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Lost In The Catacombs

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A correspondent of the Cleveland ader visited the catacombs of Paris reently, feil btihiud his companions, was ost, and spent twenty hours in the readtul place. He give the following escription of his experience : The stairy on which we were descending was indiug and dauip, and at each step the r grew coldur and tho gloom more ituleuetrable ; and the liglits flared and amed upward, as if striving to escape rom the awful darkness that their rays o poorly dispelltd. Once at the bottom, shudder shook my frame as darkness osed in a bout us, aud the damp wind ushing past tugged at my garments as , teariug for my welfare, it were peruading me to return to the life and sunïine ot the upper world. Our coursa lay o the right, for we were to ïnake our ex; by a btair way leading out on the Kut) 'areau. Our party strung out behind ie guide, and with their lights borne loft, looked like a glittering monster leeping ainong the caverus and under ie arches. At first there was a torced gayety, but the laughter rung out upon the terrible silence and echoed and jumped from crevice to cavern, uutil it soundod like a wail of the dead, or the mirth of fii-nds, and the gayety that had entered with us soon died out, and we were as sombre as the place and as sober as those who folio w the dead in silence. An oceasional pause ensued to affurd opportun;y to inspect the inscriptions on the walis or to examine the surroundings. Entering a narrow passage, some rude racings on the rock attracted my attenou, and I lingered to examine them. ; seeuicd to me but a moment that I arried, and when I sought the party ith an eager search of the gloom, their ights had disappeared. I was not armed, for I knew they could not be far 1. I hastened in the direction in which saw them last, following with hasty ep, but I fttiled to discover them. Now began to occur to me that I was lost, nd I cried with lusty voice and long, ut it back to me in a thousand airs nd echoes, as if I had been answernd by ie skulls that were so numerous not far Ef. My apprehension gave doublé vigor 10 my hmbs, and I daslied onward with a despairing energy, not knowing whither 1 ran, but running because I found comfort in action. At every turn I peered with hungry eyes into the pitchy darkness of the passages, vainly striving to disceru the presence ot some living soul beside niyself, but I saw nothing. Again I cried out until it seemed my very lungs must burst with tho effort, and again and again, and all the answer that name was the shrieking of a million echoes tbat were full of horror and sepulchral groaniugs. The light burned low and added not a little to my anxiety, as it must soon burn out aud leave me in utter darkness. Again I hurried on, and after twisting every way I entered a wider passage than I had yet passed througu, wheu horror of horrors ! I stood face to face with grinning skulls, whose empty sockets gazed at me from rows of bones that ranged above my head. Never had I seen such a terrible spectacle. AU the errors I had eiperienced in my life combined could not equal the agony of that one moment. Alone with three millions of dead ! The awful reality of my situation canie upon me with a rush, bearing with it the agonizing possibüities of death and the suffering that would ensue in such a place. My heart stood still, the cold sweat oozed from my pores in great drops, the clammy wind tanned me in sullen gusts, as if the black wing of death had brushed my brow. The silence was oppressive, the darkness a weight. But in a moment I recovered myself and hurried forward, while the büues and skuüs seenied to clinch and nock at me as I passed, as if they envied me the light I had. On, on I went, but there seemed no end, and suddenly the ïght flared up, trein oled, and flashed out, and darknesa settled over me like a pall. [ stood a while in amazement, lost in a dull stupor. I was bewildered and could hoarcely think. The sudden transition trom life, with all its possibilities and hopes, to another región that was not of life or death, but led down to the latter with no opening to the former, was so quick and unlooked-for, that the change rubbed ine of my thought and feeling, and I groped in mental darkness. By degrees my ruirid struggled into its normal condition, and I began to weigh the chances of life and death, and oalculate them as cojlly as the interest on an in vestment. For a while I wandered in th darknes until tired nature could no more, anc shrank away into a