Reading an old story from Ambrose Pierce, I am not sure about the ending of this (long) sentence:

After performance of this pious rite Haita unbarred the gate of the fold and with a cheerful mind drove his flock afield, eating his morning meal of curds and oat cake as he went, occasionally pausing to add a few berries, cold with dew, or to drink of the waters that came away from the hills to join the stream in the middle of the valley and be borne along with it, he knew not whither.

I assume the "be borne with it" refers to the water - but not sure what it means. The last part, about whithering, I am not sure what is the exact meaning.

1 Answer 1


"Whither" is an old word, not used nowadays, that means "to where". English also had "hither=to here" and "thither= to there". In current English we would say "he knew not where" or "he didn't know where". It means he doesn't know where the water in the stream is going to. It is not related to "wither" (meaning dry up and die)

In more modern and less poetic English you might say. "... drink some of the water that came from the springs on the hills to join the stream in the middle of valley and then flowed away to an unknown distant place."

The old words are preserved as linguistic fossils in some expressions: "He ran hither and thither" or "whither do you wander?"

  • I see. Thanks a lot! I would not have figured this one out by myself!
    – John V
    Oct 31, 2020 at 12:32

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