**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Abbey
by [?]

Probably it was as a rule a contented and amiable society. The regular hours, the wholesome fatigue which the rule entailed, must have tended to keep the inmates in health and good-humour. But probably there was much tittle-tattle; and a disagreeable, jealous, or scheming inmate must have been able to stir up a good deal of strife in a society living at such close quarters. One thinks loosely that it must have resembled the life of a college at the University, but that is an entire misapprehension; for the idea of a college is liberty with just enough discipline to hold it together, while the idea of a monastery was discipline with just enough liberty to make life tolerable.

Well, it is all over now! the idea of the monastic life, which was to make a bulwark for quiet-minded people against the rougher world, is no longer needed. The work of the monks is done. Yet I gave an affectionate thought across the ages to the old inmates of the place, whose bones have mouldered into the dust of the yard where we sat. It seemed half-pleasant, half-pathetic to think of them as they went about their work, sturdy, cheerful figures, looking out over the wide fen with all its clear pools and reed-beds, growing old in the familiar scene, passing from the dormitory to the infirmary, and from the infirmary to the graveyard, in a sure and certain hope. They too enjoyed the first breaking of spring, the return of balmy winds, the pushing up of the delicate flowers in orchard and close, with something of the same pleasure that I experience to-day. The same wonder that I feel, the same gentle thrill speaking of an unattainable peace, an unruffled serenity that lies so near me in the spring sunshine, flashed, no doubt, into those elder spirits. Perhaps, indeed, their heart went out to the unborn that should come after them, as my heart goes out to the dead to-day.

And even the slow change that has dismantled that busy place, and established it as the quiet farmstead that I see, holds a hope within it. There must indeed have been a sad time when the buildings were slipping into decay, and the church stood ruined and roofless. But how soon the scars are healed! How calmly nature smiles at the eager schemes of men, breaks them short, and then sets herself to harmonise and adorn the ruin, till she makes it fairer than before, writing her patient lesson of beauty on broken choir and tottering wall, flinging her tide of fresh life over the rents, and tenderly drawing back the broken fragments into her bosom. If we could but learn from her not to fret or grieve, to gather up what remains, to wait patiently and wisely for our change!

So I reasoned softly to myself in a train of gentle thought, till the plough-horses came clattering in, and the labourers plodded gratefully home; and the sun went down over the flats in a great glory of orange light.