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southern end of the American Fall. The river is here studded with small islands. Crossing a wooden bridge to Luna Island, and clasping a tree which grows near its edge, I looked long at the cataract, which here shoots down the precipice like an avalanche of foam. It grew in power and beauty. The channel spanned by the wooden bridge was deep, and the river there doubled over the edge of the precipice, like the swell of a muscle, unbroken. The ledge here overhangs, the water being poured out far beyond the base of the precipice. A space, called the Cave of the Winds, is thus enclosed between the wall of rock and the falling water.
Goat Island ends in a sheer dry precipice, which connects the American and Horseshoe Falls. Midway between both is a wooden hut, the residence of the guide to the Cave of the Winds, and from the hut a winding staircase, called Biddle's Stair, descends to the base of the precipice. On the evening of my arrival, I went down this stair, and wandered along the bottom of the cliff. One well-known factor in the formation and retreat of the cataract was immediately observed. A thick layer of limestone formed the upper portion of the cliff. This rested upon a bed of soft shale, which extended round the base of the cataract. The violent recoil of the water against this yielding substance crumbles it away, undermining the ledge above, which, unsupported, finally breaks off, and produces the observed recession.
At the southern extremity of the Horseshoe is a promontory, formed by the doubling back of the gorge excavated by the cataract, and into which it plunges. On the promontory stands a stone building, called the Terrapin Tower, the door of which had been nailed up because of the decay of the staircase within it. Through the kindness of Mr. Townsend, the superintendent of Goat Island, the door was opened for
From this tower, at all hours of the day, and at some hours of the night, I watched and listened to the Horseshoe Fall. The river here is evidently much deeper than the American branch; and instead of bursting into foam where it quits the ledge, it bends solidly over, and falls in a continuous layer of the most vivid green. The tint is not uniform ; long stripes of deeper hue alternating with bands of brighter colour. Close to the ledge over which the water rolls, foam is generated, the light falling upon which, and flashing back from it, is sifted in its passage to and fro, and changed from white to emerald green. Heaps of superficial foam are also formed at intervals along the ledge, and are immediately drawn into long white streaks. Lower down, the surface, shaken by the reaction from below, incessantly rustles into whiteness. The descent finally resolves itself into a rhythm, the water reaching the bottom of the fall in periodic gushes. Nor is the spray uniformly diffused through the air, but is wafted through it in successive veils of gauze-like texture. From all this it is evident that beauty is not absent from the Horseshoe Fall, but majesty is its chief attribute. The plunge of the water is not wild, but deliberate, vast, and fascinating. From the Terrapin Tower, the adjacent arm of the Horseshoe is seen projected against the opposite one, midway down ; to the imagination, therefore, is left the picturing of the gulf into which the cataract plunges.
THE FALLS OF NIAGARA.
PART II.-BENEATH THE FALLS.
On the first evening of my visit, I met, at the head of Biddle's Stair, the guide to the Cave of the Winds. He was in the prime of manhood-large, well-built, firm, and pleasant in mouth and eye. My interest in the scene stirred up his, and made him communicative. Turning to a photograph, he described, by reference to it, a feat which he had accomplished some time previously, and which had brought him almost under the green water of the Horseshoe Fall. "Can
you lead me there to-morrow?' I asked. He eyed me inquiringly, weighing, perhaps, the chances of a man of light build, and with grey in his whiskers, in such an undertaking. 'I wish,' I added, 'to see as much of the fall as can be seen, and where you lead I will endeavour to follow. His scrutiny relaxed into a smile, and he said, 'Very well ; I shall be ready for you to-morrow.'
On the morrow, accordingly, I came. In the hut at the head of Biddle's Stair, I stripped wholly, and re-dressed according to instructions, -drawing on two pairs of woollen pantaloons, three woollen jackets, two pairs of socks, and a pair of felt shoes. Even if wet, my guide assured me that the clothes would keep me from being chilled ; and he was right. A suit and hood of yellow oilcloth covered all. Most laudable precaucions were taken by the young assistant who helped to dress me to keep the water out; but his devices broke down immediately when severely tested.
