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hamlet, which stood at no great distance, and bore every appearance of perfect wretchedness. I immediately quitted the grass-grown road, and approaching the man, enquired how far distant I was from Fort Augustus. This obscure Highlander appeared to observe me with a considerable degree of attention, but made no kind of answer to my eager question; and as the anxious state of my mind required immediate satisfaction, I repeated it with no small degree of ardour; he then placed the first-finger of his right hand upon his lips, and shaking his head, informed me by this dumb shew, that he could not speak English, and I was then unacquainted with the Gaelic, which is the native language of the Highlanders.
You may easily suppose that this disappointment served to irritate my feelings still more, and I returned somewhat dejected to the road.
The genial and all enlivening rays of the sun, now, no longer shone upon the earth, or cheered her creatures by the presence of day. The harsh screams of the night-birds already announced the close of twilight; and instead of being gratified by the picturesque yiews which I had 'so recently beheld, I could now only just perceive the rude outlines of tremendous mountains, which appeared to be reclining in dull repose, and slumbering on their heavy bases.
" Both sea and land looked dark and confined, as if only emerging from their original chaos; and light and darkness seemed still undivided."
Even the melancholy pleasure I derived from the contemplation of the sublime objects of nature, thus indiscriminately beheld, was soon denied me, by the intervention of total darkness, which was but occasionally illumined by the transitory beams of the moon, that sometimes gleamed her pale light through the gloom of a cheeriess night.
All the real and imaginary terrors of a benighted scene now rushed in full force on my mind. Wholly unacquainted with the road and nature of the country
I versing, I proceeded with all the caution cir. cumstances would allow, which was rendered more necessary when the frequent stumbles of my beast, led me to imagine that I had quitte
the beaten road. The intollerable suspense occasioned by this idea had arisen to a most painful height, when in an unlucky moment, my poor brute fell and rolled over me.
In this disagreeable and awkward dilemma, I found it necessary to sum up all my resolution, for in my endeavours to extricate myself, I was not a little dismayed by finding my right leg and thigh considerably bruised by the weight of the animal as she laid upon me. Many very painful minutes were elapsed before I was able to move from this dis. agreable situation, and I was no sooner freed, than I began to grope all around, in order to be certain whether I was really on the beaten road or not, and too soon I had the mortification, to' find myself amongst loose fragments of rock, stones, and heath, while no cheering object met my grasp.
I was now fully convinced that I trod no regular road, and consequently my spirits received a considerable degree of depression.
The growing violence of the wind that howled amongst the troubled heath, sometimes in deepened murmurs like the distant roaring of a tempestuous ocean, and at others in wild
whistling, like " a thousand ghosts shrieking at once on the hollow, blast," indicated the rising storm. Heavy drops of rain fell rapidly, and soon wetted me to the skin; while the hoarse rumbling of remote thunder shook along the earth, and portended dreadful meaning, and the black horizon seemed illumined at uncertain intervals by the pale flashes of distant lightning, which, darting its sudden blaze across the darkened face of heaven, seemed to encrease the thick gloom of the surrounding space, that possessed terrors to I had never before experienced.
“ Nothing but lamentable sounds were heard,
The thunder now came rolling on the blast, shaking the very ground upon which I stood, and the vivid lightning flashed in forked and sulphureous blaze across the heathy waste, making night more hideous. All the elements seemed as if mingled in furious combat, and contending for victory; whilst the darkness, mixed with fire and thunder, appeared about to consume me, and annihilate all Nature. For a while I stood appalled, and confessed the awe that humbled me into nought; but at length, actuated by a sudden fit of despair, I stuck spurs into my equally terrified companion, who darted with amazing rapidity across the dessolated wilderness, and was continuing at full speed, when our career received a shock at once sudden and unexpected. In an instant I was precipitated, with
my mare, down an abrupt precipice, and plunged into some water, which very luckily was not deep, and my beast regained her footing; yet the violence of the shock, and the danger of her situation, having rendered her for a while motionless, I had an opportunity of remounting
At this critical juncture a rent appeared in the agitated heavens, immediately over my head, and a broad flame of sulphureous fire wheeled its pale course over the reflecting surface of a troubled lake, whose murmuring waters now surrounded me, and which the vivid blaze had enabled me to distinguish.
The only mode I could adopt in order to extricate myself from so unpleasant a situation, was in giving the reins to my mare, whose instinct, in this case, was of more beneficial