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DURING the remainder of the day, after visiting the tapestry, Mrs. Morelle and her party occupied themselves in rambling about the town, and talking with the lace-makers, whom they found at work every where at their cottage doors, and at the corners of the streets. Bayeux is a very quiet town, the making of lace, and the subordinate trades connected with it being the principal resource of the inhabitants.
The lace is made upon a cushion, by means of a pattern, pins, and a great number of little bobbins. The woman or girl who makes it has this cushion before her on a little table. On the upper part of it, which is very convex, is the pattern. The pattern is made of very thick paper, and the lines, dots, figures and meshes of all sorts which form the pattern, are drawn upon it, the angles being marked by pin holes, made in the pasteboard. In the back part of the cushion, and in that part of the pattern which
has already been worked, are hundreds, and I do not know but thousands, of pins, some with silvered heads and others gilded. In front of the cushion, and on the sides, are an immense number of bobbins, each with its thread attached to it, and hanging from the pattern.
These bobbins consist of a handle, with a long and slender spool at the farther end of it, around which the silk is wound. In many cases that the children observed, several hundred of these bobbins lay in masses on each side of the cushion, every one of which was connected with its slender line of black silk, with the unfinished margin of the lace on the pattern.
The woman or girl who was making the lace, sat before the cushion. Mrs. Morelle and Florence stopped to see several of them, and to talk with them about the work. They would take out a pin from the back part of the work, which was finished, and put it into a fresh hole in the forward part. Then they would take up the little bobbins one after another, from each side, and moving them to and fro in a very mysterious manner, and crossing them in all directions, they would form the mesh, and then proceed with another pin. They performed the manipulation so rapidly that the children could not understand at all how it was done. Indeed they seemed to
be just moving the bobbins about this way and that, without any end or aim, or as if they were only arranging them, in order to get ready to begin the work.
At one place where an aged woman, who said she was more than seventy years old, was at work, Mrs. Morelle stopped for some time, and held quite a long conversation with her, through Grimkie as interpreter. Mrs. Morelle suggested the questions to be asked, and Grimkie asked them in French. Mrs. Morelle could usually understand the answers herself, without waiting to have them interpreted.
"That must be very difficult to do," said Grimkie, after they had been watching the progress of the work for a few minutes.
"Oh, no," said the old lady, "it is not difficult at all."
"But you must begin to learn when you are very young," said Grimkie.
"Yes, sir," said the woman, "we begin very young. The little children begin with very plain work. They learn first to make the simple meshes."
"And did you begin to learn when you were very young ?" asked Grimkie.
"Yes sir," said the woman. "I began before I was seven years old, and now I am more than
seventy. I have been working at it many long, long years."
The poor woman seemed not to have been very richly rewarded for her life-long toil, for though she was comfortably clothed, her dress and her dwelling were of a very coarse and humble char
Mrs. Morelle wished to buy some lace of this woman, but the woman said when questioned on the subject, that she had none to sell. Grimkie made similar enquiries of several other persons, that they saw making lace at their doors. The fact was, that these persons do not in any case make the lace on their own account, but always for certain large dealers, called lace manufacturers, who give out the patterns and the materials, and pay the women for the work. These dealers then send the lace, in large quantities, to the great cities all over the world, so that there is very little opportunity to purchase it at retail at Bayeux.
After talking with a considerable number of the lace-makers, at their cottage doors, Mrs. Morelle enquired at the hotel for the address of one of the lace houses, where she could obtain some specimens. Madame Achard gave her the address of the largest of these houses. Mrs. Morelle and the children had previously seen, as
they had been walking along the streets, the entrances to some of them. There was usually a great gateway leading into a court, with an arch over it on which was the sign, giving the name of the manufacturer, and the address of the house in Paris, where their principal depot was kept; but without any appearance, on the street, of there being any thing for sale on the spot.
The establishment which Mrs. Morelle visited, was kept by a lady named Mademoiselle Pagny. The party after entering in through the great arched gateway, found themselves upon a broad gravel walk leading through beautiful grounds, toward a large and handsome house, which stood back at some little distance from the street, with borders of flowers and shrubbery all around it. They were received at a door of the house in a sort of wing, by a young man, who accosted them at first in French, but when he found it was an American party, he began at once to speak English.
The room which the party entered first was a counting-room, with large and handsome desks and tables in the centre of it, and cases around the sides, containing an infinite number of the paper patterns above referred to. They passed through this room,-the young man leading the