صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

ford in her turn, quickly roused into most ground, either, in her excitement and comfortable self-forgetfulness. "I am pleasure ; now she felt distressed and really pleased. She 'll make you a good, responsible again, and showed it in her smart wife. Ain't all the folks pleased, face at once. The young man leaped both sides?

lightly to the ground, and reached for “Yes, they be," answered John so- the flowers. berly, with a happy, important look that “Here, you just let me run up with became him well.

'em,” he said kindly. “ 'T is hot in the “I guess I can make out to do some- sun to-day, an' you 'll mind it risin' the thing for you to help along, when the hill. We'll stop as I fetch you back toright time comes,” said aunt Bickford night, and you can go up comfortable impulsively, after a moment's reflection. an’ walk the yard after sundown when “I've known what it is to be starting it's cool, an' stay as long as you ’re a out in life with plenty o' hope. You mind to. You seem sort of tired, aunt.” ain't calculatin' on gettin' married be- “I don't know but what I will let

you fore fall, — or be ye?”

carry 'em,” said Mrs. Bickford slowly. “'Long in the fall,” said John regret

To leave the matter of the rose in fully. “ I wish ť we could set up for the hands of fate seemed weakness and ourselves right away this summer. I cowardice, but there was not a moment ain't got much ahead, but I can work for consideration. John was a smiling well as anybody, an' now I'm out o' my fate, and his proposition was a great retime."

lief. She watched him go away with a “She's a nice, modest, pretty girl. I terrible inward shaking, and sinking of thought she liked you, John," said the pride. She had held the flowers with so old aunt. “I saw her over to your mo- firm a grasp that her hands felt weak ther's, last day I was there. Well, I and numb, and as she leaned back and expect you 'll be happy."

shut her eyes she was afraid to open “Certain,” said John, turning to look them again at first for fear of knowing at her affectionately, surprised by this the bouquets apart even at that distance, outspokenhess and lack of embarrassment and giving instructions which she might between them. “ Thank you, aunt,” he regret. With a sudden impulse she called said simply; "you 're a real good friend John once or twice eagerly ; but her voice to me," and he looked away again hasti- had a thin and piping sound, and the ly, and blushed a fine scarlet over his sun- meditative early crickets that chirped in browned face. “She 's coming over to the fresh summer grass probably soundspend the day with the girls,” he added. ed louder in John's ears. The bright “ Mother thought of it. You don't get light on the white stones dazzled Mrs. over to see us very often."

Bickford's eyes; and then all at once she Mrs. Bickford smiled approvingly. felt light-hearted, and the sky seemed John's mother looked for her good opin- to lift itself higher and wider from the ion, no doubt, but it was very proper for earth, and she gave a sigh of relief as John to have told his prospects himself, her messenger came back along the path. and in such a pretty way.

There was “I know who I do hope 's got the right no shilly-shallying about the boy. one,” she said to herself. “ There, what

“My gracious ! ” said John suddenly. a touse I be in! I don't see what I “I'd like to have drove right by the had to go and pick the old rose for, any. burying ground. I forgot we wanted way.” to stop.”

Strange as it may appear, Mrs. Bick. “I declare, they did look real handford herself had not noticed the burying some, aunt,” said John's hearty voice as

a

[ocr errors]

he approached the chaise. “ I set 'em ground. “Come, get right in, dear,”

“ up just as you told me. This one fell she said. “ Well, well! I guess

the out, an' I kept it. I don't know 's you 'll rose was made for you ; it looks very care. I can give it to Lizzie.”

pretty in your coat, John.” He faced her now with a bright, boy- She thought of Albert, and the next ish look. There was something gay

in moment the tears came into her old eyes. his buttonhole : it was the red rose. John was a lover, too.

Aunt Bickford blushed like a girl. “My first husband was just such a “Your choice is easy made,” she fal- tall, straight young man as you be,” she tered mysteriously, and then burst out said as they drove along. "The flower laughing, there in front of the burying he first give me was a rose.”

