(notes by John Radcliffe
and John McGivering)
There was not so much a roar as the purposeful drive of a tide across a jagged reef, which put down every other sound for twenty minutes. A wide sheet of water hurried up to the little terrace on which the house stood, pushed round either corner, rose again and stretched, as it were, yawning beneath the moonlight, joined other sheets waiting for them in unsuspected hollows, and lay out all in one. A puff of wind followed...And in "Friendly Brook" in the same collection he wrote:
‘The brook she’d crep’ up an’ up on us, an’ she kep’ creepin’ upon us till we was workin’ knee-deep in the shallers, cuttin’ an’ pookin’ an’ pullin’ what we could get to o’ the rubbish. There was a middlin’ lot comin’ down-stream, too—cattle-bars an’ hop-poles and odds-ends bats, all poltin’ down together; but they rooshed round the elber good shape by the time we’d backed out they drowned trees. Come four o’clock we reckoned we’d done a proper day’s work, an’ she’d take no harm if we left her. We couldn’t puddle about there in the dark an’ wet to no more advantage. Jim he was pourin’ the water out of his boots—no, I was doin’ that. Jim was kneelin’ to unlace his’n. “Damn it all, Jesse,” he ses, standin’ up; “the flood must be over my doorsteps at home, for here comes my old white-top bee-skep!”’Kipling had a mill at Bateman's, and he was very conscious of how it was the waters coming down from the hills that drove it. as he wrote in "Below the Mill Dam" (1902):
There was a solid crash of released waters leaping upon the Wheel more furiously than ever, a grinding of cogs, a hum like the hum of a hornet, and then the unvisited darkness of the old mill was scattered by intolerable white light. It threw up every cobweb, every burl and knot in the beams and the floor; till the shadows behind the flakes of rough plaster on the wall lay clearcut as shadows of mountains on the photographed moon.Kipling's sense that the quiet ancient valleys of Sussex were always subject to the rushing waters from the Downs above, that one can never be secure and complacent about comfort and safety, and civilised order, was strong.
‘See! See! See!’ hissed the Waters in full flood. ‘Yes, see for yourselves.'
A shrill wail ran along the line, growing to a yell, half fear and half wonder: the face of the river whitened from bank to hank between the stone facings, and the far-away spurs went out in spouts of foam. Mother Gunga had come bank-high in haste, and a wall of chocolate-coloured water was her messenger. There was a shriek above the roar of the water, the complaint of the spans coming down on their blocks as the cribs were whirled out from under their bellies. The stone-boats groaned and ground each other in the eddy that swung round the abutment, and their clumsy masts rose higher and higher against the dim sky-line.The bridge survives. But one is left with the thought that it might have been swept away, that one cannot assume that the works of man will stand against the forces of nature, and that in the broad sweep of time what men do may not prevail. Says Ganesh the Elephant 'Let the dirt dig in the dirt ere it return to the dirt.'
When that I was and a little tiny boy,sere dry.
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
"Take a bat" (which we call a stick in Sussex) "and kill a rat if you die before sunrise. 'Twill save your people".[Verse 2]