23 FEBRUARY 1895, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR OP TEE " SPECTATOR:1 SIR,—I wanted to visit a shepherd who was very ill, and had expressed a special desire to see me, and I was determined that the snow should not keep me. The cottage was three miles across the moor from my own home ; but I was very anxious, in any case, to see the wild stretch of moorland in snow ; and as it was not falling heavily, I started between 12 and 1 o'clock on my errand. For about a mile there was a distinct footpath, on which the snow was not more than two inches deep, and as long as this lasted I got along without much difficulty. There was a wondrous fascination about the scene—near at hand, the foremost trees in a scraggy plantation of firs stood out gauntly distinct against the mysterious whity grey of the distance ; far away Cairn smuir of Carsphairn, like a miniature Mont Blanc, was indistinctly seen against the horizon ; a stone's-throw away lay Jordieland Loch, temptingly white and soft like a bed of down, and with a would-be innocent look about it, as if it would fain hide the fact of its treacherous ice and water underneath ; while around and over all, the lightly falling snow held one spellbound After I had gone about two miles it began to drift and swirl, every now and again coming in blinding gusts that almost took my breath away. I could scarcely make any headway, for the snow was over my ankles, and after struggling for some time I judged it best to turn homewards. A lull now came in the storm, and striking bravely out I congratulated myself that I should soon be under shelter ; but again a whirl of that white, blinding dust, and I could not see where I was going. Heavier and heavier, thicker and ever thicker it became, and with every fresh blast an overwhelming sense of my own utter powerlessness and loneliness. On and on I struggled, the storm no way abating. It might as well have been pitch-dark for all I could see, with the eddying, stifling cruel snow crushing, choking, strangling me like a huge boa-constrictor. I was now becoming intensely wearied, all the human nature in Inc longing, with an unutterable longing, to lie down and sleep, ever and anon visions of a warm white bed rising up to torture me. "The moors in snow," I bitterly thought; better far could I have viewed them from my own windows, for nothing could I see here. I shouted and hallooed as best I could ; but the wind mocked me and seemed like so many demons dancing with delight at my misery. At last I came against some- thing, and nearly fell; the snow clearing for an instant, I found I had stumbled on the root of a tree which had been torn up during the storm of some weeks ago. The snow, I could see, had drifted round one end of the root, which was bent, and hung over like an arch, leaving the other, which was propped against a piece of rock several feet high. Here, I bethought me, I must shelter till the storm subsided; for I was by this time so worn out, that I could not move another step. So in I crept beneath the overhanging root. Fortunately, I had a half-pint bottle of port wine with me, which I had intended for the shepherd, and it was with the utmost thankfulness that I put it to my lips. The liquid sent a pleasant glow through my benumbed frame, and I leant back with an indescribable sensation of perfect bliss and delicious drowsiness, which presently ended in sleep. I must have slept for some hours, for when I awoke feeling stiff and cold, and peeped out, the snow had ceased, it was night, and the stars were shining with all their might as if they were rejoicing in the weird beauty of it all, while throwing an unearthly light on the cold white ground. For some moments I gazed spell- bound, and then with a shiver withdrew to my hole as gladly as ever frightened rabbit to his burrow. Too cold to sleep, there was nothing for it but to wait all through the weary hours till daylight would come. Oh ! the weary, weary vigil ; the awful lonely silence only made more apparent by the occasional fall of a stone or piece of earth from the rootlets of the tree. At last the first faint streaks of dawn stole across the sky, and I knew that my imprisonment was nearly ended. As son as it was light enough, I crawled out, cramped and aching, and began my homeward way. It took me hours ; but at last I came in sight of the familiar walls, and much surprised my people by my travel stained appear- ance, for they imagined I was safe at the shepherd's, and would wait there until they could send for me.—I am, Sir,

R. J. B.