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Greene Ferne Farm   By: (1848-1887)

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Greene Ferne Farm By Richard Jefferies Published by Smith, Elder, & Co, London. This edition dated 1880. Greene Ferne Farm, by Richard Jefferies.




"Fine growing marning, you."

"Ay, casualty weather, though."

Ding ding dill! Dill ding dill! This last was the cracked bell of the village church ringing "to service." The speakers were two farmers, who, after exchanging greeting, leant against the churchyard wall, and looked over, as they had done every fine weather Sunday this thirty years. So regular was this pressure, that the moss which covered the coping stones elsewhere was absent from the spot where they placed their arms. On the other side of the wall, and on somewhat lower ground, was a pigsty, beyond that a cow yard, then a barn and some ricks. "Casualty," used in connection with weather, means uncertain. Mr Hedges, the taller of the two men, stooped a good deal; he wore a suit of black, topped, however, by a billycock. Mr Ruck, very big and burly, was shaped something like one of his own mangolds turned upside down: that is to say, as the glance ran over his figure, beginning at the head, it had to take in a swelling outline as it proceeded lower. He was clad in a snowy white smock frock, breeches and gaiters, and glossy beaver hat.

This costume had a hieroglyphic meaning. The showy smock frock intimated that he had risen from lowly estate, and was proud of the fact. The breeches and gaiters gave him an air of respectable antiquity in itself equivalent to a certain standing. Finally the beaver hat which everybody in the parish knew cost a guinea, and nothing less bespoke the thousand pounds at the bank to which he so frequently alluded.

Dill ding ding! Ding dill dill!

The sweet spring air breathed softly; the warm sunshine fell on the old grey church, whose shadow slowly receded from the tombstones and low grassy mounds. The rounded ridge of the Downs rose high to the south so near that the fleecy clouds sailing up were not visible till they slid suddenly into view over the summit. Tiny toy like sheep, reduced in size by the distance were dotted here and there on the broad slope. Over the corn hard by, the larks sprang up and sang at so great a height that the motion of their wings could not be distinguished. The earth exhaled a perfume, there was music in the sky, a caress in the breeze. Far down in the vale a sheet of water glistened; beyond that the forest of trees and hedges became indistinct, and assumed a faint blue tint, extending like the sea, till heaven and earth mingled at the hazy horizon.

Humph humph! The pigs were thrusting their noses into a heap of rubbish piled up against the wall, and covered with docks and nettles. Mr Hedges leant a little farther over the coping, and with the end of his stick rubbed the back of the fattest, producing divers grunts of satisfaction. This operation seemed to give equal pleasure to the man and the animal.

"Thirteen score," said Ruck sententiously, referring to the weight of the said pig.

"Mebbe a bit more, you," two farmers could by no possibility agree on the weight of an animal. "Folk never used to think nothing of a peg till a' were nigh on twenty score. But this generation be nice in bacon, and likes a wafer rasher as shrivels up dry without a lick of grease."

"It be a spectacle to see the chaps in the Lunnon eating houses pick over their plates," said Ruck. "Such a waste of good vittels!"

"There'll be a judgment on it some day." The click of the double wicket gates double, to keep other people's sheep out and the rector's sheep in now began to sound more frequently, as the congregation gathered by twos and threes, coming up the various footpaths that led across the fields. Very few entered the church most hanging about and forming little groups as their acquaintances came up... Continue reading book >>

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