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hind the towering precipice overhead. but with more comfort. I began to realIts rich light flooded the downward slope ize that speed is not everything among of a grass patch to the right. There must the Alps. I was much too hurried bebe a gully there, down which the light fore. But it was getting late. The can penetrate. The keen mountain air shadows behind were growing longer, even against the cold face of this never-warmed a purple shade seemed to have reached the rock chilled ine. That rock had never blue lake below. And, worst of all, a seen the sun. I buttoned up my coat, mist was creeping over the top of the cliff. and altered my course for the gully. Vague shreds, as if of cotton-wool, were
After great exertions, I managed to spreading orerhead. I should be in a reach a fairly easy place. The parrow cheerful position if a thick fog came on, escapes I had gone through caused me to I couldn't go down, I knew. It had appreciate the change from the position taken me all I was capable of to get of a fly when clinging to the ceiling to the along that ledge when going up. It would Jess sustained effort of resting on a ledge be death to attempt it going down. A of the cornice. At last I could sit down. way must be found past that twenty feet
There was the same view before me. of cliff between me and dinner. A few more peaks of the Bernese Ober- By warily hooking on to slight rough. land rose up. The blue lake looked nesses in the sides of the gully, I managed smaller and farther down. That was all. to work my way so far to the right that I I looked at my watch. It was four could see round the edge. There was a o'clock. I must get on. I had taken an ledge beyond, which seemed to extend up hour in climbing about two hundred feet. to the top. Could I reach it? It was This would never do. After a little re- very ticklish work, but, thanks to my nails freshment I buckled to my work. The -I mean on my boots—I managed it. gully was reached, the course became less In another quarter of an hour I was a vichazardous, although rather more fatiguing. tor. I had gained the summit, but I was At last I was within sight of the top. A utterly ignorant of where I was. Almost few more scrapings, a little more back- at the same moment that I set foot on the wrenching, knee-twisting struggles, and I edge of the cliff, drops of rain began to should be there. I endured them all, and fall, and in an instant, as it were, I was -I was not there! I was on my ledge in a shroud of mist. again, and very nearly in another world. "This is what I expected," I said ; My foot had slipped, as I tried for the “it won't last long. I've observed these thousandth time to bump my mouth with fogs seldom do. Only I must be careful my knees, and, to the great destruction of how I go.And so I warily stepped out my garments, I alighted on my feet and into the unknown. Somehow I felt like the ledge at the same moment, What a sort of Jack who had climbed his Beananguish I suffered! I had come down in stalk and was setting out for the ogre's a second as many feet as it had taken me castle. Presently I observed I was going minutes to get up. But time is no meas- down-hill. The descent became steeper. ure of such effort. And then my gar- Once I nearly slipped. This would not inents--! Luckily, at the rate I was do. I could see nothing ahead of me, progressing, it would be midnight before and I knew that steep grass slopes like I reached the haunts of men. But what this often end in terrible precipices. I distressed me most was that I had broken must be careful. I stopped and picked my flask and dropped my match-box. up a stone-a large one. I let it roli After a little rest I set to work again, and gently out of my hand. It bounded away this time I succeeded—that is, I climbed in an instant. I heard one bump not far to within twenty feet of the top, and there off, then absolute silence. This looked found a perpendicular wall of sheer rock, awkward. I hardly dared to move. It utterly impossible to get up. I have since seemed little use going back ; to go foradmired Alpine climbers much more. I ward was very like walking to certain thought they overrated themselves before ; death. It was better to stand still, and now I don't think they can estimate them- hope for the mist to lift. selves enough. I am an Alpine climber. After sitting shivering in the cold air,
And so I had to come down half-way wet to the skin, for about half an hour, a again. I did this less rapidly than before, yellow gleam rent the veil before me, and,
almost like magic, a wonderful picture ap- stiff. My head seemed acbing a good peared. So dazzling was the sudden deal, and I could not make out where I change, that I could not look at it at first. I turned over and sat up. When I could bear the light, I saw that I quite dark. Gradually recollection came had done well to stop. Far down below back, and I cautiously tried to get up.
