“But there all apart,
On his little seat
A little figure is set awry.”
C. C. Fraser Tytler
Gratian shouldered his satchel and set off to school. He had some new thoughts in his head this morning, but still he was not too busy with them to forget to look about him. It was evident that old Jonas had been right; the storm spirits had been about in the night. The fallen autumn leaves which had been lying in heaps the day before were scattered everywhere, the little pools of water left by yesterday’s rain had almost disappeared, overhead the clouds were gradually settling down in quiet masses as if tired and sleepy with the rushing about of the night before.
It was always fresh up at Four Winds Farm, but to-day there was a particularly brisk and inspiriting feeling in the air; and as Gratian ran down the bit of steep hill between the gate and the road which he partially followed to school, he laughed to himself as a little wind came kissing him on the cheek.
“Good morning, wind,” he said aloud. “Which of them are you, I wonder?” And some old verses he had often heard his mother say came into his head—
“North winds send hail,
South winds bring rain,
East winds we bewail,
West winds, blow amain.”
“I think you must be west wind, but you’re not blowing amain this morning. Never mind; you can when you like, I know. You can work with a will. There now—how funny—I’m saying it myself; I wonder if that’s what the voices meant I should do—work with a will, work with a will,” and Gratian sang the words over.
As I said, his road to school was great part of the way nothing but a sheep-track. It was not that there did not exist a proper road, but this proper road, naturally enough, went winding about a good deal, for it was meant for carts and horses as well as or more than for little boys, and no carts or horses could ever have got along it had the road run in a direct line from the Farm to the village. For the village lay low and the Farm very high. Gratian followed the road for the first half-mile or so, that is to say as long as he could have gained nothing by quitting it, but then came a corner at which he left it to meander gradually down the high ground, while he scrambled over a low wall of loose stones and found himself on what he always considered his own particular path.
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