The peasants were mighty kind and hearty, and flew around and did their best to make us comfortable. This morning I breakfasted on the shore in the open air with two sociable dogs and a cat. Clean cloth, napkin and table furniture, white sugar, a vast hunk of excellent butter, good bread, first class coffee with pure milk, fried fish just caught. Wonderful that so much cleanliness should come out of such a phenomenally dirty house.
An hour ago we saw the Falls of the Rhone, a prodigiously rough and dangerous looking place; shipped a little water but came to no harm. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of piloting and boat-management I ever saw. Our admiral knew his business.
We have had to run ashore for shelter every time it has rained heretofore, but Joseph has been putting in his odd time making a water- proof sun-bonnet for the boat, and now we sail along dry although we had many heavy showers this morning.
With a word of love to you all and particularly you, SAML.
ON THE RHONE, BELOW VIENNA. I salute you, my darling. Your telegram reached me in Lyons last night and was very pleasant news indeed.
I was up and shaved before 8 this morning, but we got delayed and didn't sail from Lyons till 10.3O--an hour and a half lost. And we've lost another hour--two of them, I guess--since, by an error. We came in sight of Vienne at 2 o'clock, several miles ahead, on a hill, and I proposed to walk down there and let the boat go ahead of us. So Joseph and I got out and struck through a willow swamp along a dim path, and by and by came out on the steep bank of a slough or inlet or something, and we followed that bank forever and ever trying to get around the head of that slough. Finally I noticed a twig standing up in the water, and by George it had a distinct and even vigorous quiver to it! I don't know when I have felt so much like a donkey. On an island! I wanted to drown somebody, but I hadn't anybody I could spare. However, after another long tramp we found a lonely native, and he had a scow and soon we were on the mainland--yes, and a blamed sight further from Vienne than we were when we started.
Notes--I make millions of them; and so I get no time to write to you. If you've got a pad there, please send it poste-restante to Avignon. I may not need it but I fear I shall.
I'm straining to reach St. Pierre de Boef, but it's going to be a close fit, I reckon.
AFLOAT, Friday, 3 p.m., '91. Livy darling, we sailed from St. Pierre de Boef six hours ago, and are now approaching Tournon, where we shall not stop, but go on and make Valence, a City Of 25,000 people. It's too delicious, floating with the swift current under the awning these superb sunshiny days in deep peace and quietness. Some of these curious old historical towns strangely persuade me, but it is so lovely afloat that I don't stop, but view them from the outside and sail on. We get abundance of grapes and peaches for next to nothing.
Joseph is perfect. He is at his very best--and never was better in his life. I guess he gets discouraged and feels disliked and in the way when he is lying around--but here he is perfection, and brim full of useful alacrities and helps and ingenuities.
When I woke up an hour ago and heard the clock strike 4, I said "I seem to have been asleep an immensely long time; I must have gone to bed mighty early; I wonder what time I did go to bed." And I got up and lit a candle and looked at my watch to see.
AFLOAT 2 HOURS BELOW BOURG ST. ANDEOL. Monday, 11 a.m., Sept. 28. Livy darling, I didn't write yesterday. We left La Voulte in a driving storm of cold rain--couldn't write in it--and at 1 p. m. when we were not thinking of stopping, we saw a picturesque and mighty ruin on a high hill back of a village, and I was seized with a desire to explore it; so we landed at once and set out with rubbers and umbrella, sending the boat ahead to St.