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Blackgang Chine 1844

REF NR: 1659

When dinner was over, Mrs. Merton, having seen her husband comfortably placed on the sofa, inquired about the way to the chine and set out, accompanied by her daughter. Upon crossing a small wooden bridge, they arrived at a fanciful-looking cottage, filled with toys, where they looked to hire a guide. While waiting for this person, Mrs. Merton bought her daughter Agnes a curiously shaped bottle filled with sand from Alum Bay. It was arranged so as to represent the Needles washed by the sea, some hideous trees and some other trifles. Agnes amused herself meanwhile with a large kittiwake gull, which seemed quite tame.


The guide arrived after some time and they proceeded down the steep descent which leads to the chine. The gull hopped next to them, as though it was showing the way. The descent was very steep and slippery and the night closed in more rapidly than Mrs. Merton expected. In fact, she began to get alarmed.


"Do you not think it is getting dark very soon to night!” she said to the guide.

“Why, yes, it is,” returned the man; “but I think we shall have a storm.”

“A storm!” cried Mrs. Merton, looking at Agnes with terror. 

“Oh! You will have plenty of time to see the chine, and get miss back before it begins.” 


They continued to descend until they reached the bridge, where they paused for a few moments to look around them; a gloomier scene can scarcely be conceived. They were surrounded by precipitous cliffs, which rose high on every side and looked as black as night. Not a single sprig, not a blade of grass, not a tuft of moss, was to be seen. All was dark, save a few bands of a dusky yellow colour, which gleamed on the dark sides of the rocks. But if the scene was dreary when they looked above, it was even worse when they cast their eyes below. There they saw a bottomless abyss that seemed to yawn to receive them. Mrs. Merton shuddered.


“I think we had better return,” said she; “for it is getting late.”

“Oh, mamma,” cried Agnes, “don’t let us go back without seeing the chine.” 

“We are more than half-way down,” said the man; “and the rest of the road is not half so bad as it looks.” 


Mrs. Merton allowed herself to be persuaded. She seldom could refuse anything her darling daughter wished, unless she thought it would be injurious to her. She recollected that she had never heard of any accident occurring from visiting the chine. Shipwrecks were, indeed, common on the coast; but that was another thing. She, therefore, gave her consent to go on and they continued their descent. The path now became very steep and they advanced more rapidly - soon reaching the point from which the best view of the chine is obtained. Agnes was, however, excessively disappointed when she saw the small size of the water-fall. 


“What!” cried she; "is that all?”

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