Read PROEM of You Never Know Your Luck‚ Complete, free online book, by Gilbert Parker, on ReadCentral.com.

Have you ever seen it in reaping-time?  A sea of gold it is, with gentle billows telling of sleep and not of storm, which, like regiments afoot, salute the reaper and say, “All is fulfilled in the light of the sun and the way of the earth; let the sharp knife fall.”  The countless million heads are heavy with fruition, and sun glorifies and breeze cradles them to the hour of harvest.  The air-like the tingle of water from a mountain-spring in the throat of the worn wayfarer, bringing a sense of the dust of the world flushed away.

Arcady?  Look closely.  Like islands in the shining yellow sea, are houses ­sometimes in a clump of trees, sometimes only like bare-backed domesticity or naked industry in the workfield.  Also rising here and there in the expanse, clouds that wind skyward, spreading out in a powdery mist.  They look like the rolling smoke of incense, of sacrifice.  Sacrifice it is.  The vast steam-threshers are mightily devouring what their servants, the monster steam-reapers, have gleaned for them.  Soon, when September comes, all that waving sea will be still.  What was gold will still be a rusted gold, but near to the earth-the stubble of the corn now lying in vast garners by the railway lines, awaiting transport east and west and south and across the seas.

Not Arcady this, but a land of industry in the grip of industrialists, whose determination to achieve riches is, in spite of themselves, chastened by the magnitude and orderly process of nature’s travail which is not pain.  Here Nature hides her internal striving under a smother of white for many months in every year, when what is now gold in the sun will be a soft ­sometimes, too, a hard-shining coverlet like impacted wool.  Then, instead of the majestic clouds of incense from the threshers, will rise blue spiral wreaths of smoke from the lonely home.  There the farmer rests till spring, comforting himself in the thought that while he waits, far under the snow the wheat is slowly expanding; and as in April, the white frost flies out of the soil into the sun, it will push upward and outward, green and vigorous, greeting his eye with the “What cheer, partner!” of a mate in the scheme of nature.

Not Arcady; and yet many of the joys of Arcady are here ­bright, singing birds, wide adventurous rivers, innumerable streams, the squirrel in the wood and the bracken, the wildcat stealing through the undergrowth, the lizard glittering by the stone, the fish leaping in the stream, the plaint of the whippoorwill, the call of the bluebird, the golden flash of the oriole, the honk of the wild geese overhead, the whirr of the mallard from the sedge.  And, more than all, a human voice declaring by its joy in song that not only God looks upon the world and finds it very good.