MIDSUMMER DAY IN ENGLAND
A thousand years ago this England drew
Into her magic circle, Robin, Puck,
Friar Rush, the Jester—all the wizard crew
That foot it through the mazes for good luck.
Flyting and frisking through Sussex lanes
They watched the Roman legions come and go,
And the tall ships that once were kingly Spain's
Driven like drifting snow.
Midsummer Day in England! Faery bells
Blue as the skies— and wheat-fields poppy-sown,
Queen Mab's own roses—hawthorn-scented dells,
And marshes where the bittern broods alone,
Bees of this garden, over Salisbury Plain
The circling airships drone!
EDWITHA'S LITTLE BOWL
HOW EDWITHA FOUND ROMAN POTTERY IN THE FIELD OF A SUSSEX FARM
NDER a hawthorn bush, near a white road leading up a hill, in sight of a thatch-roofed
farmhouse, two littel girls were playing house. Their names were Edwitha and Audrey, and
they were cousins. Audrey's father lived in the farmhouse and kept sheep on the Downs,
and Edwitha had also lived there nearly all her life. Her father had been lost at sea,
and her mother had brought her back to the old home, and died not long after. The two
girls had grown up like sisters, for the farmer was not a man who did things by halves,
and when he adopted his brother's orphan child he made her his own.
The two children were almost exactly of a size, and within a year of the same age; and both
had the milky skin and rose-pink cheeks which make English children look so like flowers.
But Audrey's hair was yellow as ripe wheat, and Edwitha's was brown like an oak-leaf in
autumn; Audrey's eyes were gray, and Edwitha's were dark and dreamy. They wore
homespun linen gowns off the same web of watchet blue, and little clumsy leather shoes
like sandals made by the village shoemaker. This particular place was their favorite
play-  house. There were two hollows, like dimples in the hill, and the bush bent over one
like a roof, while the other had been roofed over by a neighbor-lad, Wilfrid. He had
stuck saplings into the ground, bent the tops over and woven branches in and out to
hold them. Wilfrid had seen something like it in a garden, where a walk was roofed in
this way and called a "pleached alley." It looked like a bird's nest built on the ground, but
it wa a very nice little bower.
At this particular hour they were making ready for a feast, setting out eatables on all their
best bits of crockery. Whatever was broken in the house was likely to come to them,
and besides this, they found a good many pieces of pottery of different kinds on the farm.
This had been, a thousand years before, a part of a Roman governor's country estate.
When the men were plowing they often turned up scraps of bronze, tiles or dishes
that had been all that time buried in the earth.
Edwitha was especially fond of the tiles; and she had collected almost enough of
them to make a little hearth. The one she intended for the middle had a picture in
colors of a little brown rabbit sitting on the grass, nibbling a carrot, with a blue
flower and a yellow one growing close by. It was almost whole—only one
corner was broken.
Edwitha's dishes were nearly all of the old Roman ware. The fragments were
deep red, and some had little black figures and decorations on them. No two fitted
together, and there no pices large enough for her to make out what the dish had
been like. She used to wonder what sort of people had used those dishes, and
whether they lived very differently from the Sussex people after them. It
 seemed as if they must have. No dishes made nowadays had any such appearance.
Audrey did not care about such matters. She preferred a bowl and jug she had
which came from the pottery, and were whole and would hold milk and honey.
When the two girls ate their dinner in their bower, as they sometimes did, they
used little wooden bowls with horn spoons.
Wilfrid was the only person Edwitha knew, besides herself, who was at all
interested in the unearthed pottery. He had brought her some of the best pieces
she had, and had asked the priest at the village whether he knew who had made
such things. Father Cuthbert knew that there had been Romans in England, and he
told Wilfrid some Roman history, but there was nothing in it about the way in
which the Romans really lived.
The very road that ran past the bower had been made by the Romans. It gave its
name to the farm—Borstall Farm. It was a track cut deep into the chalk of the
hill, not more than ten feet wide, leading to the camp which had once been on the top
of the Down. Nothing was there now but the sheep and the gorse and the short,
sweet grass of the Downs. On a level terrace-like break in the hillside, overlooking
the valley, a Roman villa had stood, a great house with white porticoes, marble columns,
tiled floors and painted walls. Mosaic pictures of the gods had been part of its
decorations, and if any one had known it, those buried gods were under the hillside
quite uninjured—so firm and strong was the Roman cement, and so thorough
the work. Hundreds of guests and relatives and servants had come and gone in
the stately palace of the provincial Governor; the farm lands around it had been
 tilled by hundreds of peasants in its two hundred years of splendor. No wonder there
were so many fragments! A great many dishes can be broken in two centuries.
Pincher, the old sheep-dog, had been invited to the feast in the bower, but when it
was ready he was busy elsewhere. Edwitha went looking for him, and after she had
called several times she heard his answering "Wuff! Wuff!" and caught sight of him
down among the brambles at the boundary-line of the next farmstead. He came
leaping toward her, and as she looked at the place where he had been, she saw that
a piece of the bank had slid into a rabbit-burrow, and something red was sticking
out of the earth. It was a little red bowl.
No such bowls are made in these days. They are never seen except on a shelf
in some museum. Wise men have called them "Samian ware", because they have
been found on the island of Samos, but as some of this ware has been found
wherever the Romans went in Gaul or Britain, it would seem that they must have
had some secret process in their potteries and made it out of ordinary clay.
