Toilers of Babylon by B L Farjeon Page 1 of 407

TOILERS OF BABYLON.

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CHAPTER I.

The horse was very old, the caravan very dilapidated. As it was dragged slowly along the country roads it shook and creaked and wheezed, protesting, as it were, that it had performed its duty in life and that its long labors justly entitled it to permanent repose.

The horse, with its burden behind it, had long ago given over complaining, and, although its plight was no less woful, was demonstrative only through physical compulsion. With drooping head, lustreless eyes, and laboring breath, it plodded on, with many a longing look at tempting morsels out of its reach.


At the present moment it was at rest, released from the shafts, and partaking of a spare meal, humanly provided, eking it out with sweet tid-bits, not too abundant, munched from the fragrant earth.

Sitting on the ground at the back of the caravan was a man with a book in his hand, which sometimes he read with the air of one who was in the company of an old and beloved friend; at other times he gazed around with pensive delight upon the beauties of nature, which in no part of the world find more exquisite representation than in the county of Surrey. In the rear of the caravan were lovely stretches of woodland, through vistas of which visions of cathedral aisles could be seen by the poetical eye.

Across the narrow road was a scene which brought to the man's mind some lines in the book he held. Turning over its pages, he called out, in a voice not strong, but clear:

"William Browne might have camped on this very spot, Nansie, and drawn its picture. The resemblance is wonderful." Then he read from the book:



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