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A Napa Christchild; and Benicia's Letters

The lumber rafts are floating lazily down


Don't

forget my usual token to Benicia and give her the sketches, but of course no word of the girl; women never understand such things properly.

B. L. M.

JOAQUIN.

* * * * *

ON THE NICHOLAUS BERG,

22nd October 18--.

DEAR JOSE:

This morning early, I took my walk as usual to the Chapel on the hill; the day was as fine as the last three have been and I began to feel better contented with so much Californian weather to help me.

Yesterday I did not think so much of the bridge beauty but today her strange features have come to me with double vividness, and it was to escape from this that I took the walk so very early this morning. I brought my sketch-book with me and expected to pass the whole day on the hill and in the woods just beyond.

The little, old woman who sweeps away the dry leaves from the steps so ruthlessly, smiled more than usual when I gave her the customary two pfennigs. I can never understand how the poor creature wages such a heartless war against these dying leaves of Autumn;

it seems that she should have a sisterly feeling for them, knowing that she is herself so near to her own December.

The Stations of the Cross are arranged in little shrines on the many terraces which adorn the castle side of the hill; it is a pretty thought, bordering the path to the chapel with these stone pictures, most of them representing Christ's long, weary journey up Mount Calvary. There are always to be found before these shrines, people, mostly the peasantry, praying aloud, and here and there many a time I have seen them ascending the toilsome road on their knees.

What a grand view one has from the summit; the wide Valley of the Maine not yet brown, but smiling as it always does in its green beauty, far into December. The lumber rafts are floating lazily down, as it were in a dream, little thinking that in a few more hours they will have reached their journey's end, there to be broken. They are like myself somewhat, who am just as lazily, uselessly and alone wandering through life to the ending sooner or later; it is hard to go against the stream and the river is long and lovely, so I will float on just a little farther.

I made a sketch of Wuerzburg with its many spires and domes, which I enclose for Benicia, and then turned my attention to the Chapel with which I am always delighted; the frescoes in the dome are good and I never tire of sitting and looking up at them while I listen to the dull chanting of the Capuzin monks behind the iron grating to the right.

I have often had conversation with these monks whom I meet walking in the garden, and find them pleasant and entertaining, and far from being the gloomy mortals some people think them to be.

* * * * *

NICHOLAUS BERG.

Night.


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