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adventures of danger among the mountains: the pride, both of their calling and of their country, occasioned them to excel in the exercises which such a region must demand, and to exult in that excellence when acquired. If the very truth must be spoken, perhaps they added another point of similarity to the love of country-a quality in common with the Gascons, for which the latter are so nationally famous, as to have conferred upon it their national name. At least, there was an old man, who had said very little, but had listened attentively, as he smoked his pipe in the chimney-corner, who seemed to be of this opinion. For as the members of the party were vying with each other in their narrations of “ accidents by flood and field,” the old man emitted, in the midst of an increased cloud of smoke, an ejaculatory “ Humph !” of a most sceptical, nay, infidel intonation. He was a very fine old man: and, as the blaze of the pinelogs shone upon his brow, he might have formed a painter's study for a veteran mountaineer. His skin was hard and dry, but it was not much wrinkled; and his brilliant grey eye was to his face what the sun is to the heavens,-it shed, without a figure, brightness over his whole countenance. His hair was grey and thin upon the forehead, but flowing in long floating waves from the rest of the scalp. His frame was wiry, strong, and active, although somewhat decayed through age: but, as well as his aspect, it gave sufficient indication that, in youth, his had been a body of steel and whalebone, and a soul of fire. · A dog lay at his feet; old, like his master, but, like him, to appearance, still strong and agile. He was of a breed resembling what, in England, we call a lurchergrey, shaggy, intelligent, and attached as a shepherd's dog, and almost as fleet as a greyhound. He was sleeping in the warmth of the fire, nestled between his master's legs.
After listening, for some time, to the accounts which the young men were giving of their prowess, the old
hunter, having finished his pipe and knocked the ashes out, took up the tale in his turn:
“ My young friends,” said he, “ you have been telling us some very marvellous adventures : but as I am an old hunter, and, therefore, am fond of the spirit which leads you into them, I will not strive to sift the grain from the chaff, the exact facts from the colours in which you have dressed them. But I will give you, in my turn, an account of an accident which, you all know by report, did actually happen to me, as the limp in my gait can testify to this day.
“ It is now about twenty years ago, that I was one day out hunting, as usual. I had got sight of a chamois, and was advancing upon him, when, having almost got within shot, I sprang across a chasm a few yards wide, upon a ledge of snow opposite. The outer part of this was, alas! only of snow ;-it was frozen hard; but as I came upon it with considerable force, I felt it giving way beneath me. The man who says that he never felt fear, never was in a situation such as this. The agony of terror,and what agony is greater ?-rushed throughout my frame. My first impulse was to spring forward, to reach the firm ground. But the very effort I made to save myself, accelerated my fate—the mass broke short offand I fell!
“ I have since been to view that spot, and, standing in safety on its brink, my nerves have shivered as I have looked down the awful precipice. How I escaped being dashed into as many atoms as there are peebles at its base, it is impossible to divine. The height is upwards of seventy feet ;—there was no projecting rock, no jutting tree to break my fall. Perhaps the snow which fell along with me in vast quantites, and which crumbled as it fell, served to protect me. When I perceived my footing yield, the earth, as it were, to sink from under me, I felt the common hyperbole, that my heart sprang to my throat, almost cease to be one. One gasp of mortal agony, as it burst from my lungs, gave me the sensation of choking, which the phrase I have mentioned strives to express. The feelings of my mind may be all summed in the exclamation which, I believe, escaped me— Oh, God !—I'm gone!'- My next thought was one momentary appeal to that God's mercy,and then I thought no more.
“ When I recovered my senses, day was beginning to close. I lay enveloped in snow. My hunting-spear was beside me, broken; and, stretched upon my bosom, lay my faithful dog-spread out, as it were to protect me from the cold, and breathing upon my face, as if to communicate his life to bring back mine. Poor fellow," the old man continued, and the tear glistened in his eye as he spoke, -“poor fellow, he is dead long since, and his son," stooping and fondling the dog at his feet, “is old now; but, if I had but one crust of bread, and one cup of water in the world, old Thor should share them with me, for his father's sake.”
