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Gods good man


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Title:God’sGoodMan
Author:MarieCorelli
ReleaseDate:November,2003[Etext#4653][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear
aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonFebruary21,2002]
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GOD’SGOODMAN
ASimpleLoveStory
ByMARIECORELLI
AUTHOROF“THETREASUREOFHEAVEN,”“THELMA,”“AROMANCE
OFTWOWORLDS,”“THEMASTERCHRISTIAN,”ETC.
TOTHELIVINGORIGINALOF“THEREVERENDJOHNWALDEN”AND
HISWIFETHISSIMPLELOVESTORYISAFFECTIONATELY
DEDICATED
“THEREWASAMANSENTFROMGODWHOSENAMEWASJOHN.”
NEWTESTAMENT
GOD’SGOODMAN
I


ItwasMay-timeinEngland.
Thelastbreathofalongwinterhadblownitsfinalfarewellacrossthehills,—the
lastfrosthadmeltedfromthebroad,low-lyingfields,relaxingitsirongripfrom
theclodsofrich,red-brownearthwhich,now,softandbroken,weresprouting


thickwiththeyoungcorn’stendergreen.Ithadbeenahard,inclementseason.
Manyatime,sinceFebruaryonward,hadthetoo-eagerlypushingbudsoftrees
andshrubsbeennippedbycruelcold,—manyabitingeastwindhadwithered
thefirstpalegreenleavesofthelilacandthehawthorn,—andthestormy
capricesofachillnorthern.Springhadplayedhavocwithallthedainty
woodlandblossomsthatshould,accordingtotheancient‘Shepherd’sCalendar’
havebeenfloweringfullywiththedaffodilsandprimroses.Butduringthe
closingdaysofAprilasuddengratefulwarmthhadsetin,—Nature,thedivine
goddess,seemedtoawakenfromlongslumberandstretchoutherarmswitha
happysmile,—andwhenMaymorningdawnedontheworld,itcameasavision
ofglory,robedinclearsunshineandgirdledwithbluestskies.Birdsbrokeinto
enrapturedsong,—youngalmondandappleboughsquiveredalmostvisibly
everymomentintopinkandwhitebloom,—cowslipsandbluebellsraisedtheir
headsfrommossycornersinthegrass,andexpressedtheirinnocentthoughtsin
sweetestodour—andinandthroughallthingsthegloriousthrill,themysterious
joyofrenewedlife,hopeandlovepulsatedfromtheCreatortoHisresponsive
creation.
ItwasMay-time;—areal‘old-fashioned’EnglishMay,suchasSpenserand
Herricksangof:
“WhenallisycladWithblossoms;thegroundwithgrass,thewoodesWith
greeneleaves;thebusheswithblossomingbuddes,”
andwhenwhateverpromiseourexistenceyetholdsforus,seemsfarenough
awaytoinspireambition,yetcloseenoughtoencouragefairdreamsof
fulfilment.Toexperiencethisglamourandwitcheryoftheflowering-timeofthe
year,onemust,perforce,beinthecountry.Forinthetowns,thebreathofSpring
isfoetidandfeverish,—itarousessicklongingsandwearyregrets,butscarcely
anypositiveecstasy.Theclose,stuffystreets,theswarmingpeople,thehigh
buildingsandstacksofchimneyswhichonlypermitthenarrowestpatchesofsky
tobevisible,theincessantnoiseandmovement,theself-absorbedcrowdingand
crushing,—allthesethingsaresomanyoffencestoNature,andareasdeadwalls
ofobstaclesetagainsttherevivifyingandstrengtheningforceswithwhichshe


endowsherfreerchildrenoftheforest,fieldandmountain.Outonthewild
heatherymoorland,intheheartofthewoods,inthedeepboskydells,wherethe
pungentscentofmossandpine-boughsfillstheairwithinvigoratinginfluences,
orbythequietrivers,flowingpeacefullyunderbendingwillowsandpastwide
osier-beds,wherethekingfisherswoopsdownwiththesun-rayandthetimid
moor-henpaddlestoandfromhernestamongthereeds,—insuchhauntsas
these,theadventofawarmandbrilliantMayisfraughtwiththattremorof
delightwhichgivesbirthtobeauty,andconcerningwhichthatancientand
picturesquechronicler,SirThomasMalory,writesexultantly:“LikeasMay
monethflourishethandflowerthinmanygardens,soinlikewiseleteveryman
ofworshipflourishhisheartinthisworld!”
Therewasacertain‘manofworship’intheworldattheparticulartimewhen
thispresentrecordoflifeandlovebegins,whofoundhimselfverywell-disposed
to‘flourishhisheart’intheMaloryanmannerprescribed,whenaftermanydark
daysofunseasonablecoldandgeneralatmosphericdepression,Mayatlastcame
inrejoicing.Seatedunderbroadapple-boughs,whichspreadaroundhimlikea
canopystuddedwithrosybud-jewelsthatshoneglossybrightagainsttherough
dark-brownstems,hesurveyedthesmilingsceneryofhisowngardenwithanair
ofsatisfactionthatwasalmostboyish,thoughhisyearshadrunwellpastforty,
andhewasaparsontoboot.Agravelysedatedemeanourwouldhaveseemed
themorefittingfacialexpressionforhisageandthegenerallyacceptednatureof
hiscalling,—akindofdeprecatorytolerationofthesunshineaspartofthe
universal‘vanity’ofmundanethings,—oracondescendingconsciousnessofthe
burstingapple-blossomswithinhisreachasakindofinferiorearthy
circumstancewhichcouldneitherbealterednoravoided.
TheReverendJohnWalden,however,wasoneofthoserarelygiftedindividuals
whocannotassumeanaspectwhichisforeigntotemperament.Hewasofa
cheerful,evensanguinedisposition,andhiscountenancefaithfullyreflectedthe
ordinarybentofhishumour.Seeinghimatadistance,thecasualobserverwould
atoncehavejudgedhimtobeeitheranathleteoranascetic.Therewasno
superfluousfleshabouthim;hewastallandmuscular,withwell-knitlimbs,
broadshoulders,andaheadaltogetherlackinginthehumbleorconciliatory
‘droop’whichallworldly-wiseparsonscultivateforthebenefitoftheirrich
patrons.Itwasadistinctivelyproudhead,—almostaggressive,—indicativeof
strongcharacterandself-reliance,well-poisedonafullthroat,andsetoffbya
considerablequantityofdarkbrownhairwhichwasrefractoryinbrushing,
inclinedtouncanonicalcurls,andplentifullydashedwithgrey.Abroad


