Infomotions, Inc.News from Nowhere, or, an Epoch of Rest : being some chapters from a utopian romance / Morris, William, 1834-1896



Author: Morris, William, 1834-1896
Title: News from Nowhere, or, an Epoch of Rest : being some chapters from a utopian romance
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): dick; clara; nineteenth century
Contributor(s): Marriage, Ellen [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 79,817 words (short) Grade range: 12-15 (college) Readability score: 58 (average)
Identifier: etext3261
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Title: News from Nowhere

Author: William Morris

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This etext was produced from the 1908 Longmans, Green, and Co.
edition by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





NEWS FROM NOWHERE
or AN EPOCH OF REST
being some chapters from
A UTOPIAN ROMANCE

by William Morris




CHAPTER I:  DISCUSSION AND BED



Up at the League, says a friend, there had been one night a brisk
conversational discussion, as to what would happen on the Morrow of
the Revolution, finally shading off into a vigorous statement by
various friends of their views on the future of the fully-developed
new society.

Says our friend:  Considering the subject, the discussion was good-
tempered; for those present being used to public meetings and after-
lecture debates, if they did not listen to each others' opinions
(which could scarcely be expected of them), at all events did not
always attempt to speak all together, as is the custom of people in
ordinary polite society when conversing on a subject which interests
them.  For the rest, there were six persons present, and consequently
six sections of the party were represented, four of which had strong
but divergent Anarchist opinions.  One of the sections, says our
friend, a man whom he knows very well indeed, sat almost silent at
the beginning of the discussion, but at last got drawn into it, and
finished by roaring out very loud, and damning all the rest for
fools; after which befel a period of noise, and then a lull, during
which the aforesaid section, having said good-night very amicably,
took his way home by himself to a western suburb, using the means of
travelling which civilisation has forced upon us like a habit.  As he
sat in that vapour-bath of hurried and discontented humanity, a
carriage of the underground railway, he, like others, stewed
discontentedly, while in self-reproachful mood he turned over the
many excellent and conclusive arguments which, though they lay at his
fingers' ends, he had forgotten in the just past discussion.  But
this frame of mind he was so used to, that it didn't last him long,
and after a brief discomfort, caused by disgust with himself for
having lost his temper (which he was also well used to), he found
himself musing on the subject-matter of discussion, but still
discontentedly and unhappily.  "If I could but see a day of it," he
said to himself; "if I could but see it!"

As he formed the words, the train stopped at his station, five
minutes' walk from his own house, which stood on the banks of the
Thames, a little way above an ugly suspension bridge.  He went out of
the station, still discontented and unhappy, muttering "If I could
but see it! if I could but see it!" but had not gone many steps
towards the river before (says our friend who tells the story) all
that discontent and trouble seemed to slip off him.

It was a beautiful night of early winter, the air just sharp enough
to be refreshing after the hot room and the stinking railway
carriage.  The wind, which had lately turned a point or two north of
west, had blown the sky clear of all cloud save a light fleck or two
which went swiftly down the heavens.  There was a young moon halfway
up the sky, and as the home-farer caught sight of it, tangled in the
branches of a tall old elm, he could scarce bring to his mind the
shabby London suburb where he was, and he felt as if he were in a
pleasant country place--pleasanter, indeed, than the deep country was
as he had known it.

He came right down to the river-side, and lingered a little, looking
over the low wall to note the moonlit river, near upon high water, go
swirling and glittering up to Chiswick Eyot:  as for the ugly bridge
below, he did not notice it or think of it, except when for a moment
(says our friend) it struck him that he missed the row of lights down
stream.  Then he turned to his house door and let himself in; and
even as he shut the door to, disappeared all remembrance of that
brilliant logic and foresight which had so illuminated the recent
discussion; and of the discussion itself there remained no trace,
save a vague hope, that was now become a pleasure, for days of peace
and rest, and cleanness and smiling goodwill.

In this mood he tumbled into bed, and fell asleep after his wont, in
two minutes' time; but (contrary to his wont) woke up again not long
after in that curiously wide-awake condition which sometimes
surprises even good sleepers; a condition under which we feel all our
wits preternaturally sharpened, while all the miserable muddles we
have ever got into, all the disgraces and losses of our lives, will
insist on thrusting themselves forward for the consideration of those
sharpened wits.

In this state he lay (says our friend) till he had almost begun to
enjoy it:  till the tale of his stupidities amused him, and the
entanglements before him, which he saw so clearly, began to shape
themselves into an amusing story for him.

He heard one o'clock strike, then two and then three; after which he
fell asleep again.  Our friend says that from that sleep he awoke
once more, and afterwards went through such surprising adventures
that he thinks that they should be told to our comrades, and indeed
the public in general, and therefore proposes to tell them now.  But,
says he, I think it would be better if I told them in the first
person, as if it were myself who had gone through them; which,
indeed, will be the easier and more natural to me, since I understand
the feelings and desires of the comrade of whom I am telling better
than any one else in the world does.



CHAPTER II:  A MORNING BATH



Well, I awoke, and found that I had kicked my bedclothes off; and no
wonder, for it was hot and the sun shining brightly.  I jumped up and
washed and hurried on my clothes, but in a hazy and half-awake
condition, as if I had slept for a long, long while, and could not
shake off the weight of slumber.  In fact, I rather took it for
granted that I was at home in my own room than saw that it was so.

When I was dressed, I felt the place so hot that I made haste to get
out of the room and out of the house; and my first feeling was a
delicious relief caused by the fresh air and pleasant breeze; my
second, as I began to gather my wits together, mere measureless
wonder:  for it was winter when I went to bed the last night, and
now, by witness of the river-side trees, it was summer, a beautiful
bright morning seemingly of early June.  However, there was still the
Thames sparkling under the sun, and near high water, as last night I
had seen it gleaming under the moon.

I had by no means shaken off the feeling of oppression, and wherever
I might have been should scarce have been quite conscious of the
place; so it was no wonder that I felt rather puzzled in despite of
the familiar face of the Thames.  Withal I felt dizzy and queer; and
remembering that people often got a boat and had a swim in mid-
stream, I thought I would do no less.  It seems very early, quoth I
to myself, but I daresay I shall find someone at Biffin's to take me.
However, I didn't get as far as Biffin's, or even turn to my left
thitherward, because just then I began to see that there was a
landing-stage right before me in front of my house:  in fact, on the
place where my next-door neighbour had rigged one up, though somehow
it didn't look like that either.  Down I went on to it, and sure
enough among the empty boats moored to it lay a man on his sculls in
a solid-looking tub of a boat clearly meant for bathers.  He nodded
to me, and bade me good-morning as if he expected me, so I jumped in
without any words, and he paddled away quietly as I peeled for my
swim.  As we went, I looked down on the water, and couldn't help
saying -

"How clear the water is this morning!"

"Is it?" said he; "I didn't notice it.  You know the flood-tide
always thickens it a bit."

"H'm," said I, "I have seen it pretty muddy even at half-ebb."

He said nothing in answer, but seemed rather astonished; and as he
now lay just stemming the tide, and I had my clothes off, I jumped in
without more ado.  Of course when I had my head above water again I
turned towards the tide, and my eyes naturally sought for the bridge,
and so utterly astonished was I by what I saw, that I forgot to
strike out, and went spluttering under water again, and when I came
up made straight for the boat; for I felt that I must ask some
questions of my waterman, so bewildering had been the half-sight I
had seen from the face of the river with the water hardly out of my
eyes; though by this time I was quit of the slumbrous and dizzy
feeling, and was wide-awake and clear-headed.

As I got in up the steps which he had lowered, and he held out his
hand to help me, we went drifting speedily up towards Chiswick; but
now he caught up the sculls and brought her head round again, and
said--"A short swim, neighbour; but perhaps you find the water cold
this morning, after your journey.  Shall I put you ashore at once, or
would you like to go down to Putney before breakfast?"

He spoke in a way so unlike what I should have expected from a
Hammersmith waterman, that I stared at him, as I answered, "Please to
hold her a little; I want to look about me a bit."

"All right," he said; "it's no less pretty in its way here than it is
off Barn Elms; it's jolly everywhere this time in the morning.  I'm
glad you got up early; it's barely five o'clock yet."

If I was astonished with my sight of the river banks, I was no less
astonished at my waterman, now that I had time to look at him and see
him with my head and eyes clear.

He was a handsome young fellow, with a peculiarly pleasant and
friendly look about his eyes,--an expression which was quite new to
me then, though I soon became familiar with it.  For the rest, he was
dark-haired and berry-brown of skin, well-knit and strong, and
obviously used to exercising his muscles, but with nothing rough or
coarse about him, and clean as might be.  His dress was not like any
modern work-a-day clothes I had seen, but would have served very well
as a costume for a picture of fourteenth century life:  it was of
dark blue cloth, simple enough, but of fine web, and without a stain
on it.  He had a brown leather belt round his waist, and I noticed
that its clasp was of damascened steel beautifully wrought.  In
short, he seemed to be like some specially manly and refined young
gentleman, playing waterman for a spree, and I concluded that this
was the case.

I felt that I must make some conversation; so I pointed to the Surrey
bank, where I noticed some light plank stages running down the
foreshore, with windlasses at the landward end of them, and said,
"What are they doing with those things here?  If we were on the Tay,
I should have said that they were for drawing the salmon nets; but
here--"

"Well," said he, smiling, "of course that is what they ARE for.
Where there are salmon, there are likely to be salmon-nets, Tay or
Thames; but of course they are not always in use; we don't want
salmon EVERY day of the season."

I was going to say, "But is this the Thames?" but held my peace in my
wonder, and turned my bewildered eyes eastward to look at the bridge
again, and thence to the shores of the London river; and surely there
was enough to astonish me.  For though there was a bridge across the
stream and houses on its banks, how all was changed from last night!
The soap-works with their smoke-vomiting chimneys were gone; the
engineer's works gone; the lead-works gone; and no sound of rivetting
and hammering came down the west wind from Thorneycroft's.  Then the
bridge!  I had perhaps dreamed of such a bridge, but never seen such
an one out of an illuminated manuscript; for not even the Ponte
Vecchio at Florence came anywhere near it.  It was of stone arches,
splendidly solid, and as graceful as they were strong; high enough
also to let ordinary river traffic through easily.  Over the parapet
showed quaint and fanciful little buildings, which I supposed to be
booths or shops, beset with painted and gilded vanes and spirelets.
The stone was a little weathered, but showed no marks of the grimy
sootiness which I was used to on every London building more than a
year old.  In short, to me a wonder of a bridge.

The sculler noted my eager astonished look, and said, as if in answer
to my thoughts -

"Yes, it IS a pretty bridge, isn't it?  Even the up-stream bridges,
which are so much smaller, are scarcely daintier, and the down-stream
ones are scarcely more dignified and stately."

I found myself saying, almost against my will, "How old is it?"

"Oh, not very old," he said; "it was built or at least opened, in
2003.  There used to be a rather plain timber bridge before then."

The date shut my mouth as if a key had been turned in a padlock fixed
to my lips; for I saw that something inexplicable had happened, and
that if I said much, I should be mixed up in a game of cross
questions and crooked answers.  So I tried to look unconcerned, and
to glance in a matter-of-course way at the banks of the river, though
this is what I saw up to the bridge and a little beyond; say as far
as the site of the soap-works.  Both shores had a line of very pretty
houses, low and not large, standing back a little way from the river;
they were mostly built of red brick and roofed with tiles, and
looked, above all, comfortable, and as if they were, so to say,
alive, and sympathetic with the life of the dwellers in them.  There
was a continuous garden in front of them, going down to the water's
edge, in which the flowers were now blooming luxuriantly, and sending
delicious waves of summer scent over the eddying stream.  Behind the
houses, I could see great trees rising, mostly planes, and looking
down the water there were the reaches towards Putney almost as if
they were a lake with a forest shore, so thick were the big trees;
and I said aloud, but as if to myself -

"Well, I'm glad that they have not built over Barn Elms."

I blushed for my fatuity as the words slipped out of my mouth, and my
companion looked at me with a half smile which I thought I
understood; so to hide my confusion I said, "Please take me ashore
now:  I want to get my breakfast."

He nodded, and brought her head round with a sharp stroke, and in a
trice we were at the landing-stage again.  He jumped out and I
followed him; and of course I was not surprised to see him wait, as
if for the inevitable after-piece that follows the doing of a service
to a fellow-citizen.  So I put my hand into my waistcoat-pocket, and
said, "How much?" though still with the uncomfortable feeling that
perhaps I was offering money to a gentleman.

He looked puzzled, and said, "How much?  I don't quite understand
what you are asking about.  Do you mean the tide?  If so, it is close
on the turn now."

I blushed, and said, stammering, "Please don't take it amiss if I ask
you; I mean no offence:  but what ought I to pay you?  You see I am a
stranger, and don't know your customs--or your coins."

And therewith I took a handful of money out of my pocket, as one does
in a foreign country.  And by the way, I saw that the silver had
oxydised, and was like a blackleaded stove in colour.

He still seemed puzzled, but not at all offended; and he looked at
the coins with some curiosity.  I thought, Well after all, he IS a
waterman, and is considering what he may venture to take.  He seems
such a nice fellow that I'm sure I don't grudge him a little over-
payment.  I wonder, by the way, whether I couldn't hire him as a
guide for a day or two, since he is so intelligent.

Therewith my new friend said thoughtfully:

"I think I know what you mean.  You think that I have done you a
service; so you feel yourself bound to give me something which I am
not to give to a neighbour, unless he has done something special for
me.  I have heard of this kind of thing; but pardon me for saying,
that it seems to us a troublesome and roundabout custom; and we don't
know how to manage it.  And you see this ferrying and giving people
casts about the water is my BUSINESS, which I would do for anybody;
so to take gifts in connection with it would look very queer.
Besides, if one person gave me something, then another might, and
another, and so on; and I hope you won't think me rude if I say that
I shouldn't know where to stow away so many mementos of friendship."

And he laughed loud and merrily, as if the idea of being paid for his
work was a very funny joke.  I confess I began to be afraid that the
man was mad, though he looked sane enough; and I was rather glad to
think that I was a good swimmer, since we were so close to a deep
swift stream.  However, he went on by no means like a madman:

"As to your coins, they are curious, but not very old; they seem to
be all of the reign of Victoria; you might give them to some
scantily-furnished museum.  Ours has enough of such coins, besides a
fair number of earlier ones, many of which are beautiful, whereas
these nineteenth century ones are so beastly ugly, ain't they?  We
have a piece of Edward III., with the king in a ship, and little
leopards and fleurs-de-lys all along the gunwale, so delicately
worked.  You see," he said, with something of a smirk, "I am fond of
working in gold and fine metals; this buckle here is an early piece
of mine."

No doubt I looked a little shy of him under the influence of that
doubt as to his sanity.  So he broke off short, and said in a kind
voice:

"But I see that I am boring you, and I ask your pardon.  For, not to
mince matters, I can tell that you ARE a stranger, and must come from
a place very unlike England.  But also it is clear that it won't do
to overdose you with information about this place, and that you had
best suck it in little by little.  Further, I should take it as very
kind in you if you would allow me to be the showman of our new world
to you, since you have stumbled on me first.  Though indeed it will
be a mere kindness on your part, for almost anybody would make as
good a guide, and many much better."

There certainly seemed no flavour in him of Colney Hatch; and besides
I thought I could easily shake him off if it turned out that he
really was mad; so I said:

"It is a very kind offer, but it is difficult for me to accept it,
unless--"  I was going to say, Unless you will let me pay you
properly; but fearing to stir up Colney Hatch again, I changed the
sentence into, "I fear I shall be taking you away from your work--or
your amusement."

"O," he said, "don't trouble about that, because it will give me an
opportunity of doing a good turn to a friend of mine, who wants to
take my work here.  He is a weaver from Yorkshire, who has rather
overdone himself between his weaving and his mathematics, both indoor
work, you see; and being a great friend of mine, he naturally came to
me to get him some outdoor work.  If you think you can put up with
me, pray take me as your guide."

He added presently:  "It is true that I have promised to go up-stream
to some special friends of mine, for the hay-harvest; but they won't
be ready for us for more than a week:  and besides, you might go with
me, you know, and see some very nice people, besides making notes of
our ways in Oxfordshire.  You could hardly do better if you want to
see the country."

I felt myself obliged to thank him, whatever might come of it; and he
added eagerly:

"Well, then, that's settled.  I will give my friend call; he is
living in the Guest House like you, and if he isn't up yet, he ought
to be this fine summer morning."

Therewith he took a little silver bugle-horn from his girdle and blew
two or three sharp but agreeable notes on it; and presently from the
house which stood on the site of my old dwelling (of which more
hereafter) another young man came sauntering towards us.  He was not
so well-looking or so strongly made as my sculler friend, being
sandy-haired, rather pale, and not stout-built; but his face was not
wanting in that happy and friendly expression which I had noticed in
his friend.  As he came up smiling towards us, I saw with pleasure
that I must give up the Colney Hatch theory as to the waterman, for
no two madmen ever behaved as they did before a sane man.  His dress
also was of the same cut as the first man's, though somewhat gayer,
the surcoat being light green with a golden spray embroidered on the
breast, and his belt being of filagree silver-work.

He gave me good-day very civilly, and greeting his friend joyously,
said:

"Well, Dick, what is it this morning?  Am I to have my work, or
rather your work?  I dreamed last night that we were off up the river
fishing."

"All right, Bob," said my sculler; "you will drop into my place, and
if you find it too much, there is George Brightling on the look out
for a stroke of work, and he lives close handy to you.  But see, here
is a stranger who is willing to amuse me to-day by taking me as his
guide about our country-side, and you may imagine I don't want to
lose the opportunity; so you had better take to the boat at once.
But in any case I shouldn't have kept you out of it for long, since I
am due in the hay-fields in a few days."

The newcomer rubbed his hands with glee, but turning to me, said in a
friendly voice:

"Neighbour, both you and friend Dick are lucky, and will have a good
time to-day, as indeed I shall too.  But you had better both come in
with me at once and get something to eat, lest you should forget your
dinner in your amusement.  I suppose you came into the Guest House
after I had gone to bed last night?"

I nodded, not caring to enter into a long explanation which would
have led to nothing, and which in truth by this time I should have
begun to doubt myself.  And we all three turned toward the door of
the Guest House.



CHAPTER III:  THE GUEST HOUSE AND BREAKFAST THEREIN



I lingered a little behind the others to have a stare at this house,
which, as I have told you, stood on the site of my old dwelling.

It was a longish building with its gable ends turned away from the
road, and long traceried windows coming rather low down set in the
wall that faced us.  It was very handsomely built of red brick with a
lead roof; and high up above the windows there ran a frieze of figure
subjects in baked clay, very well executed, and designed with a force
and directness which I had never noticed in modern work before.  The
subjects I recognised at once, and indeed was very particularly
familiar with them.

However, all this I took in in a minute; for we were presently within
doors, and standing in a hall with a floor of marble mosaic and an
open timber roof.  There were no windows on the side opposite to the
river, but arches below leading into chambers, one of which showed a
glimpse of a garden beyond, and above them a long space of wall gaily
painted (in fresco, I thought) with similar subjects to those of the
frieze outside; everything about the place was handsome and
generously solid as to material; and though it was not very large
(somewhat smaller than Crosby Hall perhaps), one felt in it that
exhilarating sense of space and freedom which satisfactory
architecture always gives to an unanxious man who is in the habit of
using his eyes.

In this pleasant place, which of course I knew to be the hall of the
Guest House, three young women were flitting to and fro.  As they
were the first of the sex I had seen on this eventful morning, I
naturally looked at them very attentively, and found them at least as
good as the gardens, the architecture, and the male men.  As to their
dress, which of course I took note of, I should say that they were
decently veiled with drapery, and not bundled up with millinery; that
they were clothed like women, not upholstered like armchairs, as most
women of our time are.  In short, their dress was somewhat between
that of the ancient classical costume and the simpler forms of the
fourteenth century garments, though it was clearly not an imitation
of either:  the materials were light and gay to suit the season.  As
to the women themselves, it was pleasant indeed to see them, they
were so kind and happy-looking in expression of face, so shapely and
well-knit of body, and thoroughly healthy-looking and strong.  All
were at least comely, and one of them very handsome and regular of
feature.  They came up to us at once merrily and without the least
affectation of shyness, and all three shook hands with me as if I
were a friend newly come back from a long journey:  though I could
not help noticing that they looked askance at my garments; for I had
on my clothes of last night, and at the best was never a dressy
person.

A word or two from Robert the weaver, and they bustled about on our
behoof, and presently came and took us by the hands and led us to a
table in the pleasantest corner of the hall, where our breakfast was
spread for us; and, as we sat down, one of them hurried out by the
chambers aforesaid, and came back again in a little while with a
great bunch of roses, very different in size and quality to what
Hammersmith had been wont to grow, but very like the produce of an
old country garden.  She hurried back thence into the buttery, and
came back once more with a delicately made glass, into which she put
the flowers and set them down in the midst of our table.  One of the
others, who had run off also, then came back with a big cabbage-leaf
filled with strawberries, some of them barely ripe, and said as she
set them on the table, "There, now; I thought of that before I got up
this morning; but looking at the stranger here getting into your
boat, Dick, put it out of my head; so that I was not before ALL the
blackbirds:  however, there are a few about as good as you will get
them anywhere in Hammersmith this morning."

Robert patted her on the head in a friendly manner; and we fell to on
our breakfast, which was simple enough, but most delicately cooked,
and set on the table with much daintiness.  The bread was
particularly good, and was of several different kinds, from the big,
rather close, dark-coloured, sweet-tasting farmhouse loaf, which was
most to my liking, to the thin pipe-stems of wheaten crust, such as I
have eaten in Turin.

As I was putting the first mouthfuls into my mouth my eye caught a
carved and gilded inscription on the panelling, behind what we should
have called the High Table in an Oxford college hall, and a familiar
name in it forced me to read it through.  Thus it ran:


"Guests and neighbours, on the site of this Guest-hall once stood the
lecture-room of the Hammersmith Socialists.  Drink a glass to the
memory!  May 1962."


It is difficult to tell you how I felt as I read these words, and I
suppose my face showed how much I was moved, for both my friends
looked curiously at me, and there was silence between us for a little
while.

Presently the weaver, who was scarcely so well mannered a man as the
ferryman, said to me rather awkwardly:

"Guest, we don't know what to call you:  is there any indiscretion in
asking you your name?"

"Well," said I, "I have some doubts about it myself; so suppose you
call me Guest, which is a family name, you know, and add William to
it if you please."

Dick nodded kindly to me; but a shade of anxiousness passed over the
weaver's face, and he said--"I hope you don't mind my asking, but
would you tell me where you come from?  I am curious about such
things for good reasons, literary reasons."

Dick was clearly kicking him underneath the table; but he was not
much abashed, and awaited my answer somewhat eagerly.  As for me, I
was just going to blurt out "Hammersmith," when I bethought me what
an entanglement of cross purposes that would lead us into; so I took
time to invent a lie with circumstance, guarded by a little truth,
and said:

"You see, I have been such a long time away from Europe that things
seem strange to me now; but I was born and bred on the edge of Epping
Forest; Walthamstow and Woodford, to wit."

"A pretty place, too," broke in Dick; "a very jolly place, now that
the trees have had time to grow again since the great clearing of
houses in 1955."

Quoth the irrepressible weaver:  "Dear neighbour, since you knew the
Forest some time ago, could you tell me what truth there is in the
rumour that in the nineteenth century the trees were all pollards?"

This was catching me on my archaeological natural-history side, and I
fell into the trap without any thought of where and when I was; so I
began on it, while one of the girls, the handsome one, who had been
scattering little twigs of lavender and other sweet-smelling herbs
about the floor, came near to listen, and stood behind me with her
hand on my shoulder, in which she held some of the plant that I used
to call balm:  its strong sweet smell brought back to my mind my very
early days in the kitchen-garden at Woodford, and the large blue
plums which grew on the wall beyond the sweet-herb patch,--a
connection of memories which all boys will see at once.

I started off:  "When I was a boy, and for long after, except for a
piece about Queen Elizabeth's Lodge, and for the part about High
Beech, the Forest was almost wholly made up of pollard hornbeams
mixed with holly thickets.  But when the Corporation of London took
it over about twenty-five years ago, the topping and lopping, which
was a part of the old commoners' rights, came to an end, and the
trees were let to grow.  But I have not seen the place now for many
years, except once, when we Leaguers went a pleasuring to High Beech.
I was very much shocked then to see how it was built-over and
altered; and the other day we heard that the philistines were going
to landscape-garden it.  But what you were saying about the building
being stopped and the trees growing is only too good news;--only you
know--"

At that point I suddenly remembered Dick's date, and stopped short
rather confused.  The eager weaver didn't notice my confusion, but
said hastily, as if he were almost aware of his breach of good
manners, "But, I say, how old are you?"

Dick and the pretty girl both burst out laughing, as if Robert's
conduct were excusable on the grounds of eccentricity; and Dick said
amidst his laughter:

"Hold hard, Bob; this questioning of guests won't do.  Why, much
learning is spoiling you.  You remind me of the radical cobblers in
the silly old novels, who, according to the authors, were prepared to
trample down all good manners in the pursuit of utilitarian
knowledge.  The fact is, I begin to think that you have so muddled
your head with mathematics, and with grubbing into those idiotic old
books about political economy (he he!), that you scarcely know how to
behave.  Really, it is about time for you to take to some open-air
work, so that you may clear away the cobwebs from your brain."

The weaver only laughed good-humouredly; and the girl went up to him
and patted his cheek and said laughingly, "Poor fellow! he was born
so."

As for me, I was a little puzzled, but I laughed also, partly for
company's sake, and partly with pleasure at their unanxious happiness
and good temper; and before Robert could make the excuse to me which
he was getting ready, I said:

"But neighbours" (I had caught up that word), "I don't in the least
mind answering questions, when I can do so:  ask me as many as you
please; it's fun for me.  I will tell you all about Epping Forest
when I was a boy, if you please; and as to my age, I'm not a fine
lady, you know, so why shouldn't I tell you?  I'm hard on fifty-six."

In spite of the recent lecture on good manners, the weaver could not
help giving a long "whew" of astonishment, and the others were so
amused by his naivete that the merriment flitted all over their
faces, though for courtesy's sake they forbore actual laughter; while
I looked from one to the other in a puzzled manner, and at last said:

"Tell me, please, what is amiss:  you know I want to learn from you.
And please laugh; only tell me."

Well, they DID laugh, and I joined them again, for the above-stated
reasons.  But at last the pretty woman said coaxingly -

"Well, well, he IS rude, poor fellow! but you see I may as well tell
you what he is thinking about:  he means that you look rather old for
your age.  But surely there need be no wonder in that, since you have
been travelling; and clearly from all you have been saying, in
unsocial countries.  It has often been said, and no doubt truly, that
one ages very quickly if one lives amongst unhappy people.  Also they
say that southern England is a good place for keeping good looks."
She blushed and said:  "How old am I, do you think?"

"Well," quoth I, "I have always been told that a woman is as old as
she looks, so without offence or flattery, I should say that you were
twenty."

She laughed merrily, and said, "I am well served out for fishing for
compliments, since I have to tell you the truth, to wit, that I am
forty-two."

I stared at her, and drew musical laughter from her again; but I
might well stare, for there was not a careful line on her face; her
skin was as smooth as ivory, her cheeks full and round, her lips as
red as the roses she had brought in; her beautiful arms, which she
had bared for her work, firm and well-knit from shoulder to wrist.
She blushed a little under my gaze, though it was clear that she had
taken me for a man of eighty; so to pass it off I said -

"Well, you see, the old saw is proved right again, and I ought not to
have let you tempt me into asking you a rude question."

She laughed again, and said:  "Well, lads, old and young, I must get
to my work now.  We shall be rather busy here presently; and I want
to clear it off soon, for I began to read a pretty old book
yesterday, and I want to get on with it this morning:  so good-bye
for the present."

She waved a hand to us, and stepped lightly down the hall, taking (as
Scott says) at least part of the sun from our table as she went.

When she was gone, Dick said "Now guest, won't you ask a question or
two of our friend here?  It is only fair that you should have your
turn."

"I shall be very glad to answer them," said the weaver.

"If I ask you any questions, sir," said I, "they will not be very
severe; but since I hear that you are a weaver, I should like to ask
you something about that craft, as I am--or was--interested in it."

"Oh," said he, "I shall not be of much use to you there, I'm afraid.
I only do the most mechanical kind of weaving, and am in fact but a
poor craftsman, unlike Dick here.  Then besides the weaving, I do a
little with machine printing and composing, though I am little use at
the finer kinds of printing; and moreover machine printing is
beginning to die out, along with the waning of the plague of book-
making, so I have had to turn to other things that I have a taste
for, and have taken to mathematics; and also I am writing a sort of
antiquarian book about the peaceable and private history, so to say,
of the end of the nineteenth century,--more for the sake of giving a
picture of the country before the fighting began than for anything
else.  That was why I asked you those questions about Epping Forest.
You have rather puzzled me, I confess, though your information was so
interesting.  But later on, I hope, we may have some more talk
together, when our friend Dick isn't here.  I know he thinks me
rather a grinder, and despises me for not being very deft with my
hands:  that's the way nowadays.  From what I have read of the
nineteenth century literature (and I have read a good deal), it is
clear to me that this is a kind of revenge for the stupidity of that
day, which despised everybody who COULD use his hands.  But Dick, old
fellow, Ne quid nimis!  Don't overdo it!"

"Come now," said Dick, "am I likely to?  Am I not the most tolerant
man in the world?  Am I not quite contented so long as you don't make
me learn mathematics, or go into your new science of aesthetics, and
let me do a little practical aesthetics with my gold and steel, and
the blowpipe and the nice little hammer?  But, hillo! here comes
another questioner for you, my poor guest.  I say, Bob, you must help
me to defend him now."

"Here, Boffin," he cried out, after a pause; "here we are, if you
must have it!"

I looked over my shoulder, and saw something flash and gleam in the
sunlight that lay across the hall; so I turned round, and at my ease
saw a splendid figure slowly sauntering over the pavement; a man
whose surcoat was embroidered most copiously as well as elegantly, so
that the sun flashed back from him as if he had been clad in golden
armour.  The man himself was tall, dark-haired, and exceedingly
handsome, and though his face was no less kindly in expression than
that of the others, he moved with that somewhat haughty mien which
great beauty is apt to give to both men and women.  He came and sat
down at our table with a smiling face, stretching out his long legs
and hanging his arm over the chair in the slowly graceful way which
tall and well-built people may use without affectation.  He was a man
in the prime of life, but looked as happy as a child who has just got
a new toy.  He bowed gracefully to me and said -

"I see clearly that you are the guest, of whom Annie has just told
me, who have come from some distant country that does not know of us,
or our ways of life.  So I daresay you would not mind answering me a
few questions; for you see--"

Here Dick broke in:  "No, please, Boffin! let it alone for the
present.  Of course you want the guest to be happy and comfortable;
and how can that be if he has to trouble himself with answering all
sorts of questions while he is still confused with the new customs
and people about him?  No, no:  I am going to take him where he can
ask questions himself, and have them answered; that is, to my great-
grandfather in Bloomsbury:  and I am sure you can't have anything to
say against that.  So instead of bothering, you had much better go
out to James Allen's and get a carriage for me, as I shall drive him
up myself; and please tell Jim to let me have the old grey, for I can
drive a wherry much better than a carriage.  Jump up, old fellow, and
don't be disappointed; our guest will keep himself for you and your
stories."

I stared at Dick; for I wondered at his speaking to such a dignified-
looking personage so familiarly, not to say curtly; for I thought
that this Mr. Boffin, in spite of his well-known name out of Dickens,
must be at the least a senator of these strange people.  However, he
got up and said, "All right, old oar-wearer, whatever you like; this
is not one of my busy days; and though" (with a condescending bow to
me) "my pleasure of a talk with this learned guest is put off, I
admit that he ought to see your worthy kinsman as soon as possible.
Besides, perhaps he will be the better able to answer MY questions
after his own have been answered."

And therewith he turned and swung himself out of the hall.

When he was well gone, I said:  "Is it wrong to ask what Mr. Boffin
is? whose name, by the way, reminds me of many pleasant hours passed
in reading Dickens."

Dick laughed.  "Yes, yes," said he, "as it does us.  I see you take
the allusion.  Of course his real name is not Boffin, but Henry
Johnson; we only call him Boffin as a joke, partly because he is a
dustman, and partly because he will dress so showily, and get as much
gold on him as a baron of the Middle Ages.  As why should he not if
he likes? only we are his special friends, you know, so of course we
jest with him."

I held my tongue for some time after that; but Dick went on:

"He is a capital fellow, and you can't help liking him; but he has a
weakness:  he will spend his time in writing reactionary novels, and
is very proud of getting the local colour right, as he calls it; and
as he thinks you come from some forgotten corner of the earth, where
people are unhappy, and consequently interesting to a story-teller,
he thinks he might get some information out of you.  O, he will be
quite straightforward with you, for that matter.  Only for your own
comfort beware of him!"

"Well, Dick," said the weaver, doggedly, "I think his novels are very
good."

"Of course you do," said Dick; "birds of a feather flock together;
mathematics and antiquarian novels stand on much the same footing.
But here he comes again."

And in effect the Golden Dustman hailed us from the hall-door; so we
all got up and went into the porch, before which, with a strong grey
horse in the shafts, stood a carriage ready for us which I could not
help noticing.  It was light and handy, but had none of that
sickening vulgarity which I had known as inseparable from the
carriages of our time, especially the "elegant" ones, but was as
graceful and pleasant in line as a Wessex waggon.  We got in, Dick
and I.  The girls, who had come into the porch to see us off, waved
their hands to us; the weaver nodded kindly; the dustman bowed as
gracefully as a troubadour; Dick shook the reins, and we were off.



CHAPTER IV:  A MARKET BY THE WAY



We turned away from the river at once, and were soon in the main road
that runs through Hammersmith.  But I should have had no guess as to
where I was, if I had not started from the waterside; for King Street
was gone, and the highway ran through wide sunny meadows and garden-
like tillage.  The Creek, which we crossed at once, had been rescued
from its culvert, and as we went over its pretty bridge we saw its
waters, yet swollen by the tide, covered with gay boats of different
sizes.  There were houses about, some on the road, some amongst the
fields with pleasant lanes leading down to them, and each surrounded
by a teeming garden.  They were all pretty in design, and as solid as
might be, but countryfied in appearance, like yeomen's dwellings;
some of them of red brick like those by the river, but more of timber
and plaster, which were by the necessity of their construction so
like mediaeval houses of the same materials that I fairly felt as if
I were alive in the fourteenth century; a sensation helped out by the
costume of the people that we met or passed, in whose dress there was
nothing "modern."  Almost everybody was gaily dressed, but especially
the women, who were so well-looking, or even so handsome, that I
could scarcely refrain my tongue from calling my companion's
attention to the fact.  Some faces I saw that were thoughtful, and in
these I noticed great nobility of expression, but none that had a
glimmer of unhappiness, and the greater part (we came upon a good
many people) were frankly and openly joyous.

I thought I knew the Broadway by the lie of the roads that still met
there.  On the north side of the road was a range of buildings and
courts, low, but very handsomely built and ornamented, and in that
way forming a great contrast to the unpretentiousness of the houses
round about; while above this lower building rose the steep lead-
covered roof and the buttresses and higher part of the wall of a
great hall, of a splendid and exuberant style of architecture, of
which one can say little more than that it seemed to me to embrace
the best qualities of the Gothic of northern Europe with those of the
Saracenic and Byzantine, though there was no copying of any one of
these styles.  On the other, the south side, of the road was an
octagonal building with a high roof, not unlike the Baptistry at
Florence in outline, except that it was surrounded by a lean-to that
clearly made an arcade or cloisters to it:  it also was most
delicately ornamented.

This whole mass of architecture which we had come upon so suddenly
from amidst the pleasant fields was not only exquisitely beautiful in
itself, but it bore upon it the expression of such generosity and
abundance of life that I was exhilarated to a pitch that I had never
yet reached.  I fairly chuckled for pleasure.  My friend seemed to
understand it, and sat looking on me with a pleased and affectionate
interest.  We had pulled up amongst a crowd of carts, wherein sat
handsome healthy-looking people, men, women, and children very gaily
dressed, and which were clearly market carts, as they were full of
very tempting-looking country produce.

I said, "I need not ask if this is a market, for I see clearly that
it is; but what market is it that it is so splendid?  And what is the
glorious hall there, and what is the building on the south side?"

"O," said he, "it is just our Hammersmith market; and I am glad you
like it so much, for we are really proud of it.  Of course the hall
inside is our winter Mote-House; for in summer we mostly meet in the
fields down by the river opposite Barn Elms.  The building on our
right hand is our theatre:  I hope you like it."

"I should be a fool if I didn't," said I.

He blushed a little as he said:  "I am glad of that, too, because I
had a hand in it; I made the great doors, which are of damascened
bronze.  We will look at them later in the day, perhaps:  but we
ought to be getting on now.  As to the market, this is not one of our
busy days; so we shall do better with it another time, because you
will see more people."

I thanked him, and said:  "Are these the regular country people?
What very pretty girls there are amongst them."

As I spoke, my eye caught the face of a beautiful woman, tall, dark-
haired, and white-skinned, dressed in a pretty light-green dress in
honour of the season and the hot day, who smiled kindly on me, and
more kindly still, I thought on Dick; so I stopped a minute, but
presently went on:

"I ask because I do not see any of the country-looking people I
should have expected to see at a market--I mean selling things
there."

"I don't understand," said he, "what kind of people you would expect
to see; nor quite what you mean by 'country' people.  These are the
neighbours, and that like they run in the Thames valley.  There are
parts of these islands which are rougher and rainier than we are
here, and there people are rougher in their dress; and they
themselves are tougher and more hard-bitten than we are to look at.
But some people like their looks better than ours; they say they have
more character in them--that's the word.  Well, it's a matter of
taste.--Anyhow, the cross between us and them generally turns out
well," added he, thoughtfully.

I heard him, though my eyes were turned away from him, for that
pretty girl was just disappearing through the gate with her big
basket of early peas, and I felt that disappointed kind of feeling
which overtakes one when one has seen an interesting or lovely face
in the streets which one is never likely to see again; and I was
silent a little.  At last I said:  "What I mean is, that I haven't
seen any poor people about--not one."

He knit his brows, looked puzzled, and said:  "No, naturally; if
anybody is poorly, he is likely to be within doors, or at best
crawling about the garden:  but I don't know of any one sick at
present.  Why should you expect to see poorly people on the road?"

"No, no," I said; "I don't mean sick people.  I mean poor people, you
know; rough people."

"No," said he, smiling merrily, "I really do not know.  The fact is,
you must come along quick to my great-grandfather, who will
understand you better than I do.  Come on, Greylocks!"  Therewith he
shook the reins, and we jogged along merrily eastward.



CHAPTER V:  CHILDREN ON THE ROAD



Past the Broadway there were fewer houses on either side.  We
presently crossed a pretty little brook that ran across a piece of
land dotted over with trees, and awhile after came to another market
and town-hall, as we should call it.  Although there was nothing
familiar to me in its surroundings, I knew pretty well where we were,
and was not surprised when my guide said briefly, "Kensington
Market."

Just after this we came into a short street of houses:  or rather,
one long house on either side of the way, built of timber and
plaster, and with a pretty arcade over the footway before it.

Quoth Dick:  "This is Kensington proper.  People are apt to gather
here rather thick, for they like the romance of the wood; and
naturalists haunt it, too; for it is a wild spot even here, what
there is of it; for it does not go far to the south:  it goes from
here northward and west right over Paddington and a little way down
Notting Hill:  thence it runs north-east to Primrose Hill, and so on;
rather a narrow strip of it gets through Kingsland to Stoke-Newington
and Clapton, where it spreads out along the heights above the Lea
marshes; on the other side of which, as you know, is Epping Forest
holding out a hand to it.  This part we are just coming to is called
Kensington Gardens; though why 'gardens' I don't know."

I rather longed to say, "Well, _I_ know"; but there were so many
things about me which I did NOT know, in spite of his assumptions,
that I thought it better to hold my tongue.

The road plunged at once into a beautiful wood spreading out on
either side, but obviously much further on the north side, where even
the oaks and sweet chestnuts were of a good growth; while the
quicker-growing trees (amongst which I thought the planes and
sycamores too numerous) were very big and fine-grown.

It was exceedingly pleasant in the dappled shadow, for the day was
growing as hot as need be, and the coolness and shade soothed my
excited mind into a condition of dreamy pleasure, so that I felt as
if I should like to go on for ever through that balmy freshness.  My
companion seemed to share in my feelings, and let the horse go slower
and slower as he sat inhaling the green forest scents, chief amongst
which was the smell of the trodden bracken near the wayside.

Romantic as this Kensington wood was, however, it was not lonely.  We
came on many groups both coming and going, or wandering in the edges
of the wood.  Amongst these were many children from six or eight
years old up to sixteen or seventeen.  They seemed to me to be
especially fine specimens of their race, and enjoying themselves to
the utmost; some of them were hanging about little tents pitched on
the greensward, and by some of these fires were burning, with pots
hanging over them gipsy fashion.  Dick explained to me that there
were scattered houses in the forest, and indeed we caught a glimpse
of one or two.  He said they were mostly quite small, such as used to
be called cottages when there were slaves in the land, but they were
pleasant enough and fitting for the wood.

"They must be pretty well stocked with children," said I, pointing to
the many youngsters about the way.

"O," said he, "these children do not all come from the near houses,
the woodland houses, but from the country-side generally.  They often
make up parties, and come to play in the woods for weeks together in
summer-time, living in tents, as you see.  We rather encourage them
to it; they learn to do things for themselves, and get to notice the
wild creatures; and, you see, the less they stew inside houses the
better for them.  Indeed, I must tell you that many grown people will
go to live in the forests through the summer; though they for the
most part go to the bigger ones, like Windsor, or the Forest of Dean,
or the northern wastes.  Apart from the other pleasures of it, it
gives them a little rough work, which I am sorry to say is getting
somewhat scarce for these last fifty years."

He broke off, and then said, "I tell you all this, because I see that
if I talk I must be answering questions, which you are thinking, even
if you are not speaking them out; but my kinsman will tell you more
about it."

