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The Lady of the Shroud

Book 2. Vissarion
Letter from Rupert Sent Leger, Castle of Vissarion, the Spear of Ivan, Land of the Blue
Mountains, to Miss Janet MacKelpie, Croom Castle, Ross-shire, N.B.
January 23, 1907.
MY DEAREST AUNT JANET,
As you see, I am here at last. Having got my formal duty done, as you made me promise-
-my letters reporting arrival to Sir Colin and Mr. Trent are lying sealed in front of me
ready to post (for nothing shall go before yours)--I am free to speak to you.
This is a most lovely place, and I hope you will like it. I am quite sure you will. We
passed it in the steamer coming from Trieste to Durazzo. I knew the locality from the
chart, and it was pointed out to me by one of the officers with whom I had become quite
friendly, and who kindly showed me interesting places whenever we got within sight of
shore. The Spear of Ivan, on which the Castle stands, is a headland running well out into
the sea. It is quite a peculiar place--a sort of headland on a headland, jutting out into a
deep, wide bay, so that, though it is a promontory, it is as far away from the traffic of
coast life as anything you can conceive. The main promontory is the end of a range of
mountains, and looms up vast, towering over everything, a mass of sapphire blue. I can
well understand how the country came to be called the "Land of the Blue Mountains," for
it is all mountains, and they are all blue! The coast-line is magnificent--what is called
"iron-bound"--being all rocky; sometimes great frowning precipices; sometimes jutting
spurs of rock; again little rocky islets, now and again clad with trees and verdure, at other
places stark and bare. Elsewhere are little rocky bays and indentations--always rock, and
often with long, interesting caves. Some of the shores of the bays are sandy, or else ridges
of beautiful pebbles, where the waves make endless murmur.
But of all the places I have seen--in this land or any other--the most absolutely beautiful
is Vissarion. It stands at the ultimate point of the promontory--I mean the little, or, rather,
lesser promontory--that continues on the spur of the mountain range. For the lesser
promontory or extension of the mountain is in reality vast; the lowest bit of cliff along the
sea-front is not less than a couple of hundred feet high. That point of rock is really very
peculiar. I think Dame Nature must, in the early days of her housekeeping--or, rather,
house-BUILDING--have intended to give her little child, man, a rudimentary lesson in
self-protection. It is just a natural bastion such as a titanic Vauban might have designed in
primeval times. So far as the Castle is concerned, it is alone visible from the sea. Any
enemy approaching could see only that frowning wall of black rock, of vast height and
perpendicular steepness. Even the old fortifications which crown it are not built, but cut
in the solid rock. A long narrow creek of very deep water, walled in by high, steep cliffs,
runs in behind the Castle, bending north and west, making safe and secret anchorage. Into
the creek falls over a precipice a mountain-stream, which never fails in volume of water.
On the western shore of that creek is the Castle, a huge pile of buildings of every style of
 
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