The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about The Patrician.
lighted clock face presided; and over the passionate hopes in those thousands of hearts knit together by suspense the sky had lifted; and showed no cloud between them and the purple fields of air.  To Courtier descending towards the square, the swaying white faces, turned all one way, seemed like the heads of giant wild flowers in a dark field, shivered by wind.  The night had charmed away the blue and yellow facts, and breathed down into that throng the spirit of emotion.  And he realized all at once the beauty and meaning of this scene—­expression of the quivering forces, whose perpetual flux, controlled by the Spirit of Balance, was the soul of the world.  Thousands of hearts with the thought of self lost in one over-mastering excitement!

An old man with a long grey beard, standing close to his elbow, murmured: 

“‘Tis anxious work—­I wouldn’t ha’ missed this for anything in the world.”

“Fine, eh?” answered Courtier.

“Aye,” said the old man, “‘tis fine.  I’ve not seen the like o’ this since the great year—­forty-eight.  There they are—­the aristocrats!”

Following the direction of that skinny hand Courtier saw on a balcony Lord and Lady Valleys, side by side, looking steadily down at the crowd.  There too, leaning against a window and talking to someone behind, was Barbara.  The old man went on muttering, and Courtier could see that his eyes had grown very bright, his whole face transfigured by intense hostility; he felt drawn to this old creature, thus moved to the very soul.  Then he saw Barbara looking down at him, with her hand raised to her temple to show that she saw his bandaged head.  He had the presence of mind not to lift his hat.

The old man spoke again.

“You wouldn’t remember forty-eight, I suppose.  There was a feeling in the people then—­we would ha’ died for things in those days.  I’m eighty-four,” and he held his shaking hand up to his breast, “but the spirit’s alive here yet!  God send the Radical gets in!” There was wafted from him a scent as of potatoes.

Far behind, at the very edge of the vast dark throng, some voices began singing:  “Way down upon the Swanee ribber.”  The tune floated forth, ceased, spurted up once more, and died.

Then, in the very centre of the square a stentorian baritone roared forth:  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot!”

The song swelled, till every kind of voice, from treble to the old Chartist’s quavering bass, was chanting it; here and there the crowd heaved with the movement of linked arms.  Courtier found the soft fingers of a young woman in his right hand, the old Chartist’s dry trembling paw in his left.  He himself sang loudly.  The grave and fearful music sprang straight up into they air, rolled out right and left, and was lost among the hills.  But it had no sooner died away than the same huge baritone yelled “God save our gracious King!” The stature of the crowd seemed at once to leap up two feet, and from under that platform of raised hats rose a stupendous shouting.

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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