And such a ride afterwards! It was as if the organ music still continued. All the world knows the exquisite views southward from Freiburg; but such an atmosphere as we had does not overhang them many times in a season. First the Moleross, and a range of mountains bathed in misty blue light,—rugged peaks, scarred sides, white and tawny at once, rising into the clouds which hung large and soft in the blue; soon Mont Blanc, dim and aerial, in the south; the lovely valley of the River Sense; peasants walking with burdens on the white highway; the quiet and soft-tinted mountains beyond; towns perched on hills, with old castles and towers; the land rich with grass, grain, fruit, flowers; at Palezieux a magnificent view of the silver, purple, and blue mountains, with their chalky seams and gashed sides, near at hand; and at length, coming through a long tunnel, as if we had been shot out into the air above a country more surprising than any in dreams, the most wonderful sight burst upon us,—the low-lying, deep-blue Lake Leman, and the gigantic mountains rising from its shores, and a sort of mist, translucent, suffused with sunlight, like the liquid of the golden wine the Steinberger poured into the vast basin. We came upon it out of total darkness, without warning; and we seemed, from our great height, to be about to leap into the splendid gulf of tremulous light and color.
This Lake of Geneva is said to combine the robust mountain grandeur of Luzerne with all the softness of atmosphere of Lake Maggiore. Surely, nothing could exceed the loveliness as we wound down the hillside, through the vineyards, to Lausanne, and farther on, near the foot of the lake, to Montreux, backed by precipitous but tree-clad hills, fronted by the lovely water, and the great mountains which run away south into Savoy, where Velan lifts up its snows. Below us, round the curving bay, lies white Chillon; and at sunset we row down to it over the bewitched water, and wait under its grim walls till the failing light brings back the romance of castle and prisoner. Our garcon had never heard of the prisoner; but he knew about the gendarmes who now occupy the castle.