Rollo in Geneva by Abbott, Jacob
ROLLO IN GENEVA,
NEW YORK: SHELDON & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS, 498 & 500 BROADWAY. 1867.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858,
by JACOB ABBOTT,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF CHILLON.]
[Illustration: ROLLO'S TOUR IN EUROPE. SHELDON & CO., PUBLISHERS, N. Y.]
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. ROLLO IN NAPLES. ROLLO IN ROME.
PRINCIPAL PERSONS OF THE STORY.
ROLLO; twelve years of age. MR. and MRS. HOLIDAY; Rollo's father and mother, travelling in Europe. THANNY; Rollo's younger brother. JANE; Rollo's cousin, adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Holiday. MR. GEORGE; a young gentleman, Rollo's uncle.
I.--THE FAME OF GENEVA, 11
III.--THE RIDE TO GENEVA, 35
IV.--THE TOWN, 55
V.--THE HOTEL, 64
VI.--A RIDE IN THE ENVIRONS, 71
VII.--THE JUNCTION OF THE ARVE, 93
VIII.--SEEING MONT BLANC GO OUT, 108
IX.--A LAW QUESTION, 122
X.--AN EXCURSION ON THE LAKE, 134
XII.--THE CASTLE OF CHILLON, 155
XIII.--PLAN FORMED, 171
XIV.--WALK TO AIGLE, 179
XV.--THE JEWELRY, 197
XVI.--A FORTUNATE ACCIDENT, 209
THE CASTLE OF CHILLON, (Frontispiece.)
THE GREAT NET, 30
GOING THROUGH THE VILLAGE, 46
VIEW OF GENEVA, 58
THE WATER WHEEL, 100
GOING TO TAKE A SAIL, 132
THE DUNGEONS OF CHILLON, 161
THE BASKET RIDE, 185
SHOPPING AT GENEVA, 203
ROLLO IN GENEVA.
THE FAME OF GENEVA.
Geneva is one of the most remarkable and most celebrated cities in Europe. It derives its celebrity, however, not so much from its size, or from the magnificence of its edifices, as from the peculiar beauty of its situation, and from the circumstances of its history.
Geneva is situated upon the confines of France, Switzerland, and Sardinia, at the outlet of the Lake of Geneva, which is perhaps the most beautiful, and certainly the most celebrated, lake in Switzerland. It is shaped like a crescent,--that is, like the new moon, or rather like the moon after it is about four or five days old. The lower end of the lake--that is, the end where Geneva is situated--lies in a comparatively open country, though vast ranges of lofty mountains, some of them covered with perpetual snow, are to be seen in the distance all around. All the country near, however, at this end of the lake, is gently undulating, and it is extremely fertile and beautiful. There are a great many elegant country seats along the shore of the lake, and on the banks of the River Rhone, which flows out of it. The waters of the lake at this end, and of the river which issues from it, are very clear, and of a deep and beautiful blue color. This blue color is so remarkable that it attracts the attention of every one who looks down into it from a bridge or from a boat, and there have been a great many suppositions and speculations made in respect to the cause of it; but I believe that, after all, nobody has yet been able to find out what the cause is.
The city of Geneva is situated exactly at the lower end of the lake, that is, at the western end; and the River Rhone, in coming out of the lake, flows directly through the town.
The lake is about fifty miles long, and the eastern end of it runs far in among the mountains. These mountains are very dark and sombre, and their sides rise so precipitously from the margin of the water that in many places there is scarcely room for a road along the shore. Indeed, you go generally to that end of the lake in a steamer; and as you advance, the mountains seem to shut you in completely at the end of the lake. But when you get near to the end, you see a narrow valley opening before you, with high mountains on either hand, and the River Rhone flowing very swiftly between green and beautiful banks in the middle of it. Besides the river, there is a magnificent road to be seen running along this valley. This is the great high road leading from France into Italy; and it has been known and travelled as such ever since the days of the old Romans.
The River Rhone, where it flows into the lake at the eastern end of it, is very thick and turbid, being formed from torrents coming down the mountain sides, or from muddy streams derived from the melting of the glaciers. At the western end, on the other hand, where it issues from the lake, the water is beautifully pellucid and clear. The reason of this is, that during its slow passage through the lake it has had time to settle. The impurities which the torrents bring down into it from the mountains all subside to the bottom of the lake, and are left there, and thus the water comes out at the lower end quite clear. The lake itself, however, is of course gradually filling up by means of this process.
There are several large and handsome houses on the northern shore of the lake; but Geneva, at the western end of it, entirely surpasses them all.
Geneva is, however, after all, a comparatively small town. It contains only thirty or forty thousand inhabitants. It would take ten Genevas to make a New York, and nearly a hundred to make a Paris or London.
Why, then, since Geneva is comparatively so small, is it so celebrated? Almost every person who goes to Europe visits Geneva, and talks of Geneva when he comes back; while there are multitudes of other cities and towns, many times as large in extent and population, that he never thinks of or speaks of at all.
There are several reasons for this.
1. The first reason is, that this town stands on the great high road leading from England and France into Italy. Of course it comes naturally in the way of all travellers making the grand tour. It is true that at the present day, since steam has been introduced upon the Mediterranean, a very large proportion of travellers, instead of passing through Switzerland, go down the Rhone to Marseilles, and embark there. But before the introduction of steam, for many ages, the way by Geneva was almost the only way to Italy; and the city acquired great celebrity through the accounts of tourists and travellers who visited it on their journeys.
2. The second reason is, that Geneva is a convenient and agreeable point for entering Switzerland, and for making excursions among the Alps. There are two great avenues into Switzerland from France and Germany--one by way of Geneva, and the other by way of Basle. By the way of Basle we go to the Jungfrau and the Oberland Alps which lie around that mountain, and to the beautiful lakes of Zurich and of Lucerne. All these lie in the eastern part of the Alpine region. By the way of Geneva we go to the valley of Chamouni and Mont Blanc, and visit the vast glaciers and the stupendous mountain scenery that lie around this great monarch of the Alps.
There is a great question among travellers which of these two Alpine regions is the most grand. Some prefer the mountains about Mont Blanc, which are called the Alps of Savoy. Others like better those about the Jungfrau, which are called the Oberland Alps. The scenery and the objects of interest are very different in the two localities; and it seems to me that any difference which travellers may observe in the grandeur of the emotions which they severally produce upon the mind must be due to the peculiar circumstances or moods of mind in which they are visited. It is true you can get nearer to the Jungfrau than you can to Mont Blanc, and so can obtain a more impressive view of his icy and rocky sides and glittering summit. But then, on the other hand, Mont Blanc is really the highest peak, and is looked upon as the great monarch of them all.
And here, as the name of Mont Blanc will of course often appear in this volume, I have a word or two to say in respect to the proper pronunciation of it in America; for the proper mode of pronouncing the name of any place is not fixed, as many persons think, but varies with the language which you are using in speaking of it. Thus the name of the capital of France, when we are in France, and speaking French, is pronounced _Par-ree_; but when we are in England and America, and are speaking English, we universally pronounce it _Par-is_. It is so with almost all names of places. They change the pronunciation, and often the mode of spelling, according to the analogy of the language used by the person speaking of them.
Many persons suppose that in order correctly to pronounce the name of any place we must pronounce it as the people do who live in and around the place. But this is not so. The rule, on the other hand, is, that we must pronounce it as the people do who live in and around the place _the language of which we are speaking_. Thus the people of France call their capital _Par-ree_; those of Spain call theirs something like this,--_Madhreedth_; the Italians pronounce theirs _Roma_; but we, in talking English, say simply, _Paris_, _Madrid_, and _Rome_; in other words, when we are talking English, we _talk English throughout_, using English words for names of things, and English pronunciation for names of places, in all cases where there is an English pronunciation established,--as there is in respect to all the rivers, towns, mountains, and other localities on the globe that are well known and often spoken of in the English world.
Mont Blanc is one of these. Like the word _Paris_ it has its French pronunciation for the French, and its English pronunciation for the English; and its English pronunciation is as if it were spelled Mount Blank or Mont Blank. Under this name it has been known and spoken of familiarly all over England and America for centuries; and this, it seems to me, is the proper name to give it when we are speaking English.
Its French pronunciation is very different. It is one which none but a practical French scholar can possibly imitate, except in a very awkward manner. Those who have visited France and Switzerland, and have been accustomed to the French sound, often give the word the French pronunciation; but it is not at all necessary to do so. The word, like _Paris_, has its own established English sound; and if it is not pedantry to attempt to give it the French sound when speaking English, it certainly is not a mispronunciation to give it the English one. Indeed, to require the French pronunciation of the word from English speakers would be in effect to banish it almost altogether from conversation; for among the ten millions, more or less, in England or America, who speak English well, there is probably not one in a thousand that can possibly give the word its true French pronunciation.
In reading this book, therefore, and in speaking of the great Swiss mountain, you are perfectly safe in giving it its plain English sound, as if it were written Mont Blank; and remember the principle, as applicable to all other similar cases. Wherever a foreign name has become so familiar to the English world as to have obtained an established English pronunciation, in speaking English we give it that pronunciation, without any regard to the usage of the people who live on the spot.
But now I must return to Geneva, and give some further account of the reasons why it has been so celebrated.
3. The third reason why Geneva has acquired so much celebrity among mankind is the great number of learned and distinguished philosophers and scholars that have from time to time lived there. Switzerland is a republic, and the canton of Geneva is Protestant; and thus the place has served as a sort of resort and refuge for all the most distinguished foes both of spiritual and political tyranny that have risen up in Europe at intervals during the last five hundred years. Geneva was indeed one of the chief centres of the Reformation; and almost all the great reformers visited it and wrote about it, and thus made all the world familiar with it, during the exciting times in which they lived.
Besides this, Geneva has been made the residence and home of a great many moral and political writers within the last one or two centuries; for the country, being republican, is much more open and free than most of the other countries of Europe. Men who have incurred the displeasure of their own governments by their writings or their acts find a safe asylum in Geneva, where they can think and say what they please. All this has tended very strongly to attract the attention of mankind to Geneva, as to a sort of luminous point in respect to moral and political science, from which light radiates to every part of the civilized world.
4. There is one more reason, very different from the preceding, which tends to make Geneva famous, and to draw travellers to visit it at the present day; and that is, it is a great manufacturing place for watches and jewelry--one of the greatest, indeed, in the world. Travellers, in making the tour of Europe,--and American travellers in particular,--always wish to bring home with them a great number and variety of purchases; and the things that they buy they very naturally desire to buy at the places where they are made. It is not merely that they hope to get them better and cheaper there, but it is a pleasant thought to be associated always afterwards with any object of use or luxury that we possess, that we bought it ourselves at the place of its original manufacture. Thus the gentlemen who travel in Europe like to bring home a fowling-piece from Birmingham, a telescope from London, or a painting from Italy; and the ladies, in planning their tour, wish it to include Brussels or Valenciennes for laces, and Geneva for a watch.
Thus, for one reason or another, immense numbers of people go every year to Geneva, in the course of the tour they make in Europe, either for business or pleasure. It is estimated that the number of these visitors annually is not less than thirty thousand; and the chief streets and quays of the town are marked almost as strikingly by the conspicuousness and splendor of the hotels as Broadway in New York.
The place of departure in France for Geneva is Lyons. If you look upon the map you will see the situation of Lyons on the River Rhone, almost opposite to Geneva. There is a railroad from Paris to Lyons, and so on down the Rhone to Marseilles. But from Lyons up to Geneva--which is likewise situated on the Rhone, at the place where it issues from the Lake of Geneva--there was no railroad at the time of Rollo's visit, though there was one in the process of construction. The party were obliged to travel by _diligence_ on that part of the journey. The diligence is the French stage coach. The diligence leaves Lyons in the evening, and travels all night. As Mr. Holiday arrived at Lyons the evening before, Rollo had the whole of the day to walk about the town before setting out for his evening ride. His father gave him leave to go out alone, and ramble where he pleased.
"The most curious places," said his father, "are on the other side of the river, where the silk weavers live. Notice what bridge you go over, so that you will know it again, and then if you get lost on the other side it will be no matter. All you will have to do is to keep coming down hill till you reach the river, and then look up and down till you see the bridge where you went over. That will bring you home. And be sure to be at home by five o'clock. We are going to have dinner at half past five."
"Then won't it be in season," asked Rollo, "if I am at home by half past five?"
"In season for what?" asked his father.
"Why, to save my dinner," said Rollo.
"Yes," said his father; "it might be in season to save your dinner, but that is not what I am planning to save. I have no particular uneasiness about your dinner."
"Why, father!" said Rollo, surprised.
"I have no wish to have you go hungry," replied his father; "but then if by any chance you happened to be late at dinner, it would be of no great consequence, for you could buy something, and eat it in the diligence by the way. So I was not planning to save your dinner."
"Then what were you planning to save, father?" asked Rollo.
"My own and mother's quiet of mind," replied Mr. Holiday, "especially mother's. If five minutes of the dinner hour were to come and you should not appear, she would begin to be uneasy; and indeed so should I. In such cases as this, children ought always to come before the time when their parents would begin to feel any uneasiness respecting them."
Rollo saw at once the correctness of this principle, and he secretly resolved that he would be at home a quarter before five.
"What part of the diligence are we going to ride in, father?" asked Rollo, as they were seated at dinner.
"In the coupé,"[A] said Mr. Holiday.
[Footnote A: Pronounced _coupay_.]
"Ah, father!" said Rollo; "I wish you would go on the banquette. We can see so much better on the banquette."
"It would be rather hard climbing for mother," said Mr. Holiday, "to get up to the banquette--such a long ladder."
"O, mother can get up just as easily as not," said Rollo. "Couldn't you, mother?"
"I am more afraid about getting _down_ than getting up," said his mother.
"But it is a great deal pleasanter on the banquette," said Rollo. "They keep talking all the time--the conductor, and the drivers, and the other passengers that are there; while in the coupé we shall be all by ourselves. Besides, it is so much cheaper."
"It is cheaper, I know," said Mr. Holiday; "but then as to the talking, I think we shall want to be quiet, and go to sleep if we can. You see it will be night."
"Yes, father, that is true," said Rollo; "but I had rather hear them talk. I can understand almost all they say. And then I like to see them change horses, and to see the conductor climb up and down. Then, besides, at almost all the villages they have parcels to leave at the inns; and it is good fun to see them take the parcels out and toss them down, and tell the bar maid at the inn what she is to do with them."
"All that must be very amusing," said Mr. Holiday; "but it would not be so comfortable for your mother to mount up there. Besides, I have engaged our places already in the coupé, and paid for them."
"Why, father!" said Rollo. "When did you do it?"
"I sent last evening," said Mr. Holiday. "It is necessary to engage the places beforehand at this season. There is so much travelling into Switzerland now that the diligences are all full. I had to send to three offices before I could get places."
"Are there three offices?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said his father; "there are three different lines.
"But I'll tell you what you may do, Rollo, if you please," continued his father. "You may go to the bureau,[B] and see if you can exchange your seat in the coupé for one in the banquette, if you think you would like better to ride there. There may be some passenger who could not get a place in the coupé, on account of my having taken them all, and who, consequently, took one on the banquette, and would now be glad to exchange, and pay the difference."
[Footnote B: Bureau is the French word meaning office; and English people, when travelling in France, fall into the habit of using the word in that sense.]
"How much would the difference be?" asked Rollo.
"I don't know," said Mr. Holiday; "five or six francs, probably. You would save that sum by riding on the banquette, and you could have it to buy something with in Geneva."
"Well, sir," said Rollo, joyfully, "I should like that plan very much."
"But do you think," said Mrs. Holiday, "that you know French enough to explain it at the bureau, and make the change?"
"O, yes, mother," said Rollo; "I have no doubt I can."
So Rollo said he would finish his dinner as soon as he could, and go off at once to the bureau.
"There is one other condition," said his father. "If I let you ride on the banquette, and let you have all the money that you save for your own, you must write a full account of your night's journey, and send it to your cousin Lucy."
"Well, sir," said Rollo, "I will."
Rollo left the dinner table while his father and mother were taking their coffee. The table was one of a number of separate tables arranged along by the windows on the front side of a quaint and queer-looking dining room--or _salle à manger_, as they call it--in one of the Lyons inns. Indeed, the whole inn was very quaint and queer, with its old stone staircases, and long corridors leading to the various apartments, and its antique ceiling,--reminding one, as Mr. Holiday said, of the inns we read of in Don Quixote and other ancient romances.
Rollo left his father and mother at this table, taking their coffee, and sallied forth to find his way to the bureau of the diligence.
"If you meet with any difficulty," said Mr. Holiday, as Rollo went away, "engage the first cab you see, and the cabman will take you directly there for a franc or so."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo, "I will."
"And if you don't find any cab readily," continued his father, "engage a commissioner to go with you and show you the way."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo.
A commissioner is a sort of porter who stands at the corners of the streets in the French towns, ready to do any thing for any body that calls upon him.
Rollo resolved not to employ either a cabman or a commissioner, if it could possibly be avoided. He took the address of the bureau from his father, and sallied forth.
He first went round the corner to a bookstore where he recollected to have seen a map of Lyons hanging in the window. He looked at this map, and found the street on it where he wished to go. He then studied out the course which he was to take. Lyons stands at, or rather near, the confluence of the two rivers Rhone and Saone. In coming to Lyons from Paris, the party had come down the valley of the Saone; but now they were to leave this valley, and follow up that of the Rhone to Geneva, which is situated, as has already been said, on the Rhone, at the point where that river issues from the Lake of Geneva.
The hotel where Rollo's father had taken lodgings was near the Saone; and Rollo found that the bureau was on the other side of the town, where it fronts on the Rhone.
So Rollo followed the course which he had marked out for himself on the map. In a short time he saw before him signs of bridges and a river.
"Ah," says he to himself; "I am right; I am coming to the Rhone."
He went on, drawing nearer and nearer. At length he came out upon the broad and beautiful quay, with large and elegant stone buildings on one side of it, and a broad but low parapet wall on the other, separating the quay from the water. There was a sidewalk along this wall, with many people walking on it; and here and there men were to be seen leaning upon the wall, and looking over at the boats on the river. The river was broad, and it flowed very rapidly, as almost all water does which has just come from Switzerland and the Alps. On looking up and down, Rollo saw a great number of bridges crossing this stream, with teams and diligences, and in one place a long troop of soldiers passing over. On the other side, the bank was lined with massive blocks of stone buildings. In a word, the whole scene presented a very bright and animated spectacle to view.
Nearly opposite to the place where Rollo came out upon the river, he saw, over the parapet wall that extended along on the outer side of the quay, a very large, square net suspended in the air. It was hung by means of ropes at the four corners, which met in a point above, whence a larger rope went up to a pulley which was attached to the end of a spar that projected from the stern of a boat. The net was slowly descending into the water when Rollo first caught a view of it; so he ran across, and looked over the parapet to see.
[Illustration: THE GREAT NET.]
The net descended slowly into the water. It was let down by men in the boat paying out the line that held it.
"Ah," said Rollo to himself; "that's a curious way to rig a net. I should like to stay and see them pull it up again, so as to see how many fish they take; but business first and pleasure afterwards is the rule."
So he left the parapet, and walked along the quay towards the place where the bureau was situated.
"I'll come back here," said he to himself, "when I have got my place on the banquette, and see them fish a little while, if I find there is time."
In a few minutes Rollo came to the place he was seeking. It was in a little square, called Concert Place, opening towards the river. Rollo knew the bureau by seeing the diligence standing before the door. It had been brought up there to be ready for the baggage, though the horses were not yet harnessed to it.
Rollo went into the office. He found himself in a small room, with trunks and baggage arranged along on one side of it, and a little enclosure of railings, with a desk behind it, on the other. There was a young man sitting at this desk, writing.
"This must be a clerk, I suppose," said Rollo to himself.
Opposite to where the clerk was sitting there was a little opening in the railings, for people to pay their money and take their tickets; for people take tickets for places in the diligence, in Europe, just as they do for the railroad. Rollo advanced to this opening, and, looking through it, he stated his case to the clerk. He said that he had a place in the coupé that his father had taken for him, but that he would rather ride on the banquette, if there was room there, and if any body would take his place in the coupé.
The clerk said that there had been a great many persons after a place in the coupé since it had been taken, and that one lady had taken a place on the banquette, because all the other places in the coach had been engaged.
"I think," said the clerk, "that she will be very glad to exchange with you, and pay you the difference. She lives not far from here, and if you will wait a few minutes, I will send and see."
So the clerk called a commissioner who stood at the door, and after giving him his directions, sent him away. In a few minutes the commissioner returned, saying that the lady was very glad indeed to exchange. He brought in his hand a five franc piece and three francs, which was the difference in the price of the two places. The clerk gave this money to Rollo, and altered the entry on his books so as to put the lady in the coupé and Rollo on the banquette. Thus the affair was all arranged.
Rollo found that it was now six o'clock. The diligence was not to set out until half past seven; but by the rules of the service the passengers were all to be on the spot, with their baggage, half an hour before the time; so that Rollo knew that his father and mother would be there at seven.
"That gives me just an hour," said he to himself; "so I shall have plenty of time to go and see how they manage fishing with that big net."
He accordingly went to see the fishing, but was very careful to return some minutes before the appointed time.
Rollo had a very pleasant ride that night to Geneva. He wrote a long and full account of it afterwards, and sent it to his cousin Lucy. This letter I shall give in the next chapter.
The reason why Rollo wrote so long an account of his journey was this: that his father required him, when travelling, to spend one hour and a half every day in study of some kind; and writing letters, or any other intellectual occupation that was calculated to advance his education, was considered as study. In consequence of this arrangement, Rollo was never in a hurry to come to the end of his letters, for he liked the work of writing them better than writing French exercises, or working on arithmetic, or engaging in any of the other avocations which devolved upon him when he had no letters on hand.
THE RIDE TO GENEVA.
"I am going to give you an account of my night ride from Lyons to Geneva.
