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Robert Elsmere   By: (1851-1920)

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ROBERT ELSMERE

By Mrs. Humphrey Ward

Author of "Miss Bretherton"

BOSTON: DeWOLFE, FISKE & CO., 365 Washington Street

Dedicated to the memory Of MY TWO FRIENDS

SEPARATED, IN MY THOUGHT OF THEM, BY MUCH DIVERSITY OF CIRCUMSTANCE AND OPINION; LINKED, IN MY FAITH ABOUT THEM, TO EACH OTHER, AND TO ALL THE SNINING ONES OF THE PAST, BY THE LOVE OF GOD AND THE SERVICE OF MAN:

THOMAS HILL GREEN

(LAYE PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD)

Died March 26, 1882

AND

LAURA OCTAVIA MARY LYTTELTON

Died Easter Eve, 1886

[Transcriber's note: In one section, marked by , two Greek letters, delta and epsilon, are transcribed as de. The allusion is to a poem by Browning 'A Grammarian's Funeral']

[Italics are indicated by underscores.]

BOOK I. WESTMORELAND.

CHAPTER I.

It was a brilliant afternoon toward the end of May. The spring had been unusually cold and late, and it was evident from the general aspect of the lonely Westmoreland valley of Long Whindale that warmth and sunshine had only just penetrated to its bare, green recesses, where the few scattered trees were fast rushing into their full summer dress, while at their feet, and along the bank of the stream, the flowers of March and April still lingered, as though they found it impossible to believe that their rough brother, the east wind, had at last deserted them. The narrow road, which was the only link between the farm houses sheltered by the crags at the head of the valley, and those far away regions of town and civilization suggested by the smoke wreaths of Whinborough on the southern horizon, was lined with masses of the white heckberry or bird cherry, and ran, an arrowy line of white through the greenness of the sloping pastures. The sides of some of the little books running down into the main river and, many of the plantations round the farms were gay with the same tree, so that the farm houses, gray roofed and gray walled, standing in the hollows of the fells, seemed here and there to have been robbed of all their natural austerity of aspect, and to be masquerading in a dainty garb of white and green imposed upon them by the caprice of the spring.

During the greater part of its course the valley of Long Whindale is tame and featureless. The hills at the lower part are low and rounded, and the sheep and cattle pasture over slopes unbroken either by wood or rock. The fields are bare and close shaven by the flocks which feed on them; the walls run either perpendicularly in many places up the fells or horizontally along them, so that, save for the wooded course of the tumbling river and the bush grown hedges of the road, the whole valley looks like a green map divided by regular lines of grayish black. But as the walker penetrates further, beyond a certain bend which the stream makes half way from the head of the dale, the hills grow steeper, the breadth between them contracts, the enclosure lines are broken and deflected by rocks and patches of plantation, and the few farms stand more boldly and conspicuously forward, each on its spur of land, looking up to or away from the great masses of frowning crag which close in the head of the valley, and which from the moment they come into sight give it dignity and a wild beauty.

On one of these solitary houses, the afternoon sun, about to descend before very long behind the hills dividing Long Whindale from Shanmoor, was still lingering on this May afternoon we are describing, bringing out the whitewashed porch and the broad bands of white edging the windows, into relief against the gray stone of the main fabric, the gray roof overhanging it, and the group of sycamores and Scotch firs which protected it from the cold east and north... Continue reading book >>




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