Under the Greenwood Tree HTML version
PART I: 5. The Listeners
When the expectant stillness consequent upon the exclamation had nearly died out of
them all, an increasing light made itself visible in one of the windows of the upper floor.
It came so close to the blind that the exact position of the flame could be perceived from
the outside. Remaining steady for an instant, the blind went upward from before it,
revealing to thirty concentrated eyes a young girl, framed as a picture by the window
architrave, and unconsciously illuminating her countenance to a vivid brightness by a
candle she held in her left hand, close to her face, her right hand being extended to the
side of the window. She was wrapped in a white robe of some kind, whilst down her
shoulders fell a twining profusion of marvellously rich hair, in a wild disorder which
proclaimed it to be only during the invisible hours of the night that such a condition was
discoverable. Her bright eyes were looking into the grey world outside with an uncertain
expression, oscillating between courage and shyness, which, as she recognized the
semicircular group of dark forms gathered before her, transformed itself into pheasant
Opening the window, she said lightly and warmly--"Thank you, singers, thank you!"
Together went the window quickly and quietly, and the blind started downward on its
return to its place. Her fair forehead and eyes vanished; her little mouth; her neck and
shoulders; all of her. Then the spot of candlelight shone nebulously as before; then it
"How pretty!" exclaimed Dick Dewy.
"If she'd been rale wexwork she couldn't ha' been comelier," said Michael Mail.
"As near a thing to a spiritual vision as ever I wish to see!" said tranter Dewy.
"O, sich I never, never see!" said Leaf fervently.
All the rest, after clearing their threats and adjusting their hats, agreed that such a sight
was worth singing for.
"Now to Farmer Shiner's, and then replenish our insides, father?" said the tranter.
"Wi' all my heart," said old William, shouldering his bass-viol.
Farmer Shiner's was a queer lump of a house, standing at the corner of a lane that ran into
the principal thoroughfare. The upper windows were much wider than they were high,
and this feature, together with a broad bay-window where the door might have been
expected, gave it by day the aspect of a human countenance turned askance, and wearing