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Lorna Doone, A Romance of Exmoor by R. D. Blackmore

Part 4 out of 17

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She was turning to fly, not knowing me, and frightened,
perhaps, at my stature, when I fell on the grass (as I
fell before her seven years agone that day), and I just
said, 'Lorna Doone!'

She knew me at once, from my manner and ways, and a
smile broke through her trembling, as sunshine comes
through aspen-leaves; and being so clever, she saw, of
course, that she needed not to fear me.

'Oh, indeed,' she cried, with a feint of anger (because
she had shown her cowardice, and yet in her heart she
was laughing); 'oh, if you please, who are you, sir,
and how do you know my name?'

'I am John Ridd,' I answered; 'the boy who gave you
those beautiful fish, when you were only a little
thing, seven years ago to-day.'

'Yes, the poor boy who was frightened so, and obliged
to hide here in the water.'

'And do you remember how kind you were, and saved my
life by your quickness, and went away riding upon a
great man's shoulder, as if you had never seen me, and
yet looked back through the willow-trees?'

'Oh, yes, I remember everything; because it was so rare
to see any except--I mean because I happen to remember.
But you seem not to remember, sir, how perilous this
place is.'

For she had kept her eyes upon me; large eyes of a
softness, a brightness, and a dignity which made me
feel as if I must for ever love and yet for ever know
myself unworthy. Unless themselves should fill with
love, which is the spring of all things. And so I
could not answer her, but was overcome with thinking
and feeling and confusion. Neither could I look again;
only waited for the melody which made every word like a
poem to me, the melody of her voice. But she had not
the least idea of what was going on with me, any more
than I myself had.

'I think, Master Ridd, you cannot know,' she said, with
her eyes taken from me, 'what the dangers of this place
are, and the nature of the people.'

'Yes, I know enough of that; and I am frightened
greatly, all the time, when I do not look at you.'

She was too young to answer me in the style some
maidens would have used; the manner, I mean, which now
we call from a foreign word 'coquettish.' And more than
that, she was trembling from real fear of violence,
lest strong hands might be laid on me, and a miserable
end of it. And to tell the truth, I grew afraid;
perhaps from a kind of sympathy, and because I knew
that evil comes more readily than good to us.

Therefore, without more ado, or taking any
advantage--although I would have been glad at heart, if
needs had been, to kiss her (without any thought of
rudeness)--it struck me that I had better go, and have
no more to say to her until next time of coming. So
would she look the more for me and think the more about
me, and not grow weary of my words and the want of
change there is in me. For, of course, I knew what a
churl I was compared to her birth and appearance; but
meanwhile I might improve myself and learn a musical
instrument. 'The wind hath a draw after flying straw'
is a saying we have in Devonshire, made, peradventure,
by somebody who had seen the ways of women.

'Mistress Lorna, I will depart'--mark you, I thought
that a powerful word--'in fear of causing disquiet. If
any rogue shot me it would grieve you; I make bold to
say it, and it would be the death of mother. Few
mothers have such a son as me. Try to think of me now
and then, and I will bring you some new-laid eggs, for
our young blue hen is beginning.'

'I thank you heartily,' said Lorna; 'but you need not
come to see me. You can put them in my little bower,
where I am almost always--I mean whither daily I repair
to read and to be away from them.'

'Only show me where it is. Thrice a day I will come
and stop--'

'Nay, Master Ridd, I would never show thee--never,
because of peril--only that so happens it thou hast
found the way already.'

And she smiled with a light that made me care to cry
out for no other way, except to her dear heart. But
only to myself I cried for anything at all, having
enough of man in me to be bashful with young maidens.
So I touched her white hand softly when she gave it to
me, and (fancying that she had sighed) was touched at
heart about it, and resolved to yield her all my goods,
although my mother was living; and then grew angry with
myself (for a mile or more of walking) to think she
would condescend so; and then, for the rest of the
homeward road, was mad with every man in the world who
would dare to think of having her.



To forget one's luck of life, to forget the cark of
care and withering of young fingers; not to feel, or
not be moved by, all the change of thought and heart,
from large young heat to the sinewy lines and dry bones
of old age--this is what I have to do ere ever I can
make you know (even as a dream is known) how I loved my
Lorna. I myself can never know; never can conceive, or
treat it as a thing of reason, never can behold myself
dwelling in the midst of it, and think that this was I;
neither can I wander far from perpetual thought of it.
Perhaps I have two farrows of pigs ready for the
chapman; perhaps I have ten stones of wool waiting for
the factor. It is all the same. I look at both, and
what I say to myself is this: 'Which would Lorna choose
of them?' Of course, I am a fool for this; any man may
call me so, and I will not quarrel with him, unless he
guess my secret. Of course, I fetch my wit, if it be
worth the fetching, back again to business. But there
my heart is and must be; and all who like to try can
cheat me, except upon parish matters.

That week I could do little more than dream and dream
and rove about, seeking by perpetual change to find the
way back to myself. I cared not for the people round
me, neither took delight in victuals; but made believe
to eat and drink and blushed at any questions. And
being called the master now, head-farmer, and chief
yeoman, it irked me much that any one should take
advantage of me; yet everybody did so as soon as ever
it was known that my wits were gone moon-raking. For
that was the way they looked at it, not being able to
comprehend the greatness and the loftiness. Neither do
I blame them much; for the wisest thing is to laugh at
people when we cannot understand them. I, for my part,
took no notice; but in my heart despised them as beings
of a lesser nature, who never had seen Lorna. Yet I
was vexed, and rubbed myself, when John Fry spread all
over the farm, and even at the shoeing forge, that a
mad dog had come and bitten me, from the other side of

This seems little to me now; and so it might to any
one; but, at the time, it worked me up to a fever of
indignity. To make a mad dog of Lorna, to compare all
my imaginings (which were strange, I do assure you--the
faculty not being apt to work), to count the raising of
my soul no more than hydrophobia! All this acted on me
so, that I gave John Fry the soundest threshing that
ever a sheaf of good corn deserved, or a bundle of
tares was blessed with. Afterwards he went home, too
tired to tell his wife the meaning of it; but it proved
of service to both of them, and an example for their

Now the climate of this country is--so far as I can
make of it--to throw no man into extremes; and if he
throw himself so far, to pluck him back by change of
weather and the need of looking after things. Lest we
should be like the Southerns, for whom the sky does
everything, and men sit under a wall and watch both
food and fruit come beckoning. Their sky is a mother
to them; but ours a good stepmother to us--fearing to
hurt by indulgence, and knowing that severity and
change of mood are wholesome.

The spring being now too forward, a check to it was
needful; and in the early part of March there came a
change of weather. All the young growth was arrested
by a dry wind from the east, which made both face and
fingers burn when a man was doing ditching. The
lilacs and the woodbines, just crowding forth in little
tufts, close kernelling their blossom, were ruffled
back, like a sleeve turned up, and nicked with brown at
the corners. In the hedges any man, unless his eyes
were very dull, could see the mischief doing. The
russet of the young elm-bloom was fain to be in its
scale again; but having pushed forth, there must be,
and turn to a tawny colour. The hangers of the hazel,
too, having shed their dust to make the nuts, did not
spread their little combs and dry them, as they ought
to do; but shrivelled at the base and fell, as if a
knife had cut them. And more than all to notice was
(at least about the hedges) the shuddering of
everything and the shivering sound among them toward
the feeble sun; such as we make to a poor fireplace
when several doors are open. Sometimes I put my face
to warm against the soft, rough maple-stem, which feels
like the foot of a red deer; but the pitiless east wind
came through all, and took and shook the caved hedge
aback till its knees were knocking together, and
nothing could be shelter. Then would any one having
blood, and trying to keep at home with it, run to a
sturdy tree and hope to eat his food behind it, and
look for a little sun to come and warm his feet in the
shelter. And if it did he might strike his breast, and
try to think he was warmer.

But when a man came home at night, after long day's
labour, knowing that the days increased, and so his
care should multiply; still he found enough of light to
show him what the day had done against him in his
garden. Every ridge of new-turned earth looked like an
old man's muscles, honeycombed, and standing out void
of spring, and powdery. Every plant that had rejoiced
in passing such a winter now was cowering, turned away,
unfit to meet the consequence. Flowing sap had stopped
its course; fluted lines showed want of food, and if
you pinched the topmost spray, there was no rebound or

We think a good deal, in a quiet way, when people ask
us about them--of some fine, upstanding pear-trees,
grafted by my grandfather, who had been very greatly
respected. And he got those grafts by sheltering a
poor Italian soldier, in the time of James the First, a
man who never could do enough to show his grateful
memories. How he came to our place is a very difficult
story, which I never understood rightly, having heard
it from my mother. At any rate, there the pear-trees
were, and there they are to this very day; and I wish
every one could taste their fruit, old as they are, and

Now these fine trees had taken advantage of the west
winds, and the moisture, and the promise of the spring
time, so as to fill the tips of the spray-wood and the
rowels all up the branches with a crowd of eager
blossom. Not that they were yet in bloom, nor even
showing whiteness, only that some of the cones were
opening at the side of the cap which pinched them; and
there you might count perhaps, a dozen nobs, like very
little buttons, but grooved, and lined, and huddling
close, to make room for one another. And among these
buds were gray-green blades, scarce bigger than a hair
almost, yet curving so as if their purpose was to
shield the blossom.

