"How would old Sally Glue do for a May Queen?" asked one of the sons in the slight pause that followed.
"Or Annie Glassbound?" said the other, with the huge virile guffaw of a young man whose voice has only recently broken.
"Sally Glue is eighty-five," explained the vicar, "and Annie Glassbound is, well—a young lady of extremely generous proportions. And not quite right, you know. Not quite right—here." He tapped his brow.
"Generous proportions!" said the eldest son, and the guffaws were renewed.
"You see," said the vicar, "all the brisker girls go into service in or near London. The life of excitement attracts them. And no doubt the higher wages have something to do with it. And the liberty to wear finery. And generally—freedom from restraint. So that there might be a little difficulty perhaps to find a May Queen here just at present who was really young and, er—pretty. . . . Of course I couldn't think of any of my girls—or anything of that sort."
"We got to attract 'em back," said my uncle. "That's what I feel about it. We got to Buck-Up the country. The English country is a going concern still; just as the Established Church—if you'll excuse me saying it, is a going concern. Just as Oxford is—or Cambridge. Or any of those old, fine old things. Only it wants fresh capital, fresh idees, and fresh methods. Light railways, f'rinstance—scientific use of drainage. Wire fencing—machinery—all that."
The vicar's face for one moment betrayed dismay. Perhaps he was thinking of his country walks amidst the hawthorns and honeysuckle.
"There's great things," said my uncle, "to be done