I saw that I was likely to get out of my depth again, and so merely
for the sake of tiding over an awkwardness and to say something, I
said -

"Well, the youngsters here will be all the fresher for school when
the summer gets over and they have to go back again."

"School?" he said; "yes, what do you mean by that word?  I don't see
how it can have anything to do with children.  We talk, indeed, of a
school of herring, and a school of painting, and in the former sense
we might talk of a school of children--but otherwise," said he,
laughing, "I must own myself beaten."

Hang it! thought I, I can't open my mouth without digging up some new
complexity.  I wouldn't try to set my friend right in his etymology;
and I thought I had best say nothing about the boy-farms which I had
been used to call schools, as I saw pretty clearly that they had
disappeared; so I said after a little fumbling, "I was using the word
in the sense of a system of education."

"Education?" said he, meditatively, "I know enough Latin to know that
the word must come from educere, to lead out; and I have heard it
used; but I have never met anybody who could give me a clear
explanation of what it means."

You may imagine how my new friends fell in my esteem when I heard
this frank avowal; and I said, rather contemptuously, "Well,
education means a system of teaching young people."

"Why not old people also?" said he with a twinkle in his eye.  "But,"
he went on, "I can assure you our children learn, whether they go
through a 'system of teaching' or not.  Why, you will not find one of
these children about here, boy or girl, who cannot swim; and every
one of them has been used to tumbling about the little forest ponies-
-there's one of them now!  They all of them know how to cook; the
bigger lads can mow; many can thatch and do odd jobs at carpentering;
or they know how to keep shop.  I can tell you they know plenty of
things."

"Yes, but their mental education, the teaching of their minds," said
I, kindly translating my phrase.

"Guest," said he, "perhaps you have not learned to do these things I
have been speaking about; and if that's the case, don't you run away
with the idea that it doesn't take some skill to do them, and doesn't
give plenty of work for one's mind:  you would change your opinion if
you saw a Dorsetshire lad thatching, for instance.  But, however, I
understand you to be speaking of book-learning; and as to that, it is
a simple affair.  Most children, seeing books lying about, manage to
read by the time they are four years old; though I am told it has not
always been so.  As to writing, we do not encourage them to scrawl
too early (though scrawl a little they will), because it gets them
into a habit of ugly writing; and what's the use of a lot of ugly
writing being done, when rough printing can be done so easily.  You
understand that handsome writing we like, and many people will write
their books out when they make them, or get them written; I mean
books of which only a few copies are needed--poems, and such like,
you know.  However, I am wandering from my lambs; but you must excuse
me, for I am interested in this matter of writing, being myself a
fair-writer."

"Well," said I, "about the children; when they know how to read and
write, don't they learn something else--languages, for instance?"

"Of course," he said; "sometimes even before they can read, they can
talk French, which is the nearest language talked on the other side
of the water; and they soon get to know German also, which is talked
by a huge number of communes and colleges on the mainland.  These are
the principal languages we speak in these islands, along with English
or Welsh, or Irish, which is another form of Welsh; and children pick
them up very quickly, because their elders all know them; and besides
our guests from over sea often bring their children with them, and
the little ones get together, and rub their speech into one another."

"And the older languages?" said I.

"O, yes," said he, "they mostly learn Latin and Greek along with the
modern ones, when they do anything more than merely pick up the
latter."

"And history?" said I; "how do you teach history?"

"Well," said he, "when a person can read, of course he reads what he
likes to; and he can easily get someone to tell him what are the best
books to read on such or such a subject, or to explain what he
doesn't understand in the books when he is reading them."

"Well," said I, "what else do they learn?  I suppose they don't all
learn history?"

"No, no," said he; "some don't care about it; in fact, I don't think
many do.  I have heard my great-grandfather say that it is mostly in
periods of turmoil and strife and confusion that people care much
about history; and you know," said my friend, with an amiable smile,
"we are not like that now.  No; many people study facts about the
make of things and the matters of cause and effect, so that knowledge
increases on us, if that be good; and some, as you heard about friend
Bob yonder, will spend time over mathematics.  'Tis no use forcing
people's tastes."

Said I:  "But you don't mean that children learn all these things?"

Said he:  "That depends on what you mean by children; and also you
must remember how much they differ.  As a rule, they don't do much
reading, except for a few story-books, till they are about fifteen
years old; we don't encourage early bookishness:  though you will
find some children who WILL take to books very early; which perhaps
is not good for them; but it's no use thwarting them; and very often
it doesn't last long with them, and they find their level before they
are twenty years old.  You see, children are mostly given to
imitating their elders, and when they see most people about them
engaged in genuinely amusing work, like house-building and street-
paving, and gardening, and the like, that is what they want to be
doing; so I don't think we need fear having too many book-learned
men."

What could I say?  I sat and held my peace, for fear of fresh
entanglements.  Besides, I was using my eyes with all my might,
wondering as the old horse jogged on, when I should come into London
proper, and what it would be like now.

But my companion couldn't let his subject quite drop, and went on
meditatively:

"After all, I don't know that it does them much harm, even if they do
grow up book-students.  Such people as that, 'tis a great pleasure
seeing them so happy over work which is not much sought for.  And
besides, these students are generally such pleasant people; so kind
and sweet tempered; so humble, and at the same time so anxious to
teach everybody all that they know.  Really, I like those that I have
met prodigiously."

This seemed to me such very queer talk that I was on the point of
asking him another question; when just as we came to the top of a
rising ground, down a long glade of the wood on my right I caught
sight of a stately building whose outline was familiar to me, and I
cried out, "Westminster Abbey!"

"Yes," said Dick, "Westminster Abbey--what there is left of it."

"Why, what have you done with it?" quoth I in terror.

"What have WE done with it?" said he; "nothing much, save clean it.
But you know the whole outside was spoiled centuries ago:  as to the
inside, that remains in its beauty after the great clearance, which
took place over a hundred years ago, of the beastly monuments to
fools and knaves, which once blocked it up, as great-grandfather
says."

We went on a little further, and I looked to the right again, and
said, in rather a doubtful tone of voice, "Why, there are the Houses
of Parliament!  Do you still use them?"

He burst out laughing, and was some time before he could control
himself; then he clapped me on the back and said:

"I take you, neighbour; you may well wonder at our keeping them
standing, and I know something about that, and my old kinsman has
given me books to read about the strange game that they played there.
Use them!  Well, yes, they are used for a sort of subsidiary market,
and a storage place for manure, and they are handy for that, being on
the waterside.  I believe it was intended to pull them down quite at
the beginning of our days; but there was, I am told, a queer
antiquarian society, which had done some service in past times, and
which straightway set up its pipe against their destruction, as it
has done with many other buildings, which most people looked upon as
worthless, and public nuisances; and it was so energetic, and had
such good reasons to give, that it generally gained its point; and I
must say that when all is said I am glad of it:  because you know at
the worst these silly old buildings serve as a kind of foil to the
beautiful ones which we build now.  You will see several others in
these parts; the place my great-grandfather lives in, for instance,
and a big building called St. Paul's.  And you see, in this matter we
need not grudge a few poorish buildings standing, because we can
always build elsewhere; nor need we be anxious as to the breeding of
pleasant work in such matters, for there is always room for more and
more work in a new building, even without making it pretentious.  For
instance, elbow-room WITHIN doors is to me so delightful that if I
were driven to it I would most sacrifice outdoor space to it.  Then,
of course, there is the ornament, which, as we must all allow, may
easily be overdone in mere living houses, but can hardly be in mote-
halls and markets, and so forth.  I must tell you, though, that my
great-grandfather sometimes tells me I am a little cracked on this
subject of fine building; and indeed I DO think that the energies of
mankind are chiefly of use to them for such work; for in that
direction I can see no end to the work, while in many others a limit
does seem possible."



CHAPTER VI:  A LITTLE SHOPPING



As he spoke, we came suddenly out of the woodland into a short street
of handsomely built houses, which my companion named to me at once as
Piccadilly:  the lower part of these I should have called shops, if
it had not been that, as far as I could see, the people were ignorant
of the arts of buying and selling.  Wares were displayed in their
finely designed fronts, as if to tempt people in, and people stood
and looked at them, or went in and came out with parcels under their
arms, just like the real thing.  On each side of the street ran an
elegant arcade to protect foot-passengers, as in some of the old
Italian cities.  About halfway down, a huge building of the kind I
was now prepared to expect told me that this also was a centre of
some kind, and had its special public buildings.

Said Dick:  "Here, you see, is another market on a different plan
from most others:  the upper stories of these houses are used for
guest-houses; for people from all about the country are apt to drift
up hither from time to time, as folk are very thick upon the ground,
which you will see evidence of presently, and there are people who
are fond of crowds, though I can't say that I am."

I couldn't help smiling to see how long a tradition would last.  Here
was the ghost of London still asserting itself as a centre,--an
intellectual centre, for aught I knew.  However, I said nothing,
except that I asked him to drive very slowly, as the things in the
booths looked exceedingly pretty.

"Yes," said he, "this is a very good market for pretty things, and is
mostly kept for the handsomer goods, as the Houses-of-Parliament
market, where they set out cabbages and turnips and such like things,
along with beer and the rougher kind of wine, is so near."

Then he looked at me curiously, and said, "Perhaps you would like to
do a little shopping, as 'tis called."

I looked at what I could see of my rough blue duds, which I had
plenty of opportunity of contrasting with the gay attire of the
citizens we had come across; and I thought that if, as seemed likely,
I should presently be shown about as a curiosity for the amusement of
this most unbusinesslike people, I should like to look a little less
like a discharged ship's purser.  But in spite of all that had
happened, my hand went down into my pocket again, where to my dismay
it met nothing metallic except two rusty old keys, and I remembered
that amidst our talk in the guest-hall at Hammersmith I had taken the
cash out of my pocket to show to the pretty Annie, and had left it
lying there.  My face fell fifty per cent., and Dick, beholding me,
said rather sharply -

"Hilloa, Guest! what's the matter now?  Is it a wasp?"

"No," said I, "but I've left it behind."

"Well," said he, "whatever you have left behind, you can get in this
market again, so don't trouble yourself about it."

I had come to my senses by this time, and remembering the astounding
customs of this country, had no mind for another lecture on social
economy and the Edwardian coinage; so I said only -

"My clothes--Couldn't I?  You see--What do think could be done about
them?"

He didn't seem in the least inclined to laugh, but said quite
gravely:

"O don't get new clothes yet.  You see, my great-grandfather is an
antiquarian, and he will want to see you just as you are.  And, you
know, I mustn't preach to you, but surely it wouldn't be right for
you to take away people's pleasure of studying your attire, by just
going and making yourself like everybody else.  You feel that, don't
you?" said he, earnestly.

I did NOT feel it my duty to set myself up for a scarecrow amidst
this beauty-loving people, but I saw I had got across some
ineradicable prejudice, and that it wouldn't do to quarrel with my
new friend.  So I merely said, "O certainly, certainly."

"Well," said he, pleasantly, "you may as well see what the inside of
these booths is like:  think of something you want."

Said I:  "Could I get some tobacco and a pipe?"

"Of course," said he; "what was I thinking of, not asking you before?
Well, Bob is always telling me that we non-smokers are a selfish lot,
and I'm afraid he is right.  But come along; here is a place just
handy."

Therewith he drew rein and jumped down, and I followed.  A very
handsome woman, splendidly clad in figured silk, was slowly passing
by, looking into the windows as she went.  To her quoth Dick:
"Maiden, would you kindly hold our horse while we go in for a
little?"  She nodded to us with a kind smile, and fell to patting the
horse with her pretty hand.

"What a beautiful creature!" said I to Dick as we entered.

"What, old Greylocks?" said he, with a sly grin.

"No, no," said I; "Goldylocks,--the lady."

"Well, so she is," said he.  "'Tis a good job there are so many of
them that every Jack may have his Jill:  else I fear that we should
get fighting for them.  Indeed," said he, becoming very grave, "I
don't say that it does not happen even now, sometimes.  For you know
love is not a very reasonable thing, and perversity and self-will are
commoner than some of our moralist's think."  He added, in a still
more sombre tone:  "Yes, only a month ago there was a mishap down by
us, that in the end cost the lives of two men and a woman, and, as it
were, put out the sunlight for us for a while.  Don't ask me about it
just now; I may tell you about it later on."

By this time we were within the shop or booth, which had a counter,
and shelves on the walls, all very neat, though without any pretence
of showiness, but otherwise not very different to what I had been
used to.  Within were a couple of children--a brown-skinned boy of
about twelve, who sat reading a book, and a pretty little girl of
about a year older, who was sitting also reading behind the counter;
they were obviously brother and sister.

"Good morning, little neighbours," said Dick.  "My friend here wants
tobacco and a pipe; can you help him?"

"O yes, certainly," said the girl with a sort of demure alertness
which was somewhat amusing.  The boy looked up, and fell to staring
at my outlandish attire, but presently reddened and turned his head,
as if he knew that he was not behaving prettily.

"Dear neighbour," said the girl, with the most solemn countenance of
a child playing at keeping shop, "what tobacco is it you would like?"

"Latakia," quoth I, feeling as if I were assisting at a child's game,
and wondering whether I should get anything but make-believe.

But the girl took a dainty little basket from a shelf beside her,
went to a jar, and took out a lot of tobacco and put the filled
basket down on the counter before me, where I could both smell and
see that it was excellent Latakia.

"But you haven't weighed it," said I, "and--and how much am I to
take?"

"Why," she said, "I advise you to cram your bag, because you may be
going where you can't get Latakia.  Where is your bag?"

I fumbled about, and at last pulled out my piece of cotton print
which does duty with me for a tobacco pouch.  But the girl looked at
it with some disdain, and said -

"Dear neighbour, I can give you something much better than that
cotton rag."  And she tripped up the shop and came back presently,
and as she passed the boy whispered something in his ear, and he
nodded and got up and went out.  The girl held up in her finger and
thumb a red morocco bag, gaily embroidered, and said, "There, I have
chosen one for you, and you are to have it:  it is pretty, and will
hold a lot."

Therewith she fell to cramming it with the tobacco, and laid it down
by me and said, "Now for the pipe:  that also you must let me choose
for you; there are three pretty ones just come in."

She disappeared again, and came back with a big-bowled pipe in her
hand, carved out of some hard wood very elaborately, and mounted in
gold sprinkled with little gems.  It was, in short, as pretty and gay
a toy as I had ever seen; something like the best kind of Japanese
work, but better.

"Dear me!" said I, when I set eyes on it, "this is altogether too
grand for me, or for anybody but the Emperor of the World.  Besides,
I shall lose it:  I always lose my pipes."

The child seemed rather dashed, and said, "Don't you like it,
neighbour?"

"O yes," I said, "of course I like it."

"Well, then, take it," said she, "and don't trouble about losing it.
What will it matter if you do?  Somebody is sure to find it, and he
will use it, and you can get another."

I took it out of her hand to look at it, and while I did so, forgot
my caution, and said, "But however am I to pay for such a thing as
this?"

Dick laid his hand on my shoulder as I spoke, and turning I met his
eyes with a comical expression in them, which warned me against
another exhibition of extinct commercial morality; so I reddened and
held my tongue, while the girl simply looked at me with the deepest
gravity, as if I were a foreigner blundering in my speech, for she
clearly didn't understand me a bit.

"Thank you so very much," I said at last, effusively, as I put the
pipe in my pocket, not without a qualm of doubt as to whether I
shouldn't find myself before a magistrate presently.

"O, you are so very welcome," said the little lass, with an
affectation of grown-up manners at their best which was very quaint.
"It is such a pleasure to serve dear old gentlemen like you;
especially when one can see at once that you have come from far over
sea."

"Yes, my dear," quoth I, "I have been a great traveller."

As I told this lie from pure politeness, in came the lad again, with
a tray in his hands, on which I saw a long flask and two beautiful
glasses.  "Neighbours," said the girl (who did all the talking, her
brother being very shy, clearly) "please to drink a glass to us
before you go, since we do not have guests like this every day."

Therewith the boy put the tray on the counter and solemnly poured out
a straw-coloured wine into the long bowls.  Nothing loth, I drank,
for I was thirsty with the hot day; and thinks I, I am yet in the
world, and the grapes of the Rhine have not yet lost their flavour;
for if ever I drank good Steinberg, I drank it that morning; and I
made a mental note to ask Dick how they managed to make fine wine
when there were no longer labourers compelled to drink rot-gut
instead of the fine wine which they themselves made.

"Don't you drink a glass to us, dear little neighbours?" said I.

"I don't drink wine," said the lass; "I like lemonade better:  but I
wish your health!"

"And I like ginger-beer better," said the little lad.

Well, well, thought I, neither have children's tastes changed much.
And therewith we gave them good day and went out of the booth.

To my disappointment, like a change in a dream, a tall old man was
holding our horse instead of the beautiful woman.  He explained to us
that the maiden could not wait, and that he had taken her place; and
he winked at us and laughed when he saw how our faces fell, so that
we had nothing for it but to laugh also -

"Where are you going?" said he to Dick.

"To Bloomsbury," said Dick.

"If you two don't want to be alone, I'll come with you," said the old
man.

"All right," said Dick, "tell me when you want to get down and I'll
stop for you.  Let's get on."

So we got under way again; and I asked if children generally waited
on people in the markets.  "Often enough," said he, "when it isn't a
matter of dealing with heavy weights, but by no means always.  The
children like to amuse themselves with it, and it is good for them,
because they handle a lot of diverse wares and get to learn about
them, how they are made, and where they come from, and so on.
Besides, it is such very easy work that anybody can do it.  It is
said that in the early days of our epoch there were a good many
people who were hereditarily afflicted with a disease called
Idleness, because they were the direct descendants of those who in
the bad times used to force other people to work for them--the
people, you know, who are called slave-holders or employers of labour
in the history books.  Well, these Idleness-stricken people used to
serve booths ALL their time, because they were fit for so little.
Indeed, I believe that at one time they were actually COMPELLED to do
some such work, because they, especially the women, got so ugly and
produced such ugly children if their disease was not treated sharply,
that the neighbours couldn't stand it.  However, I'm happy to say
that all that is gone by now; the disease is either extinct, or
exists in such a mild form that a short course of aperient medicine
carries it off.  It is sometimes called the Blue-devils now, or the
Mulleygrubs.  Queer names, ain't they?"

"Yes," said I, pondering much.  But the old man broke in:

"Yes, all that is true, neighbour; and I have seen some of those poor
women grown old.  But my father used to know some of them when they
were young; and he said that they were as little like young women as
might be:  they had hands like bunches of skewers, and wretched
little arms like sticks; and waists like hour-glasses, and thin lips
and peaked noses and pale cheeks; and they were always pretending to
be offended at anything you said or did to them.  No wonder they bore
ugly children, for no one except men like them could be in love with
them--poor things!"

He stopped, and seemed to be musing on his past life, and then said:

"And do you know, neighbours, that once on a time people were still
anxious about that disease of Idleness:  at one time we gave
ourselves a great deal of trouble in trying to cure people of it.
Have you not read any of the medical books on the subject?"

"No," said I; for the old man was speaking to me.

"Well," said he, "it was thought at the time that it was the survival
of the old mediaeval disease of leprosy:  it seems it was very
catching, for many of the people afflicted by it were much secluded,
and were waited upon by a special class of diseased persons queerly
dressed up, so that they might be known.  They wore amongst other
garments, breeches made of worsted velvet, that stuff which used to
be called plush some years ago."

All this seemed very interesting to me, and I should like to have
made the old man talk more.  But Dick got rather restive under so
much ancient history:  besides, I suspect he wanted to keep me as
fresh as he could for his great-grandfather.  So he burst out
laughing at last, and said:  "Excuse me, neighbours, but I can't help
it.  Fancy people not liking to work!--it's too ridiculous.  Why,
even you like to work, old fellow--sometimes," said he,
affectionately patting the old horse with the whip.  "What a queer
disease! it may well be called Mulleygrubs!"

And he laughed out again most boisterously; rather too much so, I
thought, for his usual good manners; and I laughed with him for
company's sake, but from the teeth outward only; for _I_ saw nothing
funny in people not liking to work, as you may well imagine.



CHAPTER VII:  TRAFALGAR SQUARE



And now again I was busy looking about me, for we were quite clear of
Piccadilly Market, and were in a region of elegantly-built much
ornamented houses, which I should have called villas if they had been
ugly and pretentious, which was very far from being the case.  Each
house stood in a garden carefully cultivated, and running over with
flowers.  The blackbirds were singing their best amidst the garden-
trees, which, except for a bay here and there, and occasional groups
of limes, seemed to be all fruit-trees:  there were a great many
cherry-trees, now all laden with fruit; and several times as we
passed by a garden we were offered baskets of fine fruit by children
and young girls.  Amidst all these gardens and houses it was of
course impossible to trace the sites of the old streets:  but it
seemed to me that the main roadways were the same as of old.

We came presently into a large open space, sloping somewhat toward
the south, the sunny site of which had been taken advantage of for
planting an orchard, mainly, as I could see, of apricot-trees, in the
midst of which was a pretty gay little structure of wood, painted and
gilded, that looked like a refreshment-stall.  From the southern side
of the said orchard ran a long road, chequered over with the shadow
of tall old pear trees, at the end of which showed the high tower of
the Parliament House, or Dung Market.

A strange sensation came over me; I shut my eyes to keep out the
sight of the sun glittering on this fair abode of gardens, and for a
moment there passed before them a phantasmagoria of another day.  A
great space surrounded by tall ugly houses, with an ugly church at
the corner and a nondescript ugly cupolaed building at my back; the
roadway thronged with a sweltering and excited crowd, dominated by
omnibuses crowded with spectators.  In the midst a paved be-
fountained square, populated only by a few men dressed in blue, and a
good many singularly ugly bronze images (one on the top of a tall
column).  The said square guarded up to the edge of the roadway by a
four-fold line of big men clad in blue, and across the southern
roadway the helmets of a band of horse-soldiers, dead white in the
greyness of the chilly November afternoon--I opened my eyes to the
sunlight again and looked round me, and cried out among the
whispering trees and odorous blossoms, "Trafalgar Square!"

"Yes," said Dick, who had drawn rein again, "so it is.  I don't
wonder at your finding the name ridiculous:  but after all, it was
nobody's business to alter it, since the name of a dead folly doesn't
bite.  Yet sometimes I think we might have given it a name which
would have commemorated the great battle which was fought on the spot
itself in 1952,--that was important enough, if the historians don't
lie."

"Which they generally do, or at least did," said the old man.  "For
instance, what can you make of this, neighbours?  I have read a
muddled account in a book--O a stupid book--called James' Social
Democratic History, of a fight which took place here in or about the
year 1887 (I am bad at dates).  Some people, says this story, were
going to hold a ward-mote here, or some such thing, and the
Government of London, or the Council, or the Commission, or what not
other barbarous half-hatched body of fools, fell upon these citizens
(as they were then called) with the armed hand.  That seems too
ridiculous to be true; but according to this version of the story,
nothing much came of it, which certainly IS too ridiculous to be
true."

"Well," quoth I, "but after all your Mr. James is right so far, and
it IS true; except that there was no fighting, merely unarmed and
peaceable people attacked by ruffians armed with bludgeons."

"And they put up with that?" said Dick, with the first unpleasant
expression I had seen on his good-tempered face.

Said I, reddening:  "We HAD to put up with it; we couldn't help it."

The old man looked at me keenly, and said:  "You seem to know a great
deal about it, neighbour!  And is it really true that nothing came of
it?"

"This came of it," said I, "that a good many people were sent to
prison because of it."

"What, of the bludgeoners?" said the old man.  "Poor devils!"

"No, no," said I, "of the bludgeoned."

Said the old man rather severely:  "Friend, I expect that you have
been reading some rotten collection of lies, and have been taken in
by it too easily."

"I assure you," said I, "what I have been saying is true."

"Well, well, I am sure you think so, neighbour," said the old man,
"but I don't see why you should be so cocksure."

As I couldn't explain why, I held my tongue.  Meanwhile Dick, who had
been sitting with knit brows, cogitating, spoke at last, and said
gently and rather sadly:

"How strange to think that there have been men like ourselves, and
living in this beautiful and happy country, who I suppose had
feelings and affections like ourselves, who could yet do such
dreadful things."

"Yes," said I, in a didactic tone; "yet after all, even those days
were a great improvement on the days that had gone before them.  Have
you not read of the Mediaeval period, and the ferocity of its
criminal laws; and how in those days men fairly seemed to have
enjoyed tormenting their fellow men?--nay, for the matter of that,
they made their God a tormentor and a jailer rather than anything
else."

"Yes," said Dick, "there are good books on that period also, some of
which I have read.  But as to the great improvement of the nineteenth
century, I don't see it.  After all, the Mediaeval folk acted after
their conscience, as your remark about their God (which is true)
shows, and they were ready to bear what they inflicted on others;
whereas the nineteenth century ones were hypocrites, and pretended to
be humane, and yet went on tormenting those whom they dared to treat
so by shutting them up in prison, for no reason at all, except that
they were what they themselves, the prison-masters, had forced them
to be.  O, it's horrible to think of!"

"But perhaps," said I, "they did not know what the prisons were
like."

Dick seemed roused, and even angry.  "More shame for them," said he,
"when you and I know it all these years afterwards.  Look you,
neighbour, they couldn't fail to know what a disgrace a prison is to
the Commonwealth at the best, and that their prisons were a good step
on towards being at the worst."

Quoth I:  "But have you no prisons at all now?"

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt that I had made a
mistake, for Dick flushed red and frowned, and the old man looked
surprised and pained; and presently Dick said angrily, yet as if
restraining himself somewhat -

"Man alive! how can you ask such a question?  Have I not told you
that we know what a prison means by the undoubted evidence of really
trustworthy books, helped out by our own imaginations?  And haven't
you specially called me to notice that the people about the roads and
streets look happy? and how could they look happy if they knew that
their neighbours were shut up in prison, while they bore such things
quietly?  And if there were people in prison, you couldn't hide it
from folk, like you may an occasional man-slaying; because that isn't
done of set purpose, with a lot of people backing up the slayer in
cold blood, as this prison business is.  Prisons, indeed!  O no, no,
no!"

He stopped, and began to cool down, and said in a kind voice:  "But
forgive me!  I needn't be so hot about it, since there are NOT any
prisons:  I'm afraid you will think the worse of me for losing my
temper.  Of course, you, coming from the outlands, cannot be expected
to know about these things.  And now I'm afraid I have made you feel
uncomfortable."

In a way he had; but he was so generous in his heat, that I liked him
the better for it, and I said:

"No, really 'tis all my fault for being so stupid.  Let me change the
subject, and ask you what the stately building is on our left just
showing at the end of that grove of plane-trees?"

"Ah," he said, "that is an old building built before the middle of
the twentieth century, and as you see, in a queer fantastic style not
over beautiful; but there are some fine things inside it, too, mostly
pictures, some very old.  It is called the National Gallery; I have
sometimes puzzled as to what the name means:  anyhow, nowadays
wherever there is a place where pictures are kept as curiosities
permanently it is called a National Gallery, perhaps after this one.
Of course there are a good many of them up and down the country."

I didn't try to enlighten him, feeling the task too heavy; but I
pulled out my magnificent pipe and fell a-smoking, and the old horse
jogged on again.  As we went, I said:

"This pipe is a very elaborate toy, and you seem so reasonable in
this country, and your architecture is so good, that I rather wonder
at your turning out such trivialities."

It struck me as I spoke that this was rather ungrateful of me, after
having received such a fine present; but Dick didn't seem to notice
my bad manners, but said:

"Well, I don't know; it is a pretty thing, and since nobody need make
such things unless they like, I don't see why they shouldn't make
them, if they like.  Of course, if carvers were scarce they would all
be busy on the architecture, as you call it, and then these 'toys' (a
good word) would not be made; but since there are plenty of people
who can carve--in fact, almost everybody, and as work is somewhat
scarce, or we are afraid it may be, folk do not discourage this kind
of petty work."

He mused a little, and seemed somewhat perturbed; but presently his
face cleared, and he said:  "After all, you must admit that the pipe
is a very pretty thing, with the little people under the trees all
cut so clean and sweet;--too elaborate for a pipe, perhaps, but--
well, it is very pretty."

"Too valuable for its use, perhaps," said I.

"What's that?" said he; "I don't understand."

I was just going in a helpless way to try to make him understand,
when we came by the gates of a big rambling building, in which work
of some sort seemed going on.  "What building is that?" said I,
eagerly; for it was a pleasure amidst all these strange things to see
something a little like what I was used to:  "it seems to be a
factory."

"Yes," he said, "I think I know what you mean, and that's what it is;
but we don't call them factories now, but Banded-workshops:  that is,
places where people collect who want to work together."

"I suppose," said I, "power of some sort is used there?"

"No, no," said he.  "Why should people collect together to use power,
when they can have it at the places where they live, or hard by, any
two or three of them; or any one, for the matter of that?  No; folk
collect in these Banded-workshops to do hand-work in which working
together is necessary or convenient; such work is often very
pleasant.  In there, for instance, they make pottery and glass,--
there, you can see the tops of the furnaces.  Well, of course it's
handy to have fair-sized ovens and kilns and glass-pots, and a good
lot of things to use them for:  though of course there are a good
many such places, as it would be ridiculous if a man had a liking for
pot-making or glass-blowing that he should have to live in one place
or be obliged to forego the work he liked."

"I see no smoke coming from the furnaces," said I.

"Smoke?" said Dick; "why should you see smoke?"

I held my tongue, and he went on:  "It's a nice place inside, though
as plain as you see outside.  As to the crafts, throwing the clay
must be jolly work:  the glass-blowing is rather a sweltering job;
but some folk like it very much indeed; and I don't much wonder:
there is such a sense of power, when you have got deft in it, in
dealing with the hot metal.  It makes a lot of pleasant work," said
he, smiling, "for however much care you take of such goods, break
they will, one day or another, so there is always plenty to do."

I held my tongue and pondered.

We came just here on a gang of men road-mending which delayed us a
little; but I was not sorry for it; for all I had seen hitherto
seemed a mere part of a summer holiday; and I wanted to see how this
folk would set to on a piece of real necessary work.  They had been
resting, and had only just begun work again as we came up; so that
the rattle of the picks was what woke me from my musing.  There were
about a dozen of them, strong young men, looking much like a boating
party at Oxford would have looked in the days I remembered, and not
more troubled with their work:  their outer raiment lay on the road-
side in an orderly pile under the guardianship of a six-year-old boy,
who had his arm thrown over the neck of a big mastiff, who was as
happily lazy as if the summer-day had been made for him alone.  As I
eyed the pile of clothes, I could see the gleam of gold and silk
embroidery on it, and judged that some of these workmen had tastes
akin to those of the Golden Dustman of Hammersmith.  Beside them lay
a good big basket that had hints about it of cold pie and wine:  a
half dozen of young women stood by watching the work or the workers,
both of which were worth watching, for the latter smote great strokes
and were very deft in their labour, and as handsome clean-built
fellows as you might find a dozen of in a summer day.  They were
laughing and talking merrily with each other and the women, but
presently their foreman looked up and saw our way stopped.  So he
stayed his pick and sang out, "Spell ho, mates! here are neighbours
want to get past."  Whereon the others stopped also, and, drawing
around us, helped the old horse by easing our wheels over the half
undone road, and then, like men with a pleasant task on hand, hurried
back to their work, only stopping to give us a smiling good-day; so
that the sound of the picks broke out again before Greylocks had
taken to his jog-trot.  Dick looked back over his shoulder at them
and said:

"They are in luck to-day:  it's right down good sport trying how much
pick-work one can get into an hour; and I can see those neighbours
know their business well.  It is not a mere matter of strength
getting on quickly with such work; is it, guest?"

"I should think not," said I, "but to tell you the truth, I have
never tried my hand at it."

"Really?" said he gravely, "that seems a pity; it is good work for
hardening the muscles, and I like it; though I admit it is pleasanter
the second week than the first.  Not that I am a good hand at it:
the fellows used to chaff me at one job where I was working, I
remember, and sing out to me, 'Well rowed, stroke!'  'Put your back
into it, bow!'"

"Not much of a joke," quoth I.

"Well," said Dick, "everything seems like a joke when we have a
pleasant spell of work on, and good fellows merry about us; we feels
so happy, you know."  Again I pondered silently.



CHAPTER VIII:  AN OLD FRIEND



We now turned into a pleasant lane where the branches of great plane-
trees nearly met overhead, but behind them lay low houses standing
rather close together.

"This is Long Acre," quoth Dick; "so there must once have been a
cornfield here.  How curious it is that places change so, and yet
keep their old names!  Just look how thick the houses stand! and they
are still going on building, look you!"

"Yes," said the old man, "but I think the cornfields must have been
built over before the middle of the nineteenth century.  I have heard
that about here was one of the thickest parts of the town.  But I
must get down here, neighbours; I have got to call on a friend who
lives in the gardens behind this Long Acre.  Good-bye and good luck,
Guest!"

And he jumped down and strode away vigorously, like a young man.

"How old should you say that neighbour will be?" said I to Dick as we
lost sight of him; for I saw that he was old, and yet he looked dry
and sturdy like a piece of old oak; a type of old man I was not used
to seeing.

"O, about ninety, I should say," said Dick.

"How long-lived your people must be!" said I.

"Yes," said Dick, "certainly we have beaten the threescore-and-ten of
the old Jewish proverb-book.  But then you see that was written of
Syria, a hot dry country, where people live faster than in our
temperate climate.  However, I don't think it matters much, so long
as a man is healthy and happy while he IS alive.  But now, Guest, we
are so near to my old kinsman's dwelling-place that I think you had
better keep all future questions for him."

I nodded a yes; and therewith we turned to the left, and went down a
gentle slope through some beautiful rose-gardens, laid out on what I
took to be the site of Endell Street.  We passed on, and Dick drew
rein an instant as we came across a long straightish road with houses
scantily scattered up and down it.  He waved his hand right and left,
and said, "Holborn that side, Oxford Road that.  This was once a very
important part of the crowded city outside the ancient walls of the
Roman and Mediaeval burg:  many of the feudal nobles of the Middle
Ages, we are told, had big houses on either side of Holborn.  I
daresay you remember that the Bishop of Ely's house is mentioned in
Shakespeare's play of King Richard III.; and there are some remains
of that still left.  However, this road is not of the same
importance, now that the ancient city is gone, walls and all."

He drove on again, while I smiled faintly to think how the nineteenth
century, of which such big words have been said, counted for nothing
in the memory of this man, who read Shakespeare and had not forgotten
the Middle Ages.

We crossed the road into a short narrow lane between the gardens, and
came out again into a wide road, on one side of which was a great and
long building, turning its gables away from the highway, which I saw
at once was another public group.  Opposite to it was a wide space of
greenery, without any wall or fence of any kind.  I looked through
the trees and saw beyond them a pillared portico quite familiar to
me--no less old a friend, in fact, than the British Museum.  It
rather took my breath away, amidst all the strange things I had seen;
but I held my tongue and let Dick speak.  Said he:

"Yonder is the British Museum, where my great-grandfather mostly
lives; so I won't say much about it.  The building on the left is the
Museum Market, and I think we had better turn in there for a minute
or two; for Greylocks will be wanting his rest and his oats; and I
suppose you will stay with my kinsman the greater part of the day;
and to say the truth, there may be some one there whom I particularly
want to see, and perhaps have a long talk with."

He blushed and sighed, not altogether with pleasure, I thought; so of
course I said nothing, and he turned the horse under an archway which
brought us into a very large paved quadrangle, with a big sycamore
tree in each corner and a plashing fountain in the midst.  Near the
fountain were a few market stalls, with awnings over them of gay
striped linen cloth, about which some people, mostly women and
children, were moving quietly, looking at the goods exposed there.
The ground floor of the building round the quadrangle was occupied by
a wide arcade or cloister, whose fanciful but strong architecture I
could not enough admire.  Here also a few people were sauntering or
sitting reading on the benches.

Dick said to me apologetically:  "Here as elsewhere there is little
doing to-day; on a Friday you would see it thronged, and gay with
people, and in the afternoon there is generally music about the
fountain.  However, I daresay we shall have a pretty good gathering
at our mid-day meal."

We drove through the quadrangle and by an archway, into a large
handsome stable on the other side, where we speedily stalled the old
nag and made him happy with horse-meat, and then turned and walked
back again through the market, Dick looking rather thoughtful, as it
seemed to me.

I noticed that people couldn't help looking at me rather hard, and
considering my clothes and theirs, I didn't wonder; but whenever they
caught my eye they made me a very friendly sign of greeting.

We walked straight into the forecourt of the Museum, where, except
that the railings were gone, and the whispering boughs of the trees
were all about, nothing seemed changed; the very pigeons were
wheeling about the building and clinging to the ornaments of the
pediment as I had seen them of old.

Dick seemed grown a little absent, but he could not forbear giving me
an architectural note, and said:

"It is rather an ugly old building, isn't it?  Many people have
wanted to pull it down and rebuild it:  and perhaps if work does
really get scarce we may yet do so.  But, as my great grandfather
will tell you, it would not be quite a straightforward job; for there
are wonderful collections in there of all kinds of antiquities,
besides an enormous library with many exceedingly beautiful books in
it, and many most useful ones as genuine records, texts of ancient
works and the like; and the worry and anxiety, and even risk, there
would be in moving all this has saved the buildings themselves.
Besides, as we said before, it is not a bad thing to have some record
of what our forefathers thought a handsome building.  For there is
plenty of labour and material in it."

"I see there is," said I, "and I quite agree with you.  But now
hadn't we better make haste to see your great-grandfather?"

In fact, I could not help seeing that he was rather dallying with the
time.  He said, "Yes, we will go into the house in a minute.  My
kinsman is too old to do much work in the Museum, where he was a
custodian of the books for many years; but he still lives here a good
deal; indeed I think," said he, smiling, "that he looks upon himself
as a part of the books, or the books a part of him, I don't know
which."

He hesitated a little longer, then flushing up, took my hand, and
saying, "Come along, then!" led me toward the door of one of the old
official dwellings.



CHAPTER IX:  CONCERNING LOVE



"Your kinsman doesn't much care for beautiful building, then," said
I, as we entered the rather dreary classical house; which indeed was
as bare as need be, except for some big pots of the June flowers
which stood about here and there; though it was very clean and nicely
whitewashed.

"O I don't know," said Dick, rather absently.  "He is getting old,
certainly, for he is over a hundred and five, and no doubt he doesn't
care about moving.  But of course he could live in a prettier house
if he liked:  he is not obliged to live in one place any more than
any one else.  This way, Guest."

And he led the way upstairs, and opening a door we went into a fair-
sized room of the old type, as plain as the rest of the house, with a
few necessary pieces of furniture, and those very simple and even
rude, but solid and with a good deal of carving about them, well
designed but rather crudely executed.  At the furthest corner of the
room, at a desk near the window, sat a little old man in a roomy oak
chair, well becushioned.  He was dressed in a sort of Norfolk jacket
of blue serge worn threadbare, with breeches of the same, and grey
worsted stockings.  He jumped up from his chair, and cried out in a
voice of considerable volume for such an old man, "Welcome, Dick, my
lad; Clara is here, and will be more than glad to see you; so keep
your heart up."

"Clara here?" quoth Dick; "if I had known, I would not have brought--
At least, I mean I would--"

He was stuttering and confused, clearly because he was anxious to say
nothing to make me feel one too many.  But the old man, who had not
seen me at first, helped him out by coming forward and saying to me
in a kind tone:

"Pray pardon me, for I did not notice that Dick, who is big enough to
hide anybody, you know, had brought a friend with him.  A most hearty
welcome to you!  All the more, as I almost hope that you are going to
amuse an old man by giving him news from over sea, for I can see that
you are come from over the water and far off countries."

He looked at me thoughtfully, almost anxiously, as he said in a
changed voice, "Might I ask you where you come from, as you are so
clearly a stranger?"

I said in an absent way:  "I used to live in England, and now I am
come back again; and I slept last night at the Hammersmith Guest
House."

He bowed gravely, but seemed, I thought, a little disappointed with
my answer.  As for me, I was now looking at him harder than good
manners allowed of; perhaps; for in truth his face, dried-apple-like
as it was, seemed strangely familiar to me; as if I had seen it
before--in a looking-glass it might be, said I to myself.

"Well," said the old man, "wherever you come from, you are come among
friends.  And I see my kinsman Richard Hammond has an air about him
as if he had brought you here for me to do something for you.  Is
that so, Dick?"

Dick, who was getting still more absent-minded and kept looking
uneasily at the door, managed to say, "Well, yes, kinsman:  our guest
finds things much altered, and cannot understand it; nor can I; so I
thought I would bring him to you, since you know more of all that has
happened within the last two hundred years than any body else does.--
What's that?"

And he turned toward the door again.  We heard footsteps outside; the
door opened, and in came a very beautiful young woman, who stopped
short on seeing Dick, and flushed as red as a rose, but faced him
nevertheless.  Dick looked at her hard, and half reached out his hand
toward her, and his whole face quivered with emotion.

The old man did not leave them long in this shy discomfort, but said,
smiling with an old man's mirth:

"Dick, my lad, and you, my dear Clara, I rather think that we two
oldsters are in your way; for I think you will have plenty to say to
each other.  You had better go into Nelson's room up above; I know he
has gone out; and he has just been covering the walls all over with
mediaeval books, so it will be pretty enough even for you two and
your renewed pleasure."

The girl reached out her hand to Dick, and taking his led him out of
the room, looking straight before her; but it was easy to see that
her blushes came from happiness, not anger; as, indeed, love is far
more self-conscious than wrath.

When the door had shut on them the old man turned to me, still
smiling, and said:

"Frankly, my dear guest, you will do me a great service if you are
come to set my old tongue wagging.  My love of talk still abides with
me, or rather grows on me; and though it is pleasant enough to see
these youngsters moving about and playing together so seriously, as
if the whole world depended on their kisses (as indeed it does
somewhat), yet I don't think my tales of the past interest them much.
The last harvest, the last baby, the last knot of carving in the
market-place, is history enough for them.  It was different, I think,
when I was a lad, when we were not so assured of peace and continuous
plenty as we are now--Well, well!  Without putting you to the
question, let me ask you this:  Am I to consider you as an enquirer
who knows a little of our modern ways of life, or as one who comes
from some place where the very foundations of life are different from
ours,--do you know anything or nothing about us?"

