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The Roman Road

By Kenneth Grahame

ALL the roads of our neighbourhood were cheerful and friendly, having each of them pleasant qualities of its own; but this one seemed different from the others in its masterful suggestion of a serious purpose, speeding you along with a strange up-lifting of the heart. The others tempted chiefly with their treasures of hedge and ditch; the rapt surprise of the first lords-and-ladies, the rustle of a field-mouse, splash of a frog; while cool noses of brother-beasts were pushed at you through gate or gap. A loiterer you had need to be, did you choose one of them; so many were the tiny hands thrust out to detain you, from this side and that. But this other was of a sterner sort, and even in its shedding off of bank and hedgerow as it marched straight and full for the open downs, it seemed to declare its contempt for adventitious trappings to catch the shallow-pated. When the sense of injustice or disappointment was heavy on me, and things were very black within, as on this particular day, the road of character was my choice for that solitary ramble when I turned my back for an afternoon on a world that had unaccountably declared itself against me.

"The Knight's Road" we children had named it, from a sort of feeling that, if from any quarter at all, it would be down this Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/244 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/245 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/246 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/247 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/248 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/249 Page:The Yellow Book - 02.djvu/250 "Oh, but you'll stay in my house, won't you?" I cried; "I wouldn't ask everybody; but I'll ask you."

He affected to consider a moment; then "Right!" he said: "I believe you mean it, and I will come and stay with you. I won't go to anybody else, if they ask me ever so much. And I'll stay quite a long time, too, and I won't be any trouble."

Upon this compact we parted, and I went down-heartedly from the man who understood me, back to the house where I never could do anything right. How was it that everything seemed natural and sensible to him, which these uncles, vicars, and other grown-up men took for the merest tomfoolery? Well, he would explain this, and many another thing, when we met again. The Knight's Road! How it always brought consolation! Was he possibly one of those vanished knights I had been looking for so long? Perhaps he would be in armour next time—why not? He would look well in armour, I thought. And I would take care to get there first, and see the sunlight flash and play on his helmet and shield, as he rode up the High Street of the Golden City.

Meantime, there only remained the finding it,—an easy matter.