You might have known it was Sunday if you had only waked up in the farmyard.
The cocks and hens seemed to know it, and made only crooning subdued
noises; the very bull-dog looked less savage, as if he would have been satisfied
with a smaller bite than usual. The sunshine seemed to call all things to rest and
not to labour. It was asleep itself on the moss-grown cow-shed; on the group of
white ducks nestling together with their bills tucked under their wings; on the old
black sow stretched languidly on the straw, while her largest young one found an
excellent spring-bed on his mother's fat ribs; on Alick, the shepherd, in his new
smock-frock, taking an uneasy siesta, half-sitting, half-standing on the granary
steps. Alick was of opinion that church, like other luxuries, was not to be indulged
in often by a foreman who had the weather and the ewes on his mind. "Church!
Nay--I'n gotten summat else to think on," was an answer which he often uttered
in a tone of bitter significance that silenced further question. I feel sure Alick
meant no irreverence; indeed, I know that his mind was not of a speculative,
negative cast, and he would on no account have missed going to church on
Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, and "Whissuntide." But he had a general
impression that public worship and religious ceremonies, like other non-
productive employments, were intended for people who had leisure.
"There's Father a-standing at the yard-gate," said Martin Poyser. "I reckon he
wants to watch us down the field. It's wonderful what sight he has, and him
"Ah, I often think it's wi' th' old folks as it is wi' the babbies," said Mrs. Poyser;
"they're satisfied wi' looking, no matter what they're looking at. It's God A'mighty's
way o' quietening 'em, I reckon, afore they go to sleep."
Old Martin opened the gate as he saw the family procession approaching, and
held it wide open, leaning on his stick--pleased to do this bit of work; for, like all
old men whose life has been spent in labour, he liked to feel that he was still
useful--that there was a better crop of onions in the garden because he was by at
the sowing--and that the cows would be milked the better if he stayed at home on
a Sunday afternoon to look on. He always went to church on Sacrament
Sundays, but not very regularly at other times; on wet Sundays, or whenever he
had a touch of rheumatism, he used to read the three first chapters of Genesis
"They'll ha' putten Thias Bede i' the ground afore ye get to the churchyard," he
said, as his son came up. "It 'ud ha' been better luck if they'd ha' buried him i' the
forenoon when the rain was fallin'; there's no likelihoods of a drop now; an' the
moon lies like a boat there, dost see? That's a sure sign o' fair weather-- there's a
many as is false but that's sure."
"Aye, aye," said the son, "I'm in hopes it'll hold up now."