The space below was lighted up by continuous flashes and bursts of flame, throwing a flood of light among the thick forest of trees and gardens, while shells would burst high over the city, illuminating the spires and domes, and bringing into prominence every object around.
What we had supposed to be peaks were in reality a thousand glittering spires. Nothing could be more beautiful than the architecture of this ice-palace. The walls are curiously constructed of massive blocks of ice which terminate in cliff-like towers. The entrance to the palace is at the end of an arched recess, and it is guarded night and day by twelve soldierly-looking white Bears.
We shall tell the tale just as Brother Onufrio would tell it, beginning with the day in the first year of his residence in Hongkong when the crosses were placed on the spires of the dome of the cathedral. A few days before the Chinese New Year in 1858 the work on the cathedral had progressed so far that the great golden crosses could be erected.
But for me, I cannot help it, when I look at those windows in the cathedral, or at those beautiful twisted little spires that are all over our Hôtel de Ville, I want to know who the men were that made them, what they did and thought, how they looked and spoke, how they learned to shape stone into leaves and grasses like that, how they could imagine all those angel faces on the glass.
All the domes were of copper, but the spires on their summits were gold. Little steps of onyx ran all this way and that. With cobbled agates were its streets a glory. Through small square panes of rose-quartz the citizens looked from their houses. To them as they looked abroad the World far-off seemed happy.
He looked back as he spoke at the spires and sunbaked roofs, the white marble facade of San Miniato, and the dark cypresses standing clear against the pure warm sky of early spring. 'I am weary of your great men and all your pomp and splendour. Something tells me we shall have a golden time among the good folk of Prato.
On my right the line of snow peaks showed like a rosy saw against the clear blue morning sky. Raspberries and cyclamens were peeping through the snow around me. As I looked down the abysses, I could see far below, through the thin veils of blue mist that wandered in the glens, the silver spires of giant deodars, and huge rhododendrons glowing like trees of flame.
The lovely creation before me was white as the Alpine snows, and shot up in a glorious cluster of towers, spires, and pinnacles, which flashed back the splendours of the mid-day sun. It looked as if it had sprung from under the chisel but yesterday. Indeed, one could hardly believe that human hands had fashioned so fair a structure.
Newton's field glass they could draw far away objects very near to their field of vision. It was interesting to see the little towns, each with its two or three church spires, its one or two large buildings and its collection of dwellings; to see eight towns in six different counties from the same spot was an exciting experience for these boys.
Such a sudden transition from fear to joy occasioned a violent agitation both in his mind and body; and it was a full quarter of an hour, before he recovered the right use of his organs, By this time the weather cleared up, the wind began to blow again from the right corner, and the spires of Calais appeared at the distance of five leagues; so that the countenances of all on board were lighted up with joyous expectation and Peregrine, venturing to go down into the cabin, comforted his governor with an account of the happy turn of their affairs.