THEY had climbed one of the deep trackways under the beech trees, a track that was as old as time. The trees were in spring leaf, and green with that strange and luminous greenness that is like light caught and transformed into one of the garments of God. The grey trunks rose out of the chalky soil in which flints lay amid the hronze of last years leaves. The sky was invisible ahove the massed canopies, hut there was the other blueness of bluebells pouring down the slopes. There was a great stillness here, supreme peace. The tall woman paused. Her eyes were dreamy and tender, and she was smiling as a woman smiles when she looks at some very beautiful thing, or at a very young child. Oh, this England There is almost a pang in such loveliness Her friend, who was dark and more silent, looked up into the greenish light amid the leaves, After London, yes. What do they call this place Monks Wood. How utterly right. Where do. we come to Nowhere, and every where Tatley Heath. But it isnt quite a heath. Lets go on. The hollow way led them to a little plateau on the summit of the chalk ridge, a wild place where bracken was crooking up amid thorns and yews. Grass tracks ran hither and thither, or spread into lagoons of brilliant rabbit-nibbled turf. The old thorns were in flower, and looking like green tents that had been snowed upon. 3 The smell of them was stronger than the more subtle scent of the Huetells. Here and there, a great tree, beech or oak, raised a dome above the wild tangle. To the north a wood of pines built a barrier of impenetrable gloom. Westwards a grove of birches fluttered their green lace above the silver trunks. The sky was profoundly blue and brilliant with piled up clouds. Just ahead of them as they reached the edge of the plateau a vast beech, dwarfed as to trunk, trailed its lower branches on the ground. They were in the shadow of the tree, and half concealed by it when the fair woman touched her friends arm. Look Beyond the beech tree and surrounded by flowering thorns lay a little circle of grass. A small, naked, Pan-like creature was dancing there. He had a willow twig in his hands, one end of the twig in his mouth, and his fingers were playing on this mock-pipe. Almost, his head was the head of a faun, black and big for his small body. Near one of the thorn trees his clothes lay in a neat pile, with a pair of very modem shoes set neatly on the summit of the little heap. The two women stood close together, watching the boy footing it over the turf. He did not see them. He was absorbed in his dancing, in the wild fancy of his small Puckish soul. So, John Keats might have danced on his little short legs, even in fancy, if not among the thorns on Hampstead Heath. They turned to look into each others eyes, and each understood the look in the eyes of the other. This was a vision of Greek phan tasy, the Spring dance of a wild thing out of the woods. Pan and his flute Mere mortals should not disturb him, nor should he be seen by them. They drew back step by step and side by side, still watch ing that little white figure with its dark and faunlike head, brilliant as an ivory cameo set in a case of green velvet. An old thorn offered its shelter and they slid behind it, and so away by a path that flowed into the wilderness. The tall woman spoke in a whisper as though she had seen a vision. Who r Little John Pope, the village oddity. So, he is real Very. He lives with his aunt who keeps the village shop. 4 An orphan Yes 1 have never seen anything like it. Quite lovely, and so unself conscious. But, what on earth does the village make of such a child It doesnt. Little John Pope does what he pleases They think him nicely mad, perhaps Hardly that. John, at ten, is top of the village school. Our school master must be posed...
Used availability for Warwick Deeping's The Impudence of Youth
March 2007 : UK Paperback