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'It is a fantastic view from the top.'

'Better be,'gasped Joe. 'How much further from there?'

'The river? A long way yet.'

A gust of wind waved the bracken across the track- a brief cooling.

'Often springs up in the afternoon,' said Peggy. 'Gets quite fresh sometimes.'

'Feels good,' said Joe.

In the above paragraph, what does 'springs up' refer to? Is it the air that springs up or the river springs up?

I am trying to read English short story and I do not understand that part. Can you help me? Thank you.

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  • 2
    Look for the last subject mentioned. Since the phrase "a brief cooling" refers to the [gust of] wind, it must be this. "Springs up" means arise, so the meaning fits the subject. The fact that the wind is not mentioned in the dialogue makes the sentence difficult to interpret. I don't know who this short story is by, but you need something better to read. – Mick Dec 17 '16 at 6:30
  • What story are you quoting? Please include the name of the story and a link to where it can be found. And as Mr Mick has stated it probably refers to the wind. It's unfortunate that the writer uses springs up because rivers spring up but winds, not so much. – AmE speaker Dec 17 '16 at 6:38
  • Thank you so much Mick and Clare. The story is 'Wildfire' by 'Bill Brannigan'. – zhanng Dec 17 '16 at 7:38
  • And it is from a book, so I don't have link to it. – zhanng Dec 17 '16 at 7:52
  • @Clare I'd be much more likely to use 'springs up' for wind than rivers. A river may 'have its spring/source' or 'rise, at a certain place but i don't think i've ever heard that described as being where it 'springs up'. Any sudden wind i would certainly describe as springing up. – Spagirl Dec 17 '16 at 17:23
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These characters are both omitting the subject ("it"), and this is a way of showing how comfortable they are with each other. Mick is right, that you should look for the closest antecedent, to figure out what is meant by "it".

Next, "spring up" is not used literally here. You might need to reason kind of like in the transitive property in math (if a = b and b = c, then a = c). You probably know that spring can be used to mean jump; jumping means a quick upward motion; so from this we can think of a wind springing up as a wind that comes up, or appears, quickly or suddenly.

That's if you can't find it in a dictionary. But if you can, more's the luck.

2.2 spring up: Suddenly develop or appear ‘a terrible storm sprang up’

Oxford Dictionary

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