Skip to main content

Full text of "Tales and traditions of Switzerland"

See other formats


TALES AND TRADITIONS 

OF 

SWITZERLAND. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2014 



https://archive.org/details/talestraditionsoOOwest 



TALES and TRADITIONS 

OF 

SWITZERLAND. 



WILLIAM WESTALL, 

AUTHOR OF "TALES AND TRADITIONS OF SAXONY," 6 6 THE OLD 
FACTORY," " LARRY LOHENGRIN," ETC. 



bonbon : 

TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE ST., STRAND. 
1882. 

[All rights reserved.] 



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS, 
CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS. 



CONTENTS. 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 

PACE 

CHAP. I. . 3 

„ II 14 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 

CHAP. I. . -27 
» II 38 

„ ni 45 

» »v 54 

860294 



vi 



CONTENTS. 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 

PAGE 

CHAP. I.— SUNNY MEMORIES .... 73 

„ II— DIVIDED LIVES 87 

„ III. — THE RISING STORM . IOI 

„ IV.— THE BATTLE AND THE VICTIMS . 112 
„ V. — AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS . .122 
„ VI— RECONCILIATION . . . . 130 

THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER . . .137 

THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL . . 163 

THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX . . 187 
POTENTATE AND PARSON. 

CHAP. I.— THE LENKERHORN DYNASTY . . 215 
» II. — THE NEW PASTOR . . . .225 
„ III.— THE AMMAN AND HIS COUNCILLORS 232 
„ IV. — A RARE FLOWER .... 239 

» V. — VICTORY AND DEFEAT . . . 262 



CONTENTS. vii 
LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 

PAGE 

CHAP. 1 275 

„ H 285 

>j HI. . 301 

» iv. 312 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



CHAPTER I. 

A thousand years ago (more or less) there lived 
in the hill country, not far from the town now 
known as Freiburg in the Breisgau, a poor 
charcoal-burner. Though he toiled hard from 
early morn to dewy eve, it was all he could do 
to keep body and soul together. Being of an 
aspiring turn of mind, this charcoal-burner was 
bitterly discontented with his lot ; and when he 
looked down into the valley and saw the lordly 
castles that crowned every eminence, and the 
turrets of more than one palatial religious house, 
he cursed the cruel fate that had made him a 
hewer of wood, instead of a powerful baron or a 
wealthy abbot. Often, after his day's work was 
done, would he throw himself, half-tired to death, 

B 2 



4 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



on his rude bed of leaves, and ponder deeply on 
the mysterious dispensation which makes of one 
man a pauper and another a prince. 

" Do we not all come into the world naked ? " 
he thought. "Are we not born equal? Is not 
one man as good as another? What have those 
fellows down there done that they should be 
clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare 
sumptuously every day, while I am forced to live 
up here all alone like a mountain cat, feed on 
bacon and black bread, and sleep on a bed of 
leaves in a leaky old hut ? I am as good as any 
of them — ay, better; for my body is stouter, my 
limbs are bigger and stronger than theirs. Not 
one of them that I have seen yet — even the burly 
Otto von Riesenberg — that I could not brain with 
my staff — in spite of their long swords and those 
iron pots they put on their stupid heads." 

As the poor charcoal-burner's reflections always 
terminated in sleep, the solution of the problem was 
indefinitely deferred. 

At length an event occurred which gave an 
entirely new turn to his thoughts, and altered the 
whole course of his life. In order to convert the 
wood he cut, during the day, into charcoal, he 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



5 



covered it over with clay, set it on fire, and left the 
heap to smoulder all night. One morning, the 
most memorable of his life, when he went to his 
furnace, as usual, and removed the charcoal, he 
saw, lying on the floor, a great bar of pure silver, 
still hot as if it had just been smelted. He uttered 
a shout of joy, and after further testifying his 
pleasure by a vigorous dance round his furnace, 
he picked up the precious find, tied it up in an old 
clout, and hid it carefully away in a corner of his 
hut. The next morning he found that his furnace 
had produced another ingot, and as the supply 
went on without intermission, he had soon a very 
respectable pile, which, in the absence of a lock-up 
cupboard or a strong room, he concealed under a 
heap of leaves and branches. 

About this time the charcoal-burner, no longer 
poor, chanced to make a journey to the plain, 
where he heard that the once-powerful king of a 
neighbouring country, driven from his throne by a 
revolution, and now dwelling in a humble cottage 
hard by, had issued a proclamation offering the 
hand of his daughter and a principality to whom- 
soever should advance him enough money to equip 
an army and recover his throne. 



6 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" A princess and a principality ! " said the 
charcoal-burner to himself. "Exactly what I 
want. The arrangement will suit me to a T. 
To-morrow I will wait on his ex-majesty and 
make him a tender of my assistance." 

So next morning the charcoal-burner, after 
donning his Sunday best (which was not, however, 
much better than his week-day worst), and washing 
his face (a thing that, as a rule, he did only on 
Sundays, but this was a special occasion), he 
shouldered his sack of silver, and set out for the 
plain. The sack having been used for carrying 
charcoal, was necessarily very dirty, and the day 
being warm, and the charcoal-burner not posses- 
sing a pocket-handkerchief, he was forced to use 
his hands, blackened by contact with the sack, to 
stroke the perspiration from his brow (varied by 
an occasional application of his coat-sleeve), so that 
when he arrived at the royal abode his appearance 
was, perhaps, not quite as courtly as he supposed. 

The door was opened by a stout old gentle- 
man, who had formerly been the monarch's prime 
minister. 

" What do you want ? " he asked, rudely and 
suspiciously. 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



7 



" I want to see the king." 
" What is your business ? " 
" That is my business." 

And without further parley the charcoal-burner 
pushed the old gentleman on one side and stalked 
into the house. 

He found the king sitting on a three-legged 
stool. 

" What do you want ? " asked his majesty, 
using just the same words as his prime minister 
had done. 

"I want to help you to win back your kingdom, 
on the conditions set forth in your proclama- 
tion." 

" You!" exclaimed the astonished monarch. 
" You ! Why, you are only a common man. You 
cannot help me to my kingdom." 

" Wait till you have seen my credentials," said 
the charcoal-burner, at the same time pouring the 
glittering contents of his sack at the king's feet. 
" What do you think of that now ? And there's 
more where that comes from." 

" God bless me ! You must be Croesus come 
to life again. Where have you got all this money ? 
Who are you ? H 



8 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"A king's son-in-law and a duke, if your 
majesty is a true man." 

" I am a true man, my lord duke ; and, as you 
will find, as good as my word. Come hither, 
Iona, my dear." 

Whereupon a beautiful girl of seventeen 
entered the room ; and she was so graceful, and 
so splendidly dressed withal, that the poor char- 
coal burner felt quite ashamed of his rough garb 
and dirty face. 

"Behold in this gentleman your future husband, 
Iona," said the king. 

The princess bowed, and put her lily-white 
hand into the charcoal-burner's horny fist. 

"Circumstances, over which he has no con- 
trol," continued the monarch, tc have prevented 
him from appearing in apparel more befitting the 
occasion ; but, as this pile of silver which he has 
just poured at my feet testifies, he is rich, and 
when we have recovered our rights, as, thanks 
to his help, we speedily shall, your husband, my 
child, will be one of the greatest men in the 
land." 

His majesty proved a true prophet. He suc- 
ceeded in his enterprise, and the charcoal-burner 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



9 



was created Duke of Zaehringen and Carinthia, 
and made ruler over all the region round about. 
He developed high qualities as an administrator, 
and showed himself fully worthy of the king's 
confidence and kindness. He built himself a 
magnificent castle at Zaehringen, a place from 
which he derived his principal title, and became 
celebrated, far and wide, as Berthold the Bearded. 
But, strangely enough, all this property did not 
bring him content ; and there were times when he 
wished that he had remained a simple charcoal- 
burner in the same forests of the Breisgau, where 
he now hunted the wild-boar and the red-deer, 
with a lordly following of knights and retainers. 
The Princess Iona died a few years after their mar- 
riage, and for his second wife Berthold took a noble 
lady, with an immense fortune and a bad temper. 
He had a large family, and his sons were not 
always obedient, nor his daughters always loving. 
His feudatories were rebellious, his thralls dis- 
contented, and he had frequent disputes with his 
suzerain — the king who succeeded the monarch 
whom he had helped to win back his kingdom. 
Berthold's troubles preyed on his mind, He grew 
gloomy and morose, gave way to ungovernable 



io TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



fits of rage, and led his servitors such a terrible 
life, that, had he not paid them extraordinary- 
wages, they would have struck work in a body 
and left him to serve himself. 

One day, when the duke happened to be in a 
particularly bad humour, his major-domo waited 
upon him, as was his custom, to inquire what it 
would please his serene highness to have for 
dinner. 

" Dinner, dinner," exclaimed the duke savagely, 
" the devil take the dinner ! " 

" Yes, your highness," answered the major- 
domo gravely ; " but it must first be made. What 
would it please your highness to order ? " 

" Bring me," said Berthold, with a snarl — 
"bring me a roast baby." 

" Yes, your highness," replied the servant ; 
and as he silently withdrew, the lord of Zaeh- 
ringen breathed a sigh and sank into deep 
thought. 

Two hours later he was roused from his reverie 
by the entrance of the major-domo, who ushered 
in two waiters carrying between them an enormous 
dish. 

Horror of horrors ! On the dish lay, done to a 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



ii 



turn and beautifully browned, the trussed-up body 
of a six-months-old baby. 

" What is that ? " roared Berthold the Bearded, 
rising from his chair, his eyes aflame, and his red 
beard bristling with rage. "What, in the name 
of all the fiends, have you got there ? " 

"The roast baby you ordered for dinner, my 
lord duke." 

" You have never dared — you don't mean to 
tell me, varlets, that you have killed and cooked a 
poor little baby ; that you took my random words 
seriously ? By the piper that played before Moses, 
by the grave of my mother and the bones of my 
father, I'll gibbet every man jack of you as high 
as Haman ! " 

" You surely would not be so unjust, my lord 
duke," answered the major-domo, without the 
slightest sign of discomposure. "We have only 
obeyed your orders, and you always visit dis- 
obedience with your severest displeasure. We 
dared not do otherwise." 

" It is true, it is true," exclaimed Berthold, 
sinking back into his chair ; " wretched man that 
I am ! You have only done your duty. I am 
rightly served. Take the unlucky little wretch 



12 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



away, and see that it has christian burial. I must 
try to make what poor amends to the parents 
I can." 

" They want no amends, my lord duke." 
" How?" 

" Cook bought it from the mother — one of the 
thralls. She seemed glad to get rid of it, your 
serene highness." 

" Did she know for what purpose it was 
intended?" 

" She did, my lord duke." 

" Good heavens ! " gasped the duke, " what 
is the world coming to ? " 

From that moment Berthold knew not a 
moment's peace. If he had eaten it, the baby 
could not have lain heavier on his soul. He 
made pilgrimages, performed penances, and, in 
hope of purging his soul and appeasing the wrath 
of Heaven, he built the famous town of Freiburg 
in the Breisgau, and set in the midst of it a fine 
church. He also built and endowed two convents 
in the Black Forest, said many prayers, received 
frequent absolutions, and burnt thousands of 
candles at the shrines of hundreds of saints. But 
all was in vain: he failed to regain his peace 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



of conscience ; and Berthold the Bearded, Lord 
of Zaehringen and Carinthia, died, bitterly re- 
gretting that he had been tempted to exchange 
his charcoal-burning and his quiet life in the 
woods for the coronet of a duke and the hand 
of a princess. 



CHAPTER II. 



Shadowy though the story of Berthold the 
Bearded undoubtedly is, there are acute critics 
who see in it a fable based upon truth. They 
think that the great house which he, or some- 
body else, founded owed its rise to successful 
mining operations, of which fact the legend of 
the silver ingot is no more than the poetic and 
slightly exaggerated expression. Be that as it 
may, Berthold's successors were historic and 
sufficiently tangible personages. Their sway ex- 
tended over the region of the Black Forest, and 
much of the country now known as Switzerland 
owned their rule. 

Berthold II. married Agnes of Rheinfelden, 
* and died in nil ; Berthold III. married Sophia 
of Bavaria, and died in 1123; Berthold V. sur- 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



named the " Rich/' last and greatest of the Dukes 
of Zaehringen, inherited from his father, Ber- 
thold IV., the regency of Burgundy east of the 
Jura. This heritage was a troublesome one ; it 
embittered his life and hastened his death. The 
Burgundian nobles, always turbulent and re- 
bellious, resisted the reforms by which he sought 
to ameliorate the lot of his lowlier subjects, and 
fiercely resented the favour which he showed to 
the towns and traders, who greatly aided him in 
his efforts to check the overweening arrogance of 
his feudatories. When they openly rebelled he 
met them in the field, and, after several encounters, 
defeated them in a pitched battle. To consolidate 
his victory, and the better to hold his own in 
any future contests that might arise, he fortified 
Moudon and Yverdon (canton Vaud), and the 
castle of Burgdorf (canton Berne), which last he 
chose for a residence. But his greatest exploit 
in building was the building of the city of 
Berne. 

The first scene in a famous comedy, in twenty 
acts, written in 1609, by Michael S tetter, a senator 
of Berne, represents the duke as calling together 
his council in Burgdorf Castle, and making a 



1 6 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



speech to this effect : " An old proverb, handed 
down to us by our ancestors, has it that when 
riches and honours come in by one door, hatred 
and envy enter by another. My father, who 
ranked high among the European potentates, 
knew well the truth of this adage ; and I, who 
inherit from him the fine duchy of Burgundy 
and the beautiful lordship of Nydeck, I also, 
who wish no man ill, have incurred the hatred 
of my nobles. But God, in his goodness, has 
bestowed upon me great blessings. I have many 
faithful servants. I have never oppressed the 
poor. I detest tyranny and pride ; therefore, my 
friends, do these haughty nobles hate me. But 
I have the love of my people — have I not, Baron 
of Bubenberg ? " 

" The people look up to you as their protector 
and friend," answered the baron, who was one 
of the duke's most faithful ministers. 

After a long deliberation with his council, 
Berthold decides that the best means of keeping 
the nobles in order and protecting the people 
from their exactions, is to build a walled city 
in a central position, into which they may gather 
and live in peace. 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



17 



Then the first huntsman is sent for, a man 
of years and wisdom, who knows every stream, 
and hill, and forest in the country, and asked for 
his advice touching the site of the proposed city. 
In reply he makes a long speech, wherein, after 
protesting his devotion to the duke and his 
dynasty, and his sense of the honour conferred 
upon him in demanding his counsel, he argues that 
the most advantageous position for a great town 
is in the neighbourhood of his highness's hunting- 
tower of Nydeck, on the left bank of the Aar. 

The suggestion finding favour with the duke, 
he announces, amid the plaudits of his councillors, 
that on the following day there will be a grand 
hunt in the forest of Nydeck, and that the first 
beast killed shall give his name to the new 
city. 

Whereupon the Baron of Bubenberg opines 
that the name of a city being a matter of high 
moment, it is greatly to be desired that the 
first spoil of the chase may be some fine and 
noble animal. 

The first hunter answers that the forest 

abounds with all sorts of large game, particularly 

with red and fallow deer ; but that he and his 

c 



18 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



faithful piquenrs will use their utmost efforts to 
lay at the feet of his highness a lordly bear. 

In the olden times the river Aar, after leaving 
the lake of Thun and bathing the walls of the 
ancient church of Schertzlingen, flowed through 
the town of Thun, which, with its fortifications, 
defended the territories of Zaehringen from the 
seigneurs of the Oberland. With many bends 
the stream then traversed thick and sombre pine 
woods, in the midst whereof stood the great castle 
of Bubenberg. Next, as if flying affrighted from 
those wilds, it threw itself, spinning and swirling, 
into the valley of Matte, where there were several 
corn-mills belonging to the lord of Bubenberg. 
Farther on, the Aar forced its way through a 
narrow gorge, formed by oak-crowned hills, on 
one of which stood the duke's hunting-tower 
of Nydeck. A wooden bridge, defended by a 
bastion, crossed the Aar — hereabouts white with 
foam, and tossing tempestuously in its rock-strewn 
bed. 

This was the scene of the chase which should 
decide the name of the new city. 

Early in the morning the Duke of Zaehringen, 
attended by a train of gallant knights and a bevy 



I 

7 HE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



i9 



of fair ladies, crossed the wooden bridge and took 
his stand on a jutting rock, whence could be 
seen all the preliminary incidents of the hunt ; 
for it was intended to drive the quarry to near 
where Berthold stood, and kill him at the ducal 
feet. 

The duke had not long to wait. In less than 
an hour the notes of the huntsman's horn, the 
shouts of the piqueurs> and the baying of the 
hounds, proclaimed that one of the wild animals 
of the forest had been tracked to his lair. Then 
came a crackling of branches, a trampling of 
hoofs, a ringing cheer, and a mighty he-bear, with 
great gleaming teeth and lolling tongue, rushed 
out of the wood and ran at full speed towards 
the river. For a moment he hesitated, but hearing 
the cries behind him, he plunged into the seething 
water and struck out boldly for the other side. 
The duke and his companions, seeing this, gave 
their horses the rein and were just in time to 
turn the bear back as he rose from the river. 
The piqueurs and the hounds came up at the 
same time. All rushed pell-mell into the water. 
A terrible fight followed, and the Aar was dyed 

deep with bruin's blood, mingled with that of 

c 2 



20 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 

more than one of his foes, whom his terrible 
paws had laid low. But numbers were against 
him, and in a few minutes the carcase was 
dragged from the water and laid at the duke's 
feet. 

" It is a fine and powerful animal, gentlemen," 
said Berthold. " Baer " (bear, hence Berne) " shall 
be the name of our new city ; and it will one 
day be as powerful, and as much feared by its 
enemies, as that bear was feared by the other 
denizens of the forest. ,, 

On his return to the tower Berthold conferred 
with his councillors as to whom he should confide 
the execution of the great scheme on which they 
had unanimously resolved. Nobody was con- 
sidered so suitable as the Baron of Bubenberg, 
who had travelled in many lands and had great 
experience ; and to him accordingly was the task 
intrusted. 

Not long after this event a terrible misfor- 
tune befell the house of Zaehringen. The two 
sons of the duke died suddenly at Burgdorf 
of a mysterious malady which the leeches who 
were called in declared to be due to a subtle 
poison. According to tradition, the poisoning 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 21 



was contrived by some of Berthold's discontented 
nobles, in revenge for the severe measures he 
had taken against them. They were said to have 
effected their object through the instrumentality 
of his second wife, the Countess of Freiburg, 
whom one of the conspirators had persuaded to 
give the children poison, under the pretext that 
it was a harmless potion, and good for their 
health. The duke, in full belief that his wife 
was privy to the foul deed, had her put to 
death. He afterwards discovered how she had 
been deceived by the conspirators, and that she 
was no more guilty of the crime for which she 
had suffered than himself. The duke's life was 
thenceforth overshadowed by two great sorrows. 
He grieved for his sons and he grieved for his 
wife, and his grief was sharpened by the bitter 
consciousness, ever present in his soul, that he 
had imbrued his hands in innocent blood. Switzer- 
land, where these misfortunes had befallen him, 
became hateful to him, and he passed the 
remainder of his days at Freiburg in the 
Breisgau. Yet he always took a warm interest 
in the city of his creation, and when he grew old 
and feeble, and felt that his end was approaching, 



22 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



he placed Berne under the special protection of the 
Emperor Frederic II., who, at his instance, con- 
firmed and extended its liberties and privileges 
in the celebrated charter known as the Golden Bull. 

Among other things this instrument stipulated 
that Berne should never be separated from the 
empire ; that it should have two annual fairs ; 
that if a merchant were robbed during the fair, 
the emperor would punish the robber ; that the 
emperor would never appoint a landammann, a 
priest, or a schoolmaster, but confirm those whom 
the city might name to him ; that no burgher 
of Berne should ever be constrained to escort 
the emperor so far that he could not reach his 
own home before nightfall ; that, when the emperor 
visited Berne, the city should find lodgings for 
him, his suite, and his knights ; that wager of 
battle should be lawful; that the city should be 
empowered to coin money and judge offences ; 
that it should be free from taxes ; and that, finally, 
it should enjoy all the privileges possessed by 
the imperial city of Cologne. 

Whether because of this charter or not, Berne 
flourished exceedingly. As the old chronicler 
Anselm says : 



THE BUILDER OF BERNE. 



"The prophecies made about its greatness 
were accomplished. Little by little the Bear's 
claws grew strong and formidable ; his mouth 
filled with terrible teeth ; his eyes and ears 
became sharp and keen ; he left his den to 
devour his neighbours and make war on his 
enemies ; he conquered the eagle of Austria, and 
overthrew the bull of Burgundy." 

In modern times a far nobler and more worthy 
destiny than any of these has been reserved for 
the city of Bear — that of being the capital of 
the freest of European states. 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



CHAPTER I. 



St^SRN were the laws and strange the customs of 
the older Swiss cantons. Their criminal codes 
were of Draconian severity. Modern ideas of 
humanity, and of sympathy with the suffering, 
were slow in finding their way to the remote 
valleys and primitive communities of Helvetia ; 
while antiquated beliefs and dark superstitions 
lingered there long after they had been 
banished from Western Europe. Nowhere were 
supposed wizards and witches more relentlessly 
persecuted than in Switzerland. In their zeal to 
put down sorcery the cantons of the new faith 
vied with those of the old. Going no farther 
back than the close of the seventeenth century, 



28 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



we find that, in 1689, two women were beheaded, 
and one burnt alive, at Trogen, Appenzel, on a 
charge of witchcraft. In 1690, a poor creature 
of the name of Katherina Wetter was executed 
(her body being afterwards burnt) at the same 
place for a like offence. This woman was the 
last person put to death in Appenzel for sorcery ; 
for it was afterwards found out (how is not stated) 
that her admission of having had dealings with the 
evil one was due to a diseased imagination, and 
had no foundation in fact. In other words, she 
was a woman of weak intellect, as were many of 
these supposed witches. In 1666 an entire family 
— mother, son, and daughter — were burnt alive at 
Alpnach, in Unterwalden, a Catholic canton, for 
practising forbidden arts. In 1701 a woman was 
burnt alive at Warterklugen, in Zurich, and seven 
other persons were beheaded, in the same Pro- 
testant canton, for a similar offence. In 17 14, a 
supposed witch, a girl of sixteen, was burnt at 
the stake on the Heinzenberg, in Graubiinden. 
But perhaps the most frightful tragedy recorded 
in the dark annals of witch persecution is one 
that befell, less than one hundred and fifty years 
ago, in the town of Zug. There lived there at 



THE -SILVER CHAIN. 



29 



that time a weak-minded girl of seventeen, who, 
as is said, at the instigation of the Jesuits, 
denounced by name a number of her neighbours 
—old men of seventy, fathers and mothers of 
families, young men and maidens — as wizards, 
witches, and practisers of unholy rites. All whom 
she named were forthwith seized and put to the 
torture. A man and his daughter, who with- 
stood the ordeal, were acquitted and set at 
liberty. A woman of the name of Liedenfrau, 
from Thurgau, though equally steadfast, was less 
fortunate. Rack and thumbscrew failing to extort 
from her any admission of guilt, she was thrust 
into a dark underground dungeon, and left to 
perish of cold, hunger, and her terrible hurts. 
Thirteen other women and girls, after being simi- 
larly tormented, and constrained thereby to own 
themselves guilty of deeds they had never done, 
were either strangled or burnt at the stake. The 
tongue of one of them, before her execution, 
was torn out with fiery pincers ; another had her 
right hand hewn off, and her flesh burnt with 
red-hot irons. One of the victims was upwards 
of seventy. All this happened in the year of 
grace 1738, in the Catholic canton of Zug. But 



3° 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



to a Protestant community belongs the bad emi- 
nence of longest continuance in witch-harrying ; 
for the last execution for sorcery in Switzerland 
took place at Glarus, in 1782. 

It is generally supposed that the French re- 
volution of 1789 dealt the practice of judicial 
torture its death-blow, and that nowhere in 
Europe did it survive the opening of the present 
century. This is an error. A man was racked 
in Zug so lately as 1824 ; and for several years 
thereafter the thumbscrew was in common use in 
this canton albeit — if that makes any difference — 
as a punishment after conviction, not as a means 
of extorting confession before trial. In the 
archives of Obwalden appears an entry, in 1840, 
of a payment of thirty shillings to t^e execu- 
tioner for beating a prisoner (who had proved 
refractory under examination) with rods in the 
" torture-chamber." Even at so recent a date as 
1855 this method of enforcing admissions of guilt 
seems to have been still in vogue ; for in that 
year it is stated (in the public records of Obwalden) 
of a certain accused person that, " after being 
chastised with rods, the prisoner was cautioned that, 
if he did not answer more frankly, he w r ould be 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



3i 



led back to the torture-room and severely handled ; 
whereupon the examination was resumed." 

Communities that tolerated the torture of un- 
convicted, and therefore presumably innocent, 
persons, did not, as may well be supposed, err 
on the side of tenderness in their treatment of 
proved evildoers. With few exceptions the 
primitive cantons, until far into the second half 
of the nineteenth century, retained the penal 
codes of the thirteenth, almost in their original 
integrity. Many of the sentences set forth therein 
are of an obviously ecclesiastical origin. Hence 
the object of nearly all of them is much more 
punitive and expiatory than deterrent or pre- 
ventive. In 185 1, a woman, convicted of incen- 
diarism in Nidwalden, received this sentence : 
She was to stand on the Harterstein (stone of 
punishment, a sort of pillory) fifteen minutes, 
and, while the bells tolled a solemn peal, listen 
to the reading of her own sentence ; on a certain 
Sunday to be conducted to the church of Stans, 
and there compelled to kneel before the pulpit 
during the delivery of a sermon on the sin of 
fire-raising; to pass five years in prison. After 
the expiration of her imprisonment she was to 



32 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



go to church every holiday, attend morning and 
afternoon service every Sunday, and say her 
prayers in public every two months ; to be de- 
prived of all her privileges as a member of the 
commune ; to be placed under the supervision 
of the police and her friends — the latter being 
ordered to provide for her maintenance. The 
husband of this woman — at whose instance she 
committed the crime that brought upon her so 
many punishments — was condemned to eight 
years' imprisonment ; which does not seem to 
have been altogether to his liking, since he broke 
prison and fled to Berne. But, unfortunately for 
him, he fell into the hands of the police of that 
city, and was by them sent back to Nidwalden. 
There he was tried for contempt of his judges 
in presuming to escape, condemned to listen to 
the reading of his sentence, with the traditional 
bell-tolling accompaniment, and to stand fifteen 
minutes on the stone of punishment with a gag 
in his mouth ; after which he was relegated 
to his dungeon to undergo the remainder of his 
sentence. In the same year, a girl of the name 
of Katharina Berthold, charged with speaking evil 
of dignities — to wit, of the cantonal authorities — 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



33 



and u unseemly behaviour," was ordered to stand 
on the stone of punishment; to kneel in church 
while a discourse was preached on the enormity of 
her conduct ; to be imprisoned for four months in 
chains in her father's house ; for three years there- 
after to stay at home at nights ; and finally, when 
she went to church — and she was to go at least 
once every Sunday and holiday — to sit during 
the service on "the stool of repentance.'' A short 
time previously a man, convicted of manslaughter, 
was ordered, amongst other things, to visit on 
successive Sundays every parish church in the 
canton, and hear, on his marrow-bones, a long 
homily, prepared with special reference to himself 
and his misdeeds, which, so far at least as he 
was concerned, was aptly termed a " punishment 
sermon." 

A still more remarkable survival of ancient 
customs was wager of battle, which, until within a 
comparatively recent period, was the lawful and 
accepted way of settling suits for slander, in the 
canton of Appenzel-Innerrhoden. A man who 
considered himself to have been slandered had 
the right to challenge his defamer to single combat 
under the following conditions : The fight must be 

D 



34 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



with fists ; it must be fought under the open sky, 
never in a house ; several witnesses were to be 
present to see fair play ; the challenge to fight 
was to be in due form ; both men were to be 
willing ; the combatants were not to wear knuckle- 
dusters, or finger-rings, nor to givb foul blows 
(strike below the belt). The first fighter fairly 
floored was held to have lost the wager, where- 
upon the men were separated by the witnesses, 
and all adjourned to the nearest alehouse to drink 
" the cup of peace." If the man challenged felt 
himself physically unfit for the contest, he could 
crave the intervention of the landweibel (a local 
magistrate), whose good offices in these circum- 
stances generally succeeded in settling the matter 
in dispute, " without further trouble." 

In no part of Switzerland used the punishment 
of convicted offenders to be more severe, or the 
treatment of suspected evildoers more harsh, than 
in this same canton of Appenzel. The practice 
of torturing accused persons, or rather (as this 
term might be supposed to imply that they were 
thumbscrewed or racked) the infliction on them 
of bodily suffering to induce confession, was in 
vogue only a few years back ; nor did it, probably, 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



35 



fall into complete desuetude until 1874, when the 
Federal Constitution, that year adopted, placed a 
general interdict on corporal pains and penalties, 
as well as on the punishment of death. 

In the council-room of the old Rathhaus of 
Appenzel, there is, or was not long ago, an instru- 
ment locally known as the " bocksfutter." It con- 
sisted of a long bench, on which delinquents 
ordered to be punished with stripes, and prisoners 
who were obstinate about admitting their guilt, 
were wont to be placed, with legs and arms out- 
stretched, as if they were going to swim. But 
any attempt to move these members was prevented 
by enclosing them in iron clamps firmly fastened 
to the bench. This preliminary completed, the 
executioner was called in, and ordered to give 
the victim as many strokes with an " ochsenziemer," 
on the bare body, as the judges might think 
necessary to loosen his tongue or purge him of 
his offence. Another so-called " truth-finder " 
(Wahreitserforschungsmittel) was the u cage." The 
cage was a cell under the roof of the Rathhaus, 
constructed of solid beams of timber, windowless, 
and so small that a tall man could neither stand 
upright nor stretch his legs in it. He must either 

D 2 



36 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



cower on the floor, or lie in a constrained position 
on the little truckle-bed which occupied one side 
of his den. Professor Osenbriiggen of Zurich 
mentions, in his " Culturhistorische Bilder aus der 
Schweiz," that, when he went through the Appen- 
zeller Rathhaus, in 1862, he inquired of his con- 
ductor, a young woman — presumably the daughter 
of the housekeeper or gaoler — if confinement in the 
cage had not a powerful effect in constraining 
people to confess. "Ja," answered the maiden, 
with a matter-of-fact air ; " they do not generally 
hold out long, especially in winter." 

To understand the full import of this answer, 
it should be remembered that not only was the 
place unceiled, unwarmed, and unlighted, but that 
Appenzel is 2600 feet above sea-level, and that a 
north wind in these Alpine regions often brings 
with it cold of almost Siberian severity. A few 
days' solitary confinement in the cage in mid- 
winter was probably not less effective in taming 
rebellious spirits than thumbscrew or rack. To 
escape so terrible an infliction, many men would 
confess to a great deal, whether they were guilty 
or not. 

The abuse to which this method of "truth- 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



37 



finding " was liable, and the sternness with which 
punishments in Appenzel were wont to be enforced, 
arq illustrated in the following true story, which 
has suggested the present sketch and its title of 
"The Silver Chain." 



CHAPTER II. 

SOME thirty years ago — to be precise, in 1849 — 
there were living in the commune of Monten, 
canton Appenzel, two girls, who bore the names 
respectively of Maria Koch and Mathilde Weber. 

There is little distinction of rank in a primitive 
Swiss canton ; and, albeit the Kochs were poor 
and the Webers rich, they belonged both to the 
class of yeomen-farmers, and the maidens were 
fast friends and frequent companions. Anna 
Maria was the better-looking of the two. She 
had rosy cheeks, flaxen hair, a creamy skin, blue 
eyes, and, though under twenty, she was tall and 
well-built, and possessed the physical development 
of a woman of five-and-twenty. Mathilde, on the 
other hand, was rather short and slight, and some- 
what plain of feature, yet kind and amiable withal, 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



39 



a great favourite with her parents and beloved by 
her friends. She was envied too; for on high days 
and holidays, when she donned the gay folks' dress 
of Appenzel, she bore on her breast a bigger and 
finer silver chain than any maiden of her acquaint- 
ance could boast of. Maria Koch often looked 
wistfully at her friend's chain, for, in common with 
a few of the poorer girls of the valley, she lacked 
this token of wealth. A silver chain, moreover, 
was regarded not merely as an ornament ; it was 
supposed to act in some measure as a charm — to 
help its wearer to win a hochzeiter (sweetheart), 
and, when won, keep him faithful to his troth. 
In this respect, however, Mathilde Weber's silver 
chain had done her scant service. It had not 
brought her a single offer, while her friend was 
betrothed to a fine young fellow of the name of 
Conrad Oberwald, who had probably found in her 
rosy cheeks and bright-blue eyes more attractive 
metal than in Mathilde's darker orbs and gayer 
apparel. Maria was nevertheless haunted by a 
fear that, until she too possessed a breast-chain, 
her sweetheart's constancy would not be assured — 
that some richer, if less comely, rival might 
deprive her of his love. 



4 o 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



This was the state of things in the summer 
of 1849. 

On June the seventeenth of that year, a bevy 
of the fairest maidens of Gonten were gathered 
under the friendly shade of a leafy lime-tree in 
the outskirts of the village. All were attired in 
their " Sunday best," and the breasts of most of 
* them were brilliant with heavy silver chains ; for 
it was Corpus Christi day, a high Church festival, 
and a general holiday. 

" Who is going to church ? n said one of the 
girls. 

" I, and I, and I," answered several 
"I am waiting for Mathilde Weber," said Maria 
Koch. " We agreed to go together, and she said 
she would come this way round. We were to 
meet here by the lime-tree. ,, 

" If she does not come soon, you'll be late," 
observed another of her companions. "I am 
going to start now; it's too warm to walk 
fast." 

" I saw Mathilde Weber last night," put in 
Hilda Yodel, a bright-looking girl with mischievous 
black eyes, "behind Hans Ochsenbeins garden, 
and she zvas ivalking with somebody" 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



4i 



The last words were delivered with marked 
emphasis and a significant look at Maria 
Koch. 

" Who was it, who was it ? " asked half-a-dozen 
eager voices. 
" Guess." 

" How can we guess ? It was not surely " 

"Yes. It was Conrad Oberwald." 

" It's a lie," broke in Maria impetuously ; " and 
you know its a lie, Hilda Yodel ! " 

" Lie for you, Fraulein Koch ! Keep your 
lies to yourself! Do you suppose my eyesight 
is not better than your ignorance ? And why 
should not Conrad and Mathilde take a walk 
together behind Hans Ochsenbein's garden, or 
anywhere else, if it pleases them ? What is it to 
you, I should like to know ? " 

" Here is Mathilde coming," said another girl ; 
" we'll tell her what you say." 

"Tell her," answered Hilda defiantly; "she'll 
not deny it." 

When Mathilde neared the group, she was met 
with a chorus of questions. 

" Were you walking with Conrad Oberwald last 
night ? Hilda Yodel says she saw you with 



42 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Maria Koch's hochzeiter, Mathilde, close to Hans 
Ochsenbein's garden. Is it true ? " 

" Quite true/' said Mathilde simply. " He over- 
took me by Naegele's house, and we went the 
length of the garden together, talking about Maria 
here " (with a smile), " and he gave me a message 
for her, which I will tell her afterwards.'' 

" Is that all ? " remarked one of the elder girls 
indignantly. " It's just like you, Hilda Yodel, 
trying to stir up mischief, saying you saw Conrad 
and Maria courting." 

" That may have been your thought," answered 
Hilda pertly; "but it was not my saying. All 
that I said was that I had seen them walking 
together. How long have walking and courting 
been the same thing ? n 

" It is what you meant, anyhow." 

" That is what you say, Fraulein. But if it is 
all the same to you, I will be judged by my own 
words, and not by your opinion of my meaning. 
And now I am going to church. The bells will 
have done tolling in five minutes." 

On this the group broke up into twos and 
threes, and all moved off in the direction taken by 
Hilda Yodel. Mathilde and Maria went together. 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



43 



Since the latter had so fiercely given Hilda the lie, 
she was silent and preoccupied, and had borne no 
* part in the subsequent conversation. 

The chalet of the Webers was some distance 
from the village, and after service Maria excused 
herself from returning with her companions 
directly to Gonten, on the plea that she was 
going to set Mathilde on her way home. An hour 
or two later Maria reappeared in the village, and in 
the evening went to church a second time, where, 
meeting Hilda Yodel, she expressed to her great 
disappointment that Mathilde Weber had not 
come again to service, as she had promised. 

" She has perhaps other fish to fry/' said 
Hilda, with one of her meaning smiles. " Nobody 
can make me believe that, with such a breast-chain 
as that, she cannot have a hochzeiter if she likes. 
I should not wonder if she had one already. Now, 
has not she, Maria ? You know ; she tells you all 
her secrets, I am sure she does." 

" I know nothing either of Mathilde Weber or 
her concerns," answered the other angrily; and, 
refusing Hilda's proffered companionship, she 
walked off alone. 

" She has not forgotten this morning," muttered 



44 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Hilda. " She is jealous yet. Have those two 
been quarrelling, I wonder ? I should not be sur- 
prised. The best friends are often the first to fail 
out." 



CHAPTER III. 



The next day was one of great excitement in 
Gonten. Early in the morning it began to be 
rumoured that Mathilde Weber was missing, and 
before noon her father appeared in the village to 
beseech the help of his neighbours in looking for 
his daughter. She had gone to church, he said, 
the previous morning, and had not returned. He 
and several others had sought for her all night, but 
as yet without the slightest success ; and they 
feared some evil had befallen the girl. 

One of the first persons questioned was Maria 
Koch. She was the missing maiden's particular 
friend, and the last person seen in her company. 
The account she had to give was simple and 
straightforward. They had gone together, she 
said, after leaving church, to a point on the way 



46 TALES OF SWITZERLAND, 



to the Webers' house, which she described. 
There they had parted, and Maria, as her parents 
could testify, was at home to dinner not much 
later than the usual hour. 

Had Mathilde, she was asked, expressed any 
intention of going elsewhere than straight home ? 
None whatever, she answered ; and nobody could 
be more surprised than herself to hear that she 
had disappeared. 

This deepened rather than helped to clear up 
the mystery ; nor, in spite of the efforts that were 
made, was any light thrown upon it during the 
remainder of the week. The distracted parents, 
although they sought far and near, and had the 
aid of many friends and the cantonal police, 
found not the slightest clue to their daughter's fate. 

On the Sunday morning following, the young 
girls of the village bent on church-going, met, as 
usual, under the lime-tree. Their conversation ran 
naturally on the disappearance of Mathilde Weber. 
It was the all-absorbing subject of the day — people 
talked of little else. 

" Poor Mathilde ! " said one, " I hope she has 
come to no harm. If she had run away she 
would surely have been heard of before this time." 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



47 



u Why should she run away ? " demanded 
another. " Folks don't run away when they have 
done no wrong ; and nobody ever did say, or 
could say, aught against Mathilde. There was not 
a better girl in all Appenzel, let alone Gonten." 

"If anybody knows anything about her, it's 
Maria Koch," observed Hilda Yodel decisively. 
" She cannot miss knowing ; she was with her 
the last." 

" Here she comes ; let us ask her." 

"And, as sure as I am a sinner, with a new 
silver chain on her breast ! Where can she have 
got it ? Her father is too poor to buy her one — 
that everybody knows." 

The moment the object of these remarks came 
within earshot, she was warmly wished joy of her 
new acquisition, and eagerly asked how she had 
come by it. 

" Conrad Oberwald gave it me," she answered. 

" Well done, Conrad ! " exclaimed several voices. 
" He is a hochzeiter worth having ! I wish there 
were more like him." 

