Against the Grain/Chapter XI
THE terrified domestics hurried off in search of the Fontenay doctor, who did not understand one word of Des Esseintes' condition. He muttered sundry medical terms, felt the invalid's pulse and examined his tongue, tried in vain to make him speak, ordered sedatives and rest, promised to come back next day, and on Des Esseintes shaking his head,—he had regained strength enough to disapprove his servant's zeal and send the intruder about his business,—took his departure and went off to describe to every inhabitant of the village the eccentricities of the house, the furniture and appointments of which had struck him with amazement and frozen him where he stood.
To the astonishment of the servants, who dared not stir from their quarters, their master recovered in a day or two, and they came upon him drumming on the window-panes and gazing up anxiously at the sky.
One afternoon, the bells rang a peremptory summons, and Des Esseintes issued orders that his trunks were to be got ready for a long journey.
While the old man and his wife were selecting, under his superintendence, such articles as were necessary, he was pacing feverishly up and down the cabin of his dining-room, consulting the time tables of steamers, going from window to window of his study, still scrutinizing the clouds with looks at once of impatience and satisfaction.
For a week past the weather had been atrocious. Sooty rivers pouring unceasingly across the grey plains of the heavens rolled along masses of clouds that looked like huge boulders torn up from the earth.
Every few minutes storms of rain would sweep down and swallow up the valley under torrents of wet.
But that day the firmament had changed its aspect. The floods of ink had dried up, the rugged clouds had melted; the sky was now one great flat plain, one vast watery film. Little by little this film seemed to fall lower, a moist haze wrapped the face of the land; no longer did the rain descend in cataracts, as it had the day before, but fell in a continuous drizzle, fine, penetrating, chilling, soaking the garden walks, churning up the roads, confounding together earth and sky. The daylight was darkened, and a livid gloom hung over the village now transformed into a lake of mud speckled by the rain-drops that pitted with spots of silver the muddy surface of the puddles. In the general desolation, all colour had faded to a drab uniformity, leaving only the roofs glittering with wet above the lifeless hues of the walls.
"What weather!" sighed the old servant, depositing on a chair the clothes his master had called for, a suit ordered some time before from London.
The only answer Des Esseintes vouchsafed was to rub his hands and take his stand before a glass-fronted bookcase in which a collection of silk socks was arranged in the form of a fan. He hesitated a while over the best shade to choose, then rapidly, taking into consideration the gloom of the day and the depressing tints of his coat and trousers, and remembering the object he had in view, he selected a pair of drab silk and quickly drew them on. Next he donned lace-up, brogued, shooting boots; put on the suit, mouse-grey with a check of a lighter grey and whitey spots, clapped a little round hat on his head, threw an inverness-cape round his shoulders, and followed by his servant staggering under the weight of a trunk, a collapsible valise, a carpet bag, a hat-box and a travelling rug wrapped round umbrellas and sticks, he made for the railway station. Arrived there, he informed the domestic that he could fix no definite date for his return, that he might be back in a year's time, next month, next week, sooner perhaps, gave orders that nothing should be changed or moved in the house during his absence, handed over the approximate sum required to keep up the establishment, during his absence, and got into the railway carriage, leaving the old fellow dumbfounded, arms dangling and mouth wide open, behind the barrier beyond which the train got into motion.
He was alone in his compartment; a blurred, murky landscape, looking as if seen through the dirty water of an aquarium, whirled past the flying, rain-splashed train. Buried in his thoughts, Des Esseintes closed his eyes.
Once more, this solitude he had so ardently desired and won at last had resulted in poignant distress; this silence that had once appealed to him as a consolation for all the fools' chatter he had listened to for years, now weighed upon him with an intolerable burden. One morning, he had awoke as frenzied in mind as a man who finds himself locked up in a prison cell; his trembling lips moved to cry out, but no sound came, tears rose to his eyes, he felt choked like one who has been sobbing bitterly for hours.
Devoured by a longing to move, to see a human face, to talk with a fellow human being, to mingle with the common life of mankind, he actually asked his servants to stay with him, after summoning them to his room on some pretext or other. But conversation was impossible; besides the fact that the two old people, bowed and bent under the weight of years of silence and broken in to the habits of sick-nurses, were next door to dumb, the distance which Des Esseintes had always maintained between himself and his dependents was not calculated to make them anxious to unclose their lips. Their brains, too, had grown sluggish and inert, and refused to supply more than monosyllabic answers to any questions they might be asked.
There was nothing therefore to be hoped for from them in the way of relief or solace. But now a fresh phenomenon came to pass. The reading of Dickens which he had in the first instance carried out with the object of composing his nerves, but which had produced just the opposite effect to what he had looked for in the matter of benefitting his health, now began to act little by little in an unexpected direction, inducing visions of English life over which he sat pondering for hours; gradually into these fictitious reveries came creeping notions of turning them into a positive reality, of making an actual voyage to England, of verifying his dreams, engrafted on all which was further a growing wish to experience novel impressions and so escape the divagations of a mind dizzied with grinding, grinding at nothing, which had so disastrously sapped his strength.
Then the abominable weather with its everlasting fog and rain helped on his purpose, confirming as it did what he remembered from his reading, keeping constantly before his eyes a picture of what a land of mist and mud is like, and in this way focussing his ideas and holding them to their original starting point.
He could resist no more, and one day had quite suddenly made up his mind. So great was his hurry to be off that he fled precipitately, impatient to be done with his present life, to feel himself hustled in the turmoil of a crowded street, in the crush and bustle of a railway station.
"I can breathe now," he said to himself as the train slowed down in its dance and came to a halt in the rotunda of the Paris terminus of the Sceaux Railway, its last pirouettes accompanied by the crashes and jerks of the turn-tables.
Once out in the street, on the Boulevard d'Enfer, glad to be encumbered as he was with his trunks and rugs, he hailed a cabman. By the promise of a generous pourboire he soon came to an understanding with the man of the drab breeches and red waistcoat. "By the hour"; he ordered, "drive to the Rue de Rivoli and stop at the office of Galignani's Messenger"; his idea was to purchase before starting a Baedeker's or Murray's Guide to London.
The conveyance blundered off, throwing up showers of mud from the wheels. The streets were like a swamp; under the grey sky that seemed to rest on the roofs of the houses, the walls were dripping from top to bottom, the rain-gutters overflowing, the pavements coated with mud of the colour of gingerbread in which the passers-by slipped and slid. On the side-walks, as the omnibuses swept by, people would stop in crowded masses, and women, kilted to the knees and bending under sodden umbrellas, would press against the shop windows to escape the flying mire.
The wet was coming in at the windows; so Des Esseintes had to put up the glass, which the rain streaked with little rivulets of water, while clots of mud flew like a firework in all directions from the moving vehicle. To the monotonous accompaniment of the storm beating down with a noise like a sack of pears being shaken out on his luggage and the carriage roof, Des Esseintes dreamed of his coming journey; it was already an instalment on account of rainy London he was now receiving at Paris in this dreadful weather; the picture of a London, fog-bound, colossal, enormous, smelling of hot iron and soot, wrapt in a perpetual mantle of smoke and mist, unrolled itself before his mind's eye. Vistas of endless docks stretched farther than eye could see, crowded with cranes and capstans and bales of merchandise, swarming with men perched on masts, a-straddle across ship's yards, while on the quays myriads of others were bending, head down and rump in air, over casks which they were storing away in cellars.
All this activity he could see in full swing on the riverbanks and in gigantic warehouses bathed by the foul, black water of an imaginary Thames, in a forest of masts, in vast entanglements of beams piercing the wan clouds of the loweringfirmament, while trains raced by, some tearing full steam across the sky, others rolling along in the sewers, shrieking out horrid screams, vomiting floods of smoke through the gaping mouths of wells, while along every avenue and every street, buried in an eternal twilight and disfigured by the monstrous, gaudy infamies of advertising, streams of vehicles rolled by between marching columns of men, all silent, all intent on business, eyes bent straight ahead, elbows pressedto the sides.
Des Esseintes shuddered deliciously to feel himself lost in this terrible world of men of business, in this isolating fog, in this incessant activity, in this ruthless machine grinding to powder millions of the poor and powerless, whom philanthropists urged, by way of consolation, to repeat verses of the Bible and sing the Psalms of David.
