Ten minutes afterward we met a hot, red-faced man plunging down the mountain, with mighty strides, swinging his alpenstock ahead of him and taking a grip on the ground with its iron point to support these big strides.
He stopped, fanned himself with his hat, swabbed the perspiration from his face and neck with a red handkerchief, panted a moment or two, and asked how far it was to Wäggis. I said three hours. He looked surprised, and said,—
"Why, it seems as if I could toss a biscuit into the lake from here, it's so close by. Is that an inn, there?"
I said it was.
"Well," said he, "I can't stand another three hours, I've had enough for to-day; I'll take a bed there."
"Are we nearly to the top?"
"Nearly to the top! Why, bless your soul, you haven't really started, yet."
I said we would put up at the inn, too. So we turned back and ordered a hot supper, and had quite a jolly evening of it with this Englishman.
The German landlady gave us neat rooms and nice beds, and when I and my agent turned in, it was with the resolution to be up early and make the utmost of our first Alpine sunrise. But of course we were dead tired, and slept like policemen; so when we awoke in the morning and ran to the window it was already too late, because it was half past eleven.