" I wish I had a chain like that," said Hilda 
Yodel, eyeing the ornament curiously, and testing 
its thickness with her finger and thumb. " There 



4 8 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



is not a finer in the commune. If poor Mathilde 
had not taken hers with her I should almost think 
you had borrowed it, Maria." 

" How could it be Mathildes ? " answered the 
other angrily, while her face turned from red to 
pale, and to red again. " Conrad gave it me, I tell' 
you, on Friday — no, yesternight. He always said 
he would give me one — like — like Mathildes — and 
this is it — and it is like Mathildes ; but that does 
not make it hers. It is mine, I tell you." 

"Well, I did not say it was not. There is 
nothing to get in a temper about, that I can see. 
But is it not time we were going to church ? Will 
you walk with me, Maria ? " 

"No; I am going with Gretchen Langbein," 
said Maria, with an air which plainly told that 
her wrath was far from being appeased. 

" Well, then, I shall go with Katherina 
Keinhosen. But just look here, Maria ; if I 
had been you, I don't think I should have 
chosen the first Sunday after my friend's dis- 
appearance, and maybe death — for there's many 
a one that thinks she has been foully murdered 
« — to sport a fine new silver chain, just as if 
you did not care. Come along, Katherina." 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



49 



And before Maria, who seemed choking with 
rage, could find words to answer, Hilda and her 
friend were on their way to church, whither the 
rest of the fair throng shortly followed them. 

While this was going on, a band of merry 
children were playing and gathering wild-flowers 
in a wood, about midway between Gonten and 
the chalet of the Webers. Through the wood 
ran a pellucid stream. Though it nowhere attained 
the dignity of a river, the stream formed here 
and there deep pools, sometimes calm and silent, 
but oftener swirling round with the impulse of 
the incoming water, and foam-crested. While 
hot in chase of a swarm of golden-hued butter- 
flies, the children came suddenly on one of these 
pools. Except on one side, it was hemmed in 
by rocks and overshadowed by trees. 

The butterflies fluttered over the brook, and 
as their pursuers could no longer follow them, 
they began a busy quest after flowers and wild 
strawberries. 

A bold boy of twelve lay down on the brink 
of the pool, and reached out his arm to pluck a 
forget-me-not. 

E 



5o TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Uttering a cry of horror, he bounded to his 
feet. 

" Gott im Himmel ! what is that ? " he shouted, 
as with outstretched arm he pointed to the seething 
water. 

His companions gathered round him, and, 
t embling with fear, looked down into the pool. 
They saw there an awesome sight — a draped 
human figure, with a ghastly face, wide-open 
eyes, and long dark hair, moving swiftly round 
in the swirling water. Round and round it went 
- — sometimes hidden from view by drooping trees 
and the projecting bank, but returning ever and 
anon to the middle of the pool, and gazing into 
the sunlight with lack-lustre orbs. 

One look was enough. The children — some 
of them too terrified to speak, others sobbing 
and wringing their hands — turned, with one accord, 
from the spot and fled. They ran out of the 
wood to the footpath which skirted it, and thence 
into the road leading to Gonten ; nor did they 
stop until they met a group of people coming 
from church, to whom one of them, more eager 
than the rest, announced that they had seen a 
ghost in the Wassertobel. 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



" No," said the sturdy little fellow who had 
first seen the body, " it's no ghost ; it's a woman's 
corpse. I could tell by her clothes and her long 
hair." 

"It's more likely a log of wood that has 
frightened you," said one of the men who heard 
the story. " They are often very queer-shaped, 
those logs of wood ; and when they are bobbing 
about in the water, with a lot of weeds on the 
top of them, they look for all the world like a 
christian/' 

" It's no log of wood either," answered the 
lad. " Logs of wood don't have petticoats and 
eyes and hair, do they? Do you think I don't 
know a woman from a log ? " 

" Let us go and see," said another. " It is 
not far to this Wassertobel. Perhaps the children 
are right after all." 

" We are right ; anyway I am right," put in the 
youth defiantly. "You see if I am not. Come 
along ! " 

Whereupon they all moved off together — some 
five or six men, and nearly as many girls and 
women — towards the Wassertobel. 

One glance sufficed to show that the children 

£ 2 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



were right. It was a body ; and when, with the 
help of a branch cut from a tree, it was drawn to 
the side, and lifted from the water, all present 
recognised the body as that of Mathilde 
Weber ! 

" Poor Mathilde ! 99 said one of the men pity- 
ingly. "Who could have thought that a girl like 
her, with kind parents, and everything to make 
life happy, would make away with herself?" 

"Are you sure that she did make away with 
herself?" asked Hilda Yodel. 

" You surely don't think that 99 

" That she has been murdered. Well, I hope 
she has not ; but what has become of her chain ? 
It was so firmly fastened that it cannot have been 
lost in the water. And look here " (pointing to 
the front of the drowned girl's dress), "it has been 
torn off. See how her gown is rent, and the 
gatherings burst. It has required a strong pull 
to do that/' 

" That is clear," said one of the men. " It is a 
case for the Statthalter. Let us take the poor 
thing home to her father and mother ; and after 
that some of us will go and tell the police." 

And then they made a bier of branches, and, 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



53 



reverently laying the poor girl's body thereon, 
carried it to her parents' house. 

A few hours later, a constable, accompanied by 
Herr Weber, waited on Maria Koch, and asked to 
see the silver chain which she had worn that 
morning at church. Weber at once identified it 
as that of his daughter. It was of peculiar make, 
bore certain marks, which he knew ; and he could, 
he said, swear to it anywhere. Asked how she 
came by the chain, Maria told the same story 
that she had told her companions early in the 
day — it had been given to her by her sweetheart, 
Conrad Oberwald. 

Before midnight Conrad Oberwald was arrested 
and lodged in the dungeon at Appenzel Rathhaus, 
on a charge of murder. 



CHAPTER IV. 



Very few people in Gonten or Appenzel felt p any 
doubt as to Conrad Oberwald's guilt. The few 
who, at the outset, had contended that Maria 
Koch was the real culprit could not resist the 
arguments of those who believed in her innocence 
and her sweetheart's guilt, supported as they were 
by several telling facts and considerations. How, 
it was asked, could Maria have thrown Mathilde 
into the Wassertobel ? It was some distance 
from the road to the footpath ; and though she 
was the stronger it was not conceivable that she 
could have dragged the other, in open day, 
through the wood, robbed her of her chain, 
and drowned her in the pool. A strong man 
might do such a deed — hardly a young girl. 
What more probable theory could be suggested 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



55 



than that Conrad, who was seen in Mathilde's 
company the night before, had waylaid her as 
she went home from church, after parting with 
Maria, persuaded her to walk with him in the 
wood, and then accomplished his purpose? It 
was also plausibly urged that the very fact of 
Maria wearing the chain the very first Sunday 
after the festival of Corpus Christi was alone a 
strong proof of her innocence. Had she herself 
either murdered Mathilde, or been in any way 
privy to the murder, she would hardly, being 
presumably of sane mind, have openly displayed 
her plunder within three or four days of its 
acquisition. 

This, at least, was the popular view of the 
case. It was also the view of the police and 
magistrates of the canton, who, on the grounds 
stated, assumed Conrad's guilt from the first. 
There is, however, a wide difference between 
assumption and proof, and the evidence against 
the prisoner, either direct or circumstantial, was 
weak in the extreme. It rested entirely on Maria 
Koch's assertion that he had given her the silver 
chain. But it was clearly impossible to convict 
a man on the testimony of a witness who, on a. 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



certainly not impossible (however improbable) sup- 
position, had the strongest imaginable motive to 
swear falsely — the saving of her own life. Unless, 
therefore, other evidence should be forthcoming, 
or Conrad could be induced to confess, the pro- 
secution was likely to fail. Hence the most 
strenuous efforts were made to extort a confes- 
sion ; for of further evidence there was little 
hope. The prisoner was examined and ques- 
tioned, time after time, by the Wochenrath 
(police-court), and always with the same result. 
He stubbornly refused to make any admission of 
guilt, saying roundly that if Maria Koch said he 
had given her Mathilde Weber's silver chain, or 
any other chain, she lied. He was then ordered 
to be flogged with an ordinary whip ; and this 
aid to confession failing of its intended effect, 
he was fastened to the bocksfutter, and cruelly 
flagellated with a piece of stiff ox-hide. Still 
Conrad protested his innocence. The court next 
ordered him to be bound hand and foot, and 
clapped in the cage under the roof of the 
Rathhaus. This was the hardest trial of all ; but 
nothing could shake the man's constancy. He 
remained as firm as ever in his resolution — not 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



57 



to tell the truth, the judge maintained — not to 
tell a lie, he said. This went on for several 
months — alternate floggings, bocksfutterings, and 
imprisonments (generally with hands and feet 
bound together) in the cage ; and one way 
and another, Conrad, a man of fine proportions 
and strong constitution, was reduced to a shadow 
of his former self. Yet nothing seemed able 
to subdue his spirit ; and the Wochenrath began 
to think they would have to let him go, after 
all, and that the murder of Mathilde Weber was 
one of the many crimes reserved for punishment 
in some other world than this. 

Meanwhile Maria Koch, if her looks did not 
belie her, was little less wretched than her lover. 
She waxed thin ; her cheeks lost their roses ; her 
eyes seemed to grow larger, and, when she was 
suddenly greeted, they took an almost painfully- 
startled expression. She shunned her old com- 
panions, and could never be persuaded to talk 
about Mathilde and Conrad. This occasioned no 
surprise. No wonder Maria Koch looked ill, 
people said. Her hochzeiter was shut up in a 
dungeon at Appenzel, on a charge of murdering 
her dearest friend; and she knew, as everybody 



58 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



else knew, that he would only leave it for the 
scaffold and a shameful death. How could she 
help feeling wretched ? No wonder was it either 
that she would never go near the Wassertobel ; 
that she would go a long way round to avoid it 
What could be more natural ? And there were 
other folks besides Maria Koch that would walk 
a mile or two out of their w T ay rather than pass 
the Wassertobel after nightfall. The place was 
uncanny. Had not Andreas Jud the goatherd, 
one night when it was light of moon, seen a 
white figure sitting on the edge of the pool ? 
and were there not others that had seen the same ? 

With very few exceptions indeed, the popular 
persuasion of Conrad's guilt was as strong in 
October as it had been in June. Chief among 
the dissidents were Hilda Yodel and Frau Flimm, 
wife of the landweibel (a sort of sheriff, and 
keeper of the Rathhaus). Hilda, who had closely 
watched Maria, both at the time of Mathilde's 
disappearance and since, had drawn conclusions 
decidedly unfavourable to that young woman's 
innocence of her friend's death. Frau Flimm, 
from her observation of Conrad, had arrived at 
precisely the same conclusion. 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



59 



Appenzel being a small canton its public 
officers have to fulfil divers functions ; and when 
— as often happened — the landweibel was away, 
his wife had to look after the prisoners in the 
Rathhaus. It thus came to pass that she was 
brought frequently in contact with Conrad. At 
first, like everybody else, she believed in his 
guilt ; and more than once, when she took him 
his food, she had exhorted him to confess. 

"Tell the truth like a man," she said. "You 
will have to tell it sooner or later, or they will 
find it out in some other way, and anything is 
better than suffering as you suffer. Why, you 
are always being either bocksfuttered or shut 
up in the cage. I'd liefer have my head chopped 
off at once, if I were you. Besides, if you 
confess they may let you off with a long term 
of imprisonment." 

To this suggestion Conrad simply replied that, 
being innocent of the crime imputed to him, he 
could not admit that he was guilty. In the 
end Frau Flimm believed him, and did all that 
lay in her power to keep up his spirits and render 
his imprisonment as tolerable as, in the circum- 
stances, was possible. Her conviction of Oberwald's 



6o 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



guiltlessness was confirmed by Maria Koch's 
manner, when she called at the Rathhaus to 
inquire about him, as she always did when she 
came to Appenzel. Most people looked on these 
visits as a proof of the girl's constancy and affec- 
tion ; but the Frau Landweibel and Hilda Yodel, 
who frequently communed with each other on the 
subject, held that the visits were a mere blind, kept 
up solely to sustain the belief in her innocence, 
and, incidentally, in her lover's guilt. 

As Frau Flimm pointed out to Hilda, it was 
a suspicious circumstance that, albeit Maria was 
so particular in inquiring after Conrad, she never 
cared to see him — had, indeed, several times 
refused to see him when the landweibel's wife 
had proposed to take her to his cell. Neither 
was her behaviour in other respects on these occa- 
sions that of one with conscience void of offence. 
Her visits were always of the shortest. She could 
never look Frau Flimm in the face ; and her whole 
bearing, besides showing that her self-imposed 
duty was extremely disagreeable to her, betokened 
a mind ill at ease. 

After long cogitation, and taking frequent 
counsel with Hilda Yodel — the only person who 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



61 



shared her belief in Oberwald's innocence — she 
resolved to try the experiment of surprising Maria 
into an admission of the truth the very next time 
she called to ask after her lover. 

A few days afterwards the girl, as Frau Flimm 
expected, came to the Rathhaus, and, in her usual 
hesitating manner, and with averted gaze, inquired 
" how Conrad was doing ? " 

" Badly, very badly," answered Frau Flimm, 
looking sternly at her questioner. " They had 
him on the bocksfutter again yesterday ; now he 
is in the cage up there in the dark — hands and feet 
roped together — and you know how cold it is. 
How the poor fellow shivered and moaned when 
I went to see him an hour since ! I think Conrad 
is like to die, Maria Koch ! " 

" To die, Frau Flimm ! " exclaimed the girl, 
trembling all over. " Conrad like to die ! " 

" Yes, die ! " thundered Frau Flimm. " You 
are going to kill him, as you killed Mathilde 
Weber ! " 

" I kill Mathilde ? No, no ! Do not say so — 
it is not true ! " muttered Maria, turning deadly 
pale, and leaning against the wall for support. 

" Yes, you ! Do you think I cannot see, that 



62 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



I cannot read your guilt in your face ? And is 
there not a God in heaven ? Does not He know ? 
Do you want to have another murder on your 
conscience ? Confess, girl, and save your soul ! 
You drowned poor Mathilde, and took her chain !" 

" I did, Frau Flimm ! God forgive me, I did ! " 
and the girl, sobbing convulsively and covering 
her face with her hands, sank down on the floor. 
"But oh/' starting up, and laying her hands on 
Frau Flimm's shoulders, " don't tell, don't say 
anything to the landweibel ! They will cut my 
head off, if you do, and I don't want to die — oh, 
I don't want to die ! " 

" I hope they won't do that," said the other 
pityingly, for her woman's heart was deeply 
touched by the girl's terrible agitation and 
wretchedness; "but I shall be obliged to tell, if 
it is only for Conrad's sake. Besides, it is my 
duty. I am the landweibel's wife, you know." 

" But not to-day, liebe Frau Flimm, not to-day, 
please — not to-day ! I want to go home to my 
mother. I have been buying-in for her. Let me 
go, Frau Flimm. I will come back to-morrow 
and give myself up to the landweibel ; I will 
indeed ! Do, please, let me go ! " 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



63 



As she spoke, the girl moved towards the door. 
Frau Flimm pushed her back. 

" Not so, Maria, not so. I must tell the land- 
weibel, and I cannot let you leave the Rathhaus. 
You will have to stay here to-night I will send 
word to your mother." 

" Let me go, I tell you ! " shouted Maria, who 
was now bitterly regretting having allowed herself 
to be surprised out of her secret, and almost wild 
with fear. " Let me go ! I will go ! Stand aside, 
or I shall hurt you ! " 

And then she shook herself free from Frau 
Flimm's grasp and made a second turn for the 
door. The girl was tall] and strong and desperate ; 
she struggled fiercely to gain her end ; and had 
they been left to themselves would have been 
much more than a match for her opponent. But 
the latter shouted for help ; and, as she fell 
exhausted on the floor, her husband ran into the 
room. 

" Seize her, hold her ! " she exclaimed, pointing 
to Maria. " She is a murderess ! She killed 
Mathilde Weber ; she has told me herself. Seize 
her! n 

Then there was another struggle ; for the girl 



64 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



refused to yield even to the landweibel ; and she 
made so determined a resistance that, before she 
could be secured and placed in a cell, he had to 
call for further help. 

When Maria was brought before the examin- 
ing judge the next day, she retracted her 
confession, or, rather, denied having made 
any ; but a night in the cage loosened her 
tongue, and she made a full avowal of her 
guilt, The |story was soon told. Greed and 
jealousy were her motives. She was afraid 
Mathilde would rob her of her lover, and she 
coveted her silver chain. On Corpus Christi day, 
as they were going home from church, she con- 
trived, by pretending that she had lost her pater- 
noster in the wood a short time previously, to get 
her friend near the Wassertobel. When they 
reached the brink she pushed the poor girl in, at 
the same time tearing the tempting ornament from 
her breast. She thought the body would sink to 
the bottom and never be seen again. In saying 
Conrad Oberwald had given her the chain, she 
had no idea, she said, of bringing him into the 
trouble ; but when the murder came out, she 
dared not tell that it was her doing, and so 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



65 



kept silence and let her lover bear the 
blame. 

The method of procedure in criminal cases 
in Appenzel, at the time in question, was as 
peculiar and old-fashioned as any other institution 
of the canton. The examination was conducted 
by a court called the Wochenrath. It had the 
power of putting refractory prisoners to the 
torture, as poor Conrad Oberwald found to his 
cost. By increasing the number of judges, it 
could constitute itself, in certain contingencies, a 
Blutrath (Council of Blood), and try serious cases. 
But the power of life and death was vested in 
the Great Council of the canton, by whom all 
capital cases, in the last resort, were heard and 
decided. Their proceedings were conducted in 
public — literally " with open doors." The exami- 
nations of the Wochenrath, on the other hand, 
were held with closed doors. The official de- 
signation of the Public Prosecutor was Reichs- 
vogt — Imperial Bailiff — a name that had come 
down from the time when Appenzel formed 
a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The ap- 
pointed defender of the prisoner was the 
Armenpfleger, or overseer of the poor. When 



66 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



these men had made an end of speaking, it was the 
custom for the Landammann, who presided over 
the council, to inquire if any minister of God or 
kinsman of the accused desired to say a word on 
his behalf. If no kinsman answered to the call, 
the accused would beseech the Church, "which 
thirsteth not after blood," to plead with his earthly 
judges to temper their justice with mercy. The 
hearing over, the prisoner was removed, the court 
cleared, and the case debated with closed doors. 
A majority decided. In the event of an 
equality of votes, the casting vote was always 
given in favour of acquittal. The sentence was 
pronounced with open doors. If the prisoner's 
doom was death, the great bell tolled a solemn 
peal, the Landammann broke his staff in twain, 
and threw the pieces among the people, with the 
words : " As he finds no mercy here, so may God 
forgive him hereafter." The execution followed 
swiftly on the sentence, the condemned being 
taken straight from the place of judgment to the 
scaffold, and there beheaded. 

There were, however, at times some strange 
exceptions. When a woman was condemned to 
death for infanticide, and the Franciscan sisters of 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



67 



Appenzel volunteered to take charge of the poor 
creature and u better her" — an offer they never 
failed to make — their offer was accepted, as a 
matter of course, and the sentence remitted. On 
one occasion a sentence of death was commuted 
into a sentence of imprisonment, because a 
peasant, who had a fine meadow full of grass near 
the place of execution, represented to the council 
that the crowd would trample it down and cause 
him a heavy loss. Another time this order of 
things was reversed. It had been arranged to 
confine a convict, condemned to penal servitude for 
life, in a prison at St. Gall — Appenzel being short 
of accommodation at the time — but when it was 
found that the place destined for him had been 
bespoke, and that the St. Gall people could not 
take him in, the Great Council reconsidered the case, 
ordered the man to be beheaded — and beheaded 
he was. 

On the 27th of November, 1849, the Wochenrath 
held an Assize of Blood, and declared Anna 
Maria Koch guilty, on her own confession, of 
having murdered Mathilde Weber. In anticipation 
of sentence to death being passed on her by the 
Great Council she was diligently visited by 

F 2 



68 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



several priests and exhorted to repentance ; but 
she stubbornly refused their ministrations, saying 
she could not, and would not die. 

On the 3rd of November the Great Council 
met in the Rathhaus to decide whether she should 
live or die. After the case for the prosecution had 
been stated by the Reichsvogt, the Armenpfleger 
said what he could in extenuation of her offence, 
for to gainsay it in the face of her own confession 
was clearly impossible. Then the Landammann 
asked if any of the prisoner's kinsfolk had aught 
to urge on her behalf. On this her father and her 
sister made a piteous appeal for mercy, and the 
council proceeded to judgment. By a majority of 
ninety-two to six they condemned Maria Koch to 
death, and ordered her to be taken forthwith to 
the place of execution, and there beheaded. 

When the wretched girl saw the Landammann 
break his staff, and heard the dread sound of the 
knell which told her doom, she uttered shriek 
after shriek, and it required the utmost efforts of 
four strong men to bind her and carry her to the 
scaffold. There she had a desperate struggle with 
the headsman and his helpers, and it was long 
before she could be forced down and fastened to 



THE SILVER CHAIN. 



69 



the block. And even when that was done she 
managed to thrust her neck between her shoulders 
in such a way that the executioner was unable to 
perform his office. All the time she uttered the 
most heartrending cries, and the Reichsvogt (who 
was superintending the execution), completely- 
bewildered and unmanned, sent a message to the 
Great Council, asking what must be done. The 
answer was short and stern : " Let the doomster do 
his duty." 

On this the condemned, who had drawn from 
the delay hopes that her life might even yet be 
spared, renewed her struggles, and her cries were 
more terrible than before. She broke her bonds, 
and had to be fastened a second time to the block. 
Then a grey old man, who had served in foreign 
wars, stepped from the crowd and told the 
headsman to wind the girl's long hair round a pole 
in such a way that, being stretched to her full 
length by his helpers, she could be firmly held, and 
thereby hindered from shifting about and con- 
tracting her neck. This was done. With a single 
stroke Maria Koch's head was severed from her 
body; and thus the agonising scene, which had 
lasted two hours, came to an end. 



7o TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



This execution made a great sensation in 
Switzerland, and was probably one of the causes 
that led to the abolition of capital punishment, 
by Federal enactment, in 1874. True, the right of 
life and death has since been restored to the 
cantons, but the privilege is not one of which they 
are likely to make extensive use. 

Conrad Oberwald never quite recovered from 
the effects of his confinement in the cage and his 
flagellations on the bocksfutter. The canton 
refusing to make him any pecuniary compensation 
for his sufferings, a public subscription was got up 
for him in Appenzel and St. Gall, which produced 
a sum sufficient to enable him to buy a piece of 
land, settle in life, and marry Hilda Yodel, who 
had believed in Conrad's innocence, and spoken a 
good word for him, when all the world was against 
him. 



THE BATTLE OF THE WJNDS. 



THE 

BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



CHAPTER I. 

SUNNY MEMORIES. 

IN the neighbourhood of Altorf, in the historic 
canton of Uri, and near the highway between 
Amsteg and Erstfeld, there was to be seen, not 
very long ago, a charming little chalet. It stood 
in the middle of a green meadow, bounded on one 
side by a sparkling brook, on the other by a broad 
belt of woodland, and in summer was almost 
hidden behind a leafy screen of fruit-laden vines 
and trailing rose-trees. When, in early morning, 
the sun rose above the Alps, lighting up the dark 
pine wood with a golden glory, dyeing the meadow 
a brighter emerald and the roses a richer scarlet, it 
was like a scene in fairyland, or the realisation of 



74 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



a poet's dream of an earthly paradise. Travellers 
passing that way from , the mountains or the lake, 
however great their hurry, rarely failed to take 
a long look at the little chalet, its vines, its rose- 
trees, and its meadow, its pointed gables, carved 
galleries, and laughing rivulet ; and many of them, 
as they wiped the perspiration from their brows, 
and continued their journey along the dusty- road, 
prayed heaven that it might be their lot to pass 
the rest of their lives in the enjoyment of that 
peace of mind with which, as they thought, the 
dwellers in so lovely a spot must surely be blessed. 

So much for the outside : and now, using a 
story-teller's privilege, let us open the door and 
see what is going on inside this highly-favoured 
dwelling. 

~ The principal apartment, which has the appear- 
ance of serving at once as a sitting-room and 
superior kitchen, occupies nearly the whole of the 
ground-floor of the house. It is well furnished: 
the chairs are of black oak ; there are several 
richly- carved chests and settles ; a great porcelain 
stove stands in one corner, and the well-waxed 
oaken floor shines like a mirror. Everything 
betokens the chalet to be the dwelling of a well- 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



75 



to-do peasant — of a man, that is to say, who owns 
the land he cultivates — one of a class happily 
abundant in Switzerland, a class that constitutes 
the bone and sinew of the country. 

The table is set for breakfast. It is covered 
with a cloth of snowy whiteness, whereon 
repose a jar of honey, a huge loaf of bread, a 
great jug of milk, and an old-fashioned silver 
coffee-pot 

The inmates of the room are two — a man and 
a woman, husband and wife. The woman, whose 
name is Helena, is young and shapely, tall and 
handsome. Her eyes are large and dark, her 
hair is black and luxuriant ; and were it not that 
her countenance is disfigured by pride, anger, and 
obstinacy, it would, beyond a doubt, be beautiful 
and prepossessing. She looks at her husband, 
who is gazing intently through the lozenge-shaped 
panes of the lattice window, as if mutely inviting 
him to breakfast ; but he takes no heed, and she, 
either disdaining to ask or fearing to speak, sits 
down to the meal alone. Nevertheless, she seems 
ill at ease, eats without appetite, and from time 
to time casts a glance at her husband more defiant 
than loving ; and her whole manner indicates 



76 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



that she would greatly prefer a storm, however 
violent, to so unnatural a calm. Meanwhile 
Arnold Beckenried, for so is the husband called, 
continues looking through the window, as if there 
were nobody in the room but himself. Yet 
though he looks he sees nothing, for his gaze 
is turned inward, and his thoughts are busied 
with the past. He goes over in his mind the 
principal events of his life, thinks of the time 
when, after he was left a poor orphan without 
the means of subsistence, Walter Trogen had 
compassion on him, set him in summer to watch 
his flocks on the Alps of Unterwalden, and in 
winter sent him to the village school. When 
he neared man's estate, Siegfried, the master 
boatman of Sisikon, whose attention had been 
attracted by the lad's stalwart proportions, and 
his confidence won by his comely countenance 
and bold bearing, advised him to leave the 
mountains and seek his fortune on the lake, 
offering to give him charge of one of his boats 
and teach him his calling. This offer the young 
shepherd gladly accepted. He went to Sisikon, 
entered Siegfried's service, and speedily became 
one of the most expert boatmen on the lake. 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



11 



The life pleased him ; he loved the open air, 
delighted in movement and danger, and the 
independence of his new vocation was congenial 
to his character. After a few years spent with 
Siegfried, he had saved enough money to buy him- 
self a boat, and was thenceforth his own master. 

One day, when he was looking out for a fare 
at Bauen, whither he had just taken some pas- 
sengers and a small cargo from Sisikon, an old 
man and a young girl came down to the jetty 
and asked to be rowed to Fluelen. Arnold was 
not the only boatman present, and several others 
offered their services ; but the young girl, after 
a single glance at his face, stepped on board his 
little craft, and the old man followed without a 
word. During the passage it came on to blow a 
little, as it oftens does on the Lake of the Four 
Cantons, of which Lake Uri forms the southern 
extremity, and though the young lady (for she 
was well and even expensively dressed, and her 
manner gracious and refined) showed some signs 
of fear, the dexterity with which Arnold handled 
the boat quickly reassured her. When they 
arrived at Fluelen she thanked him with the 
sweetest smile that, he thought, he had ever seen 



78 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



on mortal face ; while the old man complimented 
him handsomely on his skill, and said that when- 
ever he or his daughter had occasion to go on 
the lake they would have no other boat than his 
and no other boatman than himself. 

They told Arnold at Fliielen that his pas- 
sengers were Hans Hittenberg and his daughter 
Helena. Hans was one of the richest peasants 
in Uri ; he had a large farm of his own, many 
mountain pastures, and, it was rumoured, much 
money out at interest. Hence Helena, being his 
only child, was for that country a great heiress, 
and might, had she chosen, have mated with a 
wealthy landowner or a prosperous merchant. 
But her father, who had lost his wife many years 
before, loved his daughter so passionately that 
he could not bear the idea of parting with her, 
and was much more likely to repulse than to en- 
courage suitors for her hand, however personally 
eligible they might be. But Helena had been so 
used to having her own way (her father had 
spoiled her so much, and she was so high- 
tempered and self-willed), that it was not to be 
expected, if she did take a fancy, that she would 
be restrained from gratifying it either by con- 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



siderations of prudence or of filial duty. Hans 
knew this, and when he thought of his increasing 
infirmities, of what the future might have in 
store for his darling, and of the difficulty of 
controlling her, his mind seriously misgave him. 

After the meeting at Bauen and the journey 
to Fliielen, Hans Hittenberg and his daughter 
made frequent use of Arnold's boat on their 
goings to and fro on the water. The lake of Uri 
seemed suddenly to have unfolded new beauties 
for Helena. She was ever finding excuses for 
journeys to Bauen, to Axen, to Seelisberg, and 
to Fliielen ; she never could be persuaded to go 
thither by road when it was possible to go by 
water, and it generally was possible. On these 
occasions she was often accompanied by her 
father, sometimes by a servant, and now and 
then she went alone. She always felt safe, she 
told her father, in Arnold Beckenried's boat ; 
and Hans was content, for he lived only in his 
child. 

As for poor Arnold, from the very first moment 
he set eyes on the beautiful and wayward girl, 
he had been utterly and hopelessly in love with 
her. Her vivacity, her energy, her restlessness, 



So 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



her very self-will even, had infinite charms for 
him. For a long time, however, Arnold did not 
dare to lift his eyes in love, much less declare his 
passion to Hans Hittenberg's daughter. How 
could he, a poor man, whose only fortune was his 
boat, hope to win the hand of the richest heiress 
in the canton? But being a mountaineer of 
Unterwalden and a free Switzer, and, therefore, 
like one of Abraham's children, subject to no 
man, he was too proud, and had too high a sense 
of his own dignity, to urge an impossible suit or 
cherish a hopeless love. So he resolved to sell 
his boat, leave his beloved Urner lake for ever, 
and seek his fortune in some other part of 
Switzerland, or, perhaps, in a foreign country. 

Almost on the very day that Arnold arrived 
at this decision word was brought him at Fliielen 
that, at a certain hour next morning, Herr 
Hittenberg and his daughter would take passage 
in his boat as far as Bauen. He received this 
message with mournful satisfaction. He would 
see Helena for the last time, have an opportunity 
of telling her of his near departure, and bidding 
her a long farewell. She and her father had 
shown him great kindness, and it was only right 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



81 



that he should pay his respects to them before he 
left the neighbourhood. As it fell out, however, 
Helena came alone. A sudden call of business 
at the last moment, she explained, had prevented 
her father from coming with her, and there was 
not time for the maid to make herself ready. 

Arnold took his oars and Helena a place in 
the stern of the boat. They could thus look each 
other in the face. But Arnold did not profit by 
the opportunity ; he dared not encounter the 
fascination of Helena's eyes, for fear they should 
make him waver in his resolution. So he bowed 
his head, planted his feet firmly, bent himself 
to his work, and the Sunbeam glided swiftly over 
the blue waters of the lake. 

" There's a fair wind, Herr Boatman/' remarked 
Helena, after a long silence. "Why not make 
sail? It will be ever so much more pleasant, 
besides being easier for you." 

" Ja wohly Fraulein," replied Arnold, without 
trusting himself to return the kindly glance shot 
at him by his charming fare. 

And he stepped his mast, hoisted his little lug- 
sail, and shipped his rudder. 

These arrangements rendered necessary a 

G 



82 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



change of position. He had to go to the stern, 
take the tiller, and keep an eye on the sail. Helena 
had to make way for him ; but as she did not 
move many inches, they were now nearly vis-a-vis, 
and very close together. Arnold could not 
help feeling happy in spite of himself, and of the 
consciousness that his great resolve was in serious 
jeopardy.. He stole a glance at his passenger 
as she spoke, with a kindly, almost, as he fancied 
(and his heart beat wildly at the thought), a loving 
look. 

" You do not seem well to-day, Herr Boatman," 
observed the lady graciously. " Are you ailing ? " 

" No, mein Fraulein, I am quite well." 

u Then you are not happy. You look dis- 
couraged ; you are silent, and your face seems 
worn. What is the matter?" 

"Nothing, mein Fraulein ; there is nothing at 
all the matter." 

" Come now, Herr Boatman, it is wrong to tell 
untruths, and you know that is an untruth. Any- 
body can see that you are either unwell or out of 
tune (verstimmt)." 

" I did not know — I was not aware — that is, I 
did not think," stammered Arnold. Then des- 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



83 



perately : " It is perhaps because I am going 
away ; and the Urner see (lake of Uri) has 
been my home so long. It is sad to have to 
leave it. I do feel unhappy, mein Fraulein." 

" Going away! Whither ? what for ? " exclaimed 
Helena, turning rather pale. 

" Perhaps to the Boden see, or to be a boat- 
man on the Rhine or Elbe. I am going to seek 
my fortune." 

" Going to seek your fortune ! Don't you 
think you could seek your fortune nearer home, 
Herr Beckenried ? " said Helena, who, guessing 
which way the wind blew, thought, considering 
their relative positions, it was her duty to give 
Arnold just a little encouragement. 

But Arnold, whose diffidence prevented* him 
from taking advantage of the opportunity, made 
no answer. 

"Your friends will be very sorry," continued 
Helena ; " do you think you are acting 
wisely ? " 

" What friends ? who cares enough for me, or 
my comings or goings, to be sorry that I should 
do this or that ? " 

st My father; I am sure he will be very sorry," 

G 2 



8 4 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



said Fraulein Hittenberg, as she turned her head 
and hid her face with her sunshade. 

" Only your father ! You will not be sorry at 
all then, mein Fraulein ?" asked Arnold, in a broken 
voice. 

" Yes, Herr Boatman, I too shall be very sorry. 
But it is you who do not care for us, or you would 
not think of going away to seek your fortune 
when — when " 

Just then a gentle zephyr blew aside the sun- 
shade, and Arnold saw that Helena was very pale, 
and that her beautiful eyes 'were filled with tears. 
This was a sight before which his fine resolution 
melted into nothingness, and throwing to the 
winds every consideration of prudence and pride, 
he £ave heed only to the promptings of his 
heart. 

" If I only thought, Fraulein," he exclaimed, in 
great agitation, "if I could persuade myself that you 
cared half as much for me as I care for you, I 
would stay by the Urner see for ever." 

"And how do you know that I don't, Herr 
Boatman ? " said Helena, smiling through her 
tears. 

" Then you do, you do care for me ; you do 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 85 

V 

love me a wee bit, mein Fraulein ! " almost shouted 
the happy boatman, as he let go the tiller and 
grasped Helena's fairylike fingers in his great 
brown hands. 

" No, Arnold Beckenried, I don't love you a 
wee bit." (Here Arnold's face, which had just 
expressed ecstasy, fell below the zero of despair.) 
"But don't look so miserable, you foolish man. I 
love you a great deal. There now, are you satisfied, 
or are you still determined to seek your fortune in 
a strange land ? " 

Arnold's answer was to let go one of her hands, 
put one arm round her waist, and press his lips 
to hers. 

Then his countenance again looked troubled. 
" But " he began. 

" But," laughingly echoed the maiden, " are 
you still unhappy ? What thought is troubling 
you now ? " 

" Your father. Will he allow his only daughter 
to mate with a poor boatman, who has not a rood 
of land he can call his own ? " 

" Oh, is that all ? " answered Helena, with a 
slight toss of her head. " If you are poor, we are 
rich, and have enough for all. The good father 



36 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



never says me nay, and he will not object to 
Arnold Beckenried for a son-in-law. I shall not 
stay long at Bauen ; you must wait for me and 
take me back, and we will together tell the father 
that we are verlobt (affianced). I answer for his 
consent." 



CHAPTER II. 



DIVIDED LIVES. 

Helena was right After a delicious day spent 
on the lake, the recollection of which never faded 
from the memories of either of them, they went to 
the chalet, and Arnold, in a manly straightforward 
way, asked Hans Hittenberg for his daughter's 
hand in marriage. 

" He says he is poor, father," said Helena, in 
answer to an interrogative look from the old man ; 
u but he is good, and we are rich, and I — and I, 
dear father, love him and he loves me," 

"Not rich, child, not rich, only comfortable," 
interrupted Hans, who liked to be thought less 
well-off than he really was. "Thou might have 
done better, Helenchen" (little Helena), "and I 



88 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



am not sure that I ought to give my consent to thy 
becoming the wife of a common boatman." 

At these words Arnold rose from his chair, and 
looked rather fierce. 

"Not so fast, Herr Beckenried, not so fast," 
continued the father, who had been speaking 
diplomatically, and was really well pleased at the 
turn things were taking. " It is surely no offence 
to say that Helenchen might do better than marry 
a boatman — all the more credit to thee for having 
won her — nor did I say I would not give my 
consent to your betrothal. But it must be on 
one condition — on one condition. Helenchen 
must not leave her old father, and, Arnold, you 
will have to quit the lake, and live with us here at 
the chalet." 

Arnold, as may well be supposed, made no 
difficulty about accepting Hans Hittenberg's terms ; 
yet, notwithstanding his love for Helena, it was 
not without a pang that he consented to abandon 
his free life on the Urner see, even to become 
a rich man's son-in-law, and the husband of a 
handsome heiress. 

Hans, as we have observed, was well pleased, 
albeit he did not think it politic openly to say so. 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 89 



The great object of his life was now all but 
achieved. If Helena married Arnold she could 
not well marry any other body, and he would not 
be deserted by his only child in his old age. For 
the rest, Arnold's character was irreproachable. 
He was a man without enemies ; everybody would 
be rejoiced at his good fortune, and he could not 
fail to make Helenchen (as her father always called 
her) a good husband. 

After a brief courtship they were married at 
Altorf. Half the countryside came to the 
wedding, and people thought the bridegroom the 
most fortunate of men, an opinion in which Arnold 
doubtless fully concurred. But as the glamour of 
the honeymoon wore off, and the hard realities of 
life began to make themselves felt, the young 
couple found out — what many another young 
couple has found out — that their happiness was 
not a happiness without alloy ; and it gradually 
dawned on Arnold's mind that even in Chalet 
Hittenberg there was a cupboard with a skeleton 
in it ; a skeleton that often threatened, and might 
some day destroy, the peace of their beautiful home 
— Helena's imperious temper and wayward self- 
will. So long as she had absolutely her own way, 



9o 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



and everybody in the house and about it practised 
the virtue of passive obedience and acknowledged 
the absolute authority of its mistress, all went well ; 
but anything like opposition she would tolerate 
neither from her husband nor her father, and woe 
to the servant that ventured to remonstrate against 
her orders or omitted to obey her commands. For 
awhile Arnold submitted with loverlike docility to 
his fair tyrant ; albeit, being a man with a mind of 
his own, there necessarily came a time when he 
felt himself constrained to rebel; whereupon un- 
pleasant collisions occurred; and but for the 
watchfulness and moderating influence of the 
father — who knew his child's weakness, and how 
much his own mistaken indulgence had fostered 
it — there would have been bitter domestic strife 
and a divided household. 

