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MELBA IN PARIS.

AT A PARISIAN MODISTE'S. THE TREASURES OF VERSAILLES. THE MARQUISE DE MARCHESI. (Specially written for The Post.) By Mrs. Malcolm Ross. j It is difficult to write of one's firstJ impressions of Paris without seeming' exaggerative and hysterical, for it is aj city of extraordinary beauty and wonderful picturesqueness. Among 1 my keenest memories are the exquisite vistas of trees — chestnuts, mostly lifting aloft .their creamy candelabra of blossom. — converging to some building or monument. The grand avenue of the Champs Ely-sees is thus blocked by the Arc de Trkwnphe, surely one of the finest memorials m the world. On a Sunday afternoon this great street is thronged with, vehicles and foot passengers, but it pales in popularity beside the Bois de Boulogne, which ie Ui« favourite rendezvous foi* all classes en a holiday. Paris under any circuinstaaices must prove, fascinating to a visitor from the Antipodes; but when one has for guide, philosopher, and friend, one who knows ncr Paris and its people as does Madame Mel'ba, the visit becomes more than doubly interesting. It was an old promise that we sbouid meet in Paris, and Madame, who foigets nothing, hearing 1 w»s in London, had telegraphed me to come over and be her guest. In the Boulvard Malesherbes — bordered by trees, mainly chestnuts in full bloom, she has a beautiful fiat, full of treasures in the way of pictures, china, old furniture-, and antiques, and the most beautiful and rare no*»ers sent by her many friends — for Madame is still a queen in Paris as she is in London. It is difficult to remember it is Sunday in Paris, for the shops are open, -the street-booths gay with flowers and vegetables, and the theatres and race-, courses are most patronised. It is the gayest day of the week. But a Parisian crowd is, in point of colouring, gloomy, ior mourning here is carried to' excess, and the women, in preference, dress in black or dark' tints. The elder women aj© rarely seen in anything but black, and the contrast between a Sydney and a French throng is thus most marked. The scarcity ot pretty women, too, is noticeable. Probably the haute noblesse are rarely seen afoot in Paris — although in London one rubs shoulders with duchesses and countesses in many of the streets where be the smart shops — but still, though these is a subtle fascination about the Parisian, and her figure and carriage are often, irreproachable, she is wanting in the fresh bloom and regular beauty of the English girl, who also ovedsLops her in point ot inches. The Parisian, however quietly she may frock herself, lets hersefr go in the way of hats, and some marvellous creations were visiWe on Sunday in the Champs Elysees, chapeaux ot enormous size, with plumes that waved over the back of the automobiles, and flowers that looked like huge bouquets. ' . I had a rather- unique opportunity of watching the methods of the Parisian modistes in one of the great ateliers, whose name on a frock is a hall-mask of smartness to women. Madame Melua was getting her gowns for the London season, and few who gaze with admiration at tho lovely dresses the great singer wears realise that the beautiful result is- only arrived at by patience, and even fatigue. For three hours that morning Madame Melba stood, while artistic and nimble fingers pinned and draped, folded and fitted. No less than fifteen dressmakers came in at different times', and once there were six hovering about a specially lovely and intricate toilette. In Paris they specialise : one woman maKes the collar, the other the sleeve, another the bodice, while a presiding personage surveys all and dispenses enthusiastic praise or eloquent blame as each is deserved. Their rapid French, aided by fluent gesture, is • charming, and their hands touch the beautiful materials with reverent daintiness. There was one thrilling moment when Madame Melba, who has the artist eye for frocks as well as the artist ear for music, undid a drapery that hung ungracefully, and the pretty head modiste re-arranged it, and waited for the verdict. She knew she had a customer who not only understood what she suited, but who resolved to get it. Several times did Madame Melba make naught of the work of their hands, and in one case a whole bodice was re-made under her directions, an immense improvement in the way of originality and grace resulting. She will submit to no artifcrary and absurd rules of fashion, and the prevailing narrow skirt — in which women toddle- and which, only yesterday, in Paris, was tho cause of a bad accident, the wearer falling as she stepped out of a motor — is anathema to her. She knows the value of unrestrained flowing lines on a stately- figure. There is magic in the fingers of the head modiste as she drapes long straight lengths of chiffon into a tunic. A touch here, a fold there, many tiny pins, and the material uncut, hangs in exquisite folds over the clinging satin. This gown was of peach bloom, with tunic of chiffon of hoftest mauve, lined with rose-colour, the sleeves and bodice draperies of chiffon, hemmed with brilliants, opening over a little triangular vest of silver and brilliant embroideries, folds of the sama embroidered chiffon falling below the narrow belt of chiffon. On each sleeve was a ribbon of closely sewn brilliants, i ending in tassels at the elbow. Another j lovely gown was of softest black satin, lined with bleu de corbeau, a peculiarly lovely and brilliant tint. It was extremely simple, the long over-skirt just allowing a hint of the colour to be seen with movement, and a broad band of gor-, geous Oriental embroideries crossing the Lodiue. One of the most noted dressmakers jn Paris is a beautiful woman, tall, very graceful, with charming features aud masse® of auburn hair. Indeed" .she has been sketched by many f ainters, and only the day we left Paris, I saw an exquisite drawing of her in one of the shops. Paris is full of fascination to a visitor, and there is not a yard where something of interest is not to be noticed. The barrows and booths, piled high with flowers, fruit, and vegetables, are a feast of artistic colour, especially when presided over by a buxom country woman, who adds her picturesque comeliness to the group. The nurses, many in their quaint national costume, too, are charming figures in the gardens and in the avenues, and the French peasant, in his blue blouse, is attractive. Very dapper and debonair, too, are the trim girls who hurry along, their beautifully-dress-ed black hair uncovered, and their black frocks marvels of fit, although of the simplest mode. It is among these that one finds the prettiest faces, regularfeatured, clear complexioned, although somewhat colourless, with lovely dark eyes and shining hair. Versailles was most enchanting, and the road to it, overhang with blossoming lilacs and shaded wiGh chestnut trees in full wealth of ivory spires of bloom, ascries of exquisite pictures, despite the.

