Rollo in Switzerland
by Jacob Abbott
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. RIDE
CHAPTER VI. THE
VALLEY OF THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. GOING
ROLLO A COURIER.
ROLLO IN SWITZERLAND,
SHELDON &CO., 667 BROADWAY,
and 214 &216 MERCER ST.,
Grand Central Hotel.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by JACOB
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
[Illustration: ROLLO'S IN EUROPE.]
ROLLO'S TOUR IN EUROPE.
ORDER OF THE VOLUMES.
ROLLO ON THE ATLANTIC.
ROLLO IN PARIS.
ROLLO IN SWITZERLAND.
ROLLO IN LONDON.
ROLLO ON THE RHINE.
ROLLO IN SCOTLAND.
ROLLO IN GENEVA.
ROLLO IN HOLLAND.
[Illustration: MONT BLANC.]
PRINCIPAL PERSONS OF THE STORY.
ROLLO; twelve years of age.
MR. and MRS. HOLIDAY; Rollo's father and mother, travelling
THANNY; Rollo's younger brother.
JANE; Rollo's cousin, adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Holiday.
MR. GEORGE; a young gentleman, Rollo's uncle.
ROLLO IN SWITZERLAND.
CHAPTER I. GETTING A PASSPORT.
The last day that Rollo spent in Paris, before he set out on his
journey into Switzerland, he had an opportunity to acquire, by actual
experience, some knowledge of the nature of the passport system.
Before commencing the narrative of the adventures which he met with,
it is necessary to premise that no person can travel among the
different states and kingdoms on the continent of Europe without what
is called a passport. The idea which prevails among all the governments
of the continent is, that the people of each country are the subjects
of the sovereign reigning there, and in some sense belong to him. They
cannot leave their country without the written permission of the
government, nor can they enter any other one without showing this
permission and having it approved and stamped by the proper officers of
the country to which they wish to go. There are, for example, at Paris
ministers of all the different governments of Europe, residing in
different parts of the city; and whoever wishes to leave France, to go
into any other kingdom, must first go with his passport to the
ministers of the countries which he intends to visit and get them to
put their stamp upon it. This stamp represents the permission of the
government whose minister affixes it that the traveller may enter the
territory under their jurisdiction. Besides this, it is necessary to
get permission from the authorities of Paris to leave the city. Nobody
can leave France without this. This permission, too, like the others,
is given by a stamp upon the passport. To get this stamp, the traveller
must carry or send his passport to the great central police office of
Paris, called the prefecture of police. Now, as the legations of the
different governments and the prefecture of police are situated at very
considerable distances from each other about the city, and as it
usually takes some time to transact the business at each office, and
especially as the inexperienced traveller often makes mistakes and goes
to the wrong place, or gets at the right place at the wrong hour, it
usually requires a whole day, and sometimes two days, to get his
passport all right so as to allow of his setting out upon his journey.
These explanations are necessary to enable the reader to understand
what I now proceed to relate in respect to Rollo.
One morning, while Rollo and Jennie were at breakfast with their
father and mother, Rollo's uncle George came in and said that he had
concluded to go and make a little tour in Switzerland. I shall have
three weeks, said he, if I can get away to-morrow; and that will give
me time to take quite a little run among the mountains. I have come now
to see if you will let Rollo go with me.
Yes, sir, said Rollo, very eagerly, and rising at once from his
chair. Yes, sir. Let me go with him. That's exactly the thing. Yes,
Have you any objection? said Mr. Holiday, quietly, turning towards
No, said Mrs. Holiday, speaking, however, in a very doubtful
tone,no; I don't know that I haveany great objection.
Whatever doubt and hesitation Mrs. Holiday might have had on the
subject was dispelled when she came to look at Rollo and see how eager
and earnest he was in his desire to go. So she gave her definitive
How long do you think you will be gone? said Mr. Holiday.
Three weeks, nearly, replied Mr. George. Say twenty days.
And how much do you suppose it will cost you? asked Mr. Holiday.
I have made a calculation, said Mr. George; and I think it will
cost me, if I go alone, about twenty-five francs a day for the whole
time. There would, however, be a considerable saving in some things if
two go together.
Then I will allow you, Rollo, replied Mr. Holiday, looking towards
Rollo, twenty-five francs a day for this excursion. If you spend any
more than that, you must take it out of your past savings. If you do
not spend it all, what is left when you come back is yours.
Yes, sir, said Rollo. I think that will be a great plenty.
Twenty-five francs a day for twenty days, continued Mr. Holiday,
is five hundred francs. Bring me that bag of gold, Rollo, out of my
secretary. Here is the key.
So Rollo brought out the gold, and Mr. Holiday took from it
twenty-five Napoleons. These he put in Rollo's purse.
There, said Mr. Holiday, that's all I can do for you. For the
rest you must take care of yourself.
How long will it take you to pack your trunk? said Mr. George.
Five minutes, said Rollo, promptly, standing up erect as he said
it and buttoning his jacket up to his chin.
Then put on your cap and come with me, said Mr. George.
Rollo did so. He followed Mr. George down stairs to the door, and
they both got into a small carriage which Mr. George had waiting there
and drove away together towards Mr. George's hotel.
Now, Rollo, said Mr. George, I have got a great deal to do
to-day, and there are our passports to be stamped. I wonder if you
could not attend to that.
Yes, said Rollo, if you will only tell me what is to be done.
I don't myself know what is to be done, said Mr. George. That's
the difficulty. And I have not time to find out. I have got as much as
I can possibly do until four o'clock; and then the office of the
prefecture of police is closed. Now, if you can take the passports and
find out what is to be done, and do it, then we can go
to-morrow; otherwise we must wait till next day.
Well, said Rollo, I'll try.
You will find the passports, then, on my table at the hotel. I am
going to get out at the next street and take another carriage to go in
another direction. You can keep this carriage.
Very well, said Rollo.
You may make inquiries of any body you please, said Mr. George,
except your father and mother. We must not trouble your father with
any business of any kind till he gets entirely well; and your mother
would not know any thing about it at all. Perhaps the master of the
hotel can tell you. You had better ask him, at any rate.
Here Mr. George pulled the string for the carriage to stop, as they
had arrived at the corner of the street where he was to get out. The
coachman drew up to the sidewalk and stopped. Mr. George opened the
door and stepped out upon the curbstone, and then said, as he shut the
Well, good by, Rollo. I hope you will have good luck. But, whatever
happens, keep a quiet mind, and don't allow yourself to feel perplexed
or troubled. If you don't succeed in getting the passports ready to-day
we can attend to them to-morrow and then go the next day, which will
answer nearly as well.
Then, directing the coachman to drive to the hotel, Mr. George
walked rapidly away.
When Rollo reached the hotel he got the key of his uncle George's
room, at the porter's lodge, and went immediately up to see if the
passports were there. He found them, as his uncle had said, lying on
Now, said Rollo, the first thing I'll do is to find Carlos and
see if he will go and help me get the passports stamped.
So, taking the passports in his hand, he went along the corridor
till he came to the door leading to the apartments where Carlos lodged.
There was a bell hanging by the side of the door. Rollo pulled this
cord, and presently the courier came to the door. Rollo inquired for
Carlos, and the courier said that he would go and get him. In the mean
time the courier asked Rollo to step in and take a seat. So Rollo went
in. The room that he entered was a small one, and was used as an
antechamber to the apartment; and it was very neatly and pleasantly
furnished for such a purpose. There were a sofa and several chairs, and
maps and pictures on the walls, and a table with writing materials on
it in the centre. Rollo sat down upon the sofa. In a few minutes Carlos
Look here! said Rollo, rising when Carlos came in. See these
passports! We're going to get them stamped. Will you go with me? I have
got a carriage at the door.
Here Rollo made a sort of whirling motion with his hand, advancing
it forward at the same time as it rolled, to indicate the motion of a
wheel. This was to signify to Carlos that they were going in a
All that Carlos understood was, that Rollo was going somewhere, and
that he wished him, Carlos, to go too. He seemed very much pleased with
his invitation, and went eagerly back into the inner apartments. He
returned in a very few minutes with his cap in his hand, evidently all
ready to go.
Now, said Rollo, as they went out of the antechamber together,
the first thing is to go and ask the master of the hotel what we are
There was a very pleasant little room on the lower floor, on one
side of the archway which formed the entrance into the court of the
hotel from the street, that served the purpose of parlor, sitting room,
counting room, and office. Thus it was used both by the master of the
hotel himself and by his family. There was a desk at one side, where
the master usually sat, with his books and papers before him. At the
other side, near a window, his wife was often seated at her sewing; and
there were frequently two or three little children playing about the
floor with little wagons, or tops, or other toys. Rollo went to this
room, occupying himself as he descended the stairs in trying to make up
a French sentence that would ask his question in the shortest and
He went in, and, going to the desk, held out his passports to the
man who was sitting there, and said, in French,
Passports. To Switzerland. Where to go to get them stamped?
Ah, said the master of the hotel, taking the passports in his
hand. Yes, yes, yes. You must get them stamped. You must go to the
Swiss legation and to the prefecture of police.
Here Rollo pointed to a piece of paper that was lying on the desk
and made signs of writing.
Ah, yes, yes, yes, said the man. I will write you the address.
So the man took a piece of paper and wrote upon the top of it the
words prefecture of police, saying, as he wrote it, that every
coachman knew where that was. Then, underneath, he wrote the name of
the street and number where the Swiss legation was; and, having done
this, he gave the paper to Rollo.
Rollo took the memorandum, and, thanking the man for his
information, led Carlos out to the carriage.
Come, Carlos, said he; now we are ready. I know where to go; but
I don't know at all what we are to do when we get there. But then we
shall find some other people there, I suppose, getting their passports
stamped; and we can do as they do.
Rollo had learned to place great reliance on the rule which his
uncle George had given for his guidance in travelling; namely, to do as
he saw other people do. It is, in fact, a very excellent rule.
Carlos got into the carriage; while Rollo, looking upon the paper in
order to be sure that he understood the words right, said, To the
prefecture of police.
The coachman said, Yes, yes; and Rollo got into the coach. The
coachman, without leaving his seat, reached his arm down and fastened
the door and then drove away.
He drove on through various crowded streets, which seemed to lead in
towards the heart of the city, until at last the carriage came to the
river. Rollo and Carlos looked out and saw the bridges, and the parapet
wall which formed the river side of the street, with the book stalls,
and picture stalls, and cake and fruit booths which had been
established along the side of it, and the monstrous bathing houses
which lay floating on the water below, all gayly painted and adorned
with flags and little parterres of flowers; and the washing houses,
with their long rows of windows, down close to the water, all filled
with women, who were washing clothes by alternately plunging them in
the water of the river and then banging them with clubs. These and a
great many other similar objects attracted their attention as they rode
If the reader of this book has the opportunity to look at a map of
Paris, he will see that the River Seine, in passing through the town,
forms two channels, which separate from each other so as to leave quite
a large island between them. This island is completely covered with
streets and buildings, some of which are very ancient and venerable.
Here is the great Cathedral Church of Notre Dame; also the vast
hospital called Hotel Dieu, where twelve thousand sick persons are
received and taken care of every year. Here also is the prefecture of
policean enormous establishment, with courts, quadrangles, ranges,
offices, and officers without number. In this establishment the records
are kept and the business is transacted relating to all the departments
of the police of the city; so that it is of itself quite a little town.
The first indication which Rollo had that he had arrived at the
place was the turning in of the coach under an arch, which opened in
the middle of a very sombre and antique-looking edifice. The carriage,
after passing through the arch, came into a court, where there were
many other carriages standing. Soldiers were seen too, some coming and
going and others standing guard. The carriage passed through this
court, and then, going under another arch between two ponderous iron
gates, it came into another court, much larger than the first. There
were a great many carriages in this court, some moving in or out and
others waiting. Rollo's carriage drove up to the farthest corner of the
court; and there the coachman stopped and opened the door. Rollo got
out. Carlos followed him.
Where do you suppose we are to go, Carlos? said he. Stop; I can
see by the signs over the doors. Here it is. Passports. This must be
the place. We will go in here.
Rollo accordingly went in, Carlos timidly following him. After
crossing a sort of passage way, he opened another door, which ushered
him at once into a very large hall, the aspect of which quite
bewildered him. There were a great many desks and tables about the
hall, with clerks writing at them, and people coming and going with
passports and permits in their hands. Rollo stepped forward into the
room, surveying the scene with great curiosity and wonder, when his
attention was suddenly arrested by the voice of a soldier, who rose
suddenly from his chair, and said,
Your cap, young gentleman.
Rollo immediately recollected that he had his cap on, while all the
other people in the room were uncovered. He took his cap off at once,
saying to the soldier at the same time, Pardon, sir, which is the
French mode of making an apology in such cases. The soldier then
resumed his seat, and Rollo and Carlos walked on slowly up the hall.
Nobody took any notice of them. In fact, every one seemed busy with
his own concerns, except that in one part of the room there were
several benches where a number of men and women were sitting as if they
were waiting for something.
Rollo advanced towards these seats, saying to Carlos,
Carlos, let us sit down here a minute or two till we can think what
we had better do. We can sit here, I know. These benches must be for
As soon as Rollo had taken his seat and began to cast his eyes about
the room, he observed that among the other desks there was one with the
words, for foreigners, upon it, in large, gilt letters.
Carlos, said he, pointing to it, that must be the place for us.
We are foreigners: let us go there. We will give the passports to the
man in that little pew.
So Rollo rose, and, followed by Carlos, he went to the place. There
was a long desk, with two or three clerks behind it, writing. At the
end of this desk was a small enclosure, where a man sat who looked as
though he had some authority. People would give him their passports,
and he would write something on them and then pass them over to the
clerks. Rollo waited a moment and then handed his passports in. The man
took them, looked over them and then gave them back to Rollo, saying
something in French which Rollo did not understand, and immediately
passed to the next in order.
What did he say? said Rollo, turning to Carlos.
[Illustration: THE PREFECTURE OF POLICE.]
What's the reason he won't take your passports? said Carlos.
Although Rollo did not understand what the official said at the time
of his speaking, still the words left a trace upon his ear, and in
thinking upon them he recalled the words American legation, and also
the word afterwards. While he was musing on the subject, quite
perplexed, a pleasant-looking girl, who was standing there waiting for
her turn, explained to himspeaking very slow in French, for she
perceived that Rollo was a foreigneras follows:
He says that you must go first and get your passports stamped at
the American legation and afterwards come here.
Where is the American legation? said Rollo.
I don't know, said the girl.
Then I'll make the coachman find it for me, said Rollo. Come,
Carlos; we must go back.
So saying, he thanked the girl for her kindness, and the two boys
went out. As he was going out Rollo made up a French sentence to say to
the coachman that he must drive to the American legation, and that he
must find out where it was himself. He succeeded in communicating these
directions to the coachman, and then he and Carlos got into the
carriage and drove away.
The coachman had some difficulty in learning where the American
legation was, which occasioned some delay. Besides, the distance was
considerable. It was nearly two miles to the place from the prefecture
of police; so that it was some time before the carriage arrived there.
In fact, Rollo had a very narrow escape in this stage of the affair;
for he arrived at the American legation only about five minutes before
the office was to be closed for the day. When he went to the porter's
lodge to ask if that was the place where the office of the American
legation was held, the woman who kept the lodge, and who was standing
just outside the door at the time, instead of answering, went in to
look at the clock.
Ah, said she, you are just in time. I thought you were too late.
Second story, right-hand door.
There's one thing good about the American legation, Carlos, said
Rollo; and that is, that they can talk English, I suppose.
This was, indeed, a great advantage. Rollo found, when he went into
the office of the legation, that the secretary not only could talk
English, but that he was a very kindhearted and agreeable man. He
talked with Rollo in English and with Carlos in Spanish. Both the boys
were very much pleased with the reception they met with. The necessary
stamps were promptly affixed to the passports; and then the boys,
giving the secretary both an English and a Spanish good by, went down
stairs to the carriage again. They directed the coachman to drive as
quick as possible to the Swiss legation, showing him the address which
Rollo's uncle had given them. They then got into the carriage, and the
coachman drove away.
Now, Carlos, said Rollo, we are all right; that is, if we only
get to the Swiss legation before it is shut up.
He said he had been in Madrid, rejoined Carlos. He was there
I believe, added Rollo, that uncle George said it did not close
till three; and it is only two now.
And he knew the street my father lived in very well, said Carlos.
Very soon the carriage stopped at the place which the coachman said
was the Swiss legation. Rollo got out and went to the porter's lodge
with the passports in his hand. The woman in charge knew at once what
he wanted, and, without waiting to hear him finish the question which
he began to ask, directed him to the second story on the right.
Rollo went up the staircase till he came to the door, and there
pulled the cord.
A clerk opened the door. Rollo held out the passports.
Enter there, said the clerk, in French, pointing to an inner door.
Rollo went in and found there a very pleasant little room, with
cases of books and papers around it, and maps and plans of Switzerland
and of Swiss towns upon the wall. The clerk took the passports and
asked the boys to sit down. In a few minutes the proper stamps were
affixed to them both and the proper signatures added. The clerk then
said that there was the sum of six francs to pay. Rollo paid the money,
and then he and Carlos went down stairs.
They now returned to the prefecture of police. They went in as they
had done before, and gave the passports to the man who was seated in
the little enclosure in the foreigner's part of the room. He took them,
examined the new stamps which had been put upon them, and then said,
Very well. Take a seat a little minute.
Rollo and Carlos sat down upon one of the benches to wait; but the
little minute proved to be nearly half an hour. They were not tired of
waiting, however, there was so much to amuse and interest them going on
in the room.
I am going to watch and see what the foreigners do to get their
passports, said Rollo, in an undertone, to Carlos; for we must do the
In thus watching, Rollo observed that from time to time a name was
called by one of the clerks behind the desk, and then some of the
persons waiting on the seats would rise and go to the place. After
stopping there a few minutes, he would take his passport and carry it
into an inner room to another desk, where something was done to it.
