Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/222

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210
A GRANDEE'S HOME.

eaves; but from the eaves to the comb of the mighty roof was as much as forty feet, or maybe even more. This roof was of ancient mud-colored straw thatch a foot thick, and was covered all over, except in a few trifling spots, with a thriving and luxurious growth of green vegetation, mainly moss. The mossless spots were places where repairs had been made by the insertion of bright new masses of yellow straw. The eaves projected far down, like sheltering, hospitable wings. Across the gable that fronted the road, and about ten feet above the ground, ran a narrow porch, with a wooden railing; a row of small windows filled with very small panes looked upon the porch. Above were two or three other little windows, one clear up under the sharp apex of the roof. Before the ground-floor door was a huge pile of manure. The door of a second-story room on the side of the house was open, and occupied by the rear elevation of a cow. Was this probably the drawing-room? All of the front half of the house from the ground up seemed to be occupied by the people, the cows and the chickens, and all the rear half by draft animals and hay. But the chief feature, all around this house was the big heaps of manure.

We became very familiar with the fertilizer in the Forest. We fell unconsciously into the habit of judging of a man's station in life by this outward and eloquent sign. Sometimes we said "Here is a poor devil, this is manifest." When we saw a stately accumulation, we said, "Here is a banker" When we encountered a country seat surrounded by an Alpine pomp of manure, we said, "Doubtless a Duke lives here."

The importance of this feature has not been properly magnified in the Black Forest stories. Manure is evidently the Black Forester's main treasure,—his coin, his jewel, his pride, his Old Master, his keramics, his bric-a-brac, his darling, his title to public consideration, envy, veneration, and his first solicitude when he gets ready to make his will. The true Black Forest novel, if it is ever written, will be skeletoned somewhat in this way: