Click here to Download At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book by George MacDonald Language English having PDF Size 2.1 MB and No of Pages 156.
I HAVE been asked to tell you about the back of the north wind. An old Greek writer mentions a people who lived there, and were so comfortable that they could not bear it any longer, and drowned themselves. My story is not the same as his. I do not think Herodotus had got the right account of the place. I am going to tell you how it fared with a boy who went there.
At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book by George MacDonald
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He lived in a low room over a coach-house; and that was not by any means at the back of the north wind, as his mother very well knew. For one side of the room was built only of boards, and the boards were so old that you might run a penknife through into the north wind. And then let them settle between them which was the sharper!
I know that when you pulled it out again the wind would be after it like a cat after a mouse, and you would know soon enough you were not at the back of the north wind. Still, this room was not very cold, except when the north wind blew stronger than usual: the room I have to do with now was always cold, except in summer, when the sun took the matter into his own hands.
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Indeed, I am not sure whether I ought to call it a room at all; for it was just a loft where they kept hay and straw and oats for the horses. And when little Diamond—but stop: I must tell you that his father, who was a coachman, had named him after a favourite horse, and his mother had had no objection:—when little Diamond, then.
Lay there in bed, he could hear the horses under him munching away in the dark, or moving sleepily in their dreams. For Diamond’s father had built him a bed in the loft with boards all round it, because they had so little room in their own end over the coachhouse; and Diamond’s father put old Diamond in the stall under the bed.
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Because he was a quiet horse, and did not go to sleep standing, but lay down like a reasonable creature. But, although he was a surprisingly reasonable creature, yet, when young Diamond woke in the middle of the night, and felt the bed shaking in the blasts of the north wind, he could not help wondering whether, if the wind should blow the house down.
And he were to fall through into the manger, old Diamond mightn’t eat him up before he knew him in his night-gown. And although old Diamond was very quiet all night long, yet when he woke he got up like an earthquake, and then young Diamond knew what o’clock it was, or at least what was to be done next, which was—to go to sleep again as fast as he could.
There was hay at his feet and hay at his head, piled up in great trusses to the very roof. Indeed it was sometimes only through a little lane with several turnings, which looked as if it had been sawn out for him, that he could reach his bed at all. For the stock of hay was, of course, always in a state either of slow ebb or of sudden flow. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book
Sometimes the whole space of the loft, with the little panes in the roof for the stars to look in, would lie open before his open eyes as he lay in bed; sometimes a yellow wall of sweet-smelling fibres closed up his view at the distance of half a yard. Sometimes, when his mother had undressed him in her room, and told him to trot to bed by himself, he would creep into the heart of the hay.
And lie there thinking how cold it was outside in the wind, and how warm it was inside there in his bed, and how he could go to it when he pleased, only he wouldn’t just yet; he would get a little colder first. And ever as he grew colder, his bed would grow warmer, till at last he would scramble out of the hay, shoot like an arrow into his bed, cover himself up, and snuggle down, thinking what a happy boy he was.
He had not the least idea that the wind got in at a chink in the wall, and blew about him all night. For the back of his bed was only of boards an inch thick, and on the other side of them was the north wind. The back of Mr. Coleman’s house was to the lawn, and one of the drawing-room windows looked out upon it. The ladies had not gone to bed; for the light was still shining in that window. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book
But they had no idea that a little boy was standing on the lawn in his night-gown, or they would have run out in a moment. And as long as he saw that light, Diamond could not feel quite lonely. He stood staring, not at the great warrior Orion in the sky, nor yet at the disconsolate, neglected moon going down in the west, but at the drawing-room window with the light shining through its green curtains.
He had been in that room once or twice that he could remember at Christmas times; for the Colemans were kind people, though they did not care much about children. All at once the light went nearly out: he could only see a glimmer of the shape of the window. Then, indeed, he felt that he was left alone.
It was so dreadful to be out in the night after everybody was gone to bed! That was more than he could bear. He burst out crying in good earnest, beginning with a wail like that of the wind when it is waking up. Perhaps you think this was very foolish; for could he not go home to his own bed again when he liked? At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book
Yes; but it looked dreadful to him to creep up that stair again and lie down in his bed again, and know that North Wind’s window was open beside him, and she gone, and he might never see her again. He would be just as lonely there as here. Nay, it would be much worse if he had to think that the window was nothing but a hole in the wall.
At the very moment when he burst out crying, the old nurse who had grown to be one of the family, for she had not gone away when Miss Coleman did not want any more nursing, came to the back door, which was of glass, to close the shutters. She thought she heard a cry, and, peering out with a hand on each side of her eyes like Diamond’s blinkers, she saw something white on the lawn.
