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The Crystal Hunters A Boy's Adventures in the Higher Alps   By: (1831-1909)

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The Crystal Hunters, by George Manville Fenn.

A tense tale, such as we expect of George Manville Fenn. A group of English people are in the Swiss Alps. But it is not just the beauties of the scenery they are after, but crystals which may sometimes be found in caves near the top of the glaciers. They manage to find a guide who promises to be discreet about what they do. But someone else is on the mountain, and he is just as interested in what they are up to, and what they find, as they are themselves.

Of course, as we expect in a Manville Fenn novel, there are tense moments when people fall down crevasses, when there are avalanches and ice falls, when icy rocks break off and come tumbling towards them. But what about the unknown person who is making off with their hard won specimens?

There is a surprise ending. It is a good readable book, well worth the effort of making an audio book and listening to it.




"Steady there! Stop! Hold hard!"

"What's the matter, Mr Dale?"

"Matter, Saxe, my boy? Well, this. I undertook to take you back to your father and mother some day, sound in wind and limb; but if you begin like that, the trip's over, and we shall have to start back for England in less than a week at least, I shall, with my luggage increased by a case containing broken boy."

There was a loud burst of hearty laughter from the manly looking lad addressed, as he stood, with his hands clinging and his head twisted round, to look back: for he had spread eagled himself against a nearly perpendicular scarp of rock which he had begun to climb, so as to reach a patch of wild rhododendrons.

There was another personage present, in the shape of a sturdy, muscular looking man, whose swarthy face was sheltered by a wide brimmed soft felt hat, very much turned up at the sides, and in whose broad band was stuck a tuft of the pale grey, starry looking, downy plant known as the Edelweiss. His jacket was of dark, exceedingly threadbare velvet; breeches of the same; and he wore gaiters and heavily nailed lace up boots; his whole aspect having evoked the remarks, when he presented himself at the door of the chalet:

"I say, Mr Dale, look here! Where is his organ and his monkey? This chap has been asking for you for Herr Richard Dale, of London."

"Yes, I sent for him. It is the man I am anxious to engage for our guide."

For Melchior Staffeln certainly did look a good deal like one of the "musicians" who infest London streets with "kists o' whustles," as the Scottish gentleman dubbed them or much noisier but less penetrating instruments on wheels.

He was now standing wearing a kind of baldric across his chest, in the shape of a coil of new soft rope, from which he rarely parted, whatever the journey he was about to make, and leaning on what, at first sight, seemed to be a stout walking stick with a crutch handle, but a second glance revealed as an ice axe, with, a strong spike at one end, and a head of sharp edged and finely pointed steel, which Saxe said made it look like a young pick axe.

This individual had wrinkled his face up so much that his eyes were nearly closed, and his shoulders were shaking as he leaned upon the ice axe, and indulged in a long, hearty, nearly silent laugh.

"Ah! it's no laughing matter, Melchior," said the broad shouldered, bluff, sturdy looking Englishman. "I don't want to begin with an accident."

"No, no," said the guide, whose English seemed to grow clearer as they became more intimate. "No accidents. It is the Swiss mountain air getting into his young blood. In another week he will bound along the matt, or dash over the green alp like a goat, and in a fortnight be ready to climb a spitz like a chamois... Continue reading book >>

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