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MARSH LEAVES .
('Young Out of Print. Ray at the Hospital Cloth. small. Drawing and Vision. is. limited to 300 numbered copies. 6d. destroyed. Illustrated. Medium i. Luxe. de Luxe. limited to 175 copies.) Photography. Myths and Phantasies. Naturalistic Press. is. . 2s. limited to 200 copies. Illustrated with 40 plates. Cloth.') Third Edition. Being 12 Autogravures. twenty Pictures from Life in Field and Fen. Edition de Luxe. three left. 125. All plates destroyed. Edition de us. limited to 500 copies. with Introductory Essay and Notes. . 55. Illustrations. English Idyls. Cloth. All plates destroyed. 2s. limited to 100 numbered copies. Svo. Cloth. 7. 6s. East Coast Yarns. Folio. (In the Nature Stories. limited to 75 numbered copies. A of the Fens. Paper Boards. 6d. all sold. Cloth. and 50 smaller Second Edition. is. 6d. 6s. Paper cover. a Ordinary Edition. jio. . : Student Life. Illustrated Edition de Ordinary All plates Pictures Luxe. Tales from Welsh Wales. limited to 100 copies. Ordinary Edition. Life Illustrated All plates destroyed. with 15 Price Svo. Idyls of the Norfolk Broads. 5. 35. . Perspective Out of print. 6d. limited to 50 numbered copies. Folio. i. Crown Svo. numbered and All plates destroyed. 5. Folio. Svo. on a Tidal Water. 3 s. Birds. left. Fancy Cloth. Edition de Luxe. i. Welsh Fairy Tales and Hoards. stiff paper covers. in Portfolio. IDS. Burnt-cork Artiste. Cloth. 75. 6. of East Anglian with 32 Photo-Etchings and 15 small Illustrations. is.) Out of print. 6s.t&e Paul same Life. is. i. Second Wild with 30 Photogravures. plates Illustrated with 18 full-page Medium 8vo. Photo-Etchings. Pan. Ordinary Edition. JOINT-AUTHOR OF Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads. a Picture of London Medical (By Subscription. 3. i. Signor Lippo : Son Svo. Beasts Crown Svo. Svo. Edition. and Fishes of the Norfolk Broadland. 2s. limited to loo copies. Ordinary Edition. 6d. other Stories. . Photogravures. 53. Being 20 Edition in Portfolio. limited to 100 copies. with Introductory Essay. limited to 25 copies. On English Lagoons. ys. 55. Edition de Luxe.. Post Svo.
' LONDON Published by DAVID NUTT S IX THE T HAND 1895 .MARSH LEAVES BY EMERSON WITH SIXTEEN PHOTO-ETCHINGS FROM PLATES TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR : She shall wreathe them in shackles. Shall weave them in fetters.
TO MY FRIEND AND PUBLISHER ALFRED NUTT .
.75 . THE PENMAN'S CLOCK. .48 . GOLD AND BRONZE. . . . XXV. ON THE SANDHILLS. .71 . THE TWO WAYS. CONSCIENCE MUCK-RAKE.22 .. OLD WROTE. A HORSE-DEALER'S DEATH LAST WISH. . . . .65 . BIRD'S SLEEP.46 . . A NIGHT-WALK IN EARLY SPRING. . . . . . . IX. A SAD DOCUMENT . ii. . . COUNTRY COCKNEYS. . THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE. . . . . . .26 29 ..58 .. A MOONLIT MIDNIGHT. .56 .. . XXIII. . . . . RETURN OF SPRING.. . XXIX. . XVIII.. . . . . . . . . . . . XXVIII. . . ... .5 PAGE 8 IV. . xi. .20 . VIII. A LANDSCAPE. . . . . . . .11 . . . . FINE LADIES.66 . . DROPPED EGGS. ... . . . . XXI. XIV. .50 52 CUCKOO-TIME.34 .73 . VII... . . VI. . . . . .. . V. . . . .. . .78 . . . . . XIX.. VISIONS.13 . . . . . . xvii. GROWING WEATHER. . XV. A BRAVE MARE. . xvi. 6'9 XXVI.. . . . MARSH LILAC CATS. . . . . A SON OF THE VIKINGS. . . X. .1 . A STUDY IN GOLD AND BLUE. XII. . .. . . . . BLACK AND GOLD. III. . .. .32 .CONTENTS I. . . . . XXII.6? . . . . . . . BROADSMEN'S FROLICS. .. . FIRST VOICE OF SPRING. A DIKE FIRE. . XXIV. XXVII. XHI.42 . .. . .44 . . XX.. . . . .62 . AND GREEN.64 . . .
. . .87 -90 -92 -95 -97 -99 . . A XLVI. . .. . . . . . . THE MAY MOON. . . -109 . . . . . AMBER. ON THE STUBBLE. A DANGEROUS THING. THE VILLAGE BIRD-STUFFER. LXIII. . XLIX. . . A LITTLE LEARNING XXXVI. XXXVII. . . l60 LXV. . . . BLUE. . THE VOICES OF THE REED.111 . . . POLLY'S VALENTINE. . A MAY MORNING. . .. .. XLVIII. . . .104 . .. .. . . .125 . XL. A XLI. . . AND GREEN. . .102 . NOCTURNE. VOICES OF THE NIGHT. . . .120 . . . XLIV. . LVI. ..134 . . . . . . . A QUIET AFTERNOON. . . . . OLD BEWTIES. LXII. . . .106' XXXIX. . . XXXII. . L. . . . . .81 84 . . . . -79 . THE SPIDER AND THE RAIN AND MELANCHOLY. .145 147 LX. . . . . . . . . LIX. LIV.137 .103 . . AT A MARSH INN. THE FIRST MARTIN. . . .. .132 . THREE WRECKERS. YOUNG LIFE. CONTENTS PAGE THE STRAY TURTLE-DOVE. XXXIV.152 .131 . . . LIII. . A . . LVIII. XXXVIII. XLV. THE COCK AND HEN. . . . . . . LXIV. . . . . .150 . LV. RURAL FELICITY. .. . XXXIII. . IS . BLACKTHORN WINTER. . A GOOD DINNER. SUNDAY AFTERNOON.vi XXX. . XXXV. . .. THE NEW WHERRYMAN.129 . . . COTTAGE PROPERTY.. .114 11 6 . . . . 163 . . . . . . . . . . .143 144 . LXI. . . XLII. . . LVII. . THE WAYS OF WOMAN. . NORTHERLY BREEZE. . . A DAY WITH THE RATS. THE TIDE-PULSE. ..127 . . XLIII.157 . . . . . . . . . . LOVE-TIME.154 . . . . LI. . .. . . . . . LII. XXXI. WHERRYMAN HIS WATCH. . . . FLIES. . . A COUNTRY CHILD. THE BEWITCHED PIG. . . THE IRISH STEER.141 . XLVII. . THE WIND AGAINST THE LAW..
THE FARM-YARD. IX. . THE MISTY RIVER. XVI. 34 46 56 V. THE LAST GATE. MARSH WEEDS. 125 131 XIII. A CORNER OF XI. 62 75 VIII. 90 102 111 X. Frontispiece. XIV. . THE LONE LAGOON. 143 XV. THE FETTERS OF WINTER. THE WAKING RIVER. 160 . THE SNOW GARDEN. . A WATERSIDE INN. A WINTER S SUNRISE. II. A WINTER PASTORAL. XII. RIME CRYSTALS. VI. GNARLED THORN-TREES.LIST OF PLATES I. BLEAK WINTER. ! 152 . VII. THE BRIDGE. To face page 11 III. THE LONELY FISHER. 20 IV.
D. F. ROBERTS.' C. . Emerge and spread new plumes In sunbeam-fretted dusk. On the Creek. Through pop'lous golden glooms.' We slip the world's grey husk.
one cold winter day when the nor'-easter blew keenly from the crashed through the ice from hillock to hillock forkful there. huge torso on a stout Forty years ago Old Wrote was a six-foot man with ginger hair and blue eyes. for his legs were notched and ridged like a I rope-worn timber-head. saw this old man cutting stuff. nothing riffles him. wading clumsily about through the thin ice on the marsh. saw him again the following spring on the yellow reedrond. but even he did not escape the matches.OLD WROTE E is always wroting about no matter whether 's there be ice or sun he always wroting about said. poling out a few fathoms I . with one of his giant sons.' the amphibian when the stoutly-built. bent old hulk in his eighty-fourth year his of a man now walked slowly past supporting ash stick. His big boots and splashed up the mud as he waded cutting a forkful of stuff here and a sea. and then he was the champion wrestler of the fen-lands fierce shin-kicking .
deep snuff of air. black-pitched boat was loaded with reedsat his Old Wrote fell down under the lee in the bright his fifth sunshine and on meat and bread meal that . Ha 's dar bor ! yes. nor yet wrote. .' and he flour snuffled thrice work was scarce forty year ago. and now you get three sharps then. 'Ha dar bor ' . and again he snuffled then he continued ! Ha dar bor bad times then . get three good times now. Ha dar bor used to get one and nine- pence for mowing an acre of grain in those days. too could ' drink a pailful then.' now lots of 'em can't When shooves. in his slow bass ' ' ' voice.' emphasising his speech with three defiant snuffles. the flat. Ha.' repeated Old Wrote I ' plenty of beer now. he was as deaf as a post on the marshes. ! and four shillun a stone. drink. but neither eat. his son's lips move but heard : nothing.2 MARSH LEAVES for of dry reed to his marsh-boat and talking aloud none spoke to him. Haugh ! and he snuffled a long. The son ' smiled. good times now. boy. and I never let the sun get the master : of me neither. dar! used to eat turnips and He ' saw . The ' giant ginger-headed son made a grimace.' As he helped load the boat he said. but that much now. and now you.' shillun. ! I come at the wrong time. But he was always talking about wroting and sixty years ago. But men were men then we used to bend our backs like a rainbow at work. used to get eighteenpence shillun for boating stuff. ! Haugh I could .
' said the old man in his deep bass . a young marshman who feared nothing. but when he saw a good workman he would always stop and speak to him. that voice. you don't wrote ' ' . smooth tongues. straighten' ing himself. mean. Dar bor a shiver in the hand . for he ate his eight meals a day even now. I heard afterwards Old Wrote had.. bor. work he did not deign even to answer the young men. saying they were more like * mawthers with prayer-meetings. kept a little farm going until he was sixty-eight.' shouted the marshman. after which he hired the finest river walls. and drank with many of the younger generation. slips of ragged land-ronds. and lazy ways.OLD WROTE his beer 3 day. and was at work in the fog cutting rushes. . Old Wrote stopped his marsh-boat. which was raging in the village but presently he came upon . by dint of hard work. when most of the young men lay abed afraid of getting influenza. for this hardy but deaf old Hercules despised the young men their of the day. fiercely. it is. Rather thick morning.. As he ate and drank he snuffled splinter ' and watched his son cutting a from ! his hand. hanging to the farming the rough crops of rush and reed growing thereon to provide for his simple wants. 'Ay. Whilst at this One river starry February morning he came steering along the through the thick mists soon after daybreak. when the times mastered him and he had to give up.
and one day when three of the villagers lay dead of influenza his sons told him they were tolling the ' little church ! bell. damn you. you keep on ' wroting. they know much to ring the big bell.' On this particular morning. 're Haugh. and he continued plans for work ten and twenty years ahead. .' or Old Worker.' I marvelled. much as he loved wroting. them reeks won't hurt you it. they don't like to get hold of much hard work. as the old man and his giant son navigated a light load down the blue winding river. could not but feel the as I men of those days were giants and saw the bent figure of the old man handling his pole I surely and effectively at eighty-four.' ' Ay.' he said. own wroting cutting reed. and how he had sown his fields of corn and herded his herds of pigs. and when thought of the pailfuls of beer. and he shoved off to his But at times. damn bor too they cleverer in the skull than we are. and fought and lived and worked so that he had become known only by the name of Old Wrote. * ' The only regret it was no whine that ever escaped those manly lips was that he was born at the wrong time. put that old scythe into you '11 be allright . I . 'Work was making better paid now. he felt that his path was not the most profitable.4 MARSH LEAVES 'It's rather unhealthy morning.
his clock to pieces one day when she was out with There he was in his cottage. His ear was quick as a wild animal's. raw-boned man with the curious a jumping walk of the true-bred fenman gait acquired in walking hastily over quak- ing bogs and floating hovers. they weeded in the springtime within the brightly -flowering hawthorn hedges. that did not deter him from taking of order. where the green linnets nested and whistled softly. But with all his accomplishments Still his fingers were ' numb ' when it came to delicate work. and much of the gossip that the old women talked when too. his table covered . a motion acquired by swinging the scythe over miles of rushy marshland and shoving his as deftly as flat marsh-boat along in the face of stiff gales when nothing but a breeze ruffles the surface of the water. and he could tell the name of any bird after nightfall. He 'd the keen fenman's eye for wild-birds' eggs a black fine eye that roamed to the blue misty horizon of his wide breezy domain. and the fen- man's lithe swinging arms.II THE FENMAN'S CLOCK E was a tall.
wheels and screws.
got on with his
self-imposed task, he exclaimed,
Ay, bor, I onscrewed her and took her works out, and then I got the brush what
Jenny sweep up the house with and brushed the wheels, but I didn't take stock where I got the wheels from, for I laid
he began clumsily putting them in anywhere he
could: some he fixed in holes where they touched
but they were
after the face
and back were applied he hung the clock up, it moved.
time he found that his old clock
in the fulness of
went two hours to one of any other
wife broke the
spring one night
the irregular machine
for the old clock
with the painted ship on red waves resented her force, there
was a whirr, and the broken spring uncurled and lay limp Yet the fenman was in no way disheartened.
took the works out as before, and taking the main-
spring and a bolt he heated the spring to a red glow, and
to the bolt, as he
would a willow wand
with a crooked piece
ping moles, he secured
gathered from a 'pop
he said himself
stopped the end back so that didn't ondo.
the gripe onto her, then I shipped her and screwed her
away she go
but she wanted a lot
winding up arter that,
set her right,
so I took her to the clockmakers'
she got grimy and
THE PENMAN'S CLOCK
wouldn't keep time
soon found the best way to clean
do that every year now.
dirty I takes her
works out and
an hour; then
'em on the hob
and arter that
grease with paraffin, and she do go
the clock struck
could in vindication of the
A DIKE FIRE
southerly wind breathed over the frost-
against the azure, and creaking
the dried stalks of the water-plants, or caressing the feathery blooms of
and the yellow enamelled patches of kingcups blazing by
the dike-side in the white sunlight,
powdery, gladen stalks growing
masses in a neglected dike burst into a sheet of flame, one
lambent tongue of flickering
from a blue,
vapoury mist, and
the ambient air with a delicate
fragrance of charred flowers, as with fiery tongues of passion
leaped into the sombre smoke-clouds and palpitating,
glassy heat-waves floating over
like a nimbus.
dying down, and leaping up into a roar
of passion at red heat, the long dike burned, but even in
strongest gusts dark lines streaked the pure flame when the
charred stems of the water-plants had burnt themselves out
the fingers of
Death were already upon the merry
the quiet marshland
looked on with desire, for
the quickly leaping flames
the herds, and
men shouted with
voices, for the spirit of contention floated into their
the madness of a fierce passion spending itself was
burned out, leaving heated embers and hot
ashes, the sun burnt
and the frost-burnt grasses
looked greener by the hot breath of the glowing
the dark-skinned frogs had crept from their slimy beds and
crooned their noontide lullaby, reposing in the hot
soft beds of
dead and sodden water-plants, while some, more
amorous, embraced in
of the dike, and
clumsily about as they were pushed aside by some
warmth and love over
Even the breath of the landscape was
with a watery perfume, instilling soft desire into the heart
of man, and even into the watery tribe of birds, for
resounded the voices of burning love.
overhead, redshanks whistled plaintively to
their mates, larks rose
on fluttering wings, singing before the
hens lapwings sported and played in the
passionate notes, and a sweet-voiced
lover's shirts to
dry in the bright sunsoft crooning,
light, the ringdove in the
wood took up her
the passionate turkey-cock crowed to his harem.
love, for the subtle influence of the
springtide thrilled the blood
and brightened the
for the breath of passion lasteth for ever. They were wiser than . man cursed with the gift of pale thought they loved fiercely and lived hotly while the They no more than the ruddy flames springtide was fair. whined and paled because their passion must die their . a rich and rare remains of the sane and brave in fires heart. in sooth. that man should go down and love and live. the principal blessing. . they recked that love and like the red-flamed tongues. must fade. and the spent to- day breathe into lives unborn a virtue more precious than all the thought of ages.10 MARSH LEAVES life. and the ashes of such living furnaces shall be as the ashes of the water-plants. energy was spent in living and doing. and wrestle and die.
and the short. perfectly undisturbed by even the whistling of redshanks. the ticking of the shy grasshopperwarbler. for the air was alive with their cries. sweet note of reed-bunting and yellow wagtail. From reed- afar sounded the laughing of snipe. All about in the moonlight their white glancing wings as they shrieked gleamed more softly than is their wont by . All through the desultory clamourings of the marsh birds she twanged without ever a pause. as fallen and a day was the bright moon up the grey-green landscape and awoke the birds.IV A MOONLIT MIDNIGHT T seemed sober lit as though night had born. the chatter of and sedge-warblers. inby a pause creasing from a slow voice to a crescendo. and to be an undertone to the hilarious cries of the wheeling cock- lapwings that were at times answered by the sad voices of the hen. whilst water-rail away down the ronds of the dusky river a was twanging the monotonous ting-ting-ting. followed she probably had her young brood about her. shrill But all these voices seemed to come from afar.
day their curious
bullocks a week,
week, week arter week.'
was vibrant with
and they grew so eager and excited
their voices took a
in their cries that
they seemed to speak
earnest was their tone,
think they were directing
the hen-birds with the young from their cradles in the rushy
marsh to the water, and upon such journeyings
the males to
overhead, wheeling and crying, guiding their
over to the grey waters, where they shall learn to
feed and bathe
a cleanly bird, and poetic,
loving to bathe his green crest
the mist hanging over river and marsh.
as the stars brightened,
towards the dawn, and the
moonlit scene, with the
mere began to
pale, I left the misty,
of glancing white wings and the earnest voice of the
bird of the moonlight
the crested lapwing.
has been written in
bright side of that
of the cat.
with deceit, has been given.
because I detest the
that I determined to
when not pampered on
rugs or upon the soft materials
of ladies' dresses, for the wild state shows your beast's true
wandered, then, down by a
farm on the marsh-
lands, just within the
fortalice of the
dunes, and there the dreadful
had previously observed
ways were ununmannish love of
warmth, good food, and
pussy's admirers were
or barren males.
innate dislike of the respectable creature was well
and he loves a brawl and a
to return to
MARSH LEA YES
pleaded, in a cattish way,
as an excuse for their pets,
and their pets pleaded
as an excuse for their poaching. in their eyes,' the girls said
could see their souls
and, of course, they knew.
have not some writers written eloquently (and foolishly) of
dawn, before the sun rose
over the budding osier cars, and I watched after the light
of day had faded from the landscape, and left the marshland
to the cats
and to me.
seasons the ladies and the
quietly along the
Gertie to meet their lovers, and the sandy and the tortoiseshell
and the light Cyprus and the dark Cyprus to poach
they met their lovers later on.
deemed, was no poacher.
found afterwards that white
but not a whit more honest
cats are too intellectual to poach,
than these born poachers the sandy, tortoiseshell, and Cyprus
picked upon the sandy cat and followed her as she
crept along the hedgerows,
green with young hawthorn
watched her stop at times and
her head raised, ears erect, and
curled round her,
crept along and
through hedgerows, going on a poaching cat-line for half a
mile to the
at the foot of the sandhills, as
or burrows are picturesquely called in roar of the sea in the
drowned the noise of
the green marram-crested tussock, where the leaves of the
mixed with the sandy
she neared the burgh the sentinel rabbit
tapped the hollow, dry ground quickly with his hind feet
and every bunny sat up on end, and looked for his particular eye
the bank seemed to be suddenly turned into eyes,
dotted with white
But pussy was too quick
young but well-grown rabbit
by the side
She sprang upon it, seized it of the neck, and these two furry creatures lay
sea. Pussy the was busily hammer-
on their sides struggling to the music of the
quiet, cultured creature with a soul
ing the defenceless and inexperienced rabbit to death in a
and feminine manner with her hind
soon found, of killing rabbits and young
expired, her eyes looking into
the sentinel stars that began to shine more brightly in the
ginning at the
and pussy began quietly to eat her prey, behead and working towards the shoulders.
