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Title: A Voyage of Consolation - (being in the nature of a sequel to the experiences of 'An - American girl in London')
Author: Duncan, Sara Jeannette, 1862?-1922
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Voyage of Consolation - (being in the nature of a sequel to the experiences of 'An - American girl in London')" ***

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(http://www.archive.org/details/toronto), Suzanne Lybarger,

   VOYAGE OF CONSOLATION

   BOOKS BY MRS. EVERARD COTES
   (SARA JEANNETTE DUNCAN).

   UNIFORM EDITION.

          *       *       *       *       *

     A Voyage of Consolation.
     Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

     His Honour, and a Lady.
     Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

     The Story of Sonny Sahib.
     Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

     Vernon's Aunt.
     With many Illustrations. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

     A Daughter of To-Day.
     A Novel. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

     A Social Departure.
     HOW ORTHODOCIA AND I WENT ROUND THE WORLD BY OURSELVES.
     With 111 Illustrations by F.H. TOWNSEND. 12mo. Paper, 75
     cents; cloth, $1.75.

     An American Girl in London.
     With 80 Illustrations by F.H. TOWNSEND. 12mo. Paper, 75
     cents; cloth, $1.50.

     The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib.
     With 37 Illustrations by F.H. TOWNSEND. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

       *       *       *       *       *

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.

[Illustration: "Jamais!" (see Page 156.)]



A VOYAGE OF CONSOLATION

(BEING IN THE NATURE OF A SEQUEL TO THE EXPERIENCES OF "AN AMERICAN GIRL
IN LONDON")

BY

SARA JEANNETTE DUNCAN (MRS. EVERARD COTES)

AUTHOR OF

A SOCIAL DEPARTURE, AN AMERICAN GIRL IN LONDON, A DAUGHTER OF TO-DAY,
VERNON's AUNT, THE STORY OF SONNY SAHIB, HIS HONOUR AND A LADY, ETC.

[Illustration]

_ILLUSTRATED_


NEW YORK

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

1898

Copyright, 1897, 1898,

BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                      FACING
                                                        PAGE

   "Jamais!"                                    _Frontispiece_

   Momma was enjoying herself                            36

   "I expect you've seen these before"                   45

   Breakfast with Dicky Dod                              99

   "Are you paid to make faces?"                        140

   We followed the monks                                169

   Dicky shouted till the skeletons turned to listen    189

   We were sitting in a narrow balcony                  194

   "I'm not a crowned head!"                            208

   "Do you see?"                                        256

   Fervent apologies                                    265

   "Whom _are_ you going to marry?"                     322



A VOYAGE OF CONSOLATION.



CHAPTER I.


It seems inexcusable to remind the public that one has written a book.
Poppa says I ought not to feel that way about it--that he might just as
well be shy about referring to the baking soda that he himself
invented--but I do, and it is with every apology that I mention it. I
once had such a good time in England that I printed my experiences, and
at the very end of the volume it seemed necessary to admit that I was
engaged to Mr. Arthur Greenleaf Page, of Yale College, Connecticut. I
remember thinking this was indiscreet at the time, but I felt compelled
to bow to the requirements of fiction. I was my own heroine, and I had
to be disposed of. There seemed to be no alternative. I did not wish to
marry Mr. Mafferton, even for literary purposes, and Peter Corke's
suggestion, that I should cast myself overboard in mid-ocean at the mere
idea of living anywhere out of England for the future, was
autobiographically impossible even if I had felt so inclined. So I
committed the indiscretion. In order that the world might be assured
that my heroine married and lived happily ever afterwards, I took it
prematurely into my confidence regarding my intention. The thing that
occurred, as naturally and inevitably as the rain if you leave your
umbrella at home, was that within a fortnight after my return to Chicago
my engagement to Mr. Page terminated; and the even more painful
consequence is that I feel obliged on that account to refer to it again.

Even an American man has his lapses into unreasonableness. Arthur
especially encouraged the idea of my going to England on the ground that
it would be so formative. He said that to gaze upon the headsman's block
in the Tower was in itself a liberal education. As we sat together in
the drawing-room--momma and poppa always preferred the sitting-room when
Arthur was there--he used to gild all our future with the culture which
I should acquire by actual contact with the hoary traditions of Great
Britain. He advised me earnestly to disembark at Liverpool in a
receptive and appreciative, rather than a critical and antagonistic,
state of mind, to endeavour to assimilate all that was worth
assimilating over there, remembering that this might give me as much as
I wanted to do in the time. I remember he expressed himself rather
finely about the only proper attitude for Americans visiting England
being that of magnanimity, and about the claims of kinship, only once
removed, to our forbearance and affection. He put me on my guard, so to
speak, about only one thing, and that was spelling. American spelling,
he said, had become national, and attachment to it ranked next to
patriotism. Such words as "color," "program," "center," had obsolete
English forms which I could only acquire at the sacrifice of my
independence, and the surrender of my birthright to make such
improvements upon the common language as I thought desirable. And I know
that I was at some inconvenience to mention "color," "program," and
"center," in several of my letters just to assure Mr. Page that my
orthography was not in the least likely to be undermined.

Indeed, I took his advice at every point. I hope I do not presume in
asking you to remember that I did. I know I was receptive, even to penny
buns, and sometimes simply wild with appreciation. I found it as easy as
possible to subdue the critical spirit, even in connection with things
which I should never care to approve of. I shook hands with Lord
Mafferton without the slightest personal indignation with him for being
a peer, and remember thinking that if he had been a duke I should have
had just the same charity for him. Indeed, I was sorry, and am still
sorry, that during the four months I spent in England I didn't meet a
single duke. This is less surprising than it looks, as they are known to
be very scarce, and at least a quarter of a million Americans visit
Great Britain every year; but I should like to have known one or two. As
it was, four or five knights--knights are very thick--one baronet, Lord
Mafferton, one marquis--but we had no conversation--one colonel of
militia, one Lord Mayor, and a Horse Guard, rank unknown, comprise my
acquaintance with the aristocracy. A duke or so would have completed the
set. And the magnanimity which I would so willingly have stretched to
include a duke spread itself over other British institutions as amply as
Arthur could have wished. When I saw things in Hyde Park on Sunday that
I was compelled to find excuses for, I thought of the tyrant's iron
heel; and when I was obliged to overlook the superiorities of the titled
great, I reflected upon the difficulty of walking in iron heels without
inconveniencing a prostrate population. I should defy anybody to be more
magnanimous than I was.

As to the claims of kinship, only once removed, to our forbearance and
affection, I never so much as sat out a dance on a staircase with Oddie
Pratte without recognising them.

It seems almost incredible that Arthur should not have been gratified,
but the fact remains that he was not. Anyone could see, after the first
half hour, that he was not. During the first half hour it is, of course,
impossible to notice anything. We had sunk to the level of generalities
when I happened to mention Oddie.

"He had darker hair than you have, dear," I said, "and his eyes were
blue. Not sky blue, or china blue, but a kind of sea blue on a cloudy
day. He had rather good eyes," I added reminiscently.

"Had he?" said Arthur.

"But your noses," I went on reassuringly, "were not to be compared with
each other."

"Oh!" said Arthur.

"He _was_ so impulsive!" I couldn't help smiling a little at the
recollection. "But for that matter they all were."

"Impulsive?" asked Arthur.

"Yes. Ridiculously so. They thought as little of proposing as of asking
one to dance."

"Ah!" said Arthur.

"Of course, I never accepted any of them, even for a moment. But they
had such a way of taking things for granted. Why one man actually
thought I was engaged to him!"

"Really!" said Arthur. "May I inquire----"

"No, dear," I replied, "I think not. I couldn't tell anybody about
it--for his sake. It was all a silly mistake. Some of them," I added
thoughtfully, "were very stupid."

"Judging from the specimens that find their way over here," Arthur
remarked, "I should say there was plenty of room in their heads for
their brains."

Arthur was sitting on the other side of the fireplace, and by this time
his expression was aggressive. I thought his remark unnecessarily
caustic, but I did not challenge it.

"_Some_ of them were stupid," I repeated, "but they were nearly all
nice." And I went on to say that what Chicago people as a whole thought
about it I didn't know and I didn't care, but so far as _my_ experience
went the English were the loveliest nation in the world.

"A nation like a box of strawberries," Mr. Page suggested, "all the big
ones on top, all the little ones at the bottom."

"That doesn't matter to us," I replied cheerfully, "we never get any
further than the top. And you'll admit there's a great tendency for
little ones to shake down. It's only a question of time. They've had so
much time in England. You see the effects of it everywhere."

"Not at all. By no means. _Our_ little strawberries rise," he declared.

"Do they? Dear me, so they do! I suppose the American law of gravity is
different. In England they would certainly smile at that."

Arthur said nothing, but his whole bearing expressed a contempt for
puns.

"Of course," I said, "I mean the loveliest nation after Americans."

I thought he might have taken that for granted. Instead, he looked
incredulous and smiled, in an observing, superior way.

"Why do you say 'ahfter'?" he asked. His tone was sweetly acidulated.

"Why do you say 'affter'?" I replied simply.

"Because," he answered with quite unnecessary emphasis, "in the part of
the world I come from everybody says it. Because my mother has brought
me up to say it."

"Oh," I said, looking at the lamp, "they say it like that in other parts
of the world too. In Yorkshire--and such places. As far as _mothers_ go,
I must tell you that momma approves of my pronunciation. She likes it
better than anything else I have brought back with me--even my
tailor-mades--and thinks it wonderful that I should have acquired it in
the time."

"Don't you think you could remember a little of your good old American?
Doesn't it seem to come back to you?"

All the Wicks hate sarcasm, especially from those they love, and I
certainly had not outgrown my fondness for Mr. Page at this time.

"It all came back to me, my dear Arthur," I said, "the moment you opened
your lips!"

At that not only Mr. Page's features and his shirt front, but his whole
personality seemed to stiffen. He sat up and made an outward movement on
the seat of his chair which signified, "My hat and overcoat are in the
hall, and if you do not at once retract----"

"Rather than allow anything to issue from them which would imply that I
was not an American I would keep them closed for ever," he said.

"You needn't worry about that," I observed. "Nothing ever will. But I
don't know why we should _glory_ in talking through our noses."
Involuntarily I played with my engagement ring, slipping it up and
down, as I spoke.

Arthur rose with an expression of tolerant amusement--entirely
forced--and stood by the fireplace. He stood beside it, with his elbow
on the mantelpiece, not in front of it with his legs apart, and I
thought with a pang how much more graceful the American attitude was.

"Have you come back to tell us that we talk through our noses?" he
asked.

"I don't like being called an Anglomaniac," I replied, dropping my ring
from one finger to another. Fortunately I was sitting in a rocking
chair--the only one I had not been able to persuade momma to have taken
out of the drawing-room. The rock was a considerable relief to my
nerves.

"I knew that the cockneys on the other side were fond of inventing
fictions about what they are pleased to call the 'American accent,'"
continued Mr. Page, with a scorn which I felt in the very heels of my
shoes, "but I confess I thought you too patriotic to be taken in by
them."

"Taken in by them" was hard to bear, but I thought if I said nothing at
this point we might still have a peaceful evening. So I kept silence.

"Of course, I speak as a mere product of the American Constitution--a
common unit of the democracy," he went on, his sentences gathering wrath
as he rolled them out, "but if there were such a thing as an American
accent, I think I've lived long enough, and patrolled this little Union
of ours extensively enough, to hear it by this time. But it appears to
be necessary to reside four months in England, mixing freely with earls
and countesses, to detect it."

"Perhaps it is," I said, and I _may_ have smiled.

"I should hate to pay the price."

Mr. Page's tone distinctly expressed that the society of earls and
countesses would be, to him, contaminating.

Again I made no reply. I wanted the American accent to drop out of the
conversation, if possible, but Fate had willed it otherwise.

"I sai, y'know, awfly hard luck, you're havin' to settle down amongst
these barbarians again, bai Jove!"

I am not quite sure that it's a proper term for use in a book, but by
this time I was _mad_. There was criticism in my voice, and a distinct
chill as I said composedly, "You don't do it very well."

I did not look at him, I looked at the lamp, but there was that in the
air which convinced me that we had arrived at a crisis.

"I suppose not. I'm not a marquis, nor the end man at a minstrel show.
I'm only an American, like sixty million other Americans, and the
language of Abraham Lincoln is good enough for me. But I suppose I, like
the other sixty million, emit it through my nose!"

"I should be sorry to contradict you," I said.

Arthur folded his arms and gathered himself up until he appeared to
taper from his stem like a florist's bouquet, and all the upper part of
him was pink and trembling with emotion. Arthur may one day attain
corpulence; he is already well rounded.

"I need hardly say," he said majestically, "that when I did myself the
honour of proposing, I was under the impression that I had a suitable
larynx to offer you."

"You see I didn't know," I murmured, and by accident I dropped my
engagement ring, which rolled upon the carpet at his feet. He stooped
and picked it up.

"Shall I take this with me?" he asked, and I said "By all means."

That was all.

I gave ten minutes to reflection and to the possibility of Arthur's
coming back and pleading, on his knees, to be allowed to restore that
defective larynx. Then I went straight upstairs to the telephone and
rang up the Central office. When they replied "_Hello_," I said, in the
moderate and concentrated tone which we all use through telephones, "Can
you give me New York?"

Poppa was in New York, and in an emergency poppa and I always turn to
one another. There was a delay, during which I listened attentively,
with one eye closed--I believe it is the sign of an unbalanced intellect
to shut one eye when you use the telephone, but I needn't go into
that--and presently I got New York. In a few minutes more I was
accommodated with the Fifth Avenue Hotel.

"Mr. T.P. Wick, of Chicago," I demanded.

"_Is his room number Sixty-two?_"

That is the kind of mind which you usually find attached to the New York
end of a trans-American telephone. But one does not bandy words across a
thousand miles of country with a hotel clerk, so I merely responded:

"Very probably."

There was a pause, and then the still small voice came again.

"_Mr. Wick is in bed at present. Anything important?_"

I reflected that while I in Chicago was speaking to the hotel clerk at
half-past nine o'clock, the hotel clerk in New York was speaking to me
at eleven. This in itself was enough to make our conversation
disjointed.

"Yes," I responded, "it is important. Ask Mr. Wick to get out of bed."

Sufficient time elapsed to enable poppa to put on his clothes and come
down by the elevator, and then I heard:

"_Mr. Wick is now speaking_."

"Yes, poppa," I replied, "I guess you are. Your old American accent
comes singing across in a way that no member of your family would ever
mistake. But you needn't be stiff about it. Sorry to disturb you."

Poppa and I were often personal in our intercourse. I had not the
slightest hesitation in mentioning his American accent.

"_Hello, Mamie! Don't mention it. What's up? House on fire? Water pipes
burst? Strike in the kitchen? Sound the alarm--send for the
plumber--raise Gladys's wages and sack Marguerite_."

"My engagement to Mr. Page is broken. Do you get me? What do you
suggest?"

I heard a whistle, which I cannot express in italics, and then,
confidentially:

"_You don't say so! Bad break?_"

"Very," I responded firmly.

"_Any details of the disaster available? What?_"

"Not at present," I replied, for it would have been difficult to send
them by telephone.

I could hear poppa considering the matter at the other end. He coughed
once or twice and made some indistinct inquiries of the hotel clerk.
Then he called my attention again.

"_Hello!_" he said. "_On to me? All right. Go abroad. Always done.
Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, and the other places. I'll stand in.
Germanic sails Wednesdays. Start by night train to-morrow. Bring momma.
We can get Germanic in good shape and ten minutes to spare. Right?_"

"Right," I responded, and hung up the handle. I did not wish to keep
poppa out of bed any longer than was necessary, he was already up so
much later than I was. I turned away from the instrument to go down
stairs again, and there, immediately behind me, stood momma.

"Well, really!" I exclaimed. It did not occur to me that the privacy of
telephonic communication between Chicago and New York was not
inviolable. Besides, there are moments when one feels a little annoyed
with one's momma for having so lightly undertaken one's existence. This
was one of them. But I decided not to express it.

"I was only going to say," I remarked, "that if I had shrieked it would
have been your fault."

"I knew everything," said momma, "the minute I heard him shut the gate.
I came up immediately, and all this time, dear, you've been confiding in
us both. My dear daughter."

Momma carries about with her a well-spring of sentiment, which she did
not bequeath to me. In that respect I take almost entirely after my
other parent.

"Very well," I said, "then I won't have to do it again."

Her look of disappointment compelled me to speak with decision. "I know
what you would like at this juncture, momma. You'd like me to get down
on the floor and put my head in your lap and weep all over your new
brocade. That's what you'd really enjoy. But, under circumstances like
these, I never do things like that. Now the question is, can you get
ready to start for Europe to-morrow night, or have you a headache coming
on?"

Momma said that she expected Mrs. Judge Simmons to tea to-morrow
afternoon, that she hadn't been thinking of it, and that she was out of
nerve tincture. At least, these were her principal objections. I said,
on mature consideration, I didn't see why Mrs. Simmons shouldn't come to
tea, that there were twenty-four hours for all necessary thinking, and
that a gallon of nerve tincture, if required, could be at her disposal
in ten minutes.

"Being Protestants," I added, "I suppose a convent wouldn't be of any
use to us--what do you think?"

Momma thought she could go.

There was no need for hurry, and I attended to only one other matter
before I went to bed. That was a communication to the _Herald_, which I
sent off in plenty of time to appear in the morning. It was addressed to
the Society Editor, and ran as follows:

"The marriage arranged between Professor Arthur Greenleaf Page, of Yale
University, and Miss Mamie Wick, of 1453, Lakeside-avenue, Chicago, will
not take place. Mr. and Mrs. Wick, and Miss Wick, sail for Europe on
Wednesday by s.s. Germanic."

I reflected, as I closed my eyes, that Arthur was a regular reader of
the _Herald_.



CHAPTER II.


We met poppa on the Germanic gangway, his hat on the back of his head
and one finger in each of his waistcoat pockets, an attitude which, with
him, always betokens concern. The vessel was at that stage of departure
when the people who have been turned off are feeling injured that it
should have been done so soon, and apparently only the weight of poppa's
personality on its New York end kept the gangway out. As we drove up he
appeared to lift his little finger and three dishevelled navigators
darted upon the cab. They and we and our trunks swept up the gangway
together, which immediately closed behind us, under the direction of an
extremely irritated looking Chief Officer. We reunited as a family as
well as we could in connection with uncoiled ropes and ship discipline.
Then poppa, with his watch in his hand, exclaimed reproachfully, well in
hearing of the Chief Officer, "I gave you ten minutes and you _had_ ten
minutes. You stopped at Huyler's for candy, I'll lay my last depreciated
dollar on it."

My other parent looked guiltily at some oblong boxes tied up in white
paper with narrow red ribbon, which, innocently enough I consider,
enhance the value of life to us both. But she ignored the charge--momma
hates arguments.

"Dear me!" she said, as the space widened between us and the docks. "So
we are all going to Europe together this morning! I can hardly realise
it. Farewell America! How interesting life is."

"Yes," replied poppa. "And now I guess I'd better show you your cabins
before it gets any more interesting."

We had a calm evening, though nothing would induce momma to think so,
and at ten o'clock Senator J.P. Wick and I were still pacing the deck
talking business. The moon rose, and threw Arthur's shadow across our
conversation, but we looked at it with precision and it moved away. That
is one of poppa's most comforting characteristics, he would as soon open
his bosom to a shot-gun as to a confidence. He asked for details through
the telephone merely for bravado. As a matter of fact, if I had begun to
send them he would have rung off the connection and said it was an
accident. We dipped into politics, and I told the Senator that while I
considered his speech on the Silver Compromise a credit to the family on
the whole, I thought he had let himself out somewhat unnecessarily at
the expense of the British nation.

"We are always twisting a tail," I said reproachfully, "that does
nothing but wag at us."

This poppa reluctantly admitted with the usual reference to the Irish
vote. We both hoped sincerely that any English friends who saw that
speech, and paused to realise that the orator was a parent of mine,
would consider the number of Irish resident in Illinois, and the amount
of invective which their feelings require. Poppa doesn't really know
sometimes whether he is himself or a shillelagh, but whatever his
temporary political capacity he is never ungrateful. He went on to give
me the particulars of his interview with the President about the Chicago
Post Office, and then I gradually unfolded my intention of preparing our
foreign experiences as a family for publication in book form. While I
was unfolding it poppa eyed me askance.

"Is that usual?" he inquired.

"Very usual indeed," I replied.

"I mean--under the circumstances?"

"Under what circumstances?" I demanded boldly. I knew that nothing would
induce him to specify them.

"Oh, I only meant--it wasn't exactly my idea."

"What was your idea--exactly?" It was mean of me to put poppa to the
blush, but I had to define the situation.

"Oh," said he, with unlooked-for heroism, "I was basing my calculations
with reference to you on the distractions of change--Paris dry-goods,
rowing round Venice in gondolas, riding through the St. Gothard tunnel,
and the healing hand of time. I don't intend to give a day less than six
weeks to it. I'm looking forward to the tranquilising effect of the
antique some myself," he added, hedging. "I find these new self-risers
that we've undertaken to carry almost more than my temperament can
stand. They went up from an output of five hundred dollars to six
hundred and fifty thousand, and back again inside seven days last month.
I'm looking forward to examining something that hasn't moved for a
couple of thousand years with considerable pleasure."

"Poppa," said I, ignoring the self-risers, "if you were as particular
about the quality of your fiction as you are about the quality of your
table-butter, you would know that the best heroines never have recourse
to such measures now. They are simply obsolete. Except for my literary
intention, I should be ashamed to go to Europe at all--under the
circumstances. But that, you see, brings the situation up to date. I
transmit my European impressions through the prism of damaged affection.
Nothing could be more modern."

"I see," replied poppa, rubbing his chin searchingly, which is his
manner of expressing sagacious doubt. His beard descends from the lower
part of his chin in the long unfettered American manner, without which
it is impossible for _Punch_ to indicate a citizen of the United States.
When he positively disapproves he pulls it severely.

"But Europe's been done before, you know," he continued. "In fact, I
don't know any continent more popular than Europe with people that want
to publish books of travel. It's been done before."

"Never," I rejoined, "in connection with you, poppa!"

Poppa removed his hand from his chin.

"Oh, if I'm to assist, that's quite another anecdote," he said briskly.
"I didn't understand you intended to ring me in. Of course, I don't mean
to imply there is any special prejudice against books of travel in
Europe. About how many pages did you think of running it to?"

"My idea was three hundred," I replied.

"And how many words to a page?"

"Two hundred and fifty--more or less."

"That's seventy-five thousand words! Pretty big undertaking, if you look
at it in bulk."

"We shall have to rely upon momma," I remarked.

Poppa's expression disparaged the idea, and he began to feel round for
his beard.

"If I were you," he said, "I wouldn't place much dependence on momma.
She'll be able to give you a few hints on sunsets and a pointer or two
about the various Venuses, likely--she's had photographs of several of
them in the house for years--but I expect it's going to be a question of
historical fact pretty often, and momma won't be in it. Not that I want
to choke momma off," he continued, "but she will necessitate a whole
reference library. And in some parts of Europe I believe they charge you
for every pound of luggage, including your lunch, if you don't happen to
have concealed it in your person."

"We'll have to pin her down to the guide-books," I remarked.

"That depends. I've always understood that the guide-book market was
largely controlled by Mr. Murray and Mr. Baedeker. Also, that Mr. Murray
writes in a vein of pretty lofty sentiment, while Mr. Baedeker is about
as interesting as a directory. Now where the right emotion is included
at the price I don't see the use of momma, but when it's a question of
Baedeker we might turn her on. See?"

"Poppa," I replied with emotion, "you will both be invaluable. I will
bid you good-night. I believe the electric light burns all night long in
the smoking-cabin, but that is not supposed to indicate that gentlemen
are expected to stay there till dawn. I see you have two Havanas left.
That will be quite enough for one evening. Good-night, poppa."



CHAPTER III.


All the way across momma implored me to become reconciled to Arthur. In
extreme moments, when it was very choppy, she composed telegrams on
lines which were to drive him wild with contrition without compromising
my dignity; and when I suggested the difficulty of tampering with the
Atlantic cable in mid-ocean without a diving machine, she wept, hinting
that, if I were a true daughter of hers, things would never have come to
such a pass. My position, from a filial point of view, was most trying.
I could not deny my responsibility for momma's woes--she never left her
cabin--yet I was powerless to put an end to them. Young women in novels
have thrown themselves into the arms of the wrong man under far less
parental pressure, but although it was indeed the hour the man was not
available. Neither, such was the irony of circumstances, would our
immediate union have affected the motion in the slightest degree. But
although I presented these considerations to momma many times a day, she
adhered so persistently to the idea of promoting a happy reunion that I
was obliged to keep a very careful eye on the possibility of
surreptitious messages from Liverpool. Once on dry land, however, momma
saw her duty in another light. I might say that she swallowed her
principles with the first meal she really enjoyed, after which she
expressed her conviction that it was best to let the dead past bury its
dead, so long as the obsequies did not necessitate her immediate return
to America.

I was looking forward immensely to observing the Senator in London,
remembering the effect it had upon my own imagination, but on our
arrival he conducted himself in a manner which can only be described as
non-committal. He went about with his hands in his pockets, smoking
large cigars with an air of reserved criticism that vastly impressed the
waiters, acquiescing in strawberry jam for breakfast, for example, in a
manner which said that, although this might be to him a new and complex
custom, he was acquainted with Chicago ones much more recondite. His air
was superior, but modestly so, and if he said nothing you would never
suppose it was because he had nothing to say. He meant to give Great
Britain a chance before he pronounced anything distinctly unfavourable
even to her steaks, and in the meantime to remember what an up-to-date
American owes to his country's reputation in the hotels of a foreign
town.

He was very much at his ease, and I saw him looking at a couple of just
introduced Englishmen embarking in conversation, as if he wondered what
could possibly be the matter with them. I am sorry that I can't say as
much for my other parent, but before monarchical institutions momma
weakened. She had moments of terrible indecision as to how to do her
hair, and I am certain it was not a matter of indifference to her that
she should make a good impression upon the head butler. Also, she
hesitated about examining the mounted Guardsman on duty at Whitehall,
preferring to walk past with a casual glance, as if she were accustomed
to see things quite as wonderful every day at home, whereas nothing to
approach it has ever existed in America, except in the imagination of
Mr. Barnum, and he is dead. And shopwalkers patronised her. I
congratulated myself sometimes that I was there to assert her dignity.

I must be permitted to generalise in this way about our London
experiences because they only lasted a day and a half, and it is
impossible to get many particulars into that space. It was really a pity
we had so little time. Nothing would have been more interesting than to
bring momma into contact with the Poets' Corner, or introduce poppa to
the House of Lords, and watch the effect. I am sure, from what I know of
my parents, that the effect would have been crisp. But we decided that
six weeks was not too much to give to the Continent, also that an
opportunity, six weeks long, of absorbing Europe is not likely to occur
twice in the average American lifetime. We stayed over two or three
trains in London, however, just long enough to get in a background, as
it were, for our Continental experiences. The weather was typical, and
the background, from an artistic point of view, was perfect. While not
precisely opaque, you couldn't see through it anywhere.

When it became a question of how we were to put in the time, it seemed
to momma as if she would rather lie down than anything.

"You and your father, dear," she said, "might drive to St. Paul's, when
it stops raining. Have a good look at the dome and try to bring me back
the sound of the echo. It is said to be very weird. See that poppa
doesn't forget to take off his hat in the body of the church, but he
might put it on in the Whispering Gallery, where it is sure to be
draughty. And remember that the funeral coach of the Duke of Wellington
is down in the crypt, darling. You might bring me an impression of that.
I think I'll have a cup of chocolate and try to get a little sleep."

"Is it," asked poppa, "the coach which the Duke sent to represent him at
the other people's funerals, or the one in which he attended his own?"

"You can look that up," momma replied; "but my belief is that it was
presented to the Duke by a grateful nation after his demise. In which
case he couldn't possibly have used it more than once."

I looked at momma reprovingly, but, seeing that she had no suspicion of
being humorous, I said nothing. The Senator pushed out his under lip and
pulled his beard.

"I don't know about St. Paul's," he said; "wouldn't any other
impression do as well, momma? It doesn't seem to be just the weather for
crypts, and I don't suppose the hearse of a military man is going to
make the surroundings any more cheerful. Now, my idea is that when time
is limited you've got to let some things go. I'd let the historical go
every time. I'd let the instructive go--we can't drag around an idea of
the British Museum, for instance. I'd let ancient associations
go--unless you're particularly interested in the parties associated."

I thought of the morning I once spent picking up details, traditions,
and remains of Dr. Johnson in various parts of the West Central
district, and privately sympathised with this view, though I felt
compelled to look severe. Momma, who was now lying down, dissented.
What, then, she demanded, had we crossed the ocean for?

"Rather," said she, "where time is limited let us spread ourselves, so
to speak, over the area of culture available. This morning, for example,
you, husband, might ramble round the Tower and try to picture the
various tragedies that have been enacted there. You, daughter, might go
and bring us those impressions from St. Paul's, while I will content
myself with observing the manners of the British chambermaid. So far, I
must say, I think they are lovely. Thus, each doing what he can and she
can, we shall take back with us, as a family, more real benefit than we
could possibly obtain if we all derived it from the same source."

"No," said poppa firmly. "I take exception to your theory right there,
Augusta. Culture is a very harmless thing, and there's no reason why you
shouldn't take it in, till your back gives out, every day we're here.
But I consider that we've got the article in very good shape in our
little town over there in Illinois, and personally I don't propose to go
nosing round after it in Europe. And as a family man I should hate to be
divided up for any such purpose."

"Oh, if you're going to steel yourself against it, my love----"

"Now, what Bramley said to me the day before we sailed was this--No, I'm
not steeling myself against it; my every pore is open to it--Bramley
said: 'Your time is limited, you can't see everything. Very well. See
the unique. Keep that in mind,' he said; 'the unique. And you'll be
surprised to find how very little there is in the world, outside
Chicago, that is unique.'"


"Applying that rule," continued the Senator, strolling up and down, "the
things to see in London are the Crystal Palace and the Albert Memorial.
Especially the Albert Memorial. That was a man who played second fiddle
to his wife, and enjoyed it, all his life long; and there he sits in
Hyde Park to-day, I understand, still receiving the respectful homage of
the nation--the only case on record."

"Westminster Abbey would be much better _for_ you," said momma.

"Don't you think," I put in, "that if momma is to get any sleep----"

"Certainly. Now, another thing that Bramley said was, 'Look here,' he
said, 'remember the Unattainable Elsewhere--and get it. You're likely to
be in London. Now the Unattainable Elsewhere, for that town, is
gentlemen's suitings. For style, price, and quality of goods the London
tailor leads the known universe. Wick,' he said--he was terribly in
earnest--'if you have _one hour_ in London, leave your measure!'"

"In that case," said momma, sitting up and ascertaining the condition of
her hair, "you would like me to be with you, love."

Now, if momma doesn't like poppa's clothes, she always gives them away
without telling him. This would be thought arbitrary in England, and I
have certainly known the Senator suddenly reduced to great destitution
through it, but America is a free country, and there is no law to compel
us to see our male relations unbecomingly clad against our will.

"Well, to tell the truth, Augusta," said poppa, "I would. I'd like to
get this measure through by a unanimous vote. It will save complications
afterwards. But are you sure you wouldn't rather lie down?"

Momma replied to the effect that she wouldn't mind his going anywhere
else alone, but this was important. She put her gloves on as she spoke,
and her manner expressed that she was equal to any personal sacrifice
for the end in view.

Colonel Bramley had given the Senator a sartorial address of repute,
and presently the hansom drew up before it, in Piccadilly. We went about
as a family in one hansom for sociability.

"Look here, driver," said poppa through the roof, "have we got there?"

The cabman, in a dramatic and resentful manner, pointed out the number
with his whip.

"There's the address as was given to _me_, sir."

"Well, there's nothing to get mad about," said poppa sternly. "I'm
looking for Marcus Trippit, tailor and outfitter."

"It's all right, sir. All on the brass plite on the door, sir. I can see
it puffickly from 'ere."

The cabman seemed appeased, but his tone was still remonstrative.

We all looked at the door with the brass plate. It was flanked on one
side by the offices of a house agent, on the other by a superior looking
restaurant.

"There isn't the sign of a tailor about the premises," said poppa,
"except his name. I don't like the look of that."

"Perhaps," suggested momma, "it's his private address."

"Well, I guess we don't want to call on Marcus, especially as we've got
no proper introduction. Driver, that isn't Mr. Trippit's place of
business. It's his home."

We all craned up at the hole in the roof at once, like young birds, and
we all distinctly saw the driver smile.

"No, sir, I don't think 'e'd put it up like that that 'e was a tyler,
not on 'is privit residence, sir. I think you'll find the business
premises on the fust or second floor, likely."

"Where's his window?" the Senator demanded. "Where's his display? No, I
don't think Marcus will do for me. I'm not confiding enough. Now, _you_
don't happen to be able to recommend a tailor, do you?"

"Yes, sir, I can take you to a gentleman that'll turn you out as
'andsome as need be. Out 'Ampstead way, '_e_ is."

The Senator smiled. "About a three-and-sixpenny fare, eh?" he said.

"Yes, sir, all of that."

"I thought so. I don't mind the three and sixpence. You can't do much
driving where I come from under a dollar; but we've only got about
twenty-four hours for the British capital altogether, and I can't spare
the time."

"Suppose he drives along slowly," suggested momma.

"Just so. Drive along slowly until you come to a tailor that has a shop,
do you see? And a good-sized window, with waxwork figures in it to show
off the goods. Then let me hear from you again."

The man's expression changed to one of cheerfulness and benignity.
"Right you are, sir," he said, and shut down the door in a manner that
suggested entire appreciation of the circumstances.

"I think we can trust him," said poppa. Inside, therefore, we gave
ourselves up to enjoyment of what momma called the varied panorama
around us; while, outside, the cabman passed in critical review half the
gentleman's outfitters in London. It was momma who finally brought him
to a halt, and the establishment which inspired her with confidence and
emulation was inscribed in neat, white enamelled letters, _Court
Tailors_.

As we entered, a person of serious appearance came forward from the
rear, by no means eagerly or inquiringly, but with a grave step and a
great deal of deportment. I fancy he looked at momma and me with slight
surprise; then, with his hands calmly folded and his head a little on
one side, he gave his attention to the Senator. But it was momma who
broke the silence.

"We wish," said momma, "to look at gentlemen's suitings."

"Yes, madam, certainly. Is it for--for----" He hesitated in the
embarrassed way only affected in the very best class of establishments,
and I felt at ease at once as to the probable result.

"For this gentleman," said momma, with a wave of her hand.

The Senator, being indicated, acknowledged it. "Yes," he said, "I'm your
subject. But there's just one thing I want to say. I haven't got any use
for a Court suit, because where I live we haven't got any use for
Courts. My idea would be something aristocratic in quality but
democratic in cut--the sort of thing you would make up for a member of
Mr. Gladstone's family. Do I make myself clear?"

"Certainly, sir. Ordinary morning dress, sir, or is it evening dress, or
both? Will you kindly step this way, sir?"

"We will all step this way," said momma.

"It would be a morning coat and waistcoat then, sir, would it not? And
trousers of a different--somewhat lighter----"

"Well, no," the Senator replied. "Something I could wear around pretty
much all day."

My calm regard forbade the gentleman's outfitter to smile, even in the
back of his head.

"I think I understand, sir. Now, here is something that is being a good
deal worn just now. Beautiful finish."

"Nothing brownish, thank you," said momma, with decision.

"No, madam? Then perhaps you would prefer this, sir. More on the iron
gray, sir."

"That would certainly be more becoming," said momma. "And I like that
invisible line. But it's rather too woolly. I'm afraid it wouldn't keep
its appearance. What do you think, Mamie?"

"Oh, there's no _wool_liness, madam." The gentleman's outfitter's tone
implied that wool was the last thing he would care to have anything to
do with. "It's the nap. And as to the appearance of these goods"--he
smiled slightly--"well, we put our reputation on them, that's all. I
can't say more than that. But I have the same thing in a smooth finish,
if you would prefer it."

"I think I would prefer it. Wouldn't you, Mamie?"

The man brought the same thing in a smooth finish, and looked
interrogatively at poppa.

"Oh, I prefer it, too," said he, with a profound assumption of
intelligent interest. "Were you thinking of having the pants made of the
same material, Augusta?"

The gentleman's outfitter suddenly turned his back, and stood thus for
an instant struggling with something like a spasm. Knowing that if
there's one thing in the world momma hates it's the exhibition of
poppa's sense of humour, I walked to the door. When I came back they
were measuring the Senator.

"Will you have the American shoulder, sir? Most of our customers prefer
it."

"Well, no. The English shoulder would be more of a novelty on me. You
see I come from the United States myself."

"Do you indeed, sir?"

The manners of some tailors might be emulated in England.

"Tails are a little longer than they were, sir, and waistcoats cut a
trifle higher. Not more than half an inch in both cases, sir, but it
does make a difference. Now, with reference to the coat, sir; will you
have it finished with braid or not? Silk braid, of course, sir."

"Augusta?" demanded the Senator.

"Is braid _de nouveau_?" asked momma.

"Not precisely, madam, but the Prince certainly has worn it this season
while he didn't last."

"Do you refer to Wales?" asked poppa.

"Yes, sir. He's very generally mentioned simply as 'The Prince.' His
Royal Highness is very conservative, so to speak, about such things, so
when he takes up a style we generally count on its lasting at least
through one season. I can assure you, sir, the Prince has appeared in
braid. You needn't be afraid to order it."

"I think," put in momma, "that braid would make a very neat finish,
love."

Poppa walked slowly towards the door, considering the matter. With his
hand on the knob he turned round.

"No," he said, "I don't think that's reason enough for me. We're both
men in public positions, but I've got nothing in common with Wales. I'll
have a plain hem."



CHAPTER IV.


"If there's one thing I hate," said Senator Wick several times in the
discussion of our plans, "it's to see a citizen of the United States
going round advertising himself. If you analyse it, it's a mean thing to
do, for it's no more a virtue to be born American than a fault to be
born anything else. I'm proud of my nationality and my income is a
source of satisfaction to me, but I don't intend to brandish either of
them in the face of Europe."

It was this principle that had induced poppa to buy tourist tickets
second class by rail, first class by steamer, all through, like ordinary
English people on eight or nine hundred a year. Momma and I thought it
rather noble of him and resolved to live up to it if possible, but when
he brought forth a large packet of hotel coupons, guaranteed to produce
everything, including the deepest respect of the proprietors, at ten
shillings and sixpence a day apiece, we thought he was making an
unnecessary sacrifice to the feelings of the non-American travelling
public.

"Two dollars and a half a day!" momma ejaculated. "Were there no more
expensive ones?"

"If there had been," poppa confessed, "I would have taken them. But
these were the best they had. And I understand it's a popular, sensible
way of travelling. I told the young man that the one thing we wished to
avoid was ostentation, and he said that these coupons would be a
complete protection."

"There must be _some_ way of paying more," said momma pathetically,
looking at the paper books of tickets, held together by a quantity of
little holes. "Do they actually include everything?"

"Even wine, I understand, where it is the custom of the hotel to provide
it without extra charge, and in Switzerland honey with your breakfast,"
the Senator responded firmly. "I never made a more interesting purchase.
There before us lie our beds, breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, lights,
and attendance for the next six weeks."

"It is full of the most dramatic possibilities," I remarked, looking at
the packet.

"It seems to me a kind of attempt to coerce Providence," said momma, "as
much as to say, 'Whatever happens to the world, I am determined to have
my bed, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, lights, and attendance for six
weeks to come.' Is it not presumptuous?"

"It's very reasonable," said the Senator, "and that's the principal
thing you've got against it, Augusta. It's remarkably, pictorially
cheap." The Senator put the little books in their detachable cover,
snapped the elastic round them and restored the whole to his inside
pocket.

"You might almost say enjoyably cheap, if you know what I mean. The
inexpensiveness of Europe," he continued, "is going to be a great charm
for me. I intend to revel in it."

I am always discovering points about poppa the existence of which I had
not suspected. His appreciation of the joy of small prices had been
concealed in him up to this date, and I congratulated him warmly upon
its appearance. I believe it is inherent in primitive tribes and in all
Englishmen, but protective tariffs and other influences are rapidly
eradicating it in Americans, who should be condoled with on this point,
more than they usually are.

We were on our way to Paris after a miraculous escape of the Channel. So
calm it was that we had almost held our breaths in our anxiety lest the
wind should rise before we got over. Dieppe lay behind us, and momma at
the window declared that she could hardly believe she was looking out at
Normandy. Momma at the window was enjoying herself immensely in the
midst of Liberty silk travelling cushions, supported by her
smelling-bottle, and engaged apparently in the realisation of
long-cherished dreams.

"There they are in a row!" she exclaimed. "How lovely to see them
standing up in that stiff, unnatural way just as they do in the
pictures."

Poppa and I rushed raptly to the window, but discovered nothing
remarkable.

"To see what, Augusta?" demanded he.

"The Normandy poplars, love. Aren't you awfully disappointed in them?
I am. So wooden!"

[Illustration: Momma was enjoying herself.]

Poppa said he didn't know that he had been relying much on the poplar
feature of the scenery, and returned to his weary search for American
telegrams in a London daily paper.

"Dear me," momma ejaculated, "I _never_ supposed I should see them doing
it! And right along the line of the railway, too!"

"See them doing it!" I repeated, searching the landscape.

"The women working in the fields, darling love. Garnering the grain, all
in that nice moderate shade of blue-electric, shouldn't you call it?
There--there's another! No, you can't see her now. France _is_
fascinating!"

Poppa abruptly folded the newspaper. "I've learnt a great deal more than
I wanted to know about Madagascar," said he, "and I understand that
there's a likelihood of the London voter being called to arms to prevent
High Church trustees introducing candles and incense into the opening
exercises of the public schools. I've read eleven different accounts of
a battle in Korea, and an article on the fauna and flora of Beluchistan,
very well written. And I see it's stated, on good authority, that the
Queen drove out yesterday accompanied by the Princess Beatrice. I don't
know that I ever got more information for two cents in my life. But for
news--Great Scott! I _know_ more news than there is in that paper! The
editor ought to be invited to come over and discover America."

"Here's something about America," I protested, "from Chicago, too. A
whole column--'Movements of Cereals.'"

"Yes, and look at that for a nice attractive headline," responded the
Senator with sarcasm. "'Movements of Cereals!' Gives you a great idea of
pace, doesn't it? Why couldn't they have called it 'Grain on the Go'?"

"Did Mr. McConnell get in for Mayor, or Jimmy Fagan?" I inquired,
looking down the column.

"They don't seem to have asked anybody."

"And who got the Post Office?"

"Not there, not there, my child!"

"Oh!" said momma at the window, "these little gray-stone villages are
too sweet for words. Why talk of Chicago? Mr. McConnell and Mr. Fagan
are all very well at home, but now that the ocean heaves between us, and
your political campaign is over, may we not forget them?"

"Forget Mike McConnell and Jimmy Fagan!" replied the Senator, regarding
a passing church spire with an absent smile. "Well, no, Augusta; as far
as I'm concerned I'm afraid it couldn't be done--at all permanently.
There's too much involved. But I see what you mean about turning the
mind out to pasture when the grazing is interesting--getting in a cud,
so to speak, for reflection afterwards. I see your idea."

The Senator is always business-like. He immediately addressed himself
through the other window to the appreciation of the scenery, and I felt,
as I took out my note-book to record one or two impressions, that he
would do it justice.

"No, momma," I was immediately compelled to exclaim, "you mustn't look
over my shoulder. It is paralysing to the imagination."

"Then I won't, dear. But oh, if you could only describe it as it is! The
ruined chateaux, tree-embosomed----" Momma paused.

"The gray church spires, from which at eventide the Angelus comes
pealing--or stealing," she continued. "Perhaps 'stealing' is better."

"Above all the poplars--the poplars are very characteristic, dear. And
the women toilers in the sunset fields garnering up the golden grain.
You might exclaim, 'Why are they always in blue?' Have you got that
down?"

"They were making hay," poppa corrected. "But I suppose the public won't
know the difference, any more than you did."

Momma leaned forward, clasping her smelling-bottle, and looked out of
the window with a smile of exaltation.

"The cows," she went on, "the proud-legged Norman cows standing
knee-deep in the quiet pools. Have you got the cows down, dear?"

The Senator, at the other window, looked across disparagingly, hard at
work on his beard. He said nothing, but after a time abruptly thrust his
hands in his pockets, and his feet out in front of him in a manner which
expressed absolute dissent. When momma said she thought she would try to
get a little sleep he looked round observantly, and as soon as her
slumber was sound and comfortable he beckoned to me.

"See here," he said, not unkindly, argumentatively. "About those cows.
In fact, about all these pointers your mother's been giving you. They're
all very nice and poetic--I don't want to run down momma's ideas--but
they don't strike me as original. I won't say I could put my finger on
it, but I'm perfectly certain I've heard of the poplars and the women
field labourers of Normandy somewhere before. She doesn't do it on
purpose"--the Senator inclined his head with deprecation toward the
sleeping form opposite, and lowered his voice--"and I don't know that
I'd mention it to you under any other circumstances, but momma's a
fearful plagiarist. She doesn't hesitate anywhere. I've known her do it
to William Shakespeare and the Book of Job, let alone modern authors. In
dealing with her suggestions you want to be very careful. Otherwise
momma'll get you into trouble."

