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A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP (10)

2006-09-08 20:01

    SHE

    YORK, June  High Petersgate Street.

    My taste is so bad! I just begin to realize it, and I am feeling my "growing pains," like Gwendolen in "Daniel Deronda." I admired the stained glass in the Lincoln Cathedral, especially the Nuremberg window. I thought Mr. Copley looked pained, but he said nothing. When I went to my room, I looked in a book and found that all the glass in that cathedral is very modern and very bad, and the Nuremberg window is the worst of all. Aunt Celia says she hopes that it will be a warning to me to read before I speak; but Mr. Copley says no, that the world would lose more in one way than it would gain in the other. I tried my quotations this morning, and stuck fast in the middle of the first.

    Mr. Copley says that aunt Celia has been feeing the vergers altogether too much, and I wrote a song about it called "The Ballad of the Vergers and the Foolish Virgin," which I sang to my guitar. Mr. Copley says it is cleverer than anything he ever did with his pencil, but of course he says that only to be agreeable.

    We all went to an evening service last night. Coming home, aunt Celia walked ahead with Mrs. Benedict, who keeps turning up at the most unexpected moments. She's going to build a Gothicky memorial chapel somewhere. I don't know for whom, unless it's for Benedict Arnold. don't like her in the least, but four is certainly a more comfortable number than three. I scarcely ever have a moment alone with Mr. Copley; for go where I will and do what I please, aunt Celia has the most perfect confidence in my indiscretion, so she is always en evidence.

    Just as we were turning into the quiet little street where we are lodging I said, "Oh dear, I wish that I knew something about architecture!"

    "If you don't know anything about it, you are certainly responsible for a good deal of it," said Mr. Copley.

    "I? How do you mean?" I asked quite innocently, because I couldn't see how he could twist such a remark as that into anything like sentiment.

    "I have never built so many castles in my life as since I've known you, Miss Schuyler," he said.

    "Oh," I answered as lightly as I could, "air-castles don't count."

    "The building of air-castles is an innocent amusement enough, I suppose," he said, "but I'm committing the folly of living in mine. I"

    Then I was frightened. When, all at once, you find you have something precious you only dimly suspected was to be yours, you almost wish it hadn't come so soon. But just at that moment Mrs. Benedict called to us, and came tramping back from the gate, and hooked her supercilious, patronizing arm in Mr. Copley's, and asked him into the sitting-room to talk over the "lady chapel" in her new memorial church. Then aunt Celia told me they would excuse me, as I had had a wearisome day; and there was nothing for me to do but to go to bed, like a snubbed child, and wonder if I should ever know the end of that sentence. And I listened at the head of the stairs, shivering, but all that I could hear was that Mrs. Benedict asked Mr. Copley to be her own architect. Her architect indeed! That woman ought not to be at large!

    DURHAM, July  At Farmer Hendry's.

    We left York this morning, and arrived here about eleven o'clock. It seems there is some sort of an election going on in the town, and there was not a single fly at the station. Mr. Copley walked about in every direction, but neither horse nor vehicle was to be had for love nor money. At last we started to walk to the village, Mr. Copley so laden with our hand-luggage that he resembled a pack-mule. We made a tour of the inns, but not a single room was to be had, not for that night nor for three days ahead, on account of that same election.

    "Hadn't we better go on to Edinburgh, aunt Celia?" I asked.

    "Edinburgh? Never!" she replied. "Do you suppose that I would voluntarily spend a Sunday in those bare Presbyterian churches until the memory of these past ideal weeks has faded a little from my memory? What, leave out Durham and spoil the set?" (She spoke of the cathedrals as if they were souvenir spoons.) "I intended to stay here for a week or more, and write up a record of our entire trip from Winchester while the impressions were fresh in my mind."

    "And I had intended doing the same thing," said Mr. Copley. "That is, I hoped to finish off my previous sketches, which are in a frightful state of incompletion, and spend a good deal of time on the interior of this cathedral, which is unusually beautiful." (At this juncture aunt Celia disappeared for a moment to ask the barmaid if, in her opinion, the constant consumption of malt liquors prevents a more dangerous indulgence in brandy and whiskey. She is gathering statistics, but as the barmaids can never collect their thoughts while they are drawing ale, aunt Celia proceeds slowly.)

    "For my part," said I, with mock humility, "I am a docile person who never has any intentions of her own, but who yields herself sweetly to the intentions of other people in her immediate vicinity."

    "Are you?" asked Mr. Copley, taking out his pencil.

    "Yes, I said so. What are you doing?"

    "Merely taking note of your statement, that's all.——Now, Miss Van Tyck, I have a plan to propose. I was here last summer with a couple of Harvard men, and we lodged at a farmhouse half a mile from the cathedral. If you will step into the coffee-room of the Shoulder of Mutton and Cauliflower for an hour, I'll walk up to Farmer Hendry's and see if they will take us in. I think we might be fairly comfortable."

    "Can aunt Celia have Apollinaris and black coffee after her morning bath?" I asked.

    "I hope, Katharine," said aunt Celia majestically,——"I hope that I can accommodate myself to circumstances. If Mr. Copley can secure lodgings for us, I shall be more than grateful."

    So here we are, all lodging together in an ideal English farmhouse. There is a thatched roof on one of the old buildings, and the dairy house is covered with ivy, and Farmer Hendry's wife makes a real English courtesy, and there are herds of beautiful sleek Durham cattle, and the butter and cream and eggs and mutton are delicious; and I never, never want to go home any more. I want to live here forever, and wave the American flag on Washington's birthday.

    I am so happy that I feel as if something were going to spoil it all. Twenty years old to-day! I wish mamma were alive to wish me many happy returns.

    Memoranda: Casual remark for breakfast table or perhaps for luncheon,——it is a trifle heavy for breakfast: "Since the sixteenth century and despite the work of Inigo Jones and the great Wren (not Jenny Wren-Christopher), architecture has had, in England especially, no legitimate development."

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