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    Chapter 28

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    Chapter 28
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    CHAPTER XXVIII [The Jodel and Its Native Wilds]

    The Rigi-Kulm is an imposing Alpine mass, six thousand feet high, which
    stands by itself, and commands a mighty prospect of blue lakes, green
    valleys, and snowy mountains--a compact and magnificent picture
    three hundred miles in circumference. The ascent is made by rail, or
    horseback, or on foot, as one may prefer. I and my agent panoplied
    ourselves in walking-costume, one bright morning, and started down
    the lake on the steamboat; we got ashore at the village of Waeggis;
    three-quarters of an hour distant from Lucerne. This village is at the
    foot of the mountain.

    We were soon tramping leisurely up the leafy mule-path, and then the
    talk began to flow, as usual. It was twelve o'clock noon, and a breezy,
    cloudless day; the ascent was gradual, and the glimpses, from under
    the curtaining boughs, of blue water, and tiny sailboats, and beetling
    cliffs, were as charming as glimpses of dreamland. All the circumstances
    were perfect--and the anticipations, too, for we should soon be
    enjoying, for the first time, that wonderful spectacle, an Alpine
    sunrise--the object of our journey. There was (apparently) no real need
    for hurry, for the guide-book made the walking-distance from Waeggis to
    the summit only three hours and a quarter. I say "apparently," because
    the guide-book had already fooled us once--about the distance from
    Allerheiligen to Oppenau--and for aught I knew it might be getting
    ready to fool us again. We were only certain as to the altitudes--we
    calculated to find out for ourselves how many hours it is from the
    bottom to the top. The summit is six thousand feet above the sea, but
    only forty-five hundred feet above the lake. When we had walked half an
    hour, we were fairly into the swing and humor of the undertaking, so we
    cleared for action; that is to say, we got a boy whom we met to carry
    our alpenstocks and satchels and overcoats and things for us; that left
    us free for business. I suppose we must have stopped oftener to stretch
    out on the grass in the shade and take a bit of a smoke than this boy
    was used to, for presently he asked if it had been our idea to hire him
    by the job, or by the year? We told him he could move along if he was
    in a hurry. He said he wasn't in such a very particular hurry, but he
    wanted to get to the top while he was young. We told him to clear out,
    then, and leave the things at the uppermost hotel and say we should be
    along presently. He said he would secure us a hotel if he could, but if
    they were all full he would ask them to build another one and hurry
    up and get the paint and plaster dry against we arrived. Still gently
    chaffing us, he pushed ahead, up the trail, and soon disappeared. By
    six o'clock we were pretty high up in the air, and the view of lake and
    mountains had greatly grown in breadth and interest. We halted awhile at
    a little public house, where we had bread and cheese and a quart or
    two of fresh milk, out on the porch, with the big panorama all before
    us--and then moved on again.

    Ten minutes afterward we met a hot, red-faced man plunging down the
    mountain, making mighty strides, swinging his alpenstock ahead of him,
    and taking a grip on the ground with its iron point to support these
    big strides. He stopped, fanned himself with his hat, swabbed the
    perspiration from his face and neck with a red handkerchief, panted
    a moment or two, and asked how far to Waeggis. I said three hours. He
    looked surprised, and said:

    "Why, it seems as if I could toss a biscuit into the lake from here,
    it's so close by. Is that an inn, there?"

    I said it was.

    "Well," said he, "I can't stand another three hours, I've had enough
    today; I'll take a bed there."

    I asked:

    "Are we nearly to the top?"

    "Nearly to the TOP? Why, bless your soul, you haven't really started,

    I said we would put up at the inn, too. So we turned back and ordered a
    hot supper, and had quite a jolly evening of it with this Englishman.

    The German landlady gave us neat rooms and nice beds, and when I and my
    agent turned in, it was with the resolution to be up early and make the
    utmost of our first Alpine sunrise. But of course we were dead tired,
    and slept like policemen; so when we awoke in the morning and ran to the
    window it was already too late, because it was half past eleven. It
    was a sharp disappointment. However, we ordered breakfast and told the
    landlady to call the Englishman, but she said he was already up and off
    at daybreak--and swearing like mad about something or other. We could
    not find out what the matter was. He had asked the landlady the altitude
    of her place above the level of the lake, and she told him fourteen
    hundred and ninety-five feet. That was all that was said; then he lost
    his temper. He said that between ------ fools and guide-books, a man
    could acquire ignorance enough in twenty-four hours in a country like
    this to last him a year. Harris believed our boy had been loading him
    up with misinformation; and this was probably the case, for his epithet
    described that boy to a dot.