I nodded with affectionate consideration. "I'll make a note of what you
say, Senator," I replied, and immediately, from motives of delicacy, we
changed the subject. As we talked, poppa told me in confidence how much
he expected of the democratic idea in Paris. He said that even the
short time we had spent in England was enough to enable him to detect
the subserviency of the lower classes there and to resent it, as a man
and a brother. He spoke sadly and somewhat bitterly of the manners of
the brother man who shaved him, which he found unjustifiably affable,
and of the inexcusable abasement of a British railway porter if you gave
him a shilling. He said he was glad to leave England, it was
demoralising to live there; you lost your sense of the dignity of
labour, and in the course of time you were almost bound to degenerate
into a swell. He expressed a good deal of sympathy with the aristocracy
on this account, concentrating his indignation upon those who, as it
were, made aristocrats of innocent human beings against their will. It
was more than he would have ventured to say in public, but in talking to
me poppa often mentions what a comfort it is to be his own mouthpiece.

"The best thing about these tourists' tickets is," said the Senator as
we approached Paris, "that they entitle you to the use of an
interpreter. He is said to be found on all station platforms of
importance, and I presume he's standing there waiting for us now. I take
it we're at liberty to tap his knowledge of the language in any moment
of difficulty just as if it were our own."

Ten minutes later the carriage doors were opening upon Paris, and the
Senator's eagle eye was searching the crowded platform for this
official. Our vague idea was that the interpreter would be a conspicuous
and permanent object like a nickle-in-the-slot machine, automatically
arranged to open his arms to tourists presenting the right tickets, and
emit conversation. When we finally detected him, by his cap, he was
shifting uneasily in the midst of a crowd of inquirers. His face was
pale, his beard pointed, his expression that of a person constantly
interrupted in many languages. The crowd was parting to permit him to
escape, when we filled up the available avenue and confronted him.

"Are you the linguist that goes with our tickets?" asked the Senator.

"I am ze interpretare yes, but weez ze tickets I go not, no. All-ways I
stay here in zis place, nowheres I go." He stood at bay, so to speak,
frowning fiercely as he replied, and then made another bolt for liberty,
but poppa laid a compelling hand upon his arm.

"If it's all the same to you," said poppa, firmly, "I've got ladies with
me, and----"

"Yes certainly you get presently your tronks. You see zat door beside
many people? Immediately it open you go and show ze customs man. You got
no duty thing, it is all right. You call one fiacre--carriage--and go at
your hotel."

"Oh," exclaimed momma, "is there any charge on nerve tincture, please?
It's _entirely_ for my personal use."

"It's _only_ on cigars and eau-de-Cologne, isn't it?" I entreated.

"Which door did you say?" asked the Senator. "I'd be obliged if you
would speak more slowly. There's no cause for excitement. From here I
can see fourteen doors, and I saw our luggage go in by _this_ door."

"You don't believe wat I say! Very well! All ze same it is zat door
beside all ze people wat want zere tronks!"

"All right," said the Senator pacifically. "How you do boil over! I tell
you one thing, my friend," he added, as the interpreter washed his hands
of us, "you may be a necessity to the travelling public, but you're not
a luxury, in any sense of the word."



CHAPTER V.


The Senator, discovering to his surprise that the hotel clerk was a
lady, lifted his hat. He did not appear to be surprised, that wasn't the
Senator's way, but he forgot what he had to say, which proved it. While
he was hesitating she looked at him humorously and said "Good evening,
sir!" She was a florid person who wore this sense of humour between hard
blue eyes and an iron jaw. Momma took a passionate dislike to her on the
spot.

"Oh, then you do," said poppa. "You parlay Anglay. That's a good thing
I'm sure, for I know mighty little Fransay. May I ask what sort of
accommodation you can give Mrs. Wick, Miss Wick, and myself for
to-night? Anything on the first floor?"

"What rooms you require are one double one single, yes? Certainly.
Francois, _trente-cinq et trente-huit_." She handed Francois the keys
and her sense of humour disappeared in a smile which told poppa that he
might, if he liked, consider her a fine woman. He, wishing doubtless to
bask in it to the fullest extent, produced his book of tickets.

"I expect you've seen these before," he said, apparently for the
pleasure of continuing the conversation.

[Illustration: "I expect you've seen these before."]

As her eye fell upon them a look of startled cynicism suddenly replaced
the smile. Her cynicism was paradoxical, she was so large, and sound and
wholesome, and the more irritating on this account.

"You 'ave the coupons!" she exclaimed. "Ah-a-ah!" in a crescendo of
astonishment at our duplicity. "Then I 'ave made one mistake. Francois!
Those first floor rooms they are already taken. But on the third floor
are two good beautiful rooms. There is also the lift--you can use the
lift."

"I can't dispute with a lady," said poppa, "but that is singular. I
should prefer those first floor rooms which were not taken until I
mentioned the coupons."

"Sare!"

The lady's eye was unflinching, and poppa quailed. He looked ashamed, as
if he had been caught in telling a story. They made a picture, as he
stood there pulling his beard, of American chivalry and Gallic guile,
which was almost pathetic.

"Well," said he, "as it's necessary that Mrs. Wick should lie down as
soon as possible you might show us those third floor rooms."

Then he recovered his dignity and glanced at Madame more in sorrow than
in anger. "Certainly, sare," she said severely. "Will you use the lift?
For the lift there is no sharge."

"That," said the Senator, "is real liberal." In moments of emotion
poppa often dropped into an Americanism. "If it's a serious offer I
think we _will_ use the lift."

At a nod from Madame, Francois went away to seek the man belonging to
the lift, and after a time returned with him. The lady produced another
key, with which the man belonging to the lift unlocked the door of the
brass cage which guarded it.

"You must find strangers very dishonest, madam," said the Senator
courteously as we stepped inside, "to render such a precaution
necessary."

But before we arrived at the third floor we were convinced that it was
unnecessary. It was not an elevator that the most burglarious would have
cared to take away.

So many Americans surrounded the breakfast table next morning that we
might almost have imagined ourselves in Chicago. A small, young priest
with furtive brown eyes cowered at one of the side tables, and at
another a broad-shouldered, unsmiling lady, dressed in black, with brows
and a slight moustache to match, dispensed food to a sallow and
shrinking object of preternaturally serious aspect who seemed to be her
husband, and a little boy who kept an anxious eye on them both. They
were French, too, but all the people who sat up and down the long middle
table belonged to the United States of America. They were there in
groups and in families representing different localities and different
social positions--as momma said, you had only to look at their shoulder
seams; and each group or family received the advances of the next with
the polite tolerance, head a little on one side, which characterises us
when we don't know each other's business standing or church membership;
but the tide of conversation which ebbed and flowed had a flavour which
made the table a geographical unit. I say "flavour," because there was
certainly something, but I am now inclined to think with Mr. Page that
"accent" is rather too strong a word to describe it. At all events, the
gratification of hearing it after his temporary exile in Great Britain
almost brought tears to the Senator's eyes. There were only three vacant
places, and, as we took them, making the national circle complete, a
little smile wavered round the table. It was a proud, conscious smile;
it indicated that though we might not be on terms of intimacy we
recognised ourselves to be immensely and uniformly American, and
considerably the biggest fraction of the travelling public. As poppa
said, the prevailing feeling was also American. As he was tucking his
napkin into his waistcoat, and ordering our various breakfasts, the
gentleman who sat next to him listened--he could not help it--fidgetted,
and finally, with some embarrassment, spoke.

"I don't know, sir," he said, "whether you're aware of it--I presume
you're a stranger, like myself--but all they _allow_ for what they call
breakfast in this hotel is tea or coffee, rolls, and butter; everything
else is charged extra."

Poppa was touched. As he said to me afterward, who but an American
would have taken the trouble to tell a stranger a thing like that! Not
an Englishman, certainly--he would see you bankrupt first! He disguised
his own sophistication, and said he was very much obliged, and he almost
apologised for not being able to take advantage of the information, and
stick to coffee and rolls.

"But the fact is," he said in self-defence, "we may get back for lunch
and we may not."

"That's all right," the gentleman replied with distinct relief. "I
didn't mind the omelette or the sole, but when it came to fried chicken
and strawberries I just had to speak out. You going to make a long stay
in Paris?"

As they launched to conversation momma and I glanced at each other with
mutual congratulation. It was at last obvious that the Senator was going
to enjoy his European experiences; we had been a little doubtful about
it. Left to ourselves, we discussed our breakfast and the waiters, the
only French people we could see from where we sat, and expressed our
annoyance, which was great, at being offered tooth-picks. I was so
hungry that it was only when I asked for a third large roll that I
noticed momma regarding me with mild disapproval.

"I fear," she said with a little sigh, "that you are thinking very
little of what is past and gone, love."

"Momma," I replied, "don't spoil my breakfast." When momma can throw an
emotional chill over anything, I never knew her to refrain. "I _should_
like that _garçon_ to bring me some more bread," I continued.

Momma sighed even more deeply. "You may have part of mine," she replied,
breaking it with a gesture that said such callousness she could not
understand. Her manner for the next few minutes expressed distinctly
that she, at least, meant to do her duty by Arthur.

Presently from the other side of poppa came the words, "_Not_ Wick of
Chicago!"

"I guess I can't deny it," said poppa.

"Senator Wick?"

Poppa lowered his voice. "If it's all the same to you," he said, "not
for the present. Just plain Joshua P. Wick. I'm not what you call
travelling incognito, do you see, but, so far as the U.S. Senate is
concerned, I haven't got it with me."

"Well, sir, I won't mention it again. But all the same, if I may be
allowed to say so, I am pleased to meet you, sir--very pleased. I
suppose they wired you that Mike McConnell's got the Post Office."

Poppa held out his hand in an instant of speechless gratitude. "Sir," he
said, "they did not. Put it there. I said no wires and no letters, and
I've been sorry for it ever since. Momma," he continued, "daughter,
allow me to present to you Mr.?--Mr. Malt, who has heard by cablegram
that our friend Mr. McConnell is Postmaster-General of Chicago."

Momma was grateful, too, though she expressed it somewhat more
distantly. Momma has a great deal of manner with strangers; it sometimes
completely disguises her real feeling toward them. I was also grateful,
though I merely bowed, and kicked the Senator under the table. Nobody
would have guessed from our outward bearing the extent to which our
political fortunes, as a family, were mixed up with Mike McConnell's.
Mr. Malt immediately said that if there was anything else he could do
for us he was at our service.

"Well," said poppa, "I suppose there's a good deal of intrinsic interest
in this town--relics of Napoleon, the Bon Marché, and so on--and we've
got to see it. I must say," he added, turning to momma, "I feel
considerably more equal to it now."

"It will take you a good long week," said Mr. Malt earnestly, "to begin
to have an idea of it. You might spend two whole days in the Louvre
itself. Is your time limited?"

"I don't need to tell any American the market value of it," said poppa
smiling.

"Then you can't do better than go straight to the Louvre. I'd be pleased
to accompany you, only I've got to go round and see our Ambassador--I've
got a little business with him. I daresay you know that one of our
man-of-war ships is lying right down here in the Seine river. Well, the
captain is giving a reception to-morrow in honour of the Russian Admiral
who happens to be there, too. I've got ladies with me and I wrote for
four tickets. Did I get the four tickets--or two of them--or one? No,
sir, I got a letter in the third person singular saying it wasn't a
public entertainment! I wrote back to say I guessed it was an American
entertainment, and he could expect me, all the same. He hadn't any sort
of excuse--my name and business address were on my letter paper. Now I'm
just going round to see what a United States Ambassador's for, in this
connection."

Mr. Malt rose and the waiter withdrew his chair. "Thank you, _garçon_,"
said he. "I'm coming back again--do you understand? This is not my last
meal," and the waiter bowed as if that were a statement which had to be
acknowledged, but was of the least possible consequence to him
personally. "Well, Mr. Wick," continued Mr. Malt, brushing the crumbs
from his waistcoat, "I'll say good morning, and to your ladies also. I'm
very pleased to have met you."

"Well," said momma, as he disappeared, "if every American in Paris has
decided to go to that reception there won't be much room for the
Russians."

"I suppose he's a voter and a tax-payer, and he's got his feelings,"
replied poppa. The Senator would defend a voter and a tax-payer against
any imputation not actually criminal.

"I'm glad I'm not one of his lady-friends," momma continued. "I don't
think I _could_ make myself at home on that man-of-war under the
circumstances. But I daresay he'll drag them there with him. He seems to
be just that kind of a man."

"He's a very patriotic kind of a man," replied the Senator. "It's his
patriotism, don't you see, that's giving him all this trouble. It's been
outraged. Personally I consider Mr. Malt a very intelligent gentleman,
and if he'd given me an opening as big as the eye of a needle I'm the
camel that would have gone with him, Augusta."

This statement of the Senator's struck me as something to be acted upon.
If there was to be a constant possibility of his going off with any
chance American in regular communication with the United States, our
European tour would be a good deal less interesting than I had been led
to expect. While momma was getting ready for the Louvre, therefore, I
stepped down to the office and wired our itinerary to his partner in
Chicago. "Keep up daily communication by wire in detail," I telegraphed,
"forward copies all important letters care Peters." Peters was the
tourist agent who had undertaken to bless our comings and goings. I said
nothing whatever to poppa, but I felt a glow of conscious triumph when I
thought of Mr. Malt.

We stood and realised Paris on the pavement while the fiacre turned in
from the road and drew up for us. I had every intention of being
fascinated and so had momma. We had both heard often and often that good
Americans when they die go to Paris, and that prepares one for a good
deal in this life. We were so anxious to be pleased that we fastened
with one accord upon the florist's shop under the hotel and said that it
was uniquely charming, though we both knew places in Broadway that it
couldn't be compared with. We looked amiably at the passers-by, and did
our best to detect in the manner of their faces that _esprit_ that makes
the dialogue of French novels so stimulating. What I usually thought I
saw when they looked at us was a leisurely indifferentism ornamented
with the suspicion of a sneer, and based upon a certain fundamental
acquisitiveness and ability to make a valuation that acknowledged the
desirability of our presence on business grounds, if not on personal
ones. It seemed to be a preconcerted public intention to make as much
noise in a given space as possible--we spoke of the cheerfulness of it,
stopping our ears. The cracking of the drivers' whips alone made a _feu
de joie_ that never ceased, and listening to it we knew that we ought to
feel happy and elated. The driver of our fiacre was fat and rubicund, he
wore a green coat, brass buttons, and a shiny top hat, and looked as if
he drank constantly. His jollity was perfunctory, I know, and covered a
grasping nature, but it was very well imitated, like everything in
Paris. As he whirled us, with a whip-report like a pistol-shot, into the
train of traffic in the middle of the street, we felt that we were
indeed in the city of appearances; and I put down in my mind, not having
my note-book, that Paris lives up to its photographs.

"We mustn't forget our serious object, dear," said momma, as we rolled
over the cobblestones--"our literary object. What shall we note this
morning? The broad streets, the elegant shops--_do_ look at that one!
Darling, is it absolutely necessary to go to the Louvre this morning?
There are some things we really need."

Momma addressed the Senator. I mentioned to her once that her way of
doing it was almost English in its demonstrativeness, and my other
parent told me privately he wished I hadn't--it aggravated it so.

"Augusta," said poppa, firmly, "I understand your feeling. I take a
human interest in those stores myself, which I do not expect this
picture gallery, etc., to inspire in me. But there the Louvre _is_, you
see, and it's got to be done. If we spent our whole time in this city in
mere pleasure and amusement, you would be the first to reproach
yourself, Augusta."

A few minutes later, when we had crossed the stone quadrangle and
mounted the stairs, and stood with our catalogue in the Salle Lacaze,
momma said that she wouldn't have missed it for anything. She sank
ecstatic upon a bench, and gave to every individual picture upon the
opposite wall the tribute of her intensest admiration. It was a pleasure
to see her enjoying herself so much; and poppa and I vainly tried to
keep up to her with the catalogue.

"Oh, why haven't we such things in Chicago!" she exclaimed, at which the
Senator checked her mildly.

"It's a mere question of time," said he. "It isn't reasonable to expect
Pre-Raphaelites in a new country. But give us three or four hundred
years, and we'll produce old masters which, if you ladies will excuse
the expression, will knock the spots out of the Middle Ages." Poppa is
such an optimist about Chicago.

The Senator went on in a strain of criticism of the pictures perfectly
moderate and kindly--nothing he wouldn't have said to the artists
themselves--until momma interrupted him. "Don't you think we might be
silent for a time, Alexander," she said.

Momma does call him Alexander sometimes. I didn't like to mention it
before, but it can't be concealed for ever. She says it's because Joshua
always costs her an effort, and every woman ought to have the right to
name her own husband.

"Let us offer to all this genius," she continued, indicating it, "the
tribute of sealing our lips."

The Senator will always oblige. "Mine are sealed, Augusta," he replied,
and so we sat in silence for the next ten minutes. But I could see by
his expression, in connection with the angle at which his hat was
tipped, that he was comparing the productions before him with the future
old masters of Chicago, and wishing it were possible to live long enough
to back Chicago.

"How they do sink in!" said momma at last. "How they sink into the
soul!"

"They do," replied the Senator. "I don't deny it. But I see by the
catalogue, counting Salles and Salons and all, there's seventeen rooms
full of them. If they're all to sink in, for my part I'll have to
enlarge the premises. And we've been here three-quarters of an hour
already, and life is short, Augusta."

So we moved on where the imperishable faces of Greuze and Velasquez and
Rembrandt smiled and frowned and wondered at us. As poppa said, it was
easy to see that these people had ideas, and were simply longing to
express them. "You feel sorry for them," he said, "just as you feel
sorry for an intelligent terrier. But these poor things can't even wag
their tails! Just let me know when you've had enough, Augusta."

Momma declared, with an accent of reproach, that she could never have
enough. I noticed, however, that we did not stay in the second room as
long as in the first one, and that our progress was steadily
accelerating. Presently the Senator asked us to sit down for a few
minutes while he should leave us.

"There's a picture here Bramley said I was to see without fail," he
explained. "It's called 'Mona Lisa,' and it's by an artist by the name
of Leonardo da Vinci. Bramley said it was a very fine painting, but I
don't remember just now whether he said it was what you might call a
picture for the family or not. I'll just go and ascertain," said the
Senator. "Judging from some of the specimens here, oil paintings in the
Middle Ages weren't intended to be chromo-lithographed."

In his absence momma and I discussed French cookery as far as we had
experienced it, in detail, with prodigious yawns for which we did not
even apologise. Poppa was gone a remarkably short time and came back
radiant. "I've found Mona," he exclaimed, "and--she's all right. Bramley
said it was the most remarkable portrait of a woman in the
world--looking at it, Bramley said, you become insensible to
everything--forget all about your past life and future hopes--and I
guess he's about right. Come and see it."

Momma arose without enthusiasm, and I thought I detected adverse
criticism in advance in her expression.

"Here she is," said the Senator presently. "Now look at that! Did you
ever see anything more intellectual and cynical, and contemptuous and
sweet, all in one! Lookin' at you as much as to say, 'Who are you,
anyhow, from way back in the State of Illinois--commercial traveller?
And what do you pretend to know?'"

Momma regarded the portrait for a moment in calm disapprobation. "I
daresay she was very clever," she said at length, "but if you wish to
know my opinion I _don't think much of her_. And before taking us to see
another female portrait, Mr. Wick, I should be obliged if you would take
the precaution of finding out _who she was_."

After which we drove quietly home.



CHAPTER VI.


Poppa decided that we had better go to Versailles by Cook's
four-in-hand. There were other ways of going, but he thought we might as
well take the most distinguished. He was careful to explain that the
mere grandeur of this method of transportation had no weight with him;
he was compelled to submit to the ostentation of it for another purpose
which he had in view.

"I am not a person," said poppa, "nor is any member of my family, to
thrust myself into aristocratic circles in foreign lands; but when an
opportunity like this occurs for observing them without prejudice, so to
speak, I believe in taking it."

We went to the starting place early, so as to get good seats, for, as
momma said, the whole of the Parisian _élite_ with the President thrown
in wouldn't induce her to ride with her back to the horses. In that
position she would be incapable of observation.

The coaches were not there when we arrived, and presently the Senator
discovered why. He told us with a slightly depressed air that they had
gone round to the hotels. "Daughter," he said to me, "J.P. Wicks does
hate to make a fool of himself, and this morning he's done it twice
over. The best seats will go to the people who had the sense to stay at
their hotels, and the fact that the coaches go round shows that they run
for tourist traffic only. There won't be a Paris aristocrat among them,"
continued poppa gloomily, "nary an aristocrat."

When they came up we saw that there wasn't. The coaches were full of
tourist traffic. It was mounted on the box seats very high up, where it
looked conspicuously happy, and sounded a little hysterical; and it was
packed, tight and warm and anticipant into every available seat. From
its point of vantage, secured by waiting at the hotel for it, the
tourist traffic looked down upon the Wick family on the pavement, in
irritating compassion. As momma said, if we hadn't taken our tickets it
was enough to have sent us to the Bon Marché.

A man in a black frock coat and white shirt cuffs came bareheaded from
the office and pointed us out to the interpreter, who wore brass
buttons. The interpreter appeared to mention it to the guide, who wiped
his perspiring brows under a soft brown felt hat. A fiacre crawled round
the corner and paused to look on, and the Senator said, "Now which of
you three gentlemen is responsible for my ride to Versailles?"

The interpreter looked at him with a hostile expression, the guide made
a gesture of despair at the volume of tourist traffic, and the man with
the shirt cuffs said, "You 'ave took your plazes on ze previous day?"

"I took them from you ten minutes ago," poppa replied. "What a memory
you've got!"

"Zen zare is nothings guaranteed. But we will send special carriage, and
be'ind you can follow up," and he indicated the fiacre which had now
drawn into line.

"I don't think so," said poppa, "when I buy four-in-hand tickets I don't
take one-in-hand accommodation."

"You will not go in ze private carriage?"

"I will not."

"_Mais_--it is much ze preferable."

"I don't know why I should contradict you," said poppa, but at that
moment the difficulty was solved by the Misses Bingham.

"Guide!" cried one of the Misses Bingham, beckoning with her fan, "_Nous
voulons à déscendre!_"

"You want get out?"

"_Oui!_" replied the Misses Bingham with simultaneous dignity, and, as
the guide merely wiped his forehead again, poppa stepped forward. "Can I
assist you?" he said, and the Misses Bingham allowed themselves to be
assisted. They were small ladies, dressed in black pongee silk, with
sloping shoulders, and they each carried a black fan and a brocaded bag
for odds and ends. They were not plain-looking, and yet it was readily
seen why nobody had ever married them; they had that look of the
predestined single state that you sometimes see even among the very well
preserved. One of them had an eye-glass, but it was easy to note even
when she was not wearing it that she was a person of independent income,
of family, and of New York.

"We are quite willing," said the Misses Bingham, "to exchange our seats
in the coach for yours in the special carriage, if that arrangement
suits you."

"_Bon!_" interposed the guide, "and opposite there is one other place if
that fat gentleman will squeeze himself a little--eh?"

"Come along!" said the fat gentleman equably.

"But I couldn't think of depriving you ladies."

"Sir," said one Miss Bingham, "it is no deprivation."

"We should prefer it," added the other Miss Bingham. They spoke with
decision; one saw that they had not reached middle age without knowing
their own minds all the way.

"To tell the truth," added the Miss Bingham without the eye-glass in a
low voice, "we don't think we can stand it."

"I don't precisely take you, madam," said the Senator politely.

"I'm an American," she continued.

Poppa bowed. "I should have known you for a daughter of the Stars and
Stripes anywhere," he said in his most complimentary tone.

Miss Bingham looked disconcerted for an instant and went on. "My great
grandfather was A.D.C. to General Washington. I've got that much reason
to be loyal."

"There couldn't have been many such officers," the Senator agreed.

"But when I go abroad I don't want the whole of the United States to
come with me."

"It takes the gilt off getting back for you?" suggested poppa a little
stiffly.

Miss Bingham failed to take the hint. "We find Europe infested with
Americans," she continued. "It disturbs one's impressions so. And the
travelling American invariably belongs to the very _least_ desirable
class."

"Now I shouldn't have thought so," said the Senator, with intentional
humour. But it was lost upon Miss Bingham.

"Well, if you like them," said the other one, "you'd better go in the
coach."

The Senator lifted his hat. "Madam," he said, "I thank you for giving to
me and mine the privilege of visiting a very questionable scene of the
past in the very best society of the present."

And as the guide was perspiring more and more impatiently, we got in.

For some moments the Senator sat in silence, reflecting upon this
sentiment, with an occasionally heaving breast. Circumstances forbade
his talking about it, but he cast an eye full of criticism upon the
fiacre rolling along far in the rear, and remarked, with a fervor most
unusual, that he hoped they liked our dust. We certainly made a great
deal of it. Momma and I, looking at our fellow travellers, at once
decided that the Misses Bingham had been a little hasty. The fat
gentleman, who wore a straw hat very far back, and meant to enjoy
himself, was certainly our fellow-citizen. So was his wife, and
brother-in-law. So were a bride and bridegroom on the box seat--nothing
less than the best of everything for an American honeymoon--and so was a
solitary man with a short cut bristly beard, a slouch hat, a pink cotton
shirt, and a celluloid collar. But there was an indescribable something
about all the rest that plainly showed they had never voted for a
president or celebrated a Fourth of July. I was still revolving it in my
mind when the fat gentleman, who had been thinking of the same thing,
said to his neighbour on the other side, a person of serious appearance
in a black silk hat, apropos of the line he had crossed by, "I may be
wrong, but I shouldn't have put you down to be an American."

"Oh, I guess I am," replied the serious man, "but not the United States
kind."

"British North," suggested the fat gentleman, with a smile that
acknowledged Her Majesty. "First cousin once removed," and momma and I
looked at one another intelligently. We had nothing against Canadians,
except that they generally talk as if they had the whole of the St.
Lawrence river and Niagara Falls in a perpetual lease from
Providence--and we had never seen so many of them together before. The
coach was three-quarters full of these foreigners, if the Misses
Bingham had only known; but as poppa afterwards said, they were probably
not foreign enough. It may have been imagination, but I immediately
thought I saw a certain meekness, a habit of deference--I wanted to
incite them all to treat the Guelphs as we did. Just then we stopped
before the church of St. Augustin, and the guide came swinging along the
outside of the coach hoarsely emitting facts. Everybody listened
intently, and I noticed upon the Canadian countenances the same
determination to be instructed that we always show ourselves. We all
meant to get the maximum amount of information for the price, and I
don't think any of us have forgotten that the site of St. Augustin is
three-cornered and its dome resembles a tiara to this day. For a moment
I was sorry for the Misses Bingham, who were absorbing nothing but dust;
but, as momma said, they looked very well informed.

It must be admitted that we were a little shy with the guide--we let him
bully us. As poppa said, he was certainly well up in his subject, but
that was no reason why he should have treated us as if we had all come
from St. Paul or Kansas City. There was a condescension about him that
was not explained by the state of his linen, and a familiarity that I
had always supposed confined exclusively to the British aristocracy
among themselves. He had a red face and a blue eye, with which he looked
down on us with scarcely concealed contempt, and he was marvellously
agile, distributing his information as open street-car conductors
collect fares.

"They seem extremely careful of their herbage in this town," remarked
the serious man, and we noticed that it was so. Precautions were taken
in wire that would have dissuaded a grasshopper from venturing on it. It
grew very neatly inside, doubtless with a certain _chic_, but it had a
look of being put on for the occasion that was essentially Parisian.
Also the trees grew up out of iron plates, which was uncomfortable,
though, no doubt, highly finished, and the flowers had a _cachet_ about
them which made one think of French bonnets. As we rolled into the Bois
it became evident that the guide had something special to communicate.
He raised his voice and coughed, in a manner which commanded instant
attention.

"Ladies--and genelmen," he said--he always added the gentleman as if
they were an after-thought--"you are mos' fortunate, mos' locky. _Tout
Paris_--all the folks--are still driving their 'orse an' carriage 'ere.
One week more--the style will be all gone--what you say--vamoosed? Every
mother's son! An' Cook's excursion party won't see nothin' but ole cabs
goin' along!"

"Can't we get away from them?" asked the serious person. It was
humorously intended--certainly a liberty, and the guide was down on it
in an instant.

"Get away from them? Not if they know you're here!"

At which the serious man looked still more serious, and sympathy for
him sprang up in every heart.

We passed Longchamps at a steady trot, and the guide's statement that
the races there were always held on Sunday was received with a silence
that evidently disappointed him. It was plain that he had a withering
rejoinder ready for sabbatarians, and he waited anxiously, balanced on
one foot, for an expression of shocked opinion. It was after we had
passed Mont Valerien, frowning on the horizon, that the man in the pink
cotton shirt began to grow restive under so much instruction. He told
the serious person that his name was Hinkson of Iowa, and the serious
person was induced to reply that his was Pabbley of Simcoe, Ontario. It
was insubordination--the guide was talking about the shelling from Mont
Valerien at the time, with the most patriotic dislocations in his
grammar.

"You understan', you see?" he concluded. "Now those two genelmen, they
_don'_ understan', and they _don'_ see. An' when they get back to the
United States they won' be able to tell their wives an' sweethearts
anythin' about Mont Valerien! All right, genelmen--please yourselves.
_Mais_ you please remember I am just like William Shekspeare--I give no
_repétition_!"

It was then that the serious man demonstrated that Britons, even the
North American kind, never, never would be slaves. Placing his black
silk hat carefully a little further back on his head, he leaned forward.

"Now look here, mister," he said, "you're as personal as a Yankee
newspaper. So far as I know, you're not the friend of my childhood, nor
the companion of my later years, except for this trip only, and I'd just
as soon you realised it. As far as I know, you're paid to point out
objects of historical interest. Don't you trouble to entertain us any
further than that. We'll excuse you!"

"Ladies--an' genelmen," continued the guide calmly, "in a lil' short
while we shall be approached to the town of St. Cloud. At that town of
St. Cloud will be one genelman will take the excellen' group--fotograff.
To appear in that fotograff, you will please all keep together with me.
Afterwards, you will look at the fountains, at the magnificent panorama
de Paris, and we go on to Versailles. On the return journey, if you like
that fotograff you can buy, if you don't like, you don' buy. An' if you
got no wife an' no sweetheart all the same you keep your temper!"

But Mr. Pabbley had settled his hat in its normal position and did not
intend to clear his brow for action again. All might have gone well, had
it not been for the patriotic sensitiveness of Mr. Hinkson of Iowa.

"I think I heard you pass a remark about American newspapers, sir," said
Mr Hinkson of Iowa. "Think you've got any better in Canada?"

Mr. Pabbley smiled. There may have been some fancied superiority in the
smile.

"I guess they suit us better," he said.

"Got any circulation figures about you?"

"Not being an advertising agent, I don't carry them."

"I see!" Mr. Hinkson's manner of saying he saw clearly implied that
there might have been other reasons why Mr. Pabbley declined to produce
those figures. We were all listening now, and the guide had subsided
upon the box seat. The Senator's face wore the judicial expression it
always assumes when he has a difficulty in keeping himself out of the
conversation. It became easier than ever to separate the Republican and
the British elements on that coach.

"Well," said Mr. Hinkson, "don't you folks get pretty tired of paying
Victoria taxes sometimes?"

The British contingent seemed to find this amusing. The Americans looked
as if it were no laughing matter.

"I don't believe Her Majesty is much the richer for all she gets out of
us," said Mr. Pabbley.

"Oh, I guess you send over a pretty good lump per annum, don't you?"

"Not a red cent, sir," said Mr. Pabbley decisively. "We run our own
show."

"What about that aristocrat that rules the country up at Ottawa?"

"Oh, _he_ hasn't got any say! We get him out and pay him a salary to
save ourselves the trouble of electing a president. A presidential
election's bad for business, bad for politics, bad for morals."

"You seem to know. Doesn't it ever make you tired to hear yourselves
called subjects? Don't you ever want to be free and equal, like us?
Trot out the truth now--the George Washington article!"

"Mister," said Mr. Pabbley, "I flatter myself that Canadians are a good
deal like United States folks already, and I don't mind congratulating
both our nations on the resemblance. But I'm bound to add that, while I
would wish to imitate the American people in many ways still further, I
wouldn't be like you personally, no, not under any circumstances nor in
any respect."

At this moment it was necessary to dismount, and, as poppa and I both
immediately became engaged in reconciling momma to the necessity of
walking to the top of the plateau, I lost the rest of the conversation.
Momma, when it was necessary to walk anywhere, always became pathetic
and offered to stay behind alone. She declared on this occasion that she
would be perfectly happy in the coach with the dear horses, and poppa
had to resort to extreme measures. "Please yourself, Augusta," he said.
"Your lightest whim is law to me, and you know it. But I'm going to hate
standing up in that photograph all alone with my only child, like any
widower."

"Alexander!" exclaimed momma at once. "What a dreadful idea! I think I
might be able to manage it."

The photographer was there with his camera. The guide marshalled us up
to him, falling back now and then to bark at the heels of the lagging
ones, and, with the assistance of a bench and an acacia, we were rapidly
arranged, the short ones standing up, the tall ones sitting down,
everyone assuming his most pleasing expression, and the Misses Bingham
standing alone, apart, on the brink, looking on under an umbrella that
seemed to protect them from intimate association with the democracy in
any form. We saw the guide approach them in gingerly inquiry, but,
before simultaneous waves of their two black fans, he retired in
disorder. The bride had slipped her hand upon her husband's shoulder,
just to mark his identity; the fat gentleman had removed his hat and
hurriedly put it on again, and the photographer had gone under his
curtain for the third time, when Mr. Hinkson of Iowa, who sat in a
conspicuous cross-legged position in the foreground, drew from his
pocket a handkerchief and spread it carefully out over one knee. It was
not an ordinary handkerchief, it was a pocket edition of the Stars and
Stripes, all red, and blue, and white, and it attracted the instant
attention of every eye. One of the eyes was Mr. Pabbley's, who appeared
to clear the group at a bound in consequence.

"Ladies and gentlemen," exclaimed Mr. Pabbley with vehemence, "does
anyone happen to have a Union Jack about him or her?"

They felt in their pockets, but they hadn't.

"Then," said Mr. Pabbley, who was evidently aroused, "unless the
gentleman from Iowa will withdraw his handkerchief, I refuse to sit."

"I guess we aren't any of us annexationists," said a middle-aged woman
from Toronto in a duster, and proceeded to follow Mr. Pabbley.

The rest of the Canadians looked at each other undecidedly for a moment
and then slowly filed after the middle-aged woman. There remained the
mere wreck of a group clustering round the national emblem on the leg of
Mr. Hinkson. The guide was expostulating himself speechless, the
photographer was in convulsions, the Senator saw it was time to
interfere. Leaning over, he gently tapped the patriot from Iowa on the
shoulder.

"Aren't you satisfied with the sixty million fellow-citizens you've got
already," said poppa, "that you want to grab nine half-starved Canucks
with a hand camera?"

"They're in the majority here," said Mr. Hinkson fiercely, "and I dare
any one of 'em to touch that flag. Go along over there and join 'em if
you like--they're goin' to be done by themselves--to send to Queen
Victoria!"

But that was further than anybody would go, even in defence of
cosmopolitanism. The Republic rallied round Mr. Hinkson's leg, while the
Dominion with much dignity supported Mr. Pabbley. As momma said, human
nature is perfectly extraordinary.

For the rest of the journey to Versailles there was hardly any
international conversation. Mr. Hinkson tied his handkerchief round his
neck, and the Canadians tried to look as if they had no objection. We
passed through the villages of Montretout and Buze. I know we did
because momma took down the names, but I fancy they couldn't have
differed much from the general landscape, for I don't remember a thing
about them. The Misses Bingham came and sat next us at luncheon, which
flattered both momma and me immensely, though the Senator didn't seem
able to see where the distinction came in, and during this meal they
pointed out the fact that Mr. Hinkson was drinking lemonade with his
roast mutton, and asked us how we _could_ travel with such a
combination. I remember poppa said that it was a combination that Mr.
Hinkson and Mr. Hinkson only had to deal with, but momma and I felt the
obloquy of it a good deal, though when we came to think of it we were no
more responsible for Mr. Hinkson than the Misses Bingham were. After
that, walking rapidly behind the guide, we covered centuries of French
history, illustrated by chairs and tables and fire-irons and chandeliers
and four-post beds. Momma told me afterwards that she was rather sorry
she had taken me with the guide through Madame du Barry's fascinating
Petit Trianon, the things he didn't say sounded so improper, but when I
assured her that it was only contemporary scandal that had any effect on
our morals, she said she supposed that was so, and somehow one never did
expect people who wore curled wigs and knee-breeches to behave quite
prettily. The rooms were dotted with groups of people who had come in
fiacres or by tramway, which made it difficult for the guide to impart
his information only to those who had paid for it. He generally
surmounted this by saying, "Ladies and genelmen, I want you to stick
closer than brothers. When you hear me a-talkin' don' you go turnin'
over your Baedekers and lookin' out of the window. If I didn't know a
great big sight more about Versailles than Baedeker does I wouldn't be
here makin' a clown of myself; an' I'll show you the view out of the
window all in good time. You see that lady an' two genelmen over there?
_They're_ listenin' all right enough because they don't belong to this
party an' they want to get a little information cheap price. All
right--I let 'em have it!" At which the lady and two gentlemen usually
melted away looking annoyed.

We were fascinated with the coaches of state and much impressed with the
cost of them. As momma said, it took so very _little_ imagination to
conjure up a Royal Philip inside bowing to the populace.

"What a pity we couldn't have had them over!" said poppa indiscreetly.

"Where you mean?" demanded the guide, "over to America? I know--for that
ole Chicago show! You are the five hundred American who has said that to
me this summer! Number five hundred! Nossir, we don't lend those
carriage. We don't even drive them ourself."

"No more kings and queens nowadays," remarked Mr. Hinkson, "this
century's got no use for them."

I think the guide was a Monarchist. "Nossir," he said, "you don't see no
more kings an' queens of France, but you do see a good many people
travellin' that's nothin' like so good for trade."

At which Mr. Pabbley's eye sought that of the guide, and expressed its
appreciation in a marked and joyous wink.

In the Palace, especially in the picture rooms, there were generally
benches along the walls. When momma observed this she arranged that she
should go on ahead and sit down and get the impression, while poppa and
I caught up from time to time with the guide and the information. The
guide was quite agreeable about it, when it was explained to him.

He was either a very thoughtless or a very insincere person, however.
Stopping before the portrait of an officer in uniform, he drew us all
together. The Canadians, headed by Mr. Pabbley, were well to the fore,
and it was to them in particular that he appeared to address himself
when he said, "Take a good look at this picture, ladies and genelmen.
There is a man wat lives in your 'istory an', if I may say, in your
'art--as he does in ours. There's a man, ladies and genelmen, that
helped you on to liberty. Take a good look at 'im, you'll be glad to
remember it afterward."

And it was General Lafayette!



CHAPTER VII.


It was after dinner and we were sitting in the little courtyard of the
hotel in the dark without our hats--that is, momma and I; the Senator
was seldom altogether without his hat. I think he would have felt it to
be a little indecent. The courtyard was paved, and there were flowers on
the stand in the middle of it, natural palms and artificial begonias
mixed with the most annoying cleverness, and little tables for coffee
cups or glasses were scattered about. Outside beyond the hotel vestibule
one could see and hear Paris rolling by in the gaslight. It was the only
place in the hotel that did not smell of furniture, so we frequented it.
So did Mr. Malt and Mrs. Malt, and Emmeline Malt, and Miss Callis. That
was chiefly how we made the acquaintance of the Malt party. You can't
very well sit out in the dark in a foreign capital with a family from
your own State and not get to know them. Besides poppa never could
overcome his feeling of indebtedness to Mr. Malt. They were taking
Emmeline abroad for her health. She was the popular thirteen-year-old
only child of American families, and she certainly was thin. I remember
being pleased, sometimes, considering her in her typical capacity, that
I once had a little brother, though he died before I was born.

The two gentlemen were smoking; we could see nothing but the ends of
their cigars glowing in their immediate vicinity. Momma was saying that
the situation was very romantic, and Mr. Malt had assured her that it
was nothing to what we would experience in Italy. "That's where you
_get_ romance," said Mr. Malt, and his cigar end dropped like a falling
star as he removed the ash. "Italy's been romantic ever since B.C. All
through the time the rest of the world was inventing Magna Chartas and
Doomsday Books, and Parliaments, and printing presses, and steam
engines, Italy's gone right on turning out romance. Result is, a better
quality of that article to be had in Italy to-day than anywhere else.
Further result, twenty million pounds spent there annually by tourists
from all parts of the civilised world. Romance, like anything else, can
be made to pay."

"Are we likely to find the beds----" began Mrs. Malt plaintively.

"Oh dear yes, Mrs. Malt!" interrupted momma, who thought everything
entomological extremely indelicate. "Perfectly. You have only to go to
the hotels the guide-books recommend, and everything will be quite
_propre_."

"Well," said Emmeline, "they may be _propre_ in Italy, but they're not
_propre_ in Paris. We had to speak to the housemaid yesterday morning,
didn't we, mother? Don't you remember the back of my neck?"

"We all suffered!" declared Mrs. Malt.

"And I _showed_ one to her, mother, and all she would say was, '_Jamais
ici, mademoiselle, ici, jamais!_' And there it _was_ you know."

"Emmeline," said her father, "isn't it about time for you to want to go
to bed?"

"Not by about three hours. I'm going to get up a little music first. Do
you play, Mis' Wick?"

Momma said she didn't, and Miss Malt disappeared in search of other
performers. "Don't you go asking strangers to play, Emmeline," her
mother called after her. "They'll think it forward of you."

"When Emmeline leaves us," said her father, "I always have a kind of
abandoned feeling, like a top that's got to the end of its spin."

There was silence for a moment, and then the Senator said he thought he
could understand that.

"Well," continued Mr. Malt, "you've had three whole days now. I presume
you're beginning to know your way around."

"I think we may say we've made pretty good use of our time," responded
the Senator. "This morning we had a look in at the Luxembourg picture
gallery, and the Madeleine, and Napoleon's Tomb, and the site of the
Bastile. This afternoon we took a run down to Notre Dame Cathedral.
That's a very fine building, sir."

"You saw the Morgue, of course, when you were in that direction,"
remarked Mr. Malt.

"Why no," poppa confessed, "we haven't taken much of liking for live
Frenchmen, up to the present, and I don't suppose dead ones would be any
more attractive."

"Oh, there's nothing unpleasant," said Mrs. Malt, "nothing that you can
_notice_."

"Nothing at all," said Mr. Malt. "They refrigerate them, you know. We
send our beef to England by the same process----"

"There are people," the Senator interrupted, "who never can see anything
amusing in a corpse."

"They don't let you in as a matter of course," Mr. Malt went on. "You
have to pretend that you're looking for a relation."

"We had to mention Uncle Sammy," said Mrs. Malt.

"An uncle of Mis' Malt's who went to California in '49 and was never
heard of afterward," Mr. Malt explained. "First use he's ever been to
his family. Well, there they were, seven of 'em, lying there looking at
you yesterday. All in good condition. I was told they have a place
downstairs for the older ones."

"Alexander," said momma faintly, "I think I _should_ like a little
brandy in my coffee. Were there--were there any ladies among them, Mr.
Malt?"

"Three," Mr. Malt responded briskly, "and one of them had her hair----"

"Then _please_ don't tell us about them," momma exclaimed, and the
silence that ensued was one of slight indignation on the part of the
Malt family.

"You been seeing the town at all, evenings?" Mr. Malt inquired of the
Senator.

"I can't say I have. We've been seeing so much of it in the daytime, we
haven't felt able to enjoy anything at night except our beds," poppa
returned with his accustomed candour.

"Just so. All the same there's a good deal going on in Paris after
supper."

"So I've always been told," said the Senator, lighting another cigar.

"They've got what you might call characteristic shows here. You see a
lot of life."

"Can you take your ladies?" asked the Senator.

"Well of course you _can_, but I don't believe they would find it
interesting."

"Too much life," said the Senator. "I guess that settles it for me too.
I daresay I'm lacking in originality and enterprise, but I generally ask
myself about an entertainment, 'Are Mrs. and Miss Wick likely to enjoy
it?' If so, well and good. If not, I don't as a rule take it in."

"He's a great comfort that way," remarked momma to Mrs. Malt.

"Oh, I don't _frequent_ them myself," said Mr. Malt defensively.

"Talking of improprieties," remarked Miss Callis, "have you seen the
New Salon?"

There was something very unexpected about Miss Callis; momma complained
of it. Her remarks were never polished by reflection. She called herself
a child of nature, but she really resided in Brooklyn.

The Senator said we had not.

"Then don't you go, Mr. Wick. There's a picture there----"

"We never look at such pictures, Miss Callis," momma interrupted.

"It's _so_ French," said Miss Callis.

Momma drew her shawl round her preparatory to withdrawing, but it was
too late.

"Too French for words," continued Miss Callis. "The poet Lamartine, with
a note-book and pencil in his hand, seated in a triumphal chariot, drawn
through the clouds by beautiful Muses."

"Oh," said momma, in a relieved voice, "there's nothing so dreadfully
French about that."

"You should have seen it," said Miss Callis. "It was simply immoral.
Lamartine was in a frock coat!"

"There could have been nothing objectionable in that," momma repeated.
"I suppose the Muses----"

"The Muses were not in frock coats. They were dressed in their
traditions," replied Miss Callis, "but they couldn't save the situation,
poor dears."

Momma looked as if she wished she had the courage to ask Miss Callis to
explain.

"In picture galleries," remarked poppa, "we've seen only the Luxembourg
and the Louvre. The Louvre, I acknowledge, is worthy of a second visit.
But I don't believe we'll have time to get round again."

"We've got to get a hustle on ourselves in a day or two," said Mr. Malt,
as we separated for the night. "There's all Italy and Switzerland
waiting for us, and they're bound to be done, because we've got circular
tickets. But there's something about this town that I hate to leave."

"He doesn't know whether it's the Arc de Triomphe on the Bois de
Boulogne or the Opera Comique, or what," said Mrs. Malt in affectionate
criticism. "But we've been here a week over our time now, and he doesn't
seem able to tear himself away."

