( Originally Published 1911 )
LE CHEVAL BLANC, ANGERS, September 13th.
WE were glad to have our first view of Angers by daylight, as the dark slate roofs and the great black château in the old part of the town, made us understand what Shakespeare meant when he wrote of "black Angiers." The towns, old and new, had their full share of sunshine to-day and of a warmth that would have been oppressive had it not been tempered by a fresh breeze from the River Maine that flows by the château, for here we quitted our Loire, for a while, a river with a distinct individuality which we have come to love like the face of a friend. A little below Angers, the Loire and the Maine unite, and in the land lying between these rivers is the richest agricultural region in all France, its nurseries and kitchen gardens having made a fortune for this little corner of the world.
The town of Angers, which is a place of some consequence, being the capital of the Département de Maine et Loire, is situated upon a height crowned by the slim spires of the Cathedral of St. Maurice. On a first view, we must admit that Angers is disappointingly modern, with its straight, wide boulevards and regular rows of trees; but to-day we have spent most of our time in the old town which has not been despoiled of its ancient charm. And here in this inn, the Cheval Blanc, which has opened its hospitable doors since 1514, we live in an atmosphere of antiquity surrounded by modern comforts. The Rue St. Aubin, upon which our hostel is situated, is so narrow that Lydia says she is tempted to shake hands with the little dressmaker who is sewing away busily at a window across the street, and she doubtless hears everything that we say, and looks politely interested in our remarks although she probably cannot understand a word of English. As we see her there, looking up from her sewing, from time to time, neat and dainty, her black hair dressed to perfection, a pathetic expression in the dark eyes with which she regards us from time to time, we think of Marie Claire, and wonder if this little seamstress has not a story of her own to tell, and one which like the story of that other sewing girl, would touch the heart because of its perfect simplicity.
This hotel is so unpretentious, in its style and furnishings, that we are more than surprised at its comfort. Miss Cassandra says that she has never in her life seen floors scrubbed to such immaculate whiteness, and we know that Quakers know all about cleanliness. The service which the men chambermaids give us is exceptionally good and quite discouraging to Miss Cassandra and myself who have always persistently upheld the superiority of our sex. It is like my uncle's bachelor housekeeping, a little too good to be gratifying to our woman's pride. Everything runs so smoothly here, like magic, under these ministering angels of the male sex, in their white shirts, red waistcoats and green aprons. We really don't know what to call them, although the one who attends to my room informed me quite frankly that he was the femme de chambre. This was, I think, in order to avoid confusion with regard to fees; the double service of waiter and valet de chambre entitling him to a particularly generous douceur.
One expects good meals in all of these French inns, and at the Cheval Blanc they are as good as the best and served in a cool, quiet diningroom, between the front courtyard with its palms and pleasant lounging places and the rear court, around which are the kitchens, the garage and the offices generally. Good as we find the cuisine, what most delights us is the fruit. We have been in great fruit-growing countries before, as at Canterbury, where we had no evidence of the excellence and profusion of the fruit on the table d'hote; but here each meal is crowned with a great dish of plums, peaches, grapes and pears. Beautiful and delicious as they all are, the pears are supreme, as the Italians say, in size and flavor. We are feasting upon fat things in this land of plenty, as we have seen nothing to compare with the fruit of Angiers in Touraine or elsewhere. M. La Tour made no mistake when he conducted us to the Cheval Blanc, where he himself was received with warm friendliness as well as with great respect by the proprietor. Shining in his reflected light, we are treated as if we belonged to the royal family, or to the President's family, which is the popular thing in the France of today. In view of our French friend's many kind attentions and charming good nature, Archie has overcome his racial prejudices sufficiently to say :
"Zelphine, that French friend of yours is really no end of a good fellow."
