roberts and family, the honeymooners, the marchioness, and Miss Bangs.”

“ Eh bien,” observed Madame la Comtesse archly, “ pour des gens qui n’ont jamais peur ” — and she completed her sentence by an expressive little moue.

“ It strikes me,” pursued the American, “ that it takes a lot more courage to go out than to stay in. I have n’t any particular use for these earthquakes, if you ’ll excuse the slang ; but there’s no doubt whatever about the rheumatism that awaits one out there.”

So we chatted or dozed the time away, till the stars faded, and the great dawn came again rosy and clear.

The party who had taken refuge under the olives looked cold when they came in, and were undeniably sulky. They took their coffee — welcome coffee ! — in a corner by themselves, and discussed in undertones the feasibility of various routes to widely distant points of probable safety.

Very soon the particulars began to come in of the stampede from Nice and the heart-rending disasters along the lower coast. Captain von Geierstein scouted untiringly for information, which he retailed with much gusto in his own distinctly precious polyglot.

“ At Nizza it was panic ! Toll! mad! They rush from their beds and from the bal masqué. Likewise many red devils. But harm ? Notting, notting ! Only two wives of the good people killed, and a countess blessed.”

Happily, even this brief list of casualties was afterwards reduced one half, one poor schoolmistress remaining the only victim, while the “ blessed ” countess enjoyed an almost solitary distinction.

That night Colonel Roberts ordered mattresses laid in the corridor for himself and his party, as soon as dinner was over. The rest of us went, with what confidence we could command, to our beds, and on the Friday morning descended, to find the hall heaped high with luggage, and the colonel and the bridegroom paying their bills.

The former approached us with a rather unsuccessful resumption of his old stately bow. “ We’re going, you see! I should not have minded for myself, but I have to be careful of my wife, who has lately had brain fever.” He held out his hand in farewell, and as he turned away the bridegroom joined us. “ We are leaving to-day,” he murmured. “We don’t yet know quite where we shall go, but I must be off, for I can’t allow my wife to get over-excited. She had a brain fever last year.” And he too made his adieux.

Miss Bangs and her mother next appeared. “ And do you go also ? ” we asked.

“ Oh, yes,” replied the Amazon cheerfully. “ What would be the use of staying ? Mamma thinks I ought to sleep in the room with her, and I can’t do that, you know. I get such an awful funk directly I go up-stairs.”

We watched the seceders drive away, and when they were hidden from view by one of the sharp turns of the avenue an Englishwoman spoke : —

“ I am glad to see the last of them ! I was never so humiliated in my life.”

“ The colonel has certainly shown the white feather,” some one admitted.

“ From first to last! When,” said Miss Rivington, her refined and slightly tremulous tones making themselves well heard, “ I went up to my room last night, I gave one look down the corridor, and the men were all installed on the outside, I mean nearest the exit. I said to myself then that if any fresh alarm occurred, I would certainly wait until the colonel was out of the house.”

“ But now,” said the sprightly lady who had made herself so proficient in gymnastic exercises, “ now that Etna is in eruption, we may surely consider ourselves safe, — don’t you think so ? ”

She had appealed to our compatriot, who answered slowly, in his mildest voice, “ I don’t know much about it, madam, — hardly more than the savans. But my impression would be, to judge by the force liberated, that it would require an Etna every ten miles along the coast, like a line of chimneys, to afford any sensible relief.”

On the Friday morning, also, there arrived among us a young Englishman who had come through direct from London, undeterred by the first wild telegrams. He gave a dramatic account of the distracted flock of fugitives from Nice, whom he had met at the Paris station.

“ And is it true,” inquired the sprightly lady, “ that they escaped — some of them — just as they were, you know, without hats or bonnets ?

“ I would not undertake to describe the costumes I saw,” replied the newcomer, unable to repress a chuckle at the remembrance, “ but, in a general way, you may believe, everything you hear. The officials,” he added, " appeared to respect me immensely for my pluck in coming this way. They told me how next to impossible it had been to provide places for all that rabble. ‘ And Paris does not content them, monsieur,’ they said, ' ces gens effarés; ils soupirent apres Londres ! ’ ”

By this time, too, the High Church ladies were beginning to busy themselves about deeds of mercy among the sufferers, many of whom, for all we were held to have gotten off so easily at Bordighera, were found in our immediate neighborhood. All honor to these prompt and practical zealots, and a tender indulgence for their lightest fad henceforth! “The root of the matter,” in the terse old Bible phrase, is assuredly “ in them.” They are instantly at home in scenes of danger and calamity ; the first to devise relief for suffering, the last to quit the scene of it; acknowledging and obeying without hesitation some very special and imperious call to the succor of the distressed. They gave their money freely, — those who had it. They gave themselves without any stint. Food and shelter were, of course, the first requisites for the affrighted remnant of the population, in the gray little mountain towns beyond San Remo, four or five of which had been virtually destroyed. But it soon appeared that they needed clothing also, and who so cold and skeptical as not to lend a hand and a needle, when our ladies came in, laden with unsewn garments of every shape and size and hue ?