At length Hans Hittenberg passed from the 
scene, and was buried with his fathers ; and it 
almost seemed as if the happiness of Arnold 
and Helena had been interred in the same tomb. 
For this, though the wife was chiefly in fault, 
the husband was by no means free from blame. 
He knew, or might have known before he married 
Helena, that she was a spoiled child, and as a 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



spoiled child he ought to have treated her. She 
loved him dearly, his influence over her was 
great, and by the use of gentle means, by the 
exercise of patience and firmness, by quiet 
reasoning and loving remonstrance, he might, 
perchance, have gradually weaned her from her 
wilfulness, hastiness, and impatience of opposition. 
The object was well worth the effort ; for Helena 
had so many noble qualities, that, freed from 
these faults, she would have been a woman in 
ten thousand, a wife worthy of a monarch. But 
he preferred the strong hand to the oiled feather, 
stern reproof to the soft answer that turneth 
away wrath: He had often won his way through 
the fierce storms that sometimes lash into fury 
the lake of the Four Cantons, by sheer firmness 
of mind and force of will, and he thought to 
conquer his wife's temper by a similar display 
of energy. When this design was perceived by 
Helena, all the worst qualities of her nature were 
excited ; her pride and obstinacy were alike 
aroused. She opposed Arnold out of sheer 
wilfulness, to show him, as she said to herself, 
that, though he was her husband, he should 
never be her master. Differences and disputes 



92 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



became frequent, hot words were often bandied 
between them, and the love of their youth was 
in great danger of being replaced by open 
estrangement. 

Arnold had long desired a more active life 
than the life of the chalet — where there was in 
truth too little scope for a man of his active 
and energetic temperament — and now that his 
father-in-law was dead he wanted much to buy 
a large dairy-farm in Unterwalden, and become 
a keeper of flocks and herds in his native 
mountains. But this project, without the co- 
operation of his wife, was impossible, for she 
inherited in her own right the whole of her 
fathers property, and Arnold had no independent 
means of his own. Nevertheless, he went about 
the business as if Helena's consent had been 
given, or as if the price of the land he proposed 
to buy were already in his possession. This 
indiscreet proceeding, which in any circumstances 
would have been annoying, aggravated Helena 
almost past endurance ; and she resolved that, 
come what might, she would neither consent to 
leave the chalet nor find money for the purchase 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



of the farm — a determination which led to their 
last and greatest quarrel. 

On the morning on which our story opens 
the peasant proprietor from Unterwalden, with 
whom Arnold had been in treaty for the purchase 
of his house and fields, called at the cottage to 
ask for a final answer ; whereupon Arnold, after 
saying that he accepted Herr Ritschard's terms, 
inquired of Helena, in a matter-of-course manner, 
when it w r ould suit her convenience to go with 
him to the notary to complete the transaction. 

"Never," was her prompt and impetuous 
answer ; " never will I leave this house where 
I was born and bred, and where I passed the 
happy days of my maidenhood. As for the farm, 
that's your business ; all that I know is, that no 
money of mine shall go to pay for land in Unter- 
walden, nor anywhere else. And I don't think it's 
any use your waiting, Herr Ritschard ; Arnold 
cannot buy your land — the most he ever had 
was an old boat — and I won't." 

At these words Herr Ritschard, a quiet old 
man, with a strong dislike for domestic broils, 
quietly took up his hat and went away. 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Then Arnold, too indignant to speak, turned 
towards the window, and remained as if gazing 
through it — though in reality seeing nothing — for 
nearly an hour. 

Meanwhile Helena, tired of waiting, had sat 
down to breakfast. Greatly irritated by Arnold's 
silence and abstraction, she at length gave way to 
her impatience. 

" Are you going to stay there all day ? Won't 
you have something to eat ? " she asked, in a voice 
that tried to be conciliatory, but was not. 

"No. Fm not hungry." 

Then another interval of silence followed. 
Both seemed angry ; but Arnold's anger was that 
of a resolute man, Helena's that of a wilful woman. 
She knew that a word would have reconciled 
them, yet this word she would not speak. 

Again the silence was broken, this time by 
Arnold. He had resolved, and was now about 
to act. 

" Where is Rudolf?" he asked. 
"In his crib." 
"At this hour?" 

" He was so tired last night, I thought I would 
let him have a long sleep." 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



95 



Arnold opened the door of a small bedroom. 
A bright little fellow, of some six years old, had 
just unclosed his eyes, as was evident from the 
fact that he was vigorously rubbing them with 
a pair of chubby fists. When he saw his father 
he uttered a cry of joy, and stretched out his 
hands to him. The latter, instead of taking the 
child in his arms and riding him on his shoulder, 
as was his wont, turned to his wife. 

" Dress him," he said, in an imperious voice ; 
" I am going out, and shall take him with me." 

"Whither?" 

Arnold looked at her fiercely for a moment, 
as if calculating the effect of the answer he was 
about to give. 

a To Fliielen," he said, speaking slowly and 
deliberately. " Siegfried of Sisikon, my old 
master, is there, and goes to-day to Brunnen 
for cargo. I am going to ask him for a place 
as pilot or boatman. I am without money, you 
know ; yet, though I have no longer a boat, I 
can earn my own living, and I will no longer 
be a burden on anybody?' 

Helena turned pale. 

" But you are not going to-day ? " she exclaimed. 



96 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"Yes, to-day, and at once." 
"But the boy?" 

"The boy will go with me and live with me. 
He shall be a boatman, like his father." 

Helena would have broken out in reproaches 
and remonstrances, but there was that in Arnolds 
manner and his words which put a seal on her 
lips. She saw now, when too late, that she had 
pushed opposition and contradiction too far, and 
that in taunting her husband with his poverty 
before a stranger she had committed a fault 
that would not readily be forgiven nor soon for- 
gotten. Her agony at the prospect of losing 
Arnold and the child was almost more than she 
could bear. She had to lean against the wall 
for support ; she covered her face with her hands ; 
she tried to speak, but could not. Yet amid 
all the mental torture she was undergoing, the 
greatest she had ever known, it never occurred to 
her to yield — to ask Arnold's forgiveness — to throw 
her arms round his neck — remind him of their 
ancient love, and entreat him to let them be to 
each other as they once had been. It did not 
seem to her as if she could humiliate herself to 
do this, even though the alternative should be 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



death ; and rousing herself by a supreme effort, 
she silently obeyed her husband's behest. 

When the child was ready Arnold took him 
by the hand and led him away. Helena, yielding 
to an impulse she was unable to resist, followed 
them to the garden-gate to give the little fellow 
a last embrace. She folded him convulsively in 
her arms, and gave him two or three passionate 
kisses. 

" Good-bye, Helena," said Arnold. 

And in his voice there was a softness, a touch 
of bygone tenderness, and the look that went 
with it was almost supplicatory. " Only speak, 
Helena," it seemed to say, "and all may yet be 
well." For a moment she hesitated ; pride and 
love were struggling fiercely for the mastery; 
pride won ; and turning slowly on her heel, 
Helena re-entered the chalet. 

When she had closed the door behind her, and 

was once more alone, a flood of tears somewhat 

* 

relieved her pent-up feelings. Yet they were more 
tears of anger and mortification than of sorrow 
and repentance, and with the sense of sadness 
that oppressed her was mingled a strong feeling 
of resentment against Arnold ; for had he not 

H 



9 8 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



refused to yield to her wishes, and taken away 
her child ? It was evident that Helena possessed 
no inward force or virtue whereby she might 
overcome the cardinal defect, of her character. 
Only some external event — some crushing 
calamity — could give to her better nature the 
victory over the pride and wilfulness that had 
bereft her of her husband and her son, and left 
her a solitary woman in a desolate home. 

Meanw r hile Arnold and the boy were walking 
rapidly in the direction of Fliielen — too rapidly 
for Rudolf, for the day was warm, and the little 
man's legs were short. 

Arnold was buried in painful thought. Helena's 
rejection of his last appeal had wounded him more 
deeply even than the open insult of the morning. 
Never, never, he said to himself, would he go 
back to her. Let her live alone with her pride, 
her wilfulness, and her wealth. He would resume 
his old calling. By working hard and saving hard 
he could soon earn enough to buy another boat, 
and by dint of perseverance and industry he might, 
perhaps, raise himself to a higher position, and 
leave Rudolf as well off as if he were to inherit 
all Hans Hittenberg's riches. He knew a kind 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



motherly body at Brunnen in whose charge he 
could place the child. He would see him every 
day, and have all his love ; Helena should have 
no share in it. She had the money, he had the 
boy ; and he felt himself the richer of the 
two. 

Arnold, while thinking so much of his boy's 
future prospects had become quite oblivious to 
his present needs, and he continued to push on, 
almost forgetful of his companionship. 

"Papa," said at length Rudolf, who had 
already tried vainly two or three times to attract 
his father's attention. 

" Yes, Rudy," answered the other abstractedly. 

M It's very hot, papa." 

" So it is, my little man ; but we shall soon 
be at Fliielen, and then we are going to have a 
sail in Siegfried's boat." 

"Will you go too?" 

" Yes, we are going together ; do you suppose 
I would let you go alone?" 

" Oh, won't it be nice ! I'm so glad. But I 
say, papa." 

"Yes, Rudy." 

" Papa, if I was a big man like you, and you 

H 2 



IOO 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



was a little boy like me, do you know what I 
would do ? " 

" No ; what would you do, Rudy ? " 

" Td carry you on my back, papa/' 

" You would, would you, old man ? " said 
Arnold, greatly delighted at this sally. "You 
deserve carrying, if it is only for saying that ; and 
I will carry you, but in my arms, not on my back." 

And the father, suiting the action to the words, 
lifted the lad from the dusty road, wiped the 
perspiration from his brow, and the two talked 
and laughed lovingly together until they reached 
Fliielen, when Arnold, after fondly kissing the lad, 
placed him once more on firm ground. Now that 
he had lost, or thought he had lost, the love of 
Helena, that of Rudolf had become more precious 
than life itself. 



CHAPTER III. 



THE RISING STORM. 

All was quiet in Fliielen; one steamer had just 
left, and no other was in sight or expected ; no 
tourists were departing for Airolo or Bellinzona, 
none were arriving from those parts, yet a group 
of fishermen were gathered near the jetty and 
engaged in earnest conversation. They seemed to 
be discussing matters of grave import, and now 
and again one of them would take a look round 
and upward, and then shake his head, as if some- 
thing were brewing skyward which did not quite 
please him. 

" Pll tell you what it is, Siegfried/' one old 
fellow, conspicuous by his leathery skin, wrinkled 
face, and knowing look, was saying, " before an 
hour is over you'll havet he fohn behind you, and 
take my word for it, you won't find it easy to 



io2 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



reach Brunnen. You'd better stay where you are 
until the storm blows over." (The fohn, it may be 
as well to explain here, is the south wind ; it 
blows sometimes with great violence for days 
together, and is much feared by the boatmen of 
the Swiss lakes. The bise, the north wind, is 
almost equally dreaded, especially in French 
Switzerland, where it is generally more violent 
than in the north and the east. Sometimes they 
are both blowing at the same time, the one in the 
upper the other in the lower air. When the point 
of contact is near the earth or the surface of 
a lake, the consequences are terrible : boats are 
dashed in pieces, rocks hurled from the mountain- 
tops, whole forests cut down, and houses unroofed, 
just as in a tropical cyclone.) 

"That I will not, Andreas/' answered Siegfried 
from Sisikon — a tall broad-shouldered man of 
about sixty, with a weather-beaten face, bright 
blue eyes, and an air at once genial and resolute. 
" Unless a fohn be a right bad one, I'm not afraid 
of it. I've been too long sailing on Uri lake for 
that ; and from the look of things, this won't be a 
very bad one. Besides, we shall have the wind 
at our backs, you know/' 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



" But I say it will be a bad one," grumbled 
Andreas. " Man and boy, Fve been on the lake 
nearly seventy years, and I've never seen a surer 
sign of a strong fokn than this day, and " 

" Hullo ! here comes Arnold Beckenried," 
interrupted Siegfried. " What news do you bring, 
Beckenried ? " 

" I'm glad to find you are not gone, Siegfried," 
replied the new comer, with a forced laugh. 
"If -you'll ship me as pilot I'll go with you to 
Brunnen." 

" To-day ! " said Siegfried, with a surprised 
look ; " why, you won't be able to get back before 
to-morrow." 

" I don't want to get back at all ; I'm going 
to take up my old calling and live at Brunnen 
again." 

" Going to take up your old calling ! Donner- 
wetter, if I had a wife and home like yours, 
Beckenried, it is not a boatman I'd be. What's 
the matter ? " (with a wink at the others). " Has the 
handsome Helena given you the sack ? " 

At this suggestion Arnold almost lost his 
temper. 

" Will you take me or not, Siegfried ? " he 



io4 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



asked peremptorily. "If not, there are others 
who will." 

"What, cannot you stand a joke, Beckenried ? 
You used to be good-tempered enough. Take 
you ? of course I will, and glad to do it. You 
shall pilot us to Brunnen. What think you of 
the weather ? Andreas here says we shall have 
the fohn before long." 

Arnold, who had been so busied with his own 
concerns that he had not given the weather a 
thought, looked towards the south. The sky was 
cloudless, and a casual observer would have 
detected nothing that betokened an approaching 
change of atmospheric conditions. The fog that 
in the early morning had shrouded the mountain- 
tops had almost disappeared, and the last shreds 
of it were drifting rapidly northward, a sign 
that might have seemed rather favourable than 
otherwise. This, however, was not Arnold's 
opinion. 

" Yes," he said, shading his eyes with his hand, 
" we shall have the fohn ; see, it is already in 
the upper air, and has driven the mist from the 
tops of the Frohnalp and Oberalp." 

" And if you'll take my advice/' said old 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS, 105 

Andreas, " you'll go at once, if go you must. 
You'll maybe get to Brunnen before the storm 
breaks ; you have that chance." 

" You are right. Here, lads " (to his two men), 
" step into the boat and ship your oars, and see 
that all is in order. We may have a hard pull 
before we get home. Come along, Beckenried, 
we must have you at the helm." 

" I hope, Arnold," continued the old man 
earnestly, as they walked towards the boat, " it 
is well with you at home. Don't the wife and 
you pull well together ? She is young, you know, 
and has been indulgently brought up. I am afraid 
you have quarrelled, or you would not be leaving 
your home in this way." 

" Do not ask me any questions. I cannot tell 
you — at least not now," answered Arnold im- 
patiently. " Let us go to the boat." 

"You must not be angry at my asking," 
returned the old man, with much feeling. " We 
are old friends, and I wish you well, Beckenried ; 
but it is ill to go on the lake of Uri with bitterness 
in the heart, for then the spirits that haunt its 
waters are angered, and raise high winds and fierce 
storms. Only those who have the heart pure and 



io6 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



the conscience clear should venture where danger 
and death may befall them." 

These words startled and almost terrified 
Arnold. They seemed to him ominous of evil ; 
and during the voyage that followed, and for many 
a day thereafter, they rang in his ears like a knell 
of fate. 

It was a relief that an inquiry, interposed at 
this moment by one of the boatmen, rendered it 
unnecessary for him to take any notice of Sieg- 
fried's remarks. 

Once in motion, gliding smoothly and freely 
over the dark-blue wavelets of the lake as rapidly 
as three pairs of oars could propel them, Arnold, 
who had taken the helm, shook off somewhat 
of his oppression. It was pleasant to see Rudolfs 
delight ; the child shouted, and clapped his hands 
with glee, and, thought the fond father, made the 
scene, fair as it was, appear still fairer. As for 
Siegfried, he had recovered all his wonted gaiety, 
and Arnold said to himself that he had never 
seen his old master in better spirits. Men who 
are sound in health, and live all day long in the 
open air, do not often indulge in melancholy 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 107 



forebodings ; their " bosom's lord " generally " sits 
lightly on his throne." 

All this time there had not been enough wind 
to ruffle Rudolfs curls. It seemed as if the 
prediction of old Andreas were going to be 
falsified, and that they would reach Brunnen 
without being overtaken by the dreaded fohn y 
when, as they neared the Axenberg, Arnold felt 
as it were a hot breath wafted across his 
face. 

It was the bode of the coming tempest, 
and, setting his teeth hard, and grasping the 
tiller with a firmer hand, he prepared for the 
worst. 

" Ah/' exclaimed Siegfried, dropping his oars 
with startling suddenness,, "do you see that 
black line, Beckenried, right away there over 
against Bauen ? " 

" Yes ; it is the fdhn. I had felt it before 
you spoke. But it is passing towards Bauen ; 
we may perhaps escape it." 

"Keep up your hearts, my lads," said Sieg- 
fried to the two boatmen. "Bend well to your 
oars, and, please God, we shall all sleep in our 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



beds this night at Brunnen. Once let us double 
Axen Point and we shall be all right." 

The promontory formed by the Axen, where 
it advances into the lake, is greatly exposed to 
the action of the wind and the water at its base 
was much agitated. Thanks, however, to the 
skill of the pilot, they doubled it without diffi- 
culty, and north of the point the lake on its 
eastern side was as waveless as a fairy's well. 
But the opposite side was marked with a line 
of foam, and angry billows were breaking on the 
rock-bound shore. 

" What do you say, Beckenried ? 99 said Sieg- 
fried, as he carefully scanned mountain, sky, and 
lake. "We shall not make Brunnen without 
difficulty — danger, perhaps ; but it would be soft 
to go back to Fluelen. I should never hear the 
last of it from that old Andreas and the others. 
There is nothing I hate more than to have 
people say to me : * It is just as I told you/ 
What do you think, Arnold ?" 

Arnold did not answer. All his thoughts 
were concentrated on the weather and the boat ; 
moreover, desperate though he was, he had no 
desire to share with Siegfried the responsibility 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



109 



of continuing a voyage so evidently full of 
peril. 

"Come, what do you think, Beckenried ? " 
repeated the old man impatiently. 

"Never mind what I think. What will you 
do — go on or go back ? " was all the answer 
Arnold gave him. 

On this Siegfried seemed more undecided 
than ever. For a few moments he did not 
speak ; then, with an air that savoured more of 
hasty impulse than deliberate resolve, he gave 
an order that proved the death-warrant of two 
out of the five souls on board the Fay. 

" Go on, then, in heaven's name. The blessed 
Virgin will help us. It will not be the first 
fohn I have faced." 

"Good/ said Arnold. "And now hoist the 
sail. There is no time to lose. Our best chance 
is to reach Brunnen before we get the full force 
of the blast." 

" Donner-wetter ! you are truly a brave pilot, 
Beckenried ! " exclaimed Siegfried admiringly. 
" None but you would dare to make sail with 
the wind freshening like that. Hear you not 
the fohn howling in the mountains ? It will lead 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



us a dance soon, and a wild one too — wilder 
than merry, I am afraid." 

"That is exactly why we must make all the 
speed we may, so as to reach Brunnen as soon 
as possible. Hoist the sail, I say." 

"It shall be done, Beckenried. Here, Trau- 
gott; here, Heinrich, step the mast. Steady, 
now, and with a will. That's right. Now up 
with the sail. Not too high ; thunder and light- 
ning, men, what are you thinking about? Do 
you want to have the Fay blown out of the 
water ? Lower it at least a foot. Good. Now 
take your oars again, and Fll stand by the sail. 
Keep your weather-eye open, Herr Pilot ; our 
lives are in your keeping." 

The wind rose higher and higher ; it thundered 
in the hollows of the mountains, and sweeping 
up the lake with frightful violence pushed before 
it a huge wave that seemed to threaten the Fay 
with utter and immediate destruction. But 
Arnold guided the boat with so much skill, and 
held the tiller with so firm a hand, that nobody 
seemed afraid ; the two boatmen were cool and 
alert, Siegfried smoked his pipe as complacently 
as if he were sitting in the parlour of The Three 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. in 



Switzers at Sisikon, and Rudolf clapped his 
hands and shouted for joy in the strange wild 
scene around him. 

The lake was now covered with white foam, 
which, blown upward by the wind, assumed 
fantastic forms of more than earthly beauty, 
coloured with all the brilliant tints of the rain- 
bow. Far above the strife of the elements the 
sun shone brightly in a sky of azure ; and while 
the imprisoned waters beat angrily against the 
rock-bound shore, and the trees on the moun- 
tain-tops were swayed to and fro by the raging 
tempest, the heavens, their splendour undimmed 
by a single cloud, remained calm and serene. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE BATTLE AND THE VICTIMS. 



The Fay had passed Tell's chapel. Every 
moment brought them nearer to their desti- 
nation ; the danger seemed almost passed ; and 
though no one had shown any sign of fear, nor 
probably experienced any, all felt relieved as 
they approached Brunnen, and Arnold, in the 
assurance that his dear little boy would soon 
be in a place of safety, breathed a silent yet 
heartfelt prayer of gratitude to heaven. 

" Bravo, Beckenried ! " shouted Siegfried. 
" You have done well — borne yourself like a 
man with a marrow in his backbone. I could 
not have done better myself, not even were I 
thirty years younger." 

But Arnold is too intent on his work, the 
peril is still too great, to permit him to relax 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 113 

his vigilance or notice the old man's words of 
praise, grateful as in other circumstances they 
had doubtless been to him. 

On flies the Fay before the gathering fohn, 
now burying her stem under a cloud of spray, 
now rising on the crest of a foam-tipped wave, 
sometimes shipping a sea, but always kept well 
before the wind by the skilful hand of the bold 
helmsman. Siegfried is watching the sail ; 
Traugott and Heinrich are baling out the 
water which washes every minute over the 
bows. 

They near Grutli ; Brunnen is almost • in 
sight. 

" Hurrah, my men ! " shouts Siegfried. " Half 
an hour more and we shall be at /anchor. We 
will celebrate our victory over the fohn by a 
supper at The Boatman's Rest. Holy Virgin 
protect us! what is that?" and the old man, 
with blanched face, pointed his trembling hand 
towards the south, where the atmosphere had 
suddenly thickened. 

At the same time Arnold, whose gaze was 
directed northward, became conscious of an 
abrupt change in the temperature. A light yet 



H4 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



cold wind struck him full in the face. The 
two boatmen, who had heard Siegfried's excla- 
mation, and knew too well what it meant, seemed 
terrified beyond expression. 

" Do you feel the coolness in the air ? " 
said the old man. " It is the forerunner of the bise" 

"Yes," answered Arnold gloomily, looking 
wistfully at Rudolf ; " it is the bise. Yet, if it 
comes not lower and the fohn holds, there is 
still hope for us ; but if the north wind descends 
on the lake, then may God help us, for man 
cannot." 

"Amen!" said the old man solemnly. "For- 
ward, in heaven's name, forward ! Here, Traugott, 
Heinrich, ship your oars and row for bare life. 
Unless we ca^i reach Brunnen before the winds 
join in battle we are lost men." 

Arnold, still holding the tiller with his right 
hand, leaned forward and loosened the lashings 
by which a short time before he had bound 
Rudolf to his seat. Then he looked round on 
the lake and the mountains as parts of a world 
he might never see again. Night was setting 
in. The huge mass of the Seelisberg cast its 
dark shadow athwart the seething water ; the 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 115 



rocks on either side of them loomed large and 
threatening in the deepening twilight, and the 
last rays of the departing sun were dyeing the 
hoary head of the Frohnalp a bloody red. 

Brunnen is now in sight. 

" Courage, men, courage ! " exclaimed Siegfried 
cheerily ; " we are almost at home. Forward ! 
in the name of heaven, forward ! and all may 
yet be well." 

But that which they so much feared had 
already come to pass. The two winds were in 
contact. The fohn was pushing the bise before 
it, and the latter, compressed and thrust down- 
ward, raged on the surface of the lake and 
dashed against the sides of the mountains with 
the force of an earthquake. Rocks were rent 
asunder and hurled into the lake ; trees fell like 
corn before the sickle ; and every now and 
again, as some mighty monarch of the forest 
was laid low, a sound as of distant thunder was 
heard above the uproar of the storm. ( 

The sail, having become now a danger rather 
than a means of safety, was promptly lowered, 
the mast unstepped, and all the men, Arnold 
included, took to their oars. 

1 2 



t 

116 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"The time is coming," said the old man, 
" when every one of us must fight for his own 
life as best he may. Let every man think 
beforehand how he will act should the worst 
befall. But the nearer we can get to Brunnen 
the better will be our chances — there is no 
possibility of landing anywhere else — so let us 
struggle on, in God's name, and in full trust in 
His power to help us in this our sore strait. 
And we can pray. Let every man say a prayer 
for himself ; for prayer is a sheet-anchor that 
never fails. It is our surest help in peril, our 
only hope in the hour of death. Is it not so, 
Beckenried ? " 

Arnold bowed his head ; he was too full to 
speak; for Rudolf, wild with terror, and drenched 
to the skin by the wind-tossed spray, was clinging 
convulsively to his father's knees. 

" Take me home ! " screamed the child, " take 
me home to my mother — why cannot we go 
home to mother? Please, dear vaterchen, do 
take me home." 

"I will take you home, Rudy," answered 
Arnold desperately; a we shall soon be at Brunnen, 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



and to-morrow morning we will go back to 
mother." 

But as he uttered these words of hope the 
warning of old Siegfried — "It's ill to sail on the 
lake of Uri with bitterness in the heart " — rang 
in his ears like a portent. 

The four men bend to their oars with the 
desperate energy which the fear of death alone 
can call forth. For awhile they make visible 
and even rapid progress. They can now dis- 
tinguish the white houses of Brunnen, and a 
hearty cheer from Siegfried tells that hope is 
once more in the ascendant. 

" Never say die, lads ! " he shouts. " I tell you 
we shall all sup together this night in Brunnen." 

But as if to give the lie to this confident 
prediction, the Fay at the same instant seems to 
be stricken with sudden paralysis — she sticks fast 
in the water and makes no way whatever. 

" Pull, men, pull ! " cried Arnold, " pull for 
your lives ! " himself at the same time bending 
to the stroke-oar, which he is working, with 
such force that it almost snaps in twain. 

But all was in vain. The bise was raging 



n8 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



with such terrific violence that their uttermost 
efforts availed not to move the Fay one foot in 
advance. All they could do was to keep her 
stationary, and prevent her broaching-to and 
being swamped. 

And then another peril arose. Hundreds of 
trees, broken and thrown down from the moun- 
tains in the Battle of the Winds, were dashing 
madly about, threatening every moment to hurl 
themselves against the boat and shiver it to 
atoms. Arnold seized a boat-hook, and by dint 
of his great strength, aided by a marvellous 
quickness of eye, succeeded for a time in warding 
off this new danger. 

" They can see us from Brunnen now/' said 
Siegfried ; " they will surely not let us perish 
without making an effort to save us." 

" They do — they do see us ! " exclaimed Traugott 
joyfully. " Look there, they are putting off in 
that big boat. A few minutes and they will be 
here " 

" And not a minute too soon," interrupted 
Siegfried, who was watching the movement of 
the trees around them with intense anxiety. 

" Look out, Arnold, look out ! " he shouts 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



excitedly, as a huge pine-trunk makes a wild 
rush towards the starboard side of the boat. 
"Keep her off, men; do the impossible, Beckenried, 
or we are lost." 

When the tree came within reach Arnold 
launched his boat-hook, and made a superhuman 
effort to thrust it aside. He very nearly suc- 
ceeded, but the tree, as it glided past, struck the 
Fay's stern and broke the rudder. The next 
moment the boat was bottom upwards and her 
crew struggling in the water. Arnold, who had 
never lost sight of Rudolf, dived after him as 
he went down, and, rising with the child, held 
fast in one of his arms, struck out for the boat. 
After a desperate struggle, in which he tore off 
all the finger-nails of his right hand, he succeeded 
in getting astride of the keel. Then, pressing 
Rudolfs unconscious form to his bosom, he found 
by the beating of his heart that the boy still 
lived. Looking around for his comrades, he saw 
Traugott and Heinrich clinging to the floating 
trunk of the very pine-tree which had caused 
their disaster ; while Siegfried was a few fathoms 
away, swimming towards the Fay. The boat 
from Brunnen had already gained half the dis- 



i2o TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



tance between themselves and the shore. With 
rescue so near at hand it could hardly be doubted 
that all would yet be well. 

" Courage, Siegfried ! " cried Arnold cheerfully 
to the old man. "Come here alongside, and Til 
give you a leg up. If we can only hold on for 
five or ten minutes — and I think we can — those 
brave fellows from Brunnen will be here with 
their boat ; so keep up your spirits, old friend." 

" Hark ! what is that ? " exclaimed Siegfried, 
in a startled voice, as, seating himself behind 
Arnold, he pointed towards the Seelisberg. 

Above the howling of the wind and the tumult 
of the waters could be faintly heard the sweet 
sound of a church bell, calling the faithful to 
prayer. 

" Ave Maria ! " said the old man solemnly, " it 
is the passing-bell, the bell of the dead. God 
wills that one of us this night shall die. His 
will be done. If the lot should fall on me it 
will only be just ; for by my pride and recklessness 
have your lives been brought into this deadly 
peril. I should have turned back, but I was too 
proud — I was too proud. God forgive me. Ave 
Maria ! Christ have pity ! " 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



As he spoke he raised his hands towards 
heaven, and while his hold was thus relaxed a 
huge billow dashed over the boat and threw him 
again into the water. Arnold, leaning forward 
to help his friend, lost his balance, fell headlong 
into the lake, and, striking in his descent against 
a passing log, sank beneath the flood. 



CHAPTER V. 



AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS. 

An hour later a man was lying on a couch in one 
of the rooms of The William Tell at Brunnen. At 
the head of the couch sat a doctor, watch in hand, 
and with a finger on the man's pulse ; at his foot 
stood the village priest, saying a Latin prayer. 
Several fishermen, their clothes dripping wet, were 
curiously looking on. 

" He will pull through," said the doctor em- 
phatically; "his pulse becomes stronger every 
minute. See, he moves, he opens his eyes." 

" Heaven and the holy Virgin be praised ! " 
exclaimed the priest, fervently clasping his hands. 

" What is it ? where am I ? " muttered Arnold 
Beckenried feebly, as he gazed around with lack- 
lustre eyes. 

Then, in trying to push away the damp hair 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 123 

from his brow, he caught sight of his wounded 
fingers, and remembered all that had happened. 

" Where is my boy — my little Rudolf ? " he 
demanded excitedly, raising himself on his elbow, 
and looking intently into every corner of the 
room. 

All looked at him pityingly, but none answered. 

" Where is my child ? " he asked again, leap- 
ing from the couch and seizing the man nearest 
to him by the shoulders. "I want him, I tell 
you ; I cannot live without him. But " (lowering 
his voice) "you perhaps don't know Rudolf; you 
never saw him. He is a little fellow, only six 
years old ; it was his birthday last month ; but 
he is well grown. His cheeks are rosy, his eyes 
dark, his hair is long and curly, and he has a 
merry smile, and is good and loving withal — the 
dearest, bonniest boy in all the land of Uri. 
What have you done with him ? Maybe he is 
not well with falling in the water? You have 
put him to bed. Take me to him ; let me see 
him. Quick, I beg of you, take me to him." 

"It is time to end this," said one of the fisher- 
men who had been in the Brunnen boat, wiping 
away a tear from his weather-beaten face. " Look 



124 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



here, Beckenried, it may seem a cruel thing to 
say, yet the truth must be told. In this world 
you will never see your boy again. God has 
been good to him : he lies at the bottom of the 
lake with old Siegfried of Sisikon. We saved 
you and the two boatmen, but for the others we 
were too late." 

" No, no, no ! I do not believe it. He is 
on the boat ; he is afloat on some drifting log. 

I will go and look for him ; I will dive ; I 

will Let me go, I say ; nothing shall hinder 

me." And dashing aside the arms that would 
have restrained him, the desperate man rushed 
out of the house, and running down to the waters- 
edge, began to unchain a boat. The fishermen 
followed, pushed him away by main force, and 
dragged him back to the inn. 

" Arnold Beckenried/' said the priest severely, 
"do you know that you are rebelling against 
heaven ? Would you, because you have lost your 
child, throw away your life ? Do you think, if it 
had not been good for you, for your wife, and for 
the little one whom He has taken to Himself, 
God would have visited you with this afflic- 
tion ? " 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 125 



"You are right, father, you are right. I am 
wicked and sinful and rebellious ; it is ill to sail 
on the lake of Uri with bitterness in the heart. 
Poor Helena ! Lend me a coat, some of you, 
and I will hie me home." 

"Go home to-night!" exclaimed one of the 
fishermen. " Know you what like of a night this 
is ? On Uri lake it is blowing a hurricane, and 
not a boatman in Brunnen will take you to Fliielen 
either for love nor money." 

" I do not mean by the lake. I will go on 
foot over the Axen." 

" Impossible ! " said the innkeeper, " it would 
be nothing less than madness. Over the Axen 
on a night like this ! Why, there is not a guide 
in the countryside who would go with you, offer 
him what you might." 

" I want nobody to go with me. Do you take 
me for a cowardly townsman or an idle tourist?" 
exclaimed Arnold indignantly. "Know that I 
am mountain born, and could find my way over 
the Axen blindfold. Will somebody, for pity's 
sake, lend me a coat ? ,J 

" Give him a coat," said the priest, " and let 
him go. It is the best thing that he can do. The 



126 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



very effort will divert his thoughts and help him 
to support his sorrow." 

The coat was speedily found. 

"Go, Beckenried," continued the priest, "and 
may Heaven and the holy Virgin protect thee ! " 

Arnold thanked the priest for his kindness, 
and after expressing his gratitude to the brave 
fellows who had ventured their lives to save his, 
and to the keeper of the inn for his hospitality, he 
set out on his long journey. 

The storm still raged fiercely upon the lake ; 
but as he ascended the mountain its force seemed 
gradually to abate, and the clouds which from 
time to time drifted slowly between earth and 
moon showed that another wind-current was 
beginning to prevail in the upper air, and that a 
change of weather was at hand. The path at 
that hour was utterly deserted, and, save for the 
sound of Arnold's footsteps and the echo of 
falling pebbles, which, dislodged by his tread, 
bounded from rock to rock until they dropped 
with sullen plunge into the waters of the lake, 
the stillness of the night was unbroken. The 
wild animals, terrified by the battle of the winds 
and the fury of the tempest, were hidden in their 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



127 



lairs ; the birds had taken refuge in the depths 
of the forest, and the goatherd had long since 
led his flocks to the fold. Arnold was alone on 
the Axenberg, the only human being, probably, 
on the road between Brunnen and Fluelen. He 
breasted the height without turning to the right 
or the left, without let or pause, with legs firmly 
planted at every step, bent head, and tightly 
clasped hands ; his body full of vigour, his mind 
torn and tossed by bitter thoughts and agonising 
memories. But for him, his pride, his folly, his 
obstinacy, Rudolf might still have been alive. 
True, Helena had not been* kind ; she was unjust, 
proud, and self-willed ; but was he so much 
better than she that he had a right to punish 
her by taking away her child and making him 
the victim of his parents' frowardness ? How 
should he break to Helena the terrible news of 
which he was the bearer, how tell her that her 
boy slept his last sleep in the Urner see, and 
that in the flesh she would never see him more ? 

Agitated by thoughts like these he pursued 
his way. 

Shortly after passing the summit of the 
mountain, he saw to the left of the path a small 



128 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



meadow which, as he knew, overhung the lake, 
and, seized with a sudden impulse to look once 
more on the scene of the tragedy, he entered 
the enclosure, and from the edge of the precipice 
looked into the depths below. Long and passion- 
ately he gazed into the dark seething water, in 
which, as it seemed to him, all the brightness of 
his life lay buried. He pictured his lost boy as 
he appeared only a few hours before — his childish 
beauty, his winning ways, his engaging prattle, 
his affection for Helena and himself — and then 
he pictured him lying stark and stiff at the bottom 
of the lake, never more to see the light of the 
sun, or to be clasped to the hearts of those that 
loved him so well, and who would have died to 
shield him from harm. 

As Arnold turned away from the precipice he 
groaned aloud, and flung a bitter curse at the 
fierce winds and treacherous waters that had 
wrought him and his such terrible misery. Just 
then a cloud was blown away from the face of 
the moon, and he saw before him a rude wooden 
cross, planted there by pious hands, to mark the 
spot where a fatal accident had befallen a poor 
woodcutter. Arnold, like most of the men of 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



129 



Unterwalden and Uri, belonged to the old religion, 
though, like them and all free Switzers, he was 
little given either to over-credulity or superstition ; 
but at this moment he was in a state of intense 
mental excitement ; emotion was in the ascendant. 
He looked upon this apparition of the emblem of 
man's salvation as a sign from heaven, and, throw- 
ing himself at the foot of the cross, poured forth his 
heart in prayer, with a fervour and an abandon- 
ment which are possible only when sorrow and 
affliction have passed with their burning plough- 
shares over the soul. 



K 



CHAPTER VI. 



RECONCILIATION. 



It was*night|in*'the Chalet Hittenberg, but Helena 
slept not. She] had spent a wretched day. Pride 
might stifle the still small voice which told her 
that the misery she endured was of her own 
making, yet it could neither quench her love for 
her husband, nor subdue her yearning for her 
child ; and the fear that her separation from them 
might be lifelong drove her wild with anguish. 
She accused Arnold of cruelty in taking away 
the boy, in her despair almost cursing the man 
whom she still loved, and whom she had 
vowed before God to honour and obey. Then, as 
the day went on, another fear overshadowed her 
soul. The voice of the fohn in the mountains, and 
the swaying of the trees in the forest, told her that 
danger brooded over the lake of Uri, and that all 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 131 

who were sailing on its waters were in deadly peril. 
Arnold and Rudolf had gone with Siegfried of 
Sisikon to Brunnen ; so much she had heard from 
a neighbour who had seen them at Fluelen. 
Would they reach their destination in safety ? 
Should she ever see them again? She knew 
Arnold's courage and Siegfried's obstinacy too 
well to suppose they would abandon the voyage 
at the last moment, or turn back after they had 
once set off. She tried to pray, but could not ; 
her heart was still rebellious and the supplications 
she would fain have spoken remained unuttered. 
When night came she went to bed and tried to 
sleep, but the oblivion she summoned refused to 
come, and her thoughts were so dismal that, long 
before daybreak she rose and went down to the 
common room of the chalet, where she had spent 
so many happy days with her father, her husband, 
and her boy. After pacing to and fro for several 
weary hours, she sat down, and, covering her 
face with her hands, tried to calm the fever of her 
mind. 

The effort is vain, and as the sun rises above 

the mountains, flooding the cottage with the golden 
1 

light of another dawn, Helena lifts her head and 

K 2 



132 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 

looks towards the window near which her husband 
had stood the morning before, when he told her of 
his resolution to break up their home. 

As she looks, she bounds to her feet with a 
cry of terror. Against the window-sill leans a 
man with a haggard ghastly face, dishevelled 
hair, tangled beard, and garments dripping wet. 
In that woebegone creature Helena recognises 
her husband, but whether in the body or out 
of* the body she knows not, and she stands there 
with outstretched arms and fearful eyes, as if turned 
into stone. 

The next moment the door turns on its hinges, 
and Arnold stands before her in the flesh. 

" Helena," he said, " I have come back to you. 
God has punished us for our sins by taking Rudolf 
to himself ; his body lies deep in the Urner see ; 
but his spirit is with the angels in heaven. " 

"And you are his murderer," she was going 
to say, but the cruel words were arrested on 
her lips and remained forever unspoken. 

With a quick gasp and a feeble attempt to 
save himself, Arnold fell heavily on the floor. 
The excitement, the fatigue, and the fasting of 
the previous twenty-four hours had been too much 



THE BATTLE OF THE WINDS. 



133 



even for his robust frame, and he had fainted. 
But Helena thought he was dead. 

The double stroke was more than she could 
bear. At last her proud spirit was conquered ; 
and great as had been her past obstinacy and 
self-will, her present abasement and remorse 
were still greater. 

She knelt, weeping, over Arnold's prostrate 
body ; she raised his head on her lap, and looked 
lovingly on the face over which so fearful a 
change had passed since she last beheld it. 
Then she found that he still lived. She bathed 
his brow with cold water, she plied him with 
restoratives, and in a little while he opened his 
eyes and took her hand in his. 

" Forgive me, Arnold," she cried, "oh forgive 
me. The fault is mine. I drove you away. 
My pride, my obstinacy — my wicked obstinacy 
— have done this evil. I have killed my child — 
I have killed my child." 

" No, Helena ; you have not killed him, any 
more than I have. We did not mean to lead 
him into danger. God has seen fit ^to take him 
away, for our good and his ; let us take the 
lesson to heart." 