forehead,deeply-set,dark-blueeyes,astraightandveryprominentnose,a
strongjawandobstinatechin,—afirmlymouldedmouth,roundwhichmanya
sweetandtenderthoughthaddrawnkindlylittlelinesofgentlesmilingthatwere
scarcelyhiddenbythesilver-brownmoustache,—such,briefly,wasthe
appearanceofone,whothoughonlyacountryclergyman,ofwhomthegreat
worldknewnothing,wasthelivingrepresentativeofmorepowerfulauthorityto
hislittle‘cureofsouls’thaneitherthebishopofthediocese,ortheKinginall
hismajesty.
Hewasthesoleownerofoneofthesmallest‘livings’inEngland,—anobscure,
deeply-hidden,butperfectlyunspoiltandbeautifulrelicofmediaevaldays,
situatedinoneoftheloveliestofwoodlandcounties,andknownasthevillageof
St.Rest,sometimescalled‘St.Est.’Untilquitelatelytherehadbeen
considerabledoubtastotheoriginofthisname,andthecorrectmannerofits
pronouncement.Somesaiditshouldbe,‘St.East,’because,rightacrossthe
purplemoorlandandbeyondthelineofbluehillswherethesunrose,there
stretchedthesea,milesawayandinvisible,itistrue,butneverthelessasserting
itssaltysavourineverybreathofwindthatblewacrossthetuftedpines.‘St.
East,’therefore,saidcertainruralsages,wastherealnameofthevillage,
becauseitfacedtheseatowardstheeast.Others,however,declaredthatthe
namewasderivedfromthememoryofsomeearlyNormanchurchonthebanks
ofthepeacefulriverthatwounditsslowclearlengthinpellucidsilverribbonsof
lightroundandaboutthecloverfieldsandhighbanksfringedwithwildroseand
snowythorn,andthatitshould,therefore,be‘St.Rest,’orbetterstill,‘The
Saint’sRest.’Thislattertheoryhadrecentlyreceivedstrongconfirmationbyan
unexpectedwitnesstothepast,—aswillpresentlybedulyseenandattested.
ButSt.Rest,orSt.Est,whichevernamerightlybelongedtoit,wasinitselfso
insignificantasa‘benefice,’thatitspresentrector,vicar,priestandpatronhad
boughtitforhimself,throughthegoodofficesofafriend,inthedayswhensuch
purchaseswerepossible,andforsometenyearshadbeensupremeDictatorof
histinykingdomandlimitedpeople.Thechurchwashis,—especiallyhis,since
hehadrestoreditentirelyathisownexpense,—therectory,alop-sided,halftimberedhouse,builtinthefifteenthcentury,washis,—thegarden,fullof
floweringshrubs,carelesslyplantedandallowedtoflourishattheirownwild
will,washis,—thetenacresofpasture-landthatspreadingreenluxuriance
roundandabouthisdwellingwerehis,—and,bestofall,theorchard,containing
somefiveacresplantedwiththechoicestapples,cherries,plumsandpears,and
bearingagainstitslong,highsouthernwallthefinestpeachesandnectarinesin


thecounty,washisalso.Hehad,infact,everythingthattheheartofaman,
especiallytheheartofaclergyman,coulddesire,exceptawife,—andthat
commodityhadbeenofferedtohimfrommanyquartersinvariousdelicateand
diplomaticways,—onlytobeasdelicatelyanddiplomaticallyrejected.
Andtrulythereseemednoneedforanychangeinhiscondition.Hehadgoneon
sofarinlife,—‘sofar!’hewouldoccasionallyremindhimself,withalittlesmile
andsigh,—thatamoreorlesssolitaryhabithad,bylongfamiliarity,become
pleasant.Actuallonelinesshehadneverexperienced,becauseitwasnotinhis
naturetofeellonely.Hiswell-balancedintellecthadthebrilliantqualityofa
finely-cutdiamond,bearingmanyfacets,andreflectingallthehuesoflifein
lightandcolour;thusitquitenaturallyhappenedthatmostthings,evenordinary
andcommonthings,interestedhim.Hewasagreatloverofbooks,and,toa
moderateextent,acollectorofrareeditions;healsohadapassionfor
archaeology,whereinhewassustainedbyacertainpoeticinsightofwhichhe
washimselfunconscious.TheordinaryarchaeologistisgenerallyamereDry-asDust,whoplayswiththebonesofthepastasShakespeare’sJulietfanciedshe
mightplaywithherforefathers’joints,andwhoeschewsalluseofthe
imaginativeinstinctasthoughitweresomedeadlyevil.Whereas,ittrulyneedsa
verypowerfulimaginativelenstopeerdownintotherecessesofbygone
civilisations,andre-peopletheruinedhauntsofdeadmenwiththeirshadowy
ghostsoflearning,art,enterprise,orambition.
Tousetheinnermosteyesofhissoulinsuchlookingbackwarddownthestream
ofTime,aswellasinlookingforwardtothat‘crystalsea’oftheunknown
Future,flowingroundtheGreatWhiteThronewhencetheriveroflifeproceeds,
wasafavouritementaloccupationwithJohnWalden.Helovedantiquarian
research,andallsuchscientificproblemsasinvolveabstrusestudyandcomplex
calculation,—butequallyhelovedthesimplestflowerandthemostordinary
villagetaleofsorrowormirthrecountedtohimbyanyoneofhisunlessoned
parishioners.Hegavehimselfsuchchangeofairandsceneashethoughthe
required,bytakinglongswingingwalksaboutthecountry,andfoundsufficient
relaxationingardening,ascienceinwhichhedisplayedconsiderableskill.No
oneinalltheneighbourhoodcouldmatchhisroses,orofferanythingtocompare
withthepurpleandwhitemassesofvioletswhich,quiteearlyinJanuarycame
outunderhisglassframesnotonlyperfectinshapeandcolour,butfullofthe
real‘English’violetfragrance,abenedictionofsweetnesswhichsomehow
seemstobeentirelywithheldfromtheFrenchandRussianblooms.Fortherest,
hewasphysicallysoundandmorallyhealthy,andlived,asitwere,onthe


straightlinefromearthtoheaven,beginningeachdayasifitwerehisfirstlifeopportunity,andendingitsoberlyandwithprayer,asthoughitwerehislast.
Tosuchamindandtemperamentashis,theinfluencesofNature,thesublime
lawsoftheUniverse,andtheenvironmentofexistence,mustneedsmovein
circlesofharmoniousunity,makinglovelinessoutofcommonness,andpoetry
outofprose.Thedevoteeofwhatismistakenlycalled‘pleasure,’—enervatedor
satiatedwiththesicklymoralexhalationsofacorruptsociety,—wouldbequite
atalosstounderstandwhatpossibleenjoymentcouldbeobtainedbysitting
placidlyunderanapple-treewithawell-thumbedvolumeofthewisdomofthe
inspiredpaganSlave,Epictetus,inthehand,andtheeyesfixed,notonany
printedpage,butonasprayofwarmly-blushingalmondblossom,whereawellfedthrush,rufflingitssoftlyspeckledbreast,wassingingawildstrophe
concerningitsmate,which,couldhumanskillhavelanguageditsmeaning,
mighthavegivenideastoanation’slaureate.YetJohnWaldenfoundunalloyed
happinessinthisapparentlyvagueandvacantway.Therewasanacutesenseof
joyforhimintherepeatedsweetnessofthethrush’swarbling,—thelightbreeze,
stirringthroughagreatbushofearlyfloweringlilacneartheedgeofthelawn,
sentoutawaveofodourwhichtingledthroughhissensitivebloodlikewine,—
thesunlightwaswarmandcomforting,andaltogetherthereseemednothing
wrongwiththeworld,particularlyasthemorning’snewspapershadnotyet
comein.Withthemwouldprobablyarrivethesadsavourofhumanmischiefand
muddle,buttillthesedailymorbidrecordsmadetheirappearance,May-day
mightbeacceptedasGodmadeitandgaveit,—agiftunalloyed,pure,bright
andcalm,withnotashadowonitslovelyfaceofSpring.TheStoicspiritof
Epictetushimselfhadevenseemedtojoininthegeneraldelightofnature,for
Waldenheldthebookhalfopenatapagewhereonthesewordswerewritten:
“Hadweunderstandingthereof,wouldanyotherthingbetterbeseemusthanto
hymntheDivineBeingandlaudHimandrehearseHisgraciousdeeds?These
thingsitwerefittingeverymanshouldsing,andtochantthegreatestand
divinesthymnsforthis,thatHehasgivenusthepowertoobserveandconsider
Hisworks,andaWaywhereintowalk.IfIwereanightingale,Iwoulddoafter
themannerofanightingale;ifaswan,afterthatofaswan.ButnowIama
reasoningcreature,anditbehoovesmetosingthepraiseofGod;thisismytask,
andthisIdo,noraslongasitisgrantedme,willIeverabandonthispost.And
you,too,Isummontojoinmeinthesamesong.”
“Awonderfully‘advanced’Christianwayoflookingatlife,forapaganslaveof


