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existence lingers but a moment for the winter of death, which shall close it for ever. The light winds that blew over the water, curled its surface in waves that, breaking as they fell, dashed their sparkling foam in showers around. The sun was sinking behind the mountains in the west, and shone from amidst the surrounding clouds: his last rays glittered on the waters, and tinged with a mellow and sombre lustre the embrowned foliage of the trees. The whole scene spoke of peace and tranquillity; and I envy not the bosom of that man who could gaze upon it with one unholy thought, or let one evil feeling intrude upon his meditations. As proceeded, the beauty of the surrounding objects increased: immense oaks twisted about their gigantic branches, covered with moss; lofty evergreens expanded their dark and gloomy tops, and smaller trees and thick shrubs filled up the spaces between the larger trunks, so as to form an almost impervious moss of wood and foliage. As the evening advanced, imagination took a wider range, and added to the natural embellishments. The obscure outline of the surrounding forest assumed grotesque forms, and fancy was busy in inventing improbabilities, and clothing each ill-defined object in her own fairy guises. The blasted and leafless trunk of a lightening-scathed pine would assume the form of some hundred-headed giant, about to hurl destruction on the weaker fashionings of nature. As the motion of the boat varied the point of view, the objects would give way to another-and another-and another, in all the endless variety of lights and distances: distant castles, chivalric knights, captive damsels and attendants, dwarfs and squires, with their concomitant monsters, griffins, dragons, and all the creations of romance, were conjured up by the fairy wand of fantasy. On a sudden, the moon burst forth in all her silvery lustre, and the sight of the reality effectually banished all less substantial visions; thin transparent clouds, so light and fragile that they seemed scarce to afford a resting place for the moonbeams that trembled on them, glided along the sky; the dense masses that skirted the horizon were fringed with the same radiance, while, rising above them, the evening star twinkled amid its solitary rays. I could not be said to feel pleasure-it was rapture that throbbed in my heart at the view: my cares, my plans, my very existence, were forgotten in the flood of intense emotions that overwhelmed me, at thus beholding, in the pride of loveliness, the works of the Creating Spirit.
In the mean time, the boat sailed rapidly onwards, with a velocity so much increased, that it awakened my attention. This, however, I attributed to a rather strong breeze that had sprung up. My dog, who had, since his entrance into the boat, lain pretty quiet, began to disturb me with his renewed barkings, fawnings, and supplicating gestures. I imagined that he wished to land; and as the air was becoming chill, I felt no objection to comply with his wishes. On looking around, however, and seeing no fit place of landing, I continued my course, hoping shortly to find some more commodious spot. Very great, however, was the dissatisfaction of Carlo at this arrangement; but in spite of his unwillingness, he was obliged to submit, and we sailed
Shortly, however, my ears were assailed by a distant rumbling noise, and the agitation of my companion redoubled. For some time he kept up an uninterrupted howling, seemingly under the influence of great fear, or of bodily pain. I now remarked that, though the wind had subsided, the rapidity of the boat's course was not abated. Seriously alarmed by these circumstances, I determined to quit the river as soon as possible, and sought, with considerable anxiety, for a place where I might by any means land. It was in vain; high banks of clay met my view on both sides of the stream, and the accelerated motion of the boat presented an obstacle to my taking advantage of any irregularities in them, by which I might otherwise have clambered up to land. In a short time my dog sprung over the side of the boat, and I saw him, with considerable difficulty, obtain a safe landing; still he looked at me wistfully, and seemed undecided whether to retain his secure situation, or return to his master.