After a time
learned that pussy could turn a
its skin as cleverly as a taxidermist.
pussy had eaten her
she dragged the carcass
to an islet
of bramble and jogged
innocent as any other soulful criminal, and as determined as
any 'reformed' cut-throat to return to her mangled carcass the next evening, after the larks had dropped to their warm
to her home full-grown rabbits. . forget the white cat. any poach. the dog. all. at a speckled mavish or a noisy black- after it. to mangle and eat own particular way. but. as is do some Evas. on occasion. Ere the smoke had cleared away white puss was off the fallen bird in her ladylike way.16 MARSH LEAVES beds in the dry tufts of grass. the intellectual I will tell it But we must not animal who would not when he aimed poach. but would follow her master about like a dog. It was well known. Puss has not girls sufficient gratitude to retrieve. after story. too. that if pussy discovered a nest young rabbits she could never rest until she had killed Nor is pussy always so careful and eaten every suckling. full glare of the sun. she would gallop off in her home with it. of of appearances as Eva and Florrie and Gertie. not too highly fed and once they begin to . though the think that she might be taught. She at times commits her excesses in the indeed. except a gelding. but that a gentleman's and when the good old Greek dinner customs return you. and rated her as the biggest poacher about the marshland. and so on until not a vestige remained. and turn her yearning eyes up to her master's bird. many of the amphibians had a just appreciation of pussy. and even half-grown kittens. and many had known her to bring hares. As I soon found. and having captured unlike a dog. like women. poor cats are so down-trodden by the superior race In sooth. will. especially if cat.
but stopped It smelt a rat Instantly he fired. feast However. and such cats are the so rabbits' most deadly enemies.' and played havoc amongst the rabbits. a hare crossing a field for know a marshman who once saw at night. in thornstacks. with their prey within easy reach. for hands were too busy to do anything but harvest the golden corn. and he will dwell the gusto of a ' Chinese gourmet on ' size and plumpness of the wild escapes he has at times taken when brushing a snared planting for hares. sondy cat. where he knew the old hare would be sure to come after traversing the Sarah '. I and remember an old fenman who once nearly got into trouble for shooting a cat-poacher. when harvest was had been held. and the kill largars Bob was c told off to the poacher. old. they will never disturb a mouse in the house. his prey ' ! came across the field. Florrie can no longer plead ' 17 mice. and on running ' forward to pick up his booty he found a big. or in plantings. A ' large tortoiseshell cat frequented Farmer Howard's all strong eyes. field. old over. they will often go off and breed in rabbit-holes. Sometimes he will spit finds the whelps. and he will tell you the young raise their hair on end at you.MARSH CATS poach. for they much resemble a rabbit especially in the half lights that they have but I little difficulty in catching their prey. ' and the following night he determined to lay wait so he hid himself in a ditch by the roadway.' for from that day Moreover. As he ' : anticipated.' A with friendly poacher will often tell you he has been the dis- appointed by finding cats in his snares. .
made friends with Bob. and I wanted laid. Bob. owned he had killed the cat. and maintains strongly that even lives is their reputation for averring that. smoking at his short. but denied malice. So I got this here ferret on to the hard ground in my garden by the broad. and hulled him onter the ice and went I his feet spread out. then went limping off towards her hole . respect. The broad was people was skating over and the ground was froze hard as a rock. like myself. * last winter-time I a ferret what was no good. I thowt him dead. the case was adjourned for a fortnight. The vicious owner could find no witnesses of the murder. black pipe. a truthful man. puss threw herself about and pulled her foot off.' said 'd Bob. owner of the dear pet ate and paid all expenses incidental to the business. having nine in this cat. The owner heard of the matter. so indoors. he will allow them no virtues. and finally the humble-pie. and ' ' pulled Bob for maliciously killing his cat. and I hit him with the flat of the spade all my might. Old Bob. and next morning the tortoiseshell Practised as he was in the art of trapping. and as Bob with his gun came but the stealing towards her. and and he gaped. he set the steelfall cat was caught by one leg. to kill that. the ferret tribe must take precedence of the ' Well. gun sounded across the silent marshes and poor pussy's thieving-days were over. bor.18 MARSH LEAVES baited with bloater. is no lover of cats . a great exaggeration. Two days . it. and her body thrown report of Bob's into a ditch to wither like the corpses of criminals in olden days.
Thinks I. no cat alive would have stood . blow me. that ' ! That was no use hitting on him. so I got the spade and flattened him out till his eyes started from his didn't head and his chops frothed and runned blood. so I Now. 19 my ferrets. then I hulled ice agin. I 'd shot some sparrows I 'd killed and blow me if that there warmin what pop out under the tub and commence to eat away with the rest. he didn't get up and begin running on the drowned him. I couldn't kill him. bor. as I start watching ice. if Now. him onter the on him. I '11 kill you agin.MARSH CATS arterwards I went to feed for 'em.
But at last the gale was over and the wind shifted to the sou'-west.VI LILAC AND GREEN OR five days and five nights boisterous nor'- easters or nor'. again. co co. piped mournfully as the cattle-man followed the homing cows. one patch the pale yellow glory of the departed And in that peaceful eventide swallows played and twit- tered over the red chimney-tops.westers had blown over the face of the into for marshland. blowing the clear waters many-coloured ripples on the the fierce breath of the wind red clay. 'Come along. discovered the many-coloured floors of the shallow bice green. cuckoos called sleepily. crying. leaving the green marshlands with the lilac. co . zone of trees and a low dome of a paler broken only in sun.' 'Come co co co co c o'. and redshanks. and the darker hue of the hair-weed. and a pale lilac haze veiled the distant landscape sky. pink of ear. shallows. along. for their young. on whose wester ward horizon a and tinted the sun sank light yellowish imperceptibly to lilac rest.
and Nature seemed sandhills. crooning lullabies to the sitting ring- dotterel and pied oyster-catchers.LILAC AND GREEN The light 21 . . and the dark-furred water-vole came forth to feed on the newly-grown shoots of the sedge. a trance right up to the green -chequered beyond which the sea fretted with hoarse voice along the shifting sea-beach. The last voice to be heard was that of the lilac bird the cuckoo on the green banks. sou'-westerly breeze died lilac away with the sun all the mill-sails slept in the in sky. As the the blue deepened in tint a silvery pike jumped in river.
alert. and the it gunner bought and ate a couple of good. Those twain were occupied a fortnight filling the cottage with furniture. and each day the stout. ' What. smiling ' . 'You always gun. who had hired the gunner from his marshes to help him move into his newly acquired cot- tage on the borders of a sluggish river water- ing the marshland. city-bred man chaffed the gunner with fine city words.VII THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE E was a stout.' said he. business man. quick. oh yes ' ' sell meat cheap like that ' ? asked the gunner. see something to shoot at when you han't a pointing jeeringly the village cat's-meat man. have a piece ? The sordid vendor of dry meats was slices. until and found he had swallowed the last mouthful. as he passed down the road. called. when the hearty citizen said . do he Yes. ' ! said the alert citizen.
' and he explained The gunner The to following autumn the fowl. bor. now. and he laughed heartily. And they went on the marshes. calling. they '11 Ay. matters. never a mushroom could he see. you get the screwmatics. bor.' said the gunner. contemplating the magic He was beauty of the great spaces of . walked down to the marsh in the mists .THE TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE ' 23 Ay. hastily dressing. and walk as he would. for the citizen was a .' and he stooped to pick a mushroom. eating. jovial citizen asked the gunner show him some ' Yes. 'we are quits. to gather a basketful of the succulent fungi but look as he would. and he shivered with cold as the red disc of the sun rose in the grey sky above a bed of reeds growing round a windmill. had been picked ' Very strange.' said the citizen. it 's cat's meat you 're said nothing. nor yet could he find the broken stalks whence they sharp-eyed though he was. but do you get home and change. 'Well.' as the citizen tried to extricate himself. bor. quick shot he had learned snipe-shooting round the muchoutside frequented drainage farms of London. But the acute marshman remembered the cat's-meat. 'What a number of mush- rooms ' !' he cried with delight. very strange. Cat's meat. and walked the jovial citizen into a ' bog up to his neck.' he muttered. or '11 stop .' Next morning at daybreak the citizen crept from his bed and.
solid As the figure grew and more the bewildered citizen recognised the gunner Joe. quizzically.' ' Well. a shadowy thing under the and kept plucking the white buttons from the a plant could the marsh. as he ran. figure when a appeared. Yes. but you didn't pick 'em did you it's ' ? 'No. this morning. shimmering palely darker in the eternal blue. when my nabs ' fell inter bog. rough-skinned mushrooms. as he held one hand and went along. stooping about I '11 his his lift- mysterious work ing mists. windmill. though we don't come from London.24 MARSH LEAVES and red ball of fire. but that's us quits. Here's a piece of silver. Joe stopped as he saw the ( citizen. marsh. master. no. the marsh was full of them ' yesterday. who carried on his arm a basket half filled with dewy. and exclaimed first Ay. basket in show yow. Yet never amazed citizen see. master. decorated in one corner with a pretty. coming mysteriously through the mists. as they walked home together.' said Joe. then.' said Joe. Joe . Joe. as ghostlike as wreaths of cloud trailing in the misty sky across the silent stars. 'Ay. very strange. Joe. natural composition of reed-bed. When the last shreds of mist had melted away before the sun. you got here all. looking grey. Joe explained .' something. and without substance. tell how you got 'We know ' those mushrooms. it 's the old story of the town mouse and the country mouse.' Yes.
' And him. the quick-witted citizen gazed thoughtfully before . 25 when we find musheroons on the mash we they grow better cover them up with grass or cow-dung. bor.THE TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 'Ay. like that. and nobody else don't find 'em.
and a trystingplace for peasant lads and lasses.VIII ON THE SANDHILLS HAD hills often wondered why that long chain of held such a charm. a natural vignette bewitching and delicate But that was not their only charm. instability. and wanton form and conduct. and one would come to look upon them as cumbersome as harbours for conies. and then I knew the dunes were full of the everlasting ring of the sea. But as I stood looking hare had started and a upon them from a field whence man was harrowing the poor land. That was their other charm. a monument of her changeful ness. surrounded by the green marshland a quaint gem of set in a reposeful back- ground beauty. so . As the seas break upon the coast and eat the land. its a I could hear the cry of the sea and smell salt breath. I saw them one May day with a loom upon them. for I felt if one but knew that beyond those sea-breeze sculptured hollows there of marsh and cornland their never-ceasing stretched fields charm would be departed.
And like the sea. and listened to the two-voiced sea. all studded with bent and flake-rusty bolts. flat land. regular hum of the working sea-bottom. splashing clamours of the foaming waves as they broke upon the shifting shore. when I came full face with the sea and saw through the sand-coloured gap. 27 the crumbling dune. the sand-developed flora of silver. the windward hollows filled with blown sand. and mounted the slippery ascent to the gap where the fishermen passed to their boats lying without the sandy fortalice. And again I felt the character of this marshland scenery a speck of interest floating in a field of sameness. now curved hollows. the near irregular. as the nesting dotterels know full well.ON THE SANDHILLS thistles acting as postillions. And I sat upon a piece of wreckage streaked with cracks and tunnelled with gloomy bolt-holes. as through a frame. the sandy waves burst into powdery drops encroachers on the land.weed and moves in stealthily in and eats the As of the sea is now smooth. . and the distant deep-toned. the matchless green and pearly ocean wrapped in a grey mist the waters edged with white ribbons of foam that faded away down the wet sea-beaches. sounding as if the pivot upon which the world spun round was grinding its in bearings out there beneath those green and pearly fields. sandhills. so are the now full gloomy caverns and bright crests. a form of composition beloved by the artists of the Land of the Rising Sun. for they twain are twins eternal I walked through the warrens tunnelled by rabbits and littered with wreckage left from some ill-fated vessel. a music steady and sure.
28 MARSH LEAVES And the determined music lulled till me to sleep in my bed in the warm marram. the mighty roar of the spinning world shall cease for ever and ever. indissolubly. and the sandhills seemed to I felt that rise and fall. the white flakes of the breaking like the waves flickered through the mist wings of sea-birds. and once again the sea and the dunes were one. until eternally united. .
IX A BRAVE MARE T is all in the breed. * heels. on the frozen marsh. but the wind had suddenly shifted to the nor'east. for are 's the most self-seeking in the world. He cracked in the ship. and a wind-frost had laid the mere and dikes with ice as thick as the farmer's middle finger was long. and so said the marsh farmer who owned the sturdy English mare. There had been a thaw that February. tails safe.' continued her lady- of her archest looks and piquant expres- And so it is all in the breed. however. his coil The marshman. renouveau riche who had been such * guilty of a petty meanness. were his lone cottage shivering.' agreed an old warrior. for your well-bred un never gets the grease. feeding. and had made the roads slippery as glass. went round with of rope and dog in the cold February twilight to see horses.' said the marsh farmer who owned the Irish steer. for the nor'- and returned to .' said ferring to a Lady Gussy. if his six to the wind. 'It's all in the breed. with one sions.
broken her way some fifty yards through the thin ice. the dike. and as his big boots crushed over the frozen marsh he started a lark from her warm form in the lee of a knob of .30 caster MARSH LEAVES had freshened and brought snow-powder and hail- shot in the snow-squalls. scaping. . and then resumed her feed. and began calmly to feed on the poor crop of grass The old marshman saw she had growing on the bank. rush. man started again. so he hurried home to the farm for help. The old man looked over the dark and began to follow the silvery line of the dike. only her head. a snipe flew up. Jinny looked up in the dark. and rump showing above the broken glaze and water. As he came up to her she placed her fore-feet on the ice. walkice- ing along towards the river-wall. the shore too was closely cropped along her track. He all recognised his horses by their steaming breath they were huddled together by the gateway. thinner. but he knew his feeble strength could never drag that powerful mare from the icy slime. As he walked by a trickling spring. At daybreak the old stars. rubbing their shaggy coats against each other for warmth. the big nine-year-old dark-bay brood mare in foal. too levels. and already her jagged path through the glaze had frozen with a darker. Approaching. made a lunge forward. withers. under the light of the wintry on his rounds over the marshes. when suddenly the icy way was broken by he found Jinny in a dense. The old man looked at his rope. But there were only five : Jinny. ill-shapen object. more all streaked ice . she was was missing. As the old man called her affectionately.
Immediately the rope was removed from her neck Jinny stumbled to her minute.A BRAVE his MAKE 31 Through numerous delays. shook herself.' as marshman remarked. with two powerful horses. Then the . straining. through more than a hundred yards of ice. and the feet. She had broken. did not reach Jinny before was blowing and still three o'clock in the afternoon. they twisted up and tied a bow-line which they hooked to the horse-trace. however. and man. the farmer. . and. putting the it cart-rope round Jinny's neck. and though the biting nor'easter icy snow-squalls the face of the land. powerful horses were urged forward over the frozen marsh stooping. both happy and healthy as the larks soaring above them. were passing over Jinny only trembled and shivered. and had cropped all along the bank on her way. with her foal. I saw her the day after. 'unconsarned as a passenger. stood trembling for a began feeding. The men dug an incline in the bank. the marshman. and slipping they plodded forward and drew the shivering Jinny from the mud and icy water.
ill-shapen in form and frowning in mien. grew pied around the horizon and tranquilly across the north-east. low-lying clouds. sluggish vapour- forms that later became edged with silver as the pale golden disc of the moon came from behind and peeped forth from between their ragged hollows. floating slowly arid sky. oscillating as does the disc. with dark. Shortly they floated past the waning bright in its left cheek. pale blue ground. When its the clouds had passed. the all clouds gathered pale blue round the horizon. whence come As the sun sank below the dull green marshland. the evening of an April day the hard sky. the moon floated clear in . and to rise all round the marshes dome there seemed from the numberless tiny clouds.X BLACK AND GOLD OWARDS blue. for the wind had gone to the snow-squalls and icy hail. black. fantastic in shape. dried and polished by the easterly wind. and took on a pure silvery colour and . flattened mimic landscape at the play.
clear night from the black bird with the wax-like crest that voice a sound as of the heart-beat of the silvery waters flowing sluggishly through the low marshlands.BLACK AND GOLD all 33 at once. the deep call of the waterair hen resounded through the still. in the silent night. .
one of the amphibians is a small-boat You may a bit see the boys at seven and eight sailing over the lagoon in an old coble with of torn sail. One sailed fine morning in May The a gentleman in his yacht on to the lagoon. for their pride on such occasions deeply hurt. a native of the lagoon. leaky old craft with the science of a voyageur. so he arranged to his match against sailing-master. sail The owner was a sportively inclined. the amphibians will blush to the roots of their hair and avoid is the subject as taboo. ronds and the water skill in sailing nor must a foreigner have greater native. towing his little jolly behind him. A newly-built . and the villages) can greatest blow the foreigner (from the adjoining strike at the waterside dwellers is to come with a boat and take all the prizes from the natives living on the reedy .XI BROADSMEN'S FROLICS VERY sailor. on the lagoon than a If he have. The little craft was called Little Maid. In this way they all get to love their boats. navigating the rickety.
and as the referee gave the word. but both carried well-set balance lug-sails.' the competitors sailed up to the winning-post. by nearly two feet. the word was given. fine nor'-westeiiy breeze was blowing an ex- A hilarating air. Young Rover in drew ahead. and then the clever old The Little . and getting in line. and the boat house. 35 much thought The Little little of by the amphibian. about three miles the broadsman. been settled on who had got into The Little Maid. where a tomtit had already built to the staith. The racer was taken from the reed-thatched boatits nest. sitting their boats as steadily as a swan swims. the fit made for the match. and luff round all Two stakes except the first. rounds. There were some grumbling that the untried amateur should have to show The Young Rovers prowess against the experienced amphibian. whose watermanship was yet untried. 'Off!' in. took The Young Rover in hand. 'lays' the course. fir where the iron ballast sail mast stepped.BROADSMEN'S FROLICS boat. still ' the amateur was cool. having lost the toss. Sheets well pulled first and away they went down to the Gradually The sailor stake with a three-quarters' wind. was selected to race Maid. that made the cuckoos call loudly from the coppices as the old willows to watermen assembled beneath the budding watch the contest. longer The Young Rover looked. drawn up was shipped. the yewbent to the big yards. and the amateur. about the same spread of canvas After tossing for in length. and was. who was accounted the cleverest small-boat sailor on the lagoon . a bigger boat.