134 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



For a long time Helena refused to be com- 
forted, but at length she was brought to see the 
death of her darling in the same light in which 
Arnold saw it, and to admit that affliction 
was sometimes the surest proof of the divine 
love. 

From that time forth the Beckenried house- 
hold ceased to be divided against itself, and the 
peace of Arnold's and Helena's lives was never 
again troubled by warring tempers or domestic 
broils. 

There was no question now of remaining at 
the chalet. The neighbourhood of Fhielen and 
the lake had become hateful to them both. The 
farm in Unterwalden was bought, and they 
settled in one of the most beautiful parts of 
Arnold's native canton. 

After a while God gave them another Rudolf, 
to replace, as far as might be, him whom they 
had lost. But they never forgot their firstborn, 
nor that his loss had been their gain ; for they 
knew that where he had found his early death 
they had found the peace of their lives— in the 
Battle of the Winds on Uri lake. 



THE 

CHATELAIN'S DAUGHTER. 



THE 

CHATELAIN'S DAUGHTER. 



Early on the morning of the 8th of June, 1476, 
being fourteen days before the battle of Morat, 
a mounted peasant galloped in hot haste into the 
court of Chillon Castle. Hurriedly dismounting, 
the horseman demanded instant speech of the 
Chatelain de Chatelard, commandant of the for- 
tress, and governor of Vevey and Tour de Peilz. 

" Here I am, Montchal ; what are your 
tidings ? " said the commandant, coming forward ; 
for albeit the sun was only just risen, he had 
already been afoot an hour or more, visited his 
men-at-arms who were keeping watch and ward 
in the pass, and inspected the garrison of the 
castle. 

" The soldiers of Berne are crossing the 



138 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Jaman," answered the scout, for such he was. 
" In little more than an hour they will be down 
in the valley. Hark to the tocsin ! and see, the 
beacons are ablaze on the summit of the Naye 
and the slopes of the Moine." 

The Chatelain, looking in the direction indi- 
cated by the scout, saw two thin columns of 
smoke curling slowly upward in the clear morn- 
ing air, and listening intently he could hear the 
faint echo of alarm-bells, as the sound was borne 
from tower to tower and from valley to valley. 

Then the Baron de Gingins, Chatelain of 
Chatelard, knew that the lords of Berne were 
about to wreak the vengeance they had so fiercely 
threatened. A short time previously the towns 
of Vevey and Tour de Peilz had allowed free 
passage to a body of Italian soldiers, on their 
way to the camp of Charles the Bold of Bur- 
gundy, then at war with the confederate cantons. 
Taking offence at this proceeding, which they 
regarded as a breach of neutrality, the govern- 
ment of Berne gave orders to Zurkinden, Vogt 
of High Simmenthal, to lay siege to Tour de 
Peilz, and give it and Vevey over to pillage, 
and put the inhabitants and the garrison to the 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



139 



sword — a command all the more easy of execu- 
tion, as the country about Lake Leman was just 
then almost denuded of Savoyard troops. 

Although Pierre de Gingins was entrusted 
with the defence of two strong places and an 
open town, and had to take thought, moreover, 
for his own castle of Chatelard, he disposed 
only of a few score men-at-arms and two or 
three hundred archers of Lavaux. His father, 
the Sire de Belmont, with a force equally slender, 
held the Chablais of Vaud ; while the defence of 
Upper Chablais had been confided to the Sire 
de Miolans, whose troops were composed chiefly 
of vassals of the Count of Geneva, at that time 
lord of the country and deputy of the Duke of 
Savoy. But De Miolans, tempted by the pro- 
mises, and corrupted by the gold, of the crafty 
king of France, deserted his post, and leaving 
his troops to their fate, withdrew into Dauphiny. 
The Chatelain of Chatelard was thus left to bear 
unaided the brunt of the Bernese onslaught, and 
make head against it as he best might. 

After hearing the scout's report, asking him 
two or three pointed questions, and giving a few 
minutes to reflection, De Gingins ordered the 



140 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



men who were with him, save the handful necessary 
for the defence of Chillon, to fall back on Tour 
de Peilz; and then, mounting a swift horse, he 
himself hastened thither at full speed, to prepare 
the garrison for the attack, which he knew would 
be a formidable one, and might tax all their 
resources and their utmost energy successfully to 
oppose. 

Tour de Peilz at the time in question was a 
small town, walled and moated, and further de- 
fended by a citadel, whose rounded and ivy- 
mantled keep still exists, and lends an additional 
attraction to one of the most charming landscapes 
on the shores of Lake Leman. It was founded 
in 1234, by Peter of Savoy, known to his con- 
temporaries as the " little Charlemagne/' the builder 
of Chillon. Under Peter's successor the popula- 
tion of the place, owing to the advantages of 
its site and the favour of the House of Savoy, 
rapidly increased in importance and extent, and 
at the opening of our story Tour de Peilz was 
at the height of its fortunes. 

When the Chatelain reached the Chillon gate 
he found the drawbridge that spanned the moat 
already lowered and the guard standing to their 



THE CHATELAIN'S DAUGHTER 



141 



arms ; for long before his arrival they had recog- 
nised his black steed and glittering armour ; and 
by the speed at which he rode they knew that 
their lord's business was one that brooked not 
delay. 

"To arms!" cried De Gingins as he galloped 
over the bridge. " To arms ; every man to his post ; 
load the culverins ; man the ramparts ; hoist the 
banner of Savoy on the outward wall. Before noon 
the Swiss will be upon us, before nightfall the 
town will be encompassed on every side ! " 

Then, entering the castle, he called round him 
his principal officers, gave his orders in detail, 
and, telling them how little of mercy they had 
to hope for from a foe whose object was rather 
vengeance than conquest, exhorted them, as their 
only means of safety, and by their duty to their 
prince, to offer a vigorous resistance, cheering 
them with promise of a victory — albeit in his 
heart he hardly believed victory possible. 

"And now," he continued, after he had dis- 
missed the officers to their stations, "let somebody 
bring hither Siegfried, my major-domo." 

Meanwhile the Chatelain, still mounted on 
his black charger, anxiously watched the progress 



142 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



of the preparations he had ordered. Pierre de 
Gingins was a man of commanding presence — 
tall, spare, and middle-aged; pale, dark-browed, 
and stern of feature. A smile played about his 
lips, an attempt at cheerfulness that the sadness 
of his fine black eyes sorely belied. His general 
expression was that of a man oppressed with care 
and saddened by a foreboding of coming ill. 

" I am here, my lord/' said a thick guttural 
voice at his elbow. 

The Baron looked round and, notwithstanding 
his preoccupation, the sight he saw made him 
almost laugh. The speaker was Siegfried, his 
major-domo, a great mountain of a fellow, fat 
as two Falstaffs rolled into one, and with a 
face that might have served a painter as a model 
for the face of a Silenus. He was swaying to and 
fro, and trying to balance himself first on one 
leg and then on another — an attempt in which 
he signally and ludicrously failed. 

"Oh, you are trying if you are sober, are 
you ? " said his master. " You may save your- 
self the trouble, for I give you my word of 
honour that you are about as drunk as I have 
ever seen you. What have you been doing?" 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



" Bottling the Vin de Montreux, my lord ; the 
very finest wine I ever tasted. In two years' time, 
my lord, it will be fit for the duke — fit for the 
kaiser — yea, fit for the gods to drink. Let me 
fetch a goblet for your lordship to taste." 

" Two years ! " exclaimed the Chatelain scorn- 
fully. " Where shall we all be in two years, 
think you — in two days even ? Hear you not the 
ringing of the tocsin, and the call to arms ? Your 
countrymen, under Vogt Zurkinden, are marching 
against us, and if they attack the town, as they 
threaten, and you fall into their hands, they will 
hang you like a dog, and not leave a single drop 
of your wine undrunk. So look to yourself, 
Siegfried. Where is the Lady Bertha ? " 

" In the chapel, my lord," answered the major- 
domo, in a trembling voice, for the news he had 
just heard sorely troubled him. 

" Here, varlet," said the Chatelain to a groom, 
who stood by, "hold my horse/' and, without 
giving further heed to Siegfried, he entered the 
castle. 

" Ten thousand devils ! " muttered the major- 
domo, as with blanched face and unsteady gait he 
followed his master. "The Vogt of Simmenthal 



144 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



coming ! What his lordship says is true. If he 
takes the town — and take it he will — and finds me, 
Berner born, among these cursed Savoyards, the 
least I can hope for will be a short shrift and a 
long rope. I will get me into the cellar, and hide 
me behind that butt of Burgundy in the far corner. 
They will want sharp eyes that find me. And 
I will hide there till the hurly-burly is done, and 
Zurkinden has gone back over the Jaman." 

As the iron heel of the Chatelain rang on the 
flagged floor of the little octagon chapel in the east 
turret, Bertha rose from her prie-dien and turned 
to greet him. Tall, above the usual height of her 
sex, and of noble presence, the lady of Chatelard, 
albeit she had only seen twenty summers, wore 
a look little less grave than that of her gallant 
father. Her eyes, like his, were dark, her cheeks as 
delicately coloured as an Alpine rose, and her long 
black hair covered her shoulders like a veil. 

"What has happened, my father?" she 
said, as the Baron touched her fair cheeks with 
his lips ; for she knew that for no light cause 
would the Chatelain enter the chapel in full 
armour. She lived, moreover, in a troubled time; 
she had heard of the threat of the lords of 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



Berne, and, though of high courage, past ex- 
perience had made her constantly apprehensive 
of evil. 

" Zurkinden and the Swiss are within an hour's 
march of the town, my Bertha. Ere this they have 
probably crossed the Naye. They have orders to 
storm Tour de Peilz, and punish us for having 
obeyed the command of our prince ; which means 
that, if the place falls into their hands, they will 
put the garrison to the sword and pillage the 
town. But have no fear, we shall send these 
gentlemen back to Berne faster than they came. 
We will give them such a reception that those of 
them who survive will never, as long as they live, 
forget the Tour and its chatelain. Meanwhile, 
my dear child, I want you to stay with your 
maidens in the east turret, where you will be free 
from danger. When the fight waxes warm come 
here to the chapel, and pray God and his holy 
saints to give us the victory. Heaven bless you 
and guard you, my Bertha. Since your mother 
and brother perished in that terrible storm on 
the lake you have become doubly dear to me. 
You only are left me to love." 

"And there is none but you for me to love, 

L 



146 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



my father," exclaimed Bertha, throwing her arms 
passionately round her father's neck. "Let me 
go with you, let me ride by your side to the 
ramparts. I cannot, cannot remain here, and 
know that you are in deadly peril." 

"That may not be, my Bertha," said the 
Chatelain, folding her in his arms, and imprinting 
a loving kiss on the girl's upturned brow. "It 
is a woman's place to watch and pray, a man's 
to pray and fight. But fear not, I will go into 
no unnecessary danger, and Hubert shall bring 
you at least every hour news of the strife." 

And then the Chatelain, after giving his 
daughter a last embrace, and conducting her 
to the altar, where she sank on her knees before 
the image of Christ, left the chapel. 

As he entered the castle yard he was met 
by one of his officers, who informed him that 
the look-out on the north tower reported that 
the banners of Berne were in sight. 

" So soon ! " said the Chatelain. " It is 
Zurkinden's advance - guard ; the main body 
cannot be here for an hour or two more. 
How speed our preparations ? " 

" Fairly, my lord baron. The archers of 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



Lavaux have arrived, and are at their posts ; 
the cannoniers are getting their pieces into 
position ; the matchlock men are casting bullets ; 
water is running fast into the moat. JE daresay 
we shall be ready as soon as the Swiss are, 
Do you think they will hazard an attack to- 
night ? " 

"They will be very eager, I daresay, and 
they are fully aware of their strength and our 
weakness ; but an attack before to-morrow would 
be the merest foolhardiness ; and Zurkinden is 
no fool. I wish he were. They have had a 
long march ; they want rest ; they must invest 
the town and place their engines. All this will 
take time. No, they cannot deliver an assault 
before to-morrow's sunset, at the soonest. Never- 
theless, my brave Berthaud, it behoves us to 
complete our preparations with all possible speed, 
Let us to the western rampart, for there, I fear, 
is our weakest point." 

Long after her father had left the chapel, 
Bertha remained prostrate before the altar, 
only rising from her knees when the clang 
of arms, the tramping of horses, the hoarse 
shouts of the Swiss, and the answering cheers 

L 2 



148 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



of the garrison, told her that the foe was before 
the walls. 

Then she withdrew to her chamber in the 
east turret and sat there alone, buried in deep 
thought, until the sun, after crowning the snowy 
heads of the Chablaisian alps with crimson glory, 
disappeared behind a mass of purple cloud that 
hung over the summit of Mount Jorat. The 
fall of night seemed to rouse her from her reverie. 
She rang a silver bell which stood on the table 
at her side. One of her maidens answered the 
summons. 

" What would you, my lady ? " asked the 
maiden. 

"Send hither Hubert, my page, and bring 
me a lamp.'' 

In a few minutes Hubert, a handsome and 
stalwart youth, only a year or two younger than 
Bertha herself, appeared. 

" What are your tidings, Hubert ? " she asked ; 
" when say they the attack will begin ? " 

" It is the opinion of Monsieur Berthaud, 
Lady Bertha, as I just heard him say to my lord, 
your father, that the Swiss will deliver their 
first assault to-morrow morning at sunrise. They 



THE CHA TELAIN'S DAUGHTER. 



149 



have brought fascines, and planks, and ladders, 
and are beyond all doubt making ready to 
bridge over the moat, and take us by escalade ; 
but they seem to have no artillery, and with 
our bombards and culverins — though they are of 
small calibre and our garrison is so weak — 
Monsieur Berthaud is confident that we shall 
beat them off with ease." 

"Thank you, my good Hubert. You are a 
bearer of brave tidings. I shall perhaps be able 
now to take a few hours' sleep. But early in 
the morning bring me tidings of the fight." 

" Before sunrise I will be on the ramparts, 
and every hour you shall know how speeds the 
strife/' 

" Every half-hour, my good Hubert, every 
half-hour." 

" Be it so, Lady Bertha ; your word is law 
— my law." 

Hardly had the first rays of the sun on the 
following morning gilded the snow -crested 
summits of the Alps, when the page again 
presented himself in the east turret. 

The Swiss were developing their plan of 
attack, he said. They had been at work during 

t 



ISO TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 

the night and bridged the moat in three places ; 
the first at the north-east angle of the town, 
the second opposite the principal gate, the third 
at the south-east angle: Thus three assaults 
might be delivered at once by three different 
storming -parties, any one of which would be 
superior in numbers to the whole of the garrison. 
"If they had artillery," added Hubert, "I am 
afraid it would go hard with us. Hark! the 
combat has begun." 

And then Bertha heard, not for the first 
time, the terrible din of war. Bombards boomed 
from the ramparts, arrows hurtled through the 
air, men shouted and cursed and shouted again, 
horses neighed and stamped, the ring of steel 
against steel showed that some of the Swiss had 
already mounted the wall, and as they were 
hurled back into the moat their death screams 
were heard even in the chamber of the Chatelaines 
daughter. 

" Oh Hubert, this is unbearable," exclaimed 
Bertha, with flashing eyes. "I cannot stay here 
like a helpless child while my father is in danger 
of his life. I will go to him and fight by his 
side. Fetch me hither a suit of armour." 



THE CHA TELA IN' S DAUGHTER. 151 



"Oh Lady Bertha, it cannot be. Do not 
think of such a thing, I pray you. What would 
my lord, your father, say ? " 

"I will answer to my father, Hubert. Do 
as I bid you. Are you not my page,/ sworn to 
obey my least command ? How dare you to 
hesitate ? Go, I say." 

It was impossible to gainsay an order so 
peremptorily given. Hubert went to the armoury 
and selected a suit of armour which he thought 
might not be too heavy for the delicate, yet 
far from feeble, limbs of his fair mistress. 

With the help of her maidens and her page 
Lady Bertha was arrayed in cuirass, greaves, 
helmet, and gauntlets of iron ; and after being 
girt with a slender sword of Toledo steel, she 
descended, followed by her page, who was also 
fully armed, to the outer court of the castle. 
Then her horse, a black Spanish jennet, was 
fetched, and, still accompanied by her faithful 
attendant, she hastened to the principal gate of 
the town, whither she arrived at the very moment 
that the brave archers of Lavaux had repulsed 
an attack led by Zurkinden in person. 

" Glorious ! " exclaimed Bertha, waving her 



152 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



sword, as she joined her father ; " down with the 
bear of Berne ! See how they run ! Will you not 
let the men-at-arms pursue them, father ? " 

" You here, Bertha ! " said the Chatelain in a 
surprised and almost angry voice. " Did I not 
bid you remain with your maidens in the east 
turret ? " 

"I could not bear to be separated from you, 
father. How was it possible for me, when I heard 
the sounds of war, and knew that you were 
fighting for honour and life, to fold my hands 
and tell my beads, and hide in my chamber ? 
You forget whose blood runs in my veins, my 
lord baron." 

" Be it so, Bertha/' answered the Chatelain, 
who, stern soldier as he was, had never in all 
his life had the courage to chide his daughter ; u I 
cannot say nay to so bold a spirit. I think, too, 
the danger is almost past. We have repulsed all 
their attacks as yet. The courage of our men is 
high, and Zurkinden's losses are so heavy that, 
seeing he has no artillery, he will hardly venture 
to attempt another assault." 

But even as the commandant spoke the ranks 
of the Swiss — who by this time had recovered 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



153 



from their confusion — opened, and disclosed to 
view two large bombards, which had been trans- 
ported with immense difficulty over the mountains 
from Berne. 

Then Pierre de Gingins knew that he was 
fighting for a lost cause — that Tour de Peilz 
was doomed,, for its old gates and ramparts were 
in no condition to resist modern engines of war. 
The bombards were planted opposite the Chillon 
gate. Their fire, directed against the towers by 
which it was defended, soon rendered them un- 
tenable, and the valorous archers of Lavaux, whose 
arrows could not reach the artillerists, had to be 
withdrawn. The gate and the flanking walls did 
not long withstand the besiegers' fire, and while 
Zurkinden made at this point his chief attack a 
strong force was told off to escalade the eastern 
rampart, whose principal defenders had perforce 
been called away to make head against the main 
attack. The device succeeded, and while the 
Chatelain was warmly engaged with the main 
body of the enemy in his front, who, after bat- 
tering down the gates with their guns were 
advancing to the attack in overwhelming numbers, 
one of his officers came in hot haste to tell him 



154 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



that a second storming-party were pouring over 
the eastern wall, and that he would soon be taken 
between two fires. 

Bertha and Hubert were still by the Chatelain's 
side. They had done good service as aides-de- 
camp ; more than once, indeed, they had plunged 
into the thickest of the fight, and the crimson 
stains on the page's sword showed that he had 
not used it in vain. Bertha bore herself right 
nobly. She encouraged the men-at-arms by voice 
and gesture. Fired by her example they fought 
like heroes. Every time the Swiss made a rush 
at the gate they were driven back with great loss, 
and had it not been for the success of the second 
attack the defenders, in spite of Zurkinden's artil- 
lery, might perhaps have held their own, or, at 
least, have kept the foe at bay until nightfall, and 
so have given the town's people and the garrison 
time to escape by the lake. As it was, when the 
Chatelain heard that the foe had gained the 
eastern rampart he ordered his men to fall back 
towards the citadel. 

"All that we can do now," he said to those 
about him, "is to sell our lives as dearly as 
possible. Better to die fighting than to be hanged 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 155 



in cold blood by those butchers of Berne, for a 
quick stab or a long rope is all the mercy we 
may expect from them. Bertha/' he continued, 
turning to his daughter, " promise me that you 
will not fall into the hands of tlfe brutal 
Swiss " 

"Alive? I promise, my father. Have no 
fear, Bertha of Chatelard will show herself worthy 
of her father and the race from which she springs." 

" That is spoken like my daughter, and a true 
Chatelard. But you are young to die, my child. 
May it please God and the holy Virgin to 
spare Ah ! " 

Pierre de Gingins threw up his arms and 
bounding convulsively in his saddle fell for- 
ward on the neck of his horse, a dead man. A 
bolt from a crossbow had pierced his brain. 

The Savoyard men-at-arms, discouraged by 
the death of their leader, now rapidly gave way. 
F01* a few minutes Bertha remained by the side 
of her dead father. She even refused to leave 
him, and would have been captured by the Swiss, 
who were by this time advancing from two sides, 
had not the page seized her horse's bridle and 
forcibly led her aw r ay. 



i S 6 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" The Berners have taken the town ; they have 
killed your noble father/' he exclaimed; "what 
will it profit to let them kill you also ; or, still 
worse, to take you alive ? " 

Bertha, too much overcome by grief to have 
any will of her own, yielded to her page's advice, 
and rallying a few of the archers of Lavaux, who 
had formed the Chatelain's escort during the day, 
Hubert succeeded in gaining the citadel. But 
the Swiss were close behind them, and as the 
Savoyards were too few to offer a successful 
resistance they could only hope for a short respite. 

After barring the ponderous door, the page 
led the way to the chapel in the east turret. 

" What are you about to do, Hubert ? " asked 
Bertha, rousing herself for a moment from her 
stupor of grief. 

" Escape ! " 

" But it is not possible. Listen ; the Swiss are 
even now breaking in the door." $ 

" Never fear, Lady Bertha. In a few minutes 
we shall be beyond their reach. See here/' and as 
the page spoke he produced a coil of rope, with 
which he had provided himself on entering the 
castle. 



THE CHATELAINES DAUGHTER. 



157 



Then, going to a window overlooking the lake, 
he ordered two of the soldiers to break it in with 
their halberds. This done, he lowered Bertha by 
means of the rope to the water's-edge. In a few 
minutes himself and the archers were by her side. 
A large boat was moored hard by, into which they 
all entered, and Hubert, directing the men to take 
each an oar, placed himself at the helm, and they 
pushed off into the lake*. 

"We are safe now/ exclaimed the page. 
"Did I not say we should balk them?" 

" But have we balked them ? " said one of 
the archers. " See ! they are running down to the 
water — they have got a boat ! They are going to 
follow us ! " 

" Let them follow us," answered the page. 
" They cannot overtake us. If they do we shall 
be quite a match for them ; and before they can 
find and man another boat we shall be halfway 
across the lake." 

It was soon evident that, as Hubert said, the 
Swiss had no chance of overtaking the fugitives. 
Their boat was heavier, and their men were less 
expert with the oars than the archers of Lavaux, 
who were as much at home on water as on land. 



158 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Go a little slower," ordered the page ; * let 
them believe they can overtake us. We will try 
to avenge on these ruffians the death of our noble 
Chatelain." 

This was done. When the pursuers saw that 
they were gaining on the fugitives they redoubled 
their exertions, for they knew that Bertha of 
Chatelard was in the boat, and they had been 
strictly charged by Zurkinden to bring her back, 
dead or alive. Meanwhile Hubert, after handing 
the tiller to Bertha, had armed himself with a 
crossbow, and directed all the archers save two 
to be ready on a given signal to follow his 
example. Then, so soon as he judged the Berners 
to be well within bowshot, he gave the [word, and 
a shower of bolts was let fly among them, killing 
two outright and wounding two others. One-half 
their boat's-crew were thus hors de combat, and 
there was nothing for the survivors to do but 
hasten shoreward with all possible speed. Hubert, 
albeit much disposed, did not deem it prudent to 
follow them, and the Savoyards continued their 
voyage unmolested to the Chablais side of the 
lake. 

They alone escaped. All the other survivors 



THE CHA TELAIN'S DAUGHTER. 



of the garrison were hanged ; Siegfried, the major- 
domo, alone excepted. He was found helplessly- 
drunk behind the butt of Burgundy, where he had 
hidden himself at the beginning of the fight ; and, 
as no rope could be found strong enough to bear 
his weight, he was put into a boat, taken into deep 
water and thrown overboard, not even being 
allowed the short shrift, which, had hanging been 
his fate, would probably have been granted 
him. 

All the inhabitants of Vevey and Tour de 
Peilz, who had not left before these places fell 
into the hands of the Swiss, were pitilessly put 
to the sword, and their houses, after being pil- 
laged, burnt to the ground. The keep, whose 
sturdy walls not even the torch could destroy, 
was alone left standing. For several years after 
Zurkinden's fated visit Tour de Peilz and Vevey 
were left desolate and unpeopled. 

Bertha found a refuge in the castle of St. Pal, 
a possession of the Sieur de Blonay. She mourned 
bitterly her father's death, and in the following 
year, shortly after being told that Hubert the 
page had perished in the disastrous battle of 
Nancy, while fighting in the ranks of the Bur- 



j6o TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



gundian army — she was taken from a world 
where she had known so many sorrows, to join 
in the heavenly kingdom those who had gone 
before. 

[The siege and destruction of Vevey and Tour 
de Peilz, the massacre of their inhabitants, and the 
death of the Chatelain de Chatelard, are historic 
facts. According to tradition, eight men of the 
garrison only escaped. The house of De Gingins 
is one of the oldest, and was once one of the most 
powerful, in canton Vaud. It has produced dis- 
tinguished soldiers, statesmen, and scholars. The 
De Gingins were seigneurs of Divonne, Montreux, 
Fernex, Gingins, Genollier, and Belmont, co- 
seigneurs of Vevey, Chatelains of Chatelard, and 
barons of La Sarraz. The chateau of Chatelard 
is now the property of the Marquis Dubochet ; but 
the ancient and picturesque castle of La Sarraz 
still belongs to a Baron de Gingins, who is 
descended in a direct line from Jean de Gingins 
(father of Pierre, killed at the siege of Tour de 
Peilz) and Marguerite, baroness of La Sarraz, 
herself a descendant of the puissant princes of 
Grandson.] 



THE 

SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 



M 



THE SPITTLER OF THE 
GRIMSEL. 



In 1557, the landschaft (district) of Oberhasli, 
with a view to facilitate travel between the 
cantons of Berne, Uri, and the Valais, built 
a Hospice on the Grimsel pass, ^at a height of 
5750 feet above the sea-level, and placed therein 
a spittler, or steward, who was charged to keep 
the road clear of snow, and provide meat, drink, 
and lodging for such travellers as had need 
thereof, so far as the weather and his receipts 
might permit. Travellers who had the means were 
expected to pay their score, but nothing was to be 
asked from the poor. To meet the expenses thus 
incurred the spittler was empowered to take up a col- 
lection throughout Switzerland; and all god-fearing 
people, especially those who had occasion to make 

m 2 



164 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



alpine journeys in winter, subscribed freely to so 
pious a work. The spittler was further rewarded 
by the benedictions of the hundreds of wayfarers 
whom he succoured ; for none ever left the friendly 
shelter of the Hospice without uttering a fervent 
Vergelt de's Gott ! 

For some three hundred years these were the 
duties — with the liability thrown in of being 
snowed up half the year, crushed by an avalanche* 
if they stayed in, or eaten by wolves if they went 
out — of the Grimsel spittlers ; their recompense : 
scant pay, many blessings, and an approving 
conscience. But the present century wrought a 
wondrous change in their fortunes, and those of 
the Hospice. Switzerland came into vogue as the 
playground of Europe. Every summer a fructi- 
fying stream of gold flowed over the pass, the rude 
alpine caravanserai became a modern hotel, and the 
Hospice, instead of being a charge on the landschaft, 
produced a handsome addition to its revenues. 

* On March 22nd, 1838, the Hospice was overwhelmed by 
an avalanche, which broke through the roof and floors, and 
filled every room but that occupied by the man in charge, 
who succeeded with great difficulty in working his way 
through the snow, and, together with his dog, his only 
companion, reached Meiringen in safety. 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 165 



The best known and most remarkable of the 
new spittlers of the Grimsel, men who paid rent, 
and were hotel-keepers rather than stewards, was 
Peter Zybach. Peter took the house in 1836, in 
succession to Herr Leuthold, whose daughter he 
had married. Zybach was a good specimen of a 
thrifty energetic Switzer, and under his manage- 
ment the Hospice acquired an almost European 
celebrity, and himself and his family a wide 
popularity. Though only the leaseholder he 
greatly improved the property at his own cost, 
increased the number of bedrooms to a hundred, en- 
larged the dining-room, and fitted up the house for 
the accommodation of well-to-do travellers. The 
domestic arrangements were left to his wife, his son, 
and his daughters, while himself looked after the out- 
side concerns — the little farm that formed part of his 
take, and the mules, horses, carriages, and drivers, 
which in the summer season were always coming 
and going. But as he knew the country well, having 
in his younger days been a bold cragsman and 
ardent chamois hunter, he was always appealed to 
when a traveller or "pass-man" wanted information 
about routes, mountain-paths, the condition of the 
glaciers, or the prospects of the weather, of which 



i66 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



he was esteemed an almost infallible judge. Peter 
had a fine family of sons and daughters, who were 
almost as widely known as himself. His eldest son 
was the indoor manager. His comely daughters, 
clad in the picturesque costume of old Berne, acted 
as waiters ; and the eldest of them, besides being 
conversant with literary German, spoke fluently 
the English and French tongues. 

The visitors'-book was quite a curiosity. It 
contained a poem by Toepfifer, the renowned 
Genevan poet ; clever Greek verses in praise of the 
Hospice, by a celebrated German professor ; 
queer Latin ones in praise of Zybach's daughters, 
by rollicking German students ; and the auto- 
graphs of many Englishmen of rank and fashion. 
Agassiz, Desor, and Hugi had w r ritten in the 
book descriptions of their excursions among the 
peaks, passes, and glaciers of the neighbouring 
Alps ; and Karl Vogt contributed a treatise on 
the eggs of the Philodina roseola, and that curious 
creature the glacier flea (Desoria glacialis). 

Zybach enjoyed, moreover, the rare distinction 
of being a prophet in his own country. He was 
as much esteemed by his neighbours as by his 
guests. Bound by his contract with the land- 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 167 



schaft to keep the house open all the year round, 
he performed his duties of good Samaritan so 
generously, was so good to the poor, and so 
public-spirited withal, that his name was held 
in honour in the cantons of Berne, Uri, and 
Valais, and in all the region of the Helvetic 
Alps. During the sixteen years of their tenure 
of the Hospice there was probably in the whole 
of Switzerland no happier family than the 
Zybachs, none whose future seemed brighter 
or more assured. But, in 1852, there befell a 
terrible calamity, which brought ruin and degra- 
dation in its train, marred their fair prospects 
for ever, and made the name of Zybach as 
painfully notorious as it had once been widely 
respected. 

In 1852 it became a question of renewing 
Zybach's lease, which expired at the end of the 
following year. That it would be renewed the 
spittler made no doubt, for he had come to look 
upon the house as virtually his own. He was 
attached to the place ; he counted on ending his 
days there ; he hoped that his son would be 
spittler after him, and that the Hospice would be 
a living for his children when he was gone. But 



1 68 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Zybach was too popular and prosperous not to 
have enemies, some of whom held high office in 
the landschaft. When he requested a renewal 
of his lease, unexpected difficulties arose. Under 
the old lease he had paid a rent of two thousand 
five hundred and thirty-six francs, including the 
privilege of making a collection throughout Swit- 
zerland for the maintenance of the Hospice in the 
winter months. In effect, therefore, the land- 
schaft sold the right of asking alms, and made a 
profit by pleading poverty. But however much 
they made they wanted to make more ; and on 
the ground that the Hospice had greatly improved 
in value they demanded a considerable increase 
of rent. Zybach admitted the improvement, but 
asserted that it was almost entirely due to his 
own outlay and his own exertions, and offered 
three thousand francs a-year. This offer was re- 
fused with something like contempt. Angry words 
followed, and a few days afterwards Zybach was 
told that the landschaft had found another spittler, 
and that he must give up possession of the Hospice 
on the expiration of his lease. 

This was a terrible blow to Zybach. Leaving 



THE SPITTLER OF THE G RIMS EL. 169 



the Grimsel seemed to him like the end of the 
world. He had been the spittler sixteen years ; 
his name was identified with the Hospice ; it had 
been mentioned in scores of guide-books ; he 
had friends all over Europe ; he was held in high 
honour by his neighbours, and looked upon him- 
self — with reason — as the first man in that part 
of the country. Who was there in the Bernese 
Oberland, in Uri, in the Valais, or even in Lucerne, 
that had not heard of Peter Zybach ? And now 
in his old age — he was verging on seventy — he 
was threatened with the loss of the position he 
had so arduously won and of which he was so 
justly proud. And this was not all : heavy pecu- 
niary loss stared him in the face. In the belief 
that his lease would be renewed he had been at 
great expense in enlarging, and otherwise improv- 
ing, the Hospice — an expense in respect of which 
he had no legal claim for compensation from the 
landschaft ; and he knew the landschaft too well 
to expect anything from their goodwill. All these 
things preyed on Zybach's mind. A man natu- 
rally of genial disposition and a cheerful counte- 
nance, he became dull, morose, and heavy^eyed. 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



His fits of despondency, varied by occasional 
savage outbreaks of temper, made those about 
him fear for his sanity. 

He came one night to his wife, as she after- 
wards told, crying bitterly, wringing his hands, 
and begging of her to save him. 

"Save thee from what, my poor Peter?" she 
asked. 

But that he could not tell, or would not, and 
the alarming thought occurred to her that her 
husband might be meditating suicide. 

This was the position of things at the end 
of the season of 1852, when the Zybachs, in 
accordance with their usual custom, broke up 
their summer establishment, dismissed their fifty 
or sixty domestics, and went to Oberstein, near 
Meiringen, where they generally passed the winter. 
Three men-servants (winterkneckle, as they were 
called) were left in charge of the Hospice, the 
spittler being bound by his contract to keep the 
house open all the year round. 

After the removal to Oberstein Peter became 
a little less gloomy and more like his former self, 
and in the middle of November he went on a 
journey into the Valais. 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 171 



The day after his departure one of the knechte 
came to Oberstein with the startling news that 
the Hospice had been burnt to the ground. The 
fire had broken out in the night, he said, and it 
burnt so fiercely and so fast that he and his com- 
panions had barely time to escape with their 
lives, and they feared that a poor traveller who 
was lodging in the house, and to whose impru- 
dence they had reason to believe the fire was 
due, had perished in the flames. At anyrate, he 
had not been seen since, and the fire broke out 
in that part of the building where he slept. 

So soon as news of the disaster reached Zybach 
in the Valais he returned home in all haste, and 
after visiting the ruined Hospice and conferring 
with his servants, he sent, as in duty bound, 
notice of the fire to the statthalter (justice of 
the peace) at Oberhasli, and to the insurance 
companies concerned. The building was insured 
by the landschaft, the contents by Zybach him- 
self ; but as he was not fully covered, and would 
in any event be a heavy loser, much sympathy 
was felt for the spittler in the cruel misfortune 
that had overtaken him. 

A few days after the fire the statthalter, accom- 



172 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



panied by the representatives of the two insurance 
companies in which the Hospice and furniture 
were insured, made an official visit of inspection 
to the Grimsel. They found the Hospice a com- 
plete ruin. A few articles only, of which the 
value might be two thousand francs, had been 
saved. No trace of the body of the stranger who 
was said to have perished could be found. This 
circumstance, the manner of the three men, certain 
inconsistencies in their statements, and one or 
two other signs, suggested to the minds of the 
statthalter some very unpleasant suspicions, and 
after taking counsel with the insurance agents, 
it was resolved that they should return the fol- 
lowing day, bring their own men, and make a 
thorough search of the premises. 

They went a second time accordingly. Peter 
Zybach was there to meet them, but only two 
of the servants were present. The third had 
disappeared. 

This was another suspicious circumstance. Still 
more suspicious was the finding, in a midden be- 
hind the house, of fourteen cases of wine and 
spirits, four casks of beer, and a number of 
cheeses, hidden in a heap of hay. 



THE SPITTLE 7? OF THE GRIMSEL. 173 



Zybach did not seem in the least disconcerted. 
He accounted for the presence of the wine in the 
midden by explaining that it had been put there 
to preserve it from the frost, a thing that was" 
always done in the beginning of winter. In his 
preoccupation the day before, he had forgotten to 
mention the circumstance, an inadvertence for 
which he thought he might well be excused. 

" And the cheeses were put in the hay to keep 
them from the mice, I suppose," said the statt- 
halter grimly, as he made a sign to his men to 
continue the search. 

In an outhouse other things were found — furni- 
ture, bedding, cases of glass and pottery— and 
behind the rocks on the Seematteli, hard by the 
tarn, still more were unearthed. 

The statthalter, now fully convinced not only 
that the Hospice had been purposely destroyed, 
but that the spittler himself had planned the deed, 
remarked, with a pitying surprised look : u I am 
sorry for you, Zybach ; you are a very unfortunate 
man." 

On this, Zybach's assumed composure com- 
pletely left him. He seemed for the first time 
to realise the terrible position in which he stood — 



174 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



for by the law of Berne the doom of fire-raising 
was death. He turned as pale as the snowflakes 
on the rocks, heavy drops of sweat rolled down 
his cheeks. He tried to speak, but could not, 
and then, throwing up his hands with a gesture 
of despair, he ran forward a few paces and plunged 
head foremost into the dark waters of the tarn. 
One of the men dived after him ; he was rescued 
in a lifeless condition, and with great difficulty 
restored to consciousness. 

After this incident the statthalter thought it 
his duty to give Zybach into custody, and the 
spittler was removed to Meiringen, where he was 
examined and committed for trial at the ensuing 
Thun assizes. 

The three knechte were also arrested, and 
committed for trial. Before the trial came on 
they all made a full confession. The names of 
them were Caspar Alpanalp, Heinrich Alpanalp, 
and Heinrich Blatter. The two former were 
brothers ; Blatter was their brother-in-law. Caspar 
Alpanalp, who had been in Zybach's service fifteen 
years, deposed that, shortly after the spittler had 
engaged him as one of the winterknechte, he took 
him aside one day and said that he wanted the 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 175 



Hospice to be burnt down — not to hurt anybody, but 
in order that he might build another and a better 
house, and find employment in the following 
spring for the working people of the neighbour- 
hood. If Caspar would lend a helping hand he 
should have seven hundred and fifty francs for his 
trouble. Caspar, after some hesitation, accepted 
the offer, stipulating, however, that he should not 
be called upon actually to set the house on fire. 
He must draw the line somewhere, and he drew 
it at applying the torch. For this part of the 
business he recommended his brother-in-law, 
Blatter, who, having served in the armies of 
France, Holland, and Naples, might be presumed 
to possess fewer scruples — and more experience 
in the art of fire-raising — than folks that had spent 
all their lives in the Oberland. Blatter, on being 
sounded by Zybach, expressed himself quite 
willing to undertake the job and keep silence 
afterwards. He was a poor man with a large 
family, and the tender of seven hundred and fifty 
francs was probably a temptation that he could 
not resist. Heinrich Alpanalp was subsequently 
brought into the plot, though why, unless to keep 
the other two company, does not seem very clear. 



176 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



According to the testimony of Caspar Alpanalp 
and Blatter, Zybach superintended the removal of 
the property in person, and promised them, if 
they did their work well, a further sum of one 
thousand five hundred francs. When these arrange- 
ments were completed, Blatter went to Thun to 
buy sulphur and other combustibles, and Zybach 
started on his journey for the Valais, so that he 
might be out of the way when the plot was 
consummated. 

On the 15th of November the three knechte 
disposed the sulphur among some heaps of 
shavings which had been saturated with oil, and 
so distributed them as to make success certain. 
Their next proceeding was to fetch wine and 
brandy from the midden and have a big drink. 
When the conspirators thought the night was 
sufficiently advanced, and their courage had been 
screwed up to the sticking-point, Blatter (though 
not without some urging from the Alpanalps) 
went into the dining-room and set fire to the 
shavings. 

Three hours later the Grimsel Hospice was a 
heap of smoking ruins. 

The story of the mysterious traveller was a 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 177 



clumsy fiction, invented to account for the origin 
of the fire. 

In May, 1853, all the prisoners were arraigned 
for trial at Thun. Zybach, finding it impossible 
to struggle against the overwhelming circum- 
stantial evidence and the terrible testimony of 
his accomplices, confessed his guilt, and made a 
pathetic appeal for mercy. 