Then, in a moment, the vision vanished as the vehicle gave a jolt that made him jump on the seat. He looked out of the window. Night had fallen; the gas lamps were winking through the fog, each surrounded by a dirty yellow halo; ribands of fire swam in the puddles and seemed to circle round the wheels of the carriages that jogged on through a sea of liquid, discoloured flame. He tried to see where he was, caught sight of the Arc du Carrousel, and in an instant, without rhyme or reason, perhaps simply from the reaction of his sudden fall from the high regions where his imagination had been roaming, his thoughts fell back on a quite trivial incident he now remembered for the first time,—how, when he stood looking on at his servant packing his trunks, the man had forgotten to put in a tooth-brush among his other toilet necessaries. Then he mentally reviewed the list of objects included; yes, they had all been duly arranged in his portmanteau, but the annoyance of this one omission pursued him obstinately till the coachman pulled up his horse and so broke the current ofhis reminiscences and regrets.
He was now in the Rue de Rivoli, in front of Galignani's Messenger. On either side of a door of frosted glass, the panels covered with lettering and hung with Oxford frames containing cuttings from newspapers and telegrams in blue wrappers, were two broad windows crammed with books and albums of views. He came nearer, attracted by the look of these volumes, some of them in paper covers, butcher's-blue and cabbage-green, lavishly decorated with gold and silver patterning, others bound in cloth of various colours, carmelite blue, leek green, goose yellow, current red, cold tooled on back and sides with black lines. All this had an anti-Parisian touch, a mercantile flavour, more vulgar but yet less cheap and tawdry than the way the book-hawkers' wares are got up in France; here and there, among open albums showing comic scenes by Du Maurier and John Leech or chromos of mad gallops across country by Caldecott, appeared a few French novels, tempering this riot of discordant colours with the plain and soothing commonplace of their yellow backs.
At last, tearing himself away from this display, he pushed open the door and entered a vast library, crowded with people. Foreign females sat examining maps and jabbering remarks to one another in strange tongues. A clerk brought Des Esseintes a selection of guide-books. He, too, sat down and fell to turning over the volumes, whose flexible covers bent between his fingers. He glanced through them, but was presently arrested by a page of Baedeker describing the London Museums. His interest was roused by the brief, precise details supplied by the Guide; but it was not long before his attention wandered from the works of the old English painters to those of the new school which appealed to him more strongly. He recalled certain examples he had seen at International Exhibitions, and he thought that very likely he would see them again in London,—pictures by Millais, the "Eve of St. Agnes," with its moonlight effect of silvery green; pictures by Watts, with their strange colouring, speckled with gamboge and indigo; works sketched by a Gustave Moreau fallen sick, painted in by a Michael Angelo gone anaemic, and retouched by a Raphael lost in a sea of blue. Among other canvases he remembered a "Cure of Cain," an "Ida," and more than one "Eve," wherein, under the weird and mysterious amalgamation of these three masters, lurked the personality, at once complex and essentially simple, of an erudite and dreamy Englishman, unfortunately haunted by a predilection for hideous tones.
All these pictures came crowding into his head at once. The shopman, surprised to see a customer sitting at a table lost in a brown study and quite oblivious of his surroundings, asked him which of the Guides he had chosen. Des Esseintes looked up in a dazed way, then, with a word of excuse for his absence of mind, purchased a Baedeker and left the shop. The cold wind froze him to the bone; it was blowing crosswise, lashing the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli with a pelting rain. "Drive there," he cried to the cabman, pointing to a shop at the end of a section of the arcade standing at the corner of the street he was in and the Rue de Castiglione. With its shining panes lighted from within, it looked like a gigantic lantern, a beacon fire amid the perils of the fog and the horrors of the vile weather.
It was the "Bodega." Des Esseintes stood wondering to find himself in a great hall that ran back, like a broad corridor, the roof carried by iron pillars and lined along the walls on either side with tall casks standing up-ended on stocks.
Hooped with iron, and having round their waist a miniature line of battlements resembling a pipe-rack in the notches of which hung tulip-shaped glasses upside down, with a hole drilled in the lower part in which was fixed an earthenware spigot, these barrels, blazoned with a Royal shield, displayed on coloured cards the name of the vintage each contained, the amount of liquor they held and the price of the same, whether by the hogshead, in bottle, or by the glass.
