After a short pause, to allow Rollo to get a little familiar with the scene, Mr. George began to move on. Rollo followed. Both Rollo and Mr. George would occasionally look up to see how far they were from the top. It was very difficult, however, to look up, as in doing so it was necessary to lean the head so far back that they came very near losing their balance.
After going on for about half an hour, Mr. George said that he did not see that they were any nearer the top of the hill than they were at the beginning.
"Nor I either," said Rollo; "and I think we had better go back again."
"Well," said Mr. George, "we will; but let us first stop here a few minutes to look at the Jungfrau."
The view of the Jungfrau was of course more commanding here than it was down at the inn. So Mr. George and Rollo remained some time at their resting-place gazing at the mountain and watching for avalanches. At length they returned to the inn; and an hour or two afterwards they set out on their journey to Grindelwald.
The reader will recollect that Grindelwald was the valley on the other side of the Wengern Alp from Lauterbrunnen, and that our travellers, having come up one way, were going down the other.
The distance from the inn at the Wengern Alp to Grindelwald is seven or eight miles. For a time the path ascends, for the inn is not at the summit of the pass. Until it attains the summit it leads through a region of hills and ravines, with swamps, morasses, precipices of rocks, and great patches of snow scattered here and there along the way. At one place Rollo met with an adventure which for a moment put him in considerable danger. It was at a place where the path led along on the side of the mountain, with a smooth grassy slope above and a steep descent ending in another smooth grassy slope below. At a little distance forward there was a great patch of snow, the edge of which came over the path and covered it.
A heavy mist had come up just before Rollo reached this place, and he had accordingly spread his umbrella over his head. He was riding along, holding the bridle in one hand and his umbrella in the other, so that both his hands were confined. Mr. George was walking at some distance before. The guide, too, was a little in advance, for the path was too narrow for him to walk by the side of the horse; and, as the way here was smooth and pretty level, he did not consider it necessary that he should be in very close attendance on Rollo.
Things being in this condition, the horse—when he came in sight of the snow, which lay covering the path at a little distance before him—concluded that it would be safer both for him and for his rider that he should not attempt to go through it, having learned by experience that his feet would sink sometimes to great depths in such cases. So he determined to turn round and go back. He accordingly stopped; and turning his head towards the grassy bank above the path and his heels towards the brink on the other side, as horses always do when they undertake such a manoeuvre in a narrow path, he attempted to "go about." Rollo was of course utterly unable to do any thing to control him except to pull one of the reins to bring him back into the path, and strike his heels into the horse's side as if he were spurring him. This, however, only made the matter worse. The horse backed off the brink; and both he and Rollo, falling head over heels, rolled down the steep slope together.
And not together exactly, either; for Rollo who was usually pretty alert and ready in emergencies of difficulty or danger, when he found himself rolling down the slope, though he could not stop, still contrived to wriggle and twist himself off to one side, so as to get clear of the horse and roll off himself in a different direction. They both, however, the animal and the boy, soon came to a stop. Rollo was up in an instant. The horse, too, contrived, after some scrambling, to gain his feet. All this time the guide remained in the path on the brink of the descent transfixed with astonishment and consternation.
"Henry," said Rollo, looking up to the guide, "what is the French for head over heels?"
A very decided but somewhat equivocal smile spread itself over Henry's features on hearing this question, which, however, he did not understand; and he immediately began to run down the bank to get the horse.
"Because," said Rollo, still speaking in French, "that is what in English we call going head over heels."
Henry led the horse round by a circuitous way back to the path. Rollo followed; and as soon as they reached it Rollo mounted again. Henry then took hold of the bridle of the horse and led him along till they got through the snow; after which they went on without any further difficulty.
The path led for a time along a very wild and desolate region, which seemed to be bordered on the right, at a distance of two or three miles, by a range of stupendous precipices, surmounted by peaks covered with ice and snow, which presented to the view a spectacle of the most astonishing grandeur. At one point in the path Rollo saw at a distance before him a number of buildings scattered over a green slope of land.
"Ah," said he to the guide, "we are coming to a village."
"No," said the guide. "It is a pasturage. We are too high yet for a village."
On asking for a further explanation, Rollo learned that the mountaineers were accustomed to drive their herds up the mountains in the summer to places too cold to be inhabited all the year round, and to live there with them in these little huts during the two or three months while the grass was green. The men would bring up their milking pails, their pans, their churns, their cheese presses, and their kettles for cooking, and thus live in a sort of encampment while the grass lasted, and make butter and cheese to carry down the mountain with them when they returned.
At one time Rollo saw at the door of one of the huts a man with what seemed to be a long pole in his hand. It was bent at the lower end. The man came out of a hut, and, putting the bent end of the pole to the ground, he brought the other up near to his mouth, and seemed to be waiting for the travellers to come down to him.
"What is he going to do?" asked Rollo.
"He has got what we call an Alpine horn," said the guide; "and he is going to blow it for you, to let you hear the echoes."
So, when Mr. George and Rollo reached the place, the man blew into the end of his pole, which proved to be hollow, and it produced a very loud sound, like that of a trumpet. The sounds were echoed against the face of a mountain which was opposite to the place in a very remarkable manner. Mr. George paid the man a small sum of money, and then they went on.
Not long afterwards they came to another hut, which was situated opposite to a part of the mountain range where there was a great accumulation of ice and snow, that seemed to hang suspended, as it were, as if just ready to fall. A man stood at the door of this hut with a small iron cannon, which was mounted somewhat rudely on a block of wood, in his hand.
"What is he going to do with that cannon?" asked Rollo.
"He is going to fire it," said Henry, "to start down the avalanches from the mountain."
