Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sits solitary at the foot of the vapour shall be properly mixed, to glacier of the Rhone.

be inhaled by those who need it. And so," he concluded, “I So a man might live in London think we may consider ourselves within three minutes' walk of the to have already accomplished the benefits of Chamouni, all of which object of our journey."

would then be available without “One of its objects," said Tony. the bother and risk of a journey." “I had only one,"

returned Tony protested that the two Ichabod ; “and what I say now is last were part of the prescripthis, why waste our money and tion. Exercise, excitement, change, time in carrying coals to New- amusement, were necessary things, castle? as

we may find a better but that could not always so well market for our capital elsewhere.” be had, or would not be “ So you propose

willingly taken, at home. “To decide on taking the shortest Ichabod laughed such a round, which from here, I imagine, fession of weakness to scorn of would be by Lucerne, and thence course. He could prove that home direct. I suppose you have there would always be room in no objection."

the most crowded town hive for Tony said he had a dozen of the exercise, even should it become strongest. Having come so far, necessary to set up public tread. were they to turn their backs on mills, to economise space. People the Alps without having done who refused to accustom them. much more than make their bow selves to such arrangementsto them? So much, too, might be arrangements made necessary by seen by going just a little farther. the state of society in their time He surprised Ichabod by his —must just suffer the penalty of obstinacy, and forced him at not being adapted to the condi. last to agree

to a compromise. tions under which they had to They would go down the Rhone live, and succumb in the battle of valley, visit Zermatt on the way, life accordingly. and then descend to Lausanne and Ichabod had to suffer a good Geneva, whence Tony promised to deal at Tony's hands during the set his face towards home without next day or two. a murmur.

traveller was Alp intoxicated, and “I always wonder," observed kept ringing the changes on every Ichabod, as they started on their note of admiration. Partly, it drive along the valley the next must be owned, for the malicious morning, "how it is that, in spite pleasure of tormenting his comof the progress of science, the panion, who saw nothing in the thousand ways in which discoveries Oberland or the Valais but the are being turned to practical ac- pump of Europe, and

a very count, nobody should as yet have clumsy one, as pumps go. started a company for supplying Ichabod quite dreaded the appure mountain air to the inhabi- proach to the Matterhorn. He tants of London. Now we can knew what a fertile source of analyse chemically and know all enthusiastic nonsense it is--an the different parts of the atmo- absolute nuisance when boys, sphere and their proportions. I

young ladies, and old men are of look forward to some coming the party. enormous institution of mountain They came in sight of it sud. air baths, where the oxygen, nitro- denly, as they were approaching gen, carbon, ozone, and aqueous Zermatt. Fresh snow had fallen

The young

[ocr errors]

names

But you

the night before, and the Colossus You won't have lost this sloppy rose before them in the double day, Tony,” he added, quizzically, splendour of majesty of form and “if it helps to open your eyes to dazzling whiteness.

the hollowness of what people call But Tony, whether because he the religion of nature, still ramwas tired or because he could find

pant, I am sorry to say, in the no suitable word in his dictionary, human mind.” kept silence; and even when his irre- Rampant in mine I confess," verence, Ichabod, whose dictionary returned Tony, “and I cannot was equal to every emergency, com- spare it either yet—the goddess pared the mountain to a big has her teaching as well as the cockatoo, “Very like a whale laboratory.” was all the reply he provoked.

“Yes, but of a morality that In a few minutes more they clashes a little with ours. For were at the hotel at Zermatt, and instance, you know how the swalTony was reading over the list of lows, when about to migrate, visitors. Here, among the arrivals pierce the weaker fry with their of yesterday, he found what he bills, and make a general massacre had looked for in every traveller's of their own kith and kin.” book since they left Handeck, the “ Those cursed swallows !” mutof Mr. Lee and his

tered Tony.

“Oh, yes, I know; daughter.

how they are always brought in They were at the opposition inn, when a happy theory has to be of course. Still Zermatt is so knocked on the head. small and imprisoned that, once know how the ancient heroes, within its

limits,

when they lost a battle, used to friends can hardly miss each other. command their own

soldiers to The next day, however, it rained, kill them, sooner than fall by the and so peremptorily that for a hands of their enemies. You tourist there was nothing to do would scarcely call this ferocity on but to sit helplessly at the window, the part of the soldiers.” fret, storm, or offer up prayers for

the swallows, Tony ? fine weather, according to the What on earth are you talking dictates of his organism. Tony

Tony about?” was consumed with a dire im- “Don't be impatient. I'm coming patience that made the confine- back to them. Of course you ment a trial indeed.

