The Diary of a Goose Girl HTML version

Chapter 10
July 14th.
We are not wholly without the pleasures of the town in Barbury Green. Once or twice in
a summer, late on a Saturday afternoon, a procession of red and yellow vans drives into a
field near the centre of the village. By the time the vans are unpacked all the children in
the community are surrounding the gate of entrance. There is rifle-shooting, there is
fortune-telling, there are games of pitch and toss, and swings, and French bagatelle; and,
to crown all, a wonderful orchestrion that goes by steam. The water is boiled for the
public's tea, and at the same time thrilling strains of melody are flung into the air. There
is at present only one tune in the orchestrion's repertory, but it is a very good tune; though
after hearing it three hundred and seven times in a single afternoon, it pursues one,
sleeping and waking, for the next week. Phoebe and I took the Square Baby and went in
to this diversified entertainment. There was a small crowd of children at the entrance, but
as none of them seemed to be provided with pennies, and I felt in a fairy godmother
mood, I offered them the freedom of the place at my expense.
I never purchased more radiant good-will for less money, but the combined effect of the
well-boiled tea and the boiling orchestrion produced many village nightmares, so the
mothers told me at chapel next morning.
* * *
I have many friends in Barbury Green, and often have a pleasant chat with the draper, and
the watch-maker, and the chemist.
The last house on the principal street is rather an ugly one, with especially nice window
curtains. As I was taking my daily walk to the post-office (an entirely unfruitful
expedition thus far, as nobody has taken the pains to write to me) I saw a nursemaid
coming out of the gate, wheeling a baby in a perambulator. She was going placidly away
from the Green when, far in the distance, she espied a man walking rapidly toward us, a
heavy Gladstone bag in one hand. She gazed fixedly for a moment, her eyes brightening
and her cheeks flushing with pleasure,--whoever it was, it was an unexpected arrival;--
then she retraced her steps and, running up the garden-path, opened the front door and
held an excited colloquy with somebody; a slender somebody in a nice print gown and
neatly- dressed hair, who came to the gate and peeped beyond the hedge several times,
drawing back between peeps with smiles and heightened colour. She did not run down
the road, even when she had satisfied herself of the identity of the traveller; perhaps that
would not have been good form in an English village, for there were houses on the
opposite side of the way. She waited until he opened the gate, the nursemaid took the bag
and looked discreetly into the hedge, then the mistress slipped her hand through the
traveller's arm and walked up the path as if she had nothing else in the world to wish for.