pulling in his sheet and going away leading down mile distant. and would soon become water-logged. moreover. and first. for her filling could not be pulled in for fear of her turned over indeed. three-quarters of a Directly The Little into the Maid turned the stake wind and away she darted. and so on. and luffing round that. she had been many a time. he know how to put a boat about. ashamed to get course. started away back. she was leaking. the amateur held the lead to the second stake. away they started on the second round. and finally The Little Maid won by a hundred yards. however. went round the first stake. for he had long ago his was too small and boat wouldn't handle . starting off to tack across to the As of the two boats came tacking up to windward the amphibians swore terrible oaths. But here The Little Maid proved her superiority : she kept luffing up to the wind. whose straight.36 MARSH LEAVES alee the amateur. she shot up closer tiller to the second stake. he didn't didn't her go. close-hauled. discovered his tiller held on. knowing nothing about They accused the amateur sailing. low lines and small sail rendered her awkward to handle. the amateur bringing his boat up half full of water to the shore. shot ahead and reached the stake starting-stake. However. sailing than The Rover. However. . The amateur. held his Maid. where the amphibians stood with long faces. saying he didn't know let one end of a boat from the other. for the stake three-quarters of a mile off.
no boat can like that. for here was a real excuse. and at the word slacking out the sheets and going off before the wind like two greyhounds. said condescendingly think you I Ve done remarkably held his peace. and wherrymen listening to an animated conversation. well.BROADSMEN'S FROLICS * 37 sail She 's water-logged. a nice. flashed was wonderful the boats. The a night before the second trial the amateur sat with group of gunners. as The Young Rover was hoisted from the hard bottom of the lagoon and dressed with her seat in sail.' 'straight bows.' in his ' in chorus ' : Nothing could be done with a water-logged and the oldest amphibian. agreed boat. who had been the loudest abuse and criticism. Next morning the vanes showed the wind blew from the nor'-east. and the race postponed for two days.' 'litha masts.' said the amateur. excitement and interest shown about Then they turned to the amateur and began to praise his work. from which the words 'rocking keels. she 's half full . getting out . and It 'cutter-sails. sailing up dead-level. but he was unmoved.' The amateur The Young Rover was sunk beneath the blue waves of the lagoon in order that she might stanch. marshmen. and the seared old So they all faces brightened. and away they went to the starting-stake. . At half-past eleven the amateur took his The Young Rover and the old broadsman took his seat at the tiller of The Little Maid.' 'lug-sails' forth.' and so on. fresh breeze.
and moving the two remaining sand-bags. the amateur sailed in looking grim but collected. Maid.Rover trosh to windward Now we shall see what she '11 do. After throwing two bags of ballast out of The Little Maid. 37 minutes. luffing round the stake Little but immediately he got to pick-up. ' Now you '11 see like a racehorse. tacking the : starting-place. running down to the stake. Then the amphibians on the bank began and mob the amateur. when . leading to the second stake.38 MARSH LEAVES The amateur soon shot ahead and raced past The Little first. and so the second round thus (1) The Little Maid: time. As it they tacked up to the starting-stake and luffed round the umpire registered the times (1) (2) The Little Maid'. : And away The Young Rover time. they went for the second round of three first miles. The Young. : The Young Rover time. first and leading back to the to stake and round finishing it. The broadsman sailed in to the starter smiling with (2) triumph . on the wind The Maid began and before the second stake was reached the old broadsman had shot past The Young Rover. 43| minutes. and this The Young Rover could was all attributed to the amateur's bad watermanship. time. 39 minutes. the amateur took his seat in his own boat and the broadsman took The Young Rover. for to swear and criticise neither turn nor handle. 39 minutes.
and came in a winner by five minutes. watched The Little Maid showing a clean pair of they marvelled open-mouthed. (2) The Young Rover Our boat will pick him up the second round. : (2) The Young Rover as 41 minutes. he is nigh as good as me. and several of the who had been abusing the amateur came up and told him they had mobbed him.' ' Well. the times of the second round being (1) The Little Maid : 36 minutes. Little Maid's skipper down and up the his little first round the stake and handling and the umpire recorded the Little boat like round The Maid: time. The Young Rover leading to the first stake but directly the first stake was passed the amateur in The Little Maid shot up to windward boats started . and that he had sailed as well as the old broadsman. Away went The lagoon. The owner And the broadsman in of The critics Young Rover blushed purple. and remarked he was never so sucked in in all his life.' said an old amphibian. you so. luffing a thing of (1) life . 39 Away the amid much excitement. the boats ran down before the wind but the amateur ' . that they couldn't believe their eyes when he won. ' And the old broadsman turned and said I told Yes. who had been loudest . 40 minutes. and as the natives heels. only increased his lead.' they said. 42 minutes. boats sailed up to the staith the old The Young Rover looked crestfallen. : as time. well. and went sailing past The Young Rover.BROADSMEN'S FROLICS she's properly handled/ said the irate natives.
the much-abused amateur had sailed the quickest rounds of any In The Little In The Maid in 36 minutes. : The+Young Rover 44 minutes. was securely established from that day on the broad. he was just like one of themselves. as well as that of his boat. I '11 never speak about a man sailing a boat no more. Young Rover. and the amphibians discovered that.' and ' as he often lay on the lagoon. The times were The Little Maid : 37 minutes. he had learnt from a * native.40 MARSH LEAVES * in his abuse of the amateur. the unconvinced broadsman in The amateur's rival in The Little Maid. as he sat in his saloon at dinner. felt the seat rising and falling. and the sides of the cabin seemed .' old fellow in the little But one comer stood muttering that a jolly could beat their he didn't believe the boat. The amateur offered a money prize. warmin of and he 'd sail the old broadsman. and the old amphibian was so surely beaten at first round that he gave in with curses. in Young Rover 39 minutes. And after all. and away they started. after all. unless I see whether his boat be right first There was I laying all it on to the awkwardness of the gentleman. and the The Little Maid passed stake in running before The Young Rover before the the end of the first the wind. But the amateur's reputation. and arter he hev done the quickest round in both boats.' And the amateur.
one sees . .BROADSMEN'S FROLICS to be slipping as 41 and after sliding and all the world to be falling. so greatly are our by a fifteen-mile sail. sea stormy passage at coming and one can only wonder whether birds see our world it off a very with a rolling vision when they senses affected alight.
not a cloud as large as an iris-bloom light was to be seen graceful . that like children's pinsails spun the mill-sails filled wheels. and wherries. soft grey wastes. but to-day the sky was shallop-like full of and forms. clouds that floated with fantastic It sails lazily first through the silvery dome. like moist air a faint lips the creaking of a leathery hinge. and ere long from a shiny dike. The frogs hopped from the warm holes underneath the the warming clumps of old rush and reed. With apart I listened again to catch the welcome sound. air. and as I looked over the still. calm. a soft curtain of mist hung over the distant moorlands. and slid lazily into . the yellow had turned to a delicate amber. whence the voice of a mavish floated dreamily in the heavy Yesterday the sky was azure. the waters were silvery grey.way I heard a short sleepy croak. I heard in the croak.XII FIRST VOICE OF SPRING HE wild wastes of yellow reed and blue water that gleamed from afar beneath yesterday's garish sunshine and cold round easterly breath. was the day of spring. were the big black of the now more sober in colour.
FIRST VOICE OF SPRING waters. sung down in the bowels of the earth. black-stained frogs became more frequent and bolder. . up the moist landscape. 43 and and spread a subtle influence over amphibians. and birds. for the sun rose higher each day in his course. that rolled on to the marsh like breakers of the roaring sea. influence of the white light the voice Under the warming and ere of the slimy. there flashed before my mind the delicate glowing landscape of amber and silver-grey. of spring resounded. the spring sun settled red behind the reed-tossed fretted left and the marshland to darkness and to me. As sky. soft sunshine lit Towards the afternoon a misty marshland like tall sea-lanterns guarding the sluggish land from the yellow sandhills. beasts. as the shells filling music of the sea lurks ever in the beautiful spotted gathered from dead coral beaches. and made the wondrous harmonies of amber and The distant windmills rose from the silver glow and swell. through which the soft croaking voice the senses with a lasting music. its soft whose plaintive voice sang crooning dirge upon the wet sea-beaches beyond. nightfall the dikes resounded with their strange song.
lad. 'Boy.' replied the commonplace young lawyer. . 'Ay. still kept some good- and fattened some measly solicitor The had been called in hastily to make his will. he said calmly I hear Death. and said ' Do that write cedar or ink. Look here. lay me do under the straw and muck in the bullock-yard that will me fine. then dropping the black pen with * its bright brass band. the old man's steward withdrew. I'm going soon.' said the old tracing his name in shaky characters over the blue paper.watches 'em ticking ' ! And the solicitor and witness his only son entering. . I don't want no parsons nor funerals about here.XIII A HORSE-DEALER'S DEATH LAST WISH HE old horse-dealer lay dying in his little marsh farm. one big jump over the brook and I shall be gone. when we Ve jumped. the invalid looked up with a humorous smile. and when he offered the old man a stylographic pen wherewith to sign his name. dealer. where he looking screws Irish cattle. bor ' ? ' Ink.
and with humorous smile on his brave and wasted .A HORSE DEALER'S DEATH -LAST WISH and all 45 that long-faced. ' Promise. father. solemn-looking lot. black as a wet Friday.' And died features. the old horse-dealer settled a down in his bed. lad ' ! I promise.
in each drop of their blue the never-ceasing circulations. smooth sands with a sharp. where the gay swallows hunt is for flies in the summer afternoons. and beating. wild land. and rushing up the . dividing and spreading. with the great tidal pulse of life ebb and flow a subtle influence that swells the water under the bridges by the mills. that glow in the bright sun and are waved by the cold wind that the marram-knit dunes. battling into thin spray.XIV A STUDY IN GOLD AND BLUE inmost pulses of HEY stirred the my being. dragging the smooth pebbles in its mighty grip. frothy water rushes back to the sea. steals over the crests of Outside these shifting sand-dunes. the same influence working. sweeping hiss then they yellow the atmosphere as the broken. rolling in the great breakers that beat upon the shifting beaches. those vast watery wastes of yellow reed-beds and azure waters. where the swallows fashion their warmly lined nests from the ooze that caresses the distant stalks of the farthest reed-beds.ways. in broad channels and narrow dike. singing . through the yellow-branched screen of trees edging this strange.
one cannot but rejoice in one's manhood. the embrace of a mistress or the grip of the And only the desolate. whether foe. Big and loyal hearts gone down with the mighty Vi- kings who quailed not before man or beast. and in the brave hearts gone to rest before us. eat and drink and and live a that should not make the spirits of their forefathers weep when they turned upon their sons their sad eyes from the limitless night the men of the land of Gold and Blue. might brave fight life and work. where they love. nor before the titanic forces of nature. But as we gaze over the golden and azure land. up the rushy ooze of the shores. musical song of war and wrestling. where the flocks feed. and watch the quickly circling mill-sails and gliding ships. and gaining the mastery of the sopping land. and the watery tribe of birds cradle their young.A STUDY IN GOLD a wild AND BLUE 47 music in a manly. and then stand and listen to the roar of the sea beyond the sandhills. . like a serpent. wind-sculptured hollows of the dunes keep the blue waters from mixing. and as we watch the stealthy blue tide creep softly. but fought and conquered from the all roaring sea a beautiful land gold and blue.
birds. drawn from the neighbouring by . and two hobble-de-hoys the neighbouring parish. but suddenly they seemed to be occupied studying a . where they had lived all their days scaring birds. The farmer. the better by their quarry.XV COUNTRY COCKNEYS NE grey November day a little marsh farmer. as lures afar. whilst his friend followed the two who acted as beaters. as they stood with open. and leading the drill-horse to do a little pheasant shooting in a can* which the two friends squire's had stocked with coverts. who was a deadly shot. and beat vigorously in at first. using currants. r and maize sown broadcast to wandering far for pheasants are w ayward. every lips The two guns were on the to hear the first rustle caused nerve on the strain. and given whereas the homely partridge will never go from the place wherein he was bred. and tending bulstarted off locks. posted himself where he could stop the lads birds. tiptoe of expectation. raisins. The country lads liked the new work. natives of his friend.
COUNTRY COCKNEYS clump of bramble bearing unripe been cold and wet. . * never knew berries were red when they ! 're black. were two explosions of laughter from the And there sportsmen. they heard the elder lad say What You be these ' ? To which ' the younger beater replied fule. don't you know ' ? 'No. fruit.' ' They be I blackberries. 49 for the season had The guns chill air ' stood silent as statues. then.' said the younger boy. when through the clear.' * Consarned you for a fule they 're allust red when they 're green.' retorted the junior.
For birds do Need I tell you that the lark shall sleeps in a grassy form on the marsh bottom.' elevations in the marshland are called. most empty tit. dormitories for reed-warbler and reed-pheasant. may infer birds never and go away like many a philosopher. sleep. Every hedgerow. is filled with sleeping finches .XVI BIRD'S SLEEP F you have season listened to the voices of the night after season. dreaming perhaps of the wall. too. and you do not look about you keenly. and water-hen. whilst the rats forage in the sedge blackcaps roost where the and rush. for all things go by comparison. . too. harriers that roost on the or heaps ' of poled litter as the slightest that dot the marshland. sleep little ' ' on the marshes. whilst the reed-beds are warm coot. as you know by her dung. either wren or and the lower branches of trees afford minstrel thrushes a cosy bed. or on the dry hills. The wagtails and peewits. holes in trees have their living tenants. having seen but one side of the twy-faced shield. for rail. you sleep.
that you may see with floating like ships their heads curled over their soft backs. as life. things All things must sleep. anchored upon an idle mere. and these are the two sureties of . all must die.BIRD'S SLEEP and on the open water is 51 a soft bed for fowl and swans.
inter- secting low hills spread out on a flat earth far as eye could reach. and land and look about dark corners and into dark doorways and up desolate streets. my ship was everlastingly wafted over My birds ears were filled with delight as I looked upon the I and flocks . my heart quickened. when saw them working upon the marshland that seemed to make them hard and angular. for I was seeking the faces of women.XVII VISIONS LAY sleeping in this my : yacht. But the soft light under I . and I would yet whenever steer the ship to go up amongst the red houses. and was filled with peace fairy my phantom ship drew near those towns on the low hills. and the great waters. and as I slept I dreamt dream The world was a series of rivers. and was not of the world. My ship seemed for ever to be sailing on the grey waterways. I dreamt I was living in a phantom ship. and yellow water-plants. for they all seemed more beautiful in those red houses than . and the sun shone and the red-brick houses were reddened across the grey marshes.
for as soon as they had shut their mouths from eating they opened them to bite their neighbours. instructed me. but they were so sluggish and lazy that I noticed they did not enjoy these things as they might have done. and in those visits I would meet strange. and these coarse colours hurt me. and all manner of lies and calumnies crawled out. sucli a life my surfeit that to lead might be pleasant but I was soon undeceived. womanish arts of vanity way with and the black but as and calumny. and some were sweet and good. as out of a foul pit and they . for I too liked fighting. and the pale blue for I of the skies. clothes had given me. and often stranger-spoken.VISIONS the roofs seemed to round off their figures and fill 53 their faces with understanding. When my drinks senses were lulled I by the sweet and pleasant and foods. as a rough surface passed over the face hurts it But these people brought forth strange fluids in bottles. and the delicate orpiment of the iris. to oppression and blows I some extent forgot the terrible their crude-coloured and shapeless thought in . and they had dainty ways of preparing food that I knew not of. fighting in a stealthy. and their fat and shapeless bodies told me they ate too much. But I saw when I revisited some of the largest of that cluster of houses that the men concealed themselves in the . a man. men and women and dressed in fantastic and grotesque colours that offended me. and I learned how they were always their tongues. children. had only known the delicate silver-grey of the heron's back.
and take the beautiful women therein and breed up a new race. and it is said that one day the men of the marshes intended to arise and burn all the red houses. and they told me sued a painted moth called Vanity . robbing. tore greedily their food. who sought none of these things. Then found there were some wiser. beautiful and strong. for all things to moment women as they them were labelled to be eaten and most cared only their for things to be eaten. and they came not armed as a knight. but like a gliding snake. and struggling to gather up heaps of gold to things. but I heard they were accursed with the of pale thought. how the people of these houses thought themselves so superior to the people of the marshes. with a blazoned shield. but they were not. And and they spent days in backbiting.54 MARSH LEAVES same kind of dresses so that they might the better fight their stealthy fight. And I watched and saw how men rotted in their cities. and could not bear pain nor fatigue. brave and hard. and how they were soft-hearted. growing like the oaks. but they were thin and hungry-looking. for they dwelt not buy more luscious on the virtue of the thing. but. it rich and rare by the number of gold pieces I cost. but ran about like roaring wolves. . greedily devouring in the did pears or not. And I would have learned other things. and adjudged it like ravening animals. for in that strange world some were proud that they should know more than their fellows. all of one colour. as they called these houses. that these pur- that sicklied o'er their lives. like a starved snipe when the wind and frost bind the water-brooks gift .
my disease broke out. I my lips involun- shaped themselves.' womanish age . But I too was becoming womanish in the town. for . but this requires a positive 'Yea' or 'Nay. and to love to see what every dirty worm who wriggled more than his neighbour did. call civilisation. and could not eat like a man . and very quickly. 'No. my yacht was beating to windward across a tidal water tarily and as I looked round. and they set great store thereby but I found that the more the people feeble lived in the house-clusters the I sailed on.' For such waspish. for who chose to live in the such became men even though they had been as women in the houses. and civilisation is a heard myself mutter lips 'Our grotesque failure'. I was snatched back to my I and became whole. that they have made a thing they .' 'Yes.VISIONS But the men of the houses 55 brag. for they are like unto women in all things. the only answer to any problem.' is and 'Yes. I found that those were happiest and best fields. more monstrous and in were they. and just as ship. and as my dream. for I had begun to talk of dress. And suddenly awoke. and I loved strong drink. to find myself rolling backwards and forwards in my boat.' and 'No. and sweet in the saloon said gently ' Not whilst there is some one ' to love ! And I replied.
when suddenly the first still. are first . fresh The sun shone brightly. away to a distant coppice. blew from filling the south-west. immediately calling to mind is the Welsh and English saying. moist and warm. that the cuckoo's voice not clear until he shall have sucked a number of blue mavis's eggs. the air with midges and caterpillars . The Saxon peasant believes too that his years numbered even as the number of the cuckoo's notes heard by him in the springtide. the six clear notes of the blue cuckoo breathed from the sleeping. come for the flickering bands and the cuckoo's breakfast was early awaiting him all unconsciously. the marshlands with small brown the swallows had of midges. stretched far all blue in the morning sunshine.XVITI CUCKOO-TIME HE soft breezes. occasionally varied by a mavis's eggs. now growing tinged with green. food is the dish of fine. welcome sound echoed through the soft landscape. for his brown caterpillar. blue distance. and the fenland.
