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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 303 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

Before very long we reached a little kennel-like hut of boughs, which no decent dog would have lived in, and no large dog could have entered, and from this we drew a charcoal-burner.  No, he said, he did not know the glaciere; he had heard that one had been discovered near there, and he had spent hours in searching for it without success.  A herdsman on his way from one pasturage to another could give no better help, and we began to despair, till at length Louis desired us to halt in a place sheltered from the rain, while he prosecuted the search alone.  We had abundant time for observing that, like other leafy places sheltered from the rain, our resting-place was commanded by huge and frequent drops of water; but at last a joyful Jodel announced the success of the accomplice, and we ran off to join him.

At first sight there was very little to see.  Louis had lately been enunciating an opinion that the cave was not worth visiting, and I now felt inclined to agree with him.  The general plan appeared to be much the same as in the one we had just left, but the scale was considerably smaller.  The pit was not nearly so deep or so large, and, owing to the falling-in of rock and earth at one side, the snow was approached by a winding path with a gradual fall.  As soon as the snow was reached, the slope became very steep, and led promptly to an arch in the rock, where the stream of ice began.  The cave being shallow, the stream soon came to an end, and, unlike that in the lower glaciere, it filled the cave down to the terminal wall, and did not fill it up to the left wall.  Here the ground of the cave was visible, strewn with the remains of columns, and showing the thickness of the bottom of the stream to be about 6 feet only.  The arch of entrance had evidently been almost closed by a succession of large columns, but these had succumbed to the rain and heat to which they had been exposed by their position.

The left side of the cave, in descending, that is the west side, was comparatively light, being in the line from the arch; but the other side was quite dark, and after a time we found that the ice-stream, instead of terminating as we had supposed with the wall of rock at the end of the cavern, turned off to the right, and was lost in the darkness.  Of course candles were brought out, though Louis assured us that he had explored this part of the cave on his previous visit, and had found that the right wall of the cave very soon stopped the stream:  we, on the contrary, by tying a candle to a long stick, and thrusting it down the slope of ice, found that the stream passed down extremely steeply, and poured under a narrow and low arch in the wall of the cave, beyond which nothing could be seen.  We despatched pieces of ice along the slope, and could hear them whizzing on after they had passed the arch, and landing apparently on stones far below; so I called for the cords, and told Louis that we must cut our way down.  But,

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