The bowl was deep red, and beautifully smooth. Around it was a band of little
dancing figures in jet black, so lifelike that it almost seemed as if such figures
might come out of the copse and dance away down the hill. Edwitha took some
leaves and rubbed off the clay that stuck to the bowl, and the cleaner she made it
the prettier it was. Very carefully she carried it back to the bower to show Audrey.
Half way there, a dreadful thought came to her. What if Audrey should want the
bowl? It was quite perfect—the only whole one they had found—and
Audrey always liked things that were whole, not broken or nicked, better than any
 sort of imperfect ones. Certainly they could not both have it.
Edwitha came to a stop, and stood quite still, thinking about it. She knew
a place, under the roots of an old tree, where she could keep the bowl, and go
and look at it when she was alone, and no one would know that she had it. If
Audrey wanted the bowl, and took it, she might let it get broken, and then she
would be willing that Edwitha should have it; but that would be worse than not
having it at all. Edwitha felt as if she could not bear to have anything happen to the
pretty thing. It already seemed like something alive—like a strange, mute person
whom nobody understood but herself. She was the only person who really wanted it,
and she knew that it wanted her.
But under these thoughts which pushed unbidden into Edwithas' mind was her own feeling
that it was a meanness even to think them. She and Audrey had all their lives done things
together, and Audrey always shared. She always played fair.
Edwitha took the bowl in both hands and walked straight and very fast up to the bower.
"Audrey," she said, holding out the bowl, "see what I found."
Audrey looked at it.
"That's like your other dishes, isn't it?" she commented. "Only it is whole. It is just
the thing for the dewberries. They will be prettier than in the basket."
Edwitha set the bowl in the middle of the table and poured the shining dark fruit
into it. It did look pretty, and it had a mat of green oak-leaves under it which made
it prettier still. Audrey began sticking white blossoms round the edge to set off the
red and green.
 "I'm glad you found it," she added placidly; "you haven't one dish that is quite whole,
and I have a blue one, and a white one, and a jug."
Edwitha touched the bowl caressingly with the tips of her fingers. "I will try
to find another for you," she said.
"If you find any more," answered Audrey, pushing Pincher away from the dish
of cold meat, "you can have them. I'd rather have our dishes in sets, I think."
Edwitha was poking about in the bank where she had found the bowl, late that
afternoon, when Wilfrid came up the bank. There seemed to be no more dishes
"What have you found?" asked Wilfrid. He held it up in the sunlight, and drew a
quick breath of delight. "How beautiful it is!" he exclaimed in a low voice.
'HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS!' HE EXCLAIMED.
Edwitha was silent. She was filled with great happiness because she had the bowl.
"I wonder how it came to be here," mused Wilfrid, and fell to digging and prodding
"There isn't another in the hole," said Edwitha. "I've been here a long time."
"This is the only bit I ever saw that was found just here. But see here, Edwitha,
this is clay. It is exactly the clay they use at the pottery down by the ford, but
finer—I think. I tell you—I believe there was a pottery here once."
He and Edwitha took the bowl and a few lumps of the clay next morning, to the
Master Potter beyond the village. Wilfrid had served his apprenticeship at this
pottery and was now a journeyman. The clay proved to be finer and more workable
than that near the pottery, and the deposit was close to the high road, so that donkeys
and pack-horses could come up
 easily to be loade with their earthen pots. It was even possible, so the Master Potter said,
that it would make a better grade of ware than they had been able to make hitherto. Finally,
and most important from the point of view of Wilfrid and Edwitha, it was on Wilfrid's own
farm, he had his mother to support, and this discovery might make it possible for him to have
his own pottery and be a Master Potter.
Edwitha often wished that the bowl could speak, and tell her how it was made, and who drew
the little dancing figures. In course of time Wilfrid tried some experiments with pottery,
ornamenting it with figures in white clay on the colored ground, and searching continualy for new
and better methods of glazing, baking, and modeling his wares. At last, when the years of his
apprenticeship had all been served, and he knew everything that was taught in the old Sussex
pottery by the ford, he came one spring twilight to the farmhouse and found Edwitha in the garden.
"It is no use," he said, half-laughing. "I shall never be content to settle down here until I have seen
what they are doing in other lands. If there is anywhere a man who can teach things like that bowl
of yours, I must learn what he can teach me. It may be that the secret has been lost—if it has,
I will come back and work here again. A man was never meant to do less than his best, Edwitha."
"I know," said Edwitha. "Those figures make me feel so too. They always did. I don't want to live
anywhere bu here—and now Audrey has gone away, uncle and aunt could never do without
me —but I wish we could make beautiful things in England."
 "Some of the clever ones are in England," Wilfrid answered. "They are doing good work in glass, I know,
and in carven stone, and some other things, but that is mostly for the rich abbeys. I shall never be aught
but a potter—but I will be as good a one as I can."
Therefore Wilfrid took scrip and staff and went on pilgrimage to France, and there he saw things which made
him sure that men had not lost the love of beauty out of the world. But he could hear of no master potters
who made anything like the deep red Roman ware. After a year of wandering he came back, full of new plans,
and with many tales to tell; but he told Edwitha that in all his travels he had seen nothing which was better looking
at than her little Roman bowl.
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