Two on a Tower HTML version

Chapter 18
A more beautiful October morning than that of the next day never beamed into
the Welland valleys. The yearly dissolution of leafage was setting in apace. The
foliage of the park trees rapidly resolved itself into the multitude of complexions
which mark the subtle grades of decay, reflecting wet lights of such innumerable
hues that it was a wonder to think their beauties only a repetition of scenes that
had been exhibited there on scores of previous Octobers, and had been allowed
to pass away without a single dirge from the imperturbable beings who walked
among them. Far in the shadows semi-opaque screens of blue haze made
mysteries of the commonest gravel-pit, dingle, or recess.
The wooden cabin at the foot of Rings-Hill Speer had been furnished by Swithin
as a sitting and sleeping apartment, some little while before this time; for he had
found it highly convenient, during night observations at the top of the column, to
remain on the spot all night, not to disturb his grandmother by passing in and out
of the house, and to save himself the labour of incessantly crossing the field.
He would much have liked to tell her the secret, and, had it been his own to tell,
would probably have done so; but sharing it with an objector who knew not his
grandmother's affection so well as he did himself, there was no alternative to
holding his tongue. The more effectually to guard it he decided to sleep at the
cabin during the two or three nights previous to his departure, leaving word at the
homestead that in a day or two he was going on an excursion.
It was very necessary to start early. Long before the great eye of the sun was
lifted high enough to glance into the Welland valley, St. Cleeve arose from his
bed in the cabin and prepared to depart, cooking his breakfast upon a little stove
in the corner. The young rabbits, littered during the foregoing summer, watched
his preparations through the open door from the grey dawn without, as he
bustled, half dressed, in and out under the boughs, and among the blackberries
and brambles that grew around.
It was a strange place for a bridegroom to perform his toilet in, but, considering
the unconventional nature of the marriage, a not inappropriate one. What events
had been enacted in that earthen camp since it was first thrown up, nobody could
say; but the primitive simplicity of the young man's preparations accorded well
with the prehistoric spot on which they were made. Embedded under his feet
were possibly even now rude trinkets that had been worn at bridal ceremonies of
the early inhabitants. Little signified those ceremonies to-day, or the happiness or
otherwise of the contracting parties. That his own rite, nevertheless, signified
much, was the inconsequent reasoning of Swithin, as it is of many another
bridegroom besides; and he, like the rest, went on with his preparations in that
mood which sees in his stale repetition the wondrous possibilities of an untried
Then through the wet cobwebs, that hung like movable diaphragms on each
blade and bough, he pushed his way down to the furrow which led from the
secluded fir-tree island to the wide world beyond the field.