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you no Kirmes in England?" "No, indeed, we "Not the name,
don't know what you mean."
perhaps; but surely you have some yearly festival in every village, when the poor people, who work so hard all the year, meet together on a Sunday, go to church together in their gayest clothes, and then make merry, and enjoy themselves?" "No, we have no such day." "Poor people!" "Well, but tell me what a Kirmes means, and what is the origin of it." "It was, originally, the anniversary of the day on which the village church was consecrated; but, as it was found that these anniversaries often fell at inconvenient times for the country people, they are, by common consent, held in autumn, just after the vintage. At this joyous season. the country people are in high spirits, and have more leisure, and rather fuller purses than usual; and are well disposed to rejoice together in the blessing of their harvest."
Every Sunday, from the beginning of October, we heard, "to-day is Kirmes at Königswinter," or, "to-day is Kirmes at Lintz," and so on: of course, we were curious to go and witness a scene of rural gaiety so unlike any
thing we had seen at home. We were invited to join a party from Bonn to Lintz, a little town some miles higher up the Rhine, on the other side, where Kirmes is peculiarly gay: it lasts for three days there, as it does in most of the large villages. Every morning gay parties walk about on those beautiful hills and delightful shores; after which, those who can afford it, dine at the inns, at every one of which is an excellent table d'hôte at one o'clock; and, after a merry dinner, and a cup of coffee, they adjourn to the ball-room. The Kirmes at Lintz, and such considerable villages, draws people from all the towns and villages for miles and miles round; so that you may imagine how the whole banks of the bright and beautiful Rhine are enlivened: at such places, the tables d'hôte, as well as the balls, are of several degrees; so that even the poorest peasants may sit down to a good and social dinner adapted to their humble means. In the small villages there is most likely only one inn, and, consequently, only one table d'hôte; but almost all have more than one ball-room. How you wonder, do you not? A village, consisting of a few poor cottages, and yet a ball
room, or even two! Hear then what this ballroom is it is often a large shed without windows, but always with an excellent floor, and a little orchestra at one end; and, let me tell you, this, when lighted up, and filled with happy faces, and with such a company of musicians as many a fashionable assembly in England cannot boast, is no despicable scene of festivity.
But enough of Kirmes in general: let us return to our own; and first I would have you know, that our companion, to whom we were indebted for this pleasure, was a judge, and as wise and good a judge as he is a kind and amiable man. At eleven o'clock the carriage was ordered it rained, alas! and rained as if it meant to rain all day; but our plan was fixed, and away we went to Plittersdorf. Plittersdorf is a very small village lying close to the Rhine, about a league above Bonn, and a quarter of a league from the lovely village of Godesberg, which is farther inland: opposite to it, a little higher still, lies Königswinter, a small town, close behind which rise the Sieben Gebirge, or Seven Mountains, in all
their variety of outline and of colour. The Drachenfels closes the ridge, with its abrupt crags and ruined castle towering immediately above the Rhine, and reflected in its waters: as seen from Plittersdorf, the sweep made by this mighty stream at this point, is, in my opinion, more beautiful than any other part of its beautiful and majestic course. The steep crag of Rolandseck, crowned by its single ruined arch, and the sweet, smiling island of Nonnenwerth, with its beautiful convent embosomed in trees, are just in sight: the foreground was, at this season, a blaze of vineyards in their princely autumn dress of purple, scarlet, and gold, relieved by patches of the bright and deep-green mangelwurzel, and other esculent vegetables, which are here so luxuriant and vigorous.
The inn at Plittersdorf is very small: it is what we should call a village alehouse: it is, however, neat, and looks across the road, on the pretty garden and vineyard of the host, bounded by the Rhine, and by all that magnificent background I have just been describing. The host, Herr Trimborn, is a stout,
hearty, good-humoured looking man, very much like many you see in England; his wife as round and smiling as "mine hostess" should be both are full of the frank and cordial civility of Germans, as I often afterwards experienced.
We alighted in a torrent of rain, and were received, to my surprise, not only with all the affectionate respect which our companion is sure to command wherever he is known, but with an air of cheerfulness. Here was, truly, a lesson in the art of bearing disappointment with grace: I had expected to find all faces as gloomy as the weather, but our worthy host looked round on the small company met to share the fruits of so much cost and labour, with a placid and cordial smile, which must have proceeded either from great equanimity or great politeness.
The tables, which, if the weather had been only tolerable, would have hardly held the guests, were about half-filled, and many a delicious dish went away scarcely tasted: we comforted ourselves under our own disappointment, with the thought that, at any rate, our