These hills were rocky and bleak enough towards their summit; lower down they were clothed with tangled copsewood and green depths of fern, out of which a grey giant of an ancient forest-tree would tower here and there, throwing up its ghastly white branches, as if in imprecation, to the sky.
My limbs and eyes escaped all injury; my frame grew tall and vigorous in consequence of neglect, even as the forest-tree, left to the conflict of all the winds of heaven; while my poor little friend, Edgar, grew daily more and more diminutive, just as some plant, which nursing and tendance within doors deprive of the wholesome sunshine and generous breezes of the sky.
And the woman's soul shuddered in the conflict of passions that came like furies to destroy her shuddered and bent, and writhed like some strong forest-tree in the maddening whirl of a tempest. But there was no faltering of purpose. She had passed her word had made a solemn life-compact, and, she resolved to die, but not to waver.
The great forest-tree has a shoot, which in the course perhaps of hundreds of years, has developed a wide-spreading system of trunk and branches, bearing on the ultimate twigs or branchlets innumerable leaves, while beneath the soil a widely-branching root-system covers an area of corresponding extent.
Twice I was obliged to abandon engines on account of forest-tree obstructions right across the line, which, do what I might, I could not move, and these were the two bitterest incidents of the pilgrimage; and at least thirty times I changed from engine to engine, when other trains blocked.
A group of dark Scotch firs was introduced in the middle distance to relieve the prevailing freshness of the rest; but in the foreground was part of the gnarled trunk and of the spreading boughs of a large forest-tree, whose foliage was of a brilliant golden green—not golden from autumnal mellowness, but from the sunshine and the very immaturity of the scarce expanded leaves.
Many of the forest-tree leaves are palmated and largely developed; the trunks are covered with lichens, and the abundance of ferns which appear in the woods shows we are now in a more humid climate than any to the south of the Barotse valley.
No doubt men's minds differ in what we may call their climate or share of solar energy, and a feeling or tendency which is comparable to a panther in one may have no more imposing aspect than that of a weasel in another: some are like a tropical habitat in which the very ferns cast a mighty shadow, and the grasses are a dry ocean in which a hunter may be submerged; others like the chilly latitudes in which your forest-tree, fit elsewhere to prop a mine, is a pretty miniature suitable for fancy potting.
The only forest-tree known to Europe and North America, the sap of which is largely enough applied to economical uses to have made the amount of its flow a matter of practical importance and popular observation, is the sugar maple, Acer saccharinum, of the Anglo-American Provinces and States.
So when he saw Hercules at Argos, with a club made of a forest-tree in his hand, and clad in the skin of a lion which he had slain, Eurystheus bade him go and kill a far more terrible lion, of giant brood, and with a skin that could not be pierced, which dwelt in the valley of Nemea.