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BRITISH "CASTAWAYS.”

ANOTHER LETTER FROM LUCERNE. Wy Katharine A. Mkm.axu.]

No. m. Tho following letter was written before lhat entitled. •From Lncornc to London,’ which appeared in our column? on OctoIter 31, lint was d.layed on its way to Dunedin : When I last wrote we were stranded here in Lucerne, hoping to get-- away ns soon as trains could be tun. and, like everybody else, anxiously waiting for the money which we had telegraphed home for. hut of which we can hear nothing. Fortunately. Sw it Zetland. with her usual kindness and thonghtfulnuss for the stranger that is within her calcs, has announced a moratorium tor hotel bills for a term of tliMv weeks. That is to say. wo cannot be pressed for payment until tho expiration of that time. .Many people are without a qtenny. the destitute eases being chiefly of the .school teacher and typist class, who some time ago canto to tho end of their k sources. lint thanks to the British Government. who the other day voted and :cnt over £IO.OOO, the most distressful cascc are being attended to by the Relief Committee. There are fully 9.000 British Caveliers in Switzerland longing to got home, ami it is estimated that wo s!i;i!l requite 24 trains at least. It is to id that there am still. 25.000 American*, in Kutvpc. but of course tin' American Mini-ter is seeing to them. Some people are talking of trying to make ' » da ah fur hum:', and not waiting fur the Government special trains, and in order, to discourage this, winch i„ thought to he very unwise, a. notice was pi st-"l nv in the town to say that it was pos-sible, after a great many .•Langes t» r itrli Paris; but to get from that ckv to England the only way was by a email Iwat down the Seine, and then in liYirg .-mack over i lie Channel. Cost, £150! And even aifr leaching England one w< Yd have to wed;.

.•is tho trains w.'iv viali-r iho (ontinl . the British Government- v.itil.' mobilis itiv Was going cr:.

It is no tiro !> war new?, ns it would be fo vert* state by l!;c time this Tenches Now 7k a Dud ; but- on the Oth of August. who:’. {••onto of «.ur Imt-’l p,’"pb' Hoard the .-tins firing when they were up Fon.'ienbnr.'. we all f -lt that it. was com Ing very near. mid this was itist the beginning of a D"v’li’o i.;i»tb'. which we had boon ox|>’"t : .;_' On- day-. Tt, was known ih.it a. mill vi ami a-half of French and ftrrmanr. wev already t lose to the Swiss frontio”, and there a erned to bo iinoasiiKVß abroad rvirywh-.•«*. Although immense numbers of Sw ; « soldiers had already gone t<> find district. on that sari Sired .y I wat.ii-d two nv re huge mn- ?• •■■■: 1 s leave 1!.. 1 ■ by turin. Tint the eront halt! - '!■."■■:■ wr:.', and )ooflosettled down qu:V‘t!y oine mete, alibi tilth with a fi-elino of ■>!’. top of a powder iimtrT/in- ■. Amori;-; the T’.riG-h “ i a-‘■■ways," as the pa pots call is ,i small narty of Roy Scents an 1 llwir f--outii’a-otprs. I could not trot <.n the s{ sthnt when the troops wore going rtf. h’it aim;: with the natives of the plan' I watched through the iron fence. Just us the huge train was about to start, ? .ui’i-ihiug of importance had boon forirott-.'it, and a Swiss officer, Hindi pallid' d, fi;U't l d tn nice lip the platform. Seil’ nly a Tt nrii-’n Boy Scout scomod to :v I on ’ out of nowhere—a way thev have--and rprckly undertook the errand, whatever it was. Fvon on ordinary occasi’ino I often tinned into the railway station to two what was going on. as it was a diversion that cost no inonev, and several flies 1 saw fame of the Scouts bu-rilv 'iigaged in helping people with their l;i’ga:e, and quietly riving assistance wher-wer ! t "‘as needed. Opportunities for tlwr daily kind action* were certainly imt wanting. There is a Russian family staying in this hotel, who were enjoying their holidavs when war broke out. Th-nr home Is on the borders cf Russia and Onnany, and they have heard that the Russian soldiers took theT motor and their horse* and quartered tbemselvrs in the house. Now tlie German = have ruptured the village, and before ll’f'ing the Ruse an> tool; a wav everythin l .: out of th“ house. 1 hey expect now that their property has bee.it given to some German. Every few days one '•ernes, acnos sad instances of what this terrible 'vur is doing to perfect!\ peaceable people. To go back on our tracks—we were at fonimayeur when the storm burst. Tt is a pretty little village, with two or three pood hotels, ehanningly situated on the Italian aide of Mount Blanc, at the head of the far-famed Val d’Aosta. The scenerv all round it is very beautiful, such a wealth of magnificent snow-capped i mountains, rivers, waterfalls, glaciers, • and picturesque little villages. It Js 24 j miles from .\osia. but instead of the ■ old diligence there is now an automobile i service 'to and from that town. The I minute we enter'd the main street, of I Courmaveur I was vividly reminded of Pompeii, because it was so extremely | narrow, with only one gutter, and that j ii’i the centre of cite, street, while on j toiler side of the gutter, at the right j distance, ran smooth paved stones for j the wheels of conveyances, all else being rough. As the cumbersome automobile noisily made its way down this thorough- ! fare, there was a general scurry of all | foot passengers into the most convenient j shop doorways, for unb-ss they flattened ! themselves up a,palm the walls there ! would not be room for the motor to pro- I iced. Another iinmiao will show howl narrow this main street was. One even- I imp I threw a little bunch of faded wild- i (lowers from my bedroom window into i the street., as 1 thought, but was sur- : prised to find that they had alighted ; on the ridge of the house on the oppe- I site side from, our hotel! Another day two ; carta met opposite the hotel, and us this i seemed a Plight situation, we wondered 1 what would happen next. Suddenly one ; horse, with apparently accustomed calm ness, walked into a shop, dragging the i cart as far as possible after it. Fortu nately it was one of thorn shops which are all door, no glass window, and the goods ranged on counters round the walls. While dressing one morning wo were startled to see what looked like an immense bird sweeping across the valley, from high np the mountain*. On closer examination thin proved to he the hay crop from distant mountain farms bringing itself to civilisation. We had noticed immense lengths of stout wire cable; stretching from certain points high up in

the mountains down into the valley below, and could not quite make out for what purpose they were used. The huge bundles of hay hung by strong iron hooks to the cable, and slid down with a loud, roaring sound. While at Courmayour wo made tho ac quaintanco of a very charming Italian marchesa and her son. Mhe spoke some English, and was a great admirer of our fellow-countrymen, and asked if her so:; m ight go walks and play chess with our girls. He had not any English, so French wa# our language in common, and he proved a delightful companion, with a charming personality, quite grown-up, and with a wonderfully-developed character, considering he was only about 18. He was tall and well-made and handsome, but what struck ona more than anything was the spirituality and saintliness of him. When one ot tho girls was speaking to his mother about this she said ; *• He has always been like that—it is not my upbringing. Far back in our family" there was a saint, a very good man, and ray son is very like him in appearance,” adding “ Wncn ray son was born a dove flew past the window 1” The happiest day of our sadly-interrupted holidav was ona that the young marchese, the girls, and I spent amongst the magnificently grand mountains, glaciers, forests,'and rivers, while climbing up on to the Glacier do Miago, which is the largest in Europe. Some of us drove part of the way, and tho others walked the whole about sev4n hours there and back. As rumors of war between Austria and Bervia began to grow, the marchesa became very sorrowful, and finally, when war waa declared, and Germany threw in bar lot with Austria, her fit® was indeed

full. Naturally ah© believed Italy would bo dragged in, and she had one brother a captain in tho army, and another ambassador in Berlin, and her only chihi, tho marches© (for she had long been a widow) would probably b© called out to fight. It was touching to see the faith those foreigners at the hotel had in “ Sir Grey,” as they called our Foreign Minister, * and they comforted themselves with the thought that England's efforts in the i cans© of peace would be successful. But it was not to be, and as the.3.lst of July and the Ist of August wore on, Germans, , French, and Italians began to flee from tho hotel. The marches© had been so happy with the girls—ho had had no companions before—that when the war scire began and tho marcheaa said she must go to Turin to see her people, she said: “ But my sou is so happy here, I will leave him at the hotel, and will you see to hijn 7” [ promised that I would, and that he could go excursions with the girls, but although so sorry to leave Courtnayeur, ho refused to allow his mother to go alone, so off they both started on the Ist of August. Late that same evening, having heard that Austria, S’ervia, Russia, Germany, and franco had all declared war, and that 'ltaly was trembling in the balance, we : decided that we musk make a move for i England at once, if we wanted to reach I n.-jnte before this great European war i shut us up on the Continent. Although i must peopV* had gone to bed, w« found , the ,• •;••.>;<rh-or. art' Italian, and told him cut- hurriedly-formed plans, which were ,to start at daybreak, if possible, next mooting. He was most kind, sympathetic, . and helpful, and did hi? utmost that I :H •’> t i hire a earrings and ' a couple : of hors".<*. so that we and our luggage mirth' fi- driven to Aosta, four hours ii'-i v. on Sunday morning. However, ,oni ;V !o i ;>■’ rush of visitors from the ’■ ■ ■ ; l!-.-e, all vehicles were engaged, •I-i • a!! eeuts In the automobile ‘ and coach.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141114.2.15

Bibliographic details

BRITISH "CASTAWAYS.”, Issue 15650, 14 November 1914

Word Count
1,810

BRITISH "CASTAWAYS.” Issue 15650, 14 November 1914

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