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The Wanderers

The Wanderers
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Title: The Wanderers
Release Date: 2018-07-13
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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By Mary Johnston


THE WANDERERS.

THE FORTUNES OF GARIN. Illustrated.

THE WITCH. With frontispiece.

HAGAR.

THE LONG ROLL. The first of two books dealing with the war betweenthe States. With Illustrations in color by N. C. Wyeth.

CEASE FIRING. The second of two books dealing with the war betweenthe States. With Illustrations in color by N. C. Wyeth.

LEWIS RAND. With Illustrations in color by F. C. Yohn.

AUDREY. With Illustrations in color by F. C. Yohn.

PRISONERS OF HOPE. With Frontispiece.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD. With 8 Illustrations by Howard Pyle, E. B.Thompson, A. W. Betts, and Emlen McConnell.


THE GODDESS OF REASON. A Drama.

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
Boston and New York

THE WANDERERS

TheWanderersbyMary JohnstonBoston & New York

COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY MARY JOHNSTON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Published September 1917
The Riverside Press
CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
U . S . A

CONTENTS

I.The Forest 1
II.The Cave13
III.Big Trouble31
IV.Property59
V.What’s in a Name?86
VI.The Prophet114
VII.The Amazon139
VIII.The Priestess of Marduk157
IX.Glaucon and Myrina178
X.The Pearl of the Deep199
XI.The Banks of Jumuna223
XII.Valerian and Valeria238
XIII.Alleda and Alaran266
XIV.The Hermits292
XV.The End of the World313
XVI.Moonlight345
XVII.Thekla and Eberhard361
XVIII.The Right of Kings389
XIX.Jean and Espérance409

{1}

THE WANDERERS

CHAPTER I
THE FOREST

Trees and trees and trees—a world of trees! Little size and middle sizeand giant size, short and tall, slender and thick, broad-leafed,narrow-leafed, rough-barked, smooth-barked, dark green, bright green,one solid hue, or spangled or variegated with many-coloured flowers,trees that bore nuts, trees that bore fruit, and trees starkly idle anduseless to a frugivorous folk! Trees and trees and trees—trees leaningtheir heads against one another, trees pressing side to side, trees tiedtogether by the endless vines going looping through the world; trees andtrees and trees! Overhead, through the network, showed small pieces ofsky; big pieces of sky were seen only when you came to streams. Sunlightstruck down in flakes or darts, never as brightness formless andunconfined. At night, looking up from the nestlike arrangements ofsticks and forest débris heaped between the forks of trees, three orfour stars might be seen at once. The host of stars was rarely seen. Thebig animals, going down to the wider streams to drink, might see theheavens, but, as a general thing, the tree-folk saw only the forest. Asa general thing. Occasionally, in their lives, the horizon inexplicablywidened or the zenith went up higher. The big animals stood and walkedso that their eyes were not of much use when it{2} came to things on top.The tree-folk had learned how to get about differently, and they hadhands, and they stood more or less uprightly, and they used their eyesso that they saw things on top as well as things around them, and theywere beginning to think, and they had great curiosity.

She swung herself down from bough to bough until she touched the blackloam and the trampled plants beneath the tree. She had a young oneclinging to her neck. The tree was a bad tree. It had rocked and shakenand made a noise all night. She was so angry with it that she turned andstruck it with her hands and feet. Then she settled the young one uponher shoulder and went off to a thicket where grew very good fruit.

But the day had begun wrong. A lot of other folk were there, too, andthey tried to push her away, and though she got her breakfast it was apoor one, and the crowd was a quarrelsome, scolding crowd. She went offand sat down under a tree and looked at them. A thing happened that, inher individual experience, had never happened before. She experienced adistinct feeling of being outside of it all—not outside with a sense ofinjury, but quite calmly outside. She criticized the tree-folk.

The young one drummed against her breast with its feet. She pulled itdown from her shoulder, and it lay upon her knees, and she smiled at it,and it smiled at her. She was very fond of it. All the tree-folk smiledwith a kind of grimacing smile, using only the lips. But now thismorning a second thing happened. She smiled with her eyes. It gave her avery singular feeling, a feeling that linked itself with the earlierone.

This tree was thin-topped. Looking up, she saw quite unusual pieces ofsky. Across the largest a white cloudlet{3} went sailing. The folk in thefruit thicket fell into a tremendous quarrel, yelling at one another.She scrambled to her feet and made the sound that meant, “Get on my backand hold tight! We are going to travel.” The young one obeyed and thetwo set forth.

Trees, trees, trees, trees! fighting for breathing space, shoulderingaway their fellows, sucking each its hardest from the earth, strivingeach its hardest, out with its arms, up with its head, up to the light!and all tied together, tied together with endlessly looping ropes, greenand brown and grey, cupped and starred and fringed with purple andorange and white and scarlet! Over all and from all the creepersstretched and dangled. Trees and trees and trees! helplessly many,chained each to the other. Sometimes she and the young one travelled inthe trees and over the stretched brown ropes, and sometimes she made herway through the cane and fern and wild and varied growths thatoverspread the fat black earth out of which had burst the trees. Thecoloured birds whistled and shrieked, and now and again, in the greengloom, she heard tree-folk calling and answering. But she avoided thetree-folk. She was still critical.

It grew dark in the universal forest. The red and green and orange birdsceased whistling, and the insect people whirring and chirping. Thebutterflies went to their bark homes.

“Uuugh!” she said,—which meant, “Lightning will flash and thunder willroll, trees will snap, water will come down, and the air will growcold!”

It all happened, just in that order. She and the young one found anoverhanging rock with a rock floor beneath. They crept into the openingthat was like the jaws of a{4} monster, and cowered, their faces down.Ugh! the light in sheets and the noise! There was not, this time, muchwater. She hated water when it came like this, cold and stinging, justas she loved it when it presented itself in pools when one was thirstyand hot with racing through trees. She had not as yet worked it out thatit was lovely or hateful according to the angle from which it wasapproached, that the water apparently did not plan what it should do norhow it should come, and that it was you yourself who accomplished thatpartition into qualities. If she reasoned at all, it was to the effectthat the water very actively cared, now hating and now helping. Theyoung one whimpered and whimpered, and it irritated her, and she beatit. Yelling, it rolled away from her to the other end of the rock floor.And then the bright light and the horrible noise stopped, and the waterceased to dash against her like cold, wet leaves, and the sun came outsudden and strong, and a snake crept over the rock, coiled and dartedits head above the young one that was lying sobbing to itself. She sawthe snake and she screeched with terror, then she leaped and caught itwith both hands just below the head that was flat and pointed like aleaf and dragged it away from the young one. It writhed and lashed aboutand struck at her, but she held it tighter and tighter, and trampled itwith her feet, and choked it until it was dead. Then she flung it fromher, over the rock, and shivered with her shoulders, and then shegathered up the young one, and the two travelled on.

They travelled nearly all day, seeing nothing but trees and the plantsthat hid the soil from sight, and the inhabitants of trees and the folkwhose feet had always to be upon the earth. The world was anything butunpopulous.{5} There were beings who flew and beings who climbed andbeings who crept or glided, and beings who walked four-footed, and thetree-folk who both walked and climbed. When she came to the hot, still,narrow streams which she crossed by means of the festooned creepers, shesaw beings who swam.

It grew late. Where was any space for the shadow of a tree to fall, itfell. Always the world was quiet in the great heat of the middle day.Evening was the time when all the world began to talk at once—all, thatis, but the big animals. They waited for full night, and then theyroared—they roared! The tree-folk were afraid of the big animals,dreadfully afraid.

The young one was hungry. She pulled it across her shoulder to herbreast and gave it milk, and at the next fruit tree they came to shestopped and got her own supper. By the time this was done it was almostnight. Before her there showed an opening where grass grew. It sloped toa stream and it supported two or three tall, creeper-clad trees. Throughthe bushes about the supper tree came a curious, dancing light.Observing this, she followed the instinct of all tree-folk and creptforward to see what might be seen.

One of the trees had been struck by lightning, and it had fallen uponthe earth. It lay there all its length, and it was afire. She and theyoung one sat beneath the bushes and watched it with awed interest. Intheir history, tree-folk had met with this phenomenon often enough tolearn that you must not touch, that you must not even go very close.When you did so, it was worse than all kinds of big animals!

The flame flickered in and out among the branches and{6} ran along thetrunk. A light smoke curled up, and she could hear the tree talking. Itmade a crackling talk. The burning mass warmed and lit the dusk. She andthe young one were so interested that they went closer and closer. Itoccurred to her to find out how close you could go. So she wentcautiously, cautiously, very close indeed. Up to a certain point thatwas pleasant enough, but one step farther on it began to sting. Shejerked back, frightened, but fascinated. Now again it was pleasant. Itseemed that it was angry only when you came too close. Keep a littleaway and it was the best of friends! She and the young one sat on theground and thought about it. A long, broken bough, slender and bare as abamboo, happened to lie there, one end touching the fiery tree, theother close to her hand. Her hand chanced to close upon it, as it mighthave closed upon creeper or young bough in the trees. Something morehappened. She lifted this stick with the fire at one end like a pennant,lifted it and moved it to and fro, the fire making lines and circles inthe air.

Her brain worked. The stick gave her a long arm, an arm much longer

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