Under the Greenwood Tree HTML version

PART II: 6. Yalbury Wood And The Keeper's House
A mood of blitheness rarely experienced even by young men was Dick's on the following
Monday morning. It was the week after the Easter holidays, and he was journeying along
with Smart the mare and the light spring-cart, watching the damp slopes of the hill-sides
as they streamed in the warmth of the sun, which at this unsettled season shone on the
grass with the freshness of an occasional inspector rather than as an accustomed
proprietor. His errand was to fetch Fancy, and some additional household goods, from her
father's house in the neighbouring parish to her dwelling at Mellstock. The distant view
was darkly shaded with clouds; but the nearer parts of the landscape were whitely
illumined by the visible rays of the sun streaming down across the heavy gray shade
The tranter had not yet told his son of the state of Shiner's heart that had been suggested
to him by Shiner's movements. He preferred to let such delicate affairs right themselves;
experience having taught him that the uncertain phenomenon of love, as it existed in
other people, was not a groundwork upon which a single action of his own life could be
Geoffrey Day lived in the depths of Yalbury Wood, which formed portion of one of the
outlying estates of the Earl of Wessex, to whom Day was head game-keeper, timber-
steward, and general overlooker for this district. The wood was intersected by the
highway from Casterbridge to London at a place not far from the house, and some trees
had of late years been felled between its windows and the ascent of Yalbury Hill, to give
the solitary cottager a glimpse of the passers-by.
It was a satisfaction to walk into the keeper's house, even as a stranger, on a fine spring
morning like the present. A curl of wood-smoke came from the chimney, and drooped
over the roof like a blue feather in a lady's hat; and the sun shone obliquely upon the
patch of grass in front, which reflected its brightness through the open doorway and up
the staircase opposite, lighting up each riser with a shiny green radiance, and leaving the
top of each step in shade.
The window-sill of the front room was between four and five feet from the floor,
dropping inwardly to a broad low bench, over which, as well as over the whole surface of
the wall beneath, there always hung a deep shade, which was considered objectionable on
every ground save one, namely, that the perpetual sprinkling of seeds and water by the
caged canary above was not noticed as an eyesore by visitors. The window was set with
thickly-leaded diamond glazing, formed, especially in the lower panes, of knotty glass of
various shades of green. Nothing was better known to Fancy than the extravagant manner
in which these circular knots or eyes distorted everything seen through them from the
outside--lifting hats from heads, shoulders from bodies; scattering the spokes of cart-
wheels, and bending the straight fir-trunks into semicircles. The ceiling was carried by a