Other of the spur-points, standing on the older wood
where the sap was not so eager, had not burst their
tunic yet, but were flayed and flaked with light,
casting off the husk of brown in three-cornered
patches, as I have seen a Scotchman's plaid, or as his
legs shows through it. These buds, at a distance,
looked as if the sky had been raining cream upon them.

Now all this fair delight to the eyes, and good promise
to the palate, was marred and baffled by the wind and
cutting of the night-frosts. The opening cones were
struck with brown, in between the button buds, and on
the scapes that shielded them; while the foot part of
the cover hung like rags, peeled back, and quivering.
And there the little stalk of each, which might have
been a pear, God willing, had a ring around its base,
and sought a chance to drop and die. The others which
had not opened comb, but only prepared to do it, were a
little better off, but still very brown and unkid, and
shrivelling in doubt of health, and neither peart nor

Now this I have not told because I know the way to do
it, for that I do not, neither yet have seen a man who
did know. It is wonderful how we look at things, and
never think to notice them; and I am as bad as anybody,
unless the thing to be observed is a dog, or a horse,
or a maiden. And the last of those three I look at,
somehow, without knowing that I take notice, and
greatly afraid to do it, only I knew afterwards (when
the time of life was in me), not indeed, what the
maiden was like, but how she differed from others.

Yet I have spoken about the spring, and the failure of
fair promise, because I took it to my heart as token of
what would come to me in the budding of my years and
hope. And even then, being much possessed, and full of
a foolish melancholy, I felt a sad delight at being
doomed to blight and loneliness; not but that I managed
still (when mother was urgent upon me) to eat my share
of victuals, and cuff a man for laziness, and see that
a ploughshare made no leaps, and sleep of a night
without dreaming. And my mother half-believing, in her
fondness and affection, that what the parish said was
true about a mad dog having bitten me, and yet arguing
that it must be false (because God would have prevented
him), my mother gave me little rest, when I was in the
room with her. Not that she worried me with questions,
nor openly regarded me with any unusual meaning, but
that I knew she was watching slyly whenever I took a
spoon up; and every hour or so she managed to place a
pan of water by me, quite as if by accident, and
sometimes even to spill a little upon my shoe or
coat-sleeve. But Betty Muxworthy was worst; for,
having no fear about my health, she made a villainous
joke of it, and used to rush into the kitchen, barking
like a dog, and panting, exclaiming that I had bitten
her, and justice she would have on me, if it cost her a
twelvemonth's wages. And she always took care to do
this thing just when I had crossed my legs in the
corner after supper, and leaned my head against the
oven, to begin to think of Lorna.

However, in all things there is comfort, if we do not
look too hard for it; and now I had much satisfaction,
in my uncouth state, from labouring, by the hour
together, at the hedging and the ditching, meeting the
bitter wind face to face, feeling my strength increase,
and hoping that some one would be proud of it. In the
rustling rush of every gust, in the graceful bend of
every tree, even in the 'lords and ladies,' clumped in
the scoops of the hedgerow, and most of all in the soft
primrose, wrung by the wind, but stealing back, and
smiling when the wrath was passed--in all of these, and
many others there was aching ecstasy, delicious pang of

But however cold the weather was, and however hard the
wind blew, one thing (more than all the rest) worried
and perplexed me. This was, that I could not settle,
turn and twist as I might, how soon I ought to go again
upon a visit to Glen Doone. For I liked not at all the
falseness of it (albeit against murderers), the
creeping out of sight, and hiding, and feeling as a spy
might. And even more than this. I feared how Lorna
might regard it; whether I might seem to her a prone
and blunt intruder, a country youth not skilled in
manners, as among the quality, even when they rob us.
For I was not sure myself, but that it might be very
bad manners to go again too early without an
invitation; and my hands and face were chapped so badly
by the bitter wind, that Lorna might count them
unsightly things, and wish to see no more of them.

However, I could not bring myself to consult any one
upon this point, at least in our own neighbourhood, nor
even to speak of it near home. But the east wind
holding through the month, my hands and face growing
worse and worse, and it having occurred to me by this
time that possibly Lorna might have chaps, if she came
abroad at all, and so might like to talk about them and
show her little hands to me, I resolved to take another
opinion, so far as might be upon this matter, without
disclosing the circumstances.

Now the wisest person in all our parts was reckoned to
be a certain wise woman, well known all over Exmoor by
the name of Mother Melldrum. Her real name was Maple
Durham, as I learned long afterwards; and she came of
an ancient family, but neither of Devon nor Somerset.
Nevertheless she was quite at home with our proper
modes of divination; and knowing that we liked them
best--as each man does his own religion--she would
always practise them for the people of the country.
And all the while, she would let us know that she kept
a higher and nobler mode for those who looked down upon
this one, not having been bred and born to it.

Mother Melldrum had two houses, or rather she had none
at all, but two homes wherein to find her, according to
the time of year. In summer she lived in a pleasant
cave, facing the cool side of the hill, far inland near
Hawkridge and close above Tarr-steps, a wonderful
crossing of Barle river, made (as everybody knows) by
Satan, for a wager. But throughout the winter, she
found sea-air agreeable, and a place where things could
be had on credit, and more occasion of talking. Not
but what she could have credit (for every one was
afraid of her) in the neighbourhood of Tarr-steps; only
there was no one handy owning things worth taking.

Therefore, at the fall of the leaf, when the woods grew
damp and irksome, the wise woman always set her face to
the warmer cliffs of the Channel; where shelter was,
and dry fern bedding, and folk to be seen in the
distance, from a bank upon which the sun shone. And
there, as I knew from our John Fry (who had been to her
about rheumatism, and sheep possessed with an evil
spirit, and warts on the hand of his son, young John),
any one who chose might find her, towards the close of
a winter day, gathering sticks and brown fern for fuel,
and talking to herself the while, in a hollow stretch
behind the cliffs; which foreigners, who come and go
without seeing much of Exmoor, have called the Valley
of Rocks.

This valley, or goyal, as we term it, being small for a
valley, lies to the west of Linton, about a mile from
the town perhaps, and away towards Ley Manor. Our
homefolk always call it the Danes, or the Denes, which
is no more, they tell me, than a hollow place, even as
the word 'den' is. However, let that pass, for I know
very little about it; but the place itself is a pretty
one, though nothing to frighten anybody, unless he hath
lived in a gallipot. It is a green rough-sided hollow,
bending at the middle, touched with stone at either
crest, and dotted here and there with slabs in and out
the brambles. On the right hand is an upward crag,
called by some the Castle, easy enough to scale, and
giving great view of the Channel. Facing this, from
the inland side and the elbow of the valley, a queer
old pile of rock arises, bold behind one another, and
quite enough to affright a man, if it only were ten
times larger. This is called the Devil's Cheese-ring,
or the Devil's Cheese-knife, which mean the same thing,
as our fathers were used to eat their cheese from a
scoop; and perhaps in old time the upmost rock (which
has fallen away since I knew it) was like to such an
implement, if Satan eat cheese untoasted.

But all the middle of this valley was a place to rest
in; to sit and think that troubles were not, if we
would not make them. To know the sea outside the
hills, but never to behold it; only by the sound of
waves to pity sailors labouring. Then to watch the
sheltered sun, coming warmly round the turn, like a
guest expected, full of gentle glow and gladness,
casting shadow far away as a thing to hug itself, and
awakening life from dew, and hope from every spreading
bud. And then to fall asleep and dream that the fern
was all asparagus.

Alas, I was too young in those days much to care for
creature comforts, or to let pure palate have things
that would improve it. Anything went down with me, as
it does with most of us. Too late we know the good
from bad; the knowledge is no pleasure then; being
memory's medicine rather than the wine of hope.

Now Mother Melldrum kept her winter in this vale of
rocks, sheltering from the wind and rain within the
Devil's Cheese-ring, which added greatly to her fame
because all else, for miles around, were afraid to go
near it after dark, or even on a gloomy day. Under
eaves of lichened rock she had a winding passage, which
none that ever I knew of durst enter but herself. And
to this place I went to seek her, in spite of all
misgivings, upon a Sunday in Lenten season, when the
sheep were folded.

Our parson (as if he had known my intent) had preached
a beautiful sermon about the Witch of Endor, and the
perils of them that meddle wantonly with the unseen
Powers; and therein he referred especially to the
strange noise in the neighbourhood, and upbraided us
for want of faith, and many other backslidings. We
listened to him very earnestly, for we like to hear
from our betters about things that are beyond us, and
to be roused up now and then, like sheep with a good
dog after them, who can pull some wool without biting.
Nevertheless we could not see how our want of faith
could have made that noise, especially at night time,
notwithstanding which we believed it, and hoped to do a
little better.

And so we all came home from church; and most of the
people dined with us, as they always do on Sundays,
because of the distance to go home, with only words
inside them. The parson, who always sat next to
mother, was afraid that he might have vexed us, and
would not have the best piece of meat, according to his
custom. But soon we put him at his ease, and showed
him we were proud of him; and then he made no more to
do, but accepted the best of the sirloin.



Although wellnigh the end of March, the wind blew wild
and piercing, as I went on foot that afternoon to
Mother Melldrum's dwelling. It was safer not to take a
horse, lest (if anything vexed her) she should put a
spell upon him; as had been done to Farmer Snowe's
stable by the wise woman of Simonsbath.

The sun was low on the edge of the hills by the time I
entered the valley, for I could not leave home till the
cattle were tended, and the distance was seven miles or
more. The shadows of rocks fell far and deep, and the
brown dead fern was fluttering, and brambles with their
sere leaves hanging, swayed their tatters to and fro,
with a red look on them. In patches underneath the
crags, a few wild goats were browsing; then they tossed
their horns, and fled, and leaped on ledges, and stared
at me. Moreover, the sound of the sea came up, and
went the length of the valley, and there it lapped on a
butt of rocks, and murmured like a shell.

