CHAPTER X (Continuation)

Before our supper, Harris and George and I were quarrelsome and snappy and ill-tempered; after our supper, we sat and beamed on one another, and we beamed upon the dog, too. We loved each other, we loved everybody. Harris, in moving about, trod on George\'s corn. Had this happened before supper, George would have expressed wishes and desires concerning Harris\'s fate in this world and the next that would have made a thoughtful man shudder.

As it was, he said: "Steady, old man; ’ware wheat."

And Harris, instead of merely observing, in his most unpleasant tones, that a fellow could hardly help treading on some bit of George\'s foot, if he had to move about at all within ten yards of where George was sitting, suggesting that George never ought to come into an ordinary sized boat with feet that length, and advising him to hang them over the side, as he would have done before supper, now said: "Oh, I\'m so sorry, old chap; I hope I haven\'t hurt you."

And George said: "Not at all;" that it was his fault; and Harris said no, it was his.

It was quite pretty to hear them.

We lit our pipes, and sat, looking out on the quiet night, and talked.

George said why could not we be always like this - away from the world, with its sin and temptation, leading sober, peaceful lives, and doing good. I said it was the sort of thing I had often longed for myself; and we discussed the possibility of our going away, we four, to some handy, well-fitted desert island, and living there in the woods.

Harris said that the danger about desert islands, as far as he had heard, was that they were so damp: but George said no, not if properly drained.

And then we got on to drains, and that put George in mind of a very funny thing that happened to his father once. He said his father was travelling with another fellow through Wales, and, one night, they stopped at a little inn, where there were some other fellows, and they joined the other fellows, and spent the evening with them.

They had a very jolly evening, and sat up late, and, by the time they came to go to bed, they (this was when George\'s father was a very young man) were slightly jolly, too. They (George\'s father and George\'s father\'s friend) were to sleep in the same room, but in different beds. They took the candle, and went up. The candle lurched up against the wall when they got into the room, and went out, and they had to undress and grope into bed in the dark. This they did; but, instead of getting into separate beds, as they thought they were doing, they both climbed into the same one without knowing it - one getting in with his head at the top, and the other crawling in from the opposite side of the compass, and lying with his feet on the pillow.

There was silence for a moment, and then George\'s father said:

\"What\'s the matter, Tom?" replied Joe\'s voice from the other end of the bed.

\"Why, there\'s a man in my bed," said George\'s father; "here\'s his feet on my pillow."

\"Well, it\'s an extraordinary thing, Tom," answered the other; "but I\'m blest if there isn\'t a man in my bed, too!"

\"What are you going to do?" asked George\'s father.

\"Well, I\'m going to chuck him out," replied Joe.

\"So am I," said George\'s father, valiantly.

There was a brief struggle, followed by two heavy bumps on the floor, and then a rather doleful voice said:
"I say, Tom!"


\"How have you got on?"

\"Well, to tell you the truth, my man\'s chucked me out."

\"So\'s mine! I say, I don\'t think much of this inn, do you?"

\"What was the name of that inn?" said Harris.

\"The Pig and Whistle," said George. "Why?"

\"Ah, no, then it isn\'t the same," replied Harris.

\"What do you mean?" queried George.

\"Why it\'s so curious," murmured Harris, "but precisely that very same thing happened to my father once at a country inn. I\'ve often heard him tell the tale. I thought it might have been the same inn."

We turned in at ten that night, and I thought I should sleep well, being tired; but I didn\'t. As a rule, I undress and put my head on the pillow, and then somebody bangs at the door, and says it is half-past eight: but, to-night, everything seemed against me; the novelty of it all, the hardness of the boat, the cramped position (I was lying with my feet under one seat, and my head on another), the sound of the lapping water round the boat, and the wind among the branches, kept me restless and disturbed.

I did get to sleep for a few hours, and then some part of the boat which seemed to have grown up in the night - for it certainly was not there when we started, and it had disappeared by the morning - kept digging into my spine. I slept through it for a while, dreaming that I had swallowed a sovereign, and that they were cutting a hole in my back with a gimlet, so as to try and get it out. I thought it very unkind of them, and I told them I would owe them the money, and they should have it at the end of the month. But they would not hear of that, and said it would be much better if they had it then, because otherwise the interest would accumulate so. I got quite cross with them after a bit, and told them what I thought of them, and then they gave the gimlet such an excruciating wrench that I woke up.

The boat seemed stuffy, and my head ached; so I thought I would step out into the cool night-air. I slipped on what clothes I could find about - some of my own, and some of George\'s and Harris\'s - and crept under the canvas on to the bank.

It was a glorious night. The moon had sunk, and left the quiet earth alone with the stars. It seemed as if, in the silence and the hush, while we her children slept, they were talking with her, their sister - conversing of mighty mysteries in voices too vast and deep for childish human ears to catch the sound.