Terror had now obtained complete dominion over me. The rush of the stream was tremendous, and I now divined too well the meaning of the noise which I have mentioned. It was no longer an indistinct murmur; it was the roar of a cataract, and I shuddered and grew cold, to think of the fate to which I was hurrying, without hope of succour, or a twig to catch at, to save me from destruction. In a few moments I should, in all probability, be dashed to atoms on the rock, or whelmed amid the boiling waves of the waterfall. I sickened at the thought of it. I had heard of death; I had seen him in various forms; I had been in camps where he rages; but never till now did he seem so terrible. Still the beautiful face of nature, which had tempted me to my fate, was the same: the clear sky, the moon, the silvery and fleecy clouds, were above me, and far high in the heaven, with the same dazzling brightness shone the stars of evening, and, in their tranquillity, seemed to deride my misery. My brain was oppressed with an unusual weight, and a clammy moisture burst out over my limbs. I lost all sense of surrounding objects; a mist was over my eyes; but the sound of the waterfall roared in my ears, and seemed to penetrate through my brain. Then strange fancies took possession of my mind: things of whose shape I could form no idea, would seize me, and whirl me around till sight and hearing fled: then I would start from the delusion as from a dream, and again the roar of the cataract would ring through my ears. These feelings succeeded each other with indefinite rapidity; for more than a very few minutes could not have elapsed from the time I became insensible, to the time of my reaching the waterfall. Suddenly I seemed rapt along inconceivably swift; and in a moment, I felt that I was descending, or rather driven headlong, with amazing violence and rapidity; then a shock, as if my frame had been rent in atoms, succeeded, and all thought or recollection was annihilated. I recovered in some degree, to find myself dashed into a watery abyss, from which I was again vomited forth to be again plunged beneath the waves, and again cast up. As I rose to the surface, I saw the stars, dimly shining through the mist and foam, and heard the thunder of the falling river. I was often, as well as I can remember, partly lifted up from the water; but human nature could not bear such a situation long, and I became gradually unconscious of the shocks which I sustained; I heard no
longer the horrible noise, and insensibility afforded me a relief from my misery.
It was long before I again experienced any sensation. At last I awoke, as it seemed to me, from a long and troubled sleep; but my memory was totally ineffectual to explain what or where I was. So great had been the effect of what I had undergone, that I retained not the slightest idea of my present or former existence. I was like a man newly born, in full possession of his faculties; I felt all that consciousness of being, yet ignorance of its origin, which I imagine a creature placed in the situation I have supposed, would experience. I know not whether I make myself intelligible in this imperfect narrative of my adventure; but some allowance will, I trust, be made, in consideration of the novel situation and feelings which I have to describe.
I looked around the place in which I was; I lay on a bed of coarse materials, in a small but airy chamber. By slow degrees I regained my ideas of my own existence and identity, but I was still totally at a loss to comprehend by what means I came into such a situation ; of my sailing on the river, of my fears and unpleasant sensations, and of being dashed down the falls of Ohiopyle—I retained not the slightest recollection. I cast my eyes around, in hopes of seeing some person who could give me some information of my situation, and of the means by which I was placed in it; but no one was visible.
My next thought was, to rise and seek out the inhabitants of the house; but, on trial, my limbs were, I found, too weak to assist me, and patience was my only alternative.
After this, I relapsed into my former insensibility, in which state I continued a considerable time; yet I had some occasional glimpses of what was passing forward about me; I had some floating reminiscences of an old man, who I thought had been with me, and a more perfect idea of a female form which flitted round me. One day, as I lay half sensible on my bed, I saw this lovely creature approach me; I felt the soft touch of her fingers on my brow; and though the pressure was as light as may be conceived from human fingers, it thrilled through my veins, and lingered in my confused remembrance; the sound of her voice, as she spoke in a low tone a few words to the old man, was music to me; her bright eyes, tempered with the serenity of a pure and blameless mind, beamed upon me with such an expression of charity and benevolence as I had never before beheld. During the whole time of my illness, those white fingers, those bright blue eyes, and the sound of that voice, were ever present to my diseased imagination, and exerted a soothing influence over my distempered feelings.
At length the darkness that obscured my mind and memory passed away. I was again sensible, and could call to mind, with some little trouble, a considerable part of the accidents that had befallen me. Still, however, the idea of my passing over the brink of the rocks over which the river precipitates itself; of the shock which I experienced when dashed upon the cataract, and of my terrible feelings, I had a very slight and confused idea. I now longed more ardently than before for some one from whom I might gather information concerning those things which were unknown to me. My strength being in some degree
recruited, I endeavoured to rise, and succeeding in the attempt, I examined the room in which I lay; but no one was there my next labour (and a work of labour I found it) was to put on some clothes, which I found deposited on a chair: being equipped, therefore, as fully as circumstances would admit, I commenced my operations. My first step was to enter into an adjoining room, which, fearful of trespassing on forbidden ground, I did with some trepidation. This room was, however, likewise destitute, as I thought, of inhabitants, and I was about to retire, when the barking of a dog arrested my attention; and, turning round, I beheld, with no small satisfaction, my old fellow-traveller Carlo. Shall I attempt to describe our meeting? It was the language of the heart, inexpressible in words, that spoke in the sparkling eyes and joyous gambols of my dog; and I was busily engaged in patting him, when, turning round, I perceived that our privacy had been intruded upon. The beautiful creature on whom my wandering fancy had dwelt, stood looking at us, supporting, with one arm, the old man, her father; while on the other hung a basket of flowers. I stood gazing at them without speaking; I know not what magic made me dumb, but not a word escaped my lips. She was the first to speak, and expressed her joy at seeing me able to depart from my couch, chiding me at the same time for so doing, without leave. "I," said she, smiling, "am at present your physician; and I assure you I shall exercise the power which I have over you as such, in as rigorous a manner as possible." "Aye," added the father, "like all your sex, you love to make the most of the little power you have. But," added he, "we should not thus salute a guest by threatening him with subjection: he is our guest, and not our captive." By this time I had recovered the use of my tongue, and began to express my gratitude for their kindness, and my sorrow at the trouble which I was conscious I must have occasioned to them; but my politeness was cut short, by the frank assurance of my host that I was welcome, reiterated more gently, but not less warmly, by his lovely daughter. Carlo and I were now separated, much against the wishes of both; but my fair physician was inexorable, and I was compelled to turn in again, in scaman's phrase, till to-morrow, and to suspend for the same time my curiosity.
