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with trees and bushes, with a south-east | These sculls were tilted up against the mixture of sunlight and shade, and little wall, and as you innocently went to take touches that cannot be suggested by writ- one, wauw!-a dirty little ill-tempered ing: Job had not got the Semitic instinct mongrel poodle rolled himself like a ball of keeping. The art of acquisition he to your heels and snapped his teeth – possessed to some extent, that was his wauw! At the bark, out rushed the old right hand; but somehow the half-crowns lady, his housekeeper, shouting in the slipped away through his unstable lest shrillest key to the dog to lie still, and to hand, and fortune was a greasy pole to you that the bailiff would be there in a him. His left hand was too cunning for minute. At the sound of her shrewish him, it wanted to manage things too yang-yang down came the old man cleverly. If it had only had the Semitic from the bank, and so one dog fetched grip, digging the nails into the flesh to out the lot. The three were exactly alike hold tight each separate coin, he would somehow. Beside these diamond sculls have been village rich. The great secret he had a big gun, with which he used to is the keeping. Finding is by'no means shoot the kingfishers that came for the keeping. Job did not flourish in his old little fish; the number he slaughtered was days; the people changed round about. very great; he persecuted them as DomiJob is gone, and I think every one of tian did the flies; he declared that a kingthat cottage is either dead or moved. fisher would carry off a fish heavier than Empty.
itself. Also he shot rooks, once now and The next cottage was the water-bailiff's, then strange wild fowl with this monstrous who looked after the great pond or iron pipe, and something happened with “ broad.” There were one or two old this gun one evening which was witnessed, boats, and he used to leave the oars lean- and after that the old fellow was very being against a wall at the side of the house. nevolent, and the punt was free to one or These oars looked like fragments of a two who knew all about it. There is an wreck, broken and irregular. The right- old story about the stick that would not hand scull was heavy as if made of iron-beat the dog, and the dog would not bite wood, the blade broad and spoon-shaped, the pig, and so on; and so I am quite so as to have a most powerful grip of the sure that ill-natured cur could never have water. The left-hand scull was light and lived with that "yang-yang” shrew, nor slender, with a narrow blade like a marrow- could any one else but he have turned the scoop; so when you had the punt, you gear of the hatch, nor have endured the had to pull very hard with your left hand dog and the woman, and the constant miand gently with the right to get the forces asma from the stagnant waters. No one equal. The punt had a list of its own, else could have shot anything with that and no matter how you rowed, it would cumbrous weapon, and no one else could still make leeway. Those who did not row that punt straight. He used to row know its character were perpetually trying it quite straight, to the amazement of a to get this crooked wake straight, and wondering world, and somehow supplied consequently went round and round ex- the motive force the stick – which kept actly like the whirligig beetle. Those all these things going. He is gone, and, who knew, used to let the leeway proceed I think, the housekeeper too, and the a good way and then alter it, so as to act house has had several occupants since, in the other direction like an elongated who have stamped down the old ghosts zigzag. These sculls the old fellow would and thrust them out of doors. bring you as if they were great treasures, After this the cottages and houses came and watch you off in the punt as if he was in little groups, some up crooked lanes, parting with his dearest. At that date it hidden away by elms as if out of sight in was no little matter to coax him round to a cupboard, and some dotted along the unchain his vessel. You had to take an brooks, scattered so that, unless you had interest in the garden, in the baits, and connected them all with a very long rope, the weather, and be very humble ; then no stranger could have told which beperhaps he would tell you he did not want longed to the village and which did not it for the trimmers, or the withy, or the They drifted into various tithings, and yet flags, and you might have it for an hour it was all the same place. They were all as far as he could see; “did not think my thatched. It was a thatched village. This lord's steward would come over that morn- is strictly accurate and strictly inaccurate, ing; of course if he did you must come for I think there were one or two tiled in," and so on; and if the stars were pro. and one slated, and perhaps a modern pitious, by-and-by the punt was got afloat. I one slated. Nothing is ever quite rigid