He looked at me keenly and with growing wonder in his eyes as he
spoke; and I answered in a low voice:

"I know only so much of your modern life as I could gather from using
my eyes on the way here from Hammersmith, and from asking some
questions of Richard Hammond, most of which he could hardly
understand."

The old man smiled at this.  "Then," said he, "I am to speak to you
as--"

"As if I were a being from another planet," said I.

The old man, whose name, by the bye, like his kinsman's, was Hammond,
smiled and nodded, and wheeling his seat round to me, bade me sit in
a heavy oak chair, and said, as he saw my eyes fix on its curious
carving:

"Yes, I am much tied to the past, my past, you understand.  These
very pieces of furniture belong to a time before my early days; it
was my father who got them made; if they had been done within the
last fifty years they would have been much cleverer in execution; but
I don't think I should have liked them the better.  We were almost
beginning again in those days:  and they were brisk, hot-headed
times.  But you hear how garrulous I am:  ask me questions, ask me
questions about anything, dear guest; since I must talk, make my talk
profitable to you."

I was silent for a minute, and then I said, somewhat nervously:
"Excuse me if I am rude; but I am so much interested in Richard,
since he has been so kind to me, a perfect stranger, that I should
like to ask a question about him."

"Well," said old Hammond, "if he were not 'kind', as you call it, to
a perfect stranger he would be thought a strange person, and people
would be apt to shun him.  But ask on, ask on! don't be shy of
asking."

Said I:  "That beautiful girl, is he going to be married to her?"

"Well," said he, "yes, he is.  He has been married to her once
already, and now I should say it is pretty clear that he will be
married to her again."

"Indeed," quoth I, wondering what that meant.

"Here is the whole tale," said old Hammond; "a short one enough; and
now I hope a happy one:  they lived together two years the first
time; were both very young; and then she got it into her head that
she was in love with somebody else.  So she left poor Dick; I say
POOR Dick, because he had not found any one else.  But it did not
last long, only about a year.  Then she came to me, as she was in the
habit of bringing her troubles to the old carle, and asked me how
Dick was, and whether he was happy, and all the rest of it.  So I saw
how the land lay, and said that he was very unhappy, and not at all
well; which last at any rate was a lie.  There, you can guess the
rest.  Clara came to have a long talk with me to-day, but Dick will
serve her turn much better.  Indeed, if he hadn't chanced in upon me
to-day I should have had to have sent for him to-morrow."

"Dear me," said I.  "Have they any children?"

"Yes," said he, "two; they are staying with one of my daughters at
present, where, indeed, Clara has mostly been.  I wouldn't lose sight
of her, as I felt sure they would come together again:  and Dick, who
is the best of good fellows, really took the matter to heart.  You
see, he had no other love to run to, as she had.  So I managed it
all; as I have done with such-like matters before."

"Ah," said I, "no doubt you wanted to keep them out of the Divorce
Court:  but I suppose it often has to settle such matters."

"Then you suppose nonsense," said he.  "I know that there used to be
such lunatic affairs as divorce-courts:  but just consider; all the
cases that came into them were matters of property quarrels:  and I
think, dear guest," said he, smiling, "that though you do come from
another planet, you can see from the mere outside look of our world
that quarrels about private property could not go on amongst us in
our days."

Indeed, my drive from Hammersmith to Bloomsbury, and all the quiet
happy life I had seen so many hints of; even apart from my shopping,
would have been enough to tell me that "the sacred rights of
property," as we used to think of them, were now no more.  So I sat
silent while the old man took up the thread of the discourse again,
and said:

"Well, then, property quarrels being no longer possible, what remains
in these matters that a court of law could deal with?  Fancy a court
for enforcing a contract of passion or sentiment!  If such a thing
were needed as a reductio ad absurdum of the enforcement of contract,
such a folly would do that for us."

He was silent again a little, and then said:  "You must understand
once for all that we have changed these matters; or rather, that our
way of looking at them has changed, as we have changed within the
last two hundred years.  We do not deceive ourselves, indeed, or
believe that we can get rid of all the trouble that besets the
dealings between the sexes.  We know that we must face the
unhappiness that comes of man and woman confusing the relations
between natural passion, and sentiment, and the friendship which,
when things go well, softens the awakening from passing illusions:
but we are not so mad as to pile up degradation on that unhappiness
by engaging in sordid squabbles about livelihood and position, and
the power of tyrannising over the children who have been the results
of love or lust."

Again he paused awhile, and again went on:  "Calf love, mistaken for
a heroism that shall be lifelong, yet early waning into
disappointment; the inexplicable desire that comes on a man of riper
years to be the all-in-all to some one woman, whose ordinary human
kindness and human beauty he has idealised into superhuman
perfection, and made the one object of his desire; or lastly the
reasonable longing of a strong and thoughtful man to become the most
intimate friend of some beautiful and wise woman, the very type of
the beauty and glory of the world which we love so well,--as we exult
in all the pleasure and exaltation of spirit which goes with these
things, so we set ourselves to bear the sorrow which not unseldom
goes with them also; remembering those lines of the ancient poet (I
quote roughly from memory one of the many translations of the
nineteenth century):


'For this the Gods have fashioned man's grief and evil day
That still for man hereafter might be the tale and the lay.'


Well, well, 'tis little likely anyhow that all tales shall be
lacking, or all sorrow cured."

He was silent for some time, and I would not interrupt him.  At last
he began again:  "But you must know that we of these generations are
strong and healthy of body, and live easily; we pass our lives in
reasonable strife with nature, exercising not one side of ourselves
only, but all sides, taking the keenest pleasure in all the life of
the world.  So it is a point of honour with us not to be self-
centred; not to suppose that the world must cease because one man is
sorry; therefore we should think it foolish, or if you will,
criminal, to exaggerate these matters of sentiment and sensibility:
we are no more inclined to eke out our sentimental sorrows than to
cherish our bodily pains; and we recognise that there are other
pleasures besides love-making.  You must remember, also, that we are
long-lived, and that therefore beauty both in man and woman is not so
fleeting as it was in the days when we were burdened so heavily by
self-inflicted diseases.  So we shake off these griefs in a way which
perhaps the sentimentalists of other times would think contemptible
and unheroic, but which we think necessary and manlike.  As on the
other hand, therefore, we have ceased to be commercial in our love-
matters, so also we have ceased to be ARTIFICIALLY foolish.  The
folly which comes by nature, the unwisdom of the immature man, or the
older man caught in a trap, we must put up with that, nor are we much
ashamed of it; but to be conventionally sensitive or sentimental--my
friend, I am old and perhaps disappointed, but at least I think we
have cast off SOME of the follies of the older world."

He paused, as if for some words of mine; but I held my peace:  then
he went on:  "At least, if we suffer from the tyranny and fickleness
of nature or our own want of experience, we neither grimace about it,
nor lie.  If there must be sundering betwixt those who meant never to
sunder, so it must be:  but there need be no pretext of unity when
the reality of it is gone:  nor do we drive those who well know that
they are incapable of it to profess an undying sentiment which they
cannot really feel:  thus it is that as that monstrosity of venal
lust is no longer possible, so also it is no longer needed.  Don't
misunderstand me.  You did not seemed shocked when I told you that
there were no law-courts to enforce contracts of sentiment or
passion; but so curiously are men made, that perhaps you will be
shocked when I tell you that there is no code of public opinion which
takes the place of such courts, and which might be as tyrannical and
unreasonable as they were.  I do not say that people don't judge
their neighbours' conduct, sometimes, doubtless, unfairly.  But I do
say that there is no unvarying conventional set of rules by which
people are judged; no bed of Procrustes to stretch or cramp their
minds and lives; no hypocritical excommunication which people are
FORCED to pronounce, either by unconsidered habit, or by the
unexpressed threat of the lesser interdict if they are lax in their
hypocrisy.  Are you shocked now?"

"N-o--no," said I, with some hesitation.  "It is all so different."

"At any rate," said he, "one thing I think I can answer for:
whatever sentiment there is, it is real--and general; it is not
confined to people very specially refined.  I am also pretty sure, as
I hinted to you just now, that there is not by a great way as much
suffering involved in these matters either to men or to women as
there used to be.  But excuse me for being so prolix on this
question!  You know you asked to be treated like a being from another
planet."

"Indeed I thank you very much," said I.  "Now may I ask you about the
position of women in your society?"

He laughed very heartily for a man of his years, and said:  "It is
not without reason that I have got a reputation as a careful student
of history.  I believe I really do understand 'the Emancipation of
Women movement' of the nineteenth century.  I doubt if any other man
now alive does."

"Well?" said I, a little bit nettled by his merriment.

"'Well," said he, "of course you will see that all that is a dead
controversy now.  The men have no longer any opportunity of
tyrannising over the women, or the women over the men; both of which
things took place in those old times.  The women do what they can do
best, and what they like best, and the men are neither jealous of it
or injured by it.  This is such a commonplace that I am almost
ashamed to state it."

I said, "O; and legislation? do they take any part in that?"

Hammond smiled and said:  "I think you may wait for an answer to that
question till we get on to the subject of legislation.  There may be
novelties to you in that subject also."

"Very well," I said; "but about this woman question?  I saw at the
Guest House that the women were waiting on the men:  that seems a
little like reaction doesn't it?"

"Does it?" said the old man; "perhaps you think housekeeping an
unimportant occupation, not deserving of respect.  I believe that was
the opinion of the 'advanced' women of the nineteenth century, and
their male backers.  If it is yours, I recommend to your notice an
old Norwegian folk-lore tale called How the Man minded the House, or
some such title; the result of which minding was that, after various
tribulations, the man and the family cow balanced each other at the
end of a rope, the man hanging halfway up the chimney, the cow
dangling from the roof, which, after the fashion of the country, was
of turf and sloping down low to the ground.  Hard on the cow, _I_
think.  Of course no such mishap could happen to such a superior
person as yourself," he added, chuckling.

I sat somewhat uneasy under this dry gibe.  Indeed, his manner of
treating this latter part of the question seemed to me a little
disrespectful.

"Come, now, my friend," quoth he, "don't you know that it is a great
pleasure to a clever woman to manage a house skilfully, and to do it
so that all the house-mates about her look pleased, and are grateful
to her?  And then, you know, everybody likes to be ordered about by a
pretty woman:  why, it is one of the pleasantest forms of flirtation.
You are not so old that you cannot remember that.  Why, I remember it
well."

And the old fellow chuckled again, and at last fairly burst out
laughing.

"Excuse me," said he, after a while; "I am not laughing at anything
you could be thinking of; but at that silly nineteenth-century
fashion, current amongst rich so-called cultivated people, of
ignoring all the steps by which their daily dinner was reached, as
matters too low for their lofty intelligence.  Useless idiots!  Come,
now, I am a 'literary man,' as we queer animals used to be called,
yet I am a pretty good cook myself."

"So am I," said I.

"Well, then," said he, "I really think you can understand me better
than you would seem to do, judging by your words and your silence."

Said I:  "Perhaps that is so; but people putting in practice commonly
this sense of interest in the ordinary occupations of life rather
startles me.  I will ask you a question or two presently about that.
But I want to return to the position of women amongst you.  You have
studied the 'emancipation of women' business of the nineteenth
century:  don't you remember that some of the 'superior' women wanted
to emancipate the more intelligent part of their sex from the bearing
of children?"

The old man grew quite serious again.  Said he:  "I DO remember about
that strange piece of baseless folly, the result, like all other
follies of the period, of the hideous class tyranny which then
obtained.  What do we think of it now? you would say.  My friend,
that is a question easy to answer.  How could it possibly be but that
maternity should be highly honoured amongst us?  Surely it is a
matter of course that the natural and necessary pains which the
mother must go through form a bond of union between man and woman, an
extra stimulus to love and affection between them, and that this is
universally recognised.  For the rest, remember that all the
ARTIFICIAL burdens of motherhood are now done away with.  A mother
has no longer any mere sordid anxieties for the future of her
children.  They may indeed turn out better or worse; they may
disappoint her highest hopes; such anxieties as these are a part of
the mingled pleasure and pain which goes to make up the life of
mankind.  But at least she is spared the fear (it was most commonly
the certainty) that artificial disabilities would make her children
something less than men and women:  she knows that they will live and
act according to the measure of their own faculties.  In times past,
it is clear that the 'Society' of the day helped its Judaic god, and
the 'Man of Science' of the time, in visiting the sins of the fathers
upon the children.  How to reverse this process, how to take the
sting out of heredity, has for long been one of the most constant
cares of the thoughtful men amongst us.  So that, you see, the
ordinarily healthy woman (and almost all our women are both healthy
and at least comely), respected as a child-bearer and rearer of
children, desired as a woman, loved as a companion, unanxious for the
future of her children, has far more instinct for maternity than the
poor drudge and mother of drudges of past days could ever have had;
or than her sister of the upper classes, brought up in affected
ignorance of natural facts, reared in an atmosphere of mingled
prudery and prurience."

"You speak warmly," I said, "but I can see that you are right."

"Yes," he said, "and I will point out to you a token of all the
benefits which we have gained by our freedom.  What did you think of
the looks of the people whom you have come across to-day?"

Said I:  "I could hardly have believed that there could be so many
good-looking people in any civilised country."

He crowed a little, like the old bird he was.  "What! are we still
civilised?" said he.  "Well, as to our looks, the English and Jutish
blood, which on the whole is predominant here, used not to produce
much beauty.  But I think we have improved it.  I know a man who has
a large collection of portraits printed from photographs of the
nineteenth century, and going over those and comparing them with the
everyday faces in these times, puts the improvement in our good looks
beyond a doubt.  Now, there are some people who think it not too
fantastic to connect this increase of beauty directly with our
freedom and good sense in the matters we have been speaking of:  they
believe that a child born from the natural and healthy love between a
man and a woman, even if that be transient, is likely to turn out
better in all ways, and especially in bodily beauty, than the birth
of the respectable commercial marriage bed, or of the dull despair of
the drudge of that system.  They say, Pleasure begets pleasure.  What
do you think?"

"I am much of that mind," said I.



CHAPTER X:  QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS



"Well," said the old man, shifting in his chair, "you must get on
with your questions, Guest; I have been some time answering this
first one."

Said I:  "I want an extra word or two about your ideas of education;
although I gathered from Dick that you let your children run wild and
didn't teach them anything; and in short, that you have so refined
your education, that now you have none."

"Then you gathered left-handed," quoth he.  "But of course I
understand your point of view about education, which is that of times
past, when 'the struggle for life,' as men used to phrase it (i.e.,
the struggle for a slave's rations on one side, and for a bouncing
share of the slave-holders' privilege on the other), pinched
'education' for most people into a niggardly dole of not very
accurate information; something to be swallowed by the beginner in
the art of living whether he liked it or not, and was hungry for it
or not:  and which had been chewed and digested over and over again
by people who didn't care about it in order to serve it out to other
people who didn't care about it."

I stopped the old man's rising wrath by a laugh, and said:  "Well,
YOU were not taught that way, at any rate, so you may let your anger
run off you a little."

"True, true," said he, smiling.  "I thank you for correcting my ill-
temper:  I always fancy myself as living in any period of which we
may be speaking.  But, however, to put it in a cooler way:  you
expected to see children thrust into schools when they had reached an
age conventionally supposed to be the due age, whatever their varying
faculties and dispositions might be, and when there, with like
disregard to facts to be subjected to a certain conventional course
of 'learning.'  My friend, can't you see that such a proceeding means
ignoring the fact of GROWTH, bodily and mental?  No one could come
out of such a mill uninjured; and those only would avoid being
crushed by it who would have the spirit of rebellion strong in them.
Fortunately most children have had that at all times, or I do not
know that we should ever have reached our present position.  Now you
see what it all comes to.  In the old times all this was the result
of POVERTY.  In the nineteenth century, society was so miserably
poor, owing to the systematised robbery on which it was founded, that
real education was impossible for anybody.  The whole theory of their
so-called education was that it was necessary to shove a little
information into a child, even if it were by means of torture, and
accompanied by twaddle which it was well known was of no use, or else
he would lack information lifelong:  the hurry of poverty forbade
anything else.  All that is past; we are no longer hurried, and the
information lies ready to each one's hand when his own inclinations
impel him to seek it.  In this as in other matters we have become
wealthy:  we can afford to give ourselves time to grow."

"Yes," said I, "but suppose the child, youth, man, never wants the
information, never grows in the direction you might hope him to do:
suppose, for instance, he objects to learning arithmetic or
mathematics; you can't force him when he IS grown; can't you force
him while he is growing, and oughtn't you to do so?"

"Well," said he, "were you forced to learn arithmetic and
mathematics?"

"A little," said I.

"And how old are you now?"

"Say fifty-six," said I.

"And how much arithmetic and mathematics do you know now?" quoth the
old man, smiling rather mockingly.

Said I:  "None whatever, I am sorry to say."

Hammond laughed quietly, but made no other comment on my admission,
and I dropped the subject of education, perceiving him to be hopeless
on that side.

I thought a little, and said:  "You were speaking just now of
households:  that sounded to me a little like the customs of past
times; I should have thought you would have lived more in public."

"Phalangsteries, eh?" said he.  "Well, we live as we like, and we
like to live as a rule with certain house-mates that we have got used
to.  Remember, again, that poverty is extinct, and that the
Fourierist phalangsteries and all their kind, as was but natural at
the time, implied nothing but a refuge from mere destitution.  Such a
way of life as that, could only have been conceived of by people
surrounded by the worst form of poverty.  But you must understand
therewith, that though separate households are the rule amongst us,
and though they differ in their habits more or less, yet no door is
shut to any good-tempered person who is content to live as the other
house-mates do:  only of course it would be unreasonable for one man
to drop into a household and bid the folk of it to alter their habits
to please him, since he can go elsewhere and live as he pleases.
However, I need not say much about all this, as you are going up the
river with Dick, and will find out for yourself by experience how
these matters are managed."

After a pause, I said:  "Your big towns, now; how about them?
London, which--which I have read about as the modern Babylon of
civilization, seems to have disappeared."

"Well, well," said old Hammond, "perhaps after all it is more like
ancient Babylon now than the 'modern Babylon' of the nineteenth
century was.  But let that pass.  After all, there is a good deal of
population in places between here and Hammersmith; nor have you seen
the most populous part of the town yet."

"Tell me, then," said I, "how is it towards the east?"

Said he:  "Time was when if you mounted a good horse and rode
straight away from my door here at a round trot for an hour and a
half; you would still be in the thick of London, and the greater part
of that would be 'slums,' as they were called; that is to say, places
of torture for innocent men and women; or worse, stews for rearing
and breeding men and women in such degradation that that torture
should seem to them mere ordinary and natural life."

"I know, I know," I said, rather impatiently.  "That was what was;
tell me something of what is.  Is any of that left?"

"Not an inch," said he; "but some memory of it abides with us, and I
am glad of it.  Once a year, on May-day, we hold a solemn feast in
those easterly communes of London to commemorate The Clearing of
Misery, as it is called.  On that day we have music and dancing, and
merry games and happy feasting on the site of some of the worst of
the old slums, the traditional memory of which we have kept.  On that
occasion the custom is for the prettiest girls to sing some of the
old revolutionary songs, and those which were the groans of the
discontent, once so hopeless, on the very spots where those terrible
crimes of class-murder were committed day by day for so many years.
To a man like me, who have studied the past so diligently, it is a
curious and touching sight to see some beautiful girl, daintily clad,
and crowned with flowers from the neighbouring meadows, standing
amongst the happy people, on some mound where of old time stood the
wretched apology for a house, a den in which men and women lived
packed amongst the filth like pilchards in a cask; lived in such a
way that they could only have endured it, as I said just now, by
being degraded out of humanity--to hear the terrible words of
threatening and lamentation coming from her sweet and beautiful lips,
and she unconscious of their real meaning:  to hear her, for
instance, singing Hood's Song of the Shirt, and to think that all the
time she does not understand what it is all about--a tragedy grown
inconceivable to her and her listeners.  Think of that, if you can,
and of how glorious life is grown!"

"Indeed," said I, "it is difficult for me to think of it."

And I sat watching how his eyes glittered, and how the fresh life
seemed to glow in his face, and I wondered how at his age he should
think of the happiness of the world, or indeed anything but his
coming dinner.

"Tell me in detail," said I, "what lies east of Bloomsbury now?"

Said he:  "There are but few houses between this and the outer part
of the old city; but in the city we have a thickly-dwelling
population.  Our forefathers, in the first clearing of the slums,
were not in a hurry to pull down the houses in what was called at the
end of the nineteenth century the business quarter of the town, and
what later got to be known as the Swindling Kens.  You see, these
houses, though they stood hideously thick on the ground, were roomy
and fairly solid in building, and clean, because they were not used
for living in, but as mere gambling booths; so the poor people from
the cleared slums took them for lodgings and dwelt there, till the
folk of those days had time to think of something better for them; so
the buildings were pulled down so gradually that people got used to
living thicker on the ground there than in most places; therefore it
remains the most populous part of London, or perhaps of all these
islands.  But it is very pleasant there, partly because of the
splendour of the architecture, which goes further than what you will
see elsewhere.  However, this crowding, if it may be called so, does
not go further than a street called Aldgate, a name which perhaps you
may have heard of.  Beyond that the houses are scattered wide about
the meadows there, which are very beautiful, especially when you get
on to the lovely river Lea (where old Isaak Walton used to fish, you
know) about the places called Stratford and Old Ford, names which of
course you will not have heard of, though the Romans were busy there
once upon a time."

Not heard of them! thought I to myself.  How strange! that I who had
seen the very last remnant of the pleasantness of the meadows by the
Lea destroyed, should have heard them spoken of with pleasantness
come back to them in full measure.

Hammond went on:  "When you get down to the Thames side you come on
the Docks, which are works of the nineteenth century, and are still
in use, although not so thronged as they once were, since we
discourage centralisation all we can, and we have long ago dropped
the pretension to be the market of the world.  About these Docks are
a good few houses, which, however, are not inhabited by many people
permanently; I mean, those who use them come and go a good deal, the
place being too low and marshy for pleasant dwelling.  Past the Docks
eastward and landward it is all flat pasture, once marsh, except for
a few gardens, and there are very few permanent dwellings there:
scarcely anything but a few sheds, and cots for the men who come to
look after the great herds of cattle pasturing there.  But however,
what with the beasts and the men, and the scattered red-tiled roofs
and the big hayricks, it does not make a bad holiday to get a quiet
pony and ride about there on a sunny afternoon of autumn, and look
over the river and the craft passing up and down, and on to Shooters'
Hill and the Kentish uplands, and then turn round to the wide green
sea of the Essex marsh-land, with the great domed line of the sky,
and the sun shining down in one flood of peaceful light over the long
distance.  There is a place called Canning's Town, and further out,
Silvertown, where the pleasant meadows are at their pleasantest:
doubtless they were once slums, and wretched enough."

The names grated on my ear, but I could not explain why to him.  So I
said:  "And south of the river, what is it like?"

He said:  "You would find it much the same as the land about
Hammersmith.  North, again, the land runs up high, and there is an
agreeable and well-built town called Hampstead, which fitly ends
London on that side.  It looks down on the north-western end of the
forest you passed through."

I smiled.  "So much for what was once London," said I.  "Now tell me
about the other towns of the country."

He said:  "As to the big murky places which were once, as we know,
the centres of manufacture, they have, like the brick and mortar
desert of London, disappeared; only, since they were centres of
nothing but 'manufacture,' and served no purpose but that of the
gambling market, they have left less signs of their existence than
London.  Of course, the great change in the use of mechanical force
made this an easy matter, and some approach to their break-up as
centres would probably have taken place, even if we had not changed
our habits so much:  but they being such as they were, no sacrifice
would have seemed too great a price to pay for getting rid of the
'manufacturing districts,' as they used to be called.  For the rest,
whatever coal or mineral we need is brought to grass and sent whither
it is needed with as little as possible of dirt, confusion, and the
distressing of quiet people's lives.  One is tempted to believe from
what one has read of the condition of those districts in the
nineteenth century, that those who had them under their power
worried, befouled, and degraded men out of malice prepense:  but it
was not so; like the mis-education of which we were talking just now,
it came of their dreadful poverty.  They were obliged to put up with
everything, and even pretend that they liked it; whereas we can now
deal with things reasonably, and refuse to be saddled with what we do
not want."

I confess I was not sorry to cut short with a question his
glorifications of the age he lived in.  Said I:  "How about the
smaller towns?  I suppose you have swept those away entirely?"

"No, no," said he, "it hasn't gone that way.  On the contrary, there
has been but little clearance, though much rebuilding, in the smaller
towns.  Their suburbs, indeed, when they had any, have melted away
into the general country, and space and elbow-room has been got in
their centres:  but there are the towns still with their streets and
squares and market-places; so that it is by means of these smaller
towns that we of to-day can get some kind of idea of what the towns
of the older world were like;--I mean to say at their best."

"Take Oxford, for instance," said I.

"Yes," said he, "I suppose Oxford was beautiful even in the
nineteenth century.  At present it has the great interest of still
preserving a great mass of pre-commercial building, and is a very
beautiful place, yet there are many towns which have become scarcely
less beautiful."

Said I:  "In passing, may I ask if it is still a place of learning?"

"Still?" said he, smiling.  "Well, it has reverted to some of its
best traditions; so you may imagine how far it is from its
nineteenth-century position.  It is real learning, knowledge
cultivated for its own sake--the Art of Knowledge, in short--which is
followed there, not the Commercial learning of the past.  Though
perhaps you do not know that in the nineteenth century Oxford and its
less interesting sister Cambridge became definitely commercial.  They
(and especially Oxford) were the breeding places of a peculiar class
of parasites, who called themselves cultivated people; they were
indeed cynical enough, as the so-called educated classes of the day
generally were; but they affected an exaggeration of cynicism in
order that they might be thought knowing and worldly-wise.  The rich
middle classes (they had no relation with the working classes)
treated them with the kind of contemptuous toleration with which a
mediaeval baron treated his jester; though it must be said that they
were by no means so pleasant as the old jesters were, being, in fact,
THE bores of society.  They were laughed at, despised--and paid.
Which last was what they aimed at."

Dear me! thought I, how apt history is to reverse contemporary
judgments.  Surely only the worst of them were as bad as that.  But I
must admit that they were mostly prigs, and that they WERE
commercial.  I said aloud, though more to myself than to Hammond,
"Well, how could they be better than the age that made them?"

"True," he said, "but their pretensions were higher."

"Were they?" said I, smiling.

"You drive me from corner to corner," said he, smiling in turn.  "Let
me say at least that they were a poor sequence to the aspirations of
Oxford of 'the barbarous Middle Ages.'"

"Yes, that will do," said I.

"Also," said Hammond, "what I have been saying of them is true in the
main.  But ask on!"

I said:  "We have heard about London and the manufacturing districts
and the ordinary towns:  how about the villages?"

Said Hammond:  "You must know that toward the end of the nineteenth
century the villages were almost destroyed, unless where they became
mere adjuncts to the manufacturing districts, or formed a sort of
minor manufacturing districts themselves.  Houses were allowed to
fall into decay and actual ruin; trees were cut down for the sake of
the few shillings which the poor sticks would fetch; the building
became inexpressibly mean and hideous.  Labour was scarce; but wages
fell nevertheless.  All the small country arts of life which once
added to the little pleasures of country people were lost.  The
country produce which passed through the hands of the husbandmen
never got so far as their mouths.  Incredible shabbiness and
niggardly pinching reigned over the fields and acres which, in spite
of the rude and careless husbandry of the times, were so kind and
bountiful.  Had you any inkling of all this?"

"I have heard that it was so," said I "but what followed?"

"The change," said Hammond, "which in these matters took place very
early in our epoch, was most strangely rapid.  People flocked into
the country villages, and, so to say, flung themselves upon the freed
land like a wild beast upon his prey; and in a very little time the
villages of England were more populous than they had been since the
fourteenth century, and were still growing fast.  Of course, this
invasion of the country was awkward to deal with, and would have
created much misery, if the folk had still been under the bondage of
class monopoly.  But as it was, things soon righted themselves.
People found out what they were fit for, and gave up attempting to
push themselves into occupations in which they must needs fail.  The
town invaded the country; but the invaders, like the warlike invaders
of early days, yielded to the influence of their surroundings, and
became country people; and in their turn, as they became more
numerous than the townsmen, influenced them also; so that the
difference between town and country grew less and less; and it was
indeed this world of the country vivified by the thought and
briskness of town-bred folk which has produced that happy and
leisurely but eager life of which you have had a first taste.  Again
I say, many blunders were made, but we have had time to set them
right.  Much was left for the men of my earlier life to deal with.
The crude ideas of the first half of the twentieth century, when men
were still oppressed by the fear of poverty, and did not look enough
to the present pleasure of ordinary daily life, spoilt a great deal
of what the commercial age had left us of external beauty:  and I
admit that it was but slowly that men recovered from the injuries
that they inflicted on themselves even after they became free.  But
slowly as the recovery came, it DID come; and the more you see of us,
the clearer it will be to you that we are happy.  That we live amidst
beauty without any fear of becoming effeminate; that we have plenty
to do, and on the whole enjoy doing it.  What more can we ask of
life?"

He paused, as if he were seeking for words with which to express his
thought.  Then he said:

"This is how we stand.  England was once a country of clearings
amongst the woods and wastes, with a few towns interspersed, which
were fortresses for the feudal army, markets for the folk, gathering
places for the craftsmen.  It then became a country of huge and foul
workshops and fouler gambling-dens, surrounded by an ill-kept,
poverty-stricken farm, pillaged by the masters of the workshops.  It
is now a garden, where nothing is wasted and nothing is spoilt, with
the necessary dwellings, sheds, and workshops scattered up and down
the country, all trim and neat and pretty.  For, indeed, we should be
too much ashamed of ourselves if we allowed the making of goods, even
on a large scale, to carry with it the appearance, even, of
desolation and misery.  Why, my friend, those housewives we were
talking of just now would teach us better than that."

Said I:  "This side of your change is certainly for the better.  But
though I shall soon see some of these villages, tell me in a word or
two what they are like, just to prepare me."

"Perhaps," said he, "you have seen a tolerable picture of these
villages as they were before the end of the nineteenth century.  Such
things exist."

"I have seen several of such pictures," said I.

"Well," said Hammond, "our villages are something like the best of
such places, with the church or mote-house of the neighbours for
their chief building.  Only note that there are no tokens of poverty
about them:  no tumble-down picturesque; which, to tell you the
truth, the artist usually availed himself of to veil his incapacity
for drawing architecture.  Such things do not please us, even when
they indicate no misery.  Like the mediaevals, we like everything
trim and clean, and orderly and bright; as people always do when they
have any sense of architectural power; because then they know that
they can have what they want, and they won't stand any nonsense from
Nature in their dealings with her."

"Besides the villages, are there any scattered country houses?" said
I.

"Yes, plenty," said Hammond; "in fact, except in the wastes and
forests and amongst the sand-hills (like Hindhead in Surrey), it is
not easy to be out of sight of a house; and where the houses are
thinly scattered they run large, and are more like the old colleges
than ordinary houses as they used to be.  That is done for the sake
of society, for a good many people can dwell in such houses, as the
country dwellers are not necessarily husbandmen; though they almost
all help in such work at times.  The life that goes on in these big
dwellings in the country is very pleasant, especially as some of the
most studious men of our time live in them, and altogether there is a
great variety of mind and mood to be found in them which brightens
and quickens the society there."

"I am rather surprised," said I, "by all this, for it seems to me
that after all the country must be tolerably populous."

"Certainly," said he; "the population is pretty much the same as it
was at the end of the nineteenth century; we have spread it, that is
all.  Of course, also, we have helped to populate other countries--
where we were wanted and were called for."

Said I:  "One thing, it seems to me, does not go with your word of
'garden' for the country.  You have spoken of wastes and forests, and
I myself have seen the beginning of your Middlesex and Essex forest.
Why do you keep such things in a garden? and isn't it very wasteful
to do so?"

"My friend," he said, "we like these pieces of wild nature, and can
afford them, so we have them; let alone that as to the forests, we
need a great deal of timber, and suppose that our sons and sons' sons
will do the like.  As to the land being a garden, I have heard that
they used to have shrubberies and rockeries in gardens once; and
though I might not like the artificial ones, I assure you that some
of the natural rockeries of our garden are worth seeing.  Go north
this summer and look at the Cumberland and Westmoreland ones,--where,
by the way, you will see some sheep-feeding, so that they are not so
wasteful as you think; not so wasteful as forcing-grounds for fruit
out of season, _I_ think.  Go and have a look at the sheep-walks high
up the slopes between Ingleborough and Pen-y-gwent, and tell me if
you think we WASTE the land there by not covering it with factories
for making things that nobody wants, which was the chief business of
the nineteenth century."

"I will try to go there," said I.

"It won't take much trying," said he.



CHAPTER XI:  CONCERNING GOVERNMENT



"Now," said I, "I have come to the point of asking questions which I
suppose will be dry for you to answer and difficult for you to
explain; but I have foreseen for some time past that I must ask them,
will I 'nill I.  What kind of a government have you?  Has
republicanism finally triumphed? or have you come to a mere
dictatorship, which some persons in the nineteenth century used to
prophesy as the ultimate outcome of democracy?  Indeed, this last
question does not seem so very unreasonable, since you have turned
your Parliament House into a dung-market.  Or where do you house your
present Parliament?"

The old man answered my smile with a hearty laugh, and said:  "Well,
well, dung is not the worst kind of corruption; fertility may come of
that, whereas mere dearth came from the other kind, of which those
walls once held the great supporters.  Now, dear guest, let me tell
you that our present parliament would be hard to house in one place,
because the whole people is our parliament."

"I don't understand," said I.

"No, I suppose not," said he.  "I must now shock you by telling you
that we have no longer anything which you, a native of another
planet, would call a government."

"I am not so much shocked as you might think," said I, "as I know
something about governments.  But tell me, how do you manage, and how
have you come to this state of things?"

Said he:  "It is true that we have to make some arrangements about
our affairs, concerning which you can ask presently; and it is also
true that everybody does not always agree with the details of these
arrangements; but, further, it is true that a man no more needs an
elaborate system of government, with its army, navy, and police, to
force him to give way to the will of the majority of his EQUALS, than
he wants a similar machinery to make him understand that his head and
a stone wall cannot occupy the same space at the same moment.  Do you
want further explanation?"

"Well, yes, I do," quoth I.

Old Hammond settled himself in his chair with a look of enjoyment
which rather alarmed me, and made me dread a scientific disquisition:
so I sighed and abided.  He said:

"I suppose you know pretty well what the process of government was in
the bad old times?"

"I am supposed to know," said I.

(Hammond)  What was the government of those days?  Was it really the
Parliament or any part of it?

(I)  No.

(H.)  Was not the Parliament on the one side a kind of watch-
committee sitting to see that the interests of the Upper Classes took
no hurt; and on the other side a sort of blind to delude the people
into supposing that they had some share in the management of their
own affairs?

(I)  History seems to show us this.

(H.)  To what extent did the people manage their own affairs?

(I)  I judge from what I have heard that sometimes they forced the
Parliament to make a law to legalise some alteration which had
already taken place.

(H.)  Anything else?

(I)  I think not.  As I am informed, if the people made any attempt
to deal with the CAUSE of their grievances, the law stepped in and
said, this is sedition, revolt, or what not, and slew or tortured the
ringleaders of such attempts.

(H.)  If Parliament was not the government then, nor the people
either, what was the government?

(I)  Can you tell me?

(H.)  I think we shall not be far wrong if we say that government was
the Law-Courts, backed up by the executive, which handled the brute
force that the deluded people allowed them to use for their own
purposes; I mean the army, navy, and police.

(I)  Reasonable men must needs think you are right.

(H.)  Now as to those Law-Courts.  Were they places of fair dealing
according to the ideas of the day?  Had a poor man a good chance of
defending his property and person in them?

(I)  It is a commonplace that even rich men looked upon a law-suit as
a dire misfortune, even if they gained the case; and as for a poor
one--why, it was considered a miracle of justice and beneficence if a
poor man who had once got into the clutches of the law escaped prison
or utter ruin.

(H.)  It seems, then, my son, that the government by law-courts and
police, which was the real government of the nineteenth century, was
not a great success even to the people of that day, living under a
class system which proclaimed inequality and poverty as the law of
God and the bond which held the world together.

(I)  So it seems, indeed.

(H.)  And now that all this is changed, and the "rights of property,"
which mean the clenching the fist on a piece of goods and crying out
to the neighbours, You shan't have this!--now that all this has
disappeared so utterly that it is no longer possible even to jest
upon its absurdity, is such a Government possible?

(I)  It is impossible.

(H.)  Yes, happily.  But for what other purpose than the protection
of the rich from the poor, the strong from the weak, did this
Government exist?

(I.)  I have heard that it was said that their office was to defend
their own citizens against attack from other countries.

(H.)  It was said; but was anyone expected to believe this?  For
instance, did the English Government defend the English citizen
against the French?

(I)  So it was said.

(H.)  Then if the French had invaded England and conquered it, they
would not have allowed the English workmen to live well?

(I, laughing)  As far as I can make out, the English masters of the
English workmen saw to that:  they took from their workmen as much of
their livelihood as they dared, because they wanted it for
themselves.

(H.)  But if the French had conquered, would they not have taken more
still from the English workmen?

(I)  I do not think so; for in that case the English workmen would
have died of starvation; and then the French conquest would have
ruined the French, just as if the English horses and cattle had died
of under-feeding.  So that after all, the English WORKMEN would have
been no worse off for the conquest:  their French Masters could have
got no more from them than their English masters did.

(H.)  This is true; and we may admit that the pretensions of the
government to defend the poor (i.e., the useful) people against other
countries come to nothing.  But that is but natural; for we have seen
already that it was the function of government to protect the rich
against the poor.  But did not the government defend its rich men
against other nations?

(I)  I do not remember to have heard that the rich needed defence;
because it is said that even when two nations were at war, the rich
men of each nation gambled with each other pretty much as usual, and
even sold each other weapons wherewith to kill their own countrymen.

(H.)  In short, it comes to this, that whereas the so-called
government of protection of property by means of the law-courts meant
destruction of wealth, this defence of the citizens of one country
against those of another country by means of war or the threat of war
meant pretty much the same thing.

(I)  I cannot deny it.

(H.)  Therefore the government really existed for the destruction of
wealth?

(I)  So it seems.  And yet -

(H.)  Yet what?

(I)  There were many rich people in those times.

(H.)  You see the consequences of that fact?

(I)  I think I do.  But tell me out what they were.

(H.)  If the government habitually destroyed wealth, the country must
have been poor?

(I)  Yes, certainly.

(H.)  Yet amidst this poverty the persons for the sake of whom the
government existed insisted on being rich whatever might happen?

(I)  So it was.

(H.)  What must happen if in a poor country some people insist on
being rich at the expense of the others?

(I)  Unutterable poverty for the others.  All this misery, then, was
caused by the destructive government of which we have been speaking?

(H.)  Nay, it would be incorrect to say so.  The government itself
was but the necessary result of the careless, aimless tyranny of the
times; it was but the machinery of tyranny.  Now tyranny has come to
an end, and we no longer need such machinery; we could not possibly
use it since we are free.  Therefore in your sense of the word we
have no government.  Do you understand this now?

(I)  Yes, I do.  But I will ask you some more questions as to how you
as free men manage your affairs.

(H.)  With all my heart.  Ask away.



CHAPTER XII:  CONCERNING THE ARRANGEMENT OF LIFE



"Well," I said, "about those 'arrangements' which you spoke of as
taking the place of government, could you give me any account of
them?"

"Neighbour," he said, "although we have simplified our lives a great
deal from what they were, and have got rid of many conventionalities
and many sham wants, which used to give our forefathers much trouble,
yet our life is too complex for me to tell you in detail by means of
words how it is arranged; you must find that out by living amongst
us.  It is true that I can better tell you what we don't do, than
what we do do."

"Well?" said I.

"This is the way to put it," said he:  "We have been living for a
hundred and fifty years, at least, more or less in our present
manner, and a tradition or habit of life has been growing on us; and
that habit has become a habit of acting on the whole for the best.
It is easy for us to live without robbing each other.  It would be
possible for us to contend with and rob each other, but it would be
harder for us than refraining from strife and robbery.  That is in
short the foundation of our life and our happiness."

"Whereas in the old days," said I, "it was very hard to live without
strife and robbery.  That's what you mean, isn't it, by giving me the
negative side of your good conditions?"

"Yes," he said, "it was so hard, that those who habitually acted
fairly to their neighbours were celebrated as saints and heroes, and
were looked up to with the greatest reverence."

"While they were alive?" said I.

"No," said he, "after they were dead."

"But as to these days," I said; "you don't mean to tell me that no
one ever transgresses this habit of good fellowship?"

"Certainly not," said Hammond, "but when the transgressions occur,
everybody, transgressors and all, know them for what they are; the
errors of friends, not the habitual actions of persons driven into
enmity against society."

"I see," said I; "you mean that you have no 'criminal' classes."

"How could we have them," said he, "since there is no rich class to
breed enemies against the state by means of the injustice of the
state?"

Said I:  "I thought that I understood from something that fell from
you a little while ago that you had abolished civil law.  Is that so,
literally?"

"It abolished itself, my friend," said he.  "As I said before, the
civil law-courts were upheld for the defence of private property; for
nobody ever pretended that it was possible to make people act fairly
to each other by means of brute force.  Well, private property being
abolished, all the laws and all the legal 'crimes' which it had
manufactured of course came to an end.  Thou shalt not steal, had to
be translated into, Thou shalt work in order to live happily.  Is
there any need to enforce that commandment by violence?"

"Well," said I, "that is understood, and I agree with it; but how
about crimes of violence? would not their occurrence (and you admit
that they occur) make criminal law necessary?"

