Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeEssaysThe Silent Isle - Chapter 56
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Silent Isle - Chapter 56 Post by :Yeraj Category :Essays Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :2834

Click below to download : The Silent Isle - Chapter 56 (Format : PDF)

The Silent Isle - Chapter 56


It was by what we clumsily call _chance but really by what I am learning to perceive to be the subtlest and prettiest surprises of the Power that walks beside us, that I found myself in Ely yesterday morning--the first real day of summer. The air was full of sunshine, like golden dust, and all the plants had taken a leap forward in the night, and were unfurling their crumpled flags as speedily as they might. I came vaguely down to the river, guided by the same good spirit, and there at the boat-wharf I found a little motor-launch lying, which could be hired for the day. I took it, like the Lady of Shalott; but I did not write my name on the prow, because it had already some silly, darting kind of name. A mild, taciturn man took charge of my craft; and without delay we clicked and gurgled out into the stream.

I wish I could describe the day, for it was sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; and I should like to pour out of my stored sweetness for others. But I can hardly say what happened. It was all just like the tale of Shalott, with this difference, that there was no shadow of doom overhanging me; I felt more like a fairy prince with some pretty adventure awaiting me as soon as the town, with gardens and balconies, should begin to fringe the stream; perhaps a hand would be waved from the lawn, embowered in lilacs, of some sequestered house by the water-side. There was no singing aloud of mournful carols either, but my heart made a quiet and wistful music of its own.

I thought that I should have liked a more grave and ancient mode of conveyance; but how silly to desire that! The Lady of Shalott's boat was no doubt of the latest and neatest trim, fully up to her drowsy date; and as for quaintness, no doubt a couple of hundred years hence, when our river-craft may be cigar-shaped torpedoes of aluminium for all I know, a picture of myself in my homely motor-boat, with antiquated hat and odd grey suit, will appear quaint and old-timed enough. And, anyhow, the ripple gurgled under the prow, the motor ticked tranquilly, and the bubbles danced in the wake. We went on swiftly enough, and every time that I turned the great towers had grown fainter in the haze; we slid by the green flood-banks, with here and there a bunch of kingcups blazing in glory, the elbows of the bank full of white cow-parsley, comfrey, and water-dock. I heard the sedge-warbler whistle drily in the willow-patch, and a nightingale sang with infinite sweetness in a close of thorn-bushes now bursting into bloom; blue sky above, a sapphire streak of waterway ahead, green banks on either side; a little enough matter to fill a heart with joy. Once I had a thrill when a pair of sandpipers flicked out of a tiny cove and flew, glancing white, with pointed wings ahead of us. Again we started them, and again, till they wearied of the chase and flew back, with a wide circuit, to their first haunt. A cuckoo in a great poplar fluted solemnly and richly as we murmured past; the world was mostly hidden from us, but now and then a church tower looked gravely over the bank, and ran beside us for a time, or the lowing of cattle came softly from a pasture, or I heard the laughter of unseen children from a cottage garth. Once or twice we passed an inn, with cheerful, leisurely people sitting smiling together on a lawn, like a scene out of a romance; and then at last, on passing Baitsbite lock, we slipped into a merrier world. Here we heard the beat of rowlocks, the horse-hoofs of a coach thudded on the bank, and a crew of jolly young men went gliding past, with a cox shouting directions, just as I might have been doing thirty years ago! Thirty years ago! And it seems like yesterday, and I not a scrap older or wiser, though, thank God, a good deal happier. Even so we drift on to the unseen. Then we passed a village, the thatched cottages with their white gables rising prettily from the blossoming orchards. Ditton on its little hill; and the old iron bridge thundered and clanked with a passing train; then came the rattle of the grinds; and the mean houses of Barnwell; and soon we were gliding up among the backs, under the bridge of St. John's, by the willow-hung walks of Trinity, by the ivied walls and trim gardens of Clare, past the great white palace-front of King's, and so by the brick gables and oriels of Queens' into the Newnham mill-pool. It was somehow not like Cambridge, but like some enchanted town of palaces; and I would not break the spell; so we swung about, made no stay, and then slowly reversed the whole panorama again, through the long, still afternoon.

The old life of Cambridge--it was all there, after the long years, just the same, full of freshness and laughter; but I came into it as a _revenant_, and yet with no sense of sadness, rather of joy that it should all be so continuous and bright. I did not want it back; I did not desire any part in it, but was merely glad to watch and remember. I thought of myself as a fitful boy full of dreams and hopes, some fulfilled, some unfulfilled; those that I have realised so strangely unlike what I expected, those unrealised still beckoning with radiant visage. I did not even desire any companionship, any interchange of thought and mood. Was it selfish, dull, unenterprising to be so content? I do not think so, for a stream of gentle emotion, which I know was sweet and which I think was pure, lapsed softly through my mind all day. It is not always thus with me, and I took the good day from the hands of God as a perfect gift; and though it would be easy to argue that I could have been better employed, a deeper instinct said to me that I was meant to be thus, and that, after all, God sends us into the world to live, though often enough our life tosses like a fretful stream among rocky boulders and under troubled skies. God can give and he can withhold; I do not question his power or his right; I mourn over the hard gifts from his hand; but when he sends me a sweet gift, let me try to realise, what I do not doubt, that indeed he wishes me well.

Once in the afternoon we stayed our boat, and I climbed to the top of the flood-bank and sate looking out over the wide fen; I saw the long dykes run eastward, the far-off churches, the distant hazy hills; and I thought of all the troubles that men make for each other, adding so wantonly to the woes of the world. And I wondered what was this strange fibre of pain so inwoven in the life of the world, wondered wistfully and rebelliously, till I felt that I drew nearer in that quiet hour to the Heart of God. I could not be mistaken. There was peace hidden there, the peace that to-day brooded over the kindly earth, all carpeted with delicate green, in the cool water lapping in the reeds, in the green thorn-bush and the birds' sudden song, even in this restless heart that would fain find its haven and its home.

If you like this book please share to your friends :

The Silent Isle - Chapter 57 The Silent Isle - Chapter 57

The Silent Isle - Chapter 57
CHAPTER LVIITo-day was oppressively hot, brooding, airless; or rather, not so much without air, as that the air was thick and viscous like honey, without the thin, fine quality. One drank rather than breathed it. Yet nature revelled and rejoiced in it with an almost shameless intoxication; the trees unfolded their leaves and shook themselves out, crumpled by the belated and chilly spring. The air was full of clouds of hurrying, dizzy insects, speeding at a furious rate, on no particular errand, but merely stung with the fierce joy of life and motion. In the road crawled stout bronze-green beetles, in

The Silent Isle - Chapter 55 The Silent Isle - Chapter 55

The Silent Isle - Chapter 55
CHAPTER LVI have had a fortnight of perfect weather here--the meteorologists call it by the horrible and ugly name of "anticyclone," which suggests, even more than the word "cyclone" suggests, the strange weather said by the Psalmist to be in store for the unrighteous--"Upon the ungodly he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest." I have often wondered what the fields would look like after a rain of snares! The word "cyclone" by itself suggests a ghastly whorl of high vapours, and the addition of "anti" seems to make it even more hostile. But an anticyclone in the springtime