"I got to the diligence office before father came, because I was going to ride up in the bellows-top. I call it the bellows-top so that you may understand it better. It is a place up in the second story of the diligence, where there are seats for four persons, and a great bellows-top over their heads. _I_ think it is the best place, though people have to pay more for the coupé, which is right under it. I got eight francs, which is more than a dollar and a half, for exchanging my seat in the coupé for one on the banquette. I exchanged with a lady. I suppose she did not like to climb up the ladder. You see in the coupé you step right in as you would into a carriage; but you have to go up quite a long ladder to get to the banquette. I counted the steps. There were thirteen.
"When I got to the office, the men were using the ladder to put up the baggage. They put the baggage on the top of the diligence, along the whole length of it behind the bellows-top. They pack it all in very closely, beginning immediately behind, and coming regularly forward, as far as it will reach. There is a frame over it, and a great leather covering. They pull the covering forward as fast as they get the trunks packed, until at last the baggage is all covered over as far forward as to the back of the bellows-top.
"The men were using the ladders when I came, getting up the baggage; so I climbed up by the little steps that are made on the side of the diligence. I liked my seat very much. Before me was a great leather boot. The boot was fastened to an iron bar that went across in front, so that it did not come against my knees. Above me was the bellows-top, to keep off the rain. Up under the roof of the bellows-top there was a sash folded together and fastened up by straps. I unfastened one of the straps, and saw that I could let down the sash if I wished, and thus make a glass window in front of me, so as to shut me in nicely from the wind, if it should grow cold in the night. Behind me was a curtain. The curtain was loose. I pushed it back, and found I could look out on the top of the diligence where the men were at work packing the trunks and baggage. The men wore blue frocks shaped like cartmen's frocks.[C]
[Footnote C: Such a frock is called a _blouse_--pronounced _blooze_. Almost all working men in France wear them. Hence the class of workmen in France are sometimes called the _blouses_.]
"Right before the boot was the postilion's seat. It was a little lower than my seat, and was large enough for two. The conductor's seat was at the end of my seat, under the bellows-top. There was one thing curious about his seat, and that is, that there was a joint in the iron bar of the boot, so that he could open his end of it, and get out and in without disturbing the boot before the rest of the passengers. When I wanted to get out I had to climb over the boot to the postilion's seat, and so get down by the little iron steps.
"The reason I wanted to get down was so as to buy some oranges. There was a woman down there with oranges to sell. She had them in a basket. I thought perhaps that I might be thirsty in the night, and that I could not get down very well to get a drink of water. So I climbed down and bought four oranges. I bought one for myself, and two to give father and mother, and one more because the woman looked so poor. Besides, they were not very dear--only fifteen centimes apiece. It takes five centimes to make a sou, and a sou is about as much as a cent.
"When I had bought my oranges I climbed up into my place again.
"There were several people beginning to come and stand about the door of the bureau. I suppose they were the travellers. Some came in cabs, with their trunks on before with the postilion. I counted up how many the diligence would hold, and found that in all, including the two postilion's seats, and the conductor's, that there were places for twenty-one. But when we started we had twenty-four in all. Where the other three sat you will see by and by.[D]
[Footnote D: The diligence is very large. It has four separate compartments. For a more full account of the construction of the vehicle, and for one or two engravings representing it, see Rollo's Tour in Switzerland.]
"As fast as the passengers came to the office, the men took their baggage and packed it with the rest, on the top of the diligence, and the passengers themselves stood about the door, waiting for the horses to be put in.
"Some of the passengers came on foot, with commissioners to bring their baggage. The commissioners carried their baggage on their backs. They had a frame something like an old-fashioned kitchen chair strapped to their shoulders, and the baggage was piled upon this very high. One commissioner that came had on his frame, first a big black trunk, placed endwise, and then a portmanteau, then a carpet bag, and on the top a bandbox. The bandbox reached far above his head. I should not think they could possibly carry such heavy loads.
"Presently I saw father and mother coming in a cab. So I climbed down to meet them. The men in the blouses took their trunk and carried it up the ladder, and then I opened the coupé door for them, and let them get in. I told mother that my place was exactly over her head, and that I was then going to climb up to it, and that when I was there I would knock on the floor, and she would know that I had got there safely; and I did.
"By and by they got all the baggage packed, and they pulled the great leather covering over it, and fastened it to the back of the bellows-top. Then I could push up the curtain behind me and look in at the place where the baggage was stowed. It looked like a garret. It was not quite full. There was room for several more trunks at the forward end of it.
"Pretty soon after this they brought round the horses and harnessed them in. Then the clerk came out of the bureau and called off the names of the passengers from his list. First he called the names of those who were to go in the coupé. He said, in a loud voice,--
"'Monsieur Holiday and Madame Holiday!'
"And he looked in at the coupé door, and father said, 'Here.'
"Then he called out,--
"That was the name of the lady that had changed places with me. So she got into the coupé. That made the coupé full.
"In the same manner the clerk called off the names of those who were to go in the interior, which is the centre compartment. The interior holds six.
"Then he called off the names of those that were to go in the 'rotonde,' which is the back compartment. You get into the rotonde by a door behind, like the door of an omnibus.
"Then the clerk called out the names of the people that were to come up to the banquette with me. There were six of them, and there seemed to be only room for three. So I could not imagine where they were all going to sit. They came in a row, one behind the other, up the ladder. Very soon I saw how they were going to sit; for the three that came first--a man and woman and a girl--when they came into the banquette, pushed up the curtain at the back side of it, and so climbed in behind to the garret, and sat on the trunks. When the curtain was down, after they were in, they were all in the dark there.
"However, pretty soon they contrived to fasten up the curtain, and then they could see out a little over our shoulders. The girl sat directly behind me. I asked her if she could see, and she said she could, very well.
"The postilion then climbed up, with the reins in his hand, and called out to the horses to start on. He talked to his horses in French, and they seemed to understand him very well. The great thing, though, was cracking his whip. You can scarcely conceive how fast and loud he cracked his whip, first on one side and then on the other, till the whole court rang again. The horses sprang forward and trotted off at great speed out of the place, and wheeled round the corner to the quay; and while they were going, the conductor came climbing up the side of the coach to his place.
"The conductor never gets into his place before the diligence starts. He waits till the horses set out, and then jumps on to the step, and so climbs up the side while the horses are going.
"A diligence is a monstrous great machine; and when it sets out on a journey in a city, the rumbling of the wheels on the pavement, and the clattering of the horses' feet, and the continual cracking of the coachman's whip, and the echoes of all these sounds on the walls of the buildings, make a wonderful noise and din, and every body, when the diligence is coming, hurries to get out of the way. Indeed, I believe the coachman likes to make all the noise he can; for he has sleigh bells on the harness, and, besides cracking his whip, he keeps continually shouting out to the horses and the teamsters on the road before him; and whenever he is passing through a town or a village he does all this more than any where else, because, as I suppose, there are more people there to hear him.
"Presently, after driving along the quay a little way, we turned off to one of the great stone bridges that lead across the Rhone. We went over this bridge in splendid style. I could see far up and down the river, and trains of wagons and multitudes of people going and coming on the other bridges. The water in the river was running very swift. There were some boats along the shore, but I don't see how the people could dare to venture out in them in such a current.
"As soon as we had got over the bridge, we struck into a beautiful road across the country, and the postilion cracked on faster and harder than ever. We had five horses, three abreast before, and two behind. They went upon the gallop, and the postilion kept cracking his whip about them and over their ears all the time. I thought for a while that he was whipping them; but when I leaned forward, so that I could look down and see, I found that he did not touch them with his whip at all, but only cracked the snapper about them, and shouted at them in French, to make them go. The road was as hard and smooth as a floor, and it was almost as white as a floor of marble.
"The country was very beautiful as long as we could see. There were no fences, but there were beautiful fields on each side of the road, divided into squares, like the beds of a garden, with all sorts of things growing in them.
"Every now and then we came to a village. These villages were the queerest looking places that you can imagine. They were formed of rows of stone houses, close to each other and close to the street. They were so close to the street, and the street was usually so narrow, that there was scarcely room sometimes to pass through. I could almost shake hands with the people looking out the second story windows. I cannot imagine why they should leave the passage so narrow between the houses on such a great road. If there were any people in the street of the village when we went through, they had to back up against the wall when we passed them, to prevent being knocked down.
"When we were going through any of these villages, the postilion drove faster than ever. He would crack his whip, and cheer on his horses, and make noise and uproar enough to frighten half the town.
"We went on in this way till it began to grow dark. The postilion handed the lanterns up to the conductor, and he lighted them with some matches that he carried in his pocket. The lanterns had reflectors in the back of them, and were very bright. When the postilion put them back in their places on the front of the coach, the light shone down on the road before us, so that the way where the horses were going was as bright as day.
[Illustration: GOING THROUGH THE VILLAGE.]
"After a time the moon rose, and that made it pretty bright every where. Still I could not see very far, and as the people around me were talking, I listened to what they were saying. The conductor was telling stories about diligences that had been robbed. He said that once, when he was travelling somewhere, the diligence was attacked by robbers, and he was shot by one of them. He was shot in the neck; and he had to keep in his bed six months before he got well. I listened as well as I could, but the diligence made such a noise that I could not understand all he said, and I did not hear where it was that this happened. I suppose it was probably in Italy, for I have heard that there were a great many robbers there.
"After a while I began to feel sleepy. I don't remember going to sleep, for the first thing I knew after I began to feel sleepy was that I was waking up. We were stopping to change horses. We stopped to change horses very often--oftener than once an hour. When we changed horses we always changed the postilion too. A new postilion always came with every new team. It was only the conductor that we did not change. He went with us all the way.
"We changed horses usually in a village; and it was very curious to see what queer-looking hostlers and stable boys came out with the new teams. Generally the hostlers were all ready, waiting for the diligence to come; but sometimes they would be all asleep, and the conductor and the postilion would make a great shouting and uproar in waking them up.
"When the new team was harnessed in, the new postilion would climb up to his seat, with the reins in his hands, and, without waiting a moment, he would start the horses on at full speed, leaving the poor conductor to get on the best way he could. By the time the horses began to go on the gallop, the conductor would come climbing up the side of the coach into his place.
"It was curious to see how different the different teams were in regard to the number of horses. Sometimes we had four horses, sometimes five, and once we had seven. For a long time I could not tell what the reason was for such a difference. But at last I found out. It was because some of the stages were pretty nearly level, and others were almost all up hill. Of course, where there was a great deal of up hill they required more horses. At the time when they put on seven horses I knew that we had come to a place where it was almost all up hill; and it was. The road went winding around through a region of hills and valleys, but ascending all the time. Still the road was so hard and smooth, and the horses were so full of life, that we went on the full trot the whole way. Four horses could not have done this, though, with such a heavy load. It took seven.
"In almost all the villages we came to we saw long lines of wagons by the road side. They were very curious wagons indeed. They were small. Each one was to be drawn by one horse. There was no body to them, but only two long poles going from the forward axletree to the back axletree; and the load was packed on these poles, and covered with canvas. It looked just like a big bundle tied up in a cloth. These were wagons that had stopped for the night. Afterwards, when the morning came, we overtook a great many trains of these wagons, on the road to Geneva. They were loaded with merchandise going from France into Switzerland. There was only one driver to the whole train. He went along with the front wagon, and all the rest followed on in a line. The horses were trained to follow in this way. Thus one man could take charge of a train of six or eight wagons.
"There was one very curious thing in the arrangement, and that was, that the last horse in the train had a bell on his neck, something like a cow bell. This was to prevent the driver from having to look round continually to see whether the rest of the horses were coming or not. As long as he could hear the bell on the last one's neck he knew they were all coming; for none of the middle ones could stop without stopping all behind them.
"I suppose that sometimes some of the horses in the train would stop; then the driver would observe that the bell ceased to ring, and he would stop his own wagon, and go back to see what was the matter. If he found that any of them stopped to eat grass by the way, or because they were lazy, he would give them a whipping, and start them on, and that would teach them to keep marching on the next time.
"I know what I would do if I were the last horse. Whenever I wanted to stop and rest I would keep shaking my head all the time, and that would make the driver think that I was coming along.
"One time, when we were stopping to change horses, I heard some one below me calling to me,
"I believe I was asleep at that time, and dreaming about something, though I don't remember what it was. I started up and reached out as far as I could over the boot, and looked down. I found it was my mother calling to me.
"'Rollo,' says she, 'how do you get along?'
"'Very nicely indeed, mother,' says I; 'and how do you get along?'
"'Very well,' says she.
"Just then I happened to think of my oranges; so I asked mother if she was not thirsty, and she said she was a little thirsty, but she did not see how she could get any drink until the morning, for the houses were all shut up, and the people were in bed and asleep. So I told her that I had an orange for her and for father. She said she was very glad indeed.
"I could not get down very well to give the oranges to her, so I put them in my little knapsack, and let them down by a string. I had the string in my pocket.
"Mother took the oranges out of the knapsack, and then I pulled it up again. I told her that I had plenty more for myself.
"Father cut a hole in one of the oranges that I sent down to mother, and then she squeezed the juice of it out into her mouth. She said afterwards that I could not conceive how much it refreshed her. I don't think _she_ could conceive how glad I was that I had bought it for her.
"A little while after sunrise we came to a village where we were going to change horses, and the conductor said that we should stop long enough to go into the inn if we pleased, and get some coffee. So father and mother got out of the coupé, and went in. I climbed down from my place, and went with them. Mother said she went in more to see what sort of a place the inn was than for the sake of the coffee.
"It was a very funny place. The floor was of stone. There was one table, with cups on it for coffee, and plates, and bread and butter. The loaves of bread were shaped like a man's arm--about as big round, and a good deal longer. The coffee was very good indeed, on account of there being plenty of hot milk to put into it.
"After we had had our breakfast we went on, and the rest of our ride was through a most magnificent country. There was a long, winding valley, with beautiful hills and mountains on each side, and a deep chasm in the middle, with the River Rhone roaring and tumbling over the stones down at the bottom of it. The road went wheeling on down long slopes, and around the hills and promontories, with beautiful green swells of land above it and below it. The horses went upon the run. The postilion had a little handle close by his seat--a sort of crank--that he could turn round and round, and so bring a brake to bear against the wheels, and thus help to hold the carriage back. When he began to go down a slope he would turn this crank round and round as fast as he could, till it was screwed up tight, cheering the horses on all the time; and then he would take his whip and crack it about their ears, and so we go down the hills, and wheel round the great curves, almost on the run, and could look down on the fields and meadows and houses in the valley, a thousand feet below us. It was the grandest ride I ever had.
"But I have been so long writing this letter that I am beginning to be tired of it, though I have not got yet to Geneva; so I am going to stop now. The rest I will tell you when I see you.
"Your affectionate cousin,
"P.S. There is one thing more that I will tell you, and that is, that we went through a castle at one place in the valley. It was a castle built by the French to guard their frontier. Indeed, there were two castles. The road passes directly through one of them, and the other is high up on the rocks exactly above it. The valley is so narrow, and the banks are so steep, that there is no other possible place for the road except through the lower castle. The road has to twist and twine about, too, just before it comes to the castle gates, and after it goes away from them on the other side, so that every thing that passes along has some guns or other pointing at them from the castle for more than a mile. I don't see how any enemy could possibly get into France this way.
"There was also a place where the Rhone goes under ground, or, rather, under the rocks, and so loses itself for a time, and then after a while comes out again. It is a place where the river runs along in the bottom of a very deep and rocky chasm, and the rocks have fallen down from above, so as to fill up the chasm from one side to the other, and all the water gets through underneath them. We looked down into the chasm as the diligence went by, and saw the water tumbling over the rocks just above the place where it goes down. I should have liked to stop, and to climb down there and see the place, but I knew that the diligence would not wait."
The valley described by Rollo in his letter to Lucy, contained in the last chapter, is indeed a very remarkable pass. The Romans travelled it nearly two thousand years ago, in going from Italy to France, or, as they called it, Gaul. Cæsar describes the country in his Commentaries; and from that day to this it has been one of the greatest thoroughfares of Europe.
The valley is very tortuous, and in some places it is very narrow; and the road runs along through it like a white thread, suspended, as it were, half way between the lofty summits of the mountains and the roaring torrent of the Rhone in the deep abyss below.
After emerging from this narrow pass, the road comes out into an open country, which is as fertile and beautiful, and as richly adorned with hamlets, villas, parks, gardens, and smiling fields of corn and grain, as any country in the world. At length, on coming over the summit of a gentle swell of land, that rises in the midst of this paradise, the great chain of the Alps, with the snowy peak of Mont Blanc crowning it with its glittering canopy of snow, comes suddenly into view.
"Look there!" said the conductor to the company on the banquette. "See there! the Mont Blanc, all uncovered!"
The French always call Mont Blanc _the_ Mont Blanc, and for _all clear and in plain view_ they say _all uncovered_.
It is calculated that there are only about sixty days in the year, upon an average, when Mont Blanc appears with his head uncovered. They, therefore, whose coming into Switzerland he honors by taking off his cap, have reason greatly to rejoice in their good fortune.
Rollo had seen snow-covered mountains shining in the sun before; but he was greatly delighted with this new view of them. There is indeed a peculiar charm in the sight of these eternal snows, especially when we see them basking, as it were, in the rays of a warm summer's sun, that is wholly indescribable. The sublime and thrilling grandeur of the spectacle no pen or pencil can portray.
[Illustration: VIEW OF GENEVA]
After passing over the hill, and descending into the valley again, the company in the diligence came soon in sight of the environs of Geneva. They passed by a great many charming country seats, with neat walls of masonry bordering the gardens, and wide gateways opening into pretty courts, and little green lawns surrounding the chateaux. At length the diligence came thundering down a narrow paved street into the town. Every thing made haste to get out of the way. The postilion cracked his whip, and cheered on his horses, and shouted out to the cartmen and footmen before him to clear the way, and made generally as much noise and uproar as possible, as if the glory of a diligence consisted in the noise it made, and the sensation it produced in coming into town.
At length the immense vehicle wheeled round a corner, and came out upon a broad and beautiful quay. The quay had a range of very elegant and palace-like looking houses and hotels on one side, and the water of the lake--exceedingly clear, and bright, and blue--on the other. The place was at the point where the water of the lake was just beginning to draw in towards the outlet; so that there was a pretty swift current.
The engraving represents the scene. In the foreground we see the broad quay, with the buildings on one side, and the low parapet wall separating it from the water on the other. In the middle distance we see the diligence just coming out upon the quay from the street by which it came into the town. A little farther on we see the bridge by which the diligence will pass across to the other side of the river--the diligence offices being situated in the row of buildings that we see on the farther side. This bridge is not straight. There is an angle in it at the centre. From the apex of this angle there is a branch bridge which goes out to a little island in the lake. This island is arranged as a promenade, and is a great place of resort for the people of Geneva. There are walks through it and all around it, and seats under the trees, and a parapet wall or railing encircling the margin of it, to prevent children from falling into the water.
As the diligence rolled along the quay, and turned to go over the bridge, Rollo could look out in one direction over the broad surface of the lake, which was seen extending for many miles, bordered by gently sloping shores coming down to the water. On the other side the current was seen rapidly converging and flowing swiftly under another bridge, and thence directly through the very heart of the town.
The diligence went over the bridge. While it was going over, Rollo looked out first one way, towards the lake, and then the other way, down the river. On the lake side there was a steamboat coming in. She was crowded with passengers, and the quay at the other end of the bridge, where the steamer was going to land, was crowded with people waiting to see.
On the other side of the bridge, that is, looking down the stream, Rollo saw a deep blue river running more and more swiftly as it grew narrower. There were several other bridges in sight, and an island also, which stood in the middle of the stream, and was covered with tall and ancient-looking buildings. These buildings indeed more than covered the original island; they extended out over the water--the outer walls seeming to rest on piles, between and around which the water flowed with the utmost impetuosity. The banks of the river on each side were walled up, and there were streets or platform walks along the margin, between the houses and the water. There were a great many bridges, some wide and some narrow, leading across from one bank to the other, and from each bank to the island between.
The diligence passed on so rapidly that Rollo had very little opportunity to see these things; but he resolved that as soon as they got established in the hotel he would come out and take a walk, and explore all those bridges.
"It is just such a town as I like," said he to himself. "A swift river running through the middle of it--water as clear as a bell--plenty of foot bridges down very near to the water, and ever so many little platforms and sidewalks along the margin, where you can stand and fish over the railings."
In the mean time the diligence went thundering on over the bridge, and then drove along the quay, on the farther side, past one office after another, until it came to its own. Here the horses were reined in, and the great machine came to a stand. The doors of the lower compartments were opened, and the passengers began to get out. Two ladders were placed against the side, one for the passengers on the banquette to get down by, and the other to enable the blouses that stood waiting there to uncover and get down the baggage. Rollo did not wait for his turn at the ladder, but climbed down the side of the coach by means of any projecting irons or steps that he could find to cling to.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. Holiday, "the hotel is pretty near, and we are going to walk there. I am going to leave you here to select out our baggage, when they get it down, and to bring it along by means of a porter."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "I should like to do that. But what hotel is it?"
"The Hotel de l'Ecu," said Mr. Holiday.
So Mr. and Mrs. Holiday walked along the pier to the hotel, leaving Rollo to engage a porter and to follow in due time.
The porter carried the baggage on his back, by means of a frame, such as has been already described. Rollo followed him, and thus he arrived at last safely at the hotel.
One of the greatest sources of interest and pleasure for travellers who visit Switzerland and the Alps for the first time, especially if they are travellers from America, is the novelty of the arrangements and usages of the hotels.
One reason why every thing is so different in a Swiss hotel from what we witness in America is, that all the arrangements are made to accommodate parties travelling for pleasure. Every thing is planned, therefore, with a view of making the hotel as attractive and agreeable to the guests as possible.
The Hotel de l'Ecu, where our party have now arrived, is very pleasantly situated on the quay facing the lake. It stands near the further end of the bridge, as seen in the engraving on page 58. It is the building where you see the flag flying.
Indeed, all the principal hotels in Geneva are situated on the quay. Quite a number of the large and handsome edifices which you see in the engraving, on both sides the water, are hotels. The hotel keepers know very well that most of the travellers that come to Switzerland come not on business, but to see the lakes, and mountains, and other grand scenery of their country. Accordingly, in almost every place, the situation chosen for the hotels is the one which commands the prettiest views.