Said he:  "In your sense of the word, we have no criminal law either.
Let us look at the matter closer, and see whence crimes of violence
spring.  By far the greater part of these in past days were the
result of the laws of private property, which forbade the
satisfaction of their natural desires to all but a privileged few,
and of the general visible coercion which came of those laws.  All
that cause of violent crime is gone.  Again, many violent acts came
from the artificial perversion of the sexual passions, which caused
overweening jealousy and the like miseries.  Now, when you look
carefully into these, you will find that what lay at the bottom of
them was mostly the idea (a law-made idea) of the woman being the
property of the man, whether he were husband, father, brother, or
what not.  That idea has of course vanished with private property, as
well as certain follies about the 'ruin' of women for following their
natural desires in an illegal way, which of course was a convention
caused by the laws of private property.

"Another cognate cause of crimes of violence was the family tyranny,
which was the subject of so many novels and stories of the past, and
which once more was the result of private property.  Of course that
is all ended, since families are held together by no bond of
coercion, legal or social, but by mutual liking and affection, and
everybody is free to come or go as he or she pleases.  Furthermore,
our standards of honour and public estimation are very different from
the old ones; success in besting our neighbours is a road to renown
now closed, let us hope for ever.  Each man is free to exercise his
special faculty to the utmost, and every one encourages him in so
doing.  So that we have got rid of the scowling envy, coupled by the
poets with hatred, and surely with good reason; heaps of unhappiness
and ill-blood were caused by it, which with irritable and passionate
men--i.e., energetic and active men--often led to violence."

I laughed, and said:  "So that you now withdraw your admission, and
say that there is no violence amongst you?"

"No," said he, "I withdraw nothing; as I told you, such things will
happen.  Hot blood will err sometimes.  A man may strike another, and
the stricken strike back again, and the result be a homicide, to put
it at the worst.  But what then?  Shall we the neighbours make it
worse still?  Shall we think so poorly of each other as to suppose
that the slain man calls on us to revenge him, when we know that if
he had been maimed, he would, when in cold blood and able to weigh
all the circumstances, have forgiven his manner?  Or will the death
of the slayer bring the slain man to life again and cure the
unhappiness his loss has caused?"

"Yes," I said, "but consider, must not the safety of society be
safeguarded by some punishment?"

"There, neighbour!" said the old man, with some exultation "You have
hit the mark.  That PUNISHMENT of which men used to talk so wisely
and act so foolishly, what was it but the expression of their fear?
And they had need to fear, since they--i.e., the rulers of society--
were dwelling like an armed band in a hostile country.  But we who
live amongst our friends need neither fear nor punish.  Surely if we,
in dread of an occasional rare homicide, an occasional rough blow,
were solemnly and legally to commit homicide and violence, we could
only be a society of ferocious cowards.  Don't you think so,
neighbour?"

"Yes, I do, when I come to think of it from that side," said I.

"Yet you must understand," said the old man, "that when any violence
is committed, we expect the transgressor to make any atonement
possible to him, and he himself expects it.  But again, think if the
destruction or serious injury of a man momentarily overcome by wrath
or folly can be any atonement to the commonwealth?  Surely it can
only be an additional injury to it."

Said I:  "But suppose the man has a habit of violence,--kills a man a
year, for instance?"

"Such a thing is unknown," said he.  "In a society where there is no
punishment to evade, no law to triumph over, remorse will certainly
follow transgression."

"And lesser outbreaks of violence," said I, "how do you deal with
them? for hitherto we have been talking of great tragedies, I
suppose?"

Said Hammond:  "If the ill-doer is not sick or mad (in which case he
must be restrained till his sickness or madness is cured) it is clear
that grief and humiliation must follow the ill-deed; and society in
general will make that pretty clear to the ill-doer if he should
chance to be dull to it; and again, some kind of atonement will
follow,--at the least, an open acknowledgement of the grief and
humiliation.  Is it so hard to say, I ask your pardon, neighbour?--
Well, sometimes it is hard--and let it be."

"You think that enough?" said I.

"Yes," said he, "and moreover it is all that we CAN do.  If in
addition we torture the man, we turn his grief into anger, and the
humiliation he would otherwise feel for HIS wrong-doing is swallowed
up by a hope of revenge for OUR wrong-doing to him.  He has paid the
legal penalty, and can 'go and sin again' with comfort.  Shall we
commit such a folly, then?  Remember Jesus had got the legal penalty
remitted before he said 'Go and sin no more.'  Let alone that in a
society of equals you will not find any one to play the part of
torturer or jailer, though many to act as nurse or doctor."

"So," said I, "you consider crime a mere spasmodic disease, which
requires no body of criminal law to deal with it?"

"Pretty much so," said he; "and since, as I have told you, we are a
healthy people generally, so we are not likely to be much troubled
with THIS disease."

"Well, you have no civil law, and no criminal law.  But have you no
laws of the market, so to say--no regulation for the exchange of
wares? for you must exchange, even if you have no property."

Said he:  "We have no obvious individual exchange, as you saw this
morning when you went a-shopping; but of course there are regulations
of the markets, varying according to the circumstances and guided by
general custom.  But as these are matters of general assent, which
nobody dreams of objecting to, so also we have made no provision for
enforcing them:  therefore I don't call them laws.  In law, whether
it be criminal or civil, execution always follows judgment, and
someone must suffer.  When you see the judge on his bench, you see
through him, as clearly as if he were made of glass, the policeman to
emprison, and the soldier to slay some actual living person.  Such
follies would make an agreeable market, wouldn't they?"

"Certainly," said I, "that means turning the market into a mere
battle-field, in which many people must suffer as much as in the
battle-field of bullet and bayonet.  And from what I have seen I
should suppose that your marketing, great and little, is carried on
in a way that makes it a pleasant occupation."

"You are right, neighbour," said he.  "Although there are so many,
indeed by far the greater number amongst us, who would be unhappy if
they were not engaged in actually making things, and things which
turn out beautiful under their hands,--there are many, like the
housekeepers I was speaking of, whose delight is in administration
and organisation, to use long-tailed words; I mean people who like
keeping things together, avoiding waste, seeing that nothing sticks
fast uselessly.  Such people are thoroughly happy in their business,
all the more as they are dealing with actual facts, and not merely
passing counters round to see what share they shall have in the
privileged taxation of useful people, which was the business of the
commercial folk in past days.  Well, what are you going to ask me
next?"



CHAPTER XIII:  CONCERNING POLITICS



Said I:  "How do you manage with politics?"

Said Hammond, smiling:  "I am glad that it is of ME that you ask that
question; I do believe that anybody else would make you explain
yourself, or try to do so, till you were sickened of asking
questions.  Indeed, I believe I am the only man in England who would
know what you mean; and since I know, I will answer your question
briefly by saying that we are very well off as to politics,--because
we have none.  If ever you make a book out of this conversation, put
this in a chapter by itself, after the model of old Horrebow's Snakes
in Iceland."

"I will," said I.



CHAPTER XIV:  HOW MATTERS ARE MANAGED



Said I:  "How about your relations with foreign nations?"

"I will not affect not to know what you mean," said he, "but I will
tell you at once that the whole system of rival and contending
nations which played so great a part in the 'government' of the world
of civilisation has disappeared along with the inequality betwixt man
and man in society."

"Does not that make the world duller?" said I.

"Why?" said the old man.

"The obliteration of national variety," said I.

"Nonsense," he said, somewhat snappishly.  "Cross the water and see.
You will find plenty of variety:  the landscape, the building, the
diet, the amusements, all various.  The men and women varying in
looks as well as in habits of thought; the costume far more various
than in the commercial period.  How should it add to the variety or
dispel the dulness, to coerce certain families or tribes, often
heterogeneous and jarring with one another, into certain artificial
and mechanical groups, and call them nations, and stimulate their
patriotism--i.e., their foolish and envious prejudices?"

"Well--I don't know how," said I.

"That's right," said Hammond cheerily; "you can easily understand
that now we are freed from this folly it is obvious to us that by
means of this very diversity the different strains of blood in the
world can be serviceable and pleasant to each other, without in the
least wanting to rob each other:  we are all bent on the same
enterprise, making the most of our lives.  And I must tell you
whatever quarrels or misunderstandings arise, they very seldom take
place between people of different race; and consequently since there
is less unreason in them, they are the more readily appeased."

"Good," said I, "but as to those matters of politics; as to general
differences of opinion in one and the same community.  Do you assert
that there are none?"

"No, not at all," said he, somewhat snappishly; "but I do say that
differences of opinion about real solid things need not, and with us
do not, crystallise people into parties permanently hostile to one
another, with different theories as to the build of the universe and
the progress of time.  Isn't that what politics used to mean?"

"H'm, well," said I, "I am not so sure of that."

Said he:  "I take, you, neighbour; they only PRETENDED to this
serious difference of opinion; for if it had existed they could not
have dealt together in the ordinary business of life; couldn't have
eaten together, bought and sold together, gambled together, cheated
other people together, but must have fought whenever they met:  which
would not have suited them at all.  The game of the masters of
politics was to cajole or force the public to pay the expense of a
luxurious life and exciting amusement for a few cliques of ambitious
persons:  and the PRETENCE of serious difference of opinion, belied
by every action of their lives, was quite good enough for that.  What
has all that got to do with us?"

Said I:  "Why, nothing, I should hope.  But I fear--In short, I have
been told that political strife was a necessary result of human
nature."

"Human nature!" cried the old boy, impetuously; "what human nature?
The human nature of paupers, of slaves, of slave-holders, or the
human nature of wealthy freemen?  Which?  Come, tell me that!"

"Well," said I, "I suppose there would be a difference according to
circumstances in people's action about these matters."

"I should think so, indeed," said he.  "At all events, experience
shows that it is so.  Amongst us, our differences concern matters of
business, and passing events as to them, and could not divide men
permanently.  As a rule, the immediate outcome shows which opinion on
a given subject is the right one; it is a matter of fact, not of
speculation.  For instance, it is clearly not easy to knock up a
political party on the question as to whether haymaking in such and
such a country-side shall begin this week or next, when all men agree
that it must at latest begin the week after next, and when any man
can go down into the fields himself and see whether the seeds are
ripe enough for the cutting."

Said I:  "And you settle these differences, great and small, by the
will of the majority, I suppose?"

"Certainly," said he; "how else could we settle them?  You see in
matters which are merely personal which do not affect the welfare of
the community--how a man shall dress, what he shall eat and drink,
what he shall write and read, and so forth--there can be no
difference of opinion, and everybody does as he pleases.  But when
the matter is of common interest to the whole community, and the
doing or not doing something affects everybody, the majority must
have their way; unless the minority were to take up arms and show by
force that they were the effective or real majority; which, however,
in a society of men who are free and equal is little likely to
happen; because in such a community the apparent majority IS the real
majority, and the others, as I have hinted before, know that too well
to obstruct from mere pigheadedness; especially as they have had
plenty of opportunity of putting forward their side of the question."

"How is that managed?" said I.

"Well," said he, "let us take one of our units of management, a
commune, or a ward, or a parish (for we have all three names,
indicating little real distinction between them now, though time was
there was a good deal).  In such a district, as you would call it,
some neighbours think that something ought to be done or undone:  a
new town-hall built; a clearance of inconvenient houses; or say a
stone bridge substituted for some ugly old iron one,--there you have
undoing and doing in one.  Well, at the next ordinary meeting of the
neighbours, or Mote, as we call it, according to the ancient tongue
of the times before bureaucracy, a neighbour proposes the change, and
of course, if everybody agrees, there is an end of discussion, except
about details.  Equally, if no one backs the proposer,--'seconds
him,' it used to be called--the matter drops for the time being; a
thing not likely to happen amongst reasonable men, however, as the
proposer is sure to have talked it over with others before the Mote.
But supposing the affair proposed and seconded, if a few of the
neighbours disagree to it, if they think that the beastly iron bridge
will serve a little longer and they don't want to be bothered with
building a new one just then, they don't count heads that time, but
put off the formal discussion to the next Mote; and meantime
arguments pro and con are flying about, and some get printed, so that
everybody knows what is going on; and when the Mote comes together
again there is a regular discussion and at last a vote by show of
hands.  If the division is a close one, the question is again put off
for further discussion; if the division is a wide one, the minority
are asked if they will yield to the more general opinion, which they
often, nay, most commonly do.  If they refuse, the question is
debated a third time, when, if the minority has not perceptibly
grown, they always give way; though I believe there is some half-
forgotten rule by which they might still carry it on further; but I
say, what always happens is that they are convinced, not perhaps that
their view is the wrong one, but they cannot persuade or force the
community to adopt it."

"Very good," said I; "but what happens if the divisions are still
narrow?"

Said he:  "As a matter of principle and according to the rule of such
cases, the question must then lapse, and the majority, if so narrow,
has to submit to sitting down under the status quo.  But I must tell
you that in point of fact the minority very seldom enforces this
rule, but generally yields in a friendly manner."

"But do you know," said I, "that there is something in all this very
like democracy; and I thought that democracy was considered to be in
a moribund condition many, many years ago."

The old boy's eyes twinkled.  "I grant you that our methods have that
drawback.  But what is to be done?  We can't get ANYONE amongst us to
complain of his not always having his own way in the teeth of the
community, when it is clear that EVERYBODY cannot have that
indulgence.  What is to be done?"

"Well," said I, "I don't know."

Said he:  "The only alternatives to our method that I can conceive of
are these.  First, that we should choose out, or breed, a class of
superior persons capable of judging on all matters without consulting
the neighbours; that, in short, we should get for ourselves what used
to be called an aristocracy of intellect; or, secondly, that for the
purpose of safe-guarding the freedom of the individual will, we
should revert to a system of private property again, and have slaves
and slave-holders once more.  What do you think of those two
expedients?"

"Well," said I, "there is a third possibility--to wit, that every man
should be quite independent of every other, and that thus the tyranny
of society should be abolished."

He looked hard at me for a second or two, and then burst out laughing
very heartily; and I confess that I joined him.  When he recovered
himself he nodded at me, and said:  "Yes, yes, I quite agree with
you--and so we all do."

"Yes," I said, "and besides, it does not press hardly on the
minority:  for, take this matter of the bridge, no man is obliged to
work on it if he doesn't agree to its building.  At least, I suppose
not."

He smiled, and said:  "Shrewdly put; and yet from the point of view
of the native of another planet.  If the man of the minority does
find his feelings hurt, doubtless he may relieve them by refusing to
help in building the bridge.  But, dear neighbour, that is not a very
effective salve for the wound caused by the 'tyranny of a majority'
in our society; because all work that is done is either beneficial or
hurtful to every member of society.  The man is benefited by the
bridge-building if it turns out a good thing, and hurt by it if it
turns out a bad one, whether he puts a hand to it or not; and
meanwhile he is benefiting the bridge-builders by his work, whatever
that may be.  In fact, I see no help for him except the pleasure of
saying 'I told you so' if the bridge-building turns out to be a
mistake and hurts him; if it benefits him he must suffer in silence.
A terrible tyranny our Communism, is it not?  Folk used often to be
warned against this very unhappiness in times past, when for every
well-fed, contented person you saw a thousand miserable starvelings.
Whereas for us, we grow fat and well-liking on the tyranny; a
tyranny, to say the truth, not to be made visible by any microscope I
know.  Don't be afraid, my friend; we are not going to seek for
troubles by calling our peace and plenty and happiness by ill names
whose very meaning we have forgotten!"

He sat musing for a little, and then started and said:  "Are there
any more questions, dear guest?  The morning is waning fast amidst my
garrulity?'



CHAPTER XV:  ON THE LACK OF INCENTIVE TO LABOUR IN A COMMUNIST
SOCIETY



"Yes," said I.  "I was expecting Dick and Clara to make their
appearance any moment:  but is there time to ask just one or two
questions before they come?"

"Try it, dear neighbour--try it," said old Hammond.  "For the more
you ask me the better I am pleased; and at any rate if they do come
and find me in the middle of an answer, they must sit quiet and
pretend to listen till I come to an end.  It won't hurt them; they
will find it quite amusing enough to sit side by side, conscious of
their proximity to each other."

I smiled, as I was bound to, and said:  "Good; I will go on talking
without noticing them when they come in.  Now, this is what I want to
ask you about--to wit, how you get people to work when there is no
reward of labour, and especially how you get them to work
strenuously?"

"No reward of labour?" said Hammond, gravely.  "The reward of labour
is LIFE.  Is that not enough?"

"But no reward for especially good work," quoth I.

"Plenty of reward," said he--"the reward of creation.  The wages
which God gets, as people might have said time agone.  If you are
going to ask to be paid for the pleasure of creation, which is what
excellence in work means, the next thing we shall hear of will be a
bill sent in for the begetting of children."

"Well, but," said I, "the man of the nineteenth century would say
there is a natural desire towards the procreation of children, and a
natural desire not to work."

"Yes, yes," said he, "I know the ancient platitude,--wholly untrue;
indeed, to us quite meaningless.  Fourier, whom all men laughed at,
understood the matter better."

"Why is it meaningless to you?" said I.

He said:  "Because it implies that all work is suffering, and we are
so far from thinking that, that, as you may have noticed, whereas we
are not short of wealth, there is a kind of fear growing up amongst
us that we shall one day be short of work.  It is a pleasure which we
are afraid of losing, not a pain."

"Yes," said I, "I have noticed that, and I was going to ask you about
that also.  But in the meantime, what do you positively mean to
assert about the pleasurableness of work amongst you?"

"This, that ALL work is now pleasurable; either because of the hope
of gain in honour and wealth with which the work is done, which
causes pleasurable excitement, even when the actual work is not
pleasant; or else because it has grown into a pleasurable HABIT, as
in the case with what you may call mechanical work; and lastly (and
most of our work is of this kind) because there is conscious sensuous
pleasure in the work itself; it is done, that is, by artists."

"I see," said I.  "Can you now tell me how you have come to this
happy condition?  For, to speak plainly, this change from the
conditions of the older world seems to me far greater and more
important than all the other changes you have told me about as to
crime, politics, property, marriage."

"You are right there," said he.  "Indeed, you may say rather that it
is this change which makes all the others possible.  What is the
object of Revolution?  Surely to make people happy.  Revolution
having brought its foredoomed change about, how can you prevent the
counter-revolution from setting in except by making people happy?
What! shall we expect peace and stability from unhappiness?  The
gathering of grapes from thorns and figs from thistles is a
reasonable expectation compared with that!  And happiness without
happy daily work is impossible."

"Most obviously true," said I:  for I thought the old boy was
preaching a little.  "But answer my question, as to how you gained
this happiness."

"Briefly," said he, "by the absence of artificial coercion, and the
freedom for every man to do what he can do best, joined to the
knowledge of what productions of labour we really wanted.  I must
admit that this knowledge we reached slowly and painfully."

"Go on," said I, "give me more detail; explain more fully.  For this
subject interests me intensely."

"Yes, I will," said he; "but in order to do so I must weary you by
talking a little about the past.  Contrast is necessary for this
explanation.  Do you mind?"

"No, no," said I.

Said he, settling himself in his chair again for a long talk:  "It is
clear from all that we hear and read, that in the last age of
civilisation men had got into a vicious circle in the matter of
production of wares.  They had reached a wonderful facility of
production, and in order to make the most of that facility they had
gradually created (or allowed to grow, rather) a most elaborate
system of buying and selling, which has been called the World-Market;
and that World-Market, once set a-going, forced them to go on making
more and more of these wares, whether they needed them or not.  So
that while (of course) they could not free themselves from the toil
of making real necessaries, they created in a never-ending series
sham or artificial necessaries, which became, under the iron rule of
the aforesaid World-Market, of equal importance to them with the real
necessaries which supported life.  By all this they burdened
themselves with a prodigious mass of work merely for the sake of
keeping their wretched system going."

"Yes--and then?" said I.

"Why, then, since they had forced themselves to stagger along under
this horrible burden of unnecessary production, it became impossible
for them to look upon labour and its results from any other point of
view than one--to wit, the ceaseless endeavour to expend the least
possible amount of labour on any article made, and yet at the same
time to make as many articles as possible.  To this 'cheapening of
production', as it was called, everything was sacrificed:  the
happiness of the workman at his work, nay, his most elementary
comfort and bare health, his food, his clothes, his dwelling, his
leisure, his amusement, his education--his life, in short--did not
weigh a grain of sand in the balance against this dire necessity of
'cheap production' of things, a great part of which were not worth
producing at all.  Nay, we are told, and we must believe it, so
overwhelming is the evidence, though many of our people scarcely CAN
believe it, that even rich and powerful men, the masters of the poor
devils aforesaid, submitted to live amidst sights and sounds and
smells which it is in the very nature of man to abhor and flee from,
in order that their riches might bolster up this supreme folly.  The
whole community, in fact, was cast into the jaws of this ravening
monster, 'the cheap production' forced upon it by the World-Market."

"Dear me!" said I.  "But what happened?  Did not their cleverness and
facility in production master this chaos of misery at last?  Couldn't
they catch up with the World-Market, and then set to work to devise
means for relieving themselves from this fearful task of extra
labour?"

He smiled bitterly.  "Did they even try to?" said he.  "I am not
sure.  You know that according to the old saw the beetle gets used to
living in dung; and these people, whether they found the dung sweet
or not, certainly lived in it."

His estimate of the life of the nineteenth century made me catch my
breath a little; and I said feebly, "But the labour-saving machines?"

"Heyday!" quoth he.  "What's that you are saying? the labour-saving
machines?  Yes, they were made to 'save labour' (or, to speak more
plainly, the lives of men) on one piece of work in order that it
might be expended--I will say wasted--on another, probably useless,
piece of work.  Friend, all their devices for cheapening labour
simply resulted in increasing the burden of labour.  The appetite of
the World-Market grew with what it fed on:  the countries within the
ring of 'civilisation' (that is, organised misery) were glutted with
the abortions of the market, and force and fraud were used
unsparingly to 'open up' countries OUTSIDE that pale.  This process
of 'opening up' is a strange one to those who have read the
professions of the men of that period and do not understand their
practice; and perhaps shows us at its worst the great vice of the
nineteenth century, the use of hypocrisy and cant to evade the
responsibility of vicarious ferocity.  When the civilised World-
Market coveted a country not yet in its clutches, some transparent
pretext was found--the suppression of a slavery different from and
not so cruel as that of commerce; the pushing of a religion no longer
believed in by its promoters; the 'rescue' of some desperado or
homicidal madman whose misdeeds had got him into trouble amongst the
natives of the 'barbarous' country--any stick, in short, which would
beat the dog at all.  Then some bold, unprincipled, ignorant
adventurer was found (no difficult task in the days of competition),
and he was bribed to 'create a market' by breaking up whatever
traditional society there might be in the doomed country, and by
destroying whatever leisure or pleasure he found there.  He forced
wares on the natives which they did not want, and took their natural
products in 'exchange,' as this form of robbery was called, and
thereby he 'created new wants,' to supply which (that is, to be
allowed to live by their new masters) the hapless, helpless people
had to sell themselves into the slavery of hopeless toil so that they
might have something wherewith to purchase the nullities of
'civilisation.'  Ah," said the old man, pointing the dealings of to
the Museum, "I have read books and papers in there, telling strange
stories indeed of civilisation (or organised misery) with 'non-
civilisation'; from the time when the British Government deliberately
sent blankets infected with small-pox as choice gifts to inconvenient
tribes of Red-skins, to the time when Africa was infested by a man
named Stanley, who--"

"Excuse me," said I, "but as you know, time presses; and I want to
keep our question on the straightest line possible; and I want at
once to ask this about these wares made for the World-Market--how
about their quality; these people who were so clever about making
goods, I suppose they made them well?"

"Quality!" said the old man crustily, for he was rather peevish at
being cut short in his story; "how could they possibly attend to such
trifles as the quality of the wares they sold?  The best of them were
of a lowish average, the worst were transparent make-shifts for the
things asked for, which nobody would have put up with if they could
have got anything else.  It was a current jest of the time that the
wares were made to sell and not to use; a jest which you, as coming
from another planet, may understand, but which our folk could not."

Said I:  "What! did they make nothing well?"

"Why, yes," said he, "there was one class of goods which they did
make thoroughly well, and that was the class of machines which were
used for making things.  These were usually quite perfect pieces of
workmanship, admirably adapted to the end in view.  So that it may be
fairly said that the great achievement of the nineteenth century was
the making of machines which were wonders of invention, skill, and
patience, and which were used for the production of measureless
quantities of worthless make-shifts.  In truth, the owners of the
machines did not consider anything which they made as wares, but
simply as means for the enrichment of themselves.  Of course the only
admitted test of utility in wares was the finding of buyers for them-
-wise men or fools, as it might chance."

"And people put up with this?" said I.

"For a time," said he.

"And then?"

"And then the overturn," said the old man, smiling, "and the
nineteenth century saw itself as a man who has lost his clothes
whilst bathing, and has to walk naked through the town."

"You are very bitter about that unlucky nineteenth century," said I.

"Naturally," said he, "since I know so much about it."

He was silent a little, and then said:  "There are traditions--nay,
real histories--in our family about it:  my grandfather was one of
its victims.  If you know something about it, you will understand
what he suffered when I tell you that he was in those days a genuine
artist, a man of genius, and a revolutionist."

"I think I do understand," said I:  "but now, as it seems, you have
reversed all this?"

"Pretty much so," said he.  "The wares which we make are made because
they are needed:  men make for their neighbours' use as if they were
making for themselves, not for a vague market of which they know
nothing, and over which they have no control:  as there is no buying
and selling, it would be mere insanity to make goods on the chance of
their being wanted; for there is no longer anyone who can be
compelled to buy them.  So that whatever is made is good, and
thoroughly fit for its purpose.  Nothing can be made except for
genuine use; therefore no inferior goods are made.  Moreover, as
aforesaid, we have now found out what we want, so we make no more
than we want; and as we are not driven to make a vast quantity of
useless things we have time and resources enough to consider our
pleasure in making them.  All work which would be irksome to do by
hand is done by immensely improved machinery; and in all work which
it is a pleasure to do by hand machinery is done without.  There is
no difficulty in finding work which suits the special turn of mind of
everybody; so that no man is sacrificed to the wants of another.
From time to time, when we have found out that some piece of work was
too disagreeable or troublesome, we have given it up and done
altogether without the thing produced by it.  Now, surely you can see
that under these circumstances all the work that we do is an exercise
of the mind and body more or less pleasant to be done:  so that
instead of avoiding work everybody seeks it:  and, since people have
got defter in doing the work generation after generation, it has
become so easy to do, that it seems as if there were less done,
though probably more is produced.  I suppose this explains that fear,
which I hinted at just now, of a possible scarcity in work, which
perhaps you have already noticed, and which is a feeling on the
increase, and has been for a score of years."

"But do you think," said I, "that there is any fear of a work-famine
amongst you?"

"No, I do not," said he, "and I will tell why; it is each man's
business to make his own work pleasanter and pleasanter, which of
course tends towards raising the standard of excellence, as no man
enjoys turning out work which is not a credit to him, and also to
greater deliberation in turning it out; and there is such a vast
number of things which can be treated as works of art, that this
alone gives employment to a host of deft people.  Again, if art be
inexhaustible, so is science also; and though it is no longer the
only innocent occupation which is thought worth an intelligent man
spending his time upon, as it once was, yet there are, and I suppose
will be, many people who are excited by its conquest of difficulties,
and care for it more than for anything else.  Again, as more and more
of pleasure is imported into work, I think we shall take up kinds of
work which produce desirable wares, but which we gave up because we
could not carry them on pleasantly.  Moreover, I think that it is
only in parts of Europe which are more advanced than the rest of the
world that you will hear this talk of the fear of a work-famine.
Those lands which were once the colonies of Great Britain, for
instance, and especially America--that part of it, above all, which
was once the United states--are now and will be for a long while a
great resource to us.  For these lands, and, I say, especially the
northern parts of America, suffered so terribly from the full force
of the last days of civilisation, and became such horrible places to
live in, that they are now very backward in all that makes life
pleasant.  Indeed, one may say that for nearly a hundred years the
people of the northern parts of America have been engaged in
gradually making a dwelling-place out of a stinking dust-heap; and
there is still a great deal to do, especially as the country is so
big."

"Well," said I, "I am exceedingly glad to think that you have such a
prospect of happiness before you.  But I should like to ask a few
more questions, and then I have done for to-day."



CHAPTER XVI:  DINNER IN THE HALL OF THE BLOOMSBURY MARKET



As I spoke, I heard footsteps near the door; the latch yielded, and
in came our two lovers, looking so handsome that one had no feeling
of shame in looking on at their little-concealed love-making; for
indeed it seemed as if all the world must be in love with them.  As
for old Hammond, he looked on them like an artist who has just
painted a picture nearly as well as he thought he could when he began
it, and was perfectly happy.  He said:

"Sit down, sit down, young folk, and don't make a noise.  Our guest
here has still some questions to ask me."

"Well, I should suppose so," said Dick; "you have only been three
hours and a half together; and it isn't to be hoped that the history
of two centuries could be told in three hours and a half:  let alone
that, for all I know, you may have been wandering into the realms of
geography and craftsmanship."

"As to noise, my dear kinsman," said Clara, "you will very soon be
disturbed by the noise of the dinner-bell, which I should think will
be very pleasant music to our guest, who breakfasted early, it seems,
and probably had a tiring day yesterday."

I said:  "Well, since you have spoken the word, I begin to feel that
it is so; but I have been feeding myself with wonder this long time
past:  really, it's quite true," quoth I, as I saw her smile, O so
prettily!  But just then from some tower high up in the air came the
sound of silvery chimes playing a sweet clear tune, that sounded to
my unaccustomed ears like the song of the first blackbird in the
spring, and called a rush of memories to my mind, some of bad times,
some of good, but all sweetened now into mere pleasure.

"No more questions now before dinner," said Clara; and she took my
hand as an affectionate child would, and led me out of the room and
down stairs into the forecourt of the Museum, leaving the two
Hammonds to follow as they pleased.

We went into the market-place which I had been in before, a thinnish
stream of elegantly {1} dressed people going in along with us.  We
turned into the cloister and came to a richly moulded and carved
doorway, where a very pretty dark-haired young girl gave us each a
beautiful bunch of summer flowers, and we entered a hall much bigger
than that of the Hammersmith Guest House, more elaborate in its
architecture and perhaps more beautiful.  I found it difficult to
keep my eyes off the wall-pictures (for I thought it bad manners to
stare at Clara all the time, though she was quite worth it).  I saw
at a glance that their subjects were taken from queer old-world myths
and imaginations which in yesterday's world only about half a dozen
people in the country knew anything about; and when the two Hammonds
sat down opposite to us, I said to the old man, pointing to the
frieze:

"How strange to see such subjects here!"

"Why?" said he.  "I don't see why you should be surprised; everybody
knows the tales; and they are graceful and pleasant subjects, not too
tragic for a place where people mostly eat and drink and amuse
themselves, and yet full of incident."

I smiled, and said:  "Well, I scarcely expected to find record of the
Seven Swans and the King of the Golden Mountain and Faithful Henry,
and such curious pleasant imaginations as Jacob Grimm got together
from the childhood of the world, barely lingering even in his time:
I should have thought you would have forgotten such childishness by
this time."

The old man smiled, and said nothing; but Dick turned rather red, and
broke out:

"What DO you mean, guest?  I think them very beautiful, I mean not
only the pictures, but the stories; and when we were children we used
to imagine them going on in every wood-end, by the bight of every
stream:  every house in the fields was the Fairyland King's House to
us.  Don't you remember, Clara?"

"Yes," she said; and it seemed to me as if a slight cloud came over
her fair face.  I was going to speak to her on the subject, when the
pretty waitresses came to us smiling, and chattering sweetly like
reed warblers by the river side, and fell to giving us our dinner.
As to this, as at our breakfast, everything was cooked and served
with a daintiness which showed that those who had prepared it were
interested in it; but there was no excess either of quantity or of
gourmandise; everything was simple, though so excellent of its kind;
and it was made clear to us that this was no feast, only an ordinary
meal.  The glass, crockery, and plate were very beautiful to my eyes,
used to the study of mediaeval art; but a nineteenth-century club-
haunter would, I daresay, have found them rough and lacking in
finish; the crockery being lead-glazed pot-ware, though beautifully
ornamented; the only porcelain being here and there a piece of old
oriental ware.  The glass, again, though elegant and quaint, and very
varied in form, was somewhat bubbled and hornier in texture than the
commercial articles of the nineteenth century.  The furniture and
general fittings of the ball were much of a piece with the table-
gear, beautiful in form and highly ornamented, but without the
commercial "finish" of the joiners and cabinet-makers of our time.
Withal, there was a total absence of what the nineteenth century
calls "comfort"--that is, stuffy inconvenience; so that, even apart
from the delightful excitement of the day, I had never eaten my
dinner so pleasantly before.

When we had done eating, and were sitting a little while, with a
bottle of very good Bordeaux wine before us, Clara came back to the
question of the subject-matter of the pictures, as though it had
troubled her.

She looked up at them, and said:  "How is it that though we are so
interested with our life for the most part, yet when people take to
writing poems or painting pictures they seldom deal with our modern
life, or if they do, take good care to make their poems or pictures
unlike that life?  Are we not good enough to paint ourselves?  How is
it that we find the dreadful times of the past so interesting to us--
in pictures and poetry?"

Old Hammond smiled.  "It always was so, and I suppose always will
be," said he, "however it may be explained.  It is true that in the
nineteenth century, when there was so little art and so much talk
about it, there was a theory that art and imaginative literature
ought to deal with contemporary life; but they never did so; for, if
there was any pretence of it, the author always took care (as Clara
hinted just now) to disguise, or exaggerate, or idealise, and in some
way or another make it strange; so that, for all the verisimilitude
there was, he might just as well have dealt with the times of the
Pharaohs."

"Well," said Dick, "surely it is but natural to like these things
strange; just as when we were children, as I said just now, we used
to pretend to be so-and-so in such-and-such a place.  That's what
these pictures and poems do; and why shouldn't they?"

"Thou hast hit it, Dick," quoth old Hammond; "it is the child-like
part of us that produces works of imagination.  When we are children
time passes so slow with us that we seem to have time for
everything."

He sighed, and then smiled and said:  "At least let us rejoice that
we have got back our childhood again.  I drink to the days that are!"

"Second childhood," said I in a low voice, and then blushed at my
double rudeness, and hoped that he hadn't heard.  But he had, and
turned to me smiling, and said:  "Yes, why not?  And for my part, I
hope it may last long; and that the world's next period of wise and
unhappy manhood, if that should happen, will speedily lead us to a
third childhood:  if indeed this age be not our third.  Meantime, my
friend, you must know that we are too happy, both individually and
collectively, to trouble ourselves about what is to come hereafter."

"Well, for my part," said Clara, "I wish we were interesting enough
to be written or painted about."

Dick answered her with some lover's speech, impossible to be written
down, and then we sat quiet a little.



CHAPTER XVII:  HOW THE CHANGE CAME



Dick broke the silence at last, saying:  "Guest, forgive us for a
little after-dinner dulness.  What would you like to do?  Shall we
have out Greylocks and trot back to Hammersmith? or will you come
with us and hear some Welsh folk sing in a hall close by here? or
would you like presently to come with me into the City and see some
really fine building? or--what shall it be?"

"Well," said I, "as I am a stranger, I must let you choose for me."

In point of fact, I did not by any means want to be 'amused' just
then; and also I rather felt as if the old man, with his knowledge of
past times, and even a kind of inverted sympathy for them caused by
his active hatred of them, was as it were a blanket for me against
the cold of this very new world, where I was, so to say, stripped
bare of every habitual thought and way of acting; and I did not want
to leave him too soon.  He came to my rescue at once, and said -

"Wait a bit, Dick; there is someone else to be consulted besides you
and the guest here, and that is I.  I am not going to lose the
pleasure of his company just now, especially as I know he has
something else to ask me.  So go to your Welshmen, by all means; but
first of all bring us another bottle of wine to this nook, and then
be off as soon as you like; and come again and fetch our friend to go
westward, but not too soon."

Dick nodded smilingly, and the old man and I were soon alone in the
great hall, the afternoon sun gleaming on the red wine in our tall
quaint-shaped glasses.  Then said Hammond:

"Does anything especially puzzle you about our way of living, now you
have heard a good deal and seen a little of it?"

Said I:  "I think what puzzles me most is how it all came about."

"It well may," said he, "so great as the change is.  It would be
difficult indeed to tell you the whole story, perhaps impossible:
knowledge, discontent, treachery, disappointment, ruin, misery,
despair--those who worked for the change because they could see
further than other people went through all these phases of suffering;
and doubtless all the time the most of men looked on, not knowing
what was doing, thinking it all a matter of course, like the rising
and setting of the sun--and indeed it was so."

"Tell me one thing, if you can," said I.  "Did the change, the
'revolution' it used to be called, come peacefully?"

"Peacefully?" said he; "what peace was there amongst those poor
confused wretches of the nineteenth century?  It was war from
beginning to end:  bitter war, till hope and pleasure put an end to
it."

"Do you mean actual fighting with weapons?" said I, "or the strikes
and lock-outs and starvation of which we have heard?"

"Both, both," he said.  "As a matter of fact, the history of the
terrible period of transition from commercial slavery to freedom may
thus be summarised.  When the hope of realising a communal condition
of life for all men arose, quite late in the nineteenth century, the
power of the middle classes, the then tyrants of society, was so
enormous and crushing, that to almost all men, even those who had,
you may say despite themselves, despite their reason and judgment,
conceived such hopes, it seemed a dream.  So much was this the case
that some of those more enlightened men who were then called
Socialists, although they well knew, and even stated in public, that
the only reasonable condition of Society was that of pure Communism
(such as you now see around you), yet shrunk from what seemed to them
the barren task of preaching the realisation of a happy dream.
Looking back now, we can see that the great motive-power of the
change was a longing for freedom and equality, akin if you please to
the unreasonable passion of the lover; a sickness of heart that
rejected with loathing the aimless solitary life of the well-to-do
educated man of that time:  phrases, my dear friend, which have lost
their meaning to us of the present day; so far removed we are from
the dreadful facts which they represent.

"Well, these men, though conscious of this feeling, had no faith in
it, as a means of bringing about the change.  Nor was that wonderful:
for looking around them they saw the huge mass of the oppressed
classes too much burdened with the misery of their lives, and too
much overwhelmed by the selfishness of misery, to be able to form a
conception of any escape from it except by the ordinary way
prescribed by the system of slavery under which they lived; which was
nothing more than a remote chance of climbing out of the oppressed
into the oppressing class.

"Therefore, though they knew that the only reasonable aim for those
who would better the world was a condition of equality; in their
impatience and despair they managed to convince themselves that if
they could by hook or by crook get the machinery of production and
the management of property so altered that the 'lower classes' (so
the horrible word ran) might have their slavery somewhat ameliorated,
they would be ready to fit into this machinery, and would use it for
bettering their condition still more and still more, until at last
the result would be a practical equality (they were very fond of
using the word 'practical'), because 'the rich' would be forced to
pay so much for keeping 'the poor' in a tolerable condition that the
condition of riches would become no longer valuable and would
gradually die out.  Do you follow me?"

"Partly," said I.  "Go on."

Said old Hammond:  "Well, since you follow me, you will see that as a
theory this was not altogether unreasonable; but 'practically,' it
turned out a failure."

"How so?" said I.

"Well, don't you see," said he, "because it involved the making of a
machinery by those who didn't know what they wanted the machines to
do.  So far as the masses of the oppressed class furthered this
scheme of improvement, they did it to get themselves improved slave-
rations--as many of them as could.  And if those classes had really
been incapable of being touched by that instinct which produced the
passion for freedom and equality aforesaid, what would have happened,
I think, would have been this:  that a certain part of the working
classes would have been so far improved in condition that they would
have approached the condition of the middling rich men; but below
them would have been a great class of most miserable slaves, whose
slavery would have been far more hopeless than the older class-
slavery had been."

"What stood in the way of this?" said I.

"'Why, of course," said he, "just that instinct for freedom
aforesaid.  It is true that the slave-class could not conceive the
happiness of a free life.  Yet they grew to understand (and very
speedily too) that they were oppressed by their masters, and they
assumed, you see how justly, that they could do without them, though
perhaps they scarce knew how; so that it came to this, that though
they could not look forward to the happiness or peace of the freeman,
they did at least look forward to the war which a vague hope told
them would bring that peace about."

"Could you tell me rather more closely what actually took place?"
said I; for I thought HIM rather vague here.

"Yes," he said, "I can.  That machinery of life for the use of people
who didn't know what they wanted of it, and which was known at the
time as State Socialism, was partly put in motion, though in a very
piecemeal way.  But it did not work smoothly; it was, of course,
resisted at every turn by the capitalists; and no wonder, for it
tended more and more to upset the commercial system I have told you
of; without providing anything really effective in its place.  The
result was growing confusion, great suffering amongst the working
classes, and, as a consequence, great discontent.  For a long time
matters went on like this.  The power of the upper classes had
lessened, as their command over wealth lessened, and they could not
carry things wholly by the high hand as they had been used to in
earlier days.  So far the State Socialists were justified by the
result.  On the other hand, the working classes were ill-organised,
and growing poorer in reality, in spite of the gains (also real in
the long run) which they had forced from the masters.  Thus matters
hung in the balance; the masters could not reduce their slaves to
complete subjection, though they put down some feeble and partial
riots easily enough.  The workers forced their masters to grant them
ameliorations, real or imaginary, of their condition, but could not
force freedom from them.  At last came a great crash.  To explain
this you must understand that very great progress had been made
amongst the workers, though as before said but little in the
direction of improved livelihood."

I played the innocent and said:  "In what direction could they
improve, if not in livelihood?"

Said he:  "In the power to bring about a state of things in which
livelihood would be full, and easy to gain.  They had at last learned
how to combine after a long period of mistakes and disasters.  The
workmen had now a regular organization in the struggle against their
masters, a struggle which for more than half a century had been
accepted as an inevitable part of the conditions of the modern system
of labour and production.  This combination had now taken the form of
a federation of all or almost all the recognised wage-paid
employments, and it was by its means that those betterments of the
conditions of the workmen had been forced from the masters:  and
though they were not seldom mixed up with the rioting that happened,
especially in the earlier days of their organization, it by no means
formed an essential part of their tactics; indeed at the time I am
now speaking of they had got to be so strong that most commonly the
mere threat of a 'strike' was enough to gain any minor point:
because they had given up the foolish tactics of the ancient trades
unions of calling out of work a part only of the workers of such and
such an industry, and supporting them while out of work on the labour
of those that remained in.  By this time they had a biggish fund of
money for the support of strikes, and could stop a certain industry
altogether for a time if they so determined."