"I admit my guilt," he said. "I have ruined 
both myself and my family. Let those who hear 
me take warning from my fate. The aim of my 
whole life was to work and save for myself and my 
children, and to be useful to the landschaft ; yet 
now, by one evil deed, am I plunged into darkness 
and sin, and stand in the shadow of death. I 
have been honoured and respected by many here 
present, by none more than by the judges who 
have now to pass sentence on me, and whose 
pity I earnestly beseech. I know that I deserve 
punishment — chains and a dungeon — and I will 
not attempt to extenuate my offence. I ask only 
for myself and my accomplices, whom I have 
brought to ruin, the mildest doom which it may 
be in your power to award. I ask this also for 
the sake of my poor wife and children." 

N 



178 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Notwithstanding this appeal the jury found 
Zybach guilty, without extenuating circumstances, 
of having maliciously and revengefully incited his 
servants to set fire to the Grimsel Hospice. 
Thirty years ago the criminal code of Berne was 
of Draconian severity. Blatter and the two 
Alpanalps, although the jury gave them the benefit 
of extenuating circumstances, were sentenced to 
twelve years' imprisonment in chains. Zybach 
was condemned to death by beheading. On 
appeal to the great council of the canton this 
punishment was commuted to twenty years' im- 
prisonment in chains — for a man of the spittler's 
age a doom hardly less terrible than death. 

In the mere incidents of this story there is 
nothing extraordinary- — nothing to distinguish it 
from many others that might be told — since fire- 
raising in Switzerland, either for gain or revenge, 
is unhappily by no means a rare offence. Its 
singularity lies in Zybach's motive, which the 
verdict of the jury neither correctly denotes nor 
sufficiently explains. How came it that a man 
of sixty-four, a man w T hose blameless character 
and unbroken success in life proved him to be 
possessed both of conscience and understanding, 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 179 



should conceive and execute a crime involving 
so frightful a risk, a crime that neither promised 
gave nor gratified revenge? For it was clearly 
shown that, even if Zybach had succeeded in 
secreting and turning to account the things his 
men stowed away, he would still have been a 
heavy loser — his furniture and other belongings 
being only partially insured. The landschaft, on 
the other hand, being fully insured, could take 
no harm by the destruction of their property. 
Why then, it will be asked, did Zybach, at the risk 
of his life, compass the burning of the Hospice ? 
To burn down a house seems a strange expedient 
to get reinstated as its tenant. The spittler may 
have reasoned in this way : The Hospice being 
well insured and yielding a handsome rent would 
certainly be rebuilt. Of that there could be no 
doubt. In order to have the new house ready for 
the reception of guests by the opening of the next 
season the work would have to be taken ener- 
getically in hand the moment the weather per- 
mitted. To this end a man of energy, resource, 
and capacity would be wanted — a man whose 
personal interest was identified with the speedy 
execution of the undertaking, and who could 

N 2 



180 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



guarantee its completion within a given time. 
One man alone., thought Peter Zybach, possessed 
these qualifications, and he made up his mind that 
the landschaft (with whom the fire could not fail 
to open the way to a renewal of their former 
friendly relations) would gladly avail themselves 
of his services and advice, and, in the upshot, 
grant him another lease on favourable terms. In 
any case — albeit events might not take precisely 
the turn he anticipated — with the blind hope- 
fulness of a morally drowning man he persuaded 
himself that the burning down of the Hospice would, 
in one way or another, turn to his advantage. As 
to the moral character of the act — well, nobody, 
save the insurance companies, would suffer ; and 
was not prompt payment of losses, in consideration 
of premiums received, their special business and 
the sole justification of their existence ? An occa- 
sional fire was even conducive to their interests ; 
it served as an excellent advertisement, and 
brought home to people in a very telling way 
the benefit of insuring and the expediency of a 
prompt renewal of their expiring policies. Many 
a man, who would not for the world defraud a 
neighbour, does not scruple to cheat a company. 



THE SPITTLER OF THE GRIMSEL. 181 



If, as has been said, corporations are without 
conscience, those who deal with them are often, 
for the nonce, equally ill provided. 

The strangest part of the affair is, perhaps, 
Zybach's obliviousness to the risk he ran of being 
found out ; that for so very problematical an advan- 
tage he should have imperilled the prospects of his 
children and risked his own life. Even if the insur- 
ance people had suspected nothing, and paid him 
the amount of his loss without hesitation or demur, 
it is little likely that the guilty knowledge which 
he shared with three of his servants could have 
been long kept secret. His accomplices, more- 
over, could have held him at their mercy, and he 
would have had to spend the rest of his days in a 
miserable state of terror and suspense, with a 
Damocles' sword perpetually hanging over his 
head. But Peter was desperate, and desperation 
does not balance probabilities — it acts. The fear 
of falling often exercises a greater influence over 
men's conduct than either avarice or ambition, 
and men of a certain stamp will go to greater 
lengths to keep what they have than to gain what 
they covet. This sort of a man seems to have been 
Peter Zybach. The keeping of an alpine hostelry, 



182 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



among a bleak wilderness of mountains, where 
"the snowflake reposes" all the year round, though 
an undeniably elevated calling, may not appear to 
everybody an especially enviable lot, yet Zybach 
staked life and liberty in a reckless attempt to 
retain his position as spittler of the Grimsel — a 
position that he identified with his social standing, 
and which to him, who began life as a goatherd, 
seemed almost the highest a man could occupy. 

It is in the very nature of things that the 
punishments inflicted by human tribunals should 
be haphazard and unequal — in some cases inade- 
quate, in others excessive — and they who think 
that justice is most just when tempered with 
mercy may well be of opinion that for Zybach's 
high offence — the only one in an otherwise reput- 
able life — -even his commuted sentence was too 
severe a penalty. And this seems to have been 
the opinion of the authorities of the canton ; for 
after a few years' imprisonment in chains his 
sentence was commuted to banishment for life. 
Peter then went to Elsass, whence, after a time, 
he addressed a touching appeal to the Government, 
to be allowed to return to his native land. He 
was old and homesick, he said ; his days were 



THE SPITTLE R OF THE GRIM S EL. ^3 



not long, and he yearned to see " the smoke of his 
village " once more ere he died. 

u The smoke of his village." Poor old Zybach ! 

Who that knows Switzerland — who that has 
seen the smoke of an alpine village curling past 
the dark pine-wood, and losing itself in the 
mists above which tower the glacier and the 
avalanche — that has heard the joedel of the 
goatherd among the recks — the tinkling of cattle- 
bells in the mountain pastures — the rush of the 
torrent through the gorge, can help feeling the 
pathos of the broken man's prayer and pitying 
his fate ? 

But Zybach had sinned, and he was constrained 
to drink the cup of his punishment to the dregs. 
The Government did not deem it expedient to 
grant his request, and the Spittler of the Grimsel 
died in exile. 



THE DRUID STONE OF 
VERSONNEX. 



THE DRUID STONE OF 
VERSONNEX. 



Few, probably, of the thousands of travellers 
who every year visit the spot rendered famous, 
if not sacred, by the philosopher of Fernex 
(which in these latter days has taken to itself 
the name of Fernex- Voltaire), are aware that 
they make at the same time an excursion into 
the land of Gex, a land that yields to none north 
of the Alps in picturesque scenery, historic in- 
terest, and romantic association. Though the 
Pays de Gex is one of the very smallest of 
countries, extending only from a point on the 
Rhone outside Genevan territory to the River 
Divonne, and from the Jura to Lake Leman, and 
is now little more than a geographical expres- 
sion, it has retained its present designation from 
prehistoric times. 



1 88 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



For four hundred and sixty-four years Gex 
was under the domination of Rome ; for one 
hundred and twenty-eight years it formed part 
of the first Burgundian kingdom ; for upwards of 
two centuries it was ruled by Frankish kings ; for 
half a century by Bosson, king of Aries. Then 
it was annexed to the second Burgundian king- 
dom. From 1032 to 1218 it was an appanage 
of the Holy Roman Empire ; for one hundred and 
three years thereafter the masters of the country 
were its own seigneurs ; from them it passed to 
the dukes of Savoy, who kept it until they were 
driven out by the men of Berne in 1536. In 
1589 the Bernese left the land once more to the 
Savoyards, who held it for twenty-five years, when 
they were again dispossessed — this time by the 
allied troops of France and the Swiss cantons. 
A few months later it was reconquered by the 
Duke of Savoy, but only to fall the same year 
(1590) into the hands of the Genevans, who 
retained possession of the Pays for eleven years, 
when it was ceded by treaty to Henry IV., king 
of France. Finally, in 1815, the land of Gex 
was partitioned between France and Switzer- 
land ; so that several of the communes which 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 189 



anciently formed a part of the Pays belong now 
to the canton of Geneva, while the remaining, 
and greater, part is included in the French 
department of the Ain. 

If I add that the Pays de Gex has been 
visited by some of the greatest men and most 
famous conquerors the world has known ; that 
it has been traversed by the legions of Julius 
Caesar, the hordes of Attila, the hosts of Charle- 
magne, and the armies of Napoleon ; devastated 
in turn by Helvetians, Gauls, Huns, Teutons, Bur- 
gundians, Saracens, Savoyards, Swiss, Spaniards, 
and Frenchmen, it will be seen that the narrow 
strip of land between the Jura Mountains and 
the Lake of Geneva has been the theatre of 
great events, and that its claims to historic and 
archaeologic interest are more than justified. 

The aboriginal inhabitants of the land were 
of the Keltic race. They have left traces of 
their presence in the names of the streams and 
mountains, and in Druids' stones, which even 
yet are regarded by simple-minded Gexians as 
something mysterious and sacrosanct. 

Not very long ago the authorities of Geneva 
conceived the idea of carrying away, and placing 



190 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



in the Botanic Garden of the city, the great 
Druid Stone of Troinex, known as the Pierre 
aux Dames. The project went so far that a 
trench was dug about the block, rollers were on 
the spot, and the removal was about to begin, 
when the people of the neighbourhood raised 
such an outcry and besought the Council of 
State so earnestly to let the stone be, that the 
order was countermanded, and the Pierre aux 
Dames of Troinex still remains undisturbed where 
it has lain for unnumbered ages. 

It used to be believed in days gone by (and 
the belief probably still lingers in the remoter 
parts of the Pays de Gex) that the Pierre aux 
Dames, and the three Druid stones between 
Versonnex and Grelly, were thrown thither in 
sport by the giants who, according to tradition, 
once dwelt in the fastnesses of the Jura. Another 
legend has it that the giants placed the stones 
in their present situation to protect the treasures 
which are supposed to be buried at immeasurable 
depths underneath them. These treasures are 
further and more effectually guarded by the 
giants' curse, which will pursue anybody who 
attempts to destroy or remove the stones ; and it is 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 19 1 

a well-known fact that evil has never failed to befall 
the reprobates who have dared to lay unhallowed 
hands on these mysterious relics of the past. Of 
this the following story affords fearful proof. 

Once upon a time, some hundred and fifty 
years ago — though the precise date is perhaps 
not of great importance — there lived in the 
village of Versonnex, which is not far from 
Divonne (signifying in Keltic speech the Springs 
of the Gods), a young well-to-do peasant of the 
name of Gaspard. He had inherited from his 
father and mother, who died when he was a 
little child, several rich meadows, a piece of wood- 
land, a fine vineyard planted on the sunny slope 
of the hill, and an excellent stone-built house, 
close to the little river Ondar, which runs through 
the village and passes near the churchyard. By 
the careful husbandry of his uncle, in whose charge 
it had been left, Gaspard's property was so 
improved during his minority that, when he 
came of age, he was one of the richest peasants 
in the countryside. But this proved a question- 
able advantage to him, since instead of living 
carefully and looking after his fields and his 
vineyards himself, as if he had been less 



192 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



well-off he would have had to do, and as 
his father had done before him, he left the 
management of his affairs to hired servants, and 
spent the greater part of his time in idleness 
and dissipation. He would take his gun and his 
dog and wander for days together in the forest of 
the Dole and the Reculet. He was a great 
player at bowls, an adept in all games of skill 
and chance, and so strong and fearless withal, 
that not a youth in the village dared say him 
nay. They called him Wild Gaspard, and old 
people, when his name was mentioned, would 
shake their heads and look unutterable things. 
His uncle alone seemed to have faith in him — 
appeared, indeed, rather proud of the noise his 
nephew was making, and gave it as his opinion 
that, when Gaspard found a wife, he would mend 
his ways and settle down to steady work, like 
other folks. But notwithstanding his dark hand- 
some face and tall stature and broad shoulders, 
the more respectable of the maidens of the village 
looked on the youth with little favour. Perhaps 
this was because two or three girls who had 
been seen in his company were afterwards ill 
spoken of, almost lost their characters indeed. 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 193 



But be the cause what it might, Gaspard remained 
so long single that when the uncle died his 
nephew was still a bachelor, nor did the old 
man's death work the slightest change in the 
nephew's conduct. He was as wild as ever, stayed 
out late at night, drank, gambled, and spent so 
much money that the village wiseacres said he 
was running fast through his property, and fore- 
told speedy ruin. 

But so far from growing poorer, Gaspard 
seemed to grow richer; instead of mortgaging 
his meadows and selling his vines, he put money 
out at interest and bought land. More than 
one of his neighbours who had prophesied his 
ruin became his debtors for money lent. 

All this terribly puzzled the good folks of 
Versonnex, and many a hard-handed close-fisted 
peasant, who had given the greater part of a 
long life of ferocious self-denial to the task of 
filling an old stocking (hidden away in the thatch) 
with ecus, passed sleepless nights in wondering 
how Wild Gaspard contrived both to spend and 
to have, and in envying his good fortune. 

At length chance did for Gaspard what he 
had not yet been able to do for himself, or, at 

o 



194 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



any rate, what he had not done — found him a 
wife. It befell on this wise. One evening, just 
as the sun, sinking fiery red behind the Jura, 
had turned the silvery vapour which hovered 
over the Alps and floated above the valley of 
Sixt into golden cloud, Gaspard, on his way 
through the village to his house by the river, 
was accosted by a young girl with a bundle on 
her arm. She asked to be directed to the dwelling 
of a peasant who lived not far off, and whom 
Gaspard well knew. Struck by the girl's appear- 
ance — for she was young, pretty, modest-looking, 
and well clad, and seemed, moreover, as if weary 
with long walking — he offered to accompany 
her to her destination and insisted on carrying 
her bundle. She accepted his offer with many 
thanks, and told him as they went along that 
the peasant after whom she had inquired was 
her uncle, that she had come on a visit to him, 
that her home was in the Chablais, and her name 
Marie. 

"Here is your Uncle Jean's house/' said 
Gaspard, after they had walked about a mile. 
" I must now leave you. But this is the time 
when lads and lasses burn nuts to find out 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 195 



their fortunes. I will come one of these nights 
and we will see if we cannot find out yours and 
mine." 

The young man was as good as his word. 
The very next evening he went to Uncle Jean's, 
and Marie and 4ie and the Uncle's sons and 
daughters burnt nuts together, told tales, and 
tried to find out their fortunes. He proved him- 
self the best tale-teller of the company, and 
made himself so agreeable withal that the cousins, 
of both sexes, pressed him to come again ; and 
when he was gone, all agreed that Wild Gaspard 
was, after all, a very nice fellow, or, at any 
rate, not nearly so black as he had been painted. 

Marie did not think him black at all ; for 
when, a month or two later, he asked her to 
be his wife, she did not say nay ; and as Gaspard, 
since his acquaintance with Marie, had given 
up his evil ways — ceased to frequent the village 
auberge and bowling-alley, and went off no more 
on mysterious journeys into the mountains — Uncle 
Jean gave a willing consent to the betrothah 
Before Christmas came they were married, and 
Marie, now Madame Gaspard, became mistress 
of the stone house by the river. 

o 2 



196 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



For some time after their marriage Gaspard 
was very steady and Marie very happy. He 
stayed at home, looked after his land and his 
cows, superintended the dressing of his vines, 
and altogether behaved so well that his neighbours, 
almost forgetting that they had ever called him 
" wild," began to look upon him as quite an 
exemplary husband and a respectable member 
of society. To crown the happiness of the young 
couple, two children were born to them, and, 
to all seeming, their lives were likely to prove 
as quiet and uneventful as those of any other 
peasants of the land of Gex. But whether it 
was that he began to weary of the monotony of 
married life and the company of his wife, or 
that the evil spirit, which his love for her had 
for a while exorcised, again possessed him, a 
great change came over Gaspard shortly after 
the birth of their second child. He grew morose 
and gloomy, went out at nights, and took long 
walks into the dark pine-forests that overspread 
the summits and slopes of the Jura. He no 
longer challenged young men to fight and 
wrestle as he once did ; he seemed to have the 
power of daunting them with his look. The 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 197 



neighbours began to dread and dislike him more 
than ever. They had good cause ; for he grew 
very quarrelsome and went to law on the least 
provocation ; and when he went to law he won 
as invariably as he was wont to do when he 
played at bowls or at cards in the village inn. 

Among other folks with whom he fell out 
was his wife's uncle. One of Jean's fields ad- 
joined one of his. In the middle of it was a 
big Druid Stone. This field Gaspard wanted 
to buy, but as it was the nearest to his own 
house, which Jean possessed, he refused to part 
with it. Hence arose a bitter quarrel ; for the 
old man was obstinate and the young one per- 
sistent. In the end, Gaspard removed the land- 
mark between the two fields, and drove his plough 
over a part of Jean's property; so that the uncle, 
in order to assert his right, was constrained to 
bring an action against his niece's husband. 
But before it had well begun, Jean became very 
uneasy ; for his friends told him that Gaspard, 
having the ear of the judge was sure to win ; 
so, lest worse should befall, Jean agreed to 
let his kinsman have the field at his own 
price. 



193 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



As may well be supposed, this affair made 
Marie very unhappy ; for her husband, what- 
ever he might be to others, was still kind to her. 
The strife between him and her uncle, whom 
she greatly respected, had been a sore trouble, 
and when it ended her satisfaction was unbounded. 
In the village the incident gave rise to very 
ugly rumours; and the feeling against Gaspard, 
though none dared openly avow it, was stronger 
than before. There were stories of his having 
been seen near the Druid Stone at midnight ; 
and old people told with bated breath how they 
had heard from their sires that the spot was 
haunted by one of the giant ghosts of the 
mountains, who went thither at stated times to 
watch over his hidden gold. It was said, too, 
that by the practice of certain pagan rites, known 
only to a few descendants of the ancient Allo- 
broges, the former possessors of the land, men 
had sometimes compelled the giants to yield 
them a portion of their treasure and lend them 
a part of their strength. But it was affirmed, and 
firmly believed, that those who had dealings with 
these ghostly giants were accursed, and always 
In the end overtaken by dire misfortune. 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 199 



These stories made such an impression in the 
village that GasparcTs house began to be looked 
upon as unlucky, and few entered it save on com- 
pulsion. When Marie and her two children fell ill 
of a fever Gaspard could get nobody in Versonnex 
to nurse them, and even at Gex the only person 
he could persuade to undertake the task was a 
woman known as Red Claudine, from the Franche- 
Comte, on the other side of the mountains. She 
was young and not unhandsome; but old Karl 
Saladan, who was generally acknowledged to be 
the wisest man in the village, said she had deceitful 
eyes and a cruel mouth, and was not to be trusted. 
Be that as it may, she nursed Marie and her 
children with great seeming devotion ; but whether 
it was that she came too late, or they were doomed 
beforehand, the little ones died soon after her 
arrival, and were buried side by side in the church- 
yard near the river. People looked upon this as a 
judgment ; there could be no longer a doubt, 
they said, that Gaspard had dealings with the 
giants, and that the curse was now beginning to 
work. 

As Marie was still very sick, and at times deli- 
rious, her husband did not tell her at once of their 



2oo TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



» children's death. He feared she might die too, 
and his gloom was terrible to see. The night 
after the funeral she seemed rather better, and 
Gaspard, believing her to be asleep, stole quietly 
out of the house. As Claudine had gone down 
to the village, Marie was thus left alone. 

After quitting the house Gaspard struck right 
across the fields, and did not stop until he reached 
the Druid Stone. There he paused, and looking 
towards the Col de la Fau9ille by the light of the 
new moon, he repeated in a low voice what seemed 
to be an incantation. As he spoke, a vast shadowy 
form, in the shape of a man, emerged from the 
forest and drew near, until it stood over the stone. 
Its head overtopped the tallest oaks, and it carried 
in its hand, as a staff, the trunk of a young pine- 
tree. 

" You called me," said the spectre, in a voice 
that sounded like distant thunder, " what is it you 
desire ? " 

a To tell you, first of all," answered Gaspard, 
who did not seem to be in the least afraid, " that 
the ground whereon we stand is mine. I have 
bought this field, and with it the stone." 

" Bought it ! " said the phantom, with a laugh 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 201 



that made the trees sway to and fro, as if shaken 
by the wind. u Bought it ! Why, in the fiend's 
name, did you buy the field when you could have 
taken it ? What use is the strength I gave you — 
that you cajoled me out of rather — if you buy 
things ? Any fool can buy." 

"That is true; but you forget, most worshipful 
giant, what sort of a world this is — how it has 
degenerated since you lived and lorded it on the 
mountain there with your kinsfolk and slaves. You 
were very strong, I know, but there is a power 
nowadays stronger than all the giants that ever 
dwelt on the Jura put together. This power is 
called the Law, and those who defy it always come 
off second best. You may meet it by cunning, 
perhaps, but you cannot overcome it by force. 
Therefore I bought the field. I thought you would 
be glad to know that it was mine, and that we 
might meet henceforth on my own land." 

" Humph ! " said the giant, who did not appear 
to be in the best of tempers, "that makes very 
little difference to me. Did you think the owner 
of the field was likely to use this terrible Law 
against me — lay an action against me for trespass, 
eh ? It will be a long time before they get me 



202 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



into a court of justice, I think. But what else 
do you desire ? You surely have not called me 
here to tell me that you have bought a field." 

" I want to know something. Will my wife live ? " 

" As long as you let her, she will live," answered 
the giant, with a scornful laugh that made Gaspard 
tremble, bold as he was. " Anything else ? " 

" Yes, I want some more gold." 

" Gold, gold ! Why, man, you are always 
wanting gold. What do you do with it all ? 
But hear this — no more gold from me shall you 
have." 

"Well then, I shall take it," said Gaspard 
defiantly. " I shall dig under the stone, or blow 
it up with gunpowder, and help myself to whatever 
of your treasure there is left." 

"You miserable wretch!" roared the enraged 
giant ; " I'll brain you where you stand," and, 
raising the pine-tree high above his head, he 
made as if he would carry his threat into instant 
execution. 

" Ah, ha ! " laughed Gaspard, " you cannot ; 
you are powerless. Did you not tell me that 
when your body cast no shadow in the moonlight 
your arm had no pith. Strike, I am not afraid." 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 203 



" You ungrateful scoundrel ! " thundered the 
giant, letting fall his upraised staff. " Is this my 
reward for telling you so many high secrets, for 
giving you half my treasure, for making you the 
strongest and richest man in the Pays de Gex ! 
True, I am a poor ghost without physical strength, 
and my club is but a shadow, yet I have a terrible 
power you wot not of. I can curse, and my curse 
is all potent. And now, Gaspard of Versonnex, 
I curse you and your house with the curse of 
a giant of the Jura. May evil befall you in this 
world and the next ; may your life be misery, 
and your death damnation ! " 

As the ghostly form of the giant disappeared in 
the darkness the last words of his malediction rang 
through the forest, and were given back with 
fearful distinctness by the echoes of the mountain. 

When Gaspard, after a few moments spent in 
deep thought, turned to go, a white figure sprang 
from behind the stone and stood before him in 
the path. 

" Oh Gaspard, Gaspard ! " exclaimed a voice 
he well knew, "in the name of Heaven and the 
holy Virgin come not here again. Avoid this 
spot, it is thrice accursed." 



204 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



It was Marie, and before her husband had 
recovered from his surprise, she sank fainting on 
the ground. 

Stooping over her prostrate form, he gazed 
intently in her face. Then he drew from his 
belt a long glittering knife. It flashed in the 
moonlight. 

" No ! " he muttered, as if struck by a sudden 
impulse, or moved by some tender recollection. 
"She is delirious; she has followed me without 
intention. Maybe she has seen nothing, or, if she 
has, will not remember. I will take her with me." 

He raised her in his arms, and carried her 
home ; and when Red Claudine returned there 
was nothing to show that either of them had 
been out of the house. 

Marie recovered her health, but not her spirits. 
Her illness, her children's death, the conduct of 
her husband, and, perhaps, the recollection of the 
scene at the Druid Stone, had transformed the 
once happy wife into a joyless woman. She went 
about like one in a dream, rarely spoke, and 
seemed glad that Red Claudine, who showed no 
inclination to depart, took all the management 
of the house and dairy. Gaspard, who watched 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 205 



his wife closely, thought she remembered nothing 
of what had passed on the night of his inter- 
view with the phantom, and he began to carry 
out his resolve to uplift the stone. By assiduous 
drilling and a free use of gunpowder, he broke 
off three long slabs, which he proposed to con- 
vert into doorsteps. The last of them had been 
brought down to the house before Marie knew 
what was going on. 

When she saw them she turned deadly pale, 
and almost fell to the ground. 

" Oh Gaspard ! 39 she exclaimed, " what are 
you doing? Do you want to ruin yourself both 
in this world and the next ? Have you forgotten 
that terrible night at the Druid Stone and the 
spectre's curse ? " 

The next day, when Red Claudine went into 
the village to make her purchases, she told that 
poor Madame Gaspard had fallen ill again of her 
old complaint. Those whom she told did not 
seem much surprised. They shook their heads, 
and said they feared it was likely this time to go 
hard with her. In this opinion Claudine, who 
looked very sorrowful, appeared quite to agree. 
"Madame Gaspard," she remarked, "had never 



2o6 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



got over her last illness and the loss of her 
children ; even before yesterday's attack came 
on she was very weak, and her husband had been 
greatly concerned about her. Still, there was no 
telling ; she might pull through after all. They 
must trust in Heaven and the holy Virgin, and 
hope for the best. They were taking every care. 
Madame was never left alone. Either herself or 
Monsieur Gaspard was with her night and day." 
And Red Claudine wiped her eyes and heaved a 
deep sigh, as if the trouble were really more than 
she could bear. 

The following day Claudine was in the village 
again, fuller of trouble than before. Poor Marie 
had died that morning, just as the day broke, 
and she was come to order the coffin, poor 
Monsieur Gaspard being quite beside himself with 
grief, and unable to stir out of the house. 

Several of the neighbours who went to see 
the body before it was put out of sight, drew each 
other's attention to the tranquil expression of the 
face, and opined that poor Madame Gaspard must 
have died very peacefully. Claudine said she had, 
that she did not seem to suffer at all, passing 
away as if she were falling asleep. 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 207 



Despite the awe and detestation in which 
Gaspard was held, the death of his two children, 
followed at so short an interval by that of his 
wife, touched his neighbours' hearts, and he re- 
ceived many tokens of their sympathy ; but when, 
a few weeks after he had laid Marie in the grave, 
he led Claudine to the altar, great w T as their 
indignation, and he was shunned more than ever, 
but still so much feared that everybody carefully 
avoided giving him offence. 

The Gex country is a land of gushing springs 
and running waters. The rivulets that traverse 
it are for the most part sufficiently well-behaved, 
and pass from their source in the Jura to their 
home in the blue depths of lake Leman, either 
silently and swiftly, or with no more ado' 
than befits modest mountain-born streams. But 
sometimes their gentle waters, when swollen by 
autumnal rains, the melting of winter snows, or 
a summer thunderstorm, become the maddest of 
torrents — rise above their banks, sweep over fields 
and vineyards, and leave in their wake destruction 
and death. 

The Ondar, which flows through Versonnex, is 
little more than a brook, and it seems almost 



208 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



absurd to suggest that it could ever be a cause 
of apprehension or a source of danger. But one 
day in the autumn following the marriage of 
Gaspard and Red Claudine, a cloud broke over the 
Jura, and the stream filled so fast, and mounted so 
high, that the villagers were in great alarm, and 
those of them who lived on its banks left their 
houses and made hurried preparations to place their 
belongings in a place of safety. Just when the 
flood was at its height a huge pine-tree, which 
had been brought down from the mountains, got 
fixed transversely across the river in such a way 
as to impede the flow of the water. It soon 
became evident that, unless the obstruction could 
be instantly removed, the village would be com- 
pletely inundated, and many of the buildings 
either destroyed or seriously damaged ; a calamity 
that was only averted by the boldness and 
presence of mind of several young men of the 
village, who, heedless of danger, used the saw 
and hatchet to such purpose that the pine-tree 
was speedily dislodged from its place and floated 
away in the flood. 

And then a strange and awesome thing hap- 
pened; A gigantic ghost-like shape came out of 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 209 



the driving rain, and, seizing the pine-tree in his 
hands, placed it a second time across the stream, 
but between the church and the houses, in such 
a position that the flood was turned through the 
churchyard, without endangering the village. 

" Murder will out ! " exclaimed the phantom, 
as he completed his task and sank down, as 
appeared to the awestruck beholders, into the 
raging torrent. 

There being a rapid fall in the ground from 
this point to the churchyard, the stream poured 
into it with such violence that the tombstones 
were overturned, the earth washed away, many 
coffins swept from their graves, and the church 
itself almost destroyed. 

After the subsidence of the flood — and it sub- 
sided almost as fast as it had risen — the first 
thought of the villagers was to put the churchyard 
in order, and to restore the dead to their graves. 
Only one of the coffins was found to be injured — 
that of Madame Gaspard. It had been burst open 
by the water, and lay several yards from the body 
which it had enclosed. Some of the men were 
just about to raise the poor corpse reverently from 
the ground, where it rested face downward, when 

p 



2io TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



the sexton called attention to a peculiar appear- 
ance at the back of the head. Looking more 
closely the onlookers perceived a wound at the base 
of the skull, and found further that it had been 
caused by a large nail, which was there still. On 
this a great fear came over all, and they remem- 
bered the words of the phantom : " Murder will 
out/' 

Gaspard was at once arrested, and, seeing in 
the extraordinary revelation of his crime that 
the hand of God was against him, and that he 
was a doomed man, he owned himself guilty, con- 
fessing that he had put his wife to death to 
prevent her from betraying the secret of his un- 
hallowed dealings with the giant of the Jura. 
He was taken to Gex, and there executed. 

As for Red Claudine, when she saw the bodies 
strewn about the churchyard, she had been cunning 
enough to escape. It was believed she went into 
Savoy. Be that as it may, she was never seen 
in the Gex country again. Gaspard, before his 
death, became very penitent, and expressed great 
contrition for the terrible crimes of which he had 
been guilty — practising arts forbidden by the 
Church, and so cruelly killing his wife. 



THE DRUID STONE OF VERSONNEX. 211 



His fate has served as a salutary warning to 
succeeding generations. Nobody since his time 
has attempted to disturb the Druid Stone of 
Versonnex, or to hold converse with its guardian 
spirit ; a circumstance which probably accounts for 
the entire disappearance in these latter days of 
the phantom giants of the Jura from their ancient 
haunts. 



p 2 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE LENKERHORN DYNASTY. 

The ruined castles and mouldering keeps that 
crown the wooded heights and naked rocks of 
" Free old Rhastia," a region known indifferently 
to the outer world as Graubiinden and the 
Grisons, recall to the pensive wayfarer the age 
of chivalry and romance, the good old times 
when freebooter barons ruled in every valley of 
the Upper Rhine, living joyously on the fruits 
of their vassals' labour, and levying black mail 
on itinerant merchants and belated wanderers. 
The protection afforded by the lords of these 
castles to the tillers of the soil was dearly bought. 
They exacted from their unfortunate tenants so 
many dues, and laid on them so many grievous 



216 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



burdens that their lives were hardly worth living, 
and it is almost a wonder that they consented 
to live. 

Some of the feudal usages that came into 
vogue at the time in question outlasted the lord- 
ship of these rude chieftains. Even after the 
Thirty Years' War, when the Vorder Rhein 
country was wasted with fire and sword, and 
the Grisons passed temporarily under the domina- 
tion of the house of Hapsburg, the Austrian 
nobles, to whom certain seignorial privileges 
were transferred with the properties they pur- 
chased and annexed, forced the wretched peasants, 
under one pretext and another, to surrender 
nearly all that was left of their poor pos- 
sessions. But the issue of that terrible contest 
— in which, by the deplorable weakness of the 
Confederation, several of the northern cantons 
were forced to engage — was greatly to weaken 
the old feudal system. Many knightly land- 
owners perished in the war, their castles be- 
came tenantless and fell into ruins, their estates 
passed into other hands, and the burghers were 
enabled to assert their time-honoured rights, and 
regain their ancient independence. But the 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 217 



change, though salutary as far as it went, was 
far from being thorough. The day of democracy 
had not yet arrived, and the hewers of wood 
and drawers of water were not long in finding 
out that they had only exchanged one set of 
masters for another. Nevertheless, the second 
yoke was easier than the first. 

Owing to circumstances which it is not 
necessary here to narrate, power in the rural 
communes of Rhsetian Switzerland fell into the 
hands of a few families, who, albeit of the peasant 
class, formed a real hereditary caste, and in after 
years came to be known as magnates, kings of 
the valleys, and potentates of the village. Though 
they lived among their subjects, and, like them, 
had flocks and herds and mountain pastures, 
these families exercised almost despotic sway. 
Father was followed by son, if not by acknow- 
ledged hereditary right, by force of long custom. 
This yeoman-aristocracy revived for its own benefit 
many feudal usages, grew rich on the labour of 
others, after the manner of old aristocracies, and 
on great occasions displayed an almost princely 
pomp. 

The French Revolution, which destroyed so 



218 TALES OF SWITZERLAND, 



many things, put an end to all that remained of 
the feudal system in Switzerland, albeit the 
thorough emancipation of the Confederation from 
aristocratic fetters was the work of the present 
century. 

With the cataclysms of 1792-18 14 the legal 
sway of the village potentates of Graubiinden 
finally disappeared. Such authority as they 
contrived, in the capacity of landammanner (com- 
munal presidents) and statthalter (justices of the 
peace), to retain, they owed to their own adroit- 
ness, to their comparative wealth, and to that 
respect for old families and ancient usages which 
survives so much longer in the country than the 
town. 

One of the last of these rural sovereigns of 
Free old Rhaetia was a certain Hans Lenker- 
horn, who united in his own person the offices 
of landamman and statthalter of the confederate 
communes of Stein, Oberstein, and Niederstein. 
But in deference to the democratic tendencies 
of the age and, like the wise man he was, caring 
more for the substance than the shadow of 
power, he contented himself with the simple title 
of " amman." 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 219 



Hans Lenkerhorn lived in the largest house 
in Oberstein, a house which, together with much 
cattle and many mountain pastures, he had in- 
herited from Peter his father, who had been 
amman before him, and from whose venerable 
lips he had learnt priceless lessons in the art 
of government. For Peter was a born leader 
of men ; and had his lot been cast in a higher 
sphere, a later age, and another country he might 
have emulated the fame of Bismarck or Cavour. 
The principle of his rule was, everything for the 
people and nothing by the people. When he 
watched the herd of beautiful cows (he would 
have none but the best) browsing on one of 
his alps, and saw how willingly they acknow- 
ledged the supremacy of the strongest and 
handsomest, he would call her the Queen of 
the Mountain, muttering to himself, as he stroked 
her comely neck : 

" Ach Gott ! these dumb creatures have more 
sense than thick-headed peasants, who find fault 
with their betters, and think, poor fools ! that 
they understand affairs of state and are fit for 
self-government." 

Besides his son Hans, Peter possessed a 



220 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND, 



daughter — a broad-backed, bright-eyed, rosy- 
cheeked mountain maid, of marriageable age. 
Though Frieda was a good child, and her father 
loved her, he often wished she had never been 
born. 

Being a peasant of aristocratic instincts, he 
desired to transmit the whole of his property 
unimpaired to his son and heir. But as a man 
of his condition could neither marry his daughter 
without a handsome mitgift (dower) nor cut her 
off with the traditional shilling, the girl's existence 
threatened to interfere with his plans for the 
maintenance of the family dignity in succeeding 
generations. 

Had the amman not been a Protestant he 
might possibly have persuaded his daughter to 
enter a convent. But there was nothing nun- 
like in the girl's character ; and a hint from 
Frau Lenkerhorn that the marriage state was a 
state of unmitigated wretchedness, and that those 
were wisest who remained single, was so ill 
received (being answered by the remark that 
her mother did not seem particularly wretched, 
and that Liesa Lindau, who had been married 
the year before to the Alpvogt Christian, was 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



221 



very happy) that the amman made up his mind 
to the worst, and asked his wife what she thought 
was the least mitgift they could decently bestow 
on the child. 

This was rather a bothering question for the 
Frau Amman, for if she could have had her way 
she would have dealt the same measure to both 
her children. But to have hinted as much would 
have raised a storm ; so, on the plea that the 
point was rather a knotty one, she asked time 
for consideration. Before she had done consider- 
ing an event occurred that saved her the trouble 
of coming to a decision, and possibly prevented 
a dispute between her husband and herself. This 
event was the betrothal of their son Hans to 
the daughter of a neighbouring potentate as rich 
as Peter himself, and so well dowered withal that 
the amman felt he might now portion Frieda 
right royally, without endangering the heir- 
apparent's future position. 

Soon after Hans' marriage, which was followed 
at a short interval by the marriage of Frieda, 
with a young man of her own rank and ample 
means, Peter resolved to abdicate in favour of his 
son and heir. He was growing old and feeble, 



222 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



and he desired, before he died, to see the reins 
of government placed in younger and firmer hands. 
It was a degenerate age, and he feared that if he 
left things to the last the gemeinde (commune) 
might forget their duty and suffer some low-born 
interloper to step into his shoes. So, after a long 
and serious conversation with Hans, the amman 
summoned his privy council — Michael the spendvogt 
(treasurer), Christian the alpvogt, and Jos the writer 
— to hear his decision and receive his instructions. 
He intended, he said, at the approaching yearly 
meeting of the gemeinde to resign the office he 
had so long held, and it behoved them to think 
whom they would choose as his successor. On 
this, the spendvogt answered with a courtly smile 
that there was only one possible successor to the 
Herr Amman — that Lenkerhorn must succeed 
Lenkerhorn — and that the council would do all 
that was necessary to make the election of Herr 
Hans sure and spontaneous. 

When the great day came, Peter, who, in spite 
of his fourscore years, was still a magnificent 
specimen of a mountain-bred man, standing in 
the place in which had stood five generations of 
his forefathers, announced his intention of resign- 
ing the honourable position he had so long 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



223 



held. In an eloquent farewell speech, he thanked 
his fellow burghers for having so frequently 
elected him as their ruler and chief magistrate, 
and recommended them to choose as his suc- 
cessor the worthiest among them — the one best 
fitted to bear the burden of power and insure 
the prosperity of the confederate communes. 
On this there was a general call for Hans 
Lenkerhorn, and, no other candidate being pro- 
posed, old Peter, with well-feigned reluctance, and 
a deprecatory air, as if he felt that the slight 
services he had been able to render the gemeinde 
were receiving a far higher reward than they 
deserved, declared his son and heir the duly elected 
landamman and statthalter of the confederate 
communes of Stein, Oberstein, and Niederstein. 
Then he stepped down from his chair, and Hans 
was conducted to the seat of honour by Jos 
the writer and Michael the spendvogt. If the 
acclamations that followed the new amman's 
speech were a measure of its quality, it must 
have been fully worthy of the occasion. And so 
it doubtless was, for albeit Hans had not been 
highly educated, he possessed a shrewd mother- 
wit and a ready tongue. The speech, moreover, 
had been carefully prepared beforehand, and 



224 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



rehearsed in the presence of the ex-amman and 
his privy council, whose long experience of affairs 
enabled them to make several suggestions which 
the young man was glad to adopt. 

