Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

between two elevated points of land and crowned with forts, was in plain sight. It is a favorite naval station and summer bathing place. Our first experience in Genoa was not very pleasant. On the pretext that his best rooms were all occupied, our landlord put us all in the fourth story, to which, however, we did not particularly object, since our stay was to be short. His office was on the second floor, the lower story being set apart for shops. The dining-room and adjoining reading-room were a few steps above and at some distance from the office. With a few other guests we were all sitting quietly at supper in the dining-room, when suddenly a thick volume of smoke, white with heat, came pouring into the room through the reading - room door, which was open, and it was evident the house was on fire. Now came a race for our lives. Total strangers, it might have been difficult for us readily to find our way to the street even had the halls been lighted; but as soon as the alarm was given, the gas, to avoid explosion, was wisely turned off, and we had hardly more than left the dining-room before we found ourselves in total darkness, groping our way, as we supposed, toward the office as our nearest way out doors. Fortunately we came to a room where two frightened ladies had just lighted a candle, and they gladly joined us in our retreat to the office, which we finally reached in safety, but badly scared. A staircase led immediately from the office to the street, and we no longer feared for our lives. In the moment of doubt whether our lives might not be sacrificed, the thought of the loss of our luggage, all of which was in our room, had not the weight of a feather with us. But as soon as the first danger was over, and we

found by a cautious reconnoissance that we might venture to go to our room, we ascended hastily, seized the bulk of our things and as speedily made our way back with them, entirely out of breath. At the same time, Dr. Parker started on a similar errand; as he had not returned when we reached the office, Miss Parker urgently asked us to go to his assistance, but it was half a minute before we could recover our breath to answer. We then proceeded to comply with her request, when, meeting the Doctor coming down, we kept on again to our own room, which was filled with smoke, and secured the rest of our effects. Meantime the servants and others of the hotel had succeeded in subduing the flames by drenching the reading-room, to which the fire was confined, with water, carried in buckets and whatever other vessel was nearest at hand. Had this fire occurred after the inmates had retired to bed, it is more than probable that these “Sketches” never would have been written. As soon as things became a little settled, we all made up our minds to go to another hotel; for, seeing that the fire took from a furnace pipe between the floor and ceiling, we feared it might break out again. This determination did not suit the landlord, who now remembered that he could give us rooms, which he offered us, on a level with the dining room, and we concluded to remain. The next day we all took a good view of the city, going into the principal Cathedral and some other places of interest. There is a handsome monument to Columbus here, and many of the buildings are very elegant. The city is beautifully situated on a slope rising above the sea in a wide semi-circle," and its harbor is also in the form of a semi-circle, about

two miles wide, almost entirely inclosed by the land and a long pier on either side.

We left Genoa about eight o'clock on the morning of the 17th, and arrived at Turin at half past twelve. We spent the afternoon in another survey of portions of the city, embracing occasion to exchange what Italian money we had for gold. While in Italy we sold our gold at from six to eight per cent. for paper. Preferring to travel by the day line, we stopped over night in Turin. The ground here was covered with two or three inches of snow, and the weather was so cold that, although we had a good supply of wood, we found it almost impossible to keep from freezing in our rooms, and were only made comfortable by jugs of hot water in our beds. The rooms of the hotel appear to have been constructed to admit the cold in instead of excluding it; and the fireplaces are sunk as far into the wall as possible, allowing nearly all the heat to go up the chimney. Leaving at nine the next morning, we arrived at Geneva, by the way of the Mont Cenis Tunnel, at half past eight in the evening, happy to be so far toward home.

CHAPTER LVI.

15. capital of "La Belle France." We did not hasten hither, because we were comfortably situated at Geneva for recuperation, and we were advised that the season here, owing to almost constant rains, was very unpleasant. Nor, we are bound to say, had Geneva much to brag of in this respect, for during all the time we tarried there, from the 18th of February to the 11th of March, we saw very few fair days. One of these was availed of to visit Coppet, the residence of Madame de Staël, situated on Lake Leman, nine miles northeast of the city. Her house is quite palatial and all its surroundings are charming. Only some half dozen rooms are shown to visitors. In one of these is her portrait and others of her family; and the old furniture is also preserved, just as she left it at her death. Everybody, of course, knows that she was the daughter of Monsieur Necker, the distinguished French statesman, and that she was exiled and otherwise persecuted on account of her opposition to Napoleon Bonaparte. She, however, returned to Paris, where she died on the 11th of July, 1817; and, in accordance with her expressed desire, her remains were brought to Coppet and buried by the side of those of her father, to whom she was devotedly attached. Among her last words, she said to her daughter: “My father is waiting for me in the other world, and I shall soon go to him.” Two days before her death, she read and commented on Byron's "Manfred," then just published, and on the morning of her death she pointed to these passages:

[blocks in formation]

Before dismissing Geneva, we should not forget to say that this is a good place to get crystals, carved wood, and almost every kind of fancy articles; and Bruel, on rue des Allemands, who deals in these goods, is recommended to us by Mrs. Consul Upton as obliging and honest, and as having always dealt fairly with Americans. For watches, she referred us to Messrs. Patek and Philippe and Mr. Magnin. The Patek firm, she said, have been ever kind and attentive to Americans, rendering the most valuable services at all times.

As in traveling from Turin to Geneva, a long day's ride, we found it desirable to take the firstclass cars, so, in starting from Geneva at half past three in the afternoon, to travel all night to Paris, we chose the express train, in which only first-class cars are run. It rained when we started, and the night was raw and cold; but our compartment, warmed by hot water in long flat or partially oval vessels under our feet, was very comfortable. The water in these cylindrical brass or copper vessels, two of which reached across the car, was changed once or twice on the passage. We had it in contemplation to stop at Fontainebleau; but when we reached there about daylight, the weather was so wretchedly uninviting that we decided to go on, and it was half

« ÎnapoiContinuați »