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VI. THE MURDERESS.
Serious cases do not come the French very lenient in before the Juge de Paix.murder. It was a question of Strictly speaking, he is limited café debate whether Landru, to civil pleas of less than 1000 the modern Bluebeard, might francs importance. The drama not get off. A master barrister, which we found in the court playing with his eloquence upon of the Juge de Paix was strongly the heart-strings of a jurydomestic. Yet real drama came which one must confess often
seems to carry emotionalism The French look with what beyond the limits of even a appears to the English a lenient farce,-has released how many eye upon murder. Murder they assassins back into society. It seem to consider a crime only is true that murder rarely in dastardly cases. Give mur
becomes habit. But
we der an epithet, tag it on to remember a satirical article some perturbation of spirit, in a French paper proving the and the slayer escapes. Love, only person one was forbidden jealousy, hate, anger, fear, polit- to murder with impunity to be ical passion, or even commercial the total stranger, since no interest, are held to be spiritual sentimental excuse could be cyclones, which, acting on the found for murdering him. So normal humanity, can whirl it that the scene which we witoutside of itselfbeside him- nessed one afternoon—the reself, as we say,--and so a crime turn of a murderess to her committed outside of humanity village—cannot be so rare a is considered almost outside of spectacle in France as it would the law. A curious feature of be in England. psychology this, that these Before she reached us, the French who are so primitively rumour fled in front of hermosaic in their politics—an She is coming, she is comeye for an eye, a tooth for a ing.” tooth-should have travelled The village appeared unso far away from that boasted altered. We sat quietly on basis of human security, a life our bench, where we had been for a life. They do not hold since luncheon. The exterior that a misdeed committed in of the village still was deserted, individual frenzy is to be bal, but the windows, usually so anced by another misdeed com- many blank panes, were now mitted in communal revenge ; spectacles, glasses through they do not hold strongly which Paul Prys, male, or that for murder, the last un- female, or children, took stock pardonable theft, restitution can with curious and almost rebe made by a forfeiture in spectful eyes of this fellowkind. Still we must think villager come back to life.”
And if you
Was she really a strange-look- coming from her ex-aristocratic ing woman, or did our shocked husband's shop. There is nothsenses lend her an air of strange- ing aristocratic about Madame ness : unwarned, would we have St Mouxa: her husband, a noticed her ? Her face was bootmaker, is the closest de like one of Modigliani's shorter- scendant of the old Seigneurie nosed models — sentimental of N-, but she, though she eggs, a satirical critic dubbed gives herself a hundred beauty them,-but this woman had airs, remains unalterably the become startled and old ; she over - plump little bourgeoise seemed amazed to find the that she is. Madame St Mouxa streets once more about her. is the incarnation of the obvious. Her face was a pallid mask, If one shows her a bottle, she in which those amazed eyes will say with a pretty air of stared darkly, and from which wisdom, “That is a bottle; the thin, grey, uncovered hair you put liquid into it and stop was drawn tightly back to a it with a cork.” mere knob of a bun at about are looking at a dog, she will the Iceland of her skull. She say, “That is a dog; it is of went rigidly through the village a yellow colour, has four legs, with but brief glances to right one at each corner, runs about or to left, supporting legs, and barks.” Like Mr Hilaire
" rheumatic from prison, with Belloc's strategy for beginners the aid of two sticks. If she during the war. Poor Madame encountered a villager of by- St Mouxa ; she is vain, and gone acquaintance she gave a doubtless when she was sevendry little nod, “Eh, Joseph !” teen had a certain enticing
! to which he would reply, “Eh, roundness which she mistook Suzanne ! and pass on.
Rotundity has We think that she appreci- now gone out of fashion even ated and was enjoying the sen- in provincial France, but Masation she aroused.
dame St Mouxa has become No sooner was she gone be- the rounder. Her little son yond earshot than the curious let out to us a fact which sauntered into the street, re- doubtless Madame St Mouxa garding her distant back. would rather have kept a close
She killed her husband with secreta coal-hammer," said Madame “Mother thinks she is getSestrol to us. “It was a bad ting fat; she is taking castormarriage — always squabbling. oil regularly to try to become Then one day she picked up thinner." the coal-hammer, and just hit Il faut souffrir pour être belle, him. Here," and she indicated but Madame St Mouxa does the temple.
not know that castor-oil, in We were on our road home spite of its obvious effects, is when we met Madame St Mouxa a fattening medicine.
She now met us, and said St Mouxa doesn't know anywith the painstaking precision thing about it. Why, they of a governess—
came here on their way to Dr “ That woman is a murderess, Saggebou. She was supportshe has committed murder. She ing him, holding him up, and chopped open her husband's crying upon his shoulder. head with an axe, yes.
