Page:Out of due time, Ward, 1906.djvu/32

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22
OUT OF DUE TIME.

loved its impertinence. It did not talk to me that evening, but I seemed to be drinking it in. Meanwhile the sky was flushing a deep rose, and the grass fields on either side were bright green, and the heather—the hills above on both sides were clad in heather now—glowed with its own wealth of colour that grew shadowy under the great stony masses higher up the ridges. The valley closed in upon us, and presently a church nestled among some trees, and we were driving on a narrow, well-kept road between the river and a high old stone wall—I saw then that we had passed through an open gate and were in private grounds of some sort. My shyness had been forgotten in enjoyment, but I breathed one wild wish that I could have this exquisite spot to myself, without disturbing, alarming, human beings to spoil my pleasure. I am afraid it is a wish I have known later in life when approaching a country house.

Peak Hall was the end and ultimate object of the road. Beyond it, bridle and foot paths led up to farmhouses and keepers' lodges, but here the road proper came to an end. The house and garden were raised a good deal above it. The walled garden was divided into three squares, making one long oblong by the river side. The wall, beneath which I drove, rose to an old coping, strong enough for defence, and making sharp right angles with the low walls that cut across the garden in its three divisions. At the far corner an old man in a cocked hat held a sundial on his chest, and at other corners stood great balls of stone; and one or two carved heads crowned the angles. In the garden nearest the house there was a raised stone terrace, and one could sit on the top of the outer wall, and look down on the river. I suppose there are people sitting there now. I wonder what manner of folk they are?

The first garden was herbaceous; the second was in two long kitchen garden beds bordered with flowers; the third was a bowling-green. Under the great elms at the far end