Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 303 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

The stairs were a sort of cross between a ladder and nothing, and when we reached the proposed room a large mastiff was in possession, who would not let us enter till the master was summoned to expel him.  The furniture consisted of a table and five chairs, with no bed or beds.  On the chairs were various articles of clothing, blouses and garments more profound, belonging probably to members of the party below; and on the table, a bottle of water and a soup-plate, the pitcher and basin of the house.  It was a mere slip of a room, with two diamond-shaped holes in one wall, whose purpose I discovered when my guide opened a papered door, in which were the holes, and displayed two beds foot to foot in an alcove.  One of these, she was sure, would be too short for me, but she feared I must be satisfied with it, as the other was much broader and would therefore hold the two messieurs.  How the two?  I asked, and was told that two pensionnaires lived in this room; but they were old friends, and for one night would sleep in the same bed to oblige monsieur.  The ideas of length and breadth in connection with the beds were entirely driven from my head by the fact of their dirtiness; and I determined that if the two pensionnaires occupied the one, the other should be unoccupied.

After arranging things a little, I struggled down the steps again, and ordered coffee and bread in a little room, which commanded the assembly with the fiddles in the larger salle.  The head waitress, busy as she was, found time to come now and then to an open window near where I sat, and talked to a male friend sitting outside in the dark:  indeed, she did more than talk, and people had to rattle their glasses very hard before they could make her hear.  From her I learned that this was a marriage party which had arrived; and when I asked why they did not dance, as the fiddles were engaged at that moment with unwonted unanimity upon dance-music, she gave me to understand that these were not people of Thorens, but only a party from another village, making the evening promenade after the wedding:  from which it would seem that it is not the etiquette for people to dance under such circumstances, except in the home village.  They sat round a table, men and women alternately, with their hats on, and with glasses before them.  The bride and bridegroom were accommodated with a bench to themselves at the head of the table, he likewise with his hat on, and with a pipe in his mouth, which, seeing that he was a demonstrative bridegroom, one might have supposed to be an inconvenience.  He managed very well, however, and every one seemed contented:  indeed, the pipe must, I think, be held to be no difficulty; for the men all smoked, and yet, to judge from appearances, there was a prospect of as many marriages as there were couples in the room.  The unruffled gravity, however, and the apparent want of zest, both in giving and receiving, which characterised the proceedings specially referred to, led me to suppose that it might be only a part of the etiquette, and so meant nothing serious.

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