Sarah Orne Jewett.

[ocr errors]

TALK AT A COUNTRY HOUSE.

“DOWN TO TOWER'D CAMELOT."

THE squire was from home for a day mer heat; from there we drove to South or two, on business. When he came Cadbury, about two miles off. The back, he asked the ladies, “ What have drive was across a plain ; in fact, the end you been doing while I was away?” of the great valley which runs up from They answered, “We took Mr. Foster the sea, roughly speaking, bounded by to Camelot, to convince him that it was the Mendip range on one side, and the Cadbury in Somersetshire, and not Win Polden hills, parallel to Mendip, on the chester, which he declared Caxton to have other, and the beginning of the downs said it to be."

which join on to the system of Salisbury Squire. Caxton was a wise as well Plain, shutting in the valley åt right anas a good man, and his knowledge was gles to Mendip and the Polden hills. great; but even he did not know every- In this great trench are islands : near thing. In the Introduction to the Globe the sea, such ones as Brent Knoll; furEdition of Morte Darthur you will find ther up, Glastonbury Tor; and furthest the reasons for holding that King Ar- from the sea, and just under the downs, thur's Camelot — probably from Came- lies Camelot. As we drove, we could lus, the Celtic god of war - was the Cad. see, looking towards our right, the downs bury Castle you saw yesterday. But bounding the horizon with their charperhaps you are already convinced that acteristic slopes, the flat tops and steep you had seen the true Camelot, and that sloping sides and general plainness of Arthur really held his court there? surface which give to downs an individ

Foster. Certainly. I felt like Mopsa, uality among hills. Along their ridges who loved a ballad in print, because then were to be seen scars on their sides showshe knew it to be true.

ing old encampments. Close under these Squire. I should like to hear your downs stands Camelot, a long, regularly account of the expedition. I know you sloped hill, quite isolated, its top at a diskeep a journal.

tance looking nearly horizontal, while the Foster (fetches a notebook, and reads two ends present a slope of about the from it). “We got to Sparkford at about same angle; the side towards us was one o'clock on a day of terrible midsum- thickly wooded, and so no ramparts were

а

a

to be seen. At South Cadbury, a pretty one comes up from the bottom; a little village, with its little church and pollard to the north of this western gate the poplar-trees round it, we began our walk. ground rises in a knoll, called Arthur's A narrow lane, with steep banks, leading Castle, and is the highest part of the out of the highroad, and called Castle hill, being five hundred feet above the Lane, began to go up the hill. After a sea. It has steep sides, which seem partshort distance we reached a gate: here the ly the result of art, and partly natural. lane widened, and seemed to go straight “One could not help being struck by up the hill in a broad ditch. A short way the simple earth walls and their primiup, roads branched to right and left; on tive strength, and feeling how different the one to the left was a gamekeeper's must have been the people who lived cottage. These branching roads were, here in rude strength from the gorgeous in fact, the first ditches at the top of the images of the Camelot of Malory. How first slope of earthwork. Before tell- entirely the life here must bave differed ing of our ascent of the fort, I will de- from the mediæval surroundings from scribe the general lines on which the which he drew his color! And we could defenses are made, as this will simplify not help wondering who were the peothe account I am going to give of the ple who began to make a fortress out details. Imagine to yourself a plain out of the hill, and what were the names of which rises a hill, two hundred feet of those who had brought these earth high, of regular shape on the northern mounds and ditches to such perfection side; a slight slope up from the plain of strength. Strange that the genius suddenly turns into a steep rampart of that planned and the energy that exeabout fifty feet, so steep that we, like 'cuted should have left only the work acCamden, found it easier to run down it complished, and no record of those by than walk. Gaining the top of this first whose might it was framed! Strange rampart, you find yourself on a narrow that a people so great, who could carve edge, sloping steeply down to a ditch, the everlasting hills into citadels, and a slope of perhaps ten feet; from the whose mounds and ditches have survived bottom of this ditch rises the second • the drums and tramplings of three conrampart, of about the same height as quests,' should have left no name even the first, which again ends in an edge in the histories of nations now dead ! sloping down to a second ditch, from “* But the iniquity of oblivion blindly which rises the third rampart, like the scattereth her poppy, and deals with second, but not so high as the first and the memory of men without distinction second, though as steep; this, too, has to merit of perpetuity. Who can but

