Mother cried when I broke the news to her. Father, although shocked at first, looked at it from the practical side.
"You could die on the way. America is a dangerous place. Who knows what kind of person that Mister Wenger is? He could be an escaped prisoner or maybe he's left another wife and children behind."
"No, he's never been married. I've asked the priest and the schoolteacher. They both remembered him and knew him as a sincere if taciturn man. His entire family died of smallpox. That's why he left."
"Well, I guess a man who can afford more than two hundred Francs worth of tickets plus money for meals and accommodation, not to mention the passport and the solicitors, isn't
badly off." And Father gave me his blessing.
"Write to us, will you," Mother sobbed the day I left, handing me a picnic basket that could have fed an army. Father droveme to Aarau in our wagon. The priest, the teacher, Theres and her family and my family were seeing me off. When we drove away, I turned, waved and shouted, "So long!" which represented almost my entire English vocabulary.
"You could have done worse," Father whispered into my ear when he hugged me goodbye at the station.
Two days in a storm! How can anybody want to become a sailor? I've never felt so sick before. Maybe doing some English will distract me.
"Where are you from? I am from Switzerland. Does you - no - do you speak German? Speak
That sentence sounds strange. But then it's a strange language. Sometimes I think I'll never
learn it. The pronunciation is particularly difficult. Three days ago, when I was still able to
eat, I wanted to pay the steward a compliment. I said, "Fis foot ist rally dilicous," but he didn't understand me. Perhaps he doesn't speak English either?
(To be continued)