thetimeofNero!”thoughtWalden,ashiseyeswanderedfromthethrushonthe
almondtree,backtothevolumeinhishand,—“Withallourteachingand
preaching,wecanhardlydobetter.Iwonder---”
Herehismindbecamealtogetherdistractedfromclassiclore,bytheappearance
ofaveryunclassicboy,cladinasuitofbrowncorduroysandwearinghobnailedbootsacoupleofsizestoolargeforhim,who,comingsuddenlyoutfrom
abox-treealleybehindthegabledcorneroftherectory,shuffledtotheextreme
vergeofthelawnandstoppedthere,pullinghiscapoff,andtreadingonhisown
toesfromlefttoright,andfromrighttoleftinastateofsheepishhesitancy.
“Comealong,—comealong!Don’tstandthere,BobKeeley!”AndWaldenrose,
placingEpictetusontheseathevacated—“Whatisit?”
BobKeeleysethishob-nailedfeetonthevelvetylawnwithgingerlyprecaution,
andadvancingcapinhand,producedaletter,slightlygrimedbyhisthumband
finger.
“FromSirMorton,pleasesir!Hurgent,‘esez.”
Waldentookthemissive,smallandneatlyfolded,andbearingthewords
‘BadsworthHall’stampedingoldatthebackoftheenvelope.Openingit,he
read:
“SirMortonPippittpresentshiscomplimentstotheReverendJohnWalden,and
havingapartyofdistinguishedguestsstayingwithhimattheHall,willbeglad
toknowatwhatdayandhourthisweekhecanmakeavisitofinspectiontothe
churchwithhisfriends.”
AslighttingeofcolouroverspreadWalden’sface.Presentlyhesmiled,and
tearingupthenoteleisurely,putthefragmentsintooneofhislargeloosecoat
pockets,fortoscatterashredofpaperonhislawnorgardenpathswasan
offencewhichneitherhenoranyofthoseheemployedevercommitted.
“Howisyourmother,Bob?”hethensaid,approachingthestumpyurchin,who
stoodrespectfullywatchinghimandawaitinghispleasure.
“Pleasesir,she’sallright,butshecoughs‘orful!”
“Coughs‘orful,doesshe?”repeatedtheReverendJohn,musingly;“Ah,thatis


bad!—Iamsorry!Wemust—letmethink!—yes,Bob,wemustseewhatwecan
doforher—eh?”
“Yes,sir,”repliedBobmeekly,turninghiscaproundandroundandwondering
what‘Passon’wasthinkingabouttohavesucha‘funnylook’inhiseyes.
“Yes!”repeatedWalden,cheerfully,“Wemustseewhatwecandoforher!My
complimentstoSirMortonPippitt,Bob,andsayIwillwrite.”
“Nothinkelse,sir?”
“Nothing—orasyouputit,Bob,‘nothinkelse’!Iwishyouwouldremember,
mydearboy,”—andherehelaidhisfirm,well-shapedhandprotectinglyonthe
smallbrowncorduroyshoulder,—“thattheword‘nothing’doesnotterminatein
a‘k.’Ifyourefertoyourspelling-book,IamsureyouwillseethatIamright.
TheEducationalauthoritieswouldnotapproveofyourpronunciation,Bob,andI
amendeavouringtosaveyoufuturetroublewiththeGovernment.Bytheway,
didSirMortonPippittgiveyouanythingforbringinghisnotetome?”
“SedhewouldwhenIgotback,sir.”
“Saidhewouldwhenyougotback?Well,—Ihavemydoubts,Bob,—Idonot
thinkhewill.Andthelabourerbeingworthyofhishire,hereissixpence,which,
ifyouliketodoasumonyourslate,youwillfindisattherateofonepennyper
mile.Whenyouareaworkingman,youwillunderstandthestrictjusticeofmy
payment.ItisthreemilesfromBadsworthHallandthreebackagain,—andnow
Icometothinkofit,whatwereyoudoingupatBadsworth?”
BobKeeleygrinnedfromeartoear.
“Mean’KittySprucewentuponspecwithaMaypoleearly,sir!”
JohnWaldensmiled.ItwasMaymorning,—ofcourseitwas!—andinthe
villageofSt.ResttheoldtraditionalcustomsofMayDaywerestillkeptup,
thoughinthecountytownofRiversford,onlysevenmilesaway,theywere
forgotten,orifrememberedatall,wereonlyusedasanexcusefordrinkingand
vulgarhorse-play.
“YouandKittySprucewentuponspec?Veryenterprisingofyouboth,Iam
sure!Anddidyoumakeanythingoutofit?”


“No,sir,—thereain’tnoladiesthere,‘ceptMissTabitha,—onnysomeLondon
gents,—andSirMorton,‘eflewintoanorfulpassion—like‘edo,sir,—an’told
ustoleaveoffsingin’andgitout,—‘Gitoffmyground,’he‘ollers—‘Gitoff!’—
thenjestaswewasagittin’off,hecoolsdownsuddintlike,an’‘esez,sez‘e:
‘Takeanotetothedampassonforme,an’bringaharnser,an’I’llgiveyer
somethinkwhenyergitsback.’An’allthegentswasa-sittin’atbreakfast,with
thewinderswideopenan’thesmellof‘aman’eggscomin’throughstrong,an’
theylarfedfittosplittheirselves,an’oneon‘emtriedtokissKittySpruce,an’
shespankedhisfacefor‘im!”
Thenarrationofthisremarkableincident,spokenwithbreathlessrapidityina
burstofconfidence,seemedtocausethereliefsupposedtobeobtainedbya
penitentintheconfessional,andtoliftaweightoffBobKeeley’smind.The
smiledeepenedonthe‘Passon’s’face,andforamomenthehadsomedifficulty
tocontrolanoutbreakoflaughter,butrecollectingthepossiblydemoralising
effectitmighthaveonthemoreyouthfulmembersofthecommunity,ifhe,the
spiritualdirectoroftheparish,werereportedtohavelaughedatthepugnacious
conductofthevaliantKittySpruce,hecontrolledhimself,andassumeda
tolerantlyseriousair.
“Thatwilldo,Bob!—thatwilldo!Youmustlearnnottorepeatallyouhear,
especiallysuchobjectionablewordsasmayoccasionallybeusedbya—a--a
gentlemanofSirMortonPippitt’shighstanding.”
Andherehesquaredhisshouldersandlookedseverelydownantheabashed
Keeley.Anonheunbenthimselfsomewhatandhiseyestwinkledwithkindly
humour:“Whydidn’tyoubringtheMaypolehere?”heenquired;“Isupposeyou
thoughtitwouldnotbeasgooda‘specasBadsworthHallandtheLondongents
—eh?”
BobKeeleyopenedhisroundeyesverywide.
“Webeallcomin’‘ere,sir!”heburstout:“Allonus—eversomanyonus!But
wereckonedtomakearoundofthevillagefirstandseehowwetookon,and
finishupwi’you,sir!KittySpruceshebea-keepin’herbestribbinforcomin’
‘ere—webealla-comin’‘foretwelve!”
Waldensmiled.
“Good!Ishallexpectyou!Andmindyoudon’tallsingoutoftunewhenyoudo


