opera, than of the genuine mountaineer; so at least thought Mr. Chainmail; but
she passed so rapidly, and took him so much by surprise, that he had little
opportunity for accurate observation. He saw her land, at the farther extremity,
and disappear among the rocks: he rose from his seat, returned to the mouth of
the pass, stepped from stone to stone across the stream, and attempted to pass
round by the other side of the lake; but there again the abruptly sinking precipice
closed his way.
Day after day he haunted the spot, but never saw again either the damsel or the
coracle. At length, marvelling at himself for being so solicitous about the
apparition of a peasant girl in a coracle, who could not, by any possibility, be
anything to him, he resumed his explorations in another direction.
One day he wandered to the ruined castle, on the sea-shore, which was not very
distant from his inn; and sitting on the rock, near the base of the ruin, was calling
up the forms of past ages on the wall of an ivied tower, when on its summit
appeared a female figure, whom he recognised in an instant for his nymph of the
coracle. The folds of the blue gown pressed by the sea-breeze against one of the
most symmetrical of figures, the black feather of the black hat, and the ringleted
hair beneath it fluttering in the wind; the apparent peril of her position, on the
edge of the mouldering wall, from whose immediate base the rock went down
perpendicularly to the sea, presented a singularly interesting combination to the
eye of the young antiquary.
Mr. Chainmail had to pass half round the castle, on the land side, before he could
reach the entrance: he coasted the dry and bramble-grown moat, crossed the
unguarded bridge, passed the unportcullised arch of the gateway, entered the
castle court, ascertained the tower, ascended the broken stairs, and stood on the
ivied wall. But the nymph of the place was gone. He searched the ruins within
and without, but he found not what he sought: he haunted the castle day after
day, as he had done the lake, but the damsel appeared no more.