Taking things one with another, and feeling all the
lonesomeness, and having no stick with me, I was much
inclined to go briskly back, and come at a better
season. And when I beheld a tall grey shape, of
something or another, moving at the lower end of the
valley, where the shade was, it gave me such a stroke
of fear, after many others, that my thumb which lay in
mother's Bible (brought in my big pocket for the sake
of safety) shook so much that it came out, and I could
not get it in again. 'This serves me right,' I said to
myself, 'for tampering with Beelzebub. Oh that I had
listened to parson!'

And thereupon I struck aside; not liking to run away
quite, as some people might call it; but seeking to
look like a wanderer who was come to see the valley,
and had seen almost enough of it. Herein I should
have succeeded, and gone home, and then been angry at
my want of courage, but that on the very turn and
bending of my footsteps, the woman in the distance
lifted up her staff to me, so that I was bound to stop.

And now, being brought face to face, by the will of God
(as one might say) with anything that might come of it,
I kept myself quite straight and stiff, and thrust away
all white feather, trusting in my Bible still, hoping
that it would protect me, though I had disobeyed it.
But upon that remembrance, my conscience took me by the
leg, so that I could not go forward.

All this while, the fearful woman was coming near and
more near to me; and I was glad to sit down on a rock
because my knees were shaking so. I tried to think of
many things, but none of them would come to me; and I
could not take my eyes away, though I prayed God to be
near me.

But when she was come so nigh to me that I could descry
her features, there was something in her countenance
that made me not dislike her. She looked as if she had
been visited by many troubles, and had felt them one by
one, yet held enough of kindly nature still to grieve
for others. Long white hair, on either side, was
falling down below her chin; and through her wrinkles
clear bright eyes seemed to spread themselves upon me.
Though I had plenty of time to think, I was taken by
surprise no less, and unable to say anything; yet eager
to hear the silence broken, and longing for a noise or

'Thou art not come to me,' she said, looking through my
simple face, as if it were but glass, 'to be struck for
bone-shave, nor to be blessed for barn-gun. Give me
forth thy hand, John Ridd; and tell why thou art come
to me.'

But I was so much amazed at her knowing my name and all
about me, that I feared to place my hand in her power,
or even my tongue by speaking.

'Have no fear of me, my son; I have no gift to harm
thee; and if I had, it should be idle. Now, if thou
hast any wit, tell me why I love thee.'

'I never had any wit, mother,' I answered in our
Devonshire way; 'and never set eyes on thee before, to
the furthest of my knowledge.'

'And yet I know thee as well, John, as if thou wert my
grandson. Remember you the old Oare oak, and the bog
at the head of Exe, and the child who would have died
there, but for thy strength and courage, and most of
all thy kindness? That was my granddaughter, John; and
all I have on earth to love.'

Now that she came to speak of it, with the place and
that, so clearly, I remembered all about it (a thing
that happened last August), and thought how stupid I
must have been not to learn more of the little girl who
had fallen into the black pit, with a basketful of
whortleberries, and who might have been gulfed if her
little dog had not spied me in the distance. I carried
her on my back to mother; and then we dressed her all
anew, and took her where she ordered us; but she did
not tell us who she was, nor anything more than her
Christian name, and that she was eight years old, and
fond of fried batatas. And we did not seek to ask her
more; as our manner is with visitors.

But thinking of this little story, and seeing how she
looked at me, I lost my fear of Mother Melldrum, and
began to like her; partly because I had helped her
grandchild, and partly that if she were so wise, no
need would have been for me to save the little thing
from drowning. Therefore I stood up and said, though
scarcely yet established in my power against hers,--

'Good mother, the shoe she lost was in the mire, and
not with us. And we could not match it, although we
gave her a pair of sister Lizzie's.'

'My son, what care I for her shoe? How simple thou
art, and foolish! according to the thoughts of some.
Now tell me, for thou canst not lie, what has brought
thee to me.'

Being so ashamed and bashful, I was half-inclined to
tell her a lie, until she said that I could not do it;
and then I knew that I could not.

'I am come to know,' I said, looking at a rock the
while, to keep my voice from shaking, 'when I may go to
see Lorna Doone.'

No more could I say, though my mind was charged to ask
fifty other questions. But although I looked away, it
was plain that I had asked enough. I felt that the
wise woman gazed at me in wrath as well as sorrow; and
then I grew angry that any one should seem to make
light of Lorna.

'John Ridd,' said the woman, observing this (for now I
faced her bravely), 'of whom art thou speaking? Is it
a child of the men who slew your father?'

'I cannot tell, mother. How should I know? And what
is that to thee?'

'It is something to thy mother, John, and something to
thyself, I trow; and nothing worse could befall thee.'

I waited for her to speak again, because she had spoken
so sadly that it took my breath away.

'John Ridd, if thou hast any value for thy body or thy
soul, thy mother, or thy father's name, have nought to
do with any Doone.'

She gazed at me in earnest so, and raised her voice in
saying it, until the whole valley, curving like a great
bell echoed 'Doone,' that it seemed to me my heart was
gone for every one and everything. If it were God's
will for me to have no more of Lorna, let a sign come
out of the rocks, and I would try to believe it. But
no sign came, and I turned to the woman, and longed
that she had been a man.

'You poor thing, with bones and blades, pails of water,
and door-keys, what know you about the destiny of a
maiden such as Lorna? Chilblains you may treat, and
bone-shave, ringworm, and the scaldings; even scabby
sheep may limp the better for your strikings. John the
Baptist and his cousins, with the wool and hyssop, are
for mares, and ailing dogs, and fowls that have the
jaundice. Look at me now, Mother Melldrum, am I like a

'That thou art, my son. Alas that it were any other!
Now behold the end of that; John Ridd, mark the end of

She pointed to the castle-rock, where upon a narrow
shelf, betwixt us and the coming stars, a bitter fight
was raging. A fine fat sheep, with an honest face, had
clomb up very carefully to browse on a bit of juicy
grass, now the dew of the land was upon it. To him,
from an upper crag, a lean black goat came hurrying,
with leaps, and skirmish of the horns, and an angry
noise in his nostrils. The goat had grazed the place
before, to the utmost of his liking, cropping in and
out with jerks, as their manner is of feeding.
Nevertheless he fell on the sheep with fury and great

The simple wether was much inclined to retire from the
contest, but looked around in vain for any way to peace
and comfort. His enemy stood between him and the last
leap he had taken; there was nothing left him but to
fight, or be hurled into the sea, five hundred feet

'Lie down, lie down!' I shouted to him, as if he were a
dog, for I had seen a battle like this before, and knew
that the sheep had no chance of life except from his
greater weight, and the difficulty of moving him.

'Lie down, lie down, John Ridd!' cried Mother Melldrum,
mocking me, but without a sign of smiling.

The poor sheep turned, upon my voice, and looked at me
so piteously that I could look no longer; but ran with
all my speed to try and save him from the combat. He
saw that I could not be in time, for the goat was
bucking to leap at him, and so the good wether stooped
his forehead, with the harmless horns curling aside of
it; and the goat flung his heels up, and rushed at him,
with quick sharp jumps and tricks of movement, and the
points of his long horns always foremost, and his
little scut cocked like a gun-hammer.

As I ran up the steep of the rock, I could not see what
they were doing, but the sheep must have fought very
bravely at last, and yielded his ground quite slowly,
and I hoped almost to save him. But just as my head
topped the platform of rock, I saw him flung from it
backward, with a sad low moan and a gurgle. His body
made quite a short noise in the air, like a bucket
thrown down a well shaft, and I could not tell when it
struck the water, except by the echo among the rocks.
So wroth was I with the goat at the moment (being
somewhat scant of breath and unable to consider), that
I caught him by the right hind-leg, before he could
turn from his victory, and hurled him after the sheep,
to learn how he liked his own compulsion.



Although I left the Denes at once, having little heart
for further questions of the wise woman, and being
afraid to visit her house under the Devil's Cheese-ring
(to which she kindly invited me), and although I ran
most part of the way, it was very late for farm-house
time upon a Sunday evening before I was back at
Plover's Barrows. My mother had great desire to know
all about the matter; but I could not reconcile it with
my respect so to frighten her. Therefore I tried to
sleep it off, keeping my own counsel; and when that
proved of no avail, I strove to work it away, it might
be, by heavy outdoor labour, and weariness, and good
feeding. These indeed had some effect, and helped to
pass a week or two, with more pain of hand than heart
to me.

But when the weather changed in earnest, and the frost
was gone, and the south-west wind blew softly, and the
lambs were at play with the daisies, it was more than I
could do to keep from thought of Lorna. For now the
fields were spread with growth, and the waters clad
with sunshine, and light and shadow, step by step,
wandered over the furzy cleves. All the sides of the
hilly wood were gathered in and out with green,
silver-grey, or russet points, according to the several
manner of the trees beginning. And if one stood
beneath an elm, with any heart to look at it, lo! all
the ground was strewn with flakes (too small to know
their meaning), and all the sprays above were rasped
and trembling with a redness. And so I stopped beneath
the tree, and carved L.D. upon it, and wondered at
the buds of thought that seemed to swell inside me.