come.Ifyoucommitsuchanoffence,Ishall—letmesee!—Ishallmake
mincemeatofyou!—Ishallindeed!Positivemincemeat!—andbottleyouupin
jarsforChristmas!”Andhenoddedwiththeferociouslyblandairofthegiantin
afairytale,whoseparticularhumouristhedevouringofsmallchildren.“Now
youhadbettergetbacktoBadsworthHallwithmymessage.Doyouremember
it?MycomplimentstoSirMortonPippitt,andIwillwrite.”
Heturnedaway,andBobKeeleymadeasrapidadepartureaswasconsistent
withthedeeprespecthefeltforthe‘Passon,’havingextractedapromisefrom
thebutcherboyofthevillage,whowasafriendofhis,thatifhewere‘quick
aboutit,’hewouldgetadriveuptoBadsworthandbackagaininthebutcher’s
cartgoingtherefororders,insteadoftrampingit.
TheReverendJohn,meanwhile,strolleddownoneofthemanywindinggarden
paths,pastclustersofdaffodils,narcissiandprimroses,intoafavouritecorner
whichhecalledthe‘Wilderness,’becauseitwasleftbyhisordersinamoreor
lessuntrimmed,untrainedconditionofluxuriantlynaturalgrowth.Herethe
syringa,anamesometimesgivenbyhorticulturalpedantstothelilac,forno
reasonatallexcepttocreateconfusionintheinnocentmindsofamateur
growers,wasopeningitswhite‘mockorange’blossoms,andamassof
floweringaconitesspreadoutbeforehimlikeacarpetofwovengold.Here,too,
tuftsofbluebellspeekedforthfrombehindthemoss-grownstemsofseveral
ancientoaksandelms,andpurplepansiesborderedtheedgeofthegrass.Afine
oldwistariagrownintree-form,formedanaturalarchofentrytothisshady
retreat,anditsflowerswerejustnowintheirfullbeauty,hangingina
magnificentprofusionofpalemauve,grapelikebunchesfromtheleaflessstems.
Manyroses,oftheclimbingor‘rambling’kind,wereplantedhere,andJohn
Walden’squickeyesoonperceivedwherealonggreenshootofoneofthosewas
looseandwavinginthewindtoitsownpossibledetriment.Hefeltinhis
pocketsforabitofroffiaortwinetotieupthestrayingstem,—hewasvery
seldomwithoutsomethingofthekindforsuchemergencies,butthistimehe
onlygropedamongthefragmentsofSirMortonPippitt’snoteandfoundnothing
useful.Steppingoutonthepathagain,helookedabouthimandcaughta
glimpseofastooping,bulkyforminweather-beatengarments,planting
somethinginoneofthebordersatalittledistance.
“Bainton!”hecalled.
Thefigureslowlyraiseditself,andasslowlyturneditshead.


“Sir!”
“Justcomehereandtiethisroseup,willyou?”
Theindividualaddressedapproachedataverydeliberatepace,draggingout
someentangledroffiafromhispocketashecameandseveringitintolengths
withhisteeth.Waldenpartlypreparedhistaskforhimbyholdinguptherose
branchinthewayitshouldgo,andonhisarrivalassistedhiminthebusinessof
securingittotheknottyboughfromwhichithadfallen.
“Thatlooksbetter!”heremarkedapprovingly,ashesteppedbackandsurveyed
it.“Youmightdothisoneatthesametimewhileyouareaboutit,Bainton.”
Andhepointedtoanetworkof‘Crimsonrambler’rose-stemswhichhadblown
loosefromtheirmooringsandwerelyingacrossthegrass.
“Thisplacewantsareg’lercleanout,”remarkedBaintonthen,inaccentsofdeep
disdain,ashestoopedtogatheruptherefractorybranches:“Itbeatsme
altogether,Passon,toknowwhatyouwantswi’aforcin’bedforweedsan’stuff
inthemiddleofadecentgarden.ThatoldWistariaSinyens(Sinensis)istheonly
thingherethatisworthkeeping.Ah!Y’areaprecioussight,y’are!”he
continued,apostrophisingthe‘rambler’branches—“Forallyergreenbudsye
ain’ta-goin’todomuchthisyear!Allshaman’‘umbug,y’are!—allleafan’
shootan’noflower,—likeagreatmanypeopleIknowson—ah!—an’notsofar
fromthisvillageneither!I’dclearitalloutifIwasyou,Passon,—Iwouldreely
now!”
Waldenlaughed.
“Don’topentheoldargument,Bainton!”hesaidgood-humouredly;“Wehave
talkedofthisbefore.IlikeabitofwildNaturesometimes.”
“Wildnatur!”echoedBainton.“Seemstomenaturalluswantsabitofawash
an’brushup‘foreshesitsdowntohermaster’stable;—an’who’s‘ermaster?
Man!She’sjestlikeachildcomin’outofaplayinthewoods,an’‘er‘air’sall
blown,an’‘ernailsisalldirty.That’snatur!Trim‘erupan’curl‘er‘airan’she’s
worthlookingat.Natur!Lor’,Passon,ifyelikeswildnaturyeain’tgotnocall
tokeepagard’ner.Butifyepaysmean’keepsme,yemust‘spectmetodomy
duty.WhereforeIsez:whynot‘avethis‘eremusty-fustyplace,areg’ler
breedin’‘oleforhinsects,wopses,‘ornits,snailsan’greencaterpillars—ah!an’I


shouldn’twonderifpotato-flygotamongst‘em,too!—whynot,Isay,haveit
cleanedout?”
“Ilikeitasitis,”respondedWaldenwithcheerfulimperturbability,andasmile
atthethick-setobstinate-lookingfigureofhis‘headmanabouttheplace’as
Baintonlovedtobecalled.“Haveyouplantedoutmyphloxes?”
“Planted‘emouteveryone,”wasthereply;“LikewhichtheDelphyInums.An’
I’veputenoughsweetpeasintosupplyCovintGardenmarket,bearin’inmind
as‘owyousedyoucouldn’thaveenoughon‘em.SirMortonPippitt’sLunnon
valetcamealongwhileIwasa-doin’ofit,an’‘epeersoverthe‘edgean’‘esez,
sez‘e:‘Weedin’corn,areyer?’‘No,yegowk,’sezI!‘Everseencornatall‘cept
inabin?Mixedwi’thistles,mebbe?’An’thenheusedabitof‘ismaster’s
or’narylanguage,whichasyeknows,Passon,ischice—partic’lerchice.‘Evil
communicationsc’ruptsgoodmanners’eveninavaletwot‘asnomoretodo
thanwashan’combamanlikea‘oss,an’pocketfiftypunayearforkeepin’of
‘isharistocraticmasterclean.Lor’!—whatawurrlditis!—whatawurrld!”
Hehadbythistimetiedupthe‘Crimsonrambler’inorderlyfashion,andthe
ReverendJohn,strokinghismoustachetohideasmile,proceededtoissue
variousordersaccordingtohisusualdailycustom.
“Don’tforgettoplantsomemignonetteinthewestborder,Bainton.Notthe
giantkind,—theodourofthelargebloomsisroughandcoarsecomparedwith
thatofthesmallervariety.Putplentyofthe‘commonstuff’in,—such
mignonetteasourgrandmothersgrewintheirgardens,beforeyouLatin-loving
horticulturalwise-acresbegantotryforsizeratherthansweetness.”
Baintondrewhimselfupwithaquaintassumptionofdignity,andbyliftinghis
headalittlemore,showedhiscountenancefully,—acountenancewhich,though
weather-wornanddeeplyfurrowed,wasadistinctlyintelligentone,shrewdand
thoughtful,withsundrylittlecurvesofhumourlightingupitsnativeexpression
ofsaturninesedateness.
“Isupposey’arealludin’totheF.R.H.‘s,Passon,”hesaid;“TheyalllovesLatin,
ascatslovesmilk;howsomever,theyneverknows‘owtopronounceit.
Likewhichmyselfnotbein’aF.R.H.norlikelytobe,I’mboundtoconfessI
dabblesinitabit,—thoughthere’sachapwotIgetscheapshrubsof,hisLatin’s
worsenormine,an’‘e’sgotallthethreelettersafter‘isname.‘Owdid‘eget


