The Well - Beloved
A Supposititious Presentment Of Her
PART FIRST -- A YOUNG MAN OF TWENTY
--'Now, if Time knows
That Her, whose radiant brows
Weave them a garland of my vows;
Her that dares be
What these lines wish to see:
I seek no further, it is She.'
A person who differed from the local wayfarers was climbing the steep road which leads
through the sea-skirted townlet definable as the Street of Wells, and forms a pass into that
Gibraltar of Wessex, the singular peninsula once an island, and still called such, that
stretches out like the head of a bird into the English Channel. It is connected with the
mainland by a long thin neck of pebbles 'cast up by rages of the se,' and unparalleled in
its kind in Europe.
The pedestrian was what he looked like--a young man from London and the cities of the
Continent. Nobody could see at present that his urbanism sat upon him only as a garment.
He was just recollecting with something of self-reproach that a whole three years and
eight months had flown since he paid his last visit to his father at this lonely rock of his
birthplace, the intervening time having been spent amid many contrasting societies,
peoples, manners, and scenes.
What had seemed usual in the isle when he lived there always looked quaint and odd after
his later impressions. More than ever the spot seemed what it was said once to have been,
the ancient Vindilia Island, and the Home of the Slingers. The towering rock, the houses
above houses, one man's doorstep rising behind his neighbour's chimney, the gardens
hung up by one edge to the sky, the vegetables growing on apparently almost vertical
planes, the unity of the whole island as a solid and single block of limestone four miles
long, were no longer familiar and commonplace ideas. All now stood dazzlingly unique
and white against the tinted sea, and the sun flashed on infinitely stratified walls of oolite,
The melancholy ruins Of cancelled cycles, . . .