or complete that is of man; all rules have changes and the pressure of these hard
; a chip in them. The way they builded times have driven out most of the rest; the older thatched farinhcuses was to put some seem to have quite gone out of up a very high wall in front and a very sight; some have crossed the sea ; some low one behind, and then the roof in have abandoned the land as a livelihood. a general way sloped down from the Of the few, the very few that still remain, high wall to the low wall, an acre broad still fewer abide in their original homes. of thatch. These old thatched houses Time has shuffled them about from house seemed to be very healthy so long as the to house like a pack of cards. Of them old folk lived in them in the old-fashioned all, I verily believe there is but one soul way. Thatch is believed to give an equa: living in the same old house. If the ble temperature. The air blew all round French had landed in the mediæval way to them, and it might be said all through harry with fire and sword, they could not them; for the front door was always open have swept the place more clean. three parts of the year, and at the back Almost the first thing I did with pen the dairies were in a continual blow. Up- and ink as a boy was to draw a map of the stairs the houses were only one room hamlet with the roads and lanes and paths, thick, so that each wall was an outside and I think some of the ponds, and with wall, or rather it was a wall one side and each of the houses marked and the octhatched the other, so that the wind went cupier's name. Of course it was very through if a window was open. Modern roughly done, and not to any scale, yet it houses are often built two rooms thick, so was perfectly accurate and full of detail. that the air does not circulate from one I wish I could find it, but the confusion of side to the other. No one seemed to be time has scattered and mixed these early ill, unless he brought it home with him papers. A map by Ptolemy would bear from some place where he had been visit- | as much resemblance to the same country ing. The diseases they used to have in a modern atlas as mine to the present were long-lived, such as rheumatism, state of that locality. It is all gone which may keep a man comfortably in rubbed out. The names against the whole aches and pains forty years. My dear of those houses have been altered, one old friend, however, taking them one by only excepted, and changes have taken one, went through the lot and told me of place there. Nothing remains. This is the ghosts. The forefathers I knew are not in a century, half a century, or even in all gone – the stout man, the lame man, a quarter of a century, but in a few ticks the paralyzed man, the gruff old stick; of the clock. pot one left. There is not one left of the I think I have heard that the oaks are old farmers, not a single one. The fa- down. They may be standing or down, it thers, too, of our own generation have matters nothing to me; the leaves I last been dropping away. The strong young saw upon them are gone forevermore, nor man who used to fill us with such aston- shall I ever see them come there again ishment at the feats he would achieve ruddy in spring. I would not see them without a thought, no gymnastic training, again even if I could ; they could never to whom a sack of wheat was a toy, — the look again as they used to do. There are strong young man went one day into the too many memories there. The happiest harvest-field, as he had done so many days become the saddest afterwards ; let times before. Suddenly he felt a little us never go back, lest we too die. There dizzy. By-and-by he went home and be are no such oaks anywhere else, none so came very ill with sunstroke; he recov- tall and straight, and with such massive ered, but he was never strong again; he heads, on which the sun used to shine as gradually declined for twelve months, and if on the globe of the earth, one side in next harvest-time he was under the daisies. shadow, the other in bright light. How Just one little touch of the sun, and the often I have looked at oaks since, and yet strength of man faded as a leaf. The have never been able to get the same hardy dark young man, built of iron, effect from them! Like an old author broad, thick, and short, who looked as if printed in another type, the words are the frost, snow, and heat were all the same to same, but the sentiment is different. The him, had something go wrong in his lung; brooks have ceased to run.
