Pagan Papers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 82 pages of information about Pagan Papers.

The ``Rudge’’ is of course an exceptional instance; but indeed this pleasant personality in roads is not entirely fanciful.  It exists as a characteristic of the old country road, evolved out of the primitive prehistoric track, developing according to the needs of the land it passes through and serves:  with a language, accordingly, and a meaning of its own.  Its special services are often told clearly enough; but much else too of the quiet story of the country-side:  something of the old tale whereof you learn so little from the printed page.  Each is instinct, perhaps, with a separate suggestion.  Some are martial and historic, and by your side the hurrying feet of the dead raise a ghostly dust.  The name of yon town —­ with its Roman or Saxon suffix to British root —­ hints at much.  Many a strong man, wanting his vates sacer, passed silently to Hades for that suffix to obtain.  The little rise up yonder on the Downs that breaks their straight green line against the sky showed another sight when the sea of battle surged and beat on its trampled sides; and the Roman, sore beset, may have gazed down this very road for relief, praying for night or the succouring legion.  This child that swings on a gate and peeps at you from under her sun-bonnet —­ so may some girl-ancestress of hers have watched with beating heart the Wessex levies hurry along to clash with the heathen and break them on the down where the ash trees grew.  And yonder, where the road swings round under gloomy overgrowth of drooping boughs —­ is that gleam of water or glitter of lurking spears?

Some sing you pastorals, fluting low in the hot sun between dusty hedges overlooked by contented cows; past farmsteads where man and beast, living in frank fellowship, learn pleasant and serviceable lessons each of the other; over the full-fed river, lipping the meadow-sweet, and thence on either side through leagues of hay.  Or through bending corn they chant the mystical wonderful song of the reaper when the harvest is white to the sickle.  But most of them, avoiding classification, keep each his several tender significance; as with one I know, not so far from town, which woos you from the valley by gentle ascent between nut-laden hedges, and ever by some touch of keen fragrance in the air, by some mystery of added softness under foot —­ ever a promise of something to come, unguessed, delighting.  Till suddenly you are among the pines, their keen scent strikes you through and through, their needles carpet the ground, and in their swaying tops moans the unappeasable wind —­ sad, ceaseless, as the cry of a warped humanity.  Some paces more, and the promise is fulfilled, the hints and whisperings become fruition:  the ground breaks steeply away, and you look over a great inland sea of fields, homesteads, rolling woodland, and —­ bounding all, blent with the horizon, a greyness, a gleam —­ the English Channel.  A road of promises, of hinted surprises, following each other with the inevitable sequence in a melody.

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Pagan Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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