CUCKOO-TIME As I listened. one realised how this strange bird-voice spake the sentiment of the mysterious blue . again the vibrating in the blue 57 echo of his voice sounded last notes misty trees . in the soft music of the breezes. and when the had melted away mists.
for to drop an aspirate. well-formed. as all in Next to his work he loved good men do. she was faithful. spiritual. self. but a hidden to himself. sensuous woman.XIX FINE LADIES HEY were fine. is would most true men. He would man's heart have reversed the order so which I placed the objects of his affections. was naturally refined and possessed of good taste. his work was his second and in this case his dearest self. like that of all true men. for his heart. fresh. or eat peas with her knife. for his aspirations were neither self-seeking nor his wife. because she realised had brains tame and rather methodical husband spent never a farthing . and his daughters his very were his own own. hair like bulrush down. good-looking village maidens. to be ladies. Indeed. and they were being educated Their hard-working father had risen in the world. with of speedwell. and an eye the colour Moreover. His wife was a joyous. was impossible to this splendidly moulded woman. was in his work. all pulse and dash. She loved soft and gay raiment. This splendid for she woman was how her faithful.
but they could not attain the peran one requires to be born an ribbon with brown fect tonist in dress. unto waste. Moreover. her children grew up. she had no more idea what the word meant than the raw Scotsman knows the meaning of wit wut. like unto those worn is in the days of his early struggles . and preferred Offenbach to Beethoven. And yet the poor round about prospered this prodigality blew cold joints and stale bread in plenty to the neighbouring cottages. this darling of the sun. but not vulgar either . good soul. and they confused coarse emotions with music. dressed brightly.' They. for habit the strongest of masters. this joyous queen was grateful to him in her way the . whilst he went about his tasks in old clothes. for she was determined they should be ladies. but ate. and even : freely. 59 and gave her all his increasing income to lavish on herself and daughters. for such artist. but a different shade of brown upon brown was a mystery as hidden to them as the cipher on the stone of Rosetta.' to ' The Twa Corbies. too. nor in sham aesthetic gowns . she never murmured at the dull life led dressed richly. neither crudely. though. commonplace little town. and and tossed the money about by her in drank. whose smooth features began to mark with crows' feet. and ' The Song of the Hall. As fine. One would wear it a light blue tailor-made coat. spent her time in educating them. he would say.FINE LADIES on himself. primitively. Their jewellery was in carat commonplace in manufacture. and say was refined . They were taught to play the piano.
and other vain matters. they could not understand those very and kind. Your greatest wears no blazing diamonds upon his fingers. and in the fulness fresh. jewellery as carefully as a note of colour in a decorative Indeed. of time the proud mother looked upon five jolly. day.60 or quantity. to school to learn a string of doubtful stories called history they were taught geography four pages a day. those perfect jewels throat. go into the kitchen under any pretext they were sent . but never offered marriage. for instinctively she felt that a gleaming jewel to complete the ensemble of the costume must be used scheme. for its your most sake. grammar (Lindley Murray). man mistook them men who were One for ladies jolly. when woman's When she to the large-hearted mother had taught them what knew that was 'genteel. one the eldest who was really very friendly . brightly dressed 'ladies. none of them possessed encircling a of pearls. But alas for the methods of the middle-class! no gentle. but leaves that to coarse beer-sellers and Suffice it prosperous traders. artist artistic people never wear for own save when dressed the evening.' they were forbidden to sew or . and to knew not how make a cup of tea or boil an egg. and humorous. MARSH LEAVES The big mother had too good taste to lend herself unto such trinkets. a string lovely to say. But most of all they did the father always gave them plenty.' who were so educated that they could not sew a button to their gloves. not know the value of money .
' But that 's impossible is ' What the best training for them ? 'To be able to sew. Annie . ladies and that 's quite simple. he said to the soil. as this experimental age .' for so many. The pupil must be born and bred said.' he answered and turning to her sister he asked. Annie. he wanted a strong. and in a subtle way asked how girls should best be trained to become interest in educational matters. ' ladies. Annie?' * Ye-e-s. 1 11 me you will have marry you. darling. fresh wife. ' Can you sew and cook. though she was of the ' plebs. taking her lovely hand for her fingers tapered. artfully turned the conver- on education.' For he too had theories in for. but you must learn to sew and cook if I love you.' she faltered. ' amongst * and gentlemen.' she faltered. Don't you think so. for she affected an There it's is but one way. No-o-o.' he but the only way. ashamed for once of her accomplish- ments. ' Well. ' .' 'To renovate the stock you must go .' said the girl calmly.FINE LADIES sation 61 with an accomplished gentleman. and first. cook. ' ? he asked tenderly. and keep house.
Closely fastening the transparent glass so that I could. curtain blew idly about the saloon . see the tethered mill-sails tugging doggedly at the mooring-rope. the rings rattled. for the little tortoise-stove. a delightfully artificial. with her red mouth open two inches wide. exotic atmosphere. as her rusty simple slad machinery threw the water off the the lagoon.XX GROWING WEATHER HE innkeeper had just muzzled the closely little all reefed sails of his mill. which was. The atmosphere within the the boat being a delightfully impartial and tranquil one. however. a stout bit of I sat in hemp. gleaming drops of water sent him home amongst the elms. . and blocks and ropes on the mast played drum-taps to the merry piping of the wind. whilst the storm shrieked and blew in through the inch of window left open to windward. with difficulty. burned with a smothered rage on my right. into The postillions of the storm some big. as they galloped him and brought up with patterings upon my windowpast hurriedly to his pane. that had been and crying Tilk-Talk day.
I have seen vegetation move. wind is like his brother musicians. and other wind-fertilised plants know. that make 'em grow. rain. own wave-lappings and wind-cracklings. and brought curious and still paper.GROWING WEATHER The marshman had said in 63 the morning that this was 'growing weather. stopped the beatings of for the speckled throat. is never killed.' he said. The wind work 'em knowing wink. trees. should be heard and yet once or twice the gay storm-cock again and again essayed to add his wild notes to the storm. informed me. after the southerly or south-westerly gale in early spring. with a And may not true. for a brave heart. however. But the old man did know that was a fecundating wind. and bago. it is about. so an oracular old complaining of lum- person. ungrowing weather. as the pale flowers of grasses. turnips Yes. and the water in my it narrow mooring bay struck did at sunrise. .' the constituents of which are a temperature. wearing a moleskin cap. filled with jealousy. his . though enslaved. He was determined no music but his own pipings and drum- mings. he persisted that he had seen and in mangolds girth grow as in much one day (he in did not say whether or height) such weather as they did in a ' week of mild. warm and blowy weather. there wider and higher than The fury of the squalls at times shook adventurous drops of rain to my my table. as you a clock see the short hand of move. but . a fulfar on a marsh holl began to sing its love-song the unceasing fury of its the storm. Moreover. the wind had blown the water across the lagoon.
blackbirds. moral of corners. reed-warblers.crowsfoot. an you make these foundlings the subject of statistical inquiries. dropped secretly. sedge-warblers. find the snipe and cuckoo the most they never drop any eggs carelessly in sly . birds. and you will. starlings and larks. in little pledges of love. reed buntings. birds are the mavises. unattended. house-sparrows can believe anything of them). wagtails cleave find the air like living you may dropped eggs eggs unnested. hedge-sparrows. and the beautiful yellow flames. or in some lonely You in may this find the eggs of nearly every ordinary bird dropped mysterious manner. uncared for haste. (I storm-cocks. as do curious men. when the dikes are sprinkled with the water.XXI DROPPED EGGS S you wander over the green marshland in early spring. find the You will most immoral of robins. by the same standard of life. corner. yellow wagtails.
and the land was a harmony in gold and bronze. streaming on the bronze-gold crops of the flat-land. i . Even the bronze marsh-gates were bathed in an ethereal golden vapour. transfigured. almost with- out change though there were stray puffs from other points of the horizon. the mills gilded with refined gold. and the sail was full and drawing on our sheet. making the boat heel over and bubble over the tideway. These wandering breaths were inconstant and short-blown.XXII GOLD AND BRONZE LL day we had sailed through a bright. made our at scarlet vane hesitate and turn from the orient. cold landscape. for the wind had blown across the eastern sandhills from rosy morn. puffs that . and soon the tin lady with the great bunch of flowers was indicating the east. And when the yellow sun began to bulge behind the trees. tinged with silvery grey. the golden mill-sails. fluttered like the wings of some fantastic bird. and the same time made the great white sail flop. Then was the world The blue rims of fairy-like trees yellowed. a metallic chef-d'oeuvre of the east wind. a flood of yellow light bathed the marshland.
voting always for the Tories. the farmers' houses facing each other. and he Hasemere. ruined the flockmaster. One stolen a little matter weighed on his conscience: he had in muck-rake from Farmer Mason the old days. Upon old Michael- mas Day the farmer moved in. and Jesse Jakes was a shrewd amateur horse-dealer and poacher. Years after. and helping all he could. Jakes saved farm. and he money enough little became a respectable church-goer. to take a On the other hand. after a hard battle. But a broken river-wall. .XXIII CONSCIENCE MUCK-RAKE ANY years ago Farmer Mason was a pro- sperous flockmaster. and Jakes hura delighted face and brought back off with Farmer Mason's old muck-rake. last the At ried farmer had need of the tool. returned to Hasemere and took two a small farm next to Jakes's land. telling him he was welcome to it And Jakes was a happier man ever afterwards. floods left and fluke. didn't And every day he asked Farmer Mason if he want a muck-rake. lending a hand in unpacking the van. Farmer Mason. and Jakes was very neighbourly.
. I left the wood. already turning green under the hot. but never a sound could I hear. as they stood like sentinels along the river-banks. such as must have ancestors the hearts its of lair our in when some savage beast rushed from the peaceful wood. No animal called . which had that evening flown in from the sea. restlessly .XXIV A NIGHT WALK 4th. and hawked low for the midges circling about the reed-stalks. not a cock-pheasant moved the carr . and walked along the marsh-wall towards the mist- As I walked along beneath the dim light the dikes gleamed and resounded with frogs disturbed in their nocturnal love embraces. bright day. looking out for the first swallows. but nothing could I hear till masked river. no sitting wild-duck filled one's left the very silence of the moonlit night senses with a primeval thrill filled of alertness. and the sere marshes and green reeds looked thirsty in the setting sun. It was midnight as I passed through the wood. So quick were they that the silent. IN EARLY SPRING PRIL Spring had come in dry and bright.
68 MARSH LEAVES ! dusky waters were dimpled in countless places. their hard contours and feathery crowns softened into an ethereal effeminacy that charmed. and lo the slimy creatures were gone to the weedy depths. a speckled owl flew heavily and stilly was the misty night. As T stepped from the quaking bog to so fairy-like my boat. and one walked by took softly. . as if afraid to waken them. . Away across the marsh a white cloud of mist lay heavy. . As I walked on. . and reached up half-mast on the wherries. gliding noiselessly along the silent waterway. They on human attributes in the misty moonlight. the bare willows seemed to sleep peacefully and brightly. shrieking over the reed-tops.
Joseph Cottage Garden I Society for the previous year. Archer Burne- . turned the thing about and about. with white that stood on a table beside her. does sad when I look upon it ? ' * ' this pamphlet always make me dis- I took it. As I pondered on these names I could imagine the heart-burnings many must have had when a second-rate country surgeon's wife was made Lady President. judges. going to a drawer. petals. and prize-winners obscure persons of undoubted respectability speaking the vanitas vanitatum. and it covered that was the prize-list of the St. upon which a rudely engraved bee-hive stood surrounded by crudely cut flowers. refined. as fair. and dis- tinguished as the frilled gay pink anemone blooms. too -felt the sordidness of the thing the of patrons. or when an upstart landlord was made Vice-President. took thence a coarsely printed red-bound pamphlet. Why. committees.XXV A SAD DOCUMENT HE was a fair rose. As : I looked into lists it. or when the Rev. We were sitting on a sofa talking when she arose and.' she asked.
though a surgeon. everybody is equal before the Goddess of Love. when came upon the name of an impudent busybody who. and her smiles returned as she said Beautiful souls have no Debrett .70 MARSH LEAVES Then I Smith's wife was put upon the Ladies' Committee. much I told her. called himself Dr. I inoffensive knew why the organ of this and well-intentioned Cottage Gardener's Society : was so offensive it was the petty Debrett of a petty parish the parish book of snobs.' . was no matter for wonder that the petty wrigglings of the village worms should sadden her noble This simply ' soul. Jones. And since my high-born lady it friend despised the legends of the real Debrett. sprinkled over half a dozen pages of print.
do the dust particles a shimmering beam of light. beacons of the channel to the fairy. and the wild cries of the . lifted in the heated air high out of the green. For the tide tracts of wrack-strown slub. and palpitate. and whirl round and round. for all the white-hot sun made the scene burn. the watchman whistling 's All well ' as they fed upon the marine grasses. and flashing above the tide like a misty. and all the air was filled with the savour and odours of salt wrack. raising the greenish waters into frothy waves. leaving great their feathers. or preened was ebbing. stretching on either side of the bleached and green posts.XXVI A LANDSCAPE WAS tide. and in ' ruffling the feathers of the flocks of widgeon that flashed his soft waves upon the shallows. or watched the great gulls feeding on the mud-worms. red-petalled flower. and breathing the warm looking up of the spring- into the boundless fading azure. my burning cheeks fanned by the tonic dry and cool east wind that blew up the tideway. as and in flash. red-tiled old fishing-town. lying in some warm bents on air a salting. And the landscape seemed to be a dream.
spirits earthly things and lands the pale and sweet-coloured souls of things that had been. . cities. turvy. for a mirage was on the was topsyand one was whirled all away into a palpitating world. and and of a magic world where dwelt the joyous spiritual worlds. . flats. yet motion all of delicious colour. full where all things were lovely life.72 gulls transported MARSH LEAVES one to a fairy world where flats. And such are sweet memories. and impalpable.
XXVII THE TWO WAYS |E were sailing before a stiff breeze when I grew soft drowsy and lay down on the berth. he who chooses the poppy must first press the juice from K . in her right hand she reft carried a scarlet poppy. The rocking of the ship as I rolled gently from one side to the other. and in her left was a spray from a She seemed to float before my eyes. for the last thing remembered by I me was that was being borne through space on the wings of the wind. I choose. with a purple crown of flowers round her dark locks . birch-tree. and the possessor shall be bright and distinguished before the eyes of men but . And then I dreamt I saw a lovely woman clad in delicate orpiment. and the wash of the waves outside.' And dreamt she added 'The poppy is the emblem of success. her yellow garb burning with a deeper. and she held her hands towards me and * said My son. the pleasant creaking of the bulkhead. all lulled me into a delightful sleep that I shall never forget. redder glow.
and she placed had no a fair lady it wove with her own dainty hands upon my head. for his soul must be fettered in sleep or ever the But to him that holdeth the his path shall ideal. where I forgot all The sail things until I was awakened by a crashing noise. yet he get no fame. even unto death. and she held both hands towards me and I heard myself ' make answer when I in a far-off voice Sweet lady. and she pressed me to her glowing bosom. as the possessors of and not the poppy. and if he be not reviled of men. sleep. had jibed. but he will never have ever a green strength. so I choice. there is the stem and drink. but the green sap of the birch And I felt the white arms of the fair woman around me. shining face. and be hard. choice. nor shall his shall name be in men's mouths. the white milk of the sweeter. my son ' ? And * I felt troubled in my is and said lady. birchen emblem no fame.' And * the lady smiled a sweet smile.74 MARSH LEAVES charm worketh. for the virtue depart from the birchen twig. that he may live for his ideal. for he must live ever for his in glorious riches. and that shall be his only reward. son. .' poppy is sweet. But your Sweet what is your choice.' said the beautiful lady 'Now choose. me. a birchen wreath for was yet a child. my with the . and he has shall no reward.
and sparkling sheet-ice. could feel before I arose that a south- westerly wind was blowing. covering the colourreedy landscape and pale sere marshes. I grew from my window-panes. was less For many a day the hard blue sky. was half spent. in fairy pictures. smooth like the reed-stalks. hard. making them shrink and huddle together crops. making the waters look hard and blue and clear. but swollen out and modelled little the light and shade played in and out of the hollows and hillocks on my arm. My skin was no longer dry and .XXVIII RETURN OF SPRING ARCH. alternating with south-westerly skies. moon of cold. and all the fluids of my body seemed . in the withered tatters of last summer's lush But last night the yellow moon made the rime-powder flats. the month of cold winds and hail- and the wind -frosts. had glared over- head. storms April. sparkle on the dried plant-skeletons of the and this morning flakes of fairy ice. and silencing the love-songs of the birds. easterly winds. of rime-frosts Hearing.
dew and and caressing south-westerly Far away over the water. the hard little coppice into fairy wood rising and soft fleecy clouds floated across the pale. reeds that now appeared to grow in picturesque clumps peeped with dark tassels over the delicately blue trees in the uplands. to the foot of the land. and over there by the grey-green willow-carrs snipe laughed. with hard details. from my window the . and away by that tossing reedy bed.76 MARSH LEAVES my body. forming a indescribable. the eye would settle . richer me the water fluid and fish softer in colour it looked like a living like now. my was heart leapt within me. harmony And now the greenish -blue clumps of marshland had . vapouring. who croaked and crooned But when I their soft love-songs. was now a mist. grown more impressive and beautiful of yesterday was now a gorgeous the ambient air. grey-blue sky. crooning plaintively. just as the sap rising in the to flow wildly and healthily through was As I dressed. so long silent peeped forth into the fairy scene In the river before . fairy scene under the magic touches of the wind. I could hear young plants on the marshland. seen in the alembics of the laboratory. And as one looked over the noble harmonious scene spreading beyond. my horizon the landscape gleamed with living colour its the poor shrunken landscape of yesterday. voices of the birds over the marshland larks were carolling. and not frail unto the icy cold mixture of gases. where might spawn. But all round . were the frogs in the dikes. a delicacy of colour inimitable.
sea. turning away towards the softly sounding sandhills the showed a wan white above the green fields of the marshland.voiced birds sang. for by love. for chill grip it warm and living spring had one escaped from the of the wintry east wind. And filled could not forget that that a brave love . with the mysterious pulse of of life and at our feet the pulse beat through the world. and bravery alone were these waters tilled. moment. fellowship. here and there. and through all and over all the sweet. palpitating in its a decorative fringe of reed blue envelope of transfiguring mist. Then. reclaimed from the sea and the wild lands .RETURN OF SPRING for a 77 little picture. was on this day many years ago with man died that the world might be nor did he perish in vain. seen behind tassel. Even the sluggish rivers and waterways meandered life. as the peaceful landscape its with magic beauty and safe retreats has proved. on an exquisite some marsh farm.
going He man ' on his way.XXIX A SON OF THE VIKINGS E was a bright. when Ve eaten raw beef and pork long ago a good I Ve been to sea. red-bearded athletic young marshman. and strong of limb. a slice of the boilings go about their work. but that make men short in the temper. and long of wind.' . one who looks as though he could eat a jackass and a skepful of greens. and off they aboard. with a brown skin.' Would you have him eat the jackass raw I ' ? I asked. many stock times. and cut off and put into their mouth. blue-eyed. replied quickly. . youth from the city and asked him in soft voice the stopped. tallow-faced A way to the village. When we had our fresh you see the chaps out knives. And that go high too . . 1 Raw ? come yes . remarked I like to see a 'I don't like them white-faced Londoners. and.
