Three Quotations

(June 19th to 29th)



1. He worked downstream, crouching behind the reed and meadowsweet; creeping between a hornbeam hedge and a foot-wide strip of bank, where he could see the trout but where they could not distinguish him from the background; lying on his stomach to switch the blue-upright sideways through the checkered shadows of a gravelly ripple under over-arching trees. But he had known every inch of the water since he was four feet high…

This is from "The Brushwood Boy" in The Day's Work. George Cottar, a brilliant soldier, and the 'youngest major in the army', is back from India on leave, and relishing the haunts of his childhood. But he has a secret, a vivid recurring dream, full of familiar circumstantial details, in which he is riding by the sea past a pile of brushwood. He is soon to meet his love, a young woman who he had met as a small child, and who over the years had shared the same dream.


2. Here the road changed frankly into a carpeted ride on whose brown velvet spent primrose-clumps showed like jade, and a few sickly, white-stalked blue-bells nodded together…Still the track descended …As the light beat across my face my fore-wheels took the turf of a great still lawn from which sprang horsemen ten feet high with levelled lances … blue, black, and glistening - all of clipped yew … Across the lawn - the marshalled woods besieged it on three sides - stood an ancient house of lichened and weather-worn stone… This is from "They" in Traffics and Discoveries.
The narrator, wandering westwards below the Downs, has taken a wrong turning, and happened on a splendid secret old house. The garden is full of the sounds and glimpses of children playing. Only later does he find that 'They' are the ghosts of long dead children, including his much loved little daughter.


3. They entered the hall - just such a high light hall as such a house should own. A slim balustered staircase, wide and shallow and once creamy white, climbed out of it under a long oval window. On either side delicately moulded doors gave onto wool-lumbered rooms, whose sea-green mantlepieces were adorned with nymphs, scrolls, and Cupids in low relief… This is from "An Habitation Enforced" in Actions and Reactions. George Chapin, a wealthy young businessman from the United States, has had a breakdown through overwork, and he and his wife Sophie have taken refuge in Southern England, in the depths of the Sussex countryside. Wandering through a long-neglected estate, they chance on this fine old house. On a whim they buy it, set it to rights, set up house, and start a family. They soon find that they already had roots there; Sophie's forefathers had come from that very place.