Library of Alexandria
Only a stretch of wide sunny road, with a tamarisk hedge and a clump of shadowy elms; a stray sheep nibbling in a grass ditch; and a brown baby asleep on a bench; beyond, low broad fields of grain whitening to harvest, and a distant film and haze—blue cloudiness, and the deep monotonous sound of the great sea. Yellow sunshine, green turf, the buoyancy of salt spray in the air; some one, trailing a white gown unheeded in the sandy dust, pauses a moment under the flickering elms to admire the scene. She is a tall, grave woman, with serious eyes and dead-brown hair, the shade of withered leaves in autumn, with a sad beautiful face. It is the face of one who has suffered and been patient; who has loved much and will love on to the end; who, from the depths of a noble, selfless nature, looks out upon the world with mild eyes of charity; a woman, yet a girl in years, whom one termed his pearl among women. Just now, standing under the elms, with her straight white folds and uncovered hair, for her sun-bonnet lay on the turf beside her, her wistful eyes looking far away seaward, one could have compared her to a Norman or a Druidical priestess under the shadow of the sacred oak; there is at once something so benignant and strong, so full of pathos, in her face and form. Low swaying of branches, then the pattering of red and yellow rain round the rough-hewn bench, the brown baby awakes and stretches out its arms with a lusty cry—a suggestive human sound that effectually breaks up the stillness; for at the same instant an urchin whittling wood in the hedge scrambles out in haste, and a buxom-looking woman steps from the porch of an ivy-covered lodge, wringing the soap-suds from her white wrinkled hands.