Three Quotations

(February 3rd to 9th)




1. ... she turned her broad black bows to the westering light, and lifted us high upon hills that we might see and rejoice with her. She whooped into veiled hollows of elm and Sussex oak; she devoured infinite perspectives of park palings; she surged through forgotten hamlets, whose single streets gave back, reduplicated, the clatter of her exhaust, and, tireless, she repeated the motions...

This is from "Steam Tactics" in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator has been out in his steam car with Pyecroft and Hinchcliffe, together with an unwilling passenger in the shape of a plain clothes policeman, who had threatened to arrest them for speeding. The steam car has a breakdown, but they are rescued by a friend in a much superior machine, who speeds them deep into the countryside, where they plan to maroon their passenger.



2. Beyond that precise hamlet which stands godmother to the capital of the United States, I found hidden villages where bees, the only things awake, boomed in eighty-foot lindens that overhung grey Norman churches; miraculous brooks diving under stone bridges built for heavier traffic than would ever vex them again; tithe-barns larger than their churches, and an old smithy that cried out aloud how it had once been a hall of the Knights of the Temple.

This is from " 'They' " in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator has set out from home to explore the Sussex countryside. Later he happens on a beautiful old house, haunted by the ghosts of dead children, including his own ...



3. ... traction-engines, their trailers piled high with road metal; uniformed village nurses, one per seven statute miles, flitting by on their wheels; governess-carts full of pink children jogging unconcernedly past roaring, brazen touring-cars; the wayside rector with virgins in attendance, their faces screwed up against our dust; motor-bicycles of every shape charging down at every angle; red flags of rifle-ranges; detachments of dusty-putteed Territorials; coveys of flagrant children playing in mid-street, and the wise, educated English dog safe and quite silent on the pavement if his fool-mistress would but cease from trying to save him, passed and repassed us in sunlit or shaded settings.

This is from "The Vortex" in A Diversity of Creatures.

The narrator is out in the car, driving across Sussex, and delighting in the life of the road. Unfortunately one of his passengers insists on lecturing his companions about schemes for the future of the Empire, paying no attention to the panorama that is unfolding before his eyes. Later Nemesis strikes in the shape of a swarm of bees.