Artabanzanus/Chapter 2

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1319970Artabanzanus — Chapter IIWilliam Moore Ferrar



While at Lake Sorell it was my custom to retire to rest at nine o'clock, because I knew that my sitting up later would inconvenience my host and hostess; the former being anxious to get up early to attend to his daily duties, and the latter being accustomed to study for an hour after all the household had retired. Before wishing them goodnight, however, I made it a rule to take a few turns outside the house, in order to see what kind of weather we were likely to have during the night and on the following day, and also to meditate awhile on the philosophy of nature, and on the strange vicissitudes of human experience. It was the second evening after my visit to the Giant's Castle that I became as weary of the protracted drought as Mr. Pepper was, who had told me that if it continued much longer it would blight everything green and fresh, and transform the very air into a seething furnace of suffocating smoke. I looked out upon the surrounding belt of tall forest trees, and up at the cloudless sky, with strong feelings of disappointment and fear, for I deeply sympathised with the anxieties which belong to the poor farmer's lot whether he be a keeper of sheep or a tiller of the soil.

Just before entering the house again that evening, I saw a sudden flash of pale blue light, low down upon the northern horizon, which made my heart leap with joy. I had already seen one in broad daylight, while on the pinnacle of the castle, in my mind's eye. Now it was a reality. There was actual lightning approaching, and there was thunder in the air, but as yet it had not made itself heard. I watched for at least an hour the successive faint flashes, which gradually increased their wild play through the wilderness, and then I went to my couch in the happy belief that the long-expected and thrice-blessed rain was coming.

At midnight exactly I was awakened by a tremendous crash of thunder rolling along the very ridge-pole of the roof. Springing from my bed, and throwing on an overcoat, I went out into the open air. The sky, to my great surprise, was still without a cloud, and not a breath of wind stirred the leaves of the trees; but the lightning flashed incessantly in blinding columns of flame, lighting up the gloomiest recesses of the immense forest, and sweeping with strange, ghostly, phosphorescent glow over the calm waters of the adjacent lake. The thunder still pealed out, crash after crash; but where did it all come from? Why all this terrible clamour, and weird illumination of the vasty deep, if we were to get no rain? Unable to solve the mystery, I turned in to my bed again.

Two hours after I was again awakened. A loud trumpeting and drumming deluge was falling on the roof. Never was music more sweet, or eloquence of stunning senator more delicious; but alas! it ceased almost as soon as it began, and subsided into light and intermittent showers, which continued until daybreak. Then the convulsion ceased altogether, and we were left once more to our silent slumbers.

After breakfast I strolled down to the lake, as I was in the habit of doing. It was a most lovely morning in April, hot as in the middle of summer, and the still parched earth was tasting for more rain. I thought it exceedingly strange that no sooner did I seat myself on the shore than I lost, or seemed to lose, all perception of where I actually was falling straightway into a mesmeric trance, a delightful reverie, and thence into a day-dream, in which the scenes and the persons who figured in them became to me substantial realities. A soft atmosphere, clear, bright, and sparkling, to which I had not lately been accustomed, surrounded me. The lake expanded before me until it assumed the dimensions of a vast sea, calm and brilliant like a sea of rosy glass. A wide and smooth road, of dazzling whiteness, seemed to encircle it as far as my eyes could reach, whereon thousands of elegantly dressed men and women, on beautiful and spirited horses, and in all descriptions of grand carriages, careered with incredible speed. The glassy sea was covered with innumerable ships and boats, shooting about here and there, propelled by some wonderful invisible power, for I saw neither oar nor sail, nor funnel for smoke or steam. While gazing on these extraordinary things, a large and sumptuous vessel suddenly stopped within a few yards of the place where I was seated, and a man—or a superior being—descended to the water, was by my side in an instant, and commanded me to accompany him on board.

The magnificent vessel now flew through the water at the rate, I fully believe, of one hundred miles an hour. I shall not attempt to describe the superb grandeur of its equipment. My conductor, when I ventured to look upon him, appeared to be a strong and vigorous young man, with a countenance rather thoughtful and winning than strikingly beautiful. His person was tall and commanding, and the people on the ship—for so I suppose I must call them— treated him with the greatest respect, obeying his every nod, and even the glances of his eyes. He wore on his head a helmet, which seemed to be one large pearl, and carried in his hand a silver staff about four feet in length. A rich white tunic, reaching to the knees, closely enveloped his person; bright blue sashes of some strange but exquisite material crossed each other on his breast, and at the point of contact glittered a large diamond star. Below his left shoulder I saw the image of some bird on the wing, worked in purple silk. His legs were clothed in what appeared to me to be dark green velvet, and his feet were protected by boots of a substance resembling ivory. He did not speak to me during the voyage, and I was so overwhelmed with wonder and awe that I did not dare to speak to him.

