Should such an alarm be given, all their labors would be lost. If, when they entered the river-bed, they found the river-walls manned and the river-gates fast-locked, they would be indeed "caught in a trap." Enfiladed on both sides by an enemy whom they could neither see nor reach, they would be overwhelmed and destroyed by his missiles before they could succeed in making their escape.
By these methods alone much of the land was rendered habitable and subject to the plough. Probably these methods were enough to make it all it was in the Middle Ages. Of these words, whose tradition is immemorial, the greatest, of course, are the sea-walls. Perhaps the river-walls came first, but the great bank which limited and protected the land against the sea is also older than any history.
River embankments, which, as is familiarly known, have from the earliest antiquity been employed in many countries where sea-dikes are unknown, were probably the first works of this character constructed in the Low Countries, and when two neighboring streams of fresh water had been embanked, the next step in the process would naturally be to connect the river-walls together by a transverse dike or raised causeway, which would serve as a means of communication between different hamlets and at the same time secure the intermediate ground both against the backwater of river-floods and against overflow by the sea.
Perfectly calm and steady, he sometimes repeated them to himself as he walked; but, he heard them always. The night wore out, and, as he stood upon the bridge listening to the water as it splashed the river-walls of the Island of Paris, where the picturesque confusion of houses and cathedral shone bright in the light of the moon, the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out of the sky.
'I will take help from none of your lies. She returned to her main position. He removed his bonnet, and bowed so low to her that his great and shining beard hung far away from his chest. 'Madam Howard, he mocked, 'my lies will help you well when the time comes. March was a month of great storms of rain in that year, and the river-walls of the Thames were much weakened.