The ship settles down from its long voyage. We are at home. We are at peace.
THE GARDEN IN THE MOUNTAINS
[These concluding lines are from the journal of Gabriel Weltstein.]
Since my return home I have not been idle. In the first place, I collected and put together the letters I had written to my brother Heinrich, from New York. I did this because I thought they were important, as a picture of the destruction of civilization, and of the events which led up to it. I furthermore had them printed on our printing-press, believing that every succeeding century would make them more valuable to posterity; and that in time they would be treasured as we now treasure the glimpses of the world before the Deluge, contained in the Book of Genesis.
And I have concluded to still further preserve, in the pages of this journal, a record of events as they transpire.
As soon as I had explained to my family the causes of our return—for which they were in part prepared by my letters to Heinrich—and had made them acquainted with my wife and friends, I summoned a meeting of the inhabitants of our colony—there are about five thousand of them, men, women and children.
They all came, bringing baskets of provisions with them, as to a picnic. We met in an ancient grove upon a hillside. I spoke to them and told them the dreadful tale of the destruction of the world. I need not say that they were inexpressibly shocked by the awful narrative. Many of them wept bitterly, and some even cried out aloud—for they had left behind them, in Switzerland, many dear friends and relatives. I comforted them as best I could, by reminding them that the Helvetian Republic had survived a great many dynasties and revolutions; that they were not given to the luxuries and excesses that had wrecked the world, but were a primitive people, among whom labor had always remained honorable. Moreover, they were a warlike race, and their mountains were their fortifications; and they would, therefore, probably, be able to defend themselves against the invasion of the hungry and starving hordes who would range and ravage the earth.
The first question for us, I said, was to ascertain how to best protect ourselves from like dangers. We then proceeded to discuss the physical conformation of our country. It is a vast table-land, situated at a great height far above the tropical and miasmatic plains, and surrounded by mountains still higher, in which dwell the remnants of that curious white race first described by Stanley. The only access to our region from the lower country is by means of the ordinary wagon road which winds upward through a vast defile or gorge in the mountains. At one point the precipitous walls of this gorge approach so closely together that there is room for only two wagons to pass abreast. We determined to assemble all our men the next day at this place, and build up a high wall that would completely cut off communication with the external world, making the wall so thick and strong that it would be impossible for any force that was likely to come against us to batter it down.