‘em?ByreasonofcompetitionintheChrysanthumShow.Lor’!Hennyfoolcan
growyeachrysanthumasbigasacabbage,ifthat’syerfancy,-thatain’t
scientificgard’nin’!An’asforthemignonette,Ireckontoagreewi’ye,Passonthesizeain’tthesweetness,likewhichwhenImarried,Imarriedasmalllass,for
sezI:‘Littletocarry,lesstokeep!’An’that’strueenough,thoughshe’sgained
inbreadth,Lor’love‘er!—wotshenever‘adinheighth.AsIwasa-sayin’,the
chapwotIgetsshrubsof,reelsoff‘isLatinlikechollopsofmudoffagarden
scraper;but‘edon’tunderstanditwhile‘esezit.Jes’forshow,blessye!Itall
goesdownwi’SirMortonPippitt,though,for‘esez,sez‘e:‘MYcabbagesare
theprizevegetable,grownbyMr.SmogortonofWorcester,F.R.H.’‘E’sgotitin
‘isCatlog!Hor!—hor Passon,abito’Latindogodownwi’somefolksinthe
gard’nin’line—itdoreelynow!”
“TalkingofSirMortonPippitt,”saidWalden,disregardinghisgardener’s
garrulity,“ItseemshehasvisitorsupattheHall.”
“‘E‘asso,”returnedBainton;“Reg’lerweedywaifsan’strayso’‘umanity,if
onemaygobyout’ardappearance;notasinglefirm,well-put-downlegamong
‘em.Mos’ly‘lords’and‘sirs.’Bein’sojes’latelyknightedforbuildin’a‘ospital
atRiversford,outoftheproceedso’bonemeltin’intobuttons,SirMorton
couldn’ta’course,beexpectedtoputupwi’aplain‘mister’takin’foodwi’‘im.”
“Well,well,—whoevertheyare,theywanttoseethechurch.”
“Seemstomeasighto’folkswantstoseethechurchsinceyespentsomuch
moneyonit,Passon,”saidBaintonsomewhatresentfully;“Thereoughterbea
chargemadeforentry.”
Waldensmiledthoughtfully;buttherewasasmalllineofvexationonhisbrow.
“Theywanttoseethechurch,”herepeated,“OrratherSirMortonwantsthemto
‘inspect’thechurch;”—andthenhissmileexpandedandbecameasoftmellow
laugh;“Whatapompousoldfellowitis!Onewouldalmostthinkhehad
restoredthechurchhimself,andnotonlyrestoredit,butbuiltitaltogetherand
endowedit!”Heturnedtogo,thensuddenlybethoughthimselfofother
gardeningmatters,—“Bainton,thatbarecornernearthehousemustbefilled
withclematis.Theplantsarejustreadytobedout.Andlooktothegeraniumsin
thefrontborder.Bytheway,doyouseethatstraightlinealongthewallthere,—
whereIampointing?”


“Yes,sir!”dutifullyrejoinedBainton,shadinghiseyesfromthestrongsunwith
onegrimyhand.
“Well,plantnothingbuthollyhocksthere,—asmanyasyoucancramin.We
musthaveablazeofcolourtocontrastwiththosedarkyews.Seetothe
jessamineandpassion-flowersbytheporch;andthereisa‘Gloire’rosenearthe
drawing-roomwindowthatwantscuttingbackabit.”Hemovedasteportwo,
thenagainturned:“Ishallwantyoulateronintheorchard,—thegrassthere
needsattendingto.”
AslowgrinpervadedBainton’scountenance.
“Yemindsmeofthe‘OlyScripter,Passon,yedoesreelynow!”hesaid—“Wi’
allyerdifferentordersan’idees,y’arebehavin’tomeliketheverymoralo’the
livin’Wurrd!”
Waldenlookedamused.
“Howdoyoumakethatout?”
“Easyenough,sir,—‘TheScriptermovethusinsun’ryplaces’!Hor!hor!hor!-“andBaintonburstintoahoarsechuckleofmirth,entirelydelighted
withhisownwitticism,andwalkedoff,notwaitingtoseewhetheritseffecton
hismasterwasoneofoffenceorappreciation.Hewasprettysureofhisground,
however,forheleftJohnWaldenlaughing,alaughthatirradiatedhisfacewith
someofthesunshinestoredupinhismind.Andthesparkleofmirthstill
lingeredinhiseyesas,crossingthelawnandpassingtheseatwherethevolume
ofEpictetuslay,nowgratuitouslydecoratedbyacoupleofpalepinkshell-like
petalsdroppedfromtheapple-blossomsaboveit,heenteredhishouse,and
proceedingtohisstudysatdownandwrotethefollowingbriefepistle:
“TheReverendJohnWaldenpresentshiscomplimentstoSirMortonPippitt,and
inreplytohisnotebegstosaythat,asthechurchisalwaysopenandfree,Sir
Mortonandhisfriendscan‘inspect’itatanytimeprovidednoserviceisin
progress.”
Puttingthisinanenvelope,hesealedandstampedit.Itshouldgobypost,and
SirMortonwouldreceiveitnextmorning.Therewasnoneedfora‘special
messenger,’eitherinthepersonofBobKeeley,orintheauthorisedPuckofthe
PostOfficeMessenger-service.


“Forthereisnottheslightesthurry,”hesaidtohimself:“ItwillnothurtSir
Mortontobekeptwaiting.Onthecontrary,itwilldohimgood.Hehaditallhis
ownwayinthisparishbeforeIcame,—butnowforthepasttenyearshehas
knownwhatitisto‘kickagainstthepricks’oflegitimateChurchauthority.
LegitimateChurchauthorityisafinething!HalftheChurchmenintheworld
don’tuseit,andagoodlyportionoftheotherhalfmisuseit.Butwhenyou’ve
gotabumptious,purse-proud,self-satisfiedoldcountysnoblikeSirMorton
Pippitttodealwith,thepressureoftheironhandshouldbedistinctlyexercised
underthevelvetglove!”
Helaughedheartily,throwingbackhisheadwithasenseofenjoymentinhis
laughter.Then,risingfromhisdesk,heturnedtowardsthewidelatticeddoorsof
hisstudy,whichopenedintothegarden,andlookedoutdreamily,asthough
lookingacrosstheworldandfarbeyondit.Thesweetmixedwarblingofbirds,
thethousandindistinguishableodoursofflowers,madetheairbothfragrantand
musical.Theglorioussunshine,theclearbluesky,therustlingoftheyoung
leaves,thewhisperingswishofthewarmwindthroughtheshrubberies,—all
theseinfluencesenteredthemindandsoulofthemanandarousedakeenjoy
whichalmosttouchedthevergeofsadness.Lifepulsatedabouthiminsuch
wavesofcreativepassion,thathisownheartthrobbeduneasilywithNature’s
warmrestlessness;andtheunanswerablequerywhich,inspiteofhishighand
spiritualfaithhadoftentroubledhim,camebackagainhauntinglytohismind,
—“WhyshouldLifebemadesobeautifulonlytoendinDeath?”
ThiswastheShadowthathungoverallthings;thiswastheonedarknessheand
othersofhiscallingwerecommissionedtotransfuseintolight,—thiswasthe
onedismalendforallpoorhumancreatureswhichhe,asaministerofthe
GospelwasboundtotryandrepresentasnotanEndbutaBeginning,—andhis
soulwasmovedtoprofoundloveandpityasheraisedhiseyestotheserene
heavensandaskedhimself:“Whatcompensationcanallthemosteloquent
teachingandpreachingmaketomenforthelossofthemeresunshine?Canthe
visionofaworldbeyondthegravesatisfytheheartsomuchasthisoneperfect
morningofMay!”
Aninvoluntarysighescapedhim.Thebeatingwingsofaswallowflyingfromits
nestundertheoldgabledeavesabovehimflashedareflexofquiveringlight
againsthiseyes;andawayinthewidemeadowbeyond,wherethehappycattle
wandereduptotheirfetlocksincowslipsandlushgrass,thecuckoocalledwith
cheerfulpersistence.OneofoldChaucer’squaintlywordedlegendscametohis


mind,—tellinghowthecourtlyknightArcite,
“Isrisen,andlookethonthemerriedayeAllfortodohisobservancetoMaye,—
AndtothegroveofwhichthatIyoutold,ByaventurehiswayhegantoholdTo
makenhimagarlandofthegreves,Wereitofwoodbindorofhawthornleaves,
Andloudhesungagainstthesunnysheen,—‘OMayewithallthyflowersand
thygreen,Rightwelcomebethou,faire,freshe,Maye!IhopethatIsomegreen
heregettenmay!”
Smilingattheantiquesimplicityandfreshnessofthelinesastheyrangacross
hisbrainlikethemusicaljingleofanold-worldspinet,hisearssuddenlycaught
thesoundofyoungvoicessingingatadistance.
“Herecomethechildren!”hesaid;andsteppingoutfromhisopenwindowinto
thegarden,heagainbenthiseartolisten.Thetremulousvoicescamenearerand
nearer,andwordscouldnowbedistinguished,breakingthroughtheprimitive
quaveringmelodyof‘TheMayers’Song’knowntoallthecountrysidesincethe
thirteenthcentury:
“RememberuspoorMayersall.—Andthusdowebegin,Toleadourlivesin
righteousness,Orelsewedieinsin.Wehavebeenramblingallthisnight,And
almostallthisday,Andnowreturningbackagain,WebringyouintheMay.The
hedgesandtreestheyaresogreen,Inthesunne’sgoodlyheat,OurHeavenly
FatherHewateredthemWithHisHeavenlydewsosweet.AbranchofMaywe
havebroughtyou---”
Herecameapauseandthechorusdroppedintoanuncertainmurmur.John
Waldenheardhisgardengatesswingbackontheirhinges,andashuffling
crunchofnumeroussmallfeetonthegravelpath.
“G’arn,Susie!”criedashrillboy’svoice—“Ify’areleadin’us,lead!G’arn!”
Asweetflute-liketreblerespondedtothisemphaticadjuration,singingalone,
clearandhigh,
“AbranchofMay---”andthenalltheothervoiceschimedin:“AbranchofMay
wehavebroughtyouAndatyourdooritstands,‘Tisbutasprout,But‘tis
buddedoutBytheworkofourLord’shands!”
Andwiththis,agreatcrownofcrimsonandwhiteblossoms,setonatall,gaily-


paintedpoleandadornedwithbrightcolouredribbons,camenid-noddingdown
thebox-treealleytothemiddleofthelawnoppositeWalden’sstudywindow,
whereitwasquicklystraightenedupandheldinpositionbytheeagerhandsof
sometwentyorthirtychildren,ofallsizesandages,who,surroundingitatits
base,turnedtheirfaces,fullofshyexultationtowardstheirpastor,stillsinging,
butinmorecarefultimeandtune:
“TheHeavenlygatesareopenwide,Ourpathsarebeatenplain,Andifamanbe
nottoofargone,Hemayreturnagain.Themoonshinesbrightandthestarsgive
lightAlittlebeforeitisday,SoGodblessyouall,bothgreatandsmall,And
sendyouamerrieMay!”
II
ForamomentortwoWaldenfoundhimselfsmittenbysostrongasenseofthe
meresimplesensuousjoyofliving,thathecoulddonomorethanstandlooking
insilentadmirationattheprettygroupofexpectantyoungcreaturesgathered
roundtheMaypole,andhuddled,asitwere,underitscumbrouscrownofdewy
blossoms,whichshowedvividlyagainsttheclearsky,whilethelongstreamers
ofred,whiteandbluedependingfromitssummit,trailedonthedaisy-sprinkled
grassattheirfeet.
Everylittlefacewasfamiliaranddeartohim.Thatawkwardlad,grinningfrom
eartoear,withaparticularlyfinesprigoffloweringhawthorninhiscap,was
DickStyles;—certainlyaverydifferentindividualtoChaucer’sknight,Arcite,
butresemblinghiminsofarthathehadevidentlygoneintothewoodsearly,
movedbythesamedesire:“IhopethatIsomegreenheregettenmay!”Thattiny
girl,welltothefront,withacleanwhitefrockonandnohattocoverhertangle
ofgoldencurls,wasBabyHippolyta,—thelast,theverylast,oftheseemingly
endlesssproutingolivebranchesofthesexton,AdamFrost.Whythepoorchild
hadbeendoomedtocarrythenameofHippolyta,nooneeverknew.Whenhe,
Walden,hadchristenedher,healmostdoubtedwhetherhehadheardthelengthy
appellationaright,andventuredtoaskthegodmotheroftheoccasiontorepeatit
inaloudervoice.Whereupon‘Hip-po-ly-ta’wasutteredinsuchstrongtones,so
thoroughlywellenunciated,thathecouldnolongermistakeit,andthehelpless
infant,screaminglustily,leftthesimpleEnglishbaptismalfontburdenedwitha
purelyGreekdesignation.Shewas,however,alwayscalled‘Ipsie’byher
playmates,andevenhermotherandfather,whowereentirelyresponsibleforher
nameinthefirstinstance,founditsomewhatweightyfordailyutteranceand


gladlyadoptedthesimplersobriquet,thoughtheeldersofthevillagegenerally
wereratherfondofcallingherwithmuchsolemnunction:‘BabyHippolyta,’as
thoughitwereanelaboratejoke.Ipsiewasoneoftheloveliestchildreninthe
village,andthoughshewasonlytwo-and-a-halfyearsold,shewasfullyaware
ofherowncharms.ShewaspushedtothefrontoftheMaypolethismorning,
merelybecauseshewaspretty,—andsheknewit.Thatwaswhysheliftedthe
extremeedgeofhershortskirtandputitinhermouth,therebydisplayingherfat
innocentbarelegsextensively,andsmiledattheReverendJohnWaldenoutof
theupliftedcornersofherforget-me-notblueeyes.ThentherewasBobKeeley,
moreorlessbreathlesswithexcitement,havingjustgotbackagainfrom
BadsworthHall,hisfriendthebutcherboyhavingdrivenhimtoandfromthat
place‘inajiffy’asheafterwardsdescribedit,—andtherewasaverysparkling,
smiling,vivaciouslittlepersonofaboutfifteen,inalilaccottonfrock,whowore
awreathoflaburnumonherblackcurls,nootherthanKittySpruce,generally
alludedtointhevillageas‘BobKeeley’sgel’;—andstandingnearBaby
Hippolyta,or‘Ipsie,’wastheacknowledgedyoungbeautyoftheplace,Susie
Prescott,aslipofalasswithafairMadonna-likeface,longchestnutcurlsand
great,dark,softeyeslikepansiesfilledwithdew.Susiehadadecidedtalentfor
music,—shesangveryprettily,andledthevillagechoir,undertheguidanceof
MissJanetEden,theschoolmistress.Thismorning,however,shewasriskingthe
dutiesofconductorshiponherownaccount,andverysweetshelookedinher
cheapwhitenuns-veilinggown,wearingabunchofnarcissicarelesslysetinher
hairandcarryingafloweringhazel-wandinherhand,withwhichshebeattime
forhercompanionsastheyfollowedherbird-likecarollinginthe‘Mayers’
Song.’Butjustnowallsinginghadceased,—andeveryoneofthechildrenhad
theirroundeyesfixedonJohnWaldenwithaminglingoftimidity,affectionand
awethatwasverywinningandprettytobehold.
Takinginthewholepictureofnature,youthandbeauty,asitwassetagainstthe
purebackgroundofthesky,Waldenrealisedthathewasexpectedtosay
something,—infact,hehadbeencalledupontosaysomethingeveryyearatthis
time,buthehadneverbeenabletoconquerthesingularnervousnesswhich
alwaysovercamehimonsuchoccasions.Itisonethingtopreachfromapulpit
toanassembledcongregationwhoarepreparedfororthodoxyandwhoareready
tolistenwithmoreorlesspatiencetotheexpoundingofthesame,—butitis
quiteanothertospeaktoanumberofgirlsandboysallfullofmirthand
mischief,andasreadyforafrolicasaherdofyoungcoltsinameadow.
Especiallywhenithappensthatmostofthegirlsarepretty,andwhen,asa
clergymananddirectorofsouls,oneisconsciousthattheboysaremoreorless


allinlovewiththegirls,—thatoneisabachelor,—gettingoninyearstoo;—and
that-chiefestofall-itisMay-morning!Onemayperhapsbeconsciousofa
contractionattheheart,—atighteningofthethroat,—evenaslightmistbefore
theeyesmayteaseandperplexsuchanone—whoknows?Aflashoflostyouth
maystingthememory,—aboyishcravingforloveandsympathymaystirthe
blood,andmaymakethegravestparson’sspeechincoherent,—forafterall,even
aministeroftheDivineisbutaman.
AtanyratetheReverendJohnfounditdifficulttobegin.Theroundforget-menoteyesofBabyHippolytastaredintohisfacewithrelentlesspersistency,—the
velvetpansy-colouredonesofSusiePrescottsmiledconfidinglyupathimwitha
bewilderingyouthfulnessandunconsciousnessofcharm;andthemischieflovingsmallboysandvillageyokelswhostoodgroupedagainsttheMaypole
likeroughfairyforestersguardingmagictimber,were,withalltherestofthe
children,hushedintoabreathlessexpectancy,waitingeagerlyfor‘Passon’to
speak.And‘Passon’thereuponbegan,—inthelamest,feeblest,mostpaternally
orthodoxmanner:
“Mydearchildren—”
“Hooray!Hooray!Threecheersfor‘Passon’!Hooray!”
Wildwhoopingfollowed,andtheMaypolerockeduneasily,andbegantoslant
downwardinadrunkenfashion,likeaconvivialgiantwhomstrongwinehas
madedoubtfulofhisfooting.
“Takecare,youyoungrascals!”criedWalden,lettingsentiment,orthodoxyand
eloquencegotothewinds,—“Youwillhavethewholethingdown!”
Pealsofgaylaughterresponded,andthenoddingmassofbloomwasswiftly
pulledupandassistedtosupportitsnecessaryhorizontaldignity.ButhereBaby
Hippolytasuddenlycreatedadiversion.Movedperhapsbytheconsciousnessof
herownbeauty,orbythegeneralexcitementaroundher,shesuddenlywaveda
miniaturebranchofhawthornandemittedapiercingyell.
“Passon!Tum‘ere!Passon!Tum‘ere!”
Therewasnopossibilityof‘holdingforth’afterthis.A.shortaddressonthe
brevityoflife,asbeingco-equalwiththeevanescentjoysofaMaypole,would
hardlyserve,—andafatherlyambitionastotheunbecomingattitudeofmendi-


cancyassumedbyindependentyoungvillagerscarryingagreatcrownofflowers
roundtoeveryhouseintheneighbourhood,anddemandingpencefortheshow,
wouldscarcelybepopular.Becausewhatdidthe‘Mayers’Songsay:
“TheHeavenlygatesareopenedwide,Ourpathsarebeatenplain;Andifaman
benottoofargone,Hemayreturnagain.”
Andthe‘Heavenlygates’ofSpringbeingwideopen,theReverendJohn,
thoughthisspecialpathwas‘beatenplain’fortheoccasion;andnotbeing‘too
fargone’eitherinbigotryorlackofheart,Johndidwhathereverentlyimagined
theDivineMastermighthavedonewhenHe‘tookalittlechildandsetitinthe
midst.”HeobeyedBabyHippolyta’simperiouscommand,andtoheragain
loudlyreiterated“Passon!Tum‘ere!”hesprangforwardandcaughtherupinhis
arms,kissingherrosycheeksheartilyashedidso.Seatedin‘highexaltedstate’
uponhisshoulder.‘Ipsie’becameHippolytaingoodearnest,sothoroughly
awarewassheofherdignity,while,holdingheraslightlyandbuoyantlyashe
wouldhaveheldabird,theReverendJohnturnedhissmilingfaceonhisyoung
parishioners.
“Comealong,boysandgirls!”heexclaimed,—“ComeandplanttheMaypolein
thebigmeadowyonder,asyoudidlastyear!Itisaholidayforusallto-day,—
formeaswellasforyou!Ithasalwaysbeenaholidayevenbeforethedays
whengreatElizabethwasQueenofEngland,andthoughmanydearoldcustoms
havefallenintodisusewiththechangingworld,St.Resthasneveryetbeen
robbedofitsMay-dayfestival!Bethankfulforthat,children!—andcomealong;
—butmovecarefully!—keeporder,—andsingasyoucome!”
WhereuponSusiePrescottliftedupherprettyvoiceagainandherhazelwand
batonatthesamemoment,andstartedthechoruswiththeverse:
“Wehavebeenramblingallthisnight,Andalmostallthisday;Andnow
returningbackagain,WebringyouintheMay!”
Andthuscarolling,theypassedthroughthegardenmovingmeadow-wards,
Waldenattheheadoftheprocession,—andBabyHippolytaseatedonhis
shoulder,wassoelatedwiththegladsomesightsandsounds,thatsheclaspedher
chubbyarmsround‘Passon’s’neckandkissedhimwithafervourthatwasas
freshanddelightfulasitwasirresistiblycomic.
Bainton,makinghiswayalongthesouthernwalloftheorchard,totakea


‘glanceround’ashetermedit,attheconditionofthewallfruit-treesbeforehis
masterjoinedhimontheusualmorningtourofinspection,stoppedanddrew
asidetowatchthemerryprocessionwindingalongunderthebrownstemsdotted
withthousandsofredbudssplittingintopink-and-whitebloom;andaslowsmile
movedthefurrowsofhisfaceupwardinvariouspleasantlinesashesawthe
‘Passon’leadingitwithalightstep,carryingthelaughing‘Ipsie’onhisshoulder,
andnowandagainjoininginthe‘Mayers’Song’withamellowbaritonevoice
thatwarmedandsustainedthewholechorus.
“There‘egoes!”hesaidhalfaloud—“Jes’likeaboy!—forallthewurrldlikea
boy!Ireckon‘e’sgotthesecreto’nevergrowin’old,forallthat‘is‘air’sturnin’
abitgrey.‘Owmanypassonsinthis‘ereneighbroodwouldcarrythechildren
likethat,Iwonder?Notoneon‘em!—thoughthere’samanytopickan’choose
from—adarnedsighttoomanyifyouaxesmyopinion!OldPuttyLeveson,wi’s
bobbin’an’‘isbowin’stotheeast—hor!—hor!—hor!—afineeast‘e’sgotin‘is
mouldypreachin’barn,wi’awhitewashedwallan’adirtybito’tinselfixedup
aginit—hewouldn’ttouchachildo’ourn,tosave‘islife—though‘e’sgotthree
orfourmean,lyin’pryin’bratsof‘isownrunnin’wildabouttheplaceasmight
jestaswell‘aveneverbeenborn.AndasforFrancisAnthony,the‘ighpontiffo’
Riversford,wi’sbigaltar-cloakembridedfor‘imbyallthepoorskinnyspinsters
wotain’tnever‘adnochancetomarry—‘e’dseeallthechildrenblowedtobits
underthewallsofJerichotothesoundo’thetrumpetsafore‘e’dtouch‘em!Talk
o’saints!—I’mnotverygoodatunnerstannin’thatkindo’folk,notseein’myself
‘oweverasaintcouldmanagetogetoninthismortalwurrld;butIreckonto
thinkthere’satollableimitationo’therealarticleinPassonWalden—thejolly
sorto’saint,o’coorse,—nottheprayin’,whinin’,snuffin’kind.‘E’sbeendoin’
nothin’butgoodeversince‘ecame‘ere,whichm’appenpartlyfrom‘isnot
bein’married.If‘e’dgottenawife,theplacewoulda’beenawsomedifferent.
Notbutwot‘eain’tabitcrankyover‘is,flowers‘isself.ButI’drather‘ave‘im
fussin’roundthanapetticutarterme.Apetticutat‘ome’senough,an’Iain’t
complainin’onit,thoughit’sabitbreezysometimes,—butapetticutinthe
gard’nin’linewoulddrivememainwild—itwouldreelynow!”
Andstillsmilingwithperfectcomplacency,hewatchedtheMaypolebeing
carriedcarefullyalongthespaceofgrassleftopenbetweenthefruittreeson
eithersideoftheorchard,andfolloweditsbrightpatchofcolourandthe
children’sfacesandformsaroundit,tillitentirelydisappearedamongthe
thickergreenofaclumpofelmsthatborderedthe‘bigmeadow,’whichWalden
generallykeptclearofbothcropsandcattleforthebenefitofthevillagesports


andpastimes.
Hewasindeedtheonlyland-ownerinthedistrictwhogaveanyconsiderationof
thiskindtotheneedsofthepeople.St.Restwassurroundedonallsidesby
severallargeprivateproperties,richlywooded,andpossessingmanyacresof
ploughedandpastureland,buttherewasnopublicright-of-wayacrossany
singleoneofthem,andeveryfield,everywoodlandpath,everytemptingdell
wasrigidlyfencedandguardedfrom‘vulgar’intrusion.Noneoftheproprietors
oftheseestates,however,appearedtotaketheleastpersonaljoyorprideintheir
possessions.TheywereforthemostpartawayinLondonfor‘theseason’or
abroad‘out’oftheseason,—andtheirextensivewoodsappearedtoexistchiefly
forthepreservationofgame,rearedsolelytobeshotbyafewidleloutsof
fashionduringSeptemberandOctober,andalsofortheconvenienceandsupport
ofacertainlandagent,oneOliverLeach,whocutdownfineoldtimber
wheneverheneededmoney,andthoughtitadvisabletopockettheproceedsof
suchdevastation.
Scarcelyinoneinstanceoutofahundreddidtheactualownersofpropertymiss
thetreessufficientlytoaskwhathadbecomeofthem.Solongasthegamewas
allright,theypaidlittleheedtotherest.Thepartridgesandthepheasants
thrived,andsodidMr.OliverLeach.Heenjoyed,however,thegreatest
unpopularityofanymanintheneighbourhood,whichwassomesmallcomfort
tothosewhobelievedinthelawsofcompensationandjustice.Baintonwashis
particularenemyforone,andBainton’smaster,JohnWalden,foranother.His
long-practised‘knavishtricks’andthemaliciousdelighthetookintryingto
destroyordisfigurethesylvanbeautyofthelandscapebyhisbrutishignorance
oftheartofforestry,combinedwithhisownpersonalgreed,werebeginningto
bewell-knowninSt.Rest,anditisverycertainthatonMay-morningwhenthe
youngstersofthevillagewereabroadand,toagreatextent,haditalltheirown
way,(aidedandabettedinthatwaybytherecognisedauthorityoftheplace,the
ministerhimself,)hewouldneverhavedaredtoshowhishardfaceandstiffly
uprightfigureanywhere,lestheshouldbeunmercifully‘guyed’withouta
chanceofrescueorappeal.
WiththedisappearanceoftheMaypoleintothefurthermeadow,Bainton
likewisedisappearedonhisroundofduty,which,ashehaddeclared,movedhim
‘insundryplaces,’andforalittlewhilethedove-likespiritofSpringbroodedin
restfulsilenceoverthequietorchardandgarden.


ThesingingoftheMay-daychildrenhadnowgrownsofaintandfarastobe
scarcelyaudible,—andthecallofthecuckooshrillingabovetheplaintive
murmurofthewoodpigeons,soonabsorbedeventheechooftheyounghuman
voicespassingaway.Alightbreezestirredthetendergreengrass,shakingdown
ashowerofpinkalmondbloomasitsweptfan-likethroughtheluminousair,—a
skylarkhalflostinthebrilliantblue,begantodescendearthwards,flingingouta
sparklingfountainofmusicwitheveryquiverofhisjewel-likewings,andaway
intheshelteredshadeofasmallhazelcopse,thefaintflutynotesofa
nightingaletrembledwithamysterioussweetnesssuggestiveofevening,when
thesongshouldbefull.
Morethananhourelapsed,andnolivingbeingenteredtheseclusionofthe
parson’sgardensaveNebbie,theparson’sroughAberdeenterrier,who,
appearingsuddenlyattheopenstudy-window,sniffedatthefairprospectfora
moment,andthen,steppingoutwithaleisurelyairofproprietorshiplaydown
onthegrassinthefullsunshine.Awise-lookingdogwasNebbie,—thoughfew
wouldhavethoughtthathisfullnamewasNebuchadnezzar.OnlytheReverend
Johnknewthat.Nebbiewasperfectlyawarethatthechildrenhadcomewiththe
Maypole,andthathismasterhadaccompaniedthemtothebigmeadow.Nebbie
alsoknewthatpresentlythatsamemasterofhiswouldreturnagaintomakethe
circuitofthegardeninthecompanyofBainton,accordingtocustom,—andas
hestretchedhisfourhairypawsoutcomfortably,andblinkedhisbrowneyesata
portlyblackbirdproddingintheturfforawormwithinastone’sthrowofhim,
hewasevidentlyconsideringwhetheritwouldbeworthhiswhile,asan
epicureananimal,toescortthesetwomenontheirusualroundonsuchawarm
pleasantmorning.Foritwasadog’sreallazyday,—adaywhenmerelytolieon
thegrasswassufficientsatisfactionforthecaninemind.AndNebbie,yawning
extensively,andstretchinghimselfalittlemore,closedhiseyesinaraptureof
peace,andstirredhistailslightlywithone,two,threemildtapsonthesoftgrass,
whenasuddenclearwhistlecausedhimtospringupwitheveryhairbristlingon
end,fore-pawswellforwardandeyeswideopen.
“Nebbie!Nebbie!”
Nebbiewasnothingifnotthoroughbred,andthevoiceofhismasterwas,despite
allconsiderationsofsleepandsunshine,tohimasthevoiceofthecommanding
officertoasubaltern.Hewasofflikeashotatatearingpace,nosedownandtail
erect,andinlessthanaminutehadscentedWaldenintheshrubbery,whichled
bydeviouswindingsdownfromtheorchardtothebanksoftheriverRest,and


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