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  The Mill Henry van Dyke

How the Month of May came to the Mill, and the Delay was Made Longer

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Now when the month of May came to the Mill it brought a plenty of sweet flowers, and Lirette wrought in the garden. With her, when the day was spent and the sun rested upon the edge of the hill, went Martimor, and she showed him all her flowers that were blue. But none of them was like the flower on his shield.

"Is it this?" she cried, giving him a violet. "Too dark," said he.

"Then here it is," she said, plucking a posy of forget-me-not.

"Too light," said he.

"Surely this is it," and she brought him a spray of blue-bells.

"Too slender," said he, "and well I ween that I may not find that flower, till I ride farther in my quest and achieve great adventure."

Then was the Maid cast down, and Martimor was fain to comfort her.

So while they walked thus in the garden, the days were fair and still, and the river ran lowly and slowly, as it were full of gentleness, and Flumen had amended him of his evil ways. But full of craft and guile was that false foe. For now that the gates were firm and strong, he found a way down through the corner of the dam, where a water-rat had burrowed, and there the water went seeping and creeping, gnawing ever at the hidden breach. Presently in the night came a mizzling rain, and far among the hills a cloud brake open, and the mill-pond flowed over and under, and the dam crumbled away, and the Mill shook, and the whole river ran roaring through the garden.

Then was Martimor wonderly wroth, because the river had blotted out the Maid's flowers. "And one day," she cried, holding fast to him and trembling, "one day Flumen will have me, when thou art gone."

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"Not so," said he, "by the faith of my body that foul fiend shall never have thee. I will bind him, I will compel him, or die in the deed."

So he went forth, upward along the river, till he came to a strait Place among the hills. There was a great rock full of caves and hollows, and there the water whirled and burbled in furious wise. "Here," thought he, "is the hold of the knave Flumen, and if I may cut through above this rock and make a dyke with a gate in it, to let down the water another way when the floods come, so shall I spoil him of his craft and put him to the worse."

Then he toiled day and night to make the dyke, and ever by night Flumen came and strove with him, and did his power to cast him down and strangle him. But Martimor stood fast and drave him back.

And at last, as they wrestled and whapped together, they fell headlong in the stream.

"Ho-o!" shouted Flumen, "now will I drown thee, and mar the Mill and the Maid."

But Martimor gripped him by the neck and thrust his head betwixt the leaves of the gate and shut them fast, so that his eyes stood out like gobbets of foam, and his black tongue hung from his mouth like a water-weed.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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