Then, in arranging the interior of the house, they always place the public apartments, such as the breakfast and dining rooms, and the reading room, in the pleasantest part of it; and they have large windows opening down to the floor, and pretty little tables in the recesses of them, so that while you are eating your breakfast or reading the newspapers you have only to raise your eyes and look out upon the most charming prospects that the town affords.
Then, besides this, they have gardens, and summer houses, and raised terraces, overlooking roads, or rivers, or beautiful valleys, and little observatories, and many other such contrivances to add to the charms of the hotel, and make the traveller's residence in it more agreeable.
They hope in this way to induce the traveller to prolong his stay at their house. And it has the intended effect. Indeed, at almost every hotel where a party of travellers arrive, in a new town, their first feeling almost always is, that they shall wish to remain there a week.
What a pleasant place! they say to each other; and what a beautiful room! Look at the mountains! Look at the torrent pouring through the valley! What a pretty garden! And this terrace, where we may sit in the evening, and have our tea, and watch the people across the valley, going up and down the mountain paths. I should like to stay here all summer.
Then the next place where they stop may be on a lake; and there, when they go to the window of their rooms, or of the breakfast room, they look out and say,--
Ah! see what a beautiful view of the lake! How blue the water is! See the sail boats and the row boats going to and fro. And down the lake, as far as I can see, there is a steamer coming. I see the smoke. And beyond, what a magnificent range of mountains, the tops all covered with glaciers and snow!
When Rollo entered the hotel at Geneva, he found himself ushered first into a large, open apartment, which occupied the whole centre of the building, and extended up through all the stories, and was covered with a glass roof above. There were galleries all around this apartment, in the different stories. Doors from these galleries, on the back sides of them, led to the various rooms, while on the front sides were railings, where you could stand and look down to the floor below, and see the travellers coming and going.
At one end of this hall was a winding staircase, with broad and easy stone steps. This staircase ascended from story to story, and communicated by proper landings with the galleries of the several floors.
This hall, though it was thus very public in its character, was very prettily arranged. The galleries which opened upon it on the different stories were adorned with balconies, and the walls of it were hung with maps and pictures of Alpine scenery, pretty engravings of hotels standing in picturesque spots on the margins of lakes, or on the banks of running streams, or hidden away in some shady glen, in the midst of stupendous mountains. Then, besides these pictures, the hall was adorned with statues, and vases of flowers; and there was a neat little table, with writing materials and the visitor's book upon it, and various other fixtures and contrivances to give the place an agreeable and home-like air.
As Rollo came into the hall, accompanied by the porter, a clerk came out to meet him from a little office on one side, and told him that his father and mother were in their room; and he sent a messenger to show Rollo and the porter the way to it.
Rollo accordingly followed the messenger and the porter up stairs, and was ushered into a very pleasant room on the second story, looking out upon the lake and the river. Rollo went immediately to the window. His mother was sitting at the window when he entered the room.
"This is a pretty window, Rollo," said she; "come and look out.
"See how many bridges!" said she, when Rollo had come to her side.
"And how swift the water runs under them!" said Rollo.
"There are some boys fishing," said Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes," said Rollo; "I should think there would be plenty of trout in such a river as this, it runs so swift and is so clear. This is just such a place as I like. See that big water wheel, mother."
So saying, Rollo pointed to a large mill wheel which was slowly revolving by the side of a building that projected out over the water, on the island.
The island where Rollo saw the wheel was not the one seen in the engraving on page 58. That is called the _islet_, and it stands _in the lake_, entirely on the outer side of the first bridge. The _island_, on the other hand, stands in the rapid current of the river, below the second bridge, and is entirely covered, as has already been said, with tall and very antique looking buildings. The current is so rapid along the sides of this island, and along the adjacent shores, that it will carry a mill any where wherever they set a wheel.
"After we have had breakfast," said Rollo, "I mean to go out and explore all those bridges, and go about all over the island."
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday; "that will be very pleasant. I should like very much to go with you; and I will, if the sun does not come out too warm."
By this time Mr. Holiday had paid and dismissed the porter; and he now turned to Rollo, and asked him if he would like to go down and order breakfast. Rollo said that he should like to go very much.
"Go down, then," said Mr. Holiday, "into the dining room, and choose a table there, near a pleasant window, and order breakfast."
"What shall I order?" asked Rollo.
"Any thing you please," said Mr. Holiday; "you know what will make a good breakfast."
So Rollo went out of the room, in order to go down stairs. He passed all around the gallery of the story he was in, looking at the pictures that were hung upon the walls as he went, and then descended the staircase to the lower floor. Here he found doors opening into the dining room, which extended along the whole front of the hotel towards the lake. The room was large, and was very beautifully furnished. There was a long table extending up and down the middle of it. On the back side were sofas, between the doors. On the front side was a range of windows looking out upon the river. The windows were large, and as the walls of the hotel were very thick, a recess was formed for each, and opposite each recess was a round table. These tables were all set for breakfasts or dinners.
Some of these tables were occupied. Rollo chose the pleasantest of the ones that were at liberty, and took his seat by the side of it. Presently a very neatly-dressed and pleasant-looking young man came to him, to ask what he would have. This was the waiter; and Rollo made arrangements with him for a breakfast. He ordered fried trout, veal cutlets, fried potatoes, an omelette, coffee, and bread and honey. His father and mother, when they came to eat the breakfast, said they were perfectly satisfied with it in every respect.
A RIDE IN THE ENVIRONS.
One morning, a day or two after our party arrived at Geneva, Mr. Holiday told Rollo, as they were sitting at their round breakfast table, at one of the windows looking out upon the lake, that he had planned a ride for that day; and he said that Rollo, if he wished, might go too.
"Well, sir," said Rollo; "only I think I should like better to go and take a sail."
"I believe boys generally like to sail better than to ride," said Mr. Holiday; "but the places that we are going to are where we cannot reach them in a boat. However, I will make you an offer. We are going to ride in a carriage to-day, and we should like very much to have you go with us. Now, if you will go with us on this ride, I will go and take you out on the lake to sail some other day."
"Well, sir," said Rollo, joyfully. "But how far will you take me?"
"As far as you wish to go," said Mr. Holiday.
"O, father!" said Rollo; "I should wish to go to the very farthest end of the lake."
"Well," said his father, "I will take you there."
It must not at all be supposed from this conversation that Mr. Holiday considered it necessary to make a bargain with his boy, to induce him to go any where or to do any thing that he desired. He put the case in this way to amuse Rollo, and to interest him more in proposed expeditions.
"There are three distinguished personages," said Mr. Holiday, "whose names and histories are intimately associated with Geneva, because they all lived in Geneva, or in the environs of it. These three persons are Madame de Stael, John Calvin, and Voltaire. I will tell you something about them on the way. As soon as you have finished your breakfast you may go and engage a carriage for us. Get a carriage with two horses, and have it ready at half past ten."
Rollo was always much pleased with such a commission as this. He engaged a very pretty carriage, with two elegant black horses. The carriage had a top which could be put up or down at pleasure. Rollo had it put down; for, though it was a pleasant day, there were clouds enough in the sky to make it pretty shady.
There was a front seat in the carriage, where Rollo might sit if he chose; but he preferred riding outside with the postilion.
"And then," said Rollo to his father, "if there are any directions to be given to the postilion, or if you have any questions for me to ask, I can speak to him more conveniently."
"Is that the true reason why you wish to ride there?" asked his father.
"Why, no, father," said Rollo. "The true reason is, that I can see better."
"They are both very good reasons," said Mr. Holiday. "Then, besides, when you get tired of riding there you can come inside."
Accordingly, when the carriage came to the door, Rollo, after seeing his father and mother safely seated inside, mounted on the top with the postilion, and so they rode away.
They repassed the bridge by which they had entered Geneva, and then turned to the right by a road which led along the margin of the lake, at a little distance from the shore.
The road was very smooth and hard, and the country was beautiful. Sometimes the road was bordered on each side by high walls, which formed the enclosures of gardens or pleasure grounds. Sometimes it was open, and afforded most enchanting views of the lake and of the ranges of mountains beyond. But what chiefly amused and occupied Rollo's mind was the novelties which he observed in the form and structure of every thing he saw by the wayside. Such queer-looking carts and wheelbarrows, such odd dresses, such groups of children at play, such gates, such farmyards, such pumps and fountains by the roadside--every thing, indeed, was new and strange.
After the party had been riding about an hour and a half, they passed through a village which consisted, like those which Rollo had seen on the road from Lyons, of compact rows of old and quaint-looking stone houses, close to the roadside. The postilion stopped at this village to give the horses a little drink.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. Holiday, "I wish you would get down, and come inside a little while."
Rollo obeyed; and when the carriage began to go on again, his father addressed him as follows:
"We are going to see the residence of Madame de Stael. She was one of the most celebrated ladies that ever lived. She was distinguished as an authoress. You don't know any thing about her now, and I suppose you don't care much about her."
"No, sir," said Rollo; "I do not."
"But then," continued his father, "in a few years more you will very probably read some of her writings; and at any rate you will often hear of them. One of the most celebrated of her works is a tale called Corinne."
"Ah, yes," said Rollo; "I have heard of Corinne. The first class in French studied it at school."
"Very likely," said Mr. Holiday. "It is a very good text book for studying French. At any rate it is a famous book, and Madame de Stael is a very celebrated author. She was a lady, too, while she lived, of great personal distinction. Her rank and position in society were very exalted. She associated with kings and princes, and was closely connected with many of the great political transactions of the day in which she lived. This, of course, added greatly to her renown.
"Her father was a very distinguished man, too. His name was Monsieur Necker. He was a great statesman and financier. The King of France got his money affairs in the greatest confusion and difficulty, and he appointed Monsieur Necker his minister of finance, to try to put them in order."
"And did he succeed?" asked Rollo.
"No," said Mr. Holiday; "it was too late. The disorder was hopeless, and it ended in the great French revolution. But Necker became a very celebrated character in history. We are going to see the chateau where he lived. We shall see the room where his daughter wrote Corinne. I wish you to observe carefully all that you see, and remember it. Hereafter, when you come to read the history of France and the writings of Madame de Stael, you will look back with great pleasure to the visit you made when a boy to the chateau of Necker, near Geneva."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo, "I will."
A short time after this the carriage stopped in a shady place under some trees, near the entrance to a village. The postilion descended and opened the carriage door, and then pointed up an avenue of trees, which he said led to the chateau. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday got out of the carriage and walked up the avenue. Rollo followed them.
They came at length to the chateau. There was a large portal, closed by an iron gate. On one side of the portal was a lodge. A porter came out of the lodge, and Mr. Holiday asked him if they could see the chateau. He answered very politely that they could; and immediately opening the iron gate, he ushered the whole party into the court yard.
The court yard was a very pleasant place. It was surrounded on three sides by the buildings of the chateau, which were quite imposing in their character, like a palace. The fourth side was formed by a handsome wall, with a large ornamented gateway in the centre of it, leading into a garden.
The entrance to the chateau was at a large door in the middle of one side of the yard. The porter ascended the steps, and rang the bell. He said to Mr. Holiday that some one would come to conduct the party over the chateau, and then went back to his lodge.
Presently a well-dressed man came to the door. He received the party in a very polite and friendly manner, and invited them in.
The first apartment that they entered was a hall. The hall was very large, and was finished and furnished like a room, with chairs, sofas, and a great fireplace. On one side was a broad stone staircase, ornamented with a massive balustrade. The concierge led the way up this staircase to a sort of gallery on the second story. From this gallery a door opened, leading to the suite of apartments which Monsieur Necker and his distinguished daughter had occupied.
The rooms were constructed and arranged in the style common in French palaces. They were situated in the line of building which formed the front of the chateau; and on the front side of each of them were windows looking out upon the lake. Of course these windows formed the range of windows in the second story of the principal front of the edifice.
On the back side of each of these rooms was a door communicating with the gallery behind them, or with some subordinate apartments depending upon them.
Besides these doors, there were others which connected the different apartments of the suite with each other. These doors were all in a line, and they were near the side of the room where the windows were which looked out upon the lake. Thus one could pass through the whole suite of apartments by walking along from one to another through these doors, passing thus just in front of the range of windows.
The rooms were all beautifully furnished in the French style. There were richly carved cabinets and book cases, and splendid mirrors, and sofas and chairs, and paintings and statues. One room was the library. Another was a bedroom. In one there were several portraits on the wall. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday seemed particularly interested in examining these portraits. One represented Madame de Stael herself; another, her father, Monsieur Necker; a third, her mother, Madame Necker. Besides these, there were some others of the family.
Rollo looked at all these portraits, as his father requested him to do; but he was more interested in two other objects which stood on a table in the same room. These objects were two little figures, one representing a horse and the other a lamb. These figures were under a glass. The horse was about a foot long, and the lamb about six inches. The horse was of a very pretty form, and was covered with hair, like a living animal. The lamb in the same manner was covered with wool. Indeed, they were both in all respects models of the animals they represented in miniature.
Rollo asked the concierge what they were.
"Ah," said he, "those are models of a favorite horse and a favorite lamb that belonged to Monsieur Necker. When they died he was very sorry; and he had these models of them made, to perpetuate the memory of them."
After this, in other rooms, the party were shown the table at which Madame de Stael sat in writing Corinne, and the inkstand that she used; and when they went down stairs, the concierge showed them into a large hall, which was situated directly below the rooms they had been visiting, where he said Madame de Stael used to have her dramas performed from time to time before an audience of friends and visitors from the neighborhood.
At length the concierge conducted the party to the door where they had come in. There Mr. Holiday, after giving him a franc, thanked him for his politeness, and bade him good bye. The party took a little walk in the garden, and then returned to the carriage and rode away.
The bodies of Monsieur Necker and of his daughter lie buried in a little grove of trees near the house. The party saw the grove, but visitors are not allowed to go to the graves.
On leaving the chateau, the carriage turned off from the lake, and took a road that led back more into the interior.
"What are we going to see next, father?" said Rollo.
"We are going to see the house where the famous philosopher, Voltaire, lived," replied Mr. Holiday; "though on the way we are going to see a fountain and cascade."
"Is there any thing very remarkable about the fountain?" asked Rollo.
"I don't know," said Mr. Holiday; "only it is mentioned in the guide books as worth being visited."
So the carriage drove on through a very beautiful country, with fields, and gardens, and country seats, and ancient chateaux bordering the way. From time to time, Rollo, on looking back, obtained splendid views of the lake behind him, and of the gently-sloping and highly-cultivated shore on the opposite side, with the snowy range of the Alps beyond, shining in the sun.
At length they arrived at a village, and stopped before an inn. The postilion said that they were to stop there with the carriage, and go to the fountain on foot.
"I will call some one to show you the way," said he.
So he went to one of the houses across the street, and called a woman of the village, and she said that she would go to the school and call her boy.
"But it is a pity," said Mr. Holiday, "to take the boy away from his school."
"O, no," said the woman; "that is nothing at all."
So she ran along the street of the village until she came to the school house, and presently she returned with the boy. He had a book in his hand. Rollo looked at the book, and found that it was a grammar. The covers of it were worn, and the leaves tumbled, and the beginning and end of it were filled with names scribbled on the blank pages, and rude drawings, which made it look exactly like the school books of idle boys, as Rollo had often seen them in America.
Rollo gave back the book to the boy, and the boy gave it to his mother, and then he began walking along the road, to show the party the way to the fountain.
He led them out of the village, and along the pleasant road, until at length they came to a place where there was an open gateway, through which they could see the beautiful grounds of a large country house, which appeared like a hotel. There were ladies and gentlemen walking about the grounds, along the margin of a large stream of water, or sitting in groups under the trees.
"What place is that?" said Rollo to the boy.
"It is a place of baths," said the boy.
Rollo wished to go in there and see the grounds; but the boy walked on, and so Rollo followed him. After a time the guide turned off into a field, and there took a path which led down toward a wood, where they could hear water running. When they came into the wood they saw the water. It was a large stream, large enough for a mill stream, and it ran foaming and tumbling down over its rocky bed in a very picturesque manner.
The walk led along the bank of the stream, under the trees. It was a wide and very pleasant walk, and was well gravelled. Here and there there were little seats, too, at pretty places formed by the windings of the glen.
After walking along a little way, and not coming to any thing more, Mrs. Holiday began to be tired.
"I wonder," said she, "if there is any thing remarkable to see at the end of this path."
"I'll ask the boy," said Rollo.
"Boy," he added, speaking to the little guide, "what is there to see up here?"
"It is this," said the boy, pointing to the brook.
"Isn't there any thing else besides this stream?" asked Rollo.
"No," said the boy.
"He says there is not any thing else," said Rollo to his mother; "and so I don't believe it is worth while to go any farther. We have seen this brook enough, and you will get very tired."
Mrs. Holiday sat down upon a green bench that happened to be near, at a turn of the stream, in order to take time to consider the question.
Mr. Holiday sat down beside her.
"We will wait here, Rollo, while you go on with the boy, and see what you can find. I think there must be something or other remarkable, for they would not make so good a path as this to lead to nothing at all. You may go on with the boy, and see what it comes to, and then you can come back and tell us."
Rollo liked this plan very much, and so he and the boy walked on.
In about five minutes Mr. Holiday heard Rollo calling to him.
"FA-THER! FA-THER!" said he.
"_Well_," said Mr. Holiday, "_I hear_."
"Come up here," said Rollo, calling out again. "It is a very curious place indeed."
So Mr. and Mrs. Holiday rose, and after following the path a short distance farther through the wood, they came to where Rollo was. They found, to their astonishment, that there the brook which they had been following so long came to a sudden end, or rather to a sudden beginning; for the whole volume of water that composed it was seen here to come boiling up out of the ground in a sort of shallow basin, which was formed on the hill side at the head of the glen.
The place was very secluded, but it was very beautiful. It was shaded with trees, which overhung the paths, and the basin, and the various channels of water which flowed from it and around it. The water boiled up very copiously from between the stones that had been set up to form the margin of the basin, and also among the sands which formed the bottom of it. The walk was conducted all around this singular fountain; and it passed across the outlet, where the stream flowed away from it, over a neat little stone dike, which formed the edge of the basin on the lower side.
Rollo led the way to the middle of this dike, and his father and mother followed. They stood there for some time, looking down into the basin to see the water boil up from between the stones and among the sands.
"This is a very curious place indeed," said Mrs. Holiday.
"It certainly is," said Mr. Holiday.
"Well, father," said Rollo, after gazing for some time into the bubbling and boiling fountain, "where does all this water come from? What makes it come up out of the ground?"
"Why, the truth is," said Mr. Holiday, "though it seems to come _up_, it really comes _down_.
"Do you see all this mountain up here?" he added. So saying he pointed to the land which seemed to rise to a great height above the head of the glen.
"Yes, sir," said Rollo.
"Well, this mountain," continued Mr. Holiday, "is full of water. All mountains are full of water, for it rains on the summits and sides of them almost continually, and this keeps them always full. Generally this water drains off down into the valleys, through the beds of sand and gravel that lie in the heart of the mountain, and so is not particularly observed. Sometimes it breaks out in small springs, at various places on the mountain sides; and sometimes the shape of the rocks and openings in the mountain are such as to collect a great quantity of it in one place, where it breaks out into the open ground altogether, as it does here. There are a great many such fountains in Switzerland."
"Are there any larger than this?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. Holiday, "ten times as large. Sometimes the water forms quite a little river almost immediately after it comes out of the ground."
"I should like to see them," said Rollo.
"Very likely you will see some of them," said his father.
"But then, father," said Rollo, "if this water all comes from the rain, I should think that when it stops raining on the mountain above, then or soon afterwards the water would stop boiling up here."
"No," said his father; "the mountain is so large, and the immense beds of sand, gravel, and rock which it contains hold so much water, that before all that has fallen in one rain has time to get drained away, another rain comes, and so there is a perpetual supply, especially for such fountains as come from channels that reach far into the mountain."
After rambling about this spot for some time, the party returned down the path; but instead of going back into the road again by the way they came, the boy led them through a gate into the grounds of the hotel which they had seen in coming.
The grounds were very beautiful, being shaded with trees, and full of walks; and the stream which came down the glen spread itself out in various directions all over them, filling a great number of channels and basins which had been opened here and there, and were seen in every direction among the trees and foliage. The water flowed very swiftly along from one of these basins to another, sometimes in a continuous torrent, and sometimes by a series of cascades and waterfalls; and in the bottoms of all the little ponds the water was seen boiling up in the clean gray sand, just as it had done in the fountain up the glen.
There were walks every where along the banks of these streams, and little bridges leading across them. There were seats, too, and bowers, and a great many other pretty places. At one spot under a tree was a large white swan, or rather a sculptured image of one, sitting on a marble stone, and pouring out a constant stream of clear cold water from his mouth. Underneath, on a little marble slab, was a tumbler, placed there to enable people to take a drink. Rollo stopped to take a drink; but instead of using the tumbler, he caught the water in a drinking cup which he had bought in Scotland, and which he always carried in his pocket.
After rambling about these grounds for some time, the party went back through the yard of the hotel to the village. There they dismissed the boy. Mr. Holiday gave him half a franc for guiding them. Then they got into their carriage again, and rode on.
In about an hour they came to a little village named Ferney, near which was the chateau that was formerly the residence of the celebrated philosopher Voltaire. The carriage stopped under some ancient trees, and Mr. and Mrs. Holiday and Rollo got out and walked up an avenue. At the head of the avenue they came to a gate which led into the grounds of the chateau.
There was a bell cord hanging by this gate, and a placard up, requesting visitors to ring the bell, and not to enter the grounds until the domestic should come to guide them.
"Shall I ring, father?" said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. Holiday; "ring away."
So Rollo pulled the bell rope, and very soon a domestic came. He received the company very politely, and invited them to follow him.
Mr. and Mrs. Holiday and Rollo accordingly followed him into the yard. The domestic led them round to the front of the house, which was turned away from the road. The front faced a beautiful lawn, ornamented with walks and trees. In one place there was a table under the trees, with seats around it, as if the family were accustomed sometimes to take their tea there. From this lawn there was a beautiful view of the lake and of the mountains beyond.
