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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

to Alps and Sanctuaries          267

I should think Auld Robin Gray was " abbastanza buono "
to Mrs. Gray.

One of the little girls told me that Silvio had so many
centesimi and she had none. I said at once :

" You don't want any centesimi."

As soon as these words fell from my lips, I knew I must be
getting old.

And presently the Devil came up to me. He was a nice,
clean old man, but he dropped his h's, and that was where he
spoiled himself—or perhaps it was just this that threw me off
my guard, for I had always heard that the Prince of Darkness
was a perfect gentleman. He whispered to me that in the
winter the monks of St. Bernard sometimes say matins over-
night.

The blue of the mountains looks bluer through the chestnuts
than through the pines. The river is snowy against the
" Verdi prati e selve aniene." The great fat tobacco plant
agrees with itself if not with us; I never saw any plant look
in better health. The briar knows perfectly well what it
wants to do and that it does not want to be disturbed; it
knows, in fact, all that it cares to know. The question is how
and why it got to care to know just these things and no others.

Two cheeky goats came tumbling down upon me and de-
manded salt, and the man came from the saw-mill and, with
his great brown hands, scooped the mud from the dams of the
rills that watered his meadow, for the hour had come when it
was his turn to use the stream.

There were cow-bells, mountain elder-berries and lots of
flowers in the grass. There was the glacier, the roar of the
river and a plaintive little chapel on a green knoll under the
great cliff of ice which cut the sky. There was a fat, crumby
woman making hay. She said :

" Buon giorno.''

And the " i o r " of the " giorno " came out like oil and
honey. I saw she wanted a gossip. She and her husband
tuned their scythes in two-part, note-against-note counter-
point ; but I could hear that it was she who was the canto
fermo and he who was the counterpoint. I peered down over
the edge of the steep slippery slope which all had to be mown
from top to bottom; if hay grew on the dome of St. Paul's
these dreadful traders would gather it in, and presently the