After that I cleared off. Descending through a fertile valley, from the bottom there loomed upwards higher mountains, looking black and dismal, with clouds black and dismal keeping them company. We had now to cross the undulating ground still separating us from Pu-peng. The early portion of the ground was something like Clifton Downs, something like Dartmoor. The country was poor, and the people barely put themselves out to boil water for chance travelers.
The storm broke suddenly. From the shelter of a hollowed rock I watched it all.
Over the submerged plain and the bare hills the blackness was as of night. Red earth without the sun looked brown, brown looked black, and the trees, swaying helplessly before the raging fury of the gale, seemed struck by death. Lightning continued its electrical vividity of fork-like greenish white among the heavy clouds, drooping threateningly from the hill-tops to the darkened valleys below, laden still with their waiting, unshed deluge. Through a narrow incision in the cruel clouds the sun peeped out with a nervous timidity, and a tiny patch over yonder, in a flash illuminated with gold and purple, across which the lightning danced in heavenly rivalry, displayed the magic touch of the Artist of the skies. Then came a rainbow of sweetest multi-color, of a splendor glorious and exquisite, delicate as the breath from paradise, stretching its majestic archbow athwart the waning gloom from range to range. As one drank in the glimpses of that dark corner in this peculiar fairyland, a mighty peal of magnificent, stentorian clashing broke finally upon me, and heaven’s electricity again flitted fearfully over the earth, aslant, upwards, downwards again, upwards again, disappearing over the unmoved hills like a thousand tortured souls fleeing from Dante’s Hades. And here I sit on, in that veritable “rock of ages” cleft for me, glad that no human touch save that of my own mean clay, that no human voice came between me and the voice of that Infinite beyond. I seemed to have been standing on the verge of another world, another great unknown. The heavens raged and the thunders thereof roared, and the wild wind hissed and moaned and wailed the hopeless wail of a lonely, tormented soul. The cold was intense, and through it all I sat drenched to the skin.
On the bleak mountain thus I was the pitifulest atom of loneliest humanity, yet felt no loneliness. The face of the earth frowned in angry fury, the awfulness of the raging elements dwarfed all else to utter annihilation. But even at such a time, coming all too seldom in the lives of most of us, when standing in some remote spot which still tells forth the story of the world’s youth, one’s inmost nature thrills with a sense of unison with it all beyond human expression. All was so grand, inspiring one with an awe beyond one’s comprehension, a peculiar, dread of one’s own earthly insignificance. These pictures, graven in one’s memory with the strong pencil of our