The domestic led them into the house, and showed them the two rooms in it which contained most of the memorials of Voltaire. The most remarkable of these memorials was a marble monument which stood on one side of the room, and which Rollo said looked like an ornamental stove, that contained Voltaire's _heart_. His body was buried in Paris, but his heart was deposited in this sepulchral urn.
Besides this there were a number of pictures in the room, which had been placed there by Voltaire. Some of them had been given to him by the emperors and kings that he had been acquainted with.
Rollo, however, did not take much interest in any of these things. The singular appearance of the room and of the furniture interested him in some degree by its novelty, but in other respects he was very little amused by what he saw. He was glad when the visit to the house was over, and he came out again upon the lawn.
From the lawn there was a very splendid view. There was a broad and very fertile slope of land extending for several miles down to the shore of the lake. Beyond it was seen the blue expanse of the water, and still farther another magnificent slope of fertile and richly-cultivated land, which extended back beyond the lake to the foot of the mountains. A lofty range of snow-clad summits rose in the distance, the towering summit of Mont Blanc reposing like a monarch in the midst of them.
There was a curious covered walk along on one side of this lawn. It was a walk covered with foliage. It was walled in on the sides, too, as well as covered above with the foliage. Two hedges had been planted, one on each side; and as they had grown, the leaves and branches had been trimmed off straight and smooth like a wall. Then the tops had been trained to meet overhead, and the foliage had been trimmed square and flat on the upper side, and in an arch on the under side. So dense was the growth of the leaves and branches that the whole alley was closely and completely enclosed, so that it would not have been possible to look out of it at all, had it not been that a row of square openings like windows had been made on the side towards the lake. Any one could look out and view the scenery through these openings as he walked along.
Voltaire used to compose his works in this alley, it was said. He would walk up and down, and dictate as he walked to his amanuensis, who sat near at hand with pen and ink to write down the philosopher's words.
After this the domestic conducted the party through a wood, and showed them a tree which Voltaire had planted. It was now a tree of great size, and apparently far advanced in age.
Rollo took very little interest in this tree, and even his father and mother did not appear to pay much attention to it. It seemed, however, that other visitors had not felt the same indifference to it, for those who had come to see it had picked off and cut off so many pieces of bark to carry away as relics that the tree, on one side had become entirely excoriated, and there was danger that in the end the poor sufferer from these depredations would be killed. In order to protect it, therefore, from any further injury, the proprietor had surrounded it with a little circular paling, so that now nobody could come near enough to touch the tree.
Rollo was glad when the visit to this place was ended; so he ran on before his father and mother in going out, and was on his seat by the side of the postilion long before they came to the carriage.
Ferney, though so near to Geneva, is within the confines of France, and the carriage passed the line between the two countries in going home. There was a little custom house and two or three armed policemen at the frontier; but the party of travellers were not molested, and so in due time they arrived safely home.
THE JUNCTION OF THE ARVE.
One evening, when Rollo was walking with his father and mother on one of the bridges which led over the river, they stopped at a place where two boys were fishing, and looked down over the railing into the water. The water was quite deep, but they could see the stones on the bottom of it almost as distinctly as if they had been looking only through the air.
"How very clear the water is!" said Mrs. Holiday; "and what a beautiful tinge it has! What is the reason of it?"
"I don't know what the reason is of the blue tinge," said Mr. Holiday; "but the cause of its being so clear is, that it flows out of this great lake, where it has been lying so long that it has had time to settle perfectly.
"There is a great difference in the streams of Switzerland," continued Mr. Holiday. "Some are exceedingly clear, and some are exceedingly turbid. There are two ways by which the turbid waters become purified. One is, by being filtered through the sands under ground; and the other is, by '_settling_', as we call it, in the lakes. The water of the fountain that we saw on our way to Ferney was beautifully clear, and it was made so by filtration in the sand, in coming down through the heart of the mountain. This water, on the other hand, is made clear by its impurities subsiding in the lake."
"And it comes in muddy at the other end," said Rollo.
"Not muddy, exactly," rejoined Mr. Holiday, "but very turbid. The turbidness of it is not mud precisely. It comes from the grinding up of rocks by the slow march of the glaciers over and among them. Thus all the streams that come from glaciers are very turbid; and so long as the waters flow on in an uninterrupted stream they continue turbid; but when they form a lake, the particles of stone subside, and the water comes out at the lower end of the lake perfectly clear."
"And then continues clear till it gets to the ocean, I suppose," said Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes," replied Mr. Holiday, "unless some other turbid stream, which has no lake to settle itself in, falls into it and pollutes it again.
"That is the case with this river. It is very clear and beautiful here, where it comes out of the lake, but the Arve comes in a mile or two below Geneva, and brings an immense volume of turbid water. This makes the whole river turbid again after the waters of the two rivers have flowed long enough together to get well mixed, and then it continues turbid all the way to the sea. There is no other lake to settle it.
"I am told," said Mr. Holiday, "that the coming in of the turbid torrent of the Arve into the clear blue waters of the Rhone is a very pretty spectacle, and I should like very much to see it; but it is rather too far to go."
"O, no, father," said Rollo; "let us go."
"How far is it?" asked Mrs. Holiday.
"About a mile, I should think, by the map," said Mr. Holiday; "but there seems to be no carriage road to the place. If there had been a carriage road I should have taken you there; for I should like very well to have you see the place."
"But, father, we can walk there very easily," said Rollo. "There is a nice path along the bank of the river. I saw it the other day, when I was down below the bridge."
"Well," said Mrs. Holiday, "I should like to go very much, if we could go in the morning or in the evening, when it is cool. Is the walk shady, Rollo?"
"Yes, mother, it is shady in the morning. There is a high hedge all along on one side of the path, and that keeps the sun off in the morning. In the evening the sun comes round to the other side."
"Then we will go in the morning," said Mrs. Holiday. "Let us get up early to-morrow morning, and go before breakfast."
Mrs. Holiday was really desirous of seeing this famous junction of the Rhone and the Arve; but her chief interest in making the excursion arose from her sympathy with Rollo, and from observing how much he wished to go. It is always so with a mother. When her children are kind and attentive to her, and obedient to her wishes, she always desires most strongly to do what will most gratify them.
The plan was arranged according to Mrs. Holiday's proposal, and the next morning the party set out at half past six o'clock. Rollo led the way.
"What I should like best," said Rollo, turning round so as to face his father and mother, and walking backward, "would be to take a boat, and shoot down the river under these bridges."
"Ah," said his father, "that would not do. The current is too swift. At any rate, if you were to go down you would never get the boat back again. The water runs like a mill race.
"Indeed, it _is_ a mill race," continued Mr. Holiday. "Don't you see the mill wheels projecting into the stream, here and there? They are carried by the natural force of the current."
After passing by the buildings of the town, Rollo led the way over a narrow wooden bridge, which passed across the old moat of the town. The remains of a monstrous bastion were to be seen beyond it.
"This is a part of the old fortifications," said Rollo. "They are cutting them all to pieces now with roads and bridges leading in and out the town."
After going beyond these embankments, Rollo led the way to a path which lay along the river side. Very soon the path began to be a very pleasant one indeed. Mrs. Holiday was delighted with it. It was close to the margin of the water, and only a very few inches above the level of it. The current was very swift, and the water was so blue, and clear, and beautiful, that it was a continual pleasure to look down into it, and to watch the little waves and ripples that curled, and twirled, and dashed against the shore.
There was a row of willows between the paths and the water, or rather in the margin of the water, for the path was so near to the stream that there was scarcely room for the willows on the land. On the other side of the path there was a close hedge, which formed the boundary of a region of fields, meadows, and gardens. Here and there were gates leading through this hedge; and the party, as they walked along, could look through the openings and see the peasant girls coming out to their work from the houses. The whole region, though it was highly cultivated and extremely beautiful, was very flat and level, and was only raised two or three feet above the level of the water.
From each gateway or other opening through the hedge there were paths leading off through the fields and gardens to the houses; and there were steps at the gates leading down to the pathway that lay along the margin of the stream. The people of the houses were accustomed, it seemed, to come down there to get water.
Thus the party walked along, with the rapid current of the river close to their feet on one side, and the high green hedge shutting them in on the other, while the tops of the willow trees spreading over their heads completed the coolness and shadiness of the pathway. Rollo led the way, and his father and mother followed, one by one, for the path was not wide enough for two to walk together.
[Illustration: THE WATER WHEEL.]
Presently they came to a place where a large water wheel of a very curious construction was seen revolving quite near the shore. They stopped to look at it. They liked to see it revolving; and then besides they wished to examine the construction of it. It was mounted on a frame of timbers that had been set up for it in the water, at a little distance from the shore. The wheel itself was much like the wheel of a steamboat; only, in addition to the ordinary float boards, it had a series of buckets on the edge of it, which took up the water from the stream, as the wheel revolved, and emptied it into a trough above, as they went over. From this trough there was a circular pipe, made very strong, which conveyed the water by a subterranean aqueduct into the field opposite, where it rose into a reservoir by the pressure of the column in the pipe, and was used to irrigate the ground.
Across the river at this place was a beautiful view of fields, vineyards, terraces, and gardens; for on that side the bank was high, and as the sun shone directly upon it, the whole scene presented to view was extremely bright and beautiful.
At one of the gates which opened through the hedge, Rollo stopped to look in. He saw gardens laid out in squares, with corn, and beans, and various garden vegetables growing luxuriantly in them. There were rows of fruit trees, too, bordering the paths, and at a distance were to be seen houses scattered here and there over the plain, the dwellings of the owners of the land. Each house had its little barns and granaries connected with it, the whole group being half concealed by the foliage of the trees and shrubs that had been planted around it.
"Will it do for us to go in," said Rollo to his father, "and walk a part of the way through these gardens?"
"Yes," said his father, "I presume it will do; but perhaps we had better go down all the way by the path, and come back by the gardens."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "that will be much the best plan.
"But, father," continued Rollo, "if we should go across these gardens, and keep on in that direction for some time, I suppose that we should come to the Arve."
"Yes," said his father; "the Arve is coming down from the mountains, and flowing towards the Rhone not very far from here, on the other side of this flat land. This land constitutes a sort of tongue lying between the two rivers. I suppose it has been formed by the deposits that the Arve brings down. I have no doubt that if we should walk across the tongue of land, we should come to the Arve; but it is better to go on down the path till we reach the point where the two rivers come together."
"Well," said Rollo, "we will go on."
So they went on along the path, as before.
Rollo soon had occasion to be glad that he had acceded so readily to his father's wishes to continue in the path; for he soon came to something that amused him very much. It was a man sitting in the top of one of the willow trees that overhung the path, fishing. The willow leaned very much, and this made it easy to climb the stem of it. It had been headed down, too, so that there was a pretty good place to sit on the top of it. It was on the very brink of the stream, and indeed the leaning of the stem carried the top of the willow somewhat over the water, and thus it made quite a good place to sit and fish.
The current flowed very swiftly under the willow tree, and the fishing line was carried far down the stream.
"Ah!" said Rollo; "that is just such a place as I should like to have. I should like to sit up in that tree and fish all the morning."
"I should think it might be a little lonesome," said Mr. Holiday.
"No," said Rollo; "or perhaps there might be some other boys in the other trees."
So saying, Rollo looked up and down the stream, to see if there were any other trees so formed as to furnish a seat for a fisherman in the top of them; but there were none.
Here you see a picture of the man as Rollo saw him.
As the party went on after this they found evidences increasing that they were drawing near to the junction of the rivers. The hedge became less regular, and at length ceased altogether. Its place was supplied by dense thickets formed of alders, willows, and long grass. The ground became more and more uneven, and at length nothing of the path was left but a narrow ridge or dike that had been formed artificially along the shore, with a crooked little footway on the top of it.
At last Rollo began to see through the bushes occasional glimpses of water on the other side.
"There, father!" said he, "there! We are coming to the Arve."
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday; "and I don't suppose that we can go much farther."
Indeed, it would have been impossible to go much farther, if there had not been a small embankment made to serve for a pathway. The party, though expecting every moment to be obliged to turn back, still went on. At length the whole expanse of the Arve opened before them as it came in from the left--its waters boiling, whirling, and sweeping in great circles as it came on, and the whole surface of it as gray as the sand on the shores. On the other side was the Rhone, blue, and pellucid, and beautiful as the sky above.
"What an extraordinary spectacle!" said Mr. Holiday.
"Come, mother," said Rollo, "we can go on a good deal farther yet."
Rollo was right; for the walk, instead of coming to an end at the extremity of the point which separated the two rivers, was continued along a little dike or embankment which seemed to have been made artificially some distance down between the two streams. This dike was very narrow, being just wide enough indeed for a narrow footpath.
In advancing along this path it was very curious to observe the totally different aspects of the water on the two sides of it. On the one side it was turbid and gray, and perfectly opaque. You could not have seen the pollywogs in the shallowest places along the margin. On the other side it was so clear and transparent that you could have seen fishes swimming where it was ten feet deep. It was of such a rich and beautiful blue color, too, as if it had been tinted with a dye, and the color was of so rich and brilliant a hue, that Mrs. Holiday was continually admiring and praising it.
This narrow path, dividing thus the waters of the two rivers, continued several yards; but at length it came to an end. The party all went on till they reached the extremity of it, and there, looking still farther on, they saw the line of demarcation between the gray water and the blue extending itself before them as far as they could see. The two rivers remained for a long distance perfectly distinct, though struggling and contending against each other, as it were, all the way. The line was broken and indented all along by the strife of the waters--the gray for a moment penetrating into the blue, and then the next instant the blue forcing itself into the gray. The waters went on struggling against each other in this manner as far as the eye could follow them.
The party remained on the extremity of the point a long time, observing this singular phenomenon. At length it began to be pretty warm there; for the narrow tongue of land which projected so far between the two currents was exposed to the sun, which had now risen so high that there was a good deal of heat in his rays.
So they set out on their return home. On the way back they walked a considerable distance through the fields and gardens. They went into them from the path along the shore, through one of the open gates, and they went back to the path again by another.
SEEING MONT BLANC GO OUT.
"Father," said Rollo to Mr. Holiday, at dinner one day, "what are you going to do this evening?"
"We are going to see Mont Blanc go out," said his father.
Mr. Holiday answered Rollo in French, using a phrase very common in Geneva to denote the gradual fading away of the rosy light left upon Mont Blanc by the setting sun; for the sun, just at the time of its setting, gilds the mountain with a peculiar rosy light, as if it were a cloud. This light gradually fades away as the sun goes down, until the lower part of the mountain becomes of a dead and ghostly white, while the roseate hue still lingers on the summit, as if the top of the mountain were tipped with flame. These last beams finally disappear, and then the whole expanse of snow assumes a deathlike and wintry whiteness. The inhabitants of Geneva, and those who live in the environs, often go out to their gardens and summer houses in the summer evenings, just as the sun is going down, to see, as they express it, Mont Blanc go out;[E] and strangers who visit Geneva always desire, if they can, to witness the spectacle. There are, however, not a great many evenings in the year when it can be witnessed to advantage, the mountain is so often enveloped in clouds.
[Footnote E: The phrase is, in French, _Pour voir le Mont Blanc s'eteindre_.]
Rollo had heard the phrase before, and he knew very well what his father meant.
"Well," said he, in a tone of satisfaction; "and may I go too?"
"Yes," said his father; "we should like to have you go very much. But there is a question to be decided--how we shall go. The best point of view is somewhere on the shore along the lake, on the other side of the bridge. There are three ways of going. We can walk across the bridge, and then follow the road along the shore till we come to a good place, or we can take a carriage, and order the coachman to drive out any where into the neighborhood, where there is a good view of the mountain, or we can go in a boat."
"In a boat, father!" said Rollo, eagerly. "Let us go in a boat!"
"The objection to that," said Mr. Holiday, "is, that it is more trouble to go and engage a boat. There are plenty of carriages here at the very door, and I can have one at a moment's notice, by just holding up my finger."
"And, father," said Rollo, "so there are plenty of boats right down here by the quay, and I can get one of them in a moment, just by holding up my finger."
"Well," said Mr. Holiday, "we will go in a boat if you will take all the trouble of engaging one."
Rollo liked nothing better than this, and as soon as dinner was over he went out upon the quay to engage a boat, while his father and mother went up to their room to get ready to go.
Rollo found plenty of boats at the landing. Some of them were very pretty. He chose one which seemed to have comfortable seats in it for his father and mother. It was a boat, too, that had the American flag flying at the stern. Some of the boatmen get American flags, and raise them on their boats, out of compliment to their numerous American customers.
Soon after Rollo had engaged the boat, his father and mother came, and they all embarked on board. The boatman rowed them off from the shore. The sun was just going down. There were a great many boats plying to and fro about the lake, and the quays and the little islet were crowded with people.
After rowing about a quarter of a mile, the boatman brought the range of the Alps into full view through an opening between the nearer hills. The sun was shining full upon them, and illuminating them with a dazzling white light, very beautiful, but without any rosy hue.
"They don't look rosy at all," said Rollo.
"No," said Mr. Holiday, "not now. They do not take the rosy hue till the sun has gone down."
The boatman rowed on a little farther, so as to obtain a still better view. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday watched the mountains; but Rollo was more interested in the scene immediately around him. He watched the boats that were plying to and fro over the surface of the lake, and the different parties of ladies and gentlemen in them. He gazed on the quays, too, all around, and on the islet, which was not far off, and on the people that he saw there, some walking to and fro, and others leaning over the parapet and looking out upon the water.
"Rollo," said Mr. Holiday, "see if there is a rudder."
"Yes, father, there is," said Rollo. So saying, he climbed over the seats, between his father and mother, and took his place by the rudder.
"Steer us, then, over to the opposite shore, wherever you see there is a pleasant place to land."
Rollo was glad and sorry both to receive this command. He was glad to have the pleasure of steering, but he was sorry that his father intended to land. He would have preferred remaining out upon the water.
He, however, obeyed his father's command, and steered towards the farther shore, turning the head of the boat in an oblique direction, a little way up the lake. Presently Mr. Holiday saw some friends of his in a boat that was coming in the opposite direction. He ordered Rollo to steer towards them. Rollo did so, and soon the boats came alongside. The oarsmen of both boats stopped rowing, and the two parties in them came to a parley.
There was a little girl in the other boat, named Lucia. There was no other child in that boat, and so there was nobody for Lucia to play with. Lucia therefore asked her father and mother to allow her to get over into Mr. Holiday's boat, so that she could have somebody to play with.
"Why, Lucia," said her mother, "Rollo is a great boy. He is too big to play with you."
"I know it," said Lucia; "but then he is better than nobody."
Rollo might perhaps have been made to feel somewhat piqued at being considered by a young lady as only better than nobody for a companion, had it not been for the nature of the objection, which was only that he was too large. So he felt complimented rather than otherwise, and he cordially seconded Lucia's wish that she might be transferred to his father's boat, and at length her mother consented. Lucia stepped carefully over the gunwales, and thus got into Mr. Holiday's boat. She immediately passed along to the stern, and took her place by the side of Rollo at the rudder. The boats then separated from each other, and each went on its own way.
"What is this handle," said Lucia, "that you are taking hold of?"
"It is the tiller," said Rollo.
"And what is it for?" asked Lucia.
"It is the handle of the rudder," said Rollo. "The rudder is what we steer the boat by, and the tiller is the handle of it. The rudder itself is down below the water."
So Rollo let Lucia look over the end of the boat and see the rudder in the water.
Rollo then proceeded to explain the operation of the rudder.
"You see," said he, "that when I move the tiller over _this_ way, then the head of the boat turns the other way; and when I move it over _that_ way, then the head of the boat comes round this way. The head of the boat always goes the contrary way."
"I don't see why it should go the contrary way," said Lucia. "I should think it ought to go the same way."
"No," replied Rollo; "it goes the contrary way. And now I am going to steer to a good place to land on the shore over there."
So saying, Rollo pointed to the shore towards which the boat was going.
The boat was now drawing near the shore. There was first a landing, where several small vessels were drawn up, and immense piles of wood in great wood yards.
This wood had a very singular appearance. The bark was all off, and the ends of the logs looked rounded and worn, as if they had been washed in the water. The reason was, that the wood had grown on the sides of the mountains, and had been brought down to the lake by the torrents which pour down the mountain sides with great force in time of rain.
"We won't land in the wood yards--will we?" said Rollo.
"No," said Lucia; "but _there's_ a pretty place to land, a little farther on."
So saying, Lucia pointed to a very pretty part of the shore, a little farther on. There seemed to be a garden, and a little green lawn, with large trees overshadowing it; and at one place there was a projecting point where there was a summer house with a table in it, and a seat outside, near the beach, under a bower.
"Yes," said Rollo; "that is a very pretty place; but it looks like private ground. I think we must not land there."
As the boat glided by this place, Rollo and Lucia saw some ladies and gentlemen sitting in the summer house. The gentlemen took off their hats and bowed to Mr. and Mrs. Holiday as they passed by.
Next the boat came to a place where there was a low parapet wall along the shore, and behind it were to be seen the heads of a number of men who seemed to be sitting at tables, and drinking coffee or beer.
"Here is a good place to land," said Lucia.
"No," said Rollo; "this seems to be some sort of public place, full of men. We had better go a little farther."
So Rollo steered on, keeping all the time at just a safe distance from the shore. The water was most beautifully transparent and clear, so that all the pretty stones and pebbles on the bottom could be seen very distinctly at a great depth.
"What pretty water!" said Lucia.
"Yes," said Rollo, "it is so clear."
"What makes it so clear?" asked Lucia.
"Because the lake is so long," said Rollo, "and this is the lower end of it, and the water has time to settle. At the other end, where the water comes in, it is not so clear. This is the end where the water runs out."
A moment afterwards they came to a very pleasant landing, at a place where the road lay pretty near the water. Between the road and the water, however, there was a space of green grass, with large trees overshadowing it, and several wooden settees, painted green, under the trees.
"Ah!" said Rollo, "here is just the place for us.
