Roof and Meadow eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 91 pages of information about Roof and Meadow.
roar of the distant dam, came the notes of a wood-thrush, pure, sweet, and peaceful, speaking the soul of the quiet time.  My boat grated softly on the sandy bottom of the cove and swung in.  Out from the deep shadow of the wooded shore, out over the pond, a thin white veil was creeping—­the mist, the breath of the sleeping water, the spirit of the stream.  And away up the creek a distorted, inarticulate sound—­the hoarse, guttural croak of the great blue heron, the weird, uncanny cry of the night, the mock, the menace of the tangled, untamed swamp!

THE DRAGON OF THE SWALE

[Illustration]

THE DRAGON OF THE SWALE

My path to Cubby Hollow ran along a tumbling worm-fence, down a gravelly slope, and across a strip of swale, through which flowed the stream that farther on widened into the Hollow.  A small jungle of dog-roses, elder, and blackberry tangled the banks of the stream, spreading into flanks of cinnamon-fern that crept well up the hillsides.

As I descended the gravelly slope, my path led through the ferns into a tunnel of vines, to a rail over the water, and on up to the woods.  By the middle of June the tangle, except by the half-broken path, was almost rabbit-proof.  The rank ferns waved to my chin, and were so thick that they left little trace of my passing until late in the summer.

This bit of the swale from the lower edge of the gravelly slope to the edge of the woods on the opposite slope was the lair of a dragon.  My path cut directly across it.

Perhaps the dragon had been there ever since I had known the swale, and summer after summer had allowed me to cross unchallenged.  I do not know.  I only know that one day he rose out of the ferns before me—­the longest, ugliest, boldest beast that ever withstood me in the quiet walks about home.

It was a day in early July, hot and very close.  I was wading the sunken trail, much as one “treads water,” my head not always above the surface of the fronds, when, suddenly, close to my side the ferns in a single spot were violently shaken.  Instantly ahead of me they whirled again’ and before I could think, off across the path was another rush and whirl—­then stirless silence.

I knew what it meant.  These were not the sudden, startled leaps of three animals, but the lightning movements of one.  I had crossed the path of a swamp black-snake, and judging from the speed and whirl, it was a snake of uncommon size.

The path, a few paces farther on, opened into a small patch of low grass.  Just as I was getting through the brake to this spot I stopped short with a chill.  In the ferns near me shrilled a hissing whistle, a weird, creepy whistle that made me cold—­a fierce, menacing sound, all edge, and so thin that it slivered every nerve in me.  And then, without a stir in the brake, up out of the low grass in front of me rose a blue-black, glittering head.

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Roof and Meadow from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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