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before the winter. On reaching your inn, therefore, you order the horses to be put to, and, after a most delightful summer afternoon's drive, you find yourself eventually taking your ease at another comfortable and old-fashioned hostelry facing the wide marketplace of the little country town wherein it is situated. During the evening you find your way to the secluded bowling-green in the rear of your inn; here you smoke a contemplative pipe, feeling much at peace with all the world, and watch with more or less interest a well-contested game at bowls that is being played there. This ended, you seek the cosy bar, and have a chat with the landlord over another and final pipe, and a hot steaming glass of whisky and water (ordered for the good of the house'). Thus end your day's wanderings.
Now, after this over-long digression, it is high time to return to ourselves. The first village that we came to after leaving Braintree was Little Leigha small and not particularly interesting hamlet. Here on a tiny cottage we observed the inscription, Great Leigh Supply Stores,' for there are two villages near together, Great Leigh and Little Leigh, the former being a mile or so away from the highway. We were much amused at this remote village shop calling itself by the grand title of Stores. Why this departure from the good old English term of shop? As reasonably call a retired tradesman's suburban semi-detached villa a stately mansion, or a limited London square a park-perhaps more so!
The small church of Little Leigh is interesting on account of a fourteenth-century recumbent effigy
of a priest it possesses; this is of wood and of lifesize, and is said to be the only wooden effigy of a priest known.
We noticed on our map Leigh Priory,' marked as being at a short distance from the village. Of the grand mansion that was built on the site of the ancient priory, now only a red-brick Tudor gateway remains a ruinous but picturesque structure, with facings of stone, having embattled corner turrets and some fine ornamental chimneys. It is surprising how many such ancient gateways that formerly belonged to stately mansions still exist in this eastern portion of England; the mansions themselves having disappeared, or been converted into simple farmsteads and delightfully romantic nineteenth-century farmhouses they make, these olden homes of bygone lord and erst-proud knight.
Scenic Surprises-An Inviting Road-A Ruined Windmill-Rooks— Little Waltham-Broomfield-An Old Friend-Rain versus Dust -Writtle-Picturesque Essex-Curious Mist Effect-Nearly an Accident-Chipping Ongar-An Old Saxon Wooden Church—A Pleasant Footpath-Names of Places-An Edifying Conversation -Clerk-hunting.
AFTER leaving the hamlet of Leigh we drove through a very pretty country. Our road that day abounded in scenic surprises; we passed, as we journeyed on, many an old time-toned home, each one seeming, were it possible, more picturesque than the last. The landscape bore a mellow, humanised aspect; the works of man were manifest on every hand; from the tall spire of the distant church, to the furrowed field by the side of the way, these human associations gave an added interest to the evervarying prospect. A livable, lovable land it seemed to us a land of ancient peace that had never been disturbed by the railway whistle, that had not had its century-gathered beauty spoilt by the triumphs of commercial enterprise, that knew nothing of the fevered hurry and rush of the outer money-making world-a bit of real old England, looking much now even as it did in those long-vanished days when our easy-going, port-wine-loving ancestors passed through it by coach. Each bend in the road re
A PLEASANT ROAD.
vealed some new beauty, always delightfully surprising us by presenting what we least expected. A sort of vague sensation took possession of us, as though we were travellers exploring some strange far-off land; for where all before you is unknown, all things appear possible. An inviting road it was, that seemed to beckon us on and on with the promise of some fresh treat at every turn; it never wholly belied its promise, yet never quite satisfied our anticipations; it ever kept us in a delicious state of expectancy. How bewitchingly beautiful the sweet landscape looked that day, bathed in the soft golden light of the summer sunshine! If there is a fairer. country than England, it has yet to be discovered.
At one spot we came upon a forlorn-looking hostel that had evidently seen better days. Probably, when it was more prosperous, it was less picturesque. From a large bay window in this, a great old lamp projected in a curious manner, doubtless serving of old to show benighted travellers the whereabouts of the inn, and possibly as well to throw a light upon the 'coach change.'
Then, as we drove along in a delicious day-dream, we came upon an old windmill, long since past all work, looking sadly deserted and desolate on its lonely height, its two remaining great black sails bent and broken, standing gauntly out like two giant's arms against the bright silvery sky. There was something almost pathetic about that battered and useless windmill, its days of labour over, left thus to slow but sure decay. There it stood, solitary and forsaken, still bravely facing all the
storms and winds of heaven, the hands who raised it dead and gone, and perhaps their very names forgotten.
Amongst the many old-world structures that we passed, one especially delighted us-an exceedingly picturesque farmstead with a little colony of irregular roofed timber and brick outbuildings. Amongst these we noticed some quaint oast-houses that are such a characteristic and familiar feature in hop-growing Kent, but uncommon in this part of England. A large duck-pond in the farmyard doubled the ancient building on its stilly surface. Around were great wide-spreading elms, amongst which the rooks were holding a noisy argument; but, not understanding their language, we could not make out what it was all about; manifestly, however, some important matter was under discussion. What a charm a rookery gives to a country home! Inharmonious and noisy though the clamouring of rooks may be when analysed, I have never yet come across a single person who objects to it, or indeed to whom it fails to give pleasure. Do rooks really 'caw, caw, caw,' as is generally accepted? After listening long and attentively to their utterances, it seems to me that the sounds they give forth are more nearly rendered by 'queer, queer, qw-oar,' the last utterance being the most prolonged and distinct.
The next village on our road was Little Waltham, a charming hamlet situated in a wooded valley, and by the side of a small fishful-looking river just large enough to merit that title; this stream we crossed by an ancient bridge. We