were a few dots on a green patch. As I succeeded, I felt tolerably certain no These were châlets ; beyond wound a bones were broken ; but my head felt silver streak. Opposite rose a towering strange. I sat down again to collect my wall of rock, clothed half-way up with thoughts. I seemed to have fallen on a trees, mostly fir, and then ending in pre- grassy patch. As I sat, a church bell, far cipitous jagged cliffs. Through a gap in below, sounded. I counted the strokes. this wall a gleam of gold stretched far It was ten o'clock. How litterly cold it away. A gray line separated it from the was ! The mist had cleared away and the sun,
whose level rays were strearning over stars were sbining. All was absolutely the saw-like edge of the cliffs before me, still. A black object loomed up before and lighting up the roof of purple mist me, on either side was gray obscurity. which floated overhead. Far down on The shape of the thing looked like a the right, the blue lake seemed to girdle a house. What luck! I should now get collection of boxes. This was a town on some milk and be put on the right road. the edge of the water. The sense of " What a fortunate tumble !" I thought ; height, of space, of distance, was so great,
of distance, was so great, “ I should never have hit upon this had I I seemed to be sitting in the car of a bal- not come down that short cut." loon, and looking down on the world I got up. I felt very dizzy. Everybelow. Beautiful as it was, I could not thing I had on was dripping wet. Never help feeling giddy as I peered into the mind. With a fire such as is always dim depths beneath, and thought how quickly kindled in a châlet, and with hot much safer the car of a balloon was than milk, I should soon be warm again. the slippery slope of that dizzy height. With much caution I groped my way The clouds still clung to the mountain be- through the long grass, avoiding the stones hind, but I saw enough to tell me I must which lay all about as well as I could. I go a little way back.
had hardly taken three steps, when to my The sickly light of the sunset, dazzling further relief I noticed the châlet was as it was, did not forebode a dry evening. lighted up. A pale light streamed out I was already shivering with cold ; how from some opening on the side away from should I manage if I had to pass the night me. All doubt was at an end now. I on this bleak peak ? The snow lay in stepped through the long wet grass more broad patches around, and the chill even- confidently. In a few minntes I had reached ing air cut through my tattered clothes. the angle of the wall. I noticed that the I hastened to find a way down. After ground dropped directly from the edge of walking across a pretty level patch of the further side of the building. It bescrub, a steep slope fell away before me. hooved me to be very careful.
I had no Cautiously going down this, I had almost wish for another descent. The light still reached the edge, where it seemed I threw its pale beam across the darkness. might find foothold down the cliff, when In another moment I stood before a black the sunlight disappeared, and like a pall patch in the gray mass in front. The the mist closed in again.
light had disappeared. I thought it odd ; But I could not stop now : I was too but concluded that, alarmed by the steps cold, and it was getting dark. I could of some unknown person, the occupant see the face of the precipice, and a little had concealed the light. I took the dark ledge seemed to give hopes of a footing. patch before me for a door. I tapped at The descent was not so sheer as had been it with my stick ; but it touched nothing. that of the cliff up which I had climbed. The door must be open. I called out. For some little distance I managed famous- No answer. There was absolute silence, ly, when suddenly I missed my footing, as there had been since the church clock and-well, I don't know what happened boomed far down below in the valley. Not for the following hour or so. The next a sound in that quiet ledge, surrounded by thing I can remember is that I was lying precipices above and below, broke the on my side, very cold and wet, and rather utter stillness of the solemn gloom.
“They are very cautious," I thought. worms, all doing their best, and collected “I had better be on my guard too.” in a mass, could hardly have produced the Thoughts of coiners of base money, con- light I saw.
Eels don't live in the mountrebandiers, thieves, passed across my tains, and fireflies I did not think fre. mind. But, after all, was I sure it was a quented Switzerland. I felt I must at châlet? It was not very dark, but the least be philosophical, or I should give way light of the stars cast only a shimmering to the effects of the tumble, the wet, the pallor orer the gray vague mass before me. cold, and the hunger, which was beginning I could distinguish a long low wall. Two to make itself felt. openings in it, the dark patch before me, “ Is there any one here ?'' I called out and one to my right. Above, a low- in French ; and mon malheureux acpitched roof spread in one gable from end. cent" was never more forcibly brought to end of the building. A rank smell home to me, as I had to listen to that deseemed to come from the place, and the testable echo while it repeated the words whole effect was to produce a sense of ab- three times. solute desertion and solitude. I was so Disgusted at getting no other ancold, however, and so sure of having seen swer, and irritated at the mocking sound, a light, that I determined to enter. The I groped further into the darkness. My door was open, or rather, as I afterward foot kicked against a bundle. I put down found, there was
The rank my hand ; it felt like a loose sack. I smell was more pungent as I passed over kicked it again to see if it were hard. the threshold, leaving the starlight and Something cracked inside. “It's full of the sweet cold air of night behind me. dry twigs no doubt. If only I had a All was utter absolute silence. I paused, match to make a fire !! But as I hadn't, after taking a few steps in. I could just I sat down on the bundle, for I was tired make out, as my eyes grew accustomed to and disheartened. It was rery empty the darkness, that there were some stalls that bundle, and the twigs were very hard, for cattle, and as I turned I thought I saw and brittle, and sharp. They cracked and a dark figure behind me ; but I found it broke inside, and gave way under my was only an upright post which came be. weight. I got up again, more disgusted tween me and an opening in the wall on
How very nasty the place the other side. There was a creepy damp- was ! The reek of the pungent dampness ness about the place which caused me to rose fouler on the chilly air. I stepped shiver. It was ghostly enough by itself. over the bundle, and in doing so bumped But the light which had been extinguished my head against a beam. The touch was as I actually stood before the open door very light, but the pain was considerable, added a curious mystery to the place. and I felt something warm trickle down
As I stood shivering and irresolute, my cheek. I put up my hand. It seemed peering into the darkness, a cold breath sticky and wet. I must have cut my head. passed over my face, and something I did not know till the next morning that touched me. I twitched involuntarily, I received a severe scalp-wound in my and uttered a startled exclamation. A fall, and that the slight knock of the beam low mutfled voice seemed to repeat my had caused the wound to bleed afresh. It voice in a mocking tone three times, is curious how the consciousness that you fainter and fainter each time.
