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Page 13

The Gardens and the Shrine

 

    Did we wish to linger, we could be shown the barnyard with its noisy retinue of hens, pheasants, guinea fowl, and pigeons; and we would be asked to admire the geese, cooped up and being gorged for fattening, or the stately peacocks preening their splendors. We would also hear sage disquisitions from the "oldest inhabitants" on the merits of fertilizers, especially on the uses of mixing seaweed with manure, also we would be told of the almost equally important process of burying a toad in a sealed jar in the midst of a field to save the corn from the crows and the field mice. Hybrias laughs at such superstitions—"but what can you say to the rustics?" Hybrias himself will display with more refined pride the gardens used by his wife and children when they come out from Athens,—a fountain feeding a delightful rivulet; myrtles, roses, and pomegranate trees shedding their perfumes, which are mingled with the odors from the beds of hyacinths, violets, and asphodel. In the center of the gardens rises a chaste little shrine with a marble image and an altar, always covered with flowers or fruit by the mistress and her women. "To Artemis," reads the inscription, and one is sure that the virgin goddess takes more pleasure in this fragrant temple than in many loftier fanes.[10]

    We are glad to add here our wreaths ere turning away from this wholesome, verdant country seat, and again taking our road to Athens.

 

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