Jenny: Have Rooted Me In British Soil

By evening the moonstone paleness of the sky had turned to a spangled tiger's coat, blazing with red and orange glory in the west where the sun was going down, turning the surrounding hills to the crimson of full grapes. Their slopes, streaked with honey light and the darker stains as of spilt wine, rose up out from among the shadow-drenched valleys where the chill winds meandered, blustery and autumnal, smelling of apples and cool uplands; and in the coolness before the storm which was approaching on the eastern fringes of that tiger-sky, a chaffinch was bursting into song. Its thin, wine-yellow notes were tossed along on the wind, falling through the orchard with the yellow of the old leaves cast off and blown about, flung in golden banks against the old garden wall.

Down the southern hillsides wound the small home-herd of cattle, the lead bell clanking softly in the twilight. A small herd-dog ran among them, driving them on for the dark tumble of forest and the little village. As if in answer, calling the herd home, the bell in the cloister ran out: each note was clear, like beads of molten silver dropped singly into water. The chaffinch's breast swelled with song. Soon the maids would be on their stools in the long stone-and-turf byres milking the cows, singing and laughing, for life was good. Fish and hot-cakes would be sizzling on the warm hearth-stones, and the animal-fat lamps would the lit in the little mean houses, apple-leaf tongues of flame going up to light the worn and pleasant faces of the toiling folk as they sat down to their suppers.

In the pastoral valley over which the tiger-sky raced on, its purply clouds driven by the wind, over which the chaffinch spread its piebald wings, there was the self-satisfied pleasantry of solitude. One could not guess, save for the scorched earth of the northwest pasture, that the evening before had nearly seen the endless roll of tranquility, rolling as of waves upon a beach, snuffed out forever. The folk of both stations, both lords and laymen, settled back into the habitual pulse of the valley as valiantly and instinctively as, blown aside by a sudden gust of wind, a harebell will spring erect again when left to the gentleness of a breezeless summer day.

A dog barked in the garden, and the chaffinch took off from its apple-bough and darted with blurred black-and-white wings on the upward bluster of wind across the valley.

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