It so fell that one dark evening in the month of June I was belated in the Bernese Oberland. Dusk overtook me toiling along the great Chamounix Road, and in the heart of a most desolate gorge, whose towering snow-flung walls seemed as the day sucked inwards to a point secret as a leech's mouth to close about me like a monstrous amphitheatre of ghosts.
"From Valais we went to Mont-Blanc, and one night we arrived at Chamounix " "Did you see any idiots in Valais?" suddenly interrupted Marillac, as he filled his pipe the second time. "Several, and they were all horrible." "Do you not think we might compose something with an idiot in it? It might be rather taking."
We dutifully visited the so-called Mer de Glace in the Val de Chamounix and the Flegere, from which I obtained a most impressive view of Mont Blanc.
Then I read some passages.... A few went away when I read.... You will wonder what I sang! Only it is quite a different hymn, making prominent the other side, He and He only is and does all for us." This hymn thus written was of good service on another occasion. On the way from Chamounix to Great St. Bernard Hospice, some of the passengers in the diligence sang French songs remarkably well.
The state carriages had to be left at Sallanches when the sovereigns went up to the great ball offered them at Chamounix, and, when they returned, the little mountain carriages which brought them down halted under the windows of the auberge of St. Martin, in which I lived, to wait for the state carriages to come across the river.
There were still two other reasons why we should select the Mont Blanc in Chamounix: the first, because the Contessa was going there and had asked us to do likewise; the second, because at Martigny we had seen an advertisement of the hotel which stated that it was situated in a "vaste parc avec chamois."
Shikari of the Upper Himalayas, gillies of Perthshire and the Western Highlands, chamois-hunters of the Tyrol, and guides of Chamounix or Courmayeur, could all have told tales of that long, slashing stride, to which hill or dale, rough or smooth, never came amiss; before which even the weary German miles were swallowed up like furlongs.
The trees and walls were hung with Chinese lanterns; gay uniforms and shimmering gowns flitted across his vision. Somewhere within the chateau an orchestra was playing the overture from "Linda di Chamounix." Indeed, with all these brave officers, old men in black bedecked with ribbons, handsome women in a brilliant sparkle of jewels, it had the semblance of a gay court.
"Let us go nearer to her," said Ruskin; and they walked that way, when the boy stopped, saying that he did not want to go nearer, for the woman looked up, and he said that she had no eyes in her head, "only holes." The valley of Chamounix finally became to me the most gloomy and depressing place I was ever in.
I should only want people I liked, to do things because they cared about me, otherwise favours would be of no value. We're pals, as you say, great pals, but if you don't care enough " "Oh, hang it all, Kid, I'll give the thing up," I broke in, crossly. "I'll potter about with you and the Contessa in Chamounix, and take some nice, pretty, proper walks. But all the same, you're a little brute."