Page images

the earth. They were then drawn up till the lowest part hung even with the spot where the young fir-tree was growing, and by means of a hook, were pulled in and planted there. The foot of the ladder was now in its right place; but the upper part, owing to the overhanging formation, bulged out with its own weight. The rope was now slackened twenty feet or so, and the ladder suffered to fall against the eyrie. After endless endeavours, it did so fall, and was then seen to be several feet too short. • It nowhere rested against the rock, and being of very light construction, its own weight, light as it was, caused it to make a concave line, which was unpleasant to look at. The lower ladder, the craziest of the three, thirty-eight feet long, stood at an angle of sixty degrees; the second, which had been entirely constructed during the night, thirty-six feet long, and destined by me to occupy the central place, as having to support the greatest weight, stood perfectly perpendicular; the third, thirtyfour feet in length, formed an angle like the first, only in the contrary direction--namely, backwards. At the top, it was full two feet from the eyrie, and leaned against the lower part of it, and on the branches and interwoven boughs of which it was built.'

Neither woodcutter nor forester would venture upon this, averring that whoever got on the topmost ladder, no matter how light he might be, must needs fall backwards. If they were to get their prince's whole territory for their pains, they said, they would not attempt such a thing.

' Then,' said the count, 'I must needs go up myself, for I will not let the eaglet starve after having shot the parent-birds.'

Then he gave directions as to what should be done in case of accident; above all, enjoining silence upon the


others whatsoever they might see occur to him.' "The foot-ladder was so slender that it rocked with my weight very considerably, and I was glad when it was passed. When I now came to the perpendicular one, and saw the position of that at top, I cannot deny that, as I mounted, I commended my soul to my Maker; but I was calm, and as full of confidence in the strength of my arms, and in my bodily activity, as though there was not the least danger present. The perpendicular ladder was ascended. Although I had not the least giddiness whatever, I could not but see, on looking upwards, and then down below, that to mount the third ladder was a feat for a rope-dancer, rather than for any one else; and thinking of my wife and thirteen children, I turned it over in my mind, whether it would not be better to go back. Meanwhile it occurred to me, that as long as the upper part of the ladder did not project more outwards, it would, by reason of its own perpendicular weight, bear the weight of my body hanging backwards without toppling over. Trusting, therefore, to this, I now began to mount, my body hanging down and away from the ladder, which, as the men afterwards told me, was a really fearful sight. I now was at that part of the ladder where it leaned against the straggling branches of the eyrie, and had ten or twelve rounds still above me. I discovered that the eyrie, instead of being two feet high, as we had supposed when viewing it from below, was composed of branches which had been accumulated by the eagles for years, and was nearly eight feet in height. The ladder was therefore about eight feet too short, in order to enable a person to step off it into the nest. What was to be done? To turn back was not at all to my taste, and the hope to be able at least to look into the eyrie carried the day. With all heed I mounted higher; putting my hands through the ladder, and holding on by the branches of the eyrie, and with my feet pressing the ladder as closely as possible against it. I had now the last round of the ladder in my hand, but there was still five feet to the nest; so that I was obliged to trust all my weight to the branches that composed it. Boring my hands and arms as far as I could into the immense fabric of boughs and branches, I carefully tested them all till I found one that I could neither snap in two nor drag out; grasping this firmly, I thus got on the topmost round of the ladder-one hundred and ten feet high—but even now I could only lean my chin firmly against a stick on the outermost edge of the nest, while with both arms I held fast on its surface. Just before me lay a half-putrid dead animal, alive with a million of worms, and there was a stench enough to knock one down from the ladder. However, in my unsafe position, there was little time for giving due attention to all this abomination. When I had gained a firm hold, I allowed myself to stretch my back and knees somewhat; by doing so, I gained half a foot, which just enabled me to peep into the nest, where, to my despair, I made the discovery that the young bird was sitting in the very hindermost corner, four feet away from

On gaining sight of him, I held doubly tight with my left hand, and saluted the young scion of a royal race with due respect, taking off my cap to him, and waving it with a shout to the men below. I now cast a look at the household arrangements of the eyrie, and discovered at least half-a-dozen roe and chamois kids, several hares, black-cock, a weasel, &c., all half devoured, besides a mass of bones, and skeletons spread out on the nest, which was alive with all sorts of vermin. It was a veritable carrion-pit, horrid and disgusting. The question, however, was to get possession of this future despoiler.'


The count could not clamber into the nest, for then he would not have been able to reach the topmost round of the ladder again, so he pulled a stick out and poked the young bird, who seized it with his talons, whereupon he dragged it towards him. The count was for a moment without hold or support of any

kind.' No wonder that those beneath him were made giddy and sick through watching his movements; no wonder that he was himself in such a perspiration that the moisture ran down into his shoes, and that on coming below he was unable to hold his hand and arm quiet from the excessive exertion.


Leopold. John, go to Mr Marcus's room, and ask him to lend me Livingstone's Travels in Africa.

John. Mr Marcus, my master sends me to beg you will lend him Livingstone's Travels.

Marcus. Tell Mr Leopold that I make it a rule never to lend my books, but if he will take the trouble to come to my room, he can read Livingstone's Travels as long as he likes.

Three months after. Marcus. Thomas, go and ask Mr Leopold to lend me his bellows to blow my fire. You will never be able to light it without them, I am quite sure.

Thomas. Mr Leopold, your friend, Mr Marcus, has sent me to beg the loan of your bellows to blow his fire.

Leopold. I am very sorry. Give my compliments to Mr Marcus, and tell him I make it a rule never to lend my bellows; but if he will give himself the trouble of coming into my room, he is welcome to blow, my fire as long as he likes.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

2. While I am lying on


grass Thy twofold shout I hear; From hill to hill it seems to pass,

At once far off and near.

« PreviousContinue »