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The Hurly-Burly
by [?]

"O dear me, these lazy rogues!" she would complain to the empty rooms, "they waste time, so it’s robbery, it is robbery. You may wear yourself to the bone and what does it signify to such as them. All the responsibility, too! They would take your skin if they could get it off you — and they can’t!"

She kept such a sharp eye on the corn and meal and eggs that Sampson got surly. She placated him by handing him Mr Weetman’s gun and a few cartridges, saying: "Just shoot me a couple of rabbits over in the warren when you got time. " At the end of the day Mr Sampson had not succeeded in killing a rabbit so he kept the gun and the cartridges many more days. Phemy was really happy. The gloom of the farm had disappeared. The farmhouse and everything about it looked beautiful, beautiful indeed with its yard full of ricks, the pond full of ducks, the fields full of sheep and cattle, and the trees still full of leaves and birds. She flung maize about the yard; the hens scampered towards it and the young pigs galloped, quarrelling over the grains which they groped and snuffed for, grinding each one separately in their iron jaws, while the white pullets stalked delicately among them, picked up the maize seeds, One Two Three, and swallowed them like ladies. Sometimes on cold mornings she would go outside and give an apple to the fat bay pony when he galloped back from the station. He would stand puffing with a kind of rapture, the wind from his nostrils discharging in the frosty air vague shapes like smoky trumpets. Presently upon his hide a little ball of liquid mysteriously suspired, grew, slid, dropped from his flanks into the road. And then drops would begin to come from all parts of him until the road beneath was dabbled by a shower from his dew-distilling outline. Phemy would say:

"The wretches! They were so late they drove him near distracted, poor thing. Lazy rogues, but wait till master comes back, they’d better be careful!"

And if any friendly person in the village asked her: "How are you getting on up there, Phemy?" she would reply, "Oh, as well as you can expect with so much to be done — and such men. " The interlocutor might hint that there was no occasion in the circumstances to distress oneself, but then Phemy would be vexed. To her, honesty was as holy as the sabbath to a little child. Behind her back they jested about her foolishness; but, after all, wisdom isn’t a process, it’s a result, it’s the fruit of the tree. One can’t be wise, one can o
nly be fortunate.

On the last day of her Elysium the workhouse master and the chaplain had stalked over the farm shooting partridges. In the afternoon she met them and asked for a couple of birds for Weetman’s return on the morrow. The workhouse was not far away, it was on a hill facing west, and at sunset time its windows would often catch the glare so powerfully that the whole building seemed to burn like a box of contained and smokeless fire. Very beautiful it looked to Phemy.


The men had come to work punctually and Phemy herself foundso much to do that she had no time to give the pony an apple. Shecleared the kitchen once and for all of the pails, guns, harness, andimplements that so hampered its domestic intention, and there wereabundant signs elsewhere of a new impulse at work in the establishment. She did not know at what hour to expect the prisonerso she often went to the garden gate and glanced up the road. The night had been wild with windy rain, but morn was sparklinglyclear though breezy still. Crisp leaves rustled about the roadwhere the polished chestnuts beside the parted husks lay in numbers,mixed with coral buds of the yews. The sycamore leaveswere black rags, but the delicate elm foliage fluttered down likeyellow stars. There was a brown field neatly adorned with whiteconed heaps of turnips, behind it a small upland of deeply greenlucerne, behind that nothing but blue sky and rolling cloud. Theturnips, washed by the rain, were creamy polished globes.