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VII. Alpenrosen and Goat's-Milk Henry van Dyke

Alpenrosen and Goat's-Milk

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Nay, let me tell you, there be many that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful like us; who, with the expense of a little money, have ate, and drank, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and slept securely; and rose next day, and cast away care, and sung, and laughed, and angled again; which are blessings rich men cannot purchase with all their money."--IZAAK WALTON: The Complete Angler.

A great deal of the pleasure of life lies in bringing together things which have no connection. That is the secret of humour--at least so we are told by the philosophers who explain the jests that other men have made--and in regard to travel, I am quite sure that it must be illogical in order to be entertaining. The more contrasts it contains, the better.

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Perhaps it was some philosophical reflection of this kind that brought me to the resolution, on a certain summer day, to make a little journey, as straight as possible, from the sea-level streets of Venice to the lonely, lofty summit of a Tyrolese mountain, called, for no earthly reason that I can discover, the Gross-Venediger. But apart from the philosophy of the matter, which I must confess to passing over very superficially at the time, there were other and more cogent reasons for wanting to go from Venice to the Big Venetian. It was the first of July, and the city on the sea was becoming tepid. A slumbrous haze brooded over canals and palaces and churches. It was difficult to keep one's conscience awake to Baedeker and a sense of moral obligation; Ruskin was impossible, and a picture-gallery was a penance. We floated lazily from one place to another, and decided that, after all, it was too warm to go in. The cries of the gondoliers, at the canal corners, grew more and more monotonous and dreamy. There was danger of our falling fast asleep and having to pay by the hour for a day's repose in a gondola. If it grew much warmer, we might be compelled to stay until the following winter in order to recover energy enough to get away. All the signs of the times pointed northward, to the mountains, where we should see glaciers and snow-fields, and pick Alpenrosen, and drink goat's milk fresh from the real goat.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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