Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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put behind us all prejudice and pusillanimity till we see this country of ours once more blooming like one great cornfield, covered with cows.  Sirs, I am no iconoclast; let us do all this without departing in any way from those great principles of Free Trade, Industrialism, and Individual Liberty which have made our towns the largest, most crowded, and wealthiest under that sun which never sets over the British Empire.  We do but need to see this great problem steadily and to see it whole, and we shall achieve this revolution in our national life without the sacrifice of a single principle or a single penny.  Believe me, gentlemen, we shall yet eat our cake and have it.”

Mr. Lavender paused for breath, the headlines of his great speech in tomorrow’s paper dancing before his eyes:  “The climacteric—­eats cake and has it—­A great conclusion.”  The wind, which had risen somewhat during Mr. Lavender’s speech, fluttered the farmer’s garments at this moment, so that they emitted a sound like the stir which runs through an audience at a moment of strong emotion.

“Ah!” cried Mr. Lavender, “I see that I move you, gentlemen.  Those have traduced you who call you unimpressionable.  After all, are you not the backbone of this country up which runs the marrow which feeds the brain; and shall you not respond to an appeal at once so simple and so fundamental?  I assure you, gentlemen, it needs no thought; indeed, the less you think about it the better, for to do so will but weaken your purpose and distract your attention.  Your duty is to go forward with stout hearts, firm steps, and kindling eyes; in this way alone shall we defeat our common enemies.  And at those words, which he had uttered at the top of his voice, Mr. Lavender stood like a clock which has run down, rubbing his eyes.  For Blink, roaming the field during the speech, and encountering quadruped called rabbit, which she had never seen before, had backed away from it in dismay, brushed against the farmer’s legs and caused his breeches to fall down, revealing the sticks on which they had been draped.  When Mr. Lavender saw this he called out in a loud voice Sir, you have deceived me.  I took you for a human being.  I now perceive that you are but a selfish automaton, rooted to your own business, without a particle of patriotic sense.  Farewell!”

VIII

STARVES SOME GERMANS

After parting with the scarecrow Mr. Lavender who felt uncommonly hungry’ was about to despair of finding any German prisoners when he saw before him a gravel-pit, and three men working therein.  Clad in dungaree, and very dusty, they had a cast of countenance so unmistakably Teutonic that Mr. Lavender stood still.  They paid little or no attention to him, however, but went on sadly and silently with their work, which was that of sifting gravel.  Mr. Lavender sat down on a milestone opposite, and

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