Cursing their untimely indulgence, he got about a dozen men rapidly
mounted on the fleetest horses, taking care Elfric should be one, and
dashed off in pursuit of the fugitives.
Dunstan and his party had ridden some four or five hours, when the moon
became overcast, and low peals of distant thunder were heard. The
atmosphere was so intensely hot, and the silence of nature so
oppressive, that it was evident some convulsion was at hand.
"Is there any shelter near?"
"Only a ruined city [xxiv] in the wood on the left hand,
but it is a dangerous place to approach after nightfall. They say evil
spirits lurk there."
"They tell that story of every ruined place, be it city, temple, or
house; and even if it be, we have more cause to dread evil men than evil
The guide hesitated no longer, and struck into a bypath, which
penetrated the depth of the woody marsh through which the Foss Way then
had its course. After a minute or two it became evident, from the
footing, that they were upon the paved work of a causeway overgrown with
weeds and rank herbage; huge mounds showed where fortifications had once
existed, and shortly, broken pillars and ruined walls appeared at
They had little time to look around them, for the storm had come rapidly
up, and the glare of the lightning was incessant, while the rain poured
down in absolute torrents. Before them rose a huge ruin covered with ivy
and with the roof partly protecting the interior.