Studies and Essays: Quality, and Others

Studies and Essays: Quality, and Others

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Excerpt: ...chaff in the chaff-shed is mounting hillock-high; only the little barley stack remains unthreshed. Mrs. George-the-Gaul is standing with a jug to give drink to the tired ones. Some stars are already netted in the branches of the pines; the Guinea-fowl are silent. But still the harmonious thresher hums and showers from three sides the straw, the chaff, the corn; and the men fork, and rake, and cart, and carry, sleep growing in their muscles, silence on their tongues, and the tranquillity of the long day nearly ended in their souls. They will go on till it is quite dark. 1911. THAT OLD-TIME PLACE "Yes, suh-here we are at that old-time place!" And our dark driver drew up his little victoria gently. Through the open doorway, into a dim, cavernous, ruined house of New Orleans we passed. The mildew and dirt, the dark denuded dankness of that old hostel, rotting down with damp and time! And our guide, the tall, thin, grey-haired dame, who came forward with such native ease and moved before us, touching this fungused wall, that rusting stairway, and telling, as it were, no one in her soft, slow speech, things that any one could see-what a strange and fitting figure! Before the smell of the deserted, oozing rooms, before that old creature leading us on and on, negligent of all our questions, and talking to the air, as though we were not, we felt such discomfort that we soon made to go out again into such freshness as there was on that day of dismal heat. Then realising, it seemed, that she was losing us, our old guide turned; for the first time looking in our faces, she smiled, and said in her sweet, weak voice, like the sound from the strings of a spinet long unplayed on: "Don' you wahnd to see the dome-room: an' all the other rooms right here, of this old-time place?" Again those words! We had not the hearts to disappoint her. And as we followed on and on, along the mouldering corridors and rooms where the black peeling papers hung like stalactites, the...

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