Story teller (1)/The Conflict between Grant and M'Pherson, at Hell Bridge, a Dangerous Pass in the Highlands of Scotland
There is a narrow pass between the mountains in the neighbourhood of Bendearg, in the Highlands of Scotland, which, at a little distance, has the appearance of an immense artificial bridge thrown over a tremendous chasm; but on nearer approach, is seen to be a wall of nature's own masonry, formed of vast and rugged bodies of solid rook, piled on each other, as if in the giant's sport of architecture. Its sides are in some places covered with trees of a considerable size; and the passenger who has a head steady enough to look down, may see the eyrie of birds of prey beneath his feet. The path across is so narrow, flat it cannot admit of two persons passing; and, indeed, none þut natives would attempt the dangerous route, though it saves a circuit of three miles: yet it sometimes happens that two travellers meet, owing to the curve formed by the pass preventing a view across from other side; and which this is the case, one lies down, while the other crawls over his body. One day, a Highlander, walking along the pass, when he had gained the highest part of the arch, observed another coming leisurely up, and being himself one of the patrician order, called him to lie down; the person, however, disregarded the command, anu the Highlanders met on the summit. They were Cairn and Bendearg, of two families in enmity to each other. “I was first at the top,” said Bendearg, “and called out first, lie down, that I might pass over in peace.” “When the Grant prostrates himself before the M Pherson,” answered the other, “it must be with a sword through his body;” “Turn back, then,” said Bendearg, “and repass as you camo;” “Go back yourself, if you liko it,” replied Grant; “I will not be the first of my name to turn before the M'Pherson.” They then threw their bonnets over the precipice, and advanced with a slow and cautious pace closer to each other—they were both unarmed. Stretching their limbs like men preparing for a desperate struggle, they planted their feet firmly on the ground, compressed their lips, knit their brows, and fixing fierce and watchful eyes on each other, stood prepared for an onset. They both grappled at the same moment; but, being of an equal strength, were unable to shift each other's position-standing fixed on the rock, with suppressed breath, and muscles strained to the top of their bent, like statues carved out of the solid stone. At length M'Pherson, suddenly removing his right foot, so as to give him greater purchase, stooped his body, and bent his enemy down with him by main strength, till they both leaned over the precipice, looking downward into the terrible abyss. The contest was as yet doubtful, for Grant had placed his foot firmly on an elevation at the brink, and had equal command of his enemy, but at this moment M'Pherson sunk slowly any firmly on his knee, and while Grant suddenly started back, stooping to take the supposed advantage, whirled him over his head into the gulf. M'Pherson fell backwards, his body partly hanging over the rock, a fragment gavo way beneath lim, and he sunk farther, till catching with a desperate effort at the solid stone above, he regained his footing. There was a pause of death-like stillness, and the bold heart of M.Pherson felt sick and faint. At length, as if compelled unwillingly by some mysterious feeling, ho looked down over the precipice. Grant had caught with a death-like grip, by tho rugged point of a rock—his enemy was almost within his reach. His face was turned upward, and there was in it horror and despair; but he uttered no word or cry. Tho next moment he loosed his hold, and his brains were dashed out before the eyes of his hereditary foe; the mangled body disappeared among the trees, and his last heavy and hollow sound arose from the bottom. M'Pherson returned home an altered man. He purchased a commission in the army, and fell bravely in the wars of the Peninsula. The Gaelic name of the place where this tragedy was acted signifies Hell Bridge.
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