, its ditch, and from it rises the fourth and pity the founder of the Pyramids ? Helast rampart. The top of this one is em- rostratus lives that burnt the temple of banked about ten feet above the nearly Diana ; he is almost lost that built it.' 1 flat top of the hill. This is a space of “ The greater part of the hill is woodsome twenty acres, and at the eastern ed. This, unfortunately, hides the ramend enters the roadway leading up from parts and ditches, except at close quarthe bottom to where I have said we first ters, but then they are seen clearly. We began to climb, the roadway cutting made our way up through the eastern through ditches and ramparts. This en- entrance, walked across the oval top, and trance was, no doubt, protected by the went out at the western gate down the iron gates which still live in tradition. hill to the bottom, where we found a So the road enters the oval top of the wall below the last rampart shutting in hill at the eastern end. Opposite, at the the hill from the fields round. We then western end, another road just like this 1 Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial.

1

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

a

walked round the northern slope inside resounded to the busy life of a capital this wall, in search of the Wishing Well city of the old British kingdom, or had After going a little way, the squire's echoed to the battle cry of a mightier daughter saw a cow

race, the torrent of whose conquest this Squire (interrupting). And you all citadel had stayed, but not arrested. ran for your lives, I suppose ?

Not only did the well put us in touch Foster. No, we did not. The young with the clouded forms of long past hislady only availed herself, as her father tory,' but we also thought of those whom would have done, of the opportunity for poets have made much clearer. the exercise of the higher criticism, as

“ ' Feigned of old or fabled since, you will see if you let me go on, Of faery damsels met in forest wide “saw a cow on the top of the first ram- By Knights of Logres or of Lyones, part above us (here not very high), and

Lancelot of Pelleas or Pellenore.' thought this might indicate water. We For, at Camelot, Arthur and his knights went to the place only to find a muddy still ride at the full moon and water pool, and were thinking of going on far their horses at this well. The hill of ther, when the other lady of the party, ramparts and ditches rose in the imagiher sister-in-law, noticed, a little to the nation to something much more than a right of the pool, a few steps above it, a stockaded camp of a savage tribe, and, small inclosure some twenty feet square, like Leland before us, we felt that we made by a low, dry wall; going into this, were at the local habitation of those she found the well. The second rampart airy nothings, those fancies of poets' slopes up at the back of the little inclo- brains, King Arthur and his Knights of sure, making one of its walls ; in its the Round Table, whose deeds had side, on the ground, is the Wishing Well. played as important a part as had Troy A block of stone, about four feet long, the ancient, and influenced the modern has been hollowed out into a circular world as greatly. Whether it was from arch, the inside of which is cut into a such thoughts as these or not I canscallop shell ; this block might be the not say, but the water of the Wishing top part or roof of a semicircular niche, Well seemed a draught inspiring beyond though here it rests on no pillars, but on all other water. But we had other things the ground, so the opening is only some to see yet, and above all to prove if the two feet high and three long; the sur- hill were hollow; for the legends of the face of the water was about a foot be country assert that a noise made at King low the ground, in a little basin built, ap- Arthur's Well is heard at the Wishing parently, of brick, on the same plan as Well; so the ladies stayed at the latthe scalloped roof, - that is, in front ter, while I started in search of King straight, the back a half - round. The Arthur's Well, the other spring on the water was of crystal clearness and of hill. This I found at no great distance, icy coldness. Although the shape of the close to the cottage, and on the left side stone was evidently not very old, possi- of the eastern road up the hill. This bly of the time of Queen Anne, as it is was a stone with a round hole in it about sometimes called Queen Anne's Well, two feet across, the well below being a still, here it seemed a living thing of the circular place about four feet deep, full past. The soft gurgle of the spring, as it of filthy and all but stagnant water, ran away in some hidden channel, heard and quite powerless to excite the imonly when one bent close to the water, agination. At the appointed time I made one feel it was thus that this spring made much noise by hitting boards and ran when those ramparts over our heads, sticks on the mouth of the well; but on now slumbering in peaceful decay, had going back to the Wishing Well found

