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seemed to look at you out of his eyes. A great Indian sabreur, feared of fierce hillmen. As you looked at him, you seemed to see the paddy-fields stretch away into boundless space, and to hear the low hum of innumerable dialects out of the beehive of the East.

“Haven't the ladies come down yet?" he inquired, carelessly.

Just then they were joined by a third, a man of three- or four-andthirty; unmistakably an Englishman; patriotically fresh-complexioned and bright-coloured; with an English face, English whiskers, and English clothes-one of that typical class whose nationality shouts at you half a mile off, and which may be said to carry its country about with it on its back; that class which, varying largely in type and style, yet stands as the ideal representative of the modern Englishman to country under the sun.


"Aren't the ladies ready yet?" he inquired, almost in the words of the earlier comer.

"No, Wainford," returned Rainer; "but it's time we were off. The Pic is usually in a good humour in the morning, but its temper isn't to be depended on in the afternoon."

As he spoke two ladies came forward. The elder was a woman mature in mind and person, of dignified presence, keen-eyed, composed, with a strikingly resolute air about her, clearly the sort of woman to beard the Alps if any should - which is one of those points which, like some others, women cannot settle for themselves, and will not let men settle for them, a woman who had a grudge against Nature for her sixty-three inches, and was determined to be tall in spite of her, yet who never felt her femininity to be a misfit or something come

to her by mistake. She had spent half her life almost solely in men's society, yet was keenly resentful of slights to her sex. This brighteyed, observant, compressed little woman was known far and wide as an intrepid wanderer over three continents-one who had boiled her pannikin of tea on the outer slopes of the Himalayas, and washed her pocket-handkerchief in the source of the White Nile. She, too, had done the Pic d'Aube before, and now went chiefly in the capacity of chaperon to the niece whose curiosity and love of adventure were the immediate causes of the expedition.

The latter was of a different type and period. Aunt and niece were two milestones marking the distance their sex had travelled in a generation. They were like natives of two sundered continents who gaze at one another with an interest born half of the like and half of the unlike, possessing much in common, yet chiefly struck by the differences which separate them. They looked across the chasm which lay between them, and wondered how the same things could seem so different to them. The elder woman had seen her sex the wide globe over, and her niece seemed stranger to her than many wild women had done.

The time to start was come. The visitors crowded to the doorway to see them off. Hands were grasped, knapsacks strapped on, and alpenstocks caught up. The guides lifted their burdens, the procession formed, and soon a turn of the village street hid them from view.

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"great crevasse." The younger Miss Arbuthnot, with Rainer and Wainford, and the guides in attendance, were some distance ahead of the others; the second division, consisting of General Arbuthnot, his sister, and the other two guides, with the porters following close behind, being about thirty yards in their rear.

They had all crossed the crevasse without accident, and the last guide had just set his feet on solid ground, when suddenly a low warning roar shook the steadfast air.

The leading guide stopped and glanced upwards, and a cry of horror escaped him.

"Nous sommes perdus!" he exclaimed, hoarsely.

Rainer, Wainford, and Miss Arbuthnot, who were some yards ahead, heard the cry and looked upwards, and as they did so they stopped short, petrified with horror.

For the great white mountain above seemed to open, and out of its bosom a vast mass of surging frothing snow boiled over and rushed down the slope towards them with the swiftness of a swallow's flight, and with a noise that grew momentarily into louder thunder.

"Run!" Rainer was heard to shout above the tumult as the white cataract neared them. But it was too late-already it was upon them. Suddenly the world seemed to turn upside down, and to overwhelm them in a white bewilderment.

For one awful moment Rainer's heart stood still; then he found himself standing covered with snow-foam, but unhurt. The great white death had passed him by, merely flicking him with the tip of its pinion as it went.

