Afoot In England, By W.H. Hudson

 -   I had my newspaper, but
seeing him in that overflowing mood I responded readily
enough, for I was curious to - Page 170
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I Had My Newspaper, But Seeing Him In That Overflowing Mood I Responded Readily Enough, For I Was Curious To Know Why He Appeared So Happy And Who And What He Was.

Not a tradesman nor a bagman, and not a farmer, though he looked like an open-air man; nor could I form a guess from his speech and manner as to his native place.

A robust man of thirty-eight or forty, with blue eyes and a Saxon face, he looked a thorough Englishman, and yet he struck me as most un-English in his lively, almost eager manner, his freedom with a stranger, and something, too, in his speech. From time to time his face lighted up, when, looking to the window, his eyes rested on some pretty scene - a glimpse of stately old elm trees in a field where cattle were grazing, of the vivid green valley of a chalk stream, the paler hills beyond, the grey church tower or spire of some tree-hidden village. When he discovered that these hills and streams and rustic villages had as great a charm for me as for himself, that I knew and loved the two or three places he named in a questioning way, he opened his heart and the secret of his present happiness.

He was a native of the district, born at a farmhouse of which his father in succession to his grandfather had been the tenant. It was a small farm of only eighty-five acres, and as his father could make no more than a bare livelihood out of it, he eventually gave it up when my informant was but three years old, and selling all he had, emigrated to Australia. Nine years later he died, leaving a numerous family poorly provided for; the home was broken up and boys and girls had to go out and face the world.

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