Drinkwater's verse. I saw history in a poet's song, In a river-reach and a gallows-hill, In a bridal bed, and a secret wrong, In a crown of thorns: in a daffodil. I imagined measureless time in a day, And starry space in a wagon-road, And the treasure of all good harvests lay In the single seed that the sower sowed.
The partridge coveys had whirred up noisily in full view of the passing woodsman, and craned their necks to watch him from the near-by branches. On every shallow mere and tranquil river-reach the flocks of wild ducks had fed boldly, suffering canoe or punt to come within easy gunshot.
Then beyond that began the serried array, line beyond line, broken in one spot by the gleam of a river-reach, and then on again fading beyond eyesight. But what surprised him was the density of the air; it was now, as old books related it had been in the days of smoke.
But he became the wisest, shyest, most watchful vole along the wooded river-reach, and in time his neighbours and offspring were so influenced by his example and training that a strangely furtive kindred, the wildest of the wild, living in secrecy their presence revealed to loitering anglers only by tell-tale footprints on the wet sand when the torrent dwindled after a flood seemed to have come to haunt the river bank between the cottage gardens and the swinging bridge above the pool where Brighteye dwelt.
One or two real Venetian gondolas are kept at that river-reach where we spent our summer. The owner of the principal one is an English nobleman who lived long in Italy and whose twelve daughters were born there.
The flags in the reed-bed were not so succulent as they had been in early summer; the branches that sometimes guided him as he swam from place to place seemed strangely bare and grey; the clump of may-weed that, growing near his burrow, had served as a beacon in the gloom, was faded to a few short brown tufts; and nightly in his wanderings he was startled by the withered leaves that, like fluttering birds, descended near him on the littered run-ways or on the glassy surface of the river-reach.
Then in the local vernacular: "What are your rights to the beating?" As a river-reach changes beneath a slant of the sun, that which had been a scattered mob changed to a court of most ancient justice. The hounds tore and sobbed at Abu Hussein's hearthstone, all unnoticed among the legs of the witnesses, and Gihon, also accustomed to laws, purred approval.