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oblivious of the odd angle his plump person makes, quite unconscious of the threatened crack-crash! It does not happen. A sort of magnetism sticks it together; it is in the air; it makes things go right that ought to go wrong. Awfully naughty place; no sort of idea of rightness here. Humming and strumming, and singing and smoking, splashing, and sparkling; a buzz of voices and booming of sea! If they could only be happy like this always!
Mamma has a tremendous fight over the bathingdresses, her own, of course; the bathing woman cannot find them, and denies that she had them, and by-and-by, after half an hour's exploration, finds them all right, and claims commendation for having put them away so safely. Then there is the battle for a machine. The nurse has been keeping guard on the steps, to seize it the instant the occupant comes out. At last they get it, and the wonder is how they pack themselves in it. Boom! The bathers have gone over again, I know. The rope stretches as the men at the capstan go round, and heave up the machines one by one before the devouring tide.
As it is not at all rude, but the proper thing to do, I thought I would venture a little nearer (not too obtrusively near) and see closer at hand how brave womanhood faced the rollers. There was a young girl lying at full length at the edge of the foam. She reclined parallel to the beach, not with her feet towards the sea, but so that it came to her side. She was clad in some material of a gauzy and yet opaque texture, permitting the full outline and the least movement to be seen. The colour I do not exactly know
how to name; they could tell you at the Magasin du Louvre, where men understand the hues of garments as well as women. I presume it was one of the many tints that are called at large "creamy." It suited her perfectly. Her complexion was in the faintest degree swarthy, and yet not in the least like what a lady would associate with that word. The difficulty in describing a colour is that different people take different views of the terms employed; ladies have one scale founded a good deal on dress, men another, and painters have a special (and accurate) gamut which they use in the studio. This was a clear swarthiness-a translucent swarthiness-clear as the most delicate white. There was something in the hue of her neck as freely shown by the loose bathing dress, of her bare arms and feet, somewhat recalling to mind the kind of beauty attributed to the Queen of Egypt. But it was more delicate. Her form was almost fully developed, more so than usual at her age. Again and again the foam rushed up deep enough to cover her limbs, but not sufficiently so to hide her chest, as she was partly raised on one arm. Washed thus with the purest whiteness of the sparkling foam, her beauty gathered increase from the touch of the sea. She swayed slightly as the water reached her, she was luxuriously recked to and fro. The waves toyed with her; they came and retired, happy in her presence; the breeze and the sunshine were there.
Standing somewhat back, the machines hid the waves from me till they reached the shore, so that I did not observe the heavy roller till it came and
broke. A ton of water fell on her, crush!
of the wave curled and dropped over her, the arch bowed itself above her, the keystone of the wave fell in. She was under the surge while it rushed up and while it rushed back; it carried her up to the steps of the machine and back again to her original position. When it subsided she simply shook her head, raised herself on one arm, and adjusted herself parallel to the beach as before.
Let any one try this, let any one lie for a few minutes just where the surge bursts, and he will understand what it means. Men go out to the length of their ropes-past and outside the line of the breakers, or they swim still farther out and ride at ease where the wave, however large, merely lifts them pleasantly as it rolls under. But the smashing force of the wave is where it curls and breaks, and it is there that the ladies wait for it. It is these breakers in a gale that tear to pieces and destroy the best-built ships once they touch the shore, scattering their timbers as the wind scatters leaves. The courage and the endurance women must possess to face a groundswell like this!
All the year they live in luxury and ease, and are shielded from everything that could hurt. A bruisea lady to receive a bruise; it is not to be thought of! If a ruffian struck a lady in Hyde Park the world would rise from its armchair in a fury of indignation. These waves and pebbles bruise them as they list. They do not even flinch. There must, then, be a natural power of endurance in them.
It is unnecessary, and yet I was proud to see it. An
English lady could do it; but could any other ?— unless, indeed, an American of English descent. Still, it is a barbarous thing, for bathing could be easily rendered pleasant. The cruel roller receded, the soft breeze blew, the sunshine sparkled, the gleaming foam rushed up and gently rocked her. The Infanta Cleopatra lifted her arm gleaming wet with spray, and extended it indolently; the sun had only given her a more seductive loveliness. How much more enjoyable the sea and breeze and sunshine when one is gazing at something so beautiful. That arm, rounded and soft――
"Excuse me, sir, but your immortal soul ”—a hand was placed on my elbow. I turned, and saw a beaming face; a young lady, elegantly dressed, placed a fly-sheet of good intentions in my fingers. The fair jogger beamed yet more sweetly as I took it, and went on among the crowd. When I looked back the Infanta Cleopatra had ascended into her machine. I had lost the last few moments of loveliness.
UNDER THE ACORNS.
COMING along a woodland lane, a small round and glittering object in the brushwood caught my attention. The ground was but just hidden in that part of the wood with a thin growth of brambles, low, and more like creepers than anything else. These scarcely hid the surface, which was brown with the remnants of oak-leaves; there seemed so little cover, indeed, that a mouse might have been seen. But at that spot some great spurge-plants hung this way and that, leaning aside, as if the stems were too weak to uphold the heads of dark-green leaves. Thin grasses, perfectly white, bleached by sun and dew, stood in a bunch by the spurge; their seeds had fallen, the last dregs of sap had dried within them, there was nothing left but the bare stalks. A creeper of bramble fenced round one side of the spurge and white grass bunch, and brown leaves were visible on the surface of the ground through the interstices of the spray. It was in the midst of this little. thicket that a small, dark, and glittering object caught my attention. I knew it was the eye of some creature at once, but, supposing it nothing more than a young rabbit, was passing on, thinking of other