There is still a little peak above us; an overhanging horn of snow which the wind has built against the mountain-top. I would like to stand there, just for a moment. The guide protests it would be dangerous, for if the snow should break it would be a fall of a thousand feet to the glacier on the northern side. But let us dare the few steps upward. How our feet sink! Is the snow slipping? Look at the glacier! What is happening? It is wrinkling and curling backward on us, serpent-like. Its head rises far above us. All its icy crests are clashing together like the ringing of a thousand bells. We are falling! I fling out my arm to grasp the guide—and awake to find myself clutching a pillow in the bunk. The alarm-clock is ringing fiercely for three o’clock. A driving snow-storm is beating against the window. The ground is white. Peer through the clouds as I may, I cannot even catch a glimpse of the vanished Gross-Venediger.
“Wherever we strayed, the same tranquil leisure enfolded us; day followed day in an order unbroken and peaceful as the unfolding of the flowers and the silent march of the stars. Time no longer ran like the few sands in a delicate hour-glass held by a fragile human hand, but like a majestic river fed by fathomless seas. . . . We gave ourselves up to the sweetness of that unmeasured life, without thought of yesterday or to-morrow; we drank the cup to-day held to our lips, and knew that so long as we were athirst that draught would not be denied us.”—Hamilton W. Mabie: Under the Trees.
There is magic in words, surely, and many a treasure besides Ali Baba’s is unlocked with a verbal key. Some charm in the mere sound, some association with the pleasant past, touches a secret spring. The bars are down; the gate open; you are made free of all the fields of memory and fancy—by a word.
Au large! Envoyez au large! is the cry of the Canadian voyageurs as they thrust their paddles against the shore and push out on the broad lake for a journey through the wilderness. Au large! is what the man in the bow shouts to the man in the stern when the birch canoe is running down the rapids, and the water grows too broken, and the rocks too thick, along the river-bank. Then the frail bark must be driven out into the very centre of the wild current, into the midst of danger to find safety, dashing, like a frightened colt, along the smooth, sloping lane bordered by white fences of foam.
Au large! When I hear that word, I hear also the crisp waves breaking on pebbly beaches, and the big wind rushing through innumerable trees, and the roar of headlong rivers leaping down the rocks, I see long reaches of water sparkling in the sun, or sleeping still between evergreen walls beneath a cloudy sky; and the gleam of white tents on the shore; and the glow of firelight dancing through the woods. I