"Why my friend?" I ask. "M. La Tour is the friend of us all. Walter is devoted to him, and he is Lydia's `Handy Book of Reference,' as you know." This last was distinctly cruel; but Archie, instead of retaliating, answered quite amiably :
"Yes, he is a good fellow, with no superior foreign airs about him."
Walter says that it is only fair that Archie should admit this much of his rival, after carrying Lydia off under his very eyes at Chinon, which, he says, is prophetic of coming events. I must confess that I do not feel as sure of the outcome as Walter. Lydia is the most self-contained young person that I have ever encountered.
By the way, we decided, after our arrival yesterday, that we could not possibly do justice to Angers in the short half day that we had allowed ourselves. We telegraphed to Angela that we really could not meet her in Paris until Wednesday night. Even if the Dudleys leave to-day, she will have only one night by herself, and with her usual good luck she will probably meet some friends in the hotel.
Again we echo the sentiments of Maître François, and saying "There is nothing so dear and precious as time," rejoice in this one long, golden day in Angers. I am writing after our second déjeuner. We have all spent the morning in the most strenuous sightseeing, going to the cathedral first, which is quite near, its apse blocking the street on which the Cheval Blanc stands. From the west front of the cathedral, which is very narrow in proportion to its height, the ground suddenly descends to the river, a long, broad flight of steps taking the place of a street. There are, on the façade, some fine carvings of armed warriors ; but the side walls are flat and plain, solid masonry replacing the flying buttresses which lighten most of the French churches. This last feature we find to be characteristic of Angevin churches, as are two other characteristics which impressed us as we entered the cathedral. One of these is the absence of aisles in the nave, and a consequent sense of light and spaciousness; the other, the small dome-like roof into which the vaulting of each section of the nave rises. There are some curious old tapestries hung on the walls of the nave, a handsome carved pulpit and some fine glass of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the chapel to the left is a Calvary by David d'Angers, a sculptor not without honor in his native town. The chief object of interest in the cathedral is the tomb of King René and his wife, which was discovered beneath the choir only about fifteen years ago.
On our way to the château, on a broad open space at the intersection of two boulevards and in the midst of a treeless expanse, stands a statue of the mild, poetic sovereign of Anjou by David d'Angers. This bronze statue is on a high, light-colored stone foundation, and shows him no more kingly and rather less amiable than history, which has always surrounded René d'Anjou with the sympathetic charm that belongs to a king in exile. Around the base of the monument are smaller statues representing such founders and leaders of his house as Dumnacus, defender of the Angevins, Foulques Nera, Robert the Strong and Henry Plantagenet. Here also are statues of René's two wives, Isabelle de Lorraine and Jeanne de Laval, and of his daughter Margaret, Queen of England. This monument naturally carried our thoughts back to the days when the valor of Anjou's counts, and their connection with the thrones of England and Sicily, gave this land an importance far beyond its natural value.
King René himself, with his three titles, Count of Anjou, King of Sicily and Duke of Provence, seems to have been born to misfortune as the sparks fly upward. Had he been endowed with the spirit and courage of his daughter Margaret, René might have been able to cope with his enemies ; but being of a gentle and reflective nature, he yielded to what he deemed his fate. One possession after another was wrested from him, and he finally retired to Aix in Provence, where he devoted himself to literature and the fine arts, or, as Miss Cassandra expresses it, "He amused himself by writing verses and pottering about his garden. And a very much more respectable way of spending his time, it was, than quarreling with his neighbors, which was the chief occupation of Louis XI and most of the other kings of that period!"
We afterwards saw the noble statue of Margaret of Anjou, a regal figure, wearing the crown and bearing the sceptre of which she was so soon deprived by Edward IV. When she went to England, as the bride of Henry VI, she was received with rejoicings and the Lon-don streets were decorated with the Marguerite flower in her honor. No man, it was said, surpassed Margaret in courage, and no woman in beauty, and it might well be added that none of the princesses who had left France to share the British throne had to endure such misfortunes. Her son was captured and slaughtered under her eyes; then and then only, the strong purpose and high courage, that had sup-ported her during years of adversity, deserted her. She lost heart. After being dragged from prison to prison, Margaret was restored to her country and her family, upon which King René, being more of a poet than a king, wrote a madrigal to celebrate his daughter's sad home coming.
