Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.
the surface reminded me of a curious district on one of the summits of the Jura, where the French frontier takes the line of crest, and the old stones marked with the fleur-de-lys and the Helvetic cross are still to be found.  In those border regions the old historic distinctions are still remembered, and the frontier Vaudois call the neighbouring French Bourguignons—­or, in their patois, Borgognons.  They keep up the tradition of old hatreds; and the strange bleak summit, with its smooth slabs of Jura-chalk lying level with the surface, is so much like a vast cemetery, that the wish in old times has been father to the thought, and they call it still the Cemetery of the Burgundians, Cimetiros ai Borgognons.[73]

After a time, we reached a tumbled chaos of rock, much resembling the ice-fall of a glacier, and, on descending, and rounding a low spur of the mountain so as to take a north-westerly course, we found ourselves in a perfect paradise of flowers.  One orchis I shall always regret.  There seemed to be only a single head, closely packed with flowerets, and strongly scented; it was a pure white, not the green and straw-coloured white of other scented orchises.  There were large patches of the delicate faux-lis (Paradisia liliastrum); and though there might not be anything very rare, and the lovely glacier-flowers were of course wanting, the whole was a rich feast for anyone who cares more for delicacy and colour than for botany.

The maire told us that he had found the glaciere, for which we were now in search, two years before, when he accompanied the government surveyor to show him the forests and mountains which formed his property.  As he had on that occasion approached the spot from the other side, we walked a long way to place him exactly where the surveyor and he had crossed the ridge of the mountain, and then started him down from the Col in the direction they had taken.  He was certain of two things:  first, that they had passed by the Col between the Mont Parmelan and the Montagne de l’Eau; and, secondly, that the glaciere was within five minutes of the highest point of the Col.  For three-quarters of an hour we all broke our shins, and the officials the Third Commandment.  They invoked more saints than I had ever heard of, and, in default, did not scruple to appeal with shocking volubility to darker aid.  It was all of no use,—­and well it might be; for when we had given it up in despair, after long patience and a considerable period of the contrary, and had descended for half an hour in the direction of a third glaciere, I chanced to look back, and saw that the Col in the neighbourhood of which we had been searching lay between two points of the Montagne de l’Eau; while the true Col between that mountain and the Mont Parmelan lay considerably to the west.  When it appears that a guide has probably made a mistake, the only plan is to assume quietly that it is so, as if it were a matter of no

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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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