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They retraced their steps—in vain : they could not discover her,-it was evident she had been swept along some opposite direction by the human current. Their friend, their preserver was lost! And hitherto Nydia had been their guide. Her blindness rendered the scene familiar to her alone. Accustomed, through a perpetual night, to thread the windings of the city, she had led them unerringly towards the sea-shore, by which they had resolved to hazard an escape. Now, which way could they wend? All was rayless to them -a maze without a clue. Wearied, despondent, bewildered, they, however, passed along, the ashes falling upon their heads, the fragmentary stones dashing up in sparkles before their feet.
Advancing, as men grope for escape in a dungeon, they continued their uncertain way. At the moments when the volcanic lightnings lingered over the streets, they were enabled, by that awful light, to steer and guide their progress : yet, little did the view it presented to them cheer or encourage their path. In parts, where the ashes lay dry and uncommixed with the boiling torrents, cast upward from the mountain at capricious intervals, the surface of the earth presented a leprous and ghastly white. In other places, cinder and rock lay matted in heaps, from beneath which emerged the half-hid limbs of some crushed and mangled fugitive. The groans of the dying were broken by wild shrieks of women's terror—now near, now distant—which, when heard in the utter darkness, were rendered doubly appalling by the crushing sense of helplessness and the uncertainty of the perils around; and clear and distinct through all were the mighty and various noises from the Fatal Mountain ; its rushing winds ; its whirling torrents ; and, from time to time, the burst and roar of some more fiery and fierce explosion.
Suddenly, the place became lighted with an intense and lurid glow. Bright and gigantic through the darkness, which closed around it like the walls of hell, the mountain shone-a pile of fire! Its summit seemed riven in two; or rather, above its surface there seemed to rise two monster shapes, each confronting each, as Demons contending for a World. These were of one deep blood-red hue of fire, which lighted up the whole atmosphere far and wide ; but below, the nether part of the mountain was still dark and shrouded, save in three places, adown which flowed, serpentine and irregular, rivers of the molten lava. Darkly red through the profound gloom of their banks, they flowed slowly on, as towards the devoted city. Over the broadest there seemed to spring a cragged and stupendous arch, from which, as from the jaws of hell, gushed the sources of the stupendous Phlegethon. And through the stilled air was heard the rattling of the fragments of rock, hurling one upon another as they were borne down the fiery cataracts—darkening, for one instant, the spot where they fell, and suffused the next in the burnished hues of the flood along which they floated !
Glaucus turned in awe, caught Ione in his arms, and fled along the street, that was now intensely luminous. But suddenly a duller shade fell over the air. Instinctively he turned to the mountain, and behold ! one of the two gigantic crests, into which the summit had been divided, rocked and wavered to and fro; and then, with a sound, the mightiness of which no language can describe, it fell from its burning base, and rushed, an avalanche of fire, down the sides of the mountain! At the same instant gushed forth a volume of blackest smokerolling on, over air, sea, and earth.
Another—and another—and another shower of ashes, far more profuse than before, scattered fresh desolation along the streets. Darkness once more wrapped them as a veil ; and Glaucus, his bold heart at last quelled and despairing, sank beneath the cover of an arch, and, clasping Ione to his heart, resigned himself to die.
Meanwhile Nydia, when separated by the throng from Glaucus and Ione, had in vain endeavoured to regain them. In vain she raised that plaintive cry so peculiar to the blind ; it was lost amidst a thousand shrieks of more selfish terror. Again and again she returned to the spot where they had been divided to find her companions gone, to seize every fugitive—to inquire of Glaucus—to be dashed aside in the impatience of distraction. Who in that hour spared one thought to his neighbour? Perhaps in scenes of universal horror, nothing is more horrid than the unnatural selfishness they engender. At length it occurred to Nydia, that as it had been resolved to seek the sea-shore for escape, her most probable chance of rejoining her companions would be to persevere in that direction. Guiding her steps, then, by the staff which she always carried, she continued with incredible dexterity, to avoid the masses of ruin that encumbered the path—to thread the streets—and unerringly (so blessed now was that accustomed darkness, so afflicting in ordinary life !) to take the nearest direction to the sea-side.