Henry here pointed to the face of the mountain opposite to where they were standing, and showed Rollo the immense masses of ice and snow that seemed to hang suspended there, ready to fall.
It is customary to amuse travellers in Switzerland with the story that the concussion produced by the discharge of a gun or a cannon will sometimes detach these masses, and thus hasten the fall of an avalanche; and though the experiment is always tried when travellers pass these places, I never yet heard of a case in which the effect was really produced. At any rate, in this instance,—though the man loaded his cannon heavily, and rammed the charge down well, and though the report was very loud and the echoes were extremely sharp and much prolonged,—there were no avalanches started by the concussion. Rollo and Mr. George watched the vast snow banks that overhung the cliffs with great interest for several minutes; but they all remained immovable.
So Mr. George paid the man a small sum of money, and then they went on.
After going on for an hour or two longer on this vast elevation, the path began gradually to descend into the valley of Grindelwald. The village of Grindelwald at length came into view, with the hundreds of cottages and hamlets that were scattered over the more fertile and cultivated region that surrounded it. The travellers could look down, also, upon the great glaciers of Grindelwald—two mighty streams of ice, half a mile wide and hundreds of feet deep, which come flowing very slowly down from the higher mountains, and terminate in icy precipices among the fields and orchards of the valley. They determined to go and explore one of these glaciers the next day.
As they drew near to the village, the people of the scattered cottages came out continually, as they saw them coming, with various plans to get money from them. At one place two pretty little peasant girls, in the Grindelwald costume, came out with milk for them. One of the girls held the pitcher and the other a mug; and they gave Mr. George and Rollo good drinks. At another house a boy came out with filberts to sell; and at another the merchandise consisted of crystals and other shining minerals which had been collected in the mountains near.
At one time Rollo saw before him three children standing in a row by the side of the road. They seemed to have something in their hands. When he reached the place, he found that they had for sale some very cunning little Swiss cottages carved in wood. These carvings were extremely small and very pretty. Each one was put in a small box for safe transportation. In some cases the children had nothing to sell, and they simply held out their hands to beg as the travellers went by; and there were several lame persons, and idiots, and blind persons, and other objects of misery that occasionally appeared imploring charity. As, however, these unfortunates were generally satisfied with an exceedingly small donation, it did not cost much to make them all look very happy. There is a Swiss coin, of the value of a fifth part of a cent, which was generally enough to give; so that, for a New York shilling, Rollo found he could make more than sixty donations—which was certainly very cheap charity.
"In fact," said Rollo, "it is so cheap that I would rather give them the money than not."
At length the party arrived safely at Grindelwald and put up at an excellent inn, with windows looking out upon the glaciers. The next day they went to see the glaciers; and on the day following they returned to Interlachen.
[Footnote 10: Flowers dry faster and better between sheets of blotting paper than between those of common printing paper, such as is used for books; for the surface of this latter is covered with a sort of sizing used in the manufacture of it, and which prevents the moisture of the plant from entering into the paper.]
[Footnote 11: See map.]
[Footnote 12: It may seem strange that streams of ice, hundreds of feet thick and solid to the bottom, can flow; but such is the fact, as will appear more fully in the next chapter.]
[Footnote 13: See frontispiece.]
A glacier, when really understood, is one of the most astonishing and impressive spectacles which the whole face of Nature exhibits. Mr. George and Rollo explored quite a number of them in the course of their travels in Switzerland; and Rollo would have liked to have explored a great many more.
A glacier is a river of ice,—really and truly a river of ice,—sometimes two or three miles wide, and fifteen or twenty miles long, with many branches coming into it. Its bed is a steep valley, commencing far up among the mountains in a region of everlasting ice and snow, and ending in some warm and pleasant valley far below, where the warm sun beats upon the terminus of it and melts the ice away as fast as it comes down. It flows very slowly, not usually more than an inch in an hour. The warm summer sun beams upon the upper surface of it, melting it slowly away, and forming vast fissures and clefts in it, down which you can look to the bottom, if you only have courage to go near enough to the slippery edge. If you do not dare to do this, you can get a large stone and throw it in; and then, if you stand still and listen, you hear it thumping and thundering against the sides of the crevasse until it gets too deep to be any longer heard. You cannot hear it strike the bottom; for it is sometimes seven or eight hundred feet through the thickness of the glacier to the ground below.
The surface of the glacier above is not smooth and glassy like the ice of a freshly-frozen river or pond; but is white, like a field of snow. This appearance is produced in part by the snow which falls upon the glacier, and in part by the melting of the surface of the ice by the sun. From this latter cause, too, the surface of the glacier is covered, in a summer's day, with streams of water, which flow, like little brooks, in long and winding channels which they themselves have worn, until at length they reach some fissure, or crevasse, into which they fall and disappear. The waters of these brooks—many thousands in all—form a large stream, which flows along on the surface of the ground under the glacier, and comes out at last, in a wild, and roaring, and turbid torrent, from an immense archway in the ice at the lower end, where the glacier terminates among the green fields and blooming flowers of the lower valley.
The glaciers are formed from the avalanches which fall into the upper valleys in cases where the valleys are so deep and narrow and so secluded from the sun that the snows which slide into them cannot melt. In such case, the immense accumulations which gather there harden and solidify, and become ice; and, what is very astonishing, the whole mass, solid as it is, moves slowly onward down the valley, following all the turns and indentations of its bed, until finally it comes down into the warm regions of the lower valleys, where the end of it is melted away by the sun as fast as the mass behind crowds it forward. It is certainly very astonishing that a substance so solid as ice can flow in this way, along a rocky and tortuous bed, as if it were semi-fluid; and it was a long time before men would believe that such a thing could be possible. It was, however, at length proved beyond all question that this motion exists; and the rate of it in different glaciers at different periods of the day or of the year has been accurately measured.