We drew near what I supposed to be the opposite shore of the lake, the numerous ships and boats that were in our way drawing aside quickly in order to let us pass. I saw that we were approaching a mountain of prodigious height, and proportionate extent in every direction. It was covered from its base to its summit with buildings, which sparkled and shone as if built of stars. There were castles, palaces, towers, and temples, surrounded by gardens of luxuriant beauty, and shaded by trees of extraordinary verdure, loaded with flowers and fruit; but its summit was so far away in the dread regions of space, that I could scarcely see either its shape or its habitations. The ship entered a grand harbour, which was crowded with other ships, and was moored to a broad wharf by a hundred willing hands. Before going on shore, my guide signed to me to follow him down into the interior of the vessel, and while putting on my shoulders a curious light-blue mantle, and on my head a cap with a white plume, he said with indescribable dignity, entirely free from haughtiness or severity of tone:

'I am permitted to show you a small portion of this home of ours; follow me whither I go; do as you see me do; ask no questions, I will explain hereafter. You will distinguish me in the crowd by this red flower in my helmet. You are, for the present, my attendant or aide-de-camp, but remember that I also have a master.'

I bowed low, in deep humility and astonished silence. Who was this mysterious being that, while confessing himself to be a servant, was saluted and obeyed by everyone he met? He walked out of the ship with a lordly air. A proudly-caparisoned horse was led up for him by a person who wore a blue mantle and white plume like those I was wearing. When he was mounted, his servant, in obedience to a sign from him, went back to a company of horsemen, and led up another noble creature for me. My new master led the way, and I followed at the distance of a few paces, the other horsemen bringing up the rear. Our way was not directly up the mountain, but along the base of it, and we soon turned into a street of such magnificence that my senses nearly fled from me altogether. It was truly a street of palaces, separated from each other by the grandest gardens it is possible to conceive, and joined together by arches over the gardens several hundred feet in height. It was filled with crowds of people, on foot, on horseback, and in carriages. Multitudes of men and women, for such at least I supposed them to be, thronged the glittering pavements or loitered in earnest conversation in the busy street. My guide was saluted on all sides by bows and smiles of respectful recognition. I also was obliged to return many salutes. Being compelled to keep my eye on my master, I could not see or attend to much that was going on; but of this I am quite sure, there was not one person to be seen whose garment spoke of poverty or disgrace, or one countenance that wore an aspect of pain, disease, sadness, degradation, or vice.

We rode on and on until our leader turned into a great square, surrounded by buildings more vast and beautiful, if possible, than any I had yet seen. I was dazzled and overpowered by the sight. Here rose up suddenly an enormous octagon tower, of shining white marble, piercing the sky; there an obelisk of black marble and gold, on a pedestal of ruby-coloured glass. Like the street outside, the square was crowded with people, principally men on horseback, clothed like my master in white garments and pearl helmets, who seemed to be mustering for some great parade or festivity. Numbers also wandered about, prancing here and there, who wore uniforms of different colours. Military music of the grandest description was not wanting. In a little time he to whom I was attached dismounted at the entrance-gate of one of the finest of the palaces, and entered the apartments within. Gorgeous furniture, splendid decorations, pictures which could be gazed on for ever, vases, statues, revolving scenes, moving, changing landscapes, and ornaments of wonderful beauty, presented themselves to my view. In one gigantic chamber tables were laid out, which were spread with delicious fruits, representing all kinds of animal and vegetable foods, bread and wine. We partook of these refreshments, and rose up inspired and invigorated with new mental and bodily life. Then we entered another crowded room which contained all kinds of models in gold and silver—castles, ships, and extraordinary machines. There were actual rivers flowing over model waterfalls, and an immense reservoir of water, enclosed by a circular wall of glass as high as my shoulders, in which there were hundreds of beautiful fishes, and on its surface numbers of model ships were moving in all directions.