In the passage-way left free between these rows of casks, under the gas jets that flared noisily in a hideous chandelier painted iron-grey, ran a long counter loaded with baskets of Palmer's biscuits, stale, salty cakes, plates piled with mince-pies and sandwiches, hiding under their greasy wrappers great blotches of miniature mustard-plasters. Beside this stood a double row of chairs extending to the far extremity of this cellar-like room, lined all along with more hogsheads having smaller barrels laid across their tops, these last lying on their sides and having their names and descriptions branded with a hot iron in the oak.
A reek of alcohol assailed his nostrils as he took a seat in this room where so many strong waters were stored. He looked about him. Here, the great casks stood in a row, their labels announcing a whole series of ports, strong, fruity wines, mahogany or amaranth coloured, distinguished by laudatory titles, such as"Old Port," "Light Delicate," "Cockburn's Very Fine," "Magnificent Old Regina"; there, rounding their formidable bellies, crowded side by side enormous hogsheads containing the martial wine of Spain, the sherries and their congeners, topaz coloured whether light or dark,—San Lucar, Pasto, Pale Dry, Oloroso, Amontillado, sweet or dry.
The cellar was crammed. Leaning his elbow on the corner of a table, Des Esseintes sat waiting for the glass of port he had ordered of a "gentleman" busy opening explosive sodas in egg-shaped bottles that reminded one, on an exaggerated scale, of those capsules of gelatine and gluten which chemists use to mask the taste of certain nauseous drugs.
All round him were swarms of English,—ungainly figures of pale-faced clergymen, dressed in black from head to foot, with soft hats and monstrously long coats decorated down the front with little buttons, shaven chins, round spectacles, greasy hair plastered to the head; laymen with broad pork-butcher faces and bulldog muzzles, apoplectic necks, ears like tomatoes, wine-sodden cheeks, bloodshot, foolish eyes, beards and whiskers joining in a collar like some of the great apes. Further off, at the far end of the wine-shop, a tall, thin man like a string of sausages, with towy locks and a chin adorned with straggling grey hairs like the root of an artichoke, was deciphering with a microscope the small print of an English newspaper; more to the front, a sort of American commodore, short and stout and round-about, with a smoke-dried complexion and a bottle nose, sat half asleep, a cigar stuck in the hairy orifice of his mouth, staring at the placards on the walls advertising champagnes, the trademarks of Perrier and Roederer, Heidsieck and Mumm, and a hooded monk's head with the name in Gothic lettering of Dom Pérignon, Rheims.
A feeling of lassitude crept over Des Esseintes in this rude, garrison-town atmosphere; deafened by the chatter of these English folk talking to one another, he fell into a dream, calling up from the purple of the port wine that filled their glasses a succession of Dickens' characters, who were so partial to that beverage, peopling in imagination the cellar with a new set of customers, seeing in his mind's eye here Mr. Wickfield's white hair and red face, there, the phlegmatic and astute bearing and implacable eye of Mr. Tulkinghorn, the gloomy lawyer of Bleak House. Perfect in every detail, they all stood out clear in his memory, taking their places in the Bodega, with all their works and ways and gestures; hisrecollections, lately revived by a fresh perusal of the stories, were extraordinarily full and precise. The Novelist's town, the well lighted, well warmed house, cosy and comfortably appointed, the bottles slowly emptied by Little Dorrit, by Dora Copperfield, by Tom Pinch's sister Ruth, appeared to him sailing like a snug ark in a deluge of mire and soot. He loitered idly in this London of the imagination, happy to be under shelter, seeming to hear on the Thames the hideous whistles of the tugs at work behind the Tuileries, near the bridge. His glass was empty; despite the mist that filled the room over-heated by the smoke of pipes and cigars, he experienced a little shudder of disgust as he came back to the realities of life in this moist and foul smelling weather.
