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|The Strid (standard:drama, 1571 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Aug 20 2004||Views/Reads: 2562/1131||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|My first ever short story... Rex stopped at one of the water filled holes and lapped at the cold clear water, whilst Harry, still holding Rex’s makeshift lead, stepped closer to where the water thrashed and churned between the rocks…|
The Strid ©2002 Ian Hobson This morning a thick fog envelops the town, but the telegraph poles and chimney pots are poking through and basking in the morning sunshine. The garden could do with tidying, but I fancy a drive into Wharfedale and a walk through Strid Woods. * The fog here is even thicker than at home. This stretch of riverside, between Barden Bridge and Bolton Abbey, is probably one of the most walked in the whole of the Dales, carrying everything from serious hikers to little old ladies taken out for a Sunday drive and a riverside stroll. Just down from Barden Bridge the River Wharfe flows through a deep wooded gorge known as Strid Woods. The Strid is a section of the river that is much deeper than it is wide. The river before the Strid, perhaps sixty feet wide and six feet deep, is abruptly turned on its side and funneled through a long rocky channel, maybe six to eight feet wide and nobody-knows-how-deep. I seem to recall that the name Strid comes from the word stride, or maybe it was the other way around. In theory, with the correct combination of long legs, agility and stupidity, it's possible to jump or stride over at the narrowest point. A sign warns that lives have been lost in the past. Legend has it that a local boy, accompanied by his dog on a lead, leaped over the Strid every day. But one day the dog faltered and the boy, pulled back by the dog's lead, failed to reach the other side, fell into the water, and was sucked under and never seen again. *** As Harry ran down through the woods Rex was ahead of him. Harry was tall for his age, and the tallest in his class at school. He was lucky to go to school. Most other ten-year-olds worked full time, on the farms or in the wool mills. But Harry had three elder brothers, all of whom worked on his father's small farm, as well as other neighboring farms. And Harry's Aunt Mary, who now lived in the village and close to the schoolhouse, had bullied Harry's father into letting at least one of his seven children get an education. Harry liked school and found the work easy. This, plus Harry's angelic features and unruly mop of blond hair, made him a favorite with his teacher Miss Webster. Untold years of falling leaves had made the well-worn track soft underfoot, except for the steep sections where stone steps had been laid a century before. Some of these were slippery, but Harry was sure-footed. Though after years of going bare foot, the wearing of boots had taken a lot of getting used to. Again he had his Aunt Mary to thank. She had no children of her own, having never married, and she doted on Harry. She loved Rex as well, and did not mind looking after him whilst Harry was in school. Rex raced back to the bottom of the steps, panting heavily, his long tongue hanging to one side of his open mouth and dripping saliva. He barked up at Harry as he reached the top of the steps and began to descend them two at a time. But before Harry was half way down Rex was off again. Harry leaped from the fifth step and landed evenly on the soft earth. His breathing was even. He was so accustomed to running the five miles to school and back that he could almost have run it blindfold. In fact today he may as well have been blindfold, because as he reached the narrow hillside road the fog was so thick that although he could hear Rex panting somewhere ahead he could not see him. ‘Rex! Here!' shouted Harry. Rex came bounding back to Harry and ran beside him along the road. The road was roughly paved with gravel and larger stones but it was not much more than a cart track. Rex ran ahead again and disappeared into the fog. Harry followed, deliberately skidding to a stop on the slope before turning to his right and entering Strid Woods. The gradient now was steeper and the path even softer underfoot. It was mid winter, and leafless trees loomed out of the mist like phantoms. Ahead, a magpie's clattering call told other Click here to read the rest of this story (84 more lines)
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