Howard was almost as fond of this hall as he was of his own shop. The Brownies used it on Tuesdays, and the Women’s Institute on Wednesdays. It had hosted jumble sales and Jubilee celebrations, wedding receptions and wakes, and it smelled of all of these things: of stale clothes and coffee urns, and the ghosts of home-baked cakes and meat salads; of dust and human bodies; but primarily of aged wood and stone.

The yard was a little centre of regeneration. Here, with keen edges and smooth curves, were forms in the exact likeness of those he had seen abraded and time-eaten on the walls. These were the ideas in modern prose which the lichened colleges presented in old poetry. Even some of those antiques might have been called prose when they were new. They had done nothing but wait, and had become poetical. How easy to the smallest building; how impossible to most men.