motion like india rubber balls, and £h» exciting possibilities of an immediate and untidy death owing to the reckless driving of the other jehus. It is a. marvel that Paris is so densely peopled, considering the perils that beset the wayfarer." There are no rules of the road recognised, and where many streets converge — as in the "Places" — death may come darting on you from eight different directions, and, not having a spider's peculiar vision, you may meet a sudden and fearful fate. Even if a reckless driver does run over you, you have no claim upon him, on the contrary, he can sue you if your dislocated bones have scraped the paiut off. his cab. We saw accidents every time we went out — disabled motors, smashed traps, and broken-down wagons, but, fortunately, if " there were victims they had been re-, moved Before we came on the scene.. The authorities have tried to remedy, this. They sent policemen to London to learn of our famous police — the mode to grapple with traffic. They remained' some time, and returned to Paris primedt with knowledge. But the first man who. held up his baton and bade — like Canute — the tide stop met with as little sue-% cess as that monarch, and with a wors» fate, for they simply drove over him, and killed him— a martyr in thecaus* of law and order ! After that, a Parisian policeman probably thinks it safer not to meddle, and two friends, separated by the space of a street, may wait for ever apart before anyone would think ofi helping the one across to the other. . ft is told of an old and neryous lady that she always took a taxi to go across the street. She said it was cheaper than a, funeral ! But this is a far cry from Versailles, and,' indeed, in its beauty and peace, th« drawbacks of the twentieth century are forgotten, and we could almost believe ourselves in the romantic time of the Grand Monarque, peopling the lovely ter-. races with fair ladies in brocade an«L powdered hair, attended by nobles brilliant in satins and velvets, coquetting the sunny hours away. To the qurcb pools set in their marble borders, on which are fine statues, one goes by great flights of stone steps from tho wide terrace. Everywhere are wonderful grcraps of trees in delicate spring verdure, torf of dazzling green, and flower-beds set, like gigantic gems on emerald velvet. Beyond are more fountains, and mora trees, bluer and bluer as they reach th* horizon. The palace, too, "is full of memories, though there is little left of its luxurious appointments save some fin« tapestries, a little old furniture, and many pictures, of various degrees of merit. But the extravagant splendour of the rooms baffles description. Th» immense chandeliers of rock-crystal — some faintly tinged with purple or rosecolour — are priceless and most exquisite. The mantelpieces of carved marble, with huge dogs and andirons and cavernous fireplaces to hoid the >great fires needed in these huge rooms, are each of different magnificence, while we got sever* cricks in our necks from admiring tb» wonderful ceilings, where airy goddesses and cupids, in skies always summevblue, disported with French Kings -and Queens in cheeriest mowd. The coloari ■were brilliant, the gotd still bright, 'and much of the painting was glorious — however misplaced one might think the art. But there is no space or iame to tell -of all tlia wonders, of the great courtyard siuTounded by the stately windowed walls, and of all tire coaches and harness shown in an adjoining bunding, carriages in which Louis aand in which Napoleon sat ; sleighs quaintly made like swans and ibears, to hold the gay Court ladieson their winter drives ; and, daintiest of all, the little sedan chairs. There, was one of dark rifle green — unAecoratetl save for a gold crown or tie side, aud lined .with a faint pale shad© of silkthat was exquisitely refined, in contraaK with the gaudiness of the Nanoiedni& trappings, overhud wifch ornament. t bad the pleasure of meeting- tike Gomto de Lesseps, son of the famous.. eogkaeer, whose magnificent statue sbands^at Eocb Said, pointing out the East to-the West through the canal he accomplished by, his genius and his determination. *I also met Mr. Rupert Bunny, the clever Australian artist, who had this year pictures in the Salon and in the Royal Academy. Another interesting experience was lunching with Madame Marchesi, who, wonderfully young and. vivacious ia spite of her many years — indeed, sne i« still "un peu coquette" — dispenses stately hospitality in her large house, which. is filled with musical treasures. All are tributes to her, pictures and photograph* bearing affectionate inscriptions signed by world-famous names, and among them are many portraits of Madame Melba, whom Marchesi adores. The tie between old teacher a-nd pupil is of the sweetest, and it is touching and amusing to listen to the scraps of remdniscencee of bygone times. The old butler is himself a study. He has been in Madame Marchesi's house for yeare, # and ia as perfect in his courteous service a» with his clear-cut, clean-shaven feature* and grey hair he is charming to look at. It is a pleasant