The castle, which is across the way from René's statue, dates back to the twelfth century, when English and French were disputing over the ownership of Anjou. Standing on a hillside above the Maine, this château, with its massive stone walls and heavy drawbridge, suggests brute force more completely than any of the other castles that we have seen. As we passed through the dungeons at Loches, we shuddered at the cruelty which they represent; as we looked at the bare black walls of this castle, we were even more appalled by the dread relentless strength against which enemy after enemy battered himself in vain.
The castle was built on the hill, as it sloped up from the Maine, and originally stood at the lower corner of the city ramparts. Broad quays have taken the place of the outer fortifications on the river bank, and most of the moat has been filled in to make boulevards, but between the quay and the river front of the castle a crumbling mass of crazy old houses still cluster around the castle, as if to remind us of the days when the thick walls behind them meant safety. The seventeen round towers and the battlements have all been torn down, leaving only the slate-built walls, striped near the top with horizontal panels of a lighter stone, and still so high that they look like precipices. We entered by a heavy drawbridge and under a massive arch, and were duly shown around by the guide, a man this time, whom we found far less interesting than the women who have conducted us through most of the other châteaux. He did, however, give us some interesting associations with the Château of Angers, as he reminded us that Henry IV was here in 1598 with la belle Gabrielle, and their little son, "Cesar Monsieur." Henry seems to have come to Angers to reduce Brittany to subjection, and to punish the rebellious Duke de Mercoeur. The latter, however, by a fine stroke of policy, sent his wife and her mother to Angers to make his submission to the King and to propose an alliance between his daughter, who was his sole heiress, and the little Cæsar. An interview with Henry took place here, in the château, we were told. With two noble dames in tears, on their knees before him, and his own fair duchess quite on their side, the King could refuse nothing, and accordingly his son, aged four, was betrothed to Françoise de Lorraine, who was in her sixth year and with no less magnificence than if the little Caesar had been the legitimate heir to the throne of France. Dancing and rejoicing took the place of the fighting and bloodshed to which the old castle had been much more accustomed.
We are glad to turn from the stormy re-vengeful counts of Anjou and kings of England to the reign of Henry of Navarre, that heroic figure whom we still love whatever his short-omings may have been. His faults and failings were those of his time; his virtues, his sense of justice, his large benevolence and de-ire to give every man a chance, and his broad constructive policy, were far in advance of his age. He doubtless inherited his noble traits from his mother, Jeanne D'Albert, while from the less distinguished paternal side may have come the traits that marred the character of the great Huguenot leader.
Miss Cassandra can never quite forgive Henry for his abjuration, and says that to have renounced the religion for which they had both sacrificed so much was unworthy the son of so great a mother. Member of the Peace Society as she is, our Quaker lady will make no excuses for Henry, although M. La Tour insists it was a wise and humane act on the part of the King, as it put an end to the long war that was devastating France, or, to use Henry's own forcible phrasing, "By my faith, I have no wish to reign over a kingdom of dead men." The favorite expletive of the Béarnois, "Ventre Saint Gris," seems to have gone out of favor after he became a Catholic, having fallen into bad repute, as it was considered a Protestant oath. There is little doubt that the traditions of his early years had great influence over him, and that Henry of Navarre was always at heart a Protestant.