Cook is a * rogue.XXX THE STRAY TURTLE-DOVE HEY had bought him a new cage.' with a louder voice. seemed to give him all the fire he required to battle with the frigid season. and on to their broad white Near by was the old box. yet leaving two lath spaces open to the cold. wherein he had spent the bitter winter. ripened . blazed the frosty constellations. his tail-feather shafts. latticed with rough pieces of His cage faced lath. in the winter nights. the cold south-east face of the sky. for he cried. His only covering had been a coarse-webbed sack thrown over his rude cage. the hungry rats and stoats from his and the laths kept warm body. that led away down tips. He upper parts and stretching was a handsome bird. for she Already the bird had taken the daughter's had left her native home with her young husband but three . where. and ate more maize. beneath the tropical sun. place. keen breath of the winter but the yellow maize. with his ashen twy-patched neck and cinnamon mantel down to his white under-parts. and he seemed proud of it.
the hastily it is made cage the natural And now upon its as one of the family. Then in to capture it was an easy task. eluded his grasp and dropped lazily to the ground. but the bird. . doves had left was November. and scattering the grain before the bird. miller passed The turned turtle- and the bird heeded for it not. nor ever will be by the old . and no price miller. when the strange turtle-dove flew down to the clump of cottages by the mill. is fixed head. he saw it eat. and most Still the fen-land. and to imprison consequence. Mindful of the ways of maidens he ran in for his lures. so the old man and looked upon him.80 MARSH LEAVES months. and sat upon a post turning his re- gards to the poultry feeding on corn before the door. it . the maize and an eel-net. like a maiden. . it the bird did not move. so he approached and tried to take the warm feathers and coy elegant creature into his brawny fist .
facing the sinking sun. a curtain so light and airy that the smoke rising from the near vessels passing without the sandhills seemed coarse and dark all in comparison. and the two bright spots in the heavens were throwing their magic lights upon the scene at the same moment. and adding a brighter lustre to the flaming yellows of the marsh-marigolds. unfolding the curved haw thorn -leaves. lo! one watched. swelling the buds of the elms. the the soft greys began to steal over the distant trees. moon arose. At sides. sunset the orb went down a golden ball bulged at the the yellow turning to a blood-red in the greying sky. brightening the pink clusters on the show currants. and for a moment the tossing reed-tassels and the glowing red ball formed an enchanting natural decoration. paling the cuckoo-flowers. filled Then the landscape was with a sweet and restful L .XXXI THE MAY MOON |HE burning sun had worked all through the mild and lovely day. as But. springing the daisies. But as the sun sank below the sloping reeds the landscape all around was seen hung with cobweb grey.
But gradually the birds settled to sleep in their misty . moment its the world seemed to but this still scene. villages. and the birds' evensongs . sweet notes. flawless.' as the lowing herd walked slowly across the marsh-wall homewards. farms. trees were gone. short. cheerful twitterings of the sedge- Softly the whitening mists entirely veiled the fading distance mills. the air cuckoos called from the mists. still first the ships on the sea were just ringing their evening the birds sang on . one could hear the curious distant 'aho ho ho. Again there was and a solemn silence. only seemed the clearer to accentuate the sounds coming over the distant plains. the short notes of the elegant yellow wagtail. Then filled these sounds died away. sang low. with delicate mist. and as I listened I heard for the time that year the ticking song of the grasshopper-warbler sung beneath the waxing moon that was silvering the gossamer wrapped round the horizon. nor was their music drowned by the plaintive calls of a snipe. all making that reed-buntings peculiar rolling heard in the courting season . broken presently by a whistling redleg. and formed floating vignettes of the most delicate. in the solemn silence. There. the hoarse barkings of a watch-dog at a marsh farm.82 peace. and MARSH LEAVES softly wreaths of grey vapour arose from the heated waters and ronds. as it circled male lapwing or the laughing of a round and round over its nursery. the voices of children playing in a distant village. and though bells. gossamer-like materials. and the silence was so profound that for a doze . warblers.
and awoke at intervals to as their little throats twitter or sing a sleepy note but were hushed in slumber the frogs took up the chorus. . the sleepless cocks called from farm to farm whilst the May of moon reached her plenitude. 83 though many were restless. . and they till crooned sleepy lullabies to the birds far into the night.THE MAY MOON beds. and was in a second of time the already on wane so peaceful are the workings Nature.
working hard slimy gutters. so in mud and should see to feed that the stupid Irish cattle the dike-edge. and went walking golden light home to his cottage among the bare apple-trees. tired out and later than usual. and crome his great for his work tall in the rubbed down wrinkled boots in the with a wisp of dry rushes. stopping on the way by an old dike wall to unearth a buried hare caught in one of his looking-glasses the night before.XXXII THE WAYS OF WOMAN IM. had put the children to bed. hard-working wife. As the yellow evening sun turned the landscape to gold. slimy. and was busy cooking supper. sandy-haired marshman. the big blue-eyed. had parallel been paring the banks of the dikes. When his he reached home. and cleaning out the green. some herring and making some cocoa for his . his scythe Jim shouldered dike was done. cloth-like masses of lamb's-tail all the March morning. neatly clad in black. with a clean. white apron. and not tumble in when they went along the rushy shores.
bor I did. He was Jim's brother-in-law. where he began to wash. looked up and Where have you been man ?' 'Been? you great piece of a think I should have To work.' ! ' So mumbled the man through it his towel. rubbed them on the mat. ' all right. shift them altogether before come I expect. Ay I shall have to pull I my boots off in the shed.THE WAYS OF WOMAN As ' 85 said. floor to the airy back- watched the great fellow walk through the room. black-faced man opened the door and stood hesitating in the doorway. ' been ' ' ? answered the marshman Have you cleaned your boots ? 'Yes. she shouted out ' ' The quick-eyed I thought you had cleaned your boots. the all this woman time. come you ' in and look at the . coming in and sitting down to the table on which the savoury bloaters gleamed. As they were eating their simple meal. 'Come in. and seeing some bits of mud left by his wife boots. ' Yes Oh.' and that's the proper place to do it' said Jim.' Jim answered as he walked across the clean-scrubbed brick house. . and a stout.' on the floor. As he would not enter.' cried the wife. 'Yes that looks something like bricks. the big man entered. his sister cried . and in.' grumbled Jim. some one knocked at the door. Where do you shortly.
tub. 'I come to ask you to lend me your brewing. stepped in and dropped awkwardly into the nearest while a grim smile passed over Jim's weather-beaten features. it's in the back-house. . don't stand there dirty. that .' said his '11 sister.' ' my feet are 7/ looking down in. it is cold. and they heard him take the tub and disappear through the back-door. you never hurt my house come and the fat man chair." Of course.' at his boots. it " Oh ' ! you never hurt my house. 's how you You ' are always down on is. ' You 're Well. When ' the door was shut Jim looked over to his wife. I welcome. . and said do. go you and get The stout man tramped all heavily across the room. pillgarlic but 7/ if there be a stranger come to the door. ' Oh. his eyes twinkling.' said the man. if I may .' And Jim smiled somewhat bitterly. ' take it now.86 * MARSH LEAVES Well But come in.' 'Yes. leaving heavy mud-flakes along his track. Yes. big a stranger isn't one's husband.' said he.' it. I 'm in a hurry.
. so that the native and moisture from the last sitting goose brought off only the children were far too laid eggs. because the careful housewife had taken each egg as it was laid. him a terrible peck with his hard and spatulous remember seeing a proud old gander kill his only son in this way some years ago upon a rushy common. They were quite healthy. one way and watched a goose. for the farmer had never fed them from the first. and the mother in nowise resented the crime. But even the three large a family for the hissing gander. and give the nearest I little yellow head bill. for he would stop at times in the bright sunlight. yellow goslings three days from the eating grass and following the gander across the rough dry ground. with her brood of fluffy shell. to keep it safely from the hands of the farm-boys. and the shells had become dry and hard by the time they were returned to the nest of down and straw warmth when the full complement was laid. but there were only three goslings.XXXIII YOUNG LIFE HEN I Man disturbs natural laws he gains in loses in another.
88 MARSH LEAVES As I walked into the lamb-pens. and was placed upon the Then with a quick stroke of the knife the creature was deprived of it its tail. following me and ran him round the yard such is as they would have done fact I their dam the love they bear their feeders. saw the shepherd whetting his knife. looking back. for soon the shepherd had seized a strong some three weeks back towards him. a worthy the regard of streaming-eyed sentimentalists. and holding it in his arms with its saw the old shepherd with a deft cut and amputate the sac. old. but when the shepherd's boy left appeared with the glistening bottle. and hind-quarters seemed to contract and draw up. I young tup. and seemed to drag after like the legs of the wounded lion in Assyrian bas-reliefs. where the woolly orphans little of the flock were fed from a large baby's bottle. as one draws a young radish from ground a eunuch. he seized each one between his teeth drew it forth by the root. and then suspected the glass bottle was used upon this occasion merely as a decoy. and the lamb wriggled once or twice. they to him. when walked out of the shed and stood if in a dazed fashion in the sun. fell on to ! its fleece (senti- mentalists should here) but alas as the its boy appeared little with the the lamb forgot woes. . as expecting some further surgery. A few drops weep feeding-bottle of blood . its ears falling backwards on its stretched-out head. the flock of lambs ran to me . the ground. Then it moved a few steps forward . and pressing the glistening root-like testes from their beds. its hind-legs were partly paralysed. its The little animal shivered once or twice.
fulfilment of such instincts bird and brute may proportionately to their instincts. that is ever ready to peck his intrusive offspring to death and such is the . while some not sentimentalists prefer to worship the lions of an unknown Egyptian. and such is the 'filial' love of animals a mere instinct that compels them to love. and cherish.YOUNG LIFE and ran after 89 him with as the ears shot forward and loosely closed mo uths. in the moonlit straw. a mere instinct. and she attributes brutes. offer and to them the breast for her the*' own relief. the young is is woman. two of the ewes I had seen the previous night lying. . In a paddock. with foresight and retrospection. were now the suckling their new-born lambs. and Landseer their god. But in the feel. great with young. ascribe the sentimentalists would to the lower But such is are justified of their aesthetic emotions. richer sicklied than o'er they in experience and emotion. that compels the female to protect the young creatures in her sight. . and follow a glass bottle as they would their own dam and such the parental love of the gander. one of little them rearing offspring of a fever-stricken ewe as 'lovingly' as her own children. maternal love of the brute. as happy proud Bantam cockerel that flew with a rakish air upon the quickly greening hedge surrounding the sheep-pen. as deep-seated a satisfaction as when the young mother suckles her babe. however.
as they sat still contemplating the wavelets lapping up to the low shore. though the blackthorn in warm. the early purple-breasted swallow. near the shallows where the water- and moor-hens were already hatching their rusty-spotted eggs in warm nests made of gladen and sedge. and left them rails to the sun to hatch. for the early flies over the warming and hen nests. and the sun had blazed down from the blue sky. In the budding coppice the blackbird sat on their speckled mavis precious eggs in their warm and even the tomtit was weaving his green bower in a hollow tree. and hawked waters. sending . cosy corners amongst the grass was powdered with the first white petals. The peewit could the ground where hear the snipe bleating over the hole in his mate's dark blotched eggs lay . and in the high leafless elms overhead the rooks were sitting on their blue eggs. and the white-banded cliff-martin had all arrived. The first trembling little martin. yet winter was to come. side the pike Down by the water- and perch had deposited their eggs.XXXIV BLACKTHORN WINTER PRIL 15th.
and white streaks upon the rushes. with your back to richer. . and clouds of snow swept like smoke across the distance. for as you looked at the storm. where the marsh and sky met in a light halo shining before the reed-tassels potently swayed to and fro by the storm. furious. like the beaded skirt of a dancing-girl. the colour of the marshland was deeper and and your heart danced with delight as your ears were filled with the roar of the approaching squalls. following him as he darted through the strong lines of white. and you saw a novel and lovely mirage across the brindled marshland. leaving behind frosted figures on the dead grasses. as the snow-wreaths fell into the muffled river faster and melted. with restless redshank. for the snow-squalls transfigured the distance. And so passed the brief blackthorn winter. snow-squalls racing in speckled clouds athwart the brindled marshland. you saw there was a deli- cate grey and luminous distance in that direction. and the mills and cottages loomed and rose into the grey. as you turned your your right cheek to the storm. for his is . it. the marshland And and throughout the wild scene piped the the voice of the snow-spirit on face sideways. contending with the storm and dancing before the reeds driven before the wind . The racing squalls grew and more dancing over the reddish rushes until they faded away into a bright luminous haze. formless void. 91 the bright mercury thread in the glass thermometer to blood- Yet the nor'-easters came with force. and the quiet crackling. looking like fairy palaces and spires floating on a luminous mist.BLACKTHORN WINTER heat.
As the new vestryman knocked the snow from his boots the surveyor arrived. waiting for the crackled against But he did not come. the white. When he stepped inside the . The newly elected vestryman walked through the storm to the church. bringing snow-squalls in from the North Sea. all sitting with long pinched faces in the cold cellar-like parson. smooth snow in the churchyard bore no footprints. When the day arrived the ground was white with snow. fixed. gloomy vestry he found the place deserted indeed. and a fierce nor'-easter was blowing. know he kept a heronry indeed. cold. of five vestrymen were now present. room. his breeding-place for these splendid silver-grey birds was not given in the usual catalogues. and the snow . reserved that busybodies did not who was so . After him the overFour out seer arrived and began to talk of the coal strike.XXXV A LITTLE LEARNING IS A DANGEROUS THING HE town of Reedmere was blessed with a and according to Norfolk custom the date for an Easter vestry-meeting was duly vestry. then the timid squire.
and parish constable. he said unctuously. as he expressed it. he said breezily ' As Oh. as we shall see. who wore his buskins and hat. and rubbed his tingling hands as the parson sat down before the simple table. and when he found the parson.A LITTLE LEARNING The timid IS DANGEROUS 93 the primitive saints blazoned in crude colours in the windows. James.' . called a . For a time came when the town of Reedmere had to decide upon technical education. he walked in and shook hands with the squire. and I trust nothing will mar our pleasant relations. apologising. as the old gang were returned. and the parson. attired as if bound for a journey. squire could stand the discomfort no longer. bossing the school board as well. Mr. we have held these meetings amicably for twenty ' years. After some delay the overseer returned with the parson. We generally decide quickly on our new men. so he deputed the overseer to go and call the parson. I really forgot there to start for the station. surveyor. and we will proceed to elect our overseer. but the was a meeting I was just going snow is rather deep. Then looking over to the new vestryman. and the dear old times were kept up. But the new vestryman had been * ' elected on to the school board as well. that the stove had not been lit that should be done without fail the following year. before beginning business.' The new member said nothing. as chairman of the school board. nodding to the other potentates. The squire coughed in a nervous manner. since they were offered it. his conscience pricked him.
k. The new vestryman fidgeted in his one of the people.' 'Yes. th in k work of time poor people an art even in amateur fashion. an amateur water-colourist. MARSH LEAVES His daughters fresh ' highly cultured ' they sent.' as the new vestryman called it with touch of pompousness. and painting.94 meeting.' chair. or a ' horticulture. beg to propose a meeting be called and the people be allowed to choose their subject. a I was thinking so to teach I myself. artless squire's young ladies pro- However. the eldest girl said precisely We should elevate the populace by teaching them wood- carving. and knew their mind. . ' for he was I think. It is.' * Yes. from South young ladies. thought. and the wise people chose for themselves. inexperienced.' The simple and tested. yes. the motion was carried. the populace would prefer rough * car- pentering. as Kensington were pre- And when ' the question arose as to what should be taught the peasantry. and the subject was gardening.' ' seconded Lucinda.' stammered the I squire. sir.
XXXVI THE COCK AND HEN T was cool there beneath the leaves. when he . dashed forward and began to pick by her side but she raised her crest. and he was fully. black Minorcas and the blue ladies of Andalusia. that morning arrived at the farm. and lowered her head in a threatening manner. She was feeding beneath a willow when he saw her for the first time. transfixed. he at length . who had just espied a magnificent hen. prolific in eggs. But most of young Dorking Langshan all my attention was attracted to a proud cock. still keeping one But she walked contemptuously away. Seeing she was cold. eye on her. and kept her back to him. where the hens were basking. but she would none of him. rustling willow- from whose green faces the sunshine fell poured and on the dry. casting cock's-eyes at her. quite throwing him off his guard. for he began to pick nervously at the ground. loosened her wings. There were spotless white Dorkings and silver-laced Wyandottes. sandy soil. Then he looked about him doubt- then sidled up to her and began to pick on the ground.
finishing up with a loud crow derision. with one leg raised in air claw half-closed. of disappointment or I have seen the same spectacle enacted between man and woman. looking after her.96 MARSH LEAVES and his stood for a moment. .
close by you. the grasshopper-warbler. lull. and the plaintive plovers calling ' three hillocks a week.' Then follows a side.' and you stop bewitched with the wild marsh notes a . ' green marsh ' but his distant voice is chorused by the harsh frank-frank of a heron. and startling a water-rail. who makes the reed-bed ring with his song of . week arter week. that begins to whistle softly. awaking the red-legs that fly round and round their nests whistling as 'a-love. whio.' as they gleam to and fro in the rising moonlight.XXXVII VOICES OF THE NIGHT N you wander on the lush marshland on a still summer will night beneath the all starlit sky you hear round you the voices of the night singing-birds. suddenly. and whilst you wondering at the strange song. The canary-like sedge- warbler sallow islet in babbles in joyous song from yon antiphone to the sweeter-voiced and more precise reed-warbler. hear mice working in the listen a stuff by your and you corncrake begins his cheap-jack-like vesper on yonder . 'whio. a nighthawk flutters by over and you as the reed-bed shrieking. sounds the mysterious clicking are listening. a-love.
driven forth by a hungry stoat. Even when the marshes * are frozen the voices still of the night are not hushed. or a coot flies with cries from his nest. droning snipe wheels round in the starsome sky. and the cuckoo seems to waken the ringdove that begins to croon to the moon gliding through the trees of the water-side carr. constant but change. Frank' calls. A horse snuffles near you. and only the cry of the sea a is heard away over the sand-dunes. nothing certain .98 MARSH LEAVES down the air over his sitting mate. where you may hear the watery tribe of teal and duck whistling and cackling to the moon. peewits and flighting fowl fill the cold night with their voices. Then mayhap. just as r a water-hen loud cr ook. and suddenly a cuckoo begins to in the still from yonder planting reflected mere. mayhap. hushing. remind- ing you that you have only ten years to live an you believe the old woman's rockstaff. laughing wildly as he drops there comes a call lull. and the frogs begin their intermittent calls chorus. wail. And a a marsh-owl screams. But scarce-moving cygnet passing slowly up the river like life a ghost recalls night. and a you to the fulness of the tide of by bird's cry in a stoat's grip recalls the tragedies of the night. and again peace descends on the marshland. is And you go home assured that nothing but death.
dry marsh stuff and water-plants. and fast getting in the doleful dumps. his coarse-webbed sack from his back. . he was as a Lynn mussel about it But I will tell you all The day was miserably flycatchers cold and cloudy. but their song was ineffectual. and great. I and very rickety pumping-engine. and they soon joined the other birds. a green. my an old friend of the old velveteen jacket heirloom of his keeper days. opening great with grunts. freshly arrived and reed-buntings were trying to sing. and.XXXVIII A GOOD DINNER DINED that en friand to-day on one course. he took it Coming several up. sails of which were pumping off a feeble stream of water into a slimy trough. he shot forth on the sod green black-backed bream and two small . when an old man appeared moleskin cap. and hid in the was staring the torn at a primitive warm. and an old pair of trousers with a leathern knee-cap on his left knee. weighing in puiis naturalibus full as nearly two in pounds season. black-backed bream. for he often knelt on that knee to dig out the young moles.
after a glass of ale at the wayside inn. and as I looked into her face I found one eye was a beautiful sloe . his mariner's certificate. 'What have you got there?' she asked. with a reproachful air. I felt reproved and sorry for my me light banter. that day sixty-four years old. where we talked fish. However. made out on April As I read the crumpled 'Mariner's Register Ticket. and beneath a budding willow. for the large tench were not yet out of the the weather was too cold and the skies too clear. and Jim took the sat a bream aside. brown and the other as black as a and as she returned my look she seemed to laugh a double laugh with her different - coloured eyes. 1828. white wagtail scales among As he was scraping off the for and skinning the big bream a merry-faced girl you must flay your bream. an old parchment with lavender 8th. He had been sorrowful moment when smiled as he told me it was his birthday. showed there was no smouldering ill-will and . letters. where the ivy leaves. I returned with my booty to the boat. 212. He was proud of his catch. unabashed. turning her bright door- key upon her shapely forefinger.' No. honest old face. It had been his birthday the day before. though at the time he said nothing. tench. came up. but in the evening he handed me.676. weighing from one to two and a half pounds each. and would help to clean . netted in a private water for that day. for they were all full fish. She was lively. and looked into the weather-beaten.100 MARSH LEAVES mud. for a I had made I him happy. the bag of fish.
and I reflected when I had this delicious dish on the insolence of the salmon-killer. fish was rinsed. brown flakes with their crackling were before us that is the titbit of the bream. for at that season the black-backed bream are savoury with the perfume of river water. dish for honest men. . and on the all-knowing cockney who prefers to eat bream in summer. who smiles when you talk of eating bream. we paused and chatted with the variegated-eyed maid. she off. . with the roes of five others. avoiding the awkwardness of a farewell. were soon sputtering and sprinkling the like pricks boiling oil needles. But she was equal to us. 101 so we all skinned them and scraped the backbones salt white as a hound's tooth. 'Twas a delicious meal . and a hard juicy fish. placing them in some minutes. on to our hands. and drying in the cool breeze. and the delicate . . . the bream this is a And if you cook him as I have told you. such as shall turn you fishermen the very next year as soon as the speckled thrush begins to sing among the ivy leaves. Your bream is at its best first when the kingcups flies blaze on the river-side and the sand-martins are fluttering over that is the bistre water for the early sluggish season. the rich brown outside. . and after every vestige of the flesh was gone finished I fell upon the red-brown roes.A GOOD DINNER the fish. and and water for when the ran . stinging them of And then to the feast . and then. the tender steaks. The fire was roaring. .