Poor girl! her courage was beautiful to behold !—and Fate seemed to favour one so helpless ! The boiling torrents touched her not, save by the general rain which acompanied them; the huge fragments of scoria shivered the pavement before and beside her, but spared that frail form : and when the lesser ashes fell over her, she shook them away with a slight tremour, and dauntlessly resumed her course.
She had gone some distance towards the seashore, when she chanced to hear from one of the fugitives that Glaucus was resting beneath the arch of the forum. She at once turned her back on the sea and retraced her steps to the city. She gained the forum—the arch ; she stooped down—she felt around-she called on the name of Glaucus.
A weak voice answered—'Who calls on me? Is it the voice of the Shades ? Lo ! I am prepared !'
‘Arise ! follow me! Take my hand | Glaucus, thou shalt be saved !'
In wonder and sudden hope, Glaucus arose—Nydia still ! Ah! thou, then, art safe!'
The tender joy of his voice pierced the heart of the poor Thessalian, and she blessed him for his thought of her.
Half leading, half carrying Ione, Glaucus followed his guide.
After many pauses and incredible perseverance, they gained the sea, and joined a group, who, bolder than the rest, resolved to hazard any peril rather than continue in such a scene. In darkness they put forth to sea; but, as they cleared the land and caught new aspects of the mountain, its channels of molten fire threw a partial redness over the waves.
Utterly exhausted and worn out, Ione slept on the breast of Glaucus, and Nydia lay at his feet. Meanwhile the showers of dust and ashes, still borne aloft, fell into the wave, and scattered their snows over the deck. Far and wide, borne by the winds, those showers descended upon the remotest climes, startling even the swarthy African; and whirled along the antique soil of Syria and Egypt.
And meekly, softly, beautifully dawned at last the light over the trembling deep !—the winds were sinking into rest -the foam died from the glowing azure of that delicious sea. Around the east, their mists caught gradually the rosy hues that heralded the morning ; light was about to resume her reign. Yet, still, dark and massive in the distance lay the broken fragments of the destroying cloud, from which red streaks, burning more and more dimly, betrayed the yet rolling fires of the mountain of the Scorched Fields.' The white walls and gleaming columns that had adorned the lovely coasts were no more. Sullen and dull were the shores so lately crested by the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The darlings of the Deep were snatched from her embrace ! Century after century shall the mighty Mother stretch forth her azure arms, and know them not-moaning round the sepulchres of the Lost !
SIR E. BULWER LYTTON,
THE ISLAND OF JAN MAYEN.
Up to this time we had seen nothing of the island, yet I knew we must be within a very few miles of it; and now, to make things quite pleasant, there descended upon us a thicker fog than I should have thought the atmosphere capable of sustaining; it seemed to hang in solid festoons from the mast and spars. To say that you could not see your hand, ceased almost to be any longer figurative ; even the ice was hid-except those fragments immediately adjacent, whose ghastly brilliancy the mist itself could not quite extinguish as they glimmered round the vessel like a circle of luminous phantoms. The perfect stillness of the sea and sky added
very much to the solemnity of the scene ; almost every breath had fallen, scarcely a ripple tinkled against the copper sheathing, as the solitary little schooner glided along at the rate of half a knot or so an hour, but the only sound we heard was the distant wash of waters, but whether on a great shore, or along a belt of solid ice, it was impossible to say. In such weather, as the original discoverers of Jan Mayen said under similar circumstances, 'it was easier to hear land than to see it.' Thus hour after hour passed by and brought no change. Fitz and Sigurdr-who had begun quite to disbelieve in the existence of the island—went to bed, while I remained pacing up and down the deck, anxiously questioning each quarter of the grey canopy that enveloped us. At last, about four in the morning, I fancied some change was going to take place : the heavy wreaths of vapour seemed to be imperceptibly separating, and in a few minutes more the solid roof of grey suddenly split asunder, and I beheld through the gap—thousands of feet overhead, as if suspended in the crystal sky—a cone of illuminated snow.
You can imagine my delight. It was really that of an anchorite catching a glimpse of the seventh heaven. There at last was the long-sought-for mountain actually tumbling