A story is told of Tennyson at the Royal Counties show at Guildford. Accompanied by a lady and child he was walking round the exhibits, closely followed by an ardent admirer, anxious to catch any nights of fancy that might fall from his lips. Time passed, and the poet showed no signs of inspiration until the party approached a refreshment tent; then, to the lady he said, to the astonishment of the follower, “Just look after this child a minute while I go and get a glass of beer!” I cannot vouch for the truth of this story, but I tell the tale as ’twas told to me.
It is surprising how long farm implements will last if kept in the dry and repaired when necessary. I remember a waggon at Alton in the seventies, which bore the name of the original owner and the date 1795; it was still in use. When I decided to give up farming, or rather, when farming had given up me, I disposed of my stock and implements by the usual auction sale. The attraction of a pedigree herd of Jerseys, and a useful lot of horses and implements, brought a large company together, and Aldington was a lively place that day. I was talking to my son-in-law some time afterwards, and spoke with amusement about the price an old iron Cambridge roller had made, not in the least knowing who was the purchaser, until he said, “And I was the mug who bought it!” I believe, however, that a year or two later it fully maintained its price when valued to the next owner, and probably to-day it must be worth at least three times the money. I can trace its history for a period of fifty-three years, and I don’t think it was new at the beginning.
“And who that knew him could
The busy wrinkles round his eyes.”
—The Miller’s Daughter.
Many specialists, in distinct professions, visited the farm in the course of every twelve months, and each appeared at the season when his particular services were likely to be required. Among these an ancient grafter was one of the most important, and April was the month which brought him to Aldington. In January we had usually beheaded some trees that we considered not worth leaving as they were: these would be trees producing inferior and nondescript cider apples, or perry pears. And we had already cut, and laid in a shady place, half covered with soil, the young shoots of profitable sorts to furnish the grafts for converting the beheaded trees into valuable producers.
The old man’s function was to prepare the grafts, and unite them in deftly-cut notches with their new parents. His was a rosy-cheeked and many-wrinkled face, reminding one of an apple stored all the winter, and, in his brown velveteen coat, with immense pockets, he made a notable figure. He loved a chat and was always happy and communicative, and his arrival seemed as much a herald of spring as that of the welcome