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Night and Day

CHAPTER XV
The village of Disham lies somewhere on the rolling piece of cultivated ground in
the neighborhood of Lincoln, not so far inland but that a sound, bringing rumors
of the sea, can be heard on summer nights or when the winter storms fling the
waves upon the long beach. So large is the church, and in particular the church
tower, in comparison with the little street of cottages which compose the village,
that the traveler is apt to cast his mind back to the Middle Ages, as the only time
when so much piety could have been kept alive. So great a trust in the Church
can surely not belong to our day, and he goes on to conjecture that every one of
the villagers has reached the extreme limit of human life. Such are the reflections
of the superficial stranger, and his sight of the population, as it is represented by
two or three men hoeing in a turnip-field, a small child carrying a jug, and a
young woman shaking a piece of carpet outside her cottage door, will not lead
him to see anything very much out of keeping with the Middle Ages in the village
of Disham as it is to-day. These people, though they seem young enough, look
so angular and so crude that they remind him of the little pictures painted by
monks in the capital letters of their manuscripts. He only half understands what
they say, and speaks very loud and clearly, as though, indeed, his voice had to
carry through a hundred years or more before it reached them. He would have a
far better chance of understanding some dweller in Paris or Rome, Berlin or
Madrid, than these countrymen of his who have lived for the last two thousand
years not two hundred miles from the City of London.
The Rectory stands about half a mile beyond the village. It is a large house, and
has been growing steadily for some centuries round the great kitchen, with its
narrow red tiles, as the Rector would point out to his guests on the first night of
their arrival, taking his brass candlestick, and bidding them mind the steps up
and the steps down, and notice the immense thickness of the walls, the old
beams across the ceiling, the staircases as steep as ladders, and the attics, with
their deep, tent-like roofs, in which swallows bred, and once a white owl. But
nothing very interesting or very beautiful had resulted from the different additions
made by the different rectors.
The house, however, was surrounded by a garden, in which the Rector took
considerable pride. The lawn, which fronted the drawing-room windows, was a
rich and uniform green, unspotted by a single daisy, and on the other side of it
two straight paths led past beds of tall, standing flowers to a charming grassy
walk, where the Rev. Wyndham Datchet would pace up and down at the same
hour every morning, with a sundial to measure the time for him. As often as not,
he carried a book in his hand, into which he would glance, then shut it up, and
repeat the rest of the ode from memory. He had most of Horace by heart, and
had got into the habit of connecting this particular walk with certain odes which
he repeated duly, at the same time noting the condition of his flowers, and
stooping now and again to pick any that were withered or overblown. On wet
days, such was the power of habit over him, he rose from his chair at the same
hour, and paced his study for the same length of time, pausing now and then to
 
 
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