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nounced that a burial was about to take place; a circumstance, indeed, which was rendered sufficiently manifest by a newly dug grave in one corner of the church-yard, with its deal boards and piles of earth on either side. It was spring time, and all nature, in the vernal renewal of her youth and bloom, was as bright and vivacious as if nought that then lived was doomed to die. Every thing seemed teeming with life and enjoyment. Gay and brilliant was the smile with which the sun lighted up the whole rejoicing landscape ; the cattle frolicked in their pastures, the birds sang their amorous descant with a clear and lusty voice, the bees were busily humming about the flowers, the river Parret sparkled and prattled in its rapid course round the south of the village, and the wind made cheerful music in the trees as it wafted towards the church, whence it was soon to bear away in an opposite direction the deep toll of the passing-bell, the solemn sounds of the openair burial-service, and the sobs of bereaved relatives. There was something contradictory,
too, something almost startling and unnatural in the vivid light which the sun threw down into the narrow grave, gleaming as it did upon the mouldering fragments of human beings who had once sported in the rays of the same unfading luminary, and revealing to the gazer's eye those unutterable secrets of the sepulchre, which from their revolting nature we could wish to be ever shrouded in impervious gloom. It looked almost like a mockery of death to see its mysteries, which had been so long buried in deep darkness, thus thrown open to the vulgar gaze, and flickering in the glare of sunshine.
Many of the villagers had been to inspect the grave, and five living figures still remained near it. Three of these were children, drawn to the spot by curiosity, elinging together that they might encourage one another to look down into “the pit-hole,” as they sidled towards it step by step, and recoiling with awe-stricken looks after they had snatched a single hasty peep. Still, however, they lingered beside the mounds of earth, timidly turning over with their feet the relics of human bones, or the remains of a mouldering coffin-plate, and looking earnestly at one another at every fresh discovery of this nature, though their little throbbing hearts were too full of an undefined fear and reverence to allow them to utter a syllable. Their half-open mouths, however, and their anxious, glistening eyes, sufficiently betrayed their emotion, until, as they walked slowly away, occasionally looking back and pointing to the grave, their feelings found vent in an eager, and yet half-suppressed whispering.
The two remaining figures consisted of an old crone, bent almost double with age, seated upon an adjoining grave, and an ancient silverheaded peasant supporting himself upon a crutch-headed stick as he conversed with her, after having reverently doffed his hat. Far from sympathizing with the children who had just left the spot, the former, although the bones strewed before her might probably have belonged to play-fellows with whom in her girlish days she had scampered along the church-yard, evinced much of that callousness which old age and poverty, perhaps happily for the sufferers, are so apt to engender. “What zay, Jan Chervil ?” croaked the dame, in a broad Somersetshire. dialect, and a voice that was frequently interrupted by a deep cough,,“ Old Adam Chubb be a gwon dead at last, be ’en? Fags! what othat? Adam Chubb’s been dead theease vive year, only. 'a never drapp'd. I zeed 'en my own zel last Milemas when ’a was as blind as a wont, an' as dunch as a pooast”*
“ Anan!” cried Chervil, not hearing her obobservation. ..“ Begummers !” shrieked his companion at the top of her cracked voice, “ zim to I thee beest betwattled, theezel, amost as bad as old Adam.” .. .
“ Old Adam, 'dame ?' 'A worn’t zo old a'ter all;. 'a worn't above vour score, war 'en ? And
* Wont, a mole—dunch, deaf. See “ Jennings on the Dialect of the West of England," a book to which the Author has been more than once indebted.
what does thee make zich a duddering noise vor? I can hear 'ee vast enough gif thee 'ool but speak up." - “Lord love us all! Jan Chervil, vew do care when old volk do drap, I dwon't myzel; da zeem zo naat'al, dwon't it? But only ta think o'thic pit-hole right avore us being digged for young Maester Colyton and he not eighteen year old! You 'll come an zee'n put in the groun', 'ont ye? Ees, I know you ’ool. Poor Maester Richard ! he be gwon where all on 's must goo; and my snuff be agwon too,” added the sentimental crone, fumbling in the corner of a small canvass bag, “thof it bain't a month zunce I vill'd’en. Sartin shower I war gawkum enough ta shod zome on't in my yapern while I war tying on it up, but ’tis niver-the-near ta talk o' what’s alost ; 't war var vought and dear abought, but its na use to worret about past misfortins ; I never do my own zel, and zo I do hope tha good squire 'ont take on about poor Maester Richard.”
“Ay, dame, you an' I may lay down the law