BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
80. CHAPTER LXXX.
"Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong;
And the most ancient Heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong.
--WORDSWORTH: Ode to Duty.
When Dorothea had seen Mr. Farebrother in the morning, she had
promised to go and dine at the parsonage on her return from Freshitt.
There was a frequent interchange of visits between her and the
Farebrother family, which enabled her to say that she was not at
all lonely at the Manor, and to resist for the present the severe
prescription of a lady companion. When she reached home and remembered
her engagement, she was glad of it; and finding that she had still
an hour before she could dress for dinner, she walked straight
to the schoolhouse and entered into a conversation with the master
and mistress about the new bell, giving eager attention to their small
details and repetitions, and getting up a dramatic sense that her life
was very busy. She paused on her way back to talk to old Master
Bunney who was putting in some garden-seeds, and discoursed wisely
with that rural sage about the crops that would make the most return
on a perch of ground, and the result of sixty years' experience as
to soils--namely, that if your soil was pretty mellow it would do,
but if there came wet, wet, wet to make it all of a mummy, why then--
Finding that the social spirit had beguiled her into being rather late,
she dressed hastily and went over to the parsonage rather earlier
than was necessary. That house was never dull, Mr. Farebrother,
like another White of Selborne, having continually something new
to tell of his inarticulate guests and proteges, whom he was
teaching the boys not to torment; and he had just set up a pair
of beautiful goats to be pets of the village in general, and to
walk at large as sacred animals. The evening went by cheerfully
till after tea, Dorothea talking more than usual and dilating
with Mr. Farebrother on the possible histories of creatures that
converse compendiously with their antennae, and for aught we know
may hold reformed parliaments; when suddenly some inarticulate
little sounds were heard which called everybody's attention.