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I am trying to locate a children's novel that I read in the late 1980s. I thought the title was something like Down the Mountain, but I haven't found any evidence of the book online. (Things are not helped by there being a significant number of of other children's books that have that as part of their name.) I don't remember it as a particularly good book, but it had one very evocative scene.

The novel deals with a group of children in the present day, who become involved in a quest to visit a magic spring atop a small-ish mountain outside the town where they are staying. Sometimes it's just a spring, but when they finally make it there, they find the spring located inside a castle that exists outside of time.

Before they head up the mountain, they meet a woman who was been the spring and has been trying to get back ever since. She has a rock she took from the fountain, which sometimes gives here clairvoyant powers. She also got a vein of gold out of the rock, which she had made into the frame for a set of glasses.

At some point, somebody who understands the spring's magic explains: "The water widens perception; the gold deepens it; and the rock has communicative powers." It's the power of the gold that really made an impression on me. When the kids look through the glasses with the golden frame, they can see people's auras. Of two nuns walking by, one has a holy golden glow; the other is surrounded by black crucifixes with writing figures. A baby in a carriage is blowing pink bubbles, but her mother is emitting a gray cloud of fog, which seeps into the bubbles and weighs them down.

I'd like to find the book again, just for that one vivid scene. However, I have no idea who the author was or how old the book was when I read it. I might or might not have the title correct, but if I recall correctly, I haven't located any evidence of the book on the Web.

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Huzzah! I searched Google Books for "the water widens perception" again, and the book must have been added since last year. However, I had the title wrong; it is actually The Spring on the Mountain, by Judy Allen.

The Goodreads summary:

Peter, Michael and Emma are strangers, each despatched by their parents for a week's holiday with the Myers in their cottage at the foot of a Welsh mountain. Coincidence? Or has the strange neighbour, Mrs White, somehow lured them to enact an awesome quest? They are an uneasy trio, uncomfortable in their forced alliance, and they face their circumstances in very different ways - Mrs Myers anxious 'mothering', the enigmatic Mrs White, and the swirling sense of fear that seems trapped in the lane running past her house, her stories of Arthur's Way, the old straight track shrouded in legend that leads straight to the peak of the mountain, and her obsession with diverting the spring at the top. There are peculiar visitors and strange warnings, yet the children feel compelled to set off up Arthur's Way at the most dangerous time of year. What they discover, about unseen forces on earth, about the price of disturbing nature, about themselves, leads to a gripping climax in a spell-binding tale.

There was one review, which confirmed what I remembered about the book. While it had its moments, it certainly did not have a gripping climax.

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