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a strong eye to read, a profound ture is like," said he. “I am only heart and head to understand their an amateur; he is to the manner language aright.
born. His father was a chamois hunter and lost his life in the
chase ; his grandfather also. ChaCHAPTER XIV.
mois are rare now, so Pierre has AFTER lingering a day or two in turned peak - hunter, but he will the neighbourhood they continued probably end his days in the same their journey, following the beaten fashion, sooner or later, and knows track to Meyringen and onwards. it too.”
They met few travellers by the “Poor devil,” said Ichabod, with way. The single incident of that
a sneer. morning was a passing encounter “ You would not say so had you with English traveller, a heard the poor devil' holding member of the Alpine Club, whose forth on the subject to me the route lay with theirs for a short other day, and the enthusiasm with distance, and with whom, though which he spoke. His eyes posi
a perfect stranger, they tively glistened as he went through became friendly and communica- the perils he had escaped over tive in a few minutes. “It is again in relating them. Once he curious,” observed Ichabod to spent a whole day in a crevasse. Tony afterwards, “ that the social Once, when overtaken by a snowinstinct in man is always stronger storm, he only saved himself from in the mountains. It is ‘hail being frozen to death by scooping fellow well met' with anything in out a hollow in a drift-a kind of the form of flesh and blood we cell. He crept in there and so kept meet." But the said social in. himself alive till he could proceed. stinct did not prevent him from Last year he lost two companions nearly quarrelling with this man through the breaking of a rope. and brother of his before they As for the chamois hunt, when he had been in each other's company talks of that, his excitement is many minutes. The gentleman catching. Such intoxication sends was an audacious mountaineer, on that of the roulette table to limbo." his way to a certain pass, the “For utter unreason it certainly difficulties of which scared off all does beat that or anything else, but the most experienced climbers. retorted Ichabod, seeing that no Pressed by Tony he gave an ac- lasting advantage of any conceivcount of his this year's achieve- able kind can be won by it.” ments and one or two little un- The Alpine Clubbist, nettled, looked-for incidents by which they hinted that a man who had prohad been varied. Crossing a gla- bably never been off a bridle path cier by himself he had slipped into in his life knew absolutely nothing a crevasse, and had to make his of the subject he was talking way out by cutting steps in the ice about. Ichabod replied that if, as with his pocket knife; but of this he had just said, this madness was adventure, however, he was by no catching, most scrupulously should means proud, as it bore witness to he continue to keep out of its way. his own carelessness, which im- The war of words grew warmer, pressed him far more than his and it was fortunate that before successful skill in the matter. long their paths separated, and “Go to Pierre my guide if you
they wished each other farewell, want to know what the real ro- the peak-hunter expressing formal, mance of Alpine life and adven- polite hopes of meeting them
perhaps on the pavement of Picca- the wild scenery that incloses it, dilly in the course of next month. all give it a stamp of romance “Provided you don't succeed in nothing can efface. breaking your neck in the interval,” “Now, then, Ichabod," began suggested Ichabod considerately. Tony, “please to describe the The tourist laughed and assured nature of the admiration I feel at him that, with the exception of the the sight of this cataract.” little slip already alluded to, and “ That is quite easy. It springs
narrow shave of frostbite last chiefly from your sense of personal week on the Matterhorn, and a safety, whetted, of course, by the short fright when
benighted frail appearance. of the wooden through the ignorance of a bung- bridge we are standing upon, and ling guide, he had really run no contrasted with the smash and risk worth mentioning this season. havoc going on below. Freedom
“It's positive insanity,” said from pain and danger becomes Ichabod, as he and Tony pursued positive enjoyment in the sight of their journey on foot, along the other, even inanimate, things under path that skirts the rocky banks of rough treatment, such as those the Aar to Handeck and the waters torn and dashed about, and Grimsel. “Here you have the rough the rocks beaten and broken by peasant, who has never been out of destructive powers that cannot his own wretched country, and the touch ourselves." London man, who of all others, I “ And the rainbow in the spray; should think, might call himself it gives me quite a singular the citizen of the world, both under pleasure.”. the same infatuation. Off they go,
“Yes, like fly in amber, contentedly, to dangle by a rotten because you're not accustomed to rope over a precipice, and to be see it there. The common ad. alternately frost-bitten and sun- miration for the rainbow, however, struck, then exhausted, lacerated, I believe to be what they call a dashed to pieces at last.”
reflex feeling, a matter of associa“ Summum bonum à la montag- tions, dating from the time when narde," rejoined Tony, “another we were small boys and learnt to "current form of happiness' to add look upon it as the sign of fine to my list.”
