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BARN ELVES

BY CARY GAMBLE LOWNDES

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Thou shun'st me, Chloe, as a fawn seeking its timorous dam within the trackless mountains, panicky with vain fear of breath of air, and of the forest. For whether the thorn with its facile leaves shudders to the caress of the breeze, or the green lizards stir the brake, at once it trembles both in heart and knees. But not as a tiger fierce do I pursue to rend thee, nor as a Gætulian lion. Now, at length, a maiden grown, cease to cling to thy mother.

Wandering about the farm, some mid-May afternoon, you will think of that. You are on a fishing trip your second visit: the first was in November, quail-shooting. It is singular that you, who never cared much for fishing, should suddenly have decided to try a place so lacking in game-fish that a white perch is a surprise, a 'spot' is an event, and a rockfish as big as the cork used on the eighteen-foot fishing-poles common here would cause a riot. All the same, with rod, reel, and basket, here you are. You have been here a week, and have n't caught anything but catfish, eels, and 'yellow-neds.' But there's the farm. You like farming. After all, what's time or fishing compared with agricultural research?

The farm, with its old buildings and broom-grassed, piny solitudes, is interesting to explore, especially when, in dove-gray skirt and snowy shirt-waist,

her wine-dark hair deftly coiled, walks at your side the Spirit of the Farm, who is 'showing you around.' She is rare. Her walk is pheasant-like. Her clothes seem to caress her a perfect model for a picture by the famed artist of Society, whose Grecian heroines, in tailored suits, on pages torn from magazines, adorn her room. They are the inspiration, perchance, of those curves of grace, the classic carriage, and the proud little sway from the waist. Or, happily, it is her Devon blood, renascent, for all its centuries of poverty and struggle, that moulds again in her slight form the lines of haute noblesse.

Among her sisters your eye had instantly singled her. She understood. At first she was reserved and dignified, shy; but now, free companions of the woods and fields, you wander where you will. You watch the broken-winged wild goose, tied to a post on the lawn and honking disconsolately. You feed the tiny 'just-out' bantams, hunt eggs in the tool-shed and the musty stalls, and find a guinea's nest under the weed-grown reaper. You gather armfuls of lilacs, but drop them all to burn a tattered last-year's hornet castle. No use telling her that the long-dead hornets are n't 'playing 'possum.'

You race across the pasture, hurdle the bars, are introduced to the cows, name a calf, and are presented with a young and very black kitten, which, taking instant fancy to your feet, sticks thenceforth at your heels, making playful pounces at your leggin-cords. Somehow, for all its idiotic attentions, you

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The resonant

Et les loups sont aux bois.' 'Eho! Eho! Ého!' echoes, rolling, return the shouted refrain of the old Burgundian shepherd song. Eho! Ého! Eho!' That's the first French this barn- and Somebody

have ever heard. Somebody likes it, too, and is silent. Off from the gables storm the startled pigeons. Out from their nests, on beam and rafter, dart the twittering swallows. It is pleasant, lying on the hay before the wide window, awaiting their return. Back they come, the proud, iris-necked cock-pigeons, a-rou-cou-coo-ing, a-bookity-boo-ing, on the sill; the swallows, Spirits of the Loft, hovering stationary in the grayframed azure of the window. Brave they look, in their new dress-suits, steelblue-backed, white-and-chestnut-fronted. 'Now, what,' they twitter, 'what, in the name of common sense, can this pair of human nuisances be up to, high, so high, in our domain?'

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'I stray and sob in the forest:

The throstle sits on the bough; She springs and sings her purest, "What ails thee, sad of brow?”

"Thy sisters, dear, the swallows, Can rede thee true, my child, Who chose the lattice hollows Where erst my darling smiled.'

You don't like it? I'm sorry. Yes; it is sad, but sad things are the loveliest and the farthest from earth. You will like this one. It is old English. Perhaps one of your Devon ancestors wrote it. Those morioned harriers of the Spanish Main grew poetic, sometimes, in the alehouse.

"The martins and the swallows
Are God Almighty's scholars.
The robins and the wrens
Are God Almighty's friends.

"The laverock and the lintie, The robin and the wren If you disturb their nests, You'll never thrive again.

'For swallows on Mount Calvary
Plucked tenderly away

From the brow of Christ two thousand
thorns,

Such gracious birds are they.'