"I'll tell you what it is," exclaimed Mr. Malt, producing a newspaper,
"it's this little old _New York Herald_. There's no use comparing it
with any American newspaper, and it wouldn't be fair to do so; but I
wonder these French rags, in a foreign tongue, aren't ashamed to be
published in the same capital with it. It doesn't take above a quarter
of an hour to read in the mornings, but it's a quarter of an hour of
solid comfort that you don't expect somehow abroad. If the _New York
Herald_ were only published in Rome I wouldn't mind going there."

"There's something," said poppa, thoughtfully, as we ascended to the
third floor, "in what Malt says."

Next day we spent an hour buying trunks for the accommodation of the
unattainable elsewhere. Then poppa reminded us that we had an important
satisfaction yet to experience. "Business before pleasure," he said,
"certainly. But we've been improving our minds pretty hard for the last
few days, and I feel the need of a little relaxation. D.V. and W.P., I
propose this afternoon to make the ascent of the Eiffel Tower. Are you
on?"

"I will accompany you, Alexander, if it is safe," said momma, "and, if
it is unsafe, I couldn't possibly let you go without me."

Momma is naturally a person of some timidity, but when the Senator
proposes to incur any danger, she always suggests that he shall do it
over her dead body.

I forget where we were at the time, but I know that we had only to walk
through the perpetual motion of Paris, across a bridge, and down a few
steps on the other side, to find the little steamer that took us by the
river to the Tower. We might have gone by omnibus or by fiacre, but if
we had we should never have known what a street the Seine is, sliding
through Paris, brown in the open sun, dark under the shadowing arches of
the bridges, full of hastening comers and goers from landing-place to
landing-place, up and down. It gave us quite a new familiarity with the
river, which had been before only a part of the landscape, and one of
the things that made Paris imposing. We saw that it was a highway of
traffic, and that the little, brisk, business-like steamers were full of
people, who went about in them because it was the cheapest and most
convenient way, and not at all for the pleasure of a trip by water. We
noticed, too, a difference in these river-going people. Some of them
carried baskets, and some of them read the _Petit Journal_, and they all
comfortably submitted to the good-natured bullying of the mariner in
charge. There were elderly women in black, with a button or two off
their tight bodices, and children with patched shoes carrying an
assortment of vegetables, and middle-aged men in slouch hats, smoking
tobacco that would have been forbidden by public statute anywhere else.
They all treated us with a respect and consideration which we had not
observed in the Avenue de l'Opera, and I noticed the Senator visibly
expanding in it. There was also a man and a little boy, and a dog, all
lunching out of the same basket. Afterward, on being requested to do so,
the dog performed tricks--French ones--to the enjoyment and satisfaction
of all three. There was a great deal of politeness and good feeling, and
if they were not Capi and Remi and Vitalis in "_Sans Famille_," it was
merely because their circumstances were different.

As we stood looking at the Eiffel Tower, poppa said he thought if he
were in my place he wouldn't describe it. "It's old news," he said, "and
there's nothing the general public dislike so much as that. Every
hotel-porter in Chicago knows that it's three hundred metres high, and
that you can see through it all the way up. There it is, and I feel as
if I'd passed my boyhood in its shadow. That way I must say it's a
disappointment. I was expecting it to be more unexpected, if you
understand."

Momma and I quite agreed. It had the familiarity of a demonstration of
Euclid, and to the non-engineering mind was about as interesting. The
Senator felt so well acquainted with it that he hesitated about buying a
descriptive pamphlet. "They want to sell a stranger too much information
in this country," he said. "The meanest American intelligence is equal
to stepping into an elevator and stepping out again." But he bought one
nevertheless, and was particularly pleased with it, not only because it
was the cheapest thing in Paris at five cents, but because, as he said
himself, it contained an amount of enthusiasm not usually available at
any price.

The Senator thought, as we entered the elevator at the first story, that
the accommodation compared very well indeed with anything in his
experience. He had only one criticism--there was no smoking-room. We had
a slight difficulty with momma at the second story--she did not wish to
change her elevator. Inside she said she felt perfectly secure, but the
tower itself she knew _must_ waggle at that height when once you stepped
out. In the end, however, we persuaded her not to go down before she had
made the ascent, and she rose to the top with her eyes shut. When we
finally got out, however, the sight of numbers of young ladies selling
Eiffel Tower mementoes steadied her nerves. She agreed with poppa that
business premises would never let on anything but the most stable basis.

"It's exactly as Bramley said," remarked the Senator. "You're up so high
that the scenery, so far as Paris is concerned, becomes perfectly
ridiculous. It might as well be a map."

"_Don't_ look over, Alexander," said momma. "It will fill you with a
wild desire to throw yourself down. It is said _always_ to have that
effect."

"'The past ends in this plain at your feet,'" quoted poppa critically
from the guide-book, "'the future will there be fulfilled.' I suppose
they did feel a bit uppish when they'd got as high as this--but you'd
think France was about the only republic at present doing business,
wouldn't you?"

I pointed out the Pantheon down below and St. Etienne du Mont, and poppa
was immediately filled with a poignant regret that we had spent so much
time seeing public buildings on foot. "Whereas," said he, "from our
present point of view we could have done them all in ten minutes. As it
is, we shall be in a position to say we've seen everything there is to
be seen in Paris. Bramley won't be able to tell us it's a pity we've
missed anything. However," he continued, "we must be conscientious about
it. I've no desire to play it low down on Bramley. Let us walk round and
pick out the places of interest he's most likely to expect to catch us
on, and look at them separately. I should hate to think I wasn't telling
the truth about a thing like that."

We walked round and specifically observed the "Ecole des Beaux Arts,"
the "Palais d'Industrie," "Liberty Enlightening the World," and other
objects, poppa carefully noting against each of them "seen from Eiffel
Tower." As we made our way to the river side we noticed four other
people, two ladies and two gentlemen, looking at the military balloon
hanging over Meudon. They all had their backs to us, and there was to me
something dissimilarly familiar about three of those backs. While I was
trying to analyse it one of the gentlemen turned, and caught sight of
poppa. In another instant the highest elevation yet made by engineering
skill was the scene of three impetuous American handclasps, and four
impulsive American voices were saying, "Why how _do_ you do!" The
gentleman was Mr. Richard Dod of Chicago, known to our family without
interruption since he wore long clothes. Mr. Dod had come into his
patrimony and simultaneously disappeared in the direction of Europe six
months before, since when we had only heard vaguely that he had lost
most of it, but was inalterably cheerful; and there was nobody,
apparently, he expected so little or desired so much to see in Paris as
the Senator, momma and me. Poppa called him "Dick, my boy," momma called
him "my dear Dicky," I called him plain "Dick," and when this had been
going on for, possibly, five minutes, the older and larger of the two
ladies of the party swung round with a majesty I at once associated with
my earlier London experiences, and regarded us through her _pince nez_.
There was no mistaking her disapproval. I had seen it before. We were
Americans and she was Mrs. Portheris of Half Moon-street, Piccadilly. I
saw that she recognised me and was trying to make up her mind whether,
in view of the complication of Mr. Dod, to bow or not. But the woman who
hesitates is lost, even though she be a British matron of massive
prejudices and a figure to match. In Mrs. Portheris's instant of
vacillation, I stepped forward with such enthusiasm that she was
compelled to take down her _pince nez_ and hold out a superior hand. I
took it warmly, and turned to my parents with a joy which was not in the
least affected. "Momma," I exclaimed, "try to think of the very last
person who would naturally cross your mind--our relation, Mrs.
Portheris. Poppa, allow me to introduce you to your aunt--Mrs.
Portheris. Your far distant nephew from Chicago, Mr. Joshua Peter Wick."

It was a moment to be remembered--we all said so afterwards. Everything
hung upon Mrs. Portheris's attitude. But it was immediately evident that
Mrs. Portheris considered parents of any kind excusable, even
commendable! Her manner said as much--it also implied, however, that she
could not possibly be held responsible for transatlantic connections by
a former marriage. Momma was nervous, but collected. She bowed a distant
Wastgaggle bow, an heirloom in the family, which gave Mrs. Portheris to
understand that if any cordiality was to characterise the occasion, it
would have to emanate from her. Besides, Mrs. Portheris was poppa's
relation, and would naturally have to be guarded against. Poppa, on the
other hand, was cordiality itself--he always is.

"Why, is that so?" said poppa, looking earnestly at Mrs. Portheris and
firmly retaining her hand. "Is this my very own Aunt Caroline?"

"At one time," responded Mrs. Portheris with a difficult smile, "and, I
fear, by marriage only."

"Ah, to be sure, to be sure! Poor Uncle Jimmy gave place to another. But
we won't say anything more about that. Especially as you've been equally
unfortunate with your second," said poppa sympathetically. "Well, I'm
sure I'm pleased to meet you--glad to shake you by the hand." He gave
that member one more pressure as he spoke and relinquished it.

"It is extremely unlooked for," replied his Aunt Caroline, and looked at
Mr. Dod, who quailed, as if he were in some way responsible for it. "I
confess I am not in the habit of meeting my connections promiscuously
abroad." When we came to analyse the impropriety of this it was
difficult, but we felt as a family very disreputable at the time. Mr.
Dod radiated sympathy for us. Poppa looked concerned.

"The fact is," said he, "we ought to have called on you at your London
residence, Aunt Caroline. And if we had been able to make a more
protracted stay than just about long enough, as you might say, to see
what time it was, we would have done so. But you see how it was."

"Pray don't mention it," said Mrs. Portheris. "It is very unlikely that
I should have been at home."

"Then _that's_ all right," poppa replied with relief.

"London has so many monuments," murmured Dicky Dod, regarding Mrs.
Portheris's impressive back. "It is quite impossible to visit them all."

"The view from here," our relation remarked in a leave-taking tone, "is
very beautiful, is it not?"

"It's very extensive," replied poppa, "but I notice the inhabitants
round about seem to think it embraces the biggest part of civilisation.
I admit it's a good-sized view, but that's what I call enlarging upon
it."

"Come, Mr. Dod," commanded Mrs. Portheris, "we must rejoin the rest of
our party. They are on the other side."

"Certainly," said Dicky. "But you must give me your address, Mrs. Wick.
Thanks. And there now! I've been away from Illinois a good long time,
but I'm not going to forget to congratulate Chicago on getting you once
more into the United States Senate, Mr. Wick. I did what I could in my
humble way, you know."

"I _know_ you did, Richard," returned poppa warmly, "and if there's any
little Consulship in foreign parts that it would amuse you to fill----"

Mrs. Portheris, in the act of exchanging unemotional farewells with
mamma, turned round. "Do I understand that you are now a _Senator_?" she
inquired. "I had no idea of it. It is certainly a distinction--an
American distinction, of course--but you can't help that. It does you
credit. I trust you will use your influence to put an end to the
Mormons."

"As far as that goes," poppa returned with deprecation, "I believe my
business does take me to the Capitol pretty regularly now. But I'd be
sorry to think any more of myself on that account. Your nephew, Aunt
Caroline, is just the same plain American he was before."

"I hope you will vote to exterminate them," continued Mrs. Portheris
with decision. "Dear me! A Senator--I suppose you must have a great deal
of influence in your own country! Ah, here are the truants! We might all
go down in the lift together."

The truants appeared looking conscious. One of them, when he saw me,
looked astonished as well, and I cannot say that I myself was perfectly
unmoved when I realised that it was Mr. Mafferton! There was no reason
why Mr. Mafferton should not have been at the top of the Eiffel Tower in
the society of Mrs. Portheris, Mr. Dod, and another, that afternoon, but
for the moment it seemed to me uniquely amazing. We shook hands,
however--it was the only thing to do--and Mr. Mafferton said this was
indeed a surprise as if it were the most ordinary thing possible. Mrs.
Portheris looked on at our greeting with an air of objecting to things
she had not been taught to expect, and remarked that she had no idea Mr.
Mafferton was one of my London acquaintances. "But then," she continued
in a tone of just reproach, "I saw so little of you during your season
in town that you might have made the Queen's acquaintance and all the
Royal Family, and I should have been none the wiser."

It was too much to expect of one's momma that she should let an
opportunity like that slip, and mine took hold of it with both hands.

"I believe my daughter did make Victoria's acquaintance, Mrs.
Portheris," said she, "and we were all very pleased about it. Your Queen
has a very good reputation in our country. We think her a wise sovereign
and a perfect lady. I suppose you often go to her Drawing Rooms."

Mrs. Portheris wore the expression of one passing through the Stone Age
to a somewhat more mobile period. "I really think," she said, "I should
have been made aware of that. To have had a young relative presented
without one's knowledge seems _too_ extraordinary. No," she continued,
turning to poppa, "the only thing I heard of this young lady--it came to
me in a _very_ roundabout manner--was that she had gone home to be
_married_. Was not that your intention?" asked Mrs. Portheris, turning
to me.

"It was," I said. There was nothing else to say.

"Then may I inquire if you fulfilled it?"

"I didn't, Mrs. Portheris," said I. I was very red, but not so red as
Mr. Mafferton. "Circumstances interfered." I was prepared for an inquiry
as to what the circumstances were, and privately made up my mind that
Mrs. Portheris was too distant a relation to be gratified with such
information in the publicity of the Eiffel Tower. But she merely looked
at me with suspicion, and said it was much better that young people
should discover their unsuitability to one another before marriage than
after. "I can conceive nothing more shocking than divorce," said Mrs.
Portheris, and her tone indicated that I had probably narrowly escaped
it.

We were rather a large party as we made our way to the elevator, and I
found myself behind the others in conversation with Dicky Dod. It was a
happiness to come thus unexpectedly upon Dicky Dod--he gave forth all
that is most exhilarating in our democratic civilisation, and he was in
excellent spirits. As the young lady of Mrs. Portheris's party joined us
I thought I found a barometric reading in Mr. Dod's countenance that
explained the situation. "I remember you," she said shyly, and there was
something in this innocent audacity and the blush which accompanied it
that helped me to remember her too. "You came to see mamma in Half
Moon-street once. I am Isabel."

"Dear me!" I replied, "so you are. I remember--you had to go upstairs,
hadn't you. Please don't mind," I went on hastily as Isabel looked
distressed, "you couldn't help it. I was very unexpected, and I might
have been dangerous. How--how you've _grown_!" I really couldn't think
of anything else to say.

Isabel blushed again, Dicky observing with absorbed adoration. It _was_
lovely colour. "You know I haven't really," she said, "it's all one's
long frocks and doing up one's hair, you know."

"Miss Portheris only came out two months ago," remarked Mr. Dod, with
the effect of announcing that Venus had just arisen from the foam.

"Come, young people," Mrs. Portheris exclaimed from the lift; "we are
waiting for you." Poppa and momma and Mr. Mafferton were already inside.
Mrs. Portheris stood in the door. As Isabel entered, I saw that Mr. Dod
was making the wildest efforts to communicate something to me with his
left eye.

"Come, young people," repeated Mrs. Portheris.

"Do you think it's safe for so many?" asked Dicky doubtfully. "Suppose
anything should _give_, you know!"

Mrs. Portheris looked undecided. Momma, from the interior, immediately
proposed to get out.

"Safe as a church," remarked the Senator.

"What _do_ you mean, Dod?" demanded Mr. Mafferton.

"Well, it's like this," said Dicky; "Miss Wick is rather nervous about
overcrowding, and I think it's better to run no risks myself. You all go
down, and we'll follow you next trip. See?"

"I suppose you will hardly allow _that_, Mrs. Wick," said our relation,
with ominous portent.

"_Est ce que vous voulez à déscendre, monsieur?_" inquired the official
attached to the elevator, with some impatience.

"I don't see what there is to object to--I suppose it _would_ be safer,"
momma replied anxiously, and the official again demanded if we were
going down.

"Not this trip, thank you," said Dicky, and turned away. Mrs. Portheris,
who had taken her seat, rose with dignity. "In that case," said she, "I
also will remain at the top;" but her determination arrived too late.
With a ferocious gesture the little official shut the door and gave the
signal, and Mrs. Portheris sank earthwards, a vision of outraged
propriety. I felt sorry for momma.

"And now," I inquired of Mr. Dod, "why was the elevator not safe?"

"I'll tell you," said Dicky. "Do you know Mrs. Portheris well?"

"Very slightly indeed," I replied.

"Not well enough to--sort of chum up with our party, I suppose."

"Not for worlds," said I.

Dicky looked so disconsolate that I was touched.

"Still," I said, "you'd better trot out the circumstances, Dicky. We
haven't forgotten what you did in your humble way, you know, at election
time. I can promise for the family that we'll do anything we can. You
mustn't ask us to poison her, but we might lead her into the influenza."

"It's this way," said Mr. Dod. "How remarkably contracted the Place de
la Concorde looks down there, doesn't it! It's like looking through the
wrong end of an opera glass."

"I've observed that," I said. "It won't be fair to keep them waiting
_very_ long down there on the earth, you know, Dicky."

"Certainly not! Well, as I was saying, your poppa's Aunt Caroline is a
perfect fiend of a chaperone. By Jove, Mamie, let's be silhouetted!"

"Poppa was silhouetted," I said, "and the artist turned him out the
image of Senator Frye. Now he doesn't resemble Senator Frye in the least
degree. The elevator is ascending, Richard."

Richard blushed and looked intently at the horizon beyond Montmartre.

"You see, between Miss Portheris and me, it's this way," he began
recklessly, but with the vision before my eyes of momma on the steps
below wanting her tea, I cut him short.

"So far as you are concerned, Dicky, I see the way it is," I interposed
sympathetically. "The question is----"

"Exactly. So it is. About Isabel. But I can't find out. It seems to be
so difficult with an English girl. Doesn't seem to think such a thing as
a--a proposal exists. Now an American girl is just as ready----"

"Richard," I interrupted severely, "the circumstances do not require
international comparisons. By the way, how do you happen to be
travelling with--with Mr. Mafferton?"

"That's exactly where it comes in," Mr. Dod exclaimed luminously. "You'd
think, the way Mafferton purrs round the old lady, he'd been a friend of
the family from the beginning of time! Fact is, he met them two days
before they left London. _I_ had known them a good month, and the
venerable one seemed to take to me considerably. There wasn't a cab she
wouldn't let me call, nor a box at the theatre she wouldn't occupy, nor
a supper she wouldn't try to enjoy. Used to ask me to tea. Inquired
whether I was High or Low. That was awful, because I had to chance it,
being Congregational, but I hit it right--she's Low, too, strong. Isabel
always made the tea out of a canister the old lady kept locked. Singular
habit that, locking tea up in a canister."

"You are wandering, Dicky," I said. "And Isabel used to ask you whether
you would have muffins or brown bread and butter--I know. Go on."

"Girls _have_ intuition," remarked Mr. Dod with a glance of admiration
which I discounted with contempt. "Well, then old Mafferton turned up
here a week ago. Since then I haven't been waltzing in as I did before.
Old lady seems to think there's a chance of keeping the family pure
English--seems to think she'd like it better--see? At least, I take it
that way; he's cousin to a lord," Dick added dejectedly, "and you know
financially I've been coming through a cold season."

"It's awkward," I admitted, "but old ladies of no family are like that
over here. I know Mrs. Portheris is an old lady of no family, because
she's a connection of ours, you see. What about Isabel? Can't you tell
the least bit?"

"How can a fellow? She blushes just as much when he speaks to her as
when I do."

"But are you quite sure," I asked delicately, "whether Mr. Mafferton
is--interested?"

"There's the worst kind of danger of it," Dicky replied impressively. "I
don't know whether I ought to tell you, but the fact is Mafferton's just
got the sack--I beg your pardon--just been _congéed_ himself. They say
she was an American and it was a bad case; she behaved most
unfeelingly."

"You shouldn't believe all you hear," I said, "but I don't see what that
has to do with it."

"Why, he's just in the mood to console himself. What fellow would think
twice of being thrown over, if Miss Portheris were the alternative!"

"It depends, Dicky," I observed. "You are jumping at conclusions."

"What I hoped," he went on regretfully as we took our places in the
elevator, "was that we might travel together a bit and that you wouldn't
mind just now and then taking old Mafferton off our hands, you know."

"Dicky," I said, as we swiftly descended, "here is our itinerary.
Genoa, you see, then Pisa, Rome, Naples, Rome again, Florence, Venice,
Verona, up through the lakes to Switzerland, and so on. We leave
to-morrow. If we _should_ meet again, I don't promise to undertake it
personally, but I'll see what momma can do."

[Illustration: Breakfast with Dicky Dod.]



CHAPTER VIII.


Poppa said as we steamed out of Paris that night that the Presidency
itself would not induce him to reside there, and I think he meant it. I
don't know whether the omnibus _numeros_ and the _correspondances_ where
you change, or the men sitting staring on the side walks drinking things
for hours at a time, or getting no vegetables to speak of with his
joint, annoyed him most, but he was very decided in his views. Momma and
I were not quite so certain; we had a guilty sense of ingratitude when
we thought of the creations in the van; but the cobblestones biassed
momma a good deal, who hoped she should get some sleep in Italy. I had
breakfasted that morning in the most amusing way with Dicky Dod at a
_café_ in the Champs Elysées--poppa and momma had an engagement with Mr.
and Mrs. Malt and couldn't come--and in the leniency of the recollection
I said something favourable about the Arc de Triomphe at sunset; but I
gathered from the Senator's remarks that, while the sunset was fine
enough, he didn't see the propriety in using it that way as a background
for Napoleon Bonaparte, so to speak.

"Result is," said the Senator, "the intelligent foreigner's got pretty
nearly to go out of the town to see a sunset without having to think
about Aboukir and Alexandria. But that's Paris all over. There isn't a
street, or a public building, or a statue, or a fountain, or a thing
that doesn't shout at you, 'Look at me! Think about me! Your admiration
or your life!' Those Frenchmen don't mind it because it only repeats
what they're always saying themselves, but if you're a foreigner it gets
on your nerves. That city is too uniformly fine to be of much use to
me--it keeps me all the time wondering why I'm not in one eternal good
humour to match. There's good old London now--always looks, I should
think, just as you feel. Looks like history, too, and change, and
contrast, and the different varieties of the human lot."

"I see what you mean, poppa," I said. "There's too much equality in
Paris, isn't there--to be interesting," but the Senator was too deeply
engaged in getting out momma's smelling salts to corroborate this
interpretation.

It is a very long way to Genoa if you don't stop at Aix-les-Bains or
anywhere--twenty-four hours--but Mont Cenis occurs in the night, which
is suitable in a tunnel. There came a chill through the darkness that
struck to one's very marrow, and we all rose with one accord and groped
about for more rugs. When broad daylight came it was Savoy, and we
realised what we had been through. The Senator was inclined to deplore
missing the realisation of the Mont Cenis, and it was only when momma
said it was a pity he hadn't taken a train that would have brought us
through in the daytime and enabled him to examine it, that he ceased to
express regret. My parents are often vehicles of philosophy for each
other.

Besides, in the course of the morning the Senator acknowledged that he
got more tunnels than he had any idea he had paid for. They came with a
precipitancy that interfered immensely with any connected idea of the
scenery, though momma, in my interest, did her best to form one. "Note,
my love," she said, as we began to penetrate the frontier country, "that
majestic blue summit on the horizon to the left"--obliteration, and
another tunnel! "_Don't_ miss that jagged line of snows just beyond the
back of poppa's head, dear one. Quick! they are melting away!"--but the
next tunnel was quicker. "Put down that the dazzling purity of these
lovely peaks must be realised, for it cannot be"--darkness, and the
blight of another tunnel. It was very hard on momma's imagination, and
she finally accepted the Senator's warning that it would be thrown
completely out of gear if she went on, and abandoned the attempt to form
complete sentences between tunnels. It was much simpler to exclaim
"Splendid!" or "Glorious!" which one could generally do without being
interrupted.

We were not prepared to enjoy anything when we arrived at Genoa, but
there was Christopher Columbus in bronze, just outside the station in a
little place by himself, and we felt bound to give him our attention
before we went any further. He was patting America on the head, both of
them life size, and carrying on that historical argument with his
sailors in bas-relief below; and he looked a very fine character. As
poppa said, he was just the man you would pick out to discover America.
The Senator also remarked that you could see from the position of the
statue, right there in full view of the travelling public, that the
Genoese thought a lot of Columbus; relied upon him, in fact, as their
biggest attraction. Momma examined him from the carriage. She said it
was most gratifying to see him there in his own home, so to speak; but
her enthusiasm did not induce her to get out. Momma's patriotism has
always to be considered in connection with the state of her nerves.

The state of all our nerves was healed in a quarter of an hour. The
Senator showed his coupons somewhat truculently, but they were received
as things of price with disarming bows and real gladness. We were led
through rambling passages into lofty white chambers, with marble floors
and iron bedsteads, full of simplicity and cleanliness, where we removed
all recollections of Paris without being obliged to consider a stuffy
carpet or satin-covered furniture. Italy, in the persons of the
_portier_ and the chambermaid, laid hold of us with intelligible smiles,
and we were charmed. Inside, the place was full of long free lines and
cool polished surfaces, and pleasant curves. Outside, a thick-fronded
palm swayed in the evening wind against a climbing hill of many-tinted,
many-windowed houses, in all the soft colours we knew of before. When
the _portier_ addressed momma as "Signora" her cup of bliss ran over,
and she made up her mind that she felt able, after all, to go down to
dinner.

Remembering their sentiments, we bowed as slightly as possible when we
saw the Miss Binghams across the table, and the Senator threw that into
his voice, as he inquired how they liked _la belle Italie_ so far, and
whether they had had any trouble with their trunks coming in, which
might have given them to understand that his politeness was very
perfunctory. If they perceived it, they allowed it to influence them the
other way, however. They asked, almost as cordially as if we were
middle-class English people, whether we had actually survived that trip
to Versailles, and forbore to comment when we said we had enjoyed it,
beyond saying that if there was one enviable thing it was the American
capacity for pleasure. Yet one could see quite plainly that the vacuum
caused by the absence of the American capacity for pleasure was filled
in their case by something very superior to it.

"This city new to you?" asked the Senator as the meal progressed.

"In a _sense_, yes," replied Miss Nancy Bingham.

"We've never _studied_ it before," said Miss Cora.

"I suppose it has a fascination all its own," remarked momma.

"Oh, rather!" exclaimed Miss Nancy Bingham, and I reflected that when
she was in England she must have seen a great deal of school-boy
society. I decided at once, noting its effect upon the lips of a
middle-aged maiden lady, that momma must not be allowed to pick up the
expression.

"It's simply full of associations of old families--the Dorias, the
Pallavicinis, the Durazzos," remarked Miss Cora. "Do you gloat on the
medieval?"

"We're perfectly prepared to," said the Senator. "I believe we've got
both Murray and Baedeker for this place. Now do you commit your facts to
memory before going to bed the night previous, or do you learn them up
as you go along?"

"Oh," said Miss Nancy Bingham, "we are of the opinion that one should
always visit these places with a mind prepared. Though I myself have no
objection to carrying a guide-book, provided it is covered with brown
paper."

"Then you acquire it all beforehand," commented the Senator. "That, I
must say, is commendable of you. And it's certainly the only
business-like way of proceeding. The amount of time a person loses
fooling over Baedeker on the spot----"

"One of us does," acknowledged Miss Nancy. "We take it in turns. And I
must say it is generally my sister." And she turned to Miss Cora, who
blushed and said, "How can you, Nancy!"

"And you use her, for that particular public building or historic
scene, as a sort of portable, self-acting reference library," remarked
poppa. "That's an idea that commends itself to me, daughter, in
connection with you."

I was about to reply in terms of deprecation, when a confusion of sound
drifted in from the street, of arriving cabs and expostulating voices.
The Miss Binghams looked at each other in consternation and said with
one accord, "It _was_ the _Fulda_!"

"Was it?" inquired poppa. "Do you refer to the German Lloyd steamship of
that name?"

"We do," said Miss Nancy. "About an hour ago we were sure we saw her
steaming into the harbour."

"She comes from New York, I suppose," momma remarked.

"She does indeed," said Miss Nancy, "and she's been lying at the docks
unloading Americans ever since she arrived. And here they are. Cora,
have you finished?"

Cora said she had, and without further parley the ladies rose and
rustled away. Their invading fellow-countrymen gratefully took their
places, and the Senator sent a glance of scorn after them strong enough
to make them turn round. After dinner, we saw a collection of cabin
trunks and valises standing in the entrance hall labelled BINGHAM,
and knew that Miss Nancy and Miss Cora were again in flight before the
Nemesis of the American Eagle. I will not repeat poppa's sentiments.

On the hotel doorstep next morning waited Alessandro Bebbini. He waited
for us--an hour and a half, because momma had some re-packing to do and
we were going on next day. Nobody had asked him to wait, but he had a
carriage ready and the look of having been ordered three months
previously. He presented his card to the Senator, who glanced at him and
said, "Do I _look_ as if I wanted a shave?"

Alessandro Bebbini smiled--an olive flash of pity and amusement. "I make
not the shava, Signore," he said, "I am the courier--for your kind
dispositione I am here."

"You should _never_ judge foreigners by their appearance, Alexander,"
rebuked momma.

"Well, Mr. Bebbini," said the Senator, "I guess I've got to apologise to
you. You see they told me inside there that I should probably find a--a
tonsorial artist out here on the steps"--poppa never minds telling a
story to save people's feelings. "But you haven't convinced me," he
continued, "that I've got any use for a courier."

"You wish see Genoa--is it not?"

"Well, yes," replied the Senator, "it is."

"Then with me you come alonga. I will translate you the city--shoppia,
pallass--w'at you like. Also I am not dear man neither. In the season
yes. Then I am very dear. But now is nobody."

"What does your time cost to buy?" demanded poppa.

"Very cheap price. Two francs one hour. Ten francs one day. But if with
you I travel, make arrangimento, you und'stan', look for traina--'otel,
_biglietto, bagaglia_--then I am so little you laugh. Two 'undred franc
the month!" and Alessandro indicated with every muscle of his body the
amazement he expected us to feel.

The Senator turned to the ladies of his family. "Now that I think of
it," he said, "travels in Italy are never written without a courier.
People wouldn't believe they were authentic. And Bramley said if you
really wanted to enjoy yourself it was folly not to engage one."

"I suppose there's more _choice_ in the season," said momma, glancing
disapprovingly at Alessandro's swarthy collar. "And I confess I should
have expected them to be garbed more picturesquely."

"Look at his language," I remarked. "You can't have everything."

The Senator said that was so. "I believe you can come along, Mr.
Bebbini," he said; "we're strangers here and we'll get you to help us to
enjoy ourselves for a month on the terms you name. You can begin right
away."

Alessandro bowed and waved us to the carriage. It was only the ordinary
commercial bow of Italy, but I could see that it made a difference to
momma. He saw us seated and was climbing on the box when poppa
interfered. "There's no use trying to work it that way," he said; "we
can't ask you to twist your head off every time you emit a piece of
information. Besides, there's no sense in your riding on the box when
there's an extra seat. You won't crowd us any, Mr. Bebbini, and I guess
we can refrain from discussing family matters for _one_ hour."

So we started, with Mr. Bebbini at short range.

"I think," said he, "you lika first off the 'ouse of Cristoforo
Colombo."

"I don't see how you knew," said poppa, "but you are perfectly correct.
Cristoforo was one of the most distinguished Americans on the roll of
history, and we, also, are Americans. At once, at once to the habitation
of Cristoforo."

Alessandro leaned forward impressively.

"Who informa you Cristoforo Colombo was Americano? Better you don't
believe these other guide--ignoranta fella. Cristoforo was Genoa man,
born here, you und'stan'? Italiano. Only live in America a lill'
w'ile--to discover, you und'stan'?"

"Mr. Bebbini," said poppa, "if you go around contradicting Americans on
the subject of Christopher Columbus your business will decrease. As a
matter of fact, Christopher wasn't born, he was made, and America made
him. He has every right to claim to be considered an American, and it
was a little careless of him not to have founded a family there. We make
excuses for him--it's quite true he had very little time at his
disposal--but we feel it, the whole nation of us, to this day."

The Via Balbi was cheerfully crooked and crowded, it had the modern
note of the street car, and the mediæval one of old women, arms akimbo,
in the nooks and recesses, selling big black cherries and bursting figs.
Even the old women though, as momma complained, wore postilion basques
and bell skirts, certainly in an advanced stage of usefulness, but of
unmistakable genesis--just what had been popular in Chicago a year or
two before.

"Really, my love," said momma, "I don't know _what_ we shall do for
description in Genoa, the people seem to wear no clothes worth
mentioning whatever." We concluded that all the city's characteristically
Italian garments were in the wash; they depended in novel cut and colour
from every window that did not belong to a bank or a university; and
sometimes, when the side street was narrow and the houses high, the effect
was quite imposing. Poppa asked Alessandro Bebbini whether they were
expecting royalty or anything, or whether it was like this every washing
day, and we gathered that there was nothing unusual about it. But poppa
said I had better mention it so that people might be prepared. Personally,
I rather liked the display, it gave such unexpected colour and incident to
those high-shouldering, narrow by-ways we looked down into from the upper
level of the Via Balbi, where only here and there the sun strove through,
and all the rest was a rich toned mystery; but there may be others like
momma, who prefer the clothes line of the Occident and the privacy of the
back yard.

The two sides of the _Via Poverina_ almost touched foreheads. "Yes,"
said Alessandro Bebbini apologetically, "it is a _ver'_ tight street."

Poppa was extremely pleased with the appearance of the house of
Christopher Columbus, which Alessandro pointed out in the Via Assorotti.
It was a comfortable looking edifice, with stone giants supporting the
arch of the doorway, in every respect suitable as the residence of a
retired navigator of distinction. Poppa said it was very gratifying to
find that Cristoforo had been able, in his declining years, when he was
our only European representative, to keep his end up with credit to
America.

You so often found the former abodes of glorious names with a modern
rental out of all proportion with their historic interest. This house,
poppa calculated, would let to-day at a figure discreditable neither to
Cristoforo himself, nor to the United States of America. Mr. Bebbini,
unfortunately, could not tell him what that figure was.

On the steps of San Lorenzo Cathedral momma paused and cast a searching
glance into all the corners.

"Where are the beggars?" she inquired, not without injury. "I have
_always_ been given to understand that church entrances in Italy were
disgracefully thronged with beggars of the lowest type. I have never
seen a picture of a sacred building without them!"

"So that was why you wanted so much small change, Augusta," said the
Senator. "Mr. Bebbini says there's a law against them nowadays. Now that
you mention it, I'm disappointed there too. Municipal progress in Italy
is something you've not prepared for somehow. I daresay if we only knew
it, they're thinking of lighting this town with electricity, and the
Board of Aldermen are considering contracts for cable cars."

"Do not inquire, Alexander," begged momma, but the Senator had fallen
behind with Mr. Bebbini in earnest conversation, and we gathered that
its import was entirely modern.

It was our first Italian church and it was impressive, for a President
of the French Republic had just fallen to the knife of an Italian
assassin, and from the altar to the door San Lorenzo was in mourning and
in penance. Masses for his soul's repose had that day been said and
sung; near the door hung a request for the prayers of all good
Christians to this end. Many of the grave-eyed people that came and went
were doubtless about this business, but one, I know, was there on a
private errand. He prayed at a chapel aside, kneeling on the floor
beside the railings, his cap in his hands, grasping it just as the
peasant in The Angelus grasps his. Inside the altar hung a picture of a
pitying woman, and there were candles and foolish flowers of tinsel, but
beside these, many tokens of hearts, gold and silver, thick below the
altar, crowding the partition walls. The hearts were grateful
ones--Alessandro explained in an undertone--brought and left by many
who had been preserved from violent death by the saint there, and he who
knelt was a workman just from hospital, who had fallen, with his son,
from a building. The boy had been killed, the father only badly hurt.
His heart token was the last--a little common thing--and tied with no
rejoiceful ribbon but with a scrap of crape. I hoped Heaven would see
the crape as well as the tribute. When we went away he was still
kneeling in his patched blue cotton clothes, and as the saint had very
beautiful kind eyes, and all the tinsel flowers were standing in the
glowing light of stained glass, and the voice of the Church had begun to
speak too, through the organ, I daresay he went away comforted.

Momma says there is only one thing she recollects clearly about San
Lorenzo, and that is the Chapel of St. John the Baptist. This does not
remain in her memory because of the _Cinquecento_ screen or the
altar-canopy's porphyry pillars which we know we must have seen because
the guide-book says they are there, but because of the fact that Pope
Innocent the Eighth had it closed to our sex for a long time, except on
one day of the year, on account of Herodias. Momma considered this
extremely invidious of Innocent the Eighth, and said it was a thing no
man except a Pope would have thought of doing. What annoyed poppa was
that she seemed to hold Alessandro Bebbini responsible, and covered him
with reproaches, in the guise of argument, which he neither deserved nor
understood. And when poppa suggested that she was probably as much to
blame for Herodias's conduct as Mr. Bebbini was for the Pope's, she said
that had nothing whatever to do with it, and she thanked Heaven she was
born a Protestant anyway, distinctly implying that Herodias was a Roman
Catholic. And if poppa didn't wish her back to give out altogether,
would he please return to the carriage.

We wandered through a palace or two and thought how interesting it must
have been to be rich in the days of "Sir Horatio Palavasene, who robbed
the Pope to pay the Queen." Wealth had its individuality in those days,
and expressed itself with truth and splendour in sculpture, and picture,
and tapestry, and precious things, with the picturesqueness of contrast
and homage. As the Senator said, a banquet hall did not then suggest a
Fifth Avenue hairdresser's saloon. But now the Genoese merchant-princes
would find that their state had lost its identity in machine made
imitations, and that it would be more distinguished to be poor, since
poverty is never counterfeited. But poppa declined to go as far as that.

Alessandro, as we drove round and up the winding roads that take one to
the top of Genoa--the hotels and the palaces and the churches are mostly
at the bottom--was full of joyous and rapid information. Especially did
he continue to be communicative on the subject of Christopher Columbus,
and if we are not now assured of the school that discoverer attended in
his youth, and the altar rails before which he took the first communion
of his early manhood, and the occupation of his wife's parents, and
many other matters concerning him, it is the fault of history and not
that of Alessandro Bebbini. After a cathedral and a palace and a long
drive, this was bound to have its effect, and I very soon saw resentment
in the demeanour of both my parents. So much so, that when we passed the
family group in memory of Mazzini, and Alessandro explained dramatically
that "the daughter he sitta down and cryo because his father is a-dead,"
poppa said, "Is that so?" without the faintest show of excitement, and
momma declined even to look round.

It was not until the evening, however, when we were talking to some
Milwaukee people, that we remembered, with the assistance of Baedeker
and the Milwaukee people, a number of facts about Columbus that deprived
Alessandro's information of its commercial value, while leaving his
ingenuity, so to speak, at par. The Senator was so much annoyed, as he
had made a special note of the state of preservation in which he had
found the dwelling of our discoverer, that he had recourse to the most
unscrupulous means of relieving us of Alessandro--who was to present
himself next morning at eleven. He wrote an impulsive letter to "A.
Bebbini, Esq.," which ran:

     "SIR: I find that we are too credulous a family to travel in
     safety with a courier. When you arrive at the hotel
     to-morrow, therefore, you will discover that we have fled
     by an earlier train. We take it from no personal objection
     to your society, but from a rooted and unconquerable
     objection to brass facts. I enclose your month's salary and
     a warning that any attempt to follow me will be fruitless
     and expensive."

                                        "Yours truly,"
                                                 "J.P. WICK."

The Senator assured me afterwards that this was absolutely
necessary--that A. Bebbini, if we introduced him in any quantity, would
ruin the sale of our work, and if he accompanied us it would be
impossible to keep him out. He said we ought to apologize for having
even mentioned him in a book of travels which we hope to see taken
seriously. And we do.



CHAPTER IX.


Momma wishes me to state that the word Italy, in any language, will for
ever be associated in her mind with the journey from Genoa to Pisa. We
had our own lunch basket, so no baneful anticipation of cutlets fried in
olive oil marred the perfect satisfaction with which we looked out of
the windows. One window, almost the whole way, opened on a low
embankment which seemed a garden wall. Olives and lemon trees grew
beyond it and dropped over, and it was always dipping in the sunlight to
show us the roses and the shady walks of the villas inside, white and
remote; now and then we saw the pillared end of a verandah or a plaster
Neptune ruling a restricted fountain area. Out of the other window
stretched the blue Gulf of Genoa all becalmed and smiling, with freakish
little points and headlines, and here and there the white blossom of a
sail. The Senator counted eighty tunnels--he wants that fact mentioned
too--some of them so short that it was like shutting one's eyes for an
instant on the olives and the sea. Nevertheless it was an idyllic
journey, and at four o'clock in the afternoon we saw the Leaning Tower
from afar, describing the precise angle that it does in the illustrated
geographies. Momma was charmed to recognise it, she blew it a kiss of
adulation and acclaim, while we yet wound about among the environs, and
hailed it "Pisa!" It was as if she bowed to a celebrity, with the homage
due.

What the Senator called our attention to as we drove to the hotel was
the conspicuous part in municipal politics played by that little old
brown river Arno. In most places the riparian feature of the landscape
is not insisted on--you have usually to go to the suburbs to find it,
but in Pisa it is a sort of main street, with the town sitting
comfortably and equally on each side of it looking on. Momma and I both
liked the idea of a river in town scenery, and thought it might be
copied with advantage in America, it afforded such a good excuse for
bridges. Pisa's three arched stone ones made a reason for settling there
in themselves in our opinion. The Senator, however, was against it on
conservancy grounds, and asked us what we thought of the population of
Pisa. And we had to admit that for the size of the houses there weren't
very many people about. The Lungarno was almost empty except for
desolate cabmen, and they were just as eager and hospitable to us and
our trunks as they had been in Genoa.

In the Piazza del Duomo we expected the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower,
the Baptistry, and the Campo Santo. We did not expect Mrs. Portheris; at
least, neither of my parents did--I knew enough about Dicky Dod not to
be surprised at any combination he might effect. There they all were in
the middle of the square bit of meadow, apparently waiting for us, but
really, I have no doubt, getting an impression of the architecture as a
whole. I could tell from Mrs. Portheris's attitude that she had
acknowledged herself to be gratified. Strange to relate, her
gratification did not disappear when she saw that these mediæval
circumstances would inconsistently compel her to recognise very modern
American connections. She approached us quite blandly, and I saw at once
that Dicky Dod had been telling her that poppa's chances for the
Presidency were considered certain, that the Spanish Infanta had stayed
with us while she was in Chicago at the Exhibition, and that we fed her
from gold plate. It was all in Mrs. Portheris's manner.

"Another unexpected meeting!" she exclaimed. "My dear Mrs. Wick, you
_are_ looking worn out! Try my sal volatile--I insist!" and in the
general greeting momma was seen to back violently away from a long
silver bottle in every direction. Poppa had to interfere. "If it's all
the same to you, Aunt Caroline," he said, "Mrs. Wick is quite as usual,
though I think the Middle Agedness of this country is a little trying
for her at this time of year. She's just a little upset this morning by
seeing the cook plucking a rooster down in the backyard before he'd
killed it. The rooster was in great affliction, you see, and the way he
crowed got on momma's nerves. She's been telling us about it ever since.
But we hope it will pass off."

Mrs. Portheris expanded into that inevitable British story of the
officer who reported of certain tribes that they had no manners and
their customs were abominable, and I, at a mute invitation from Dicky,
stepped aside to get the angle of the Tower from a better point of view.

Mr. Dod was depressed, so much so that he came to the point at once. "I
hope you had a good time in Genoa," he said. "We should have been there
now, only I knew we should never catch up to you if we didn't skip
something. So I heard of a case of cholera there, and didn't mention
that it was last year. Quite enough for Her Ex. I say, though--it's no
use."

"Isn't it?" said I. "Are you sure?"

"Pretty confoundedly certain. The British lion's getting there, in great
shape--the brute. All the widow's arranging. With the widow it's 'Mr.
Dod, you will take care of _me_, won't you?' or 'Come now, Mr. Dod, and
tell me all about buffalo shooting on your native prairies'--and Mr. Dod
is a rattled jay. There's something about the mandate of a middle-aged
British female."

"I should think there was!" I said.

"Then Maffy, you see, walks in. They don't seem to have much
conversation--she regularly brightens up when I come along and say
something cheerful--but he's gradually making up his mind that the best
isn't any too good for him."

"Perhaps we don't begin so well in America," I interrupted
thoughtfully. "But then, we don't develop into Mrs. P.'s either."

Dicky seemed unable to follow my line of thought. "I must say," he went
on resentfully, "I like--well, just a _smell_ of constancy about a man.
A fellow that's thrown over ought to be in about the same shape as a
widower. But not much Maffy. I tried to work up his feelings over the
American girl the other night--he was as calm!"

"Dicky," said I, "there are subjects a man _must_ keep sacred. You must
not speak to Mr. Mafferton of his first--attachment again. They never do
it in England, except for purposes of fiction."

"Well, I worked that racket all I knew. I even told him that American
girls as often as not changed their minds."

"_Richard!_ He will think I--what _will_ he think of American girls! It
was excessively wrong of you to say that--I might almost call it
criminal!"

Dicky looked at me in pained surprise. "Look here, Mamie," he said, "a
fellow in my fix, you know! Don't get excited. How am I going to confide
in you unless you keep your hair on!"

"What, may I ask, did Mr. Mafferton say when you told him that?" I asked
sternly.

"He said--now you'll be madder than ever. I won't tell you."

"Mr. Dod--Dicky, haven't we been friends from infancy!"

"Played with the same rattle. Cut our teeth together."

"Well then----"

"Well then," he said, "do you mind putting your parasol straight? I like
to see the person I'm talking to, and besides the sun is on the other
side. He said he didn't think it was a privilege that should be extended
to all cases."

"He did, did he?" I rejoined calmly. "That's like the British--isn't
it?"

"It would have made such a complication if I'd kicked him," confessed
Mr. Dod.

The Senator, momma, and Mrs. Portheris stood in the cathedral door.
Isabel and Mr. Mafferton occupied the middle distance. Mr. Mafferton
stooped to add a poppy to a slender handful of wild flowers he held out
to her. Isabel was looking back.

