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of shrubs, grass, and even stunted trees, to believe that this rock marked the farthest extent of the slip or slide of earth, and that, could he but round the angle of which it was the termination, he might hope to attain the continuation of the path which had been so strangely interrupted by this convulsion of nature. But the craig jutted out so much as to afford no possibility of passing either under or around it; and as it rose several feet above the position which Arthur had attained, it was no easy matter to climb over it. This was, however, the course which he chose, as the only mode of surmounting what he hoped might prove the last obstacle to bis voyage of discovery. A projecting tree afforded him the means of raising and swinging himself up to the top of the craig. But he had scarcely planted himself on it, had scarcely a moment to congratulate himself, on seeing, amid a wild chaos of cliffs and wood, the gloomy ruins of Geierstein, with smoke arising, and indicating something like a human habitation beside them, when, to his extreme terror, he felt the huge cliff on which he stood, tremble, stoop slowly forward, and gradually sink from his position. Projecting as it was, and shaken as its equilibrium had been by the recent earthquake, it lay now so insecurely poised, that its balance was entirely destroyed, even by the addition of the young man's weight.
“ Aroused by the imminence of the danger, Arthur, by an instinctive attempt at self-preservation, drew cautiously back from the falling craig, into the tree by which he had ascended, and turned his head back as if spell-bound, to watch the descent of the fatal rock from which he had just retreated. It tottered for two or three seconds, as if uncertain which way to fall; and had it taken a sidelong direction, must have dashed the adventurer from his place of refuge, or borne both the tree . and him headlong down into the river. After a moment of horrible uncertainty, the power of gravitation determined a direct and forward descent. Down went the huge fragment, which must have weighed at least twenty tons, rending and splitting in its precipitate course the trees and bushes which it encountered, and settling at length in the channel of the torrent, with a din equal to the discharge of a hundred pieces of artillery. The sound was re-echoed from bank to bank, from precipice to precipice, with emulative thunders; nor was the tumult silent till it rose into the region of eternal snows, which, equally insensible to terrestrial sounds, and unfavourable to animal life, heard the roar in their majestic solitude, but suffered it to die away without a responsive voice.
“What, in the meanwhile, were the thoughts of the distracted father, who saw the pondrous rock descend, but could not mark whether his only son had borne it company in its dreadful fall !”– Vol. i. pp. 28–31.
“ If the distress of the father rendered his condition an object of deep compassion, that of the son, at the same moment, was sufficiently perilous. We have already stated, that Arthur Philipson had commenced his precarious journey along the precipice, with all the coolness, resolution, and unshaken determination of mind, which was most essential to a task where all must depends upon firmness of nerve. But the formidable accident which checked his onward progress, was of a character so dreadful, as made him feel all the bitterness of a death, instant,
horrible, and, as it seemed, inevitable. The solid rock had trembled and rent beneath his footsteps, and although, by an effort rather mechanical than voluntary, he had withdrawn himself from the instant ruin attending its descent, he felt as if the better part of him, his firmness of mind and strength of body, had been rent away with the descending rock, as it fell thundering with clouds of dust and smoke, into the torrents and whirlpools of the vexed gulf beneath. In fact, the seaman swept from the deck of a wrecked vessel, drenched in the waves, and battered against the rocks on the shore, does not differ more from the same mariner, when, at the commencement of the gale, he stood upon the deck of bis favourite ship, proud of her strength and his own dexterity, than Arthur, when commencing his journey, from the same Arthur, while clinging to the decayed trunk of an old tree, from which, suspended between heaven and earth, he saw the fall of the crag which he had so nearly accompanied. The effects of his terror, indeed, were physical as well as moral; for a thousand colours played before his eyes; he was attacked by a sick dizziness, and deprived at once of the obedience of those limbs which had hitherto served him so admirably; bis arms and hands, as if no longer at his own command, now clung to the branches of the tree, with a cramp-l kt te sacity over which he seemed to possess po power, and now trembling in a state of such complete nervous relaxatioii, as led him to fear that they were becoming unable to support him longer in his position.
