His tale had occupied the whole day; and the sun was upon the
verge of the horizon when he departed. I knew that I ought to
hasten my descent towards the valley, as I should soon be
encompassed in darkness; but my heart was heavy, and my steps
slow. The labour of winding among the little paths of the
mountains, and fixing my feet firmly as I advanced, perplexed
me, occupied as I was by the emotions which the occurrences of
the day had produced. Night was far advanced, when I came to the
half-way resting-place, and seated myself beside the fountain.
The stars shone at intervals, as the clouds passed from over
them; the dark pines rose before me, and every here and there a
broken tree lay on the ground: it was a scene of wonderful
solemnity, and stirred strange thoughts within me. I wept
bitterly; and, clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, "Oh!
stars, and clouds, and winds, ye are all about to mock me: if ye
really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as
nought; but if not, depart, depart and leave me in darkness."
These were wild and miserable thoughts; but I cannot describe to
you how the eternal twinkling of the stars weighed upon me, and
how I listened to every blast of wind, as if it were a dull ugly
siroc on its way to consume me.
Morning dawned before I arrived at the village of Chamounix;
but my presence, so haggard and strange, hardly calmed the fears
of my family, who had waited the whole night in anxious
expectation of my return.