visit, and I carry; away a signed photograph of the Marquise de Marchesi, ab well as th« memory of a vivid and fascinating per* sonality. At the risk of being too prolix, I must, out of thft crowd of happy recollections, tell of two. The first was the procession of wedding parties" that passed us we came back from Versailles. It was Saturday, and the thrifty Parisian workman chooses that day to be married on so as to interfere as little as possible with his regular employment. They are married by civil law, and then come* the breakfast, whereat they eat and drink heartily. The drive through th« Bois after is an essential part of the ceremony, and it was then when we saw them. Some were all together— the happy pair, relations and guests, all cheerily blended in one laughing, singing crowd in a char-a-banc, the bride ia white veil and orange blossoms. Sometimes they all carried little sticks witi> whirling windmills of coloured paper, and waved them as they drove along, borne pair» had carnages all <o them, selves, the parents, generally stout, hot, and beaming, and the guestß, following in other vehicles. We counted twelve brides and bridegrooms in all stages o£ bliss — some rather shy, others fondly, kissing each other, with supreme disdain for the amused eyes of the world. One other memory will not soon fade. It was blue twilight in Madame's lovely boudoir, all soft dull rose-colour and ivory, and . rose-shaded lamps gave a flattering light. Mademoiselle Sassoli was flaying the harp, a charming figure in her soft white dress with its pale blue girdle; her beautiful dark hr : r and great dark eyes shone in the sew glow, and behind her rose a wonderful arrangement of blossoms— a. great rustic basket tied with flame ribbons a-nd filled with* masses of china-bhie hydrangeas, ora,ng» azaleas, and feathery foliage of.asparagus, smilax, and copper ma-Dle. It stood 1 five feet- high, and had just "arrived from Jean de Res-zke, at whose house Madame 'Melba had sung wonderfully die evening before. All — the gracious" girl figure, the glowing blossoms, the beautifnl room, the charming mueic, and the little group of entranced listeners, made up a remembrance not easily erased— one of the many that the magic word Paris conjures up for me. I " — " 1 FIGHTING A OOCR&H. Don't play with a ooW— tackle it iim moment «, cMI strikes you. Baxter's Lu~b Preserver is a famous fighter. You ca£ feel every dose relieve the coughing and know every doro i 8i 8 curing you because there is no tame los^-e-very ingredient ha« work to-do, and does k MHaldji. Adc

The cosy bar-parlour of "The Steersman," Public House, Rothesay, looked very inviting one wet evening in early iTcme'. The honr^was 1 8.30 p.m., and the' 'p&rkmr contained a select assemblage of the elite of tho officers of the varioue Clyde river steamers then in the biy, or lying at the pier for the night. This bar-parlour was the rendezvous at' a sort of informal club, com' posed of officers of the said steamers; add "vras haid sacred to their use by the landlord. The club had no actual conefcjfcnfcion or membership, but it was well xm<j«*rttood that captains, chief engin4m&, first taates, and senior pursers .■were the uoly persons eligible for admission: No officer of inferior rank dare itrtrudo himself into that sacred circle. ti he did, he was soon made to feel so unctimforteble that he would quickly retreat. In fact, he was frozen out. A cold silence was the recognised reception <£ot intruders. The eligibles always referaed to their assemblage as '"The Club;" but irreverent junior officers had 4>eah, known to refer to it as "The Munchaosec Club," chiefly because of the alleged extraordinary tales that emanated therefrom. This name, however, hardly did justice to the -members;- for many of them were men who had served Jong "outside," that is to say, outside the Firth of Clyde ; and who now sought ihe easier duties of the Clyde Passenger Tleet before going into a permanent and ■well-earned retirement. Consequently, such men had frequently stories to tell .which might sound fearful and Rubious to a junior pursuer;, but which, none the less, were founded on the teller's acjfcual experience in foreign parts. The meeting on the night in question was a full one, and conversation was brisk. Suddenly the door was flung open and admitted a tall; in fact, very tall man, well up in years', but with abodily framework speaking of enormous streugth still well maintained. The man ,was remarkable. He looked as hard as ar "nail, and he was. " He ..had' a soft" o£ fierce predatory questioning look. A, 'Bard man 'to cross, oife would say. And 4 yet, at times, his eye would soften anc\ 'his mouth relax, ansl a t droll, lovable . • •smile illumine his lined and gnaridd 'features. His 'hose was hooked; his "^ cheek bones high ; his mouth' ordinarily gfini; while his square chiii,'. adorned' .with a white goatee beard betokened a dour, determme'd nature. A seamanwould at once have recognised him. as a" 1 (typical Scotch marine engineers--' arid: ;.»uch he was. ' * ' • j 1 chtirus of welcome, greetted him. ■ "Man, M'Phedran " cried & host