are bleeding affects the nerves.
1 must “ It was a bat,” I said aloud ; " and have lost a great deal of blood before ; there is an echo here.
but as I was quite ignorant of it, I merely A hollow parody of the sounds of my put down my weariness to fatigue, and voice came back three times. There was thought little of it. Now I felt alarmed. clearly an echo here.
1 leaned against the side of the stall, and But no echo could cause a light. Noises tied my head up with my handkerchief. and even touches could be accounted for Hurt and tired as I was, I resolved to spend by animals ; but I never heard of any ani. the rest of the night in that châlet. The mal, except a human being, which could floor seemed dry and littered with fir-twigs. light a candle and put it out on the ap. I scraped a few together, put them against proach of strangers. There are glow- the stall, and sat down.
As I did so my worms, fire-flies, phosphorescent eels, and boot kicked against the bundle. Somesuchlike. But even ten million glow- thing rattled inside. The foul atmosphere seemed to grow clammier ; but I was too twigs crackled. Even the old stall against weary to pay attention to this. In a few which I was leaning creaked as I breathed. minutes I should have been asleep. But these others could move about, and
I was leaning with my back against the actually grasp my hand without making a stall, one hand was in my coat-pocket, the sound. other lay beside me. I bad sprinkled a As I gazed fixedly into the darkness, it few twigs over me, in the idea of getting seemed as if the place became lighted some warmth out of them. Whether they with a pale, indefinite sickly light. The really did produce any heat I don't know; door and the window, which had been anyhow I felt as if I were covered up a lit- before the only lighter patches in the tle, and was just nodding off to sleep when darkness, now became dark. I could see something cold grasped my hand, --some- the old tumble-down walls, the gray beams thing which held it tight as if with a hand over my head with fir-twigs and wisps of of ice. A thrill of horror shot all through hay hanging down between, the wormme, and in an instant I was wide awake. eaten and rickety stalls, and in a far corWhat was it? There was no sound. ner a huge tub. At my feet was the sack Could it be a snake ? I shuddered with I had stumbled over, and a dark pool of terror. Involuntarily I put out my other stagnant water close beside it. Why did hand and felt cautiously all round. There I see all this? There was no light visible. was nothing there! But my hand was I mean there was no means to produce held. Was it paralysis ! was it numbness this light. The pale luminous atmosphere from the cold and injuries I had received ! was of equal tone nearly everywhere in I should have thought so, and should think that tumble-down, ruinous, old châlet, so now, only for a strange circumstance. except that over the sack it seemed a litA low, unearthly, far-away laugh-a laugh tle more brilliant. The sack appeared to so full of blood-curdling, heartless, cruel, give out the light, so to speak, for it had mocking devilry, such as I never heard be. no shadow round it : only its dull dirty fore, and I hope never to hear again- brown seemed to be set in a pale phosbroke the dead silence. At the same time phorescent glow, like a huge glowworm. a shadow seemed to pass between me and Surely I was not imagining all this? I the pale light which marked the other had never seen the châlet before, how window. As I had not moved this time, could I picture its interior so minutely ? it could not be a post. Somebody must One châlet is much like another it is true, have come in, or more likely have been and I had kicked against the sack. But concealed in the châlet all the time. It I could not have imagined that great tub was a horrible position. I had no weapon in the corner.
No châlet I had ever seen with me, and the utter silence with which had that. Why should my imagination my hand had been seized-it was my right have suggested that? There it was, and ---as well as the nature of the laugh, as- I must be conscious, sured me I had to do with no friendly peo- The strange thing was, that the light, ple. I tried to move my hand. I could instead of cheering me, made me feel more not stir it. What strength the other must creepy. I could see everything now. be possessed of! But what was the Nothing seemed to conceal anything. All other? How could I be held without objects were clearly, though faintly, disfeeling the means by which I was held ? tinct. There were no deep shadows, as Could my hand be paralyzed by an elec- there would have been had the light tric shock? I could think of no other emanated from a candle or a lamp. Everypower, so sudden, powerful, and intangi. thing seemed permeated, so to say, and ble, as well as noiseless.
