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The Roots of the Mountains; Wherein Is Told Somewhat of the Lives of the Men of Burgdale   By: (1834-1896)

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THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS WHEREIN IS TOLD SOMEWHAT OF THE LIVES OF THE MEN OF BURGDALE THEIR FRIENDS THEIR NEIGHBOURS THEIR FOEMEN AND THEIR FELLOWS IN ARMS BY WILLIAM MORRIS

Whiles carried o'er the iron road, We hurry by some fair abode; The garden bright amidst the hay, The yellow wain upon the way, The dining men, the wind that sweeps Light locks from off the sun sweet heaps The gable grey, the hoary roof, Here now and now so far aloof. How sorely then we long to stay And midst its sweetness wear the day, And 'neath its changing shadows sit, And feel ourselves a part of it. Such rest, such stay, I strove to win With these same leaves that lie herein.

CHAPTER I. OF BURGSTEAD AND ITS FOLK AND ITS NEIGHBOURS

Once upon a time amidst the mountains and hills and falling streams of a fair land there was a town or thorp in a certain valley. This was well nigh encompassed by a wall of sheer cliffs; toward the East and the great mountains they drew together till they went near to meet, and left but a narrow path on either side of a stony stream that came rattling down into the Dale: toward the river at that end the hills lowered somewhat, though they still ended in sheer rocks; but up from it, and more especially on the north side, they swelled into great shoulders of land, then dipped a little, and rose again into the sides of huge fells clad with pine woods, and cleft here and there by deep ghylls: thence again they rose higher and steeper, and ever higher till they drew dark and naked out of the woods to meet the snow fields and ice rivers of the high mountains. But that was far away from the pass by the little river into the valley; and the said river was no drain from the snow fields white and thick with the grinding of the ice, but clear and bright were its waters that came from wells amidst the bare rocky heaths.

The upper end of the valley, where it first began to open out from the pass, was rugged and broken by rocks and ridges of water borne stones, but presently it smoothed itself into mere grassy swellings and knolls, and at last into a fair and fertile plain swelling up into a green wave, as it were, against the rock wall which encompassed it on all sides save where the river came gushing out of the strait pass at the east end, and where at the west end it poured itself out of the Dale toward the lowlands and the plain of the great river.

Now the valley was some ten miles of our measure from that place of the rocks and the stone ridges, to where the faces of the hills drew somewhat anigh to the river again at the west, and then fell aback along the edge of the great plain; like as when ye fare a sailing past two nesses of a river mouth, and the main sea lieth open before you.

Besides the river afore mentioned, which men called the Weltering Water, there were other waters in the Dale. Near the eastern pass, entangled in the rocky ground was a deep tarn full of cold springs and about two acres in measure, and therefrom ran a stream which fell into the Weltering Water amidst the grassy knolls. Black seemed the waters of that tarn which on one side washed the rocks wall of the Dale; ugly and aweful it seemed to men, and none knew what lay beneath its waters save black mis shapen trouts that few cared to bring to net or angle: and it was called the Death Tarn.

Other waters yet there were: here and there from the hills on both sides, but especially from the south side, came trickles of water that ran in pretty brooks down to the river; and some of these sprang bubbling up amidst the foot mounds of the sheer rocks; some had cleft a rugged and strait way through them, and came tumbling down into the Dale at diverse heights from their faces. But on the north side about halfway down the Dale, one stream somewhat bigger than the others, and dealing with softer ground, had cleft for itself a wider way; and the folk had laboured this way wider yet, till they had made them a road running north along the west side of the stream... Continue reading book >>




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