Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter.
The cattle-shed, called by rail-highwaymen "the Station," with its roof of iron Pan-pipes and red bull's-eyes stuck on stack-poles, whistles and stares where the grand trees stood and the village green lay sleeping.
"I slept in the hammock till nearly dawn," he said. "For I remember the light blinked in the east when I awoke. Then I went where did I go? oh, yes, to the meadow where the Pan-pipes sounded so close a week ago. You were with me, do you remember? But I always have a rug if it is wet." And he went whistling upstairs.
Then suddenly the muscles in Frank's neck became stiff and alert, and he half-raised his head, whispering, "The Pan-pipes, the Pan-pipes. Close, oh, so close." Very slowly, as if a sudden movement might interrupt the melody, he raised himself and leaned on the elbow of his bent arm.
If I now blow across the mouth of the jar you hear the same note, showing that a cavity of a particular length will only sound to the waves which fit it. do you see now the reason why pan-pipes give different sounds, or even the hole at the end of a common key when you blow across it?
Sweet zephyrs just stirred the woods with their breath, and brought whispering melody, delicious, incessant, from the swaying branches; it was like Pan-pipes heard in a desert place. And with it all there mingled a volume of human sound, a sound not of tumult, but rather of revels where some flute, and some praise the fluting, and some clap their hands commending flute or harp.
Unknowingly, for at that time I only pursued joy, I had begun, since I drew my joy from Nature, to get in touch with Nature. Nature, force, God, call it what you will, had drawn across my face a little gossamer web of essential life. I saw that when I emerged from my terror, and I went very humbly back to where I had heard the Pan-pipes. But it was nearly six months before I heard them again."
Besides their home games, on Saturdays the boys would wander all over the neighbourhood; sometimes to the downs, or up to the camp, where they cut their initials out in the springy turf, and watched the hawks soaring, and the "peert" bird, as Harry Winburn called the gray plover, gorgeous in his wedding feathers; and so home, racing down the Manger with many a roll among the thistles, or through Uffington Wood to watch the fox cubs playing in the green rides; sometimes to Rosy Brook, to cut long whispering reeds which grew there, to make pan-pipes of; sometimes to Moor Mills, where was a piece of old forest land, with short browsed turf and tufted brambly thickets stretching under the oaks, amongst which rumour declared that a raven, last of his race, still lingered; or to the sand-hills, in vain quest of rabbits; and bird-nesting in the season, anywhere and everywhere.
I wrote the date at the top, near the raggedy place where the leaf was torn out of Aunt Ailsa's sketch-book, and then I put, "We be Three Poore Mariners," like the song in "Pan-Pipes."
Bide here and tip a beaker till all the world goes round; Bide here and have for asking wine-pitchers, music, flowers, Green pergolas, fair gardens, cool coverts, leafy bowers. In our Arcadian grotto we have someone to play On Pan-pipes, shepherd fashion, sweet music all the day. We broached a cask but lately; our busy little stream Will gurgle softly near you the while you drink and dream.