If you go to the end of the glacier, where it comes out into the lower valley, and look up to the icy cliffs which form the termination of it, and watch there for a few minutes, you soon see masses of ice breaking off from the brink and falling down with a thundering sound to the rocks below. This is because the ice at the extremity is all the time pressed forward by the mass behind it; and, as it comes to the brink, it breaks over and falls down. This is one evidence that the glaciers move.
But there is another proof that the ice of the glaciers is continually moving onward which is still more direct and decisive. Certain philosophers, who wished to ascertain positively what the truth was, went to a glacier, and, selecting a large rock which lay upon the surface of it near the middle of the ice, they made a red mark with paint upon the rock, and two other marks on the rocks which formed the shore of the glacier. They made these three marks exactly in a line with each other, expecting that, if the glacier moved, the rock in the centre of it would be carried forward, and the three marks would be no longer in a line.
This proved to be the case. In a very short time the central rock was found to have moved forward very perceptibly. This was several years ago. This rock is still on the glacier; and the red mark on it, as well as those on the shores, still remains. All the travellers who visit the glacier look at these marks and observe how the great rock on the ice moves forward. It is now at a long distance below the place where it was when its position was first recorded.
Then, besides, you can actually hear the glaciers moving when you stand upon them. It is sometimes very difficult to get upon them; for at the sides where the ice rubs against the rocks, immense chasms and fissures are formed, and vast blocks both of rock and ice are tumbled confusedly together in such a manner as to make the way almost impracticable. When, however, you fairly get upon the ice, if you stand still a moment and listen, you hear a peculiar groaning sound in the moraines. To understand this, however, I must first explain what a moraine is. On each side of the glacier, quite near the shore, there is usually found a ridge of rocks and stones extending up and down the glacier for the whole length of it, as if an immense wall formed of blocks of granite of prodigious magnitude had been built by giants to fence the glacier in, and had afterwards been shaken down by an earthquake, so as to leave only a confused and shapeless ridge of rocks and stones. These long lines of wall-like ruins may be traced along the borders of the glacier as far as the eye can reach. They lie just on the edge of the ice, and follow all the bends and sinuosities of the shore. It is a mystery how they are formed. All that is known, or rather all that can be here explained, is, that they are composed of the rocks which cleave off from the sides of the precipices and mountains that border the glacier, and that, when they have fallen down, the gradual movement of the ice draws them out into the long, ridge-like lines in which they now appear. Some of these moraines are of colossal magnitude, being in several places a hundred feet broad and fifty or sixty feet high; and, as you cannot get upon the glacier without crossing them, they are often greatly in the traveller's way. In fact, they sometimes form a barrier which is all but impassable.
The glacier which most impressed Mr. George and Rollo with its magnitude and grandeur was one that is called the Sea of Ice. It is called by this name on account of its extent. Its lower extremity comes out into the valley of Chamouni, the beautiful and world-renowned valley, which lies near the foot of Mont Blanc. In order to reach this glacier, the young gentlemen took horses and guides at the inn at Chamouni, and ascended for about two hours by a steep, zigzag path, which led from the valley up the sides of the mountain at the place which formed the angle between the great valley of Chamouni and the side valley through which the great glacier came down. After ascending thus for six or eight miles, they came out upon a lofty promontory, from which, on one side, they could look down upon the wild and desolate bed of the glacier, and, upon the other, upon the green, and fertile, and inexpressibly beautiful vale of Chamouni, with the pretty little village in the centre of it. This place is called Montauvert. There is a small inn here, built expressly to accommodate travellers who wish to come up and go out upon the glacier.
Although the traveller, when he reaches Montauvert, can look directly down upon the glacier, he cannot descend to it there; for, opposite to the inn, the valley of ice is bordered by cliffs and precipices a thousand feet high. It is necessary to follow along the bank two or three miles among stupendous rocks and under towering precipices, until at length a place is reached where, by dint of much scrambling and a great deal of help from the guide, it is possible to descend.
Rollo was several times quite afraid in making this perilous excursion. In some places there seemed to be no path at all; and it was necessary for him to make his way by clinging to the roughnesses of the rocks on the steep, sloping side of the mountain, with an immense abyss yawning below. There was one such place where it would have been impossible for any one not accustomed to mountain climbing to have got along without the assistance of guides. When they reached this place, one guide went over first, and then reached out his hand to assist Rollo. The other scrambled down upon the rocks below, and planted his pike staff in a crevice of the rock in order to make a support for a foot. By this means, first Mr. George, and then Rollo, succeeded in getting safely over.
Both the travellers felt greatly relieved when they found themselves on the other side of this dangerous pass.
In coming back, however, Rollo had the misfortune to lose his pike staff here. The staff slipped out of his hand as he was clinging to the rocks; and, after sliding down five or six hundred feet to the brink of the precipice, it shot over and fell a thousand feet to the glacier below, where it entered some awful chasm, or abyss, and disappeared forever.
Mr. George and Rollo had a pretty hard time in scrambling over the moraine when they came to the place where they were to get upon the glacier. When they were fairly upon the glacier, however, they could walk along without any difficulty. It was like walking on wet snow in a warm day in spring. Little brooks were running in every direction, the bright waters sparkling in the sun. The crevasses attracted the attention of the travellers very strongly. They were immense fissures four or five feet wide, and extending downward perpendicularly to an unfathomable depth. Rollo and Mr. George amused themselves with throwing stones down. There were plenty of stones to be found on the glacier. In fact, rocks and stones of all sizes were scattered about very profusely, so much so as quite to excite Mr. George's astonishment.