a

a

that my noises had not been heard. and of the monumental handiwork of a Considering that we had drunk deep of vanished people, all seen through a halo the clear spring, I was relieved to think of midsummer sunlight.” 1 it did not communicate with the poison- Squire. Very good geography, phyous waters of King Arthur's Well. We sical, military, and archæological ; not now set out to see more of the south- without a touch, too, of purple patch, ern side, and, walking along past the cot- and some of a very fine purple. tage, found ourselves on the top of the Foster. If it had been full moon or first rampart. On the southeastern slope the eve of St. John, I think I should have the walls of earth stand out in bald begged the ladies to stay with me, or to grandeur, for there are no trees, and leave me there, that I, too, might hear here we could appreciate the enormous and see Arthur and his knights come strength of the ramparts rising tier riding down King Arthur's Lane, as, acabove tier over our heads. I have seen cording to local tradition, they have never other camps of this kind, but never any left off doing since the days of Leland, thing like this ; the steepness of the whose account I have just been reading, sides and the regularity of the slopes who tells us of the silver horseshoe that make it a striking spectacle. As we got one of them had cast in such a ride. farther round on the south side, trees Squire. I have often fancied that if began again, though more scattered; I had the poet's gift of looking into and and as we climbed up gradually, start- seeing the imaginary past, while the ling countless rabbits, and at one place a senses of the present are laid asleep, the badger, the views became of great beau- vision would come to me on the grassy ty, till, reaching the top of the southern mound called Arthur's Castle, at the top side, near the west gate, we looked down of the hill of Camelot. Even now that on the village of Sutton Montis. No vision rises before me with successive thing could have been more lovely. A magic scenes, “apart from place, withlittle brook with willows skirted the for- holding time,” but always in that golden tress, after leaving the downs opposite prime of Arthur and his knights. I seem whence it rose ; across this brook lay a to see the town of Camelot, while within vast orchard, the orderly rows of its the hall is the Round Table, its seats great trees clearly seen from our height; filling with knights come to the feast of beyond this came the pleasant villages Pentecost, though Arthur will not take and farms adjoined,' — one especially his place till he hears from Sir Kay, the glowing roof of almost crimson tiles Seneschal, that an adventure is at hand, took the eye; beyond this, again, the since some unknown lady or knight can church, and then the vast sweep of view be seen riding down the road. Scene towards Dorsetshire. From here we after scene rises before me of things went through the western gate of the done, and words spoken, and quests untop of the camp, and descended the hill dertaken, in that hall; and not least by the road at that end, leaving Came- that when the Holy Grail, covered with lot by the west, having come there by white samite, passed through, offering the east. We then went a pleasant way every knight for once to partake of that across the grounds, orchards and fields, mysterious food, and awaking in him till a path near the river took us back the resolve to achieve that quest. And into Sparkford, where the interval till then, our train was due was filled by many “I see no longer, I myself am there,” cups of tea in a pleasant old inn. The among the crowd of ladies and knights train took us home in a golden evening, 1 An account of an actual visit, by my son, and we were left with visions of romance Mr. Henry Strachey. VOL. LXXIII. NO. 435.

4

6

« السابقةمتابعة »