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The Mill Henry van Dyke

How Martimor Came to the Mill a Stayed in a Delay

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So by wildsome ways in strange countries and through many waters and valleys rode Martimor forty days, but adventure met him none, blow the wind never so fierce or fickle. Neither dragons, nor giants, nor false knights, nor distressed ladies, nor fays, nor kings imprisoned could he find.

"These are ill times for adventure," said he, "the world is full of meat and sleepy. Now must I ride farther afield and undertake some ancient, famous quest wherein other knights have failed and fallen. Either I shall follow the Questing Beast with Sir Palamides, or I shall find Merlin at the great stone whereunder the Lady of the Lake enchanted him and deliver him from that enchantment, or I shall assay the cleansing of the Forest Perilous, or I shall win the favour of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, or mayhap I shall adventure the quest of the Sangreal. One or other of these will I achieve, or bleed the best blood of my body." Thus pondering and dreaming he came by the road down a gentle hill with close woods on either hand; and so into a valley with a swift river flowing through it; and on the river a Mill.

So white it stood among the trees, and so merrily whirred the wheel as the water turned it, and so bright blossomed the flowers in the garden, that Martimor had joy of the sight, for it minded him of his own country. "But here is no adventure," thought he, and made to ride by.

Even then came a young maid suddenly through the garden crying and wringing her hands. And when she saw him she cried him help. At this Martimor alighted quickly and ran into the garden, where the young maid soon led him to the millpond, which was great and deep, and made him understand that her little hound was swept away by the water and was near to perishing.

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There saw he a red and white brachet, caught by the swift stream that ran into the race, fast swimming as ever he could swim, yet by no means able to escape. Then Martimor stripped off his harness and leaped into the water and did marvellously to rescue the little hound. But the fierce river dragged his legs, and buffeted him, and hurtled at him, and drew him down, as it were an enemy wrestling with him, so that he had much ado to come where the brachet was, and more to win back again, with the brachet in his arm, to the dry land.

Which when he had done he was clean for-spent and fell upon the ground as a dead man. At this the young maid wept yet more bitterly than she had wept for her hound, and cried aloud, "Alas, if so goodly a man should spend his life for my little brachet!" So she took his head upon her knee and cherished him and beat the palms of his hands, and the hound licked his face. And when Martimor opened his eyes he saw the face of the maid that it was fair as any flower.

Then was she shamed, and put him gently from her knee, and began to thank him and to ask with what she might reward him for the saving of the brachet.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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