A Dance Of Children
Appeals To Very Innocent And Lively Thoughts; But, At Nightfall On The
Marshes, The Thing Was Eerie And Fantastic To Behold.
Even I, who am
well enough read in Herbert Spencer, felt a sort of silence fall for an
instant on my mind.
The next, I was pricking Modestine forward, and
guiding her like an unruly ship through the open. In a path, she went
doggedly ahead of her own accord, as before a fair wind; but once on the
turf or among heather, and the brute became demented. The tendency of
lost travellers to go round in a circle was developed in her to the
degree of passion, and it took all the steering I had in me to keep even
a decently straight course through a single field.
While I was thus desperately tacking through the bog, children and cattle
began to disperse, until only a pair of girls remained behind. From
these I sought direction on my path. The peasantry in general were but
little disposed to counsel a wayfarer. One old devil simply retired into
his house, and barricaded the door on my approach; and I might beat and
shout myself hoarse, he turned a deaf ear. Another, having given me a
direction which, as I found afterwards, I had misunderstood, complacently
watched me going wrong without adding a sign. He did not care a stalk of
parsley if I wandered all night upon the hills! As for these two girls,
they were a pair of impudent sly sluts, with not a thought but mischief.
One put out her tongue at me, the other bade me follow the cows; and they
both giggled and jogged each other's elbows.
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