A Tramp Abroad — Volume 04 eBook: Page1

Mark Twain (1994)




  Produced by Anonymous Volunteers, John Greenman and David Widger

  A TRAMP ABROAD, Part 4.

  By Mark Twain

  (Samuel L. Clemens)

  First published in 1880

  Illustrations taken from an 1880 First Edition

  * * * * * *

  ILLUSTRATIONS:

  1. PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR 2. TITIAN'S MOSES 3. THE AUTHOR'S MEMORIES 119. BLACK FOREST GRANDEE 120. THE GRANDEE'S DAUGHTER 121. RICH OLD HUSS 122. GRETCHEN 123. PAUL HOCH 124. HANS SCHMIDT 125. ELECTING A NEW MEMBER 126. OVERCOMING OBSTACLES 127. FRIENDS 128. PROSPECTING 129. TAIL PIECE 130. A GENERAL HOWL 131. SEEKING A SITUATION 132. STANDING GUARD 133. RESULT OF A JOKE 134. DESCENDING A FARM 155. A GERMAN SABBATH 136. AN OBJECT OF SYMPATHY 137. A NON-CLASSICAL STYLE 138. THE TRADITIONAL CHAMOIS 139. HUNTING CHAMOIS THE TRUE WAY 140. CHAMOIS HUNTER AS REPORTED 141. MARKING ALPENSTOCKS 142. IS SHE EIGHTEEN OR TWENTY 143. I KNEW I WASN'T MISTAKEN 144. HARRIS ASTONISHED 145. TAIL PIECE 146. THE LION OF LUCERNE 147. HE LIKED CLOCKS 148. "I WILL TELL YOU" 149. COULDN'T WAIT 150. DIDN'T CARE FOR STYLE 151. A PAIR BETTER THAN FOUR 152. TWO WASN'T NECESSARY 153. JUST THE TRICK 154. GOING TO MAKE THEM STARE 155. NOT THROWN AWAY 156. WHAT THE DOCTOR RECOMMENDED 157. WANTED TO FEEL SAFE 158. PREFERRED TO TRAMP ON FOOT 159. DERN A DOG, ANYWAY 160. TAIL PIECE 161. THE GLACIER GARDEN 162. LAKE AND MOUNTAINS (MONT PILATUS) 163. MOUNTAIN PATHS 164. "YOU'RE AN AMERICAN--SO AM I" 165. ENTERPRISE 166. THE CONSTANT SEARCHER 167. THE MOUNTAIN BOY 168. THE ENGLISHMAN 169. THE JODLER 170. ANOTHER VOCALIST 171. THE FELSENTHOR 172. A VIEW FROM THE STATION 173. LOST IN THE MIST 174. THE RIGI-KULM HOTEL 175. WHAT AWAKENED US 176. A SUMMIT SUNRISE 177. TAIL PIECE

  CONTENTS:

  CHAPTER XXII The Black Forest--A Grandee and his Family--The WealthyNabob--A New Standard of Wealth--Skeleton for a New Novel--TryingSituation--The Common Council--Choosing a New Member Studying NaturalHistory--The Ant a Fraud--Eccentricities of the Ant--His Deceit andIgnorance--A German Dish--Boiled Oranges

  CHAPTER XXIII Off for a Day's Tramp--Tramping and Talking--StoryTelling--Dentistry in Camp--Nicodemus Dodge--Seeking a Situation--AButt for Jokes--Jimmy Finn's Skeleton--Descending a Farm--UnexpectedNotoriety

  CHAPTER XXIV Sunday on the Continent--A Day of Rest--An Incidentat Church--An Object of Sympathy--Royalty at Church--Public GroundsConcert--Power and Grades of Music--Hiring a Courier

  CHAPTER XXV Lucerne--Beauty of its Lake--The Wild Chamois--A GreatError Exposed--Methods of Hunting the Chamois--Beauties of Lucerne--TheAlpenstock--Marking Alpenstocks--Guessing at Nationalities--An AmericanParty--An Unexpected Acquaintance--Getting Mixed Up--Following BlindTrails--A Happy Half--hour--Defeat and Revenge

  CHAPTER XXVI Commerce of Lucerne--Benefits of Martyrdom--A Bit ofHistory--The Home of Cuckoo Clocks--A Satisfactory Revenge--The AlanWho Put Up at Gadsby's--A Forgotten Story--Wanted to be Postmaster--ATennessean at Washington--He Concluded to Stay A While--Application ofthe Story

  CHAPTER XXVII The Glacier Garden--Excursion on the Lake--Life on theMountains--A Specimen Tourist--"Where're you From?"--An AdvertisingDodge--A Righteous Verdict--The Guide-book Student--I Believe that's All