The little traveller skimmed down to the peaceful river. bird it flew with first wary sand- was the martin that had burst into the sleeping scene from the sounding sea. whence they the unknown. linger glowing the heat-waves seemed to over moist reluctantly into soil. And yet but four days of moist-eyed April had gone. and began to hawk eagerly for the indolent flies. not in deed. and many a heart beat more quickly as the news went round. would be registered in the weekly paper on the coming Saturday. for every one was as eager as this most eager of martins to pluck of the fruits that the season would bring. as it had done a week before on some African stream. beneath a blazing sun. more joyous . in heart life. The news soon spread from mouth the village that the first to mouth through His arrival 'swoller' had come. floated Suddenly a small flight athwart the burning azure . for in the spring-time .XXXIX THE FIRST MARTIN CALM the rested upon reed-bed and stream. life lusteth after all the goodly lusts if of the flesh to all the world migrates.
like the winch what you wind the sail up with. and her inside was out of order she want to have a box .' . and one day the pin flew out so the cog-wheel get out of the gim-cracks so I took her home and gave her . leaning over the starn after some water and all my I watch-glass broke. for I lost the . I what keep the time. A little it time the when was winding on up. took and broke a pin and put 'd it through the cog-wheel. so I took her to pieces and onscrewed the big winch. and took my shutting-knife and cut some more cogs ' in that was soft that hadn't nothing to do with the wheels Arter I 'd so done. and that used to go too that went days. cog flew out of the wheel. o' liver pills. up for a bad job she want frying. but that right for some time.XL A WHERRYMAN HIS WATCH WAS went after. totty little screw several what held it in. She 'd no face on her.
when a young woman in a scarlet jacket came and sat by the water-side with her two daughters. and the flute-like tones of their laughter floated over the mere. away so that the lagoon was silent died the very houses seemed to sleep. and a look of love. resting on his polished hoe-handle. spread over as the his sunburnt features. grey sky. and. silver voice.XLI A QUIET AFTERNOON PRIL 22nd. sweet as the music. drowsy music. her children gambolling round her. Her husband. and as he watched his eyes softened. who was hoeing the ridges of the foul grasses between young blades of wheat. looked across the water towards his young wife. The wind had all each reed slept and as death . and only the voice of the frogs croaking in the warm. And young woman played and sigh sang. the afternoon with her as she played her concertina under the thin. a escaped the labourer. stopped in his work. still air could be heard. When sitting on the bank the young mother began to filling play her sweet. and turning from the poetic magic of the .
and to waiting probably for an opportunity to return her grey-spotted eggs. for it was an afternoon meet for love and poetry tail languid and intoxicating. he walked across to the other and determinedly resumed hoeing up the the water-birds seemed to feel the influence call As I listened. for they had hitherto seemed to circle in figures to the tune of the simple music. of the music. . seem- the lazy smoke-clouds curled away above my ing to move more mazy quickly. an old willow crowned with When the music stopped boat-head. nestling up there on the top of ivy. the reed.A QUIET AFTERNOON scene side of the field foul grasses. 105 and the rude music. and the snipe laughed and circled lazily above us all the watery tribe seemed filled with the influence of that soft-aired afternoon. for the water-hens began to idly from . The little white wag- hopping by to the water's edge looked on curiously sleepily.
so that his face marshmen entered wore a more kindly. pushing looked curiously at the in first drowsy flies sunning themselves the dusty window. After a time he finished his paper. it aside. humorous expression when three great for their mid-day pints it was hot work cutting litter on the dry marshlands that day. 1 Bagman. . and. After passing the sele of the day and calling for beer. and he his was in the ale-house reading the daily paper : and sipping jug of six-ale for since he was a rider 1 his time was his own. dark goslings . and the voice of the great black- backed bees buzzing from the petals of the saffron-hearted crocuses blazing in the garden beneath gave a pleasant music to the scene.XLII AT A MARSH INN IS dusty coat was resting on the cart-shafts slanting to land. The shrewd and jocose rider felt the quiet calm of the country spreading over his inmost being. sunshiny green where a pair of geese fed their yellow his pony was in the cool. stable munching a ninepenny feed. a bit of warm.
' lor'. and turning to the nearest man he asked cordially what was the latest news of the village. they're pretty near all alike.' But won't they take rider. He used to preach temreg'lar. ' when I used to live at .' said the man. .AT A MARSH INN the sunburnt 107 men. lot. and they see him do said the dark marshman bitterly. they won't never interfere with a passon withit. There 's that Seaward passon. with their long boots and stone rubs thrust into their bright shining leather belts. bor.' ' breach o' promise o' He 's a nice bewty. his gown away from him for this ? asked the *O noa.' said the dark man. When so did Passon Gilbert.' Why. 'They're a pretty bad world. ' I dunno.' suggested the rider.' out he commit murder. they 'd far better have let the old curate keep the living when old ' Passon Gilbert * died. about this part of the Bad. perance at the Seaward and come here and booze up he was bankrupt his bill for spirit was over 30 and then thar 's old Passon Mason of Seaton he died o' drink . he wor in the bankruptcy court. Suddenly the bluff-faced off his rider roused himself. ' then. shaking drowsy reverie. * Passon Johns hev to pay two for hundred poun' to Maria Asseton marriage. yes as the old 'un.' added the dark marshman ' . seated themselves at a polished deal table big round finger-nails and began tapping with their on the board too shy to open the conversation.
He come late to and drove right * slap into the porch. call 'em back." says he. Time he was preaching the people They all went out of the church. He began drawling. and muddled through . the prayers and began to preach and he fell off to sleep. so and Groom. .' And the men's laughter drowned the humming of the bees in the crocuses. all '11 ' So the clerk he told him the people had near " Call 'em " I back. kind o' drunk.108 MARSH LEAVES Acla our passon used to go every Sunday to preach in another village near by. '"Fill 'em up again. soon put it into 'em. ' One Sunday he was for " Horse drinking his quart at the for another." out. thinking they was talking of pint-pots. and he allus allowed himself a quart o' beer before preaching." and he got tossing pay he had to church two quarts instead of one. few drawed in. gone." he say." a 'Time he was getting ready and getting his gown on. except the clerk. and he shook him and say '" 're all sir.
he remarked that his some of lambs were too fat. scarce touching the ground with one foot. passing some men in tanned slops loading freshly felled tree-trunks upon field a waggon. and a mavis sang love-song in the budding branches above. the ground yellow maize had fattened them too quickly for the butcher's fancy. his and was examining the proud. to a sunny corner of the near a coppice. * Ah ' ! muttered the farmer. and running forward he hooked the halting ewe . by its hind-leg. she running on terrified for a few steps but he was upon her. their woolly lambs. where a the a man was gather- ing sweet white chips into a roughly bright corded sack.XLIII ON THE STUBBLE E walked over the stubble. and had her on her back against stout legs. raising his slender. crooked ash stick.flesh budding . whilst sulphur butterfly its fluttered through the naked stoles. An old ewe with dishevelled wool hobbled by. whilst others fed upon the As the farmer looked round upon his flock. Around the bright part of the field lay some ewes with scarlet beet.
its full of character as I viewed its in its new posi- moist nostrils dilated. there was an expression of characterless features. whilst a curious speckled houdan cock and his and his patient as The ewe's head seemed squarer it and more tion. . as the surgeon pared away the hoof and exposed the the raw disease. seemed to and to be resigned . great bluish eyes rolling anxiously. Once or twice animal winced and suffer little struggled. but the insensible creature pain. resigned patience upon its And when hastily to its the feet sore was dressed tbe brute struggled and hobbled off to a tooth-sculptured its beet and began to eat only joy. at the surgeon under her hoof.110 MARSH LEAVES harem strutted by. glancing curiously they passed. indeed.
and burnished the clouds of of the white mists now floating over the brimming water-ways and gliding softly over the marshes. And now scene. reed-thatched cottages all peeped above the silvery sheet of mist. the disk pale silver brighter in moon. quaintly marked. shone the pale blue sky. all watching vapour.XLIV A NOCTURNE FTER a burning day and lemon sunset. and the landscape was a forth fairy the feathery tracery of trees peeping and silently contemplating the caps of the walls and garret the picturesque little windows of the cottages. where the reflections of the fairy-like trees slept under the bright moonlight As round the afterglow paled in the western sky. and the . grey rise wreaths of mist began to and still float over the dusky river. the quaint. I heard the leave the gossiping corner on the green. their bodies veiled in And villagers as I gazed upon the mysterious night. silently across the marshland. muffling the rough gorse- plants and spiked rush sentinels in a diaphanous cloak fine as cobweb.
All the tribe of birds seemed to feel the chilling influence of the frost. calling to his hen. reposeful landscape. blown by the in softest of night-breezes. which glided mysteriously down the bosom of the by the river. for a rime frost with delicate ringers was painting the mysterious. after week. and then followed sounds of muffled lonely doors. But of this slumbrous peace was disturbed childlike cry a young lamb that the his frost- whitened ground sent shivering to dam. only the cry of a restless child reached my ear from the sleeping hamlet. silence now sparkled and the nocturnal and mysterious far-off whistles of the red- was broken by the low. and the invisible snipe began to drone through the pale grey-blue dome quick the drumming sounding in the still night more like the . as she ate amongst the gloomy and broken old gladen stalks. and nature seemed to sleep pro- foundly. except the mist. a lonely farmhouse across the whitening marshland. to which the sportive cock replied by whistling and circling through the misty moonlight. Still the mist wreathed and swept above the river. the contented and comfortable call of the night-feeding water-hen. the wild spirit of the marshland. there in the voices of the April night.112 urchins their MARSH LEAVES play. shank. and a dog bayed at the moon. When all he settled upon the marsh lull and folded his bronze-green wings. and the plaintive cries of the green plover.crystals which in the bright night light. mirth as lovers parted at their still and all was in the village .' ' Three lovelocks as a I seek week and bustling about her young and ardent lover was a about his fair mistress.
the anxious cock-bird circled round and round the patient hen-bird. and beauty. laughing summer lambs. her warm body keeping out the dark mists frost-scales. lull of the night-watch I too . 113 it ever does in the day- flying like up in silent curves and dropping sideways. who dreamt all unconsciously of his worship at the shrine of love.. gazed upon his lovely bride.. In the next fell asleep. . some lover. and he. and like Mayhap she slept on the white marsh. who was perhaps nestling closely over her four large speckled eggs in a grassy tuft below him. and youth. and all was still.A NOCTURNE beating of hard-pinioned wings than light .
a large loomed through the by a mists. Never a boat did I see it was as in flood-time. come. flying over the ruffled water before the cold northerly wind. As my sail boat beat up to windward. when houses and haystacks seem waters.XLV A NORTHERLY BREEZE HE lagoon was girt on the leeward side with a wreath of foam whiter than the swans who scudding mist-clouds were lost in the driving. as I drifted back to a reedy . her white pushed aside by the cold breath of the craft May fir breeze. and was in a formless waste where 'twas idle to make for port. through grey mist. the mist that had swept in I from the sea hid the shores. flashed past quanted man as with a long it The the strange craft disappeared had . to float on the face of the The white mists thickened quickly. and silently began stone cottages. so. as to hide the miserable my boat beat up past the mist-shrouded beacons in the channel. and a stack of hay pole. shooting up head to wind. I let my sails flap idly. As I put my boat about. close hauled.
realised and I once again my that the expression of a landscape is as mutable and fleeting as the flash in a woman's eye. swim ten boat's- lengths the mists cleared. In less time than it takes a swan to filled. Nothing could exceed the this strip of landscape. for this reedislet was to me unto a palm-fringed to the castaway mariner. set like a delicate grace and beauty of gem sail in a misty pool. .A NORTHERLY BREEZE strip of 115 an island set in a necklet of foam it. far whiter than a swan that fed beside crested haven and there like I rested.
they keep a slow folks should do. they come and cut some wood. ' suppose their feetings lay eh ' ? said old Bob. of his new hand. : of 'em had a bit of leather. bor?' asked bluff Bob. all I know is. uncommunicative. aren't they ? quiet as the ground ? said Bob sarcastically. 1 bor. ' I was saying. a forty-year-old wherryman. old Bob. as answered the lad with 2 Yarn. . Reserved. . dunno . bor. dreamy lad brought up on a lone marsh- farm. with a sneer. as they lay at Catfield Staith waiting for the corn.' 1 and burn a spirit. fleet. as how I thought I 'd be lucka. I Well. for the fairies hev been to ours onest. fire 'Well.' 'That's a rare cuffa. rushlight. and 'nother time they come and mended the old man's boots he see'd 'em One for he had the power. slow.' 2 your folk are dranting ' Ay. the ole chap he a 's got a fairy stone what he picked up on the ma'sh white stone that ' round is. I expect folk.XLVI THE NEW WHERRYMAN HAT a d'you say. and t' other a lapstone and I all.
but give us a song. And she swore the old churn had the cattle 2 disease. . " bor. I have passed away. Tremble. lively as a lingthorn. I don't think a sight o'that. ' how do "Ella Barnes * go ? That go ' I knew a dead dairymaid Ella Barnes. do you believe in 'em hear the ghostesses. bor. fell Named She in a fit as she stood by the churn. ." or " Ella Barnes * ? I don't know how do they go . over their teas at ours. and blow ! me if mother ain't in the family way again so that rockstaff be trew. But drop them ' old rockstaffs and give us a song. ' ? ' Wai.' Wai. bor. 1 A-gatherin' the blossoms from the old thorn-tree. them only last year-day old Sal Hariner and mother was sitting talking both. Sweet-scented blossoms from the old thorn-tree. Why. the ' fust go Gathering the blossoms from the old thorn-tree. and the teapot was 'twixt and both on 'em made ter take it at the same time.' ' All right.' 1 Star-fish. I believe in 'em. what shall us sing ? Shall it be " Gathering ' " the blossom on the old thorn-tree.' jeered Bob. be I all of a dudder 2 when you ' / ain't never see nothing worse than myself. no doubt.' I 'ont Not I. There came in a shower of spiders and fleas.THE NEW WHERRYMAN ' 117 1 Yes. In the merry month of May. The hours * Wai. drop 'em.
sail hoisted. old Bob ? ' ' 'Why. you.' 'On a wherry that's different. and the lad smiled. At quant. ' What are you arter there ? What 's up there. and the lad was told to He managed all it fairly for him. and 'Give us *I like said that. rubbing lips. the the river. Blow me what are you arter now ? called Bob. bor.' So the lad sang 'Ella joining in here and there. and when they got into a fair reach the lad laid the quant to wipe ' down and proceeded ' the ! mud off with a piece of sacking. and the wherry glided down the the stream the lad got the As they to sailed down mop and began mop ' ' across the hatchings. the river. sweeping them know that 's onlucky ? ' hatches crossways. Barnes.' pleaded the lad. the beer-froth from his sail filled.' old Bob roaring and At last the tumbrils came up with the corn. letting off the sheet.118 MARSH LEAVES Old Bob roared with laughter. don't you Is it. sing that "Ella I Barnes. .' said Bob dreamily. and ready to start down A great few moments afterwards Bob came aboard." I don't want want summat comical.' t'other best. that be proper. length the wind dropped. wherry was all the hatches put on. and. and the filled. 'Damn no poetary . that's only nonsense. that be. then ? So you believe in rockstaffs arter all.
young chap. . * At length. when he recovered he said solemnly I Boy. you are too much of a gentleman I shall mane it for this here trade. office ax the master to put you inter the when I get back.' He didn't like being Shaggy.THE NEW WHERRYMAN * 119 Cleanin' the quant. 1 though extremely 'shucka. his speech. o' course. imposed and had an idea most people were impostors but when Bob found they were genuine he worshipped them. .' said the Bob looked dumfounded. And on. he did for Bob was 1 a good sort at the bottom.' .