Gabrielle d'Estrées, to whom Henry IV was far more devoted and more faithful than to any other woman, had almost unbounded influence over him, which she generally used with wisdom and moderation. Affectionate, intelligent, and good tempered, she seemed an ideal companion for the generous, impetuous and often ill-governed monarch. Henry was himself wont to say that he loved her far more for her noble qualities of mind and heart than for her dazzling beauty. That the King consulted Gabrielle upon more than one occasion is evident, and equally so that she did not hesitate to express her opinion frankly. After the King's famous speech at the Abbey of St. Ouen, when he besought his noble subjects to counsel him and generously invited them to share with him whatever glory should fall to his share, Gabrielle, then Marquise de Monceaux, was present, secluded from the general gaze by a screen or curtain. Later, when questioned by Henry as to how she liked his speech, she replied that she had rarely heard him speak better; but that she was indeed surprised at his asking for counsel and offering to place himself en tutelle in the hands of the assembly.
"Ventre Saint Gris !" exclaimed the Béarnois, "That is true; but as I understand it, in tutelage, with my sword by my side."
Gabrielle's womanly pride was doubtless satisfied with this quick-witted rejoinder of her royal lover, who never seemed to be at a loss for an argument or a bon mot. As Dumas says of his beloved hero, "In default of money, something to which the Béarnois, was accustomed all his life, he was in the habit of paying his debts with that which he never stood in need of borrowing, a ready wit."
The only influence that the great minister Sully feared was that of Gabrielle, whom the King had promised to marry when the tie that bound him to his beautiful, wilful, dissolute cousin, Marguerite of Valois, should be annulled by the Pope. Sully, however, had other ambitions for Henry and for France, as he was already entering into negotiations with the Medici with a view to a marriage with a daughter of their house, which would swell the depleted coffers of France and bring some coveted territory to the kingdom.
Here in the old château at Angers, the scene of Gabrielle's most signal triumph over the favorite minister, during whose absence her son was created Duke of Vendome and affianced to the little heiress of the Duke of Mercoeur, we could not help wondering whether Henry of Navarre's life would not have been very different had he been allowed to marry the woman of his choice. As the daughter of the Baron d'Estrées, and connected with royalty through the Courtenays, it seemed to us that Gabrielle was quite as suitable a consort for the French King as one of the daughters of the Medici who had never brought good fortune to France.
Sully, who evidently thought more of the coffers of the kingdom than of the happiness of the King, was the persistent enemy of Gabrielle from the early days when Henry incurred untold dangers in passing the enemy's lines in order to secure a brief half hour with her, to a later time when as Duchesse de Beaufort she seemed to be perilously near the throne. The tragedy of her sudden death, which has been attributed to poison at the instance of Sully, and the King's agony of grief have added a pathetic interest to the history of Gabrielle d'Estrées, Duchesse de Beaufort.
It should be said; in justice to Sully, that there is no proof that he had anything what-ever to do with the death of the Duchesse de Beaufort; but there is little doubt that the tidings of her death brought relief to his mind, after the first shock was over.
The Château of Angers is bare and unadorned, with nothing to remind us of the ceremonies and festivities that so annoyed Sully in the far away time when Henry of Navarre and the charming Gabrielle held high festival here. After its days of fighting and feasting were well over, the castle was used as a prison. Now, with the thrift for which the French are proverbial, this substantial building is used as a depot for military stores. The only things suggestive of the gentler side of life are the little chapel, and the castle within the castle, a small Renaissance house in which the family of the prince lived in times of siege. The walk around the top of the walls is well worth taking, not only because it intensifies the impression of size and strength, but also be-cause it gives a charming view of the country round about. In front the Maine flows calmly by, to its junction with the Loire three or four miles to the left; across the river there is an old suburb of the town with a few good churches and old houses, and farther upstream near the river's edge, stands what Walter calls "a business-like looking old tower" which he thinks must have guarded a bridge connected with the ramparts. To the right the cathedral looms up, its clumsy base hidden by other buildings and its slender spires dominating the town. Beyond the town stretch rich, green fields, with an occasional old windmill flapping its arms and a slow boat drifting lazily down the river,