Such an agency
Juminous. But what a ghastly luminosity as the supernatural does not readily occur it was ! It was pale-blue in tone, and to an every-day, practical mind. I had
I had sickly. What produced it? I looked at always felt that what is called supernatural the sack. It fascinated me with a horriis only another name for the unknown in ble curiosity. I noticed its shape. I rescience. Here was the unknown. Pos- membered how hollow it was, and how the sibly the phenomenon might presently be twigs had cracked and broken inside. I classed with the supernatural. But it was remembered how they had clattered as I anything but pleasant. The silence was kicked it. There was a smooth round horribly oppressive. When I inoved the knob or projection in the coarse cloth close
to my hand : three long twigs seemed to grave. I could stand it no longer. I be lying almost across it. I looked down rushed to the door. closer. Were they twigs? They were The cool air of the mountain could not long and brown and curiously knotted. revive me. I was shivering from head to The old rag covered the rest.
foot. Icy cold and hot by turns, I knew I looked closer still : horror of horrors ! I must have caught a feverish attack. But they were the emaciated fingers of what how could I face that horrible hut ? Was was almost a skeleton !. As I sprang up I really dreaming? A sound broke the in disgust, my foot kicked once more solemın silence. The church clock in the against the sack. The old worn-out rags valley far down below was striking one. gave way, and a ghastly skull fell through Should I have heard that in my dreams? the rent.
No! I know I was awake! Far away a line of light was twinkling under the dark
mass of the distant mountains on the opWas it all a horrible dream? The re- posite shore of the lake. It was Montreux. sult of my fall ? Who knows? All I How curiously the sight of that pre-emiknow is, I felt sure I was awake, that it nently artificial settlement contrasted with was no delirium. With the sudden realiza- the mysterious châlet behind me, with its tion of the horror, my hand had recov- dreadful unreality and ghastly tenants ! ered its natural force. I started up, and There opposite to me were the electric would have rushed from the hut.
lights of the new botel at Territet. Be" Good heavens ! what is that ?" I bind me was the dim ruin with its fearful gasped, as instead of stepping forward, I secrets. shrank back in greater horror. A figure How cold it was ! The stars were shinwas entering the hut. A wizened decrepiting, and a pale light over the north-east figure, staggering under a heavy load. It showed where the sun was travelling made no sound as it came in. I could not Three hours more and I should be able to see its face. The load on its back seemed find my way down. At least there was to be alive. It stirred and writhed as it this comfort, that if there was a châlet Jay across the shoulders of its bearer. there must be a path to it. Unless, inThe figure came close to me As it deed, the whole thing were a ghastly stepped over the sack, the same horrible, dream. blood-curdling, cruel low laugh or chuckle I turned to look at the old building. I grated on the silence. It paused and had to force myself to do it. I expected looked up. Can any words describe that to see that fearful figure standing in the face, the expression, I wonder ? Malig- door. All was dark and still, Was it nant gratified hate, the cruel smile of a really all a dream ? It was very cold out dangerous lunatic, cunning and diabolical; there. Three hours is a long time to wait.. the ferocity of a brutal murderer, were all My clothes were torn, and the long grass in that awful face. The face of a man was dripping wet. I could not lie down long dead, grioning, dry, black, and re- in it. I could hardly stand for three pulsive, like the mummies in the morgue hours. I was very tired. Should I be of the Hospice of St. Bernard.
frightened by a nightmare, however dreadThe figure passed on. It went toward ful? My head was light from my fall. the huge tub in the corner. The burden I would be more sensible. I would go in still convulsively writhed at intervals. I again. It was still far too dark to think now noticed, for the first time, that a of trying to find any way down. As I vapor seemed to curl up and float over the approached the old tumbledown building, great caldron. The figure, with its still I could not help shuddering. I never feebly moving burden, had reached the knew a dream so vivid. However, it must corner. Silently it came up to the tub. be a dream. There are the electric lights The burden twitched convulsively. There of that grand hotel at Territet. was a heave. The vapor seemed suddenly teries can exist in the face of the triumphs agitated, and the figure remained alone, of our civilization. But in spite of my intently watching the interior of the tub. trying to bluster out my fears, I did not The vibrating of the huge vessel and the at all like getting nearer to that dark door. twisting vapor told of some frightful con- I looked furtively in. All was black and tortions within. But all was silent as the silent. The damp, nasty, unwbolesome.
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