"I supposed," said he, "that the top of the glacier would be smooth and beautiful ice."
"I did not think any thing about it," said Rollo.
"I imagined it to be smooth, and glassy, and pure," said Mr. George; "and, instead of that, it looks like a field of old snow covered with scattered rocks and stones."
Some of the rocks which lay upon the glacier were very large, several of them being as big as houses. It was remarkable, too, that the largest of them, instead of having settled down in some degree into the ice and snow, as it might have been expected from their great weight they would have done, were raised sometimes many feet above the general level of the glacier, being mounted on a sort of pedestal of ice. The reason of this was, that when the block was very large, so large that the beams of the sun shining upon it all day would not warm it through, then the ice beneath it would be protected by its coolness, while the surface of the glacier around would be gradually melted and wasted away by the beams of the sun or by the warm rains which might occasionally fall upon it. Thus, in process of time, the great bowlder block rises, as it were, many feet into the air, and remains there perched on the top of a little hillock of ice, like a mass of monumental marble on a pedestal.
In excursions on the glaciers the guides take a rope with them, and sometimes a light ladder. The rope is for various purposes. If a traveller were to fall into any deep pit, or crevasse, or to slip down some steep slope or precipice, so that he could not get up again, the guides might let the rope down to him, and then when he had fastened it around his waist they could draw him up, when, without some such means of rescuing him, he would be wholly lost. In the same manner, when a party are walking along any very steep and slippery place, where if any one were to fall he would slide down into some dreadful abyss, it is customary for them to walk in a line with the rope in their hands, each one taking hold of it. Thus, if any one should slip a little, he could recover himself by means of the rope, when, without such a support, he would perhaps have fallen and been dashed to pieces. Sometimes, when the place is very dangerous indeed, so that several guides are required to each traveller, they tie the rope round the traveller's waist, so that he can have his hands free and yet avail himself of the support of the rope in passing along.
The ladder is used for scaling low precipices, either of rock or ice, which sometimes come in the way, and which could not be surmounted without such aid. In long and dangerous excursions, especially among the higher Alps, one of the guides always carries a ladder; and there are frequent occasions where it would not be possible to go on without using it.
A hatchet, too, is of great advantage in climbing among the immense masses of ice which are found at great elevations, since, by means of such an implement, steps may be cut in the ice which will enable the explorer to climb up an ascent too long to be reached by the ladder and too steep to be ascended without artificial footholds. In ascending Mont Blanc the traveller sometimes comes to a precipice of ice, with a chasm of immense depth, and four or five feet wide, at the bottom of it. In such a case the foot of the ladder is planted on the outside of the chasm, and the top of it is made to rest against the face of the precipice, ten or fifteen feet perhaps from the brink. One of the boldest and most skilful of the guides then ascends the ladder, hatchet in hand, and there, suspended as he is over the yawning gulf below, he begins to cut steps in the face of the precipice, shaping the gaps which he makes in such a manner that he can cling to them with his hands as well as rest upon them with his feet. He thus slowly ascends the barrier, cutting his way as he advances. He carries the end of the rope up with him, tied around his waist; and then by means of it, when he has reached the summit, he aids the rest of the party in coming up to him.
Mr. George and Rollo, however, did not venture into any such dangers as these. They could see all that they desired of the stupendous magnificence and awful desolation of these scenes without it. They spent the whole of the middle of the day on the glacier or on the slopes of the mountains around it; and then in the afternoon they came down the zigzag path again to Chamouni, very tired and very hungry.
To be tired and hungry, however, when you come home at night to a Swiss inn, is a great source of enjoyment—on account of the admirable arrangements for rest and refreshment which you are sure to find there.
[Footnote 14: Any loose rock of large size detached from its native ledge or mountain is called a bowlder.]
ROLLO A COURIER.
Rollo came in one morning to the hotel at Meyringen, after having been taking a walk on the banks of a mighty torrent that flows through the valley, and found his uncle George studying the guide book and map, with an appearance of perplexity. Mr. George was seated at a table on a balcony, which opened from the dining room of the inn. This balcony was very large, and rooms opened from it in various directions. There were several tables here, with seats around them, where those who chose to do so could take their breakfast or their dinner in the open air, and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls at the same time. Mr. George was seated at one of these tables, with his map and his guide book before him.
"Well, uncle George," said Rollo, "are you planning our journey?"
"Yes," said Mr. George; "and I am very much perplexed."
"Why, what is the difficulty?" asked Rollo.
"There is no possibility of getting out of this valley," said Mr. George, "except by going all the way back to Thun,—and that I am not willing to do."
"Is there no possible way?" asked Rollo.
"No," said Mr. George, "unless we go over the Brunig Pass on foot."
"Well," said Rollo, "let us do that."
"We might possibly do that," continued Mr. George, still looking intently at his map. "We should have to go over the Brunig to Lungern on foot, with a horse for our baggage. Then we should have to take a car from Lungern down the valleys to the shore of Lake Lucerne, and there get a boat, for six or eight miles, on the lake to the town."
"Well," said Rollo, joyfully, "I should like that."
Rollo liked the idea of making the journey in the way that his uncle George had described, on account of the numerous changes which would be necessary in it, in respect to the modes of conveyance. It was for this very reason that his uncle did not like it.
"Yes, uncle George," said Rollo, again. "That will be an excellent way to go to Lucerne. Don't you think it will?"
"No," said Mr. George. "It will be so much trouble. We shall have three different arrangements to make for conveyance, in one day."
"No matter for that, uncle George," said Rollo. "I will do all that. Let me be the courier, uncle George, and I'll take you from here to Lucerne without your having the least trouble. I will make all the arrangements, so that you shall have nothing to do. You may read, if you choose, the whole of the way."