of Voices, "we're glad to see .y^. Give it * name, mail; give it a name." 1 "Ye're vera kind, gentlemen, , veia tind. • I'm no' sayin buiwhat am. ■ gratified to find ye can still keep' a, cor-. .ner for a dour auld' ertgineeS. Sitice, <ye're sac pressm! "U jdst.tak' a drop' o' •••'Jbnmo Walker.' " . " -. When all had settled down again, and oipes wel'e lighted^ and going well, a" bearded cap'tam said,f !l. sde ydu J vc gotten the 'Euby' out •again. M'fhedran. This'lf.be your first" day for tlie season. What's" she doing ;,wr those new feafhe'rifi' floats ?,"' "Man/* saitf M'Phedran, "she's doing grand". She's just gding to show up' "ali you boys this season. Nineteen and a, quarter knots did tte do steady, on the 1 «fowii run this night. Man, she's' ; a fairtreat. , Siia's geatid, I'ta.tetlin.' ye." "AH vera fine for yon, M'Phedran," granted Another grizzled captain. "Ye'r'e 'a-" faV&'ttrite' •tvi'^the* Bossy and ye lean iudeftt pretty well what ye like, and- get it. But ye ken oni* boss.' He's different from yonrs. Ye ask him civilly foiCßbT»6,*ftftig to 'improve -otte of the company's boats, .-and tie glowers at ye jist as if $c were askin' the -Kingdom o* Heaven for yerM-'. If ye t*y a bit argument," he- jtist shuts his mouth like a *rat-fcrap, and keeps on glowerin' at you. 1 HVs a dour man 'yon; yell ken him- ?" < ''Fjne that," said M'Phedran, "he's a mah^of few words. ■ -P think I only yinc'B kenned 'his equal in that respect, nn6T..lf&., .was, .a Son o' Sfttan. Man, a'm -no'- naturally reveng'ettt', but if there's one man whom I hope has been $fell brart&e*ea..."dm»ri'bfelow it is the tindiveednal I'm referrin' to. Ay, ay ! . *Those ware the days !' Those were the Sfrys !" v»""A- yam, a yarn," cried, the company tit ..unison. . • . , 7J' " "'Deed, I'd rather not. tell it," said ' tM'Fltedran. "It's a tale o' wickedi.'iess and sin. But,, God be mercifu' ftee me, I don't regret ma action; no, 'o iiot in one solitnry jot or tittle For £jjre see, boys, the 'man .was of the -vera '"€pawn o' Satan ; an' it'«s in my mind ' that the Almighty sort o' deputized me ' jine to removfe-him from the eaith. - Qny,^ay, Irdid remove him; and I don't i sleep any'the less sound o' niehts. But ower sad a tale for our first gatherin' in the club this season..", "^ "Ndfiit'all, man, not at all," said '.One ofjthe skippers. "Man, we'd rather "<have "one o' what ye call yer plain uncvariiished tales, than all the uanlby jmmby cheerful foolishness ever invented. So fill up your glass and your pipe, ihari; and' lets have it." „ M'Phedran filled his glass liberally as to -Whisky, and sparingly as to water. ,I?heii having got his pipe in good working order, and having tested the range »f the spittoon, he settled himself comfortably in his chair, and began his .yarn. -'. "Weel, gentlemen, though we a ken ,'i^'in' anither weel now, yet I don't think ',#ny o' ye can hae kenned anything o' mo when I was a laddie. An' my fegs, I was a laddie too ! I served a double apprenticeship, first as ship-builder, an' then as engineer. Those were hard years; and they hardened me. It pleased God to make me sort o' &econd edition o' Samson. I can say this noo '.Wi'oot vainglory, for ye all ken me as a , strong, man now.. Judge ye then L what •I was in my prime. I had quid parents ; *il' ' while" they didna spare me ' in the ihatter of hard wark, neither did they ■spare the vittles tae keep me up tae ihe mark.' 'At t\venty-f6ur years of age '•there wasna my like on all Clydeside. ..Fine I remember throwin' Big Sandy, 'the polideman, irit'ae Kingston Dock, jistAs easy as a laddie wad throw a stonc\A surprised man was Sandy. But I fished him oot again; an' we were aye quid friends thereafter. But many a night about that time 1 used to steal out jist looking for trouble. My blood ;was red in my veins; an' I was full o' the lust o' the eye and the pride o' life. Both quid things in their way, but aair misleadin'. '•But tae get on wi' my story. After this sort o' thing- had gone on for n #hilc it came to my faither s know-ledo-e that I wis settin' the whole riveraide by the ears, So, says he to me, •I'm hearin', Dugald, that ye're sma' . credit to yei mither, decettt woman, or tae me. Ye needna' blaster up. Fin© 1 ken yer feelings; and that ye rejoice in yer strength, for there's nae denying that ye're a grand build o' a man, Dugald. I wisna sac dotty at your time o' life eithei. But ye ken as weel as I dao that yer daein' nae quid here, »nd are like tae dae worse. Sac off yfe go in an ocean-going steatnet. Ye cafl work off yet suberfuious sleam on the lasca-r stokers, if «o .be as ye go East!' "Weel, sac it was determined. I had . *yB a wee bit of common sense at. the Seek o' my noddle, and weel I knew *fc&t ti>6 dia-ttsft W«6 tafcin' plain hotsb

