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  1. #1
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    topical start of old favourite

    I was glancing through an old favourite book and was struck by how the beginning of Chapter One describes events with creepy similarities what our world is currently going through:

    In the month of July of the year 1348, between the feasts of St Benedict and St Swithin, a strange thing came upon England, for out of the east there drifted a monstrous cloud, purple and piled, heavy with evil, climbing slowly in the hushed heaven. In the shadow of that strange cloud the leaves drooped in the trees, the birds ceased their calling, and the cattle and the sheep gathered cowering under the hedges. A gloom fell upon all the land, and men stood with their eyes upon the strange cloud and a heaviness in their hearts. No birds flew, and there came no rustling from the woods, nor any of the homely sounds of nature. All was still, and nothing moved, save only the great cloud which rolled up and onwards, with fold upon fold from the black horizon.

    Then the rain began to fall. All day it rained, and all the night and all the week and all the month, until folk had forgot the blue heavens and the gleam of sunshine. Always the same thick evil cloud flowed from east to west with the rain beneath it. Every morning folk looked upward for a break, but their eyes rested always upon the same endless cloud. It was raining at Lammas-tide and raining at the Feast of the Assumption and still raining at Michaelmas. The crops and the hay, sodden and black, had rotted in the fields, for they were not worth the garnering. The sheep had died, and the calves also, so there was little to kill when Martinmas came and it was time to salt the meat for the winter.

    They feared a famine, but it was worse than famine which was in store for them.

    For the rain had ceased at last, and a sickly autumn sun shone upon a land which was soaked and sodden with water. Wet and rotten leaves reeked and festered under the foul haze which rose from the woods. The fields were spotted with monstrous fungi of a size and colour never matched before. It was as though the sick earth had burst into foul pustules; mildew and lichen mottled the walls, and with that filthy crop Death sprang also from the water-soaked earth. Men died, and women and children, the baron of the castle, the franklin on the farm, the monk in the abbey and the villein in his wattle-and-daub cottage. All breathed the same polluted reek and all died the same death of corruption. Of those who were stricken none recovered. In many a village no single person was left alive.

    Then at last the spring came with sunshine and health and lightness and laughter- the greenest, sweetest, tenderest spring that England had ever known- but only half of England could know it.


    -Doyle
    Last edited by OC Richard; 18th March 20 at 04:34 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  3. #2
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    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2845/2845-h/2845-h.htm

    The Project Gutenberg EBook of Sir Nigel, by Arthur Conan Doyle

    This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
    almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
    re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
    with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org


    Title: Sir Nigel

    Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

    Release Date: December 27, 2008 [EBook #2845]
    Last Updated: March 6, 2018

    Language: English

    Character set encoding: UTF-8

  4. #3
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    Indeed it is the beginning of Sir Nigel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    It's a prequel to The White Company, about an eccentric elderly English knight Sir Nigel Loring and his company of soldiers and their exploits in France and Spain. (They were known by their white surcoats.)

    Sir Nigel tells of Nigel's youth and how he came to be knighted. But it begins (above) with a beautiful poetic telling of the coming of The Black Death to England.

    Doyle hated writing the Sherlock Holmes books, which (being written by Watson) are in a dry newspaper-reporting style completely different from the flowing old-fashioned prose of The White Company and Sir Nigel. These historical novels were Doyle's favourite works.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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