“ An incident, in itself trifling, added to the distress occasioned by this alienation of his powers. All living things in the neighbourhood, had, as might be supposed, been startled by the tremendous fall to which his progress
had given occasion. Flights of owls, bats, and other birds of darkness, compelled to betake themselves to the air, had lost no time in returning into their bowers of ivy, or the harbour afforded them by the rifts and holes of the neighbouring rocks. One of this ill-omened flight chanced to to be a lammergeier, or Alpine vulture, a bird larger and more voracious than the eagle himself and which Arthur had not been accustomed to see, or at least to look upon closely. With the instinct of most birds of prey, it is the custom of this creature, when gorged with food, to assume some station of inaccessible security, and there remain stationary and motionless for days together, till the work of digestion has been accomplished, and activity returns with the pressure of appetite. Disturbed from such a state of repose, one of these terrific birds had risen from the ravine to which the species gives its name, and having circled unwillingly round with a ghustly scream and a flagging wing, it had sunk down upon the pinnacle of a craig, not four yards from the tree in which Arthur held his precarious station. Although still in some degree stupitied by torpor, it seemed encouraged by the motionless state of the young man to suppose him dead, or dying, and sat there and gazed at him, without displaying any of that apprehension which the fiercest animals usually entertain from the vicinity of man.
"As Arthur, endeavouring to shake off the incapacitating effects of his panic fear, raised his eyes to look gradually and cautiously around, he encountered those of the voracious and obscene bird, whese head and
neck denuded of feathers, her eyes surrounded by an iris of an orange tawny colour, and a position more horizontal than erect, distinguished her as much from the noble carriage and graceful proportion of the eagle, as those of the lion place him in the ranks of creation above the gaunt, ravenous, grisly, yet dastard wolf.
“ As if arrested by a charm, the eyes of young Philipson remained bent on this ill-omened and ill-favoured bird, without his having the power to remove them. The apprehension of dangers, ideal as well as real, weighed upon his weakened mind, disabled as it was by the circumstances of his situation. The near approach of a creature not more loathsome to the human race than averse to come within their reach, seemed as ominous as it was unusual. Why did it gaze on him with such glaring earnestness, projecting its disgusting form, as if presently to alight upon his person? The foul bird, was she the demon of the place to which her name referred ? and did she come to exult, that an intruder on her haunts seemed involved amid their perils, with little hope or chance of deliverance? Or was it a native vulture of the rocks, whose sagacity foresaw that the rash traveller was soon destined to becoine its victim ? Could the creature, whose senses are said to be so acute, argue from circumstances the stranger's approaching death, and wait, like a raven or hooded crow by a dying sheep, for the earliest opportunity to commence her ravenous banquet ? Was he doomed to feel its beak and talons before his heart's blood should cease to beat ? Had he already lost the dignity of humanity, the awe which the being formed in the image of his Maker, inspires into all inferior creatures ?
Apprehensions so painful served more than all that reason could suggest, to renew, in some degree, the elasticity of the young man's mind. By waving his handkerchief, using, however, the greatest precaution in his movements, he succeeded in scaring the vulture from his vicinity. It rose from its resting place, screaming harshly and dolefully, and sailed on its expanded pinions to seek a place of more undisturbed repose, while the adventurous traveller felt a sensible pleasure at being relieved of its disgusting presence.
“ With more collected ideas, the young man, who could obtain, from his position, a partial view of the platform he had left, endeavoured to testify his safety to his father, by displaying, as high as he could, the banner by which he had chased off the vulture. Like them, too, he heard, but at a less distance, the burst of the great Swiss horn, which seemed to announce some near succour. He replied by shouting and waving his flag, to direct assistance to the spot where it was so much required; and, recalling his faculties, which had almost deserted him, he laboured mentally to recover hope, and with hope the means and motive for exertion.
“ A faithful Catholic, he eagerly recommended himself in prayer to Our Lady of Einseidlen, and making vows of propitiation, besought her intercession, that he might be delivered from his dreadful condition. * Or, gracious Lady!'he concluded his orison, “ if it is my doom to lose my life like a hunted fox amidst this savage wilderness of tottering VOL. IV.-NO. 8.
crags, restore at least my natural sense of patience and courage, and let not one who has lived like a man, though a sinful one, meet death like a timid hare !!
“Having devoutly recommended himself to that Protectress, of whom the legends of the Catholic Church form a picture so amiable, Arthur, though every nerve still shook with his late agitation, and his heart throbbed with a violence that threatened to suffocate him, turned his thoughts and observation to the means of effecting his escape.But, as he looked around him, he became more and more sensible how much he was enervated by the bodily injuries and mental agony which he had sustained during his late peril. He could not, by any effort of which he was capable, fix his giddy and bewildered eyes on the scene around him ;-they seemed to reel till the landscape danced along with them, and a motely chaos of thickets and tall cliffs, which interposed between him and the ruinous Castle of Geierstein, mixed and whirled round in such confusion, that nothing, save that such an idea was the suggestion of partial insanity, prevented him from throwing himself from the tree, as if to join the wild dance to which his disturbed brain had given motion.