"Father," he added, "do you think it would be a good plan to land here?"
"Yes," said his father; "we could not have had a better place. I thought you would find a pleasant landing for us if I gave you the command."
So Rollo brought the boat up to the shore, and they all got out. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday walked up and took their seats on one of the settees, while Rollo and Lucia began to run about and play along the parapet wall which separated the promenade from the water.
Mr. and Mrs. Holiday watched the mountains. The sun had now just gone down, though his beams still tipped the summits of the hills, and were reflected from the windows of the distant houses. The snow on the mountains, too, began to assume a very beautiful rosy hue, which increased in brilliancy the farther the sun went down, and the more the lower lands became darkened.
"How beautiful it is!" said Mrs. Holiday.
"It is very beautiful indeed," said her husband.
"Rollo," said Mrs. Holiday, "look at Mont Blanc. See how bright and rosy he looks."
"Yes, mother," said Rollo; "and look out on the lake, and see the heads of those two boys swimming in the water."
"Are those the heads of boys?" asked Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes, mother," said Rollo; "see how far they are swimming out."
When Mrs. Holiday looked back at the mountain, she found, to her great disappointment, that the rosy color which had appeared so beautiful a moment before had now disappeared; and the whole snowy side of the range, up to the summits of the loftiest peaks, was of a cold, dead white, as if the rays of the sun had been entirely withdrawn.
"Ah! look!" she said to Mr. Holiday, in a tone of disappointment; "Mont Blanc has gone out while we have been looking another way."
Mr. Holiday gazed intently at the mountain, and very soon he saw the rosy tint beginning to appear again on one of the summits, more brilliant than ever.
"No," said he, "the sun has not gone. I thought it could not have gone down so soon. There must have been a cloud in the way."
While Mr. Holiday had been speaking, the rekindling of the mountain had gone on apace, and now the whole side of it was all in a glow.
Just at this instant Rollo heard the sound of a gun. Lucia started and looked alarmed.
"What is that gun?" said Rollo; "and where was it? Let us look for the smoke."
So Rollo and Lucia, leaning over the parapet, began to look all about among the boats and vessels of the lake, and along the opposite shore, in the direction from which the sound of the report had seemed to come, and very soon their eyes rested upon a volume of blue smoke which was ascending from the bows of a little vessel that had just come in, and was floating off gracefully into the air.
"It is that vessel that has just got in," said Rollo.
"Rollo," said Mrs. Holiday, "look at the mountain."
Rollo turned his eye for a moment towards the mountain. All the lower part of it was of a cold and deathlike whiteness, while the tip of the summit was glowing as if it had been on fire. He was, however, too much interested in the smoke of the gun to look long at the mountain.
"Hark!" said he to Lucia; "let us see if they will not fire again."
They did not fire again; and just as Rollo began to give up expecting that they would, his attention, as well as that of Lucia, was attracted to a little child who was playing with a small hammer in the gravel not far from where they were standing. The mother of the child was sitting on a bench near by, knitting. The hammer was small, and the claw of it was straight and flat. The child was using it for a hoe, to dig a hole in the gravel.
"Now," said Rollo, "if I could find a shingle any where about here, I would make that child a shovel to dig with."
Rollo looked about, but there was nothing like a shingle to be seen.
In a few minutes his father called him.
"Rollo," said he, "we are going back. Mont Blanc has gone out. See!"
Rollo looked. He saw that the last lingering rays of the sun had gone from the summit of the mountain, though they still gilded a small rounded cloud that floated just above it in the sky.
"Yes, sir," said Rollo. "I'll go and call the boat."
"We are not going back in the boat," said Mr. Holiday; "we have concluded to walk round by land, and over the bridge. It will be better for Lucia to go with us; but you may do as you please. You may walk with us, or go in the boat with the boatman."
Rollo at first thought that he should prefer to go in the boat; but he finally concluded to accompany his father and mother. So the whole party returned together by a pleasant road which led through a village by the shore.
When they came out to the quay they heard a band of music playing. The band was stationed on the little islet which has already been described. The party stopped on the bridge to listen; at least Mr. and Mrs. Holiday listened, but Rollo and Lucia occupied themselves the while in looking down in the clear depths of the water, which was running so swiftly and so blue beneath the piers of the bridge, and watching to see if they could see any fishes there. Lucia thought at one time that she saw one; but Rollo, on examining the spot, said it was only a little crevice of the rock wiggling.
"What makes it wiggle?" asked Lucia.
"The little waves and ripples of the current," said Rollo.
* * * * *
When Rollo reached the hotel, a gentleman who met the party in the hall said to him,--
"Well, Rollo, have you been to see Mont Blanc go out?"
"Yes, sir," said Rollo.
"And how did you like it?" said the gentleman.
"I liked it very much indeed," said Rollo. "I think it was sublime."
A LAW QUESTION.
"Now, father," said Rollo, one evening, as he was sitting at the window with his father and mother, looking out upon the blue waters of the Rhone, that were shooting so swiftly under the bridges beneath the windows of the hotel, "you promised me that you would take as long a sail on the lake with me as I wished."
"Well," said his father, "I acknowledge the promise, and am ready to perform it."
"When?" asked Rollo.
"At any time," said his father.
"Then, father, let us go to-morrow," said Rollo. "We can't go to-night, for I am going so far that it will take all day. I am going to the farther end of the lake."
"Very well," said his father; "I said I would take as long a sail as you wished."
"And I will go this evening and engage a sail boat," said Rollo, "so as to have it all ready."
There was always quite a little fleet of sail boats and row boats of all kinds lying near the principal landing at the quay, ready for excursions. Rollo's plan was to engage one of these.
"No," said his father; "we will not take a sail boat; we will take a steamboat."
Besides the sail boats and row boats, there were a number of large and handsome steamboats plying on the lake. There were two or three that left in the morning, between seven and eight o'clock, and then there were one or two at noon also. Those that left in the morning had time to go to the farther end of the lake and return the same day; while those that left at noon came back the next morning. Thus, to see the lake, you could go in the forenoon of one day, and come back in the afternoon of the same, or you could go in the afternoon of one day, and come back in the morning of the next.
"Which would you do?" said Mr. Holiday to Rollo.
"But, father," said Rollo, "I think it would be pleasanter to go in a sail boat. Besides, you said that you would take me to a sail; and going in a steamboat is not sailing."
"What is it doing?" said Mr. Holiday.
"Steaming," said Rollo. "A steamer does not sail in any sense."
Mr. Holiday smiled and then paused. He was reflecting, apparently, upon what Rollo had been saying.
"Then, besides," said Rollo, "don't you think, father, it would be pleasanter to go in a sail boat?"
"The first question is," said Mr. Holiday, "whether I am bound by my promise to go with you in a sail boat, if you prefer it. I said I would take you to a sail. Would taking you in a steamboat be a fulfilment of that promise? Suppose we refer the question to an umpire, and see how he will decide it."
"Yes; but, father," said Rollo, "if you think it is best to go in the steamer, I should not insist upon the sail boat, by any means; so it is not necessary to leave it to any umpire. I will give it up."
"I know you would be willing to give it up," said Mr. Holiday; "but then we may as well first ascertain how the case actually stands. Let us first determine what the promise binds me to. If it does not bind me to go in a sail boat, then it is all right; there will be no need of any giving up. If, on the other hand, my promise does bind me to go in a sail boat, then you will consider whether you will release me from it or not, if I ask it. Besides, it will amuse us to have the question regularly decided; and it will also be a good lesson for you, in teaching you to think and speak with precision when you make promises, and to draw exact lines in respect to the performance of them."
"Well, sir," said Rollo; "who shall be the umpire?"
"Mr. Hall," said his father. "He is down in the dining room now, taking tea."
Mr. Hall was a lawyer, an acquaintance of Mr. Holiday's, whom he had accidentally met at Geneva.
"He is a lawyer," said Mr. Holiday, "and he will be a very good umpire."
"Is it a law question?" asked Rollo.
"Not exactly a law question," said Mr. Holiday, "but all such questions require for an umpire a man who is accustomed to think precisely. That is their very business. It is true that there are a great many other men besides lawyers who think precisely; and there are some lawyers who think and reason very loosely, and come to hasty and incorrect conclusions. Still, you are more likely to get a good opinion on such a subject from a lawyer than from other men taken at random. So, if you please, you may go down and state the question to Mr. Hall, and I will abide by his decision."
"Well, sir," said Rollo, "I will."
"Only," said Mr. Holiday, "you must state the question fairly. Boys generally, when they go to state a question of this kind in which they are interested, state it very unfairly."
"How, for instance?" asked Rollo.
"Why, suppose," said Mr. Holiday, "that you were to go to Mr. Hall, and say, 'Mr. Hall, father promised me that he would take me out on a sail upon the lake, as far as I wanted to go, and don't you think he ought to do it?'"
Rollo laughed heartily at this mode of putting the question. "Yes," said he, "that sounds exactly like a boy. And what would be a fair way of stating it?"
"A fair way would be," said Mr. Holiday, "to present the simple question itself, without any reference to your own interest in it, and without any indication whatever of your own wish or opinion in respect to the decision of it; as, for example, thus: 'Mr. Hall, I have a question to ask you. Suppose one person promises another that he will take him out to sail on the lake on a certain day; then, when the day comes, the promiser proposes to go in the steamboat. Would that be a good fulfilment of the promise, or not?'"
"Well, sir," said Rollo, "I will state it so."
So Rollo went down stairs into the dining room. There were various parties there, seated at the different tables. Some were taking tea, some were looking at maps and guide books, and some discussing the plan of their tours. One of the sofas had half a dozen knapsacks upon it, which belonged to a party of pedestrians that had just come in.
Rollo looked about the room, and presently saw Mr. Hall, with his wife and daughter, sitting at a table near a window. He went to him, and stated the question.
The lawyer heard Rollo attentively to the end, and then, instead of answering at once, O, yes, or O, no, as Rollo had expected, he seemed to stop to consider.
"That is quite a nice question," said Mr. Hall. "Let us look at it. The point is, whether an excursion in a steamboat is a _sail_, in the sense intended by the promise."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "that is the point exactly. I think it is not; father thinks it is."
The instant that these words were out of Rollo's mouth he was sorry that he had spoken them; for by speaking them he had furnished an indication to the umpire of what his own opinion and his own interests were in respect to the decision, which it never is fair to do in such a case, when the other party is not present to express _his_ views and advocate his interests. The words once spoken, however, could not be recalled.
"Steamboats are certainly not propelled by sails," said the lawyer, "but yet we often apply the word _sailing_ to them. We say, for instance, that a certain steamer will sail on such or such a day. So we say, There was no news from such or such a place when the steamer sailed."
"But it seems to me," said Rollo, "that the question is not what people call it, but what it really is. The going of a steamboat is certainly not sailing, in any sense."
It was quite ingenious arguing on Rollo's part, it must be acknowledged; but then it was wholly out of order for him to argue the question at all. He should have confined himself strictly to a simple statement of the point, since, as his father was not present to defend _his_ side of the question, it was obviously not fair that Rollo should urge and advocate his.
"It might, at first view," said Mr. Hall, "seem to be as you say, and that the question would be solely what the steamer actually does. But, on reflection, you will see that it is not exactly so. Contracts and promises are made in language; and in making them, people use language as other people use it, and it is to be interpreted in that way. For instance: suppose a lodging-house keeper in the country should agree to furnish a lady a room in the summer where the sun did not come in at all, and then should give her one on the south side of the house, which was intolerably hot, and should claim that he had fulfilled his agreement because the sun did not itself _come_ into the room at all, but only shone in; that would not be a good defence. We must interpret contracts and promises according to the ordinary use and custom of people in the employment of language.
"Still," said Mr. Hall, "although we certainly do apply the simple term _sailing_ to a steamer, I hardly think that a trip in a steamer on a regular and established route would be called, according to the ordinary and established use of language, taking a sail. Was that the promise--that one party would go with the other to _take a sail_ on the lake?"
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "he promised to go and take a sail with me on the lake, as far as I wanted to go."
"Then," said Mr. Hall, "I should think, on the whole, that, in such a place as this, where there are so many regular sail boats, and where excursions on the lake in them are so common and so well recognized as a distinct amusement, the phrase _taking a sail_ ought to be held to mean going in a sail boat, and that making a voyage in a steamer would not be fulfilling the promise."
Rollo was extremely delighted in having thus gained his case, and he went back to report the result to his father, in a state of great exultation.
After communicating to his father the decision of the umpire, Rollo said that, after all, he did not wish to go in a sail boat if his father thought it best to go in a steamer.
"Well," said Mr. Holiday, "that depends upon how far we go. It is pleasant enough to go out a short distance on the water in a sail boat, but for a long excursion the steamer is generally considered much pleasanter. In a sail boat you are down very low, near the surface of the water, and so you have no commanding views. Then you have no shelter either from the sun, if it is clear, or from the rain, if it is cloudy. You are closely confined, too, or at least you can move about only a very little; whereas in the steamer there is plenty of space, and there are a great many groups of people, and little incidents are constantly occurring to amuse you."
"Besides," said Mrs. Holiday, "if you go in the steamer, I can go with you."
"Why, mother, could not you go in a sail boat too?"
"No," said Mrs. Holiday; "I am afraid of sail boats."
"O mother!" said Rollo; "there is not any danger at all."
"Yes, Rollo," said his father, "there is some danger, for sail boats do sometimes upset."
"And steamboats sometimes blow up," said Rollo.
"True," said his father; "but that only shows that there is danger in steamboats too--not that there is no danger in sail boats."
"Well, what I mean," said Rollo, "is, that there is very little danger, and that mother has no occasion to be afraid."
"There is very little danger, I grant," said Mr. Holiday; "but there is just enough to keep ladies, who are less accustomed to the water than we are, almost all the time uneasy, and thus to destroy for them the pleasure of the excursion.
"I'll tell you what I think will be the best plan. You and I will go out and take a little sail to-night on the lake in a sail boat, and mother may stay and watch us from the window, as she reads and sews. Then to-morrow we will go together to make an excursion on the lake."
Rollo liked this plan very much indeed, and his father sent him down to the landing to engage the boat. "I will come down," said Mr. Holiday, "by the time you get ready."
So Rollo went down and engaged a boat. It was rigged, as all the boats on the Lake of Geneva are, with what are called lateen sails. His father soon came down, and they immediately embarked on board the boat, and sailed away from the landing. As the boat moved away Rollo waved his handkerchief to his mother whom he saw sitting on the balcony of the hotel, waving hers to him.
[Illustration: GOING TO TAKE A SAIL.]
Rollo and his father sailed about the lake for nearly an hour. Mr. Holiday said it was one of the pleasantest sails he ever had in his life, and that he was very glad indeed that Mr. Hall decided against him.
He gave Rollo's mother a full account of the excursion when he got home.
"The water was very smooth," said he, "and the air was cool and balmy. There was a gentle breath of wind, just enough to float us smoothly and quietly over the water. We had charming views of the town and of the shores of the lake, and also of the stupendous ranges of snow-covered mountains beyond."
AN EXCURSION ON THE LAKE.
The Lake of Geneva is shaped, as has already been said, like the new moon. One of the horns is towards the west; the other is towards the south. Geneva is at the tip of the western horn.
Of course, in sailing from Geneva to the other end of the lake, we go from the west towards the east; and this renders it rather more agreeable to make the excursion by an afternoon boat than by a morning one; for in the afternoon, the sun, being then in the western part of the sky, will be behind you, and so will not shine in your face; but, instead of shining in your face and dazzling your eyes, it will be shining upon and illuminating brilliantly the slopes of the mountains that you are going to see. In other words, in the morning the mountains are in shadow and the sun in your eyes; in the evening your eyes are shaded, and the mountains glow with brilliancy and beauty.
It is often very important to take notice thus of the manner in which the sun shines in different parts of the day, in planning excursions among the Alps.
The middle of the day is a very exciting and animating time on the quay at Geneva. It is then that the boats which left the other end of the lake in the morning are expected to arrive; and a great concourse of porters, guides, postilions, and bystanders of all sorts assemble to receive the travellers. As the boats come in, it is very amusing to sit on the balconies, or at the windows of the hotels which overlook the quay, and watch the procession of tourists as they come over the plank to land. There are family groups consisting of fathers, mothers, and children, followed by porters bearing immense trunks, while they themselves are loaded with shawls, cloaks, umbrellas, and carpet bags; and parties of students, with all their travelling effects in knapsacks on their backs; and schoolboys who have been making a tour of the Alps with their teacher; and young brides, almost equally proud of their husbands, of the new dignity of their own position, and of the grandeur of an Alpine bridal tour. All these people, and the hundreds of spectators that assemble to see them, fill the quay, and form a very animated and exciting spectacle.
When the time approaches for a boat to sail, which is in half an hour after she arrives, we have a counterpart of this scene, the direction of the current only being reversed. The tourists now go to the boat, the porters, with their baggage, preceding them. A soldier stands at the entrance to the plank, to look at the passports. Lines of officials on each side guard the way. On the deck of the steamer, as soon as you get on board, you find a great variety of picturesque looking groups, all, however, having the air of being travellers for pleasure. Some are arranging themselves in good seats for seeing the scenery. Others take out their maps and guide books, and prepare to read the descriptions of the places that they are going to see. Here and there children are to be seen--the boys with little knapsacks, and the girls wearing very broad-brimmed Swiss hats--neither paying any attention to the scenery, but amusing themselves with whatever they find at hand to play with--one with a little dog, another with a doll which has been bought for her at Geneva, and a third, perhaps, with a whip, or a little wagon.
Rollo took his seat by the side of his father and mother, in the midst of such a scene as this, on the day of their embarkation, and occupied himself sometimes by looking at the shores of the lake and the mountains beyond, and sometimes by watching the movements and actions of the various groups of tourists before him. In the mean time, the boat left the landing, and began to glide along rapidly on her way over the surface of the water.
The shores of the lake are very fertile and populous, and at every eight or ten miles, especially on the northern shore, you come to a large town. The steamboats stop at these towns to take and leave passengers. They do not, in such cases, usually land at a pier, but the passengers come and go in large boats, and meet the steamer at a little way from the shore. Rollo used to take great pleasure in going forward to the bows of the steamer, and watch these boats as they came out from the shore. If there were two of them, they would come out so far that the track of the steamer should lie between them, and then, when the steamer stopped her paddles, they would come up, one on one side and the other on the other, and the passengers would come up on board by means of a flight of steps let down from the steamer, just abaft the paddle boxes. When the passengers had thus come up, the baggage would be passed up too; and then those passengers who wished to go ashore at that place would go down the steps in the boats, and when all were embarked, the boats would cast off from the steamer, and the steamer would go on her way as before. The boats then would row slowly to the land, with the passengers in them that were to stop at that place.
The way of paying for one's passage on board these boats was very different from that adopted in America. There was no colored waiter to go about the decks and saloons ringing a bell, and calling out, in a loud and authoritative voice, Passengers who haven't settled their fare will please call at the captain's office and settle. Instead of this, the clerk of the boat came himself, after each landing, to the new passengers that had come on board at that landing, and, touching his hat to them, in the most polite manner, asked them to what place they wished to go. He had a little slate in his hand, with the names of all the towns where the steamer was to touch marked upon it. As the several passengers to whom he applied gave him the name of the place of their destination, he made a mark opposite to the name of the place on his slate. When he had in this way applied to all the new comers, he went to the office and provided himself with the proper number of tickets for each place, and then went round again to distribute them. In going around thus a second time, to distribute the tickets, he took a cash box with him to make change. This cash box was slung before him by means of a strap about the neck.
"How much more polite and agreeable a mode this is of collecting the fares," said Mrs. Holiday to her husband, "than ours in America! There a boy comes around, dinging a bell in every body's ears, and then the gentlemen have to go in a crowd and elbow their way up to the window of the captain's office. I wish we could have some of these polite and agreeable customs introduced into our country."
"They are very agreeable," said Mr. Holiday, "and are very suitable for pleasure travel like this, where the boats are small, and the number of passengers few; but I presume it would be very difficult to collect the fares in this way on a North River steamer, where there are sometimes a thousand passengers on board. Here there are usually not more than eight or ten passengers that come on board at a time, and they mix with only fifty or sixty that were on board before. But in America we often have fifty or sixty come on board at a time, and they mix with eight hundred or a thousand. In such a case as that I think that this plan would be well nigh impracticable."
"I did not think of that," said Mrs. Holiday.
"The difference between the circumstances of the case in Europe and in America is very often not thought of by travellers who find themselves wishing that the European customs in respect to travelling and the hotels could be introduced into our country. In Europe the number of travellers is comparatively small, and a very large proportion of those who make journeys go for pleasure. The arrangements can all, consequently, be made to save them trouble, and to make the journey agreeable to them; and the price is increased accordingly. In America, people travel on business, and they go in immense numbers. Their main object is, to be taken safely and expeditiously to the end of their journey, and at as little expense as possible. The arrangements of the conveyances and of the hotels are all made accordingly. The consequence is, a vast difference in the expense of travelling, and a corresponding difference, of course, to some extent, in ease and comfort. The price of passage, for instance, in the Geneva steamboats, from one end of the lake to the other, a distance of about fifty miles, is two dollars, without berth or meals; whereas you can go from New York to Albany, which is more than three times as far, for half a dollar. This difference is owing to the number of travellers that go in the American boats, and the wholesale character, so to speak, of the arrangements made for them.
"In other words, the passengers in a public conveyance in Europe are not only conveyed from place to place, but they are waited upon by the way, and they have to pay both for the conveyance and the attendance. In America they are only conveyed, and are left to wait upon themselves; and they are charged accordingly. Each plan is good, and each is adapted to the wants and ideas of the countries that respectively adopt them.
"Shall we go to the end of the lake to-day?" said Mr. Holiday, "or only part of the way? The clerk will come pretty soon to ask us."
"Are there any pretty places to stop at on the way?" asked Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes," said her husband; "all the places are pretty."
"Tell us about some of them," said Rollo.
