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un autre chemin, mais c'est dange- the river, which we succeeded in fordreux-c'est un mauvais pas ! Avez ing without much inconvenience ; and vous bonne tête." As the correctness soon after left them at a spot from of any answer to the conclusion of whence they could be sent for at leithis address depended much upon sure. We then turned again to the divers particulars, and certain other eastward, and soon reached the foot data, which it behoved me to know, I of the heights on the left bank of the begged him to describe a little more river, forming the barrier which had at large the precise nature of this Mau. checked us on the other side. Up vais Pas, the ominous term recalling there we proceeded to mount, press. in an instant the words I had heard ing onwards through brake and brier, from the traveller the night before. boughs and bushes, to the summit of
The result of my enquiry was very the ridge. During this part of the vague. That it was high amongst task, I endeavoured to pick up furthe mountains, and somewhat dis- ther particulars respecting the wind. tant, there could be no doubt. That, ing up of our adventure; but all I in order to get to it, we must return, could learn was, that, in consequence and cross the river below, where, be- of the suspension of all communicaing wider, it might still be forded, tion in the valleys below, by the dewere also preliminary steps. The struction of the roads and bridges, a heights on the right were, in the next chamois-hunter had, since the catasplace, to be gained, and that by no trophe, passed over this path, and very inviting path, as I could see ; but that some work-people, on their way these were not objections calculated to repair the bridges, finding it praca to deter me from proceeding, and ticable, had done the same, but that wherein the real difficulty consisted it had never before been used as a I could not distinctly discover. “Is, regular communication, and certainly then, this Mauvais pas much more never would again, as none, but from steep and difficult than the ascent sheer necessity, would ever think of which you have pointed out amongst taking advantage of it. But, by way those rocks on the right?"_"Oh, no," of neutralising any unfavourable con was the reply; “ it is not steep at all; clusions I might draw from these reit is on a dead level.”—“ Is it, then presentations, they both added, that, very fatiguing ?"-" Oh, no; it is by from what they then saw of my no means fatiguing; the ascent which capabilities in the art of climbingyou see before you, is by far the most for the road, here and there, required fatiguing part of the whole route.”- some trifling exertion-they were sure “ Is it, then, dangerous, owing to I should do very well, and had no broken fragments of rock, or slippery reason to fear. Thus encouraged, I grass?” for I had heard them mutter proceeded with confidence; and, in something about slipping. “Oh, no; the course of rather more than an it was on hard solid rock ; and, as for hour's sharp ascent, we attained a grass, there was not a blade upon it more level surface in the bosom of a It required but une bonne tête, car si thick forest of pine and underwood, on glisse, on est perdu!" This wind. fronted, as far as I could guess from ing up was certainly neither encou occasional glimpses through gaps and raging nor satisfactory; but having intervals, by a grey dull curtain of so repeatedly heard the danger of bare rock. “ We are approaching the these mountain passes magnified, and Mauvuis Pas," said one of the guides. their difficulties exaggerated, and the -" Is it as rough as this?" said I, vague information above mentioned, floundering as I was through hollows saving and except the definitive rea of loose stones and bushes." Oh, sult, being by no means in itself ap- no; it is smooth as a floor," was the palling, I expressed my readiness to reply.--" In a few minutes we shall try this path, if they had made up be on the Pas," said the other, as we their minds to guide me. To this began to descend on the eastern dethey consented ; and preparations were clivity of the ridge we had been mounte instantly made; “ for,” added they, ing for the last hour. And then, for “ the day is waning, and you will find the first time, I saw below me the val. there is much to be done.”