sense. So tae sea I went. Boys, I travelled, — East and West, and North and South, — in a big tramp on a time charter. I shipped as third engineer. At Rangoon, the First died o' liver, and J moved up a peg. After anither year the Second that was, pegged out wi' fever at Bombay; and says the Skipper tae me, 'M'Phedrau,' says he, 'ye're a likely lad if ye keep away frae women an'« drink. I jaloUße ye already ken somuthin', o' both. I hae a wire here telJiu' me tae get anither Fwst engineer. Ye're young, M'Phedran : bkrt, laddie, I draw ■ tae ye. . The job's > yours. Dao mo credit. "Eh, sirs! I could have hugged that skipper. Ye see, he was a Govan man himsel'. It's no' a bad place Govan when; all's said and done. The,fun I used to hae wit he lasses on the Clyde banks : but ye a' ken. Eh ! tut tut ! I'm digressin': - "Weel, onyhow, there was I, Chief engineer, at the age o' twenty-six, o' a 7000-ton high-class cargo steamer. Yell easily understan' I was full o' good resolutions. But aye the lust o' the -eye an' the pride o' life wad attempt tae assert themselves ; but for a while I kept them sair haudden doon. "Times go bad, and freights scarce; sac we c'en had a go at the Pilgrhn trade. We knocked about from Bombay to the Persian Gulf, tho Red Sea,, and generally in such bits o' the worrld as are nearest hell. Then we. ran short o' coal, an' tried two or three ports without finding any. An' finally we got orders tae go to a God-forsaken African port, which for reasons which ye will afterwards perceive, I'll no mention by name, there tae wait a coal tramp, and tae pick up ony odds and ends o' cargo we could find. ' ''We steamed into the harbour on a Monday rtighf, and tied up tae a sort o' jetty. For a day or two my hands were full gettin' 1 the engines overhauled, and everything spick an' span. For though I may- hae been a careless liver at times, I hae aye been a- careful engineer. Well, on the Wednesday night, there being yet no sign o' the coal, I said tae the skipper that I wad jist tali' a bit daunder on. shore. " 'Right, Mac,' says he. 'But caw canny,- lad. There's a fearsome lot o' Mohammedans heiidabonts.. Also the women folk are no' canny. No' that ye can see much o' them, for they're a' muffled up. But their eyes are bonny sparklers.' ' " 'Ye can rely on me, sir/ says I, an' off I went. Man, it was fine ashore that night. It fair made me think o' Ceylon's spicy breezes; until turning a corner I ran fair and square against a black-avised Ajab. M© being heavy, and strong, and harrd, the Arab bounced offme like a gutty ball, and fell baok into the arms ot two men who were wi' him. "'Dog!' says he \ tae me, when he got on his feet. Eh, sirs! He was an angry man! ' 'Pig,' says I tae" him, by way o' repartee. -. " 'Slay/ says he tae his attendants, pointing tae me. " 'That's mair nor a- joke/ says 1,sae I jist pushed him against his servants again, an' bowled the whole three over. _ Then afore they could get up, I grippit the two attendant laddies and threw them clean ower a bit dyke at the roadside. I' was a strong man then. His Lordship, for I saw he was a big bug o' sorts, stood trembling and snarlin' for a' the world like an ill-tem-pered puppy. " 'Guid nicht tae ye/ says I,. 'and be careful how ye treat ye're betters.' An I left him scowlin' ! "I canna say that I felt jist a'thegether comfortable aboot the incident. Ye see, the man seemed to be a big pot, as Arabs go in these African ports ; and as the ship was like to be in harbour ■ for some days yet I didna want- tao dae anything {hat might mak'- things deeficult for the skipper. Howbeit the thing was done; sa© I" jist tried t^e dismiss it frae- my mind. < It wasna+harrd sac to do; for. jist then I heard 'the swe«test voice singing that I ever heard ; an' I have heard a lot. Frae Nagasaki tae Port Said I hae had truck wi' weemen, and' bonnie singers amang them. But nc human voice hae I heard. that could touch this yjn. Ye may smile, friends ; but yell no' hae much smile aboot ye when myatory.'s finished. I speak but the truth. The voice was extraordinar'. J'm naethin' o' a haud at description; ; but that voice was jist liquid sweetness ; jist the quintessence o' beautiful sounds. " 'Now,' says I to mysel', 'DugaJil, me ,lad, this is worth mair than superfeecial observation. A voice like that maim belang tae a.- beautiful, lassie ; an' that latsie 1 should weel like tae see.' Sac I took a bit, survey. a' my- surroundings. I was in abroad wi'^ white., walls on either side. I jalpused they* vrefe the walls o' houses, though deecvil. a window could I see. 'A wee hit, further alang the rood the wall wasna .sac high ; not abune fifteen feet; and I could see there was palm .trees on the ither sitje of the wall, Also there was> . a low arched doorway. A garden, thocht I, and the voice coming therefrom. Then says the voice of Wisdom to me, 'Dugald M'Phedran, get awa' .oot o'-this.- -Remember what the skipper said aboot avoidin' weemen.' 'A' verra fine/ says' I tae Wisdom, 'but a bit keek at a lassie can dae me nae harrm, nor her either.' 'Go yer . wa.ys,' says Wisdom tae me. 