One Expected To See The Locomotive Pause,
Or Slack Up A Little, And Approach This Plunge Cautiously,
But It Did Nothing Of The Kind; It Went Calmly On, And Went
It Reached The Jumping-Off Place It Made A Sudden Bow,
And Went Gliding Smoothly Downstairs, Untroubled By
It was wildly exhilarating to slide along the edge of
the precipices, after this grisly fashion, and look straight
down upon that far-off valley which I was describing a while ago.
There was no level ground at the Kaltbad station;
the railbed was as steep as a roof; I was curious
to see how the stop was going to be managed.
But it was very simple; the train came sliding down,
and when it reached the right spot it just stopped - that
was all there was "to it" - stopped on the steep incline,
and when the exchange of passengers and baggage had
been made, it moved off and went sliding down again.
The train can be stopped anywhere, at a moment's notice.
There was one curious effect, which I need not take the
trouble to describe - because I can scissor a description
of it out of the railway company's advertising pamphlet,
and save my ink:
"On the whole tour, particularly at the Descent, we undergo
an optical illusion which often seems to be incredible.
All the shrubs, fir trees, stables, houses, etc., seem to be bent
in a slanting direction, as by an immense pressure of air.
They are all standing awry, so much awry that the chalets
and cottages of the peasants seem to be tumbling down.
It is the consequence of the steep inclination of the line.
Those who are seated in the carriage do not observe that they
are doing down a declivity of twenty to twenty-five degrees
(their seats being adapted to this course of proceeding
and being bent down at their backs). They mistake their
carriage and its horizontal lines for a proper measure
of the normal plain, and therefore all the objects outside
which really are in a horizontal position must show a
disproportion of twenty to twenty-five degrees declivity,
in regard to the mountain."
By the time one reaches Kaltbad, he has acquired confidence
in the railway, and he now ceases to try to ease the
locomotive by holding back.
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