ALONG THE WEST COAST
I SEEMED to have a fatality in my French touring for arriving at strange places anywhere from nine o’clock in the evening to sunrise in the morning. Thus when my wanderings at length took me to Dieppe, I reached my destination late at night, after my usual habit. As it chanced I fell into the hands of a rusty old porter loitering about the station exit, who beguiled me with assertions that there was a good hotel a few steps distant, and they spoke English there, and he would show me the way, and nothing could be better. So he shouldered my baggage, and off he went with me following after.
On and on he walked up this street and down that in what seemed in the darkness an aggravatingly long and tortuous way. I began to be alarmed and wrathy; but I felt that my knowledge of French was not equal to adequately expressing my sentiments and decided to await developments. I tried to imagine what I would do if the man led me to some shabby little hostelry that looked forbidding and desperate. But my fears were wasted, for we presently turned aside from the street, went under an arch and through a quiet court, and were at the door of a large and entirely respectable hotel.
The next morning I found that my hotel fronted a fine sweep of crescent beach, and after breakfasting I went for a walk along the shore. Dieppe is a famous watering-place, but just then the beach looked more like the adjuncts of some sort of a laundry than the resort of fashionable bathers and pleasure-seekers. For a great distance the shingle was overlaid with newly washed clothing and house linen. Here and there a woman was seated on a wheelbarrow knitting and waiting, till, in the process of drying, her share in the great array of washing needed turning. When the garments had dried on both sides to a watcher’s satisfaction, she shook them free from any sand that had blown on them, folded them, loaded her barrow, and wheeled her wash up to the town.
Southward, beyond the row of hotels that fronted the harbor, was a line of lofty chalk cliffs. On the beach in that neighborhood many scattered men and women with stout baskets on their backs were picking up certain of the rounded water-worn stones that strewed the shore. What the stones were to be used for and what were the qualities considered desirable in them I failed to discover. A peculiar thing about the stone gatherers was that they were cave dwellers, and their homes were in the white cliffs which rose near by, with bases barely out of reach of the tides. The crags were honeycombed with caverns of all sizes, though not all of them were occupied. Some of the cave dwellings were very diminutive — just single little rooms with a rude wooden door closing the entrance. As I was passing one of these, the door opened and I saw a grizzly looking man working inside, and a small boy ran out with a bit of shining stone in his hand and held it up to me. “Please buy a curiosity, M’sieur,” he said, and I gave him two or three coppers and took the stone.
The entrances to the larger caves were wholly unclosed, and when I ventured near to one of them and saw nothing to hinder, I went inside. Its walls must have been fifty feet high, its width about the same, and its depth fully two or three hundred feet. A dry, chalky odor pervaded it, and it had a feeling of great quiet and mellow coolness. A young dog sprang out from a stone kennel near the entrance and barked till the place resounded as if there had been a dozen dogs yelping instead of one; but, when I approached, the four-legged sentry stopped his alarms and became frisky. On the opposite side of the entrance, a little farther within the cave, a room had been excavated into the rock, and in its low doorway stood a bent and withered old woman regarding me curiously. At the back of the cavern were the homes of other cave dwellers, merely spaces partitioned off with low stone walls. In each there was usually naught but a bed, a table, a few cooking utensils, and some baskets for stone gathering; though in one instance I saw pictures cut from illustrated periodicals fastened against the walls.
This was all so interesting that I went into another big cavern not far distant and, as before, was received with a vociferous canine greeting. The barking proceeded from a little dog who had jumped out in front of a stone wall halfway to the rear of the cavern. He was the defender of a home; for back of the stone wall was a bed, and on the bed sat a little girl, hardly more than a baby, all alone in that great cavern cooing and laughing and stirring the echoes as happy as could be. She did not mind my coming, but smiled up at me perfectly fearless and undisturbed. An hour later I visited this cavern again, and besides the baby, found her father, mother, and older sister. They had kindled a fire, and the cavern was blue and hazy with its smoke. The man and woman were standing at a table straining some hot liquid into a basin. The baby was talking to herself on the bed and playing with an old parasol. It seemed a strange living-place for a child — that great cavern, its gray walls sparkling with broken flints, and the sea pounding always on the beach without the entrance!