  CHAPTER XXVIII The Rigi-Kulm--Its Ascent--Stripping for Business--AMountain Lad--An English Tourist--Railroad up the Mountain--Villages andMountain--The Jodlers--About Ice Water--The Felsenthor--Too Late--Lostin the Fog--The Rigi-Kulm Hotel--The Alpine Horn--Sunrise at Night

  CHAPTER XXII

  [The Black Forest and Its Treasures]

  From Baden-Baden we made the customary trip into the Black Forest. Wewere on foot most of the time. One cannot describe those noble woods,nor the feeling with which they inspire him. A feature of the feeling,however, is a deep sense of contentment; another feature of it is abuoyant, boyish gladness; and a third and very conspicuous feature ofit is one's sense of the remoteness of the work-day world and his entireemancipation from it and its affairs.

  Those woods stretch unbroken over a vast region; and everywhere they aresuch dense woods, and so still, and so piney and fragrant. The stems ofthe trees are trim and straight, and in many places all the ground ishidden for miles under a thick cushion of moss of a vivid green color,with not a decayed or ragged spot in its surface, and not a fallen leafor twig to mar its immaculate tidiness. A rich cathedral gloom pervadesthe pillared aisles; so the stray flecks of sunlight that strike a trunkhere and a bough yonder are strongly accented, and when they strike themoss they fairly seem to burn. But the weirdest effect, and the mostenchanting is that produced by the diffused light of the low afternoonsun; no single ray is able to pierce its way in, then, but the diffusedlight takes color from moss and foliage, and pervades the place likea faint, green-tinted mist, the theatrical fire of fairyland. Thesuggestion of mystery and the supernatural which haunts the forest atall times is intensified by this unearthly glow.

  We found the Black Forest farmhouses and villages all that the BlackForest stories have pictured them. The first genuine specimen whichwe came upon was the mansion of a rich farmer and member of the CommonCouncil of the parish or district. He was an important personage in theland and so was his wife also, of course.

  His daughter was the "catch" of the region, and she may be alreadyentering into immortality as the heroine of one of Auerbach's novels,for all I know. We shall see, for if he puts her in I shall recognizeher by her Black Forest clothes, and her burned complexion, her plumpfigure, her fat hands, her dull expression, her gentle spirit,her generous feet, her bonnetless head, and the plaited tails ofhemp-colored hair hanging down her back.

  The house was big enough for a hotel; it was a hundred feet long andfifty wide, and ten feet high, from ground to eaves; but from the eavesto the comb of the mighty roof was as much as forty feet, or maybe evenmore. This roof was of ancient mud-colored straw thatch a foot thick,and was covered all over, except in a few trifling spots, with athriving and luxurious growth of green vegetation, mainly moss. Themossless spots were places where repairs had been made by the insertionof bright new masses of yellow straw. The eaves projected far down, likesheltering, hospitable wings. Across the gable that fronted the road,and about ten feet above the ground, ran a narrow porch, with a woodenrailing; a row of small windows filled with very small panes looked uponthe porch. Above were two or three other little windows, one clear upunder the sharp apex of the roof. Before the ground-floor door was ahuge pile of manure. The door of the second-story room on the side ofthe house was open, and occupied by the rear elevation of a cow. Wasthis probably the drawing-room? All of the front half of the house fromthe ground up seemed to be occupied by the people, the cows, and thechickens, and all the rear half by draught-animals and hay. But thechief feature, all around this house, was the big heaps of manure.

  We became very familiar with the fertilizer in the Forest. We fellunconsciously into the habit of judging of a man's station in lifeby this outward and eloquent sign. Sometimes we said, "Here is a poordevil, this is manifest." When we saw a stately accumulation, we said,"Here is a banker." When we encountered a country-seat surrounded by anAlpine pomp of manure, we said, "Doubtless a duke lives here."

  The importance of this feature has not been properly magnified in theBlack Forest stories. Manure is evidently the Black-Forester's maintreasure--his coin, his jewel, his pride, his Old Master, his ceramics,his bric-a-brac, his darling, his title to public consideration, envy,veneration, and his first solicitude when he gets ready to make hiswill. The true Black Forest novel, if it
is ever written, will beskeletoned somewhat in this way:

  SKELETON FOR A BLACK FOREST NOVEL

  Rich old farmer, named Huss.

  Has inherited great wealth of manure, and by diligence has added to it.It is double-starred in Baedeker. [1] The Black forest artist paintsit--his masterpiece. The king comes to see it. Gretchen Huss,daughter and heiress. Paul Hoch, young neighbor, suitor for Gretchen'shand--ostensibly; he really wants the manure.

  Hoch has a good many cart-loads of the Black Forest currency himself,and therefore is a good catch; but he is sordid, mean, and withoutsentiment, whereas Gretchen is all sentiment and poetry. Hans Schmidt,young neighbor, full of sentiment, full of poetry, loves Gretchen,Gretchen loves him. But he has no manure. Old Huss forbids him in thehouse. His heart breaks, he goes away to die in the woods, far from thecruel world--for he says, bitterly, "What is man, without manure?"

  1. When Baedeker's guide-books mention a thing and put two stars (**)after it, it means well worth visiting. M.T.

  [Interval of six months.]

  Paul Hoch comes to old Huss and says, "I am at last as rich as yourequired--come and view the pile." Old Huss views it and says, "It issufficient--take her and be happy,"--meaning Gretchen.

  [Interval of two weeks.]

  Wedding party assembled in old Huss's drawing-room. Hoch placid andcontent, Gretchen weeping over her hard fate. Enter old Huss's headbookkeeper. Huss says fiercely, "I gave you three weeks to find out whyyour books don't balance, and to prove that you are not a defaulter;the time is up--find me the missing property or you go to prison asa thief." Bookkeeper: "I have found it." "Where?" Bookkeeper(sternly--tragically): "In the bridegroom's pile!--behold the thief--seehim blench and tremble!" [Sensation.] Paul Hoch: "Lost, lost!"--fallsover the cow in a swoon and is handcuffed. Gretchen: "Saved!" Falls overthe calf in a swoon of joy, but is caught in the arms of Hans Schmidt,who springs in at that moment. Old Huss: "What, you here, varlet? Unhandthe maid and quit the place." Hans (still supporting the insensiblegirl): "Never! Cruel old man, know that I come with claims which evenyou cannot despise."

  Huss: "What, YOU? name them."

  Hans: "Listen then. The world has forsaken me, I forsook the world, Iwandered in the solitude of the forest, longing for death but findingnone. I fed upon roots, and in my bitterness I dug for the bitterest,loathing the sweeter kind. Digging, three days agone, I struck a manuremine!--a Golconda, a limitless Bonanza, of solid manure! I can buy youALL, and have mountain ranges of manure left! Ha-ha, NOW thou smilest asmile!" [Immense sensation.] Exhibition of specimens from the mine. OldHuss (enthusiastically): "Wake her up, shake her up, noble young man,she is yours!" Wedding takes place on the spot; bookkeeper restored tohis office and emoluments; Paul Hoch led off to jail. The Bonanza kingof the Black Forest lives to a good old age, blessed with the love ofhis wife and of his twenty-seven children, and the still sweeter envy ofeverybody around.

  We took our noon meal of fried trout one day at the Plow Inn, in a verypretty village (Ottenhoefen), and then went into the public room to restand smoke. There we found nine or ten Black Forest grandees assembledaround a table. They were the Common Council of the parish. They hadgathered there at eight o'clock that morning to elect a new member, andthey had now been drinking beer four hours at the new member's expense.

  They were men of fifty or sixty years of age, with grave good-naturedfaces, and were all dressed in the costume made familiar to us by theBlack Forest stories; broad, round-topped black felt hats with the brimscurled up all round; long red waistcoats with large metal buttons, blackalpaca coats with the waists up between the shoulders. There were nospeeches, there was but little talk, there were no frivolities; theCouncil filled themselves gradually, steadily, but surely, with beer,and conducted themselves with sedate decorum, as became men of position,men of influence, men of manure.

  We had a hot afternoon tramp up the valley, along the grassy bank of arushing stream of clear water, past farmhouses, water-mills, and no endof wayside crucifixes and saints and Virgins. These crucifixes, etc.,are set up in memory of departed friends, by survivors, and are almostas frequent as telegraph-poles are in other lands.

  We followed the carriage-road, and had our usual luck; we traveled undera beating sun, and always saw the shade leave the shady places before wecould get to them. In all our wanderings we seldom managed to strikea piece of road at its time for being shady. We had a particularly hottime of it on that particular afternoon, and with no comfort but what wecould get out of the fact that the peasants at work away up on the steepmountainsides above our heads were even worse off than we were. By andby it became impossible to endure the intolerable glare and heatany longer; so we struck across the ravine and entered the deep cooltwilight of the forest, to hunt for what the guide-book called the "oldroad."

  We found an old road, and it proved eventually to be the right one,though we followed it at the time with the conviction that it was thewrong one. If it was the wrong one there could be no use in hurrying;therefore we did not hurry, but sat down frequently on the soft moss andenjoyed the restful quiet and shade of the forest solitudes. Therehad been distractions in the carriage-road--school-children, peasants,wagons, troops of pedestrianizing students from all over Germany--but wehad the old road to ourselves.

