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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XVI. CHILDREN'S ARCADIA.
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 It was early spring in the south of France—spring, and delicious, balmy weather. All that dreadful cold of Normandy seemed like a forgotten dream. It was almost impossible to believe that the limbs that ached under that freezing atmosphere could be the same that now felt the sun almost oppressive.  
Little Maurice had the desire of his heart, for the sun shone all day long. He could pick flowers and smell sweet country air, and the boy born under these sunny skies revived like a tropical plant beneath their influence. It was a month now since the children had left Paris. They had remained for a day or so in Orleans, and then had wandered on, going farther and farther south, until at last they had passed the great seaport town of Bordeaux, and found themselves in the monotonous forests of the Landes. The scenery was not pretty here. The ground was flat, and for miles and miles around them swept an interminable growth of fir trees, each tall and straight, many having their bark pierced, and with small tin vessels fastened round their trunks to catch the turpentine which oozed slowly out. These trees, planted in long straight rows, and occupying whole leagues of country, would have been wearisome to eyes less occupied, to hearts less full, than those that looked out of the faces and beat in the breasts of the children who on foot still pursued their march. For in this forest Cecile's heart had revived. Before she reached Bordeaux she often had felt her hope fading. She had believed that her desire could never be accomplished, for, inquire as they would, they could get in none of the towns or villages they passed through any tidings of Lovedy. No one knew anything of an English girl in the least answering to her description. Many smiled almost pityingly on the eager little seekers, and thought the children a trifle mad to venture on so hopeless a search.
But here, in the Landes, were villages innumerable—small villages, sunny and peaceful, where simple and kind-hearted folks lived, and barndoor-fowl strutted about happily, and the goats browsed, and sheep fed; and the people in these tiny villages were very kind to the little pilgrims, and gave them food and shelter gladly and cheerfully, and answered all the questions which Cecile put through her interpreter, Joe, about Lovedy. Though there were no tidings of the blue-eyed girl who had half-broken her mother's heart, Cecile felt that here surely, or in some such place as here, she should find Lovedy, for were not these exactly the villages her stepmother had described when she lay a-dying? So Cecile trudged on peacefully, and each day dawned with a fresh desire. Joe, too, was happy; ............
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