leys of the Drance spread forth like We remounted the horses, and has a map, and that it required but half-atened back about a mile to a wide partof dozen steps at most to have cleared
every impediment to my descending (if that could be called a foreground, amongst ihem, in an infinitely shorter separated, as it was, by a gulf of some time than I had expended in mounte fathoms wide,) an unsightly facing of ing to the elevated spot from whence unbroken precipitous rock bearded me I looked down upon them. And then, on the spot from whence I was to take too, for the first time, certain misgi- my departure, jutting out sufficiently vings, as to the propriety of going to conceal whatever might be the state further, and a shrewd guess as to the of affairs on the other side, round real nature of the Mauvais Pas, flash, which it was necessary to pass by a ed across me, in one of those sudden narrow ledge like a mantel-piece, on heart-searching thrills, so perfectly which the first guide had now placed defined in the single word crebling his foot. The distance, however, was a provincial term, expressing that inconsiderable, at most, a few yards, creeping, paralyzing, twittering, pal. after which, I fondly conjectured we pitating sort of sensation, which a nere might rejoin a pathway similar to that * vous person might be supposed to feel, we were now quitting, and that, in if, in exploring a damp and dark dun fact, this short but fearful trajet congeon, he placed his hand unadvisedly stituted the substance and sum-total upon some cold and clammy substance, of what so richly deserved the title of which his imagination might paint as the Mauvais Pas. “ Be firm; hold something too horrible to look at fast, and keep your eye on the rock,"
But whatever were the force and said the guide, as I, with my heart in power of these feelings, it was not now my mouth, stept out “Is my foot the time to let them get the master steadily fixed ?"-" It is," was the ship. It was too late to retract-I answer; and, with my eyes fixed uphad gone too far to recede. It would on the rock, as if it would have openhave been unpardonable to have given ed under my gaze, and my hands two Swiss guides an opportunity of hooked like claws on the slight propublishing throughout the canions, tuberances within reach, I stole silentthat an Englislıman had Alinched, and ly and slowly towards the projection, feared to set his foot where a foreign almost without drawing a breath. Hatraveller had trod the day before. On ving turned this point, and still found then I went, very uncomfortable, I myself proceeding, but to what dewill candidly confess, but aided and gree, and whether for better or worse, impelled, notwithstanding, by that in- I could not exactly ascertain, as I most stinctive sort of wish, common, I be- pertinaciously continued to look upon lieve, to all people, to know the worst the rock, mechanically moving foot in extreme cases. Curiosity, too, had after foot with a sort of dogged perseits share-not merely excited by the verance, leaving to the leading guide ultimate object for which I was about the pleasing task, which I most anto venture myself in mid air, but a xiously expected every moment, of as. secret desire to see with my own eyes suring me that the deed was done, and a pass which had so suddenly and un. congratulating me on having passed expectedly assumed importance in my the Mauvais Pas. But he was silent fate. And after all, though there were as the grave—not a word escaped his very unequivocal symptoms of some lips; and on, and on, and on did we thing terrible in the immediate via tread, slowly, cautiously, and hesitacinage of the undefined grey skreen of tingly, for about ten minutes, when I rock before me, I had as yet no cer- became impatient to learn the extent tainty of its appalling realities.
of our progress, and enquired whether For a furlong or two no great change we had nearly reached the other end. was perceptible; there was a plentiful “ Pas encore."-"Are we half way?" supply of twigs and shrubs to hold "A peu près," were the replies. by, and the path was not by any means Gathering up my whole stock of prealarming. In short, I began to shake sence of mind, I requested that we off all uneasiness, and smile at my might pause a while, and then, as I imaginary fears, when, on turning an deliberately turned my head, the whole angle, I came to an abrupt termina of this extraordinary and frightful tion of every thing bordering on twig, scenery revealed itself at a glance. bough, pathway, or greensward ; and Conceive an amphitheatre of rock the Mauvais Pas, in all its fearfulness, forming, throughout, a bare, barren, glared upon me! For a foreground, perpendicular precipice, of I knew
not how many hundred feet in height, and again repeated itself, and the of the two extremities diminishing in tener, perbaps, from a feeling of prealtitude as they approached the Drance, sumption I experienced in even whiswhich formed the chord of this arc; pering to myself that I decidedly that on our left constituting the bar should. “ Si on glisse, on est perdu !" rier which had impeded our progress, how horribly forcible and true did and which we had just ascended. these words now appear,-on what a From the point where we had stepped slender thread was life held! A tri. upon the ledge, quitting the forest and Aling deviation in the position of a foot, underwood, this circular face of pre- and it was over. I had but to make cipice commenced, continuing, with one single step in advance, and I was out intermission, till it united itself in another state of existence. Such with its corresponding headland on the were a few of the mental feelings right. The only communication be which suggested themselves, butothers tween the two being along a ledge in of a physical nature occurred. I had the face of the precipice, varying in eat nothing since leaving the old con. width from about a foot to a few vent, and the keen air on the mouninches; the surface of the said ledge, tains had so sharpened my appetite, moreover, assuming the form of an that by the time I had reached the inclined plane, owing to an accumu- summit we had just quitted, I felt not lation of small particles of rock, which only a good deal exhausted, but exhad, from time immemòrial, shaled tremely hungry. But hunger, thirst, from the heights above, and lodged and fatigue, followed me not on the on this slightly projecting shelf. ledge. A feast would have had no The distance, from the time taken to charm, and miles upon a level road pass it, I guessed to be not far short of would have been as nothing. Every a quarter of a mile. At my foot, li- sense seemed absorbed in getting to terally speaking, (for it required but the end ; and yet, in the midst of this a semiquaver of the body, or the loo- unenviable position, a trifling inci. sening of my hold, to throw the cen- dent occurred, which actually, for the tre of gravitation over the abyss,) were time, gave rise to something of a pleaspread the valleys of the Drance, surable sensation. About midway I through which I could perceive the espied, in a chink of the ledge, the river meandering like a silver thread; beautiful and dazzling blossom of the but, from the height at which I look little gentiana nivalis, and, stopping ed down, its rapidity was invisible, the guides while I gathered it, I exand its hoarse brawling unheard. The pressed great satisfaction in meeting silence was absolute and solemn; for, with this lovely little flower on such a fortunately, not a zephyr fanned the lonely spot. And I could scarcely help air, to interfere with my precarious smiling at the simplicity of these hoequilibrium.