The next day at length came, and I requested my entertainers to favour me with answers to the questions which I should propose to them. They smiled at my eagerness, and promised to satisfy my curiosity. It was easily done. The old man had a son, who, passing by the falls of Ohiopyle some nights before, in the evening, was attracted by the moanings and lamentations of a dog, and, descending to the bottom of the fall, perceived me at the river side, where I had been entangled among some weeds and straggling roots of trees. From this situation he had great difficulty, first in rescuing me, and, having succeeded in that point, in conveying me to his father's dwelling, where I found I had lain several days, till, by his daughter's unremitting attention, (the old man himself being unable materially to assist me, and the son compelled to depart from home on urgent business) I had been restored, if not to health, to a state of comparative strength, which promised to terminate in complete restoration. Such were the facts which I contrived to
gather from the discourse of my host and his daughter, notwithstanding their softening down, or slightly passing over every thing, the relation of which might seem to claim my gratitude, or tend to their own praise. As to themselves, my host was a Pennsylvanian farmer, who, under pressure of misfortune, had retired to this spot, where the exertions of the son sufficed for the support of the whole family, and the daughter attended to the household duties, and to the comfort of the father.
When the old man and his daughter had answered my queries, I renewed my thanks, which were, however, again cut short.. If they had been of service to a fellow-creature, it was in itself a sufficient reward, even if they had suffered any inconvenience from assisting me (which they assured me was not the case). Many other good things were said at the time, which I forget; for-shall I confess it ?-the idea that all that had been done for me was the effect of mere general philanthropy, displeased me. When I looked at the lovely woman who had nursed me, with sister-like affection, I could not bear to reflect that any other, placed in a similar situation, might have been benefited by the same care; being watched over with equal attention, and greeted with the same good-natured smile; in short, that I was cared for no more than another, and valued and taken care of merely as a being of the same species with themselves, to whom, equally with any other, their sense of duty taught them to do good.
In a day or two, my health was so much improved, that I was permitted to walk out in the small garden which surrounded the cottage. Great was my pleasure in looking at this humble dwelling. Its thatched roof, with patches of dark green moss and beautiful verdure; its white walls and chimney, with the wreaths of smoke curling above it; the neat glazed windows, the porch and its stone seat at the door; the clean pavement of white pebbles before it; the green grass plat, edged with shells, and stones, and flowers, and gemmed with "wee modest" daisies, and the moss rose in the middle,—were to me objects on which my imagination could revel for ever; and I sighed to think that I must shortly part from them. It remained for me in some manner to show my gratitude before I parted from my benevolent host; but I was long before I could settle the thing to my mind. I felt unhappy, too, at the thought of leaving the old man; his white-washed cottage, his garden, and his beautiful and good daughter:-" And yet it cannot be helped," I repeated again, and again. "How happy I should be," I thought, "in this lovely spot, and perhaps the daughter-dare a man at first acknowledge even to himself, that he is in love. And why should I not be be happy ?"
I am married-need I say to whom? And the white-washed cottage, with its mossy thatch, have the same attractions for me -nay, more, for it is endeared by the ties of love, of kindred, and of happiness. I have lived in it nine years; my children flock around me, my wife loves me, and her father is happy in seeing her happy. Her brother is flourishing in his business, and none in our family are dissatisfied or in want. Often do I thank God for my blessings, and look back with pleasure to the day when I passed the Falls of Ohiopyle.