(June 5th to 11th)

Format: Triple

The valley was so choked with fog that one could scarcely see a cow’s length across a field. Every blade, twig, bracken-frond, and hoof-print carried water, and the air was filled with the noise of rushing ditches and field-drains, all delivering to the brook below. A week’s November rain on water-logged land had gorged her to full flood, and she proclaimed it aloud.


Tris is the opening passage of “Friendly Brook” in A Diversity of Creatures.

Two hedgers, Jabez abd Jesse, recall a dark story of blackmail and death in deepest Sussex. The instrument of vengeance is the brook, dangerous in flood.

… they found the ghost of a patch of lucerne that had refused to die: there a harsh fallow surrendered to yard-high thistles; and here a breadth of rampant kelk feigning to be lawful crop. In the ungrazed pastures swaths of dead stuff caught their feet, and the ground beneath glistened with sweat. At the bottom of the valley a little brook had undermined its footbridge, and frothed in the wreckage. But there stood great woods on the slopes beyond—old, tall, and brilliant, like unfaded tapestries against the walls of a ruined house.


This is from “An Habitation Enforced” in Actions and Reactions. A young American couple, taking refuge from the pressures of business life in the States. are dicovering the Sussex countryside, where they are to find a new home that will transform their lives.

He spent the afternoon gun in one hand, a map in the other, beating the bounds of his lands. They lay altogether in a shallow, uninteresting valley, flanked with woods and bisected by a brook. Up stream was his own house; down stream, less than half a mile, a low red farm-house squatted in an old orchard, beside what looked like small lockgates on the Thames.


This is from “My Son’s Wife” in A Diversity of Creatur4es. Frankwell Midmore has been leading a comfortable Bohemian life in Hampstead, consorting with aesthetes and left-wing intellectuals. But he has inherited an estate in Sussex, and here he is exploring the new domain which will change his life.