nest people, who, from that moment, There was no inducement for theless- whenever the difficulties increased, er birds of the field to warble where we endeavoured to divert my attention, were, and the lammer-geyers and the by pointing out or looking for another eagles, if any had their eyries amidst specimen. We had proceeded good these crags, were revelling in the ban- part of the way, when, to my dismay, quet of desolation below. As I look, the ledge, narrow as it was, became pered upon this awfully magnificent scene, ceptibly narrower, and, at the distance a rapid train of thoughts succeeded of a yard or two in advance, I observed each other. I felt as if I was contem- a point where it seemed to run to noplating a world I had left, and which thing, interrupted by a protuberant I was never again to revisit ; for it was rock. I said nothing, waiting the result impossible not to be keenly impressed in silence. The guide before me, when with the idea, that something fatal he reached the point, threw one foot might occur within the space of the round the projection, till it was firmly next few minutes, effectually prevent placed, and holding on the rock, then ing my return thither as a living be brought up the other.- What was I ing. Then, again, I saw before me to do? Like Arthur Philipson's guide, the forms and figures of many I had Antonio, I could only say, “ I was no left-some a few hours, some a few goat-hunter, and had no wings to weeks before. Was I to see them transport me from cliff to cliff like a . again or not? The question again raven."-"I cannot perform that feat,"
said I to the guide; “ I shall miss the Thus persevering with the speed of invisible footing on the other side, and a tortoise or a sloth, the solemn slow —then!”—They were prepared for the movements of hand and foot forcibly case; one of them happened to have a reminding me of that cautious animal, short staff; this was handed forward, we at last drew near to a more acute and formed a slight rail, while the point in the curve of this gaunt amother, stooping down, seized my foot, phitheatre, where it bent forward and placing it in his hand, answered, towards the river, and consequently “ Tread without apprehension, it will we were more immediately fronted support you firmly as the rock itself; by the precipice forming the continu. be steady-go on." I did so, and re- ation of that on which we stood. gained the ledge once more in safety. By keeping my head obliquely turnThe possible repetition of such an exc ed inwards, I had hitherto in great ploit was not by any means to my measure avoided more visual comtaste, and I ventured to question the munication than I wished with the foremost guide as to the chance of its bird's-eye prospect below; but there recurrence, and the difficulties yet was no possibility of excluding the in store. Without pretending to dis- smooth bare frontage of rock right aguise them, he proceeded to dilate head. There it reared itself from the upon the portion of our peregrina- clods beneath to the clouds above, tion still in reserve, when the other without outward or visible sign of fret interrupted him impatiently, and in or fissure, as far as I could judge, on French, instead of Patois, (forgetting, which even a chamois could rest its in his anxiety to enjoin silence, that tiny hoof; for the width of whatever I understood every word he uttered, ledge it might have was diminished, exclaimed, “Not a word more, I en- by the perspective view we had of it, treat you. Speak not to him of danger; to Euclid's true definition of a mathethis is not the place to excite alarm; matical line, namely, length without it is our business to cheer and ani. breadth. At this distance of time, I mate ;” and in the true spirit of his ad- have no very clear recollection of the vice, he immediately pointed to a bunch mode of our exit, and cannot speak of little gentians, exclaiming, “ Eh, positively as to whether we skirted any donc, qu'elles sont jolies ! Regardez part of this perilous wall of the Tices charmantes fleurs !” Long before tans, or crept up through the corner I had accomplished half the distance, of the curve by some fissure leading and had formed a correct opinion as to to the summit. I have, however, a what remained in hand, the propriety very clear and agreeable recollection of turning back had more than once of the moment when I came in consuggested itself; but on looking round, tact with a tough bough, which I welthe narrowness of the shelf already comed and grasped as I would have passed presented so revolting an ap welcomed and grasped the hand of pearance, that what with the risk to the dearest friend I had upon earth, be incurred in the very act of turning and by the help of which I, in a very about, and forming any thing like a few more seconds, scrambled upwards, pirouette in my present position, add- and set my foot once more, without ed to an almost insurmountable un. fear of slips or sliding, on a rough willingness to recede, for the reasons heathery surface, forming the bed of above mentioned, and the chance that, a ravine, which soon led us to an upas it could not well be worse, the res land plateau, on which I stood as in mainder might possibly be better, I the garden of paradise. decided on going on, estimating every In talking over our adventure, one additional inch as a valuable accession of the guides mentioned a curious cirof space, with a secret proviso, how cumstance that had occurred either to ever, in my own mind, that nothing himself or a brother guide, I forget on earth should induce me to return which, in the course of their practice. the same way, notwithstanding the He was escorting a traveller over a declaration of the guides that they rather dizzy height, when the unfor. knew of no other line, unless a bridge, tunate tourist's head failed, and he which was impassable yesterday, had fainted on the spot. Whereupon the been made passable to-day; and we mountaineer, a strong muscular man, knew the people were at work, for a with great presence of mind, took up man had gone before us with an axe his charge, threw him over his shoulover his shoulder.
