The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.

Refusing the company of a groom, she made her way towards the stretch of high moor where she had ridden with Courtier a year ago.  Here over the short, as yet unflowering, heather, there was a mile or more of level galloping ground.  She mounted steadily, and her spirit rode, as it were, before her, longing to get up there among the peewits and curlew, to feel the crisp, peaty earth slip away under her, and the wind drive in her face, under that deep blue sky.  Carried by this warm-blooded sweetheart of hers, ready to jump out of his smooth hide with pleasure, snuffling and sneezing in sheer joy, whose eye she could see straying round to catch a glimpse of her intentions, from whose lips she could hear issuing the sweet bitt-music, whose vagaries even seemed designed to startle from her a closer embracing—­she was filled with a sort of delicious impatience with everything that was not this perfect communing with vigour.

Reaching the top, she put him into a gallop.  With the wind furiously assailing her face and throat, every muscle crisped; and all her blood tingling—­this was a very ecstasy of motion!

She reined in at the cairn whence she and Courtier had looked down at the herds of ponies.  It was the merest memory now, vague and a little sweet, like the remembrance of some exceptional Spring day, when trees seem to flower before your eyes, and in sheer wantonness exhale a scent of lemons.  The ponies were there still, and in distance the shining sea.  She sat thinking of nothing, but how good it was to be alive.  The fullness and sweetness of it all, the freedom and strength!  Away to the West over a lonely farm she could see two buzzard hawks hunting in wide circles.  She did not envy them—­so happy was she, as happy as the morning.  And there came to her suddenly the true, the overmastering longing of mountain tops.

“I must,” she thought; “I simply must!”

Slipping off her horse she lay down on her back, and at once everything was lost except the sky.  Over her body, supported above solid earth by the warm, soft heather, the wind skimmed without sound or touch.  Her spirit became one with that calm unimaginable freedom.  Transported beyond her own contentment, she no longer even knew whether she was joyful.

The horse Hal, attempting to eat her sleeve, aroused her.  She mounted him, and rode down.  Near home she took a short cut across a meadow, through which flowed two thin bright streams, forming a delta full of lingering ‘milkmaids,’ mauve marsh orchis, and yellow flags.  From end to end of this long meadow, so varied, so pied with trees and stones, and flowers, and water, the last of the Spring was passing.

Some ponies, shyly curious of Barbara and her horse, stole up, and stood at a safe distance, with their noses dubiously stretched out, swishing their lean tails.  And suddenly, far up, following their own music, two cuckoos flew across, seeking the thorn-trees out on the moor.  While she was watching the arrowy birds, she caught sight of someone coming towards her from a clump of beech-trees, and suddenly saw that it was Mrs. Noel!

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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