“ Heaven be my protection!' said the unfortunate young man, closing his eyes, in hopes, by abstracting himself from the terrors of his situation, to compose his too active imagination, 'my senses are abandoning me!"
“He became still more convinced that this was the case, when a female voice, in a high pitched but eminently musical accent, was heard at no great distance, as if calling to him. He opened his eyes once more, raised his head, and looked towards the place from whence the sounds seemed to come, though far from being certain that they existed saving in his own disordered imagination. The vision which appeared had almost confirmed him in the opinion that his mind was unsettled, and his senses in no state to serve him accurately.
"Upon the very summit of a pyramidical rock that rose out of the depth of the valley, was seen a female figure, so obscured by mist, that only the outline could be traced. The form, reflected against the sky, appeared rather the undefined lineament of a spirit than of a mortal maiden ; for her person seemed as light, and scarcely more opaque, than the thin cloud that surrounded her pedestal. Arthur's first belief was, that the Virgin had heard his vows, and had descended in person to his rescue ; and he was about to recite his Ave Maria, when the voice again called to him with the singular shrill modulation of the mountain haloo, by which the natives of the Alps can hold conference with each other from one mountain ridge to another, across ravines of great depth and width.
“ While he debated how to address this unexpected apparition, it disappeared from the point which it at first occupied, and presently after became again visible, perched on the cliff out of which projected the tree in which Arthur had taken refuge. Her personal appearance, as well as her dress, made it then apparent that she was a maiden of these mountains, familiar with their dangerous paths. He saw that a
beautiful young woman stood before him, who regarded him with a mixture of pity and wonder.
“Stranger,' she at length said, ' who are you, and whence come you?'
“I am a stranger, maiden, as you justly term me,' answered the young man, raising himself as well as he could. I left Lucerne this morning, with my father, and a guide. I parted with them not three furlongs from bence. May it please you, gentle maiden, to warn them of my safety, for I know my father will be in despair upon my account?'
Willingly,' said the maiden, "but I think my uncle, or some one of my kinsmen, must have already found them, and will prove
faithful guides. Can I not aid you ?-are you wounded ?-are you hurt ?—
1 We were alarmed by the fall of a rock-ay, and yonder it lies, a mass of no ordinary size.'
“As the Swiss maiden spoke thus, she approached so close to the verge of the precipice, and looked with such indifference into the gulf, that the sympathy which connects the actor and spectator upon such occasions, brought back the sickness and vertigo from which Arthur had just recovered, and he sunk back into his former more recumbent posture, with something like a faint groan.
• You are then ill?' said the maiden, who observed him turn pale • Where and what is the harm you have received ?'
“None, gentle maiden, saving some bruises of little import; but my head turns, and my heart grows sick, when I see you so near the verge of the cliff.'
« Is that all ?' replied the Swiss maiden. 'Know, stra that I do not stand on my uncle's hearth with more security than I have stood upon precipices, compared to which this is a child's leap. You, too, stranger, if, as I judge from the traces, you have come along the edge of the precipice which the earth-slide hath laid bare, ought to be far beyond such weakness, since surely you must be well entitled to call yourself a cragsman.'
" " I might have called myself so half an hour since,' answered Arthur; but I think I shall hardly venture to assume the name in future.'
** Be not downcast,' said his kind adviser, 'for a passing qualm, which will at times cloud the spirit and dazzle the eyesight of the bravest and most experienced. Raise yourself upon the trunk of the tree, and advance closer to the rock out of which it
Observe the place well. It is easy for you, when you have attained the lower part of the projecting stem, to gain by one bold step the solid rock upon which I stand, after which there is no danger or difficulty worthy of mention to a young man, whose limbs are whole, and whose courage is active.'
“My limbs are indeed sound,' replied the youth, but I am ashamed to think how much my courage is broken. Yet I will not disgrace the interest you have taken in an unhappy wanderer, by listening longer to the dastardly suggestions of a feeling, which till to-day has been a stranger to my bosom.'
“ The maiden looked on him anxiously, and with much interest, as, raising himself cautiously, and moving along the trunk of the tree,