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gave fresh vigour to our limbs, and the muscles, beginning to flag with the constant strain upon them up to this point, gained fresh strength as we toiled up the steep mountain side. Our lungs, renewed with the wholesome draught, could help us upwards, we thought for ever. Time, the bore to all enjoyment, at last began to tell on our limited powers, some of the boasters being the first to cry out. In pity to these, we halt and hold a council. It would be a grave reproach to us, having set out with so desirable an object, to return back defeated, and there in front of us, at but a trifling distance apparently, stands the summit of the peaks above, whose crest we had resolved to reach. Once there, we have but to look in any direction, and resolve any doubts we may have as to the geography of the region.
We felt bound to go on and explore. The distance seemed so trifling, that any labour we might endure in gaining the top was nothing in comparison with the disgrace of failure. We resolved to push on, and invited some one willing to go as a companion. Magnus at once volunteered, and our arrangements were soon made. The others were to return at once to the schooner, while we two would attempt the ascent. If we gained it, we would act as circumstances would direct, and return by some other route. All the biscuits and slices
of congealed soup, no longer wanted by the returning party, were quickly collected for our own use in case of any emergencies we could not foresee; and after a kind adieu to our companions, we once more faced the mountain. We had no idea of the work cut out for us, or we also might then have gone back.
We had arrived at the limit of vegetation, and began the laborious task of scrambling with uncertain foot-hold upon the bare mountain side amongst rough and crumbling shale and sharp fractured stone. Gradually the ascent became difficult, as the slippery surface crumbled away beneath our weight, and went rushing down the mountain side. Now we came upon a glacier in the shade of the southern crests and shady nooks concealed from the direct rays of the sun by overhanging and steep rocks. The ice, though proverbially treacherous to walk upon, was a welcome change to us, after the loose shingle, so difficult to travel over. A mountain stream, having its origin far up in the mountain, came racing down; in some places it spread itself over the glacier, in others it went thundering down the mouths of yawning caverns in the ice, and these great pits looked far too terrible to venture near. My good friend Magnus, who owns a farm in the Shetlands, and has gained a reputation for his wonderful feats of cliff-climbing amongst his hardy
countrymen, men noted for deeds of daring when engaged in egg-collecting along the almost inaccessible cliffs that fringe their home, is not without some slight apprehension here.
Still we are both resolved, and the air is cold up here, and the atmosphere is laden with frost, but we do not feel it; on the contrary, we are melting with the heat induced by our exertion in climbing.
Far above us we see a tempting ridge projecting somewhat, and once there, we agree in thinking we have gained our object. To it we press on with all the zeal we can command. We press the stocks of our rifles into the shingle, and in this way make considerable progress. Coming to an enormous boulder that stands on the very face of the mountain, and derives its slender support from some little heap of débris, and perhaps a slightly projecting rock, we stop a moment to wonder at its evident insecurity. The winter frost, acting on the water collected in little pools and on the saturated soil, eats away what formerly was the support of these almost detached blocks, so that at last they seem to hang by a thread. It is too much for the boy-like feelings of Magnus. Out it must go, the prisoner must be set free; and he settles. to work with a will. Soon the support is undermined,
A PUSH AND A PINCH.
and a slight push is all that is needed to liberate the boulderstone. We push, and down, down the steep mountain sidethe enormous mass literally thunders as it crashes along. The echo from all sides raised by its frightful noise reverberates through the mountain. We stand for a single moment and gaze in wonder at the falling mass, but the vibration caused by our imprudent act might have proved a serious difficulty for us. Above us, on all sides, the rough projecting masses of rock begin to descend in turn, and as they come rattling down we fear their accelerated speed will soon sweep us away with the avalanche of stones now set rolling
We dared not attempt to descend : such an attempt was certain to end fatally. What could we do? In a moment we were resolved. Close by was a glacier ; once on that we would be safe. Some way_we know no way of explaining how—we got there in time to escape from the pressing danger, and in time to watch the flight of missiles shot out by the mountain. It resembled in sound a continued cannonade, while the din lasted ; and then the noise and clatter as suddenly stopped, and the old silence once more reigned on the mountain side—a silence only disturbed by the trickling noise of the mountain stream.
Now we determined to advance in silence; not a word was spoken. If we required to communicate our wishes we made signs to one another, using the greatest caution not to disturb the mountain side again. Following in single file, one track served for both. Here we laboured upwards with difficulty. Once, when we found our progress impeded by a projecting ledge, we were forced to go down a little way, and going down even a little was a work of severe toil. After a six hours' climb, we sit quietly down for a short rest, and to eat a morsel. A draught of the cold pure water was to us most deliciously refreshing. Falling in a reverie, I pull unconsciously a bit of paper from my pocket, stored as it is with broken