    We got under way about the turn of noon, and pulled out for the summit
    again, with a fresh and vigorous step. When we had gone about two
    hundred yards, and stopped to rest, I glanced to the left while I was
    lighting my pipe, and in the distance detected a long worm of black
    smoke crawling lazily up the steep mountain. Of course that was the
    locomotive. We propped ourselves on our elbows at once, to gaze, for we
    had never seen a mountain railway yet. Presently we could make out the
    train. It seemed incredible that that thing should creep straight up a
    sharp slant like the roof of a house--but there it was, and it was doing
    that very miracle.

    In the course of a couple hours we reached a fine breezy altitude where
    the little shepherd huts had big stones all over their roofs to hold
    them down to the earth when the great storms rage. The country was wild
    and rocky about here, but there were plenty of trees, plenty of moss,
    and grass.

    Away off on the opposite shore of the lake we could see some villages,
    and now for the first time we could observe the real difference between
    their proportions and those of the giant mountains at whose feet they
    slept. When one is in one of those villages it seems spacious, and
    its houses seem high and not out of proportion to the mountain that
    overhands them--but from our altitude, what a change! The mountains were
    bigger and grander than ever, as they stood there thinking their solemn
    thoughts with their heads in the drifting clouds, but the villages
    at their feet--when the painstaking eye could trace them up and find
    them--were so reduced, almost invisible, and lay so flat against the
    ground, that the exactest simile I can devise is to compare them to
    ant-deposits of granulated dirt overshadowed by the huge bulk of a
    cathedral. The steamboats skimming along under the stupendous precipices
    were diminished by distance to the daintiest little toys, the sailboats
    and rowboats to shallops proper for fairies that keep house in the cups
    of lilies and ride to court on the backs of bumblebees.

    Presently we came upon half a dozen sheep nibbling grass in the spray
    of a stream of clear water that sprang from a rock wall a hundred feet
    high, and all at once our ears were startled with a melodious "Lul ...
    l ... l l l llul-lul-LAhee-o-o-o!" pealing joyously from a near but
    invisible source, and recognized that we were hearing for the first
    time the famous Alpine JODEL in its own native wilds. And we recognized,
    also, that it was that sort of quaint commingling of baritone and
    falsetto which at home we call "Tyrolese warbling."

    The jodeling (pronounced yOdling--emphasis on the O) continued, and
    was very pleasant and inspiriting to hear. Now the jodeler appeared--a
    shepherd boy of sixteen--and in our gladness and gratitude we gave him
    a franc to jodel some more. So he jodeled and we listened. We moved
    on, presently, and he generously jodeled us out of sight. After about
    fifteen minutes we came across another shepherd boy who was jodeling,
    and gave him half a franc to keep it up. He also jodeled us out of
    sight. After that, we found a jodeler every ten minutes; we gave the
    first one eight cents, the second one six cents, the third one four, the
    fourth one a penny, contributed nothing to Nos. 5, 6, and 7, and during
    the remainder of the day hired the rest of the jodelers, at a franc
    apiece, not to jodel any more. There is somewhat too much of the
    jodeling in the Alps.

    About the middle of the afternoon we passed through a prodigious natural
    gateway called the Felsenthor, formed by two enormous upright rocks,
    with a third lying across the top. There was a very attractive little
    hotel close by, but our energies were not conquered yet, so we went on.

    Three hours afterward we came to the railway-track. It was planted
    straight up the mountain with the slant of a ladder that leans against a
    house, and it seemed to us that man would need good nerves who proposed
    to travel up it or down it either.

    During the latter part of the afternoon we cooled our roasting interiors
    with ice-cold water from clear streams, the only really satisfying water
    we had tasted since we left home, for at the hotels on the continent
    they merely give you a tumbler of ice to soak your water in, and that
    only modifies its hotness, doesn't make it cold. Water can only be made
    cold enough for summer comfort by being prepared in a refrigerator or
    a closed ice-pitcher. Europeans say ice-water impairs digestion. How do
    they know?--they never drink any.

    At ten minutes past six we reached the Kaltbad station, where there is
    a spacious hotel with great verandas which command a majestic expanse of
    lake and mountain scenery. We were pretty well fagged out, now, but as
    we did not wish to miss the Alpine sunrise, we got through our dinner
    as quickly as possible and hurried off to bed. It was unspeakably
    comfortable to stretch our weary limbs between the cool, damp sheets.
    And how we did sleep!--for there is no opiate like Alpine pedestrianism.

    In the morning we both awoke and leaped out of bed at the same instant
    and ran and stripped aside the window-curtains; but we suffered a bitter
    disappointment again: it was already half past three in the afternoon.

