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More from this board

the blue castle

valancy's "up back" church

valancy and barney

Cabin on the lake

"Every Sunday evening Valancy went to the little Free Methodist church in a valley on the edge of "up back"--a spireless little grey building among the pines, with a few sunken graves and mossy gravestones in the small, paling-encircled, grass-grown square beside it."

"...white birches shining among the dark spruces like beautiful women's bodies--winter snows and rose-red sunset fires--lakes drunken with moonshine--all the delights of her lost paradise. "

"One evening they came upon a snowdrift far back in an old clearing which was in the exact likeness of a beautiful woman's profile. Seen too close by, the resemblance was lost, as in the fairy-tale of the Castle of St. John. Seen from behind, it was a shapeless oddity. But at just the right distance and angle the outline was so perfect that when they came suddenly upon it, gleaming out against the dark background of spruce in the glow of winter sunset they both exclaimed in amazement."

"When morning came the storm broke and cleared; the sun shone gloriously over Mistawis; and at noon Barney came home. Valancy saw him from the oriel as he came around a wooded point, slender and black against the glistening white world."

"...The garden, which Cissy used to keep neat and pretty, had run wild. On two sides of the house were fields full of nothing but mulleins. "

"Behind the house was a long stretch of useless barrens, full of scrub pines and spruces, with here and there a blossoming bit of wild cherry, running back to a belt of timber on the shores of Lake Mistawis, two miles away. "

"But now she loved winter. Winter was beautiful "up back"--almost intolerably beautiful...Great silences, austere and searching. Jewelled, barbaric hills. The sun suddenly breaking through grey clouds over long, white Mistawis."

"Tonight they flew down Mistawis before the wind, in an exhilaration that crimsoned Valancy's cheeks under her white tam. And at the end was her dear little house, on the island of pines, with a coating of snow on its roof, sparkling in the moonlight. Its windows glinted impishly at her in the stray gleams. 'Looks exactly like a picture-book, doesn't it?' said Barney."

"Once they stood in a hesitation of ecstasy at the entrance of a narrow path between ranks of birches. Every twig and spray was outlined in snow. The undergrowth along its sides was a little fairy forest cut out of marble. The shadows cast by the pale sunshine were fine and spiritual. 'Come away,' said Barney, turning. 'We must not commit the desecration of tramping through there.' "

"Valancy poured tea out of Barney's little battered old pewter teapot of incredible age. She had not even a set of dishes--only Barney's mismatched chipped bits--and a dear, big, pobby old jug of robin's-egg blue."

"December. Early snows and Orion. The pale fires of the Milky Way. It was really winter now--wonderful, cold, starry winter. "

"They went for long tramps through the exquisite reticence of winter woods and the silver jungles of frosted trees, and found loveliness everywhere. At times they seemed to be walking through a spellbound world of crystal and pearl, so white and radiant were clearings and lakes and sky. The air was so crisp and clear that it was half intoxicating."

"They got into the canoe and paddled out to it. They left behind the realm of everyday and things known and landed on a realm of mystery and enchantment where anything might happen--anything might be true. " (Shoda Koho, Moonlit Sea, c. 1920)

"Valancy thought she was almost pretty in that mirror. But that may have been because she had shingled her hair."

"I want you to see the Alhambra - it's the nearest thing to your Blue Castle of your dreams I can think of."

"Barney lifted Valancy out of the canoe and swung her to a lichen-covered rock under a young pine-tree. His arms were about her and suddenly his lips were on hers. Valancy found herself shivering with the rapture of her first kiss. 'Welcome home, dear,' Barney was saying."

"She used to wake up and revel silently in the cosiness of those winter nights on that little island in the frozen lake. "

"Barney led the way down a little path to the edge of the lake. 'There's our island,' he said gloatingly. Valancy looked--and looked--and looked again. There was a diaphanous, lilac mist on the lake, shrouding the island. Through it the two enormous pine-trees that clasped hands over Barney's shack loomed out like dark turrets. Behind them was a sky still rose-hued in the afterlight, and a pale young moon." (Treasure Island, Lake Muskoka, Ontario)

"There was a dwindling grove of ragged, crone-like old spruces behind it [Roaring Abel's house]."

"And they can't see that Valancy is just laughing at them all in her sleeve."

"The moonlight would begin to silver the Mistawis."