They sat in their American buggy at the turn of an English road--an Australian bride and bridegroom, on their wedding tour. It was a bit of the "old country" that had not been syndicated and modernized since the bridegroom had seen it ...
They sat in their American buggy at the turn of an English road--an
Australian bride and bridegroom, on their wedding tour.
It was a bit of the "old country" that had not been syndicated and
modernized since the bridegroom had seen it last--when he was a young
fellow at Cambridge, paying visits to the houses of his university chums
because his own home was inaccessible. Tall hedges embraced the ripening
wheat-fields still; brambly ditches yawned beneath them. There were dense
woods hereabouts that made green tunnels of the road, and there were
thickets of fern and wild vines and bushes--acres of unprofitable
beauty--under the useless trees. The spot was a joy to the sentimental
wayfarer, and Mrs. Wingate's gaze meant rapture not expressible in words.
"This," she sighed, "is England, Billy."
She meant that this was the England of her romantic dreams--England as
described to her by exiled parents and in scores of delightful books.
"And this," said Billy, "is the place I told you of."
He pointed with his whip.
Just below and before them rose an ancient gateway, iron and stone, with
much heraldic ornament. An ivy-mantled lodge with curly chimney-stacks
stood immediately within; and beyond, sloping gently upward for a mile or
more, a straight, grassed drive between thick woods--a beautiful green
vista, three times as wide as an ordinary park avenue--was closed, on an
elevated horizon, by the indistinct but imposing mass of a great grey
house, one of those "stately homes of England" which are our pride and
boast. It was a lovely picture, and a lovely atmosphere through which to
view it--tinted with the hues of approaching sunset on a late summer day.
A few head of deer were browsing quietly on the shadow-patterned sward;
thrushes were calling to each other from wood to wood; partridges flying
homeward to their nests in the corn, disturbed by the sound of the
"There it is," said the bridegroom, his eyes kindling, his voice full of
feeling, evoked by thronging memories of the splendid days of youth. "And
you should see it when the pink may is out and those woods full of
rhododendron in flower! Look at that grass ride--the deer like to come out
there to feed, though they hide in the fern to rest--and what a stretch
for a gallop! There wasn't the shooting in my time that there is now, but
many a jolly day have I had with Walter Desailly in those fields over
there, walking up our birds with one old dog through the turnips and
stubble. You see that water shining through the trees? There was duck
there; we shot them with a rook rifle by moonlight out of a bedroom
window, and scared the maids with the row we made; once we caught a
forty-two pound pike on a night-line; Walter had been fishing for it all
his life, and found three sets of his tackle rusted in its jaws. The old
squire had it stuffed for a curiosity. I wonder if Walter has it still,
and whether he ever thinks of those old days?"
The speaker sighed inaudibly. He was a fine man, in his prime, inclining
to stoutness, and with a suspicion of frost upon his short brown beard.
"Those old days" were nearly twenty years ago.
"You ought to call upon him," said Mrs. Wingate, "and remind him of them.
I'm sure he would be delighted, if you were such friends as that. Then
you could show me over. Probably he would invite us to stay with him. At
any rate, he might be able to advise us about a place for ourselves."