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Chronicles of Clovis

The Peace Of Mowsle Barton
Crefton Lockyer sat at his ease, an ease alike of body and soul, in the little patch of
ground, half-orchard and half-garden, that abutted on the farmyard at Mowsle Barton.
After the stress and noise of long years of city life, the repose and peace of the hill-begirt
homestead struck on his senses with an almost dramatic intensity. Time and space
seemed to lose their meaning and their abruptness; the minutes slid away into hours, and
the meadows and fallows sloped away into middle distance, softly and imperceptibly.
Wild weeds of the hedgerow straggled into the flower-garden, and wallflowers and
garden bushes made counter- raids into farmyard and lane. Sleepy-looking hens and
solemn preoccupied ducks were equally at home in yard, orchard, or roadway; nothing
seemed to belong definitely to anywhere; even the gates were not necessarily to be found
on their hinges. And over the whole scene brooded the sense of a peace that had almost a
quality of magic in it. In the afternoon you felt that it had always been afternoon, and
must always remain afternoon; in the twilight you knew that it could never have been
anything else but twilight. Crefton Lockyer sat at his ease in the rustic seat beneath an old
medlar tree, and decided that here was the life- anchorage that his mind had so fondly
pictured and that latterly his tired and jarred senses had so often pined for. He would
make a permanent lodging-place among these simple friendly people, gradually
increasing the modest comforts with which he would like to surround himself, but falling
in as much as possible with their manner of living.
As he slowly matured this resolution in his mind an elderly woman came hobbling with
uncertain gait through the orchard. He recognized her as a member of the farm
household, the mother or possibly the mother-in-law of Mrs. Spurfield, his present
landlady, and hastily formulated some pleasant remark to make to her. She forestalled
him.
"There's a bit of writing chalked up on the door over yonder. What is it?"
She spoke in a dull impersonal manner, as though the question had been on her lips for
years and had best be got rid of. Her eyes, however, looked impatiently over Crefton's
head at the door of a small barn which formed the outpost of a straggling line of farm
buildings.
"Martha Pillamon is an old witch " was the announcement that met Crefton's inquiring
scrutiny, and he hesitated a moment before giving the statement wider publicity. For all
he knew to the contrary, it might be Martha herself to whom he was speaking. It was
possible that Mrs. Spurfield's maiden name had been Pillamon. And the gaunt, withered
old dame at his side might certainly fulfil local conditions as to the outward aspect of a
witch.
"It's something about some one called Martha Pillamon," he explained cautiously.
 
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