"It will be pleasant inside the Duomo," I said. "Let us go on. I feel
warm. I agree with you that the situation is serious, Dicky. Look at
those poppies! When an Englishman does that you may make up your mind to
the worst. But I don't think anybody need have the slightest respect for
the affections of Mr. Mafferton."

Inside the Duomo it was pleasant, and cool, and there was a dim
religious light that gave one an opportunity for reflection. I was so
much engaged in reflection that I failed to notice the shape of the
Duomo, but I have since learned that it was a basilica, in the form of
a Latin cross, and was simply full of things which should have claimed
my attention. Momma took copious notes from which I see that the Madonna
and Child holy water basin was perfectly sweet, and the episcopal throne
by Uervellesi in 1536 was the finest piece of tarsia work in the world,
and the large bronze hanging lamp by Vincenzo Possento was the object
which assisted Galileo to invent the oscillations of the pendulum. The
Senator was much taken with the inlaid wooden stalls in the choir, the
subjects were so lively. He and his Aunt Caroline nearly came to words
over a monkey regarding its reflection in a looking glass, done with a
realism which Mrs. Portheris considered little short of profane, but
which poppa found quite an excusable filip to devotions which must have
been such an all day business in the sixteenth century. Outside,
however, poppa found it difficult to approve the façade. To throw four
galleries over the street door, he said, with no visible means of
getting into them or possible object for sitting there, was about the
most ridiculous waste of building space he had yet observed.

"But then," said Dicky Dod, who kept his disconsolate place by my side,
"they didn't seem to know how to waste enough in those pre-elevator
days. Look at the pictures and the bronzes and the marble columns inside
there--ten times as much as they had any use for. They just heaped it
up."

"That's so, Dicky, my boy," replied poppa; "we could cover more ground
with the money in our century. But you've got to remember that they
hadn't any other way worth mentioning of spending the taxes. Religion,
so to speak, was the boss contractor's only line."

Dicky remarked that it had to be admitted he worked it on the square,
and momma said that no doubt people built as well as they knew how at
that time, but nothing should induce her to add her weight to the top of
the Leaning Tower.

"It is very remarkable and impressive," said momma, "the idea of its
hanging over that way all these centuries, just on the drop and never
dropping, but who knows that it may not come down this very day!"

"My dear niece, if I may call you so," remarked Mrs. Portheris urbanely,
"it was thus that the builders designed this great monument to stand; in
its inclination lies the triumph of their art."

"I can't say I agree with you there, Aunt Caroline," said poppa; "that
tower was never meant to stand crooked. It's a very serious defect, and
if it happened nowadays, it would justify any Municipal Board in
repudiating the contract. Even those fellows, you see, were too sick to
go on with it, in every case. Begun by Bonanus 1174. Bonanus saw what
was going to happen and gave it up at the third storey. Then Benenato
had _his_ show, got it up to four, and quit, 1203. The next architect
was--let me see--William of Innsbruck. He put on a couple more, and by
that time it began to look dangerous. But nothing happened from 1260 to
1350, and it struck Tomaso Pisano that nothing would happen. He risked
it anyhow, ran up another storey, put the roof on, and came in for the
credit of the whole miracle. I expect Tomaso is at the bottom of that
idea of yours, Aunt Caroline. He would naturally give the reporters that
view."

Mrs. Portheris listened with a tolerance as badly put on as any garment
she was wearing. "I do not usually make assertions," she said when poppa
had finished, "without being convinced of the facts," and I became aware
for the first time that her upper lip wore a slight moustache.

"Well, you'll excuse me, Aunt Caroline----"

"All my life I have heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a feat of
architecture," replied his Aunt Caroline firmly. "I do not propose to
have that view disturbed now."

"Perhaps it _was_ so, my dear love," put in momma deprecatingly, and Mr.
Dod, with a frenzied wink at poppa, called his attention to the
ridiculous Pisan habit of putting immovable fringed carriage-tops on
cabs.

"It undoubtedly was," said Mrs. Portheris, with an embattled front.

"But--Great Scott, aunt!" exclaimed poppa, recklessly, "think what this
place was like--all marsh, with the sea right alongside; not four miles
off as it is now. Why, you couldn't base so much as a calculation on
it!"

"I must say," said Mrs. Portheris in severe surprise, "I knew that
America had made great advances in the world of invention, but I did not
expect to find what looks much like jealousy of the achievements of an
older civilisation."

The Senator looked at his aunt, then he put his hat further back on his
head and cleared his throat. I prepared for the worst, and the worst
would undoubtedly have come if Dicky Dod had not suddenly remembered
having seen a man with a foreign telegram looking for somebody in the
Cathedral.

"It's a feat!" reiterated Mrs. Portheris as the Senator left us in
pursuit of the man with the telegram.

"It's fourteen feet," cried the Senator from a safe distance, "out of
the perpendicular!" and left us to take the consequences.



CHAPTER X.


When momma reported to me Mrs. Portheris's proposition that we should
make the rest of our Continental trip as one undivided party, I found it
difficult to understand.

"These sudden changes of temperature," I remarked, "are trying to the
constitution. Why this desire for the society of three unabashed
Americanisms like ourselves?"

"That's just what I wondered," said momma. "For you can _see_ that she
is full of insular prejudice against our great country. She makes no
attempt to disguise it."

"She never did," I assented.

"She said it seemed so extraordinary--quite providential--meeting
relatives abroad in this way," momma continued, "and she thought we
ought to follow it up."

"Are we going to?" I inquired.

"My goodness gracious no, love! There are some things my nerves cannot
stand the strain of, and one of them is your poppa's Aunt Caroline. The
Senator smoothed it over. He said he was sure we were very much
obliged, but our time was limited, and he thought we could get around
faster alone."

"Well," I said, "I do not understand it, unless Dicky has persuaded her
that poppa is to be our next ambassador to St. James's."

"She was too silly about Dicky," said momma. "She said she really was
afraid, before you appeared, that young Mr. Dod was conceiving an
attachment for her Isabel, whose affections lay _quite_ in another
direction; but now her mind was entirely at rest. I don't remember her
words, she uses so many, but she was trying to hint that poor Dicky was
an admirer of _yours_, dearest."

"I fancy she succeeded--as far as that goes," I remarked.

"Well, yes, she made me understand her. So I felt obliged to tell her
that, though Dicky was a lovely fellow and we were all very fond of him,
anything of _that_ kind was out of the question."

"And what," I asked, "was her reply to that?"

"She seemed to think I was prevaricating. She said she knew what a
mother's hopes and fears were. They seem to take a very low view," added
momma austerely, "of friendship between a young man and a young woman in
England!"

"I should think so!" said I absent-mindedly. "Dicky hasn't made love to
me for three years."

"_What!_"

"Nothing, momma, dear," I replied kindly. "Only I wouldn't contradict
Mrs. Portheris again upon that point, if I were you. She will think it
so improper if Dicky _isn't_ my admirer, don't you see?"

But Mrs. Portheris's desire to join our party stood revealed. Her
constant chaperonage of Dicky was getting a little trying, and she
wanted me to relieve her. I felt so deeply for them both, reflecting
upon the situation, that I experienced quite a glow of virtue at the
thought of my promise to Dicky to stay in Rome till his party arrived.
They were going to Siena--why, Mr. Dod could not undertake to
explain--he had never heard of anything cheerful in connection with
Siena.

"My idea is," said the Senator, "that in Rome"--we were on our way
there--"we'll find our work cut out for us. Think of the objects of
interest involved from Romulus and Remus down to the present Pope!"

"I should like my salts before I begin," said momma, pathetically.

"Over two thousand years," continued the Senator impressively, "and
every year you may be sure has left its architectural imprint."

"Does Baedeker say that, Senator?" I asked, with a certain severity.

"No, the expression is entirely my own; you may take it down and use it
freely. Two thousand years of remains is what we've got before us in
Rome, and pretty well scattered too--nothing like the convenience of
Pisa. I expect we shall have to allow at least four days for it. That
Piazza del Duomo," continued poppa, thoughtfully, "seems to have been
laid out with a view to the American tourist of the future. But I don't
suppose that kind of forethought is common."

"How exquisite it was, that cluster of white marble relics of the past
on the bosom of dusky Pisa. It reminded me," said momma, poetically, "of
an old maid's pearls."

"I should suggest," said the Senator to me, "that you make a note of
that. A little sentiment won't do us any harm--just a little. And they
_are_ like an old maid's pearls in connection with that middle-aged,
one-horse little city. Or I should say a widow's--Pisa was once a bride
of the sea. A grass widow's," improved the Senator. "It's all
meadow-land round there--did you notice?"

"I did not," I said coldly; "but, of course, if I'm to call Pisa a grass
widow, it will have to be. Although I warn you, poppa, that in case of
any critic being able to arise and indicate that it is laid out in
oyster beds, I shall make it plain that the responsibility is yours."

We were speeding through Tuscany, and the vine-garlanded trees in the
orchards clasped hands and danced along with us. The sky would have told
us we were in Italy if we had come on a magic carpet without a compass
or a time-table. Poppa says we are not, under any circumstances, to
mention it more than once, but that we might as well explode the fallacy
that there is anything like it in America. There isn't. Our cerulean is
very beautifully blue, but in Italy one discovers by contrast that it
is an intellectual blue, filled with light, high, provocative. The sky
that bends over Tuscany is the very soul of blue, deep, soft, intense,
impenetrable--the sky that one sees in those little casual bits of
landscape behind the shoulders of pre-Raphaelite Saints and Madonnas;
and here and there a lake, giving it back with delight, and now and then
the long slope of a hill, with an old yellow-walled town creeping up,
castle crowned, and raggedly trimmed with olives; and so many ruins that
the Senator, summoned by momma to look at the last in view, regarded it
with disparagement, which he did not attempt to conceal. He wondered, he
said, that the Italian Government wasn't ashamed of having such a lot of
them. They might be picturesque, but they weren't creditable; they gave
you the impression that the country was on the down grade. "You needn't
call my attention to any more of them, Augusta," he added; "but if you
see any building that looks like progress, now, anything that gives you
the idea of modern improvements inside, I shouldn't like to miss it."
And he returned to the thirty-second page of the Sunday _New York
World_.

"I sometimes wish," said momma, "that I were not the only person in this
family with the artistic temperament."

Sometimes we stopped at the little yellow towns and saw quite closely
their queer old defences and belfrys and clock towers, and guessed at
the pomegranates and oleanders behind their high courtyard walls. They
had musical names, even in the mouths of the railway guards, who sang
every one of them with a high note and a full octave on the syllable of
stress--"Rosign_a_no!" "Car_m_iglia!" The Senator was fascinated with
the spectacle of a railway guard who could express himself intelligibly,
to say nothing of the charm; he spoke of introducing the system in the
United States, but we tried it on "New York," "Washington," "Kansas
City," and it didn't seem the same.

It was at Orbatello, I think, that we made the travelling acquaintance
of the enterprising little gentleman to whom momma still mysteriously
alludes as "il capitano." He bowed ceremoniously as he entered the
carriage and stowed the inevitable enormous valise in the rack, and his
eye brightened intelligently as he saw we were a family of American
tourists. He wore a rather seamy black uniform and a soft felt hat with
cocks' feathers drooping over it, and a sword and a ridiculously amiable
expression for a man. I don't think he was five feet high, but his
moustache and his feathers and his sword were out of all proportion.
There was a gentle trustful exuberance about him which suggested that,
although it was possibly twenty-five years since he was born, his age
was much less than that. He twirled his moustache in voluble silence for
ten minutes while we all furtively scrutinised him with the curiosity
inspired by a foreigner of any size, and then with a smile of conscious
sweetness he asked the Senator if he might take the liberty to give the
trouble to see the English newspaper for a few seconds only. "I should
be too thankful," he added.

"Why certainly," said poppa, much gratified. "I see you spikkum
English," he added encouragingly.

"I speak--um, _si_. I have learned some--a few of them. But O very
baddili I speak them!"

"I guess that's just your modesty," said poppa kindly. "But that's not
an English paper, you know--it's published in New York."

"Ah!" he exclaimed with enthusiasm. "That will be much _much_ the more
pleasurable for me." His eyes shone with feeling. "In Italy," he added
with an impulsive gesture, "we love the American peoples beyond the
Londonian. We always remember that it was an Italian, Cristoforo
Col----"

"I know," said poppa. "Very nice of you. But what's your reason now, for
preferring Americans as a nation?"

We saw our first Italian shrug. It is more prolonged, more sentimental
than French ones. In this case it expressed the direct responsibility of
Fate.

"I think," he said, "that they are more _simpatica_--sympatheticated to
us." He seemed to be unaware of me, but his eye rested upon momma at
this point, and took her into his confidence.

"We also," said she reciprocally, "are always charmed to see Italians in
our country."

I wondered privately whether she was thinking of hand organ men or
members of the Mafia society, but it was no opportunity to inquire. My
impression is that about this time, in spite of Tuscany outside, I went
to sleep, because my next recollection is of the little Captain pouring
Chianti out of a large black bottle into momma's jointed silver
travelling cup. I remember thinking when I saw that, that they must have
made progress. Scraps of conversation floated through my waking moments
when the train stopped--I heard momma ask him if his parents were both
living and where his home was. I also understood her to inquire whether
the Italians were domestic in their tastes or whether they were like the
French, who, she believed, had no home life at all. I saw the Senator
put a card in his pocket-book and restore it to his breast, and heard
him inquire whether his new Italian acquaintance wore his uniform every
day as a matter of choice or because he had to. An hour went by, and
when I finally awoke it was to see momma sitting by with folded hands
and an expression of much gratification while poppa gave a graphic
account of the rise and progress of the American baking-powder interest.
"I don't expect," said he, "you've ever heard of Wick's Electric
Corn-flour?"

"It is my misfortune."

"We sent thousands of cans to Southern Europe last year, sir. Or Wick's
Sublimated Soda?"

"I am stupidissimo."

"No, not at all. But I daresay your momma knows it, if she ever has
waffles on her breakfast table. Well, it's been a kind of kitchen
revolution. We began by making a hundred pounds a week--and couldn't
always get rid of it. Now--why the day before I sailed we sent six
thousand cans to the Queen of Madagascar. I hope she'll read the
instructions!"

"It takes the breath. What splendid revenue must be from that!"

The Senator merely smiled, and played with his watch chain. "I should
hate to brag," he said, but anyone could see from the absence of a
diamond ring on his little finger that he was a person of weight in his
community.

"Oh!" said momma, "my daughter is awake at last! Mamie, let me introduce
Count Filgiatti. Count, my daughter. What a pity you went to sleep,
love. The Count has been giving us _such_ a delightful afternoon."

The carriage swayed a good deal as the Count stood up to bow, but that
had no effect either upon the dignity or the gratification he expressed.
His pleasure was quite ingratiating, or would have been if he had been a
little taller. As it was, it was amusing, and I recognised an
opportunity for the study of Italian character. I don't mean that I made
up my mind to avail myself of it, but I saw that the opportunity was
there.

"So you've been reading the _New York World_," I said kindly.

"I have read, yes, two _avertissimi_. Not more, I fear. But they are
also amusing, the _avertissimi_." His voice was certainly agreeably
deferential, with a note of gratitude.

"Now, if you wouldn't mind taking the corner opposite my daughter,
Count Filgiatti," put in poppa, "you and she could talk more
comfortably, and Mrs. Wick could put her feet up and get a little nap."

"I am too happy if I shall not be a trouble to Mees," the Count
responded, beaming. And I said, "Dear me, no; how could he?" at which he
very obligingly changed his seat.

I hardly know how we drifted into abstract topics. The Count's English
was so bad that my sense of humour should have confined him to the
weather and the scenery; but it is nevertheless true that about an hour
later, while the landscape turned itself into a soft, warm chromo in the
fading sunset, and both my parents soundly slept, we were discussing the
barrier of religion to marriage between Protestants and Roman Catholics.
I did not hesitate to express the most liberal sentiments.

"Since there are to be no marriages in heaven," I said, "what difference
can it make, in married life, how people get there?"

"The signor and signora think also so?"

"Oh, I daresay poppa and momma have got their own opinions," I said,
"but that is mine."

"You do not think as they!" he exclaimed.

"I don't know what they think," I explained. "I haven't asked them. But
I've got my own thinker, you know." I searched for simple expressions,
and I seemed to make him understand.

"So! Then this prejudice is dead for you, Senorita--_mees_?"

"I like 'Senorita' best," I said. "I believe it is." At that moment I
divined that he was a Roman Catholic. How, I don't know. So I added,
"But I've never had the slightest reason to give it a thought."

"That must be," he said softly, "because you never met, Senorita--may I
say this?--one single gentleman w'at is Catholic."

"That's rather clever of you," I said. "Perhaps that _is_ why."

The Italian character struck me as having interesting phases, but I did
not allow this impression to appear. I looked indifferently out of the
window. Italian sunsets are very becoming.

"The signora, your mother, has told me that you have no brothers or
sisters, Mees Wick. She made me the confidence--it was most kind."

"There never has been any secret about it, Count."

"Then you have not even one?" Count Filgiatti's eyes were full of
melancholy sympathy.

"I think," I said with coldness, "that in a matter of that kind, momma's
word should hardly need corroboration."

"Ah, it is sad! With me what difference! Can you believe of eleven? And
the father with the saints! And I of course am the eldest of all."

"Dear me," I said, "what a responsibility!"

"Ah, you recognise! you understand the--the necessities, yes?"

At that moment the train stopped at Civita Vecchia, and the Senator
awoke and put his hat on. "The Eternal City," he remarked when he
descried that the name of the station was not Rome, "appears to have an
eternal railway to match. There seems to be a feeding counter here
though--we might have another try at those slices of veal boiled in
tomatoes and smothered with macaroni that they give the pilgrim stranger
in these parts. You may lead the world in romance, Count, but you don't
put any of it in your railway refreshments."

As we passed out into the smooth-toned talkative darkness, Count
Filgiatti said in my ear, "Mistra and Madame Wick have kindly consented
to receive my visit at the hotel to-morrow. Is it agreeable to you also
that I come?"

And I said, "Why, certainly!"



CHAPTER XI.


We descended next morning to realise how original we were in being in
the plains of Italy in July. The Fulda people and the Miss Binghams and
Mrs. Portheris had prevented our noticing it before, but in the Hotel
Mascigni, Via del Tritone, we seemed to have arrived at a point of arid
solitude, which gave poppa a new and convincing sense of all he was
going through in pursuit of Continental culture. We sat in one corner of
the "Sala di mangiari" at a small square table, and in all the length
and breadth and sumptuousness of that magnificent apartment--Italian
hotel dining-rooms are always florid and palatial--there was only one
other little square table with a cloth on it and an appearance of
expectancy. The rest were heaped with chairs, bottom side up, with their
legs in the air; the chandeliers were tied up in brown holland, and
through a depressed and exhausted atmosphere, suggestive of magnificent
occasions temporarily in eclipse, moved, with a casual languid air, a
very tall waiter and a very short one. At mysterious exits to the rear
occasionally appeared the form of the _chef_ exchanging plates. It was
borne in upon one that in the season the _chef_ would be remanded to the
most inviolable seclusion.

"Do you suppose Pompeii will be any worse than this?" inquired the
Senator.

"Talk about Americans pervading the Continent," he continued, casting
his eye over the surrounding desolation. "Where are they? I should be
glad to see them. Great Scott! if it comes to that, I should be glad to
see a blooming Englishman!"

It wasn't an answer to prayer, for there had been no opportunity for
devotion, but at that moment the door opened and admitted Mr., Mrs., and
Miss Emmeline Malt, and Miss Callis. The reunion was as rapt as the
Senator and Emmeline could make it, and cordial in every other respect.
Mr. Malt explained that they had come straight through from Paris, as
time was beginning to press.

"We couldn't leave out Rome," he said, "on account of Mis' Malt's
mother--she made such a point of our seeing the prison of Saint Paul. In
her last letter she was looking forward very anxiously to our safe
return to get an account of it. She's a leader in our experience
meetings, and I couldn't somehow make up my mind to face her without
it."

"Poppa," remarked Emmeline, "is not so foolish as he looks."

"We were just wondering," exclaimed momma, "who that table was laid for.
But we never thought of _you_. Isn't it strange?"

We agreed that it was little short of marvellous.

The tall waiter strolled up for the commands of the Malt party. His
demeanour showed that he resented the Malts, who were, nevertheless,
innocent respectable people. As Emmeline ordered "_café au lait pour
tous"_ he scowled and made curious contortions with his lower jaw.
"Anything else you want?" he inquired, with obvious annoyance.

"Yes," said Miss Callis. He further expressed his contempt by twisting
his moustache, and waited in silent disdain.

"I want," said Miss Callis sweetly, leaning forward with her chin
artlessly poised in her hand, "to know if you are paid to make faces at
the guests of this hotel."

There was laughter, above which Emmeline's crow rose loud and clear, and
as the waiter hastened away, suddenly transformed into a sycophant,
poppa remarked, "I see you've got those hotel tickets, too. Let me give
you a little pointer. Say nothing about it until next day. They are like
that sometimes. In being deprived of the opportunity of swindling us,
they feel that they've been done themselves."

"Oh," said Mr. Malt, "we never reveal it for twenty-four hours. That
fellow must have smelled 'em on us. Now, how were you proposing to spend
the day?"

"We're going to the Forum," remarked Emmeline. "Do come with us, Mr.
Wick. We should love to have you."

"We mustn't forget the Count," said momma to the Senator.

[Illustration: "Are you paid to make faces?"]

"What Count?" Emmeline inquired. "Did you ever, momma! Mis' Wick knows
a count. She's been smarter than we have, hasn't she? Introduce him to
us, Mis' Wick."

"Emmeline," said her mother severely, "you are as personal as ever you
can be. I don't know whatever Mis' Wick will think of you."

"She's merely full of intelligent curiosity, Mis' Malt," said Mr. Malt,
who seemed to be in the last stage of infatuated parent. "I know you'll
excuse her," he added to momma, who said with rather frigid emphasis,
"Oh yes, we'll excuse her." But the hint was lost and Emmeline remained.
Poppa looked in his memorandum book and found that the Count was not to
arrive until 3 P.M. There was, therefore, no reason why we should not
accompany the Malts to the Forum, and it was arranged.

A quarter of an hour later we were rolling through Rome. As a family we
were rather subdued by the idea that it was Rome, there was such immense
significance even in the streets with tramways, though it was rather an
atmosphere than anything of definite detail; but no such impression
weighed upon the Malts. They took Rome at its face value and refused to
recognise the unearned increment heaped up by the centuries. However, as
we were divided in two carriages, none of us had all the Malts.

It was warm and dusty, the air had a malarious taste. We drove first, I
remember, to the American druggist's in the Piazza di Spagna for some
magnesia Mrs. Malt wanted for Emmeline, who had prickly heat. It was
annoying to have one's first Roman impressions confused with Emmeline
and magnesia and prickly heat; but Mrs. Malt appeared to think that Rome
attracted visitors chiefly by means of that American druggist. She said
she was perfectly certain we should find an American dentist there, too,
if we only took the time to look him up. I can't say whether she took
the time. We didn't.

It was interesting, the Piazza di Spagna, because that is where
everybody who has read "Roba di Roma" knows that the English and
Americans have lived ever since the days when dear old Mr. Story and the
rest used to coach it from Civita Vecchia--in hotels, and pensions, and
apartments, the people in Marion Crawford's novels. We could only decide
that the plain, severe, many-storied houses with the shops underneath
had charms inside to compensate for their outward lack. Not a tree
anywhere, not a scrap of grass, only the lava pavement, and the view of
the druggist's shop and the tourists' agency office. Miss Callis said
she didn't see why man should be for ever bound up with the vegetable
creation--it was like living in a perpetual salad--and was disposed to
defend the Piazza di Spagna at all points, it looked so nice and
expensive. But Miss Callis's tastes were very distinctly urban.

That druggist's establishment was on the Pincian Hill! It seemed, on
reflection, an outrage. We all looked about us, when we discovered
this, for the other six, and another of the foolish geographical
illusions of the school-room was shattered for each of us. The Rome of
my imagination was as distinctly seven-hilled as a quadruped is
four-legged, the Rome I saw had no eminences to speak of anywhere.
Perhaps, as poppa suggested, business had moved away from the hills and
we should find them in the suburbs, but this we were obliged to leave
unascertained.

Through the warm empty streets we drove and looked at Rome. It was
driving through time, through history, through art, and going backward.
And through the Christian religion, for we started where the pillar of
Pius IX., setting forth the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception,
reaffirmed a modern dogma of the great church across the Tiber; and we
rattled on past other and earlier memorials of that church thick-built
into the Middle Ages, and of the Early Fathers, and of the very
Apostles. All heaped and crowded and over-built, solid and ragged,
decaying and defying decay, clinging to her traditions with both hands,
old Rome jostled before us. Presently uprose a great and crumbling arch
and a difference, and as we passed it the sound of the life of the city
died indistinctly away and a silence grew up, with the smell of the sun
upon grasses and weeds, and we stopped and looked down into Cæsar's
world, which lay below us, empty. We gazed in silence for a moment, and
then Emmeline remarked that she could make as good a Forum with a box of
blocks.

"I shouldn't wonder but what you express the sentiments of all
present," said her father admiringly. "Now is it allowable for us to go
down there and make ourselves at home amongst those antique pillars, or
have we got to take the show in from here?"

"No, Malt," said the Senator, helping the ladies out, "I can't say I
agree with you. It's a dead city, that's what it is, and for my part
I've never seen anything so impressive."

"Mr. Wick," remarked Miss Callis, "has not visited Philadelphia."

"Well, for a municipal cemetery," returned Mr. Malt, "it's pretty
uncared for. If there was any enterprise in this capital it would be
suitably railed in with posts and chains, and a monument inscribed 'Here
lies Rome's former greatness' or something like that. But the Italians
haven't got a particle of go--I've noticed that all through."

We went down the wooden stair, a century at a step, and presently walked
and talked, we seven Americans, in that elder Rome that most people know
so much better than the one with St. Peter's and the Corso, because of
the clinging nature of those early impressions which we construe for
ourselves with painful reference to lists of exceptions. We all felt
that it was a small place to have had so much to say to history, and
were obliged to remind ourselves that we weren't looking at the whole of
it. Poppa acknowledged that his tendency to compare it unfavourably, in
spite of the verdict of history, with Chicago was checked by a smell
from the Cloaca Maxima, which proved that the Ancient Romans probably
enjoyed enteric and sewer gas quite as much as we do, although under
names that are to be found only in dictionaries now. Mrs. Malt said the
place surprised her in being so yellow--she had always imagined pictures
of it to have been taken in the sunset, but now she saw that it was
perfectly natural. Acting upon Mr. Malt's advice, we did not attempt to
identify more than the leading features, and I remember distinctly, in
consequence, that the temple of Castor had three columns standing and
the temple of Saturn had eight, while of the Basilica Julia there was
nothing at all but the places where they used to be. Mrs. Malt said it
made her feel quite idolatrous to look at them, and for her part she
couldn't be sorry they had fallen so much into decay--it was only right
and proper. This launched Mr. and Mrs. Malt and my parents upon a
discussion which threatened to become unwisely polemic if Emmeline had
not briefly decided it in favour of Christianity.

Momma and Mrs. Malt expressed a desire above all things to see the
temple and apartments of the Vestal Virgins, which Miss Callis with some
surprise begged them on no account to mention in the presence of the
gentlemen.

"There are some things," remarked Miss Callis austerely, "from which no
respectable married lady would wish to lift the veil of the classics."

Momma was inclined to argue the point, but Miss Callis looked so
shocked that she desisted.

"Perhaps, Mrs. Wick," she said sarcastically, "you intend to go to see
the Baths of Caracallus!"

To which momma replied certainly _not_, that was a very different thing.
And if I am unable to describe the Baths of Caracallus in this history,
it is on account of Miss Callis's personal influence and the remarkable
development of her sense of propriety.

At momma's suggestion we walked slowly all round the Via Sacra, looking
steadily down at its little triangular original paving-stones, and tried
to imagine ourselves the shackled captives of Scipio. If the party had
not consisted so largely of Emmeline the effort might have been
successful. Fragments of exhumed statuary, discoloured and featureless,
stood tipped in rows along the shorn foundations and inspired in Mr.
Malt a serious curiosity.

"The ancients," said Mr. Malt with conviction, "were every bit as smart
as the moderns, meaning born intelligence. Look at that ear--that ear
took talent. There isn't a terra-cotta factory in the United States that
could turn out a better ear to-day. But they hadn't what we call
gumption, they put all their capital into one line of business, and you
may be sure they swamped the market. If they'd just done a little
inventing now, instead--worried out the idea of steam, or gas, or
electricity--why Rome might never have fallen to this day." And no one
interfered with Mr. Malt's idea that the fall of Rome was a purely
commercial disaster. Doubtless it was out of regard for his feelings,
but he was exactly the sort of man to compel you to prove your
assertion.

We found the boundaries of the first Forum of the Republic, and poppa,
pacing it in a soft felt hat and a silk duster, offered a Senatorial
contrast to history. He looked round him with dignity and made the
gesture which goes with his most sustained oratorical flights. "I
wouldn't have backed up Cato in everything," he said thoughtfully. "No.
There were occasions on which I should have voted against the old man,
and the little American school-boys of to-day would have had to decline
'Mugwumpus' in consequence." And at the thought of Cannæ and Trasimene
the nineteenth century Senator from Illinois fiercely pulled his beard.

We turned our pilgrim feet to where the Colosseum wheels against the sky
and gives up the world's eternal supreme note of splendour and of
cruelty; and along the solitary dusty Appian Way, as if it were a
country lane of the time we know, came a ragged Roman urchin with a
basket. Under the triumphal arch of Titus, where his forefathers jeered
at the Jews in manacled procession, we bargained with him for his purple
plums. He had the eyes and the smile of immemorial Italy for his own,
and the bones of Imperial Rome in equal inheritance, which he also
wished to sell, by the way, in jagged fragments from his trouser
pockets. And it linked up those early days with that particular
afternoon in a curiously simple way to think that from the Cæsars to
King Humbert there has never been a year without just such
brown-cheeked, dark-eyed, imperfectly washed little Roman boys upon the
Appian Way.



CHAPTER XII.


We were too late for the hotel _déjeuner_, and had to order it, I
remember, _à la carte_. That was why the Count was kept waiting. We were
kept waiting, too, which seemed at the moment of more importance, since
the atmosphere of the classics had given us excellent appetites.
Emmeline decided upon ices and _petits fours_ in the Corso for her
party, after which they were going to let nothing interfere with their
inspection of the prison of St. Paul; but we came back and ordered a
haricot. In the cavernous recesses beyond the door which opened
kitchen-ward, commands resounded, and a quarter of an hour later a boy
walked casually through the dining-room bearing beans in a basket. Time
went on, and the Senator was compelled to send word that he had not
ordered the repast for the following day. The small waiter then made a
pretence of activity, and brought vinegar and salt, and rolls and water.
"The peutates is notta-cooks," said he in deprecation, and we were
distressed to postpone the Count for those peutates. But what else was
possible?

The dismaying part was that after luncheon had enabled us to regard a
little thing like that with equanimity, my parents abandoned it to me.
Momma said she knew she was missing a great deal, but she really didn't
feel equal to entertaining the Count; her back had given out completely.
The Senator wished to attend to his mail. With the assistance of his
letters and telegrams he was beginning to bear up wonderfully, and, as
it was just in, I hadn't the heart to interfere. "You can apologise for
us, daughter," said poppa, "and say something polite about our seeing
him later. Don't let him suppose we've gone back on him in any way. It's
a thing no young fellow in America would think of, but with these
foreigners you never can tell."

I saw at once that the Count was annoyed. He was standing in the middle
of the salon, fingering his sword-hilt in a manner which expressed the
most absurd irritation. So I said immediately that I was awfully sorry,
but it seemed so difficult to get anything to eat in Rome at that time
of year, that the head-waiter was really responsible, and wouldn't he
sit down?

"I don't know what you will think of us," I went on as we shook hands.
"How long have you been kind enough to wait, anyway?"

"Since a quarter of an hour--only," replied the Count, with a difficult
smile, "but now that I see you it is forgotten all."

"That's very nice of you," I said. "I assure you momma was quite worked
up about keeping you waiting. It's rather trying to the American
temperament to be obliged to order a hurried luncheon from the
market-gardener."

"So! In America you have him not--the market garden? You are each his
own vegetable. Yes? Ah, how much better than the poor Italian! But
Mistra and Madame Wick, they have not, I hope, the indisposition?"

"Well, I'm afraid they have, Count--something like that. They said I was
to ask you to excuse them. You see they've been sight-seeing the whole
morning, and that's something that can't be done by halves in your city.
The stranger has to put his whole soul into it, hasn't he?"

"Ah, the whole soul! It is too fatiguing," Count Filgiatti assented. He
glanced at me uncertainly, and rose. "Kindly may I ask that you give my
deepest afflictions to Mistra and Madame Wick for their health?"

"Oh," I said, "if you _must_! But I'm here, you know." I put no hauteur
into my tone, because I saw that it was a misunderstanding.

He still hesitated and I remembered that the Filgiatti intelligence
probably dated from the Middle Ages, and had undergone very little
alteration since. "You have made such a short visit," I said. "I must be
a very bad substitute for momma and poppa."

A flash of comprehension illuminated my visitor's countenance. "I pray
that you do not think such a wrong thing," he said impulsively. "If it
is permitted, I again sit down."

"Do," said I, and he did. Anything else would have seemed perfectly
unreasonable, and yet for the moment he twisted his moustache,
apparently in the most foolish embarrassment. To put him at his ease, I
told him how lovely I thought the fountains. "That's one of your most
ideal connections with ancient history, don't you think?" I said. "The
fact that those old aqueducts of yours have been bringing down the water
to sparkle and ripple in Roman streets ever since."

"Idealissimo! And the Trevi of Bernini--I hope you threw the soldi, so
that you must come back to Rome!"

"We weren't quite sure which it was," I responded, "so poppa threw soldi
into all of them, to make certain. Sometimes he had to make two or three
shots," and I could not help smiling at the recollection.

"Ah, the profusion!"

"I don't suppose they came to a quarter of a dollar, Count. It is the
cheapest of your amusements."

The Count reflected for a moment.

"Then you wish to return to Rome," he said softly; "you take interest
here?"

"Why yes," I said, "I'm not a barbarian. I'm from Illinois."

"Then why do you go away?"

"Our time is so limited."

"Ah, Mees Wick, you have all of your life." The Italians certainly have
exquisite voices.

"That is true," I said thoughtfully.

"Many young American ladies now live always in Italy," pursued Count
Filgiatti.

"Is that so?" I replied pleasantly. "They are domiciled here with their
parents?"

"Y--yes. Sometimes it is like that. And sometimes----"

"Sometimes they are working in the studios. I know. A delightful life it
must be."

The Count looked at the carpet. "Ah, signorina, you misunderstand my
poor English," he said; "she means quite different."

It was not coquetry which induced me to cast down my eyes.

"The American young lady will sometimes contract alliance."

"Oh!" I exclaimed.

"Yes. And if it is a good arrangimento it is always quite _quite_
happy."

"We are said," I observed thoughtfully, "to be able, as a people, to
accommodate ourselves to circumstances."

"You approve this idea! Signorina, you are so amiable, it is heavenly."

"I see no objection to it," I said. "It is entirely a matter of taste."

"And the American ladies have much taste," observed Count Filgiatti
blandly.

"I'm afraid it isn't infallible," I said, "but it is charming to hear it
approved."

"The American lady comes in Italy. She is young, beautiful, with a
grace--ah! And perhaps there is a little income--a few dollar--but we do
not speak of that--it is a trifle, only to make possible the
arrangimento."

"I see," I said.

"The American lady is so perceiving--it is also a charm. The Italian
gentleman has a dignity of his. He is perhaps from a family a little
old. It is nothing--the matter is of the heart--but it makes possible
the arrangimento."

"I have read of such things before," I said, "in the newspapers. It is
most amusing to hear them corroborated on the spot. But that is one of
the charms of travel, Count Filgiatti."

The Count hesitated and a shade of indecision crossed his swarthy little
features. Then he added simply, "For me she has always been a vision,
that American lady. It is for this that I study the English. I have
thought, 'When I meet one of those so charming Americans, I will do my
possible.'"

I could not help thinking of that family of eleven and the father with
the saints. It was pathetic to feel one's self a realised vision without
any capacity for beneficence--worse in some respects than being obliged
to be unkind to hopes with no financial basis. It made one feel somehow
so mercenary. But before I could think of anything to say--it was such a
difficult juncture--the Count went on.

"But in the Italian idea it is better first one thing to know--the
agreement of the American signorina. If she will not, the Italian
nobleman is too much disgrace. It is not good to offer the name and the
title if the lady say no, I do not want--take that poor thing away."

How artless it was! Yet my sympathy ebbed immediately. Not my curiosity,
however. Perhaps at this or an earlier point I should have gone blushing
away and forever pondered in secret the problem of Count Filgiatti's
intentions. I confess that it didn't even occur to me--it was such a
little Count and so far beyond the range of my emotions. Instead, I
smiled in a non-committal way and said that Count Filgiatti's prudence
was most unique.

"With a friend to previously discover then it is easy. But perhaps the
lady will have no friends in Italy."

"You would have to be prepared for that," I said. "Certainly."

"Also she perhaps quickly go away. The Americans are so instantaneous.
Maybe my vision fade like--like anything."

"In a perspective of tourists' coupons," I suggested.

For a moment there was silence, through which we could hear the
scrubbing-brush of the chambermaid on the marble hall of the first
floor. It seemed a final note of desolation.

"If I must speak of myself believe me it is not a nobody the Count
Filgiatti," he went on at last. "Two Cardinals I have had in my family
and one is second cousin to the Pope."

"Fancy the Pope's having relations!" I said, "but I suppose there is
nothing to prevent it."

"Nothing at all. In my family I have had many ambassadors, but that was
a little formerly. Once a Filgiatti married with a Medici--but these
things are better for Mistra and Madame Wick to inquire."

"Poppa is very much interested in antiquities, but I'm afraid there will
hardly be time, Count Filgiatti."

"Listen, I will say all! Always they have been much too large, the
families Filgiatti. So now perhaps we are a little _re_duce. But there
is still somethings-ah--signorina, can you pardon that I speak these
things, but the time is so small--there is fifteen hundred lire yearly
revenue to my pocket."

"About three hundred dollars," I observed sympathetically. Count
Filgiatti nodded with the smile of a conscious capitalist. "Then of
course," I said, "you won't marry for money." I'm afraid this was a
little unkind, but I was quite sure the Count would perceive no irony,
and said it for my own amusement.

"_Jamais!_ In Italy you will find that never! The Italian gives always
the heart before--before----"

"The arrangimento," I suggested softly.

"Indeed, yes. There is also the seat of the family."

"The seat of the family," I repeated. "Oh--the family seat. Of course,
being a Count, you have a castle. They always go together. I had
forgotten."

"A castle I cannot say, but for the country it is very well. It is not
amusing there, in Tuscany. It is a little out of repairs. Twice a year I
go to see my mother and all those brothers and sisters--it is enough!
And the Countess, my mother, has said to me two hundred times, 'Marry
with an Americaine, Nicco--it is my command.' 'Nicco,' she calls me--it
is what you call jack-name."

The Count smiled deprecatingly, and looked at me with a great deal of
sentiment, twisting his moustache. Another pause ensued. It's all very
well to say I should have dismissed him long before this, but I should
like to know on what grounds?

"I wish very much to write my mother that I have found the American lady
for a new Countess Filgiatti," he said at last with emotion.

"Well," I said awkwardly, "I hope you will find her."

"Ah, Mees Wick," exclaimed the Count recklessly, "you are that American
lady. When I saw you in the railway I said, 'It is my vision!' At once I
desired to embrace the papa. And he was not cold with me--he told me of
the soda. I had courage, I had hope. At first when I see you to-day I
am a little derange. In the Italian way I speak first with the papa.
Then came a little thought in my heart--no, it is propitious! In America
the daughter maka always her own arrangimento. So I am spoken."

At this I rose immediately. I would not have it on my conscience that I
toyed with the matrimonial proposition of even an Italian Count.

"I think I understand you, Count Filgiatti," I said--There is something
about the most insignificant proposal that makes one blush in a
perfectly absurd way. I have never been able to get over it--"and I fear
I must bring this interview to a close. I----"

"Ah, it is too embarrassing for you! It is experience very new, very
strange."

"No," I said, regaining my composure, "not at all. But the fact is,
Count Filgiatti, the transaction you propose doesn't appeal to me. It is
too business-like to be sentimental, and too sentimental to be
business-like. I'm sorry to seem disobliging, but I really couldn't make
up my mind to marry a gentleman for his ancestors who are dead, even if
he was willing to marry me for my income which may disappear. Poppa is
very speculative. But I know there's a certain percentage of Americans
who think a count with a family seat is about the only thing worth
bringing away from Europe, now that we manufacture so much for
ourselves, and if I meet any of them I'll bear you in mind."

"_Upon my word!_"

It was Mrs. Portheris, in the doorway behind us, just arrived from
Siena.

       *       *       *       *       *

I mentioned the matter to my parents, thinking it might amuse them, and
it did. From a business point of view, however, poppa could not help
feeling a certain amount of sympathy for the Count. "I hope, daughter,"
he said, "you didn't give him the ha-ha to his face."



CHAPTER XIII.


There is the very tenderness of desolation upon the Appian Way. To me it
suggested nothing of the splendour of Roman villas and the tragedy of
flying Emperors. It spoke only of itself, lying over the wide silence of
the noon-day fields, historic doubtless, but noon-day certainly.
Something lives upon the warm stretches of the Appian Way, something
that talks of the eternal and unchangeable, and yet has the pathos of
the fragmentary and the lost. Perhaps it is the ghost of a genius that
has failed of reincarnation, and inspires the weeds and the leaf-shadows
instead. Thinking of it, one remembers only an almond tree in flower,
that grew beside a ruined arch by the wayside--both quite alone in the
sunlight--and perhaps of a meek, young, marble Cecilia, unquestioningly
prostrate, submissive to the axe.

We were on our way to the Catacombs, momma, the Senator, and Mrs.
Portheris in one carriage, R. Dod, Mr. Mafferton, Isabel, and I in the
other. I approved of the arrangement, because the mutually distant
understanding that existed between Mr. Mafferton and me had already been
the subject of remark by my parents. ("For old London acquaintances you
and Mr. Mafferton seem to have very little to say to each other," momma
had observed that very morning.) It was borne in upon me that this was
absurd. People have no business to be estranged for life because one of
them has happened to propose to the other, unless, of course, he has
been accepted and afterwards divorced, which is quite a different thing.
Besides, there was Dicky to think of. I decided that there was a medium
in all things, and to help me to find it I wore a blouse from Madame
Valerie in the Rue de l'Opera, which cost seven times its value, and was
naturally becoming. Perhaps this was going to extreme measures; but he
was a recalcitrant Englishman, and for Dicky's sake one had to think of
everything.

Englishmen have a genius for looking uncomfortable. Their feelings are
terribly mixed up with their personal appearance. It was some time
before Mr. Mafferton would consent to be even tolerably at his ease,
though I made a distinct effort to show that I bore no malice. It must
have been the mere memory of the past that embarrassed him, for the
other two were as completely unaware of his existence as they well could
be in the same carriage. For a time, as I talked in commonplaces, Mr.
Mafferton in monosyllables, and Mr. Dod and Miss Portheris in regards,
the most sordid realist would have hesitated to chronicle our
conversation.

"When," I inquired casually, "are you thinking of going back, Mr.
Mafferton?"

"To town? Not before October, I fancy!"

"Even in Rome," I observed, "London is 'town' to you, isn't it? What a
curious thing insular tradition is!"

"I suppose Rome was invented first," he replied haughtily.

"Why yes," I said; "while the ancestors of Eaton-square were running
about in blue paint and bear-skins, and Albert Gate, in the directory,
was a mere cave. What do you suppose," I went on, following up this line
of thought, "when you were untutored savages, was your substitute for
the Red Book?"

"Really," said this Englishman, "I haven't an idea. Perhaps as you have
suggested they had no ad_dresses_."

For a moment I felt quite depressed. "Did you think it was a conundrum?"
I asked. "You so often remind me of _Punch_, Mr. Mafferton."

I shouldn't have liked anyone to say that to me, but it seemed to have
quite a mollifying effect upon Mr. Mafferton. He smiled and pulled his
moustache in the way Englishmen always do, when endeavouring to absorb a
compliment.

"Dear old London," I went on reminiscently, "what a funny experience it
was!"

"To the Transatlantic mind," responded Mr. Mafferton stiffly, "one can
imagine it instructive."

"It was a revelation to mine," I said earnestly--"a revelation." Then,
remembering Mr. Mafferton's somewhat painful connection with the
revelation, I added carefully, "From a historic point of view. The
Tower, you know, and all that."

"Ah!" said Mr. Mafferton, with a distant eye upon the Campagna.

It was really very difficult.

"Do you remember the day we went to Madame Tussaud's?" I asked. Perhaps
my intonation was a little dreamy. "I shall _never_ forget William the
Conqueror--never."

"Yes--yes, I think I do." It was clearly an effort of memory.

"And now," I said regretfully, "it can never be the same again."

"Certainly not." He used quite unnecessary emphasis.

"William and the others having been since destroyed by fire," I
continued. Mr. Mafferton looked foolish. "What a terrible scene that
must have been! Didn't you feel when all that royal wax melted as if the
dynasties of England had been wrecked over again! What effect did it
have on dear old Victoria?"

"One question at a time," said Mr. Mafferton, and I think he smiled.

"Now you remind me of Sandford and Merton," I said, "and a place for
everything and everything in its place. And punctuality is the thief of
time. And many others."

