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footpath beyond, following the course of a winding stream, almost tempted us to stop awhile and explore it ; now a blue film of uprising smoke would reveal where an old home was hidden behind ancestral trees; now a spire would attract the eye to the red roofs of a distant village ; now we would pass over a gently gliding brook whose meanderings we could trace afar by the silvery green of the pollard poplars that bordered its banks ; now we would pass by some haymakers busy in the fields.
There was plenty to engage our attention on the way; a flat country has its own peculiar beauties, charms, and interest. Holland is flat enough, yet it is an eminently picturesque country; rural Essex is also picturesque.
Presently, as we drove along, we became aware of a most singular atmospheric effect. Stretching all across the long line of the horizon in front of us was a low white mist; the sun shining brightly upon this made it look for all the world like a vast mass of cotton wool. The fog gradually rolled on towards us, blotting out the landscape as it progressed ; soon we were enveloped completely in it; our horizon was suddenly limited to a few yards in distance. The atmosphere grew cold and damp, and we were glad to don our overcoats for warmth. Only half an hour before we had been complaining of the heat. The fog was not altogether pleasant ; however, we tried to console ourselves with picturing the worse discomforts that probably Londoners were undergoing. Though damp, the fog here was undiluted ; it was neither black nor smut- and sulphur-laden.
It is strange how objects appear magnified when seen through mist; the spectral trees on either side of the way appeared quite gigantic. One ancient windmill we passed assumed Titanic proportions, and almost startled us by the sudden manner in which it loomed high above the phaeton from out of the mist. It was as though we were travelling through a land of giants! We began in time even to enjoy the mysterious effects of the mist, though it was puzzling driving along an unknown road when one could scarcely see a yard in front of one's horses' heads. The horn was brought into frequent requisition, to prevent any chance of a collision, for country people are careless in their driving. Once, indeed, we had (in spite of the warning horn) to pull up suddenly, for straight in front of us (on the wrong side of his way of course) the dim outline of a farmer, jogging contentedly along, came into view ; he, however, took things very philosophically in spite of the fact that by going as he did he nearly caused an accident. · Bless my soul!' he merely ejaculated, then whipped his horse to the other side of the way and was lost to sight. Possibly the worthy farmer on his previous drives had seldom met anyone on the road, and he did not expect to meet with another traveller on such a foggy day. We had to trust to luck to keep on the right track, for no landmarks were visible, and our maps were useless.
Suddenly the fog lightened, a gleam of misty sunshine became apparent, weak at first but gradually growing stronger, till at last we found ourselves
once more in a bright, warm, clear world. Looking back it was interesting to behold the long line of dense white mist being dispersed by the sun.
But our British fogs, say what we will of them and disagreeable though they be, cannot ‘hold a candle' to those that honour the Banks of Newfoundland with their presence and are the dread of the mariner. When crossing the Atlantic I have steamed right into one of these American fogs, and after that sample I always feel inclined to apologise for the poorness of the home production to any of our cousins from across the ferry' who may chance to be in England during the fog season.
Soon now we came to the ancient one-streeted town of Chipping Ongar, a straggling, uninteresting place; the country around is, however, rather pretty. But Chipping Ongar, even were it ten times more uninteresting than it is, would be worth going far to visit just to see the unique and ancient wooden church of Greenstead, to be reached by a pleasant stroll of about a mileacross the green fields, though so delightful is the walk it scarcely seems half that distance. I wonder how many travelled Englishmen there are who have even as much as heard of this exceedingly interesting old Saxon fane, built of the trunks of trees, the only remaining Saxon wooden church in England, and stated to be one of the most ancient in the world. Were this remarkable structure only hidden somewhere in a remote district of the Continent and difficult of access, possibly there would be but few Englishmen who would not visit it, or at least know all about it.
of my readers, I wonder,