weather and sunshine that was Towards evening they reached going to set us free from detested Handeck, that pleasant picturesque confinement indoors.” nook perched in the Alpine wilder- And Ichabod, having taken the ness, two hours' distant from any shine out of the waterfall and the human habitation. Tony rainbow, went off to write bis tired, and Ichabod wished to write letters at the inn. In his private letters ; so, instead of pushing on asceticism he had for many years to the Grimsel, they determined to been proof against the influence of stay the night in the quasi châlet- a beautiful view. Indeed, the inn at Handeck. It was early still, charms of scenery, with those of and they walked out first into the the fine arts and love, he had learnt little adjoining wood to look at the to class together and look on as falls of the Aar. It is here that effeminate weakness. People were the protracted beauties of that beginning to master it, but it still river suddenly rise to a climax. did a great deal of harm to many The precipitancy with which the a manly nature, blinding the eyes, waterfall bursts on the view, the paralysing the hands, and beguilheadlong swoop of its waters, and ing the mind into wasting hours
and hours over barren and unfruit- to pieces, like a twig, in the most ful contemplations.
blind and reckless manner, and Such as Tony's now.
without an atom of remorse afterHe and his character were in a wards. Well, and might they not critical stage, from which the most be in the right ? Who would be learned psychologist might have the loser? Not he, if his present been puzzled to prophesy how he valuation of life were a true one. would emerge. So far, Ichabod's And he fell deeper and deeper into influence had done its perfect work. some rather morbid speculations. Tony, looking now into his own Was it merely regard for the feelmind, found what seemed to him ings of his weak-minded and irraa dreary blank, swept free from all tionalistic parents and sisters that pleasant illusions. As unqualified a held him back ? spirit of distaste for the world as Stronger and steadier heads than even Ichabod could desire to see Tony's, playing with like firearms now filled their place. The Spanish of thoughts, have lost their balance, castles of youthful optimism had and in one moment of mastering not crumbled away without damag- frenzy, mental hallucination, or ing their builder, who raised them fatal consistency with their dark to dwell in.
creed, and when neither personal Looking back, it seemed years, fear nor childish associations have rather than a few months, since a stirred to stay them or call them time when he had beheld in the back to life-thrown up their apearth the
pointment here below. Calm empire of a happy soul,
There are times when, as it has Sphere of divinest shapes and har.
been said, with diabolical truth, monies,
moral suicide itself offers a resist
less fascination.. To let go our and could believe that love
hold on judgment, to look into and Makes the reptile equal to the god, infinitely divide realities till we lose and that to be
sight and perception of them as a
whole — this, nay, the strange Good, great, and joyous, beautiful, and
half-sense of madness- has the free, This is alone life, joy, empire, victory.
treacherous charm of opium, and
for the same reason-because it He and his ideas had travelled lulls present pain, brings apparent far since then, and found relief from what seemed so rooted, and taken up with that deformed inexorable, unbearable. creed dawning, that neither life, Tony in his meditations had joy, empire, victory, or freedom already gone far along this most are worth living for, that love dies perilous track. Already it would as soon as it is born, and usually have needed a strong power to reposes on a quicksand, that virtue recall him. is something we can very well do It was a crisis when 'he could without-a creed that in certain wish from his heart that fate would minds must lead to certain black take the responsibility off his hands, and fatal practical conclusions. that the rotten plank benuath him That crashing waterfall under
would give way and cut the Gordian neath
was extremely beautiful. knot of life for him at once and for But if the plank were to give way,
Then there was a (emon in or vertigo to come upon him, down his mind to suggest tha: it was he would be hurled, and the forces rank cowardice only that could of lovely nature would break him make him shrink from doing so
for himself-and he felt himself no revulsion of feeling had come over coward.
him. His nerves were in that over. Suddenly, through the plash of strung condition, when every imthe waterfall, he heard voices pression is magnified to the utmost below. Looking over the parapet, in its intensity and in power of his eye met the figures of a party rapid working. He was well awake of travellers standing on the bridge now, but felt like a man who has far beneath at the base of the barely escaped
nameless rocks. They could not see him for danger, and shudders instinctively,
He only saw even when safe, at the peril he has Ianthe Lee.
passed. Her rare, r - welcome face Something had scattered the looked up at him from under a pack of ill-omened thoughts as if dark - spreading picturesque som- by a magic wand, and he returned brero hat. The breeze played with to the châlet in an altered mood. her loosened curls ; her eyes, even
He found Ichabod at war with a from here, it seemed to him he fanatical French photographer, a could see their light. The moun.
