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rapid shots in blind panic, and caught the lips of the ravine then, clutching the scythe, I and swept the nest of dwellings struck right and left like a into a yawning pit. Beneath madman.
a mountain of rubble lay buried Suddenly I saw the fore- that life on which I had thought ground sink before my eyes. to build my
fame. The roof sloped down, and with My feeling — Heaven help a sickening hiss a mountain of me !=was not thankfulness for rock and earth seemed to pre- God's mercy and my escape, , cipitate itself on my assailants. but a bitter mad regret. I One, nipped in the middle by a rushed frantically to the edge, rock, caught my eye by his and when I saw only the blackhideous writhings. Two only ness of darkness I wept weak remained in what was now a tears. All the time the storm little suffocating chamber, with was tearing at my body, and I embers from the fire still smok- had to grip hard by hand and ing on the floor.
foot to keep my place. The woman caught me by Suddenly on the brink of the the hand and drew me with ravine I saw a third figure. her, while the two seemed mute We two were not the only with fear. “There's a road at fugitives. One of the Folk the back," she screamed. “I had escaped. ken it. I fand it out.” And The thought put new life she pulled me up a narrow hole into me, for I had lost the first in the rock.
fresh consciousness of terror.
There still remained a relic of How long we climbed I do the vanished life. Could I but not know.
We were both make the thing my prisoner, fighting for air, with the tight- there would be proof in my ness of throat and chest, and hands to overcome a sceptical the craziness of limb which world. mean suffocation. I cannot I ran to it, and to my surtell when we first came to the prise the thing as soon surface, but I remember the saw me rushed to meet me. woman, who seemed to have At first I thought it was with the strength of extreme terror, some instinct of self-preservapulling me from the edge of a tion, but when I saw its eyes crevasse and laying me I knew the purpose of fight. flat rock. It seemed to be the Clearly one or other should go depth of winter, with sheer- no more from the place. falling rain and a wind that We were some ten yards from shook the hills.
the brink when I grappled with Then I was once more my- it. Dimly I heard the woman self and could look about me. scream with fright, and saw From my feet yawned a sheer her scramble across the hillside. abyss, where once had been a Then we were tugging in hill-shoulder. Some great mass death-throe, the hideous smell of rock on the brow of the of the thing in my face, its red mountain had been loosened by eyes burning into mine, and its the storm, and in its fall had hoarse voice muttering.
strength seemed incredible ; but And then, while I was beginI, too, am no weakling. We ning to glory with the pride of tugged and strained, its nails conquest, my hope was dashed biting into my flesh, while I in pieces. The thing seemed to choked its throat unsparingly. break from my arms, and, as if Every second I dreaded lest we in despair, cast itself headlong should plunge together over into the impenetrable darkness. the ledge, for it was thither I stumbled blindly after it, my adversary tried to draw saved myself on the brink, and
I caught my heel in a fell back, sick and ill, into a nick of rock, and pulled madly merciful swoon. against it.
CHAPTER VIII.—NOTE IN CONCLUSION BY THE EDITOR,
At this point the narrative told some rambling story about of my unfortunate friend, Mr her escape, but her narrative Graves of St Chad's, breaks off said nothing of Mr Graves. So abruptly. He wrote it shortly they treated her with what before his death, and was pre- skill they possessed, and shelvented from completing it by tered for the night in and the shock of apoplexy which around the cottage.
