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ANCIENT LANDMARKS

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being lost at times—otherwise why do people go into mazes.

Just about here, it must be confessed, our map failed us; indeed, I am inclined to think that it omitted some of the roads altogether : quite possibly the engraver may have confused them with the river or the innumerable dykes that intersect the land in every direction. The more we studied the map the more confused we became, till we folded it up and put it carefully away, lest it should cause us to use bad language. A map that fails, just when you most need its guidance, what a temper-trying thing it is! However, a gentleman we met later on during our tour had something more temper-trying to contend with : it appeared that he started out touring in a motorcar, and the thing broke down utterly, on an unsheltered stretch of road in the midst of a drenching thunderstorm, so that he had to beg the loan of a horse from a farmer to get the machine housed. To make the matter worse, some of the people thought it a matter to laugh over, to see a horse lugging the helpless motor along; but remembering that horses sometimes go lame on a journey (though whilst touring we have never been delayed by such a mishap), we sympathised with our fellow-wayfarer.

Before we put our map away, however, a close scrutiny of it revealed to us two spots marked with a cross, and after each cross the legends respectively of “ Kenulph's Stone” and “St. Guthlak's Cross." The former of these was one of the four boundary stones of “the halidome” of the Abbey, and may still be found by the side of the Welland; the broken

shaft of the latter, with curious lettering thereon, is also to be seen at Crowland. According to learned antiquaries the lettering forms the following Latin inscription :-"Aio hanc petram Guthlacus habet sibi metam.

CHAPTER IX

A land of dykes—Fenland rivers—Crowland Abbey—A unique

triangular bridge—Antiquaries differ—A mysterious statue-
A medieval rhyme—A wayside inscription—The scenery of the
Fens-Light-hearted travellers—Cowbit-A desolate spot-An
adventure on the road—A Dutch-like town.

So we drove on till the tall hedgerows ceased and the country became more open and assumed a wilder aspect : narrow dykes or ditches now divided the fields instead of the familiar fences, so that our eyes could range unimpeded over the wide landscape. Then presently, as we proceeded, a high and long grass-grown embankment came into view, right in front of us, and so our prospect ahead was suddenly shut in, reduced from miles to yards! Approaching close to this embankment, we found that our road turned sharply to the left and ran immediately below and alongside of it. Here we pulled up and scrambled to the top of the steep bank, just "to see what was on the other side.” The mystery of the vast earthwork was solved : it was no Brobdingnagian railway scheme, but an earthwork constructed to keep the river Welland in bounds when flooded, though just then the river flowed sluggishly along, deep down below its high-banked sides, as innocentlooking a stream as could well be imagined.

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One striking peculiarity of the Fenland rivers is that they are mostly held in thus by banks and are not allowed, as English rivers generally are, the liberty to meander about at their own sweet will ; for in these parts the primary use of a river appears to be to do duty as a mighty drainage dyke, and this curbing of wilful nature gives such rivers an exceedingly artificial and somewhat tame look. Quaint to English eyes is it to observe these great river-banks standing high above the surrounding country and highways, for often, for convenience of construction, do the roads follow the course of the streams and water-ways. Well is this division of Lincolnshire called “Holland” or “Holland in England," as some maps have it. Indeed, this mighty level land, now smiling with yellow corn-crops and rich green pastures, was erst a swampy waste, more water than land ; fit only to be the home of wildfowl and coarse fish, till sundry Dutch engineers undertook to reclaim it, importing their own countrymen to assist in the task. We were told by a Lincolnshire man that several of the Dutch workmen never returned home, but settled and married in the new “Holland in England” that their labours had helped to create ; furthermore, we were told that a goodly number of purely Dutch names still existed in the county.

After following along and below the embankment for a mile or more, our road took to itself a sudden whim and boldly mounted to the top of the bank which was wide enough to drive upon, and from our elevated position we had a space-expressing prospect over a level country, reaching all round to the long,

over

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DIFFICULT DRIVING

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low circling line of the bounding horizon. Though we could not have been raised much above sea-level, still I have climbed high mountains for a far inferior view. It is not the height one may be above a scene that gives the observer therefrom the best impression of it; indeed one may easily be elevated too far above scenery to appreciate it properly. A bird's-eye view of a landscape is not the one an artist would select to paint; there is such a thing as a picturesque and an unpicturesque way of looking on an object. Sometimes, truly, scenery has been painted as a bird sees it, for the sake of novelty; but novelty is not synonymous with beauty: they may join hands at times, but as a rule they are utter strangers one to another.

Then as we drove slowly and carefully on—for there were no fences to the road on either side and it was not over safe to approach too near the edges, or we might have been precipitated into the river on one hand, or on to the fields below on the other, either of which events would have brought our outing to a sudden termination-as we drove thus cautiously on, the one remaining tower and great vacant archway of Crowland's lonely abbey came into sight, standing out a tender pearly-gray mass against the sunlit sky: in all the ocean of greenery round about there was nothing else in sight that raised itself noticeably above the general level.

There was something very impressive in this first view of the ancient fane, rising in crumbling yet solemn majesty out of the ever-green world below; a poem in stone, laden with ancient legend

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