THE CLIFFS AT DIEPPE
My waiter at the hotel said these cave people were a lawless, gypsy race, and it would be dangerous to go among them after dark. If that was meant as a warning it was unnecessary, for later, the same day, I went on southward to Havre. Of Havre itself I have nothing to say. It is an ordinary, thriving, commercial town, and my only excuse for bringing it into my narrative is that there I saw a second-hand market which was unique in my experiences. I had strolled into the market-place, a clean, broad square strewn under foot with gravel and pebbles. At its centre was a fountain around which was gathered a great number of empty handcarts. The goods for which the carts had been a conveyance were now displayed on the ground, sometimes on pieces of carpeting or bags, but oftenest simply laid on the pebbly earth. It was the queerest lot of antiquated rubbish imaginable. One would think the venders must be very optimistic to fancy it was salable. The things looked like the findings of the garbage gatherers and the refuse of the junk shops. Yet there was no lack of customers. They thronged up and down the alleys left clear between the rows of merchandise, all looking for treasures and bargains.
You could hardly mention any article of clothing, or any household implement, or farm tool, or piece of furniture or of tableware but that was represented in this second-hand mart. Here stood a battered bed, and, keeping it company, was a goodly number of chairs that were themselves not at all goodly — for some lacked backs, and some lacked seats, while others were without their full quota of legs, and did their best to make themselves presentable by leaning on the cripples next to them. You could buy wrecked window-curtains, trunks with the lids gone, pieces of stovepipe, tubs made out of barrels cut in half, oil stoves and oil paintings, both cracked, and the latter yellow and dim enough to pass for old masters. If you wanted a pair of bellows, or some rusted spoons, or anything in the line of candlesticks, lanterns, or lamps, you had a great variety to pick from.
Perhaps you might fancy this leaky umbrella, or a squirrel-cage with an out-of-order whirlabout, or a little coffee-mill to fasten to your kitchen wall, or these balances which will not balance. Perhaps you have need of something in the line of pots and pans, crockery or glassware. The assortment is large if you do not object to the things being somewhat out of date and rather the worse for wear. Here are bottles of many sizes and shapes, old books, jewelry of all kinds, and tawdry shelf ornaments that have long since ceased to be ornamental. If you have a lock without a key, here are a hundred or more great rusty door keys on a wire for you to choose from; and if you have a key and no lock, you can probably find a lock here to fit your otherwise useless key. There are worn out shoes enough to fill a shoe store, some with mates and some without. Many venders displayed large quantities of clothing, garments for men, women, and children. There was apparel to fit one out from head to foot — from dirty straw hats and dented derbies to ragged and much-darned socks. Then there were extensive stocks of tools — farm tools, carpenters’ tools, mechanics’ tools, all of them encrusted with rust, and many of them broken, or misfits that you would think could be of no earthly use except for old iron.
But the curious crowd looked, and poked, and priced, and bought. They did not purchase in haste, but examined the things with care and let no flaw escape them. They took an investigating sniff at the cans and bottles; and, inside and outside, they knew exactly what they were getting and even had an inkling at times of the articles’ histories. The purchasers were nearly all of the poorer class, the women bareheaded and the men wearing blue frocks. To them the second-hand market was nothing extraordinary, for it is held at Havre one day each week, and other French cities have markets of the same sort. It certainly had a peculiar fascination, and amongst the rubbish there were more or less antiquities that no doubt had genuine value as curiosities. But the ordinary customers buy for use, real or fancied. They cannot resist the appeal of a bargain, and I was told that after they had kept their acquisitions for a time they were very apt to bring them back to the second-hand market to be sold again to some other imaginative purchaser.
After leaving Havre, the next pause in my coastwise journey was on the border line between Normandy and Brittany, at Pontorson, the railway station that is nearest to Mont St. Michel. The mount is five miles distant, and the easiest way to get there is to take one of the carriages or omnibuses always in waiting at the station; but I chose to go on foot. Long before I reached the borders of the bay, in the midst of which rises the lonely mount, I could see it looming far on ahead in the shadowy distance, the more noticeable because all the region around is low and flat.