Said I:  "Was there not a serious danger of such moneys being
misused--of jobbery, in fact?"

Old Hammond wriggled uneasily on his seat, and said:

"Though all this happened so long ago, I still feel the pain of mere
shame when I have to tell you that it was more than a danger:  that
such rascality often happened; indeed more than once the whole
combination seemed dropping to pieces because of it:  but at the time
of which I am telling, things looked so threatening, and to the
workmen at least the necessity of their dealing with the fast-
gathering trouble which the labour-struggle had brought about, was so
clear, that the conditions of the times had begot a deep seriousness
amongst all reasonable people; a determination which put aside all
non-essentials, and which to thinking men was ominous of the swiftly-
approaching change:  such an element was too dangerous for mere
traitors and self-seekers, and one by one they were thrust out and
mostly joined the declared reactionaries."

"How about those ameliorations," said I; "what were they? or rather
of what nature?"

Said he:  "Some of them, and these of the most practical importance
to the mens' livelihood, were yielded by the masters by direct
compulsion on the part of the men; the new conditions of labour so
gained were indeed only customary, enforced by no law:  but, once
established, the masters durst not attempt to withdraw them in face
of the growing power of the combined workers.  Some again were steps
on the path of 'State Socialism'; the most important of which can be
speedily summed up.  At the end of the nineteenth century the cry
arose for compelling the masters to employ their men a less number of
hours in the day:  this cry gathered volume quickly, and the masters
had to yield to it.  But it was, of course, clear that unless this
meant a higher price for work per hour, it would be a mere nullity,
and that the masters, unless forced, would reduce it to that.
Therefore after a long struggle another law was passed fixing a
minimum price for labour in the most important industries; which
again had to be supplemented by a law fixing the maximum price on the
chief wares then considered necessary for a workman's life."

"You were getting perilously near to the late Roman poor-rates," said
I, smiling, "and the doling out of bread to the proletariat."

"So many said at the time," said the old man drily; "and it has long
been a commonplace that that slough awaits State Socialism in the
end, if it gets to the end, which as you know it did not with us.
However it went further than this minimum and maximum business, which
by the by we can now see was necessary.  The government now found it
imperative on them to meet the outcry of the master class at the
approaching destruction of Commerce (as desirable, had they known it,
as the extinction of the cholera, which has since happily taken
place).  And they were forced to meet it by a measure hostile to the
masters, the establishment of government factories for the production
of necessary wares, and markets for their sale.  These measures taken
altogether did do something:  they were in fact of the nature of
regulations made by the commander of a beleaguered city.  But of
course to the privileged classes it seemed as if the end of the world
were come when such laws were enacted.

"Nor was that altogether without a warrant:  the spread of
communistic theories, and the partial practice of State Socialism had
at first disturbed, and at last almost paralysed the marvellous
system of commerce under which the old world had lived so feverishly,
and had produced for some few a life of gambler's pleasure, and for
many, or most, a life of mere misery:  over and over again came 'bad
times' as they were called, and indeed they were bad enough for the
wage-slaves.  The year 1952 was one of the worst of these times; the
workmen suffered dreadfully:  the partial, inefficient government
factories, which were terribly jobbed, all but broke down, and a vast
part of the population had for the time being to be fed on
undisguised "charity" as it was called.

"The Combined Workers watched the situation with mingled hope and
anxiety.  They had already formulated their general demands; but now
by a solemn and universal vote of the whole of their federated
societies, they insisted on the first step being taken toward
carrying out their demands:  this step would have led directly to
handing over the management of the whole natural resources of the
country, together with the machinery for using them into the power of
the Combined Workers, and the reduction of the privileged classes
into the position of pensioners obviously dependent on the pleasure
of the workers.  The 'Resolution,' as it was called, which was widely
published in the newspapers of the day, was in fact a declaration of
war, and was so accepted by the master class.  They began
henceforward to prepare for a firm stand against the 'brutal and
ferocious communism of the day,' as they phrased it.  And as they
were in many ways still very powerful, or seemed so to be; they still
hoped by means of brute force to regain some of what they had lost,
and perhaps in the end the whole of it.  It was said amongst them on
all hands that it had been a great mistake of the various governments
not to have resisted sooner; and the liberals and radicals (the name
as perhaps you may know of the more democratically inclined part of
the ruling classes) were much blamed for having led the world to this
pass by their mis-timed pedantry and foolish sentimentality:  and one
Gladstone, or Gledstein (probably, judging by this name, of
Scandinavian descent), a notable politician of the nineteenth
century, was especially singled out for reprobation in this respect.
I need scarcely point out to you the absurdity of all this.  But
terrible tragedy lay hidden behind this grinning through a horse-
collar of the reactionary party.  'The insatiable greed of the lower
classes must be repressed'--'The people must be taught a lesson'--
these were the sacramental phrases current amongst the reactionists,
and ominous enough they were."

The old man stopped to look keenly at my attentive and wondering
face; and then said:

"I know, dear guest, that I have been using words and phrases which
few people amongst us could understand without long and laborious
explanation; and not even then perhaps.  But since you have not yet
gone to sleep, and since I am speaking to you as to a being from
another planet, I may venture to ask you if you have followed me thus
far?"

"O yes," said I, "I quite understand:  pray go on; a great deal of
what you have been saying was common place with us--when--when--"

"Yes," said he gravely, "when you were dwelling in the other planet.
Well, now for the crash aforesaid.

"On some comparatively trifling occasion a great meeting was summoned
by the workmen leaders to meet in Trafalgar Square (about the right
to meet in which place there had for years and years been bickering).
The civic bourgeois guard (called the police) attacked the said
meeting with bludgeons, according to their custom; many people were
hurt in the melee, of whom five in all died, either trampled to death
on the spot, or from the effects of their cudgelling; the meeting was
scattered, and some hundred of prisoners cast into gaol.  A similar
meeting had been treated in the same way a few days before at a place
called Manchester, which has now disappeared.  Thus the 'lesson'
began.  The whole country was thrown into a ferment by this; meetings
were held which attempted some rough organisation for the holding of
another meeting to retort on the authorities.  A huge crowd assembled
in Trafalgar Square and the neighbourhood (then a place of crowded
streets), and was too big for the bludgeon-armed police to cope with;
there was a good deal of dry-blow fighting; three or four of the
people were killed, and half a score of policemen were crushed to
death in the throng, and the rest got away as they could.  This was a
victory for the people as far as it went.  The next day all London
(remember what it was in those days) was in a state of turmoil.  Many
of the rich fled into the country; the executive got together
soldiery, but did not dare to use them; and the police could not be
massed in any one place, because riots or threats of riots were
everywhere.  But in Manchester, where the people were not so
courageous or not so desperate as in London, several of the popular
leaders were arrested.  In London a convention of leaders was got
together from the Federation of Combined Workmen, and sat under the
old revolutionary name of the Committee of Public Safety; but as they
had no drilled and armed body of men to direct, they attempted no
aggressive measures, but only placarded the walls with somewhat vague
appeals to the workmen not to allow themselves to be trampled upon.
However, they called a meeting in Trafalgar Square for the day
fortnight of the last-mentioned skirmish.

"Meantime the town grew no quieter, and business came pretty much to
an end.  The newspapers--then, as always hitherto, almost entirely in
the hands of the masters--clamoured to the Government for repressive
measures; the rich citizens were enrolled as an extra body of police,
and armed with bludgeons like them; many of these were strong, well-
fed, full-blooded young men, and had plenty of stomach for fighting;
but the Government did not dare to use them, and contented itself
with getting full powers voted to it by the Parliament for
suppressing any revolt, and bringing up more and more soldiers to
London.  Thus passed the week after the great meeting; almost as
large a one was held on the Sunday, which went off peaceably on the
whole, as no opposition to it was offered, and again the people cried
'victory.'  But on the Monday the people woke up to find that they
were hungry.  During the last few days there had been groups of men
parading the streets asking (or, if you please, demanding) money to
buy food; and what for goodwill, what for fear, the richer people
gave them a good deal.  The authorities of the parishes also (I
haven't time to explain that phrase at present) gave willy-nilly what
provisions they could to wandering people; and the Government, by
means of its feeble national workshops, also fed a good number of
half-starved folk.  But in addition to this, several bakers' shops
and other provision stores had been emptied without a great deal of
disturbance.  So far, so good.  But on the Monday in question the
Committee of Public Safety, on the one hand afraid of general
unorganised pillage, and on the other emboldened by the wavering
conduct of the authorities, sent a deputation provided with carts and
all necessary gear to clear out two or three big provision stores in
the centre of the town, leaving papers with the shop managers
promising to pay the price of them:  and also in the part of the town
where they were strongest they took possession of several bakers'
shops and set men at work in them for the benefit of the people;--all
of which was done with little or no disturbance, the police assisting
in keeping order at the sack of the stores, as they would have done
at a big fire.

"But at this last stroke the reactionaries were so alarmed, that they
were, determined to force the executive into action.  The newspapers
next day all blazed into the fury of frightened people, and
threatened the people, the Government, and everybody they could think
of, unless 'order were at once restored.'  A deputation of leading
commercial people waited on the Government and told them that if they
did not at once arrest the Committee of Public Safety, they
themselves would gather a body of men, arm them, and fall on 'the
incendiaries,' as they called them.

"They, together with a number of the newspaper editors, had a long
interview with the heads of the Government and two or three military
men, the deftest in their art that the country could furnish.  The
deputation came away from that interview, says a contemporary eye-
witness, smiling and satisfied, and said no more about raising an
anti-popular army, but that afternoon left London with their families
for their country seats or elsewhere.

"The next morning the Government proclaimed a state of siege in
London,--a thing common enough amongst the absolutist governments on
the Continent, but unheard-of in England in those days.  They
appointed the youngest and cleverest of their generals to command the
proclaimed district; a man who had won a certain sort of reputation
in the disgraceful wars in which the country had been long engaged
from time to time.  The newspapers were in ecstacies, and all the
most fervent of the reactionaries now came to the front; men who in
ordinary times were forced to keep their opinions to themselves or
their immediate circle, but who began to look forward to crushing
once for all the Socialist, and even democratic tendencies, which,
said they, had been treated with such foolish indulgence for the last
sixty years.

"But the clever general took no visible action; and yet only a few of
the minor newspapers abused him; thoughtful men gathered from this
that a plot was hatching.  As for the Committee of Public Safety,
whatever they thought of their position, they had now gone too far to
draw back; and many of them, it seems, thought that the government
would not act.  They went on quietly organising their food supply,
which was a miserable driblet when all is said; and also as a retort
to the state of siege, they armed as many men as they could in the
quarter where they were strongest, but did not attempt to drill or
organise them, thinking, perhaps, that they could not at the best
turn them into trained soldiers till they had some breathing space.
The clever general, his soldiers, and the police did not meddle with
all this in the least in the world; and things were quieter in London
that week-end; though there were riots in many places of the
provinces, which were quelled by the authorities without much
trouble.  The most serious of these were at Glasgow and Bristol.

"Well, the Sunday of the meeting came, and great crowds came to
Trafalgar Square in procession, the greater part of the Committee
amongst them, surrounded by their band of men armed somehow or other.
The streets were quite peaceful and quiet, though there were many
spectators to see the procession pass.  Trafalgar Square had no body
of police in it; the people took quiet possession of it, and the
meeting began.  The armed men stood round the principal platform, and
there were a few others armed amidst the general crowd; but by far
the greater part were unarmed.

"Most people thought the meeting would go off peaceably; but the
members of the Committee had heard from various quarters that
something would be attempted against them; but these rumours were
vague, and they had no idea of what threatened.  They soon found out.

"For before the streets about the Square were filled, a body of
soldiers poured into it from the north-west corner and took up their
places by the houses that stood on the west side.  The people growled
at the sight of the red-coats; the armed men of the Committee stood
undecided, not knowing what to do; and indeed this new influx so
jammed the crowd together that, unorganised as they were, they had
little chance of working through it.  They had scarcely grasped the
fact of their enemies being there, when another column of soldiers,
pouring out of the streets which led into the great southern road
going down to the Parliament House (still existing, and called the
Dung Market), and also from the embankment by the side of the Thames,
marched up, pushing the crowd into a denser and denser mass, and
formed along the south side of the Square.  Then any of those who
could see what was going on, knew at once that they were in a trap,
and could only wonder what would be done with them.

"The closely-packed crowd would not or could not budge, except under
the influence of the height of terror, which was soon to be supplied
to them.  A few of the armed men struggled to the front, or climbled
up to the base of the monument which then stood there, that they
might face the wall of hidden fire before them; and to most men
(there were many women amongst them) it seemed as if the end of the
world had come, and to-day seemed strangely different from yesterday.
No sooner were the soldiers drawn up aforesaid than, says an eye-
witness, 'a glittering officer on horseback came prancing out from
the ranks on the south, and read something from a paper which he held
in his hand; which something, very few heard; but I was told
afterwards that it was an order for us to disperse, and a warning
that he had legal right to fire on the crowd else, and that he would
do so.  The crowd took it as a challenge of some sort, and a hoarse
threatening roar went up from them; and after that there was
comparative silence for a little, till the officer had got back into
the ranks.  I was near the edge of the crowd, towards the soldiers,'
says this eye-witness, 'and I saw three little machines being wheeled
out in front of the ranks, which I knew for mechanical guns.  I cried
out, "Throw yourselves down! they are going to fire!"  But no one
scarcely could throw himself down, so tight as the crowd were packed.
I heard a sharp order given, and wondered where I should be the next
minute; and then--It was as if--the earth had opened, and hell had
come up bodily amidst us.  It is no use trying to describe the scene
that followed.  Deep lanes were mowed amidst the thick crowd; the
dead and dying covered the ground, and the shrieks and wails and
cries of horror filled all the air, till it seemed as if there were
nothing else in the world but murder and death.  Those of our armed
men who were still unhurt cheered wildly and opened a scattering fire
on the soldiers.  One or two soldiers fell; and I saw the officers
going up and down the ranks urging the men to fire again; but they
received the orders in sullen silence, and let the butts of their
guns fall.  Only one sergeant ran to a machine-gun and began to set
it going; but a tall young man, an officer too, ran out of the ranks
and dragged him back by the collar; and the soldiers stood there
motionless while the horror-stricken crowd, nearly wholly unarmed
(for most of the armed men had fallen in that first discharge),
drifted out of the Square.  I was told afterwards that the soldiers
on the west side had fired also, and done their part of the
slaughter.  How I got out of the Square I scarcely know:  I went, not
feeling the ground under me, what with rage and terror and despair.'

"So says our eye-witness.  The number of the slain on the side of the
people in that shooting during a minute was prodigious; but it was
not easy to come at the truth about it; it was probably between one
and two thousand.  Of the soldiers, six were killed outright, and a
dozen wounded."

I listened, trembling with excitement.  The old man's eyes glittered
and his face flushed as he spoke, and told the tale of what I had
often thought might happen.  Yet I wondered that he should have got
so elated about a mere massacre, and I said:

"How fearful!  And I suppose that this massacre put an end to the
whole revolution for that time?"

"No, no," cried old Hammond; "it began it!"

He filled his glass and mine, and stood up and cried out, "Drink this
glass to the memory of those who died there, for indeed it would be a
long tale to tell how much we owe them."

I drank, and he sat down again and went on.

"That massacre of Trafalgar Square began the civil war, though, like
all such events, it gathered head slowly, and people scarcely knew
what a crisis they were acting in.

"Terrible as the massacre was, and hideous and overpowering as the
first terror had been, when the people had time to think about it,
their feeling was one of anger rather than fear; although the
military organisation of the state of siege was now carried out
without shrinking by the clever young general.  For though the
ruling-classes when the news spread next morning felt one gasp of
horror and even dread, yet the Government and their immediate backers
felt that now the wine was drawn and must be drunk.  However, even
the most reactionary of the capitalist papers, with two exceptions,
stunned by the tremendous news, simply gave an account of what had
taken place, without making any comment upon it.  The exceptions were
one, a so-called 'liberal' paper (the Government of the day was of
that complexion), which, after a preamble in which it declared its
undeviating sympathy with the cause of labour, proceeded to point out
that in times of revolutionary disturbance it behoved the Government
to be just but firm, and that by far the most merciful way of dealing
with the poor madmen who were attacking the very foundations of
society (which had made them mad and poor) was to shoot them at once,
so as to stop others from drifting into a position in which they
would run a chance of being shot.  In short, it praised the
determined action of the Government as the acme of human wisdom and
mercy, and exulted in the inauguration of an epoch of reasonable
democracy free from the tyrannical fads of Socialism.

"The other exception was a paper thought to be one of the most
violent opponents of democracy, and so it was; but the editor of it
found his manhood, and spoke for himself and not for his paper.  In a
few simple, indignant words he asked people to consider what a
society was worth which had to be defended by the massacre of unarmed
citizens, and called on the Government to withdraw their state of
siege and put the general and his officers who fired on the people on
their trial for murder.  He went further, and declared that whatever
his opinion might be as to the doctrines of the Socialists, he for
one should throw in his lot with the people, until the Government
atoned for their atrocity by showing that they were prepared to
listen to the demands of men who knew what they wanted, and whom the
decrepitude of society forced into pushing their demands in some way
or other.

"Of course, this editor was immediately arrested by the military
power; but his bold words were already in the hands of the public,
and produced a great effect:  so great an effect that the Government,
after some vacillation, withdrew the state of siege; though at the
same time it strengthened the military organisation and made it more
stringent.  Three of the Committee of Public Safety had been slain in
Trafalgar Square:  of the rest the greater part went back to their
old place of meeting, and there awaited the event calmly.  They were
arrested there on the Monday morning, and would have been shot at
once by the general, who was a mere military machine, if the
Government had not shrunk before the responsibility of killing men
without any trial.  There was at first a talk of trying them by a
special commission of judges, as it was called--i.e., before a set of
men bound to find them guilty, and whose business it was to do so.
But with the Government the cold fit had succeeded to the hot one;
and the prisoners were brought before a jury at the assizes.  There a
fresh blow awaited the Government; for in spite of the judge's
charge, which distinctly instructed the jury to find the prisoners
guilty, they were acquitted, and the jury added to their verdict a
presentment, in which they condemned the action of the soldiery, in
the queer phraseology of the day, as 'rash, unfortunate, and
unnecessary.'  The Committee of Public Safety renewed its sittings,
and from thenceforth was a popular rallying-point in opposition to
the Parliament.  The Government now gave way on all sides, and made a
show of yielding to the demands of the people, though there was a
widespread plot for effecting a coup d'etat set on foot between the
leaders of the two so-called opposing parties in the parliamentary
faction fight.  The well-meaning part of the public was overjoyed,
and thought that all danger of a civil war was over.  The victory of
the people was celebrated by huge meetings held in the parks and
elsewhere, in memory of the victims of the great massacre.

"But the measures passed for the relief of the workers, though to the
upper classes they seemed ruinously revolutionary, were not thorough
enough to give the people food and a decent life, and they had to be
supplemented by unwritten enactments without legality to back them.
Although the Government and Parliament had the law-courts, the army,
and 'society' at their backs, the Committee of Public Safety began to
be a force in the country, and really represented the producing
classes.  It began to improve immensely in the days which followed on
the acquittal of its members.  Its old members had little
administrative capacity, though with the exception of a few self-
seekers and traitors, they were honest, courageous men, and many of
them were endowed with considerable talent of other kinds.  But now
that the times called for immediate action, came forward the men
capable of setting it on foot; and a new network of workmen's
associations grew up very speedily, whose avowed single object was
the tiding over of the ship of the community into a simple condition
of Communism; and as they practically undertook also the management
of the ordinary labour-war, they soon became the mouthpiece and
intermediary of the whole of the working classes; and the
manufacturing profit-grinders now found themselves powerless before
this combination; unless THEIR committee, Parliament, plucked up
courage to begin the civil war again, and to shoot right and left,
they were bound to yield to the demands of the men whom they
employed, and pay higher and higher wages for shorter and shorter
day's work.  Yet one ally they had, and that was the rapidly
approaching breakdown of the whole system founded on the World-Market
and its supply; which now became so clear to all people, that the
middle classes, shocked for the moment into condemnation of the
Government for the great massacre, turned round nearly in a mass, and
called on the Government to look to matters, and put an end to the
tyranny of the Socialist leaders.

"Thus stimulated, the reactionist plot exploded probably before it
was ripe; but this time the people and their leaders were forewarned,
and, before the reactionaries could get under way, had taken the
steps they thought necessary.

"The Liberal Government (clearly by collusion) was beaten by the
Conservatives, though the latter were nominally much in the minority.
The popular representatives in the House understood pretty well what
this meant, and after an attempt to fight the matter out by divisions
in the House of Commons, they made a protest, left the House, and
came in a body to the Committee of Public Safety:  and the civil war
began again in good earnest.

"Yet its first act was not one of mere fighting.  The new Tory
Government determined to act, yet durst not re-enact the state of
siege, but it sent a body of soldiers and police to arrest the
Committee of Public Safety in the lump.  They made no resistance,
though they might have done so, as they had now a considerable body
of men who were quite prepared for extremities.  But they were
determined to try first a weapon which they thought stronger than
street fighting.

"The members of the Committee went off quietly to prison; but they
had left their soul and their organisation behind them.  For they
depended not on a carefully arranged centre with all kinds of checks
and counter-checks about it, but on a huge mass of people in thorough
sympathy with the movement, bound together by a great number of links
of small centres with very simple instructions.  These instructions
were now carried out.

"The next morning, when the leaders of the reaction were chuckling at
the effect which the report in the newspapers of their stroke would
have upon the public--no newspapers appeared; and it was only towards
noon that a few straggling sheets, about the size of the gazettes of
the seventeenth century, worked by policemen, soldiers, managers, and
press-writers, were dribbled through the streets.  They were greedily
seized on and read; but by this time the serious part of their news
was stale, and people did not need to be told that the GENERAL STRIKE
had begun.  The railways did not run, the telegraph-wires were
unserved; flesh, fish, and green stuff brought to market was allowed
to lie there still packed and perishing; the thousands of middle-
class families, who were utterly dependant for the next meal on the
workers, made frantic efforts through their more energetic members to
cater for the needs of the day, and amongst those of them who could
throw off the fear of what was to follow, there was, I am told, a
certain enjoyment of this unexpected picnic--a forecast of the days
to come, in which all labour grew pleasant.

"So passed the first day, and towards evening the Government grew
quite distracted.  They had but one resource for putting down any
popular movement--to wit, mere brute-force; but there was nothing for
them against which to use their army and police:  no armed bodies
appeared in the streets; the offices of the Federated Workmen were
now, in appearance, at least, turned into places for the relief of
people thrown out of work, and under the circumstances, they durst
not arrest the men engaged in such business, all the more, as even
that night many quite respectable people applied at these offices for
relief, and swallowed down the charity of the revolutionists along
with their supper.  So the Government massed soldiers and police here
and there--and sat still for that night, fully expecting on the
morrow some manifesto from 'the rebels,' as they now began to be
called, which would give them an opportunity of acting in some way or
another.  They were disappointed.  The ordinary newspapers gave up
the struggle that morning, and only one very violent reactionary
paper (called the Daily Telegraph) attempted an appearance, and rated
'the rebels' in good set terms for their folly and ingratitude in
tearing out the bowels of their 'common mother,' the English Nation,
for the benefit of a few greedy paid agitators, and the fools whom
they were deluding.  On the other hand, the Socialist papers (of
which three only, representing somewhat different schools, were
published in London) came out full to the throat of well-printed
matter.  They were greedily bought by the whole public, who, of
course, like the Government, expected a manifesto in them.  But they
found no word of reference to the great subject.  It seemed as if
their editors had ransacked their drawers for articles which would
have been in place forty years before, under the technical name of
educational articles.  Most of these were admirable and
straightforward expositions of the doctrines and practice of
Socialism, free from haste and spite and hard words, and came upon
the public with a kind of May-day freshness, amidst the worry and
terror of the moment; and though the knowing well understood that the
meaning of this move in the game was mere defiance, and a token of
irreconcilable hostility to the then rulers of society, and though,
also, they were meant for nothing else by 'the rebels,' yet they
really had their effect as 'educational articles.'  However,
'education' of another kind was acting upon the public with
irresistible power, and probably cleared their heads a little.

"As to the Government, they were absolutely terrified by this act of
'boycotting' (the slang word then current for such acts of
abstention).  Their counsels became wild and vacillating to the last
degree:  one hour they were for giving way for the present till they
could hatch another plot; the next they all but sent an order for the
arrest in the lump of all the workmen's committees; the next they
were on the point of ordering their brisk young general to take any
excuse that offered for another massacre.  But when they called to
mind that the soldiery in that 'Battle' of Trafalgar Square were so
daunted by the slaughter which they had made, that they could not be
got to fire a second volley, they shrank back again from the dreadful
courage necessary for carrying out another massacre.  Meantime the
prisoners, brought the second time before the magistrates under a
strong escort of soldiers, were the second time remanded.

"The strike went on this day also.  The workmen's committees were
extended, and gave relief to great numbers of people, for they had
organised a considerable amount of production of food by men whom
they could depend upon.  Quite a number of well-to-do people were now
compelled to seek relief of them.  But another curious thing
happened:  a band of young men of the upper classes armed themselves,
and coolly went marauding in the streets, taking what suited them of
such eatables and portables that they came across in the shops which
had ventured to open.  This operation they carried out in Oxford
Street, then a great street of shops of all kinds.  The Government,
being at that hour in one of their yielding moods, thought this a
fine opportunity for showing their impartiality in the maintenance of
'order,' and sent to arrest these hungry rich youths; who, however,
surprised the police by a valiant resistance, so that all but three
escaped.  The Government did not gain the reputation for impartiality
which they expected from this move; for they forgot that there were
no evening papers; and the account of the skirmish spread wide
indeed, but in a distorted form for it was mostly told simply as an
exploit of the starving people from the East-end; and everybody
thought it was but natural for the Government to put them down when
and where they could.

"That evening the rebel prisoners were visited in their cells by VERY
polite and sympathetic persons, who pointed out to them what a
suicidal course they were following, and how dangerous these extreme
courses were for the popular cause.  Says one of the prisoners:  'It
was great sport comparing notes when we came out anent the attempt of
the Government to "get at" us separately in prison, and how we
answered the blandishments of the highly "intelligent and refined"
persons set on to pump us.  One laughed; another told extravagant
long-bow stories to the envoy; a third held a sulky silence; a fourth
damned the polite spy and bade him hold his jaw--and that was all
they got out of us.'

"So passed the second day of the great strike.  It was clear to all
thinking people that the third day would bring on the crisis; for the
present suspense and ill-concealed terror was unendurable.  The
ruling classes, and the middle-class non-politicians who had been
their real strength and support, were as sheep lacking a shepherd;
they literally did not know what to do.

"One thing they found they had to do:  try to get the 'rebels' to do
something.  So the next morning, the morning of the third day of the
strike, when the members of the Committee of Public Safety appeared
again before the magistrate, they found themselves treated with the
greatest possible courtesy--in fact, rather as envoys and ambassadors
than prisoners.  In short, the magistrate had received his orders;
and with no more to do than might come of a long stupid speech, which
might have been written by Dickens in mockery, he discharged the
prisoners, who went back to their meeting-place and at once began a
due sitting.  It was high time.  For this third day the mass was
fermenting indeed.  There was, of course, a vast number of working
people who were not organised in the least in the world; men who had
been used to act as their masters drove them, or rather as the system
drove, of which their masters were a part.  That system was now
falling to pieces, and the old pressure of the master having been
taken off these poor men, it seemed likely that nothing but the mere
animal necessities and passions of men would have any hold on them,
and that mere general overturn would be the result.  Doubtless this
would have happened if it had not been that the huge mass had been
leavened by Socialist opinion in the first place, and in the second
by actual contact with declared Socialists, many or indeed most of
whom were members of those bodies of workmen above said.

If anything of this kind had happened some years before, when the
masters of labour were still looked upon as the natural rulers of the
people, and even the poorest and most ignorant man leaned upon them
for support, while they submitted to their fleecing, the entire
break-up of all society would have followed.  But the long series of
years during which the workmen had learned to despise their rulers,
had done away with their dependence upon them, and they were now
beginning to trust (somewhat dangerously, as events proved) in the
non-legal leaders whom events had thrust forward; and though most of
these were now become mere figure-heads, their names and reputations
were useful in this crisis as a stop-gap.

"The effect of the news, therefore, of the release of the Committee
gave the Government some breathing time:  for it was received with
the greatest joy by the workers, and even the well-to-do saw in it a
respite from the mere destruction which they had begun to dread, and
the fear of which most of them attributed to the weakness of the
Government.  As far as the passing hour went, perhaps they were right
in this."

"How do you mean?" said I.  "What could the Government have done?  I
often used to think that they would be helpless in such a crisis."

Said old Hammond:  "Of course I don't doubt that in the long run
matters would have come about as they did.  But if the Government
could have treated their army as a real army, and used them
strategically as a general would have done, looking on the people as
a mere open enemy to be shot at and dispersed wherever they turned
up, they would probably have gained the victory at the time."

"But would the soldiers have acted against the people in this way?"
said I.

Said he:  "I think from all I have heard that they would have done so
if they had met bodies of men armed however badly, and however badly
they had been organised.  It seems also as if before the Trafalgar
Square massacre they might as a whole have been depended upon to fire
upon an unarmed crowd, though they were much honeycombed by
Socialism.  The reason for this was that they dreaded the use by
apparently unarmed men of an explosive called dynamite, of which many
loud boasts were made by the workers on the eve of these events;
although it turned out to be of little use as a material for war in
the way that was expected.  Of course the officers of the soldiery
fanned this fear to the utmost, so that the rank and file probably
thought on that occasion that they were being led into a desperate
battle with men who were really armed, and whose weapon was the more
dreadful, because it was concealed.  After that massacre, however, it
was at all times doubtful if the regular soldiers would fire upon an
unarmed or half-armed crowd."

Said I:  "The regular soldiers?  Then there were other combatants
against the people?"

"Yes," said he, "we shall come to that presently."

"Certainly," I said, "you had better go on straight with your story.
I see that time is wearing."

Said Hammond:  "The Government lost no time in coming to terms with
the Committee of Public Safety; for indeed they could think of
nothing else than the danger of the moment.  They sent a duly
accredited envoy to treat with these men, who somehow had obtained
dominion over people's minds, while the formal rulers had no hold
except over their bodies.  There is no need at present to go into the
details of the truce (for such it was) between these high contracting
parties, the Government of the empire of Great Britain and a handful
of working-men (as they were called in scorn in those days), amongst
whom, indeed, were some very capable and 'square-headed' persons,
though, as aforesaid, the abler men were not then the recognised
leaders.  The upshot of it was that all the definite claims of the
people had to be granted.  We can now see that most of these claims
were of themselves not worth either demanding or resisting; but they
were looked on at that time as most important, and they were at least
tokens of revolt against the miserable system of life which was then
beginning to tumble to pieces.  One claim, however, was of the utmost
immediate importance, and this the Government tried hard to evade;
but as they were not dealing with fools, they had to yield at last.
This was the claim of recognition and formal status for the Committee
of Public Safety, and all the associations which it fostered under
its wing.  This it is clear meant two things:  first, amnesty for
'the rebels,' great and small, who, without a distinct act of civil
war, could no longer be attacked; and next, a continuance of the
organised revolution.  Only one point the Government could gain, and
that was a name.  The dreadful revolutionary title was dropped, and
the body, with its branches, acted under the respectable name of the
'Board of Conciliation and its local offices.'  Carrying this name,
it became the leader of the people in the civil war which soon
followed."

"O," said I, somewhat startled, "so the civil war went on, in spite
of all that had happened?"

"So it was," said he.  "In fact, it was this very legal recognition
which made the civil war possible in the ordinary sense of war; it
took the struggle out of the element of mere massacres on one side,
and endurance plus strikes on the other."

"And can you tell me in what kind of way the war was carried on?"
said I.

"Yes" he said; "we have records and to spare of all that; and the
essence of them I can give you in a few words.  As I told you, the
rank and file of the army was not to be trusted by the reactionists;
but the officers generally were prepared for anything, for they were
mostly the very stupidest men in the country.  Whatever the
Government might do, a great part of the upper and middle classes
were determined to set on foot a counter revolution; for the
Communism which now loomed ahead seemed quite unendurable to them.
Bands of young men, like the marauders in the great strike of whom I
told you just now, armed themselves and drilled, and began on any
opportunity or pretence to skirmish with the people in the streets.
The Government neither helped them nor put them down, but stood by,
hoping that something might come of it.  These 'Friends of Order,' as
they were called, had some successes at first, and grew bolder; they
got many officers of the regular army to help them, and by their
means laid hold of munitions of war of all kinds.  One part of their
tactics consisted in their guarding and even garrisoning the big
factories of the period:  they held at one time, for instance, the
whole of that place called Manchester which I spoke of just now.  A
sort of irregular war was carried on with varied success all over the
country; and at last the Government, which at first pretended to
ignore the struggle, or treat it as mere rioting, definitely declared
for 'the Friends of Order,' and joined to their bands whatsoever of
the regular army they could get together, and made a desperate effort
to overwhelm 'the rebels,' as they were now once more called, and as
indeed they called themselves.

"It was too late.  All ideas of peace on a basis of compromise had
disappeared on either side.  The end, it was seen clearly, must be
either absolute slavery for all but the privileged, or a system of
life founded on equality and Communism.  The sloth, the hopelessness,
and if I may say so, the cowardice of the last century, had given
place to the eager, restless heroism of a declared revolutionary
period.  I will not say that the people of that time foresaw the life
we are leading now, but there was a general instinct amongst them
towards the essential part of that life, and many men saw clearly
beyond the desperate struggle of the day into the peace which it was
to bring about.  The men of that day who were on the side of freedom
were not unhappy, I think, though they were harassed by hopes and
fears, and sometimes torn by doubts, and the conflict of duties hard
to reconcile."

"But how did the people, the revolutionists, carry on the war?  What
were the elements of success on their side?"

I put this question, because I wanted to bring the old man back to
the definite history, and take him out of the musing mood so natural
to an old man.

He answered:  "Well, they did not lack organisers; for the very
conflict itself, in days when, as I told you, men of any strength of
mind cast away all consideration for the ordinary business of life,
developed the necessary talent amongst them.  Indeed, from all I have
read and heard, I much doubt whether, without this seemingly dreadful
civil war, the due talent for administration would have been
developed amongst the working men.  Anyhow, it was there, and they
soon got leaders far more than equal to the best men amongst the
reactionaries.  For the rest, they had no difficulty about the
material of their army; for that revolutionary instinct so acted on
the ordinary soldier in the ranks that the greater part, certainly
the best part, of the soldiers joined the side of the people.  But
the main element of their success was this, that wherever the working
people were not coerced, they worked, not for the reactionists, but
for 'the rebels.'  The reactionists could get no work done for them
outside the districts where they were all-powerful:  and even in
those districts they were harassed by continual risings; and in all
cases and everywhere got nothing done without obstruction and black
looks and sulkiness; so that not only were their armies quite worn
out with the difficulties which they had to meet, but the non-
combatants who were on their side were so worried and beset with
hatred and a thousand little troubles and annoyances that life became
almost unendurable to them on those terms.  Not a few of them
actually died of the worry; many committed suicide.  Of course, a
vast number of them joined actively in the cause of reaction, and
found some solace to their misery in the eagerness of conflict.
Lastly, many thousands gave way and submitted to 'the rebels'; and as
the numbers of these latter increased, it at last became clear to all
men that the cause which was once hopeless, was now triumphant, and
that the hopeless cause was that of slavery and privilege."



CHAPTER XVIII:  THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW LIFE



"Well," said I, "so you got clear out of all your trouble.  Were
people satisfied with the new order of things when it came?"

"People?" he said.  "Well, surely all must have been glad of peace
when it came; especially when they found, as they must have found,
that after all, they--even the once rich--were not living very badly.
As to those who had been poor, all through the war, which lasted
about two years, their condition had been bettering, in spite of the
struggle; and when peace came at last, in a very short time they made
great strides towards a decent life.  The great difficulty was that
the once-poor had such a feeble conception of the real pleasure of
life:  so to say, they did not ask enough, did not know how to ask
enough, from the new state of things.  It was perhaps rather a good
than an evil thing that the necessity for restoring the wealth
destroyed during the war forced them into working at first almost as
hard as they had been used to before the Revolution.  For all
historians are agreed that there never was a war in which there was
so much destruction of wares, and instruments for making them as in
this civil war."

"I am rather surprised at that," said I.

"Are you?  I don't see why," said Hammond.

"Why," I said, "because the party of order would surely look upon the
wealth as their own property, no share of which, if they could help
it, should go to their slaves, supposing they conquered.  And on the
other hand, it was just for the possession of that wealth that 'the
rebels' were fighting, and I should have thought, especially when
they saw that they were winning, that they would have been careful to
destroy as little as possible of what was so soon to be their own."

"It was as I have told you, however," said he.  "The party of order,
when they recovered from their first cowardice of surprise--or, if
you please, when they fairly saw that, whatever happened, they would
be ruined, fought with great bitterness, and cared little what they
did, so long as they injured the enemies who had destroyed the sweets
of life for them.  As to 'the rebels,' I have told you that the
outbreak of actual war made them careless of trying to save the
wretched scraps of wealth that they had.  It was a common saying
amongst them, Let the country be cleared of everything except valiant
living men, rather than that we fall into slavery again!"

He sat silently thinking a little while, and then said:

"When the conflict was once really begun, it was seen how little of
any value there was in the old world of slavery and inequality.
Don't you see what it means?  In the times which you are thinking of,
and of which you seem to know so much, there was no hope; nothing but
the dull jog of the mill-horse under compulsion of collar and whip;
but in that fighting-time that followed, all was hope:  'the rebels'
at least felt themselves strong enough to build up the world again
from its dry bones,--and they did it, too!" said the old man, his
eyes glittering under his beetling brows.  He went on:  "And their
opponents at least and at last learned something about the reality of
life, and its sorrows, which they--their class, I mean--had once
known nothing of.  In short, the two combatants, the workman and the
gentleman, between them--"

"Between them," said I, quickly, "they destroyed commercialism!"

"Yes, yes, yes," said he; "that is it.  Nor could it have been
destroyed otherwise; except, perhaps, by the whole of society
gradually falling into lower depths, till it should at last reach a
condition as rude as barbarism, but lacking both the hope and the
pleasures of barbarism.  Surely the sharper, shorter remedy was the
happiest."

"Most surely," said I.

"Yes," said the old man, "the world was being brought to its second
birth; how could that take place without a tragedy?  Moreover, think
of it.  The spirit of the new days, of our days, was to be delight in
the life of the world; intense and overweening love of the very skin
and surface of the earth on which man dwells, such as a lover has in
the fair flesh of the woman he loves; this, I say, was to be the new
spirit of the time.  All other moods save this had been exhausted:
the unceasing criticism, the boundless curiosity in the ways and
thoughts of man, which was the mood of the ancient Greek, to whom
these things were not so much a means, as an end, was gone past
recovery; nor had there been really any shadow of it in the so-called
science of the nineteenth century, which, as you must know, was in
the main an appendage to the commercial system; nay, not seldom an
appendage to the police of that system.  In spite of appearances, it
was limited and cowardly, because it did not really believe in
itself.  It was the outcome, as it was the sole relief, of the
unhappiness of the period which made life so bitter even to the rich,
and which, as you may see with your bodily eyes, the great change has
swept away.  More akin to our way of looking at life was the spirit
of the Middle Ages, to whom heaven and the life of the next world was
such a reality, that it became to them a part of the life upon the
earth; which accordingly they loved and adorned, in spite of the
ascetic doctrines of their formal creed, which bade them contemn it.

"But that also, with its assured belief in heaven and hell as two
countries in which to live, has gone, and now we do, both in word and
in deed, believe in the continuous life of the world of men, and as
it were, add every day of that common life to the little stock of
days which our own mere individual experience wins for us:  and
consequently we are happy.  Do you wonder at it?  In times past,
indeed, men were told to love their kind, to believe in the religion
of humanity, and so forth.  But look you, just in the degree that a
man had elevation of mind and refinement enough to be able to value
this idea, was he repelled by the obvious aspect of the individuals
composing the mass which he was to worship; and he could only evade
that repulsion by making a conventional abstraction of mankind that
had little actual or historical relation to the race; which to his
eyes was divided into blind tyrants on the one hand and apathetic
degraded slaves on the other.  But now, where is the difficulty in
accepting the religion of humanity, when the men and women who go to
make up humanity are free, happy, and energetic at least, and most
commonly beautiful of body also, and surrounded by beautiful things
of their own fashioning, and a nature bettered and not worsened by
contact with mankind?  This is what this age of the world has
reserved for us."

"It seems true," said I, "or ought to be, if what my eyes have seen
is a token of the general life you lead.  Can you now tell me
anything of your progress after the years of the struggle?"

Said he:  "I could easily tell you more than you have time to listen
to; but I can at least hint at one of the chief difficulties which
had to be met:  and that was, that when men began to settle down
after the war, and their labour had pretty much filled up the gap in
wealth caused by the destruction of that war, a kind of
disappointment seemed coming over us, and the prophecies of some of
the reactionists of past times seemed as if they would come true, and
a dull level of utilitarian comfort be the end for a while of our
aspirations and success.  The loss of the competitive spur to
exertion had not, indeed, done anything to interfere with the
necessary production of the community, but how if it should make men
dull by giving them too much time for thought or idle musing?  But,
after all, this dull thunder-cloud only threatened us, and then
passed over.  Probably, from what I have told you before, you will
have a guess at the remedy for such a disaster; remembering always
that many of the things which used to be produced--slave-wares for
the poor and mere wealth-wasting wares for the rich--ceased to be
made.  That remedy was, in short, the production of what used to be
called art, but which has no name amongst us now, because it has
become a necessary part of the labour of every man who produces."

Said I:  "What! had men any time or opportunity for cultivating the
fine arts amidst the desperate struggle for life and freedom that you
have told me of?"

