All this and much more we learned from a friend who drew up beside us in a buggy, as I was drinking from a gleaming thread of water gliding down a mossed conduit of hollowed tree-trunks into an old cauldron sunk into the hillside, and long since turned in ferns and lichen. Colin was seated near by making a sketch, as I drank.
“I wouldn’t drink too much of that water, lads,” said the friendly voice of the dapper little intelligent-faced man in the buggy.
What! not drink this fairy water?
“Why, you country folk are as afraid of fresh water as you are of fresh air,” I answered, laughing.
“All right, it’s up to you—but it’s been a dry Summer, you know.”
And then the little man’s attention was taken by Colin.
“Sketching?” he asked, and then he said, half shyly, “Would you mind my taking a look how you do it?” and, climbing down from his buggy, he came and looked over Colin’s shoulder. “I used to try my hand at it a bit when I was a boy, but those blamed trees always beat me ... don’t bother you much, seemingly though,” he added, as he watched Colin’s pencil with the curiosity of a child.
“I’ve a little girl at home who does pretty well,” he continued after a moment, “but you’ve certainly got her skinned. I wish she could see you doing it.”
His delight in a form of skill which has always been as magical to me as it seemed to him, was charmingly boyish, and Colin turned over his sketch-book, and showed him the notes he had made as we went along. One of a stump fence particularly delighted him—those stump fences made out of the roots of pine trees set side by side, which had been a feature of the country some miles back, and which make such a weird impression on the landscape, like rows of gigantic black antlers, or many-armed Hindoo idols, or a horde of Zulus in fantastic war-gear drawn up in battle-array, or the blackened stumps of giants’ teeth—Colin and I tried all those images and many more to express the curious weird effect of coming upon them in the midst of a green and smiling landscape.
“Well, lads,” he said, after we had talked awhile, “I shall have to be going. But you’ve given me a great deal of pleasure. Can’t I give you a lift in exchange? I guess there is room for the three of us.”