The island of the sirens.
BY FRANK HYDE.
A long procession files in slow array.
Aloft a silver image gleams like fire,
Borne shoulder-high amid a white-robed choir
The patron Saint moves on his festal way.
Capri — what a magic word ! How can I
describe that almost idyllic time, when on landing
from the old barca di Scoppa, “ whose hold was
laden like the Argosies of old, with fruit, grain,
and wine,” I was handed by one of a bevy of
dark-eyed beauties a bunch of Narcissi, emblem of
welcome to the “ Island of the Sirens.”
It was the Festa di Coralina. The coral boats
with their quaintly carved prows, gaudily painted
and gilded, were drawn up on the Marina; each
boat garlanded with roses, and a bunch of ginestra
tied to the mast. The old marinari with their
wives and pretty daughters awaited the procession
of priests, who were to give their benediction to
the little flotilla of coral boats, about to face the
dangers of a long journey to the African Coast.
What a scene !—the old-time costumes, the
slowly moving procession of richly robed priests
winding through the kneeling figures of the sailors ;
the glorious sun shining on the flower-decked
prows ; the clouds of incense ; the solemn chanting
of that white-robed choir.
Leighton, Waterhouse, Poynter, John Sargent,
and a legion of painters have found the charm of
Capri irresistible; brilliant Prix de Rome men
came here as a matter of tradition to paint their
pictures; Chartran, Doucet, Sain, Detaille, painted
some of their finest works in Capri.
It was at one of the charmingly picturesque
houses of the contadini that Sargent and I once
stayed, Pagano’s being then full. We break-
fasted every morning under a vine-covered
pergola, where we could pick the grapes as we
wanted them. The table, covered with a clean
white cloth of coarse homespun, and laden with
Capri delicacies, was flecked with patches of sun-
light that filtered in through the leaves above ; the
swTeet scent of orange-blossom filled the air, and
now and again a tantalising aroma would reach us
of the delicious coffee being roasted by the pretty
waiting-girl in the garden below. Then, again, an
evening scene comes back to me—the Tarantellas