'An' sac I will when I've had my bit look at the lassie,' says I. Fine I kenned I should hae passed on ; but I was j'oung, boys ; only twenty-sis! ; a chief engineer, and f u' o' Dride. "Weel the end o't was that 1 gied that gate a kind o' push wi' my shoulder; and as luck would have it the bolts werena drawn. Then I found myser in a beautiful garden wi' palm trees, and all manner of shrubs and flowers. Proceedin' a bi'ttie farther along the walk and roolid a turn, 1 came suddenlike on the very centre o' i the. whole place. Man- it looked restful. There was a great big well in the middle, wi' a tort o' windlass arrangement for heavin' up the buckets. Four beautiful young palms -were arranged like corhers of a square o' which the well was the centre. An' o' these palms mair follows. But what took my ej'o" was a kind of small summer house or pavilion near the well, jist" big 'enough to be a shelter frae the sun. In the pavilion was a hammock ; an' in tlie hammock was the loveliest lassie I had ever seen ; an' I was a bit o' a judge then. Tho pavilion was sumran'ded by shrubs on all sides, save whei-e it fcieed'' 'the well and the pahns.fl The lassie saw me, an' set up a kind o' half-sfifled screech. " 'Caspim,' sayS she. 5 Ah' a black clave boy o' aboot fifteen of age came front behind the' bushes. Then she looked at me agaih, an' 1 in those days I was worth lookih' at- . "'What do you want?" says she in French. Now French wasna my strong point; but 1 hadha been knocking, aboot the East for two years wfcot getting a fair knowledge o' Arabic. Sac 1 jist, spoke up in tfiat tongue that I hod heard her voice, and felt that I must c'en Ace the owner of it. That .seemed, in a manner o' . ppeakin' tae pleas© her. Weeraen are aye fond o' flattery. An' when T went on. to say in flowery Arabic that the beauty o' the . voice -.was surpassed only by the b#allty o' its possessor, a blush spread Over her face, Sod she suddenly remsmbered she was iinVfeited* ah' dropped h«r yell. Maai it

was as if the sun had gon«-ont, a-n' left the worrld dark. " 'You must go away at one©,' says she. 'At any moment, my Lord may Teturn, and he is terrible in his wrath.' |" 'l'm a little that way mysel'/ says I, drawin' myself up. I saw fine I hafl made an impression. 'But I should be sorry to incommode a lady, sac Til jist be going, wi' apologies for my intrusion,' and away I went. "I haidna gotten abunne three hundred yards frae the gate when I met my scowlin' Arab friend, and his two damaged retainers. Eh, sirs ! The look he gave me ! f " 'Giaour !' said he. 'Heathen !' says I. . "An' we went oor several ways. "When I got back tae the ship, says the fkipper tae me. " 'Man, Dugald, I'm glad tae see ye back. I've had a kind o' preemoneetion o' trouble- no' unconneckit wi' weemen. 1 hope ye,went slow ashore. Ye ken we mustn't' hao ony trouble wit he natives; at least no'- until the coal's aboard.' " 'Right y are, sir,' says I. 'Coal first, weemen after, if need be.' An' I turned into my bunk. But no' to sleep. I couldna get that girl's face oot o' my mind's eye ; and 1 kept hearin' her voice, in a manner so tae .speak. In fac', I thought o' her all night, and the most o' next day ; an' the evenin' found me ashore again, wi' a capstan bar for companion. These African gentry are maleecious, regengefu' deevils; and if I was tae be attacked I was minded tae leave my mark on some o' them. "Weel, Providence spiled a great tactitian when he made me art. engineer. I had mair sense than tae approach that garden twice frae the same pint o' the compass. Sac I made a wide detour, an' opened investigations frae the opposite side o' the place. It's ineself was the lucky man ! * I found anither gate, but it was fast bolted an' barred. But lyin' near was a bole o' timber, which served my purpose. 'Twas a big bit o" wud ; but I was a big man, an' had tossed the caber wit he best, .in my time. Sac after a wee bit manoeuvring I got it up on end, and then laid slantwise against the wall jist where I could see the top o' a bush wad screen me from observation. I shinned up in a meenute, an' had a fine view o' thing"-. For there was the lassie, there was Cassim, and—preserve vs — there was my laconic and scowlin' friend, the Arab. " 'Ma cestie,' says I. 'If ye're wise, Dugald, me lad, yell get back tae the ship. I can see trouble if ye hover round this nest, my man!' And it's like I would have gone ; but jist at that moment out comes a servant an' summons his maeter tae the house. Onv•way, he got up an' went, and afore I kenned what I was doing me an' 4ny trusty capstan bar were in the garden and beside the well, an' I was gazing enraptured at that lassie again. My! How I gazed ! There never was her like before, or since. An' she seemed mair frightened than vexed. "'Oh! Ye mustnit come here," she whispered. " 'Heart's desire, I canna help myeelf,' says I, in my best flowery Arabic. " 'My Lord will surely have you slain/ says she. " 'It's worth . riskin',' says I. An' from that we progressed favourably, for I was an ardent man in those days. She set Cassin ta-e watch the house; and we conversed tae- oor mutual edification for half-ati-hour. Then she sent me away ; and I went without argybargying. For I kenned it was her life, as weel as mine, if we were yinco found out. Sac we arranged that next night young Cassim should let me in, as the bole o' wood might betray me if I left it against the wall. An' I thocht it judicious to maik' Cassin a present o' my sheath knife ; and thereby I made a friend. "Yell believe me I went back tae the ship treadin' on air ; an' thinkin' .V nothin' but seem' my lassie again on the next night. But when I got on board, says the officer o' the_ watch tae me, 'The Old Man s entertaining company in his cabin, and wishes the pleasure o' yer society.' He gave a kind of oddlike smile when he «aid it that made me wonder what waa up. However, tae the Bkipper's cabin I went, aft' — ye could have knocked me down wi' a feather — there was the skipper crackin' with that pestilential Arab, as happy as ye pleaso. But when the Arab saw me, man, his eyes jist shot fire. ""'Begone!' he yells, but 1 took no notice. "Tho skipptr looked puzzled. '* 'This is the Sheikh Ibrahim,' says he tee me. 