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The short cut
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Here was a small stream of water, bright, clear and cool, running its merry way among the tall pines, hurrying to the dense shade of the lower valley. The grass on its banks stood tall, lush and faintly odorous, fresh with the newly come springtime, delicately scented with the thickly strewn field flowers. The sunlight lay bright and warm over all; the sky was blue with a depth of colour intensified by the few great white clouds drifting lazily across it. No moving thing within all the wide rolling landscape save the sun-flecked water, the softly stirring grass and rustling forests, the almost motionless white clouds. For two miles the hills billowed away gently to the northward, where at last they were swept up into the thickly timbered, crag-crested mountains. For twice two miles toward the west one might guess the course of the stream before here, too, the mountains shut in, leaving only Echo Canon's narrow gap for the cool water to slip through. To the south and to the east ridges and hollows and mountains, and beyond a few fast melting patches of last winter's snow clinging to the lofty summits, looking like fragments broken away from the big white clouds and resting for a moment on the line where land and sky met.
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