Afoot in England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about Afoot in England.
before me I knew it was overhung by beeches.  But the oak is the common tree in this place, and from every high point on the road I saw far before me and on either hand the woods and copses all a tawny yellow gold—­the hue of the dying oak leaf.  The tall larches were lemon-yellow, and when growing among tall pines produced a singular effect.  Best of all was it where beeches grew among the firs, and the low sun on my left hand shining through the wood gave the coloured translucent leaves an unimaginable splendour.  This was the very effect which men, inspired by a sacred passion, had sought to reproduce in their noblest work—­the Gothic cathedral and church, its dim interior lit by many-coloured stained glass.  The only choristers in these natural fanes were the robins and the small lyrical wren; but on passing through the rustic village of Wolverton I stopped for a couple of minutes to listen to the lively strains of a cirl-bunting among some farm buildings.

Then on to Silchester, its furzy common and scattered village and the vast ruinous walls, overgrown with ivy, bramble, and thorn, of ancient Roman Calleva.  Inside the walls, at one spot, a dozen men were still at work in the fading light; they were just finishing—­shovelling earth in to obliterate all that had been opened out during the year.  The old flint foundations that had been revealed; the houses with porches and corridors and courtyards and pillared hypocausts; the winter room with its wide beautiful floor—­red and black and white and grey and yellow, with geometric pattern and twist and scroll and flower and leaf and quaint figures of man and beast and bird—­all to be covered up with earth so that the plough may be driven over it again, and the wheat grow and ripen again as it has grown and ripened there above the dead city for so many centuries.  The very earth within those walls had a reddish cast owing to the innumerable fragments of red tile and tessera mixed with it.  Larks and finches were busily searching for seeds in the reddish-brown soil.  They would soon be gone to their roosting-places and the tired men to their cottages, and the white owl coming from his hiding-place in the walls would have old Silchester to himself, as he has had it since the cries and moans of the conquered died into silence so long ago.

Chapter Ten:  The Last of His Name

I came by chance to the village—­Norton, we will call it, just to call it something, but the county in which it is situated need not be named.  It happened that about noon that day I planned to pass the night at a village where, as I was informed at a small country town I had rested in, there was a nice inn—­“The Fox and Grapes”—­to put up at, but when I arrived, tired and hungry, I was told that I could not have a bed and that the only thing to do was to try Norton, which also boasted an inn.  It was hard to have to turn some two or three miles out of my road at that late hour on

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Afoot in England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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