generally too large for the remainder of the frame; that a graceful and proportionate figure of eight heads usually goes off into random facial curves without throwing a Nymphean tissue over a milkmaid, let it be said that here criticism checked itself as out of place, and looked at her proportions with a long consciousness of pleasure. From the contours of her figure in its upper part she must have had a beautiful neck and shoulders; but since her infancy nobody had ever seen them. Had she been put into a low dress she would have run and thrust her head into a bush. Yet she was not a shy girl by any means; it was merely her instinct to draw the line dividing the seen from the unseen higher than they do it in towns.
That the girl's thoughts hovered about her face and form as soon as she caught Oak's eyes conning the same page was natural, and almost certain. The self-consciousness shown would have been vanity if a little more pronounced, dignity if a little less. Rays of male vision seem to have a tickling effect upon virgin faces in rural districts; she brushed hers with her hand, as if Gabriel had been irritating its pink surface by actual touch, and the free air of her previous movements was reduced at the same time to a chastened phase of itself. Yet it was the man who blushed, the maid not at all.
`I found a hat,' said Oak.
`It is mine.' said she, and, from a sense of proportion, kept down to a small smile an inclination to laugh distinctly: `it flew away last night.'
`One o'clock this morning?'
`All - it was.' She was surprised. `How did you know?' she said.
`I was here.'
`You are Farmer Oak, are you not?'
`That or there abouts. I'm lately come to this place.'
`A large farm?' she inquired, casting her eyes round, and swinging back her hair, which was black in the shaded hollows of its mass; but it being now an hour past sunrise the rays touched its prominent curves with a colour of their own.
`No; not large. About a hundred.' (In speaking of farms the word `acres' is omitted by the natives, by analogy to such old expressions as `a stag of ten'.)
`I wanted my hat this morning,' she went on. `I had to ride to Tewnell Mill.'
`Yes, you had.'
`How do you know?'
`Where?' she inquired, a misgiving bringing every muscle of her lineaments and frame to a standstill.
`Here - going through the plantation, and all down the hill,' said Farmer Oak, with an aspect excessively knowing with regard to some matter in his mind, as he gazed at a remote point in the direction named, and then turned back to meet his colloquist's eyes.
A perception caused him to withdraw his own eyes from hers as suddenly as if he had been caught in a theft. Recollection of the strange antics she had indulged in when passing through the trees was succeeded in the girl by a nettled palpitation, and that by a hot face. It was a time to see a woman redden who was not given to reddening as a rule; not a point in the milkmaid but was of the deepest rose-colour. From the Maiden's Blush, through all varieties of the Provence down to the Crimson Tuscany the countenance of Oak's acquaintance quickly graduated; whereupon he, in considerateness, turned away his head.
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