Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/120

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108
OPEN SPACES.

people, which might be used by them in common as sitting-rooms in summer. Even in England there are a good many days when at some hours sitting out of doors is refreshing, and when very hot days do come, it seems almost a necessity.

I fancy very few of you know what a narrow court near Drury Lane or Clerkenwell is on a sultry August evening. The stifling heat, the dust lying thick everywhere, the smell of everything in the dirty rooms, the baking, dry glare of the sun on the west window of the low attic, just under the roof, making it seem intolerable—like an oven. The father of the family which lives there, you may be pretty sure, is round the corner at the public-house, trying to quench his thirst with liquor which only increases it; the mother is either lolling out of the window, screaming to the fighting women below, in the court, or sitting, dirty and dishevelled, her elbow on her knee, her chin on her hand, on the dusty,