Then we went into another great chamber. This, to my intense delight—oh, how shall I describe it?—was a magnificent library. All my life I have been passionately fond of books. I envied authors, and thought them surely the happiest of men, and vowed within myself that if I ever could I would be one of them. And yet our books may be compared to the stars of heaven for multitude, and for the brilliancy of their lustre. The pages piled on pages which have been heaped together by one single active brain, and one industrious hand, are such as almost to surpass belief, and would indeed be perfectly incredible did we not hear of it on unquestionable authority, and frequently even see for ourselves the mighty monuments which have been reared by great intellects, and bequeathed to posterity.

But the books which I saw before me now far exceeded in grandeur all that I had ever seen before. Shelves were loaded, tables groaned, flying columns, like regiments manoeuvring in sham battle, were scattered through the room. Histories of all worlds, 'Geology of the Sun,' 'The Earth in its Antediluvian State,' 'Progress of Society in the Planet Saturn,' 'History of the Creation of the Star Sirius and his Companion Worlds,' Autobiographies of Angels, were within my reach. The room was a very large and lofty one, lighted from the roof, and surrounded with several tiers of galleries. Like the others, it was crowded with people, all appearing to be young, or, at most, middle aged; some were deeply engaged with books, others were busy writing letters. I noticed that when one of them had finished a letter, he looked up to the roof, and immediately a bird, of a kind I had never before seen, descended, took the letter, and flew off with it, as I supposed, to some central office. As I stood pondering on this, and other wonders, a soft rushing sound, without warning, swelling slowly into a loud vibration of the air as from a great trumpet, resounded through the palace. My master, and all within the room, rose from their seats, and stood for some moments in reverential silence. It was felt that an august and Divine Presence was diffusing itself around, and a Voice breathed the solemn words, 'Love one another, as I have loved you.' A thrilling glow of inexpressible delight, tempered indeed by deeply humbled and remorseful thoughts, came to me, and then an intensely joyful burning of the heart as the unspeakable gift of love passed over us.

My conductor now led me into a smaller room, of which there were several opening into the great library. It was furnished in a very elegant manner, with every suitable convenience for a person of exalted rank. The walls were adorned with pictures of mysterious life. A beautiful globe, representing our little world, hung from the ceiling. A large clock of marvellous construction stood on one side. A golden vine spread its branches, bearing rich fruit, over one of the walls. Two large windows looked out upon the square, which was becoming more crowded with officers in all kinds of brilliant dresses. He in whose presence I now stood took his seat at a silver table, and pointed to a chair, of which I timidly took possession. He placed his helmet on the table. His rich brown hair curled over a high and noble forehead. His eyes were dark blue, and exceedingly bright and clear; his nose, ears, and lips were delicately formed, and strikingly beautiful. After a short pause he looked at me as if he would devour me with his eyes, and then he spoke thus to me:

'This is one of the outlying portions of the great city of Eternity, of which, doubtless, you have heard—not I hope with unbelieving scorn and contempt, as is the prevailing fashion in your ignorant world—and you see what our city is like; but you cannot see, and you cannot know, the ten thousandth part of its beauties, pleasures, and privileges. I have been, fortunately for myself, graciously permitted to take up my abode in it, and this palace is my residence when I am not commanded to be elsewhere. I have duties to perform, being a captain in the grand army of our Prince, who commands us, and reigns over us for ever. By the Presence which you were allowed to feel while in the library, know that within three days a Review will take place in the Park of the River of Life, at the other side of the mountain, where will be assembled many millions of redeemed human beings, but you cannot be there. Know that in this city are everlasting joy, peace, purity, and love. Nothing coarse or brutal, nothing vile, offensive, or revolting, can enter here. We have no plagues, wild beasts, or noxious insects to trouble us. No evil passion, envy, hatred, jealousy, or avarice ever enters our hearts. No violence, secret assassination, or open murder; no wars, diseases, or death can separate us or make us miserable. The trees of our forests and gardens supply us with abundance of delicious food; we need never fear famine, or destitution. We enjoy perfect happiness in the service of our Divine Prince, who is not the prince of your world. Seek therefore to be united with us: the meanest of our servants is better and higher than an emperor of the earth. Do not fail or hesitate. Give your whole heart to the mighty Being who gave you life, and who offers to redeem you from the grave.'

He looked upon me with an unutterable expression of affection and anxiety. A wild thought darted through my brain. I recognised him and fell at his feet, clasping his knees and crying: 'My father, my dear, dear father, have I found you again?'

