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branching off to the right and the left.
More hop-grounds, flax-fields, and meadows
teeming with cheese and cream; then, rows
of handsome elms, and copses from which the
nightingales are singing so loudly and so
multitudinously, as to pour a sort of intoxication
over the senses. They suggest, by their tones,
an irresistible craving to stretch out one's arms
after some unknown good. At last, we reach
the picturesque and ill-reputed village of
Godewaerswelde. There is no fear now, as
during the first revolution, of encountering
troops of well-armed brigands, who, after
murdering soldiers and customs'-men, have
put on their uniform, and protect the dwellers
on each side of the frontier, exactly as the wolf
protects the sheep; still, on the border-land,
caution is advisable, and it is pleasanter to
walk with a trusty guide or companion, or
even to join a douanier on his cruise after
errant and flitting scamps, than to wander
along in single blessedness. Your passport,
or other satisfactory documents in your
pocket, may happen to be serviceable, should
any doubt by chance arise touching your own

The foot of the Mount is soon attained, and
an easy climb suffices to reach the top.
What a glorious prospect! Lovelier even
than that from Cassel itself; one of those
scenes to which you return delighted, after
Alps and Apennines have tired you to death.
But view-hunting is not our main purpose
to-day. Something more serious stands full
in view. In spite of the cheerful noontide and
the luxurious landscapeperhaps in
consequence of themhalf a word now spoken
apropos would fill my foolish eyes with tears.
At the northern extremity of the Mont des
Cats stands the plain but extensive building
of brick, simply roofed with tiles and slate, to
which my slow but decided steps are directed,
even were there danger to be feared within
those walls. To visit that in an idle mood,
would betray an utter want of thought and

For, think what a convent of Trappists is!
A home sheltering eight-and-forty men as
completely dead to worldly things, as they
can be without actual suicide. Their
profession there is a suicide of the heart, which
in some cases may perhaps have prevented a
suicide of the body. Many people, on hearing
a narrative of fact, will ask, " how can such
things be?" There, in that corner, is the
entrance door, with the little barred wicket
in the centre. Overhead is legibly inscribed
the motto, Ecce elongavi fugiens, et mansi in
solitudine; " Behold, I have fled far away,
and have remained in solitude." By the side
of the door hangs a slight bell-chain, whose
handle is an iron cross. I have carelessly
taken the cross in my gloved left hand. It
is not thus, but with both hands, and firmly,
that a sincere noviciate must be entered

The wicket opens, and a monk's face appears.
On stating that I wish to visit the convent,
the door itself turns on its hinges. In reply to
my bow of salutation, the cowl is thrown
back from the close-cropped head; and a
feeble, half-dead, smothered voice which
issues from the lips of the porter-monk
informs me that, if I will return in an hour,
my request shall be granted, with the
permission of the Superior.

On the summit of the Mont des Cats an
hour on a fine morning is easily whiled away.
One of my passing fancies is to guess what
sort of impression the unremitting bursts of
nightingale's song must make upon the
listening monks. Or, do they not listen? Do
they stop, perforce, their ears to these
spring-tide accents of joy and love? Probably.
They have swallowed their bitter draught,
refusing to taste all else that is offered to
them. They have set off on a path, whose
only termination is death. All by the wayside
to them is nothing.

And yet, but for this unusual and oppressive
presence, there lies within the range of
vision enough to delight the eye and interest
the heart. Lovely Belgium, rich Hainault,
with mill-crowned heights and inexhaustibly
fertile plains! There is enough even to cloy
the sight, were it possible for such things to
weary us. And, as for towns to dot the
landscape, there lies Poperingues, the metropolis
of hops; there Ypres, and Courtrai, and
Menin, and Cassel, once a promontory; but
mere names are an unknown language (in
spite of the authority of epic poets) to those
who cannot form to themselves in some way
the image of the reality.

The hour's delay is at an end. This time
the cross is boldly clutched with the right
hand. Four beggars, women and boys, are
standing at the door; which is soon opened,
after an inspection at the wicket. To two of
the beggars the porter gives morsels of food;
probably cheese, slightly wrapped in paper.
Their smallness suggests that they must
be remnants of personal self-denial, rather
than doles from the convent itself. The
pittance is so thankfully received, that, having
four sous in my pocket, I extract them and
distribute to each beggar one. The last
woman kisses the palm of her hand before
receiving hers, and utters the Flemish word
for thanks. I am admitted into a little
low porch, in which stands a green garden-seat.
The door is locked on the world outside,
and I am shown into a small waiting
parlour furnished with four chairs, a table, a
glass-case of rosaries, crosses and medals,
apparently for sale, and a lithograph or two
of holy men departed. Three priestly hats
and three walking canes hint that the superior
is receiving a visit. I am left alone for a
few minutes, when the porter returns with
the announcement that my request is granted.
If I require refreshment before returning,
that shall be prepared while I am looking
over the establishment.