The upshot of it all was this, that as no Lorna came to
me, except in dreams or fancy, and as my life was not
worth living without constant sign of her, forth I must
again to find her, and say more than a man can tell.
Therefore, without waiting longer for the moving of the
spring, dressed I was in grand attire (so far as I had
gotten it), and thinking my appearance good, although
with doubts about it (being forced to dress in the
hay-tallat), round the corner of the wood-stack went I
very knowingly--for Lizzie's eyes were wondrous
sharp--and then I was sure of meeting none who would
care or dare to speak of me.

It lay upon my conscience often that I had not made
dear Annie secret to this history; although in all
things I could trust her, and she loved me like a lamb.
Many and many a time I tried, and more than once began
the thing; but there came a dryness in my throat, and a
knocking under the roof of my mouth, and a longing to
put it off again, as perhaps might be the wisest. And
then I would remember too that I had no right to speak
of Lorna as if she were common property.

This time I longed to take my gun, and was half
resolved to do so; because it seemed so hard a thing to
be shot at and have no chance of shooting; but when I
came to remember the steepness and the slippery nature
of the waterslide, there seemed but little likelihood
of keeping dry the powder. Therefore I was armed with
nothing but a good stout holly staff, seasoned well for
many a winter in our back-kitchen chimney.

Although my heart was leaping high with the prospect of
some adventure, and the fear of meeting Lorna, I could
not but be gladdened by the softness of the weather,
and the welcome way of everything. There was that
power all round, that power and that goodness, which
make us come, as it were, outside our bodily selves, to
share them. Over and beside us breathes the joy of
hope and promise; under foot are troubles past; in the
distance bowering newness tempts us ever forward. We
quicken with largesse of life, and spring with vivid

And, in good sooth, I had to spring, and no mystery
about it, ere ever I got to the top of the rift leading
into Doone-glade. For the stream was rushing down in
strength, and raving at every corner; a mort of rain
having fallen last night and no wind come to wipe it.
However, I reached the head ere dark with more
difficulty than danger, and sat in a place which
comforted my back and legs desirably.

Hereupon I grew so happy at being on dry land again,
and come to look for Lorna, with pretty trees around
me, that what did I do but fall asleep with the
holly-stick in front of me, and my best coat sunk in a
bed of moss, with water and wood-sorrel. Mayhap I had
not done so, nor yet enjoyed the spring so much, if so
be I had not taken three parts of a gallon of cider at
home, at Plover's Barrows, because of the lowness and
sinking ever since I met Mother Melldrum.

There was a little runnel going softly down beside me,
falling from the upper rock by the means of moss and
grass, as if it feared to make a noise, and had a
mother sleeping. Now and then it seemed to stop, in
fear of its own dropping, and wait for some orders; and
the blades of grass that straightened to it turned
their points a little way, and offered their allegiance
to wind instead of water. Yet before their carkled
edges bent more than a driven saw, down the water came
again with heavy drops and pats of running, and bright
anger at neglect.

This was very pleasant to me, now and then, to gaze at,
blinking as the water blinked, and falling back to
sleep again. Suddenly my sleep was broken by a shade
cast over me; between me and the low sunlight Lorna
Doone was standing.

'Master Ridd, are you mad?' she said, and took my hand
to move me.

'Not mad, but half asleep,' I answered, feigning not to
notice her, that so she might keep hold of me.

'Come away, come away, if you care for life. The
patrol will be here directly. Be quick, Master Ridd,
let me hide thee.'

'I will not stir a step,' said I, though being in the
greatest fright that might be well imagined,' unless
you call me "John."'

'Well, John, then--Master John Ridd, be quick, if you
have any to care for you.'

'I have many that care for me,' I said, just to let her
know; 'and I will follow you, Mistress Lorna, albeit
without any hurry, unless there be peril to more than

Without another word she led me, though with many timid
glances towards the upper valley, to, and into, her
little bower, where the inlet through the rock was. I
am almost sure that I spoke before (though I cannot now
go seek for it, and my memory is but a worn-out tub) of
a certain deep and perilous pit, in which I was like to
drown myself through hurry and fright of boyhood. And
even then I wondered greatly, and was vexed with Lorna
for sending me in that heedless manner into such an
entrance. But now it was clear that she had been right
and the fault mine own entirely; for the entrance to
the pit was only to he found by seeking it. Inside
the niche of native stone, the plainest thing of all to
see, at any rate by day light, was the stairway hewn
from rock, and leading up the mountain, by means of
which I had escaped, as before related. To the right
side of this was the mouth of the pit, still looking
very formidable; though Lorna laughed at my fear of it,
for she drew her water thence. But on the left was a
narrow crevice, very difficult to espy, and having a
sweep of grey ivy laid, like a slouching beaver, over
it. A man here coming from the brightness of the outer
air, with eyes dazed by the twilight, would never think
of seeing this and following it to its meaning.

Lorna raised the screen for me, but I had much ado to
pass, on account of bulk and stature. Instead of being
proud of my size (as it seemed to me she ought to be)
Lorna laughed so quietly that I was ready to knock my
head or elbows against anything, and say no more about
it. However, I got through at last without a word of
compliment, and broke into the pleasant room, the lone
retreat of Lorna.

The chamber was of unhewn rock, round, as near as might
be, eighteen or twenty feet across, and gay with rich
variety of fern and moss and lichen. The fern was in
its winter still, or coiling for the spring-tide; but
moss was in abundant life, some feathering, and some
gobleted, and some with fringe of red to it. Overhead
there was no ceiling but the sky itself, flaked with
little clouds of April whitely wandering over it. The
floor was made of soft low grass, mixed with moss and
primroses; and in a niche of shelter moved the delicate
wood-sorrel. Here and there, around the sides, were
'chairs of living stone,' as some Latin writer says,
whose name has quite escaped me; and in the midst a
tiny spring arose, with crystal beads in it, and a soft
voice as of a laughing dream, and dimples like a
sleeping babe. Then, after going round a little, with
surprise of daylight, the water overwelled the edge,
and softly went through lines of light to shadows and
an untold bourne.

While I was gazing at all these things with wonder and
some sadness, Lorna turned upon me lightly (as her
manner was) and said,--

'Where are the new-laid eggs, Master Ridd? Or hath
blue hen ceased laying?'

I did not altogether like the way in which she said it
with a sort of dialect, as if my speech could be
laughed at.

'Here be some,' I answered, speaking as if in spite of
her. 'I would have brought thee twice as many, but
that I feared to crush them in the narrow ways,
Mistress Lorna.'

And so I laid her out two dozen upon the moss of the
rock-ledge, unwinding the wisp of hay from each as it
came safe out of my pocket. Lorna looked with growing
wonder, as I added one to one; and when I had placed
them side by side, and bidden her now to tell them, to
my amazement what did she do but burst into a flood of

'What have I done?' I asked, with shame, scarce daring
even to look at her, because her grief was not like
Annie's--a thing that could be coaxed away, and left a
joy in going--'oh, what have I done to vex you so?'

'It is nothing done by you, Master Ridd,' she answered,
very proudly, as if nought I did could matter; 'it is
only something that comes upon me with the scent of the
pure true clover-hay. Moreover, you have been too
kind; and I am not used to kindness.'

Some sort of awkwardness was on me, at her words and
weeping, as if I would like to say something, but
feared to make things worse perhaps than they were
already. Therefore I abstained from speech, as I would
in my own pain. And as it happened, this was the way
to make her tell me more about it. Not that I was
curious, beyond what pity urged me and the strange
affairs around her; and now I gazed upon the floor,
lest I should seem to watch her; but none the less for
that I knew all that she was doing.

Lorna went a little way, as if she would not think of
me nor care for one so careless; and all my heart gave
a sudden jump, to go like a mad thing after her; until
she turned of her own accord, and with a little sigh
came back to me. Her eyes were soft with trouble's
shadow, and the proud lift of her neck was gone, and
beauty's vanity borne down by woman's want of

'Master Ridd,' she said in the softest voice that ever
flowed between two lips, 'have I done aught to offend

Hereupon it went hard with me, not to catch her up and
kiss her, in the manner in which she was looking; only
it smote me suddenly that this would be a low advantage
of her trust and helplessness. She seemed to know
what I would be at, and to doubt very greatly about it,
whether as a child of old she might permit the usage.
All sorts of things went through my head, as I made
myself look away from her, for fear of being tempted
beyond what I could bear. And the upshot of it was
that I said, within my heart and through it, 'John
Ridd, be on thy very best manners with this lonely

Lorna liked me all the better for my good forbearance;
because she did not love me yet, and had not thought
about it; at least so far as I knew. And though her
eyes were so beauteous, so very soft and kindly, there
was (to my apprehension) some great power in them, as
if she would not have a thing, unless her judgment
leaped with it.

But now her judgment leaped with me, because I had
behaved so well; and being of quick urgent nature--such
as I delight in, for the change from mine own
slowness--she, without any let or hindrance, sitting
over against me, now raising and now dropping fringe
over those sweet eyes that were the road-lights of her
tongue, Lorna told me all about everything I wished to
know, every little thing she knew, except indeed that
point of points, how Master Ridd stood with her.

Although it wearied me no whit, it might be wearisome
for folk who cannot look at Lorna, to hear the story
all in speech, exactly as she told it; therefore let me
put it shortly, to the best of my remembrance.

Nay, pardon me, whosoever thou art, for seeming fickle
and rude to thee; I have tried to do as first proposed,
to tell the tale in my own words, as of another's
fortune. But, lo! I was beset at once with many heavy
obstacles, which grew as I went onward, until I knew
not where I was, and mingled past and present. And two
of these difficulties only were enough to stop me; the
one that I must coldly speak without the force of pity,
the other that I, off and on, confused myself with
Lorna, as might be well expected.