"You haven't got it _quite_ right," said Mr. Mafferton with incipient
animation. "May I correct you? 'Procrastination,' not 'punctuality.'"

"Thanks," I said. I could not help observing that for quite five minutes
Mr. Mafferton had made no effort to overhear the conversation between
Mr. Dod and Miss Portheris. It was a trifle, but life is made up of
little things.

"I don't believe we adorn our conversation with proverbs in America as
much as we did," I continued. "I guess it takes too long. If you make
use of a proverb you see, you've got to allow for reflection first, and
reflection afterwards, and a sigh, and very few of us have time for
that. It is one of our disadvantages."

Mr. Mafferton heard me with attention.

"Really!" he said in quite his old manner when we used to discuss
Presidential elections and peanuts and other features of life in my
republic. "That is a fact of some interest--but I see you cling to one
little Americanism, Miss Wick. Do you remember"--he actually looked
arch--"once assuring me that you intended to abandon the verb to
'guess'?"

"I don't know why we should leave all the good words to Shakespeare," I
said, "but I was under a great many hallucinations about the American
language in England, and I daresay I did."

If I responded coldly, it was at the thought of my last interview with
poor dear Arthur, and his misprised larynx. But at this moment a wildly
encouraging sign from Dicky reminded me that his interests and not my
own emotions were to be considered.

"We mustn't reproach each other, must we," I said softly. "_I_ don't
bear a particle of malice--really and truly."

Mr. Mafferton cast a glance of alarm at Mr. Dod and Miss Portheris, who
were raptly exchanging views as to the respective merits of a cleek and
a brassey shot given certain peculiar bunkers and a sandy green--as if
two infatuated people talking golf would have ears for anything else!

"Not on any account," he said hurriedly.

"The best quality of friendship sometimes arises out of the most
unfortunate circumstances," I added. The sympathy in my voice was for
Dicky and Isabel.

Mr. Mafferton looked at me expressively and the carriage drew up at the
Catacombs of St. Callistus. Mrs. Portheris was awaiting us by the gate,
however, so in getting out I gave my hand to Dicky.

Inside and outside the gate, how quiet it was. Nothing on the Appian Way
but dust and sunlight, nothing in the field within the walls but
yellowing grass and here and there a field-daisy bending in the silence.
It made one think of an old faded water-colour, washed in with tears,
that clings to its significance though all its reality is gone. Then we
saw a little bare house to the left with an open door, and inside found
Brothers Demetrius and Eusebius in Trappist gowns and ropes, who would
sell us beads for the profitable employment of our souls, and chocolate
and photographs, and wonderful eucalyptus liqueur from the Three
Fountains, and when we had well bought would show us the city of the
long, long dead of which they were custodians. They were both obliging
enough to speak English, Brother Demetrius imperfectly and haltingly,
and without the assistance of those four front teeth which are so
especially necessary to a foreign tongue, Brother Eusebius fluently, and
with such richness of dialect that we were not at all surprised to learn
that he had served his Pope for some years in the State of New York.

"For de ladi de chocolate. Ith it not?" said Brother Demetrius, with an
inducive smile. "It ith de betht in de worl', dis chocolate."

"Don't you believe him," said Brother Eusebius, "he's known as the
oldest of the Roman frauds. Wants your money, that's what he wants."
Brother Demetrius shook his fist in amicable, wagging protest. "That's
the way he goes on, you know--quarrelsome old party. But I don't say
it's bad chocolate. Try it, young lady, try it."

He handed a bit to Isabel, who looked at her momma.

"There is no possible objection, my dear," said Mrs. Portheris, and she
nibbled it.

Dicky invested wildly.

"Dese photograff dey are very pritty," remarked Brother Demetrius to
momma, who was turning over some St. Stephens and St. Cecilias.

"He'd say anything to sell them," put in Brother Eusebius. "He never
thinks of his immortal soul, any more than if he was a poor miserable
heretic. He'll tell you they're originals next, taken by Nero at the
time. You're all good Catholics, of course?"

"We are not any kind of Catholics," said Mrs. Portheris severely.

"I'll give you my blessing all the same, and no extra charge. But the
saints forbid that I should be selling beads made out of their precious
bones to Protestants."

"I'll take that string," said momma.

"I wouldn't do it on any account," continued Brother Eusebius, as he
wrapped them up in blue paper, but momma still attaches a certain amount
of veneration to those beads.

"And what can I do for you, sir?" continued Brother Eusebius to the
Senator, rubbing his hands. "What'll be the next thing?"

"The Early Christians," replied poppa laconically, "if it's all the same
to you."

"Just in half a shake. Don't hurry yourselves. They'll keep, you
know--they've kept a good long while already. Now you, madam," said
Brother Eusebius to Mrs. Portheris, "have never had the influenza, I
know. It only attacks people advanced in life."

"Indeed I have," replied that lady. "Twice."

"Is that so! Well, you never _would_ have had it if you'd been protected
with this liqueur of ours. It's death and burial on influenza," and
Brother Eusebius shook the bottle.

"I consider," said Mrs. Portheris solemnly, "that eucalyptus in another
form saved my life. But I inhaled it."

"Tho," ventured Brother Demetrius, "tho did I. But the wine ith for
internal drinking."

"Listen to him! _E_ternal drinking, that's what he means. You never saw
such an old boy for the influenza--gets it every week or so. How many
bottles, madam? Just a nip, after dinner, and you don't know how poetic
it will make you feel into the bargain."

"One bottle," replied Mrs. Portheris, "the larger size, please. Anything
with eucalyptus in it must be salutary. And as we are going underground,
where it is bound to be damp, I think I'll have a little now."

"That's what I call English common-sense," exclaimed Brother Eusebius,
getting out a glass. "Will nobody keep the lady company? It's Popish,
but it's good."

Nobody would. Momma observed rather uncautiously that the smell of it
was enough, at which Mrs. Portheris remarked, with some asperity, that
she hoped Mrs. Wick would never be obliged to be indebted to the
"smell." "It is quite excellent," she said, "_most_ cordial. I really
think, as a precaution, I'll take another glass."

"Isn't it pretty strong?" asked poppa.

[Illustration: We followed the monks.]

"The influenza is stronger," replied Mrs. Portheris oracularly, and
finished her second potation.

"And nothing," said Brother Eusebius sadly, "for the gentleman standing
outside the door, who doesn't approve of encouraging the Roman Catholic
Church in any respect whatever. Dear me! dear me! we do get some queer
customers." At which Mr. Mafferton frowned portentously. But nothing
seemed to have any effect on Brother Eusebius.

"There are such a lot of you, and you are sure to be so inquisitive,
that we'll both go with you," said he, and took candles from a shelf.
Not ordinary candles at all--coils of long, slender strips, with one end
turned up to burn. At the sight of them momma shuddered and said she
hadn't thought it would be dark, and took the Senator's arm as a
precautionary measure. Then we followed the monks Eusebius and
Demetrius, who wrapped shawls round their sloping shoulders and hurried
across the grass towards the little brick entrance to the Catacombs,
shading their candles from the wind that twisted their brown gowns round
their legs, with all the anxiety to get it over shown by janitors of
buildings of this world.



CHAPTER XIV.


At first through the square chambers of the early Popes and the narrow
passages lined with empty cells, nearest to the world outside, we kept
together, and it was mainly Eusebius who discoursed of the building of
the Catacombs, which he informed us had a pagan beginning.

"But our blessed early bishops said, 'Why should the devil have all the
accommodations?' and when once the Church got its foot in there wasn't
much room for _him_. But a few pagans there are here to this day in
better company than they ever kept above ground," remarked Brother
Eusebius.

"Can you tell them apart?" asked Mr. Dod, "the Christians and the
Pagans?"

"Yes," replied that holy man, "by the measurements of the jaw-bone. The
Christians, you see, were always lecturing the other fellows, so their
jaw-bones grew to an awful size. Some of 'em are simply parliamentary."

"Dat," said Brother Demetrius anxiously--as nobody had laughed--"ith a
joke."

"I noticed the intention," said poppa. "It's down in the guide-book
that you've been 'absolved from the vow of silence'--is that correct?"

"Right you are," said Brother Eusebius. "What about it?"

"Oh, nothing--only it explains a good deal. I guess you enjoy it, don't
you?"

But Brother Eusebius was bending over a cell in better preservation than
most of them, and was illuminating with his candle the bones of the
dweller in it. The light flickered on the skull of the Early Christian
and the tonsure of the modern one and made comparisons. It also cut the
darkness into solid blocks, and showed us broken bits of marble, faint
stains of old frescoes, strange rough letters, and where it wavered
furthest the uncertain lines of a graven cross.

"Here's one of the original inhabitants," remarked Eusebius. "He's been
here all the time. I hope the ladies don't mind looking at him in his
bones?"

"Thee, you can pick him up," said old Demetrius, handing a thigh-bone to
momma, who shrank from the privilege. "It ith quite dry."

"It seems such a liberty," she said, "and he looks so incomplete without
it. Do put it back."

"That's the way I feel," remarked Dicky, "but I don't believe he'd mind
our looking at a toe-bone. Are his toe-bones all there?"

"No," replied Demetrius, "I have count another day and he ith nine only.
Here ith a few."

"It is certainly a very solemn and unusual privilege," remarked Mr.
Mafferton, as the toe-bones went round, "to touch the mortal remnant of
an Early Christian."

"That altogether depends," said the Senator, "upon what sort of an Early
Christian he was. Maybe he was a saint of the first water, and maybe he
was a pillar of the church that ran a building society. Or, maybe, he
was only an average sort of Early Christian like you or me, in which
case he must be very uncomfortable at the idea of inspiring so much
respect. How are you going to tell?"

"The gentleman is right," said Brother Eusebius, and in considering
poppa's theory in its relation to the doubtful character before them
nobody noticed, except me, the petty larceny, by Richard Dod, of one
Early Christian toe-bone. His expression, I am glad to say, made me
think he had never stolen anything before; but you couldn't imagine a
more promising beginning for a career of embezzlement. As we moved on I
mentioned to him that the man who would steal the toe-bone of an Early
Christian, who had only nine, was capable of most crimes, at which he
assured me that he hadn't such a thing about him outside of his boots,
which shows how one wrong step leads to another.

We fell presently into two parties--Dicky, Mrs. Portheris, and I holding
to the skirts of Brother Demetrius. Brother Demetrius knew a great deal
about the Latin inscriptions and the history of Pope Damasus and the
chapel of the Bishops, and how they found the body of St. Cecilia,
after eight hundred years, fresh and perfect, and dressed in rich
vestments embroidered in gold; but his way of imparting it seriously
interfered with the value of his information, and we looked regretfully
after the other party.

"Here we have de tomb of Anterus and Fabianus----"

"I think we should keep up with the rest," interrupted Mrs. Portheris.

"Oh, I too, I know all dese Catacomb--I will take you everywheres--and
here, too, we have buried Entychianus."

"Where is Brother Eusebius taking the others?" asked Dicky.

"Now I tell you: he mith all de valuable ting, he is too fat and lazy;
only joke, joke, joke. And here we has buried Epis--martyr. Epis he wath
_martyr_."

The others, with their lights and voices, came into full view where four
passages met in a cubicle. "Oh," cried Isabel, catching sight of us,
"_do_ come and see Jonah and the whale. It's too funny for anything."

"And where Damathuth found here the many good thainth he----"

"We would like to see Jonah," entreated Dicky.

"Well," said Brother Demetrius crossly, "you go thee him--you catch up.
I will no more. You do not like my Englis' very well. You go with fat
old joke-fellow, and I return the houth. Bethide, it ith the day of my
lumbago." And the venerable Demetrius, with distinct temper, turned his
back on us and waddled off.

We looked at each other in consternation.

"I'm afraid we've hurt his feelings," said Dicky.

"You must go after him, Mr. Dod, and apologize," commanded Mrs.
Portheris.

"Do you suppose he knows the way out?" I asked.

"It _is_ a shame," said Dicky. "I'll go and tell him we'd rather have
him than Jonah any day."

Brother Demetrius was just turning a corner. Darkness encompassed him,
lying thick between us. He looked, in the light of his candle, like
something of Rembrandt's suspended for a moment before us. Dicky started
after him, and, presently, Mrs. Portheris and I were regarding each
other with more friendliness than I would have believed possible across
our flaring dips in the silence of the Catacombs.

"Poor old gentleman," I said; "I hope Mr. Dod will overtake him."

"So do I, indeed," said Mrs. Portheris. "I fear we have been very
inconsiderate. But young people are always so impatient," she added, and
put the blame where it belonged.

I did not retaliate with so much as a reproachful glance. Even as a
censor Mrs. Portheris was so eminently companionable at the moment. But
as we waited for Dicky's return neither of us spoke again. It made too
much noise. Minutes passed, I don't know how many, but enough for us to
look cautiously round to see if there was anything to sit on. There
wasn't, so Mrs. Portheris took my arm. We were not people to lean on
each other in the ordinary vicissitudes of life, and even under the
circumstances I was aware that Mrs. Portheris was a great deal to
support, but there was comfort in every pound of her. At last a faint
light foreshadowed itself in the direction of Dicky's disappearance, and
grew stronger, and was resolved into a candle and a young man, and Mr.
Dod, very much paler than when he left, was with us again. Mrs.
Portheris and I started apart as if scientifically impelled, and
exclaimed simultaneously, "Where is Brother Demetrius?"

"Nowhere in this graveyard," said Dicky. "He's well upstairs by this
time. Must have taken a short cut. I lost sight of him in about two
seconds."

"That was very careless of you, Mr. Dod," said Mrs. Portheris, "very
careless indeed. Now we have no option, I suppose, but to rejoin the
others; and where are they?"

They were certainly not where they had been. Not a trace nor an
echo--not a trace nor an echo--of anything, only parallelograms of
darkness in every direction, and our little circle of light flickering
on the tombs of Anterus, and Fabianus, and Entychianus, and
Epis--martyr--and we three within it, looking at each other.

"If you don't mind," said Dicky, "I would rather not go after them. I
think it's a waste of time. Personally I am quite contented to have
rejoined you. At one time I thought I shouldn't be able to, and the idea
was trying."

"We wouldn't _dream_ of letting you go again," said Mrs. Portheris and I
simultaneously. "But," continued Mrs. Portheris, "we will all go in
search of the others. They can't be very far away. There is nothing so
alarming as standing still."

We proceeded along the passage in the direction of our last glimpse of
our friends and relatives, passing a number of most interesting
inscriptions, which we felt we had not time to pause and decipher, and
came presently to a divergence which none of us could remember. Half of
the passage went down three steps, and turned off to the left under an
arch, and the other half climbed two, and immediately lost itself in
blackness of darkness. In our hesitation Dicky suddenly stooped to a
trace of pink in the stone leading upward, and picked it up--three rose
petals.

"That settles it," he exclaimed. "Isa--Miss Portheris was wearing a
rose. I gave it to her myself."

"Did you, indeed," said Isabel's mamma coldly. "My dear child, how
anxious she will be!"

"Oh, I should think not," I said hopefully. "I am sure she can trust Mr.
Dod to take care of himself--and of us, too, for the matter of that."

"Mr. Dod!" exclaimed Mrs. Portheris with indignation. "My poor child's
anxiety will be for her mother."

And we let it go at that. But Dicky put the rose petals in his pocket
with the toe-bone, and hopefully remarked that there would be no
difficulty about finding her now. I mentioned that I had parents also,
at that moment, lost in the Catacombs, but he did not apologize.

The midnight of the place, as we walked on, seemed to deepen, and its
silence to grow more profound. The tombs passed us in solemn grey
ranges, one above the other--the long tombs of the grown-up people, and
the shorter ones of the children, and the very little ones of the
babies. The air held a concentrated dolor of funerals sixteen centuries
old, and the four dim stone walls seemed to have crept closer together.
"I think I will take your arm, Mr. Dod," said Mrs. Portheris, and "I
think I will take your other arm, Mr. Dod," said I.

"Thank you," replied Dicky, "I should be glad of both of yours," which
may look ambiguous now, but we quite understood it at the time. It made
rather uncomfortable walking in places, but against that overwhelming
majority of the dead it was comforting to feel ourselves a living unit.
We stumbled on, taking only the most obvious turnings, and presently the
passage widened into another little square chamber. "More bishops!"
groaned Dicky, holding up his candle.

"Perhaps," I replied triumphantly, "but Jonah, anyway," and I pointed
him out on the wall, in two shades of brown, a good deal faded, being
precipitated into the jaws of a green whale with paws and horns and a
smile, also a curled body and a three-forked tail. The wicked deed had
two accomplices only, who had apparently stopped rowing to do it.
Underneath was a companion sketch of the restitution of Jonah, in
perfect order, by the whale, which had, nevertheless, grown considerably
stouter in the interval, while an amiable stranger reclined in an arbor,
with his hand under his head, and looked on.

"As a child your intelligence promised well," said Dicky; "that _is_
Jonah, though not of the Revised Version. I don't think Bible stories
ought to be illustrated, do you, Mrs. Portheris? It has such a bad
effect on the imagination."

"We can talk of that at another time, Mr. Dod. At present I wish to be
restored to my daughter. Let us push on at once. And please explain how
it is that we have had to walk so far to get to this place, which was
only a few yards from where we were standing when Brother Demetrius left
us!" Mrs. Portheris's words were commanding, but her tone was the tone
of supplication.

"I'm afraid I can't," said Dicky, "but for that very reason I think we
had better stay where we are. They are pretty sure to look for us here."

"I cannot possibly wait to be looked for. I must be restored to my
daughter! You must make an effort, Mr. Dod. And, now that I think of it,
I have left the key of our boxes in the drawer of the dressing-table,
and the key of that is in it, and the housemaid has the key of the
room. It is absolutely necessary that I should go back to the hotel at
once."

"My dear lady," said Dicky, "don't you realize that we are lost?"

"Lost! Impossible! _Shout_, Mr. Dod!"

Dicky shouted, and all the Early Christians answered him. There are said
to be seven millions. Mrs. Portheris grasped his arm convulsively.

"Don't do that again," she said, "on any account. Let us go on!"

"Much better not," protested Dicky.

"On! on!" commanded Mrs. Portheris. There was no alternative. We put
Dicky in the middle again, and cautiously stepped out. A round of blue
paper under our chaperone's arm caught the eye of Mr. Dod. "What luck!"
he exclaimed, "you have brought the liqueur with you, Mrs. Portheris. I
think we'd better all have some, if you don't mind. I've been in warmer
cemeteries."

As she undid the bottle, Mrs. Portheris declared that she already felt
the preliminary ache of influenza. She exhorted us to copious draughts,
but it was much too nasty for more than a sip, though warming to a
degree.

"Better take very little at a time," Dicky suggested, but Mrs. Portheris
reaffirmed her faith in the virtues of eucalyptus, and with such majesty
as was compatible with the neck of the bottle, drank deeply. Then we
stumbled on. Presently Mrs. Portheris yawned widely twice, thrice, and
again. "I beg your pardon," said she, "I don't seem able to help it."

"It's the example of these gaping sepulchres," Dicky replied. "Don't
apologize."

The passages grew narrower and more complex, the tombs more irregular.
We came to one that partly blocked the path, tilted against the main
wall like a separate sarcophagus, though it was really part of the solid
rock. Looking back, a wall seemed to have risen behind us; it was a
distinctly perplexing moment, hard upon the nerves. The tomb was empty,
except for a few bones that might have been anything huddled at the
bottom, and Mrs. Portheris sat down on the lower end of it. "I really do
not feel able to go any further," she said; "the ascent is so
perpendicular."

I was going to protest that the place was as level as a street, but
Dicky forestalled me. "Eucalyptus," he said soothingly, "often has that
effect."

"We are lost," continued Mrs. Portheris lugubriously, "in the Catacombs.
We may as well make up our minds to it. We came here this morning at ten
o'clock, and I should think, I should think--thish mus' be minnight on
the following day."

"My watch has run down," said Dicky, "but you are probably quite right,
Mrs. Portheris."

"It is doubtful," Mrs. Portheris went on, pulling herself together,
"whether we are ever found. There are nine hundred miles of Catacombs.
Unless we become cannibals we are likely to die of starvation. If we do
become cannibals, Mr. Dod," she added, sternly endeavouring to look
Dicky in the eye, "I hope you will remember what ish due to ladies."

"I will offer myself up gladly," said he, and I could not help
reflecting upon the comfort of a third party with a sense of humour
under the circumstances.

"Thass right," said Mrs. Portheris, nodding approvingly, and much
oftener than was necessary. "Though there isn't much on you--you won't
go very far." Then after a moment of gloomy reflection she blew out her
candle, and, before I could prevent it, mine also. Dicky hastily put his
out of reach.

"Three candles at once," she said virtuously, "in a room of this size!
It is wicked extravagance, neither more nor less."

I assure you you would have laughed, even in the Catacombs, and Dicky
and I mutually approached the borders of hysteria in our misplaced
mirth. Mrs. Portheris smiled in unison somewhat foolishly, and we saw
that slumber was overtaking her. Gradually and unconsciously she slipped
down and back, and presently rested comfortably in the sepulchre of her
selection, sound asleep.

"She is right in it," said Dicky, holding up his candle. "She's a lulu,"
he added disgustedly, "with her eucalyptus."

This was disrespectful, but consider the annoyance of losing a third of
our forces against seven million Early Christian ghosts. We sat down,
Dicky and I, with our backs against the tomb of Mrs. Portheris, and when
Dicky suggested that I might like him to hold my hand for a little while
I made no objection whatever. We decided that the immediate prospect,
though uncomfortable, was not alarming, that we had been wandering about
for possibly an hour, judging by the dwindling of Dicky's candle, and
that search must be made for us as soon as ever the others went above
ground and heard from Brother Demetrius the tale of our abandonment. I
said that if I knew anything about momma's capacity for underground
walking, the other party would have gone up long ago, and that search
for us was, therefore, in all likelihood, proceeding now, though perhaps
it would be wiser, in case we might want them, to burn only one candle
at a time. We had only to listen intently and we would hear the voices
of the searchers. We did listen, but all that we heard was a faint far
distant moan, which Dicky tried to make me believe was the wind in a
ventilating shaft. We could also hear a prolonged thumping very close to
us, but that we could each account for personally. And nothing more.

"Dicky," said I after a time, "if it weren't for the candle I believe I
should be frightened."

"It's about the most parsimonious style of candle I've ever seen,"
replied Dicky, "but it would give a little more light if it were
trimmed." And he opened his pocket-knife.

"Be very careful," I begged, and Dicky said "Rather!"

"Did you ever notice," he asked, "that you can touch flame all right if
you are only quick enough? Now, see me take the top off that candle." If
Dicky had a fault it was a tendency to boastfulness. He took the lighted
wick between his thumb and his knife-blade, and skilfully scooped the
top off. It blazed for two seconds on the edge of the blade--just long
enough to show us that all the flame had come with it. Then it went out,
and in the darkness at my side I heard a scuffling among waistcoat
pockets, and a groan.

"No matches?" I asked in despair.

"Left 'em in my light overcoat pockets, Mamie. I'm a bigger ass
than--than Mafferton."

"You are," I said with decision. "No Englishman goes anywhere without
his light overcoat. What have you done with yours?"

"Left it in the carriage," replied Dick humbly.

"That shows," said I bitterly, "how little you have learned in England.
Propriety in connection with you is evidently like water and a duck's
back. An intelligent person would have acquired the light overcoat
principle in three days, and never have gone out without it afterward."

"Oh, go on!" replied Dick fiercely. "Go on. I don't mind. I'm not so
stuck on myself as I was. But if we've got to die together you might as
well forgive me. You'll have to do it at the last moment, you know."

"I suppose you have begun to review your past life," I said grimly, "and
that's why you are using so much American slang."

Then, as Dicky was again holding my hands, I maintained a dignified
silence. You cannot possibly quarrel with a person who is holding your
hand, no matter how you feel.

"There's only one thing that consoles me in connection with those
matches," Dicky mentioned after a time. "They were French ones."

"I don't know what that has to do with it," I said.

"That's because you don't smoke," Dicky replied. And I had not the heart
to pursue the inquiry. Time went on, black and silent, as it had been
doing down there for sixteen centuries. We stopped arguing about why
they didn't come to look for us, each privately wondering if it was
possible that we had strayed too ingeniously ever to be found. We talked
of many things to try to keep up our spirits, the conviction of the _St.
James's Gazette_ that American young ladies live largely upon
chewing-gum, and other topics far removed from our surroundings, but the
effort was not altogether successful. Dicky had just permitted himself
to make a reference to his mother in Chicago when a sound behind us made
us both start violently, and then cheered us immensely--a snore from
Mrs. Portheris within the tomb. It was not, happily, a single accidental
snore, but the forerunner of a regular series, and we hung upon them as
they issued, comforted and supported. We were vaguely aware that we
could have no better defence against disembodied Early Christians, when,
in the course of an hour, Mrs. Portheris sat up suddenly among the bones
of the original occupant and asked what time it was. We felt a pang of
regret at losing it.

After the first moment or two that lady realized the situation
completely. "I suppose," she said, "we have been down here about two
days. I am quite faint with hunger. I have often read that candles,
under these terrible circumstances, are sustaining. What a good thing we
have got the candles."

Dicky squeezed my hand nervously, but our chaperone had slept off the
eucalyptus and had no longer one cannibal thought.

"I don't think it is time for candles yet," he said reassuringly. "You
have been asleep, you know, Mrs. Portheris."

"If you have eaten them already, I consider that you have taken an
unfair advantage, a very unfair advantage."

"Here is mine!" exclaimed Dicky nobly. "I hope I can deny myself, Mrs.
Portheris, to that extent."

"And mine," I echoed; "but really, Mrs. Portheris----"

Another pressure of Dicky's hand reminded me--I am ashamed to confess
it--that if Mrs. Portheris was bent upon the unnecessary consumption of
Roman tallow there was nothing in her past treatment of either of us to
induce us to prevent her. The dictates of humanity, I know, should have
influenced us otherwise, in connection with tallow, but they seemed for
the moment to have faded as completely out of our bosoms as they did out
of the early Roman persecutors! It seemed to me that all my country's
wrongs at the hands of Mrs. Portheris rose up and clamoured to be
avenged, and Dicky told me afterward that he felt just the same way.

"Then I have done you an injustice," she continued; "I apologize, I am
sure, and I find that I have my own candle, thank you. It is adhering to
the side of my bonnet."

We were perfectly silent.

"Perhaps I ought to try and wait a little longer," Mrs. Portheris
hesitated, "but I feel such a sinking, and I assure you I have fallen
away. My garments are quite loose."

"Of course it depends," said Dicky scientifically, "upon the amount of
carbon the system has in reserve. Personally I think I can hold out a
little longer. I had an excellent breakfast this m----, the day we came
here. But if I felt a sinking----"

"_Waugh!_" said Mrs. Portheris.

"Have you--have you _begun_?" I exclaimed in agony, while Dicky shook in
silence.

"I have," replied Mrs. Portheris hurriedly; "where--where is the
eucalyptus? Ah! I have it!"

"_Ben-en-euh!_ It is nutritive, I am sure, but it requires a cordial."

The darkness for some reason seemed a little less black and the silence
less oppressive.

"I have only eaten about three inches," remarked Mrs. Portheris
presently. Dicky and I were incapable of conversation--"but I--but I
cannot go on at present. It is really not nice."

"An overdone flavour, hasn't it?" asked Dicky, between gasps.

"Very much so! Horribly! But the eucalyptus will, I hope, enable me to
extract some benefit from it. I think I'll lie down again." And we heard
the sound of a cork restored to its bottle as Mrs. Portheris returned to
the tomb. It was quite half an hour before she woke up, declaring that a
whole night had passed and that she was more famished than ever. "But,"
she added, "I feel it impossible to go on with the candle. There is
something about the wick----"

"I know," said Dicky sympathetically, "unless you are born in Greenland,
you cannot really enjoy them. There is an alternative, Mrs. Portheris,
but I didn't like to mention it----"

"I know," she replied, "shoe leather. I have read of that, too, and I
think it would be an improvement. Have you got a pocket-knife, Mr. Dod?"

Dicky produced it without a pang and we heard the rapid sound of an
unbuttoning shoe. "I had these made to order at two guineas, in the
Burlington Arcade," said Mrs. Portheris regretfully.

"Then," said Dicky gravely, groping to hand her the knife, "they will be
of good kid, and probably tender."

"I hope so, indeed," said Mrs. Portheris; "we must all have some. Will
you--will you _carve_, Mr. Dod?"

I remembered with a pang how punctilious they were in England about
asking gentlemen to perform this duty, and I received one more
impression of the permanence of British ideas of propriety. But Dicky
declined; said he couldn't undertake it--for a party, and that Mrs.
Portheris must please help herself and never mind him, he would take
anything there was, a little later, with great hospitality. However, she
insisted, and my portion, I know, was a generous one, a slice off the
ankle. Mrs. Portheris begged us to begin; she said it was so cheerless
eating by one's self, and made her feel quite greedy.

"Really," she said, "it is much better than candle--a little difficult
to masticate perhaps, but, if I do say it myself, quite a tolerable
flavour. If I only hadn't used that abominable French polish this
morning. What do _you_ think, Mr. Dod?"

"I think," said Dicky, jumping suddenly to his feet, while my heart
stood still with anticipation, "that if there's enough of that shoe
left, you had better put it on again, for I hear people calling us," and
then, making a trumpet with his hands, Dicky shouted till all the
Roman skeletons sufficiently intact turned to listen. But this time the
answer came back from their descendants, running with a flash of
lanterns.

[Illustration: Dicky shouted till the skeletons turned to listen.]

       *       *       *       *       *

I will skip the scene of our reunion, because I am not good at matters
which are moving, and we were all excessively moved. It is necessary to
explain, however, that Brother Demetrius, when he went above ground,
felt his lumbago so acutely that he retired to bed, and was therefore
not visible when the others came up. As we had planned beforehand, the
Senator decided to go on to the Jewish Catacombs, taking it for granted
that we would follow, while Brother Eusebius, when he found Demetrius in
bed, also took it for granted that we had gone on ahead. He did not
inquire, he said, because the virtue of taciturnity being denied to them
in the exercise of their business, they always diligently cultivated it
in private. My own conviction was that they were not on speaking terms.
Our friends and relatives, after looking at the Jewish Catacombs, had
driven back to the hotel, and only began to feel anxious at tea time, as
they knew the English refreshment-rooms were closed for the season, like
everything else, and Isabel asserted with tears that if her mother was
above ground she would not miss her tea. So they all drove back to the
Catacombs, and effected our rescue after we had been immured for exactly
seven hours. I wish to add, to the credit of Mr. Richard Dod, that he
has never yet breathed a syllable to anybody about the manner in which
Mrs. Portheris sustained nature during our imprisonment, although he
must often have been strongly tempted to do so. And neither have
I--until now.



CHAPTER XV.


"The thing that struck me on our drive to the hotel," remarked momma,
"was that Naples was almost entirely inhabited by the lower classes."

"That is very noticeable indeed," concurred Mr. Mafferton, who was also
there for the first time. "The people of the place are no doubt in the
country at this time of the year, but one would naturally expect to see
more respectable persons about."

"Now you'll excuse me, Mafferton," said the Senator, "but that's just
one of those places where I lose the trail of the English language as
used by the original inventors. Where do you draw the line of
distinction between people and persons?"

"It's a mere Briticism, poppa," I observed. Mr. Mafferton loathed being
obliged to defend his native tongue at any point. That very morning the
_modus vivendi_ between us, that I had done so much for Dicky's sake to
establish, had been imperilled by my foolish determination to know
why all Englishmen pronounced "white" "wite."

"I daresay," said poppa gloomily, "but I am not on to it and I don't
suppose I ever shall be. What struck me on the ride up through the city
was the perambulating bath. Going round on wheels to be hired out, just
the ordinary tin tub of commerce. The fellows were shouting
something--'Who'll buy a wash!' I suppose. But that's the disadvantage
of a foreign language; it leaves so much to the imagination."

"The goats were nice," I said, "so promiscuous. I saw one of them
looking out of a window."

"And the dear little horses with bells round their necks," momma added,
"and the tall yellow houses with the stucco dropping off, and especially
the fruit shops and the flower stalls that make pictures down every
narrow street. Such _masses_ of colour!"

"We might have hit on a worse hotel," observed Mr. Mafferton. "Very
tolerable soup, to-night."

"I can't say I noticed the soup," said the Senator. "Fact is, soup to me
is just--soup. I presume there are different kinds, but beyond knowing
most of them from gruel I don't pretend to be a connoisseur."

"What nonsense, Alexander!" said momma sternly.

"Some are saltier than others, Augusta, I admit. But what I was going on
to say was that for clear monotony the dinner programmes ever since
Paris have beaten the record. Bramley told me how it would be. Consommy,
he said--that's soup--consommy, the whole enduring time. Fish _frité_ or
fried, roast beef _à l'Italienne_ or mixed up with vegetables.
Beans--well, just beans, and if you don't like 'em you can leave 'em,
but that fourth course is never anything but beans. After that you get
a chicken cut up with lettuce, because if it was put on the table whole
some disappointed investigator might find out there was nothing inside
and file a complaint. Anything to support that unstuffed chicken? Nope.
Finishing up with a compote of canned fruit, mostly California pears
that want more cooking, and after that cheese, if you like cheese, and
coffee charged extra. Thanks to Bramley, I can't say I didn't know what
to expect, but that doesn't increase the variety any. Now in America--I
understand you have been to America, sir?"

"I have travelled in the States to some extent," responded Mr.
Mafferton.

"Seen Brooklyn Bridge and the Hudson, I presume. Had a look at Niagara
Falls and a run out to Chicago, maybe. That was before I had the
pleasure of meeting you. Get as far as the Yosemite? No? Well, you were
there long enough anyhow to realise that our hotels are run on the free
will system."

"I remember," said Mr. Mafferton. "All the luxuries of the coming
season, printed on a card usually about a foot long. A great variety,
and very difficult to understand. When I had finished trying to
translate the morning paper, I used to attack the card. I found that it
threw quite a light upon early American civilisation from the aboriginal
side. 'Hominy,' 'Grits,' 'Buckwheats,' 'Cantelopes,' are some of the
dishes I remember. 'Succotash,' too, and 'creamed squash,' but I think
they occurred at dinner generally. I used to summon the waiter, and
when he came to take my orders I would ask him to derive those dishes. I
had great difficulty after a time in summoning a waiter. But the plan
gave me many interesting half hours. In the end I usually ordered a
chop."

"I don't want to run down your politics," poppa said, "but that's what I
call being too conservative. Augusta, if you have had enough of the Bay
of Naples and the moon, I might remind you of the buried city of
Pompeii, which is on for to-morrow. It's a good long way out, and you'll
want all your powers of endurance. I'm going down to have a smoke, and a
look at the humorous publications of Italy. There's no sort of
sociability about these hotels, but the head _portier_ knows a little
English."

"I suppose I had better retire," momma admitted, "though I sometimes
wish Mr. Wick wasn't so careful of my nervous system. Delicious scene,
good-night." And she too left us.

We were sitting in a narrow balcony that seemed to jut out of a horn of
the city's lovely crescent. Dicky and Isabel occupied chairs at a
distance nicely calculated to necessitate a troublesome raising of the
voice to communicate with them. Mrs. Portheris was still confined to her
room with what was understood to be the constitutional shock of her
experiences in the Catacombs. Dicky, in joyful privacy, assured me that
nobody could recover from a combination of Roman tallow and French kid
in less than a week, but I told him he did not know the British
constitution.

[Illustration: We were sitting in a narrow balcony.]

The moon sailed high over Naples, and lighted the lapping curve of her
perfect bay in the deepest, softest blue, and showed us some of the
nearer houses of the city, sloping and shouldering and creeping down,
that they were pink and yellow and parti-coloured, while the rest curved
and glimmered round the water in all tender tones of white holding up a
thousand lamps. And behind, curving too, the hills stood clear, with the
grey phantom of Vesuvius in sharp familiar lines, sending up its stream
of steady red, and now and then a leaping flame. It was a scene to wake
the latent sentiment of even a British bosom. I thought I would stay a
little longer.

"So you usually ordered a chop?" I said by way of resuming the
conversation. "I hope the chops were tender."

(I have a vague recollection that my intonation was.)

"There are worse things in the States than the mutton," replied Mr.
Mafferton, moving his chair to enable him, by twisting his neck not too
ostentatiously, to glance occasionally at Dicky and Isabel, "but the
steaks were distinctly better than the chops--distinctly."

"So all connoisseurs say," I replied respectfully. "Would you like to
change seats with me? I don't mind sitting with my back to--Vesuvius."

Mr. Mafferton blushed--unless it was the glow from the volcano.

"Not on my account," he said. "By any means."

"You do not fear a demonstration," I suggested. "And yet the forces of
nature are very uncertain. That is your English nerve. It deserves all
that is said of it."

Mr. Mafferton looked at me suspiciously.

"I fancy you must be joking," he said.

He sometimes complained that the great bar to his observation of the
American character was the American sense of humour. It was one of the
things he had made a note of, as interfering with the intelligent
stranger's enjoyment of the country.

"I suppose," I replied reproachfully, "you never pause to think how
unkind a suspicion like that is? When one _wishes_ to be taken
seriously."

"I fear I do not," Mr. Mafferton confessed. "Perhaps I jump rather
hastily to conclusions sometimes. It's a family trait. We get it through
the Warwick-Howards on my mother's side."

"Then, of course, there can't be any objection to it. But when one knows
a person's opinion of frivolity, always to be thought frivolous by the
person is hard to bear. Awfully."

And if my expression, as I gazed past this Englishman at Vesuvius, was
one of sad resignation, there was nothing in the situation to exhilarate
anybody.

The impassive countenance of Mr. Mafferton was disturbed by a ray of
concern. The moonlight enabled me to see it quite clearly. "Pray, Miss
Wick," he said, "do not think that. Who was it that wrote----"

   "A little humour now and then
   Is relished by the wisest men."

"I don't know," I said, "but there's something about it that makes me
think it is English in its origin. Do you _really_ endorse it?"

"Certainly I do. And your liveliness, Miss Wick, if I may say so, is
certainly one of your accomplishments. It is to some extent a racial
characteristic. You share it with Mr. Dod."

I glanced in the direction of the other two. "They seem desperately
bored with each other," I said. "They are not saying anything. Shall we
join them?"

"Dod is probably sulking because I am monopolising you. Mrs. Portheris,
you see, has let me into the secret"--Mr. Mafferton looked _very_
arch--"By all means, if you think he ought to be humoured."

"No," I said firmly, "humouring is very bad for Dicky. But I don't think
he should be allowed to wreak his ill-temper on Isabel."

"I have noticed a certain lack of power to take the initiative about
Miss Portheris," said Mr. Mafferton coldly, "especially when her mother
is not with her. She seems quite unable to extricate herself from
situations like the present."

"She is so young," I said apologetically, "and besides, I don't think
you could expect her to go quite away and leave us here together, you
know. She would naturally have foolish ideas. She doesn't know anything
about our irrevocable Past."

"Why should she care?" asked Mr. Mafferton hypocritically.

"Oh," I said. "I don't know, I'm sure. Only Mrs. Portheris----"

"She is certainly a charming girl," said Mr. Mafferton.

"And _so_ well brought up," said I.

"Ye-es. Perhaps a little self-contained."

"She has no need to rely upon her conversation." I observed.

"I don't know. The fact is----"

"What is the fact?" I asked softly. "After all that has passed I think I
may claim your confidence, Mr. Mafferton." I had some difficulty
afterwards in justifying this, but it seemed entirely appropriate at the
time.

"The fact is, that up to three weeks ago I believed Miss Portheris to be
the incarnation of so many unassuming virtues and personal charms that I
was almost ready to make a fresh bid for domestic happiness in her
society. I have for some time wished to marry----"

"I know," I said sympathetically.

"But during the last three weeks I have become a little uncertain."

"There shouldn't be the _slightest_ uncertainty," I observed.

"Marriage in England is such a permanent institution."

"I have known it to last for years even in the United States," I
sighed.

"And it is a serious responsibility to undertake to reciprocate in full
the devotion of an attached wife."

"I fancy Isabel is a person of strong affections," I said; "one notices
it with her mother. And any one who could dote on Mrs. Portheris would
certainly----"

"I fear so," said Mr. Mafferton.

"I understand," I continued, "why you hesitate. And really, feeling as
you do, I wouldn't be precipitate."

"I won't," he said.

"Watch the state of your own heart," I counselled, "for some little
time. You may be sure that hers will not alter;" and, as we said
good-night, I further suggested that it would be a kindness if Mr.
Mafferton would join my lonely parent in the smoking-room.

I don't know what happened on the balcony after that.



CHAPTER XVI.


"Mamma," said Isabel, as we gathered in the hotel vestibule for the
start to Pompeii, "is really not fit to undertake it."

"You'll excuse me, Aunt Caroline," remarked the Senator, "but your
complexion isn't by any means right yet. It's a warm day and a long
drive. Just as likely as not you'll be down sick after it."

"Stuff!" said Mrs. Portheris. "I thank my stars _I_ have got no
enfeebled American constitution. I am perfectly equal to it, thank you."

"It's most unwise," observed Mr. Mafferton.

"Darned--I mean extremely risky," sighed Dicky.

Mrs. Portheris faced upon them. "And pray what do _you_ know about it?"
she demanded.

Then momma put in her oar, taking most unguardedly a privilege of
relationship. "Of course, you are the best judge of how you feel
yourself, Aunt Caroline, but we are told there are some steps to ascend
when we get there--and you know how fleshy you are."

In the instant of ominous silence which occurred while Mrs. Portheris
was getting her chin into the angle of its greatest majesty, Mr.
Mafferton considerately walked to the door. When it was accomplished
she looked at momma sideways and down her nose, precisely in the manner
of the late Mr. Du Maurier's ladies in _Punch_, in the same state of
mind. She might have sat or stood to him. It was another ideal realised.

"That is the latest, the very latest Americanism which I have observed
in your conversation, Augusta. In your native land it may be admissible,
but please understand that I cannot permit it to be applied to me
personally. To English ears it is offensive, very offensive. It is also
quite improper for you to assume any familiarity with my figure. As you
say, _I_ may be aware of its corpulence, but nobody else--er--can
possibly know anything about it."

Momma was speechless, and, as usual, the Senator came to the rescue. He
never will allow momma to be trampled on, and there was distinct
retaliation in his manner. "Look here, aunt," he said, "there's nothing
profane in saying you're fleshy when you _are_, you know, and you don't
need to remove so much as your bonnet strings for the general public to
be aware of it. And when you come to America don't you ever insult
anybody by calling her corpulent, which is a perfectly indecent
expression. Now if you won't go back to bed and tranquillise your
mind--on a plain soda----"

"I won't," said Mrs. Portheris.

"De carriages is already," said the head porter, glistening with an
amiability of which we all appreciated the balm. And we entered the
carriages--Mrs. Portheris and the downcast Isabel and Mr. Mafferton in
one, and momma, poppa, Dicky, and I in the other. For no American would
have been safe in Mrs. Portheris's carriage for at least two hours, and
this came home even to Mr. Dod.

"Never again!" exclaimed momma as we rattled down among the narrow
streets that crowd under the Funicular railway. "Never again will I call
that woman Aunt Caroline."

"Don't call her fleshy, my dear, that's what really irritated her,"
remarked the Senator. The Senator's discrimination, I have often
noticed, is not the nicest thing about him.

Hours and hours it seemed to take, that drive to Pompeii. Past the
ambitious confectioner with his window full of cherry pies, each cherry
round and red and shining like a marble, and the plate glass dry-goods
store where ready-made costumes were displayed that looked as if they
might fit just as badly as those of Westbourne Grove, and so by degrees
and always down hill through narrower and shabbier streets where all the
women walked bareheaded and the shops were mostly turned out on the
pavement for the convenience of customers, and a good many of them went
up and down in wheelbarrows. And often through narrow ways so
high-walled and many-windowed that it was quite cool and dusky down
below, and only a strip of sun showed far up along the roofs of one
side. Here and there a wheelbarrow went strolling through these streets
too, and we saw at least one family marketing. From a little square
window a prodigious way up came, as we passed, a cry with custom in it,
and a wheelbarrow paused beneath. Then down from the window by a long,
long rope slid a basket from the hands of a young woman leaning out in
red, and the vendor took the opportunity of sitting down on his barrow
handle till it arrived. Soldi and a piece of paper he took out of the
basket and a cabbage and onions he put in, and then it went swinging
upwards and he picked up his barrow again, and we rattled on and left
him shouting and pushing his hat back--it was not a soft felt but a
bowler--to look up at the other windows. In spite of the bowler it was a
picturesque and Neapolitan incident, and it left us much divided as to
the contents of the piece of paper.

"My idea is," said the Senator, "that the young woman in the red jersey
was the hired girl and that note was what you might call a clandestine
communication."

"Since we are in Naples," remarked Mr. Dod, "I think, Senator, your
deduction is correct. Where we come from a slavey with any self-respect
would put her sentiments on a gilt-edged correspondence card in a
scented envelope with a stamp on the outside and ask you to kindly drop
it into the pillar box on your way to business; but this chimes in with
all you read about Naples."

"Perfectly ridiculous!" said momma. "Mark my words, that note was either
a list of vegetables wanted, or an intimation that if they weren't going
to be fresher than the last, that man needn't stop for orders in
future. And in a country as destitute of elevators as this one is I
suppose you couldn't keep a servant a week if you didn't let her save
the stairs somehow. But I must say if I were going to have cabbage and
onions the same day I wouldn't like the neighbours to know it."

I entirely agreed with momma, and was reflecting, while they talked of
something else, on the injustice of considering ours the sentimental
sex, when the Senator leaned forward and advised me in an undertone to
make a note of the market basket.

"And take my theory to account for the piece of paper," said he; "your
mother's may be the most likely, but mine is _what the public will
expect_."

