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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

Natural Bridge

Title:     Natural Bridge
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

Though several natural bridges are known in this country, there is but one that is famous the world over, and that is the one which spans Clear Creek, Virginia--the remnant of a cave-roof, all the rest of the cavern having collapsed. It is two hundred and fifteen feet above the water, and is a solid mass of rock forty feet thick, one hundred feet wide, and ninety feet in span. Thomas Jefferson owned it; George Washington scaled its side and carved his name on the rock a foot higher than any one else. Here, too, came the youth who wanted to cut his name above Washington's, and who found, to his horror, when half-way up, that he must keep on, for he had left no resting-places for his feet at safe and reachable distances--who, therefore, climbed on and on, cutting handhold and foothold in the limestone until he reached the top, in a fainting state, his knife-blade worn to a stump. Here, too, in another tunnel of the cavern, flows Lost River, that all must return to, at some time, if they drink of it. Here, beneath the arch, is the dark stain, so like a flying eagle that the French officer who saw it during the Revolution augured from it a success for the united arms of the nations that used the eagle as their symbol.

The Mohegans knew this wonder of natural masonry, for to this point they were pursued by a hostile tribe, and on reaching the gulf found themselves on the edge of a precipice that was too steep at that point to descend. Behind them was the foe; before them, the chasm. At the suggestion of one of their medicine-men they joined in a prayer to the Great Spirit for deliverance, and when again they looked about them, there stood the bridge. Their women were hurried over; then, like so many Horatii, they formed across this dizzy highway and gave battle. Encouraged by the knowledge that they had a safe retreat in case of being overmastered, they fought with such heart that the enemy was defeated, and the grateful Mohegans named the place the Bridge of God.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Natural Bridge