Peter's prescience was justified by the event. 
In less than three years after handing over the 
helm of state to his son, he was gathered to his 
fathers. He was buried in a manner befitting his 
rank and the custom of the country. All the 
men of the confederate communes followed* the 
ex-amman's body to the grave. After the funeral 
there came a mighty drink, a drink worthy of 
a banquet of Teutonic warriors or of an Irish 
wake of the last century. The Lenkerhorns kept 
open house, and so copious were the libations of 
schnapps poured out in honour of the old potentate's 
memory that hardly one guest went home sober, 
or awoke next morning without a splitting head- 
ache. Two old men from Stein and a young 
man from Niederstein did not awake at all. But 
a time-honoured custom had been well kept, the 
splendid hospitality of Amman Hans won him 
great popularity, and, together with other incidents 
of the funeral, was the favourite theme in the 
village ale-house for years thereafter. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE NEW PASTOR. 

Amid a generation growing almost every day 
more impatient of legitimate authority and less 
reverent of ancient customs, Hans Lenkerhorn was 
now left to maintain alone the supremacy of his 
house. But he had qualities that eminently fitted 
him for the task. While quite his father's equal in 
ability he was far more politic and patient. Though 
in character no less resolute than his predecessor 
he was less absolute in manner. He studied 
government as a fine art, had learnt that to 
conquer it was sometimes necessary to stoop, 
knew when to yield and when to insist; and, 
although during his long reign many attempts 
were made to oust him from power, he died 
landamman and statthalter of the confederate 
communes. The greatest difficulty he encountered 

Q 



226 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



arose out of a conflict with the Church, in the 
person of one of its ministers, a conflict which he 
conducted with a craft and subtlety that, had they 
been displayed in a wider field, would have won 
for him the reputation of a great statesman. 

So long as old Pastor Greis was able to perform 
his duty, nothing could be more harmonious than 
the relations of Church and State in the gemeinde 
of Oberstein. The pastor was a good easy soul, 
who never tried to force water uphill nor smoke 
downhill. In other words he let the world wag — 
never embroiling himself with the amman by 
meddling with politics, nor risking his popularity 
hy attempting to amend the morals or improve 
the manners of his flock. But even in the 
mountains of Rhaetia men grow old, and the time 
came when, after having had spiritual charge of 
Oberstein more than seventy years, the Herr 
Pastor felt himself constrained to retire from the 
active duties of his calling. He was succeeded by 
a young man fresh from the university, recom- 
mended by the consistory, and elected by the 
gemeinde, of course at the instance of the amman, 
for Hans at that time wielded almost as much 
power in Oberstein as Bismarck now wields in 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



227 



Germany. Hans thought that a young man 
would be more submissive to authority and fall 
more readily into the ways of the gemeinde than 
a man of mature age. 

As touching young men in general, Hans may 
have been right ; but, as touching this particular 
young man, the event proved him to be wrong. 

On the day appointed for the arrival of Herr 
Schuster, the amman sent Fritz the vorsteher 
(head-man) down to the Chur road to meet him, 
and place one of his best horses at the pastor's 
disposal. When the young man knew what was 
expected of him, he manifested some alarm, for 
equitation had not been included in his college 
course, and he had never bestridden a steed in his 
life. But when the vorsteher assured him that it 
was an old custom for a new pastor to enter the 
commune on horseback, he allowed himself to be 
persuaded, and with much trepidation, and on the 
strict understanding that Fritz should lead the 
horse every bit of the way, he got into the saddle. 
Beyond the feeling of discomfort occasioned by 
the unwonted motion, the Herr Pastor took no 
harm by his ride, and he had the satisfaction of 
knowing that he made his entry into the village 

Q 2 



228 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



in the same fashion as his predecessors had done 
from time immemorial. 

All the gemeinde and several strangers from 
a distance were at church when Karl Schuster 
preached himself in. Everybody wanted to see 
what like of a man was the new pastor, and how 
he would comport himself on so trying an occa- 
sion. As he followed the advice of Dr. Martin 
Luther, " Tritt frisch auf und thu das Maul auf " 
(keep cool and open your mouth), and was not 
wanting in capacity, he delivered an excellent 
discourse, and came off with flying colours. One 
of his observations : " As God gives me strength, I 
will teach and console, and, need arising, I will 
admonish and reprove, without respect of persons," 
had, however, so revolutionary a ring, and was 
so different from anything old Pastor Greis had 
ever said, that it caused quite a sensation, and 
every eye was turned to the landamman to see 
how the sentiment liked him. But Hans possessed 
a face of Disraeli-like impassiveness, and, though 
he had doubtless his thoughts, he made no 
sign. 

When, a few days later, the Herr Pastor called 
on the Herr Amman, he was received with a 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



229 



great show of cordiality. Hans congratulated him 
on his sermon, asked many questions concerning 
his life at the university, and expressed a hope 
that they should be good friends. 

A week after Karl Schuster had preached his 
first sermon the cattle came down from the 
mountains where they had been pasturing during 
the brief but brilliant alpine summer. With 
them came the children who had watched 
and tended them, eager after their long holiday 
for their winter schooling (which lasts generally 
from October to the end of May) to begin. But 
education was not yet compulsory in Switzerland, 
and the pastor, to his great surprise, discovered 
that, though Oberstein possessed a schoolhouse, 
it had just then no schoolmaster. The highest 
salary the amman could be persuaded to propose, 
or the gemeinde to sanction, was one hundred 
gulden (about eight pounds) a-year. No fit man 
could be got for the place, and for two winters 
the Oberstein children had received no instruction 
whatever. 

This greatly grieved the pastor. He thought 
it ill for children to grow up in ignorance, and 
spend more than half the year in idleness. Moved 



230 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



by these considerations, and, perhaps, by a per- 
fectly pardonable desire to add to his own poor 
stipend of four hundred gulden (thirty-three 
pounds) the pay allotted to the schoolmaster, he 
offered to take the vacant place until some better 
arrangement could be made. The proposal was 
hailed with acclamation by all the fathers and 
mothers of the commune, part of whom had 
viewed with considerable dissatisfaction the pro- 
spect of their children running wild about the 
place for the next seven or eight months. So the 
schoolhouse was opened, and the pastor entered 
on the duties of his new office. He found the 
undertaking more arduous than he had expected. 
The teaching of sixty children every day, in 
addition to preaching on Sundays, and other 
ministerial duties, taxed his strength to the 
utmost, and he was heartily glad when the dis- 
appearance of the snow from the lower alps 
gave the signal for the migration of the cattle 
and their little watchers to the mountain pastures. 

"The Herr Pastor looks ill/' observed, one 
day about this time, Christian the alpvogt to 
Michael the spendvogt. "When he first came 
here his face was plump and rosy ; now he is 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 231 

lantern-jawed, as pale as a snow-drift, and as thin 
as an icicle." 

" Yes, indeed," answered the spendvogt, whose 
opinions were generally a faithful reflex of those 
of his master. "The Herr Pastor takes too 
much upon himself, and in more ways than 
one. What business has he to play the school- 
master ? He forgets that it is not good for a 
man to serve two masters. No wonder he looks 
ill." 

But well or ill, Schuster was not the man to 
draw back his hand from the plough ; and great 
was the joy in Oberstein when, as winter once 
more drew near, he announced his intention of 
reopening the school. He was far superior to 
any teacher the gemeinde had ever before pos- 
sessed, and as his pay was really next to nothing,, 
the thrifty Obersteiners had every reason to be 
satisfied with the arrangement. They got high 
quality at a low price; and, to do them justice, 
they were not ungrateful. If thanks could en- 
rich, the Herr Pastor would have been a wealthy 
man. 



CHAPTER III. 



THE AMMAN AND HIS COUNCILLORS. 

"I HAVE news for you, Hans," said to him one 
day his wife, on her return from a visit to her 
old godmother in Niederstein, a week or two 
after the school had broken up for the summer. 
" Do you know what they say ? They say that 
our pastor, under the plea of bettering his health 
after his winter's work, is always afoot, and goes 
a good deal to Warden Konrad's in Niederstein. 
But you may be sure of one thing — it is not 
the warden or the Frau Warden he cares about ; 
it is the buxom Klara, who inherits a handsome 
fortune from her aunt Mathilde. These ghostly 
gentlemen, who talk so much about heavenly 
treasures, are as keen as other folks to lay up 
for themselves treasures on earth. But do you 
think it would be wise, dear Hans, to let him 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 233 



have Klara? My father, of blessed memory, 
used often to say that it was ever so much 
easier to keep a poor parson in his place than a 
rich one. Rich ministers are always so prodigal 
and independent." 

"Don't let the pastor's doings make you any 
gray hairs, Gretha dear," answered her husband, 
with the air of a man conscious of foreseeing 
everything. " I heard of these visits to Niederstein 
several days since, and Spendvogt Michel has 
already dropped a few words into the warden's 
ear, that will, I think, put a spoke in the parson's 
wheel, and cause him to take his walks in another 
direction." 

" I know you are very wise, Hanschen," an- 
swered the Frau Amman (who, if she had con- 
fessed the truth, was rather annoyed to find that 
her news was old, and that her advice had been 
anticipated), "and it is not for me to set up my 
opinion against yours, but don't you think, now 
it would have been better to get a proper school- 
master, even if it did cost a little more? It 
is Schuster's teaching, more than his preaching, 
that makes him so well liked. Indeed, when he 
preaches against schnapps, as he did last Sunday 



234 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



and calls it 'the enemy/ he treads on^ a good 
many folks' toes. They say, as I say, that it is 
his business to preach the gospel, and that when 
he tells people what they should eat and drink 
he is meddling with what doesn't concern him, 
and flying in the face of scripture. Doesn't the 
holy writing say, ' Take no thought what ye shall 
eat or what ye shall drink '?" 

" There you are right, Gretha," observed Hans, 
as he puffed energetically at his long pipe. 
" Schuster is becoming altogether too meddle- 
some ; but as for engaging a schoolmaster at high 
pay, I have very good reasons for doing as I have 
done. You must remember that the gemeinde 
is not very well off this year. That flood in 
March made sad havoc, and the avalanche last 
month laid low a thousand trees in the Tannen- 
wald. We shall have to spend at least five hundred 
florins this summer in replanting. We have no 
money to throw away on schools and school- 
masters, I can tell you ; and I have other 
reasons." 

For all this disclaimer, the amman knew 
quite well that he had made a mistake ; but it was 
his maxim, as it had been his father's, to hold fast 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



by whatever he had once said, and never to 
acknowledge himself in the wrong. 

Before Frau Lenkerhorn had made up her 
mind what to say in reply, the door opened, and 
the three members of the privy council, entering 
the room hat in hand, bowed low at the threshold, 
and expressed a hope that the Herr Amman and 
the Frau Amman found themselves in good health. 

The amman returned the greeting, pointed 
with his pipe to a capacious settle hard by his 
own chair, and nodded to his wife, w 7 ho thereupon 
opening a door (there being no bells in the Lenker- 
horn establishment), called out in a tone of com- 
mand : " Gretchen, das bier." 

In a few minutes a brown-faced serving-maid 
appeared with four great tankards of beer, which 
she placed on an oaken table near the amman 
and his guests. 

" Well," said the spendvogt, after each man 
had taken a long drink, and a few unimportant 
questions had been asked and answered, " it has 
turned out as you expected, Herr Amman — the 
Herr Pastor goes no more to Warden Konrad's." 

"Ah, I thought that would stop him," answered 
Hans complacently. "We must not be having 



236 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Herr Schuster married to a rich wife. That 
would make him worse to manage than ever. 
I wish we had such a minister as him of Nieder- 
stein. He is a sensible man now, does not 
bother his flock with new-fangled notions, nor 
try to turn young peasants into conceited scholars. 
He thinks as I think, that a knowledge of milking 
and cattle-tending is all the learning they require, 
or that is likely to do them any good." 

"That is true, Herr Amman," put in Writer 
Jos; "but folks are so stupid. It is always the 
pastor this and the pastor that now in our 
gemeinde. He is nearly as much thought of 
and looked up to as you are yourself, Herr 
Amman, shame that it is to say so. Even some 
of the fellows he openly reproves from the pulpit 
speak well of him, because, forsooth, he takes so 
much trouble about things, and schools and 
catechises the children so diligently. And then 
he is so absurdly civil to the women. They 
swear by him." 

"Why don't you send him to the right 
about ? " growled the alpvogt ; " your blessed 
Herr father would have done, and that right 
quickly." 

" So he would. You are quite right, Herr 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



237 



Alpvogt. But we, unfortunately, live in different 
times, and must use different means. The pastor 
is popular, so popular that if we were to propose 
his dismissal we might not be able to carry 
our proposal, and that would be a serious blow 
to our influence. It is better to wait than to 
fail. Rede should go before deed. Time brings 
opportunity, and I am disposed to think that, 
before our pastor's pupils begin to vote and 
multiply, he will be reprimanding and reproving 
without respect for persons in some other church 
than ours. As our neighbours over the mountains 
say: Chi vivera vedera? 

"That is right/' said the spendvogt, "what 
the Herr Amman says is quite true, nothing 
could be truer ; and, old as some of us are, I 
think we shall all live to see that meddlesome 
parson sent away faster than he came, and not 
on horseback either." 

"It is all the fault of those pestilent newspapers," 
interposed the alpvogt, who being the senior, was 
naturally the most conservative, member of the 
council. " Why, in your Herr father's time, Herr 
Amman, nobody in the gemeinde, save himself 
and the Herr Pastor, ever thought of looking at 
a paper, and now Bernard the brieftraeger, as 



238 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



he was telling me only the other day, actually 
brings into the gemeinde every week no fewer 
than six. No wonder people's minds are un- 
settled, and they do not submit as they used 
to do to the authority of their betters." 

"Well put, Herr Alpvogt," rejoined Hans; 
"people's minds are unsettled, and it is all this 
nonsense about reading and writing that is doing 
the mischief. What business have a lot of peasants 
with newspapers and books, I should like to 
know ? But what cannot be cured must be 
endured. There must be no open opposition to 
the pastor, mind — yet* We cannot swim against 
the stream. When we hear him praised we must 
praise him too ; only you can just shake your 
heads, say something about a new broom sweeping 
clean, and that you hope it may last. Like all 
young men, Herr Schuster has more zeal than 
discretion. One of these days he will be going 
a little too far — there are signs of it already — 
and then But, you understand, I think." 

Jos the writer said they understood perfectly, 
and would faithfully follow the Herr Amman's 
instructions; and after the tankards had been once 
more filled and emptied the council separated. 



CHAPTER IV. 



A RARE FLOWER. 

THE Frau Amman was mistaken in supposing 
that the pastor had fallen in love with the 
warden's daughter, or that he had designs on 
her fortune. He certainly admired the buxom 
Klara, as did most people, for she was a hand- 
some girl, with gentle manners, and it is quite 
possible that, with time and opportunity, admira- 
tion might have developed into a warmer feeling. 
But Herr Schuster's visits were paid as much 
to the mother — who was in delicate health — as 
to the daughter, and when he perceived, from 
Herr and Frau Konrad's manner, that his calls 
had ceased to be welcome, he promptly discontinued 
them. 

" You no longer go to the Herr Warden's ? " 
said Fritz the vorsteher to him one day. 



240 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" No ; they did not seem to want me, and I do 
not like going where I am not made welcome." 

" Can you guess why they don't want you ? " 
asked the other. 

The vorsteher, be it observed, was one of the 
pastor's best friends, and no great admirer of 
Hans Lenkerhorn and his privy council. 

" I suppose they have taken a dislike to me/' 
answered Schuster ; " it may be that I have un- 
wittingly offended the Herr Warden." 

"No, Herr Pastor, I don't think that is it at 
all," said the vorsteher drily ; " unless I am much 
mistaken, it is our noble amman's doing." 

" But how — why ? " exclaimed Schuster, " I 
don't understand " 

"It is very easy to understand though. The 
amman feared you might be finding favour in the 
eyes of the buxom Klara. Klara has a fortune, 
you know. If you married her, you would have 
comfortable money, and our amman does not 
want anybody to be rich but himself — above all a 
pastor who is already more popular than he likes." 

" Surely, Fritz, you do the amman wrong. He 
has always shown himself very friendly." 

"It is all show, though. The amman is a very 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 241 



crafty gentleman, and no friend of yours, Herr 
Pastor. He will do you an ill turn if he can, as I 
well know. I have it from a sure source. But 
never mind, Herr Pastor, you have made yourself 
many friends in the gemeinde. They will stand by 
you, and if our king does not mind what he is 
doing, his reign will be shorter than he looks for/' 

A few days after this conversation Herr Schuster 
set out on a long mountain journey. Botanising was 
his hobby, and in spring and summer he spent most 
of his leisure in the collection and arrangement of 
plants and flowers. He had hitherto rarely ex- 
tended his walks beyond the confines of the 
confederate communes. This time he was about 
to go farther. He meant to cross by the Blitzen- 
spitze into the valley of the Wildwater, an 
affluent of the Rhine, where he hoped to find a 
rare flower, with which he had long desired to 
enrich his collection. 

After walking several hours the pastor reached 
one of the lower spurs of the Blitzen, the highest 
point of which — a slender-seeming shaft of rock, 
black as night — rose high above the snow-line. 
His way lay, not over the summit — which was a 
virgin peak — but by a zigzag path, that wound 

R 



242 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



now through a patch of pine-wood, now by the side 
of a glacier-fed torrent, now over a field of snow, 
towards the pass that gives access to the valley 
of the Wildwater. The weather was superb, and 
the mountains, which still retained much of their 
winter livery, were more gloriously beautiful than 
on the brightest of summer days. The meadows 
and pastures, from which the snow had only lately 
receded, were lustrous with verdure and gay with 
wild-flowers. The trees were silvered with hoar- 
frost, and one glittering crest, white with the snow 
of a thousand winters, rose above another as far as 
the eye could reach. 

So enchanted was Schuster with the scene 
around him, and he lingered so long on the way, 
that it was high noon before he gained the Blitzen 
pass. After taking off the edge of his appetite 
with some cheese and bread he had put in his 
pocket before starting, and slaking his thirst by 
swallowing a mouthful of snow, he began his 
descent towards the valley of the Wildwater, 
where he hoped to find the rare flower, of which 
he was in search. He had not gone far when he 
heard the musical tinkling of cattle-bells, and on 
doubling a promontory of rock, found himself in a 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



verdant pasture, shut in between beetling cliffs, and 
peopled by a herd of beautiful cows, tended by two 
gentle watchers. For albeit one of them, as is the 
custom with alpine shepherdesses when tending 
their flocks, was clad in male attire, there was a 
display of ribbons about her neck, and a coquetry 
in the set of her hat, that would have betrayed her 
sex, even if it had not been announced by her 
occupation — for the damsel was knitting a stocking, 
Her companion wore the costume of the country— 
a gaily-striped skirt, reaching barely to the ankle, 
black bodice, with white wide sleeves, extending 
no farther than the elbow, and an arrangement of 
muslin wound round the head, almost after the 
fashion of a turban. Her cheeks were like the 
petals of the wild rose, her eyes as blue as a forget- 
me-not, her teeth as white as fresh-fallen snow, and 
her tresses as dark as the rocks of the Blitzen. 

" Guteji Tag, Franlein" said the parson, after a 
short pause of surprise, stepping briskly forward 
and politely doffing his hat. 

" Good-day, Herr Pastor," returned the young 
lady in the striped petticoat. 

" Herr Pastor ! " exclaimed Schuster wonder- 
ingly, for there was nothing — just then, at least — 



244 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



clerical in his appearance. He had no long-skirted 
black coat dangling, petticoat fashion, about his 
legs; no foolish little dog-collar encircled his neck; 
no hat of ecclesiastical cut covered his head ; he 
was dressed like a mountaineer, and — save that his 
build was somewhat spare and his cheek rather 
pale — looked like one. " Pray tell me, my little 
lady (mein Fraulein), why you think I am a 
minister.'' 

"Because I have seen you in the pulpit and 
heard you preach/' answered the maiden promptly. 

" But — but I don't remember ever to have seen 
you before, and yours is a face not easily forgotten." 
(Here the pastor examined the girl's features so 
critically that she blushed and looked in another 
direction.) "You surely do not belong to my 
flock ? " 

" Oh no, Herr Pastor. My father and I walked 
over the mountains to hear you preach your first 
sermon. That is the only time I was ever at 
Oberstein." 

" Oh, that explains it. I don't think I saw 
anybody that Sunday — only a crowd of faces." 

"You preached a very good sermon, though. 
My father said he never heard a better. If Ober- 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



stein were not so far off, we should come to hear 
you often." 

Here the pastor doffed his hat a second time, 
and inquired whose ministrations the young lady 
was in the habit of attending. 

" Herr Braunhosen is our pastor," she answered ; 
" but he is getting into years, poor old man ! and 
mumbles so in his talk that nobody can make out 
what he means." 

" Herr Braunhosen is pastor of " 

" Regels." 

" Regels, in the valley of the Wildwater ! Why, 
that is where I am going. I want to find a rare 
flower that grows only on that side of the mountain." 

" You are fond of flowers, then ? " 

" Very. I go about gathering them all the 
summer." 

" So am I. I should like you to see my garden 
at Regels. Who knows ? perhaps you might find 
in it the flower you want. If you like, I will show 
you the way ; it is not very easy to find — at least 
the short cut is not — for strangers." 

" You are very friendly, mein Fraulein. I 
thank you heartily. I shall be very glad to be 
shown the way, if it be not too much trouble." 



246 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Trouble, oh no ! I am going to Regels 
myself. I don't live up here and lodge in the 
hut there, as Klaerchen does. This is my father's 
alp, and these are my father's cows, and I have 
only come to see them and spend an hour with 
Klaerchen. I daresay we shall find my father 
with the woodcutters in the Feenwald. He will 
be glad to make your acquaintance. But won't 
you have a drink of milk before we set out ? 
We cannot offer you anything stronger." 

Schuster declared that, of all things in the 
world, he would like a drink of milk ; whereupon 
Klaerchen was ordered to fetch a jugful from 
the hut ; and her mistress poured out a glass 
for the pastor and gave it him with her own 
dainty hand. He found it a decided improvement 
on the snow he had just swallowed. 

" Ade, Klaerchen," said the young lady, as 
she turned towards the valley, " I shall come to 
see you again one of these days." 

"Ade, Fraulein Valeria/' said the shepherdess, 
making a curtsey, which, in her undraped con- 
dition had so droll an effect, that her mistress 
broke into a merry laugh, and the pastor, despite 
his desire to be proper and polite, could not 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



247 



repress a smile ; whereupon poor Klaerchen blushed 
violently and hid herself behind a big boulder. 

"So Valeria is your name," observed the 
pastor. "You must come of a Romansch or 
Italian stock." 

" I am called Valeria Schnewitchen, and my 
father is Hauptmann (captain) Schnewitchen," said 
the maiden, who was frankness itself, and un- 
sophisticated to a fault, And then she went on 
to tell Schuster all about herself, her family, and 
the people of Regels. Her father, she said, 
had been a soldier of fortune. While still very 
young he made the campaign of Moscow. He 
had served in the army of Holland, in the Swiss 
guard of Louis XVIIL, and had held a commission 
in one of the Swiss regiments of the king of 
Naples. He was married in Italy to a lady who 
died on the very day Valeria was born. A few 
years after his wife's death, Captain Schnewitchen 
retired from the Neapolitan service, settled with 
his daughter in his native gemeinde, and was now 
the largest landowner in Regels and an officer in 
the cantonal militia. 

As Valeria concluded this story, which was 
told at some length and with many digressions, 



248 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



they reached a hollow in the mountain filled with 
snow, that, owing to its northern exposure and 
the shadow cast by a high wall of rock, had only 
just begun to melt. 

"This is our nearest way," said Valeria, 
" right over the snow. Are you good at crossing 
snow? " 

" Of course I am," replied Schuster, with a 
smile. " Nobody can well live in Graubiinden, 
or pass two winters in Oberstein, without becom- 
ing an adept in snow-walking." 

" That is good. But a slip on a road, or an 
ordinary mountain-path, is nothing ; on this Ber- 
griicken it might be fatal. Down there " (pointing 
to the extremity of the slope) " is the Schwartzer 
Abgrund (black precipice), it is more than a 
thousand feet deep. The snow, too, is treacherous 
just now; soft on the surface and hard and slippery 
underneath. You must be very careful. Plant 
every footstep firmly, and keep a fast grip of your 
alpenstock. I will go first, please — I must — I 
know the way, and you do not. The snow is 
melting to-day. See, the track we made this 
morning — Andreas, the ziegenhirt, and I — has 
nearly disappeared." 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



249 



The ridge was very steep, so steep that Valeria 
had often to pause and stamp steps with her feet 
before going farther. The snow descended almost 
sheer to the edge of the precipice. The pastor 
followed his fair leader closely and cautiously, 
now and then exchanging a word with her. 

They had won about half the distance towards 
the further edge of the arret and were beginning 
to descend — for they had to pursue a zigzag 
course — when Schuster was startled by a sudden 
exclamation from Valeria. 

" Ach ! the dear father is coming to meet me. 
How good he is ! He feared I should not be able 
to cross the Bergriicken alone — as if I did not 
know the way as well as he ! " 

" Oh God in heaven, the Herr Pastor has gone ! 
He will fall over the Abgrund and be killed. Father, 
father, save him — save the Herr Pastor ! That is 
a good father ; run, run, you will reach the bottom 
of the Bergriicken before him. 1 ' 

It was quite true. Schuster, who had been 
listening to Valeria and looking at her father, 
instead of minding his footing, had made a false 
step, and was now shooting down the snow-slope 
with the velocity of an avalanche. In vain he dug 



250 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



his hands, and tried to plant his heels in the snow ; 
it melted in his grasp like water ; he went round 
and round like a teetotum, and every second 
brought him nearer to the edge of the terrible 
Schwartzer Abgrund. 

He had abandoned hope, and was trying to 
think a hurried prayer, when he felt himself caught 
by the collar, and a firm hand raised him to his 
feet. 

"It is well I was here, Meinherr," said his 
rescuer, " or you would have been somewhere else." 

The pastor, who was too breathless and too 
much overcome by emotion to speak, could only 
for the moment look the thanks he would fain have 
uttered. 

Hauptmann Schnewitchen had a red brown 
face, scarred in two places with sword-cuts, heavy 
grizzled moustaches, broad shoulders, and long limbs. 
Though he had passed his sixtieth year the captain 
was still an active mountaineer, and renowned for 
his prowess as a hunter of the chamois and the 
bear. When he heard his daughter's cry he did 
not attempt to overtake Schuster — the attempt 
would have been useless — but by running dia- 
gonally down the arret he gained the edge of the 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 251 

precipice in time to intercept him, and so literally 
plucked the pastor from the jaws of death. 

a Come this way/' said Schnewitchen, when the 
minister had recovered his breath, " we will mount 
the rocks on this side and join my daughter up 
there. ,, 

Schuster gave a nod of assent. He was still 
too full to speak. 

They found Valeria standing near the edge of 
the arret, looking very pale and agitated. 

u Who is this gentleman ?" asked thehauptmann 
in Italian, when he had come within speaking 
distance of his daughter. 

"What! Don't you recognise him, father? 
He is the Herr Pastor of Oberstein." 

"Who under providence owes his life to 
you," said Schuster, in the same language, as he 
doffed his hat and saluted Herr Schnewitchen. 

" I am delighted to make your acquaintance," 
replied the captain, as he returned the salute. 
" Tut, tut, Meinherr, you are not the first man who 
has slipped on a Bergriicken and been helped to 
his feet by a friendly hand. You would have 
done the same to me. Let us say no more 
about it." 



252 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" He is going into the valley, father, to look for 
a rare flower." 

" I see. The Herr Pastor is a botanist. I hope 
he will find what he wants. But he must first 
vorlieb nekmen (take pot-luck) with us at Regels. 
I had good luck fishing this morning. You shall 
taste our trout, and I have some complitir in 
my cellar that would not disgrace the White 
Cross at Ouera. We will crack a bottle of it, you 
and I." 

The pastor did not refuse the invitation, and an 
hours easy walking, for it was all downhill, brought 
them to their destination. Though Regels lies in a 
valley overshadowed by great mountains, it is nearly 
four thousand feet above sea-level — a village of 
neat brown chalets, farm buildings of antique 
pattern, two or three substantial houses of white 
stone, with a quaint church, whose copper-covered 
spire gleams in the brilliant sunshine like burnished 
gold. Regels is surrounded by meadows and 
orchards, and the Wildwater, white with " glacier 
milk," eddies swiftly past it towards the Rhine. 
Most of the inhabitants are of Romansch origin, 
and speak the lingua Romanscha ; but several 
German-Swiss families have long been settled in 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



253 



the valley, and nearly all understand German, 
which is fast superseding the Latin dialects of the 
Engadines and the Vorder Rhein. 

In one of Regel's white houses lived Hauptmann 
Schnewitchen and his daughter Valeria. The house 
was roomy, and the rooms were spacious and 
lofty. It had been built after the hauptmann's 
own design, and in bright sunny weather suggested, 
as he doubtless wished it to do, reminiscences of 
the sunny south. A broad verandah in full view 
of the Blitzenspitze and the Wildwater overlooked 
a charming garden, the cultivation of which was 
Valeria's favourite pastime. In this verandah the 
parson was regaled with a luxurious repast. The 
trout were supplemented with other good things, 
and Schnewitchen — who rarely had an intelligent 
listener — as they discussed the bottle of complitir, 
fought his battles over again, and talked much 
and pleasantly about the countries he had visited, 
and the stirring events in which he had taken 
part. Valeria played several airs on the piano, 
and sang a Romansch song. As for Schuster, he 
found the company of his new friends so agreeable 
that he forgot all about his botanising, and when 
he rose to take his leave, the alpcn gluhen was 



254 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



playing over the glacier-crowned summit of the 
Gallinario. 

The hauptmann insisted on accompanying his 
guest as far as the Blitzen pass. Before they 
parted he pressed the minister to pay them another 
visit. 

"Come as often as you can, Herr Pastor," 
said the old soldier. " You may always count on 
a warm welcome and good cheer. The walk is 
long, I know, but it will stretch your legs and 
improve your wind. And as for plants, you will 
find as many as you want on the sunny side of 
the Blitzen, and down here in the valley." 

On this hint the pastor acted. Whatever 
direction he took at starting, his botanising 
excursions generally ended at Regels. Something 
seemed to drag him thither. More that once he 
found Valeria keeping Klaerchen company in the 
old place, and walked with her to the village, 
where he always met with the warm welcome 
which the captain had promised him. There were 
good reasons why his visits should be agreeable 
both to the father and daughter. For Schuster, 
albeit a poor Swiss parson, was a scholar and a 
gentleman ; and though he was not a travelled 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



255 



man like the hauptmann, he knew many things 
of which the hauptmann was ignorant, even in the 
latter's own line. 

As for Valeria, she looked up to the Herr 
Pastor as a being of a superior order, and was lost 
in astonishment at the variety and profundity of 
his learning. He helped her with her garden; 
told her many surprising things touching the 
nature and habits of plants ; was thoroughly 
conversant with the history of Free Old Rhaetia, 
and could go on talking for hours about the Three 
Rhaetian Leagues, the Gray League (whence 
Graubiinden), the League of God's House, and the 
League of the Ten Jurisdictions — subjects in which 
Valeria took the greatest delight. 

All this time the parson was worshipping 
Valeria in secret, not daring to hint his love, for 
fear he might be forbidden her father's house. He 
was too poor, he thought, to be accepted as the 
suitor of the wealthy hauptmann's daughter. 

Nobody at Oberstein knew of Schuster's visits 
to Regels, and of his friendship with the Schne- 
witchens. It was the busy season. All the young 
people were watching the cattle in the mountains, 
all the men were busy on the land. Seed had to 



256 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



be sown, crops harvested, wood fetched from the 
forest. The women, too, had to work, and none 
had time to take note of the Herr Pastor's comings 
and goings. He remembered the warning of Fritz 
the vorsteher, and kept his own counsel ; and his 
passion for botanis'ing was a sufficient excuse for 
frequent absences and long excursions. 

And so things went on, until the herald snow 
of another winter whitened the slopes of the 
Blitzen and the Gallinario, boding the approach 
of hard weather, and warning the herds on the 
mountains to lead their flocks to the valleys. 

On a morning in the latter half of September, 
the pastor once more wended his way by the well- 
known path towards the vale of the Wildwater. 
The air was keen and the sky nebulous, the pools 
by the wayside were coated with ice, and the trees 
white with hoar-frost. Every sign denoted that 
this might be the last visit he could make to 
Kegels for many months, and his heart was heavy 
within him. On the alp below the pass he found, 
as he had expected, Valeria and Klaerchen. Valeria 
wore furs, and Klaerchen had added to the oddity 
of her appearance by throwing over her shoulders 
an old sack. With the help of several boys and 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



257 



girls she was getting her cows and goats together, 
preparatory to driving them down the mountain, 
and the hills all round were alive with the tinkling 
of bells, the low of kine, and the merry yoedelling 
of their keepers. 

" Guten Tag y Herr Pastor," said Valeria, extend- 
ing her hand ; "are you to come to help Klaerchen 
to take the cows home ? " 

" Certainly, mein Fraulein., if you ask it," an- 
swered Schuster briskly ; for the moment he set 
eyes on Miss Schnewitchen his spirits seemed to 
revive. " Shall I help you, Klaerchen ? " 

" Ich danke, nein" returned the hirtine, with a 
laugh. " What do Herr Pastors know about cows 
and goats ? Why, you would be driving them over 
the Schwartzer Abgrund, and what would the Herr 
Hauptmann say then? You keep Fraulein Valeria 
company. You like that better than following at 
the tail of a flock of cows, I know right well — dass 
weiss ich ganz gut" 

This sally made Valeria blush and the parson 
look slightly foolish, and they walked on silently 
in the wake of Klaerchen and her flocks and 
herds. Whether by accident or design, they let 
the drove get a long way before them, and as 

s 



2 5 8 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



they entered the Feenwald at one end the tail 
of the last cow disappeared at the other. The silence 
by this time was beginning to be oppressive, the 
more especially as each was thinking about the other. 

" That is a very nice cow/' said the pastor, by 
way of breaking the ice — and the silence. 

" Very " said Valeria absently ; " and so kind 
and learned. ,, 

" A kind and learned cow ! " exclaimed the 
bewildered Schuster. u But, liebes Fraulein, how 
can a cow be kind and learned ? I never " 

" I meant — that is, I did not mean — I mean 
that I was not paying attention to what you said ; 
I was thinking about something else," stammered 
Valeria. 

" And I was thinking about something else too, 
Fraulein." 

"Yes, Herr Pastor?" 

" I was thinking how many weary months must 
go by before the pass is free from snow — for there 
will be a downfall to-night or to-morrow — and I 
can come to Regels again." 

" But there is the road ; why cannot you take a 
sledge and come by the road ? " said Valeria, with 
an alarmed look. 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 259 



"For several reasons. I have neither horse 
nor sledge ; the new schoolmaster has not come — 
there is no telling when he will come — and until he 
does I shall have no time for visiting ; and there 
is another reason." 

" What is the other reason, Herr Pastor ? " 

" People would talk. They would say I had an 
object : they would perhaps say that I went to 
Regels to see you." 

" Is there anything wrong in coming to see us, 
Herr Pastor ? " 

a But don't you see, Fraulein, they might say 
that I went to visit you ; they might say that — 
that — I love you ? " 

" And don't you, Herr Pastor ? " asked Valeria, 
regarding him calmly with her forget-me-not eyes. 
" Is it not our duty to love each other ? " 

"It is, and I hope I love my fellow-men ; but 
you, Valeria," exclaimed Schuster passionately, " I 
love more than all the world ; and if I dared — if I 
were not so poor — I w r ould ask you to be my wife." 

"But I know so little," murmured the girl, "and 
you are so learned/' 

" Then you do — you do love me ? " said the 
pastor joyfully, taking both her hands in his. 

s 2 



260 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"Yes, Herr Pastor, I do love you," returned 
Valeria, looking at him steadfastly, though her 
voice trembled and a bright blush mantled her 
cheek. " But I am so ignorant and you are so 
learned. " 

" But you are good, my Valeria, and goodness 
is far before learning," said the pastor, as he 
timidly and almost reverently touched with his lips 
the girl's pure forehead. Your innocence is better 
than my knowledge, and your love is a blessing of 
which I am not worthy. But what will your father 
say ? I am afraid he will be very angry/' 

" If he is angry with you he will be angry with 
me, and that is impossible ; he has never been 
angry with me in all my life." 

This argument, though encouraging as far as it 
went, did not seem to the pastor absolutely con- 
clusive, and he informed the hauptmann of what 
had come to pass with considerable misgiving as to 
the manner in which his confession would be 
received. But he might have spared his anxiety. 
Captain Schnewitchen showed neither anger nor 
surprise. 

" Valeria is the only kin I have," he said, " and 
what makes for her happiness makes for mine. 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 261 



God knows I don't want to part with the child, but 
we must part some time, and I'd like to see her 
comfortably settled before my name is taken 
off the muster-roll. I think you are worthy of 
her, pastor, if any man can be worthy of so 
good a girl. As for your poverty, never mind 
that ; you have youth and energy, and all I have is 
Valeria's." 

So Schuster went on his homeward way re- 
joicing : and though, as he descended the Blitzen 
towards Oberstein, the clouds gathered overhead, 
and the air was thick with fast-falling snow, he 
heeded it not, thinking only of the fair flower he 
had found in the vale of the Wild water, and of 
the bright future before him. 



CHAPTER V. 



VICTORY AND DEFEAT. 

When the amman heard of the pastor's betrothal 
to Valeria Schnewitchen he was more put about 
than his wife had known him to be for a long 
time. 

"Thunder and lightning !" he exclaimed. "I 
had better have let him marry the buxom Klara. 
That Schnewitchen is rich, and can give his 
daughter no end of a mitgift" 

" Cannot you stop it ? " asked the Frau Amman. 

" How can I stop it ? Are they not betrothed ? 
Schuster will be more popular than ever now. 
Well, we must just swim with the stream. Time 
brings opportunity. I daresay we shall catch him 
tripping one of these days." 

The next time Hans met Schuster he con- 
gratulated him on his good fortune, and wished 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



263 



him every happiness; and the Frau Amman said she 
had heard that Fraulein Schnewitchen was as good 
as she was handsome, and would have a fine mitgift 7 
and that the Herr Pastor was a very lucky man — a 
sentiment in which the Herr Pastor fully concurred, 
It was not long before the amman had another 
cause for disquietude, and another reason for 
fearing and hating the pastor. One of the old 
customs of Oberstein was a sort of corvee. At 
certain times of the year all the people of the 
commune were constrained to turn out — either in 
person or deputy — to mend the communal roads, to 
the great profit of the large proprietors, who in this 
way got the roads leading to their mountain 
pastures kept in order by the unpaid labour of the 
poorer members of the gemeinde. Though the 
custom had not the sanction of law, and those upon 
whom the burden fell resented it in secret, nobody 
had yet ventured to resist it openly. But the 
pastor, emboldened by his love, and encouraged by 
the thought that his marriage with Valeria would 
make him independent both of the amman and 
the commune, resolved on the first opportunity to 
denounce the custom, and, if possible, deliver his 
humbler parishioners from the yoke imposed on 



264 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



them by those whom they regarded as their 
betters. 

The opportunity soon came. One day when 
he was out for a walk, Schuster found a number of 
people busy mending a road, that was in no sense 
a public road. It led no whither but to the 
amman's mountain pastures, and was used ex- 
clusively by his cattle and servants. Among the 
workers Schuster perceived a poor widow, whose 
sole possession was a couple of goats, and who, as 
he well knew, had a hard struggle to make both 
ends meet. 

" I think you might have been spared this task, 
Trina," he said, pausing in his walk. 

"It is an old custom," answered the woman, 
wiping the sweat from her brow ; ic but it is not 
right." 