"First there is Lausanne," said his father. "Lausanne is a large town up among the hills, a mile or two from the water. There is a little port, called Ouchy, on the shore, where the steamer stops. There there is a landing and a pier, and some pretty boarding houses, with gardens and grounds around them, and a large, old-fashioned inn, built like a castle of the middle ages, but kept very nicely. We can stop there, and go up in an omnibus to Lausanne, which is a large, old town, two miles up the side of the mountain.
"Then, secondly," continued Mr. Holiday, "there is Vevay, which is famous for a new and fashionable hotel facing the lake, with a beautiful terrace between it and the water, where you can sit on nice benches under the trees, and watch the steamers going by over the blue waters of the lake, or the row boats and sail boats coming and going about the terrace landing, or the fleecy clouds floating along the sides of the dark mountains around the head of the lake."
"I should like to stop at both places," said Mrs. Holiday.
"Then we will stop at Ouchy to-night," said Mr. Holiday, "for that comes first."
So it was decided that they should take tickets for Ouchy.
The boat at Ouchy did not land passengers by boats, but went up to the pier. Only a few passengers went ashore. The pier was at some little distance from the hotel, the way to it being by a quiet and pleasant walk along the shore.
There was an omnibus marked Lausanne standing at the head of the pier.
"Now, we can get into the omnibus," said Mr. Holiday, "and go directly up to Lausanne, or we can go to the hotel here, and take lodgings, and then go up to Lausanne to see the town after dinner."
It was at this time about four o'clock. The usual time of dinner for travellers in Switzerland is five.
Mrs. Holiday, observing that the hotel at Ouchy was very prettily situated, close to the water, and recollecting that her husband had said that it resembled in its character a castle of the middle ages, concluded that she would like as well to take rooms there.
A woman with a queer-shaped basket on her back, which she carried by means of straps over her shoulders, here came up to Mr. Holiday, and asked if she should take _the baggages_ to the inn. Mr. Holiday said yes. So she put the valise and the carpet bag into her basket, and walked away with them to the inn.
Women often act as porters in France and Switzerland, and they perform, also, all sorts of out-door work. They use these baskets, too, very often, for carrying burdens. Rollo afterwards saw a woman take her child out to ride in one of them.
Mrs. Holiday was extremely pleased with the inn at Ouchy. She said that she should like to remain there a week. It seemed precisely, with its antique-looking rooms, and long stone paved corridors, like the castles which she had read about when she was a girl in the old romances.
After dinner, Mr. Holiday sent for a carriage, and took Mrs. Holiday and Rollo to ride. They went up the ascent of land behind the town, the road winding as it went among green and beautiful glades and dells, but still always ascending until they came to Lausanne. This was nearly two miles from the lake, and very much above it. From Lausanne they went back still farther, ascending all the time, and obtaining more and more commanding views of the lake at every turn.
When the sun went down, they turned their faces homeward. They came down, of course, very fast, the road winding continually this way and that, to make the descent more gradual. At length, about half past eight, they returned to the inn.
The landlady of the inn, who was very kind and obliging to them, took them to see a room in her hotel where Lord Byron wrote his celebrated poem entitled the PRISONER OF CHILLON. Chillon is an ancient castle which stands on the shore, twenty or thirty miles beyond, and very near, in fact, to the extremity of the lake. Byron has made this castle renowned throughout the world by spending a few days, while he was stopped at this inn at Ouchy by a storm, when travelling on the lake, in writing a poem in which he describes the emotions and sufferings of some imaginary prisoners whom he supposed to be confined there.
"Can we go to see the Castle of Chillon?" said Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes," said Mr. Holiday. "We shall sail directly by it in going to the head of the lake, and if we stop there we can go to it very easily."
The head of the lake--that is, the eastern end of it--is surrounded with mountains, the slopes of which seem to rise very abruptly from the water, and ascend to such a height that patches of snow lie on the summits of them all the summer. These mountains, especially if overshadowed by clouds, give a very dark and sombre expression to the whole region when seen from a distance, in coming in from the centre of the lake. This sombre expression, however, entirely disappears when you arrive at the head of the lake, and land there.
You would not suppose, when viewing these shores from a distance, that there was any place to land, so closely do the precipitous slopes of the mountains seem to shut the water in. But on drawing near the shore, you see that there is a pretty broad belt of land along the shore, which, though it ascends rapidly, is not too steep to be cultivated. This belt of land is covered with villages, hamlets, vineyards, orchards, and gardens, and it forms a most enchanting series of landscapes, from whatever point it is seen, while the more precipitous slopes of the mountains, towering above in grandeur and sublimity, complete the enchantment of the view.
The Castle of Chillon stands on the very margin of the lake, just in the edge of the water. Indeed, the foundations on which it stands form a little island, which is separated by a narrow channel from the shore. This channel is crossed by a drawbridge. It is possible, however, that it may be in some measure artificial. The island may have originally been a small rocky point, and it may have been made an island by the cutting of a ditch between it and the main land.
The steamer passed along the shore, very near to this castle, in going to the head of the lake, as you see represented in the engraving.[F] There is no steamboat landing at the castle itself, but there is one at the village of Montreux, a little before you come to it, and another at Villeneuve, a little beyond. Numbers of tourists come in every steamer to visit the castle, and stop for this purpose at one of these landings or the other. The distance is only twenty minutes' brisk walking from either of them.
[Footnote F: See Frontispiece.]
Villeneuve, the last landing mentioned above, is at the very extremity of the lake. We see it in the distance in the engraving. Here travellers who are going to continue their journey up the valley of the Rhone, either for the purpose of penetrating into the heart of Switzerland, or of going by the pass of the Simplon into Italy, leave the boat and take the diligence to continue their journey by land, or else engage a private carriage, and also a guide, if they wish for one. Mr. Holiday did not intend at this time to go on far up the valley, but he purposed to stop a day or two at Villeneuve, to visit Chillon, and perhaps make some other excursions, and also to enjoy the views presented there, on all sides, of the slopes and summits of the surrounding mountains.
At Villeneuve, a pretty long, though small and very neatly made pier projects out from the shore, for the landing of passengers from the steamer.
Exactly opposite this pier, and facing the water, stands the inn. It is placed very nearly on a level with the water. This can always be the case with buildings standing on the margin of a lake, for a lake not being subject to tides or inundations, all buildings, whether houses, bridges, or piers, may be built very near the water, without any danger of being overflowed.
Before the inn is an open space, extending between it and the shore; so that from the front windows of the inn you can look down first upon this open space, and beyond, upon the margin of the lake and upon the pier, with the steamer lying at the landing-place at the head of it.
The sides of this square, Rollo observed, were formed of the ends of two buildings which stood on the shore, and along this space were wooden benches, which were filled, when the steamer arrived, with guides, postilions, voituriers, and other people of that class, waiting to be engaged by the travellers that should come in her.
There were also two or three omnibuses and diligences waiting to receive such persons as were intending to travel by the public conveyances. One of these omnibuses belonged to a large hotel and boarding house which stands on the shore of the lake, not far from Villeneuve, between it and the Castle of Chillon. You can see this hotel in the engraving. It is the large building in the middle distance, standing back a little from the lake, and to the left of the castle. This hotel is beautifully situated in a commanding position on the shores of the lake, and is a great place of resort for English families in the summer season.
The travellers that landed from the steamer at Villeneuve soon separated, after arriving at the open square before the inn. Some took their seats in the diligences that were standing there; some got into the omnibuses to go to the hotel; some engaged voituriers from among the number that were waiting there to be so employed, and, entering the carriages, they drove away; while a party of students, with knapsacks on their backs and pikestaves in their hands, set off on foot up the valley. Mr. Holiday and his party, not intending to proceed any farther that night, went directly to the inn.
They went first into the dining room. The dining room in the Swiss inns is usually the only public room, and travellers on entering the inn generally go directly there.
The dining room was very plain and simple in all its arrangements. There was no carpet on the floor, and the woodwork was unpainted. There were two windows in front, which looked out upon the lake. Directly beneath the windows was the road, and the open space, already described, between the hotel and the pier.
There was a boy with a knapsack on his back standing by the window, looking out. Rollo went to the window, and began to look out too.
"Do you speak English?" said Rollo to the boy.
"_Nein_," said the boy, shaking his head.
_Nein_ is the German word for _no_. This Rollo knew very well, and so he inferred that the boy was a German. He, however, thought it possible that he might speak French, and so he asked again,--
"Do you speak French?"
"Very little," said the boy, answering now in the French language. "I am studying it at school. I am at school at Berne, and my class is making an excursion to Geneva."
"Do you travel on foot?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said the boy; "unless there is a steamboat, and then we go in the steamboat."
"And I suppose you are going to take the steamboat here to-morrow morning to go to Geneva."
"No," said the boy; "we are going to see Chillon to-night, and then we are going along the shore of the lake beyond, to Montreux, and take the boat there to-morrow morning."
It was quite amusing to Rollo to talk thus with a strange boy in a language which both had learned at school, and which neither of them could speak well, but which was, nevertheless, the only language they had in common.
"How many boys are there in your class?" asked Rollo.
"Sixteen," said the boy; "sixteen--six." The boy then held up the five fingers of one hand, and one of the other, to show to Rollo that six was the number he meant. The words six and sixteen are very similar in the French language, and for a moment the boy confounded them.
"And the teacher too, I suppose," said Rollo.
"Yes," said the boy, "and the teacher."
Here there was a short pause.
"Are you going to Chillon?" said the boy to Rollo.
"Yes," said Rollo. "I am going with my father and mother."
"I wish you were going with us," said the boy.
"I wish so too," said Rollo; "I mean to ask my father to let me."
During this time Mr. Holiday had been making an arrangement with the maid of the inn for two bedrooms, one for himself and his wife, and the other for Rollo; and the maid was now just going to show the party the way to their rooms. So Rollo went with his father, and after seeing that all their effects were put in the rooms, he informed his father that he had made acquaintance with a young German schoolboy who was going with his class and the teacher to visit Chillon; and he asked his father's consent that he might go with them.
"I can walk there with them," said Rollo, "and wait there till you and mother come."
"Does the boy speak English?" asked Mr. Holiday.
"No, sir," said Rollo; "but he can speak French a little. He speaks it just about as well as I can, and we can get along together very well."
"Is the teacher willing that you should go?" asked Mr. Holiday.
"I don't know," said Rollo; "we have not asked him yet."
"Then the first thing is to ask him," said Mr. Holiday. "Let your friend ask the teacher if he is willing to have another boy invited to go with his party; and if he is willing, you may go. If you get to Chillon first, you may go about the castle with the boys, and then wait at the castle gates till we come."
"How soon shall you come?" asked Rollo.
"Very soon," said Mr. Holiday. "I have ordered the carriage already, and we shall perhaps get there as soon as you do."
So Rollo went down stairs again to his friend, the German boy.
"Do you think," said Rollo, "that the teacher would be willing to have me go with you?"
"Yes," said the boy, "I am sure he will. He is always very glad to have us meet with an opportunity to speak French. Besides, there are some boys in the school who are learning English, and he would like to have you talk a little with them."
"Go and ask him," said Rollo.
So the boy went off to ask the teacher. He met him on the stairs, coming down with the rest of the boys. The teacher was very much pleased with the plan of having an American boy invited to join the party, and so it was settled that Rollo was to go.
The boys all went down stairs, and rendezvoused at the door of the inn. Most of the omnibuses and diligences had gone. The boys of the school all accosted Rollo in a very cordial manner; and the teacher shook hands with him, and said that he was very glad to have him join their party. The teacher spoke to him in French. There were two other boys who tried to speak to him in English. They succeeded pretty well, but they could not speak very fluently, and they made several mistakes. But Rollo was very careful not to laugh at their mistakes, and they did not laugh at those which he made in talking French; and so they all got along very well together.
Thus they set out on the road which led along the shore of the lake towards the Castle of Chillon.
THE CASTLE OF CHILLON.
The party of boys walked along the road very pleasantly together, each one with his knapsack on his back and his pikestaff in his hand. Rollo talked with them by the way--with some in English, and with others in French; but inasmuch as it happened that whichever language was used, one or the other of the parties to the conversation was very imperfectly acquainted with it, the conversation was necessarily carried on by means of very short and simple sentences, and the meaning was often helped out by signs, and gestures, and curious pantomime of all sorts, with an accompaniment, of course, of continual peals of laughter.
Rollo, however, learned a good deal about the boys, and about the arrangements they made for travelling, and also learned a great many particulars in respect to the adventures they had met with in coming over the mountains.
Rollo learned, for example, that every boy had a fishing line in his knapsack, and that when they got tired of walking, and wished to stop to rest, if there was a good place, they stopped and fished a little while in a mountain stream or a lake.
Another thing they did was to watch for butterflies, in order to catch any new species that they might find, to add to the teacher's cabinet of natural history. For this purpose one of the boys had a gauze net on the end of a long but light handle; and when a butterfly came in sight that seemed at all curious or new, one of the boys set off with the rest to catch him. If the specimen was found valuable, it was preserved. The specimens thus kept were secured with a pin in the bottom of a broad, but flat and very light box, which one of the older boys carried with his knapsack. The boy opened this box, and showed Rollo the butterflies which they had taken. They had quite a pretty collection. There were several that Rollo did not recollect ever to have seen before.
Talking in this way, they went on till they came to the part of the road which was opposite to the Hotel Byron. The hotel was on an eminence above the road, and back from the lake. Broad gravelled avenues led up to it. There were also winding walks, and seats under the trees, and terraces, and gardens, and parties of ladies and gentlemen walking about, and children playing here and there, under the charge of their nurses.
The boys gave only a passing glance at these things as they went by. They were much more interested in gazing up from time to time at the stupendous cliffs and precipices which they saw crowning the mountain ranges which seemed to border the road; and on the other side, in looking out far over the water of the lake at the sail boats, or the steamer, or the little row boats which they beheld in the offing.
The road went winding on, following the little indentations of the shore, till at length it reached the castle. It passed close under the castle walls, or, rather, close along the margin of the ditch which separated the foundations of the castle from the main land. There was a bridge across this ditch. This bridge was enclosed, and a little room was built upon it, with windows and a door. The outer door was, of course, towards the road, and it was open when the boys arrived at the place.
The teacher led the way in by this door, and the boys followed him. There was a man there, dressed in the uniform of a soldier. He was a sort of sentinel, to keep the door of the castle. He had a table on one side, with various engravings spread out upon it, representing different views of the castle, both of the interior and of the exterior. There were also little books of description, giving an account of the castle and of its history, and copies of Byron's poem, the Prisoner of Chillon. All these things were for sale to the visitors who should come to see the castle.
The engravings were kept from being blown away by the wind by means of little stone paper weights made of rounded pebble stones, about as large as the palm of the hand, with views of the castle and of the surrounding scenery painted on them. The paper weights were for sale too.
The boys looked at these things a moment, but did not seem to pay much attention to them. They walked on, following their teacher, to the end of the bridge room, where they came to the great castle gates. These were open, too, and they went in. They found themselves in a paved courtyard, with towers, and battlements, and lofty walls all around them. There was a man there, waiting to receive them in charge, and show them into the dungeons.
He led the way through a door, and thence down a flight of stone steps to a series of subterranean chambers, which were very dimly lighted by little windows opening towards the lake. The back sides of the rooms consisted of the living rock; the front sides were formed of the castle wall that bordered the lake.
"Here is the room," said the guide, "where the prisoners who were condemned to death in the castle in former times spent the last night before their execution. That stone was the bed where they had to lie."
So saying, the guide pointed to a broad, smooth, and sloping surface of rock, which was formed by the ledge on the back side of the dungeon. The stone was part of the solid ledge, and was surrounded with ragged crags, just as they had been left by the excavators in making the dungeon; but whether the smooth and sloping surface of this particular portion of the rock was natural or artificial, that is, whether it had been expressly made so to form a bed for the poor condemned criminal, or whether the rock had accidentally broken into that form by means of some natural fissure, and so had been appropriated by the governor of the castle to that use, the boys could not determine.
The guide led the boys a little farther on, to a place where there was a dark recess, and pointing up towards the ceiling, he said,--
"There is where the criminals were hung. Up where I point there is a beam built into the rock; and from that the rope was suspended."
The boys all crowded round the spot, and looked eagerly up, but they could not see any beam.
"You cannot see it," said the guide, "now, because you have just come out from the light of day. We shall come back this way pretty soon, and then you will be able to see it; for your eyes will then get accustomed a little to the darkness of the dungeon."
So the guide went on, and the boys followed him.
They next came into a very large apartment. The front side and the back side of it were both curved. The back side consisted of the living rock. The front side was formed of the outer castle wall, which was built on the rock at the very margin of the water. In the centre was a range of seven massive stone columns, placed there to support the arches on which rested the floor of the principal story of the castle above. The roof of this dungeon of course was vaulted, the arches and groins being carried over from this range of central pillars towards the wall in front, and towards the solid rock behind. All this you will plainly see represented in the engraving.
[Illustration: THE DUNGEON IN THE CASTLE OF CHILLON.]
This great dungeon was lighted by means of very small loopholes cut in the wall, high up from the floor. The light from these windows, instead of coming _down_, and shining upon the floor, seemed to go _up_, and to lose itself in a faint attempt to illuminate the vaulted roof above. The reason was, that at the particular hour when the boys made their visit, the beams of the sun which shone directly from it in the sky were excluded, and only those that were reflected upward from the waters of the lake could come in.
The guide led the boys to one of the central pillars, and pointed to an iron ring which was built into the stone. He told them that there was the place where one prisoner was confined in the dungeon for six years. He was chained to that ring by a short chain, which enabled him only to walk to and fro a few steps each way about the pillar. These steps had worn a place in the rock.
After the boys had looked at this pillar, and at the iron ring, and at the place worn in the floor by the footsteps of the prisoner, as long as they wished, they followed the guide on to the end of the dungeon, where they were stopped by the solid rock. Here the guide brought them to a dark and gloomy place in a corner, where, by standing a little back, they could see all the pillars in a row; and he said that if they would count them they would find that there were exactly seven. The boys did so, and they found that there were seven; but they did not understand why the number was of any importance. But the teacher explained it to them. He said that Byron had mentioned seven as the number of the pillars in his poem, and that most people who had read the poem were pleased to observe the correspondence between his description and the reality.
The teacher quoted the lines. They were these:--
"In Chillon's dungeons, deep and old, There are seven columns, massy and gray, Dim with a dull, imprisoned ray-- A sunbeam that hath lost its way, And through the crevice and the cleft Of the thick wall is fallen and left Creeping o'er the floor so damp, Like a marsh's meteor lamp."
In repeating these lines, the teacher spoke in a strong foreign accent. All the boys listened attentively while he spoke, though of course only Rollo and those of the boys who had studied English could understand him.
After this the boys came back through the whole range of dungeons, by the same way that they had come in. They could now see the beam from which the condemned criminals were hung. It passed across from rock to rock, high above their heads, in a dark and gloomy place, and seemed perfectly black with age.
When the party came out of the dungeons, a young woman took them in charge, to show them the apartments above. She conducted them up a broad flight of stone stairs to a massive doorway, which led to the principal story of the castle. Here the boys passed through one after another of several large halls, which were formerly used for various purposes when the castle was inhabited, but are employed now for the storage of brass cannons, and of ammunition belonging to the Swiss government. When the castle was built, the country in which it stands belonged to a neighboring state, called Savoy; and it was the Duke of Savoy, who was a sort of king, that built it, and it was he that confined the prisoners in it so cruelly. Many of them were confined there on account of being accused of conspiring against his government. At length, however, the war broke out between Switzerland and Savoy, and the Swiss were victorious. They besieged this castle by an army on the land and by a fleet of galleys on the lake, and in due time they took it. They let all the prisoners which they found confined there go free, and since then they have used the castle as a place of storage for arms and ammunition.
One of the halls which the boys went into, the guide said, used to be a senate house, and another was the court room where the prisoners were tried. There was a staircase which led from the court room down to the dungeon below, where the great black beam was, from which they were to be hung.
The boys, however, did not pay a great deal of attention to what the guide said about the former uses of these rooms. They seemed to be much more interested in the purposes that they were now serving, and so went about examining very eagerly the great brass cannons and the ammunition wagons that stood in them.
At length, however, they came to something which specially attracted their attention. It was a small room, which the guide said was an ancient torturing room. There was a large wooden post in the centre of the room, extending from the floor to the vault above. The post was worn and blackened by time and decay, and there were various hooks, and staples, and pulleys attached to it at different heights, which the guide said were used for securing the prisoners to the post, when they were to be tortured. The post itself was burned in many places, as if by hot irons.
The boys saw another place in a room beyond, which was in some respects still more dreadful than this. It was a place where there was an opening in the floor, near the wall of the room, that looked like a trap door. There was the beginning of a stone stair leading down. A small railing was built round the opening, as if to keep people from falling in. The boys all crowded round the railing, and looked down.
They saw that the stair only went down three steps, and then it came to a sudden end, and all below was a dark and dismal pit, which seemed bottomless. On looking more intently, however, they could at length see a glimmer of light, and hear the rippling of the waves of the lake, at a great depth below. The guide said that this was one of the _oubliettes_, that is, a place where men could be destroyed secretly, and in such a manner that no one should ever know what became of them. They were conducted to this door, and directed to go down. It was dark, so that they could only see the first steps of the stair. They would suppose, however, that the stair was continued, and that it would lead them down to some room, where they were to go. So they would walk on carefully, feeling for the steps of the stair; but after the third there would be no more, and they would fall down to a great depth on ragged rocks, and be killed. To make it certain that they would be killed by the fall, there were sharp blades, like the ends of scythes, fixed in the rock, far below, to cut them in pieces as they fell.
It seems these tyrants, hateful and merciless as they were, did not wish, or perhaps did not dare, to destroy the souls as well as the bodies of their victims, and so they contrived it that the last act which the poor wretch should perform before going down into this dreadful pit should be an act of devotion. To this end there was made a little niche in the wall, just over the trap door, and there was placed there an image of the Virgin Mary, who is worshipped in Catholic countries as divine. The prisoner was invited to kiss this image as he passed by, just as he began to descend the stair. Thus the very last moment of his life would be spent in performing an act of devotion, and thus, as they supposed, his soul would be saved. What a strange combination is this of superstition and tyranny!