Said Hammond:  "You must not suppose that the new form of art was
founded chiefly on the memory of the art of the past; although,
strange to say, the civil war was much less destructive of art than
of other things, and though what of art existed under the old forms,
revived in a wonderful way during the latter part of the struggle,
especially as regards music and poetry.  The art or work-pleasure, as
one ought to call it, of which I am now speaking, sprung up almost
spontaneously, it seems, from a kind of instinct amongst people, no
longer driven desperately to painful and terrible over-work, to do
the best they could with the work in hand--to make it excellent of
its kind; and when that had gone on for a little, a craving for
beauty seemed to awaken in men's minds, and they began rudely and
awkwardly to ornament the wares which they made; and when they had
once set to work at that, it soon began to grow.  All this was much
helped by the abolition of the squalor which our immediate ancestors
put up with so coolly; and by the leisurely, but not stupid, country-
life which now grew (as I told you before) to be common amongst us.
Thus at last and by slow degrees we got pleasure into our work; then
we became conscious of that pleasure, and cultivated it, and took
care that we had our fill of it; and then all was gained, and we were
happy.  So may it be for ages and ages!"

The old man fell into a reverie, not altogether without melancholy I
thought; but I would not break it.  Suddenly he started, and said:
"Well, dear guest, here are come Dick and Clara to fetch you away,
and there is an end of my talk; which I daresay you will not be sorry
for; the long day is coming to an end, and you will have a pleasant
ride back to Hammersmith."



CHAPTER XIX:  THE DRIVE BACK TO HAMMERSMITH



I said nothing, for I was not inclined for mere politeness to him
after such very serious talk; but in fact I should liked to have gone
on talking with the older man, who could understand something at
least of my wonted ways of looking at life, whereas, with the younger
people, in spite of all their kindness, I really was a being from
another planet.  However, I made the best of it, and smiled as
amiably as I could on the young couple; and Dick returned the smile
by saying, "Well, guest, I am glad to have you again, and to find
that you and my kinsman have not quite talked yourselves into another
world; I was half suspecting as I was listening to the Welshmen
yonder that you would presently be vanishing away from us, and began
to picture my kinsman sitting in the hall staring at nothing and
finding that he had been talking a while past to nobody."

I felt rather uncomfortable at this speech, for suddenly the picture
of the sordid squabble, the dirty and miserable tragedy of the life I
had left for a while, came before my eyes; and I had, as it were, a
vision of all my longings for rest and peace in the past, and I
loathed the idea of going back to it again.  But the old man chuckled
and said:

"Don't be afraid, Dick.  In any case, I have not been talking to thin
air; nor, indeed to this new friend of ours only.  Who knows but I
may not have been talking to many people?  For perhaps our guest may
some day go back to the people he has come from, and may take a
message from us which may bear fruit for them, and consequently for
us."

Dick looked puzzled, and said:  "Well, gaffer, I do not quite
understand what you mean.  All I can say is, that I hope he will not
leave us:  for don't you see, he is another kind of man to what we
are used to, and somehow he makes us think of all kind of things; and
already I feel as if I could understand Dickens the better for having
talked with him."

"Yes," said Clara, "and I think in a few months we shall make him
look younger; and I should like to see what he was like with the
wrinkles smoothed out of his face.  Don't you think he will look
younger after a little time with us?"

The old man shook his head, and looked earnestly at me, but did not
answer her, and for a moment or two we were all silent.  Then Clara
broke out:

"Kinsman, I don't like this:  something or another troubles me, and I
feel as if something untoward were going to happen.  You have been
talking of past miseries to the guest, and have been living in past
unhappy times, and it is in the air all round us, and makes us feel
as if we were longing for something that we cannot have."

The old man smiled on her kindly, and said:  "Well, my child, if that
be so, go and live in the present, and you will soon shake it off."
Then he turned to me, and said:  "Do you remember anything like that,
guest, in the country from which you come?"

The lovers had turned aside now, and were talking together softly,
and not heeding us; so I said, but in a low voice:  "Yes, when I was
a happy child on a sunny holiday, and had everything that I could
think of."

"So it is," said he.  "You remember just now you twitted me with
living in the second childhood of the world.  You will find it a
happy world to live in; you will be happy there--for a while."

Again I did not like his scarcely veiled threat, and was beginning to
trouble myself with trying to remember how I had got amongst this
curious people, when the old man called out in a cheery voice:  "Now,
my children, take your guest away, and make much of him; for it is
your business to make him sleek of skin and peaceful of mind:  he has
by no means been as lucky as you have.  Farewell, guest!" and he
grasped my hand warmly.

"Good-bye," said I, "and thank you very much for all that you have
told me.  I will come and see you as soon as I come back to London.
May I?"

"Yes," he said, "come by all means--if you can."

"It won't be for some time yet," quoth Dick, in his cheery voice;
"for when the hay is in up the river, I shall be for taking him a
round through the country between hay and wheat harvest, to see how
our friends live in the north country.  Then in the wheat harvest we
shall do a good stroke of work, I should hope,--in Wiltshire by
preference; for he will be getting a little hard with all the open-
air living, and I shall be as tough as nails."

"But you will take me along, won't you, Dick?" said Clara, laying her
pretty hand on his shoulder.

"Will I not?" said Dick, somewhat boisterously.  "And we will manage
to send you to bed pretty tired every night; and you will look so
beautiful with your neck all brown, and your hands too, and you under
your gown as white as privet, that you will get some of those strange
discontented whims out of your head, my dear.  However, our week's
haymaking will do all that for you."

The girl reddened very prettily, and not for shame but for pleasure;
and the old man laughed, and said:

"Guest, I see that you will be as comfortable as need be; for you
need not fear that those two will be too officious with you:  they
will be so busy with each other, that they will leave you a good deal
to yourself, I am sure, and that is a real kindness to a guest, after
all.  O, you need not be afraid of being one too many, either:  it is
just what these birds in a nest like, to have a good convenient
friend to turn to, so that they may relieve the ecstasies of love
with the solid commonplace of friendship.  Besides, Dick, and much
more Clara, likes a little talking at times; and you know lovers do
not talk unless they get into trouble, they only prattle.  Good-bye,
guest; may you be happy!"

Clara went up to old Hammond, threw her arms about his neck and
kissed him heartily, and said:

"You are a dear old man, and may have your jest about me as much as
you please; and it won't be long before we see you again; and you may
be sure we shall make our guest happy; though, mind you, there is
some truth in what you say."

Then I shook hands again, and we went out of the hall and into the
cloisters, and so in the street found Greylocks in the shafts waiting
for us.  He was well looked after; for a little lad of about seven
years old had his hand on the rein and was solemnly looking up into
his face; on his back, withal, was a girl of fourteen, holding a
three-year old sister on before her; while another girl, about a year
older than the boy, hung on behind.  The three were occupied partly
with eating cherries, partly with patting and punching Greylocks, who
took all their caresses in good part, but pricked up his ears when
Dick made his appearance.  The girls got off quietly, and going up to
Clara, made much of her and snuggled up to her.  And then we got into
the carriage, Dick shook the reins, and we got under way at once,
Greylocks trotting soberly between the lovely trees of the London
streets, that were sending floods of fragrance into the cool evening
air; for it was now getting toward sunset.

We could hardly go but fair and softly all the way, as there were a
great many people abroad in that cool hour.  Seeing so many people
made me notice their looks the more; and I must say, my taste,
cultivated in the sombre greyness, or rather brownness, of the
nineteenth century, was rather apt to condemn the gaiety and
brightness of the raiment; and I even ventured to say as much to
Clara.  She seemed rather surprised, and even slightly indignant, and
said:  "Well, well, what's the matter?  They are not about any dirty
work; they are only amusing themselves in the fine evening; there is
nothing to foul their clothes.  Come, doesn't it all look very
pretty?  It isn't gaudy, you know."

Indeed that was true; for many of the people were clad in colours
that were sober enough, though beautiful, and the harmony of the
colours was perfect and most delightful.

I said, "Yes, that is so; but how can everybody afford such costly
garments?  Look! there goes a middle-aged man in a sober grey dress;
but I can see from here that it is made of very fine woollen stuff,
and is covered with silk embroidery."

Said Clara:  "He could wear shabby clothes if he pleased,--that is,
if he didn't think he would hurt people's feelings by doing so."

"But please tell me," said I, "how can they afford it?"

As soon as I had spoken I perceived that I had got back to my old
blunder; for I saw Dick's shoulders shaking with laughter; but he
wouldn't say a word, but handed me over to the tender mercies of
Clara, who said -

"Why, I don't know what you mean.  Of course we can afford it, or
else we shouldn't do it.  It would be easy enough for us to say, we
will only spend our labour on making our clothes comfortable:  but we
don't choose to stop there.  Why do you find fault with us?  Does it
seem to you as if we starved ourselves of food in order to make
ourselves fine clothes?  Or do you think there is anything wrong in
liking to see the coverings of our bodies beautiful like our bodies
are?--just as a deer's or an otter's skin has been made beautiful
from the first?  Come, what is wrong with you?"

I bowed before the storm, and mumbled out some excuse or other.  I
must say, I might have known that people who were so fond of
architecture generally, would not be backward in ornamenting
themselves; all the more as the shape of their raiment, apart from
its colour, was both beautiful and reasonable--veiling the form,
without either muffling or caricaturing it.

Clara was soon mollified; and as we drove along toward the wood
before mentioned, she said to Dick -

"I tell you what, Dick:  now that kinsman Hammond the Elder has seen
our guest in his queer clothes, I think we ought to find him
something decent to put on for our journey to-morrow:  especially
since, if we do not, we shall have to answer all sorts of questions
as to his clothes and where they came from.  Besides," she said
slily, "when he is clad in handsome garments he will not be so quick
to blame us for our childishness in wasting our time in making
ourselves look pleasant to each other."

"All right, Clara," said Dick; "he shall have everything that you--
that he wants to have.  I will look something out for him before he
gets up to-morrow."



CHAPTER XX:  THE HAMMERSMITH GUEST-HOUSE AGAIN



Amidst such talk, driving quietly through the balmy evening, we came
to Hammersmith, and were well received by our friends there.  Boffin,
in a fresh suit of clothes, welcomed me back with stately courtesy;
the weaver wanted to button-hole me and get out of me what old
Hammond had said, but was very friendly and cheerful when Dick warned
him off; Annie shook hands with me, and hoped I had had a pleasant
day--so kindly, that I felt a slight pang as our hands parted; for to
say the truth, I liked her better than Clara, who seemed to be always
a little on the defensive, whereas Annie was as frank as could be,
and seemed to get honest pleasure from everything and everybody about
her without the least effort.

We had quite a little feast that evening, partly in my honour, and
partly, I suspect, though nothing was said about it, in honour of
Dick and Clara coming together again.  The wine was of the best; the
hall was redolent of rich summer flowers; and after supper we not
only had music (Annie, to my mind, surpassing all the others for
sweetness and clearness of voice, as well as for feeling and
meaning), but at last we even got to telling stories, and sat there
listening, with no other light but that of the summer moon streaming
through the beautiful traceries of the windows, as if we had belonged
to time long passed, when books were scarce and the art of reading
somewhat rare.  Indeed, I may say here, that, though, as you will
have noted, my friends had mostly something to say about books, yet
they were not great readers, considering the refinement of their
manners and the great amount of leisure which they obviously had.  In
fact, when Dick, especially, mentioned a book, he did so with an air
of a man who has accomplished an achievement; as much as to say,
"There, you see, I have actually read that!"

The evening passed all too quickly for me; since that day, for the
first time in my life, I was having my fill of the pleasure of the
eyes without any of that sense of incongruity, that dread of
approaching ruin, which had always beset me hitherto when I had been
amongst the beautiful works of art of the past, mingled with the
lovely nature of the present; both of them, in fact, the result of
the long centuries of tradition, which had compelled men to produce
the art, and compelled nature to run into the mould of the ages.
Here I could enjoy everything without an afterthought of the
injustice and miserable toil which made my leisure; the ignorance and
dulness of life which went to make my keen appreciation of history;
the tyranny and the struggle full of fear and mishap which went to
make my romance.  The only weight I had upon my heart was a vague
fear as it drew toward bed-time concerning the place wherein I should
wake on the morrow:  but I choked that down, and went to bed happy,
and in a very few moments was in a dreamless sleep.



CHAPTER XXI:  GOING UP THE RIVER



When I did wake, to a beautiful sunny morning, I leapt out of bed
with my over-night apprehension still clinging to me, which vanished
delightfully however in a moment as I looked around my little
sleeping chamber and saw the pale but pure-coloured figures painted
on the plaster of the wall, with verses written underneath them which
I knew somewhat over well.  I dressed speedily, in a suit of blue
laid ready for me, so handsome that I quite blushed when I had got
into it, feeling as I did so that excited pleasure of anticipation of
a holiday, which, well remembered as it was, I had not felt since I
was a boy, new come home for the summer holidays.

It seemed quite early in the morning, and I expected to have the hall
to myself when I came into it out of the corridor wherein was my
sleeping chamber; but I met Annie at once, who let fall her broom and
gave me a kiss, quite meaningless I fear, except as betokening
friendship, though she reddened as she did it, not from shyness, but
from friendly pleasure, and then stood and picked up her broom again,
and went on with her sweeping, nodding to me as if to bid me stand
out of the way and look on; which, to say the truth, I thought
amusing enough, as there were five other girls helping her, and their
graceful figures engaged in the leisurely work were worth going a
long way to see, and their merry talk and laughing as they swept in
quite a scientific manner was worth going a long way to hear.  But
Annie presently threw me back a word or two as she went on to the
other end of the hall:  "Guest," she said, "I am glad that you are up
early, though we wouldn't disturb you; for our Thames is a lovely
river at half-past six on a June morning:  and as it would be a pity
for you to lose it, I am told just to give you a cup of milk and a
bit of bread outside there, and put you into the boat:  for Dick and
Clara are all ready now.  Wait half a minute till I have swept down
this row."

So presently she let her broom drop again, and came and took me by
the hand and led me out on to the terrace above the river, to a
little table under the boughs, where my bread and milk took the form
of as dainty a breakfast as any one could desire, and then sat by me
as I ate.  And in a minute or two Dick and Clara came to me, the
latter looking most fresh and beautiful in a light silk embroidered
gown, which to my unused eyes was extravagantly gay and bright; while
Dick was also handsomely dressed in white flannel prettily
embroidered.  Clara raised her gown in her hands as she gave me the
morning greeting, and said laughingly:  "Look, guest! you see we are
at least as fine as any of the people you felt inclined to scold last
night; you see we are not going to make the bright day and the
flowers feel ashamed of themselves.  Now scold me!"

Quoth I:  "No, indeed; the pair of you seem as if you were born out
of the summer day itself; and I will scold you when I scold it."

"Well, you know," said Dick, "this is a special day--all these days
are, I mean.  The hay-harvest is in some ways better than corn-
harvest because of the beautiful weather; and really, unless you had
worked in the hay-field in fine weather, you couldn't tell what
pleasant work it is.  The women look so pretty at it, too," he said,
shyly; "so all things considered, I think we are right to adorn it in
a simple manner."

"Do the women work at it in silk dresses?" said I, smiling.

Dick was going to answer me soberly; but Clara put her hand over his
mouth, and said, "No, no, Dick; not too much information for him, or
I shall think that you are your old kinsman again.  Let him find out
for himself:  he will not have long to wait."

"Yes," quoth Annie, "don't make your description of the picture too
fine, or else he will be disappointed when the curtain is drawn.  I
don't want him to be disappointed.  But now it's time for you to be
gone, if you are to have the best of the tide, and also of the sunny
morning.  Good-bye, guest."

She kissed me in her frank friendly way, and almost took away from me
my desire for the expedition thereby; but I had to get over that, as
it was clear that so delightful a woman would hardly be without a due
lover of her own age.  We went down the steps of the landing stage,
and got into a pretty boat, not too light to hold us and our
belongings comfortably, and handsomely ornamented; and just as we got
in, down came Boffin and the weaver to see us off.  The former had
now veiled his splendour in a due suit of working clothes, crowned
with a fantail hat, which he took off, however, to wave us farewell
with his grave old-Spanish-like courtesy.  Then Dick pushed off into
the stream, and bent vigorously to his sculls, and Hammersmith, with
its noble trees and beautiful water-side houses, began to slip away
from us.

As we went, I could not help putting beside his promised picture of
the hay-field as it was then the picture of it as I remembered it,
and especially the images of the women engaged in the work rose up
before me:  the row of gaunt figures, lean, flat-breasted, ugly,
without a grace of form or face about them; dressed in wretched
skimpy print gowns, and hideous flapping sun-bonnets, moving their
rakes in a listless mechanical way.  How often had that marred the
loveliness of the June day to me; how often had I longed to see the
hay-fields peopled with men and women worthy of the sweet abundance
of midsummer, of its endless wealth of beautiful sights, and
delicious sounds and scents.  And now, the world had grown old and
wiser, and I was to see my hope realised at last!



CHAPTER XXII:  HAMPTON COURT AND A PRAISER OF PAST TIMES



So on we went, Dick rowing in an easy tireless way, and Clara sitting
by my side admiring his manly beauty and heartily good-natured face,
and thinking, I fancy, of nothing else.  As we went higher up the
river, there was less difference between the Thames of that day and
Thames as I remembered it; for setting aside the hideous vulgarity of
the cockney villas of the well-to-do, stockbrokers and other such,
which in older time marred the beauty of the bough-hung banks, even
this beginning of the country Thames was always beautiful; and as we
slipped between the lovely summer greenery, I almost felt my youth
come back to me, and as if I were on one of those water excursions
which I used to enjoy so much in days when I was too happy to think
that there could be much amiss anywhere.

At last we came to a reach of the river where on the left hand a very
pretty little village with some old houses in it came down to the
edge of the water, over which was a ferry; and beyond these houses
the elm-beset meadows ended in a fringe of tall willows, while on the
right hand went the tow-path and a clear space before a row of trees,
which rose up behind huge and ancient, the ornaments of a great park:
but these drew back still further from the river at the end of the
reach to make way for a little town of quaint and pretty houses, some
new, some old, dominated by the long walls and sharp gables of a
great red-brick pile of building, partly of the latest Gothic, partly
of the court-style of Dutch William, but so blended together by the
bright sun and beautiful surroundings, including the bright blue
river, which it looked down upon, that even amidst the beautiful
buildings of that new happy time it had a strange charm about it.  A
great wave of fragrance, amidst which the lime-tree blossom was
clearly to be distinguished, came down to us from its unseen gardens,
as Clara sat up in her place, and said:

"O Dick, dear, couldn't we stop at Hampton Court for to-day, and take
the guest about the park a little, and show him those sweet old
buildings?  Somehow, I suppose because you have lived so near it, you
have seldom taken me to Hampton Court."

Dick rested on his oars a little, and said:  "Well, well, Clara, you
are lazy to-day.  I didn't feel like stopping short of Shepperton for
the night; suppose we just go and have our dinner at the Court, and
go on again about five o'clock?"

"Well," she said, "so be it; but I should like the guest to have
spent an hour or two in the Park."

"The Park!" said Dick; "why, the whole Thames-side is a park this
time of the year; and for my part, I had rather lie under an elm-tree
on the borders of a wheat-field, with the bees humming about me and
the corn-crake crying from furrow to furrow, than in any park in
England.  Besides--"

"Besides," said she, "you want to get on to your dearly-loved upper
Thames, and show your prowess down the heavy swathes of the mowing
grass."

She looked at him fondly, and I could tell that she was seeing him in
her mind's eye showing his splendid form at its best amidst the
rhymed strokes of the scythes; and she looked down at her own pretty
feet with a half sigh, as though she were contrasting her slight
woman's beauty with his man's beauty; as women will when they are
really in love, and are not spoiled with conventional sentiment.

As for Dick, he looked at her admiringly a while, and then said at
last:  "Well, Clara, I do wish we were there!  But, hilloa! we are
getting back way."  And he set to work sculling again, and in two
minutes we were all standing on the gravelly strand below the bridge,
which, as you may imagine, was no longer the old hideous iron
abortion, but a handsome piece of very solid oak framing.

We went into the Court and straight into the great hall, so well
remembered, where there were tables spread for dinner, and everything
arranged much as in Hammersmith Guest-Hall.  Dinner over, we
sauntered through the ancient rooms, where the pictures and tapestry
were still preserved, and nothing was much changed, except that the
people whom we met there had an indefinable kind of look of being at
home and at ease, which communicated itself to me, so that I felt
that the beautiful old place was mine in the best sense of the word;
and my pleasure of past days seemed to add itself to that of to-day,
and filled my whole soul with content.

Dick (who, in spite of Clara's gibe, knew the place very well) told
me that the beautiful old Tudor rooms, which I remembered had been
the dwellings of the lesser fry of Court flunkies, were now much used
by people coming and going; for, beautiful as architecture had now
become, and although the whole face of the country had quite
recovered its beauty, there was still a sort of tradition of pleasure
and beauty which clung to that group of buildings, and people thought
going to Hampton Court a necessary summer outing, as they did in the
days when London was so grimy and miserable.  We went into some of
the rooms looking into the old garden, and were well received by the
people in them, who got speedily into talk with us, and looked with
politely half-concealed wonder at my strange face.  Besides these
birds of passage, and a few regular dwellers in the place, we saw out
in the meadows near the garden, down "the Long Water," as it used to
be called, many gay tents with men, women, and children round about
them.  As it seemed, this pleasure-loving people were fond of tent-
life, with all its inconveniences, which, indeed, they turned into
pleasure also.

We left this old friend by the time appointed, and I made some feeble
show of taking the sculls; but Dick repulsed me, not much to my
grief, I must say, as I found I had quite enough to do between the
enjoyment of the beautiful time and my own lazily blended thoughts.

As to Dick, it was quite right to let him pull, for he was as strong
as a horse, and had the greatest delight in bodily exercise, whatever
it was.  We really had some difficulty in getting him to stop when it
was getting rather more than dusk, and the moon was brightening just
as we were off Runnymede.  We landed there, and were looking about
for a place whereon to pitch our tents (for we had brought two with
us), when an old man came up to us, bade us good evening, and asked
if we were housed for that that night; and finding that we were not,
bade us home to his house.  Nothing loth, we went with him, and Clara
took his hand in a coaxing way which I noticed she used with old men;
and as we went on our way, made some commonplace remark about the
beauty of the day.  The old man stopped short, and looked at her and
said:  "You really like it then?"

"Yes," she said, looking very much astonished, "Don't you?"

"Well," said he, "perhaps I do.  I did, at any rate, when I was
younger; but now I think I should like it cooler."

She said nothing, and went on, the night growing about as dark as it
would be; till just at the rise of the hill we came to a hedge with a
gate in it, which the old man unlatched and led us into a garden, at
the end of which we could see a little house, one of whose little
windows was already yellow with candlelight.  We could see even under
the doubtful light of the moon and the last of the western glow that
the garden was stuffed full of flowers; and the fragrance it gave out
in the gathering coolness was so wonderfully sweet, that it seemed
the very heart of the delight of the June dusk; so that we three
stopped instinctively, and Clara gave forth a little sweet "O," like
a bird beginning to sing.

"What's the matter?" said the old man, a little testily, and pulling
at her hand.  "There's no dog; or have you trodden on a thorn and
hurt your foot?"

"No, no, neighbour," she said; "but how sweet, how sweet it is!"

"Of course it is," said he, "but do you care so much for that?"

She laughed out musically, and we followed suit in our gruffer
voices; and then she said:  "Of course I do, neighbour; don't you?"

"Well, I don't know," quoth the old fellow; then he added, as if
somewhat ashamed of himself:  "Besides, you know, when the waters are
out and all Runnymede is flooded, it's none so pleasant."

"_I_ should like it," quoth Dick.  "What a jolly sail one would get
about here on the floods on a bright frosty January morning!"

"WOULD you like it?" said our host.  "Well, I won't argue with you,
neighbour; it isn't worth while.  Come in and have some supper."

We went up a paved path between the roses, and straight into a very
pretty room, panelled and carved, and as clean as a new pin; but the
chief ornament of which was a young woman, light-haired and grey-
eyed, but with her face and hands and bare feet tanned quite brown
with the sun.  Though she was very lightly clad, that was clearly
from choice, not from poverty, though these were the first cottage-
dwellers I had come across; for her gown was of silk, and on her
wrists were bracelets that seemed to me of great value.  She was
lying on a sheep-skin near the window, but jumped up as soon as we
entered, and when she saw the guests behind the old man, she clapped
her hands and cried out with pleasure, and when she got us into the
middle of the room, fairly danced round us in delight of our company.

"What!" said the old man, "you are pleased, are you, Ellen?"

The girl danced up to him and threw her arms round him, and said:
"Yes I am, and so ought you to be grandfather."

"Well, well, I am," said he, "as much as I can be pleased.  Guests,
please be seated."

This seemed rather strange to us; stranger, I suspect, to my friends
than to me; but Dick took the opportunity of both the host and his
grand-daughter being out of the room to say to me, softly:  "A
grumbler:  there are a few of them still.  Once upon a time, I am
told, they were quite a nuisance."

The old man came in as he spoke and sat down beside us with a sigh,
which, indeed, seemed fetched up as if he wanted us to take notice of
it; but just then the girl came in with the victuals, and the carle
missed his mark, what between our hunger generally and that I was
pretty busy watching the grand-daughter moving about as beautiful as
a picture.

Everything to eat and drink, though it was somewhat different to what
we had had in London, was better than good, but the old man eyed
rather sulkily the chief dish on the table, on which lay a leash of
fine perch, and said:

"H'm, perch!  I am sorry we can't do better for you, guests.  The
time was when we might have had a good piece of salmon up from London
for you; but the times have grown mean and petty."

"Yes, but you might have had it now," said the girl, giggling, "if
you had known that they were coming."

"It's our fault for not bringing it with us, neighbours," said Dick,
good-humouredly.  "But if the times have grown petty, at any rate the
perch haven't; that fellow in the middle there must have weighed a
good two pounds when he was showing his dark stripes and red fins to
the minnows yonder.  And as to the salmon, why, neighbour, my friend
here, who comes from the outlands, was quite surprised yesterday
morning when I told him we had plenty of salmon at Hammersmith.  I am
sure I have heard nothing of the times worsening."

He looked a little uncomfortable.  And the old man, turning to me,
said very courteously:

"Well, sir, I am happy to see a man from over the water; but I really
must appeal to you to say whether on the whole you are not better off
in your country; where I suppose, from what our guest says, you are
brisker and more alive, because you have not wholly got rid of
competition.  You see, I have read not a few books of the past days,
and certainly THEY are much more alive than those which are written
now; and good sound unlimited competition was the condition under
which they were written,--if we didn't know that from the record of
history, we should know it from the books themselves.  There is a
spirit of adventure in them, and signs of a capacity to extract good
out of evil which our literature quite lacks now; and I cannot help
thinking that our moralists and historians exaggerate hugely the
unhappiness of the past days, in which such splendid works of
imagination and intellect were produced."

Clara listened to him with restless eyes, as if she were excited and
pleased; Dick knitted his brow and looked still more uncomfortable,
but said nothing.  Indeed, the old man gradually, as he warmed to his
subject, dropped his sneering manner, and both spoke and looked very
seriously.  But the girl broke out before I could deliver myself of
the answer I was framing:

"Books, books! always books, grandfather!  When will you understand
that after all it is the world we live in which interests us; the
world of which we are a part, and which we can never love too much?
Look!" she said, throwing open the casement wider and showing us the
white light sparkling between the black shadows of the moonlit
garden, through which ran a little shiver of the summer night-wind,
"look! these are our books in these days!--and these," she said,
stepping lightly up to the two lovers and laying a hand on each of
their shoulders; "and the guest there, with his over-sea knowledge
and experience;--yes, and even you, grandfather" (a smile ran over
her face as she spoke), "with all your grumbling and wishing yourself
back again in the good old days,--in which, as far as I can make out,
a harmless and lazy old man like you would either have pretty nearly
starved, or have had to pay soldiers and people to take the folk's
victuals and clothes and houses away from them by force.  Yes, these
are our books; and if we want more, can we not find work to do in the
beautiful buildings that we raise up all over the country (and I know
there was nothing like them in past times), wherein a man can put
forth whatever is in him, and make his hands set forth his mind and
his soul."

She paused a little, and I for my part could not help staring at her,
and thinking that if she were a book, the pictures in it were most
lovely.  The colour mantled in her delicate sunburnt cheeks; her grey
eyes, light amidst the tan of her face, kindly looked on us all as
she spoke.  She paused, and said again:

"As for your books, they were well enough for times when intelligent
people had but little else in which they could take pleasure, and
when they must needs supplement the sordid miseries of their own
lives with imaginations of the lives of other people.  But I say
flatly that in spite of all their cleverness and vigour, and capacity
for story-telling, there is something loathsome about them.  Some of
them, indeed, do here and there show some feeling for those whom the
history-books call 'poor,' and of the misery of whose lives we have
some inkling; but presently they give it up, and towards the end of
the story we must be contented to see the hero and heroine living
happily in an island of bliss on other people's troubles; and that
after a long series of sham troubles (or mostly sham) of their own
making, illustrated by dreary introspective nonsense about their
feelings and aspirations, and all the rest of it; while the world
must even then have gone on its way, and dug and sewed and baked and
built and carpentered round about these useless--animals."

"There!" said the old man, reverting to his dry sulky manner again.
"There's eloquence!  I suppose you like it?"

"Yes," said I, very emphatically.

"Well," said he, "now the storm of eloquence has lulled for a little,
suppose you answer my question?--that is, if you like, you know,"
quoth he, with a sudden access of courtesy.

"What question?" said I.  For I must confess that Ellen's strange and
almost wild beauty had put it out of my head.

Said he:  "First of all (excuse my catechising), is there competition
in life, after the old kind, in the country whence you come?"

"Yes," said I, "it is the rule there."  And I wondered as I spoke
what fresh complications I should get into as a result of this
answer.

"Question two," said the carle:  "Are you not on the whole much
freer, more energetic--in a word, healthier and happier--for it?"

I smiled.  "You wouldn't talk so if you had any idea of our life.  To
me you seem here as if you were living in heaven compared with us of
the country from which I came."

"Heaven?" said he:  "you like heaven, do you?"

"Yes," said I--snappishly, I am afraid; for I was beginning rather to
resent his formula.

"Well, I am far from sure that I do," quoth he.  "I think one may do
more with one's life than sitting on a damp cloud and singing hymns."

I was rather nettled by this inconsequence, and said:  "Well,
neighbour, to be short, and without using metaphors, in the land
whence I come, where the competition which produced those literary
works which you admire so much is still the rule, most people are
thoroughly unhappy; here, to me at least most people seem thoroughly
happy."

"No offence, guest--no offence," said he; "but let me ask you; you
like that, do you?"

His formula, put with such obstinate persistence, made us all laugh
heartily; and even the old man joined in the laughter on the sly.
However, he was by no means beaten, and said presently:

"From all I can hear, I should judge that a young woman so beautiful
as my dear Ellen yonder would have been a lady, as they called it in
the old time, and wouldn't have had to wear a few rags of silk as she
does now, or to have browned herself in the sun as she has to do now.
What do you say to that, eh?"

Here Clara, who had been pretty much silent hitherto, struck in, and
said:  "Well, really, I don't think that you would have mended
matters, or that they want mending.  Don't you see that she is
dressed deliciously for this beautiful weather?  And as for the sun-
burning of your hay-fields, why, I hope to pick up some of that for
myself when we get a little higher up the river.  Look if I don't
need a little sun on my pasty white skin!"

And she stripped up the sleeve from her arm and laid it beside
Ellen's who was now sitting next her.  To say the truth, it was
rather amusing to me to see Clara putting herself forward as a town-
bred fine lady, for she was as well-knit and clean-skinned a girl as
might be met with anywhere at the best.  Dick stroked the beautiful
arm rather shyly, and pulled down the sleeve again, while she blushed
at his touch; and the old man said laughingly:  "Well, I suppose you
DO like that; don't you?"

Ellen kissed her new friend, and we all sat silent for a little, till
she broke out into a sweet shrill song, and held us all entranced
with the wonder of her clear voice; and the old grumbler sat looking
at her lovingly.  The other young people sang also in due time; and
then Ellen showed us to our beds in small cottage chambers, fragrant
and clean as the ideal of the old pastoral poets; and the pleasure of
the evening quite extinguished my fear of the last night, that I
should wake up in the old miserable world of worn-out pleasures, and
hopes that were half fears.



CHAPTER XXIII:  AN EARLY MORNING BY RUNNYMEDE



Though there were no rough noises to wake me, I could not lie long
abed the next morning, where the world seemed so well awake, and,
despite the old grumbler, so happy; so I got up, and found that,
early as it was, someone had been stirring, since all was trim and in
its place in the little parlour, and the table laid for the morning
meal.  Nobody was afoot in the house as then, however, so I went out
a-doors, and after a turn or two round the superabundant garden, I
wandered down over the meadow to the river-side, where lay our boat,
looking quite familiar and friendly to me.  I walked up stream a
little, watching the light mist curling up from the river till the
sun gained power to draw it all away; saw the bleak speckling the
water under the willow boughs, whence the tiny flies they fed on were
falling in myriads; heard the great chub splashing here and there at
some belated moth or other, and felt almost back again in my boyhood.
Then I went back again to the boat, and loitered there a minute or
two, and then walked slowly up the meadow towards the little house.
I noted now that there were four more houses of about the same size
on the slope away from the river.  The meadow in which I was going
was not up for hay; but a row of flake-hurdles ran up the slope not
far from me on each side, and in the field so parted off from ours on
the left they were making hay busily by now, in the simple fashion of
the days when I was a boy.  My feet turned that way instinctively, as
I wanted to see how haymakers looked in these new and better times,
and also I rather expected to see Ellen there.  I came to the hurdles
and stood looking over into the hay-field, and was close to the end
of the long line of haymakers who were spreading the low ridges to
dry off the night dew.  The majority of these were young women clad
much like Ellen last night, though not mostly in silk, but in light
woollen mostly gaily embroidered; the men being all clad in white
flannel embroidered in bright colours.  The meadow looked like a
gigantic tulip-bed because of them.  All hands were working
deliberately but well and steadily, though they were as noisy with
merry talk as a grove of autumn starlings.  Half a dozen of them, men
and women, came up to me and shook hands, gave me the sele of the
morning, and asked a few questions as to whence and whither, and
wishing me good luck, went back to their work.  Ellen, to my
disappointment, was not amongst them, but presently I saw a light
figure come out of the hay-field higher up the slope, and make for
our house; and that was Ellen, holding a basket in her hand.  But
before she had come to the garden gate, out came Dick and Clara, who,
after a minute's pause, came down to meet me, leaving Ellen in the
garden; then we three went down to the boat, talking mere morning
prattle.  We stayed there a little, Dick arranging some of the
matters in her, for we had only taken up to the house such things as
we thought the dew might damage; and then we went toward the house
again; but when we came near the garden, Dick stopped us by laying a
hand on my arm and said, -

"Just look a moment."

I looked, and over the low hedge saw Ellen, shading her eyes against
the sun as she looked toward the hay-field, a light wind stirring in
her tawny hair, her eyes like light jewels amidst her sunburnt face,
which looked as if the warmth of the sun were yet in it.

"Look, guest," said Dick; "doesn't it all look like one of those very
stories out of Grimm that we were talking about up in Bloomsbury?
Here are we two lovers wandering about the world, and we have come to
a fairy garden, and there is the very fairy herself amidst of it:  I
wonder what she will do for us."

Said Clara demurely, but not stiffly:  "Is she a good fairy, Dick?"

"O, yes," said he; "and according to the card, she would do better,
if it were not for the gnome or wood-spirit, our grumbling friend of
last night."

We laughed at this; and I said, "I hope you see that you have left me
out of the tale."

"Well," said he, "that's true.  You had better consider that you have
got the cap of darkness, and are seeing everything, yourself
invisible."

That touched me on my weak side of not feeling sure of my position in
this beautiful new country; so in order not to make matters worse, I
held my tongue, and we all went into the garden and up to the house
together.  I noticed by the way that Clara must really rather have
felt the contrast between herself as a town madam and this piece of
the summer country that we all admired so, for she had rather dressed
after Ellen that morning as to thinness and scantiness, and went
barefoot also, except for light sandals.

The old man greeted us kindly in the parlour, and said:  "Well,
guests, so you have been looking about to search into the nakedness
of the land:  I suppose your illusions of last night have given way a
bit before the morning light?  Do you still like, it, eh?"

"Very much," said I, doggedly; "it is one of the prettiest places on
the lower Thames."

"Oho!" said he; "so you know the Thames, do you?"

I reddened, for I saw Dick and Clara looking at me, and scarcely knew
what to say.  However, since I had said in our early intercourse with
my Hammersmith friends that I had known Epping Forest, I thought a
hasty generalisation might be better in avoiding complications than a
downright lie; so I said -

"I have been in this country before; and I have been on the Thames in
those days."

"O," said the old man, eagerly, "so you have been in this country
before.  Now really, don't you FIND it (apart from all theory, you
know) much changed for the worse?"

"No, not at all," said I; "I find it much changed for the better."

"Ah," quoth he, "I fear that you have been prejudiced by some theory
or another.  However, of course the time when you were here before
must have been so near our own days that the deterioration might not
be very great:  as then we were, of course, still living under the
same customs as we are now.  I was thinking of earlier days than
that."

"In short," said Clara, "you have THEORIES about the change which has
taken place."

"I have facts as well," said he.  "Look here! from this hill you can
see just four little houses, including this one.  Well, I know for
certain that in old times, even in the summer, when the leaves were
thickest, you could see from the same place six quite big and fine
houses; and higher up the water, garden joined garden right up to
Windsor; and there were big houses in all the gardens.  Ah!  England
was an important place in those days."

I was getting nettled, and said:  "What you mean is that you de-
cockneyised the place, and sent the damned flunkies packing, and that
everybody can live comfortably and happily, and not a few damned
thieves only, who were centres of vulgarity and corruption wherever
they were, and who, as to this lovely river, destroyed its beauty
morally, and had almost destroyed it physically, when they were
thrown out of it."

There was silence after this outburst, which for the life of me I
could not help, remembering how I had suffered from cockneyism and
its cause on those same waters of old time.  But at last the old man
said, quite coolly:

"My dear guest, I really don't know what you mean by either cockneys,
or flunkies, or thieves, or damned; or how only a few people could
live happily and comfortably in a wealthy country.  All I can see is
that you are angry, and I fear with me:  so if you like we will
change the subject."

I thought this kind and hospitable in him, considering his obstinacy
about his theory; and hastened to say that I did not mean to be
angry, only emphatic.  He bowed gravely, and I thought the storm was
over, when suddenly Ellen broke in:

"Grandfather, our guest is reticent from courtesy; but really what he
has in his mind to say to you ought to be said; so as I know pretty
well what it is, I will say it for him:  for as you know, I have been
taught these things by people who--"

"Yes," said the old man, "by the sage of Bloomsbury, and others."

"O," said Dick, "so you know my old kinsman Hammond?"

"Yes," said she, "and other people too, as my grandfather says, and
they have taught me things:  and this is the upshot of it.  We live
in a little house now, not because we have nothing grander to do than
working in the fields, but because we please; for if we liked, we
could go and live in a big house amongst pleasant companions."

Grumbled the old man:  "Just so!  As if I would live amongst those
conceited fellows; all of them looking down upon me!"

She smiled on him kindly, but went on as if he had not spoken.  "In
the past times, when those big houses of which grandfather speaks
were so plenty, we MUST have lived in a cottage whether we had liked
it or not; and the said cottage, instead of having in it everything
we want, would have been bare and empty.  We should not have got
enough to eat; our clothes would have been ugly to look at, dirty and
frowsy.  You, grandfather, have done no hard work for years now, but
wander about and read your books and have nothing to worry you; and
as for me, I work hard when I like it, because I like it, and think
it does me good, and knits up my muscles, and makes me prettier to
look at, and healthier and happier.  But in those past days you,
grandfather, would have had to work hard after you were old; and
would have been always afraid of having to be shut up in a kind of
prison along with other old men, half-starved and without amusement.
And as for me, I am twenty years old.  In those days my middle age
would be beginning now, and in a few years I should be pinched, thin,
and haggard, beset with troubles and miseries, so that no one could
have guessed that I was once a beautiful girl.

"Is this what you have had in your mind, guest?" said she, the tears
in her eyes at thought of the past miseries of people like herself.

"Yes," said I, much moved; "that and more.  Often--in my country I
have seen that wretched change you have spoken of, from the fresh
handsome country lass to the poor draggle-tailed country woman."

The old man sat silent for a little, but presently recovered himself
and took comfort in his old phrase of "Well, you like it so, do you?"

"Yes," said Ellen, "I love life better than death."

"O, you do, do you?" said he.  "Well, for my part I like reading a
good old book with plenty of fun in it, like Thackeray's 'Vanity
Fair.'  Why don't you write books like that now?  Ask that question
of your Bloomsbury sage."

Seeing Dick's cheeks reddening a little at this sally, and noting
that silence followed, I thought I had better do something.  So I
said:  "I am only the guest, friends; but I know you want to show me
your river at its best, so don't you think we had better be moving
presently, as it is certainly going to be a hot day?"



CHAPTER XXIV:  UP THE THAMES:  THE SECOND DAY



They were not slow to take my hint; and indeed, as to the mere time
of day, it was best for us to be off, as it was past seven o'clock,
and the day promised to be very hot.  So we got up and went down to
our boat--Ellen thoughtful and abstracted; the old man very kind and
courteous, as if to make up for his crabbedness of opinion.  Clara
was cheerful and natural, but a little subdued, I thought; and she at
least was not sorry to be gone, and often looked shyly and timidly at
Ellen and her strange wild beauty.  So we got into the boat, Dick
saying as he took his place, "Well, it IS a fine day!" and the old
man answering "What! you like that, do you?" once more; and presently
Dick was sending the bows swiftly through the slow weed-checked
stream.  I turned round as we got into mid-stream, and waving my hand
to our hosts, saw Ellen leaning on the old man's shoulder, and
caressing his healthy apple-red cheek, and quite a keen pang smote me
as I thought how I should never see the beautiful girl again.
Presently I insisted on taking the sculls, and I rowed a good deal
that day; which no doubt accounts for the fact that we got very late
to the place which Dick had aimed at.  Clara was particularly
affectionate to Dick, as I noticed from the rowing thwart; but as for
him, he was as frankly kind and merry as ever; and I was glad to see
it, as a man of his temperament could not have taken her caresses
cheerfully and without embarrassment if he had been at all entangled
by the fairy of our last night's abode.