When rise undertook the task of carefully noting the it of the brine-water. tide-recording most delicate All who have never observed it Nature's mysterious work- ings take for granted that a tide ebbs and flows at regular intervals with invariable and mechanical regularity. and delicate work it fall was. indeed. for a sixteenth of an inch rise or was invaluable. I discovered that took considerable its life- time for the great heart-beat of the ocean to drive blood into the little capillary and across the lagoon where I lay . some connected with the sea by a some twenty miles I first long. shallow expanse of water in extent. and after reading such superficial statements as are to be gleaned from Physical Geographies. the naif student might learn much from feeling the pulse of Nature's arteries as they softly ebb and flow up and down the face of a deal stick. on the it was principles.XLVII THE TIDE-PULSE T was my fortune once to have to watch the ebb and flow of a tide on a wide lagoon. The lagoon was eight hundred acres river a wide.
looking moving saw them robbed . slack. body of the lagoon was rising the legitimate rising of the tide.THE TIDE-PULSE anchored. of that afternoon. hastily blowing the in lagoon into ripples. but not so far as had risen. 121 level with the As I notched my stake and got it some time behind the almanac time river. and kept on slowly falling. and would empty. It like watching the small hand of was nearly midnight when I returned to the tell-tale stake with a lantern. top of the tide the wind shifted from the westerly and away the tide began to run and an inch was gone little in the cool glittering evening. And there was the water it had fallen Q . and by the bright starlight I saw the local disturbance had re-balanced itself. With the to the north. the water-hens calling and for the eggs I warily on the rond. I in a moment. for the subtle forces of Nature often work so slowly that the eye cannot follow the changes. but still it never returned to high-water mark. it is except at intervals: a watch. and raising the water my little drain a quarter of an inch. but as the wind it dropped the water for the great fell back. One squall heavier than the other actually blew the water from the other end of the lagoon. for the water feared drain me my was rising as it returned from the far end of the broad . I lit at the harbour bar at the other end of the my pipe in the warm April south-easterly breeze. quickly raising the water over half an inch . But with the setting sun the wind dropped. which idle rose. but surely imperceptibly if looked at steadily for a few moments at a time.
a surprisingly frosty air. small the jumping in warm waters of the dike. tide. and obviously.crystals and on these night-watches fish I heard the rats feeding on the banks. at others sparkling frost. bounding. a full. I noticed And throughout that tide-taking some cottages . MARSH LEAVES for upon a wasting moon more water runs away than rises. healthy creeping up the white face of the stake. 7 much to the delight of the spawning pike that I saw sluggishly basking on the hair-weed. for there was a good head of water on the lagoon at the time. and vice versa. for we were beginning that to feel the full effect of the nor'-westerly winds that had blown three or four days previously on the North Sea . mark you. So day at after day I took the tides. The next morning. eulogising Venus. the water. and restless dogs and fowls barking and crowing in the farms around. if the sou'-easterly winds had blown for long down on the North Sea our lagoon would . for. once it went so low7 in these winds that a hunted deer and some adventurous horses walked across the wide but shallow sheet of water. wind always raises the water of our lagoon. wild-fowl feeding in the reed-beds. we had a good good tide up. the flycatchers singing my tide halts.122 over an inch . Some- times my lantern revealed mists like wreaths floating over . and the wild note of coot and water-hen accompanying my registrations. it required a greater head of water to raise the spent waters of the broad. when such was the case. in the crisp tide up. Up it came. have gone very low indeed. and rising an inch and a half.
and many old bearded fish men with gaunt eyes spoke of the spells number of dead they had seen when. caught on the 'fresh-water' lagoon. 'all in weight. and I marvelled. and in the third lived a newly-married couple.THE TIDE-PULSE 123 by the water that burned a light in the windows all night In one long. and sent the hot spring- tides right up on to the lagoon in such an unadulterated for form that the fish were killed. With the tide. a veritable sprat. and salt water as high up as Heigham Bridge. in another lived a curious ways were wanton. though the water had risen a little at flow indeed I had seen as much myself. tide run down for three days An old fisherman told me how they often caught sea- shrimps in the lagoon. after long south-easterly winds. One wherryman told me he had drunk fresh water out of the river at the distant sea-port. the mysterious all actions of that young couple worked night long in the watch-lamp. and burns a candle to keep off ghosts. I heard. whose was a sick baby. the nor'. and from that my inquiries I discovered many a cottager is timid at night.west of dry easterly and shifted wind had suddenly to the on the German Ocean. cottage. and one old a sea lampern. old man. man said he had caught gay as a Poll parrot.' about four pounds and another had seen a sprat. and told me what they had seen in their days. Another told me he had seen the and three nights through Yarmouth Harbour. By day many quaint old water-side folk drew down. for the poor seldom waste. your bream and perch thrive .
and uncertainty. that the Geographies were correct the tide ebbed and flowed in my far-away capillary. but by my watches by day and night I learnt the life of waters. The twinkle in the lovely maiden's eye is but like the local blowing back of the waters.changing truths. and the dull truth that the reality. These twain facts are fundamental and n ever. in a brackish water. in such water comfortably. their passions their variability and caprices. kill them.124 MARSH LEAVES and pike can live better. but it is of what profound interest to men with sane hearts and sound heads ! . if anything. but the ' salts.' none too sewage pure. after : all. and that so we live. And when my even task was finished I learnt. but upon the everlasting tide-pulse in man and that give ocean depends the constant change and uncertainty life its zest. water's ebb and flow became a living tell What the schooltell books us is no more than if a physiologist were to us that the heart beats and drives blood through our circulation.
the one the squire. not in the least . and my game * like '11 it.' says . the other a small farmer. I * You speak very cavalierly you must forget who am.' ' No. you are for to send your carriage down my cousin. tenant * I wish you it 'd leave that long stuff on the marsh adjoining the coverts. hasn't been cut for twenty years. and you forgot my wife when she arrived. Formerly they had been thick. but now things had and as they talked of the worst side.' .XLVIII RURAL FELICITY HEY kept were cousins all his . the other. each standing on his his own land.' I leave it for ten pounds a year. one a carpet officer who old dinner-invitation cards stuck with studied carelessness round a huge mirror need farmer I say more ? the other a red-faced in the world who had come down and intended going up again. altered. and I had to borrow a farmer's cart to bring her up to the farm.
' . circumstances are altered. Then he they had went round to his cousin. certainly not. for he was going to live in The good-hearted cousin more. and flame. and.' said the tenant. are you going to pay it ? * ' Here goes then. you see. . as had all given he would not lower means. not under ten pounds No. stooping. and that he looked forward to coming down and the City. in a few moments the marsh was a fled in the of and the squire had smoke and flying cinders. Well.126 * MARSH LEAVES Yes. visiting them each year. he was living beyond his When this happened he had to come its down in the world and let his hall with shooting. . yes . he lit the long dry stuff to field windward. said always been friends. but thought the . squire's tenants his rents. said nothing. . taking a box of matches from his pocket. will ' you let that stuff remain ' ? ' No. Nine months afterwards the notice to quit far . shook hands heartily.
for he after the rarity of the bird. On a dark velvet ground his corncrake crept. as his magnificent old black epauletted cock heron with sable plumes and white his cuirass proved. Stopping and putting his work and. his works at times came up to his ideal. as he stood with raised his spear-like bill eel. stretching wing a turtle-dove. decorated with roach and bream skins. upon the withdrawing silently. he drew forth a fire-crested Regulus. but sigh sigh escaped him he saw the yawning shot-holes. opening it. drawn back and one foot His water-hen. his wife brought a it small parcel covered with postmarks and placed table. one too. . since he was a good observer and sportsman . little As he stood and prepared a frame in his room. and the tools of his craft.XLIX THE VILLAGE BIRD-STUFFER IS ideal was naturalism. little and bloody A sigh escaped the man as he smoothed knew as the tiny body. ready snipe like to strike an lay ran. and his sunning themselves. aside he took ruffled up the box. birds bound up with white threads.
he wrote to his fowler DEAR JIM. And he smiled placidly as he sealed the envelope. . Do you mind not using a ten-bore when you shoot these small birds ? Yours.128 so. gun and duck-shot ROBERT OWEN. placing MARSH LEAVES the little body weighing some seventy grains : beside him. blood and postmarks. The bird a fire-crested wren all arrived safely.
quietly than a mavis. two lads came from a cottage with long with snares. resounding far over the marshes. though his some of its sweet notes times recalled neighbour . or at times the teams' trappings set to music. but often the note was that of a sparrow. for they were in search of small pike or. their soft. Not a figure like a was to be seen. Presently the starling too ceased his love-song and . They went along the dike-side. till bright with kingcups and bordered by yellow reed. flew off into the blue quietness fitted and in the sleeping white afternoon ash-poles. through the rolling. one . a larger speckled fish in the delirium of spawning. mayhap.SUNDAY AFTERNOON HE church bells rang from the grey steeple. palpitating heat-waves. sweet voices adding to the subtle influence of peace that seemed to spread over the hot afternoon. basking in the dikes. When more at the church bells ceased a starling sitting on the highest point of a mill-sail took up the music and sang softly. though the flash of a red skirt leafless passed meteor through the dry branches of the hedgerow.
wire into the water.130 MARSH LEAVES fish. . it jerking it suddenly silenced beat out its life. he noiselessly dropped the slim standing back passed the noose fish. where for ever. stopping. unsuspecting o n to the hot marsh grasses. and gently over the drowsy. saw a when.
put the pig's blood to stew on the fire in a pannikin. Evans stopped the keyhole with bread-crumbs. and sat with her son silently looking at the fire. she pressed her lips with her fingers almost they bled. and the old woman looked eagerly round.LI THE BEWITCHED PIG OR ! that pig is witched.' said Jimmy to his mother at the mill one morning * in July. now. or else they been 's standing by the door in the morning dead.' * Yes. and get up early and the pig the first you Ve killed.' . boy. 'd it ' If you hadn't spoken they 'd a bursted. you 'tain 't fule. do you cut off her blood in a gotch and bring that ter me. she with her finger on her lips.' and cold the Boy Jim the did as he was bidden.' reiterated Jim. do you go to bed. Witched. But the ' scared boy said up. signalling to her till boy. pulled down blind. she 's witched. all done ' 1 said the old woman in a rage. Presently there was a noise at the door. eh ? wring her wallers the old warmin. tail 'Well. and then. What 's Dang Mor ? it 's ' * you. but now no kill good . and that night Mrs.
first '11 enough. so it is . and aloud. ' ' What 's up ? asked Wind against the ' the skipper. and at once hands came tumbling up on deck.' It was now dark. law .LII THE WIND AGAINST THE LAW HE fishing-boat Viking was drifting over the at sullen North Sea with a westerly wind one autumn afternoon. oh ! called the watch. it eastering. and.' ' ' What You ever will that be see. and light Joe and Teddy took the mast-head and rowed back .' said the sandy-headed Norfolker. three o'clock Three hands stood on deck two Barton men and one Paddy from Cork. it.' ' Ay. ' We 11 out the little boat. you go along tide in her.' replied the speaker. all ' Busky. we '11 blow back ain't over the nets . Joe Lame. 'Ay. sure ' ? asked Paddy. it 's blowing from the east now.' That blowing tew hard no. Teddy. < coming against the law.' ' ' The wind is bor. 1 11 try said the skipper to himself . if we don't do something. and the had begun to turn.
and the vessel began to blow back little across the nets towards the boat. and the warp re-bent to the pole-end. the boat's crew throwing their trat or tow-line to the skipper boat. the captain cut the warp that tied the fleet of nets. in the fishing- The fishing-boat was then brought up head to wind. ' ' And Paddy now knows the law.' the meaning of ' the wind against . 133 along the long line of nets. and the vessel allowed to tid on till morning. stopping at the last and shining At the signal.THE WIND AGAINST THE LAW their flare.
she was and you may imagine the commotion and so kind and nestling . as she walked beneath the . was She was never like other children. the evergreens. for she always reading some fairy-tale and talking to herself in the old garden. in the little household that lived in the rose-embowered dwelling beneath the elmlime-trees. just as her peachtree her. to Every one loved Gladys. when Gladys was found weeping its bitterly on the schoolroom floor one fine August day. peering through the gnarled and bunioned apple-tree . where the peaches ripened and the corn-flowers bloomed. He stood helplessly over her as she sat on the her . beautiful or Kentish morella trees. who generally soothed her cares. pranked with blossom perhaps she would be a bear seeking for a child roaming through devour.LIII A COUNTRY CHILD QUAINT. One day she would be a fairy prince. had ripened first luscious fruit None could pacify all not even her father. branches of the old espalier-trained codlin another day she would be a dainty princess. dreamy child was blue-eyed Gladys. floor.
. for I have given my . and said softly ' Mamsie. indeed. At any rate. Day ship. poor child ! don't think any stories. and Jane ' . and papa.A COUNTRY CHILD golden head in 135 her two grief. mind had developed into a more scientific state mayhap the deceit of the book that told her she was ruined for giving her love to another had disgusted her buoyant and emotional nature.' more of those silly books they are only fairy it was long before Gladys could be soothed. and longer still before she was fully persuaded that she was not a wicked.' love to ever so many you. O my . O Mamsie dear! must be people so wicked. At length the tears were dried in bed. . for great friends with the Gladys was young gardener. after day she set about cultivating the nurse's friendgarden and bringing her chrysanthemums from the little maiden-hair fern from the greenhouse. . ruined girl. The little girl looked serious again. I read in a book to-day that as I had given I my . her whole being shaken with passionate Beside her lay a book. love to another I am ruined. and none would she listen to save the professional nurse she felt . instinctively that nurse was the authority. little hands. when Gladys's youngest sister was born Gladys was anxious to know whence the baby came. But As Gladys grew older she got more know the reason of everything. wishing to her early romantic . her and that night. state of curious. as the tender child lay mother pressed her gently to tell her trouble.
for he was genuinely angry. where do babies come from ' ? where did Zoe come from * ? Why. every cabbage had been ruthlessly pulled up and cast upon the ground.136 MARSH LEAVES At ' length one day.' said nurse sharply. Savoy Red Dutch . in a rage. himself breathing forth threats of all kinds. young and old. and her father. her. from under the cabbages. I : was looking to said that find a baby under one of from. . He was really enraged with her. his That night after dinner Gladys's father called her into study and scolded her more than he had ever scolded her before. immediately changing the conversation. The more the father scolded the more silent was she.' the cabbages you was where they came And the nurse hid her smiles by hugging the child to her ample bosom. for she had (so her friend the gardener. who was equally enraged. With brimming said * eyes she kissed the kind woman and Why. she asked her Nurse. at last sent her off to bed. nurse. when she went for a walk with nurse. and asked her why she But nurse went and soothed had been so naughty. of course. told him) pulled up every cabbage or in the garden.
the snipe were clamouring and the sandpipers calling in the shallows. together with a long-legged pupillaris. sniff at As we walked across the rush-marshes the pup would every inconsequent mole-hole. and his brother Toby. his old Bessy. barking loudly . puppy in statu who smelt wildly at every hole his ferrets in a sack and blustered with bark.' and I took my eyes along with me. Peter or his brother darting after them. at every little pile of feasted. It was a lovely spring day. a water-spaniel. old Bob the rat- catcher and Potter the marshman. but 'twas On a marsh by the sea we saw the brindled cattle gathered round some object.LIV A DAY AVITH THE RATS E met at the marsh alert mill. over his Old Bob had shoulder and a mole-spade * in his right hand. and Potter itching to loose forbidden. Peter. behind them. Potter had a long-barrelled gun. but the hares soon left Peter and his brother his gun. whilst over the dead and gleaming dunes the wash of the sea could be heard. fur where kestrel or stoat had On our way we startled several hares. the bull groaning s and the .
were four pigs us curiously.' As we skirted the marshes lying inside the wind-sculptured sand-dunes we came upon a bright stonechat on a rail watching a flock of voracious starlings feeding on the newly turned land. old Sally. looked at Potter. and Potter smiled blandly. but I was not too When we left the marsh (Potter had slipped behind) we came upon a thorn-hedge leading to the sea a dry 'deek. probably set curious. pushing each other clumsily. by Potter himself. pointing to the places where the bark had been eaten off. so he bagged some half a dozen putting the last in his bag as Potter came up. gleam was in a hare in a his eye. for he knew well what snare. One and noticed the cattle had dispersed. At faggots. cripples dropping till all were lost in the blue. for the farmers know well clean hedgerows mean 'no rats. length we came to a pig-sty standing by a pile of where we were to rat Behind the pig-sty was a patch of garden that separated the marsh garden from the marshland. who had taken Potter's gun. newly dug. terminating at the hedgerow There the sty.' where all the undergrowth had been cleared so that no rats might cover there. Old Bob.' I turned and said. Old Bob wanted food of the slain. Then he went into a shed behind the sty .138 MARSH LEAVES and I herd moving slowly round and round. fired into the black flock. which arose with a whirr. in and they grunted and stared at Old Bob took off his bags and began pulling out some of the faggots. ' for his ferrets. it A wicked portended.
grip. bolt. and Potter's gun going off every now and then a rat crossed his mark. but the ferret kept turning him over and over. but never a rat was to be seen.A DAY WITH THE RATS and found a pile of roots. and brought out a ferret. ferrets and the escaped were in the hedgerow. and a white sty. and the dogs stood at attention between the sty and the hedgerow they knew where the rats would . But nine large rats lay dead. until at last the rat gave up the ghost. In a short time not a rat was faggot-heap. The were then put on . and there was an the rats squealing. its sharp chin and cruel eyes turned up to the blue sky. and then Peter and Ned were busy barking and seizing them by the middle of the body. began to squeal. regardless of the squeals. 139 many of them eaten hollow by the vermin. the dogs as uproar in that quiet garden. barking. polecat ferret had meanwhile got his rat by the and old Bob drew the pair forth. the rat ground. Soon there was the squealing of a rat in the ferret's and several rats' heads appeared at the different holes. The throat. for the and many bolted hedge. Old Bob then went to fine his ferret-bag buck polecat ferret. and put them stood into holes beneath the whilst Potter on the marsh with his gun fixed on a spot between the large holes and the hedgerow. for the ferrets forth by the pig-sty or went into the holes and came left empty-mouthed. taking the still living rat from the ferret and throwing it on to the open The ferret darted after it and seized it. shaking the life out of them.
' So I seized the great tail and pulled with . my strength. arched backs.140 MARSH LEAVES like to the hedgerow. and fifteen lay dead. and. We land. returned along the bare hedgerow into the marshand jumped the dikes on our way home. rats that had cleaned them up. and ears laid back. It was useless to pull then. ' and see the all sport. On our to feed. and finding the relics left by the wings and feathers of two mocking rooks flocks of chaffinches. but never an inch would the ferret yield efforts. sure enough. his tail was just visible hanging out of the dark gallery. return to Bob's cottage he opened a discovering the steaming entrails. and began to feed. which brought forth a family of ferrets They closed round the corpse with blazing eyes. * Pull him out if you can. He had evidently tried to back out and was caught. and as I watched the big began to snuff the ground buck polecat it a hound and run along the Presently I could hear a hedge. and presently the great a short time there ferret came rat to forth with his prey. and Peter and Ned lay on the wall looking at him. yet the ferret had not given an inch. rat squealing in the hole near by. bramblings. and the old doe crunched the head and shoulders with fierce appetite. whilst old Bob smiled satisfied.' said Bob. ' . . soon entering a large hole.' rat. I had cleanly peeled its tail. In was not a be seen or turned forth. so we waited. so I renewed my and suddenly away came the skin of the rat's tail in my hand. scattering the and greenfinches and land buntings feeding on the cultivated marshes.
in Never buy a cottage unless the pump be working Voilal order. and lived comfortably upon his income. and balanced his books as methodihis cally as a cashier. for he gardened so carefully that lemons ripened within twenty yards of the river. and he was steadily becoming a small landlord.LV COTTAGE PROPERTY E was a retired successful man of business. He ' had theories on pumps. and books taught one lesson.' . But his old habits would assert themselves. buying up dilapidated cottage freeholds extensively for the purpose of increasing his own garden. He made a always opened a credit and debit account when he new speculation.
150 .142 Cr. bot. rent of cottage. and fitting One new leather flange 13 . and 3 bolts. packing. tomfying . - pipe to pump.^380 To repairing well ing . bucket one new box stuffing. ^0 14 One new wooden vat and New ironing up suction .020 same all iron-work . Repairing Repairing painting . . weight iron. new cleek . To year . 8 3 8 . scrap. . screws. down same do.083 059 wood-work and . . . one new . one . MARSH LEAVES Dr. fixing box 3 Ibs. .
