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looked again, they could see nothing but the slate steeple that marked the church, and pointed upwards.
Across the turnip fields they went once more, and the little ones would fain have stopped to add to their nosegays, now already approaching colossal proportions. To get them along Great-heart was obliged to hint that they might not have time to go round by the third and last church he wanted to visit, the one so close to the place they were stopping at. This had its immediate effect. The children ran to him at once, and linking their hands in his, trudged bravely on.
They passed again through the quaint village, with only a draught of water for refreshment this time, then mounted the hill, from the top of which they had before looked down into the valley. It was a fatiguing pull up there, for the sun had still some power left in it ; but they were up at last, and resting on the same spot as in the morning.
The shepherd-boy and his dog had, between them, now collected their sheep into the pen. There they were, all huddled up together, looking very uncomfortable, and much cramped for space.
Where all had been scorched up by the hot sun before, now was in delightful shade. Only high up where the travellers were did the last rays of the setting sun still linger. There it was, to their right, a great
globe, of fire going down behind the sea, across which, if all went well, they were to go upon the morrow.
And as they walked along, and saw it slowly sink away, what magnificent colours it left behind upon the fleecy clouds, from blood-red to grey, as the daylight went and twilight came. What splendid rays shot upwards from it to pierce the sky and shine faintly out upon the white cliffs, and in the cottage windows for awhile, only to die away all too soon. Then came creeping up opposite what seemed almost another half-spent sun, without its heat, but with much of its superb brilliancy, to rise inch by inch from out the hills, a clear-cut circle ; then, as it slowly mounted upward, the red to leave and give place to a round orb of light, liquid grey; the crystal ball to hang there in the still firmament, and shed its soft light on all around. This was the harvest
Soon, one by one, the stars came twinkling forth, to mingle their feeble strength with that great luminary. There, too, in front of all, the ocean lying undisturbed, the silver rays dancing o'er its ripples, and, nestling peacefully around its church, the little place the children visited. It was a glorious sight, indeed, and awed the three to silence.
Great-heart looked down on his charges. "I fear, darlings, you must be very tired. You
must certainly be hungry ere this. Forgive me if, in my love for all this beautiful nature, I have selfishly taken you too far, endeavoured to force too much upon you.”
“No need to ask forgiveness," murmured Dot; and she glanced up with her bright eyes, in which the moonlight Sparkled. “It is rather we who ought to do that. You must find us a sad drag on your time and patience at times.”
"Do let us see this other place,” cried Trixie. “We are not tired, really.”
“You answer for yourself, dear. But how about little Dot here?”
“ This sort of walk could not tire me, love. Even if it did, it were worth more fatigue than this to gaze on all this loveliness !” exclaimed the child fervently.
“How true," murmured Great-heart, and he stooped down and kissed each maiden's brow. “ How true, indeed!"
He took them up in his strong arms, by turns, and carried them along, although they said it was not needed ; carried them up to that third garden, slumbering there with its church in the grey moonlight. They found its iron gate open. Halfa-dozen white steps just inside led upwards, for the ground on which this little edifice stood was raised
above the roadway. Mounting, they were at a lovely spot truly, like the others they had visited in this, that therein rested many sleepers too., In this were grassy hillocks, marble crosses, tombs as well, with many flowers and shrubs, the same style of church, almost a twin-porch, with fondly-clinging creepers. And yet, with it all, how unlike! And why? Because this one was still more of a garden, trim and neat, than the others were. Where in them nature had often grown and spread around as it listed, wild and luxuriant, here every flower, bush, and tree seemed trained, pruned by the hand of man, the very blades of grass known and lain in order. No vulgar marigold or common corn flower, no gaudy poppy here ; geraniums, roses, bushes of holly and of fir, creepers of clematis in plenty, with the noble passion-flower in great abundance, yet all so trim and orderly. Then there seemed nothing old, all the graves and stones so new, the inscriptions on them going back but few years. How the marble shone out in that pale light, either on the crosses, or the little edgings of the same which ran round some of the graves, and enclosed its tiny garden, a peaceful place, and beautiful. Yet, in the man's eyes at least, it lacked the attraction the others did, by reason of this same culture. It was too much of a garden, too little of a churchyard.
They tarried there awhile, until Great-heart insisted that the children should come away, for it grew late and chilly. So they went back to the inn and sea once more. A hearty meal they all ate that night after their long walk.
Up in the children's room later the three sat and talked it all over, in one of those chats the little ones enjoyed so much, in that happy hour so often spent in this way, before they went to bed and slept the deep sleep of childhood.
“I should like your verdicts on the three churches and their gardens, pets, ere I leave you. What does
say? Whisper in my ear, darling.” The child did so. It was the spot "where the gay marigolds grew."
"And Dot ?"
That maiden was thoughtful. Presently she exclaimed, with tears dimming her pretty eyes, —
“I cannot tell. They were all so lovely. But if I must choose, I think I should say," and she too whispered, it was the
which the moonlight shone. "All seemed to sleep so calm and peaceful beneath it there," she said.
“And you, which would you say, Great-heart ?” cried Trixie.
He pondered likewise as Dot had done. “I, like little sister here, am puzzled how to