'An this is my chief engineer, Sheikh. Tho Sheikh is giving me some cargo, Mr. M'Phedran, an' he wants to. know how soon we can sail? Ye may have observed the collier is in the harbour. ' " 'If she is a well-equipped ship/ says I, 'w-e can coal in three days.' " 'Right,' says the Old Man. 'Can ye have your cargo on board in three days, Sheikh? 1 '.' 'If Allah wills/ says he, getting up tae go. An' out he went scowlin' at me, and muttering tae himself. "When he was gone, says the Old Man : 'D'y« ken him?' " 'Fine that,' says I. "'He doesna love ye/ saj-s the skippar. " 'Deil a fear/ says I, "The coaling J>eg£ next morning, and went on all day. An Arab heaver bumped against me as I was standing by the main cargo hatch, an' if I hadna managed tae grip « rope I had been lyin' wi' broken neck at the foot o' the hold. "A wee while after, a big lump o'i coal from nowhere in particular whizzed past my ear. 'Twould have been ill for me if it had hit me; an' worse for the man who threw, it, if I could hae seen him. But deevil a bit o' him could I sue. All the Arab porters seemed as busy as bees. I didna like it. It reminded me o' Ibrahim. But the work went on without further incident ; and at length wo stopped for the day. I had a clean-up and my tea, and went off , to see Nouraysha, for that was the ! lassie's name. All went well that evening. She told me she had been married to Ibrahim for a year, an' that his temper was awful, and his treatment cruel, j Her beautiful arms were covered with bruises ; and twice he had scourged her. I would have wrung his neck if he had come between us then. But I didn't just, ken what to dae. I wanted the lassie ; and I couldn't stand the thocht o' that brute ill-treating her. On the ither hand she was his wife. But I didna set much store by heathen rej ligious services. She was almost white ; I dwina ken what her parentage was. But she was just beauty itself ,and her nature all •sunshku?. I left her that night, sayin' I would think out a plan fot her .escape wi' me ; and 1 made for the ship. I was gropin' doon the quay in the dark when a man sprang oot of the shadows and made at me wi' a ktn'fe. By the mercy o' God he caught his foot on a rope an' fell, an' afore he could get up I had him. "By whose command do ye this thing?" says I. "At first he wouldna answer. But I tried a little peaceful persuasion, and presently sa>ys he : • " 'Twas the order of the Sheikh Ibrahim.' " 'Weel,' says I, 'gang yer ways and tell him he's a mnrderin' blaguard.' An' wi' that I threw him into tho harbour, and went on to the ship. "'Did ye hear a splash?' says the watch tae me. " 'No,' says I, and turned in. "Next day the. coalin' went on again i an* sb I was standin 1 neat the foremast

talkin* tae the skipped" there was a whiz and a thud, and a dagger was stickin' in the mast. The skipper looKed at it, an' at me. Says he : " 'Sheikh Ibrahim didna seem vera pleased tae see ye last night. I miscloot this is one o' his callin' cards. How hae ye angered the man?' "So I tell't him how I had knocked his Mightiness over by accident; but I said no worrcl about Nouraysha. For I kenned the skipper would hne given no help. In fact, he would likely hae stopped the whole business. " 'Weel,' say& he, 'jist you keep below till this coalin' is done wi,' for I canna afford tae sacrifice my chief engineer tae an Arab's injured dignity.' "So I went below an' kept mysel' busy aboot the engines a' day. But at night I was away tao Nouraysha as soon a; the skipper's back was turned. That night we arranged everything for the flight. Cassim and Nouraysha were to come down tae the quay after dark tho night before we sailed in the mornin'. I wad hae tae tell my second ; but he was*, a kindly lad frae Partick, an' would dae onything for me. "So that night I was as happy as a King, a-nd I didn't stay ower long wi' NouTaysha. We didna wish tao risk discovery, and we hoped tae enjoy each other's company for the rest o' our lives. Sac I went off early, skirting through the bushes and out at the gate furthest fra© the honse. One o' the bushes' gave me a sort o' tug in passin', but I hardly noticed it. But when I was half-way ta& the harbour who should I meet again but Ibrahim. " 'Accursed,' says he, spitting on the ground. " 'Then there's twa o' us,' says I, also spittin', an' no' vera particular where 1 spat. He didna say