The dog looked up, as though he understood his master's meaning; for he smiled in his face, with that expression of thankful fondness which the countenance of his race alone shares with that of the human species.
“ I felt,” continued the hunter, “I felt numbed and stiffened, and in considerable pain, all over; so much so, that I could not distinguish any one particular hurt as being more severe than the rest. I endeavoured to rise, and that soon showed to me where my chief injury layI fell back again, instantly—my thigh was broken. In addition to this, two fingers of my right hand, and one of my left, were broken also, and I was bruised in almost every part. But I was alive! As I looked up to the pinnacle from which I had fallen, I could scarcely believe that to be possible.
“ The spot where I lay was in a narrow cleft, between two cliffs, which diverged from each other as they advanced, leaving a sort of triangular platform open between them and a third. A torrent threw itself, like a wild
horse's mane, from the rock above me, but, in the numberless eddies which whirled in the hollow, it was dispersed into air, before it reached the place, distant through its depth, where I lay.
“ Night now began to thicken fast—the faster on account of the deep den in which I was. The wind blew as though all the quarters of heaven sent forth their blasts at once, and that they all met and battled there. I had escaped one dreadful death, and I now began to fear another more dreadful still, because more slow and more felt. I feared that I should die through cold, and hunger, and untended hurts. The cold, too, I now felt more severely; for, shortly after I had given up, in despair, all attempts to extricate myself from my situation, my dog, after whining and yelping piteously for some time, went off. As he turned the corner of the rock, which hid him from my sight, I felt as if my last hold of life had gone from me-as though the friend of my bosom had left me to die. He, too, abandons me!' I exclaimed, and, I blush to confess it, I burst into tears. Being forsaken by that which I thought faithful, cut me to the heart. Who, indeed, can bear that?
“ The world now seemed to have closed upon my sight for ever ;-my wife, my children, my dear home, I should see them no more! I figured to myself all the delights and charities of that home, and I felt how bitter it is to be torn from life while life is yet strong—all its ties firmly knit—all its affections glowing. As darkness settled around me, I thought of my wife anxiously listening for my step-or rather for the well-known step of Thor preceding me, and the bright fire gleaming upon smiling children's faces—the fairest ornament and the dearest comfort of a fireside—and the rosy lips held up for a father's kiss—and the little hands clinging round the knees, to attract a father's notice and their mother's gladsome smile of welcome to me, and unchiding reproof to them ;—such was the picture I drew mentally -such was the group which I knew was awaiting me. I looked around me, and the contrast of the reality flashed upon me in all its horrors. The wind raged and howled through the darkness, and, in the lull, the spray of the torrent bedewed my face, and froze there. I was encompassed by awful precipices, here and there visible only by being covered with snow. Snow also was the bed on which I lay—the bed on which I was to die. And to die, O God! to die thus !-alone, through pain and famine-through cold and the exhaustion of suffering nature! The terrors of tempest and of night were the precursors of the terrors of death. From hence I never was to stir more; this was to be my end!
“I lay, in pain of body and anguish, for a space of time, which, from these causes, seemed endless. At length hope dawned upon me. Along the top of the cliff to which I had leaped, and from which I had fallen, passed, as I knew, a path which led from the village in which I lived, to another about two leagues off. This had not appeared to me as a chance of escape; for, by night it was very rarely traversed, and morning I never expected to see again. On a sudden, however, I saw a light gliding along this path, as though borne by some one; and I conjectured it to be, as in fact it was, the lanthorn of a villager returning homewards. 'I shall be saved yet!' was the idea which thrilled through my heart, and I shouted with the whole strength of my voice, to realize the hope which had arisen. At that moment, a furious gust of wind swept throughout the chasm, and hurled back my cry against me, like the smoke of Cain's rejected sacrifice. I could feel that my voice did not ascend twenty feet above my head. The light glided onwards. Again I shouted with that desperate strength which none but the despairing own. The light did not stop-no answering shout gladdened my ears—the light disappeared.
“ The agony of that moment, who can conceive? The drowning man, as he struggles his last effort, and feels the