They awe us, these strange stars, so cold, so clear. We are as children whose small feet have strayed into some dim-lit temple of the god they have been taught to worship but know not; and, standing where the echoing dome spans the long vista of the shadowy light, glance up, half hoping, half afraid to see some awful vision hovering there.

And yet it seems so full of comfort and of strength, the night. In its great presence, our small sorrows creep away, ashamed. The day has been so full of fret and care, and our hearts have been so full of evil and of bitter thoughts, and the world has seemed so hard and wrong to us. Then Night, like some great loving mother, gently lays her hand upon our fevered head, and turns our little tear-stained faces up to hers, and smiles; and, though she does not speak, we know what she would say, and lay our hot flushed cheek against her bosom, and the pain is gone.

Sometimes, our pain is very deep and real, and we stand before her very silent, because there is no language for our pain, only a moan. Night\'s heart is full of pity for us: she cannot ease our aching; she takes our hand in hers, and the little world grows very small and very far away beneath us, and, borne on her dark wings, we pass for a moment into a mightier Presence than her own, and in the wondrous light of that great Presence, all human life lies like a book before us, and we know that Pain and Sorrow are but the angels of God.

Only those who have worn the crown of suffering can look upon that wondrous light; and they, when they return, may not speak of it, or tell the mystery they know.

Once upon a time, through a strange country, there rode some goodly knights, and their path lay by a deep wood, where tangled briars grew very thick and strong, and tore the flesh of them that lost their way therein. And the leaves of the trees that grew in the wood were very dark and thick, so that no ray of light came through the branches to lighten the gloom and sadness.

And, as they passed by that dark wood, one knight of those that rode, missing his comrades, wandered far away, and returned to them no more; and they, sorely grieving, rode on without him, mourning him as one dead.

Now, when they reached the fair castle towards which they had been journeying, they stayed there many days, and made merry; and one night, as they sat in cheerful ease around the logs that burned in the great hall, and drank a loving measure, there came the comrade they had lost, and greeted them. His clothes were ragged, like a beggar\'s, and many sad wounds were on his sweet flesh, but upon his face there shone a great radiance of deep joy.

And they questioned him, asking him what had befallen him: and he told them how in the dark wood he had lost his way, and had wandered many days and nights, till, torn and bleeding, he had lain him down to die.

Then, when he was nigh unto death, lo! through the savage gloom there came to him a stately maiden, and took him by the hand and led him on through devious paths, unknown to any man, until upon the darkness of the wood there dawned a light such as the light of day was unto but as a little lamp unto the sun; and, in that wondrous light, our way-worn knight saw as in a dream a vision, and so glorious, so fair the vision seemed, that of his bleeding wounds he thought no more, but stood as one entranced, whose joy is deep as is the sea, whereof no man can tell the depth.

And the vision faded, and the knight, kneeling upon the ground, thanked the good saint who into that sad wood had strayed his steps, so he had seen the vision that lay there hid.

And the name of the dark forest was Sorrow; but of the vision that the good knight saw therein we may not speak nor tell.


awe: (awing, awed) to feel respect and admiration

bang: (banging, banged) hit, knock

beam: (beaming, beamed) smile

briar: a wild bush, dzika róża

chuck: (chucking, chucked) throw

corn: odcisk

cramped: confined, overcrowded, ścieśniony

damp: humid, wet

devious: deceitful, tricky

doleful: unhappy

dome: kopuła

drain: (draining, drained) pump out, odprowadzić wodę

entranced: deep in thought

excruciating: agonizing

fret: worry

gimlet: a tool that is used to make small holes in wood

greet: (greeting, greeted) welcome

grieve: (grieving, grieved) mourn, opłakiwać

grope: (groping, groped) try to find sth that you cannot see by feeling with your hands

hover: (hovering, hovered) float

hush: peace

ill-tempered: bad-tempered

I\'m blest: I’ll be blessed: (spoken old-fashioned) used to express surprise

jolly: cheerful

lap: (lapping, lapped) splash

lo!: (interjection old use) used to attract attention

lurch: (lurching, lurched) move suddenly forward or sideways because you cannot control your movements

moan: a long low sight expressing pain or unhappiness

mourn: (mourning, mourned) grieve

quarrelsome: argumentative

shudder: (shuddering, shuddered) tremble

sit up: (sitting, sat) stay up very late

slip sth on: (slipping, slipped) to put clothes on quickly

snappy: irritable

sober: calm

sorely: deeply

sovereign: a coin

stately: splendid

stray: (straying, strayed) get lost

stuffy: airless, hot

therein: there

tread: (treading, trod) put one’s foot into sth while walking

turn in: (turning, turned) go to bed

valiantly: bravely

vast: huge

vista: view

whereof: (old use) of which

wondrous: amazing

wrench: pull, jerk, szarpnięcie

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