Too old and too wise to be frightened, she opened the door, and went straight towards the white thing to see what it was. And when Diamond saw her coming he was not frightened either, though Mrs. Crump was a little cross sometimes; for there is a good kind of crossness that is only disagreeable, and there is a bad kind of crossness that is very nasty indeed. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book
So she came up with her neck stretched out, and her head at the end of it, and her eyes foremost of all, like a snail’s, peering into the night to see what it could be that went on glimmering white before her. When she did see, she made a great exclamation, and threw up her hands. Then without a word, for she thought Diamond was walking in his sleep, she caught hold of him, and led him towards the house.
He made no objection, for he was just in the mood to be grateful for notice of any sort, and Mrs. Crump led him straight into the drawing-room. Now, from the neglect of the new housemaid, the fire in Miss Coleman’s bedroom had gone out, and her mother had told her to brush her hair by the drawing-room fire—a disorderly proceeding which a mother’s wish could justify.
The young lady was very lovely, though not nearly so beautiful as North Wind; and her hair was extremely long, for it came down to her knees—though that was nothing at all to North Wind’s hair. Yet when she looked round, with her hair all about her, as Diamond entered, he thought for one moment that it was North Wind. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book Download
And, pulling his hand from Mrs. Crump’s, he stretched out his arms and ran towards Miss Coleman. She was so pleased that she threw down her brush, and almost knelt on the floor to receive him in her arms. He saw the next moment that she was not Lady North Wind, but she looked so like her he could not help running into her arms and bursting into tears afresh.
Mrs. Crump said the poor child had walked out in his sleep, and Diamond thought she ought to know, and did not contradict her for anything he knew, it might be so indeed. He let them talk on about him, and said nothing; and when, after their astonishment was over, and Miss Coleman had given him a sponge-cake, it was decreed that Mrs. Crump should take him to his mother, he was quite satisfied.
“What is it, my dear child?” said North Wind, and the windmill began turning again so swiftly that Diamond could scarcely see it. “What a big voice you’ve got! and what a noise you do make with it? What is it you want? I have little to do, but that little must be done.” “I want you to take me to the country at the back of the north wind.” At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book Download
“That’s not so easy,” said North Wind, and was silent for so long that Diamond thought she was gone indeed. But after he had quite given her up, the voice began again. “I almost wish old Herodotus had held his tongue about it. Much he knew of it!” “Why do you wish that, North Wind?” “Because then that clergyman would never have heard of it, and set you wanting to go. But we shall see.
We shall see. You must go home now, my dear, for you don’t seem very well, and I’ll see what can be done for you. Don’t wait for me. I’ve got to break a few of old Goody’s toys; she’s thinking too much of her new stock. Two or three will do. There! go now.” Diamond rose, quite sorry, and without a word left the shop, and went home.
It soon appeared that his mother had been right about him, for that same afternoon his head began to ache very much, and he had to go to bed. He awoke in the middle of the night. The lattice window of his room had blown open, and the curtains of his little bed were swinging about in the wind. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book Download
“Below that is where they keep their spare sails, and some stores of that sort. I am going to blow that cover off. The same moment I will drop you on deck, and you must tumble in. Don’t be afraid, it is of no depth, and you will fall on sail-cloth. You will find it nice and warm and dry-only dark; and you will know I am near you by every roll and pitch of the vessel.
Coil yourself up and go to sleep. The yacht shall be my cradle and you shall be my baby.” “Thank you, dear North Wind. I am not a bit afraid,” said Diamond. In a moment they were on a level with the bulwarks, and North Wind sent the hatch of the after-store rattling away over the deck to leeward. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book Free
The next, Diamond found himself in the dark, for he had tumbled through the hole as North Wind had told him, and the cover was replaced over his head. Away he went rolling to leeward, for the wind began all at once to blow hard. He heard the call of the captain, and the loud trampling of the men over his head, as they hauled at the main sheet to get the boom on board that they might take in a reef in the mainsail.
Diamond felt about until he had found what seemed the most comfortable place, and there he snuggled down and lay. Hours after hours, a great many of them, went by; and still Diamond lay there. He never felt in the least tired or impatient, for a strange pleasure filled his heart. The straining of the masts, the creaking of the boom, the singing of the ropes.
The banging of the blocks as they put the vessel about, all fell in with the roaring of the wind above, the surge of the waves past her sides, and the thud with which every now and then one would strike her; while through it all Diamond could hear the gurgling, rippling, talking flow of the water against her planks, as she slipped through it, lying now on this side. At the Back of the North Wind PDF Book Free
Now on that—like a subdued air running through the grand music his North Wind was making about him to keep him from tiring as they sped on towards the country at the back of her doorstep. How long this lasted Diamond had no idea.