Formerly the mount was an island, but now it is connected with the mainland by a long, curving arm of roadway that is buttressed on both sides by broad slopes of stonework. It is a strange-looking bit of nature — this little mountain of the sea — so compact, and its sides so abrupt that it appears as if the whole thing might be some architectural contrivance of man’s, in which nature had played no part. Nearly every foot of available space on the steep rocks is built over. Around the foot of the crag are the ancient fortifications — thick and lofty walls, strengthened by frequent towers and bastions; while the summit of the rock is crowned with a church, and with a castle that was well-nigh impregnable in the Middle Ages when it was built. The church is a Benedictine Abbey, founded over one thousand years ago by St. Aubert, in obedience to the commands of the Archangel Michael, who appeared to the saint in a vision. The fact that an inhabitant of Heaven had come to earth to leave orders about this particular spot made it sacred, and, just as is usually the case under like circumstances, pilgrims resorted to the rocks in great numbers, and by their pious gifts the monastery was erected and greatly enriched.
On the ragged precipices that face the open sea, patches of grass and clumps of storm-twisted trees find a foothold. The other side has a more gradual fall, and is terraced into a number of corkscrew lanes and footways, along which the houses, hotels, and shops of quite a little village are built. The livelihood of the two hundred residents depends almost entirely on the visitors to the place, who, attracted by the fame of its singular picturesqueness, gravitate to it from all parts of the world.
Far up the zigzagging stairs, that ascend in nearly seven hundred steps from the highest point of the village to the abbey, were three old women, on the day of my visit, sitting at about equal intervals apart on the stone stairway. The first sold roses. The second had a placard hung from her neck, stating that she was blind, and asking the reader for a contribution. The third was idiotic, or dumb, and made strange whining noises, showed a tray of shells, and held out a deformed hand to appeal to public sympathy. There in that narrow stony way, the three mendicants seemed more like ancient witches, with dubious powers to cast spells and decide destinies, than like ordinary human beggars.
When I returned to Pontorson the day was far spent, and I was rejoiced to see a little house near the station marked “Restaurant.” I interviewed the stout, good-natured landlady in charge, and arranged with her for board and lodgings as long as I chose to stay in the vicinity. She would get me my dinner at once, she said, and fell to cooking in her little kitchen, while I sat down outside, by one of several tables under a wide piazza roof, that jutted out so far over the tiny yard as to nearly cover it.
THE SECOND-HAND MARKET
I had a French course dinner, in which was conspicuous, as the chief item in the bill of fare, a ghastly-looking chicken, brought to the table with its head on. For drink my landlady uncorked, as a matter of course, a bottle of wine. I asked if I could have instead a glass of milk, but she did not catch the idea, and thought I was saying wine was not strong enough, and that I wanted champagne or whiskey. When I finally made clear my request, she shook her head in great surprise. She had never seen any one who preferred milk to wine before.
Like a large proportion of women in France, my landlady seemed to have entire charge of her house and business. She did the buying and selling, and carried the purse; while her husband puttered around, did small jobs, wiped the dishes, and ran errands. The woman had twice his vigor. But she was no exception in this, for among the tradespeople the French women undoubtedly have a remarkable capacity for business, and for managing themselves and the men too.
I was at Pontorson over Sunday, and, in the early morning of that day, went for a walk about the village. Sunday is more observed among the rural folk in this part of France than in most sections, and the place was very dull and quiet. Interest centred in a muddy canal where various groups of men and boys were fishing. I felt the usual curiosity that is aroused the world over wherever one sees angling going on, and I stopped to watch proceedings. The fishermen were very successful, but, as their captures were without exception small eels six or eight inches in length, I soon tired of the monotony, and went on out into the country.
After tramping about three miles I reached a quaint little village of gray stone houses, most of them with thatched roofs. In a grove just aside from the chief street was a low old church, and its bell was ringing and worshippers were resorting in its direction. I followed the rest and entered the churchyard with its rank weeds and grasses, and its graves decorated with grotesque bead wreaths. Until service began I loitered outside, and then went into the church and sat down near the rear.
The building was like a fortress, its walls a yard thick and its windows heavily barred with iron. The low wooden pews were bare of cushions and unpainted; but, to compensate, the farther end of the room was quite gaudy with cloths and candles and images, while the ceiling was painted blue and spangled with white stars. A high priest with a shaven crown led the service, and he was assisted by two lesser priests, and by three little boys who carried around candles and books, and picked up the high priest’s skirts at the proper time and adjusted them so that he could sit down gracefully.