Even if Angers has never been one of the most important cities of France, it seems always to have been a place of moderate con-sequence, as it still is. There are a few good private houses dating several centuries back, the most pretentious of these being the Hotel de Pincé, a charming Renaissance building, standing in the heart of the town and now used as a museum of antiquities and objets d'art. There was no guide to tell us the history of this house and the books are equally reticent about its traditions. The Hotel de Pincé looks like a charming miniature château, suggesting Azay-le-Rideau or some of the Renaissance houses in Tours, in its general style, and like them it makes one feel that the builders of those days understood elegance and beauty better than they did comfort and ease. Whatever king or noble or knight-at-arms lived in this house, his women-folk had to drag their brocaded trains up and down steep twisting stone staircases, and also to be content with very little light and air in many of their elegant rooms. The rich Angevin bourgeoisie built these half-timbered houses, which are somewhat like those that one sees so often in Normandy. One of the most elaborate of these is the so-called Maison d'Adam, just behind the cathedral, which, although it does not date back to our first ancestor, is sufficiently ancient in appearance to satisfy our antiquarian tastes. Much of the carving on the uprights is elaborate and effective, even if bearing evidences of frequent restorations. The most noticeable thing about this building is its height, as houses of six stories were not usual in the days of the Renaissance in France.
So little is done for Angers by local guide books that the joy of discovery adds a zest to our pleasure in this old town, and, although Archie is usually the least enthusiastic of sight-seers, he has never been bored once to-day. Perhaps Lydia's presence and delight in it all has something to do with his contented frame of mind. However that may be, he has listened with polite attention to M. La Tour's long disquisitions, architectural as well as historical, and in return has asked him many questions about the products and industries of this prosperous town. It seems that the extensive slate quarries have not only roofed and housed a great part of Angers, but have added considerably to its revenue. Archie is in a merry mood today and after M. La Tour's disquisition upon these extensive slate quarries, he asked Lydia if she did not think that King René must have missed his slate when he was scribbling verses in the south. We all laughed heartily over this very slight bon mot; but our Frenchman looked dreadfully puzzled and asked to have it explained to him. He proved even more difficult than Sydney Smith's Scotchman; or, as Walter expresses it, "It had to be driven in with a sledge hammer," and he warns Archie solemnly to attempt no more pleasantries in the presence of our Gallo-American, guide, philosopher and friend.
On our way back to the Cheval Blanc, we stopped at the Préfecture whose superbly carved arches and columns are said to date back to the Roman occupation. While we were enjoying these noble arches and rich carvings, M. La Tour told us that Julius Cæsar and one hundred thousand of his troops were encamped upon the triangle upon a part of which Angers is now situated. Here they lived for months on the resources of this somewhat restricted area, which does not seem at all wonderful if the soil was cultivated in those days as it is now; and how those soldiers must have enjoyed the rich vintage of Anjou!—to say nothing of the choux-fleurs, artichokes, peas, and the various fruits which are now shipped in carloads to Paris every night.
The idea of a Roman camp in the neighborhood of Angers appealed strongly to our antiquarians, and while we were at luncheon Archie, after politely inquiring what we pro-posed to do with our long afternoon, and finding that we had no plans except to visit some place of interest in the motor car, presented a well arranged programme. What Archie suggested, evidently after collusion with Walter and the chauffeur, was to motor to Nantes, stopping en route at the Roman camp, if indeed its site can be found.
Lydia and I would have shouted for joy had there not been other guests in the salle à manger. As it was we contented ourselves with congratulating Archie upon his fertility of resource, adding that we had been longing to see Nantes, with its fortress-château and the tomb of François, the father of our old friend, Anne de Bretagne.
Upon this Miss Cassandra waked up from a little nap she had been taking between courses, and expressed her delight at the thought of seeing Nantes in whose ancient chateau her favorite Anne was married to Louis XII. "Not," she added, "that I approve of that marriage, it is the one sad blot upon Anne's otherwise fine character that she was willing to marry Louis after he had divorced poor Jeanne.
