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More Bywords   By: (1823-1901)

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Transcribed by David Price, email



The Price of Blood The Cat of Cat Copse De Facto and De Jure Sigbert's Guerdon The Beggar's Legacy A Review of the Nieces Come to Her Kingdom Mrs. Batseyes Chops


Ab ira et odio, et omni mala voluntate, Libera nos, Domine. A fulgure et tempestate, Libera nos, Domine. A morte perpetua, Libera nos, Domine.

So rang forth the supplication, echoing from rock and fell, as the people of Claudiodunum streamed forth in the May sunshine to invoke a blessing on the cornlands, olives, and vineyards that won vantage ground on the terraces carefully kept up on the slopes of the wonderful needle shaped hills of Auvergne.

Very recently had the Church of Gaul commenced the custom of going forth, on the days preceding the Ascension feast, to chant Litanies, calling down the Divine protection on field and fold, corn and wine, basket and store. It had been begun in a time of deadly peril from famine and earthquake, wild beast and wilder foes, and it had been adopted in the neighbouring dioceses as a regular habit, as indeed it continued throughout the Western Church during the fourteen subsequent centuries.

One great procession was formed by different bands. The children were in two troops, a motley collection of all shades; the deep olive and the rolling black eye betraying Ethiopian or Moorish slave ancestry, the soft dark complexion and deep brown eye showing the Roman, and the rufous hair and freckled skin the lower grade of Cymric Kelt, while a few had the more stately pose, violet eye, and black hair of the Gael. The boys were marshalled with extreme difficulty by two or three young monks; their sisters walked far more orderly, under the care of some consecrated virgin of mature age. The men formed another troop, the hardy mountaineers still wearing the Gallic trousers and plaid, though the artisans and mechanics from the town were clad in the tunic and cloak that were the later Roman dress, and such as could claim the right folded over them the white, purple edged scarf to which the toga had dwindled.

Among the women there was the same scale of decreasing nationality of costume according to rank, though the culmination was in resemblance to the graceful classic robe of Rome instead of the last Parisian mode. The poorer women wore bright, dark crimson, or blue in gown or wrapping veil; the ladies were mostly in white or black, as were also the clergy, excepting such as had officiated at the previous Eucharist, and who wore their brilliant priestly vestments, heavy with gold and embroidery.

Beautiful alike to eye and ear was the procession, above all from a distance, now filing round a delicate young green wheatfield, now lost behind a rising hill, now glancing through a vineyard, or contrasting with the gray tints of the olive, all that was incongruous or disorderly unseen, and all that was discordant unheard, as only the harmonious cadence of the united response was wafted fitfully on the breeze to the two elderly men who, unable to scale the wild mountain paths in the procession, had, after the previous service in the basilica and the blessing of the nearer lands, returned to the villa, where they sat watching its progress.

It was as entirely a Roman villa as the form of the ground and the need of security would permit. Lying on the slope of a steep hill, which ran up above into a fantastic column or needle piercing the sky, the courts of the villa were necessarily a succession of terraces, levelled and paved with steps of stone or marble leading from one to the other. A strong stone wall enclosed the whole, cloistered, as a protection from sun and storm. The lowest court had a gateway strongly protected, and thence a broad walk with box trees on either side, trimmed into fantastic shapes, led through a lawn laid out in regular flower beds to the second court, which was paved with polished marble, and had a fountain in the midst, with vases of flowers, and seats around... Continue reading book >>

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