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CHAPTER 53 (continued)
'It is but one room you see. There is another up above, but the stair has got harder to climb o' late years, and I never use it. I'm thinking of taking to it again, next summer, though.'
The child wondered how a grey-headed man like him--one of his trade too--could talk of time so easily. He saw her eyes wandering to the tools that hung upon the wall, and smiled.
'I warrant now,' he said, 'that you think all those are used in making graves.'
'Indeed, I wondered that you wanted so many.'
'And well you might. I am a gardener. I dig the ground, and plant things that are to live and grow. My works don't all moulder away, and rot in the earth. You see that spade in the centre?'
'The very old one--so notched and worn? Yes.'
'That's the sexton's spade, and it's a well-used one, as you see. We're healthy people here, but it has done a power of work. If it could speak now, that spade, it would tell you of many an unexpected job that it and I have done together; but I forget 'em, for my memory's a poor one. --That's nothing new,' he added hastily. 'It always was.'
'There are flowers and shrubs to speak to your other work,' said the child.
'Oh yes. And tall trees. But they are not so separate from the sexton's labours as you think.'
'Not in my mind, and recollection--such as it is,' said the old man. 'Indeed they often help it. For say that I planted such a tree for such a man. There it stands, to remind me that he died. When I look at its broad shadow, and remember what it was in his time, it helps me to the age of my other work, and I can tell you pretty nearly when I made his grave.'
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