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Even the sunny morning which followed this gloomy day had not chased the desolate impression from the soul of Flemming. His excitement increased as he lost himself more and more among the mountains ; and now, as he lay alone on the summit of the sunny hill, with only glaciers and snowy peaks about him, his soul, as I have said, was wild with a fierce and painful delight.
A human voice broke his reverie. He looked, and beheld, at a short distance from him, the athletic form of a mountain herdsman, who was approaching the spot where he lay. He was a young man, clothed in a rustic garb, and holding a long staff in his hand. When Flemming rose, he stood still, and gazed at him, as if he loved the face of man, even of a stranger, and longed to hear a human voice, though it might speak in an unknown tongue. He answered Flemming's salutation in a rude mountain dialect, and in reply to his questions
• I, with two others, have charge of two hundred head of cattle on these mountains, Through the two summer months we remain here night and day; for which we each receive a napoleon."
Flemming gave him half his summer wages. He was glad to do a good deed in secret, and yet so near heaven. The man received it as his due, like a toll-keeper; and soon after departed, leaving the traveller alone. And the traveller went on his way down the mountain, as one distraught. He stopped only to pluck one bright blue flower, which bloomed alone in the vast desert, and looked up at him as if to say, “Oh, take me with you! leave me not here companionless ! ”
Erelong he reached the magnificent glacier of the Rhone; a frozen cataract, more than two thousand feet in height, and many miles broad at its base. It fills the whole valley between two mountains, running back to their summits. At the base it is arched, like a dome; and above, jagged and rough, and resembles a mass of gigantic crystals, of a pale emerald tint, mingled with white. A snowy crust covers its surface ; but at every rent and crevice the pale green ice shines clear in the
Its shape is that of a glove, lying with
the palm downwards, and the fingers crooked and close together. It is a gauntlet of ice, which, centuries ago, Winter, the king of these mountains, threw down in defiance to the Sun; and year by year the Sun strives in vain to lift it from the ground on the point of his glittering spear. A feeling of wonder and delight came over the soul of Flemming when he beheld it, and he shouted and cried aloud :
" How wonderful! how glorious!”
After lingering a few hours in the cold, desolate valley, he climbed in the afternoon the steep Mayen-Wand, on the Grimsel; passed the Lake of the Dead, with its ink-black waters; and through the melting snow, and over slippery stepping-stones in the beds of numberless shallow brooks, descended to the Grimsel Hospital, where he passed the night, and thought it the most lone and desolate spot that man ever slept in.
On the morrow he rose with the day; and the rising sun found him already standing on the rustic bridge which hangs over the verge of the Falls of the Aar at Handeck, where the river pitches down a precipice into a narrow and fearful abyss shut in by perpendicular cliffs. At right angles with it comes the beautiful Aerlenbach; and, half-way down, the double cascade mingles into one. Thus he pursued his way down the Hasli Thal into the Bernese Oberland, - restless, impatient, he knew not why, — stopping seldom, and never long, - and then rushing forward again, like the rushing river whose steps he followed, and in whose ice-cold waters ever and anon he bathed his wrists, to cool the fever in his blood; for the noonday sun was hot.
His heart dilated in the dilating valley, that grew broader and greener at every step. The sight of human faces and human dwellings soothed him; and through the fields of summer grain, in the broad meadows of Imgrund, he walked with a heart that ached no more, but trembled only, as our eyelids when we have done weeping. As he climbed the opposite hill, which hems in this romantic valley, and, like a heavy voke, chafes the neck of the Aar, he believed the ancient tradition, which says that once the valley was a lake. From the
summit of the hill he looked southward upon a beautiful landscape of gardens, and fields of grain, and woodlands, and meadows, and the ancient castle of Resti, looking down upon Meyringen. And now all around him were the singing of birds, and grateful shadows of the leafy trees, and sheeted waterfalls dropping from the woodland cliffs, seen only, but unheard, — the fluted columns breaking into mist, and fretted with frequent spires and ornaments of foam, and not unlike the towers of a Gothic church inverted. There, in one white sheet of foam, the Reichenbach pour's down into its deep beaker, into which the sun never shines. Face to face it beholds the Alpbach falling from the opposite hill,“ like a downward smoke.” When Flemming saw the innumerable runnels, sliding down the mountain-side, and leaping, all life and gladness, he would fain have clasped them in his arms and been their playmate, and revelled with them in their freedom and delight. Yet he was weary with the day's journey, and entered the village of Meyringen, embowered in cherrytrees, which were then laden with fruit, more
like a way-worn traveller than an enthusiastic poet. As he went up the tavern-steps, he said in his heart, with the Italian Aretino : " He who has not been at a tavern knows not what a paradise it is. O holy tavern! () miraculous tavern!— holy, because no carking cares are there, nor weariness, nor pain ; and miraculous, because of the spits, which of themselves turn round and round ! Of a truth, all courtesy and good manners come from taverns, so full of bows, and Signor, si! and Signor, no .!”
