Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
This book cannot be returned.
This book cannot be returned.
Those two girls, Constance and Sophia Baines, paid no heed to the manifold interest of theirsituation, of which, indeed, they had never been conscious. They were, for example, establishedalmost precisely on the fifty-third parallel of latitude. A little way to the north of them, in the creasesof a hill famous for its religious orgies, rose the river Trent, the calm and characteristic stream ofmiddle England. Somewhat further northwards, in the near neighbourhood of the highest publichouse in the realm, rose two lesser rivers, the Dane and the Dove, which, quarrelling in earlyinfancy, turned their backs on each other, and, the one by favour of the Weaver and the other byfavour of the Trent, watered between them the whole width of England, and poured themselvesrespectively into the Irish Sea and the German Ocean. What a county of modest, unnoticed rivers What a natural, simple county, content to fix its boundaries by these tortuous island brooks, withtheir comfortable names-Trent, Mease, Dove, Tern, Dane, Mees, Stour, Tame, and even hastySevern Not that the Severn is suitable to the county In the county excess is deprecated. The countyis happy in not exciting remark. It is content that Shropshire should possess that swollen bump, theWrekin, and that the exaggerated wildness of the Peak should lie over its border. It does not desireto be a pancake like Cheshire. It has everything that England has, including thirty miles of WatlingStreet; and England can show nothing more beautiful and nothing uglier than the works of natureand the works of man to be seen within the limits of the county. It is England in little, lost in themidst of England, unsung by searchers after the extreme; perhaps occasionally somewhat sore at thisneglect, but how proud in the instinctive cognizance of its representative features and traits Constance and Sophia, busy with the intense preoccupations of youth, recked not of suchmatters. They were surrounded by the county. On every side the fields and moors of Staffordshire, intersected by roads and lanes, railways, watercourses and telegraph-lines, patterned by hedges, ornamented and made respectable by halls and genteel parks, enlivened by villages at theintersections, and warmly surveyed by the sun, spread out undulating. And trains were rushinground curves in deep cuttings, and carts and waggons trotting and jingling on the yellow roads, andlong, narrow boats passing in a leisure majestic and infinite over the surface of the stolid canals; therivers had only themselves to support, for Staffordshire rivers have remained virgin of keels to thisday. One could imagine the messages concerning prices, sudden death, and horses, in their flightthrough the wires under the feet of birds. In the inns Utopians were shouting the universe into orderover beer, and in the halls and parks the dignity of England was being preserved in a fitting manner.The villages were full of women who did nothing but fight against dirt and hunger, and repair theeffects of friction on clothes. Thousands of labourers were in the fields, but the fields were so broadand numerous that this scattered multitude was totally lost therein. The cuckoo was much moreperceptible than man, dominating whole square miles with his resounding call. And on the airymoors heath-larks played in the ineffaceable mule-tracks that had served centuries before even theRomans thought of Watling Street. In short, the usual daily life of the county was proceeding withall its immense variety and importance; but though Constance and Sophia were in it they were not ofi.