passtge, leadingfrom the Horrible array of bones, and san! down beside a pillar to a troubled res and dreains. My life was traced step b; step, along the line of years that' seemec so long in living and so short when look ed at ; now a day all sunshine, anothe all cloud ; now wandeling t.hrough fio we meads, now struggling up a rugged pat until the present was rearhed and seemed to stand upon an eminence and, bidding adieu to all behind, I struck out on a narrow foot-bridge that led over a uufathomable chasm and whose farther end was lost in the darkness. When I walked far out, the bridge melted away, and I feit myself falling, falliug like a star through a spaoe that had no limit, and around me on every side were a thousand gibbering, laughing fiends, who were wild with glee over my presence. At length I alighted gehtly on a solid surface, and was instantly surrounded by raillion8 of skeletons who danced and grimaced about me in a palé, phosphorescent light that made the darkness beyond them blacker. The air was uproarious with the rattling of bones, but 1 rushed away amidst the ghastly raob, and hurried forward toward a luminous light in the distanco. As I approached it, it grew brighter, and my ghostly attendants feil behind. At length I stood before a gigantio gate whose top was lost in the gloom above, and was as immovable as a inountain. Before it stood two beings unlike any that I had ever seen. One was ciad in shining garments, and a bright star sparkled on lts forehead, and its countenance was beaming with hope, peace, and joy. The other was ciad in a robe of the deepest black, upon the front of which was worked a skull and bones. lts face was sad and cold, and its eyes were dull and lifeless. They conversed together long and earnestly, and I was able to glean f rotn their conversation that I was in the realms of Death, and liife had come claim me, and Death was loth to give me up. At length Life unrolled a long chart, and pointed to Death that I had not yet lived my destiny and must be permitted to go forth and complete it. Death ceased his objections, and the great gate swung open with a terrible squeaking of its rusty hinges, and O what a glorious view opened before me. Then the busy world was mapped out in plains, mountans, rivers, cities, and people engaged in evory occupation, and Life pointed the way and I rushed into existence once more. At last I awoke full of hope, but it was brief, for I soon comprehended my situation, and gloom and melancholy settled over me. I tried to accept the dream as a good omen, and cheer myself with the consolation that its realization was not far off. I could hear the carriages rattling in the streets overhead, and I knew another day had dawned on earth. Ab neár as I could make out by running my fingers over the face of my watch ifc was about 9 o'clock, and I had spent twenty hours in the catacombs. I began to feel the pangs of thirst and hunger and settled down into a state of dejection. Hark ! I hear voices ! No, I must have boen mistaken. But listen, there comes a faint sound floating on the heavy air, as if it had been wafted to my ears from miles away. The blood ran wild to my ïeart. In an instant hope was alive and trong ! I called out with a shout that made the caverns tremble. The echoes ome and go, growing fainter and fainter, nd then die out. What an agony of sus jense was crowded into one brief second, is I strained every muscle and moveinent nto silenoe to oatch the response ! It ame, and my heart leaped for joy. In nother moment came the glimmer of ghts, and another and I was safe among ie living. Then came explanations as we hurried toward the entrance, for I ad had my fill of the Paris catacombs. üy fiiends had not missed me until af ter liey had left the catacombs, but feit no pprehension then, as it had often been my custom in moments of caprice to leave them without a word of notice, and they gave themselves no uneasiness. But, as the night wore away, and 1 did not appear at the hotel, the suspicion began to grow upon them that I had gone astray in the catacombs. At early dawn bey revealed their f ears to the officials, ecured passes and guides, and set out in earch of me, with what reeults you cnow. Iu a few moments I was once more breathing the pure, sweet, delicious ir of life. It was Monday. To the ight towered the majestic dome of the 'antheon, and thither I was tempted to hasten and sing : " Praise God, from whoni all blessings flow," until thearohes and vaults rang with the joy of my gratitude. But I didn't; I went and got something to eat


Old News
Michigan Argus