"I must warn you, before we set forth," said Archie, raising his finger admonishingly, "that this is to be an afternoon in the open; the chauffeur tells me that we shall have barely time to see the surroundings of Nantes, to get a general view of the town, and return to Angers in time for a late dinner."
"Of course we shall stop at the Roman camp," said Lydia, tactfully, looking at Archie as she spoke. "It would never do to miss that, and I plead for twenty minutes or a half hour at the cathedral to see the tomb of François, and the gold box in which the heart of the Duchess Anne was sent back to Brittany."
"You shall have your half hour at the cathedral, Miss Mott," said Archie gallantly, "even if we don't get home 'till morning."
"'Till daylight doth appear," sang Walter as he went out to tell the chauffeur to be ready for an early start.
M. La Tour looked his surprise, he had never seen us in quite so merry a mood. There is something exhilarating in the air here, which is crisp and fresh, almost like that of October at home, and we were further stimulated by the thought of doing something as unexpected as it was delightful.
We set forth promptly, a gay party, the three women folk upon the back seat, M. La Tour and Archie vis à vis, and Walter with the chauffeur in front. A nice intelligent young fellow is this chauffeur, with whom Walter has become so intimate that he seems to be able to converse with him without any apparent language. His name is François and Walter has, in some way, fathomed the secrets of his soul and tells us that he is the fiancé of the pretty black eyed Eloisa who showed us around the château of Langeais. The confidence came about in this wise, François asked us if we had seen Langeais, a very noble château, and did the little gardienne, the pretty, dark-eyed one, take us about? Yes ! that is the one he knows, they both belong to the country around Tours, than which there is nothing finer in the known world. Although living at Blois, for financial reasons, he hopes to go back to that garden spot of France and there to end his days. After which Walter, by means of gestures and signs, extracted the story of his love. We did not feel it incumbent upon us to reveal to François the sad fact that Eloisa was flirting quite openly with one of the red-legged upholders of the military glory of France, when we saw her at Langeais.
"That was doubtless an innocent diversion to which she resorted, in order to pass away the time during her lover's absence," Archie remarked, with a fine touch of sarcasm in his tone, for at this moment Lydia, who is wearing some forget-me-nots that were beside her plate this morning, is having a very animated conversation with M. La Tour.
Lydia is very charming in a blue linen suit, the tang of salt in the air, which is quite evident here, has given her a brilliant color, and every stray lock of her golden brown (hair has curled up into bewildering little ringlets. I don't wonder that Archie resents the forget-me-nots. "Where the deuce does the fellow get them?" he asked me this morning. "François and I have been looking all about the town before breakfast and we can't even find a bunch of pansies."
Pansies would be a good offset to forget-me-nots; but as only sweet peas and roses were to be found, Archie scorned to bestow these which grow in such abundance, and so con-tented himself with a beautiful basket of fruit which we all enjoyed.
I need not tell you, after our experience with Roman camps, that there was little to be seen upon the site of this one of Angers ; but we were interested in the glimpse that we had, in passing through Ancenis, of its ancient château with its tower-flanked doorway, the work of an Angevin architect. Within this château, M. La Tour tells us, an important treaty was signed by François II of Brittany and Louis XI.
As we drew near Nantes the strong salt air blowing in our faces made us realize that we were near the sea. Nantes and St. Nazaire, which is a little north and west of Nantes, are among the great sea ports of the world. And here we find ourselves again in the Dumas country, for it was along the part of the Loire that we have seen today that Fouquet fled pursued relentlessly by Colbert. If only Fouquet could have reached Nantes and his own Belle Ile, out beyond St. Nazaire, a different fate might have been his. We follow again in imagination, with almost breathless interest, that close pursuit, of one boat by the other, until we suddenly find ourselves winding through the streets of a town and know that we are in Queen Anne's city of Nantes, that also of the monk Abelard and of the famous warrior surnamed "Bras de Fer."
