Saint's Progress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
was so enchanting; and because of his whiteness, and hair which had no grease on it, but stood up all bright; she had never spoken to him—­a far worship, like that for a star.  And always, always Daddy had been gentle; sometimes angry, but always gentle; and they sometimes not at all!  And mixed up with it all, the dogs they had had, and the cats they had had, and the cockatoo, and the governesses, and their red cloaks, and the curates, and the pantomimes, and “Peter Pan,” and “Alice in Wonderland”—­Daddy sitting between them, so that one could snuggle up.  And later, the school-days, the hockey, the prizes, the holidays, the rush into his arms; and the great and wonderful yearly exodus to far places, fishing and bathing; walks and drives; rides and climbs, always with him.  And concerts and Shakespeare plays in the Christmas and Easter holidays; and the walk home through the streets—­all lighted in those days—­one on each side of him.  And this was the end!  They waited on him at breakfast:  they kept stealing glances at him, photographing him in their minds.  Gratian got her camera and did actually photograph him in the morning sunlight with Noel, without Noel, with the baby; against all regulations for the defence of the realm.  It was Noel who suggested:  “Daddy, let’s take lunch out and go for all day on the cliffs, us three, and forget there’s a war.”

So easy to say, so difficult to do, with the boom of the guns travelling to their ears along the grass, mingled with the buzz of insects.  Yet that hum of summer, the innumerable voices of tiny lives, gossamer things all as alive as they, and as important to their frail selves; and the white clouds, few and so slow-moving, and the remote strange purity which clings to the chalky downs, all this white and green and blue of land and sea had its peace, which crept into the spirits of those three alone with Nature, this once more, the last time for—­who could say how long?  They talked, by tacit agreement, of nothing but what had happened before the war began, while the flock of the blown dandelions drifted past.  Pierson sat cross-legged on the grass, without his cap, suffering a little still from the stiffness of his unwonted garments.  And the girls lay one on each side of him, half critical, and half admiring.  Noel could not bear his collar.

“If you had a soft collar you’d be lovely, Daddy.  Perhaps out there they’ll let you take it off.  It must be fearfully hot in Egypt.  Oh!  I wish I were going.  I wish I were going everywhere in the world.  Some day!” Presently he read to them, Murray’s “Hippolytus” of Euripides.  And now and then Gratian and he discussed a passage.  But Noel lay silent, looking at the sky.  Whenever his voice ceased, there was the song of the larks, and very faint, the distant mutter of the guns.

They stayed up there till past six, and it was time to go and have tea before Evening Service.  Those hours in the baking sun had drawn virtue out of them; they were silent and melancholy all the evening.  Noel was the first to go up to her bedroom.  She went without saying good night—­she knew her father would come to her room that last evening.  George had not yet come in; and Gratian was left alone with Pierson in the drawing-room, round whose single lamp, in spite of close-drawn curtains, moths were circling:  She moved over to him on the sofa.

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Saint's Progress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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