I need say little about the lovely reaches of the river here.  I duly
noted that absence of cockney villas which the old man had lamented;
and I saw with pleasure that my old enemies the "Gothic" cast-iron
bridges had been replaced by handsome oak and stone ones.  Also the
banks of the forest that we passed through had lost their courtly
game-keeperish trimness, and were as wild and beautiful as need he,
though the trees were clearly well seen to.  I thought it best, in
order to get the most direct information, to play the innocent about
Eton and Windsor; but Dick volunteered his knowledge to me as we lay
in Datchet lock about the first.  Quoth he:

"Up yonder are some beautiful old buildings, which were built for a
great college or teaching-place by one of the mediaeval kings--Edward
the Sixth, I think" (I smiled to myself at his rather natural
blunder).  "He meant poor people's sons to be taught there what
knowledge was going in his days; but it was a matter of course that
in the times of which you seem to know so much they spoilt whatever
good there was in the founder's intentions.  My old kinsman says that
they treated them in a very simple way, and instead of teaching poor
men's sons to know something, they taught rich men's sons to know
nothing.  It seems from what he says that it was a place for the
'aristocracy' (if you know what that word means; I have been told its
meaning) to get rid of the company of their male children for a great
part of the year.  I daresay old Hammond would give you plenty of
information in detail about it."

"What is it used for now?" said I.

"Well," said he, "the buildings were a good deal spoilt by the last
few generations of aristocrats, who seem to have had a great hatred
against beautiful old buildings, and indeed all records of past
history; but it is still a delightful place.  Of course, we cannot
use it quite as the founder intended, since our ideas about teaching
young people are so changed from the ideas of his time; so it is used
now as a dwelling for people engaged in learning; and folk from round
about come and get taught things that they want to learn; and there
is a great library there of the best books.  So that I don't think
that the old dead king would be much hurt if he were to come to life
and see what we are doing there."

"Well," said Clara, laughing, "I think he would miss the boys."

"Not always, my dear," said Dick, "for there are often plenty of boys
there, who come to get taught; and also," said he, smiling, "to learn
boating and swimming.  I wish we could stop there:  but perhaps we
had better do that coming down the water."

The lock-gates opened as he spoke, and out we went, and on.  And as
for Windsor, he said nothing till I lay on my oars (for I was
sculling then) in Clewer reach, and looking up, said, "What is all
that building up there?"

Said he:  "There, I thought I would wait till you asked, yourself.
That is Windsor Castle:  that also I thought I would keep for you
till we come down the water.  It looks fine from here, doesn't it?
But a great deal of it has been built or skinned in the time of the
Degradation, and we wouldn't pull the buildings down, since they were
there; just as with the buildings of the Dung-Market.  You know, of
course, that it was the palace of our old mediaeval kings, and was
used later on for the same purpose by the parliamentary commercial
sham-kings, as my old kinsman calls them.''

"Yes," said I, "I know all that.  What is it used for now?"

"A great many people live there," said he, "as, with all drawbacks,
it is a pleasant place; there is also a well-arranged store of
antiquities of various kinds that have seemed worth keeping--a
museum, it would have been called in the times you understand so
well."

I drew my sculls through the water at that last word, and pulled as
if I were fleeing from those times which I understood so well; and we
were soon going up the once sorely be-cockneyed reaches of the river
about Maidenhead, which now looked as pleasant and enjoyable as the
up-river reaches.

The morning was now getting on, the morning of a jewel of a summer
day; one of those days which, if they were commoner in these islands,
would make our climate the best of all climates, without dispute.  A
light wind blew from the west; the little clouds that had arisen at
about our breakfast time had seemed to get higher and higher in the
heavens; and in spite of the burning sun we no more longed for rain
than we feared it.  Burning as the sun was, there was a fresh feeling
in the air that almost set us a-longing for the rest of the hot
afternoon, and the stretch of blossoming wheat seen from the shadow
of the boughs.  No one unburdened with very heavy anxieties could
have felt otherwise than happy that morning:  and it must be said
that whatever anxieties might lie beneath the surface of things, we
didn't seem to come across any of them.

We passed by several fields where haymaking was going on, but Dick,
and especially Clara, were so jealous of our up-river festival that
they would not allow me to have much to say to them.  I could only
notice that the people in the fields looked strong and handsome, both
men and women, and that so far from there being any appearance of
sordidness about their attire, they seemed to be dressed specially
for the occasion,--lightly, of course, but gaily and with plenty of
adornment.

Both on this day as well as yesterday we had, as you may think, met
and passed and been passed by many craft of one kind and another.
The most part of these were being rowed like ourselves, or were
sailing, in the sort of way that sailing is managed on the upper
reaches of the river; but every now and then we came on barges, laden
with hay or other country produce, or carrying bricks, lime, timber,
and the like, and these were going on their way without any means of
propulsion visible to me--just a man at the tiller, with often a
friend or two laughing and talking with him.  Dick, seeing on one
occasion this day, that I was looking rather hard on one of these,
said:  "That is one of our force-barges; it is quite as easy to work
vehicles by force by water as by land."

I understood pretty well that these "force vehicles" had taken the
place of our old steam-power carrying; but I took good care not to
ask any questions about them, as I knew well enough both that I
should never be able to understand how they were worked, and that in
attempting to do so I should betray myself, or get into some
complication impossible to explain; so I merely said, "Yes, of
course, I understand."

We went ashore at Bisham, where the remains of the old Abbey and the
Elizabethan house that had been added to them yet remained, none the
worse for many years of careful and appreciative habitation.  The
folk of the place, however, were mostly in the fields that day, both
men and women; so we met only two old men there, and a younger one
who had stayed at home to get on with some literary work, which I
imagine we considerably interrupted.  Yet I also think that the hard-
working man who received us was not very sorry for the interruption.
Anyhow, he kept on pressing us to stay over and over again, till at
last we did not get away till the cool of the evening.

However, that mattered little to us; the nights were light, for the
moon was shining in her third quarter, and it was all one to Dick
whether he sculled or sat quiet in the boat:  so we went away a great
pace.  The evening sun shone bright on the remains of the old
buildings at Medmenham; close beside which arose an irregular pile of
building which Dick told us was a very pleasant house; and there were
plenty of houses visible on the wide meadows opposite, under the
hill; for, as it seems that the beauty of Hurley had compelled people
to build and live there a good deal.  The sun very low down showed us
Henley little altered in outward aspect from what I remembered it.
Actual daylight failed us as we passed through the lovely reaches of
Wargrave and Shiplake; but the moon rose behind us presently.  I
should like to have seen with my eyes what success the new order of
things had had in getting rid of the sprawling mess with which
commercialism had littered the banks of the wide stream about Reading
and Caversham:  certainly everything smelt too deliciously in the
early night for there to be any of the old careless sordidness of so-
called manufacture; and in answer to my question as to what sort of a
place Reading was, Dick answered:

"O, a nice town enough in its way; mostly rebuilt within the last
hundred years; and there are a good many houses, as you can see by
the lights just down under the hills yonder.  In fact, it is one of
the most populous places on the Thames round about here.  Keep up
your spirits, guest! we are close to our journey's end for the night.
I ought to ask your pardon for not stopping at one of the houses here
or higher up; but a friend, who is living in a very pleasant house in
the Maple-Durham meads, particularly wanted me and Clara to come and
see him on our way up the Thames; and I thought you wouldn't mind
this bit of night travelling."

He need not have adjured me to keep up my spirits, which were as high
as possible; though the strangeness and excitement of the happy and
quiet life which I saw everywhere around me was, it is true, a little
wearing off, yet a deep content, as different as possible from
languid acquiescence, was taking its place, and I was, as it were,
really new-born.

We landed presently just where I remembered the river making an elbow
to the north towards the ancient house of the Blunts; with the wide
meadows spreading on the right-hand side, and on the left the long
line of beautiful old trees overhanging the water.  As we got out of
the boat, I said to Dick -

"Is it the old house we are going to?"

"No," he said, "though that is standing still in green old age, and
is well inhabited.  I see, by the way, that you know your Thames
well.  But my friend Walter Allen, who asked me to stop here, lives
in a house, not very big, which has been built here lately, because
these meadows are so much liked, especially in summer, that there was
getting to be rather too much of tenting on the open field; so the
parishes here about, who rather objected to that, built three houses
between this and Caversham, and quite a large one at Basildon, a
little higher up.  Look, yonder are the lights of Walter Allen's
house!"

So we walked over the grass of the meadows under a flood of
moonlight, and soon came to the house, which was low and built round
a quadrangle big enough to get plenty of sunshine in it.  Walter
Allen, Dick's friend, was leaning against the jamb of the doorway
waiting for us, and took us into the hall without overplus of words.
There were not many people in it, as some of the dwellers there were
away at the haymaking in the neighbourhood, and some, as Walter told
us, were wandering about the meadow enjoying the beautiful moonlit
night.  Dick's friend looked to be a man of about forty; tall, black-
haired, very kind-looking and thoughtful; but rather to my surprise
there was a shade of melancholy on his face, and he seemed a little
abstracted and inattentive to our chat, in spite of obvious efforts
to listen.

Dick looked on him from time to time, and seemed troubled; and at
last he said:  "I say, old fellow, if there is anything the matter
which we didn't know of when you wrote to me, don't you think you had
better tell us about it at once?  Or else we shall think we have come
here at an unlucky time, and are not quite wanted."

Walter turned red, and seemed to have some difficulty in restraining
his tears, but said at last:  "Of course everybody here is very glad
to see you, Dick, and your friends; but it is true that we are not at
our best, in spite of the fine weather and the glorious hay-crop.  We
have had a death here."

Said Dick:  "Well, you should get over that, neighbour:  such things
must be."

"Yes," Walter said, "but this was a death by violence, and it seems
likely to lead to at least one more; and somehow it makes us feel
rather shy of one another; and to say the truth, that is one reason
why there are so few of us present to-night."

"Tell us the story, Walter," said Dick; "perhaps telling it will help
you to shake off your sadness."

Said Walter:  "Well, I will; and I will make it short enough, though
I daresay it might be spun out into a long one, as used to be done
with such subjects in the old novels.  There is a very charming girl
here whom we all like, and whom some of us do more than like; and she
very naturally liked one of us better than anybody else.  And another
of us (I won't name him) got fairly bitten with love-madness, and
used to go about making himself as unpleasant as he could--not of
malice prepense, of course; so that the girl, who liked him well
enough at first, though she didn't love him, began fairly to dislike
him.  Of course, those of us who knew him best--myself amongst
others--advised him to go away, as he was making matters worse and
worse for himself every day.  Well, he wouldn't take our advice (that
also, I suppose, was a matter of course), so we had to tell him that
he MUST go, or the inevitable sending to Coventry would follow; for
his individual trouble had so overmastered him that we felt that WE
must go if he did not.

"He took that better than we expected, when something or other--an
interview with the girl, I think, and some hot words with the
successful lover following close upon it, threw him quite off his
balance; and he got hold of an axe and fell upon his rival when there
was no one by; and in the struggle that followed the man attacked,
hit him an unlucky blow and killed him.  And now the slayer in his
turn is so upset that he is like to kill himself; and if he does, the
girl will do as much, I fear.  And all this we could no more help
than the earthquake of the year before last."

"It is very unhappy," said Dick; "but since the man is dead, and
cannot be brought to life again, and since the slayer had no malice
in him, I cannot for the life of me see why he shouldn't get over it
before long.  Besides, it was the right man that was killed and not
the wrong.  Why should a man brood over a mere accident for ever?
And the girl?"

"As to her," said Walter, "the whole thing seems to have inspired her
with terror rather than grief.  What you say about the man is true,
or it should be; but then, you see, the excitement and jealousy that
was the prelude to this tragedy had made an evil and feverish element
round about him, from which he does not seem to be able to escape.
However, we have advised him to go away--in fact, to cross the seas;
but he is in such a state that I do not think he CAN go unless
someone TAKES him, and I think it will fall to my lot to do so; which
is scarcely a cheerful outlook for me."

"O, you will find a certain kind of interest in it," said Dick.  "And
of course he MUST soon look upon the affair from a reasonable point
of view sooner or later."

"Well, at any rate," quoth Walter, "now that I have eased my mind by
making you uncomfortable, let us have an end of the subject for the
present.  Are you going to take your guest to Oxford?"

"Why, of course we must pass through it," said Dick, smiling, "as we
are going into the upper waters:  but I thought that we wouldn't stop
there, or we shall be belated as to the haymaking up our way.  So
Oxford and my learned lecture on it, all got at second-hand from my
old kinsman, must wait till we come down the water a fortnight
hence."

I listened to this story with much surprise, and could not help
wondering at first that the man who had slain the other had not been
put in custody till it could be proved that he killed his rival in
self-defence only.  However, the more I thought of it, the plainer it
grew to me that no amount of examination of witnesses, who had
witnessed nothing but the ill-blood between the two rivals, would
have done anything to clear up the case.  I could not help thinking,
also, that the remorse of this homicide gave point to what old
Hammond had said to me about the way in which this strange people
dealt with what I had been used to hear called crimes.  Truly, the
remorse was exaggerated; but it was quite clear that the slayer took
the whole consequences of the act upon himself, and did not expect
society to whitewash him by punishing him.  I had no fear any longer
that "the sacredness of human life" was likely to suffer amongst my
friends from the absence of gallows and prison.



CHAPTER XXV:  THE THIRD DAY ON THE THAMES



As we went down to the boat next morning, Walter could not quite keep
off the subject of last night, though he was more hopeful than he had
been then, and seemed to think that if the unlucky homicide could not
be got to go over-sea, he might at any rate go and live somewhere in
the neighbourhood pretty much by himself; at any rate, that was what
he himself had proposed.  To Dick, and I must say to me also, this
seemed a strange remedy; and Dick said as much.  Quoth he:

"Friend Walter, don't set the man brooding on the tragedy by letting
him live alone.  That will only strengthen his idea that he has
committed a crime, and you will have him killing himself in good
earnest."

Said Clara:  "I don't know.  If I may say what I think of it, it is
that he had better have his fill of gloom now, and, so to say, wake
up presently to see how little need there has been for it; and then
he will live happily afterwards.  As for his killing himself, you
need not be afraid of that; for, from all you tell me, he is really
very much in love with the woman; and to speak plainly, until his
love is satisfied, he will not only stick to life as tightly as he
can, but will also make the most of every event of his life--will, so
to say, hug himself up in it; and I think that this is the real
explanation of his taking the whole matter with such an excess of
tragedy."

Walter looked thoughtful, and said:  "Well, you may be right; and
perhaps we should have treated it all more lightly:  but you see,
guest" (turning to me), "such things happen so seldom, that when they
do happen, we cannot help being much taken up with it.  For the rest,
we are all inclined, to excuse our poor friend for making us so
unhappy, on the ground that he does it out of an exaggerated respect
for human life and its happiness.  Well, I will say no more about it;
only this:  will you give me a cast up stream, as I want to look
after a lonely habitation for the poor fellow, since he will have it
so, and I hear that there is one which would suit us very well on the
downs beyond Streatley; so if you will put me ashore there I will
walk up the hill and look to it."

"Is the house in question empty?" said I.

"No," said Walter, "but the man who lives there will go out of it, of
course, when he hears that we want it.  You see, we think that the
fresh air of the downs and the very emptiness of the landscape will
do our friend good."

"Yes," said Clara, smiling, "and he will not be so far from his
beloved that they cannot easily meet if they have a mind to--as they
certainly will."

This talk had brought us down to the boat, and we were presently
afloat on the beautiful broad stream, Dick driving the prow swiftly
through the windless water of the early summer morning, for it was
not yet six o'clock.  We were at the lock in a very little time; and
as we lay rising and rising on the in-coming water, I could not help
wondering that my old friend the pound-lock, and that of the very
simplest and most rural kind, should hold its place there; so I said:

"I have been wondering, as we passed lock after lock, that you
people, so prosperous as you are, and especially since you are so
anxious for pleasant work to do, have not invented something which
would get rid of this clumsy business of going up-stairs by means of
these rude contrivances."

Dick laughed.  "My dear friend," said he, "as long as water has the
clumsy habit of running down hill, I fear we must humour it by going
up-stairs when we have our faces turned from the sea.  And really I
don't see why you should fall foul of Maple-Durham lock, which I
think a very pretty place."

There was no doubt about the latter assertion, I thought, as I looked
up at the overhanging boughs of the great trees, with the sun coming
glittering through the leaves, and listened to the song of the summer
blackbirds as it mingled with the sound of the backwater near us.  So
not being able to say why I wanted the locks away--which, indeed, I
didn't do at all--I held my peace.  But Walter said -

"You see, guest, this is not an age of inventions.  The last epoch
did all that for us, and we are now content to use such of its
inventions as we find handy, and leaving those alone which we don't
want.  I believe, as a matter of fact, that some time ago (I can't
give you a date) some elaborate machinery was used for the locks,
though people did not go so far as try to make the water run up hill.
However, it was troublesome, I suppose, and the simple hatches, and
the gates, with a big counterpoising beam, were found to answer every
purpose, and were easily mended when wanted with material always to
hand:  so here they are, as you see."

"Besides," said Dick, "this kind of lock is pretty, as you can see;
and I can't help thinking that your machine-lock, winding up like a
watch, would have been ugly and would have spoiled the look of the
river:  and that is surely reason enough for keeping such locks as
these.  Good-bye, old fellow!" said he to the lock, as he pushed us
out through the now open gates by a vigorous stroke of the boat-hook.
"May you live long, and have your green old age renewed for ever!"

On we went; and the water had the familiar aspect to me of the days
before Pangbourne had been thoroughly cocknified, as I have seen it.
It (Pangbourne) was distinctly a village still--i.e., a definite
group of houses, and as pretty as might be.  The beech-woods still
covered the hill that rose above Basildon; but the flat fields
beneath them were much more populous than I remembered them, as there
were five large houses in sight, very carefully designed so as not to
hurt the character of the country.  Down on the green lip of the
river, just where the water turns toward the Goring and Streatley
reaches, were half a dozen girls playing about on the grass.  They
hailed us as we were about passing them, as they noted that we were
travellers, and we stopped a minute to talk with them.  They had been
bathing, and were light clad and bare-footed, and were bound for the
meadows on the Berkshire side, where the haymaking had begun, and
were passing the time merrily enough till the Berkshire folk came in
their punt to fetch them.  At first nothing would content them but we
must go with them into the hay-field, and breakfast with them; but
Dick put forward his theory of beginning the hay-harvest higher up
the water, and not spoiling my pleasure therein by giving me a taste
of it elsewhere, and they gave way, though unwillingly.  In revenge
they asked me a great many questions about the country I came from
and the manners of life there, which I found rather puzzling to
answer; and doubtless what answers I did give were puzzling enough to
them.  I noticed both with these pretty girls and with everybody else
we met, that in default of serious news, such as we had heard at
Maple-Durham, they were eager to discuss all the little details of
life:  the weather, the hay-crop, the last new house, the plenty or
lack of such and such birds, and so on; and they talked of these
things not in a fatuous and conventional way, but as taking, I say,
real interest in them.  Moreover, I found that the women knew as much
about all these things as the men:  could name a flower, and knew its
qualities; could tell you the habitat of such and such birds and
fish, and the like.

It is almost strange what a difference this intelligence made in my
estimate of the country life of that day; for it used to be said in
past times, and on the whole truly, that outside their daily work
country people knew little of the country, and at least could tell
you nothing about it; while here were these people as eager about all
the goings on in the fields and woods and downs as if they had been
Cockneys newly escaped from the tyranny of bricks and mortar.

I may mention as a detail worth noticing that not only did there seem
to be a great many more birds about of the non-predatory kinds, but
their enemies the birds of prey were also commoner.  A kite hung over
our heads as we passed Medmenham yesterday; magpies were quite common
in the hedgerows; I saw several sparrow-hawks, and I think a merlin;
and now just as we were passing the pretty bridge which had taken the
place of Basildon railway-bridge, a couple of ravens croaked above
our boat, as they sailed off to the higher ground of the downs.  I
concluded from all this that the days of the gamekeeper were over,
and did not even need to ask Dick a question about it.



CHAPTER XXVI:  THE OBSTINATE REFUSERS



Before we parted from these girls we saw two sturdy young men and a
woman putting off from the Berkshire shore, and then Dick bethought
him of a little banter of the girls, and asked them how it was that
there was nobody of the male kind to go with them across the water,
and where their boats were gone to.  Said one, the youngest of the
party:  "O, they have got the big punt to lead stone from up the
water."

"Who do you mean by 'they,' dear child?" said Dick.

Said an older girl, laughing:  "You had better go and see them.  Look
there," and she pointed northwest, "don't you see building going on
there?"

"Yes," said Dick, "and I am rather surprised at this time of the
year; why are they not haymaking with you?"

The girls all laughed at this, and before their laugh was over, the
Berkshire boat had run on to the grass and the girls stepped in
lightly, still sniggering, while the new comers gave us the sele of
the day.  But before they were under way again, the tall girl said:

"Excuse us for laughing, dear neighbours, but we have had some
friendly bickering with the builders up yonder, and as we have no
time to tell you the story, you had better go and ask them:  they
will be glad to see you--if you don't hinder their work."

They all laughed again at that, and waved us a pretty farewell as the
punters set them over toward the other shore, and left us standing on
the bank beside our boat.

"Let us go and see them," said Clara; "that is, if you are not in a
hurry to get to Streatley, Walter?"

"O no," said Walter, "I shall be glad of the excuse to have a little
more of your company."

So we left the boat moored there, and went on up the slow slope of
the hill; but I said to Dick on the way, being somewhat mystified:
"What was all that laughing about? what was the joke!"

"I can guess pretty well," said Dick; "some of them up there have got
a piece of work which interests them, and they won't go to the
haymaking, which doesn't matter at all, because there are plenty of
people to do such easy-hard work as that; only, since haymaking is a
regular festival, the neighbours find it amusing to jeer good-
humouredly at them."

"I see," said I, "much as if in Dickens's time some young people were
so wrapped up in their work that they wouldn't keep Christmas."

"Just so," said Dick, "only these people need not be young either."

"But what did you mean by easy-hard work?" said I.

Quoth Dick:  "Did I say that?  I mean work that tries the muscles and
hardens them and sends you pleasantly weary to bed, but which isn't
trying in other ways:  doesn't harass you in short.  Such work is
always pleasant if you don't overdo it.  Only, mind you, good mowing
requires some little skill.  I'm a pretty good mower."

This talk brought us up to the house that was a-building, not a large
one, which stood at the end of a beautiful orchard surrounded by an
old stone wall.  "O yes, I see," said Dick; "I remember, a beautiful
place for a house:  but a starveling of a nineteenth century house
stood there:  I am glad they are rebuilding:  it's all stone, too,
though it need not have been in this part of the country:  my word,
though, they are making a neat job of it:  but I wouldn't have made
it all ashlar."

Walter and Clara were already talking to a tall man clad in his
mason's blouse, who looked about forty, but was I daresay older, who
had his mallet and chisel in hand; there were at work in the shed and
on the scaffold about half a dozen men and two women, blouse-clad
like the carles, while a very pretty woman who was not in the work
but was dressed in an elegant suit of blue linen came sauntering up
to us with her knitting in her hand.  She welcomed us and said,
smiling:  "So you are come up from the water to see the Obstinate
Refusers:  where are you going haymaking, neighbours?"

"O, right up above Oxford," said Dick; "it is rather a late country.
But what share have you got with the Refusers, pretty neighbour?"

Said she, with a laugh:  "O, I am the lucky one who doesn't want to
work; though sometimes I get it, for I serve as model to Mistress
Philippa there when she wants one:  she is our head carver; come and
see her."

She led us up to the door of the unfinished house, where a rather
little woman was working with mallet and chisel on the wall near by.
She seemed very intent on what she was doing, and did not turn round
when we came up; but a taller woman, quite a girl she seemed, who was
at work near by, had already knocked off, and was standing looking
from Clara to Dick with delighted eyes.  None of the others paid much
heed to us.

The blue-clad girl laid her hand on the carver's shoulder and said:
"Now Philippa, if you gobble up your work like that, you will soon
have none to do; and what will become of you then?"

The carver turned round hurriedly and showed us the face of a woman
of forty (or so she seemed), and said rather pettishly, but in a
sweet voice:

"Don't talk nonsense, Kate, and don't interrupt me if you can help
it."  She stopped short when she saw us, then went on with the kind
smile of welcome which never failed us.  "Thank you for coming to see
us, neighbours; but I am sure that you won't think me unkind if I go
on with my work, especially when I tell you that I was ill and unable
to do anything all through April and May; and this open-air and the
sun and the work together, and my feeling well again too, make a mere
delight of every hour to me; and excuse me, I must go on."

She fell to work accordingly on a carving in low relief of flowers
and figures, but talked on amidst her mallet strokes:  "You see, we
all think this the prettiest place for a house up and down these
reaches; and the site has been so long encumbered with an unworthy
one, that we masons were determined to pay off fate and destiny for
once, and build the prettiest house we could compass here--and so--
and so--"

Here she lapsed into mere carving, but the tall foreman came up and
said:  "Yes, neighbours, that is it:  so it is going to be all ashlar
because we want to carve a kind of a wreath of flowers and figures
all round it; and we have been much hindered by one thing or other--
Philippa's illness amongst others,--and though we could have managed
our wreath without her--"

"Could you, though?" grumbled the last-named from the face of the
wall.

"Well, at any rate, she is our best carver, and it would not have
been kind to begin the carving without her.  So you see," said he,
looking at Dick and me, "we really couldn't go haymaking, could we,
neighbours?  But you see, we are getting on so fast now with this
splendid weather, that I think we may well spare a week or ten days
at wheat-harvest; and won't we go at that work then!  Come down then
to the acres that lie north and by west here at our backs and you
shall see good harvesters, neighbours.

"Hurrah, for a good brag!" called a voice from the scaffold above us;
"our foreman thinks that an easier job than putting one stone on
another!"

There was a general laugh at this sally, in which the tall foreman
joined; and with that we saw a lad bringing out a little table into
the shadow of the stone-shed, which he set down there, and then going
back, came out again with the inevitable big wickered flask and tall
glasses, whereon the foreman led us up to due seats on blocks of
stone, and said:

"Well, neighbours, drink to my brag coming true, or I shall think you
don't believe me!  Up there!" said he, hailing the scaffold, "are you
coming down for a glass?"  Three of the workmen came running down the
ladder as men with good "building legs" will do; but the others
didn't answer, except the joker (if he must so be called), who called
out without turning round:  "Excuse me, neighbours for not getting
down.  I must get on:  my work is not superintending, like the
gaffer's yonder; but, you fellows, send us up a glass to drink the
haymakers' health."  Of course, Philippa would not turn away from her
beloved work; but the other woman carver came; she turned out to be
Philippa's daughter, but was a tall strong girl, black-haired and
gipsey-like of face and curiously solemn of manner.  The rest
gathered round us and clinked glasses, and the men on the scaffold
turned about and drank to our healths; but the busy little woman by
the door would have none of it all, but only shrugged her shoulders
when her daughter came up to her and touched her.

So we shook hands and turned our backs on the Obstinate Refusers,
went down the slope to our boat, and before we had gone many steps
heard the full tune of tinkling trowels mingle with the humming of
the bees and the singing of the larks above the little plain of
Basildon.



CHAPTER XXVII:  THE UPPER WATERS



We set Walter ashore on the Berkshire side, amidst all the beauties
of Streatley, and so went our ways into what once would have been the
deeper country under the foot-hills of the White Horse; and though
the contrast between half-cocknified and wholly unsophisticated
country existed no longer, a feeling of exultation rose within me (as
it used to do) at sight of the familiar and still unchanged hills of
the Berkshire range.

We stopped at Wallingford for our mid-day meal; of course, all signs
of squalor and poverty had disappeared from the streets of the
ancient town, and many ugly houses had been taken down and many
pretty new ones built, but I thought it curious, that the town still
looked like the old place I remembered so well; for indeed it looked
like that ought to have looked.

At dinner we fell in with an old, but very bright and intelligent
man, who seemed in a country way to be another edition of old
Hammond.  He had an extraordinary detailed knowledge of the ancient
history of the country-side from the time of Alfred to the days of
the Parliamentary Wars, many events of which, as you may know, were
enacted round about Wallingford.  But, what was more interesting to
us, he had detailed record of the period of the change to the present
state of things, and told us a great deal about it, and especially of
that exodus of the people from the town to the country, and the
gradual recovery by the town-bred people on one side, and the
country-bred people on the other, of those arts of life which they
had each lost; which loss, as he told us, had at one time gone so far
that not only was it impossible to find a carpenter or a smith in a
village or small country town, but that people in such places had
even forgotten how to bake bread, and that at Wallingford, for
instance, the bread came down with the newspapers by an early train
from London, worked in some way, the explanation of which I could not
understand.  He told us also that the townspeople who came into the
country used to pick up the agricultural arts by carefully watching
the way in which the machines worked, gathering an idea of handicraft
from machinery; because at that time almost everything in and about
the fields was done by elaborate machines used quite unintelligently
by the labourers.  On the other hand, the old men amongst the
labourers managed to teach the younger ones gradually a little
artizanship, such as the use of the saw and the plane, the work of
the smithy, and so forth; for once more, by that time it was as much
as--or rather, more than--a man could do to fix an ash pole to a rake
by handiwork; so that it would take a machine worth a thousand
pounds, a group of workmen, and half a day's travelling, to do five
shillings' worth of work.  He showed us, among other things, an
account of a certain village council who were working hard at all
this business; and the record of their intense earnestness in getting
to the bottom of some matter which in time past would have been
thought quite trivial, as, for example, the due proportions of alkali
and oil for soap-making for the village wash, or the exact heat of
the water into which a leg of mutton should be plunged for boiling--
all this joined to the utter absence of anything like party feeling,
which even in a village assembly would certainly have made its
appearance in an earlier epoch, was very amusing, and at the same
time instructive.

This old man, whose name was Henry Morsom, took us, after our meal
and a rest, into a biggish hall which contained a large collection of
articles of manufacture and art from the last days of the machine
period to that day; and he went over them with us, and explained them
with great care.  They also were very interesting, showing the
transition from the makeshift work of the machines (which was at
about its worst a little after the Civil War before told of) into the
first years of the new handicraft period.  Of course, there was much
overlapping of the periods:  and at first the new handwork came in
very slowly.

"You must remember," said the old antiquary, "that the handicraft was
not the result of what used to be called material necessity:  on the
contrary, by that time the machines had been so much improved that
almost all necessary work might have been done by them:  and indeed
many people at that time, and before it, used to think that machinery
would entirely supersede handicraft; which certainly, on the face of
it, seemed more than likely.  But there was another opinion, far less
logical, prevalent amongst the rich people before the days of
freedom, which did not die out at once after that epoch had begun.
This opinion, which from all I can learn seemed as natural then, as
it seems absurd now, was, that while the ordinary daily work of the
world would be done entirely by automatic machinery, the energies of
the more intelligent part of mankind would be set free to follow the
higher forms of the arts, as well as science and the study of
history.  It was strange, was it not, that they should thus ignore
that aspiration after complete equality which we now recognise as the
bond of all happy human society?"

I did not answer, but thought the more.  Dick looked thoughtful, and
said:

"Strange, neighbour?  Well, I don't know.  I have often heard my old
kinsman say the one aim of all people before our time was to avoid
work, or at least they thought it was; so of course the work which
their daily life forced them to do, seemed more like work than that
which they seemed to choose for themselves."

"True enough," said Morsom.  "Anyhow, they soon began to find out
their mistake, and that only slaves and slaveholders could live
solely by setting machines going."

Clara broke in here, flushing a little as she spoke:  "Was not their
mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been
living?--a life which was always looking upon everything, except
mankind, animate and inanimate--'nature,' as people used to call it--
as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people
thinking in this way, that they should try to make 'nature' their
slave, since they thought 'nature' was something outside them."

"Surely," said Morsom; "and they were puzzled as to what to do, till
they found the feeling against a mechanical life, which had begun
before the Great Change amongst people who had leisure to think of
such things, was spreading insensibly; till at last under the guise
of pleasure that was not supposed to be work, work that was pleasure
began to push out the mechanical toil, which they had once hoped at
the best to reduce to narrow limits indeed, but never to get rid of;
and which, moreover, they found they could not limit as they had
hoped to do."

"When did this new revolution gather head?" said I.

"In the half-century that followed the Great Change," said Morsom,
"it began to be noteworthy; machine after machine was quietly dropped
under the excuse that the machines could not produce works of art,
and that works of art were more and more called for.  Look here," he
said, "here are some of the works of that time--rough and unskilful
in handiwork, but solid and showing some sense of pleasure in the
making."

"They are very curious," said I, taking up a piece of pottery from
amongst the specimens which the antiquary was showing us; "not a bit
like the work of either savages or barbarians, and yet with what
would once have been called a hatred of civilisation impressed upon
them."

"Yes," said Morsom, "you must not look for delicacy there:  in that
period you could only have got that from a man who was practically a
slave.  But now, you see," said he, leading me on a little, "we have
learned the trick of handicraft, and have added the utmost refinement
of workmanship to the freedom of fancy and imagination."

I looked, and wondered indeed at the deftness and abundance of beauty
of the work of men who had at last learned to accept life itself as a
pleasure, and the satisfaction of the common needs of mankind and the
preparation for them, as work fit for the best of the race.  I mused
silently; but at last I said -

"What is to come after this?"

The old man laughed.  "I don't know," said he; "we will meet it when
it comes."

"Meanwhile," quoth Dick, "we have got to meet the rest of our day's
journey; so out into the street and down to the strand!  Will you
come a turn with us, neighbour?  Our friend is greedy of your
stories."

"I will go as far as Oxford with you," said he; "I want a book or two
out of the Bodleian Library.  I suppose you will sleep in the old
city?"

"No," said Dick, "we are going higher up; the hay is waiting us
there, you know."

Morsom nodded, and we all went into the street together, and got into
the boat a little above the town bridge.  But just as Dick was
getting the sculls into the rowlocks, the bows of another boat came
thrusting through the low arch.  Even at first sight it was a gay
little craft indeed--bright green, and painted over with elegantly
drawn flowers.  As it cleared the arch, a figure as bright and gay-
clad as the boat rose up in it; a slim girl dressed in light blue
silk that fluttered in the draughty wind of the bridge.  I thought I
knew the figure, and sure enough, as she turned her head to us, and
showed her beautiful face, I saw with joy that it was none other than
the fairy godmother from the abundant garden on Runnymede--Ellen, to
wit.

We all stopped to receive her.  Dick rose in the boat and cried out a
genial good morrow; I tried to be as genial as Dick, but failed;
Clara waved a delicate hand to her; and Morsom nodded and looked on
with interest.  As to Ellen, the beautiful brown of her face was
deepened by a flush, as she brought the gunwale of her boat alongside
ours, and said:

"You see, neighbours, I had some doubt if you would all three come
back past Runnymede, or if you did, whether you would stop there; and
besides, I am not sure whether we--my father and I--shall not be away
in a week or two, for he wants to see a brother of his in the north
country, and I should not like him to go without me.  So I thought I
might never see you again, and that seemed uncomfortable to me, and--
and so I came after you."

"Well," said Dick, "I am sure we are all very glad of that; although
you may be sure that as for Clara and me, we should have made a point
of coming to see you, and of coming the second time, if we had found
you away the first.  But, dear neighbour, there you are alone in the
boat, and you have been sculling pretty hard I should think, and
might find a little quiet sitting pleasant; so we had better part our
company into two."

"Yes," said Ellen, "I thought you would do that, so I have brought a
rudder for my boat:  will you help me to ship it, please?"

And she went aft in her boat and pushed along our side till she had
brought the stern close to Dick's hand.  He knelt down in our boat
and she in hers, and the usual fumbling took place over hanging the
rudder on its hooks; for, as you may imagine, no change had taken
place in the arrangement of such an unimportant matter as the rudder
of a pleasure-boat.  As the two beautiful young faces bent over the
rudder, they seemed to me to be very close together, and though it
only lasted a moment, a sort of pang shot through me as I looked on.
Clara sat in her place and did not look round, but presently she
said, with just the least stiffness in her tone:

"How shall we divide?  Won't you go into Ellen's boat, Dick, since,
without offence to our guest, you are the better sculler?"

Dick stood up and laid his hand on her shoulder, and said:  "No, no;
let Guest try what he can do--he ought to be getting into training
now.  Besides, we are in no hurry:  we are not going far above
Oxford; and even if we are benighted, we shall have the moon, which
will give us nothing worse of a night than a greyer day."

"Besides," said I, "I may manage to do a little more with my sculling
than merely keeping the boat from drifting down stream."

They all laughed at this, as if it had a been very good joke; and I
thought that Ellen's laugh, even amongst the others, was one of the
pleasantest sounds I had ever heard.

To be short, I got into the new-come boat, not a little elated, and
taking the sculls, set to work to show off a little.  For--must I say
it?--I felt as if even that happy world were made the happier for my
being so near this strange girl; although I must say that of all the
persons I had seen in that world renewed, she was the most unfamiliar
to me, the most unlike what I could have thought of.  Clara, for
instance, beautiful and bright as she was, was not unlike a VERY
pleasant and unaffected young lady; and the other girls also seemed
nothing more than specimens of very much improved types which I had
known in other times.  But this girl was not only beautiful with a
beauty quite different from that of "a young lady," but was in all
ways so strangely interesting; so that I kept wondering what she
would say or do next to surprise and please me.  Not, indeed, that
there was anything startling in what she actually said or did; but it
was all done in a new way, and always with that indefinable interest
and pleasure of life, which I had noticed more or less in everybody,
but which in her was more marked and more charming than in anyone
else that I had seen.

We were soon under way and going at a fair pace through the beautiful
reaches of the river, between Bensington and Dorchester.  It was now
about the middle of the afternoon, warm rather than hot, and quite
windless; the clouds high up and light, pearly white, and gleaming,
softened the sun's burning, but did not hide the pale blue in most
places, though they seemed to give it height and consistency; the
sky, in short, looked really like a vault, as poets have sometimes
called it, and not like mere limitless air, but a vault so vast and
full of light that it did not in any way oppress the spirits.  It was
the sort of afternoon that Tennyson must have been thinking about,
when he said of the Lotos-Eaters' land that it was a land where it
was always afternoon.

Ellen leaned back in the stern and seemed to enjoy herself
thoroughly.  I could see that she was really looking at things and
let nothing escape her, and as I watched her, an uncomfortable
feeling that she had been a little touched by love of the deft,
ready, and handsome Dick, and that she had been constrained to follow
us because of it, faded out of my mind; since if it had been so, she
surely could not have been so excitedly pleased, even with the
beautiful scenes we were passing through.  For some time she did not
say much, but at last, as we had passed under Shillingford Bridge
(new built, but somewhat on its old lines), she bade me hold the boat
while she had a good look at the landscape through the graceful arch.
Then she turned about to me and said:

"I do not know whether to be sorry or glad that this is the first
time that I have been in these reaches.  It is true that it is a
great pleasure to see all this for the first time; but if I had had a
year or two of memory of it, how sweetly it would all have mingled
with my life, waking or dreaming!  I am so glad Dick has been pulling
slowly, so as to linger out the time here.  How do you feel about
your first visit to these waters?"

I do not suppose she meant a trap for me, but anyhow I fell into it,
and said:  "My first visit!  It is not my first visit by many a time.
I know these reaches well; indeed, I may say that I know every yard
of the Thames from Hammersmith to Cricklade."

I saw the complications that might follow, as her eyes fixed mine
with a curious look in them, that I had seen before at Runnymede,
when I had said something which made it difficult for others to
understand my present position amongst these people.  I reddened, and
said, in order to cover my mistake:  "I wonder you have never been up
so high as this, since you live on the Thames, and moreover row so
well that it would be no great labour to you.  Let alone," quoth I,
insinuatingly, "that anybody would be glad to row you."

She laughed, clearly not at my compliment (as I am sure she need not
have done, since it was a very commonplace fact), but at something
which was stirring in her mind; and she still looked at me kindly,
but with the above-said keen look in her eyes, and then she said:

"Well, perhaps it is strange, though I have a good deal to do at
home, what with looking after my father, and dealing with two or
three young men who have taken a special liking to me, and all of
whom I cannot please at once.  But you, dear neighbour; it seems to
me stranger that you should know the upper river, than that I should
not know it; for, as I understand, you have only been in England a
few days.  But perhaps you mean that you have read about it in books,
and seen pictures of it?--though that does not come to much, either."

"Truly," said I.  "Besides, I have not read any books about the
Thames:  it was one of the minor stupidities of our time that no one
thought fit to write a decent book about what may fairly be called
our only English river."

The words were no sooner out of my mouth than I saw that I had made
another mistake; and I felt really annoyed with myself, as I did not
want to go into a long explanation just then, or begin another series
of Odyssean lies.  Somehow, Ellen seemed to see this, and she took no
advantage of my slip; her piercing look changed into one of mere
frank kindness, and she said:

"Well, anyhow I am glad that I am travelling these waters with you,
since you know our river so well, and I know little of it past
Pangbourne, for you can tell me all I want to know about it."  She
paused a minute, and then said:  "Yet you must understand that the
part I do know, I know as thoroughly as you do.  I should be sorry
for you to think that I am careless of a thing so beautiful and
interesting as the Thames."

She said this quite earnestly, and with an air of affectionate appeal
to me which pleased me very much; but I could see that she was only
keeping her doubts about me for another time.

Presently we came to Day's Lock, where Dick and his two sitters had
waited for us.  He would have me go ashore, as if to show me
something which I had never seen before; and nothing loth I followed
him, Ellen by my side, to the well-remembered Dykes, and the long
church beyond them, which was still used for various purposes by the
good folk of Dorchester:  where, by the way, the village guest-house
still had the sign of the Fleur-de-luce which it used to bear in the
days when hospitality had to be bought and sold.  This time, however,
I made no sign of all this being familiar to me:  though as we sat
for a while on the mound of the Dykes looking up at Sinodun and its
clear-cut trench, and its sister mamelon of Whittenham, I felt
somewhat uncomfortable under Ellen's serious attentive look, which
almost drew from me the cry, "How little anything is changed here!"