"How will you find out what to do?" asked Mr. George.
"O, I'll study the guide book carefully," replied Rollo; "and, besides, I'll inquire of the landlord here."
"Well," said Mr. George, hesitatingly, "I have a great mind to try it."
"Only you must pay me," said Rollo. "I can't be courier without being paid."
"How much must I pay?" asked Mr. George.
"Why, about a quarter of a dollar," replied Rollo.
"It is worth more than that," said Mr. George. "I will give you half a dollar if you make all the arrangements and get me safe to Lucerne without my having any care or trouble. But then if you get into difficulty in any case, and have to appeal to me, you lose your whole pay. If you carry me through, I give you half a dollar. If you don't really carry me through, you have nothing."
Rollo agreed to these conditions, and Mr. George proceeded to shut up the map and the guide book, and to put them in his hands.
"I will sit down here now," said Rollo, "and study the map and the guide book until I have learned all I can from them, and then I will go and talk with the landlord."
Mr. George did not make any reply to this remark, but taking out a small portfolio, containing writing materials, from his pocket, he set himself at work writing some letters; having, apparently, dismissed the whole subject of the mode of crossing the Brunig entirely from his mind.
Rollo took his seat at a table on the balcony in a corner opposite to the place where his uncle was writing, and spread out the map before him. His seat commanded a very extended and magnificent view. In the foreground were the green fields, the gardens, and the orchards of the lower valley. Beyond, green pasturages were seen extending over the lower declivities of the mountains, with hamlets perched here and there upon the shelving rocks, and winding and zigzag roads ascending from one elevation to another, while here and there prodigious cataracts and cascades were to be seen, falling down hundreds of feet, over perpendicular precipices, or issuing from frightful chasms. Rollo stopped occasionally to gaze upon these scenes; and sometimes he would pause to put a spy glass to his eye, in order to watch the progress of the parties of travellers that were to be seen, from time to time, coming down along a winding path which descended the face of the mountain about two or three miles distant, across the valley. With the exception of these brief interruptions, Rollo continued very steadily at his work; and in about half an hour he shut up the map, and put it in its case, saying, in a tone of great apparent satisfaction,—
"There! I understand it now perfectly."
He was in hopes that his uncle would have asked him some questions about the route, in order that he might show how fully he had made himself acquainted with it; but Mr. George said nothing, and so Rollo went away to find the landlord.
* * * * *
That night, just before bed time, Mr. George asked Rollo what time he was going to set out the next morning.
"Immediately after breakfast," said Rollo.
"Are we going to ride or walk?" asked Mr. George.
"We are going to walk over the pass," said Rollo. "The road is too steep and rocky for horses. But then we are going to have a horse to carry the trunk."
"Can you put our trunk on a horse?" asked Mr. George.
"Yes," replied Rollo, "the guide says he can."
"Very well," said Mr. George, "and just as soon as we get through breakfast I am going to walk on, and leave you to pack the trunk on the horse, and come along when you are ready."
"Well," said Rollo, "you can do that."
"Because, you see," continued Mr. George, "you will probably have various difficulties and delays in getting packed and ready, and I don't want to have any thing to do with it. I wish to have my mind entirely free, so as to enjoy the walk and the scenery without any care or responsibility whatever."
Sometimes, when fathers or uncles employ boys to do any work, or to assume any charge, they stand by and help them all the time, so that the real labor and responsibility do not come on the boy after all. He gets paid for the work, and he imagines that he does it—his father or his uncle allowing him to imagine so, for the sake of pleasing him. But there was no such child's play as this between Mr. George and Rollo. When Rollo proposed to undertake any duty, Mr. George always considered well, in the first instance, whether it was a duty that he was really competent to perform. If it was not, he would not allow him to undertake it. If it was, he left him to bear the whole burden and responsibility of it, entirely alone.
Rollo understood this perfectly well, and he liked such a mode of management. He was, accordingly, not at all surprised to hear his uncle George propose to leave him to make all the arrangements of the journey alone.
"You see," said Mr. George, "when I hire a courier I expect him to take all the care of the journey entirely off my mind, and leave me to myself, so that I can have a real good time."
"Yes," said Rollo, "that is right."
And here, perhaps, I ought to explain that what is called a courier, in the vocabulary of tourists in Europe, is a travelling servant, who, when he is employed by any party, takes the whole charge of their affairs, and makes all necessary arrangements, so that they can travel without any care or concern. He engages the conveyances and guides, selects the inns, pays the bills, takes charge of the baggage, and does every thing, in short, that is necessary to secure the comfort and safety of the party on their journey, and to protect them from every species of trouble and annoyance. He has himself often before travelled over the countries through which he is to conduct his party, so that he is perfectly familiar with them in every part, and he knows all the languages that it is necessary to speak in them. Thus when once under the charge of such a guide, a gentleman journeying in Europe, even if he has his whole family with him, need have no care or concern, but may be as quiet and as much at his ease, all the time, as if he were riding about his own native town in his private carriage.
The next morning, after breakfast, Mr. George rose from the table, and prepared to set out on his journey. He put the belt of his knapsack over his shoulder, and took his alpenstock in his hand.
"Good by, Rollo," said he. "I will walk on, taking the road to the Brunig, and you can come when you get ready. You will overtake me in the course of half an hour, or an hour."
Rollo accompanied Mr. George to the door, and then wishing him a pleasant walk, bade him good by.
In a few minutes the guide came around the corner of the house, from the inn yard, leading the horse. He stopped to water the horse at a fountain in the street, and then led him to the door. In the mean time the porter of the inn had brought down the trunk, and then the guide proceeded to fasten it upon the saddle of the horse, by means of two strong straps. The saddle was what is called a pack saddle, and was made expressly to receive such burdens.