He asked for a glass of Amontillado, but then, as he sat before this pale, dry wine, the nerve-soothing stories, the gentle lenitives of the English author were scattered and the harsh revulsives, the cruel irritants of Edgar Allan Poe rose in their place. The chill nightmare of the cask of Amontillado, the story of the man walled up in an underground chamber, seized upon his fancy; the kindly, commonplace faces of the American and English customers who filled the hall seemed to him to reflect uncontrollable and abominable cravings, odious and instinctive plans of wickedness. Presently he noticed he was nearly the last there, that the dinner hour was close at hand; he paid his score, tore himself from his chair and made dizzily for the door. He got a wet buffet in the face the instant he set foot outside; drowned by the rain and driving squalls, the street lamps flickered feebly and gave hardly a gleam of light; the clouds ruled lower than ever, having come down several pegs, right to the middle of the house fronts. Des Esseintes looked along the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, bathed in shadow and dripping with moisture, and he thought he was standing in the dismal tunnel excavated beneath the Thames. But the cravings of hunger recalled him to reality; he went back to his cab, threw the driver the address of the tavern in the Rue d'Amsterdam, near the Saint-Lazare railway station, and looked at his watch,—it was seven o'clock. He had just time enough to dine; the train did not start till eight-fifty, and he fell to counting up the time on his fingers, calculating the hours required for the crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven, and telling himself,—"If the figures in the railway-guide are right, I shall be in London tomorrow on the stroke of halfpast twelve noon.
The vehicle stopped in front of the tavern, once more Des Esseintes left it and made his way into a long hall, with drab wills innocent of any gilding, and divided by means of breast-high partitions into a series of compartments like the loose-boxes in a stable. In this room, which opened out into a wider space by the door, rows of beer engines rose along a counter, side by side with hams as brown as old violins, lobsters of a bright metallic red, salted mackerel, along with slices of onion, raw carrots, pieces of lemon peel, bunches of bay leaves and thyme, juniper berries and coarse pepper swimming in a thick sauce.
One of the boxes was unoccupied. He took possession of it and hailed a young man in a black coat, who nodded, muttering some incomprehensible words. While the table was being laid, Des Esseintes examined his neighbours. It was the same as at the Bodega; a crowd of islanders with china blue eyes, crimson faces and pompous, supercilious looks, were skimming through foreign newspapers. There were some women amongst the rest, unaccompanied by male escort, dining by themselves,—sturdy English dames with boys' faces, teeth as big as tombstones, fresh, apple-red cheeks, long hands and feet. They were attacking with unfeigned enthusiasm a rumpsteak pie,—meat served hot in mushroom sauce and covered with a crust like a fruit tart.
After his long loss of appetite, he looked on in amazement at these sturdy trencherwomen, whose voracity whetted his own hunger. He ordered a plate of oxtail, a soup that is at once unctuous and tasty, fat and satisfying; then he scrutinized the list of fish, asked for a smoked haddock, which struck him as worthy of all praise, and seized with a rabid fit of appetite at the sight of other people stuffing themselves, he ate a great helping of roast beef and boiled potatoes and absorbed a couple of pints of ale, his palate tickled by the little musky, cow-like smack of this fine, light-coloured beer.
His hunger was nearly satisfied. He nibbled a bit of blue Stilton, a sweet cheese with an underlying touch of bitter, pecked at a rhubarb tart, and then, to vary the monotony, quenched his thirst with porter, that British black beer which tastes of liquorice juice from which the sugar had been extracted.
He drew a deep breath; for years he had not guzzled and swilled so much. The change of habits, the choice of unexpected and satisfying viands had roused the stomach from its lethargy. He sat back in his chair, lit a cigarette and prepared to enjoy his cup of coffee, which he laced with gin.
The rain was still falling steadily; he could hear it rattling on the glass skylight that roofed the far end of the room and running in torrents along the gutters. Nobody stirred a finger; all were dozing; comfortable like himself with liqueur glasses before them.
Presently tongues were lossened; as nearly everyone looked up in the air in talking, Des Esseintes concluded that these Englishmen were all discussing the weather. No one ever laughed, and all were dressed in suits of grey cheviot with nankin-yellow and blotting-paper red stripes. He cast a look of delight at his own clothes, the colour and cut of which did not sensibly differ from those of the people round him, highly pleased to find himself not out of tone with his surroundings, glad to be, in a kind of superficial way, a naturalized citizen of London. Then he gave a start,—"but what of the train time?" he asked himself. He consulted his watch,—ten minutes to eight; he had still nearly half-an-hour to stay there, he told himself, and once more he fell to thinking over the plan he had framed.
In the course of his sedentary life two countries only had tempted him to visit them, Holland and England.
He had fulfilled the first of these two wishes; attracted beyond his power to resist, he had left Paris one fine day and inspected the cities of the Low Countries one by one.