Therefore let her tell the story, with her own sweet
voice and manner; and if ye find it wearisome, seek in
yourselves the weariness.



'I cannot go through all my thoughts so as to make
them clear to you, nor have I ever dwelt on things, to
shape a story of them. I know not where the beginning
was, nor where the middle ought to be, nor even how at
the present time I feel, or think, or ought to think.
If I look for help to those around me, who should tell
me right and wrong (being older and much wiser), I meet
sometimes with laughter, and at other times with anger.

'There are but two in the world who ever listen and try
to help me; one of them is my grandfather, and the
other is a man of wisdom, whom we call the Counsellor.
My grandfather, Sir Ensor Doone, is very old and harsh
of manner (except indeed to me); he seems to know what
is right and wrong, but not to want to think of it.
The Counsellor, on the other hand, though full of life
and subtleties, treats my questions as of play, and not
gravely worth his while to answer, unless he can make
wit of them.

'And among the women there are none with whom I can
hold converse, since my Aunt Sabina died, who took such
pains to teach me. She was a lady of high repute and
lofty ways, and learning, but grieved and harassed more
and more by the coarseness, and the violence, and the
ignorance around her. In vain she strove, from year to
year, to make the young men hearken, to teach them what
became their birth, and give them sense of honour. It
was her favourite word, poor thing! and they called her
"Old Aunt Honour." Very often she used to say that I
was her only comfort, and I am sure she was my only
one; and when she died it was more to me than if I had
lost a mother.

'For I have no remembrance now of father or of mother,
although they say that my father was the eldest son of
Sir Ensor Doone, and the bravest and the best of them.
And so they call me heiress to this little realm of
violence; and in sorry sport sometimes, I am their
Princess or their Queen.

'Many people living here, as I am forced to do, would
perhaps be very happy, and perhaps I ought to be so.
We have a beauteous valley, sheltered from the cold of
winter and power of the summer sun, untroubled also by
the storms and mists that veil the mountains; although
I must acknowledge that it is apt to rain too often.
The grass moreover is so fresh, and the brook so bright
and lively, and flowers of so many hues come after one
another that no one need be dull, if only left alone
with them.

'And so in the early days perhaps, when morning
breathes around me, and the sun is going upward, and
light is playing everywhere, I am not so far beside
them all as to live in shadow. But when the evening
gathers down, and the sky is spread with sadness, and
the day has spent itself; then a cloud of lonely
trouble falls, like night, upon me. I cannot see the
things I quest for of a world beyond me; I cannot join
the peace and quiet of the depth above me; neither have
I any pleasure in the brightness of the stars.

'What I want to know is something none of them can tell
me--what am I, and why set here, and when shall I be
with them? I see that you are surprised a little at
this my curiosity. Perhaps such questions never spring
in any wholesome spirit. But they are in the depths of
mine, and I cannot be quit of them.

'Meantime, all around me is violence and robbery,
coarse delight and savage pain, reckless joke and
hopeless death. Is it any wonder that I cannot sink
with these, that I cannot so forget my soul, as to live
the life of brutes, and die the death more horrible
because it dreams of waking? There is none to lead me
forward, there is none to teach me right; young as I
am, I live beneath a curse that lasts for ever.'

Here Lorna broke down for awhile, and cried so very
piteously, that doubting of my knowledge, and of any
power to comfort, I did my best to hold my peace, and
tried to look very cheerful. Then thinking that might
be bad manners, I went to wipe her eyes for her.

'Master Ridd,' she began again, 'I am both ashamed and
vexed at my own childish folly. But you, who have a
mother, who thinks (you say) so much of you, and
sisters, and a quiet home; you cannot tell (it is not
likely) what a lonely nature is. How it leaps in mirth
sometimes, with only heaven touching it; and how it
falls away desponding, when the dreary weight creeps

'It does not happen many times that I give way like
this; more shame now to do so, when I ought to
entertain you. Sometimes I am so full of anger, that I
dare not trust to speech, at things they cannot hide
from me; and perhaps you would be much surprised that
reckless men would care so much to elude a young girl's
knowledge. They used to boast to Aunt Sabina of
pillage and of cruelty, on purpose to enrage her; but
they never boast to me. It even makes me smile
sometimes to see how awkwardly they come and offer for
temptation to me shining packets, half concealed, of
ornaments and finery, of rings, or chains, or jewels,
lately belonging to other people.

'But when I try to search the past, to get a sense of
what befell me ere my own perception formed; to feel
back for the lines of childhood, as a trace of
gossamer, then I only know that nought lives longer
than God wills it. So may after sin go by, for we are
children always, as the Counsellor has told me; so may
we, beyond the clouds, seek this infancy of life, and
never find its memory.

'But I am talking now of things which never come across
me when any work is toward. It might have been a good
thing for me to have had a father to beat these rovings
out of me; or a mother to make a home, and teach me how
to manage it. For, being left with none--I think; and
nothing ever comes of it. Nothing, I mean, which I can
grasp and have with any surety; nothing but faint
images, and wonderment, and wandering. But often, when
I am neither searching back into remembrance, nor
asking of my parents, but occupied by trifles,
something like a sign, or message, or a token of some
meaning, seems to glance upon me. Whether from the
rustling wind, or sound of distant music, or the
singing of a bird, like the sun on snow it strikes me
with a pain of pleasure.

'And often when I wake at night, and listen to the
silence, or wander far from people in the grayness of
the evening, or stand and look at quiet water having
shadows over it, some vague image seems to hover on the
skirt of vision, ever changing place and outline, ever
flitting as I follow. This so moves and hurries me, in
the eagerness and longing, that straightway all my
chance is lost; and memory, scared like a wild bird,
flies. Or am I as a child perhaps, chasing a flown
cageling, who among the branches free plays and peeps
at the offered cage (as a home not to be urged on him),
and means to take his time of coming, if he comes at

'Often too I wonder at the odds of fortune, which made
me (helpless as I am, and fond of peace and reading)
the heiress of this mad domain, the sanctuary of
unholiness. It is not likely that I shall have much
power of authority; and yet the Counsellor creeps up to
be my Lord of the Treasury; and his son aspires to my
hand, as of a Royal alliance. Well, "honour among
thieves," they say; and mine is the first honour:
although among decent folk perhaps, honesty is better.

'We should not be so quiet here, and safe from
interruption but that I have begged one privilege
rather than commanded it. This was that the lower end,
just this narrowing of the valley, where it is most
hard to come at, might be looked upon as mine, except
for purposes of guard. Therefore none beside the
sentries ever trespass on me here, unless it be my
grandfather, or the Counsellor or Carver.

'By your face, Master Ridd, I see that you have heard
of Carver Doone. For strength and courage and resource
he bears the first repute among us, as might well be
expected from the son of the Counsellor. But he
differs from his father, in being very hot and savage,
and quite free from argument. The Counsellor, who is
my uncle, gives his son the best advice; commending all
the virtues, with eloquence and wisdom; yet himself
abstaining from them accurately and impartially.

'You must be tired of this story, and the time I take
to think, and the weakness of my telling; but my life
from day to day shows so little variance. Among the
riders there is none whose safe return I watch for--I
mean none more than other--and indeed there seems no
risk, all are now so feared of us. Neither of the old
men is there whom I can revere or love (except alone my
grandfather, whom I love with trembling): neither of
the women any whom I like to deal with, unless it be a
little maiden whom I saved from starving.

'A little Cornish girl she is, and shaped in western
manner, not so very much less in width than if you take
her lengthwise. Her father seems to have been a miner,
a Cornishman (as she declares) of more than average
excellence, and better than any two men to be found in
Devonshire, or any four in Somerset. Very few things
can have been beyond his power of performance, and yet
he left his daughter to starve upon a peat-rick. She
does not know how this was done, and looks upon it as a
mystery, the meaning of which will some day be clear,
and redound to her father's honour. His name was Simon
Carfax, and he came as the captain of a gang from one
of the Cornish stannaries. Gwenny Carfax, my young
maid, well remembers how her father was brought up from
Cornwall. Her mother had been buried, just a week or
so before; and he was sad about it, and had been off
his work, and was ready for another job. Then people
came to him by night, and said that he must want a
change, and everybody lost their wives, and work was
the way to mend it. So what with grief, and
over-thought, and the inside of a square bottle, Gwenny
says they brought him off, to become a mighty captain,
and choose the country round. The last she saw of him
was this, that he went down a ladder somewhere on the
wilds of Exmoor, leaving her with bread and cheese, and
his travelling-hat to see to. And from that day to
this he never came above the ground again; so far as we
can hear of.

'But Gwenny, holding to his hat, and having eaten the
bread and cheese (when he came no more to help her),
dwelt three days near the mouth of the hole; and then
it was closed over, the while that she was sleeping.
With weakness and with want of food, she lost herself
distressfully, and went away for miles or more, and lay
upon a peat-rick, to die before the ravens.

'That very day I chanced to return from Aunt Sabina's
dying-place; for she would not die in Glen Doone, she
said, lest the angels feared to come for her; and so
she was taken to a cottage in a lonely valley. I was
allowed to visit her, for even we durst not refuse the
wishes of the dying; and if a priest had been desired,
we should have made bold with him. Returning very
sorrowful, and caring now for nothing, I found this
little stray thing lying, her arms upon her, and not a
sign of life, except the way that she was biting.
Black root-stuff was in her mouth, and a piece of dirty
sheep's wool, and at her feet an old egg-shell of some
bird of the moorland.

