First published in The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories (1907); This publication contains original artwork by Jakob Grim.

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The Willows

After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sümpfe, meaning marshes. In high flood this great acreage of sand, shingle-beds, and willow-grown islands is almost topped by the water, but in normal seasons the bushes bend and rustle in the free winds, showing their silver leaves to the sunshine in an ever-moving plain of bewildering beauty. These willows never attain to the dignity of trees; they have no rigid trunks; they remain humble bushes, with rounded tops and soft outline, swaying on slender stems that answer to the least pressure of the wind; supple as grasses, and so continually shifting that they somehow give the impression that the entire plain is moving and alive. For the wind sends waves rising and falling over the whole surface, waves of leaves instead of waves of water, green swells like the sea, too, until the branches turn and lift, and then silvery white as their underside turns to the sun.


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Algernon Blackwood
Algernon Blackwood
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was an English short story writer and novelist, known for his supernatural fiction. He was born in London and after a nomadic childhood and youth spent in Canada, he began his writing career in the late 1890s. Blackwood's stories often feature eerie, otherworldly events, and his work has been compared to that of M.R. James and Arthur Machen. He wrote over 20 books and numerous short stories, many of which have been reprinted and continue to be popular with fans of supernatural fiction.
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