Part 3. Thwarted Romance and runaway horses!
Thursday July 23rd continued.
We passed through the village right to the head of the valley,
and the beginning of the Gemmi Pass. At the Baron Hotel we dismounted. Under
the trees we ate our lunch, coffee being provided by the Hotel people at a
charge of 75c. Lunch over, we paid a visit to the fall behind the hotel. There
was a fine rush of water, flowing amongst huge boulders, but the sight was by
no means so extraordinary, as many of the falls we had already seen. We found
some Alpine roses, which we carried off as trophies. Barbara and Jeanie Rae
followed the rough mountain path further and were greatly delighted, with the
views to be had higher up. They felt quite near to the snow and had a splendid
view of the Snow mountains. Jeanie got some snap-shots. I returned by myself,
and was standing alone waiting for some of the Scotties to turn up, when the
gentleman who sits opposite to me at table came up. He proceeded to apologise
for looking at me sometimes at table. I had noticed that I often met his gaze
across the table, but I thought nothing of it , as it is hardly possible to sit
directly opposite a person for an hour or more, without glancing iin their
direction pretty frequently. Besides a cat may look at a King, and I said so.
As the gentleman seemed serious, however, I ceased to make light of the
business. He went on to explain, that I was exceedingly like a girl whom, to
quote his own words, he had kept company with. He was just telling
me that she died, when Mr Ball appeared on the scene, and dropped the curtain
on that little romance. I heard no more.
On the Gilberts suggestion, I went into the Hotel to have a look
at the smoke room. It is very simply but beautifully done up. The walls have
the appearance of Wedgewood china. The ground is greenish with a raised pattern
in white stucco. On one wall is a design of palms and birds, and on the other
wall, vines with grapes. The curtains above and down the sides of the windows
are narrow green embroidered stripes, fitting the windows exactly. The
furniture was of green wicker work. The dining room is also very nicely done
up. The curtains had the design picked out in colour. We helped ourselves to
some literature, and seated ourselves at one of the tables outside to examine
it. Suddenly there was a great noise and a team of horses dashed down the road.
Mr Thomas sprang out and seized the bridle of the nearest horse, and between
his efforts and those of the driver, the runaway horses were brought to a
stand. They had evidently got a fright. With one accord we clapped our worthy
leader on the back, much to his disgust. Some suggested a medal. I asked him if
a fir cone would fit the occasion, but I had to bolt to escape his answer. We
paid a visit to the sick, in the form of a poor cow, who had got its ankle
broken. It was all trussed up with straw and ropes, in a kind of wooden sledge,
and looked very sick poor thing. There was an army of men round, whose
perspiring countenances testified to the struggles they had had, in trussing
the poor Kuh. We had time for a short walk up the Gemmi pass and
came upon another beautiful waterfall. We met several tourists coming down
with alpenstocks knapsacks &c. A very funny little mountain cart
passed us pulled by one horse, another horse bringing up the rear all alone. At
4 p.m. we re-entered our caravans and started on the homeward journey. We were
able to travel much quicker, the way being all downhill. Kandersteg valley
looked even more lovely, if that were possible, in the afternoon sunshine. I
tried to soak it in, absorb it, it was so beautiful.
At Trutigen we stopped to water the horses, and Phys employed
the shining hours in buying sweets, of which we all had a share. The process of
watering was not a lengthy one, and we were soon on our way again. In a very
short time we passed a Restaurant, and who should we see seated there, but our
worthy leaders drinking well red stuff. We ohed and
ahed as we passed, which by no means disconcerted the gentlemen.
Our driver asked us to chanter as we had done dans le
matin and we obliged him. This we considered a high compliment to our
singing abilities, and indeed we made not a bad choir. There were several good
altos in the company, and Mr Lister had a good voice, so that when we were all
singing it sounded not half bad. Nan having suggested Riding down from
Bangor, and the look on Luks face was worth seeing. We returned to our
hymns. St. Georges Edinburgh & Invocation sounded very fine indeed. We
continued in this way for some time and then we had an accident.
We were going down a long hill, when one of our horses stumbled
and fell. The driver did his best to help it up, but with four horses in hand,
this was no light task. He applied the break full power, but notwithstanding
this, the machine was pressing down on the top of the poor fallen horse. By
this time the other three horses were getting frightened, and began to rear and
plunge. Touzer rose to the occasion, and grabbed the reins pulling for all she
was worth. This gradually brought the animals to a stand. She had no idea how
hard she had pulled, till she had one of the horses heads pulled round, till it
was looking at her. Immediately the driver was down and soon the poor horse was
on its feet again. Poor beast, it had got all skinned with being dragged along
the road, and the blood was running down its legs. Fortunately, the accident
happened at Reichenbach, where it could be attended to. The driver led the
horse away. Poor man, he was very white & I am sure he got a great scare.
The horses certainly looked as if they were going to plunge into the wall, and
if T had not saved the situation, it would have been a serious business for the
folks in the machine. We all kept quite calm however and showed no signs of
doing anything daft.
While the driver was away, some other men arranged the harness
for three horses. We were quite willing to walk home, but as this was quite
unnecessary we got into the machine again. Nan and T tried to find out from the
driver, if he would get into trouble, they did not comprenez very
well, what he said, but they gathered that the horse was not seriously injured
and that he would be all right. Several times I caught him looking at T, as if
she were a new species of being. Touser has now got quite a reputation for
We were not long in reaching home, and we pestered Mr Thomas to
see that the driver got into no trouble as he was in no wise to blame. The
proprietor set our minds at rest by saying, that he did not blame the driver,
as he knew him to be very careful which was indeed true. We had not much
time to dress for dinner, as we were late as usual. We enjoyed the dinner none
the less on that account.
Afterwards we discussed the ascent of the Niesen, and eight
Scotties decided to go. These were Nan, Phys, Bury, Mr Allan, Mr F,
Miss Lister, and T & myself. The other members of the party were going to
Montreux or Beatenberg. We had to leave our boots with the porter to have them
spiked for the morrows operations. This done we went to bed and so this
day of adventures closed.
The Niesen is a mountain, located in the Bernese Oberland region
of the Swiss Alps, overlooking Lake Thun and is often called the Swiss Pyramid.
The summit of the mountain (2362 metres) can be reached easily
with a funicular from Mülenen (near Reichenbach). The construction of the
Niesenbahn funicular was completed in 1910. Alongside the path of the
Niesenbahn is the longest stairway in the world with 11,674 steps. It is open
only once a year to the public for a stair run.
The Niesen was the subject of a number of paintings by Paul
Klee, in which it was represented as a quasi-pyramid.
The literal German translation of the word Niesen is sneeze.