After seeing all these things, the boys returned towards the entrance of the castle. They met several parties of ladies and gentlemen coming in; and just as they got to the door again, the carriage containing Mr. and Mrs. Holiday drove up. So Rollo bade the teacher and all the boys good by, after accompanying them a few minutes, as they walked along the road towards the place where they were to go. By this time his father and mother had descended from their carriage, and were ready to go in. So Rollo joined them, and went through the castle again, and saw all the places a second time.
When they came out, and were getting into the carriage, Mr. Holiday said that it was a very interesting place.
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday; "and we have seen all that Byron speaks of in his poem, except the little island. Where is the little island?"
Mr. Holiday pointed out over the water of the lake, where a group of three tall trees seemed to be growing directly out of the water, only that there was a little wall around them below. They looked like three flowers growing in a flower pot set in the water.
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday, "that must certainly be it. It corresponds exactly." So she repeated the following lines from Byron's poem, which describes the island in the language of one of the prisoners, who saw it from his dungeon window,
"And then there was a little isle, Which in my very face did smile-- The only one in view; A small green isle, it seemed no more, Scarce broader than my dungeon floor; But in it there were three tall trees, And o'er it blew the mountain breeze, And by it there were waters flowing, And on it there were young flowers growing, Of gentle breath and hue."
"That's pretty poetry," said Rollo.
"Very pretty indeed," said his father.
The horse now began to trot along the road. The little island continued in view for a while, and then disappeared, and afterwards came into view again, as the road went turning and winding around, following the indentations of the shore.
At length, after a short but very pleasant ride, the party arrived safely at the inn again at Villeneuve.
The reason why the Lake of Geneva is of a crescent form is, that that is the shape of the space in the bottom of the valley which it fills. There are two ranges of mountains running in a curved direction almost parallel to each other, and the space between them, for a certain distance, is filled with water, owing to the spreading out of the waters of the Rhone in flowing through. Thus the lake is produced by the valley, and takes its form from it.
The valley does not come to an end when you reach the head of the lake, but continues for more than a hundred miles beyond, the two mountain ranges continuing to border it all that distance, and the River Rhone to flow through the centre of it. Thus at Villeneuve you look in one direction, and you have a winding valley filled with water, extending for fifty miles, to Geneva; while in the other direction, the same valley--though now the floor of it is a green and fertile plain--continues, with the same stupendous walls of mountain bordering the sides of it, for a hundred miles or more, to the sources of the Rhone.
There is another thing that is very curious in respect to this valley, and that is, that the floor of it is as flat, and smooth, and level, almost, where it is formed of land, as where it is formed of water.
Geologists suppose that the reason why the bottom of the valley, when it consists of land, is so perfectly level, is because the land has been formed by deposits from the river, in the course of a long succession of ages. Of course the river could never build the land any higher, in any part, than it rises itself in the highest inundations. Indeed, land formed by river deposits is almost always nearly level, and the surface of it is but little raised above the ordinary level of the stream, and never above that of the highest inundations.
It must, however, by no means be supposed that because the surface of the valley above the head of the lake is flat and level, that it is on that account monotonous and uninteresting. Indeed, it is quite the reverse. It forms one of the richest and most enchanting landscapes that can be conceived. It is abundantly shaded with trees, some planted in avenues along the roadside, some bearing fruit in orchards and gardens, and some standing in picturesque groups about the houses, or in pretty groves by the margin of the fields. The land is laid out in a very charming manner, in gardens, orchards, meadows, and fields of corn and grain, with no fences to separate them either from each other or from the road; so that in walking along the public highway you seem to walk in one of the broad alleys of an immense and most beautiful garden.
Besides all these beauties of the scene itself, the pleasure of walking through it is greatly increased by the number and variety of groups and figures of peasant girls and boys, and women and men, that you meet coming along the road, or see working in the fields, all dressed in the pretty Swiss costume, and each performing some curious operation, which is either in itself, or in the manner of performing it, entirely different from what is seen in any other land.
Rollo followed the main road leading up the valley a little way one evening, while his father and mother were at Villeneuve, in order, as he said, to see where the diligences went to. He was so much pleased with what he saw that he went back to the hotel, and began studying the guide book, in order to find how far it was to the next town, and what objects of interest there were to be seen on the way. He was so well satisfied with the result of his investigations that he resolved to propose to his father and mother to make a pedestrian excursion up the valley.
"Now, mother," said he, "I have a plan to propose, and that is, that we all set out to-morrow morning, and make a pedestrian excursion up the valley, to the next town, or the next town but one."
"How far is it?" asked Mrs. Holiday.
"Why, the best place to go to," said Rollo, "is Aigle, which is the second town, and that is only six miles from here."
"O Rollo!" said Mrs. Holiday; "I could not possibly walk six miles."
"O, yes, mother," said Rollo. "The road is as smooth, and level, and hard as a floor. Besides, you said that you meant to make a pedestrian excursion somewhere while you were in Switzerland, and there could not be a better place than this."
"I know I said so," replied Mrs. Holiday, "but I was not really in earnest. Besides, I don't think I could possibly walk six miles. But we will take a carriage and ride there, if your father is willing."
"But, mother, it is not so pleasant to ride You can't see so well, for the top of the carriage, or else the driver on his high seat before, will be more or less in the way. Then when you are walking you can stop so easily any minute, and look around. But if you are in a carriage, it makes a fuss and trouble to be calling continually upon the coachman to stop; and then, besides, half of the time, before he gets the carriage stopped you have got by the place you wanted to see."
What Rollo said is very true. We can see a country containing a series of fine landscapes much more thoroughly by walking through it, or riding on horseback, than by going in a carriage. I do not think, however, that, after all, this advantage constituted the real inducement in Rollo's mind which made him so desirous of walking to Aigle. The truth was, that the little walk which he had taken to Chillon with the party of pedestrian boys had quite filled his imagination with the pleasures and the independent dignity of this mode of travelling, and he was very ambitious of making an experiment of it himself.
"And, mother," continued Rollo, "after all, it is only about two hours and a half or three hours, at two or three miles an hour. Now, you are often gone as much as that, making calls; and when you are making calls you generally go, I am sure, as much as two or three miles an hour."
"But I generally ride, making calls," said Mrs. Holiday.
"Yes, mother, but sometimes you walk; and I think when you walk you are often gone more than three hours."
"That is true," said Mrs. Holiday, "I admit; but then, you know, when I am making calls I am resting a great deal of the time at the houses where I call."
"I know that," said Rollo; "and so we will rest, sitting down by the road side."
Mrs. Holiday admitted that Rollo had rather the best of the argument; but she was still quite unwilling to believe that she could really walk six miles.
"And back again, too," she added. "You must consider that we shall have to come back again."
"Ah, but I don't wish to have you walk back again," said Rollo. "We will come back by the diligence. There are several diligences and omnibuses that come by Aigle, on the way here, in the course of the day."
Mrs. Holiday was still undecided. She was very desirous of gratifying Rollo, but yet she had not courage to undertake quite so great a feat as to walk six miles. At length Mr. Holiday proposed that they should at least set out and go a little way.
"We can try it for half an hour," said he, "and then go on or turn back, just as we feel inclined. Or if we go on several miles, and then get tired, we shall soon come to a village, where we shall be able to get some sort of vehicle or other to bring us back; and at all events we shall have an adventure."
Mrs. Holiday consented to this plan, and it was settled that the party should breakfast at eight o'clock the next morning, and set out immediately afterwards.
Rollo had a sort of haversack which he used to carry sometimes on his walks, and he always kept it with him in the steamboat or carriage, when he travelled in those conveyances. This haversack he got ready, supplying it with all that he thought would be required for the excursion. He put in it his drinking cup,--the one which he had bought in Scotland,--a little spy glass, which he used for viewing the scenery, a book that his mother was reading, a little portfolio containing some drawing paper and a pencil, a guide book and map, and, lastly, a paper of small cakes and sugar plums, to give to any children that he might chance to meet on the way.
Rollo made all these preparations the evening before, so that every thing might be ready in the morning, when the hour for setting out should arrive.
WALK TO AIGLE.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. Holiday, as the party sallied forth from the inn to commence their walk up the valley, "we depend entirely on you. This is your excursion, and we expect you will take care and see that every thing goes right."
"Well, sir," said Rollo. "Come with me. I'll show you the way."
On the borders of the village they passed to a high stone bridge which crossed a small stream. This stream came in a slow and meandering course through the meadows, and here emptied into the lake. Farther back it was a torrent leaping from rock to rock and crag to crag, for many thousand feet down the mountain side; but here it flowed so gently, and lay so quietly in its bed, that pond lilies grew and bloomed in its waters.
Just above the bridge there was a square enclosure in the margin of the water, with a solid stone wall all around it. A man stood on the wall with a net in his hand. The net was attached to a pole. The man was just dipping the net into the water when Rollo, with his father and mother, came upon the bridge.
"Let us stop a minute, and see what that man is going to do," said Rollo. "I saw that square wall yesterday, and I could not imagine what it was for."
The man put his net down to the bottom of the reservoir, and after drawing it along on the bottom, he took it out again. There was nothing in it. He then repeated the operation, and this time he brought up two large fishes that looked like trout. They were both more than a foot long.
The man uttered a slight exclamation of satisfaction, and then lifting the net over the wall, he let the fish fall into a basket which he had placed outside. He then went away, carrying the basket with one hand, and the net on his shoulder with the other.
"That's a very curious plan," said Rollo. "I suppose they catch the fish in the lake, and then put them in that pen and keep them there till they are ready to eat them."
So they walked on.
Presently Rollo saw some of the pond lilies growing in the stream, the course of which was here, for a short distance, near the road.
"I wish very much, mother," said he, "that I could get one of those pond lilies for you, but I cannot. I tried yesterday, but they are too far from the shore, and it is so finished, and smooth, and nice about here that there is no such thing as a pole or a stick to be found any where to reach with."
Presently, however, Rollo came to a boy who was fishing on the bank of the stream, and he asked him if he would be good enough to hook in one of those lilies for him with his pole and line. The boy was very willing to do it. He threw a loop of his line over one of the pond lilies, and drew it in. Rollo thanked the boy for his kindness, and gave the pond lily to his mother.
Perhaps there are no flowers that give a higher pleasure to the possessors than those which a boy of Rollo's age gathers for his mother.
The party walked on. Mrs. Holiday's attention was soon strongly attracted to the various groups of peasants which she saw working in the fields, or walking along the road. First came a young girl, with a broad-brimmed straw hat on her head, driving a donkey cart loaded with sheaves of grain. Next an old and decrepit-looking woman, with a great bundle of sticks on her head. It seemed impossible that she could carry so great a load in such a manner. As our party went by, she turned her head slowly round a little way, to look at them; and it was curious to see the great bundle of sticks--which was two feet in diameter, and four or five feet long--slowly turn round with her head, and then slowly turn back again as she went on her way.
Next Mrs. Holiday paused a moment to look at some girls who were hoeing in the field. The girls looked smilingly upon the strangers, and bade them good morning.
"Ask them," said Mrs. Holiday to Rollo, "if their work is not very hard."
So Rollo asked them the question. Mrs. Holiday requested him to do it because she did not speak French very well, and so she did not like to try.
The girls said that the work was not hard at all. They laughed, and went on working faster than ever.
Next they came to a poor wayfaring woman, who was sitting by the roadside with an infant in her arms. Rollo immediately took out one of the little cakes from the parcel in his knapsack, and handed it to the child. The mother seemed very much pleased. She bowed to Rollo, and said,--
"She thanks you infinitely, sir."
Thus they went on for about three quarters of an hour. During all this time Mrs. Holiday's attention was so much taken up with what she saw,--sometimes with the groups of peasants and the pretty little views of gardens, cottages, and fields which attracted her notice by the road side, ever and anon by the glimpses which she obtained of the stupendous mountain ranges that bordered the valley on either hand, and that were continually presenting their towering crags and dizzy precipices to view through the opening of the trees on the plain,--that she had not time to think of being fatigued. At length Rollo asked her how she liked the walk.
"Very well," said she; "only I think now I have walked full as far as I should ever have to go at home, when making calls, before coming to the first house. So as soon as you can you may find me a place to sit down and rest a little while."
"Well," said Rollo, "I see a grove of trees by the roadside, on ahead a little way. When we get there we will sit down in the shade and rest."
So they went on till they came to the grove. The grove proved to be a very pretty one, though it consisted of only four or five trees; but unfortunately there was no place to sit down in it. Rollo looked about for some time in vain, and seemed quite disappointed.
"Never mind," said his mother; "sometimes, when I make a call, I find that the lady I have called to see is not at home; and then, even if I am tired and want to rest, I have to go on to the next house. We will suppose that at this place the lady is not at home."
Rollo laughed and walked on. It was not long before they reached a place where there was a kind of granary, or some other farm building of that sort, near the road, with a little yard where some logs were lying. Rollo found excellent seats for his father and mother on these logs. They sat on one of them, and leaned their backs against another that was a little higher up. They were in the shade of the building, too, so that the place was very cool.
"This is a very nice place to rest," said Mrs. Holiday; "and while we are sitting, we can amuse ourselves in looking at the people that go by."
The first person that came was a pretty-looking peasant girl of about seventeen, who had a tub upon her head. What was in the tub Rollo could not see. With such a burden on her head, however, it is plain that the girl could not wear her hat in the ordinary manner, and so she carried it tied to the back of her neck, with its broad brim covering her shoulders. This, Mr. Holiday said, seemed to him to be carrying the modern fashion of wearing the bonnet quite to an extreme.
[Illustration: THE BASKET RIDE.]
The Swiss women have other ways of bearing burdens, besides loading them upon their heads. They carry them upon their backs, sometimes, in baskets fitted to their shoulders. A woman came by, while Rollo and his father and mother were sitting upon the logs, with her child taking a ride in such a basket on her back. As soon as this woman was past, Rollo was so much struck with the comical appearance that the child made, sitting upright in the basket, and looking around, that he took out some paper and a pencil immediately from his portfolio, and asked his mother to make a drawing of the woman, with the child in the basket on her back. This Mrs. Holiday could easily do, even from the brief glimpse which she had of the woman as she went by; for the outlines of the figure and dress of the woman and of the basket and child were very simple. Mrs. Holiday afterwards put in some of the scenery for a background.
When the drawing was finished, Rollo told his mother that he calculated that they had come one third of the way, and asked her if she felt tired; and she said she did not feel tired at all, and so they rose and went on.
In a short time they came to a village. It consisted of a narrow street, with stone houses on each side of it. The houses were close together and close to the street. In one place several people were sitting out before the door, and among them was a poor, sickly child, such as are found very often in the low valleys of Switzerland, of the kind called _cretins_. These children are entirely helpless, and they have no reason, or at least very little. The one which Rollo saw was a girl, and appeared to be about ten years old; but it did not seem to have strength enough to sit up in its chair. It was continually lolling and falling about on this side and that, and trying to look up. The mother of the child sat by her, and kept her from falling out of the chair. She was talking, the mean while, with the neighbors, who were sitting there on a bench, knitting or sewing.
The face of the child was deformed, and had scarcely a human expression. Both Rollo and his mother were much shocked at the spectacle.
"It is a _cretin_--is it not?" said Mrs. Holiday to her husband, in a whisper, as soon as they had passed by.
"Yes," said Mr. Holiday.
"Mother," said Rollo, "would you give that poor little thing a cake?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday; "I would."
"Do you think she will understand?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said Mrs. Holiday; "I think she will; and at any rate her mother will."
Rollo had by this time taken out his cake. He went back with it to the place where the women were sitting, and held it out, half, as it were, to the mother, and half to the child, so that either of them might take it, saying, at the same time, to the mother, in French,--
"For this poor little child."
The mother smiled, and looked very much pleased. The cretin, whose eyes caught a glimpse of the cake, laughed, and began to try to reach out her hand to take it. It seemed hard for her to guide her hand to the place, and she fell over from side to side all the time while attempting to do so. She would have fallen entirely if her mother had not held her up. At length she succeeded in getting hold of the cake, which she carried directly to her mouth, and then laughed again with a laugh that seemed scarcely human, and was hideous to see.
"Does she understand?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said the mother; "she understands, but she can't speak, poor thing. But she is very much obliged to you indeed."
So Rollo bowed to the mother of the child, and to the other women, and then went on and rejoined his father and mother.
They passed through the village, and then came into the open country again. Sometimes the mountains that bordered the valley receded to some distance; at other times they came very near; and there was one place where they formed a range of lofty precipices a thousand feet high, that seemed almost to overhang the road. Here Rollo stopped to look up. He saw, near a rounded mass of rock, half way up the mountain, two young eagles that had apparently just left their nest, and were trying to learn to fly. The old eagles were soaring around them, screaming. They seemed to be afraid that their young ones would fall down the rocks and get killed. Rollo wished that they would fall down, or at least fly down, to where he was, in order that he might catch one of them. But they did not. They took only short flights from rock to rock and from thicket to thicket, but they did not come down. So, after watching them for a time, Rollo went on.
Next they came to a place where the valley took a turn so as to expose the mountain side to the sun in such a manner as to make a good place there for grapes to grow and ripen. The people had accordingly terraced the whole declivity by building walls, one above another, to support the earth for the vineyards; and when Rollo was going by the place he looked up and saw a man standing on the wall of one of the terraces, with the tool which he had been working with in his hand. He seemed suspended in mid air, and looked down on the road and on the people walking along it as a man would look down upon a street in London from the gallery under the dome of St. Paul's.
"That's a pleasant place to work," said Rollo, "away up there, between the heavens and the earth."
"Yes," said his mother; "and I should think that taking care of vines and gathering the grapes would be very pretty work to do."
There was a little building on the corner of one of the terraces, which Mr. Holiday said was a watch tower. There were windows on all the sides of it.
"When the grapes begin to ripen," said he, "there is a man stationed there to watch all the vineyards around, in order to prevent people from stealing the grapes."
"I should think there would be danger of their stealing the grapes," said Rollo.
After going on a little way beyond this, they began to approach the town of Aigle. Mrs. Holiday was surprised that she could have come so far with so little fatigue. Rollo told her that it was because she had walked along so slowly.
"Yes," said Mr. Holiday; "and because there have been so many things to take up our attention by the way."
When they arrived at the village they went directly to the inn. The inns in these country towns in Switzerland are the largest and most conspicuous looking buildings to be seen. Rollo went first, and led the way. He went directly to the dining room.
The dining rooms in these inns, as I have already said, are the public rooms, where the company always go, whether they wish for any thing to eat or not. There is usually one large table, for dinner, in the centre of the room, and several smaller tables at the sides or at the windows, for breakfasts and luncheons, and also for small dinner parties of two or three. Besides these tables, there is often one with a pen and ink upon it for writing, and another for knapsacks and carpet bags; and there are sofas for the company to repose upon while the waiter is setting the table for them.
Rollo accordingly led the way at once to the dining room of the inn, and conducted his mother to a sofa.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. Holiday, "order us a dinner."
So Rollo went to the waiter, and after talking with him a little while, came back and said that he had ordered some fried trout, some veal cutlets, fried potatoes, an omelette, and some coffee.
"And besides that," said Rollo, "he is going to give us some plums and some pears. This is a famous place for plums and pears."
"And for grapes, too, in the season of them," said Mr. Holiday.
This was very true. Indeed, on looking about the walls of the room, to see the maps and the pretty pictures of Swiss scenery that were there, Rollo found among the other things an advertisement of what was called the _grape cure_. It seems that eating ripe grapes was considered a cure for sickness in that country, and that people were accustomed to come to that very town of Aigle to procure them. There was no place in Switzerland, the advertisement said, where the grapes were richer and sweeter than there.
The advertisement went on to say that the season for the grape cure was in September, October, and November; that there were a number of fine vineyards in the vicinity of the town which produced the most delicious grapes; and that these vineyards were placed at the disposal of the guests of the hotel at the rate of a franc a day for each person; so that for that sum they could have every day as many as they could eat; and this was to be their medicine, to make them well.
Rollo read this advertisement aloud to his father and mother, with a tone of voice which indicated a very eager interest in it.
"Father," said he, "I wish you would come here and try it. Perhaps it would make you well."
The advertisement was in French, and Rollo translated it as he read it. He succeeded very well in rendering into English all that was said about the grapes, and the manner of taking them, and the terms for boarders at the hotel; but when he came to the names of the diseases that the grapes would cure, he was at a loss, as most of them were learned medical words, which he had never seen before. So he read off the names in French, and concluded by asking his father whether he did not think it was some of those things that was the matter with him.
"Very likely," said his father.
"Then, father," said Rollo, "I wish you would come here in October, and try the grape cure, and bring me too."
"Very likely I may," said his father. "This is on the great road to Italy, and we may conclude to go to Italy this winter."
Just at this time the door of the dining room opened, and a new party came in. It consisted of a gentleman and lady, who seemed to be a new married pair. They came in a carriage. Rollo looked out the window, and saw the carriage drive away from the door to go to the stable.
The gentleman put his haversack and the lady's satchel and shawl down upon the table, and then took a seat with her upon another sofa which was in the room.
The dinner which Rollo had ordered was soon ready, and they sat down to eat it with excellent appetites. While they were at dinner, Rollo inquired of the waiter what time the omnibus went to Villeneuve, and he learned that it did not go for some hours. So Mr. Holiday told his wife that she might either have a chamber, and lie down and rest herself during that time, or they might go out and take a walk.
Mrs. Holiday said that she did not feel at all fatigued, and so she would like to go and take a walk.
There was a castle on a rising ground just in the rear of the village, which had attracted her attention in coming into the town, and she was desirous of going to see it.
So they all set off to go and see the castle. They found their way to it without any difficulty. It proved to be an ancient castle, built in the middle ages, but it was used now for a prison. The family of the jailer lived in it too. It looked old and gone to decay.
When they entered the court yard, a woman looked up to the windows and called out _Julie!_ Presently a young girl answered to the call, and the woman told her that here were some people come to see the castle. So Julie came down and took them under her charge.
The party spent half an hour in rambling over the castle. They went through all sorts of intricate passages, and up and down flights of stone stairs, steep, and narrow, and winding. They saw a number of dismal dungeons. Some were dark, so that the girl had to take a candle to light the way. The doors were old, and blackened by time, and they moved heavily on rusty hinges. The bolts, and bars, and locks were all rusted, too, so that it was very difficult to move them.
The visitors did not see all the dungeons and cells, for some of them had prisoners in them then, and those doors Julie said she was not allowed to open, for fear that the prisoners should get away.
After rambling about the old castle as much as they desired to do, and ascending to the tower to view the scenery, the party came down again, and returned to the inn.
They found the dining room full of boys. These boys were sitting at a long table, eating a luncheon. They were the boys of a school. The teacher was at the head of the table. Rollo talked with some of the boys, for he found two or three that could talk French and English, though their English was not very good.
In due time the omnibus came to the door, and then Rollo conducted his father and mother to it, and assisted them to get in. The sun was now nearly down, and the party had a delightful ride, in the cool air of the evening, back to Villeneuve.
The next day they embarked on board the steamer, and returned to Geneva.
I have already said that Geneva is a very famous place for the manufacture of watches and jewelry, and that almost every person who goes there likes to buy some specimen of these manufactures as a souvenir of their visit.
There is a great difference in ladies, in respect to the interest which they take in dress and ornaments. Some greatly undervalue them, some greatly overvalue them.
Some ladies, especially such as are of a very conscientious and religious turn of mind, are apt to imagine that there is something wrong in itself in wearing ornaments or in taking pleasure in them. But we should remember that God himself has ornamented every thing in nature that has not power to ornament itself. Look at the flowers, the fruits, the birds, the fields, the butterflies, the insects; see how beautiful they all are made by _ornaments_ with which God has embellished them.
God has not ornamented man, nor has he clothed him; but he has given him the powers and faculties necessary to clothe and ornament himself. He has provided him with the means, too, and with the means as much for the one as for the other. There are cotton and flax which he can procure from plants, and wool and fur from animals, for his clothing; and then there are gold and silver in the earth, and rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, for his ornaments; and if we are not to use them, what were they made for?
They, therefore, seem to be in error who discard all ornaments, and think that to wear them or to take pleasure in them is wrong.
But this, after all, is not the common failing. The danger is usually altogether the other way. A great many ladies overvalue ornaments. They seem to think of scarcely any thing else. They cannot have too many rings, pins, bracelets, and jewels. They spend _all_ their surplus money for these things, and even sometimes pinch themselves in comforts and necessaries, to add to their already abundant supplies. This excessive fondness for dress and articles for personal adornment is a mark of a weak mind. It is seen most strongly in savages, and in people of the lowest stages of refinement and cultivation. The opposite error, though far less common, is equally an error; and though it is not the mark of any weakness of the mind, it certainly denotes a degree of perversion in some of the workings of it.
The morning after the return of our party to Geneva from their excursion along the lake, they made their arrangements for leaving Geneva finally on the following day.
"And now," said Mr. Holiday to his wife, "Geneva is a famous place for ornaments and jewelry; and before we go, I think you had better go with me to some of the shops, and buy something of that kind, as a souvenir of your visit."
"Well," said Mrs. Holiday, "if you think it is best, we will. Only I don't think much of ornaments and jewelry."
"I know you do not," said Mr. Holiday; "and that is the reason why I think you had better buy some here."
Mrs. Holiday laughed. She thought it was rather a queer reason for wishing her to buy a thing--that she did not care much about it.
Rollo was present during this conversation between his father and mother, and listened to it; and when, finally, it was decided that his mother should go to one or two of the shops in Geneva, to look at, and perhaps purchase, some of the ornaments and jewelry, he wished to go too.
"Why?" said his mother; "do _you_ wish to buy any of those things?"
Rollo said he did. He wished to buy some for presents.
"Have you got any money?" asked his father.
"Yes, sir, plenty," said Rollo.
Rollo was a very good manager in respect to his finances, and always kept a good supply of cash on hand, laid up from his allowance, so as to be provided in case of any sudden emergency like this.
So the party set out together, after breakfast, to look at the shops. They knew the shops where jewelry was kept for sale by the display of rings, pins, bracelets, and pretty little watches, that were put up at the windows. They went into several of them. The shops were not large, but the interior of them presented quite a peculiar aspect. There were no goods of any kind, except those in the windows, to be seen, nor were there even any shelves; but the three sides of the room were filled with little drawers, extending from the floor to the ceiling. These drawers were filled with jewelry of the richest and most costly description; and thus, though there was nothing to be seen at first view, the value of the merchandise ready to be displayed at a moment's notice was very great.
In the centre of the room, in front of the drawers, were counters--usually two, one on each side; and sometimes there was a table besides. The table and the counters were elegantly made, of fine cabinet work, and before them were placed handsome chairs and sofas, nicely cushioned, so that the customers might sit at their ease, and examine the ornaments which the shopkeeper showed them. The counters were of the same height as the table, and there were drawers in them below, and also in the table, like those along the sides of the room.
At the first shop where our party went in, two ladies, very showily dressed, were sitting at a table, looking at a great variety of pins, rings, and bracelets that the shopkeeper had placed before them. The articles were contained in little rosewood and mahogany trays, lined with velvet; and they looked very brilliant and beautiful as they lay, each in its own little velvet nest.
The ladies looked up from the table, and gazed with a peculiar sort of stare, well known among fashionable people of a certain sort, upon Mrs. Holiday, as she came in. One of them put up a little eye glass to her eye, in order to see her more distinctly. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday, followed by Rollo, advanced and took their places on a sofa before one of the counters. The ladies then continued their conversation, apparently taking no notice of the new comers.
One of the ladies was holding a bracelet in her hand. She had already two bracelets on each wrist, and ever so many rings on her fingers, besides a large brooch in her collar, and a double gold chain to her watch, with a great number of breloques and charms attached to it. She seemed to be considering whether she should buy the bracelet that she was holding in her hand or not.
"It certainly is a beauty," said she.
"Yes," said the other; "and if I were you, Almira, I would take it without hesitating a moment. You can afford it just as well as not."
"It is so high!" said Almira, doubtingly, and holding up the bracelet, so as to see the light reflected from the surfaces of the precious stones.
"I don't think it is high at all," said her friend; "that is, for such stones and such setting. A thousand francs, he says, and that is only two hundred dollars. That is nothing at all for so rich a husband as yours."
"I know," said Almira; "but then he always makes such wry faces if I buy any thing that costs more than fifty or seventy-five dollars."
[Illustration: SHOPPING AT GENEVA.]
"I would not mind his wry faces at all," said her friend. "He does not mean any thing by them. Depend upon it, he is as proud to see you wear handsome things as any man, after he has once paid for them. Then, besides, perhaps the man will take something off from the thousand francs."
"I will ask him," said Almira.
So she called the shopman to her, and asked him in French whether he could not take eight hundred francs for the bracelet.
She accosted him in French, for that is the language of Geneva; and the two ladies had talked very freely to each other in English, supposing that neither the shopkeeper nor the new party of customers would understand what they were saying. But it happened that the shopkeeper himself, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Holiday, understood English very well, and thus he knew the meaning of all that the ladies had been saying; and he was too well acquainted with human nature not to know that the end of such a consultation and deliberation as that would be the purchase of the bracelet, and was therefore not at all disposed to abate the price.
"No, madam," said he, speaking in French, and in a very polite and obliging manner; "I cannot vary from the price I named at all. We are obliged to adopt the system of having only one price here. Besides, that bracelet could not possibly be afforded for less than a thousand francs. Earlier in the season we asked twelve hundred francs for it; and I assure you, madam, that it is a great bargain at a thousand."
After looking at the bracelet a little longer, and holding it up again in different lights, and hearing her friend's solicitations that she would purchase it repeated in various forms, Almira finally concluded to take it.
It may seem, at first view, that Almira's friend evinced a great deal of generosity in urging her thus to buy an ornament more rich and costly than she could hope to purchase for herself; but her secret motive was not a generous one at all. She wished to quote Almira's example to her own husband, as a justification for her having bought a richer piece of jewelry than he would otherwise have approved of.
"Mine only cost eight hundred francs," she was going to say; "and cousin Almira bought one that cost a thousand."
In this way she hoped to exhibit to her husband that which he might otherwise have regarded as foolish extravagance in the light of self-denial and prudent economy.
In the mean time, while Almira and her friend had been making their purchases at the table, another shopman had been displaying a great many trays to Mrs. Holiday on one of the counters. The ornaments contained in these trays were by no means as costly as those which had been shown to the two ladies at the table; for Mrs. Holiday had said to the shopman, as she came in, that she wished to see only some simple pins and other ornaments worth from fifty to one hundred francs. They were, however, just as pretty in Mrs. Holiday's opinion. Indeed, the beauty of such ornaments as these seldom has any relation to the costliness of them. This, however, constitutes no reason, in the opinion of many ladies, why they should buy the less expensive ones; for with these ladies it is the costliness of an ornament, rather than the beauty of it, that constitutes its charm.
The two ladies paid for their purchases with gold coins which they took from elegant gold-mounted porte-monnaies that they carried in their hands, and then, with a dash and a flourish, went away.
Mrs. Holiday took up one after another of the ornaments before her, and looked at them with a musing air and manner, that seemed to denote that her thoughts were not upon them. She was thinking how erroneous an estimate those ladies form of the comparative value of the different sources of happiness within the reach of women who sacrifice the confidence and love of their husbands to the possession of a pearl necklace or a diamond pin.
Mrs. Holiday finally bought two ornaments, and Rollo bought two also. Rollo's were small pins. They were very pretty indeed. One of them cost twelve francs, and the other fifteen. His mother asked him whether he was going to wear them himself.
"O, no, mother," said he; "I have bought them to give away."
His mother then asked him whom he was going to give them to. He laughed, and said that that was a secret. He would tell her, however, he said, whom one of them was for. It was for his cousin Lucy.
"And which of them is for her?" asked his mother.
"This one," said Rollo. So saying he showed his mother the one that cost twelve francs.
A FORTUNATE ACCIDENT.
The day before Rollo left Geneva, he met with an accident which his father called a fortunate one, though Rollo himself was at first inclined to consider it quite an unfortunate one. The reason why Mr. Holiday considered it fortunate was, that no evil result followed from it, except giving Rollo a good fright. "It is always a lucky thing for a boy," said Mr. Holiday, "when he meets with any accident that frightens him well, provided it does not hurt him much."
The accident that happened to Rollo was this: There was a boy at the hotel, who had recently come with his father and mother from India. He was the son of an English army officer. His name was Gerald. He was a tall and handsome boy, and was about a year older than Rollo.
In the afternoon of the day before the party were to leave Geneva, Rollo came in from the quay, where he had been out to take a walk, and asked permission to go out on the lake, a little way, in a boat, with Gerald.
"Does Gerald understand how to manage a boat?" asked Mr. Holiday.
"O, yes, sir," said Rollo. "He has been all over the world, and he knows how to manage every thing. Besides, I can manage a boat myself well enough to go out on this lake. It is as smooth as a mill pond."
"Very well," said Mr. Holiday. "Only it must not be a sail boat. You must take oars; and look out well that the Rhone does not catch you."
Rollo understood very well that his father meant by this that he must be careful not to let the current, which was all the time drawing the water of the lake off under the bridge, and thus forming the Rhone below, carry the boat down. Rollo said that he would be very careful; and off he went to rejoin Gerald on the quay.
Gerald was already in the boat. He had with him, also, a Swiss boy, whom he had engaged to go too, as a sort of attendant, and to help row, if necessary. An English boy, in such cases, never considers the party complete unless he has some one to occupy the place of a servant, and to be under his command.
So the three boys got into the boat, and pushed off from the shore. For a time every thing went on well and pleasantly. Rollo and the others had a fine time in rowing to and fro over the smooth water, from one beautiful point of land to another, on the lake shores, and sometimes in lying still on the calm surface, to rest from the labor, and to amuse themselves in looking down in the beautiful blue depths beneath them, and watching the fishes that were swimming about there. At last, in the course of their manoeuvrings, they happened to take the boat rather too near the bridge. The attention of the boys was at the time directed to something that they saw in the water; and they did not perceive how near the bridge they were until Rollo happened to observe that the stones at the bottom seemed to be rapidly moving along in the direction towards the lake.
"My!" said Rollo; "see how fast the stones are going!"
"The stones!" exclaimed Gerald, starting up, and seizing an oar. "It's the boat! We are going under the bridge, as sure as fate! Put out your oar, Rollo, and pull for your life! Pull!"
Both Rollo and the Swiss boy immediately put out their oars and pulled; but Gerald soon found that the current was too strong for them. In spite of all they could do, the boat was evidently slowly drifting towards the bridge.
"It is of no use," said Gerald, at last. "We shall have to go through; but that will do no harm if we can only manage to keep her from striking the piers. Take in your oars, boys, and let me pull her round so as to head down stream, and you stand ready to fend off when we are going under."
The excitement of this scene was very great, and Rollo's first impulse was to scream for help; but observing how cool and collected Gerald appeared, he felt somewhat reassured, and at once obeyed Gerald's orders. He took in his oar, and holding it in his hands, as if it had been a boat hook or a setting pole, he prepared to fend off from the piers when the boat went through. In the mean time Gerald had succeeded in getting the boat round, so as to point the bows down stream, just as she reached the bridge; and in this position she shot under it like an arrow. Several boys who were standing on the bridge at this time, after watching at the upper side till the boat went under, ran across to the lower side, to see her come out.
The boat passed through the bridge safely, though the stern struck against the pier on one side, just as it was emerging. The reason of this was, that Gerald, in bringing it round so as to head down the stream, had given it a rotating motion, which continued while it was passing under the bridge, and thus brought the stern round against the pier. No harm was done, however, except that the boat received a rather rude concussion by the blow.
"Now, boys," said Gerald, speaking in French, "we must keep her head and stern up and down the stream, or we shall make shipwreck."
"Yes," said Rollo, in English; "if we should strike a snag or any thing, broadside on, the boat would roll right over."
"A snag!" repeated Gerald, contemptuously. The idea was indeed absurd of finding a snag in the River Rhone; for a snag is formed by a floating tree, which is washed into the river by the undermining of the banks, and is then carried down until it gets lodged. There are millions of such trees in the Mississippi, but none in the Rhone.
However, Rollo was right in his general idea. There might be obstructions of some sort in the river, which it would be dangerous for the boat to encounter broadside on; so he took hold resolutely of the work of helping Gerald bring it into a position parallel with the direction of the stream. In the mean time the boat was swept down the torrent with fearful rapidity. It glided swiftly on amid boiling whirlpools and sheets of rippling foam, that were quite frightful to see. The buildings of the town here bordered the banks of the river on each side, and there were little jutting piers and platforms here and there, with boys upon them in some places, fishing, and women washing clothes in others. The boys in the boat did not call for help, and so nobody attempted to come and help them. Gerald's plan was to keep the boat headed right, and so let her drift on until she had passed through the town, in hopes of being able to bring her up somewhere on the shore below.
At one time the force of the current carried them quite near to the shore, at a place where Gerald thought it would be dangerous to attempt to land, and he called out aloud to Rollo to "fend off." Rollo attempted to do so, and in the attempt he lost his oar. He was standing near the bows at the time, and as he planted his oar against the bottom, the current carried the boat on with such irresistible impetuosity that the oar was wrested from his hand in an instant. If he had not let go of it he would have been pulled over himself. Gerald, however, had the presence of mind to reach out his own oar at once, and draw the lost one back towards the boat, so that the Swiss boy seized it, and, to Rollo's great joy, took it in again.
The boat at one time came very near drifting against one of the great water wheels which were revolving in the stream. Gerald perceived the danger just in time, and he contrived to turn the head of the boat out towards the centre of the river, and then commanding Rollo and the Swiss boy to row, and pulling, himself, with all his force, he just succeeded in escaping the danger.
By this time the boat had passed by the town, and it now came to a part of the river which was bordered by smooth, grassy banks on each side, and with a row of willows growing near the margin of the water. This was the place, in fact, where Rollo had walked along the shore with his mother, in going down to visit the junction of the Rhone and the Arve.
"Now," said Gerald, "here is a chance for us to make a landing. I'll head her in towards the shore."
So Gerald turned the head of the boat in towards the bank, and then, by dint of hard rowing, the boys contrived gradually to draw nearer and nearer to the shore, though they were all the time drifting rapidly down. At last the boat came so near that the bow was just ready to touch the bank, and then Gerald seized the painter, and, watching his opportunity, leaped ashore, and, running to the nearest willow, wound the painter round it. This at once checked the motion of the bow, and caused the stern to swing round. Gerald immediately unwound the painter, and ran to the willow next below, where he wound it round again, and there succeeded at last in making it fast, and stopping the motion of the boat altogether. Rollo and the Swiss boy then made their escape safe to land.
"There!" said Rollo, taking at the same time a high jump, to express his exultation; "there! Here we are safe, and who cares?"
"Ah!" said Gerald, calmly; "it is very easy to say Who cares? now that we have got safe to land; but you'll find me looking out sharp not to get sucked into those ripples again."
So the boys went home. Gerald found a man to go down and bring back the boat, while Rollo proceeded to the hotel, to report the affair to his father and mother. Mrs. Holiday was very much alarmed, but Mr. Holiday seemed to take the matter quite coolly. He said he thought that Rollo was now, for all the rest of his life, in much less danger of being drowned by getting carried down rapids in a river than he was before.
"He understands the subject now somewhat practically," said Mr. Holiday.
The term of Mr. Holiday's visit had now expired, and the arrangements were to be made for leaving town, with a view of returning again to Paris. Rollo, however, was very desirous that before going back to Paris they should make at least a short excursion among the mountains.
"Where shall we go?" said his father.
"To the valley of Chamouni," said Rollo. "They say that that is the prettiest place in all Switzerland."
"How long will it take us to go?" asked Mr. Holiday.
"We can go in a day," said Rollo. "There are plenty of diligences. The offices of them are here all along the quay.
"Or, if you don't choose to go so far in a day," continued Rollo, "you can go in half a day to the entrance of the valley, where there is a good place to stop, and then we can go to Chamouni the next day. I have studied it all out in the guide book."
"Very well," said Mr. Holiday. "It seems that we can get into the valley of Chamouni very easily; and now how is it about getting out?"
At this question Rollo's countenance fell a little, and he replied that it was not so easy to get out.
"There is no way to get out," said he, "except to go over the mountains, unless we come back the same way we go in."
"That would not be quite so pleasant," said Mr. Holiday.
"No, sir," said Rollo; "it would be better to go out some new way. But there is not any way. It is a long, narrow valley, very high up among the mountain glaciers. There is a way to get out at the upper end, but it is only a mountain pass, and we should have to ride over on mules. But you could ride on a mule--could not you, father?"
"Why, yes," said Mr. Holiday, "perhaps I could; but it might be too fatiguing for your mother. She has not been accustomed to ride on horseback much of late years.
"Besides," he continued, "I suppose that as it is a mountain pass, the road must be pretty steep and difficult."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "it is steep some part of the way. You have to go up for half an hour by zigzags--right up the side of the mountain. I read about it in the guide book. Then, after we get up to the top of the pass, we have a monstrous long way to go down. We have to go down for two hours, as steep as we can go."
"I should think we should have to go _up_ as much as _down_," said Mr. Holiday; "for it is necessary to ascend as much to get to the top of any hill from the bottom as you _descend_ in going down to the bottom from the top."
"Ah, but in Chamouni," said Rollo, "we are very near the top already. It is a valley, it is true; but it is up very high among the mountains, and is surrounded with snow and glaciers. That is what makes it so interesting to go there. Besides, we can see the top of Mont Blanc there, and with a spy glass we can watch the people going up, as they walk along over the fields of snow."
"Well," said Mr. Holiday, "I should like to go there very well, if your mother consents; and then, if she does not feel adventurous enough to go over the mountain pass on a mule, we can, at all events, come back the same way we go."
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "and, besides, father," he continued, eagerly, "there is another way that we can do. Mother can go over the mountain pass on a carrying chair. They have carrying chairs there, expressly to carry ladies over the passes. They are good, comfortable chairs, with poles each side of them, fastened very strong. The lady sits in the chair, and then two men take hold of the poles, one before and the other behind, and so they carry her over the mountains."
"I should think that would be very easy and very comfortable," said Mr. Holiday. "Go and find your mother, and explain it all to her, and hear what she says. Tell her what sort of a place Chamouni is, and what there is to be seen there, and then tell her of the different ways there will be of getting out when once we get in. If she would like it we will go."
Mrs. Holiday did like the plan of going to Chamouni very much. She said she thought that she could go over the mountain pass on a mule; and that at any rate she could go on the carrying chair. So the excursion was decided upon, and the party set off the next day.
* * * * *
And here I must end the story of Rollo at Geneva, only adding that it proved in the end that the fifteen franc pin which Rollo bought, and the destination of which he made a secret of, was intended for his mother. He kept the pin in his trunk until he returned to America, and then sent it into his mother's room, with a little note, one morning when she was there alone. His mother kept the pin a great many years, and wore it a great many times; and she said she valued it more than any other ornament she had, though she had several in her little strong box that had cost in money fifty times as much.
ABBOTT'S AMERICAN HISTORY.
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Daily Thoughts for a Child, Truth is Everything, Sunday Morning Thoughts, Sunday Evening Thoughts, Emilie the Peacemaker, Stories of Scotland.
_From the Boston Register._
"These charming volumes are the much admired Geldart Series of books for the young, which have established a very enviable reputation in England for their wholesome moral tendency. They are beautifully printed 16mo. volumes, with gilt backs, and are sold at 50 cents each. There are five volumes in the series, and they will form a very choice addition to a youth's library."
_From the Worcester Palladium._
"What children read they often long retain; therefore it is desirable that their books should be of a high moral tone. In this respect Mrs. Geldart has few equals as an author, and we hope that her works will be found in every child's library."
1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters errors and to ensure consistency across the text in spelling and punctuation usage; otherwise, every effort has been made to ensure that this e-text is true to the originial book.
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