The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 7
--Pray, good shepherd, what
Fair swain is this that dances with your daughter?
* * * * *
He sings several times faster than you'll tell money; he utters them as he had eaten
ballads, and all men's ears grow to his tunes.--WINTER'S TALE
It was a glorious day in June, the sky of pure deep dazzling blue, the sunshine glowing
with brightness, but with cheerful freshness in the air that took away all sultriness, the
sun tending westward in his long day's career, and casting welcome shadows from the tall
firs and horse- chestnuts that shaded the lawn. A long rank of haymakers--men and
women--proceeded with their rakes, the white shirt-sleeves, straw bonnets, and ruddy
faces, radiant in the bath of sunshine, while in the shady end of the field were idler
haymakers among the fragrant piles, Charles half lying on the grass, with his back against
a tall haycock; Mrs. Edmonstone sitting on another, book in hand; Laura sketching the
busy scene, the sun glancing through the chequered shade on her glossy curls; Philip
stretched out at full length, hat and neck-tie off, luxuriating in the cool repose after a
dusty walk from Broadstone; and a little way off, Amabel and Charlotte pretending to
make hay, but really building nests with it, throwing it at each other, and playing as
heartily as the heat would allow.
They talked and laughed, the rest were too hot, too busy, or too sleepy for conversation,
even Philip being tired into enjoying the "dolce far niente"; and they basked in the fresh
breezy heat and perfumy hay with only now and then a word, till a cold, black, damp
nose was suddenly thrust into Charles's face, a red tongue began licking him; and at the
same moment Charlotte, screaming 'There he is!' raced headlong across the swarths of
hay, to meet Guy, who had just ridden into the field. He threw Deloraine's rein to one of
the haymakers, and came bounding to meet her, just in time to pick her up as she put her
foot into a hidden hole, and fell prostrate.
In another moment he was in the midst of the whole party, who crowded round and
welcomed him as if he had been a boy returning from his first half-year's schooling; and
never did little school-boy look more holiday-like than he, with all the sunshine of that
June day reflected, as it were, in his glittering eyes and glowing face, while Bustle
escaping from Charles's caressing arm, danced round, wagging his tail in ecstasy, and
claiming his share of the welcome. Then Guy was on the ground by Charles, rejoicing to
find him out there, and then, some dropping into their former nests on the hay, some
standing round, they talked fast and eagerly in a confusion of sound that did not subside
for the first ten minutes so as to allow anything to be clearly heard. The first distinct
sentence was Charlotte's 'Bustle, darling old fellow, you are handsomer than ever!'