THE RAINS HAD washed the skies clean; the haze that had hung about was gone, and the sky was clear and intensely blue. The shadows were sharp and deep, and high on the hill a column of smoke was going straight up. They were burning something up there, and you could hear their voices. The little house was on a slope, but well-sheltered, with a small garden of its own to which loving care had been given. But this morning it was part of the whole of existence, and the wall around the garden seemed so unnecessary. Creepers grew on that wall, hiding the rocks, but here and there they were exposed; they were beautiful rocks, washed by many rains, and they had a growth of green-grey moss on them. Beyond the wall was a bit of wilderness, and somehow that wilderness was part of the garden. From the garden gate a path led to the village, where there was a dilapidated old church with a graveyard behind it. Very few came to the church, even on Sundays, mostly the old; and during the week no one came, for the village had other amusements. A small diesel locomotive with two carriages, cream and red, went to the larger town twice a day. The train was almost always filled with a cheerful, chattering crowd. Beyond the village another path led round to the right, gently going up the hill. On that path you would meet an occasional peasant carrying something, and with a grunt he would pass you by. On the other side of the hill, the path led down into a dense wood where the sun never penetrated; and going from the brilliant sunlight into the cool shadow of the wood was like a secret blessing. Nobody seemed to pass that way, and the wood was deserted. The dark green of the thick foliage was refreshing to the eyes and to the mind. One sat there in complete silence. Even the breeze was still; not a leaf moved, and there was that strange quietness which comes in places not frequented by human beings. A dog barked in the distance, and a brown deer crossed the path with easy leisure.


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