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Mark Twain > A Tramp Abroad > Chapter XXX

A Tramp Abroad

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 CO^T'E 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 C^OTE DE LA RIVIE`RE, 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 FENE^TRE 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 E'TOILES 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.

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