Page:The fairy tales of science.djvu/300

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singly like monster icicles, now clustering into elegant chandeliers, and now twirling in spiral and festoon, imitating the most elaborate Gothic tracery.

Passing onward through antechambers and corridors of seeming porphyry and jasper, our ears are saluted by the trickle and fall of large heavy drops of water, the only sounds to be heard in this vast and wonderful Gnome Palace. Now we reach a vaulted chamber, the roof of which is sustained by arches springing from pillars of every form and colour. The floor is inlaid with chequered slabs; the walls are composed of broken and detached masses of rock, piled one upon another in picturesque irregularity; while high above us fantastic forms of stalactite are arranged with a grandeur beyond the workmanship of mortal.

We enter another apartment still more magnificent. Its walls are of purple marble, embellished with branching sprays of rock crystal, which, on the purple ground, assume the hue of the amethyst. The festoons of jewelled flowers, and the brilliant scroll-work of the ceiling; the cascades of crystal suddenly arrested into rigidity, and the uneven pavement of gold and red, green and azure, underneath our feet, combine to produce an effect of unparalleled grandeur. Our eyes are dazzled by the scene, and our footsteps are arrested by a vague terror born of so much weird beauty, while our mind is enthralled by its presence.

We are deep, deep down in the bowels of the