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whom he followed had often visited his abode, and to his unerring instinct he implicitly trusted. Sometimes the bare and precipitous ice called for the use of his pointed pole, and his guide was then dependent on him for a share of its support. Sometimes, up to the waist in the fleecy snowbank, Keller availed himself of the prodigious strength and agility of the dog for an escape otherwise impracticable. In the singularly varied windings of their obscure path, the wind, in a favourable direction, would sometimes have forced the tall, broad figure of the mountaineer too hastily along, but for his pole, and the restraint imposed on the tail of his leathern coat by the teeth of Barré; while often blowing fiercely in opposition, nothing but the friendly drag of his four-footed guide could have enabled Keller to advance. By slow and most laborious progress, they at length reached the end of the narrow pass, and issued out upon the broad platform of the glacier, which, extending for a considerable distance, terminated at the base of the steep acclivity, on which hung the cottage of Keller.
At this place the fathers of St. Bernard had
erected a chalet, or hut, in which they left, in perilous seasons, blankets and refreshments. Keller saw, by the light which hung from the ceiling, that it was furnished for the storm; but though hungry and fatigued, he passed it rapidly, and reached the angle of the morgue of the chalet, beyond which he expected to have an unobstructed view of Mont-Mort. There was a light also in the morgue, and the quick eye of Keller observed, through the grated windows, that the glass case or cover of the black marble slab in its centre was not unoccupied. The bare possibility of having a near interest in these remains, carried him to the table. It contained the wife and child of the courier of St. Pierre, who had perished, as he had heard, by leaving home to meet the husband and father on his return from a distant service. The bonds of human sympathy are never drawn so closely as when the links in the chain of misfortune are of the metal of our own destiny. Time could not mark the briefness of the moment in which Keller's mind ran through the terrible parallel, and rushing out from the morgue, he sought the open plain.
At this point he paused, to look for that light which, in this wild country, never failed to illuminate his window, and which had often led the bewildered traveller or benighted hunter to his shed. For the first time it was absent, and the low piteous moan of the dog assured him that his keener eye failed to discover it. "Oh, Barré, they are gone!" said the stunned father and husband. "Buried in the leeward snow-drift, they are debarred escape from the avalanche. To their rescue, or to death!" and with impetuous haste and unearthly energy, the tired hunter rushed across the bare surface of the icy plain. Barré kept before him for some time, but at length suddenly paused, and turning round, attempted to obstruct his progress. Dashed impatiently aside, he instantly seized his skirt, and in the effort to detain him, threw him to the ground. The fall recalled Keller to his senses, and he soon perceived by his significant movements that his companion had discovered a new rift in the ice, which, filled by the storm with light drifted snow, would, in a few onward steps, have absorbed him and his hopes and fears forever. Turning aside to a narrow part of the chasm, Barré,
by a few extraordinary and struggling bounds, succeeded in reaching the solid bank beyond. With cautious and probing steps Steinmitz felt its verge, and extending his long pole deeply into its centre, sprang with the agility of the ibex to the other side. But it was a long leap, and the snow clinging to the pole, would have drawn him back from his faithless footing into its cold abyss. Barré expected this, and stood ready to seize him as he alighted, and with the temporary loss of his pole, Keller was again on his feet. To bring the end of the pole to his hand was but a short struggle for the dog, and again they resumed their journey.
On the afternoon of the day whose dreadful night we are now describing, George Steinmitz, the eldest son of the hunter, came down from the hill. He had nearly reached its summit by the bed of a stream, which seemed to have its 'source in the clouds.' "I wish," said he to his mother as he entered the cottage, "that our father were here." Old Seiper, our neighbour, is up there, looking at the snow-bank, and says that it will come down before to-morrow. I was just going to
shoot at a fierce looking lammergeier, when my gun was suddenly and roughly wrested from me by the strong old fellow. Although he appeared angry, he spoke to me almost in a whisper, and told me that one shot would have brought down the snow-bank. I was, as you may suppose, scarcely pleased at his roughness, and was beginning to talk loudly about it, when he very coolly clapt his hand on my mouth, and told me not to shake the air so much. "Don't you see," said he, "that that old vulture wants you to shoot. He keeps just out of reach of your gun. I cant help thinking he knows the effect of so for just before you came up, he was screaming in a way which, old as I am, I never heard before. That fellow is old enough to have remembered the former avalanche, and may live to scream for many more, rather than that you should shoot at him now." "Mother," ," continued George, "it is awful to see the snow at the top beginning to sag down on the snow beneath, and force itself up into huge wreaths. Rough as is the hill below, it cannot Old Seiper begs you
long resist the pressure."