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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 36
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 36 Post by :dan7530 Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :1338

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 36


I saw that I was standing in a narrow muddy road, with deep ruts, which led up from the bank of a wide river--a tidal river, as I could see, from the great mudflats fringed with seaweed. The sun blazed down upon the whole scene. Just below was a sort of landing-place, where lay a number of long, low boats, shaded with mats curved like the hood of a waggon; a little farther out was a big quaint ship, with a high stern and yellow sails. Beyond the river rose great hills, thickly clothed with vegetation. In front of me, along the roadside, stood a number of mud-walled huts, thatched with some sort of reeds; beyond these, on the left, was the entrance of a larger house, surrounded with high walls, the tops of trees, with a strange red foliage, appearing over the enclosure, and the tiled roofs of buildings. Farther still were the walls of a great town, huge earthworks crowned with plastered fortifications, and a gate, with a curious roof to it, running out at each end into horns carved of wood. At some distance, out of a grove to the right, rose a round tapering tower of mouldering brickwork. The rest of the nearer country seemed laid out in low plantations of some green-leaved shrub, with rice-fields interspersed in the more level ground.

There were only a few people in sight. Some men with arms and legs bare, and big hats made of reeds, were carrying up goods from the landing-place, and a number of children, pale and small-eyed, dirty and half-naked, were playing about by the roadside. I went a few paces up the road, and stopped beside a house, a little larger than the rest, with a rough verandah by the door. Here a middle-aged man was seated, plaiting something out of reeds, but evidently listening for sounds within the house, with an air half-tranquil, half-anxious; by him on a slab stood something that looked like a drum, and a spray of azalea flowers. While I watched, a man of a rather superior rank, with a dark flowered jacket and a curious hat, looked out of a door which opened on the verandah and beckoned him in; a sound of low subdued wailing came out from the house, and I knew that my time was hard at hand. It was strange and terrible to me at the moment to realise that my life was to be bound up, I knew not for how long, with this remote place; but I was conscious too of a deep excitement, as of a man about to start upon a race on which much depends. There came a groan from the interior of the house, and through the half-open door I could see two or three dim figures standing round a bed in a dark and ill-furnished room. One of the figures bent down, and I could see the face of a woman, very pale, the eyes closed, and the lips open, her arms drawn up over her head as in an agony of pain. Then a sudden dimness came over me, and a deadly faintness. I stumbled through the verandah to the open door. The darkness closed in upon me, and I knew no more.

(Arthur C. Benson's Novel: Child of the Dawn)

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