12. Airolo – Faido – The lack of money

The letters were mailed the next morning; but despite the heavy rain we prepared ourselves for the journey with the intention of marching to Bellinzona. Wrapped in my cloak, I had walked in front of my faithful Ziegenhainer in my right hand. Deep in thought, I had already passed the picturesque Bedretto Valley and the Stalvedro gorge, above which the ruins of an old marble tower of the Longobards (casa dei Pagani, Heidenhaus) rise, when I heard the voice of my traveling companion behind me, who called to me, that I should wait. As he approached, he told me that one of our black horseshoes was now hanging on a single nail, and that if it fell off, I would have to take it easy to look behind and pick it up. “Because,” he added, “a new horseshoe is expensive, and we don’t have much money anyway.” Walking behind a horse and staring at one of its hooves was not a pleasant business in itself. But then there was the rain, which was getting heavier and heavier, so that we got soaked through and through and almost completely ignored the magnificent waterfall of the Calcaccia, the traveling valley of the Leventina and the picturesque Dazio grande. To top it all off, we encountered an enormous herd of pitch-black Italian pigs with their long drooping ears, whose handler nodded to us with the most superfluous remark, “Bad weather today!” and passed by. Finally, the long-awaited fall of the horseshoe happened. I picked it up, thinking of the legend of Peter not bothering to pick up a horseshoe lying on the road. That made me think of our Gymnasium: “Now you might be sitting at Horace”, I thought, “in a nice, warm room and reading about foolish Tigellius, how he has three servants today and twenty tomorrow, how he will soon have his most trusted friend some foreign, powerful king, soon again plays the role of the modest, reclusive bourgeois. (Horace, Satires I, 3, 1-19).

With such thoughts we finally reached Faido. Since it seemed like the rain wouldn’t let up, we decided to spend the night there and wait for better weather. We first had our black horses shod and then hurriedly retired to our room; for there was no longer a dry thread on our clothes. The room was furnished in the Italian style. Inside was a large bed, as wide as it was long, and an extremely comfortable sofa made up of lots of pillows. To the right of the door was the fireplace that interested us the most now. We had a merry fire lit in it, placed two chairs near it, laid an alpenstock standing in the corner over their armrests and hung our soaked coats and skirts over them. No sooner had the heat reached them than thick steam rose from their clothes. We put on new wood and had the joy of seeing our clothes dry soon after this boring and dry drying business.

When we had restored ourselves, he had writing materials brought to me, wrote again in the name of my companion to my cousin in Milan, and reported to him the misfortune that had befallen us. For we believed that he was stationed in this city; But he was in Lodi and, as I found out later, always received our letters sometime later from the staff command of his regiment.