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Chapter 30


CHAPTER XXX [Harris Climbs Mountains for Me]

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

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

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

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

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

Official Report

OF A VISIT TO THE FURKA REGION. BY H. HARRIS, AGENT

About seven o'clock in the morning, with perfectly fine weather, we
started from Hospenthal, and arrived at the MAISON on the Furka in
a little under QUATRE hours. The want of variety in the scenery
from Hospenthal made the KAHKAHPONEEKA wearisome; but let none be
discouraged; no one can fail to be completely R'ECOMPENS'EE for his
fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch of the Oberland,
the tremendous Finsteraarhorn. A moment before all was dullness, but
a PAS further has placed us on the summit of the Furka; and exactly in
front of us, at a HOPOW of only fifteen miles, this magnificent mountain
lifts its snow-wreathed precipices into the deep blue sky. The inferior
mountains on each side of the pass form a sort of frame for the picture
of their dread lord, and close in the view so completely that no other
prominent feature in the Oberland is visible from this BONG-A-BONG;
nothing withdraws the attention from the solitary grandeur of the
Finsteraarhorn and the dependent spurs which form the abutments of the
central peak.

With the addition of some others, who were also bound for the Grimsel,
we formed a large XHVLOJ as we descended the STEG which winds round the
shoulder of a mountain toward the Rhone Glacier. We soon left the path
and took to the ice; and after wandering amongst the crevices UN PEU, to
admire the wonders of these deep blue caverns, and hear the rushing of
waters through their subglacial channels, we struck out a course toward
L'AUTRE CÔTE and crossed the glacier successfully, a little above the
cave from which the infant Rhone takes its first bound from under the
grand precipice of ice. Half a mile below this we began to climb the
flowery side of the Meienwand. One of our party started before the rest,
but the HITZE was so great, that we found IHM quite exhausted, and lying
at full length in the shade of a large GESTEIN. We sat down with him
for a time, for all felt the heat exceedingly in the climb up this very
steep BOLWOGGOLY, and then we set out again together, and arrived at
last near the Dead Man's Lake, at the foot of the Sidelhorn. This lonely
spot, once used for an extempore burying-place, after a sanguinary
BATTUE between the French and Austrians, is the perfection of
desolation; there is nothing in sight to mark the hand of man, except
the line of weather-beaten whitened posts, set up to indicate the
direction of the pass in the OWDAWAKK of winter. Near this point the
footpath joins the wider track, which connects the Grimsel with the head
of the Rhone SCHNAWP; this has been carefully constructed, and leads
with a tortuous course among and over LES PIERRES, down to the bank of
the gloomy little SWOSH-SWOSH, which almost washes against the walls of
the Grimsel Hospice. We arrived a little before four o'clock at the end
of our day's journey, hot enough to justify the step, taking by most of
the PARTIE, of plunging into the crystal water of the snow-fed lake.

The next afternoon we started for a walk up the Unteraar glacier, with
the intention of, at all events, getting as far as the HUETTE which is
used as a sleeping-place by most of those who cross the Strahleck Pass
to Grindelwald. We got over the tedious collection of stones and DE'BRIS
which covers the PIED of the GLETCHER, and had walked nearly three hours
from the Grimsel, when, just as we were thinking of crossing over to the
right, to climb the cliffs at the foot of the hut, the clouds, which had
for some time assumed a threatening appearance, suddenly dropped, and
a huge mass of them, driving toward us from the Finsteraarhorn, poured
down a deluge of HABOOLONG and hail. Fortunately, we were not far from
a very large glacier-table; it was a huge rock balanced on a pedestal
of ice high enough to admit of our all creeping under it for GOWKARAK.
A stream of PUCKITTYPUKK had furrowed a course for itself in the ice
at its base, and we were obliged to stand with one FUSS on each side of
this, and endeavor to keep ourselves CHAUD by cutting steps in the steep
bank of the pedestal, so as to get a higher place for standing on,
as the WASSER rose rapidly in its trench. A very cold BZZZZZZZZEEE
accompanied the storm, and made our position far from pleasant; and
presently came a flash of BLITZEN, apparently in the middle of our
little party, with an instantaneous clap of YOKKY, sounding like a large
gun fired close to our ears; the effect was startling; but in a few
seconds our attention was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder
against the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us. This
was followed by many more bursts, none of WELCHE, however, was so
dangerously near; and after waiting a long DEMI-hour in our icy prison,
we sallied out to talk through a HABOOLONG which, though not so heavy
as before, was quite enough to give us a thorough soaking before our
arrival at the Hospice.

The Grimsel is CERTAINEMENT a wonderful place; situated at the bottom
of a sort of huge crater, the sides of which are utterly savage GEBIRGE,
composed of barren rocks which cannot even support a single pine ARBRE,
and afford only scanty food for a herd of GMWKWLLOLP, it looks as if
it must be completely BEGRABEN in the winter snows. Enormous avalanches
fall against it every spring, sometimes covering everything to the depth
of thirty or forty feet; and, in spite of walls four feet thick, and
furnished with outside shutters, the two men who stay here when the
VOYAGEURS are snugly quartered in their distant homes can tell you that
the snow sometimes shakes the house to its foundations.