There is no one twelvemonth, and there was an end. music now at the old hatch where we used This was a very unhappy affair. The to sit in danger of our lives, happy as pickaxe and the spade have made almost kings, on the narrow bar over the deep a full round to every door; I do not want water. The barred pike that used to come to think any more about this. Family I up in such numbers are no more among
the flags. The perch used to drift down to note the number of fields, so busy were the stream, and then bring up again. The they with the nests and the flowers, they sun shone there for a very long time, and could never be sure at the end of the jourthe water rippled and sang, and it always ney whether there were eight or nine. To seemed to me that I could feel the rip- make quite sure at last, he took with them pling and the singing and the sparkling a pocketful of apples, one of which was back through the centuries. The brook is eaten in each field, and so they came to dead, for when man goes nature ends. I know for certain that the number of dare say there is water there still, but it meadows was either eight or nine, I foris not the brook; the brook is gone like get which ; and so you see this great ex John Brown's soul. There used to be periment did not fix the faith of mankind. clouds over the fields, white clouds in blue Like other great truths, it has grown dim, summer skies. I have lived a good deal but it seems strange to think how this on clouds; they have been meat to me little incident could have been borne in often; they bring something to the spirit mind for a century. There was another which even the trees do not. I see clouds footpath that led through the peewit field, now sometimes when the iron grip of hell where the green plovers forevermore cir permits for a minute or two; they are cle round in spring; then past the night very different clouds and speak differ- ingale field, by the largest maple-trees ently. I long for some of the old clouds, that grew in that country; this too was that had no memories. There were nights all grass. Another led along the water to in those times over those fields, not dark- bluebell land ; another into the coombes ness, but night, full of glowing suns and of the hills; all meadows, which was the glowing richness of life that sprang up to beauty of it; for though you could find meet them. The nights are there still ; wheat in plenty if you liked, you always they are everywhere, nothing local in the walked in grass. All round the compass night; but it is not the night to me seen you could still step on sward. This is through the window.
Of one other path I have a faded There used to be footpaths. Following memory, like a silk marker in an old book; one of them, the first field always had a in truth, I don't want to remember it, es good crop of grass; over the next stile cept the end of it where it came down to there was a great oak standing alone in the railway. So full was the mind of ra the centre of the field, generally a great mance in those days, that I used to get cart-horse under it, and a few rushes scat- there specially in time to see the express tered about the furrow's; the fourth was go up, the magnificent engine of the broad always full of the finest clover; in the gauge that swept along with such ease fifth you could scent the beans on the hill, and power to London. I wish I could and there was a hedge like a wood, and a feel like that now. The feeling is not nest of the long-tailed tit; the sixth had quite gone even now, and I have often a runnel and blue forget-me-nots; the since seen these great broad-gauge creaseventh had a brooklet and scattered trees tures moving alive to and fro like Eze along it; from the eighth you looked back kiel's wheel dream beside the platforms on the slope and saw the thatched houses of Babylon with much of the same old you had left behind under passing shad- delight. Still I never went back with ows, and rounded white clouds going them to the faded footpath. They are all straight for the distant hills, each cloud faded now, these footpaths. visibly bulging and bowed down like a The walnut-trees are dead at home. bag. I cannot think how the distant They gave such a thick shade when the thatched houses came to stand out with fruit was juicy ripe, and the hoods cracked such clear definition and etched outline as they fell; they peeled as easy as taking and bluish shadows; and beyond these off a glove; the sweetest and nuttiest of was the uncertain vale that had no individ- fruit. It was delicious to sit there with a uality, but the trees put their arms to- great volume of Sir Walter Scott, half in gether and became one. All these were sunshine, half in shade, dreaming of meadows, every step was among grass, " Kenilworth "and Wayland Smith's cave; beautiful grass, and the cuckoos sang as only the difficulty was to balance the luxif they had found paradise. A hundred uries, when to peel the walnuts and when years ago a little old man with silver to read the book, and how to adjust one buckles on his shoes used to walk along self to perfection so as to get the exact this footpath once a week in summer, tak amount of sunshine and shadow. Too ing his children over to drink milk at the much luxury. There was a story, too, farm; but though he set them every time I told by oné Abu-Kaka ibn Ja'is, of the
caravan that set forth in 1483 to cross the | alive. The book I have still, it cannot
learned men point out to me a number of
This is only his pragmatic we don't know what to say to accepting way; the circumstance is doubtless historic.
