Under the Greenwood Tree
PART II: 4. Interview With The Vicar
At six o'clock the next day, the whole body of men in the choir emerged from the tranter's
door, and advanced with a firm step down the lane. This dignity of march gradually
became obliterated as they went on, and by the time they reached the hill behind the
vicarage a faint resemblance to a flock of sheep might have been discerned in the
venerable party. A word from the tranter, however, set them right again; and as they
descended the hill, the regular tramp, tramp, tramp of the united feet was clearly audible
from the vicarage garden. At the opening of the gate there was another short interval of
irregular shuffling, caused by a rather peculiar habit the gate had, when swung open
quickly, of striking against the bank and slamming back into the opener's face.
"Now keep step again, will ye?" said the tranter. "It looks better, and more becomes the
high class of arrant which has brought us here." Thus they advanced to the door.
At Reuben's ring the more modest of the group turned aside, adjusted their hats, and
looked critically at any shrub that happened to lie in the line of vision; endeavouring thus
to give a person who chanced to look out of the windows the impression that their
request, whatever it was going to be, was rather a casual thought occurring whilst they
were inspecting the vicar's shrubbery and grass-plot than a predetermined thing. The
tranter, who, coming frequently to the vicarage with luggage, coals, firewood, etc., had
none of the awe for its precincts that filled the breasts of most of the others, fixed his eyes
firmly on the knocker during this interval of waiting. The knocker having no
characteristic worthy of notice, he relinquished it for a knot in one of the door-panels, and
studied the winding lines of the grain.
"O, sir, please, here's Tranter Dewy, and old William Dewy, and young Richard Dewy,
O, and all the quire too, sir, except the boys, a-come to see you!" said Mr. Maybold's
maid-servant to Mr. Maybold, the pupils of her eyes dilating like circles in a pond.
"All the choir?" said the astonished vicar (who may be shortly described as a good-
looking young man with courageous eyes, timid mouth, and neutral nose), abandoning
his writing and looking at his parlour-maid after speaking, like a man who fancied he had
seen her face before but couldn't recollect where.
"And they looks very firm, and Tranter Dewy do turn neither to the right hand nor to the
left, but stares quite straight and solemn with his mind made up!"
"O, all the choir," repeated the vicar to himself; trying by that simple device to trot out
his thoughts on what the choir could come for.