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.
This seems more probable, from the loose constitution of the floor at the point where it joins the stones, as if it were there only made up of drift and debris, while the part of the floor nearer the foot of the wall is solid ice.  It has been suggested to me that possibly water accumulates in the time of greatest thaw to a very large extent in the lower parts of the cave, and the ice-floor is formed where the frost first takes hold of this water.  But the slope of the ice-floor is against this theory, to a certain extent; and the amount of water necessary to fill the cavity would be so enormous, that it is contrary to all experience to imagine such a collection, especially as the cave showed no signs of present thaw.  The appearance of the rocks, too, in the lower cave, and the surface of the ice-wall there, gave no indications of the action of water; and there was no trace of ice among the stones, as there certainly would have been if water had filled the cave, and gradually retired before the attacks of frost, or in consequence of the opening up of drainage.  There were pieces of the trunks of trees, also, and large bones, lying about at different levels on the rocks.  I never searched for bones in these caves, owing to the absence of the stalagmitic covering which preserves cavern-bones from decay; nor did I take any notice of such as presented themselves without search, for the bergers are in the habit of throwing the carcases of deceased cows into any deep hole in the neighbourhood of the place where the carcases may be found, in consequence of the general belief that living cows go mad if they find the grave of a companion; so that I should probably have made a laborious collection of the bones of the bos domesticus.  This belief of the bergers respecting the cows is supported by several circumstantial and apparently trustworthy accounts of fearful fights among herds of cattle over the grave of some of the herd.  The sight of a companion’s blood is said to have a similar effect upon them.  Thus a small pasturage between Anzeindaz and the Col de Cheville, on the border of the cantons Vaud and Valais, is still called Boulaire from legendary times, when the herdsmen of Vaud (then Berne) won back from certain Valaisan thieves the cattle the latter were carrying off from La Varraz.  Some of the cows were wounded in the battle, and the sight of their blood drove the others mad, so that they fought till almost all the herd was destroyed; whence the name Boulaire, from eboueler, to disembowel,—­a word formed from boue, the patois for boyau.

When we left the lower darkness and ascended to the floor of ice once more, Mignot expressed a desire to see my attempt at a sketch of the glaciere from that point, as he had been much struck during his negotiatory visit of the night before by the sketch of the entrance to the Glaciere of S. Georges, chiefly because he had guessed what it was meant for.  He was evidently disappointed with the representation

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