such evidence unsupported. Secondly,
John Brown cannot be found to bear testi- l had a responsible physician's cares and mony. Thirdly, there are no ghosts there; anxieties; John Lawrence and young that can be demonstrated. It renders a Mordaunt walked daily up and down the case unsubstantial to introduce these long slope to enquire; acquaintances flimsy spirits. Fourthly, the map is lost, wrote reams of condolences ; every one, and it might be asked, was there ever in short, did everything that was incumsuch a map? Fifthly, the people are all bent, but that was all. Seeing that he gone. Sixthly, no one ever saw any par- was doomed, it was perhaps as well, and ticular sparkle on the brook there, and the yet surely a death that is scarcely mourned clouds appear to be of the same common- at all is a more tragic thing, if one thinks place order that go about everywhere. of it, than a death that is mourned by Seventhly, no one can find these footpaths, thousands. which probably led nowhere; and as for John Lawrence found the condolences the little old man with silver buckles on hard work. The village people of Luglihis shoes, it is a story only fit for some ano especially, were untiring in enquiries one in his dotage. You can't expect grave and expressions of friendly sympathy. It and considerate men to take your story as was quite a great event, a sort of melanit stands; they must consult the ordnance choly festivity to them. This magnificent survey and Domesday Book; and the signore —so young, rich, handsome, with fact is, you have not got the shadow of a his wife, and child, and doctor, his maid. foundation on which to carry your case servants and menservants, and everything into court. I may resent this, but I can- that heart could desire! For such a one not deny that the argument is very black to die was to bring the underlying equal. against me, and I begin to think that my ity of rich and poor not always an easy senses have deceived me. It is as they matter to believe in — into bighly edifying say. No one else seems to have seen the relief. They could not help feeling, for sparkle on the brook, or heard the music instance, that it was a more affecting at the hatch, or to have felt back through spectacle than that of Tomaso Botti's wife, the centuries; and when I try to describe who was also dying of consumption, and these things to them they look at me with who would leave a husband and four small stolid incredulity. No one seems to un children to lament her. Poor Marianetta derstand how I got food from the clouds, Botti! they knew her well, a more indusnor what there was in the night, nor why trious, faithful soul never breathed, nor a it is not so good to look at it out of win- better wife. Still, she was only the same dow. They turn their faces away from as themselves, and had tended her little me, so that perhaps after all I was mis- plot of vineyard, and led her goats to pastaken, and there never was any such place, ture as long as she could move, and now or any such meadows, and I was never was lying in the little, dark, unplastered there. And perhaps in course of time I cabin, waiting for that summons which shall find out also, when I pass away seemed so long in coming. How different physically, that as matter of fact there from this milordo, on his soft bed with all never was any earth.
his comforts and luxuries! Yet perhaps RICHARD JEFFERIES. the same coach would be sent for both,
they said to one another, not without a
John Lawrence took great pains to
evade these kindly demonstrations. He
make a hypocrite of him, seeing that, like AUTHOR OF "HURRISH, A STUDY," ETC. young Mordaunt, he could not profess to BOOK VI. — THE CURTAIN FALLS.
There were moments, indeed,
when he felt inclined to show openly that CHAPTER III.
he was the reverse, if only by way of vinYes, and it was in that fact that the dicating his hones Practically, how special tragedy of this death-bed lay. His ever, he did not do so. That invisible wife and his mother apart, no one wis potentate, whose sign-manual none of us sorry, not a single soul of those who knew dare openly flout, restrained him, and he him cared one jot whether he lived or doffed his cap to it like the rest. Inwarddied. There was not even much pre- ly, however, his sense of emancipation tence. The servants went about with was complete. It was better, far better decorously elongated faces; Dr. Mulligan that he should die ! who, he asked himself,
BY THE HON, EMILY LAWLESS.