The men of the congregation were all up in front and the women and children in the rear. Frocks of blue and black were worn by the men, and white caps by the women and girls. The service was intoned, and there were parts for the priests, and parts sung by the men, and parts sung by the women. At the points where the people were to rise, some one up near the altar gave a single rap with a cane, and when they were to sit, gave two raps.
Toward the close of the service one of the gowned ecclesiastics — the sexton, I think it was — brought out what looked like a common market-basket containing nearly half a bushel of bread cut in small pieces. The basket was lined with a linen cloth large enough to overlap the edges and allow the ends to meet underneath where they were loosely knotted. Beginning at the front, the sexton came slowly down the single narrow aisle, passing the basket now to a pew on this side, now to a pew on that side, and every one in the congregation from infants up to centenarians took a piece of bread. When the sexton approached the rear of the room he seemed to suddenly realize that he was going to have considerable bread left, and he handed out quite a good-sized end of a loaf that was in the bottom of the basket to an old woman, in addition to the small piece she had already taken. She ate the small bit and put the loaf-end in her pocket. At the very last the sexton distributed what remained by handfuls to several children in the back seats, and that kept them munching the rest of the service. This disposal of the surplus appeared thrifty and charitable, but I was not quite reconciled to it as a matter of religion. Whether the bread was believed to be the body of Christ in reality or symbolically, feasting on it seemed incongruous.
Bread is served in church all over France in something the same way every Sunday, and turns are taken by the various families of the parish in providing it. The well-to-do direct the baker to make a kind of sweet bread, and they not only get enough for the church, but extra loaves which they send after service, one to each family of their particular friends among the neighbors. It has been blessed by the priest along with that cut up and distributed at the church, and it is valued accordingly. This aristocratic bread is eaten by all the attendants at mass with relish, and the children devour it with special eagerness; for to many of them sweet bread is a rarity at home. Notice is given a week beforehand to the housewife who is to provide bread for the following Sunday. The sexton conveys the information of what is expected by bringing to her home after service a piece of bread saved from that day’s distribution.
MOUNT ST. MICHAEL
My French touring came to an end at St. Malo. In earlier times this ancient seaport was much more important than now, and its inhabitants distinguished themselves as bold traders in times of peace, and as daring privateers in times of war. At present it has a look of decay and of unchanging antiquity; yet it is not dead. It still has a considerable share in the Newfoundland cod fisheries, does a good deal of shipbuilding, and exports to England an immense amount of farm produce drawn from the great agricultural country surrounding. The situation of the town reminds one of Mont St. Michel, for it is on a small island with the waters of a bay round about. The island is less than three miles in circumference and lies just off the mainland, with which it is connected by a broad causeway. It is completely covered by the town, which gives the impression of being much crowded. Expansion has been only possible skyward, and the streets are very narrow, and the gloomy, gray buildings run up to a height of five or six stories.
An interesting excursion I made from St. Malo was to Cancale, a Breton fishing village nine miles distant. Cancale itself is on a big hill well above the sea, and though the place has a salt-water flavor, for genuine brininess you have to descend to a hamlet hugging the shore far down the slope. There the sea was dotted everywhere with fishing craft, nearly all the inhabitants clacked about with wooden shoes, and the men looked like sailors, and the strong, sunburned women looked like sailors’ wives and daughters. The wharves were odorous of fish, and the men were coming and going with oars and nets over their shoulders. In the midst of the village, fronting the sea, was a tall cross, bearing on it the figure of Christ to which, no doubt, many a fervent prayer had been said in time of storm.
The shore was the common resort of all the village loiterers — of the men and women, when not engaged in work, of the grandmothers and the toddling little ones in their charge, while for the small boys and girls it made a royal playground. The waves were always casting up treasures, the outlook on the sea was unfailing in its interest, the sand possessed inexhaustible possibilities of pleasure to the youngsters, and they were never tired of going in swimming or of wading in the shallows. I watched some of them building a fort. It was quite large, and several of the builders could stand in it at the same time. When the waves of the incoming tide began to lap its border the children sat down on the walls of their fortress, and defended it to the last moment, until the crumbling sand let the floods in, and then they fled with shouts of glee.