We were all glad of this new occupation. It helped to divert our minds and steady our nerves, still kept uncomfortably ajar by the slight supplementary seosse that gamboled along the earth’s crust at brief intervals for many succeeding days. Our charity, if it deserve the name, was emphatically of the kind which begins at home, and is at least an incontestable benefit to the would-be charitable.

A word in passing concerning those after-shocks which are, I believe, an unfailing consequence or concomitant of such an upheaval as that of February 23d. They were insignificant enough, individually, but they ended, as I have said, by becoming very wearing to the nerves, — particularly the nocturnal ones. To lie awake and wait for them was weariful in the extreme ; to be roused from slumber by them was even worse, reviving, as they did, for one moment, all the emotions of the first frightful onset. There is a comfortable theory abroad that these light supplementary shocks are altogether salutary ; indicating a sort of settlement into place of rudely disturbed particles, and showing that the agitated earth is recovering her equilibrium. Possibly it is so, but the immediate effect of these terrestrial ague-fits is to undermine yet further one’s already shaken faith in the rerum natura.

Moreover, these gentle shocks are of many different kinds, and there were some of us who quite became connoisseurs therein, and learned to draw very nice distinctions. Often the effect was as if the rocky foundations of our dwelling had received one sharp blow from a sort of Thor’s hammer, which set the windowpanes rattling for an instant, and then was over. At other times we could distinctly hear something like a faint echo of the first ferocious subterranean growl, and we experienced a peculiarly sickening sensation of circular motion, as if some liquid mass, leagues under our feet, were being slowly stirred.

But to return to our philanthropic dress-making. However busy our fingers might be, no power, it appeared, was competent to divert conversation from the one inevitably harrowing theme. Some lady proposed that every one who pronounced the word “ shock ” should be fined a big sou, — she probably called it a penny, — for the benefit of the sufferers. Another suggested that one of the gentlemen might read aloud to us while we stitched, and she ventured to add a plea for something light and entertaining.

“ Ah,” said another, whose nationality I will not name, “ what a pity that I threw away the book I was reading in the train the day I came! It was very amusing, — very amusing indeed, you know. It was by one of those droll Americans whom everybody reads just now. It was about two ladies who were cast away upon an island: Mrs. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde, I think, were their names.”

The Alsatiennes were not so ready with their needles as even the highborn dames of Anglo-Saxon descent; but they were lavish of a peculiarly warm and tactful personal sympathy for the sufferers. With them — for they were brave walkers — we visited, during the week, almost all the little hillside villages within a radius of five or six miles. We saw with our own eyes the mischief which one mysterious minute had wrought, and we talked much with the country people. They are a lovable folk, these Ligurians, — honest and simple, and often extremely intelligent, with mild and affable manners. They were very glad to see us, and to compare experiences with the forestiere.

That the scourge which had visited us all was no new thing, in these parts, was abundantly proved by the very structure of the villages. The dark stone houses were, braced one against another, as every traveler has seen them across the narrow streets of San Remo, by constructions like the arches of a flying buttress. The ways corresponding to streets were often entirely overarched with stone. Only the little piazza where the church held the heart of the town was fully open to the sky.

All the people were still camping outof-doors, and smilingly pointed out their tents and mattresses and bright-hued bed-coverings under the olives, and their more or less ingenious contrivances for protection against the night air. They were invariably collected and cheerful. Nobody begged of us, on the score of the disaster, like some few of the professionals in the lower town. Happily, there were none dead and few seriously wounded in the little hill-hamlets nearest Bordighera, and the greater number even of the rent and damaged houses were believed to be capable of repair. But it seemed, the people said, better to run no risk, until the commissioners had come and inspected them. It had been terrible indeed, but ah, how much more terrible elsewhere ! (God rest the souls of the dead !) And it was tncommodo, doubtless, to be sleeping out-of-doors. “ Ma— ci vuol pazienza ! ”

The everlasting old Italian refrain had a certain sublimity, as we heard it here from the lips of these brave peasants, and thought of the scenes which had been enacted by their so-called betters elsewhere. It seemed as though these hill-folk, in their simplicity and isolation, had laid hold of the one sound and satisfying philosophy of life; accepting their earthly lot humbly, yet in no wise mournfully, as a school of suffering where each must learn his lesson and bear his part, and where the temporary ease of one must needs be purchased by the redoubled anguish of another.