der, and coolly walked away with him
till he came to a place of safety, where provided Monsieur had a bonne téte, 'he deposited his burden, and awaited there was no danger in following their the return of sense; “but," added he, example. Hesitation was out of the “ had such a misfortune occurred on question ; for whatever might be the the Mauvais Pas, you must have sub- possible extent of risk, in duration and mitted to your fate; the ledge was too degree it clearly could bear no companarrow for exertion,- we could have rison with the Mauvais Pas, the disdone nothing."
comfiting sensations of which were still We were now not much more than too fresh in my recollection to indulge a league from our original destination, a thought of encountering them a sea space of which, whether fair or foul, cond time in the same day. I thereI cannot speak with much precision, fore decided on the bridge without so entirely was every thought and more ado, coute qui coute ; and as we sense engrossed in the business which descended towards the river, I had had occupied so large a portion of the soon the pleasure of seeing it far belast hour. It is merely necessary to low me, and plenty of time to make inform the reader, that at the expira- up my mind as to the best mode of tion of a given time, I stood before the ferrying myself over. Of the original ruins of a stupendous mound formed arch not a vestige remained; but across of condensed masses of snow and ice, two buttresses of natural rock I could hurled down from above by the im. distinguish something like a tight rope, perceptible but gradual advancement at the two extremities of which little of the great Glacier of Getroz, nursed moving things, no bigger than mites, in a gorge beneath the summit of were bustling about, and now and Mont Pleureur. Not a moment pass- then I could perceive one or two of ed without the fall of thundering avas these diminutive monocules venturing lanches, bounding from rock to rock, upon this apparently frail line of comtill their shattered fragments, floun- munication. A nearer view afforded dering down the inclined plane of no additional encouragement. At a snow, finally precipitated themselves depth of 90 feet below roared the into the bed of the channel through Drance, foaming and dashing with inwhich the emancipated Lac de Mau. conceivable violence against its two voisin had, in the brief space of half adamantine abutments, which here an hour, rushed, after it had succeed confined the channel within a space of ed in corroding the excavated galleries, about 30 or 40 feet. From rock to and blown up in an instant its icy rock, athwart the gulf, two pine poles barrier.
had that morning been thrown, not Seated on a knoll immediately frontyet rivetted together, but loosely resting the stage on which this granding side by side. It certainly was not scenery was represented, we rested for half some time, during which we were joined by one or two of the workmen
“ As full of peril, and advent’rous spirit, employed in repairing the roads and
As to o'erwalk a current, roaring loud,
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear ;" bridge to which the guides had allu. ded; and the first question asked was, but it was, notwithstanding, a very “ Peut on le traverser ?" No direct comfortless piece of footing to contemanswer followed ; it was evidently, plate. Ye mariners of England, who therefore, a matter of doubt, requiring think nothing of laying out on a topat least some discussion, during which, sail-yard to pass an earing * in a gale although the parties conversed in an of wind, might have smiled at such a under. tone, I again heard, more than sight, and crossed merrily over, withonce, the disagreeable repetition of out the vibration of a nerve; but let “ Mais, a-t-il bonne tête ?" and a re- it be recollected, as a balance for a ference was finally made to me. It landsman's fears, that these two spars seems the bridge had been completely were neither furnished with accommodestroyed, but some people had that dating jack-stays, supporting footmorning availed themselves of the ropes, nor encircling gaskets, to which commencement of a temporary accom- the outlayer might cling in case of modation, then in a state of prepara, emergence. There they rested, one tion, and had crossed the chasm; and end on each projecting promontory of
. The technical term for an operation necessary in reefing topsails.