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"Bless me!" exclaimed Mr. Greene, greatly disconcerted, but quickly regaining his seat in the saddle, "Bless me-what a horse!"
"Best 'orse in the crowd, sir," insisted Mike, coming to the rescue, and seizing the animal by the head, with an emphatic "whoa!"
"There-Michael, don't chafe her," exclaimed Mr. Greene, soothingly"don't! There that's better. Hold on to her now, a moment," continued Greene, putting another coin into the guide's hand. "Don't let her run back again, Mike."
'No-don't;" repeated Mr. Greene.
Then turning to the crowd who remained behind at the hotel, and who had enjoyed his trifling discomfiture vastly, he
resumed his castor with the remark that he "deemed it but civil to uncover in the presence of so many fair ladies, at starting;" and, followed by three hearty cheers, he forced his unwilling Rosinante into a sharp gallop down the valley, to the mountain road, overtaking the party
as it disappeared from view of the company at the "Glen."
Your party winds along, in Indian file-one horse behind the other-through the varying scenes of wild and natural beauty which crowd upon the view at every turn, and you cannot cease to admire, to exclaim, to wonder, or to praise, as you pass sluggishly on towards the peak. Surrounded on both sides, at first, by the forest, you shortly find your way flanked by trees of a lesser magnitude, but thickly set; and soon after, the
stunted growth of savins and scrub-oak appear; then you encounter patches of aged and grim dwarfs, now blasted and torn by the lightnings, now uprooted by the mountain storms, and laid prostrate in your path, or by the sides of the road; now appear clumps of cedar and other hardy evergreens, all withered and apparently sapless, as you get higher up the mountain side, where the size of the trees is now reduced to the merest shrub; and soon all sign of vegetation
Now you encounter a sharp hill for several rods-now a ragged knoll, and now a gulch, through which the spring rains and melting snows have been tearing for weeks, perhaps, and at sight of which even your well-bred donkey starts, or bolts, or halts outright; now, a lively spring or miniature torrent gushes madly out from some rocky fissure at the way-side, and your jaded beast thrusts his head into its cool waters" with a will." Now you meet a chasm in your way, over which your dull nag leaps with the agility of a lame cow, causing your hair to stand on end at your awkward escape from a momentarily anticipated breaking of the neck! And now, rollicking and shouting with the ladies-heaven bless them, how admirably well they endure the fatigues of this journey!-and still moving forward slowly, measuredly, but surely, upon the backs of those sullen, dogged,
The atmosphere is perceptibly colder, and the cumbersome coats and shawls, which the guide insisted you should take with you at starting, you find of great service. As you proceed, the fir bushes and stinted shrubs grow fewer and further between, and are now seen only in the sheltered crevices and hollows of the rocks. A little grass is then met with, along the margin of the springy spots, and finally the brown moss, even, refuses to show itself on the sides of your pathway.
Some five miles distant from the bed of the valley stands Bald Ledge-the wildest and most outre of all the wild scenes to be witnessed upon the mountains. At an elevation of near five thousand feet above the ocean's level, it is a rocky, barren spot, over which you pass in reaching the Summit House, and from which, in a clear hour, you have a surprisingly interesting view of the hills and valleys below you.
the front of the Glen House, when the atmosphere is unobstructed, you catch a glimpse of the trail of travelers as it passes around a bluff just beyond its plaza, and from this height, en passant, you may turn in the saddle and obtain a charming view of the mountains already passed, and of the scenery far down in the valley below. The line of travelers can thus be seen from below only for a moment; but against a clear sky they are very distinctly defined; and signals are here exchanged between those who are bound up, and who may have left friends at the public-house in the glen-the latter, from the hotel piazza, being on the lookout for their companions, with the telescope.