We stopped again at Abingdon, which, like Wallingford, was in a way
both old and new to me, since it had been lifted out of its
nineteenth-century degradation, and otherwise was as little altered
as might be.

Sunset was in the sky as we skirted Oxford by Oseney; we stopped a
minute or two hard by the ancient castle to put Henry Morsom ashore.
It was a matter of course that so far as they could be seen from the
river, I missed none of the towers and spires of that once don-
beridden city; but the meadows all round, which, when I had last
passed through them, were getting daily more and more squalid, more
and more impressed with the seal of the "stir and intellectual life
of the nineteenth century," were no longer intellectual, but had once
again become as beautiful as they should be, and the little hill of
Hinksey, with two or three very pretty stone houses new-grown on it
(I use the word advisedly; for they seemed to belong to it) looked
down happily on the full streams and waving grass, grey now, but for
the sunset, with its fast-ripening seeds.

The railway having disappeared, and therewith the various level
bridges over the streams of Thames, we were soon through Medley Lock
and in the wide water that washes Port Meadow, with its numerous
population of geese nowise diminished; and I thought with interest
how its name and use had survived from the older imperfect communal
period, through the time of the confused struggle and tyranny of the
rights of property, into the present rest and happiness of complete
Communism.

I was taken ashore again at Godstow, to see the remains of the old
nunnery, pretty nearly in the same condition as I had remembered
them; and from the high bridge over the cut close by, I could see,
even in the twilight, how beautiful the little village with its grey
stone houses had become; for we had now come into the stone-country,
in which every house must be either built, walls and roof, of grey
stone or be a blot on the landscape.

We still rowed on after this, Ellen taking the sculls in my boat; we
passed a weir a little higher up, and about three miles beyond it
came by moonlight again to a little town, where we slept at a house
thinly inhabited, as its folk were mostly tented in the hay-fields.



CHAPTER XXVIII:  THE LITTLE RIVER



We started before six o'clock the next morning, as we were still
twenty-five miles from our resting place, and Dick wanted to be there
before dusk.  The journey was pleasant, though to those who do not
know the upper Thames, there is little to say about it.  Ellen and I
were once more together in her boat, though Dick, for fairness' sake,
was for having me in his, and letting the two women scull the green
toy.  Ellen, however, would not allow this, but claimed me as the
interesting person of the company.  "After having come so far," said
she, "I will not be put off with a companion who will be always
thinking of somebody else than me:  the guest is the only person who
can amuse me properly.  I mean that really," said she, turning to me,
"and have not said it merely as a pretty saying."

Clara blushed and looked very happy at all this; for I think up to
this time she had been rather frightened of Ellen.  As for me I felt
young again, and strange hopes of my youth were mingling with the
pleasure of the present; almost destroying it, and quickening it into
something like pain.

As we passed through the short and winding reaches of the now quickly
lessening stream, Ellen said:  "How pleasant this little river is to
me, who am used to a great wide wash of water; it almost seems as if
we shall have to stop at every reach-end.  I expect before I get home
this evening I shall have realised what a little country England is,
since we can so soon get to the end of its biggest river."

"It is not big," said I, "but it is pretty."

"Yes," she said, "and don't you find it difficult to imagine the
times when this little pretty country was treated by its folk as if
it had been an ugly characterless waste, with no delicate beauty to
be guarded, with no heed taken of the ever fresh pleasure of the
recurring seasons, and changeful weather, and diverse quality of the
soil, and so forth?  How could people be so cruel to themselves?"

"And to each other," said I.  Then a sudden resolution took hold of
me, and I said:  "Dear neighbour, I may as well tell you at once that
I find it easier to imagine all that ugly past than you do, because I
myself have been part of it.  I see both that you have divined
something of this in me; and also I think you will believe me when I
tell you of it, so that I am going to hide nothing from you at all."

She was silent a little, and then she said:  "My friend, you have
guessed right about me; and to tell you the truth I have followed you
up from Runnymede in order that I might ask you many questions, and
because I saw that you were not one of us; and that interested and
pleased me, and I wanted to make you as happy as you could be.  To
say the truth, there was a risk in it," said she, blushing--"I mean
as to Dick and Clara; for I must tell you, since we are going to be
such close friends, that even amongst us, where there are so many
beautiful women, I have often troubled men's minds disastrously.
That is one reason why I was living alone with my father in the
cottage at Runnymede.  But it did not answer on that score; for of
course people came there, as the place is not a desert, and they
seemed to find me all the more interesting for living alone like
that, and fell to making stories of me to themselves--like I know you
did, my friend.  Well, let that pass.  This evening, or to-morrow
morning, I shall make a proposal to you to do something which would
please me very much, and I think would not hurt you."

I broke in eagerly, saying that I would do anything in the world for
her; for indeed, in spite of my years and the too obvious signs of
them (though that feeling of renewed youth was not a mere passing
sensation, I think)--in spite of my years, I say, I felt altogether
too happy in the company of this delightful girl, and was prepared to
take her confidences for more than they meant perhaps.

She laughed now, but looked very kindly on me.  "Well," she said,
"meantime for the present we will let it be; for I must look at this
new country that we are passing through.  See how the river has
changed character again:  it is broad now, and the reaches are long
and very slow-running.  And look, there is a ferry!"

I told her the name of it, as I slowed off to put the ferry-chain
over our heads; and on we went passing by a bank clad with oak trees
on our left hand, till the stream narrowed again and deepened, and we
rowed on between walls of tall reeds, whose population of reed
sparrows and warblers were delightfully restless, twittering and
chuckling as the wash of the boats stirred the reeds from the water
upwards in the still, hot morning.

She smiled with pleasure, and her lazy enjoyment of the new scene
seemed to bring out her beauty doubly as she leaned back amidst the
cushions, though she was far from languid; her idleness being the
idleness of a person, strong and well-knit both in body and mind,
deliberately resting.

"Look!" she said, springing up suddenly from her place without any
obvious effort, and balancing herself with exquisite grace and ease;
"look at the beautiful old bridge ahead!"

"I need scarcely look at that," said I, not turning my head away from
her beauty.  "I know what it is; though" (with a smile) "we used not
to call it the Old Bridge time agone."

She looked down upon me kindly, and said, "How well we get on now you
are no longer on your guard against me!"

And she stood looking thoughtfully at me still, till she had to sit
down as we passed under the middle one of the row of little pointed
arches of the oldest bridge across the Thames.

"O the beautiful fields!" she said; "I had no idea of the charm of a
very small river like this.  The smallness of the scale of
everything, the short reaches, and the speedy change of the banks,
give one a feeling of going somewhere, of coming to something
strange, a feeling of adventure which I have not felt in bigger
waters."

I looked up at her delightedly; for her voice, saying the very thing
which I was thinking, was like a caress to me.  She caught my eye and
her cheeks reddened under their tan, and she said simply:

"I must tell you, my friend, that when my father leaves the Thames
this summer he will take me away to a place near the Roman wall in
Cumberland; so that this voyage of mine is farewell to the south; of
course with my goodwill in a way; and yet I am sorry for it.  I
hadn't the heart to tell Dick yesterday that we were as good as gone
from the Thames-side; but somehow to you I must needs tell it."

She stopped and seemed very thoughtful for awhile, and then said
smiling:

"I must say that I don't like moving about from one home to another;
one gets so pleasantly used to all the detail of the life about one;
it fits so harmoniously and happily into one's own life, that
beginning again, even in a small way, is a kind of pain.  But I
daresay in the country which you come from, you would think this
petty and unadventurous, and would think the worse of me for it."

She smiled at me caressingly as she spoke, and I made haste to
answer:  "O, no, indeed; again you echo my very thoughts.  But I
hardly expected to hear you speak so.  I gathered from all I have
heard that there was a great deal of changing of abode amongst you in
this country."

"Well," she said, "of course people are free to move about; but
except for pleasure-parties, especially in harvest and hay-time, like
this of ours, I don't think they do so much.  I admit that I also
have other moods than that of stay-at-home, as I hinted just now, and
I should like to go with you all through the west country--thinking
of nothing," concluded she smiling.

"I should have plenty to think of," said I.



CHAPTER XXIX:  A RESTING-PLACE ON THE UPPER THAMES



Presently at a place where the river flowed round a headland of the
meadows, we stopped a while for rest and victuals, and settled
ourselves on a beautiful bank which almost reached the dignity of a
hill-side:  the wide meadows spread before us, and already the scythe
was busy amidst the hay.  One change I noticed amidst the quiet
beauty of the fields--to wit, that they were planted with trees here
and there, often fruit-trees, and that there was none of the
niggardly begrudging of space to a handsome tree which I remembered
too well; and though the willows were often polled (or shrowded, as
they call it in that country-side), this was done with some regard to
beauty:  I mean that there was no polling of rows on rows so as to
destroy the pleasantness of half a mile of country, but a thoughtful
sequence in the cutting, that prevented a sudden bareness anywhere.
To be short, the fields were everywhere treated as a garden made for
the pleasure as well as the livelihood of all, as old Hammond told me
was the case.

On this bank or bent of the hill, then, we had our mid-day meal;
somewhat early for dinner, if that mattered, but we had been stirring
early:  the slender stream of the Thames winding below us between the
garden of a country I have been telling of; a furlong from us was a
beautiful little islet begrown with graceful trees; on the slopes
westward of us was a wood of varied growth overhanging the narrow
meadow on the south side of the river; while to the north was a wide
stretch of mead rising very gradually from the river's edge.  A
delicate spire of an ancient building rose up from out of the trees
in the middle distance, with a few grey houses clustered about it;
while nearer to us, in fact not half a furlong from the water, was a
quite modern stone house--a wide quadrangle of one story, the
buildings that made it being quite low.  There was no garden between
it and the river, nothing but a row of pear-trees still quite young
and slender; and though there did not seem to be much ornament about
it, it had a sort of natural elegance, like that of the trees
themselves.

As we sat looking down on all this in the sweet June day, rather
happy than merry, Ellen, who sat next me, her hand clasped about one
knee, leaned sideways to me, and said in a low voice which Dick and
Clara might have noted if they had not been busy in happy wordless
love-making:  "Friend, in your country were the houses of your field-
labourers anything like that?"

I said:  "Well, at any rate the houses of our rich men were not; they
were mere blots upon the face of the land."

"I find that hard to understand," she said.  "I can see why the
workmen, who were so oppressed, should not have been able to live in
beautiful houses; for it takes time and leisure, and minds not over-
burdened with care, to make beautiful dwellings; and I quite
understand that these poor people were not allowed to live in such a
way as to have these (to us) necessary good things.  But why the rich
men, who had the time and the leisure and the materials for building,
as it would be in this case, should not have housed themselves well,
I do not understand as yet.  I know what you are meaning to say to
me," she said, looking me full in the eyes and blushing, "to wit that
their houses and all belonging to them were generally ugly and base,
unless they chanced to be ancient like yonder remnant of our
forefathers' work" (pointing to the spire); "that they were--let me
see; what is the word?"

"Vulgar," said I.  "We used to say," said I, "that the ugliness and
vulgarity of the rich men's dwellings was a necessary reflection from
the sordidness and bareness of life which they forced upon the poor
people."

She knit her brows as in thought; then turned a brightened face on
me, as if she had caught the idea, and said:  "Yes, friend, I see
what you mean.  We have sometimes--those of us who look into these
things--talked this very matter over; because, to say the truth, we
have plenty of record of the so-called arts of the time before
Equality of Life; and there are not wanting people who say that the
state of that society was not the cause of all that ugliness; that
they were ugly in their life because they liked to be, and could have
had beautiful things about them if they had chosen; just as a man or
body of men now may, if they please, make things more or less
beautiful--Stop!  I know what you are going to say."

"Do you?" said I, smiling, yet with a beating heart.

"Yes," she said; "you are answering me, teaching me, in some way or
another, although you have not spoken the words aloud.  You were
going to say that in times of inequality it was an essential
condition of the life of these rich men that they should not
themselves make what they wanted for the adornment of their lives,
but should force those to make them whom they forced to live pinched
and sordid lives; and that as a necessary consequence the sordidness
and pinching, the ugly barrenness of those ruined lives, were worked
up into the adornment of the lives of the rich, and art died out
amongst men?  Was that what you would say, my friend?"

"Yes, yes," I said, looking at her eagerly; for she had risen and was
standing on the edge of the bent, the light wind stirring her dainty
raiment, one hand laid on her bosom, the other arm stretched downward
and clenched in her earnestness.

"It is true," she said, "it is true!  We have proved it true!"

I think amidst my--something more than interest in her, and
admiration for her, I was beginning to wonder how it would all end.
I had a glimmering of fear of what might follow; of anxiety as to the
remedy which this new age might offer for the missing of something
one might set one's heart on.  But now Dick rose to his feet and
cried out in his hearty manner:  "Neighbour Ellen, are you
quarrelling with the guest, or are you worrying him to tell you
things which he cannot properly explain to our ignorance?"

"Neither, dear neighbour," she said.  "I was so far from quarrelling
with him that I think I have been making him good friends both with
himself and me.  Is it so, dear guest?" she said, looking down at me
with a delightful smile of confidence in being understood.

"Indeed it is," said I.

"Well, moreover," she said, "I must say for him that he has explained
himself to me very well indeed, so that I quite understand him."

"All right," quoth Dick.  "When I first set eyes on you at Runnymede
I knew that there was something wonderful in your keenness of wits.
I don't say that as a mere pretty speech to please you," said he
quickly, "but because it is true; and it made me want to see more of
you.  But, come, we ought to be going; for we are not half way, and
we ought to be in well before sunset."

And therewith he took Clara's hand, and led her down the bent.  But
Ellen stood thoughtfully looking down for a little, and as I took her
hand to follow Dick, she turned round to me and said:

"You might tell me a great deal and make many things clear to me, if
you would."

"Yes," said I, "I am pretty well fit for that,--and for nothing else-
-an old man like me."

She did not notice the bitterness which, whether I liked it or not,
was in my voice as I spoke, but went on:  "It is not so much for
myself; I should be quite content to dream about past times, and if I
could not idealise them, yet at least idealise some of the people who
lived in them.  But I think sometimes people are too careless of the
history of the past--too apt to leave it in the hands of old learned
men like Hammond.  Who knows?  Happy as we are, times may alter; we
may be bitten with some impulse towards change, and many things may
seem too wonderful for us to resist, too exciting not to catch at, if
we do not know that they are but phases of what has been before; and
withal ruinous, deceitful, and sordid."

As we went slowly down toward the boats she said again:  "Not for
myself alone, dear friend; I shall have children; perhaps before the
end a good many;--I hope so.  And though of course I cannot force any
special kind of knowledge upon them, yet, my Friend, I cannot help
thinking that just as they might be like me in body, so I might
impress upon them some part of my ways of thinking; that is, indeed,
some of the essential part of myself; that part which was not mere
moods, created by the matters and events round about me.  What do you
think?"

Of one thing I was sure, that her beauty and kindness and eagerness
combined, forced me to think as she did, when she was not earnestly
laying herself open to receive my thoughts.  I said, what at the time
was true, that I thought it most important; and presently stood
entranced by the wonder of her grace as she stepped into the light
boat, and held out her hand to me.  And so on we went up the Thames
still--or whither?



CHAPTER XXX:  THE JOURNEY'S END



On we went.  In spite of my new-born excitement about Ellen, and my
gathering fear of where it would land me, I could not help taking
abundant interest in the condition of the river and its banks; all
the more as she never seemed weary of the changing picture, but
looked at every yard of flowery bank and gurgling eddy with the same
kind of affectionate interest which I myself once had so fully, as I
used to think, and perhaps had not altogether lost even in this
strangely changed society with all its wonders.  Ellen seemed
delighted with my pleasure at this, that, or the other piece of
carefulness in dealing with the river:  the nursing of pretty
corners; the ingenuity in dealing with difficulties of water-
engineering, so that the most obviously useful works looked beautiful
and natural also.  All this, I say, pleased me hugely, and she was
pleased at my pleasure--but rather puzzled too.

"You seem astonished," she said, just after we had passed a mill {2}
which spanned all the stream save the water-way for traffic, but
which was as beautiful in its way as a Gothic cathedral--"You seem
astonished at this being so pleasant to look at."

"Yes," I said, "in a way I am; though I don't see why it should not
be."

"Ah!" she said, looking at me admiringly, yet with a lurking smile in
her face, "you know all about the history of the past.  Were they not
always careful about this little stream which now adds so much
pleasantness to the country side?  It would always be easy to manage
this little river.  Ah!  I forgot, though," she said, as her eye
caught mine, "in the days we are thinking of pleasure was wholly
neglected in such matters.  But how did they manage the river in the
days that you--"  Lived in she was going to say; but correcting
herself, said--"in the days of which you have record?"

"They MISmanaged it," quoth I.  "Up to the first half of the
nineteenth century, when it was still more or less of a highway for
the country people, some care was taken of the river and its banks;
and though I don't suppose anyone troubled himself about its aspect,
yet it was trim and beautiful.  But when the railways--of which no
doubt you have heard--came into power, they would not allow the
people of the country to use either the natural or artificial
waterways, of which latter there were a great many.  I suppose when
we get higher up we shall see one of these; a very important one,
which one of these railways entirely closed to the public, so that
they might force people to send their goods by their private road,
and so tax them as heavily as they could."

Ellen laughed heartily.  "Well," she said, "that is not stated
clearly enough in our history-books, and it is worth knowing.  But
certainly the people of those days must have been a curiously lazy
set.  We are not either fidgety or quarrelsome now, but if any one
tried such a piece of folly on us, we should use the said waterways,
whoever gaidsaid us:  surely that would be simple enough.  However, I
remember other cases of this stupidity:  when I was on the Rhine two
years ago, I remember they showed us ruins of old castles, which,
according to what we heard, must have been made for pretty much the
same purpose as the railways were.  But I am interrupting your
history of the river:  pray go on."

"It is both short and stupid enough," said I.  "The river having lost
its practical or commercial value--that is, being of no use to make
money of--"

She nodded.  "I understand what that queer phrase means," said she.
"Go on!"

"Well, it was utterly neglected, till at last it became a nuisance--"

"Yes," quoth Ellen, "I understand:  like the railways and the robber
knights.  Yes?"

"So then they turned the makeshift business on to it, and handed it
over to a body up in London, who from time to time, in order to show
that they had something to do, did some damage here and there,--cut
down trees, destroying the banks thereby; dredged the river (where it
was not needed always), and threw the dredgings on the fields so as
to spoil them; and so forth.  But for the most part they practised
'masterly inactivity,' as it was then called--that is, they drew
their salaries, and let things alone."

"Drew their salaries," she said.  "I know that means that they were
allowed to take an extra lot of other people's goods for doing
nothing.  And if that had been all, it really might have been worth
while to let them do so, if you couldn't find any other way of
keeping them quiet; but it seems to me that being so paid, they could
not help doing something, and that something was bound to be
mischief,--because," said she, kindling with sudden anger, "the whole
business was founded on lies and false pretensions.  I don't mean
only these river-guardians, but all these master-people I have read
of."

"Yes," said I, "how happy you are to have got out of the parsimony of
oppression!"

"Why do you sigh?" she said, kindly and somewhat anxiously.  "You
seem to think that it will not last?"

"It will last for you," quoth I.

"But why not for you?" said she.  "Surely it is for all the world;
and if your country is somewhat backward, it will come into line
before long.  Or," she said quickly, "are you thinking that you must
soon go back again?  I will make my proposal which I told you of at
once, and so perhaps put an end to your anxiety.  I was going to
propose that you should live with us where we are going.  I feel
quite old friends with you, and should be sorry to lose you."  Then
she smiled on me, and said:  "Do you know, I begin to suspect you of
wanting to nurse a sham sorrow, like the ridiculous characters in
some of those queer old novels that I have come across now and then."

I really had almost begun to suspect it myself, but I refused to
admit so much; so I sighed no more, but fell to giving my delightful
companion what little pieces of history I knew about the river and
its borderlands; and the time passed pleasantly enough; and between
the two of us (she was a better sculler than I was, and seemed quite
tireless) we kept up fairly well with Dick, hot as the afternoon was,
and swallowed up the way at a great rate.  At last we passed under
another ancient bridge; and through meadows bordered at first with
huge elm-trees mingled with sweet chestnut of younger but very
elegant growth; and the meadows widened out so much that it seemed as
if the trees must now be on the bents only, or about the houses,
except for the growth of willows on the immediate banks; so that the
wide stretch of grass was little broken here.  Dick got very much
excited now, and often stood up in the boat to cry out to us that
this was such and such a field, and so forth; and we caught fire at
his enthusiasm for the hay-field and its harvest, and pulled our
best.

At last as we were passing through a reach of the river where on the
side of the towing-path was a highish bank with a thick whispering
bed of reeds before it, and on the other side a higher bank, clothed
with willows that dipped into the stream and crowned by ancient elm-
trees, we saw bright figures coming along close to the bank, as if
they were looking for something; as, indeed, they were, and we--that
is, Dick and his company--were what they were looking for.  Dick lay
on his oars, and we followed his example.  He gave a joyous shout to
the people on the bank, which was echoed back from it in many voices,
deep and sweetly shrill; for there were above a dozen persons, both
men, women, and children.  A tall handsome woman, with black wavy
hair and deep-set grey eyes, came forward on the bank and waved her
hand gracefully to us, and said:

"Dick, my friend, we have almost had to wait for you!  What excuse
have you to make for your slavish punctuality?  Why didn't you take
us by surprise, and come yesterday?"

"O," said Dick, with an almost imperceptible jerk of his head toward
our boat, "we didn't want to come too quick up the water; there is so
much to see for those who have not been up here before."

"True, true," said the stately lady, for stately is the word that
must be used for her; "and we want them to get to know the wet way
from the east thoroughly well, since they must often use it now.  But
come ashore at once, Dick, and you, dear neighbours; there is a break
in the reeds and a good landing-place just round the corner.  We can
carry up your things, or send some of the lads after them."

"No, no," said Dick; "it is easier going by water, though it is but a
step.  Besides, I want to bring my friend here to the proper place.
We will go on to the Ford; and you can talk to us from the bank as we
paddle along."

He pulled his sculls through the water, and on we went, turning a
sharp angle and going north a little.  Presently we saw before us a
bank of elm-trees, which told us of a house amidst them, though I
looked in vain for the grey walls that I expected to see there.  As
we went, the folk on the bank talked indeed, mingling their kind
voices with the cuckoo's song, the sweet strong whistle of the
blackbirds, and the ceaseless note of the corn-crake as he crept
through the long grass of the mowing-field; whence came waves of
fragrance from the flowering clover amidst of the ripe grass.

In a few minutes we had passed through a deep eddying pool into the
sharp stream that ran from the ford, and beached our craft on a tiny
strand of limestone-gravel, and stepped ashore into the arms of our
up-river friends, our journey done.

I disentangled myself from the merry throng, and mounting on the
cart-road that ran along the river some feet above the water, I
looked round about me.  The river came down through a wide meadow on
my left, which was grey now with the ripened seeding grasses; the
gleaming water was lost presently by a turn of the bank, but over the
meadow I could see the mingled gables of a building where I knew the
lock must be, and which now seemed to combine a mill with it.  A low
wooded ridge bounded the river-plain to the south and south-east,
whence we had come, and a few low houses lay about its feet and up
its slope.  I turned a little to my right, and through the hawthorn
sprays and long shoots of the wild roses could see the flat country
spreading out far away under the sun of the calm evening, till
something that might be called hills with a look of sheep-pastures
about them bounded it with a soft blue line.  Before me, the elm-
boughs still hid most of what houses there might be in this river-
side dwelling of men; but to the right of the cart-road a few grey
buildings of the simplest kind showed here and there.

There I stood in a dreamy mood, and rubbed my eyes as if I were not
wholly awake, and half expected to see the gay-clad company of
beautiful men and women change to two or three spindle-legged back-
bowed men and haggard, hollow-eyed, ill-favoured women, who once wore
down the soil of this land with their heavy hopeless feet, from day
to day, and season to season, and year to year.  But no change came
as yet, and my heart swelled with joy as I thought of all the
beautiful grey villages, from the river to the plain and the plain to
the uplands, which I could picture to myself so well, all peopled now
with this happy and lovely folk, who had cast away riches and
attained to wealth.



CHAPTER XXXI:  AN OLD HOUSE AMONGST NEW FOLK



As I stood there Ellen detached herself from our happy friends who
still stood on the little strand and came up to me.  She took me by
the hand, and said softly, "Take me on to the house at once; we need
not wait for the others:  I had rather not."

I had a mind to say that I did not know the way thither, and that the
river-side dwellers should lead; but almost without my will my feet
moved on along the road they knew.  The raised way led us into a
little field bounded by a backwater of the river on one side; on the
right hand we could see a cluster of small houses and barns, new and
old, and before us a grey stone barn and a wall partly overgrown with
ivy, over which a few grey gables showed.  The village road ended in
the shallow of the aforesaid backwater.  We crossed the road, and
again almost without my will my hand raised the latch of a door in
the wall, and we stood presently on a stone path which led up to the
old house to which fate in the shape of Dick had so strangely brought
me in this new world of men.  My companion gave a sigh of pleased
surprise and enjoyment; nor did I wonder, for the garden between the
wall and the house was redolent of the June flowers, and the roses
were rolling over one another with that delicious superabundance of
small well-tended gardens which at first sight takes away all thought
from the beholder save that of beauty.  The blackbirds were singing
their loudest, the doves were cooing on the roof-ridge, the rooks in
the high elm-trees beyond were garrulous among the young leaves, and
the swifts wheeled whining about the gables.  And the house itself
was a fit guardian for all the beauty of this heart of summer.

Once again Ellen echoed my thoughts as she said:

"Yes, friend, this is what I came out for to see; this many-gabled
old house built by the simple country-folk of the long-past times,
regardless of all the turmoil that was going on in cities and courts,
is lovely still amidst all the beauty which these latter days have
created; and I do not wonder at our friends tending it carefully and
making much of it.  It seems to me as if it had waited for these
happy days, and held in it the gathered crumbs of happiness of the
confused and turbulent past."

She led me up close to the house, and laid her shapely sun-browned
hand and arm on the lichened wall as if to embrace it, and cried out,
"O me!  O me!  How I love the earth, and the seasons, and weather,
and all things that deal with it, and all that grows out of it,--as
this has done!"

I could not answer her, or say a word.  Her exultation and pleasure
were so keen and exquisite, and her beauty, so delicate, yet so
interfused with energy, expressed it so fully, that any added word
would have been commonplace and futile.  I dreaded lest the others
should come in suddenly and break the spell she had cast about me;
but we stood there a while by the corner of the big gable of the
house, and no one came.  I heard the merry voices some way off
presently, and knew that they were going along the river to the great
meadow on the other side of the house and garden.

We drew back a little, and looked up at the house:  the door and the
windows were open to the fragrant sun-cured air; from the upper
window-sills hung festoons of flowers in honour of the festival, as
if the others shared in the love for the old house.

"Come in," said Ellen.  "I hope nothing will spoil it inside; but I
don't think it will.  Come! we must go back presently to the others.
They have gone on to the tents; for surely they must have tents
pitched for the haymakers--the house would not hold a tithe of the
folk, I am sure."

She led me on to the door, murmuring little above her breath as she
did so, "The earth and the growth of it and the life of it!  If I
could but say or show how I love it!"

We went in, and found no soul in any room as we wandered from room to
room,--from the rose-covered porch to the strange and quaint garrets
amongst the great timbers of the roof, where of old time the tillers
and herdsmen of the manor slept, but which a-nights seemed now, by
the small size of the beds, and the litter of useless and disregarded
matters--bunches of dying flowers, feathers of birds, shells of
starling's eggs, caddis worms in mugs, and the like--seemed to be
inhabited for the time by children.

Everywhere there was but little furniture, and that only the most
necessary, and of the simplest forms.  The extravagant love of
ornament which I had noted in this people elsewhere seemed here to
have given place to the feeling that the house itself and its
associations was the ornament of the country life amidst which it had
been left stranded from old times, and that to re-ornament it would
but take away its use as a piece of natural beauty.

We sat down at last in a room over the wall which Ellen had caressed,
and which was still hung with old tapestry, originally of no artistic
value, but now faded into pleasant grey tones which harmonised
thoroughly well with the quiet of the place, and which would have
been ill supplanted by brighter and more striking decoration.

I asked a few random questions of Ellen as we sat there, but scarcely
listened to her answers, and presently became silent, and then scarce
conscious of anything, but that I was there in that old room, the
doves crooning from the roofs of the barn and dovecot beyond the
window opposite to me.

My thought returned to me after what I think was but a minute or two,
but which, as in a vivid dream, seemed as if it had lasted a long
time, when I saw Ellen sitting, looking all the fuller of life and
pleasure and desire from the contrast with the grey faded tapestry
with its futile design, which was now only bearable because it had
grown so faint and feeble.

She looked at me kindly, but as if she read me through and through.
She said:  "You have begun again your never-ending contrast between
the past and this present.  Is it not so?"

"True," said I.  "I was thinking of what you, with your capacity and
intelligence, joined to your love of pleasure, and your impatience of
unreasonable restraint--of what you would have been in that past.
And even now, when all is won and has been for a long time, my heart
is sickened with thinking of all the waste of life that has gone on
for so many years."

"So many centuries," she said, "so many ages!"

"True," I said; "too true," and sat silent again.

She rose up and said:  "Come, I must not let you go off into a dream
again so soon.  If we must lose you, I want you to see all that you
can see first before you go back again."

"Lose me?" I said--"go back again?  Am I not to go up to the North
with you?  What do you mean?"

She smiled somewhat sadly, and said:  "Not yet; we will not talk of
that yet.  Only, what were you thinking of just now?"

I said falteringly:  "I was saying to myself, The past, the present?
Should she not have said the contrast of the present with the future:
of blind despair with hope?"

"I knew it," she said.  Then she caught my hand and said excitedly,
"Come, while there is yet time!  Come!" And she led me out of the
room; and as we were going downstairs and out of the house into the
garden by a little side door which opened out of a curious lobby, she
said in a calm voice, as if she wished me to forget her sudden
nervousness:  "Come! we ought to join the others before they come
here looking for us.  And let me tell you, my friend, that I can see
you are too apt to fall into mere dreamy musing:  no doubt because
you are not yet used to our life of repose amidst of energy; of work
which is pleasure and pleasure which is work."

She paused a little, and as we came out into the lovely garden again,
she said:  "My friend, you were saying that you wondered what I
should have been if I had lived in those past days of turmoil and
oppression.  Well, I think I have studied the history of them to know
pretty well.  I should have been one of the poor, for my father when
he was working was a mere tiller of the soil.  Well, I could not have
borne that; therefore my beauty and cleverness and brightness" (she
spoke with no blush or simper of false shame) "would have been sold
to rich men, and my life would have been wasted indeed; for I know
enough of that to know that I should have had no choice, no power of
will over my life; and that I should never have bought pleasure from
the rich men, or even opportunity of action, whereby I might have won
some true excitement.  I should have wrecked and wasted in one way or
another, either by penury or by luxury.  Is it not so?"

"Indeed it is," said I.

She was going to say something else, when a little gate in the fence,
which led into a small elm-shaded field, was opened, and Dick came
with hasty cheerfulness up the garden path, and was presently
standing between us, a hand laid on the shoulder of each.  He said:
"Well, neighbours, I thought you two would like to see the old house
quietly without a crowd in it.  Isn't it a jewel of a house after its
kind?  Well, come along, for it is getting towards dinner-time.
Perhaps you, guest, would like a swim before we sit down to what I
fancy will be a pretty long feast?"

"Yes," I said, "I should like that."

"Well, good-bye for the present, neighbour Ellen," said Dick.  "Here
comes Clara to take care of you, as I fancy she is more at home
amongst our friends here."

Clara came out of the fields as he spoke; and with one look at Ellen
I turned and went with Dick, doubting, if I must say the truth,
whether I should see her again.



CHAPTER XXXII:  THE FEAST'S BEGINNING--THE END



Dick brought me at once into the little field which, as I had seen
from the garden, was covered with gaily-coloured tents arranged in
orderly lanes, about which were sitting and lying on the grass some
fifty or sixty men, women, and children, all of them in the height of
good temper and enjoyment--with their holiday mood on, so to say.

"You are thinking that we don't make a great show as to numbers,"
said Dick; "but you must remember that we shall have more to-morrow;
because in this haymaking work there is room for a great many people
who are not over-skilled in country matters:  and there are many who
lead sedentary lives, whom it would be unkind to deprive of their
pleasure in the hay-field--scientific men and close students
generally:  so that the skilled workmen, outside those who are wanted
as mowers, and foremen of the haymaking, stand aside, and take a
little downright rest, which you know is good for them, whether they
like it or not:  or else they go to other countrysides, as I am doing
here.  You see, the scientific men and historians, and students
generally, will not be wanted till we are fairly in the midst of the
tedding, which of course will not be till the day after to-morrow."
With that he brought me out of the little field on to a kind of
causeway above the river-side meadow, and thence turning to the left
on to a path through the mowing grass, which was thick and very tall,
led on till we came to the river above the weir and its mill.  There
we had a delightful swim in the broad piece of water above the lock,
where the river looked much bigger than its natural size from its
being dammed up by the weir.

"Now we are in a fit mood for dinner," said Dick, when we had dressed
and were going through the grass again; "and certainly of all the
cheerful meals in the year, this one of haysel is the cheerfullest;
not even excepting the corn-harvest feast; for then the year is
beginning to fail, and one cannot help having a feeling behind all
the gaiety, of the coming of the dark days, and the shorn fields and
empty gardens; and the spring is almost too far off to look forward
to.  It is, then, in the autumn, when one almost believes in death."

"How strangely you talk," said I, "of such a constantly recurring and
consequently commonplace matter as the sequence of the seasons." And
indeed these people were like children about such things, and had
what seemed to me a quite exaggerated interest in the weather, a fine
day, a dark night, or a brilliant one, and the like.

"Strangely?" said he.  "Is it strange to sympathise with the year and
its gains and losses?"

"At any rate," said I, "if you look upon the course of the year as a
beautiful and interesting drama, which is what I think you do, you
should be as much pleased and interested with the winter and its
trouble and pain as with this wonderful summer luxury."

"And am I not?" said Dick, rather warmly; "only I can't look upon it
as if I were sitting in a theatre seeing the play going on before me,
myself taking no part of it.  It is difficult," said he, smiling
good-humouredly, "for a non-literary man like me to explain myself
properly, like that dear girl Ellen would; but I mean that I am part
of it all, and feel the pain as well as the pleasure in my own
person.  It is not done for me by somebody else, merely that I may
eat and drink and sleep; but I myself do my share of it."

In his way also, as Ellen in hers, I could see that Dick had that
passionate love of the earth which was common to but few people at
least, in the days I knew; in which the prevailing feeling amongst
intellectual persons was a kind of sour distaste for the changing
drama of the year, for the life of earth and its dealings with men.
Indeed, in those days it was thought poetic and imaginative to look
upon life as a thing to be borne, rather than enjoyed.

So I mused till Dick's laugh brought me back into the Oxfordshire
hay-fields.  "One thing seems strange to me," said he--"that I must
needs trouble myself about the winter and its scantiness, in the
midst of the summer abundance.  If it hadn't happened to me before, I
should have thought it was your doing, guest; that you had thrown a
kind of evil charm over me.  Now, you know," said he, suddenly,
"that's only a joke, so you mustn't take it to heart."

"All right," said I; "I don't."  Yet I did feel somewhat uneasy at
his words, after all.

We crossed the causeway this time, and did not turn back to the
house, but went along a path beside a field of wheat now almost ready
to blossom.  I said:

"We do not dine in the house or garden, then?--as indeed I did not
expect to do.  Where do we meet, then?  For I can see that the houses
are mostly very small."

"Yes," said Dick, "you are right, they are small in this country-
side:  there are so many good old houses left, that people dwell a
good deal in such small detached houses.  As to our dinner, we are
going to have our feast in the church.  I wish, for your sake, it
were as big and handsome as that of the old Roman town to the west,
or the forest town to the north; {3} but, however, it will hold us
all; and though it is a little thing, it is beautiful in its way."

This was somewhat new to me, this dinner in a church, and I thought
of the church-ales of the Middle Ages; but I said nothing, and
presently we came out into the road which ran through the village.
Dick looked up and down it, and seeing only two straggling groups
before us, said:  "It seems as if we must be somewhat late; they are
all gone on; and they will be sure to make a point of waiting for
you, as the guest of guests, since you come from so far."

He hastened as he spoke, and I kept up with him, and presently we
came to a little avenue of lime-trees which led us straight to the
church porch, from whose open door came the sound of cheerful voices
and laughter, and varied merriment.

"Yes," said Dick, "it's the coolest place for one thing, this hot
evening.  Come along; they will be glad to see you."

Indeed, in spite of my bath, I felt the weather more sultry and
oppressive than on any day of our journey yet.

We went into the church, which was a simple little building with one
little aisle divided from the nave by three round arches, a chancel,
and a rather roomy transept for so small a building, the windows
mostly of the graceful Oxfordshire fourteenth century type.  There
was no modern architectural decoration in it; it looked, indeed, as
if none had been attempted since the Puritans whitewashed the
mediaeval saints and histories on the wall.  It was, however, gaily
dressed up for this latter-day festival, with festoons of flowers
from arch to arch, and great pitchers of flowers standing about on
the floor; while under the west window hung two cross scythes, their
blades polished white, and gleaming from out of the flowers that
wreathed them.  But its best ornament was the crowd of handsome,
happy-looking men and women that were set down to table, and who,
with their bright faces and rich hair over their gay holiday raiment,
looked, as the Persian poet puts it, like a bed of tulips in the sun.
Though the church was a small one, there was plenty of room; for a
small church makes a biggish house; and on this evening there was no
need to set cross tables along the transepts; though doubtless these
would be wanted next day, when the learned men of whom Dick has been
speaking should be come to take their more humble part in the
haymaking.

I stood on the threshold with the expectant smile on my face of a man
who is going to take part in a festivity which he is really prepared
to enjoy.  Dick, standing by me was looking round the company with an
air of proprietorship in them, I thought.  Opposite me sat Clara and
Ellen, with Dick's place open between them:  they were smiling, but
their beautiful faces were each turned towards the neighbours on
either side, who were talking to them, and they did not seem to see
me.  I turned to Dick, expecting him to lead me forward, and he
turned his face to me; but strange to say, though it was as smiling
and cheerful as ever, it made no response to my glance--nay, he
seemed to take no heed at all of my presence, and I noticed that none
of the company looked at me.  A pang shot through me, as of some
disaster long expected and suddenly realised.  Dick moved on a little
without a word to me.  I was not three yards from the two women who,
though they had been my companions for such a short time, had really,
as I thought, become my friends.  Clara's face was turned full upon
me now, but she also did not seem to see me, though I know I was
trying to catch her eye with an appealing look.  I turned to Ellen,
and she DID seem to recognise me for an instant; but her bright face
turned sad directly, and she shook her head with a mournful look, and
the next moment all consciousness of my presence had faded from her
face.

I felt lonely and sick at heart past the power of words to describe.
I hung about a minute longer, and then turned and went out of the
porch again and through the lime-avenue into the road, while the
blackbirds sang their strongest from the bushes about me in the hot
June evening.

Once more without any conscious effort of will I set my face toward
the old house by the ford, but as I turned round the corner which led
to the remains of the village cross, I came upon a figure strangely
contrasting with the joyous, beautiful people I had left behind in
the church.  It was a man who looked old, but whom I knew from habit,
now half forgotten, was really not much more than fifty.  His face
was rugged, and grimed rather than dirty; his eyes dull and bleared;
his body bent, his calves thin and spindly, his feet dragging and
limping.  His clothing was a mixture of dirt and rags long over-
familiar to me.  As I passed him he touched his hat with some real
goodwill and courtesy, and much servility.

Inexpressibly shocked, I hurried past him and hastened along the road
that led to the river and the lower end of the village; but suddenly
I saw as it were a black cloud rolling along to meet me, like a
nightmare of my childish days; and for a while I was conscious of
nothing else than being in the dark, and whether I was walking, or
sitting, or lying down, I could not tell.

*  * *

I lay in my bed in my house at dingy Hammersmith thinking about it
all; and trying to consider if I was overwhelmed with despair at
finding I had been dreaming a dream; and strange to say, I found that
I was not so despairing.

Or indeed WAS it a dream?  If so, why was I so conscious all along
that I was really seeing all that new life from the outside, still
wrapped up in the prejudices, the anxieties, the distrust of this
time of doubt and struggle?

All along, though those friends were so real to me, I had been
feeling as if I had no business amongst them:  as though the time
would come when they would reject me, and say, as Ellen's last
mournful look seemed to say, "No, it will not do; you cannot be of
us; you belong so entirely to the unhappiness of the past that our
happiness even would weary you.  Go back again, now you have seen us,
and your outward eyes have learned that in spite of all the
infallible maxims of your day there is yet a time of rest in store
for the world, when mastery has changed into fellowship--but not
before.  Go back again, then, and while you live you will see all
round you people engaged in making others live lives which are not
their own, while they themselves care nothing for their own real
lives--men who hate life though they fear death.  Go back and be the
happier for having seen us, for having added a little hope to your
struggle.  Go on living while you may, striving, with whatsoever pain
and labour needs must be, to build up little by little the new day of
fellowship, and rest, and happiness."

Yes, surely! and if others can see it as I have seen it, then it may
be called a vision rather than a dream.



Footnotes:

{1}  "Elegant," I mean, as a Persian pattern is elegant; not like a
rich "elegant" lady out for a morning call.  I should rather call
that genteel.

{2}  I should have said that all along the Thames there were
abundance of mills used for various purposes; none of which were in
any degree unsightly, and many strikingly beautiful; and the gardens
about them marvels of loveliness.

{3}  Cirencester and Burford he must have meant.





End of Project Gutenberg Etext of News from Nowhere, by William Morris


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