Under the Greenwood Tree HTML version

PART V: 1. 'The Knot There's No Untying'
The last day of the story is dated just subsequent to that point in the development of the
seasons when country people go to bed among nearly naked trees, are lulled to sleep by a
fall of rain, and awake next morning among green ones; when the landscape appears
embarrassed with the sudden weight and brilliancy of its leaves; when the night-jar
comes and strikes up for the summer his tune of one note; when the apple-trees have
bloomed, and the roads and orchard-grass become spotted with fallen petals; when the
faces of the delicate flowers are darkened, and their heads weighed down, by the throng
of honey-bees, which increase their humming till humming is too mild a term for the all-
pervading sound; and when cuckoos, blackbirds, and sparrows, that have hitherto been
merry and respectful neighbours, become noisy and persistent intimates.
The exterior of Geoffrey Day's house in Yalbury Wood appeared exactly as was usual at
that season, but a frantic barking of the dogs at the back told of unwonted movements
somewhere within. Inside the door the eyes beheld a gathering, which was a rarity indeed
for the dwelling of the solitary wood-steward and keeper.
About the room were sitting and standing, in various gnarled attitudes, our old
acquaintance, grandfathers James and William, the tranter, Mr. Penny, two or three
children, including Jimmy and Charley, besides three or four country ladies and
gentlemen from a greater distance who do not require any distinction by name. Geoffrey
was seen and heard stamping about the outhouse and among the bushes of the garden,
attending to details of daily routine before the proper time arrived for their performance,
in order that they might be off his hands for the day. He appeared with his shirt-sleeves
rolled up; his best new nether garments, in which he had arrayed himself that morning,
being temporarily disguised under a weekday apron whilst these proceedings were in
operation. He occasionally glanced at the hives in passing, to see if his wife's bees were
swarming, ultimately rolling down his shirt-sleeves and going indoors, talking to tranter
Dewy whilst buttoning the wristbands, to save time; next going upstairs for his best
waistcoat, and coming down again to make another remark whilst buttoning that, during
the time looking fixedly in the tranter's face as if he were a looking-glass.
The furniture had undergone attenuation to an alarming extent, every duplicate piece
having been removed, including the clock by Thomas Wood; Ezekiel Saunders being at
last left sole referee in matters of time.
Fancy was stationary upstairs, receiving her layers of clothes and adornments, and
answering by short fragments of laughter which had more fidgetiness than mirth in them,
remarks that were made from time to time by Mrs. Dewy and Mrs. Penny, who were
assisting her at the toilet, Mrs. Day having pleaded a queerness in her head as a reason for