Next carried him off. In accordance morning the storm had abated with the instructions in his will, a little, and the woman had I have prepared it for publica- recovered something of her wits. tion, and now in much fear and From her they learned that Mr hesitation give it to the world. Graves was lying in a ravine First, however, I must supple- on the side of the Muneraw in ment it by such facts as fall imminent danger of his life. A within my knowledge.
body set out to find him ; but The shepherd seems to have so immense was the landslip, gone to Allermuir and by the and so dangerous the whole help of the letter convinced the mountain, that it was nearly inhabitants. A body of men evening when they recovered was collected under the land- him from the ledge of rock. lord, and during the afternoon He was alive, but unconscious, set out for the hills. But unfor- and on bringing him back to tunately the great midsummer the cottage it was clear that he storm the most terrible of was, indeed, very ill. There he recent climatic disturbances — lay for three months, while the
had filled the
and best skill that could be got was streams, and they found them- procured for him. By dint of selves unable to proceed by any an uncommon toughness of condirect road. Ultimately late stitution he survived ; but it in the evening they arrived at was an old and feeble man who the cottage of Farawa, only to returned to Oxford in the early find there a raving woman, the winter. shepherd's sister, who seemed The shepherd and his sister crazy with brain - fever. She immediately left the countryside,
and were never more heard of, to an obscure subject. But in unless they are the pair of un- after - life he was led into fanfortunates who are at present tastic speculations; and when he in a Scottish pauper asylum, found himself unable to conincapable of remembering even vince his colleagues, he gradutheir names. The people who ally retired into himself, and last spoke with them declared lived practically a hermit's life that their minds seemed weak- till his death. His career, thus ened by a great shock, and that broken short, is a sad instance it was hopeless to try to get any of the fascination which the connected or rational statement. recondite and the quack can
The career of my poor friend exercise even on men of apfrom that hour was little short proved ability.” of a tragedy. He awoke from And now his own narrative his illness to find the world in- is published, and the world can credulous ; even the country- judge as it pleases about the folk of Allermuir set down the amazing romance. The view story to the shepherd's crazi- which will doubtless find genness and my friend's credulity. eral acceptance is that the In Oxford his argument was whole is a figment of the brain, received with polite scorn. An begotten of some harmless account of his experiences which moorland adventure and the he drew up for the ‘Times' was company
of such religious refused by the editor; and an maniacs as the shepherd and article on
“Primitive Peoples his sister. But some who knew of the North,” embodying what the former sobriety and calmhe believed to be the result of ness of my friend's mind may his discoveries, was unanim- be disposed timorously and with ously rejected by every re- deep hesitation to another versponsible journal in Europe. dict. They may accept the Whether he soured by narrative, and believe that somesuch treatment, or whether his where in those moorlands he brain had already been weak- met with a horrible primitive ened, he became a morose silent survival, passed through the man, and for the two years strangest adventure, and had before his death had few friends his finger on an epoch-making and no society. From the discovery. In this case they obituary notice in the Times' will be inclined to sympathise I take the following paragraph, with the loneliness and misunwhich shows in what light the derstanding of his latter days. world had come to look upon It is not for me to decide the
question. That which alone “At the outset of his career could bring proof is buried behe was regarded as a rising neath a thousand tons of rock scholar in one department of in the midst of an untrodden archæology, and his Taffert lec- desert. tures were a real contribution
ROMANCE OF THE FUR TRADE: THE MOUNTAIN MEN.
THE few survivors of the Red or their scalps were hung in men who once ranged the territo- triumph to an Indian tent-pole. ries of the Union from the Great They took their revenge in full, Lakes to the Gulf of Florida and though they were but scathave been relegated to the re- tered handfuls compared to the serves ; but the mountain men, hordes of the Indian braves, the who were their inveterate ene- balance stood on the credit-side mies, are a vanished race. Those of their account. On the whole, dare-devils, who feared neither they rather preferred “raising God nor man, nor grizzlies, hair"
to trapping beaver, nevertheless did good work in though the one meant profit their day and generation. They and the other was mere pleaswere the scouts who pushed ure. It was the pleasure that ahead into the enemy's country, came of the spirit of rough preceding the Western woods- chivalry and the rare convicmen and New England farmers, tion of a duty fulfilled. For the the hardy pioneers of advanc- one redeeming quality of these ing civilisation. Purveyors of reckless mountaineers, beyond the fur marts, it was their for- the indomitable pluck which was tunate lot to combine business their common characteristic, was with recreation. They hunted the strong bond of brotherhood. and trapped for a livelihood, If a man were known to have and fought for the sheer fun of deserted a comrade, he was it, as an Irishman at a wake, doomed to indelible disgrace. as much
as in self-defence. It was understood, of course, Devoted to a life of perilous that in a surprise and a sauve adventure, never daunted by qui peut, it was a case for the the terrible privations on which moment of each man for himthey reckoned, they could in- self. They rallied afterwards to dulge their somewhat eccentric take their revenge. For betastes to the full. After all, they sides the immemorial quarrel only carried to an extreme the between the white man and the passion which tempts delicately red, every trapper had sundry nurtured English sportsmen to personal blood-feuds his stalk the Ovis
poli of the Pamirs hands. Poor Bill or Rube had or to go tiger-shooting in the gone under in such and such cirpestilential jungles of the Terai. cumstances.
