[Simplon—Thursday, 9 September 1869]

Thursday. Sep 8th [sic]. We were up at ½ past 4, dressing by one candle (I had burned the other all night to keep the rats or something else quiet which began to run about as soon as it was dark) and at ½ past 5 breakfast was ready. I thought it was raining hard, for the clouds were black and thick and the sound of pattering water never ceased; but Jamie came in from a little tour of investigation quite cheerful to tell us it was only the waterfalls & thick fog, so at 6 o’clock we were off. We walked the first part of the way dreading the chilliness of the morning air and we were glad enough for we had scarcely been climbing a quarter of an hour when one of those celestial sights thrust upon our vision which are rarely accorded to mortals. We looked out of the world of cloud in which we stood and far up beyond all storm & tumult the white peaks rose shining in morning sunshine into the blue air. It was only for a short time; presently the clouds again rolled over and we trudged on. Through the ruins of flood and earthquake in that dreadful valley of the Rhone we came to Visp to dine. It was a little cracked inn (cracked by an earthquake of course) but clean where we took our dinner. The landlord a native of the place had been in Chicago Illinois and was most anxious to go back. Our only wonder was why he returned to the cracked Inn having once got away but his excuse was a good wife. (I was going to write “one” where I have written wife but as wife tells the story only in a shorted way it shall stand.) She was ill poor woman and I dare say homesick for I suppose women can be homesick even for Visp but now they would both be thankful to get away.

Again the vetturino cracked his whip and chirruped to his 7 horses (they had grown to seven and a postillion) and by this time they needed all the encouragement he could give them for they were tired enough and so thin and poor at best that I thought 7 more would scarcely bring them up to the work that 4 of our home horses in good care would accomplish. Before 4 o’clock we came to Sierre a little town situated among beautiful scenery and from the buildings one would say, anciently of some importance. Now it is chiefly distinguished as the terminus of the railway in the valley of the Rhone. Here we visited some time, our vetturino taking his leave in grand style with vast protestations of eternal regard. It was amusing enough sitting out of doors to watch the arrival of travellers just completing their Swiss tour. Some walking with every variety of bag and knapsack, some driving with more luxuries than were convenient, though I thought the chief mistake was on the other side and that travellers denied themselves many small comforts they might well have had. One party of English gentlemen thought their vetturino charged them too much and were bent on pushing matters to the furthest extreme, willing even to spend more money than the extra charge to defeat his nefarious attempts at swindles. After no end of disagreeable talk the tarif was sent for and the gentlemen were wrong. It was a pity they were not more sure of their ground before they began for they were vexed and gave the driver no buon mano which they should have done if the price of the carraige was a just one. We were soon off to Vevey where we slept that night.


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