MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
cathedral roof.  Have you eyes to see?  Then lie down on the grass, and look near enough to see something more of what is to be seen; and you will find tropic jungles in every square foot of turf; mountain cliffs and debacles at the mouth of every rabbit burrow:  dark strids, tremendous cataracts, “deep glooms and sudden glories,” in every foot-broad rill which wanders through the turf.  All is there for you to see, if you will but rid yourself of “that idol of space;” and Nature, as everyone will tell you who has seen dissected an insect under the microscope, is as grand and graceful in her smallest as in her hugest forms.

The March breeze is chilly:  but I can be always warm if I like in my winter-garden.  I turn my horse’s head to the red wall of fir-stems, and leap over the furze-grown bank into my cathedral, wherein if there be no saints, there are likewise no priestcraft and no idols; but endless vistas of smooth red green-veined shafts holding up the warm dark roof, lessening away into endless gloom, paved with rich brown fir-needle—­a carpet at which Nature has been at work for forty years.  Red shafts, green roof, and here and there a pane of blue sky—­neither Owen Jones nor Willement can improve upon that ecclesiastical ornamentation,—­while for incense I have the fresh healthy turpentine fragrance, far sweeter to my nostrils than the stifling narcotic odour which fills a Roman Catholic cathedral.  There is not a breath of air within:  but the breeze sighs over the roof above in a soft whisper.  I shut my eyes and listen.  Surely that is the murmur of the summer sea upon the summer sands in Devon far away.  I hear the innumerable wavelets spend themselves gently upon the shore, and die away to rise again.  And with the innumerable wave-sighs come innumerable memories, and faces which I shall never see again upon this earth.  I will not tell even you of that, old friend.  It has two notes, two keys rather, that Eolian-harp of fir-needles above my head; according as the wind is east or west, the needles dry or wet.  This easterly key of to-day is shriller, more cheerful, warmer in sound, though the day itself be colder:  but grander still, as well as softer, is the sad soughing key in which the south-west wind roars on, rain-laden, over the forest, and calls me forth—­being a minute philosopher—­to catch trout in the nearest chalk-stream.

The breeze is gone a while; and I am in perfect silence—­a silence which may be heard.  Not a sound; and not a moving object; absolutely none.  The absence of animal life is solemn, startling.  That ring-dove, who was cooing half a mile away, has hushed his moan; that flock of long-tailed titmice, which were twinging and pecking about the fir-cones a few minutes since, are gone:  and now there is not even a gnat to quiver in the slant sun-rays.  Did a spider run over these dead leaves, I almost fancy I could hear his footfall.  The creaking of the saddle, the soft step of the mare upon the fir-needles, jar my

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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