Imágenes de página

6 The

you !


the stove to take possession of the merchant's weapon. Mr. Ohle however declined, fearing the bear might return and find him defenceless.

“ Do be reasonable, madam !” he said, changing his gun alternately from hand to hand, to keep it out of her reach. gun is loaded ; if you are so vehement, it may go off and kill

Won't you listen to me ?”

Only give me the gun !" cried the pastor's wife, all out of breath, but continuing to struggle with the merchant, who found himself compelled to leap down against his will, and continue the battle on flat ground. But Gertrude left the cowardly fellow in possession of his weapon, and hastened to the door to unlock it, and go to the assistance of her child-all unarined as she was, and unstrengthened, save by the all-powerful panoply of maternal love.

The only two people in the room, however, who were on their legs-not either behind the bedclothes or in the chest-resisted her efforts to escape, but the strength of love conquered. Mr. Ohle fell to the ground so suddenly that all his ribs cracked, and Catty's whole length was soon reposing op the boards. They lost no time, however, in jumping up to bar the door again, after the pastor's wife's hasty departure.

“ The devil 's in the woman, I do believe !" said the merchant, shaking himself ; “ she is nearly as dangerous as the bear. Mrs. Catty, who is knocking ? calling so out of that trunk? I suppose it can't be the girl for whose sake all this scene has taken place ?"

It must be supposed extreme fear takes away the eyesight, otherwise the merchant, who had himself seen Susan get into the trunk, from which Catty now rescued her, would never have asked such a question.

“I cannot see,” continued the merchant (while he ventured a cautious glance through the little window),“what the woman can do! Either the bear has devoured the child, or he has not. In the first event she is past help, in the second she would not require any."

Gertrude, meantime, did not pause to look at the bear outside, who, sometimes howling, sometimes sneezing, was still endeavouring to rub away the hot plaster with his paws, but hastened to the pile of wood, which was built up near the dwelling-house, looking earnesly around in an agony of anxiety, to ascertain if she could discover any traces of her unhappy child. She had not long to look, for there was Sophy, alive and uninjured, cowering down in a sort of shed, made by three great billets of wood.

“ Hush ! hush !” cried the rejoicing mother, very softly, “or the white bear will find us out!" and she took her restored child into her arms, kissing it tenderly with floods of joyful tears, though the danger was by no means over.

Master Bruin was not at all calmed, but continued raging about, and frequently passed close in front of the protecting logs. Moreover, the burnt bear, it appeared, was but a young one, for an old she-bear, followed by another young one, soon came up to the spot, attracted by his howls; and first alternately licked his wounded face, and then turned their rage against the house, the inhabitants of which were ignorant of the extent of their danger.

Why does the bear howl so ?” asked Sophy in a whisper. “ Hush ! ” replied her mother ; "for heaven's sake keep quite still. If the bears find us out we shall be lost.” “ But

you told me we should rise again if a bear did eat us," replied the child.

“ It hurts, though," said her mother, “to die such a death. It hurts very much, and what would papa say if he came back and could not find us?"

“ How many times would a bear bite at me, if he wanted to eat my head ?" asked Sophy. " Would he take two bites to it?”

Gertrude felt as if the bear's long teeth were actually in her flesh, as she listened to these childish questions of Sophy's. She pressed her convulsively to her heart, and whispered, “ Pray, my dear child, pray to God that He may send His angels to watch over us.”

“I am hardly at all afraid,” replied the child,“ now you are with me.

And even when the bear came close by this piece of wood

“A crash interrupted her—for the old she-bear with one spring and blow of her paw had burst in one of the windows of the house. Immediately after there was a flash of light in the opening, and a bullet sent by the merchant's unskilful band whistled close to Gertrude's arm, but missed the head of the she-bear, who, as well as her young ones, was excited to fresh anger by the shot; and, indeed, it was almost a miracle that the roving eye of the prowling monster did not detect the hiding-place of the mother and her child.

Gertrude still retained her presence of mind, and bad determined, if she really saw the bear had discovered her, to overturn the pile of wood, and run the risk of being buried with her child in the fragments rather than become the prey of the wild beast. She had even twice clutched one of the lower billets to execute her

desperate intentions, when shouts from two opposite directions at the same moment convinced her help was at hand. Egede with his companions came up at the same time with the men who had been to the vessel, and immediately a hot fire was opened upon the unbidden guests they discovered breaking into their house.

