He had proceeded about fifty yards, when he halted abruptly; an unspeakable and unaccountable horror, not hitherto experienced amidst all his peril, came over him. He shook in every limb; his muscles refused his will,—he felt, as it were, palsied and death-stricken. The horror, I say, was unaccountable, for the path seemed clear and safe. The fire, above and behind, burned clear and far; and beyond, the stars lent him their cheering guidance. No obstacle was visible,—no danger seemed at hand. As thus, spell-bound, and panic-stricken, he stood chained to the soil,—his breast heaving, large drops rolling down his brow, and his eyes starting wildly from their sockets,—he saw before him, at some distance, gradually shaping itself more and more distinctly to his gaze, a colossal shadow; a shadow that seemed partially borrowed from the human shape, but immeasurably above the human stature; vague, dark, almost formless; and differing, he could not tell where or why, not only from the proportions, but also from the limbs and outline of man.
The glare of the volcano, that seemed to shrink and collapse from this gigantic and appalling apparition, nevertheless threw its light, redly and steadily, upon another shape that stood beside, quiet and motionless; and it was, perhaps, the contrast of these two things—the Being and the Shadow—that impressed the beholder with the difference between them,—the Man and the Superhuman. It was but for a moment—nay, for the tenth part of a moment—that this sight was permitted to the wanderer. A second eddy of sulphureous vapours from the volcano, yet more rapidly, yet more densely than its predecessor, rolled over the mountain; and either the nature of the exhalation, or the excess of his own dread, was such, that Glyndon, after one wild gasp for breath, fell senseless on the earth.
Wenn ich nicht Alles habe?—sprach der Jungling.
“Das Verschleierte Bild zu Sais.”
("What have I, if I possess not All?” said the youth.)
Mervale and the Italians arrived in safety at the spot where they had left the mules; and not till they had recovered their own alarm and breath did they think of Glyndon. But then, as the minutes passed, and he appeared not, Mervale, whose heart was as good at least as human hearts are in general, grew seriously alarmed. He insisted on returning to search for his friend; and by dint of prodigal promises prevailed at last on the guide to accompany him. The lower part of the mountain lay calm and white in the starlight; and the guide’s practised eye could discern all objects on the surface at a considerable distance. They had not, however, gone very far, before they perceived two forms slowly approaching them.
As they came near, Mervale recognised the form of his friend. “Thank Heaven, he is safe!” he cried, turning to the guide.