'I tried to raise her, but she was too square and heavy
for me; and so I put food in her mouth, and left her to
do right with it. And this she did in a little time;
for the victuals were very choice and rare, being what
I had taken over to tempt poor Aunt Sabina. Gwenny ate
them without delay, and then was ready to eat the
basket and the ware that contained them.

'Gwenny took me for an angel--though I am little like
one, as you see, Master Ridd; and she followed me,
expecting that I would open wings and fly when we came
to any difficulty. I brought her home with me, so far
as this can be a home, and she made herself my sole
attendant, without so much as asking me. She has
beaten two or three other girls, who used to wait upon
me, until they are afraid to come near the house of my
grandfather. She seems to have no kind of fear even of
our roughest men; and yet she looks with reverence and
awe upon the Counsellor. As for the wickedness, and
theft, and revelry around her, she says it is no
concern of hers, and they know their own business best.
By this way of regarding men she has won upon our
riders, so that she is almost free from all control of
place and season, and is allowed to pass where none
even of the youths may go. Being so wide, and short,
and flat, she has none to pay her compliments; and,
were there any, she would scorn them, as not being
Cornishmen. Sometimes she wanders far, by moonlight,
on the moors and up the rivers, to give her father (as
she says) another chance of finding her, and she comes
back not a wit defeated, or discouraged, or depressed,
but confident that he is only waiting for the proper

'Herein she sets me good example of a patience and
contentment hard for me to imitate. Oftentimes I am
vexed by things I cannot meddle with, yet which cannot
be kept from me, that I am at the point of flying from
this dreadful valley, and risking all that can betide
me in the unknown outer world. If it were not for my
grandfather, I would have done so long ago; but I
cannot bear that he should die with no gentle hand to
comfort him; and I fear to think of the conflict that
must ensue for the government, if there be a disputed

'Ah me! We are to be pitied greatly, rather than
condemned, by people whose things we have taken from
them; for I have read, and seem almost to understand
about it, that there are places on the earth where
gentle peace, and love of home, and knowledge of one's
neighbours prevail, and are, with reason, looked for as
the usual state of things. There honest folk may go to
work in the glory of the sunrise, with hope of coming
home again quite safe in the quiet evening, and finding
all their children; and even in the darkness they have
no fear of lying down, and dropping off to slumber, and
hearken to the wind of night, not as to an enemy trying
to find entrance, but a friend who comes to tell the
value of their comfort.

'Of all this golden ease I hear, but never saw the like
of it; and, haply, I shall never do so, being born to
turbulence. Once, indeed, I had the offer of escape,
and kinsman's aid, and high place in the gay, bright
world; and yet I was not tempted much, or, at least,
dared not to trust it. And it ended very sadly, so
dreadfully that I even shrink from telling you about
it; for that one terror changed my life, in a moment,
at a blow, from childhood and from thoughts of play and
commune with the flowers and trees, to a sense of death
and darkness, and a heavy weight of earth. Be content
now, Master Ridd ask me nothing more about it, so your
sleep be sounder.'

But I, John Ridd, being young and new, and very fond of
hearing things to make my blood to tingle, had no more
of manners than to urge poor Lorna onwards, hoping,
perhaps, in depth of heart, that she might have to hold
by me, when the worst came to the worst of it.
Therefore she went on again.



'It is not a twelvemonth yet, although it seems ten
years agone, since I blew the downy globe to learn the
time of day, or set beneath my chin the veinings of the
varnished buttercup, or fired the fox-glove cannonade,
or made a captive of myself with dandelion fetters; for
then I had not very much to trouble me in earnest, but
went about, romancing gravely, playing at bo-peep with
fear, making for myself strong heroes of gray rock or
fir-tree, adding to my own importance, as the children
love to do.

'As yet I had not truly learned the evil of our living,
the scorn of law, the outrage, and the sorrow caused to
others. It even was a point with all to hide the
roughness from me, to show me but the gallant side, and
keep in shade the other. My grandfather, Sir Ensor
Doone, had given strictest order, as I discovered
afterwards, that in my presence all should be seemly,
kind, and vigilant. Nor was it very difficult to keep
most part of the mischief from me, for no Doone ever
robs at home, neither do they quarrel much, except at
times of gambling. And though Sir Ensor Doone is now
so old and growing feeble, his own way he will have
still, and no one dare deny him. Even our fiercest and
most mighty swordsmen, seared from all sense of right
or wrong, yet have plentiful sense of fear, when
brought before that white-haired man. Not that he is
rough with them, or querulous, or rebukeful; but that
he has a strange soft smile, and a gaze they cannot
answer, and a knowledge deeper far than they have of
themselves. Under his protection, I am as safe from
all those men (some of whom are but little akin to me)
as if I slept beneath the roof of the King's Lord

'But now, at the time I speak of, one evening of last
summer, a horrible thing befell, which took all play of
childhood from me. The fifteenth day of last July was
very hot and sultry, long after the time of sundown;
and I was paying heed of it, because of the old saying
that if it rain then, rain will fall on forty days
thereafter. I had been long by the waterside at this
lower end of the valley, plaiting a little crown of
woodbine crocketed with sprigs of heath--to please my
grandfather, who likes to see me gay at supper-time.
Being proud of my tiara, which had cost some trouble, I
set it on my head at once, to save the chance of
crushing, and carrying my gray hat, ventured by a path
not often trod. For I must be home at the supper-time,
or grandfather would be exceeding wrath; and the worst
of his anger is that he never condescends to show it.

'Therefore, instead of the open mead, or the windings
of the river, I made short cut through the ash-trees
covert which lies in the middle of our vale, with the
water skirting or cleaving it. You have never been up
so far as that--at least to the best of my
knowledge--but you see it like a long gray spot, from
the top of the cliffs above us. Here I was not likely
to meet any of our people because the young ones are
afraid of some ancient tale about it, and the old ones
have no love of trees where gunshots are uncertain.

'It was more almost than dusk, down below the
tree-leaves, and I was eager to go through, and be
again beyond it. For the gray dark hung around me,
scarcely showing shadow; and the little light that
glimmered seemed to come up from the ground. For the
earth was strown with the winter-spread and coil of
last year's foliage, the lichened claws of chalky
twigs, and the numberless decay which gives a light in
its decaying. I, for my part, hastened shyly, ready to
draw back and run from hare, or rabbit, or small field-

'At a sudden turn of the narrow path, where it stopped
again to the river, a man leaped out from behind a
tree, and stopped me, and seized hold of me. I tried
to shriek, but my voice was still; I could only hear my

'"Now, Cousin Lorna, my good cousin," he said, with
ease and calmness; "your voice is very sweet, no doubt,
from all that I can see of you. But I pray you keep it
still, unless you would give to dusty death your very
best cousin and trusty guardian, Alan Brandir of Loch

'"You my guardian!" I said, for the idea was too
ludicrous; and ludicrous things always strike me first,
through some fault of nature.

'"I have in truth that honour, madam," he answered,
with a sweeping bow; "unless I err in taking you for
Mistress Lorna Doone."

'"You have not mistaken me. My name is Lorna Doone."

'He looked at me, with gravity, and was inclined to
make some claim to closer consideration upon the score
of kinship; but I shrunk back, and only said, "Yes, my
name is Lorna Doone."

'"Then I am your faithful guardian, Alan Brandir of
Loch Awe; called Lord Alan Brandir, son of a worthy
peer of Scotland. Now will you confide in me?"

'"I confide in you!" I cried, looking at him with
amazement; "why, you are not older than I am!"

'"Yes I am, three years at least. You, my ward, are
not sixteen. I, your worshipful guardian, am almost
nineteen years of age."

'Upon hearing this I looked at him, for that seemed
then a venerable age; but the more I looked the more I
doubted, although he was dressed quite like a man. He
led me in a courtly manner, stepping at his tallest to
an open place beside the water; where the light came as
in channel, and was made the most of by glancing waves
and fair white stones.

'"Now am I to your liking, cousin?" he asked, when I
had gazed at him, until I was almost ashamed, except at
such a stripling." Does my Cousin Lorna judge kindly
of her guardian, and her nearest kinsman? In a word,
is our admiration mutual?"

'"Truly I know not," I said; "but you seem
good-natured, and to have no harm in you. Do they
trust you with a sword?"

'For in my usage among men of stature and strong
presence, this pretty youth, so tricked and slender,
seemed nothing but a doll to me. Although he scared me
in the wood, now that I saw him in good twilight, lo!
he was but little greater than my little self; and so
tasselled and so ruffled with a mint of bravery, and a
green coat barred with red, and a slim sword hanging
under him, it was the utmost I could do to look at him

'"I fear that my presence hath scarce enough of
ferocity about it" (he gave a jerk to his sword as he
spoke, and clanked it on the brook-stones); "yet do I
assure you, cousin, that I am not without some prowess;
and many a master of defence hath this good sword of
mine disarmed. Now if the boldest and biggest robber
in all this charming valley durst so much as breathe
the scent of that flower coronal, which doth not adorn
but is adorned"--here he talked some nonsense--"I would
cleave him from head to foot, ere ever he could fly or

'"Hush!" I said; "talk not so loudly, or thou mayst
have to do both thyself, and do them both in vain."