What's that? You don't see how I can shoot a bird? You would n't shoot one, of course. How about that quail somebody shot with my gun, last fall? Sitting, too. And right under old Hector's nose, while he was holding his point so patiently! Somebody's so tender-hearted she would n't think of going hunting again. What? She is? And is going to tramp ten miles of sedgefields, tear her stockings to rags, scratch her hands, and shoot at anything that will sit still long enough? Good for you! Won't we have a time! We'll be coureurs de marais, in your canoe, on the river. With old Hector up front, to watch for falling mallards, we'll follow the happy day. I'll be here when the shooting season opens- it's only six months off. I'll bring my sixteen-gauge

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It is different now. She follows eagerly, while you reveal the life of the barn, unveiling a creation of which she has scarcely surmised the existence. She knows the boring-bees; the 'blackfaces' sting, but the 'white-faces' don't. The 'death-watch' beetle, ticking in the wall, frightens her, but she likes the nervous mud-daubers, brown and blue, and exclaims in wonder when she first hears their dry, gritty clicking, busily plastering their mud tunnels against the inner shingles.

Thin wings suddenly flutter overhead. 'Oh! oh! A bat! Don't let it get in my hair!' Down she burrows under the hay while, crazily flickering to and fro, the 'leather-bird' darts and twists in the semi-twilight.

You stand, with pitchfork raised. 'It's gone now. Come out, Barn Elf.' She rises, blinking and sneezing, her hair loose and full of clinging straws. One's gone down her back. What a time it takes to get it out! How she laughs and shrinks and shudders! What's the matter with your fingers? The loosened hair is rearranged and pinned; the errant straw is, at last, recovered, and nature-study is resumed; but it is useless to expatiate upon bats and their habits.

'I think they're awful. I wish every one in the world was dead. I'm going down if it comes again. There! Oh! oh!' at each returning swoop. Finally,

the bat hangs upside down from a rafter, and is quiet.

'My goodness! But you can see things!' she exclaims, enthusiastically chewing a clover-stalk and looking sidewise at you from under her strawfilled hair. What an eye you've got! No wonder you beat father shooting partridges last fall.'

'Hush, Barn Elf. See that weasel's head peeping out of the rathole, in the corner? Too late. "Pop" goes the weasel. They always do, just when you look; it's their way. He's hunting rats. He won't bother your bantams. If he does - I'll get him if I have to watch all night. Yonder's a pewee's nest, on the old broom, behind that rafter, by the west window. It's not finished yet. There are no swallows on that side of the barn. Come over and see. No, the nests are empty; they've driven all the beauties away. Pewees are democrats. They hate "swallowtails."'

She is glad to learn. She does not question. Composed, she listens, satisfied with your knowledge. Yet now and then a side-glance at the ladder-opening. Only the faintest flush of cheek, only the twitching of the bitten straw, give token of the 'awfulness' unheard of — but not undreamed of

'In the loft so long, all by herself, with the stranger!'

'Here comes that horrid bat again! I'm really afraid. I'm going down this minute!'

But why so slow about descending? What glamour is in the odorous air? That little trusting hand, why does it quiver in your hand, like an imprisoned bird? That paling, dawn-flushed face, where is its composure now? That slender form, why does it tremble? Why, half-knowing she knows not what, does she look at you with eyes so strangely luminous? She is a woman, for all her sixteen years. - Deep called unto deep. You can read the whirl of thought with

in the waiting, straw-flecked head. Deep called unto deep. There's ChloeTyndaris. This is the Sabine Farm.

A kiss lays low the walls of Thee and Me. Take it, and go down. Walk home, with the sunset swallows skimming the mist-draped, bending rye.

'Eho! Eho! Eho!'

Nightfall. Milking and supper done, the table cleared, and the lamps lighted in the sitting-room, the family dispose themselves to chat and knit, but ever with an eye upon the dining-room across the hall. Dorothy has made a 'catch.' That's nothing. She's been a flirt since she was twelve, as several rural hearts can mourn.

Nine o'clock: the sitting-room is dark and silent. Ten: the tethered wild goose honks and crickets shrill. Still, by the shaded lamp, you read. She is fond of reading, apt of memory, and even knows Latin, in a way. How beautiful she is! The crimson lamp-light gilds her hair. A straw still clings. You reach and pluck it and lay it in your book. No flush, this time, betrays what now she understands. Chin in hand, across the table, steadfastly she looks at you a look that seals the kiss and hallows Swallow Barn. Translate from the pocket-copy of Horace you always carry: Felices ter, et amplius, quos irrupta tenet copula. 'Happy, yea, thrice happy, they whom the unbroken bond doth bind.'

