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Switzerland, the Cradle of Liberty
by [?]

“Appoint your court. I will bring a witness.”

The court thus created consisted of fifteen counts and barons. A day was appointed for the trial of the case. On that day the judges took their seats in state, and proclamation was made that the court was ready for business. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes passed, and yet no Fridolin appeared. Landulph rose, and was in the act of claiming judgment by default when a strange clacking sound was heard coming up the stairs. In another moment Fridolin entered at the door and came walking in a deep hush down the middle aisle, with a tall skeleton stalking in his rear.

Amazement and terror sat upon every countenance, for everybody suspected that the skeleton was Urso’s. It stopped before the chief judge and raised its bony arm aloft and began to speak, while all the assembled shuddered, for they could see the words leak out between its ribs. It said:

“Brother, why dost thou disturb my blessed rest and withhold by robbery the gift which I gave thee for the honor of God?”

It seems a strange thing and most irregular, but the verdict was actually given against Landulph on the testimony of this wandering rack-heap of unidentified bones. In our day a skeleton would not be allowed to testify at all, for a skeleton has no moral responsibility, and its word could not be believed on oath, and this was probably one of them. However, the incident is valuable as preserving to us a curious sample of the quaint laws of evidence of that remote time–a time so remote, so far back toward the beginning of original idiocy, that the difference between a bench of judges and a basket of vegetables was as yet so slight that we may say with all confidence that it didn’t really exist.

During several afternoons I have been engaged in an interesting, maybe useful, piece of work–that is to say, I have been trying to make the mighty Jungfrau earn her living–earn it in a most humble sphere, but on a prodigious scale, on a prodigious scale of necessity, for she couldn’t do anything in a small way with her size and style. I have been trying to make her do service on a stupendous dial and check off the hours as they glide along her pallid face up there against the sky, and tell the time of day to the populations lying within fifty miles of her and to the people in the moon, if they have a good telescope there.

Until late in the afternoon the Jungfrau’s aspect is that of a spotless desert of snow set upon edge against the sky. But by mid-afternoon some elevations which rise out of the western border of the desert, whose presence you perhaps had not detected or suspected up to that time, began to cast black shadows eastward across the gleaming surface. At first there is only one shadow; later there are two. Toward 4 P.M. the other day I was gazing and worshiping as usual when I chanced to notice that shadow No. 1 was beginning to take itself something of the shape of the human profile. By four the back of the head was good, the military cap was pretty good, the nose was bold and strong, the upper lip sharp, but not pretty, and there was a great goatee that shot straight aggressively forward from the chin.

At four-thirty the nose had changed its shape considerably, and the altered slant of the sun had revealed and made conspicuous a huge buttress or barrier of naked rock which was so located as to answer very well for a shoulder or coat-collar to this swarthy and indiscreet sweetheart who had stolen out there right before everybody to pillow his head on the Virgin’s white breast and whisper soft sentimentalities to her in the sensuous music of the crashing ice-domes and the boom and thunder of the passing avalanche–music very familiar to his ear, for he had heard it every afternoon at this hour since the day he first came courting this child of the earth, who lives in the sky, and that day is far, yes–for he was at this pleasant sport before the Middle Ages drifted by him in the valley; before the Romans marched past, and before the antique and recordless barbarians fished and hunted here and wondered who he might be, and were probably afraid of him; and before primeval man himself, just emerged from his four-footed estate, stepped out upon this plain, first sample of his race, a thousand centuries ago, and cast a glad eye up there, judging he had found a brother human being and consequently something to kill; and before the big saurians wallowed here, still some eons earlier. Oh yes, a day so far back that the eternal son was present to see that first visit; a day so far back that neither tradition nor history was born yet and a whole weary eternity must come and go before the restless little creature, of whose face this stupendous Shadow Face was the prophecy, would arrive in the earth and begin his shabby career and think of a big thing. Oh, indeed yes; when you talk about your poor Roman and Egyptian day-before-yesterday antiquities, you should choose a time when the hoary Shadow Face of the Jungfrau is not by. It antedates all antiquities known or imaginable; for it was here the world itself created the theater of future antiquities. And it is the only witness with a human face that was there to see the marvel, and remains to us a memorial of it.