The hens were roosting in their painted coops flies . for the sickle- moon had taken and the all the duties of a watchman. even the bats had gone to their beds. the white flowering anemones wore their nightcaps. straggly elms. . but a white muslin dress floated moth adown the trees. all the music of the night breathed from her stately form. the leaves rustled like a loose tag against a pretty instep. with vague longings and of romantic thoughts for the warmth the evening had breathed into her heart the desire for love. gliding along the filled mossy tree-trunks. whose soughing foliage was just dozing to sleep in the cool night-breezes. and shady sycamores.LVI LOVE-TIME HE robin dreamt in the drowsy walnut-tree. the vinery had been shut for the night. Puffs of fragrance from the sleeping flowers were carried through the dark and silent alleys amongst the evergreens. vegetation seemed to lounge about garden in unbuttoned garments. But never a lover was there to see. and as. filled with gathered beneath like a the dozing trees . and already the moisture of the budding grapes was gathering in dew upon the large window-panes. she sped through the garden.
which looked like a mill-pond. old men. still sky. The biggest man of the three was a burly old fellow with a red face and a yellow sou'-wester.wester. left sat a On his dark man with black eyes and a clear. fixing his eye greedily upon a passing collier. one. and fixed on a passing A Norraway wessel. sailor-man sighed. and the heat-rays floated smoke dunes. The sandhills shone like burning like volcanoes. and their purple shadows were sharply outlined on the sand.LVII THREE WRECKERS T was a sun-white July day on Winterton beach. I wish a The dark ' b y big steamboat would come ashore now/ said the burly one. had a white beard and white curly locks that made him look like a searover. wearing an There were three of them old sou'. and scarce group of sailors sitting rippling the clear blue sea. as they rose behind the marram-fringed A soft breeze was blowing. it felt hat. The white slops of a by the edge of the sea gleamed like snow. . They looked at the sea and at the raised his telescope * and the burly one brig. The old white-haired one laughed.' he said sadly. and looked at the silent sea.
vivacious in the ambient air. the pied reed-buntings on the greening shriller. growth the birds scarce hiding a hare on her form.LVIII BLUE. and watched those . with a row . AMBER. and the sentinel cornbuntings sang regularly their short. sedge answered the sweet-voiced reed-warblers and flickering. bronzit down on ing them. sweet songs on the topmost budding sprays of the hawthorn-trees every bird was . the sweet. butterfly-like sedge-birds. the genial influence of the sun. whilst set blades of deepened the green on the young corn that greened the furrows. But the verdure down by the lagoon wore a primeval freshness and as I sat rocked on the blue water. All around sang. of dried amber reeds between its me and an osier carr now in young prime by for the catkins were burst. ripe for insemina- tion. tempered by the warm sun that poured the labourers dike-drawing. AND GREEN a fresh HE May-day showed and radiant land- scape fanned by a cool yet mild south-westerly breeze.voiced yellow buntings in the blackthorns with their prickly sprays and wreaths of flowers .
There was colour-scheme around me. in the blue sky. now But sweetest amber of all was the blue-eyed girl's face. . and have recognised.146 MARSH LEAVES my whole being was filled lovely and delicate stretches of blue. amber. and in the young spear-like shoots springing from the rond. so delicate. I could see it the sedge-leaves growing from the pulk.' But turn where of early in I would. and far-stretching cornfields. and amber. with hair. blades. most for. this the best artists said. with satisfaction : the for scheme of colour was so perfect. there was the colour-scheme May blue. She is inimitable and unpaintable in her choicest. and fresh green. sandhills sleeping by the crooning of green with young the sea. in the glad en shooting from the dead stuff on the mere. this bristling with cut all amber even stalks. delicate moods. that peeped archly from a green wreath of reed. Whistler has 'The artist is that he knows her. her master in as Mr. so beautiful in such arrangements Nature surpasses the most cunning painter. and pale green.
There was Larrie. And we had annocks. and the new tenant intended sowing cole-seed and rye-grass for his sheep. ' ! Turning his harrow about and about. for a reckless farmer had tried to get a crop of oats from the poor soil. we Ve enough of our own. men Ann . The boy harrowed and sang ' * The priest Came over of the parish and his gallant the mountain to marry Rose Sheila. In one corner of the marsh an Irish youth was harrowing up some old stubble. and scarred with scaly patches of ringworm . And fine oaten bannocks we had forty-four And as for onions and leeks. and the poor spiritless animal was feeding upon a lean rush marsh covered with a scant crop of darnel and water-grasses. and and twelve more besides.LIX THE IRISH STEER T was a poor thingthe Irish steer with long hairy brown coat spotted with white. With their long pitchforks to welcome the bride. and bannocks. And a lot of salt herring came down from Tyrone . glancing now and then at the steers as they fed on the poor crops in the closing . and butter-milk galore.
and pulled and shouted urged. and the third by in unison. as . in the reflected burning river-spaces separated only by a grey-blue forest of feathery. 's Ay. As the narrower reached the end of his course he stopped. the Irish steer rose trembling and shivering to its . uttered a hasty exclamation. with its left side. grey. its When took its it the feeble animal had recovered breath one man Thus by the two ears. its head turned sentimentally up- spiritless. and dying ! Farmer ran Elliot seized a single halter from the stable and down * the reed-marked road to the marsh with two men. crying excitedly it's Shure ! a steer is in the dike.148 MARSH LEAVES down behind all eventide. he stopped before the sad Irish steer. and looked along the rosy and ran down the wall. fairy-like trees. it the Irish steer . hind-quarters. that lay helplessly in the black slime of the dike. for already the burning sun had gone broad spaces of rosy. pleading eyes and dilating nostrils. he just like the men. on wards. he finished his task. that stretched away round sails the course of the skyline from a rosy windmill whose sleepily turned in the drowsy evening.' muttered the boy. his brightly polished boot-plates shining like silver against the grey. they give up ! he he placed the halter round the spiritless animal's head stout Englishmen hauled the creature and the three force by main from its slimy bed on to the grassy shore. as he ran called the farmer. Running on. another by the all tail. for the poor heedless animal had fallen into the water whilst drinking. * Agra. dike. the warmin at once ' 's got no pluck cried. a big red-faced away up ' to the farm and ' man. and yellow clouds.
one.' The boy * at the harrow was singing again . and affecting began to chew the cud as if nothing had happened. and comely. Now It was made of the fashion the bride she was dressed in a short body-gown the tail hanging down. * Now he shall drink. small in the waist as a two-year-old mare. Her Her stockings were wool. * for he saw he could no longer humbug any Trust an Irish steer to eat . they '11 bully you awful. tall.' roared the farmer.' he continued. 'Irish courage. as he forced a quart it of warm beer with some nitre in down the throat of the beast that shook itself feebly after the draught. he said * It's just like their breed. and lie as if they had neither nor might. that 's all he can think about. yes. coat dry. as he rubbed the trembling beast down with hay. as its the animal's nose grew moister. firmer . their colour was blue. an English steer would have got out of that ditch by at once but those Irish cattle give in when they get life into trouble.THE IRISH STEER legs. you must keep masters of the Paddies or echoed the teamster.' 'But.' muttered the farmer contemptuously. and final its legs and then giving the animal a cut with the halter. itself. Shortly afterwards it mottled coat. 149 having a shrunk and humped-up appearance as the slimy its and muddy water dripped from to be lame in one leg. and fair." -~ . petticoat frills Now As the bride she was and her brogues they were new.
LX THE SPIDER AND THE FLIES NE hot autumn morning buzzing I heard the flies droning and sluggishly against a dusty window-pane. He was quick and ready. they chased each other across the embracing sleepily. Like drunken dusty glass. which the autumn sun made look still more dusty as I watched. little As I watched I saw a spider begin to spin his web in a corner of the window- frame. and as sleepily falling from the backs of their drowsy lemans. . their last were holding orgies before the winter cold should kill them or render rioters them too sluggish for love. Leaving the web. drew in and lay silent as death. he ran lightly to flies that part of the pane where the his legs. were thickest. the observant little rascal. flies I remembered those sluggish their love-carnival. but as he span his active. He not mimicked the tell flies so closely that from my fly. chair I could which was spider and which was His deceit was soon rewarded. fly An amorous and besotted crawled sluggishly towards him. and the trap was soon silken meshes he seemed to detect the drowsy and stupid state of mind the flies were in.
. And there are philosophers in who cities . 151 and began to embrace him. say that to know the world one must have lived but seers may learn the ways of the city-bred in the wilds. others. however.THE SPIDER AND THE FLIES mounted on his back. capturing way. and avoided this false leman. were too many much stupid awake. The little spider flies returned and renewed his in this arts. In a moment fly the poor fool's lover turned and nipped the drowsy off to the and carried him web dead.
as I listened to the sighing of the cold easterly winds feel through the reed-beds. more sapping than intoxicants. the gusts and tears of a bursting with woe. become twice blessed. born in the morbid. more subtle than aconitia. and ' filling is sleepless souls with strange musings. and may may.LXI RAIN AND MELANCHOLY WAS and awakened in the night by the sad sound of the rain that dripped from my cabin-roof. race.' This disease of the mind. on the wide. * ' Brave men may have such rain-storm their tears fits. and woe to the land where sweet melancholy has found worshippers. and sobbing. . moments to be wrestled with in and conquered. that melancholy a deadly poison. spreading over the emotional degenerates of a and sapping the nation's manhood. was weeping. 1 seemed to and night-sighing why these night rain-storms winds make one melancholy it is the extreme loneliness of the weeping storm. fits relieve their manhood like lonely night-rain. but such are in the sane but morbid silence. the suffering. dark tracts of fen-land. soon becomes an epidemic. Away. rain-spirit far away.
possibilities their beautiful clumps of reed in one corner.RAIN AND MELANCHOLY I 153 drew my wraps around me and slept. was the cold sheltered breath of the white storm. The broad white snow-patches. . Sweet. and so taken a great burden from the mind is : such to me the effect of snow. black. a crisp brushing weak melancholy had heard . for with her icy fingers she had simplified the vista before me. too. and as looked forth on the whitened marshland. easterly wind had frozen the in weeping melancholy and sent them flying white feathers to brighten I the tearful face of the land. seemed to satisfy the aesthetic sense and lift from the mind the troublesome aroused by the and thoughts myriad details and life of the everyday scene. for the white snow that had killed weak melancholy had smothered restless thought. with in its highest form. and when next I fled. my heart was glad within me. -I awoke. poor. effeminate. and soft crackling at my window-pane tears of the savage. a peaceful antidote to the soft poison of the rain- melancholy. with its clumps of flickering reed-tassels.
she treading the green- like a queen. and with his wife. had spat up the greater part of his summer. the queen flushed with drink. they drained the stone flagon and went inland to covered staith visit their friends. After they moored. . raising long scarves of foam that blew into a dirty scum as they drove on to the oozy shores. rowing with a feeble stroke in a stiff-boat steered by a black-eyed buxom lass his young wife. came down and reefed and sail hoisted their he had been engaged to them back across the rough water on the lagoon. Across the stormy water an old man came. their friends. who. the previous sail . They them an old labourer and returned. proud and conscious of her commanding presence. After getting into the boat the old visitor kissed the old woman. The storm increased yellower than the liver' lilies. as * a rough old amphibian.LX1I OLD BEWTIES HE wind blew a gale from the south. rippling the waters of the blue lagoon.
the old labourer with the protruding chin returning her signals. and their sail disappeared behind the budding willows and wavy reed-beds. but her splendid figure still remained graven in my memory. the innkeeper side wastrels hailing and a crowd of water- him as he knelt insecurely in his rocking . but I ' the job. and Well.' she said. All day he drank. ain't lost Sam ' . whither he had piloted the queen. for he had rolled into several bushes on his way home from the village. By evening he was quite drunk and his pilotage-money gone. bor. the buxom girl waving her hand- kerchief.OLD BEWTIES Whereupon labourer * 155 said the lively young wife to the old You haven't kissed me. when he was not abusing some stupid young men who were trying sail to row their boat with their up crashing into the alder branches and exhibiting their folly. who kissed her full lips right smartly. Next morning staith at breakfast old Noll was rolling to the drunk. come on. in her imperious way. and as I looked out I saw him leaving in the cold night- rain in his marsh-boat. sail filled. his face covered with scratches. to which he replied 'No. The the boat heaved on her side and bubbled through the rough water.' she raised her glowing face towards the toothless old man. Old Noll made three good boards.
ago. '11 * He spin up a rare cuffa along with old Jenks. and struck the bird with little his paddle. and the innkeeper to his customers. Noll reached the post before his cottage door in safety. ' . But that was prophesied of him some years still lives. . habit was so powerful that we watched him essay the passage across the storm-tossed lagoon without forebodings.' muttered a fenman. swan whose roosting-ground he had The bill bird was propelling himself along with nobly curved and flashing. raised his him. followed by a male passed. Away he went into the broken water.' sug- gested a reed-cutter. Noll will get the water springe. and he .' muttered a sober-looking person in rusty black. 'He'll be dead afore long. angry eye bird till . for he was too wise to stand up in his boat. . Then hand to strike.156 MARSH LEAVES down the dike grunting and swearing and boat and poled her shouting 4 April showers spring the May flowers/ Still. the swan returned to his beat. essaying to close with old Noll stopped in the beating rain. the drunken amphibian paying no heed to the it began flying on the water.
and the quick shrill call of a coot finished the chimes. from all sides. the silent lagoon into grey pillars of mist air a .LXIII THE VOICES OF THE REED PRIL 21st. As I stood with a son of the fens beneath an old dripping willow. there as birds came a period of . and like the distant rolling of a drum to the beaded dresses . the water-hens took up the voice. a grey formless below. and a deep mysterious noise like the breathing of some monster of the deep at one moment. and the stillness of the sleeping waters was accentuated by the splashing of a fish in a reed-bush close at hand.M. waste of vapour stretching far away and through the moist morning smell like fish. Above. a water-hen called 'cro that ook' and then another called far away. 3 A. and in a moment. save for the soft metallic and all was silent for a moment croaking of a toad near by. restlessness such show through the night-watches embodiment of the voices of the waters through the heavy damp air. clammy The night for landscape had the appearance of the primeval world through the broad lagoon the dull masses of the reed-beds rose from the misty grey face of the waters. .
the mist began to tassels a pale blue colour crept into the sky. a lark lo ! listening to the mysterious voice of the from her grassy bed on the marsh. this deep regular undertone the cockerels began to crow the lagoon. and lift. a dog barked. then there was another bark. another lull. sharp. and the soft and distant rustling of the dancers soft lullaby.158 MARSH LEAVES Then suddenly above all of a dancing-girl's at another. the puzzled fenman listening. in the reed-beds took up the call and no other sound could be heard save the fish. for the sound was new to him . and all of a sudden the fenman's face brightened in the grey soft dawn. the of spring. As we fluttered stood gazing at the formless grey landscape. and in a few minutes mysterious music in the reed-beds was drowned by .' for a soft life-giving breath genial air was blowing from the west. or splashing of some or the twittering note of an early sedge-warbler that sang its matins from a reed- bed across the lagoon. of an owl. their music softened by the mists . and reed-birds. Again there was a lull in the voices of the night. and the soft. lagoons showed grey. and close round the soft note of a swan feeding by could be heard . the reed- were defined and the distant trees and shores of the clear. and he said 'It's the wash of the ripple in the mud. through the grey mists came a beautiful whistling chorus of red-legs. and the regular beat of the mysterious voice could be heard on our right. but the eternal and regular beat of the mysterious voice was there. and as we looked on in the silence.
each other. last word spoken by the voices of that .THE VOICES OF THE REED the larks and mavises martins began filling 159 who awoke a few minutes later. a sweet humming sound being the mysterious night. and a cool breeze blew over the face of the waters. the daylight had arrived. the dawn with answering some snipe and lapwings. and their chattering voices. who laughed and called And in less than a quarter of an hour the poetry of the night was gone.
A MAY MORNING
right cheek, the
wind-gauge, and the wind was westerly.
nine o'clock the delicate
the poetical landscape recalling a
Matthys Maris gave place to a Corot, with its bright for the low formless sky had softly parted, and distance, the May sun streamed on to the distant cattle and
the river a
man was sowing
broadcast, walking steadily
up and down the
the grain with his right hand, and carrying in his
measure, from which he replenished his stock.
along to the music of the land-buntings, perched on the
budding willows, throwing
tanned hand before his peck, where
the plane of his body.
good sower, and I was
able to see that Millet had exaggerated the action in his
A roller was following
the sower, pressing the seed into the
Millet has drawn
not a plough, as
to a girdle before them, and
For the wheat-sowing they carry a measure hooked on sow with each hand alternately.
ewes from the green marshes, and passing dead lambs drowned in the dikes, we
along, startling the
to a dike on the banks of which
and then we saw several
grew the pale cuckooewes on one side of the
anxious offsprings on the
attempting the watery passage
the young and
over-anxious lambs are drowned, for by a bad arrangement
on some of the marshes the flocks can get on to the walls to
feed, as well as
glided past the frightened flocks they
away them having
but every time a ewe stopped
a proud mien the young lambs ran to their and tugged vigorously for a time then the milk flowed and their little tails wriggled with comfort as they drank their
saw one lamb run to the wrong
run round and seize the other,
teat, and, hastily giving it up,
young lambs and
Sailing past the smouldering piles of burning twitch-grass,
we anchored by
a four-year crop of sedge and reed, and
ashore to watch the birds.
and the in the reed-tassels cut one's face. biting us.and reed-warblers courting.162 MARSH LEAVES As we waded through the high sedge growth and sloppy water. And we broke like wild animals from the hot reed brake. and one could watch the sedge. wetting the backs of our legs just below the knees for in wading over these quaking bogs the back of the kneethe part that bears the brunt. . we entered reed-beds. joint is we came across one or is two very rail-runs. shimmering. for the water-rail becoming scarce. Only the open sky over our heads was quiet after a time this reed intoxication passed off. the perspiration pouring from our faces. that fortunately were scarce. where the air was hot and moist. glad to feel en plein air again. waste. that glimmered and glowed against the pale . amber ground. After the tall we had waded through the marshy crop. rising breeze all and shivered and waved the reeds melting in a formless. but no more. and the midges.
rap ! bound her temples with the silken fillet when again knocked Jack Welton at the door . for a nice pinafore. and her heart gave a It bound she picked up a bright piece of red ribbon. lay on the clean. looking at the great china dogs on the mantelpiece as gods. little and Polly ran to as the door. Polly had just put on the dainty pinafore and rap. in the brick- floored room. gay with blue ribbons. as she was just such a piece coils of hair had longed for to bind across the black . if they were household Rap. red bricks. and little little Polly Rose sat eagerly. With the impulsive eagerness of happy childhood she ran . like the children of the South.LXV POLLY'S VALENTINE ACK WELTON'S day had come. Knock. lifted When she the latch her bright black eyes danced with pleasure. freshly-sanded. knock! again rapped the nimble Jack Welton. rap! knocked Jack Welton. and Polly dropped her ribbon and ran to the door. that waved on her olive temples for Polly was dark-skinned.
to the door and opened
Something flashed across the Polly forgot her ruddy fillet and her her whole being seemed to have received
the world had vanished from her, and seemed to
be slipping away, away into the darkness
she seemed to awake and to hear distant voices,
and suddenly she knew she had received a terrible blow in and little by little, as the bright one of her black eyes
world came back to her, she recalled
the door and saw
she had opened
John Read throw a stone
remembered, too, the flash of the smooth pebble athwart the
and now she
and, putting her
to her face she felt a
bandage over her right eye, and she
that she would never see the bright world again through
Big tears started into her eyes, and she looked
spots of blood
down and saw a few
on that bright day, and her
upon the pinafore given her heart was wellnigh broken.
had collected money, and four months Polly was playing Scotch-hop one June by
the dusty hedge, white with honeysuckle,
when Annie Wynne
asked her to show her her glass eye. Polly stopped, and the children gathered round eagerly
as she deftly took out the coloured glass globe, placing it
in little Annie's
Annie gazed upon the
black and white, until a shout from a drover startled her,
dashed up the road, raising dust-
particles that gleamed in the fierce sunlight.
Annie dropped and
and ran up into the hedge, and the glass eye and Polly now goes to
school with a green shade over her sightless globe, hoping
will bring her a
Day, when she
new eye next Valentine's known amongst the school-
children as 'one eye
and a peppermint.'
Printed by T. and A.
Edinburgh University Press
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