The general result of the journey was a series of bitter disappointments. He had pictured to himself a Holland after the pattern of Teniers' pictures and Jan Steen's, Rembrandt's and Ostade's, fashioning beforehand for his own particular use and pleasure Jewries as richly sun-browned as pieces of Cordova leather, imagining prodigal kermesses, everlasting junketings in the country, expecting to see all that patriarchal goodfellowship, that riotous joviality limned by the old masters.
No doubt Haarlem and Amsterdam had fascinated him; the common folk, seen in their unpolished state and in true rustic surroundings were very much as Van Ostade had painted them with their unlicked cubs of children and their old gossips as fat as butter, big-bosomed and huge-bellied. But of reckless merrymakings and general carousings not a sign. As a matter of fact, he found himself forced to admit that the Dutch School as represented in the Louvre had led him astray; it had merely supplied him with a spring-board, as it were, to start him off on his fancies; from it he had leapt off on a false trail and wandered away into an impossible dreamland, never to discover anywhere in this world the land of faery he had hoped to find real; nowhere to see peasants and peasant-maidens dancing on the greensward littered with wine-casks, crying with sheer happiness, shouting with joy, relieving themselves under stress of uncontrollable laughter in their petticoats and their trunks!
No, decidedly, nothing of the sort was to be seen; Holland was a country like any other, and to boot, a country by no means simple and primitive, by no means specially genial, for the Protestant faith was rampant there with its stern hypocrisies and solemn scruples.
This past disillusionment recurred to his memory; again he consulted his watch,—there was then some minutes more before his train left. "It is high time to ask for my bill and be going," he muttered to himself. He felt an extreme heaviness of stomach and an overpowering general lethargy. "Come now, he exclaimed, by way of screwing up his courage, "let's drink the stirrup cup,"—and he poured himself out a glass of brandy, while waiting for his account. An individual in a black coat, a napkin under one arm, a sort of major-domo, with a pointed head very bald, a harsh beard turning grey and a shaved upper lip, came forward, a pencil behind his ear, took up a position, one leg thrown forward like a singer on the platform, drew a paper-book from his pocket, and fixing his eyes on the ceiling without once looking at his writing, scribbled out the items and added up the total. "Here you are, sir," he said, tearing out the leaf from his book and handing it to Des Esseintes, who examined it curiously, as if it had been some strange animal. "What an extraordinary specimen, this John Bull," he thought, as he gazed at this phlegmatic personage whose clean-shaven lips gave him a vague resemblance to a helmsman of the American mercantile marine.
At that moment, the door into the street opened, and a number of people came in, bringing with them a stench of drowned dog mingled with a smell of cooking which the wind beat back into the kitchen as the unlatched door banged to and fro. Des Esseintes could not stir a limb; a soothing, enervating lassitude, was creeping through every member, rendering him incapable of so much as lifting his hand to light a cigar. He kept telling himself: "Come, come now, get up, we must be off"; but instantly objections occurred to him in contravention of these orders. What was the good of moving, when a man can travel so gloriously sitting in a chair? Was he not in London, whose odours and atmosphere, whose denizens and viands and table furniture were all about him? What could he expect, if he really went there, save fresh disappointments, the same as in Holland?
He had only just time enough left now to hurry to the station, and a mighty aversion for the journey, an imperious desire to stay quiet, came over him with a force that grew momentarily more and more powerful and peremptory. He sat dreaming and let the minutes slip by, thus cutting off his retreat, telling himself: "Now I should have to dash up to the barriers,, hustle with the luggage; how tiresome, what a nuisance that would be!"—Then, harking back, he told himself over again: "After all, I have felt and seen what I wanted to feel and see. I have been steeped in English life ever since I left home; it would be a fool's trick to go and lose these imperishable impressions by a clumsy change of locality. Why, surely I must be out of my senses to have tried thus to repudiate my old settled convictions, to have condemned the obedient figment of my imagination, to have believed like the veriest ninny in the necessity, the interest, the advantage of a trip abroad?—There," he concluded, glancing at his watch, "the time is ripe to go back home again." And this time he did get to his feet, left the tavern and ordered the cabman to take him back to the Gare de Sceaux; thence he returned with his trunks, his packages, his portmanteaux, his rugs, his umbrellas and walking-sticks to Fontenay, feeling all the physical exhaustion and moral fatigue of a man restored to the domestic hearth after long and perilous journeyings.