Hiving the Bees
The Weatherbury bees were late in their swarming this year. It was in the latter part of June, and the day after the interview with Troy in the hayfield, that Bathsheba was standing in her garden, watching a swarm in the air and guessing their probable settling place. Not only were they late this year, but unruly. Sometimes throughout a whole season all the swarms would alight on the lowest attainable bough - such as part of a currant-bush or espalier apple-tree; next year they would, with just the same unanimity, make straight off to the uppermost member of some tall, gaunt costard, or quarrenden, and there defy all invaders who did not come armed with ladders and staves to take them.
This was the case at present. Bathsheba's eyes, shaded by one hand, were following the ascending multitude against the unexplorable stretch of blue till they ultimately halted by one of the unwieldy trees spoken of. A process somewhat analogous to that of alleged formations of the universe, time and times ago, was observable. The bustling swarm had swept the sky in a scattered and uniform haze, which now thickened to a nebulous centre: this glided on to a bough and grew still denser, till it formed a solid black spot upon the light.
The men and women being all busily engaged in saving the hay - even Liddy had left the house for the purpose of lending a hand - Bathsheba resolved to hive the bees herself, if possible. She had dressed the hive with herbs and honey, fetched a ladder, brush, and crook, made herself impregnable with armour of leather gloves, straw hat, and large gauze veil - once green but now faded to snuff colour - and ascended a dozen rungs of the ladder. At once she heard, not ten yards off a voice that was beginning to have a strange power in agitating her.
`Miss Everdene, let me assist you; you should not attempt such a thing alone.'
Troy was just opening the garden gate.
Bathsheba flung down the brush, crook, and empty hive, pulled the skirt of her dress tightly round her ankles in a tremendous flurry, and as well as she could slid down the ladder. By the time she reached the bottom Troy was there also, and he stooped to pick up the hive.
`How fortunate I am to have dropped in at this moment!' exclaimed the sergeant.
She found her voice in a minute. `What! and will you shake them in for me?' she asked, in what, for a defiant girl, was a faltering way; though, for a timid girl, it would have seemed a brave way enough.
`Will I!' said Troy. `Why of course I will. How blooming you are to-day!' Troy flung down his cane and put his foot on the ladder to ascend.
`But you must have on the veil and gloves, or you'll be stung fearfully!'
`Ah, yes. I must put on the veil and gloves. Will you kindly show me how to fix them properly?'
`And you must have the broad-brimmed hat, too; for your cap has no brim to keep the veil off, and they'd reach your face.'
`The broad-brimmed hat, too, by all means.'
So a whimsical fate ordered that her hat should be taken off - veil and all attached - and placed upon his head, Troy tossing his own into a gooseberry bush. Then the veil had to be tied at its lower edge round his collar and the gloves put on him.
He looked such an extraordinary object in this guise that, flurried as she was, she could not avoid laughing outright. It was the removal of yet another stake from the palisade of cold manners which had kept him off.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|