In the slow process of time, as the human heart grows larger, such provision, I sincerely trust, will be made that no one need ever feel anxiety about mere subsistence. Then, too, let there be some imitation of this open-handed generosity and divine waste. Let the generations to come feast free of care, like my finches on the seeds of the mowing-grass, from which no voice drives them.
There seems always a depth, somewhere, unexplored, a thicket that has not been seen through, a corner full of ferns, a quaint old hollow tree, which may give us something. Bees go by me as I stand under the apple, but they pass on for the most part bound on a long journey, across to the clover fields or up to the thyme lands; only a few go down into the mowing-grass.
The hive bees are the most impatient of insects; they cannot bear to entangle their wings beating against grasses or boughs. Not one will enter a hedge. They like an open and level surface, places cropped by sheep, the sward by the roadside, fields of clover, where the flower is not deep under grass. It is the patient humble-bee that goes down into the forest of the mowing-grass.
Buttercups do not flourish under trees; in early summer, where elms or oaks stand in the mowing-grass, there is often a circle around almost bare of them and merely green, while the rest of the meadow glistens with the burnished gold of that beautiful flower. The oak is properly regarded as a slow-growing tree, but under certain circumstances a sapling will shoot up quickly to a wonderful height.
Purple vetches along the mounds, yellow lotus where the grass is shorter, and orchis succeeds to orchis. As I write them, so these things come not set in gradation, but like the broadcast flowers in the mowing-grass. Now follows the gorse, and the pink rest-harrow, and the sweet lady's bedstraw, set as it were in the midst of a little thorn-bush.
A hundred times the mowing-grass has grown up around it, the birds have built their nests, the butterflies fluttered by, and the acorns dropped from the oaks. It is a long, long time, counted by artificial hours or by the seasons, but it is longer still in another way. The greenfinch in the hawthorn yonder has been there since I came out, and all the time has been happily talking to his love.
There are at least two landrails in the mowing-grass; one of them just now seemed coming straight towards the apple tree, and I expected in a minute to see the grass move, when the bird turned aside and entered the tufts and wild parsley by the hedge. Thence the call has come without a moment's pause, "crake, crake," till the thick hedge seems filled with it.
Though the mowing-grass must conceal an approaching person from them as it conceals them from him, these birds change their positions, no matter how quietly he walks. Let him be as cunning as he will, and think to cut off corners and cross the land-rail's retreat, the bird baffles him nine times in ten.
After walking through the larger half of the marsh, Levin and Veslovsky reached the place where the peasants' mowing-grass was divided into long strips reaching to the reeds, marked off in one place by the trampled grass, in another by a path mown through it. Half of these strips had already been mown.
At this season the crows are always in the mowing-grass, searching about, stalking in winding tracks from furrow to furrow, picking up an egg here and a foolish fledgling that has wandered from the mound yonder. Very likely there may be a moorhen or two slipping about under cover of the long grass; thus hidden, they can leave the shelter of the flags and wander a distance from the brook.