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lying here and there, destroy the sweet savour
of the solitude. For, we are told, the men who
come to eat and drink hereabouts, see in the vast
forest bowl, which the valley lays far below us,
only so much space into which they may cast
empty champagne bottles. Scraps of letters lie
about amid the ferns, and moss, and leaves. Very
black-faced sheep are at hand, with dead leaves
clinging to their ragged wool; and they stare at us,
asking us what our business can be in this ample
solitudewe, who neither nibble grass, nor
gather pollen from the flowers, nor munch sweet
roots. Well, we shall not long disturb our
inquiring, meek-eyed friends, but leave them with
their white lambs, to their fate, and caper-sauce.
We go skippinglike mountain goats with the
rheumatismfrom stone to stone; creeping
through leafy caverns and over bulging roots,
down and still down to the Wharfe; some way
off, an it please you, from the Strid. Just,
indeed, to that point, where the waters are
spread and shallowed, over a broad and an even
bed, and where the Strid's scattered foam floats
in flakes, like water-lilies. We ford the stream
here. It is giddy work, but we are eager to be
in the Valley of Desolation. It is stiff work up
the steep hill, still through the forest, to the
grey, weather-beaten old farm on the crown of
the slope. But see, an old oakit is said some
thousand years oldat the farm-house gate! It
has fallen in two, and half the trunk rests now
upon its topmost branches, which are buried in
the earth. The centre of the trunk is so much
dust; yet does the old giant bear a few acorns
every year. The farmerglad to speak with
passing travellers in his solitudeshuffles out to
meet us, and is garrulous. Ay, the old tree
bore five acorns last year, and he keeps them in
a bottle.

"Plant them," we said. "Make no break in
Nature's circle. Consider that, it may be,
from the sap of this oak grew the planks that
bore Blake and Nelson to victory. It may be
that many of our ships of war, which 'guard
our native seas,' are but the babies of this
expiring giant." But the old man shook his
head. Nelson only recalled to him the days
when "Boney" was expected in England;
when fires had been prepared upon the lofty
summit of Arthur's Seat, to be lit when the
invader had landed; and when meat was as dear
as it is now. The old man, being a keeper of
sheep upon the hills, would not have proved
inconsolable, it would appear, had the match been
put to the beacon fire. Courteously the
ancient tiller of the soil, and shearer of great
flocks of sheep, directed us on our way, through
his own orchard, past his spacious kitchen (we
confess we could have tarried in that cosy
chimney-corner for a few minutes, if only to
count the hams and sides of bacon above us),
and pointed across a field, where his team was
dragging a steady plough, into a deep, mysterious

The Valley of Desolationand wherefore?
It is difficult to describe a wilderness of rock,
and root, and branch, with wild streams
tumbling amid the ruins, in all directions; a wilderness
where everything is dead, or dying. Where
there are trees, by dozens, riven in twain by the
destroying lightning. Where charred branches
dangle from trunks in which some weak sap
still sluggishly moves. Where even the bridge,
constructed of boughs, to enable the wayfarer to
cross the stream near the waterfall, has fallen
in, and lies in mad confusion amid the rocks and
rushing waters. Where a rough hut, with a
roof like Robinson Crusoe's hat, is propped
against a ledge of blue rock, and into which
the trunk of a dead tree has been rolled, that
the luxurious student of a natural wreck may eat
his crust and sip his pitcher of water in
comfort. At every yard sharp blue rock jets out of
the brown earth, defying man to sow seed here.
Not a green spot for the eye to rest upon.
Not a tree straight and flourishing; but all in
contortions, charred and broken. Here is one,
indeed, that, in mortal agony, has endeavoured
to turn a somersault, and throw its roots in the
air, leaving its crown upon the earth. But it
expiredits ambition only half satisfiedits
crown just twisted back to the earth. Another
ghost of the Valley of Desolationan old oak,
with almost human arms: deadwith two
sockets burnt in the crown of its gnarled trunk.
Here, in short, nothing prospers save death.
The sheep are lean that try to nibble a stomachful
from the dry, grey grass. Bees wander
hence, angrily, to the flowers that bloom lustily
upon the banks of the Wharfe. The wayfarer
treads hastily through the voiceless solitude.
It would seem that even cottagers decline to
gather here the abundant dead wood.

"Take us back at a smart pace, Yorkshire
coachman of the ruddy cheek, to Miss Winterburn's
snug parlour. Let us speedily see the
black beams of the old house above us; and, at
the point of our fork, some of that homely food
that makes stout-hearted men, for which you are
celebrated hereabouts. She will have found
some trout, too, for us, I know."

On the 31st of May will be published, price
One Shilling,
HOUSE, &c.,
The First Monthly Part of
With Two Illustrations on Steel by HABLOT K. BROWNE.
To be completed in Eight Monthly Parts.
CHAPMAN and HALL, 193, Piccadilly, W.,
"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" Office, 11, Wellington-street
North, London, W.C.