  Now and then, while we rested, we watched the laborious ant at his work.I found nothing new in him--certainly nothing to change my opinion ofhim. It seems to me that in the matter of intellect the ant must be astrangely overrated bird. During many summers, now, I have watched him,when I ought to have been in better business, and I have not yet comeacross a living ant that seemed to have any more sense than a dead one.I refer to the ordinary ant, of course; I have had no experience ofthose wonderful Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies,hold slaves, and dispute about religion. Those particular ants may beall that the naturalist paints them, but I am persuaded that theaverage ant is a sham. I admit his industry, of course; he is thehardest-working creature in the world--when anybody is looking--buthis leather-headedness is the point I make against him. He goes outforaging, he makes a capture, and then what does he do? Go home? No--hegoes anywhere but home. He doesn't know where home is. His home may beonly three feet away--no matter, he can't find it. He makes his capture,as I have said; it is generally something which can be of no sort ofuse to himself or anybody else; it is usually seven times bigger thanit ought to be; he hunts out the awkwardest place to take hold of it;he lifts it bodily up in the air by main force, and starts; not towardhome, but in the opposite direction; not calmly and wisely, but with afrantic haste which is wasteful of his strength; he fetches up againsta pebble, and instead of going around it, he climbs over it backwarddragging his booty after him, tumbles down on the other side, jumps upin a passion, kicks the dust off his clothes, moistens his hands, grabshis property viciously, yanks it this way, then that, shoves it aheadof him a moment, turns tail and lugs it after him another moment,gets madder and madder, then presently hoists it into the air and goestearing away in an entirely new direction; comes to a weed; it neveroccurs to him to go around it; no, he must climb it; and he does climbit, dragging his worthless property to the top--which is as brighta thing to do as it would be for me to carry a sack of flour fromHeidelberg to Paris by way of Strasburg steeple; when he gets up therehe finds that that is not the place; takes a cursory glance at thescenery and either climbs down again or tumbles down, and starts offonce more--as usual, in a new direction. At the end of half an hour, hefetches up within six inches of the place he started from and lays hisburden down; meantime he has been over all the ground for two yardsaround, and climbed all the weeds and pebbles he came across. Now hewipes the sweat from his brow, strokes his limbs, and then marchesaimlessly off, in as violently a hurry as ever. He does not remember tohave ever seen it before; he looks around to see which is not the wayhome, grabs his bundle and starts; he goes through the same adventureshe had before; finally stops to rest, and a friend comes along.Evidently the friend
remarks that a last year's grasshopper leg is avery noble acquisition, and inquires where he got it.

  Evidently the proprietor does not remember exactly where he did getit, but thinks he got it "around here somewhere." Evidently the friendcontracts to help him freight it home. Then, with a judgment peculiarlyantic (pun not intended), they take hold of opposite ends of thatgrasshopper leg and begin to tug with all their might in oppositedirections. Presently they take a rest and confer together. They decidethat something is wrong, they can't make out what. Then they go atit again, just as before. Same result. Mutual recriminations follow.Evidently each accuses the other of being an obstructionist. They lockthemselves together and chew each other's jaws for a while; then theyroll and tumble on the ground till one loses a horn or a leg and has tohaul off for repairs. They make up and go to work again in the same oldinsane way, but the crippled ant is at a disadvantage; tug as he may,the other one drags off the booty and him at the end of it. Insteadof giving up, he hangs on, and gets his shins bruised against everyobstruction that comes in the way. By and by, when that grasshopper leghas been dragged all over the same old ground once more, it is finallydumped at about the spot where it originally lay, the two perspiringants inspect it thoughtfully and decide that dried grasshopper legsare a poor sort of property after all, and then each starts off in adifferent direction to see if he can't find an old nail or somethingelse that is heavy enough to afford entertainment and at the same timevalueless enough to make an ant want to own it.

  There in the Black Forest, on the mountainside, I saw an ant go throughwith such a performance as this with a dead spider of fully ten timeshis own weight. The spider was not quite dead, but too far gone toresist. He had a round body the size of a pea. The little ant--observingthat I was noticing--turned him on his back, sunk his fangs into histhroat, lifted him into the air and started vigorously off with him,stumbling over little pebbles, stepping on the spider's legs andtripping himself up, dragging him backward, shoving him bodily ahead,dragging him up stones six inches high instead of going around them,climbing weeds twenty times his own height and jumping from theirsummits--and finally leaving him in the middle of the road to beconfiscated by any other fool of an ant that wanted him. I measured theground which this ass traversed, and arrived at the conclusion that whathe had accomplished inside of twenty minutes would constitute somesuch job as this--relatively speaking--for a man; to wit: to strap twoeight-hundred-pound horses together, carry them eighteen hundred feet,mainly over (not around) boulders averaging six feet high, and in thecourse of the journey climb up and jump from the top of one precipicelike Niagara, and three steeples, each a hundred and twenty feet high;and then put the horses down, in an exposed place, without anybody towatch them, and go off to indulge in some other idiotic miracle forvanity's sake.