Next morning the HOGGLEBUMGULLUP still continued bad, but we made up our
minds to go on, and make the best of it. Half an hour after we started,
the REGEN thickened unpleasantly, and we attempted to get shelter under
a projecting rock, but being far to NASS already to make standing at all
AGRE'ABLE, we pushed on for the Handeck, consoling ourselves with the
reflection that from the furious rushing of the river Aar at our
side, we should at all events see the celebrated WASSERFALL in GRANDE
PERFECTION. Nor were we NAPPERSOCKET in our expectation; the water
was roaring down its leap of two hundred and fifty feet in a most
magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling to its rocky sides
swayed to and fro in the violence of the hurricane which it brought down
with it; even the stream, which falls into the main cascade at right
angles, and TOUTEFOIS forms a beautiful feature in the scene, was now
swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence of this "meeting of the
waters," about fifty feet below the frail bridge where we stood, was
fearfully grand. While we were looking at it, GLUECKLICHEWEISE a gleam
of sunshine came out, and instantly a beautiful rainbow was formed by
the spray, and hung in mid-air suspended over the awful gorge.

On going into the CHALET above the fall, we were informed that a BRUECKE
had broken down near Guttanen, and that it would be impossible to
proceed for some time; accordingly we were kept in our drenched
condition for EIN STUNDE, when some VOYAGEURS arrived from Meiringen,
and told us that there had been a trifling accident, ABER that we could
now cross. On arriving at the spot, I was much inclined to suspect that
the whole story was a ruse to make us SLOWWK and drink the more at the
Handeck Inn, for only a few planks had been carried away, and though
there might perhaps have been some difficulty with mules, the gap was
certainly not larger than a MMBGLX might cross with a very slight leap.
Near Guttanen the HABOOLONG happily ceased, and we had time to walk
ourselves tolerably dry before arriving at Reichenback, WO we enjoyed a
good DINE' at the Hotel des Alps.

Next morning we walked to Rosenlaui, the BEAU ID'EAL of Swiss scenery,
where we spent the middle of the day in an excursion to the glacier.
This was more beautiful than words can describe, for in the constant
progress of the ice it has changed the form of its extremity and formed
a vast cavern, as blue as the sky above, and rippled like a frozen
ocean. A few steps cut in the WHOOPJAMBOREEHOO enabled us to walk
completely under this, and feast our eyes upon one of the loveliest
objects in creation. The glacier was all around divided by numberless
fissures of the same exquisite color, and the finest wood-ERDBEEREN were
growing in abundance but a few yards from the ice. The inn stands in
a CHARMANT spot close to the CÔTE DE LA RIVIÈRE, which, lower down,
forms the Reichenbach fall, and embosomed in the richest of pine woods,
while the fine form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the
enchanting BOPPLE. In the afternoon we walked over the Great Scheideck
to Grindelwald, stopping to pay a visit to the Upper glacier by the way;
but we were again overtaken by bad HOGGLEBUMGULLUP and arrived at the
hotel in a SOLCHE a state that the landlord's wardrobe was in great
request.

The clouds by this time seemed to have done their worst, for a lovely
day succeeded, which we determined to devote to an ascent of the
Faulhorn. We left Grindelwald just as a thunder-storm was dying away,
and we hoped to find GUTEN WETTER up above; but the rain, which had
nearly ceased, began again, and we were struck by the rapidly increasing
FROID as we ascended. Two-thirds of the way up were completed when
the rain was exchanged for GNILLIC, with which the BODEN was thickly
covered, and before we arrived at the top the GNILLIC and mist became
so thick that we could not see one another at more than twenty POOPOO
distance, and it became difficult to pick our way over the rough and
thickly covered ground. Shivering with cold, we turned into bed with a
double allowance of clothes, and slept comfortably while the wind
howled AUTOUR DE LA MAISON; when I awoke, the wall and the window looked
equally dark, but in another hour I found I could just see the form
of the latter; so I jumped out of bed, and forced it open, though with
great difficulty from the frost and the quantities of GNILLIC heaped up
against it.