We descended the stair ; the handle of a pitchfork doing, in my case, the duty of an alpenstock. At the bottom, the guide inquired whether we should go first to the Cave of the Winds, or to the Horseshoe, remarking that the latter would try us most. I decided on getting the roughest done first, and he turned to the left over the stones. They were sharp and trying
The base of the first portion of the cataract is covered with huge boulders, obviously the ruins of the limestone ledge above. The water does not distribute itself uniformly among these, but seeks out channels through which it pours torrentially. We passed some of these with wetted feet, but without difficulty. At length we came to the side of a more formidable current. My guide walked along its edge until he reached its least turbulent portion. Halting, he said, 'This is our greatest difficulty ; if we can cross here, we shall get far towards the Horseshoe.'
He waded in. It evidently required all his strength to steady him. The water rose above his loins, and it foamed still higher. He had to search for footing, amid unseen boulders, against which the torrent rose violently. He struggled and swayed, but he struggled successfully, and finally reached the shallower water at the other side. Stretching out his arm, he said to me, 'Now, come on!' I looked down the torrent, as it rushed to the river below, which was seething with the tumult of the cataract. De Saussure recommended the inspection of Alpine dangers, with the view of making them familiar to the eye before they are encountered ; and it is a wholesome custom in places of difficulty to put the possibility of an accident clearly before the mind, and to decide beforehand what ought to be done should the accident occur. Thus wound up in the present instance, I entered the water. Even where it was not more than kneedeep, its power was manifest. As it rose around me, I sought to split the torrent by presenting a side to it; but the insecurity of the footing enabled it to grasp my loins, twist me fairly round, and bring its impetus to bear upon my back. Further struggle was impossible ; and feeling my balance hopelessly gone, I turned, flung myself towards the bank just quitted, and was instantly, as expected, swept into shallower water.
The oilcloth covering was a great encumbrance; it had been made for a much stouter man, and, standing upright after my submersion, my legs occupied the centre of two bags of water. My guide exhorted me to try again. Instructed by the first misadventure, I once more entered the stream. Had the alpenstock been of iron, it might have helped me; but, as it was, the tendency of the water to sweep it out of my hands rendered it worse than useless. I, however, clung to it by habit. Again the torrent rose, and again I wavered ; but, by keeping the left hip well against it, I remained upright, and at length grasped the hand of my leader at the other side. He laughed pleasantly. The first victory was gained, and he enjoyed it. 'No traveller,' he said, 'was ever here before. Soon afterwards, by trusting to a piece of driftwood which seemed firm, I was again taken off my feet, but was immediately caught by a protruding rock.
We clambered over the boulders towards the thickest spray, which soon became so weighty as to cause us to stagger under its shock. For the most part nothing could be seen; we were in the midst of bewildering tumult, lashed by the water, which sounded at times like the cracking of innumerable whips. Underneath this was the deep resonant roar of the cataract. I tried to shield my eyes with my hands and look upwards ; but the defence was useless. The guide continued to move on, but at a certain place he halted, desiring me to take shelter in his lee, and observe the cataract. The spray did not come so much from the upper ledge, as from the rebound of the shattered water when it struck the bottom. Hence the eyes could be protected from the blinding shock of the spray, while the line of vision to the upper ledges remained to some extent clear. On looking upwards over the guide's shoulder I could see the water bending over the ledge, while the Terrapin Tower loomed fitfully through the intermittent spray-gusts. We were right under the tower. A little farther on, the cataract, after its first plunge, hit a protuberance some way down, and flew from it in a prodigious burst of spray; through this we staggered. We rounded the promontory on which the Terrapin Tower stands, and moved, amid the wildest commotion, along the arm of the Horseshoe, until the boulders failed us, and the cataract fell into the profound gorge of the Niagara River.
Here the guide sheltered me again, and desired me to look up; I did so, and could see as before the green gleam of the mighty curve sweeping over the upper ledge, and the fitful plunge of the water, as the spray between us and it alternately gathered and disappeared.
We returned, clambering at intervals up and down, so as to catch glimpses of the most impressive portions of the cataract. We passed under ledges formed by tabular masses of limestone, and through some curious openings formed by the falling together of the summits of the rocks. At length we found ourselves beside our enemy of the morning. Conroy