them - delicious coffee in bowl-like cups, crisp rolls and rusks, an omelette with a delicate flavour of fine herbs, stewed chicken, little pats of freshly churned butter without salt, shaped like shells and tasting like solidified cream, and a pot of some sort of nice preserve. Amy made great delightful eyes at Katy, and remarking, `I think France is heaps nicer than that old England,' began to eat with a will; and Katy herself felt that if this railroad meal was a specimen of what they had to expect in the future, they had indeed come to a land of plenty.

Fortified with the satisfactory breakfast, she felt equal to a walk, and after they had made sure that Mrs Ashe had all she needed, she and Amy (and Mabel) set off by themselves to see the sights of Dieppe. I don't know that travellers generally have considered Dieppe an interesting place, but Katy found it so. There was a really old church and some quaint buildings of the style of two centuries back, and even the more modern streets had a novel look to her unaccustomed eyes. At first they only ventured a timid turn or two, marking each corner, and going back now and then to reassure themselves by a look at the station; but after a while, growing bolder, Katy ventured to ask a question or two in French, and was surprised and charmed to find herself understood. After that she grew adventurous, and, no longer fearful of being lost, led Amy straight down a long street lined with shops, almost all of which were for the sale of various articles in ivory.

Ivory wares are one of the chief industries of Dieppe. There were cases full, windows full, and counters full, of the most exquisite combs and brushes, some with elaborate monograms in silver and colours, and others plain; there were boxes and caskets of every size and shape, ornaments, fans, parasol handles, looking glasses, frames for pictures large and small, and napkin rings.

Katy was particularly smitten with a paper knife in the form of an angel, with long, slender wings raised over its head and meeting to form a point. Its price was twenty francs, and she was strongly tempted to buy it for Clover or Rose Red. But she said to herself sensibly: `This is the first shop I have been into and the first thing I have really wanted to buy, and very likely as we go on I shall see things I like better and want more, so it would be foolish to do it. No, I won't.' And she resolutely turned her back on their ivory angel, and walked away.

The next turn brought them to a gay-looking little market place, where old women in white caps were sitting on the ground beside baskets and panniers full of apples, pears, and various queer and curly vegetables, none of which Katy recognized as familiar; fish of all shapes and colours were flapping in shallow tubs of sea water; there were piles of stockings, muffetees and comforters in vivid blue and red worsted, and coarse pottery glazed in bright patterns. The faces of the women were brown and wrinkled; there were no pretty ones among them, but their black eyes were full of life and quickness, and their fingers one and all clicked with knitting needles, as their tongues flew equally fast in the chatter and the chaffer, which went on without stop or stay, though customers did not seem to be many and sales were few.

Returning to the station they found that Mrs Ashe had been asleep during their absence, and seemed so much better that it was with greatly amended spirits that they took their places in the late afternoon train which was to set them down at Rouen. Katy said they were like the Wise Men of the East, `following a star', in their choice of a hotel; for, having no better advice, they had decided upon one of those thus distinguished in Baedeker's Guide Book.

The star did not betray their confidence, for the Hôtel de la Cloche, to which it led them, proved to be quaint and old, and very pleasant of aspect.

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Bibliomania 6th April 2000

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