The Amber Spyglass Extract

His Dark Materials - The Amber Spyglass

The Enchanted Sleeper

In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where
a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets
flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag
above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below.

The woods were full of sound: the stream between the rocks, the wind
among the needles of the pine branches, the chitter of insects and
the cris of small arboreal mammals, as well as the birdsong; and
from time to time a stronger gust of wind would make one of the
brances of a cedar or a fir move against another and groan like a

It was a place of brilliant sunlight, never undappled. Shafts of
lemon-gold brilliants lanced down to the forest floor between bars
and pools of brown-green shade; and the light was never still, never
constant, because drifting mist would often float among the treetops,
filtering all the sunlight to a pearly sheen and brushing every pine
cone with moisture that glistened when the mist lifted. Sometimes the
wetness in the clouds condensed into tiny drops half mist and half
rain, which floated downward rather than fell, making a soft rustling
patter among the millions of needles.

There was a narrow path beside the stream, which led from a village,
little more than a cluster of herdsmen's dwellings, at the foot of
the valley to a half-mined shrine near the glacier at its head,
a place where faded silken flags streamed out in the perpetual
winds from the high mountains, and offerings of barley cakes and
dried tea were placed by pious villagers. An odd effect of the light,
the ice, and the vapour enveloped the head of the valley in perpetual

The cave lay some way abouve the path. Many years before, a holy man had
lived there, meditating and fasting and praying, and the place was
venerated for the sake of his memory. It was thirty feet or so deep,
with a dry floor: an ideal den for a bear or wolf, but the only creatures
living in it for years had been birds and bats.

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