Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/209

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191
By George Egerton

because all the while my inner eyes saw undercurrents of beauty and pathos, quaint contrasts, whimsical details that tickled my sense of humour deliciously. The elf that lurks in some inner cell was very busy, now throwing out tender mimosa-like threads of creative fancy, now recording fleeting impressions with delicate sure brushwork for future use; touching a hundred vagrant things with the magic of imagination, making a running comment on the scenes we passed.

The warehouses told a tale of an up-to-date Soll und Haben, one of my very own, one that would thrust old Freytag out of the book-mart. The tall chimneys ceased to be giraffic throats belching soot and smoke over the blackening city. They were obelisks rearing granite heads heavenwards! Joints in the bricks, weather-stains? You are mistaken; they were hieroglyphics, setting down for posterity a tragic epic of man the conqueror, and fire his slave; and how they strangled beauty in the grip of gain. A theme for a Whitman!

And so it talks and I listen with my inner ear—and yet nothing outward escapes me—the slackening of the boat—the stepping on and off of folk—the lowering of the funnel—the name "Stanley" on the little tug, with its self-sufficient puff-puff, fussing by with a line of grimy barges in tow; freight-laden, for the water washes over them and on the last a woman sits suckling her baby, and a terrier with badly cropped ears yaps at us as we pass. . . . .

And as this English river scene flashes by, lines of association form angles in my brain; and the point of each is a dot of light that expands into a background for forgotten canal scenes, with green-grey water, and leaning balconies, and strange crafts—Canaletti and Guadi seen long ago in picture galleries. . . . .

A delicate featured youth with gold-laced cap, scrapes a prelude on

a thin-