But even in the tavern he could not rest long. The same evening at sunset he was floating on the lake of Brienz, in an open boat, close under the cascade of the Giessbach, hearing the peasants sing the Ranz des Vaches. He slept that night at the other extremity of the lake, in a large house, which, like Saint Peter's at Joppa, stood by the water's side. The next day he wasted in writing letters, musing in this green nest, and paddling about the lake again ; and in the evening went across the beautiful meadows to Interlachen, where many things happened to him, and detained him long.
this that inspired the soul of the Swiss poet, in his Song of the Bell !
“ Bell! thou soundest merrily, When the bridal party
To the church doth hie!
Fields deserted lie!
INTERLACHEN! How peacefully, by the margin of the swift-rushing Aar, thou liest on the broad lap of these romantic meadows, all overshadowed by the wide arms of giant trees! Only the quaint towers of thine ancient cloister rise above their summits; the quaint towers themselves but a child's playthings under the great church-towers of the mountains. Close beside thee are lakes, which the flowing band of the river ties together. Before thee opens the magnificent valley of Lauterbrunnen, where the cloud-hooded Monk and the pale Virgin stand like Saint Francis and his Bride of Snow; and around thee are fields, and orchards, and hamlets green, from which the church-bells answer each other at evening. The evening sun was setting when I first beheld thee. The sun of life will set ere I forget thee! Surely it was a scene like
“ Bell! thou soundest merrily; Tellest thou at evening,
Bedtime draweth nigh! Bell ! thou soundest mournfully, Tellest thou the bitter
Parting hath gone by!
“Say! how canst thou mourn ? How canst thou rejoice ?
Art but metal dull !
Thou dost feel them all!
“God hath wonders many, Which we cannot fathom,
Placed within thy form! When the heart is sinking, Thou alone canst raise it,
Trembling in the storm!”
Paul Flemming alighted at one of the principal hotels.
The landlord came out to meet him. He had great eyes and a green coat; and reminded Flemming of the innkeeper mentioned in the Golden Ass, who had been changed by magic into a frog, and croaked to his customers from the lees of a wine-cask. His house, he said, was full, and so was every house in Interlachen; but if the gentleman would walk in, he would find a chamber for him in the neighborhood.
On the sofa sat a gentleman, reading; a stout gentleman of perhaps forty-five, round, ruddy, and with a head which, being a little bald on the top, looked not unlike a crow's nest with one egg in it. A good-humored face turned from the book as Flemming entered; and a good-humored voice exclaimed:
“Ha! Mr. Flemming! Is it you, or your apparition? I told you we should meet again! though you were for taking an eternal farewell of your fellow-traveller."
Saying these words the stout gentleman rose and shook Flemming heartily by the hand. And Flemming returned the shake as heartily, recognizing in this ruddy personage a former travelling - companion, Mr. Berkley, whom he had left, a week or two previous, toiling up the Righi. Mr. Berkley was an Englishman of fortune ; a good-humored, humane old bachelor, remarkable alike for his common sense and his eccentricity. That is to say, the basis of his character was good, sound common sense, trodden down and smoothed by education ; but this level groundwork his strange and whimsical fancy used as a dancing-floor whereon to exhibit her eccentric tricks. His ruling passion was cold-bathing; and he usually ate his breakfast sitting in a tub of cold water, and reading a newspaper. He kissed every child he met; and to every old man said, in passing, “God bless you !” with such an expression of voice and countenance, that no one could doubt his sincerity. He reminded one of Roger Bon
temps, or the Little Man in Gray, though with a difference.
“ The last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, Mr. Berkley," said Flemming, “was at Goldau, just as you were going up the Righi. I hope you were gratified with a fine sunrise on the mountain-top."
“No, I was not !" replied Mr. Berkley. “It is all a humbug! a confounded humbug! They made such a noise about their sunrise, that I determined I would not see it. So I lay snug in bed ; and only peeped through the windowcurtain. That was enough. Just above the house, on the top of the hill, stood some fifty half-dressed, romantic individuals, shivering in the wet grass; and, a short distance from them, a miserable wretch, blowing a long wooden horn. That's your sunrise on the Righi, is it? said I; and went to sleep again. The best thing I saw at the Culm was the advertisement on the bed-room doors, saying that if the women would wear the quilts and blankets for shawls, when they went out to see the sunrise, they must pay for the washing. Take my word for it, the Righi is a great humbug! ”
* Where have you been since ?”
" At Zürich and Schaffhausen. If you go to Zürich, beware how you stop at the Raven. They will cheat you. They cheated me; but I had my revenge ; for, when we reached Schaffhausen, I wrote in the Traveller's Book,
• Beware of the Raven of Zürich!
'T is a bird of omen ill; With a noisy and an unclean nest,
And a very, very long bill.'
If you go to the Golden Falken, you will find it there. I am the author of those lines !”
“ Bitter as Juvenal !” exclaimed Flemming.
“ Not in the least bitter,” said Mr. Berkley. " It is all true. Go to the Raven and see. But this Interlachen! this Interlachen! It is the loveliest spot on the face of the earth," he continued, stretching out both arms, as if to embrace the object of his affection. “There, - only look out there!”
Here he pointed to the window. Flemming looked, and beheld a scene of transcendent beauty. The plain was covered already by the brown shade of the summer twilight. From