Friday, July 8.—Chamouni to Martigny, by Tête Noir. Mules en avant. We set off in a calèche. After a two hours' ride we came to "those mules." On, to the pass of Tête Noir, by paths the most awful. As my mule trod within six inches of the verge, I looked down into an abyss, so deep that tallest pines looked like twigs; yet, on the opposite side of the pass, I looked up the steep precipice to an equal height, where giant trees seemed white fluttering fringe. A dizzy sight. We swept round an angle, entered a dark tunnel blasted out through the solid rock, emerged, and saw before us, on our right, the far-famed Tête Noir, a black ledge, on whose face, so high is the opposite cliff, the sun never shines. A few steps brought us to a hotel. William and I rolled down some avalanches, by way of getting an appetite, while dinner was preparing.

[Illustration: of the rearing head and neck of a bridled mule.]

After dinner we commenced descending towards Martigny, alternately riding and walking. Here, while I was on foot, my mule took it into his head to run away. I was never more surprised in my life than to see that staid, solemn, meditative, melancholy beast suddenly perk up both his long ears, thus, and hop about over the steep paths like a goat. Not more surprised should I be to see some venerable D. D. of Princeton leading off a dance in the Jardin Mabille. We chased him here, and chased him there. We headed him, and he headed us. We said, "Now I have you," and he said, "No, you don't!" until the affair began to grow comically serious. "Il se moque de vous!" said the guide. But, at that moment, I sprang and caught him by the bridle, when, presto! down went his ears, shut went the eyes, and over the entire gay brute spread a visible veil of stolidity. And down he plodded, slunging, shambling, pivotting round zigzag corners, as before, in a style which any one that ever navigated such a craft down hill knows without further telling. After that, I was sure that the old fellow kept up a "terrible thinking," in spite of his stupid looks, and knew a vast deal more than he chose to tell.

[Illustration: of a mule's head lowered, with ears flattened.]

At length we opened on the Rhone valley; and at seven we reached Hotel de la Tour, at Martigny. Here H. and S. managed to get up two flights of stone stairs, and sank speechless and motionless upon their beds. I must say they have exhibited spirit to-day, or, as Mr. C. used to say, "pluck." After settling with our guides,—fine fellows, whom we hated to lose,—I ordered supper, and sought new guides for our route to the convent. Our only difficulty in reaching there, they say, is the snow. The guides were uncertain whether mules could get through so early in the season. Only to think! To-day, riding broilingly through hay-fields—to-morrow, stuck in snow drifts!

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