She Have I done thee any hit him once, and then came injury, my cabbage; have I back to hit him again, that harmed thee? who would never makes twice, you understand. hurt a hair of thy head.' He walked up here after it “ And the doctor called them had all happened. I saw him. fools ; but there was no getHis head was laid quite open, ting over the fact that all the and his brains were running inside of his head had gone down his face. That is a fact; bad. They said that he must by brains I mean the inside have been a strong man to of his head, you know. And have walked up here and down she was only put in prison again in that state. But those during five years for so horrible two were never well suited, a crime. Crime, you know; a always squabbling till the neighmisdeed, what. Five years in bours said there'd be murder prison, you understand, only done one day. In fact, once that."
before she did try to poison In the evening we drew a him with wash for the vines, few more facts from Madame but he got over it. Not a good Sestrol.
home for the children; no. So “Chopper Nonsense," she the saintly sisters took them,
“hit him with a coal- but now doubtless the mother hammer, a little coal-hammer will want them back again. it was, lying on the table, just They would be better where there as you may say, and she they are now, because after all picked it up in a temper and the woman isn't quite ..." gave him a back-handed stroke She tapped her forehead—“nor without looking, just as she was the man either, to my was running from the room, thinking,” she added. didn't know that she had hit Monsieur le Juge de Paix him till she got back. Then it does not touch such grave might have been all right, only matters as this. He travels they left it for four days, till about from canton to canton, it all went bad inside his head. an affable, slightly pompous, Brains running down ? Non- slightly sardonic peacemaker, sense ! Who has been telling an ambulating olive branch you all that stuff Genevieve dipped in vinegar. . .
(To be continued.)
SHOULD any commanding occasion, interlarded by dalliofficer of a Soudanese regi- ance with the ladies who have ment be asked to give his been forcibly abducted during opinion as to the best fighters the operations.
For generawho are enlisted from the tions this same General Idea warrior tribes for training in has remained among them; the Egyptian Army, he will, and although it is more fullas a rule, cast his vote for the blooded than the one we remen who are serving in his member at Aldershot in the own particular “Orta” (bat- old days of Red versus Blue, talion). But the majority of they both bear the same stamp soldiers of experience who have of conservative adherence to completed their ten years in ancient custom. the service of the Sirdar will Second to their interest in award the palm to the Nuba female society comes a love of (I can almost hear the indig- firearms. No man among them nant protest from British Beys is of account until he is the who have commanded Dinkas, owner of a rifle of sorts, and Shilluks, or Nuers !)
the methods employed to gain They are hillmen, and in this end would often make an common with most inhabitants Afridi border thief blush with of the uplands, they are sturdily envy. In spite of protective made, intelligent, and possessed measures, Government rifles are of an independent spirit to a frequently reported as missing, high degree. Owing to con- and find their way to the hills stant raiding among themselves, of the Mountain Province; but they take to warfare as the as a rule the old-fashioned duck takes to water ; but on Remington is the arm that adopting the profession of arms finds most favour, the reason as regulars, they require time being that home-made ammunito settle down to the necessary tion may be used with these routine of military life when out-of-date but hard-hitting not in the field. Their ideal weapons. When on the warprogramme for a month would path the Nuba armament is be as follows: a fortnight's raid, reminiscent of a museum, for with plenty of ammunition to beside the prehistoric musket, expend on any old target that with its reinforcement of bide crops up; a week of indiscrimi- binding to hold its component nate looting; a week of song parts in comparative safety, and dance to celebrate the may be found a purloined
masterpiece of accuracy and by a fantastic coiffure of the power by a fashionable London hair, which is clubbed into maker. These plums of the weird shapes with a mixture of collection, carried by the head- cow-dung and mud. man, in right of seniority, are The country is a most infrequently bereft of the fore- teresting one,
and there are sight as being an unnecessary few who have lived in it for piece of swank !
any length of time who do not The remainder of their cloth- carry away pleasant memories ing and equipment is simple of its picturesque beauty. The in the extreme, and would Nuba Mountains do not vie delight the heart of the over- with other ranges as regards worked quartermasters of more towering peaks or snow-clad complex forces. Except among summits, for most of the imthe bigger chiefs, of clothing portant heights are of an averthere is none, their strongly age amounting
amounting to between made black bodies being naked. three and four thousand feet; True, a few of the older men but in rugged impressiveness may sport an inadequate strip they are unequalled. of cloth where it is most neces- There is a legend that in the sary to our ideas, but in the dawn of time à race of Titans main it simply isn't done. piled up gigantic boulders
Equipment consists of a ban- among the jumble of hills in dolier, made of raw hide, worn sport, then tumbled them into round the waist ; but here chaos at the finish of their again sealed patterns are not game; and indeed the legend de rigueur, for a very service- describes the lie of the land able one was surrendered at most aptly. All about the the conclusion of some opera- ironstone rocks of colossal protions against them that had portions a tangle of scrub and been in earlier days the window- stunted trees has taken root, strap of a first-class carriage hiding the starkness of the bare on the late London & North- stone with an adornment of Western Railway.
many colours. At sunset, when Their appearance in the field the grotesque outlines of the is indeed strange. In order to hills are tinged with rosy light, escape the attentions of sting- and the verdure in the ravines ing flies and mosquitoes, they is merged into delicate shades smear their bodies to a leprous- of purple and russet-brown, the looking whiteness with wood- scene is one of mystery and ash on a foundation of grease. loveliness. Around the eyes the ash is At the foot of the steep cleared away, leaving black slopes there are grass-clad valcircles that give them the leys, where the cattle are grazed, ghastly semblance to a death’s- and millet grown as the chief head. The toilette is completed crop, all within easy reach