Графични страници
PDF файл

tumult, lashed by the water, which sounded at times like the cracking of innumerable whips. Underneath this was the deep resonant roar of the cataract. I tried to shield my eyes with my hands and look upward, but the defense was useless. My guide continued to move on, but at a certain place he halted, desiring me to take shelter in his lee, and observe the cataract.

11. The spray did not come so much from the upper ledge as from the rebound of the shattered water when it struck the bottom. Hence the eyes could be protected from the blinding shock of the spray, while the line of vision to the upper ledges remained to some extent clear. On looking upward over the guide's shoulder I could see the water bending over the ledge, while the Terrapin Tower loomed fitfully through the intermittent spray-gusts. We were right under the tower. A little farther on, the cataract, after its first plunge, hit a protuberance some way down, and flew from it in a prodigious burst of spray; through this we staggered.

12. We rounded the promontory on which the Terrapin Tower stands, and moved, amid the wildest commotion, along the arm of the Horseshoe, until the bowlders failed us, and the cataract fell into the profound gorge of the Niagara River.

13. Here my guide sheltered me again, and desired me to look up; I did so, and could see as before the green gleam of the mighty curve sweeping over the upper ledge, and the fitful plunge of the water, as the spray between us and it alternately gathered and disappeared.

14. We returned, clambering at intervals up and down, so as to catch glimpses of the most impressive portions of the cataract. We passed under ledges formed by tabular masses of limestone, and through some curious openings

formed by the falling together of the summits of the rocks, At length we found ourselves beside our enemy of the morning. My guide halted for a minute or two, scanning the torrent thoughtfully. I said that, as a guide, he ought to have a rope in such a place; but he retorted that, as no traveler had ever thought of coming there, he did not see the necessity of keeping a rope.

15. He waded in. The struggle to keep himself erect was evident enough; he swayed, but recovered himsel again and again. At length he slipped, gave way, did as I had done, threw himself flat in the water toward the bank, and was swept into the shallow. Standing in the stream ear its edge, he stretched his arm toward me. I retained the pitchfork handle, for it had been useful among the bowlders. By wading some way in the staff could be made to reach him, and I proposed his seizing it.

16. "If you are sure," he replied, "that in case of giving way you can maintain your grasp, then I will certainly hold you."

I waded in and stretched the staff to my companion. It was firmly grasped by both of us. Thus helped, though its onset was strong, I moved safely All danger ended here.

across the torrent.

17. We afterward roamed sociably among the torrents and bowlders below the Cave of the Winds. The rocks were covered with organic slime, which could not have been walked over with bare feet, but the felt shoes effectually prevented slipping. We reached the cave and entered it, first by a wooden way carried over the bowlders, and then along a narrow ledge, to the point eaten deepest into the shale. When the wind is from the south, the falling water, I am told, can be seen tranquilly from this

spot; but when we were there, a blinding hurricane of spray was whirled against us.


"Horseshoe Fall" (1) has been so worn away by the action of the water that the horseshoe form has disappeared. "Terrapin Tower" (11) stood on a rock just above the American Fall. "Organic slime" (17) is a sticky mud containing the lowest form of animal life.


1. knoll; n. a little round hill.
1. wōe'-be gŎnè; a. crushed by

3. gămbol; n. a frolie.

3. těn'drils; n. thread-like shoots
of a plant that wind round
another body for support.
ǎd' dled; v. confused.
eon nữ bial; a. relating to

2. în erůst'ed ; v. covered with a crust.


2. roist′ ěrs; n. bold, blustering | 8.


Rip Van Winkle. Part I.

Rip Van Winkle is described as a good-natured, lazy fellow, a favorite of the village children, and more fond of drinking and of hunting than of hard work. According to the story, he one day went into the Kaatskill Mountains to shoot squirrels, and growing tired, lay down for a nap. He wakened from his sleep to see some odd-looking dwarfish men playing at ninepins and drinking from large cups or flagons. At their invitation Rip joined them in one drink after another until at last, growing drowsy, he fell into a deep sleep, from which he did not awake for twenty years. What followed his awakening is here described.

1. On waking he found himself on the green knoll from whence he had first seen the old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes-it was a bright sunny morning. The birds were hopping and twittering among the bushes, and the eagle was wheeling aloft, and breasting the pure mountain breeze. "Surely," thought Rip, "I have not slept here all night." He recalled the occurrences before he fell asleep. The strange man with the keg of liquor-the

mountain ravine-the wild retreat among the rocks-the woe-begone party at ninepins-the flagon-"Oh, that wicked flagon!" thought Rip-" what excuse shall I make to Dame Van Winkle?"

2. He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean well-oiled fowling-piece he found an old firelock lying by him, the barrel incrusted with rust, the lock falling off, and the stock worm-eaten. He now suspected that the grave roisters of the mountain had put a trick upon him, and, having dosed him with liquor, had robbed him of his gun. Wolf, too, had disappeared, but he might have strayed away after a squirrel or partridge. He whistled after him, and shouted his name, but all in vain; the echoes repeated his whistle and shout, but no dog was to be seen.

3. He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening's gambol, and if he met with any of the party to demand his dog and gun. As he rose to walk, he found himself stiff in the joints, and wanting in his usual activity. "These mountain beds do not agree with me," thought Rip, "and if this frolic should lay me up with a fit of the rheumatism, I shall have a blessed time with Dame Van Winkle." With some difficulty he got down into the glen; he found the gully up which he and his companion had ascended the preceding evening; but to his astonishment a mountain stream was now foaming down it, leaping from rock to rock, and filling the glen with babbling murmurs. He, however, made shift to scramble up its sides, working his toilsome way through thickets of birch, sassafras, and witch-hazel; and sometimes tripped up or entangled by the wild grape-vines that twisted their coils and tendrils from tree to tree, and spread a kind of network in his path.

4. At length he reached to where the ravine had

opened through the cliffs to the amphitheater; but no traces of such opening remained. The rocks presented a high impenetrable wall, over which the torrent came tumbling in a sheet of feathery foam, and fell into a broad, deep basin, black from the shadows of the surrounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was brought to a stand. He again called and whistled after his dog; he was only answered by the cawing of a flock of idle crows, sporting high in air about a dry tree that overhung a sunny precipice; and who, secure in their elevation, seemed to look down and scoff at the poor man's perplexities. What was to be done? The morning was passing away, and Rip felt famished for want of his breakfast. He grieved to give up his dog and gun; he dreaded to meet his wife; but it would not do to starve among the mountains. He shook his head, shouldered his rusty firelock, and with a heart full of trouble and anxiety turned his steps homeward.

5. As he approached the village he met a number of people, but none whom he knew, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round. Their dress, too, was of a different fashion from that to which he was accustomed. They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise, and whenever they cast eyes upon him, invariably stroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, when to his astonishment he found his beard had grown a foot long!

6. He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange children ran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his gray beard. The dogs, too, not one of which he recognized for an old acquaintance, barked at him as he passed. The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous. There were rows of houses which he

« ПредишнаНапред »