THE MEETING OF THE THREE PATRIOTS
 When Werner Stauffacher knocked at his friend's door,
Walter Fürst came out to greet him. "Ah, dear friend,"
he said, "it is good to see your face in these evil
days. Many times have I longed to talk with you of
"I, too, have longed to talk and ask advice," said
Stauffacher, as he went indoors.
Soon they were seated together, talking earnestly.
Werner told how, day by day, he had been saddened by
tales of cruelty and injustice, and how, at last, after
Gessler's visit, his wife, Gertrude, had persuaded him
 that the time had come when something must be done. And
so he had set out from home and had gone among the
people, trying to find out how they felt, and what they
would be willing to do. "Everywhere," he said, "I find
hatred of the Governors, hatred of the Austrians. We
should be doing right to set ourselves against the
tyrants. The people are ready to follow us, they need
but leaders. Let us bind ourselves secretly together,
then when we are strong enough we will rise and drive
the Austrians out of the land."
"Mistress Gertrude is a wise woman," said Walter, "she
is quite right. We cannot sit still and be crushed to
death by tyrants. If we must die, it is better, as she
says, to die fighting. I will do what I can among the
people of Uri, and you, Werner, go among the people of
Schwytz, and find out who will fight with us."
"That will I," replied Werner, "and Henri
 of Melchthal, I am sure, will help us in Unterwalden.
He is a great man——"
"Alas, have you not heard?" said Walter.
"He is not dead?"
"He is not dead, but he is blind and poor. Landenberg,
the Governor, has taken all his money and put out his
"Walter, Walter," cried Stauffacher, "how can you sit
still and calmly tell me this?"
"I sit still because I must," said Walter, "because
there seems no help, because Austria is powerful and we
are weak. But, oh! I do not sit calmly, Werner. My
blood boils when I think of it. The good old man, the
good old man!"
There was silence between them for a few minutes. Then
Walter spoke again and told Werner all that had
happened to Henri of Melchthal. "Arnold," he added, "is
hiding here. He often goes secretly to Unterwalden to
see his father and his friends, but he is now in the
 "Then he will join us," cried Stauffacher. "He is
young, but for his father's sake he will join us, and
he has many friends and relatives in Unterwalden. They
will join us too. Call him in, Walter."
So Arnold was called in, and when he heard what Werner
and Walter had to say, he was very glad. "You want to
fight the tyrants," he cried, "oh, who would help you
more gladly than I? I will do all in my power. I will
work night and day. If only we can drive them from the
land, I shall die happy."
Then calling upon God and His Saints to help them,
these three men, Walter Fürst from Uri, Werner
Stauffacher from Schwytz, and Arnold of Melchthal from
Unterwalden, swore a solemn oath together. They swore
to protect each other; never to betray each other; to
be true even to death. They swore, too, to be true to
the Empire, for the fight they meant to fight was
 Austria only, not against the Empire. They had no wish
to rob the Emperor of his just right over them. Their
one desire was to be free from Austrian tyranny.
The three agreed that each should go back to his own
land, and there secretly speak to the people and
persuade them to join in fighting for their old
"We must meet again," said Stauffacher, "but it will
not be safe for us to meet in any house."
"That is true," said Walter Fürst, "but I know of a
little meadow called the Rütli. It lies just above the lake
here. It is shut in by trees on every side. There we
could safely meet by night."
"I know it," said Arnold, "it is the very place."
"I shall find it," said Stauffacher.
"Cross the lake in your boat," said Arnold, "and we
will meet you on the shore and show you the way."
 "Then let us fix a night on which to meet again," said
"This is Wednesday," said Fürst, "in three weeks' time
at midnight; will that do?"
"Yes," replied Stauffacher, "that is the Wednesday
before Martinmas. That will do. In three weeks we have
time to find out who will help us."
"Farewell till then."
Stauffacher and Arnold went quietly out into the dark
night, and Walter Fürst stood long at the door looking
What would the end be? he asked himself. What if they
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics