Dwellers in the Hills (Chapter 7, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 7

The shingle roof and the boarded sides protected the timber framework from the beating of the elements. Dry, save for the occasional splash of the hissing water far below, the great bones of this bridge hardened and lasted like sills of granite. The shingle roof curled, cracked, and dropped off into the water; the floor broke through, the sides rotted, and were all replaced again and again. But the powerful grandsires who had come down from the Hills to lay a floor over the Valley were not intending to do that work again, and went about their labour like the giants of old times.

Indeed, a legend runs that these sills were not laid by men at all, but by the Dwarfs. As evidence of this folklore tale, it is pointed out that these logs have the mark of a rough turtle burned on their under surface like the turtle cut on the great stones in the mountains. And men differ about what wood they are of, some declaring them to be oak and others sugar, and still others a strange wood of which the stumps only are now found in the Hills. It is true that no mark of axe can be found on them, but this is no great wonder since the bark was evidently removed by burning, an ancient method of preserving the wood from rot.

We swung down Thornberg's Hill in a long trot, and on to the bridge. The river was swollen, a whirling mass of yellow water that surged and pounded and howled under the timber floor as though the mad spirits of the river still resented the work of the Dwarfs. It was the Valley's business to divide the land, and it had done it well, leaving the sons of Eve to bite their fingers until, on a night, the crooked people came stumbling down to take a hand in the matter.

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