Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 468 pages of information about Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood.

For Mrs Oldcastle, I never saw her change countenance or even expression at anything—­I mean in church.

CHAPTER IX.

The organist.

On the afternoon of my second Sunday at Marshmallows, I was standing in the churchyard, casting a long shadow in the light of the declining sun.  I was reading the inscription upon an old headstone, for I thought everybody was gone; when I heard a door open, and shut again before I could turn.  I saw at once that it must have been a little door in the tower, almost concealed from where I stood by a deep buttress.  I had never seen the door open, and I had never inquired anything about it, supposing it led merely into the tower.

After a moment it opened again, and, to my surprise, out came, stooping his tall form to get his gray head clear of the low archway, a man whom no one could pass without looking after him.  Tall, and strongly built, he had the carriage of a military man, without an atom of that sternness which one generally finds in the faces of those accustomed to command.  He had a large face, with large regular features, and large clear gray eyes, all of which united to express an exceeding placidity or repose.  It shone with intelligence—­a mild intelligence—­no way suggestive of profundity, although of geniality.  Indeed, there was a little too much expression.  The face seemed to express all that lay beneath it.

I was not satisfied with the countenance; and yet it looked quite good.  It was somehow a too well-ordered face.  It was quite Greek in its outline; and marvellously well kept and smooth, considering that the beard, to which razors were utterly strange, and which descended half-way down his breast, would have been as white as snow except for a slight yellowish tinge.  His eyebrows were still very dark, only just touched with the frost of winter.  His hair, too, as I saw when he lifted his hat, was still wonderfully dark for the condition of his beard.—­It flashed into my mind, that this must be the organist who played so remarkably.  Somehow I had not happened yet to inquire about him.  But there was a stateliness in this man amounting almost to consciousness of dignity; and I was a little bewildered.  His clothes were all of black, very neat and clean, but old-fashioned and threadbare.  They bore signs of use, but more signs of time and careful keeping.  I would have spoken to him, but something in the manner in which he bowed to me as he passed, prevented me, and I let him go unaccosted.

The sexton coming out directly after, and proceeding to lock the door, I was struck by the action.  “What is he locking the door for?” I said to myself.  But I said nothing to him, because I had not answered the question myself yet.

“Who is that gentleman,” I asked, “who came out just now?”

“That is Mr Stoddart, sir,” he answered.

I thought I had heard the name in the neighbourhood before.

Follow Us on Facebook