Then he would bring it out to another place, where it was stamped once
or twice by a man who seemed to have nothing else to do but to stamp
every body's passport when they came out. By watching this process in
the case of the others, Rollo knew exactly what to do when his
name was called; so that, in about half an hour from the time that he
went into the office, he had the satisfaction of coming out and getting
into his carriage with the passports all in order for the journey to
When he got home and showed them to Mr. George, his uncle looked
them over carefully; and, when he found that the stamp of the police
was duly affixed to them both,knowing, as he did, that those would
not be put on till all the others were right,he said,
Well, Rollo, you've done it, I declare. I did not think you were so
much of a man.
[Footnote 1: Carlos was a Spanish boy, who was residing at this time
at the same hotel with Mr. George. The manner in which Rollo became
acquainted with him is related in Rollo in Paris. Carlos did not
understand English, nor Rollo Spanish; but when they were together they
usually kept talking all the time, each in his own way.]
[Footnote 2: A courier is a travelling servant and guide.]
CHAPTER II. CROSSING THE FRONTIER.
On the morning when Mr. George and Rollo were about setting out for
Switzerland, Rollo, having got every thing ready himself half an hour
before the time, took out his map of Europe and asked his uncle George
what route they were going to take. Mr. George was busy at that time
putting the last things into his trunk and making ready to lock it up
and strap it; so he could not come to Rollo to show him the route, but
was obliged to describe it.
Have you found Paris? said he.
Yes, said Rollo; I have got my finger on it.
In the first place, then, said Mr. George, there is a railway
that goes east from Paris a hundred miles across France to Strasbourg
on the Rhine. See if you can find Strasbourg on the Rhine.
Yes, said Rollo; here it is.
Then, said Mr. George, we take another railway and go south, up
the Rhine, towards Switzerland.
Down the Rhine, said Rollo, correcting his uncle; it is
No, rejoined Mr. George. It is down on the map; that is, it is
down the page; but it is really up the river. The Rhine flows to
the north. It collects the waters of a hundred glaciers in Switzerland
and carries them north into the North Sea.
Well, said Rollo.
This railway, continued Mr. George, will take us up from
Strasbourg, along the bank of the Rhine, to Basle, which is in
Switzerland, just across the frontier. It is there, I suppose, that we
shall have to show our passports; and then we shall know if you got
them stamped right.
I did get them stamped right, I am very sure, said Rollo.
Boys are generally very sure that what they do is done right,
rejoined Mr. George.
Soon after this Mr. George and Rollo took their seats in the
carriage, which had been for some time standing ready for them in the
court yard of the inn, and drove to the Strasbourg station.
Rollo was greatly interested and excited, when he arrived at the
Strasbourg station, to see how extensive and magnificent it was. The
carriage entered, with a train of other carriages, through a great iron
gate and drew up at the front of a very spacious and grand-looking
building. Porters, dressed in a sort of uniform, which gave them in
some degree the appearance of soldiers, were ready to take the two
trunks and carry them in. The young gentlemen followed the porters, and
they soon found themselves ushered into an immense hall, very neatly
and prettily arranged, with great maps of the various railways painted
on the walls between the windows on the front side, and openings on the
back side leading to ticket offices or waiting rooms. There were seats
along the sides of this hall, with groups of neatly-dressed travellers
sitting upon them. Other travellers were walking about, attending to
their baggage or making inquiries of the porter or policemen. Others
still were standing at the openings of the ticket offices buying their
tickets. What chiefly struck Rollo's attention, however, and impressed
his mind, was the air of silence, order, and decorum which prevailed
and which gave to the station an aspect so different from that of an
American station. It is true, the hall was very large, and there were a
great many people in it going and coming; but they all walked
decorously and quietly,they spoke in an undertone,and the presence
of so many railway officials in their several uniforms, and of police
officers with their badges, and here and there a soldier on guard, gave
to the whole scene quite a solemn and imposing appearance.
Rollo gazed about the apartment as he came in, surveying the various
objects and groups that presented themselves to his view, until his eye
rested upon a little party of travellers, consisting of a lady and two
boys, who were standing together near a low railing, waiting for the
gentleman who was with them to come back from the ticket office with
their tickets. What chiefly attracted Rollo's attention, however, was a
pretty little dog, with very long ears, and black, glossy hair, which
one of the children held by a cord. The cord was attached to the dog's
neck by a silver collar.
Rollo looked at this group for a few minuteshis attention being
particularly occupied by the dog,and then turned again towards his
uncle, or rather towards the place where his uncle had been standing;
but he found, to his surprise, that he was gone.
In a moment, however, he saw his uncle coming towards him. He was
clasping his wallet and putting it in his pocket.
Uncle George, said he, see that beautiful little dog!
Yes, said Mr. George.
I wish I had such a dog as that to travel with me, said Rollo.
But, uncle George where are we to get our tickets?
I've got mine, said Mr. George. When I come to a railway station
I always get my ticket the first thing, and look at the pretty little
So saying, Mr. George took a newspaper out of his pocket and began
to walk away, adding, as he went,
I'll sit down here and read my newspaper till you have got your
ticket, and then we will go into the waiting room.
But, uncle George, said Rollo, why did not you get me a ticket
when you got yours?
Because, said Mr. George, among other reasons, I did not know
which class carriage you wished to go in.
Why, uncle George! exclaimed Rollo, surprised. I must go in the
same carriage that you do of course.
Not of course, said Mr. George. I have got a ticket in the first
class; and I should like to have your company in my car very much if
you choose to pay the price for a first-class ticket. But if you choose
to take a second or a third-class ticket you will save, perhaps, half
So saying, Mr. George went away and left Rollo to himself.
This was the way that Mr. George always treated Rollo when he was
travelling with him. He left him to act for himself and to take care of
himself in almost all the emergencies that occurred. He did this, not
because he wished to save himself the trouble of taking care of a boy,
but because he thought it was much better for boys early to learn to
take care of themselves.
The manner in which Mr. George thus threw the responsibility upon
Rollo seemed sometimes to be a little blunt. One would suppose, in some
of these cases, from the way in which he spoke and acted, that he did
not care at all what became of Rollo, so coolly and with such an air of
unconcern did he leave him to his own resources. In fact, Rollo was
frequently at such times a little frightened, or at least perplexed,
and often, at first, felt greatly at a loss to know what to do. But, on
reflecting a little upon the subject, he usually soon succeeded in
extricating himself from the difficulty; and then he was always quite
proud of having done so, and was pleased with his uncle George for
having given him the opportunity. So Mr. George, having learned by
experience that Rollo liked, on the whole, to be treated in this way,
always adopted it; and in carrying it out he sometimes spoke and acted
in such a way as might, under other circumstances have appeared
The idea of taking a second-class car for himself in order to save a
portion of his money, while his uncle went in one of the first-class,
took Rollo's imagination strongly, and he was half inclined to adopt
On the whole, said he to himself, I will not do it to-day; but I
will some other day. And now I wonder which is the ticket office for
So saying, Rollo looked about the room and soon found the proper
place to apply for his ticket. He procured a ticket without any
difficulty, asking for it in French, with a pronunciation which, if it
was not perfectly correct, was at least perfectly intelligible. As soon
as he had received his ticket and had taken up his change he went to
the bench where his uncle George was sitting and said that he was
Well, said Mr. George, then we'll go. I like to travel with a boy
that is capable of taking care of himself and is willing to be treated
like a man.
Saying these words, Mr. George rose from his seat, and, after
attending properly to the baggage, he and Rollo passed through a door
guarded by a man in uniform, who required them to show him their
tickets before he would allow them to pass, and then entered a spacious
apartment which was reserved as the waiting room for the first-class
passengers. This room was beautifully finished and richly adorned, and
the splendid sofas and ottomans which were ranged about the sides of it
were occupied by well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, carrying shawls,
greatcoats, and small travelling bags upon their arms, and exhibiting
other similar indications of their being travellers. Mr. George and
Rollo took seats at a vacant place upon one of the sofas. In a few
minutes an officer came and informed the company, in a very respectful
manner, that the train was ready; whereupon they all rose from their
seats and walked out upon the platform where the train was waiting.
Here there were several railway servants, all dressed in uniform, whose
business it was to conduct the passengers to the several cars, or
carriages, as they call them, and open the doors. These carriages were
entirely different in their construction from the long and open cars
used in America, which form but one compartment, that extends through
the whole length of the car. The French cars were like three elegant
carriages, joined together in such a manner that, though the three
formed but one car, they were still entirely distinct from each other.
The seats in these carriages were very spacious, and they were richly
stuffed and lined, so that they formed soft and luxurious places of
repose. The railway porter opened one of the doors and admitted Mr.
George and Rollo, and when they had entered he closed it again.
Ah, said Rollo, seating himself upon the soft cushion on one of
the seats, is not this superb? I am very glad I did not take a
And yet the second-class cars in France are very comfortable and
very respectable, said Mr. George, and they are very much cheaper.
How much should we have saved, asked Rollo, in going to
Strasbourg, if we had taken a second-class car?
I don't know, precisely, said Mr. George. We should have saved a
The train now began to move; and, soon after it left the station,
Mr. George took out his newspaper again and began to read. It was a
copy of a very celebrated newspaper, called the London Times. Mr.
George had another London paper which was full of humorous engravings.
The name of it was Punch. Mr. George gave the Punch to Rollo, thinking
that the pictures and caricatures in it might perhaps amuse him; but
Rollo, after turning it over a moment, concluded that he should prefer
to amuse himself by looking out the window.
[Illustration: IN THE CAR.]
Rollo saw a great many beautiful views and witnessed a great many
strange and striking scenes as he was whirled onward by the train
across the country from Paris towards Strasbourg. We cannot, however,
stop to describe what he saw, but must hasten on to the Swiss frontier.
The travellers arrived at Strasbourg in the evening. They spent the
night at a hotel; and the next morning they took another railway which
led along the bank of the Rhine, up the river, towards Switzerland. The
country was magnificent. There was the river on one side, and a range
of mountains rising sublimely in the interior on the other. The
mountains were at a distance of several miles from the river; and the
country between was an extremely fertile and luxuriant plain, covered
with villages, castles, parks, pleasure grounds, gardens, and
cultivated fields, which presented every where most enchanting pictures
of rural beauty. This province is called Alsatia.
The terminus of the railway was at the city of Basle, which lies
just within the confines of Switzerland. A short distance before
reaching the gates of Basle, the train stopped at what seemed at first
to be a station. It was, however, only the custom house, where the
trunks and passports were to be examined.
What are we to do here, asked Rollo.
I am going to do what I see other people do, replied Mr.
George. You can do whatever you please.
At this moment a guard, dressed, like all the other railway
servants, in a sort of uniform, opened the door of the car in which Mr.
George and Rollo were sitting, and said in a very respectful manner, in
The custom house, gentlemen.
Mr. George observed that the passengers were getting out from all
the other cars; so he stepped out too, and Rollo followed him.
When they reached the platform they observed that a company of
porters were employed in carrying all the trunks and baggage from the
cars to the custom house, and that the passengers were going into the
custom house too, though by another door. Mr. George and Rollo went in
with them. They found an office within, and a desk, where one or two
secretaries sat and examined the passports of the travellers as they
successively presented them. As fast as they were examined they were
impressed with a new stamp, which denoted permission for the travellers
to pass the Swiss frontier. The several travellers, as fast as their
passports were examined, found right, and stamped, were allowed to pass
between two soldiers through a door into another hall, where they found
all the trunks and baggage arranged on a sort of counter, which
extended around the centre of the room, so as to enclose a square place
within. The custom-house officers who were to examine the baggage were
within this enclosure, while the travellers who owned the baggage stood
without. These last walked around the counter, looking at the trunks,
boxes, bundles, and carpet bags that covered it, each selecting his own
and opening the several parcels, in order that the officers within
might examine them.
The object of examining the trunks of passengers in this way is, to
ascertain that they have not any goods concealed in them. As a
general thing, persons are not allowed to take goods from one
country to another without paying a tax for them. Such a tax is called
technically a duty, and the avails of it go to support the
government of the country which the goods are carried into. Travellers
are allowed to take with them all that is necessary for their own
personal use, as travellers, without paying any duty; but articles
that are intended for sale as merchandise, or those which, though
intended for the traveller's own use, are not strictly personal,
are liable to pay duty. The principle is, that whatever the traveller
requires for his own personal use, in travelling, is not liable
to duty. What he does not so require must pay duty, no matter whether
he intends to use it himself or to sell it.
Many travellers do not understand this properly, and often get into
difficulty by not understanding it, as we shall see in the sequel.
Mr. George and Rollo went into the baggage room together, showing
their passports as they passed through between the soldiers. They then
walked slowly along the room, looking at the baggage, as it was
arranged upon the counter, in search of their own.
I see my trunk, said Mr. George, looking along at a little
distance before him. There it is.
And where do you suppose mine is? asked Rollo.
I have not the least idea, said Mr. George. I advise you to walk
all around the room and see if you can find it; and when you find it,
get it examined.
Rollo, taking this advice, walked on, leaving Mr. George in the act
of taking out his key in order to open his trunk for the purpose of
allowing an officer to inspect it as soon as one should be ready.
Rollo soon found his trunk. It was in a part of the room remote from
his uncle's. Near his trunk was a very large one, which the officers
were searching very thoroughly. They had found something in it which
was not personal baggage and which the lady had not declared. Rollo
could not see what the article was which the officers had found. It was
something contained in a pretty box. The lady had put it into the
bottom of her trunk. The officers had taken it out, and were now
examining it. The lady stood by, seemingly in great distress.
Rollo's attention, which had begun to be attracted by this scene,
was, however, almost immediately called off from it by the voice of
another officer, who pointed to his trunk and asked him if it was his.
Is that yours? said the officer, in French.
Yes, replied Rollo, in the same language, it is mine; and so
saying, he proceeded to take out his key and unlock the trunk.
Have you any thing to declare? asked the man.
Rollo looked perplexed. He did not know what the officer meant by
asking him if he had any thing to declare. After a moment's hesitation
I don't know; but I will go ask my uncle.
So Rollo went to the place where he had left his uncle George, and
accosted him by saying,
They want to know if I have any thing to declare. What do
They mean whether you have any goods in your trunk that are liable
to pay duty. Tell them no.
So Rollo went back and told the officer that he had not any thing to
declare. He then opened his trunk; but the officer, instead of
examining it, shut down the lid, saying, Very well; and by means of a
piece of chalk he marked it upon the top with some sort of character. A
porter then took the trunk and carried it back to the train.
Rollo perceived that the difficulty about the lady's baggage had
been settled in some way or other, but he feared it was settled in a
manner not very satisfactory to the lady herself; for, as the porters
took up her trunk to carry it back, she looked quite displeased and out
Rollo went back to the place where he had left his uncle George, and
then they went together out to the platform. Here Rollo found the lady
who had had difficulty about her baggage explaining the case to some
friends that she found there. She seemed to be very indignant and
angry, and was telling her story with great volubility. Rollo listened
for a moment; but she spoke so rapidly that he could not understand
what she said, as she spoke in French.
What does she say? he asked, speaking to Mr. George.
She says, replied Mr. George, that they were going to seize
something that she had in her trunk because she did not declare it.
What does that mean? said Rollo.
Why, the law is, said Mr. George, that when people have any thing
in their trunks that is dutiable, if they declare it, that is,
acknowledge that they have it and show it to the officers, then they
have only to pay the duty, and they may carry the article in. But if
they do not declare it, but hide it away somewhere in their trunks, and
the officers find it there, then the thing is forfeited altogether. The
officers seize it and sell it for the benefit of the government.
O, uncle George! exclaimed Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George, that is what they do; and it is right. If
people wish to bring any thing that is subject to duty into any country
they ought to be willing to pay the duty, and not, by refusing to pay,
make other people pay more than their share.
If one man does not pay his duty, rejoined Rollo, do the others
have to pay more?
Yes, said Mr. George, in the end they do. At least I suppose so.
Whatever the amount of money may be that is required for the expenses
of government, if one man does not pay his share, the rest must make it
up, I suppose.
They did not look into my trunk at all, said Rollo. Why didn't
they? I might have had ever so many things hid away there.
I suppose they knew from the circumstances of the case, said Mr.
George, that you would not be likely to have any smuggled goods in
your trunk. They saw at once that you were a foreign boy, and knew that
you must be coming to Switzerland only to make a tour, and that you
could have no reason for wishing to smuggle any thing into the country.
They scarcely looked into my trunk at all.
While Mr. George and Rollo had been holding this conversation they
had returned to their places in the car, and very soon the train was in
motion to take them into the town.
Thus our travellers passed the Swiss frontier. In half an hour
afterwards they were comfortably established at a large and splendid
hotel called the Three Kings. The hotel has this name in three
languages, English, French, and German, as people speaking those
several languages come, in almost equal numbers, to Switzerland. Thus
when you leave the station you may, in your directions to the coachman,
say you wish to go to the Three Kings, or to the Trois Rois, or to the
Drei Koenige, whichever you please. They all mean the same hotelthe
best hotel in Basle.
CHAPTER III. BASLE.
The city of Basle stands upon the banks of the Rhine, on the
northern frontier of Switzerland. The waters of the Rhine are gathered
from hundreds of roaring and turbid torrents which come out, some from
vast icy caverns in the glaciers, some from the melting debris of
fallen avalanches, some from gushing fountains which break out suddenly
through crevices in the rocks or yawning chasms, and some from dark and
frightful ravines on the mountain sides, down which they foam and
tumble perpetually, fed by vast fields of melting snow above. The
waters of all these torrents, being gathered at last into one broad,
and deep, and rapid stream, flow to a vast reservoir called the Lake of
Constance, where they repose for a time, or, rather, move slowly and
insensibly forward, enjoying a comparative quiescence which has all the
characteristics and effects of repose. The waters enter this reservoir
wild and turbid. They leave it calm and clear; and then, flowing
rapidly for one hundred miles along the northern frontier of
Switzerland, and receiving successively the waters of many other
streams that have come from hundreds of other torrents and have been
purified in the repose of other lakes extending over the whole northern
slope of Switzerland, they form a broad and rapid river, which flows
swiftly through Basle, and then, turning suddenly to the northward,
bids Basle and Switzerland farewell together.
And then where does it go? said Rollo to Mr. George when his uncle
had explained this thus far to him.
Straight across the continent to the North Sea, said Mr. George.
Thus the whole northern slope of Switzerland is drained by a system
of waters which, when united at Basle, form the River Rhine.
The morning after Mr. George and Rollo arrived at Basle they were
looking out upon the River Rhine from the windows of the hotel.
What a swift river! said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George.
And how blue the water is! continued Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George. The water of the streams which come from
the Swiss mountains is turbid at first and very gray from the grinding
up of the rocks in the moraines and glaciers and by the
What is a moraine? asked Rollo.
I will explain it to you one of these days, said Mr. George, when
you come to see one.
And a glacier, said Rollo; what is that?
I will explain that to you, too, some other time, said Mr. George,
but not now; for the breakfast will come in in a minute or two.
Well, said Rollo, I can hear while I am eating my breakfast.
That may be, replied Mr. George; but I cannot lecture very well
while I am eating my breakfast.
Rollo laughed. I did not think of that, said he.
What queer boats! continued Rollo, looking out again upon the
river. And there is a long bridge leading over to the other side. May
I go out and walk over on that bridge after breakfast?
Yes, said Mr. George, you may go any where you please.
But suppose I should get lost, said Rollo. What should I do
I don't know, said Mr. George, unless you should ask somebody to
tell you the way to the Three Kings.
But perhaps they would not understand English, said Rollo.
Then you must say Trois Rois,[3a] which is the French name
for the hotel, rejoined Mr. George.
But perhaps they would not understand French, said Rollo.
No, replied Mr. George; I think it probable they would not; for
people talk German generally in this part of Switzerland. In that case
you must ask the way to Drei Koenige.[3b]
Here the waiter came in with the breakfast. It consisted of a pot of
coffee, another of boiled milk, an omelette, some excellent cakes, and
some honey. There was a long table extending up and down the room,
which was a very large and handsome apartment, and there were besides
several round tables in corners and in pleasant places near the
windows. The breakfast for Mr. George and Rollo was put upon one of the
round tables; and, in sitting down to it, Rollo took pains to place
himself in such a manner that he could look out the window and see the
water while he was eating.
What a dreadful river that would be to fall into! said Rollo. It
runs so swift and looks so angry!
Yes, said Mr. George. It runs swift because the descent is very
great. Switzerland is very high; and the water, in running from it,
flows very swiftly.
I did not know that Switzerland was all high, said Rollo. I knew
that the mountains were high; but the valleys must be low.
No, said Mr. George; it is all high. The bottoms of the valleys
are higher than the tops of the mountains in many other countries. In
going into Switzerland, we go up hill nearly all the way; and so, even
when we are at the bottom of the deepest valleys in Switzerland, we are
up very high. There is Chamouni, for example, which is a deep valley
near the foot of Mont Blanc. The bottom of that valley is six or seven
times as high as the top of the Palisades on the North River.
O, uncle George! exclaimed Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George; and it is so with all the Swiss valleys;
and, accordingly, the water that comes down through them has a great
descent to make in getting to the sea. Thus there are a great many
falls, and cascades, and rapids; and, even in those places where the
rivers run smoothly, the current is very swift and very strong.
While Mr. George and Rollo were eating their breakfast the attention
of Rollo was occupied partly by the prospect of the river as he saw it
through the open window, and partly by the various groups of travellers
who were constantly coming into the room, or going out, or taking their
breakfasts in little parties at the tables. Some who had finished their
breakfasts were looking at maps and guide books which they had spread
out before them on the tables. The room was very large, and very
beautiful; and, as it was lighted on the back side by a row of wide and
lofty windows which looked out upon the river, it wore a very bright
and cheerful expression. At one end of it were glass doors, which led
into another room very similar to this, as it likewise had windows
looking out upon the river. This room was used as a sort of sitting
room and reading room. There was a table in the centre, with
newspapers, some French, some English, and some German, lying upon it.
Rollo determined to go into this room as soon as he had finished his
breakfast to see who was there and what they were doing.
Rollo, said Mr. George, after a short pause, do you wish to
travel in Switzerland intelligently or blindly?
What do you mean by that? asked Rollo.
Why, do you wish to understand something of the general features of
the country first, so as to know always, as we go travelling on, where
you are, and where you are going, and what you are to expect to see, or
would you rather not trouble yourself at all about this, but take
things as they come along, and enjoy them as you see them, without
thinking or caring what is to come next.
Which is the best way? asked Rollo.
Either is a very good way, replied Mr. George. There is a
pleasure in understanding and anticipating, and there is also a
pleasure in wondering what is to come next and meeting with surprises.
You can take your choice.
Rollo reflected a moment, and then he said that he thought he should
like best to understand.
Very well, said Mr. George. Then I will explain to you the
general features of Switzerland. Switzerlandor at least that portion
of it which is the chief scene of the rambles of tourists and
travellersconsists substantially of a long and deep valley, extending
from east to west through the centre, and bordered by a range of
mountains on each side. The range of mountains on the northern side of
this valley is, of course, towards Germany; the one on the southern
side is towards Italy. On the north side of the northern range of
mountains is a broad slope of land, extending a hundred miles towards
the German frontier. On the southern side of the southern range of
mountains is a steep and narrow slope, extending to the Italian
Thus we may say, continued Mr. George, that Switzerland consists
substantially of a broad northern slope of land and a narrow southern
slope, with a deep valley between them. Do you understand this?
Yes, said Rollo. If I had some damp sand, and a little wooden
shovel, I think I could make it.
People do make models of the Swiss valleys and mountains, said Mr.
George. In fact, they have maps of Switzerland, embossed with all the
mountains in relief; and I wish very much that we had one here to look
There is one here, said Rollo, his face brightening up very
luminously as he spoke. I saw it hanging up in the gallery, and I did
not know what it was. It must be that. I'll go and show it to you after
I am very glad, said Mr. George. I wished to see one very much.
We will go and see it immediately after breakfast. But now let me tell
you a little more about the country. You must not imagine that the
northern slope, as I called it, is one smooth and uniform surface of
descending land. There are mountains, and valleys, and lakes, and
precipices, and waterfalls, and every other variety of mountain scenery
scattered all over it, making it a most picturesque and romantic
region. It is, however, on the whole, a slope. It begins with
comparatively smooth and level land on the north and it terminates in a
range of lofty mountain crests on the south; and you have to go over
this crest somewhere, by some of the steep and difficult passes that
cross it, to get into the central valley. We are on the margin of this
slope now. When we leave here and strike into the heart of Switzerland
we shall be gradually ascending it. I am going first to a place called
Interlachen, which is in a deep valley far up this slope, just under
the ridge of mountains. Interlachen is surrounded, in fact, by
mountains, and a great many pleasant excursions can be made from it. We
shall stop there a few days and make excursions, and then cross over by
some of the mountain passes into the valley.
Well, said Rollo, in a tone of great satisfaction. I shall like
that; I should like to go over a mountain pass. Shall we go in a
carriage, or on horseback.
That depends upon which of the passes we take, said Mr. George.
Some of them are carriage roads, some are bridle paths; and you ride
over on mules or horses. Others are too steep and dangerous to ride
over in any way. You have to go on foot, climbing up zigzag paths cut
out of the rock, and over great patches of snow that horses and mules
would sink into.
Let's go in one of those, said Rollo, straightening himself up.
Sometimes the path becomes narrower and narrower, continued Mr.
George, until it is finally lost among the rocks, and you have to
clamber around the point of some rocky cliff a thousand feet in the
air, with scarcely any thing but the jagged roughness of the rocks to
Yes, sir, said Rollo, eagerly. Yes, sir. Let's go there. That's
just the kind of road I want to go in.
Well, we'll see, said Mr. George. The first thing is to go to
Interlachen. That is in the heart of the mountains, and very near the
passes which lead over into the valley. When we get there we will study
the guide book and the maps and determine which way to go.
And after you get into the valley, said Rollo, shall you go
across it, and go over the mountains on the other side, into Italy?
I don't know, said Mr. George. Perhaps we shall not have time. I
may think it is best to spend the time in rambling about among the
mountains and glaciers near the head of the valley, where I believe is
to be found the most stupendous scenery in all Switzerland.
The breakfast was now nearly finished, though the process of eating
it had been a good deal impeded by the conversation, so large a share
of it having fallen to Mr. George. Mr. George, however, explained to
Rollo that their first day's journey from Basle would be south, towards
Berne, the capital of the countrya city which was situated near the
centre of the northern slope which Mr. George had described.
Do we go by a railway? asked Rollo.
No, said Mr. George; by a diligence.
[Footnote 3a-3b: Mr. George, in speaking these words, did not
pronounce them as you would suppose from the manner in which they are
written. He pronounced them very much as if they were spelled Tru-ah
Ru-ah. In the same manner, the German words, Drei Koenige, he
pronounced as if they were spelled Dhrai Ker-nig-ger.]
CHAPTER IV. THE DILIGENCE.
A diligence is a sort of stage coach used in France and Switzerland,
and generally on the continent of Europe. It is constructed very
differently, however, from an American stage coach, being divided into
four distinct compartments. Rollo had seen a diligence in Paris, and so
he could understand very easily the conversation which ensued between
himself and his uncle in respect to the seats which they should take in
the one in which they were to travel to Berne. In order, however, to
enable the reader of this book to understand it, I must here give a
brief description of this kind of vehicle. The engraving on page 77 is
a very faithful representation of one of them. There are three windows
in the side of it. Each of these windows leads to a different
compartment of the coach. In addition to these three compartments,
there is, over the foremost of these, on the top of the coach, another,
making four in all. This compartment on the top is called the
These coaches are so large that they have a conductor. The man who
drives sometimes sits on a small seat placed in front of the banquette,
and sometimes he rides on one of the horses. In either case, however,
he has nothing to do but to attend to his team. The passengers and the
baggage are all under the conductor's care.
The compartment immediately beneath the banquette, which is the
front compartment of the body of the coach, is called the coupe.
The coupe extends across the whole coach, from one side to the other;
but it is quite narrow. It has only one seat,a seat facing the
horses,with places upon it for three passengers. There are windows in
front, by which the passengers can look out under the coachman's seat
when there is a coachman's seat there. The doors leading to the coupe
are in the sides.
The compartment immediately behind the coupe is called the
interior. It is entirely separate from the coupe. There are two
seats, which extend from one side of the coach to the other, and have
places upon them for three passengers each, making six in all. The
three passengers who sit on one of these seats must, of course, ride
with their backs to the horses. The doors leading to the interior are
in the sides. In fact, the interior has within exactly the appearance
of a common hackney coach, with seats for six passengers.
Behind the interior is the fourth compartment, which is called the
rotonde. It is like a short omnibus. The door is behind, and the
seats are on the sides. This omnibus compartment is so short that there
is only room for three people on each side, and the seats are not very
Very genteel people, who wish to be secluded and to ride somewhat in
style, take the coupe. The seats in the coupe are very comfortable, and
there is a very good opportunity to see the country through the front
and side windows. The price is much higher, however, for seats in the
coupe than in any other part of the diligence.
The mass of common travellers generally take places in the interior.
The seats there are comfortable, only there is not a very good
opportunity to see the country; for there are only two windows, one on
each side, in the top of the door.
People who do not care much about the style in which they travel,
but only desire to have the best possible opportunity to view the
country and to have an amusing time, generally go up to the banquette.
The places here are cheaper than they are even in the interior, and
very much cheaper than they are in the coupe.
The cheapest place of all, however, is in the rotonde, which is the
omnibus-like compartment, in the end of the diligence, behind. This
compartment is generally filled with laborers, soldiers, and servants;
and sometimes nurses and children are put here.
The baggage is always stored upon the top of the diligence, behind
the banquette, and directly over the interior and the rotonde. It is
packed away very carefully there, and is protected by a strong leather
covering, which is well strapped down over it. All these things you see
plainly represented in the engraving.
We now return to the conversation which was held between Rollo and
Mr. George at the close of their breakfast.
I have got some letters to write after breakfast, said Mr. George,
and I should like to go directly to my room and write them. So I wish
you would find out when the diligence goes next to Berne, and take
places in it for you and me.
Well, said Rollo, I will; only how shall I do it? Where shall I
I don't know any thing about it, replied Mr. George. The guide
book says that there is a diligence from Basle to Berne; and I suppose
there is an office for it somewhere about town. Do you think you can
I'll try, said Rollo. But how do we take seats in it? Is there a
book for us to write our names in, with the place where they are to
call for us?
I do not know any thing about it, said Mr. George. All I know is,
that I want to go to Berne with you some way or other in the diligence,
and I wish to have you plan and arrange it all.
Well, said Rollo, I will, if I can find out. Only tell me what
places I shall take.
I don't care particularly about that, replied Mr. George; only
let it be where we can see best. It must be either in the coupe or in
the banquette. We can't see at all, scarcely, in the other
Well, said Rollo, I should like to be where I can see. But would
you rather it would be in the coupe, or in the banquette?
That is just as you please, replied Mr. George. There are some
advantages in being in the banquette.
What are they? asked Rollo.
There are four advantages, replied Mr. George. First, it is up
very high, and is all open, so that you have a most excellent chance to
Yes, said Rollo. I shall like that.
The second advantage, said Mr. George, is, that it costs less.
The places in the banquette are quite cheap.
Yes, said Rollo. I like that. So we can save some of our money.
The third advantage, continued Mr. George, is, that we have a
great deal better opportunity to hear talking there. There are usually
five persons in that part of the coachthe coachman, the conductor,
and three passengers. That is, there will be one passenger besides you
and me. He will probably be talking with the conductor part of the
time, and the conductor will be talking with the coachman, and we shall
be amused by hearing what they say.
But there are six persons in the interior, said Rollo, to
True, replied Mr. George; but, then, they are usually not so
sociable there as they are up on the banquette. Besides, the noise of
the wheels on the hard gravel roads is so loud there that we cannot
hear very well. Then, moreover, when we stop to change horses, the
hostlers and postilions come out, and our coachman and conductor often
have a great deal of amusing conversation with them, which we can hear
from the banquette; but we could not hear it, or see the process of
harnessing and unharnessing, from the interior, nor even very well from
Well, said Rollo. I like that. But that makes only three
advantages. You said there were four.
Yes, said Mr. George. But as to the fourth, I do not know whether
you will consider it an advantage or not.
What is it? said Rollo. I've no doubt but I shall.
Why, in getting up and down to and from the banquette you will have
a great deal of hard climbing to do.
Yes, said Rollo. I shall like that. They are all advantagesvery
great advantages indeed.
So Rollo fully determined in his own mind that he would take places
on the banquette. He thought that there was one disadvantage in that
part of the coach; and that was, that in case of storm the rain would
drive in directly upon them; but he found in the end that an excellent
provision was made against this contingency.
The young gentlemen had now finished their breakfasts; and so they
rose and went out to what Rollo called the gallery, to see the embossed
map of Switzerland which he said that he had seen hanging there. The
plan of this hotel was very peculiar. In the centre of it was a very
large, open hall, almost like a court, only it was covered above with a
roof and lighted by a skylight. Around this hall there was, in each
story, an open gallery, with a railing on one side, over which you
could look down to the floor below; and on the other side, at short
intervals, there were doors leading to the various apartments. Between
these doors, and against the walls, were hanging maps, plans, pictures,
and other embellishments, which gave to these galleries a very
attractive appearance. Here and there, too, on the different stories,
there were sofas or other seats, with persons sitting upon them. Some
were sewing, and some were attending children who were playing near. At
the two ends of the hotel there were broad staircases connected with
these galleries and leading from one to the other. Besides the
galleries there were long corridors, extending each way from the centre
of the building to ranges of apartments situated in the wings. The
hotel, in fact, was very spacious, and it was very admirably arranged.
Rollo conducted Mr. George to the third story; and there, hanging
against the wall, he found the embossed map of Switzerland which he had
described. Mr. George and Rollo took this map down from its nail, and,
seating themselves upon a settee which was near, they held it before
them and examined it very attentively for some time. Mr. George showed
Rollo the great central valley of Switzerland, with the ranges of
mountains on each side of it. He showed him, too, the great slope of
land which extended over the whole northern part of Switzerland. It was
bounded on the north by the River Rhine and the frontier, and on the
south by the great range of mountains which separated it from the
valley. He showed him, too, the numerous lakes which were scattered
over the surface of it.
You see, said he, that the waters which come out from the
glaciers and the snow fields, and down through the chasms and ravines
in the mountain sides, flow on till they come to some valley or place
of comparatively low land; and they spread all over this depression,
and flow into it more and more until they fill it up and make a lake
there. When the lake is full the surplus waters run off clear wherever
they find a channel.
Is that the way the lakes are formed? asked Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George. You will see that it is so when we get up
Up to them? said Rollo. You mean down to them.
No, said Mr. George. The lakes are up quite high. Many of them
are far up the sides of the mountains. The water, in leaving them, runs
very rapidly, showing that there is a great descent in the land where
they are flowing. Sometimes, in fact, these streams and rivers, after
they leave the lakes, form great cataracts and cascades in getting down
to the level country below.
But now, continued Mr. George, I must go to my writing, and you
may see what you can do about the diligence.
So Mr. George went away towards his room, leaving Rollo to hang up
the embossed map and then to determine how he should go to work to
ascertain what he was to do.
