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where the needles have fallen and strew the surface thickly. Outside the wood, in the waggon-track, the beech leaves lie on the side of the mound, dry and shrivelled at the top, but stir them, and under the top layer they still retain the clear brown of autumn.
The ivy trailing on the bank is moist and freshly green. There are two tints of moss; one light, the other deeper-both very pleasant and restful to the eye. These beds of moss are the greenest and brightest of the winter's colours. Besides these there are ale-hoof, or ground-ivy leaves (not the ivy that climbs trees), violet leaves, celandine mars, primrose mars, foxglove mars, teazle mars, and barren strawberry leaves, all green in the midst of winter. One tiny white flower of barren strawberry has ventured to bloom. Round about the lower end of each maple stick, just at the ground, is a green wrap of moss. Though leafless above, it is green at the foot. At the verge of the ploughed field below, exposed as it is, chickweed, groundsel, and shepherd'spurse are flowering. About a little thorn there hang withered red berries of bryony, as if the bare thorn bore fruit; the bine of the climbing plant clings to it still; there are traces of "old man's beard," the white fluffy relics of clematis bloom, stained brown by the weather; green catkins droop thickly on the hazel. Every step presents some item of interest, and thus it is that it is never so much winter in the country. Where fodder has been thrown down in a pasture field for horses, a black congregation of rooks has crowded together in a ring. A solitary pole for trapping hawks stands on the sloping ground outside
the cover. These poles are visited every morning when the trap is there, and the captured creature put out of pain. Of the cruelty of the trap itself there can be no doubt; but it is very unjust to assume that therefore those connected with sport are personally cruel. In a farmhouse much frequented by rats, and from which they cannot be driven out, these animals are said to have discovered a means of defying the gin set for them. One such gin was placed in the cheese-room, near a hole from which they issued, but they dragged together pieces of straw, little fragments of wood, and various odds and ends, and so covered the pan that the trap could not spring. They formed, in fact, a bridge over it.
Red and yellow fungi mark decaying places on the trunks and branches of the trees; their colour is brightest when the boughs are bare. By a streamlet wandering into the osier beds the winter gnats dance in the sunshine, round about an old post covered with ivy, on which green berries are thick. The warm sunshine gladdens the hearts of the moorhens floating on the water yonder by the bushes, and their singular note, "coorg-coorg," is uttered at intervals. In the plantation close to the house a fox resides as safe as King Louis in "Quentin Durward," surrounded with his guards and archers and fortified towers, though tokens of his midnight rambles, in the shape of bones, strew the front of his castle. He crosses the lawn in sight of the windows occasionally, as if he really knew and understood that his life is absolutely safe at ordinary times, and that he need beware of nothing but the hounds.
THE BATHING SEASON.
MOST people who go on the West Pier at Brighton walk at once straight to the farthest part. This is the order and custom of pier promenading; you are to stalk along the deck till you reach the end, and there go round and round the band in a circle like a horse tethered to an iron pin, or else sit down and admire those who do go round and round. No one looks back at the gradually extending beach and the fine curve of the shore. No one lingers where the surf breaks—immediately above it-listening to the remorseful sigh of the dying wave as it sobs back to the sea. There, looking downwards, the white edge of the surf recedes in hollow crescents, curve after curve for a mile or more, one succeeding before the first can disappear and be replaced by a fresh wave. A faint mistiness hangs above the beach at some distance, formed of the salt particles dashed into the air and suspended. At night, if the tide chances to be up, the white surf rushing in and returning immediately beneath has a strange effect, especially in its pitiless regularity. If one wave seems to break a little higher it is only in appearance, and because you have not watched long enough. In a certain
number of times another will break there again; presently one will encroach the merest trifle; after a while another encroaches again, and the apparent irregularity is really sternly regular. The free wave has no liberty-it does not act for itself,-no real generous wildness. "Thus far and no farther," is not a merciful saying. Cold and dread and pitiless, the wave claims its due-it stretches its arms to the fullest length, and does not pause or hearken to the desire of any human heart. Hopeless to appeal to is the unseen force that sends the white surge underneath to darken the pebbles to a certain line. The wetted pebbles are darker than the dry; even in the dusk they are easily distinguished. Something merciless is there not in this conjunction of restriction and impetus? Something outside human hope and thought-indifferent-cold?
Considering in this way, I wandered about fifty yards along the pier, and sat down in an abstracted way on the seat on the right side. Beneath, the clear green sea rolled in crestless waves towards the shore -they were moving "without the animation of the wind," which had deserted them two days ago, and a hundred miles out at sea. Slower and slower, with an indolent undulation, rising and sinking of mere weight and devoid of impetus, the waves passed on, scarcely seeming to break the smoothness of the surface. At a little distance it seemed level; yet the boats every now and then sank deeply into the trough, and even a large fishing-smack rolled heavily. For it is the nature of a groundswell to be exceedingly deceptive. Sometimes the waves are so far apart
that the sea actually is level-smooth as the surface of a polished dining-table-till presently there appears a darker line slowly approaching, and a wave of considerable size comes in, advancing exactly like the crease in the cloth which the housemaid spreads on the table-the air rolling along underneath it forms a linen imitation of the groundswell. These unexpected rollers are capital at upsetting boats just touching the beach; the boat is broadside on and the occupants in the water in a second. To-day the groundswell was more active, the waves closer together, not having had time to forget the force of the extinct gale. Yet the sea looked calm as a millpond-just the morning for a bath.
Along the yellow line where sand and pebbles meet there stood a gallant band, in gay uniforms, facing the water. Like the imperial legions who were ordered to charge the ocean, and gather the shells as spoils of war, the cohorts gleaming in purple and gold extended their front rank-their fighting line one to a yard-along the strand. Some tall and stately; some tall and slender; some well developed and firm on their limbs; some gentle in attitude, even in their war dress; some defiant; perhaps forty or fifty, perhaps more, ladies; a splendid display of womanhood in the bright sunlight. Blue dresses, pink dresses, purple dresses, trimmings of every colour; a gallant show. The eye had but just time to receive these impressions as it were with a blow of the camera-instantaneous photography-when, boom! the groundswell was on them, and, heavens, what a change! They disappeared. An arm projected here,