And always the shadows of the narrow streets crooked in the end into a
little plaza full of sun and beggars, and lemonade stands, and hawkers
of wild strawberries, and when the great bank of a flower-stall stood
just where the shadow ended sharply and the sun began, it made something
to remember. After that our way lay through a suburban parish _fête_,
and we pursued it under strings and strings of little glass lanterns,
red, and green, and blue, that swung across the streets; and there were
goats and more children, and momma vainly endeavoured to keep off the
smells with her parasol. Then a region of docks and masts rising
unexpectedly, and many little fish shops, and a glitter of scales on the
pavement, and disconnected coils of rope, and lounging men with
earrings, and unkempt women with babies, and above and over all the
warm scent, standing still in the sun, of hemp, and tar, and the sea.

"The city," said the Senator, casting his practised eye on a piece of
dead wall that ran along the pavement, "is evidently in the turmoil of a
general election, though you mightn't notice it. It's the third time
I've seen those posters '_Viva il Prefétto!_' and '_Viva L'opposizione!_
That seems to be about all they can do, just as if we contented ourselves
with yelling ''Rah for Bryan!' 'One more for McKinley!' I must say if they
haven't any more notion of business than that they don't either of 'em
deserve to get there."

"In France," observed Mr. Dod, "they stick up little handbills addressed
to their '_chers concitoyens_' as if voters were a lot of baa-lambs and
willie-boys. It makes enervating reading."

"Young man," said poppa in a burst of feeling, "they say the American
eagle might keep her beak shut with advantage, more than she does; but I
tell you," and the Senator's hand came down hard on Dicky's knee, "a
trip around Europe is enough to turn her into a singing bird, sir, a
singing bird."

I don't get my imagination entirely from momma.

"_Viva il Prefétto! Viva L'opposizione!_" poppa repeated pityingly, as
another pair of posters came in sight. "Well, it won't ever do the
Government of Italy any good, but I guess I'm with the _Opposizione_."

The road grew emptier and sandy white, and commerce forsook it but for
here and there a little shop with fat yellow bags, which were the
people's cheeses, hanging in bladders at the door. Crumbled gateways
began to appear, and we saw through them that the villa gardens inside
ran down and dropped their rose leaves into the blue of the
Mediterranean. We met the country people going their ways to town; they
looked at us with friendly patronage, knowing all about us, what we had
come to see, and the foolishness of it, and especially the ridiculous
cost of _carozza_ that take people to Pompeii. And at last, just as the
sun and the jolting and the powdery white dust combined had instigated
us all to suggest to the Senator how much better it would have been to
come by rail, the ponies made a glad and jingling sweep under the
acacias of the Hôtel Diomede, which is at the portals of Pompeii.

It seemed a casual and a cheerful place, full of open doors and
proprietary Neapolitans who might have been brothers and sisters-in-law,
whose conversation we interrupted coming in. There had been domestic
potations; a very fat lady, with a horn comb in her hair, wiped liquid
rings off the table with her apron, removing the glasses, while a
collarless male person with an agreeable smile and a soft felt hat
placed wooden chairs for us in a row. Poppa knows no Italian, but they
seemed to understand from what he said that we wanted things to drink,
and brought us with surprising accuracy precisely what each of us
preferred, lemonade for momma and me, and beverages consisting largely,
though not entirely, of soda water for the Senator and Mr. Dod. While
we refreshed ourselves, another, elderly, grizzled, and one-eyed, came
and took up a position just outside the door opposite and sang a song of
adventurous love, boxing his own ears in the chorus with the liveliest
effect. A further agreeable person waited upon us and informed us that
he was the interpreter, he would everything explain to us, that this was
a beggar man who wanted us to give him some small money, but there was
no compulsion if we did not wish to do so. I think he gave us that
interpretation for nothing. The fat lady then produced a large fan which
she waved over us assiduously, and the collarless man in the soft hat
stood by to render aid in any further emergency, smiling upon us as if
we were delicacies out of season. Poppa bore it as long as he could, and
we all made an unsuccessful effort to appear as if we were quite
accustomed to as much attention and more in the hotels of America; but
in a very few minutes we knew all the disadvantages of being of too much
importance. Presently the one-eyed man gave way to a pair of players on
the flute and mandolin.

"Look here," said poppa at this, to the interpreter, "you folks are
putting yourselves out on our account a great deal more than is
necessary. We are just ordinary travelling public, and you don't need to
entertain us with side shows that we haven't ordered any more than if we
belonged to your own town. See?" But the interpreter did not see. He
beckoned instead to an engaging daughter of the fat lady, who approached
modestly with a large book of photographs, which she opened before the
Senator, kneeling beside his chair.

"Great Scott!" exclaimed poppa, "I'm not a crowned head. Rise, Miss
Diomede."

Removing his cigar, he assisted the young lady to her feet and led her
to a sofa at the other end of the room, where, as they turned over the
photographs together, I heard him ask her if she objected to tobacco.

"You may go," said momma to the interpreter, "and explain the scenes.
Mr. Wick will enjoy them much more if he understands them." The freedom
from conventional restraint which characterises American society very
seldom extends to married gentlemen.

We had to wait twenty minutes for the other party, on account of their
British objection to anybody's dust. Even Mr. Mafferton looked quelled
when they arrived, and Isabel quite abject, while Mrs. Portheris wore
that air of justification which no circumstance could impair, which was
particularly her own. She would not sit down. "It gives these people a
claim on you," she said. "I did not come here to run up an hotel bill,
but to see Pompeii. Pompeii I demand to see." The players on the flute
and mandolin looked at Mrs. Portheris consideringly and then strolled
away, and the guide, with a sorrowful glance at the landlady, put on his
hat. "I can explain you everything," he said with an inflection that
placed the responsibility for remaining in ignorance upon our own heads,
but Mrs. Portheris waved him away with her fan. "No," she said. "I beg
that this man shall not be allowed to inflict himself upon our party.
I particularly desire to form my own impression of the historic city,
that city that did so much for the reputation of Sir Henry Bulwer
Lytton. Besides, these people mount up ridiculously, and with servants
at home on half wages, and Consols in the state they are, one is really
compelled to economise."

[Illustration: "I'm not a crowned head!"]

It was difficult to protest against Mrs. Portheris's regulations, and
impossible to contravene them, so I have nothing to report of that guide
but his card, which bore the name "Antonio Plicco," and his memory,
which is a blank.

There was an ascent, and Mrs. Portheris mounted it proudly. I pointed
out to poppa half-way up that his esteemed relative hadn't turned a
hair, but he was inclined to be incredulous; said you couldn't tell what
was going on in the Department of the Interior. The Senator often uses a
political reference to carry him over a delicate allusion. Flowering
shrubs and bushes lined the path we climbed, silent in the sunshine,
dustily decorative, and at the top the turning of a key let us into a
strange place. Always a strange place, however often the guide-books
beat their iterations upon it, a place that leaps at imagination,
peering into other days through the mists that lie between, and blinds
it with a rush of light--the place where they have gathered together
what was left of the dead Pompeiians and their world. There they lay
before us for our wonderment as they ran, and tripped, and struggled,
and fell in the night of that day when they and the gods together were
overwhelmed, and they died as they thought in the end of time. And
through an open door Vesuvius sent up its eternal gentle woolly curl
again the daylight sky, and vineyards throve, and birds sang, and we,
who had survived the gods, came curious to look. The figures lay in
glass cases, and Dicky remarked, with unusual seriousness, that it was
like a dead-house.

"Except," said poppa, "that in this mortuary there isn't ever going to
be anybody who can identify the remains. When you come to think of
it--that's kind of hard."

"No chance of Christian burial once you get into a museum," said Dick
with solicitude.

"I should like," remarked Mrs. Portheris, polishing her _pince nez_ to
get a better view of a mother and daughter lying on their faces. "I
should like to see the clergyman who would attempt it. These people were
heathen, and richly deserved their fate. Richly!"

Momma looked at her husband's Aunt Caroline with indignant scorn. "Do
you really think so?" she asked, but we could all see that her words
were a very inadequate expression for her emotions. Mrs. Portheris drew
all the guns of her orthodoxy into line for battle. "I am surprised----"
she began, and then the Senator politely but firmly interfered.

"Ladies," he said, "'_De mortuis nisi bonum_,' which is to say it isn't
customary to slang corpses, especially, as you may say, in their
presence. I guess we can all be thankful, anyhow, that heathen nowadays
have got a cooler earth to live on," and that for the moment was the end
of it, but momma still gazed commiseratingly at the figures, with a
suspicious tendency to look for her handkerchief.

"It's too terrible," she said. "We can actually see their _features_."

"Don't let them get on your nerves, Augusta," suggested poppa.

"I won't if I can help it. But when you see their clothes and their hair
and realise----"

"It happened over eighteen hundred years ago, my dear, and most of them
got away."

"That didn't make it any better for those who are now before us," and
momma used her handkerchief threateningly, though it was only in
connection with her nose.

"Well now, Augusta, I hate to destroy an illusion like that, because
they're not to be bought with money, but since you're determined to work
yourself up over these unfortunates, I've got to expose them to you.
They're not the genuine remains you take them for. They're mere
worthless imitations."

"Alexander," said momma suspiciously, "you never hesitate to tamper with
the truth if you think it will make me any more comfortable. I don't
believe you."

"All right," returned the Senator; "when we get home you ask Bramley. It
was Bramley that put me on to it. Whenever one of those Pompeii fellows
dropped, the ashes kind of caked over him, and in the course of time
there was a hole where he had been. See? And what you're looking at is
just a collection of those holes filled up with composition and then dug
out. Mere holes!"

"The illusion is dreadfully perfect," sighed momma. "Fancy dying like a
baked potato in hot ashes! Somehow, Alexander, I don't seem able to get
over it," and momma gazed with distressed fascination at the grim form
of the negro porter.

"We've got no proper grounds for coming to that conclusion either,"
replied poppa firmly. "Just as likely they were suffocated by the gas
that came up out of the ground."

"Oh, if I could think that!" momma exclaimed with relief. "But if I find
you've been deceiving me, Alexander, I'll never forgive you. It's _too_
solemn!"

"You ask Bramley," I heard the Senator reply. "And now come and tell me
if this loaf of bread somebody baked eighteen hundred and twenty
something years ago isn't exactly the same shape as the Naples bakers
are selling right now."

"Daughter," said momma as she went, "I hope you are taking copious
notes. This is the wonder of wonders that we behold to-day." I said I
was, and I wandered over to where Mrs. Portheris examined with Mr.
Mafferton an egg that was laid on the last day of Pompeii. Mrs.
Portheris was asking Mr. Mafferton, in her most impressive manner, if it
was not too wonderful to have positive proof that fowls laid eggs then
just as they do now; and I made a note of that too. Dicky and Isabel
bemoaned the fate of the immortal dog who still bites his flank in the
pain extinguished so long ago. I hardly liked to disturb them, but I
heard Dicky say as I passed that he didn't mind much about the humans,
they had their chance, but this poor little old tyke was tied up, and
that on the part of Providence was playing it low down.

Then we all stepped out into the empty streets of Pompeii and Mr.
Mafferton read to us impressively, from Murray, the younger Pliny's
letter to Tacitus describing its great disaster. The Senator listened
thoughtfully, for Pliny goes into all kinds of interesting details. "I
haven't much acquaintance with the classics," said he, as Mr. Mafferton
finished, "but it strikes me that the modern New York newspaper was the
medium to do that man justice. It's the most remarkable case I've
noticed of a good reporter _born before his time_."

"A terrible retribution," said Mrs. Portheris, looking severely at the
Tavern of Phoebus, forever empty of wine-bibbers. "They worshipped
Jupiter, I understand, and other deities even less respectable. Can we
wonder that a volcano was sent to destroy them! One thing we may be
quite sure of--if the city had only turned from its wickedness and
embraced Christianity, this never would have happened."

Momma compressed her lips and then relaxed them again to say, "I think
that idea perfectly ridiculous." I scented battle and hung upon the
issue, but the Senator for the third time interposed.

"Why no, Augusta," he said, "I guess that's a working hypothesis of Aunt
Caroline's. Here's Vesuvius smokin' away ever since just the same, and
there's Naples with a bishop and the relics of Saint Januarius. You can
read in your guide-book that whenever Vesuvius has looked as if he meant
business for the past few hundred years, the people of Naples have
simply called on the bishop to take out the relics of Saint Januarius
and walk 'em round the town; and that's always been enough for Vesuvius.
Now the Pompeii folks didn't know a saint or a bishop by sight, and
Jupiter, as Aunt Caroline says, was never properly qualified to
interfere. That's how it was, I _presume_. I don't suppose the people of
Naples take much stock in the laws of nature; they don't have to, with
Januarius in a drawer. And real estate keeps booming right along."

"You have an extraordinary way of putting things," remarked Mrs.
Portheris to her nephew. "Very extraordinary. But I am glad to hear that
you agree with me," and she looked as if she did not understand momma's
acquiescent smile.

We went our several ways to see the baths, and the Comic Theatre, the
bakehouse and the gymnasium; and I had a little walk by myself in the
Street of Abundance, where the little empty houses waited patiently on
either side for those to return who had gone out, and the sun lay full
on their floors of dusty mosaic, and their gardens where nothing grew.
It seemed to me, as it seems to everybody, that Pompeii was not dead,
but asleep, and her tints were so clear and gay that her dreams might be
those of a ballet-girl. A solitary yellow dog chased a lizard in the
sun, and the pebbles he knocked about made an absurdly disturbing noise.
Beyond the vague tinted roofless walls that stretched over the pleasant
little peninsula, the blue sea rippled tenderly, remembering much
delight, and the place seemed to smile in its sleep. It was easy to
understand why Cicero chose to have his villa in the midst of such
light-heartedness, and why the gods, perhaps, decided that they had lent
too much laughter to Pompeii. I made free of the hospitality of
Cornelius Rufus and sat for a while in his _exedra_, where he himself,
in marble on a little pillar in the middle of the room, made me as
welcome as if I had been a client or a neighbour. We considered each
other across the centuries, making mutual allowances, and spent the most
sociable half-hour. I take a personal interest in the city's disaster
now--it overwhelmed one of my friends.



CHAPTER XVII.


On the Lungarno in Florence, in the cool of the evening, we walked
together, the Senator, momma, Dicky, and I. Dicky radiated depression,
if such a thing is atmospherically possible; we all moved in it. Mr. Dod
had been banished from the Portheris party, and he groaned over the
reflection that it was his own fault. At Pompeii I had exerted myself in
his interest to such an extent that Mr. Mafferton detached himself from
Mrs. Portheris and attached himself to momma for the drive home. Little
did I realise that one could be too agreeable in a good cause. Dicky
insinuated himself with difficulty into Mr. Mafferton's vacant place
opposite Mrs. Portheris, and even before the carriages started I saw
that he was going to have a bad time. His own version of the experience
was painful in the extreme, and he represented the climax as having
occurred just as they arrived at the hotel. The unfortunate youth must
have been goaded to his fate, for his general attitude toward matters of
orthodoxy was most discreet.

"There is something _Biblical_," said Mrs. Portheris (so Dicky related),
"that those Pompeiian remains remind me of, and I cannot think what it
is."

"Lot's wife, mamma?" said Isabel.

"_Quite_ right, my child--what a memory you have! That wretched woman
who stopped to look back at the city where careless friends and
relatives were enjoying themselves, indifferent to their coming fate, in
direct disobedience to the command. Of course, she turned to salt, and
these people to ashes, but she must have looked very much like them when
the process was completed."

That was Dicky's opportunity for restraint and submission, but he seemed
to have been physically unable to take it. He rushed, instead, blindly
to perdition. "I don't believe that yarn," he said.

There was a moment's awful silence, during which Dicky said he counted
his heart-beats and felt as if he had announced himself an atheist or a
Jew, and then his sentence fell.

"In that case, Mr. Dod, I must infer that you are opposed to the
doctrine of the complete inspiration of Holy Writ. If you do not believe
in that, I shudder to think of what you may not believe in. I will say
no more now, but after dinner I will be obliged to speak to you for a
few minutes, privately. Thank you, I can get out without assistance."

And after dinner, privately, Dicky learned that Mrs. Portheris had for
some time been seriously considering the effect of his, to her,
painfully flippant views, upon the opening mind of her daughter--the
child had only been out six months--and that his distressing
announcement of this morning left her in no further doubt as to her
path of duty. She would always endeavour to have as kindly a
recollection of him as possible, he had really been very obliging, but
for the present she must ask him to make some other travelling
arrangements. Cook, she believed, would always change one's tickets less
ten per cent., but she would leave that to Dicky. And she hoped, she
_sincerely_ hoped, that time would improve his views. When that was
accomplished she trusted he would write and tell her, but not before.

"And while I'm getting good and ready to pass an examination in Noah,
Jonah, and Methuselah," remarked Dicky bitterly, as we discussed the
situation on the Lungarno for the seventh time that day, "Mafferton
sails in."

"Why didn't you tell her plainly that you wanted to marry Isabel, and
would brook no opposition?" I demanded, for my stock of sympathy was
getting low.

"Now that's a valuable suggestion, isn't it?" returned Mr. Dod with
sarcasm. "Good old psychological moment that was, wasn't it? Talk about
girls having tact! Besides, I've never told Isabel herself yet, and I'm
not the American to give in to the effete and decaying custom of asking
a girl's poppa, or momma if it's a case of widow, first. Not Richard
Dod."

"What on earth," I exclaimed, "have you been doing all this time?"

"Now go slow, Mamie, and don't look at me like that. I've been trying to
make her acquainted with me--explaining the kind of fellow I
am--getting solid with her. See?"

"Showing her the beauties of your character!" I exclaimed derisively.

"I said something about the defects, too," said Dicky modestly, "though
not so much. And I was getting on beautifully, though it isn't so easy
with an English girl. They don't seem to think it's proper to analyse
your character. They're so maidenly."

"And so unenterprising," I said, but I said it to myself.

"Isabel was actually beginning to _lead up to the subject_," Dicky went
on. "She asked me the other day if it was true that all American men
were flirts. In another week I should have felt that she would know what
was proposing to her."

"And you were going to wait another week?"

"Well, a man wants every advantage," said Dicky blandly.

"Did you explain to Isabel that you were only joining our party in the
hope of meeting her accidentally soon again?"

"What else," asked he in pained surprise, "should I have joined it for?
No, I didn't; I hadn't the chance, for one thing. You took the first
train back to Rome next morning, you know. She wasn't up."

"True," I responded. "Momma said not another hour of her husband's Aunt
Caroline would she ever willingly endure. She said she would spend her
entire life, if necessary, in avoiding the woman." But Dicky had not
followed the drift of my thought.

I added vaguely, "I hope she will understand it"--I really couldn't be
more definite--and bade Mr. Dod good-night. He held my hand
absent-mindedly for a moment, and mentioned the effectiveness of the
Ponte Vecchio from that point of view.

"I didn't feel bound to change my tickets less ten per cent.," he said
hopefully, "and we're sure to come across them early and often. In the
meantime you might try and soften me a little--about Lot's wife."

Next day, in the Ufizzi, it was no surprise to meet the Miss Binghams.
We had a guilty consciousness of fellow-citizenship as we recognised
them, and did our best to look as if two weeks were quite long enough to
be forgotten in, but they seemed charitable and forgiving on this
account, said they had looked out for us everywhere, and _had_ we seen
the cuttings in the Vatican?

"The statues, you know," explained Miss Cora kindly, seeing that we did
not comprehend. "Marvellous--simply marvellous! We enjoyed nothing so
much as the marble department. It takes it out of you though--we were
awfully done afterwards."

I wondered what Phidias would have said to the "cuttings," and whether
the Miss Binghams imagined it a Briticism. It also occurred to me that
one should never mix one's colloquialisms; but that, of course, did not
prevent their coming round with us. I believe they did it partly to
diffuse their guide among a larger party. He was hanging, as they came
up, upon Miss Cora's reluctant earring, so to speak, and she was
mechanically saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" to his representations. "I
suppose," said she inadvertently, "there is no way of preventing their
giving one information," and after that when she hospitably pressed the
guide upon us we felt at liberty to be unappreciative.

I regret to write it of two maiden ladies of good New York family, and a
knowledge of the world; but the Miss Binghams capitulated to Dicky Dod
with a promptness and unanimity which would have been very bad for him
if nobody had been there to counteract its effects. He walked between
them through the vestibules, absorbing a flow of tribute from each side
with a complacency which his recent trying experiences made all the more
profound. There was always a something, Miss Nancy declared, about an
American who had made his home in England--you could always tell. "In
your case, Mr. Dod, there is an association of Bond Street. I can't
describe it, but it is there. I hope you don't mind my saying so."

"Oh, no," said Dicky, "I guess it's my tailor. He lives in Bond Street;"
but this was artless and not ironical. Miss Cora went further. "I should
have taken Mr. Dod for an Englishman," she said, at which the
miscalculated Mr. Dod looked alarmed.

"Is that so?" he responded. "Then I'll book my passage back at once.
I've been over there too long. You see I've been kind of obliged to
stay for reasons connected with the firm, but you ladies can take my
word for it that when you get through this sort of ridiculous veneer
I've picked up you'll find a regular all-wool-and-a-yard-wide
city-of-Chicago American, and I'm bound to ask you not to forget it.
This English way of talking is a thing that grows on a fellow
unconsciously, don't you know. It wears off when you get home."

At which Miss Cora and Miss Nancy looked at each other smilingly and
repeated "Don't you know" in derisive echo, and we all felt that our
young friend had been too modest about his acquirements.

"But we mustn't neglect our old masters," cried Miss Nancy as those of
the first corridor began to slip past us on the walls, with no desire to
interrupt. "What do you think of this Greek Byzantine style, Mr. Wick?
Somehow it doesn't seem to appeal to me, though whether it's the
flatness--or what----"

"It _is_ flat, certainly," agreed the Senator, "but that's a very
popular style of angel for Christmas cards--the more expensive kinds.
Here, I suppose, we get the original."

"That is Tuscan school, sir--madam," put in the guide, "and not
angel--Saint Cecilia. Fourteen century, but we do not know that artiss
his name. In the book you will see Cimabue, but it is not
Cimabue--unknown artiss."

"Dear me!" cried momma. "St. Cecilia, of course. Don't you remember her
expression--in the Catacombs?"

"She's sweet, always and everywhere," said Miss Cora, as we moved on,
leaving the guide explaining St. Cecilia with his hands behind his back.
"And you did go to Capri after all? Now I wonder, Nancy, if they had our
experience about the oysters?"

"A horrid little man!" cried momma.

"Who showed you the way to the steamer----"

"And hung around doing things the whole enduring time," continued my
parent, as Mark Antony's daughter turned her head aside, and Drusus, the
brother of Tiberius, frowned upon our passing.

"He must have been our man!" cried both the Misses Bingham, with
excitement.

"In the manner of Taddeo Gaddi," interrupted the guide, surprising us on
the flank with a Holy Family.

"All right," said the Senator. "Well, this fellow proposed to bring our
party oysters on the steamer, and we took him, of course, for the
steward's tout----"

"Exactly what we thought."

"Since _you_ are going to tell the story, Alexander, I may remind you
that he said they were the best in the world," remarked momma, with
several degrees of frost.

"My dear, the anecdote is yours. But you remember I told him they
wouldn't be in it with Blue Points."

"Now _what_," exclaimed Miss Nancy, with excitement, "did he ask you for
them?"

"Three francs a head, Nancy, wasn't it, Mrs. Wick? And you gave the
order, and the man disappeared. And you thought he'd gone to get them;
at least, we did. Nancy here had perfect confidence in him. She said he
had such dog-like eyes, and we were both perfectly certain they would be
served when the steamer stopped at the Blue Grotto----" Miss Cora paused
to smile.

"But they weren't," suggested momma feebly.

"No, indeed, and hadn't the slightest intention of being." Miss Nancy
took up the tale. "Not until we were taking off our gloves in the hotel
verandah, and making up our minds to a good hot lunch, did those oysters
appear--exactly half a dozen, and bread and butter extra! And we
couldn't say we hadn't ordered them. And the lunch was only two francs
fifty, _complet_. But we felt we ought to content ourselves with the
oysters, though, of course, you wouldn't with gentlemen in your party.
Now, what course _did_ you pursue, Mrs. Wick?"

"Really," said momma distantly, "I don't remember. I believe we had
enough to eat. Surely that is little Moses being taken from the
bulrushes! How it adds to one's interest to recognise the subject."

"By B. Luti," responded Miss Nancy. "I _hope_ he isn't very well known,
for I never heard of him before. Now, there's a Domenichino; I can tell
it from here. I do love Domenichino, don't you?"

I suppose the Senator knew that momma didn't love Domenichino, and would
possibly be at a loss to say why; at all events, he remarked that,
talking of Capri, he hoped the Miss Binghams had not felt as badly about
inconveniencing the donkeys that took them to the top of the cliff as
momma had. "Mrs. Wick," he informed them, "rode an ass by the name of
Michael Angelo, perfectly accustomed to the climate, and, do you believe
it, she held her parasol over that animal's head the whole way." At
which everybody laughed, and momma, invested with an original and
amiable weakness, was appeased.

"Of Michelangelo we have not here much," said the guide patiently.
"Drawings yes, and one holy Family--magnificent! But all in another room
w'ich----"

"Now what Bramley said about the Ufizzi was this," continued the
Senator. "'You'll see on those walls,' he said, 'the best picture show
in the world, both for pedigree and quality of goods displayed. I'd go
as far as to say they're all worth looking at, even those that have been
presented to the institution. But don't you look at them,' Bramley said,
'as a whole. You keep all your absorbing-power for one apartment,' he
said--'the Tribune. You'll want it.' Bramley gave me to understand that
it wasn't any use he didn't profess to be able to describe his sublimer
emotions, but when he sat down in the Tribune he had a sort of
instinctive idea that he'd got the cream of it--he didn't want to go any
further."

We decided, therefore, in spite of such minor attractions as those of
Niobe and her daughters, at once to achieve the Tribune, feeling, as
poppa said, that it would be most unfortunate to have our admiration all
used up before we reached it. The guide led the way, and it was beguiled
with the fascinating experience of the Miss Binghams, who had met Queen
Marguerite driving in the Villa Borghese at Rome and had received a bow
from her Majesty of which nothing would ever be able to deprive them.
"Of course we drew up to let her pass," said Miss Nancy, "and were
careful not to make ourselves in any way conspicuous, merely standing up
in the carriage as an ordinary mark of respect. And she looked charming,
all in pink and white, with a faded old maid of honour that set her off
beautifully, didn't she, Cora? And such a pretty smile she gave us--they
say she likes the better class of Americans."

"Oh, we've nothing to regret about Rome," rejoined Cora. "Even Peter's
toe. I wouldn't have kissed it at the time if the guide hadn't said it
was really Jupiter's. I was sure our dear vicar wouldn't mind my kissing
Jupiter's toe. But now I'm glad I did it in any case. People always ask
you that."

When we arrived at the little octagonal treasure chamber Mr. Dod and
Miss Cora sat down together on one of the less conspicuous sofas, and I
saw that Dicky was already warmed to confidence. Momma at once gave up
her soul to the young St. John, having had an engraving of it ever since
she was a little girl, and the Senator went solemnly from canvas to
canvas on tip-toe with a mind equally open to Job and the Fornarina. He
assured Miss Nancy and me that Bramley was perfectly right in thinking
everything of the Tribune, and with reference to the Dancing Fawn, that
it was worth a visit to see Michael Angelo's notion of executing repairs
to statuary alone. He gave the place the benefit of his most serious
attention, pulling his beard a good deal before Titian's Venus (which
poppa always did in connection with this goddess, however, entirely
apart from the merit of the painting) and obviously making allowances
for her of Medici on account of her great age. At the end of the hour we
spent there it had the same effect upon him as upon Colonel Bramley, he
did not wish to go any further; and we parted from the Miss Binghams,
who did. As I said good-bye to Miss Cora she gave my hand a subtly
sympathetic pressure, whispered tenderly, "He's very nice," and
roguishly escaped before I could ask who was, or what difference it
made. Having thought it over, I took the first opportunity of inquiring
of Dicky how much of his private affairs he had unburdened to Miss Cora.
"Oh," said he, "hardly anything. She knows a former young lady friend of
mine in Syracuse--we still exchange Christmas cards--and that led me on
to say I thought of getting married this winter. Of course I didn't
mention Isabel."



CHAPTER XVIII.


Out of indulgence to Dicky we lingered in Florence three or four days
longer than was at all convenient, considering, as the Senator said, the
amount of ground we had to cover before we could conscientiously recross
the Channel. But neither poppa nor momma were people to desert a
fellow-countryman in distress in foreign parts, especially in view of
this one's pathetic reliance upon our sympathy and support, as a family.
We all did our best toward the distraction of what momma called his poor
mind, though I cannot say that we were very successful. His poor mind
seemed wholly taken up with one anticipative idea, and whatever failed
to minister to that he hadn't, as poppa sadly said, any use for. The
cloisters of San Marco had no healing for his spirit, and when we
directed his attention to the solitary painting on the wall with which
Fra Angelico made a shrine of each of its monastic cubicles he merely
remarked that it was more than you got in most hotels, and turned
joylessly away. Even the charred stick that helped to martyr Savonarola
left him cold. He said, indifferently, that it was only the natural
result of mixing up politics and religion, and that certain Chicago
ministers who supported Bryan from the pulpit might well take warning.
But his words were apathetic; he did not really care whether those
Chicago ministers went to the stake or not. We stood him before the
bronze gates of Ghiberti, and walked him up and down between rows of
works in _pietra dura_, but without any permanent effect, and when he
contemplated the consecrated residences of Cimabue and Cellini, we could
see that his interest was perfunctory, and that out of the corner of his
eye he really considered passing fiacres. I read to him aloud from
"Romola," and momma bought him an English and Italian washing book that
he might keep a record of his _camicie_ and his _fazzoletti_--it would
be so interesting afterwards, she thought--while the Senator exerted
himself in the way of cheerful conversation, but it was very
discouraging. Even when we dined at the fashionable open air restaurant
in the Cascine, with no less a person than Ouida, in a fluff of grey
hair and black lace, at the next table, and the most distinguished
gambler of the Italian aristocracy presenting a narrow back to us from
the other side, he permitted poppa to compare the quality of the beef
fillets unfavourably with those of New York in silence, and drank his
Chianti with a lack-lustre eye.

Towards the end of the week, however, Dicky grew remorseful. "It's all
very well," he said to me privately, "for Mrs. Wick to say that she
could spend a lifetime in Florence, if the houses only had a few modern
conveniences. I daresay she could--and as for your poppa, he's as
patient as if this were a Washington hotel and he had a caucus every
night, but it's as plain as Dante's nose that the Senator's dead sick of
this city."

"Dicky," I said, "that is a reflection of your own state of mind. Poppa
is willing to take as much more Botticelli and Filippo Lippi as it may
be necessary to give him."

"Oh, I know he _would_" Dicky admitted, "but he isn't as young as he
was, and I should hate to feel I was imposing on him. Besides, I'm
beginning to conclude that they've skipped Florence."

So it came to pass that we departed for Venice next day, tarrying one
night at Bologna. We had cut a day off Bologna for Dicky's sake, but the
Senator could not be persuaded to sacrifice it altogether on account of
its well known manufacture, into the conditions of which he wished to
inquire. The shops, as we drove to the hotel, seemed to expose nothing
else for sale, but poppa said that, in spite of the local consumption,
it had certainly fallen off, and, as an official representative of one
of its great rivals in the west, he naturally felt a compunctious
interest in the state of the industry. The hotel had a little courtyard,
with an orange tree in the middle and palms in pots, and we came down
the wide marble stairs, past the statues on the landing, and the
paintings on the walls, to find dinner laid on round tables out there, I
remember. A note of momma's occurs here to the effect that there is a
great deal too much fine art in Italian hotels, with a reference to the
fact that the one at Naples had the whole of Pompeii painted on the
dining room walls. She considers this practice embarrassing to the
public mind, which has no way of knowing whether to admire these things
or not, though personally we boldly decided to scorn them all. This,
however, has nothing to do with poppa and the commercial traveller. We
knew he was a commercial traveller by the way he put his toothpick in
his pocket, though poppa said afterwards that he was not exceptionally
endowed for that line of business. He was dining at our table, and by
his gratified manner when we sat down, it was plain that he could speak
English and would be very pleased to do so. Poppa, knowing that his time
was short, began at once.

"You belong to Bologna, sir?" he inquired with his first spoonful of
soup. For some reason it seems impossible to address a stranger at a
_table d'hôte_, before the soup takes the baldness off the situation.

The gentleman smiled. He had a broad, open, amiable, red face, with a
short black beard and a round head covered with thick hair in curls,
beautifully parted. "I do not think I belong," he said; "my house of
business, it is at Milan, and I am born at Finalmarina. But I come much
to Bologna, yes."

"Where did you say you were born?" asked the Senator.

"Finalmarina. You did not go to there, no? I am sorry."

"It does seem a pity," replied poppa, "but we've been obliged to pass a
considerable number of your commercial centres, sir. This city, I
presume, has large manufacturing interests?"

"Oh, yes, I suppose. You 'ave seen that San Petronio, you cannot help.
Very enorm'! More big than San Peter in Rome. But not complete since
fourteenth century. In America you 'ave nothing unfinish, is it not?"

"Far as that goes," said poppa, "we generally manage to complete our
contracts within the year; as a rule, I may say within the building
season. But I have seen one or two Roman Catholic churches left with the
scaffolding hanging round the ceiling for a good deal longer, the altar
all fixed up too, and public worship going on just as usual. It seems to
be a way they have. Well, sir, I knew Bologna, by reputation, better
than any other Italian city, for years. Your local manufacture did the
business. As a boy at school, there was nothing I was more fond of for
my dinner. Thirty years ago, sir, the interest was created that brings
me here to-day."

The commercial traveller bowed with much gratification. In the meantime
he had presented a card to momma, which informed her that Ricardo
Bellini represented the firm of Isapetti and Co., Milan, Artificial
Flowers and Lace.

"Thirty years, that is a long time to remember Bologna, I cannot say
that thirty years I remember New York. You will not believe!" He was
obviously not more than twenty-five, so this was vastly humorous.
"Twenty years, yes, twenty years I will say! And have you seen San
Stefano? Seven churches in one! Also the most old. And having forty
Jerusalem martyrs."

"Forty would go a long way in relics," the Senator observed with
discouragement, "but my remarks had reference to the Bologna sausage,
sir."

"Sausage--ah! _mortadella_--yes they make here I believe." Mr. Bellini
held up his knife and fork to enable his plate to be changed and looked
darkly at the succeeding course. "But every Italian cannot like that
dish. I eat him never. You will not find in this hotel no." His manner
indicated a personal hostility to the Bologna sausage, but the Senator
did not seem to notice it.

"You don't say so! Local consumption going off too, eh? Now how do you
explain that?"

Mr. Bellini shrugged his shoulders. "It is much eat by the poor people.
They will always have that _mortadella_!"

"That looks," said the Senator thoughtfully, "like the production of an
inferior article. But not necessarily, not necessarily, of course."

"Bologna it is very _ecclesiastic_." Mr. Bellini addressed my other
parent, recovering a smile. "We have produced here six popes. It is the
fame of Bologna."

"You seem to think a great deal of producing popes in Italy," momma
replied coldly. "I should consider it a terrible responsibility."

"Now do you suppose," said poppa confidentially, "that the idea of
trichinosis had anything to do with slackening the demand?"

Mr. Bellini threw his head back, and passionately replaced a section of
biscuit and cheese in the middle of his plate.

"I know nossing, any more than you! Why you speak me always that Bologna
sausage! _Pazienza!_ What is it that sausage to make the agreeable
conversation!"

"Sir," exclaimed the Senator with astonishment and equal heat, "you
don't seem to be aware of it, but at one time the Bologna sausage ruled
the world!"

Mr. Bellini, however, could evidently not trust himself to discuss the
matter further. He rose precipitately with an outraged, impersonal bow,
and left the table, abandoning his biscuit and cheese, his half finished
bottle of Rudesheimer and the figs that were to follow, with the
indifference of a lofty nature.

"I'm sorry I spoiled his dinner," said poppa with concern, "but if a
Bologna man can't talk about Bologna sausages, what can he talk about?"

It made the Senator reticent, though, as to sausages of any kind, with
the other commercial traveller--the hotel was full of them, and we found
it very entertaining after the barren dining rooms of southern
Italy--with whom we breakfasted. He spoke to this one exclusively about
the architectural and historic features of the city, in a manner which
forbade any approach to gastronomic themes, and while the second
commercial traveller regarded him with great respect, it must be
confessed that the conversation languished. Dicky might have helped us
out, but Dicky was following his usual custom of having rooms in one
hotel and covering as many others as possible with his meals, in the
hope of an accidental meeting. This was excellent as a distraction for
his mind, but since it occasionally led him into three _déjeuners_ and
two dinners, rather bad, we feared, for other parts of him. He had
confided his design to me; he intended, on meeting Isabel's eye, to turn
very pale, abruptly terminate his repast, ask for his hat and stick, and
walk out with conspicuous agitation. As to the course he meant to pursue
afterwards he was vague; the great thing was to make an impression upon
Isabel. We differed about the nature of the impression. Dicky took it
for granted that she would be profoundly affected, but he made no
allowance for the way in which maternal vigilance like that of Mrs.
Portheris can discourage the imagination.

Poppa made two further attempts to inform himself upon the leading
manufacturing interest of Bologna. He inquired of the _padrone_, who was
pleased to hear that Bologna had a leading manufacturing interest, and
when my parent asked where he could see the process, pointed out several
shops in the Piazza Maggiore. One of these the Senator visited,
note-book in hand, and was shown with great alacrity every variety of
_mortadella_, from delicacies the size of a finger to mottled
conceptions as thick as a small barrel. He found a difficulty in
explaining, however, even with an Italian phrase book, that it was the
manufacture only about which he was curious, and that, admirable as the
result might be, he did not wish to buy any of it. When the latter fact
finally made itself plain, the proprietor became truculent and gave us,
although he spoke no English, so vivid an idea of the inconsistency of
our presence in his premises, that we retired in all the irritation of
the well-meaning and misunderstood. The Senator, however, who had
absolute confidence in his phrase book, saw a deeper significance in the
remarkable unwillingness of the people of Bologna to expatiate upon the
feature which had given them fame. "The fact is," said he gloomily,
restoring his note-book to his inside pocket as we entered the
terra-cotta doorway of St. Catarina, "they're not anxious to let a
stranger into the know of it." And this conviction remaining with him,
still inspires the Senator with a contemptuous pity for the porcine
methods of a people who refuse to submit them to the light of day and
the observation of the world at large.



CHAPTER XIX.


So far, momma said she had every reason to be pleased with the effect on
her mind. About the Senator's she would not commit herself, beyond
saying that we had a great deal to be thankful for in that his health
hadn't suffered, in spite of the indigestibility of that eternal French
twist and honey that you were obliged on the Continent to begin the day
with. She hoped, I think, that the Senator had absorbed other things
beside the French twist equally unconsciously, with beneficial results
that would appear later. He said himself that it was well worth
anybody's while to make the trip, if only in order to be better
satisfied with America for the rest of his life, but why people
belonging to the United States and the nineteenth century should want to
spend whole summers in the Middle Ages he failed to understand. Both my
parents, however, looked forward to Venice with enthusiasm. Momma
expected it to be the realization of all her dreams, and poppa decided
that it must, at all events, be unique. It couldn't have any Arno or any
Campagna in the nature of things--that would be a change--and it was not
possible to the human mind, however sophisticated, with a livelong
experience of street cars and herdics, to stroll up and take a seat in
a gondola and know exactly what would happen, where the fare-box was and
everything, and whether they took Swiss silver, and if a gentleman in a
crowded gondola was expected to give up his seat to a lady and stand.
Poppa, as a stranger and unaccustomed to the motion, hoped this would
not be the case, but I knew him well enough to predict that if it were
so he would vindicate American gallantry at all risks.

Thus it was that, from the moment momma put her head out of the car
window, after Mestre, and exclaimed, "It's getting wateryer and
wateryer," Venice was a source of the completest joy and satisfaction to
both my parents. Dicky and I took it with the more moderate appreciation
natural to our years, but it gave us the greatest pleasure to watch the
simple and unrestrained delight of momma and poppa, and to revert, as it
were, in their experience, to what our own enjoyment might have been had
we been born when they were. "No express agents, no delivery carts, no
baggage checks," murmured poppa, as our trunks glided up to the hotel
steps, "but it gets there all the same." This was the keynote of his
admiration--everything got there all the same. The surprise of it was
repeated every time anything got there, and was only dashed once when we
saw brown-paper parcels being delivered by a boy at the back door of the
Palazzo Balbi, who had evidently walked all the way. The Senator
commented upon that boy and his groceries as an inconsistency, and
thereafter carefully closed his eyes to the fact that even our own
hotel, which faced upon the Grand Canal, had communications to the rear
by which its guests could explore a large part of commercial Venice
without going in a gondola at all. The canals were the only highways he
would recognise, and he went three times to St. Maria della Salute,
which was immediately opposite, for the sake of crossing the street in
the Venetian way. Momma became really hopeful about the stimulus to his
imagination; she told him so. "It appeals to you, Alexander," she said.
"Its poetry comes home to you--you needn't deny it;" and poppa cordially
admitted it. "Yes," he said, "Ruskin, according to the guide-book,
doesn't seem as if he could say too much about this city, and Bramley
was just the same. They're both right, and if we were going to be here
long enough I'd be like that myself. There's something about it that
makes you willing to take a lot of trouble to describe it. There's no
use saying it's the canals, or the reflections in the water, or the
bridges, or the pigeons, or the gargoyles, or the gondolas----"

"Or Salviati, or Jesurum," said momma, in lighter vein.

"Your memory, Augusta, for the names of old masters is perfectly
wonderful," continued poppa placidly. "Or Salviati, or Jesurum, or what.
But there's a kind of local spell about this place----"

"There are various kinds of local smells," interrupted Dicky, whom Mrs.
Portheris still evaded, but this levity received no encouragement from
the Senator. He said instead that he hadn't noticed them himself. For
his part he had come to Venice to use his eyes, not his nose; and Dicky,
thus discouraged, faded visibly upon his stem.

I could see that poppa was still strongly under the influence of the
Venetian sentiment when he invited me to go out in a gondola with him
after dinner, and pointedly neglected to suggest that either momma or
Dicky should come too. I had a presentiment of his intention. If I have
seemed, thus far, to omit all reference to Mr. Page in Boston, since we
left Paris, it is, first, because I believe it is not considered
necessary in a book of travels to account for every half hour, and
second, because I privately believed him to be in correspondence with
the Senator the whole time, and hesitated to expose his duplicity. I had
given poppa opportunities for confessing this clandestine business, but
in his paternal wisdom he had not taken them. I was not prepared,
therefore, to be very responsive when, from a mere desire to indulge his
sense of the fitness of things, poppa endeavoured to probe my sentiments
with regard to Mr. Page by moonlight on the Grand Canal. To begin with,
I wasn't sure of them--so much depended upon what Arthur had been doing;
and besides, I felt that the perfect confidence which should exist
between father and daughter had already been a good deal damaged at the
paternal end. So when poppa said that it must seem to me like a dream,
so much had happened since the day momma and I left Chicago at
twenty-four hours' notice, six weeks ago, I said no, for my part I had
felt pretty wide awake all the time; a person had to be, I ventured to
add, with no more time to waste upon Southern Europe than we had.

"You mean you've been sleeping pretty badly," said the Senator
sympathetically.

"Where was it," I inquired, "you would give us pounded crabs and cream
for supper after we'd been to hear masses for the repose of somebody's
soul? That was a bad night, but I don't think I've had any others. On
the contrary."

"Oh, well," said poppa, "it's a good thing it isn't undermining your
constitution," but he looked as if it were rather a disappointment.

"The American constitution can stand a lot of transportation," I
remarked. "Railways live on that fact. I've heard you say so yourself,
Senator."

Then there was an interval during which the oars of the gondoliers
dipped musically, and the moon made a golden pathway to the marble steps
of the Palazzo Contarina. Then poppa said, "I refer to the object of our
tour."

"The object of our tour wasn't to undermine my constitution," I replied.
"It was to write a book--don't you remember. But it's some time since
you made any suggestions. If you don't look out, the author of that
volume will practically be momma."

The Senator allowed himself to be diverted. "I think," he said, "you'd
better leave the chapter on Venice to me; you can't just talk anyhow
about this city. I'll write it one of these nights before I go to bed."

"But the main reason," he continued, "that sent us to glide this minute
over the canal system of the Bride of the Adriatic was the necessity of
bracing you up after what you'd been through."

"Well," I said, "it's been very successful. I'm all braced up. I'm glad
we have had such a good excuse for coming." A fib is sometimes necessary
to one's self-respect.

"_Premé!_" cried the gondolier, and we shaved past the gondola of a
solitary gentleman just leaving the steps of the Hotel Britannia.

"That was a shave!" poppa exclaimed, and added somewhat inconsequently,
"You might just as well not speak so loud."

"I've always liked Arty," he continued, as we glided on.

"So have I," I returned cordially.

"He's in many ways a lovely fellow," said poppa.

"I guess he is," said I.

"I don't believe," ventured my parent, "that his matrimonial ideas have
cooled down any."

"I hope he may marry well," I said. "Has he decided on Frankie Turner?"

"He has come to no decision that you don't know about. Of course, I have
no desire to interfere where it isn't any of my business, but if you
wish to gratify your poppa, daughter, you will obey him in this matter,
and permit Arthur once more to--to come round evenings as he used to. He
is a young man of moderate income, but a very level head, and it is the
wish of my heart to see you reconciled."

"Sorry I can't oblige you, poppa," I said. I certainly was not going to
have any reconciliation effected by poppa.

"You'd better just consider it, daughter. I don't want to interfere--but
you know my desire, my command."