"Bald Ledge" itself is an uncharitable, cheerless, barren mass of broken rocks-well named. It is flanked upon the right by a miserable death-stricken forest of tall, gnarled stumps, standing
thickly together, from which the leaves and bark has been stript, evidently, for years, and which, by the action of the extreme cold weather and storms there, have become bleached to a chalky whiteness, from the roots to the highest branches. The trees are shapeless; or, rather, of every conceivable shape into which the pitiless winters of that region, aided by the thousand storms that have spent their fury around, could possibly contort them; and there they stand, along the sharp brink of the ledge, upright or embracing a neighbor, twisted and shattered, isolated or in clumps-but entirely white-root, boll, and branch, throughout the whole forest; like so many blanched and blasted ghosts, halting there with outstretched arms and scrawny fingers, to fright one from his propriety as he is compelled to pass by this desolate region.
Various theories are current, account
ing for the curious appearance of this desolated forest. Our guide informed us that the trees had been burned-the woods there having been fired by lightning, many years since and that the bark being thus crisped, the subsequent cold winters and storms had beaten off the outer coating of the bolls and branches, and they had subsequently bleached out to this deathly whiteness, by slow degrees. The more reasonable and philosophical cause is found, however, in the statement that, during the years 1816 and '17, the thermometer scarcely rose, in that immediate region, above the freezing point; and these trees having put forth no foliage during that entire season, it is believed that they remained congealed in the sap during a period of sixteen months; and were thus destroyed, and afterwards blanched by time and storm.
The traveler stands with a shudder upon the verge of the deep precipice which flanks this frightful and dreary
init,' and Tip - top.' Better going, by-an'by-hurry up, hurry up!" and you turn the bluff once more, still ascending, more rapidly than before.
From this point, the bridle-path is narrowed to a mere line, formed over the continuously rocky way by the hoofs of the horses, and is but a single stretch
(without variation in character) of loose stones, and small boulders irregularly thrown together, upon which the donkey treads with increased caution, picking his way up and onward, with the most commendable moderation and care-planting first one foot and then another, as he goes, and skillfully calculating the chances of the trip or misstep that might tumble himself and his usually nervous rider headlong over some ugly precipice on his right or left, as he advances thus sluggishly along, panting, and puffing, and toiling upward to the summit halting-place, which he remembers so well.
For the hundredth time you ask the guide if that mound or that cliff beyond you is the last? You have been in the saddle four or five hours, laboring continually up hill; and, though you can admire the magnificent scenery that you are permitted to behold, yet your appetite has been strangely sharpened (at least, such Mr. Greene declared to be his "innermost sensations"), and you are right well inclined to test the quality of the viands prepared for and awaiting, your arrival at the Summit and Tip-top
Houses. Within forty rods of the doors of these hospitable buildings, erected at the very peak of Mount Washington, there stands a rude pile of rocks, some eight or nine feet high, which arrests your attention, and which is thrown up by the hand of friendship to mark the scene of a painful occurrence which took place in the fall of 1855, upon that spot.
Miss Lizzie Bourne, of Kennebunk, Me., in company with a small party of her immediate friends, started from the Glen House, at a late hour one day during the month of September, in the expectation of reaching the "Summit" before dark, where they intended to tarry till the following day.
They passed the "shanties," and Mr. Myer's cottage (below the ledge), in excellent spirits, but Mr. M., who had long been a resident of the mountains, deemed it too late for them to reach the summit. They hastened on, howand a sudden storm came up, which increased as they continued to ascend; and they finally found themselves bewildered with the sleet and snow, entirely at a loss to determine
which way they should turn. Night succeeded, the dreary darkness enveloped everything around themand still, under the guardianship of the gentleman of the party, they struggled on, and upward. Wearied out, at length, and absolutely lost in the blackness of the night and the storm, they were compelled to halt, and shelter themselves as best they might-under the terrible circumstances--beneath the comparatively friendly lee of a large boulder they discovered.
The physical strength of Miss Bourne, evidently, was not equal to the task of ascending Mount Washington on foot, at all, her health being fragile previous to this effort. They crouched beyond the rock, however, as far out of the reach of the wind as it was possible to retreat; and there they remained, amid the howling and raging of that fearful storm, during the entire