Wall! so many
of If these men had gone westward the red skunks were bound to be from the settlements, not one in rubbed out. The battered stock a hundred ever returned, and of the veteran's rifle was scored few of them ever slept in the with notches, each indicating a rudest of cemeteries. Probably death. nineteen in twenty came
to The Red Indians were not a violent ends: their bones were pious race and practised few of left to bleach in the mountains, the Christian virtues, but at
least they had a religion of a siderations suggested the match, sort. They believed in
the and the Indian squaw was a Great Spirit: they sought to serviceable drudge who cooked propitiate malignant powers the deer-meat and mended the and the destructive forces of the moccasins. Apropos to broidelements. The trapper, as a ered moccasins, some of the rule, was absolutely irreligious trappers were dandies in their and godless. The wildest storm way. They must have carried that ever broke only suggested razors, for they were cleanto him the necessity of kindling shaven; but the long hair that the camp-fire in some shelter fell in luxuriance over their where it was possible to keep it shoulders was carefully anointed in, and the propriety of arrang- with bear's-grease and buffaloing his buffalo robe so that the marrow. No wonder those flowwater would easily run off. It ing love - locks were tempting is safe to say that before the trophies for the Indians. Their New Englanders and the Ken- ordinary wear was buckskin, tucky or Ohio housewives plod- and leggings often fringed with ded out into the prairies behind scalps; but when off duty and sluggish ox-teams, no Bible had returning from a successful trip, ever been seen beyond the Miss- they got themselves up in the issippi; and a missionary would height of sporting finery. There have made easier impression on
of foxskin or beavera Jew or Chinee than on those pelt, with the tail dangling bechildren of the wilderness, ab- hind the ear; the embroidered sorbed in their devotion to ma- shirt of softly dressed deerskin ; terialism. But though careless the fantastically fringed legor unconscious of celestial influ- gings and the ornamented mocences, they were not unsuscept- casins. But unless they had a ible to the tender passion. They rare run of luck with the cards, were always marrying in moun- the gay gala suit was sure soon tain fashion and getting di- to change owners. For all, withvorced. Sometimes the squaws out exception, were inveterate would be swapped for dollars. gamblers, and their idea of a The confirmed celibates were happy holiday was to get quickly very few. Many of the moun- rid of their gains at poker or taineers had had as many wives euchre. The camps and posts, as any Mormon elder; but they where they mustered after the took the ladies in succession in hunts, were infested by traders, place of simultaneously. Some- who grew bloated as spiders, times these fleeting unions had while their customers remained a dash of romance in them, as lean. No mountain man ever when an inflammable mountain laid on flesh or went out of conboy was fired by the charms of dition by indulging in a prosome olive-complexioned beauty longed period of good living. at a fandango, when he had been Needless to say, they all drank raiding down in New Mexico. deep; yet they appreciated coffee More often, in the Wild West, even more than whisky, and as in Belgravia, practical con- coffee, powder, and villanous