|The village of Furl.
(From an article, The Papermakers written by Douglas Windowbook, brother of the more famous Adrian.)
"It is rare to find a truly happy village. I believe that I have found one. On the right-hand side of the Fly as you float downstream along the drawn-out, sensuous length of the river between Gum Gooloo Gum Jublet and the mudflats you will hear an awesome din of grinding and squelching while at the same time the scent of trampled grass will descend on you like a cloud. You are about to reach the village of Furl which is dedicated to the creation of paper.
Furl was originally part of the estate of the Marchionesses Furl, a long-lived dynasty that went the way of all other dynasties when the Exians came through. The family disappeared. Rumour has it that they are still alive somewhere, but no-one can say where. What we do know is that they had an abiding fascination with paper. Their interior walls of their manor were made of paper stretched on wooden frames, their furniture was papier mache, they slept between soft sheets of paper and declared that they would eat the stuff if only it were possible to thereby receive nutrition. Fights between paper kites formed the favourite sport of the estate. They ordered the construction of an enormous barn and had it filled with a paper landscape, enlivened by paper houses, paper plants and paper animals invented by themselves. Paper boats floated along paper rivers and paper birds swooped dangerously through the air in the ends of threads swung by a team of sisters concealed inside the paper sky's paper clouds. This paper country was regularly opened to all of Furl's citizens, and there was much anger when the Exians destroyed it. Unsurprisingly, the locals' skill at making paper by this time was something extraordinary. The village became known during the Renaissance as the country's primary source of paper and its good fortune has continued ever since.
Farms around the village are kept busy supplying the Furlians with Hair, which is dumped into huge, shallow troughs and spread out to a roughly even depth by villagers armed with rakes. Gum, made from the extrusions of willow trees, is added. When a trough is filled, tramplers descend upon it and stamp the stalks to pulp while water-carriers circulate with basins of water, pouring moisture into any spot where it seems to be needed. Once the grass has been converted to mash it is shovelled into vats attached to pivot-cranes, which transfer it sideways onto the vast horizontal drying racks. Each new vat-load is hastily spread upon the racks and flattened with a roller which (as it travels, sending up a fine plume of grass-scented spray) also squeezes away excessive moisture. As the paper dries, its green fades to pale brown and the soggy paste becomes a tough, floppy sheet with the texture of skin.
All ten of the stamping troughs are kept at different stages of the process: while one is being cleared out, another will be newly filled and the rest will be at various points of transition. The people are always busy and jolly. I am not naive enough to say that every single one of them is happy all the time, but there does seem to be a level of cheerfulness here which I have not often seen in other places. The act of stamping and grinding the crop confers a great joy upon them which they attempt to share by grinning at you through faces covered solidly with green muck"