Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Shuttle50 > CHAPTER XXI KEDGERS
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 The work at Stornham Court went on steadily1, though with no greater rapidity than is usually achieved by rural labourers. There was, however, without doubt, a certain stimulus2 in the occasional appearance of Miss Vanderpoel, who almost daily sauntered round the place to look on, and exchange a few words with the workmen. When they saw her coming, the men, hastily standing3 up to touch their foreheads, were conscious of a slight acceleration4 of being which was not quite the ordinary quickening produced by the presence of employers. It was, in fact, a sensation rather pleasing than anxious. Her interest in the work was, upon the whole, one which they found themselves beginning to share. The unusualness of the situation—a young woman, who evidently stood for many things and powers desirable, employing labourers and seeming to know what she intended them to do—was a thing not easy to get over, or be come accustomed to. But there she was, as easy and well mannered as you please—and with gentlefolks' ways, though, as an American, such finish could scarcely be expected from her. She knew each man's name, it was revealed gradually, and, what was more, knew what he stood for in the village, what cottage he lived in, how many children he had, and something about his wife. She remembered things and made inquiries5 which showed knowledge. Besides this, she represented, though perhaps they were scarcely yet fully6 awake to the fact, the promise their discouraged dulness had long lost sight of.  
It actually became apparent that her ladyship, who walked with her, was altering day by day. Was it true that the bit of colour they had heard spoken of when she returned from town was deepening and fixing itself on her cheek? It sometimes looked like it. Was she a bit less stiff and shy-like and frightened in her way? Buttle mentioned to his friends at The Clock that he was sure of it. She had begun to look a man in the face when she talked, and more than once he had heard her laugh at things her sister said.
To one man more than to any other had come an almost unspeakable piece of luck through the new arrival—a thing which to himself, at least, was as the opening of the heavens. This man was the discouraged Kedgers. Miss Vanderpoel, coming with her ladyship to talk to him, found that the man was a person of more experience than might have been imagined. In his youth he had been an under gardener at a great place, and being fond of his work, had learned more than under gardeners often learn. He had been one of a small army of workers under the orders of an imposing7 head gardener, whose knowledge was a science. He had seen and taken part in what was done in orchid8 houses, orangeries, vineries, peach houses, conservatories9 full of wondrous10 tropical plants. But it was not easy for a man like himself, uneducated and lacking confidence of character, to advance as a bolder young man might have done. The all-ruling head gardener had inspired him with awe11. He had watched him reverently12, accumulating knowledge, but being given, as an underling, no opportunity to do more than obey orders. He had spent his life in obeying, and congratulated himself that obedience13 secured him his weekly wage.
“He was a great man—Mr. Timson—he was,” he said, in talking to Miss Vanderpoel. “Ay, he was that. Knew everything that could happen to a flower or a s'rub or a vegetable. Knew it all. Had a lib'ery of books an' read 'em night an' day. Head gardener's cottage was good enough for gentry14. The old Markis used to walk round the hothouses an' gardens talking to him by the hour. If you did what he told you EXACTLY like he told it to you, then you were all right, but if you didn't—well, you was off the place before you'd time to look round. Worked under him from twenty to forty. Then he died an' the new one that came in had new ways. He made a clean sweep of most of us. The men said he was jealous of Mr. Timson.”
“That was bad for you, if you had a wife and children,” Miss Vanderpoel said.
“Eight of us to feed,” Kedgers answered. “A man with that on him can't wait, miss. I had to take the first place I could get. It wasn't a good one—poor parsonage with a big family an' not room on the place for the vegetables they wanted. Cabbages, an' potatoes, an' beans, an' broccoli15. No time nor ground for flowers. Used to seem as if flowers got to be a kind of dream.” Kedgers gave vent16 to a deprecatory half laugh. “Me—I was fond of flowers. I wouldn't have asked no better than to live among 'em. Mr. Timson gave me a book or two when his lordship sent him a lot of new ones. I've bought a few myself—though I suppose I couldn't afford it.”
From the poor parsonage he had gone to a market gardener, and had evidently liked the work better, hard and unceasing as it had been, because he had been among flowers again. Sudden changes from forcing houses to chill outside dampness had resulted in rheumatism17. After that things had gone badly. He began to be regarded as past his prime of strength. Lower wages and labour still as hard as ever, though it professed18 to be lighter19, and therefore cheaper. At last the big neglected gardens of Stornham.
“What I'm seeing, miss, all the time, is what could be done with 'em. Wonderful it'd be. They might be the show of the county-if we had Mr. Timson here.”
Miss Vanderpoel, standing in the sunshine on the broad weed-grown pathway, was conscious that he was remotely moving. His flowers—his flowers. They had been the centre of his rudimentary rural being. Each man or woman cared for some one thing, and the unfed longing20 for it left the life of the creature a thwarted21 passion. Kedgers, yearning22 to stir the earth about the roots of blooming things, and doomed23 to broccoli and cabbage, had spent his years unfed. No thing is a small thing. Kedgers, with the earth under his broad finger nails, and his half apologetic laugh, being the centre of his own world, was as large as Mount Dunstan, who stood thwarted in the centre of his. Chancing-for God knows what mystery of reason-to be born one of those h............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved