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The first point to agree upon in this enterprise is that as a rule men habitually use only a small part of the powers which they actually possess and which they might use under appropriate conditions.
Their way back to the path where they had separated from Colonel Dene was long and toilsome. Sepp did his best to beguile it with hunter’s yarns, more or less true, at any rate just as acceptable as if they had been proved and sworn to.
“We used to say so — and I suppose we used to think so — some of us. But we know better now. These people are not compelled to come to our country, but if they come they know what they have to do — and they do it. You may have noticed that we have no ‘steerage’.”
Naturally, if that was her habit and that was her delight, she could only expect to be laughed at; and, accordingly, Pope or Gay is said to have satirized her ‘as a blue-stocking with an itch for scribbling’. Also it is thought that she offended Gay by laughing at him. She said that his Trivia showed that ‘he was more proper to walk before a chair than to ride in one’. But this is all ‘dubious gossip’ and, says Mr Murry, ‘uninteresting’. But there I do not agree with him, for I should have liked to have had more even of dubious gossip so that I might have found out or made up some image of this melancholy lady, who loved wandering in the fields and thinking about unusual things and scorned, so rashly, so unwisely, ‘the dull manage of a servile house’. But she became diffuse, Mr Murry says. Her gift is all grown about with weeds and bound with briars. It had no chance of showing itself for the fine distinguished gift it was. And so, putting, her back on the shelf, I turned to the other great lady, the Duchess whom Lamb loved, harebrained, fantastical Margaret of Newcastle, her elder, but her contemporary. They were very different, but alike in this that both were noble and both childless, and both were married to the best of husbands. In both burnt the same passion for poetry and both are disfigured and deformed by the same causes. Open the Duchess and one finds the same outburst of rage. ‘Women live like Bats or Owls, labour like Beasts, and die like Worms. . . . ’ Margaret too might have been a poet; in our day all that activity would have turned a wheel of some sort. As it was, what could bind, tame or civilize for human use that wild, generous, untutored intelligence? It poured itself out, higgledy-piggledy, in torrents of rhyme and prose, poetry and philosophy which stand congealed in quartos and folios that nobody ever reads. She should have had a microscope put in her hand. She should have been taught to look at the stars and reason scientifically. Her wits were turned with solitude and freedom. No one checked her. No one taught her. The professors fawned on her. At Court they jeered at her. Sir Egerton Brydges complained of her coarseness —’as flowing from a female of high rank brought up in the Courts’. She shut herself up at Welbeck alone.
Still for a moment, she made no reply, but stood gazing about her as if she had the sudden sense of unseen presences between them. At length she gave a faint laugh. It visibly ruffled her visitor.
It might be so, Last thought, but on the whole he was inclined to put down the boy’s swift progress rather to his own exceptional intelligence than to his father’s system, or no system. And in any case, it was a great pleasure to teach such a boy. And his application to his books had certainly no injurious effect on his spirits. There was not much society within easy reach of the White House, and, besides, people did not know whether the Marshes were to settle down or whether they were transient visitors: they were chary of paying their calls while there was this uncertainty. However, the rector had called; first of all the rector and his wife, she cheery, good-humoured and chatty; he somewhat dim and vague. It was understood that the rector, a high wrangler in his day, divided his time between his garden and the invention of a flying machine. He had the character of being slightly eccentric. He came not again, but Mrs. Winslow would drive over by the forest road in the governess’s car with her two children; Nancy, a pretty fair girl of seventeen, and Ted, a boy of eleven or twelve, of that type which Last catalogued as “stodgy and podgy,” broad and thick set, with bulgy cheeks and eyss, and something of the determined expression of a young bulldog. After tea Nancy would organise games for the two boys in the garden and join in them herself with apparent relish. Henry, who had known few companions besides his parents, and had probably never played a game of any kind, squealed with delight, ran here and there and everywhere, hid behind the summer-house and popped out from the screen of the French beans with the greatest gusto, and Ted Winslow joined in with an air of protest. He was on his holidays, and his expression signified that all that sort of thing was only fit for girls and kids. Last was delighted to see Henry so ready and eager to be amused; after all he had something of the child in him. He seemed a little uncomfortable when Nancy Winslow took him on her knee after the sports were over; he was evidently fearful of Ted Winslow’s scornful eye. Indeed, the young bulldog looked as if he feared that his character would be compromised by associating with so manifest and confessed a kid. The next time Mrs. Winslow took tea at the White House, Ted had a diplomatic headache and stayed at home. But Nancy found games that two could play, and she and Henry were heard screaming with joy all over the gardens. Henry wanted to show Nancy a wonderful well that he had discovered in the forest; it came, he said, from under the roots of a great yew tree. But Mrs. Marsh seemed to think that they might get lost.
2. There was a confused mass rolling in combat on the floor, and thetable was occupied by a scarlet-faced individual, who passed the timeby kicking violently at certain hands, which were endeavouring to draghim from his post, and shrieking frenzied abuse at the owners of thesaid hands. It was an animated scene, and to a deaf man might havebeen most enjoyable.>
It is pleasant to visit Nova Scotia in the month of June. Pack up your flannels and your fishing tackle, leave behind you your prejudices and your summer clothing, take your trout-pole in one hand and a copy of Haliburton in the other, and step on board a Cunarder at Boston. In thirty-six hours you are in the loyal little province, and above you floats the red flag and the cross of St. George. My word for it, you will not regret the trip.[Pg 14] That the idea of visiting Nova Scotia ever struck any living person as something peculiarly pleasant and cheerful, is not within the bounds of probability. Very rude people are wont to speak of Halifax in connection with the name of a place never alluded to in polite society—except by clergymen. As for the rest of the Province, there are certain vague rumors of extensive and constant fogs, but nothing more. The land is a sort of terra incognita. Many take it to be a part of Canada, and others firmly believe it is somewhere in Newfoundland.
Only the tall lilac bushes sheltered him from the two who stood by the brook-side. For a moment he was horrified at what he saw and heard. He stood fairly rooted to the spot. His first impulse was to dash in upon them, fling Arthur Hollis to the earth, and beat his very life out.
To settle dogmatically into this bosh-view would save labor, but it would go against too many intellectual prepossessions to be adopted save as a last resort of despair. Your psychical researcher therefore bates no jot of hope, and has faith that when we get our data numerous enough, some sort of rational treatment of them will succeed.
The afternoon before the Home-coming was to begin, there was to be a rehearsal of the Children’s Drill, that Mis’ Sykes had charge of for the opening night. We were all on the Market Square, working like beavers and like trojums, or whatever them other busy animals are, getting the booths set up. All the new things that the town had got and done in the last fifty years was represented, each in a booth, all round the Square.... And in the middle of the Square stood the great big Cedar-of-Lebanon tree that we’d used last Christmas for the first annual Friendship Village outdoors Christmas tree. I wondered how anybody could ever have said that it was in the way! It stood there, all still, and looking like it knew us far, far better than we knew it—the way a tree does. With the wind blowing through it gentle, it made a wonderful nice center-piece, I thought.