I Was On The
Skirts Of A Little Wood Of Birch, Sprinkled With A Few Beeches; Behind,
It Adjoined Another Wood Of Fir; And In Front, It Broke Up And Went Down
In Open Order Into A Shallow And Meadowy Dale.
All around there were
bare hilltops, some near, some far away, as the perspective closed or
opened, but none apparently much higher than the rest.
The wind huddled
the trees. The golden specks of autumn in the birches tossed
shiveringly. Overhead the sky was full of strings and shreds of vapour,
flying, vanishing, reappearing, and turning about an axis like tumblers,
as the wind hounded them through heaven. It was wild weather and
famishing cold. I ate some chocolate, swallowed a mouthful of brandy,
and smoked a cigarette before the cold should have time to disable my
fingers. And by the time I had got all this done, and had made my pack
and bound it on the pack-saddle, the day was tiptoe on the threshold of
the east. We had not gone many steps along the lane, before the sun,
still invisible to me, sent a glow of gold over some cloud mountains that
lay ranged along the eastern sky.
The wind had us on the stern, and hurried us bitingly forward. I
buttoned myself into my coat, and walked on in a pleasant frame of mind
with all men, when suddenly, at a corner, there was Fouzilhic once more
in front of me. Nor only that, but there was the old gentleman who had
escorted me so far the night before, running out of his house at sight of
me, with hands upraised in horror.
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