Rough Scan
May 190-
DEAR CHRISTINA, - We have landed at Swisserland safely. It was a long ride in the train from Milan, through an unjewlating country. What a space the hills takes up! And there's more of them here, and snow on the top of them yet. We came through a long tunnel called the Sang Gottar: it minded me of the Mong Snee Tunnel-you would scarcely have known the one from the other when once you were well inside.
Swisserland is the place where William Tell shot an apple off his son's head: a daft-like cantrip; he might have flattened the laddie's nose for life.
We are boarding in the Miss Farquharson's pongshong as per agreement, private sitting-room extry. It's a big house, and there is about twenty ladies and gentlemen in it (parteeclarly ladies), two boys, and a baby in arms, the latter being Americans, likewise their Poppa and their Momaw: that's what they call their Papaw and Mamaw. It's a peety they canna learn to speak right.
The Miss Farquharsons are tall and thin, very genteel-lookin', dressed in blacks-no' deep blacks, just second murnings, like: it'll be for the Miss Macgillvary that used to go out in the bath-chair, poor lady. I doubt they are from the West, for the drawers in my room are papered with a Glasgow Herald.
There's no' exackly a Cathedral here, and I dinna hear anything about picturs, so we just glower at the loch and the hills, and cry "beautiful!" "Change o' de'ils is lightsome."
There was a celebrated lion died here a while ago, and they've put up a bonny monument to him. It's a statute of the lion hisse]f when he was feelin' ill. Poor beastie: mebbe it was just as weel that he was taken away. If he was still livin' in the place, walkin' about seekin' whom he might devour, I ken fine he would have galravished me. I never can run when I'm frichted.
There's an Edinburgh faimly here that gets the Scotsman raiglar; their table is next to ours, so we hear all the news. Mrs Balcarres, the Mamaw, is the first down in the mornin', and she aye opens out the paper and starts on the deaths. She's a wee lady, with brown hair and bonny red cheeks, and when she spreads out the Scotsman ye canna see her ahint it. But you can hear her fine, and a terrible fricht she gave them all this very morning. "Oh, William!" sys she, reading away to hersel' all the time, "I'm awfully sorry-what a pity! and I saw him just the day before we left, at the corner of George Street; don't you remember? you were with me, only eighty-seven- 'in his eighty-eighth year, after a few days' illness----'" They were all cryin' "Who?" at once, but she never let on she heard them till she had finished what she was at; then she looked back, and, says she, "John Smith, in his eighty-eighth year, after a few-" "I never heard of him," says Mr Balcarres, disappointed-like. "He wasn't cut off in the flower of his youth," says the son - a tall, fair laddie, real fond of teasin' his Mamaw. "Who's dead?" cries the young lady; she's aye the last to come down, and never hears more nor balf the news. It turned out to be a gentleman that had been in the Scottish Counties Bank about fifteen year syne. None of them minded on him except Mrs Balcarres; but she's a kind-hearted lady, and she offers me a read of the paper every day.
There's no more news of importance, so I will now draw to a close. - Your affectionate old friend,
P.S. - Some things are cheap here: we got a pound of cherries for about 31/2d. yesterday, and the gardener kissed Miss Jean's hand and mine's for twopence. The way o't was as follows :- Miss Jean was admirin' a red flower in the garden, and she was keen to learn the name of it, so, when she saw the old gardener diggin' away near-hand, she went to ask him. Back he came and told her all about it, so she thanked him kindly and gave him twopence to hissel' for his trouble. He took off his hat (straw) and bowed down to the ground, and then be took her hand and kissed it as if she had been Victoria the Virtuous. Syne he looked at me and then at Miss Jean, as much as to say, "I'll kiss her too for the twopence if you like," and before I knew where I was he was liftin' my hand to his lips as respeckful as you please! Foreigners are no' blate, I'm thinkin'. - M.P.