We are not wholly without the pleasures of the town in Barbury
Once or twice in a summer, late on a Saturday afternoon, a procession
red and yellow vans drives into a field near the centre of the village.
By the time the vans are unpacked all the children in the community
surrounding the gate of entrance. There is rifle-shooting, there
fortune-telling, there are games of pitch and toss, and swings,
French bagatelle; and, to crown all, a wonderful orchestrion that
steam. The water is boiled for the public's tea, and at the same
thrilling strains of melody are flung into the air. There is at
only one tune in the orchestrion's repertory, but it is a very good
though after hearing it three hundred and seven times in a single
afternoon, it pursues one, sleeping and waking, for the next week.
and I took the Square Baby and went in to this diversified entertainment.
There was a small crowd of children at the entrance, but as none
seemed to be provided with pennies, and I felt in a fairy godmother
I offered them the freedom of the place at my expense.
I never purchased more radiant good-will for less money, but the
effect of the well-boiled tea and the boiling orchestrion produced
village nightmares, so the mothers told me at chapel next morning.
* * *
I have many friends in Barbury Green, and often have a pleasant
the draper, and the watchmaker, and the chemist.
The last house on the principal street is rather an ugly one, with
especially nice window curtains. As I was taking my daily walk to
post-office (an entirely unfruitful expedition thus far, as nobody
taken the pains to write to me) I saw a nursemaid coming out of
wheeling a baby in a perambulator. She was going placidly away from
Green when, far in the distance, she espied a man walking rapidly
us, a heavy Gladstone bag in one hand. She gazed fixedly for a moment,
her eyes brightening and her cheeks flushing with pleasure,--whoever
was, it was an unexpected arrival;--then she retraced her steps
running up the garden-path, opened the front door and held an excited
colloquy with somebody; a slender somebody in a nice print gown
neatly-dressed hair, who came to the gate and peeped beyond the
several times, drawing back between peeps with smiles and heightened
colour. She did not run down the road, even when she had satisfied
herself of the identity of the traveller; perhaps that would not
been good form in an English village, for there were houses on the
opposite side of the way. She waited until he opened the gate, the
nursemaid took the bag and looked discreetly into the hedge, then
mistress slipped her hand through the traveller's arm and walked
path as if she had nothing else in the world to wish for. The nurse
a part in the joy, for she lifted the baby out of the perambulator
showed proudly how much he had grown.
It was a dear little scene, and I, a passer-by, had shared in it
better for it. I think their content was no less because part of
enriched my life, for happiness, like mercy, is twice blessed; it
those who are most intimately associated in it, and it blesses all
who see it, hear it, feel it, touch it, or breathe the same atmosphere.
laughing, crowing baby in a house, one cheerful woman singing about
work, a boy whistling at the plough, a romance just suspected, with
miracle of two hearts melting into one--the wind's always in the
when you have any of these wonder-workers in your neighbourhood.
I have talks too, sometimes, with the old parson, who lives in
house with "_Parva Domus Magna Quies_" cut into the stone
doorway. He is not a preaching parson, but a retired one, almost
nicest kind, I often think.
He has been married thirty years, he tells me; thirty years, spent
one little house with the bricks painted red and grey alternately,
the scarlet holly-hocks growing under the windows. I am sure they
been sweet, true, kind years, and that his heart must be a quiet,
peaceful place just like his house and garden.
"I was only eleven years old when I fell in love with my wife,"
me as we sat on the seat under the lime-tree; he puffing cosily
pipe, I plaiting grasses for a hatband.
"It was just before Sunday-school. Her mother had dressed
her all in
white muslin like a fairy, but she had stepped on the edge of a
and some of the muddy water had bespattered her frock. A circle
children had surrounded her, and some of the motherly little girls
on their knees rubbing at the spots anxiously, while one of them
away the tears that were running down her pretty cheeks. I looked!
was fatal! I did not look again, but I was smitten to the very heart!
did not speak to her for six years, but when I did, it was all right
both of us, thank God! and I've been in love with her ever since,
she behaves herself!"
That is the way they speak of love in Barbury Green, and oh! how
sweeter and more wholesome it is than the language of the town!
would not be a Goose Girl, "to win the secret of the weed's
It seems to me that in society we are always gazing at magic-lantern
shows, but here we rest our tired eyes with looking at the stars.