HE LAY STARING at the withy binders of his thatch shelter; the grass was infinitely green; his view embraced four counties; the roof was supported by six small oak sapling-trunks, roughly trimmed and brushed from above by apple boughs. French crab-apple! The hut had no sides.
The Italian proverb says: He who allows the boughs of trees to spread above his roof invites the doctor daily. Words to that effect! He would have grinned, but that might have been seen.
For a man who never moved, his face was singularly walnutcoloured; his head, indenting the skim-milk white of the pillows should have been a gipsy's, the dark, silvered hair cut extremely close, the whole face very carefully shaven and completely immobile. The eyes moved, however, with unusual vivacity, all the life of the man being concentrated in them and their lids.
Down the path that had been cut in swathes from the knee-high grass and led from the stable to the hut, a heavy elderly peasant rolled in his gait. His over-long, hairy arms swung as if he needed an axe or a log or a full sack to make him a complete man. He was broad-beamed, in cord breeches very tight in the buttocks: he wore black leggings, an unbuttoned blue waistcoat, a striped flannel shirt, open at the perspiring neck and a square, high hat of black felt.
"Want to be shifted?"
The man in the bed closed his eyelids slowly.
"'Ave a droper cider?"
The other again similarly closed his eyes. The standing man sup-