« AnteriorContinuar »
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
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 canno
nonade, 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
biscuit and tobacco. It is a letter. How long it has lain there, or who it is intended for, we cannot imagine. Long since the envelope has been frayed away, and become tattered; the address, if ever it had any, is no longer decipherable. The note it contained is safe enough, but somewhat torn. It began, “My dearest," and wound up with “from your own fond love." What else it contained we must not say, but it brought back tender thoughts of home and friends, and we felt it might have been for our reading, and we put it away carefully, and once more turned to our task. One long hour's toil, and at last we sat astride the high peak. The enchantment of the scene forbids any attempt at description ; and the vague feeling of insecurity, as we looked down from our giddy height upon the steep mountain side, made us rather think of our safety than linger there with so much danger pressing around us. The cold, too, which we could not feel in our ascent, now began to warn us that if it once got possession of our limbs, it could not easily be shaken off, as we had learned by experience. So, without remaining one minute longer than the time demanded while we satisfied ourselves as to the problem that brought us there, we dismounted, and began slowly to pick our downward steps. The steep places on a mountain of this cha