A row of huge icicles hung down from the edge of the roof, and anything
more wintry than the whole ANBLICK could not well be imagined; but the
sudden appearance of the great mountains in front was so startling
that I felt no inclination to move toward bed again. The snow which
had collected upon LA FENÊTRE had increased the FINSTERNISS ODER DER
DUNKELHEIT, so that when I looked out I was surprised to find that the
daylight was considerable, and that the BALRAGOOMAH would evidently rise
before long. Only the brightest of LES ÉTOILES were still shining; the
sky was cloudless overhead, though small curling mists lay thousands of
feet below us in the valleys, wreathed around the feet of the mountains,
and adding to the splendor of their lofty summits. We were soon dressed
and out of the house, watching the gradual approach of dawn, thoroughly
absorbed in the first near view of the Oberland giants, which broke
upon us unexpectedly after the intense obscurity of the evening before.
"KABAUGWAKKO SONGWASHEE KUM WETTERHORN SNAWPO!" cried some one, as that
grand summit gleamed with the first rose of dawn; and in a few moments
the double crest of the Schreckhorn followed its example; peak after
peak seemed warmed with life, the Jungfrau blushed even more beautifully
than her neighbors, and soon, from the Wetterhorn in the east to the
Wildstrubel in the west, a long row of fires glowed upon mighty altars,
truly worthy of the gods. The WLGW was very severe; our sleeping-place
could hardly be DISTINGUEE' from the snow around it, which had fallen
to a depth of a FLIRK during the past evening, and we heartily enjoyed a
rough scramble EN BAS to the Giesbach falls, where we soon found a warm
climate. At noon the day before Grindelwald the thermometer could
not have stood at less than 100 degrees Fahr. in the sun; and in the
evening, judging from the icicles formed, and the state of the windows,
there must have been at least twelve DINGBLATTER of frost, thus giving a
change of 80 degrees during a few hours.

I said:

"You have done well, Harris; this report is concise, compact, well
expressed; the language is crisp, the descriptions are vivid and not
needlessly elaborated; your report goes straight to the point, attends
strictly to business, and doesn't fool around. It is in many ways an
excellent document. But it has a fault--it is too learned, it is much
too learned. What is 'DINGBLATTER'?

"'DINGBLATTER' is a Fiji word meaning 'degrees.'"

"You knew the English of it, then?"

"Oh, yes."

"What is 'GNILLIC'?

"That is the Eskimo term for 'snow.'"

"So you knew the English for that, too?"

"Why, certainly."

"What does 'MMBGLX' stand for?"

"That is Zulu for 'pedestrian.'"

"'While the form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the
enchanting BOPPLE.' What is 'BOPPLE'?"

"'Picture.' It's Choctaw."

"What is 'SCHNAWP'?"

"'Valley.' That is Choctaw, also."

"What is 'BOLWOGGOLY'?"

"That is Chinese for 'hill.'"

"'KAHKAHPONEEKA'?"

"'Ascent.' Choctaw."

"'But we were again overtaken by bad HOGGLEBUMGULLUP.' What does
'HOGGLEBUMGULLUP' mean?"

"That is Chinese for 'weather.'"

"Is 'HOGGLEBUMGULLUP' better than the English word? Is it any more
descriptive?"

"No, it means just the same."

"And 'DINGBLATTER' and 'GNILLIC,' and 'BOPPLE,' and 'SCHNAWP'--are they
better than the English words?"

"No, they mean just what the English ones do."

"Then why do you use them? Why have you used all this Chinese and
Choctaw and Zulu rubbish?"

"Because I didn't know any French but two or three words, and I didn't
know any Latin or Greek at all."

"That is nothing. Why should you want to use foreign words, anyhow?"

"They adorn my page. They all do it."

"Who is 'all'?"

"Everybody. Everybody that writes elegantly. Anybody has a right to that
wants to."

"I think you are mistaken." I then proceeded in the following scathing
manner. "When really learned men write books for other learned men
to read, they are justified in using as many learned words as they
please--their audience will understand them; but a man who writes a book
for the general public to read is not justified in disfiguring his pages
with untranslated foreign expressions. It is an insolence toward the
majority of the purchasers, for it is a very frank and impudent way of
saying, 'Get the translations made yourself if you want them, this
book is not written for the ignorant classes.' There are men who know
a foreign language so well and have used it so long in their daily
life that they seem to discharge whole volleys of it into their English
writings unconsciously, and so they omit to translate, as much as
half the time. That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the man's
readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer would say he only uses
the foreign language where the delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed
in English. Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man,
and he ought to warn the nine other not to buy his book. However, the
excuse he offers is at least an excuse; but there is another set of
men who are like YOU; they know a WORD here and there, of a foreign
language, or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from the
back of the Dictionary, and these are continually peppering into their
literature, with a pretense of knowing that language--what excuse can
they offer? The foreign words and phrases which they use have their
exact equivalents in a nobler language--English; yet they think they
'adorn their page' when they say STRASSE for street, and BAHNHOF for
railway-station, and so on--flaunting these fluttering rags of poverty
in the reader's face and imagining he will be ass enough to take
them for the sign of untold riches held in reserve. I will let your
'learning' remain in your report; you have as much right, I suppose, to
'adorn your page' with Zulu and Chinese and Choctaw rubbish as others of
your sort have to adorn theirs with insolent odds and ends smouched from
half a dozen learned tongues whose A-B ABS they don't even know."

When the musing spider steps upon the red-hot shovel, he first exhibits
a wild surprise, then he shrivels up. Similar was the effect of these
blistering words upon the tranquil and unsuspecting Agent. I can be
dreadfully rough on a person when the mood takes me.

Mark Twain