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MALLOCK W.
In an enchanted island
page 215

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chasm. I saw, however, on looking down, not his shattered remains, but a few rough rocks, like steps, descending some thirty inches at a time ; and then came traces of a narrow winding path. Most of man's finest heroism is merely disguised necessity. So was mine, and I am certain so was Scotty's, as we committed our destinies to the descent and fol-lowed our apathetic leader. But, after the first un-comfortable plunge, I felt as a diver might feel when he opens his eyes on the world of waves and shells and sea-weed. The world in which I found myself was just as surprising and beautiful. I was in a valley scented with myrtle and thronged with thickets of oleander, and at the bottom of it across the path a clear stream went murmuring out of the green shadow. As I was crossing it I stopped short, as if I had seen a ghost. It was not a ghost I saw, but a sudden mental vision of the world of bowery paganism seen by the eyes of Keats. I had a vision of shy nymphs and naiads ; their limbs glimmered and their eyes peered through the oleanders ; and I felt that somewhere on some neighbouring slope, a white sylvan altar was beginning to steam with in-cense. My mind's eye, it is true, saw this for a moment only, but it left the valley haunted with the air of the old mythology. We all know with what rapidity in fairy stories the wandering hero passes from one kingdom to another. Quitting this valley, I passed with the same rapidity into scenes which, for some subtle reason, 212 IN AN ENCHANTED ISLAND

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