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SAINT GTIDO ..
THE OPEN AIR.
St. GUIDO ran out at the garden gate into a sandy lane, and down the lane till he came to a grassy bank. He caught hold of the bunches of grass and so pulled himself up. There was a footpath on the top which went straight in between fir-trees, and as he ran along they stood on each side of him like green walls. They were very near together, and even at the top the space between them was so narrow that the sky seemed to come down, and the clouds to be sailing but just over them, as if they would catch and tear in the fir-trees. The path was so little used that it had grown green, and as he ran he knocked dead branches out of his way. Just as he was getting tired of running be reached the end of the path, and came out into a wheat-field. The wheat did not grow very closely, and the spaces were filled with azure corn-flowers. St. Guido thought he was safe away now, so he stopped to look.
Those thoughts and feelings which are not sharply defined but have a haze of distance and beauty about them are always the dearest. His name was not
really Guido, but those who loved him had called him so in order to try and express their hearts about him. For they thought if a great painter could be a little boy, then he would be something like this one. They were not very learned in the history of painters : they had heard of Raphael, but Raphael was too elevated, too much of the sky, and of Titian, but Titian was fond of feminine loveliness, and in the end somebody said Guido was a dreamy name, as if it belonged to one who was full of faith. Those golden curls shaking about his head as he ran and filling the air with radiance round his brow, looked like a Nimbus or circlet of glory. So they called him St. Guido, and a very, very wild saint he was.
St. Guido stopped in the cornfield, and looked all round. There were the fir-trees behind him—a thick wall of green-hedges on the right and the left, and the wheat sloped down towards an ash-copse in the hollow. No one was in the field, only the fir-trees, the green hedges, the yellow wheat, and the sun overhead. Guido kept quite still, because he expected that in a minute the magic would begin, and something would speak to him. His cheeks which had been flushed with running grew less hot, but I cannot tell you the exact colour they were, for his skin was so white and clear, it would not tan under the sun, yet being always out of doors it had taken the faintest tint of golden brown mixed with rosiness. His blue eyes which had been wide open, as they always were when full of mischief, became softer, and his long eyelashes drooped over them. But as the magic did not begin, Guido walked on slowly into the wheat, which rose nearly to his head, though it was not yet so tall as it would be before the reapers came. He did not break any of the stalks, or bend them down and step on them; he passed between them, and they yielded on either side. The wheat-ears were pale gold, having only just left off their green, and they surrounded him on all sides as if he were bathing.
A butterfly painted a velvety red with white spots came floating along the surface of the corn, and played round his cap, which was a little higher, and was so tinted by the sun that the butterfly was inclined to settle on it. Guido put up his hand to catch the butterfly, forgetting his secret in his desire to touch it. The butterfly was too quick-with a snap of his wings disdainfully mocking the idea of catching him, away he went. Guido nearly stepped on a humble-bee—buzz-zz !—the bee was so alarmed he actually crept up Guido's knickers to the knee, and even then knocked himself against a wheat-ear when he started to fly. Guido kept quite still while the humblebee was on his knee, knowing that he should not be stung if he did not move. He knew, too, that humblebees have stings though people often say they have not, and the reason people think they do not possess them is because humble-bees are so good-natured and never sting unless they are very much provoked.
Next he picked a corn buttercup ; the flowers were much smaller than the great buttercups which grew in the meadows, and these were not golden but coloured like brass. His foot caught in a creeper, and he nearly tumbled—it was a bine of bindweed which went twisting round and round two