I had come to Cancale by a steam tramway, but I returned on foot to get better acquainted with the country. It looked almost wooded with its apple orchards and its frequent rows of trees dividing fields. One curious thing about the apple trees was that some of them were in full blossom while others had good-sized green fruit on them. It was now the first of July, and I could hardly believe my eyes until I had seen the blossoms repeatedly, and gone to the trees and made a examination. The people along the way were mostly busy digging early potatoes, and packing them into great baskets for the English market, and an endless caravan of carts of every sort and size was on the road creaking along toward St. Malo, whence their loads would start on the voyage across the channel that evening.
The day following my trip to Cancale I went to the other side of St. Malo harbor by a little steamer, and rambled along the coast westward as far as St. Lunaire, originally an old farming hamlet, but now a suburban watering-place. Its only feature that was especially picturesque, was a windmill on a hilltop just outside the village. The big sails were motionless when I saw it, but this was the owner’s fault, not dull trade or lack of wind. According to local accounts, the proprietor was a man with a mania for fishing, and if you were in a hurry for your grist you must hunt for him along the rocks of the seashore, and try to induce him to come back to business. This old gray mill ground all the grain raised in the neighborhood; but it did not draw custom from any great distance, for windmills are not uncommon in Brittany, and there was another in sight a few miles farther along the coast.
Down the hill from the windmill was a farmhouse, and as I was passing it, I was reminded that I was thirsty by seeing an old lady drawing water with a rope and windlass from a well in the corner of the farmyard. I begged a drink, and she invited me to go with her to the house where she would fill a glass for me, and I could sit and be comfortable. That suited me exactly, and I followed her with her dripping oaken bucket across the yard and into the kitchen. There I met another elderly woman, the sister of my escort, the two being the owners and, most of the year, the sole occupants of the big farmhouse. They were very kindly, and my environment was so interesting that I was in no haste about leaving.
The house was used only in part for farm purposes. It had been remodelled to accommodate summer boarders, as had most of the old St. Lunaire homes, but the kitchen was a genuine farm kitchen still. The two old ladies, whose abode this had been from childhood up, would not have felt comfortable had the living-room been changed. They were well-to-do and had an independent income, yet they continued to do all the accustomed drudgery of the place and to live primitively. They farmed some on a small scale, took care of their own garden, and kept a cow and a calf. Most of the day they sat knitting in the cool of the big kitchen; yet they were dressed for out-of-doors, and their white caps were concealed beneath black straw hats. It was too much trouble to take off their hats every time they came in. They liked best to keep them on constantly, so that they were all ready to step out into the sunshine on errands or to work about the place whenever it chanced to be necessary or they in the mood for it. During my visit they only removed these hats once, and that was to bring in from a back room a great barrel churn which they adjusted in preparation for butter making.
There was a piquant smack of’ antiquity about all the household ways, and, as well, about all the home furnishings. In the middle of the kitchen was a long, solid table with a chip under one leg to make it set level on the earth floor. This floor was a compound of clay, pebbles, and gravel, that was hard and fairly smooth, considering the material of which it was made. In peasant homes such floors are common, and when new and well cared for they are quite presentable, but constant sweeping and the softening of inevitable slop-pings wears the best of them uneven after a time. They have to be repaired yearly to keep them in good order.
At the end of the big room in which I sat was a large fireplace flanked on either side by substantial settees. It had neither crane nor grate, and the fire was built on the low hearth. The cooking was done directly on the coals, or with nothing more intervening than a three-legged griddle, or trivet. I looked up the wide-mouthed chimney and had a glimpse of the sky, and saw some pieces of meat suspended in the sooty, cavernous flue to cure in the smoke. For fuel, wood was burned, and a vacant space underneath a near cupboard served instead of a woodbox.
BESIDE THE SEA
The kitchen ceiling was cut into long parallels by the sleepers of the floor above, and to one of these a heavy iron hook was fastened, so that when a pig was killed it could be brought in here to hang for a day till it was ready to cut up. A bed was let into the wall in one corner. It was very high up, and it would have been difficult to get into it without a ladder had it not been for a bench backed up against it down below. The bed had a handsome spread, and was draped with curtains, but it conveyed no sense of utility, and had plainly been made up by the housekeeper to be looked at. Some farm kitchens have two beds in the same wall niche, the one above the other, like berths in a steamer cabin. Often such beds are provided with a narrow space behind, a sort of cupboard or closet which can be used as a dressing-room after one has crawled over to it between the couches and drawn the curtains. All along one side of the kitchen in this old farmhouse was a great wardrobe reaching from floor to ceiling, its woodwork of cherry, its trimmings of brass, and the whole kept shining and scrupulously free from dust by frequent rubbings and scourings. In the middle of the wardrobe, and apparently built as a part of it, was a tall clock with a slow-swinging pendulum visible through its glass door. The various drawers and lockers behind the polished woodwork were full of clothing and of vast stores of linen, with space reserved for the crockery and tableware, and, somewhere down below, for the fireplace pots and kettles.
