We packed the lunch and two bottles of wine in the rucksack,
and Bill put it on. I carried the rod-case and the landing-nets
slung over my back. We started up the road and then went across
a meadow and found a path that crossed the fields and went
toward the woods on the slope of the first hill. We walked across
the fields on the sandy path. The fields were rolling and grassy
and the grass was short from the sheep grazing. The cattle were
up in the hills. We heard their bells in the woods.
The path crossed a stream on a foot-log. The log was surfaced
off, and there was a sapling bent across for a rail. In the flat pool
beside the stream tadpoles spotted the sand. We went up a steep
bank and across the rolling fields. Looking back we saw Burguete,
white houses and red roofs, and the white road with a truclc going
along it and the dust rising.
Beyond the fields we crossed another faster-flowing stream. A
sandy road led down to the ford and beyond into the woods. The
path crossed the stream on another foot-log below the ford, and
joined the road, and we went into the woods.
It was a beech wood and the trees were very old. Their roots
bulked above the ground and the branches were twisted. We
walked on the road between the thick trunks of the old beeches
and the sunlight came through the leaves in light patches on the
grass. The trees were big, and the foliage was thick but it was not
gloomy. There was no undergrowth, only the smooth grass, very
green and fresh, and the big gray trees well spaced as though it
were a park.
"This is country" Bill said.
The road went up a hill and we got into thick woods, and the
road kept on climbing. Sometimes it dipped down but rose again
steeply. All the time we heard the cattle in the woods. Finally,
the road came out on the top of the hills. We were on the top of
the height of land that was the highest part of the range of
wooded hills we had seen from Burguete. There were wild straw-
berries growing on the sunny side of the ridge in a little clearing
in the trees.
Ahead the road came out of the forest and went along the
shoulder of the ridge of hills. The hills ahead were not wooded,
and there were great fields of yellow gorse. Way off we saw the
steep bluffs, dark with trees and jutting with gray stone, that
marked the course of the Irati River.