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A Prisoner in Fairyland

Chapter 12
O star benignant and serene,
I take the good to-morrow,
That fills from verge to verge my dream,
With all its joy and sorrow!
The old sweet spell is unforgot
That turns to June December;
And, though the world remember not,
Love, we would remember.
Life and Death, W. E. HENLEY.
And Rogers went over to unpack. It was soon done. He sat at his window in the
carpenter's house and enjoyed the peace. The spell of evening stole down from
the woods. London and all his strenuous life seemed very far away. Bourcelles
drew up beside him, opened her robe, let down her forest hair, and whispered to
him with her voice of many fountains....
She lies just now within the fringe of an enormous shadow, for the sun has
dipped behind the blue-domed mountains that keep back France. Small hands of
scattered mist creep from the forest, fingering the vineyards that troop down
towards the lake. A dog barks. Gygi, the gendarme, leaves the fields and goes
home to take his uniform from its peg. Pere Langel walks among his beehives.
There is a distant tinkling of cow-bells from the heights, where isolated pastures
gleam like a patchwork quilt between the spread of forest; and farther down a
train from Paris or Geneva, booming softly, leaves a trail of smoke against the
background of the Alps where still the sunshine lingers.
But trains, somehow, do not touch the village; they merely pass it. Busy with
vines, washed by its hill-fed stream, swept by the mountain winds, it lies
unchallenged by the noisy world, remote, un-noticed, half forgotten. And on its
outskirts stands the giant poplar that guards it--la sentinelle the peasants call it,
because its lofty crest, rising to every wind, sends down the street first warning of
any coming change. They see it bend or hear the rattle of its leaves. The coup de
Joran, most sudden and devastating of mountain winds, is on the way from the
precipice of the Creux du Van. It comes howling like artillery down the deep
Gorges de l'Areuse. They run to fasten windows, collect the washing from roof
and garden, drive the cattle into shelter, and close the big doors of the barns.
The children clap their hands and cry to Gygi, 'Plus vite! Plus vite!' The lake turns
dark. Ten minutes later it is raging with an army of white horses like the sea.
Darkness drapes the village. It comes from the whole long line of Jura, riding its
troop of purple shadows--slowly curtaining out the world. For the carpenter's
house stands by itself, apart. Perched upon a knoll beside his little patch of
vineyard, it commands perspective. From his upper window Rogers saw and
High up against the fading sky ridges of limestone cliff shine out here and there,
and upon the vast slopes of Boudry--l'immense geant de Boudry--lies a flung
cloak of forest that knows no single seam. The smoke from bucheron fires,