Another week. Here yet. And still fishing. You love her. Everybody knows it. She likes you. Why does she return each night from the distant village school? It used to be only on Saturdays that she came home. She has a camera. Often, at school, behind her book hiding a tiny photograph, she will

bend her head. Her chums will know. She will give each a look at the 'stylish' outlines of her 'city' conquest. She will carry it, desirably tucked in pleasant places, until it's worn to shreds.

Gone a week. You've written twice. And, be sure, when your first letter came, the county knew it. Her sisters will tease. Bravely she will bear it. She will flash out at them, and stamp her foot: 'Yes. He does lo - like me. I'm not a bit ashamed. It's no such thing! He's not twice my age! What if he is? II even like the city!'

Then you get a letter four pages crushed into a small envelope. It is a wonder, that letter, and perfect except for legibility and orthography. (She's better at reading.) More brightly shine the occasional misspelled words than all Alaska's river-gold, than all the diamonds of the Rand. A thing of joy is that letter, telling the life of every day, the life of the farm:

cubs, down on the river shoar. I'm going to keep one. It has a little white spot in its cute little nose and its name is Tansy. I was home, Saturday and Monday. I saw a woodcock fly across the road in the pasture. Oh, it's so hot! The pewee's nest is finished building - where, I reckon you know. I send you a straw. The river is beautiful. Oh, I wish I wish you were here.

'Brother dug out two cunning little fox

'BARN ELF. (You called me that.)'

"Eho! Eho! Eho!'

She loves you. Straws show how the wind blows. Dorothy and Swallow Barn are yours, should you go back. Go back. Heed not the Wise of Earth. More are under than on it. Go back. The old farm, and its rain-torn, briary fields, will be forevermore the home of Oread, Dryad, and Faun an idyl of Sabinian days.

VATICAN POLITICS AND POLICIES

BY L. J. S. WOOD

On the 30th of July, 1904, France left the Vatican unceremoniously, just a short note from the chargé d'affaires, put on paper, but diplomatically called verbal, being all the notice of her departure. The Ambassador, M. Nisard, had been called home on leave a month before. After an interval of nearly seventeen years, on May 28, 1921, she returned, with all the éclat possible and desirable. It was Cardinal Merry del Val who put on record the now celebrated phrase that 'France was too great a lady to come up the backstairs'; and ever since the resumption of diplomatic relations has been spoken of, it has been regarded here as a sine qua non that it must be carried out in the grande manière, if at all. That has been done; and indeed all that has led up to it in France, the Committee report, the Chamber debate, the Senate opposition and delay, the suggestions of half-way resumption, with a representative in Rome but no nuncio in Paris, and, finally, M. Briand's determination, after a question had been put courteously but significantly from Rome, to carry the thing through without waiting for authorization from the Senate, - all this has enhanced the importance of the event.

By the very force of things, it had to be. Not only was the opinion of the country so manifestly in favor of it, but, after the abundant signs of good-will on the part of the Holy See, and more particularly after the honors of the altar

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given to France's St. Joan of Arc, and the honors paid to France's civil representatives last spring, not a Frenchman but would have felt that he was lacking in the noblesse obliging the 'eldest daughter of the church,' if his country had not played the game. And there can be little doubt that the opposition in the Senate all that is left of the violent prejudice of seventeen years ago will be overcome, the confirmatory vote of the French Parliament obtained, M. Briand's provisional step officially indorsed. A hundred and fifty politicians cannot oppose the clearly expressed desire of the great majority of the elected representatives and the overwhelming majority of the nation.

The way of reconciliation and collaboration is not quite clear. Obstacles remain. But diplomacy, backed by evident good-will on both sides, may be trusted to find a way round them if it cannot definitely break them down.

The status of Catholics in AlsaceLorraine has to be regularized. After the conquest in 1870, Germany prudently left them the status which, as French Catholics, they enjoyed under the Concordat of July 15, 1801, between France and the Holy See. Since 1906, therefore, while Catholics in France. have been subject to the dispositions of the Law of Separation of Church and State, those in Alsace-Lorraine have retained the status given under the old Concordat. Although they are exceedingly unwilling to resign their privileged

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