Gertrude was still in imminent peril, however, if not from the bears, at least from the balls; from which she strove to shelter Sophy with her own body. One young bear soon trotted off, with several balls buried in his thick hide. His brother fell with one through his heart, and expired with a growl. The old shebear remained licking her dying child, till she too was shot; and the victors approached with a cry of triumph.

Suddenly the smith, pointing with his lance to the pile of wood where Gertrude, speechless with emotion, was creeping out of her hiding-place with the child, exclaimed, “Present your pieces, there is another beast in there!"

Gertrude's white sheepskin jacket might truly have been the cause of her death, had she not recovered her powers of speech before the balls could arrive, and thereby convinced them she was not a white bear, to her husband's great joy.

When, after this happy meeting, they stood contemplating their fallen enemies, fearful even in death, the pastor remarked, pointing as he spoke to the she-bear, “ This poor beast puts many a Christian to shame by the strength of her maternal love." But the pastor's wife had no need to blush, for she had done more for her child than even the she-bear!


l'ew rightly estimate the worth
Of joys that spring and fade on earth :
They are not weeds we should despise,
They are not flowers of paradise ;
But wild flowers in the pilgrim's way
That cheer, yet not protract his stay ;
Which he dare not too fondly clasp,
Lest they should perish in his grasp ;
And yet may view, and wisely love,
As proofs and types of joys above.

He who never relaxes into sportiveness is a wearisome companion, but beware of him who jests at everything.

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

AFTER a six hours' passage from Cadiz, I arrived at Gibraltar. The enormous rock loomed still through the morning haze, when Health, represented by a gentleman dressed in a black coat and a round hat-resembling other round hats, except that it had for a band a strip of white calico-came alongside, and, with great gravity, examined the ship's papers, already inspected, by-the-by, a hundred times, turning them over and over by the help of a pair of long iron tongs, lest, by touching them with the tip of one of his fingers, he should be infected with the plague. His boat even was not allowed to touch the steamer. As we could produce a clean bill of health, and all else was regular, in the course of a quarter of an hour we landed.

The Rock of Gibraltar has the general form of a triangular prism, stretching along the sea from the north to the south. Its perpendicular height is 449 mètres (1464 feet); its length about 4000 mètres (4347 yards), and its breadth about 1000 mètres (1086 yards).

On the eastern side, throughout nearly the whole of its length, its face is as even as if cut with a pick ; and when from the east of the precipice, lying flat to avoid all fear of light-headiness, you stretch your neck over the void, and gaze on the sharp rocks below, and the sea which washes them, your breathing becomes difficult, and your hand clenches the rugged stone you are resting on, and moistens with cold perspiration; then, when with staring but sightless eyes, you have by extraordinary and instinctive efforts succeeded in wriggling back from the brink of the abyss, and raising yourself, you seem to have escaped from a perilous danger, and feel compelled to sit down, with your back towards the precipice.

On the western side, the rock rises in unequal, and often abrupt slopes, and can only be ascended by long winding inclines. About a half of this western slope is rugged, and bare of vegetation ; the other half, though no less rugged, is almost entirely covered with shrubs and tropical plants. It is said that the latter half, which is less frequented than the other, is tenanted by apes; but I could see no sign of them, though I watched very carefully during the nine hours that I remained there. Besides, I do not know on what they could live; I could discover neither fruit nor berry; corks that had done their duty I did see, with pieces of broken bottles, and scraps of greasy paper, but no other signs of life or its supports. Douglas's Cave, a large grotto hollowed out of the rock, at the extremity of which a kind of large bed has been cut out, is near the summit of this part. From the little platform in front of this cave there is a magnificent view, which amply rewards the curious visitor for the heat and appetite which he is pretty sure to have gained by the time that he has arrived at his journey’s end. On the same slope there is another grotto, but this is a natural one; it is spacious, deep, and gloomy, and from its curious and beautiful walls and columns, composed of green, yellow, red, and white stalactites, it might be taken for the remains of the vast organ of some subterraneous ruined cathedral.

At its northern extremity the rock loses itself in a strip of fine sand, about three miles long and one and a half wide, elevated scarcely more than nine or ten feet above the level of the sea, and connecting it with the mainland. The rock itself rises so abruptly and so perpendicularly from the point which unites it to this strip

« AnteriorContinuar »