Away In The Southwest,
Lifting Themselves Up In A Gleam Of The Western Sky, The Great Smoky
Mountains Loomed Like A Frowning Continental Fortress, Sullen And
With Clingman and Gibbs and Holdback peaks near at hand and
apparently of equal height, Mitchell seemed only a part and not
separate from the mighty congregation of giants.
In the center of the stony plot on the summit lie the remains of
Mitchell. To dig a grave in the rock was impracticable, but the
loose stones were scooped away to the depth of a foot or so, the body
was deposited, and the stones were replaced over it. It was the
original intention to erect a monument, but the enterprise of the
projectors of this royal entombment failed at that point. The grave
is surrounded by a low wall of loose stones, to which each visitor
adds one, and in the course of ages the cairn may grow to a good
size. The explorer lies there without name or headstone to mark his
awful resting-place. The mountain is his monument. He is alone with
its majesty. He is there in the clouds, in the tempests, where the
lightnings play, and thunders leap, amid the elemental tumult, in the
occasional great calm and silence and the pale sunlight. It is the
most majestic, the most lonesome grave on earth.
As we sat there, awed a little by this presence, the clouds were
gathering from various quarters and drifting towards us. We could
watch the process of thunder-storms and the manufacture of tempests.
I have often noticed on other high mountains how the clouds, forming
like genii released from the earth, mount into the upper air, and in
masses of torn fragments of mist hurry across the sky as to a
rendezvous of witches.
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