'Yes, son of my love,' he replied, raising me up and kissing my forehead, 'I am, I was your earthly father. You must now go hence, but we shall meet again; a few more years and all will be over. Beware of the world! seek no honour or fame or wealth amongst men, and thank God night and day who has preserved you from the temptations by which many who do seek such things are destroyed.'

'My father,' I said, 'if I must go, may I not see my mother and my brothers and sisters who are dead? Where are they?'

'Yes,' he answered, 'they are all here; you may see them for a moment, but do not address them.'

He now led me through a number of apartments in which I saw fresh objects of wonder. Here were various intricate passages into a large garden, a garden indeed of indescribable luxuriances and beauty. On one portion of it a large pavilion of silver tissue stood out in bold relief. I purposely abstain from the details of description, relating only the salient points of all the grand things that I saw. As we approached this pavilion we heard the sound of music from within. As we entered I was obliged to lift my hand to shield my eyes from the soft and enchanting glow of fairy-like light with which they were dazzled. I was lost in astonishment, and my guide was evidently under the powerful influence of some strong emotion. Neither of us spoke a word. At a large instrument like an octagon piano sixteen young ladies sat, all playing together a brilliant piece of music. Others sat round them playing on instruments resembling guitars and flageolets. I never before heard such delightful music. There were lovely children also in this pavilion.

Not far from this group there was another, which consisted of twelve ladies of very elegant appearance. They looked like Roman matrons seated on thrones of ivory and gold, and were engaged upon some peculiar description of embroidery, having a large coloured cloth like a banner spread on their knees, and stretching out on the floor before them. On our approach they looked up from their work, and one of them, an extremely beautiful woman, smiled graciously and rose from her seat, but at a sign from my father she sat down again, while her face assumed an expression of strange gravity. My heart leaped up into my mouth! This was my mother!—my mother! Her presence seemed to burn my soul like fire. Her beauty enchanted me; her ineffable grace bewitched me; her calm, grave, half reproachful glance, as if she recognised but did not dare to acknowledge me, was like a dagger in my heart! Oh, my mother! hast thou not forgiven me for the errors and follies of my youth? How I long to clasp thee once more to my breast!

My father held up his staff, and the music ceased. The lovely musicians arose from their seats, and arranged themselves behind the chairs of the ladies engaged in embroidery, and he addressed them thus:

'Ladies! this friend and servant of mine is a visitor from the earth. His name I am not permitted to divulge. He is one of the poetical sons of the world, but as a poet he has no name.' Then, turning to me, he continued: 'Sir, these ladies will be happy to hear one of your poetical compositions.'

Taken by surprise, and overwhelmed with timidity and confusion, I was silent for some time. At length I thought of a Jubilee Ode, which I had written in honour of our gracious Queen, and, summoning all my courage to my aid, recited it thus:


'In visions of the dark but mighty Past,
From dreams of many happy days gone by,
In sadness, yet in joy, we wake at last
To blend our voices in sweet harmony:
Joining our hands and singing, fondly singing
Of thee, O gentle Queen and Sovereign,
Revered, beloved, the hills around us ringing
With rapturous shouts, still in thy glorious reign.
Now since that day when first we heard thy name
Proclaimed as Britain's monarch, there have flown
Full half a hundred years; and in thy fame
Ourselves exalted and full grown
From youth to age, from folly to be wise;
From darkness, as it were, to light; from shades of night

To-day's effulgent brightness; in thine eyes
Beholding peaceful pictures of delight:
Rejoicing still as we rejoiced so long;
Deign but to hear and to approve our song.

'Full half a hundred years! since yesterday!
They seem but halves of hours: yet in the time
What changes have been wrought! Still far away
The things that gave us pain appear, and in their prime
Our joys are rich and fresh, revealing home and youth,
And lov'd ones wreathed in beauty's smiles and charms
Of unforgotten sweetness, kindness, truth:
Our parents' love, circled in sisters' arms,
Blessed by our brothers' voices, prayed for by friends,
Far over half the world on waters glancing
In strange fantastic light, which neither ends
By night nor day, this startled soul entrancing,
Borne like a floating shell. This is the history
Of thousands of thy subjects, happy Queen,
Brought back again through memory's hidden mystery
O noble Queen!
Be still to us what thou so long hast been!

'And yet, alas! how many have gone down
Into the tomb who might have seen this day,
And shared in all our joy before thy crown;
Slain by dark crime; by rude blasts swept away;
By reckless sailors dashed on rugged rocks;
By war's fierce venom torn from love and home;
Or rent in twain by pitiless earthquake shocks;
Or lost on trackless wastes, condemned to roam:
These are the shadows. If there hath been war,
If hatred, if sedition, rule a part
In all thy wide domains, or if the car
Of mad, revengeful slaughter wildly dart
Between us and our joys, thou'rt not to blame:
Thy heart is peace; thy soul is good and pure;
To men's base passions we impute the shame.
Thy pitying tears flow for them, we are sure;
Thy gentle bosom heaves in deep distress:
Thy wish, if such might be, would quickly bring
An end to hate and lawless wickedness,
O gentle Queen,
With which the nations ring!

'We change the theme. How shall we show our pleasure,
Or how congratulate thee, true-hearted Queen?
We could not, were we rich, increase thy treasure,
For all true happiness thou in full hast seen.
Shall we repeat, what tongues ne'er tire of telling,
And sing thine empire's glories?—how on land

Thy strength is feared: on ocean proudly swelling,
Thy navies guard thy world-wide glittering strand:
How on thy realms the sun doth ne'er go down;
How millions call thee Empress: thy banner waves
From pole to pole; how rich gems deck thy crown—
How brave thy warriors' hearts, as one who braves
The battle's thunders and the tempest's rage?
These are the flowers it is thy lot to tread;
These are the actors on life's stormy stage;
These are the sons who for thee nobly bled;
And we who bleed not—still the wish is ours—
The fond, deep wish, fairer than crowns of earls—
To strew thy path with all our loveliest flowers,
O mighty Queen!
And deck thy diadem with richer pearls.

'With what great sovereign of the vanished years
Shall we compare thee, happy, happy Queen—
Blest with all blessings, rich in that which cheers
The soul and heart, a matron, dear, serene?—
Not with her, surely, daughter of a king—
A monster-tyrant, mocking at man's pain,
Who scoffed at mercy as an unholy thing.
Bidding his subjects' blood flow down like rain!
Mary! what recks it, when thou wast on the throne,
Two hundred martyrs died by axe and stake?
Thou heard'st no piercing scream, no hapless groan;
The Christian's light did not thy hard heart break;
Thy slaves, the furious Bonner and his crew,
Drunk in their blood-stained revelry—where are they?
And Philip, whom the weeping nations knew?
All swept to infamy away!

'Neither with her, Elizabeth, the brave,
The lion-hearted Queen, of virgin charms,
Who shattered on the island-girdling wave
The might of Spain with England's hosts in arms;
Who, while all kings in solemn awe beholding,
Wondering and trembling at tremendous power,
Played the pretending lover, her white hands folding,
Prepared to strike, smiling in Cupid's bower.
Lost in enchantment, making fools of men,
Laughing at tears: her battlemented tower
A tower of woes indeed; her house a den
Of mocking beings; its grim walls arrayed
With ghastly heads! Dread Queen, who ruled by fear!
These she with Biron of France surveyed,
She hissing, "See how we punish traitors here!"
Laughing at wisdom, her own wild way pursuing
Her smile a Circe's cup, her frown a terror
Of Gorgon-wreathed serpents: her hands imbruing

In kindred blood—a sister Queen's! Sad error!
Fatal to future peace. What has fate to show
This maiden Queen, who once was sweet and fair;
Who from young hands took flowers; whose tears could flow
In tender sympathy, worn to the grave with care—
A miserable wreck, lately a fresh,
Angelic girl? Let Essex tell with maddening groan.
Her heart—one half, indeed, was heart of flesh
The other half—of stone!

'Neither with her, illustrious Anne, the star
Of whose proud diadem was victory:
Illustrious through him whose strength in war
Was terrible, and most wonderful to see.
Blenheim and Ramilies still trump his fame—
In wild confusion England's foes he hurled;
While Genius crowned with glory many a name,
Which in its turn gave glory to the world.
But she, unhappy Queen, bereft of all
That made her life a joy, except her crown,
With broken heart saw her dear children fall—
The grave insatiable! like buds unblown,
Like star-lit gems, no sooner found than lost.
Like gleams of golden sunshine through a storm;
Ruled by her favourites, by their fierce passions tossed,
Weeping in agony over many a form,
O'er many a lovely form. Alas! her joy,
Whate'er it was, turned into bitterness,
As when we feel relentless woe destroy
Our fondest hopes, believing they might bless.
Dying midst courtiers' quarrels—seeking in vain
For earthly peace—wrenched from the shore
Of all her greatness: her line—last dreaded pain—
Uncrowned for evermore!