" True, Trina. Prescription is no justification 
for oppression. But why do you and these others" 
(several of whom were listening to the conversation) 
"submit to this oppression? The law does not 
compel you to give your labour — why then do you 
give it ? " 

" I don't know," muttered Trina, shaking her 
head dubiously. " It's an old custom ; the amman 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



265 



is a great man, and there is no telling what he 
might do." 

"The amman cannot harm you/' said Schuster 
calmly. 

" The Herr Pastor is quite right/' said a young 
fellow, who was leaning listening on his spade. " I 
am tired of working for nothing, and I shall go, let 
stay who will." 

And shouldering his spade he marched off. In 
a few minutes he was followed by all the others, 
and the last survival of feudalism was abolished 
once and for all in the commune of Oberstein. 

When the amman heard of this incident he 
was terribly annoyed, and uttered curses, not loud 
but deep, for he was touched both in his dignity 
and his pocket. 

" I will teach this meddlesome parson to stick 
to his last," he exclaimed furiously. "What business 
has he to interfere with things that concern him 
not ? " 

This was what Hans said in the bosom of his 
family and the secrecy of his council. When he 
met the minister he always spoke him fair ; and he 
took frequent occasion to commend openly his 
devotion and zeal. 



266 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Shortly after his marriage, which took place 
the following summer, the parson succeeded in 
effecting another reform, which, unfortunately, did 
not prove as permanent as his abolition of the 
corvee. He put down — for a while — the custom 
of fuddling at funerals. Ever since his arrival at 
Oberstein he had set his face against this custom. 
He was shocked when mourners appeared at a 
graveside in a state of brutal intoxication. By 
incessant remonstrance, by appeals from the pulpit, 
by personal entreaty,, he had so far influenced 
public opinion that wine and schnapps were no 
longer dispensed in the chamber of death ; yet the 
consumption of drink on these occasions was still 
excessive, and funerals often gave rise to scandalous 
scenes, both before and after interment. 

At length the pastor, feeling himself, as he said, 
strong in the affection of his people, proposed that 
the gemeinde should suppress the practice by a 
local police regulation, a regulation which at that 
time they had full power to adopt. Now, however, 
the power no longer exists. The Federal Consti- 
tution of 1874 put an end to local option, and 
removed every check on the production and con- 
sumption of strong drink, with the consequence 



POTENTATE AND PARSON 



267 



that Switzerland is fast becoming — if it has not 
already become — the most drunken country in 
Europe. 

The minister's proposal, as may be supposed, 
provoked much comment, and encountered a 
formidable opposition. 

" Heaven's thunder ! " said Alpvogt Christian 
to Spendvogt Michel, " what will the # man want 
next ? He will not be content until every one of 
our time-honoured customs is swept away. What 
says the Herr Amman ? " 

" The Herr Amman will not oppose the Herr 
Pastor," said the spendvogt, with a curious look. 
" For this he has good reasons, which you will 
perhaps learn from himself. Time brings oppor- 
tunities, you know." 

"So it does — for the parson," growled the 
alpvogt. " I wonder when our turn will come ? 
If the Herr Amman's father had been alive he 
would have known better than to stand all this 
nonsense. But politics nowadays are getting 
beyond the comprehension of a plain old fellow 
like me. If this sort of thing goes on much longer 
there will be nothing for it but to retire from public 
life altogether." 



268 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 

The spendvogt was right. To the surprise of 
all, save those in the secret, Hans offered no 
opposition to Schuster's proposals. He frankly- 
admitted that excessive drinking at funerals — or 
any other time — was not exactly a desirable thing; 
and though he feared the Herr Pastor's proposals 
went a little too far, he was entirely in the hands 
of the gemeinde ; whatever measure his fellow- 
citizens thought it expedient to sanction he would 
frankly accept and strictly enforce. 

After a speech from the pastor, the new regu- 
lation, forbidding drinking at funerals, and impos- 
ing further restrictions on the sale of drink, was 
adopted, though not by a very large majority. 

The amman was as good as his word. He 
enforced the enactment with relentless severity. 
When complaints were made that he was too hard, 
he would answer that it was his duty to administer 
the law. as he found it — a law for which, not he 
and his council, but the Herr Pastor and the 
majority of the gemeinde were responsible. 

The consequences, which the astute potentate 
had foreseen from the first, were not long in mani- 
festing themselves. Before the law was many 
months old a violent reaction set in against it, and 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 



269 



a party bitterly hostile to the pastor was formed in 
the gemeinde. The seven innkeepers of the con- 
federate communes, all of whom were heavily hit 
by the parson's Muzzling Law — as the new regu- 
lation came to be called — with as many of 
their customers as they could influence, joined 
the ranks of Schuster's enemies. These again were 
reinforced by not a few weak-kneed friends of 
sobriety, who, yearned for the fleshpots of Egypt — 
in other words, for the free fuddles that from time 
immemorial had been the invariable concomitants 
of funerals, and by all who thought old things 
better than new, and objected on principle to every 
sort of innovation. It was a contest between good 
and evil — and evil won. 

When the amman gathered from the reports of 
his councillors, and his own observation, that the 
pastor's influence was on the wane, he perceived 
that the opportunity he had so long waited for 
had arrived, and he resolved to strike the grand 
blow for which he had so craftily prepared the 
way. An ordinary man would have been content to 
checkmate the parson by procuring the abolition of 
his Muzzling Law. But Hans Lenkerhorn was not 
an ordinary man. He determined not alone to 



270 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



repeal the law, but to get rid of its author. 
Measures were taken accordingly. At the next 
yearly meeting of the confederate burghers there 
was an unusually strong muster of publicans and 
sinners ; and Spendvogt Michel proposed, and 
Writer Jos seconded, a motion calling upon Pastor 
Schuster to give in his resignation. The pastor 
and his friends were taken by surprise, and after a 
hot debate, in which Fritz the vorsteher took a 
leading part, the motion was carried by a majority 
equal to that whereby fuddling at funerals (soon to 
be re-established) had been forbidden. 

' The pastor accepted his fate with resignation. 
The loss was not his. Valeria's fortune of twelve 
hundred gulden a-year (one hundred pounds) made 
him passing rich, and both he and she felt that he 
might find a more congenial sphere of duty than a 
parish ruled by an unscrupulous potentate, where 
his services had been so little appreciated and so 
ill requited. 

When the pastor preached his last sermon, and 
bade his flock a loving farewell, there was hardly a 
dry eye in the church — especially among the women 
■ — who, if they might have had their way, would never 



POTENTATE AND PARSON. 271 



have suffered their revered minister to be igno- 
miniously dismissed for a too faithful performance 
of his duty. The next day he went away, with 
deep sorrow in his heart — for he had made many 
dear friends in Oberstein — yet full of hope that 
God would not allow to perish the seed he had so 
painfully sown. . 

Thirty years afterwards Karl Schuster, now a 
university professor and an author of high repute, 
came again to Oberstein, as member of a Govern- 
ment Commission on education, and he greatly 
rejoiced to find that his hope had not been in 
vain. 

The landamman slept by the side of Peter his 
father — none of HansLenkerhorn's sons having been 
found worthy to succeed him — and the first child bap- 
tised by the pastor reigned in the potentate's stead. 
The old wooden schoolhouse was replaced with a 
substantial stone building, in which the children 
of the gemeinde were taught by a trained teacher 
from Chur. Herr Schuster's successor gladdened 
him with the information that the custom of exces- 
sive drinking at funerals was falling into desuetude, 



272 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



and he saw everywhere so many signs of improve- 
ment that he went away, for the second time and 
the last, with a thankful heart and full of hope for 
the future of the community in which he had spent 
the first eventful years of his ministry. 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



T 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS 



CHAPTER I. 

On a fine morning in the month of June,, 187 — , 
Mr. and Mrs. Briggs sat down to breakfast in the 
salle-a-manger of the Hotel de la Paix at Geneva. 
Being early, and having a choice of places, they 
had taken a small table — at the suggestion of the 
head-waiter — in a part of the room which com- 
manded a view of the lake, the Rhone, and the 
Alps. A northerly wind, fresh but not too sharp, 
had dispersed the fog that shortly after daybreak 
had somewhat obscured the prospect, and the 
mighty Mont Blanc, lighted up by an unclouded 
sun, was showing himself in all the fulness of his 
splendid proportions — white, dazzling, and majestic. 

" Yon's Mount Blank, waiter, isn't it ? " asked 
Mr. Briggs, pointing his finger in that direction. 

T 2 



276 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"Yes, sir, that's Mon Blon," answered the 
waiter, as he bustled off to fetch Mr. and Mrs. 
Briggs their cafe-att-lait. 

" Isn't it grand ? " observed Mrs. Briggs enthusi- 
astically. " It just looks as if it were med of blank 
mange " (by which the lady probably meant blanc- 
manger). 

" Well, I was thinking it looked uncommon like 
a mountain of fresh-deviled cotton. By gum, it 
would be worth some brass if it wor ! " 

" Wouldn't they stare at it in Bolton 1" remarked 
Mrs. Briggs, disdaining to notice her husband's last 
remark, which she deemed rather coarse. 

"Ay, and they'd see it too, if it were clapped 
atop of Rivington Pike. And look there, what a 
lot of good water's running all to waste. It would 
keep some bleach crofts going, yon would." 

At this moment the waiter returned with the 
coffee. 

" Is this all as you're going to bring us ? " asked 
Mr. Briggs, with a dissatisfied air, as he surveyed 
the table, on which there were placed, besides the 
coffee and milk-jugs, a few rolls of bread, two pats 
of butter, and a small jar of honey. "TV bread 
looks very nice, but I'd like summut a bit solider." 



LUC&Y SAM BRIGGS. 



277 



" We generally serve only cafe-au-lait, or tea 
and bread, for first breakfast; but if monsieur 
would like some meat or eggs, or an omelette, 
they can be prepared in a few minutes." 

" Well, what shall it be, Mary Ann ? " said Mr. 
Briggs, appealing, as gentlemen are wont to do 
in such circumstances, to his better-half. 

" Whatever you like, Sam, I'm not pertickler." 

" Well, then/' observed Mr. Briggs, true to his 
British instincts, " we'll have beefsteaks. Waiter, 
bring two beefsteaks.' , 

" Yes, sir ; anything else, sir ? " answered the 
waiter, who had served part of his apprenticeship 
in London. 

"No, I think that'll be all. Stay, you may 
bring us a few potatoes, if you have ^ny ready. 
And look here, waiter — has owt been heard o' my 
portmantle ? " 

"No, sir. You can hardly expect an answer 
yet, sir. It was only last night that Mr. Trink- 
mann telegraphed to Paris." 

And the waiter went off at a run to order the 
beefsteaks and potatoes. 

" If I may tell you what I think about th' 
portmantle," observed Mrs. Briggs, in a tone of 



278 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



reproach, "you'll never see it again. I never 
knew such a thing as to tak' it to th' wrong 
office V that way." 

"Oh, we'll get it reet enough, you'll see. I 
always was lucky about them things. I never 
lose owt. And if I did tak' it to th' wrong shop — 
what then ? Hasn't many a one done th' same ? " 

"Why didn't you ask?" 

" I dar'say ! It is all very fine asking when 
you cannot talk. But you have no call to worrit, 
Mary Ann ; th' portmantle '11 be heard on afore 
the day's o'er, tak' my word for it. We got 
that shawl as you lost i' Lundon, and when I 
left my topcoat V that cab i' Paris, didn't th' 
driver bring it back th' day after? I always 
was lucky^ and never more so than when I wed 
thee, my lass." 

Mrs. Briggs, appeased by this gallant speech, 
smiled graciously, and poured out for her husband 
a cup of coffee. 

They were more than halfway through with 
their beefsteaks and pommes sautees, which Mr. 
Briggs declared to be "tip-top, and no mistake," 
when the indefatigable waiter, with a look of 
importance, placed on the table a yellow envelope. 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



279 



" Behold a despatch for monsieur," he said. 

" Didn't I tell you ? " observed Mr. Briggs 
triumphantly to his wife, as he laid down his 
knife and fork and broke open the seal. "It's 
about that portmantle." 

But it was not " about that portmantle," and, 
as Mr. Briggs read, his ruddy countenance turned 
deadly pale, his lips trembled, and beads of 
perspiration started on his brow. 

H What is it, what is it, Sam ? " exclaimed 
Mrs. Briggs, turning also pale ; for she could 
see that the missive contained evil tidings. 

"Oh Mary Ann, it's about Betsy — she's took 
ill! — she's very bad. What shall we do? — we 
mun go home at once." 

" Let me see, let me see/' said Mrs. Briggs 
excitedly, snatching the telegram from her 
husband's shaking hands. 

A tear trickled down her cheek as she hastily 
ran her eye over the ill-omened message ; for 
Betsy, whom a few days before she had left at 
Bolton healthy and happy, was the youngest of 
her children, the flower and favourite of her flock. 
Hardly able to believe her own eyes, she read 
it a second time slowly and painfully, dwelling 



280 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



on every syllable, and almost spelling every word. 
As she read on, her look of sorrow changed into 
one of bewilderment, then of indignation ; and, 
throwing the unlucky paper angrily on the table, 
she exclaimed, with a withering look at her 
husband : 

"Why, it isn't for us at all, man, and it isn't 
Betsy as is ill, it's Bates ; look here. And it's 
from somebody called Jones, and we know no 
Jones. Where's th' henvelope ? " 

Mrs. Briggs was quite right. The telegram 
was signed "Jones," and the name mentioned in 
it was " Bates," though the " s " being written with 
a long tail, as is customary with continental writers, 
it did not look unlike " Betsy." Mr. Briggs picked 
up the envelope, which he had thrown on the 
floor. A more careful scrutiny showed that it 
was addressed to Monsieur Riggs, a name that, 
in the hurry of the moment, he might easily 
have mistaken for his own. He had, therefore, 
every excuse for opening the envelope ; but his 
wife was very indignant that she should have 
been made the victim of his blunder in con- 
founding " Bates " with their Betsy, and she 
expressed her sense of his stupidity in language 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



281 



more forcible than elegant. She had never had 
such a turn in all her life before, she said. If 
you had touched her with a feather she was 
that " took n that she would have fallen off her 
chair. What could he think, she demanded, to 
read the thing that careless as not to see it 
came from somebody of the name of Jones, and 
what had he learned to write for if he could not 
tell the difference between " Bates " and " Betsy " ? 

Mr. Briggs, thus objurgated, had very little to 
say for himself, so he turned to vent his wrath on 
the waiter, who had caused all the trouble by 
bringing him a message clearly meant for some- 
body else. 

Just then his eye was caught by the figure of 
Monsieur Trinkmann, the proprietor of the hotel, 
who was coming towards them with another yellow 
envelope in his hand. 

" What's up now ? " said Mr. Briggs, in a 
puzzled voice. " I'll be hanged if there isn't 
another of them things." 

"I'm afraid there has been some mistake about a 
telegram, Mr. Briggs," said the landlord, who spoke 
passable English, and was particularly attentive 
to his guests. " We have a Mr. Riggs staying 



282 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



here, and he seems to have got a message meant 
for you, while you may possibly have got the one 
meant for him." 

" Is this it ? " asked the other, exhibiting the 
telegram he had opened. 

"Monsieur Riggs ; yes, this is it ; and this one, 
I believe, is for you." 

"It seems to be," observed Briggs dubiously, 
carefully scanning the address before opening 
the envelope. "Here, stop a minute," he 
called out to M. Trinkmann, who was making, 
off with the other message. "This is a darned 
thing in French as I cannot read a word of. Would 
you be good enough ? " 

" Certainly, with pleasure. It's from the chef 
de gave (the station-master) at Paris, to say that 
your portmanteau has been found and will be sent 
off by the express to-night. You may expect it 
here by eleven o'clock to-morrow morning." 

" Thank you kindly, sir. What a fine thing it 
is to understand two or three languages as you do, 
Monsieur Trinkmann ; I wish I could. And now, 
Mary Ann, what do you think now ? Didn't I tell 
you as the portmantle would turn up all right ? I 
always was lucky, and nobody can deny it neither." 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



283 



"Ay, more luckier than clever," answered the 
lady sharply, for she was far from having recovered 
from the shock of her husband's untoward 
announcement. 

Briggs, not being prepared with an immediate 
answer to this home-thrust, and thinking, pro- 
bably, a change of subject desirable, hinted that 
it was about time they were taking their contem- 
plated drive in the direction of Fern ey, and intimated 
that if Mrs. B. would go upstairs and " put on her 
things," he would go and order a carriage. 

While this is being done, and our hero and 
heroine are on their way to Ferney, it may, perhaps, 
please the reader to be informed who they are and 
whence they come. Mr. Briggs, known to his 
familiars as "Sam Briggs," is a retired cotton- 
waste dealer from Bolton, of some five-and-fifty 
years old, stout, broad built, and with a ruddy 
good-humoured face. His hair and mutton-chop 
whiskers are white, and he sports a white hat, 
which he is fond of wearing slightly on one side. 
His origin is of the humblest, and he owes his 
success in life entirely to his own industry and 
thrift, though, as regards thrift, he has been 
admirably seconded by his wife. But Sam Briggs 



284 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



is enterprising as well as industrious. By dint of 
judicious buying and selling during the American 
war he made a considerable fortune, and, what is 
far more remarkable, he managed to keep it. 

Shortly before his appearance at the Hotel de 
la Paix he had retired from business in favour of 
his two sons. One of the first uses he made of 
his liberty was to pay a visit to the Continent, 
which he had long had a desire to see ; for, though 
rather rough of speech and somewhat unrefined in 
manner, Mr. Briggs was by no means devoid of 
intelligence, and people who tried to take advantage 
of his seeming simplicity, generally got the worst 
of the bargain ; moreover, as he himself said, he 
was often greatly befriended by luck. Besides 
Betsy, whom they had left in charge of their 
house at Bolton, Mr. and Mrs. Briggs had a 
married daughter — wife of a cotton-spinner — who 
regularly every year presented them with a grand- 
child ; and, as their elder son was also married and 
the father of a numerous progeny, there was little 
probability of the race of Briggs dying out, or of 
the head of the family being under the painful 
necessity of leaving his fortune to the Bolton 
Infirmary. 



CHAPTER II. 



Our travellers were highly delighted with their 
drive to Ferney and Gex, and along the foot of the 
Jura, by Divonne and Coppet, back to Geneva. 
They returned to their hotel at six o'clock, with 
ravenous appetites, and did full justice to the 
excellent dinner provided for them by mine host 
of the inn. 

When the meal was over they seated themselves 
in the corridor of the hotel, and listened to the 
strains of a magnificent musical-box, provided by 
the landlord for the delectation of his guests ; 
while Mr. Briggs regaled himself with an excellent 
cigar, which he enjoyed all the more that he had 
bought it at the astonishingly low price of three 
halfpence. 

The sight around them was novel and interest- 



286 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



ing. Visitors were walking, singly and in groups, 
about the corridor ; some were sitting at little 
tables sipping coffee, others were playing baga- 
telle ; people were coming and going ; gaily-dressed 
ladies were promenading with knickerbockered 
gentlemen.; through the swinging-doors could be 
seen skiffs shooting about on the river ; steamers 
were coming and going, and the huge mass of the 
Rhone, swollen by the melting of Alpine snows, 
rushed arrow-like under the Pont du Mont Blanc, 
and eddied past Rousseau's isle in the soft light of 
the setting sun. 

Mr. Briggs was contemplating this varied scene 
with serene satisfaction, when he suddenly received 
a dig in the ribs that almost made him swallow all 
that remained of his three-halfpenny cigar ; and 
the partner of his life, with a look of horror, 
directed his attention to a small table near them, 
whereat were seated two ladies. 

One of the ladies was middle-aged, and wore 
garments of sober hue ; the other was young, fair, 
and fashionably, almost flashily, attired. At the 
moment Mr. Briggs set eyes on them the soberly- 
dressed one had just handed to her companion a 
lighted match, which the younger lady was in the 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



287 



act of applying to a long cigarette, delicately- 
poised between a pair of lovely lips. 

" I never saw such a thing in all my life, Sam," 
whispered Mrs. B. to her spouse — never ; she's no 
better than she should be, I'm sure she isn't. I 
thought you said this was *a respectable house ? " 

"And so it is, one of th' respectablest in 
Geneva." 

" Nonsense ! How can it be when such as 
them's here ? " 

It should be remarked that Mrs. Briggs was 
a strict chapel-goer, and plumed herself on the 
extreme correctness of her moral principles. 

"Well, it is rayther stiff for a young woman 
to be smoking in hothells i' that way. I'll ask th J 
landlord if he thinks it's a right thing to do." 

No sooner said than done. Beckoning to 
M. Trinkmann, who was close by, Mr. Briggs 
asked him if he received ladies into his house who 
carried on " i' that way." 

" How ? " said the landlord, not seeming clearly 
to understand. 

" That there lady as is smoking, what " 

" You want to know who she is ? That's the 
Princess Vera Blatchemkoff, daughter of the 



288 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Russian prime minister ; the other is her lady 
in waiting." 

" Goodness gracious ! " exclaimed Mrs. Briggs ; 
" and do you mean to say as Prince Blackemoff — 
him as I've seen his name in th' papers — lets his 
daughter smoke ? " 

" Certainly ; Russian ladies nearly all smoke. 
The Princess Vera is a very amiable young lady, I 
believe." 

" Well, I never ! I couldn't have believed it if I 
had not seen seen it. {Aside.) They'll think we're 
romancing when we tell 'em in Bolton, won't they, 
Sam ? — Is she staying here, Mister Trinkmann ? " 

" No, she is staying at the baths of Divonne ; 
she has been shopping in the town, and dined at 
the table-d'hote. But I beg your pardon, Madame 
Briggs, had you not better move your chair a 
little ? — you are sitting in a courant d'air — in a 
draught — you will be taking a bed cold." 

The landlord minced his words sometimes. 
Mr. Briggs, on the other hand, though able to 
speak fairly good, if not quite faultless, English, 
had been so long accustomed to express himself in 
broad Lancashire, that he often used his vernacular 
idiom without knowing it. 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



289 



"What did you say about the bed being cold ? " 
he demanded (he had caught only the concluding 
part of the remark) ; " I'm sure it was warm enough 
for owt last night ; I know I wor gradely 
sweltered." 

M. Trinkmann looked puzzled ; he had not the 
least idea what " sweltered " meant, but guessed it 
was some sort of illness. 

" Indeed, I am very sorry," he said ; " was it 
very painful ? Is there anything I can do for you ? 
There is a very clever English doctor here. Would 
you ? " 

"A doctor! What for?" interrupted the 
retired waste-dealer, puzzled in his turn. 

" I thought you said you were ill in the night — 
that you were gradely sweltered." 

" I did, but that isn't being ill ; it's only being 
grade — very hot — in a muck sweat, you know." 

Even with this explanation Trinkmann did 
not seem much enlightened ; but not deeming it 
discreet to cross-question his guest any further, he 
made a courtly bow and bolted to the door to 
receive a bevy of visitors who had just arrived by 
the steamer from Bouveret. 

" You are English, I suppose ? " said a pleasant 

u 



290 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



voice, with a slightly foreign accent, at Mr. Brigg's 
elbow. 

Turning his head, the latter saw seated near 
him a short fat man, with a heavy moustache, 
hooked nose, white teeth, dark eyes, and black 
well-oiled hair. 

• " Yes, I'm an Englishman ; are you ? " answered 
and asked the Boltonian. 

" No, Fm an American. " 

" You don't look like one," observed Mr. Briggs 
frankly, " nor yet talk like one ; Americans talks 
through their noses." 

" A naturalised American, I should say, I'm an 
Austrian — or rather a Hungarian — by birth ; but 
I was compelled to leave my country, after 1849, 
for political causes, when I betook myself to the 
United States, where I have been living ever since. 
I am now on my way to Vienna and Pesth, to see 
my kinsfolk. You are travelling for pleasure, I 
suppose ? " 

" Yes ; we're making a bit of a tower, my missus 
and me. We shall set off from here, maybe to- 
morrow or the day after, and go to Berne, Lucerne, 
and two or three other places in Switzerland. Then 
we thowt of going into Germany a bit." 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



291 



" How singular! That is almost the same route 
we are proposing to take. We shall perhaps meet 
again." 

iC Like enough we may." 

" And if we do, I shall be happy if I can be of 
any use to you. I know both the country and the 
language."" 

" Thank you kindly; we're always very glad of 
anybody to talk for us a bit, for we know nayther 
th' language nor th' country." 

u Well then, in case we do meet again, suppose 
we exchange cards. Here is mine." 

Whereupon the stranger produced an elegant 
morocco case, from which he extracted an enamelled 
" pasteboard," bearing the following inscription : 

<Jfrit&,erkh $cxbxmrib boxt Soazxdmtoutkzkv, 

and handed it with gracious mien to the English- 
man. The latter fumbled in his breast-pocket, 
and drawing therefrom a card, gave it carelessly 
to his new acquaintance. As Friedrich Ferdinand 
von Foozielmwiecksky glanced at the address which 
it bore, his face assumed so curious an expression 
that it attracted the attention of Mr. Briggs, who, 
as he said to himself, " wondering what was up," 

u 2 



292 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



took a side look over the Austrian's shoulder, and 
saw to his dismay that the card he had given the 
stranger was thus conceived : 

SOLOMON SOWERBUTTS, 

Dealer in Rags, Bones, and Old Iron. 

HOLE r TH' WALL, 
Nr. Blackburn. 

M That's a wrong *un," uttered the Boltonian 
hastily ; " it's a chap as does a bit o' business in 
waste with my sons. It had got mixed up with 
t' others. See, this is my gradely card." 

Mr. Briggs, who had a keen eye to economy, 
had utilised some of his old business cards for 
private use; and the one he gave to Herr Foozielm- 
wiecksky in exchange for that of Mr. Solomon 
Sowerbutts ran as follows, the centre line being 
half erased : 

SAML. BRIGGS, 

Dealer in Cotton Waste, 

BOLTON. 

"I'm not in business now," remarked Mr. Briggs 
apologetically. " Pve given it up to my sons ; but 
I thowt it was no use having fresh cards printed 
to come abroad with, so I've made shift with these 
old 'uns." 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



293 



"And they do very well, I'm sure. So you 
have retired from business — made your fortune, I 
suppose ? " 

" Well, we have a little bit o' summat. I mean 
we have as much laid by as will keep us comfort- 
able while we live, and be a nice nest-egg for th* 
lasses when we're gone ; lads can look after ther- 
sells ; besides, they've getten th 1 business, and 
there's not a better i' all Bolton 

" I'm very glad to hear it. I wish I could say 
I had made a fortune ; but I'm unfortunately not 
in trade. I follow the calling of engineer, and 
shall be glad if I can make a small competency 
by the time I reach your age." 

" Well, there's worse things than a small 
competency." 

" Yes, half a loaf is better than no bread. And 
now I must say good-evening, for I'm going to 
the theatre. If we do not meet again here we 
shall perhaps meet in the Bernese Oberland, or 
in Germany. You will pay a visit to Dresden, of 
course ? " 

" I expect so. Dresden is down in my — what 
do you call it ? — in my itinerary. Mr. Rovings — 
that's a travelled gentleman in our parts — Mr. 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Rovings said we must on no account miss Dresden. 
And then, I think, we shall go on to Prague, and 
from there to Vienna." 

a About when do you expect to be at Dresden?" 

u In about a month, I think." 

" Good ; I'll look out for you. And now I must 
really leave you ; I see my wife is waiting for me 
outside. Good-bye. A pleasant journey; hope 
to see you again soon." 

"A very pleasant-spoken gentleman. I'm 
glad we have made his acquaintance. That's one 
of the advantages of going abroad — you make 
new acquaintances," observed Samuel, quoting a 
sentiment that he had once heard expressed by 
his friend Rovings. 

" Very/' answered Mrs. B. " I think foreigners 
is freer in their manners and politer than English 
folks. What did he say his name was ? " 

a Here it is, he gave me his card : Friederich 
Ferdinand von Foozle — Foozleum — Foozlum- 
whisky — ay, that is it, Foozlumwhisky — and a 
fool of a name it is too. I've heard o' Scotch 
whisky, an' Irish whisky, an' English whisky, an' 
malt whisky, an' potato whisky, o' whisky 'ot an' 
whisky cowd — but this is the first time I ever heard 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



295 



o' Foozlumwhisky. I wonder at folks having such 
awkerd names." 

" Maybe he cannot help it ; it was ten to one 
his father's." 

" He could change it, couldn't he ? specially if 
he's been so long in America." 

"We cannot judge o' foreigners by wersells," 
replied Mrs. Briggs sagely ; " it's happen thowt a 
nice sort o' name where he comes from." 

" Happen but it would bother 'em V Bolton if 
they saw it on a signboord." 

Our travellers, following the lines laid down 
for them in the Rovings' itinerary, journeyed 
through a part of the Bernese Oberland, made the 
tour of the Lake of the Four Cantons, and stayed 
a while at Zurich, Berne, and Lucerne. They were 
highly delighted with all they saw; and in the 
hotels and elsewhere they met so many English, 
and English-speaking people, that their ignorance 
of the language of the country caused them no 
inconvenience worth naming. Their principal, 
almost their only, worry was in the matter of 
soap. They were always leaving it behind them. 
The first remark made by Mr. Briggs on being 
shown into their bedroom at a new hotel was 



296 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



generally: "Drat it, Mary Ann, we've forgotten 
th' soap again ! " And then he would perform a 
vigorous pantomime by way of letting the cham- 
bermaid know what was lacking ; for though every 
male creature in a Swiss hotel, from the proprietor 
to the boots, is nearly always more or less ac- 
quainted with the English tongue, the female 
domestics are not often equally skilled. Hence, 
when Mr. Briggs wanted soap he was compelled 
to rub his hands energetically together, as if he 
were producing a lather, and then apply them to 
his face as if he were washing it, which actions he 
would emphasise by pointing to the water and 
shaking a towel in the wondering zirnmermaed- 
cheris face. If the young woman were quick of 
apprehension, she would give a knowing nod, 
vanish, and in a few minutes return with a lump 
of scented soap — price one franc. But Swiss 
chambermaids, not being invariably of preter- 
natural sharpness, it did once or twice happen that 
a girl, alarmed by Mr. Briggs' gesticulations, rushed 
incontinently to the landlord or secretary of the 
hotel, and informed him that the English gentle- 
man in one hundred and twenty-two had gone 
mad. This was quite satisfactory to Mr. Briggs, 
however, for it brought somebody on the scene to 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



297 



whom he could tell his wants without pantomime ; 
and by some means or other he always succeeded 
in getting his soap. After many guesses and sur- 
mises, Mrs. Briggs came finally to the conclusion 
that the absence of soap from continental bed- 
rooms arose from its dearness, and that its use 
was restricted to the cleansing of dirty linen — a 
theory to which the lady considered the small 
capacity of the chamber crockery lent additional 
probability. As she gravely remarked to her hus- 
band : " Folks who washed their faces with the 
damped corner of a towel no bigger than a pocket- 
handkerchief, and dried them with the other corner, 
needed neither much soap nor big basins." 

Our travellers did not, however, see quite as 
much of Switzerland as, in the first instance, they 
had intended to do. Mrs. Briggs was one of those 
persons who are never happy unless they are 
slightly miserable, and who, in the absence of 
real cares, find it necessary to their comfort to 
create imaginary ones. The incident of the 
wrongly-delivered telegram at Geneva had sug- 
gested to her all sorts of alarming possibilities. 
Betsy — so ran her thoughts — might be took ill 
after all, for she had grown fast, and was not 
over strong ; and Alice — her eldest, and married 



298 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



daughter — who was expecting an " increase " — as 
she generally was — might have a bad time ; and 
Jane, the cook, was that clumsy and okerd that 
she would not be surprised to hear any day of her 
having set th' house o' fire, or scalded herself to 
death, or let th' kitchen boiler blow up — " and us 
all this way off," as Mrs. Briggs plaintively added, 
after enumerating all these, and several more, con- 
ceivably impending calamities to her husband. 
The latter, on the other hand, was enjoying him- 
self so much, and liked Switzerland so well, that 
he would willingly have stayed longer and seen 
every place marked down in his plan of travel. 
He did not share in the misgivings of his wife, and 
his confidence in his luck, which had stood him in 
such good stead at London, Paris, and Geneva, 
was as strong as ever. Nevertheless, he so far 
yielded to Mrs. Briggs' importunities as slightly 
to shorten what he had described to Herr von 
Foozielmwiecksky as their "bit of a tower in 
Switzerland," by at least a week ; and a month 
after they had made the acquaintance of that 
gentleman in the Hotel de la Paix at Geneva, they 
arrived at Romanshorn, on the lake of Constance, 
and took their passage to Lindau, the Bavarian 
port and railway station on the opposite side. 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



299 



Among the passengers on the boat by which 
our Boltonians crossed over were several other 
English tourists, some of whom Mr. Briggs 
identified as Londoners. 

" How do yo' know as they're Londoners ? " 
asked his wife, when he communicated to her 
this opinion. 

"By their twang, to be sure ; just hearken to 'em." 

"This being the lake of Constance/' was 
saying one of the supposed cockneys to the 
other, "the town of Constance is somewhere 
in the neighbourhood, I imagine." 

" Yes, it's in that direction/' observed cockney 
No. 2, pointing westward. " I was just looking at 
a map ; but I do not think we can see it, it's too 
far away." 

"Let me see/' said No. 1, as if trying to recall 
something. " Did not something once happen at 
Constance — some great man was either hanged or 
burnt alive there ? Oh yes, I remember now, it 
was Luther — Luther was burnt there by order — 
yes — by order of the Council of Constance." 

" Luther ! " interrupted the other ; " what are 
you thinking about, Robinson ? How could it be 
Luther ? Luther had nothing to do with Switzer- 
land — it was Calvin. Calvin was the leader of the 



300 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



reformation in Switzerland — what a memory you 
must have, to be sure ! " 

" Perhaps you are right, Jones. Now I think 
of it, I believe you are right. But it was the 
Council of Constance that ordered him to be burnt 
— you cannot deny that, Robinson ? " 

" Who wants to deny it ? " answered Robinson, 
with a touch of scorn in his voice. " If Calvin was 
burnt at Constance, does it not stand to reason 
that it was done by order of the Council of 
Constance ? " 

" That's summut new to me/' observed Briggs 
thoughtfully to his wife in an undertone. " I never 
knew afore as Calvin wor burnt alive at Constance ; 
they didn't tell us that when they showed us his 
pulpit at Geneva." 

" Them Londoners is maybe mistaken, Sam." 

" Well, I don't know ; that little red-whiskered 
chap talks as if he wor uncommon cocksure about 
it. Anyhow, I'll find it out when we get back to 
Bolton. I'll ask Mr. Tubthumper — he's a parson, 
and it's his business to know. But aren't we at 
the far end ? Yon's Lindau, I think, and that's 
the train waiting for us. Let's get wer things 
together and make ready to land." 



CHAPTER III. 



Leaving Lindau by the train which, as Mr. Briggs 
rightly conjectured, had been waiting for them, he 
and his wife went on to the ancient and picturesque 
city of Nuremberg, which they made their first 
halting-place in Germany. Having been recom- 
mended by the proprietor of the Schweizorhof at 
Lucerne to put up at the Drei Krone (Three 
Crowns) hotel, they proceeded thither accordingly, 
and asked for a bedroom. 

The hotel secretary, who was the very pink of 
politeness, preceding them upstairs, led the way 
into a large chamber on the second-floor. As 
touching chairs, tables, carpets, and mirrors it was 
handsomely furnished, but when Mr. Briggs saw 
the beds he started back in dismay. They were 
about the width of babies' cribs, and very little 
longer. 



302 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Is them all th' beds as you've got ? " he 
exclaimed, in a voice of mingled indignation and 
despair. 

The secretary, thinking he was not satisfied 
with the apartment, asked if he would like to see 
another. Mr. Briggs answered that he rather 
Avould. The secretary thereupon conducted him 
to the opposite side of the house, and, showing 
him a still larger, and more finely furnished room, 
inquired with a profusion of smiles if he liked 
that any better. 

" The room's right enough," replied Mr. Briggs, 
" so is t'other. It's them beds I'm thinking about. 
How is a man like me — I weigh nearly eleven 
score — to lie in a thing like that, no bigger than a 
craddle ; and it's waur than a craddle, for a craddle 
has sides to it and them beds has not. Have you 
nowt else ? " 

"I am really very sorry, sir, but we have no 
larger beds than these. No other sort is used in 
Germany.' , 

"Well, if I lie i' one o' them I shall want 
roouping in." (Suddenly to the secretary.) " Have 
you any rooups, mounseer ? " 

" I beg your pardon, sir," said the secretary, 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



303 



with a puzzled air, as he tried to develop from his 
consciousness the meaning of " rooups." 

" Have you any ropes ? " repeated Mr. Briggs 
slowly, and in his best English, "to rope us on 
with when we go to bed, to keep us from falling 
off and breaking wer bones/" 

" I understand now, sir," broke in the secretary, 
with the look of a man struck by a happy thought ; 
"but I think we can manage better than that. 
We will put two beds close together and then 
they will be large enough, don't you think, sir ? " 

" For one, maybe, but not for two." 

"For one, of course; that was what I meant, 
sir." 

So Mr. and Mrs. Briggs occupied one room and 
four beds in the Three Crowns hotel at Nuremberg. 
And at all the houses of entertainment at which 
they subsequently stayed during their continental 
wanderings (where the beds were of equally 
lilliputian dimensions), they insisted on a similar 
arrangement, and thus became known far and 
wide as the " four-bedded couple." 

The next stage in their journey was Dresden, 
where Mr. Briggs found awaiting him, at the Hotel 
de Bellevue, a letter from his bankers at Bolton, 



304 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



containing some circular notes, and another from 
home with the satisfactory news that all was well 
with their children and grandchildren, and that 
Mrs. Fillcradle, their married daughter, had just 
rejoiced the heart of her husband by the production 
of her seventh infant annual. 

The day after their arrival, Mr. Briggs, ac- 
companied by the boots of the hotel to show him 
the way, went to Thode's bank in Wildsruffer 
Strasse, for the purpose of melting one of his 
circular notes. When his business was despatched 
he was shown by one of the members of the firm 
into a spacious inner room, well-furnished, and 
supplied with an ample assortment of English 
newspapers, and courteously informed that, so long 
as he remained at Dresden, he was free to use it as 
often as he liked. So he sat down, and began 
greedily to devour The Times ; for Mr. Briggs was 
a strong politician, and an omnivorous reader of 
newspapers. He was deep in the thrilling descrip- 
tion of a desperate murder when he thought he 
heard his name spoken. Looking up in some 
surprise, who should he see but his quondam 
acquaintance — Mr. Friederich Ferdinand von 
Foozielmwiecksky, who instantly came forward, 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



305 



shook him warmly by the hand, and expressed the 
greatest delight at their so opportune meeting. 

" I thought I should find you, or hear of you, at 
Thode's bank," he said, "all the English and 
Americans come here sooner or later. And where 
are you staying ? Ah, at the Bellevue, a capital 
house ; you could not have done better. We are 
at the Saxe. How is Mrs. Briggs ? How do you 
like Dresden ? Have you seen any of the collec- 
tions ? Not yet. Then, if you like, we'll visit them 
together. I've seen them all before, of course, but 
it's so many years since that I shall be glad to see 
them again. The picture gallery is the finest out 
of Italy, you know, and the Green Vault contains 
the most magnificent jewellery, gems, and articles 
of vertu, in Europe. And I'll tell you what, as it's 
so fine, we'll go to-night, if you like, to the Grosse 
Garten — we can get supper there ; there's a concert, 
and Wagner will play some of his best pieces. 
What do ypu say — shall we go ? " 

"Ay, to be sure, lets go. But what is it like, 
this Grosse Garten — a concert-room, did you say ? " 

" Oh dear no ! it is a large garden — a park, I 
daresay you'd call it in England — quite a fine 
place — tall trees, grass, flowers, moonlight, music, 

x 



306 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND, 



chops, steaks, beer, and all that sort of thing. 
You'll enjoy it amazingly, I'm sure you will." 