gentleman who had sentenced him. tain air had heightened her colour, self to six weeks' solitary confineand the guides and her father were ment at Handeck, involving such involuntarily dividing their admira rough board and lodging as a clever tion between her and the waterfall. criminal might have made a Times
On Tony the impression was in- grievance of. The artist was very describable. Something like the eloquent on the subject of his shock of waking from what was sufferings, but declared himself, worse than the deadliest dream- nevertheless, in the third heaven. first sudden, then a long thrill of The fair weather for which he had relief so intense as to be absolutely waited so long had relented yesterpainful.
day, and condescended to favour He leaned over and continued to him. He had got a divine light, watch them while they lingered and taken the never-before-achieved below. When they moved away or attempted view upon which he and he heard the voices of the had set his heart. party mounting the hill, he made Ichabod could not help laughing his way to the edge of the wood, at his earnestness, or refrain from which he reached in time to catch reminding him that those six preone more glimpse of the travellers. cious weeks had been wasted, and Mr. Lee was on foot, his daughter that, supposing his pet photograph riding. They were not stopping at obtained ever such a sale, it could Handeck, intending evidently to never repay
him for the long delay push on that same night to the and enforced idleness. Grimsel. Tony they had not seen, The Frenchman exploded. Ah as he stood half-hidden by the yes, it might be one whim, it might trees. He would not come forward. be one folly, but it was part of He felt bewildered and dizzy- himself, for he had vowed to take everything before him, his own this view, which had baffled all self, seemed strange and unreal. other photographers. He would When the figures had disappeared have waited for it six months in he flung himself on his back on the this purgatory of an inn if he grass in the wood, staring upwards must. Money might go to the through the black fir boughs into deuce. Why, this was a question the blue sky above.
of a strong caprice. Not but what An extraordinary, unaccountable he meant to make as many francs
as he could out of his caprice now thing was as if seen through fairy he had succeeded, and he ended by glasses that distinctly showed even blandly suggesting that Ichabod the dewdrops, the gossamer threads, should put down his name for tiny ferns, and fibres of moss and half-a-dozen copies--a request that grass.
At intervals a meteor, like was summarily declined. He then a golden dart, shot through the attacked Tony, with a more satis- air, and sank out of sight behind factory result. Generosity. is one the black fir groves and stony of the first symptoms of a bright- mountains. The crash of the ening mind, and Ichabod had to waterfall was loud and ceaseless. shake his head over the incurably In spite of the magnificence impulsive character of his young of the scene, Tony was too taken friend.
up in teazing Ichabod to attend He had occasion to do so again to it. before the next morning. The “ What do you say to that?” he occupants of the châlet retired asked triumphantly. early to bed. Towards the middle “Just what I always have said, of the night Ichabod was roused that the moon has a great deal from a comfortable slumber by to answer for," Ichabod replied. Tony shaking him vigorously. “I verily believe that, but for
"I say, old fellow, get up, do ; her, we might have no lovers, no you must, indeed.”
poets.” “ What on earth for ?" muttered “No lunatics, in short,” laughed Ichabod, crossly, only half awake. Tony. “ To look at the moon.
“Exactly. Oh, I'd blow her out that's glorious, it baffles descrip- if I could, with her glamour and tion-imagination !”
glare, and deceptive veil. I thought “I-get up to look at a moon?” her day was past, though, and a He was wide awake now.
moonlight night a topic too old“Yes, I've been watching it this fashioned and puerile even for you half hour (“ Tony, what a fool to rave about it. And now, by you are!" put in Ichabod, paren- your leave, I shall go to bed.” thetically), till I couldn't help He went. But Tony remained, coming to wake you. One look and when he had done laughing, out of the window and you'll for- still sat, staring out and lucubragive me.”
ting, till driven by the piercing Tony, it is to be feared, was not cold to follow his friend's example. prompted solely by enthusiasm. He was stifling a laugh, and his face, but for the darkness, would
CHAPTER XV. have betrayed how thoroughly he enjoyed Ichabod's ineffable dis- “ TONY," remarked Ichabod, the gust.
following evening, "we have only The latter said nothing, but been abroad a week, it is true, but wrapped himself in his dressing- it strikes me that, whatever was gown and marched to the window, amiss with our health at starting, to judge between Tony and the we have both of us already con
trived to get into first-rate condi. It was a half moon, riding high tion again.' in a starry cloudless sky. The They had crossed the Grimsel intense brilliancy of the atmo- Pass that day, and were talking sphere seemed preternaturally to over their future movements in the quicken the power of vision. Every dining-room of the little hotel that