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Stories, Dreams and Allegories. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 145

THE GREAT HEART OF ENGLAND

I HAVE had a dream; again and again it comes to me, till I fear the night for its return.

I dream that in the war I have lost all my clothes. That they have shot to pieces the old dress that I wore so long and love so. And I go to have a new dress made, and I take the only stuff I can find, and the skirt is of three colours, red, white, and blue, and the body is a strip of green.

And when I have got it on I go down the street, dancing, dancing, dancing. And the people stop me and they say, “Why have you got that dress on?” And I say, “Do you not see it is the four colours? They shot all my old dresses to pieces in the war, the old dresses that I loved so. Now I could get nothing else but this.” And they say, “Why are you dancing so?” And I say, “Because my heart, my heart, is broken.”

And all the time, as I dance, the tune that I dance to, and the words that I sing, are the words of an old song I heard long ago when I was a child: “They are hanging men and women now, For the wearing of the Green.”
page: 146

And then there is a sudden stop, there is a gleam of bayonets, and a sound of guns firing; and then all is silence.

“They are hanging men and women now, For the wearing of the Green.”

And I wake, and the cold drops are hanging on my forehead, and I cry aloud in my anguish, “Who will save me from this nightmare? Can nothing break it?”

And then I know that one thing only can break it: if I could hear the beat of a great heart, the heart that has loved justice and hated oppression, that has sought after righteousness rather than gold, “That strikes as soon for a trodden foe, As it does for a soul‐bound friend,” —the great heart of England.

And in the dark I lean forward listening, that across six thousand miles of sea I may perchance hear that heart beat.

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