    We dressed sullenly and in ill spirits, each accusing the other of
    oversleeping. Harris said if we had brought the courier along, as we
    ought to have done, we should not have missed these sunrises. I said he
    knew very well that one of us would have to sit up and wake the
    courier; and I added that we were having trouble enough to take care
    of ourselves, on this climb, without having to take care of a courier

    During breakfast our spirits came up a little, since we found by this
    guide-book that in the hotels on the summit the tourist is not left to
    trust to luck for his sunrise, but is roused betimes by a man who goes
    through the halls with a great Alpine horn, blowing blasts that would
    raise the dead. And there was another consoling thing: the guide-book
    said that up there on the summit the guests did not wait to dress much,
    but seized a red bed blanket and sailed out arrayed like an Indian. This
    was good; this would be romantic; two hundred and fifty people grouped
    on the windy summit, with their hair flying and their red blankets
    flapping, in the solemn presence of the coming sun, would be a striking
    and memorable spectacle. So it was good luck, not ill luck, that we had
    missed those other sunrises.

    We were informed by the guide-book that we were now 3,228 feet above
    the level of the lake--therefore full two-thirds of our journey had been
    accomplished. We got away at a quarter past four P.M.; a hundred yards
    above the hotel the railway divided; one track went straight up the
    steep hill, the other one turned square off to the right, with a very
    slight grade. We took the latter, and followed it more than a mile,
    turned a rocky corner, and came in sight of a handsome new hotel. If we
    had gone on, we should have arrived at the summit, but Harris
    preferred to ask a lot of questions--as usual, of a man who didn't know
    anything--and he told us to go back and follow the other route. We did
    so. We could ill afford this loss of time.

    We climbed and climbed; and we kept on climbing; we reached about forty
    summits, but there was always another one just ahead. It came on to
    rain, and it rained in dead earnest. We were soaked through and it
    was bitter cold. Next a smoky fog of clouds covered the whole region
    densely, and we took to the railway-ties to keep from getting lost.
    Sometimes we slopped along in a narrow path on the left-hand side of the
    track, but by and by when the fog blew as aside a little and we saw that
    we were treading the rampart of a precipice and that our left elbows
    were projecting over a perfectly boundless and bottomless vacancy, we
    gasped, and jumped for the ties again.

    The night shut down, dark and drizzly and cold. About eight in the
    evening the fog lifted and showed us a well-worn path which led up a
    very steep rise to the left. We took it, and as soon as we had got far
    enough from the railway to render the finding it again an impossibility,
    the fog shut down on us once more.

    We were in a bleak, unsheltered place, now, and had to trudge right
    along, in order to keep warm, though we rather expected to go over a
    precipice, sooner or later. About nine o'clock we made an important
    discovery--that we were not in any path. We groped around a while on
    our hands and knees, but we could not find it; so we sat down in the mud
    and the wet scant grass to wait.

    We were terrified into this by being suddenly confronted with a vast
    body which showed itself vaguely for an instant and in the next instant
    was smothered in the fog again. It was really the hotel we were after,
    monstrously magnified by the fog, but we took it for the face of a
    precipice, and decided not to try to claw up it.

    We sat there an hour, with chattering teeth and quivering bodies, and
    quarreled over all sorts of trifles, but gave most of our attention to
    abusing each other for the stupidity of deserting the railway-track. We
    sat with our backs to the precipice, because what little wind there was
    came from that quarter. At some time or other the fog thinned a little;
    we did not know when, for we were facing the empty universe and the
    thinness could not show; but at last Harris happened to look around, and
    there stood a huge, dim, spectral hotel where the precipice had been.
    One could faintly discern the windows and chimneys, and a dull blur of
    lights. Our first emotion was deep, unutterable gratitude, our next was
    a foolish rage, born of the suspicion that possibly the hotel had been
    visible three-quarters of an hour while we sat there in those cold
    puddles quarreling.

    Yes, it was the Rigi-Kulm hotel--the one that occupies the extreme
    summit, and whose remote little sparkle of lights we had often seen
    glinting high aloft among the stars from our balcony away down yonder
    in Lucerne. The crusty portier and the crusty clerks gave us the
    surly reception which their kind deal out in prosperous times, but by
    mollifying them with an extra display of obsequiousness and servility
    we finally got them to show us to the room which our boy had engaged for

    We got into some dry clothing, and while our supper was preparing we
    loafed forsakenly through a couple of vast cavernous drawing-rooms,
    one of which had a stove in it. This stove was in a corner, and densely
    walled around with people. We could not get near the fire, so we moved
    at large in the artic spaces, among a multitude of people who sat
    silent, smileless, forlorn, and shivering--thinking what fools they were
    to come, perhaps. There were some Americans and some Germans, but one
    could see that the great majority were English.

