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Unto The Hills
I went into a Room

I WENT into a room in the City on the day that Spring was born. Outside, the fog had cleared, and a flock of English sparrows twittered drowsily on sun-splashed roofs, while the distant murmur of traffic came pleasantly to my ears, like the hum of bees.

But I was not happy. For I was torn by a strange sense of the futility of what we call civilization, a longing for other days and other scenes before the City closed its prison walls upon my heart. . . .

They lay there, the rucksack and the nailed shoes, where you had left them and about them was still the sad, damp smell of peat, and the shoes (which I had forgotten to clean), had dropped a few fragments of Scottish earth on to the carpet.

And I remembered, anew, little white hotels nestling in the hollow of great blue hills -- hotels whose carpets were worn threadbare by the constant tread of shoes like these, whose antlered halls were littered with fishing-tackle and many another rucksack which had seen better days…

They tell me they are still there, those hidden, lovely places; and all around and beyond them the wind still echoes its challenge to the young in heart, and the whaup cries eerily over the green glens, like a ghost lamenting the days that are no more.

You will understand, now, why I am so proud of your shabby old rucksack -- and why I will never clean your shoes.

Glencoe, the eastern approach

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