Rollo found less difficulty than he had anticipated in procuring
places in the diligence. He first inquired of the clerk, at the office
of the hotel. The clerk offered to send a porter with him to show him
the way to the diligence office; but Rollo said that he would prefer to
go himself alone, if the clerk would tell him in what part of the town
So the clerk gave Rollo the necessary direction, and Rollo went
He found the diligence office very easily. In fact, he recognized
the place at once when he came near it, by seeing several diligences
standing before it along the street. He entered under an archway. On
entering, he observed several doors leading to various offices, with
inscriptions over each containing the names of the various towns to
which the several diligences were going. At length he found BERNE.
Rollo did not know precisely in what way the business at such an
office was to be transacted; but he had learned from past experience
that all that was necessary in order to make himself understood in such
cases was, to speak the principal words that were involved in the
meaning that he was intending to convey, without attempting to make
full and complete sentences of them. In cases where he adopted this
mode of speaking he was accustomed usually to begin by saying that he
could not speak French very well.
Accordingly, in this instance he went to the place where the clerk
was sitting and said,
I do not speak French very well. Diligence to Berne. Two places.
Yes, yes, said the clerk. I understand very well.
The clerk then told him what the price would be of two seats on the
banquette, and Rollo paid the money. The clerk then made out and signed
two very formal receipts and gave them to Rollo.
Rollo walked back towards the hotel, studying his receipts by the
way; but he could not understand them, as they were in the German
CHAPTER V. RIDE TO BERNE.
At length the time arrived for the departure of our two travellers
from Basle. A porter from the hotel carried their trunks to the
diligence office, while Rollo and Mr. George walked. When they got to
the place they found the diligence in the archway, and several men were
employed in carrying up trunks and carpet bags to the top of it and
stowing them away there. In doing this they ascended and descended by
means of a long step ladder. The men took Mr. George's trunk and
Rollo's and packed them away with the rest. There were several persons
who looked like passengers standing near, waiting, apparently, for the
diligence to be ready.
Among them were two children, a girl and a boy, who seemed to be
about Rollo's age. They were plainly but neatly dressed. They were
sitting on a chest. The boy had a shawl over his arm, and the girl had
a small morocco travelling bag in her hand.
The girl looked a moment at Rollo as he came up the archway, and
then cast her eyes down again. Her eyes were blue, and they were large
and beautiful and full of meaning. There was a certain gentleness in
the expression of her countenance which led Rollo to think that she
must be a kindhearted and amiable girl. The boy looked at Rollo too,
and followed him some time with his eyes, gazing at him as he came up
the archway with a look of interest and curiosity.
It was not yet quite time for the diligence to set out. In fact, the
horses were not yet harnessed to it; and during the interval Rollo and
Mr. George stood by, watching the process of getting the coach ready
for the journey, and contrasting the appearance of the vehicle, and of
the men employed about it, and the arrangements which they were making,
with the corresponding particulars in the setting off of a stage coach
as they had witnessed it in America. While doing this Rollo walked
about the premises a little; and at length, finding himself near the
two children on the chest, he concluded to venture to accost the boy.
Are you going in this diligence? said he, speaking in French.
Yes, replied the boy.
So am I, said Rollo. Can you speak English?
Yes, said the boy. He spoke the yes in English.
Are you going to Berne? asked Rollo.
I don't know, said the boy.
The girl, who had been looking at Rollo during this conversation,
here spoke, and said that they were going to Berne.
We are going in that diligence, said she.
So am I, said Rollo. I have got a seat on the banquette.
Yes, rejoined the boy. I wished to have a seat on the banquette,
so that I could see; but the seats were all engaged before my father
went to the office; so we are going in the coupe; but I don't like it
half so well.
Nor I, said the girl.
Where is your father? asked Rollo.
He is gone, replied the boy, with mother to buy something at a
shop a little way from here. Lottie and I were tired, and so we
preferred to stay here. But they are coming back pretty soon.
Are you all going to ride in the coupe? said Rollo; because,
there will not be room. There is only room for three in the coupe.
I know it, said Lottie; but then, as two of us are children,
father thought that we could get along. Father had a plan for getting
Adolphus a seat in the interior; but he was not willing to go there,
because, he said, he could not see.
Just at this moment the father and mother of Adolphus and Lottie
came up the archway into the court yard where the diligence was
standing. The horses had been brought out some minutes before and were
now nearly harnessed. The gentleman seemed to be quite in a hurry as he
came up; and, seeing that the horses were nearly ready, he said,
Now, children, get in and take your places as soon as possible.
So they all went to the coach, and the gentleman attempted to open
the door leading to the coupe. It was fastened.
Conductor, said he, speaking very eagerly to the conductor, who
was standing near, open this door!
There is plenty of time, said the conductor. There is no need of
However, in obedience to the request of the gentleman, the conductor
opened the door; and the gentleman, helping his wife in, first,
afterwards lifted the children in, and then got in himself. The
conductor shut the door.
Come, uncle George, said Rollo, is not it time for us to get up
to our places?
No, said Mr. George. They will tell us when the proper time
So Mr. George and Rollo remained quietly standing by the side of the
diligence while the hostlers finished harnessing the horses. Rollo
during this time was examining with great interest the little steps and
projections on the side of the coach by which he expected that he and
Mr. George were to climb up to their places.
It turned out in the end, however, that he was disappointed in his
expectation of having a good climb; for, when the conductor was ready
for the banquette passengers to take their places, he brought the step
ladder and planted it against the side of the vehicle, and Mr. George
and Rollo went up as easily as they would have gone up stairs.
When the passengers were seated the step ladder was taken away, and
a moment afterwards the postilion started the horses forward, and the
ponderous vehicle began to move down the archway, the clattering of the
horses' hoofs and the lumbering noise of the wheels sounding very loud
in consequence of the echoes and reverberations produced by the sides
and vaulting of the archway. As soon as the diligence reached the
street the postilion began to crack his whip to the right and left in
the most loud and vehement manner, and the coach went thundering on
through the narrow streets of the town, driving every thing from before
it as if it were a railway train going express.
[Illustration: THE DILIGENCE AT THE OFFICE.]
Uncle George, exclaimed Rollo, they have forgotten the
Rollo was, in fact, quite concerned for a few minutes lest the
conductor should have been left behind. He knew where this official's
proper seat was; namely, at the left end of the banquettethat is, at
the right hand, as seen in the engraving; and as he was not there, and
as he knew that all the other seats were full, he presumed, of course,
that he had been left behind. He was relieved of these fears, however,
very soon; for, to his great astonishment, he suddenly perceived the
head of the conductor coming up the side of the coach, followed
gradually by the rest of his body as he climbed up to his place. Rollo
wondered how he could manage to get on and climb up, especially as the
coach was at this time thundering along a descending portion of the
street with a speed and uproar that was terrific.
Rollo, though at first very much astonished at this performance of
the conductor, afterwards ceased to wonder at it; for he found that the
conductor could ascend and descend to and from his seat at any time
without any difficulty, even while the horses were going at the top of
their speed. If the snapper of the coachman's whip got caught in the
harness so that he could not liberate it, as it often did on the road,
the conductor would climb down, run forward to the horses, set the
snapper free, fall back to the coach, catch hold of the side and climb
up, the coachman cracking his whip as soon as it was freed, and urging
on his horses to a gallop, without troubling himself at all to consider
how the conductor was to get up again.
But to return to the story. When Rollo found that the conductor was
safe he amused himself by looking to the right and left into the
windows of the houses at the second story. His seat was so high that he
could do this very easily. Many of these windows were open, and persons
were sitting at them, sewing or reading. At some of them groups of
children were standing. They were looking out to see the diligence go
by. The street was so narrow that Rollo found himself very near these
persons as he passed by.
A little nearer, said he to his uncle George, and I could shake
hands with them.
In a very few minutes the coach passed under a great arched gateway
leading through the wall of the city, and thence over a sort of
drawbridge which spanned the moat. Immediately afterwards it entered a
region of smooth, green fields, and pretty rural houses, and gardens,
which presented on every side very charming pictures to the view.
Now, uncle George, said Rollo, won't we have a magnificent ride?
Rollo was not disappointed in his anticipations. He found the ride
to Berne a very magnificent one indeed. The road was smooth and hard as
a floor. From side to side it was flat and level, and all the ascents
which it made were so gradual that the horses trotted on at their full
speed, without any cessation, sweeping around long and graceful curves,
which brought continually into view new landscapes, each one, as it
seemed, more varied and beautiful than the one which had preceded it.
From his lofty seat on the banquette Rollo looked abroad over a very
wide extent of country; and when the coach stopped at the villages or
post houses to change horses, he could look down with great advantage
upon the fresh teams as they were brought out and upon the groups of
hostlers and post boys employed in shifting the harness. He could hear,
too, all that they said, though they generally talked so fast, and
mingled their words with so much laughter and fun, that Rollo found
that he could understand but little.
[Illustration: THE DILIGENCE ON THE ROAD.]
Rollo was particularly struck, as he was whirled swiftly along the
road, by the appearance of the Swiss houses. They were very large, and
were covered with a very broad roof, which extended so far over the
walls on every side as to appear like a great, square, broad-brimmed
hat. Under this roof were platforms projecting from the house, one on
each story, like piazzas. These piazzas were very broad. They were
bordered by balustrades on the outer edge, and were used for sheds,
store houses, and tool rooms. There were wood piles, wagons, harrows,
and other farming implements, bundles of straw, and stones piled up
here and there upon them. In fact, the Swiss cottager has his house,
and barn, and sheds, and outhouses all under one roof; and what there
is not room for within he stores without upon these platforms.
These houses were situated in the midst of the most beautiful fields
and gardens, the whole forming a series of very charming landscapes.
The view, too, as seen in many places along the road, was bounded at
the south by a long line of snow-covered mountains, which glittered
brilliantly in the sun and imparted an inexpressible fascination to the
The diligence arrived at the city of Berne near night, and Mr.
George and Rollo remained in that city until the next day at noon.
Rollo was extremely interested in walking about the streets in the
morning. In almost all the streets of Berne the second stories of the
houses are extended over the sidewalks, the superincumbent masonry
being supported by massive square pillars, built up from the edge of
the sidewalk below, and by arches above. Of course, in going along the
sidewalk the passenger is sheltered by the roof above him, and in the
worst weather he can go all over the city without being exposed to the
rain excepting at the street crossings. This arrangement is a very
convenient one, certainly, for rainy weather; but it gives the streets
a very gloomy and forbidding appearance at other times.
Still Rollo was very much amused in walking along under these
arcades; the more so because, in addition to the shops in the buildings
themselves, there were usually stalls and stands, between and around
the pillars, filled with curious things of all sorts, which were for
sale; so that in walking along he had a display of goods on both sides
of him. These goods consisted of toys, books, pictures, tools,
implements, and curiosities, including a multitude of things which
Rollo had never seen or heard of before.
Berne is famous for bears. The bear is, in fact, the emblem of the
city, and of the canton, or province, in which Berne is situated. There
is a story that in very ancient times, when Berchtold, the original
founder of the city, was beginning to build the walls, a monstrous bear
came out of the woods to attack him. Berchtold, with the assistance of
the men who were at work with him on the walls, killed the bear. They
gloried greatly in this exploit, and they preserved the skin and claws
of the bear for a long time as the trophy of their victory. Afterwards
they made the bear their emblem. They painted the figure of the animal
on their standards. They made images and effigies of him to ornament
their streets, and squares, and fountains, and public buildings. They
stamped the image of him on their coins; and, to this day, you see
figures of the bear every where in Berne. Carved images of Bruin in
every attitude are for sale in the shops; and, not contented with these
lifeless symbols, the people of Berne for a long time had a pit, or
den, similar to those in the Garden of Plants at Paris, where they kept
living specimens for a long time. This den was just without the
gates of the city. The guide book which Rollo read as he was coming
into Berne, to see what it said about the city, stated that there was
one bear in the garden at that time; and he wished very much to go and
see it, but he did not have a very convenient opportunity.
[Footnote 4: See Rollo in Paris for an account of these dens for
bears in the Garden of Plants.]
CHAPTER VI. THE VALLEY OF THE AAR.
After spending several hours in Berne and wondering greatly at the
many strange things which they saw there, Mr. George and Rollo took
their passage in another diligence for Thun, which was a town still
farther in towards the heart of Switzerland on the way to Interlachen.
It took only three or four hours to go to Thun. The town, they found,
was small, compact, surrounded by walls, and very delightfully situated
at the end of a long lake, which extended from that point very far in
among the mountains. There was one thing very remarkable about Thun, at
least it seemed very remarkable to Rollo, although he found afterwards
that it was a common thing in Switzerland; and that was, that the
hotels were all outside the town.
There was reason in this; for the townthough it was a very curious
and romantic place, with a church on a terraced hill at one end of it,
surrounded with a beautifully ornamented church yard, with seats and
bowers here and there at the corners of it, which overlooked the
country and commanded charming views of the lake and mountainswas
still, in the main, very contracted and confined, and hotels would not
be pleasantly situated in it. A little beyond the town, however, on the
margin of the lake, was a delightful region of gardens and pleasure
grounds, with four or five very handsome hotels among them. Mr. George
and Rollo stopped to dine at one of these hotels. From the windows of
it there were the most brilliant and charming prospects of the lake and
the surrounding mountains on one side, and on the other a view of the
town and of two or three very pretty little steamboats lying at a pier.
Behind the hotel the land very soon ascended rapidly, the ascent
terminating at last in crags and precipices which towered at a vast
height above. Among these heights Rollo saw a sort of pavilion, built
on a small projecting point of a hill, four or five hundred feet,
perhaps, above the hotel.
Do you think any body can get up there? said he to his uncle
They were standing, when Rollo said this, on the back piazza of the
hotela very beautiful place, looking out upon green lawns and
Certainly, said Mr. George. They would not have built such a
lookout as that without making a way to get to it.
Then let's go up there, said Rollo, and see what we can see.
Very well, said Mr. George; lead the way, and I will follow.
Well, come, said Rollo, moving on. I am not sure that I can find
the way; but I'll try.
So saying, Rollo chose from among several broad and smooth gravel
walks which he saw diverging from the house in various directions,
among the groves and copses of shrubbery that ornamented the grounds
behind it, the one which seemed to turn most nearly in the right
direction; and, running along before, he was soon out of sight of the
hotel. The path meandered gracefully among shrubs, and flowers, and
pretty green openings a little way, and then began to ascend the hill,
sometimes in a winding course and sometimes by zigzags. There were
seats placed here and there at proper points for rest. At length both
Rollo and Mr. George were surprised to find coming suddenly into view a
small building, which stood in a very romantic and picturesque spot
about half way up the hill, which proved, on examination, to be a
little chapel. It was an Episcopal chapel, built here by the proprietor
of the hotel for the accommodation of his English guests on Sundays.
There are a great many English travellers in Switzerland, more perhaps
from that nation than from any other, and the English people are very
much pleased with the opportunity to worship God, when in foreign
lands, according to the rites and usages of their own national church.
Americans, on the other hand, when travelling, generally prefer to
attend churches in which the worship is conducted according to the
usages of the people in whose country they chance to be.
After looking at the little English chapel as long as they wished,
our two travellers went on up the path. The ascent soon became very
steep, and the way led through close woods, which allowed of no
opportunity to see, except that now and then a brief glimpse was
obtained of the hotel, with the gardens and grounds around it, and the
gentlemen and ladies walking upon the piazza in the rear of it.
After about a quarter of an hour of hard climbing up a wild and
romantic but very smooth and well made path the two young gentlemen
reached the pavilion. Here a boundless and most magnificent prospect
was opened before them. Rollo was bewildered with astonishment and
delight; and even Mr. George, who was usually very cool and quiet on
such occasions, seemed greatly pleased. I shall not, however, attempt
to describe the view; for, though a fine view from an elevated point
among lakes and mountains is a very exciting thing actually to witness
and enjoy, it is by no means an interesting thing to describe.
What a magnificent prospect! said Rollo.
Rollo, as he said this, was looking down at the more near and
distinctly detailed objects which were to be seen directly below him at
the bottom of the hill, towards the rightsuch as the hotels, the
gardens, the roads, the pier, the steamboats, and the town. The
attention of Mr. George, however, was attracted by the more grand and
sublime features of the view which were to be seen in the other
directionthe lake, the forests, and the mountains. The mountains that
were near were darkened by the groves of evergreens that clothed their
sides, and some of them were made more sombre still by the shadows of
floating clouds; while over these there towered the glittering summits
of more distant ranges, white with everlasting snow.
How cold they look! said Mr. George; how icy cold!
How little they look! how very little! See, uncle George, said
Rollo, pointing; they are really good large steamboats, and you would
think they were only playthings.
There are some men walking along the road, continued Rollo, just
like little dots.
See the banks of snow on that mountain, Rollo! said Mr. George.
They look like drifts of dry, light snow, as they shine in the sun on
a bitter cold winter day.
Why doesn't it melt? asked Rollo.
Because it is up so high, said Mr. George. As you go up in the
air from the surface of the earth the air grows colder and colder,
until at last, when you get up to a certain height, it is cold enough
Is it so every where? asked Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George. If you were to put some water into a vial
and tie it to the tail of a kite, and send it up into the air high
enough, the water would freeze, and when it came down you would
find the water turned into ice.
Should I? asked Rollo. Would it if I were to send the kite up in
Yes, said Mr. George, any where, all over the earth.
I mean to try it, said Rollo.
You can't try it very well, replied Mr. George; for you could not
easily send a kite up high enough. It would take a very long time.
How long? asked Rollo.
Why, that depends upon what part of the earth it is that you make
the experiment in, replied Mr. George. At the equator, where the sun
is very hot, you would have to go up very high. In temperate regions,
as in Switzerland or in most parts of America, you would not have to go
up so high; and farther north, near the pole, it is only necessary to
go up a very little way.
And how high must we go up in Switzerland? asked Rollo.
About eight or nine thousand feet, I believe, said Mr. George.
Some of the Alpine summits are sixteen thousand feet high; and so the
ice and snow lie upon the upper portions of them all the time.
The young gentlemen remained some time longer in the pavilion,
gazing upon the stupendous scenery around them, and looking down the
lake which lay before them in the bottom of a deep and narrow valley
and extended in among the mountains much farther than they could see.
We are going along that lake, said Rollo are we not?
Yes, said Mr. George; it is the Lake of Thun.
We are going in one of the steamboats that are lying at the pier,
are we not? said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George; unless you would prefer going along the
Is there a road along the shore? asked Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George; there are two, I believe, one on each side
of the lake. These roads run along at the foot of the mountains, far
enough, however, above the level of the lake to enable us to enjoy
excellent views of it. But we cannot see the mountains from it as well
as we can from the lake itself.
Then, said Rollo, if we go by the road we can see the lake best;
and if we go by the steamboat we can see the mountains best.
Yes, said Mr. George; that is the state of the case, exactly.
Then I think we had better go by the boat, said Rollo; for I
would rather see the mountains.
So would I, rejoined Mr. George. Besides, there will be plenty of
occasions on which we shall be obliged to go by land; therefore we had
better go by water when we can, in order to have a variety. And, if we
are going in the steamer, we must go back to the hotel; for it is
almost time for the steamer to sail.
So Mr. George led the way, and Rollo followed, down the path by
which they had come up. As they thus walked down they continued the
conversation which they had commenced in the pavilion.
What shall we come to when we get to the end of the lake? asked
Rollo. Does the lake reach to the end of the valley?
No, said Mr. George. The valley is about fifty miles long, I
suppose, and this lake is only about fifteen miles long; but there is
another in the same valley a little farther on. The valley is the
valley of the Aar. That is the name of the stream which flows through
it. It is one of the most remarkable valleys in Switzerland. I have
been studying it in the guide book and on the map. It is about fifty
miles long, and it winds in a serpentine manner between two lofty
ranges of mountains, so steep and high that it is not possible to make
any road over them.
None at all? asked Rollo.
No, replied Mr. George. They cannot make any roadnothing but
bridle paths. The mountains, too, that border the valley along the
sides close across at the head of it; so that if you go up the valley
at all you cannot get out of it without climbing over the mountains;
unless, indeed, you are willing to come back the same way that you
I would rather climb over the mountains, said Rollo.
So would I, said Mr. George. The beginning of this valley,
continued Mr. George is in the very heart of the most mountainous part
of Switzerland, and the River Aar commences there in prodigious
cascades and waterfalls, which come down over the cliffs and precipices
or gush out from enormous crevices and chasms, and make quite a river
at the very beginning.
Can we go there and see them? said Rollo.
Yes, replied Mr. George; I mean to go and see them. The place is
called Meyringen. The cascades and waterfalls at Meyringen are
wonderful. One of them, the guide book says, makes dreadful work in
times of flood. It comes out from a great chasm in the rocks in the
face of a precipice at a vast height from the ground; and, in times of
flood, it brings down such a mass of sand, gravel, stones, rubbish, and
black mud as sometimes to threaten to overwhelm the village.
Is there a village there? asked Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George; the village of Meyringen. This waterfall
comes down out of the mountain just back of the village; and they have
had to build up an immense wall, a quarter of a mile long and twenty or
thirty feet high, to keep the torrent of mud and sand out of the
streets. Once it broke through and filled up the church four feet deep
all over the floor with mud, and gravel, and stones. Some of the stones
were bigger than your head.
Rollo was very much interested in hearing this account of the Fall
of Alpbach,for that was the name of this unmanageable cataract,and
expressed a very strong desire to go to Meyringen and see it.
We will go, said Mr. George. It lies at the head of the valley of
the Aar, which we are now entering. The River Aar, after being formed
by these cataracts and cascades, flows through the valley, making two
long lakes in its course. This Lake of Thun is the second one. The
other is the Lake of Brienz. The upper end of the Lake of Thun is a few
miles only from the lower end of the Lake of Brienz; and Interlachen is
between the two.
[Illustration: THE LAKE SHORE.]
About an hour after this conversation our two travellers might have
been seen sitting together upon the deck of the little steamer which
was paddling its way merrily along the lake, and occupying themselves
in viewing and talking about the extraordinary spectacle presented by
the slopes of the mountains which bordered the lake on either side, and
which seemed to shut the lake in, as it were, between two immense walls
Rollo was extremely interested, as he sailed along, in viewing these
mountain slopes, exploring the landscape carefully in every part,
studying out all the objects of interest which it containedthe
forests, the cultivated fields, the great Swiss cottages, the
pasturages, the little chalets, the zigzag paths leading up and down,
and all the other picturesque and striking characteristics of a Swiss
The slopes were very beautiful, and densely inhabited; and they were
really very steep, though they looked much steeper than they were, as
all hills and slopes do to a person looking upon them from below and
It seems, said Rollo to Mr. George, as if two broad strips of
green country were set up on edge for us to see them as we are sailing
Yes, said Mr. George; with all the houses, farms, pasturages,
flocks of sheep, and herds of cattle clinging to the sides of them.
The chief charm, however, of the views which presented themselves to
the young travellers as they glided along the lake was the glittering
refulgence of the snow-clad peaks which appeared here and there through
openings among the nearer mountains. The view of these peaks was
occasionally obstructed by masses of vapor which were floating along
the tops of the mountain ranges; but still they were seen frequently
enough to fill the minds both of Rollo and Mr. George with wonder and
After gazing at this scenery for nearly an hour until his curiosity
in respect to it was in some measure satisfied, Rollo began to turn his
attention to his fellow-travellers on board the steamer. These
travellers were seated singly or in groups about the deck of the little
vessel, and they were all tourists, journeying for pleasure. Here was a
small group of young menstudents apparentlywith knapsacks on their
backs, spyglasses strapped to their sides, and maps and guide books in
their hands. There was a young lady seated with her father, both
dressed for the mountains, and gazing with curiosity and wonder on the
views presented along the shores of the lake. In another place was a
family of parents and childrenthe father studying a map which he had
spread open upon his knees, the mother sitting by his side, silent and
thoughtful, as if her mind was far away, dwelling, perhaps, upon the
little ones which had been left at home because they were too young to
be taken on such a tour. Some of these people were talking French, some
English, and some German. Rollo looked about upon these various groups
for a time, and then said,
Are all these travellers going to see the mountains, do you
suppose, uncle George?
Yes, said Mr. George; I suppose so. There is very little
travelling in Switzerland except pleasure travelling. I presume they
are all going to see the mountains and the other scenery of the
I should not think that the ladies could climb up the mountains
very high, said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George, they can; for in almost all places where
people wish to go there are excellent paths. Where it is too steep for
roads the mountaineers make zigzag paths, not only for travellers, but
for themselves, in order that they may go up and down to their chalets
and pasturages. The people of the country have been making and
improving these paths now for two thousand years or more, and they have
got them at last in very excellent condition; so that, except the
steepness, they are very easy and very comfortable.
Why, uncle George, said Rollo, look!
So saying, Rollo pointed his finger out over the water. The
mountains had suddenly and entirely disappeared. The vapors and clouds
which they had seen floating among them half an hour before had become
dense and continuous, and had, moreover, settled down over the whole
face of the country in such a manner as to shut out the mountains
wholly from view. Nothing was to be seen but the water of the lake,
with a margin of low and level but beautiful country along the shores
In fact, there was nothing but the smallness of the steamer and the
costumes and character of the passengers to prevent Rollo and Mr.
George from supposing that they were steaming it from New York to
Albany, up the North River, in America.
CHAPTER VII. INTERLACHEN.
About eight o'clock on the morning after our travellers arrived at
Interlachen Rollo awoke, and, rising from his bed, he walked to the
window and looked out, expecting to find before him a very grand
prospect of Alpine scenery; but there was nothing of the kind to be
Before the house was a garden, with a broad gravel walk leading out
through it to the road. On each side of this walk were parterres of
shrubbery and flowers. There were also two side approaches, wide enough
for roads. They came from the main road through great open gates, at a
little distance to the right and left of the hotel. The main road,
which was broad and perfectly level, extended in front of the house;
and two or three Swiss peasants, in strange costume, were passing by.
Beyond were green and level fields, with fruit and forest trees rising
here and there among them, forming a very rich and attractive
landscape. The sky was covered with clouds, though they were very
fleecy and bright, and in one place the sun seemed just ready to break
I thought Interlachen was among the mountains, said Rollo to
himself; and here I am in the middle of a flat plain.
I will go and see uncle George, he continued after a moment's
pause, and ask him what it means.
So Rollo opened the door of his room and went out into what in
America would be called the entry, or hall. He found himself in a long
corridor paved with stone, and having broad stone staircases leading up
and down from it to the different stories. In one place there was a
passage way which led to a window that seemed to be on the back side of
the hotel. Rollo went there to look out, in order to see what the
prospect might be in that direction.
He saw first the gardens and grounds of the hotel, extending for a
short distance in the rear of the building, and beyond them he obtained
glimpses of a rapidly running stream. The water was very turbid. It
boiled and whirled incessantly as it swept swiftly along the channel.
Ah, said Rollo, that is the River Aar, I suppose, flowing through
Interlachen from one lake to the other. I thought I should see it
somewhere here; but I did not know whether it was before the hotels or
A short distance beyond the stream Rollo saw the lower part of a
perpendicular precipice of gray rock. All except the lower part of this
precipice was concealed by the fogs and clouds, which seemed to settle
down so low upon the landscape in all directions as to conceal almost
every thing but the surface of the ground.
I wonder how high that precipice is, said Rollo to himself.
I wonder whether I could climb up to the top of it, he continued,
still talking to himself, if I could only find some way to get across
the river? There must be some way, I suppose. Perhaps there is a
Rollo then turned his eye upward to look at the clouds. In one place
there seemed to be a break among them, and the fleecy masses around the
break were slowly moving along. The place where Rollo was looking was
about the middle of the sky; that is, about midway between the horizon
and the zenith. While Rollo was looking at this break, which seemed,
while he looked at it, to brighten up and open more and more, he saw
suddenly, to his utter amazement, a large green tree burst into view in
the midst of it, and then disappear again a moment afterwards as a
fresh mass of cloudy vapor drifted over. Rollo was perfectly bewildered
with astonishment. To see a green tree, clear and distinct in form and
bright with the beams of the sun which just at that instant caught upon
it, breaking out to view suddenly high up among the clouds of the sky,
seemed truly an astonishing spectacle. Rollo had scarcely recovered
from the first emotion of his surprise before the clouds parted again,
wider than before, and brought into view, first a large mass of
foliage, which formed the termination of a grove of trees; then a
portion of a smooth, green field, with a flock of sheep feeding upon
it, clinging apparently to the steep slope like flies to a wall; and
finally a house, with a little blue smoke curling from the chimney.
Rollo was perfectly beside himself with astonishment and delight at
this spectacle; and he determined immediately to go and ask his uncle
to come and see.
He accordingly left the window and made all haste to his uncle's
door. He knocked. His uncle said, Come in. Rollo opened the door. His
uncle was standing by the window of his room, looking out. This was on
the front side of the hotel.
Uncle George! said Rollo, Uncle George! Come and look out with me
at the back window. There is a flock of sheep feeding in a green field
away up in the sky!
Come and look here! said Mr. George.
So Rollo went to the window where Mr. George was standing, and his
astonishment at what he saw was even greater than before. The clouds
had separated into great fleecy masses and were slowly drifting away,
while through the openings that appeared in them there were seen bright
and beautiful views of groves, green pasturages, smiling little hamlets
and villages, green fields, and here and there dark forests of
evergreen trees, with peaks of rocks or steep precipices peeping out
among them. At one place, through an opening or gap in the nearer
mountains, there could be seen far back towards the horizon the broad
sides and towering peak of a distant summit, which seemed to be wholly
formed of vast masses of ice and snow, and which glittered with an
inexpressible brilliancy under the rays of the morning sun.
That is the Jungfrau, said Mr. George.
That great icy mountain? said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George.
Can we get up to the top of it? asked Rollo.
No, said Mr. George. People tried for more than a thousand years
to get to the top of the Jungfrau before they could succeed.
And did they succeed at last? asked Rollo.
Yes, replied Mr. George. You see there is a sort of goatlike
animal, called the chamois, which the peasants and
mountaineers are very fond of hunting. These animals are great
climbers, and they get up among the highest peaks and into the most
dangerous places; and the hunters, in going into such places after
them, become at last very expert in climbing, and sometimes they become
ambitious of surpassing each other, and each one wishes to see how high
he can get. So one time, about twenty-five years ago, a party of six of
these hunters undertook to get to the top of the Jungfrau, and at last
they succeeded. But it was a dreadfully difficult and dangerous
operation. It was fifteen miles' steep climbing.
Not steep climbing all the way, said Rollo.
No, said Mr. George, I suppose not all the way. There must have
been some up-and-down work, and some perhaps tolerably level, for the
first ten miles; but the last five must have been a perpetual scramble
among rocks and ice and over vast drifts of snow, with immense
avalanches thundering down the mountain sides all around them.
I wish I could go and see them, said Rollo.
You can go, replied Mr. George. There is a most excellent chance
to see the face of the Jungfrau very near; for there is another
mountain this side of it, with a narrow valley between. This other
mountain is called the Wengern Alp. It is about two thirds the height
of the Jungfrau, and is so near it that from the top of it, or near the
top, you can see the whole side of the Jungfrau rising right before you
and filling half the sky, and you can see and hear the avalanches
thundering down the sides of it all day long.
Rollo was quite excited at this account, and was very eager to set
off as soon as possible to go up the Wengern Alp.
How do we get there? asked he.
You see this great gap in the near mountains, said Mr. George,
Yes, said Rollo.
That gap, continued Mr. George, is the mouth of a valley. I have
been studying it out this morning in my guide book. There is a good
carriage road leading up this valley. It is called the valley of the
Luetschine, because that is the name of the river which comes down
through it. In going up this valley for the first two or three miles we
are going directly towards the Jungfrau.
Yes, said Rollo. That I can see very plainly.
This was indeed very obvious; for the Jungfrau, from the windows of
the hotel, was seen through the great gap in the near mountains which
Mr. George had pointed out as the mouth of the valley of the
Luetschine. In fact, had it not been for that gap in the near
mountains, the great snow-covered summit could not have been seen from
the hotels at all.
We go up that valley, continued Mr. George, about three miles,
and then we come to a fork in it; that is, to a place where the valley
divides into two branches, one turning off to the right and the other
to the left. Directly ahead there is an enormous precipice, I don't
know how many thousand feet high, of bare rock.
One of these branch valleys, continued Mr. George, leads up to
one side of the Wengern Alp and the Jungfrau, and the other to the
other side. We may take the right-hand valley and go up five or six
miles to Lauterbrunnen, or we may take the left-hand branch and go up
to Grindelwald. Which way do you think we had better go?
I do not know, said Rollo. Can we get up to the Wengern Alp from
Yes, said Mr. George. We can go up from one of these valleys, and
then, after stopping as long as we choose on the Alp, we can continue
our journey and so come down into the other, and thus see them both.
One of the valleys is famous for two great glaciers that descend into
it. The other is famous for immense waterfalls that come down over the
precipices at the sides.
Let us go first and see the waterfalls, said Rollo.
Well, said Mr. George, we will. We shall have to turn to the
right in that case and go to Lauterbrunnen. When we get to
Lauterbrunnen we shall have to leave our carriage and take horses to go
up to the Wengern Alp. The way is by a steep path, formed in zigzags,
right up the sides of the mountains.
How far is it? asked Rollo.
I don't know precisely, said Mr. George; but it is a good many
miles. It takes, at any rate, several hours to go up. We can stop at
the Wengern Alp as long as we please and look at the Jungfrau and the
avalanches, and after that go on down into the valley of Grindelwald on
the other side, and so come home.
But how can we get our carriage? asked Rollo.
O, they send the carriage back, I believe, said Mr. George, from
Lauterbrunnen to the great precipice at the fork of the valley.
Mr. George, having thus finished his account of the topography of
the route to the Wengern Alp, went away from the window and returned to
the table where he had been employed in writing some letters just
before Rollo had come in. Rollo was left at the window. He leaned his
arms upon the sill, and, looking down to the area below, amused himself
with observing what was going on there.
There were several persons standing or sitting upon the piazza.
Presently he heard the sound of wheels. A carriage came driving up
towards the door. A postilion was riding upon one of the horses. There
were two servants sitting on the box; and there was a seat behind,
where another servant and the lady's maid were sitting. The carriage
stopped, the door was opened, and a lady and gentleman with two boys,
all dressed like travellers, got out, and were ushered into the house
with great civility by the landlord. The baggage was taken off and
carried in, and then the carriage was driven away round the corner.
This was an English nobleman and his family, who were making the
tour of Switzerland, and were going to spend a few days at Interlachen
on the way.
As soon as the bustle produced by this arrival had subsided, Rollo's
attention was attracted by a very sweet musical sound which seemed to
be produced by something coming along the road.
What can that be, I wonder? said he to himself.
Then in a little louder tone, but without turning round,
Uncle George, here is some music coming. What do you think it is?
Mr. George paused a moment to listen, and then went on with his
The mystery was soon solved; for, in a few moments after Rollo had
spoken, he saw a large flock of goats coming along. These goats all had
bells upon their necks,or at least a great many of them were so
provided,and these bells, having a soft and sweet tone, produced,
when their sounds were blended together, an enchanting harmony. The
goats walked demurely along, driven by one or two goatherds who were
following them, and soon disappeared behind the trees and shrubbery.
Very soon after their forms had disappeared from view the music of
their bells began to grow fainter and fainter until it ceased to be
It was a flock of goats going by, said Rollo.
