A Fellowe and his Wife

XII

FROM THE COUNTESS TO COUNT VON JAROMAR.

Palazzo Malaspina,
December 3
.

WHAT a charming surprise! Imagine it, Odo. My little room is full of flowers - roses, roses, roses; red, white, and yellow. I came in out of the glare, for it is a sirocco day, after \an early stroll on the Pincio, and here I am, like a nested bird -the only difference being that if I were a bird, I would sing out my small soul right blithely, while, as it is, I only hum to myself that dear, sleepy, humdrum, altogether delightful nursery song we used to sing as children on Sunday evenings at Jaromar,

"O schöne, schöne Blümchen,
Ein Blümchen auch mein Herz!"

Ah, human angels, as Jean Paul says, have no grand names ; though, indeed, Röhrich is not such a bad name even for an angel. What kind friends they are! I know how it is. I happened to say at dinner last night that I loved roses at all times, of course, but that at the approach of winter I loved them tenfold. And these are such beautiful ones. I wonder where the Röhrichs got them. Those yellow blooms are Fiori di Monica, exquisite things with an indescribable fragrance, that are said to grow in August in the Pope's gardens beyond the Alban Lake. Flowers do make me so happy. I have a charming idea: I. shall carve two lovely little ivory figures, one Rose, and the other Lily, and make each the very spirit of the flower it stands for. What a joy it will be to me to do this. But I am not going to restrict myself to carving in ivory. Next week I am to model, under Herwegh's tuition, on a large scale. The other day I was driving with my friend on the Campagna, beyond the Porta Furba, and some miles out, just where the Claudian aqueduct sinks like a reef in an in-coming tide, I noticed, under a broken arch, the loveliest boy I have ever seen. He was a young shepherd, and was clad in goatskin; but his legs were bare, and his brown throat. His large black eyes were ever so much lovelier than those of Lucrezia Mallerini, and he had that thickly clustered black hair which is so like the heavy masses of the fruit of the hedge-ivy. He rose slowly, stretched himself, gave a long, shrill cry to his scraggy sheep, and then moved out of sight behind one of the aqueduct's ruined arches. I heard him singing softly to himself as he went, and could just catch ---

O bell - l - la!

B'la - a . . . tal - ya - a

E'ssima . . . "

and then, with a sudden, deeper note---

"Al  mio, al mio, al mio cuore!"

And he certainly went to my heart, the beautiful boy. I tell you all this because I have decided to model a life-size statue of him, as I saw him when he had risen, and had thrown back his head with a panther-like grace, while he gave his strange shepherding cry. Herwegh has undertaken to secure him for me as a model; I hope he may be successful. If so, I shall begin next Monday, and at Herwegh's studio, of course. I am so excited about it. If I succeed in modeling in the clay in life-size, I shall make a replica in terra-cotta to send to the Salon in Paris ! No ! I am not yet an Immortal condescending to a Mortal ! Now, don't laugh, Odo; for though I am laughing myself at my own folly, I wish you to sympathize with me with all your heart and soul.  I have stopped writing for five minutes, and what do you think for? I could not resist those roses. I have made a wreath of those deep crimson ones, the Hearts o' Love, and  crowned myself therewith, and I have pinned the Fiori di Monica in clusters about my neck till I am like another Clytie; and as for the others, each as lovely and fragrant as though this were the birthday of June, here they are all lying in my lap in the most delicious confusion. My lips are wet with their cool dew. Ah, I must sing you that wild Spanish song I promised to translate for you. I have learned the native tune of it, a strange, half-savage lifting, falling, rising kind of chant, wilder than the words. It is gypsy music, and one can hear their fierce pulse beating through the haunting melody, so unlike anything I know.

"Roses, roses,
Yellow and red;
A rose for the living,
A rose for the dead !
Who"ll sip their dew ?
There are only a few
Of the yellow and red;
Youth sells its roses
Ere youth is sped.

"Roses, roses,
All for delight;
What of the night ?
Hark, the tramp, tramp,
The scabbard's clamp,
The flaring lamp!
Where is the morning dew ?
Ah, only a few
Drank ere the yellow and red
Lay shriveled, shriveled,
Over the dead.

"Roses, roses,
Buy,oh,buy!
The years fly,
'T is the time of roses.
Here are posies
For one and all,
For lovers that sigh
And for lovers that die
And for love's pall
And burial!

" Roses, roses, roses, buy, buy, oh, buy!
Why delay, why delay, roses also die.
Pink and yellow, blood-red, snow-white.
Roses for dayspring, roses for night!

"Buy, buy, oh, my roses buy!
A kiss for a kiss, and a sigh for a sigh!

There, now, if you do not say something nice to me for that, I shall never, never sing to you again!

Addio, dear Odo; I am so happy. How I love Rome!

Ever your affectionate

ILSE.

P. S. I forgot to say that I now see my way to keeping myself! Besides, I see how I can reduce my expenses by at least four lire a day. I have made an arrangement at a Trattoria in the Via Capo le Case close by. Lilien Röhrich, who has just looked in, is amused at my carefulness. She says I shall make a capital Hausfrau.!   What do you say to that, Odo ? I must close ; I am going out with her. She envies me my wealth of roses, and can't think where they come from. In this mystery I am going to fall back on His Holiness the Pope!

A good thick letter from you has this moment come. I cannot stop to open it, for Lilien is waiting.

 

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