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La Grenadiere by Honoré de Balzac
page 2 of 33 (06%)
houses all belong. And yet a little further the Choisille flows into
the Loire, through a fertile valley cut in the long low downs.

La Grenadiere itself, half-way up the hillside, and about a hundred
paces from the church, is one of those old-fashioned houses dating
back some two or three hundred years, which you find in every
picturesque spot in Touraine. A fissure in the rock affords convenient
space for a flight of steps descending gradually to the "dike"--the
local name for the embankment made at the foot of the cliffs to keep
the Loire in its bed, and serve as a causeway for the highroad from
Paris to Nantes. At the top of the steps a gate opens upon a narrow
stony footpath between two terraces, for here the soil is banked up,
and walls are built to prevent landslips. These earthworks, as it
were, are crowned with trellises and espaliers, so that the steep path
that lies at the foot of the upper wall is almost hidden by the trees
that grow on the top of the lower, upon which it lies. The view of the
river widens out before you at every step as you climb to the house.

At the end you come to a second gateway, a Gothic archway covered with
simple ornament, now crumbling into ruin and overgrown with
wildflowers--moss and ivy, wallflowers and pellitory. Every stone wall
on the hillside is decked with this ineradicable plant-life, which
springs up along the cracks afresh with new wreaths for every time of

The worm-eaten gate gives into a little garden, a strip of turf, a few
trees, and a wilderness of flowers and rose bushes--a garden won from
the rock on the highest terrace of all, with the dark, old balustrade
along its edge. Opposite the gateway, a wooden summer-house stands
against the neighboring wall, the posts are covered with jessamine and
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