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Where there are salmon, there are likely to be salmon-nets, Tay or Thames; but of course they are not always in use; we don't want salmon every day of the season. I was going to say, "But is this the Thames? For though there was a bridge across the stream and houses on its banks, how all this was changed from last night! The soap-works with their smoke-vomiting chimneys were gone; the engineer's works gone; the lead-works gone; and no sound of riveting and hammering came down the west wind from Thorneycroft's. Then the bridge! I had perhaps dreamed of such a bridge, but never seen such as one out of an dreamed of such a bridge, but never seen such as one out of an illuminated manuscript; for not even the Ponte Vecchio at Florence came anywhere near it.

It was of stone arches, splendidly solid, and as graceful as they were strong; high enough also to let ordinary river traffic easily. Over the parapet showed quaint and fanciful little buildings, which I supposed to be booths or shops, beset with painted and gilded vanes and spirelets. In short, to me a wonder of a bridge. The sculler noted my eager astonished look, and said, as if in answer to my thoughts: "Yes, it is a pretty bridge, isn't it? Even the up-stream bridges, which are so much smaller, are scarcely daintier, and the down-stream ones are scarcely more dignified and stately.

There used to be a rather plain timber bridge before then. The date shut my mouth as if a key had been turned in a padlock fixed to my lips; for I saw that something inexplicable had happened, and that if I said much, I should be mixed up in a game of cross questions and crooked answers. So I tried to look unconcerned, and to glance in a matter-of-course way at the banks of the river, though this is what I saw up to the bridge and a little beyond; say as far as the site of the soap-works. Both shores had a line of very pretty houses, low and not large, standing back a little way from the river; they were mostly built of red brick and roofed with tiles, and looked, above all, comfortable, and as if they were, so to say, alive, and sympathetic with the life of the dwellers in them.


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There was a continuous garden in front of them, going down to the water's edge, in which the flowers were now blooming luxuriantly, and sending delicious waves of summer scent over the eddying stream. Behind the houses, i could see great trees rising, mostly planes, and looking down the water there were the reaches towards Putney almost as if they were a lake with a forest shore, so thick were the big trees; and I said aloud, but as if to myself I blushed for my fatuity as the words slipped out of my mouth, and my companion looked at me with a half smile which I thought I understood; so to hide my confusion I said, "Please take me ashore now; I want to get my breakfast.

He nodded, and brought her head round with a sharp stroke, and in a trice we were at the landing-stage again. He jumped out and I followed him; and of course I was not surprised to see him wait, as if for the inevitable after-piece that follows the doing of a service to a fellow citizen. So I put my hand in my waistcoat-pocket, and said, "How much? He looked puzzled, and said, "How much? I don't quite understand what you are asking about. Do you mean the tide?

If so, it is close on the turn now.

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I blushed, and said, stammering, "Please don't take it amiss if I ask you; I mean no offence: but what ought I to pay you? You see I am a stranger, and don't know your customs - or your coins. And therewith I took a handful of money out of my pocket, as one does in a foreign country.

And by the way, I saw that the silver had oxidised, and was like a blackleaded stove in colour. He still seemed puzzled, but not at all offended; and he looked at the coins with some curiosity.

I thought, Well after all, he is a waterman , and is considering what he may venture to take. He seems such a nice fellow that I'm sure I don't grudge him a little overpayment. I wonder, by the way, whether I couldn't hire him as a guide for a day or two, since he is so intelligent. You think that I have done you a service; so you feel yourself bound to give me something which I am not to give to a neighbour, unless he has done something special for me.

I have heard of this kind of thing; but pardon me for saying, that it seems to us a troublesome and roundabout custom; and we don't know how to manage it. And you see this ferrying and giving people casts about the water is my business , which I would do for anybody; so to take gifts in connection with it would look very queer.

Besides, if one person gave me something, then another might, and another, and so on; and I hope you won't think me rude if I say that I shouldn't know where to stow away so many mementos of friendship. And he laughed loud and merrily, as if the idea of being paid for his work was a very funny joke.

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I confess I began to be afraid that the man was mad, though he looked sane enough; and I was rather glad to think that I was a good swimmer, since we were so close to a deep swift stream. However, he went on by no means like a madman:.