" All right, I'll go and tell my missus, and then 
I'll take her a bit of a walk out." 

"Well, look here, Til go with you, if you'll let 
me. We can perhaps arrange an excursion — 
Dresden is a capital place for excursions — or a 
visit to one of the collections, and then I'll fetch 
my wife, and we can go together, you know. But 
would not you like a glass of beer first ? " 

" Well, I do feel rayther dry; what sort of a tap 
have they here ? " 

" You shall try it. Come along. I know a 
place we'll go to — the Trompeterschloessen." 

" Trump — trump — trumpayterschluss — what's 
that when its fried, Mister Foozlumwhisky ! They 
have the most rummest names i' this country as 
ever I heard on." 

" It means the Little Trumpeter's Castle. 
See, here it is," said the Austrian, leading the way 
into a restauratiofty over the door of which hung the 
sign of a herald on horseback. Inside they found 
a spacious and well-lighted, if somewhat old- 
fashioned, room, filled with small tables, at most of 
which sat thirsty Dresdeners, restoring themselves 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



307 



with beer, and reading the news of the day. As 
Mr. Briggs mentally remarked, nothing was being 
drunk but beer — nothing either stronger or weaker. 
" Zwei lager" said Foozielmwiecksky to an atten- 
dant nymph, as he and the Boltonian seated 
themselves near an unoccupied table. 

"Zwei lager ; that means beer, does it?" in- 
quired Briggs, as the girl returned with two immense 
crystal tankards with pewter lids. 

" No ; beer's beer, just as in English. Taste it 
now, while it's fresh, and tell me how you like it." 

" Stunning ! " exclaimed Mr. Briggs, taking the 
glass from his lips after a long pull. "Bithmon 
I'll come here again. What do you say they call 
it — zwei lager ? Gradely good beer, I call it." 

"It's lager beer — the beer of the house — the 
brew — the entire, don't you see ? One says lager 
for short ; zwei means two ; so that zwei lager 
simply means two glasses of beer." 

"Oh,* that's it, is it? Here, young woman" 
(beckoning to the waitress), " zwei lager moor." 

The girl understood, and taking the two glasses 
away, brought them back filled to the brim with 
foaming nut-brown nectar. 

Mr. Briggs was delighted. 

x 2 



308 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" There," he said, " I can order a glass of beer 
i' German, anyhow. If I was to stop here two or 
three weeks I should pick it up fast; I'm sure I 
should. It sounds very like rank Bolton when they 
talken it. A language isn't so hard to learn if you 
nobbut know it, I can see that. But it's time to be 
going ; my missus '11' think I've lost mysel. What's 
th' choke, Mister Foozlumwhisky ? " 

The Austrian did not seem exactly to under- 
stand. 

" What's the joke ? " he said. " I did not hear 
any joke made; I was not speaking, Mr. Briggs." 

" I didn't say joke, I said choke. You happen 
don't know what th' choke means. It means what's 
th' shot — how much is there to pay ? Because I'm 
going to be th' paymaster this time." 

To this proposal Foozielmwiecksky made a 
slight show of opposition ; but he did not insist, and 
Mr. Briggs was allowed to discharge the reckoning, 
which, to his surprise, amounted only to about 
eightpence — half the amount, as he remarked, it 
would have been in England, for beer not half so 
good. 

They went to the Grosse Garten, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Briggs* delight with the entertainment and the 



LUCKY SAM BR1GGS, 



309 



refreshments (ordered by Herr Foozielmwiecksky) 
was unbounded. 

They seated themselves round a large table 
under the widespreading branches of an ancient 
lime-tree ; and when the band struck up a lively 
air, and Kappelmeister Wagner came to the front 
of the orchestra and joined in with his silver 
bugle — a present from the king — and a bright 
young moon shone upon the scene with her 
mellow light, Mrs. B. became quite enraptured, 
declaring that she had not believed anything 
could be so nice ; and Mr. B. informed Foozielm- 
wiecksky (in an aside) that in his opinion not 
heaven itself could be more enchanting. This 
enthusiasm was probably, in part at least, attri- 
butable to the lager beer, of which they all drank 
rather freely. They finished up the evening with 
a bottle of Saxon champagne, and only went away 
when the last piece of music had been played 
and the lamps in the orchestra were being put out. 
Again Mr. Briggs insisted on paying the " choke/ - 
nor did he find the Austrian's objections to his 
doing so more difficult to overcome than earlier 
in the day. They drove to their hotels in the 
same cab, and, before separating, agreed to go 



3io TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



up the river next day to Schandau. Mrs. Foozielm- 
wiecksky and Mrs. Briggs got on wonderfully well 
together ; for the farmer lady was an American 
born, though she spoke German fluently, and, 
being very lively and intelligent, added much to 
the enjoyment of the party. 

For several days after their visit to the Grosse 
Garten the Briggses led what was for them a 
decidedly riotous life. They were always going 
somewhere — to Pillnitz, to Koenigstein, or to 
Loschwitz. They went to see the Bastei, and 
spent a glorious day at Moritzburg, whither they 
drove in a carriage and pair. The evenings they 
generally spent at one of the gardens, or on the 
Bruhl Terrace, where there was also a nightly 
concert, and Mr. Briggs tasted the tap of almost 
every brewery in Dresden. He generally paid 
the reckoning, by way, as he thought, of making 
some slight return to Foozielmwiecksky for his 
trouble in taking them about and talking for 
them ; and, so far as money matters went, he put 
himself almost entirely into that gentleman's 
hands. What could he do else ? He knew as 
little of thalers, grosschen, and pfennige as of the 
customs and language of the country. In these 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



circumstances it was perhaps not to be wondered 
at that at the end of a week the proceeds of the 
circular note he had cashed at Thode's bank had 
melted away, and that he was compelled to cash 
another. This rather took the edge off his enjoy- 
ment, and caused him to inform his Austrian 
friend that he had spent almost as much time in 
Dresden as he could well spare, and must shortly 
continue his journey to Prague and Vienna. 

" Very good," said Mr. Foozielmwiecksky, " I 
am ready when you are. When shall we start ? " 

"Suppose we say the day after to-morrow ?" 

" The day after to-morrow let it be then. You 
want to make a halt at Prague, I suppose ? " 

"I do ; Mr. Rovings has put it down in my 
itinerary. He said it was one of the remarkablest 
places on th' Continent, and I should not like 
to miss it." 



CHAPTER IV. 



The last evening of their stay in Dresden 
Mrs. Briggs was occupied in packing up, and the 
Foozielmwieckskys went to the opera, whither 
Briggs did not care to accompany them. Left in 
this way to his own resources, he determined to 
pay a farewell visit to the Grosse Garten. He had 
by this time picked up two or three words of 
German, and having been at the Garten once or 
twice before, felt quite sure he could manage quite 
well alone. So off he set, and as many other people 
were going in the same direction, and it was broad 
daylight, he had no difficulty in finding his way, 
and arrived safely at his destination. The music 
had already begun ; and sitting down under a 
tree, he proceeded to con over, and try to make 
out, the bill of fare which he found lying on the 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



313 



table before him, thinking the while what he should 
order for supper. As he was thus occupied a 
waiter approached him and politely asked if he 
wanted anything. 

" Zwei lager" said Mr. Briggs, forgetting that 
he was alone and that zwei meant two. 

" Ich bitte Sie" (I beg your pardon) — the man 
began. 

"Bitter beer? No, zwei lager" interrupted 
Briggs. 

" Jah wohl" returned the waiter, thinking the 
English Herr was expecting a friend. Wollen Sie 
anch Essen ? v 

Sam, knowing that Essen meant something to 
eat, gave an affirmative nod, and pointed to an 
item in the bill of fare which he had previously 
marked in his mind as denoting a dish he might 
safely order. Braten he had been told meant 
" roast meat ; " ein meant " one ; " so in signifying 
to the waiter to bring him ein gebratenes Hukn, 
he thought he was ordering a plate of some sort 
of roast — what sort, he did not exactly know, nor 
much care. 

The waiter being now more than ever sure that 
the Herr Englander expected a friend, answered 



3H 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



with his eternal " Jah wohl" and went off at a run 
to execute the order. 

More than half-an-hour passed away, and 
Briggs, who was both hungry and thirsty, was 
beginning to think that the waiter had forgotten 
all about his glass of beer and plate of roast meat, 
when he beheld that functionary coming towards 
him with a large tray, on which appeared a roasted 
fowl as big as a small goose, flanked by two im- 
mense tankards of beer, half a pound or so of fried 
potatoes, and a big loaf of bread. 

" God bless me," said Mr. Briggs to himself, 
" the fellow has surely gone mad ! " 

Then it flashed upon his mind that he had 
asked for zwei lager instead of ein glass bier, and 
the moment after it occurred to him that he 
might possibly have made a similar mistake in 
the ordering of his roast meat. 

The waiter placed his tray on the table, and 
as there was just then a call for his services 
elsewhere, he vanished before our Boltonian 
had sufficiently recovered from his bewilderment, 
and mustered up enough German to request an 
explanation. So there was clearly nothing for 
it, he thought, but to make the best of a bad 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



315 



job — drink the beer and eat as much of the 
roast fowl and etceteras as he might. The shot 
would have to be paid anyhow, and he resolved 
to take all the value for his money he could 
comfortably stow away. 

Every eye was now directed towards him. 
Germans, for the most part, are large eaters, and 
like to see a man feed well ; yet a single English- 
man, with a table, two tankards of beer, and a 
roast fowl all to himself, was a sufficiently novel 
spectacle to cause general curiosity, and the 
people in Mr. Briggs' immediate neighbourhood 
gave considerably more attention to his proceed- 
ings than to the music of the band. But this 
suddenly-acquired notoriety did not trouble him 
much, and he tackled his ample supper with 
such energy, determination, and appetite, that in 
a short time two-thirds of the gebratenes Huhn 
and most of the potatoes had vanished from 
sight. Then he paused, poured down his throat 
all that remained of the second pot of beer, and 
feeling thereafter tolerably well satisfied with 
himself and the state of things in general, leaned 
back in his chair and listened with much com- 
placency to the enlivening strains of the orchestra. 



3i 6 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



From supping to sleeping there is only a 
step, and it was not long before the pose of 
Mr. Briggs' body, his closed eyes, and an 
occasional loud snore, showed that he was in 
a condition of happy oblivion. There he remained 
for a good hour or more, until he was aroused 
by Nemesis in the shape of the head-waiter (not 
the same that had served him) asking for the 
payment of his small account. 

"How much? — Wie viel?" — demanded Mr. 
Briggs. And, not understanding the answer, he 
put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a 
number of coins. " Here, help yourself," he said. 
The man did help himself — so effectually indeed, 
that only a few copper pieces returned to their 
owner's possession. 

" Please remember the waiter, sir," said the 
attendant, with an obsequious grin, using the 
only English phrase he knew, but which, on 
similar previous occasions, had produced results 
agreeable to his feelings, 

"Ay," replied Briggs grimly, as he buttoned 
up his pocket, and rose to take his departure, " 111 
remember thee when I get hooum, my lad." 

The concert was over, the lamps were being 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



317 



put out, and soon the park was plunged in darkness 
and silence. But our hero, having marked well 
the path by which he had come, experienced no 
difficulty in finding his way back as far as the 
quarter known as the Burgerwiese. There, how- 
ever, he was at fault, and taking a wrong turn, 
went a long distance astray before he discovered 
his mistake. Then he was sorely puzzled. People 
go to bed early in Dresden; the streets were 
nearly deserted ; there were no cabs about. He 
accosted several wayfarers, but he did not succeed 
in making them understand what he wanted. They 
would listen to him with the utmost politeness, 
speak to him volubly in German (which might as 
well have been Sanskrit), and pass on. He next 
tried to retrace his steps, and, as he afterwards said, 
" went up and down all macks o" streets." He 
thought he must have walked at least twenty miles, 
when, utterly worn out and almost desperate, he 
sat down on a doorstep to rest himself. As he thus 
sat, he perceived coming briskly towards him three 
or four men, seemingly young and in good spirits, 
for they were talking loudly, and now and then 
one of them would sing a stave or two of a jovial 
song. Mr. Briggs thought this was an oppor- 



3i8 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



tunity not to be lost, and rising, hat in hand 
(he had observed that Dresdeners were always 
either raising their hats or smoking, or both), he 
asked in supplicatory accents : 

a Could you tell me, please, which is the way 
nach the Belle Vue Hotel." 

" You are English ? " said one of the strangers, 
all of whom also raised their hats, the moment 
Briggs accosted them. 

" I am, and right glad I am to hear it spoken 
once moor. IVe been walking up and down these 
streets a matter of two hours, and could make 
nobody understand as I'd lost mysel'." 

"And you want to go to the Hotel Belle Vue? " 

"I do." 

"Well, it's a long way from here, and I am 
afraid you could not very well find it alone. But 
I'll tell you what — I am an Englishman myself, 
and if you will come into this restaurant for a few 
minutes, where we have to meet some friends, Fll 
see you safely home/' 

Mr. Briggs joyfully accepted this timely offer, 
and, surrendering himself to the guidance of his 
new-found friend, entered a dark passage, a few 
yards farther on, at the end of which was a door, 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



319 



opening on an equally dark staircase. Up this 
staircase they mounted, and opening another door 
on the first-floor they found themselves in a large 
low room, the air of which was so thick with 
tobacco smoke, that the objects and persons it 
contained were at first hardly discernible. But 
if not very visible, the latter were not slow in 
making themselves heard. The appearance of 
the new-comers was the signal for an uproarious 
shout, followed by a series of energetic hand- 
shakings, and, to the retired waste-dealer's un- 
speakable surprise, embracings and kissings. As 
his eyes became accustomed to the obscurity, he 
saw that the inmates of the room were all young 
men, all were smoking long pipes, all had little 
coloured caps stuck on the sides of their heads, 
and several wore long boots outside their trousers. 
The cheeks and noses of many of these interesting 
youths were covered with sticking-plaster, two or 
three had their heads bandaged, the faces of nearly 
all were more or less scarred ; and one tall fellow, 
with a black patch over his eye, was making fierce 
cuts in the air with a long rapier. Inquisitive, and, 
as he thought, bloodthirsty glances were shot at 
Mr . Briggs through the smoke, and that estimable 



32o TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



gentleman began greatly to fear that he had fallen 
among thieves, and he wished very much that he 
was in bed with Mrs. Briggs, or even sitting on the 
doorstep which he had so lately left. 

"Allow me," said the young fellow who had 
brought him in — a chubby-faced blue-eyed lad, 
with long boots, a long scar on his left cheek, and 
two or three more on his head — " allow me to 
present to this honourable society my distinguished 
countryman " (sotto voce to Briggs : " What is your 
name, please ? " ) " Mr. Briggs of Bolton. He has 
lost his way, and doesn't know how to find it; 
but as he proposes to celebrate his admission to 
our merry meeting by paying for beers and 
champagne, I vote that we escort him to his 
lodgings with all the honours. Is it agreed ? " 

M Agreed ! agreed ! agreed ! " shouted twenty 
voices. 

Then the chubby-faced youth explained to his 
countryman what was expected of him, and the 
latter, albeit rather ruefully, agreeing thereto, the 
liquor was ordered. 

"What are they?" whispered Mr. Briggs 
anxiously to his companion. 

" Burschen (students). We are from the Mining 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



321 



Academy of Freiberg, the others are mostly from 
Leipsic, and we meet here occasionally for 
intellectual conversation and a little relaxation 
from our studies. It's a sort of club, you know." 

"Oh, that's it, is it," said the other, greatly 
relieved. " But what's the matter wF your faces ? " 

" Those marks, you mean ? They are only 
Scibelhiebe — scars got in fighting." 

" And what do you fight with — knives ? " 

" No, rapiers — swords — but we are not allowed 
to cut anywhere but the face ; there is no danger, 
you know." 

Well, for my part, I'd a good deal liefer see 
you fight with your fists than them long skewers, 
if fight you must." 

At this point the beer was brought in ; then 
glasses were filled, and the students, crowding 
round their guest, touched his glass with theirs, 
and drank his health with a hundred " /ioc/is" 

Next- came the champagne, followed by more 
beer ; songs were sung ; Mr. Briggs tried to sing 
one himself, but broke down lamentably. After 
this sort of thing had gone on for an hour or two 
the chubby-faced student with the big boots sug- 
gested that it was about time they were escorting 

Y 



322 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



his distinguished countryman to his hotel. On 
this hint the bill was called for and paid, and the 
respectable Mr. Briggs sallied forth into the night, 
surrounded by a score of reckless, harum-scarum, 
half-tipsy burscken. They went singing and 
shouting through the streets, to the great alarm 
of sober citizens, numbers of whom rose from their 
beds and stuck their night -capped heads out of the 
window to see what was the matter. More than 
once the roysterers were chased by the police, and 
escaped only by dint of dodging and hard running, 
on which occasions, Mr. Briggs was forced along at 
such a rate that he feared every moment he would 
drop down in a fit of apoplexy. At length they 
arrived before the Hotel Belle Vue, whereupon the 
chubby-faced youth and another bursck, led our 
hero up the steps— for he really required leading — 
shook him warmly by the hand, gave a terrific 
ring at the door-bell, and then rejoined their com- 
panions, who, as the astonished porter admitted 
the belated Briggs, saluted him with a war-whoop- 
like yell that almost frightened the poor fellow out 
of his wits, and so startled the landlord that, think- 
ing all his guests were being murdered in their 
beds, he rushed to the alarm-bell and rang it like 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



323 



mad, a proceeding which had the effect of 
bringing on the scene in hot haste all the 
gendarmes and fire-engines of the quarter. A 
terrific row ensued, to the great delight of the 
iurscken, who, after dispersing in various direc- 
tions, returned to the hotel, mixed with the crowd 
which had already assembled, and were profuse in 
their offers of assistance to work the engines and 
put out the fire. 



Y 2 



CHAPTER V. 



UNDER cover of the confusion Briggs crept quietly 
off to bed, but he never remembered exactly how 
he got there. He awoke in the morning with a 
terrible headache, and as he opened his eyes he 
encountered the still more terrible looks of his 
better-half, who told him he ought to feel ashamed 
of himself— carrying on in that way at his time 
of life — whatever he was thinking of she could not 
tell — where had he been and what had he been 
doing? she asked, and, cruellest question of all, 
how much brass had he spent ? Fortunately for 
Briggs the packing up, which was still going on, 
took up so much of his wife's attention that the 
storm soon blew over, and a cup of tea, followed by 
a few sodas and brandy, restored him to his wonted 
spirits, if they did not quite cure his headache 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



325 



and settle his inward qualms. But he never forgot 
his last evening in Dresden, the Grosse Garten, 
the burschen> with their big boots, plaistered faces, 
and intellectual conversation, and, above all, the 
nice little reckoning they made him pay for beer 
and champagne, the amount whereof he has never 
disclosed even to his dearest friend, much less to 
the wife of his bosom. The travellers left Dresden 
the same day, as arranged, and arriving at Prague 
in due course, took up their quarters at the 
Schwartzer Ross — the Black Horse. They visited 
the principal lions of the place, passed a whole day 
in the wonderful Hradschin, wandered about the 
quaint streets of the historic city, and admired the 
wonderful views from its walls. Mr. Briggs was 
delighted to observe several tall chimneys vomiting 
forth clouds of black smoke, and the industrial 
uses to which the river Moldau is so extensively 
put. The number of mills and manufactories on 
its banks pleased him greatly — he said it was like 
being at " hooum " — they had got to a place at 
last where there was some life. 

Then they started for Vienna. When the bill 
was called for at the Black Horse, Mr. Foozielm- 
wiecksky, in the most natural manner possible, 



326 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



asked Mr. Briggs to let the whole amount be 
included in one reckoning, remarking that he had 
directed his remittances to be sent to Vienna, and 
that, pending their arrival thither, he was just a 
little short of the needful. 

"All right," said Mr. Briggs carelessly. " Take 
this five-hundred thaler note {£7$), and settle, 
and get th' tickets at th' railway. You can give 
me what change there is out in th' train, and 
t'other can stand o'er till we get to Vienna." 

The tickets were taken, the luggage registered, 
and, thanks to the address of Mr. Foozielmwieck- 
sky — aided by a tip judiciously administered to the 
conductor — the four friends secured a second-class 
compartment all to themselves — " a deal comfort- 
abler," as Mrs. Briggs observed, than many an 
English first. They travelled by the night express, 
and no sooner was the train fairly on its way than 
Mr. Foozielmwiecksky, remarking that he had a 
touch of headache, leaned back in the corner, 
pulled his cap over his eyes, and composed himself 
to sleep. Mr. Briggs thought about his change, 
but in view of the Austrian's headache and his 
ardent desire to be undisturbed, concluded not 
to remind him of it just then. There would be 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



327 



plenty of time before they reached Vienna ; so, 
after smoking a cigar, he also cushioned himself 
up in his corner and made an excursion into the 
land of dreams. The ladies did likewise, and in 
a short time the only sounds to be heard in the com- 
partment were the snoring of its four occupants. 

Mr. Briggs slept for several hours. When he 
opened his eyes the train was still rushing onward 
through the darkness, the lamp in the roof of the 
carriage, flickering feebly, gave a dim uncertain 
light, and he had to make a vigorous mental effort 
before he could remember where he was and 
who were his companions. He heard voices in 
conversation, and distinguished, or thought he 
distinguished — for he was not even yet fully 
awake — that of Mrs. Foozelum saying to Mr. 
Foozelum (as he and Mrs. Briggs had lately begun 
to call their new friends between themselves, for 
short) in English : 

" Did you get anything out of the old softy ? " 

And the other answered in German : "Jah 
wohl" and something more that our Boltonian 
could not make out. But he had been long 
enough in Germany to learn that Jah wohl is a 
very strong affirmative — a sort of double-barrelled 



328 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Yes " — and Foozelum doubtless meant his wife 
to understand that he had got something out of 
the old "softy," and no mistake. It occurred to 
Mr. Briggs that he might possibly be the old 
" softy " in question, an idea that roused him to 
the most intense wakefulness in a moment, and 
made him resolve to broach the subject of his 
change forthwith. 

"I hope youVe enjoyed your snooze/' said 
Foozielmwiecksky loudly, on seeing him move, " I 
feel all the better for mine. Here, take a soupqon 
of this cognac ; it will do you good." 

Mr. Briggs accepted the invitation, albeit he 
did not much lessen the contents of the Austrian's 
spirit-flask. 

"Now," he said, returning it to him, "as you 
feel so much better, you can perhaps settle that 
little matter, and give me my change." 

" I should only be too happy, my dear sir, if 
there were sufficient light ; but, as you see, we are 
almost in complete darkness. The change I re- 
ceived for your five-hundred thaler note is all in 
Austrian paper money of various amounts ; more- 
over, I have not made out my account ; and if we 
begin to meddle with the business now we shall be 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



329 



sure to make a muddle of it. Better wait until we 
arrive at Vienna, or, at any rate, until sunrise. " 

The plea was reasonable ; moreover Briggs, 
whose confidence in the good faith of his com- 
panion was beginning to be shaken, reflected that 
he did not understand Austrian money, and were 
he to insist on a settlement there and then, he 
could neither check the figures of the account nor, 
by that obscure light, examine his change, and 
might thus be beguiled into taking much less than 
his due. He therefore decided to let the matter 
alone for the present, as Foozielmwiecksky had 
suggested. Nevertheless his thoughts were none of 
the pleasantest, and kept him effectually awake 
during the remainder of the journey. Shortly 
after sunrise, and before there was light enough to 
read by, the compartment was invaded by four 
more passengers, two of whom placed themselves 
between Briggs and Foozielmwiekcsky ; hence all 
hope of a settlement before they reached Vienna 
had to be abandoned. 

" I'll take you to a good place I know of," said 
Foozielmwiecksky, on arrival at their destination ; 
" it's a private hotel, very comfortable, and a deal 
cheaper than the Imperial and other swell places." 



330 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



"All right," says Mr. Briggs; "go ahead." 

They all got into one carriage, the Austrian 
directed the driver whither to go, and after passing 
through a bewildering labyrinth of streets they 
pulled up before a house of somewhat unprepos- 
sessing exterior, and, as Briggs judged, in a poor 
quarter of the city. 

But the retired waste-dealer had his wits about 
him ; he was not going to be led quite like a lamb 
to the slaughter. 

" Just stop a minute," he said to the Austrian, 
as the latter was ordering the luggage to be 
unloaded, " let's see inside first. My missus is 
rayther particular about beds. We always looks 
at wer rooms before we makes up our minds 
—don't we, Mary Ann ? " 

This suggestion was evidently not altogether 
to Foozielmwiecksky's mind ; nevertheless, he led 
the way into the house ; his wife and the Briggses 
following. 

The "hotel" was situated on the second- 
floor, and, as the door opened, their noses were 
saluted with a smell that seemed to be com- 
pounded in about equal proportions of foul air, 
onions and garlic, and stale tobacco. After a 
few words from the Austrian the Briggses were 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



33* 



shown into one bedroom while the " Foozelums " 
were being ushered into another. 

" Them windows has never been opened sin* 
they were made, in my opinion/' remarked Mr. 
Briggs, sniffing the impure air, "and they are 
so nasty you can hardly see through 'em." 

Meanwhile Mrs. B. was examining the beds. 
" Why, the sheets is not clean," she exclaimed, 

" and the blankets is that black " and then, 

with almost a shriek, she threw the bedclothes 
from her and sprang hastily backwards — in her 
excitement capsizing her husband, who happened 
at the same moment to be stooping in order 
to get a better look under the other bed. 

" Bless me, Mary Ann, whatever' s to do ? " 
he exclaimed, as he scrambled to his feet ; " have 
you seen a ghost ? " 

" I've seen waur, there's them things i' th' beds." 

" I thowt as much by th' look on 'em. Let's 
be off. I say" (going to the door and raising 
his voice), " Mister Foozilumwhisky, this shop will 
not do, you must find another." 

" Why, what's the matter ? " 

" Matter ! there's them tilings V th' house — 
beds is full on 'em." 

"What things?" 



332 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Sowdgers." 

"Soldiers," said the other, looking rather 
alarmed, "soldiers in the house — what do you 
mean, Mr. Briggs ? " 

" Bugs ! " shouted the retired waste-dealer ex- 
citedly. " There's regiments ; I never seed moor in a 
rag warehouse. Come, let's get out o' this barracks." 

" It's very awkward to go now," answered the 
Austrian, "after Fve bespoke apartments and all. 
Fll ask them to find you another bedroom." 

" Not in this shop. And my wife will not stop 
at any price ; cart-ropes would not keep her." 

Whereupon Mr. and Mrs. Briggs hurried down- 
stairs, the Austrian with his wife reluctantly and 
sulkily following them. A second time- Foozielm- 
wiecksky told the coachman whither to drive. It 
was to another private hotel they were going, he 
said, which, when he lived in Vienna, was both 
clean and respectable. 

They were soon there, and its outside appear- 
ance was decidedly more promising than that of 
the first, while inside not the most minute researches 
of Mrs. Briggs nor the prying eyes of her husband 
could discover anything objectionable. The house 
was small, so was the bedroom, but they were clean; 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



333 



the landlady was pleasant-spoken and of cheerful 
countenance, and, to the great delight of our 
travellers, she spoke excellent English. 

After they had washed off the traces of their 
journey, they sat down to a substantial breakfast, 
and Mr. Briggs took an early opportunity to press 
Mr. Foozielmwiecksky for the change out of his 
five-hundred thaler note, and the "little explanatory 
statement he had been good enough to promise him." 

" Certainly," replied Mr. Foozielmwiecksky, 
cc certainly. Just let me finish this chop — what 
an excellent chop it is, to be sure — and I'll go into 
my room and make the account out." 

The chop was finished, and the eater of it 
withdrew, seemingly very eager to comply with 
Mr. Briggs' request. But at the end of an hour 
— during which time he smoked at least three 
cigars — the Austrian had not returned ; whereupon 
Mr. Briggs went- to his room and, knocking at the 
door, asked how much longer Mr. Foozielmwiecksky 
meant to keep him waiting. 

" Oh, didn't he tell you ? " said Mrs. F., with 
the most innocent air imaginable. " He has gone 
out ; but he'll be back before dinner-time. He 
has gone to call on his mother. He has not seen 



334 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



her for ten years, and she'd naturally be annoyed if 
he did not call upon her before doing anything else." 

" Damn his mother ! " exclaimed Mr. Briggs, 
now fully roused. " I want my change. What 
does he mean by humbugging me in this way ? Is 
he going to run away?" 

" Don't be insulting, Mr. Briggs," said the lady 
severely; " you forget yourself. My husband will 
settle with you the moment he returns. " 

Mr. Briggs went back disconsolately to his wife, 
and told her how matters stood. Conscious that 
he had been rather indiscreet, he had refrained 
hitherto from making full confession of his folly. 
Mrs. Briggs knew the Austrian had to give him some 
change, but she thought the amount was only trifling. 

" How much did you say it was ? " 

" Five hundred thalers." 

"That's?" 

" Seventy-four pounds." 

" Seventy-four pounds ! seventy-four pounds ! " 
she almost screamed. 

u Ay, but then there's the hotel bill at Prague, 
and the railway fare here to come off. It is maybe 
sixty pounds altogether as I want on him." 

" Well, you have done it now ! — sixty pounds 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



335 



clean gone — we'se never see it no more. Where's 
your luck now, as you talk so much about ? Why, 
you have no proof as you ever gave it him — no 
receipt nor nowt." 

" How could I get a receipt ? He was going 
to give me th' change next minute. But it's not 
lost yet whatever you think. I always was lucky, 
and you'll see." 

" Lucky ! " exclaimed the lady, with ineffable 
disdain. " And you call it lucky to let a foreigner 
diddle you out o' sixty pounds. If that's being 
lucky, let me be unlucky." 

Poor Mr. Briggs did not reply. In a contest of 
words with his better-half he generally got the 
worst of it, and in the present instance he had so 
little to say for himself that he probably exercised 
a wise discretion in leaving it unsaid. He hung 
about the house all day, waiting for the return of 
Foozielmwiecksky, only descending into the street 
at intervals — just to stretch his legs, as he observed 
to his wife — and weary work he found it. At 
length, long after dinner, and when he had begun 
to fear that his man was gone away for good, his 
patience was rewarded by seeing him cross the 
corridor and enter his bedroom. 



336 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Briggs followed him. 

" How about my change ? " he asked in an 
indignant voice. 

" Your what ?" said the other. 

" My change/' roared Briggs, "the change out of 
that five-hundred thaler note I gave you at Prague." 

"You are mistaken, Mr. Briggs, you did not 
give me a five-hundred thaler note, it was only 
fifty thalers, and instead of being your debtor — as 
you will see by this statement — you owe me eighty 
florins, which I shall be glad if you can give me, as 
I have not had time to cash any of my American 
money." 

" You infernal scoundrel ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Briggs, as soon as he could speak, having for 
the space of half a minute been struck dumb with 
rage and ^surprise. " You gallows-looking black- 
guard — you — you 33 

" Come now, stop that, Mr. Briggs, there's law 
in this country, and if you don't mind what you 
are doing I will have you arrested for defamation 
of character. But 33 — drawing him towards the 
door — u come out of earshot of my wife, she's in 
the next room." 

And before the Englishman could recover his 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS, 



337 



breath a second time, or regain his presence of 
mind, he was out in the corridor, and Foozielm- 
wiecksky, shutting the door in his face, double 
bolted himself inside. 

What was to be done now ? Submit to be 
swindled out of sixty pounds in that audacious 
way he would not — yet how could he help him- 
self ? He had no receipt and no witness, for his 
wife had not seen the note he had entrusted to the 
Austrian, and he and his wife were doubtless quite 
ready to swear anything. Briggs did not see his 
way clearly at all. " It was a gradely awkward 
do," he said to himself. Still, he did not despair ; 
there might be a way. As he thought thus, he 
caught sight of the landlady, Frau Jordan, at the 
other end of the passage. Acting on the impulse 
of the moment, he followed her into her room. 

" Can I speak to you on a matter of business, 
ma'am ? " said he.. 

" Certainly, take a seat; what can I do for you ? " 

" It's about this Foozlumwhisky." 

"Indeed ! I thought he was a friend of yours." 

" Not he ; he's only a chance acquaintance as 
we picked up at Dresden." 

"Well, if I had known that, Mr. Briggs, he 

z 



338 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



would not have been long in this house, I can 
tell you. It was only because he came with you, 
and I saw you were a thorough English gentleman, 
that I did not turn him from my door or hand him 
over to the police.^ 

On hearing this Mr. Briggs gave a long dismal 
whistle, and looked particularly blue. 

" What has he been up to ? Who is he ? " he 
asked. 

" As it happens, I can tell you all about him. 
My porter — the man who carried your things in, 
you know — Traugott Taeglich, used to be in the 
police, and the moment he set eyes on this Herr 
von Foozielmwiecksky, as he calls himself, he 
recognised him. His name is not Foozielmwiecksky 
at all — it is Spitzbube. He was once in the army, 
but was turned out for misconduct; and then he 
was a man about town here in Vienna and lived 
by his wits, became a cardsharper, and I don't 
know what besides ; was mixed up with a bad 
case of cheating, and would have been arrested 
and locked up if he had not shown a clean pair of 
heels. This is nearly ten years since, but I have 
only to say a single word to the police and they 
would arrest him to-night. It is no business of 



LUCKY SAM BR1GGS. 



339 



mine, however ; and to have a man arrested in the 
house would create a commotion and make it 
unpleasant for the other lodgers/' 

" Pm afraid it's all up with my sixty pounds," 
said Mr. Briggs dolefully. 

" I'm afraid it is/' said Frau Jordan, when she 
had heard his story ; " but if you like I'll send for 
the gendarmes and give him in charge at once." 

"No, no," answered Briggs, who had just 
thought of a plan, " that would ruin everything. 
Anyhow I'll have another try to come by my 
own. Will you, please, lend me a chair, Mrs. 
Jordan, and, whatever I do, don't say anything, or 
seem to take any notice." 

Mr. Briggs took the chair, and placed it before 
Foozielmwiecksky's, alias Spitzbube's, door, and 
peered through the keyhole. All was in darkness ; 
he and his wife had evidently withdrawn to their 
sleeping apartment — a small room adjacent to the 
one that served them as a parlour, but having no 
direct communication with the corridor. Never- 
theless Briggs kept his post — sat there the night 
through — like a sentinel in face of the enemy. 
Now and then he dozed a little, but his chair 
was so placed that nobody could enter or quit 



TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Mr. Spitzbube's room without his leave. People 
rise early in Austria, and before six o'clock he 
heard the sounds of voices and footsteps in the 
parlour. Then the key was turned, the door 
moved slowly, very slowly, on its hinges, and 
the night-capped and curl-papered locks of 
Mrs. Spitzbube were protruded into the passage. 
This was enough for our hero. With an im- 
petuosity that can only be compared to Roderick 
Dhu's onslaught on James Fitzjames — likened by 
the poet to " adder darting from the coil " and 
" mountain-cat that guards her young" — he dashed 
at the door, and the lady, bewildered by the sudden- 
ness of the onslaught, and conscious of extremely 
scanty clothing, ran shrieking to her husband. 

As the latter rushed out in his shirt sleeves to 
the rescue, Briggs quietly shut the outer door and 
put the key in his pocket. 

" What means this violence, Mr. Briggs ? " 
sternly asked Mr. Spitzbube. " I'd have you 
know, sir, this is my private apartment ; you are 
surely drunk. I'll summon the police." 

" Come now, none o ? that there gammon ; I'se 
not stir out of here till I get my change." 

" Upon my word, this is past bearing. If you 
don't go out quietly, sir, I'll kick you out/' 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



34i 



"You will, will you, you beggar? I'd like to 
see you try ; I'm an old fellow, I know ; but I'm 
man for two like you yet ; and if you offer to touch 
me I'll take you by the scruft o' th' neck and throw 
you out of the window." 

" But " 

" But me no buts, you raskil. Let's have no 
more o' this nonsense. I know who you are, my 
lad. You were once i' th' army — you have been 
a card-sharper — the police wants you badly, Mr. 
Ooozleum, Boozleum, Foozleumwhisky, and it is 
not your right name — Spitzbube is your name. If 
you don't fork out that brass I'll open the window 
and shout for th' police ; but pay up like a man 
and you shall go free." 

" Do you promise that ? " said Spitzbube 
eagerly. He had become terribly crestfallen 
during Mr. Briggs' speech. 

" I do, and the sooner you stump up the sooner 
you'll get away." 

" Just one minute — I won't keep you longer." 

Spitzbube went into the bedroom, exchanged a 
few whispered words with his wife, and returned 
with a bundle of bank-notes. 

" Here," said he, " count them ; there are six 
hundred florins, the full amount of your change." 



342 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



" Are they good 'uns — not foorged, I mean ? " 
asked Mr. Briggs suspiciously. 

" Quite good, they are what I got at Prague." 

" If they are, you can go as soon as you like ; 
but HI make sure, HI ask Mrs. Jordan." 

He opened the door. The landlady was in the 
corridor. She assured him that the notes were 
perfectly good, and heartily congratulated him on 
the so miraculous recovery of his money. 

" Good-day to you," he said, nodding pleasantly 
to the discomfited Spitzbube, " I wish you a pleasant 
journey." 

Then he went into his own room and found 
Mrs. Briggs still in bed. 

" Wherever have you bin ? " she asked, in a que- 
rulous voice, "you have not bin i' bed of all night " 

" Look here, owd lass, look here," he shouted, 
as he waved the bank-notes over his head like a 
flag of victory. " I've got the brass ; didn't I tell 
you I was always lucky ? " 

Whereupon he executed a pyrrhic dance round 
the room, until, striking his shins against the sharp 
bar of a chair, his song of triumph was changed 
into a howl of anguish. Then he told his wife all 
that had happened. 



LUCKY SAM BRIGGS. 



343 



"Well, you really are lucky, Sam," was her 
admiring comment, for she was sincerely rejoiced 
at the recovery of the lost notes, " I never said it 
before, but you are." 

" More luckier than clever, you once said, I 
think." 

" Ay, but youVe bin clever too, this time, Sam 
— both clever and lucky." 

The day following these events, Mr. Briggs 
was strolling in the Prater, when he felt himself 
struck smartly on the back, as a familiar voice 
exclaimed : " Hallo, Briggs, you here ! " 

" God bless us, Mr. Rovings, is it you ? I thowt 
you was in Bolton." 

" And so I was four days ago ; but I was called 
away on business, and am now en route for Bohemia." 
(Mr. Rovings was partner in a large machine- 
making firm.) " And how have you been going on 
all this time ? Come into this cafe, and let us 
have a talk." 

So they went into the cafe, and, while they 
discussed a few glasses of Vienna's unequalled 
beer, Briggs told his friend all that had befallen 
him and his wife on their journey. 

"Well, all that I can say, Briggs," said Mr. 



344 TALES OF SWITZERLAND. 



Rovings, when the former had finished his narration, 
"is that you are the most fortunate man I know. 
The way you get into and out of scrapes is really 
extraordinary. But just take my advice, and don't 
trust a chance travelling acquaintance with your 
money another time. ,, 

" I won't that, Mr. Rovings, I can tell you ; I've 
had a lesson as I shall not soon forget." 

And then they parted ; for Mr. Roving's 
business was pressing, and he left Vienna for the 
place to which he was bound the same afternoon. 
When, two months later, Mr. Briggs returned to 
Bolton, he found that his reputation had preceded 
him — everybody had heard of his adventures and 
of the good fortune that had always attended him 
on his travels, and he has ever since been known 
amongst his friends as " Lucky Sam Briggs." 



THE END. 



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS, CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS. 



LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
LOS ANGELES 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 
Los Angeles 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 



Uffld LD 

nov mm Oct 02 



'1ECTD ID 



REC'D LD-URL 



Form L9-50m-7,'54 (5990) 444 




L 005 326 838 9 



PLEA C £ DO NOT REMOVE 
THIS BOOK CARD i 



73 




University Research Library