As he gazed agonisedly around he saw something struggling to

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Rainer did not reply directly. He laid his hand on Wainford's arm. "Listen," he said, and filling his lungs he shouted-a long strong shout that echoed far above them, and was passed like a watchword from peak to peak till it died away in the distance. After a minute he repeated his cry even louder than before, putting his hands to his mouth to guide his voice, as if he were shouting against a north-west hurricane. A third time he called out to those who a moment before had stood by his side, but who could now hear no voice that fell short of Paradise.

"It's no use," he said. "We shall see them no more in this world." He heaved a deep sigh. "Let us carry her up to the hut. It's not more than three hundred yards farther; I know it well."

Without another word they raised her, and bore her silently along. On reaching the empty hut they carried her in and laid her on the floor. In a few moments she opened her eyes.

"Where am I?" she asked, looking around in a dazed way.

"In the hut," said Rainer, who was supporting her head on one of his knees. "You must not speak yet.

You will be better soon."

He took out his flask, and pouring a little brandy into the cup, coaxed her to swallow it. She soon revived.

"I have had such a terrible dream," she said. "But was it a dream?" she added quickly, as the reality of her position broke upon her. "Where is my aunt-and the others?" she next asked.

Rainer hesitated. "They have not come up yet. We hurried on with you." "Tell me what has happened," she said. "I seem to be in a sort of daze."

"Oh!" replied Rainer, carelessly, "a quantity of snow came down right between us and them and cut them off from us. They wouldn't be able to cross it any more than we could, so I expect they've gone back."

The explanation seemed to appease her for the moment, for she closed her eyes and relapsed into silence. But she was evidently not satisfied.

"Do you think they are all right?" she asked next.

Rainer's face stood by him. "No doubt," he said, confidently.

"But why couldn't they climb over some of the guides at least?"

He shook his head. "The snow was too deep and soft for that."

"I wish I knew they were safe," she remarked.

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She thought a moment. "Wouldn't there still be time for one of you to get down with daylight?"

"It would be useless to try. The snow would be far too soft for any one to climb over yet. By to-morrow morning it will probably give us a footing."

"How early can we start?" she asked.

"As soon as you are well enough to go."

"Oh! I shall soon be all right again. When is daylight?" "About six."

"I shall be ready then."
"No doubt."

She looked inquiringly at him, but said nothing. After this she lay quiet for a while.

By-and-by Rainer remembered the knapsack. He had taken it from one of the porters who had had a nasty fall, and thus luckily happened to be carrying it at the time of the accident. He unstrapped it and turned out its contents on the floor.

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tained half-a-dozen Swiss breakfast rolls with slices of sausage, a small quantity of firewood, a couple of candles, and a box of matches. The others looked on with glistening eyes. All were precious, but they felt the firewood to be worth its weight in diamonds. Food they could do without for a time, but heat was life. But they did not light the tiny stove yet a while. The fuel must be husbanded till nature cried out for warmth. But each of the men had his flask, and the liquid fire would do its part and help to hold weak nature up.

In spite of her protests Rainer and Wainford took off their heavy

overcoats in turn and laid them over Miss Arbuthnot, keeping themselves warm meanwhile by dancing vigorously on the floor of the hut. They danced with the gravity of Indian braves, and she looked on with equal stolidity. The situation was grotesque, but no one smiled.

The evening passed slowly away. Seated on the floor, they talked at intervals. They wondered if the others were all safe; wondered if they had reached the village yet; wondered if a search-party would be sent out for them. The two men discussed the matter seriously with her, as if they did not know that their friends were lying under fifty feet of snow. Every hour or so Rainer went outside to reconnoitre, and every time Wainford thought his expression grew less and less cheerful.


About ten o'clock they lit the little stove and ate their scanty allowance of food, which yet was too abundant. Each seemed satisfied with a few mouthfuls. men waited upon Miss Arbuthnot and encouraged her to eat, but she soon declared herself satisfied, and would not be prevailed upon to take more. Then the men ate a roll carelessly as if merely for the sake of company, each looking defiantly at the other as if daring him to say he wanted more, and they lingered over the morsel as if they could hardly overtake the tiny quantity that fell to their share. Then each swallowed a mouthful of brandy - Miss Arbuthnot after some persuasion and the meal was


That night they slept but little. Sleep was indeed hardly possible. Hunger and cold and their own thoughts kept them awake. Lightfooted ghosts came out in the dreary watches, and walked about

in the corridors of their brains. At intervals they dozed, but ever and anon they awoke and talked together, for their thoughts seemed heavy company. From time to time Rainer fed the little stove. They watched the tiny fagots disappear with hungry eyes, for they felt as if they were burning their very lives away with them.