"Senator," said I, "you don't seem to realise that it takes more than a
gondola to make a paternal Doge. I've got to ask you to remember that I
was born in Chicago. And it's my bed time. Gondolier! _Albergo! Andate
presto!_"

"He seems to understand you," said poppa meekly.

So we dropped Arthur--dropped him, so to speak, into the Grand Canal,
and I really felt callous at the time as to whether he should ever come
up again.

But the Senator's joy in Venice found other means of expressing itself.
One was an active and disinterested appeal to the gondoliers to be a
little less modern in their costume. He approached this subject through
the guide with every gondolier in turn, and the smiling impassiveness
with which his suggestions were received still causes him wonder and
disgust. "I presume," he remonstrated, "you think you earn your living
because tourists have got to get from the Accademia to St. Mark's, and
from St. Mark's to the Bridge of Sighs, but that's only a quarter of the
reason. The other three-quarters is because they like to be rowed there
in gondolas by the gondoliers they've read about, and the gondoliers
they've read about wore proper gondoliering clothes--they didn't look
like East River loafers."

"They are poor men, these _gondolieri_," remarked the guide. "They
cannot afford."

"I am not an infant, my friend. I'm a business man from Chicago. It's a
business proposition. Put your gondoliers into the styles they wore when
Andrea Dandolo went looting Constantinople, and you'll double your
tourist traffic in five years. Twice as many people wanting gondolas,
wanting guides, wanting hotel accommodation, buying your coloured glass
and lace flounces--why, Great Scott! it would pay the city to do the
thing at the public expense. Then you could pass a by-law forbidding
gondoliering to be done in any style later than the fifteenth century.
Pay you over and over again."

Poppa was in earnest, he wanted it done. He was only dissuaded from
taking more active measures to make his idea public by the fact that he
couldn't stay to put it through. He was told, of course, how the plain
black gondola came to be enforced through the extravagance of the nobles
who ruined themselves to have splendid ones, and how the Venetians
scrupled to depart from a historic mandate, but he considered this a
feeble argument, probably perpetuated by somebody who enjoyed a monopoly
in supplying Venice with black paint. "Circumstances alter cases," he
declared. "If that old Doge knew that the P. and O. was going to run
direct between Venice and Bombay every fortnight this year, he'd tell
you to turn out your gondolas silver-gilt!"

Nevertheless, as I say, the Senator's views were coldly received, with
one exception. A highly picturesque and intelligent gondolier, whom the
guide sought to convert to a sense of the anachronism of his clothes in
connection with his calling, promised that if we would give him a
definite engagement for next day, he would appear suitably clad. The
following morning he awaited us with honest pride in his Sunday apparel,
which included violently checked trousers, a hard felt hat, and a large
pink tie. The Senator paid him hurriedly and handsomely and dismissed
him with as little injury to his feelings as was possible under the
circumstances. "Tell him," said poppa to the guide, "to go home and take
off those pants. And tell him, do you understand, to _rush_!"

That same day, in the afternoon, I remember, when we were disembarking
for an ice at Florian's, momma directed our attention to two gentlemen
in an approaching gondola. "There's something about that man," she said
impressively, "I mean the one in the duster, that belongs to the reign
of Louis Philippe."

"There is," I responded; "we saw him last in the Petit Trianon. It's
Mr. Pabbley and Mr. Hinkson. Two more Transatlantic fellow-travellers.
Senator, when we meet them shall we greet them?"

The Senator had a moment of self-expostulation.

"Well, no," he said, "I guess not. I don't suppose we need feel obliged
to keep up the acquaintance of _every_ American we come across in
Europe. It would take us all our time. But I'd like to ask him what use
he finds for a duster in Venice."

"How I wish the Misses Bingham could hear you," I thought, but one
should never annoy one's parents unnecessarily, so I kept my reflections
to myself.



CHAPTER XX.


That last day in Venice we went, I remember, to the Lido. Nothing
happened, but I don't like leaving it out, because it was the last day,
and the next best thing to lingering in Venice is lingering on it. We
went in a steamboat, under protest from poppa, who said it might as well
be Coney Island until we got there, when he admitted points of
difference, and agreed that if people had to come all the way out in
gondolas, certain existing enterprises might as well go out of business.
The steamer was full of Venetians, and we saw that they were charming,
though momma wishes it to be understood that the modern Portia wears her
bodice cut rather too low in the neck and gazes much too softly at the
modern Bassanio. Poppa and I thought it mere amiability that scorned to
conceal itself, but momma referred to it otherwise, admitting, however,
that she found it fascinating to watch.

We seemed to disembark at a restaurant permanent among flowing waters,
so prominent was this feature of the island, but it had only a roof, and
presently we noticed a little grass and some bushes as well. The verdure
had quite a novel look, and we decided to discourage the casual person
who wished to sell us strange and uncertified shell fish from a basket
for immediate consumption, and follow it up.

Dicky was of opinion that we might arrive at the vegetable gardens of
Venice, but in this we were disappointed. We came instead to a
street-car, and half a mile of arbour, and all the Venetians pleasurably
preparing to take carriage exercise. The horses seemed to like the idea
of giving it to them, they were quite light-hearted, one of them
actually pawed. They were the only horses in Venice, they felt their
dignity and their responsibility in a way foreign to animals in the
public service, anywhere else in the world. Personally we would have
preferred to walk to the other end of the arbour, but it would have
seemed a slight, and, as the Senator said, we weren't in Venice to hurt
anybody's feelings that belonged there. It would have been extravagant
too, since the steamboat ticket included the drive at the end. So we
struggled anxiously for good places, and proceeded to the other side
with much circumstance, enjoying ourselves as hard as possible. Dicky
said he never had such a good time; but that was because he had
exhausted Venice and his patience, and was going on to Verona next day.

The arbour and the grass and the street-car track ended sharply and all
together at a raised wooden walk that led across the sand to a pavilion
hanging over the Adriatic, and here we sat and watched other Venetians
disporting themselves in the water below. They were glorious creatures,
and they disported themselves nobly, keeping so well in view of the
pavilion and such a steady eye upon the spectators that poppa had an
impulsive desire to feed them with macaroons. He decided not to; you
never could tell, he said, what might be considered a liberty by
foreigners; but he had a hard struggle with the temptation, the aquatic
accomplishments we saw were so deserving of reward. I had the misfortune
to lose a little pink rose overboard, as it were, and Dicky looked
seriously annoyed when an amphibious young Venetian caught it between
his lips. I don't know why; he was one of the most attractive on view,
but I have often noticed Turkish tendencies in Dicky where his
country-women are concerned. We came away almost immediately after, so
that rose will bloom in my memory, until I forget about it, among
romances that might have been.

Strolling back, we bought a Venetian secret for a sou or two, a
beautiful little secret, I wonder who first found it out. A picturesque
and fishy smelling person in a soft felt hat sold it to us--a pair of
tiny dainty dried sea-horses, "_mère_" and "_père_" he called them. And
there, all in the curving poise of their little heads and the twist of
their little tails, was revealed half the art of Venice, and we saw how
the first glass worker came to be told to make a sea green dragon
climbing over an amber yellow bowl, and where the gondola borrowed its
grace. They moved us to unanimous enthusiasm, and we utterly refused to
let Dicky put one in his button-hole.

It is looking back upon Venice, too, that I see the paternal figure of
the Senator nourishing the people with octopuses. This may seem
improbable, but it is strictly true. They were small octopuses, not
nearly large enough to kill anybody while they were alive, though boiled
and pickled they looked very deadly. Pink in colour, they stood in a
barrel near the entrance, I remember, of Jesurum's, and attracted the
Senator's inquiring eye. When the guide said they were for human
consumption poppa looked at him suspiciously and offered him one. He ate
it with a promptness and artistic despatch that fascinated us all,
gathering it up by its limp long legs and taking bites out of it, as if
it were an apple. A one-eyed man who hooked pausing gondolas up to the
slippery steps offered to show how it should be done, and other
performers, all skilled, seemed to rise from the stones of the pavement.
Poppa invited them all, by pantomime, to walk up and have an octopus,
and when the crowd began to gather from the side alleys, and the
enthusiasm grew too promiscuous, he bought the barrel outright and
watched the carnival from the middle of the canal. He often speaks of
his enjoyment of the Venetian octopus, eaten in cold blood, without
pepper, salt, or vinegar; and the effect, when I am not there, is
awe-stricken.

Next morning we took a gondola for the station, and slipped through the
gold and opal silence of the dawn on the canals away from Venice. No
one was up but the sun, who did as he liked with the façades and the
bridges in the water, and made strange lovelinesses in narrow darkling
places, and showed us things in the _calli_ that we did not know were in
the world. The Senator was really depressing until he gradually
lightened his spirits by working out a scheme for a direct line of
steamships between Venice and New York, to be based on an agreement with
the Venetian municipality as to garments of legitimate gaiety for the
gondoliers, the re-nomination of an annual Doge, who should be compelled
to wear his robes whenever he went out of doors, and the yearly
resurrection of the ancient ceremony of marrying Venice to the Adriatic,
during the months of July and August, when the tide of tourist traffic
sets across the Atlantic. "We should get every school ma'am in the
Union, to begin with," said poppa confidently, and by the time we
reached Verona he had floated the company, launched the first ship,
arrived in Venice with full orchestral accompaniment, and dined the
imitation Doge--if he couldn't get Umberto and Crispi--upon clam chowder
and canvas-backs to the solemn strains of Hail Columbia played up and
down the Grand Canal. "If it _could_ be worked," said poppa as we
descended upon the platform, "I'd like to have the Pope telephone us a
blessing on the banquet."



CHAPTER XXI.


It was the middle of the afternoon, and momma, having spent the morning
among the tombs of the Scaligeri, was lying down. The Scaligeri somehow
had got on her nerves; there were so many of them, and the panoply of
their individual bones was so imposing.

"Daughter," she had said to me on the way back to the hotel, "if you
point out another thing to me I'll slap you." In that frame of mind it
was always best to let momma lie down. The Senator had letters to write;
I think he wanted to communicate his Venetian steamship idea to a man in
Minneapolis. Dicky had already been round to the Hotel di Londres--we
were at the Colomba--and had found nothing, so when he asked me to come
out for a walk I prepared to be steeped in despondency. An unsuccessful
love affair is a severe test of friendship; but I went.

It was as I expected. Having secured a spectator to wreak his gloom
upon, Mr. Dod proceeded to make the most of the opportunity. He put his
hat on recklessly, and thrust his hands into his pa--his trouser
pockets. We were in a strange town, but he fastened his eyes moodily
upon the pavement, as if nothing else were worth considering. As we
strolled into the Piazza Bra, I saw him gradually and furtively turn up
his coat-collar, at which I felt obliged to protest.

"Look here, Dicky," I said, "unrequited affection is, doubtless, very
trying, but you're too much of an advertisement. The Veronese are
beginning to stare at you; their sorcerers will presently follow you
about with their patent philters. Reform your personal appearance, or
here, at the foot of this statue of Victor Emmanuel, I leave you to your
fate."

Dicky reformed it, but with an air of patience under persecution which I
found hard to bear. "I don't know your authority for calling it
unrequited," he said, with dignity.

"All right--undelivered," I replied. "That is a noble statue--you can't
contradict the guide-book. By Borghi."

"Victor Emmanuel, is it? Then it isn't Garibaldi. You don't have to
travel much in Italy to know it's got to be either one or the other.
What they _like_ is to have both," said Mr. Dod, with unnecessary
bitterness. "I'd enjoy something fresh in statues myself." Then, with an
imperfectly-concealed alertness, "There seems to be something going on
over there," he added.

We could see nothing but an arched door in a high, curving wall, and a
stream of people trickling in. "Probably only one of their eternal Latin
church services," continued Dicky. "It's about the only form of public
entertainment you can depend on in this country. But we might as well
have a look in." He went on to say, as we crossed the dusty road, that
my unsympathetic attitude was enough to drive anybody to the Church of
Rome, even in the middle of the afternoon.

But we perceived at once that it was not the Church of Rome, or any
other church. There was more than one arched entrance, and a man in
each, to whom people paid a lira apiece for admission, and when we
followed them in we found our feet still upon the ground, and ourselves
among a forest of solid buttresses and props. The number XV. was cut
deep over the door we came in by, and the props had the air of centuries
of patience. A wave of sound seemed to sweep round in a circle inside
and spend itself about us, of faint multitudinous clappings. Conviction
descended upon us suddenly, and as we stumbled after the others we
shared one classic moment of anticipation, hurrying and curious in 1895
as the Romans hurried and were curious in 110, a little late for the
show in the Arena. They were all there before us, they had taken the
best places, and sat, as we emerged in our astonishment, tier above tier
to the row where the wall stopped and the sky began, intent,
enthusiastic. The wall threw a new moon of shadow on the west, and there
the sun struck down sharply and made splendid the dyes in the women's
clothes, and turned the Italian soldiers' buttons into flaming jewels.
And again, as we stared, the applause went round and up, from the yellow
sand below to the blue sky above, and when we looked bewildered down
into the Arena for the victorious gladiator, and saw a tumbling clown
with a painted face instead, the illusion was only half destroyed. We
climbed and struggled for better places, treading, I fear, in our
absorption on a great many Veronese toes. Dicky said when we got them
that you had to remember that the seats were Roman in order to
appreciate them, they were such very cold stone, and they sloped from
back to front, for the purpose, as we found out afterward from the
guide-book, of letting off the rain water. We were glad to understand
it, but Dicky declared that no explanation would induce him to take a
season ticket for the Arena, it was too destitute of modern
improvements. It was something, though, to sit there watching, with the
ranged multitude, a show in a Roman Amphitheatre--one could imagine
things, lictors and ædiles, senators and centurions. It only required
the substitution of togas and girdled robes for trousers and petticoats,
and a purple awning for the emperor, and a brass-plated body-guard with
long spears and hairy arms and legs, and a few details like that. If one
half closed one's eyes it was hardly necessary to imagine. I was half
closing my eyes, and wondering whether they had Vestal Virgins at this
particular amphitheatre, and trying to remember whether they would turn
their thumbs up or down when they wished the clown to be destroyed, when
Dicky grew suddenly pale and sprang to his feet.

"I was afraid it might give one a chill," I said, "but it is very
picturesque. I suppose the ancient Romans brought cushions."

Mr. Dod did not appear to hear me.

"In the third row below," he exclaimed, blushing joyfully, "the sixth
from this end--do you see? Yellow bun under a floral hat--Isabel!"

"A yellow bun under a floral hat," I repeated, "that would be Isabel, if
you add a good complexion and a look of deportment. Yes, now I see her.
Mrs. Portheris on one side, Mr. Mafferton on the other. What do you want
to do?"

"Assassinate Mafferton," said Dicky. "Does it look to you as if he had
been getting there at all."

"So far as one can see from behind, I should say he has made some
progress, but I don't think, Dicky, that he has arrived. He is
constitutionally slow," I added, "about arriving."

At that moment the party rose. Without a word we, too, got on our feet
and automatically followed, Dicky treading the reserved seats of the
court of Berengarius as if they had been the back rows of a Bowery
theatre. The classics were wholly obscured for him by a floral hat and a
yellow bun. I, too, abandoned my speculations cheerfully, for I expected
Mrs. Portheris, confronted with Dicky, to be more entertaining than any
gladiator.

We came up with them at the exit, and that august lady, as we
approached, to our astonishment, greeted us with effusion.

[Illustration: "Do you see?"]

"We thought," she declared, "that we had lost you altogether. This is
quite delightful. Now we _must_ reunite!" Dicky was certainly included.
It was extraordinary. "And your dear father and mother," went on Mrs.
Portheris, "I am longing to hear their experiences since we parted.
Where are you? The Colomba? Why what a coincidence! We are there, too!
How small the world is!"

"Then you have only just arrived," said Mr. Dod to Miss Portheris, who
had turned away her head, and was regarding the distant mountains.

"Yes."

"By the 11.30 p.m.?"

"No. By the 2.30 p.m."

"Had you a pleasant journey up from Naples?"

"It was rather dusty."

I saw that something quite awful was going on and conversed volubly with
Mrs. Portheris and Mr. Mafferton to give Dicky a chance, but in a moment
I, too, felt a refrigerating influence proceeding from the floral hat
and the bun for which I could not account.

"Where have you been?" inquired Dicky, "if I may ask."

"At Vallombrosa."

There was also a parasol and it twisted indifferently.

"Ah--among the leaves! And were they as thick as William says they are?"

"I don't understand you." And, indeed, this levity assorted
incomprehensively with the black despair that sat on Dicky's
countenance. It was really very painful in spite of Mrs. Portheris's
unusual humanity and Mr. Mafferton's obvious though embarrassed joy, and
as Mrs. Portheris's cab drove up at the moment I made a tentative
attempt to bring the interview to a close. "Mr. Dod and I are walking,"
I said.

"Ah, these little strolls!" exclaimed Mrs. Portheris, with benignant
humour. "I suppose we must condone them now!" and she waved her hand,
rolling away, as if she gave us a British matron's blessing.

"Oh, don't!" I cried. "Don't condone them--you mustn't!" But my words
fell short in a cloud of dust, and even Dicky, wrapped in his tragedy,
failed to receive an impression from them.

"How," he demanded passionately, "do you account for it?"

"Account for what?" I shuffled.

"The size of her head--the frost--the whole bally conversation!"
propounded Dicky, with tears in his eyes.

I have really a great deal of feeling, and I did not rebuke these terms.
Besides, I could see only one way out of it, and I was occupied with the
best terms in which to present it to Dicky. So I said I didn't know, and
reflected.

"She isn't the same girl!" he groaned.

"Men are always talking in the funny columns of the newspapers," I
remarked absently, "about how much better they can throw a stone and
sharpen a pencil than we can."

Mr. Dod looked injured. "Oh, well," he said, "if you prefer to talk
about something else----"

"But they can't see into a sentimental situation any further than into a
board fence," I continued serenely. "My dear Dick, Isabel thinks you're
engaged. So does her mamma. So does Mr. Mafferton."

"Who to?" exclaimed Mr. Dod, in ungrammatical amazement.

"I looked at him reproachfully. Don't be such an owl!" I said.

Light streamed in upon Dicky's mind. "To you!" he exclaimed. "Great
Scott!"

"Preposterous, isn't it?" I said.

"I should ejaculate! Well, no, I mean--I shouldn't ejaculate, but--oh,
you know what I mean----"

"I do," I said. "Don't apologise."

"What in my aunt's wardrobe do they think that for?"

"You left their party and joined ours rather abruptly at Pompeii," I
said.

"Had to!"

"Isabel didn't know you had to. If she tried to find out, I fancy she
was told little girls shouldn't ask questions. It was Lot's wife who
really came between you, but Isabel wouldn't have been jealous of Lot's
wife."

"I suppose not," said Dicky doubtfully.

"Do you remember meeting the Misses Bingham in the Ufizzi? and telling
them you were going to be----"

"That's so."

"You didn't give them enough details. And they told me they were going
to Vallombrosa. And when Miss Cora said good-bye to me she told me you
were a dear or something."

"Why didn't you say I wasn't?"

"Dicky, if you are going to assume that it was my fault----"

"Only one decent hotel--hardly anybody in it--foregathered with old lady
Portheris--told every mortal thing they knew! Oh," groaned Dicky. "Why
was an old maid ever born!"

"She never was," I couldn't help saying, but I might as well not have
said it. Dicky was rapidly formulating his plan of action.

"I'll tell her straight out, after dinner," he concluded, "and her
mother, too, if I get a chance."

"Do you know what will happen?" I asked.

"You never know what will happen," replied Dicky, blushing.

"Mrs. and Miss Portheris and Mr. Mafferton will leave the Hotel Colomba
for parts unknown, by the earliest train to-morrow morning."

"But Mrs. Portheris declares that we're to be a happy family for the
rest of the trip."

"Under the impression that you are disposed of, an impression that
_might_ be allowed to----"

"My heart," said Dicky impulsively, "may be otherwise engaged, but my
alleged mind is yours for ever. Mamie, you have a great head."

"Thanks," I said. "I would certainly tell the truth to Isabel, as a
secret, but----"

"Mamie, we cut our teeth on the same----"

"Horrid of you to refer to it."

"It's such a tremendous favour!"

"It is."

"But since you're in it, you know, already--and it's so very
temporary--and I'll be as good as gold----"

"You'd better!" I exclaimed. And so it was settled that the fiction of
Dicky's and my engagement should be permitted to continue to any extent
that seemed necessary until Mr. Dod should be able to persuade Miss
Portheris to fly with him across the Channel and be married at a Dover
registry office. We arranged everything with great precision, and, if
necessary, I was to fly too, to make it a little more proper. We were
both somewhat doubtful about the necessity of a bridesmaid in a registry
office, but we agreed that such a thing would go a long way towards
persuading Isabel to enter it.

When we arrived at the hotel we found Mrs. Portheris and Mr. Mafferton
affectionately having tea with my parents. Isabel had gone to bed with a
headache, but Dicky, notwithstanding, displayed the most unfeeling
spirits. He drove us all finally to see the tomb of Juliet in the Vicolo
Franceschini, and it was before that uninspiring stone trough full of
visiting cards, behind a bowling green of suburban patronage, that I
heard him, on general grounds of expediency, make contrite advances to
Mrs. Portheris.

"I think I ought to tell you," he said, "that my views have undergone a
change since I saw you."

Mrs. Portheris fixed her _pince nez_ upon him in suspicious inquiry.

"I can even swallow the whale now," he faltered, "like Jonah."



CHAPTER XXII.


After two days of the most humid civility Mrs. Portheris had brought
momma round. It was not an easy process, momma had such a way of fanning
herself and regarding distant objects; and Dicky and I observed its
difficulties with great satisfaction, for a family matter would be the
last thing anybody would venture to discuss with momma under such
circumstances, and we very much preferred that Mrs. Portheris's
overflowing congratulations should be chilled off as long as possible.
Dicky was for taking my parents into our confidence as a measure of
preparation, but with poppa's commands upon me with regard to Arthur, I
felt a delicacy as to the subject of engagements generally. Besides, one
never can tell whether one's poppa and momma would back one up in a
thing like that.

I never could quite understand Mrs. Portheris's increasingly good
opinion of us at this point. The Senator declared that it was because
some American shares of hers had gone up in the market, but that struck
momma and me as somewhat too general in its application. I preferred to
attribute it to the Senator's Tariff Bill. Mr. Mafferton brought us the
_Times_ one evening in Verona, and pointed out with solemn
congratulation that the name of J.P. Wick was mentioned four times in
the course of its leading article. That journal even said in effect
that, if it were not for the faithfully sustained anti-humorous
character which had established it for so many generations in the
approbation of the British public, it would go so far as to call the
contemplated measure "Wicked legislation." Mr. Mafferton could not
understand why poppa had no desire to cut out the article. He said there
was something so interesting about seeing one's name in print--he always
did it. I was very curious to see instances of Mr. Mafferton's name in
print, and finally induced him to show them to me. They were mainly
advertisements for lost dogs--"Apply to the Hon. Charles Mafferton," and
the reward was very considerable.

But this has nothing to do with the way the plot thickened on the Lake
of Como. I was watching Bellagio slip past among the trees on the left
shore and wondering whether we could hear the nightingales if it were
not for the steamer's engines--which was particularly unlikely as it was
the middle of the afternoon--and thinking about the trifles that would
sometimes divide lives plainly intended to mingle. Mere enunciation, for
example, was a thing one could so soon become reaccustomed to; already
momma had ceased to congratulate me on my broad a's, and I could not
help the inference that my conversation was again unobtrusively
Chicagoan. It was frustrating, too, that I had no way of finding out
how much poppa knew, and extremely irritating to think that he knew
anything. He was sitting near me as I mused, immersed in the American
mail, while momma and his Aunt Caroline insensibly glided towards
intimacy again on two wicker chairs close by. Mr. Mafferton was counting
the luggage somewhere; he was never happy on a steamer until he had done
that; and Isabel was being fervently apologised to by Dicky on the other
side of the deck. I hoped she was taking it in the proper spirit. I had
the terms all ready in which _I_ should accept an apology, if it were
ever offered to me.

[Illustration: Fervent apologies.]

"Now, I must not put off any longer telling you how delighted I am at
your dear Mamie's re-engagement."

The statement reached us all, though it was intended for momma only.
Even Mrs. Portheris's more amiable accents had a quality which
penetrated far, with a suggestion of whiskers. I looked again languidly
at Bellagio, but not until I had observed a rapid glance between my
parents, recommending each other not to be taken by surprise.

"Has she confided in you?" inquired momma.

"No--no. I heard it in a roundabout way. You must be very pleased, dear
Augusta. Such an advantage that they have known each other all their
lives!"

Poppa looked guardedly round at me, but by this time I was asleep in my
camp chair, the air was so balmily cool after our hot rattle to Como.

"How _did_ you hear?" he demanded, coming straight to the point, while
momma struggled after tentative uncertainties.

"Oh, a little bird, a little bird--who had it from them both! And much
better, I said when I heard it, that she should marry one of her own
country-people. American girls nowadays will so often be content with
nothing less than an Englishman!"

"So far as that goes," said the Senator crisply, "we never buy anything
we haven't a use for, simply because it's cheap. But I don't mind
telling you that my daughter's re-engagement, on the old American lines,
is a thing I've been wanting to happen for some time."

"And there are some really excellent points about Mr. Dod. We must
remember that he is still very young. He has plenty of time to repair
his fortunes. Of one thing we may be sure," continued Mrs. Portheris
magnanimously, "he will make her a very _kind_ husband."

At this I opened my eyes inadvertently--nobody could help it--and saw
the barometrical change in poppa's countenance. It went down twenty
degrees with a run, and wore all the disgust of an hon. gentleman who
has jumped to conclusions and found nothing to stand on.

"Oh, you're away off there, Aunt Caroline," he said with some annoyance.
"Better sell your little bird and buy a telephone. Richard Dod is no
more engaged to our daughter than the man in the moon."

"Well, I should say not!" exclaimed momma.

"I have it on the _best_ authority," insisted Mrs. Portheris blandly.
"You American parents are so seldom consulted in these matters. Perhaps
the young people have not told you."

This was a nasty one for both the family and the Republic, and I heard
the Senator's rejoinder with satisfaction.

"We don't consider, in the United States, that we're the natural bullies
of our children because we happen to be a little older than they are,"
he said, "but for all that we're not in the habit of hearing much news
about them from outsiders. I'll have to get you to promise not to go
spreading such nonsense around, Aunt Caroline."

"Oh, of course, if you say so, but I should be better satisfied if she
denied it herself," said Mrs. Portheris with suavity. "My information
was so very exact."

I had slumbered again, but it did not avail me. I heard the American
mail dispersing itself about the deck in all directions as the Senator
rose, strode towards my chair, and shook me much more vigorously than
there was any necessity for.

"Here's Aunt Caroline," he said, "wanting us to believe that you and
Dicky Dod are engaged--you two that have quarrelled as naturally as
brother and sister ever since you were born. I guess you can tell her
whether it's very likely!"

I yawned, to gain time, but the widest yawn will not cover more than two
seconds.

"What an extraordinary question!" I said. It sounds weak, but that was
the way one felt.

"Don't prevaricate, Mamie, love," said Mrs. Portheris sternly.

"I'm not--I don't. But n-nothing of the kind is announced, is it?" I was
growing nervous under the Senatorial eye.

"Nothing of the kind _exists_," said poppa, the Doge all over, except
his umbrella. "Does it?"

"Why no," I said. "Dicky and I aren't engaged. But we have an
understanding."

I was extremely sorry. Mrs. Portheris was so triumphant, and poppa
allowed his irritation to get so much the better of him.

"Oh," he said, "you've got an understanding! Well, you've been too
intelligent, darned if you haven't!" The Senator pulled his beard in his
most uncompromising manner. "Now you can understand something more. I'm
not going to have it. You haven't got my consent and you're not going to
get it."

"But, my dear nephew, the match is so suitable in every respect! Surely
you would not stand in the way of a daughter's happiness when both
character and position--position in Chicago, of course, but still--are
assured!"

Poppa paused, uncertain for an instant whether to turn his wrath upon
his aunt, and that, of course, was my opportunity to plead with my angry
parent. But the knowledge that the hopes which poppa was reducing to
dust and ashes were fervently fixed on a floral hat and a yellow bun
over which he had no control, on the other side of the ship, overcame
me, and I looked at Bellagio to hide my emotions instead, in a way which
they might interpret as obstinate, if they liked.

"Aunt Caroline," said the Senator firmly, "I'll thank you to keep your
spoon out of the preserves. My daughter knows where I have given her
hand, and that's the direction she's going with her feet. Mary, I may as
well inform you that the details of your wedding are being arranged in
Chicago this minute. It will take place within three weeks of our
arrival, and it won't be any slump. But Richard Dod might as well be
told right now that he won't be in it, unless in the capacity of usher.
As I don't contemplate breaking up this party and making things
disagreeable all round, you'll have to tell him yourself. We sail from
Liverpool"--poppa looked at his watch--"precisely one week and four
hours from now, and if Mr. Dod has not agreed to the conditions I
mention by that time we will leave him upon the shore. That's all I have
to say, and between now and then I don't expect you or anybody else to
have the nerve to mention the matter to me again."

After that it was impossible to wink at poppa, or in any way to give him
the assurance that my regard for him was unimpaired. There are things
that can't be passed over with a smile in one's poppa without doing him
harm, and this was one of them. It was a regular manifesto, and I felt
exactly like Lord Salisbury. I couldn't take him seriously, and yet I
had to tell him to come on, if he wanted to, and devote his spare time
to learning the language of diplomacy. So I merely bowed with what
magnificence I could command and filed it, so to speak; and walked to
the other side of the deck, leaving poppa to his conscience and momma
and his Aunt Caroline. I left him with confidence, not knowing which
would give him the worst time. Mrs. Portheris began it, before I was out
of earshot. "For an American parent," she said blandly, "it strikes me,
Joshua, that you are a little severe."

I found Mr. Mafferton interfering, as I expected, with Dicky and Isabel
in their appreciation of the west shore. He was pointing out the Villa
Carlotta at Caddenabbia, and explaining the beauties of the sculptures
there and dwelling on the tone of blue in the immediate Alps and
reminding them that the elder Pliny once picked wild flowers on these
banks, and generally making himself the intelligent nuisance that nature
intended him to be. In spite of it Isabel was radiant. She said a number
of things with the greatest ease; one saw that language, after all, was
not difficult to her, she only wanted practice and an untroubled mind. I
looked at Dicky and saw that a weight had been removed from his, and it
was impossible to avoid the conclusion that peace and satisfaction in
this life would date for these two, if all went well for the next few
days, from the Lake of Como. But all could not be relied upon to go well
so long as Mr. Mafferton hovered, quoting Claudian on the mulberry tree,
upon the brink of a proposal, so I took him away to translate his
quotation for me in the stern, which naturally suggested the past and
its emotions. We could now refer quite sympathetically to the altogether
irretrievable and gone by, and Mr. Mafferton was able to mention Lady
Torquilan without any trace of his air that she was a person, poor dear,
that brought embarrassment with her. Indeed, I sometimes thought he
dragged her in. I asked him, in appropriate phrases, of course, whether
he had decided to accept Mrs. Portheris's daughter, and he fixed
mournful eyes upon me and said he thought he had, almost. The news of my
engagement to Mr. Dod had apparently done much to bring him to a
conclusion; he said it pointed so definitely to the unlikelihood of his
ever being able to find a more stimulating companion than Miss
Portheris, with all her charms, was likely to prove. It was difficult,
of course, to see the connection, but I could not help confiding to Mr.
Mafferton, as a secret, that there was hardly any chance of my union
with Dicky--after what poppa had said. When I assured him that I had no
intention whatever of disobeying my parent in a matter of which he was
so much better qualified to be a judge than I, it was impossible not to
see Mr. Mafferton's good opinion of me rising in his face. He said he
could not help sympathising with the paternal view, but that was all he
_would_ say; he refrained magnificently from abusing Dicky. And we
parted mutually more deeply convinced than ever of the undesirability of
doing anything rash in the all important direction we had been
discussing.

As we disembarked at Colico to take the train for Chiavenna, Mrs.
Portheris, after seeing that Mr. Mafferton was collecting the
portmanteaux, gave me a word of comfort and of admonition. "Take my
advice, my child," she said, "and be faithful to poor dear Richard. Your
father must, in the end, give way. I shall keep at him in your
interests. When you left us this afternoon," continued the lady
mysteriously, "he immediately took out his fountain pen and wrote a
letter. It was directed--I saw that much--to a Mr. Arthur Page. Is he
the creature who is to be forced upon you, my child?" Mrs. Portheris in
the sentimental view was really affecting.

"I think it very likely," I said calmly, "but I have promised to be
faithful to Richard, Mrs. Portheris, and I will."

But I really felt a little nervous.



CHAPTER XXIII.


The instant we saw the diligence momma declared that if she had to sit
anywhere but in the middle of it she would remain in Chiavenna until
next day. Mrs. Portheris was of the same mind. She said that even the
_intérieur_ would be dangerous enough going down hill, but if the
Senator would sit there too she would try not to be nervous. The _coupé_
was terrifying--one saw everything the poor dear horses did--and as to
the _banquette_ she could imagine herself flying out of it, if we so
much as went over a stone. As a party we were strangers to the
diligence; we had all the curiosity and hesitation about it, as Dicky
remarked, of the animals when Noah introduced them to the Ark. I asked
Dicky to describe the diligence for the purpose of this volume, thinking
that it might, here and there, have a reader who had never seen one, and
he said that, as soon as he had made up his mind whether it was most
like a triumphal chariot in a circus procession or a boudoir car in an
ambulance, he would; but then his eyes wandered to Isabel, who was
pinker than ever in the mountain air, and his reasoning faculties left
him. A small German with a very red nose, most incoherent in his
apparel--he might have been a Baron or again a hair-dresser--already
occupied one of the seats in the _intérieur_, so after our elders had
been safely deposited beside him the _banquette_ and the _coupé_ were
left, as Mrs. Portheris said, to the adventurous young people. Dicky and
I had conspired, for the sustained effect on Mrs. Portheris, to sit in
the _banquette_, while Isabel was to suffer Mr. Mafferton in the
_coupé_--an arrangement which her mother viewed with entire complacency.
"After all," said Mrs. Portheris to momma, "we're not in Hyde Park--and
young people will be young people." We had not counted, however, with
the Senator, who suddenly realised, as Dicky was handing me up, that it
was his business, in the capacity of Doge, to interfere. It is to his
credit that he found it embarrassing, on account of his natural, almost
paternal, dislike to make things unpleasant for Dicky. He assumed a
sternly impenetrable expression, thought about it for a moment, and then
approached Mr. Mafferton.

"I'd be obliged to you," he said, "if you could arrange, without putting
yourself out any, to change places with young Dod, there, as far as St.
Moritz. I have my reasons--but not necessarily for publication. See?"

Mr. Mafferton's eye glistened with appreciation of the confidence
reposed in him. "I shall be most happy," he said, "if Dod doesn't mind."
But Dicky, with indecent haste, was already in the _coupé_. "Don't
mention it, Mafferton," he said out of the window. "I'm delighted--at
least--whatever the Senator says has got to be done, of course," and he
made an attempt to look hurt that would not have imposed upon anybody
but a self-constituted Doge with a guilty conscience. I took my
bereavement in stony calm, with possibly just a suggestion about my
eyebrows and under-lip that some day, on the far free shores of Lake
Michigan, a downtrodden daughter would re-assert herself; poppa
re-entered an _intérieur_ darkened by a thunder-cloud on the brow of his
Aunt Caroline; and we started.

It was some time before Mr. Mafferton interfered in the least with the
Engadine. He seemed wrapped in a cloud of vain imaginings, sprung,
obviously, from poppa's ill-considered request. I understood his
emotions and carefully respected his silence. I was unwilling to be
instructed about the Engadine either botanically or geologically--it was
more agreeable not to know the names of the lovely little foreign
flowers, and quite pleasant enough that every turn in the road showed us
a white mountain or a purple one without having to understand what it
was made of. Besides, I particularly did not wish to precipitate
anything, and there are moments when a mere remark about the weather
will do it. I had been suffering a good deal from my conscience since
Mrs. Portheris had told me that poppa had written to Arthur--I didn't
mind him enduring unnumbered pangs of hope deferred, but it was quite
another thing that he should undergo the unnecessary martyrdom of
imagining that he had been superseded by Dicky Dod. On reflection, I
thought it would be safer to start Mr. Mafferton on the usual lines, and
I nerved myself to ask him whether he could tell me anything about the
prehistoric appearance of these lovely mountains.

"I am glad," he responded absently, "that you admire my favourite Alps."
Nothing more. I tried to prick him to the consideration of the scenery
by asking him which were his favourite Alps, but this also came to
nothing. Having acknowledged his approval of the Alps, he seemed willing
to let them go unadorned by either fact or fancy. I offered him
sandwiches, but he seemed to prefer his moustache. Presently he roused
himself.

"I'm afraid you must think me very uninteresting, Miss Wick," he said.

"Dear me, no," I replied. "On the contrary, I think you are a lovely
type."

"Type of an Englishman?" Mr. Mafferton was not displeased.

"Type of some Englishmen. You would not care to represent the--ah,
commercial classes?"

"If I had been born in that station," replied Mr. Mafferton modestly, "I
should be very glad to represent them. But I should _not_ care to be a
Labour candidate."

"It wouldn't be very appropriate, would it?" I suggested. "But do you
ever mean to run for anything, really?"

"Certainly not," Mr. Mafferton replied, with slight resentment. "In our
family we never run. But, of course, I will succeed my uncle in the
Upper House."

"Dear me!" I exclaimed. "So you will! I should think it would be simply
lovely to be born a legislator. In our country it is attained by such
painful degrees." It flashed upon me in a moment why Mr. Mafferton was
so industrious in collecting general information. He was storing it up
against the day when he would be able to make speeches, which nobody
could interrupt, in the House of Lords.

The conversation flagged again, and I was driven to comment upon the
appearance of the little German down in the _intérieur_. It was quite
remarkable, apart from the bloom on his nose, his pale-blue eyes
wandered so irresponsibly in their sockets, and his scanty, flaxen beard
made such an unsuccessful effort to disguise the amiability of his chin.
He wore a braided cotton coat to keep cool, and a woollen comforter to
keep warm, and from time to time he smilingly invited the attention of
the other three to vast green maps of the country, which I could see him
apologising for spreading over Mrs. Portheris's capacious lap. It was
interesting to watch his joyous sense of being in foreign society, and
his determination to be agreeable even if he had to talk all the time.
Now and then a sentence bubbled up over the noise of the wheels, as when
he had the happiness to discover the nationalities of his
fellow-travellers.

"Ach, is it so? From England, from America also, and I from Markadorf
am! Four peoples, to see zis so beautiful Switzerland from everyveres in
one carriage we are come!" He smiled at them one after another in the
innocent joy of this wonderful fact, and it made me quite unhappy to see
how unresponsive they had grown.

"In America I haf one uncle got----"

"No, I don't know him," said the Senator, who was extremely tired of
being expected to keep up with society in Castle Garden.

"But before I vas born going, mein uncle I myself haf never seen! To
Chicago mit nossings he went, und now letters ve are always getting it
is goot saying."

"Made money, has he?" poppa inquired, with indifference.

"Mit some small flours of large manufacture selling. Dose small
flours--ze name forgotten I haf--ze breads making, ze cakes making, ze
mädschen----"

"Baking powder!" divined momma.

"Bakings--powder! In America it is moch eat. So mine uncle Blittens----"

"Josef Blittens?" exclaimed poppa.

"Blittens und Josef also! The name of mine uncle to you is known! He is
so rich, mit carriage, piano, large family--he is now famous also, hein?
My goot uncle!"

"He's been my foreman for fifteen years," said poppa, "and I don't care
where he came from; he's as good an American now as there is in the
Union. I am pleased to make the acquaintance of any member of his
family. There's nothing in the way of refreshments to be got till we
next change horses, but as soon as that happens, sir, I hope you will
take something."

After that we began to rattle down the other side of the Julier and I
lost the thread of the conversation, but I saw that Herr Blittens'
determination to practise English was completely swamped in the
Senator's desire to persuade him of the advantages of emigration.

"I never see a foreigner in his native land," said Mr. Mafferton,
regarding this one with disapproval, "without thinking what a pity it is
that any portion of the earth, so desirable for instance as this is,
should belong to him." Which led me to suggest that when he entered
political life in _his_ native land Mr. Mafferton should aim at the
Cabinet, he was obviously so well qualified to sustain British
traditions.

My companion's mind seemed to be so completely diverted by this prospect
that I breathed again. He could be depended upon I knew, never to think
seriously of me when there was an opportunity of thinking seriously of
himself, and in that certainty I relaxed my efforts to make it quite
impossible that anything should happen. I forgot the contingencies of
the situation in finding whiter glaciers and deeper gorges, and looking
for the Bergamesque sheep and their shepherds which Baedeker assured us
were to be seen pasturing on the slopes and heights of the Julier
wearing long curling locks, mantles of brown wool, and peaked Calabrian
hats. We grew quite frivolous over this phenomenon, which did not
appear, and it was only after some time that we observed the Baedeker to
be of 1877, and decided that the home of truth was not in old editions.
It seemed to me afterwards that Mr. Mafferton had been waiting for his
opportunity; he certainly took advantage of a very insufficient one.

"It's exactly," said I, talking of the compartments of the diligence,
"as if Isabel and Dicky had the first floor front, momma and poppa the
dining room, and you and I the second floor back."

It was one of those things that one lives to repent if one survives them
five seconds; but my remorse was immediately swallowed up in
consequences. I do not propose to go into the details of Mr. Mafferton's
second attempt upon my insignificant hand--to be precise, I wear fives
and a quarter--but he began by saying that he thought we could do better
than that, meaning the second floor back, and he mentioned Park Lane. He
also said that ever since Dicky, doubtless before his affections had
become involved, had told him that there was a possibility of my
changing my mind--I was nearly false to Dicky at this point--he had been
giving the matter his best consideration, and he had finally decided
that it was only fair that I should have an opportunity of doing so.
These were not his exact words, but I can be quite sure of my
impression. We were trotting past the lake at Maloja when this came upon
me, and when I reflected that I owed it about equally to poppa and to
Dicky Dod I felt that I could have personally chastised them--could have
slapped them--both. What I longed to do with Mr. Mafferton was to hurl
him, figuratively speaking, down an abyss, but that would have been to
send him into Mrs. Portheris's beckoning arms next morning, and I had
little faith in any floral hat and pink bun once its mamma's commands
were laid upon it. I thought of my cradle companion--not tenderly, I
confess--and told Mr. Mafferton that I didn't know what I had done to
deserve such an honour a second time, and asked him if he had properly
considered the effect on Isabel. I added that I fancied Dicky was
generalising about American girls changing their minds, but I would try
and see if I had changed mine and would let him know in six days, at
Harwich. Any decision made on this side of the Channel might so easily
be upset. And this I did knowing quite well that Dicky and Isabel and I
were all to elope from Boulogne, Dicky and Isabel for frivolity and I
for propriety; for this had been arranged. In writing a description of
our English tour I do not wish to exculpate myself in any particular.

We arrived late at St. Moritz, and the little German, on a very
fraternal footing, was still talking as the party descended from the
_intérieur_. He spoke of the butterflies the day before in Pontresina,
and he laughed with delight as he recounted.

"Vorty maybe der vas, vifty der vas, mit der diligence vlying along; und
der brittiest of all I catch; he _vill_ come at my nose"



CHAPTER XXIV.


Leaving out the scenery--the Senator declares that nothing
spoils a book of travels like scenery--the impressions of St. Moritz
which remain with me have something of the quality, for me, of the
illustrations in a French novel. I like to consult them; they are so
crisp and daintily defined and isolated and individual. Yet I can only
write about an upper class German mamma eating brodchen and honey with
three fair square daughters, young, younger, youngest, and not a flaxen
hair mislaid among them, and the intelligent accuracy with which they
looked out of the window and said that it was a horse, the horse was
lame, and it was a pity to drive a lame horse. Or about the two American
ladies from the south, creeping, wrapped up in sealskins, along the
still white road from the Hof to the Bad, and saying one to the other,
"Isn't it nice to feel the sun on yo' back?" Or about the curio shops on
the ridge where the politest little Frenchwomen endeavour to persuade
you that you have come to the very top of the Engadine for the purpose
of buying Japanese candlesticks and Italian scarves to carry down again.
It was all so clear and sharp and still at St. Moritz; everything drew
a double significance from its height and its loneliness. But, as poppa
says, a great deal of trouble would be saved if people who feel that
they can't describe things would be willing to consider the alternative
of leaving them alone; and I will only dwell on St. Moritz long enough
to say that it nearly shattered one of Mr. Mafferton's most cherished
principles. Never in his life before, he said, had he felt inclined to
take warm water in his bath in the morning. He made a note of the
temperature of his tub to send to the _Times_. "You never can tell," he
said, "the effect these little things may have." I was beginning to be
accustomed to the effect they had on me.

Before we got to Coire the cool rushing night had come and the glaciers
had blotted themselves out. I find a mere note against Coire to the
effect that it often rains when you arrive there, and also that it is a
place in which you may count on sleeping particularly sound if you come
by diligence; but there is no reason why I should not mention that it
was under the sway of the Dukes of Swabia until 1268, as momma wishes me
to do so. We took the train there for Constance, and between Coire and
Constance, on the Bodensee, occurred Rorshach and Romanshorn; but we
didn't get out, and, as momma says, there was nothing in the least
individual about their railway stations. We went on that Bodensee,
however, I remember with animosity, taking a small steamer at Constance
for Neuhausen. It was a gray and sulky Bodensee, full of little dull
waves and a cold head wind that never changed its mind for a moment.
Isabel and I huddled together for comfort on the very hard wooden seat
that ran round the deck, and the depth of our misery may be gathered
from the fact that, when the wind caught Isabel's floral hat under the
brim and cast it suddenly into that body of water, neither of us looked
round! Mrs. Portheris was very much annoyed at our unhappy indifference.
She implied that it was precisely to enable Isabel to stop a steamer on
the Bodensee in an emergency of this sort that she had had her taught
German. Dicky told me privately that if it had happened a week before he
would have gone overboard in pursuit, for the sake of business, without
hesitation, but, under the present happy circumstances, he preferred the
prospect of buying a new hat. Nothing else actually transpired during
the afternoon, though there were times when other events seemed as
precipitant, to most of us, as upon the tossing Atlantic, and we made
port without having realised anything about the Bodensee, except that we
would rather not be on it.

