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  The Mill Henry van Dyke

How the Mill was in Danger and the Delay Endured

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In the morning Martimor lay late and thought large thoughts of his quest, and whither it might lead him, and to what honour it should bring him. As he dreamed thus, suddenly he heard in the hall below a trampling of feet and a shouting, with the voice of Lirette crying and shrieking. With that he sprang out of his bed, and caught up his sword and dagger, leaping lightly and fiercely down the stair.

There he saw three foul churls, whereof two strove with the miller, beating him with great clubs, while the third would master the Maid and drag her away to do her shame, but she fought shrewdly. Then Martimor rushed upon the churls, shouting for joy, and there was a great medley of breaking chairs and tables and cursing and smiting, and with his sword he gave horrible strokes.

One of the knaves that fought with the miller, he smote upon the shoulder and clave him to the navel. And at the other he foined fiercely so that the point of the sword went through his back and stuck fast in the wall. But the third knave, that was the biggest and the blackest, and strove to bear away the Maid, left bold of her, and leaped upon Martimor and caught him by the middle and crushed him so that his ribs cracked.

Thus they weltered and wrung together, and now one of them was above and now the other; and ever as they wallowed Martimor smote him with his dagger, but there came forth no blood, only water.

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Then the black churl broke away from him and ran out at the door of the mill, and Martimor after. So they ran through the garden to the river, and there the churl sprang into the water, and swept away raging and foaming. And as he went he shouted, "Yet will I put thee to the worse, and mar the Mill, and have the Maid!"'

Then Martimor cried, "Never while I live shalt thou mar the Mill or have the Maid, thou foul, black, misbegotten churl!" So he returned to the Mill, and there the damsel Lirette made him to understand that these three churls were long time enemies of the Mill, and sought ever to destroy it and to do despite to her and her father. One of them was Ignis, and another was Ventus, and these were the twain that he had smitten. But the third, that fled down the river (and he was ever the fiercest and the most outrageous), his name was Flumen, for he dwelt in the caves of the stream, and was the master of it before the Mill was built.

"And now," wept the Maid, "he must have had his will with me and with the Mill, but for God's mercy, thanked be our Lord Jesus!"

"Thank me too," said Mlartimor.

"So I do," said Lirette, and she kissed him. "Yet am I heavy at heart and fearful, for my father is sorely mishandled and his arm is broken, so that he cannot tend the Mill nor guard it. And Flumen is escaped; surely he will harm us again. Now I know not, where I shall look for help."

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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