I could not go away leaving it in that exposed place on the turf, to be found a little later by a magpie or carrion crow or fox, and devoured. Close by there was a small round hillock, an old forsaken nest of the little brown ants, green and soft with moss and small creeping herbs—a suitable grave for a wheatear. Cutting out a round piece of turf from the side, I made a hole with my stick and put the dead bird in and replacing the turf left it neatly buried.
It was not that I had or have any quarrel with the creatures I have named, or would have them other than they are —carrion-eaters and scavengers, Nature’s balance-keepers and purifiers. The only creatures on earth I loathe and hate are the gourmets, the carrion-crows and foxes of the human kind who devour wheatears and skylarks at their tables.
’Tis so easy to get from London to Bath, by merely stepping into a railway carriage which takes you smoothly without a stop in two short hours from Paddington, that I was amazed at myself in having allowed five full years to pass since my previous visit. The question was much in my mind as I strolled about noting the old-remembered names of streets and squares and crescents. Quiet Street was the name inscribed on one; it was, to me, the secret name of them all. The old impressions were renewed, an old feeling partially recovered. The wide, clean ways; the solid, stone-built houses with their dignified aspect; the large distances, terrace beyond terrace; mansions and vast green lawns and parks and gardens; avenues and groups of stately trees, especially that unmatched clump of old planes in the Circus; the whole town, the design in the classic style of one master mind, set by the Avon, amid green hills, produced a sense of harmony and repose which cannot be equalled by any other town in the kingdom.
This idle time was delightful so long as I gave my attention exclusively to houses from the outside, and to hills, rocks, trees, waters, and all visible nature, which here harmonizes with man’s works. To sit on some high hill and look down on Bath, sun-flushed or half veiled in mist; to lounge on Camden Crescent, or climb Sion Hill, or take my ease with the water-drinkers in the spacious, comfortable Pump Room; or, better still, to rest at noon in the ancient abbey—all this was pleasure pure and simple, a quiet drifting back until I found myself younger by five years than I had taken myself to be.