'For he was quite forgetting now, in his bravery before
me, where he stood, and with whom he spoke, and how the
summer lightning shone above the hills and down the
hollow. And as I gazed on this slight fair youth,
clearly one of high birth and breeding (albeit
over-boastful), a chill of fear crept over me; because
he had no strength or substance, and would be no more
than a pin-cushion before the great swords of the

'"I pray you be not vexed with me," he answered, in a
softer voice; "for I have travelled far and sorely, for
the sake of seeing you. I know right well among whom I
am, and that their hospitality is more of the knife
than the salt-stand. Nevertheless I am safe enough,
for my foot is the fleetest in Scotland, and what are
these hills to me? Tush! I have seen some border
forays among wilder spirits and craftier men than these
be. Once I mind some years agone, when I was quite a
stripling lad--"

'"Worshipful guardian," I said, "there is no time now
for history. If thou art in no haste, I am, and
cannot stay here idling. Only tell me how I am akin
and under wardship to thee, and what purpose brings
thee here."

'"In order, cousin--all things in order, even with fair
ladies. First, I am thy uncle's son, my father is thy
mother's brother, or at least thy grandmother's--unless
I am deceived in that which I have guessed, and no
other man. For my father, being a leading lord in the
councils of King Charles the Second, appointed me to
learn the law, not for my livelihood, thank God, but
because he felt the lack of it in affairs of state.
But first your leave, young Mistress Lorna; I cannot
lay down legal maxims, without aid of smoke."

'He leaned against a willow-tree, and drawing from a
gilded box a little dark thing like a stick, placed it
between his lips, and then striking a flint on steel
made fire and caught it upon touchwood. With this he
kindled the tip of the stick, until it glowed with a
ring of red, and then he breathed forth curls of smoke,
blue and smelling on the air like spice. I had never
seen this done before, though acquainted with
tobacco-pipes; and it made me laugh, until I thought of
the peril that must follow it.

'"Cousin, have no fear," he said; "this makes me all
the safer; they will take me for a glow-worm, and thee
for the flower it shines upon. But to return--of law I
learned as you may suppose, but little; although I have
capacities. But the thing was far too dull for me.
All I care for is adventure, moving chance, and hot
encounter; therefore all of law I learned was how to
live without it. Nevertheless, for amusement's sake,
as I must needs be at my desk an hour or so in the
afternoon, I took to the sporting branch of the law,
the pitfalls, and the ambuscades; and of all the traps
to be laid therein, pedigrees are the rarest. There is
scarce a man worth a cross of butter, but what you may
find a hole in his shield within four generations. And
so I struck our own escutcheon, and it sounded hollow.
There is a point--but heed not that; enough that being
curious now, I followed up the quarry, and I am come to
this at last--we, even we, the lords of Loch Awe, have
an outlaw for our cousin, and I would we had more, if
they be like you."

'"Sir," I answered, being amused by his manner, which
was new to me (for the Doones are much in earnest),
"surely you count it no disgrace to be of kin to Sir
Ensor Doone, and all his honest family!"

'"If it be so, it is in truth the very highest honour
and would heal ten holes in our escutcheon. What noble
family but springs from a captain among robbers? Trade
alone can spoil our blood; robbery purifies it. The
robbery of one age is the chivalry of the next. We may
start anew, and vie with even the nobility of France,
if we can once enrol but half the Doones upon our

'"I like not to hear you speak of the Doones, as if
they were no more than that," I exclaimed, being now
unreasonable; "but will you tell me, once for all, sir,
how you are my guardian?"

'"That I will do. You are my ward because you were my
father's ward, under the Scottish law; and now my
father being so deaf, I have succeeded to that
right--at least in my own opinion--under which claim I
am here to neglect my trust no longer, but to lead you
away from scenes and deeds which (though of good repute
and comely) are not the best for young gentlewomen.
There spoke I not like a guardian? After that can you
mistrust me?"

'"But," said I, "good Cousin Alan (if I may so call
you), it is not meet for young gentlewomen to go away
with young gentlemen, though fifty times their
guardians. But if you will only come with me, and
explain your tale to my grandfather, he will listen to
you quietly, and take no advantage of you."

'"I thank you much, kind Mistress Lorna, to lead the
goose into the fox's den! But, setting by all thought
of danger, I have other reasons against it. Now, come
with your faithful guardian, child. I will pledge my
honour against all harm, and to bear you safe to
London. By the law of the realm, I am now entitled to
the custody of your fair person, and of all your

'"But, sir, all that you have learned of law, is how to
live without it."

'"Fairly met, fair cousin mine! Your wit will do me
credit, after a little sharpening. And there is none
to do that better than your aunt, my mother. Although
she knows not of my coming, she is longing to receive
you. Come, and in a few months' time you shall set the
mode at Court, instead of pining here, and weaving
coronals of daisies."

'I turned aside, and thought a little. Although he
seemed so light of mind, and gay in dress and manner, I
could not doubt his honesty; and saw, beneath his
jaunty air, true mettle and ripe bravery. Scarce had I
thought of his project twice, until he spoke of my
aunt, his mother, but then the form of my dearest
friend, my sweet Aunt Sabina, seemed to come and bid me
listen, for this was what she prayed for. Moreover I
felt (though not as now) that Doone Glen was no place
for me or any proud young maiden. But while I thought,
the yellow lightning spread behind a bulk of clouds,
three times ere the flash was done, far off and void of
thunder; and from the pile of cloud before it, cut as
from black paper, and lit to depths of blackness by the
blaze behind it, a form as of an aged man, sitting in a
chair loose-mantled, seemed to lift a hand and warn.

'This minded me of my grandfather, and all the care I
owed him. Moreover, now the storm was rising and I
began to grow afraid; for of all things awful to me
thunder is the dreadfulest. It doth so growl, like a
lion coming, and then so roll, and roar, and rumble,
out of a thickening darkness, then crack like the last
trump overhead through cloven air and terror, that all
my heart lies low and quivers, like a weed in water. I
listened now for the distant rolling of the great black
storm, and heard it, and was hurried by it. But the
youth before me waved his rolled tobacco at it, and
drawled in his daintiest tone and manner,--

'"The sky is having a smoke, I see, and dropping
sparks, and grumbling. I should have thought these
Exmoor hills too small to gather thunder."

'"I cannot go, I will not go with you, Lord Alan
Brandir," I answered, being vexed a little by those
words of his. "You are not grave enough for me, you
are not old enough for me. My Aunt Sabina would not
have wished it; nor would I leave my grandfather,
without his full permission. I thank you much for
coming, sir; but be gone at once by the way you came;
and pray how did you come, sir?"

'"Fair cousin, you will grieve for this; you will
mourn, when you cannot mend it. I would my mother had
been here, soon would she have persuaded you. And
yet," he added, with the smile of his accustomed
gaiety, "it would have been an unco thing, as we say in
Scotland, for her ladyship to have waited upon you, as
her graceless son has done, and hopes to do again ere
long. Down the cliffs I came, and up them I must make
way back again. Now adieu, fair Cousin Lorna, I see
you are in haste tonight; but I am right proud of my
guardianship. Give me just one flower for token"--
here he kissed his hand to me, and I threw him a truss
of woodbine--"adieu, fair cousin, trust me well, I will
soon be here again."

'"That thou never shalt, sir," cried a voice as loud as
a culverin; and Carver Doone had Alan Brandir as a
spider hath a fly. The boy made a little shriek at
first, with the sudden shock and the terror; then he
looked, methought, ashamed of himself, and set his face
to fight for it. Very bravely he strove and struggled,
to free one arm and grasp his sword; but as well might
an infant buried alive attempt to lift his gravestone.
Carver Doone, with his great arms wrapped around the
slim gay body, smiled (as I saw by the flash from
heaven) at the poor young face turned up to him; then
(as a nurse bears off a child, who is loath to go to
bed), he lifted the youth from his feet, and bore him
away into the darkness.

'I was young then. I am older now; older by ten years,
in thought, although it is not a twelvemonth since. If
that black deed were done again, I could follow, and
could combat it, could throw weak arms on the murderer,
and strive to be murdered also. I am now at home with
violence; and no dark death surprises me.

'But, being as I was that night, the horror overcame
me. The crash of thunder overhead, the last despairing
look, the death-piece framed with blaze of
lightning--my young heart was so affrighted that I
could not gasp. My breath went from me, and I knew not
where I was, or who, or what. Only that I lay, and
cowered, under great trees full of thunder; and could
neither count, nor moan, nor have my feet to help me.

'Yet hearkening, as a coward does, through the brushing
of the wind, and echo of far noises, I heard a sharp
sound as of iron, and a fall of heavy wood. No unmanly
shriek came with it, neither cry for mercy. Carver
Doone knows what it was; and so did Alan Brandir.'

Here Lorna Doone could tell no more, being overcome
with weeping. Only through her tears she whispered,
as a thing too bad to tell, that she had seen that
giant Carver, in a few days afterwards, smoking a
little round brown stick, like those of her poor
cousin. I could not press her any more with
questions, or for clearness; although I longed very
much to know whether she had spoken of it to her
grandfather or the Counsellor. But she was now in such
condition, both of mind and body, from the force of her
own fear multiplied by telling it, that I did nothing
more than coax her, at a distance humbly; and so that
she could see that some one was at least afraid of her.
This (although I knew not women in those days, as now I
do, and never shall know much of it), this, I say, so
brought her round, that all her fear was now for me,
and how to get me safely off, without mischance to any
one. And sooth to say, in spite of longing just to see
if Master Carver could have served me such a trick--as
it grew towards the dusk, I was not best pleased to be
there; for it seemed a lawless place, and some of
Lorna's fright stayed with me as I talked it away from


After hearing that tale from Lorna, I went home in
sorry spirits, having added fear for her, and misery
about, to all my other ailments. And was it not quite
certain now that she, being owned full cousin to a peer
and lord of Scotland (although he was a dead one), must
have nought to do with me, a yeoman's son, and bound to
be the father of more yeomen? I had been very sorry
when first I heard about that poor young popinjay, and
would gladly have fought hard for him; but now it
struck me that after all he had no right to be there,
prowling (as it were) for Lorna, without any
invitation: and we farmers love not trespass. Still,
if I had seen the thing, I must have tried to save him.