Gazing upon the redoubtable Château of Nantes with its six towers, its bastions and its wide and deep moat, into which the sea poured its rising tide twice each day, we could under-stand Henri Quatre saying, as he stood before it, "Ventre Saint Gris ! the Dukes of Brittany were not men to be trifled with!" It was into the dungeon of this château that Fouquet was first thrown, and here Mazarin had Henri de Gondi imprisoned, and from whence, as M. La Tour tells us, he escaped over the side of the Bastion de Mercoeur, by means of a rope smuggled into the prison by his friends. There are no end of interesting associations connected with Nantes, of which not the least important is that Henry of Navarre here signed the Edict of Nantes, the Huguenot charter of liberties.
We needed a full day here, but remembering our promise, we did not even ask whether the château was open to visitors, which was really very good behavior on our part. We turned our faces toward the Cathedral of St. Pierre, and spent there our half hour, no more, no less. Here over the sculptured figure of its patron saint are some lines, in old French, which tell us that this building dates back to the year 1434. The chief treasure of the cathedral is the beautiful tomb of François II, and his wife Marguerite de Foix, the father and mother of the little Duchess Anne, on which the ermine tails are in full feather, if we may so express it, and also the hound and the lion which are symbols of this ancient house. The tomb, which is one of the masterpieces of that good artist, Michel Colombe, was brought here from the old Eglise des Carmes which was pillaged and burned during the Revolution.
Although we reached Angers only in time for a very late dinner, we were inclined to wander again to-night. I don't know just how it came about; Archie was out on the terrace smoking, and when Lydia appeared at the door he threw away his cigar and joined her. As they walked off together, Lydia turned back and said, in her sweet, demure way :
"Dr. Vernon is taking me to see the ruins of the Abbey of Toussaint by moonlight. Why don't you and Mr. Leonard come too?"
"Oh! no, we don't spoil sport; do we, Zelphine" said Walter, "and it seems to me, dear, if my memory does not fail me, that moonlight upon ruins has brought good luck to your matchmaking schemes before this. Do you remember how Angela and the Doctor trotted off to see the ruins at Exeter by moonlight?"
"Yes, of course, how could I forget that evening? Poor dear Angela will be thinking of us and missing us tonight."
"Well, she will only have this one night to miss us and this day in Angers has been worth so much to us."
"We have had many delightful days on this trip ; but this has been one of the most perfect. Why do many of the people, who do the châteaux so conscientiously, skip Angers?"
"I hope that many may continue to skip it," said Walter, "tourists and trippers would ruin this lovely old place and turn this comfortable, homelike Cheval Blanc into a great noisy caravansary. And now that the lov—I mean, now that your brother and Lydia have had a good start of us, let us go to see the ruins of the old Abbey, Zelphine," and then with a mischievous twinkle in his eye :
" Don't you think that Miss Cassandra and M. La Tour could be persuaded to pair off and go with us?"
Miss Cassandra was just then sleeping sweetly in her chair; she does not confess to any fatigue after our long motor trip, but she must be very tired, and M. La Tour is engaged with some friends from Paris. Much as we like him, and indeed no one could help liking him,—for this one evening we are content to dispense with his kind attentions.
The ruins of the Abbey of Toussaint must be interesting at any time, reminding us of those of Nettley and Jumiéges, with their exquisite carved arches and windows all over-grown and draped with vines and shrubbery, but by moonlight, like fair Melrose, they take upon them an added charm. We lingered long before the lovely carved window, through which the moonlight streamed in silvery radiance; but we saw nothing of Archie and Lydia. They had probably gone to take a last look at the Castle of Angers by the light of the moon, and when they returned to the Cheval Blanc Miss Cassandra and I had gone upstairs, feeling that we had indeed had a full day, and that the wanderers would probably be quite as happy without us.