“ See now,"

know also, Ichabod, that flights of said

Ichabod, philosophically, migratory birds are often followed “how inconvenient is your idea of by vultures and kites, that prey nature compared to mine. Make the laggers. Suppose our her a goddess, and she is always swallow chooses rather to die by disgracing herself-make her a the beak of his friend than to laboratory only, and she cannot make a supper for his foe.” disappoint you. Who could wor- Acquitting the swallow-say it ship a fog or a grey drizzle like is a necessary law of nature that this? Yet they are nature just as the strong should prey on the much as sunshine. But her laws weak. Is it from such laws that and her workings are always on can learn our ethics, justice view, and sometimes from the and humanity, etcetera ?” most detestable phenomena we “Yes," said Tony audaciously, may learn the most valuable, if “it's the old song of the lower not quite pleasant-facts with re- principle yielding to the higher. gard to man and the universe. Even if I'm to be the one to

narrow

even

66 But

on

we

and age.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

knock under, I wouldn't have the for I love a storm, murderous law reversed for me. It is good.” tastes, and all; the danger doubles

“What is bad?” said Ichabod, the pleasure of the sight." sententiously, “and what is good ?

This was

flat rebellion. Was Terms exchangeable in every place the scholar turning restive in good

Duty is an arbitrary earnest ? Or perhaps it might be thing; different, nay, opposite, in the electricity in the atmosphere. different creeds. The virtue of one Ichabod trusted to a good soaking nation is the accursed thing to for bringing him shortly to his another."

senses, and returned to read over " What is happiness ?” said the old newspapers for the tenth Tony, mimicking him, “and what time that day. is misery? Terms exchangeable Tony took himself out of doors, in every place and age. Pleasure strolling beyond the village, fol. is an arbitrary thing; its con- lowing the bank of the swollen ditions different, opposite even, stream. Crossing it presently he to different people. If you doubt struck up a mountain path skirting it, I refer you to my note book. a pine wood in the direction of the Yet that happiness and misery are Görner glacier. realities even you wouldn't deny.” Most glaciers that have come “Oh, but I would.”

down to look at us instead of “Then you are going to write a daring us to beard them in their book about something that doesn't lair on high are exceedingly disexist. However, I only want you appointing, for they reach us little to admit as much general reality better than a mass of congealed for virtue and vice as for pleasure mud with a soiled and slimy face. and pain, and I'm content.”

The Görner is a grand exception, “I can't do that, but I'll tell a clear, frozen, petrified cataract, you why.”

with transparent tints of unsur“To-morrow, to-morrow," said passable beauty, all sapphire and Tony, with an instinctive gesture aqua-marine. in self-defence of his hands to his But the storm was still hanging ears and rising hastily. “For the about the hills. Ichabod's a present I think I'll take a little true prophet,” said Tony, grimly, walk. It's clearing up, do you

" as usual. Already I feel it

coming down without the smallest " It will rain again in half an compunction for me, my good hour."

clothes, delicate constitution, and Oh, nonsense. The sun's

exposed situation on the brow of a brilliant. Look! Exeunt clouds hill. Oh, unoffending youth that and enter the Matterhorn!”

I am, what have I done to be "This brightness is treacherous." wetted to the skin, perhaps be

“Oh yes, we know that,” said colded to death by the mysterious Tony, turning round little workings of a meteorological prodesperate, like an antelope at bay. vidence ?" “ The weather's as fickle and false Luckily for him there was as a thief or a woman; the stream little châlet close at band, a winter thinks nothing of drowning, or the den for cattle, rude in its work. hail of stunning, or the lightning of manship as a Bushman's hut, but burning you to a cinder; all acts solid and

Tony crept which, if committed by men, we inside. It was dark and rough, should call frightful enormities. with no opening except the door. But my ethics are out of order, But there was room to stand up

opaque.

see?"

66

a

[ocr errors]

at no very

It died away

to."

right, and the straw was clean, so off the petty element that will Tony gladly accepted the refuge, cling to artificial conditions of life which he shared with three Murillo- in large towns at the highest pitch like shepherd boys, and who kept of culture and civilisation. their respectful distance, staring “ Take care,” cried Tony, as and grinning at him as though he a blinding flash of lightning fell were a waxwork.

eat distance. Presently came a rustling, a “Let me be rash for once," she quick footstep outside, and enter, entreated wilfully; "the pleasure brusquely, another refugee.

is worth the risk if there is any. “Ianthe!”

