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Jack And Jill
by [?]

My friend, Monsieur —-, absolutely declines to append his name to these pages, of which he is the virtual author. Nevertheless, he permits me to publish them anonymously, being, indeed, a little curious to ascertain what would have been the public verdict as to his sanity, had he given his personal imprimatur to a narrative on the face of it so incredible.

“How!” he says. “Should I have believed it of another, when I have such astonishing difficulty at this date in realizing that it was I–yes, I, my friend–this same little callow poupon –that was an actual hero of the adventure? Fidele” (by which term we cover the identity of his wife)–“Fidele will laugh in my face sometimes, crying, ‘Not thou, little cabbage, nor yet thy faithful, was it that dived through half the world and came up breathless! No, no–I cannot believe it. We folk, so matter-of-fact and so comical. It was of Hansel and Gretel we had been reading hand-in-hand, till we fell asleep in the twilight and fancied this thing.’ And then she will trill like a bird at the thought of how solemn Herr Grabenstock, of the Hotel du Mont Blanc, would have stared and edged apart, had we truly recounted to him that which had befallen us between the rising and the setting of a sun. We go forth; it rains–my faith! as it will in the Chamounix valley–and we return in the evening sopped. Very natural. But, for a first cause of our wetting. Ah! there we must be fastidious of an explanation, or we shall find ourselves in peril of restraint.

“Now, write this for me, and believe it if you can. We are not in a conspiracy of imagination–I and the dear courageous.”

Therefore I do write it, speaking in the person of Monsieur —-, and largely from his dictation; and my friend shall amuse himself over the nature of its reception.

* * * * *

“One morning (it was in late May),” says Monsieur —-, “my Fidele and I left the Hotel du Mont Blanc for a ramble amongst the hills. We were a little adventurous, because we were innocent. We took no guide but our commonsense; and that served us very ill–or very well, according to the point of view. Ours was that of the birds, singing to the sky and careless of the snake in the grass so long as they can pipe their tune. Of a surety that is the only course. If one would make provision against every chance of accident, one must dematerialize. To die is the only way to secure oneself from fatality.

“Still, it is a wise precaution, I will admit, not to eat of all hedge fruit because blackberries are sweet. Some day, after the fiftieth stomach-ache, we shall learn wisdom, my Fidele and I.

“‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’ That, I know, comes into the English gospel.

“Well, I will tell you, I am content to be considered of the first; and my Fidele is assuredly of the second. Yet did she fear, or I rush in? On the contrary, I have a little laughing thought that it was the angel inveighed against the dulness of caution when the fool would have hesitated.

“Now, it was before the season of the Alps; and the mountain aubergistes were, for the most part, not arrived at their desolate hill-taverns. Nor were guides at all in evidence, being yet engaged, the sturdy souls, over their winter occupations. One, no doubt, we could have procured, had we wished it; but we did not. We would explore under the aegis of no cicerone but our curiosity. That was native to us, if the district was strange.