After having placed the trunk and secured it firmly, the guide put on the umbrella, and Mr. George's and Rollo's greatcoats, and also Rollo's knapsack. These things made quite a pile on the horse's back. The burden was increased, too, by several things belonging to the guide himself, which he put on over all the rest, such as a great-coat and a little bag of provisions.
At length, when all was ready, Rollo bade the innkeeper good by, and set out on his journey. The guide went first, driving the horse before him, and Rollo followed, with his alpenstock in his hand.
They soon passed out of the village, and then travelled along a very pleasant road, which skirted the foot of the mountain range,—all the time gradually ascending. Rollo looked out well before him, whenever he came to a straight part of the road, in hopes of seeing his uncle; but Mr. George was nowhere in view.
Presently he came to a place where there was a gate, and a branch path, turning off from the main road, directly towards the mountain. Here Rollo, quite to his relief and gratification, found his uncle. Mr. George was sitting on a stone by the side of the road, reading.
He shut his book when he saw Rollo and the guide, and put it away in his knapsack. At the same time he rose from his seat, saying,—
"Well, Rollo, which is the way?"
"I don't know," said Rollo.
The guide, however, settled the question by taking hold of the horse's bridle, and leading him off into the side path. The two travellers followed him.
The path led through a very romantic and beautiful scene of fields, gardens, and groves, among the trees of which were here and there seen glimpses of magnificent precipices and mountains rising very near, a little beyond them. After following this path a few steps, two girls came running out from a cottage. One of them had a board under her arm. The other had nothing. They both glanced at the travellers, as they passed, and then ran forward along the road before them.
"What do you suppose those girls are going to do?" asked Rollo.
"I can't conceive," replied Mr. George. "Some thing for us to pay for, I'll engage."
"And shall you pay them?" asked Rollo.
"No," said Mr. George. "I shall not pay them. I shall leave all such business to my courier."
The purpose with which the two girls had come out was soon made to appear; for after running along before the party of travellers for about a quarter of a mile, they came to a place where two shallow but rather broad brooks flowed across the pathway. When Rollo and Mr. George came up to the place they found that the girls had placed boards over these streams of water for bridges. One of the boards was the one which the girl had brought along with her, under her arm. The other girl, it seems, kept her board under the bushes near the place, because it was too heavy to carry back and forth to the house. It was their custom to watch for travellers coming along the path, and then to run on before them and lay these bridges over the brooks,—expecting, of course, to be paid for it. Rollo gave them each a small piece of money, and then he and Mr. George went on.
Soon the road began to ascend the side of the mountain in long zigzags and windings. These windings presented new views of the valley below at every turn, each successive picture being more extended and grand than the preceding.
At length, after ascending some thousands of feet, the party came to a resting-place, consisting of a seat in a sort of bower, which had been built for the accommodation of travellers, at a turn of the road where there was an uncommonly magnificent view. Here they stopped to rest, while the guide, leading the horse to a spring at the road side, in order that he might have a drink, sat down himself on a flat stone beside him.
"How far is it that we have got to walk?" asked Mr. George.
Rollo looked at his watch, and then said, "We have got to walk about three hours more."
"And what shall we come to then?" asked Mr. George.
"We shall come down on the other side of the mountain," said Rollo, "to a little village called Lungern, where there is a good road; and there I am going to hire a carriage, and a man to drive us to the lake. It is a beautiful country that we are going through, and the road leads along the shores of mountain lakes. The first lake is up very high among the mountains. The next is a great deal lower down, and we have to go down a long way by a zigzag road, till we get to it. Then we go along the shore of this second lake, through several towns, and at last we come to the landing on the Lake of Lucerne. There I shall hire a boat."
"What kind of a boat?" asked Mr. George.
"I don't know," said Rollo.
"How do you know that there will be any boat there?" asked Mr. George.
"Because the guide book says there will," replied Rollo. "They always have boats there to take people that come along this road to Lucerne."
"Why do they not go all the way by land?" asked Mr. George.
"Because," said Rollo, "the whole country there is so full of mountains that there is no place for a road."
Just at this time the guide got up from his seat, and seemed ready to set out upon his journey; and so Mr. George and Rollo rose and went on.
After ascending about an hour more, through a series of very wild and romantic glens, with cottages and curious-looking chalets scattered here and there along the borders of them, wherever the ground was smooth and green enough for cattle to feed, our travellers came, at length, to the summit of the pass, where, in a very pleasant and sheltered spot, surrounded with forest trees, there stood a little inn. On arriving at this place the guide proceeded to take off the load from the horse and to place it upon a sort of frame, such as is used in those countries for burdens which are to be carried on the back of a man.
"What is he going to do?" asked Mr. George.
"He is going to carry the baggage the rest of the way himself," said Rollo. "You see it is so steep and rocky from here down to Lungern that it is dreadful hard work to get a horse down and up again; especially up. So the guide leaves the horse here, and is going to carry the baggage down himself on his back. That rack that he is fastening the trunk upon goes on his back. Those straps in front of it come over his shoulders."
"It seems to me," said Mr. George, "that that is a monstrous heavy load to put on a man's back, to go down a place which is so steep and rocky that a horse could not get along over it. But then I suppose my courier knows what he is about."
So Mr. George, with an air and manner which seemed to say, It is none of my concern, walked up a flight of steps which led to a sort of elevated porch or platform before the door of the inn.