Next morning they were astir with daylight, chilled and hungry, but cheered—two of them at least

by the thought of release, as they made their scanty meal.

The morning broke calm and clear, and as the sun soared over the eastern peaks, making them glorious with rose-pink and amethyst, Wainford rose and went out into the fresh crisp air. He advanced to the edge of the abyss and looked down upon the world of ice beneath. Below in the valley he could see the brown village nestling on the slope, the huge hotel forming a conspicuous object in the centre. The place was already astir, and he could see tiny dark specks, which he knew to be human beings, creeping about like insects among the houses. In a minute or two Rainer came out.

"Look here, Wainford," he said, abruptly, "Miss Arbuthnot is not fit to think of attempting the descent yet. She recognises that fact herself. You had better make your way down and give the alarm. They mayn't know anything yet about our position in the village.

Wainford hesitated. "Will she be strong enough to be taken down to-day, do you suppose?"

"She might if four good guides were sent · not otherwise certainly."

"Then I don't see why I should go. Your life is as valuable as mine, I suppose."

"No, it's not. You have a "you've won," and he drew a long wife and children waiting for you breath. somewhere. It is your duty to go."

"You have two sisters dependent on you, have you not?" "They are provided for, and I will not miss me as your wife will you. Go at once before it is too late. A few hours hence it may not be possible."

Still Wainford did not seem to be convinced, but stood stolidly by. Rainer studied him for a moment. "Come inside," he said, suddenly.

"Miss Arbuthnot," he said, when they were within, "one of us must go down to the village for assistance. Will you decide for us which is to go?"


She looked from one to the other, holding in her hand, it might be, the cast of life and death. Wainford's face was impassive as he looked away. Rainer looked at her, and she saw that his eyes were pleading with her. Was he asking to go or to stay, she wondered.

"I cannot decide," she said; "you must settle it for yourselves." Then she changed her mind.

"No, listen!" she said, quickly. "An idea has struck me. You must toss up, and the one who wins will go. That is leaving it to God. Come, toss at once.' Rainer looked across at Wainford.

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"There is good sense in what Miss Arbuthnot says. Will you toss?"

The other nodded and took a coin from his pocket. "Call," he said, spinning it in the air.

"Tails!" cried Rainer as the coin fell, and they both stooped to


"It is tails," cried Wainford;

"Go at once," said the girl, looking wistfully towards him. "The sooner you go the better for us."

Rainer thrust his hands into his pockets.

"I'm not going," he said, dog


"What!" she exclaimed in amazement, "not going? Why did you toss then?"

"Oh! to give Wainford a chance of winning."

"Will you go then, Mr Wainford?" she asked, turning to him. He shook his head.

"I've had my chance. If I had won I don't know that I should have gone either, but as it is I stay here."

"Look here!" said Rainer, turning to him, "it is your duty to go."

He took him by the arm. "Come," he said, "you must." Wainford did not longer resist. "If I must, I must," he said.

He shook hands with Miss Arbuthnot and spoke a few words of encouragement to her, and then the two men set off together, Rainer intending to see him as far as the crevasse.

Five minutes' walking brought them to the scene of the disaster. The avalanche was now frozen crisp and firm, and by their mutual aid they climbed its snowy bulk. As they reached the top and looked over, Rainer uttered an exclamation of dismay.

"Good God! the crevasse has fallen in!"

It was too true. Part of the avalanche had fallen across the chasm, and the crust of frozen snow had given way beneath its weight. Their bridge was gone. In its place was a yawning gulf that cut them off from help. They

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