Moreover, I was greatly vexed with my own hesitation,
stupidity, or shyness, or whatever else it was, which
had held me back from saying, ere she told her story,
what was in my heart to say, videlicet, that I must die
unless she let me love her. Not that I was fool enough
to think that she would answer me according to my
liking, or begin to care about me for a long time yet;
if indeed she ever should, which I hardly dared to
hope. But that I had heard from men more skillful in
the matter that it is wise to be in time, that so the
maids may begin to think, when they know that they are
thought of. And, to tell the truth, I had bitter
fears, on account of her wondrous beauty, lest some
young fellow of higher birth and finer parts, and
finish, might steal in before poor me, and cut me out
altogether. Thinking of which, I used to double my
great fist, without knowing it, and keep it in my
pocket ready.

But the worst of all was this, that in my great dismay
and anguish to see Lorna weeping so, I had promised not
to cause her any further trouble from anxiety and fear
of harm. And this, being brought to practice, meant
that I was not to show myself within the precincts of
Glen Doone, for at least another month. Unless indeed
(as I contrived to edge into the agreement) anything
should happen to increase her present trouble and every
day's uneasiness. In that case, she was to throw a
dark mantle, or covering of some sort, over a large
white stone which hung within the entrance to her
retreat--I mean the outer entrance--and which, though
unseen from the valley itself, was (as I had observed)
conspicuous from the height where I stood with Uncle

Now coming home so sad and weary, yet trying to console
myself with the thought that love o'erleapeth rank, and
must still be lord of all, I found a shameful thing
going on, which made me very angry. For it needs must
happen that young Marwood de Whichehalse, only son of
the Baron, riding home that very evening, from chasing
of the Exmoor bustards, with his hounds and serving-
men, should take the short cut through our farmyard,
and being dry from his exercise, should come and ask
for drink. And it needs must happen also that there
should be none to give it to him but my sister Annie.
I more than suspect that he had heard some report of
our Annie's comeliness, and had a mind to satisfy
himself upon the subject. Now, as he took the large
ox-horn of our quarantine-apple cider (which we always
keep apart from the rest, being too good except for the
quality), he let his fingers dwell on Annie's, by some
sort of accident, while he lifted his beaver gallantly,
and gazed on her face in the light from the west. Then
what did Annie do (as she herself told me afterwards)
but make her very best curtsey to him, being pleased
that he was pleased with her, while she thought what a
fine young man he was and so much breeding about him!
And in truth he was a dark, handsome fellow, hasty,
reckless, and changeable, with a look of sad destiny in
his black eyes that would make any woman pity him.
What he was thinking of our Annie is not for me to say,
although I may think that you could not have found
another such maiden on Exmoor, except (of course) my

Though young Squire Marwood was so thirsty, he spent
much time over his cider, or at any rate over the
ox-horn, and he made many bows to Annie, and drank
health to all the family, and spoke of me as if I had
been his very best friend at Blundell's; whereas he
knew well enough all the time that we had nought to say
to one another; he being three years older, and
therefore of course disdaining me. But while he was
casting about perhaps for some excuse to stop longer,
and Annie was beginning to fear lest mother should come
after her, or Eliza be at the window, or Betty up in
pigs' house, suddenly there came up to them, as if from
the very heart of the earth, that long, low, hollow,
mysterious sound which I spoke of in winter.

The young man started in his saddle, let the horn fall
on the horse-steps, and gazed all around in wonder;
while as for Annie, she turned like a ghost, and tried
to slam the door, but failed through the violence of
her trembling; (for never till now had any one heard it
so close at hand as you might say) or in the mere fall
of the twilight. And by this time there was no man, at
least in our parish, but knew--for the Parson himself
had told us so--that it was the devil groaning because
the Doones were too many for him.

Marwood de Whichehalse was not so alarmed but what he
saw a fine opportunity. He leaped from his horse, and
laid hold of dear Annie in a highly comforting manner;
and she never would tell us about it (being so shy and
modest), whether in breathing his comfort to her he
tried to take some from her pure lips. I hope he did
not, because that to me would seem not the deed of a
gentleman, and he was of good old family.

At this very moment, who should come into the end of
the passage upon them but the heavy writer of these
doings I, John Ridd myself, and walking the faster, it
may be, on account of the noise I mentioned. I entered
the house with some wrath upon me at seeing the
gazehounds in the yard; for it seems a cruel thing to
me to harass the birds in the breeding-time. And to my
amazement there I saw Squire Marwood among the
milk-pans with his arm around our Annie's waist, and
Annie all blushing and coaxing him off, for she was not
come to scold yet.

Perhaps I was wrong; God knows, and if I was, no doubt
I shall pay for it; but I gave him the flat of my hand
on his head, and down he went in the thick of the
milk-pans. He would have had my fist, I doubt, but for
having been at school with me; and after that it is
like enough he would never have spoken another word.
As it was, he lay stunned, with the cream running on
him; while I took poor Annie up and carried her in to
mother, who had heard the noise and was frightened.

Concerning this matter I asked no more, but held myself
ready to bear it out in any form convenient, feeling
that I had done my duty, and cared not for the
consequence; only for several days dear Annie seemed
frightened rather than grateful. But the oddest result
of it was that Eliza, who had so despised me, and made
very rude verses about me, now came trying to sit on my
knee, and kiss me, and give me the best of the pan.
However, I would not allow it, because I hate sudden

Another thing also astonished me--namely, a beautiful
letter from Marwood de Whichehalse himself (sent by a
groom soon afterwards), in which he apologised to me,
as if I had been his equal, for his rudeness to my
sister, which was not intended in the least, but came
of their common alarm at the moment, and his desire to
comfort her. Also he begged permission to come and see
me, as an old schoolfellow, and set everything straight
between us, as should be among honest Blundellites.

All this was so different to my idea of fighting out a
quarrel, when once it is upon a man, that I knew not
what to make of it, but bowed to higher breeding. Only
one thing I resolved upon, that come when he would he
should not see Annie. And to do my sister justice, she
had no desire to see him.

However, I am too easy, there is no doubt of that,
being very quick to forgive a man, and very slow to
suspect, unless he hath once lied to me. Moreover, as
to Annie, it had always seemed to me (much against my
wishes) that some shrewd love of a waiting sort was
between her and Tom Faggus: and though Tom had made his
fortune now, and everybody respected him, of course he
was not to be compared, in that point of
respectability, with those people who hanged the
robbers when fortune turned against them.

So young Squire Marwood came again, as though I had
never smitten him, and spoke of it in as light a way as
if we were still at school together. It was not in my
nature, of course, to keep any anger against him; and I
knew what a condescension it was for him to visit us.
And it is a very grievous thing, which touches small
landowners, to see an ancient family day by day
decaying: and when we heard that Ley Barton itself, and
all the Manor of Lynton were under a heavy mortgage
debt to John Lovering of Weare-Gifford, there was not
much, in our little way, that we would not gladly do or
suffer for the benefit of De Whichehalse.

Meanwhile the work of the farm was toward, and every
day gave us more ado to dispose of what itself was
doing. For after the long dry skeltering wind of March
and part of April, there had been a fortnight of soft
wet; and when the sun came forth again, hill and
valley, wood and meadow, could not make enough of him.
Many a spring have I seen since then, but never yet two
springs alike, and never one so beautiful. Or was it
that my love came forth and touched the world with

The spring was in our valley now; creeping first for
shelter shyly in the pause of the blustering wind.
There the lambs came bleating to her, and the orchis
lifted up, and the thin dead leaves of clover lay for
the new ones to spring through. There the stiffest
things that sleep, the stubby oak, and the saplin'd
beech, dropped their brown defiance to her, and
prepared for a soft reply.

While her over-eager children (who had started forth to
meet her, through the frost and shower of sleet),
catkin'd hazel, gold-gloved withy, youthful elder, and
old woodbine, with all the tribe of good hedge-climbers
(who must hasten while haste they may)--was there one
of them that did not claim the merit of coming first?

There she stayed and held her revel, as soon as the
fear of frost was gone; all the air was a fount of
freshness, and the earth of gladness, and the laughing
waters prattled of the kindness of the sun.

But all this made it much harder for us, plying the hoe
and rake, to keep the fields with room upon them for
the corn to tiller. The winter wheat was well enough,
being sturdy and strong-sided; but the spring wheat and
the barley and the oats were overrun by ill weeds
growing faster. Therefore, as the old saying is,--

Farmer, that thy wife may thrive,
Let not burr and burdock wive;
And if thou wouldst keep thy son,
See that bine and gith have none.

So we were compelled to go down the field and up it,
striking in and out with care where the green blades
hung together, so that each had space to move in and to
spread its roots abroad. And I do assure you now,
though you may not believe me, it was harder work to
keep John Fry, Bill Dadds, and Jem Slocomb all in a

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