Among other things in the wardrobe was about a bushel of white caps, as I learned when, in response to some question of mine, my hostesses exhumed them with housewifely vanity. I think they had never destroyed one in all their lives, for those they had worn as young girls were there with the rest. The general pattern of all was the same, but the youthful caps were of lace, while those they wore now in their soberer years were of plain cloth. They were St. Lunaire caps, and it would not do to vary them. A cap is a kind of village trade-mark, and the women of each little Breton community have a style all their own. They take great pride in the dainty neatness of these articles of apparel, and no matter how elaborate the frilling, with its necessity for laborious ironing, they are always beautifully done up. What advantage there was in maintaining a village monopoly of a particular type of headgear, I could not discover, except that it enabled the natives to tell afar off from what place a woman came by the pattern of her cap.
When I returned to St. Malo the tide was out, and the aspect of the harbor was very different from what it had been at full tide when I left. The bay had dwindled amazingly, the town wharves were high and dry, and where had been deep water was now a great waste of sand and mud, reaching out a half mile or more from what were the shores at flood tide. Our steamer had to stop long before it reached the town, and the passengers walked the rest of the distance, following a narrow causeway of rough stone blocks. The inner harbor had no water in it whatever, save for a few shallow ponds, and out in its very middle a barefoot old woman, with a reef taken in her gown, was tramping about in the mud and gathering something in a basket. At the entrance to the harbor was now a deep gap, and many people were passing back and forth by a slatted wooden path laid across the bed of the channel. As for the shipping, it was all propped up against the quays, with hulls perfectly bare.
The rise and fall of the tide is a remarkable feature of St. Malo. Ordinarily there is a difference of about twenty-five feet between low and high tide level, while the spring tides show a variation of nearly fifty feet.
Among the other vessels in the harbor was an English boat, scheduled to sail for Southampton that night, and I decided to go with her. She was being loaded with tons and tons of new potatoes, and with butter, eggs, and like produce. I stood by and watched them lowering the goods into the hold — boxes, crates, barrels, and baskets. What a hearty-eating race the English are, I thought, with these shiploads of things for their tables coming constantly, the year round, from every port in Europe, to say nothing of the vast amount they draw from more distant countries!
The boxes and barrels containing the potatoes were not always perfectly tight, and sometimes a few tubers got loose and fell on the wharf. These did not go to waste, for there were a number of poor townsfolk in waiting ready to grab for them. That it was not an unquestioned right of theirs was shown by the furtive haste with which they secured their booty. The most successful of the potato gleaners was a family party of four — a mother, an infant in a baby-carriage, and a little boy and girl. The last two were the most active. They each had a tin pail, and as fast as they could fill these receptacles they ran with them to their mother, who kept in the background. She took the pails and emptied them into the baby-carriage, out of sight underneath the child and its blankets. It was a lucky day, and they got the carriage full, so that the baby would barely stick on top and keep the suspicious load hidden. Then the pails were filled once more, and the little girl stuffed her apron, and the little boy stuffed his jacket, and they went away with their plunder toward the town.
Eight o’clock came, and the tide was at its full; and still the freight was being hustled aboard the steamer and smashed down into the hold. Another hour passed, and we cast loose, and on an outflowing current turned toward England, picking our way carefully to the open sea, among the fortified islands and rocky ledges that dotted the outer borders of the harbor.
My wanderings in France were at an end, and I was not sorry, although the experience had been in many ways delightful, and I came away with an increased respect for the French people. There is a good deal of humbug in this talk about “decadent” nations. But after all, I am Anglo-Saxon, and when I boarded the English vessel which was to take me across the channel, the racial clannishness asserted itself, and nothing could have been sweeter to my ears than the homely dialect of the English sailors and cabin stewards. I could have hugged them, and I had a realizing sense of the nearness of our relationship such as I had never had before; and when I thought the matter over, it seemed to me that if America was the best country in the world, certainly England was the second best.