THE HEATH. 89
which stretched on all sides as far as he could see, were so withered that it was impossible to say whether they were alive or not.
And while Curdie ate there came a change. Clouds had gathered over his head, and seemed drifting about in every direction, as if not "shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind," but hunted in all directions by wolfish flaws across the plains of the sky. The sun was going down in a storm of lurid crimson, and out of the west came a wind that felt red and hot the on# moment, and cold and pale the other. And very strangely it sung in the dreary old hawthorn tree, and very cheerily it blew about Curdie, now making him creep close up to the tree for shelter from its shivery cold, now fan himself with his cap, it was so sultry and stifling. It seemed to come from the death-bed of the sun, dying in fever and ague
And as he gazed at the sun, now on the verge of the horizon, very large and very red and very dull—for though the clouds had broken away a dusty fog was spread all over him—Curdie saw something strange appear against him, moving about like a fly over his burning face. It looked as if it were coming out of his hot furnace-heart, and was a living creature of some kind surely; but its shape was very uncertain, because the dazzle of the light all around it melted its outlines. It was growing larger, it must be approaching! It grew so rapidly that by the