Look how the sun still clings to Tony !

the glacier.” Of course they did not venture

The storm had the Christian names aloud. But now burst with violence; a wild from the very first they had never gale came tearing down from once thought of each other as Miss the hills, making havoc among the Lee and Mr. Sebright.

pines that crashed in the wood, This second apparition was too felling each other. much for the Murillo peasant boys. “I wonder now who understands Their eyes grew as round as saucers nature," said Ianthe, involuntarily, as they gaped stupidly at the girl, as if thinking aloud, “among all whose beauty struck even them her numerous professors." with a dim wonder and sense of My friend Ichabod pretends adiniration. “ We met; 'twas in a manger,"

“Your friend Ichabod is a Philissaid Tony, laughing, as they shook tine of the Philistines," she replied hands. Ianthe laughed too, and promptly ; " but the whole host of allowed him to relieve her of her them could never win the day with wet cloak.

me, here." I've been playing hide and “It is grand-tremendous, in seek with the storm, said she, fact,” said Tony, as the hail came “till it caught me. My father pelting down, making them both told me it was coming.”

shiver; “but I believe that even “ And Ichabod told me,” said this is not the scenery of all others Tony. “I pretended not to think that most appeals to me.” so, but secretly hoped he was right. “ Have you ever been in Italy ?” Ah, come here and look."

she asked suddenly, turning to him. She stood in the doorway, which “I have—" They smiled. The commanded a fine view of the rest was understood. forest and glacier.

“ Still I like to come here," she “I like this,” said she—“Can persisted, “and I always should ; you not see the wind swooping I think it acts like a kind of moral down from the Riffel? How mad tonic. It is like reading a page of the firs will be when it catches ancient history, stories of the them Look there !” and the world when it was younger, simpler, lightning flashed in the wood. and more straightforward than It was Jupiter's holiday on the

now.” mountain. Only the poor shadows “ And savage,” put in Tony, and echoes of it reached the inn in laughing. the valley. Ianthe was enjoying “Yes-savage-but fine too, and it thoroughly. It is good, some- game for great things. Modern times, to see nature on a wild, rude, society has set up so many hundred and grand scale-helps us to shake breakwaters, to kill one force by

66

[ocr errors]

on

a

been away

[ocr errors]

66

you.”

another. One falls back upon the wisdom to throw at Ichabod's head, Alps, as on the legends of Greek next time he croaks to me," said heroes and old paladins, just to Tony, rubbing his hands. recollect what strength is.”

“Do you know, I almost hate The Alps were becoming 80 that companion of yours." boisterous now that even Ianthe “Oh yes, I know.

I suppose consented to retreat into the

you

and he are natural enemies; interior of the châlet. She and you always strike me as such. Tony seated themselves

But surely you take his extravawooden trough, the little urchins gances too seriously." still looking on intently, as at a “And you too lightly,” she said. show.

“Perhaps 'I am wrong; I cannot Have you

from laugh at them. Whatever they England long ?” she asked, pre- seem in themselves, they are not sently.

ludicrous in their effects, someOnly ten days.

I saw you

times." pass, do you know, last Tuesday, Well, I like Ichabod, I conat Handeck."

fess," said Tony. “At Handeck ? How was that? “More than that, he seems to I saw nobody.”

have a kind of fascination for "I was under the trees somewhere; ruminating over the water- “ "Perhaps - he is so sharpfall. I shall not forget it,” he sighted, uncompromising-not to added slowly, “nor how you broke

be tossed about or worked upon up a train of rather black specu

like other men.” lations."

Then you like him not because “Why, what melancholy could his heart is in good tune, but beyou possibly extract from that cause it is dumb." cascade ?

“I like him because he is a Tony replied with a little sketch of friend from whom you will always his mood, as flippant as he could hear the truth, however unpleasant make it. But Ianthe, as though she it happens to be.” had seen the original even through “Nay,” said Ianthe, you mean the caricature, had suddenly become you will only hear it from him serious, and half saddened by when

when it happens to be her thought. “If I don't agree, it's pleasant.” not because I don't sympathise," she "Exactly, and therefore--" returned. “How to make life bear- “ Are you going to say it is able is a terrible question enough to

always so ?” have to ask one's self, but then it He was, but stopped short. For must be answered. Some people he simply could not look Ianthe in live for their work, shut their eyes the face and say that all facts and and their ears to all the rest; but existences might admit of improvethat's not enough, as they find. ment. And some lay themselves out for The storm had ceased. Colour enjoyment; but that's not enough. and warmth were returning to the And some, while they have chosen landscape ; sky, stream, and mounan object worth working for, have tain glittering with every conyet kept and prized their taste for ceivable shade of green and blue. such pleasures as lie by the way. Ichabod, sick of the sight of water These, only these, live, in my sense pouring forth from a wooden spout, of the word.”

the sole possible object of contem“There's a piece of practical plation from the low windows of

a

un

[ocr errors]

a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »