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The wall in the forest

I went further today than I had done since first I entered the forest. I found something, a wall, of a strange kind, but undoubtedly a wall.

It lay straight in my path as I pulled sticks from the edge of a clearing. My clearing, in fact - the sum of a few days' work in this region, and work which has pleased my father no end. He sends me back again and again into this new part of the forest, praising me for my hard work. It is only so he can spend more time with my new Mother, who is just my age, but I don't mind, because it lets me roam in a way I haven't since my first Mother died.

I was dragging sticks, as I say, from the remaining dead wood at the foot of the great trees, when I saw the wall. Taller than the wall of our house, and made of stone, it showed just a part of itself and then ran hidden along the edge of the clearing.

I stopped work to look, putting down my bundle, which Father says not to do, because of thieves, or animals, especially boar, and having to run away because of a boar and losing my bundle, but anyway I put it down and climbed up onto the stones to look.

The stones were as big as a corn sack, and lay side by side, up and down, an odd construction, and massive - the side of some ancient house, I thought at first. But as I kilted my robe and got onto the wall's top, it was clearly not a house wall, or wall of any building, because the top was too wide - wider than a roof, wider than a strip of land.

It was a wide, flat topped wall, and ducking to look under the branches I saw it ran straight through the forest for many lengths.

I haven't told Father about it yet, because he is too occupied just at present, and because I know what it is. I have told Margret, that is, new Mother, and we will go to look tomorrow if Father can spare her. Margret has told me about the roads which her brother has told her about, from when he has gone hunting with the lord's party. The roads, Margret says, go the whole length of the land, from sea to sea, and were built before any thing was here that is still here. Margret says her brother has seen many of these roads, and they were used to carry men and horses great distances, and they run straight to make the distance shorter, although that makes no sense. Margret's brother is a little clever at times and will probably not marry me although Margret says he should. I am not so interested in marrying him in any way, because now we find so much wood in this part of the forest that there is no need for me to marry, at least, I hope.

Margret tell good stories, though, especially of the ancient times, and she says that our house would look like dirt and dust to the old people, those who lived when the roads were used. They had houses built of stone, and they had water which ran in channels into their houses so they didn't have to walk to fetch it, and they had so much water that they covered their whole bodies in it every day. They had stones in the floors with pictures on the stones, pictures made from stones of different colours laid side by side. To walk on pictures, says Margret, and she throws her hair back over her shoulder and giggles as she does, that's how rich they were then.

When times are a little easier, and when Margret has the baby she says she doesn't have (but it's obvious, and it will be a boy, and what will I do when he's grown?) I will lay down some of the coloured stones I have collected, and make them into a picture for Margret, and then we'll be like the road builders too.


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