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Ours has enough of such coins, besides a fair number of earlier ones, many of which are beautiful, whereas these nineteenth century ones are so beastly ugly, ain't they? We have a piece of Edward III. You see," he said, with something of a smirk, "I am fond of working in gold and fine metals; this buckle here is an early piece of mine. No doubt I looked a little shy of him under the influence of that doubt as to his sanity. So he broke off short, and said in a kind voice:.

But it also is clear that it won't do to overdose you with information about this place, and that you had best suck it in little by little. Further, I should take it as very kind in you if you would allow me to be the showman of our new world to you, since you have stumbled on me first. Though indeed it will be a mere kindness on your part, for almost anybody would make as good a guide, and many much better.

There certainly seemed no flavour in him of Colney Hatch; and besides I thought I could easily shake him off if it turned out that he really was mad; so I said:. He is a weaver from Yorkshire, who has rather overdone himself between his weaving and his mathematics, both indoor work, you see; and being a great friend of mine, he naturally came to me to get him some outdoor work. If you think you can put up with me, pray take me as your guide.

He added presently: "It is true that I have promised to go up-stream to some special friends of mine, for the hay-harvest; but they won't be ready for us for more than a week: and besides, you might go with me, you know, and see some very nice people, besides making notes of our ways in Oxfordshire.

Kunde Nirgendwo by William Morris - AbeBooks

You could hardly do better if you want to see the country. I felt myself obliged to thank him, whatever might come of it; and he added eagerly:. I will give my friend a call; he is living in the Guest House like you, and if he isn't up yet, he ought to be this fine summer morning. Therewith he took a little silver bugle-horn from his girdle and blew two or three sharp but agreeable notes on it; and presently from the house which stood on the site of my old dwelling of which more hereafter another young man came sauntering towards us.

He was not so well-looking or so strongly made as my sculler friend, being sandy-haired, rather pale, and not stout-built; but his face was not wanting in that happy and friendly expression which I had noticed in his friend. As he came up smiling towards us, I saw with pleasure that I must give up the Colney Hatch theory as to the waterman, for no two madmen ever behaved as they did before a sane man.


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His dress was of the same cut as the first man's, though somewhat gayer, the surcoat being light green with a golden spray embroidered on the breast, and his belt being of filigree silver-work. Am I to have my work, or rather your work? I dreamed last night that we were off up the river fishing. But see, here is a stranger who is willing to amuse me to-day by taking me as his guide about our countryside, and you may imagine I don't want to lose the opportunity; so you had better take to the boat at once.

But in any case I shouldn't have kept you out of it for long since I am due in the hayfields in a few days.

“The greatest gift of my career”

The newcomer rubbed his hands with glee, but turning to me, said in a friendly voice:. But you had better both come in with me at once and get something to ear, lest you should forget your dinner in your amusement. I suppose you came into the Guest House after I had gone to bed last night? I nodded, not caring to enter into a long explanation which would have let to nothing, and which in truth by this time I should have begun to doubt myself. And we all three turned toward the door of the Guest House. I lingered a little behind the others to have a stare at this house, which, as I have told you, stood on the site of my old dwelling.

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It was a longish building with its gable ends turned away from the road, and long traceried windows coming rather low down set in the wall that faced us. It was very handsomely built of red brick with a lead roof; and high up above the windows there ran a frieze of figure subjects in baked clay, very well executed, and designed with a force and directness which I had never noticed in modern work before.

The subjects I recognized at once, and indeed was very particularly familiar with them. However, all this I took in in a minute; for we were presently within doors, and standing in a hall with a floor of marble mosaic and an open timber roof. There were no windows on the side opposite to the river, but arches below leading into chambers, one of which showed a glimpse of a garden beyond, and above them a long space of wall gaily painted in fresco, I thought with similar subjects to those of the frieze outside; everything about the place was handsome and generously solid as to material; and though it was not very large somewhat smaller than Crosby Hall perhaps , one felt in it that exhilarating sense of space and freedom which satisfactory architecture always gives to an anxious man who is in the habit of using his eyes.

In this pleasant place, which of course I knew to be the hall og the Guest House, three young women were flitting to and fro. As they were the first of the sex I had seen on this eventful morning, I naturally looked at them very attentively, and found them at least as good as the gardens, the architecture, and the male men.

As to their dress, which of course I took note of, I should say that they were decently veiled with drapery, and not bundled up with millinery; that they were clothed like women, not upholstered like arm-chairs, as most women of our time are.