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Wit, Wisdom, Pathos - AbeBooks
Lang: - English Pages The good shepherd is a false phrase. No one is more brutal than a shepherd. If he were not so he could not bear his life for a day. All that he does is brutal. He stones the flock where it would tarry against his will. He mutilates the males, and drags the females away from their sucking babes. He shears their fleeces every spring, unheeding how the raw skin drops blood. He drives the halting, footsore, crippled animals on by force over flint and slate and parching dust. Sometimes he makes them travel twenty miles a day. For his pastime he sets the finest of his beasts to fight.
This is the feast day and holiday sport of all the shepherds; and they bet on it, until all they have, which is but little, goes on the heads of the rams; and one will wager his breeches, and another his skin jacket, and another his comely wife, and the ram which is beaten, if he have any life left in him, will be stabbed in the throat by his owner: for he is considered to have disgraced the branca. This Sunday and Saints' day sport was going on a piece of grass land in the district known as the Vale of Edera.
On the turf, cleared of its heaths and ferns, there was a ring of men, three of them shepherds, the rest peasants. In the midst of them were the rams, two chosen beasts pitted against each other like two pugilists. They advanced slowly at first, then more quickly, and yet more quickly, till they met with a crash, their two foreheads, hard as though carven in stone, coming in collision with a terrible force; then each, staggered by the encounter, drew back, dizzy and bruised, to recoil, and take breath, and gather fresh force, and so charge one on the other in successive rounds until the weaker should succumb, and, mangled and senseless, should arise no more.
One of the rams was old, and one was young; some of the shepherds said that the old one was more wary and more experienced, and would have the advantage; in strength and height they were nearly equal, but the old one had been in such duels before and the young one never. The young one thought he had but to rush in, head downward, to conquer; the old one knew that this was not enough to secure victory. The young one was blind with ardour and impatience for the fray; the old one was cool and shrewd and could parry and wait.
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After three rounds, the two combatants met in a final shock; the elder ram butted furiously, the younger staggered and failed to return the blow, his frontal bone was split, and he fell to the ground; the elder struck him once, twice, thrice, amidst the uproarious applause of his backers; a stream of blood poured from his skull, which was pounded to splinters; a terrible convulsion shook his body and his limbs; he stretched his tongue out as if he tried to lap water; the men who had their money on him cursed him with every curse they knew; they did not cut his throat, for they knew he was as good as dead.
The shepherds jeered; those who had backed the victor were sponging his wounds beside a runlet of water which was close at hand; those who had lost were flinging stones on the vanquished. The girl knelt down by the dying ram to save him from the shower of stones; she lifted his head gently upward, and tried to pour water through his jaws from a little wooden cup which she had on her, and which she had filled at the river.
- Publisher Description.
- Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida?
- Know Your Feelings - Become A Feeling Detective (Emotional Fitness Training® Programs Book 3).
- Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida : (Registro nro. 24206).
- Page:Underwoods, Stevenson, 1887.djvu/183.
- Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos Selected From the Works of Ouida · Yellowbacks at Emory;
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But he could not swallow; his beautiful opaline eyes were covered with film, he gasped painfully, a foam of blood on his lips and a stream of blood coursing down his face; a quiver passed over him again; then his head rested lifeless on his knees. She touched his shattered horns, his clotted wool, tenderly. He was younger than the other, and knew less. Those who had won laughed.
Those who had lost cursed him again; he had disgraced his branca. They would flay him, and put him in the cauldron over the wood fire, and would curse him even whilst they picked his bones for a white-livered spawn of cowards; a son of a thrice-damned ewe. The girl knew that was what they do. She laid his battered head gently down upon the turf, and poured the water out of her cup; her eyes were blind with tears; she could not give him back his young life, his zest in his pastoral pleasures, his joy in cropping the herbage, his rude loves, his merry gambols, his sound sleep, his odorous breath.
He had died to amuse and excite the ugly passions of men, as, if he had lived longer, he would, in the end, have died to satisfy their ugly appetites. She looked at his corpse with compassion, the tears standing in her eyes; then she turned away, and as she went saw that her poor ragged clothes were splashed here and there with blood, and that her arms and hands were red with blood: she had not thought of that before; she had thought only of him.
The shepherds did not notice her; they were quarrelling violently in dispute over what had been lost and won, thrusting their fingers in each other's faces, and defiling the fair calm of the day with filthy oaths. The girl shrank away into the heather with the silent swiftness of a hare; now that she had lost the stimulus of indignant pity she was afraid of these brutes; if the whim entered into them they would be as brutal to her as to their flock.
Out of fear of them she did not descend at once to the river, but pushed her way through the sweet-smelling, bee-haunted, cross-leaved heaths; she could hear the sound of the water on her right all the time as she went. She knew little of this country, but she had seen the Edera, and had crossed it farther up its course on one of its rough tree-bridges. When, as well as she could judge, she had got half a mile away from the scene of the rams' combat, she changed her course and went to the right, directed by the murmur of the river.
It was slow walking through the heath and gorse which grew above her head, and were closely woven together, but in time she reached shelving ground, and heard the song of the river louder on her ear. The heath ceased to grow within a few yards of the stream and was replaced by various water plants and acacia thickets; she slid down the banks between the stems and alighted on her bare feet where the sand was soft and the water-dock grew thick. She looked up and down the water; there was no one in sight, nothing but the banks rosehued with the bloom of the heather, and, beyond the opposite shore, in the distance, the tender amethystine hues of the mountains.
The water was generally low, leaving the stretches of sand and of shingle visible, but it was still deep in many parts. She stripped herself and went down into it, and washed the blood which had by this time caked upon her flesh. It seemed a pity, she thought, to sully with that dusky stain this pure, bright, shining stream; but she had no other way to rid herself of it, and she had in all the world no other clothes than these poor woollen rags.
Her heart was still sore for the fate of the conquered ram; and her eyes filled again with tears as she washed his blood off her in the gay running current. But the water was soothing and fresh, the sun shone on its bright surface; the comfrey and fig-wart blew in the breeze, the heather smell filled the atmosphere. She was only a child, and her spirits rose, and she capered about in the shallows, and flung the water over her head, and danced to her own reflection in it, and forgot her sorrow. Then she washed her petticoats as well as she could, having nothing but water alone, and all the while she was as naked as a Naiad, and the sun smiled on her brown, thin, childish body as it smiled on a stem of plaintain or on the plumage of a coot.
Then when she had washed her skirt she spread it out on the sand to dry, and sat down beside it, for the heat to bake her limbs after her long bath. There was no one, and there was nothing, in sight; if any came near she could hide under the great dock leaves until such should have passed.
It was high noon, and the skirt of wool and the skirt of hemp grew hot and steamed under the vertical rays; she was soon as dry as the shingles from which the water had receded for months. She sat with her hands clasped round her updrawn knees, and her head grew heavy with the want of slumber, but she would not sleep, though it was the hour of sleep. Without these cookies, we can't provide services to you. These cookies allow us to monitor OverDrive's performance and reliability.