For a moment Rollo himself was a little disconcerted, not knowing whether it would be safe for a man to go down a steep declivity with such a burden on his back; but when he reflected that this was the arrangement that the guide himself had proposed, and that the guide had, doubtless, done the same thing a hundred times before, he ceased to feel any uneasiness, and following Mr. George up the steps, he took a seat by his side, at a little table, which was placed there for the accommodation of travellers stopping at the inn to rest.
Rollo and his uncle spent half an hour at this hotel. For refreshment they had some very excellent and rich Alpine milk, which they drank from very tall and curiously-shaped tumblers. They also amused themselves in looking at some specimens of carved work, such as models of Swiss cottages—and figures of shepherds, and milkmaids with loads of utensils on their backs—and groups of huntsmen, with dogs leaping up around them—and chamois, or goats, climbing about among the rocks and mountains. Rollo had bought a pretty good supply of such sculptures before; but there was one specimen here that struck his fancy so much that he could not resist the temptation of adding it to his collection, especially as Mr. George approved of his making the purchase. It was a model of what is called a chalet, which is a sort of hut that the shepherds occupy in the upper pasturages, in the summer, where they go to tend the cows, and to make butter and cheese. The little chalet was made in such a manner that the roof would lift up like a lid, and let you see all there was within. There was a row of cows, with little calves by them, in stalls on one side of the chalet, and on the other side tables and benches, with pans of milk and tubs upon them, and a churn, and a cheese press, and other such like things. There was a bed, too, for the shepherd, in a sort of a garret above, just big enough to hold it.
In about half an hour the guide seemed ready to proceed, and the whole party set out again on their journey. The guide went before, with the trunk and all the other baggage piled up on the rack behind him. He had a stout staff in his hand, which he used to prevent himself from falling, in going down the steep and rocky places. Some of these places were very steep and rocky indeed—so much so that going down them was a work of climbing rather than walking, and Rollo himself was sometimes almost afraid. What made these places the more frightful was, that the path in descending them was often exceedingly narrow, and was bordered, on one side, by a perpendicular wall of rock, and by an unfathomable abyss of rocks and roaring cataracts on the other. To behold the skill and dexterity with which the guide let himself down, from rock to rock, in this dreadful defile, loaded as he was, excited both in Mr. George and Rollo a continual sentiment of wonder.
At length the steepest part of the descent was accomplished, and then the road led, for a mile, through a green and pretty valley, with lofty rocks and mountains on either hand, and chalets and pretty cottages at various distances along the roadside. At one place, in a very romantic and delightful spot, they came to a small chapel. It had been built there to commemorate some remarkable event, and to afford a resting-place for travellers. The door of this chapel was fastened, but Rollo could look in through a window and see the altar, and the crucifix, and the tall candles, within. He and Mr. George sat down, too, on the stone step of the chapel for a little while, to rest, and to enjoy the view. While they were there another traveller came by, ascending from Lungern, and he stopped to rest there too. He was lame, and seemed to be poor. He had a pack on his back. Mr. George talked with this man in French while they sat together on the steps of the chapel, and when he went away Mr. George gave him a little money.
After leaving the chapel the travellers continued their descent, the valley opening before them more and more as they proceeded, until, at length, the village of Lungern came in sight, far below them, at the head of a little lake.
"There!" said Rollo, as soon as the village came in sight. "That is Lungern. That is the place where the carriage road begins."
"I am glad of that," said Mr. George. "A ride in a carriage will be very pleasant after all this scrambling over the mountains—that is, provided you get a good carriage."
When, at length, the party reached the inn, the guide set down his load on a bench at the door of it, and, smiling, seemed quite pleased to be rid of the heavy burden.
"Are we going to take dinner here?" said Mr. George to Rollo.
"No, sir," said Rollo. "At least, I don't know. We'll see."
The landlord of the inn met the travellers at the door, and conducted them up a flight of stone stairs, and thence into a room where several tables were set, and different parties of travellers were taking refreshments. The landlord, after showing them into this room, went down stairs again to attend to other travellers. Mr. George and Rollo walked into the room. After looking about the room a moment, however, Rollo said he must go down and see about a carriage.
"Wait here a few minutes, uncle George," said he, "while I go and engage a carriage, and then I will come back."
So saying, Rollo went away, and Mr. George took his seat by a window.
Presently the waiter came to Mr. George, and asked him, in French, if he wished for any refreshment.
"I don't know," said Mr. George. "I will wait till the boy comes back, and then we'll see."
In a short time Rollo came back.
"The carriage will be ready in twenty minutes," said he.
"Very well," said Mr. George. "And the waiter wants to know whether we are going to have any thing to eat."
"Yes," said Rollo, "we are going to have a luncheon."
Rollo then went to the waiter, and said, in French, "Bread, butter, coffee, and strawberries, for two." "Very well, sir," said the waiter, and he immediately went away to prepare what Rollo had ordered.
In due time the refreshment was ready, and Mr. George and Rollo sat down to the table, with great appetites. Every thing was very nice. The strawberries, in particular, though very small in size, as the Alpine strawberries always are, were very abundant in quantity, and delicious in flavor. There was also plenty of rich cream to eat them with. When, at length, the travellers had finished eating their luncheon, the landlord came to say that the carriage was ready. So Rollo paid the bill, and then he and Mr. George went down to the door. Here they found a very pretty chaise, with a seat in front for the driver, all ready for them. The trunk and all the other baggage were strapped securely on behind. Mr. George and Rollo got in. The top of the chaise was down, so that the view was unobstructed on every side.
"Well," said Rollo, "do you think it is a good carriage?"
"A most excellent one," said Mr. George. "We shall have a delightful ride, I am sure."
Mr. George was not disappointed in his anticipations of a delightful ride. The day was very pleasant, and the scenery of the country through which they had to pass was as romantic and beautiful as could be imagined. The road descended rapidly, from valley to valley, sometimes by sharp zigzags, and sometimes by long and graceful meanderings, presenting at every turn some new and charming view. There were green valleys, and shady dells, and foaming cascades, and dense forests, and glassy lakes, and towering above the whole, on either side, were vast mountain slopes, covered with forests, and ranges of precipitous rocks, their summits shooting upward, in pinnacles, to the very clouds.
After journeying on in this manner for some hours the carriage arrived at an inn on the shores of the Lake of Lucerne. There was a landing there, and a number of boats, drawn up near a little pier.
"Yes," exclaimed Rollo, when he saw the boats, "this is the place. The name of it is Alpnach. We are to go the rest of the way by water."
"That will be very pleasant," said Mr. George, as he got out of the carriage. "I shall like a row on the lake very much. I will go directly down to the landing, and you can come when you get ready."
So Mr. George walked on down to the pier, leaving Rollo to perform his duties as a courier, according to his own discretion.
Rollo first paid the driver of the carriage what was due to him, according to the agreement that he had made with the Lungern landlord, and then explained to the Alpnach landlord, in as good French as he could command, that he wanted a boat, to take him and the gentleman who was travelling with him to Lucerne, and asked what the price would be. The landlord named the regular price, and Rollo engaged the boat. The landlord then sent for a boatman. In a few minutes the boatman was seen coming. He was followed by two rather pretty-looking peasant girls, each bringing an oar on her shoulder. These two girls were the boatman's daughters. They were going with their father in the boat, to help him row.
The boatman took up the trunk, and the girls the other parcels of baggage, and so carried the whole, together with the oars, down to the boat. Rollo followed them, and the whole party immediately embarked. It was a bright and sunny day, though there were some dark and heavy clouds in the western sky. The water of the lake was very smooth, and it reflected the mountains and the skies in a very beautiful manner. Mr. George and Rollo took their seats in the boat, under an awning that was spread over a frame in the central portion of it. This awning sheltered them from the sun, while it did not intercept their view. The man and the girls took each of them an oar, standing up, however, to row, and pushing the oar before them, instead of pulling it, according to our fashion. Thus they commenced the voyage.
Every thing went on very pleasantly for an hour, only, as the boatman and his daughters could speak no language but German, Mr. George and Rollo could have no conversation with them. But they could talk with each other, and they had a very pleasant time. At length, however, the clouds which had appeared in the western sky rose higher and higher, and grew blacker and blacker, and, finally, low, rumbling peals of thunder began to be heard. The boatman talked with his daughters, pointing to the clouds, and then said something to Mr. George in German; but neither Mr. George nor Rollo could understand it. They soon found, however, that the boat was turned towards the shore. They were very glad of this, for Rollo said that he had read in the guide book that the Swiss lakes were subject to very violent tempests, such as it would be quite dangerous to encounter far from the shore. Rollo said, moreover, that the boatmen were very vigilant in watching for the approach of these storms, and that they would always at once make the best of their way to the land whenever they saw one coming on.
In this instance the wind began to blow, and the rain to fall, before the boat reached the shore. Rollo and Mr. George were sheltered by the awning, but the boatman and the two girls got very wet. They, however, continued to work hard at the oars, and at length they reached the shore. The place where they landed was in a cove formed by a point of land, where there was a little inn near the water. As soon as the boat reached the shore Mr. George and Rollo leaped out of it, and spreading their umbrella they ran up to the inn.
They waited here nearly an hour. They sat on a piazza in front of the inn, listening to the sound of the thunder and of the wind, and watching the drops of rain falling on the water. At length the wind subsided, the rain gradually ceased, and the sun came out bright and beaming as ever. The party then got into the boat, and the boatman pushed off from the shore; and in an hour more they all landed safely on the quay at Lucerne, very near to a magnificent hotel.
Our two travellers were soon comfortably seated at a table in the dining room of the hotel before an excellent dinner, which Rollo had ordered. Mr. George told Rollo, as they took their seats at the table, that he had performed his duty as a courier in a very satisfactory manner, and had fully earned his pay.
[Footnote 15: Pronounced shallay.]
[Footnote 16: The Swiss always stand up in rowing, and push the oar. Thus they look the way they are going.]
It is not possible to describe in such a volume as this more than a small part of the excursions which Mr. George and Rollo made or the adventures which they met with in the course of their tour in Switzerland. They remained in the country of the Alps more than a fortnight; and they enjoyed, as Rollo said, every moment of the time. There was no end to the cascades and waterfalls, the ice and snow-clad summits, the glaciers, the romantic zigzag paths up the mountain sides, the picturesque hamlets and cottages, and the groups of peasants toiling in the fields or tending flocks and herds in the higher pasturages. Rollo's heart was filled all the time that he remained among these scenes with never-ceasing wonder and delight. The inns pleased him, too, as much perhaps as any thing else; for the climbing of mountains and the long excursions on foot gave him a most excellent appetite; and at the inns they always found such nice breakfasts, dinners, and suppers every day that Rollo was never tired of praising them.
Rollo found the cost, too, of travelling in Switzerland much less than he had expected. He did not expend nearly all the allowance which his father had granted him. When he came to settle up his accounts, after he had got back to Paris, he found that he had saved about seventy-five francs, which made nearly fifteen dollars; and this sum he accordingly added to his capital—for that was the name by which he was accustomed to designate the stock of funds which he had gradually accumulated and reserved.
Just before Mr. George and Rollo left Switzerland, on their return to Paris, they received a letter from Mr. Holiday, who was still in Paris, in consequence of which they concluded to make a short tour on the Rhine on their way to France. The adventures which they met with on this tour will form the subject of another volume of this series.