There was one curious effect, which I need not take the trouble to describe--because I can scissor a description of it out of the railway company's advertising pamphlet, and save my ink:

"On the whole tour, particularly at the Descent, we undergo an optical illusion which often seems to be incredible. All the shrubs, fir trees, stables, houses, etc., seem to be bent in a slanting direction, as by an immense pressure of air. They are all standing awry, so much awry that the chalets and cottages of the peasants seem to be tumbling down. It is the consequence of the steep inclination of the line. Those who are seated in the carriage do not observe that they are doing down a declivity of twenty to twenty-five degrees (their seats being adapted to this course of proceeding and being bent down at their backs). They mistake their carriage and its horizontal lines for a proper measure of the normal plain, and therefore all the objects outside which really are in a horizontal position must show a disproportion of twenty to twenty-five degrees declivity, in regard to the mountain."

By the time one reaches Kaltbad, he has acquired confidence in the railway, and he now ceases to try to ease the locomotive by holding back. Thenceforth he smokes his pipe in serenity, and gazes out upon the magnificent picture below and about him with unfettered enjoyment. There is nothing to interrupt the view or the breeze; it is like inspecting the world on the wing. However--to be exact--there is one place where the serenity lapses for a while; this is while one is crossing the Schnurrtobel Bridge, a frail structure which swings its gossamer frame down through the dizzy air, over a gorge, like a vagrant spider-strand.

One has no difficulty in remembering his sins while the train is creeping down this bridge; and he repents of them, too; though he sees, when he gets to Vitznau, that he need not have done it, the bridge was perfectly safe.

So ends the eventual trip which we made to the Rigi-Kulm to see an Alpine sunrise.

CHAPTER XXX [Harris Climbs Mountains for Me]

An hour's sail brought us to Lucerne again. I judged it best to go to bed and rest several days, for I knew that the man who undertakes to make the tour of Europe on foot must take care of himself.

Thinking over my plans, as mapped out, I perceived that they did not take in the Furka Pass, the Rhone Glacier, the Finsteraarhorn, the Wetterhorn, etc. I immediately examined the guide-book to see if these were important, and found they were; in fact, a pedestrian tour of Europe could not be complete without them. Of course that decided me at once to see them, for I never allow myself to do things by halves, or in a slurring, slipshod way.

I called in my agent and instructed him to go without delay and make a careful examination of these noted places, on foot, and bring me back a written report of the result, for insertion in my book. I instructed him to go to Hospenthal as quickly as possible, and make his grand start from there; to extend his foot expedition as far as the Giesbach fall, and return to me from thence by diligence or mule. I told him to take the courier with him.

He objected to the courier, and with some show of reason, since he was about to venture upon new and untried ground; but I thought he might as well learn how to take care of the courier now as later, therefore I enforced my point. I said that the trouble, delay, and inconvenience of traveling with a courier were balanced by the deep respect which a courier's presence commands, and I must insist that as much style be thrown into my journeys as possible.

So the two assumed complete mountaineering costumes and departed. A week later they returned, pretty well used up, and my agent handed me the following

Official Report


About seven o'clock in the morning, with perfectly fine weather, we started from Hospenthal, and arrived at the MAISON on the Furka in a little under QUATRE hours. The want of variety in the scenery from Hospenthal made the KAHKAHPONEEKA wearisome; but let none be discouraged; no one can fail to be completely R'ECOMPENS'EE for his fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch of the Oberland, the tremendous Finsteraarhorn.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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