One should be well aware of the humours of the good Squire and his household, to understand the general concern expressed at this disaster. It was quite a public calamity in this rural empire, and all seemed to feel for the poor rooks as for fellow-citizens in distress.
The ground had been strewed with the callow young, which were now cherished in the aprons and bosoms of the maid-servants, and the little ladies of the family. I was pleased with this touch of nature; this feminine sympathy in the sufferings of the offspring, and the maternal anxiety of the parent birds.
It was interesting, too, to witness the general agitation and distress that seemed to prevail throughout the feathered community; the common cause that was made of it; and the incessant hovering, and fluttering, and lamenting, that took place in the whole rookery. There is a cord of sympathy, that runs through the whole feathered race, as to any misfortunes of the young; and the cries of a wounded bird in the breeding season will throw a whole grove in a flutter and an alarm. Indeed, why should I confine it to the feathered tribe? Nature seems to me to have implanted an exquisite sympathy on this subject, which extends through all her works. It is an invariable attribute of the female heart, to melt at the cry of early helplessness, and to take an instinctive interest in the distresses of the parent and its young. On the present occasion, the ladies of the family were full of pity and commiseration; and I shall never forget the look that Lady Lillycraft gave the general; on his observing that the young birds would make an excellent curry, or an especial good rook-pie.
The poor soul sat singing by a sycamore
Sing all a green willow;
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee
Sing willow, willow, willow;
Sing all a green willow must be my garland.
The fair Julia having nearly recovered from the effects of her hawking disaster, it begins to be thought high time to appoint a day for the wedding. As every domestic event in a venerable and aristocratic family connexion like this is a matter of moment, the fixing upon this important day has of course given rise to much conference and debate.
Some slight difficulties and demurs have lately sprung up, originating in the peculiar humours that are prevalent at the Hall. Thus, I have overheard a very solemn consultation between Lady Lillycraft, the parson, and Master Simon, as to whether the marriage ought not to be postponed until the coming month.
With all the charms of the flowery month of May, there is, I find, an ancient prejudice against it as a marrying month. An old proverb says, “To wed in May is to wed poverty.” Now, as Lady Lillycraft is very much given to believe in lucky and unlucky times and seasons, and indeed is very superstitious on all points relating to the tender passion, this old proverb seems to have taken great hold upon her mind. She recollects two or three instances, in her own knowledge, of matches that took place in this month, and proved very unfortunate. Indeed, an own cousin of hers, who married on a May-day, lost her husband by a fall from his horse, after they had lived happily together for twenty years.