Anne Severn and the Fieldings (Chapter 10, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 10

i Eliot stood in the porch of the Manor Farm house. There was nobody there
to greet him. Behind him on the oak table in the hall the wire he had
sent lay unopened.

It was midday in June.

All round the place the air was sweet with the smell of the mown hay,
and from the Broad Pasture there came the rattle and throb of the
mowing-machines.

Eliot went down the road and through the gate into the hay-field. Colin
and Anne were there. Anne at the top of the field drove the mower,
mounted up on the shell-shaped iron seat, white against the blue sky.
Colin at the bottom, slender and tall above the big revolving wheel,
drove the rake. The tedding machine, driven by a farm hand, went
between. Its iron-toothed rack caught the new-mown hay, tossed it and
scattered it on the field. Beside the long glistening swaths the cut
edge of the hay stood up clean and solid as a wall. Above it the raised
plane of the grass-tops, brushed by the wind, quivered and swayed,
whitish green, greenish white, in a long shimmering undulation.

Eliot went on to meet Anne and Colin as they turned and came up the
field again.

When they saw him they jumped down and came running.

"Eliot, you never told us."

"I wired at nine this morning."

"There's nobody in the house and we've not been in since breakfast at
seven," Colin said.

"It's twelve now. Time you knocked off for lunch, isn't it?"

"Are you all right, Eliot?" said Anne.

"Rather."

He gave a long look at them, at their sun-burnt faces, at their clean,
slender grace, Colin in his cricketing flannels, and Anne in her
land-girl's white-linen coat, knickerbockers, and grey wideawake.

"Colin doesn't look as if there was much the matter with him. He might
have been farming all his life."

"So I have," said Colin; "considering that I haven't lived till now."

And they went back together towards the house.

ii Colin's and Anne's work was done for the day. The hay in the Broad
Pasture was mown and dried. Tomorrow it would be heaped into cocks and
carried to the stackyard.

It was the evening of Eliot's first day. He and Anne sat out under the
apple trees in the orchard.

"What on earth have you done to Colin?" he said. "I expected to find him
a perfect wreck."

"He was pretty bad three months ago. But it's good for him being down
here in the place he used to be happy in. He knows he's safe here. It's
good for him doing jobs about the farm, too."

"I imagine it's good for him being with you."

"Oh, well, he knows he's safe with me."

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