Rollo next heard voices; and, turning in the direction whence the
sounds proceeded, he saw a party of young men coming up towards the
door of the hotel along the gravelled avenue. This was a party of
German students making the tour of Switzerland on foot. They had
knapsacks on their backs, and stout walking sticks and guide books in
their hands. They came up talking and laughing together, full of
hilarity and glee; and yet some of them seemed very tired. They had
walked six miles that morning, and were now going to stop at this hotel
for breakfast. Rollo listened to their conversation; but, as it was in
the German language, he could not understand one word that they were
Dear me! said he; I wish that every body would talk either French
As soon as the students had passed on into the inn Rollo heard
another carriage coming. He looked and found that it was a char a
banc. A char a banc is a small, one-horse carriage, which looks
upon the outside very much like what is called a carryall in America,
only it is much narrower. It differs very much, however, from a
carryall within; for it has only a seat for two persons, and that is
placed sideways, with the end to the horses. You ride in it, therefore,
sideways, as you do in an omnibus, only in an omnibus there are two
seats, one on each side, and the door is at the end; whereas in the
char a banc there is a seat only on one side, and the door is opposite
to it on the other. The seat is large and comfortable, being very much
like a short sofa. Some people, therefore, describe a char a banc as a
sofa placed endwise on wheels.
The char a banc stopped before the door of the hotel; and the
coachman, getting down from his seat in front, opened the door. A very
dignified-looking gentleman stepped out; and, after standing a moment
on the piazza to give some directions about his portmanteau, he went
into the office of the hotel.
Rollo, looking down from the window of his uncle George's room,
could see all these things very plainly; for the roof which protected
the piazza from the rain was up at the top of the hotel, and therefore
did not interfere with his view.
After having made the above-described observations from the window,
Rollo began to think that he would like to go down below to the door,
where he thought he could see what was going on to better advantage.
Uncle George, said he, when are you going down to breakfast?
In about half an hour, said Mr. George. I have got another letter
Then I believe I will go down now, said Rollo, and wait there
till you come.
Very well, said Mr. George; and please order breakfast, and then
it will be all ready when I get my letter finished.
What shall I order? asked Rollo.
I don't know, said Mr. George. I don't know what it is the
fashion to have for breakfast here. Ask them what they have got, and
then choose for yourself and me.
So Rollo, putting on his cap, went down stairs.
He stood for a little time on the piazza, looking at the strange
dresses of the people that were sitting or standing there and listening
to the outlandish sounds of the foreign languages which they were
speaking. At a little distance out upon the gravel walk, near the
shrubbery, were a party of guides waiting to be hired for mountain
excursions. Some of these guides were talking with travellers, forming
plans, or agreeing upon the terms on which they were to serve. Rollo,
after observing these groups a little time, walked along the piazza
towards a place where he saw an open door in another large building,
which, being connected with the piazza, evidently belonged to the
hotel. In fact, it was a sort of wing. As there were people going in
and out at this door, Rollo thought that he could go in too.
He accordingly walked along in that direction. Before he reached the
door he came to a place which, though open to the air, was covered with
a roof, and was so enclosed by the buildings on three sides as to make
quite a pleasant little nook. It was ornamented by various shrubs and
flowers which grew from tubs and large pots arranged against the sides
of it. There were several tables in this space, with chairs around
them, and one or two parties of young men were taking their breakfast
This will be a good place for uncle George and me to have our
breakfast, said Rollo to himself, and we can see the Jungfrau all the
time while we are eating it.
Rollo then went on into the open door. He found himself ushered into
a very large and beautiful drawing room. There were a great many sofas
arranged around the sides of it, on which parties of ladies and
gentlemen were sitting talking together; while other gentlemen, their
hats in their hands, were standing before them or walking about the
floor. There was no carpet; but the floor was formed of dark wood
highly polished, and was very beautiful. There was a fireplace in one
corner of this room; but there was no fire in it. No fire was
necessary; for it was a warm and pleasant morning.
On the front side of the room was a row of windows looking out
towards the road. On the back side was a door opening to another large
room, where Rollo saw a table spread and several people sitting at it
eating their breakfast.
Ah, said Rollo, there is the dining room! I will go in there and
see what we can have for breakfast.
So he walked through the drawing room and entered the room beyond.
He found that this inner room was quite a spacious apartment; and there
were one or two long tables extending the whole length of it.
There were various separate parties sitting at these tables taking
breakfast. Some were just beginning. Some had just ended. Some were
waiting for their breakfast to be brought in. Near where Rollo was
standing two gentlemen were seated at the table, with a map of
Switzerland spread before them; and, instead of being occupied with
breakfast, they were planning some excursion for the day.
Rollo looked out a vacant place at the table and took his seat. A
waiter came to him to know what he would have.
I want breakfast for two, said Rollo, my uncle and myself. What
have you got for us?
The waiter repeated a long list of very nice things that he could
give Rollo and his uncle for breakfast. From among these Rollo chose a
beef steak, some hot rolls and butter, some honey, and some coffee. The
waiter went out to prepare them.
In about ten minutes Mr. George came down. He took his seat by the
side of Rollo; and very soon afterwards the waiter brought in what had
been ordered. Rollo liked the breakfast very much, especially the
It is very customary to have honey for breakfast in Switzerland.
[Footnote 5: The zenith is the point in the heavens that is directly
over our heads.]
[Footnote 6: Pronounced Yoongfrow.]
[Footnote 7: Pronounced shamwawh.]
CHAPTER VIII. LAUTERBRUNNEN.
Come, uncle George, said Rollo, make haste. We are all ready.
Rollo was sitting in a char a banc when he said this, at the door of
the hotel. He and his uncle were going to make an excursion up the
valley of the Luetschine to Lauterbrunnen, and thence to ascend the
Wengern Alp, in order to see the avalanches of the Jungfrau; and Rollo
was in haste to set out.
Come, uncle George, said he, make haste.
Mr. George was coming out of the hotel slowly, talking with the
The guide will take you to Lauterbrunnen, said the landlord, in
the char a banc; and then he will send the char a banc back down the
valley to the fork, and thence up to Grindelwald to wait for you there.
You will go up to the Wengern Alp from Lauterbrunnen; and then, after
staying there as long as you please, you will keep on and come down to
Grindelwald on the other side, where you will find the carriage ready
for you. But it seems to me that you had better take another horse.
No, said Mr. George. One will do very well.
Mr. George had a carpet bag in his hand. It contained nightdresses,
to be used in case he and Rollo should conclude to spend the night on
the mountain. He put the carpet bag into the carriage, and then got in
himself. The landlord shut the door, and the coachman drove away. Thus
they set out on their excursion.
This excursion to the Wengern Alp was only one of many similar
expeditions which Rollo and Mr. George made together while they were in
Switzerland. As, however, it is manifestly impossible to describe the
whole of Switzerland in so small a volume as this, I shall give a
narrative of the ascent of the Wengern Alp as a sort of specimen of
these excursions. I think it better that I should give a minute and
particular account of one than a more vague and general, and so less
satisfactory, account of several of them.
Rollo had taken the precaution to have the curtains of the char a
banc rolled up, so that he and Mr. George could see out freely on all
sides of them as they rode along.
The view which was first presented to their observation was that of
the lawns and gardens in the midst of which the hotels were situated.
These grounds were connected together by walkssome straight, others
windingwhich passed through bowers and gateways from one enclosure to
the other. In these walks various parties were strolling; some were
gathering flowers, others were gazing at the mountains around, and
others still were moving quietly along, going from one hotel to another
for the purpose of taking a pleasant morning walk or to make visits to
their friends. The whole scene was a bright and very animated one; but
Rollo had not time to observe it long; for the char a banc, after
moving by a graceful sweep around a copse of shrubbery, passed out
through a great gateway in the road, and the hotels and all that
pertained to them were soon hidden from view by the great trees which
grew along the roadside before them.
The coachman, or rather the guide,for the man who was driving the
char a banc was the one who was to act as guide up the mountain when
they reached Lauterbrunnen,turned soon into a road which led off
towards the gap, or opening, in the nearer mountains which Mr. George
and Rollo had seen from the windows of the hotel. The road was very
smooth and level, and the two travellers, as they rode along, had a
fine view of the fields, the hamlets, and the scattered cottages which
bordered the road on the side to which their faces were turned.
This char a banc, said Rollo, is an excellent carriage for seeing
the prospect on one side of the road.
Yes, said Mr. George; but there might be the most astonishing
spectacle in Switzerland on the other side without our knowing any
thing about it unless we turned round expressly to see.
So saying, Mr. George turned in his seat and looked at that side of
the road which had been behind them. There was a field there, and a
young girl about seventeen years oldwith a very broad-brimmed straw
hat upon her head, and wearing a very picturesque costume in other
respectswas seen digging up the ground with a hoe.
The blade of the hoe was long, and it seemed very heavy. The girl
was digging up the ground by standing upon the part which she had
already dug and striking the hoe down into the hard ground a few inches
back from where she had struck before.
Do the women work in the fields every where in Switzerland, Henry?
said Mr. George.
The guide's name was Henry. He could not speak English, but he spoke
French and German. Mr. George addressed him in French.
Yes, sir, said Henry; in every part of Switzerland where I have
In America the women never work in the fields, said Mr. George.
Never? asked Henry, surprised.
No, said Mr. George; at least, I never saw any.
What do they do, then, asked Henry, to spend their time?
Mr. George laughed. He told Rollo, in English, that he did not think
he had any satisfactory answer at hand in respect to the manner in
which the American ladies spent their time.
I pity that poor girl, said Rollo, hoeing all day on such hard
ground. I think the men ought to do such work as that.
The men have harder work to do, said Mr. George; climbing the
mountains to hunt chamois, or driving the sheep and cows up to the
upper pasturages in places where it would be very difficult for women
We must turn round every now and then, said Rollo, and see what
is behind us, or we may lose the sight of something very
Yes, said Mr. George; I heard of a party of English ladies who
once went out in a char a banc to see a lake. It happened that when
they came to the lake the road led along the shore in such a manner
that the party, as they sat in the carriage, had their backs to the
water. So they rode along, looking at the scenery on the land side and
wondering why they did not come to the lake. In this manner they
continued until they had gone entirely around the lake; and then the
coachman drove them home. When they arrived at the hotel they were
astonished to find that they had got home again; and they called out to
the coachman to ask where the lake was that they had driven out to see.
He told them that he had driven them all round it!
Rollo laughed heartily at this story, and Henry would probably have
laughed too if he had understood it; but, as Mr. George related it in
English, Henry did not comprehend one word of the narration from
beginning to end.
In the mean time the horse trotted rapidly onward along the valley,
which seemed to grow narrower and narrower as they proceeded; and the
impending precipices which here and there overhung the road became more
and more terrific. The Luetschine, a rapid and turbid stream, swept
swiftly alongsometimes in full view and sometimes concealed. Now and
then there was a bridge, or a mill, or some little hamlet of Swiss
cottages to diversify the scene. Mr. George and Rollo observed every
thing with great attention and interest. They met frequent parties of
travellers returning from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnensome on foot,
some on horseback, and others in carriages which were more or less
spacious and elegant, according to the rank or wealth of the travellers
who were journeying in them.
At length they arrived at the fork of the valley. Here they gazed
with astonishment and awe at the stupendous precipice which reared its
colossal front before them and which seemed effectually to stop their
On drawing near to it, however, it appeared that the valley divided
into two branches at this point, as has already been explained. The
road divided too. The branch which led to the right was the road to
Lauterbrunnen. The one to the left Rollo supposed led to Grindelwald.
To make it sure, he pointed to the left-hand road and said to Henry,
Yes, sir, said Henry, to Grindelwald.
The scenery now became more wild than ever. The valley was narrow,
and on each side of it were to be seen lofty precipices and vast slopes
of mountain landsome smooth and green, and covered, though very
steep, with flocks and herds, and others feathered with dark evergreen
forests, or covered with ragged rocks, or pierced with frightful
chasms. Here and there a zigzag path was seen leading from hamlet to
hamlet or from peak to peak up the mountain, with peasants ascending or
descending by them and bearing burdens of every form and variety on
their backs. In one case Rollo saw a woman bringing a load of hay on
her back down the mountain side.
The valley, bordered thus as it was with such wild and precipitous
mountain sides, might have had a gloomy, or at least a very sombre,
expression, had it not been cheered and animated by the waterfalls that
came foaming down here and there from the precipices above, and which
seemed so bright and sparkling that they greatly enlivened the scene.
These waterfalls were of a great variety of forms. In some cases a thin
thread of water, like the jet from a fire engine, came slowly over the
brink of a precipice a thousand feet in the air, and, gliding smoothly
down for a few hundred feet, was then lost entirely in vapor or spray.
In other cases, in the depth of some deep ravine far up the mountain,
might be seen a line of foam meandering for a short distance among the
rocks and then disappearing. Rollo pointed to one of these, and then
said to Mr. George,
Uncle, look there! There is a short waterfall half way up the
mountain; but I cannot see where the water comes from or where it goes
No, said Mr. George. It comes undoubtedly from over the precipice
above, and it flows entirely down into the valley; but it only comes
out to view for that short distance.
Why can't we see it all the way? asked Rollo.
I suppose, said Mr. George, it may flow for the rest of the way
in the bottom of some deep chasms, or it may possibly be that it comes
suddenly out of the ground at the place where we see it.
Yes, said Rollo. I found a great stream coming suddenly out of
the ground at Interlachen.
Where, asked Mr. George.
Right across the river, said Rollo. I went over there this
How did you get over? said Mr. George.
I went over on a bridge, said Rollo. I took a little walk up the
road, and pretty soon I came to a bridge which led across the river. I
went over, and then walked along the bank on the other side. There was
only a narrow space between the river and the precipice. The ground
sloped down from the foot of the precipice to the water. I found
several very large springs breaking out in this ground. One of them was
very large. The water that ran from it made a great stream, large
enough for a mill. It came up right out of the ground from a great hole
all full of stones. The water came up from among the stones.
And where did it go to? asked Mr. George.
O, it ran directly down into the river. The place was rather steep
where it ran down, so that it made a cascade all the way.
I should like to have seen it, said Mr. George.
Yes, said Rollo; it was very curious indeed to see a little river
come up suddenly out of the ground from a great hole full of stones.
Talking in this manner about what they had seen, our travellers went
on till they came to Lauterbrunnen. They found a small village here, in
the midst of which was a large and comfortable inn. There were a number
of guides and several carriages in the yards of this inn, and many
parties of travellers coming and going. The principal attraction of the
valley, however, at this part of it, is an immense waterfall, called
the Fall of the Staubach, which was to be seen a little beyond the
village, up the valley. This is one of the most remarkable waterfalls
in all Switzerland. A large stream comes over the brink of a precipice
nearly a thousand feet high, and descends in one smooth and continuous
column for some hundreds of feet, when it gradually breaks, and finally
comes down upon the rocks below a vast mass of foam and spray.
Rollo and Mr. George could see this waterfall and a great many other
smaller ones which came streaming down over the faces of the
precipices, along the sides of the valley, as they came up in the char
a banc, before they reached the inn.
I don't see how such a large river gets to the top of such a high
hill, said Rollo.
That this question should have arisen in Rollo's mind is not
surprising; for the top of the precipice where the Staubach came over
seemed, in fact, the summit of a sharp ridge to any one looking up to
it from the valley below; and Rollo did not imagine that there was any
land above. The apparent wonder was, however, afterwards explained,
when our travellers began to ascend the mountain on the other side of
the valley that afternoon to go up to the Wengern Alp.
The guide drove the char a banc to the door of the inn, and Mr.
George and Rollo got out. They went into the inn and ordered dinner.
We are going to see the Staubach, said Mr. George to the waiter,
and we will be back in half an hour.
Very well, said the waiter; your dinner shall be ready.
So Mr. George and Rollo came out of the inn again in order to go and
see the waterfall.
They were beset at the door by a number of young men and boys, and
also by several little girls, some of whom wanted to sell them minerals
or flowers which they had gathered among the rocks around the
waterfall; and others wished to guide them to the place.
To the Staubach? To the Staubach? said they. Want a guide? Want a
They said this in the German language. Mr. George understood enough
of German to know what they meant; but he could not reply in that
language. So he said, in French,
No; we do not wish any guide. We can find the way to the Staubach
ourselves. There it is, right before our eyes.
Mr. George, while he was saying this, was taking out some small
change from his pockets to give to the children. He gave a small coin
apiece to them all.
Seeing this, the boys who had wished to guide him to the Staubach
became more clamorous than ever.
To the Staubach? said they. To the Staubach? Want a guide? Want a
Mr. George paid no further attention to them; but, saying Come,
Rollo, walked on.
The would-be guides followed him a short distance, still offering
their services; but, finding soon that Mr. George would not have any
thing more to say to them, they gradually dropped off and went back to
the inn to try their fortune with the next arrival.
Mr. George and Rollo walked on along a narrow road, which was
bordered by queer, picturesque-looking huts and cottages on either
hand, with gardens by the sides of them, in which women and girls were
hoeing or weeding. They met two or three parties of ladies and
gentlemen returning from the Staubach; and presently they came to a
place where, close to the side of the road, was a small shop, before
which a party of ladies and gentlemen had stopped, apparently to look
at something curious.
Mr. George and Rollo went to the place and found that it was a shop
for the sale of carved toys and images such as are made in many parts
of Switzerland to be sold to travellers for souvenirs of their tour
through the country. There were shelves put up on the outside of the
shop, each side of the door, and these shelves were covered with all
sorts of curious objects carved in white or yellow fir, or pine. There
were images of Swiss peasants with all sorts of burdens on their backs,
and models of Swiss cottages, and needle boxes, and pin cases, and
match boxes, and nut crackers, and groups of hunters on the rocks, or
of goats or chamois climbing, and rulers ornamented with cameo-like
carvings of wreaths and flowers, and with the word Staubach cut in
Rollo was greatly interested in this store of curiosities, so much
so, in fact, that for the moment all thoughts of the Staubach were
driven from his mind.
Let us buy some of these things, uncle George, said he.
And carry them over the Wengern Alp? said Mr. George.
Yes, said Rollo. They won't be very heavy. We can put them in the
Well, said Mr. George, you may buy one or two specimens if you
wish, but not many; for the guide has got the carpet bag to carry, and
we must not make it very heavy.
Or we can send them in the carriage round to Grindelwald, said
Rollo, and not have to carry them at all.
So we can, said Mr. George.
Rollo accordingly bought two Swiss cottages, very small ones, and a
nut cracker. The nut cracker was shaped like a man's fist, with a hole
in the middle of it to put the nut in. Then there was a handle, the end
of which, when the handle was turned, was forced into the hollow of the
fist by means of a screw cut in the wood, and this would crack the nut.
While Rollo was paying for his toys he felt a small hand taking hold
of his own, and heard a voice say, in English,
How do you do?
The English How do you do? is a strange sound to be heard in these
remote Swiss valleys.
Rollo turned round and saw a boy look up to him with a smile, saying
again at the same time,
How do you do?
In a moment Rollo recognized the boy whom he had seen at Basle in
the court yard of the diligence office while he had been waiting there
for the horses to be harnessed. His sister Lottie was standing near;
and she, as well as her brother, appeared to be much pleased at seeing
Rollo again. Rollo had a few minutes' conversation with his young
friends, and then they separated, as Rollo went on with his uncle to
see the waterfall; while they, having already been with their father
and mother to see it, went back to the inn.
Mr. George had recommended to Rollo not to buy too many specimens of
the carving, not only on account of the difficulty of transporting
them, but also because he thought that they would probably find a great
many other opportunities to purchase such things before they had
finished their rambles in Switzerland. He was quite right in this
supposition. In fact, Rollo passed three more stands for selling such
things on the way to the Staubach.
Mr. George and Rollo continued their walk along the road, looking up
constantly at the colossal column of water before them, which seemed to
grow larger and higher the nearer they drew to it. At length they
reached the part of the road which was directly opposite to it. Here
there was a path which turned off from the road and led up through the
pasture towards the foot of the fall. The entrance to this path was
beset by children who had little boxes full of crystals and other
shining minerals which they wished to sell to visitors for souvenirs of
Mr. George and Rollo turned into this path and attempted to advance
towards the foot of the fall; but they soon found themselves stopped by
the spray. In fact, the whole region all around the foot of the fall,
for a great distance, was so full of mist and driving spray that going
into it was like going into a rain storm. Mr. George and Rollo soon
found that they were getting thoroughly wet and that it would not do to
go any farther.
And so, said Rollo, in a disappointed tone, though we have taken
the pains to come all this way to see the waterfall, we can't get near
enough to see it after all.
Mr. George laughed.
I wish we had brought an umbrella, said Rollo.
An umbrella would not have done much good, replied Mr. George.
The wind whirls about so much that it would drive the spray upon us
whichever way we should turn the umbrella.
The path goes on a great deal nearer, said Rollo. Somebody must
go there, at any rate, without minding the spray.
Perhaps, said Mr. George, when the wind is in some other quarter,
it may blow the spray away, so that people can go nearer the foot of
the fall without getting wet. At any rate, it is plain that we cannot
go any nearer now.
Saying these words, Mr. George led the way back towards the road,
and Rollo followed him.
After retreating far enough to get again into a dry atmosphere, they
stopped and looked upward at the fall. It seemed an immense cataract
coming down out of the sky. After gazing at the stupendous spectacle
till their wonder and admiration were in some measure satisfied, they
returned to the inn, where they found an excellent dinner all ready for
them. While they were thus employed in eating their dinner, Henry was
engaged in eating his, with at least as good an appetite, in company
with the other guides, in the servants' hall.
[Footnote 8: See the map at the commencement of the first chapter.]
CHAPTER IX. THE WENGERN ALP.
It was about twelve o'clock when Rollo and Mr. George, having
finished their dinner, came out into the yard of the inn for the
purpose of setting out for the ascent of the mountain.
Well, Rollo, said Mr. George, now for a a scramble.
Thus far the road which the young gentlemen had travelled since
leaving Interlachen had been quite level and smooth, its course having
been along the bottom of the valley, which was itself quite level,
though shut in on both sides by precipitous mountains. Now they were to
leave the valley and ascend one of these mountain sides by means of
certain zigzag paths which had been made with great labor upon them, to
enable the peasants to ascend and descend in going to and from their
hamlets and pasturages.
The paths, though very steep and very torturous, are smooth enough
for horses to go up, though the peasants themselves very seldom use
horses. A horse would eat as much grass, perhaps, as two cows. They
prefer, therefore, to have the cows, and do without the horse. And so
every thing which they wish to transport up and down the mountain they
carry on their backs.
There were various other guides in the yard of the inn besides
Henry: some were preparing apparently for the ascent of the mountain
with other parties; others were bringing up carriages for people who
were going to return to Interlachen. Henry, when he saw Mr. George and
Rollo coming out, asked them if they were ready.
Yes, said Mr. George. Bring the horse. You shall ride first,
Mr. George was to have but one horse for himself and Rollo, and they
were to ride it by turns. He thought that both he himself and Rollo
would be able to walk half way up the mountain, and, by having one
horse between them, each could ride half the way.
Besides, it is less fatiguing, when you have a long and steep ascent
to make, to walk some portion of the way rather than to be on horseback
all the time.
There was another consideration which influenced Mr. George. Every
additional horse which should be required for the excursion would cost
about two dollars a day, including the guide to take care of him; and,
as Mr. George expected to spend at least two days on the excursion, it
would cost four dollars more to take two horses than to take only one.
And I think, said Mr. George to Rollo, after having made this
calculation, we had better save that money, and have it to buy
beautiful colored engravings of Swiss scenery with when we get to
I think so too, said Rollo.
So it was concluded to take but one horse with them, on the
understanding that each of the travellers was to walk half the way.
Rollo accordingly, when the horse was brought to the door, climbed
up upon his back with the guide's assistance, and, after adjusting his
feet to the stirrup, prepared to set out on the ascent. His heart was
bounding with excitement and delight.
When all was ready the party moved on, Rollo on the horse and Mr.
George and Henry walking along by his side. They proceeded a short
distance along the road, and then turned into a path which led towards
the side of the valley opposite to the Staubach. They soon reached the
foot of the slope, and then they began to ascend. The path grew more
and more steep as they proceeded, until at length it became very
precipitous; and in some places the horse was obliged to scramble up,
as it were, as if he were going up stairs. Rollo clung to his seat
manfully in all these places; and he would have been sometimes afraid
were it not that, in every case where there could be even any apparent
danger, Henry would come to his side and keep by him, ready to render
assistance at a moment's notice whenever any should be needed. In this
way the party moved slowly on up the face of the mountain, making many
short turns and windings among the rocks and going back and forth in
zigzags on the green declivities. Sometimes for a few minutes they
would be lost in a grove of firs, or pines; then they would come out
upon some rounded promontory of grass land or projecting peak of rocks;
and a few minutes afterwards they would move along smoothly for a time
upon a level, with a steep acclivity, rough with rocks and precipices
on one side, and an abrupt descent on the other down which a stone
would have rolled a thousand feet into the valley below.
Of course the view of the valley became more commanding and more
striking the higher they ascended. Rollo wished at every turn to stop
and look at it. He did stop sometimes, the guide saying that it was
necessary to do so in order to let the horse get his breath a little;
for the toil for such an animal of getting up so steep an ascent was
very severe. Rollo would have stopped oftener; but he did not like to
be left behind by his uncle George, who, being active and agile,
mounted very rapidly. Mr. George would often shorten his road very much
by climbing directly up the rocks from one turn of the road to the
other; while the horse, with Rollo on his back, was compelled to go
round by the zigzag.
At last, after they had been ascending for about half an hour, Mr.
George stopped, at a place where there was a smooth stone for a seat by
the side of the path, to wait for Rollo to come up; and, when Rollo
came, Mr. George took him off the horse to let him rest a little. The
view of the valley from this point was very grand and imposing. Rollo
could look down into it as you could look into the bed of a brook in
the country, standing upon the top of the bank on one side. The
village, the inn, the little cottages along the roadside, the river,
the bridges, and a thousand other objects, all of liliputian size, were
to be seen below; while on the farther side the streaming Staubach was
in full view, pouring over the brink of the precipice and falling in a
dense mass of spray on the rocks at the foot of them.
Rollo could understand now, too, where the fall of the Staubach came
from; for above the brink of the precipice, where the water came over,
there was now to be seen a vast expanse of mountain country, rising
steep, but not precipitously, far above the summit of the precipice,
and of course receding as it ascended, so as not to be seen from the
valley below. From the elevation, however, to which Rollo had now
attained, the whole of this vast region was in view. It was covered
with forests, pasturages, chalets, and scattered hamlets; and in the
valleys, long, silvery lines of water were to be seen glittering in the
sun and twisting and twining down in foaming cascades to the brink of
the precipice, where, plunging over, they formed the cataracts which
had been seen in the valley below. The Staubach was the largest of
these falls; and the stream which produced it could now be traced for
many miles as it came dancing along in its shining path down among the
ravines of the mountains.
I see now what makes the fall of the Staubach, said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George.
I should like to be on the brink of the precipice where it falls
over, said Rollo, and look down.
Yes, said Mr. George; so should I. I don't think that we could
get near enough actually to look down, but we could get near enough to
see the water where it begins to take the plunge.
After resting a suitable time at this place and greatly admiring and
enjoying the view, our party set out again. Rollo proposed that his
uncle should ride now a little way and let him walk; but Mr. George
preferred that Rollo should mount again. There was still nearly another
hour's hard climbing to do and a long and pretty difficult walk of
several miles beyond it, and Mr. George was very desirous of saving
Rollo's strength. It might perhaps be supposed, from the blunt manner
in which Mr. George often threw the responsibility upon Rollo when he
was placed in difficult emergencies and left him to act for himself,
that he did not think or care much for his nephew's comfort or
happiness. But this was by no means the case. Mr. George was very fond
of Rollo indeed. If he had not been fond of him he would not have
wished to have him for his companion on his tour. He was very careful,
too, never to expose Rollo to any real hardship or suffering; and his
apparently blunt manner, in throwing responsibilities upon the boy,
only amused him by making it appear that his uncle George considered
him almost a man.
Mr. George, knowing that the first part of the way from
Lauterbrunnen to the Wengern Alp was by far the most steep and
difficult, had accordingly arranged it in his own mind that Rollo
should ride until this steep part had been surmounted.
You may mount again now, Rollo, said he. I will walk a little
longer and take my turn in riding a little farther on.
So Rollo mounted; and there was now another hour of steep climbing.
The zigzags were sometimes sharp and short and at others long and
winding; but the way was always picturesque and the views became more
and more grand and imposing the higher the party ascended. At one time,
when Rollo had stopped a moment to let his horse breathe, he saw at a
turn of the path a few zigzags below him a little girl coming up, with
a basket on her back.
Rollo pointed to her and asked the guide, in French, who that girl
Henry said he did not know.
Henry, foolishly enough, supposed that Rollo meant to ask what the
girl's name was; and so he said that he did not know. But this was not
what Rollo meant at all. He had no particular desire in asking the
question to learn the child's name. What he wished to know was, what,
according to the customs of the country, would be the probable province
and function of such a sort of girl as that, coming alone up the
mountain in that way with a burden on her back. Henry, if he had
understood the real intent and meaning of the question, could easily
have answered it. The girl lived in a little hamlet of shepherds' huts
farther up the mountain, and had been down into the village to buy
something for her father and mother; and she was now coming home with
her purchases in the basket on her back. All this Henry knew very well;
but, when Rollo asked who the girl was, Henry thought he meant to ask
who she herself was individually; and so, as he did not know her
personally, he could not tell.
Travellers often get disappointed in this way in asking questions of
the natives of the country in which they are travelling. The people do
not understand the nature and bearing of the question, and they
themselves are not familiar enough with the language to explain what
they do mean.
The guide stood for a minute or two looking intently at the girl as
she slowly ascended the path, especially when she passed the angles of
the zigzag, for there she turned sometimes in such a manner as to show
her face more plainly.
No, said he, at length; I do not know her. I never saw her
before. But I'll ask her who she is when she comes up.
Uncle George! said Rollo, calling out very loudly to his uncle,
who was at some distance above.
Ay, ay, said Mr. George, responding.
Rollo attempted to look up to see where his uncle was standing; but
in doing this he had to throw his head back so far as to bring a fear
suddenly over him of falling from his horse. So he desisted, and
continued his conversation without attempting to look.
Here is a girl coming up the mountain with a basket on her back.
Come down and see her.
Come up here, said Mr. George, and we will wait till she comes.
So Rollo chirruped to his horse and started along again. In a few
minutes he reached the place where his uncle George was standing, and
there they all waited till the little girl came up.
Good morning, said the girl, as soon as she came near enough to be
heard. She spoke the words in the German language and with a very
pleasant smile upon her face.
The peasants in Switzerland, when they meet strangers in ascending
or descending the mountains, always accost them pleasantly and wish
them good morning or good evening. In most other countries, strangers
meeting each other on the road pass in silence. Perhaps it is the
loneliness and solitude of the country and the sense of danger and awe
that the stupendous mountains inspire that incline people to be more
pleased when they meet each other in Switzerland, even if they are
strangers, than in the more cheerful and smiling regions of France and
The guide said something to the girl, but Rollo could not understand
what it was, for he spoke, and the answer was returned, in German.
She says her name is Ninette, said Henry.
Rollo's attention was immediately attracted to the form of the
basket which Ninette wore and to the manner in which it was fastened to
her back. The basket was comparatively small at the bottom, being about
as wide as the waist of the girl; but it grew larger towards the top,
where it opened as wide as the girl's shouldersbeing shaped in this
respect in conformity with the shape of the back on which it was to be
[Illustration: THE MOUNTAIN GIRL.]
The side of the basket, too, which lay against the back was flat, so
as to fit to it exactly. The outer side was rounded. It was open at the
The basket was secured to its place upon the child's back and
shoulders by means of two flat strips of wood, which were fastened at
the upper ends of them to the back of the basket near the top, and
which came round over the shoulders in front, and then, passing under
the arms, were fastened at the lower ends to the basket near the
bottom. The basket was thus supported in its place and carried by means
of the pressure of these straps upon the shoulders.
Uncle George, said Rollo, I should like to have such a basket as
that and such a pair of straps to carry it by.
What would you do with it, asked Mr. George, if you had it?
Why, it would be very convenient, said Rollo, in America, when I
went a-raspberrying. You see, if I had such a basket as that, I could
bring my berries home on my back, and so have my hands free.
Yes, said Mr. George, that would be convenient.
Besides, said Rollo, it would be a curiosity.
That's true, replied Mr. George; but it would be very difficult
to carry so bulky a thing home.
After some further conversation it was concluded not to buy the
basket, but to ask the girl if she would be willing to sell the straps,
or bows, that it was fastened with. These straps were really quite
curious. They were made of some very hard and smooth-grained wood, and
were nicely carved and bent so as to fit to the girl's shoulders quite
Accordingly Mr. George, speaking in French, requested Henry to ask
the girl whether she would be willing to sell the straps. Henry
immediately addressed the girl in the German language, and after
talking with her a few minutes he turned again to Mr. George and Rollo
and said that the girl would rather not sell them herself, as they
belonged to her father, who lived about half a mile farther up the
mountain. But she was sure her father would sell them if they would
stop at his cottage as they went by. He would either sell them that
pair, she said, or a new pair; for he made such things himself, and he
had two or three new pairs in his cottage.
Very well, said Mr. George; let us go on.
Which would you rather have, said Mr. George to Rollo, as they
resumed their march, this pair, or some new ones?
I would rather have this pair, said Rollo.
They are somewhat soiled and worn, said Mr. George.
Yes, said Rollo; but they are good and strong; and as soon as I
get home I shall rub them all off clean with sand paper and then have
them varnished, so as to make them look very bright and nice; and then
I shall keep them for a curiosity. I would rather have this pair, for
then I can tell people that I bought them actually off the shoulders of
a little girl who was carrying a burden with them up the Alps.
In due time the party reached the little hamlet where Ninette lived.
The hamlet consisted of a scattered group of cabins and cow houses on a
shelving green more than a thousand feet above the valley. The girl led
the party to the door of her father's hut; and there, through the
medium of Henry as interpreter, they purchased the two bows for a very
small sum of money. They also bought a drink of excellent milk for the
whole party of Ninette's mother and then resumed their journey.
As they went on they obtained from time to time very grand and
extended views of the surrounding mountains. Whether they turned their
eyes above or below them, the prospect was equally wonderful. In the
latter case they looked down on distant villages; some clinging to the
hillsides, others nestling in the valleys, and others still perched,
like the one where Ninette lived, on shelving slopes of green pasture
land, which terminated at a short distance from the dwellings on the
brink of the most frightful precipices. Above were towering forests and
verdant slopes of land, dotted with chalets or broken here and there by
the gray rocks which appeared among them. Higher still were lofty
crags, with little sunny nooks among themthe dizzy pasturages of the
chamois; and above these immense fields of ice and snow, which pierced
the sky with the glittering peaks and summits in which they terminated.
Mr. George and Rollo paused frequently, as they continued their
journey, to gaze around them upon these stupendous scenes.
At length, when the steepest part of the ascent had been
accomplished, Mr. George said that he was tired of climbing, and
proposed that Rollo should dismount and take his turn in walking.
If you were a lady, said Mr. George, I would let you ride all the
way. But you are strong and capable, and as well able to walk as I
ambetter, I suppose, in fact; so you may as well take your turn.
Yes, said Rollo; I should like it. I am tired of riding. I would
rather walk than not.
So Henry assisted Rollo to dismount, and then adjusted the stirrups
to Mr. George's use, and Mr. George mounted into the saddle.
How glad I am to come to the end of my walking, said Mr. George,
and to get upon a horse!
How glad I am to come to the end of my riding, said Rollo, and to
get upon my feet!
Thus both of the travellers seemed pleased with the change. The road
now became far more easy to be travelled than before. The steepest part
of the ascent had been surmounted, and for the remainder of the
distance the path followed a meandering way over undulating land,
which, though not steep, was continually ascending. Here and there
herds of cattle were seen grazing; and there were scattered huts, and
sometimes little hamlets, where the peasants lived in the summer, to
tend their cows and make butter and cheese from their milk. In the fall
of the year they drive the cattle down again to the lower valleys; for
these high pasturages, though green and sunny in the summer and
affording an abundance of sweet and nutritious grass for the sheep and
cows that feed upon them, are buried deep in snows, and are abandoned
to the mercy of the most furious tempests and storms during all the
winter portion of the year. Our travellers passed many scattered
forests, some of which were seen clinging to the mountain sides, at a
vast elevation above them. In others men were at work felling trees or
cutting up the wood. Rollo stopped at one of these places and procured
a small billet of the Alpine wood, as large as he could conveniently
carry in his pocket, intending to have something made from it when he
should get home to America. The woodman, at Henry's request, cut out
this billet of wood for Rollo, making it of the size which Rollo
indicated to him by a gesture with his finger.
At one time the party met a company of peasant girls coming down
from the mountain. They came into the path by which our travellers were
ascending from a side path which seemed to lead up a secluded glen.
These girls came dancing gayly along with bouquets of flowers in their
hands and garlands in their hair. They looked bright and blooming, and
seemed very contented and happy.
They bowed very politely to Mr. George and to Rollo as they passed.
Guten abend, said they.
These are the German words for Good evening.
Guten abend, said both Mr. George and Rollo in reply.
The girls thus passed by and went on their way down the mountain.
Where have they been? asked Mr. George.
They have been at work gathering up the small stones from the
pasturages, I suppose, said Henry. Companies of girls go out for that
a great deal.
After getting upon the horse, Mr. George took care to keep behind
Rollo and the guide. He knew very well that if he were to go on in
advance Rollo would exert himself more than he otherwise would do,
under the influence of a sort of feeling that he ought to try to keep
up. While Rollo was on the horse himself, having the guide with him
too, Mr. George knew that there was no danger from this source, as any
one who is on horseback or in a carriage never has the feeling of being
left behind when a companion who is on foot by chance gets before him.
Consequently, while they were coming up the steep part of the mountain,
Mr. George went on as fast as he pleased, leaving Rollo and Henry to
come on at their leisure. But now his kind consideration for Rollo
induced him to keep carefully behind.
Now, Rollo, said he, you and Henry may go on just as fast or just
as slow as you please, without paying any regard to me. I shall follow
along at my leisure.
Thus Rollo, seeing that Mr. George was behind, went on very
leisurely, and enjoyed his walk and his talk with Henry very much.
Did you ever study English, Henry? said Rollo.
No, said Henry; but I wish I could speak English, very much.
Why? asked Rollo.
Because there are so many English people coming here that I have to
guide up the mountains.
Well, said Rollo, you can begin now. I will teach you.
So he began to teach the guide to say How do you do? in English.
This conversation between Rollo and Henry was in French. Rollo had
studied French a great deal by the help of books when he was at home,
and he had taken so much pains to improve by practice since he had been
in France and Switzerland that he could now get along in a short and
simple conversation very well.
While our party had been coming up the mountain, the weather, though
perfectly clear and serene in the morning, had become somewhat
overcast. Misty clouds were to be seen here and there floating along
the sides or resting on the summits of the mountains. At length, while
Rollo was in the midst of the English lesson which he was giving to the
guide, his attention was arrested, just as they were emerging from the
border of a little thicket of stunted evergreens, by what seemed to be
a prolonged clap of thunder. It came apparently out of a mass of clouds
and vapor which Rollo saw moving majestically in the southern sky.
Thunder! exclaimed Rollo, looking alarmed. There's thunder!
No, said Henry; an avalanche.
The sound rolled and reverberated in the sky for a considerable time
like a prolonged peal of thunder. Rollo thought that Henry must be
mistaken in supposing it an avalanche.
At this moment Rollo, looking round, saw Mr. George coming up, on
his horse, at a turn of the path a little way behind them.
Henry, said Mr. George, there is a thunder shower coming up; we
must hasten on.
No, said Henry; that was an avalanche.
An avalanche? exclaimed Mr. George. Why, the sound came out of
the middle of the sky.
It was an avalanche, said the guide, from the Jungfrau. See! he
added, pointing up into the sky.
Mr. George and Rollo both looked in the direction where Henry
pointed, and there they saw a vast rocky precipice peering out through
a break in the clouds high up in the sky. An immense snow bank was
reposing upon its summit. The glittering whiteness of this snow
contrasted strongly with the sombre gray of the clouds through which,
as through an opening in a curtain, it was seen.
Presently another break in the clouds, and then another, occurred;
at each of which towering rocks or great perpendicular walls of
glittering ice and snow came into view.
The Jungfrau, said the guide.
Mr. George and Rollo gazed at this spectacle for some minutes in
silence, when at length Rollo said,
Why, uncle George! the sky is all full of rocks and ice!
It is indeed! said Mr. George.
It was rather fortunate than otherwise that the landscape was
obscured with clouds when Mr. George and Rollo first came into the
vicinity of the Jungfrau, as the astonishing spectacle of rocks and
precipices and immense accumulations of snow and ice, breaking out as
it were through the clouds all over the sky, was in some respects more
impressive than the full and unobstructed view of the whole mountain
would have been.
I wish the clouds would clear away, said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George. I should like to see the whole side of the
mountain very much.
Here another long and heavy peal, like thunder, began to be heard.
Mr. George stopped his horse to listen. Rollo and Henry stopped too.
The sound seemed to commence high up among the clouds. The echoes and
reverberations were reflected from the rocks and precipices all around
it; but the peal seemed slowly and gradually to descend towards the
horizon; and finally, after the lapse of two or three minutes, it
The travellers paused a moment after the sound ceased and continued
to listen. When they found that all was still they began to move on
I wish I could have seen that avalanche, said Rollo.
Yes, said Mr. George. I hope the clouds will clear away by the
time we get to the inn.
It was just about sunset when the party reached the inn. Rollo was
beginning to get a little tired, though the excitement of the excursion
and the effect produced on his mind by the strange aspect of every
thing around him inspired him with so much animation and strength that
he held on in his walk very well indeed. It is true that a great
portion of the mountain scenery around him was concealed from view by
the clouds; but there was something in the appearance of the rocks, in
the character of the vegetation, and especially in the aspect and
expression of the patches of snow which were to be seen here and there
in nooks and corners near the path,the remains of the vast
accumulations of the preceding winter which the sun had not yet
dispelled,that impressed Rollo continually with a sentiment of wonder
and awe, and led him to feel that he had attained to a vast elevation,
and that he was walking, as he really was, among the clouds.
The inn, when the party first came in sight of it, appeared more
like a log cabin in America than like a well-known and much-frequented
European hotel. It stood on a very small plot of ground, which formed a
sort of projection on a steep mountain side, facing the Jungfrau. In
front of the hotel the land descended very rapidly for a considerable
distance. The descent terminated at last on the brink of an enormous
ravine which separated the base of the Wengern Alp from that of the
Jungfrau. Behind the house the land rose in a broad, green slope,
dotted with Alpine flowers and terminating in a smooth, rounded summit
far above. The house itself seemed small, and was rudely constructed.
There was a sort of piazza in front of it, with a bench and a table
That is where the people sit, I suppose, said Mr. George, in
pleasant weather to see the Jungfrau.
Yes, said Rollo.
For the Jungfrau must be over there, said Mr. George, pointing
among the clouds in the southern sky.
All doubt about the position of the mountain was removed at the
instant that Mr. George had spoken these words, by another avalanche,
which just at that moment commenced its fall. They all stopped to
listen. The sound was greatly prolonged, sometimes roaring continuously
for a time, like a cataract, and then rumbling and crashing like a peal
What a pity that the clouds are in the way, said Rollo, so that
we can't see! Do you think it will clear up before we go away?
Yes, said Mr. George. I am very sure it will; for I am determined
not to go away till it does clear up.
There were one or two buildings attached to the inn which served
apparently as barns and sheds. The door of entrance was round in a
corner formed by the connection of one of these buildings with the
house. Henry led the horse up to this door, and Mr. George dismounted.
The guide led the horse away, and Rollo and Mr. George went into the
house. A young and very blooming Swiss girl received them in the hall
and opened a door for them which led to the public sitting room.
The sitting room was a large apartment, which extended along the
whole front of the house. The windows, of course, looked out towards
the Jungfrau. There was a long table in the middle of the room, and one
or two smaller ones in the back corners. At these tables two or three
parties were seated, eating their dinners. In one of the front corners
was a fireplace, with a small fire, made of pine wood, burning on the
hearth. A young lady was sitting near this fire, reading. Another was
at a small table near it, writing in her journal. Around the walls of
the room were a great many engravings and colored lithographs of Swiss
scenery; among them were several views of the Jungfrau. On the whole,
the room, though perfectly plain and even rude in all its furniture and
appointments, had a very comfortable and attractive appearance.
What a snug and pleasant-looking place! said Rollo, whispering to
Mr. George as they went in.
Yes, said Mr. George. It is just exactly such a place as I wished
Mr. George and Rollo were both of them tired and hungry. They first
called for rooms. The maid took them up stairs and gave them two small
rooms next each other. The rooms were, in fact, very small. The
furniture in them, too was of the plainest description; but every thing
was neat and comfortable, and the aspect of the interior of them was,
on the whole, quite attractive.
In about fifteen minutes Rollo knocked at Mr. George's door and
asked if he was ready to go down.
Not quite, said Mr. George; but I wish that you would go down and
So Rollo went down again into the public room and asked the maid if
she could get them some dinner.
Yes, said the maid. What would you like to have?
Rollo was considerate enough to know that there could be very little
to eat in the house except what had been brought up in a very toilsome
and difficult manner, from the valleys below, by the zigzag paths which
he and his uncle had been climbing. So he said in reply,
Whatever you please. It is not important to us.
The maid then told him what they had in the house; and Rollo,
selecting from these things, ordered what he thought would make an
excellent dinner. The dinner, in fact, when it came to the table,
proved to be a very excellent one indeed. It consisted of broiled
chicken, some most excellent fried potatoes, eggs, fresh and very nice
bread, and some honey. For drink, they had at first water; and at the
end of the meal some French coffee, which, being diluted with boiled
milk that was very rich and sweet, was truly delicious.
I have not had so good a dinner, said Mr. George, since I have
been in Europe.
No, said Rollo; nor I.
It is owing in part, I suppose, to the appetite we have got in
climbing up the mountain, said Mr. George.
Just as the young gentlemen had finished their dinner and were about
to rise from the table, their attention was attracted by an exclamation
of delight which came from one of the young ladies who were sitting at
the fireplace when Mr. George and Rollo came in.
O Emma, said she, come here!
Mr. George and Rollo looked up, and they saw that the young lady
whose voice they had heard was standing at the window. Emma rose from
her seat and went to the window in answer to the call. Mr. George and
Rollo looked out, too, at another window. They saw a spectacle which
filled them with astonishment.
It is clearing away, said Rollo. Let us go out in front of the
house and look.
Yes, said Mr. George; we will.
So they both left their seats, and, putting on their caps, they went
out. As soon as they reached the platform where the bench and the table
were standing they gazed on the scene which was presented to their view
with wonder and delight.
It was, indeed, clearing away. The clouds were lifting from the
mountains; and the sun, which had been for some hours obscured, was
breaking forth in the west and illuminating the whole landscape with
his setting beams. Opposite to where Mr. George and Rollo stood, across
the valley, they could see the whole mighty mass of the Jungfrau coming
into view beneath the edge of the cloudy curtain which was slowly
The lower portion of the mountain was an immense precipice, the foot
of which was hidden from view in the great chasm, or ravine, which
separated the Jungfrau from the Wengern Alp. Above this were rocks and
great sloping fields of snow formed from avalanches which had fallen
down from above. Still higher, there were brought to view vast fields
of ice and snow, with masses of rock breaking out here and there among
them, some in the form of precipices and crags, and others shooting up
in jagged pinnacles and peaks, rising to dizzy heights, to the summits
of which nothing but the condor or the eagle could ever attain. Still
higher were precipices of blue and pellucid ice, and boundless fields
of glittering snow, and immense drifts, piled one above the other in
vast volumes, and overhanging the cliffs as if just ready to fall.
In a short time the clouds rose so as to clear the summit of the
mountain; and then the whole mighty mass was seen revealed fully to
view, glittering in the sunbeams and filling half the sky.
The other guests of the inn came out upon the platform while Rollo
and Mr. George were there, having wrapped themselves previously in
their coats and shawls, as the evening air was cool. Some other parties
of travellers came, too, winding their way slowly up the same pathway
where Mr. George and Rollo had come. Mr. George and Rollo paid very
little attention to these new comers, their minds being wholly occupied
by the mountain.
In a very short time after the face of the Jungfrau came fully into
view, the attention of all the company that were looking at the scene
was arrested by the commencement of another peal of the same thundering
sound that Mr. George and Rollo had heard with so much wonder in coming
up the mountain. A great many exclamations immediately broke out from
There! hark! look! said they. An avalanche! An avalanche!
The sound was loud and almost precisely like thunder. Every one
looked in the direction from which it proceeded. There they soon saw,
half way up the mountain, a stream of snow, like a cataract, creeping
slowly over the brink of a precipice, and falling in a continued
torrent upon the rocks below. From this place they could see it slowly
creeping down the long slope towards another precipice, and where, when
it reached the brink, it fell over in another cataract, producing
another long peal of thunder, which, being repeated by the echoes of
the mountains and rocks around, filled the whole heavens with its
rolling reverberations. In this manner the mass of ice and snow went
down slope after slope and over precipice after precipice, till at
length it made its final plunge into the great chasm at the foot of the
mountain and disappeared from view.
In the course of an hour several other avalanches were heard and
seen; and when at length it grew too dark to see them any longer, the
thundering roar of them was heard from time to time all the night long.
Rollo, however, was so tired that, though he went to bed quite
early, he did not hear the avalanches or any thing else until Mr.
George called him the next morning.
[Footnote 9: They are pronounced as if spelled Gooten arbend.]
CHAPTER X. GOING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN.
Mr. George and Rollo met with various adventures and incidents in
going down the next day to Grindelwald which are quite characteristic
of mountain travelling in Switzerland.
They did not set out very early in the morning, as Mr. George wished
to stay as long as possible to gaze on the face of the Jungfrau and
watch the avalanches.
Rollo, said he, as they were standing together in front of the
hotel after breakfast, how would you like to go up with me to the top
of that hill?
So saying, Mr. George pointed to the great rounded summit which was
seen rising behind the hotel.
Yes, said Rollo; I should like to go very much indeed.
Very well, said Mr. George; we will go. But first let me get my
pressing book to put some flowers in, in case we find any.
Mr. George's pressing book was a contrivance which he had invented
for the more convenient desiccation of such flowers as he might gather
in his travels and wish to carry home with him and preserve, either for
botanical specimens or as souvenirs for his friends. It was made by
taking out all the leaves of a small book and replacing them with an
equal number of loose leaves, made for the purpose, of blotting paper,
and trimmed to the right size. Such small flowers as he might gather in
the various places that he visited could be much more conveniently
pressed and preserved between these loose leaves of blotting paper than
between the leaves of an ordinary book.
So Mr. George, taking his pressing book in his hand, led the way;
and Rollo following him, they attempted to ascend the hill behind the
inn. They found the ascent, however, extremely steep and difficult.
There were no rocks and no roughnesses of any kind in the way. It was
merely a grassy slope like the steep face of a terrace; but it was so
steep that, after Mr. George and Rollo had scrambled up two or three
hundred feet, it made Rollo almost dizzy to look down; and he began to
cling to the grass and to feel afraid.
Rollo, said Mr. George, I am almost afraid to climb up here any
higher. Do you feel afraid?
No, sir, said Rollo, endeavoring at the same time to reassure
himself. No, sir; I am not much afraid.
Let us stop a few minutes to rest and look at the mountain, said
Mr. George knew very well that there was no real danger; for the
slope, though very steep, was very grassy from the top to the bottom;
and even if Rollo had fallen and rolled down it could not have done him
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
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
Nor I either, said Rollo; and I think we had better go back
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 horsewhen he came in sight of
the snow, which lay covering the path at a little distance before
himconcluded 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.
[Illustration: THE FALL.]
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
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
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
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
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
So Mr. George paid the man a small sum of money, and then they went
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 Grindelwaldtwo 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
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 donationswhich
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
[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.]
CHAPTER XI. GLACIERS.
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.
[Illustration: THE CREVASSE.]
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 brooksmany thousands in
allform 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
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
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
[Illustration: THE NARROW PATH.]
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
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
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
[Illustration: ASCENT OF MONT BLANC.]
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
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 enjoymenton 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.]
CHAPTER XII. 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
Only you must pay me, said Rollo. I can't be courier without
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
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 ithis
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
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
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
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.
Because the guide book says there will, replied Rollo. They
always have boats there to take people that come along this road to
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
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
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
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 cottagesand figures of shepherds, and milkmaids with
loads of utensils on their backsand groups of huntsmen, with dogs
leaping up around themand 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 indeedso 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 mountainsthat 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
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.]
CHAPTER XIII. CONCLUSION.
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
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 capitalfor 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.