We found the same fine temper and unaffected resignation among the people upon the saddest of all our roving days, when we ascended a valley half-way between Bordighera and San Remo. Many an opulent and lazy traveler by the old Corniohe road must, I think, remember La Colla, to which a cardinal who loved his obscure birthplace once bequeathed a gallery of valuable paintings ; a peculiarly hoary old village, encircling one of the steepest heights above Ospedaletti like a sort of mural crown. The gorge commanded by La Colla possesses a climate of its own, far softer than that of Bordighera ; and we mounted by an easy mule-path, between lemon-plantations laden with fruit and peach-orchards ha the full perfection of their blushing bloom. A clear little mountain stream dashed down, from ledge to ledge, to meet us, and from the ancient single-arched bridges that spanned it, from turn to turn, we discerned ever broader and broader plains of the peerless Mediterranean. No way could have been fairer or more flattering to the foot, — and it led us to the dead body of a village, violently slain !

Not the inhabitants, thank God! Those dwellers in tents, within sight of their desolated homes, came forth to tell us of the miracle by which their lives had been spared ; and indeed it seemed no less ; for within the town proper not a single house was habitable, and hardly one, we were told on the authority of the commission, was even reparable. A terrible fascination drew us in, and led us on through the entire length of the strange old town. Here we saw, for the first time, the connecting arches above the narrow streets rent asunder, and hanging in rags of masonry from the leaning, bulging walls. The ways were heaped with bricks, mortar, and other rubbish, and we were anxiously admonished to tread softly and speak low. Ten seconds had done the work of ten centuries in La Colla. where, we were afterward informed, the commission shrank even from beginning the work of demolition, lest the whole interlaced mass of ruined and toppling dwellings should come crashing down together.

Of the fate of the cardinal’s pictures we heard nothing. The man who had undertaken to guide us about the crumbling town observed quietly that he was ruined. He had had five hundred francs’ worth of oil stored in his cellar, for the olive-harvest of last year was exceptionally rich, and of course it was all gone. “ Ma — c’e una Providenza ! ”

“ Speriamo ! ” we answered, and for the moment we could say no more. Our hearts were terribly full. Mine, I know, was crying out wildly and almost angrily to know why this had been, and the glorious vision of waters far beneath our feet had but recalled to my memory a fragment of one of Fitzgerald’s most despairing quatrains : —

“ Earth cannot answer, nor the seas that mourn
In flowing purple, of their Lord forlorn.”

Equally strong, but far less painful, was the impression which we received upon another day from an old peasant who met us in the very loneliest portion of our long mountain walk. We were well out of the olive-belt on this occasion, and had come where the rough and strangely tilted strata of the rock thrust themselves sharply out above our narrow footway, and the long slopes were beautiful with the warm and velvety green of the Italian pine. He came hurrying down to meet us from the stony little patch of ground that he was tilling, this eager, bright old man. He wished us good-day, and then respectfully signified his strong desire to have a few words with us about the terremoto.

He had seen so few human beings in these strange days, and had had so many thoughts! Did we think it was over ? But that, he knew, was a foolish question. Only God could tell. Undoubtedly, he thought, it was God who had done it, and we must not tease him to know if it were finito. He knew best. Those poor, poor folk who were crushed at Bajardo! Ah, yes ; but they had been in the church, which would make all right. He, too, had been at church, he said, at the moment we all remembered so well. It was Mercoledi di Cenere, and he had confessed himself like those others, and they had been taken, and he left. It was very strange, but God had evidently wished it. So, did we not think, with him, that the thing most needed was pazienza ? Certainly, he added, there was a man in the town who did not believe that God had done it at all, but simply that something had burst underground. Ah, well, he had not himself been to school, like “ quel Protestante,” but he thought he knew. He did not quite like, perhaps, to see a roof above him, and think of the Bajardo church, but out here, upon the hillside, who could have fear ?

He had bared his head, — out of reverence for us, — the fresh breeze lifted his whitening hair; he turned his eyes confidingly upward to the unfathomable blue, and we, I think, let ours fall for a moment, and were rather ashamed of our Manicheism.

After all, there had once been a way, in the world, of regarding the dread phenomena of nature (and our poor friends had somehow caught the spirit of it), — a broader and profounder way, it might seem to some, even than that of the Greek; no less keenly cognizant of fact than the Hellenic scheme, but how much richer in transcendent and mystical suggestion !

“ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

“ Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

“ Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

“There is a river, the stream whereof shall make glad the city of God.”

Our friend seemed rather loath to let us go, and waylaid us with benedictions when we came down the mountain. We turned, after our last addio, and saw the hale old figure relieved against the luminous azure, and some one spoke of its looking, in the large landscape, so profoundly solitary.

“ No, no, ” said Madame la Comtesse, quickly, “ we do not leave him alone. We leave him with God and his thoughts. Il n’est pas trop à plaindre.”

Our compatriot met us on our return, and imparted, with a whimsical smile, the baffling intelligence that Etna and Vesuvius were alike quiescent, so that we were forced to think of Enceladus, at least, as tossing unrelieved in the furnace of his pain.