Neuhausen was the port, but Schaffhausen was of course the place, two or
three dusty miles along a river the identity of which revealed itself to
Mrs. Portheris through the hotel omnibus windows as an inspiration. "Do
we all fully understand," she demanded, "that we are looking upon the
Rhine?" And we endeavoured to do so, though the Senator said that if it
were not so intimately connected with the lake we had just been
delivered from he would have felt more cordial about it. I should like
to have it understood that relations were hardly what might be called
strained at this time between the Senator and myself. There were
subjects which we avoided, and we had enough regard for our dignity,
respectively, not to drop into personalities whatever we did, but we had
a _modus vivendi_, we got along. Dicky maintained a noble and pained
reserve, giving poppa hours of thought, out of which he emerged with the
almost visible reflection that a Wick never changed his mind.

There was a garden with funny little flowers in it which went out of
fashion in America about twenty years ago. There was also a _châlet_ in
the garden, where we saw at once that we could buy cuckoo clocks and
edelweiss and German lace if we wanted to. There was a big hotel full of
people speaking strange languages--by this time we all sympathised with
Mr. Mafferton in his resentment of foreigners in Continental hotels; as
he said, one expected them to do their travelling in England. There were
the "Laufen" foaming down the valley under the dining room windows,
there were the Swiss waitresses in short petticoats and velvet bodices
and white chemisettes, and at the dinner table, sitting precisely
opposite, there were the Malts. Mr. Malt, Mrs. Malt, Emmeline Malt, and
Miss Callis, not one of them missing. The Malts whom we had left at
Rome, left in the same hotel with Count Filgiatti, and to some purpose
apparently, for seated attentively next to Mrs. Malt there also was
that diminutive nobleman.

As a family we saw at a glance that America was not likely to be the
poorer by one Count in spite of the way we had behaved to him. Miss
Callis, with four thousand dollars a year of her own, was going to offer
them up to sustain the traditions of her country. A Count, if she could
help it, should not go a-begging more than twice. Further impressions
were lost in the shock of greeting, but it recurred to me instantly to
wonder whether Miss Callis had really gone into the question of keeping
a Count on that income, whether she would be able to give him all the
luxuries he had been brought up in anticipation of. It was interesting
to observe the slight embarrassment with which Count Filgiatti
re-encountered his earlier American vision, and his re-assurance when I
gave him the bow of the most travelling of acquaintances. Nothing was
further from my thoughts than interfering. When I considered the number
of engagements upon my hands already, it made me quite faint to
contemplate even an _arrangimento_ in addition to them.

We told the Malts where we had been and they told us where they had been
as well as we could across the table without seeming too confidential,
and after dinner Emmeline led the way to the enclosed verandah which
commanded the Falls. "Come along, ladies and gentlemen," said Emmeline,
"and see the great big old Schaffhausen Fraud. Performance begins at
nine o'clock exactly, and no reserve seats, so unless you want to get
left, Mrs. Portheris, you'd better put a hustle on."

Miss Malt had gone through several processes of annihilation at Mrs.
Portheris's hands, and had always come out of them so much livelier than
ever, that our Aunt Caroline had abandoned her to America some time
previously.

"Emmeline!" exclaimed Mrs. Malt, "you are _too_ personal."

"She ought to be sent to the children's table," Mrs. Portheris remarked
severely.

"Oh, that's all right, Mrs. Portheris. I don't like milk puddings--they
give you a double chin. I expect you've eaten a lot of 'em in your time,
haven't you, Mis' Portheris? Now, Mr. Mafferton, you sit here, and you,
Mis' Wick, you sit _here_. That's right, Mr. Wick, you hold up the wall.
I ain't proud, I'll sit on the floor--there now, we're every one fixed.
No, Mr. Dod, none of us ladies object to smoking--Mis' Portheris smokes
herself, don't you, Mis' Portheris?"

"Emmeline, if you pass another remark to bed you go!" exclaimed her
mother with unction.

"I was fourteen the day before yesterday, and you don't send people of
fourteen to bed. I got a town lot for a birthday present. Oh, there's
the French gentleman! _Bon soir, Monsieur! Comment va-t-il! Attendez!_"
and we were suddenly bereft of Emmeline.

"She's gone to play poker with that man from Marseilles," remarked Mrs.
Malt. "Really, husband, I don't know----"

"You able to put a limit on the game?" asked poppa.

Everybody laughed, and Mr. Malt said that it wasn't possible for
Emmeline to play for money because she never could keep as much as five
francs in her possession, but if she _did_ he'd think it necessary to
warn the man from Marseilles that Miss Malt knew the game.

"And she's perfectly right," continued her father, "in describing this
illumination business as a fraud. I don't say it isn't pretty enough,
but it's a fraud this way, they don't give you any choice about paying
your money for it. Now we didn't start boarding at this hotel, we went
to the one down there on the other side of the river. We were very much
fatigued when we arrived, and every member of our party went straight to
bed. Next day--I always call for my bills daily--what do I find in my
account but '_Illumination de la chute de la Rhin_' one franc apiece."

"And you hadn't ordered anything of the kind," said poppa.

"Ordered it? I hadn't even seen it! Well, I didn't lose my temper. I
took the document down to the office and asked to have it explained to
me. The explanation was that it cost the hotel a large sum of money. I
said I guessed it did, and it was also probably expensive to get hot and
cold water laid on, but I didn't see any mention of that in the bill,
though I used the hot and cold water, and didn't use the illumination."

"That's so," said poppa.

"Well, then the fellow said it was done all on my account, or words to
that effect, and that it was a beautiful illumination and worth twice
the money, and as it was the rule of the hotel he'd have to trouble me
for the price of it."

"Did you oblige him?" asked poppa.

"Yes, I did. I hated to awfully, but you never can tell where the law
will land you in a foreign country, especially when you can't converse
with the judge, and I don't expect any stranger could get justice in
Schaffhausen against an hotel anyway. But I sent for my party's trunks,
and we moved--down there to that little thing like a castle overhanging
the Falls. It was a castle once, I believe, but it's a deception now,
for they've turned it into an hotel."

"Find it comfortable there?" inquired the Senator.

"Well, I'm telling you. Pretty comfortable. You could sit in the garden
and get as wet as you liked from the spray, and no extra charge; and if
you wanted to eat apricots at the same time they only cost you a franc
apiece. So when I saw how moderate they were every way, I didn't think
I'd have any trouble about the illumination, specially as I heard that
the three hotels which compose Schaffhausen subscribed to run the
electric plant, and I'd already helped one hotel with its subscription."

"When did you move in here?" asked poppa.

"I am coming to that. Well, I saw the show that night. I happened to be
on an outside balcony when it came off, and I couldn't help seeing it. I
wouldn't let myself out so far as to enjoy it, for fear it might
prejudice me later, but I certainly looked on. You can't keep your eyes
shut for three-quarters of an hour for the sake of a principle valued at
a franc a head."

"I expect you had to pay," said poppa.

"You're so impatient. I looked coldly on, and between the different
coloured acts I made a calculation of the amount the hotel opposite was
losing by its extortion. I took considerable satisfaction in doing it.
You can get excited over a little thing like that just as much as if it
were the entire Monroe Doctrine; and I couldn't sleep, hardly, that
night for thinking of the things I'd say to the hotel clerk if the
illumination item decorated the bill next day. Cut myself shaving in the
morning over it--thing I never do. Well, there it was--'_Illumination de
la chute de la Rhin_,' same old French story, a franc apiece."

"I thought, somehow, from what you've been saying, that it _would_ be
there," remarked the Senator patiently.

"Well, sir, I tried to control myself, but I guess the clerk would tell
you I was pretty wild. There wasn't an argument I didn't use. I threw as
many lights on the situation as they did on the Falls. I asked him how
it would be if a person preferred his Falls plain? I told him I paid
him board and lodging for what Schaffhausen could show me, not for what
I could show Schaffhausen. I used the words 'pillage,' 'outrage,' and
other unmistakable terms, and I spoke of communicating the matter to the
American Consul at Berne."

"And after that?" inquired the Senator.

"Oh, it wasn't any use. After that I paid, and moved. Moved right up
here, this morning. But I thought about it a good deal on the way, and
concluded that, if I wasn't prepared to sample every hotel within ten
miles of this cataract for the sake of not being imposed upon, I'd have
to take up a different attitude. So I walked up to the manager the
minute we arrived, fierce as an Englishman--beg your pardon, Squire
Mafferton, but the British _have_ a ferocious way with hotel managers,
as a rule. I didn't mean anything personal--and said to him exactly as
if it was my hotel, and he was merely stopping in it, 'Sir,' I said, 'I
understand that the guests of this hotel are allowed to subscribe to an
electric illumination of the Falls of the Rhine. You may put me down for
ten francs. Now I'm prepared, for the first time, to appreciate the
evening's entertainment."

Shortly after the recital of Mr. Malt's experiences the illumination
began, and we realised what it was to drink coffee in fairyland. Poppa
advises me, however, to attempt no description of the Falls of
Schaffhausen by any light, because "there," he says, "you will come into
competition with Ruskin." The Senator is perfectly satisfied with
Ruskin's description of the Falls; he says he doesn't believe much could
be added to it. Though he himself was somewhat depressed by them, he
found that he liked them so much better than Niagara. I heard him myself
tell five different Alpine climbers, in precise figures, how much more
water went over our own cataract.

It was discovered that evening that Mr. and Mrs. Malt, and Emmeline, and
Miss Callis and the Count were going on to Heidelberg and down the Rhine
by precisely the same train and steamer that we had ourselves selected.
Mrs. Malt was looking forward to the ruins on the embattled Rhine with
all the enthusiasm we had expended upon Venice, but Mr. Malt declared
himself so full of the picturesque already that he didn't know how he
was going to hold another castle.



CHAPTER XXV.


We were on our way from Basle to Heidelberg, I remember, and
Mr. Malt was commenting sarcastically upon Swiss resources for naming
towns as exemplified in "Neuhausen." "There's a lot about this country,"
said Mr. Malt, "that reminds you of the world as it appeared about the
time you built it for yourself every day with blocks, and made it lively
with animals out of your Noah's Ark. I can't say what it is, but that's
a sample of it--'New Houses!' What a baby baa-lamb name for a town! It
would settle the municipality in our part of the world--any railway
would make a circuit of fifty miles to avoid it!"

Mr. Mafferton and I had paused in our conversation, and these remarks
reached us in full. They gave him the opportunity of bending a
sympathetic glance upon me and saying, "How graphic your countrymen are,
Miss Wick." Cologne was only three days off, but Mr. Mafferton never
departed from the proprieties in his form of address. He was in that
respect quite the most docile and respectful person I have ever found it
necessary to keep in suspense.

I said they were not all as pictorial as Mr. Malt, and noticed that his
eye was wandering. It had wandered to Miss Callis, who was snubbing the
Count, and looking wonderfully well. I don't know whether I have
mentioned that she had blue eyes and black hair, but her occupation, of
course, would be becoming to anybody.

"And for the matter of that your country-women, too," said Mr.
Mafferton. "I am much gratified to have the opportunity of making the
acquaintance of another of them in this unexpected way. I find your
friend, Miss Callis, a charming creature."

She wasn't my friend, but the moment did not seem opportune for saying
so.

"I saw you talking a good deal to her yesterday," I said.

Mr. Mafferton twisted his moustache with a look of guilty satisfaction
which I found hard to bear. "Must I cry _Peccavi_?" he said. "You see
you were so--er--preoccupied. You said you would rather hear about the
growth of the Swiss Confederacy and its relation to the Helvetia of the
Ancients another day."

"That was quite true," I said indignantly.

"I found Miss Callis anxious to be informed without delay," said Mr.
Mafferton, with a slightly rebuking accent. "She has a very open mind,"
he went on musingly.

"Oh, wonderfully," I said.

"And a highly retentive memory. It seems she was shown over our place in
Surrey last summer. She described it to me in the most perfect detail.
She must be very observant."

"She's as observant as ever she can be," I remarked. "I expect she could
describe you in the most perfect detail too, if she tried." I sweetened
this with an exterior smile, but I felt extremely rude inside.

"Oh, I fear I could not flatter myself--but how interesting that would
be! One has always had a desire to know the impression one makes as a
whole, so to speak, upon a fresh and unsophisticated young intelligence
like that."

"Well," I said, "there isn't any reason why you shouldn't find out at
once." For the Count had melted away, and Miss Callis was not nearly so
much occupied with her novel as she appeared to be.

Mr. Mafferton rose, and again stroked his moustache, with a quizzical
disciplinary air.

   "Oh woman, in your hours of ease
   Uncertain, coy, and hard to please!"

He quoted. "You are a very whimsical young lady, but since you send me
away I must abandon you."

"Thanks so much!" I said. "I mean--I have myself to blame, I know," and
as Mr. Mafferton dropped into the seat opposite Miss Callis I saw Mrs.
Portheris regard him austerely, as one for whom it was possible to make
too much allowance.

In connection with Heidelberg I wish there were something authentic to
say about Perkeo; but nobody would believe the quantity of wine he is
supposed to have drunk in a day, which is the statement oftenest made
about him, so it is of no consequence that I have forgotten the number
of bottles. He isn't the patron saint of Heidelberg, because he only
lived about a hundred and fifty years ago, and the first qualification
for a patron saint is antiquity. As poppa says, there may be elderly
gentlemen in Heidelberg now whose grandfathers have warned them against
the personal habits of Perkeo from actual observation. Also we know that
he was a court jester, and the pages of the Calendar, for some reason,
are closed to persons in that walk of life. Judging by the evidences of
his popularity that survive on all sides, Mr. Malt declared that he was
probably worth more to the town in attracting residents and investors
than half-a-dozen patron saints, and in this there may have been more
truth than reverence. The Elector Charles Philip, whose court he jested
for, certainly made no such mark upon his town and time as Perkeo did,
and in that, perhaps, there is a moral for sovereigns, although the
Senator advises me not to dwell upon it. At all events, one writes of
Heidelberg but one thinks of Perkeo, as he swings from the sign-boards
of the Haupt-Strasse, and stands on the lids of the beer mugs, and
smiles from the extra-mural decoration of the wine shops, and lifts his
glass, in eternally good wooden fellowship, beside the big Tun in the
Castle cellar. There is a Hotel Perkeo, there must be Clubs Perkeo,
probably a suburb and steamboats of the same name, and the local oath
"Per Perkeo!" has a harmless sound, but nothing could be more binding
in Heidelberg. Momma thought his example a very unfortunate one for a
University town, but the rest of us were inclined to admire Perkeo as a
self-made man and a success. As Dicky protested he had made the fullest
use of the capacities Nature had given him, it was evident from his
figure that he had even developed them, and what more profitable course
should the German youth follow? He was cheerful everywhere--as the
forerunner of the comic paper one supposes he had to be--but most
impressive in his effigy by his master's wine vat, in the perpetual
aroma that most inspired him, where, by a mechanical arrangement inside
him, he still makes a joke of sorts, in somewhat graceless aspersion of
the methods of the professional humorists. Emmeline found him very like
her father, and confided her impression to Mrs. Malt. "But of course,"
she added condoningly, "poppa was different when you married him."

Perkeo was not so sentimental as the Trumpeter of Sakkingen, and the
Trumpeter of Sakkingen was not so sentimental as the Heidelberg
University student. The Heidelberg University student was as a rule very
round and very young, and he seemed to give up the whole of his spare
time to imitating the passion which I hope has not been permitted to
enter too largely into this book of travels.

Dicky and I agreed that it was a mere imitation; that is, Dicky said it
was and I agreed. It could not possibly amount to anything more, for it
consisted wholly in walking up and down in front of the house in which
its object lived. We saw it being done, and it looked so uninteresting
that we failed to realise what it meant until we inquired. Mrs.
Portheris's nephew, Mr. Jarvis Portheris, who was acquiring German in
Heidelberg, told us about it. Mrs. Portheris's nephew was just fourteen
and small of his age, but he, too, had selected the lady of his
admiration, and was taking regular daily pedestrian exercise in front of
her residence. He pointed out the residence, and observed with an
enormous frown that "another man" had usurped the pavement in his
absence, and was doing it in quick step doubtless to show his ardour.
"He's a beastly German too," said Mrs. Portheris's nephew, "so I can't
challenge him, but I'll jolly well punch his head."

"Come on," said Dicky, "you'd better steady your nerves," and treated
him liberally to ginger-beer and currant buns; but we were not allowed
to see the encounter, which Mr. Jarvis Portheris, gratefully satiate,
assured us must be conducted on strict lines of etiquette, with formal
preliminaries. He was so very young, and obviously knew so little about
what he was doing, that we questioned him with some delicacy, but we
discovered that the practice had no parallel, as Dicky put it, for lack
of incident. It was accompanied in some cases by the writing of poetry,
"German poetry, of course," said Mrs. Portheris's nephew ineffably, but
even that was more likely to be exhibited as evidence of the writer's
fervid state of mind than to be sent to its object, who plaited her
hair and attended to her domestic duties as if nobody were in the street
but the fishmonger. In Mr. Jarvis Portheris's case he did not know the
colour of her eyes, or the number of her years; he had selected her, it
seemed, at a venture, in church, from a rear view, sitting; and had
never seen her since. Dicky, whose predilections of this sort have
always been very active, asked him seriously why he adhered to such a
hollow mockery, and he said regretfully that a fellow more or less had
to; it was one of the beastly nuisances of being educated abroad. But
from what we saw of the German temperament generally we were convinced
that as a native demonstration it was sincere, and that its idiocy arose
only, as Dicky expressed it, from the remarkable lack in foreigners of
business capacity.

We all congratulated ourselves on seeing Heidelberg while the University
was in session, and we could observe the large fat students in flat blue
and pink and green club caps, swaggering about the town accompanied by
dogs of almost equal importance. The largest and fattest, I thought,
wore white caps, and, though Mr. Jarvis Portheris said that white was
the most aristocratic club's colour, they looked remarkably like bakers.
The Senator had an object in Heidelberg, as he had in so many places,
and that object was to investigate the practice of duelling, which
everybody understands to prevail to a deadly extent among the students.
It was plain from their appearance that personal assault at all events
was regrettably common, for nearly everyone of them wore traces of it
in their faces, wore them as if they were particularly becoming. Every
variety of scar that could well be imagined was represented, some
healed, some healing, and some freshly gory. The youth with the most
scars, we observed, gave himself the most airs, and the really
vainglorious were, more or less, obscured in cotton-wool, evidently just
from the hands of the surgeon. The Senator examined them individually as
they passed, with an inquisitiveness which they plainly enjoyed, and was
much impressed with their fighting qualities as a race, until Mr. Jarvis
Portheris happened to explain that the scars were very carefully given
and received with an almost exclusive view to personal adornment. Mr.
Mafferton appeared to have known this before; but that was an irritating
way he had--none of the rest of us did. The Senator regarded the next
youth he met, who had elongated his mouth to run up into his ear without
adding in the least to his charms of appearance, with barely disguised
contempt, and when Mr. Jarvis Portheris proceeded to explain how the
doctors pulled open the cuts if they promised to heal without leaving
any sign of valour, poppa's impatience with the noble army of duellists
grew so great that he could hardly remain in Heidelberg till the train
was ready to take him away.

"But don't they ever by _accident_ do themselves any harm?" inquired my
disappointed parent.

"There's one case on record," said Mr. Jarvis Portheris, "and everybody
here says it's true. One fellow that was fighting happened to have a
dog, and the dog was allowed in. Well, the other fellow, by accident,
sliced off the end of the fellow that had the dog's nose--I don't mean
the dog's nose, you know, but the fellow's. That was going a bit far,
you know; they don't generally go so far. Well, the doctor said that
would be all right, they could easily make it grow on again; but when
they looked for the nose--_the dog had eaten it!_ They never allow dogs
in now."

It was a simple little story, and it bore marks of unmistakable age and
many aliases, but it did much to reconcile the Senator to the University
student of Heidelberg, and especially to his dog.



CHAPTER XXVI.


Emmeline had childlike lapses; she rejoiced greatly, for instance, at
seeing a Strasbourg stork. She confessed, when she saw it, to having
read Hans Andersen when she was a little girl, and was happy in the
resemblance of the tall chimneys he stood on, and the high-pitched red
roofs he surveyed, to the pictures she remembered. But, for that matter,
so were we all. We had an hour and a half at Strasbourg, and we drove,
of course, to the Cathedral; but it was the stork that we saw, and that
each of us privately considered the really valuable impression. He stood
beside his nest with his chin sunk in his neck, looking immensely lucky
and wise, and one quite agreed with Emmeline that it must be lovely to
live under him.

We lunched at the station, and, as the meal progressed, saw again how
widespread and sincere is the German sentiment to which I alluded,
perhaps too lightly, in the last chapter. Our waitresses were all that
could be desired, until there came between us and them a youth from
parts without. He was sallow, and the waitresses were buxom; he might
have been a student of law or medicine, they were naturally of much
lower degree. But they frankly forsook us and sat down beside him in
terms of devotion and an open aspect of radiant happiness. When one went
to draw his lager beer he put an unrepelled arm round the waist of the
other, and when the first came back he chucked her under the chin with
undisguised affection, the while we looked on and starved, none knowing
the language except Isabel, who thought of nothing but blushing. As Mr.
Malt said, if the young man could only have made up his mind, we might
have been able to get along with the rejected one; but, apparently, he
was not in the least embarrassed by numbers, sending a large and
beguiling smile to yet a further hand-maiden, who passed enviously
through the _speise-salle_ with a basin of soup. It was only when Dicky
stalked across to the old woman who sold sausages and biscuits behind a
counter, and pointed indignantly to the person who held all the
available table service of the Strasbourg railway station on his knees,
that we obtained redress. The old woman laughed as if it were amusing,
and called the maidens shrilly; but even then they came with reluctance,
as if we had been mere schnapps instead of ten complete luncheons, one
soup, and a bread and cheese, as Dicky said. The bread and cheese was
the Count, and one gathered from it that the improvement in his
immediate prospects was not yet assured, that the arrangimento was still
in futuro.

We had become such a large party, that it is impossible to relate the
whole of our experiences even in the half hour during which we dawdled
round the Strasbourg waiting-room until the train should start. I know
it was then, for instance, that Mrs. Portheris took Dicky aside and told
him how deeply she sympathised with him in his trying position, and bade
him only be faithful to the dictates of his own heart and all would come
right in time. I know Dicky promised faithfully to do so, but I must not
dwell upon it. Nor is the opportunity adequate to express the
indignation we all felt, and not Mr. Mafferton merely, at the
insufficient personal impression we made upon the German railway
officials. They were so completely preoccupied with their magnificent
selves and their vast business that they were unable even to look at us
when we asked them questions, and their sole conception of a reply was
an order, in terms that sounded brutal to a degree. They were
objectionably burly and red in the face; they wore an offensive number
of buttons and straps upon their uniforms. As Mr. Mafferton said, they
utterly misconceived their position in life, attempting to Kaiser the
travelling public by Divine right instead of recognising themselves as
humble servants, buttoned only to be made more agreeable to the eye.

One such person trampled upon us to such an extent that I have never
been able to satisfy myself that the Senator was sincere in making his
little mistake. We were sitting in dejected rows, with a number of other
foreigners who had been similarly reduced, when this official entered
the waiting-room, advanced to the middle of it, posed with great
majesty, and emitted several bars of a kind of chant or chime. It was
delivered with too much vigour, and it stopped too abruptly, to be
entirely enjoyable; but there was no doubt about the musical intention.
It was not even intoning; it was singing, beginning with moderation,
going on stronger with indignation, and ending suddenly in a crescendo
of denunciation.

We smiled in difficult self-restraint as he went away, and Dicky
remarked that he supposed we were in their hands, we couldn't object to
anything they did to us. In five minutes he came back to exactly the
same spot and sang again the same words, in the same key, with the same
unction. "Encore!" exclaimed Mr. Malt boldly, but cowered under the
glare that was turned upon him, and utterly fell away when we reminded
him of the punishments attached in Germany to the charge of _lèse
majesté_. Precisely five minutes more passed away, and Bawlinbuttons, as
Miss Callis called him, entered again. Then occurred the Senator's
little mistake. In the midst of the second bar, the indignant one,
Bawlinbuttons stopped short, petrified by poppa, who had advanced and
was holding out copper coins whose usefulness we had left behind us, to
the value of about fifteen cents.

"Here's the collection," said poppa benevolently--for an instant or two
he was quite audible--"but unless you know some other tune the company
wish me to say that they won't trouble you any further."

There are misunderstandings that are never rectified, sometimes because
a train draws up at the platform as in this case, and sometimes for
other reasons, and it was natural enough that poppa should fail to
comprehend Bawlinbuttons' indignant shouts to the effect that a Kaiser
should never be mistaken for an organ-grinder, merely because his tastes
are musical. Neither is it likely that the various Teutons who were
waiting for the information will ever understand why the announcement
that the train for Saarburg, Nancy, Frankfort, and Mayence would leave
at ten o'clock precisely was never completed for the third time,
according to the regulation. But we have often wondered since what
Bawlinbuttons did with the coppers.

We divided up on the way to Mayence, and Mr. and Mrs. Malt came into
the compartment with the Senator, momma, and me. Mr. Malt was
unsatisfied with poppa's revenge on Bawlinbuttons, and proposed to make
things awkward further for the guard. He said it could be done very
simply, by a disagreement between himself and the Senator as to whether
the windows should be open or shut. He said he had heard of a German
guard put to the most enjoyable misery by such a dispute, not knowing
the language of the disputants and being forced to arbitrate upon their
respective demands. Mr. Malt had laughed at the Senator's joke, so the
Senator, of course, had to assist at Mr. Malt's, and they began to work
themselves up, as Mr. Malt said, into the spirit of it. Mr. Malt was to
insist that the windows should be shut, he said he _had_ got a trifling
cold, and the Senator was to require them open in the interests of
ventilation. They rehearsed their arguments, and momma putting her head
out of the window at the first small station cried, "Be quick and change
your expressions--he's coming!"

In the presence of the guard Mr. Malt rose with dignity and closed the
windows. The Senator, with a well-simulated scowl, at once opened them
both.

"Stranger!" said Mr. Malt, while momma fumbled for her ticket, "I shut
those windows."

"Sir," responded poppa, "if you had not done so I shouldn't have been
obliged to open them."

"I can't die of pneumonia, sir," said Mr. Malt, again closing the
window, "to oblige _you_."

"Nor do I feel compelled," returned the Senator furiously, "to
asphyxiate my family to make it comfortable for you!" and the window
fell with a bang.

The guard, holding out a massive hand for my ticket, took no notice
whatever.

"Put it up again," said Mrs. Malt, who was more anxious than any of us
to avenge herself upon the German railway system, "and try to break the
glass."

"Attract his attention, Alexander," said momma. "Pull one of his silly
buttons off."

The guard gave no sign--he was replacing the elastic round my book of
coupons after detaching the green one on which was printed, "Strasburg
nach Mainz."

Poppa and Mr. Malt were sitting opposite each other in the middle of
the carriage.

"I tell you I've got bronchial trouble, and I won't be manslaughtered,"
cried Mr. Malt, hurling himself upon the strap, while poppa seized the
guard by the arm and pointed to the closed window. The only foreign
language with which poppa is acquainted is that used by the Indians on
the banks of the Saguenay river, a few words of which he acquired while
salmon fishing there two years ago. These he poured forth upon the
guard--they were the only ones that occurred to him, he said--at the
same time threatening with his disengaged fist bodily assault upon Mr.
Malt.

"That ought to draw him," said Mrs. Malt.

It did draw him.

"Leave go!" he said to poppa, and his air of authority was such that
poppa left go. "Is this here a lunatic party, or a young menagerie, or
what? Now look here," he continued, taking Mr. Malt by the elbow and
seating him with some violence in a corner seat and shutting the window.
"If you've got eight tickets for yourself say so, if you haven't that's
as much an' more than you are entitled to. The other gentleman----" But
the Senator had already collapsed into the furthest corner and was
looking fixedly through the closed glass. "Well, all I've got to say
is," he went on, lowering that window with decision, "that you can't go
kickin' up rows in this country same as you do at home, an' if you can't
get along more satisfactory together I'll----" here something interrupted
him, requiring to be transferred from the Senator's hand to the nearest
convenient pocket. "As I was goin' to say, gentlemen, there isn't any what
you might call strict rule about the windows, an' as far as I'm concerned,
you can settle it for yourselves."

Whereupon he swung along to the next carriage, the train having started,
and left us to reflect on the incongruity of an English railway guard in
Germany.

It was curious, but the incident left behind it a certain coolness, so
well defined that when momma suggested that the Malts' window should be
lowered as it was before to give us a current of air, Mrs. Malt said she
thought it would be better to abide by the decision of the guard, now
that we had referred it to him, and momma said, "Oh dear me, yes," if
she preferred to do so, and everybody established the most aggressively
private relations with books and newspapers. It was quite a relief when
Mrs. Portheris came at the next station to inquire whether, if we had no
married Germans in our compartment, we could possibly make room for
Isabel. Mrs. Portheris had married Germans in her compartment, two pairs
of them, and she could no longer permit her daughter to observe their
behaviour. "They obtrude their domestic relations," said Mrs. Portheris,
"in the most disgusting way. They are continually patting each other.
Quite middle-aged, too! And calling each other 'Leibchen,' and other
things which may be worse. My poor Isabel is dreadfully embarrassed,
for, of course, she can't always look out of the window. And as she
understands the language, I can't possibly tell _what_ she may
overhear!"

We made room for Isabel, but the train to Mayence was crowded that day,
and before we arrived we had ample reason to believe that conjugal
affection is not only at home but abroad in Germany. The Senator, at one
point, threatened to travel on the engine to avoid it. He used, I think
the language of exaggeration about it. He said it was the most
objectionable article made in Germany. But I did not notice that Isabel
devoted herself at all seriously to looking out of the window.



CHAPTER XXVII.


"He tells me," said Miss Callis, "that you are to give him his answer at
Cologne."

"Does he, indeed?" said I. We were floating down the Rhine in the
society of our friends, two hundred and fifty other floaters, and a
string band. We had left the battlements of Bingen, and the Mouse Tower
was in sight. As we had already acquired the legend, and were sitting
behind the smoke stack, there was no reason why we should not discuss
Mr. Mafferton.

"I suppose he does not, by any chance, mention an alternative lady," I
said carelessly.

"I don't know," said Miss Callis, "that I should be disposed to listen
to him if he did. He would have to put it in some other light."

"Why should you object?" I asked. "Isabel is quite a proper person to
marry him. Much more so, I often think, than I."

"Oh!" said Miss Callis without meaning to. "I think he has outgrown that
taste. In fact, he told me so."

"He is for ever seeking a fresh bosom for a confidence!" I cried.

Miss Callis looked at me with more interest than she would have wished
to express.

"What do you really think of him?" she asked. "I sometimes feel as if I
had known you for years," and she took my hand.

I gave hers a gentle pressure, and edged a little nearer. "He has good
shoulders," I remarked critically.

"You would hardly marry him for his _shoulders_!"

"It doesn't seem quite enough," I admitted, "but then--his information
is always so accurate."

"If you think you would like living with an encyclopedia." Miss Callis
had begun to look embarrassed by my hand, but I still permitted it to
nestle confidingly in hers.

"He pronounces all his g's," I said, "and--did you ever see him in a
silk hat?"

"I don't think you are really attached to him, dear." (The "dear" was a
really creditable sacrifice to the situation.)

"I sometimes think," I murmured, "that one never knows one's own heart
until some sudden circumstance puts it to the test. Now if I had a
rival--in you, for instance--and I suddenly saw myself losing--but, of
course, that is impossible so far as you are concerned. Because of the
Count."

"The Count isn't in it," said Miss Callis firmly. "At least at present."

"But," I protested, "somebody must provide for him! I was so happy in
the thought that you had undertaken it."

Miss Callis gave me back my hand. She looked as if she would have liked
to throw it overboard.

"As you say," she said, "it is a little difficult to make up one's mind.
Don't you think those rocks to the right may be the Lorelei? I must go
and tell Mrs. Malt. She won't be fit to travel with for a week if she
misses the Lorelei." And Miss Callis left me to reflect upon the
inconsistencies of my sex.

"Do you realise," said Dicky, as, with an assumed air of nonchalance, he
sauntered up and took her chair, "that we shall be in Cologne in five
hours?"

"Fateful Cologne," I said. "There are Roman remains, I believe, as well
as the Cathedral and the scent. Also a Museum of Industrial Art, but
we'll skip that."

"We'll skip all of it," replied Mr. Dod, with determination, "you and I
and Isabel. The train for Paris leaves at nine precisely."

"Haven't you made up your minds to let me off," I pleaded. "I am sure
you would be happier alone. It's so unusual to elope with two ladies."

"You don't seem to realise how Isabel has been brought up," Dicky
returned patiently. "She can't travel alone with me, don't you see,
until we are married. Afterwards she'll chaperone you back to your party
again. So it will be all right for _you_, don't you see?"

I was obliged to say I saw, and we arranged the details. We would reach
Cologne about six, and Isabel and I, who would share a room as usual,
were secretly to pack one bag between us, which Dicky would smuggle out
of the hotel and send to the station. Isabel was to be fatigued and dine
in her room; I was to leave the _table d'hôte_ early to solace her,
Dicky was to dine at a _café_ and meet us at the station. We would put
out the lights and lock the door of the apartment on our departure, and
the chambermaid with hot water in the morning would be the first to
discover our flight. We only regretted that we could not be there to see
the astonishment of the chambermaid. "I won't fail you," I assured Mr.
Dod, "but what about Isabel? Isabel is essential; in fact, I won't
consent to this elopement without her."

"Isabel," said Dicky dubiously, "is all right, so far as her intentions
go. But she'd be the better for a little stiffening. Would you mind----"

I groaned in spirit, but went in search of Isabel, thinking of phrases
that might stiffen her. I found her looking undecided, with a pencil and
a slip of paper.

"How lucky you are," I said diplomatically, sinking into the nearest
chair, "to be going to wind up your trip on the Continent in such a
delightful way. It will be--ah--something to remember all your life."

"Oh, I suppose so," said Isabel plaintively, "but I should _so_ much
prefer to be done in church. If mamma would only consent!"

"She never would," I declared, for I felt that I must see Isabel Mrs.
Dod within the next day or two at all costs.

"A registry office sounds so uninteresting. I suppose one just goes--as
one is."

"I don't think veils and trains are worn," I observed, "except by
persons of high rank who do not approve of the marriage service. I don't
know what the Marquis of Queensberry might do, or Mr. Grant Allen."

"Of course, the ceremony doesn't matter to _them_," replied Isabel
intelligently, "because they would just wear morning dress _anywhere_."

"Looking at it that way, they haven't much to lose," I conceded.

"And no wedding cake," grieved Isabel, "and no reception at the house of
the bride's mother. And you can't have your picture in the _Queen_."

"There would be a difficulty," I said, "about the descriptive part."

"And no favours for the coachman, and no trousseau----"

"I wonder," I said, "whether, under those circumstances, it's really
worth while."

"Oh, well!" said Isabel.

"It's a night to Paris, and a morning to Dover," I said. "We will wait
for the others at Dover--I fancy they'll hurry--that'll be another day.
I'll take one _robe de nuit_, Isabel, three pocket handkerchiefs, one
brush and comb, and tooth brush. You shall have all the rest of the
bag."

"You are a perfect love," exclaimed Miss Portheris, with the most
touching gratitude.

"We will share the soap," I continued, "until you are married.
Afterwards----"

"Oh, you can have it then," said Isabel, "of course," and she looked at
the Castle of Rheinfels and blushed beautifully.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


"There was only one thing that disappointed me," Mrs. Malt was saying at
the dinner table of the Cologne hotel, "and that wasn't so much what you
would call a disappointment as a surprise. White windows-blinds in a
robber castle on the Rhine I did not expect to see."

I slipped away before momma had time to announce and explain her
disappointments, but I heard her begin. Then I felt safe, for criticism
of the Rhine is absorbing matter for conversation. The steamer's custom
of giving one stewed plums with chicken is an affront to civilisation to
last a good twenty minutes by myself. I tried to occupy and calm
Isabel's mind with it as we walked over to the station, under the twin
towers of the Cathedral, but with indifferent success. To add to her
agitation at this crisis of her life, the top button came off her glove,
and when that happened I felt the inutility of words.

We passed the policemen on the Cathedral square with affected
indifference. We believed we were not liable to arrest, but policemen,
when one is eloping, have a forbidding look. We refrained, by mutual
arrangement, from turning once to look back for possible pursuers, but
that is not a thing I would undertake to do again under similar
circumstances. We even had the hardihood to buy a box of chocolates on
the way, that is, Isabel bought them, while I watched current events at
the confectioner's door. The station was really only about seven
minutes' walk from the hotel, but it seemed an hour before I was able to
point out Dicky, alert and expectant, on the edge of the platform behind
the line of cabs.

"So near the fulfilment of his hopes, poor fellow," I remarked.

"Yes," concurred Isabel, "but do you know I almost wish he wasn't
coming."

"Don't tell him so, whatever you do," I exclaimed. "I know Dicky's
sensitive nature, and it is just as likely as not that he would take you
at your word. And I will not elope with you alone."

I need not have been alarmed. Isabel had no intention of reducing the
party at the last moment. I listened for protests and hesitations when
they met, but all I heard was, "_Have_ you got the bag?"

Dicky had the bag, the tickets, the places, everything. He had already
assumed, though only a husband of to-morrow, the imperative and
responsible connection with Isabel's arrangements. He told her she was
to sleep with her head toward the engine, that she was to drink nothing
but soda-water at any of the stations, and that she must not, on any
account, leave the carriage when we changed for Paris until he came for
her. It would be my business to see that these instructions were
carried out.

"What shall I do," I asked, "if she cries in the night?"

But Dicky was sweeping us toward the waiting-room, and did not hear me.
He placed us carefully in the seats nearest the main door, which opened
upon the departure platform, full of people hurrying to and fro, and of
the more leisurely movement of shunting trains. The lamps were lighted,
though twilight still hung about; the scene was pleasantly exciting. I
said to Isabel that I never thought I should enjoy an elopement so much.

"_I_ shall enjoy settling down," she replied thoughtfully. "Dicky has
promised me that all the china shall be hand-painted."

"You won't mind my leaving you for five seconds," said Mr. Dod, suddenly
exploring his breast-pocket; "the train doesn't leave for a quarter of
an hour yet, and I find I haven't a smoke about me," and he opened the
door.

"Not more that five seconds then," I said, for nothing is more trying to
the nerves than to wait for a train which is due in a few minutes and a
man who is buying cigars at the same time.

Dicky left the door open, and that was how I heard a strangely familiar
voice, with an inflexion of enforced calm and repression, suddenly
address him from behind it.

"_Good evening, Dod!_"

I did not shriek, or even grasp Isabel's hand. I simply got up and
stood a little nearer the door. But I have known few moments so
electrical.

"My dear chap, how _are_ you?" exclaimed Dicky. "How are you? Staying in
Cologne? I'm just off to Paris."

I thought I heard a heavy sigh, but it was somewhat lost in the
trundling of the porters' trucks.

"Then," said Arthur Page, for I had not been deceived, "it is as I
supposed."

"What did you suppose, old chap?" asked Dicky in a joyous and expansive
tone.

"You do not go alone?"

The bitterness of this was not a thing that could be communicated to
paper and ink.

"Why, no," said Dicky, "the fact is----"

I saw the wave--it was characteristic--with which Mr. Page stopped him.
"I have been made acquainted with the facts," he said. "Do not dwell
upon them. I do not, cannot, blame you, if you have really won her
heart."

"So far as I know," said Dicky, with some hauteur, "there's nothing in
it to give _you_ the hump."

"Why waste time in idle words?" replied Arthur. "You will lose your
train. I could never forgive myself if I were the cause of that."

"You won't be," said Dicky sententiously, looking at his watch.

"But I must ask--must demand--the privilege of one parting word," said
Arthur firmly. "Do not be apprehensive of any painful scene. I desire
only to wish her every happiness, and to bid her farewell."

Mr. Dod, though on the eve of his wedding day, was not wholly oblivious
of the love affairs of other people. I could see a new-born and
overwhelming comprehension of the situation in his face as he put his
head in at the door and beckoned to Isabel. Evidently he could not trust
himself to speak.

"Miss Portheris," he said, with magnificent self-control, "Mr. Page. Mr.
Page would like to wish you every happiness and to bid you farewell,
Isabel, and I don't see why he shouldn't. We have still five minutes."

There are limits to the propriety of all practical jokes, and I walked
out at once to assure Arthur that his misunderstanding was quite
natural, and somewhat less exquisitely humorous than Mr. Dod appeared to
find it.

"I am merely eloping too," I said, "in case anything should happen to
Isabel." Realising that this was also being misinterpreted, I added,
"She is not accustomed to travelling alone."

We had shaken hands, and that always makes a situation more normal, but
there was still plainly an enormous amount to clear up, and painfully
little time to do it in, though Dicky with great consideration
immediately put Isabel into the carriage and followed her to its
remotest corner, leaving me standing at the door, and Arthur holding it
open. The second bell rang as I learned from Mr. Page that the
Pattersons had gone to Newport this summer, and that it was extremely
hot in New York when he left. As the guard came along the platform
shutting up the doors of the train, Arthur's agitation increased, and I
saw that his customary suffering in connection with me, was quite as
great as anybody could desire. The guard had skipped our carriage, but
it was already vibrating in departure--creaking--moving. I looked at
Arthur in a manner--I confess it--which annihilated our two months of
separation.

"Then since you're not going to marry Dod," he inquired breathlessly,
walking along with the train--"I've heard various reports--whom, may I
ask, _are_ you going to marry?"

"Why, nobody," I said, "unless----"

"Well, I should think so!" ejaculated Arthur, and in spite of the
frightful German language used by the guard, he jumped into the
carriage.

He has maintained ever since that he was obliged to do it in order to
explain his presence on the platform, which was, of course, carrying the
matter to its logical conclusion. It seemed that the Senator had advised
him to come over and meet us accidentally in Venice, where he had
intimated that reunion would be only a question of privacy and a full
moon. On his arrival at Venice--it was _his_ gondola that we shared--the
Senator had discouraged him for the moment, and had since constantly
telegraphed him that the opportune moment had not yet arrived. Finally
poppa had written to say that, though he grieved to announce that I
was engaged to Dicky, and he could not guarantee any disengagement, he
was still operating to that end. This, however, precipitated Mr. Page to
Cologne, where observation of our movements at a distance brought him to
the wrong conclusion, but fortunately to the right platform. As Isabel
remarked, if such things were put in books nobody would believe them.

[Illustration: "Whom _are_ you going to marry?"]

It seemed quite unreasonable and absurd when we talked it over that
Arthur and I should travel from Cologne to Dover merely to witness the
nuptials of Dicky and Isabel. As Dicky pointed out, moreover, our moral
support when it came to the interview with Mrs. Portheris would be much
more valuable if it were united. There would be the registrar--one
registrar would do--and there would be the opportunity of making it a
square party. These were Dicky's arguments; Arthur's were more personal
but equally convincing, and I must admit that I thought a good deal of
the diplomatic anticipation of that magnificent wedding which was to
illustrate and adorn the survival of the methods of the Doge of Venice
in the family of a Senator of Chicago. And thus it was that we were all
married sociably together in Dover the following morning, despatching a
telegram immediately afterwards to the Senator at the Cologne hotel as
follows:

     "We have eloped.
                       (Signed) R. and I. Dod.
                                 A. and M. Page."

Later on in the day we added details, to show that we bore no malice,
and announced that we were prepared to await the arrival of the rest of
the party for any length of time at Dover.

We even went down to the station to meet them, where recriminations and
congratulations were so mingled that it was impossible, for some time,
to tell whether we were most blessed or banned. Even in the confusion of
the moment, however, I noticed that Mr. Mafferton made Miss Callis's
baggage his special care, and saw clearly in the cordiality of her
sentiments toward me, and the firmness of her manner in ordering him
about, that the future peer had reached his last alternative.

I rejoice to add that the day also showed that even Count Filgiatti had
fallen, in the general ordering of fates, upon happiness with honour. I
noticed that Emmeline vigorously protected him from the Customs officer
who wished to confiscate his cigarettes, and I mentioned her air of
proprietorship to her father.

"Why, yes," said Mr. Malt, "he offered himself as a count you see, and
Emmeline seemed to think she'd like to have one, so I closed with him.
There isn't anything likely to come of it for three or four years, but
he's willing to wait, and she's got to grow."

I expressed my felicitations, and Mr. Malt added somewhat regretfully
that it would have been better if he'd had more in his clothes, but that
was what you had to expect with counts; as a rule they didn't seem to
have what you might call any money use for pockets. In the meantime
they were taking him home to educate him in the duties of American
citizenship. Emmeline put it to me briefly, "I'm not any Daisy Miller,"
she said, "and I prefer to live out of Rome."

Once a year the present Lady Mafferton invites Mrs. Portheris to tea,
and I know they discuss my theory of engagements in a critical spirit.
We have never seen either Miss Nancy or Miss Cora Bingham again, and I
should have forgotten the names of Mr. Pabbley and Mr. Hinkson by this
time if I had not written them down in earlier chapters. Arthur and I
have not yet made up our minds to another visit to England. We have
several friends there, however, whom we appreciate exceedingly, in
spite, as we often say to one another, of their absurd and deplorable
accent.


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