anither word ; but he glared like a Warlock, and went his way. "That night I told my second all the story ; an' as I expected, he agreed tae help me through. Sac I reported tae the skipper that all was ready in my department; an' as the cargo was to be all on board the next day, he said he should leave at six the mornin' after. Then I told the second ro have all ready for the start twelve hours earlier if need be, an' I settled down to wait. "Waitin' is a hard business in a matter o' this kind, and the hours simply crawled along. I got through the night somehow, but the day was worse. I saw the skipper eyeing me whiles as if he suspected something wrong. But as I didna go ashore he said nothin'. Mayhap he thocht he was mistaken. The loadin' went on , all mornin' ; and after the heat o' the day we were jist tidying up when one o' the men says tae me : " 'There's an Arab boy wantin' tae speak wi' ye, sir.' "Atyince I had mind o' Cassim, an' my heart fell. An' sure enough it was Cassim, an' a bonnie sight he was. His face was like death. He shook like an aspen. An' his back clothes were a' blood. "I took him to my cabin, for he was near faintin', and I poured some brandy into him. It worked ; an' he gasped out. " 'My Lord Ibrahim knows. He found your handkerchief on one of the bushes in the garden. Me has he tortured ; and oven now tortures my mistress, and belike will kill her." "For one moment my heart fair stopped. Then wi' a queer kind of calmness I says : "'Where is this thing done?' "Says he, .'At the well.' Then he fainted. So I called the second. Says I, 'Get the steward tae attend te the laddie, he's bee-n sair mishandled. An' do you get a" ready tao start as soon as I return. Wait the.' now till I'm off the ship, and then tell, the skipper that there's life an', death in it.' "Wi' that I shaved a revolver in my pouch, grabbed my capstan bar, an' set off for the garden as hard as I could go. "I didna stand on ony ceremony, bufc jist pit my bole o' wood against the wall, and- was up it like a cat. • God ! The sight tliat met my eyes. There was Ibrahim an' his two attendant friends ; an' there — sorrow the day — was Nouraysha. The devils had tied ropes to the tops o' the four palm trees an' bent them down till the tops were half-way to the ground. The ropes holding the trees were so arranged that by cutting a single rope the trees would be released an' wquld spring back to their usual position. But thft horror o' the thing was that by anither set o' ropes one of Nouraysha 's limbs was fastened to each tree. These ropes were slack when I first looked ; but it was easy to see that the moment the ropeholding the_ trees was severed the puir doomed lassie would be torn to pieces by the spring o' tho trees. In a second I was over tho wall an' rac-in' towards the two slaves for a life dearer than my own. If I could but reach them before the rope was cut I might yet save her. But it was not to be. The slaves had their backs tao me, but the arch-fiend, Ibrahim, saw me comin'. " 'Cut,' he shonted. A scimitar Hashed. The tree sprang up. There was a horrible rending sound. With a roar, I seized those two slaves an' smashed their skulls together. My strength was the strength of Samson, an' their heads were like crushed eggs. Ibrahim came at me with his scimitar, but I hurled the body of one slave at him an' knocked him to the ground. Then, seizing him by the feet, I swung him round my head as a man swings the hammer. " 'Allah !' he cried. ""Tae Hell !' said I, an' hurled him crashing down the well. For the time ye might count four I listened. Then there was a splash. "For a moment I stood bewildered. Then I looked at the palm trees, an' wi' a cry o' horror I rushed frae the place. It was a wild, demented kind o' man that reached the steamer — a stark an' bloody man. The skipper asked no questions, but proceeded to sea wi'out delay. An' when I next really came to mysel' we were fairly half-way home, an' I was in my bunk wi' Cassim tae attend tae me. Puir laddie, he died o' a chill when he got tae London. "But lookin' back I try to hope that Nouraysha was unconscious at the end Leastways, she gave no cry, an' it was a swift death. But the thocht o' Ibrahim even at this time ayo raises my passion. It's a carious thing though, if ye conseeder it, that man hated mefrom our first meetin', though little expectin' how our acquaintanceship would end. An', furthermore, he, at np time, addressed mair nor one word tue me at ony o' our meetings. Yell agree, he was a man o' few words; laconic, ye inicht say — ay, vera laconic." The big grizzled engineer drained his glass. "I'm thinkin' I've spoiled yer Evenin' for ye, gentlemen. But I'm like the Ancient Mariner. I feel I maun get that story off my cnest whiles. I'll bid ye good-night." And he stalked slowly from the room.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19100806.2.107

Bibliographic details

MELBA IN PARIS., Evening Post, Volume LXXX, Issue 32, 6 August 1910

Word Count
7,763

MELBA IN PARIS. Evening Post, Volume LXXX, Issue 32, 6 August 1910

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