    We lounged into an apartment where there was a great crowd, to see
    what was going on. It was a memento-magazine. The tourists were eagerly
    buying all sorts and styles of paper-cutters, marked "Souvenir of the
    Rigi," with handles made of the little curved horn of the ostensible
    chamois; there were all manner of wooden goblets and such things,
    similarly marked. I was going to buy a paper-cutter, but I believed
    I could remember the cold comfort of the Rigi-Kulm without it, so I
    smothered the impulse.

    Supper warmed us, and we went immediately to bed--but first, as Mr.
    Baedeker requests all tourists to call his attention to any errors which
    they may find in his guide-books, I dropped him a line to inform him he
    missed it by just about three days. I had previously informed him of his
    mistake about the distance from Allerheiligen to Oppenau, and had also
    informed the Ordnance Depart of the German government of the same error
    in the imperial maps. I will add, here, that I never got any answer to
    those letters, or any thanks from either of those sources; and, what is
    still more discourteous, these corrections have not been made, either in
    the maps or the guide-books. But I will write again when I get time, for
    my letters may have miscarried.

    We curled up in the clammy beds, and went to sleep without rocking. We
    were so sodden with fatigue that we never stirred nor turned over
    till the blooming blasts of the Alpine horn aroused us. It may well be
    imagined that we did not lose any time. We snatched on a few odds and
    ends of clothing, cocooned ourselves in the proper red blankets, and
    plunged along the halls and out into the whistling wind bareheaded. We
    saw a tall wooden scaffolding on the very peak of the summit, a hundred
    yards away, and made for it. We rushed up the stairs to the top of this
    scaffolding, and stood there, above the vast outlying world, with hair
    flying and ruddy blankets waving and cracking in the fierce breeze.

    "Fifteen minutes too late, at last!" said Harris, in a vexed voice. "The
    sun is clear above the horizon."

    "No matter," I said, "it is a most magnificent spectacle, and we will
    see it do the rest of its rising anyway."

    In a moment we were deeply absorbed in the marvel before us, and dead to
    everything else. The great cloud-barred disk of the sun stood just above
    a limitless expanse of tossing white-caps--so to speak--a billowy chaos
    of massy mountain domes and peaks draped in imperishable snow, and
    flooded with an opaline glory of changing and dissolving splendors,
    while through rifts in a black cloud-bank above the sun, radiating
    lances of diamond dust shot to the zenith. The cloven valleys of the
    lower world swam in a tinted mist which veiled the ruggedness of their
    crags and ribs and ragged forests, and turned all the forbidding region
    into a soft and rich and sensuous paradise.

    We could not speak. We could hardly breathe. We could only gaze in
    drunken ecstasy and drink in it. Presently Harris exclaimed:

    "Why--nation, it's going DOWN!"

    Perfectly true. We had missed the MORNING hornblow, and slept all day.
    This was stupefying.

    Harris said:

    "Look here, the sun isn't the spectacle--it's US--stacked up here on top
    of this gallows, in these idiotic blankets, and two hundred and fifty
    well-dressed men and women down here gawking up at us and not caring
    a straw whether the sun rises or sets, as long as they've got such a
    ridiculous spectacle as this to set down in their memorandum-books.
    They seem to be laughing their ribs loose, and there's one girl there at
    appears to be going all to pieces. I never saw such a man as you before.
    I think you are the very last possibility in the way of an ass."

    "What have _I_ done?" I answered, with heat.

    "What have you done? You've got up at half past seven o'clock in the
    evening to see the sun rise, that's what you've done."

    "And have you done any better, I'd like to know? I've always used to
    get up with the lark, till I came under the petrifying influence of your
    turgid intellect."

    "YOU used to get up with the lark--Oh, no doubt--you'll get up with the
    hangman one of these days. But you ought to be ashamed to be jawing
    here like this, in a red blanket, on a forty-foot scaffold on top of the
    Alps. And no end of people down here to boot; this isn't any place for
    an exhibition of temper."

    And so the customary quarrel went on. When the sun was fairly down, we
    slipped back to the hotel in the charitable gloaming, and went to bed
    again. We had encountered the horn-blower on the way, and he had tried
    to collect compensation, not only for announcing the sunset, which we
    did see, but for the sunrise, which we had totally missed; but we said
    no, we only took our solar rations on the "European plan"--pay for what
    you get. He promised to make us hear his horn in the morning, if we were
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