'But thou, incomparable Queen! we speak:
But what we feel; it hath pleased God to give
Health unto thee, and strength and heart to seek
Thy joy in His full glory; and mayst thou live
Long years to come; many of us shall die
Still honouring thee as Empress of our homes.
Our thoughts have wings and eyes, and can descry
Thy future bliss, even as one who roams
The realms of space, and sees vast worlds afar,
And muses on the littleness of earth,
Comparing it with each gigantic star:
Our earth, where pride and vanity have birth!
O gentle Queen, may thy remaining years
Be full of peace and joy, thou friend of peace!
Thou friend of virtue ! and ne'er may sorrow's tears
Bedew thy cheek, nor love nor wisdom cease;

And may thy children's children, both on land and sea,
Be saved from all the ills which flow around,
Yielding themselves to heavenly care like thee—
The world no worse, but better than 'twas found.
And if through distance we behold the traces
Of thy abiding griefs, it is not well
To sorrow uncontrolled o'er vacant places,
Knowing that with heaven's King thou too shall dwell.
We who are weak may not meet all the rays
Of thy great empire's splendour; but we are swift,
With grateful hearts, to give our God the praise,
O peerless Queen!
For thee, His priceless gift.'

The ladies graciously expressed their thanks and acknowledgments by smiles and courtesies. My father held up his staff again! The musicians resumed their seats, and played a charming symphony, with astonishing variations, of 'God save the Queen.'

Bowing a low and deep farewell, I now accompanied my father back through the intricate passages, and gigantic apartments, to the room of the golden vine.

'You have seen,' said he, 'what it is permitted to but few mortals to see. We lead here a charmed and enchanted life. We can scarcely form a wish that is not instantly gratified, or feel a want that is not instantly supplied. Pleasure lingers long, pain follows not. The evil frown of offended pride or disappointed avarice disturbs us not. The lying tongue of slander utters no sound here. More I cannot show you; further secrets I cannot tell you. Fall not, my son, into that vain and foolish error so prevalent among men, that because these things are hidden from their eyes and other senses, therefore they do not exist. Avoid the paths of those who presume to teach others what they do not know themselves. Their teaching will lead you to the blackness of eternal death. Arouse yourself from your self-satisfied security; from your bland settlement upon your lees, and confident hope of reward for having done nothing. If I have done no good, you say I have done no harm: I never killed, or cheated, or committed adultery, therefore I shall be all right. I tell you nay: more, far more than this shall be required of you: awake from your pleasing dream, and awaken others. Is the great Being who created all worlds one likely to be mocked or played with? Wash while you may, in that Fountain which is offered for the effacement of all uncleanness. Remember the poor, and help them according to your means; rescue young children from wickedness, and our God will bless you.'

So saying he struck the table with his silver staff, and another officer entered the room. 'Take,' said my father to him, 'this servant of mine back to the ship in which he came hither.' He bowed to me with a distant grace and dignity which cut me to the heart, though it carried with it a consolatory effect, and retired to another apartment. My tears fell fast as I followed my new conductor, who bade me take my place in a chariot which we found at the entrance gate.

We were now driven through several wide streets, under a series of magnificent arches, not by the way which we had at first traversed, but up the mountain side for some distance; and then turning back through a terrific gorge, which was spanned by a glorious bridge, constructed of large blocks of glass of all imaginable colours. Our carriage stopped in the centre of the bridge. The views on either side were grand beyond description. The officer by my side, who seemed to be a very good-humoured kind of man, carried on a running commentary on every wonder which presented itself to our view. We now drove down rapidly to the ship, and I was hurried on board. She once more flew through the water, coasting along the shore of the lake, and a truly astonishing shore it was, studded with gigantic castles and mansions in the bosoms of delightful groves and meadows. We passed by several rivers, some of them exhibiting distant waterfalls, amongst enchanting hills. The trees were of mighty proportions, and were laden with gorgeous flowers and tempting fruit up to their topmost branches. All too soon I was set on shore at the place whence the vessel had borne me, and my vision gradually faded away into the murky smoke which floated over Lake Sorell.